August 2006 Editor’s Call
By Paul Wait
Trappers: A Dying Breed?
I’m Not Buying It
In early 1999, when I was interviewing to become editor of The Trapper & Predator Caller, I researched trapping extensively.
Other than discovering the National Trappers Association and several anti-trapping Web sites, I found dozens of newspaper articles about trapping. Almost all of them had a common theme: Trappers are a dying breed.
After more than seven years as editor of T&PC, I’ll buy that argument — but only if we’re talking about standing over a bubbling kettle with trap chains attached to tongs.
I guess maybe if we weren’t dyeing, we might be dying. But I haven’t heard any supply dealers complaining about a decline in trap dye sales.
Come to think of it, the only thing I’ve heard trapping supply dealers complain about is an increase in the number of trapping supply dealers. Apparently, trappers need a lot of traps, lure and stakes while we’re on our deathbeds. And judging by the amount of fur sold to country fur buyers and at state association and Canadian auctions, we’re pretty good at catching critters while we’re taking our last few gasps of air.
When neophyte city reporters who rarely step off the pavement are assigned a story about trapping, they commonly make two other assertions: 1) The fur will fly, and 2) Trappers are an endangered species.
In my college journalism courses, I was taught that cliches are lazy, ineffective writing that should be avoided. Apparently, many newspaper reporters and editors missed that lesson. Thus, the phrase: “fur will fly.”
Think for a minute. Ever seen a coyote flap its wings? A raccoon lift off? A muskrat imitate a duck?
OK, flying squirrels might qualify, but even they don’t really fly. Ever see one gain altitude after it leaves a tree limb? When a human jumps out of a perfectly functioning airplane and employs a parachute, I don’t call that flying. Do you?
The endangered species moniker is simply a variation of the dying breed theme. I’m not a geneticist, but I wasn’t aware that trappers were a separate species of the human race.
I guess that long about 1999, my genes mutated, or I somehow acquired the trapping gene. Maybe I had it all along and didn’t know it. Could be I accidentally sniffed the required quota of road-killed skunks to activate my trapping gene.
I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll tap into my news reporter gene in search of the genetic code that makes a person a trapper. In a related study, I could explore why good journalists have become an endangered species.
On second thought, maybe we should embrace the idea that trappers are an endangered species. Just imagine what being a trapper would be like if we were treated to the same protection as gray wolves, Canada lynx and wolverines.
The government would set aside thousands of acres for us, restricting access to non-trappers and declaring us strictly off-limits to anyone who might cause us harm. Heck, they’d even reintroduce others of our kind to our former range to try to help us breed so there’d be more trappers.
OK newspaper reporters, go ahead — label trappers as a “dying breed.” Please come back to do another story when the U.S. Forest Service dedicates a million-acre wildlife area in New York as “critical habitat for trappers.”
Enter to Win a Trapping Trip
One lucky trapper is going to win an all-expenses-paid trapline ride-along in Montana this season.
The Trapper & Predator Caller presents the Montana Predator Trapline Sweepstakes, a chance to join master bobcat, coyote and fox trapper John Graham of Fur Country Lures on his East-Central Montana longline.
I accompanied Graham in 2000, so I can tell you first-hand that his trapline includes some of the most picturesque landscape anywhere in the West. Antelope, mule deer and golden eagles were common sights as Graham piloted his pickup from rimrock to rimrock where his traps lay waiting.
And if there are more-stunning spotted bobcats on Earth, I haven’t seen them. Montana coyotes are downright handsome, too, at least as far as fur quality is concerned.
In addition to fond trapline memories and trapping tips, our winner will receive a dozen Montana Special foothold traps, a dozen Amberg snares, six 4-ounce bottles of Fur Country Lures, two John Graham trapping videos and a $100 gift certificate to Schmitt Enterprises.
See Page 44 for rules and entry information, or stop at our booth at the National Trappers Association convention Aug. 3 to 5 in Hutchinson, Kan., to sign up. Entry is free.
We’ll draw a winner in October. It could be you!