Many plants are found in the bayous. The water hyacinths were introduced in 1884 by
the Japanese during the cotten exposition in New Orleans. From that time they have gone
on to cover the swamps and bayous, often stopping all boat traffic and choking out life in
the streams.
Back on the bank or at home comes the good part. The cooking and eating. The
crawfish are washed in fresh water, then placed in a strong salt-water solution for about 5
minutes of purging, and then washed again. If one happens to fall out of the tub during
this process, you will notice as you reach down to pick him up that he will back away, like
many other crustaceans. Then into a pot of boiling well-salted water, lemons,
onions,garlic, cayenne pepper, and various herbs go the crawfish. It helps to be able to
peel the boiled crawfish as fast as you can, since you'll likely be competing for these

Louisiana leads the nation in wild fur production, and virtually all of these riches come
fromthe marshes and swamps of Cajun country:mink, muskrat, raccoon, with nutria
leading them all in total output. Muskrat used to be king, but back in the 1930's nutria,
not native to Louisiana, were brought to Avery Island from South America for research
purposes, whereupon, a hurricane swept through, opening the cage doors and increasing
the size of the laboratory. Fortune was on Louisiana's side this time, for the nutria adapted
well and unlike the hyacinth, to our advantage. The only serious predator of the nutria is
the alligator, against whom a watchful eye must be kept by the small furry creature. If the
trapper is setting a trap for mink or raccoon, he may bait it with meat; but the nutria are
vegetarians, caught by unbaited traps. The trapper moves slowly along a bayou or canal
bank looking for tracks. Where the animal comes to the water, the trap is set and then
covered lightly with leaves or moss. the steel traps are anchored to the long poles driven
deeply enough in the mud to hold the animal. Today a "hundred-dollar day" is an
expression often used by trappers when they get a good catch. Probably now matter how
many times one comes to his trap, whether it be for nutria, muskrat, crawfish, crab or fish,
there is a flicker of anticipation.
This skill that is tested practically in the wilderness is tested ritually at the Cameron Fur
and Wildlife Festival. If you would like to try your skill at trap-setting, don't Unless you
can set 12 traps a minute. Wait till next year. Just to show the world that the sturdy
frontier women who braved the swamps 200 years ago are still with us, there are highly
competitive women's muskrat and nutria skinning contests. Those pretty Cajun women
with the knives in their hands are skinning 3 muskrats a minute! These are women to
match their men.