Montana Trappers Association February 2011 Report

President — Tom Barnes; phone: 406-683-2791; e-mail:

Vice President East — John Graham, Jordan, MT; e-mail:

Vice President West — Dennis Schutz, Stevensville, MT

Recording Secretary — Jim Buell; phone: 406-376-3178; e-mail:

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

Treasurer — Terry Sheppard, Ovando, MT; e-mail:

NTA Director — Brian Stoner, Belgrade, MT; e-mail:

Membership Options:

• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $25
• Youth membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $15
• Family membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $35
• Lifetime membership with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $350
• Senior Lifetime membership with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $200

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

MTA Membership Secreatary
Valerie Esche
17 Allison Dr., Absarokee, MT 59001


Hello to All:

I hope that all is well with you. Another trapping season is upon us. As we knew it would, the weather went from pretty nice to winter just about overnight. Around Dillon it went from no snow to quite a bit real quick and the wind decided to blow making it pretty hard to get around. January will be the beginning of the legislative session and your Board will be busy keeping an eye on several issues that might have an effect on our industry. Some members of the Board have been busy talking to representatives about what we might do to protect trapping, the biggest of which will be a revision of the initiative process.

At this time we don’t know what exactly is in the works, but it appears to be quite a bit of concern that the whole ballot initiative process needs to be revised. If you want to keep an eye on the process the draft bill number is LC0608, requested by Senator Taylor Brown. Jim looked at over 1900 draft bill requests that have been submitted and came up with about 110 that we (and you) should keep and eye on during the Session. These bills may affect all sportsmen, not just trappers.

Back in October, Jim, Tater and I (MTA) were invited to a meeting in Helena hosted by the FWP. There were representatives from the Stockgrowers, Woolgrowers, MT Furbearer Alliance, and the MT Wildlife Federation in attendance. What was discussed was mandatory trapper education, which we indicated that we would support again if it came up in the legislature. Mandatory trap check, which we said we weren’t going there. It was asked if we felt there might be support for a change in control of predators to the FWP and our answer was no.

I don’t believe the agriculture industry will stand for any change in that regard either. Now that I-160 is no longer on the table the FWP seems to be more willing to show more support for trapping than they did during the campaign. They seem to want to be more proactive, trying to get the word out to the public that trapping needs to continue. We will see!

It was suggested that the MTA host a trapping information day during the legislative session. It would be held in the Capitol Rotunda. The details are being worked out to get this done. It should have a good effect on the representatives. We will need some help if you are interested. Contact any officer and we will get the information to you.

Don’t forget the upcoming trade shows that Jim and Fran have been attending for years. They can always use some help. If you are in Great Falls Feb 4-6, Bozeman Jan 28-30, and Kalispell Mar 11- 13 or Billings January 14 – 16 contact Jim or Fran and spend some time with them in the MTA booth. It is a great time to promote our industry.

The annual Western State Fur Sale is coming up. Scheduled for February 18, 19, & 20, 2011, it will again be held at the Little Metra in Columbus MT. We have invited over 15 fur buyers, but at this time we don’t have confirmation as to how many will attend. As time draws closer we hope to have that nailed down and will try to let you know.

This year we will not charge a no-sale fee. We encourage you to consider putting a minimum bid on your fur but will not charge you to do that. I probably know as much as you do about the market. Some items look to be good, some not so good. It is pretty early to tell. We will accept fur on Friday the 18th from noon until 8:00 p.m. and Saturday the 19th from 8:00 a.m. until noon. The fur buyers will then grade the fur and if we can, we will finish up the sale on Saturday night. It will all depend on how much fur shows up.

This is a good opportunity for you to market your fur and support the Association at the same time. I hope you will consider bringing some fur to Columbus. If you need more information, the committee members are Tom Barnes, Tater McKay, Joe Jassak, Kirk Knudsen and Richard Voight.

Paul Fielder, MTA member from Thompson Falls MT who has been very active in the Association the past couple of years has accepted the position of MTA Publicist. Paul will be writing news articles for our newsletter as well as all the national publications. This really takes a load off for me and I really appreciate Paul taking this on. Thanks Paul!

There is always plenty to do to keep an Association going, I feel you have a great group of officers that do more than most realize to keep trapping going in Montana. There is room for more, if you have interest in getting more involved in the MTA don’t be afraid to step up. As I have said before, this is your Association and it is only as strong as the members make it.

