Trappers workshop Saturday in Hermansville

Attendees look at furs at a previous Upper Peninsula Trappers Association Midwinter Workshop. This year’s event starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Hermansville Community Center.

HERMANSVILLE – Kids of all ages are invited to attend the U.P. Trappers Association’s 14th annual Midwinter Trappers Workshop on Saturday at the Hermansville Community Center.

The workshop will begin at 8 a.m., featuring trapping and fur handling demonstrations, supplies for young trappers, fur buying and more.

“Every kid that is the least bit interested in learning to trap should be at the Community Center in Hermansville,” said Mike Lewis, association contact for the event. “We are hoping that parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors and friends will do what they can to get as many kids there as they can.

“This annual event has helped many hundreds of kids decide if they would like to become trappers, and if so, how to get started on the road to trapping success.”

Organizers said this year’s event is shaping up to be the best workshop ever.

First, youngsters will learn to trap weasels — a great place for beginning trappers to start, even if they’re 70 or 80 years “young.” Weasels are easy to catch, the fur-handling is relatively simple, and there is even a pretty good market for selling weasels whole for the taxidermy trade, where no skinning or stretching would be required.

Jim Fornetti will teach the group where to look for weasels, how to identify their tracks in the snow, what equipment is needed, and, most importantly, how to catch them. Later in the day, each of the younger kids will get a free weasel box and trap so they can “get out there” and use their new-found knowledge. Weasels are nearly at their peak this time of year and the winter woods and fields are beautiful.

Next, Clint Seawright will teach attendees how to catch muskrats, mink and raccoons.

“These three critters are nearly as easy to catch as weasels and the fur-handling is still quite easy compared to beaver, otter, coyotes, etcetera,” Lewis said. “Clint will discuss traps, lures, baits, locations, stakes, other methods of fastening and where and how to find these animals. Those attending should leave with enough knowledge to expect some success in harvesting these three critters.”

The association is anticipating a shipment of a large quantity of brand-new, dog-proof raccoon traps. If they arrive on time, they will be given out to the older kids instead of the weasel boxes.

“‘DPs,’ as they are called in the trapping trade, are one of the most effective raccoon traps out there — and Clint will show everyone how to use these traps for catching coons, while at the same time avoiding dogs,” Lewis said.

After the two “catching” demonstrations, attendees will learn how to properly skin, flesh, and stretch various furbearers from professional fur handler Richard Clark. He is not only an excellent fur handler, but also an agent for North American Fur Auctions.

“This means he knows how furs must be handled, even to meet the high standards of the international fur auctions,” Lewis said.

After a break for lunch, it’s on to the free stuff. Every youngster receives a door prize ticket when they get to the workshop. During the middle of the afternoon, every kid will win a prize when his or her number is drawn.

“Everyone wins,” Lewis said. “Traps, lure, bait, flashlights –the list of prizes is nearly endless–most of which are something useful to young outdoorsmen or outdoorswomen.”

The grand finale of the day is the distribution of free weasel boxes to the younger kids and, hopefully, new coon traps to the older kids. Other “goodies” could be included in this distribution.

Lewis urges attendees to stay all day to not miss out on a demonstration or a lot of useful free stuff.

Two trapping supply vendors will be available for trappers wanting to stock up on needed supplies. Clint Seawright, of Skunk Creek Trapping Supply, will buy furs.

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase.

“Come and let your kids, grandkids and neighbor’s kids enjoy a fun-filled day away from the video games, cellphones and the TV — and just maybe — the kids you bring along may find a hobby they enjoy more than their electronics,” Lewis said.

For more information on the event or about the Upper Peninsula Trappers Association, go to www.UPTrappers.com.