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OUTDOORS: Trapping was hard, but not a bad way to make money

During the Fifties, I worked for the State Highway Department. That consisted of blacktopping, cutting weeds and digging ditches. I worked there for around two years until school started, and then I had to quit. It was a political job, so when state politics changed the staff that I knew got laid off.

I had to find another job so that I could purchase Christmas presents and also have some spending money. For years I had followed my dad on his trapline, and I learned a lot. I decided to try trapping on my own, as fur prices were high back then. I had no transportation, so I had to rely on my bicycle to run my traps.

It was easy to obtain permission for trapping back then, as most of the critters like muskrat and raccoon caused a lot of damage in farm country. I placed my traps and wire in the bike's basket and was on my way. I made a lot of sets that first day, and when I arrived home I was tired.

The next day I collected 16 muskrats and was very elated until I got home. Then there was skinning, scraping and stretching. By the time I was finished, I felt that my state highway job was much easier. Later that week I caught my first buck mink. My classmates had to come over and see it, as most had never seen a mink in their lives.

I continued to trap, and when I was old enough to get a driver's license things became much easier. I could carry more gear and even acquired additional territory. When trapper Morello became too old, I got his river line. By then I had a small boat, and it was great until freeze-up. After a hard freeze, things became more difficult.

I had to learn to trap foxes. I had to collect dry dirt and create a dirt hole set. In addition, I learned to construct a urine post and trail sets.

Our fur buyer traveled from the town of Sandwich to our home and graded our furs. He then wrote us a check for our efforts. I had never handled that amount of money back then, and I thought I had died and went to heaven.

I still trap, but on a limited basis as I am getting too old for the heavy work. I tried some animal damage control for a while, but that got very taxing as well.

I still enjoy it as well as fishing and hunting.

Fishing report

Cooling lake action remains good at La Salle and Braidwood. Blue catfish and bluegill are hitting wax worms and crawlers. Hybrid stripers are still hitting chicken livers. Both large- and small-mouth bass are hitting chatter baits.

At Heidecke Lake, walleye are hitting crawlers and crank baits near the bridge. Some of these are over four pounds.

Farm ponds continue to be good for bass and bluegill. Some of the ponds have stocked channel catfish, and they will hit minnows and crawlers.

Tread lightly when walking around farm ponds, as the vibration from your feet tends to scare fish.

Hope all of you had a great holiday.

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