Teens Set Traps For Fun, Money money from furs

Dagan Morris, left, sets out the bait, a dead Canada goose, while Logan Fuller, center, and Luke Williams prepare to put out the trap recently. (Brent Frazee/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Dagan Morris, left, sets out the bait, a dead Canada goose, while Logan Fuller, center, and Luke Williams prepare to put out the trap recently. (Brent Frazee/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Emporia, Kan. — Like many teenagers, Logan Fuller has a part-time job to earn spending money.

But his job is . . . well, a bit different than most high school students pursue.

Logan, who attends Emporia High School, is a trapper. Much the same as generations of Kansans before him, he puts out traps for raccoons, bobcats, coyotes and other furbearers, then runs his sets early before school starts.

When he finds success, he sells his bounty to fur dealers and earns money while participating in one of his favorite outdoors activities.

“I’ll be out almost every day of the season,” said Logan, 16. “It’s something that’s a big part of my life.

“Some people are surprised that someone as young as me would be into trapping. But I and my friends have spent a lot of time studying trapping and we know a lot about it.”

Actually, Logan trapped his first raccoon when he was 6-years-old and tagging along with adult mentors. But he and two friends — Luke Williams, 18, and Dagan Morris, 16 — didn’t get serious about it until they attended a trapping convention, listened to seminars and talked to trappers. Excited about the outdoors activity, they attended required classes by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and were ready to go.

There were many days without success. But eventually, they found methods that worked — first with raccoons.

“I remember the first time I brought in a raccoon,” Logan said. “I got $20 for that first one and I thought I was rich.

“The next year, furs were in less demand and we would only get $10. . . . Now it’s on the way back up.”

Logan and Luke became so enthused about chasing raccoons that they both bought coonhounds to hunt the furbearers. When they aren’t trapping, they are following the bawling of their hounds hot on the trail of raccoons on frosty fall and winter nights.

But it’s trapping that intrigues them most. Avid members of the Lyon County 4-H program, they have incorporated furbearer hunting and trapping into their area of interest. But they readily admit that they have a lot to learn about the pastime.

Trappers can take an unlimited number of most furbearing species each day. But that’s never much of a factor for Logan, Luke and Dagan. A good day of trapping will net them six to 10 furbearers.

“We’re learning where to set the traps, what types of bait and lures to use,” Logan said. “We don’t use anywhere near the number of traps that the full-time guys do.

“There are trappers who will run miles of traps. We don’t do that.

“But we put out enough to make it fun.”

Logan has even advanced to the point where he has developed his own carp-based bait for raccoons. He doesn’t have the solution on the market, but he’s still guarded about its exact ingredients.

Luke also is learning quickly. He has a job at Trapper John’s, a fur buyer in the Emporia area, and he is soaking in tips from his customers.

The three young trappers target raccoons and bobcats. They often set traps along dry creek bottoms, water sources and den trees for raccoons. For bobcats, they often tie a bird wing to a low-hanging limb of a tree and set the trap under it, covering it with leaves so that it isn’t visible.

“Bobcats are curious,” Luke said. “When they see that wing, they come over to see what it is.

“Like they say, curiosity kills the cat.”

The three use primarily dog-proof traps, devices that are designed to prevent dogs from getting caught. They say they have never had problems with accidentally trapping a domesticated animal.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about trapping,” Logan said. “People talk about all the pets that are caught in traps. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I don’t think it is as common as some people will lead you to believe.”

Per Kansas law, they check their traps at least once a day. The best time to go? When the temperatures begin to dip and the fur reaches its prime.

Though the season opens Nov. 14, trappers often wait until cold weather arrives before they will venture out.

“It has to get colder, so the fur will develop,” Dagan said. “Many of the pelts go to Europe, where they are made into coats, hats and gloves.”

Whenever they venture out, they know their chances are good of returning with pelts. The population of raccoons, bobcats and coyotes is booming in Kansas.

They have until Feb. 15 to set their traps. That’s when the Kansas trapping season for most furbearers closes.

“It’s fun, knowing the history behind trapping,” Logan said. “It was almost a way of life for the settlers.

“Now we’re doing a lot of the same things.”