Category Archives: Education

Education News.

Trapper’s Education Class

We will be holding a trappers ed class Sunday September 10th, 2017, 9 am to 3 pm, at the Beatrice Gun Club in Beatrice, NE.  Click here for a google map and directions.

The morning will be classroom, regulations, equipment, ethics etc. and the afternoon will be outside doing demos.

There will be plenty of free raffle giveaways and lunch will be provided.

To register or ask questions please contact education coordinator Eric Stane at  (402) 658-8012.

NFH Makes Presence At Outdoor Nebraska Event

Dave Hastings of the Nebraska Fur Harvesters Association was guest presenter at an Outdoor Nebraska focus at Lake McConaughy this week.  Dave had the following to say:

“They had sessions on birds, water conservation, and general outdoor topics as well as Nebraska history. I did the “Furs and More” presentation, which was generally about mammals (well, coyotes mostly!) and trapping was part of the presentation. We discussed animal identification, wildlife tracks, “Poop-acology 101,” and general wildlife principals like carrying capacity and damage control. Trust me, 4th graders were happy to be out of school for the day, and they really perked up when we talked about poop, complete with samples and photos.”

If you are interested in having a member of the NFH do a presentation at your event, contact President and Education Coordinator Eric Stane at ericnfh@gmail.com.

Thank you Dave, for helping to spread the word and keep our youth educated to the benefits of furbearer management!

Spring Trapping Part 2 – Beaver

The largest rodent found in North America is also the animal that started the North American fur trade.  Countless entrepreneurs have made and lost fortunes on it’s pelt  throughout history.  Native Americans knew it for it’s warm fur and meat.

Today the beaver has lost some of it’s luster but still remains a staple furbearer in some parts of the country.  In Nebraska, we have the added advantage of trapping them an extra month compared to some of the other furbearers.  The equipment used and the methods of take vary as widely as the pursuers of this classic animal.  We will take a look at what it takes to trap beaver in Nebraska.

Being considerably larger than the muskrat, beaver trapping equipment is proportionally larger, bulkier and more expensive.  Yet some of your existing equipment can be used for beaver trapping.  A number 3 coil spring or long spring trap can be utilized in some sets.   A better choice would be a #4 or larger, since beaver have extremely large back feet.   If you go the body grip route for beaver, the 330 conibear is the best body grip to use.

The sets you make for beaver can also vary widely.  A couple of  my favorites are the castor mound and “dam break” set.  The castor mound set involves digging up some mud and plopping it on the bank

The castor mound set. Courtesy of www.trappersline.com

of a creek, pond or river.  On this mound, place a dab of castor based beaver lure.  Beavers make castor mounds to mark their territory and your mound will signal them that an intruder is in the area. The beaver will naturally attempt to put more mud on your mound, and top it with his own castor, showing you he’s the boss.  Be prepared for him by placing a trap (or two) where you suspect he will come out of the water.

The dam break set capitalizes on the beaver’s ingenuity and dam building skills.  Use your shovel, a stick, or your foot to break away part of the beaver dam and place a trap near this break.  The beaver will be caught in the process of attempting to rebuild what you have broken.  This also doubles as a good way to determine if there are still beaver in the area.  Be cautious of where you place your trap or you may find after the the beaver has finished it’s repair job, your trap has become part of the dam!

Bob Miers of Sandy’s Fur Buying gives the following advice on beaver sets:  “Spring is a time they travel as the young are kicked out and made to move on so to speak.

Bob Miers with his fur ready for auction.

Even if you have little or no sign in your area on a river or creek, make a few scent mound sets and you will probably catch any passing beaver. I give an area 5 days and move on no matter how many I catch.  I use scent mounds the most, some blind sets, and if there is a dam I use the broken dam set, and runs and trails what some guys call slides.”

Getting around with all this heavy equipment can be another challenge.  Dave Hastings, Fur Takers Of America College Instructor, overcomes this challenge by using a boat.  “I use a 6.5 horse Mud Buddy motor on my 12′ narrow John boat. I almost never get a “boat ramp” to launch or pick up, so the small motor makes it possible to drag it,  or remove the motor and carry to launch most anywhere.

Dave Hastings pilots his boat and trapping equipment up the river.

If there is snow, I can generally drag the unloaded boat down to the water by hand, and in the pull out, I have strung rope and chain for a long ways, using the bumper hitch to drag the boat up to a “loadabale” point. Before that, I ran a 17′ aluminum canoe. It was more pleasing, but I found I had to skin on the river when the catch is good, because of the weight and maneuverability issues of the canoe, and heavy beaver.”  Dave also offers the following advice on spring beaver sets:  “Beaver interest in castor lure is very high at this time. Generally I select active set locations (feed piles, bank den/lodge combinations, etc.) but I generally set the downstream end of most

A castor based lure is essential for targeting spring beaver.

good sized islands, even without sign. Dispersing 2 and 3 year olds are out looking for other beaver, and the point at the bottom of an island for beaver is like the fire hydrant at the park for dogs.  I almost always make at least two, sometimes 4 sets if I stop. I try to use a

castor based lure on one, and a food based lure (no castor) on the other. For the first two catches, it won’t matter, but I think beaver can get wise to a particular smell.”

