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Hobby Trapper Enjoys Matching Wits With His Prey

Hobby trapper Jack Grass shows his furs collected during the trapping season. He has collected numerous coons, a bobcat, six gray foxes and a possum. – Photo by David Howell

By David Howell

PINE VALLEY – Saturday marks the last day of trapping season in Mississippi, and one Yalobusha couple will spend it with many other trappers in the state – at the Mississippi Trappers Associations annual fur sale in Kosciusko.

    This day will culiminate four months of a grueling routine during trapping season, and Yalobusha trapper Jack Grass and his wife, Charlotte, will sell his bounty to commercial buyers. His furs could wind up in Russia, China or European countries.

    Grass describes himself as a hobby trapper, and is quick to tell you it is not about the money, especially as furs are expected to bring less money than usual because of the current economic state of the country. That said, he takes pride in his skins, carefully preparing them during the season for his annual trip to the sale.

    Maintaining his trap-line consists of a daily routine of checking around half-a-dozen sets, or traps, on the 300-plus acres he owns near the Pine Valley community. His acreage offers a unique opportunity for a trapper, as Turkey Foot Creeks winds through the place.

    Although he has enjoyed the outdoors and trapping since he was a kid, his retirement from the U.S. Postal Service three years ago allowed him the opportunity to pursue his hobby every day since November, which was when the season opened.

    “I trap foxes in the hills and coons in the creek bottom,” Grass explains about this technique. His enjoyment comes from matching wits with his prey, whether it is a coon or fox, which are his most common targets, while a bobcat, possum, mink and even a skunk are also trapped on occasion. Some of the animals may become trap-wise, especially if they trigger the set without it catching them, Grass explains.

    Each animal is attracted in a different manner, Grass explains. A coon is lured by curiousity, and a shiny object may be placed near the buried steel trap. Scents are used to attract a fox, while a dangling feather may be placed over the trap to entice a bobcat, who primarily hunts by eyesight.

    “I always handle the traps with cotton gloves and wear rubber boots,” Grass explains, when he’s after a fox, which is especially savy to human scent.

    “You learn something everytime you go,” Grass said. “I do it because I enjoy it,” Grass adds, adding there are three things a trapper will learn about the sport.

    “It puts you to bed early, gets you up early and keeps you busy all day – if you catch anything,” Grass explains.

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