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My dog is staring down a hole!
By Martin Tipton

    Every trapper knows the feeling. It is almost as if God made that special place just forthem. This spot, which may be in a wooded lot tangled with growth or a chiseled cornfield after the harvest, is the perfect set. The feeling of success just radiates away from this  spot, without even making the set. If for some reason, the trapper couldn’t set this location, he still comes away with the sense of fulfillment.

    Through my trials and tribulations of trapping the wily canines, I have made several hundred sets. Each set had its place, some connected, and some didn’t, but catch or not, none of them ever compared to this set. This set was at the base of a rotting stump. God even provided the dirt hole for me. All that was left to do was bed the trap and move on. The small exposed roots of the Oak long since past, even provided a natural funnel for any approaching fox. Though large in diameter, the tree had been cut close to the ground. Its use as a squirrel dinner table was evident by the old nut hulls that littered its surface. At this particular site, the wind was even in my favor. The breeze, no matter how fierce or calm, would still carry my attractants back across the open field, where any traveling fox would encounter it.

    With deliberate movements, I quickly prepared the trap bed. No antifreeze was needed; the meteorologist on TV forecasted a high of upper forties for the rest of the week. I left as fast as I came in, taking barely enough time to apply the scents. Bait down the hole, with a splash of urine on the stump completed the set. Before leaving, I stopped to take one final look. In less than three minutes, I was able to put in an absolute dynamite set. I was confident that no fox would be able to resist such a set. Visions of fox lining up for their turn to peek down that hole danced in my head the rest of the day.

    Like every trapper, I lay in bed that night going over every set mentally. Had I taken to long at this set, used too much urine at that set, or forgot to put guides at the other set?  It is almost amazing how a person can lie down at night and course through their entire line. Now matter how many sets, or how long it took to put in, each set is there in all its glory, full of detail and color. A sleepless night passed and I was back on the line at dawn. To my dismay, the perfect set had failed to connect.

    I didn’t let this get me down though. In my mind, a fox could not resist such a set, so in all reality, a fox was never in that field last night. The next couple of hours were spent checking the remaining sets, and putting in new ones. Lunchtime found me at home going through all the locations, which needed to be set before dark. On my way back down the road, a neighbor flagged me down. This neighbor, who is also the landowner where my perfect set lives, was out for a stroll. With panicked eyes, I listened to her story of how her dog, a 200 pound rottweiler, was staring down a hole in front of a stump. She informed me that she called to him, but the dog only wined and stared intently down that hole for some reason.  Mind you, my set was at least 100 yards away from that road, and this is a small country road where approximately 10 houses are planted. The distance between her house and mine is a mile and a half, and is covered entirely by fields, trees, and cliffs.

    Being the good neighbor, I told her that I would check on the dog on my way out. To her, I was just being friendly and concerned for the dog’s mental state, which was questionable since he didn’t want to leave that hole. For the life of me, I don’t know why I ran to that dog. I didn’t even need to look at the dog to know exactly what the scene was going to hold.  Just as I pictured, there set that dog, a dog with a reputation of trying to bite people, held firmly in my new fox trap. I have come to figure out that no matter how long you clench your eyes and curse, jump around and scream like your crazy you can’t make stuff disappear.  After that all failed, I resorted to finding a way to get that dog out of the possibly incriminating situation he was putting me in.

    As I moved closer, the hair on the back of my neck started raising higher. I was thanking my lucky stars when the dog responded to my soft talking by sitting down and lifting his leg up. With such a large dog, I don’t guess it was in any pain, moor less detained. He let me scratch his head, then his leg, then finally touch the trap without making a sound. Now here is a real dilemma, taking the trap off this dog would now be easy, but what happens when the trap is off? Thankfully, he licked his paw, marked the stump, and trotted off to find his owner.

    With a slight hesitation, I reset that trap. The perfect set never connected again after that dog, despite the fact that it stayed in commission for a month after that incident. Who ever said anything was perfect anyway, aye?