Fox in Socks

FoxRule #2 on the Cunha farm: Go be wildlife somewhere else because otherwise, I will hunt you down and kill you. I found your little den in the bushes, Mr. Fox. The trap is now set, and if need be, I will stakeout your dirt condo every night until you make the mistake of showing your furry little ass around my homestead again.

I’ve watched you trot back and forth along the fence line, through the bushes, and across the road for the better part of two years. You have been ignored the entire time because you have not taken from me. You were given benefit of the doubt when the first bird disappeared. However, I have strong evidence you have killed and eaten one (possibly, two) of my turkeys, and two of my ducks. That goofy little crested duck was the last straw. He was my favorite. I kept him around for no better reason than he entertained me.

Here are your options, Mr. Fox. One, leave immediately on your own accord and never return. Two, sign your own death warrant by entering my sight. Those are the only choices.

I am tactically patient, tenacious, and possessor of the hardest heart you have ever encountered. I will fashion you into a hat as a warning to others of your ilk that I will not tolerate killing of my livestock and theft of food from my family’s mouth.

This is your only warning and my singular promise under God, Grandpa Miguel, and all the Pygmies in Africa.


Your Angel of Death Carlos


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My Neighbor Wants Me in Prison Because I Hate Coons

I am sick to death of L’homme Theroux and ready for a break.  And yet, I’m not.  It came out Sunday to as much fanfare as I could muster, and so far, has been a bigger disappointment than a virgin on her wedding night.  Was Victor Frankenstein this disappointed by his monster?  Sure, it was a monster from the beginning, but it did a wicked Vaudeville routine.images (6)

One of my many faults is that I’m impatient.  But more to the point, I’m demanding; especially of myself.  I realize this whole novel thing takes time and the proverbial runaway bestsellers are notable precisely because they are so infrequent.  As it sits right now, I am not pleased with Thomas Theroux, but he’s going to have another adventure whether he likes it or not.  I’m taking a few days away from him, so he has the chance to make me proud.  In the meantime, I’m going to tell a story…

I consider myself a bit of hippie.  I love the outdoors.  Out in the fields and woods is where I like to spend my time.  Being cooped up inside makes me surly.  My ultimate goal is to have a refrigerator, freezer, and panty full of foodstuffs I created myself.  If you want to see Carlos at his best, toss me an ax and say that we need firewood.  You’ll be up to your ass in cordwood by sundown.  In a similar vein, hand me a rifle and mention the freezer is near empty.  It will be full of protein quickly.  And that horrifies a lot of people.

Depending on your personal feelings, I am either a barbaric, illiterate redneck or an enlightened steward of the environment because my most recently discovered way to spend time outdoors is trapping.  Yes, the evil steel trap in one of its many forms and sizes is my best friend when I square off with my nemesis, Procyon lotor.  The North American Raccoon, or as we call them in the South “coon.”

I hate coons.

If you’ve ever had them get into your trash cans, you probably hate them, too.  I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t make the world’s biggest mess in the process, but they throw trash all over the place and then poop in your flower bed to add insult to injury.  Coons are also wasteful.  They will kill a chicken seemingly for fun and not eat it.  The body is just left on the ground with its head missing.

Look at Me.  I'm so Cute.
Look at Me. I’m so Cute.

I’m undecided  whether they are geniuses in fur coats or voracious thieves driven to stupidity.  I wonder because sometimes I outsmart them, and sometimes they outsmart me.  The expression goes that we only catch the dumb ones, but if that were the case, shouldn’t coons be attending college by now?

These sneaky little nocturnal ominous are nature’s con artists.  They have that mask everyone seems to love and have behavior we humans anthropomorphize.  That is how coons trick us.  They pretend to be friendly and docile in exchange for handouts.  They are the animal equivalent of welfare recipients.  Try feeding a family of coons for a few weeks and see how angry they get when you stop the freebies.

Damn Coons
Damn Coons

They’ll run riot across your property like Obama supporters.

Don’t let the cute act fool you.  A snarling, snapping coon charging toward you will get your heart racing.  An angry opossum is more menacing, but they waddle along slow enough that they can be pretty easily outrun.  On a side note, my wife recently chaperoned a field trip to a zoo that had opossums and fell in love with the feel of their fur, so I guess I will have to get over my disdain for the nasty little creatures and skin out a few for her.  The things I will do for my woman.

I'll Hurt You.
I’ll Hurt You.

So one day, I spot my neighbor loading a live-trap into his truck.  Pacing back and forth inside the trap was the biggest boar coon I’ve ever seen.  From three houses down, this thing looked enormous, so I knew it was a big one.  As I drew closer, I began to understand how this monster was kept penned up.  My neighbor had reinforced the trap to keep Mr. Coon from pushing his way out.  Note to self: Good idea because I lose more coons than I keep in a live-trap.

