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When you think about the beauty of our natural world around us, you very seldom think about the complexity involved in the true workings of nature. Whether one believes in Creation or evolution you can’t escape the reality that nature has an extremely fine balance for all living things.
To believe that we as humans are not a vital part of that balance would be extremely naïve. If we remove man from that balance, nature will balance in other ways, very cruel ways, but it will balance. Nature will use starvation and disease, which is a much harder way to die when compared with hunting, fishing or trapping.
Today I want to speak of trapping, which is one of the most misunderstood tools used to help manage our wildlife population. Many of our furbearers have little natural predators to help control their populations as many are predators themselves. I view three main reasons for hunting, fishing or trapping. Number one is food (does this animal help put food on the table); number two is for the wildlife benefit (does the managed harvest benefit this animals population as a whole to keep them in balance); and last are what are the impacts to the environment in the management of the animals.
It is easy to see the food produced from a harvested deer, but what about a raccoon, opossum, bobcat, muskrat, or beaver. I hear people talking about how people could kill just for the skin, but every one of the above mentioned furbearers are also very good to eat. Many of the old timers ate each of them every chance they got (and they are delicious to say the least, although the opossum is a little on the greasy side), and it played an important role in their survival. When the trapper sells the skin, that money puts even more food on their table, kind of double dipping.
As for number two trapping has long been used for help Conservation Departments, DNRs, and Game and Fish agencies for the purpose of restocking, and tagging for research in addition to population control for many, many years as it is the most effective tool available for this purpose.
As for number three, if you have ever had a farm and tried to raise alfalfa you have experienced deer damage. If you have a stream crossing your property, beavers start cutting the trees that keep your fields from washing away, or muskrats burrowing through a pond bank, or skunk thinks he needs to den under your house, or coon in the attic (I am sure you have the idea).
I hear people talk about how cruel trapping is, and if you come up on a trapped animal you will see them pulling against the trap, just like a child in a toy store that mom has a hold of the child’s arm in an attempt to not have to buy hundreds of dollars in toys. In fact I think my kids were always making everybody think they were being killed every time they didn’t get free.
The truth is that if the trapper has experience very seldom is there non-targeted animals caught or wildlife caught in the wrong size trap that damages the fur which is also how the animals are hurt. Often I have caught animals such as raccoons and opossums and they would be just sitting there waiting when I arrived. I strongly encourage any would be trapper to study and find an experienced trapper to help them get started the right way. It is very important for the sake of the animals as well as the future of trapping to be professional, have respect for and be humane to the animals that we harvest, and to educate the non-trapping public of the benefits both to the wildlife population and to man. Trapping is in fact a very regulated and the most beneficial wildlife management tool for our wildlife biologist to help us have the largest and healthiest fur bearer population in recorded history of man.
Be sure and check your wildlife regulations before hunting, fishing, or trapping as these regulations are how they manage one of our greatest assets. There are any number of great recipes for all kinds of wildlife that you will find to be as good as any meal that can be put on a plate on the Internet (thank goodness for Google). There are many very good books, also downloadable from the net, to help you get off on the right foot with your trapping adventure.
One of the greatest aids that you can find would be to become a member of the Fur Takers of America, National Trappers Association, as well as your state trappers associations. Many of their events will vary, from fur sales to demonstrations as to how to make sets, make bait, skin, dry, and help keep you informed of what is going on many fronts.
I had intended to go in more detail on some sets, and recipes than I did, but had I enough to say and not enough room in this article. I hope that this will give are more realistic view of something that is not well understood and because of that it often gets a bad rap that is unearned.
If you would like to talk about trapping, buy some traps, or have your trophies mounted (yes we mount furbearers) come by the store, Kosh Trading Post, 206 Bingham St., Koshkonong, Mo., or call 417-280-6304. Also check out our web site koshtradingpost.angelfire.com or Facebook page at KoshTradingPost.