Trapper’s dream comes true, from catch to cap

Now that trapping season is in full swing, I feel this is a great time to share the tale of a furtaking mission recently completed by a very enthusiastic young raccoon catcher.

My son, who is now in first grade, loves trying to catch raccoons. From the time I took him out to check our first set of traps, he was hooked. Each year we try and catch a few coons for population control. We have also released quite a few that were caught in live traps.

The first coon River caught as a pre-schooler is proudly displayed at our cabin. The others he took that year were sold. Going into last year’s season, the small but avid outdoorsman decided he had a different plan for one of his catches.

After seeing some fake coonskin caps at a store in New York’s Finger Lakes region, he decided he wanted his own from a coon he trapped.

The first step was obviously catching the coon. Since we needed a good pelt, we waited until later in the season to try and catch an extra-large specimen. I figured a big male would definitely be enough to use for a cap.

After a few days of trap checking, the kindergartener had his ideal coon. At that time we pulled our traps and I started to check into some places that specialized in fur clothing.

A friend sent the pelt to the Midwest to be tanned along with a large truckload of other trappers’ catches from the season. River patiently waited for the call to inform us that the second step for the process was complete.

Late in the summer my friend dropped off the coon at my office. He also gave me a business card for a company out of Missouri that he had used in the past to make hats and teddy bears to sell at fundraisers for his trapping association. Since I go to him for my trapping advice, it seems like a no-brainer to use his recommendation for River’s hat.

I contacted the company owner and discussed options for River’s project. I elected to keep the face off of the hat, which I felt would be a little too creepy, and instead went with the standard look he calls the Davy Crockett. We went with Velcro in the back so it could be adjusted to fit his head for years to come.

The next day a check and the coon were on the way to the Show Me State along with expectations that it would be a few months until the hat was returned.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived back in Pennsylvania only two weeks later. I quickly inspected the finished product and was impressed with the craftsmanship. The inside was a digital camo, which River loved, and the Velcro was hidden from view when it was worn.

That afternoon I took home the box and told the young trapper he had a package on the porch (since he loves to get mail). The second grader was elated when he discovered the hat he longed to own was finally in his possession.

Since that time it has been proudly displayed on the wall in his bedroom — with one exception.

Last week it was time for show and tell at his school. He elected to take in his coonskin cap to show the unsuspecting boys and girls in his class. Needless to say, none of the awaiting six and seven year-olds guessed what he had in his box before it was unveiled.

I would have loved to see the look on his teacher’s face while he was retelling the story I just shared with you.

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