As a young boy, I considered myself an excellent outdoorsman and a real hunter, fisherman and trapper. The truth, I didn’t own a gun or catch many fish, and I had to be the worst trapper in history. One entire trapping season, all I caught was a cold. It’s depressing for a budding mountain man to know he’s being continually outsmarted by the likes of a bunch of muskrats.
Morning after morning, I’d get up before dawn to check my trap line. Slogging around in hip waders and wandering through the dark guided by the weak, flickering light from my old, two-cell flashlight, I made my appointed rounds checking my muskrat sets. I spread the traps along a half-mile stretch of the Big Flatrock River in Indiana. If I didn’t spread them out, it wouldn’t take long to check the trap line, considering I had only four old traps I found in Grandpa’s barn.
With the wear and tear on my old hip boots, and the drain on my flashlight’s batteries, financially, my trapping career was an absolute bust.
About the time I was ready to call it quits, our neighbor Anderson Mantooth asked me how my trapping career was going.
Before I could tell Anders the muskrats on Flatrock River had advanced degrees in trap avoidance, he said, “If you catch a possum, keep me in mind. I’ll pay you 25 cents for a small one and 50 cents for a big one.”
Eureka … my little eyes had dollar signs for pupils! Old Anders had just made me a rich man! I knew I could catch possums. Possums were everywhere. Rush County was full of possums. Heck, sometimes Mom would hit a couple with the car just getting to town.
The bargain I struck with Mr. Mantooth gave me renewed incentive and confidence. Sure enough, I found I was able to outsmart possums.
All I had to do was get them into a gunny sack and drop them off on Anders’ porch. Soon the silver was rolling in. My best week, I racked up three possums. I sacked up one small one and two 50-centers. I was swimming in cash.
With the end of trapping season, I had made enough money to buy a kit to patch my hip boots, a new three-battery flashlight, and I’d saved a little too.
One day the following summer, Anders asked if I would like to eat supper with him and his wife Clara. Being polite and always half-starved, I readily agreed, washed up, and took a seat at the table. Clara’s kitchen always smelled good, but this evening, it smelled especially good.
I asked Anders, “What’s for supper?”
Anders just smiled and said, “Boy, it’s something special I know you will like!”
Clara opened the oven, pulled out a roasting pan and set the main course on the table. There looking at me while swimming in a half-inch of grease was one of the 50-centers from last fall!