Skip to content

An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 11-6-2013

by Mark Walters

Backwater Trapping Trip

Hello friends,

My buddy, Joey Gillis, called me last March just before graduating from UW-Stevens Point and told me he wanted to take part in several outdoor experiences with me this fall. Our main trip would be a new one for myself and that would be a muskrat and raccoon trapping, duck hunting, and camping trip to a remote location on the Wisconsin River in Columbia County.

Most of my trapping has been done in my middle and high school days so I was really excited about what would become one very challenging adventure.

Saturday, October 25th
High 44, low 27

Most of our travel on this adventure is being taken in a canoe or on foot. We are camped away from any roads and have no radio. The total length of the experience will be 8-12 days. Neither of us really knows the lay of the land where we will be trapping and this is Joey Gillis’s second year of trapping

Yesterday was a big day of travel, building camp, and scouting. I did put out a couple of coon sets and was really excited to check them. This morning I did that by flashlight and was I ever one happy trapper when one of my brand new “dog proof” coon traps had the biggest coon of my trapping career in it. This coon was pushing the 30-pound mark and had a beautifully prime pelt.

Bad news came right after the good news when Joey told me that he was feeling very poorly and that he would catch up to me after a bit. As I wrote earlier, most of our travel would be by canoe over a 2-mile stretch of swamp and creek and so what I did was set traps on one shoreline and have Joey make his sets on the other side.

There were two, large parts of this day, of which one would be for the entire trip. Today there was a very strong wind. It was tearing apart the cattails and the entire day it seemed like it was snowing. I got something in my eye and by days end my sinuses were messed up and as strange as it seems, by days end my teeth were hurting.

The bigger story was that we were in deep mud much of the time; the muck would suck you down to your waist and much further if you stayed in one spot.

Today, even though I had a bad eye, I felt like a trapper from 200-years ago and I loved every minute of it.

Sunday, October 27th
High 42, low 29

I recently added a January muzzleloader hunt in Louisiana to my menu, so my goal is to take in $500.00 worth of fur. That goal hit a reality check today when I did not do worth a darn on my muskrat sets, there just are not whole lot of them here. I caught three rats and another coon. Joey caught 4 rats and had a coon get away.

Tuesday, October 29th
High 51, low 36

I had a dog proof coon trap set about 20-yards from my tent and this morning I caught a sumo coon in it. Yesterday I added two more coon and three more rats to my fur list and today was a really positive day for me as I caught 4 coon and three rats.

So far I have 8 raccoon. My original thought was I would catch maybe five. Then I made a goal of 12. I am now moving it to 15 and have hopes that I can hit the $500.00 worth of furs by raising heck with the local raccoon population.

My entire day is spent either walking or paddling a canoe with a little duck hunting for good measure. I leave camp before it gets light out and come back after it gets dark.

I am the filthiest that I have been in years. My injuries from the three wrestling matches that I got into on September 21st are getting worse due to 14 hour days in chest waders, kneeling in a canoe and walking in muck. I should probably change clothes, especially my underwear!

My daughters pup Fire, is living the same life style and I can honestly say that I love it.

The injuries will heal, the clothes and body will be washed and hopefully the furs will keep adding up!  Sunset

P.S. Maybe I will just burn the underwear!