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Tyler's trapping his future

The Practical Outdoorsman

March 19, 2008
This story is a follow-up column of the fur-trapping seminar story I did a while back. I had originally called Steve Cecil, who owns Blue River Fur and Root Co., to see if he could hook me up with a local trapper for a story on fur trapping in our area.

Tyler Cecil catches two foxes from this same set at the junction of two trails. (Photos by Joe Bergman
On the phone that day, Steve told me about his seminar scheduled for a few days later, so I changed my plan and covered it first. It was that night that I met Tyler, Steve's son, and with so much of the emphasis of the seminar on getting youngsters interested in this sport, I knew I'd found my trapper.

This kid loves the outdoors! Fishing, hunting, trapping, anything to do with being outside is what he wants to do. I asked him about other interests. Video games? "The only time I play video games is when I'm grounded," he said. Watch TV? "Not much, I'll watch some football and basketball, that's about it."

Being the son of an ardent fisherman, hunter and trapper probably had a lot to do with Tyler's interest in the outdoors.

"I was about 5 years old when I started going trapping and hunting with my dad," he said. "I've been trapping my own line since I was 12."

Cecil displays the first gray fox that he has caught.
During trapping season, Tyler spends a lot of his time helping his dad in the shop. Some part-time trappers don't think they have the time or the expertise to skin and stretch their catch, so Steve will buy the animals whole and he and Tyler will do it. But before and after trapping season, look for him in the woods, the fields or on the water.

Here is a young man who already knows what he wants to do with his life and how he's going to get there.

"I'd never want a job where I have to work inside all the time," he said. "I plan on getting my GED and then taking the trappers course offered by Purdue University."

The Furtakers of America, in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources and Purdue University offer the Professional Trapper's Short Course in the fall in Northeast Indiana. It is a week-long course that covers biology, wildlife management, nuisance wildlife control, rules and regulations, etc.

Cecil prepares the set in the bank of a spring feeding the Blue River in which he caught a large boar raccoon.
Tyler, now 15, attended seventh, eighth and ninth grades at Crawford County Junior-Senior, where he played defensive tackle and offensive guard for the football team — a game he said he enjoyed a lot, but even at his age was beginning to take a toll on his body.

He's now being home-schooled by his mom, Sonya. Originally his own idea, to allow himself more time to be outdoors, improvements in his grades have convinced his parents they made the right decision with their very goal-oriented son.

"Eventually," he said, "I'll take over Dad's business. I'll probably hang around here till Dad gets too old to get out by himself, so I can haul him around so he can still get out to hunt and trap."

It's refreshing to meet a 15-year-old who has such a firm idea of how he wants to spend the rest of his life. He'll be his own boss — no time clock, no necktie — doing what he enjoys most and providing a valuable service in nuisance wildlife control.

Cecil stands with four of the five foxes caught this season.
Also, here's an example of how introducing a youngster to the natural world provides a healthy outlet for his energies, and respect for the ethics and the laws governing outdoor pursuits can be valuable life lessons that produce responsible adult behavior.

I got out on Tyler's line with him to get the pictures for this story and had a really good time. He's easy to have a conversation with, and this is great from the standpoint of a reporter looking for quotes from his subject and also from the standpoint of a 60-something year-old man that sometimes has a hard time talking to teenagers, even my own grandkids.

Tyler's well grounded in the rules, regulations and ethics of trapping. And he has already mastered many of the skills needed to run a successful trap line, no doubt thanks in great part to his dad.

I was with him the day he caught his first gray fox. Pretty exciting for him, and I was glad I was there to share it with him. So far this season, he's caught 20 raccoon, a dozen opossum, five foxes and four beavers.

P.S.: Steve Cecil is planning another seminar for late March, possibly an all-day outdoor affair. Look for the announcement in the "Sporting Goods" section in the Clarion News and The Corydon Democrat classifieds.

(Bergman can be reached at proutdoors@aol.com .)

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