Minnesota Trappers Association January 2010 Report

President — Shawn Johnson, 6122 McQuade Road, Duluth, Mn 55804; phone: 218.525.4970; e-mail: mcquaderoadfur@msn.com

Vice President — Dave D’Aigle, 29765 Holly St NW, Isanti, MN 55040

Secretary — Linda Salo, 5927 McNiven Road, Chisholm, MN 55719; e-mail: linda.salo@mwcradio.com

Treasurer — Tricia Coons, 403 Wood Ave., Bemidji, MN 56601; phone: 218-444-8244;
e-mail: MTATrish@paulbunyan.net

Membership Coordinator — Kathy Peterson, 57124 Cty Rd., Northhome, MN 56661; phone: 218-659-4535; e-mail: kpeterso@paulbunyan.net

Director of Trapper Education — Deb Offerdahl, 14788 Lynx Rd., Milaca, MN 56353; phone: 320-983-6023

Mandatory Trappers Education Director — Shawn Johnson, 6122 McQuade Road, Duluth, MN 55804; phone: 218-525-4970; e-mail: mcquaderoadfur@msn.com

Membership Options:

• Individual membership including subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $25
• Junior (under 16) with subscription — $15
• Lifetime membership with subscription — $400

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

Greetings Trappers,

On the national front, I am happy to report that the latest lynx lawsuit in the state of Maine has been settled. The court denied the request for a permanent injunction that would have halted all land trapping in Maine’s lynx habitat. According to Kraig Kaatz, president of the National Trappers Association, “First, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) failed to show that foot trap captures caused stress or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to lynx that result in decreased long-term survival.

“Secondly, the standard in Endangered Species Act (ESA) cases is harm to the species not to the individual animal for issuing permanent injunctions.”

I thought PTSD was restricted to human combat veterans? Since when has this diagnosis been extended to animals as well?

It’s become obvious that a certain percentage of these animal activists believe that human pain and animal pain is of equal concern. This is a huge slap in the face to those who have sacrificed so much to even remotely suggest that an animal could suffer from anything similar to the emotional pain that our proud servicemen and women have endured to continually pay the price for our freedom. I’m outraged.

As most have us have realized from the start of this lawsuit nonsense both here and in Maine, that the organizations that sued our states in actuality cared little for the species they have been portrayed to care for so deeply. Their hatred for trapping in general and their obsession with the foothold trap specifically was the real motive behind their actions. The lynx was merely a convenient pawn in their failed attempt to eliminate trapping. They certainly didn’t do the lynx any favors with these tactics.

Hopefully decisions made in the courtroom will help deter these folks with “more dollars than sense” from wasting anymore of the court’s time and the taxpayer’s money, but I doubt it will quiet them for long. But at this time all is quiet on the legal front here in Minnesota.

Legal precedence in the courtroom such as this recent decision should ultimately benefit trappers concerned with protecting their sport into the future.

By the time this report is published, it is likely that the General Membership Meeting will have already taken place at the IREC building in Isle.

At the time of writing, we are still awaiting confirmation of sponsorship of our legislative agenda. I’m confident that we’ll have something concrete by the time of the meeting.

The formal information gathering on various trout “restoration projects” and the extent of beaver and habitat loss has been postponed until we have narrowed the scope of the information we require. The estimated costs associated with this move could be substantial and we want to be certain that we get the most for our money.

The following breakdown of fees should make our reservations against diving in headfirst crystal clear.

DNR Fee Schedule For Copies

Fees

• For copies of black and white, letter or legal size copies:

• Up to 20 pages, no charge

• More than 20 pages but less than 100 pages, charge 25 cents per page (including the first 20 pages), no other charges

• More than 100 pages, charge 25 cents per page plus any other actual costs including search and retrieval time and mailing

• Double-sided copy, charge 50 cents per piece of paper.

