15 Minutes of Fame — Almost

15 Minutes of Fame — Almost

My companion was amazed when he peeked over the piled-up sagebrush and saw a coyote ravaging some kind of critter 200 yards below us. Wondering, no doubt, how I had seen the barely visible canine from the highway a half-mile away as we drove past the lower end of a draw. His deliberations ended abruptly as the sharp crack of my Bushmaster AR .223 flattened the coyote where it stood. He was even more amazed when we got to the downed canine, and I pointed out the two expired snow-covered coyotes, snared in the oak brush 20 yards above a scavenged horse carcass bait

Later, as I watched my journalist companion scribbling notes in his ever-present notebook, I cogitated on the fact that I might be involved in the epitome of my trapping, predator hunting and fur buying career! Working on a unique lifestyle career article for none other than Penthouse magazine! Yikes! 

A week earlier I’d gotten a call from Jim Foster, who explained that he was a transplanted freelance journalist from Washington D.C who had moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to avoid the political and corrupt B.S. in our nation’s capitol. Over time he had heard a lot about the outdoors, trapping and the booming fur prices from several outdoor oriented friends.  

After some judicious research, he’d sent 50 queries to editors, pitching an article on the boom in fur use, prices, trapping and such and had gotten two assignments for his efforts. One was from an Albuquerque newspaper for their Sunday supplement and other from none other than Penthouse magazine for a unique job column they were doing! Yeah, right, I thought, until I verified the assignment and even got a photo assignment from them to back up his writing, rather than them sending a New Yorker out to handle it. Jim wanted to key in on Colorado and apparently during conversations with several predator hunters, trappers and game wardens, my name had come up. Hence, the call and request.   

When he showed up at my home a week or so later for three days of actual in-the-field experience that I insisted on before agreeing to the venture, he admitted he had never hunted, trapped or been an avid outdoorsman. The only time he had ever shot a gun was once on a law enforcement pistol range. Talk about a challenge.

During the first day, while we were driving and checking traps and snares that produced two coyotes and a bobcat, I explained the smart way of using baits, snaring, trapping and the rudiments of handling furs and fur buying. I figured to give him firsthand experience at calling coyotes the following morning.  

That afternoon, I pulled off the highway a couple miles from my house and led him to a fresh roadkilled elk I had found two days earlier. I had managed to drag it out of sight and into the brush 100 yards from the road. The coyotes had found it and were really working it over as I expected. I instructed Jim on how to choose a snare location and coached him as he excitedly set four snares on the well-used trails. 

The following morning, he told me he had hardly slept all night, dreaming of catching a coyote, and was ready to go check his snares. He almost was in tears when I told him we weren’t going to check them until the next day, and he kept bugging me all day to relent.  

We set up and called in several good locations in my trapping area and finally conned a large male coyote to within a few yards of my Feather Flex fawn decoy, where I dumped him in the knee-deep snow, much to Jim’s amazement. Later, we spent some time with several local rancher/coyote shooters and a retired government trapper at the local café, where Jim was enamored by some of their experiences and tales of predator encounters. That afternoon we graded, repaired and worked on finishing some furs I had previously bought, and I let him spend several hours going through my transparency files, which contained some 200,000 images.

The following morning, his last day, Jim was raring to check his snare sets and stated he, again, hadn’t slept all night. After almost running to the elk carcass he found two prime pelted coyotes hung in his snares and was as ecstatic as I have ever seen an individual. I told him he needed to analyze and elucidate on those feelings and the eager anticipation and enthusiasm in the article he was assigned — pointing out that hunting is a natural phenomenon for humans and the excitement and anticipation he experienced as a non-hunter/trapper is completely normal. When we lose something, we HUNT for it, I told him, and one of the first games we learn as a youngster is “hide and seek,” a form of hunting.   

We ended his research by skinning and stretching one of the coyotes and skinning and preparing the second for him to take to a taxidermist for a remembrance of his first trapping venture. Unfortunately, a change in personnel at Penthouse dropped the column idea on unusual, old-time, modern-day professions, but I did get a nice check for the photography, made a good friend and converted a non-outdoorsman to an avid believer. And that ain’t all bad.  


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