Demo Schedule and Demonstrator Bios & Pics
Mark June MI: Bobcat
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’s demo 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.
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.
Mark graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (2022) and is an associate pastor at Grayling Evangelical Church in Grayling, Michigan — and he once again resides in the state where he grew up.
Rusty Johnson ID: Predator
Rusty Johnson started trapping at age 12, in Irwin County Georgia. No one else in his family trapped, and he quickly learned that the few trappers around wouldn’t share their secrets. So, he just started trying to figure out how to catch coons in the creek and predators in trail sets. In his first “season” he made more money in 2 weeks of trapping than he would have made in 3 months of working in the tobacco fields!
From day one he learned how to make a living from a pursuit that he loved and that is still what drives him today. Georgia furs aren’t worth a whole lot – so Rusty traps for hire, not for fur. He’s learned that it takes flexibility, patience, and commitment to harvest every last coyote on a piece of property. For him this is both challenging and rewarding. Here’s how Rusty says he feels after catching an extremely challenging coyote, “It’s a great feeling when I’m checking traps to look into the distance and see that coyote rise up as his foot’s firm in my trap. I know that in the moment of setting the trap the day before, I read all the signs correctly, and I was one step ahead of the coyote.”
Rusty has owned his own full time animal nuisance business, Critter Solutions, in South Georgia for 15 years and the past 5-7 years has been primarily beaver and predator work. He also markets his own proven lures and baits. He has trapped in numerous states and he was the lead trapping coordinator for the largest coyote study ever conducted in the U.S. spearheaded by the University of Georgia. In the first phase the researchers put 187 GPS collars out in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. That study is still active and growing to this date.
And in his “spare time” Rusty has helped Mark June film his Bobcat and Coyote DVD ‘Reducing the Numbers’ and has been an instructor at Mark June’s Predator Trapping Academy in northern TX the past two years – this past March teaming up with Mark June and (the legendary) Tom Krause to train some of America’s elite wolfers. So, after working on various projects and trapping with Rusty, what does well-known trapper Mark June have to say about him?
Rusty works high fence contracts in NC, SC, GA, and TX where catching the last predator on a place requires coyote and bobcat skills of a whole new level.
Predator contracts or “paying jobs” are much different than fur lines where you take the cream and move on, and Rusty has also done much of this, but when push comes to shove and the landowner paying you wants a specific animal harvested, it takes more than great skills to make this happen… it takes hard work and attention to detail.
Rusty is one of America’s top dog trappers, proven by his wide range of projects and accomplishments.
Mark June – Biologist/Professional Trapper/Lure Maker
Though arguably one of the best coyote trappers in the country you will never hear Rusty brag about his catches or try to blow his own horn. Rusty sums up his life in a few words, “being prepared, organized, and determined – and putting in the hard work, I have learned and gotten it down to a science. Trapping is my way of life, how I support my family, and my passion. I am blessed to be able to do what I love every day.”
Lesel Reuwsaat SD: Summer coyote control
Lesel Reuwsaat is from Black Hawk SD. He is a self-taught trapper who racks up phenomenal numbers of coyotes, especially for a guy who has only been a full time Professional Fur Trapper for a short time! During Lesel’s 2013 season he harvested 432 coyotes and has broken his own staggering record with 458 coyotes for 2014! And mixed in with his 2014 coyote catch, he racked up 300+ coons, a very respectable number of bobcats, and numerous badgers, foxes, skunks, etc.
Trappers who catch far less fur than that can appreciate why Lesel owns 10 freezers and still has to rent a pallet slot at a cold storage facility!!!! Lesel has also had the opportunity to participate in the F&T Freedom Outdoor TV program. He did six shows for the F&T program in 2013 and another five in 2014. And those trappers, who get the F&T Freedom Outdoor Program on their televisions, are hoping he does many more shows!
At this year’s convention he will be doing a demo on bobcat trapping for us. We’ll get to see how he catches so many of those high-dollar cats! You will see how he makes his sets, how he places his lure and baits, and how he chooses locations to set his traps. Lesel will agree that there is a lot more to catching this much fur than lure and bait – but if you want to try the same lures and baits he uses on his own line, he will have them for sale at our convention. And he has definitely proven that they work!
Al Dubord AK: Marten
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!
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!
Linda White (“Trapping Girl”) OH: Fox
Linda White is the founder of Kids for Catches; a group whose focus is to support kids trapping events across the United States. She is also the co-owner of Sawmill Creek Baits and Lures; which has a full line of trapping baits and lures crafted by her husband, Michael White. You have probably seen them at several trapping conventions across the county. She is also President of Trapping Girl, Inc.; a company whose sole purpose is creating a positive and fun environment to encourage women and children to get involved in trapping. Starting with the May – June 2020 issue of American Trapper Linda will be overseeing a page called “The She Side”; which is devoted to highlighting women in trapping.
