Montana Trappers Association June-July 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



As I write this version of my report it has turned winter outside here in southwest Montana. I am glad that my calving is almost done. I checked my rat floats today and the rats are really on the move, had a 12 rat day, pretty big for my checks. I hope that all of you are getting the time to do some spring trapping.

This weekend was the annual MTA Fur Auction in Columbus and it was a good one. I personally want to say Thank You to all the volunteers that help to put the auction on. And a big Thank You to all the trappers that brought some fur and helped to support the MTA, your continued support will pay off in the long run in our fight to keep trapping going in Montana.

The various District Spring meetings are happening and I hope you all get the chance to attend and voice your concerns. This is an election year for Dist. Directors so get out and vote. The MTA and FWP will also be interested in hearing what you as trappers have to say about furbearer quotas and whether a change is needed or not.

The Trapper Education classes in the west were well attended and successful once again. It was interesting to see the wide variation in attendees, from young kids to older adults, male and female, and from housewives to business people. They are all interested in education about trapping and that is awesome to see. These meetings are well worth the effort that it takes to put them on. It seems that the same people are willing to step up and put these on and I am sure they could use some additional help (hint, hint).

Our next big event will be the Youth Trappers Camp in June. If you haven’t taken the time to attend then this is the year for you to do so. What a great event for kids both young and old. It is an event that my family looks forward to every year. If you have any questions please contact me or Jim and Fran and we can help you out.

Keep the Rendezvous in mind also, it will be in Lewistown in September, I look forward to seeing you all there. Thank you all once again for being members of your state trapping association. When we defeat the next challenge that is ahead of us, those of you that are reading this can stand proud and now that it was you that fought for our privilege to trap in Montana. Try and get a fellow trapper to join the MTA and try to take a kid trapping.

Take Care. — Tater



We held our Spring meeting for the NW Montana at the MFW&P office on Saturday March 31st. It was a very good meeting with very poor attendance, although extra effort was made to contact and inform trappers about the meeting prior to the meeting. I was really disappointed by the lack of attendance. MFW&P Furbearer Biologist Tim Their presented some good harvest data on marten, bobcats, and otter. Harvest quotas and seasons will remain the same this coming season. I shared the result and sales prices of furs sold at the Western States Fur Auction two weeks earlier. We discussed ideas and considerations that a future wolf trapping and snaring season might consider. These ideas were based, in part, on an evening discussion on wolf trapping during the MTA fur auction. We discussed a rash of illegal trapping incidents within the Region and ideas to curtail it. One Kalispell “trapper” had been cited six times this season for illegal trapping. Dave Pemble and Dave Wallace were discussing having a trapper education class this spring, possibly May 5th at Lawrence Park in Kalispell. Contact them for more info if interested. I offered to serve as MTA Director of this Region, and was officially elected. I pointed out that May 5th was the spring MTA Board of Director’s meeting weekend and I would not be able to help with a trapper education class. It seems that each season of the year is a busy season, and this is no exception. My wife (and trapping and hunting partner) is running for state Senate in our District #7, so our spring is busier than most. But, it could be good for us fur harvesters if we have a voice in Helena that really knows what trapping is really about.

As the new Director of MTA District 1, PLEASE feel free to contact me with you ideas and concerns about fur harvest in NW Montana. If I don’t hear from you, other people will be making decisions for you. — Paul Fielder – Thompson Falls, MT



District 2 trappers,

It has been a busy last couple of months for me with the trapping season winding down, the district 2 trappers education class and the fur auction. Not to mention trying to get all my fur ready for the sales. Those beaver never seem to get easier as I get older. But I sure do enjoy catching them and smelling the castor in the air. Overall, it was a great trapping season for me and all the trappers that I had a chance to talk to had good success.. I had the chance to take a few young trappers with me on the line and each time we had success. The excitement that they show reminds me of trapping when I was a youngster.

