Tuesday, September 24, 2013

House special: Merganser and crab legs

Dr. Michael Losito performing a
necropsy on a Common Merganser
at SUNY Cobleskill.
A few weeks ago, in my Waterfowl Management & Ecology course, our professor performed a necropsy on a Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) so that students could get a good look at internal and external anatomy. We started with external parts, feather groups and names, feet type and toe orientation. Then he cut into the bird, and eventually removed most of it's internal organs. I personally love dissections/necropsies. It's really interesting to especially look at a "fresh", and I use that term relatively, specimen as opposed to something that's been soaking in perservatives and chemicals for who knows how long...

Since I'm always thinking of my camera trap sets, and it was dead already, and pretty mangled, I asked Dr. Losito if I might have the carcass. I explained that it would make great bait to leave in front of my Bushnell Trophy Cam, and he agreed. So, we bagged the Merg' up, and off I went.

In the spring, at this location, I had hung a Wild Turkey drumstick that a friend of mine had given me after he got a spring bird. The way I hung it made for months of entertainment. I'm sure it was smelly, but there was no purchase for critters to rely on to steal it from me. So they were drawn in but couldn't make off with the prize. Fishers especially tried and tried. That Turkey leg is still hanging, but there hasn't been meat on it for quite awhile. I decided to bring this Merg' up to this spot, and hang it in the exact same location.

So I put it up with hopes of a fisher and/or bobcat coming through. I just passed the 1 year mark since I captured my first and only bobcat picture almost in the same spot as where my camera is now. Alas, no Mustelids or Felids showed their fuzzy faces to my camera this time.

Instead, I had MANY pictures of the raccoon(s) checking the set out. Not only was there a dangling Merg', but I had also thrown some empty crab legs up there after dinner one night. There was little or no meat left on them, but I figured they'd be stinky enough to bring in some critters. The raccoons seemed quite pleased with the house specials.

I love how comfortable this raccoon appears! He or she is just sitting back on its haunches, snacking away on a scrap crab legs.
I have used multiple types of baits and lures, and by far the one that works the best is a carcass. Not only is it visual- hanging in the tree- but it is quite stinky and I'm sure it can be sensed from a bit of a distance. Surprisingly, in the past I've gotten many Crows to the set. This round, not a one showed.
I'm finally getting back into the groove of school, work, personal life, etc. This past weekend I attended the NYS Chapter of The Wildlife Society's fall field meeting. It was held at my alma mater, Finger Lakes Community College. The theme was research, and the struggles associated with it. We had a great panel of experts from varying backgrounds.
In a few weeks I am then attending The Wildlife Society's National Conference held in Milwaukee, WI this year. Life is busy, but I'm still blogging...slowly but surely!


  1. Good use of the duck. I always seem to get a lot of crows when I try something like this also.

  2. Cool stuff! Nice that your Prof saw the value of using the carcass for your camera set.....


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