Montana Trappers Association January 2014 Report


President — Toby Walrath, P.O. Box 182, Corvallis, MT 59828

Vice President East — John Hughes 3065 Winnet Hwy, Roundup, MT 59072; (406)429-2002;

Vice President West — Jason Maxwell, 4232 Hermione LN, Missoula, MT 59808

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

Membership Secretary — Karen Chapman, P.O. Box 174, Belgrade, MT 59714; (406) 539-1871

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 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


Several years ago I interviewed a lifelong trapper who told me that if I was going to get into trapper education I would also have to get into the politics because they go hand in hand. At that time I thought I knew what he meant. I didn’t. I do now.

This year has been a wild ride for me, one which I am proud to be part of. Because of my involvement with the MTA I was able to participate in a variety of events; the Great Rocky Mountain Outdoor Show in Missoula, the Youth Conservation Days in Corvallis, Youth trapper camp in Havre, the Montana Trappers Rendezvous in Lewistown and the Trapper Heritage Celebration in Lolo. I worked with other trappers to teach an education class at the RMEF building in Missoula and put on a demonstration at a school for a group of boy scouts. The Ol’ West Festival in Missoula was precluded by a trip to Dillon to haul the MTA trapper cabin back to Hamilton with a ¾ ton pick-up truck. Then after borrowing a 1 ton Diesel I had the courage to pull it the rest of the way through Missoula for the two day event and back home again.

Because of that same involvement in trapper education I spent hundreds of hours on the phone with MTA members, Forest Service and FWP personnel, game wardens and biologists. I attended two trapping workshops put on by the FWP and walked into stores to ask for donations for fund raising events. Emails come and go so fast that half the time I have to skim over the key items and try to formulate a coherent response before moving on to the next.

I travelled to Helena twice for commissioners meetings, again for a trapper working group meeting. I drove to Missoula for my first Citizens Advisory Council meeting and again for a second trapper working group meeting. The board of Directors meeting obligation found me in Lewistown where I also attended the trapper education certification course offered by our education committee. The Homecoming parade in Missoula was really fun for me because I dressed up like a mountain man (that’s where my heart really is anyway) and we trappers handed out pro trapping literature to an unsuspecting crowd. I am not sure if that was political or educational but it seemed more like a political move so that’s how I remember it. I sat in front of sportsmen’s groups and discussed ballot initiative ”legalise”. I made phone calls with the attorney General’s office and the Governor’s Office of Budget and finance, sent emails and filled out surveys for attorneys due to my being an intervener in the Lynx lawsuit.

As the new President of the MTA I have developed contacts in the NTA who have opened doors for me I didn’t know existed. I have been faced with tough decisions and difficult situations, situations where I felt like my head would explode at any minute. I have listened to non trappers rant about what trappers need to do to fix things or to improve our image. I don’t recall these individuals ever being present at any of the education and outreach events although I did see some of their affiliates at venues asking for membership dues.

I am proud to be serving the MTA and the trappers of Montana in this role and I am excited to have participated in so many things this year. The coming year will perhaps be our toughest challenge. There are countless issues and legal issues to address, every decision we make can be the deciding factor between trapping on public land in 2014 or not.

I have confidence in the MTA. I have confidence in the individuals I see consistently in the batter’s box ready and willing to step up to the plate whenever they are called. We have tough decisions to make, decisions that may require us to swallow our pride or to defend our position and refuse to back down. Every decision we make has a consequence. We must make decisions after carefully considering the benefit to trappers and trapping versus the impact to our personal freedoms.

Beating the ballot initiative will be our greatest victory in 2014.

I ask that as we are faced with tough decisions, you trust that my views on issues are based on my love for trapping and my dedication for it to continue. That every decision made by the majority vote of this association will be the message I carry to whatever governing body it is deemed necessary regardless of my personal opinion. I anticipate tough situations and I expect the passionate members of this association to voice your opinions and fight to protect what’s yours. I am proud to be part of this dedicated group and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. — Toby Walrath


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