Montana Trappers Association June-July 2013 Report


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

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

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



Hello Members;

It’s beginning to look somewhat like spring. Hope that everyone had a successful season. As I’m sure you are aware the prices for most species came up after the February NAFA sale. Personally, I feel the big players just play games with the market, but that’s just my observation.

Things have been relatively quiet as far as I know. There have been some incidental pet problems as usual, but it’s a very, very small percentage.

The trapping reciprocal bill that we asked for didn’t get pas the second reading in the House, so it died. I think it was blindsided by some trappers themselves. I still don’t think it would have had a large impact on Montana, but who knows.

There is a group of women in the Gallatin Valley that is working to get some trap free zones in that area. Brian Stoner has been meeting with these folks and is keeping up on what they are up to. Thanks Brian! We’ll see how this all shakes out. We certainly are not going to agree to anything unless they can show there is a problem, which at this time there is not.

Toby Walrath and crew are busy putting together the first Trapping Heritage Celebration in Lolo, Montana the 18th and 19th of May. I’m sure it will turn out to be a great function, plan to attend if you can!

Another Western States Fur Sale is history. I believe it went off pretty well. I would like to thank everyone that took time out of their busy schedule to come and help, without those of you that help, the whole thing would not happen. As usual I’ll ask now for more help next year; if you have any interest in making the sale work consider spending the time, it is a good way to meet new folks and help the Association. There are always some issues that come up and there are some issues that need to be addressed and changed. We’ll do our best to make things more user friendly for next year’s sale. I think most people were happy with the prices they received and some never are – oh well!

The wolf season seems to have been relatively successful. I think that trappers proved that trapping wolves is a viable tool that should be used to control the species.

The next Board of Directors meeting will be held in Lewistown at the Yogo Inn, May 5th, 2013 beginning at 9:00 am. All are welcome, so come and see how your Association works.

I think that’s about it for now. Hope everyone has a good summer. Get your traps worked up early and be ready for fall.

Sincerely. — Tom



Hello Montana Trappers, I hope all is well with each and every one of you. With the high fur prices of the past few years along with the wolf trapping season, the number of trappers has grown. This increase in numbers is what it will take for us to continue to trap in Montana. Strength in numbers is very powerful.

Our spring meetings are being held throughout the state. Hopefully you have attended or are planning to attend one. They are put on for all trappers, so that you can voice your concerns and stay informed on the topics that will shape the future of trapping. Thank You to all the District Directors for conducting these meetings each year, they are very important for the continued success of the MTA.

We are continually under attack from those who wish to put and end to our way of life. From the usual hot bed areas of the Bitterroot and Missoula, to groups from Bozeman and Kalispell. A small group of idiots even showed up at the education class in Butte. They were out numbered and out classed by both the instructors and the students who handled the situation with great class and integrity. I know many of you have had similar encounters and from what I have heard we handled them all the right way. Keep up the great work.

Our annual fur auction was just completed and was a huge success. It is a work in progress and the fur auction committee is continually trying to put together an auction that is beneficial to the buyers, sellers and the MTA. Thank You to all of you for your support.

Our spring meeting was held this last weekend in Dillon. There were 15-20 people present. I would like to Thank Tom for running the show and putting the meeting on. There are no plans at this time for any changes to the upcoming fur season. To those of you that put on the demos and led the discussions I appreciate your help.

To those of you in the Bozeman area, I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication on fighting the anti crowd and for continuing to educate the public on the benefits of trapping. Your efforts will be rewarded and all of the trappers in Montana will be deeply in debt to you and the time you have put forth to protect trapping in our great state.

I hope to see all of you at one of the various MTA events that are planned. Remember that this is your organization so please get involved and also get your friends who aren’t members to join the MTA.

I hope that your spring trapping is going well and please try and get a kid involved with trapping.

Take Care. — Tater



Note from your Membership Secretary

I want to thank all the members for being patient as I have been trying to get all of the 400 plus free memberships mailed out. I finally have the last of them done!

You should be receiving your TPC magazines soon, as those were processed back in January. We are building a strong membership with over 800 members! You should all be very proud!

Thanks again! — Valerie Esche 



Montana had a trapping reciprocity bill (HB 324) FAIL in the our state House of Representatives this session. The purpose of the bill was to allow Montana trappers to trap in surrounding states (ID, WY, SD, and ND which have trapping reciprocity laws) by allowing residents of those states to buy a Montana non-resident trapping license to trap furbearers in Montana. HB 324 did not allow for non-resident bobcat hunting. The Bill was carried at the request of the Montana Trappers Association. I’m sorry and surprised that the bill failed. I and several other MTA officers testified in favor of the Bill.

