Introducing Kids to Trapping

February 13, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

Fisheries and wildlife managers continue to emphasize the importance of retaining current hunters and anglers, and recruiting new members into their fraternity.

But what about the future of trapping?

I would venture to guess that, in a lot of back yards this winter; you’ll find a youngster trying to catch a rabbit in a cardboard box or some other contraption. Come spring they might try to trap ground squirrels, too.

For most kids, that’s a natural curiosity. However, those innocent quests for backyard wildlife are more likely to lead to an interest in hunting as an adult, instead of an interest in trapping.

The same goes for fishing. Putting a worm on a hook, attaching a bobber and waiting for a bluegill to pull the bobber under can influence a child to become an angler for life. Getting a child interested in trapping involves so much more.

Kids who grow up exposed to football can tell you the name of the coach, where the players are from, etc. You’d be surprised what they know about their favorite pastime.

The same level of knowledge is apparent for those who are exposed to furtaking and trapping. It’s just that the number of kids who have an interest in trapping is much smaller than the number of kids interested in football – or fishing or hunting.
Rick Tischafer and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are trying to change that. Tischafer is president of the North Dakota Fur Hunters and Trappers Association. Instead of standing idly by, he and many others have been cooperatively working with Game and Fish to develop an education program directed at trapping and hunting of furbearers.

The project is almost ready to launch. Volunteer instructors will cover trapping history, biology and identification, ethics and responsibilities, hunting and trapping equipment, hunting and trapping techniques, and fur handling and marketing.

As with most things, developing an interest is much easier when learning from someone with experience. Through this program, prospective trappers and furbearer hunters can learn why they’d have a difficult time trying to catch a coyote with the same setup needed to catch a mink. And vice versa.

Seasoned trappers realize the most successful trap types, sizes and baiting methods for mink to muskrats to coyotes or bobcat. They also know the habits and habitats of each of North Dakota’s furbearer species, and what’s needed to meet the legal and ethical standards for modern day trapping.

North Dakota still has a small but solid base of furtakers despite a depressed fur market, increased cost of gasoline, and a host of other things that can compete with time outdoors. Like hunter education and fishing instructors across the state, they are now set up to share their passion and volunteer many, many hours helping not only youngsters, but adults as well who want to learn about trapping and furbearer hunting.

To learn more about the program, or if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, visit the North Dakota Fur Hunters and Trappers Association website at


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