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Antler traps aren't a total failure

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A few weeks ago, I went to great effort to build two antler traps. These were designed to cause the already loosened antlers from the bucks to drop off in a convenient location so I would not have to walk all over the farm looking for them.

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Up to this point, the great antler trap experiment has been a colossal failure at collecting antlers. I have not found one antler in the trap. I have found a few nearby, and my wife has found several in the area, but the traps have not worked to collect antlers as they are shed by the bucks.

I folded cattle panels, which is just a heavy-gauge section of wire, in half. I secured them to a couple of trees and baited them with a protein blocks for deer. I also added a six-inch-diameter piece of plastic pipe, about five-feet long with a one-inch hole drilled near the bottom. I filled the pipes with shelled corn so it would dribble out slowly when something ate the corn in front of the pipe. I also set also set up my trail cameras to catch the action as wildlife visited the feeding stations.

Each weekend, my wife and I faithfully check the antler traps, refill the corn tubes and check the cameras. It is interesting to see what is visiting our feeders, but disappointing as we have yet to get an antler. The pictures show, almost immediately after refreshing the corn supply, a large flock of turkeys descends to eat it. Two or three can crowd into the corner at a time and eat their fill. As they rotate out, more will replace them until the corn is gone. Since this has gone on for several weeks, the turkeys seem to be getting fatter.

One morning, we had a picture of a bobcat, sitting right in front of the camera, looking toward the antler trap. I imagine he was waiting for a herd of turkeys to crowd into the feeder so he could eat one of them. We do not have any pictures to show if he was successful. We have pictures of songbird, squirrels, raccoons and lots of deer enjoying the feed at the antler trap. There are even a few bucks, complete with antlers, coming to the antler trap, enjoying a snack, and leaving with their antlers still attached. If they bumped them on the fence, it was not hard enough to knock them off.

The setup, as an antler trap, has been a failure. As a food source and a bait station for everything in the area, it has been a great success. Each week, we bring the grandkids and check the traps with great anticipation. A sudden flush of disappointment is soon replaced when we see the pictures of what has visited. Checking the camera is always followed by the boys searching the area for tracks, feathers or that elusive shed antler. If nothing else, they always find an interesting stick or two and several rocks that need to be taken home to Mom and Dad.

The antler traps have led us to spend more time in the timber with the boys, doing things that boys should be doing. The antler traps have been a failure at their intended purpose, but I can not complain about the good times they have engendered.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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