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Minnesota Trappers Association
Articles & Stories submitted by Minnesota Trappers

It was below zero when this collection was hung. But nobody felt the cold.
Good seasons are memories worth keeping. Bill

    "2021 - Getting in Shape for the Season"  ....Bill Adler
About 6 weeks ago, my wife suggested I join her exercise class so I would be in better shape for the upcoming trapping season. I guess maybe the fact that I could no longer mow the lawn without breaking a sweat or the fact most of my exercise was lifting a fork to my mouth, was incentive enough to push me to an organized exercise program. Like my mentors, Click and Clack—The Tappit Brothers, who used to talk about their wives being in better shape than they were, I figured I'd be able to out-perform 70-year-old women any day. Ho ho, the first session was an eye-opener! Those old women showed me their leg-lifting skills were much better than mine. Shamefully the only thing I could beat them at was weightlifting.

I call it 'sweatin' with the oldies' but my wife calls it, re-learning balance. Yup, I almost fell over several times per session until my balance improved. Today we lifted straight legs. I'm still pretty bad at it. Then we tried to touch our hands by reaching over the shoulder and up the back. Never could do it. Touching toes is more about stretching than it is about the touch. Balancing has gotten easier. High stepping, as in stepping over logs, is something I can use so I work hard at that. Getting up off the floor without having to use a chair or someone's out-stretched hand has gotten better. I no longer wheeze or breathe hard walking around the work-out room. And I'm developing newfound appreciation for 75-year-old women being more limber than I am. Now, If I can just get one older woman to help with the yard work, cleaning out the garage, washing exterior windows with the ladder or lifting anything over 30 pounds, life will be better.

So where do I think these exercise classes are going to pay off? For one, I can lift my legs fairly high, and this will help stepping over logs while wearing chest waders. Balancing on rocks should be easier, too. Carrying dead weight (traps or critters) for an extended period of time has been enhanced. As has steady breathing instead of sounding like I'm trying to catch my last breath when slogging through loon poop bogs. My wife was right about exercise, it gets easier the more you do it. I'm not convinced I want to try Pilates, Qi Gong or Tai Chi just yet. My balance isn't that good yet and being upstaged by a 75-year-old is pretty humiliating even if I can out-lift her. Stretching left and right will help me reach that support stick without falling in the mud. Standing on my tiptoes will also keep the water from pouring into my boots. Yep, exercise is good for me even if I'm the only guy in the class.

Carrying 3-550s, cable stakes and driver, 3-pound hammer, bait jar and setting pad is a compound lifting, carrying, and balancing act I can do now. Carrying a coon or coyote instead of dragging it through the muddy field will be easier. High stepping beaver trash as opposed to falling over it is now doable too. As my wife says, 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. I guess she's right.

Bill Adler

"Getting the Word Out" by Don McGaffey

    Trapping has a long history in North America. It is impossible to read anything about the expansion and settlement of our United States without realizing the importance that trapping, especially beaver trapping, played in the exploration and westward expansion. Trading posts became cities such as Saint Louis and Saint Paul and trade routes became highways. Trappers long predated the buffalo hunters, railroads, and farmers. The contributions that trapping provided this great country is well documented and preserved in history. The fur trade was well known to the common person and widely accepted because people understood the economic value if they knew nothing else about trapping.
    Today, our sport is a shadow sport. A few people know about trapping but know nothing ABOUT trapping. Our numbers are continually declining. Our society is becoming more metro based. Old timers are hanging up their traps and the recruitment of new trappers is low. Electronic gadgets, sports, and a long list of other things command young people’s attention. Lots of young people participate in hunting because they usually know someone that hunts, but very few know a trapper.
 Some years ago, I was contacted by Jo Colvin, a reporter for a local newspaper, about possibly doing an article about trapping. She had gotten my name from a colleague during a brainstorming session to come up with topics of interest to do stories on. Jo had never been exposed to trapping, or even hunting, but was intrigued enough to want to do the story. Jo was apprehensive because she had no clue what she was getting into and I was apprehensive because I had no clue how she would present trapping to her readers. Neither of our fears held merit. Jo expected to see blood and gore and was amazed that none of that existed and she wrote a very nice, supportive article. At the end of the day she told me that I should take other people along because people would be interested in finding out more about trapping first hand. And the idea of doing ride a longs was born.
 Every year I have taught a one day class at the local middle school (pre-Covid) about trapping and furbearers. For most of the approximately 300 kids I teach each year, it is their first exposure to trapping. I also do presentations for 4-H groups, Boy Scouts, and church groups.  I accept invitations to any group that provides me an opportunity to educate people. Booths at the county fair and the Alexandria Youth Outdoor Activity Day provide additional contact with youth. And they ask questions; LOTS of questions. Based on the interest they show, I offer to take them on the trapline with me. The offer is also extended to their parents. I have a business card that I give them so they have my contact information and maybe ten percent will call and actually take me up on the offer.
  My wife and I were trying to figure out how many people (it not just youth) that I’ve taken on the line and all we could come up with is “dozens”. There’s no better or easier way to get people to understand all the “pieces” to trapping than to show them first hand.
My offer isn’t reserved for people with a positive interest in trapping. I have taken folks out that were opposed to the sport because of the “cruelty” or some other belief that was not based in fact. I have never had a person end the day with the same beliefs about trapping that they started the day with. I have had people that still didn’t like it, but understood that the cruelty they thought they would see just wasn’t a reality. I have had people that were opposed to trapping end the day actually very much enjoying the experience and being supportive, even if they couldn’t participate themselves.
 Taking people out that want to learn to trap (mostly youth) is the highlight of the ride along. These riders are almost always full of a thousand questions. They can’t learn enough! A lot of them forget to eat their lunch! I can usually gauge which ones will continue trapping and which ones will determine it’s too much work or it’s not what they thought it would be by the number and type of questions they ask, but there are exceptions. When I took a young man named Caleb Englund, I think he was eleven, I’m not sure he said seventeen words the whole day unless I spoke to him first. He was very interested and attentive- he just didn’t talk. Fast forward three or four years and that same young man is very accomplished at snaring and catches an impressive collection every winter. I’m not a snareman so I can’t take any credit for his skills, but I would like to think that I helped spark the passion.
 Most riders are a one and done, but there are a few that want an additional ride. There have been several beginners that seek a deeper understanding of particular details of what they had previously observed. I have a young lady, Jessie Blanchard, that has ridden with me every year for the past three years. She has a genuine love for the outdoors and has deer, bear, and pheasant hunted with her dad in the past. When her dad passed away, she lost that connection to the sports she enjoyed. Riding with me reestablishes that connection and when she goes back to work, guess what she talks about: trapping! Jess is a nurse at the local hospital and has contact with lots of coworkers and patients. She’s a fantastic ambassador for trapping! Jess has set a couple of body grips in coon trails (and had the bruised knuckles to prove it) but she will never trap on her own. And I don’t care! The positive press she provides us is priceless!
The experience of being on an active trapline can’t be replicated at the field day. When a beginner sees a coyote, coon, or whatever actually caught, that fire that was already burning becomes an inferno!
 If you want to bring added enjoyment to your trapline, take someone with you. It’s good for you. It’s good for your guest and, most important, it’s good for trapping!

©️ Copyright 2022. MN Trappers Assn. All rights reserved.
©️ Copyright 2022. MN Trappers Assn. All rights reserved.
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