Minnesota Trappers Association November 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,

Where has the summer gone? Yet again I find myself mere weeks away from the opener with my equipment pretty much in the same shape as it was when I pulled my lines. Shameful. I’ll be playing catch-up until the opening bell from here on out. You’d think I’d be better prepared after all these years.

NTA Convention?

Most of you are unaware that the MTA was approached to consider placing a bid to host the 2012 National Trappers Association Convention. A committee was formed to look into possible facilities and the Steele County Fairgrounds and adjacent facilities proved to fit the bill. The NTA folks are considering the grounds and are talking with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to look into the details. Although things are far from nearing any kind of contract things are looking promising thus far. In the event that the MTA is successful in this bid, it will take a tremendous amount of manpower to make this thing a go. An incentive program is currently being developed to encourage more volunteers. Details to follow as they become available.

Extended Snare Check?

Just to bring everyone up to speed, the membership approved pursuing and extended snare check requirement for non-drowning sets in the Forest Zone to three days. This issue has a long history and the DNR’s traditional opposition to it does as well. Many factors are at play here not the least being the epidemic of untagged and/or untended snares left on public land, primarily in close proximity to roadsides. This has historically been the main reason DNR has historically pointed to in their opposition to an extended snare check requirement.
Unfortunately a small minority of people in the woods who apparently care little for the law or the animals they target have repeatedly stood in the way of any meaningful change in this rule because of their illegal behavior. Everyone else suffers the consequences.

The second area of concern lies with the reliability of snare use and the varying degrees of expertise between trappers. While many trappers firmly support the contention that snares are nearly as lethal and effective as bodygrippers, trappers that regularly use snares on land targeting furbearers must also take other factors into consideration and take reasonable precautions to avoid situations that bodygrippers are generally less susceptible to. I hesitate to spell them out and give anti trapping advocates any further ammunition but we all must admit that snaring is not comparable to trapping with bodygrippers in all situations.

Perhaps if the MTA took an active role in educating the trappers in the field in the most selective and respectful way to use these tools, the DNR might be more open to discussing extending the check requirement? Maybe even a snaring certification for individuals? What if the MTA membership took an aggressive role in advocating stiffer penalties for untagged/untended snares and really put some work into making things happen?

If we take honest steps to do things right and stop turning a blind eye to abuses that we see in the field could we really make a difference?

But most important, I truly believe that there are members of this Association that can have a tremendous positive influence on other trappers behavior in the field. This could be the beginning…

This is just food for thought to start some serious discussions-I’ll leave these questions up to the membership to chew on and discuss at their district meetings.

Legal Defense Fund Banquet

By now most of you have heard that the MTA will be hosting it’s first Legal Defense Fund Banquet on the evening of January 8,2010 menu items include beef prime rib, ham and baby shrimp served buffet style. This event is designed for ladies as well and an evening out without the kids. Prizes, silent auctions and games to enjoy. Tickets are $35. each and are nearly all sold at this time. IF you’d like to attend, please contact Gary Meis for more information 320 838 1570.

We are hopeful that through the hard work of so many individuals funds will be raised to defend our freedom to trap here in Minnesota for many years to come. Please set aside some of that fur check for this worthwhile event.

Some folks are already contributing to the cause.

Thanks go out to Barry L. Warner of Dallas Pennsylvania for his $100. donation to the Fund as well as to District 7 who collected $159. through a free will offering at Gerald Schmitt’s during the District 7 meeting.

Also thanks to Rollie and Joyce Aho from Fergus Falls who made a $50. donation in the name of Rollie’s dear friend and fellow trapper instructor Alden Hultin of Fergus Falls who passed away recently.

We also appreciate the contribution Ron Brockamp of Isanti made to the Legal Defense Fund as well.

You folks are well aware of the seriousness of the task before us, thank you for your donations.

Retirements

The MTA Board of Directors thanks Deb Offerdahl – Education Director and Wayne Thom – NTA Director for there many years of service to the MTA.

