Category: Trapping

Friday Flashback – November 2010

Once upon a time, we were trappers.

For nearly a century, members of the Jackson family roamed the creeks, fields and timbers of West Central Illinois in pursuit of furbearers. Dating back to my grandpa George to my uncle, Richard, to my dad, Terry, to my brothers and sister and our offspring, the tradition spanned from the 1920s to just a few years ago. Boy, did we have some times and there are plenty of stories that never grow old no matter how many times they are revisited.

Today’s flashback is one of those stories as November of 2010 featured the introduction of a new trapper to the family tradition. My boy, Jayce, tagged along on this outing to Henderson County, following in the footsteps of his Papa and Dad. Footsteps that had been planted in areas like The Big Timber and Pat’s Creek for close to fifty years. A pretty cool adventure for a kid who was not even a year and a half old at the time.

We saw tractors, hedgeballs, corn cobs and deer. We had a fast food breakfast, drove the truck, rode on the tailgate, told stories and threw stuff. You know, all the normal things us trappers observed and did out there on the trapline. Oh yeah, we also caught a few coons but that was just icing on the cake.

Nowadays, trapping has gone by the wayside but the memories last a lifetime. For many years, I have pondered a formidable trapping retrospective here on the blog. At present though, the project consists of a lengthy list of ideas, a healthy batch of photos and a collection of rough drafts. Perhaps trapping season next year would be a worthy time to kick off such a series. That gives me slightly less than a year to put it all together which is still a tall order when thinking back over all those tales and adventures.

And speaking of thinking back on adventures, this will wrap up the weekly Friday Flashbacks for 2020. As always, I get a kick out of the strolls down Memory Lane with a fair collection of fish, family and friends. I hope that some were able to make the weekly stop and find a brief escape along the way. Of course, plenty more other stuff to come here on the blog before we say so long to this year. And Friday Flashback will resume after the first of the New Year as I have already begun constructing my outline of weekly posts. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 1973 Dynamic Duo

Terry and Richard Jackson (left to right) with a day’s catch from 1973

The Trapping Tuesday series comes to a close with a classic shot of Dad and Uncle Dick from 45 years ago (and several bonus pics below).

So many adventures with this pair on the trapline over the years. I am fortunate to have these trapping mentors and outdoor guides who were willing to take the time to take me outdoors and teach me a thing or two.

And I am certainly not alone as there are numerous other folks out there who have their own tales from the trapline. Over the years, Dad and Uncle Dick would take along anybody who expressed an interest or sought a dose of outdoor education. Kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends, spouses, cousins and in-laws have all benefited from the time and knowledge shared by these fellas.



There are many outdoor lessons that this pair imparted to this guy, too much to relate in a lone blog entry. But the fact that I find myself punching away on a computer and scanning photos to share with anyone willing to have a look speaks volumes to their impact and can be summed up with one word.


In fact, I spent a few hours just a couple weeks ago sitting around a diner reliving past adventures with these guys and several other family members. Stories that were just as good for the umpteenth time as we reminisced, laughed, smiled and repeatedly shook or scratched our heads at tales of bravado, embarrassment, classic catches and more than a few forays into “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Don’t get any better than that. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday-1983 Coons,Rats,Mink & Rams?

It’s always fun to look back on pictures such as these with my kids and ask them if they can recognize the folks in the shot. I just did this exercise in family tree identification with one of my boys, Jayce. It took him a couple guesses to get it right on his Uncle Brent in this one but nabbed Papa right away, adding, “He looks so young.” Indeed, as 35 years ago puts Dad under 40 in this photo. Funny, that would have seemed old to me back in 1983 as a junior in high school but here we are in 2018 and my 40’s have since passed me by.

And that eighth grade kid in this pic doesn’t have but a couple more years left in his 40’s these days. Cool though to look back at the days when he was Dad’s top pupil on the trapline. Always a much more knowledgeable and reliable helper than his older brother who I suppose was distracted by basketball, buddies and a girl or two.

One final item of note from this pic that I dig is the classic NFL logo letter jacket that was popular among young football fans in the 70s and 80s. Brent is sporting the old Los Angeles Rams version from the days of Vince Ferragamo. Had me a couple of the Dallas Cowboys models as I was a Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, “Too Tall” Jones sort of kid. And don’t forget the matching stocking cap to go along, straight out of the Sears catalog that made wishes come true.

Man, it was cool to be a kid.  Funny, as mine want to be grownups.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2013 Cousins

So, Dad has eight grandkids, all of whom have had the experience of tagging along on the trapline over the years. And fortunately, for most of those years they all lived in the same town. Even though our bunch has relocated about 45 minutes to the north in recent years, the get together of “the cousins” is always a treat and something the kids definitely look forward to. Today’s flashback to 2013 features a batch of those cousins under the supervision of Papa and Aunt Julie/Mom enjoying some fresh air (well, except for one picture perhaps).

