Montana Trappers Association February 2013 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

Membership Options:

• Family membership with T&PC — $40

• Family membership without T&PC — $30

• Adult membership with T&PC — $30

• Adult membership without T&PC — $20

• Youth membership with T&PC — $20

• Lifetime membership with T&PC — $350

• Lifetime membership without T&PC — $250

• Senior lifetime membership with T&PC — $200

• Senior lifetime membership without T&PC — $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



Hello to All. Summer has come and gone, fall has fell, winter is here, but it’s not cold as —- yet. I hope everyone is having a good year. Your board of directors met December 9, in Lewistown. It was good to see everyone again and catch up on the goings on. There was plenty of business to take care of on behalf of all trappers. I’ll go over most of the important topics.

1) We put together a legislative committee to deal with and keep track of the upcoming legislature. I’m sure there will be plenty of bills that might need our input. There are already 3 bills that have been introduced by Representative Ted Washburn: A bill to authorize trapping of lions, House Bill #29, a bill for an act entitled: “An act requiring classification of large predator incidents. House Bill #33 and an act generally revising laws related to wolf hunting, House Bill #31.

You might want to take a look at these bills so you can understand them and if you have comments or questions give one of the committee members a call. Legislative Committee members are Tom Barnes, Bob Sheppard, Toby Walrath, Scott Blackman, John Hughes and Jim Buell as a resource person.

There are lots of other bills that deal with FWP, so if you have a desire, look them up on the Montana Legislature web site.

2) The MTA will host a trapping education day in the rotunda of the capitol again during the legislature. It will be February 4. If you are interested in helping just show up in Helena around 9 AM. We again will meet and greet legislators and talk trapping.

3) Toby Walrath has taken on putting together what will be billed as a Trapping Heritage Celebration day or weekend. The details are being worked out but looks to be held in Lolo Montana sometime in May. Thanks Toby for taking this on, this will be a public education endeavor and good way to promote trapping.

4) As you are most likely aware, the Wolverine trapping season was halted by judge Sherlock in Helena just before it was do to start December 1st. There will be a hearing on January 10, to see if it will open again or not.

5) Montana Trapper Education was a discussed at length again. Terry and Fran have been working hard to get an agreement with the FWP. The board voted (not unanimously) to sign the contract document. So hopefully that should help the education issue. But either way the MTA will continue to educate trappers the way it has been done for over 25 years, with or without the FWP. We’ll see.

6) The Western States Fur Sale will be held again this year in Columbus, MT. On March 15,16, and 17. This is the same weekend as last year. It will always be the second weekend in March so mark your calendar. Fur prices look to be up again this season.

7) There will be a couple of fur handling clinics held this winter, one in District 2 and one in District 4, check on the dates and plan to attend, it is a good time to visit with old friends and meet some new ones and a great time to learn the proper way to put up your fur.

8) District meetings will be held in the spring, check for dates and plan to attend. The district meetings are the place you have a chance to talk to the FWP about quota’s and regulations. And it’s a great way to show your support of the MTA.

9) Our annual rendezvous will be held again in Lewistown the second weekend in September. Again mark your calendar.

10) The MTA will have booth at the sports show in Missoula March 22 – 24. If you are in the area and would like to help let Jim or Fran know so they can get a gate pass for you.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something that should be reported on but that is about it for now. The next board meeting will be held May 5th in Lewistown. You are invited to attend, remember the MTA is your organization, we can always use input and help. I hope that everyone has a great holiday season and that your stretchers remain full. — Tom Barnes



Wolf trapping is upon us, we will see how this turns out for all of us. There seems to be a fair amount of interest in the western part of the State. I believe this will be short lived once all the new trappers see just how difficult this venture will be. I like the interest it has sparked in trapping and hopefully it will gather some new trappers or bring old trappers back into the game.

Out wolverine season was the latest attack by the anti crowd. It must be nice to have a District judge in your back pocket. The last minute closure is what gripes me the most. I was thinking about submitting a bill to the judge for all of my time and effort that was invested preseason, only to have it negated on the evening before the opener. A little fishy smelling to me. Hopefully science and our FWP will come into the forefront in January and restore a wolverine harvest for Montana.