Unfortunately, both have resigned there positions on the Board in order to pursue their individual careers more fully. I have worked beside these fine individuals for years and I know their presence and perspectives will be sorely missed. Best of luck to both of you and thank you for your service and your friendship.

On a final note for this issue, please review the new edition of the MN Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook before heading into the field this season. Changes in fisher/marten limits, head collection, weasel boxes, bodygrippers and reporting incidental catches just to name a few deserve your attention.

I’ll see you in Isle!

Keep your skinning knives sharp!

— Shawn Johnson

EDUCATION COORDINATOR’S REPORT

Greetings Trappers,

There have been one thousand six hundred seventeen graduates of the Trapper Education Program as of today’s date.

Some History

Beginning in January of 2007 the Trapper Education Program became a mandatory requirement for all prospective first time trapping license holders born after December 31, 1989 and the MTA has been carrying the ball successfully ever since.

All of this would be impossible if it were not for those dedicated individuals that take the initiative time and time again to provide opportunities for new trappers to complete the certification process and enter the field better prepared to take animals efficiently and respectfully. Thanks to all of you that made it happen.

During the last three years we’ve learned a great deal about what works well and what doesn’t and the Program will reflect what we have learned as it is improved and streamlined over the years to come.

When the MTA initially embarked on compiling a list of instructors, the goal was a simple one, recruit as many volunteer instructors as possible in order to prove to the State and the DNR that the MTA had the capacity to fulfill this obligation to provide instruction statewide in accordance with our agreement with the DNR. This goal was accomplished and the MTA jumped into the Education “business” with both feet.

During the time that has passed, it has become apparent that the vast majority of those certified instructors have little time available to host trapper education classes or even to assist another in doing so. Sadly, some have little interest in hosting trapper education course at all.

Instructing the Instructors?

It has also become apparent that the MTA needs to streamline and better define what minimum qualifications a certified instructor should be expected to possess. The process for becoming certified up until this point has been an extremely liberal one. Instructor “classes” have been offered twice a year around the time of the annual summer convention and the general membership meeting each year. All that was required was for a prospective instructor to attend one of these short workshops where information was shared on advertising classes, tips on handling young people in a classroom atmosphere and some suggestions on teaching techniques shared by experienced instructors.

In all reality, “instructor certification” had really become “teaching guidelines.” By “certifying” instructors, the Association is in effect saying that this person has met some minimum standards set forth that qualifies them to lead a class. Currently there is no such standard. Instructors and the students not to mention the MTA and the DNR should expect more. I believe we have an obligation to raise the bar and set forth some minimum qualifications in order to “certify” instructors in the future.

I will be asking the MTA Board of Directors to consider the following recommendations:

Instructor “certification”

Modeling our Trapper Education Program after the DNR’s Firearms Safety Instructor Certification Program is a positive step in the evolution of our program.

The process need not be burdensome and must extend opportunities for those that are interested in becoming certified instructors far beyond the traditional pair of short workshops offered twice a year. Eventually as the years progress, all first time trappers will eventually be required to complete the Trapper Education Program and we best be prepared to meet that demand.

An online option is in the works to offer more opportunities for those that have a real interest in becoming a certified instructor and hosting classes.

Incorporated into this certification system will be a simple test that instructors must successfully complete in order to become certified. Questions that focus on ethics and the game laws will be a top priority as well as an across the board general knowledge questionnaire The final step will be for the instructor to sign a “Code of Conduct” that spells out what is generally expected of an instructor as far as acceptable behavior and ethical conduct. Teaching techniques and various tips and suggestions that were the bulk of the former “instructor classes” will also be provided as well. Eventually, I would like to see all of this incorporated into all the Instructor Certification Course workshops we will continue to offer.

We’re not looking to make Harvard professors out of trappers folks, but rather to insure that students are receiving the best possible instruction in ethics, safety and harvest techniques for the benefit of the students, the MTA and the sport.

Because our responsibility to provide Trapper Education Classes to the public is one that we sought and embraced, it is also our responsibility to provide quality instruction to those students through the guidance of certified instructors that have the knowledge and integrity to provide it.

