Monday, March 28, 2011

The Modern Day Trapper

By Duane Fronek

  I hear it often, “people still trap?”. Believe it or not trapping is still alive and well since it’s beginning in this country. When most people hear the word trapper or trapping, they envision a leather and fur clad mountain man clutching a .54 cal Hawkin rifle, with traps slung over his shoulder with a mule or horse in tow. Boy, how I wish it was at times. But times change as the season’s and the years and decades roll along like a river carving it’s way through history. Unlike the river where it’s course has pretty much stayed the same, trapping has changed considerably, but yet the spirit in which it’s pursued still lives on in the trapper.

  There’s also other visions that come to peoples minds as well, animals chewing their feet to get free and animals maimed by traps. Most of what was and is out there today is from the animal rights campaigns back in the 70’s and it’s still spread today, the images are used over and over , the same pictures. Most of which were acquired by staging such photos or by getting pics from a non educated trapper back then, but most were staged by the AR groups, maybe stealing traps and setting them to catch and photograph something of what they desired. They spread a lot of untruths about trapping and use the shock and awe type angle to make believers out of non trappers and even other hunting groups that trapping is inhumane and causes needless suffering.

  Aside from the lies these AR groups spread, its what they don’t want you to know about trapping that is a threat to their cause and credibility. They try to mis-lead the uninformed and if they ever accomplish their goal of outlawing trapping, hunters will be next on the chopping block and in full assault mode, probably the dog hunters first, the hound guys then bird hunters, they are already going after dog breeders, then the bow hunters because of the crude weapons and the list goes on, They have a systematic plan to do away with all blood sports and anything to do with them. So what don’t these AR groups like the HSUS or PETA want you to know and  not telling you about trapping?

  Well where do I start. Well for one, trapped animals don’t chew off their leg to get out of a trap, that would take reasoning and to to have been caught before to come up with that reasoning. Animals just don’t have that mental capacity. It would be like “gee I’m caught in a trap, if I chew my leg off I can get away”, the second flaw in that is traps today are designed to hold the animal comfortable, meaning the blood flow is still going to that foot, which means the animal would feel the pain of chewing if it did that. Animals will not intentionally inflict pain on itself, the human is the only thing on this planet that will intentionally hurt its self. So, where do these images come from the anti’s tote about so much. Well most are old photos like I mentioned and anything new these days is pretty much photo shopped. Not saying things like this hasn’t happened but it was usually due to wrong trap size, trapper inexperience etc.

  Well that’s all changed over the years. Trappers them selves have experimented, discovered, put into use more humane traps. They were in the forefront in the Best Management Practices for trapping (the BMP’s) testing traps, equipment etc. to find what traps worked best. You can find the summary here

Trap showing the thicker jaws eliminates foot damage

Traps today are more animal friendly, using traps with thicker jaws to eliminate cutting that sometimes happened in the past, the thicker jaws ensure blood flow to the foot so it doesn’t go numb. A trapped animal will try to chew on the trap itself, but if the foot is numb below the jaw, they have in the past chewed on the numb foot because it was softer than the trap to chew, but with the way trappers are setting up the traps these days and techniques these issues are null, using better systems to stake traps down and using swivels in the chains to allow free movement for the animal.All this brought about not by the AR groups, but by trappers themselves looking to improve their equipment and their success, and their appearance in the public eye. Traps today can catch animals and those animals can be released unharmed with no foot damage, and this is important when trapping in areas where people don’t keep their dogs tied up like they should. Then the free roaming dog gets caught and they try to blame the trapper when he was legally set and had permission to trap the land their dog crossed over too. But the incident tends to go away, not always, but usually is forgotten because traps today don’t wreak the havoc and damage the AR’s claim. The dog usually limps off after being release and acts like nothing happened in just a short time.
Foot undamaged , just enough pressure to hold the animal

