It didn’t take me long to get egg on my face in this new gig. The September issue had barely reached my mailbox when I got a call from Cindy Seff, long-time member, former president and tireless advocate of the Arizona Trappers Association. Cindy politely but firmly chided me for leaving a false impression about the trappers in her state with a passing reference I made on this page in September.
The subject was the life and lifestyle of trapping, and here’s what I wrote: “When something is this important, you do whatever is necessary to protect and promote it. You don’t seek out confrontation, but you don’t back down from it, either. Nor do you compromise; if trappers haven’t learned anything else in the past 30 years, we ought to have at least learned that. Ask trappers in Arizona what compromise got them.”
That reference was to Arizona’s infamous Proposition 200, which was passed by the Arizona legislature about 20 years ago. Prop 200 effectively ended public-land trapping in Arizona.
Cindy’s objection was that I made it sound as though the trappers of Arizona compromised away their right to trap on public land. When I re-read the editorial, I had to agree with her; I did make it sound that way. Allow me to set the record straight: That’s not what I intended. What I meant was, the outdoor community of Arizona – hunters, anglers and other outdoor-oriented folk – did the compromising, and in the process they threw trappers under the bus.
When Prop 200 was first advanced by Arizona’s bunny-hugger contingent, it was worded so broadly it virtually prohibited the lethal take of any type of wildlife on public land in Arizona – including not only trapping but also hunting and fishing as well.
The Arizona Trappers Association led the fight against the proposed legislation, but they had strong support from hunters, anglers, gun dealers, fishing tackle retailers and a lot more. Prop 200 was defeated that time, but the bunny-huggers, realizing their mistake, narrowed the focus to trapping only, and ran it back up the flagpole in the very next legislative session.
Arizona’s hunters and fishermen no longer had a dog in the hunt, so they didn’t care and they didn’t rally against the measure as they had done previously. The A.T.A., financially strapped from waging the legal battle such a short time before, couldn’t carry the ball alone, and as a consequence they lost their right to trap public land. It wasn’t Arizona’s trappers who compromised, it was the non-trappers who failed to support them.
Which underscores the point I was trying to make in that editorial in the first place: we can’t ever let our guard down, and we can’t ever compromise, because any time we do, we lose ground. Maybe that’s paranoid, but being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
On another entirely unrelated topic, I got a call a day or two later from a lifelong trapper and longtime friend who took me, the magazine and Field Editor Hal Sullivan to task for Sullivan’s “End of the Line” column on farten in the September issue. The farten, an imaginary hybrid between the fisher and the marten, is the sort of thing that could only have come from the brain of somebody like Hal. He’s written about farten in several columns before the one he wrote this past September, and of course each time, Hal always uses the obvious wordplay to take things to their logical, um, end.
“This is a family magazine,” Gary said. “We don’t need that kind of stuff in it. That column reminded me of a fourth-grade kid who’s just learned a new cuss-word, and he’s trying to use it as often as he can. It’s juvenile and offensive.”
Hmmm. I can see Gary’s point – I guess. But my opinion (and I told him this) is that he may be overreacting just a tad.
I’d like to hear some opinion from you on this. My sense of humor has always been questionable, or so I’ve been told, and I may just be full of hot air on this whole farten issue.
Not that anybody on this magazine staff or anywhere else in the world has any control over Hal Sullivan, you understand. Hal can’t even control himself, not with farten or anything else. And he’s already put both Jared Blohm and me on notice that we are not allowed to edit his humor pieces. He says we’re not funny.
So, I suppose my advice here is two-fold: If you don’t like Hal’s farten columns, just turn your nose up at them. Also, never get trapped in an elevator with him.
Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send snail mail to P.O. Box 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519 and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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