Montana Trappers Association December 2012 Report

President — Tom Barnes, 4294 Hwy 91 N, Dillon MT 59725; 406-683-2791; cell: 406-660-2792;

Vice President East — Joe Jassak, 824 Dornen Ranch Road, Winnett MT 59087; 406-429-2144;

Vice President West — Tater McKay, 3800 Old Stage Road, Dillon MT 59725; 406-683-4824; cell: 406-660-1094;

Executive Secretary — Jim Buell, P.O. Box 133, Gildford, MT 59525; 406-376-3178;

Membership Secretary — Valerie Esche, 17 Allison Dr., Absarokee, MT 59001; 406-328-7264;

Treasurer— Terry Sheppard, P.O. Box 129, Ovando, MT 59854; 406-793-5885; office: 406-793-5718;

NTA Director — Jim Buell, P.O. Box 133, Gildford, MT 59525; 406-376-3178;

Membership Options:

• Family membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $40

• Family membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $30

• Adult membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $30

• Adult membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $20

• Youth membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $20

• Lifetime membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $350

• Lifetime membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $250

• Senior lifetime membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $200

• Senior lifetime membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $100


Complete membership application on first page of association section and send dues to:

MTA Membership Secreatary

Valerie Esche

17 Allison Dr.

Absarokee, MT 59001



It was another busy summer for the MTA. We finished the new trapper education manual and handbook. This will standardize the trapper education program so everyone will receive the same information. The MTA has been involved in handing out packets at the various wolf education classes being held throughout the state. These packets allow the participants to join the MTA and the NTA free for one year. Hopefully we will gain some new members that will in return stay active past the one year membership. As I have said, there is strength in numbers.

We held another successful Rendezvous in Lewistown. All the people that are responsible for putting it on are truly amazing. It takes a lot of time and energy to make it happen every year, and it always goes off without a hitch. Thank you to everyone who helped and also to all of you who attended. It was a great turnout, and the numbers showed it was the biggest in quite a few years.

If you plan on getting out to do some trapping this season, please be responsible and remember who you are and what you represent. With this being the first wolf trapping season in Montana, we will be under the microscope. It won’t matter if you are after a wolf or not, we are all trappers, so be smart and safe out there.

Thank you for being members of the MTA, and try to take a kid trapping. Take care. — Tater



Hi from the middle of Montana. Another convention has come and gone, this year with a bigger crowd and a little more interest in trapping being displayed. Many thanks to all the volunteers who help make the convention a success each year.

Now, a bit about wolves; it looks as if the MTFWP is snubbing the MTA as far as the wolf certification classes are concerned. For the past several weeks I’ve attended two classes each weekend and all have been filled with people interested in trapping wolves, plus an anti or two. The wolf season has sparked a bunch of interest and enthusiasm in the trapping world, which is a good thing. If we as trappers, trap these wolves, ethically and legally, we should have a wolf season from now on here in Montana. But we have to be cautious, as there will be many eyes on us and our methods.

Fur prices look strong, with the auction houses sold out of most everything, except for coyote and raccoon; this bodes well for the fur market. Have a great season. — John



I attended the MTA annual Rendezvous in Lewistown September 7- 9. It was good to visit with other trappers, share ideas and concerns, learn some good information at the demonstrations, buy some supplies for this year’s trapline, help with the setup and take down, take part in the membership and Board meetings, and enjoy the fur fashion show, auction and banquet. It was a good Rendezvous for District 1 even though not many from our District attended because one from our District won a $500 scholarship and another won a fur coat. Sometimes showing up makes a difference.

