It was a privilege to accompany Miles on his trapline for my very first muskrat trapping venture. To be fair I was a bit clumsy and clueless going into it, but also excited about undertaking something I know will bring me fulfillment in the years to come.

Miles was ever gracious and patient as my dainty lady hands grew accustomed to working with the long springs. My repeated paranoia that the trap would fire at each stage of setting was abated by (also repeatedly) asking, ďcan I let go now?Ē  The more experienced trappers reading this might find it funny to recollect on a very long time ago when a tiny muskrat trap involved even the slightest intimidation or hesitation, but nevertheless I managed to set quite a few and get comfortable with them.

My interest in trapping came about, in part, along with my awakening to some of the political realities we live today. Being politically incorrect on some issues has left me somewhat tattered and bruised from all of the social costs and unfortunately even threats one incurs due to holding such views. As a university student I have grown sick of the hyper-politically correct, festering hell hole university has become, consisting of the most unbelievably out-of-touch, spoiled, and snobby people, where independent thought is punishable and fitting in involves a fair amount of treason and sycophantic ass-kissing. I am a friendly person and an optimist, but I am also a realist, so please rest assured that this assessment isnít ďhatefulĒ, itís purely factual, and certainly no harsher than the realities Iíve been faced with.

Needless to say, Iíve found myself longing to re-connect with the wilderness, with my Canadian heritage, with traditional knowledge, and to something as sure and true as harvesting animals from the generosity of nature that will provide me with a livelihood regardless of my political views.

Seeing my first live muskrat was a treat, if only a short-lived one. These critters really are a remarkable testament to natureís design. Their thick, scaly tails for power swimming and long narrow claws for digging and reaching into elusive places really are a marvel and a delight to behold. I donít find muskrats disgusting like I would a garbage-fed city rat. I admire them for being so well adapted to their environment, and for being so productive and bouncing back despite being preyed on by  everything.

I made a mistake that I will only make twice reaching into the water to retrieve a trap knocked off a float by the wind. Ideally you try to only make a mistake once, but sometimes once just isnít enough. Sometimes pain really is the best teacher, unfortunately. The first time I was given fair warning, ďThatís still setĒ. The second time I assumed full responsibility for getting snapped sideways on the finger. I acted completely stoic about it of course, not letting on that the throbbing pain in my hand was only equaled by the pain of idiocy. Of course, I am a good sport and maintain my good humor despite my silly screw ups, of which I am sure there are many more ahead. I have a dozen conibears I purchased months ago still sitting in my gun locker untouched. I now realize that itís better to start with the smaller traps and make mistakes on those that donít involve breaking your hand, and to work your way up from there. Iíll get to my conibears eventually, but for now Iím happy to invest in and tinker with the long springs as I continue to gain more confidence.  

I stopped in for a skinning session with Kirby, who was kind enough to show me the delicate art of dismembering the rat. Now if only I can manage to skin them without disemboweling them, I will find that it goes much easier. Sometimes those stubborn membranes just donít seem to want to come apart in the most convenient way. I know that once I get another couple hundred skinned rats under my belt I will have figured out the secret to keeping the gut issue contained and under control.

To be honest, Iíve enjoyed this introductory experience so much that I look forward to the day where I can finally realize my dream of becoming a haggard old hermit somewhere in rural Eastern Canada. Being surrounded by furry friends, small livestock, and pelts in my wacky shack in the country as far away as possible from idiots sounds ever more appealing as the years go on. I hope that all my trapping dreams will come true someday, and I know that nothing but persistent effort and dedication at developing these valuable skills will cause them to be realized.

I am very appreciative of all the help and enthusiasm for instruction Iíve been shown by my course teachers and members of the Federation. This is timeless knowledge that Iím happy you arenít letting die with you, and if I can manage to figure this all out and get good at it someday, I wonít let die it with me either.

 

 

 

 

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