Pennsylvania trapper schools are a prime catch for fur-taking knowledge

While fur prices are down, and fewer trappers run lines than back in the “good old days,” it is clearly evident that trapping is far from dead in the state of Pennsylvania.

At least that’s the impression I got from attending the Pennsylvania Trapper’s Association’s District XI Trapper Training School held in Lebanon County late this summer.

As a relatively new recreational trapper with only a brace of seasons under my belt, I found this unique opportunity to increase my trapping knowledge incredibly worthwhile. In fact, I could see that many of the instructors were just as engaged in the lessons as the students, proving that trapping is a lifelong learning experience with more than one approach to nearly everything we do.

Stations covered a wealth of information from basic regulations, trap preparation and skinning/fur-care to specific trapping techniques, such as beaver sets, water sets for raccoon, mink and muskrat, land sets for canines and an introductory overview of cable restraints.

The instructors consisted of experienced trappers of various ages with tried and true strategies to share. Two young men co-taught stations with their fathers, and while they were much younger than some of the school’s attendees, the fact that they were both former ‘Youth Trappers of the Year’ enticed everyone to pay a little closer attention to what they had to say. Yes, they knew their stuff.

The field school was offered free of charge, and each registrant received a complementary trap, a guidebook titled “From Trapline to Fur Shed,” a chance at various door prizes, and lunch sponsored by Izaak Walton League’s Lebanon County Chapter.

It was an incredibly informative day, and I would highly recommend attending a Trapper Training School if you have never done so. They are perfect for beginning and experienced trappers alike. I know I personally learned a lot, and I’m eager to put my newly found knowledge to good use.

But I was most impressed with Coordinator Butch Herr’s message of sustaining the sport through the promotion of ethical trapping practices and educating novice trappers in how to find success while adhering to all trapping laws and avoiding societal conflict.

“PTA’s motto is ‘Our image is our future,’ and that’s exactly right,” Herr said. “It is absolutely critical that we do all within our power to ensure the sport that we love doesn’t go away.”

“That’s on us,” he explained. “We need to be responsible and represent ourselves as the meaningful contributors to society we’ve always been- and hopefully continue to be.”

I have no doubt after seeing the good work that’s being done by the Pennsylvania Trappers Association that the future of trapping in our state is in very good hands.

For information on PTA membership, trapper rendezvous, or upcoming training schools, please visit patrappers.com.

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