Wolf trapping certification classes have been heavily attended in Montana. About 65 people were at the one I attended in Trout Creek and we all got a brief overview on the subject. You must complete one of these classes to legally trap wolves in Montana. The demand for classes has caused MFW&P to schedule additional classes, so if you have an interest, contact them to see when and where you can attend one. I met a lot of trappers at this class that I had not met before. — Paul C Fielder



I hope you have all had time to get prepared for trapping season. I am getting pretty itchy here in D2. As many of you may know I have written a book titled “Wild Pride”, a book about trapping and trappers in Montana. Part of the book is made up of four trappers which I interviewed. I am not giving their names in the book, they all have nicknames but you will all figure out who they are because they are active MTA members. I am submitting the final manuscript to the publishing company in two weeks and hope to have it on the market before Christmas. — Toby 



Along with about 2000 other folks, I took the wolf trapping course offered by F&G. They stressed the importance of ethical considerations in harvesting a wolf with traps. All you folks out there that are going to do this must be sure to use the grey matter between your ears. This issue is highly contested and watched closely by the anti people. If they cannot find an incident then I am sure that they will try to fabricate one. If we give them any excuse to deter or stop trapping in any form, you can be assured that they will do whatever it takes. Remember that those people are not limited by either a sense of ethics or the consideration of the truth. Do not give them any excuse. Think before placing your wolf traps.

The commission is figuring to place another regulation on the wolf trappers by making them have 8 lbs. pan tension on wolf traps. This is in parts of district 1 and 2. This is to placate the anti crowd as they filed “intent to sue” because of considerations in critical lynx habitat. Maine just beat the pants off the anti crowd in a lawsuit quite similar to this one. My question is-Why are they putting more restrictions on trappers and not just putting the anti’s down? It should be pretty obvious now to everyone that there will be no pleasing the animal cult people. They will just come up with something else. It has happened before and it will continue to happen. It seems that it is easier to regulate the trapper with more rules than to fight with the anti’s. So what is next??

To me that is the critical question. If we are not extremely careful some of this fallout will tumble down into our regular trapping. There have been attempts for years by the F&G to get regulations on coyotes. That would place some onerous restrictions on all of us if that was to happen. As trappers we need to pursue our pastime with vigor and energy but always keep in mind that there are lots of folks out there that do not know anything about what we do. Some are supportive and some are not. Most don’t care as long as it does not affect them. Always be considerate of other outdoor users. Educate when possible as then we show the truth and gain support. This wolf trapping is being watched by people all over the globe. We need to be extremely careful. One stupid mistake can have dire consequences and the anti’s are out in force trying to find an excuse to make us look bad. Don’t be the one to get your picture plastered over websites worldwide as a screw up.

There will be a couple of fur handling clinics taking place. One is at Deer Lodge in January and there will be another in Great Falls but I am not sure of the time. — Bob Sheppard 



Trapping season is here. I am planning on trapping as hard as my wife will let me this season. I hope you will get the chance to chase your animal of choice as well.

It was great to see so many people in Lewistown at rendezvous.

There have been many trapping education classes offered in District 3. If you were planning on chasing a wolf, hopefully you got signed up to take a class. The class is heavy on ethics, so be aware of your surroundings, and pay close attention if you plan on trying your hand at wolf trapping this season. — Tater



It’s time for another trapping season. There is a lot of excitement going into this season. The rendezvous went well with good attendance and lots of good information shared.

The upcoming wolf trapping season has had lots of interest from both sides of the issue. The wolf trapping classes have been full with some seasoned trappers, lots of new trappers and some anti-trappers. This will be an interesting season as it plays out. We as an organization need to stay informed and on top of the issues that may come up as everybody on both sides of the wolf issue will be watching everything that happens. Best of luck catching a wolf, but remember there are eyes watching all we do.

We will be busy come January as the legislature meets in 2013. With a new governor and a new legislature I am sure there will be lots of issues that will need to be addressed by the MTA. I hope all your traps are full and it’s a good season. — Jay



It has not been a quiet summer on the highline. Many Ranchers are pulling out of the block management program and posting their lands against hunting (with apologies to their friends the hunters) in response to MFWP policy to introduce free roaming bison. I support their cause and wish them luck as free roaming bison would be devastating to any agricultural operation, not to mention the threat to humans, highway accidents, train derailments etc.

The Keystone Pipeline, though not approved, is advancing as they are building pipe yards and will be hauling pipe in preparation for start up.

