Greetings Sportsmen. Ill go ahead and convey the obvious, I am a new guy here. It truly looks like a great site; I can’t imagine why I have never stumbled up onto it before now. Thank you Officer Finn for drawing my attention to this particular piece of cyberspace. It is nice to see a common meeting area for the outdoorsmen and women of Kentucky to congregate and share information, recount stories and tell big tales. As the title might suggest, I am a trapper. My trap lines have meandered through the flat lands of western Kentucky in Warren, Simpson, Logan, and Allen counties while saturating the Appalachian foothills in and around my home of Powell County. Regardless of where my travels find me knocking on doors for permission in this state, I always seem to run into one of two given responses. In light of exaggerated numbers of coyotes and coon in some counties, permission is often granted to, “Kill all of ‘em you can.” Otherwise, due to misconceptions of traps and trappers, or the Animal Planet mentality of live and let live, permission is just as often denied. In a Disney Channel world of talking animals and viscous serrated-edge traps, I can only understand why some people feel as though they do. Don’t short circuit your objective thinking here, I am not complaining about being denied access to private property to trap. Regardless of their reasons, I always respect a landowner’s wishes and move on to the next farm with no hard feelings. What does bother me however is the negative attitude that many of my fellow hunters harbor toward their brethren trappers. Furbearers, just like deer and grouse, rabbits and turkeys, are a renewable natural resource. Animal rights activists actively scrutinize hunters just as severely as their trapping counterparts. Trappers invest just as much if not more time, money, and effort into their recreation as hunters do. In addition to these facts, perhaps the strongest connection between the two groups is the fact that the vast majority of trappers are also hunters. If we are all so closely connected then, what is cause of so much friction? Maybe it’s the competition. Some hunters may claim that trappers rape the land. Because we run a trap line, a trapper is greedily taking all the wildlife for themselves and leaving nothing for the coon hunters or coyote callers. One coon or a hundred, all sportsmen alike are earmarked as evil by much of the “civilized” world. Given their way, meat would no longer be consumed, cattle would all be free range, and deer would be given contraceptives to control populations. While they are at it, pro gun control advocates might as well have our firearms since hunting would no longer be practiced. In light of all of these changes, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokeswoman Ingrid Newkirk should be elected president so that we all might follow her example. After all, Newkirk claims that she would rather see all children die of a disease before a laboratory rat died to find the cure. This comes from the same woman who has willed the skin of her own body to be fashioned into a purse after her death to prove that humans and animals are truly the same. Ultimately this leads me to a big question – If animals are people too and they eat each other, what is the problem with us eating them. Strange. Or perhaps it is a fear of the traps themselves. Those hunters, who while away the hours listening to a pair of Walkers harmonize at the tree or the excited chorus of a pack of beagles in hot pursuit, may fill this category. Traps are cruel mechanisms of pain, suffering, and injury. With bone crushing strength, they lay waiting, guarding a scent that even the most educated hound can’t resist. Or even worse, a snare, the true angels of death in a trapper’s arsenal sways gently in the breeze waiting for that prize birddog to stumble along. Despite most hounds living their lives on the end of a chain, if they get in a snare, you might as well start digging the grave. Sound ludicrous? Walt Disney and the Crocodile Hunter don’t seem to think so. Neither does hound clubs. What does this mean for Joe Trapper? Broken or stolen traps and equipment, death threats, vandalism to vehicles – shall I continue? What about the truth? Ok, here it is. In truth, as technology and education tends to inspire, traps have evolved from those of yester year. Trappers have learned a great deal more about the tools of their trade. Traps have become smaller, stronger, and safer. A generation ago, weak traps utilized teeth and size to contain the animal. Understandably, these steel traps were referred to as “leghold” traps. The oversized traps were designed to catch and hold high up on the leg. Swivels were almost non-existent, save for the “J” hook to connect the chain to the trap. The terminal end of the chain included a flimsy steel ring for securing the trap. Today however, ongoing testing by objective participants is furthering the development of even more humane trap designs. Such modifications include padded “cushion” jaws, laminations to increase the thickness of trap jaws (which basically has the exact same result as padding the jaws – a greater contact surface area on the animals foot to effectively reduce the potential for lacerations), and multiple swivels in the chain to prevent the trap from binding and causing injury when the animal tries to turn. These swivels bring up another important point. That is the notion of wring out. Let us consider a small furbearer such as a muskrat. This is a creature with very small, easily broken leg bones. If a muskrat is caught in a trap that does not permit it to drown, and the bone in the leg gets broke, it is likely that the