March 16th and 17th, Toby Walrath, Bert Wustner and I loaded about ten trappers fur in our truck and headed over to Columbus, MT for the Western States fur auction. It was a great time and the amount of fur there was overwhelming. Lots of coyotes, cats, rats, beaver, coon, fox and marten. The prices paid on the fur was definitely up from previous auctions. It is nice to get paid for all the hard work that we put into harvesting our fur. There are a lot of MTA members that put a great deal of time and hard work to make this sale happen and they all should be proud of the sale and the money that it makes for the MTA. If you ever get a chance to go to the fur sale, I highly recommend it and you will learn a lot and have a great place to sell your fur.

On April 7th we had our spring meeting and many things were discussed regarding quotas, a possible trapping closure at part of Bass Creek and overall comments by the trappers that attended. We had a pretty good turn out; although, I would have liked to see more trappers in attendance. We all need to get more involved in the next couple of years to help fight against the anti trapping crowd. We are all busy with our lives, but if we all pitch a little time then the weight would be lifted off some of the individuals that do all of it now.

We also voted in Toby Walrath to be our new District 2 Director. I really enjoyed being the director the last two years. I plan to be more involved with the MTA, I just won’t be the director. Toby is great guy and will direct us in the right direction. He is heavily involved in the MTA already and we should thank him for taking on more duties.

Take care. — Guy



Held at Mt FWP in Missoula Saturday. There was a pretty good turnout of old and some newer younger trappers. The FWP was very ably represented by Mike Thompson and Jay Kolbe. They had some very good information on furbearers. There was much discussion on various aspects of the furbearers and the quotas and seasons. It was recommended to move the bobcat quota back up to the 180 level that it had been previously. The biological data seems to support this move at this time. If things change-who knows?

One very informative session, at least for me, was the info on wolverines. In the studies done on wolverine, it shows several things: 1) habitat, as we all know is one of the most important aspect of the wolverine; 2) the management program currently in place for the wolverine in this state has been working; 3)because of or despite the fact that we are harvesting wolverine on a sustained yield basis, the wolverine numbers within this state are increasing. This is due in part to the assistance of trappers. Tell that to Footloose the next time they get to ranting about the “endangered wolverine.”

As regards the fooltloose bunch- they are ramping up their agenda and putting lots of stuff in the newspapers. We should not take this group lightly because they are not going away and our liberal media seems to be more supportive of them by the day. While this group is made up of a bunch of loosely strung folks, many of whom are not Montana residents, they still will pose a serious problem for all the trappers of this state. Do not think that because you live and trap on the east side that they will not affect you. That is an ostrich approach, you know- the old head in the sand deal. If they are allowed to continue unchecked, we will only have more problems, and this will be for all of us. By all of us, I mean ALL OF US. The ones who just can’t join the MTA because it is not run right or that they can not see what the MTA is doing for them. These are the ones who seldom, if ever show up at a commission meeting or a legislative meeting to express support of anything. They will be the first to call to someone and whine about it when it does not go as they think it should. I am sure that most of you know some of those types of whiners.

Enough of that as I get pretty irritated with these folks and sometimes let it get away from me.

Our education program is coming along and the new MTA Trapper Ed Book is done and should be going to the printers soon. We seem to be running into some problems with some of the FWP folks at Helena but I believe that we will just keep doing what we have been doing as far as education is concerned and keep waiting for the FWP to catch up. It is one of those things where you need to lead, follow or just get the hell out of the way and the FWP is not leading and seem unwilling to follow. To me that only leaves one option. If there are any of you that would like to become instructors, give Fran Buell a call and get your name on the list as we should be doing another certification training soon. Try to get some of these younger trappers interested in this as that is where our future lies.

