December 2006 School Days

A Backyard Fisher 

Joe Zottoli
 Holden, Massachusetts, Age 11

I live in Holden, Mass., which has very little trapping habitat within biking range of my home, so I end up trapping in the backyards of neighbors who give me permission.

Two weeks before trapping season, the doorbell rang. I answered it thinking my little brother had locked himself outside again, but I was wrong. It was my neighbor.

He told me he had been hearing unusual screaming in the woods behind his house at night. I said it was probably a fisher or a fox, and it wouldn’t hurt a human as long as it was healthy.

A week later, my neighbor returned. His cat had disappeared.

I said I would try to trap whatever animal was living in the woods during fur season if he was willing to wait. He eagerly accepted.

On the first day of trapping season, I found myself in the woods behind my neighbor’s house wiring chicken flesh to the back of my cage trap.

I set the trap between a boulder and a thick bush and covered the sides and top with hemlock branches.

I woke up early before school the next morning to check the trap.

As I approached the area, I could hear the trap door rattling. The closer I got, the harder my heart pumped. As I peered through the cage, I finally saw a full-grown male fisher staring me in the face.

After my dad dispatched the fisher, we removed it from the trap.

It measured 41 inches from head to tail. It took me two hours to skin, flesh and board the fisher, but it was worth every minute of it. The pelt now hangs on my wall, and I will never take it down.

Hopefully, my neighbor will hear noises next year, too.

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