South Dakota Trappers Association December 2009 Report

President — Kim Potter, 26424 436th Ave., Bridgewater, SD 57319; phone: 605-729-2691; e-mail:

Vice President — Gary Dale Poppenga, 27961 463rd Ave., Lennox, SD 57039; phone: 605-647-2323; e-mail:

Secretary — Terry Olson, 921 North Harth, Madison, SD 57042; phone: 605-256-6311; e-mail:

Treasurer/Public Relations — John Almquist, 521 2nd St. NE, Watertown, SD 57201; phone: 605-886-8501; e-mail:

NTA Director — Jerry Westphal, 17342 297th Ave., Agar, SD 57520; phone: 605-258-2142; e-mail:

Tanned Fur Coordinator — Steve Peterson, 22251 448th Ave., Ramona, SD 57054; phone: 605-482-8131; e-mail:

Youth Education Coordinator — Aaron Doyscher, P.O. Box 247, Volga, SD 57071; phone: 605-627-6558

Membership Options:

• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Junior membership with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $13
• Family membership with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $30

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

SDTA, Treasurer
John Almquist, 521 2nd St. NE
Watertown, SD 57201


As trapping season arrives, I thought I would give you an update as to the happenings of the South Dakota Trappers Association. First of all, I would like to thank everyone who attended our Fall Rendezvous. It was wonderful to see so many folks excited about trapping. As many of you already know, we elected several new directors: Galen Sichmeller, Richard Hoops and Howard Heidelberger. I would like to welcome them and thank the former directors for all they have done. Recently, the directors have voted to send $500 to the Montana Trappers Association to help them with their battle by educating their residents about the facts of trapping. We would also like to wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.

We also set the date for the spring convention. The convention will be held on April 10 at the Spring Lake Lodge with the Skinning Bee to follow on April 12 at Peterson Furs. The date for the Fall Rendezvous has also been chosen. The Fall Rendezvous will be on Sept. 17 and 18. We are in the final process of determining the location, and this will be announced soon. I thought I would at least give you the dates so you could mark your calendars.

The prizes for our fall raffle have been purchased and the tickets are being printed. The fall raffle is one of our main fundraisers and I would like to encourage everyone to SELL, SELL, SELL. We have some wonderful prizes this year and we hope for the raffle to be a big success.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone the best of luck this trapping season and look forward to hearing some great trapping stories this spring and fall.

— Anna Hermanson


On behalf of myself and my wife Marti, we would like to thank the membership of the SDTA for electing me a director and later vice president. It’s been a wonderful experience. My name is Gary Poppenga.

My wife and I have two daughters and seven grandchildren. Only one grandson; but at 6 years old, he could already point our deer, ’coon and ’possum tracks. I’m going to try my best to continue to teach him about the great outdoors. Today, I trap mink, beavers, ’rats, ’possums, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks, badgers and pet rats (don’t laugh, I had a job to catch a pet rat for a family).

I grew up in a trapping family; my Dad, grandfather, uncles and cousins were all trappers. My Grandfather Gako Wiebersiek would catch up to 85 muskrats a day, put them up and mail them to the Sears and Roebucks for 18 cents apiece. He made enough money to feed his family all winter and had money left to buy seed to plant his crops in the spring. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do that today?

I graduated from Lennox High School in 1960 and went to SDSU for two years majoring in Wildlife Conservation. Due to lack of funding, I had to quit. My next step was to take over my dad’s dairy farm. I had won several dairy-judging awards in high school from SDSU. So I already had an understanding of dairy cattle. Because of my interest in the dairy industry; I got involved in the dairy boards. I served many positions including getting licensed by the state to inspect dairy barns for quality control. This lead to working with farm organizations and doing booths at the Turner County fair and other places.

My first experience in trapping came when I was in the first grade. I went to a country school and in the fall the 7th and 8th graders were trying to catch gophers. That night, I told my dad about it. He explained how to snare them with a string. The next day, I went to school with 30 feet of binder twine. I snared the gophers to the older kids amazement.

My next experience was for my teacher; she was ready to quit teaching because of all the mice in the old country school. My dad sent traps along with me to school and I caught the mice.

My next adventure was with skunks. It seemed the whole neighborhood was loaded with skunks. My dad once again taught me how to catch them. The first year, I trapped 54 skunks and civet cats. The teacher sent me home several times because she did not like my after-shave lotion; at least I tried to make her believe that was the cause. Oh for the days of the country school. When I got my first fur check, I thought I could buy a car.

