Below the Waterline: Trapping making a comeback

2013-01-09T15:52:00Z 2013-06-19T13:09:32Z Below the Waterline: Trapping making a comebackTerry Brown |
January 09, 2013 3:52 pm  • 

Forty years ago or so, Central Illinois was a hotbed for pheasant, quail and rabbit hunters. There were very few whitetail deer and no turkeys. Farming practices allowed for corn stalk stubble and set aside ground, fence rows were prevalent, and the timber was filled with multi-floral rose and underbrush.

Today, cover has diminished because of advanced farming methods, hedge rows are fewer and coyotes and hawks abound. Roosting birds such as turkeys have taken a larger foothold over ground cover cousins such as pheasant and quail. Rabbit populations have diminished too, largely from predators and less cover.

Deer populations have swollen to where some look at them as nuisances. Goose populations continue to rise and more are staying year-round. The ecosystem dictates what animals we share our area with and with urban sprawl continuing, more changes are on the horizon.

The art of trapping has been around since the pioneers headed west, but as prices for fur diminished so did those who pursued them. In recent years it has gained a new life with a resurgence in prices for fur. The IDNR wants more young people to get involved. Several outdoors and trapping groups have been organized and are gaining momentum.

Some trap for fur only, but others trap to eliminate nuisance animals. I remember men in the Hudson and Colfax areas such as Stanley Systo Sr., Stanley Systo Jr., Paul “Ed” Kelley, Byron Dungey and others who trapped mink, muskrat, beaver, coyote, raccoon and fox. Even when most of us never saw those animals, they knew where they lived and how to catch them.

Local fishing guide Jerry Martoglio still traps too. He started trapping in the 1960s with Tommy Kaufman of Danvers. He did it to stay outdoors and in tune with nature and for fishing gear and gas money, but now traps to help farmers and lake owners with nuisance animals.

“Trapping is hard work and setting and managing the traps take time,” said Martoglio. “You have to be very observant and watch where the animal comes from as well as where it is going to be successful.”

You have to check every trap every day and it’s best to have a buddy along because you are around water and slick surfaces. Beginning trappers must have a permit and need to enroll in an IDNR trapping class. It also is good to study the animals in the summer and to ask for permission to trap in the summer as well.

This gives the trapper and landowner time to become acquainted and work together. Follow good etiquette on the landowner’s property, never leave trash or push down a fence. Park where the landowner asks you to park and talk to a veteran trapper about laws and traps for each animal.

BASS University

The BASS University will be at the Schaumburg Convention Center on Jan. 25-26 with pros Shaw Grigsby, Mike Iaconelli, Bernie Schultz, Pete Gluszek, Brandon Palaniuk and Mike McClelland heading the training sessions. You can sign up at

Fish and Feather Expo

The Illinois Fish and Feather Expo will be Jan. 25, 26 and 27 at the Interstate Center. It will include more than 120 booths, boat dealers, the annual fish fry and hourly drawings for prizes. Seminars by local guides and multi-species experts Jerry Martoglio and Steve Welch, and noted Hook and Hunt TV owner and outdoorsman Jim Crowley will highlight the show.

Tackle Swap date set

The Bloomington Normal Annual Tackle Swap is Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Times Past Inn in Bloomington. Food will be available and there is no charge for a table to display your wares. Fishing items only and there will be a tackle raffle. Contact Gena Norris at or 309-376-7674 for more details.

Terry Brown is the President of, an industry leading, daily website and social media fishing-centered community that provides the information on products, industry newsmakers and fishing techniques. You can read more by going to

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