U.P. Trappers Convention & Outdoor Expo
July 15-16, 2022
60th U.P. Trappers Convention and Outdoor Expo
July 15 – 16, 2022 | Escanaba Michigan
Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds
The 2022 U.P. Trappers Convention will host two or more large buildings full of INSIDE vendors. Outside, there will be even more vendors! Many well-known trapping supply dealers from across the country will be at the convention. Many of these top-notch vendors will be offering special “Convention Pricing”. This will be your chance to stock up on needed supplies without having to pay shipping and handling, and picking up a trick or two from these trapping greats is totally FREE!
NOT JUST FOR TRAPPERS
There most likely will be vendors with canoes, snowshoes, predator calling supplies, outdoor clothing, waders, crafts, antiques, quilts, jewelry, etc. Items of interest for not only trappers but for their children, their spouses, and friends. Stuff of interest to trappers and non-trappers alike — especially for other outdoors-men and outdoors-women!
U.P. Trappers Convention Overview
Friday July 15 & Saturday July 16, 2022
Open from 8 AM — 5 PM Friday
Open from 8 AM — 4 PM Saturday
The biggest trapping & outdoor show in the Upper Peninsula (and one of the biggest regional conventions in the country) is coming to Escanaba, Michigan! To be held at the beautiful and spacious U.P. Fairgrounds located in a small friendly town. A chance to meet and chat with some of your trapping heroes; many legendary trappers from around the U.S. will be selling their wares, giving demos, or just enjoying the show! There will be something for everyone in the family to enjoy! Many activities for the kids. We highly encourage you to bring the whole family! Some trappers and outdoor enthusiasts have never seen this much equipment, “must-have” inventions and gear all in one place!
Like last year there will be another Friday night Fish Fry/Fundraiser Banquet catered by Soderman’s Catering — some say they are among the best in the entire U.P. — and the fish were caught right here in the great Upper Peninsula and donated by local trappers for your enjoyment. Raffles, drawings, lots of awesome prizes, delicious fish with all the “fixings”, great conversation — does it get any better than that? Limited tickets available! Contact Roy Dahlgren ASAP at (906) 399-1960 for ticket information.
FOR THE KIDS
Today’s youth are the future of all the outdoor activities we love and enjoy, so we are planning many activities for the youngsters.
DNR Pocket Park
The DNR Pocket Park offers kids the opportunity to try their luck at fishing, go for a bullseye at one of the shooting ranges (archery & pellet guns), or just sit a spell under a shady tree or by a waterfall.
There will be great trapping demos throughout both days of the convention! Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the sport who is eager to obtain the knowledge, supplies and confidence to get that first season under your belt, you can bet that we will have something for everyone. While wandering around the fairgrounds chat with some of the biggest names in trapping. Many famous trappers from all over the nation attend these conventions! You never know who you might “bump elbows with” at this Regional Convention!
Check out this year’s great demonstrators (and their bios) by scrolling down the page — and then determine if you can afford to NOT attend this year’s convention!!!
MARK JUNE is our HEADLINER for the 2022 Convention and everyone knows how many bobcats and coyotes this “one-percenter” can rack up. If you have never attended one of Mark’s Demos you are in for a REAL treat! Clear, concise instruction and often some “belly laugh” humor — it’s all there for your enjoyment!
Growing up on an inland lake in Michigan, Mark June began his trapping career as a young boy catching muskrats, mink, beaver, and raccoons out of a canoe before school. He later attended college to become a biologist, a degree paid for with mink and red fox hides that Mark trapped during the robust fur markets of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Mark was well known in Michigan as a young man who laid a load of well-handled pelts on the tables at Michigan Trapper’s Association fur auctions, pelts trapped during a period of intense trapping pressure and competition.
Mark started trapping in Nebraska in the 1990’s and ultimately moved to that state in 2004. He has trapped eighteen states during his trapping career, and now resides and typically traps in Texas for coyotes, bobcats, and the occasional mountain lion. He is known as a hard-working, humble, yet confident trapper who enjoys teaching others how to trap predators in their area. Mark’s experience in coyote research projects dates back forty years and that expertise helps him answer many questions that trappers typically have about coyotes or predators.
Today, Mark routinely fur traps in Nebraska for coyotes and bobcats in November and December and he traps high fence ranches in Texas and other states from January through whitetail fawn drop in late June/early July, plus he likes to lend a hand on coyote research projects as often as time allows.
