One national organization for trappers would be better than two
At the recent National Trappers Association Convention, I got bushwhacked by two respected members of the trapping fraternity, people whose names you’d recognize. One is with the NTA and the other is with the Fur Takers of America.
They were perturbed that I’d had the nerve to say the trapping industry would be better served if we had just one national trappers organization instead of two (Editor’s Call, August 2013). In that editorial, I said two national groups was an unnecessary division of an already skimpy army, and it weakened us. I said that our dues and donation money could be more effectively spent if the two groups would either merge, which isn’t going to happen, or work together more smoothly, instead of arguing between themselves and duplicating each other’s efforts.
“You’re wrong,” the NTA and FTA guys said. “Look here, here’s the NTA and FTA having a friendly conversation right here in this aisle. The NTA and FTA have been working together through a joint committee for 15 years.”
They griped at me a while longer before I escaped, but neither said anything more substantial than telling me over and over how wrong I was. Neither mentioned any great strides their joint committee had made in those 15 years. You’d think they’d have led with that, but nope. Wonder why? Could it be there haven’t been any great strides?
Having two national organizations might not matter when you’re dealing with normal folks, but trappers aren’t normal. Look at Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl, for example. In the first place, there are far, far more waterfowl hunters than trappers, so the pool of potential members is deeper. Also, duck hunters are more likely to be “joiners” than are trappers. We’re the most independent of outdoor types, much more so than duck hunters, turkey hunters, deer hunters, bass fishermen or any other outdoor user group. If you’re a trapper, it’s pretty much required that you be an independent cuss as well.
And it’s this very independence that makes us resistant to joining any group, even one that shares our core values. That’s why less than 10 percent of all licensed trappers in the U.S. belong to any trappers organization at all, let alone a national one. We just want to be left alone to run our lines. So, when there aren’t many of us in the first place and we’re not likely to join in the second place, the result is a membership pool that’s too small to split.
It’s not that I think either the NTA or FTA are bad organizations. On the contrary, I’m grateful for both. It’s just that maintaining two infrastructures instead of one, having two paid staffs instead of one, putting on two conventions instead of one, working with two sets of lobbyists instead of one, printing two magazines instead of one, and all the other examples of duplicated efforts between the two groups is wasting money that could be better spent on education of the non-trapping public.
Driving one car toward a common destination is always cheaper than driving two. That’s all I’m saying.
Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.treblehookunlimited.com.
This column appeared in the October 2013 issue of Trapper & Predator Caller.
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