WORTH THE EFFORT                        As with any event that happens you often wonder if the effort put forth is worth the time invested. Such as the case in teaching hunter education and trappers education. Every year, I wonder if all that is put into these programs is worth the time. After 25 years of teaching it still is in the back of my mind. 

Last fall I taught a trapping course at home and had eighteen students attend. The folks attending ranged in age from 12 to in the 70”s and from all accounts everyone had a good time.   

One student in particular stood out though. A week before the class started Matt Musgrave from Milton gave me a call explaining he desperately wanted to do the class and wanted to know if I could fit him in. I advised him that he only had a week and he had a lot of material to cover. He advised he could do it in that time frame and I signed him and his dad up too.    

The morning of the class Matt and his dad did show up. Early in the class it was quite apparent to me that Matt had done his homework. Full of questions and enthusiasm I knew he would go on and use what he learned today throughout his life.                         

Two weeks after the class I got a frantic call from Matt Matt advised” my dad’s doctor has a major beaver problem and needs help now, and even though I took your class I still feel a little apprehensive about doing this, can you help? How could I say no?

On a crisp fall morning I met Matt in Underhill with a bucket full of 330 conibears and away we went. We slogged through mud and water and found a lot of sign and damage. I advised Matt he was going to do the work and I was going to photograph him and offer advice only.             

For a “ginner” I had little to offer. About the only advise I gave was to be real careful with a loaded 330 in his hands. It was quite obvious to me he had paid attention in the class and put this knowledge to work.              

We set five 330s up and left the area. The following morning I got a call from Matt and it sounded like Christmas had come early. He, by himself had caught 3 beautiful Vermont beaver. He was in route to my house so I could show him how to handle the fur. Two hours later he had them skinned and ready to go. Matt decided to keep the larger one and get it tanned to display at his home.

In chatting with Matt I asked what peaked his interest in trapping Matt advised “I have always enjoyed the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and anything outdoors. I heard about your class and figured this sport would get me more outdoor time to enjoy the heritage of all of these sports. I lived on the computer the week before the class and feel real confident about what I am doing. The biggest surprise was learning that the antis have little to no knowledge of what they preach to what really happens in the trapping world”. Matt also advised he is already receiving calls for nuisance work and wants to get into that soon.

So the bottom line is that the wonder is gone. I now know why I do this year after year. If the small amount of time it takes to teach these classes ends up with success stories like Matt’s then I guess I will continue to teach until my last chain dances. Thank you Mr. Musgrave for changing my thoughts about whether or not its all worth the time invested.

Randy Barrows  
Arrowhead Trapping Supply  
88 North Road  
Milton, Vermont 05468  
Advanced Trapping Instructor  
Trapper- 41 years  
Past President-Vermont Trappers Association