Making the Best of a Low Fur-Market Season


Like most of our fellow trappers, my wife Jill and I didn’t set any records on the trapline last season, neither in terms of effort or results. Still, we didn’t just sit it out. Even with a fur market in the doldrums, that’s unthinkable.
First, I ran a brief river trapline on the old stomping grounds my retired partner Bill and I used to trap. A long-time friend is just now getting into trapping after his retirement, and he wanted to learn more about water trapping. Randy and I only trapped for a week and never had out more than four or five dozen sets, but it was enough to catch a few otters, cats and beavers, plus the inevitable truckload of possums and coons.
Then Jill and I ran our customary husband-wife high-country trapline for a week or so just before Christmas, but due to a combination of warm weather, persistent rain and a general lack of commitment and elbow grease on our part, we didn’t raise any eyebrows with our catch. She beat me, incidentally. I told her it was because I let her win, but I don’t think she bought it.
The highlight of our season, though, was the two weeks we spent in January and February running two separate lines, each of us with a rookie trapping partner. Randy, my buddy from the river line, started the two weeks as my partner. Meanwhile, Jill partnered with another friend of ours named Billy, who is also retired and interested in trapping.
At the end of the first week, we swapped off. Billy became my partner, and Randy trapped with Jill. Again, we didn’t set any records with our catch, partly because we spent a lot of time on instruction and explanation, partly because we kept the lines fairly short and partly because we didn’t want to catch a lot of fur that didn’t have much value. But we did put up enough nice cats for Randy’s wife Nives (pronounced Nee-vis) to have a bobcat jacket made (Billy’s wife Cathy had a cat and gray fox coat made from our fur last year) and had enough cats left over to pay for our gas.
All in all, it was an enjoyable, diverse and relaxing trapping season. Not only did Jill and I get to scratch the trapper’s itch that comes on every fall, we had the opportunity to teach – and learn from – two newcomers to the ranks. Newcomers, incidentally, who are now off and running as enthusiastic and accomplished trappers in their own right.
And the icing on the cake is that it appears we’ve turned the corner where the fur market is concerned. Prices are still far below where they were a few years ago and won’t be back there for a while yet, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.
That’s a good thing.
Now, let’s all put up our traps, put on our camo and go turkey hunting.
Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to To purchase Jim’s trapping and turkey books, visit his website,

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