Coyote held comfortably in a foothold trap

 Another thing the AR groups don’t tell you is, even though we are a small group, we contribute the most when it comes to keeping furbearer populations in check.  Take coyotes for example. Most coyotes that are killed in this country are taken by trappers, coon, it’s a horse apiece between hound guys and trappers. For critters like skunks, possum etc. the majority are taken by trappers. And good that they do, all these animals mentioned can be hard on nesting birds, from song birds to ducks by eating the eggs every spring and some hunting clubs hire trappers to come in and clean out these nest robbers. Then theres the beaver that causes millions of dollars each year due to the habit of building dams and flooding, roads, property, timber etc. If trappers weren’t out there, the cost to the taxpayer to control all these animals would be astronomical. The reward for the trapper is the fur he sells and recent years hasn’t been that great. But yet because it’s in their blood, they forge on. Some, even hunters disagree with killing an animal for it’s pelt. But the reality is, by doing so the resource is being utilized and it’s renewable and green. I believe some animals were meant to be eaten and some were meant to be worn. And like mentioned before if trappers weren’t out there, the gov. would have to do it all, costing taxpayers and probably the fur being tossed if it were to be that way, wasting a resource. There are gov. agencies that trap, and when the fur is prime it’s sold to help fund the program, but fur that’s not worth anything that’s trapped in the summer by the gov. because it’s necessary are usually no good and a waste. So trappers do a huge service for the public. Yet there are others that claim trapping isn’t fair chase. Well I hate to break it to them, nothing is fair chase unless your out there naked hunting with a stick. Every tool man has developed, bows, guns, traps were developed to give man an edge over the animal kingdom, period. We cannot compete without these tools. Animals don’t even execute fair chase, to them it’s do or die, it’s that simple.

  What else do trappers do. Well they contribute both time and money and work with state agencies to further ensure healthy populations of wildlife, just like the many other outdoor user groups, like DU, Delta Waterfowl, White-Tails Unlimited, Trout Unlimited. Trappers have been instrumental in re-introducing the pine martin in WI, Fishers in eastern states and WI. Trappers play a vital role in animal studies, often being called upon by state agencies to submit animal samples to study, etc. Even being asked to keep an eye out for observations. Most trappers spend more time in the outdoors hours wise than most user groups and they observe a lot.

  Trappers have also taken it upon themselves to ensure trapping is here to stay, most states now have a trapper education program just like they have for hunter education. It’s usually a cooperative effort between trapping assoc. and state DNR agencies. They teach ethics, humane practices, wildlife management, fur handling, diseases etc. In WI. It’s mandatory for first time trappers. Which is a good thing, it gives new trappers the right tools and knowledge to go about it to prevent those problems we’ve had a few decades ago.

  In this day and age, you may not recognize the trapper in the outdoors, he won’t be clad in furs or leather. He’ll probably be wearing hip boots or waders, or wearing blue jeans and a ball cap, he’ll probably be driven a 4x4 and the bed loaded with fur, but you’ll get a hint of aroma in the air, it may be mink, or skunk or the sweet smell of beaver castor. At any rate, if you do happen to run into a trapper, you can know your talking to an individual who loves the outdoors as much as yourself and is putting his time and money into what he believes and the passion he holds for the outdoors.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cannibals and Useful Idiots

The following is from a friend of mine John Wasmuth and shows just how we loose hunting rights, whether it be the example below, or cross bows or hunting with dogs or trapping etc. the list can go on because it may not mesh with your own idea of what real hunting is. The Real Hunter mindset. Something to think about. We must all hang together or all hang separately. 