Jayce, Brady, Zac and Papa Jackson doing their best “opossum face”, a family tradition.

Aunt Julie/Mom enjoying some tailgating Jackson style 

Apparently this catch was not too aromatic, these boys have no idea

Not sure what Zac is pondering, only he knows, but another classic shot from the trapline (with Uncle Brent)

Plenty of stories from these adventures that will be told for years to come.  That’s what it’s all about.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 1973 Coon Hunting

1973 (l to r) – Terry Jackson (with Lady), Bill Downin (with Buck), Jody Jackson (with neighbor’s plot hound, name forgotten) 

Coon hunting was an activity that ran in conjunction with trapping season for more than a few years. I did get to experience this interesting pursuit as a youngster on several occasions and have a handful of recollections from those evenings. But I’d have to say that one of the primary memories is just the general sense of how dark dark really is once you get away from the artificial lights and switch off the headlamps.

Anybody know what these are?  Likely another reason there’s no action shots of the hunts, not as easy as pulling out your “phone.”

And I suppose dark is part of the reason why there are not any photos during the actual hunts.  Instead, the pictures are more so of the processed pelts or the hunters with the true workhorses, the dogs.  I recall dogs named Bones, Susie and Paint while a check-in with Dad also yielded several others such as Buck, Lady, Herbie and Spot (the latter identified by Dad as “the best coon dog ever”).  Certainly a great deal of tales associated with that pack of hounds for another time.

Never knew this second shot existed until Dad recently found another batch of photos, pretty cool from the days when black and white was film not a filter.

Did I happen to mention how dark it gets when you’re coon hunting?

You know, when you’re a kid out there with your Dad, you’re safe, right?  After all, he’s not scared of anything, he’s seen and done it all, knows the woods like the back of his hand and can positively identify everything that goes bump in the night. Even so, when you’re a ten year old kid, it’s a whole different world out there in the dark. And all of these years later, I’d have to honestly say that I’ve never quite put that whole dark thing behind me. Give me some moonlight, a campfire and a little space and I’m perfectly fine. But middle of the woods, pitch dark, senses running overtime…

I’d say don’t tell my kids that I’m not as brave as Papa but I suppose they already know that from some of his outdoor tales. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 1978 Outfoxed & More

Last Fall, during a visit with my folks, Dad produced a batch of outdoor pictures that included today’s shot. Many other gems were also included in the stack of pics which was quite a treat. I had long thought that I’d gathered all of the family outdoor pics from a collection of photo albums and random envelopes but as it turned out there were more treasures to be had.

For me, it’s cool enough that this shot displays a collection of fox pelts as that species was not a primary focus of Dad and Uncle Dick. Instead, it was coons, muskrat and beaver that were the main furbearers targeted. To me, it goes to show that my trapping mentors simply knew how to get it done regardless of the quarry they had in their sights.

But wait, there’s more to this classic shot.

Dad’s hat is also a neat bit of trapping nostalgia as the emblem represents a group known at The Fur Takers of America which was founded in 1968 according to their website. I recall going to a meeting or two with Dad in the 70s and believe I even had a membership card of some sort, perhaps the youngest member in the local chapter, sounds like a good story anyhow. I seem to recall meetings being held at the Galesburg Moose Lodge and at one point I believe Dad and my Uncle Dick filled the roles of Secretary and Vice President, respectively.

Another fun aspect of this picture relates to the location as that is still my Mom and Dad’s driveway all these years later, close to the end of that dead end street on the banks of good, old Cedar Fork. That classic wood panel station wagon has given way to a parade of vehicles over the years but I have to say that it is outstanding to find it inadvertently preserved in this bit of outdoor family history.

The backdrop also makes me wonder if we are looking at a piece of West Central Illinois meteorological legend. The note on the back of the photo simply states 1978 season which leads me to believe that this photo reflects the 1978-79 trapping calendar year as the season has typically spanned from November into January and even March depending on the species pursued. As such, the snowfall behind Dad quite likely is part of what a March 3, 2014 Galesburg Register Mail article noted in stating, “Set in the 1978-79 winter, Galesburg received 52.8 inches of total snowfall during the astrological winter.” A National Weather Service bit covering January 1979 entitled The Brutal Winter of 1978-79 also adds, “Besides being a month for record snow, January was also the coldest month ever in the Quad Cities. The average temperature for the month was only 6.3 F. The second coldest reading ever occurred on January 2, when the temperature dropped to 27 F below zero.”

