To Set a Trap

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Published on: Jan. 2, 1998

Last revision: Oct. 28, 2010

trap, I gazed at The Book while Bert drove. That's when I noticed the one chapter we'd missed altogether: "Preparing Your Traps."

Prepare them? Do you give them a pep talk or something? I read on apprehensively, learning my traps should be rusted and dyed. I wasn't eager to tell my husband and daughter that our traps weren't prepared for anything.

"I don't think I was cut out to be a trapper," I mumbled.

"What?" they cried in unison, their heads swiveling my way.

I decided to come clean. "Our traps aren't ready," I muttered. "We have to rust our traps."

"Rust the traps?"

"To get all the oil and slickness off the traps so we can dye them." I tried to slur my words.

"Fry them? Why would we fry them?" inquired Julie.

"Not fry them. Dye them. We have to dye them in a vat of boiling water into which we've dissolved a package of logwood crystals. If we rust them right, our traps will take on a nice, black color and lose their oily scent. You know, so . . . ."

"So the coyotes can't smell them" they moaned, by now knowing the drill.

"We also need to wax the traps," I said, after a long silence.

"You mean like car wax?"

"Not exactly. Some beeswax and paraffin dissolved with a tiny bit of pine resin to make it pliable. Oops, add resin to the list," I said, "That way the coating won't break when you set your traps, or when they spring shut."

We only had time to set our traps out two nights during that first year. I didn't catch any animals, unless of course, you count the time I sprung the trap on myself. Bert remained amused."

The coyotes probably got a good chuckle out of my dirt hole sets. They certainly enjoyed the venison chunks I'd used as bait, especially since they were able to abscond with them without springing my traps, even though I'd set them on hair triggers.

 I knew I'd more than met my match when I walked up to my very best set, the one it had taken me hours to perfect, to find my trap dug up, hauled to the end of its chain and balanced precariously on a fallen log. As I stood there, the darned thing sprang shut all by itself.

Somewhere, I knew, coyotes were laughing.

I still long for a coyote coat but I'm afraid at the rate I'm going, when I finally get it, I'll be too old to enjoy it. I gained new respect for the one or two souls in the world who may actually be smarter than coyotes. And while I don't discount the possibility of someday getting back into trapping, I think I need to get another Book.

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