Mink are a fantastic furbearer to go after on your trapline!
Back in the depression years trappers could make some excellent money on their trapline, if they understood how to catch mink. So it is not surprising that trappers from that era did not share their secrets about how to catch mink with every new trapper that came along.
Here is a photo from back in the 1930's, showing a trapper with a very profitable catch of mink. Photo taken from a book "Steel Traps" by A. R. Harding published in 1935.
Even, as recently as the 1950's mink were bringing what would amount to over $500 in today's dollars for one large male mink. So it is easy to see, that a lot of mystery came to surround the seemingly elusive mink. At least in the minds of all the young trappers and even some old trappers.
In fact mink are not that difficult to catch, once you understand some of their basic habits.
Mink are largely a land animal that will also spend a good deal of its hunting time in the water.
They are excellent at catching mice as well as minnows. And seem to spend about an equal amount of time doing both.
They travel mainly along the edges of any river, stream, marsh or lake. And can also be found anywhere that muskrats are plentiful, since they can also easily kill a muskrat.
Finding the sharp claws feathery tracks of a mink in the muddy edge of a stream, is probably the best way to start your education of where mink like to spend their time hunting.
Once you are able to easily identify mink tracks, both in the mud and in the snow, you will be well on your way to becoming an accomplished mink trapper.
Trap Sizes and Types:
Any trap that is suited for muskrats will work fine for mink.
Starting with the # 1 longspring
trap. However, make sure that the springs on your # 1 longsprings are strong and in good condition. Because the trap needs to be very fast to catch the lightning quick mink. Also, it is a good idea to set a pair of strong # 1 longsprings at each mink set to make sure that the mink will not escape, especially if deep water is not available to ensure a quick drowning setup.
By far the best all around mink trap has to be the # 1.5 coilspring
It is a super fast trap and has amazing ability to hold on to a furbearers foot.
It also, is heavy enough to ensure a quick drowning of even the largest mink.
They are compact and easy to bed in even the tightest set locations, as compared to longspring traps.
Therefore, if you are serious about be a mink trapper, then you definitely need to acquire some good # 1.5 coilsprings.
110 & 160 Conibears
are also an excellent mink trap, especially for trail sets and other blind set locations. A blind set is any set where the trapper is not using bait or lure to attract the furbearer. But, is only relying on his knowledge of where the furbearer will be traveling to determine where to place his trap.
Mink, like muskrats are frequently swiming along the bottom edge of the bank of any stream, to travel and to locate food. So any location that would make a good "Bottom Edge Set" for a muskrat, will also be an excellent location to catch a mink. It only takes longer for the set to connect with a traveling mink.
Here is a mink that was caught in a "Bottom Edge Set" made in about 2' deep water at the edge of a steep vertical bank. This 110 conibear set took several muskrats before catching this nice mink.
(See posting below by Seldom on "Bottom Edge Set" for more details on using conibears for mink.)
Fastening Your Trap:
Fastening your traps is by far the most important aspect of trapping that every trapper must master. It is of no value to make an excellent set and caught a furbearer and then lose it due to a poor fastening system.
So, if you are going to use wire to fasten your traps, then it must be at least # 11 guage. If you only can obtain # 14 guage (So called Trapper's wire) then it must be doubled
Try to always make your mink sets where there is sufficient water to allow for quick drowning of the mink. Either rig a slide drowning setup or provide sufficient length of wire to allow the caught mink to reach deep water.
Even a 110 conibear needs to be securely fastened to ensure that the captured furbearer remains close at hand.
Bait and Lures:
I have found the use of lures to be not all that important, when it comes to mink trapping. But a lure with muskrat musk and a little mink musk does seem to add a little appeal to any baited mink set.
In the early part of the mink season the use of fresh fish as a bait is my preferrence. Then, after thing start to freeze up, I normally switch to fresh muskrat for bait.
In a pocket set, place a Q-ball size piece of bait, wrapped in some dry grass and placed at the back of the pocket. This seems to add some eye appeal and also serves to keep the bait a little fresher.
A typical blind set where a mink enters or leaves the water near a tree trunk or exposed root system can be improved by simply rubbing some fresh fish onto the tree trunk in the vicinity of the trap. The mink will dash back and forth trying to find the location of the fish and it improves your chances of making a catch.
Use a small pencil sized stick, stuck into the bank about 3.5" in front of the center of the trap pan, for the mink to jump over. This will help to make sure that he hits your pan dead center.
These are just a few points to get you started on your adventure of catching an elusive mink.
Here is a photo of a "Perfect Location to Catch a Mink".
A close view. Notice the logs that extend out into the stream. Mink like to fish these types of locations. They run along the log and then dive into the water to catch their dinner of minnows. I have seen mink do this numerous times and they always seem to reappear climbing back out on the log with a minnow in their mouth.
Here is a close up view of where the # 1.5 coilspring was set in front of the pocket hole. Notice the wad of dry grass stuck into the pocket hole.
The end result. A nice buck mink caught high on the leg and quickly drown in the three foot deep water under the log jam.
Here is a photo of a nice bunch of mink, that demonstrates the proper way to put up mink. Note that the saddles are left on wild mink to distinguish them from ranch mink. This photo courtesy of Northcountry.
Here is a link to a posting on some more great looking stretched mink: http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/fo...d.php?t=162653