It looks like we are maybe having some luck with the trappers education funding and the FWP. I hope this continues forward for both sides involved. I am sure there will be more to follow during our Board meeting.

Take Care. — Tater



The first 4 wolves trapped during the Montana 2012-13 wolf trapping season (as of Dec 21st) have been trapped in District 1. So far this season, 100 wolves have been harvested in Montana (96 by hunters and 4 by trappers) with 37% of that harvested occurring in Region 1. State-wide, the wolf harvest is lagging behind the 2011-12 wolf harvest, which only took 75% of the targeted quota that year.

The otter quota for District 1 was quickly filled by an unexpected early date in November. As of Dec 21st, none of the other district quotas for otter has been reached. The District 1 fisher quota has already been filled. The bobcat quota for District 1 is more than 80% filled (205 harvested out of a quota of 250), while no other district has reached 60% of it’s bobcat quota. It seems that either: 1) fur harvesters in District 1 are better at harvesting furbearers than are fur harvesters in other Districts or 2) there are a lot more furbearers in District 1 than managers think and the quotas are set low relative to the furbearer populations. Or, it could be just a coincidence that District 1 furbearer quotas consistently fill up before quotas in other Districts.

MTFW&P biologists asked me (and a representative from Montana Fur Harvesters) to participate in a conference call this week to discuss the idea of several small trapping closure areas in the Kalispell vicinity. There is a local public desire for trapping closures along “groomed cross country ski trails” because of fear of wolf traps along those areas. I said that MTA would need maps of the locations and sizes of the 6 suggested areas before we could consider the idea further. There are many details that MTA would want to discuss, such as: locations, sizes, boundary posting, dates, equipment restrictions, set restrictions, etc. I will share more on this when I learn more on this.

A spring MTA meeting date has not been set yet, but it will be late March or early April. Our last meeting only had 8 attendees: the MFW&P furbearer biologist, 5 past/present MTA District directors, and 1 MTA member, and 1 past trapper. THESE MEETINGS INFLUENCE YOUR FURBEARER REGULATIONS.

I will be moving on from MTA Board duties in the real near future. If you have an interest in your trapping future and the MTA, please consider stepping up as a MTA Director for District 1. — Paul C Fielder, District 1 Director



Hello, Trappers. We have had great successes here in D 2 and I have to thank the dedicated members who sacrifice their time so often to help promote trappers and trapping; Guy Kempthorne is always willing to publicly speak about trapping and represents trappers in a way that benefits us all. It seems like every time I turn around Bob Sheppard is standing there ready to work for the MTA whether its travelling to education programs, FWP commissioner meetings or lending a hand to any trapper who needs help and Denny Schutz is as dependable as the sun when it comes to defending our trapping heritage. All three were at the recent Bass Creek Trap Free “unveiling” on the 29th of November in Stevensville. It is great to know we have such dedicated individuals amongst our ranks.

Ed Hebbe III and Bert Wustner were unable to attend due to other obligations but they were involved from day one and I must extend my gratitude to both of them for all their support. Tom Kuglin was also at the original meeting but was unable to attend. Next time you see one of these trappers at a trapping venue, be sure to say thank you. They do so much for trapping and tirelessly defend your rights to trap in Montana – they deserve it.

The animal rights crowd is growing … more annoying around Missoula and it’s time to rock a Pro trapping celebration. We are planning to have a Western Montana Trapper Celebration on May 18th and 19th 2013 at the Lolo Community Center. It will be a much needed venue to promote trapping. So much anti-trapping publicity has been given in our local newspapers and we are getting ready to make some noise with a two day trapper’s event. If you would like to help in any way contact Guy, Bert, Ed III, Bob or Me and we will get you assigned to a task. It will take a lot of effort to pull this off and we NEED your help. If you love trapping and want to help promote our incredible Heritage take part!

We will be raising money for the MTA and will have venues available to get trapping supplies. We have already contacted some of our affiliates and there is interest. My goal is to work with District 2 MTA members to unite all the sportsman’s groups and put an end to the division between trappers and hunters. Together we can run these anti-Montana groups out of Montana.

