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Trapping, is it a skill set that is going the way of home butchering or butter churning? Back in the day in my area almost every farm boy had at least a half dozen traps and somewhere around his 12th year started trying to catch a little fur. Then there were the men who hit it pretty hard running a big line to supplement what back then was a meager farm income. When I got home from overseas, I started trapping again and was running as big a line as my full time job allowed, I had dreams of a retirement line that would require me to hustle to make the 24 hr. check law every day. Land leasing combined with failing knees dashed that dream, but I kept all my steel. Today I only make sets to control the racoon population on my own property and I had to offer my catches to two different fur takers free of charge to get a taker. I taught my son how to make sets and put up fur but his son has no interest, hoping my daughter's son takes a little interest in a couple years but I would guess the electronic devise will be more appealing to him also.
I would estimate out of the 22 boys who I graduated HS with 15 knew how to set a trap and make a set, I would be surprised if a HS class of the same school today if 10% could figure out how to set a trap and 5% know how to make a successful set. In another 25 years telling a kid to grab a couple traps out of the barn and see if they can catch that ol racoon that is raiding the chicken coop may be like telling a kid of my generation to hitch up a team of horses, our granddads knew how but very few of us had any idea where to start. I hope not, but trapping may be a skill set that comes in very handy someday.
 

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I still trap quite a bit. Some days it's hard to make fuel money. Otters are hard on our fish and everything else it hard on turkey and deer . I have 3 young daughters I hope to teach them. Hopefully it will keep them interested in outdoor activities. I was fortunate enough to grown up with older parents and grandparents that did things the old ways.
 

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Here in Missouri our trapping association is very proactive in keeping trapping alive. Each district holds trapping clinics during the fall geared at beginners. Our fall conventions feature many different species trapping demos from some of the best trappers around.

That said, with low to no fur market many have turned to damage control trapping.
 

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I started running rat lines on the Mississippi when I could walk. I bought the first Christmas presents that I ever bought after selling rat hides to Lefty Steiner at age 7. (I bought my mother a tin plate with a leaping sailfish on it)
I trapped all of my young life and took a few years off when I became a teenager to concentrate my efforts of chasing girls. But I returned to it when I got on my own and was laid off in the fall.
I ran mostly c o o n , beaver, mink and canine lines then. In fact I was two hours late for the first date with my wife because I was running my line. Still have a bunch of leg holds and conibears hanging in the garage. I’ve been thinking about running a little hobby line but of course life is just so busy these days.

I really miss it.
 

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Been looking to take the snare class here in PA to try and do my part with thinning the coyotes down some. They are a dime a dozen here, don't know how many folks trap them, but it doesn't seem like near enough.

Been kayaking quite a bit this summer and I could definitely round up a handful of nice minks also. Wife had one get pretty aggressive with her several weeks back , she pushed up onto a bank waiting for me to fish a hole and that joker swam across the stream, ran up the bank and stopped just short of jumping into the damn kayak with her. I couldn't believe how brazen it was. She could have whacked it with the paddle.

Sure does seem like one of the things that we are losing this day and age though. I definitely learned more about critters by trapping as a boy than I did by hunting, not that I didn't learn a lot hunting, but you definitely learn a different level of "pay attention" when running a line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well guys I am pleased to hear there is still some interest. I quit getting the trade publications so don't know if the NTA convention is still as huge of a deal as it used to be but I used to attend any held within 300 or so miles of home, took my son when he got to be about 6 to one in K.C., he still has the Duke # 11 he won in the Jr. trap setting contest.
I rode the boom of the late 70's early 80's and getting a large fur check was nice but the competition was fierce, although a violation in IL almost every bridge had traps set under it, every nimrod with a spotlight was shining *****, at best one could count on losing a percentage of fur to theft at worse one lost the fur and steel. When things settled down, I was quite happy with $12.00 average on put up ****, $3.00 on rats, and $25.00 mink (M) $12 (F) with less competition, I continued a line until the early 2000's when deer hunting leases became common in the area which was about the same time my knees began to fail me. There are no local fur buyers left in this area, at the end I was shipping to the auction houses, but I understand the largest one has filed bankruptcy and no longer buying.
 

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I have a few students who still run some traplines. When they pull their traps at the end of the season, I have them bring some in and “teach” my classes about it. They rarely want to talk in front of the class, but once a year… they don’t mind the spotlight and sharing what they know. I’ve learned a lot from them, but not enough to want to take it up myself.
 

