I have a question for all you outdoorsmen and women.

Think back with me as to how you learned to enjoy the outdoors.

I doubt it suddenly just happened, so who was it that taught you deer hunters where to put a stand, and you turkey hunters how to sound like a lonely lovesick hen?

Who showed you upland bird hunters how to harvest a cackling rooster in mid-flight and you waterfowlers how to correctly dress a limit of Canadian honkers?

How did you trappers learn where to look for coyote sign and how do you fishermen know when and where to find slab crappies?

Who helped you campers and hikers learn to appreciate a crackling campfire or a lonely wilderness trail? How do you outdoor photographers know how to quietly slip up on a grazing deer and her fawn? In short, who helped you learn these skills?

I learned trapping from Mr. Wolfe, a grizzled, soft-spoken old guy who trapped the creeks on our land before I was old enough to do so. I’ll always remember him stopping at the house and opening the trunk of the old dark Ford he drove to show me the muskrats, ‘coons and mink he’d caught. Eventually he let me go along, and I was hooked.

I think he even helped me get my first traps.

Some years later my brother started tagging along on my trap checks, and eventually dad’s pond became his to trap.

We both learned to hunt deer from a neighbor guy who took us with him and a group of other area farmers on their annual neighborhood hunts. In fact, my brother harvested his first deer before I did, and on my land!

My point to all this is that in most cases, someone else had a hand in all of us learning to enjoy and become proficient in the outdoor sports we choose to pursue.

Years back I was given the opportunity to spend some time with an experienced local trapper and was able to learn from him by setting and removing practice snares in some of the actual spots he traps each winter.

I was honored he chose to share some of his wisdom and knowledge with me.

Each year I help at the Kansas Fur Harvesters booth at the state fair, where I have the opportunity to pass along some of my enthusiasm for the sport of trapping to all who stop by.

Numerous teachers and 4-H leaders eagerly leave with educational packets put together to help them educate students about correct and ethical trapping, and telling the kids why fur harvesting is an essential tool in maintaining healthy populations of Kansas furbearers.

In this day and age, information is almost overly available, and if you can’t find a YouTube video of what you want to know, you’re probably not searching correctly.

But even with the wealth of digital and printed instructional materials, for my money the absolute best instruction about anything still comes from the hands of a real person.

A wonderful opportunity to hang out with trappers and learn from them firsthand is coming to McPherson this October, as the state trappers organization, the Kansas Fur Harvesters, bring their annual convention to the fairgrounds at 600 W. Woodside in McPherson. The event runs all day Friday, Oct. 4, all day Saturday, Oct. 5, and Sunday morning, Oct. 6.

Trapping supply vendors from all across the country, including the major companies that put out the catalogs, will be in attendance offering everything trappers need, often at special prices for the event.

Friday and Saturday will be filled with trapping demonstrations by experienced trappers, some of whom will be the guys who write the trapping books and make the trapping videos.

These guys are walking encyclopedias for all things trapping and are happy to share that wealth with everybody that asks. Kids and novice trappers are always encouraged to hang out after each demonstration for one-on-one time with the presenters.

This event will also attract lots of "tail-gaters" selling and trading for everything from soup to nuts from the bed of their pickups. Used traps and equipment will also be in abundance.

No better opportunity exists to glean firsthand knowledge from experienced outdoorsmen and women than to attend a convention of some sort. So see you at the Kansas Fur Harvesters 2019 convention Oct. 4, 5 and 6 at the McPherson Fairgrounds, 600 W. Woodside in McPherson.

Check out the daily convention schedules at their website, www.kansasfurharvetsersassociation.com.

Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.


Steve can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com