Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the the first Kane County Miniature Blanding’s Bowl. Today our commentary will cover the exciting and cutthroat competition of turtle capturing. Last week Taylor, a member of our team, decided to make things a little more interesting and introduce a point system for our traps. The four of us that were working that week designed a point system based on the value and rarity of the turtles we can find in our traps or catch by grabbing them out of the water if we spot them (this is known as a hand capture).

As you can see our point system has the same distribution as the final score of a Quidditch match, but when it comes to Blanding’s turtles, they truly are the golden snitch. The championship prize was the choice between ice cream or gas station taquitos (our local guilty pleasure food). Now, let’s take a look at the competitors.

In the first corner we have Taylor. Taller than a sandhill crane, Taylor is a veteran of setting turtle traps and even has a good amount of hand captures under his belt. Folks, this is the heavy hitter to watch this season. His strategy is to set deep in the cattails of the marsh, if a trap is difficult to get to and far away from everything you can bet he set it.

Next up we have Alexis, less of a rookie than some, but a rookie all the same. Alexis likes to go by the feel of certain areas and there is no identifiable pattern in her trap setting which makes her a dangerous player. Thus far into the season Alexis has had two hand captures and was hungry for more, when she wasn’t setting or checking traps she was stalking the waters for anything she could snatch.

Only handcap of the week!

Our greenest athlete this week is Katie, who started her field season a week after Michelle and Alexis and worked night shifts early on and had very little time out setting traps. After a few pointers from Taylor she confidently placed her traps mostly in open areas within the marsh. Here is another player to watch folks. Unassuming yet very ambitious, it’s no surprise that Katie got the play of the week.

Finally we have Michelle, the least superstitious of our contestants. She doesn’t believe in jinxes, but she sure does a lot of bargaining with the turtle gods via canned sardines and four-leaf clovers. Her strategy involves looking for water trails a turtle might swim down and then placing her trap in the way. It’s a risky play considering that often times the paths she seeks are really more for muskrats.

Overall the week was a slow one for turtle capturing, but we had some exciting moments and even got to try our hand at radio telemetry. Radio telemetry is done when a small radio transmitter is attached to the shell of a turtle. We then use a receiver and antenna to track them in the field. Ultimately we are following beeps until it gets the loudest and then digging the the water and mud feeling for a shell-like shape and hoping it is not a snapping turtle. The play of the week goes to Katie! While feeling around in the water for a transmittered female Blanding’s turtle, she came up with a male Blanding’s turtle that we had not encountered yet.

In the end, we all won because we caught and sampled turtles of all species, ate gas station taquitos, and had delicious ice cream.