My Three Years (Part I)By
My name is Cody Petersen. I am a 17 year old high-school senior into my third year in this wonderful sport of trapping, and I’m proud to say that I am improving each year. It seems that is a direct correlation to a few key things which we’ll discuss. First is how I got into this sport and why I have succeeded.
When I was younger, my Dad used to love trapping and from what I remember he was pretty darn good at it! I remember going to his house on weekends and running the line with him or going down in the basement and wearing a freshly skinned out muskrat as a glove. Some of my fondest memories I have. When the fur market took a dive, he stopped and never got back in. Although he could never refrain from noticing a muskrat hut on the side of the road or how he would set it up. I’m beginning to notice that I am the same way. I cannot drive past anything involving trapping without talking about it or just smiling to myself.
Jumping ahead a few years, a couple of my buddies started talking at school about who could skin a muskrat faster and how much they loved trapping. I convinced a buddy to come over and set a few traps for the weekend with me, and it is almost funny looking back at it now because he knew nothing and neither did I. I still pick on him because he has not changed. We set a few coon traps and rat traps in spots I would never set now. We ended up catching nothing much.
I started looking everywhere for a trapper’s training course since that’s a requirement in New York State. I could not find a trapping course for some time, but finally found one an hour away that I convinced my step dad to take me. He is also a huge reason I am the trapper I am today. Well, I ended up having the flu that day so it had to wait until after season. I started reading every single forum I could and gathering as much information as possible, which I still do. Trapperman.com became a huge help.
I ran into a trapper named Gary who lived a couple miles away. I wound up talking to him and noticed his location was close to me, little did I know but he would become one of my best friends and mentors! Gary convinced me to go for high quality traps and start out with “Cadillac’s” as he would say. He took me around to some properties I had permission to trap and just showed me sign for a full day, which I highly recommend taking the time out of your schedule to scout and watch animals’ habits.
We talked on a regular basis by phone, which took my parents getting used to but they soon understood it was much better for me to talk trapping all of the time instead of getting into trouble and doing stupid things such as drugs or partying. Gary took me to my first convention. I soon realized that these things and online forums were a huge part in becoming a successful trapper.
First thing that I have noticed is WHO YOU KNOW and how you go about talking to people plays a huge role in the style of trapping you do. As I stated earlier, my first mentor was Gary and he has a thing for trapping k9s, which I am obsessed with. I believe a huge part of my obsession with trapping k9s is my mentor always talked about them. I did not start out with cheaper traps because I was told, “ save for a few Cadillac’s instead of buying a lot of cheaper traps”. And I did just that.
I bought 6 mb650s inside laminated because I was told how awesome these traps are (although I now favor a different trap). Once I started being an active contributor on the forums and going to conventions I was becoming better, these people that I was talking to had already had made mistakes and they had trials and had errors that I could learn from. This accelerated my learning curve tenfold.
I then started talking to some bigger named trappers such as Mark Zagger, and I cannot thank him enough for all the information that he has given me and for taking me under his wing. The trappers that have taken me under their wing such as Gary, Mark, John Rockwood (and more) I believe are the reason for my success.
My first year I ended up catching 3 coyote, 2 fox, 21 muskrat, 4 mink, 2 fisher and a couple of other critters. My second year I improved greatly with k9s as I went from 5 to 15. This year I caught 29 k9s but I also had a few thefts of fur, one being a coyote came and took a fox from my trap. One reason for my improvement on k9s is because of these great mentors, but also another concept that they had taught me.
My first year trapping was on my land and my family’s land right next to me. The second year I trapped, I expanded a few miles and in turn I caught more k9s. This year I greatly expanded the number of miles and caught even more k9s. This brings me to another key concept.
This concept can apply to a number of things. First thing that comes to mind is when I first set a trap. First thing I think of is, “Will this set work if it rains?” It usually rains on opening day in upstate New York. When I am looking at a set location I think, “if it rains will this set still be able to produce fur?” In order to help I look for a set that is on a downhill slope… another thing I learned from mentors along with online forums. It allows for water to run off and makes so the animal exerts more force when it steps because it is stepping down. I use a lot of peat moss to help keep it dry and working.
One of my main problems, like most kids, is SCHOOL… but I have a different problem than most. Because I am in school, I either have to wake up at unbearable hours or let my animals sit through the day. I wake up early most of the time to get it done before school. Waking up at 3:30 A.M. or sometimes earlier makes for a long trapping season and it is sometimes hard to motivate yourself to keep putting in new sets and to keep fixing sets that you caught animals in.
One thing that kept me motivated was my family, whether that be my actual family or my trapping family. Another problem with having to wake up this early is that you can actually scare off a lot of critters going into your sets this early which I often experienced throughout the season.
Another item I have seen and noticed is people thinking that there is one secret set or mystery set that pro’s use to rack up k9s and they will not tell people their secret. This is completely FALSE. Many people also believe there is one position that the trap HAS to be at, such as 9 inches back and 2 inches offset. For me, and remember I am not a pro or anywhere close to it so take this lightly, my trap position depends on quite a few things.
One thing that it depends on is the type of set. I will switch up my trap position for a standard dirt hole, step down, scent post, or my new favorite set which I call the Blueball’s dirt hole because that’s my nickname on the NYSTA site and around at the conventions.
[to be continued]
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