Well guys trapping season is a mere weeks away and I decided to get started early by targeting some beaver for a farmer here in the area. Now these particular rodents are tearing up the mans corn fields. To the point that he is losing acres in row crop. Since beaver can be trapped year round in TN, I got started with snaring on the creek bank in the runs that border the corn.
I set up my snares with a 9 inch loop 2 inches off the ground right where the run came up the bank the the field. I anchored them with a earth anchors right at the base of my support wire. The particular support that I used was made out of a wooden stake with two holes drilled into the upper part with a length of #9 wire fed through.
The first check day revealed a huge 65 pound beaver with all other snares being knocked down. I honestly couldn’t understand why I was getting all the knock downs in the runs. On the reset, I opened the snares to a 10 inch loop at 2 inches off the ground, thinking maybe the snares were too small for such large beaver. The next days check found two more 65 pounders in the snares! One was a perfect neck catch while the other was by the back foot.
The farmer was ecstatic with the catches and asked that I continue trapping on his other farms. To say this was a successful week is an understatement! Tight chains and take a kid trapping!
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With the low prices that are on the horizon at our fur sales this year, some of us trappers are pondering was to do with our catches and how to make up the difference in the prices we might be paid at auction. Currently prices are dismal and probably wont get any better until long after the change of guard in Washington. There are several ways to make significantly more by keeping your fur this year and putting a little more work into a finished product. This includes self tanning, selling to taxidermist and others, craft projects, selling meat, skulls and skeletons.
Once you finish fleshing those raccoons, fox and coyotes, take a minute to go over them again and get ready to enter the world of self tanning. Tanning has come to be known as an difficult process when if fact it is more time consuming than anything else. There are tons of ways to tan from using salt, alum, brains and commercial tanning solutions. I prefer to use the salt method, which involves soaking your pelts in salt water for several days followed by layers of salt to pull out the moisture. Being that you can buy a 50 lb bag of salt for $4.00 at Tractor Supply, this is not a huge cost investment. While you are there, go to the equine section and pick up a bottle of neatsfoot oil to finish your tanning process and you are good to go. The process can be done in about a week not including time to stretch and soften your pelt. Once you are done, you can either sell as is or smoke your pelts for a rich, golden color on the underside. I use a old smoker for this purpose and find that the propane burner makes for easy temperature control and even smoking of your tanning project.
Once you get done tanning your furs you can begin marketing your products via the internet on E-bay and other trapping and taxidermy websites. Taxidermist are always looking for suppliers of quality furs as well as those that know how to tan and prepare fresh pelts. Remember that the way a taxidermist wants a pelt cased is very different that what auction houses want. They are looking for intact feet with claws and pads included in the skinning. Also most prefer a non cased pelt unless they are sending it off to have it tanned themselves. In addition to taxidermist and fur lovers that want your finished pelts, you may find a good market on the Native American pow-wow circuit. In my past life, I created Native American jewelry and attended pow-wows in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The vendors at these events have a special group that they market to and fur is a needed commodity when it comes to making regalia, crafts and ceremonial items. The coyote, for instance, is one of the most revered and cherished animals in the Native American world and many will pay a hefty price for a well tanned and smoked pelt to make into a head dress.
If you are not familiar with the pow wow circuit or you are not near one don’t let that stop you. Design your own crafts and sell on Ebay, Etsy or other online shops. This can be as simple as stretching a raccoon pelt with leather thong on a framework of saplings tied together into a square. Many will pay for this unique item to hang in their mountain cabin or vacation home. This can be done with beaver, deer, coyote, fox or any other medium to large fur bearer. Keep them plain for a mountain man theme or tie feathers and beads on for a more Native American creation. You can also make money on coon skin caps, fur possibles bags, peace pipe bags and anything you can imagine. Fur is a powerful item that people just love to feel and spend money on.
Other ideas include the selling of meat, not only for human consumption (if legal in your state) or to other trappers for the making of various baits. Raccoon is very popular in the southern states around the holidays and makes an excellent meal. The bobcat that you skinned out can be taken and the meat ground for predator bait bases. This also includes the selling of glands to trappers as well. A gallon of coon glands go for well over $40 and all it involves is an extra 5 minutes while skinning to cut the vent and section of the intestine out and throw in a jug in the freezer. Before you throw the carcass away, take off the head with a saw and throw it in the freezer as well. Lot of people are looking for skulls and skeletons, either with the meat on or cleaned by dermastid beetles. A meat-on skull will sell from $1 to $5 depending on the animal. Simply freeze and then advertise on taxidermy or trapping websites to get customers. You can wrap them securely in plastic and newspaper and ship overnight or next day without the danger or thawing. Another idea is to get you a colony of beetles that will strip and eat the meat off the skull in a matter of days and you have a product that some will pay upwards of $10 to $50 for especially if it is whitened with peroxide and have the teeth intact or glued into place. Last but not least, remove the penis bones from raccoons for a Appalachian novelty that sells well in my home state of TN. Legend has it that this “Tennessee Toothpick” was used as stoppers on moon shine stills when the whiskey was flowing into bottles too fast. These can be sold for $5 in various markets.
