Montana Trappers Association November 2010 Report

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

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

Vice President West — Dennis Schutz, Stevensville, MT

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

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

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

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

Membership Options:

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

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

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


Hello to all;

Along with summer the annual rendezvous has come and gone. At this writing I don’t know numbers but it seemed to me that there were quite a few people around throughout the weekend. The demo’s that were set up by district 6 director Kirk Knudsen were well received and attended, thanks Kirk and thanks to all that put a demo on. At the Saturday night banquet we served 102, the meal was outstanding, the fur fashion show was great as usual, and the auction went well. There were some details that came up that I did not take care of effectively which will be addressed better next year. Thanks to all that attended, be sure to mark your calendar now for next year, September 9,10 & 11.

This year was an election year and the new officers are posted in this newsletter. There are a couple of new faces, and some have just moved around within the offices. At the board of directors meeting on Sunday morning it was decided to change things up a bit on the election process. The positions of President, Vice-President West and Treasurer will be elected again next year (2011) then the offices of Vice-President East, Membership Secretary, Recording Secretary, and NTA Representative will be elected in 2012. The reason behind this change is to maintain continuity/experience, in the officer positions. With that said I will serve as your president for one more year. The thing that does concern me is there were only around 70 votes cast. That says to me that most of you members don’t give a wit and that is sad. As I have been saying for the past two years the MTA is your organization. I hope you take your local, state and national elections more seriously!

I certainly hope that by now all of you are aware I-160 did not make the November ballot. It ended up pretty close and the anti’s have said they will be back. We are not setting back to see what happens next. We plan to be very active during this coming legislature. MEWM and the MTA will not take a back seat to these actions. Many of you along with many Montana and other state and national organizations stepped up helping us defeat I-160 this time around. When asked – we received your support, so don’t be surprised when we ask again!

Well, another fur harvest season is just around the corner. I hope you are getting ready. The market seems to be a mystery right now, lots of speculation what critter will be worth what. I’m guessing most of you are like me, I harvest because I enjoy being out there, a fur check at seasons end is nice but it doesn’t pay expenses. Please mark your calendar for February 18, 19 & 20 for the Western States Fur Auction. It will be held in Columbus, Montana again this year. I hope you will consider marketing your furs there. It is another way you can show your support of the MTA. The fur auction committee members are posted in this newsletter, if you have any questions please call one of the members. More information will be coming out soon.

There are probably things I’m forgetting to add to my report, but that’s about it for now. I hope that your upcoming season treats you well.

— Tom Barnes


The Bitterroot Valley held up well concerning signatures for I-160. Hamilton was the only voting district that qualified signature wise. The general consensus now is that we have won the battle so why buy raffle tickets? Raffle ticket sales were down for me.

I cannot see into the future but I do think animal rights activists will be back in some way, shape or form. We must remain diligent. PacWest was very instrumental in the I-160 defeat. Intelligent people that know what they are doing can defeat these people, but it does cost money. I am hoping we have some money left over in our Montanan’s for Effective Wildlife Management account. I am hoping future elected officers in the MTA will have the intelligence to save money, draw interest and be ready for the next fight. We should also be large enough to help other states in peril or other consumptive user groups in Montana. The days of the loudmouth “table pounders” getting their way are done. We have to preserve the integrity of the MTA by selecting intelligent leadership with a good track record behind them of having life under control.

Remember all those who came to our aid in this I-160 fight, be ready to help them. Remember those “fence riders” who waited to see which side would fall before they committed. Remember last but not least all the “motor mouths” with all the solutions that never put up a sign, handed out pamphlets or sold a single raffle ticket.

Tom Barnes and the steering committee did one great job of representing us trappers. The last caution I have for the board is be careful we do not start fighting amongst ourselves. Over blown egos in leadership have cooked the trappers goose in several states.

I wish you all well.

— Dennis Schutz


I would like to start by saying “Thank You” to Denny for being our V.P. West during the last term. He was on the front lines of our battle against I-160 in Western Montana. I tip my hat to you and Thanks for everything. Don’t be a stranger!

Also, Thank You for electing me as your V.P. West, I appreciate your confidence in me to help be your voice for the MTA. Denny has laid a great foundation for me to build on and I plan on continuing where he left off.

The Board of Directors for the MTA has decided to change the election year for part of the board, so that the new president will not be elected during a legislative year and also so that there will always be some experience on the board. I think this is a great change and will make the MTA much stronger. With that in mind there will be elections next year for Pres., V.P. West, and Treas.

We just finished the Rendezvous in Lewistown, what a great event. I thought the attendance was good and the traffic on Saturday was pretty constant. I got the chance to make new friends and visit with old ones. This is a fun way to spend the weekend and I look forward to it every year. It is a lot of work for all those involved but well worth the effort.

