So apparently May happened. I don’t know about the rest of you but I think I must have missed it when I blinked. It’s been a whirlwind of activity up here on the hill between pushing the long hours at work and taking care of the spring chores around the homestead. Last season’s pile of traps, twisted chain, and balled-up tie-wire still lay in a pile on the garage floor awaiting proper replacement back to their off-season storage. I made my last fur shipment by the skin (no pun intended) of my teeth this year. Every single year I tell myself in October that I’m going to get my trapped skins out to the tannery in a timely fashion, before the heat of spring starts to mess with the hides; and every May I’m still procrastinating to find the perfect decent sized box, and then play the unappealing game of Tetris with 20 or so very stiff animal skins. Once the skins are stretched and dried, they’ll last a good while if you can keep the heat and bugs off of ‘em – easier said than done. I can say that despite the late shipment (yet again), all my skins made it out and to the tannery BEFORE the hide beetles found their way into my hard earned fur.
The spring saw its typical influx in beaver control work – as traveling adolescents leave the lodges they’ve been accustomed to in search of a water body of their own. While the creation of new beaver ponds create excellent ecosystems, it’s important to remember that beavers are just like any other rodent – tenacious and diligent. With that being said, “bucky’s” new location for the bachelor pad may not exactly be in the most ideal place for the rest of nature, and man. This year, the common theme was plugging up newly installed culverts, as well as one very large and enginuitive dam in the middle of what was a four foot wide brook 5 months earlier – threatening to wash out a hay field for the landowner. Luckily, the majority of the jobs were in a decent radius of home to keep travel time down, a luxury not often had over the last decade of trapping. That being said, there’s truly something extra special about spring beaver trapping; I can’t quite put my finger on it, but you truly get a sense of rejuvenation by spending most of your time in the woods during nature’s spring “rebirth”. I figure it’s something the turkey hunter or trout angler could relate to. I was able to stash away several more pelts into the freezer for processing next fall, as well as stock some extra beaver meat for a hearty jerky.
I also figure it was high time to treat myself a few weeks back. I stopped in at the local leather shop to pick up a new wide-brimmed hat. Don’t get me wrong, I love the leather hat I currently use on the trap-line; but I found last season that there were times during the fall and spring where it simply seemed too heavy and hot. I prefer a wide-brimmed hat when walking the ‘line in temperatures above 30 degrees or so. The wide brim allows for additional water shedding during precipitation, keeps my neck and shoulders dry, and (as crazy as it sounds) amplifies noises and sounds around me in the dense and desolate forest. This time around, I settled on a 100% wool “fedora-style” hat made by Pendelton. One of the many things my father beat into my head growing up was if you have to wear anything in the woods, wear wool. Real, natural wool will keep you warm, even if it gets wet in cold temperatures. It’s also a very durable material. I expect to be very pleased with this piece of head-gear come trapping season.
As far as trapping related news, the Northeast has remained fairly quiet. The proposed bobcat season here in New Hampshire still remains up in the air, and I have not heard any “concrete” information from my sources in regards to the proposal. Maine’s battle with the influx in Lynx activity, and federal status has also seemed to fade into the backdrop. The local anti-trapping groups and supporters continue to squawk with the typical hemming and hawing – no real news there.
The New Hampshire Trapper’s Association has announced a “Beginner trapper hands-on workshop” scheduled for Friday, September 18th, during the annual NHTA Rendezvous weekend. I strongly urge those of you in the area to check it out. If you are new to trapping and want some hands-on experience, sign up to reserve your spot in the workshop. More information can be found on the NHTA website and Facebook page.
Finally, I have to give a shout-out to the crew over at the US Sportsman’s Alliance. Social media has transformed from a once small, cute, cuddly little critter into a ravenous, blood-thirsty, rabid wolverine. Everyone is an expert on everything, and everybody has an opinion and wants their voice heard in the ever growing market of the world-wide web. While this can be extremely beneficial for some; the old-school, down-home, honest roots of the trapper have reserved very little marketplace amongst the constant internet squabbling. While other outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and traversing have flourished in social media, the art of fur trapping remains the bastard child of the outdoor experiences. The creation of this blog, website, and its respective social media pages were created due to the very fact that the trapping marketplace remains comparatively small on the ‘net. So you can understand my excitement when other trapping support groups out there thrust the trapping trade into the spotlight on social media – a place where images of some bimbo’s rear-end tend to soar in popularity while an image of a beaver pelt evokes the relentless wrath of every bored vegan with a keyboard and WiFi.
Enter the USSA - one of the only national support organizations with the stones to “like”, “share”, and “tweet” the undeniable fact that trapping is a viable part of our heritage; on a regular basis, no less. I found solace in the fact that I’m not the only one with a drive to drag the subject of trapping kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. I recently had some choice words for USSA over on the LFAT Twitter page, after I joined their organization and received their “welcome package”. I accompanied it with an image I shot when I received the package. I have to say their marketing department touched it up nice. Thanks USSA for keeping the beneficial aspects of trapping on social media’s radar!