An array of castor based lures available from Minnesota Trapline Supplies

Some other points to remember on beaver trapping pertain to equipment.  One way sliding drowner cables should be used whenever possible.  Anything heavy can be used as a weight at the end.  To cut down on carrying weight, bring empty feed sacks and fill them with rocks and gravel at the set site.  Empty feed sacks can be had for cheap at most feed stores.  If you use 330’s, remember that Nebraska law states that body gripping traps with a jaw spread over 8″ must be placed under water.  Also make sure you obtain permission on any private land and water.  In Nebraska, if a river runs through the property, you must obtain permission from the landowner.  You must also have landowner permission to trap under bridges that are in the county road right-of-way. (This can vary by county in Nebraska, check with your local game warden if in doubt).

Once you have caught your beaver, you can skin them yourself or

Putting up beaver requires a different skinning technique and special equipment.

take them to a fur buyer whole.  There are many useful parts on a beaver other than the fur.  The meat,  oil sacks, and castor glands have value to lure makers.  The tails do as well, and the tails can also be skinned and processed like leather.  Many people also eat the meat, saying it is akin to venison.

Last but not least, is the aspect of safety.  Being on a river this time (or any time) of year can be hazardous.  Dave Hastings has the following advice on safety:  “If you are just starting out, you will need to experiment to see how long a line you should put in. Being on a shallow river after dark, when it is cold, is a very dangerous activity (don’t ask how I know, or how many times that lesson was taught…).   Carry “dry bags” for extra clothes, flashlights, and first aid.  Buy a cell phone waterproof kit/bag. (Cabelas, even Walmart.) A wet phone is immediately useless. And bear in mind that you likely will often be out of cell service. Be sure someone knows generally where you are and generally when you should be back.  Don’t kid yourself. You may only be a few miles from a road or farmhouse, but if a catastrophe occurs, you might as well be on the moon. Consider, plan–think through decisions with safety in mind. Bad cuts, hypothermia, injuries, other health issues–all can be deadly.”

Don’t put those traps away just because spring is starting!  We still have some time left.  Get out there and enjoy what we have to offer in Nebraska.

-Mark Hajny, NFH member.  Bob Miers is the NFH Secretary and owner of Sandy’s Fur Buying of Seward, Nebraska.  Dave Hastings is an avid trapper, the editor of the Furtaker, (official magazine of the FTA) and instructs at the Furtaker’s College in the fall. 

 

Spring Trapping Part 1 – The Muskrat

For some trappers, when the winter is winding down and the coon and coyote pelts are starting to show their wear, it means only one thing…beaver and muskrat trapping!

The season on most furbearers in Nebraska comes to an end on February 28th.  For muskrat and beaver, however, the season extends another month to March 31st.  The pelts on these two furbearers remain prime through this time and for many reasons it is a good time to go after them.

If you are a trapper, the muskrat will provide fun for all ages!  Muskrats can be found in marshes, rivers, small creeks and some farm ponds.  Back in my early days (nineteen eighty something…) You could drive by any public waterfowl area and see “muskrat huts”.  These were large piles of sticks and reeds and other vegetation that muskrats used as homes and feeding areas.  I haven’t seen a muskrat hut in several years.  Muskrat numbers have declined in the past years and they can be hard to find.

The equipment used for muskrat trapping is small, lighter weight and relatively less expensive than most traps and equipment.  Size 1 foot holds (coil or long spring) and 110 body grip traps are effective tools against the ‘rat.  Bob Miers of Sandy’s Fur Buying gives the following advice on equipment for muskrat trapping:  “If you use leg holds make sure to use one way drowners and have deep enough water or you will find legs and not rats.  If shallow water, use sureholds, conibear and colony traps work great in places as well.”

The Duke brand guard trap. Also known as “sure-hold” or “stop-loss” by other manufacturers.

To trap them, find where it appears they are entering their dens at the waters edge.  This can be a partially submerged hole that looks used, or get your waders on,  get in the water and feel around with your foot to find the “runs”.  These are channels down in the mud that muskrats use to travel to and from their dens, much like a land animal uses a trail.  A 110 or foot trap placed in the run or mouth of the hole is your best bet.  These runs are also good places for colony traps.

Shane Claeys of Papio Creek Trap Supply manufactures and sells the Magnum Power Clip conversion kit

Magnum Power Clip from Papio Creek Trapping Supplies attached to rod.

which allows you to attach your 110’s to a rod, such as an electric fence post, and allows you to hold steady and adjust the height of your 110.  This is an effective way to cover den holes in the bank.  There is a link to Papio Creek trap supply on our vendor showcase page.

 

Muskrat floats are another fun way to target this furbearer.  This is simply a raft made of wood, floating on the water, with some bait on it and a trap or two.

