By: Bears Butt


I took this picture the other morning and thought it worth while sharing on here…just because.  It was a beautiful “moment” that morning and Winemaker said I was going to be too late to get the picture….I’m glad I didn’t listen to her and not grab the camera.  It was gone as quickly as it appeared.  It looks sort of like a dog playing alongside someone doing a backstroke in a pool…my wild imagination.

Another wild thing is my computer.  After just a little over a week, I have gotten accustomed to it so much I’m not sure I could go back to the old Windows type.  It is “instant on” when I hit a key.  It remembers where I was when I was on it last and goes right to the spot.  It demands little attention and never asks if I really mean I hit a key, except delete…it does ask me about that one.  It is very forgiving when I hit the wrong key on the keyboard, mostly because it doesn’t seem to have all the same keys the old keyboard has.  The keyboard is smaller too and it works just fine for my smaller than normal hands and fingers.

I came with a photo program already to go, just upload a picture and go to town fixing it if you want…all the saves and renames and things have had to be learned but the learning curve was short.  I have used the office programs quite a bit updating the records for the farm and drafting letters and spreadsheets for the trapping year and everything went better than I expected.

Am I happy with it?  ABSOLUTELY!  And if anyone out there is looking to upgrade…and I mean UPGRADE from your old Windows based unit to a Apple type, I highly recommend an iMac computer.  Yes more money, but a lot less headaches and I’m certain there are tons of things going on in the background that I don’t have a clue are going on.

Definitely “Bears Butt Approved”!


Bears Butt

March 23, 3014

Written on March 23rd, 2014 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt


It would not be right not to publish this picture of some of our friends, from close left, moving back and then to the right:

Wapiti Dung “Mountain Man Extraordinaire”, Plumb Dog, Fat Duck, Edjukateer, Tracker, Bones and Sara (no name…YET!)

They are enjoying an annual trip to somewhere we all like to go on occasion…let’s just call it…”outareality”!

Well, they happened to pick the right machine and put in the right amount of money to make it pay and they WON!  And WON BIG!  Good on them and I hope this wasn’t the only jackpot they enjoyed!  It would have been very fun to be with them, but this was not to be for this old man and his bride.  Next time!

So, you see, it CAN happen!  Maybe it will be you next time!  YEAAA!  For them!!!  Double down on Sixes!  Enjoy and have a safe ride home!

Bears Butt

March 23, 2014

Written on March 23rd, 2014 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt
DAILY CATCH OF RATS PaidBrek PDMav     PDMav          
11-Feb 6       11 1 Raccoon   1 1 Raccoon 0    
12 6       11     2   0    
13 8       6 1 Raccoon/1Skunk       0    
14 7       11 1 skunk/1hawk       3    
15 10       20 2 skunk       0    
DATE   Sunday $61.00     Sunday       2    
17 24       20 1 Raccoon       1    
18 19       18         0    
19 0       0         0    
20 20       27 3 Raccoon       0    
21 17       15 1 Raccoon       0    
22 10       22 1 Raccoon       0 1 Fox  
23   Sunday $122.50     Sunday     Pulled Traps   Sunday  
24 14     $20.00 20 1skunk       1   4
25 9       11   $5.00     0   1
26 14       14 1skunk       0  
27 12       3 1 skunk       0    
28 12       24         0    
1-Mar 9       31         1 +one eaten  
2   Sunday $30.00     Sunday       0    
3 14       14 1Raccoon/1Skunk       0 1 Raccoon  
4 7       17         1    
5 11       7         0    
6 4       5         0    
7 11       10         0    
8 2       12         1    
9   Sunday       Sunday       0    
10 9       13         0    
11 3       6         0    
12 2       2         0    
13 6       16         0    
14 5       3         0    
15 5 Pulled Traps     3 Pulled Traps       0 Pulled Traps  
16   SundayTrapping Over                    
17 341   372 9 coons/8 skunks 3 1 Coon 10 1coon/1fox 5
TOTAL RATS 731 46.60%   50.89%   0.40%   1.37%   0.68%
  Bob Paid Out $213.50 $20.00 Wynn Paid Out $5.00    
    Total Paid Out $238.50     Total Paid Out $5.00          

And so you can see from this spreadsheet that our work involves more than just trapping, it involves record keeping in order to keep all the partners informed and everything above board.  So often I have read stories about how trapping partners of the past have come to odds over things that probably should not have caused them to split up.  By keeping accurate records and making those records known to all the people involved only makes for good relationships.

