UP Trappers Association to host annual workshop in Hermansville

(Mike Lewis photo) Rich Bartoletti assists Jim Fornetti in preparing for a weasel trapping demonstration.

HERMANSVILLE — Anyone interested in gaining information on the capture of furbearers will benefit by attending the 18th annual Trappers Workshop on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Frank Rodman Community Center in Hermansville.

Doors open at 8 a.m. and admission is free.

One of the three presenters taking the stage will be John “Gunner” Gunville of Vulcan. He will offer information on how people can get started in the sport.

He successfully harvests both the land — coyote, raccoon, fox, bobcat — and the water-dwelling– mink, muskrat, beaver, otter — critters of the U.P.

Gunville took up trapping as a young man, tagging along with his father and uncle as they trapped coyotes for the bounty. But he soon learned that there was a market for the pelts of furbearers as well. This was in the era where virtually all experienced trappers were a tight-lipped, secretive group who did not share information with anyone.

But one veteran trapper, Bill Pipp, came to Gunville’s aide and offered the youngster advice and trapping tips. Armed with the information, a few traps and a pair of hip boots, he captured 70 rats in one of his first fall seasons.

From there, he went on to trap all species of furbearer found in the U.P. In one fall season, while still in school, Gunville put up the following numbers: 19 fox, 19 coyotes, two bobcats, several mink, raccoons, and skunks. That winter he caught 56 beavers through the ice.

Gunville continues with his trapping today and is president of the U.P. Trappers Association. It is a fact that when he checks his trapline, 70% to 80% of his traps are full.

Harvesting all that fur caused him to become an expert at fur handling as well. Be sure to take in his demonstration at 10:30 a.m. Three other seminars are scheduled: weasel trapping by Jim Fornetti, beaver trapping by Bob Steinmetz, and a fur-handling question-and-answer session with Rich Clark.

They will be stressing the legal, humane methods of harvest, safety on the trapline, sportsmanship in the woods, and the enjoyment of being outdoors.

Along with the learning opportunities, there will be age-appropriate activities for all attendees, including a session on building a colony muskrat trap, raffles, door prizes (everyone wins) and lots of free items. And maybe some surprises.

Doors will close around 4 p.m.. The concession stand will be open, with proceeds going to the North Central School scholarship fund.

Barnes Hide and Fur from lower Michigan will be on hand offering supplies for sale. Rich and Mary Anne Clark will be buying fur for Barnes — stretched and dried or grease fur only.

Those who might need something special from Barnes can call him at 269-967-4475. Clark’s phone number is 715-927-3576.

“This workshop is a great event,” said Chuck Stepniak, longtime member of U.P. Trappers. “It is held in timely fashion when weasels are prime, so the younger kids receiving weasel trapping kits can start trapping weasels shortly after they leave the workshop. A big thanks goes out to all the volunteers who put this event on and to all the individuals and businesses who donate the prizes.”

For more information, go to www.uptrappers.com or call Mike Lewis, workshop director, at 906-774-3592

The club is at W5480 First St.


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