United Trappers of Kentucky, Inc. June-July 2009

President — Stephen Pickard, P.O. Box 52, Rockhold, KY 40759; phone: 606-528-2726; cell phone: 606-521-0968; e-mail: spickard1@bellsouth.net

Vice President — David Kriege Jr., 3513 Cowie Ave., Erlanger, KY 41018-1608; phone: 859-342-8109

Financial Secretary — Dave Dykes, 152 Mapleview Ct., Mt. Washington, KY 40047; phone: 502-538-3290

Executive Director
— Chet Hayes, 3951 Neises Rd., California, KY 41007; phone: 859-635-3102; e-mail: lhayes@fuse.net

Membership Options:

• Class A Kentucky trapper including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $25
• Family Membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $35
• Associate Membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Youth Kentucky trapper including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $15
• Lifetime Class A Kentucky trapper — $250

Complete membership application on first page of
association section and send dues to:
UTK, Financial Secretary
Dave Dykes
152 Mapleview Ct., Mt. Washington, KY 40047


Hello again all UTK members and other trappers reading this. It’s finally spring again and I’ve been busy reclaiming my garden from the bushes and Kudzu. I haven’t gardened in a few years, but since my back surgery I feel like I can make a go of it. I think it’s like trapping though. When you figure a new garden tiller, seed, fertilizer and time spent you have to count your fun high. I might be getting old or it might be a sign of the times, but I’m feeling a need to get back to more “real” activities and forego the television and computer.

I recently had a two-hour hospital test that required me to lay still and do nothing but look at the ceiling. During that time, I spent most of it reflecting on our organization, what we have accomplished and what we can do going forward. It only seems a few days ago we met at the Lloyd WMA and got the ball rolling. In reality, it was five years ago. I don’t really know how I assumed the presidency, but I came away from that meeting with the title. I was somewhat apprehensive to be considered the leader of a statewide group that was just starting out. Not only because I knew we would garner many members with our platform, but also there were men in the group that were leaders in trapping in Kentucky when I was a boy. I wondered if I could measure up to what they did for us during the tumultuous ’70s and ’80s. I guess in a lifetime there comes a time to try to give back to what you love and not just be a taker.

Our core concepts of working solely for trappers and trapping in Kentucky, working to get new trappers started, especially kids, and getting several needed regulation clarification changes have been a success. I knew we could get over 300 members the day we formed when the word got out about what kind of organization we were going to be. We have not been distracted by anything outside our state and our full attention has gone to defining and defending trapping in Kentucky. I think other states would do well using our approach to working with their game departments more and quit relying on someone to come to the rescue if there’s trouble.

The kids have been the real pleasant surprise. I really did not think so many would really be that interested in starting to trap with all the other “easier” things to do. I can tell you for a fact that they are starving for something tangible and real. So much of what they do is cyber-based electronics. To actually go out and make a trap set and catch an animal is as much a thrill to them as it was to you and I. I am seeing trappers that we started out getting others interested now. I really believe we have breathed new life back into trapping in this state.

Our standing with other outdoor organizations in Kentucky is fantastic. I have met so many people while representing UTK and have gotten so much good feedback about our group. Bob Fraley, who is the Kentucky Hunter Education President told me “UTK by far has the best education program for the kids out there.” I have touched base with many others in the RMEF, NWTF, Quail Unlimited, LKS and others. They have all been supportive of UTK.

Dave Dykes worked tirelessly on getting our 501c3 status as an incorporated organization. This has led to us being able to apply for and receive the commission permit for the elk hunt. This money will go entirely towards the Jim Ferguson Scholarship Fund. The bid is at $9,500 at this time. Many other things have occurred behind the scenes that probably 90 percent of our members aren’t aware of, but it all has been a positive for trapping in our state.

We have established a very good relationship with Jimmy and Heather Childress and NAFA. The fur routes are getting bigger and every piece of Kentucky fur that goes north helps UTK grow as an organization.

I have met many of our members and they are some fine people. I would never have met men like Leon Smith, Fred Stephens and his son Josh, Freddie Horn, Phil West and Robbie Hoover if UTK had never formed.