Bill opponents argued that non-resident trappers would come here and trap our fur, without considering the opportunities for Montana trappers to harvest furs in other states. I feel that in Region 1 (NW Montana), very few out of state trappers would pay $250 for a non-resident Montana trapping license to come to unfamiliar ground to trap bobcats in Region 1 during a short 20-21 day bobcat season (that’s how fast the quota fills most years) compared to the number of Region 1 trappers who would buy a non-resident Idaho trapping license to go to Idaho to trap bobcats during a 60 day bobcat season.

The same statement could be made for Region 2 where their quota fills up shortly after Region 1. Montana has a long border with Idaho which would benefit many Montana trappers if they could trap a longer Idaho bobcat season. I also think there is also an obvious benefit for eastern Montana trappers to be able to head east to trap the muskrat-rich states of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota all have trapping reciprocity laws – but Montana does not? Montana allows for the purchase of non-resident hunting licenses, non-resident fishing licenses, but not non-resident furbearer licenses? What is the difference if non-residents come here to hunt and fish or to trap?

I realized another issue with the failure of the Trapping Reciprocity Bill. Montana, like several other states, has two organizations: MTA which represents trappers and MFH (Montana Fur Harvesters, centralized in NW MT) which represents trappers, houndsmen, ADC trappers and predator callers. I am a member of both MTA and MFH as well as NTA. But, while MTA asked for and testified in favor of trapping reciprocity, MFH was lobbying against the Bill. When Montana wolf trapping regulations were being proposed by MFW&P, MTA and I were stressing the history and value of the use of snares as a wolf management tool. But MFH was opposing the use of snares as a wolf management tool. Snares are OK for coyotes, bobcats, fox, coon, etc. – but not for wolves? Doesn’t that set precedents? The problem is, we have two organizations in Montana that are sending opposing messages to our legislators and MFW&P on the same topics. That has got to stop! And I’ve got to consider which organization best supports and least opposes my trapping viewpoints. — Paul C Fielder, District 1 Director



Hello Montana Trappers!

We have had a busy winter and spring is finally here. My spring trapline has been going well with my trapping partner and I putting up some good numbers of beaver, muskrat, mink and even a few raccoon. I hope you have all gotten out and exercised your privilege to trap in Montana. Here is an overview of district 2 trappers:


The February 18th trapper education class held at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation building in Missoula was well attended and we had Warden Johnson there talking about laws and regulations. I would like to thank all the MTA members who helped out, Guy Kempthorne, Bert Wustner, Bob Sheppard and Ed Hebbe III. THE RMEF was a great place to hold it and we had a few visitors stop and observe some of the demonstrations we did outside.


The spring meeting was held March 9 at the FWP building in Missoula and we had about 40 people there including 3 biologists from three different organizations. Carly Lewis from the USFS, Ngaio Richards from Working Dogs for Conservation and our very own Region 2 Wildlife Manager Mike Thompson. Warden Joe Jaquith also spoke about common trapping violations and several recent incidents and how they were resolved. We passed MTA raffle tickets out – SELL SOME TICKETS! We also sold several MTA fur handling videos. This was followed by delicious chili provided by Bert W. After the Meeting was over the TRAPPER HERITAGE CELEBRATION COMMITTEE met and discussed the upcoming event MAY 18th and 19th.



Trappers in district 2 caught 579 marten which is a 22 year record for region 2. The %females in the harvest was 29% which is about what we have seen over the past 22 years. This shows a healthy population of marten in District 2.


District 2 trappers trapped 5 fisher, two of which were females.


The bobcat population looks healthy with a 50% ratio of females in the harvest and an 0.8% ratio of juveniles per adult female indicating a healthy bobcat population here in region 2. Bobcats were 15 over quota in district 2 which is not good because the FWP must be able to show that we can manage to specific quotas. When this happens the FWP is likely to close quotas early like they did with otter.

River Otter

The otter quota closed with 2 otter still remaining on the quota. Several MTA members asked for an increase in otter quota because it filled quickly and there are plenty of otter but Mike said it might be that there are just more trappers out there this year so more data is needed before considering raising the quota.


Our wolverine harvest was zero this year because of a lawsuit that shut the season down before it ever opened in 2012. In spite of the facts presented by Montana FWP wildlife Biologists that show wolverine are thriving and even expanding in Montana trappers were cheated out of a trapping season on wolverine.

USFS Fisher Study Update

Carly Lewis spoke about a fisher study at the D2 Spring meeting that has begun to collect data about fisher populations in Montana. Right now they are trapping fisher and placing radio collars on them to see if the tracking collars they have purchased will work to track fishers in their natural habitat and allow for the data download that they need.

A fellow MTA member (Harry Marvin) and I were able to ride along with USFS Biologist Andrea Shortsleeve on March 17th along my marten trapline and helped out on the fisher study. They had two marten in cage traps that day and Harry and I helped with collecting hair samples and setting traps. It was a great experience. I passed along trapping tips that I had learned from other trappers over the years and it was rewarding to know that I had knowledge and skills to pass on that I never would have had if it weren’t for my trapping heritage.

