Minnesota Trappers Association August 2009 Report

President — Gary Meis, 69555 One Mile Rd., Bruno, MN 55712

Vice President — Tim Bauer, 17290 155th Ave. N.E., Foley, MN 56329

Secretary — Liz Thom, 173 Prairie Lake Rd., Wright, MN 55798 e-mail:wlthom@frontiernet.net

Treasurer — Tricia Coons, 403 Wood Ave., Bemidji, MN 56601 e-mail: MTATrish@paulbunyan.net

Membership Coordinator
— Kathy Peterson, 57124 Cty Rd., Northhome, MN 56661; e-mail:
kpeterso@paulbunyan.net

Director of Trapper Education — Deb Offerdahl, 14788 Lynx Rd., Milaca, MN 56353;

Mandatory Trappers Education Director — Kenneth Olson, 353 Stearns Ave., Paynesville, MN 56362-1211; e-mail: mta-ed@clearwire.net

Membership Options:
• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Junior (under 16) with subscription — $12
• Senior (over 65) with subscription — $12
• Lifetime membership with subscription — $350

Complete membership application on first page of
association section and send dues to:
MTA, Membership Coordinator
Kathy Peterson
57124 Cty Rd., Northhome, MN 56661

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

It pleases me to open this report with some good news. Much to our pleasure, the DNR has agreed to two of our requests for law changes. As you may be aware, any person convicted of a trapping violation lost their trapping license. This has always perturbed trappers because the sport of trapping has been prejudiced. All other hunting and fishing sports required two violations (misdemeanors) in a three-year period before a license was revoked. Henceforth, trapping will be treated as all other hunting and fishing sports. You would only lose your license if you have two violations. To avoid any confusion, here is the exact wording of the new law:

Sec. 19. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 97A.421, subdivision 1, is amended to read: Subdivision 1. general. (a) The annual license of a person convicted of a violation of the game and fish laws relating to the license or wild animals covered by the license is void when:

(1) a second conviction occurs within three years under a license to trap furbearing animals, take small game or take fish by angling or spearing.

This law change puts trappers on equal ground with fishing and small game. I have often wondered why trapping was treated different. This is a great law change, but my advise to everyone is to play it smart and avoid any violations.

The second law change we were successful in getting is you are now allowed to carry a firearm with a light after dark. Here is also the direct language.

Sec. 50. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 97B.931, subdivision 1, is amended to read: Subdivision 1. Restrictions. A person may not tend a trap set for wild animals between 10 p.m. and 5 p.m. Between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. a person on foot may use a portable artificial light to tend traps. While using a light in the field, the person may not possess or use a firearm other than a handgun or rifle capable of firing only rimfire cartridges or .17 or .22 caliber including .22 magnum.

There you have it folks. Your MTA is always at work for you. Two more great reasons why you should be a member of the hardworking MTA. One word of caution on the second law change, you must have gone through gun safety to have a weapon in the field depending on your age. Now the youngsters and even some of the older trappers can dispatch some of the more aggressive animals such as coyotes and skunks without fear of getting bit or sprayed.

As you read this report, the MTA convention is coming up fast. This will be your last reminder to get your MTA raffle tickets in right away. As I repeat over and over, this is the only major MTA fundraiser we have and 100 percent of the proceeds go to youth education and related projects. This is the future of trapping folks. Don’t delay another day, please fill out the stubs and make your check out today and send them to my home. Also on a final note, I must address those who have sold incentive tickets. If you have not informed me as to what your incentive gift is, please call or write me right away and inform me. Every year, we have folks who forget to inform me of their choice and they end up with a gift certificate. I want you to have what YOU want as you earned the gift.

The convention appears to be shaping up nicely. Ray and the District 1 convention crew are working hard to make this 50th anniversary of the MTA the best convention ever. The demo list is awesome, lots of activities for the ladies, kids’ games, two auctions, close to 100 vendors both inside and outside. Conventions coordinators Cory and Deb as well as Ray are working overtime to insure everyone is well entertained and has lasting memories of this event. Mark down Aug. 14-16 and be at the St. Louis County Fairgrounds in Chisholm, MN. You won’t regret it.

I received word from Gabby, who along with his title of District 8 director is also the MN representative to Fur Takers of America (FTA) that he attended the FTA convention in Arkansas and is proud to report that our MTA came away with three awards.

They are as follows:

American Heritage Award: This man could be considered one of the most devoted consumptive use people in the country. He took the bull by the horns in winning his state’s lawsuits. He represents trappers not only in his state, but all around the country. He does all of this for no cost to the trappers for his time. He well deserves this award. At this time, I would like to present the American Heritage Award to Gary Leistico.

Distinguished Services Award: This man is a furbearer biologist and a trapper. He is a member of the AFWA Fur Resources Task Force and is honest and forthright. He is a hard worker and a square shooter, with his efforts good for all trappers. At this time, I would like to present the Distinguished Services Award to John Erb.