I recently put on a Fur-bearer identification class with a Boy Scout troop in Hamilton. After showing the children all the skulls and hides of virtually every species in Montana they made tracks on paper with molds from 11 species of animal tracks. They took the rubber molds, pressed them into a big ink pad and then pressed it on the paper under the animal’s name. They loved it! And so did I.

These furbearer ID kits are available through the MTA and there is nothing better we can do than to teach our youngsters about animals and trapping. I also brought it to work and had a group of office workers do the activity and three of them brought their copies of animal tracks home to use next time they are out hiking. Several of our MTA members visit schools and clubs to teach youngsters about traps and trapping and they agree it is a rewarding experience.

You don’t have to be an expert to promote trapping. Take advantage of the resources that the MTA provides. We are almost 1000 members strong – let’s use what we have and educate people every chance we get. Which reminds me, a fur handling clinic will be held in Deer Lodge on January 12, the District 2 Trapper Education class will be held on Spurgin Road in Missoula on February 16, 2013. The District Spring meeting will be held on March 9, 2013. Ed Hebbe is also going to host another trapping clinic on beautiful Lake Diane around June time frame. I went last year and learned a lot. Please call me for details on any of these opportunities to learn and share.

We are an active Association and there is so much to teach and learn it never stops. Take advantage of these great opportunities. Like Shepp often says, trapping is life-long learning. I hope you all participate in all the MTA has to offer.

See you there – Trappers Rock! — Toby Walrath



Everything seems to be going along pretty well in Southwestern Montana. Trapping season is in full swing. I have noticed a lot of interest in trapping in the Dillon area, both young and old and it is nice to see that trapping is looked at as a good thing. I have had a lot of people look me up and inquire about our sport and how to get involved. I help with what I can and if they are serious about it I let them know I will help them all they want, but they must first join the MTA. I have had a few takers.

Our spring meeting in District Three will be held on the 23rd of March at the Search and Rescue Building in Dillon. Same itinerary as in the past, couple of demos, lunch and then the meeting.

We lost a fellow trapper and lifelong MTA member, Glen Hanson passed away. Glen will be missed by all who knew him, he was always at every function that was carried on by the MTA.

Take Care. — Tater



Trapping season is upon us for another year, with another exciting new season approaching, wolf trapping. I traveled to three different FWP wolf trapping classes to hand out information packets about MTA and felt we had a positive response from those attending the classes. The class I attended in Great Falls was informative, I picked up a few pointers myself. I feel people now realize what it will take to trap a wolf and that you will have your work cut out. Now let’s see how many people actually go out and trap wolves.

This year Josh Lodge and I are planning on doing a fur handling workshop on Jan. 26th at Sterling Cattle Feedlot at Vaughn. We will start about 8:30 and go to about 3 in the afternoon. It will be based after the one that is held in Deer Lodge on Jan. 12th. It will be open to both MTA members and non members alike. Just bring a chair and a sack lunch and come learn about proper fur handling. This will be for both beginners and experienced trappers. Hope to have a bunch of different animals to skin and even some for glad removal. For more information call me or Josh. Scott (406) 235-4227 or Josh (406) 231-3130.

Also the District 4 meeting will be held April 7th @ 2 pm at the FWP headquarters at Giant Springs.

Happy Trapping. — Scott Blackman



Hello all. Hope this finds you having a good trapping season. Our weather has been a challenge; so far rain, snow, 50 degrees and 5 degrees all in one day. Bobcat harvest is slower than in the past few years. All the big fires we had in District 5 this year is having a detrimental effect on the harvest. Prices are looking good for most furs. This might be a good year to try the fur sale held in Columbus this spring. Last year the MTA sold over $218,000 worth of fur.

The wolf season is off and running with lots of interest and as of this report – no major problems. We need to be ready; as with a new legislature and governor, the antis will be trying to make a run to stop trapping. We need to be ready for the fight at all levels.

