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Have the winter blues set in yet? Got a touch of cabin fever? There is no time like the present to get out and do some trapping.

Trapping is a dying art. There aren't a lot of hardcore trappers left around it seems. West Virginia was built on the fur trade and many a mountaineer made their livelihood trapping, skinning and selling all sorts of critters.

Since those days, the fur prices have dropped, and rules and restrictions have made commercial trapping a thing of the past. This is certainly a good thing as commercializing wildlife almost always ends in doom.

Still, roots run deep in these parts and recreational trappers live on to this day. There is, also, still a market for their yearly take of furs, it just isn't as lucrative as it once was.

Trapping season for most fur bearers is open until the end of February. That give trappers just over a month and a half to set their traps. There are a few exceptions like fisher season which closes on January 31st or beaver which stays open through March 31.

The most commonly trapped species like muskrat, raccoon, red fox, coyote and bobcat are all open through the month of February. Add in beaver and these species make up the bulk of all animals trapped across the state each year.

They, also, just happen to be the most abundant if you know where to look. According to the West Virginia Trappers Association auction results from 2018, you could make a little extra money from doing some trapping but don't expect to get rich.

Last year muskrat pelts brought in about $3.50 each, while a nice bobcat skin might bring as much as $20-$30. That might sound like a pretty good deal until you figure all the time that goes into skinning, cleaning, stretching and preparing the hides. Not to mention all the time spent setting and checking your trap line.

That being said, it quickly becomes clear why those still out there trapping are doing it more for the recreation and heritage of it than to make the extra cash. Regardless of the motivation, trapping is definitely another challenge for the outdoorsman looking for something to get them out of the house on a winter day.

It is easy to see where the lure (no pun intended) of trapping can get you. When you are checking your set ups it can feel like Christmas morning. You never know what might be just up around the bend.

There is also a satisfaction every time you are successful knowing that you fooled some of the keenest senses in the woods and now have a fine pelt to show for it. It takes a high degree of woodsmanship to set a successful trap and fool a woodwise critter into getting caught.

Historically, some of the most famous outdoorsmen have all been trappers at some point. The skills needed to run successful traps are useful no matter what you prey of choice is. Yet another reason while many of today's trappers keep the tradition alive. It is another avenue in which to perfect their game and get better.

If you have never set a trapline and like the thoughts of having one more reason to be outside, don't be intimidated by the thoughts of it. It may not be as easy as it sounds, but it, also, isn't so difficult that even a beginner can't have some success.

There are hours and hours of videos on YouTube and other sources on the internet that explain step by step everything you need to know. There are untold numbers of books on the subject and there are even a few trappers still around who are more than willing to give you some tips.

The best thing about it is you will always learn something when you try something new. Trapping may not be for everyone, but it may be something that strikes a chord and brings out the true Daniel Boone in you. Either way, it gets us out of the house and might even put a little gas money in your pocket. Just be sure to read up on the regulations and make sure you do it right. Just like any other season, we need to make sure we play by the rules to protect ourselves and the resource.

Good luck to all the trappers out there and good luck to those of you hearty enough to give it a try for the first time. A tip of the coonskin hat to you all!

Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at wolfeii@hotmail.com.


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