National convention

Fur Takers National Convention Kicks Off Thursday in Clark County | News

CLARK COUNTY – For the past seven decades, Charles “Chick” Anders, a resident of Clarksville, has been a trapper – a person who traps wildlife for their fur and to aid in population control.

“Well, I’ve been trapping my whole life,” he said, adding that his catch includes muskrats, mink, foxes, raccoons, coyotes and possums. “It’s in my blood and I can’t get it out.

On Wednesday morning, Anders was at the Clark County 4-H Fairgrounds as vendors from across the United States set up shop for the Fur Takers of America 2021 convention from Thursday to Saturday. It was a scene that was familiar to him, as he was the group’s national president for 22 years before stepping down a few years ago. But it’s the first time since he’s been in Salem in 2000, it’s also close to home.

More than 3,000 people are expected to visit the three-day convention, a bigger punch than organizers expected before last year’s event was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

The event will feature booths for trappers to stock up on gear before fall, skinning demonstrations, workshops for kids to learn how to make trapping tools and more.

“These are all different things that are easy to do, but you have to have a bit of training to do it,” said event president Charles Davis, who serves as secretary at a local Fur Takers of America on workshops for children. “That’s why we try to get all the kids interested and teach them how to do it, because it’s a dying art. “

“This whole convention is kid-based,” Anders added.

Davis said trappers in general are people who enjoy the outdoors and care deeply about nature. That’s why, he said, people like them are more likely to have an accident while trying to avoid hitting an animal in a vehicle.

Their hobby or profession as a trapper also helps manage animal populations.

“If we don’t do what we do, nature will,” he said. “Right now the raccoons are worthless, but if we don’t keep catching them, they are overcrowding; rabies, distemper and other diseases will actually wipe out the population. And it will take more than 10 years to repopulate this area when they become extinct.

“So by managing the numbers in nature, we have a healthy population that won’t get diseases and stuff. “

One of the attendees in town for the weekend is Colbert Sturgeon, a former financial advisor who in the 1990s quit his job and took a one-room cubicle in Georgia with no power, plumbing, or power – which ‘he calls “a higher quality of life.”

Sturgeon was then featured in the National Geographic documentary “Live Free or Die”.

On Wednesday he opened up about his choice to leave the world he had been in before.

“I’ve noticed that the more money you make in business, the more stress you have,” he said. “The more stressed you are, the more pills you take. The more pills you take, the sicker you get.

But in his situation, “on a good day when the sun is shining, I feel like I could be the richest man in the world.”

Tracy Polaski, owner of Shootergirl Jewelery made from different types of ammunition, was moving in with her husband, Steve.

Polaski has been in medical transcription for 26 years, but has now grown the business so much that it’s his full-time job. It all started when Steve, a now retired US Army command sergeant major, was deployed. Polaski started making jewelry to pass the time. Both are hunters, so she had already spent casings that she could start with.

“Some of them that I like to dress up so you really don’t know what it is unless someone points it out,” she said. “Because a lot more women wear, women love to hunt. We use their own guts if they had a successful hunt, first time hunters, even if they missed, we are doing something special for them.

And the business made it possible for the Pinconning, Michigan couple to spend more time together, travel more, and meet cool new friends.

“The people we meet, it’s nice to hear their stories about a hunt or who they hunted with,” she said.

Another of the indoor exhibits features rows and rows of tanned furs, brought in by Trevor Barnes, owner of Barnes Hide and Fur in Burlington, Michigan.

“I’m a buyer of furs, so we buy quite a bit,” Barnes said. Everything is professionally tanned.

At the large U-shaped table, Barnes prepared to display the other items he had brought, including new and used trapping supplies and equipment. While he was trapping, the business, which includes seven or eight conventions like this a year, takes up a lot of his time.

He always loves being able to see all the like-minded people who come from all over to share.

“People, dealing with clients… trappers are just a very peaceful breed,” he said. “No one really keeps it to himself; it’s just a really good traditional function that everyone seems to like to talk about and be a part of.