I wish all a joyous holiday season and good trapping.


— Tom Barnes


Trapping season is in full swing and I hope you are all getting a chance to enjoy some time in the field. I’m trying to get in as much as possible but keep running out of time. The world seems to get busier during Trapping Season.

We are going to hold a Trappers Education Class in Butte, on the 22nd of January from 8:30 -5:00 at the Forest Service Conference Room (Meadowlark Lane, Butte). This is fairly central for Districts 2, 3 and parts of 4, so let’s see if we can get the word out and have a packed class for all the instructors.

The Trappers Ed. Bill is headed to the legislature again this year. Also, a bill is being proposed to add trapping to the hunting and fishing constitution for protection. It should be an interesting legislative session and one that I hope will benefit trappers. It will be important for us to be sure and support these bills through both sessions and get them passed.

It looks like the MTA Rendezvous is slated for September 9,10, and 11 in Lewistown. Mark your calendar and plan to attend. There is a lot going on in Lewistown that weekend so bring the family and have fun.

Remember that this is an election year. If you or someone you know would like to run for President, V.P. West, or Treasurer please let your District Director or myself know and we will get them on the ballot.

Keep your membership current and try to sign up a new member. There is strength in numbers.

If you happen to get to this corner of the state please give me a shout. Enjoy the Holidays.

Take Care.

— Tater


As I sit here and realize I’m late in writing this letter, it’s almost Christmas. I realize time flies to fast when you get busy on the line and fur shed you sometimes lose track of another goal in life. With that in mind there is a lot going on in the Association with FWP and legislation with I-160 behind us, I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but the worst is yet to come, I believe. In my opinion it is time for the people in Montana to realize we can’t just brush it off and hope the anti’s away. I believe there are some things in life that just don’t go away and the anti’s are them.

It’s time for the people of Montana to stand up and say enough is enough, that we will not allow them to take away our rights to hunt, fish, and trap. It is our right and our heritage. It is our right in the state of Montana that can only be taken away by us doing something stupid and or by breaking the law. We must all be on the same page in order to be able to beat these groups. We must not shrug it off and hope it will go away. We as Montanan’s keep allowing things to get stranger by setting things on the back burner. It is time four us to sit on the front burner and let the anti’s know they can leave the great state of Montana because we aren’t going to change our living for them.

Well enough of negativity for now, on a good note trapping is in full swing. The fur is the best I have ever seen it in Winnett, and plenty of it. The snow is hard making it tough to get around if you haven’t already been there yet. I believe fur prices are going to do well this year. I hope to see a lot more support for the fur sale this year, I believe it will be worth your while. I hope to see you all there and some new faces this year. Have a nice Christmas and a happy New Year. Always remember to feel free to write or call anytime 406-429-2144.

— Joseph M Jassak


Hello District 2 trappers,

I hope everyone is having a good trapping season. The snow has been coming down in Missoula and has kept my snow plowing business busier than I have ever seen it. It has made trapping a challenge this year.

I want to remind everyone of the trappers education class that will be held on Feb. 26th at 8:30 a.m. at the MTFWP building at 3201 Spurgin Rd. in Missoula. Everyone is encouraged to attend as it will be very informative and educational.

Have a good rest of the season and enjoy the outdoors each and every time that you are out there. Also, take a youngster with you if you get the opportunity.


— Guy Kempthorne


I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season with family and friends. Ours was spent in Dillon, it was nice not having to travel. Trapping season has been good so far, lots of furs on the stretchers. It’s getting a little tough to get around now, my 4-wheeler and snow machine are getting a pretty good workout and I don’t see it getting better anytime soon.

Mark the calendar for March 19th at 10:30 in Whitehall for the spring meeting. We will follow the same agenda as the past; demo, lunch and a visit with FWP. Bring an item for lunch.

As mentioned earlier, we are having a Trappers Ed. Class in Butte on January 22nd from 8:30-5:00 at the Forest Service Conference Room (Meadowlark Lane). Thank You to all of you that have volunteered to help.

Enjoy the rest of your trapping season and I’ll visit with ya again soon.

Take Care.

— Tater


Mark your calendars for April 17th 1PM. That is when the district 4 spring meeting will be held at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 4 offices on Giant Spring road in Great Falls. There may be a pizza and for sure lots of trap talk.

