First Year Fur Trapper
I’m not sure what causes a grown man to try something completely new. Perhaps it’s a chance to feel young again, optimistic and green. Maybe it’s the joy of discovery, or the excitement of exploring a new world. I did just that when I became a first-year fur trapper at the age of 34.
The idea of fur trapping always appealed to me when I was a kid. I would read stories in Fur-Fish-Game of Alaskan trappers and dream of wild lonely places, adventure and riches. However, growing up on the outskirts of St. Louis didn’t provide an environment conducive to those dreams. I thought that learning to trap would be expensive and complicated, and I had questions about the humaneness of the sport.
I began my voyage into the world of fur trapping in 2003 when I signed up for a class called Trapping in Today’s World sponsored by the Conservation Department.
As an agriculture teacher, I attend in-service activities to learn new material for the conservation class I teach in Camdenton. The trapping class was held during the National Trappers Convention in Columbia. I watched demonstrations, visited with vendors, took notes and asked a lot of questions. I left the convention with three traps, a second-hand fleshing beam, some castor lure and high hopes.
During my first trapping season, there was a lot to learn. Whether you’re a would-be trapper, or merely curious, I hope my experiences help you to better understand the world of fur trapping.
Big work, little pay
My dream of easy riches quickly faded in my first season of trapping. Dragging a sled with 30 pounds of equipment and a 45-pound beaver reminded me more of football practice than a leisure activity.
Everything about trapping seemed like work at first, walking a creek in waders, climbing up and down river banks, making sets. It was a great way to stay in shape and shed a few of those holiday pounds.
The first time I sold my furs I was paid $9 for each beaver pelt. It was more than a little discouraging after spending so many hours trapping, hauling, skinning, scraping and stretching them. I had to remind myself that I was not only richer, but also happier and healthier for the experience. Later, I was able to sell beaver pelts for substantially more money as I gained experience and skill.
A global enterprise
I was fascinated by how much of the fur