New Trapper Photo Gallery – Share Your Photos From The Field!

Would you like to share your trapping photos with others on Trapping Today? Thanks to input from one of our readers, I’ve decided to add a Trapper Photo Album to the site.  You can submit photos to me at jrodwood@gmail.com to share with others in the trapping world.

Thanks to trapper Andy for suggesting the album.  Input from folks like you in the trapping community is one of the things that makes Trapping Today so much fun to work on.  Feel free to continue providing suggestions so we can make Trapping Today a more effective source of information, entertainment and community for trappers.

Click here to see what the Trapper Photo album will look like.

Thanks,

Jeremiah

NAFA January Auction Confirms Poor 2016 Fur Market

nafa_bannerNorth American Fur Auctions just completed its first major fur auction, and results confirmed our predictions of a very poor market. Lack of buyer demand from China and Russia made it difficult for most items to sell at all.

NAFA sets minimums for most of its fur at auction in order to protect buyers from dirt cheap prices. If no bidders are interested in the fur at the minimum prices, NAFA ‘buys them back’, meaning the fur goes back in storage for either private treaty sale or a future auction.

The only items that sold at 100% were red fox and the better western coyotes, which are used in the trim market. The market for coyotes looks like it will range widely depending on quality, averaging $30-80.

Red fox are averaging $10-15.

Marten sold pretty well, with a market dominated by Korean buyers. Marten averaged around $50, but not all goods sold.

The rest of the fur items, which make up the bulk of the market, were bought back by NAFA due to lack of buyer demand. Only the better 20% of muskrat sold, with an average of $4.

Just a small percentage of the top western bobcats sold for around $225.

22% of raccoons sold at around $11.50.

31% of beaver sold at around $11.

Unfortunately, when only a small percentage of fur sells for a particular species, they usually represent the better furs, meaning the real average may be much lower.

Click here for more on the NAFA Auction.

The majority of the fur that didn’t sell will probably end up in NAFA’s May auction, where everyone is hoping for a market recovery. If the fur is bought back at that auction, it may end up sitting in storage for a long time. Unfortunately, holding back all of this fur may be delaying a potential market recovery. Increases in prices will result in a lot of fur coming out of storage and entering the market, which may keep prices depressed until demand catches up with supply.

FurGuideCover_2015_16

Click to Buy!

The good news is that selling raw fur at auction or to a buyer is not necessarily your only option.  In my new Fur Guide, I highlight alternatives to selling raw fur, which include tanning and selling fur to specialty markets.  Click here to learn more about the fur guide, or click the image to try it out.

 

 

Coyote Remains Bright Spot in Otherwise Poor Fur Market

nafa_bannerAs I write this, we’re in the middle of North American Fur Auctions’ first major auction of the season.  This auction is usually a reliable barometer of the overall fur market, but this year is an unusual one.  The poor fur market we predicted earlier this year has come to pass, and the only bright spot seems to be small specialty furs and coyotes.

NAFA concluded their coyote sale with some pretty impressive prices considering the market, but not all of the fur sold.  The high quality western heavy coyotes sold at 100% at an average of $81, which was excellent for this year.  However, the lower quality grade coyotes only sold at 15-45%, averaging a highly variable $36-60.

Along with coyote, NAFA also sold muskrats, only 20% of which sold.  They averaged about $4, but those numbers were for the top pelts, indicating that we can expect a much lower overall muskrat average in coming auctions.

The rest of the wild fur at NAFA remains to be sold, but we can expect low prices and low clearances for this auction.  Conditions in Russia and China will continue to depress the fur market.  Stay tuned for more fur prices as the auctions develop.

FHA Fur Sale Results, January 2016

FurHarvesters_logoThe first major fur sale of the season is in the books, and results are pretty much as expected.  Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. just posted the sale results, noting that specialty and taxidermy furs sold very well, but commercial goods, which make up the majority of the offering, sold poorly or not at all.  FHA held firm on their prices: if they didn’t get high enough bids, they held the items for the big sale in Finland in March.

Here are a few results:

Beaver averaged $7-17, with around 50% sold.

Mink averaged $13, but only 20% sold, probably the top ones.