Fur prices were up this year and look good so far. This means that we will see more new folks out there and we need to all be aware of the other users. we do not need any more train wrecks with traps. We know that fooltloose manufactures some of them but it is hard to prove, particularly to people who don’ know anything about traps and trapping. Don’t give them ammunition by doing stupid or unethical acts. Be aware of the sensitivities of people who don’t hunt, trap or fish because many of these people still live in Disneyland and don’t know about the real world out there. So try to break it to them gently and show them that the truth is not so bad. The biggest thing is to tell the truth and do so in a manner that will convince them. Sometimes it is hard to do and some will never be swayed, but you will find that the majority of people will listen and can well go away with a different and hopefully better perspective. It is up to all of us to project a good as well as truthful image.

Well, enough preaching for today.

I hope you all had a good trapping season and are looking forward to next years. I know when I pull my traps it is with mixed feelings. One is that I sure can use a bit of a break but it is with regret that I have to pull. Within a couple of days, though, I am looking for new sign and anticipating next year.

It appears that it will be a busy summer and that will keep me occupied until fall so that is good. Youth Trapper Camp is coming up and maybe I can make it to a convention out of state as well. Those conventions are lots of fun when we are not putting them on and have to do all the work. Always good times.

Later. — Bob Sheppard



Hi Trappers & Trapperetts:

I was just looking out my window and I think we have had more snow in the last couple of days then we have had all winter. Here in Deer Lodge we have had a real open winter. I like this Global Warming!

We in District 2 put on our annual fur handling class in Deer Lodge. As always it was a real success. We had a trapper education class in Missoula that was well attended. It was great to see 5 ladies there learning about trapping. The same was true at our trapper education class in Butte.

Our Sweepstakes tickets are ready to go. I think we, the MTA has the best sweepstakes in the state. I have extra tickets here in Deer Lodge. If you need or want some, give me a call, 406-846-2304. You can pick them up or if I am heading your way, I’ll drop some off.

I heard our fur auction was a real good one again. Keep up the good work MTA! All the Way!

I am thinking about having another “Day in the Field” this summer but I haven’t come up with a day yet. Keep an eye on the newsletter for day, time and place.

Until then, God Bless you and yours.

The Ole Drive by Trapper. — Ed Hebbe III



It has been busy lately in District 3, we had our trapper education class in Butte, the fur handling workshop in Deer Lodge, we had our spring meeting in Dillon, and we just concluded the MTA Fur Auction in Columbus. There were quite a number of you from District 3 that attended and helped out so that is why I included it in my district report.

The MTA was asked to go to the high school today and talk to the students in history class as well as geography class on trapping and its effect on the history of our nation and Montana. The students were very interested in the traps and the beaver pelts that were present. They had numerous questions and I believe that they all enjoyed the lectures and I look forward to the next opportunity to visit with them again.

Our spring meeting was the weekend before last. It was well attended by trappers from all over district 3. We had 2 demos put on, the first was a question and answer session that was conducted by our local FWP game wardens, they addressed some of the items in the regulations that they see every year that trappers do to get into trouble. The wardens also listened to the concerns that the trappers had about FWP enforcement as well. I believe it was a great success and I hope to continue it in the future. Also a short muskrat skinning demo was put on just to get everyone thinking about rat trapping and also to give the chili a little added flavor (just kidding). The discussion on quotas with the FWP was uneventful and the general consensus was to leave all the furbearer quotas where they were. And the final bit of business was election of director and all those present seemed to think that they needed another 2 years of hearing me jabber, so I accepted the nomination again and Thank You for your support.

If you are ever in the Dillon area please give me a shout I would love to visit with you. Enjoy your spring trapping and Thanks for being members of the MTA.

Take Care. — Tater



Howdy D-6

Winter is over and it was an exact opposite of last year – we had very little snow but lots of rain and mud. Ice, gumbo and warm weather in the 50’s and even 60’s in December and January, go figure! The warm weather affected fur quality but not as adversely as I had feared. At least a trapper could get out and harvest throughout the whole winter unlike the last several where heavy snow prohibited pick up travel.

Once again our MTA Fur Auction was a huge success! Thanks to all the trappers and buyers that supported the MTA as well as to all the workers that made it happen.