More than this record, I have created a “Trespass permission slip” to be signed by the land owner involved for the 2014-2015 trapping season and before the summer is out, signatures will be obtained by those land owners for our trapping next year.  Without going to this degree, those land owners can grant permission to the next trapper that comes along and there is nothing you nor I could do about it.  The biggest thing, is to make sure the land owner feels a part of your trapping success and make it easy for them to “sign on the dotted line”.  In the case of our biggest stake holder, is he wanted some raccoons caught as well as the muskrats and we did a pretty good job for him in that regard…not to count the skunks!

Letters to the various land owners have also been generated and will be dispersed, either through personal contact with the land owners, or through the mail.  Those letters usually explain when we started to set traps on their properties, when we stopped trapping and how many animals we caught.  Also, side notes as to the condition of their property and whether you feel your trapping services are needed or not.  If you feel your services are still needed, make certain to include in your mailing (or in person) an easy to sign trespass permission slip, dated for the next trapping season and include a self addressed stamped envelope.

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Thank you once again for allowing me to trap on your great club properties.

My muskrat trapping season began on February 10 this year as the ice was beginning to move away from the heads of the Springs. Both my brother Bob and I had high hopes that this would be a record breaking year for catching rats. However, as the season progressed we found out otherwise. Other trappers in the area were finding out the same thing on their lines.

As it turned out, Spring came early in the swamps.

My normal routine for muskrat trapping is to start on Pete Holmgrens properties and then move out to the Promontory area where I end the season. This year brought a change as Richard Nicholas was holding his bulls in another area while I had time to trap the small seep that crosses through where he usually keeps them. I decided that while I was out on the Promontory mountain I’d trap Steve Peterson’s and the pond at Doris Larson’s. While there, Mr. Nicholas secured my trespass on the property adjacent to Doris’ on the South. The water from Doris’s pond runs down through his place and holds rats that come up stream to populate the pond.

Catch rates for the past few years have been like this:

Doris’ pond: 2013 = 1 rat, 2014 = 12 rats

Adjacent property to Doris’: 2014 = 12 rats

Richard Nicholas place: 2014 = 53 rats

Stephen Peterson’s: 2012 = 29 rats, 2013 = 106 rats, 2014 = 24 rats

The large expanse of Club 41 was a complete surprise. My catch for this area was very low. Historically: 2012 = 139 rats

2013 = 194 rats (with a helper)

2014 = 24 rats

It’s very understandable the downward direction of the catch on Mr. Peterson’s place as it is an isolated spring with little or no rats moving in from other areas. Catching all the rats out of there is totally possible. As is the area where Richard Nicholas keeps his bulls.

Doris’ pond and the downstream area will always have rats coming up from the GLS and the springs found in close proximity.

However, your Club properties have changed so much in the past couple of years what with my catching as many rats as I have, you draining the larger ponds and the fact that there is little for the rats to eat, the problem with rats that you have had is now a thing of the past. I have said all along you can never get rid of all the muskrats, but you can control the population and this is where your club is today.

I can still see a need to trap Mr. Nicholas’ place, at least one more season and of course Doris’ pond should always have traps placed on it to control those little diggers.

As for the rest of your property and Mr. Peterson’s, I don’t think there is a need for my services on those areas for several years to come.

Please keep my name and number handy in case things change and you feel you need me to come back for more control work.

Again, Thank You very much for the opportunity to trap on your club!

Very Sincerely,

Wynn “Bears Butt” Zundel

145 W. 200 N.

Willard, Ut 84340 435-723-6462


Check out my website.


Send to: Bob W. Foxley 708 33rd St. Ogden Ut 84403

Along with the key he sent (2014)


The key points in all of this is to keep all lines of communication open for everyone involved and do it in writing.  Make sure to be business-like in all your dealings with the landowners and at every chance, make sure you pick up debris you find along your trapping routes.  I even like to fix a fence or two while I’m out and about.  It generally only takes a minute with existing materials found at the sight and makes the landowner know you really care.

