Young and old caught up in the passion of trapping

The Minnesota Trappers Association Convention is this weekend at the Wadena County Fairgrounds in Wadena.

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Trapping demonstrator Cade Thibodeaux talks about devices used in trapping water dwelling animals like beaver or muskrat during a kids trapping clinic.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal
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WADENA — Even at the peak of the fur trade in Minnesota it's likely there was never as many trappers, traps, furs and enthusiasts gathered in one place, at one time, than there are in Wadena this week for the Minnesota Trappers Association Convention.
Opening day was Thursday, but trapping folks started showing up on Tuesday to be a part of the event. Friday morning had over 400 people picking up a button to get in before 10:30 a.m. That doesn't include the rows and rows of people that were already filling the grounds with tents and campers.
Vendors filled several buildings and spilled out into the open where traps stretched out across tables and the ground. Inside the buildings you could buy coyote urine by the gallon, mink mittens, skunk skin coozies, cow horn spoons, hides and furs of the most common fur bearers of Minnesota and all the trapping accessories you could ever need, if trapping is your thing.

If you're in the market for traps, the Minnesota Trapper Association Convention was the place to be.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

And it was clear Friday, that trapping is a big deal to a lot of people. MTA President Brian Fischer, of Courtland, Minn., is entering his second year in that position and said he set a goal of growing membership, a goal they are achieving. It was pretty clear that it's something that everyone young to old had an interest in as trapping demonstrations for adults were filled with onlookers in the show arena. Men and women side by side taking tips from experts in the field. Down in the horse barn, kids filled bleachers learning about the various types of traps and the ethics behind being a good sports person.

Demonstrator Cade Thibodeaux talks to youth about a water set up for trapping muskrat.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

"One of my passions is coyote trapping and the trappers association — with the kids," Fischer said.
The group started a Youth Trappers Connection nine years ago. This provides trapping introduction to kids with experts in the field. Meanwhile adults had a land and water demonstration area to gain years of experience in a few short minutes.
"We have demos on the hour every hour," Fischer said. "We've got a good crowd today."
There are 54 demonstrations scheduled and over 25 vendors set up throughout the grounds. It's more than just buying and trading of trapping gear.
"The fur market is down," Fischer said. "People aren't coming here for the money, they're coming here for the passion."
Those youth watching the demonstrations were able to earn certification that help them get a trapping license. One of the youth instructors Cade Thibodeaux showed kids the many types of traps and the ways to use them to specifically target the fur bearer in mind and in season. He spoke excitedly about his hope to one day catch a bobcat. Some kids barely big enough to tie their shoes explained to him that they'd already done that.

Adults take in a demonstration on catching coyotes with instructor Jeff Dunlap at the Wadena County Farigrounds.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

The adults may or may not need the certification, but it was information that will help them hone their craft to be more effective, safe and ethical in the field.
Those are important aspects as trapping remains an important way of life, according to one of the organizers of the event and local taxidermist Dewey Schmitz.
"There's always a need for trapping," Schmitz explained. "It used to be that money was the No. 1 reason. Now it's about recreation and taking care of the land and resources."
Vendors came from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota and all over Minnesota to fill the open buildings with the scents, sounds and feel of the great outdoors.
Fischer said the organization uses this as a way to share the good things they do. The event is open to all and no secrets are kept. "It didn't used to be that way," he said. Back in his early days, no one would give up their secrets of success. The secrets were on full display at this year's convention.
Events continue through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday you can take in demonstrations, vendors and plenty of food from surrounding food vendors.


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Skins of all kinds including this bear skin rug were for sale at the Minnesota Trappers Association Convention in Wadena, Friday, Aug. 5.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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