The following entry comes from Toby Walrath, an outdoor writer, USSA LFD and newest addition to the Faces of Hunters bloggers!
“Dad, what are these?” I asked as I pulled a few peculiar looking metal objects with chains from the barn wall and lay them at my father’s feet. My question was routine as one might expect from a five year old boy to his patriarch. The long springs were rust colored and held fast to the jaws. A round flat pan in the center of the frame broke the otherwise slender profile of the device.
“These are traps and I use them to catch muskrats.” He said plainly. His answer sparked more questions than he likely had hoped. I asked him to set the traps and he did, over and over again – at my request.
I wanted to know more. How did the trap hold the muskrats? Where did he set them and how did he know to set it there? What other animals can we trap?
Trapping has become a way of life for me and, good or bad, so has fighting to protect my heritage. Having a voice is half the battle when vying for change or keeping the rights we have. I found my trappers voice as a writer through words and photographs. My writing career has landed my words in dozens of outdoor publications and in a book published in 2013 about trapping; “Wild Pride Montana A Trappers Journey”.
My passion for trapping and the fur trade naturally led me to the Montana Trappers Association where I now serve as President and spokesman. I recently took on the challenge of becoming a Local Field Director for the USSA as well in large part because of the USSA’s outspoken support of trappers.
My life as a trapper has led me from the marshes and mountains to State and National Trapping Conventions and in front of the podium at Legislative hearings. The more involved I become in trapping issues the more I cherish the days spent on my trap line with my Father and the more I look forward to the many years I have left with my own son.
More than three decades after pulling those rusty traps off the wall there are still many questions left to answer about trapping. I finally understand how my Dad felt that day as I listen to my own son ask me to set traps.
And I do, over and over again – at his request.