Bears Butt

March 22, 2014

Written on March 22nd, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

frustratedhackerFor the past two full weeks the hackers have been trying their best to get into Bears Butt dot Com and take it over.  Weasel has protected the site so well, the watch dogs over the sites security is having a very fun time banning their IP (Internet Protocol address’) from even accessing the site even just to read the stories.  I love it!  Literally hundreds of attacks in the past couple of weeks or so.  It almost seems like it has become an obsession to them!  What I have to say to them is they might as well go attack the IRS site…they ain’t gettin into this one!

Weasel is the Fort Knox of internet security and I thank him dearly for putting up such a firewall of hoops and motes for them to have to go through to get in…they will drown trying and the alligators will eat their remains.

It sure makes you wonder just what it is that they want to get into the site for.  It’s not like they will gain anything from it and if they could post up some stupid thing it would just be deleted from the site and life would go on.  Dummies.

Bears Butt

March 21, 2014

Written on March 21st, 2014 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

This video was produced by a local guy who has the web site “lone tree survival”.  He sells a lot of way good stuff that everyone who does much at all in the outdoors needs.  Check it out!

Bears Butt
March 20, 2014

Written on March 20th, 2014 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt


Just like the lucky rat that got through this trap, we are very fortunate trappers.  We kept a running catch record as we went along on our daily trapping adventures and when we got back to the skinning shed, we each recorded our day’s catch.  The spreadsheet is interesting to look at.  We have to keep track of not only the daily catches, but also the daily/weekly outlay of cash and who paid what to whom.  Bob paid almost all of the pay out in order to keep it as simple as it could be, but it ends up being quite a burden before it’s all over.  He will be paid back (his half) when we finally get a paycheck from the auction house, but until then, he is stuck with the bill.

Here is how things totaled for the season:

Bob  341 rats (46.6%), Bears Butt 372 rats (50.89%) plus 9 raccoons (let’s not talk about the 8 skunks), Brek 3 rats (.4%) plus one raccoon, Weasel 10 rats (1.37%) plus one raccoon and one fox.  We also purchased another trappers rats (5 total, at .68%) and they are included in our total rat catch of 731 rats!  A very good year of trapping for a couple of old guys and a couple of young guys who didn’t have much area to trap.  The mileage on my toy’s speedometer reads 67 miles…that is how much ground I covered while trapping.

Last night we finished putting the remainder of the rats up on stretchers and now it’s just allow them to dry while we wait for the time to meet with the guy who picks up the furs for the auction.  In the background we are hearing from others how a local buyer is going to make Bob and offer of a pretty good sum for our rats, little does he know, we have committed to each other that we are sending them off to the auction and that it would take a heck of an offer to change our minds….a heck of an offer, one he is not going to make.  It will be interesting when he hears about our intentions.

Most of the local trappers are content with “getting the shaft” from the local buyers because it means they get their money right now and don’t have to wait for a few months to get paid for all their work.  That’s OK, we did it for years and years and were happy about it.  I hate the hassle of bargaining with the buyers, it’s the worst thing in the world to me as they just won’t come through with their best and final offer right up front.  They want to get the furs for the lowest price they can and so they hold out until the last minute in some cases, to make an offer worth taking.  By shipping them off, we know exactly what is coming down and when, and then it’s just a waiting game to see what the auction house sends us in the way of a check.  It’s like pulling the handle of a slot machine only you are guaranteed “something” on the pull…will you get the average?  Above average?  Below average?  Whatever it ends up being, I’ll be OK with it.

While we wait, I can now get some much needed work done around the house…the weeds are going nutso!

Bears Butt

March 20, 2014


Written on March 20th, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt


Yesterdays Post told you about life after trapping and inside the skinning shed, but without pictures I probably didn’t explain it well enough.  So we took a few pictures of the process’ yesterday and I thought it appropriate to re-do the explanation of the different process’ and include those pictures.  I want to caution all you trappers to wear rubber gloves while handling your furs.  Critters carry diseases and some of these diseases can kill you.  You are working with sharp knives and tools that poke holes etc.  And I sure would not want to be the one responsible for your death….wear those protective gloves!

As you recall, these two pictures are “before combing” and “after combing”.  A close inspection of the two pictures clearly shows how much better the combed fur looks.


