Tuesday, January 3, 2012


These coyote pelts will be heading somewhere.
I know for many, today, January 3rd is the end of the holiday season and time to get back to the grind of everyday work. So it is for me, as well, but my job this week is somewhat unusual.

Friday is the day I need to meet the fur trucks.

A part of the pelts I harvest on my trap line go to NAFA (North American Fur Auction). Founded by the Hudson Bay Company, now independent, trappers from across the country harvest their pelts and ship them to NAFA, take them to drop-off depots or meet with NAFA reps as they drive routes through each state. NAFA schedules periodic auctions and sells the furs to buyers from around the world.

In my case, the drop-off depot is in northeastern Indiana, a good two hour drive away. Mailing pelts - especially big raccoons and coyote furs - is expensive and cumbersome. The NAFA agent for Illinois makes a stop just off I-57 near Kankakee, Illinois, only about 40 miles away so I'll take them there. He only shows up twice a season and Friday is his last trip.

Into the fur truck.
Later that evening a truck from the Groenwald Fur and Wool Company will make a stop at Rensselaer, IN about 15 miles from my home. The GFWCo truck schedules routes throughout the upper Midwest, making scheduled stops at regular intervals to purchase pelts from fur harvesters in that region. GFWCo comes only 3 times a season and Friday is his second route through my area.

At this truck, you offer the pelts you have for sale, the Groenwald buyer sorts them to size and quality and then offers their going rate. Say you have a cross-section of sizes and quality of 20 raccoons. The buyer might pile them into 4 stacks and then say, “You’ve got 3 at 25, 4 at 18, 9 at 12 and 4 at six dollars.”  You then have the option of accepting all, some or none of his bids.

So my week will be devoted to getting my harvest stacked and sacked, deciding which one’s to sell at auction and which one’s to sell directly to the buyer. In the end, I’ll have earned a few dollars - just like millions of other Americans trading their time, skills and energy for money.

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