Our spring meeting is planned for April 14th at 2:00pm in Columbus at the 307 club. Hope to see everybody there. — Jay Federer



Howdy, D-6. This will be brief, its harvest season, make hay while the haying is good. Deer hunters were again a blight to our coyote line. In some parts of the world they deal with thieves appropriately, why not here? Too many limp wrists, I suppose. Coyote numbers are down in our area – few pups and no influx from Canada. I started opening up adult females to see if they had bred or if parvo virus had wacked the pups. What I found was that less than half the adult females bred and of those, litter sizes were small – two to three pups rather than the usual six or seven. I understand coyote numbers are high south of the Missouri, not sure about East or West of us. I will be talking to the biologists up here to try and get an earlier opener for Swift Fox next year – possibly October 15th or 20th to coincide with when most coyote trappers get started on the Hi-Line. Even with proper pan tension there are occasional non-targets caught, so why not allow harvest? The next year I will try to get the quota raised as their population is expanding and to compensate for the 30 or 40 that had been live trapped in the past for relocation.

I was very disappointed Rick Hill was not elected. We needed him. Nonetheless, there are some good bills in the legislature concerning wolves and lions that give us hope.

Our spring meeting will be Sunday, March 24 at the Odd Fellows Hall in Saco. Lasagna at noon and the meeting will start at 1pm. I realize this is in the middle of calving season but Pam and I will not be available in April.  Watch your Top Knot! — Kirk



Winter Greetings. The end of a year is upon us once again. It is said that time goes by faster as you get older. As a kid, we had plenty of time for activities, friends and excitement. As adults we seem to have far too many required activities to handle in a day’s time. Thanks to all of you that use some of that personal time to participate in MTA’s activities, operational duties, education and politics. For those of you in the younger crowd that haven’t gotten your feet wet yet, it can be a very educational and satisfying experience. Give it a try next year, we always need new ideas and younger bodies.

As some of you know, this fall MTA lost an older supportive member, Glen Hanson. Many got to know Glen through his trap equipment & book booth at the Rendezvous and other gatherings. Our Rendezvous will have a large hole to fill without Glen’s participation. But I expect his spirit will still be in attendance. My condolences go out to Glen’s family.

MTA has had a very busy year. My new endeavor as FWP Liaison for MTEP has been quite a trial, with periods of frustration with our State Government, yet hopefully successful at the end of the year. My education & understanding of Government is still in need of improvement. With a new Governor and administrative personnel, I hope Montana can get back on track for a more successful future. There have been serious financial & operation problems within FWP and Montana government in general for the past several years. We the People need to keep our State functioning properly. The attack on our wolverine trapping is just one more example.

After a busier than usual winter, spring & summer schedule, I had the opportunity to take a real vacation this fall. As usual, part of that vacation was of the working type, yet still very enjoyable. Born & raised in Montana, I have had opportunities to travel to a number of different Western states, yet had never been on a road trip east of the Montana border. No close friends or relatives in that direction growing up. Assisting an elderly widow return to her winter home in TN, we traveled through parts of seven other states and over two thousand miles! Uffda, as a Norwegian descendant friend of mine would say. Later I traveled in two other states visiting a cousin in GA. We had a 23 skunk day on one stretch of interstate; fortunately none of those peppy la pews met our vehicle. The further east we traveled, the more coons were seen, then possums, squirrels and other critters I had never seen, being from Montana. Being a trapper’s wife, one is always tempted to stop and salvage the fur. No way, was my travel companion’s statement. Not even to see what that possum looks like up close? Maybe next time, on a cooler day.

Visiting with other state’s rural residents is always interesting & entertaining. All rural people deal with similar situations and problems, it seems. So you are from Montana; what do the three S’s stand for? A Georgia native informed me the government transplanted wolves into their state & NC without public approval. Hum, does that sound familiar? I just missed the GA trapping Rendezvous, which started the day I flew home to Montana. Darn, that would have been a good chance to visit with southern trappers. While attending a defensive pistol class with my cousin, I did see some interesting country and heard a hound dog treeing a critter in the background. A lot of snake boots were being sold in the local stores. Rattle snakes in that area have learned not to rattle, due to feral hogs locating & eating them from their defense sound. Not good for the hunter & trapper moving through the thick under growth. With the large variety of berries, nuts, seeds, roots and other food for animals, it is difficult to tell just what it was that darted or slithered through the thick brush & trees ahead of you. At least the bears sleep most of the winter here in Montana.

