School Days: Persistent Trapper Finds Success

1 School Daysw

Ben Smith, 13, West Virginia

Behind a never-give-up attitude, this West Virginia boy
trapped raccoons and muskrats


My name is Ben Smith. This is my first year of trapping. I live on a working cattle farm in Jackson County, W. Va., where we grow our own corn. I wanted to start trapping to keep the raccoon, coyote and muskrat populations down. The raccoons eat a lot of corn, the muskrats dig holes in the creek banks along our fields and the coyotes kill calves. My father has been encouraging and has seen that I have had time to take care of my trapping excursions.

On the first day of trapping season, I set out my traps and got up at 5 the next morning to find out they were all empty. Then I asked my mentor, Eddie Taylor, if he had caught anything. He had caught a ’possum. He told me it was not a good night to get anything.

In the month of November, I caught three raccoons all in the first week. I thought that I was doing pretty good and enjoyed getting out to check my trapline after school. It was an adventure.

Then in the month of December I had a dry period of several weeks. I was ready to throw in the towel and quit, but I continued to maintain my trapline and worked on redoing my sets and re-baiting. On the evening I found my first muskrat, I thought, “Glory be!”

After that, during the Christmas holiday, I caught three raccoons in three days. My biggest catch was on Christmas Eve. What a gift! I never gave up, and I learned that when you really want something, you have to be persistent and dig the hole a little deeper.

As the trapping season progressed and the weather got colder, the raccoons stopped moving and the creek froze over. I have turned more of my attention to trapping predators.

All trapping season there has been a sly fox turning a trap out of a hole, and I have not been successful in outsmarting him. So I moved another trap 24 inches from the pan of the first trap in an attempt to catch him. I am waiting!

“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps, Jim Spencer 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 Please include the trapper’s name, age and address.



This column appeared in the January 2015 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

You can pick up a copy of the digital issue on

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