The Mansfield resident, who has trapped with his father, Dave, ever since he was in grade school, made the decision to bring to the Ohio Fur Trappers Association auction his lower grade fur — gambling he could do better price-wise in shipping his best next week to Fur Harvesters in Canada for sale in March.
Had he talked to buyer Ken Little he would have brought it all. Before the auction began, Little, of Baltimore, Ohio, saw a small amount of fur was on the tables from 27 sellers. It was his belief he was going to have to bump his prices up if he was to fill the order requested by his boss, John Zander, from New Jersey-based Zander & Sons Furriers.
This meant all seven registered buyers had to ante up a bit more if they wanted to fill their fur bags. Little, a buyer for Zander for 25 years in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, was especially hungry for raccoon even though there were supposedly thousands of pelts in refrigeration. He out-bid other buyers 85 percent of the time when raccoon was on the auction block, wanting the fresh hides and paying as much as $12 for triple XXX sizes. Really, quality of this fur seemed to be more important than size as five sizes smaller pelts still brought $5.25.
“My priorities here was muskrat and coyotes, not coon,” Little said. “But the fur house also wants fresh goods and when I see how few coon are here, I have to go after it. That lack of fur has sent the average higher than last year.”
And the Montgomerys were all smiles because the strength of their 25-mile trap line is muskrat and coon.
“And before you ask, we walk it all,” the bearded A.K. Steel employee said. “What we have going for us is much of our lines are in residential areas where we trap ponds and ditches. We do have some long-lines on farms. We probably make 20 stops every day. We are careful just how much fur we take out of an area and I think we had 51 permission slips this year.”
Also saving time is the fact that the partnership has help putting (scraping) coon hides. The Montgomerys finish all the muskrats pelts.
Can they afford to pay to have coon hides scraped?
“We really don’t have a choice,” he said. “I still have to work a day job. Plus, no one is in this sport anymore to make a huge profit. For us, ever since I have been 6 years old, it has been a father-son hobby, Dad for 50 years and me for thirty-plus. With the weather as open as it was this fall, we really had to pick up the pace every day and night.”
The Montgomery’s strength is muskrat trapping. On many occasions they answer the request of pond-owners in trapping the rodents that open the banks. They put up 177 rats this fall which ironically was the same amount of coon they trapped. The hope was the family could average $7 for coon. No question had they brought their best hides, they would have averaged closer to $9. The jury is still out just how much better they would have done in bringing his better muskrats. Zander’s buyer bought large stacks for as much as $5.25 apiece.
The following is a summary of the prices:
COYOTES — A lot of seven hides brought as much as $42 per hide. The same seller got as much as $25 for his second-best furs. Size and color (the lighter the better) was of high interest.
RACCOON — Triple XXX coon that were well put-up averaged between $10 and $12. Graduated on down it was $9, $5.25 and $3.50.
MUSKRAT — The best dried rats brought $5.50. Mediums fetched about $3.30. Not much interest in black hides and kits. Most brought no better than 70 cents.
BEAVER — One silky “rug” got the attention of all the buyers. It brought $25. A larger hide that was said to be “rubbed” brought $26, however. The large hides fetched $18 and the mediums $12.
MINK — The best large males brought $12. The best females brought $7.50. Shockingly, the fur that was once the most sought-after on a river line brought as little as $1.
RED FOX — The best cherry reds brought $13.50. Some fetched as much as $10. Any damage goods could be purchased for as little as $4.
OPOSSUM — Little interest in this fur. One seller had 17 pelts. He sold nine of them for $2. apiece. The rest went for $1.