Trappers, fur takers set joint convention in Washington County
Fur trappers generally are known for being excellent outdoorsmen, a distinction they've earned by being out in the woods daily.
This weekend, their knowledge goes on display.
The Pennsylvania Trappers Association and Fur Takers of America will hold a joint convention from Thursday to Saturday at the Washington County Fairgrounds. It's the first time the groups have held a combined rendezvous since 2003 and the second time ever.
“There's a lot going on. It's pretty well packed up and should be a full event,” said Dave Eckels of Finleyville, the state trapper association's director for District 3, which includes southwestern Pennsylvania counties.
The convention — open to nonmembers — offers two main draws, said Barry Warner of Dallas in Luzerne County, the state association's public relations director. One relates to education, of trappers and non-trappers.
For those who participate in the sport, there will be hourly seminars covering everything from woods trapping of coyotes and beaver snares to how to release non-target animals and cable restraint certification classes. All will be taught by some of the best experts in the country, he said.
For everyone else, there will be plenty of information about the role trapping plays in controlling various species for the sake of farmers, suburban residents and others, he added.
“Trapping remains an integral part of wildlife management,” Warner said.
The event's other main draw is equipment related. Trappers looking to gear up for the coming fall seasons can find bargains at the convention, Eckels said. There will be 200-plus vendors selling traps, lures and accessories, often at discounted prices.
The convention isn't just about the nuts and bolts of the sport, though, or even just about trapping, Eckels said. There will be all kinds of gear, from turkey calls to dog supplies, on sale, along with crafts, and demonstrations on non-trapping skills, such as Dutch oven cooking.
In keeping with the event's theme of “sharing the tradition,” there also will be family-oriented games, contests and activities. One popular booth allows visitors to make their own fur hat. There's also a shot put-like event called the “skillet throw,” where women can compete to see who can heave a cast iron skillet the farthest.
Then there's the “mountain man” race. It pits state association directors against one another in a course that changes from year to year.
“It usually involves getting wet or muddy somehow,” Eckels said with a laugh. “It's usually a lot more fun for the people watching it than for the directors running it.”
Trappers from across the country likely are to attend. Eckels is expecting 5,000 to 7,000 people.
“There are people who make this convention their vacation and travel every year to wherever it's held, so we're looking forward to having it here,” Eckels said.