One of the few good things about social media is connecting with folks who are like you in order to compare notes, get tips and tricks and share in successes. One of the coolest women that I have met is Skye Goode who is a rock-star trapper.
Learning from the book "Hoofbeats of a Wolfer" by O'Gorman, Skye watched her family members as they trapped mink, raccoons and muskrats. Her uncles got into beaver and fox trapping which helped to give Skye a more complete picture of how to learn each animal’s behavior and habitat and the types of traps, lures and set ups that worked best for each. The tipping point for Skye’s own trapping career happened when she shot a buck, “I shot a buck with my bow in the evening and because of the shot, I let it sit overnight. When I recovered the buck the next morning, it had been consumed by coyotes. It was that moment that I had the notion to try trapping those specific coyotes, almost a sort of revenge plan.”
One of the most controversial animals to target are those coyotes. Coyote hunters work hard to keep the predators in check mostly so the deer in the area have a chance to survive. But no matter what you do to make sure the coyote hunt is ethical, someone will argue and call you horrible names. As someone who posts a lot of pictures of the animals she traps online, I asked Skye how she feels about coyotes, “I am crazy about canines! I trap fox and coyotes mainly, with raccoon and skunk on a regular basis. With the use of trail cameras, I became hooked on fox and coyotes.” Posting photos on social media is a slippery slope with the potential for a single picture to gain a life of its own. One photo from my bear hunt 2014 explored with an obscene amount of shares, likes and comments (good and bad.)
Each person's first successful hunt or trapping experience is something that they will always remember. For Skye, the first animal that she trapped on her own trap line was a female coyote on the first night that she placed the traps. But it didn't end the way that you would think. Skye explains, "I went to check my trap and saw that she was dead in the foothold. After studying the scene, I realized that other coyotes had killed her! So my first catch was bittersweet because she was dead when I got there, but I kept trapping and two weeks later I caught the alpha female coyote that killed my first catch. I dubbed her “Scarface”, and she was definitely the culprit, evident by the freshly healed scars on her muzzle."
|"Scarface" (c) Skye Goode|
Women are targeted more on social media because of the perception that we are not supposed to be cold, hard killers (sorry guys) but it is something that more and more women are challenging and starting to push back on. For Skye, posting her incredible photos is something she will always do, “education is my primary goal. I have posted many photos that show my sets/traps before, and then after I catch animals to show what works for me. I also post videos of the catches to show that their feet are not injured in any way. I’ve made videos on Youtube and Facebook showing myself putting my hands in traps as proof that traps hold, not hurt.”
When I asked her about the issues that she has had to deal with, I am amazed by what she describes, "I have feel immense discrimination and judgment for being a female in a male dominated sport. I have had ongoing issues with trap theft, harassment from my local conservation wardens, and backlash from the non-trapping community on social media. Much like Melissa Bachman’s lion hunt, trapping foxes and coyotes would fall under the radar if it weren’t a woman doing the deed. On a smaller scale, I am often stopped when I’m on the road or in a field trapping from people passing by who stop to see if I’m lost, or if my vehicle broke down, or if I’m waiting for my husband." It is sad to think that in a country where women are making strides in the hunting world, when it comes to trapping, the attacks and discrimination is probably at its worst.
I did not realize how intense and in-depth trapping is until I took the course and got my own license. There is so much information that each trapper needs to know about their targeted animals. Skye agreed, “trappers must study literally every step that their prey takes, and must convince an animal who spends its entire life in the woods to step perfectly on a 3 inch piece of metal. I think trappers are among the most compassionate sportsmen out there, because they are doing their job FOR the benefit of wildlife, to prevent disease and overpopulation. If you’ve ever seen a coyote or fox slowly dying of mange, you will think to thank a trapper for regulating their populations so this does not happen again.
|Skye and her dog Duke (c) Skye Goode|
On the importance of trapping, Skye nails it, "predator management will always be an important issue for landowners, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts alike, and without proper furbearer management, disease, depredation, and overpopulation occurs. With that said, I believe trapping will remain in our future as long as politics stay out of the mix. Trapping was the foundation of our country, and continued to be an important tradition throughout the generations. The only way to ensure the future of trapping is to pass it on to the younger generations, which is why every trapper should attempt to introduce at least 1 youth to the sport each season."
Finally, I asked Skye what advice she has for women like me who are brand new to trapping, she laughed, “know that you will be pretty terrible in your first season because there is so much to learn, but that after you make a considerable amount of mistakes firsthand, you will slowly start to outwit critters and complete catches of your own.” Noted! When I do set out my first trap, I will not be holding out hope for much. Probably a lot of trail camera photos of the animals looking at the trap and walking off. But, as least I will be prepared and have women like Skye to look up to and go to for tips and advice.