Mark June’s Lures, a company he started in 1984, is today one of this country’s largest suppliers of lures, baits, urines, and DVDs. Mark’s products are sold at leading retailers such as Cabela’s and Sportsmen’s Warehouse, and they are sold internationally in places like Australia where dingo dogs fall victim to Fox Frenzy and other Mark June’s Lures products.
We are excited to have Mark June in our NTA demo lineup, as he is always a crowd pleaser, sharing “why” predators do what they do in addition to showing methods that help you catch more coyotes and bobcats.
Finally, if there’s room available in his Pro Predator Trapping Academy, taught each year during late March, make a point to talk to Mark about this premier training program held in Kansas, designed to produce Top 1%’ers in predator control.
Professional State Hopper!:
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!
Alaskan Trapper, Hunter, Fisherman – “Yoosta be a Yooper”:
At age 8 Al Dubord obtained his first #1 Victor long spring trap and caught trapping “fever.” The farmer next door noticed his skills and gave him a 1 ½ Victor long spring trap and asked him if he would trap the woodchucks out of his field. Al didn’t know it then but he became and ADC trapper by default. After helping his neighbors with woodchucks and skunks he moved on to muskrats. Then one of Al’s grade school teachers took him along to check beaver traps. After that Al was off and running, trapping beaver on his own. At age twelve he started working on his uncle’s dairy farm and this really limited his trapping time. The farm work was endless. It started in late spring and didn’t end till there was snow on the ground. So through his teenage years Al was pretty much limited to late fall muskrat trapping with a fox or two thrown in for good measure – and spring beaver trapping when it was too wet to get in the fields or for working in the woods.
Then in April 1978 Al packed up his guns, traps, tools and his new wife and moved to Alaska. He didn’t know anyone nor did he have a job lined up. He started working first as a mechanic and then a truck driver. Al finally landed a job more in line with his desired life style: He now had a seasonal job at a remote fly-in fishing and hunting lodge and while working there he got his assistant hunting guide license and was enjoying his dream of seeing the beauty of Alaska from the air, on the water and out in the Alaskan bush country. In November of 1979 he moved to Fairbanks for steady employment. This is where he met many other trappers, joined the Alaska Trappers Association, and learned all he could from his new-found friends. Al has been a member of the ATA ever since. Later he became a large part of that organization but for now it was “all about learning how to trap in Alaska.”
The spring of 1980 found him on the move again back to the Alaskan bush in the western part of the state. He was 180 miles from the nearest road and 60 air miles from the nearest village. His trapping now started in a big way. Marten was the main fur animal. His first wolf and wolverine were caught on his birthday later that year! In Al’s best year in western Alaska he caught approximately 50 marten and numerous fox, lynx, wolf, and wolverine; all made their way to his stretchers. This impressive catch was made while still working a full time job! Four years later found him back in Anchorage so his son could attend school. It wasn’t long before Al (along with two other men and a woman) became involved in starting the South Central Chapter of the Alaska Trappers Association. Soon he found himself as “Chairman” of this new organization. Then the SCC-ATA took over of the famous Anchorage Fur Rondy Fur Auction to make sure it was once again only selling local fur caught by Alaskan trappers. To this day it remains the premier fur sale in Alaska.
Al’s new job took him all over Alaska and he was passing up way too much fur; he just had to set some traps! So he took traps and snares with and set up some of these new areas after work. Al hauled his fur back to Anchorage in airplanes and the company truck – and did his skinning in the company generator room. One time when he arrived back at the office in Anchorage with several frozen coyotes and fox wrapped in a tarp he was almost “busted.” Several co-workers were in the parking lot and Al didn’t want them see his catch, so he parked so they couldn’t see in the truck and walked over to them, keeping them away from the truck. Then later, when they went into the building, he made the transfer to his personal truck and quickly left for home.
After trapping in many different areas and gaining lots of experience in various terrains, Al has now been trapping in the same remote area for 22 years, putting over 20,000 miles on his primary trap line snowmobile! He has now been trapping in Alaska for over 40 years and is there to stay!
