Stopping By The 2012 National Trappers Assoc. Convention

To those folks who have stuck with me on this blog over the years you’ll likely remember that it was trapping how I cut my outdoor teeth, so to speak.   Indeed, trapping is a very unique culture within our varied outdoor pastimes and I consider it one of the most enjoyable forms of outdoor entertainment available.

Imagine the challenge…you’re trapping an area hundreds, if not thousands, of acres in size hoping that some targeted animal will step its feet on an area 4 or 5 square inches in size.   Or you’re keen eye has discovered a game trail where you use a specialized trap or snare that swiftly puts an end to that particular animal’s travels through the wide open spaces.

No doubt about it, for over 35 years I have been fascinated with trapping and yearned to attend a trapping convention.   Finally, this year I had no excuses…in fact, the National Trapper’s Association annual convention was so close to my home in Owatonna, Minnesota  it would be a sin not to attend and share in the experience.

I could sit here and wax on in this blog about the experience, but I’ve chosen, instead, to give you a tour through pictures.   Perhaps many of my sportsman brethren have not been so lucky to attend a convention like this, either.   So, here goes…I will comment on the experience with each picture.


Seminars are one of the most popular reasons to come to any trapper convention. Here seasoned veterans share their helpful tips with trappers of all ages and skill levels.


The seminar area at this year’s convention was quite impressive with a man-made beaver dam and river constructed right in front of the bleachers. Instructors could give realistic demonstrations of techniques.


Held at one of the largest county fair grounds in Minnesota, there was ample space indoors for vendors to showcase their wares and talk trapping.


On display was devices of all kinds, like these cage (live) traps, for the attendees to consider purchasing.


Known simply as “Trapper Art,” he is one of the good guys and most popular personalities to be found at many of these conventions. Trapper Art has a passion for helping younger trappers get into this wonderful outdoor pastime.


As can be expected, there was lots of fur on display at a trapper convention, like these beaver pelts.


There must have been at least 5 or 6 buildings like this with indoor displays for various vendors.


Even more expansive was the large number of “Tailgaters” as they call them, who set up shop and sell their goods in a flea market fashion.


The Minnesota DNR was represented with several Conservation Officers on hand to answer questions and to display their Wall of Shame trailer.


While the main focus of this event was trapping, some vendors sold just about any type of stuff a person would expect to see at a garage sale.


Interestingly, the convention expected 7,000 people in attendance. I will be shocked if that number isn’t shattered for a new attendance record. Most days the parking lot was nearly filled by 9am. Massive crowds.


It was a common sight to see people using hand carts to carry boxes of traps and supplies to their cars. After all, this crowd came ready to get good deals and to get ready for a new trapping season.


Two days of extremely hot, muggy weather followed by a third day of rain met most of the show attendees. Yet, trappers endure all sorts of weather and few complaints were being uttered.


People would barter and or sell outright. The name of the game was interacting with other people to get what you need for your personal collection.


One of the more popular activities was searching for and adding old traps to personal trap collections.


About the only negative I can come up with about this convention was poor planning for food vendors. They hardly existed and where there was food being sold it was common to see extremely long lines during the mealtimes. Many commented on the large crowds simply overwhelming what existed.


There were trappers from virtually every state. The first day I entered the grounds behind a guy with Alaska license plates. Many Provinces of Canada seemed to be represented, as well.


Trapper conventions are family affairs with special attention given to the youth. Who needs to toss a ball at a dunk tank when trappers would rather “snap” a trap to prove they were winners. Youth got a free trap if they hit the mark.


What would a trapping convention be without lures, baits, urine and scents of all kinds? I couldn’t help but think I hope none of these bottles get dropped on the floor. Steele County is having their annual fair in this building in another two weeks.


Yes, there were traps available for just about any purpose. I even seen a guy carrying around an antique mouse trap that had to be over 100 years old.


One of the ways trappers hone their skills is by watching instructional videos in the off-season. Many displays of videos were available at this convention.


Many of the big fur buying organizations were on hand to educate trappers on the various pelt grades and how best to handle their fur. Here an official demonstrates to a trapper the nuances of what to look for in a quality beaver pelt.


Another of the popular personalities on hand was Mark June, professional trapper and lure maker. He uses his master’s degree in wildlife management to assist trappers in putting more fur on the stretchers.