Affiliate of the Year: This affiliate deserves this award more than any other affiliate. They were up against the anti’s to stop trapping in their state. They took a strong stand and won against great odds. It took them over two years to do this. At this time, I would like to present The Affiliate of the Years Award to the Minnesota Trappers Association.

 There you have it folks. These are the words of the FTA and all 2,700 plus members of the MTA should be very proud of your MTA as well as our Legal Counsel and MTA member Gary Leistico and MN Furbearer Biologist and MTA member John Erb. Isn’t it great to be recognized as the best?
This being my last report as your MTA President, I would like to ask that from the time you read this report and forward that any donations you may send for the Legal Defense Fund, please send them to the next MTA President. This will obviously be either Ray or Shawn. The MTA will always be in need of funding when it comes time to fight any battles that threaten our privilege to trap.

The MTA is rich in history when it comes to fighting for trappers’ rights, but it takes money to take on these fights. I again want to thank everyone who in the past has sent in money to the Legal Defense Fund and I feel real good that the membership will continue to help in the future. Please remember that the entire country is susceptible to attack from the anti crowd.

Where they succeed in one state, they will follow pattern in another state. Where we defeat them in one state, we weaken them and use the strategy elsewhere. If you recall in my last report I instructed the MTA Financial Secretary to send $500 to the Connecticut Trappers Association to fight SB 994, which would have essentially banned all foothold and bodygripping traps. Due in part to the Connecticut Trappers Association and our parent NTA, FTA and the USSA as well as other trapping groups the billed was fought and died a good death. Not to be defeated easily, the anti crowd had the bill attached to two separate bills as amendments to yet another house bill as well as a senate bill. We continued the fight and their Legislative Session is now over and none of the bills passed.

None of these battles are fought for free, it takes money to fight and I fully trust the membership to lend a helping hand in all battles. The latest people to send in cash are Tom Carr of Stillwater who sent in $20 and Ronald Brockamp of Isanti who sent in $30. Myself, and the MTA thank you both for your generosity.

Speaking of the above mentioned donor Ronald Brockamp, I would like to pass along an example of a man who sets good examples. Both I and Dave D’Aigle had students who needed their infield class to get their names in the ELS system. I drove down to Isanti to help Dave with the class and one of the students was Ronald Brockamp, a middle age man. Ronald stated that he is a new trapper and wanted to learn to do it the right way and avoid mistakes that beginning trappers make that can cause a bad name on the sport. Ronald not only participated in the class, but the book part also.

Showing his gratitude he gave each student a couple of gopher traps and donated other items to the MTA. This is what I call a dedicated and caring person.

As I have stated, I will not be running for the presidency again. I have served with some of the finest people in the world. I can’t and won’t mention names as there are so many that if I left one out it would haunt me. I will only say that Tim Bauer has been a rock as my Vice President as he stood by me through thick and thin and was always there to talk things over with even when we disagreed.

Of course, my wife Betty has to be recognized as this job would be absolutely impossible to do without an understanding wife. I won’t get into the details, but if you don’t have an understanding spouse or significant other you cannot perform this job. It is not easy to leave a position that you are passionate about, but as you read this report it will be my last. This is the greatest trapping organization in the country and I want to believe I helped make it the greatest. They say that good organizations are comprised of 90 percent good members. I say that the MTA has 99 percent good members.

The odd 1 percent can, well, just read my mind. I don’t plan on leaving the board altogether. Should the next administration and the MTA board allow me to, I might stay on as the raffle chairman. In closing, I ask that everyone please continue to believe in and support tour MTA and as always, be safe.

— Gary Meis

MANDATORY TRAPPERS EDUCATION DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Greetings Folks,

As expected, demand for trapper education classes has slowed down considerably, but a trickle remains at this point. A special thank you goes out to those who have hosted classes since last winter as well as those who have scheduled classes yet to come. I continue to be impressed by the willingness of so many to provide this opportunity to young people in their MTA Districts.

You have done exceptionally well at filling in the gaps around the State. As a result, a greater percentage of young people have the advantage of learning in a classroom and field atmosphere as opposed to the correspondence course, which proves to be generally adequate in most situations but far from the ideal. In Field Training, instructors play such a vital role in making the best out of a difficult situation.

Thank you so much for your willingness to step up to these challenges.

Since I acquired this position last winter, I have noticed several tendencies among student groups.

At this time (6/26) the breakdown of student progress looks like this:

Students who have manuals and have yet to complete the written exam – 30

Students who have taken the exam but haven’t completed In Field Training – 5

Students who have In Field Training arranged but haven’t completed it yet – 12

Students inactive (Sent follow up letters to each individual-no response) – 20

Successful Graduates from the Program Correspondence – 52

Successful Graduates from Classroom Instruction – 82

I’m also happy to report that due to the dedication of MTA Certified Trapping Instructors, the number of students taking the classroom training has finally surpassed those who have taken the correspondence course option. Advertising class opportunities by District on the MTA Web site has no doubt been a key component in directing perspective students to the classroom. Placing more responsibility on the student to find classes and receive their certification appears initially to be paying off.