• For all other copies including colored pages, maps, videos, discs, etc. charge actual costs including any material costs, search and retrieval time, and mailing.

Search and retrieval time:

Search and retrieval time is calculated using the following formula:

Hourly salary + 20% for fringe benefits x hours to compile the data.

Mailing:

Charge actual costs.

Procedures

There is never a charge to inspect data. If the requester inspects the data and then asks for copies, fees apply.

Fees should be paid prior to receiving any copies.

Additional details will be forthcoming.

Don’t forget to plan for our annual convention this summer as we will once again be conducting our rendezvous at the Carlton County Fairgrounds in Barnum Minnesota. It’s a great facility with lots of room for campers/tenters with trees!

It appears that my weather “crystal ball” was malfunctioning when I wrote my last report. Steady rainfall and cool temperatures had convinced me that opportunity for open water trapping was going to be severely limited here on the North Shore. The first week was pretty much a wash (no pun intended) combining heavy rainfall and the flu running through the Johnson boys one by one.

The second week I was able to get out a number of water sets and although nowhere near the number I had hoped due to time constraints, as things sit today I have a respectable number of mink stacked like cordwood in the chest freezers. I don’t know if I’ll make it into triple digits, but things are coming pretty close.

That’s the good news. The bad news is no one seems to know where fur prices will be at prior to the first auctions. At this time on Nov. 27, the slower waters have begun to make ice at a pretty fast rate. Production has slowed to a trickle and the thought of expanding the trapline into new areas at this time doesn’t seem like a wise course to take.

But who knows, maybe things will warm up and be this way until Christmas? I’ve certainly confirmed that I have no knack for forecasting weather. I’m starting to look forward to this global warming phenomenon folks have been screaming about these last several years.
I for one have had a great time with it.

This was a season of firsts for me. This year I had the experience of “catch and release mink trapping” for the first time — an experience I have no intention of ever repeating. I’d taken a small mink in shallow water by a hind foot. Well, Mr. Mink didn’t have the decency to simply jump in the water and make bubbles like most of his kind do when taken in a water set.

Oh no, this little stinker decided to stay on the bank, wrap the chain around a bunch of weeds and wait to see what would happen. To occupy himself, he dug a tunnel in the bank and took a nap waiting to meet me. I came down the bank and saw him sunning himself on a rock near the shore (I think he was grinning) he let out a blood curdling scream that were no doubt obscenities in the mink language and dove into his tunnel spurning my arrival.

Like I had done on numerous occasions over the past 36 years, I simply took hold of the trap chain and gently attempted to suggest that he tell me what he thought of me face to face instead of calling me names and then running for cover just like a little kid who hit the neighborhood bully with a rock and then sped like lightning back home to barricade himself in the house. Behind locked doors and through the window, he sticks his tongue out and taunts.

This mink obviously viewed me as some sort of a bully and behind the protection of his tunnel he was sticking his tongue out at me and calling me names. Well, as fate would have it, the grip that #1 jump had on his hind foot was weak at best and unknown to me at that time Mr. Mink had apparently dug in for the long haul with absolutely no intention of coming out of that hole.

The tension I had placed on the chain was just enough for that old trap to surrender it’s hold on Mr. Mink’s hind foot at exactly the wrong time.

Time stood still.

In slow motion, Mr. Mink poked his head out of the tunnel he’d dug (I’m certain he WAS SMILING at this point) and launched himself out of the hole like a clown speeding skyward from a circus cannon. He then could’ve easily earned an Olympic score of “10” for diving as he entered the water barely making a splash before disappearing.

I stood there dumbfounded for several seconds then shook my head and declared him the obvious winner.

Coincidently, I ended up catching a mink by the front foot that was the same size, at that very location, in the same trap, two days later that just happened to be missing a tiny bit of fur off of two toes on his right hind foot.

I wonder if he decided to tempt fate just to stick his tongue out at me one more time and this time it backfired?

I’ll never know.

