Demonstrators:

Laura & Zac Gidney NY: Bobcat

Laura is the current Treasurer for Fur Takers of America, a Master Trapping Instructor for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the first woman in the state of New York to win the Wayne Jones Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is also the Secretary for the Orange County Trappers Association.

Zac is a Junior Trapping Instructor for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

They both belong to several State and National Trapping Associations.

Laura and her husband John grew up loving the outdoors and have instilled that love in their children Maggie, Johnny, and Zac. Today, they all have a shared love and respect for nature and the outdoors. They ironically just happened to stumble across trapping when they went to an outdoor show in 2012 when Zac was 5 years old. The local trappers club had a booth and called them over to give their kids a safety whistle and a rabbit’s foot keychain. After an interesting trapping conversation, the Gidney’s decided to sign up for the trapper education class they were holding in a few weeks. Later that year when the season came around, they started trapping as a family but more recently, due to work obligations, Laura and Zac run the trapline together.

Laura and Zac teach a couple of trapper education classes each year, set up educational booths at outdoor shows, have given trapping and fur handling demos for the Boy Scouts,  local gun clubs & trapping conventions, and have given the trapper education class at the NYSDEC Summer Camps. They continue to keep relationships with their former students where they send photos, ask questions, and even come to their fur shed for help with fur handling.

The Gidney’s live in Orange County, NY, about an hour slightly northwest of New York City. In a 10-minute drive, they can also be in New Jersey which allows them to trap both states. They run what most would consider a small, multi-species trapline, with 23 total private properties ranging from 1 to 50 acres each. Their trapline is a mix of suburban neighborhoods and farms. They drive a 60-mile loop to those properties around their home.

In their first season, they managed to catch a handful of mostly foxes and raccoons, and in each year since, they’ve tried to grow and improve. They have always trapped a little bit of everything with fox and bobcats being their favorites. With no family history of trappers and not anyone nearby having the time to go out and help them, they decided in 2015 to start attending some of the trapping schools. With a few years of trapping experience on their own and the added knowledge from the schools, in 2021, their 10th season of trapping, they broke 100 canines and 50 beavers for the first time. In 2023, their land season total on canines was 244 with 117 raccoons, 22 bobcats, and 33 skunks.

Laura and Zac are looking forward to what they can accomplish together in the years to come. They also enjoy sharing their experiences and knowledge with anyone wanting to learn more about trapping, about the necessity for trapping as a wildlife management tool; or those wanting to start trapping themselves or improve their skills.

Demonstrator:

Jeff Dunlap MI (LP): Predator

Jeff is the owner of Dunlap Lures from Alpena Michigan.  He has been involved in trapping since he was a young boy – chasing after his dad Gary on the line.  Growing up in a trapping family he learned the trade well.  He loves to state-hop and goes where the fur is – and where money can be made.  He has trapped Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Upper and Lower Michigan, and in the 2018-2019 season he trapped in Alaska for 3 months chasing primarily lynx, pine marten, and red fox. He traps full time for much of the year and has made some outstanding catches.  Here are a few examples from past years: In the 2011-2012 season he caught 1105 rats, 495 coon, 76 otter, 326 beaver, 25 grey fox, 21 bobcats, 3 red fox, and 18 mink.  In the following year he caught 53 otter, 703 raccoons, 97 grey fox, 5 red fox, 54 coyotes, 404 muskrats, 32 bobcats, 18 mink, and 243 beaver.  In the 2013-2014 season he concentrated on bobcats, grey fox, and coyotes for a portion of the season, catching bobcats in three different states on a three-month multi-state trip.  The remainder of the season was spent in his home state of Michigan trapping mink and muskrats. During the few months when he isn’t trapping, he concentrates on Dunlap Lures, traveling the country to various trapping conventions – selling his proven and personally tested lures and baits and other trapping products and doing demos at many of those conventions.  And of course he uses some of his “extra time” to get ready for the next grueling season. Jeff also appears on the F&T Freedom Outdoors TV Program on the Pursuit Channel and has been a regular guest on Clint Locklear’s Trapping Radio Program.  In addition, he is now operating “Trapping Talk” on Facebook to promote trapping. And yes he has also produced at least nine instructional DVD’s!

Demonstrator:

Jeff Hagerty MI (LP): Muskrats

Jeff Hagerty is the owner of J3 Outdoorz and Inventor of HAGz Trapping Products. He grew up hunting and fishing as far back as he can remember. Always an outdoorsman, he was never introduced to trapping nor got excited about it until after he returned from the Marine Corps in the late 90’s.

He started noticing more coyote tracks than deer tracks on late season hunts. In 2002 he tried his hand at trapping coyotes and after 2 seasons caught his first coyote.  In that same time period he tallied up numerous mink, muskrats and raccoons – it soon became clear that he was hooked on trapping!

A few seasons later he was already breaking 50 Michigan coyotes a season and now generally averages around 75 coyotes a year while working a full-time job, running their trapping business, and doing as much state hopping as he can.

In 2012 he began proto-typing a device that would allow the use of 3/8” rods and a “set anywhere mentality.” The same bracket also incorporated a stake swivel and drowner lock for various water line sets. One major hurdle was this bracket needed to stay attached to prevent looking around for miscellaneous devices on the line, increasing efficiency. That prototype is now their patented HAGz® Bracket.

Soon after he invented and was issued patents for the HAGz® Spring Clip and Spring Clip XL for body-grip trap stabilization on rods. Since then he has developed several other products and continues to proto-type new trapping products to this day. He has utilized his engineering and technical skillsets to develop American made products in an industry he is extremely passionate about. It has been said countless times that the HAGz Brackets and Spring Clips have revolutionized water trapping – and Jeff is happy to provide quality, American made products benefitting trappers. Jeff not only supports trappers and trapping by inventing simple, effective tools trappers can use but also believes that he (and all trappers) should belong to their local and national associations. Jeff is a proud member of both the Michigan Trapper and Predator Callers Association and is now a Lifetime member of the National Trappers Association.