And here we are, exactly 39 years removed from that record low and I now call the Quad Cities “home.”  Luckily, in 2018 we’re only looking at a forecast low of -12 F. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2002 Routes, Records

2002 wound up being a solid year on the trapline in terms of totals and variety as our haul featured more than just the standard coons, muskrats and beaver with a couple coyotes, double digit skunks, a mink and even a weasel. However, record keeping on the trapline often wound up being a bit unofficial as the seasons drew to a close. After the first couple weeks our group of trappers would split up and the trapline totals and reports would get a little more sporadic based on factors such as time, access and weather. Nothing overly inaccurate, maybe a coon or two here or there as the totals below show 120 coons while a write-up I did back in 2002 reported our total as 130+ along with 20 beaver versus 19 in the respective reports.

Of course, it was about much more than the numbers as we traversed old, familiar stomping grounds such as The Big Timber and Pat’s Creek. For many years we would split up with Uncle Dick and me hitting the former while Dad and Brent covered the latter location. We would then move onto a handful of Warren County locations collectively called Moore’s before meeting up to compare the hauls and pose for a group photo.

Richard, Troy, Terry and Brent Jackson with a 2002 day’s haul

We covered many miles over the years and I suspect Dad and Uncle Dick could probably cover the ground with their eyes closed. Well, except maybe for The World’s Most Dangerous Crossing, had to be on your toes for that spot. And those sort of memories are as much a part of the story as the fur. Many tales and many places that were entertainingly named by a couple outdoorsmen who knew it best.

Photo shoot at The Cemetery with 20+ pound coon, 47 and 39 pound beaver 

These shots from one of those spots, The Cemetery, during the 2002 season are particularly memorable as we racked up a new record for beaver catches including a couple that tipped the scales at 60 pounds, another at 47 pounds, two at 39 pounds and one at 34 pounds. In addition, we pondered whether or not we had set a family coon record with one coming in close to 24 pounds. Great catches that you don’t really want to have to haul too far along those trapline trails. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2007 Garb, Gear, Gals

Me and Dad with Helena (left) and Carly (right), trapping prep 2007

With the introduction of kids/grandkids to the trapline beginning in the early 2000s, garb and gear saw some considerable changes from when me or my brother would have gotten to tag along in the 70s.

In terms of outdoor wear, camo has really become a moneymaker and our bank account was apparently a little lighter from the looks of these outdoor ladies. In addition, I’m thinking that the color pink hadn’t made too many appearances in our outdoor adventures either prior to these two and their cousin a few years earlier. You know, there’s been outdoorswomen forever but whoever came up with the pink camo style probably made a few dollars too. By comparison, us boys and Dad back in the day look to have worn whatever we had.

Tailgating trapline style

Dig the attire before head to toe camo became required

Modern day trapping kids at the age of my girls in today’s photos required a little more packing beyond a packbasket, hip boots and a can or two of soda.

We’re talking car seats, sippy cups, a diaper bag, juice boxes, snacks and healthy batch of good old hand sanitizer. I don’t even know if that latter hygiene item existed back in the days when a little dirt never hurt. Now that stuff is everywhere, somebody’s probably made a killing off of that fad too with scents, sparkles, fancy bottles and fancy things to put your fancy bottles in and attach to your backpack. I believe that stuff may eventually be the downfall of our kind as our immune systems wind up getting lazy.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. After all, if you’d seen some of what has went down over the years with those trapping boxes the ladies are lounging on…well, perhaps a shot of sanitizer ain’t a bad idea before you dig into that bag of cookies. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2002 Totals & Territory

2002 proved to be an interesting year on the trapline in terms of diversity. For one, my cousin, Berin Jackson, was able to join up with the regular crew for several days while possibly playing a bit of “hookie” from Western Illinois University. In terms of fur, there was also a great deal of variety and some records established along the way in regards to the totals on beaver and likely skunk, although stats on the latter over the years are unofficial at best.

Left to right: Terry Jackson, Brent Jackson, Berin Jackson, Troy Jackson and Richard Jackson with a varied haul of 4 muskrats, 3 coons and a pair of coyotes.

Coons 130+
Muskrat 14
Beaver 20
Mink 1
Coyote 2
Weasel 1
Skunk 10+
Opossum 30+ (???)

One of our record 20 beaver from 2002, this one tipped the scales at 60 pounds.

By 2002, the area that Dad and Uncle Dick had trapped for years was beginning to see some changes in terms of ownership and access. This trend would continue and eventually permission to most of the ground would be ceded to other trappers as well as the bane of the local outdoors enthusiasts, the pay to play crowd. But for many years, we had quite a fascinating outdoor classroom as described in an excerpt from an article I posted back in November of 2002.

