It is the time of year when a squirrel scampering through fallen leaves quickens a hunter’s pulse.
Out west, the elk seasons are open. The snows creeping down the mountains are a reminder of the coming winter. In Illinois, the baying of coon hounds will soon be heard during the cool nights. Some of the sloughs will be frozen very soon, and the howls of coyotes will be heard by duck hunters early on the morning.
Soon it will be trapping season. Most trapping this year will be done as animal damage control with the exception of coyote. Most fashion furs such as mink, muskrat, raccoon and beaver will be heavily discounted by local fur buyers.
In other words, the fur seasons are not worth the gasoline used in your truck or boat. The only fur that is worth the effort is coyote. The trim trade is using a lot of coyote for collars and some cuffs on fashionable coats.
Some good trappers are cashing in on damage control. That is, using their skills to rid animals that are damaging crops or dwellings. Many farmers will pay good money to get rid of raccoons that have set up housing in barns and corn crips. Worst case scenario; raccoons can climb into a house during winter and have their young in an attic or crawlspace. Muskrats can burrow into pond dikes, creating leaks and broken legs on livestock.
Someday our fur prices will rebound, but experts say it may take two to three years for that to happen. Sanctions against Russia and a trade imbalance with China has really hurt the trapper. In addition, the lack of interest in fashion will continue to depress the fur market. That and the lack of cold winters continue to hurt, especially in Russia. They were one of the best purchasers of raccoon fur for warm clothing.
Walleye and sauger are moving into their deep winter holes. Most fish that were caught this week were in 20 to 25 feet of water. Many times that is good, because they are easier to catch lying in large bunches at the bottom of a hole. One must fish very slowly and use live bait to take advantage of this.
The duck season started on October 27. Many hunters are doing well in backwater sloughs. Some good hunting for wood ducks was done the first week of the season. Canada geese were easy to decoy as well early, but it doesn’t take long for them to get educated. Their season came in on October 27 – November 4. It then resumes from Nov. 12 until Jan. 31.
Squirrel hunting is fantastic. Any area near a cornfield or hickory trees are hot spots. Many are taken near creeks as they go for water. Most squirrels are huge now, as the crop of young have grown.