As seen on MyBuckStory.com
A trapper isn’t someone you come into contact with every day. The extent of my trapping knowledge came from watching Grizzly Adams when I was a kid. Every once in a while out pheasant hunting we would come across a trap or hear a story of a dog getting caught in a trap. I never knew much about it and even if I wanted to learn more I didn’t know where to get the info besides a book. Besides, who traps these days? Have you ever heard of a fur trader around town? I haven’t and knew nothing until I met a trapper.
I have known him for a few years now but never knew much about his trapping and why he did it. When I heard him talk about it and the selling of furs I thought it was about profit and the money was so little I thought why waste your time.
Last week I had the chance to dive into this a little more and I went out on the line with this trapper. Trappers call it the trap line and when they are out checking and setting traps they refer to it as running the line. Sounds like something out of Grizzly Adams or Jeremiah Johnson but that is exactly where it comes from. It is something that was very popular back in those days. Furs where a source of survival and everyone needed and wanted them.
Today it is more of a hobby with the prize being a benefit. This trapper that I went out with works construction and during the cold months he is laid off. Rather than work a part-time job or sit around and do nothing he traps. It is something that he was raised doing and in his younger years when he could actually make a living off of it he trapped year-round. There is a season on fur so in the summer months when he couldn’t trap fur he would trap turtles, minnows and leeches and then continue with the fur once the season opened.
This last week I went out on a weasel line and learned a bit about it. Trapping is similar to hunting as it is a hobby and it involves the pursuit of game in the great outdoors. These trapper folk are very knowledgeable when it comes to wildlife and what is going on in their area. They are out there every day. In one particular spot there was a game trail running through a culvert. The trail split and some of the animals chose to take the road. By one look he knew that a fox, coyote, Raccoon and a mink were traveling the trail. Further inspection he knew that the coyote was taking the road and the others were going through the culvert that ran underneath the road. While out we saw deer, hawks chasing weasels, pheasant and even a fox. Every day on the line brings something new and while trapping you never knows what you’ll encounter. I could have listened to stories all day because every day he goes out there is a new story to be told.
We checked 32 traps this day and we caught 11 weasels. These weasels are going to be skinned and shipped to Canada to a fur auction. The estimated price will be $6.00 per fur. Not bad considering he is getting about $10.00 for mink and the mink is not as easy as the weasel to trap. Not only does he send his furs off to a fur auction but there is also a market in selling to local taxidermists. He can usually get about $10.00 and that is unskinned so it actually saves him some time.
It was my first time out and I learned a lot and look forward to going back when he is running a different line. The art of trapping weasels is really not that hard I realized and I also learned they are everywhere. All he does is put a rat trap in a box that has a hole in it. It actually looks like a small bird house with hole in the bottom. The trap fits snug into the bottom and he baits it with liver mixed with salt and Ennis oil. Every three days he checks the trap and resets the ones that need re-setting. Not a bad way to spend a few hours outdoors every week. If nothing else it keeps him busy. If you’re interested in learning and reading more about trapping here in Minnesota visit the MN Trappers website at www.mntrappers.org. There is a lot of good information there!
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