In the early days of the fur boom of the 1970’s, trapper and lure maker Russ Carman put out his first trapping book, targeted toward beginner fox trappers who needed to know the basics. Years later, when fox prices were sky high, competition was stiff, and everyone and their brother was looking for trapping information, he rewrote it with more advanced information geared toward professionals. Russ Carman’s Professional Fox Trapping Methods was published in 1978, and gained great popularity in the trapping world.
In 84 pages, with numerous photos included, Carman provided an excellent overview of the methods needed to take fox at the professional level at the time. He stressed pre-season preparation, scouting and location, efficiency of time and energy, and scent control, scent control, scent control! A bunch of pictures are included to illustrate fox travelways, set locations, and how to construct specific types of sets. Equipment, lure, bait and other miscellaneous topics were covered as well.
Carman trapped in the heart of red fox country at a time when a man could make a living trapping fox for just a month or two. To say things have changed in the forty years since the book came out would be one heck of an understatement! Today, coyotes have moved east and taken over much of the old fox country, and a lot of the old farm country has reverted back to forests in many areas. The #2 Victor coilsprings used for fox back in those days have been replaced by heavier, tougher traps that a coyote can’t tear apart, and wooden stakes have gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced first by rebar, and then the revolution of the cable stake. While many trappers still dye and wax traps the traditional way, trap dips have become more popular. Thoughts on pan tension have changed. Perhaps most notably, the obsession with scent control back in the 70’s has kind of died down a bit. Most trappers still feel scent control is important, but aren’t too worried about bringing a kneeling pad to the set and stepping in every puddle to clean their boots.
Despite all of the changes in trapping practices and equipment over the years, Carman’s fox book still holds up as a solid reference every serious fox trapper can benefit from. Many of the ideas and concepts discussed in the book have stood the test of time, and can help make you a better trapper. And it’s a great look into the trapping world as Russ experienced it during the fur boom days.