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Trapping, like hunting or fishing, is a way of life for some people

A coyote appears from low fog on a hillside near grazing livestock in San Luis Obispo County in this 2001 photo.

I've always been curious about people and their pastimes, whether it's hiking, fishing, hunting, climbing or bird-watching.

I've never given trapping much thought, until picking up the premier issue of Turkey Country magazine and reading a story on Jill Easton Spencer, who last year was named Arkansas Trapper of the Year.

The woman is clearly passionate about the outdoors and does not care how she might be perceived by others. She has learned to read signs and to anticipate what routes various critters will use around her home in Calico Rock, Ark.

She uses mostly small traps and says of the appeal: "When you're trapping you're an apex predator and that's pretty exciting. You become part of the animal's world and you become part of nature."

Jill and her husband, Jim, sell their fur and she proudly wears fur. She explains that trapping, like hunting, improves the ecosystem. "For example, the raccoon population is exploding in this country, and trappers help keep the numbers in check. Raccoons devour more eggs and female ducks in a year than hunters kill in five years."

Of those who might not understand trappers or hunters, she implies they've lost touch with reality. "Kids have no clue that food comes from anywhere but a hamburger package at McDonald's or a plastic container from the grocery store. Trapping puts you in a reality you can't get anywhere else."

Turkey Country invites readers to check out Jill's recipe for baked 'coon. Thanks, but no thanks.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A coyote appears from low fog on a hillside near grazing livestock in San Luis Obispo County in this 2001 photo. Credit: Associated Press

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.