Black Bear Re-Introduction

Speaking of Trappers!

Trappers Contribute

During the past half-century trappers throughout North America have become organized through their provincial, territorial, state and national trapping organizations.

They have demonstrated their desire to manage wildlife, while striving to use the most effective and humane methods possible. Despite the meagre return trappers get for their efforts, they have willingly contributed toward the millions spent on modern day trapping equipment research, testing & development.

Meanwhile, “animal rights extremists” groups have milked millions from people who are falsely led to believe that the worst-case scenario is the norm. Yet not one thin dime from these groups is earmarked toward conservation or continuous improvement of modern day fur harvesting methods.

Trappers are among the “true caretakers of nature”. They deserve due credit, public support and the opportunity to get on with what they do best, “watching and working with our natural resources.”

The former OTA (Ontario Trappers Association) working in partnership with the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) spent 4 years (1984-1988) and approx. $500, 000.00, dollars producing the book considered to be the “Bible” on furbearer management (1168 pages, 849 colour illustrations). The book titled “Wild Furbearer Management and Conservation in North America” (ISBN 0-7743-9365-3) was a sell out. The entire first printing (5000 copies) sold in the first year.

For various reasons the book was never reprinted, however is now available on CD ROM. Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF) currently represents the interests of Ontario trappers; also they market the CD ROM through their online store. (See FoF Links Page). If you are serious about learning the many true facts about trapping and the fur trade, this CD is a must, please check it out, will make an excellent gift, especially at Christmas.

Eldon Hawton 

Animal Rights Activism; Systematic Genocide or just another method of Assimilation?

My Dodem (spirit name) is Mahigan. It means Wolf. It is who I am.

I have been asked if trapping is still an important part to Aboriginal people’s income and culture. Firstly, I will refer to the original people of this land as what they called themselves prior to European contact, Anishnabae, it simply means the people. Secondly, I am not going to get into statistics and figures. I will discuss why trapping is important, and always will be , for me. I do not intend to pretend that I can do justice to a culture that has been on this land (Turtle Island) for countless generations in a few minutes. Here is my story.

Murray Monk (Part 1) 

Some wise person once said that, "there are three types of people in the world; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened."

Trapper Murray Monk "makes things happen".

Aside from his fishing, hunting and trapping expertise, Murray Monk is a leader; he played a key role working with a group of like-minded trappers, in the formation of Ontario Fur Managers Federation (OFMF). Murray served Ontario trappers as the founding President and currently is Vice President, Northwest Region.

Murray also helped establish the Canadian National Trappers Alliance (CNTA) and serves as their President. He is also a director of the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC).

Murray & his wife Becky basically live off the land, their income is from; fur sales, custom skinning, sale of firewood, vegetable sales and hand made fur products by Becky (Wild Fur Expressions). Email

The following are a few of Murray's interesting thoughts that he has written and submitted for FoF publication. Friends of Fur are very pleased to share these "thoughts from the wilderness of Northern Ontario" with you.


Please Listen to the Animals

The following is a true story. Caught up in the hectic life of the G.T.A. and southern Ontario in general at the age of thirty-four, I was contemplating a change.

I was born and raised on a farm just north of Hanover, which I left to work for the T. Eaton Co., and then went on to ten years in the restaurant business. I knew life was too short to waste in the rat race.

Sitting in my restaurant one Sunday morning reading the Toronto Sun is where this story begins. A big, full colour page story in the Outdoor section read that the Nipigon River was the home of the world’s largest speckled trout, and every year the Molson award winner seemed to come from this river. Being an avid fisherman I had to go and investigate. Packing my bags off I went, and found a home, found a job and the rest is history. When not in the bush, my home is still along Highway 11/17, R.R. #1, Nipigon. All this, thanks to a trout.

The fishing was even better than the Sun paper had depicted. Every lake, river and stream had fish, fish and more fish with to my surprise, few to no anglers. It remains that way to this day. The locals call it busy, but they have not seen busy like the Owen Sound Harbour, Lake Simcoe or the Saugeen River.

