Savor every minute you get to spend on the trapline this year
By Jim Spencer
It’s close. Oh, so close.
By now, everything ought to be just about ready in your fur shed, the way it finally is in mine. All the traps scheduled to see use this season are cleaned, repaired, adjusted, modified and waxed or dipped. Stakes are sorted and waiting in their wooden boxes. Bait is gathered, cut into proper size and frozen in quart bags to be thawed and used as needed. Lures are organized in ranks on the shelf. Fish oil is waiting in its squirt bottles, and so are the three types of pee: red fox, coyote and bobcat. The cover hulls and sawdust mixture I favor for trap covering these days is gathered, mixed and stored in covered tubs, ready for use. The hip boots are patched and ready. The fur shed is as clean and organized as it’s ever going to be. The set-making bucket is loaded and ready to go, waiting by the fur shed door.
In short, the only thing left to do is wait, and there’s not much more of that. Some lucky trappers in the Northern states and Canada are already setting for stuff like raccoons and foxes, but for most of us, the season opens sometime this month or early in December. And despite this year’s softer prices and the large carryover of unsold fur from last year, I expect you’re as eager for Opening Day to arrive as Bill and I are.
Just as we do every season, we’re telling each other we’re going to take things a little easier this year. Maybe we’ll start a little later in the morning, you know, and quit a little earlier in the afternoon — maybe both — and not push ourselves quite so hard in between. We’re not getting any younger, after all — I’m 67 and Bill calls me an unlicked cub, so you can make your own guess as to his date of birth. You’d think a couple of worn-down old goats like us would welcome a more leisurely pace.
You’d think wrong. Worn down we might be, but worn out we are not, and Bill and I are lying to each other. And we both know it. And we’ll keep right on lying to each other until we launch the boat that first morning. That’s when this take-it-easy stuff will fall apart. Normally, our first set location of the year is straight across the river from the boat ramp, and in the 60 seconds it will take to motor across the 150-yard-wide river and pull in to the bank, the metamorphosis will be well underway.
Bill will be at the tiller, and he’ll nose the skinned-up old johnboat into the shoreline. I’ll stake the boat, we’ll clamber out, maybe a little stiff at first. But within seconds, we’ll be slobbering and gesturing over a hot raccoon trail, a fresh otter toilet, a bobcat track, a beaver slide, a puddle of gray fox tar, a mink track or more likely some combination of the above. And the stiffness will be gone and the metamorphosis will be complete. Rather than two stately, reserved, dignified senior trappers out there to enjoy their sunset years and maybe catch a few pieces of fur to help cover expenses, what you’ll see if you watch us on the river that day will be two excited overage kids digging in the dirt, burying traps at a frenzied pace so they can hurry back to the boat, race upriver and make another cluster of sets.
All that fine talk about taking it easy will be forgotten, and we’ll finish that first day of the season (and every subsequent day, for that matter) worn to a frazzle, every muscle and joint aching in protest, and more tired than two old geezers like us ought to ever let themselves get. And we’ll be loving every minute of it.
Good luck to you this year. Trap safe, trap hard, and most of all, have fun. Go get ’em.
Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.treblehookunlimited.com.
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