Getting Set to Trap
I remember learning the figure-four dead fall and a simple snare close to a decade ago. When I learned them, I simultaneously learned that the law does not allow them unless you stumble into a real survival situation. This really put me off from ever trying them out or experimenting with them. So the art of trapping fell by the wayside to edible plants and other ancestral skills.
A couple weeks ago when I realized that thinking in terms of only trapping with primitive traps fell under the whole “purity” ideology that still has a grip over me in many areas. Why not trap legally? With legal traps? Anyone who has studied hunter-gatherers knows that trapper-gardener sounds like a more accurate term. Trapping uses energy much more efficiently in acquiring animal protein than hunting. If you set 20 traps in a night, rather than stalk around a forest with a bow and arrow or throwing stick, your chances of actually getting some animals increases dramatically. So while I plan on hunting this fall, trapping this winter sounds like a more lucrative act. Also, it will feel nice to have my knowledge of tracking actually working towards a purpose other than mental stimulation.
The State of Oregon requires a special furbearer’s trapping license. Trying to find out how to get my license proved difficult. With minimal information online, I had to go to a regional Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office and ask for the Trappers Education packet there. The education packet prepares you for the test you need to take to acquire a furbearer’s trapping license. The packet includes a trapping workbook, an Oregon trapping regulations book and several extra reading packets on furbearers and their behavior.
After completing the workbook and reading back over it several times, as well as studying the Oregon Furbearer Regulations booklet, I drove to Salem to take the test. You can take it at any ODFW regional offices, but they have to mail it to the Salem ODFW anyway to have it graded, and I wanted to get it as quickly and efficiently as possible. After passing the test, I filled out an application form and purchased my license for $31.50.
With my license in hand, for the last week or so I’ve looked at how much traps cost, which traps I want to use and have started to make plans for my trapping angle. With searching the net for info on trapping I ended up wandering to several animal rights website all about how fucked up trapping looks to them. I cringed when I watched the following video:
Pretty fucking brutal, no? Yeah seeing that made me think a little harder about whether or not I should trap. I would hate to think that the animals suffered longer than necessary. At first I thought maybe I would just purchase live traps and shoot the animals to finish them quickly. But to lug a bunch of live traps around the hills doesn’t sound very efficient. Then I saw this video, which made me feel slightly better, but not much:
I mean, yeah… I don’t think I’ll use leg hold traps, because you still have to kill the animal (unless you drown it, which is ideal with most traps anyway).Â But the conibear body gripping traps seem like the most effective and versatile traps at killing the animals quickly. I may still have to end their lives with a gun or other means, up close and personal. But theoretically, the conibear kills the animal quickly by braking its back or neck. They work like this:
When I heard that the lower Chinook wore muskrat cloaks, it made me want to make one really bad! Of course, muskrat’s have endangered status due to the introduction of invasive nutria stealing their habitat. So… how about a nutria cloak!? Because of their invasive status, nutria have no bag limit and have no season; you can hunt them year round. I may go mostly for urban nutria for their hides, but I don’t see myself eating an urban nutria. I may send one to a lab for toxicity testing if I find out where and how much it costs. I also want to trap other stuff like raccoons for fur and meat. So I decided to go with the conibear. The more you know the animal and can trick it into moving slowly, and directing its head into a particular space, the swifter the kill. This guy has the right idea:
Of course the whole “raccoons as pests” thing looks ridiculous to me. I love them and think we should have more of them! …and I also love the way they taste! I bought one live box trap for trapping in urban environments where dogs and cats roam, so I don’t kill someones pet, even if they wander onto private property. It seems funny because the more I learn about trapping legally, the more inspiration I have to practice my survival trapping as well. I’ve ordered most of the gear I need and now my plans turn towards scouting a location or two. Any public land will work, but I want to go deep away from trails or other people. Private land works too, but I don’t know anyone out here yet. I think in the end I’ll spend probably like $500 on a decent trapping kit. I’ll put it up here (with cost) when I get it all ready.
I’ve watched that horrible video above a couple times now, and it makes me really waver on the whole trapping thing. I asked my friend who writes the going feral blog about it. He has done some trapping and hunting and he gave me some wisdom that I would like to share here with you:
Whenever I have killed a larger wild creature, I have felt the loss quite deeply, I’ve felt that I took something extremely beautiful from this earth, far more beautiful than I can ever be, and in the back of someplace inside of me that knowledge is carried. It is actually really amazing to be in touch with how much we kill, how much suffering we create, and how much we therefore owe this earth. Cause, as you well know, whether we do the killing or not… we live.
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