One of the more interesting things about the Muskrat is that it is active pretty much all year round, all over the USA. What this means is that, theoretically anyway, you could trap them any time you felt like it. Of course you should still consult hunting and trapping laws in your State first.
Trapping muskrat on land is a fairly straightforward venture; they’re so trap-friendly that you could probably just use a trap made for any other animal as long as it’s big enough.
And there are several other articles on this site that pertain to trapping them in or around the water. But what if it happens to be the dead of winter and all the streams, lakes and ponds in your area are frozen over, effectively hiding the muskrat dens and trails? This article aims to provide you with a unique way to help you figure this out and trap muskrat under the ice with only marginally more effort than you’d need during the summer.
Locating the Trail:
The first order of business is to locate the den and/or trail. An easy way to do this is to mark out their locations during the summer months before the ice shows itself and simply follow your markers to the trap site whenever you want. But let’s assume that you didn’t display such foresight and now find yourself staring at a frozen lake with no idea where the muskrat are.
You need to ascertain exactly how thick (and therefore, how safe) the ice is. You can do this most easily by visiting a hunting store nearby and asking them, or just measuring the thickness yourself using a drill, an ice auger or an ice chisel and tape measure. If the ice is anything less than 4 inches, consider this a lost cause and wait till the summer. If it is 4 inches or thicker, then you’re in luck. Note that these figures only apply to new clear ice. White ice is not as structurally sound and is therefore not safe at 4 inches. You have been warned.
You’ll need to do some legwork at this point. Look for tiny air bubbles just under the surface of the ice. They are accurate indicators of the exact trail that the muskrats travel to and from their dens. They will only be visible if the ice isn’t too thick, however. Caution, you must be extra careful when trapping muskrat under the ice. Plenty of stories of people falling in..
Setting the Trap:
Once you’ve located the bubble trail, simply find a convenient spot anywhere along the trail to set the trap. You’ll need to cut a hole in the ice that is wide enough to allow both the muskrat and the trap to be pulled out. The trap that is ideal for this scenario is the Muskrat Board Set. For details on how to construct and set one up please visit our article on the [Muskrat Board Set].
The ice will freeze over and steady your trap later, so just make sure that it is firmly affixed into the earth below the ice.
Retrieving Your Catch:
Since the Ice is clear and part of the Board Set serves as a marker, you should have no trouble telling if the muskrat has triggered the trap. You will probably have to loosen the ice around the top of the trap once again to retrieve the Board Set with the drowned muskrat in tow.