Most otter, muskrat and raccoon did not sell.

Red fox averaged $14-33, with 58%-100% sold, depending on grade.

1/3 of the coyotes sold, and averaged about $50.

The FHA results were pretty much what we expected, and prices for the majority of goods will have to wait until the big NAFA auction this weekend.  Stay tuned!

Click here for the full FHA Sale Report.

Fur Harvesters Auction Update, January 2016

FurHarvesters_logoThe first major fur auction of the season took place in Ontario today, with Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. selling a limited selection of mostly held-over furs to a small group of buyers.  While official results aren’t in yet, early reports indicate that the sale went as most expected it would, or perhaps a bit worse.

Many goods didn’t sell, including most of the raccoon and muskrat.  It appears that most of the buyers were purchasing for specialty markets.  Coyotes did okay.  Not last year’s prices, but these early results reaffirmed that coyotes will remain a small bright spot in this year’s fur market.

Stay tuned for more on the FHA auction.  It appears that they held a lot of fur, including the best items, for the March sale in Finland.

Long Term Fur Storage

With fur prices as low as they are, the topic of long term fur storage is surfacing more often these days.  Items like small and slightly damaged coons are almost impossible to sell right now, but we trappers are nothing if not optimistic.  Many are hoping they can store their low value fur for a year or two and bet on being able to sell them during a market recovery.

Should you store fur?

Let’s talk for a minute about whether you should store fur at all.  Anytime you wait to market a perishable good with an uncertain market like fur, you take a lot of risk.  First off, nothing lasts forever, so you will have to market the fur sometime.  There are ways to preserve fur for quite a while, but not forever.   It’s possible that the fur won’t be worth any more, and possibly worth less, when you do finally have to sell it.  There’s also risk that the fur will be spoiled or damaged during storage.   Simply put, fur storage isn’t for everyone.

The great advantage to long term fur storage is that it gives you a great deal of flexibility around when you can sell fur.  You can hunker down and hang onto fur during the low times, and if all works out, sell it when things pick back up.  It’s kind of like having a bulk fuel tank.  In typical market years, it can be a good strategy to buy gas in bulk during winter when its cheap, and use that cheap fuel when others are paying high prices in spring and summer.  Storage enhances marketing flexibility.

Why is proper fur storage important?

Several things impact the quality of fur over time. When exposed to air, fur can go stale.  Some pelts can also develop a yellowish tinge that degrades the quality of the fur.  Beetles, moths and other bugs can destroy the pelts, as can mice and other rodents.  Improper moisture conditions can cause mold growth, which can ruin furs as well.  Raw fur has a lot of enemies in storage, which makes it important for us to do our best to store it right.

Fur Storage Options

Let’s consider storage for four basic types of fur: carcass fur (whole animal), green fur (hide that has not been fleshed, stretched and dried), raw fur (skinned, fleshed, stretched and dried) and tanned fur.

Carcass Fur (whole animals) can be stored in the freezer for a period of time, individually in bags to protect the fur from frost and contact with freezer edges and other items.  This is really not a preferred storage method because the carcasses take up so much freezer space.

Green Fur has virtually no shelf life at room temperature, and a short shelf live refrigerated, but can be stored frozen for quite a long time (months, or even a couple of years) under the right conditions.  The trick is to minimize air contact with the skins.  Many trappers have good luck with this.  Furs are skinned and immediately placed in plastic bags.  Air is forced out of the bags and the furs are frozen.  Since air contact is the greatest enemy of frozen green fur, vacuum sealing can be a great option.  Vacuum sealing units can be bought pretty cheaply, and long, wide rolls of vacuum bags can be used to seal and protect the pelts.  Many trappers claim they can store furs for up to 2-3 years using this method, with no visible loss in quality.  When they’re ready to sell fur, they simply thaw out the skins and proceed to flesh, stretch and dry them.

If you don’t want to go the vacuum seal route or have pelts that won’t fit in the vacuum bags, you might try the jumbo Zip Loc bags that have a port to connect your vacuum cleaner and suck air out of the bag.  Or you can remove air manually.

