Few outdoor pursuits get a deal as raw as trapping has. It’s time that these 4 trapping myths were finally put to rest.
People fear what they don’t understand. It applies to many things in life including different cultures, religions, political views, and even the activities we spend our days pursuing. As outdoorsmen and women we are often targets of fear driven responses from folks who don’t get what we do. All you have to do is pull up a popular Youtube hunting video and check out the comments. I’m sure this is not news to anyone, but it helps to prove a point.
One pursuit that typically is met with rancor from those outside of the outdoor community, and even some within, is trapping. Just say the word “trapping” and some people are ready to put it to fisticuffs then and there. It just is a touchy subject these days (what isn’t, I guess).
In absolute honesty, I am a relatively new trapper. In fact I didn’t get involved with this tradition until I was nearly 30 years old. My dad was a trapper and had some traps lying around, so one day I picked them up and began my journey down a road unknown by many. Once I found out how much I had to learn, it was a challenge I wanted to take on.
As a kind of late bloomer when it comes to trapping I can personally attest to the downright misunderstanding non-trappers have about this pastime. Hopefully this article, and other’s on the subject, can help shed some light on the subject, so those who don’t trap can at least understand what is going on.
With that being said, here are the top 4 trapping myths that need the axe once and for all.
1. Traps are inhumane
I’ll start off with possibly the biggest trapping myth of all, that traps are inhumane bone-crushing tools. When interested people start asking questions, one of the first that pops up is always, “Do they really hurt the animal?” Most people have a genuine concern that animals are put under unnecessary excruciating pain while waiting in the trap.
The truth is that the most popular traps, foot hold traps, are designed to do nothing more than hold the animal. Watch the brief video for a demonstration of how traps work.
We don’t want to crush animal’s leg bones and leave them in the field with a compound fracture. Trappers want a trap that is the correct size for the animals they are setting for. Not too big, and not too small. Most trappers also incorporate a device called a swivel into their staking system so the animal doesn’t get all twisted up if they try and struggle. The whole system is designed to cause as little damage to the animal as possible. In fact, many times when you skin a trapped animal, there is not even any blood beneath the surface of the skin where the trap pinched the animal.
Another type of trap gaining popularity is the live trap. These traps are big cages in which the animal walks into and then a trap door closes behind them, locking them in. These traps are bulky and hard to get around, but are well suited to catch and release type trapping.
There are traps designed to kill animals however. Body grip traps and snares both are designed to kill an animal in a matter of seconds when set off. Body grip traps and snare are heavily regulated to try and avoid negative encounters with non-target animals and pets.
2. Trapping is a bloodsport
Many times people who are unfamiliar with trapping believe people trap because they enjoy killing animals. This is one trapping myth any hunter or fisher should be able to empathize with. As outdoorsmen and women, we get tagged as “murderers” by over-the-top animal rights activists. Trappers are no different from hunters and fishermen in this regard. What they enjoy doing at some point involves the loss of animal life. Same as hunting and fishing. I’m sure many hunters, fishers, and trappers who would still enjoy the process if the killing was eliminated. Death, however, is a fact of life in our world.
The thought that trapping is a bloodsport also is erroneous in that it perpetuates the myth that trapping is easy and simply killing. If you believe trapping is just killing animals, I’d encourage you to buy a few foothold traps and find out just how “easy” trapping can be. By the time you can consistently land critters, you’ll have invested more time and energy than most people understand. There are also people who “catch and release” trap. Animals caught in leg hold traps can typically be released without any injury or other side effects.
3. Trappers are all rednecks
This one’s a real doozy. Somehow anyone who traps animals is a backwoods redneck with no education. Talk about a sterotype.
The fact is that many trappers are well educated. A few years ago, I sat down with a couple of trappers who were trapping grizzly bears for a government research project. Both gents I dined with had advanced degrees in wildlife biology from major universities. Not only did they trap for their job, but both had experience trapping for fun as well. Yeah, they liked being in the backwoods, but by no means were rednecks. Another well spoken trapper is Steve Rinella, “The Meateater.” You’d be hard pressed to argue me into believing Steve Rinella is a redneck. He’s one of the most articulate guys in the hunting industry today and has a heavy trapping background.
There are a number of trappers I know who don’t have advanced degrees from a university though. For one reason or another they never felt compelled to a higher education. I can tell you one thing for sure though, a successful trapper who can consistently trap a variety of animals holds a warehouse of knowledge a university would charge an arm and a leg for. Most trappers I know are pretty smart. You have to be if you want to be good.
4. Trapping is obsolete
The last trapping myth that needs to bite the dust is trapping no longer has a place in this world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that trappers of today are arguably the most useful trappers in our country’s history. In a world where most people dave no idea how to get the coons out of their attic, let alone the coyote that is nabbing family pets out of the neighborhood, trappers are needed more than ever.
If you live in a major urban center, odds are there are at least a couple animal damage control professionals working full time to help folks with a problem. These guys are trappers, carrying on trapping knowledge and making your community a better place to live. Trapping still plays a big role in agricultural communities like where I live as well. Animals like coyotes can pose a threat to rancher’s young calves and become a problem during calving season.
It would be great if more people picked up this ancient skill, but I know it’s not for everyone. I’m sure it just won’t suit some people. Rather, I hope this piece, and others like it, can shed some light on the topic to create understanding between trapper and non-trappers.
Yes, trappers kill animals. No, it’s not the reason we do it and no we shouldn’t pigeonhole trapping as a bloodsport with no place in the 21st century. Hopefully these trapping myths won’t haunt us in the future.