Disclaimer: At the end of this article will be a photo pertaining to animals that some readers may find graphic. If this is you, please do not continue reading.
The breeze gently floats across my driveway this brisk Minnesota morning. I can hear the distant chatter of geese waking up on a small bay on Big Sandy Lake. Armed with a mug full of coffee and two precise goals for the day, I begins to gather my thoughts in my dual purpose garage (it functions as a Mancave, fur shed, meeting of the minds, quiet time for dad zone etc..).
Goal No. 1
Prepare for the 2019-2020 Minnesota Trapping Season
My tasks to achieve this goal are as follows in order of importance:
- Gather all my different traps and tools needed
- Prep my traps and tools (boil, dye, and wax as needed for scent control)
- Scrawl out my trap ID tags and attach them to my traps.
- Compile a list of locations and times for setting traps.
- Prepare for intense negotiations with my wife to settle on time allotment for trap setting, tending, and fur processing (any tips or free mediation services are welcome).
I fall into the South Furbearer Zone as designated by the MNDNR. You can find the zones with this link on Page 49 of the regulations book.
Goal No. 2
Reflect and Share Thoughts
As I type this article, two of my leaky-nosed kids shuffle into the garage. They are equipped with breakfast rations supplied by mama bear and they are excited for this particular edition of Sunday-Mornings-With-Dad. In attempting to complete all of my goals, they get to watch a few minutes of “How to Train Your Dragon” on Netflix.
After securing comfy spots, blankets, water cups, and making sure any other basic little-human needs are met. I return to the keyboard with a clearer focus of why I am sharing this snippet of my life with the world; I believe whole-heartedly that someone out there may appreciate the following reflections.
My Short Time as a Trapper
I am now 29 years old and have always enjoyed the outdoors; camping, hunting, fishing. I am always on the hunt for new skills and activities I can learn and pass on to my young kids. A few years back, I completed an free online Trapper Education Course and Field Day put on by the Minnesota Trappers Association; a non-profit organization in Minnesota. At the time that I took the course, my wife and I had only two children. We were proud owners of a 2014 model and a newer 2016 model both with various different upgrades and trim packages. With the kids being young, I figured it was a good time to start gaining skills with hopes that when it came time to take them along on my outdoor adventures, that I would be a full-bearded mountain man; able to tame a mountain lion and speak the native language of a Minnesotan coyote.
The Trapper Education Course was put on by a passionate man named Shawn Johnson, a member of the Minnesota Trappers Association. It was an early spring morning when he shared with us his knowledge, experiences, and home somewhere north of Duluth. A group of novice outdoors-men and women stood around attentively listening to Shawn. His enthusiasm was palpable that day and flowed like the Mississippi river after the 2012 flood; strong and unstoppable. Throughout the morning we learned how to make various sets, how to skin a beaver, and most important of all, the ethics of trapping.
I took away from that course, a very basic knowledge of trapping and a nagging excitement to get out there and try it for myself.
Fast Forward to 2018-2019 Trapping Season
I read the regulations, got my license, gathered all the basic tools, and watched all the how-to videos YouTube could provide for beginner trapper. That first season out, I successfully harvested beaver, muskrat, and a river otter. Some of the tanned fur sits to the right of me hanging on a rusty old nail in my garage (as seen in the earlier picture). My use for this fur will be to make an honest attempt at crafting hats, gloves, and other accessories for friends and family.
In addition to the fur draped on that rusty nail, hangs the main reflection of this article. On that rusty nail hangs pride and memories shared by my children and I. Each piece of fur hanging on that nail are forever entangled with the memories of setting and tending traps with my young children. Each piece of fur hanging on that nail represent lessons for my kids and for myself about hard work, perseverance, and the undeniable fact that if you challenge yourself with something difficult and outside of your comfort zone, and work at it day in and day out, you will succeed.
This reflection, for me, is powerful. It stokes the deep burning fire inside of me as a father and outdoorsman and propels me to get out and experience the wintertime wilderness in Minnesota.
I understand the harsh appearance trapping may have at a glance to someone that has no experience or knowledge of trapping. I also understand that there are people that do not share the same views on animals and conservation as I do. I hold a respect for anyone with difference of opinions on the subject, but as I sit here preparing and reflecting for my second season trapping, I cannot restrain the excitement.
Much like the equipment getting prepped to battle against the weather, wits, and overall challenges mother nature produce, I prepare myself.
I prepare to experience the outdoors with my children. I prepare to create rich memories with them that will last my lifetime, and hopefully trickle down throughout their generation, and the generations to follow.