Hunting soon out shone the fishing, with moose, bear and deer to track. The first fall, pursuit of a large bull moose lead me to moose heaven just north of what is now my main trap cabin, where I spend most of the year. It was originally owned by an old trapper named Joe. He took a liking to me, and my two tag-along sons, Nate and Luke. I became a helper with Joe, and his wife on the trap line. After gaining the necessary points I bought the line and the rest is history again. All this thanks to a moose.

Four years ago Becky came from her farm just southeast of Lindsay, and trapping in southern Ontario, to be my 02 helper, and my wife. She is an excellent helper I must say. Quit is a word not in her vocabulary. With a love for the stars, her array of telescopes perched atop the Canadian Shield outside our cabin door, allow us to explore the wonders of the universe with no light pollution. Her knowledge of the rocks and minerals below us, and her prospector’s license leads us into the next part of this story.

Last year while trapping beaver we were lured by foot over some god forsaken territory to its house, and on the way came across a large bare outcrop of rock with mineral rich veins, larger than any leading to ones heart. These rich quartz veins held showings of gold, silver and copper. It remains our greatest find to date. All this, thanks to the beaver.

To top the continuing saga up, this spring, again pursuing beaver, took us to yet another part of the wilderness, where we literally walked over an artesian well, water springing from yet another rock outcrop. Becky, in checking the prospector’s archives, found it was a failed drill. Other prospectors in pursuit of gold, forty-seven years ago had abandoned the bore at 499 feet when they hit the water vein. Now that magical, mystical hole in the rock has been running water in excess of a gallon a minute for all those years.

One day this spring just past a beaver took us in there and the well has been giving us the coldest, best spring water for our daily use ever since.

Now in summing up, remember the role, over the past twenty-three years the love and respect for fish wild life have played. The speckled trout brought me to Nipigon, the bull moose took me to the trapline, and a beaver led us to our best mineral find, and yet another beaver led us to the well.

Along with the large gardens we plant, the abundance of fish and wildlife feed and clothe us and we have to ask, “How much better can it get?”

This great land is truly heaven on earth.

With respect for nature,
Murray Monk


Murray Monk  (Part 2)

The title could be written as, “A Happy Ontario Trapper”, thanks to the efforts of the OFMF. We have achieved so much with the business relationship with the OMNR. Thanks to several OMNR employees and most of the Ministers ( you know who you are); it is truly my belief we have achieved a level of trapping unsurpassed in any other province or territory in this country.

My wife and I moved into our trap cabin over a year ago with the advent of our trap cabin expansion, giving us now 600 square feet and the two out buildings of 200 square feet each, and don’t forget the nice privy which makes living here comfortable and possible. One of the out buildings is dry storage. The other out building is a state of the art skinning and pelt preparation area along with a work bench and in the off season it’s used as a wood working shop. The state of the art part came with the lift hoist and pelt puller I purchased from Matt Duncan, who displayed it at the Shallow Lake convention. What a great helper to lift those heavy old Timber Wolves. The adjustable clamping device turns the hard to pull otter inside out in minutes and it works for even the smaller furbearers like squirrels, weasels, marten, lynx, fox and fisher. It holds them at a comfortable height to work on and adjusts up and down with the push of a button. We installed an array of solar panels on a sun seeker, which along with the wind power generator, feed the battery bank. The inverter system gives us all the power we need. This system runs all our lights, ‘fridge, freezer, radios and Becky’s sewing machines, washing machine, vacuum, household appliances, and my power tools. Of course, not all at once! We have two satellite dishes mounted on the outside cabin wall, one for Xplornet high speed internet which is also our Babytel. VOiP (voice over internet) satellite phone and the other is Star Choice for my television viewing of Leno, Letterman, the news and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

For equipment, other than traps etcetera to trap this 200 square miles we have seven canoes, five boats, two Tundra Skidoos and one slush puppy, a paddle track RMK to power across the lakes in less than ideal winter conditions. During the snow free time of the year we run a 500 Honda Rubicon quad and our most helpful tool, the Kubota 900 RTV. Four wheel drive, diesel, hydraulic dump box – what I call my little truck. It also pulls the 57” cut brush hog along rough trails making it possible to keep them open for vehicle passage. The day of trapping with snowshoes and an axe is no more, partly because of the vast areas to travel, caused in part by the tree harvesting practises.

