First Year Fur Trapper

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2010

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

Fur Trappers

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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.

Lesson 1

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.

Lesson 2

A global enterprise

I was fascinated by how much of the fur

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