“To wrap up this article, I’d like to provide a little history of one of the areas we are currently trapping. The overall area is known as Wilson’s and includes Pat’s Creek, The Big Timber and Earl’s. It is located in Henderson County roughly between Rozetta and Bald Bluff if that helps. Dad estimates that he began visiting this area nearly forty years ago after gaining permission along with a friend whose wife’s uncle was Earl Wilson, who farmed the land. Over the years the area has provided many hours of outdoor enjoyment through hunting, fishing, camping, trapping and nature observation. Hunting includes coons, deer, squirrels, doves, ducks, frogs, rabbits, mushrooms and ginseng. Fishing was done by rod and reel, jugs, bankpoles and throwlines in ponds and Pat’s Creek. Camping included family outings often during Memorial or Labor Day weekends. Trapping includes coons, muskrat, beaver, mink, opossum and skunks. A diverse plant and animal population provides plenty of opportunity to observe nature and the scenery of The Big Timber is fantastic. Rocky bluffs overlook a rock bottom creek with small waterfalls and rocks loaded with fossils from the days when our part of the world was under the sea.

Of course, things change over time. The ponds have dried up or silted in to the point that they no longer sustain a fish population and logging has taken some of the timber. Numerous people scour the woods with or without permission leaving their mark rather than leaving things as they found them. Regardless, there is still plenty to enjoy and we continue to appreciate the opportunity to get outdoors.”

Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2007 Guest Trapper

Looking back at a trapping update that I posted exactly ten years ago today it seems that December showed up a lot less friendly than our 2017 run of temps in the 50s and 60s.

My posting from 12/5/2007 began:

“December arrived with an unfriendly ice storm that knocked out our power for the third time this year. Fortunately, this outage was much shorter in duration than the previous two inconveniences. Now, as we enter these last few weeks of 2007 and look forward to Christmas and a new year, a month of trapping is on the books and we have again racked up both fur and adventures.”

2007 Season – Troy Jackson, Terry Jackson, Brent Jackson and Bryar Townsend

The report goes on to detail a few of those adventures shared with a trapper in training, my nephew, Bryar, who just became a teenager two days ago. Here a couple more excerpts from the 2007 posting:

“Miniature Trapper Program – Our latest guest on the trapline was my three-year-old nephew, Bryar. Being the youngest trapper in the group, Papa gave him the privilege of not only picking our breakfast destination but also ruling the radio. For breakfast he chose McDonald’s and we left the drive thru with a bag full of burritos to eat on the road. Upon arriving at our first trap, it was quite obvious from the aroma that we’d been rewarded with a particularly foul skunk. Dad did the honors of removing the skunk from the trap and apparently brought some of the smell back to the truck. Between the odor and Bryar’s repeated retelling of the story, we had a constant reminder of our catch for the rest of the trip. Uncle Brent shot some good video along the way and Bryar got startled by some pigeons in a corn crib, snacked on juice and Teddy Grahams and fell asleep on the way home. We all had a good adventure and it was beneficial for Bryar to hang with the guys to buffer the ample amount of time he spends with his sister and my girls.”

“Sirius Business – When Dad purchased his new truck, he also got a trial subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio. Upon checking it out, I discovered that the digital display told the title, artist and year for each song which proved irresistible for a music trivia buff. I consider myself pretty well-versed in 70’s and 80’s pop and rock music along with having a fair grasp of some mid to late 60’s tunes. With Brent running the controls I impressed myself upon identifying The Tremoloes singing “Silence Is Golden” (1967) but fell short on The Marvellettes “Don’t Mess with Bill” (1966). The 70’s and 80’s proved to be no match and I was even able to provide the year, 1985, for the Starship hit “We Built This City.” However, a few days later, Bryar gave me a run for my money. You see, Sirius also has a number of little kid stations. Apparently, grandkids get preferential treatment over kids as Dad let him listen to Disney or something. In no time, Bryar was showing off with “It’s the Wiggles…Hey, it’s Laurie Berkner…Wow, the Curious George song (I would have gotten that one if given time)… and High School Musical!” It almost felt as if he was taunting me as he called out the tunes after only a few notes. Finally, the radio gods came through as I nailed him on “Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog (1979) and he had no clue. Sure, he had me down like 10-1, but I could bask in the glory of knowing “the classics” of little kid music. Plus, I was quite confident that he would fall asleep on the way home and we’d be able to listen to grown up stuff again.”

Another 2007 pic – Troy, Brent and Terry Jackson

Fun stuff and goes a long way towards expressing that there’s a lot more to trapping than just running your sets. However, I will close with one final bit from that original posting, the stats from the first several weeks of the 2007 season.

Totals and Sales
Coons 61 10 sold with high $21 low $3 and average of $10.20
Muskrats 12 None sold yet
Mink 1 Not sold yet
Other 5 skunks, 20+ opossum (but no one is really counting)

More trapping Tuesdays to come, along with a Top 5 Stat Update, an outdoor Christmas wish list and whatever else I can come up with to close out 2017. Talk to you later. Troy