I began trapping late in life as I was either deer hunting or bass fishing. As a boy, I did run an extensive rabbit box line as I had rabbit dogs since age 13 and I used them to train pups.
Shortly after I retired from the Raleigh Police Department in 1997, I saw a notice in the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine that the NCTA was holding a one day class. I was fishing an FLW tournament on the Mississippi River out of Memphis. I failed to qualify for the finals, so I drove back and was at the gate to the Wake County Wildlife Club when Dave Woodward arrived. He was very gracious and invited me to attend. I met Claudie Taylor there and we meshed right away. I attended my first convention the following September and the rest is history. I was in my very early fifties then, so I guess that I have been at it for close to twenty years.
I started as a water trapper catching mainly beaver and otter. Claudie took pity and agreed to help me. He surely shortened the learning curve. I learned a lot from him in a very short time. That enabled me to put up respectable numbers from the start. We traveled to several conventions and spent time in his boat fishing. Just talking with him about trapping and animal behavior was an education that I cannot put a value on. Although he is well known as a water trapper, if dinosaurs again walked the earth, he could catch them. I am proud to call him, "Friend".
One day seventeen years ago, I pulled into a property to check beaver and otter traps. There in the path stood a coyote. I followed him down the path to the back of the property until he went into the woods. I was fascinated and determined to learn to catch coyotes. I had some experience trapping fox and a well known trapper told me that the coyote was just a big fox, so I went at it using fox methods with bigger traps. I caught four in two months of really trying hard.. At that time. there weren't any coyote trappers in NC as the population wasn't large. I bought videos and books on the subject, went to national conventions and got acquainted with experienced coyote trappers from other states. The next season I put what I had learned to use and caught thirty one. From that time on, the coyote has been the focus of my trapping efforts every season. I use a variety of sets, but the dirt hole is my favorite. I use the Victor #3 Soft Catch most often, but I do use others.
Since that time, I have become fair at catching a few dumb ones. The fascination for me, and what motivates me, is being out every day and learning from the animal. One gets great satisfaction from putting all the pieces together and seeing one bouncing the next morning. A pair is even better, The pre season scouting, talking to landowners about seeing or hearing them. learning their traits, finding sign, tracking one- these are parts of the total picture that I pay close attention to. I don't think one hour in the day goes by that I am not thinking coyotes. The best advice that I think that I can give an aspiring trapper is to get out from behind the computer and get in the field. The animal will teach you how to catch him,
My trapping partner is the red headed woman, Susan, to whom I have been married fifty three years. That woman knows more about coyotes and can pick locations better than most grown men. She gets up and goes on the line with me most days. She also is a hunter ed instructor. She assists with the trapping courses conducted by the association.
Trapping has provided several memorable experiences. I can remember the first catch of each species, the albino coon, the first black coyote, my grandson's first coyote, the triple on coyotes bouncing twenty feet apart in a triangle, the satisfaction of stopping calf killing and the many sunrises and varieties of wildlife that I have seen. I always say that my most memorable season is the present one as I am so happy to still be able to go hard at my age.
I place great value on my association with the NCTA. I was privileged to serve as its president for a time. I have made many lasting friendships through the association and trapping in general. I try to give back when I can. I really enjoy helping at the courses put on by the association and doing seminars at the Dixie Deer Classic. I was honored to be inducted into the NCTA Hall Of Fame in 2016. It was one of the few times in my life that I was speechless. I am very proud of that award.
The future of trapping faces many challenges. I believe that besides the antis, the change in our culture is an important factor. The vast majority of the population is now urban. These folks don't share our same values and experiences. Way too many children live in a single parent household without a male role model. Somehow, we have to get the message of the outdoors to these people.
My goal for next year is to make it one more season and to pass on any little bit of knowledge that I have. Also, if I could just catch a weasel, I would be a well rounded trapper.