Things are pretty quiet in D-4 so I thought I would write a little “how to” article about beaver castor. The market for castor is strong right now and I’ve had several trappers asking questions on how to prepare castor for market. It seems a mystery for some people as to how to properly handle castor, but it’s quite simple.

If you are selling to a lure manufacturer or a local fur buyer call them first to see what their preference is. Some may want the castor fresh frozen which makes things easier. You only need to remove the castor from the beaver place in a Ziploc bag or jar then store in a freezer until it’s time to sell.

If you are sending to an auction house, state or local auction/sale or the fur buyer requests them to be dried then the following steps should help you cash in on the current market.

Removing the castor

With the skinned beaver laying on its back you will find the castors in a fleshy pouch between its legs just ahead of the vent.

I start by pinching this pouch and lifting it up while slicing under my fingers. Don’t cut too deep you just want to take a slice of “skin” off. Once I’ve made this cut I can see the castor (a grayish/green wrinkled sack). Using my fingers to manipulate the castor through my slice I begin to pull the meaty “skin” away from the castor (kind of like peeling and orange) occasionally using my knife. Be careful not to cut open or puncture the castor itself even with too much pressure you can push your finger through the thin shell of a castor.

I usually start on one side and then work the other. Once both castors are free you will find they are still attached to the beaver. If it is a male you will need to cut the penis cord, if it is a female just grab both pods in one hand, lift and cut just below were they are connected. If done right you should be holding two pods connected together. It’s at this time you will want to look them over and get any of red membrane that you may have missed off. The castors should not have any of this left on them before proceeding to the next step.

Many people will cut the entire pouch off of the beaver and trim the membrane off once it’s off of the carcass, but if you do it as I’ve described above you will find it is easier and faster than trying to work on a pile of mush.

Drying castor

This seems to be where people get confused, but it’s very simple.

I hang my castors over a broken broom handle fastened to the rafters. This spreads them apart so they don’t touch allowing them to dry faster, more evenly. If you use a wire make sure they are getting dry where they touch together. You can also spread them out on cardboard the important part is you want the uniformly dry.

How dry? Or how long do I dry them? These are probably what I get asked more than anything. As to how long, that is going to depend on many factors: temperature, humidity, etc. The best rule of thumb is you want the outside to be dry to the touch and have a leathery feel. When GENTLY squeezed you should feel the inside squish. If it’s hard as a rock they are over dry.

I’ve had castors dried in 24 hours and others almost a week. On a recent trapping trip we had no way to freeze castor we collected so some of them dried for about 5 days with day time temps pushing 70, however the castors still had the right texture when we loaded them up to leave.
Once they are dried I put them in a large plastic jug and freeze them.


When you are ready to ship or meet your buyer with your collection of castor remove the castor from the freezer and allow time to thaw – about a day. This allows the frost to melt and dry up prior to packaging. Spreading castors out on a piece of cardboard will help with the defrosting.

As for packaging you DO NOT want to use plastic. Plastic can cause mildew/mold or the castors will arrive as a puddle of goo. Castors need to breathe.

Placing your castor in an onion sack or paper bag is best if you are meeting with your buyer.

If you are sending USPS or UPS; ¬line the bottom of a box (just line) with a plastic bag followed by a few sheets of newspaper then the bag of castors pack around the bag with crumpled newspaper until the box is full. The newspapers will absorb any excess moisture and allow the castors to breathe. The plastic bag is only there as a liner and will prevent seepage out the bottom which could lead to a call from the post master wondering what’s in the box.

And the final step is to……Cash the check!

Well that’s kind of the long and the short of it. With the current market paying about $45 a pound don’t throw the castors out with the carcass; there’s gold under them beaver tails.

— Josh Lodge


Hello from D 5,

Hope this holiday season finds you healthy, wealthy, and wise! It’s been pretty wintery with lots of snow and ice in Region 5; this has impacted the catch because travel is limited. It looks like there are more people trapping this year as supply sales are way up. Fur prices are on the rebound with Cats, Rats, Marten and Coyote leading the way. We are looking forward to getting our Cat quota back in Region 5, rabbits are coming back and we are seeing lots of signs, hopefully FWP will cooperate.

