Bobcats, fur tips part of state trapper convention

By Kent Weil
Contributing Writer

Decatur, Ill. — Four years ago, the excitement was over river otters. When the Illinois State Trappers Association convenes this year, bobcats will dominate the spotlight – and the shop talk.

But of course raccoons, coyotes, foxes, mink – and even skunks –will play supporting roles.

The annual ITA convention, set for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Macon County Fairgrounds in Decatur, is free and open to the general public.

Trappers in the state are more than willing to share tips, tricks and tidbits concerning their favorite sport.

“We have been planning one of our best conventions ever,” Neal Graves, ITA president, said. “In addition to adding some new attractions and expanding our inside building space, we are really gearing up on activities for kids.

“Kids are our future, and the ITA is committed to doing whatever we can to get them involved in trapping,” Graves added.

There will also be over 100 vendors from at least 10 states, offering traps, trapping supplies and lures.

Because of the new state law opening an Illinois bobcat season this year (see Page 4), the ITA has a full schedule of bobcat-related events, including trapping demonstrations and bobcat fur handling – skinning, fleshing, and stretching – each day.

At 5 p.m. on Oct. 1,  DNR Furbearer Biologist Bob Bluett will give an in-depth talk and hold a question-and-answer session about the upcoming bobcat season.

Along with bobcats, trapping-related demonstrations on other furbearers such as coyote and fox, muskrat, beaver, otter, skunk and raccoon will be given by some of the best trappers in the region.

Over 20 demonstrations are scheduled over the two days.

Along with specific trapping techniques, there will be presentations on grading raccoons, handling and grading beaver and beaver castor, techniques for animal damage control, and a presentation on fur marketing.

Fur Harvester’s Auction’s Greg Schroeder will present day-long fur handling demonstrations both days.

Raffles are always a part of the state trapping convention, and this year the ITA is raffling MB550s (canine and bobcat traps), a five-gun raffle, a Stihl chainsaw, a cash raffle and more. Of note is a raffle for a “Furbearers Gun of the Year.” This limited edition gun is a Ruger Precision rifle 18005, an exceptional rifle that will be engraved, “Furbearers Unlimited Gun of the Year – Illinois Trappers Association.”

A free fried chicken dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, followed by the 11th annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Trapper of the Year Award.

New this year will be President’s Awards.

Closing out the evening will be the Legal Defense Fund Auction.

The ITA uses the money generated from the auction to fight legislation and legal actions affecting the rights of trappers.

Events on the night of Oct. 1 will begin with free chili and hot dogs at 6:30 p.m.

The general membership meeting will follow immediately afterwards, closing with the raffle drawings.

Categories: Hunting News

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