Since all of my ancestors hunted, trapped and fished, it was kind of a family tradition to me. There was also a little peer pressure when I asked my folks for some spending money. There were lawns to mow, leaves to be raked and dishes to be helped with.
Finally, I decided to try trapping. Fur prices were very good when I was a kid, and many fur buyers came right to your house. Of course, trapping seasons came in during early November, and I had school to contend with, as well.
I used to get up at 5:30 in the morning and ride my bicycle to run my line. Then it was off to school. I would hang my catch in a cool, dry place and do my skinning and scraping after school. If it was any other type of work, I didn’t feel like doing it. Trapping, however, held my interest and was a challenge.
Dad was a fireman at the Nabisco Plant in Marseilles, and he always encouraged me to trap and hunt. He also taught me to fish. That was when he wasn’t watching Lawrence Welk on TV. He gave me an old flashlight back then to help me run my line while it was still dark. When the batteries started to die, it was a mad dash to the finish line.
My collection of traps consisted of several 110 Conibears and several Blake and Lamb long springs, and they all worked well for muskrat trapping.
I was an ambitious schoolboy back then and should have paid more attention to the assignments than trapping, but I couldn’t hone my interest in them. Usually I did enough schoolwork to just pass the course.
It was easy to get permission to trap back in those days, as most folks in the farming community had ditches the rats destroyed. They also tunneled under the banks and caused cave-ins. This was not acceptable, especially if a farmer had livestock.
I had a good friend back then in the country, and I used to skin out my catches at his house when I took too long running my line. He had beagles, and the carcasses provided a good protein supplement for his dogs. I remember one night he got up and stepped on a furry pelt and shrieked like a little girl. He finally told me that I would have to quite leaving pelts all over the place.
Them were the days.
I made enough money to buy me a new bike the following year and had some money left over. My teachers finally got used to the smell of me after handling and skinning pelts. They didn’t discourage me from trapping, even though they felt sorry for the critters. I once got sent home because I brought a mink pelt to school with me. I didn’t have to worry about the teacher taking it away from me.
Mosquitoes are still bad in the woods while squirrel hunting.
Again, catfishing has been great. Some very large channel catfish have been caught above and below the Marseilles dam. Some of these fish exceed 9 pounds and are fun on light line.
• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.