Working Dogs for Conservation

Another Biologist, Ngaio from a group called working dogs for conservation is doing a study that uses dogs to locate mink and otter scat which they will use to analyze in a laboratory to test for contaminants as part of a water quality study. Ngaio is requesting mink carcasses for analyses. Place the mink carcass in a baggy and write information including the trappers name, date trapped, location trapped and time between checks. This data will be used to determine potential sources of contamination. If possible leave bits of fur on the carcass like in the groin area and feet. I have donated several mink carcasses as have Guy K., Toni M. and Harry M. Give me a call and I will help arrange for pick up. She is also looking for tissue samples from river otter. For more information about this organization visit

Trappers help biologists every day and we have for years. Be proud of that and let’s continue to help every chance we get.


Join us May 18th and 19th at the Lolo community center in Lolo, Montana for the first major Western Montana trapping event in years! Pick up trapping supplies, attend demonstrations, compete in trap setting and photo contests, put your name in for raffles, silent auctions and buy a shirt or hat! We will be ROCKING LOLO HARDCORE! It’s on HWY 93 between Florence and Missoula. You will see the signs. I hope to see you there! Want to help out? Call me.

Trap Hard, Play Hard and Get Involved in the hardest working trapping organization in Montana. Man, I love Trapping! — Toby Walrath



The District 3 meeting was held in Dillon on March 23. Only a few members attended, the FWP almost had us outnumbered. In the absence of director Tater McKay, Tom Barnes discussed a few issues the MTA has been dealing with. 1) Legislative report on the trapping reciprocity bill that the MTA asked for which failed getting through the House. 2) New commissioners of which there will be three; if they are confirmed and one being reappointed, (Bob Ream), which the FWP explained that he may not be confirmed, we’ll see. 3) Discussion about the latest law suit filed against the FWP and its commissioners. To halt trapping in several areas that are considered Lynx habitat. Again we’ll see how far that goes. 4) There was considerable discussion about a group in the Bozeman area that are attempting to have several areas designated as trap free zones. According the FWP this group is going forward with the process apparently they will be making a proposal to the commission in May. The folks in attendance felt that the MTA needs to be proactive on this subject and perhaps work to do more education about releasing pets, and maybe address changes in types of sets etc. verses a complete closure. Brian Stoner has been talking to this group and will be keeping the board informed.

The FWP crew went over the cat, otter, and martin harvest. They explained in detail how the data helps them come up with their recommendations for quota’s and regulations. It is pretty extensive data that has been put together for a lot of years. District 3 went over on the cat quota by 24, which was a little concerning but at this time they do not anticipate any change in next year’s number. Same for Otter and Martin no change. Wolves were discussed they explain the changes the legislature have made. FWP feels that trapping of wolves proved to be a very good tool to help control the species. Snaring of wolves was discussed and everyone in attendance felt that we have a lot more to loose that gain if we ask for snares. With the fact that a wolf snare will hold elk, deer, moose, horses, cows, etc.

It was asked that the FWP look into opening the beaver season 2 weeks earlier in order to allow trappers to hit the high country before it freezes up. They were also asked about the possibility of getting the FS to change their road closure date to the 10th of December instead of the 1st. They explained that would be dealing with not only FS, but BLM, State Lands, just about everything public and they didn’t see that going very far.

The meeting went well after having lunch and all the discussion we finished up about 2:30. Thanks for all that attended! — Tom Barnes



Hello all

Another trapping season has come and gone. If the MTA fur sale was any indication it was a good one for most people as there was lots of fur at the auction. The people I talked to are already getting ready for next year. It sounds like there will be a lot of trappers again next year.

From the news I got, the first wolf trapping season was a success not many problems or conflicts. Here in District 5 we had a slow start to the bobcat season, but came on strong in January and filled our quota early. The coyote catch was very high and a lot of the landowners I have talked to were very happy to see that. I had a good year taking on a new partner that had very limited trapping experience. It was exciting to see him catch his first fox, coyote and bobcat. We had many good nights in the fur shed and he is already looking at what traps he wants to buy for next year. I have been in contact with a couple of fur buyers and other people and am looking at putting on a fur handling clinic later this year. I know of a few people who are planning on attending the youth trapper training this summer. If you know of someone that might be interested be sure and let them know about it.

Have a great summer. — Jay Federer



Howdy D-6

Putting up fur and waiting on Spring! Hope you all had a good year.

Sunday night we returned home from the MTA fur sale in Columbus to snow, high winds and 5 below zero. Seems a little chilly for mid March but that’s Montana. The sale went well. There was lots of fur, trappers and fur buyers. Prices seemed a little low on most items considering the precedence set by NAFA in February but all in all the sale ran smoothly. Some trappers were pleased, others weren’t. One problem that arose was what to do with fur that did not sell and the seller did not pick the fur up at the conclusion of the auction. After working hard for three days to make the sale a success, the exhausted workers waiting to clean the building and finally head home should not have to deal with this. One possible solution that was suggested – which I agree with – would be that if it isn’t picked up by a certain time, it is automatically forfeited to the MTA, subsequently sold and the money put into the MTA’s auction proceeds.