Muskrat float, sold by Minnesota Trapline Supplies.

For bait, muskrats are especially fond of carrots, apples, and parsnips.  Don’t forget to anchor your trap to the float and employ some method to keep your float from floating away! The designs of floats and methods of use are numerous.  You can buy them pre-made or make your own.  A google search will turn up numerous options on making a muskrat float.

If you skin your own catch, don’t throw away those carcasses.  Muskrats have glands that are used in some lures, and their meat also makes good predator bait.  The carcasses also make good mink bait when used whole or cut in smaller chunks.

Since muskrat numbers are down, it is good advice to not completely trap-out an area.  Leave some of the numbers for “seed”, so you can have some breeding stock for next year.

In part 2, we will talk about beaver and the equipment and methods used.

-Mark Hajny – NFH Member.  Bob Miers is the NFH Treasurer and owner of Sandy’s Fur Buying of Seward, Nebraska.

 

 

Introduction To Trapping Class Set

Eric Stane, president and education coordinator of the Nebraska Fur Harvesters will be hosting an Introduction to Trapping class.

This class will be held at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center (44th and Superior) in Lincoln Nebraska.  The date is Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 from 6pm to 9pm.

Topics discussed will be a basic introduction to equipment, regulations, safety and techniques.

Registration is free and is open to the general public.  To sign up, contact Eric at ericnfh@gmail.com or register at https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/92424

 

 

Highlights From The NFH Business Meeting

The 2016 convention is in the books and a good time was had by all.  Underneath all the vendor booths, tailgaters and demos is always the Nebraska Fur Harvesters general membership meeting.  This is where policy and decisions are made by the organization, and this is open to all NFH members in current standing who desire to be a part of the direction and decision making of our organization.

Usually the biggest item on the agenda is where to hold the convention for the upcoming year.   A couple guys from Sidney were here and made a very compelling case for their city.  It was put to a vote and decided that next year’s convention will be in Sidney, Nebraska, September 22 – 23.  Note:  Someone please get me the names of these two gentlemen so I can update this article to give them proper credit.

In other items of importance, it was decided to send more money to help out Montana in their fight against Initiative 177 which would ban trapping on public ground in that state.

The youth trapping education program was discussed, as well as Gary Macke’s youth program he helps with.

Nebraska Game and Parks Furbearer Biologist Sam Wilson gave his report.  It is looking good for a discounted fur harvest permit for seniors and veterans.  Things are also starting to look good for an Otter season in Nebraska, but it is a long process and the specifics are still being worked out.

The positions of Treasurer and Vice President were up for election this year.  No one contested, so Monty Arnold (VP) and Jason Reynoldson (Treasurer) will retain their offices.

Gary Macke presented the Nebraska Fur Harvesters with a check for $800 from NAFA.

NFH Spring Meeting will be held in Seward Nebraska,  April 30th, noon, at the VFW.

Some new things coming to the website will be online membership signups and some NFH merchandise sales.

If you have any questions, use the Contact Us link at the top of the page or email Eric Stane at ericnfh@gmail.com

Trapper’s Education Class being held

There will be a Trapper’s Education class sponsored by the Nebraska Fur Harvesters.

When:  September 11th, 2016, 9am to 2pm
Where:  Louisville Rod and Gun Club, just south of Springfield, Nebraska (Click this link to see location on google maps)

Classroom, demo sessions, and hands on time.  Lots of raffle prizes!  A free trap will be given to students 18 and under.

We will be having coon, coyote and bobcat demos by local trappers with decades of experience.

Come learn the basics and meet some great people.  Lunch will be provided.

For more information contact Eric Stane at ericnfh@gmail.com or (402) 658-8012.

New Informational Book Available For Download

Thomas Decker from the Vermont Department of Fisheries and Wildlife has approved the release of “Trapping and Furbearer Management In North American Wildlife Conservation” on our website.  This informative 60 page book written by wildlife biologists delves into different furbearers and the best management practices to control them.

You can view or download the book here:  Trap-Fur-Mgmt final-1 2016 version

 

October Trapper Education Seminar a Success!

On October 15th I gave an introduction to trapping class at the Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln. We had 28 attendees that included adults, male and female, and several kids.

Most everyone had done a little trapping but when asked why they were attending most answered that they wanted to learn more about the basics. Some had trapped last year for the first time and some hadn’t trapped for a few years. We had a good mix of ages and experience.

We covered why we trap and the consequences of not trapping even when the market is in a downturn. Regulations were discussed to make everyone aware of the importance of knowing your regulations before heading afield to set traps.

The second part we covered was ethics and making the right decisions when determining when and where to set traps. After that we got into the basic equipment and sets along with what to do after you harvested a fur bearer. We talked about different ways to market your catch and options to achieve that.

It was a great group with lots of questions and answers afterwards. The Game and Parks wants to provide this class a couple of times a year. If you are interested in this type of class please contact the game and parks to let them know and they can schedule more classes in the future.

Thanks,
Eric Stane — Nebraska Fur Harvesters President and Education Coordinator