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I am taking on the task of writing a blog.  I will write at least one a month and in some cases more.   Some of them will be completely current and some will be a little more random in terms of subject.  My goal is to help everyone become a better trapper.  And quite frankly, I will be learning too.  Sometimes writing things down gives you a little more time to develop your thought and perspective on your subject.  I hope it is helpful and as always I am open for comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism.  Thanks Charlie Masheck
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By Charlie Masheck on 8/3/2017


      I recently gave a demo at the NTA convention in Pecatonica Illinois.

Instead of starting the demo with a joke or something funny, I told a true story.  Certainly, it was and is funnier now than when the events of the story actually happened.

     Years ago, I believe it was the winter of 1984, I was preparing for a trip to Pennsylvania to sell a load of raccoon skins that I had bought.  At that time, I was a fur-buyer.  Everything was bagged in burlap fur bags, loaded into the truck for the trip east.  We left Indiana at 9:00 p.m. with snow swirling and dropping temperatures.  The plan was to drive all night, arrive at our destination in the morning, sell the 'coons and drive home. 

      My brother in law was driving the early morning shift and I was trying to get some needed sleep.  As the sun was coming up (on a very cloudy day), the truck hit a patch of ice, slid into the side ditch and took...
By Charlie Masheck on 10/28/2016
By Charlie Masheck on 9/30/2016
 

     I have always said, "You can ask 12 trappers a question and you would get 13 different answers".

     A couple of weeks ago I spent my 4th year at the FTA Trapper's College as one of the instructors. The FTA College is in connection with Purdue University.  It is certainly the greatest experience on the planet for any trapper.  The instructors will tell you that they learn as well during the full week of actual trapping, speakers, demos and just being able to talk with experienced trappers.  The wealth of knowledge is second to none.  There are 15 instructors with a combined 700+ years of experience.  Anyone interested in trapping, or wanting to become a better trapper, should definitely consider attending the FTA Trapper's College. 

     One comment that I hear every year, particularly from the beginners, is their concern over conflicting information from the instructors.   Generally speaking,...
By Charlie Masheck on 3/4/2016


 Long after the dust has settled from this past season, long after the fur check has been spent, long after the equipment has been cleaned and prepared for the following season, long after the successes and failures - we have made memories!

     Whether you are a recreational trapper, a professional trapper, or a  land-management trapper; you have made memories.  In my view, far more valuable than a fur check.  Our memory can even influence or affect future fur checks!

     I have trapped with my son Jake, since he was pretty much able to walk.   To this day he still traps with me; the experiences we have shared and the memories we have made have built a strong relationship and a tradition that will be hard to change.

     Memories are very valuable in the learning curve as well.  An accurate memory of experiences; both good and bad, can give us a new  base-line for the methods we use.  Recalling...
By Charlie Masheck on 2/19/2016


A common question (every year) when the snow flies is: "The coyotes are just walking by my set and not even giving it a sniff?" "What's up with that?"

 Well first of all, they were walking by your set before the snow, you just weren't aware of it.  As I have said over the years; "snow is the great humbler".  We think we are doing pretty well, then the snow comes along and takes the wind out of our sails. 

 These occurrences happen to every trapper; beginner, experienced and veteran.  There are several things to think about or to consider.  What was the coyote's perspective?, Did he just gorge himself on a road-kill deer?,  Did he even smell the attractant?, Did he even care?,  Was the wind blowing in the wrong direction?, And an even bigger question; Will he be interested the next time he passes by?

 All legitimate considerations and questions, of course the answer we come up with would be...
By Charlie Masheck on 12/26/2015


     Trapping success is affected by many variables; time of year, weather, level of experience, competition, etc.  Some can be dealt with some cannot.  One factor that occurs every season that we can't control is what I would call the "December lull".   This primarily applies to coyote and coon. 

     The explanation for coon is pretty simple.  'Coon spend the late summer and early fall months getting "fattened up" for winter, this allows them to "lay-up", "not run" or in other words stay in their dens for extended periods of time.  This can vary from a few days to a couple of weeks.   On a normal year, when the weather breaks this is normally the time when the coon "run" or move.   Considering the unseasonable warm weather we have experienced this season we have not had the advantage of "warm ups" after a cold spell.  When it is mild, it is a little more difficult to predict when the coon will actually move.

...
By Charlie Masheck on 10/30/2015
   

 I guess to put it more bluntly, are you a trapper or not?

Of course this question is based on the current situation with the fur market.  This blog is not a market report; it is my take on trapping during rough market conditions.

     My personal perspective is that consistency is very important. Over the 40+ years I have been around trapping and the fur industry, I can assure you that the most successful trappers are the ones that trap every season.  Jumping in and out of the game has never resulted in consistent success no matter what you do. 

     If you decide to sit out a season, or longer, and then decide to trap again, you will find that not only permissions have been lost, but need to be reestablished.  You will also find that it will take a while to get back into the swing of things. The cycle of seasonal experience and continuing education has been broken.   If you think about it, even for those of us that trap every year, the first day or two may be a little rough and then things will fall into place and become much more familiar.

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By Charlie Masheck on 10/2/2015


 State Hopping - Trapping Trips Part #2

 In the last blog, I mentioned that a hotel is the most convenient/flexible form of lodging. 

 The first year we went to Arkansas, our first choice property was just plain not going to work.  We spent the rest of the day driving and looking at other properties, 350 miles later we found one that would be a good fit for trapping.  If we had set up camp or booked a room for an extended stay it would have been difficult to be flexible.  For the first trip to a new area, always plan that where you stay the first night may not be where you spend the second night.

 I cannot mention it often enough, going in blind it is very important to be flexible.

 It is a good idea to have a goal or plan as to what animals you want to target, particularly if you have limited time.  Here again you need to be flexible.   You should be at least somewhat...
By Charlie Masheck on 9/2/2015
    

 Because of our show; Hoosier Trapper Outdoors, a common question we are asked is "How do I go about taking an out of state trapping trip?"  The idea of a trip can be pretty exciting.  However, it can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming.   Over the years, I have come up with a list of considerations, conditions, and suggestions to those of you that are contemplating a trapping trip.

1. The first question you need to ask yourself - Do you want to trap animals that are not legal to trap in your home state? Or do you just want the experience of new geography?

2. Where to go?  Do you know someone or have relatives out of state that would give you the initial "in"?   If you do and they happen to be farmers - you are more than half-way there!

3.  If you don't have an out of state contact, sometimes you can talk to your deer hunting friends that hunt out of state and get a connection that...
By Charlie Masheck on 8/6/2015
      

By now, all of you that shipped fur for the late June early July NAFA sale have received your checks and paper work. While the sale was disappointing, the results of the sale shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone.  With everything that has been written and forecasted the sale results pretty much fell in line with predictions.  I have written similar articles in the past.  The most recent in the fall of 2008 after pretty much the entire world fell into a recession, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the great depression. 

    We are often asked by new shippers, "What happens to the fur that wasn't sold?"  The fur that wasn't sold which would be primarily 'coon, gray fox, and a few other types will be offered again on the next sale.  Basically, the fur is offered until it is sold.  In the late 1980's when the market completely fell apart, I personally had fur that took several seasons to completely sell.  NAFA does reserve the right to destroy fur that has no value. At this point if it has been graded, baled and assigned a lot number- I would say destroying fur would be highly unlikely. 

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