The only area I feel we have not been fully successful in is getting the trapper education classes going in an official KDFWR-endorsed program. We do have the five trapping questions back on the hunter education test, which lets every hunter know we are out there, but we truly need a structured trapping class to do it justice. I do think this is in the works and will happen.
I want to thank the KDFWR for being so easy and pleasant to work with.

You know, about all I ever hear are complaints about KDFWR, but just take a moment to reflect on Kentucky now and 20 years ago. Guys, all these new places to hunt and trap and the new or greatly increased populations of animals have not happened by accident. Somebody is doing something right.

Going into the future, I feel we need to be especially wary of so called “international standards” or best management practices concerning trapping. The next few years will be ripe with opportunity for this nonsense. The HSUS has already presented the new president with a wish list including not opening trapping on national wildlife refuges and phasing out those that do. I have stood firm in my belief that BMPs are deliberate attempts for us to have to admit that what we are doing is somewhat wrong and we need to make amends.

We do not need to apologize for trapping. The entire mood of the country has been apologetic lately. Trapping is an American heritage and we are very valuable in wildlife management. I heard that at a recent wildlife conference it was stated that BMPs were to be the salvation of trapping. It is extremely frustrating, speaking for myself, to not only worry about nutty antis but to also hear talk from our own ranks going along with these things. It seems that some people are making a career of this “new way of thinking” to ensure job security. It is baffling that American trappers would follow these ideas like lemmings and effectively allow ideas that 20 years ago would have been unacceptable, and 20 years from now we might be on the cusp of no trapping allowed at all.

It seems that there is only personal situational thought going into which trap is acceptable, like the man that uses Little Griz traps saying we don’t need #220s anymore and people in states that have limitations on trapping, sometimes self inflicted, saying everyone else needs to do what they did. Just because you don’t use a tool in your area doesn’t mean that it’s not another trapper’s favorite choice. This is a very evident example of how these things work. They’ll get this group to say this and that group to say that and before you know it all groups have lost. It is no other state’s business how trapping is managed in another state and certainly none of another country or group of countries’ business.

Why are we not considering regulating hunting with the same broad international brush that trapping is under attack from? Because it’s silly to say you can manage deer in Indiana the same way they are managed in Alabama. Why are bobcats unlimited in Tennessee and zoned for harvest in Montana? Because you can’t manage animals the same way everywhere. Why are trappers agreeing to cave in to demands from other countries? International standards would only serve to limit trapping rights in some way. Suggested BMPs always become mandatory BMPs in a very short while.

Also, as I predicted, the BMP process is evolving, or rather morphing, into areas such as deciding not only which traps we are allowed but whether or not a means of dispatching an animal such as shooting or drowning is acceptable. They are actually talking euthanasia now for trappers to have to employ. A snare is starting to not be “acceptable” unless it is just a restraining device. Western coyote trappers have been severely limited by cutting back on legal check days, making their traplines inefficient due to cost and time constraints. Anything, and I mean anything, that is international or attempted to be enforced through the UN will only take away our rights as American trappers and our sovereignty as Americans in general.

When did we as American’s start questioning ourselves and following other countries that are nowhere near the greatness of our country? It is a sad fact that international law trumps state law and our tools and equipment in Kentucky could be severely limited were these things to come to pass. We are only a half generation away from this country being totally different than most of us have known it. We need to wake up and see what is happening before our eyes. That will be my parting thoughts.

One of the stipulations in UTK is that there be turnover in officers and directors, by election if more than one is nominated, to take place. One of the worst things I have seen in my almost 30 years of organized trapping is stagnation in a group that results in boredom and inaction. Another thing I have seen is complaining that the same people are always in charge. I have come to realize the reason for that is that very few trappers are actually willing to be a worker in an organization. Being a member like yourself is what makes us strong and that is great and needed, but working officers, directors and turnover in an organization is a must. UTK has been very blessed to have so many good officers and directors these first five years and we need each and every one of you to remain members and keep us strong.

