Land trapping — December 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

A Woman Who Traps in Today’s Modern Society..My Perspective and How it all Started

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A Woman Who Traps in Today’s Modern Society..My Perspective and How it all Started

By: Laura Gidney
laura4I always find it fascinating to see the reactions of people when they find out that I trap. I think to
some degree it amuses me. I know it was a shock to my friends and family when I started
trapping 3 years ago. At first, I actually think they didn’t believe me. I guess people think of
trappers in an old school, long time ago kind of way. I’ve even had people say to me “It’s still
legal to trap?” This question makes me laugh a little on the inside because the syllabus only
says hunting and trapping on the cover and most posted no trespassing signs list trapping on
them…but I always answer with a polite “yes” and then the conversation always ends up with
the inevitable “there’s no way YOU are a trapper!” I understand the reaction because I know I
don’t necessarily look the part. After all, I am a cosmetologist by trade and its just my nature
that my hair, make up and nails are done. So I guess when you look kind of like a girly girl, the
first thought of something I like to do according to outward appearances probably falls
somewhere under the category of shopping, not trapping! I’m sure some of you women trappers
out there know what I mean. If there is one thing I’ve learned in life though, it’s that you shouldn’t
judge a book by its cover!
My journey into the world of trapping started one day when I was with my husband, John, and
our children Maggie, Johnny and Zachary. My family has always liked the outdoors…John hunts,
we have a chicken coop in our yard, we take our kids boating, fishing, hiking and we kind of live
in the woods. I say kind of because it’s a fairly rural area, about an hour northwest of New York
City. Our property buts up against Sterling Forest State Park but there are way more woodsy
areas in New York than where we are. Anyway, we decided that we would take the kids to the
Outdoor Expo at Rockland Community College. They have pretty much everything outdoor
related there and it was something fun to do on a cold February day. As we walked up and down
the aisles, we were waved over to the New York State Trappers Association booth which is
manned by the Rockland County Trappers Association. The guys in the booth were nice and
even funny. They gave the kids a rabbits foot and an animal print tracking card. I have to admit, I
had never given trapping more than a passing thought until that moment. They explained a lot
about what trapping entails and why it’s necessary. The conversation was very enlightening.
One of the guys even snapped the trap closed on his hand to show us how the traps are meant
to hold the animal, not hurt it. They gave us some literature to read and my husband signed up
to take the certification class they were holding in April. It was the best booth we visited all day.
So my husband was hooked right away. I could totally see him fitting right in and hanging out
with the guys at the booth. He read everything he could about trapping and he was all over the
internet looking up anything and everything related to it! April came and John went to the class
with our oldest son, Johnny, where they both got certified. It wasn’t until after the class that my
own interest really peaked. John had been talking to me since we left the booth that cold
February day about everything trapping but I think it was seeing his excitement after taking the
class that sealed the deal. Now I wanted to know more. I began doing my own reading and I
was all over the internet looking up everything I could! Together we began buying traps, baits,
lure and everything you could possibly need on the trapline. We joined the Rockland County
Trappers Association, they meet fairly close to where we live and we wanted to talk to the guys
we originally met, meet other trappers and learn from them. Actually, we did more than join one
organization, for the few bucks it costs, we figured we’d support a bunch of them! Go big or go
home, right? We wanted to support other organizations and those people who fight for the right
to trap in the first place. So we joined another local county club, then we joined NYSTA and the
NTA, Fur Takers and Fur Harvesters. At the time, I was the only girl besides my daughter who
was attending the meetings at the Rockland Trappers but we had fun just being one, well two, of
the guys. Then in August, they announced that they were giving another certification class and
there was no question about it, I was taking that class! My daughter, Maggie, and my younger
son, Zac, took the class, too. At the end of that hot, sunny August day, my whole family was
certified to trap and we were more than looking forward to our first season! Trapping as a family
made total sense for us, we’ve always been a family that does everything together. I mean that
in a way that most people don’t understand. Whether there is a pile of wood to be split or a meal
that needs to be cooked or a chicken coop that needs to be shoveled or dozens of traps that
need to be rusted, tuned, dyed and waxed when you get one Gidney, you get five…just ask
anyone who knows us!
laura3Our first season, we focused on land trapping and boy, oh boy, was it a blast!! That first
coon…the first fox…the first time that coyote howls at you…there is nothing more exciting than
walking up to your trap to find a critter bouncing around in it! I will admit that my first skunk was
more than a little scary! Nobody wants to get sprayed by a skunk…especially me!! Our second
year we added beaver trapping into the mix. Now, I love all aspects of trapping, but man that
first beaver was tough to put up! All 60 pounds of it hurt my arms for a week! You know what
always fascinates me about trapping? It’s that out of the whole forest, or farm or pond or river, or
wherever it is that you are setting, you can get those critters to step exactly where you want
them to. Simply awesome!
I think the hardest part for me is that I have an allergy called “cold urticaria.” In layman’s terms,
I’m allergic to anything that is cold. I can’t touch it and it can’t touch me. So I set traps in the
early and late seasons and in the dead of winter, my family picks up the slack. I do however pay
my dues in the fur shed. I put up ALL the fur that comes home. I have yet to let my hubby touch
one piece! Yes, he’s spoiled! I really think that’s because the fur handling process just appeals
to my meticulous nature…I just love to do it and he lets me. I guess it’s the perfect working
relationship right? So now, you’ve caught that critter, we all know proper fur handling starts in
the field. I make sure my fur is as clean as possible and then I coat it with flea and tick spray
before it goes in the container in my truck. I want those fleas and ticks dead by the time I get
home. Then, when I get there, the fur shed fun begins! From brushing out the fur again, to
skinning and fleshing, to pinning out the pelt, I really love and enjoy the process and teaching
others, including my children, how to do it. I know that has definitely shocked the heck out of
everyone I know. Like I said earlier, I don’t necessarily look the part and that’s ok. I’ve come to
realize that I’m glad I don’t fit into the box someone might put me in. I prefer to be different than
everyone else, in fact, I never was one of those people who just followed the crowd. I like the
beat of my own drum. If you really think about it, most people today wouldn’t know what to do if
they couldn’t buy whatever they needed at the local store. As a responsible Mom in today’s day
and age, I think it’s important to put down the electronic device and learn something hands-on
no matter how old you are. Seriously, what would most people do if they couldn’t buy their meat
in a pretty little package or their clothes off a rack? Sure the average person knows what leather
is but would they know how to process that leather from start to finish?
These days, I’m pretty darn busy. I got certified to hunt with bow and gun this past year and
Maggie and Johnny did too. I’d say for sure though, we are all hooked on trapping and have
begun getting involved wherever we can. I’m the Treasurer of Rockland County Trappers now
and John is the Vice President. I just attended the Pat Arnold Youth Camp at Pack Forest in
New York as a Mentor. What an awesome experience that was!! I’ve attended the last 2 Board
of Directors meetings for NYSTA in Herkimer, New York and I am happy as anything that
trapping season is finally here! I’ve also been volunteering at each certification class my club
offers during the year and I’ve sent in my application with the state so that I will be able teach
those classes in the future. I also will be taking the class to get my nuisance license with my
husband. Coming up in early March of 2015 is the Outdoor Expo I spoke of earlier. I will again
man, well woman, that same booth I first met the trappers in. It’s my turn to give back and wave
someone over to the booth so I can talk to them about trapping. I will also snap my hand, long
nails and all, into a trap to show how it just holds the animal, it doesn’t hurt it. I still to this day
get the same “NO WAY” reaction from the people who don’t know me. The nice thing is that now
I have plenty of pictures to prove that “Yes I do!” I do trap, I do dispatch, I do put up the fur, I do
teach others what I’ve learned so far and I love every minute of it! I by no means know all there
is to know about trapping. I probably haven’t even cracked the tip of that iceberg yet but I’m sure
having fun finding my way! I sincerely thank everyone who has ever talked to me and my family
about trapping and am grateful for the things you have passed on to us. Without the knowledge
and expertise of you, the trappers of the past, I don’t know where trapping would be today. I do
have to say that some of the best memories I have over the past 3 years are with my family out
in the field trapping or in the fur shed. The people who do know me have come to think trapping
and what I/we do is pretty darn cool. I mean they even text me to hear about the days catch!
Our friends and neighbors know that when the light and music are on in the fur shed, it’s ok to
stop over and hang out, grab a drink and watch me do my thing! The more the merrier I say!
Even my tree hugging, animal loving, non-fur wearing, vegetarian friends who would never, ever
venture into the fur shed, even they have new found respect, understanding and acceptance for
trappers and trapping and I think that’s just great!!