Remember this is our legislative season so talk to your Representatives and Senators about your concerns. They should listen and maybe there is legislation that can help out.

Have a great season and take a kid trapping – they are the future.

— John Hughes


Howdy District 6:

Trapping season is well on its way and sounds like fur prices may be on the rise, hope so. Winter hit hard mid-November. By Thanksgiving the drifting snow made most of this country around Saco and Malta inaccessible for a pick-up truck. More hunters in my area this year – many of them said the wolves had impacted the ungulate herds to where they came North looking for more game. With them came a 25% loss of coyotes as they decided they need my coyotes worse than I did.

That’s right, one out of four coyotes stolen or shot with a deer rifle leaving the pelt virtually worthless. The wardens will write a citation if you can prove who did it but thieves don’t usually do this when you are there. We need to approach FWP about stiffer penalties, better education of hunters and enforcement of our existing laws concerning trap theft. Any suggestions?

Well, our first ever Swift Fox season is on and as of December 5th only 6 had been tagged so that left 14 tags to go. The season goes until the end of February so there is time to get an interesting little “wall hanger” for your collection. There seems to be lots of them as I have had up to 50% visitations on parts of my coyote line.

The District 6 Spring meeting will be held in Saco MT April 10, 2011 at the Odd Fellows Hall – same location as last year. The chili feed begins at noon and the meeting starts at 1:00 p.m. See you there.

Watch your Top Knot!

— Kirk Knudsen


Merry Christmas Everyone,

Well once again it appears we will have a white Christmas after all once again! As I write this its snowing again even if our temp is 14 above zero. Our Spring Meeting will be held at J &M Furs Fur shed on April 16 starting at 12:00 noon, bring a friend along we have a lot to discuss. Also we are working on having a fur handling clinic in the Miles City/Forsyth area on April 9th about 12:00 noon, so if your interested please let me know via email at or call me at 406-679-2361.

As always please remember our servicemen and women serving here and abroad in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

I hope you have had better luck getting out your trap and snare lines than I have ! Work has kept me busy and traveling more than normal due to the fact of a tornado that hit Metra this past Fathers Day.

I have managed to get a small beaver line out and hope to get a coyote/ bobcat line set out very soon. Weather permitting of course, or that maybe set back until I get the snowmobile back up and running again.

Blowing and drifting snow has caused some problems this winter for some folks and may not change for awhile, so pack extra cloths along your water lines and food for both your predator and beaver lines! That saved me a time or two over the years.

My Dad always told me to take two shovels along in case you break a handle or have someone along with you so they can help also!

Well fur prices are slowly working there way up from what the reports I’ve heard , Coyote and bobcat prices are unstable for now until some of the bigger fur auctions get rolling.

I for one hope that things move along at a good pace so we can at least make gas money and a little bit more for those unexpected events that seem to crop up out of nowhere.

As many of you know we lost some friends of the trappers this year, Steve Fitzwater of Idaho, George Scalf of Iowa, and Dean Wilson Sr. of Alaska. These fine folks left quite a empty place in the hearts and minds of many, I only can wish to have had the chance to meet Dean and visited about wolf trapping up there in Alaska.

Well I hope you all have a Wonderful and Merry Christmas and the best of New Years!

Respectfully Submitted.

— Allan L. Minear


Montana’s fall weather was beautiful this year. The leaves even had a chance to color before falling to the ground, unlike 2009 with a sub zero freeze in October. A little over a week ago, winter struck with a vengeance. I understand the experts are talking El Nino again, so maybe the fur will be better & the prices will compensate. One can only hope.

Last night my family watched the old movie “Mountain Men” with Brian Keith & Charlton Hesston. Hip boots, rubber gloves & minimal numbers of hostiles are a blessing for today’s trappers. Those fur hats, mittens & coats were nice, though. If you have yet to view this classic movie, check it out. Bob and I rode 24 miles into the Bob Marshall wilderness the first part of November. He was happy to catch a number of beaver that are causing trouble with creek crossings. The several muskrats and mink were a nice bonus. Our mule, Bud, did not appreciate the mink smell & caused quite a ruckus. That stirred up the other mule colt, so Bob had a couple of hard rides. A simple electric fence kept the grizzly bears from visiting our camp. The Airedale, Snickers, learned what “jump” means. A pack of wolves traveled through one valley into another during our trip. We headed home just in time to miss the big storm.

