By Cameron Pauli, Sportsmen’s Alliance Digital Media Specialist
While hunting and fishing have gained popularity in recent years thanks to television shows such as Duck Dynasty, Deadliest Catch and Swamp People, trapping remains the ugly duckling of the trio.
Plagued with constant scrutiny from both the public and anti-hunting organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, sportsmen could very well see the end of recreational and sustenance trapping in the coming decades.
However, sportsmen can counter these efforts by educating the next generation on the many benefits of trapping. Here are a few suggested ways that you can help introduce youth to our trapping heritage.
Before teaching others, make sure that you are up to date on state and national trapping laws and practices. Every year, hundreds, if not thousands, of changes are made to regulations regarding the trapping of furbearers. Contact your local warden or trappers association for more information – they will often have pamphlets, books and other resources to send you free of charge
Mentor a Youth
Passing your knowledge and appreciation of trapping on to a youth is one of the simplest steps any sportsman can take to ensure its future. Kids of all ages can find enjoyment in trapping, so long as you take the right approach.
Make trips to check traps short, fun and informative. Youth in their early teens make great candidates because they have the stamina to last a few hours in the woods, can help carry equipment and are still very inquisitive and impressionable. They are often able to start trapping themselves depending on your state’s age restrictions.
Some states require those wanting to trap to take a special course, quite similar to hunter’s safety, that teaches proper trapping techniques and laws. If this should be the case in your state, volunteer to take the course with your mentee. By doing so, you strengthen the relationship between you and your apprentice – you might also learn something new or meet other trappers!
Besides mentoring a single individual, you might also elect to share your knowledge of trapping with larger groups of youth through a presentation. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, 4-H groups and local sportsmen’s clubs all hold monthly meetings that often include guest speakers on any given topic. You could volunteer to talk about trapping and the many benefits that the practice provides to both wildlife and humans. Showcasing furs of your own makes for a fun and exciting hands-on experience that kids will remember.
Become a Local Field Director
Volunteering as a Local Field Director through the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance can also open up doors for you to teach others about trapping. LFDs are paid volunteers that often attend Trailblazer Adventure Program events throughout the country. These events normally have at least one station dedicated to educating youth on the trapping.