A perfect January day on the trapline with his dad
and brother proved to be memorable
My name is Evan Richter, and I was 10 years old when I caught my first muskrats. It was a brisk Saturday in January when I asked my dad if we could go muskrat trapping since I knew there was no ice on the marsh. He said, “Why not?” so I packed four bodygrip traps in my packbasket along with rubber gloves and boots and placed it all in our car.
When my dad, my brother Russell and I got to the marsh, I collected four sticks to stabilize the traps. The first set I made was in a muskrat trail that went under a clump of grass. I put the stick through the spring and shoved it toward the bottom of the marsh and moved down the line.
The second set I made is where I found a pinch point in their trail. Another set I made was a setion in the muskrats’ trail where a stick went over the trail, forcing them to dive under the limb. I put a #110 bodygrip trap there. The last set I made was in a trail right next to what looked like the main lodge. This set looked good.
Sunday morning, I could not stand my excitement to go check the traps. I had my chores done and equipment packed before my brother was even awake. When we pulled into the marsh, I could hardly wait for my brother and my dad to put their boots on. Finally, we set off on the short walk to the marsh. I was 20 feet in front of them the whole way.
At the first set we came upon, I looked around and didn’t see anything until I looked closer and saw a brown blob in the water! I was beside myself with joy in catching my first muskrat, and it was a big one. I still had three sets to check though. Russell and I began a fast walk to the next set, where I pulled out yet another jumbo muskrat. The third set was a bit harder to find because my stabilizing stick was not sticking out of the water, but I could see the branch the muskrats had to dive under where I had set my trap. I finally found the stabilizer stick and slid my hand down to pull up my trap to reveal yet another marsh muskrat. Now with the confidence of having three muskrats under my belt, I knew I would catch another one, and I did!
Now all my sets were checked and pulled. I went home to skin and flesh the muskrats. My dad was nice enough to send all of the muskrats to the tannery, so now I have all four muskrat pelts in my room.
“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. Winners receive six Duke traps, Jim Spencer’s Guide to Trapping book, 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 high-quality photo of the trapper to School Days, Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990; or email the story and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the trapper’s name, age and address.
This column appeared in the December 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.
You can pick up a copy of the digital issue on www.ShopDeerHunting.com.
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