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OTA raw fur auction sees timid buyers

By DON HOHLER • Jan 16, 2017 at 12:30 PM

BUCYRUS — It was obvious Saturday at the Ohio Trappers Association raw fur auction that sportsmen were willing to take a wait-and-see attitude last fall as far as harvesting fur. The amount of fur that crossed the table just was not there.

“It looked to me like hunters and trappers alike were not willing to put the full effort into their work realizing that the prices were not going to improve much over last year,” believed Ken Little, the buyer for the New Jersey-based firm of Zander & Sons. “From what I heard, many of the night hunters hunted enough and caught enough to keep their dogs in shape.

“As far as trappers and I am one of them, I stopped when I got to 80 raccoon and then went after more-profitable coyote,” the Baltimore,OH-based buyer admitted. “My goal was 50 coyote and I hit that pretty quick. Buy, I quit early. Admittedly, I’d still be out there if the prices were decent.”

And on the subject of coyote, Little is one of many sportsmen who feels they are fast-becoming a major problem.

“I don’t think they are a problem. I know they are,” he assured. “They are cleaning up the deer for sure, especially the fawns. There are not near the deer there used to be in southern Ohio and it is my understanding that the ODNR is contemplating on making reductions in deer harvest.

Little also was correct when he believed there would be as many sellers Saturday as last year but few will have anything close to the amount they caught five years ago.

“Let’s face it, there is a lot of work and time in putting up coon the way the fur houses want them. Equipment alone takes money. Put all that together and at best $5 average makes it easy for the sportsmen to “leave them for next season”,” Little surmised. “I did not get near the number of calls prior to the season, asking about prices. And when I gave them an estimate, I heard a lot of “I am not going to catch them for that kind of money”.”

There are still some trappers who depend of that fur check.

A lot of 800 muskrats went through Saturday proving that some trappers depend on that annual fur check. Those numbers were few and far between, however. Those rats averaged $5. which was not bad but nowhere close to the $12 they fetched five years ago.

“That $12 figure was too high,” Little admitted. ”That was ridiculous and it’s coming back now to kick us in the butt. We all enjoyed it and that included the coon hunters who got as high as $28 average. Now those same sized coon brought $5 and they have to be put up perfectly.

“And that’s another dilemma. I found one Amish boy to do some finishing for $3 a pelt and that is hard work say nothing about being greasy and ugly. If I pay $4 for that hide and pay him $3 to get them auction ready and then get $5 at the auction, I am losing money. So you can see why hunters and trappers are staying in,” Little stated.

“I am going to be buying at all the sales including the one in Kentucky because Harry (Zander) needs fur. But it has to be at the right price,” Little assured. “And you can bet, the Bucyrus prices here at Bucyrus were the highest paid of the three Ohio auctions.”

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