A fine catch

Long-time Gan­der hunter en­joys ‘a great day out’ in the woods.

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front Page - BY CLARENCE NGOH clarence.ngoh@gan­der­bea­con.ca

GAN­DER, NL – Like clock­work, Dwayne Keefe makes a trip into the woods to check his snares al­most ev­ery other day.

His in­ter­est in hunt­ing started early, at 13 or 14 years of age, Keefe said.

“My fa­ther took me hunt­ing, but it was a school­mate of mine who was a few years older and had a trap­ping li­cence that took me out and got me in­ter­ested,” Keefe says.

And he has not stopped since, spend­ing time out­doors when­ever he can.

“I was raised do­ing it – I grew up hunt­ing and fish­ing. It’s two of my favourite past times. It keeps me ac­tive and out of the house as I am re­tired,” Keefe adds.

Keefe checks his snares around a trail he has groomed over the past four years. It has brought him many boun­ties – Keefe es­ti­mates be­tween 50 to 60 rab­bits a sea­son.

Keefe ex­plained reg­u­la­tions were re­cently changed re­gard­ing the type of wire to be used for snares.

“This is proper rab­bit wire – it has to be 22-gauge or less,” says Keefe. “Five or six years ago, stain­less steel snar­ing wires were used, and they fig­ure it was killing the pine marten.”

Keefe’s snares are well hid­den – they’re easy for an un­trained eye to miss.

But Keefe does not miss any. He set 40 to 50 snares around the loop, and he pauses to in­spect each one.

The process to check each snare is fairly quick – Keefe en­sures kinks are re­moved and the snares are open, and re­po­si­tions branches or posts as needed to di­rect the an­i­mal through the snare.

“It is im­por­tant to re­move the kinks out of the snares,” Keefe says. “I use a set mea­sure­ment of 21 inches on the snare to make the loop. This is the length I need for most sticks to tie one, and I wrap it around twice be­cause I found, in my years of hunt­ing, they (rab­bits) pull it off the stick if you don’t wrap around it twice.”

Keefe pauses on oc­ca­sions to have a closer look at the trail, and stops to set up new snares in what he de­ter­mines to be an ideal lo­ca­tion.

“I look for the cut­tings to see if they are fresh, and look for fresh rab­bit poop or but­tons,” Keefe says.

“I also look for leads, or rab­bit trails. Some­times new leads are formed as chil­dren of their par­ents make new trails – you never know.”

A lead or path is made over many years, and is vis­i­ble as flat­tened ar­eas on the ground.

Af­ter set­ting a new snare, Keefe marks it with bright pink tape that he ties to a branch.

“I can’t re­mem­ber them all – I am get­ting old,” Keefe laughs.

As the sea­son closes in De­cem­ber, Keefe will ei­ther “close them down or take it all out.

“It is bet­ter to take them out be­cause the weather rots out the snares,” he says.

Even af­ter years of snar­ing, Keefe never tires of it.

“I love the smell, what you can see, and the ex­cite­ment of what you can catch. Some­times it’s hard, some­times it’s not,” Keefe says.

“Smell that? That is rot­ten veg­e­ta­tion – best smell in the world,” Keefe chuck­les as he car­ries on to in­spect the next snare.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Dwayne Keefe had a “a great day out,” snar­ing 11 rab­bits and let­ting two go be­cause they were still young. It was his best catch for one day this sea­son.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Dwayne Keefe pre­pares to a skin and gut a rab­bit. He places the liver and kid­ney aside for a friend who eats them. He will keep a few for him­self, and has a list of friends to call to give some away.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Dwayne Keefe re­sets his snare af­ter catch­ing a rab­bit. He en­sures all kinks are re­moved from the snare, checks the in­tegrity of the snare for strength, and re­po­si­tions branches around the snare as needed to di­rect the an­i­mal through the wire.

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