The wolf issue seems to have quieted some. I am grateful there were no serious wrecks to fuel the anti’s. The legislature took a very weak run at increasing the harvest of wolves. It was a step in the right direction but not nearly what we needed to give relief to both our statewide wildlife populations and livestock producers.

Our Swift Fox season ended up reaching the quota this year with 21 fox harvested. I am trying to convince our biologists to open the season a week or two earlier to facilitate the legal harvest of incidentally trapped Swift Fox by coyote trappers in late October and to increase the quota to possibly 40 next year as our population is increasing and their range is expanding southward, in my observation. I will be talking with D6 members to see if they have seen this in their areas, as well.

The bobcat harvest was again down and did not reach even our reduced quota. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

Good luck to you all.

Watch your Top Knot! — Kirk



D6 Spring Meeting, Minutes

March 24, 2013


Lunch was provided by Kirk Knudsen and Jason Geer. Informational displays on a variety of subjects of interest (Keystone XL Pipeline, bison relocation, recent anti efforts, fur auctions and fairs worldwide, organizations that support trapping, etc…) to members were available for viewing and reference throughout the day, including minutes from the D6 2012 Spring Meeting. Director Knudsen called the meeting to order at 1:00PM.


D6 Sub Director, Jason Geer, was introduced to the membership. Also, past D6 Director, Jim Halseth, was in attendance and introduced.

Introductions were made by MTFWP staff attending – Wildlife Biologists Scott Thompson and Drew Henry, MTFWP Game Wardens Dirk Paulsen and Todd Tyran and Investigator Lennie Bohmann.


An informative letter from Tom Barnes, MTA President, was read which included information on a Gallatin Valley group working to get trap free areas in that area, the upcoming Trapping Heritage Celebration in Lolo and the next Board of Directors meeting May 5th, 9AM at the Yogo Inn in Lewistown. Members were encouraged to attend. Minutes from the December 9th, 2012 board meeting were available to members on one of the display tables.

A message for D6 members from the MTA VP East, John Hughes, was read which included comments on the wolf season and efforts to get wolf snaring, the MTA fur sale, fur prices and informed members of work being done to increase the bobcat quotas in D3 and D5.

National Trappers Association

Members were encouraged to join, if not members already, and attend the National and Western Regional conventions – applications were available. Knudsen reminded members of the Western Regional Leadership Conference to be held April 20th in Missoula.


Geer caught members up on the work of the education committee, the manual, school visits and certification. He will pursue getting a certification class in D6.

Youth Tapper Camp

Camp registration is still open and applications with related materials were available and members reminded of the April 15th deadline if applying for a scholarship and May 15th if not. The camp location has changed to the Camp Kiwanis south of Havre, which has better facilities.

College Scholarships

Applications were available and members reminded of the deadline – no applications have yet been received by the scholarship committee.


Director Knudsen reported the district membership increased by 10 recently. New members added were from Chester, Havre, Malta, Glasgow, Nashua and Sidney – this, in part, a result of the free membership offered to wolf certification class attendees from an anonymous donor.

MTA Fur Sale

Knudsen reported on the sale and members were given a copy of the Averages Price Report and they were encouraged to support the sale. Members were informed of commission breaks for sellers based on gross sales, which was a new action this year. Knudsen stated he would pursue a possible commission break for volume buyers, as well. He reported there was talk amongst sale workers and buyers after the sale of returning to a No Sale fee. Which Knudsen will not support.

D6 Poll

Knudsen reported on a telephone survey he conducted prior to the meeting. Not all members were reached and of the 22 he was able to reach, not all had an opinion on each of the three questions. Results were as follows:

In the past five years, are you seeing more, less or the same amount of Swift Fox?

More – 11

Less – 0

Same – 1

No opinion – 4

None – 6

Do you think the present wolf regulations are adequate or inadequate?

Adequate – 3

Inadequate – 18

Are you then in favor of predator status for wolves?

Yes – 17

No opinion – 1

Are you in favor of trapping reciprocity?

Yes – 15

No – 4

No opinion – 3

Knudsen answered questions and advised that D6 wants an increase in the quota on Swift Fox from 20 to 40. D6 would like to see the wolf listed as a predator but realizes that the chance for predator status died with the defeat of Rick Hill and is not likely to happen and might attract more animal rights activity in Montana so not worth pursuing. He informed the group that a trapping reciprocity bill failed in the state House of Representatives this session with the other state trappers association, Montana Fur Harvesters, opposing it.

