As the season nears, trappers are readying their tools
There are two types of trappers —those who enjoy working on their traps during the offseason and those who don’t. I’m in Category 1, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.
Normally, I don’t like working on things. I don’t even change my own oil. About the most mechanical thing you’ll ever catch me doing is cleaning my guns every once in a while and pumping grease into the lower unit of my jet outboard.
And yet, if you want to see a truly happy man, come by our place some hot summer afternoon when I’m out by the fur shed surrounded by half a ton of steel traps. I’ll be dirty as a mole turd and sweating like an August lumberjack, but trust me, I’ll be having the time of my life. Sneak up close without me seeing you and you’ll more than likely hear me humming or whistling.
As noted, not everybody feels that way. Some trappers find this work tedious and unpleasant. But like it or not, cleaning and putting a protective coating on your traps — whether by cold dipping, painting, waxing or whatever — is a much-needed annual chore. Traps are expensive and getting more so every year. Proper treatment and care before and after the season will lengthen their useful life and save you money. Also, a trap that’s been properly adjusted and then dyed, waxed or dipped properly will perform better and catch more fur than a non-tweaked, non-treated trap.
That’s why I wrote a piece for this issue of the magazine that details some effective and efficient methods of putting a protective coating on traps. The methods in that piece certainly aren’t the only ways to protect traps; they’re merely how I do it after more than 50 years of trial and error. There’s no information in my piece about trap adjustment and modification, because it’s much too complex a subject to be covered in a magazine article. That’s material for a book, and there are several good ones already written. The best is probably the late Charlie Dobbins’ Adjustment of Leghold Traps.
Is this an old, worn-out subject? Maybe so, if you’re a grizzled old veteran with your own favorite methods. To repeat, there are many ways to do it besides mine. But the fur boom, record unemployment and widespread resurgence in the back-to-the-country movement has brought a large influx of newbies into trapping. That’s why Managing Editor Jared Blohm and I believed it was time to revisit the topic. These newcomers might appreciate the help, and it never hurts for us old salts to be reminded of simple and effective ways to do routine things.
Wherever you pitch your tent, though, veteran or newcomer, like this stuff or hate it, whether you wax, dip, paint or dye, trapping season is just around the corner. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to get your traps ready. Better things are just ahead.
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.