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By ANNETTE HARVISON
A series of how-to hunting, fishing and trapping videos is building a bit of notoriety for a local resident and avid sportsman. But, while some of his viewers may get locked in on his perceived handicap, his focus and purpose for creating the videos is to share a passion for the outdoors that has led to a lifetime of fun and adventure for him and his family.
Casey McInnis, who lives off Miss. 29 just across the Jones County line with his wife Stephanie and son, Conner, said he has been enjoying the outdoors since childhood, and his experiences have instilled a lifelong passion for nature. Despite being born without arms, McInnis learned to hunt, fish and trap – and all the things that go with them – while out with his late father. Those skills and the love and respect for nature, is something he has passed down to his own son and is now sharing with others through his video series.
McInnis was born with a birth defect, but he hasn’t let that fact keep him from living life to its fullest. He had to find his own way to do things and his mother encouraged him to keep trying, which led to a strong determination for overcoming obstacles. When asked how he can accomplish so much with a disability, McInnis simply said, “you either do or you don’t.”
“My daddy had me in the woods since as long as I can remember,” McInnis said. “I love it all. Not just one thing. I’m addicted to it all.”
“God blessed me with the determination and will-power to do it. There’s a lot of trial and error, and the mind is a very powerful thing. Something inside me won’t turn off that switch.”
McInnis is the son of the late Hardy McInnis, of Leakesville, and Libby McLeod Garraway, of Ridgeland. He and his sister Lara McInnis Beard grew up in the Jackson area, but spent much of their youth in Greene County, visiting their dad and late grandmother, Amelia ‘Nana’ McInnis. Cases still owns property near Leakesville and visits regularly, enjoying the woods he grew up exploring and spending time with family and friends in the area.
Longtime friend Lee Taylor, of Leakesville, said that for as long as he’s known McInnis, he’s never viewed him as incapable of doing anything he gets in his mind to do. McInnis may have a different way of doing all those outdoor activities, but he typically always finds a way. Taylor said much of their youth was spent at a hunting camp, and McInnis was just another part of the group, doing all the things the rest of his family and friends were doing.
“I’ve never seen him as having a handicap,” Taylor said. “We all rode four-wheelers, hunted, fished and spent most of our time outdoors. Casey would be right there doing what any of the rest of us were doing.”
“Casey was one of the most determined boys you would ever meet, then he became one of the most determined men you’d ever meet. He is a perfect example of the old saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’”
Showing others the joys of the outdoors is something McInnis enjoys as well. A while back, someone suggested he make a few videos about his outdoor adventures to share on social media. He didn’t expect the response he got, including comments from viewers in Texas and even New Zealand and Argentina. He had no intentions with the first video they created, but it has become something more.
“It (the videos) started over lunch,” McInnis said. “Conner and Stephanie, and Conner’s girlfriend, coerced me into doing it. There wasn’t a plan. Now I feel like it can be a tool to help people get out and get outdoors.”
“They’re educational and motivational. People said they wanted to see me do more, they wanted to see me tie my hook. They wanted to see me set a trap, so I just kept doing it.”
Many outdoor enthusiasts producing social media videos usually focus on a single topic, such as bass fishing or deer hunting, but McInnis said he prefers to do a little bit of it all. The open space and fresh air bring him peace of mind, even if it is full of constant activity. He wants to show others the peace of the outdoors and how much fun it is to enjoy it with friends and family.
“I want to show all the possibilities of the outdoors,” McInnis said. “There’s healing in the outdoors. It’s peaceful, and it relieves stress. I just want to motivate others.”
“Everybody is going through something. And being outdoors gives experiences and makes memories.”
While McInnis enjoys all outdoor activities, one activity that he is particularly passionate about is trapping. McInnis said while he loves the sport of trapping, there is also the benefit of nuisance control, which protects crops, livestock, pets and even personal property. While there are state rules and regulations to follow, McInnis said getting into trapping is fairly simple.
“My son wanted to do something,” McInnis said. “I got him into it (trapping).”
“Trapping is something you can do and make a lot of noise. You can beat and bang around. You don’t have to be quiet like with hunting.”
McInnis said those with property deeded or leased in their name can trap wild hogs year-round. Fur-bearing animals have a season from November to March. Skunks, beavers, wild hogs, foxes, coyotes and nutra-rats can be trapped in our area.
McInnis said he’s been trapping a lot of wild hogs lately, and catches them using his own homemade contraption. He said it’s a box style trap, and while it’s not as high-tech as some, it gets the job done, and he does have a camera nearby that will let him know when he’s caught something in the pen.
“I cut everything out (for the trap),” McInnis said. “my friend’s dad welded everything together. It’s portable.”
While he isn’t out trapping every day, McInnis said at one point in his life, he spent about five years trapping not just on his property, but for lots of folks in the area. After he shared some videos of him trapping on social media, a few people asked if he could help them out, and then it grew into somewhat of a full-time gig. He was trapping seven days a week to keep up with the demand, getting up early to check traps in the morning and then resetting them again the same afternoon. When it all became too much, he stepped back for a while.
“I was setting up to 30 foot traps a day for coons,” McInnis said. “I got burned out.”
“I didn’t do any trapping for about two years.”
While getting into trapping is not difficult, there’s more to it than just setting out traps, McInnis said. It takes a little bit of work to make sure traps are set in the right places to be effective. That means knowing how the animals move through the woods, where their stopping places are, leaving an incentive for them to get near the traps and making sure there are no signs, or at least very few signs of the trapper left near the traps. McInnis said leaving no signs can be hard to do in the middle of summer. It takes a little time to figure out all of it, but it’s a great way to control the nuisance animal populations and enjoy time outdoors.
“You have to go scout,” McInnis said. “You have to learn their travel routes, look for footprints and scat. You find out where they’re running. You pick out a good obstacle to set it (the trap) by, like a tuft of grass or some kind of backing to use, and you put out a lure, like a scent gland or urine.”
“Then it’s a waiting game. We’ve caught stuff the first night, and we’ve waited 14 days to catch something.”
McInnis said some of the animals he has trapped have been mounted, such as a red fox, a silver fox and a coyote. His son Conner has a few hides as well. They use what they can from the animals they trap, though given the local climate, it’s hard to tan the hides properly.
“We have predators running rampant, and they are getting game animals,” McInnis said. “Predators have to be kept in check just like game animals.”
“Nobody is catching them, and they are becoming overpopulated. They can bring diseases. Trapping has a bad rep, but it’s not like that. There needs to be checks and balances.”
There are rules to trapping, including having a trapping license. If you own or lease your property, trapping tags are not necessary, McInnis said, but for trapping on other’s property, you do. And, at the end of the season, a survey must be completed on the season’s trapping. Without the completion of that survey, a new license will not be issued.
“I like to get out in the woods,” McInnis said. “Being outdoors is relaxing. Find something you enjoy, and once you do, I definitely recommend you take a young one with you. It could be life-changing for them.”
“Trapping is a great activity for kids. It’s loud, there’s hammering and stomping. Trapping is heavily accessorized, and it’s one of the funnest things.”
McInnis and his wife Stephanie have been married for 23 years. They met in college, and she said she has loved being in the outdoors with her husband, though she prefers deer hunting. Their son Conner will be a senior at Perry Central High School this year, and the family has always been active outdoors, with hunting, fishing, trapping and camping. His videos can be found at “Outdoors with Casey” on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.