The biggest plus in being able to live here is to manage our trap ground year round and to observe the populations of fur bearers not only in the open season. Never before has it been affordable to watch the tracks and habits of the marten, before and after the season, and this is only one example. We’ve been able to watch the moose and deer populations and their battle with the severe winter conditions. We also watched the movements of their major predators, the bears and wolves. We saw the bird migrations; the population of rabbits change coats and saw the grouse population go into the set at the end of May. We will see the young shortly, the result of the hatch. We can see, are able to monitor, the success of the fisheries as well. We can be the eyes and ears of the MNR for illegal activities like poaching and garbage left behind, just to name two. The future for all Ontario citizens is a healthy and consistently maintained Crown Land.

Our main cabin is located close to dead center of the trap line. From mid June through October it is 4WD accessible. In the winter we have a 52km driveway. Even with the snow just gone the truck is parked 20km south of here. In other words, at any time, slipping into town is a real chore. We stock up on groceries, and Becky bakes so I don’t have to eat green bread any more. The facts of life according to Al Gore and David Suzuki, Global Warming, are BULL. We face reality. This past winter we had extremely long periods of temperatures below minus thirty degrees. (-30*) and had forty inches of ice to drill through to get wash water from the lake. Now you ladies think of Becky when you go to your laundry rooms in mid-winter. She’s going down to the lake on her Skidoo, pulling the sleigh, to fill eight 5 gallon pails with water, bring them back up to the cabin, pour them into the reservoir tank on the wood stove to heat the water, and then out of the tank and into the wringer washing machine. That’s before the clothes washing and rinsing routine even starts. (good thing she loves me or I’d have to buy a lot more clothes) The reason there is no below the frost line water system to the lake is that we can’t get below the bed rock we sit on. Top soil here is a rare commodity with depths ranging from zero to ten inches. We’re looking at one of the sealed, self draining, systems but fur prices will have to improve a lot more to make that possible over and above our fuel costs.

Drinking water is no problem as we have a continuous, over flowing well out of an abandoned 1950’s drill core that hit an aquifer. The only problem is the location which, while still on the trap line, is 14km south east of the cabin. We head down there in winter with the sleighs and after break up with the Kubota and eight blue water jugs. We fill them in a matter of minutes and then turn around and head home again. We wish this water source was directly under the cabin as it would solve all of our water issues. As you can see this is a demanding and rough lifestyle but we love it!

This trap line policy allows us to share our chosen lifestyle with others. We can show people how we live and trap. Trappers from all over the province, people from both auction houses, ministry staffers, MNR officials and even a past Minister have all experienced a piece of this. I even had the opportunity at a meeting in Winnipeg to invite Liz White from the Animal Alliance to come and see what it is she thinks she knows so much about first hand. She declined the invitation, saying it was June and she didn’t think she could kill the wings with teeth that would be active in the bush. One of our greatest joys has been watching the experience of life in the boreal forest, high on the Canadian Shield, unfold before our summer students from the southern parts of the province. These young men are the future of trapping.

I turned sixty-three today and you’ll notice elsewhere in the magazine I have resigned as of the August convention. After serving this Federation from its beginning as President, then Past President, and now as the Northwest Region Vice-President I chose not to seek re-election. God willing, Becky and I will have many years of good health to enjoy what the OFMF has attained for us. My only hope is the future President, Executive Board and the full Board of Directors, including the assistants, will carry on the fight if for nothing other than to maintain the beautiful life style we enjoy today. We look at our staff and the board as the best it can get. I would like you to take a moment to think about where trappers would be without the OFMF.

Take a look at the pictures. As the old saying goes, “a picture’s worth a thousand words”.

If you’re in this neck of the woods, or have any questions, call or email us as we love to talk trapping. The number at the cabin is 905-698-0470 and the email address is:

Thanks to everyone including our mentors who have gone on before us.

In trapping forever