Gary Tredinnick opened Mountain Top Outdoorsman, just one year ago and he’s already found a market to cater to, in addition to hunters and shooters.
Tredinnick found that there was a demand for trapping supplies as well. Last week, he stocked his shelves with traps, lure and other equipment and placed signs outside advertising his supplies.
“Since we put the signs out it’s driven traffic to us,” Tredinnick said from his shop that sits off of Route 309. “There is interest.”
Tredinnick’s store is one of several in the area that has augmented its basic stock of hunting and fishing supplies with traps and trapping equipment. They’ve done it despite low fur prices that should be driving interest down and would seemingly be making stocking trapping supplies a risky business venture.
But there are other reasons other than money that motivates trappers.
Paul Scavone, owner of J&S Sporting Goods in Wilkes-Barre Township, began stocking trapping supplies several years ago when fur prices were higher.
But as prices for pelts waned, interest in the sport has remained strong, he said.
“There are a lot of people that realize the damage that furbearers can do, especially with coyotes on the deer herd,” Scavone said. “Guys are turning to trapping as a way to try to control coyote numbers.”
Barry Warner, who serves as the public relations director for the Pennsylvania Trapper’s Association, said he’s surprised that the business end of trapping has remained strong during a prolonged period of low fur prices. Still, Warner said, the fact that sporting goods stores are stocking trapping supplies is proof that interest in the sport hasn’t decreased.
“I’m happy these stores are selling trapping supplies. It keeps the sport in the eye of sportsmen and sportswomen,” Warner said. “Trapping is a very critical element of wildlife management that needs to be done. How many rabbits, grouse and ground-nesting birds would we have if not for trapping?”
Still, Warner cautioned that although traps and trapping supplies can be purchased at sporting goods stores, it still takes a bit of expertise to use it all properly. Traps bought off the shelf often need to be modified with a stronger base plate and offset jaws if they are to be used for coyote, he said. And simply buying gear and running a line without any experience can often lead to a frustrating experience with little success.
“The chances of a stock trap that hasn’t been modified holding an adult coyote are slim,” Warner said. “It’s important to talk to an experienced trapper before buying something and finding out it’s not what works.”
Scavone has trapping experience and he sells lures made by Pete Rickard’s in Galeton, the same lures he used when he began trapping years ago.
Tredinnick said he’s new to the sport and is considering holding trapping seminars for his customers, hosted by his lure supplier from Dupont.
While most of Tredinnick’s customers are looking for supplies to trap fox, raccoon and bobcat, he said he intends to expand his line in the future.
“The low prices are a concern but it’s clear there is still interest,” Tredinnick said. “I had one guy who came in to buy a few things because he is teaching his grandson.
“If there’s something a trapper wants us to carry, we welcome that input.”
Scavone said demand for trapping supplies picks up in late October and early November, just before furs become prime and trapping activity picks up. There’s another spike in business in December, Scavone said, when trappers get ready for the start of mink, muskrat and beaver season.
“The weather dictates what guys do. The milder the winter is, the better the business will be for trapping supplies,” Scavone said. “People are asking for this, and the fact that people come back consistently to buy items every year tells you it’s a strong market.”
Warner added that relatively new seasons for bobcat, fisher and otter are also driving interest in trapping and giving stores a reason to stock supplies.
“I attribute it to the additional opportunities that are out there,” he said, adding a recent trapper training school hosted by District 9 of the trapper’s association attracted 44 students.
“Despite low fur prices, the interest in trapping has remained constant for years.”