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Well guys I am pleased to hear there is still some interest. I quit getting the trade publications so don't know if the NTA convention is still as huge of a deal as it used to be but I used to attend any held within 300 or so miles of home, took my son when he got to be about 6 to one in K.C., he still has the Duke # 11 he won in the Jr. trap setting contest.
I rode the boom of the late 70's early 80's and getting a large fur check was nice but the competition was fierce, although a violation in IL almost every bridge had traps set under it, every nimrod with a spotlight was shining *, at best one could count on losing a percentage of fur to theft at worse one lost the fur and steel. When things settled down, I was quite happy with $12.00 average on put up ****, $3.00 on rats, and $25.00 mink (M) $12 (F) with less competition, I continued a line until the early 2000's when deer hunting leases became common in the area which was about the same time my knees began to fail me. There are no local fur buyers left in this area, at the end I was shipping to the auction houses, but I understand the largest one has filed bankruptcy and no longer buying.
A lot of things have changed since the late 70s and 80s. I don’t really count any of it as good.
I was talking to a young guy at work about all of the places I’ve been. He asked me, “if you could live anywhere, where would you live?”
“1978” I said. The fur buyer I frequented as a kid is now a kind of community rivertown curiosity shop pseudo museum thing with old hand tools and traps and hoop nets and clam rakes and other stuff that makes this computer everything generation scratch their heads in wonder. I think most of them would starve to death if they had to provide their own food outside of a grocery store or a McDonald’s.
I miss that old life more and more these days.
 

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seems like a very Interesting pass time. being 35 and growing up in oaklawn (ghetto of wichita as some might call it) not something I was ever introduced to. I did get 4 or 5 years in worth of deer hunting and that was awesome when I got some, miserable when I didn't. I hate heights standing on a 2x4 30ft in the air was sketchy, when that 30'06 could knock you off and closest back spot was 4ft behind you. 4 deer no buck later. I enjoyed it and since have lost the spot. I am interested in all this but don't have the land to even think of starting. All that i have jumped into I have been lucky enough to have a good older guy (mostly father in law) or a really good buddy that taught me to catfish. we did well in tournaments here in kansas. until politics ended that relationship. I enjoy the stories keep em coming.
 

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On one of our first dates my wife asked if she could come with me on my trap line. It was late December and I knew she didn’t have appropriate clothing for running a line and I wasn’t sure how she was going to react to the sight of a trapped critter so I opted to take her on a small line where I’d done some trapping already and was getting ready to pull my traps. I hadn’t caught much lately in that area and it had been exquisitely cold. (Well below zero for several days.) c o o n we’re denned up tight and I had a couple Leg holds set on a beaver dam where I’d busted a little hole to entice rebuilding. I’d caught a few beaver from that pond and didn’t expect to have any fur waiting for me. Should be a safe introductory outting.
when I picked her up she was dressed more for a hallmark channel snowball fight than picking up steel but I figured she’d be ok.
We drove to the area and hiked in to my location. I fully expected we would just pick up my traps and who knows maybe we could do that little snowball fight. 😁. As we got down to the dam I was surprised to see a big really dark c o o n in a blind set that I’d put on a trail crossing the dam. He was curled up in a tight little ball sound asleep. “Oh look” my little snowball girl exclaimed. “We got one!” She seemed so happy. I was thrilled! Thinking how awesome it was that I’d found a girl who could maybe enjoy the things I love.
I hadn’t brought the .22 with me because I was absolutely sure the traps would all be empty. So,… I looked around and found a stout looking oak branch to smack this big old boy across the nose. I walked over to the set and gave him a poke. “Wake up buddy” I said. My girl was right alongside me…..
The c o o n opened his bleary sleeping eyes and yawned…… “Oh” said snow girl, clearly enjoying this very candid and up close view of what appeared to be a very pretty and cute woodland creature. I hadn’t ever asked or considered whether she knew where fur coats came from or if she thought the critters just donated.
I saw my window to strike and reared back to give a mighty blow which would put him down quickly and humanely.
Now,….. here’s where things kinda took on a crazy slow motion yet irrevocably unstoppable twist that as a young man I hadn’t even considered.
Realizing my intent, snow girl did what I’ve come to call a gasp shriek of complete horror, this unfortunately set forth a chain of events that were far out of my control though I tried desperately to hold it all together….. sensing that we might be up to no good the c o o n took the opportunity to try an escape. The limb that I held in my hand was already enroute to a meeting with the bridge of his nose but, because he was also in motion (and I saw this, albeit way to late) it crashed down onto his neck/back area… the c o o n screamed!….. snow girl screamed!….. I panicked slightly….. I looked at snow girl. Her face was twisted in a look of complete horror…. I looked back at he c o o n …. Oddly his look was not dissimilar to snow girls look….. I had to do something!!! Quick!!!….. (ok…. Here’s where I really screwed things up. If you thought I had already done that just hang on…. )
Knowing that I had to do something to end this fiasco I went into a murderous tirade of whaling that poor critter to death with the limb, which I broke in the process. There were screams from both c o o n and snow girl during the entire slow motion horror show. I finally did accomplish the task and sweating and shaking I looked over the scene. C o o n was seriously dead. Definitely not comin back from that. LOTS of blood on the fur and LOTS more soaked into and splattered all over the snow
I looked over to snow girl in her cute little going to the mall winter outfit…. There were tears on her cheek and her lip was trembling. She didn’t talk to me as I picked up my traps or as we walked back to my truck. There was no hallmark channel snowball fight.
 

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I do mainly nuisance trapping now but used to really pile up the fur in years past. The winter of 78 we had snow piled up over the fences , sub zero temps, and many pulled their lines. I continued trapping fox and coyotes and ended the season with 103 coyotes and 26 fox,both reds and greys. Those coyote averaged $45 and the fox $55.
 
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