I complimented him on the catch and started in with the small talk hoping to ease my way into a free coon.  I figured if this guy was in it for the pelt, Mr. Coon would be pretty close to room temperature by now.  Just as I was about to ask the Sixty-Four Dollar Question, my neighbor dropped a bomb.

“There’s some sick bastard mutilating cats in the neighborhood.  We found one on the back porch with a bear trap on its leg.  I’ve still got the trap as evidence, and we’ve called the police.  That guy belongs in prison.”

At that point, I knew I was dealing with a moron.  If you trap, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I was also pretty sure that I wasn’t getting my trap back.  My 1 1/2 double long spring had gone missing a few weeks prior.  It had upset me because it was my favorite, and I don’t have many traps, since I only nuisance trap on my own property.  I purposely bait and set my traps to avoid by-catch, so assuming the story is accurate, that cat just had bad luck.

My Favorite Coon.
My Favorite Coon.

My activity was perfectly within the law of that jurisdiction, but since dealing with the authorities is a pain in the ass I would rather avoid (even when I’ve completely in the clear), I didn’t push the issue over a trap that was free in the first place.  Not surprising, my neighbor, Perry Mason that he was, knew with absolute certainly the illegality of my trapping, but failed to understand his plan to relocate his nuisance coon to a public park was illegal as well.  I love people who know exactly what everyone else is doing wrong, but let their stuff slide.  If you want to be Johnny Law, you should keep your nose clean, too.  It’s that whole throwing glass houses thing.

1 1/2 Double Long Spring
1 1/2 Double Long Spring

The point of my neighbor being an ignorant idiot was driven home a second time when he repeated himself a minute later and the cat was now missing a leg from said bear trap that was drug to his porch.  He wasn’t clear on the mechanics of exactly how a device has the ability to both completely amputate a limb and remain attached to be drug somewhere.  Many people (me included) have caught their fingers in traps, both accidentally and on purpose to prove a point.  It won’t even break the skin, much less amputate an appendage.  I began to think I was dealing with someone mentally unbalanced.  Looking back, I think he was.

So, the short version of this story is that I lost my favorite foot-hold trap, lost out on a great pelt, and was indirectly told I should be incarcerated.  The world is full of snitches and bullies.

The #SteelTrapChallenge

After the Ice Bucket Challenge, what can top it?  How about the Steel Trap Challenge?  Bear with me.

The past month, I have bitched up a storm about the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I have gone from thinking it just plain stupid to it being a new form of social bullying.  There was even the half-assed attempt on my part to start a competing fad, the Moose Knuckle Challenge, which failed to gain traction.  Probably because for all the love of seeing chicks in wet shirts, the market for Fruit of the Loom-based challenges is pretty small.  Or maybe, I’m just the wrong guy to start that one.

coureur de bois
Coureur de Bois

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you know I am writing a novel, L’homme Theroux, set in the Canadian frontier during the mid-1860’s and the decline of the North American fur trade.  To get really technical, that probably makes it a Northern or a North Western.  I’m still trying to think of a catchy term that hasn’t been used.  Hunting and trapping back then were more than ways of life.  They were matters of survival for everyone; Indian and European.

I’m halfway through the first round of edits and looking for a couple more Beta readers.  Let me know if Westerns are your thing and would like to be involved in the creation of a novel by giving feedback.  I’ll make sure you get a free copy of the final product.  Hell, I’ll give you several, if you want them.  I try to be generous with people who do good deeds for me.

Those who have read my interviews (and really, you should) know I’m an avid outdoorsman.  That’s why writing is sometimes a chore.  The outdoors call to me.  The garage does, too.  I do lots of Do-it-Yourself projects and home repair stuff.  My wife thinks it’s sexy when I’m wearing my tool belt.  I’m also that nutty guy who prefers to cut firewood to heat the house rather than turn on the furnace.  I hunt, fish, and trap just as much as I can.

Once I have a job making a living at home for more than a few months at a time, I’d like to try my hand at homesteading, as well.  I’m thinking laying hens, meat goats (maybe use their milk occasionally), and rabbits.  I’m pretty sure I can’t milk the rabbits, even though they have nipples.  My fingers are just too big.

There is no higher calling as a man and nothing more pleasing in the sight of God than bringing home an animal I caught and killed myself that will provide sustenance for my family.

The look on my wife’s face when I drag something dead out of the truck is one of pure pride.  She knows she has a man who can always make sure the family has something to eat, is willing to kill and butcher for her sake, and will brave the discomforts and dangers of a hunt to do.

If you don’t believe hunting can be dangerous, come hog hunt with me sometime, and we will chase one down on foot with nothing more than a few dogs and a knife.  Then we can discuss how I have an unfair advantage.

Now, that you understand a little more about me, you will understand why I am upset.  Through an acquaintance of mine on Facebook, I became aware of the Anti-Fur Society page.  Take a wild guess as to why they believe I am a barbarian.