Cannibals and Useful Idiots

   The following is real, and it’s here now. Joe Hunter goes to a cocktail party, nothing fancy, just a holiday gathering in Anytown, USA. A conversation begins with Bob Peta, it goes something like this.
Bob Peta: Say Joe, didn’t you go deer hunting this year?
Joe Hunter: Sure did Bob.
Bob: Man, that’s great, did you get one?
Joe: Yep, I sure did, a nice six pointer.
Bob: Hey, that’s great. Say listen Joe, you’re a true hunter, a “real” hunter are you not?
Joe: I sure am.
Bob: Say, I hear tell of a kind of hunting where people can go kill animals in fenced areas. You’ve never done that, have you?
Joe: No, no I haven’t.
Bob: Well, I wouldn’t call that real hunting, would you Joe?
Joe: Well, that’s not the way I hunt.
Bob: I know Joe, but there are people who hunt in fenced areas. I don’t think that’s really hunting, do you Joe?
Joe: well, uh, I guess not.
Bob: Great. Say, listen Joe, a group of us concerned “real” hunters are trying to get that method of hunting done away with. We feel it is unethical, will you help us?
Joe: Sure, because that is not the way I hunt, and I’m a real hunter.
Bob: Thanks Joe. Here is what we need you to do. As a real hunter the big boys in Congress and the Senate will listen to you. They know that any “real” hunter only hunts the way you do, and that’s the only real hunting there is. What we need you to do is get out there and get petitions signed, people will sign them because you are a real hunter, and they know that only your way of hunting is the “real” way.
   So Joe diligently goes after the goal, to ban, and outlaw any kind of hunting that Bob suggest is not real hunting. He gathers up signatures, petitions courts, and makes meetings. He is really cleaning up this unethical way of hunting, he’s got a lot of support. He is gathering “real” hunters from all over, and finally, after much hard work, they get a legal way of hunting banned.

Bob: Joe, you did great and we sure appreciate your hard work, but let me tell you what I heard. There is another type of hunting that we think is not right. Could you help us again?
Joe: Well I guess so Bob. I don’t hunt like that, so it’s not real hunting anyway. How can I help?

   It’s the same old story. It’s odd how Bob Peta keeps adding to the list of what  “real”  hunting is. However, Joe goes at it hard and heavy, and in the end, he helps get that type of hunting banned. Bob and his friends are happy. Joe is a “real” hunter, and these other guy’s aren’t, because the way they hunt is different from Joe, and Joe does not like that way of hunting. So what’s the harm in getting rid of that type of hunting. Joe is a “real” hunter after all, not like those other guys. He even goes to sportsmen’s organizations and recruits from within, it’s easy because they are all “real” hunters too.
   Time passes, and more and more legal ways of hunting are banned. Bob and his friends are real happy with Joe, he’s been a real help. So after all the unethical ways of hunting are gone, Bob and his friends decide that it is time to get Joe’s way of hunting banned, the final chapter.

Joe: Bob, hey buddy, this is Joe. I know I helped you get rid of all those other forms of legal hunting, but now there is a move to get rid of the way I hunt.
Bob: Well Joe, I know. My friends and I are spearheading that movement.
Joe: But Bob, I thought you liked the way I hunt, and it was OK for me to do that type of hunting?
Bob: Well Joe, no, any and all types of hunting are bad, the poor defenseless animals never have a chance, and we dislike, actually we hate hunters.
Joe: But I thought the way I hunted was “real” hunting to you?
Bob: Joe, it was all real hunting, but we at PETA and HSUS hate you. Thanks for all your help, we greatly appreciate it.

   You see, what Joe became was a “Cannibal”, a“Useful Idiot” to the anti-hunters at HSUS and PETA . They don’t give a rats backside how you hunt, what you hunt, or where you hunt, they just want all hunting done away with. The sad thing is that they use hunters against hunters for their causes. If you do not support any and all forms of legal hunting, or voice any decent about the way someone else legally hunts, you my friend are a “Cannibal”, and a very “Useful Idiot” to the enemy. Think twice the next time you mouth off against another hunter’s methods, they could be coming after you next.

                                                                                  Written by: John Wasmuth

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Last Coyote

By Duane Fronek

  Back a few years ago, I had a friend that was a well seasoned veteran hunter. He was feared by deer anytime he crawled into a stand with a bow, and for fishing, he was a local pro in the eyes of the community. He was one of them people everyone liked. But his life was hunting and fishing and he excelled at it. He had more woods sense and experience than most twice his age, he was only 18. He was raised by a family that hunted and a bunch of uncles that taught him well.

