Tyler Huizenga, 16, Orange City, Iowa
Despite hardships, Iowa boy’s focus remains on helping his mentor run their trapline
I joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, and I was matched up with a guy named Brent DeBoer. We did a lot of hunting and fishing together, and he decided to take me trapping for the first time. During the summer, we caught a bunch of bluegills and cut them up for bait. Brent did all the preseason work, such as scouting, preparing the traps and tools, and dropping off the box traps. We were ready for opening day.
On opening day, Brent picked me up, and we went to the first location. We watched our watches until 8 a.m. struck, and then we set traps like warriors. We mainly set bridges, creeks, fence lines and farms. The traps we used included bodygrip traps, footholds, snares and box traps. Out trapline was around 75 miles long. I mainly watched Brent dig, set and bed the traps. We set all day long and got done around 6 p.m. Brent had permission to trap around a public pond so he made me set a couple of beaver snares by myself. We were dead tired and very sore. We had set roughly 150 traps.
The next morning, we went to go check the traps. We also brought two new guys with us. We started off somewhat slow but ended the day with great success. Everyone had a fun time and learned something new.
I could only go with Brent on the weekends because I had school. So, every night after school, I would call him to get the updates. Four days later, Brent said he was stopping by with something that was in one of the snares I had set. He pulled in the driveway and pulled out a 50-pound beaver. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
After two weeks, Brent had to pull all of the traps and get back to his real job. I had a blast and look forward to next year. This was something that was a new, fun good experience. I’ll have great memories forever. Also, I had caught my first beaver, raccoon, mink and muskrat.
Brent DeBoer, who was a “School Days” winner himself in the 2006 Trapper & Predator Caller Yearbook, sent a follow-up note to Tyler’s story earlier this fall:
I hope things are going well for you guys. I’m writing this letter as a follow-up to the previous “School Days” story I had sent in January. The story I had sent previously was about Tyler Huizenga and his first experience in trapping. After the season, we were in his basement, and we wrote the original story. I had lost it while moving houses but later found it and typed it up. So, that’s the story on how it got sent in. I never told Tyler that I typed it up and sent it in because he finally forgot about it, and I wanted to surprise him.
Now the main reason I’m writing this is to give an update on Tyler’s current life situation. He is now 18 years old and a senior in high school. Roughly 10 years ago, he had a run-in with cancer in his right leg but made it through treatment and remission. During the past month, he found a growth on the same leg and had it checked out. Sadly, the cancer came back. The doctors had to remove his right leg about 6 inches past his kneecap. So my main concern was to see if you would add this small part to his story. Right now, this could really lift his spirits. He has missed a good portion of school and can’t run cross country.
When I talked to him about his surgeries and how he was coming along, all he could talk about was trapping this fall. He totally avoided the cancer subject and focused on trapping. He apologized so many times that he wouldn’t be able to help me this fall. My goal for this fall is to have him ride along as long as the pain isn’t too much for him. Thank you so much for your time.
“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. Winners receive six traps, a Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education video, an NTA handbook and a membership to their state’s trappers association. To be considered, send a 300- to 500-word story and photo of the trapper or hunter with a catch, kill, fur or trap to: School Days, The Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990; or firstname.lastname@example.org.