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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/410

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�Removing the skins from the stretching boards where they have been for two weeks

��THREE youngsters are making enough by trapping muskrats in the Hacken- sack marshes of Jersey to equip themselves with bicycles, baseballs, bats, gloves, and all the other things that a boy yearns for. They are Charles Curtis, aged 1 1 Harold Freet, aged 15, and George Halk, aged 16. All are of Hack- e n s a c k , N. J., and all attend school. Harold Freet is the chief trapper, and the one from whom the other two obtained their instructions. During Freet's spare time he hob-nobbed with the bridge-tender on the Court Street Bridge, over the Hackensack River. This bridge-tender was a trapper himself and knew the habits of muskrats, the laws gov- erning their trapping, and the market value of the pelts. He imparted all his informa- tion to Freet, and Freet in turn told his two pals. When the season opened, the three of them went at it with a will.

Muskrats cannot be shot under the New Jersey law; nor can they be hunted at night with searchlights. They must be

��Trapping Muskrats

A new industry for the ambitious boy By Charles Curtis

��caught in traps, and in no other way. The youngsters therefore purchased about four- teen "jump traps" and set them out in the Hackensack Meadows. These traps cost about twenty cents each, and are the best for the purpose. When the rat springs a jump trap, he is caught firmly by the leg. The traps are always set and emptied when the tide is out; for that is the only time they may be reached. And whether the tide is out early in the morning, or late at night, the boys have to be there. If the tide is out early in the morning, young Curtis and Halk each ties a string to his big toe when retiring the night before and drops the string out of the window. Freet delivers papers in the morning, and is j^ therefore, always the first

r ^ to be up. When he has

delivered his pa- pers he goes to the houses of his co-work- ers and pulls away on the string. In a very few minutes his

���The trap catches the rat tide does not drown it

��by the leg. If the rising the boys kill it humanely

��companions are with him.- The traps are generally set near the muskrat lodges. The lodges are capaci- ous dwelling places for the muskrats, built

��of grass, leaves, and rushes, about three or four feet in height and they are always situated so that they will be above tide water. The traps are placed in the runs that lead in and out of the entrances. The law governing such trapping, however, states that the traps must not be set closer than two feet to the entrance. This gives the rat a chance for his life. If this law is violated by a trapper, he may be fined twenty dollars.

When the traps are cleared, the muskrat


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