I have no words for the depth of these people's ignorance
I have no words for the depth of this ignorance

They began a campaign (please excuse, if wrong word.  My English, she not so good sometime) this week, complete with a photo, where they would like to film a trapper caught in a trap for 72 hours.  The visual allusions to the movie Avatar with a young ginger girl in a blue pseudo-camouflage bodysuit and blue face paint which portrays her as one of the beautiful, innocent creatures of the forest randomly cut down in the prime of non-aggressive, free-range life were competently executed.  I got the message, and I’m not that smart.  However, I also picked up a hint of ignorance in the event lasting three entire days.  I’ve trapped in four different states, and they all require checking traps at least every 24 hours.  And I would venture to say, the same applies in all the other states, as well.

In the interest of giving these folks a fair shake to make their case, I visited their Facebook page.  Visit it yourself, if you’re so inclined.  The images they post are fairly pedestrian compared to other anti-fur pages I’ve visited.  However, I will warn you the level of venom spewed by these ostensibly peace-loving people who will not harm animals is shocking.

I try to be strategic and artful with my used of expletives (A Picasso of Profanity, if you will), but the folks who “like” and comment on this page are foulmouthed in the same way as a middle-schooler.  They seem to have recently discovered dirty words and use them whenever possible.

I also question their moral compass in advocating exactly the same and worse violence they claim is inflicted on animals be perpetrated on other human beings with whom they disagree.

What astounded me was the absolute lack of knowledge on display.  Just complete and utter ignorance of the subject on which they spoke.  I sincerely doubt any of them have seen (aka; not a video) any of the cruelties they describe.  And if they have, why didn’t they call the police?  The acts they describe are literally criminal.  As in, you will go to jail for doing them.  I think their cause is more than penal in nature.  It is emotional.

We do not have feelings as humans understand them!
We do not have feelings as humans understand them!

I blame Walt Disney and his Bambi movie.  That asshole did more to turn several generations into complete wimps than had they been given estrogen suppositories their entire lives.  I mean big ‘ol bovine-sized butt bullets shoved in elbow deep by some grizzled old cowboy chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes and never once touching the coffin nail with his hands because he knows very well where they have been.

Am I really the only kid who cheered for the hunter when he shot Bambi’s mom?

The anti-trapping folk’s big complaint is the use of The Evil Steel Trap.  As shown several times in The Fox and the Hound (Thanks again, Disney.  You ninnies), The Evil Steel Trap will jump up off the ground at the merest of breezes and snap a leg off the targeted creature.  Please think for a moment as to how counter-productive it would be to amputate the leg of a creature you want to actually have held in place.  It would get away.

Back to their sheer ignorance.  Foothold traps (That’s the real name for The Evil Steel Trap) no longer have teeth in the jaws.  That is illegal.  As a matter of fact, many jurisdictions require padded jaws, offset jaws (which lessen pressure, and thereby holding force, on the caught leg and result in more escapes with injury), or some combination of both.

“Oh, Carlos, but the poor little animal suffers so much in a trap,” I can hear the hippies whine.  Allow me to let you in on a secret.  There really is no such thing as a good death.  I’ve seen plenty; both four and two-legged.  That is especially true in the animal world.

Mother Nature is mean, cruel bitch, and when animals kill other animals, the deaths are horrific.

Animals are vicious killers of each other, and just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur.  I have yet to come across a hunter or trapper who doesn’t go to extremes to limit the suffering of the animals he kills, if for no better reason than he understands the preciousness of life.

This brings me full-circle to the title of this post.  Hopefully, you didn’t forget because I did.  In answer to the claim of extreme pain inflicted on animals by foothold traps, several trappers on Facebook have posted demonstrations where they insert their own hand into one of the traps they use on their quarry.

Here are the links:

Jason Maxwell     Barry Bell     Tiffanie Stott-Johnson’s Husband     Trapper Dan

And for the ladies, lest you think it’s only big, burly men that can withstand the power of a steel trap

Sassy Girl’s Nuisance Trapping & Predator Control     FLCoonTrapper

To the surprise of no one who has actually traps, they survive completely unscathed.  If you do not believe, please view for yourself.  Perhaps you will learn something.  Come to think of it, view them anyway.  I’m sure they would appreciate the traffic.

So, here was the thought I had.  I would love to see (However, I do not encourage) the Steel Trap Challenge.  Just like the whole Ice Bucket Challenge, but with foothold traps.  I don’t see a #SteelTrapChallenge on Twitter, yet.  Maybe we can start a whole “thing,” and smarten up these anti-trapping and hunting lunatics?

Oh, who am I kidding?  They are immune from facts, but we can have a hell of a good time trying.

Disclaimer:  I am not advocating anyone do this themselves.  However, I probably will once I go home on leave and have access to my traps.