Nov 18

Live like you were dying! want to be a Professional Trapper, then do it!

by Clint Locklear, Predator control Group

Note: this is an artical that I had published in Trappers World. If you have not read it, you may enjoy it.


There I was driving up I-20 letting my mind wonder over this season. It was a wild ride that almost seems like an act of fiction that one reads about, not lives. My journey started in the black waters of South Carolina covered Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi and ended up in the swamps of Louisiana. It is hard to imagine that this is the life of a hillbilly from east Tennessee. I have to admit that I love my job. I get to chases fur all over the country and rub shoulders with the best people on earth during the summer months at conventions. Some guys may not want to have this life, but I know for a fact a lot of you do. You see, I meet trappers, both young and old, that want the job I have. True, most guys would not say it, but when you listen between the lines and witness the sparkle in their eyes, it’s obvious. Some guys want to own their own company. Some want to fish for a living. Some dream of hunting for a living and yes, some guys want to trap for a living. Every man has to make his own choices in life. This may seem like a strange trapping article, but if it nudges you to chase, no, complete a dream of yours, it’s better than any equipment or technique article you could be reading in this one’s place.  

Back to the drive up I-20. Tim McGraw was playing on my radio. The song title is “Live like you were dying”, I believe. The song talks about someone who has just found out they were going to soon die. The person lived, really lived from that point on. He rocked climbed, skydived, and rode a bull named Fu Man Chu. He realized that there was more to living than just breathing. Tim McGraw may be a country singer, but life does not have to mimic a blue collar working man’s song. There can be more to life than working where you don’t want to, just to put food on the table. These songs are great to sing along with, but not live by. Working hard for a living is fact of life. But I’d rather work hard at what I want to be working at. Let me make this point into a little game. We will call this game, “Learn from the life experiences of others”. Take a ride to the local nursing home and talk to the people that are living there. Ask anyone there what they did for a living? Then ask them if they could go back and do anything they wanted, what would it be? I’ll bet you will not hear one person say, “If I could have only spent a few more weeks or days at work and made a few more dollars, I would have lived the life, I dreamed of”. Now you don’t have to go to a nursing to know this is true, but that is how most folks are living out their own life. Now let’s go back to the nursing home a moment. Ask a painter what they wanted to do, you’ll hear, “I wish I would have spent more of my time painting”. Ask a race car driver and you will hear, “I wish I could have driven in one more race”. Now go ask an old trapper and you will hear, “I wish I had one more season to trap and spend in the woods”. You will find that there are some people that do what they love and some people that don’t. So just what separates the people that do and the people that don’t. It’s using the gift and one’s understanding of life’s game.

We will get to the gift in a moment. For now let’s talk about the game. The way I see it, life is like a football game. A football game has four quarters that last about 15 minutes each on the score board. But if you time the actual playing time, the game only last about 20 minutes total. The other time is spent standing around waiting for the ball to be snapped. 20 minutes of actual playing is not very much. This is how I feel most of the time. To me, the last 10 years feel like two, and I bet the next 10 years will feel like one year. Time just has a way of passing us by before we know it. Another way life reminds me of football is the final score. When the game is over the score is final and will never be changed. Our life is not a pre-season game or a practice session. I hope this is not to Dr. Phil for you, but this has to be understood. Most trappers I meet talk about “Some Day”. What they are going to do “Some Day”. What trap line will be run “Some Day”. The time clock is running, and the not so funny thing about “Some day” is that it is always about some day in the future. This “Some Day” has a way of turning into “I wish I would have, back when”. “Some Day” to me is worse than any four letter word I used to get my mouth washed out with soap for. If you set your jaw and make up your mind you can make “Some Day” into today, this month, this year. I still like those blue collar blues songs, but I refuse to live them out.