The 2010 Trapping Regulations are out so be sure and look them over for any new changes in your area. One new change out is the season for Swift Fox. I’ve talked with a few trappers from my neck of the woods that are planning a trip to the hi-line and try to harvest a new species. In a time when it seems that all we do is see our trapping being taken away it is nice to see that we finally gain something. As Kirk Knudsen has said, maybe a show of appreciation from all of us to the FWP Commission would be a great idea.

Now is the time to contact your representatives and ask for their support on protecting our trapping rights. They are willing to listen if you will get in touch with them.

Enjoy the upcoming trapping season, I hope it is a great one for all of you. Remember this, if you are reading this newsletter then you are already a member of the MTA and you have fought for the right to trap for everyone else who isn’t. Congratulations to all of you and thanks for being members of your Montana Trappers Association.

Take Care.

— Tater


Well the 2010 Rendezvous turned out sunny and nice. A few new trappers and newcomers showed up; it was nice to see some old faces, as well as new ones. Congratulations to the new Officers and Directors, we have a lot of work ahead of us. The one thing I found discouraging was that only 66 members out of 533, voted in the VP race. I’m not sure what happened to the other 467 members; remember, we can only move forward as an Association if we stand together, its your Association.

I just got done watching “Swamp People” and I think we may be starting our own swamp here in Winnett. I believe in the last two weeks, we have had another 7 inches of rain. That being said, it should be an interesting trapping season this fall and winter. We may be in for a real winter if this keeps up. On that note; I hope you enjoy your fall season. Be safe and keep a chain in your pickup.

Any questions or comments – feel free to call.

— Joe Jassak


Hello to all,

The elk are bugling, and fall is here. Unlike last year we have some fall colors in the trees. We had our Trappers Education class on October 2nd at Lawrence Park in Kalispell from 9am to 4pm. Thanks again to all who had volunteered to help this year. Trapping time is almost here and it seems like I’m trying to get things ready to go. Earlier this spring the trappers from District 1 raised enough money to buy a brick at the Kalispell Veteran’s Memorial.

Received some good news; in the sweepstakes put on by Montanans For Effective Wildlife Management, we received a Savage 17HRM. It will be exciting to see the ballistics on the 17. My wife Julie and I also have found ourselves in a new home in the West Valley area of Kalispell.

— David Pemble


Hello Trappers;

My name is Guy Kempthorne and I am the new D 2 Director. I look forward to representing the trappers in D 2. The Trappers Convention was well attended and I met many new and interesting people. The demos and the auction were a lot of fun. I look forward to next years convention and will be a lot more involved in making it happen. District 2 will be in charge of the front desk and help will be needed at that time.

Trapping season is just around the corner and I am starting to get excited. My five year old son and I went out in the mountains and looked over our marten trap line. We built a few cubbies for bobcats and had a great day in the outdoors. Trap preparation is underway and so is the process of making waxed dirt for the season. I will start out with beaver, muskrat, coon and mink on November 1st and when cat and marten season begins; I’ll concentrate on them and hopefully catch a few fox and coyotes as well.

Take Care and have a great fall.

— Guy


To District 2 members and the MTA Board of Directors:

Since the failure of Initiative 160 this summer, things have been quiet and there is little to report. I did hear that our opponents made the comment that their defeat was a lesson and they will apply what they learned in their next effort to eliminate trapping on public lands. Well guess what antis, we are not going away and we will not be silent about our right and freedom to trap on public lands. Our victory has made us stronger and more committed to protecting our right to trap on public lands.

Mike Dey organized another get-together for District 2 members. Thanks Mike for your continued effort to keep us active and strong.

I want to thank the District 2 members for working and supporting me as your Director. It has been a privilege to do so! Our new District Director is Guy Kempthorne who is fired up and looking forward to leading us for the next two years.

Let him know you are available and willing to help out.

Thank you.

— Jim Anderson


Hello Dist. 3 Members! Fall is upon us and that means trapping is coming up fast. I am looking forward to a great season. Most all of my shopping is done and the traps are ready.
I had a chance this year to travel to the NTA Convention in Marshfield, WI. All I can say is “WOW”.

Roughly 7000 trappers all in one place for 3 or 4 days, it was almost sensory overload. Buildings full of vendors and what seemed like miles of tailgaters and campers, it was awesome. I finally got another item checked off of my “bucket list”. Josh Lodge and I made the 20 hour journey to Wisconsin and only got lost twice (I think). It was a great trip and if you ever get the opportunity to attend please do it, you won’t be disappointed.
I would like to say Thank You to Robert Kump for his service as sub-director for Dist. 3. He is moving away and we wish him the best in his new journey. This also means that we are in need of another sub-director. If you are interested please give me a shout.

