By Josh Boyd
For centuries, man has been trapping extensive spans of wilderness and rural lands in their bid to maximize their annual fur harvest. Today, though trapping is still prominent in many areas, our ability to cover vast expanses of land during this beloved pursuit has largely diminished to a degree.
Though some are fortunate enough to still maintain access to a wide sweep of territory on which to run their traplines, this is simply not the case for most. Urban sprawl, the division of once large farms, and the overall progress of man has taken its toll on the average trapper’s ability to place their sets in an unbound fashion.
Perhaps, second only to the loss of habitat, when discussing the root cause of dwindling land access, is the lack of understanding that many individuals have toward trapping in today’s society. Those that have never taken part in trapping often harbor unsubstantiated negative feelings toward the practice, much of which stems from anti-trapping propaganda spread by those that oppose fur harvest.
Others, however, simply do not understand what it is that trappers do, and the level of tradition that surrounds our time spent afield. In fact, few understand the positive impact that trapping has on the ecosystem and the management of our habitat and resources.
The following are some key points of discussion that can be used when conversing with a landowner in an attempt to gain access to his or her property for the purpose of trapping.
Explain How They Benefit
It is human nature for any two individuals that are discussing the potential of an arrangement to strive for that agreement to be mutually beneficial. A landowner understands that by permitting you to trap on their property, you will instantly become the benefactor of their acceptance. It is often helpful to explain exactly how the agreement will benefit them as well.
In the case of trapping, predator numbers are significantly reduced on a given property, and this can often become a point of leverage when attempting to gain land access. If a landowner appears hesitant toward the prospect of trapping, appeal to their sensibilities toward predator removal, especially when it directly affects their wellbeing.
As you pull into a landowner’s driveway, study your surroundings. Does the landowner have a garden? Do they have a pond that is likely stocked to capacity? Is there an archery target sitting next to their garage? If any of these observations are made, you can utilize this knowledge to potentially sell that individual on the idea of trapping.
By explaining that trapping will reduce the number of garden ravaging raccoons, quell the fawn and poult predation by coyotes, or cut the number of fish being consumed by otter and mink, you can effectively appeal to that particular landowner’s sense of relevance, thereby providing them a service from which they benefit.
Educate With A Sense Of Understanding
A number of individuals simply do not understand enough about trapping to feel comfortable granting permission to their property for the given purpose. Often, what little they do know centers on the thought of archaic tooth-laden bear traps of days gone by. More often than not, a friendly five-minute conversation about the type of gear utilized by the modern trapper can put a landowner’s mind at ease.
By explaining the differences in perception versus reality as it relates to trap selection, an individual can obtain a firm grasp of exactly what trapping is about and is allowed the opportunity to form their own opinion, free from the influence of the outside world.
It can also be helpful to show a landowner the kinds of traps that you intend to use if permission is granted. By viewing a modern foothold trap, absent of the 2-inch teeth that many have come to envision, a significant amount of stigma can be put to the wayside. The key to this is to only do so after speaking with the landowner. The sight of an individual on one’s doorstep holding an armful of traps can, at times, be off-putting to some if unaware of the situation.
As unfortunate as it is, many landowners deny recreational access to their property solely on the premise that others have disrespected his or her property under the same pretense before. When an individual has found their property left in a state of disarray in the past, being left to pick up trash and close gates that were left open, a negative view toward outdoorsmen of every walk is often imparted.
When speaking to a property owner, always emphasize that you respect his or her land and that you understand that any access granted would come as a privilege, not a right. Express the appreciation that you would have if they would be receptive to your request, and let them know that they would never be left with any doubt that you are a responsible individual that will not trouble them in any way.
It also does not hurt to offer assistance to the landowner with any farm chores that might need to be seen to from time to time. Most individuals understand that one’s time is a precious commodity, especially in today’s fast-paced world. By offering your time to lend a hand when one is needed, a landowner can gauge the level of sincerity in your request.
Helping Your Cause
By taking the time to assess the situation at hand, and going the extra mile to put your best foot forward, land access for trapping can readily be had. By helping a landowner understand what trapping is, how it is done, and how beneficial it can be, you will be helping your cause. In doing so, you will be well on your way to securing enough ground to trap, that your only worry will be having enough gear to adequately cover it all.