Increased curioosity: Trapping is steadily on the rise after being down for the past two decadesIf the price is right. The trapping and snaring popularity is based on what everything else in the country to based on — money.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
If the price is right.
The trapping and snaring popularity is based on what everything else in the country to based on — money.
“The number of trappers and the amount of trapping activity is directly driven by the fur market,” Gay Jepson of Grassy Butte said. “You’ll always find that as far back in history as you want to look.”
Trapping and snaring have taken a backseat to other forms of hunting. The process of setting traps and checking everyday can be tiresome. Stephanie Tucker, North Dakota Game and Fish furbearer biologist, said the current weather is a change from last couple winters.
“Definitely, no doubt, that it’s really hard keeping your traps over the last three winters,” Tucker said.
Jepson, who has been trapping for 60 years, said the weather couldn’t be more perfect. Especially since the the trapping season is halfway over.
“You couldn’t plan it this good,” he said with a laugh. “It’s absolutely terrific.”
Last seasons numbers for trapping tags were 14,734 for resident tags, while 3,783 non-resident tags were issued. Those tags were for more coyote hunting. There were also 17 reciprocal tags given out to non-resident trappers that kept traps in North Dakota all season long.
Despite the numbers taking an upswing, they are near the same as a decade or two ago.
“The popularity has gone down the last couple of decades,” Tucker said.
Jepson said he’s seen that increase of attention just in the past couple years.
“It is now in the process of picking up again,” Jepson said. “It’s shown considerable increase in the last two or three years.”
However, if there are more trappers, it doesn’t always mean a better harvest. Jepson said there are people that come into the business for pure profit, but when work is involved — those people tend to stay away.
“More numbers doesn’t mean a better harvest,” he said. “You kind of go by a traction rather than a promotion in some sense.”
The prime example given by Jepson was the bobcat market.
“For instance, the bobcat has been pretty accommodating for the last 10 years,” Jepson said. “But four or five years ago, it really came on. Usually there were people running around the Badlands trying to catch bobcats. If cats were $35, they wouldn’t even know what a bobcat was.”
The trapping season is just like the other hunting seasons. The main goal is maintain the population so it doesn’t get out of control. Jepson said that’s always been his main objective since he started when he was 11 years old.
“The fur trapping world is alive and well,” he said. “To maintain their wealth and well-being, we definitely need to harvest them and that’s what we are doing.”
Jepson's biggest honor was in 2009 when he was named to the North Dakota Fur Takers Hall of Fame.
“I can get fairly speechless over something like that,” he said. “It certainly was a terrific honor to be involved.”