  I knew Jesse for a good many years, you’d see him when he was younger pedaling his bike down to the lake to fish and as he grew, you see him driving off to hunt. And as a kid he would often times come by to see my trapline catch for the day. I worked with Jesse at a local mill when he turned 18. We worked 3rd shift together and often talked of hunting and fishing. At this time Jesse had picked up the predator calling bug as did his buddies. They were in pursuit to see who could take their first dog before the others. And the talk led to Jesse and I setting up a morning of calling to get him his first coyote.

  The morning came that we made plans for. It was -10 below zero and the snow that dropped five inches through the night had ended. It was overcast and just cracking daylight when Jesse and I parked the truck where we were to walk in to our set. The wind was calm, with an occasional whisper from the north. Walking in to our setup we cut 3 sets of fresh coyote tracks in the fluffy snow. They were heading east, cutting the cross wind disappearing into a large open field.

  Jesse and I arrived at our point of ambush in the early dawn. A brushy fence line that ran north and south along the vast field the trio of nomads silently slinked across. As our anticipation was rising, Jesse took the west side of the line and I took the back to back seat to the east. We couldn’t see each other even though we were only 10 feet apart. But we could hear each other. And after settling in to our snow covered bunkers, Jesse let me know he was ready.

  I pulled out my trusty little sweet talker, a Carlton open reed call. The rabbits screams were chilling, piercing the cottony landscape adding to her deadly beauty. Not even a minute into the bunnies death throws, the nomadic trio appears out of the twilight making their way to the shadowy edges of a brushy uncultivated clump of brush and sumac. They were coming hard right straight  to the fenceline, trying to get to the slight downwind breeze to assess their plan of attack. I knew it would be over in a matter of seconds if I did nothing but watch. So turning to get square on them, the squeal of my foam seat pad against the bone chilling cold alerted the killers to my presence. One by one as if they were dominos their heads came up and eyes and ears stood at attention to my existence. In a desperate attempt to salvage the fast deteriorating situation, I awkwardly centered the cross hairs of my hungry .243 on the lead dog, a half a heartbeat later the trigger trips and sends a 100grs of copper and lead into the empty air around the intended recipient. In turn the roar and the flash of the cannon sent the tribe in a mad dash to the west through the brushy fence row seeking what cover they could to put between us.

  Unknowingly they crossed into Jesse’s world. Jesse had already been standing when he heard my seat pad squeaking, thinking I was getting up myself from an unproductive stand. But Jesse was a quick study, the report of the .243 to the east alerted his model 7 .243 to the ready. As the fleeing aggressors angled straight away from Jesse, he had already locked in on the lead dog. Touching the trigger as the Alpha hit the 275yd mark, it kicked a 100gr. Boot right up the tail pipe. The intended target fell head over heels as if it were meant to be, and came to rest in the puff of snow facing the way he came without so much as a twitch . Jesse now held the braggin’ rights of the first dog, with a Texas heart shot.

 Jesse was elated, the smile on his face was carved in stone, high fives and the trek to the fallen to retrieve his carcass who’s fur was to become, the reflection of memories.  For myself I was once again satisfied to have introduced another into this thing they call predator hunting, connecting one to the results.

  This blog post is dedicated in memory of my friend Jesse. He passed away the following fall, due to contracting spinal meningitis. He would never hunt again in our world, we lost a true sportsman in the truest sense of the term. At his request, about 40 of us all hunting friends and relatives , donned our hunting apparel to his wake and services as we laid him to rest. He is sadly missed by all.

The Fisher

By Duane Fronek

  Been awhile since I posted a blog. So to my readers I apologize for the lapse, there may be more as I venture in to the spring beaver. Been kinda busy with stuff. Been rollin’ a lot of things around in this head of mine. Thinking about past hunts, season’s, mishaps(believe me I have plenty) etc. So let me begin.