There are many ideas that today’s trapper can use to make money and continue to enjoy the traditions of the trap line. The fur market will not always be as low as it has been but its nice to have some ways to fall back on and still make a profit from something we all dearly love. Whether its the feel of fur under our hands or the cool morning air as well walk our trapline, no matter the pay, this is all worth it.
Good information from our friends at Groenewold.
As the new trapping and hunting season is about to begin, we are working to discover the real market for wild fur. We have been marketing wild fur aggressively by establishing new means of making wild fur readily available to the end users .
What have we discovered about demand? We have seen a moderate rise in the prices of muskrat and otter which could be a result of the recent rise in ranch mink prices with 100% clearance. We expect muskrats to maintain this trend and these levels as ranch mink coat sales are very good in Northern China. We are hoping otter will also continue to move in a positive direction.
What about raccoon? We have realized a price level on raccoon which is seemingly low to motivate trappers, however we are seeing our goods being used for both Chinese and Russian consumption. With raccoon in both markets we are hoping to see an uptick with this item.
The Russian market will be interesting to watch this year. There is a new regulation in place to track skins which have been imported legally to make the black means of importing easier to detect. This will have advantages and disadvantages to the producers in Russia, and the market fallout is yet to be determined. We are seeing much a colder winter develop in Russia this year. A cold winter will result in raccoon consumption, however the net effect on the market will be known later as skin dealers are dumping cheap skins on the market to generate cash.
Fur Routes. We will be starting our routes later this year to encourage a catch of primer skins. We do not see the need to put inferior skins on the market when there are plenty of goods which were cleared at very low prices last year. Quality skins are desired first in this market.
Legal Stability in China. We have discovered that Chinese are now importing goods and paying the legal taxes. This is good for business because it creates a even playing field for all competitors.
Beaver: We continue to market and process beaver. We can always use beaver.
Coyote: Western heavy coyotes will have good value while other grades will be more selective in demand. The damaged coyotes in the Midwest and Eastern States will have little value this year as their final commercial uses do not work economically.
Currencies: The Russian Ruble has steadied which gives investors confidence. The Chinese Yuan is losing value so this is becoming a concern as this causes our exports to look more expensive to them.
Big Lot: We are doing our Big Lot Marketing Program again. Please check our website for details.
New York: We will introduce a Western New York route this year.
Fur Dealers: If you have any questions about how we can cooperate together call us at 815 938 2381.
If anyone has any questions about the market, you may email me at email@example.com. I may try to answer them in our next blog or answer them personally.
|Raccoon:||Raccoon prices have found a bottom.|
|Muskrat:||Prices have come off of spring lows and have moved to more respectable levels.|
|Beaver:||Better beaver are difficult to sell.|
|Wild Mink:||Watch ranch mink prices…|
|Coyote:||Western’s will be respectable, Eastern damages will be very cheap.|
|Grey Fox:||Very slow.|
|Red Fox:||Selling at better levels.|
|Skunk:||Sold a few for fashion, mostly novelty usage.|
|Otter:||Otter have moved up a bit.|
|Bobcats:||Better goods are sold out. Commercials waiting for Russia…|
Below is a great article from the Sportmen’s Alliance. It discusses the need for trapping in animal population control and ramifications of trapping bans. As the anti trapping movement
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This is a great read about how everything is intermingled in the world of predator control.
According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD), additional predator “control” strategies (such as a bounty system or management method other than hunting and trapping) wouldn’t benefit wild turkeys.
In their current Big Game Management Plan 2010-2020 draft, the VFWD suggests that: “Predator/prey relationships are extremely dynamic and complex. These relationships involve a variety of factors which defy a simple, quick fix. Wild turkeys are prey to a long list of predators including coyotes, bobcats, foxes, fisher, weasels, skunks, opossum, raccoons, snakes, hawks, owls, domestic dogs, and humans. In the case of implementing ‘coyote control,’ for example, assuming that this could be effective, removal of coyotes would only reduce competition among the remaining host of predators that would continue to prey on turkeys.”
In other words, coyotes help control the list of other turkey predators.
“Coyotes, in fact, prey upon weasels, opossums, raccoons, foxes and rarely skunks,” the VFWD suggests. “All of these species are effective predators of nests, chicks, and nesting turkey hens. For this reason, it is possible that removal of coyotes could allow the populations of these other predators to increase resulting in more, not less, turkey predation and an overall decrease in a turkey population. Complex species relationships are common in nature.”
Could the wild turkey and coyote have more in common than we think?
“Many of the qualities that hunters admire so much about these birds, such as their incredible eyesight,ability to detect movement and wariness, are products of the turkey’s long evolutionary history that they share with their predators,” the current VFWD management plan draft suggests. “As wild turkey populations increase, the potential role of this species as a significant source of prey for other Vermont animals may now be greater than ever before.”
Predator hunting is encouraged however. There’s no closed season on Vermont coyotes, and a fall trapping season as well.