The second first was an unlikely double. I’d placed a pair of pocket sets near the corners of an old bridge on the downstream side of a small feeder stream. Wading upstream to check the sets, I could see from a distance that both traps were obviously sprung. As I got closer, much to my surprise, I saw that I had actually caught an animal in each trap. In each trap was a short-tailed shrew sandwiched between the jaws. A double!

I wonder what the shrew market is paying these days?

I also managed to pick up two star-nosed moles (both fully prime and I think extra large) on two consecutive checks in the same mink set at another location, but that really doesn’t count as an official double does it?

Although the volume of fur taken this November has been acceptable, the size of the critters has really gotten me baffled.

In the mink department, generally the take pans out something like 70 percent/30 percent male mink to juvenile or females. This year’s numbers seem to have been reversed. I’ve caught some of the tiniest mink I have ever caught in my life and loads of them!

The few ’rats I’ve picked up in mink sets have also been those tiny ones the auction houses call “mice” for the most part.

The ’coons have been running undersized as well for the first time in memory.

I also managed to pick up three otters in mink sets (none in the otter sets yet) all three small.

Coincidently, my wife Linda watched the same tiny bear from her tree stand all bear season. It’s doubtful that he would’ve tipped the scales at 70 pounds! We nicknamed him Boo Boo from the old Yogi Bear cartoons. (My 11-year-old Ian will be able to hunt bears next year so for Boo Boo’s sake, he’d better not put on a bunch of weight!)

Fall of ‘09 will go down in my book as “The Midgets of November,” but it sure was fun. I wonder how many tiny fishers and marten the boys and I will pick up this year? Maybe a dwarf bobcat or two to boot?

Linda and our three boys: Ian-11, Hunter-10 and Jeremiah-7 went on a surprise vacation to Disney World with my brother and sister-in-law this past week. So I’ve had the entire house to myself. They’re scheduled to arrive home Sunday evening the 29th.

Fisher marten season opens this Saturday, but it’s likely we won’t get any sets out until Monday afternoon when the boys get out of school. Ian (my 11 year old) has already called to inform me that under no circumstances am I to set HIS BOBCAT SPOT until he comes home. I really can’t wait for my family to come home, and it has little to do with the trapping season. Alone in an empty house ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Keep your skinning knives sharp.

— Shawn Johnson

MANDATORY TRAPPER’S EDUCATION DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Greetings Trappers,

The MTA will be manning a public education booth at the first annual Duluth Deer Classic in conjunction with the Duluth Boat Sport and Travel show this February.

Here’s an excerpt from Sam Cook Duluth News Tribune Outdoors writer on this event.

Promoters of the annual Duluth Boat, Sports and Travel Show have added a whole new element for 2010. The Duluth Deer Classic will be held concurrently with the boat show, Feb. 17-21 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. A single $8 adult admission fee will get people into both shows.

The Duluth Deer Classic will include mounted deer displays, numerous seminars and booths featuring products for deer hunters, said Randy Schauer, president of Shamrock Productions in Apple Valley, Minn., which produces the shows.

Official measurers for Boone & Crockett will be on hand to score antlers for hunters who bring in their mounted bucks or antlers, Schauer said.

The deer classic event will be held in the Lake Superior Ballroom and the French River Room on the second floor of the DECC, Schauer said.

Anyone who might be interested in helping, give me a call this winter.

As expected, demand for trapper certifications have arrived as last-minute license purchases have left some empty handed. Although the volume of students who realize that they require certification classes at the final hour has decreased over the past years, certain people still haven’t gotten the message to plan ahead.

In Field Instructors are especially needed at this time in the following areas: Blue Earth, Oak Grove, Oakdale, Canby, Campbell, Elrosa, Waseca, Crookston, Loretto, Hastings, Maplewood, Thief River Falls, Eagan, Houston, North Branch, Shoreview, Altura and Robbinsdale.

