Like you, I’ve had many questions about how to handle my practice through the years in the ever-changing landscape of the territory we call optometry. Lucky for me, a freak delivery of a certain magazine to my mailbox was my epiphany. No, it wasn’t Review of Optometry—although I do find our magazine both educational and illuminating each month. It was, instead, a magazine about trapping.

That’s right, fur trappers can tell us a lot about our profession.

This magazine has page after page of stuff you need to attract and capture foxes, coyotes, rabbits, beavers and assorted other vermin. Without said vermin, the trapper has no success. Sound familiar?

Stock Up on ‘Skunk Paste’
So, this magazine shows the trapper all the stuff he needs. Docs, we also need the right stuff for our critters… uh, I mean, patients! You have to be well equipped. Just as I could not practice without retinal imaging, a trapper could not trap without the correct lures, bait and urine. That brings up a second point. How’s your practice smell?

After reading about all the stuff we need, the trapping magazine typically has editorials about the current uncertainties in the fur market. Does this also sound familiar at all? Prices for muskrats, otter, raccoons and drill-mount frames are very soft these days.

The weather always affects the bottom line, in trapping and in optometry. Ask docs in Tornado Alley! Also, a lot of the fur demand is out of the country, and money’s tight with everyone when the government wants it all. Yes, that too is familiar. Too familiar.

And, how important is it to make coyote traps actually trap the ornery little canines? For comparison, your website has to grab the critters and not let them go unless they chew their leg off, which of course may happen if you don’t take their insurance.

And, how about the importance of fur grading? That cannot be overstated, but execution (pardon the pun) has to be subtle. I do NOT mean that you should treat varmint “A” any different than critter “B.” All furs are created equal when it comes to your best possible eye care. But, don’t spend 10 hours changing your successful office pattern just because one disgruntled groundhog ends up in the wild mink trap.

Now, every optometrist already knows that you’ll never attract the patients you want if you use the wrong formula. You might mix four ounces of honey with two ounces of fox urine. I am OK with that, but throw in any more than 10 drops of skunk paste and watch the waiting room empty. Trust me. I have tried it. Do NOT reinvent the wheel here.

Right in the middle of this month’s issue was an important commentary on “swamp boogers.” That alone makes this free periodical well worth the price.  

Last but not least, there’s page after page of trapper organization meetings, at which you learn the latest technology in an atmosphere of primitive camping. These meetings are just like West Virginia optometry meetings except everyone looks like a cast member on “Duck Dynasty”—at the West Virginia meetings, I mean.

To be a great trapper you have to think outside the box, but only long enough to figure out how to eventually get what you want inside the box. So, as always, don’t forget the skunk paste.