Gunning for the Record

My name is Heather Stead. I am 7 years old. When I was 6, I really wanted to trap with my dad but I couldn’t set the conibears or footholds. Then one day, Dad handed me a colony trap, picked me up and carried me out into the ditch because my boots weren’t tall enough and told me to lean over and put the trap in the muskrat run. I was so excited. Wow, I was trapping! I set six more traps and then we left and continued on Dad’s trapline.

The next morning I kept asking Dad, “When are we going to check my traps?” He has two lines and checks one line one day and the other line the next. Finally, he got this big smile on his face and said, “If we hurry checking the first line, maybe we can check part of our second line.”

We hustled all morning and we finally stopped at my ditch. The first two traps had nothing. The third set held my first rat. I yelled, “Yahoo!” and Dad said, “Good job, trapper girl.” The fourth set had nothing. The fifth set had another rat. Yes! The sixth and seventh set also had nothing. I ended my first year with eight rats.

The next year, for my birthday present, I got hip boots. That was great. The bad thing was I had to wait seven days for muskrat season to open. The boots are really big, but it’s fun wading in the water. Dad holds my hand so I don’t fall and keeps calling me his “trapper girl.”

Dad has taken me on the trapline since I was 2 years old. He would carry me on one hip and held his pail of traps with the other hand. So, I have learned about muskrat runs, den entrances, floating cuttings, droppings on logs and stones and paths going up the banks.

During my second year of trapping, I had four doubles in my colony traps. One double was a muskrat and a female mink! My second season’s total catch was 16 rats and one mink. I am looking forward to next season to see if I can set a new record again.

“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. Winners receive six traps, 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 a photograph of the trapper or hunter with a catch, kill, fur or trap to: School Days, The Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.

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