Tag Archives: members

Member Profile: Steve Zagozda Jr.

Name
Steve Zagozda Jr

Occupation
Field Manager

Hometown
Ralston, Nebraska

How did you get started in trapping?
My son (Eli) heard my dad and uncle talking about snaring rabbits with copper wire when they were young. I remember being a young boy and overhearing them tell the same stories. Similar to when a fisherman tells the story of the huge fish he had caught. I understand this well, because I tell these stories. These are not considered lies, but just slight stretches of the truth. Oh, and don’t get me started on how they caught “millions of them”.

I thought the idea of putting a wire loop in some random spot to get an animal to put it’s neck through it was the biggest game of chance and my time would be better spent fishing in a swimming pool. Eli was not going to forget the concept of this fishing story. So reluctantly I went and bought some copper wire and did some research on rabbit snaring.

We made some rabbit snares and set about a dozen of them. We didn’t get any that first night but we did see some snares pushed aside. The next day we snared two and I was more shocked than Eli was! That got my curiosity going. We went out and bought our first dozen snares.

The next morning I went to check the snares in the dark and as I was walking up on one of the snares I saw some glowing eyes looking back at me. I think I was kind of scared because I couldn’t see what it was and didn’t expect it to be in our snare. It finally hit me that we had trapped an animal. I got close enough to see that fat boar coon and sat and stared at it for a few minutes with this feeling of amazement.

At that moment I became a trapper.

What is your favorite animal to target?
My favorite animal to target is mink. This solitary little predator amazes me with its tenacity, range, and ability to take on prey bigger than itself.

What do you enjoy most about the sport of trapping?
The biggest reason that I enjoy trapping is because I love to be outside in nature. Also, you must consistently be tracking the animals to determine where they are, what they are doing and where they are going. Its like playing a chess match with the animals. And because I get to learn, teach and experience this American heritage with my four boys.

What is one of your most memorable trapping moments?
I will only mention one other than my first animal. Me and 3 of the boys went to check dog proofs along the river. We came through the brush and boom we had a triple right there. We were all so excited giving each other high fives, asking “did you see that one, what about that one”. It was a trapping moment with my kids that I will never forget. They will be telling their kids that “fish” story some day.

What would you like to see changed as far as trapping regulations in Nebraska?
Some people might not feel the same way about this, but I would like to see a 48 hour trap check for dry land.

What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy catching big catfish. Hunting is another great “love” of mine –  turkey, pheasant, duck and deer hunting. Bee keeping, vegetable and flower gardening are things I enjoy as well. You can say I really enjoy being in the outdoors as much as possible.

Member Profile: Dave Hastings

Name
Dave Hastings

Occupation
Secondary Teacher (retired!)/Trapping magazines editor

Hometown
Ord, NE

How did you get started in trapping?
Found some #1 longsprings in our old garage…just knew I could be like Jim Bridger. Caught a muskrat and a mink in 1963. Saw the mink go into a hole. Put a 110 over it, and went back daily, amazed that I didn’t catch him; until finally I did. Was pretty much ruined from then on.

What is your favorite animal to target?
I admire coyotes the most, but my favorite to trap is bobcats. They are always like an exotic trophy to me, and I get pretty pumped each catch.

What do you enjoy most about the sport of trapping?
Kinda like “who is your favorite child?” I like it all! The income has helped put the kids through college, bought my daughter’s first car, paid a lot of bills.
I totally enjoy matching wits with a wised up coyote or a spooked beaver.
I can’t explain how productive I feel at the end of season when I am putting my fur together to ship.
I just get overwhelmed sometimes by how amazing Mother Nature’s scenery and hijinks are…sort of stop and stare, mouth open, silent. I spend a lot of time being spiritual in my “church”…the outside one.
And one more surprise to me: I always feel a little bit out of place, especially in locations like big airports; but at a trapper get-together, I am at home. And I find trappers the same in Alaska or New Mexico; New York or Mississippi.

What is one of your most memorable trapping moments?
Again, there have been hundreds. Tried trapping coyotes for several years. Watched a demo by Tom Dearmont at a Doniphan NFH convention—5 weeks later on the first check of the season, I had a triple. I thought I was the coyote king. Then I discovered how much I still had to learn. I am a long ways from finishing my coyote education.
I have trapping photos of times when friends and family came trapping and those are all very special to me. My son ran a coon line when in Junior high and that was cool. Both kids have been on the trapline many times, and have called coyotes with me.
I have a young fella that I kinda taught to trap, and watching him become very proficient coyote and cat trapper is rewarding!

What would you like to see changed as far as trapping regulations in Nebraska?
I have several on my wish list. I hope to one day catch and keep a Nebraska lion. There are quite a few small “tweaks” I would change, if I had a genie in a bottle. For example, lots of states (including highly populated ones like Illinois) allow 330s to be part way out of the water.
I would like to be able to use real feathers for cat flags.
The NGPC has made some good improvements in the last few years, like being able to keep fur after season without those troublesome forms, and increased trapping opportunity on public properties that were once off limits. I have been involved with states where the DNR and the trappers were really at war with one another; glad that is not the case here.

What other hobbies do you have?
I take some heat because I don’t do all the stuff I used to. I was into bow hunting, bird hunting, fishing, backpacking, bullfroging, big game, small game…you name it; if it was outdoors, I was into it for a while. As the years pass, I spend less and less time on them all, and more and more on my trapping.
I really like writing, and even though I do some professionally, it still seems like a hobby to me. I guess that is the sign of a job you can stick with.

Anything else you want the Nebraska Fur Harvesters members to know about you?
Yes, there is. The first half or so of my trapping career I didn’t get involved with the social issues of trapping, either within the associations, or with government/society as a whole. Gradually I am farther and farther down that path. I have traveled the country over to meetings on things like the BMPs (I have seen a lot of exotic Holiday Inn meeting rooms…) Today, a day does not go by where I am not somehow, in some way, engaged in both association business, or in working to defeat the anti-trap movement’s efforts to end our way of life.
What strikes me most about this is how bad I was not to get involved earlier. I had my head in the sand. And that is not unusual. Nationally, fewer than 10% of the people who buy a trapping license so much as join their state association; even less a national one. Those who do are spending huge amounts of time and money to see that we will be trapping next year, and the next. The other 95% won’t chip in to pay dues. They go to convention, watch the demos, get their supplies, but don’t support the group that makes the convention possible. I am always amazed by guys who say that it costs too much to join all the groups and make contributions of time and money. I am always stopped short: what exactly is it worth to you to keep trapping? To have your grandson trap?
A few guys (the notoriously grumpy) find some kind of beef with associations—wrong location for convention, didn’t have my favorite guy do demos, “I just don’t like the president…” whatever. So when Obama was elected, these guys didn’t move to Mexico, did they?
The battle is expensive and exhausting. If more people would pitch in, both of those costs would be reduced dramatically. I’ll say one thing for animal rights activists: they put their money where their mouth is.