But not everything was traps….there were t-shirts, artwork, jewelry, you name it. Almost everything in the outdoors was on display somehow.


What appears as a mangled mess of steel was nothing more than a hands-on way for trappers to play with the tools before making the purchase.


The hard part is…sifting through all the choices to discover the key to what will work for the trapper this fall.

I watched this vendor go through several pallet fulls of traps on a daily basis. Sales appeared to be quite good at this convention for nearly every vendor.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Have We Become Too Technology Oriented In The Outdoors?

Let me make a full disclosure…when it comes to gadgets and technology it is one of my guilty pleasures in life.   Digital range finders, GPS mapping, electronic calling devices, digital trail cameras…of course, the list could go on and on.   All fun stuff, right?   Well, sure it is.   Unless you are some devout purist who somehow resists the temptation of merging a 21st Century lifestyle with a century’s old outdoor sporting activity.   Although some folks do, I happen to not be one of them.

Well, I may have finally stumbled upon a product that finally crosses the line for me.   Seriously, a lot of products I’ve seen leave me shaking my head, but the concept behind this one sort of strikes a nerve.   Not that it’s anything outrageously bad, mind you, rather I just find this use of technology to be slightly disturbing.

When I first grew to appreciate the outdoors I did so as a trapper.   Now, let’s face it…what outdoor sport has more heritage and participants practicing an ancient wildlife activity than trapping?   I dare say even though traps have evolved in design over the past century, much of it has been rather cosmetic in nature.   Essentially traps used by my grandfather are pretty much the same ones as in use by me today.

That is until this new trapping gadget came along.Tele-Trap_v2_med

Imagine you set a trap for a wild critter and you no longer need to check it.   That’s right…basically you set it and forget it, until…<RING, RING> you get a call on your cell phone informing you that an animal has likely been captured by your trap.   A new device has been developed by Wildlife Control Supplies called the Tele-Trap Notifier incorporating wireless cell phone technology into its design.   Once an animal is trapped the unit will dial any number you program…it will even perform a follow-up call five minutes later just to make sure the user is paying attention.

As part of the alert it will tell you where the trap is located as well as a name.   I would have hoped it would also take a picture and include that information as part of the message, but apparently that feature has not yet been developed, but believe me it will be coming.

We first discovered these remote notifying devices a few years ago with the popular BuckEye Cam which would send trail cam pictures directly to a computer.   It seems only logical how cell phone technology can be incorporated into existing products in so many ways — some perhaps good, others…well, you decide.

Now let’s be fair about this.   The Tele-Notifier is a device developed in conjunction with the University of Nebraska and intended for use by professional wildlife control personnel.   At $350 per unit you won’t find these out on the traditional trapline.   Nope, instead, look for these to be put in use by companies that do private wildlife control in urban areas where knowing an animal has been captured can save time, money and perhaps even further justify the homeowner’s expense for the services.

Believe me, I’m not knocking the device as I think the concept behind it is interesting.   Still, I have to pause and wonder just a bit where such technological use could potentially take us.   Right now most states require trappers to tend their traps regularly as prescribed by law.   Could the day come when a recreational trapper simply sets his/her trapline and then chooses to sit at home in the easy chair waiting for success to call?

There comes a time in our outdoor sporting life when we all must ask ourselves where does the technological line get drawn.   Simply because a device or gadget is developed doesn’t make it necessarily right for our general use in the outdoors.   The further we gravitate toward technology the more we lose touch with each of the instinctive and deeply human pleasures associated with appreciating the outdoors.

Personally, I don’t need a phone call to announce my success as a trapper.   After all, I can’t imagine it to be anywhere near as exciting as walking up to a trap and discovering it first-hand with one’s own eyes, incidentally the same way trappers have been doing it for well over three centuries.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

No Fur For The First Lady?

Its official Michelle Obama has made a stand she will no longer wear fur way to stand up for something important. I’m glad our first lady has no other more important issue to get behind than fashion. Cancer must be cured teen smoking must be not be an issue anymore. Over the past year and a half it seems like Barack and Michelle are more interested in being rock stars than political servants for our country.


According to this report our Fashionista First Lady is choosing NOT to wear fur while also publicly making a statement about that choice.   Here's hoping the bitter cold Washington wind of always striving to be politically correct blows directly up her skirt.

©2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.