I have had 50 or so invitations to speak at Rotary clubs in the La Salle County area. Most of the time I am treated to a nice lunch, which is very generous. I always look forward to talking with local folks about fishing, hunting and trapping. At the end of the discussion, I always open it up to questions and comments.
One peculiar day I spoke at the hall once called “Coolie’s Banquet Hall,” located at the west end of Ottawa. A very large group turned up, and I asked if any of the group had a topic they wanted to talk about. As it turned out, many wanted to learn about trapping. Several folks wanted to know how it was done and if any animal suffers as a result of it. At first, I invited some to accompany me to my fur shed sometime in the future.
Some immediately declined, and one said he had never owned a firearm or even shot one. This should have given me a red flag. I assured the crowd that an ethical trapper always made sure that no animal suffered in a trap. I even explained that most, if not all, traps just held the animal until the trapper ran his line. This is required to be every 24 hours.
The stories that animals suffered long hours in a trap was not true. I even placed my fingers in a long-spring trap, allowing it to snap on my fingers. I showed where I could not pull my fingers out of the trap until I depressed the spring. I then showed where there was no damage to my fingers.
Despite all the illustrations, some still didn’t believe me. I do think most of my audience did, and I got a good hand when it was over.
Then it was how I dispatched an animal. I explained that a good head shot from a .22 always put the animal down without any pain. I had one person get up and leave the room after that. So far, I have not attempted to skin an animal alive. I was pleasantly surprised that I had a few who wished to accompany me on my trap line in the future.
While I didn’t wish to create any bad scenes about trapping, I was just doing what the audience wanted. I don’t mind constructive criticism, but I don’t care for someone who thinks they know more about the outdoors than I do. Until I was 9 years old, I lived on a farm. Hunting, fishing and trapping were a family tradition back then.
Livestock is still put up in the same old manner that was used when I was a kid. Most folks just don’t see it. We were taken to the Chicago stockyards when we went to school. After that, I didn’t see anyone give up on eating steak.
Cooling-lake action remains fair for bluegill and channel catfish. An occasional hybrid striped bass has been caught trolling crank baits near the west end of the lake. Wax worms have been a very good bait for any of the cooling lakes. Nightcrawlers have been good for catfish and large mouth bass. Some hybrid striped bass have been hitting chicken livers, strange as that sounds.
River fishing is still at a standstill. Waters are still high and stained.
Hope all of you ladies had a good Mother’s Day.
• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.