Although Linda grew up fishing and camping with her family, trapping didn’t enter her life until meeting her husband, Michael. The first time she went out was mainly to see what it was REALLY all about. Linda had city friends explain to her what their idea of trapping was, but something didn’t add up. She needed to see for herself, and man was it eye opening! In that first ride along, Michael shared his passion and knowledge with her and after the first coyote catch she had helped with, SHE WAS HOOKED. There was not only a fire lit in her soul to be a trapper, but she felt it was also her mission to help bring a positive light to others who may not see trapping that way.
If you follow Linda on Facebook or IG, you will find her out running her own line and encouraging other women to get out and do the same. She has incorporated light weight tools, brightly colored pink traps, and other techniques to help her become a more proficient trapper. She is always willing to share her experiences and knowledge she has picked up along the way. In the 2019- 2020 season Linda harvested 7 Coyotes, 17 Red Fox, 9 Coon, 10 Skunks, 13 Opossums, 3 muskrats and 1 mink. Trapping in New York the weather can be a challenge, but as always, she had an amazing time doing it, and can’t wait to get out for another season.
At this year’s convention you will be able to attend Linda’s demo on fox trapping from a women’s point of view.
Roy Dahlgren MI (LP): Winter bobcat
Other than the many trapping articles in Fur-Fish-Game magazine that Roy Dahlgren devoured as a youngster, his trapping skills were mostly self-taught – as no one in his family trapped. He did get a few pointers from one older trapper that he worked with; but in those days few, if any, trappers were sharing their secrets.
Roy began trapping at 9 or 10 years old and has now been at it for 50 years! When fox were plentiful in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (before the coyotes expanded – after the bounty was removed) Roy took 116 fox in a single season and said they were almost equally divided between red and gray fox. He has also had some pretty impressive catches on coyotes, muskrats, and coons.
Roy describes himself as an “all-around-trapper” as he rarely goes after any one animal as a primary target. His motto is “Why should I pass up gas money” and by this he means that if there are muskrats in a ditch on his way checking coyote traps why wouldn’t he make a quick stop and add 8 or 10 rats to his pile of fur? Or that place where he saw a mink run across the road? Why not slap in a few sets and add a mink or two to the fur shed on his next time by? Roy has caught and sold every furbearer in the state of Michigan except the pine marten. He has however vowed that the 2021 season will solve this problem. When asked what animal he likes to trap the most Roy quickly answered that it was coyotes. He loves trying to outsmart these more wary animals. But then he quickly added that he may be changing his mind on coyotes being his favorite animal to trap since the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is now being overrun by wolves. They are not only running coyotes off of the properties he traps but he finds many of his trapped coyotes shredded to pieces in a pile of blood, with wolf tracks all over the catch circle. “Kind of takes the fun out of coyote trapping when you see a beautiful piece of fur totally destroyed,” he added.
One year he did decide to target raccoons and wound up with about 80 coons, which is a nice catch for his area. He also made a muskrat trapping trip to North Dakota a few years back and came back with about 2000 rats.
But Roy’s love for trapping doesn’t end with catching animals. He has been a strong advocate for Trappers and Trapping throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and beyond. He puts on many trapping presentations at area schools and is particularly interested in getting young people into trapping. He has put on programs for both grade schools and high schools and one especially interesting program he did was at the Escanaba High School. He put in a coyote set in a patch of trees on the high school property (less the trap) but otherwise a “working set.” The students could “check” the trap via a game camera and could also “check” the set in person, looking for and identifying tracks, etc. He has also mentored various teens on his own lines, many of whom are now accomplished trappers.
Most U.P. trappers agree that Roy is the best convention coordinator the U.P. Trappers Association has ever had. In just a few short years he has increased our annual attendance from a few hundred attendees to thousands! Also in 2014 we broke a 10 year record for attendance at the NTA convention we hosted – and much of this was due to Roy Dahlgren’s efforts. Almost as soon as the dates are set for the next convention the planning and work begins, his phone starts ringing, and it’s almost impossible to count how many times Roy is on the radio to promoting trapping and trapping events.
Roy also talks “trapping” to most people he meets and advocates for both UPTA and NTA wherever he goes. When he gets someone new to join the U.P. trappers or the National Trappers or to attend a trappers meeting, Roy is in his glory – he is a real asset to trappers everywhere!
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.
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?
Leon Windschitl SD: Fur Handling
Chris Lunn WY: Do’s and don’ts of ADC work
Jeremy Laakso MI (UP): Mink
Jeremy was five years old when his Dad first introduced him to trapping. “Jeremy can still picture that beaver stretched out on a board in the basement.” In addition to working full time, his Dad also ran a mink line, which included: mink, muskrat, beaver, otter, coyote, fox and bobcat. Over the next four years, his Dad would occasionally take him along. By the time he was eight, Jeremy was setting his own mink and muskrat traps in the creek, lake and pond, within walking distance of where he lived. Yes, he still remembers where his first muskrat and mink were caught!
