Summer of 2004, an expert trapper and trapping instructor, finds himself in a very dire situation. Inherent dangers, yes! Should be required reading for all trappers of all ages and expertise. This is his story.
Have you ever used the Belisle 330 Super X trap? They have proven to be one of the best traps my husband Ross has used. They have some of the strongest springs in the industry. He uses the 330's year round because of the animal control work he performs. The traps last and are excellent.
He often remembers thinking that "I would never want to get caught in one". They will hold a beaver no matter where it is caught. They are designed for humane and instant dispatch of the animal. He has always used the safety grippers when handling the bigger traps and has taught his students to do the same.
In August of 2004 (on his birthday), he was in a hurry to check some traps that had been set in an attempt to capture a beaver that was causing trouble in a remote industrial area. As he stood on the bank he could see that the trap was empty as the top of the trap was above the water level.
Something about it looked wrong, so he stepped down and closer to the trap for a better look.
The trap had a lot of algae and duckweed (green slime) clogging it and he wanted to remove it. Ross recalls, thinking he should get the safety grippers from the truck, but was in a hurry so he went ahead and unhooked the trap wire and got a hold of the jaws with both hands and lifted it up. The trigger appeared bent over but the trap was still set.
The rest of the story hurts to tell. He moved his right hand and in the blink of an eye the trap fired! It caught his right arm at the wrist, and his left hand was caught across three outside fingers above the knuckles. It's still hard to believe that it had happened so fast. The pain was horrible! He headed for his truck to get the trap setters, still not realizing that without at least one hand free, he would never get out.
He tried to get into the truck to use the cell phone for help, but could not even open the truck door, let alone dial a phone.
The reality of his situation, along with the pain and shock, began to set in. His mind quickly searched for any possible way to escape the trap, even to the point of somehow lodging the springs under the truck wheel, but nothing worked. He began to feel sick from the pain and was now going into shock. With the knowledge that very soon he would pass out, he got onto his knees and put his head down to keep the blood there, hoping not to pass out.
His eyes were fixed on the trap. You would think if your right arm was in the trap up to your wrist that you would be able to pull your left hand out, but no matter what he tried, nothing would work. Then while on his knees, a thought in the back of his mind, persisted … If he could get his left knee on the spring next to my his left hand, there could be hope for escape.
After several attempts he was able to get the spring down most of the way. He then held his breath and with a swift decision, jerked his left hand with all the power he had. As he pulled his hand from the trap over the top knuckles he felt the pain, as he broke two fingers. The howling was loud enough to wake up every creature for three miles. Now the trap was across three of his fingers above the second knuckle.
He knew that he had to repeat this and do it all over again. He pushed the spring down with his knee and again pulled as hard as he could, he managed to pull his hand free.
Again pushing down with his knee and using the ball of his hand, (the only part that was working at this point) he was able to swing the hook around and hold the spring. Thank goodness for the type of hook that Belisle uses on their traps, the hook stays wherever it is put.
He then got back to the back of his truck, and grabbed the trap setters. With much difficulty, finally getting the slots in the spring ends and then kind of rolled on the handles until the spring closed enough so that he could get the hook around with his left hand and hook it.
What a nightmare !!! He lay down beside my truck and cried. (So much for being a tough guy!)
When it was all over, he had broken the small bone in his wrist and 2 of his fingers on his left hand. His right hand had purple lines all over it which he was to find out later were exploded blood vessels because the blood could not return while being squashed in the trap.
As a trapping instructor he was embarrassed by his own carelessness but more urgently, was the desire to spare someone else, a repeat episode. Perhaps in reading this it might just remind others how quickly an accident can happen. Maybe you think it serves him right for being so foolish. What ever you think … Watch yourself … You will not believe how fast it happens !!!
Do not forget your safety grippers!
"This article is published in the November, 2012 issue of ALBERTA OUTDOORSMEN MAGAZINE"