Hermansville, Mich. (WZMQ) – One of the U.P.’s oldest trades was shared with the younger generations over the weekend. On Saturday children from the surrounding areas gathered to learn some hands-on trapping skills, and took some things home with them.
11-year-old Kolton Weinert from Kingsford, who came to the event with his grandmother, shared that he got involved in trapping when he joined Iron Mountain’s youth mentorship program, Hardcore Scriptures Outdoors, which was founded by Joe Bottesi.
“I like how Joe teaches us how to skin the animals and stuff after. And salt them. It’s just really fun,” shared Kolton. Kolton commented that he has made a lot of great friends by getting involved in learning trapping. When asked about what is great about the U.P., Kolton said “its really fun I guess, there’s good food like pasties. There’s a lot of fun stuff to do and its just a good time,” he commented. “You get to go out in the woods, you get to walk around in the water. Fishing, hunting, trapping, stuff like that,” Kolton added with a smile. Kolton has trapped bobcats, a pine martin, beavers, muskrats, mink, and even a raccoon.
According to 12-year-old Browning Kittleson, of Alpha, this year’s trapping season has been a blast. “I started I think two years ago, it was really slow. I only caught two things last year a muskrat and an ermine. But this year it picked up, I caught a fox, a mink, and two otter.” Browning shared that he is thinking about a career in taxidermy. Browning said that at the workshop, he learned a lot of new things about trapping that he didn’t know about. “Like I didn’t know you could use a cage trap. I learned a little bit about that today,” he remarked.
Browning was amazed to learn more about the different animals that are out in the woods. “There’s different kinds of foxes. There’s red and there’s gray, but they can have different furs. Like, there’s not just red and gray. They can be black, they can be silver, or white,” he said. Browning added that getting involved in trapping is a good way to get exercise and get out in nature. Browning said that trapping helps to manage resources, and meet people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise, like different trappers. Browning added that finding an animal in his trap is like “Christmas morning.”
According to Mike Lewis, the event coordinator and the Secretary of the U.P. Trapper’s Association, getting the youth involved in this kind of hands-on learning is a privilege
“It’s really nice to see all the kids here, and hopefully we’ll get a few trappers out of it. A lot of kids interested in it, and they thought it was just a great thing to be here. And they’re really enthused about it.” Lewis shared that the U.P. Trapper’s Association pays for all the school districts in Delta, Dickinson, and Menominee counties to get subscriptions of Fur, Fish, and Game Magazine into the libraries. The educational workshop programming offered by the U.P. Trappers Association has been going for 18 years.
“Trapping is kind of a dying sport. If you don’t get the kids involved, it’s the same with deer hunting. If you don’t get the kids involved its going to go. Its good to see we had a pretty good turnout today.” Lewis said that 90 kids came through the doors at the workshop.
Those kids watched weasel and beaver trapping demos, built their own muskrat traps to take home, and participated in door prizes. According to Lewis, there were around 95 handmade weasel boxes from donated lumber all made by local volunteers that were given away to the young trappers at the event.
District 3 of the trappers’ association has a banquet coming up in the first weekend of March at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds.
There is another National Trappers Convention coming in July to the U.P. State Fairgrounds. Cast members of the popular Alaskan TV shows “The Last Alaskans”, and “Mountain Men” are expected to join in that convention.
To learn more about upcoming events with the U.P. Trappers’ Association and how to get the youth involved, visit uptrappers.com
To learn more about getting youth involved in events and opportunities with Iron Mountain’s Hardcore Scripture Outdoors, visit scriptureoutdoors.com