One of the most quintessential moments in a young man’s life is when he first takes the life of an animal. I spent many many hours with my father trapping in Ohio as I grew up. It all started with a Daisy BB gun that he bought me when I was eight years old. My mother had a fit but my father prevailed. (Mom thought I was too young) My father hauled me all over Ohio and Canada in pursuit of fish and fur. Until I was in fifth grade, he would always kill whatever we trapped or hunted.
I remember being about a mile from our home in Concord, Ohio and checking traps we had set a couple days before and discovering a big old coon. I had my trusty Remington 22 single shot bolt action rifle but knowing I could not shoot without my father, I trekked home. I brought my dad back to the trapped coon – one leg caught in a Victor #2 leg hold trap. My dad asked me if I would shoot it. I was surprised because it was the first time he had ever asked. I chambered a round and pointed the gun toward the raccoon and fired. I missed by about a foot and almost shot my dad in the leg. My dad gently said to me – don’t close your eyes when your aiming and try again. I shot and can still see the quick death of that raccoon in my minds eye. Skinned it, fleshed it, and stretched it and finally went to Cooper’s Hide Shop to sell all our hides. (Mom would always freak out if we were busy and just left the raccoon in the deep freezer to skin later – we thought it was funny leaving em with their head peaking up from under the venison!)
I trapped many more raccoon and red fox and too many muskrat to count and even one beaver. My fondest memories are preparing the traps by boiling them in bark and water till they were black and ready. Catching salmon to bait our traps (my father would reach right down in the river and grab them by the eyes) – Catching hawks in traps (by accident) and letting them loose – I thought the hawk would peck my eyes out. Learning about possum and seeing the babies in her pouch. I was taught respect both of guns and wildlife.
My good friend Kyle proudly showed me his son George’s first antelope the other day and I could not help but remember and know that George has stepped into manhood. I gave George a 22 rifle last year for Christmas with 100 rounds of ammo and the three of us
went beaver trapping. It is a good way to raise a child.
I am so thankful my father took me everyplace with him trapping, hunting and fishing. I don’t trap anymore but fish and bird hunt all the time. I am blessed to live in Montana where game is plentiful and moose and buffalo are in the freezer.