The Kids Cave — the success story of the year at the NTA Convention in Iowa (2021) — expanded and improved in Ohio (2022) — is coming to Escanaba, Michigan in 2023!


Special Thanks to two local sponsors who are really helping make the “Cave” possible: The Youth Advisory Committee and the Upper Peninsula Sustainable Forest & Wildlife Committee both approved $2000.00 each to support this project!

2023 National Trappers Association Convention

and Outdoor Show

U.P. State Fairgrounds, Escanaba, Michigan

*July 27 – 29, 2023*

Great Demos by Kids/for Kids at the
2023 Kids Cave!
(And More Pictures of the Kids!!)

Kids Teaching Kids!

Wesley (Age 16) & Kylee (Age 14) Devore — Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Bobcat Trapping

This brother and sister combo comes to us from Iron River, Michigan, right here in the UP. Having no family background in trapping, they both got involved through their contact with Joe Bottesi who runs HardCore Scripture Outdoors, a very successful program designed to get kids involved with the outdoors. That was about four years ago. Wesley’s mom Kristine signed him up for the class and it wasn’t long before his sister succumbed as well.  They trap together (even getting their dad involved who now has a few muskrats under his belt).  Their mom isn’t really into trapping but does go out with them on occasion. Much of their trapline experience still revolves around Joe and some of the kids from the classes.

They really like to trap everything, although bobcats, fisher, and marten are at the top of the list.  Don’t be too surprised if they throw a bit of fisher and marten trapping in their demo! They put up at least some of their fur, either at their home or at Joe’s place. The goal is to have a representative of each species trapped mounted and displayed. They have a start with both fisher and marten and are waiting for the right bobcat to mount.

Outside of trapping, they do trapshoot as a family. Wesley really likes to tinker with engines and would like to go to school to be a mechanic. He also loves fishing – particularly crappie fishing. Kylee plays volleyball and enjoys crafting – particularly with her “little cousins”, as she puts it.

Kids Teaching Kids!

Lillian Vertz (Age 17 — Wisconsin): Double Dirthole Coyote Trapping

Lillian lives in Wasaukee, Wisconsin, right on the UP border. She started trapping at the ripe age of 7 because her grandfather wanted her to. She now traps as a team with her dad Dave – a very competitive team. Her favorite trick is to set so she cuts her dad off and gets a kick when seeing a coyote in her trap instead of her dad’s! Dave has yet to weigh in on how much he enjoys this little trick. Her mon, Noel, is also very much in the picture. An accomplished trapper, Noel and Lillian run traps together before work and school.

She loves trapping coyotes and caught 12 the first year she trapped for them. Her favorite set is a double dirthole, which she’ll be demonstrating.

Lilian is a very accomplished trapper and has caught every furbearer in Wisconsin – including wolves. While she likes to catch all furbearers, like many of us, she does truly enjoy catching muskrats. She and her dad put up all their own fur.

In her non-trapping time, she works at a grocery store, babysits, and does farm chores. She’s planning to go to college for a business degree and is very interested in developing a welding business. She’s also like to get into nuisance trapping (partly, I suspect, so that she can trap year round!).

Kids Teaching Kids!

Michele Sharp (Age 12 — Wisconsin): Beaver Trapping

This young lady comes from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, the gateway to the storied Horicon Marsh. In fact, she traps the youth area at the marsh, and caught 81 muskrats this year. She also traps beaver and put up 45 this year. Her favorite beaver sets are #330s and footholds on drowner rods. She traps with her dad and has only been trapping for about 3 years. Muskrats and beaver are definitely her favorite animals to trap. She really loves trapping under the ice and her favorite set is a baited #110 under the ice for muskrat.

Michele is from the first demonstrator we have had in the Kids Cave that actually has her own YouTube channel. Follow her trapping adventures there on the channel “Trapping Squad”.

She and her dad put up their fur. Michele skins the possums, raccoons, and muskrats (she also likes to put up the ‘rats). The family eats a lot of the beaver they trap and Michele particularly likes beaver burgers. She says her neatest trapping experience was her 1st day trapping when she caught a muskrat in a set she was still in the process of making. Great start!

Outside of trapping Michele likes basketball and karate (she earned her black belt in taekwondo in May). She’d like to own a karate studio someday.