Vol. VI, No. 4, Spring 1993

Running the Trap Line

It took a lot of hands to work a living from the land. The children of an Ozarks farm family all had their chores to do.

The girls helped their mothers with the household jobs, gathered the eggs, and hoed in the spring garden. The boys fed the livestock, carried in the wood, and drove the team for the hay wagon.

In the winter, however, a young man took on a very special chore---running his trap line.

Earlier he and his dad had built a number of box traps--wooden rectangles about 18 inches long. They were just big enough for a curious rabbit to get in the open end. Soon there would be no open end, as the rabbit brushed a trigger and was trapped when the door fell.

The traps were placed in fence rows, by brushpiles, and in the woods. The boy and his dog visited the traps every day, removing the rabbits (and an occasional skunk) and resetting the traps. The rabbits that were not eaten by the family were cleaned and sold for cash.

Running the trap line wasn't always fun. A boy often had other things he'd rather do. But on a crisp, sunny Ozarks morning after snow had blanketed the dead grass and brown leaves of winter, there was no better chore. He would take his dog, make tracks into the woods, and return proudly with his prizes.



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