and prey populations.”
The trapping clinics draw a variety of people with varying degrees of skill. “We have four basic groups of people that attend,” says Doren Miller, fur buyer and vice president of the Missouri Trappers Association. “First are those that are not interested in trapping themselves, but just want to learn what trapping is about. Then there are young kids that are not physically able to trap yet. They want to see and feel the fur and learn about trapping. Another group consists of the newcomers that truly want to learn how to trap, how to sell the fur and everything in between. The last group is the experienced trappers. They know the basics of trapping but are looking for little tips and tricks to put more money back in their pocket and make their trapping more successful.”
Clinics provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions, learn about everything from setting traps to tanning hides and get practical handson experience. Learning stations can include preparing and dying traps, styles and types of traps, using lures, scents and baits, fastening traps securely and trapping gear and tools.
“Trapping is a skill that is difficult to teach yourself,” says Andy Barnes, Lawrence County conservation agent and trapping clinic organizer. “You won’t find trapping supplies in most sporting goods catalogs, and getting started can seem like a daunting task. It’s impossible to learn everything about trapping in a two-day clinic, but we want to show them how to begin without getting overwhelmed and give them a good foundation to build on.”
According to Aurora resident and clinic participant Clint Vaught, the information and skills gained at the clinics are valuable for anyone interested in trapping. “My son came home from school with a flyer and was really excited about the workshop,” says Vaught. “I had never trapped, but we both enjoy the outdoors, and I try to do things with him that he gets excited about. We brought along a friend of mine who was an experienced trapper and all three of us walked away from the course having learned a great deal.” They plan to attend another clinic this year as a refresher.
The instructors often enjoy the clinics as much as the students. “We take the students out to check the traps and they are just mesmerized by the fact that we caught something,” says Daniel. “They are even excited about an opossum.