Jeff has trapped 11 different states so far. Although he enjoys his local muskrat or coyote lines in Southern Michigan, he really loves the adventure of a remote, wilderness line for a change of pace. Some of my favorite traplines have been Fox trapping on Kodiak Island AK; High Elevation Bobcat Trapping in NM; beaver, otter and marten trapping in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan;  Predator trapping in the mountains of NV and UT or large plantation tracts in GA.

In his spare time, he is either furthering the development of even more useful, time saving trapping products or traveling to various trapping conventions throughout the off season.

Not that Jeff isn’t busy enough as it is, he and his wife Jessica started Trapline Coffee Co. – The Official Coffee of the NTA – and they pride themselves on supporting fair and ethical trade practices abroad, providing great small batch coffee — and giving back to the trapping community — through portions of product sales & change roll-up and donation programs.

Demonstrator:

Sarah Gomez MI (LP): Beaver from trap to dinner plate

Sarah Gomez is an accomplished trapper from Iowa.  Her earliest memory of trapping was going with a family friend to check raccoon snares, at the age of 5.  Though not a morning person, she quickly bounced out of bed, whenever trapping was involved! She quickly learned what a coon trail looked like and this young girl was even spotting coon trails as they traveled between the various farms.  The seed was planted and soon she was dreaming about catching raccoons on her own and began reaching out to every trapper she knew to gain more knowledge – and most were more than gracious with their knowledge. It wasn’t long before she was headed to a trapping store to buy a dozen DP’s and some name tags!

And in her first year of trapping Sarah hit the ground RUNNING. Within the first couple of nights she already had 8 raccoons. At that moment she was definitely hooked and went back to the trapping store and bought 2 dozen more traps and continued buying traps until she had 5 dozen DP’s.  Soon all her traps were set and she was catching piles of raccoons. Then she started buying freezers and had to add more electricity to her storage building to keep them all running!  But she never counted the raccoons; her goal was just to keep filling the freezers!  When the first season was over, she was just shy of 200 raccoons.  With a full-time job as the Executive Director of a four-county economic development organization, you might say she was a little busy?  Her cherished trapping friends helped her survive that first grueling season. One friend came down to her shop and taught her how to flesh and stretch raccoons.  And a year or so later this same friend helped her skin her first coyote.  Allen Sayre at Funke Trap Tags lives near her and spent hours talking to her about trapping and helping her find the right equipment needed to get started and he also connected her to the Iowa Trappers Association.  For her, those are all special memories and she’s grateful for the people who took the time to help this 30-year-old uncertain, new trapper – wondering  what to do, how to do it, where to place the trap, how to connect the trap, and what to do with the fur when she caught an animal?  The help she received is what now drives her to help others – to be that special person giving someone the confidence and encouragement needed to become a trapper!

After Sarah’s successful first season she continued to focus on filling freezers with raccoons and leveled off at around 200 coons per season. After a few years of just catching raccoons, she was eager to catch more fur, so she attended a coyote trapping school and learned the basics. She started the next season with some coyote traps and was soon walking up to her first coyote!  She was so excited, she could hardly talk! That overwhelming and confusing feeling of not knowing how to catch a coyote quickly evaporated along with almost all of her remaining doubts.  So, she confidently started setting traps for bobcat, red fox, beaver, otter, muskrats, and weasels – she now truly believed she could catch anything she set her mind to. And being able to catch raccoons, beaver, and coyotes led to some great relationships with Iowa farmers and to those treasured permissions on prime properties – another necessary tool for being a successful trapper.

Sarah enjoys the challenge of pursuing each species she goes after – in fact she says her favorite animal to pursue – is whatever one she is trapping at that time!  She usually starts the season setting heavily for coyotes, and then the DP’s come next.  Early winter finds Sarah having fun making bobcat cubbies and getting creative with lights, feathers and squeakers trying to catch the eyes and ears of a few big Tomcats.  And when it turns cold and the snow is deep she enjoys some laid-back weasel trapping. And after a long winter, she looks forward to spring water trapping, especially setting for those traveling beaver.

When asked if she trapped alone or with a partner she said, “Let me tell you about my Uncle Tom! He is always up for an adventure and has been along for the ride since the very beginning!  Every time we go out, we know it will be unpredictable and something will always happen. We’ve been stuck in the mud and snow, we’ve been sprayed by skunks, we’ve been in some sketchy areas, we’ve taken calls to help people out who have had raccoons or skunks and ask ourselves ‘what did we get into this time.’ We have fallen in the mud and have slid down steep ravines. We have learned from A LOT of mistakes. But the quality time that we have spent together in the woods – I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world.”

Sarah has accomplished much in her few short years of trapping and she feels a strong bond with all trappers – but especially with young girls and women. Her passion and excitement is contagious and she loves to talk to beginning trappers and hopes to plant the same seed that sprouted in that five-year-old Iowa girl many years ago. She has now trapped in Iowa, Northern Michigan, and Louisiana and will probably prove herself in other states. Sarah also attends 14-15 conventions throughout the year and does demos (at most) to help new trappers and always has time to encourage others. In 2019, Sarah started SheTraps and Sarah’s Trapline Lures and has the selfless goal of making a good product that ANY trapper would feel confident in using.  And would you believe that Sarah enjoys skinning, scraping, and stretching her catches as much she loves catching fur?