Ventriloquist spends more time trapping than talking
(Reprinted from above link)
Mark Crocker is a ventriloquist who works as a trapper in his spare time.
When people discover that Canadian ventriloquist Mark Crocker works as a trapper in his spare time, they often ask if he ever throws his voice into a skinned beaver or fox pelt.
Crocker chuckles and simply says, "no." The two careers are completely separate.
Ventriloquism came first.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Crocker acquired his first ventriloquism dummy in 1977 from his late uncle, who had used the puppet to entertain in local bars.
As a teenager Crocker would sit on his front porch, talking to his new "friend" Chester, entertaining school children as they walked by. Word got out and soon Crocker was being paid as a ventriloquist for the local cub scouts and at area churches.
"It reached a point that I was working with strippers on a Friday night and doing a library on Saturday morning," he said.
"I was soup to nuts on this, but it was never my intent to be a job."
Crocker found what he calls "real jobs" in sales, the printing business and even for a time as a police officer. But his employment in the "real world" never panned out.
"Twenty years later after being downsized, restructured, laid off, bankrupt, born again I went, 'Okay, let's give this hobby a go.' And [ventriloquism] is now the longest job I've had."
In 2000, Crocker launched his full time ventriloquism career, entertaining on cruise ships, the Comedy Network and at private engagements.
Discovering a second career
Because he travels for work and isn't tied to any one venue, Crocker relocated his family to a lakefront property near Parry Sound in northern Ontario.
It's there he discovered a second career, from a neighbour who was a trapper.
"I thought that went out with the Hudson's Bay company," said Crocker, who asked his neighbour to show him the ways of trapping.
Before long Crocker took the 40 hour course to be licensed on his own trap line around his property. His quota is 60 beaver each year, along with coyotes, fisher and marten.
"Trapping is my day job," Crocker jokes. "Ventriloquism is my night job."
'This is not how I saw my life'
It's the night job that pays. The entertainment business paid for Crocker's home and put his two children through university.
Crocker says with such low prices for fur, he's just happy if he's able to break even with his trapping.
But that's not why he does it. He calls trapping a cool activity.
"You're outside," he said. "You've got a skill. It's quiet...and I'm doing my thing."
Even Crocker admits his two things, ventriloquism and trapping, are unusual.
"This is not how I saw my life. I was a suit and tie guy."