Wolf Trapping

Knudsen reported there were no big wrecks. He was on the Wolf Committee formed by the Board of Directors (BOD) the past year and worked hard but was dismayed other committee members deviated from a prior agreed upon stance by the BOD of ‘No Compromise’ on the issues of a 48-hour check and snaring. He would still like to see snaring of wolves become legal as it is with other canines – fox and coyote – and would like to see the 48-hour check law removed as it is anti-productive with canines. Several members stated they did not get certified and did not trap wolves because they would be obligated to the 48-hour check on all their canine traplines or risk being cited should they incidentally catch a wolf. Jim Halseth thought the lawsuit against the MTFWP Director and Commissioners over trapping in Canadian Lynx habitat and affecting 15 Montana counties was a direct result of wolf trapping – which D6 was against instituting. Now all trapping could be jeopardized in those 15 counties.


Knudsen read the Trapper & Predator Caller article ‘The Wolverine Dilemma’ from the March 2013 issue in which it is reported the US Fish & Wildlife is considering listing wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The comment period started February 4th and runs for 90 days. The classification would essentially shut down wolverine trapping in Montana.

Lion Trapping

The Mountain Lion trapping bill got tabled – most of the opponents were from the west side of Montana where most of the state’s hound hunters reside. D6 members agreed that it would be nice to be able to keep an incidental catch instead of releasing it but that if such a bill passed, mountain lion would not be one of their targeted species.

FWP Presentation

Thompson gave the MTFWP presentation and expressed concern over D6 not meeting the Bobcat quota again despite the fact that the quota was reduced from 125 to 90 last year. However, he pointed out that we have a young population and the recruitment showed promise. Paulsen reported drifting snow this season made travel very difficult and that there was a higher than normal incidental catch rate. Halseth noted that trappers of the past that accounted for a large portion of the harvest are no longer trapping Bobcats for various reasons, sign is plentiful in certain areas and offered to take biologists to places with significant sign. Trappers in the eastern portion of the district said Bobcat sign was scarce even where they had found Bobcats plentiful in the past. Thompson confirmed that, at this time, there is no discussion of reducing the quota this year.

There was much discussion on the Swift Fox quota increase issue with trappers reporting there are too many Swift Fox and they are spreading south, east and west in D6. Thompson acknowledged an increase in the quota would not negatively impact the population and this is a year in which quota change can be considered but that he would have to bring the matter before MTFWP Biologist Mark Sullivan, check with the Tribes involved with translocation efforts in the past and also look at other considerations like demand and population data – there is a census due this next winter. He noted the quota was met this year for the first time but late in the season.


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

Knudsen announced a new D6 Director will need to be elected at next year’s meeting as he will have served 2 ½ terms and will be stepping aside to give someone else a chance to get more involved.


Director Knudsen thanked the members and guests for attending, wished them a safe trip home and the meeting was adjourned.


Treasurer’s Report — Spring in the Rockies!

This has been a very mild winter for Western Montana. Little snow, mild temperatures and easier to work outside than the average winters we are used to having. Bob noticed on our electric bills that only one month over the past couple of years was warmer than the year before. So how does that support the “Global Warming” scare tactics? Less than fifty years ago, I remember my parents discussing the “Next Glacial Period” with the neighbors and friends. We were all farmers & wondered how we could farm and what types of grain would grow in that harsh climate. It never happened, so we stopped worrying.

The warmer winter made life a lot easier for trappers working at harvesting the critters. A four wheeler was used much longer than the snowmobile. Beaver & muskrat trapping lasted longer in the fall and Bob didn’t find it necessary to keep raising snares higher or digging out traps after it snowed. We did have several thaws & freezing again, which allows those light footed fox to dance on top of the traps. A lot more fox in our area, now that the wolves have set up housekeeping. I miss those coyote serenades though. But the coyotes have learned that singing draws in their larger cousins. The hound hunters are dealing with that same problem.

Arf’s in our area haven’t found it difficult to protest even with the Depression era the rest of us are experiencing. Must be nice to have time & money to terrorize the “working” class. Meanwhile, the rest of us are attempting to keep our heads above water. Speaking of water, Bob is off on a beaver trapping expedition on the East side of the mountains. Dealing with mud & gumbo is not near the same as rocky ground back at the homestead. I am sure he will have a number of stories to tell over coffee upon his return to the mountains. He got lucky; the nine inches of new snow may be all gone by the time he returns. Otherwise, he will need to fire up the big snowplow truck to clear the road. Snow and Easter is always fun hiding Easter eggs. Just toss those plastic eggs out into the snow; no tracks for the kids to follow. But be careful of your step, or rotten eggs later when the snow is gone, unless Peppy La Pew finds them first.

Trapping went well and the fur prices are looking good. MTA held their annual Western Fur Auction in Columbus the third weekend of March. From the reports I have received, the sales were up a bit from last year. The computer guru & I are trying to simplify the data entry into my bookkeeping program; so far we haven’t solved all of those problems yet. I am looking for ways to speed up the process of getting those trappers checks out in the mail. Nothing is ever easy, but we will keep on trying.

