Cannibal Cats

Tyler Freel Avatar
With the sun shining and recent blizzards nothing but a memory, we took a long ride up to my lynx trapline with Mt Mckinley looming in the distance.
It doesn't matter how many years you've been trapping, seeing a fresh set of lynx tracks headed down your trail with traps up ahead really gets your adrenaline flowing!
Yes! We almost didn't find this nice tom lynx…he was covered with snow. Only a small patch of fur on the back of his head was visible. He was caught in a snare less than 100 yards from where we caught the big cross fox a couple weeks ago.
Frozen solid as a rock, buried in snow, and tangled in the brush, it's often necessary to cut the snare or brush just to get these critters loose.
Trapping can be cold and miserable. And it always requires a lot of work. But when you finally connect, it makes it all worth it!
Excitement turned to frustration as fresh tracks continuing down the trail led to this scene! Torn up snow, lynx tracks, and a few pieces of lynx fur were all that was left of this snare set.
Aside from a part of a foot, this half-eaten skull was all that was left of the cat we had caught in the snare….
I had heard that lynx were cannibalistic and had seen some snared cats that were chewed on, but this was nuts. Even the skull was nearly picked clean. I'd never seen anything quite like it!
There were lynx tracks EVERYWHERE! The snare was set up on the riverbank, and these cats came across the river and devoured the unlucky one who'd been caught!
Despite the risk of losing your catch to marauding packs of cannibal cats, snares are a very effective way to catch lynx. My uncle is breaking some branches off of a tree that fell over the trail. This is an ideal place to set up a snare!
Lynx, fox and wolves commonly follow snowmachine trails, and after clearing some of the branches to create an opening, hanging a snare in the hole is sure to catch the next one that comes trotting down the trail.
Although temperatures weren't as low as they have been, it was still cold. Whether thawed, frozen, smashed, or folded up, a good ol' peanut butter and jelly sandwich always tastes good on the trail.
Even at a relatively "warm" temperature of +10 degrees, my coke froze solid quicker than I could finish my sandwich!
The extreme winters here in Alaska require the best cold-weather gear possible. These boots, commonly referred to as "bunny boots," are pretty amazing. The military uses them, and they are by far the best boots for extreme cold that I have used! They are all-rubber and use an air pocket as the main insulation. They look goofy, but they keep your feet warmer than anything else I have tried. One of the best things is that even if you go through the ice and fill them up with water, they will still keep your feet warm.
We took advantage of the nice weather and set a bunch of new lynx traps. Hanging bait, like pieces of grouse or ptarmigan, above the edge of the trail with a trap underneath, is a proven way to catch them.
Up here we have very dry snow. This allows us to set traps right in the snow and not have them freeze up. Putting a piece of wax paper over the pan of the trap before covering it with snow also helps to keep the trap working by keeping snow out of the mechanism.
An old trappers saying goes something like… "if you haven't caught yourself, you haven't set very many traps." This was one of those days, as I snapped my fingers in a very powerful #5 coilspring. It caught me right between the first and second knuckles and had me doing the kickin chicken! You can kind of see the discolored & swollen spots in the middle of my fingers…OUCH!
An ideal trapping set up, a good snowmachine like this, is an absolute necessity to be a successful trapper in Alaska! Although this weekend has been a mix of elation and frustration…oh… and snapped fingers, any time out in the woods is more rewarding than time spent on the couch!

Even though I’ve been trapping in Alaska for years, on a recent run down my line I witnessed something I’d never seen before.