Mike “Red” O’Hearn
My name is Michael Patrick O’Hearn, most folks in the trapping game just call me Red. Like most of you I started trapping at an early age. Alas, sitting here reflecting on my beginnings, it goes back farther than I had previously thought. All during the late 50’s and the 60’s I had a steady diet of cartoons. Bugs Bunny, the Coyote & Road Runner plus all the others from that time frame. My concept of a trap or snare was derived from these early encounters of cartoon trapping. So armed with this somewhat sketchy information I headed for the overgrown pasture behind our house in town with a hunk of clothesline with a loop with slip knot and a piece of salami. I tied the line off to a convenient sapling, opened the loop on the ground and gently laid my salami bait in the loop. I went back to the house with great anticipation.
Well you all can guess the rest of the story. I didn’t catch anything. And some animal or bird ate my salami. Unfortunately, most people think of trapping in those same terms.
I did finally manage to get 4 or 5 traps and some help from someone who knew a bit more than me. I did catch a possum and 2 muskrats the first year I trapped in 5th grade. I was bitten by the trapping bug. A hobby gone awry so to speak. Anyway my life began to revolve around trapping. I learned as I grew. I have had many, many teachers. But for me, I got to a point of being proficient at capturing all the local species of animals. The problem was I was stuck. I knew so much that I was closed minded. This is a symptom of thinking you know it all. Finally when I got to my early 30’s I finally met a group of people who really helped me. It wasn’t that the help was unavailable before. I wasn’t ready for it.
There is a saying I have recently become aware of that fits this situation perfectly. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Since I started learning again I have been fortunate enough that I haven’t had a regular, punch the time clock job, since 1983. I’ve run lines in 9 states. I had some very good catches of coons, mink, rats, beaver, otters, cats and coyotes. I still get a kick out of catching an animal in a set I have constructed specifically for that animal even if it is a skunk set.
“Strictly Seasonal” is my motto. Every season I do something different. When it is trapping season, that’s my favorite pursuit. By changing species of animals, trapping season can be stretched 8 or 9 months. Be humble, learn all you can about your craft and pass it on.
Trapping Supply Dealer, Lure Maker, Trapper:
Ed Schneider grew up near Quincy in West Central Illinois. He began muskrat trapping in 1970 at the age of eight and soon branched out to trapping raccoons as well. Ed primarily trapped raccoons until the fur crash.
Moving to Virginia for work, he became more interested in trapping canines. He started trapping red and grey fox in the peanut and pine areas. Then moving back to the Midwest he was fortunate enough to get private instruction from Richard Thurman and Craig O’Gorman where he learned to focus more on land sets and became addicted to trying to outsmart the wily coyote!
It was always a dream of Ed’s to run a long trap line. In the 2017 season he teamed up with Dick Dickerhoof and Richard Johnson to catch over 400 coyotes and numerous skunks, badgers, and raccoons along the way – in Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota. This was mostly on “cold ground”, meaning that they had to find locations, locate sign, and start from scratch. A catch of this size in unproven, un-scouted areas shows Ed’s exceptional skills as both a trapper and lure maker.
Ed has had good success as both a raccoon and coyote trapper. A couple of his best years were catching 843 raccoons on the Missouri River in 2007 and catching 650 coyotes in 2018.
He has trapped in eight different states, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, and Wyoming and currently belongs to 18 state trapping organizations and donates to various other groups.
In 2015 he teamed up with Joe Stanbro in Oklahoma to develop lures under the Stanbro label. Between Stanbro’s extensive testing and formulations and Ed’s own lure ingredients, they came up with lures that nailed down furbearer after furbearer and proved deadly in the hands of an experienced trapper. Ed won’t manufacture a product that doesn’t work for him. You can count on Ed using the very same lures that he sells on his own Trapline.
Ed is the owner of Kansas Trapline Products in Auburn Kansas. Despite his very busy schedule, Ed finds time to share his knowledge in public forums. In addition to trapping and running his business, he gives Private Instruction to students all across America on their own Trap lines each year. Ed is always interested in hearing from his customers and hearing their success stories. He invites his customers to email him with any questions they may have.
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?
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 the National Trappers Association.
When not trapping Southern Michigan, Jeff enjoys trapping in other states such as high elevation (10k’ +) bobcat trapping in New Mexico; beaver, otter and marten trapping in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan; fox trapping on Kodiak Island and most recently chasing beaver, otter and coyote in Arkansas with well-known trappers – Jeff Dunlap, Clint Locklear and Chip Davis.