Missoula will be hosting the next Sports Show this weekend. MTA booth volunteers will need to be watchful of the Arf’s in their home town! The booth is usually very busy explaining trapping, what animal is represented by the furs, track stamping, all types of questions and explaining why we trap. I am always surprised at the few people who are able to identify the majority of critters. The lack of outside education is sad. Living out in the country provides many advantages.

With a new Governor, I am seeing some improvement with our MT FW&P. The new Director has a tough job ahead of him. MTA is busy with regulation & quota suggestions, along with the trapping education. Many of the trapping classes are seeing more interest, which is great. The first Montana wolf trapping season seemed to go fairly well. Some trappers were successful in filling all their tags, while others brought home one or two. Having a low snow load allowed our wolf packs to travel further & stay away longer. They seemed to average around 30 days between visits. That means a trapper needs to keep those traps working for long periods. You don’t want that trap frozen when the wolves come back through. Our game numbers are so low here; our packs may be hunting higher & further away. The Mountain goats may be a target, along with the moose. After putting on a number of miles in the fall, snowshoes & skis with the snow, I never got a chance to see a live wolf for my hunting tag. I was either a day early or too late. It is tough being in the right spot at the correct time. Maybe next year will be more successful.

Hoping all of you enjoy a wonderful Easter Holiday with your family! A fresh new season to enjoy, before the bugs arrive. Ugh! — Terry J Sheppard



What do You have that is Made of Fur?

Grandma or Grandpa’s coat, hat, mittens, pillows or whatever you have that is made from fur. Vintage or Brand New; Large or Small. Something purchased or created by yourself. Clothing, household, decorative or extra special items you enjoy or use.

Gather photos of family fur items or the real thing to show at the Rendezvous. Vintage photos are always interesting. Search those closets, attics or drawers. Get started now before it is too late. We can display the photos for all to see why we trap.

Photos of items can be sent to: Terry J Sheppard, PO Box 129, Ovando MT 59854, or



Hello from Ovando

I, as well as half (it seemed) of Ovando went to the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife wolf trapper education above Lolo. It was held, I believe, on the Rossignal ranch close to the Lumberjack Saloon. It rained hard in the morning and through lunch, but quit in time for us to all load in pickups and go to the field for some actual field demonstrations. The SFW got a trapper from Idaho, Jeff Ashmead, to give the education. It was more in depth than the FWP wolf trap education. There was more in depth education of equipment, techniques, lures and placement and actual trap and snare demonstrations. There was more emphasis put on the best ways to trap and hold wolves. Jeff was very knowledgeable and did a good job of answering the many questions put to him. He considered and talked as well on the ethical aspects. As far as I was concerned it certainly was not a wasted day. There were traps, tools and other equipment for sale as well as some new traps that are not yet in production. One of the better parts was the barbeque that they put on for lunch. I do not believe that of all the folks there that anyone was disappointed with the program. My thanks to the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and their support of wolf trapping and trapping in general.

Terry and I showed up to help at the sports show at Helena. It seemed slow to me but Jim and Fran said that it did not seem too bad to them. As they usually do several of them a year, they should know if it was a good turnout. It is always interesting to me to see some of the outdoor stuff that is presented at these shows.

The Trapper education course at Butte had a pretty fair turnout. I believe that there were about 16 or so students and there were plenty of good instructors. I keep showing up to these so I can see how other trappers handle their critters and the equipment that they use. Vanna and Tater did a good job setting it up and carrying it out.

The fur handling clinic at Deer Lodge was the lightest attendance that we have had for a fair long time. We worked on coyotes, fox, otter, mink and muskrat that I can remember. I am probably forgetting something but you get the general idea. Jason came all the way from Havre to show how to extract and handle the canine glands. As usual he makes it look pretty simple. I might get better at that if I live long enough. The fur handling is always great because you can always learn a simpler and easier way for some aspects of fur handling. It seems that no matter how experienced you are, someone keeps coming up with some little trick or tool to improve production. At the fur handling at Great Falls I saw a cool tool that another trapper made to hold small critters like mink. Just a pair of vise grips with some iron welded on the jaws, but I used it to skin a mink and now I need to remember it so I will build myself one. This was the first fur handling clinic in District 4 and the facilities were great. I hope that they will have many more down the years. Thanks to Josh and Scott for getting it going and providing a place. Of course Josh should make a note to not be down in the Bahamas sunbathing, or whatever, during the next one.

The trapper education in Missoula went well and I thank all the instructors as well as the students for the work and questions. The new education program is going quite well and it is great that we have the workbooks and manual to hand out to all the students. With this new program we are able to equip the beginning trapper with a lot more info. The new manual is full of lots of info and can be used for a great trapping reference.

