Instructor George Hagen points out a good location to set a trap.
Instructor George Hagen points out a good location to set a trap.

MANITOULIN—This year marked the fourth annual youth trappers course which teaches Manitoulin youth the skills needed to become trappers thanks to funding from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and Manitoulin Streams.

Course instructor George Hagen said he was asked to teach the course by John Seabrook from Manitoulin Streams who was passionate about starting the program and encouraging youth trapping.

As a certified trapping instructor who grew up hunting with his dad, having his own trap line since 1976, and with a background coaching hockey and working with youth, Mr. Hagen was the perfect fit for the program and was happy to take on the role.

A youth trapper carefully prepares to set a trap in a wetland. The weather was unseasonably warm and he had to remove his coat during this exercise.
A youth trapper carefully
prepares to set a trap in a wetland. The weather was unseasonably warm and he had to remove his coat during this exercise.

“Five youth were selected from across Manitoulin between the schools and Manitoulin Streams,” explained Mr. Hagen. “As part of the selection process the students have to write an essay.”

This year 15-year-old Tyler Hughson of Manitowaning, 17-year-old Tristan Golder of Little Current, 13-year-old Jadon Pearson of Tehkummah, 17-year-old Michael Quackenbush of Manitowaning and 15-year-old Mathew Lockhart of Evansille were selected for the program.

The five youth headed to Mr. Hagen’s trap line, two hours north of Manitoulin between Agnew Lake and Armstrong Lake, in mid-November for the five day long course.

The group stayed at Mr. Hagen’s camp and were accompanied by Gino Cacciotti who was the cook for the week as well as a volunteer helping with the course.

The youth trappers work with Mr. Hagen learning how to stretch a beaver pelt.
The youth trappers work with Mr. Hagen learning how to stretch a beaver pelt.

“We cover everything throughout the course from the history of trapping in Canada, humane trapping, the history of trapping education in Ontario, licencing, the quota system, what animals you can trap and when you can trap them, survival and first aid, trap line preparation, equipment regulation, information about all the furbearing species (the biology), cleaning and preparing pelts, and how and where to sell pelts.”

“The group this year was great and all seemed pretty keen,” continued Mr. Hagen. “They all had to place traps as part of the course and they were pretty excited when they were successful. It makes the whole thing really worthwhile to see a big smile on their faces when they check their traps and the sense of accomplishment they have. It’s really what inspires me to keep teaching the course.”

Mr. Hagen said that, “the course is important to keep the trapping tradition alive. With the younger generation, the number interested in hunting, fishing and trapping is dwindling and it is nice to have the opportunity to expose youth to the outdoors and trapping.”

The Expositor spoke to two of this year’s trappers who both said they enjoyed the course.

“No one in my family currently traps, but we have a history of trapping in my family,” said Tyler. “I enjoy hunting and fishing and just being outside so I applied for the course because I thought it would be fun and I wanted to be out in the bush learning something new.”

One of the youths in the course practices setting a conibear trap.
One of the youths in the course practices setting a conibear trap.

Tyler said it was even more fun than he anticipated and his favourite part was setting traps and checking them to see what he had caught.

“I want to start trapping now,” Tyler said. “My grandfather has some property on Sucker Lake Road and I think it would be a good hobby.”

Jadon said he wanted to take the course to gain knowledge and learn how to trap.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Jadon. “It was a lot of fun.”

Jadon said he knew a few of the other youth in the course, but also made some new friends.

“Learning how to skin was really cool,” added Jadon. “I was the first one to get my pelt off a beaver.”

Though Jadon doesn’t have a family history of trapping, he said the course has encouraged him to start.

OFAH Zone D provided $2,600 for the students to receive a trappers start up kit and an OFAH 1 year membership.  Manitoulin Streams covered the remaining costs, which was over $2,000.

Tyler Hughson of Manitowaning, Tristan Golder of Little Current, Jadon Pearson of Tehkummah, Michael Quackenbush of Manitowaning and Mathew Lockhart of Evansville show off the fruits from their trapping course labours.
Tyler Hughson of Manitowaning, Tristan Golder of Little Current, Jadon Pearson of Tehkummah, Michael Quackenbush of
Manitowaning and Mathew Lockhart of Evansville show off the fruits from their trapping course labours.