NFH Sponsors Nebraska State Taxidermy Association Award

The Nebraska Fur Harvesters sponsored the Best Small Mammal award this year at the Nebraska State Taxidermy Association in Columbus, Nebraska.  On hand to represent the NFH and present the award was NFH President Eric Stane.  The winner was Steve Rollen of Colorado with a Lynx.

The NSTA holds an annual convention and competition where taxidermists can enter their works and compete with others.  At conventions you have the opportunity to attend seminars given by experts as a way to help you learn more, as well as admire the work of your peers.  This year’s convention was held June 3rd-5th at the Ramada Inn, Columbus,  Nebraska.

Eric Stane presents award to Steve Rollen.
Eric Stane presents award to Steve Rollen.  Click for full size image.

Member Profile: Mark Hajny

Mark Hajny

Computer Programmer

Clay Center, Nebraska

How did you get started in trapping?
As a kid I remembered hearing my dad talk about he and his brothers catching muskrats in the marshes around where we lived.  My grandpa Tyler was also a big outdoorsman and I loved listening to his stories.  My older brother got some traps and I started following him around, picking up a few rats of my own here and there.  I made a lot of pop and candy bar money with the old Victor #1 long springs.  We started getting Fur, Fish and Game magazine and my parents grew tired of having to pay the UPS man for all the C.O.D. orders that showed up at the door.  As I grew older, sports and other things took over and trapping went by the wayside.  Real life kicked in and it seemed like there wasn’t enough time for anything extracurricular.  Now, within the last few years with the kids grown and out of the house, I find myself with the time and resources to get back in to all the things I used to do.  I guess you can say I am a born-again outdoorsman.

What is your favorite animal to target?
It is hard to pick a favorite since each species is unique and poses its own set of challenges.  I seem to be finding myself always going back to ‘coon trapping.  It just seems there are so many different methods and locations in which to target them.  But if I had to pick a favorite it would be the coyote.  There is something about going nose to nose with the apex predator of our region.  Each one of us trying to outsmart the other.  At the end of the day, you hope they have educated you more than you have educated them.

What do you enjoy most about the sport of trapping?
Trapping is a constant learning experience.  I have become a student of the sport, and of several of the great teachers (June, Dobbins, Barringer, Carman to name a few).  As long as you continue to learn, the challenges of trapping are never ending.  You can construct the textbook perfect dirt hole set and walk away with confidence. When you check the next morning and find a freshly laid scat on your unfired trap pan, you know you still have much to learn.  I enjoy the solitude it provides, the heritage, the nostalgia, and I also like the fact that I have something productive to do outside in the winter time.

What is one of your most memorable trapping moments?
I was following my older brother around checking muskrat traps we had set in a farm pond.  He pulled out his can of Skoal, put in a dip then offered me the can (I was probably 10 at the time).  Thinking I was a trapper and could handle it if he could, I put in a dip.  Not knowing what nicotine was or how it affected you, I suddenly got very dizzy and fell in the pond.  Swallowing most of that chaw in the process.  He never stopped cussing me out as we took off on the three-wheeler heading back home to get dry clothes.

I remember when I caught my first coyote.  Like most people when they catch a first something-or-other, you do a double take and look again to see if it really is what you are seeing.  To this day, when approaching a location in the dark where I have sets, I will stop and listen to see if I can hear that ghostly “jangling chains” sound in the wind.

What would you like to see changed as far as trapping regulations in Nebraska?
We are pretty fortunate here as far as regulations.  Nothing really hinders me in the way I trap.  If anything, it would be nice to use real feathers for bobcat attractors, but I work around it.

What other hobbies do you have?
I have more hobbies than I have time for.  I hunt (deer, turkey, upland game), predator call, shooting (target, trap), fish and make fishing lures.  I have recently gotten into tanning furs and making my own trapping lures and baits.

Anything else you want the Nebraska Fur Harvesters members to know about you?
I am always willing to help and answer questions about trapping or anything I am passionate about.  I remember some of the older generation trappers who would clam up when you asked them anything.  I don’t want to be “that guy”.