The beaten track of the animal may often be discovered in the snow in the winter time, and a trap carefully sunk in such a furrow and covered so as to resemble its surroundings, will be likely to secure the first otter that endeavors to pass over it. A trap set at the mouth of the otter’s burrow and carefully covered [Page 189] is also often successful, using the sliding pole, page 145, to lead him into deep water.
Every trapper has his pet theories and methods of trapping all the different animals, and the otter has its full share. We have given several of the best methods; and anyone of them will secure the desired result of capture, and all of them have stood the test of time and experience.
The skin of the otter should be removed whole, and the operation may be performed in the following manner: Slit down the hind legs to the vent; cut the skin loose around the vent, and slit up the entire length of the tail, freeing it from the bone. With the aid of the knife the skin should now be peeled off, drawing it backward and carefully cutting around the mouth and eyes before taking it from the head.
With the fur thus inside, the skin is ready for the stretcher as described on page 273, and the tail should be spread out and tacked around the edges.
This animal, as will be seen by our illustration, has a long, slender body, something like the weasel, to which scientific family it belongs. It inhabits the greater part of North America, and is also found abundantly in Northern Europe. The color of its fur varies considerably in different individuals, the general tint being a rich, dark brown. The chin and throat are light colored, sometimes white, and this spot varies considerably in size in different individuals, sometimes extending down on the throat to a considerable distance. The total length of the animal is from thirteen to sixteen inches, its size being variable.
The fur of the mink is excellent in quality, and has for many years been one of the “fancy furs” of fashion, a good prime skin often bringing from ten to twelve dollars. The introduction of the fur seal, however, and the universal demand for this as well as otter fur, has somewhat thrown the mink into comparative shade, although extra fine skins will still command high prices.
The mink is an aquatic animal, inhabiting small rivers and streams, and living somewhat after the manner of the otter. It has a most wide range of diet, and will eat almost anything which is at all eatable. Fishes, frogs, and muskrats are his especial delight, and he will occasionally succeed in pouncing upon a snipe or wild duck, which he will greedily devour. Craw [Page 190] fish, snails, and water insects of all kinds also come within the range of his diet, and he sometimes makes a stray visit to some neighboring poultry yard to satisfy the craving of his abnormal