I used to love to trap. Some of my most fond memories growing up in the Adirondacks involve wading around bug-infested beaver meadows, a packbasket laden with steel traps tugging on my shoulders.
Trapping taught me responsibility and work ethic. I’d get up hours before school to check my sets and then return after, spending my evenings stretching and drying pelts under the dull glow of basement lights.
It also taught me respect for the animals. My brother and I always kept accurate records of animals we harvested to leave seed for the next season, treating it as the management tool it was designed to be.
Later, when I was old enough to drive, my memories are filled with my brother, uncles and I riding along dusty backcountry roads to nowhere, stopping occasionally to trek into the woods to check sets.
It was a constant learning experience and the perfect diversion to all that can lead a teenager astray.
It was also fairly lucrative. I put away a couple thousand dollars my senior year of high school, money I greatly valued during my first year of college.
My now deceased Uncle Eddie used to say: “You’ll always have a dollar in your pocket when you’re trapping.”
And, I always seemed to.
But, over time, I grew away from trapping for a whole host of reasons, time management being one.
Perhaps the single largest reason though was that the bottom fell out of the fur market. While I was never in it for the money, prices offered by fur buyers just didn’t seem to justify taking the pelt.
That, however, is beginning to change.
Prices paid at fur auctions around the state and internationally during the 2011-12 season have been steadily increasing on nearly every furbearer species. Trappers have not seen a return on their investment like this in decades.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org