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Gary Howey

INDUCTED INTO THE
NATIONAL FRESHWATER FISHING
HALL OF FAME
” IN 2017

What’s Happened to the Fur Market By gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

February 25, 2022

Beaver, are continually building and creating dams to back up the water, allowing them to construct their dens underwater along the shoreline or to build a beaver lodge. (Contributed Photo)

   When I was younger, at home in Watertown, South Dakota, trapping was one of my favorite pass times, never caught a whole lot, mainly muskrats and an occasional mink.

  Back then, fur prices were pretty low, with the fur buyers grading furs pretty hard, but we made a few bucks, which kept our interest in trapping alive and well.

  Trapping is a lot of work, which includes getting your traps and equipment ready, establishing a trap line, putting out your traps as well as having to check them each day which involves getting up at daybreak to check them and returning before the sun sets to check them again. 

  Over the years, I continued to trap after moving to Nebraska when fur prices were still decent,

 but because of the low prices paid for fur over the last several years, my trapping gear is in the shed.

  The other morning while having coffee at Donna’s in Wynot, we started talking about fur prices, which now are at an all-time low, which means very few individuals waste their time and gas going after fur bearers.

   Two of the guys I have coffee with, trapped heavily when fur prices were decent and did fairly well sending their finished hides north to the auction houses.

  Fur buyers look each fur over carefully, grading each one and if they aren’t prime, have their heavy winter fur, had rubbed, started breeding or afflicted with the mange, they wouldn’t take them.

  Over the last several years, the fur market has continued to drop, with the fur buyers getting stuck with furs that couldn’t sell at auction.

  When trapping season was under way, at one time we had at least three fur buyers coming to Hartington, now were lucky to get one coming to town in January, now the only buyer stops in O’Neill, Nebraska.

   A year or so ago, there were a several fur auctions houses in Canada, holding fur auctions three or four times a year, selling the furs to buyers from throughout the world, with buyers from several countries including China, Greece, Italy, Russia and Korea. and others.

  Several years ago, fur prices began to drop, and with hunters and trappers believing the prices would be about the same as the year before, hunters and trappers out after fur bearers.

   Those trappers and hunters who finished out their hides, skinning and scarping them, shipped their pelts to the fur auction houses in Canada, where they were stored for the next auction, with the huge number of the furs not selling, having to be held over for the next auction.

   Then the pandemic, Covid hit, shutting down international travel, not allowing the big fur buyers from overseas, to get to Canada for the fur auction.

   Because of these factors, the largest auction house in Canada, the North American Fur Auctions, (NFAA), formerly the Hudson Bay company, the largest consignment fur auction house in North America, and the second largest in the world that auctioned off furs harvested in Canada and the United States.

  Because of those things mentioned above, the auction house filed for creditor protection, similar to our Chapter 11 bankruptcy, eliminating one of the biggest auction houses.

  Studies by experts who’ve followed and reported on fur prices over the years, indicated they’d never seen anything remotely like this, with the seemingly endless global pandemic, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty dealing a pretty heavy blow to an already lower market.

  What the fur prices are going to be this next year, could be any bodies guess, and if they continue to decline could virtually destroy the fur market.

  There is only so much habitat and because the excess furbearers weren’t removed, these excess number of animals will now be competing for what little habitat and food there is, throwing off the balance of nature, which leads to disease and starvation.

  The increased population of predators will put more pressure on our upland game birds, turkeys, fawns and other critters, decreeing their population with all of these factors, being a plan for disaster in the outdoors.

  Hunters and trappers will still go out for furbearers but won’t be running large trap lines or hunting predators often, until they find out what the furs will bring, then avoiding fur bearers with low prices to go after the few furbearers that pay more.

Listed below are the last Canada auction fur prices for “finished furs” that may be offered for furs in 2022.

COYOTES

The only bright side is that the heavy western coyotes may bring $50.00,

 while Eastern coyotes are worth much less.

MUSKRATS

 Prices for muskrats should remain about the same as last year running around $3.00 with a potential for up to $5.00.

 Mink

 Very little interest.

 RACCOONS

 The best quality pelts – the largest sizes, lighter colored fully prime raccoons with undamaged fur may bring $6.50, with lower quality furs not selling at all.

BEAVER

 Top-quality large dark beaver pelt s could bring $25.00, with most beaver averaging $10.00.

BEAVER CASTOR

 Beaver scent glands, used to make beaver attractant, if there dried could bring $100.00 per pound.

BOBCATS

The best western cats, those with the best colors and spots may bring $70.00 with the lower grade bobcats bringing $40.00 to $50.00.

RED & GREY FOX

 There is very little interest in fox pelts, they’ll average around $10.00.

SKUNKS

That are used in a specialty market, will bring from $4.00 To $3.50

  The prices quoted above are for finished pelts, those skinned and stretched and unless things get back to normal before this year’s fur buying season, these prices may even be lower.

  Fur buyers that may buy the animals in carcass won’t pay the prices I’ve mentioned as the pelts still need to be skinned and stretched before going to auction.

  Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award- winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster and in 2017 was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.”

  Howey is also an award-winning writer, producer, broadcaster, former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide and in 2017 inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”.

 He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. He’s the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa.  If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’soutdoors.com , and www.outdoorsmenadventures.com, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.

 

 

 

 

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