Trapper Education Correspondence Course Online

The online option made available to students in order to complete the written portion of the coursework has been a resounding success over the past year. For various reasons there are instances that prevent a student from participating in a traditional classroom course and the correspondence course option has served as the next best solution. However, the cost of postage in order to get the required materials into the hands of students was multiplied many times over as the number of students that chose this option continued to increase.
 Out of necessity, postage became a large consumer of our Education funds. That is postage alone not taking into consideration the cost of printing manuals, purchasing notebook binders, certification cards, shoulder patches, NTA Trapping Handbooks etc.

Due to increased demand to offer the correspondence course option online as another option- this alternative a program was implemented. It has surpassed all of my expectations. Granted, there are occasional bugs that need to be worked out along the way, but generally speaking this alternative has been very well received.

Over the past year, nearly sixty percent of correspondence students have elected to take the online option which has saved the Association a substantial amount of money that now can be spent in other areas for Education. That’s the responsible thing to do with the funds that are generated through the hard work of the membership in selling Raffle tickets as well as revenue generated through the Tanned Fur Project for Education.

I personally thank all of you that have hosted Trapper Education Courses this year as well as those that provided In Field Training for correspondence course students. This year a record was set for the number of classes offered across the state- nearly thirty which is not counting those instructors that took it upon themselves to quietly conduct classes for two or perhaps a half dozen neighbor kids by taking them under their wing.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank John Salmonson from Cannon Falls who donated $250. to the MTA Education Program through his employer.

I look forward to see how the MTA and DNR’s joint Trapper Education Program continues to develop as time passes. I’m certain that the membership of the MTA is up to the many tasks and challenges that lie ahead.

Keep your skinning knives sharp.

— Shawn Johnson

DISTRICT 1 REPORT

Greetings trappers,

I hope everyone is enjoying these cooler crisp days of autumn. By the time you read this our trapping seasons will be close to beginning— ahh the long wait will be finally over!
District 1 had it’s fall meeting Sept. 11 in Cotton. We covered many topics and the meeting was well attended. Among those attending were past MTA presidents Don Bolen ( 1965- 1967 ) and Dan Croke ( 1985- 1989 ) it was quite an honor to have them present! John Erb put on a very informative presentation on our registered species harvest data and population trends, in particular the declining fisher population and he had many ideas on why this is happening. His studies are continueing and hopefully will result in answers to reverse this trend. Jerome Blazevic came up with an idea that at every District 1 meeting someone come up with a trapping or fur handling tip to share with those in attendance. Good idea Jerome! The next district meeting will be in March so keep this in mind. We also discussed how to increase MTA memberships and retaining members. Some of the ideas we came up with were, more article writting by members in Outdoor News and other publications– I know we have many good writers out there– lets start using our talents and share our experiences with others, also placing adds in local newspapers advertising our district meetings– our district is large so if you have a small town newspaper please let me know. Having booths at sportsmens expos and outdoor recreation days at area schools when we can. I would like to make it clear that non-members are always welcome to attend our district meetings.

I’d like to thank my wife for putting on an excellent lunch, to Fred Precht and Dale Torma for helping out with the set-up and clean-up and to Minnesota Trapline Products and Smokey Reds Snare Supply for their generous donations for our raffle— both quality businesses run by quality people!

On a more serious note it has been brought to my attention about a vicious rumor coming out of district 1 concerning past president Gary Meis. I talked with Gary about this and he asked me to insert his statement in this report “It has come to my attention that a person or persons within district 1 has stated that I, Gary Meis, intends to go to the Minnesota State Legislature to gain non-resident trapping. It is true that I do favor non-resident trapping, but I have ABSOLUTELY zero interest in going to the Legislature for this program nor any other program. Should anyone in district 1 or any of the other districts within Minnesota choose to use my name for this adventure or any other adventure kindly seek me out first. I can’t and won’t give names but trust me it has been brought to my attention of this vicious and untrue rumor.”

