Tackling the Mess

The 2010-2011 trapping season is still in session for Northern trappers who go after beavers and muskrats after ice-out. But for most of us, it’s over for another year, discounting the occasional nuisance complaint. Time to start thinking about fishing, or turkeys, or whatever it is that occupies your time between trapping seasons.

But before those off season things fully grab hold, now is a good time to straighten up the inevitable mess that a long, arduous trapping season makes of a fellow’s trapping equipment. Or, at least it’s inevitable for a guy like me. I can turn an organized work area into a horrible cluttered mess in the blink of an eye, let alone over the course of a three-month trapping season.

Jim Spencer, executive editor of Trapper & Predator CallerTherefore, by season’s end, my trapping equipment and work area are pretty much trashed. No matter how well organized and well tuned my stuff is when the season opens, by the end of the season, it looks like a cyclone hit it.

There are good reasons, of course, for not taking the time during the season to keep things perfectly organized. For one, I’d rather spend those precious winter hours setting and tending a trapline than keeping my stuff in order.

On the other hand, a certain amount of continuing organization of my truck, boat and fur shed is necessary even during the height of trapping season, or else things quickly deteriorate into a horrible state of gridlock that cuts into my effectiveness and efficiency.

But by and large, anything I can let slide during trapping season, I let slide — the result being that by wrap-it-up time, there’s a whole lot of catch-up and clean-up that needs doing before I can even start getting ready for next year.

The first thing I usually do is take care of my supply of lures, baits and urine. In the old days, I used to think that a partially used bottle of lure needed to be thrown away because it wouldn’t be any good the following year. I know better now, but the fact remains that an opened bottle of lure needs some attention so you can store it properly for next year. Cleaning the threads of the bottle and the threads of the lid is a good idea, and if you have a small refrigerator in your shed or shop, storing both opened and unopened lures in an airtight container in that refrigerator is also a good idea.

Otherwise, keeping them in a relatively cool place over the summer is usually acceptable. Either way though, cleaning those threads is important, because it lets you get a good seal on the bottle and helps prevent spoilage and/or mold. And it’s best to do it sooner rather than later.

My power washer gets a good workout during this post-season period. I spread all my dirty traps out on a concrete slab in my backyard, put on a rain suit, and give them a thorough washing. Then I sort them by size, give them a good inspection and set all those aside that need repair or adjustment.

After the initial cleaning and sorting is done, it’s time to take a thorough equipment inventory. I make a shopping list of the supplies I need for the next season, and then break the list down into the things I need to buy right away — trap parts to make repairs, for example — and the things that can wait until I attend the conventions during summer.

By then it’ll be turkey season and so for the next couple of months nothing related to trapping is going to happen around my place. But after turkey season is in the can, I’ll spend odds and ends of time during the summer and early fall chipping away at the seemingly endless list of things that will need to be done before next trapping season rolls around — boiling and waxing traps, fine-tuning equipment, making snares, cleaning the fur shed, gathering and preparing bait, on and on. It seems like there’s always something that needs doing.

None of this, understand, is in any way meant as a complaint. The trapping lifestyle — all of it — has intrigued me from the day I first held a #1 longspring in my hands. As long as I am doing something that has to do with trapping, you can take it to the bank that I’m a happy man.

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

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