District 2 had their spring meeting in March and it was fairly well attended. There were some new members there as well as the same ones that always show up. Mike Thompson, the regional biologist, had handouts with spec’s on the furbearers and he fielded lots of questions and concerns from the trappers present. Joe Jacquith, the new warden captain, showed up both at the education and the spring meeting. He did a great job of presenting the wardens side of the issue and how we can work together to solve some of the problems that arise with arf’s and barf’s. (He did not use these monickers but I will). After the meeting we had a great lunch provided by Bert Wustner. I can’t recall having a spring meeting that was as good nor as informative as this one for quite some time. I surely appreciate the efforts of our district director, the FWP and the fellers around Missoula that made this one go so well. For those of you that actually read this and weren’t there, all I can say is that it was to your detriment to have not been there.

The fur sale at Columbus was well attended with lots of fur being received. There were 8 buyers registered. If there will be so much fur there next year it could well be a two day sale. As is always the case, not all sellers were happy, but the majority of the fur was sold. Sometimes, in any market, the prices being offered were not up to the sellers’ expectations. With 8 buyers making bids it would seem that they would have a fair idea of the value they can receive for the fur down the road. I am glad that I am not a fur buyer. I think that the stress involved would cause me to age fast. As I am never going to grow up – that ageing process would be cause for concern for me. One serious item of concern to me was some of the mishandled fur that showed up. There were some instances where some of the fur that was there, was so badly mishandled that it was almost no value. With all the info out there on proper fur handling I do not believe there should be this problem. Because of mishandled fur the overall average of the sale goes down and the sellers’ themselves lose a lot of money. I do not believe that the buyers’ are very crazy about the bad fur as well. It might be better for the sale to turn away badly handled fur. At least if that happens then the buyers will know that they are not traveling there to look at junk. Food for thought.

Toby and I helped Jim and Fran at the Missoula sports show in March. There were lots of folks attending and we really kept pretty busy. At one time Jim, Fran, Toby, myself, Miss Rodeo Montana and Miss Teen Rodeo Montana were all busy. The two rodeo gals were probably the reason that we had such a good turnout at our booth. They did a good job and visited with lots of other vendors as well. Those fur vests that they were wearing, as well as themselves, did a great job of attracting folks.

The Montana Trapper Heritage Celebration is getting going good and Toby is getting things laid out. It looks like it is coming together pretty good and I think it is going to be a great deal. This will be May 18 and 19 at Lolo and there will be lots going on. All of you should plan to attend. There will be lots of demos’, info, vendors, equipment and fun for the whole crew. Mark it on your calendar. It will be held at the Lolo Community center.

The first wolf trapping season in Montana, since way back, could be considered somewhat of a success. I know several folks that were successful in trapping wolves and I congratulate them for their effort and success. I hope more folks can be successful in the future at this endeavor. As far as I have heard, there were not any incidents with arf’s or barf’s. With no major incident for the first year it should only get better. However, we need to keep our guard up and do things to the best of our ability. Keep ethical consideration in the forefront of your mind and be very much aware of the other people out there.

With the rise in fur prices I am sure that all of you have seen an influx of new trappers. A goodly portion of these are the “green eyed boys” that are only there for the money. Some of these folks do not care about anything other than catching critters and their sense of ethics do not go very far. As soon as the fur prices drop, and they will, these folks will drop back out of sight. Others will be good and with a little thought and teaching will be good for our industry. There will certainly be some changes in the future for all of us. Try to get some of these newer recruits to keep abreast of the issues and become involved in the working of the MTA. This will also be the time to try and recruit youngsters and show them the right way to do things. The youngsters are the future of trapping and we need to get them involved.

This is pretty lengthy and I want to get out for a few more beaver. I hope all of you had a successful l year and a good one. For me it is more than just catching critters. It is great to be able to be out in the woods enjoying the creations. As the weather warms and spring approaches, it is really cool to see everything starting again for another season. Besides, as I always say, if I was not trapping then I would have to get a real job. Have a great summer. — Bob Sheppard, Ovando



Welcome New Members:

Out of State

Robert Shaw Washoe Valley WA

Trey Shelton Startup WA

Erich Sundstrom E Wenatchee WA


District One

Forrest Black Libby

Tyler Bothman Libby

Lillian Martin Libby

Raylene Wall Polson

Owen Weaver Kalispell


District Two

Seth Carlson Hamilton

Thomas Kuglin Missoula

Liam Lecoure Stevensville

Shawn Andres Arlee


District Three

Steve Lasar Dillon

Blake McKenrick Boulder


District Four

Pete Adams Lewistown

Russ Crowell Belt

Joe Econom Winifred


District Five

Chris Gunderson Absarokee


District Seven

Patrick Davis Ashland

Pat Ruland Broadus



2012 – 13 Montana Wolf Season Statistics

Season closed Feb. 28; 225 wolves harvested.

Hunters took 128 wolves and trappers took 97.

Season modifications Nov. 8, a new regulation to minimize non-target captures required a minimum 8 lb. trap pan tension in Regions 1 & 2.

