Passing on a tip from a fellow bowler – actually a rival pin-dropper on this particular evening – this time of year hunters and trappers often mingle with ugly results.
Before explaining this perfect storm, know that I was both a hunter and trapper in my Pennsylvania teenage years. As documented in my 2001 book, (I still have a few copies not smelling of cat urine if you seek a stocking stuffer), I’ve had dubious success in killing ventures.
I never bagged a whitetail, although God knows I tried the morning I skipped school for the woods behind our country home with a 20-guage and “pumpkin ball” ammo. I got hungry mid-morning and ate my first sandwich Mom had packed – then went back to hiding behind a stump, making what I assumed were deer sounds.
Around 9:30, not seeing hide nor hair of a hairy hide, I attacked my second baloney sandwich and an eastern delicacy called a “Gob” – two chocolate end cakes spooning the greatest cream filling you’ll ever taste, at least in this lifetime.
So I was back home sleeping by 10, but at least could blend in with serious deer-hunter buddies in school the next day. Basically I said, “Nah, never even got a shot.” I was a fairly skilled squirrel hunter though, but am still haunted by a big grey squirrel I shot off a branch as it cavorted with a mate that stared in horror before fleeing. For all I know, they were life-partners and the survivor later died of a broken heart. Killin’ just wasn’t in my blood.
I got a brief hankering for trapping my senior year after seeing my brother’s traps hanging in the attic and hearing a good hide can bring a near-fortune to a teenager stealing pinball-machine money from his parent’s bedroom drawer. I set three traps in the ditch shared with dairy-farm neighbor, Lemon Hollsopple.
Again I had limited success, but I did catch one muskrat I never got around to skinning and a spindly-legged, long-beaked bird. A couple days later my traps were gone and I just assumed a couple of Lemon’s cows were walking around sporting some cumbersome jewelry.
But I digest. This bowling friend from the Super Bowl team that cleaned our clocks, requested I address the plethora of hunting dogs crossing paths with razor-teethed traps waiting open-mouthed for unsuspecting, hungry animals coveting a rare snack.
Now this fellow I believe bowled around a 590 series, vigorously clarified he’s not anti-trapping, as I am not, being a veteran trapper. But for God’s sake, when you set a trap, be aware of innocent hounds out there simply trying to betray a fellow creature and later retrieve its carcass. A dog’s gotta make a living.
It’s also the time of year certain unethical hunters keep their retrievers on chains in the bitter cold, because “Oh, he’s not a pet; he’s just a hunting dog.” In their defense, I think what they’re trying to say is dogs that flush out animals are immune to lonely shivering.
Also in their defense, they’ve probably never spent a weekend ice-fishing in the nude. Thusly, they have no way to relate.