laura5

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6 Comments

  1. Great article nice to see the whole family together doing something that you do not see much anymore these days. I like how the author researched about trapping and came away with the truth that trapping is needed and necessary. And she did a great job learning to trap. Good Luck we need more people like her in our trapper ranks.From fellow trapper from Orange County trappers

    • Hi Anthony! Thank you for your positive comments. I hope your season is going well! If you’re ever in the Rockland neighborhood you should come down for a meeting! I am doing a skinning demo on January 6th!

  2. Soul sistah….What I great article! Had so much fun reading it. Keep up the great work ! Your whole family is just awesome. Can’t wait to read another article from you.

  3. This is my cousin Laura! I was one of those people who were like “WHAT?”. We spent some time with John, Laura and the kids back in October. They now have my husband very interested in trapping. We live in Florida and have to research the laws here before we start. I must say that I am proud of ALL the Gidney’s! Especially my cousin Laura. It’s hard work raising 3 kids, keeping your hair, nailsm,and makeup done all while skinning animals. Great article Laura. Love you bunches!!!

  4. I just wanted to say thank you for the compliments and the positive feedback!

  5. Hello, I from Ukraine. answer to me please : if you (or another) will catch much of beaver; what are you doing with a beaver lure in a dry state. interests more precisely or it is used for treatment (spirit tincture). thanks you for the answer.

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