The “Mountain Men” Rendezvous was similar yet different than the current MTA annual Rendezvous. A little less rowdiness, better quality liquid refreshment, the big fur companies do not own the trappers and your scalp isn’t threatened on a daily basis. Progress arrived whether a person liked it or not. Trappers adapted to not only survive, but thrive. Charlton Hesston complained about five dollar beaver when he only had to pay expenses for a horse. I haven’t seen a horse race yet at MTA’s rendezvous; other than the four wheel variety.

With the fall activities in full swing, things have slowed down a bit for MTA. But we are gearing up for the State Legislature in January; there are many proposed bills dealing with livestock, trapping, FW&P and funding. Proponents of Ballot Initiative 160, which failed to reach the 2010 ballot, are building their next plan of attack. They are getting smarter & stronger, so do not underestimate their abilities.

We thank all of you for your continued support with donations and man power. Positive public appearances are a great tool. Mike & Doris Dey have done a fantastic job with the U of M Homecoming parade MTA floats. This year has been difficult for all of us; therefore, a float was not created for the October 2010 parade. Maybe next year will see another MTA parade float. Encourage all trappers that are not yet MTA members to get signed up today. Those memberships are worth far more than the costs requested.

The annual membership is less than one dinner date with your significant other. If you are computer literate, or have a ten year old to assist you, check out MTA’s website. You will find all kinds of useful information and membership benefits. Talk with the Montana legislators, asking for their support on trapping & wildlife issues. I am looking forward to the new year with Positive Changes, both Montana and the US Congress.

We are working hard to keep your organization funded, responsible, beneficial and strong. Let us know how we can improve your trapping organization.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to All!!

— Terry J Sheppard


District 1 held a MTEP class on Nov 2, 2010 at Lawrence Park in Kalispell with 12 students registered.

The MTEP Student Handbook Committee has been working hard with the MTA Instructors manual and the North Dakota Education manual to combine and compile a comprehensive and complete student manual for the MTEP. This is an arduous task that may take up to six months or more to complete. It is the hope of the Committee to have a prototype draft ready to present to the Legislature in case mandatory trapper education is introduced again. We want the Legislators to be aware that the MTA is ready and willing to take on the task of properly instructing through classroom and on-sight methods any potential trapper. We feel that trappers need personal instruction to become responsible and ethical trappers of the Montana furbearers.

While at the National Trappers Convention in Marshfield WI, I talked to some trappers there and was able to secure some fisher skulls from them to add to our MTEP fur and skull boxes. I asked for a few un-cleaned skulls and ended up with about 70 full and partial skulls to sort through and clean. My plan is to salvage (some are in pretty bad shape) and assemble as many as possible, put one in each of our fur/skull boxes, keep a few extras for emergency and the remainder I will try to sell and put the funds into the Trapper Education Program.

Jim and I will have MTA booths at all of the Great Rockies Outdoor Shows this year. We get a free space for education where I will have track stamping, pelts, coloring books and other educational information to hand out throughout the show. This is really popular with the kids and adults. I will also be soliciting a list of schools and organizations that would like me to give educational presentations which I usually schedule in April and May.

When District Directors get their MTEP classes scheduled, let me know and I will get material to you. Please allow me a couple weeks notice. I am also available to help out at the classes.

Respectfully submitted.

— Fran Buell


State Senator Greg Hinkle (Thompson Falls) is sponsoring a bill (LC0012) in Helena that would amend the Montana Constitution to “strengthen the right to hunt, fish and trap”. Senator Hinkle has also recently been named to the legislative Fish and Wildlife and the Natural Resources committees where I feel he will be a supporter of the sportsman and trapper. Greg Hinkle is a sportsman and a past trapper who strongly supports sportsmen’s rights. But, he needs our (YOUR) help in the legislature.

The draft bill that Senator Hinkle submitted read: “Hunting, trapping, and fishing and the harvest of wild animals, birds, and fish are a valued part of Montana’s heritage and will be forever preserved for the people. Fish and wildlife shall be managed by laws and regulations that provide persons with the continued opportunity to harvest by traditional means and methods, species traditionally pursued by hunters, anglers, and trappers. Fish and wildlife management, including harvest, shall be consistent with the State’s duty to protect this heritage and its duty to conserve wild animals, birds, and fish.”