Feb. 13, House Bill 73 becomes law and hunters permitted to purchase up to 3 wolf licenses.


Wolf Hunting

123 resident and 3 nonresident hunters harvested wolves. 64 of 84 wolves (76%) taken during Archery/General season were taken opportunistically.


45 percent of hunters used calls.

Avg. Distance Shot: 110 yards.

Number bagged:

124 hunters took 1 wolf.

2 hunters took 2 wolves.

No hunters took 3 wolves.

One hunter harvested a wolf with archery equipment.

18,889 wolf licenses were issued (18,642 resident; 247 nonresident)

74 residents and 12 nonresidents purchased additional wolf hunting licenses after the Feb. 13 law change.

Approximately 15% of resident deer and elk hunters purchased a wolf license.

License cost: $19 Resident; $350/($50 after February 13) Non-Resident

Total hunting license revenue $437,048


Wolf Trapping

2,414 trappers completed the Wolf Trapper Education course and were certified to trap wolves in Montana; approximately 1,500 purchased a trapping license.

62 trappers took one wolf.

13 trappers took 2 wolves.

3 trappers took 3 wolves.


Harvested Wolves

48% on federal land; 3% on state land; 37% on private land.

Wolves were harvested from approximately 60 different packs.

Age & Sex

Adult 123; 55% Juvenile 44; 20%

Yearling 30; 13% Unknown 28; 12%

117 Females 108 Males

Average Weight

Adult avg. 84 lbs.; max 120 lbs.

Juvenile avg. 72 lbs.; max 100 lbs.


Black 53 Grey 141

Unknown 28 White 3

Reported Health

21 with one or combinations of mange, worm or broken teeth, fleas, worms, gashes, injuries to paws or legs and one with a bobbed tail.



The NTA’s Western Leadership Conference will be held in Missoula MT at the Val-U-Inn (406-721-960), 300 Brooks Street; beginning at 8:00am on April 20th, 2013. This will be a good opportunity to learn what is going on in the NTA and the Western States, as the leadership and NTA Directors from the western states will be in attendance.

Please join us for the day, just to listen in or to have your questions answered; below is the tentative schedule.

BEGIN 8:00am

1. Invocation

2. Introduction

3. Officers Reports

BREAK 9:00am

4. Office Report

5. DNIA Report

6. Convention Report

7. AT Report

BREAK 10:00 am

8.FBU Report

9. Legal Report

10. NTA Update not included in other Reports

BREAK 11:00am

11: State Reports

LUNCH 12-1:00 pm

12. Guest Speaker (Possible Ryan Benson BGF)

BREAK 2:00pm

13. Proper procedures for Directors to conduct NTA Business at National board meetings and in other situations .

BREAK 3:00pm

14. Continuation

BREAK 4:00pm

15. Feed Back

ADJOURN 5:00pm



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.



Trapping Heritage Celebration (Public Education) @ the Lolo Community Center – May 18th & 19th

Youth Trapper Camp @ Kiwanis Camp, 17 miles S of Havre – Jun 7, 8 & 9th Call 376-3178 for more info

Annual Rendezvous – Fergus County Fairgrounds – Lewistown MT – Sept 6th & 7th



Barnes Auction Service

Annual Consignment Auction

June 1, 2013

Beaverhead County Fairgrounds

Dillon, Montana


At this year’s sale we will have a variety of collector traps from Glen Hanson. We did not get all of Glen’s user traps as we thought we would but will have his collectors. Also we will have quite a bit of snare components from Glen. Along with lots of misc. items, if you would like a complete list let us know or check the Trader’s Dispatch May issue.

For more info, call Tom at 660-2792



MTA (DBA Western States Fur Sale) Fur Sale Results

Listed by Item, # offered, #sold, Average price, Percent sold and High price

Badger (hair) — 8, 4, 12.71, 50%, 25.00

Badger (fur) — 29, 29, 36.45, 100%, 82.00

Beaver — 193, 193, 24.52, 100%, 42.00

Bobcat — 227, 199, 596.32, 88%, 1656.00

Coyote — 1931, 1275, 54.65, 66%, 115.00

Ermine, — 4, 4, 1.30, 100%, 2.00

Fox (cross) — 2, 2, 69.50, 100%, 71.00

Fox (red) — 179, 142, 49.03, 79%, 87.83

Marten — 54, 54, 57.73, 100%, 91.00

Mink — 49, 46, 18.00, 94%, 31.25

Muskrat — 1176, 1080, 9.24, 92%, 19.50

Otter — 2, 2, 100.61, 100%, 111.00

Raccoon — 351, 318, 15.50, 91%, 34.29

Skunk — 49, 24, 9.26, 49%, 15.16

Beaver castor (oz) — 58.1, 58.1, 1.96, 100%, 14.76

Porky hair (oz) — 149.5, 122.5, 22.41, 82%, 28.12

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