Sorghum tastes great, grits come in a variety of forms and I even enjoyed Frog jam; it was red but made from a variety of fruits. Yes, the Smokey Mountains look hazy and historical areas are everywhere. I would enjoy visiting these areas again, with more time available. Fall colors were just coming along, the weather was very pleasant and everything looked green. The heavy forest fire smoke in Montana didn’t disappear until we were half way across South Dakota. Two weeks later, I found blue skies flying into Montana and at home. Montana was drier and much colder; but ready for the hunting & trapping season. I filled my deer tag this fall and hope to harvest another wolf this winter. I have been close, but not in the right spot soon enough, yet. With persistence, a wolf may just present itself one day.

This month marks Montana’s latest wolf trapping season, since the mid 1950’s. Most news articles are calling this the first wolf trapping in Montana, which is not true. A lot of interest has been generated, yet it will take new education, persistence, skill & luck for most trappers to succeed. Snares are currently forbidden, so that will need to be changed for Montana to effectively manage this extreme predator. Currently, Montana’s wolf harvest through hunting is lower than the numbers last year. Smarten up one wolf, the whole pack seems to become more wary. Be careful out there and watch for the ARF’s that may be lurking in the shadows. Good luck to all.

MTA has gained a large number of new members, through a benefactor who offered a one year free membership to anyone who was not a current member and attended the FWP wolf certification classes. All members need to contact their Legislators this session to encourage better trapping regulations and continued support of MTA’s Trapper Education program. FWP has been getting tougher to deal with in receiving legislated Pitman/Robinson funds for our education classes. MTA certified trapping education instructors are doing a wonderful job, on a completely volunteer basis. Watch news updates for a variety of scheduled classes in the next several months. You are never too old to learn new tricks.

Sweepstakes 2013 tickets are ready for purchase. Ask your local MTA member or District Director for the latest list of prizes. This year may be your lucky opportunity to win a prize and help fund MTA operations & scholarships. Speaking of scholarships, encourage the students in your area to apply for one of the MTA scholarships this year. Get those applications in early, so you do not miss your chance.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! — Terry J Sheppard, Treasurer & FWP Liaison 



Through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor and with many thanks to MTA Lifemember Matt Lumley; as Matt was instrumental in orchestrating this offer. The offer of a free membership to the MTA or the NTA for those who were not a current member and attended a MTFWP wolf certification class resulted in a total of 562 attendees taking advantage of the offer – as of Dec 1st, 2012. That is 372 new MTA members and 190 new NTA members. The first and second weekends of December will have another 600+ people attending wolf trapping certification classes; if the percentage of return on the free membership applications is the same as the first 1950 attendees, then we will see about 175 additional applications; 115 for the MTA and 60 for the NTA.

Thanks goes out to those folks who got our message out and assisted by making the 2650 free membership packets available to those who attended. In no particular order they are: Jay Ferderer; Toby Walrath; John Wilson; Guy Kempthorne; John Hughes; Donn Sponholz; Scott Blackman; Dave Wallace; John Fraley; Paul Fielder; Bob Sheppard; Dennis Schutz; Keven Heinle; Tater McKay; Tom Barnes; Vanna Boccadori and Mike Ross. My sincerest apologies if I have omitted anyone. — Jim Buell



Three elected officer positions are open for nomination and election in 2013; nominations received to date are listed below. Additional nominations are requested; please submit to Tom Barnes or Jim Buell.

President – No Nominations

VP West – Toby Walrath

Treasurer – Terry J Sheppard

As per the MTA election rules adopted by the Board; the offices of President, VP West & Treasurer are now open for nomination. The nominations will close and the Board will adopt the slate of candidates at the 2013 Spring Board meeting. Voting will take place by absentee ballot and at the 2013 MTA Rendezvous.



The Western States Fur Sale will take place at the “Little Metra” located in Columbus Montana.

Receiving dates on site will be Friday March 15th noon to 8:00 pm and Saturday March 16th 8:00 am to noon. If necessary, the sale will continue on Sunday March 17th.

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



Bring your antlers for donation to the Columbus fur sale in March or contact someone from the Fur Sale Committee to arrange for pickup of your antler. All monies raised from the sale of your donated antler will be used to protect trapping.

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