Posted: 1/9/2003 10:43:37 AM EDT
Went with a relation to check his trap line last weekend, which is something I had only done once before when I was a kid. We checked about a dozen traps he had set up the week before. He is primarily looking to catch bobcats, as their pelts are worth about $160.
He set his traps up next to a tree or cliff face, and creates a little enclosure with branches so that there is only one way in. The trap is set in the entrance, and he puts rocks around it so there is only one place to step. The actual bait is some bobcat glands that are ground up and aged for a year. As you can imagine it smells and looks awful. Kind of like stringy diarhea. I guess the animals are curious and want to check it out. He also spreads some skunk smell mixed with vaseline on nearby branches.
The first trap we checked had a grey fox in it. I had never seen one of these up close before; they are about the size of a big housecat. It is a very pretty animal with grey and red fur.
It was still alive with its foot caught in the trap. The trapper was pretty pissed to have caught the fox; their pelts are only worth $15 or so. We circled around it until it stayed still, and then he shot in between the eyes with a Ruger 22 pistol. It fell over, blood flowed out of its ear, and it kicked for ten seconds or so. "Pretty brutal, eh" he chuckled, maybe a little embarrassed. We pulled it out of the trap and threw it in the back of the truck. He said his daughter was going to be pissed that we caught a fox, because she loves to be there when he catches them. It was a cute little thing. We reset the trap, which took a while because the fox had messed it up.
That was kind of the high point of the trip. Four traps had squirels in them. All but one of them were dead. The one that was alive was difficult to get out of the trap. He tried to bite the hammer the trapper was using to pry the trap open. After the squirel got out he ran off. His arm was mangled and was flapping around. Another trap had a dead grey fox in it. The trapper said this was unusual - they can usually survive for several weeks in the trap. That particular trap was close to a road; perhaps someone put it out of its misery. Another trap had a grey fox leg in it; maybe a lion or other predator took the rest. Another trap had a cottontail in it, and several more had been sprung by who knows what.
He usually catches one bobcat a week or so, which almost makes it financially worthwhile. With only two foxes and no cats, he was pretty disaponted.
It was nice to get out and see the country. That is probably most of the reason why does it, as he is obviously not going to get rich trapping. Experiencing the outdoors is one of the reasons I hunt; I suppose I could do that without killing, but I doubt I would enjoy it or get out as much. The animals pay a price for my pleasure, but I think it can be justified by the fact that I end up consuming them. But the trapping is a little tuffer to justify in my mind; somehow the fact that the skins are sold, the commercial aspect of it, is distasteful. But some person, most likely in another country, will end up consuming the fur.
The fact that so many "innocent bystanders" get caught does not bother me for some reason. Just glad I am not a squirel.
I don't have any particular point to make with this, it has just been on my mind.
Interesting story. I run into very few trappers. I may get into it someday, but the legal implications of doing it anywhere on public land in the east is sorta scary.
They outlawed body gripping traps here a couple years ago, including mole traps. [rolleyes] Welcome to the liberal invasion into my world.