In the New Year we are still blessed with running streams and frost free creek banks. For many trappers, including myself, those are perfect ingredients in extending our trapping season. Trapping has been a part of our family for generations. My grandfather at age 70 still slides into his waders every fall to make a few sets around his farm in Butler county. I have been trapping for as long as I can remember; my brother and I started by trapping the creek through the golf course in Wellsburg. We would load our trapping packs and walk from town, usually putting on a couple miles a day, running our trap line. Between our daily arguments about what set should go where and who got the raccoon stuffed in their trapping pack for the long walk home; the memories we have along those banks are ones I will treasure forever.
It was the fall of 1993 when we tackled our first trap line. We had stumbled along with our dad on his trap line in the years prior, but now we were about to take what little knowledge and little muscle we had to the creek. Myself being the elder of the bunch at age 12 and my brother being only 9 we had lots to learn. We learned a lot from watching our father, but we learned even more by trial and error. Some of the sets we made back then I would never dream of making today, but we tried them then and learned. I remember those early years having to pull the stake from the creek bed; take the trap onto land and use my feet to set it. Then very carefully travel back down the slick bank and push the stake back into the firm creek bed, praying that I would not set off the trap half way through the process. I remember more than once the process would be repeated two or three times before it was placed where it was supposed to be. The achievement of trapping on our own was worth everything to us. The success we had that first year was something we were very proud of.
As soon as the eighth period bell would ring we would be racing out the door and heading for home. Then quickly slipping into our hip boats that were still damp from the previous day's adventure, and grabbing our homemade trapping packs (that were made of small garbage cans and vehicle seat belts) and down the street we went. There were many times that we would be heading home right at dark carrying a raccoon through someone's backyard, but to our neighbors it was just the Buseman boys doing their thing. One of the most valuable lessons we learned while running our trap line was that no matter what traps were to be checked everyday. Rain, snow, wind, or your friend playing football after school; your traps needed to be checked. I believe that with trapping comes respect for the animal you are targeting and also pride in the work you put forth.
To all the trappers out there, I hope that you are passing on the tradition of trapping. Myself, I can't wait to pass on the trapping tradition to my son and maybe even my daughter. Without my grandfather and father providing us with the tools needed to run a line it wouldn't have been possible. So I hope the area trappers consider taking someone under their wing and getting them started.