Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Trapping prices expected to level after banner year

By Mike WilsonContributing Writer

Muskrat fur prices were all the rage among trappers last season,
but don’t expect the same for this fall.

With trapping season scant weeks away, the prices on fur have
stabilized somewhat from the high-dollar muskrats of 2006 that had
every trapper with a conibear looking for a marsh to trap.

According to local buyers such as Scott Boyer, who runs a
fur-buying operation in Licking County, muskrat prices have dropped
off dramatically. Boyer said first month money on ‘rats caused the
catch to go sky-high and with that a subsequent drop-off.

‘Muskrats will be weak this season,’ Boyer said. ‘The catch was
phenomenal (due to the early season prices) and I have heard that
Canadian auctions are sitting on half a million muskrats. Last
season, they started off good, $7.50 or so, and after the first of
the year the prices dropped off about a dollar a week. It’s all
about supply and demand.’

Boyer said there were only a few Chinese buyers last year for
Ohio furs and once they bought the muskrat they needed the buying
came to a halt.

With that in mind, Boyer said other furs caught on this year’s
Ohio traplines will be well worth the effort. He said the old
trapper standbys, raccoon, fox and mink, will remain stable.

‘Raccoon is the prime furbearer in Ohio, and the coon market is
going to be real good,’ he said. ‘When you got a coon market in
this state, you have a fur market. I look for coyotes and fox to be
about the same as last season; the better ones (coyotes) are going
to be worth the money, the bad ones won’t be worth a thing. The
only question is going to be the weather overseas. As long as we
get a decent winter in Europe, we will be good.’

As it has been for decades, the fur market in America is driven
almost entirely by overseas buyers. Ed Molnar, of the Sterling
Sport Co. in Elyria, has been involved in trapping and buying fur
for 47 years. Molnar said that while the muskrat market is surely
off, at least for this season, weather in the foreign markets plays
a much bigger role than many trappers realize.

‘To have a good fur business, we need cold winters over there
(Europe and the Far East) but last season the winter there was
mild,’ Molnar said. ‘China bought a lot of ‘rats, so did Korea. But
now there is a surplus. Every trapper hit the muskrats hard. Russia
is a big taker of ‘coon.’

‘I expect the muskrats to be off, definitely,’ he said. ‘But
coon and beaver, coyote, and fox, will hold steady.’

Carol Osborne operates a fur receiving depot in Pulaksi, Pa. The
depot receives fur from dealers, trappers, and buyers throughout
Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio for shipment to North American Fur
Auctions based in Toronto, Canada. Osborne said the raccoon fur, at
least at NAFA, has all been sold, which bodes well for coon hunters
and trappers this season.

‘NAFA had a sale in September and didn’t have any coon left to
sell. Sold out. So I expect the coon to be good for this season. I
don’t think I’d trap muskrats this season, though. There are still
a lot of muskrats sitting on the markets unsold.’

‘Again, it all depends on the weather in Europe,’ she said. ‘The
best thing that could happen would be a for a real cold winter
there.’

While trappers may not be finding high prices for muskrats this
season, the increased prices last year brought about some renewed
interest in the sport. Keith Winkler, who owns Sterling Fur Company
in Wayne County, said trapping is experiencing a resurge in the
Buckeye State.

‘Prices do matter,’ he said. ‘Interest in trapping is up from
15-20 years ago and guys are already starting to buy supplies and
get ready for season. I look for coon to be up about 10 percent
from last season and the other fur, with the exception of muskrat,
to be more stable.’

It is a little early to put a fix on prices, but one thing is
for certain, trappers who target raccoon this season should do
well.

Ohio’s trapping season begins on Nov. 10.

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