I also trapped pocket gophers out of the hay fields for my dad and neighbors. I got 25 cents for them; not bad money in those days for a young man. About that time, my dad bought a new car and kept the old one for me. My father saw my interest in trapping and wanted to see my interest continue. By this time, my trapping needs had increased for I needed more and bigger traps for the $5 bounty on badger. With a 1941 Chevy car and a lot more traps, I was plain hooked on trapping (although I had to pay for my own gas and traps).

I joined the SDTA in 1992 and became a director in 1993; receiving the Koefller award in 1993. Like everything I’ve done in the past, I like to really get involved. I was the first member to sell over 100 books of tickets for the fall raffle. Today; that is not only happening but by more and more members. I’m really proud of our members who can surpass my personal goals. Anybody who sells a bunch of tickets or donates a lot of fur and time should be commended; it truly shows their ambition and care for the association. Other things that I have been involved in for the SDTA are trapping shows at different locations, education, exposure and raising cash for the SDTA treasury. It has been proven that the more people you can get involved in a project or show, the more successful it becomes.

The first show that I organized for the SDTA was at Prairie Village starting with a make-shift canopy, tickets, some fur and some trinkets for sale and some great help. We were on our way to several successful years.

About the same time, I was invited to show at the Sioux Falls Water Festival. There are about 62 schools involved today; usually 2,800 to 3,000 3rd and 4th graders plus the teachers, chaperones and bus drivers go threw in two days. I’ve done this show for 16 years because of some wonderful help: Terry Olson, Gary Fawbush, Mary Ann Eich and Charlie Eich were some of the members who helped me the most. I feel we might have reached 50,000 kids and adults over the years, exposing them to trapping. A number of years ago, I helped Don Lockwood get started with the Water Festival in Brookings. There are around 1,500 students that go to that show which also has been a big success and is on going.

At a directors meeting, I asked why we didn’t do a show at the big gun show in Sioux Falls. The word was you couldn’t get a booth. I called the manager of the show; I found out that he used to be a trapper and said he would let me set up in the hall in front of the main booth room, which I happily accepted. With my wife and fellow trappers, we started a booth at the Dakota Territory Gun Show in Sioux Falls. It’s grown a lot since then and has become very lucrative over the years.

Four years ago I was asked by the park manager to do a show at Prairie Luce Days on Lake Herman near Madison, SD. Over time, we have given a lot of education material and fur scraps away: once again exposure and a good day for the association. Thanks Terry and Gary for the years of help. The park made us feel very welcome.

Two and one half years ago, Adam Nyhaug, the creator of the Old Court House Museum in Sioux Falls, SD, called me. He asked if I would come down and help identify some furs, hats and etc. for them. They were going to open a new exhibit called Top Hat, Beads and Buffalo Hides. Marti and I gladly obliged. I put an old Number 4 New House trap on loan to them. They have a birch wood canoe on display plus many other trapping era items; such as guns, powder horns, beads and a mounted beaver and buffalo. Many items you would have found in an old trading post years ago are there. If you are in Sioux Falls, take the time to see it. It is well worth your time.

In 2006, Harlan Olson, who lives south of Lake Poinsett, wrote to John Almquist telling him of a new museum that was being built at the new entrance to the state park on Lake Poinsett. Harlan, being an amateur archeologist, walked the surrounding fields finding arrow points and other artifacts left behind by the people passing threw the area many years ago. He explained that many of these artifacts would be on display along with a special fur trade exhibit. He wanted to know where he could find some tanned furs for the display. John sent the letter to me and I called the park manager, Randy Pitts, to acquire more information. He gave me Harlan’s telephone number; we had an interesting conversation. He explained the number of people we could introduce to fur. It sounded like a wonderful chance to get the SDTA some exposure. I took this information with me to the next SDTA board meeting.

The board agreed it would be a good chance for exposure. We decided to donate a fox, coyote, ’coon, beaver, muskrat, badger and mink that were tanned to the project. Everyone involved in the project was delighted. I put in a stipulation on the donation: we wanted a plaque placed above the fur that they were donated by the SDTA. The plaque was put into place. The grand opening was scheduled for the free camping weekend in May of 2007. The very first year over 3,000 people signed the register. I checked the first year and there were people from nine states and three different countries. A lot of schools take a whole busload of students to see the exhibit for a special day. Besides the fur trade exhibit, he has one of the best collection of Indian artifacts in the area. The number of visitors could be higher because often 25 to 30 percent of the visitors don’t sign the register. Terry Olson, Marti and myself attended the grand opening with a small show at the request of Harlan Olson.

