Jackie Malone of Alabama
I was once an anti-trapper! I was around 11 years old and a cousin caught my beagle in one of his steel traps. We had a big what to do over it and didn’t speak for quite some time afterwards. The following fall 1977 I was like always stalk hunting squirrels along the creek that bordered my uncle’s property and ran across some of my cousin’s snapped traps. He had long since gave up on being a trapper since he never caught anything in them except my dog and a skunk.
I fiddled around with the thing and got a blood blister for my troubles. But I was curious about them and beaver were coming out of the creek and crossing a large sand bar cutting a groove in it. When I got back home I asked my cousin if he cared if I borrowed some of his traps I’d found in the woods and he said I could have them, he wasn’t fooling with it anymore. With no clue on what I was doing, I got a roll of clothes line wire out of my uncle’s shed and went back to the sand bar. I figured out how to set the trap which I now know was a 1.5 Blake and Lamb long spring, hardly a beaver trap. At any rate I dug up a bed for the trap with my hand in the sand and placed the trap in the beaver trail, covered it with a large cowcumber tree leaf and smoothed sand back out over the trap. A tree was probably 30 ft. away so I wired the trap to it with the clothes line wire. Imagine my surprise the next day when I came around to check the trap and it held a huge puffed up beaver in it by a front foot! Thus started my life as a trapper and I have been following a trapline ever since from Arizona to Missouri to Alabama.
In 2000 my state trapping association asked me to take over as President from out of the blue! I’d never been interested in the politics side of trapping and was hesitant to say the least taking on such a task but agreed as I felt like it was time for me to do my part as those who had come before me did theirs. I served two terms and stepped aside as at the time that was all our bylaws would allow one to serve in that position. Within a year I was asked to be the NTA Director and agreed to have my hat tossed in at the next election. I was voted in to that position in 2005 and served on the board of the NTA until 2013. During that time, I was honored with the NTA Director of the Year award and the Pioneer Award for my involvement in getting training programs set up across the state teaching kids how to trap. I served on the Hall of Fame committee as well as the Ethics committee during my time involved with the NTA.
While in high school in the early 80’s FTA had a writing contest for kids in the Fur Taker, so I took a shot at that and ended up winning it 3 times that year, each time getting a dozen 1.5 Victor coil springs. Elaine was the editor at the time and encouraged me to continue writing articles for the magazine which I did for a long time. Later on in the late 90’s I was contacted by Don Shumaker who was putting together a new trapping magazine called Trappers World, asking if I’d write articles for him. I agreed and was shocked at the lineup he had assembled for staff writers, I felt all out of place among them as most were my trapping legends I’d looked up to most of my life. What an honor it was to be listed among such greats as them.
As the 80’s wore on fur markets went south and coyotes invaded my state and in time I graduated from a gray fox trapper over to a coyote trapper. With the lack of trapping going on, all furbearers in my state populated past the breaking point creating problems for land owners, home owners and even people living in cities far removed from wildlife or so they think. I fur trapped and did some adc work here and there up until 2002 when I was hired on with USDA/WS where I have been ever since.
Now feral hogs are moving in to areas where they have never been before and causing all kinds of havoc on native wildlife as well as land owners. I see trapping them becoming more and more a need and I imagine in time trapper’s will be called on to deal with them as much if not more than they are on beaver, coyotes and such right now. Trapping them has been something new for me and like in every other trapping endeavor there’s a learning curve to get around. For the last 40 years though it seems about time I get half way good at trapping one thing I’m presented with something else that I have no clue about and start the learning all over again but that was what my attraction to trapping has always been, it’s never the same and you’re constantly having to figure out new things or animals teach you something about themselves you never knew before, it’s a never ending learning experience IF you keep your eye’s open.
It’s been an interesting journey and the ride’s not over yet. The people I have met who I looked up to coming up are now considered friends and some are even as close to me as my own family.
Jackie Malone as an instructor