One of the next MTA functions will be the Fur Auction in Columbus. The tentative date right now is Feb. 18,19, and 20. Please plan on selling some of your furs at the auction and support the MTA. The last auction was a good one and I see no reason why this one shouldn’t be even better. We are continuing to get the “kinks” worked out and are looking forward to putting on a great auction.

District 3 has lost a few memberships during the last year, please keep your membership current and try to convince those that aren’t members to join. It is important that we keep our numbers strong. I know you get tired of me always commenting on membership but it is the life blood of any organization. Thanks again for being members of your state trapping association and Good Luck trapping this season.

Take Care.

— Tater


Back in June, the Big Bear Sporting Goods Store in Great Falls held a conservation organization fair in which I sold memberships and raffle tickets as well as MEWM information. We were well received and everyone I talked to support the MTA in the push to stop I-160. Everyone is relieved that I-160 did not make the ballot.

The antis came to Great Falls in their RV, but they came on one of the rainiest weeks all spring, so signature gathering was hampered. Thank God for the rain.

The week-end of September 18th, MTA member Judd Brooks held a pet release clinic at the Big Sky Animal Hospital in Great Falls. This will be great PR for the good guys!

I hope everyone has a safe and prosperous season.

— Josh Lodge


Hello all;

Hope everything is going well in your neck of the woods. The annual convention has come & gone & was a success; the attendance was down again; but there was some optimism in the air about the fur prices for the upcoming season & supply sales showed it. The fur market is unsettled at the present time with cats & rats really the only two items with much interest; but I think the long hairs – coyote & fox will develop late depending on the size of the harvest. As your new Director I want to be more user friendly with more communication with the members, in other words give me a call!

District 5 is slated to give one of the sweepstake prizes this year so will be looking for donations for this. I think one issue that needs addressing is the bobcat quota in Region 5. We need to work to get the cats back that were given away last year. Contact your FWP commissioner; they are on our side & tell them we need the quota raised. The FWP Dept rammed the reduction down our throats last spring, but now is the time to fight back. I plan on spending some time in Helena at legislature this winter so let me know if you have any issues to go there with. All in all I will work to preserve trapping in Montana the way it has been in the past.

Good luck & safe trails this season!

— John Hughes


Howdy District 6

By now we all know I-160 failed, Hooray. Big thanks to all who fought against this initiative. Whatever you effort, big, small, Thank you, they will return in one form or another, be vigilant. Keep talking to folks in an effort to educate the uninformed public of the many benefits of trapping. Another trapping season is just around the corner. Stay above reproach, trap ethically, get a young person involve and set a good example. We need good publicity, not bad.

Another success – we now have a swift fox season. The regulations are now out and considering this as a starting point for future season, I am happy with the quota and regulations that pertain to the harvest of this little canine. I want to thank FWP and the commissioners for this opportunity. It is reassuring to see additional trapping opportunities arise rather than taken away. Enjoy!

By the time you read this, our Rendezvous will be over. I hope you will attend and enjoy and support this effort now and in the years to come. This is our opportunity to spend time together, hob knob, educate, discuss issues tell tall tales etc… as well as vote for our officers and may worthwhile activities. A great many thanks to all who worked hard and gave their time and effort to make this happen.

Hope you all have a successful and very enjoyable trapping season. Watch your Top Knot.

— Kirk


Greetings Everyone:

I hope this past summer has treated you well. Trapping season is closing in fast, there are cooler temps and snow in some areas and the upland bird season is under way in addition too some of the archery seasons starting soon.

It is also a great time to do some last minute scouting and making a list of things to check out and buy for the upcoming season. I hope you had the opportunity to attend this years Rendezvous. The demos were first rate and I enjoyed meeting new friends, catching up with long time friends and hearing stories of the past trapping season.

As we all know, the Ballot Initiative I-160 was defeated! Are they gone; not to be heard from again? I doubt it very much, but we did dodge the bullet this time!

This summer we once again had a booth at the Rosebud County Fair. Overall the number of people may have been down, but we were well received, Dave DelCamp, R J Racki and I worked the table and helped inform many people about trapping in our modern world and why it is vitally important still, in our ever changing world. We also signed up two new members during the weekend, handed out many membership applications and other hand-outs. All in all it was a successful even. Not even the wind and rain could deter the spirit of the folks in Forsyth on Friday afternoon.

I just learned of the passing of past NTA President Steve Fitzwater in June. He will be missed. One of my fond memories of Steve and his family was while we were all at the Wyoming Trappers Assoc. Convention in Basin or visiting with him at one of the Western NTA Conventions. Rest well Steve! I’ll see you on the other side.

Well, I hope this is the best fur season yet for all of you. With the auction houses selling out on some of the pelts maybe this will be another good year with the fur market getting a shot in the arm. Who knows what may come along down the road?