I was invited to do a trapping show at Oakwood Lakes, a state campground a short way north of Volga, SD in 2006. In this park are old Indian burial mounds, two log cabins of which the south one is in a location of an old military depot and the other is on the northwest end and built by a trapper named “spot Mortimer” in 1869. It has been restored today. It is built of oak logs and rock. Mr. Mortimer was a shoemaker by trade from New York. Following his longings he ventured west.

When he found himself in Yankton, SD, he began trapping. One day, he met Captain John Todd and Daniel Frost; they had formed a fur company and asked Mortimer to build a log Trading Post along the Missouri river. He did the first one at the mouth of the now Vermillion and James River and then again further up the Missouri. About this time, he heard of a rich fur area on the upper Sioux River. He went north in spite of the 1862 Indian uprising and found a trapping paradise of foxes, mink, otters, badgers, beavers and muskrats. This is where he built his log cabin and trapped for many years. This area of the upper Sioux River was explored as early as the late 1600 by Pierre LeSuere; probably the first white man to explore and map eastern South Dakota.

We call it the SDTA rendition of a mountain man rendezvous. We show hand-forged traps on into the modern day traps. We show snowshoes, fur coats, tools that would have been used in this period, SD furs, hats and other fur trade memorabilia. We hand out fur scrapes, crossword puzzles and other literature. My wife has done Dutch oven cooking as food was a big part of the old rendezvous days. This park has a lot of history. According to the Archeological excavations, Indians spent time here as long ago as the middle woodland period. Back then, the bison would still have been plentiful here. The Indians used the side to process buffalo. Later, I’m sure they took fur for the fur trade. The Indians were probably some of the first trappers in the area. This weekend is called “A Walk in Time.” By now, you see why I think it is such a nostalgic place to do a show. A Hudson Bay post was located east of there at Gilles Grove.

In the spring of 2007, a former trapper (Paul Stark) called to see if I was interested in do a trapping show at the 2008 Sportsmen’s Expo in Huron, SD for the SDTA. After a long conversation, he sent me the information. It sounded like a challenge; so I accepted on behalf of the SDTA. By accepting a year early, it meant that we would get a spot to our liking. After making a bunch of phone calls to dedicated trappers, we had our crew for the show.

The show turned out a big success and this year even bigger. I feel it will get bigger and better each year. In a case like this, the more people we can talk to, the more people we influence, and the more workers can see the fabulous show. Each year, there has been over 4,000 people in attendance; with the economy getting better, the numbers will too. It surely could become a very lucrative show to do.
Today, I belong to the SDTA, NTA, Museum of the Fur Trade of Chadron, NE, associated with the SD Historical Society and a member of the Antique Trap Collectors Association as well as with the South Dakota Ducks Unlimited for 20 years of which I was five years chairman of our local committee.

The outdoors has been my life; trapping, hunting, fishing, camping and Dutch oven cooking are still my greatest joys along with my family. My greatest mentors were my dad, because he loved trapping and taught me so much, my grandfather; who was an excellent trapper in his own day; and Reiner S Poppenga, a cousin of my fathers who worked hard to get the SDTA started. He had a cabin on a small lake that my dad and I went fishing at. Each time we were there, if he was there, he would come out and talk trapping. He tried his hardest to get me interested in the SDTA. He was a carpenter by trade, but took one month off each year to trap. He trapped mostly mink, beavers and muskrats day and night. These people are why I probably feel I have a vested interest in the association today.

The future of trapping depends on you the trapper. If you love trapping, get involved and help pass on the heritage. Remember that trapping played a big part in the settlement of South Dakota. A heritage we should all be proud of and want to pass it on. My vision for the future of the SDTA is education, education, exposure, exposure and exposure!

It’s a numbers game. The more people you have behind a booth, the more shows you do, only adds up to the more people we expose to our thinking on fur. The SDTA cannot afford to ever let up. Good luck and a big welcome to the new directors. I considered it a big privilege to have been a director and the enjoyment I will never forget.

Be sure to read The Trapper & Predator Caller Magazine each month. I’m sure that the President Anna or our Public Relations Man John will keep you all abreast of which shows are coming up where in the state and who to contact for helping do them.

This article is getting long to name all of the people who have helped me with any of the shows over the years. Remember to have fun and once again thank you. Don’t be afraid to start a show in your area. Just call a director and they will help you. It is dedication like this that keeps the association going. — Gary Poppenga
This is just a note of thanks to all the membership and their family members who have helped by servings, helping in the kitchen or have brought items for all the food that I have put on at spring and fall conventions for the SDTA. Also thanks go out to everyone who ate all this food as the profits went into the treasury.

Thanks again.

— Marti

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