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.