Sunday was one of those picture-perfect days here in the Ozarks, for February anyway.
It was sunny and warm, between 55-60 degrees by afternoon.
Dale and I took the dogs out on the deck and we all soaked up the sun for awhile and then he decided to head down the hill to bank fish.
He came home later with a report, “No luck fishing, but there was a reason I was supposed to be down there.”
We had been hearing boats all weekend, not unusual on a nice weekend and certainly not unusual this time of the year as the spring fishing tournaments on the big lakes begin.
Dale said when he got down to our cove, Sade Sue, our pittie who warned me of the strange truck in our driveway a few weeks back, started acting sheepish and walking slowly by Dale’s side, a sure sign something’s amiss.
Then he saw an empty boat on the bank. He was curious, it isn’t unusual for hunters to come on the shore during rifle season, but that season is over.
After fishing for a bit, he walked over to the boat and looked in. Nothing but a rifle.
“The guy came around the corner and was very surprised to see me,” Dale recalled.
Dale said the man asked, “You live around here?”
“About a hundred yards up the hill,” Dale replied.
“You have dogs?” Sade was now hiding behind a tree.
When Dale replied we did, the man said, “Oh, I’m laying traps, I will go and pick them up then.”
Dale told him we appreciated him taking his traps away from our house. After all, trapping is legal on Corps property and unlike using a rifle when hunting, there are no laws that say people cannot lay traps within a certain distance from houses.
“I didn’t see any houses up on these hills,” the man told Dale.
Well, of course he can’t when we left the trees to give us privacy from people on the lake, as did my aunt. As well U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations prevent anyone from building right along the shores.
Dale told him there are homes all along both sides of this road.
I don’t care for hunting. I understand the purpose for it, we just do not engage in it, and I can certainly understand hunting for food.
I absolutely cannot understand hunting for fur, especially in the way in which these animals suffer, sometimes chewing their own foot off to get loose. No matter if the traps are checked daily, these animals lie in excruciating pain before they either die or are killed when the trapper returns.
“Been catching coyote mostly,” the man told Dale. “But they haven’t been any good, mostly mangy.”
And that’s the problem. These trappers have no idea what they will catch when they “hunt” in this manner, not only undesirable wild animals suffer and die, but family pets as well.
We’ve been coming to this area for over 15 years, but it wasn’t until my aunt moved here and two of her dogs were needlessly caught in traps along the shore that we realized trapping was legal in the winter here.
Both of her dogs survived, although one was missing for two days before my aunt tracked her whines to the trap. The other one somehow tore the trap lose from whatever it was hooked to and came home limping, dragging the trap with him.
The revelation surprised me so that I wrote a piece for a dog magazine detailing all of the public lands on which hunting is permitted in many states. During research for that story, I read of many sad tales when pets were caught in traps and maimed or killed.
We haven’t had problems with traps since we’ve lived here, we figured like with rifle hunters, word had gotten around that this area is now more populated.
We now wonder if Abbi’s horrible paw injury that required two surgeries and 2 months of healing had something to do with traps. Chloe also came home with a large piece of skin ripped from one of her paws on Friday.
We have figured out that if we let them out separately, they’re much less likely to leave the yard, so that’s what we’ve been doing.
Just another worry in paradise.
Did you know trapping is permitted on many public local, state and federal parks and waterways in the winter?