At nine years old, Jeremy remembers, October 25th, like it was yesterday. His Dad woke him up and asked if he wanted to go and set traps for opening day. He couldn’t believe his ears! He was going trapping on the “big trap line!” He knew he wouldn’t be making any of the sets that first year, but his job was important, none the less. He would grab traps from the back of the truck and get them ready with a piece of wire and make sure his Dad’s job of setting was easier because of what he was doing.
October 25th is like a holiday for Jeremy and his dad. In 34 years, they have not missed an opening day. Jeremy is very grateful to be able to live with and trap with his Dad. He has always had a Fur Fish Game or trapper magazine to look at, has always had traps around and has always seen a trapper’s day to day life.
Jeremy has trapped every animal that can be trapped in Michigan, except for a badger, plus some wolves that were released unharmed. He is still waiting for that “incidental mountain lion.” His main focus each season has always been mink trapping; his Dad’s love of trapping mink, just wore off on him. He and his Dad, run a mixed water line every year, which lasts between two and three weeks, depending on the weather. Over the last couple of years, Jeremy has started to set a few coyote sets along their water line. Most seasons, he would only put a few coyote sets out during the winter, close to home. Yes, he catches coyotes, in footholds, in the U.P. winter-deep-snow! Jeremy says it is refreshing to drive up on the snowmobile and see a winter-caught-coyote in an old Victor 3N at 20 below zero!
Jeremy’s Dad told him that he had taken their trapping to the next level; meaning he is always trying to run the line and fur handle more efficiently, and improve their trapping styles. When Jeremy and his Dad run the trap line, they both run 100 miles an hour. Well, nowadays, according to Jeremy, his Dad has slowed to about 65 miles an hour. Whether they are running their 250 trap line or their walking distance line of a dozen traps, they are always looking for more efficient ways to do so. Jeremy’s setup out of the truck is the same every time he heads down to the creek to make his mink sets. Over the years, if he picks up something from another trapper, he uses it in his own system, if it is more efficient.
Jeremy has been the UP Trapper Association District 5 President for over ten years. He has taken several trapper education courses online and says he will never stop learning. He is now working toward his Michigan Trapper Education Instructor Certificate. He believes that it is every trapper’s responsibility, at a minimum, to be a member of his/her local or state organization. He also feels that membership with the National Trappers Association and Fur Takers of America is vital. “Any trapper, who isn’t a member of any of these organizations, is stealing from those of us who do support these organizations.”
Nick Erny IN: Trapping with round bodygrippers
Dennis Alberts MI (UP): Weasel Trapping
Dennis Alberts didn’t get addicted to trapping till he reached the ripe old age of five – and now in his seventies, the “itch” still hasn’t left. His older brother, Bruce, talked their dad into helping them set out a few traps for muskrats, on a large pond near home. When Dennis was 12, his dad started a small dairy farm with several potholes containing muskrats. In addition, there were a couple of small streams and a large marsh near the farm. Allowed to drive his dad’s tractor to check traps, Dennis was on his way to becoming a “longliner.” One of those streams yielded his first mink.
Then a neighbor showed him how to catch fox using dirt-hole sets and Fur-Fish-Game magazine taught him about mink pockets. When old enough to drive the old pick-up truck, he really branched out catching lots of mink, muskrats, and raccoons. His first of many foxes came during his senior year of high school.
After high school he fell in love with a girl from the UP and started college. A friend, Bob Bolitho, was his trapping partner all through college. In his sophomore year, he married that Yooper girl and a little over a year later they had a little one to feed. It was then that his trapping money became very important and supplemented his scholarship, loans, and part-time job.
After college he took a job in Holland Michigan, but continued to trap, partly for the money, partly because of his love for it and because it was something he could do with his boys, Scott & Clark.
In the early eighties, he and his wife purchased property in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, built a log home, and began his lifelong dream of becoming a professional trapper. At that time the fur market was up, and he was able to make a decent living trapping, but not without spending many long days from sunup to well after sundown running traps and putting up fur. Did he still love it? Yes!
The first couple of days of mink season, he made sets until well after dark, any coyotes were skinned right out on the line, while they were still warm. At home, after a hurried dinner, he skinned any fox and coon, which were then placed in bread sacks and put in the freezer along with any coyotes. Any rats and mink were wrapped in newspapers and put in the freezer whole. These would be taken out and skinned once the catch dropped off.
