An Old Dog Can Learn

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Published on: Jan. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

the trapping season came to a close, I began to think about how I was going to sell my furs. There are two basic ways: (1) sell them directly to a fur buyer or (2) take them to an auction and sell them to the highest bidder. I chose the more interesting path - the auction.

Selling the furs at auction provided as much excitement as any day on the trapline. The auction is the point in the process when the predator becomes the prey.

I drove to Montgomery City one Saturday in February where the Missouri Trappers Association was sponsoring one of its annual fur sales. The area around the building at the Montgomery County Fair Grounds was congested, but I found a place to park next to a truck piled high with raccoon hides. At that moment I admitted what I already suspected: I had been trapping, but I really wasn't a trapper.

I stepped into a crowded building bustling with activity. It appeared to be a family affair. People of all ages, old men and young men, teenage boys and girls, women with toddlers and babies milled around tables piled high with furs. There were furs of all kinds, more fur than I had seen in my entire life, and they were still bringing it in. The auctioneer's voice blared over the PA system nearly drowning out the bidders. Everyone appeared to be doing something important.

I stood in the center of the room and turned a slow circle. This old dog was intimidated. A person in a jam like this needs a friend, a mentor, someone in the know - and I found him.

He had a clipboard and was efficiently dispensing verbal directives near the center of the room.

This efficient gentleman was Mel Block, a local member of the Missouri Trappers Association and a man with a lot of trapping mud on his boots.

I introduced myself and fired a battery of questions. Block recognized the whipped-dog look in my eyes and told me to relax, he would help me.

At least two hours remained before my furs would be auctioned, which suited me fine because I wanted a chance to look things over. I wanted to talk to the other trappers and to the buyers, reasoning that if they knew me they might bid more on my furs.

Finally, Block pointed to a table. With the help of a friend, I brought

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