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Kirk DeKalb's Trappin' Tales

Review by Jeremiah Wood.  The original review can be found here at Jeremiah's excellent website Trapping Today.

The trapping world is full of videos. Videos on how to catch bobcats, coyotes, beaver, you name it. In a sport and lifestyle where many young enthusiasts are thirsting for specific “how-to” information, trapping instructional videos abound. And I enjoy them. It’s nice to watch a meaningful video and pick up a few pointers here and there. But for the longest time, I’ve been searching for trapping videos that really entertain. I’m always looking for the trapping video that I can enjoy sitting down to when I’m not particularly interested in watching specific instructions. Believe me, these videos are hard to find. Mike Lapinski put together Wilderness Trapping, which really fit the bill, but the video is over a decade old! In between watching old tapes from Lapinski and others I’m constantly looking for a fun trapping video with high entertainment value. In Kirk DeKalb’s “Trappin’ Tales”, I finally found just the trapping video I was looking for.

Kirk DeKalb is arguably the top beaver trapper in North America. Working in Georgia, DeKalb consistently traps around 1,000 beaver each year, along with a hefty pile of otters. After eleven years of animal damage control work, DeKalb decided to begin sharing his knowledge and experiences with others through video, and brought in a professional videographer to spend a week on his trapline and record his experiences.

Trappin’ Tales is the result of a week on the beaver and otter trapline with Kirk DeKalb, compressed down to just over two hours of footage. The video follows Kirk to his individual sets and shows lots and lots of catches. I mean lots. The man pulls 89 beaver and 16 otter out of Georgia’s wetlands in an average week.

Trappin’ Tales starts out with Kirk in an interview setting, talking about the video and what he hopes to accomplish. The main point he gets across here is that he wants to entertain. Unlike most trapping videos, which are primarily instructional, this one is more of a show-and-tell. You’ll follow along on the trapline and experience a week in DeKalb’s world.

Day One on the line starts off really quick. Almost immediately, Kirk is slogging through the water and pulling beaver out of traps. The main focuses here are set location and getting a high volume of sets out. Many small details are not discussed, likely in the interest of keeping the video fast-paced and entertaining. Even though he didn’t spend a huge amount of time on the details, I did pick up a few valuable tips on set types and locations. I was particularly interested in the way DeKalb stabilizes his traps and places them in areas that I might have overlooked. I was also treated with an interesting story about a mean water moccasin on the trapline! At the end of Day One, Kirk has pulled in 12 beavers and an otter.

On Day Two, we get to see Kirk catch a beaver in a drowning rig that he showed how to set up the day before, and also hear a funny story about alligators. I start noticing a pattern in the way Kirk sets most of his beaver traps and think about how I might incorporate this in my beaver trapping. There isn’t much time to daydream, though, because the next thing I know Kirk is pulling more beavers out of the water and talking about alligators. There’s also an interesting catch of white-bellied beavers, a true rarity! A rain storm hits, which should make the beaver more active. A short Day Two ends with 11 beavers and an otter in the back of the pickup truck.

On Day Three, Kirk talks about the impact of temperature on beaver activity and about beaver being stolen or partially eaten by bobcats. We see lots more trapped beaver, and hear a story about how DeKalb broke his ribs and hand, and kept on trapping. The day ends with 14 beaver in the truck.

By Day Four, I’m enjoying following Kirk back to the same locations and catching critters day after day. This is especially interesting when they’re caught in locations where he made new sets earlier in the week. Kirk discusses in detail the destruction that beavers are causing to valuable cropland and infrastructure in the area he traps. I certainly appreciate this view, but it may be a bit conflicting to those who view beavers as a valuable furbearer and not so much as a nuisance. In Georgia, beaver pelts are worth very little. The main motivation for trapping beaver in DeKalb’s area is to prevent and eliminate the widespread damage they cause. Kirk really enjoys his job and feels strongly about controlling beaver numbers so that beavers and humans can co-exist without too much conflict. At the end of Day Four, the truck is loaded down with 15 beavers and 2 otters.

Trappin’ Tales ends with DeKalb discussing his love for trapping and the different aspects of being on the trapline. He truly does love what he’s doing, as you can tell by watching him on the line. Overall, the video turned out to be extremely entertaining, and I picked up a few pointers along the way. All of my trapping experiences have come from the northern U.S., so it was interesting to see the way things are done down South. It was also interesting hearing stories about water moccasins and alligators, dangers that I would never encounter on the trapline. The white-bellied beavers were a bonus as well.

The video quality of Trappin’ Tales was second to none. Picture quality is the best I’ve seen in a trapping video thus far. The soundtrack was also great. It was a real catchy tune that went well with the overall theme.

The DVD also contains two special features. One is an interview with DeKalb where he talks about what it takes to catch large numbers of beaver. He talks about the various aspects of ensuring that your trapline produces a profit. There are interesting tips here that can really help a motivated trapper. The second feature is a video of Kirk’s son, Taylor, skinning a beaver in less than two and a half minutes! This is something you have to see to believe. The kid is fast! Taylor pays his way through college with the money he makes from trapping. Kirk is obviously very proud of his son, and has passed on a great tradition and skill through him.

Overall, I feel that Trappin’ Tales is well worth the purchase. If you’re tired of all the run-of-the-mill instructional videos out there and want a trapping video that will really entertain you, try this one. You won’t regret it.


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