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Deer Trapping 101 - Part II

Posted: January 27, 2015

Here we show you how Clover Traps work. Why are they called "Clover Traps"? Well, we explain why the obvious answer is wrong.
A Clover trap set and ready

A Clover trap set and ready

Rocket nets are pretty exciting but our field techs spend a lot of cold hours waiting for deer to arrive to the trap site. Clover traps don't require the wondering and waiting. They are basically a big box trap and we can set them up in secluded locations, bait the deer with corn, and then we just have to check them daily to see if a deer is captured.

So why are they called Clover traps? I always love asking this question when I give talks because if you had no knowledge about these traps the logical answer would be because they are baited with clover or alfalfa. But that would be wrong!

The reason they are called Clover traps is because a gentleman named Melvin Clover with the California Department of Fish and Game first published a description of this type of trap in 1956 in the journal California Fish and Game. The fact that "Clover" is capitalized is the giveaway.

We have been using Clover traps for over 10 years to capture deer and the PA Game Commission has a great video explaining their use and application. One of our modifications to the Clover trap is what we call a "critter bar" around the base of the trap. We found that even if squirrels and rabbits could easily go in and out of the trap they still chewed holes in the netting. Critter bars solve that problem and now we spend a lot less time repairing netting.

What we have never really known, however, is how deer react when first caught in the trap. In the previous video you can see that deer have to be quickly subdued and hooded, but what is their reaction when the trap door first drops behind them? Do they jump? Do they freeze?

I had no idea, and could only theorize. We do know that when we drive up on deer in a Clover trap oftentimes they are lying down and do not get up until we get out of the vehicle. But when they are first caught do they jump around and then settle down?

Well, we did capture some video of a deer being caught and it turns out they don't do much. Watch!

I think the deer's behavior can best be described as embarrassment! "Uh-oh, I hope no one finds me in here! And if they do, I hope they don't tell everyone!"

In an upcoming post we'll show you some details about the GPS collars we put on deer and some of their state-of-the-art features.

-Duane Diefenbach

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