I have decided that it is time to step down from the president’s position and let some new life, ideas and inspiration to take my place. At this time, the only person on the ballot is the man I nominated and UTK will be in very capable hands with him at the helm. Stacy White will keep UTK active and interesting and I will still be very active in the education part of our message. I’ll still be at all the meets and meetings, keeping up the Web page (with Josh’s help), and talking up UTK on the Web sites. I just truly believe that turnover is important for the good of UTK as an organization and I believe it will prove to be true.

See you at the fall meet.

— Stephen Pickard


Things are busy as usual here and throughout the UTK. NAFA pickups for the May sale have been finalized. Though the statewide catch is somewhat light, we had more fur at the Crittenden pick-up than I expected. Mike Wilson in particular had a nice catch and the fur put up by Nathan King and Greg Bickel was really clean and nice. It seems the fur handling gets better and better each year. I did not see any fur at the pick-up that was not put up well and with care. Kentucky trappers are putting the fur resource to its best use and not wasting it.

Hunter ed. classes have started and here in northern Kentucky. We are signing up students for follow-up trapping workshops at a record pace. I have over 30 sign ups from just the first three classes. If this pace keeps up, we might have to have multiple classes up here this year.

We will also be very busy with the upcoming J.A.K.E.S. events, scouts, 4-H, etc. and we are always looking for your help as a volunteer. It is very rewarding and you will be making a positive contribution to trapping and the UTK.

Robbie Hoover is administrator for the James W. Ferguson Scholarship Fund and it looks like he will be very busy with this school year ending and another about to begin. The fund will be ready to begin soliciting applicants and awarding scholarships. I know Robbie will do a good job on this.

On Feb. 28, we had a meeting in Frankfort with KDFWR and the houndsmen to address concerns regarding the use of the 7-1/2-inch bodygrip (#220 conibear) trap on land. At this time, we are in a fact-finding and dialogue mode. We hope to maintain use of this very valuable tool without any undue restrictions. This is why we urge each trapper to trap legally, ethically and to use good judgment at all times.

We have also been advised that your requests for I.D. numbers on trap tags have been approved and included as part of an “omnibus” bill sent to the legislative. I’m sure it will take awhile to develop the system for these I.D. numbers and we’ll pass this info along as we get it. We had a lot of feedback from trappers requesting I.D. numbers rather than name/address. We appreciate this kind of input from UTK members as it makes it easier for us to understand how to serve you.

The Midwest Furbearer Conference was held in Frankfort, KY April 15-17. Several Sates were not represented due to travel or budget restrictions. In attendance were the states of Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, with Kentucky hosting the event. Laura Patton did an excellent job of organizing the conference and providing nice activities to round out each day after the business meetings.

Topics of discussion at the conference included bear research, mountain lions in the Midwest, river otters, wildlife poisoning, exotic ticks/parasites, illegal trafficking of wildlife & furbearers, BMP’s, trapper education, use of the #220 bodygripper, rabies, C.I.T.E.S., snares, furbearer “euthanasia” and more.

United Trappers of Kentucky was the sole state or national trapper’s organization in attendance, represented by Stacy White and myself. Stacy did an outstanding presentation on UTK success with trapping education in the schools of southeast Kentucky. We can certainly copy this success throughout the state in similar ways with a good effort from all members, directors and officers. Stacy and Steve Pickard and other southeast Kentucky members have certainly set a standard for the rest of us to live up to.

UTK was also complimented for its support of the rabies study program. Our trappers supplied a large number of heads for testing.

There is much to be gained from a trapper’s organization attending meetings of wildlife managers from various states. It gives us an insight into what’s going on around us, good and bad, in other states. It is an opportunity to express our concerns and ideas on a variety of issues, to adopt or oppose practices and ideas promoted in other states which we might or might not want in Kentucky. Stacy and I both agreed that we saw numerous regulations and mindsets from other states that our trappers in Kentucky would not want any part of. We left several folks from outside Kentucky with a clear message that we don’t support excessive regulation or rubber-stamp adoption of certain programs here. Reading the trapping regulations of several of these states is certainly a wake-up call.

All in all, the conference was very educational and I’m glad we attended. Thanks again to Stacy for his outstanding presentation. It made me proud to be a UTK member.

Until next month.

— Chet Hayes

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