Trapping Michigan’s White Furbearing Animal the Weasel
By John S. Chagnon
Picture of Asa and and his Brother Herb Lenon many years ago with fine mess of weasel using Lenon's Weasel Super All Call developed by their dad in the 1920's
Weighing in at between 1 and 2 ounces the Least Weasel is the smallest of Michigan’s Furbearing Animals. And just a tad heaver we have a full grown Ermine weighting up to a whopping 4 ounces and measuring up to 12 inches long. Both are referred to as weasels by trappers, but obviously the Ermine is more sought after and at times brings a decent price. In todays market one would be better off finding a taxidermist or crafter that wanted the weasel pelts. The Weasel is found throughout Michigan’s forest, fields and water edges.
There is no closed season on trapping weasel, but to trap for the fur it is recommended to trap them from January to March when their fur will be all white except the tip of tail which is black. All weasels change brown in the spring and summer months. The same techniques I will be teaching you to catch weasel with in the winter months will also work in the summer months. Folks that raise poultry and rabbits know why you need to trap weasel in the summer months too well.
I make Lenon’s Weasel Super All Call Lure which is definitely one of the oldest attractants ever formulated specifically for the weasel, which dates way back to 1924. The first batch I personally made was in the winter of 2016, that summer while trapping a farmers pond for snapping turtles while talking to the farmer a brown weasel went right in front of us. Of coarse when the pheasant raising farmer asked me to terminate the weasel I said I would. My first nuisance weasel job was also the first time I was to deploy the lure I personally made. A trap was set the first night lured with Lenon’s Weasel Lure and to my amazement I received a call from the farmer the next morning that the pheasant killing weasel was caught. The following paragraphs will explain to you how that weasel was caught in Turner, Michigan, and the same method will quickly catch any weasel in North America.
Before you can quickly catch any weasel you have to find were a weasel has traveled for sure. During the summer months the preceding paragraph described about the surest way to know a weasel had been at a location, as we actually watch it cross in front of us. Now during the winter time it is much easier to find weasel as their tracks let us know exactly wear they have been traveling. In fact, the best way to find were to set you weasel traps is to travel trails and roads several days after a snow fall and watch for tracks. A weasel will almost always return to were it has traveled it just may be a week or two till Mr. Weasel returns. Trapping is a patience game.
A weasel box set will out perform all other weasel trapping sets, and provides several additional features including protecting your trap during snow fall, keeping birds and other animals out of your set and being extremely attractive to a weasel. There is something about a hole in a box that a weasel just has to check out. You can buy a weasel box from a trapping supply company and use it for a pattern or search the web for instructions to construct one. Folks use one #0, 1, or 1.5 Longspring trap or Victor Rat Traps inside the weasel box. The trap is set right were the weasel will enter the box thru a small 1.5” to 2” hole. In the other side of the box I use Lenon’s Weasel Super All Call Weasel Lure on a clump of dried grass to imitate a mouse nest the number one food source for most weasel.
For those that like to make their own animal lure and bait here is a recipe that Herb Lenon shared in his book Raccoon, Opossum, Skunk and Weasel Trapping 1946.
One ounce each beaver castor and muskrat musk, 6 weasel musk sacks, 3 ounces rotten fish. Let set one month, stir often, use ten drops on fresh bait. If you use bait use rabbit or chicken.
So if you can not find weasel tracks along the road ways, put your hiking boots on and search rock piles, abundant farms, wood and brush piles, edges of swamps and trails thru the woods. Chance are you will not have to hike to long without finding a set of weasel tracks. Culverts are great places to look for weasel and they offer some protection for your weasel boxes. It is a good idea to wire your weasel boxes to trees, stakes or something solid as raccoon can occasionally reach in the box and get caught. This usually only happens if you get a warm spell as most raccoons are semi hibernating at the time of the year you are weasel trapping.
One of the first weasel I ever saw was while using an outhouse in a remote UP deer camp, it wanted to keep folks company while they were doing their business. An old outhouse by a wood pile in the middle of the woods is just one good example of a good weasel location and mice were everywhere. You are going to find weasel were you find food and that is mostly mice.
At times mice will set off your traps and sometimes get caught, look at this situation as you just got some free bait. Also with mice in the area the weasel will not be far behind. I find that when using Victor Rat Traps I catch more mice than when I’m using longspring traps. Remember to use dyed and waxed traps if possible and obviously set the tension light as a weasel does not weight much.
So when you looking for something to do this winter in the outdoors consider catching yourself a Michigan White Weasel. And if you are farmer you just learned a technique to protect your chickens or rabbits. Also Weasel trapping is a great way to introduce a young trapper to the art of trapping.
I welcome you to visit my website at www.LenonLures.com