Recently, we had a customer stop by who wanted to start stocking up for this upcoming season. Not too out of the ordinary, really, but don't roll your eyes and move on just yet.
We struck up a conversation which turned to how he is going to teach a young neighbor boy the basics of trapping this year and was getting a few supplies for him to get him started. His reasoning behind such a task was that he was first and foremost excited to get out trapping after many years of not participating, and was equally as happy to get a youngster interested not only in the outdoors, but in trapping. He reminisced on his first years of trapping with a few rusty old traps he found in an old shed and how he caught enough to sell and buy a brand new trap the next year. This customer was also planning on skinning and stretching beavers for the first time this year due to the fact that even if he messed up the hides, it wasn't going to ruin his chance for a lot of money anyway, due to the markets being where they are currently. Some good points and forward thinking.
Both Kylee and I agreed that these slower market years provide ample opportunity to take the time to train a younger generation, hone skills one already possesses, and try a few new things as well. Sure, many of you take your own children or grandchildren on the line, but do you reach out to neighbors and friends? They don't even have to be "youngsters"! Youths learn quickly and are more likely to take up trapping as a skill and hobby, but adults may also benefit from a walk/ride on the trapline. They may not want to run a line every day with you, or help you skin your catches if that's what you do, but they might like to ride along one morning and learn the basics. Teaching small lessons here and there about the habits of wild creatures, the overall purpose of trapping, ethics you use on the trapline, what happens to the furs, and sharing in the joy of the catch can make a great difference down the road. Even if they don't become trappers themselves, your children, friends, and neighbors have a voice in conversations they hold and in votes they cast. The more they know about trapping, the better off this industry will be in the future. Learning and forming an opinion from a first-hand experience is much better than what they may gather from "hear-say" or see on social media.
As always, we encourage you to at least consider taking someone new on the trapline. It doesn't have to be the whole line (we know how secretive your locations are and for good reason!), but even just taking them along to set a new trap and seeing first hand how useful and fun trapping can be is a good lesson for all. I know I always enjoy taking younger people along and seeing the excitement in their eyes as they try to make their own set. It can actually be a little bit humorous at times because they quickly find out the work that is put in to each set! Sometimes it's frustrating for everyone, especially with tired, young helpers. Remember; be patient, positive, and encouraging. Tell them about your first time trapping or even share a time you struggled on the line. Share your favorite experience on the line or a memorable catch you made. Everyone likes a good story. Take a picture with your guest, or of them with one of your catches. They won't soon forget the experience and they may even ask to go again -- a new trapper in the making.
The more we, as trappers, teach and share about the purpose, ethics, and experience of trapping, the more people will know and experience the actual truth of our industry. This will benefit us all in the long-run. Good luck to you and any guests you bring along out there this year. I can barely wait for the new season to get here!