As they had time, his boys, Scott, and Clark helped with the skinning and went trapping with him on weekends. After a couple of weeks, as his mink catch leveled off, (he would usually have around fifty by then), he would put out some beaver and bobcat sets. Trapping beaver meant it usually wasn’t long before his second freezer would be getting full, so he had to start putting up some fur – especially beaver, otter, and raccoon. Over Thanksgiving, the boys really helped put up fur and not only did they make space in the freezers, but soon had pelts ready to ship to North Bay. When the kids were off school for Christmas vacation, he took a little time to help the boys catch some beaver and get their quota of otter. At the end of December, it was time to pull the rest of the mink line and wrap up the beaver line. In early January, Dennis just “had to” catch some of those prime beaver through the ice! But soon it was time to get those freezers empty (again) and get all the fur put up! Why? Because spring break-up was coming, and he couldn’t resist filling those freezers back up with beaver – when they started to travel and could be taken in large numbers.
Dennis also enjoys writing trapping articles with many published in Fur-Fish-Game and a few in The Trapper, but his real love is trapping. He has not missed a season in 70 years but admits to having slowed down quite a bit.
During these slower times, he has the privilege of being able to trap with his grand kids. His grandson, Chris Ducsay, was his constant partner – since he could barely walk – till he started his own construction company. Now Chris’s sister Ambriah is his trapping partner, and Dennis says, “She is really good at it!”
In his seventies, his approach to trapping is very different. Gone are the days of catching a hundred plus mink and a hundred plus beaver, in addition to all the other critters and putting them all up. He tries to catch a few of each legal furbearer, then tans most of them and gives them as gifts.
Dennis’s passion for trapping even extends to supporting those who protect trapping – he is proud to be a lifetime member of the National Trappers Association!
Heimo Korth AK: Artic Fox/Wolves
While growing up in Wisconsin, Heimo had an exuberant interest in wilderness and adventure, stoked by stories of hunting big game in the pages of Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines. The biography of frontiersman Daniel Boone was also very inspirational to him.
As a young man of twenty, Heimo discarded a factory job which he found to be dull and uninteresting. It was August of 1975. Heimo flew to Alaska to take a job as a packer for big game hunting guide Keith Koontz in the Brooks Range. They became friends and Keith helped Heimo get set up with a cabin for a winter of fur trapping.
The cabin was in remote wilderness 70 miles south of Fort Yukon on Beaver Creek. Heimo was alone with meager provisions and no experience with trapping or wilderness living.
For the first month Heimo lived mainly off what grouse and ducks he could shoot. There was no stove in the cabin. Someone was supposed to come downriver with a stove but didn’t show up because of the early freeze-up.
By early October there was a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures dropping below zero. Heimo had to sleep outside and build bonfires to keep warm. He was in real trouble.
Needing food, Heimo set out to find a moose and in the woods out back of the cabin miraculously came upon a collapsed cache with a wood stove and stove pipe among the debris. Heimo got it set up in the cabin and finally had heat.
By mid-November, desperately low on food, Heimo attempted to hike to another known cabin with the hope of finding food there. On the way, he fell through the ice and had to make a run back to his still smoldering wood stove to survive.
More desperate than ever, Heimo hoped to signal a plane. Chances of a plane flying by were very slim. A friend of Heimo’s asked a bush pilot to do a flyover and check to see how Heimo was doing. Again, seemingly another miracle, Heimo was able to signal that he was in trouble and got flown back to civilization.
The few furs Heimo had managed to catch during his time on Beaver Creek brought less than $100. Not wanting to give up on Alaska, Heimo went back to work for Keith Koontz, this time on St. Lawrence Island off the west coast of the Alaska mainland.
In the ensuing years, Heimo would continue to trap and built his first cabin on the upper Coleen River in June, 1978. Here he would trap for over 40 years and raised a family along the way.
Among the furs Heimo harvests in this northern boreal forest include wolf, fox, marten, wolverine, lynx and beaver. Heimo runs his traplines by snowmachine. He has had several seasons of over 100 marten harvested.
Heimo received the Alaska Trapper Association’s Fabian Carey Trapper of the Year award in 2003, in recognition of his commitment and dedication to trapping. Heimo’s sense of humor and engaging personality have won him friends near and far.
An excellent book, The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness by James Campbell came out in 2004. Much of the information for this short biograhy came from that book, with Mr. Campbell’s permission.
More recently, Heimo has been featured as one of the cast of the very popular reality TV show “Last Alaskans”. The show has helped to portray fur trapping positively to audiences worldwide.
Justin Webb ID: Wolves
Kendall Obermeir IA: Predators/for Livestock Damage
Clint Locklear TN: Predator Q & A
Megan Lockwood OH: Nuisance Trapping
Rich Wilson MI: Beaver/Avoiding Otter
J. Dunnier/D. Eckles/P. Dobbins: Beaver roundtable
Alan Probst PA: Modern trapping today’s society
John Daniel TN: Protecting trapping (w/Jason Wisniewski TN)
Jason Wisniewski TN: Protecting Trapping (w/John Daniel TN)