I’m really getting tired of these rumors coming out of district 1. It all started over a year and a half ago leading up to the MTA presidents election when an individual or small group of individuals started spreading rumors and down right lies concerning president Shawn Johnson. They even went so far as to write an anonymous letter with more lies trying to discredit Shawn and other MTA members who supported him, but were too “spineless” to sign it! Even after all these lies and untruths proved to be false, here we go again! I don’t know what your personal agenda is but if for one minute you think you can weaken the MTA, you are sadly mistaken. The MTA began in 1959 under Robert Himes and is stronger than ever in 2010 under the leadership of Shawn Johnson. The MTA represents the interests of trappers in all 8 districts equally and we are more united now than we have ever been to preserve and promote our great sport! Enough said on that!

In closing, remember to read the regulation book carefully as there have been quite afew changes and clarifications. Also some areas in district 1 will have a special early antlerless on Oct.23&24 remember to wear your blaze orange as the law requires.

I wish everyone a safe and successful trapping season. Take a kid or a new comer out with you- You won’t be sorry! Good luck!

— Bert Highland

DISTRICT 4 REPORT

Greetings District 4!

It’s late September, there is excitement in the air with cool days and nights, along with the desire to see full stretchers in the shed. The only problem for some of us procrastinators is the vast amount of work to get ready for opening day! Oh well, maybe next year I get ready on time.

We will be having our District 4 meeting on December 6th at Wealthwood Rod and Gun Club. The address is 23573 – 420th Place, Aitkin, MN. Postcards will be sent out and it will also be on our MTA website. Check there for details.

Wayne Thom, your Co-Director has decided to step down from his position due to his ADC business taking up all of his time. Thank-you Wayne for your dedication to the Association and good luck.

Till next time.

— Buzz

DISTRICT 5 REPORT

Hello everyone,

We want to thank all who attended Mark & Heidi Melby’s Customer Appreciation Day and our District 5 Meeting.We had a very good turnout and the weather was cooperative also.
Thanks to Josh Brown, Shannon Cohrs, Cory VanDriel, Tim Parker and Mark Melby for the demos they provided. Shannon started us off with a snaring coyote demo, followed by a weasel demo by Cory and Tim, Josh Brown did a demo on wild mushrooms, and Mark Melby finished out the day with a demo on medicinal plants.

We also want to thank everyone who helped build weasel boxes for all the kids in attendance that day, Cory, Tim, Josh, & Jerry. Cory and Tim did their demo after the kids got their boxes. 12 happy kids left with boxes.

Our drawing also went very well, We sold lots of tickets thanks to all the donations we received. Tim & Nancy Caven from Minnesota Trapline Products, Gerald & Doreen Schmitt from Schmitt Enterprises, and Mark & Heidi Melby from Melby Furs all donated to help our drawing be successful. We had lots of good comments about the prizes & demos.

We have two more people to thank, Karen & Eugene Anderson once again, donated a raccoon hat for the kids drawing.

All the ladies present also received a prize in a separate drawing just for them.

We will be choosing a gun at our next board meeting on October 9th for our summer raffle at Redwood Falls.

Take care.

— Pete Jonas

DISTRICT 7 REPORT

Hello fellow trappers. This report finds us at the beginning of a new trapping season. I hope that everyone has their traps dyed and their gear ready for the season. But before heading out, be sure that you take the time to read over the trapping regulations in the synapse because there are some changes that have gone into effect. The biggest change is for the first time the otter season is state wide with a limit of four. I know that in the past, some trappers in our district had to avoid some locations because of the otter sign. Now they can harvest these animals.

We have been working on some of the details for the upcoming convention, such as looking into the band for the Saturday night dance. We have also been looking into possible activities for the ladies and getting some tours lined up.

There is not much to report on from the association now. However, the next board meeting is coming soon. Please check upcoming reports for details from the board meeting.
I hope everyone has a safe and successful trapping season. Think about taking out a young kid out with you on your trapping line and teaching the next generation about trapping. Not only will they enjoy it, you might be surprised as you just might enjoy it too.

Until next time.

— Leon Windschitl

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