Friday, September 07, 2018

The New Sport of Minkenry

Tod McVicar sent me a book he thought I might be interested in, and I was.

Joseph Carter is pioneering what he calls "Minkenry" i.e. the hunting, with mink, of muskrats, fish, rats, rabbits, smaller ground squirrels, frogs, and cray fish.

Mink are not ferrets. Ferrets are European Polecats that have been domesticated for a 1,000 years, while American Mink are wild creatures with little or no attenuation due to very recent captive breeding. And mink don't just go down holes; they can swim underwater, do endurance chases through the grass, dive to the bottom of a stream, or climb a tree in pursuit of quarry. As a predator, the American mink is a Delta Force of one.

Carter is a falconer, and it turns out that hunting with mink is closer to "falconry with fur" than it is ferreting. For one thing, Mink are hunted at low weight and with sharp ravenous hunger, same as with hawks and falcons. In both instances, low body fat propels prey drive and somewhat discourages the animal from drifting away from the human hunter, and getting lost to the wild. I say somewhat as, with both falcons and hawks, we are dealing with a wild animal whose natural instinct is to flee humans rather than to partner up with them. When hunting with wild animals, you are often working against the grain of instinct, and not with it.  That can be true when hunting with dogs as well.

The New Sport of Minkenry is a how-to book, not only on acquiring and raising mink, but also in training and hunting them. Suffice it to say, you are going to need a pair of seriously thick leather gloves!

Mink are water-dependent; you will never find one too far from stream, river, lake or pond. That said, because of their export to the world fur trade, and their amazingly varied diet and broad array of hunting skills, American mink are now found over much of Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well in the most southern cone of South America.

Carter is quick to discourage casual acquisition of a mink, warning that they generally make rotten pets, are hard to train, and bite to the bone. If you're looking for a pet weasel, try a ferret; a mink is probably not the mustelid you are looking for.

You will have to read the book to learn how the sport of Minkenry began, but suffice it to say it was a process and not an event, and that it had to be learned on the fly, through trial and error, since no one else was doing it.

If you are interested in mink, Carter's book is full of good advice and solid knowledge on food, cages, health and weight management, harnesses and leashes, breeding, training, and basic hunting techniques.  Carter also has a Youtube channel as well as a Facebook page.  The book can be ordered directly from him at this link; there are two prices depending on whether you want full color pictures or not.

I admire Mr. Carter for exploring a new hunting space where few have gone before.  Is it all a little nuts? Sure.  Maybe a little.  But is it any crazier than falconry or terrier work?  Not a bit.

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