Judge Molloy threw a curve ball at those of us who feel the wolf should be treated as a predator/big game animal by placing them once again onto environmental protection list. Just my thoughts on this matter, I think the judge must not like those of us who enjoy hunting moose, elk and deer; or raise livestock for that matter. I hope this is over-turned and that clear heads prevail and the hunting and some day trapping and snaring of wolves once again begin.

Respectfully submitted.

— Allan L. Minear


With the generous help from MTA members and other groups, MTA was successful in defeating the proposed ballot initiative 160 proposed by the antis. MTA was financially able to provide funds to Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management to help with the offensive against I 160. Many thanks to all those people who worked at the war front and behind the scenes, to protect your trapping heritage. We expect to continue that process through this election year and those in the future. All expenses have been paid in full, as of August 27, 2010. Ample funds are on hand to cover scholarships, life time memberships, SRPF and general expenses. This has been a successful year for the MTA and we could not have done so without your support.

Post Rendezvous, September 2010

Hopefully those of you that attended the MTA Rendezvous in Lewistown had a wonderful time. I saw many familiar faces and several new ones. The demos seemed to pull most of the crowd outside, but back they came for more investigation of supplies & catching up with old friends. Miss Rodeo Montana & Miss Teen Rodeo Montana brightened the room with their gorgeous fur vests & smiles. All of the Volunteer Gals did a great job modeling the Paparazzi fur coats & vests during the Saturday Banquet. One lucky person had the winning ticket for a beautiful beaver fur coat! The banquet caterers did an outstanding job with the food & service. No one went hungry this year.

Our sweepstakes drawing produced more ticket sales this year. Good job guys & gals. We need these funds to operate our organization, promote & protect trapping in Montana. We hope to get next year’s tickets out earlier for even better sales. The Trapping Cabin has returned. I heard many good comments from the younger generation & adults. Ideas are being discussed to revamp the cabin trailer & make necessary repairs to the building. It would be great to move the cabin to fairs, outdoor shows, celebrations, etc. Suggestions for improving the Rendezvous have been received & the Board plans to implement these ideas for next year. Keep the second weekend of September, 2011 open for next year’s Rendezvous. Watch out for more information on the February, 2011 Fur Auction in Columbus.

Even with the financial downturn throughout the country, MTA is staying within our budget. We appreciate your support & assistance with all of our projects. MTA could not exist without all of you. Remember to Vote this November and contact your State representatives asking for their support of trapping. We won an important battle against the proposed ballot initiative I -160, but the war continues. MTA & MEWM will be active during this coming Legislative session. Encourage trappers to become members & get involved. Many of us are getting long in the tooth, with grey hair, or lack thereof.

Have a great fall season, before the cold & snow arrives.

— Terry J Sheppard


Winners of the MEWM 5 Gun Sweepstakes Selected

The drawing was held at the MTA Convention – Sep 11, 2010

The winners and their prizes are listed below.

Winner Gun # 1 – Charles Kleffner – Big Fork MT, Marlin Model XL7 .270 Win caliber
Winner Gun # 2 – Dave Pemble – Kalispell MT, Savage Model 93R17 HMR .17 caliber
Winner Gun # 3 – George Chilton – Zurich MT, Remington Model 770 .243 Win caliber
Winner Gun # 4 – Ken Payne – Bellingham WA, Remington Model 870 12 ga 3” mag
Winner Gun # 5 – Robert Miller – Challis ID, Marlin .22 caliber Auto Load

Congratulations to the winners!

Thank You to all who participated.


1st Ticket — Brad Baker – Hysham MT, Polaris 4 X 4 ATV
2nd Ticket — Martin Weis – Hamilton MT, Stevens Rifle .270 cal W/Scope
3rd Ticket — Joe Chapman – Belgrade MT, Beaver Fur Jacket
4th Ticket — Beverly Stierstorfer – Colo Sprgs CO, Ruger 10/22 .22 cal Rifle
5th Ticket — Laurie Job – Frenchtown MT, Cannon Digital Camera 12.1 MP
6th Ticket — Jim Kyle – Dillon MT, Tristar Over/Under 12 ga. Mag
7th Ticket — Jim Thompson – Deer Lodge MT, Savage HMR .17 cal W/Scope
8th Ticket — Jackie Barrett – Augusta MT, Mossberg Rifle .22 cal Auto
9th Ticket — Greg Triepke – Seeley Lake MT, Ruana Knife
10th Ticket — Tom Bohl – Enid OK, Moose Antler Carving


The Western States Fur Auction will take place on Feb. 20, 2011 at the “Little Metra” located in Columbus, Mont.

Receiving dates on site will be Feb 18th & 19th

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


The next Board of Directors meeting will be Dec 12, 2010 at Yogo Inn * 9:00 a.m. * Lewistown.

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