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.
A neighbor got Bob into trapping when he was in his early 20’s and they were targeting beaver. There was only a two-week spring season and a limit of eight. Trappers had to pay a dollar to get each pelt sealed by the DNR. Competition for beaver was fierce! Now there is no limit, beaver are plentiful, and the season runs from October 25 to April 30.
Bob has continued to make beaver his primary target and has learned a few things about beaver trapping in the last 50 years. Bob says beaver are easy to catch unless you do something to spook them and then they can be as hard to catch as a super-wary coyote. He says the most important “secret” for making large catches of beaver is to study their habits to the point where the animals themselves are telling you how many traps to use and where to place your sets. This combined with the general trapping basics of preseason scouting; preseason preparation; good, well-maintained equipment; and lots of hard work will make you a successful beaver trapper. Bob also reminds beginning beaver trappers that spring, fall, and winter beaver trapping all require different methods, since beaver operate differently under various conditions. Bob believes that if you take the time to “get into the heads of beaver” the deep, dark secrets for catching them will almost jump out at you and you will know (instinctively) where to place your traps.
Bob encourages beginners to scout beaver ponds after they have started working on their winter food cache and encourages them to write down and map out everything they see. First you must know that beaver are actually living there: fresh mud or sticks on the lodge, fresh mud on the dam, and a large (and growing food cache) tells the story. Find out where the beaver are going almost every night and figure out why they are traveling to those areas. If possible find the lodge or den, all the dam crossovers, any well-used feed beds, feeding dens, the main feeding area, well-used travel routes, and try to determine if they are getting their food from the main pond or if they have auxiliary dams above or below the main pond to access additional food, etc., etc. Then analyze your findings and the rest is easy. Fresh mud along the entire dam? They’re cruising along the back side of the dam every night checking for leaks! A slicked up cross-over? They are crossing over the dam often and at this particular spot! One main channel going to where hundreds of trees have been cut by beavers? You have found the “goldmine” that is; a place for 5, 6, or 8 conibears in a row and a place where even beginners could expect a half-dozen beaver on the first check!
Besides pond trapping in the fall Bob’s loves the challenge of trapping traveling beaver in the spring as soon as the creeks begin to open up. Bob’s favorite expression about spring beaver trapping is, “Spring beaver are easy to catch but catching beaver in the spring is NOT easy!” When beaver emerge after spending the winter under the ice everything is new so they aren’t spooked by moved sticks or small changes in their environment; when targeting travelers you are not invading their “home, “so that instinctive leeriness is gone; they are super hungry; they are out spraying castor all over to redefine their erased territories – so they are less afraid, they come readily to bait, and they come charging into the smell of strange castor – they almost catch themselves! That is, except for the “spring trapping is NOT easy part”: nearly impassible roads, deep snow, ice, unbelievably fluctuating water levels, rain, cold, ice jams, creeks that look like lakes, and the list goes on! Bob says “getting into the heads of spring beaver” in the spring is easier as their needs are immediate and more obvious. The basic science here is that large numbers of beaver are traveling up or down almost all small creeks, large rivers, and through lakes that have inlets and outlets, looking for a place to establish a new colony. They are angry, hungry, and looking for a fight. All you have to do is stop them with lures, baits, mud, peeled sticks or whatever else might catch their noses or eyes – then you have to hold them with large, strong foot-hold traps, a sure-fire drowning system, and with well-placed conibears in the runs and small streams.
In his 50+ years of trapping, Bob has trapped well over sixty beaver in short periods of open water in the spring – during many seasons while working alone. And with the help of his grandson he had a record season of 74 beaver in a few short weeks under some very unhelpful Upper Peninsula weather conditions. When trapping in both spring and fall Bob has racked up a half-dozen or so seasons with over 100 beaver. Some interesting catches involve 5 for 5 at one stop in the spring using foot-holds, 5 beaver out of six traps placed 10 or 20 feet apart in a single run, 5 traps placed in a fall pond with a 100% catch – five beaver and a muskrat, and a record 22 beaver in a-single day-check (twice!).
Bob loves helping beginning trappers learn to take large numbers of beaver and is willing to share all he has learned in 50 years. Even his recipes for his famous castor and cinnamon based beaver lures are given freely. He has taken many beginners out on his trap lines, he is a certified Trappers Ed Instructor, and has shared many of his time saving, efficient methods with other trappers over the years.