The American Prairie Reserve doubled in size this summer with the purchase of the 150,000 acre Page Witham ranch in south Valley and Phillips county. Money talks and greedy people give in, undermining their neighbors efforts to survive and maintain their ranching heritage. Phillips county agriculture alone feeds 2.3 million people. What are these people thinking? Oh ya, their food comes from down there at the store!

As for the Wolf thing, I have been and remain animatedly opposed to a wolf trapping season. MTFWP stuck a 48hr trap check down our throats and eliminated the use of snares. Until we get regulations we can live with I personally will boycott the trapping of wolves. I believe we need to trap wolves for many reasons but not with THESE regulations!!! In my opinion, anybody that participates in this season has sold out so they can say “Gee Wiz” I caught a wolf. MTFWP has been trying to get a check law on traps for a long time as well as eliminate the use of snares. They are sneaking this one in on wolf trapping now and it will not stop there. Look for these regulations to creep into our general trapping regulations in the future. I thank Craig O’Gorman and all the others that have spoken out or written letters, magazine articles, etc… in opposition to these regulations as imposed on us in regards to the trapping of wolves. I wish there were more of you! Thanks!

In closing I would like to mention that Marvin Fluth a prominent fur buyer in Lewistown, Montana passed away in September. He was an MTA member and an avid supporter of trappers in Montana and the Dakota’s for many years. In my dealings with him he became a respected friend. He was hard working and honest and I will miss him greatly. I remember a few years back Pam and I sold him some fur and Pam had her first bobcat to sell and Marv asked her how much she wanted for it, she said she would like $300, Marv looked at her and said, “would you take $400” – that was Marv Fluth. Sweet dreams my good friend!!

Watch your Top Knot! — Kirk



Results of the 2012 election are as below; the number of votes received follow the candidates name.

VP East John Hughes – 35 Joe Jassak – 27

Membership Secretary – Valerie Esche – 58

Recording Secretary – Keven Heinle – 60

NTA Representative Jim Buell – 56

Essays written by the recipients of the two $500 2012 MTA Scholarships

Congratulation to Kevin Tweten – Nashua MT & Cheyenne Cole – Dixon MT

I started trapping at the age of ten with hopes of someday being as good as the local trappers, Jake Neufeld, Bill Lauckner and Terry Thompson. I had the honor and pleasure of going on all their trap lines except for Jake’s who passed on before I had the chance. The following fall Jake’s son Roy handed down his old traps and trapping supplies to me. Along with the supplies was a pair of Jake’s old trapping gloves. They were fairly weathered from digging many trap beds and pounding hundreds of stakes but I made the decision to keep them thinking of all the fox and coyotes that they had taken while on Jake’s hands. To this day I still have those old gloves and carry them in my trapping bag for good luck.

Every once in a while I put them on while I make a dirt-hole set and think how Jake would have made it with all his years of experience. It seems as though Jake’s hands are helping me bed the trap firmly, place it in just the right location and help guide the animal to step on the pan each time I wear them. More times than not, those are the sets where I catch the nicest coyotes. All I can do is smile knowing that Jake is up there laughing and watching me while I’m out on my trap line.

I owe a lot of my trapping success to Jake, Bill and Terry. They took the time to give me valuable pointers along the way and I’d like to thank them for all they’ve done. If it wasn’t for these three trappers I may never have taken part in this great sport. — Kevin Tweten


Trapping is a longstanding American tradition and was once a popular way of life for many people. It was often viewed as a means of survival and recently as a source of additional income. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states that, “People were dependent upon furbearers to provide the basic necessities for survival – meat for sustenance, and fur for clothing, bedding and shelter – throughout most of human history.” The majority of the old fur traders also relied heavily upon the income received from selling the furs in order to buy new supplies and other necessities for the next year. Today, trapping is a common topic for controversial discussion and anti-trapping groups are trying their best to abolish trapping. Although no one wants to see their cherished Fluffy or dearest Fifi in a trap, opponents’ fear is bred in a lack of knowledge and misinformation.

