Minks may also be easily caught in the dead-fall. Garrote trap or a twitch-up, baiting with fish, muskrat, flesh, or the head of a bird, of which the animal is especially fond. A liberal use of the “medicine” is also desirable.
The fur of the mink is in its best condition in the late autumn, winter, and early spring, and the animal should be skinned as described for the fox.
[Page 192] THE PINE MARTEN.
This animal belongs to the tribe of “weasels,” and is closely allied to the celebrated sable, which it greatly resembles. The pine marten is so called because it inhabits the northern climates where pine forests abound, and spends much of its life in the trees in search of its prey. Its general appearance is truly represented in our illustration, its fur being of a rich brown color, with a lighter or white patch on the throat. Its total length, including the tail, is about twenty-eight or thirty inches, of which the tail represents ten inches. It is mostly confined to the forests in the far north, and is comparatively rare further south than the latitude of Maine and the lakes. The fur of the pine marten is of considerable value, particularly if the animal be killed in the winter. A really fine skin is but little inferior to the celebrated sable, and is hardly distinguishable from it. The hair is long and glossy, and the under fur is beautifully soft and very thick. The dark colored skins are the most valuable. Although so nearly like the sable, the same comparison does not exist in regard to their proportionate market values, the marten fur bringing a much lower price.
The marten is a shy and wary animal, withdrawing itself as far as possible from the sight of man, and building its habitation in the tops of trees, often seizing on the ready nest of some squirrel or bird, and adapting it to its purposes.
[Page 193] It is a night prowler, and in the dark hours it traverses the trunks and branches of the trees in search of its prey. It moves with wonderful stealth and activity, and is enabled by its rapid and silent approach to steal unnoticed on many an unfortunate bird or squirrel, seizing it in its deadly grip before the startled creature can think to escape. Coming across a bird’s nest, it makes sad havoc with the eggs or young, often adding the parent bird to his list of victims. Rabbits, partridges, and mice also fall into the marten’s “bill of fare,” and the list is often further increased by a visit to a poultry yard, when the animal murders and eats all it can and kills the rest for sport. In pouncing upon its prey, the marten invariably seizes its victim by the throat, often dispatching the luckless creature with a single bite.
The martens generally are said to be very susceptible to human influence when taken young, and are very lively in a state of domestication. They are among the most graceful of animals, and in place of the disagreeable scent which renders many of their tribe offensive, this creature possesses an odor which is quite agreeable, and for this reason is often called the sweet marten in contradistinction to the foul marten or pole cat of Britain, which is like unto our skunk in the disgusting stench which it exhales.