I have long been interested in the art of trapping. There is something about the fur trade and the rough mountain men that collect pelts each winter that astonishes me. I began my research years ago when I was just a boy. I would see trappers walking out of the woods when I was hunting and fishing, carrying the daily kills over the shoulders or on the racks of an ATV. I began my research, but with the wrong information.
A lot of people dislike trapping very much; so much in fact, that there are specific laws that protect trappers and their sets from the heckling and menacing of anti trappers. When you began reading the anti articles the first thing that comes at you are the bloody stories of domestic pets being killed or maimed. Then came the stories about the poor animals stuck for hours on end with the broken leg caught in a trap and trying to chew their own leg off to get away. False.
It turns out that most of the traps used today are actually very humane. They do not harm or hurt the animal in any way. It turns out, if you have an animal that you are not targeting get in your trap, you simply let it go, perfectly unharmed. This is not even the live traps, but the actual foot hold traps everyone shivers at the sight of. This information came as a very large shock to me, and Youtube (www.youtube.com) has several videos depicting this very act.
Another fact that always pawed at my heart was the though of a stray dog accidentally finding itself into a trap. It turns out that the companies that make traps, such as Duke Traps, actually make a “dog proof” trap that is used for targeting raccoon. These traps require the coon to reach in a tube for the bait, and skill dogs simply cannot perform. The trap closes and holds the coon by the hand.
Trapping has a very long and rich heritage with many of our states, with Kentucky being a prime example. It turns out that most of the towns that were first settles in Kentucky were originally trading posts for the fur trade as well as others. Today, most trappers are not in the sport for financial gain. Though you o get paid for pelts, it is often not enough to cover expenses. Trapping today is a labor of love and passion. It is done by men and women who are truly passionate about the art, and love to be in the woods. Trapping helps control populations by both removing the animals and preventing overpopulation, and by removing predators allowing other populations, such as quail and turkey, to thrive. Trapping helps to control density related diseases, and depredation of crops and livestock, and controls nuisance animals.
With all this new information my wife and I have decided that we are going to begin trapping some late this year. We will be starting with the “dog proof” coon traps and targeting raccoon. I am sure we will not break and records with our few traps, but it will be yet another adventure into the outdoors.
The fur will be preserved and sold to a fur trader for use in the manufacture of clothing and such items. The raccoons we will be targeting will be nuisance coons that would normally be killed and discarded. This way, I can insure something useful can come from their hides, and that they were killed humanely. Hopefully it will be a positive experience and lead into a lifelong tradition for my family. Regardless, it will be an exciting adventure, and I am sure more articles will come of it!