How to Swing a Dead Cat

Here’s the problem:

*Trappers are a tiny group, compared to the general population.

*Trappers are more independent and individualistic than most folks.

*Trappers are, in general, not very politically minded.

*Trappers are, in general, not joiners, either. (We’re individualistic, remember?)

*Trappers generally mind their own business and don’t meddle with other people.

*Trappers are mostly rural or small-town people, so even if we wanted to interact with lots of other folks, it would be hard to do.

Trapper & Predator Caller Editor Jim SpencerSee where this is headed? The things that make us trappers in the first place are also the things that work against us in defending our rights. We’re not loners, exactly, but still we like being alone. We like to figure things out for ourselves, and we want folks to not bother us. We’re happy to return the favor.

But that’s not the way the country works. Ours is a democratic republic. In case you’re not sure what that means, here’s the way a high-school history teacher once explained it to me:

“In a democratic republic, you can stand in a field and swing a dead cat as long as you want to,” Mr. Pugsley said. “Until you hit somebody else with it. When that happens, you have to stop swinging the cat.”

A few years later, a boot camp drill sergeant put it a different way:

“Your individual freedom stops at the tip of my nose.”

The problem is, the anti-trapping folks out there think we’re hitting them in the nose with our cat. We’re not, of course, but that’s how they feel.

They feel this way for several reasons, but the big one is they’re many of the things we’re not. They’re mostly urban, for one, and they’ve lost touch with the natural world in which things die as well as live – and usually in a less than pleasant manner. In many cases, these urban anti types are several generations removed from the land. They’re not bad people, they’re just woefully ignorant of reality. Their “real” world is subways and asphalt and high-rise buildings, and their idea of the outdoors is Central Park.

Another thing they are is social creatures. Because they live in a swarm of folks like themselves, city folk are more comfortable interacting with others and joining like-minded causes – like putting a stop to trapping and hunting, for instance.

They’re also political animals. Sure, a good many trappers vote when the elections roll around, but surveys show that active outdoor types are more than 15 percent less likely to vote than those who do not participate in outdoor sports. That’s a significant percentage, and I’d bet good money the gap is even wider for trappers. It goes back to that leave-me-be attitude.

Another important difference: urbanites are, in most cases, more affluent than trappers. Maybe not actually more affluent, but at least more likely to donate to their pet causes. Hunters and trappers spend their spare change on supplies for next season, but antis donate to groups that want to kill us off. Therefore, organizations like PETA and HSUS are better funded than pro-hunting, pro-trapping organizations like the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance.

All this is why it’s important that hunters and trappers vote. It’s also important that we overcome our isolationist tendencies and work with others who share our values and lifestyles. If you attended the recent FTA annual convention in Indiana, thank you. If you’ll be attending the NTA convention this month in Wisconsin, thanks again.

If both of those are too far away, that’s understandable. But somewhere this fall, there will be a state trappers convention within a day’s drive of your mailbox. Probably closer. I urge you to attend one or more of those conventions. I further urge you to join your state trappers association at least, and if possible one or both national organizations as well.
If we want to keep swinging our cats, we’d better start working together a little better.

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