Our swift fox harvest increased from seven to sixteen this year – still short of the quota of 20 but it reflected increased interest and a milder winter. The bobcat harvest increased, as well, but also fell short of the quota. The bobcat quota is under some scrutiny this year as it has now been several years since we have met the quota of 125. Ryan Rauscher, the FWP Region 6 Nongame Biologist, indicated to me that there are many factors to be considered. At the time of our conversation he was in the process of talking to the trappers who had contributed to the harvest to get their input. He is waiting for other biological data to be compiled – one of which is the ratio of adults to juveniles. This will indicate recruitment and survival of young animals into the population. The last several hard winters may have reduced the number of kittens that survived. If this is the case, he suggested the department might consider a small reduction in the quota to give the population a chance to rebound to a more healthy level. Hopefully, he will have that information available in time for our spring meeting.

By the time you get our newsletter our spring meeting might be over but, if not, I would like to invite everybody to come and participate. Our meeting will again be in Saco at the Odd Fellows Hall. Lunch will start at noon. This year we’ll give Pam a break from making her delicious chili and I’ll whip up a pot of my infamous logger’s Slop! The meeting itself will start at 1PM. It’s an election year so come and vote. We will be accepting nominations for VP East, Membership Secretary, Recording Secretary, and NTA Director, as well as electing a D6 Director. So, if you or anyone you know is interested in one of these positions, be sure to attend and speak up at the meeting. Jim and Fran Buell will be there to bring us up-to-date on our Youth Trappers Camp and status of our new Trapper Education Manual, as well as MEWM and Footloose activities. FWP will be represented by Ryan Rauscher who will give us a rundown on quotas, etc… FWP wardens, Dirk Paulsen, Mike Lee and possibly Todd Anderson, will be there to answer legal and regulatory questions. One last thing – if anybody has any items to donate for the auction or raffle prizes for our September Rendezvous, please feel free to bring them to our spring meeting and I will see to it that they get to Lewistown. These items can be anything large or small, new or used and in good condition, that would help generate funds for the MTA.

Watch your Top Knot! — Kirk




After lunch – provided by Kirk Knudsen, Jason Geer and Pam Ross – and conversation that started at noon, Director Knudsen called the meeting to order at 1:05PM April 15th at the Odd Fellows Hall in Saco, MT.



D6 Sub Director, Jason Geer, was introduced to the membership.

Past D6 Directors “Coyote” Charlie Shanefelter and Jim Halseth were in attendance and introduced; also, past D6 Sub Director Tom Hofer.

FWP Region 6 Wardens Dirk Paulsen, Todd Anderson, Ron Howell and Todd Tyron were introduced and guest speaker Mark Sullivan, FWP Region 6 Wildlife Manager, standing in for Ryan Rauscher, FWP Region 6 Furbearer and Nongame Biologist.



Informational displays on a variety of subjects of interest to members were available for viewing and reference throughout the meeting, including one by Geer on the FTA Trappers College.



Director Knudsen reported the district membership is up by five in the past six months and passed around the membership list asking members to update their contact information.

The next Board meeting is May 6th and members are welcome to attend.


MTA Fur Sale

The Averages Results were shared with members and they were encouraged to support the sale.


American Prairie Reserve and Bison Issues

Ron Stoneberg, local rancher and former FWP Biologist, gave updates and explained controversies surrounding the issues, noting there is currently no trapping allowed on American Prairie Reserve (APR) land. He suggested members read Oceans of Grass by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which details their plans for the Northern Great Plains. Sullivan stated FWP does not have the same agenda as the WWF or APR.


Keystone XL Pipeline Update

Keystone XL (KXL) is applying for a Presidential Permit and anticipates approval by the start of 2013, construction could begin in the first quarter of the year and production in 2015. The oil pipeline would pass through D6 counties. Landowner concerns and opinions on the proposed pipeline vary.



