The most available and ready source of meat in the bush, that I know of in New Zealand, is Opossum.
There is a couple of weaknesses that they have, that makes them easier to catch than Rabbits or Hare.
For one, they are not afraid of Human scent. This means you do not have to be so careful about not wearing antiperspirants etc.
Secondly, They say ‘curiosity killed the Cat’. Well, Possums are very curious. Just about any thing different, that will stand out at night, will arouse their interest.
I spend at least 3 days a week trapping Possums, and just the other week caught 61 in a day, I only pluck the fur from them, and every time I throw away the carcass, I think ‘thats a lot of meat going to waste’. Possums are carriers of TB, so caution is necessary, and you need to check for spots on the liver etc. I must admit that I have never indulged in it, but plenty of trappers who spend long times in the bush do. Some Shrafters that I have talked to have eaten all sorts of animals including Hedgehogs, so I figure such a ready source of meat may be of interest to some.
So, in this post, I will try to show some of the things to look for. When I have the time, I will show some snare traps that I believe will be effective on them. I use Leghold Traps, these are reasonably cheap so they may be an option for you. I bought ‘Bushman’s Best’ traps and they only cost $10 each.
We use a lure that we spray on the tree, This stands out at night to a Possum, and it has some smelly oils added to increase its attractiveness. There is some small glow tags available and they cost around 80 cents, these are small and light, they would easily fit into a survival kit, and they just need to sit in the sun a bit to charge up. I have caught animals on nothing more than these tags, so they do work.
Possums leave a lot of signs. Territory marks, scat, and possum trails. Once you have learnt the signs, they stand out. I can ride along on my Quad and see them. The more time you spend doing these things the more the signs stand out. This translates through to other animals as well because you just see things that do not seem right.
territory marks can look like,
Scat comes in all sorts of forms,
The first picture is fresh scat, the other 2 are old. The fresh scat is slick looking. The scat does not need to be individual segments, they do come in combined packages, as in the 2nd and 3rd pictures.
These are some well used Possum trails
Obviously, Possum trails are more numerous than just these. These trails stand out, most Possum trails are not so clear of debris. Photos of less obvious trails do not show the depressions that you would look for, therefore just look for a trail that is just debris compressed further than the surrounding area. Possums love to run, so if you are a regular in the area, clear the trail of debris, sticks, fallen trees etc. This will attract animals to your trail as it is like a Highway in comparision to what they are used to. I set traps at the base of Trees, if in DOC land you may need to set them of the ground to avoid catching Native Ground Birds, such as Kiwi and Weka. On private land you can set them how you like. Make sure you gain permission to do any type of trapping on the land you are using, as if someone is trapping the land they may take issue.
One way to increase the chance of catching an animal is to place some sort of obstacle either side of the trap, such as branches etc. This guides them over your trap or snare increasing the chance of capture. These obstacles need to be angled outwards, to funnel them in the direction you want.
A good solid blow on the top of the head, between the ears, is the quickest way to subdue the animal. You can skin the animal, if you wish to keep the skin you will need to leave the animal hanging overnight to set the fur. If you want to tan it, You will need to research something such as Brain tanning on the Internet.
These animals are a ready source of meat, and suprisingly easy to catch. Skin them and gut them just as you would any other small game animal. Cook them on a spit or any way you would a Rabbit.
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