Before we get to the gift, let’s talk a little bit about how to kick the crap out of “Some Day”. This “Some Day” is as sneaky as a PETA poster. The posters give only one side of the topic and reeks of fear, lies and false pity. So just how does this “Some Day” keep people from living the life, they deep down dream about? First off, when we grow up, we are told we must grow up, get a job and hopefully get a day or hour here and there to pursue our hobbies. Yea, says who? This mind set comes from people who are for the most of the time miserable, and misery loves company. Does life have to be a 40-60 hour work week that lets you have some fun on the weekend? Nope! This life style is a choice not a fact. I have been self employed for over a decade. When I decided to be a full time trapper, I owned a swimming pool construction company. Money was good and not a concern, but all I did was dream and wish about state hopping or traveling and seeing the country. Let me tell you when I made my mind up to live off the woods and the water, my wife and family thought I had lost my mind and that I needed to grow up. I was given advice from people who hated their work life and the chains it had on them. It was almost like taking advice from a broke man on how to make money. Has the choice and road that I have chosen been easy, no! I had to learn to live off of less money. I have had to do some strange things to make ends meet. Most days are just getting started after 8 hours and I have yet to make any overtime. The path that was taken has not always been smooth, but for me it was the right path. I love my job. When I have down time, I am dreaming and thinking about the next adventure my job will deliver. Most mornings I can’t wait to go to work and I have a hard time quieting at night. Why? I am doing what I love and love what I am doing. If you don’t feel the same way about your work, change! I know we all have responsibilities in life, but we all have to same options. You make the decision to live out a country song and you have the option not to. It may not be easy and secure, but don’t waste your life wishing for a lifestyle or dream, go get it. Whatever you’re doing day in and day out, keep in mind this is not a preseason game and there are do-overs. Am I recommending that you quit your job? Maybe, maybe not. Chasing your dream needs to be thought out and planned. Your dream may be something smaller, maybe taking that trip to Alaska to trap martin, going out west to chase cats or heading south for an otter expedition. Maybe you want to spend all season trapping or just a few more weeks on the line. Whatever you want to do, you can. You need to plan, focus, finish and make it happen. If you decide to chase a dream, quit dreaming and start living.

Now let’s get to the gift. The gift I am referring to is the gift of being born in America. Only about 5% of the world’s population gets this gift. 95% of the world would trade places with you and gladly use the gift of freedom. This is where you should stop reading and go put on the “Star Spangle Banner” for background music. Talking like this is kind of on the corny side, but at the same time it’s not. Because of where you were born you can do whatever you want to. You want to be a doctor, be a doctor. You want to be a garbage man, be a garbage man. If you want to be a pro trapper, then you can be a pro trapper. You have the gift to attain anything you want. This may be a gift, but it’s not free or an entitlement. Getting what you want takes sacrifice, sometimes lack of security, stepping out of your comfort zone, basically doing whatever needs to be done. It’s easy to stay where you are in life. You are already doing whatever you’re doing, but if you are not doing what you dream about, get off the couch and change. I personally take the gift of freedom very serious. In the military I traveled the world and saw what it means to not have freedom, it sucks! This gift should not be wasted or taken lightly, use it, it’s yours.

I guess all this cheer leading boils down to stepping off the edge of our comfort level and living our dream. I have been living my dream for several years now. Now I am planning on taking my lifestyle to the next level. I am working on selling or renting my house and living out of a 5th-wheel camper. You see I spend a lot of time away from home and away from my wife (Cindy). So I will be taking my wife, 3 cats and dog on the road with me. I have been working on this for a while now. Trapping is the easy part, but running my lure business from the road is a problem. So if you have any ideas,

 Will this dream of constant state hopping and convention running be easy or even what I think it will be like, probably not. I will figure it out as I go along I guess. But you can count on one thing, if it’s possible it will happen. This may seem like a crazy dream, but like Ray Charles said, “any dream worth having is a little crazy”.

So it’s up to you. If you want to be a peacock bass fishing guide in South America, start learning Spanish and studying the Amazon River. If you want to face down an enraged snot slinging Cape buffalo in Africa, get your gun and step in front of one. If you want to be a pro trapper, pull up your hip boots and get to work. If you want my job, there just happens to be an opening and the person taking the application is the guy that looks back at you in the mirror.

For of all sad words of tongue or pen / the saddest are these, It might have been!  John Greenleaf Whittier

Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.  Anonymous

Cowards die many times before their death, The valiant never taste death but once.  William Shakespeare

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks on the outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakens.  Carl Jung

The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.  Thomas Carlyle


  1. admin

    I think you are right. I have now found myself in a trap that I set for myself. My lure business has grown so much, living on the road would not work. I’m having to split my time this winter between the woods and lure building. The income is welcome, but I get wound up sitting in a building during some of the trapping season. Now, i can’t see how to do this kind of volume from the road.

  2. Todd Campbell

    Clint, I would not sell your house in eastern Tennesse. Someday when you get to be an old fart you will trap closer to home. You can take you dog and your precious wife Cindy with you and pull a camper of sorts. I read a story by Russ Carman years ago about trapping away from home and he recommended to keep your home and travel with a companion to help with the fur cooking and so forth. Being a married longliner works better with the wife with you and there will be times she would prefer to stay at home to keep the house in order, pay bills and keep it clean and so forth. When I go on long trips and then come home the first words out of my mouth are “there is no place like home”. Our homes in a way are a sanctuary where we can rest and catch up on things we have put on a back burner. There is another thing you can think about is to move and buy a house maybe in another state closer to where you like to trap but from what I hear you say you are in 5 or 6 states. All said I would not sell your home.

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