Trapping: Different than I expected

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 ( 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!


Natural Desire

Something about not being able to do a particular thing really makes you just want to do that one thing.

Over the past several years I have been experiencing worsening problems with my health that could not really be explained. The bottom fell through this year and I have been very ill since about the middle of February.  I was finally diagnosed in June, and my team of doctors has since developed a treatment system that is keeping the symptoms at bay. The illness is for a lack of better terms “in remission”. However, this experience has left me a shadow of my original self. The weakness and pain alone have been enough to keep me close to home, and closer to the couch. The medication takes its toll on the body, and having to eat a special diet comes with its difficulties. But the desire is still ever present, to experience nature like I have in the past.

Since I began life I loved to be outside. The joys of camping, hunting, fishing and the like has been the best reward I had incurred until I married my lovely wife. Her matched enthusiasm for nature truly turned us into very active outdoorsmen. Very rarely could you ever catch us home, unless the weather was exceptionally brutal. The trails, waters, and woods were our playground, and we played hard, often not coming home till very late, if at all. Every free moment of time we had, we were outside.

It is hard to explain really, but when I came to college and left the magic hills and rivers I was raised with, it made my time in the woods much more significant to me. When I started hiking my freshman year, it seemed every waking minute spent in nature was more valuable than the last. For a time I felt like that would be gone forever, until the doctors finally reach an agreed diagnosis. Now I am in limbo of sorts. I have been released by the doctor to return to the woods I love so much, but the weakness and pain that I am still recovering from is not agreeing with his decision.

Like my grandmother always told me, you never really know what you’ve got, until it’s gone. I want so bad to get back out there and experience the thrill of a good hike, or the excitement of a good hunt, but I am just not physically able as of yet. It’s like standing beside a river and dying of thirst. The hardest part for me personally, is that not only has my illness grounded me, but my wife as well. She simply doesn’t want to leave my side, knowing that I could not go with her. As frustrating as that may be for me, I know if the roles were reversed, I would rather never see another trail, and remain by her side. It takes a current review of your life I suppose to be able to accurately say what the most important thing in your life is. However, as I stated before, the desire to return to my woods is still there.

It has now become my current mission to get back in shape and finally put this illness behind me. I will never get away from it for good, but if it wants to continue holding me back it’s got one hell of a fight on its hands. I will prevail, regardless of how long it takes. This desire to return to the woods will not be in vain, and this time, I will cherish every moment I get to spend outside, and quit putting of hikes and trips that we want to do. No more hiding from the heat, or running from a light rain shower. I consider the opportunity a privilege, and not something to be wasted on a meager attempt to avoid discomfort.

So the next time you crawl into a deer-stand, or slide on a pack, keep in mind that many people across this country of ours would love to be in your position, but can not. Worse still, is that fact that there are people in the country that doesn’t even know that world exists. I feel that if more people had this desire, it would keep them from their vice of choice and encourage better overall behavior and participation in outdoor recreation. With that being said, take a kid fishing, invite a buddy camping, or take someone along for a hike. Not only should we cherish every moment that we get in nature, but we should also strive to share it with others.