Predators & Prey
The aroma of the heavy frost filled my nostrils as I jogged against the pasture. Enthusiasm powered each step as my eyes scanned the fence line. Then with a sudden movement inside the weeds, excitement propelled my speed. Instantly I knew something had fallen prey to the snare.
In minutes I had dispatched the red fox and was hurrying homeward. There was no time wasted changing boots and pulling on coveralls. The school bus would not wait and, like most mornings, the connection was a close one. The scent of the fox aided me in obtaining a seat on the bus and comments from my classmates. The thought of money I had made lessened the desire for friendships and all was well.
The ride home in the afternoon was one filled with anticipation. Chores were quickly done and my traps were again checked before dark. In the light of the Coleman lantern, hides were removed from the daily catch. In minutes the skins received a quick fleshing and were ready for a stretching board. Now all I had to do was wait for the day of the fur auction to collect the checks. Yes, for me those were the glory days.
This year is looking pretty good for the raw fur market. Landowners can find themselves making some extra cash with only a minimum of time and expense. The key is to simply allot a little time each day to inspect the trap or snare. In most cases this can be implemented with the daily farm routine.
Most landowners, especially those working livestock, have a daily routine for inspecting their property. In most cases these inspections are conducted while driving. If a couple of traps or snares were placed property, as we have discussed in past issues, you could pay for the fuel you are using. Plus the odds are you would be removing an unwanted critter from your property.
The price you receive for a pelt will depend on a few things. Naturally the type of fur is the main factor. Otter pelts are among the most profitable as they can value from well over $100 to several hundred dollars.
Bobcats, foxes, raccoons and muskrats can also add up to a hefty check. Southern coyotes can average around $20, as well as gray fox. The point is fur is money and why let money slip through your fingers.
Furs which are handled properly increase in value. Proper fur handling begins the minute the animal is dispatched. The animal’s fur should be cleaned of any dirt, blood and other debris. Skinning should be conducted in case fashion, which is cutting from the right back foot straight to the left foot. Then peel the skin from the animal to the end of its nose. The skin can then be fleshed and placed on a stretching board or rolled into a ball and stored in a deep freezer until sale. Stretched skins generally bring more money but do require more time than freezing.
Landowners who do not want to take the time can still profit by leasing their property to a trapper. I have worked many deals where I shared part of my profit with the landowner. Trappers know the key to profits is obtaining as much territory as they can to increase the number of catches.
Landowners seeking to remove pesky critters should place a notice in the local news paper. Trappers can do the same to increase their territory. So why not take advantage of the price in fur and cash in while you can. This could be the year you feel the fun of the glory days.
Bill Bynum has written extensive articles and has published a book, Predator Hunting, on the subject, and he is editor of Predator and Prey magazine.