Raw fur (skinned, stretched, fleshed and dried) can be stored for several years under the right conditions, but if not properly stored its quality will degrade quickly.  Pelts should be initially dried at around 60-70 degrees F, and should keep for several weeks at room temperature.  If stored beyond a month, however, room temperature won’t cut it.

Pelts become stale with exposure to air, humidity causes mold, and bugs can get to the fur.  Refrigeration can prolong the shelf life of raw fur, but moisture in refrigeration units can really degrade pelt quality.

For true long term storage of raw fur, it should be frozen.  To prevent freezer burn, the pelts should not be exposed to air.  Vacuum sealing is a popular option, but may not be necessary.  As long as the pelts are stacked tightly in the freezer, air spaces removed and pelts kept from touching the freezer walls, they should last for years.  If vacuum sealed, it’s recommended that the pelts not touch plastic, so pelts should be wrapped in paper towels, paper or cardboard prior to being sealed in plastic bags.

Well packed furs in a well kept freezer should help give trappers a great deal of flexibility in when to market their fur.  Just keep in mind that storing fur involves risk – fur can spoil, and the poor market may not recover for years.  But at least long term storage allows for some options.

Another option is to send your fur to one of the large auction houses, who have extensive cold storage facilities for long term fur storage.  For the opportunity to sell your fur and collect a commission, both North American Fur Auctions and Fur Harvesters Auction will store your fur for free.  And they know how to do it right.

Finally, tanned fur can be stored indefinitely.  Unfortunately, tanning is costly, and it’s difficult to sell tanned fur except in small specialty markets.  It’s an option to consider, though.

As trappers, we should always do our best to get the most value from our fur, and maintaining quality during long term storage can be an important component of maximizing that value.

For more ideas on maximizing fur value, check out Trapping Today’s Fur Guide.

NAFA Raccoon Update, January 2016

North American Fur Auctions recently moved some higher quality raccoon furs left in inventory from last year.  These were sold via private treaty to fashion houses.  Prices were lower, but it’s somewhat encouraging to see some sales.  Lower quality coons will likely remain very difficult to sell at any price.

We’ll know much more about the condition of the fur market with the major international auctions getting underway at the end of the month.

Raccoon Update

January 15, 2016

Just before Christmas we posted an update to inform you that we were working with our promotional department to attract leading European fashion houses to put raccoons back on the runways.  As a result of this, we have now completed several sales of better section heavy Western raccoon to these fashion houses.  The timing of these Private Treaty sales was important to the fashion houses to have immediate delivery which allows them to take part of the skins to get dressed and into production for the March/April/May international fashion shows.  Details of these sales will be posted to your accounts next week at which time you may check online.  We will be paying these out together with the proceeds of the January auction.

As mentioned in my earlier update, there is a difference between the colours and most of the prices that were indicated in my earlier update are, in fact, the prices that we have sold these skins at.  The basis for a 5XL colour 2/3 Heavy Northern is $26.

This is an important first step to re-establishing raccoons as a fashion trend and hopefully China and others will then copy.  However, even with this positive development, the demand for raccoons remains weak, as the Russian market continues to underperform.

Herman Jansen

Managing Director

Trapping Today News Roundup, January 2016

Ups, downs, highs and lows abound in the trapping world today.  Let’s take a look at some recent trapping news stories.

New York Fisher Trapping Changes

Trappers in western and central New York will enjoy a new, six day trapping season for fisher next fall.  Expanded fisher trapping opportunity results from the species’ population growth and expansion in recent years.  Unfortunately, trappers in the north will see a reduction in the length of the fisher trapping season.  Read more here.

Rapid City Considers Trapping Ban

Rapid City, South Dakota is growing, which means more human-animal conflicts, and unfortunately, more folks who have issues with trapping.  After complaints from a citizen about a trapper operating within the city limits, it looks like the city will ban trapping.  Strange and sad for a place like South Dakota.  When I first drove across the country, I distinctly remember a nice billboard on the highway announcing that animal rights activists weren’t welcome there.  Oh well. Read more here.

Illinois Otter Trapping

With the recent lower fur prices, fewer people are trapping otter in Illinois.  The state is one of several that recently expanded the opportunity to trap otters due to population recovery: a great conservation success story.  Looks like otter populations will continue to expand this year.  Extra points to the Daily Journal for quoting Trapping Today in the story – thanks Robert!  More here.