Members Terry Thompson and Ron Stoneberg brought donations for auction (a pack basket and old traps, respectively) to be used at the Rendezvous to help raise funds for the SRPF.

Members reminded that small items are needed for the Raffle at the Rendezvous.


Annual Sweepstakes

Books were handed out for sales for the September drawings.

Members were unwilling to commit to a $100 item donation from D6 for next year’s Sweepstakes.


College Scholarships

Applications were made available and members reminded of the June 1st deadline.


Trapping of Wolves

Members were advised President Tom Barnes let the FWP Commissioners know in March that the MTA is now in favor of trapping and snaring of wolves and the Board has created a committee that will be meeting with Idaho trappers on how to proceed and also working on a Wolf Education/Agenda to present to the Commission.

Director Knudsen read a portion of an NTA report provided by Jim Buell, NTA Director (not able to attend) that stated MN, WI, MI, ID & MT are working towards trapping and/or shooting of wolves by next fall.

A lengthy discussion followed with many voicing concern about recent bad publicity, what regulations may be implemented and how those may eventually affect the current trapping regulations. Considering the potential negative impact on general trapping, many felt we may be risking too much and lose all trapping privileges or be encumbered with regulations we can’t live with. It may be wise to not support the trapping of wolves at this time.

Also, members voiced concerns about quality mandatory education and instructors. Many members would like to see the wolf designated as a predator by the legislature, like Wyoming, before trapping is allowed.

Stoneberg reported Jefferson County is considering a bounty.

Geer advised the group that a folder on one of the display tables was brought by him and is the Idaho certification book/process.

Sullivan expressed surprise that trappers were not more enthusiastic. He advised that FWP was under pressure to increase the harvest and of tentative, very recent plans for extending the rifle season to go through February 28th, no quotas and a general trapping season starting December 15th.


Warden Districts

Changes in districts were explained by the wardens: Paulsen shares covers all of Blaine and Hill counties and SW Phillips County with Howell, Anderson covers all of Valley County and shares the Frenchman and Larb Hills with Mike Lee (absent), Tyron covers McCone County.


Youth Tapper Camp

Applications were made available and it was reported the camp will likely, once again, fill up.


Education Committee and Trapping Education Manual

Geer reported the manual is in the final draft and hopefully will be in print soon.


School visits and County Fairs

Director Knudsen read part of a report from Fran Buell, Education Chair (not able to attend) emphasizing the positive effects of MTA booths and school visits.

Geer solicited volunteers to make 2 – 3 presentations in their communities at schools and also, down the road, at their county fairs.

Stoneberg reported he and Buell had done these visits in the past and the FWP education contact is Ron Seldon.

Bill Lauckner stated he and his wife had also done visits and still have boxes of fur. He volunteered to do these visits again.


Howard Johnson also volunteered.

Sullivan reported he does presentations at schools every year and had just done so at the Hinsdale school. He offered to work with us and coordinate visits. Sullivan advised that it is the bigger schools that have student populations most unfamiliar with furbearers.

Geer will coordinate with the volunteers, FWP Law Enforcement and Sullivan.

Color books, created by the Buell’s, that are given out to students were available for members.


National Trappers Association Update 

The National Trappers Association (NTA) membership is down and members were encouraged to join.

Members were reminded the NTA Western Regional Convention is June 1-3 and last year’s booklet was made available for review.


Ballot Initiative Committee Update

The Ballot Initiative Committee (BIC) formed to combat I-160 is essentially inactive since the initiative failed but did not disband in order to be ready for the next push by the anti’s. It is still filing reports with the State of Montana .

Jim Buell has filed charges of illegal campaign practices against Footloose and their BIC.



There were no nominations for offices up for re-election.

Lauckner nominated Director Knudsen to continue as D6 Director, seconded by Larry DiLulo, with no objections or further nominations from the members in attendance it was agreed Knudsen was re-elected.


