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The Pine Marten


This animal belongs to the tribe of weasels, and is closely allied

to the celebrated sable, which it greatly resembles. The pine marten

is so called because it inhabits the northern climates where pine

forests abound, and spends much of its life in the trees in search

of its prey. Its general appearance is truly represented in our

illustration, its fur being of a rich brown color, with a lighter

or white patch on the t
roat. Its total length, including the tail,

is about twenty-eight or thirty inches, of which the tail represents

ten inches. It is mostly confined to the forests in the far north,

and is comparatively rare further south than the latitude of Maine

and the lakes. The fur of the pine marten is of considerable value,

particularly if the animal be killed in the winter. A really fine

skin is but little inferior to the celebrated sable, and is hardly

distinguishable from it. The hair is long and glossy, and the under

fur is beautifully soft and very thick. The dark colored skins are

the most valuable. Although so nearly like the sable, the same

comparison does not exist in regard to their proportionate market

values, the marten fur bringing a much lower price.

The marten is a shy and wary animal, withdrawing itself as far

as possible from the sight of man, and building its habitation in

the tops of trees, often seizing on the ready nest of some squirrel

or bird, and adapting it to its purposes.

It is a night prowler, and in the dark hours it traverses the trunks

and branches of the trees in search of its prey. It moves with

wonderful stealth and activity, and is enabled by its rapid and

silent approach to steal unnoticed on many an unfortunate bird

or squirrel, seizing it in its deadly grip before the startled

creature can think to escape. Coming across a bird's nest, it makes

sad havoc with the eggs or young, often adding the parent bird

to his list of victims. Rabbits, partridges, and mice also fall

into the marten's bill of fare, and the list is often further

increased by a visit to a poultry yard, when the animal murders

and eats all it can and kills the rest for sport. In pouncing upon

its prey, the marten invariably seizes its victim by the throat,

often dispatching the luckless creature with a single bite.

The martens generally are said to be very susceptible to human

influence when taken young, and are very lively in a state of

domestication. They are among the most graceful of animals, and

in place of the disagreeable scent which renders many of their

tribe offensive, this creature possesses an odor which is quite

agreeable, and for this reason is often called the sweet marten

in contradistinction to the foul marten or pole cat of Britain,

which is like unto our skunk in the disgusting stench which it


The dead-fall and Garrote traps are very successful in trapping

the martin. They should be set several rods apart, in the forest

or on the banks of streams, and a trail established by dragging

a dead or roasted crow, entrails of a bird, or fresh meat from

one trap to another, as described in relation to the mink, page

190. The twitch-up may also be used, and possesses the additional

advantage of acting as a spring pole, thus holding the captured

victim out of reach of larger animals, to which it might otherwise

become a prey. Any of the varieties described under the title of

twitch-up will answer the purpose, and a little experimenting

will soon prove which one will be the most successful for this

particular animal. The bait may consist of a bird's or fowl's head,

fish, liver, or any fresh meat or entrails.

The common box trap, page 103, or the box snare, page 56, may also

be used to good purpose, but the former will need to be carefully

watched lest the enclosed prisoner gnaw his way out and thus escape.

When the steel trap is employed, it should be of the size of Newhouse,

No. 2-1/2, set on the ground beneath some rock,

and covered with leaves, rotten wood, or earth, and the bait fastened

or suspended about eighteen inches above it, in such a position

that the animal will be obliged to step upon the trap in order to

reach it. An enclosure may be constructed of stones piled together,

the trap being set and covered in the opening and the bait secured

at the back. A staked pen, such as is described on page 143, with

the trap and bait arranged as there directed, also works well.

Wherever or however the trap is set, the bait should be so placed

that the animal cannot possibly climb on any neighboring object to

reach it. The hollow of a tree trunk forms an excellent situation

for the trap, and the same hollow may also be baited at the back

and a dead-fall constructed across its opening. The box or barrel

pit-fall, described on page 127, is said to be very successful in

trapping the marten, always baiting it with the platform secure

for a few days before setting for capture. The same methods directed

for the capture of the mink are also useful in trapping the marten.

The animal should be skinned as described for the fox.