The stories that are the most fun to write and to read are those stories in which the big buck is fooled and harvested, the fish bite ferociously, coyote traps hold coyotes morning after morning and pheasants, quail, ducks and geese literally swarm the blind and limits are met before breakfast.

While successful harvests of fish and wildlife are fairly common here in Kansas, there are still times when we hunters, fishermen and trappers are “skunked.”

Case in point: A writing project other than this column has occupied lots of my time these past six months, so I probably didn’t give coyote trapping its due diligence this year, and that’s the first problem.

My son recently told me he’d rather work for someone who is 100% committed to decisions they make, even if those decisions are not perfect, than work for someone who makes slightly better decisions but does not totally believe in their decisions.

In other words, we have to be 100% committed and give our best efforts to be successful, in hunting, trapping and fishing, and in life.

I had several traps out for a week and a half where I’ve usually caught coyotes each year, and caught nothing but a couple small measly raccoons and a skunk.

The first rule of trapping is also shouted from the rooftops by real estate agents: “Location, location, location.”

To the trapper, that means if the critters aren’t there or if our traps and the attractors used to draw the animals to our traps are too far away from where the critters travel, we are just counting on dumb luck to be successful, and I don’t believe much in luck of any kind.

The solution for this problem is preseason scouting, getting out and physically looking for tracks and other signs that tell you animals are traveling there.

I did not do much of that this year and simply counted on situations remaining the same as in prior years. Bad idea.

After all, just because fish were there yesterday or last week, and deer and coyotes traveled there this year, doesn’t guarantee they will be there now.

Confidence is a funny thing, and right now I have little confidence in myself as a successful trapper.

In my head I know I’m still as skilled as I ever was, but a little lack of success was all it took to shake my confidence. Let me offer a couple of bits of wisdom that have come to me over the years, along with my gray hair.

First, get back to the basics of the sport you enjoy. If you’re unsuccessful in harvesting the game you pursue, think through your game plan and make sure you’re still performing the basics correctly.

Secondly, stick with what has worked for you in the past.

I know of no other sports than hunting, fishing and trapping where so many different techniques work well for so many different people.

So, find or figure out what works or has worked for you in the past and stick with it.

Lastly, always be open to trying new products and techniques, but never stray too far from what you know works for you. As the old timers would say, “Dance with who brung’ ya’.”

If weather conditions allow me to set traps again this season, I’ll spend more time scouting and I’ll think through my techniques to be certain I’m performing the basics right.

And always remember, successful harvests are great, but learn what failure may be teaching you and enjoy God’s creation as you explore Kansas outdoors.

 

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