LEAVE THOSE PRESEASON FEELINGS BEHIND
by Chris A. Berson (Trapper Dan)
Anxious, Excited, Nervous, Delusions of Grandeur. Before fur season opens we have a host of feelings and expectations. ”This is gonna be the best year yet,” we hear many say. Once the season opens, all of the preseason thoughts go out the window and are replaced by new ones. These new feelings are rooted in reality, guided by the conditions on the ground. It is how you respond to these new feelings that will shape your opening weeks of fur season.
During the preseason we mentally plan out how our season is going to go. We plan the “where’s,” the “what’s,” and the “how many’s,” often based on past seasons. We become excited and hopeful. Once the season opens and we try to put these well orchestrated plans in to place, reality sets in. Water levels on predetermined creeks have risen, species that have been ever present are gone or in smaller numbers, baits that have always worked, don’t. Many will get discouraged and let their frustrations to the changing conditions affect their choices in the face of the unrealized expectations. A good trapper will set those feelings aside, move on and adapt.
The key to adapting is to first to leave the emotions behind and then focus on the task at hand. This year, on opening day in Oklahoma, I arrived at my favorite fur trapping location and received a shock. The creek had risen to levels not seen in a long time, cutting me off from one of my profitable areas. The water table had risen so high that any hole deeper than an inch or two filled with water. There was mud everywhere. Not a patch of dry earth could be seen. To make matters worse, as if they could get worse, the usually abundant animal sign, was lacking. If I had let my feelings rule my actions, I would have packed up and went home, missing out on what turned out to a be a great week of fur trapping.
Instead of leaving, I adapted to the conditions in front of me by letting the negative thoughts dissipate and getting down to work with a level head. It took longer to make each set in the muddy ground, I had to scout new areas, and get creative. At the end of the day when all the traps were set and baited, I knew every catch would mean more. It was not the easy and abundant trap line that I was used to. Rather, it was a trap line where every catch was earned and appreciated. I was thankful for every catch.
This is how many opening days and weeks of fur season go for many trappers. We start off with high hopes and expectations and are soon grounded in reality. Those who can get past their preseason feelings and expectations will end up having a great season regardless of the quantity of fur they pull in. One bad day or week doesn’t have to lead to the next. Adapt to what is in front of you and leave those preseason feelings where they belong, in the preseason.