Idaho Lynx Lawsuit

It’s Idaho’s turn to defend trapping rights in the Canada lynx fiasco.  We’ve been through this before – many times.  In my home state of Maine, trapping has been completely turned upside down due to a lynx lawsuit.  Animal rights groups have figured out that though they can’t ban trapping outright, they can use the federal Endangered Species Act and the legal system to restrict trapping.activities where lynx reside.  It started in Maine, and has reared its ugly head in Minnesota, Montana, and now Idaho.  Here’s more.

Feel-Good Trapper Stories

Finally, how about a couple of nice trapper stories to brighten things up a bit?  Follow Bill Swan from Tennessee and Dan Tempel from Alaska as they do what they love in the great outdoors.

Learning About Trapping – A Dying Tradition

Trapper Combines Backcountry Skills, Mechanical Know-How

Have a great week.  And please consider buying my Fur Guide.  My kids need to eat :-)

 

 

Trapping Today’s Fur Guide eBook is Here!

FurGuideCover_2015_16

Click to Buy!

Well folks, it’s finally time.  I’ve officially launched the eBook, “Trapping Today’s Fur Guide, Information You Need for Pricing and Selling Your Fur“.

I’ve put a ton of time and effort into the guide, focusing on the most important questions from you, the readers of Trapping Today.  Let’s take a peek at what you can expect in the Fur Guide, a 44 page electronic book in PDF format.

Fur Market Overview:  The Fur Guide starts out with a basic discussion on the fur market, past and present, and the large economic factors that help determine fur prices.  I also break things down by the major furbearers in the market, providing a brief overview of fur uses by species.

How to Sell Your Fur:  This section of the book discusses selling fur in the round, green, raw and tanned, and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Where to Sell Your Fur: Here I discuss the ins and outs of selling fur to country fur buyers, regional buyers, and through the large auction houses.  I also provide some buyer contact information and auction resources.

Alternatives to Selling Raw Fur:  With the recent lows in the fur market, folks are looking for ways to maximize the value they get from fur by seeking alternate markets.  This section discusses a number of alternatives, including selling tanned fur, finished garments, the taxidermy market, as well as finding markets for additional parts of the animals you harvest.

Fur Prices:  Here we discuss factors that influence prices for furs at different times of year, and in different geographic locations.

2015-2016 Fur Market Forecast:  This section provides an idea of what you can expect for fur prices this season, and the economic factors that are at play.

2014-15 Fur Price Reports:  This is probably my favorite section of the book, and definitely took the most time to complete.  I provide a four page table with average fur prices for each species from more than 40 fur auction and buyer sources from across North America.  As far as I know, this is the first time anything like this has ever been available in one place, and the information provided is incredibly powerful.  With this document, you can quickly and easily compare last year’s fur prices from a huge geographic area and gain a new perspective on fur price projections moving forward.  It’s really a great resource!

Money Back Guarantee

I worked really hard on this book and take pride in the information it provides.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it.  I will refund 100% of your purchase price if you’re not completely satisfied with the value you get.  Just let me know within 30 days of purchasing, and I’ll give you a full refund, no questions asked!

So what are you waiting for?  Click here to purchase Trapping Today’s Fur Guide eBook.

Thanks!

Jeremiah

Tyler Freel on PVC Fleshing Beams

Most folks, including myself, have always used traditional wooden fleshing beams in fur preparation.  If you’re looking for an alternative, however, I’ve heard the PVC beams work pretty slick.  Tyler Freel over at the Outdoor Life Game Changers blog wrote a nice little piece on building a pvc fleshing beam.

….My buddy Garrett turned me onto PVC several years ago when he demonstrated his new fleshing beam on river otters from Afognak Island. The beam, made from a section of PVC pipe, was much smoother and harder than wood, and made fleshing much easier than with the wood beam I was using at the time. Using a draw-style fleshing knife (I use a Necker 600), the flesh seemed to roll off with much less work, and resulted in a much more uniformly fleshed hide.

Read the full article here.