Arkansas Trappers Association March 2009 Report

President — Gary Helms, 1092 Vanderbilt Rd., Texarkana, AR 71854; phone: 870-772-3834; e-mail:

Vice President — Aaron Hitchcock, 9331 Sister Ln., Mulberry, AR 72947; phone: 479-997-8401

Secretary/Treasurer — Karen Davis, 1350 Hwy 70 E, DeQueen, AR 71832; phone: 870-642-3674

NTA Director — Mike Fischer, 13823 Masoner Rd., Lonsdale, AR 72087; phone: 501-939-2325

Editor — Bill Fields, 543 Riverbend Rd.,
Mammoth Spring, AR 72554; phone: 870-625-7457; e-mail:

Membership Options:
• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Family membership with subscription — $25

Complete membership application on first page of
association section and send dues to:
ATA, Secretary/Treasurer
Karen Davis
1350 Hwy 70 E, DeQueen, AR 71832


A big “Thank You!” goes out to all of the people who volunteered their time and energy to make this year’s Fur Sale, the smoothest run auction we’ve ever had. Everywhere I looked, people were pitching in and helping out with whatever needed to be done. From setting up the auctioneer’s table, to moving fur, to sweeping the floor at the end of the day. They won’t give me enough room here to list everyone’s name, and I’m sure I’d leave someone off the list if I attempted it.

 I do, however, want to personally thank our secretary Karen Davis. For “not having a clue” what you were doing, you did an outstanding job! Thank You! I noticed she was surrounded with good helpers throughout the day, as well. Randy Davis was our Fur Sale Manager this year. It was his first time, and he worked very hard to bring it all together. “Great job, Randy!…Thanks!” I also need to thank everybody that helped transport tables and chairs from the armory to the fairgrounds and back. When we opened the building on Friday evening to check things out, there wasn’t a single table in sight and it was too late to try to rent any. We checked with the National Guard Armory and they loaned us 20 tables and 40 chairs. We had to transport them ourselves though.

With some help, we got it done. Thanks go to the fur buyers that made the trip, the vendors that came and set up, AGFC for bringing CITES tags and all of the members who supported the ATA by bringing their fur to our sale.

No one should have been surprised by the prices at this year’s auction. The entire world is in a mess of trouble. It’s all over the TV and newspapers. The stock markets keep falling and all sorts of businesses continue to lay off workers or close down. As trappers, we put in a lot of time and labor to catch our fur and get it ready to sell, and it’s disappointing when prices are this low. If you’re only in it for the money, now would probably be a real good time to get out. But, if you’re like me, you enjoy it too much to quit. If I wasn’t trapping, I’d probably be deer or duck hunting, and I’ve never known anyone who made money doing either one. I’m going to continue to spend time outdoors with my family and friends each winter trapping. At the end of the season, I might not be able to show a profit for my efforts, but at least I’ll get some return on my investment.

As I write this, I don’t have the final numbers in, but I’m sure the ATA went in the hole on this year’s auction. The prices were way down, and so was the amount of fur. This was the least amount of fur I’ve ever seen at an ATA auction. But, with the economy the way it is, I wasn’t too surprised. We’ll just hope things turn around some and get better by next year. No sense worrying about things we have no control over.

I’ll have to post auction results in next month’s report. You should be able to view them by now on our Web site. Go to and click on Fur Sale. You can also click on Trapper Talk Forum, sign in or register, and join in on discussions with fellow trappers from across the state … and a few from other states as well. Til next month.

— Gary Helms


A cloud of uncertainty hangs over not only our nation, the whole world. These are hard times affecting everyone. We all hope that our new President can make some noticeable headway into steering us out of this mess. Meanwhile, our fur market and a lot of other commodities are facing some tough times just trying to stay stable; moving at a lower trade price in order to keep going. We, who trap and produce the wild fur resource, will just have to adjust and grin and bear it, hoping that next season will be better.

I have enjoyed this season a lot. Not rushing things, moving at a slower pace, taking each day as it comes. I just love being outdoors and try to make every day on the trapline an adventure. I have raised my catch rate-per-escapes a little this year on otter and this makes me especially happy. I haven’t land trapped much but used only water sets with a few bucket sets. The area where I can usually take a couple of ’cats was overrun with dogs this year so I did not set it up; maybe next year.

I am anxiously waiting for the February sale at NAFA to see if they can attract some buyers. I was actually surprised at the prices that were paid out at the January sale. None of my stuff sold, but I received a letter with sales results and they weren’t too bad for the amount of buyers that were present. Not only the worldwide economy crisis but also a warmer winter in Russia is no doubt going to affect the fur market. When it comes to the U.S. wild fur market, we must think in terms of “worldwide” because only a small percentage of our fur is used in America.

It has been a somewhat crazy winter so far with three day’s temperature in south Florida colder than Fairbanks, Alaska just last week. I believe that our weather here in Arkansas has been pretty close to normal this winter. Of course, I live in the northern part of the state so some of you in different parts might disagree. Those of us that are old enough to remember, some of the winters back in the ’40s and ’50s were extremely cold compared to now. Entire rivers would freeze over for weeks at a time. We also had lots of snow during that period. Either those winters were indeed extremes or we have had some global warming take place. I will leave you with your own thoughts on that. I just thought that I would throw in a “hillbilly” observation.

Good trappin’ to all.

— Bill Fields

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