FWP Presentation

Ryan Rauscher, FWP Furbearer and Nongame Biologist, was unable to attend and Mark Sullivan, FWP Region 6 Wildlife Manager gave a slide presentation prepared by Rauscher, in his stead, covering harvest metrics on Bobcat and Swift Fox. He reported the FWP is considering dropping the Bobcat quota to 75 due to an apparent declining population and solicited comments.

Halseth would prefer not to see the quota go below 100 unless there is a strong reason and asked Sullivan to consider that numbers are lower on years when trappers who take large numbers are not trapping.

Recreational trapping license sales were reported to be up.



Geer demonstrated deftly how to modify traps and passed around equipment and tools commonly used.



Director Knudsen thanked the members and guests for attending and the meeting was adjourned.

— Kirk Knudsen, D6 Director



Hello Everyone,

District 7’s Spring Meeting was held Sunday April 15 at the Speedway Cafe in Forsyth, including myself there were 13 people present.

The membership voted to raise the bobcat quota 100 bobcats and asks to change the tagging deadline to 10 days after the close of season, Due to the fact of finding a game warden or biologist is tough to do at times and distance traveled. This would make it more efficient for everyone if a central location was set as well.

Gary Van Haele gave a brief report of the status of the trapper’s cabin, which he hoped to have ready for the upcoming fair season, so if you have some spare time give Gary a call I’m sure he could use the help. He also at this time hasn’t received any applications for scholarships.

We talked about an upcoming wolf trapping and snaring season as well, without coming to any conclusions at this time.

I received some wolf snares from the folks at Thompson Snares and they were passed around so everyone could get a look at them to better understand the size and scope of what some use to harvest them.

For the Western States fur auction committee it was mentioned that there is a state wide radio show locally that has The Montana Outdoor Radio Show, to advertise the auction to possibly get a wider range of fur harvested to attend or at least send in their fur .

It was asked that the raffle tickets be sent out before the spring meeting to each of the Director so if people wanted them to sell they could obtain them sooner.

Nominations for MTA’s elected officers were opened to the floor and John Hughes was nominated for the VP East position; no other nominations were heard, nominations were then closed.

Nominations for District 7 Director were asked for, I was asked but declined, no other nominations were heard, so nominations closed. I feel that 6 terms has been enough and that its time for a change.

Respectfully Submitted. — Allan L Minear, District 7 Director



Greetings Everyone,

It’s been a busy spring for me, with working on the wolf issue and trying to get ready for a possible wolf trapping and snaring season. And getting ready for what I hope to be a busy water well season also.

The Western States Fur Auction went well, I was happy with the prices I heard about that were paid. Now is a good time to start getting traps and snares ready for next fall and winter. If you speed dip your traps in the spring time then you have all summer for them to air out! Then waxing them as the season gets closer to be ahead of the curve when fall rolls around.

Over the past year the Education Committee worked hard at overhauling the MTA Trappers Education Manual and it’s been a worthwhile effort to help bring the education program to the fore front of education for all those who take the class in the years to come.

The wolf trapping and snaring committee is working on suggestions for a season and an education class so that we can harvest wolves in the near future before they are a bigger problem than they are now for we the people of Montana.

This is also an election year; here is your chance to play an important part in how trapping is viewed and to become a leader in your association!

I’ve decided to not run again for the District 7 Director job; I’ve enjoyed working for the trappers and fur harvesters and trapping but feel it’s time for someone else to step up to the plate and take over with fresh ideas and a new approach to the years ahead of us.

I look forward to a busy summer and the challenges that lay ahead of all of us!

As always remember our servicemen and women who are serving our great country in your thoughts and prayers!

