Trap Snap­pers

Field and Stream - - F&S - —Michael R. Shea

For more than 30 years, Ohio sports­man Mike Lieb has been trap­ping snap­ping tur­tles for the pot. “Tur­tle is a big hit at sports­man’s din­ners,” Lieb says, “and it’s a fa­vorite meat of a lot of old-timers around here.”

Lieb traps the snap­pers with a home­made hoop-net setup. He stretches ny­lon mesh over three 30-inch gal­va­nized-steel hoops, mak­ing a 4-foot-long tube with a 6- or 7-inch open­ing on one end. The whole thing looks a lot like a live-bait trap but big­ger. (Com­mer­cial mod­els are avail­able on­line for about $60 a trap.) To bait the trap, he first catches carp and freezes them whole. When tur­tle sea­son opens, he cuts the frozen fish into 6-inch sec­tions and hangs a chunk about two-thirds of the way into the trap from a mesh bait bag. He’ll place the hoop-net setup just be­low the water­line at a pond edge or along a creek, then check it ev­ery morn­ing. “That cut fish melts, and all the blood and oil flows down­stream and brings tur­tles from all over,” he says. “I’ll get half a dozen tur­tles in a trap. Last year I had 11 in one.” But catch­ing the snap­pers is only half the job. Lieb puts all his tur­tles in a fresh­wa­ter tank for a week or more, chang­ing the wa­ter sev­eral times a day un­til it runs clear, flush­ing the tur­tle of al­gae and pond scum. Then it’s ready for butcher­ing and Lieb’s fa­mous tur­tle soup.

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