Editor’s Call: Paying it Forward

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

Invite some younger people along on your trapline this season


How did you get started as a trapper?

For most of us, both young and old alike, it was a relative — father, uncle, older brother or cousin — who gave us our first taste of the trapline. In my case, it was a friend my own age who invited me to go with him to run his traps before school one morning. We were 12 years old, and Thomas was in his first season as a trapper. He knew very little more than I did about trapping, and I knew absolutely nothing.

But when I saw that first critter sitting there wearing a steel trap on its foot — a ’possum — I became an instant convert. Between one second and the next, I became a trapper.

I suspect it happened pretty much that way for a good many other folks as well. You went with somebody to run their traps and caught the bug. You became a trapper for the same reason I did — you fell in love with the idea of going one-on-one against a wild animal, figuring out where it was going to put its foot or its head and setting a trap in such a way as to catch that animal. It wasn’t until later, when you began to achieve some level of competence at catching furbearers, that the dollars-and-cents consideration came into play.

Over the past dozen or so years, with fur prices in an ever-upward spiral, many trappers seemed to have forgotten about that initial attraction that got them into this business. Now that the inevitable rollback in fur prices has taken place, maybe we can get the dollar signs out of our eyes long enough to remember what pulled us out there in the first place — that we enjoyed it immensely.

And maybe it’s also time to remember how we got started trapping and start thinking a little harder about the need to pay it forward. Look around the next time you’re at a fur sale or trappers’ convention and see how few young people you see. There’ll be some kids and young adults, sure, but they’ll be badly outnumbered by people like me — gray-bearded old farts with cataracts, gimpy wheels and more wrinkles than a seersucker shirt.

There’s nothing we can do about the getting older part, but there’s a lot we can do about getting more young people into trapping. Every one of us has young people in our lives who would enjoy a day or two on the trapline if we’d just invite them to go. Maybe they’re relatives — nephews, nieces, grandkids, whatever. Maybe they’re the kids or grandkids of some of your friends.

Nor do they have to be kids. Although it’s not as common, some trappers come to this lifestyle fairly late in life. My wife Jill, for example, didn’t even know trapping still existed until I met her in 1998. But once she went on the line with me, she was hooked, and today she’s an accomplished trapper in her own right.

Mostly, though, we’re talking about younger people — kids and 20-somethings who like the outdoors but know nothing about trapping. Block out a weekend or two this year and introduce a few of these younger people to the world of the trapper. Not all of them will get bitten by the bug, but some of them will. Even the ones who don’t will have a better understanding about trapping and will be less susceptible to the lies of the anti-trapping groups.

Either of those outcomes is a good thing.

Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to modernmountainman@gmail.com. Visit his website at www.treblehookunlimited.com.



This column appeared in the December 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

You can pick up a copy of the digital issue on www.ShopDeerHunting.com.

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