Respectfully Submitted. — Allan L Minear



I read something about how the wolves are really not killing so much game. This person said that it was just that the wolves were putting pressure on the ungulates and causing them to inhabit different areas than they were before. Where I live, trap and work we will have snow consistently through November, December, January, March, April and usually into May. That gives me more than five months were even my tired eyes can see track readily. The thing is there are not the tracks. When I do see tracks they are usually of wolves and other predators. Maybe the wolves have taught the game animals to travel without leaving tracks. It seems that the wolf lovers will come up with just about any excuse to try and justify their agenda. There are some strong similarities in the animal rights rhetoric and the wolf pushers. Think about it.

What I can tell you for certain after this year is, not only do the wolves change game habits but they also cause significant changes in the other predators. Lions and coyotes have started working the country in ways that I have not seen before. The bobcats are changing as well and I am seeing a lot more fox in areas that have not had fox in them in the last 40 years. That is not to say that it is a bad thing but it has sure made me look at things from a different perspective.

One other significant factor was the length of the wolf season and all the human activity involved. There were way more people out there this year during the late fall and winter. It was more like an extended big game season and it caused changes that I had not seen in previous winters. It will be interesting to see what transpires next season.

One thing that seems apparent to me concerning wolves: after following them for literally hundreds of miles on snow machine, snowshoes and horseback, and then talking to the average wolf hunter that I meet along the way, I believe that the vast majority of people seriously underestimate the wolves abilities. Listening to the game commission meetings does nothing to alleviate my concerns either. People seem to think that because they read about it in a book or got lucky one time that there is nothing to it. It appears to me that the wolf is a highly adaptive animal and can recognize threats much quicker than the coyotes. If you think the coyote is a wily animal then you will have a real challenge with wolves. I believe that we can manage them at decent levels but it will take some work and an aggressive management program. We will see what transpires on the succeeding commission meetings.

One thing for sure is that it will not ever be again like it was before. We are seeing the advent of a new game management technique. It remains to be seen how it will play out. — Bob Sheppard



The fourth annual Western Fur Auction at Columbus seemed to go pretty well this year. There was lots of fur and a good turnout of buyers. Almost all of the fur sold and there was not many that did not make the minimum bid of the sellers. As it goes on each year there are a few changes and things seem to run smoother each time. For sure I can tell you that when the fur comes in like that, the buyers and the sellers like it. As for the folks that run it and do the work, my hat is off for all the effort that they put forth to ensure the success of the sale.

At this last fur sale I sold the horns that had been donated for the Sportsmen’s Rights Protective Fund. The folks that donated shed horns for this have put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, by donating to this sale, to aid in the coming fight to protect our heritage. The last fight that we won cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 dollars. It did not get on the ballot or it would have cost us much more. The animal cultists are gearing up for another run at us. It is not over and another battle is in the works. Make no mistake about it, they will not quit until they are trounced soundly on all fronts and it is up to all of us to do our share. I cannot believe how many trappers that I have talked to that were not even concerned or aware of the close call we had before. Now with the price of fur coming up like it has, we are getting more folks back into trapping and also more new trappers. The potential for bad PR has increased as well as the confirmed anti will be even more incensed and willing to set up bad deals for the legitimate trapper. I expect to see some more newspaper coverage again before too long that will show some persons dog caught in a trap again. It is pretty easy for them to stage the incident. It is harder to prove that it was staged. These folks are not honest nor are they moral. To lie and cheat to achieve their objective is no problem for them. To ignore the truth, if it suits their agenda, will not cause them a moments loss of sleep. Whatever it takes for them to achieve their ends is okay with them. Now this might seem like harsh words but we have all seen them use the same old rhetoric, half-truths and outright lies again and again. Enough on this for now as I am sure that we will be hearing from the animal cultists again before too long. Below is a list of the horn donors. I have probably forgotten to write some of their names down and for this I apologize. I think that all of you who read this should thank these folks for their donation to preserve our heritage:

John and Deedee Kujawa; Corey Bollinger; Joe Jassak; Ed Hebbe; Alan Minear; Josh Lodge; Dud Burnett; David and Michelle Dean; Dennis Schutz; Fred Simonson; Bert Wustner & Jim and Fran Buell. If I have left anyone out please let me know so I can acknowledge your important donation to the future of trapping. It is not too late for you to contribute. The trapping rights that you help will probably be your own.