 It was the second day of the 2009 WI deer season. And like every deer season I string some steel for coyotes where I hunt. The hunting season for coyotes closes during deer season, supposedly to protect the few Wolves we have(yeah right). But we can still trap during that time.

 Anyway I’m driving the two miles of logging road and skidder trails into my stand with my son. As I come around a corner of my first set, in the headlights there’s a big orange blob standing there. I commented I got something in the trap to my huntin‘ partner‘s. Which I did. As I closed in the orange blob turned out to be another deer hunter, posed  in a shooting stance with his rifle pointed toward my set.

  I stop the truck and say hold up. What you doing. He replies, I think there’s a mink or something here and he’s big and just nasty. Turns out I had a fisher, and that’s what I told him. I explained to him that I was trapping some coyotes and that it was a good thing he didn’t shoot the fisher, for a number of reasons. The biggest is about $4000 in fines and loss of license for 3 years. He was from down south around Milwaukee and wasn’t up on the regs except deer and never saw a fisher in his life. He thought it was pretty cool. Now a lot of guys would of went off on this guy for his ignorance the deed he was about to do. But I tend to treat other sportsmen and women with a benefit of doubt and in this case was the right thing to do. I was able to educate a fellow hunter and some things he didn’t know.

  Now onto the fisher. Since you need to draw a tag to keep one and I wasn’t lucky this go round, I had to release it. This is where it gets interesting. It’s still kinda dark and I’m working in head lights in the shadows and my son is hanging out the window watching intently and mumbling things like don’t get bit, is it biting. I carry a catchpole in the back of the truck for releasing critters I don’t want. So I get it out and try lassoing the fisher. Well if you ever had a fisher in a trap, they are about as squirrely as a barn cat that’s tail hit the electric fence. After a couple attempts trying to get the noose on the little rascal, he manages to get the cable fouled up and is now holding it firmly in his jaws. Since his teeth are occupied, I did the next best thing, I put the boot down on him and got my hand wrapped around the back of his muscular neck. They are a stout tough animal and can be hard to hold. But after a few decades of handling wild life I pretty much had it down pat, pretty much. After getting the little psychopath subdued, I release the trap off his back foot. Now comes the tricky part, letting him go. This can be a delicate matter, the fisher had finally dropped the catch pole and I now have a firm grip around the back of his neck and the other firmly gripped around the base of the tail. First I asked the suburban hunter if he wanted to feel the fur, he just stood there staring with his mouth agape  and nodded his head side to side and finally uttered; that things too mean too pet.

  So now I have to put the release plan into action, with my grip on the fisher I had, I just normally just do the ol’ heave ho toss and the critter is slightly airborne and in perpetual motion away from me. Works every time. Well it use to, seems this fisher was plotting and planning while I was distracted with his release. As I was in the final motion of the forward movement and the release of my grip, this little Tasmanian nutcase  decides to roll in my hand that was now releasing it’s grip around his neck, and he firmly planted his nice razor sharp canines into my wrist, and at that moment a few explicative’s  rolled off my tongue as my son made a few shrieks out the window when he realized daddy got bit. Now you d think as this little fur ball of fury would realize I was no longer holding on to him he’d just release his grip and fall to the ground and run off. BUT NO!!!! He has to shake his head while his teeth are sunk into the tendons in my wrist like a musky trying to shake a bucktail. I could see the gleam of victory in his beady little eyes as they shown in the headlights. With a sweeping motion like a pro bowler on steroids I fling the little creature from hades and  he comes loose while one of his canines rakes across one of my tendons like a guitar string, sending what felt like 20,000 volts of pain up my arm as he breaks free and sails off into the darkness.

