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Trapper with prey (1906)
Stripping a trapped lynx (ca.1981)

A trapper (from English trap " trap ") is a North American trapper and fur animal - hunter . The term is mainly used for men who were active during the first half of the 19th century during the last heyday of the fur trade in North America . The trappers of the Rocky Mountains are known as the Mountain Men .


A distinction was made between rangers , who sold the captured skins for their own account or for goods, and trappers, who worked for fixed wages for fur trading companies, including the Hudson's Bay Company and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company .

The equipment usually consisted of a deerskin suit, leggings made of cloth, fur-lined moccasins , a floppy hat or, in winter, a hood. Knife, hatchet, powder, and lead hung from a strap over his left shoulder. Typical trapper rifles were the Hawken rifles from the Hawken brothers from St. Louis . English, French, Spanish and Indian influences mixed in the language of the trappers.

The hunt took place in winter and spring. On average, a trapper caught around four hundred furs per season and earned between a thousand and two thousand dollars. A craftsman at that time made about five hundred to six hundred dollars a year. From 1825 summer meetings of the trappers took place every year .

Most of the skins were exported to Europe for fur clothing . In addition, so-called castor hats , hats made of beaver hair, were very fashionable in Europe at that time . The heyday of the trapper lasted until 1847, when castor hats went out of fashion.

There were various trappers, many of whom became well known, including Reuben Rawlings aka Old Rube. This appeared in some novels by Thomas Mayne Reid and is considered a role model for Karl Mays Sam Hawkens .

The North American trappers made a significant contribution to the exploration of unknown areas. Mostly they were the first whites to penetrate into areas inhabited by the Indian peoples. Many of these trappers had wives from different Indian tribes, especially the Shoshone , Crow and Hidatsa .

The hunt was sometimes so ruthlessly pursued by the trappers that in many places individual fur species were either completely exterminated or at least endangered. With the introduction of fur farming, later through changing fashion and therefore falling fur prices, the importance of trapping decreased considerably.

In 2006 there were around 150,000 trappers in the USA and around 70,000 trappers in Canada , most of whom only live from trapping temporarily and as a sideline. In the meantime, many animal species have been placed under protection or relocated in whole or in part. In Canada and the United States, hunting and trapping are supervised by government agencies.

Trappers in literature

Lewis H. Garrard (1847) and George Frederick Ruxton (1849) in particular provided detailed descriptions of the historical trappers . They were an extremely popular subject of numerous novelists, for example in the leather stocking stories by James Fenimore Cooper and several times with Karl May ( Old Firehand , Sam Hawkens, Baumann bear hunter in Der Sohn des Bärenjäger ).

Famous trappers


See also


Web links

Commons : Trapping  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Trapper  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Emil Brass : From the realm of fur , 1911, publishing house of the "Neue Pelzwaren-Zeitung and Kürschner-Zeitung", Berlin. Pp. 597-598
  2. Kate Galbraith: Back in Style: The Fur Trade . December 24, 2006, The New York Times