The present language in the Constitution, Article IX, Section 7, Preservation and harvest heritage states: “The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other property rights.” Senator Hinkle’s revision would replace the phrase “wild game animals” (which does not by MFW&P definition include furbearers, predators, or non-game animals) with the phrase “wild animals, birds and fish”.

Bill LC0012 uses tried and tested wording suggested by attorneys for the US Sportsmen’s Alliance to protect hunting, fishing, and trapping harvest opportunities and methods. That language also maintains the duty of the state F&W agency’s to manage fish and wildlife (including harvest), to protect these activities, and to conserve fish and wildlife.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington have lost the right to trap. Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas have laws that protect their citizen’s rights to hunt, fish, and trap. Arkansas passed their law during the recent 2010 ballot with an 83% yes vote.

In Montana in 2010, the animal rights groups got real close to putting their trapping ban ballot initiative (I-160) on the November ballot. They got 83% of the signatures that they needed and qualified in 32 of the 34 required legislative districts. They say they were happy that they got so close and that they will be back for another try.

In 2009, MFW&P indicated there were about 4,650 licensed trappers in Montana. About 12% of them belong to MTA. In many organizations, most of the effort is done by a relatively few people. Many (not all) trappers, by nature, keep to themselves and don’t get involved. BUT, if YOU want to continue to trap in the future, this legislative session would be a good time for YOU to contact your state senator and representative and ask them to please support Senator Hinkle’s bill #LC0012.

— Paul C Fielder


Tom Barnes and Jim Buell asked me to act as a Publicist for the MTA. The thought was that there are many issues, events, and news relating to the MTA and trapping in Montana that should be shared with fur harvesters (both MTA members and non-members). Our MTA Board members are already plenty busy running MTA and keeping us trapping. The Publicist position will try to lighten their load while spreading our word to the media.

Short submittals about the February Western States Fur Auction (sponsored by MTA) and the results of the I-160 anti-trapping ballot initiative battle (in which we were supported by many sportsmen and trapping organizations) have been sent: T&PC, Fur-Fish-Game, American Trapper, Trapper’s Post, Fur Taker, and Trapper’s World magazines. I’ll keep these magazines informed of other MTA news and events such as the Youth Trapper Camp and other trapper education and fur handling classes, annual and regional meetings, animal rights efforts against trappers, legislation that could affect trapping, interesting trapping info that relates to Montana trappers, and any other issues that YOU want help with spreading the word about.

I will do my best to spread the news and information that our MTA Board and members provide me. In some cases in the future, that may be to local newspapers or radio or TV stations. So, if you have some info to share, I’ll help you get the word out. Just contact me.

Only about 12% of the trappers in Montana are MTA members. If we can reach some of the other 88% with information about what MTA is doing and providing that is of use and value to them – maybe more trappers in Montana will benefit and work together. That is a goal of the Publicist position. Talk to me and I’ll help get your information out.

— Paul C. Fielder,, 406-827-7777


I recently came across a great reference about marten, their biology and how what we know about their biology can be used on the trapline to ensure optimum harvest while protecting the population for future years. If you marten trappers already know this, good for you. But, if you think you can learn something new, take a look at this information.

The information is in the British Columbia Trappers Association Trapper Education Manual and can be found on the internet at:

— Paul C. Fielder

Hello from Ovando

Just a short note on some subjects of interest.

January 8 at Spark–n-Arc in Deer Lodge there will be a fur handling clinic. Starts about 9 A.M. and will go till we are done. Contact Ed Hebbe III at for info.

January 22nd will be a trapping education class for District 3 in the Butte area. Contact Tater McKay for info.

February 29 will be a trapping education class in Missoula at the FWP.

Heard some news on wolverine and fisher recently. The folks that are trying to get it listed are working hard at it and if I understand correctly the wolverine is now where the lynx was when we still could trap 2 of them. It sounds to me as if it is just a matter of time before someone files suit and a judge gets to list them as well. I believe that we will hear more about this issue and the manner that it is going to be addressed in the future. Meanwhile, the advocates for listing the fisher are pushing hard and I think we will hear some more in a few weeks. Seems that there is always something.