Anti-trapping groups argue that, “trapping is not only dangerous for pets and other non-target animals but that it is also extremely inhumane and dangerous for the target animal”. Though the thought of incidental catches, or catching something that you were not targeting, and inhumanity may be legitimate concerns, incidental catches are rare and there are regulations and modern methods of trapping that are intended to reduce these events from happening. These regulations and methods are also intended to make trapping as humane as possible.

Those who believe that the risk of incident catches is a reason to abolish trapping do not understand how trapping works. Many people view their walk through the woods as a walk through a mine field in that every time they take their dog out it is in danger of getting caught in a trap. However, what people don’t realize is that trapping is a very precise and scientific process. Successful trapping requires the trapper to know what type of lure and trap is used for each animal to place its foot in just the right spot or they won’t catch anything. Additionally, animals are leery by nature so if anything is amiss, from the wrong type of lure, the wrong trap placement, too much human scent, or even too much disturbance to the grass around the set, they will not go near the area.

Modern trapping methods and regulations also help to severely reduce incidental catches. These regulations prohibit trappers from setting their traps within specified distances of trail heads, camp grounds, or any other areas frequented by people and pets. Therefore, in the event that a pet does get caught it is most likely because the owner had their pet off a leash and in an area they were not supposed to be, such as off the trail. Furthermore, when trapping around an area that a trapper knows there is the possibility of catching pets, such as around barns or junk piles, they will often use selective trapping equipment such as live traps so that if a cat or small dog happens to get caught they can simply turn it loose. As you can see, with all the regulations and pre-trapping preparations it is very uncommon that trappers have incidental catches.

Modern trapping methods and improvements to equipment have made trapping a much more humane way of harvesting animals. One of the most commonly used traps is the foothold trap. This trap was improved by putting a gap in the jaws so that there is little injury to the foot when it is caught. The foothold trap is designed to do just that, hold the foot. A myth people often believe is that “foothold traps crush the foot or break bones”. The Montana Trappers Association states that “Virtually all scientific tests confirm that regularly tended and properly sized foothold traps do not cause significant, permanent, or life-threatening injuries. Many trapped animals simply rest or nap when they discover they are effectively restrained.” When government agencies capture animals, like wolves, for reintroduction or restoration efforts, the foothold trap is what they use. Furthermore, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “The foothold trap is the only effective device…for capturing certain furbearers such as coyote, wolves, and foxes.

Trapping is a crucial tool, and often the only tool available, for managing populations of animals. Keeping populations under control is important for reducing the spread of disease such as mange, reducing predation and protecting habitat, and result in healthier populations. Mange is a disease that is fatal to animals and infected animals usually die slow, painful deaths. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states that, “the disease is density-dependent” and “when population densities are high, animals come into contact more frequently and diseases such as mange spread rapidly.” Controlling populations with trapping reduces the frequency and severity of outbreaks of diseases and result in healthier populations. Furthermore, many people mistakenly believe that trapping reduces their chances of seeing animals in the wild because they think it decreases populations too much. However, if not managed, the populations of nearly every animal go through cycles of spiking and crashing. Trapping helps prevent these cycles and helps stabilize populations, thus increasing the chances of seeing wildlife. Additionally, populations, if left unmanaged, can lead to the devastation of their habitat and property damage. — Cheyenne Cole



Jonathon Matthew – Condon MT, won the Honda Recon 4 X 4 ATV

Dirk Cloninger – Missoula MT, Beaver Fur jacket

Joe Chapman – Belgrade MT, Moose Antler Carving

Rick Walsh – Kentucky, Ruger 10/22 .22 cal Rifle

Ken Ganzeveld – Shepherd MT, Heritage .22cal LR Pistol

Kenny Stahl – Roundup MT, Ruana Drop Point Skinner

Dave Waldo – Hamilton MT, Fox Pro Predator Caller

Ed Curtiss – Glendive MT, Stevens Model 200 .223 cal Rifle

Gus Wolfe – Augusta MT, Mossberg .22 cal Rifle

Kevin Cook – Missoula MT, Savage HMR .17 cal Rifle

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