Good Sunday article (Dogs life is kinda rough, Dec. 16).
I was out Saturday and had my vizsla get caught in a snare along the Snake River.
It was a good reminder to carry some cable cutters (or Leatherman) and not just a knife.
At first I thought she was caught in some fishing gear snagged in a tree, but that was not the case. I assume the trapper was after beaver, but it was in a poor spot, plus above the high-water mark on my buddys land. I was not expecting it.
Just one more thing to be aware of when you are out there chasing birds.
CARL J., email
A: Thanks for the tip. Its nerve-racking knowing there are traps out there this time of the year when youre hunting with your dog.
Hunters and their dogs tend to get off trail and into the brush, where traps may be set.
I had another reader asking me to warn hikers going into the lower Owyhees in the winter to also watch out for traps.
Anyway, my retriever works both the land and water on the riverbank when were jump-shooting ducks, quail and pheasants. I keep a close eye on her, but still want her to get out there and bust the brush for birds.
Even though trappers are cautioned to avoid using traps near heavily used recreational trails and use common sense where they set traps, theres always a chance a dog can get caught in a trap.
I checked several websites for tips on how to get a dog out of a trap, plus Ive had first-hand experience:
If your dog is in a foot-hold trap, you might want to put a leash on your pet. The dog may take off in a frantic run after being released from the trap out of fear and could become lost or injured.
Calm the dog. If the dog is thrashing around, throw a coat over it so the dog wont bite you or hurt itself even more.
A foot-hold trap can be released by compressing the traps spring levers on each side of the closed jaws. Some traps only have one spring.
Depending on the size of the trap, you may have to stand on the springs to open the jaws.
Be calm, think quickly. As soon as pressure is put on the springs, the jaws will loosen and the dog will be able to pull its foot out.
Snares are a different story. Likely, the dog will be caught around its neck.
Dogs that are used to a leash and collar will probably just sit there and wait for you. Other dogs may pull and move around, tightening the snare, which would be dangerous. It could cut into the dogs flesh or cause choking.
Get to your dog as quickly as possible. Idaho Fish and Game says to pinch the lock that closes the snare and reverse the lock.
Then slip the lock back up the snare cable. This will open the loop and allow the dog to be free.
If this gets too complicated for you, take the advice of the reader in this column and use a pair of pliers to clip the snare. Insert a finger between the cable and the dogs neck so you can insert the wire cutters. Youll have to have pliers or wire cutters that can cut steel cable.
If your dog is caught in a conibear trap, youve got very limited time to free it. You have to work quickly.
This kind of trap has a square frame with two rotating jaws and two springs. They are designed to strike small and medium-size animals in the neck and body and kill them quickly.
Ive never had an experience with this style of trap, but got information on several websites with these tips.
First, squeeze both springs and rotate the trap so the jaws are not on the animals windpipe.
Squeeze one of the springs using both hands until youre able to fasten the safety lock over the arm of the spring. This relieves the pressure from one side of the trap.
Repeat the same process for the other spring.
If you cant squeeze the springs by hand, youll have to use a leash, rope or shoelace for extra leverage to do so. Several websites show how its done.
Slide the animals head from between the jaws of the trap.
Several websites have tips, including http://bit.ly/RCtp2D and scottlindenoutdoors.com. Search for conibear trap to see a video.
Another useful site is terrierman.com/traprelease. htm.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445 Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors