I grew up playing Davy Crockett and reading about all of his exploits. He really did live an amazing life whether all the stories are true or not, they are fun to read about. My kids are no different and reading about Davy Crockett and early American explorers like Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark give our kids a real sense of adventure living on the homestead.
A couple years ago, we got a fake coon skin cap that both my boys share and they take turns wearing it around the house and around the homestead. They love playing and building forts in the woods and acting out some of the books they read on a daily basis. My youngest can't really read yet but he loves books and is always asking for someone to read to him. It won't be long before he is nose deep in some of his older brothers favorite adventure books.
When I was a small boy, I also liked reading these books and Davy Crockett was in my eyes, the quintessential American patriot and hero. So I was excited when my parents one day took my me and my sister to the Silver Dollar City amusement park. This park explores some of the ways of the American past and the pioneers and homesteaders that settled the continent.
While we were there, my parents decided to get an old time family photo. The photo was taken and even imaged over tin metal like they used to do back in the old days. I of course, proudly wore the coon skin cap and held a rifle. My father in the picture also held a rifle and you can't really see it but hanging around his neck is a coon trap. You can barely see the chain coming down over his chest. Fur trapping was one of the essential parts of the economy for pioneers and settlers in the American frontier.
So this week we are are going to start collecting some raccoon fur so that I can make both my boys a real coon skin cap. I will catch the fur and then bring it home to skin, flesh and dry. Then you can send them into a company called USA Foxx and Furs and they will make the caps and send them back in the mail.
Back when I was in college, I met a trapper online who lived in my hometown of Saint Louis. Saint Louis has a deep history of the fur trade. I decided as soon as I was done with college I would go back home and learn how to trap from this man. I spent an entire winter season with him learning how to catch fur and process it for sale. I have kept that knowledge and am now using it to harvest my own fur this season for my boys. The fur trade really isn't as big as it was back 100 years ago or even earlier, but people still trap today and even use it as a way to supplement their income.
I located a couple of nearby water ways to set some traps. I prefer water trapping in the winter for coon. As long as you have a good pair of water proof boots, it's not so bad. Just think about the pioneers of the past and the weather they had to deal with. I locate my first trap location that I think will be a good spot.
Then I get my trap ready and set it for a hair trigger. Notice how I'm working my thumb underneath the jaws of the trap just in case it goes off.
Next, I anchor the trap by tying it off to a nearby tree root coming out of the bank. Then I set it in the water next to the bank under where my bait will sit.
With my small shovel, I carve out a little pocket where I will place my bait. The bait is just a simple cotton ball dipped with shellfish oil. Raccoons love crawfish. It's their number one food choice. I've also used candies and syrups. They love sweets.
Next I give a little squirt of the shellfish oil on the bank above the trap and it runs down into the water and begins to disperse everywhere. You can see the oil floating on top of the water. This will run down stream and any coon that comes across it will follow it right to the source. Works like a charm.
ANIMAL RIGHTS NOTICE:
I know that some people might be offended at the harvesting of fur. I totally understand that. But please understand that we see this as a renewable resource that is out of control in our area. These furbearers must be controlled. A female raccoon will produce about 8 babies in each litter and have two litters per year. That is around 16 new raccoons from every female every year. You can see how that can compound out of control very quickly. Every farmer and homesteader in my area has chickens or turkeys and raccoons are constantly killing the food sources of these families, many of which are poor. Because there are very few trappers these days, the population goes by unchecked and can be devastating to chicken farmers. Raccoons and foxes are in no way an endangered species in America.
So that is that. I have a number of traps set in the area and will be setting more. I'll keep you up to date on the results with part 2 and part 3 as we harvest and then process the fur and get it ready for shipment to the tanner.
Visit Us Online: http://AnAmericanHomestead.com
JOIN US ON SOLA (TWITTER REPLACEMENT) FOR MORE HOMESTEAD CONTENT