As you can see from this list, the majority of the need exists in the metro area although willing In Field Instructors are welcomed statewide. Now that things have slowed down for many of us, won’t you consider offering In Field Instruction for students in your area? Please remember that it is NOT a requirement that field instructors also be on the certified instructor’s list to provide this training. Simply contact me and I’ll send you a checklist for the training and the contact information for those students in your area. I never give students instructor’s contact information without permission.

Remember that instructional trapping videos are available from me if you’d like to incorporate them into your field work as well. A list of available titles can be found in the MTA Newsletter as well as my previous columns. Winter might also be a good time to plan to host a trapper education class either this winter or in the spring. Anyone with questions on how to offer a course is more than welcome to contact Deb Offerdahl or me for more information.

A special thank you goes out to the following for donating materials for the trapper education graduates:

Fur Fish Game
Fur Taker
Trappers World
American Trapper
North American Fur Auctions
Fur Harvesters Auctions
Cumberland’s
Minnesota Trapline Products
Gerald Schmidt
Ron Hauser

Have a great season folks and let me know when you’d be interested in hosting a trapper education course or In Field Training day.

Keep your skinning knives sharp.

— Shawn Johnson

DISTRICT 5 REPORT

Hello everyone,

The MTA winter meeting in the past has been at the Isle High School, but we were unable to get the high school this year so the meeting will be at the IRec Center in Isle, on Saturday Jan. 2.
Our District 5 meeting will be on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Johnson Fur Company in Willmar. They will be having a Customer Appreciation Day with the doors opening at 8 a.m. and our meeting starting about 10 a.m.

District 5 members will be receiving a postcard in the mail for this, be sure to bring your postcard with you for a special drawing for traps.

If there is anything you want brought up at the board meeting on Friday, Jan. 1, let me know.

Please keep Richard Raeker and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he battles cancer. I had a fund set up at the Freeport State Bank in Melrose for Richard and his family to help with medical bills and other expenses. If you would like to help out, the address is Freeport State Bank of Melrose, P.O. Box 232, Melrose, MN 56352. Please write Richard Raeker Fund on Envelope or check.

Richard will also be having an auction on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Freeport Community Center in Freeport, MN, right off Interstate 94. The auction will start at 12:30 p.m., the doors open at 10 a.m. There will be over 1,000 traps, firearms, mounts, collectables and outdoor equipment on this indoor auction. Please try to make it for this if possible, know he would appreciate your support.

Take care.

— Pete Jonas

DISTRICT 7 REPORT

Hello fellow trappers. I hope everyone is having a good trapping season. I’ve noticed that while out trapping, there are not as many trappers out as usual, at least in my area. In talking with some trappers, prices seem to be pretty low when selling green or on the carcass to fur buyers. This comes as no surprise as we’ve heard about prices being down all year. Reality has really set in.

With prices being down, now is a good time to think about donating to the tan fur project. You can donate your fur anytime throughout the year. You can also donate anyway you choose, whether put up, skinned out or still on the round. There are several options on getting this donated. You can take it to Mark Melby at Melby Furs in New London, bring it with you to the winter meeting in Isle, or bring it with you to the District 7 Spring meeting. As of now, the plans for District 7 spring meeting are being worked on. No date has been set. Please look at future publication for information on this meeting.

The winter meeting is Jan. 2 at the IREC building in Isle. The general meeting is at 10 am. Doors open at 8 a.m. with vendors, fur buyers and demos being put on. If you bring your furs to the winter meeting, you have many options to sell your fur to many different fur buyers, or sell to either of the two auction houses, or donate to the tanned fur project.

The annual pelt handling contest will be also being held. Bring your finished pelts to be judged to see how your pelts stack up to others from around the state. Whether you are new to putting up furs or put up for a long time, you can always learn something new on pelt handling to better your skills.

From my family to yours, we wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season!

— Leon Windschitl

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