On a more positive note- the wolves in western Montana are increasing steadily and rapidly. Still no significant control or management actions, so we can look forward to less game and more problems. They have sure changed the coyote patterns in this area. Seems to be more fox around where the wolves are making kills. It seems as if the fox can coexist somewhat better with the wolves than the coyotes. I might change my opinion later as this is just how it seems now. One thing for sure is I am seeing some significant changes in the way the deer and elk are behaving now. Soon we can all look forward to having an overpopulation of wolves statewide.

Reading in the trapping books and talking to fur buyers, it sounds like some fur will be better this year. The coyotes I have been catching are in pretty good shape. So far no signs of mange, but I do not have very many so maybe so far I have just been lucky. Seems like the rabbits are increasing a little so maybe it will be some help for the cats as well. We have gotten a reasonable amount of snow and it looks like winter is here for this year.

That’s all for now. Hope you all have a great year trapping and Merry Christmas.

— Bob Sheppard


District 1 – No information provided.
District 2 – No information provided.
District 3 – March 19th, 10:30am – Whitehall MT
District 4 – April 17th, 1pm – FWP Bldg – Great Falls
District 5 & 7 – April 16th, 12 noon @ J&M Fur Shed on the PX Ranch, 3065 Winnett Road.
District 6 – April 10th, 12 noon – Odd Fellows Hall, Located in Saco.


By motion of the MTA Board, the sweepstakes prizes for 2011 and into the future will be numbered and the prizes will be distributed in numerical order drawn.


District 2 – Jan 8 @ 9am – Fur Handling Clinic in Deer Lodge @ Spark-N-Arc Contact Ed Hebbe III – 406-843-2604
District 2 – Feb 26 @ 8:30am – Trapper Education Class in Missoula @ the FWP Bldg
District 3 – Jan 22 @ 8:30am – Trapper Education Class in Butte @ Forest Service Bldg on Meadowlark Lane.
District 7 – Apr 9 @ 12noon – Tentative Fur Handling Clinic in Miles City – Contact Allan Minear 406-679-2361


Pre-registration and application requests for the 12th Annual Youth Trapper Camp, Inc. (YTC,Inc.) have started. The 3 day, family oriented camp is held in Beaver Creek Park, south of Havre MT at the Jim and Fran Buell cabin site. First year camp attendees will be instructed in proper trapping methods, ethics, trapper responsibility on the trap line, fur handling & furbearer identification. Those attending for two years or more will construct stretchers, snares, predator calls and participate in actual trap line techniques and damage control trapping.

Dates for YTC,Inc 2011 are June 9th, 10th & 11th. Camp fee is $50.00 per attendee. This fee includes all meals, nutritious snacks, bottled water and eating utensils. The campsite provides space for campers and tents with outdoor toilet facilities and non-potable water. Parents are encouraged to attend with their children, those under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. There will be boys and girls barracks tents with chaperones provided for those youth 12 and over attending without an adult.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks is providing a $20.00 scholarship for the first 60 youth applying prior to May 15, 2011. Registration closes on May 30th, 2011.

To receive registration information go to the Montana Trappers Association website at or e-mail Jim and Fran Buell at


The MTA will again have an educational booth at the Great Rockies Outdoor Shows in the listed cities on the following dates:
Billings – January 14th – 16th
Bozeman – January 28th – 30th
Great Falls – February 4th – 6th
Kalispell – March 11th – 13th

Show hours are Friday 1pm until 8pm; Saturday 10am until 6pm and Sunday 10am until 4pm. If you would like to help out in the booth for a few hours at one of the events; contact Fran Buell and she will arrange for a 3 day free admission to the show in your name.

Phone 406-376-3178 or email at

 2011 Trapping Information Day at the Capitol

The Montana Trappers Association and MEWM are hosting a trapping information day in the Capitol Rotunda on January 31st – 8:00am until 5:00 pm.

This event will strive to make legislators, their aides, lobbyists and the public aware of the ethical trapping which occurs in Montana.
If you have some free time and are in the Helena area; dress neatly; stop by and help out. Free Lunch at Noon.


The Western States Fur Sale will take place at the “Little Metra” located in Columbus Montana. Receiving dates on site will be Feb 18th – 12 noon until 8:00 pm; Feb 19th – 8:00 am until 12 noon

To arrange shipping your fur contact Tom Barnes, Chairman; 4294 Hwy 91 N; Dillon Mt 59725; 406-683-2791; 406-660-2792;

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