muskrat will “wring out” or twist off its foot at the broken point. This same concept was common with those old larger traps that caught high on the leg above the flexible ankle joint on other furbearers. Thus the terminology of “chewing out” was born. Some folks will argue this point until they are blue in the face. It’s a myth, plain and simple. I have trapped for 15 years and never have I witnessed a furbearer chew its own leg off above the trap. A trapper worth his or her salt will not further persuade people to believe this myth either. Some people will argue that Kentucky has a 24-hour check law, requiring a trapper to run his or her line every day. True enough. Western states do not necessarily have the same laws though. There are some states requiring a trap check every other day. These guys don’t have “chew outs” either. What about coons? Yes, coons will chew at their toes below the trap jaws if the trap is so large that they can get to them. How many have been to the dentist for some tooth work and bit your lip or tongue before the numbing medicine wore off. Didn’t feel it did you? Same concept. Today’s traps are unlike earlier models whereas they don’t use sheer force to contain an animal. More appropriately, they can be related to handcuffs. In some instances, the circulation to the toes can be restricted, essentially causing the paw below the trap to go numb. In the first few minutes of fighting a trap (which is all the time an animal tries to escape – more often than not, the trapper will find the animal curled up asleep when he arrives in the morning, It is not a 24 hour life or death struggle that some folks believe it to be) a coon can self inflict injuries on those numb toes. But, it is time to put down the myth of chew-out forever. The fact that today’s traps are smaller and designed to hold the animal’s foot, they are more appropriately deemed foothold traps. Traps are designed to hold, not torture. Dogs come into contact with traps, it just happens. For that reason, it is always a good idea for hound hunters to know how traps function so that they can safely remove their dog if it is captured. Here is another little nugget of information. That dog will learn to avoid a trap faster than you taught it how to sit or shake hands, I will guarantee that. Even a blockhead like a Rottweiler usually learns to avoid a trap after the first time he gets a toe pinched. Besides hurting their feelings for a few minutes, except in the most rare of cases, that dog will go on and keep hunting. Let us not forget snares. Snares are more forgiving that people think. Snares find a lot of use on my trapline. In a lot of situations, they are the only practical tools to be used. Folks tend to believe that a snared animal is as good as dead. Not so, and I'll tell you why. As a general rule, a snared animal, whether it’s a dog, coon, or whatever isn’t going to pull enough to choke itself out. Exceptions to this rule are if something antagonizes the snared animal to the point that it asphyxiates, or some other bizarre reason. A trapper can be very selective when it comes to snaring, not only the type of animal to be caught but also whether it can tangle up or not. For instance, a snare set for beaver is usually set on the ground or within 2 inches above it. The larger coyote or coonhound will knock the snare down when it passes. Accordingly, a snare set for a coyote that is 12 inches above the ground will permit a beagle, coon, or other similarly sized animal to pass under it. Life or death in a snare is decided by two key factors. First, the trapper incorporates some type of killing device on the snare. These range from powered springs called Ram snares to simple compression springs near the lock of the snare. Compression springs work to exert a constant choking force on the animal until it asphyxiates. Both are illegal in Kentucky. Snare manufactures understand that some trappers want a snared animal dead to prevent the possibility of escape (most often wolves and coyotes on 48 hour checks). They also know that the design of the lock whether relaxing (oxymoronic as that is) or non-relaxing doesn’t contribute to the death of the snared animal. For that reason, they sell these killing devices to interested buyers. Second, the location of the snare is perhaps the most important. Ninety-nine percent of the time, a snared animal that can swivel and not wrap around anything will be alive and well when the trapper returns. When it comes to entanglement situations though, relaxing lock or not, it will be dead. Animals do not have the reasoning ability to back up when it comes to snares or even dog chains for that matter. If a snared animal can start winding the snare cable around something, it will asphyxiate. It keeps circling until it asphyxiates. A dog on a chain that does not swivel (after getting clogged up or for the lack of swivels) and gets wrapped around something small is as good as dead. I buried a great Mt. Cur one time because of a faulty swivel on this dog chain. Hunters and trappers need to find a common ground and find it fast. Battling one group against another only makes our resistance to outside forces weaker. There are million dollar organizations in our nation that lobby against our very way of life. Hunting, trapping, and fishing is not only a privilege, it’s our heritage. I promise you, when trapping goes, hunting is the obvious second. I have made my opinion blatantly obvious, now I would like to hear from you. The glory of the Internet is its anonymous nature. Don’t be shy; let us hear your honest opinions on trappers, their equipment, or their practices. Skin that'un pilgrim and I'll get ye another'n.