Although “bashful Bob” is terrified of getting up in front of crowds, you often seem him getting way out of his comfort zone to share knowledge or get fellow trapper to realize the constant barrage of near fatal threats to our lifestyle.
Ryan started trapping muskrats and mink at the age of 16 and trapping soon became a lifetime passion of his. That same year he also caught his first coyote and two red fox. A friend of his father’s had taught his older brothers how to trap beaver under the ice in the winter; and as Ryan tagged along he knew this was something he wanted to do on his own someday. Ryan had to learn almost everything else on his own. Now, after 46 years of trapping there probably isn’t an Upper Peninsula furbearer that he can’t or hasn’t caught. And since Ryan lives in a land of snow, ice, and cold; he has even figured out how to trap coyotes in the winter!
A good, all-around trapper, Ryan has caught his share of mink, muskrats, raccoons, otter, beaver, weasels, skunks, fisher, marten and he also usually gets his limit of two bobcats every year. He has caught 35 mink in a single season and 150 rats in a single season. One year when weasels were bringing in good money, he remembers catching between 65 & 70. But beaver is where he puts up the real numbers!
Ryan is especially known for his ability to make large catches of beaver in the dead of winter through the ice. And if you know anything about Bergland Township located in Ontonagon County in the Northwestern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they measure their snow in feet – not inches – and the only good thing about snow when beaver trapping is that it (sometimes) helps keep the ice from getting too thick and provides a way to access frozen beaver ponds with snowmobiles.
After years of trapping beaver through the ice with conibears and footholds, Ryan was excited when Michigan finally allowed under-ice beaver snaring and he quickly learned that snare poles were a much better way to get the job done! While he sometimes will set a conibear or two in obvious beaver runs, he has now converted almost exclusively to snare poles. Ryan usually traps alone and tries to keep his equipment fairly simple. Ryan uses a large plastic sled which he pulls behind his snowmobile. His trusty ice spud gets him safely across the treacherous beaver ponds as he carefully pounds the ice ahead of him as he heads toward the beaver lodges. His spud not only finds safe ice but also safely helps him find the thin ice where the beaver are actively working. When asked about additional equipment his list was pretty short: A chainsaw for when the ice was too thick, his snare poles (which are pre-cut before heading out), a large aluminum grain shovel, lots of home-made snares, some wire, a safety cable for each snare pole, some screws for fastening the snares to the poles, a cordless screwdriver (when he has lots of poles to assemble), a small axe and something to start a fire with should he get too wet to safely get home. The poles [fresh, edible (for beaver) poplar] are loaded into his covered sled to keep them as clean as possible – although they do stick way out the back of the sled. His sled cover makes a nice work surface for attaching the snares and other hardware to the poles and keeps everything out of the snow.
How well does his snare pole system work? One day he checked 17 poles and caught 16 beaver and a muskrat. Seventeen critters out of 17 sets! He has caught beaver and otter on the same pole. He has caught three beaver on a single pole. And one year he caught 162 beaver in a single season with about half of them coming from under the ice. And this large catch was made when he was still holding down a full time job. Anyone who has trapped, clean-skinned, and boarded 162 beaver (mostly through the ice) in a single season (while working a full time job) knows that there isn’t a lot of time left between the day job, the beaver, and a good night’s sleep!
Ryan is president of District 2 of the U.P. Trappers Association and has near perfect attendance at the board of directors meetings. If Ryan isn’t at a meeting you know he is seriously ill or that even the snowplows can’t get through. He also picks up fur for the U.P. Trappers Association near his home, destined for Fur Harvesters Auction in Canada. And a substantial part of his load comes out of his own fur shed! And the way Ryan’s fur is put up would make even the crankiest, old fur-grader smile!
A Vacation Paradise
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is an outdoor vacation paradise with attractions for the whole family.
• 1700 Miles of Shoreline on three of the Great Lakes!
• Approximately 15 miles of beautiful Sandstone Cliffs rising 50 – 100 feet above Lake Superior in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!
• 324 Waterfalls!
• Hundreds of abandoned underground copper, iron, and gold mines!
• Fishing and hunting paradise!
• Ninety percent of the U.P. consists of forests.
• Two National Forests, several State Forests, many State Parks, and hundreds of Inland Lakes with free or low cost access.