Convention Report – By Bill Zak

The 50th Saskatchewan Trappers Association Annual General Meeting & Convention was held in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, March 15, 16 and 17. Being the 50th anniversary of the STA the 15th and 16th were dedicated to the convention. Sunday morning the 17th was dedicated to the AGM. Over the two days we had an excellent turnout, with over 300 attending.

Jim Cragg oversaw activities for children both days. Activities involved BB gun shoot, martin box assembly, animal track impressions; All those that participated in the BB gun shoot were eligible for the BB gun draw. Karen Gordon also looked after the children’s picture coloring contest. It’s amazing how entertaining and intensive these events can become.

Friday morning at 09:00 the convention started off with Mel Stocking from Manitoba giving an informative and entertaining demonstration on martin skinning and pelt handling on the forming board. Though being early in the morning the bleachers and chairs were shortly filled up with only standing room left, thanks Mel.

Wrangler Hamm the STA president and MC then gave greeting and an introduction to the day’s events. This was followed by Marty Senneker from Alberta with an informative seminar on the history, success, improvements and proper setup and placement of the Senneker snare system. All trappers were riveted to the presentation.

At lunch an emotional tribute was paid to the resent passing of Vern Studer. I believe there was a lump in everyone’s throat that knew Vern. He was a long time Director from the far north for Regions 1, 2, 3 and 5, he will be missed for years to come.

After lunch Jim Luthi gave a presentation and displayed his impressive and extensive lifelong collection of antique traps. Jim shared with the trappers his knowledge of the workings and history and development of traps.
After the presentation trappers left with an appreciation of trap collecting and trap development.

After a short break this was followed by a muskrat trapping presentation from AJ Callbeck from Edmonton Alberta. AJ traps thousands of muskrats and the presentation revealed what it takes to turn out the numbers and quality pelts.

Following supper Gordy Klassen gave a presentation on his experiences in Israel instructing and trapping wolves. This was followed by a seminar on the basics of being a successful wolf trapper. I believe there wasn’t anyone in the assembly that wanted the presentation to end.

Saturday morning started off with Shelia Schmutz giving a hands on demonstration on Needle Felting, this was well received by the ladies.

Floyd Hendrickson our education coordinator from Margo SK delivered a flawless demonstration on coyote skinning and proper boarding.

Following Floyd, AJ Callbeck gave an enlightening presentation on Lynx trapping. There is always a lot to be learnt from a trapper that turns out the numbers.

Shortly before lunch there was a video message from Premier Scot Moe and Minister Dustin Duncan. MLA Fred Bradshaw also gave a presentation. After lunch presentations were made by the Mayor Rob Muench and Chamber of Commerce president Don Fitzpatrick of Humboldt. Mike Gollup from the Ministry of Environment attended the convention for two days and mingled with the crowed talking to trappers. Mike also did a power point presentation on fur harvest numbers in Saskatchewan.

After lunch Pierre Canac-Marquis from Quebec representing the Fur Institute of Canada gave an attentive presentation on their research station at Vegreville, Alberta. Followed by details of testing different snare systems being used in Canada. Later in the afternoon to prove he could skin with the best of them Pierre demonstrated both rough and clean skinning a beaver.

Dave Bewick and Jim Luthi conducted the judging for fur and the wolf handling contest. There was an excellent selection of fur with only fractions separating winners. Score cards were attached to the pelts and any imperfections were pointed to the contestants to review. To surmise the quality of the pelts denote winners in Saskatchewan would grade high anywhere in Canada.

To standing room only AJ Callbeck demonstrated how to properly skin out of a cougar head and paws. Following this AJ demonstrated on how to skin out a lynx for mounting. As you can surmise we made good use of AJ’s expertise, thanks AJ.

Following this the coyote speed skinning contest concluded the convention activities. Times from first to third were, 2minutes 32 seconds, 3 minutes and 5 minutes. Names are in the fur competition list.

Saturday evening the STA banquet was held at the Bella Vista. Following the delightful banquet awards were handed out for fur handling, photo contest, largest beaver tail and guessing the weight of a beaver at the convention. This was followed by a fur fashion show. All models were trappers and their families. Even Wrangler Hamm and AJ Callbeck were out strutting fur apparel on the floor. Stunning Canadian and international furs were provided by North American Auctions. Festivities then continued with the live auction. The auctioneer was Alvin Alyea a past president and honorary life time member. True to form Alvin provided an entertaining evening. After the banquet the revelry continued into the hospitality room till the wee hours, to say the least everyone enjoyed themselves.

As a very special acknowledgement during the banquet Dave Bewick was awarded the C. Irwin McIntosh award. Dave was recognized for years of dedicated work in the fur industry both for Dominion Sudack and then North American Auctions. Dave was also recognized for his assistance to the STA at its inception in 1969.

Sunday morning started with some bleary looking trappers. After a breakfast buffy the AGM started at 09:00. The first order of business were 6 resolutions and 1 constitutional revision. Four resolutions passed and the constitutional revision.

Intern Administrator Karen Gordon gave a detailed financial report. Some cost cutting measures and steps that were taken to increase STA revenue were addressed.

Floyd Hendrickson gave a report on the education program. There were 276 students that passed the Saskatchewan Humane Trapping Certification program in 2018. A map was displayed that pointed out locations of the training courses, sport shows, school presentations, park and tradeshows.

There was discussions on free hanging snares. The traceability program was also discussed.

In summary two full days of convention initially seemed like a daunting task. It took hours of dedicated organizing and recruitment of presenters by the executive. Presenters graciously gave their time to deliver a program that would have been the envy of any trapping organization. Volunteers stepped up to the plate. Without them it would have been very difficult to deliver the program. Without donations for raffles, silent auctions, line draws and vendors the convention would not have been financially feasible. Due to your contribution we as trappers and supporters of the organization can walk prouder with heads held higher, thank you.