 Now my dilemma, and the inevitable that I know is coming. I get to get more rabies shots. Yes, I said more, I was lucky enough to have to get the series of shots once before and knew, I was about to get them again. But right now it’s deer season and the dawn is cracking. I heard comments in the truck that I should get to the hospital and stitches, etc. For now I didn’t want to hear none of that, I wanted to hunt. I let the wound bleed into a bandana to help cleanse the wound, as I finished driving to our spot. Once there I downed 4 ibuprophen and wrapped the wound in the bandana. I figured I could make it till noon and then head the 18 miles to town to get the rabies treatment. Well I made it till 10 am, I wasn’t seeing any deer, probably because the screaming in my head was getting to loud and deer are sensitive to such things. Or they were just sitting around a stump somewhere listening to some fisher  telling his story how he whupped a hunter this morning, laughing their tails off.

  So we pack it in and head to town. As we get to the emergency room, I check in and go thru the regular ropes, some know me by now and don’t get too surprised with some of the afflictions  I’ve managed to acquire over the years. I explain the details and that leads to setting up the series of the shots. I’m a big guy, but when it comes to needles, I tend to get weak. With rabies shot, I not only get weak, I wonder what Nazi came up with this treatment, he couldn’t make a pill or 1 shot instead of 9? After the wound is clean and shot dispensed in parts of my carcass, the Dr. tells me that I’m not really doing too bad for rabies shots, 2 times in 30 some years of handling wild critters isn’t too bad an average. I think he was trying to make me feel better or add a little humor to the situation, but I guess I missed it, cause I was a little distracted with all the new painful spots inflicted upon me.

  Ahhh, fond memories, that will not be easily forgotten, unfortunately. Below are the pics of the little critter and his brand mark he left and a vid of my son kinda making fun of me. Hope you enjoy!! Till next time stay safe,lol
 You can see the evil.
 The damage
My Huntin' bud

And an interview with an on scene eye witness

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Were Wolves ever really Endangered?

By Duane Fronek

What is the definition of Endangered? According to The World Conservation Union, it’s “Generally, an endangered species is an organism in danger of disappearing from the face of the earth if its situation is not improved.” Did you get that. The face of the earth. Yet this is posted on the Wolf. “Endangered in USA except Minnesota; Threatened in Minnesota (USA)

  Do you see what I’m getting at here. Wolves never were in any danger of becoming extinct or even threatened for that matter. The wolves range stretches across N. America, Europe and into Asia, and still thrive today. What happened was there home range changed due to civilization In the lower 48, they still thrived in Canada and other areas of the globe. But groups like the Humane Society of the United States decided to use the wolf as a poster child for their agenda which basically is an end to sport hunting. It’s been ingrained in every school kids minds growing up about the plight of the Wolf, especially back in the 1970’s when these animal rights groups started to really take off. Targeting children’s minds, knowing that it would be of a benefit to the HSUS and other groups in years to come.

  Those years are now, with all the controversy surrounding the wolf and why it’s been a difficult battle for us. Those children are grown up now, the wolf issue is here and the mindset is the wolf was and still is in peril in the minds of many due to putting the wolf up as a poster child for animals rights, you may as well be trying to regulate hunting someone’s puppy the way some have been misled. While the wolf was scarce in the lower 48, they thrived in Canada and not because wolves wouldn’t cross international bounderies, because animals don’t recognize human geographical boundaries. No, they thrived because the habitat was better in the north and the US was at the fringe of this home range. We don’t have alligators in WI, but that doesn’t mean their endangered, we just don’t have all the conditions here for them to flourish, but they do down in Louisiana. So why isn’t the HSUS putting these on posters? Because their not as cute  and fluffy.

  The wolf battle has been a tough one, but if we keep up the fight, point out the flaws in the animal rights statements and reasoning, we can get it done. So, were wolves ever endangered? That would be a resounding NO. The lower 48 is the fringe of their home range plain and simple due to civilization and need to be managed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Howling Up Coyotes

Foremost Coyote Hunting: Howling Up Coyotes: "by Duane Fronek I am often asked, do you howl for coyotes and does it work? The short answer is yes and yes. But I’m going to try and break..."