Trappers are a minority group within a minority group, and those of us who are members of this subculture are well aware of it. We’re so small a group that many (if not most) of the people in this country don’t know a single active trapper. In fact, there are even many hunters and anglers out there who don’t know any trappers.
Most of us sort of like it that way, but in a nutshell, this is the biggest danger to our chosen sport. Most of our fellow Americans know little or nothing about us, and therefore they have no understanding of what we do. Basically, they’re not interested in us, and the only things they “know” about us are the things they’re told by others.
That wouldn’t be all that bad, except for two trifling little facts: First, non-trappers outnumber trappers by a huge margin. Second, most of the information non-trappers receive about trapping and about trappers is propaganda put out by groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Since those organizations have never been inclined to let the truth interfere with the perpetuation of their anti-trapping agenda, the way all this shakes out is that trappers are in trouble — not so much for the things we do as for the things we don’t do.
To be more specific, one of the things we don’t do so well is selling ourselves and our activities to the non-trapping public.
It goes to what I wrote in the first paragraph of the “Trapping With Your Sweetie” piece that appears elsewhere in this issue: We’re basically loners, and as such, we’re not very comfortable with explaining our activities and interests to others — especially those folks who don’t understand us or don’t agree with us. We just want to be left to ourselves, so we can do our thing, and we’re more than happy to return the favor.
Problem is, the modern world doesn’t work that way. It ought to, but it doesn’t. That’s why it’s important that trappers get past some of this “leave me alone” attitude and do a little self-promotion.
There are dozens of ways to do it. Hunter education programs, nature centers, 4-H groups and other organizations of this type are hungry for outdoor-type programs, and these are a great way for trappers to educate young folks about who we are and what we do. Most state trapper associations and both national trapper organizations have outreach education programs such as trapper education workshops. Many state organizations have booths at county and state fairs to educate the public about trapping.
I’d bet a dozen #330s against a rusty Pogo washer that at least some of the biology or science teachers right in your home town would be receptive to the idea of a well-presented trapping show-and-tell, especially if it was supplemented with a collection of skulls and tanned furs.
Animal damage control trappers have a golden opportunity to educate the public, and many of us do nuisance control work on at least an occasional basis. I don’t do nuisance control often, but when I do, I’m always looking for a way to strike a blow for the cause.
This kind of grass-roots activism on the part of trappers goes a long way toward fighting the propaganda war that’s being constantly waged against us by PETA, HSUS and the like. Many trappers among our ranks are already out there making these educational efforts, gaining supporters, fighting back.
How about you?
Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark. is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send mail to P.O. Box 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519 or e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.