Twelve year olds that would like to deer hunt during the firearms season don’t generally wait until the week before the season opener to search for a firearms safety class! They plan ahead. We’re seeking to ultimately do the same with the MTA’s Trapper Education Program as well, to put the bulk of the initiative on the student to find classes rather than tailor making classes to fit the student’s convenience (i.e. Correspondence Course). The correspondence course serves a vital role in certain circumstances to provide opportunity for licensure, however we want to guard against making a “home study course” the primary path to certification.

The “easy way” is not always in the best interest of the student, the resource or the sporting public. Streamlining these course opportunities appears to be the correct approach. Thanks to several committed members, a “task book” is being developed for the In Field Training portion of the program to guide instructors (and students) in making an attainable standard of minimal student proficiency in ethical trapping techniques and field competency. Hats off to Walt Gessler and proponents of such a system such as Frank Brula for their comments and contributions to this move.

On a related note, please send your graduate list (registration forms) to me as soon as you can after hosting a class so I can submit these names to the DNR for inclusion in the ELS system. The State has a lag time of up to 10 business days before the student’s names are “in system” the sooner I can get the information to them the better.

After correcting a large number of correspondence student exams and even though the exam is an “open book type” with the correspondence students, I am surprised that I have only corrected ONE perfect paper thus far with no mistakes!

Five or six wrong appears to be the average score.

The following are the true/false questions the majority of the students seem to trip on.

“The main purpose of a fur stretcher is to make a pelt larger than its natural size so that it will bring a higher price.”

“Timber wolves average over 100 pounds.”

“Coyotes frequently hunt in packs”

“Rusty traps should be greased and oiled”

“The timing of fur primeness is mainly dependent on temperature changes”

“The value of a pelt depends only on how prime it is.”

“When drying furs, the warmer the drying area the better.”
 
Perhaps classroom instructors have observed different tendencies.

I couldn’t help but notice that Tyler is by far the most common student name.

To end this report with a smile, the most common mistake found on the registration forms proves to be in the COUNTY box. Although I don’t have an accurate count, hardly a week goes by when I don’t receive a form where USA is written!

Keep your skinning knives sharp.

— Shawn Johnson

DISTRICT 5 REPORT

Hello everyone,

I have the date for the Boy Scout Trailblazers event this fall at the Scout Camp in Fairhaven. It will be on Saturday, Oct. 10. We’ll start to set up our booth and displays at 8 a.m. They are expecting around 5,000 scouts and parents. If anyone is interested in helping out, give me or Deb Offerdahl a call. We will be doing land demos, showing the different traps we use, as well as the destroying the myth video. We will also have tanned fur on hand.

District 5 will be having a trapper education class this fall. The tentative date is Friday, Sept. 18, the class will be two sessions. The second session will probably be the following Friday or Saturday. If anyone is interested in taking the class or helping with a class, call me at 320-236-2410. If no answer, please leave a message. I will get back to you.

At this year’s MTA convention, District 5 has gate duty on Saturday, Aug. 15 from 3:45 to 7 p.m. and will be working behind the MTA booth on Friday, Aug. 14 from 1:45 to 5 p.m.

Please try to help out if you can. We do appreciate it and if you can give us four hours of your time, we will give you a volunteer t-shirt.

I will be be doing a kids water demo on Friday at 3 p.m. Each kid that attends will receive a free trap. I usually get the kids down to the water demo area and show them a few water sets that work good for me, and then I will let each kid make the sets themselves.

This is an election year for president and vice president, directors and co-directors. If you cannot make it to the convention to vote for president and vice president, please fill out the ballot on page 3 of the June MTA newsletter and mail it in. The address is on the ballot and it must get postmarked by Aug. 1, 2009.

The directors and co directors will have elections at their first fall or winter meetings after the convention. I will be running again this year.

Take care.

— Pete Jonas

DISTRICT 7 REPORT

Hello fellow trappers! The trapping convention is fast approaching. It will be here before we know it. The work times for District 7 are Gate Duty: Friday 11:45 a.m. – 4 p.m. We are at the MTA Booth on Saturday from 10:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. We will have a short meeting on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. outside the main building.

On Saturday, Aug. 29, Schmitt Enterprises will be having an Open House. District 7 will be having their Fall Meeting there. Doors will be open at 9 a.m. The meeting will be late morning. Lunch will be served. Gerald is having John Graham from Montana coming in to do a demo. Other demos will be throughout the day. Please watch for additional information in the upcoming month. Postcards will also be sent out. A list of demos and activities will be on the postcards.

For those of you that are not familiar with John Graham, he is the owner of Fur County Lures in Jordon, Montana. He is also co-owner of Montana Traps. He is well known for trapping bobcats, coyotes and fox. He has done demos at the National Conventions, as well as many state conventions.

I hope to see you at these events.

— Leon Windschitl

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