Cheap Fur? Make Money!

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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.

New DP Tool on the Market

There is a new DP tool out of the market that looks to be really slick. I will be ordering one of these in the next few weeks and let everyone know about it. Really looks easy to set and it has other uses as well. Please take time to check out our new group page on Facebook and our new online store here on the website. We have t-shirts and decals available with free shipping on decals for group members. Only 88 days till trapping season here in Tennessee!!

Today’s Catch

Welcome to tales from the trap line. A ongoing story of success and failure in the life a  weekend hobby trapper. 

1.18.16  Just wanted to give everyone an update on my trap line results from today. Would you believe a big fat zero? I am on a new piece of property made up of about 5 acres of logging roads and old home places here in the mountains of Sevier County. I had several Duke DP’s set out along the road where trails were intersecting down towards the creek. I had also set up three on the site of an old trailer directly opposite of the creek. Plenty of sign there, just need to wait it out and let the sets work. Many of you have asked what bait I use in my DP’s and it varies by location and temperature. If I am trapping new territory, I usually start off with dog food with a good squirt of fish oil in the trap and around the area leading up the trail. Sometimes in cold weather I switch to something loud smelling like sardines. This is a great alternative because you can buy them for cheap at stores, keep them in your trapping bag until use and they never go bad. Some people swear by marshmallows. It really all depends on the trapper and the location.

The weather here has turned bitterly cold with a low of 9 degrees forecasted for tonight. I doubt that I will get a lot of action with the dog food but I am going to let the sets sit awhile since its new property. These Dukes seem to be a pretty robust trap. The set tool that I bought makes them easy to set and the staking choices are endless. You can use metal rebar or attach with a wire to trees nearby. I usually use rebar for the simple fact of me not putting many traps in at one time. If I was running a long line, I would suggest the wire setup. I have notices that the green OD green paint comes off fairly easy once they are in the weather awhile. I am going to paint these white in the future of better eye appeal.

I hope everyone’s trapping season is going well. Be sure and share this site with others. Upcoming videos and an online store or in the future.

2.18.16  Well today was a good and bad one. I caught 2 squirrels and a possum in the dog proof traps. Squirrels! Who knew?  The letdown was the huge catch circle I found with the trap and stake missing……..I honestly think it was a fox or bobcat. A coon couldn’t have done this.IMG_0850 I broke a cardinal rule in trapping. I didn’t check my traps on my 24 hour schedule like I usually do and this this catch got away. Live and learn I suppose. I was using sardines for bait which seems to have really upped the catch since all this cold weather and snow. This weekend is supposed to be spring like and in the sixties so hopefully I will redeem myself. I also bought some AuSable disposable stakes and swivels, hoping to alleviate the pull out issue of the rebar. Another day in the life of this trapper.

 

New Videos

Good morning everyone! I wanted to let you know that I have put several new videos on the site that show dog proof traps and how to use them. The two this morning are from Eric Fleming with Fleming Traps in Ramer, Alabama. Not only are they from my home state but they are a great group of folks. Featured on the videos is the Duke and the Z-Trap. Both are excellent products. You can browse their website at www.flemingtraps.com.