Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Millard Wardwell's Trapping Gear

After talking with Millard for ten minutes or so his eyes lit up, "Let me show something." I eagerly followed him to the garage with no idea what was in store.

The garage door slid up exposing a room full of hunting and trapping gear. For the next twenty minutes, Millard walked me through his gear. Starting on the left: Millard's trapping backpack, Conibear traps, a jaw trap and the wood things are pelt stretchers.

According to Millard, peanut butter is the best all purpose bait and works on animals from squirrels to beaver and foxes. The Conibear traps are on the left and the anchors on the right are used to secure the traps into the ground.

Millard raved about these Conibear 120's. They can catch a variety of animals ranging from fisher, fox, rabbits, weasels and beaver and are easy to set.

Millard used this set up to catch fishers, their pelts go from $40-$100 at auction. As you can see the traps exert a tremendous amount of force and kill the animals instantly.

One winter, Millard used these very snow shoes to track and kill 96 porcupines. In the spring, he collected the 50¢ bounty and bought a Smith & Wesson Competition Revolver for $45 new. That must have been some time ago.

Millard uses these pieces of wood to stretch the skins before he sends them off the to local tannery. Starting on the left; hares, red squirrels, fishers, and foxes. After tanning the pelts, Millard would send them to a consignment auction house in upstate New York and await sale. "Every month or two I get a check in the mail for one of my pelts. Its a pleasant surprise."

These larger, two-piece stretchers are used for coyotes. Note the sign, "Coyote Traps Ahead." One winter Millard got 26. Millard does note like Coyotes.

"Red Squirrel pelts will get 1$ in Russia. Apparently they use the dinky furs to line fancy woman's coats. Who would've known."

Three years ago Millard was diagnosed with bladder cancer. After a successful surgery, Millard's catheter clogged and a failed cleaning led to a near-fatal infection. Three months later, Millard recovered, however his sense of balance never recovered, severely limiting his mobility. Today Millard struggles to walk and can no longer maintain his trapping lines. His eyes teared up, "This is just bringing back a lot of good memories."

I will never forget Millard, and I hope that my generation will keep this fleeting Maine tradition going.

Here are some more links,
Millard Wardwell's Trapping Gear (Picasa),
Millard Wardwell: A Maine Trapper (ART).


Stephanie said...

Nice to here about someone like that. Inspires me. I'll work on my mole trap line today. They are pesky little buggers. My irish terrier killed a baby bunny last week.

greenjeans said...

Those snowshoes are amazing.

There's always a quiet strength and solemness to guys like this. Great job.

Brian K said...

It has been said that the greatest trap is Foster's headlock, as it has been known to break a grown man's neck.


Foster Huntington said...

touche brian, any time any where.

viagra prescription said...

It's a nice post, it was an useful reading time. Seriously... I just love those garages, full of stuff and silly things.