Thanks to the folks that took the time and effort to donate horns to be auctioned off. The money from the auction will go directly into the Sportsmen’s Rights Protective Fund. This means that these monies will be used to protect all of your trapping and hunting privileges that are being attacked by the antis.

Bring your donated horns to the spring district meetings and we will get them all gathered up in one place. — Bob Sheppard



The 2012 Youth Trapper Camp, Inc. will be held June 15th, 16th & 17th, 2012 in Beaver Creek Park, 22 miles South of Havre MT in the beautiful Bears Paw Mountains. The camp is located at the Jim and Fran Buell cabin site.

This camp offers to youth of all ages, hands-on instruction for the many aspects involved in the trapping industry. YTC, Inc. instructors are qualified and seasoned trappers with years of trapping knowledge to pass on to our youth. Because it is a family oriented camp, all members of a family are encouraged to attend. Space is available on site for campers, RV’s and tents.

The camp fee is $50.00 per camper with a $20.00 scholarship available to the first 60 youth applicants. The camp fee covers all meals, snacks, eating utensils and educational materials.

To pre-register and for further information, sign-up on the Montana Trappers Association website at or contact Jim & Fran Buell at Pre-registration packets will be mailed out in late January, early February of 2012 for those on the pre-registration list. This camp fills up fast, so it is important to get your name on this list so you don’t miss out.



Due to lack of interest, the Friday Night Potluck has been eliminated.

In an attempt to have more participation for the Annual Membership Meeting, the meeting will be held on Saturday of the Rendezvous, beginning at 12:30 p.m.



Bring your antlers for donation to the annual Rendezvous in September or contact Bob Sheppard to arrange for pickup of your antler.

All monies raised from the sale of your donated antler is used to protect trapping.



The Montana Trappers Association held it’s Western States Fur Auction March 16 and 17, 2012 in Columbus, Montana. MTA President Tom Barnes did another great job organizing the auction and the many MTA volunteers to make this fur auction a great success again. We saw a lot more fur at the auction this year and fur prices were higher compared to last year. Fur harvesters could put a minimum bid price on their furs if they wanted to. Seven fur buyers competed with silent auction bids on the various lots of furs and the lot sold to the highest bidder. Just about everything sold. The total sale of furs and assorted items at the auction this year was approximately $217,000, compared to $120,000 the previous year. The only cost to sellers was a 6% commission for MTA members and 8% for non-members. Those funds help the MTA protect trapping rights for all trappers in Montana. Thank you to all the volunteers that helped make this fur sale such a good success. Listed below are the percentages of furs sold and the average prices of those furs. We’ll be conducting the Western States Fur Auction again next March. See ya there? — Paul C Fielder, MTA Publicist




Results of the 2012 Western States Fur Auction conducted by Montana Trappers Association*

Listed by Item offered, Quantity offered. % sold, and Average price

Badger — 23, 100%, $33.84

Beaver — 173, 100%, $25.23

Bobcat — 238, 91%, $527.14

Castor — 11.4 lbs,100%, $52.37 per pound

Coyote — 1,395, 90%, $54.65

Red fox — 127, 100%, $39.59

Marten — 125, 100%, $45.46

Mink — 32, 100%, $14.33

Muskrat — 963, 99%, $7.75

Porky hair — 130.18 oz,100%, $24.41 per ounce

Raccoon — 573, 99%, $14.67

Skunk — 21, 100%, $5.77

Deer antler — 65.4 lbs, 100%, $3.64 per pound

Elk antler — 9.8 lbs,100%, $2.09 per pound

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One thought on “Montana Trappers Association June-July 2012 Report

  1. Can you supply the dates of the Lewistown gathering in September. Ill be heading to Bend, OR and will be in MT 14th to 16th or so of August.

    Lewiston, MI

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