How-to Stories Are Still Backbone of T&PC

Last month, this space was devoted mostly to the current and future content of this magazine. A little bit more on that topic this month:

“I think it would be cool to see some one-on-one interviews with some good trappers, like Bob Noonan used to do,” said one user in a thread on the forums not long ago. “I always enjoyed those interviews.”

We’ve been doing some brainstorming regarding the content of future issues, and while neither Jared nor I are going to get away from the how-to stuff this magazine has always been full of, we want to mix in some new stuff, too. Coincidentally, one of the things we were talking about when that thread was being written was a series of interviews and/or profile pieces on well-known (and maybe some not-so-well-known) trappers. I enjoy reading those interviews and profile pieces, too, and I’d like to see us get back into that vein.

“Some of the [current] articles are getting kind of redundant,” the above-mentioned forum member continued. “But it’s still a good mag.”

I agree with both of those statements. I’d deny that first one. Only trouble is, it’s true. Some of the how-to stuff we’ve published over the past eight to 10 years has been redundant. As a for-instance, since the beginning of this brave new century, I’ve personally written 17 articles for this magazine on mink trapping, the most recent one appearing just last month. Lord knows how many mink-related articles by other folks have appeared here in that same time frame.

Now, granted, mink have, until fairly recently, been my stock in trade as a trapper, and I still prefer mink trapping to most other types. Also, all 17 of those pieces have dealt with different aspects of mink trapping: bodygrip traps for mink, luring mink, setting high-bank travelways for mink, putting up mink, dry sets for mink, best traps for mink and so forth.

But if you pressed me, I’d probably concede that 17 stories in nine years about the same species of critter might be — for lack of a better word — a teensy bit redundant.

Like I said in last month’s editorial, I think part of this redundancy problem is simply a matter of perception and growth. The biggest difference between trapping 30 years ago and trapping today is that information sources are everywhere now — books, videos, personal instruction, seminars, Web sites, magazines like this one, even a TV show or two. Information that used to be guarded as zealously as a mama wolf guards her pups is now common knowledge and is talked about by 14-year-olds with two seasons of trapping under their belts. Sure, we all argue about which of the 18 versions of the dirthole set is the best, but the point is, we all know about all those versions.

In short, trappers are much better informed today than they were when I was a kid, because information is much more widespread and more easily available. Therefore, we tend to view most of the how-to stuff with a ho-hum attitude, because we know all that stuff already. Or at least we think we do.

Still, the how-to stuff is important, and we’re not going to abandon those kinds of articles. Look at this month’s lineup if you don’t believe me. We have new trappers coming into the sport every year, and it’s important to help educate those folks. It’s also important to keep re-educating us old goats who think we know it all, because we don’t. There are still fresh ways of looking at trapping techniques and methods, and we’ll keep on looking for voices to show us those fresh ways.

So, like I told you last month, if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see us cover, let us know. Just as important, if you have an idea you’d like to write about for our pages, contact Managing Editor Jared Blohm ( and lay it out for him. That’s where 90 percent of our magazine stories come from.

Also, regarding this “interviews and profiles of accomplished trappers” idea, please tell us if there’s a particular trapper you’d like to see featured in one of these pieces. This isn’t a cast-in-stone deal just yet, but we’re pretty sure we’re going to move forward with it in some way. We’d like your input regarding the trappers you’d like to know more about.

Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to

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