From the high school playing fields to the lawn at city hall, on any given day you might find a white-haired, bearded man tromping through the grass. His self-imposed uniform is sure to be on, with his navy socks pulled high over his pant cuffs and his blue ball cap always on. In broad, white letters his moniker is emblazoned across the front, “Trapper Phil.”
Spend a little time with Trapper Phil and catch as many stories as you do furry little bounty. Now technically, Phil Harry is in the business of nuisance control. He traps small wildlife that might be destroying a yard or tearing through an irrigation line.
But when you have a man as upbeat as he is loquacious, the real catch comes in the conversations.
“I like to get along with people,” he said simply.
“I get bummed out when I run into somebody that has some hard feelings. But yeah, for the most part, I like to get out and meet people.”
Trapper Phil learned the art of the catch at 8 years old, growing up in Wisconsin.
“My dad said it was time for me to start earning my keep, so he taught me how to trap pocket gophers,” he recalls.
“And I would charge the farmer 25 cents for the gopher, the village would give me 20 cents for the gopher, so I made 45 cents for each gopher that I caught!”
Earning his keep had its rewards.
“With the gophers that I got, I could buy a lot of plastic models to put together... or sweet tarts. So that was pretty good!”
With his childhood in Wisconsin long past, Trapper Phil settled in Blaine as an adult and has offered his trapping skills in the north metro for decades. For many years, catching wildlife was secondary to his day job at the post office. He always considered it more hobby than money-maker.
“That's not what I'm in it for, I'm in it to help people,” he said.
“I've got this expertise and I can help them clean up their yard. And they have a nice yard and I feel good about helping them.”
But after a career with the postal service, Trapper Phil retired a few years back. His little side venture boomed. The traps he sets are designed so the animals don't survive, which he says is most humane. The gophers and moles he collects go to the Wildlife Science Center to feed rescued animals. Trapper Phil keeps record of every trap and every catch.
As for the number of stories he’s collected? That's beyond count.
Jennifer Anderson reporting
September 19, 2018
Contact Trapper Phil at 763-422-5181 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Wildlife Science Center here.