UncombedRatUpCloseCombedRatUpClose  There is no question about the improvement and by doing this with every rat we put up, will only make our grade higher.  A little time now will help make our batch of rats stand out from the normal at the auction house….at least we hope so.







From the combing of the dried furs comes the fleshing of the skins.  Fleshing involves the removal of extra meat and fat that clings to the underside of the skinned fur.  You can’t expect to remove that in the skinning process and nearly every fur handled in the shed needs a certain amount of fleshing.  Some more than others, but nearly all of them have some flesh or fat that is excess and needs removal.  In my limited experience with foxes and bobcats, they were the only animal skins that didn’t have much to flesh.  Raccoons and beaver, on the other hand, make up for the fox and cats as they have a ton of hard to press off fat.

A lot of new trappers who are desirous to get good at putting up skins will question the “fleshing board” and if you search on line you will find that most trappers are using a round pole for their fleshing board.  I have found the use of a plain old 1 inch by 6 inch pine board to work just fine.  I have it rough cut and the edges rounded somewhat so that I can slip the muskrat hide over the tip and do my fleshing.



My fleshing tool is nothing more than a automobile window scraper with the pointed edges rounded off to avoid digging into the skins.  By using a flat fleshing tool like my window scraper, the flat board is more conducive to getting the skin fleshed properly and quickly.  I do have to add an extra step in fleshing and that is to pull the skin partway off the board and turn it in order to get the sides of the skins fleshed, but that doesn’t take a lot of time.


Like I said in my post yesterday, my back really takes a beating when fleshing a lot of skins, but this position is what I’ve found to be best for me to adequately get the job done.

When the skin is fleshed, it’s time to put it on a stretcher to dry.  We use wooden clothes pins to hold the nose of the skin onto the end of the stretcher and then pull the hide down as tight as it can be pulled.


Here you see Bob and his friendly dog Abby, putting a skin on a wire stretcher.


When the people grading the rat hides grade them by size, they measure diagonally from the nose down to the “hip”, rather than the tip of the tail portion.


The stretched hides are hung overhead on wires to dry.  It’s important to note that the temperature inside the drying room should not exceed 70 degrees, at least not for too long a time.  The ideal temperature for drying furs is between 55 and 65 degrees and the use of a fan in the room is always advisable to keep the air moving.  Our skinning and drying shed has vents in both gable ends that can be opened or closed to assist in the air flow in the upper reaches of the shed.

When the trapper has exceeded the amount of space he has available to hang the drying hides on the stretchers he has to do something with those dried hides to make more room.  We utilize large wire hangers to put the dried hides on.  We have our way of doing things and for you beginning to get into putting up your own hides you too will find a strategy that works for you.  Here Weasel is taking hides off of the stretchers and piling them up on the floor, while Bob is putting them on the hangers.




We like to limit the number of hides on one stretcher to 20.  That allows us to keep them separated to allow for air to circulate around them and they will continue to dry without getting moldy.


You might be wondering where we determine to poke a hole in the hide in order to put them on the hangers…we don’t poke a hole, there is already an eye hole and we use that.

There is a very good resource to download and print about proper fur handling at this site:

We have a printed copy of it hanging in our skinning shed and we refer to it often.  The part we use the most deals with muskrats, since that is the number one fur we handle.  But we have used it for beaver, raccoon and fox.  This just might be the best information you could possibly use in setting yourself up to handle furs.  It covers all aspects of handling furs, from catching them and proper handling in the field, to skinning, fleshing and stretching.  It has it all!

Good luck in your trapping adventures and maybe we will cross paths someday out in the field!

Bears Butt

March 19, 2014

Written on March 19th, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events Tags: ,
By: Bears Butt



Trapping and putting up furs doesn’t end at the trap line.  Sure, the trapper has to go out into the field and catch the animals and bring them in, but there is sure a lot more to it then that.  We have pulled all our traps and now have a deadline approaching which makes it very important that we get all the furs we put in the freezer during the season out and thawed, dried, combed, fleshed and stretched and adequately cured and ready for the auction.  Yesterday was a very full day for Bob and I.  We began at 1 p.m. by meeting in the shed.  We had laid out the rats the day before in order to thaw and our first order of business was to make sure they were all separated and that the wet ones were put on the drying rack to further dry.  As is always the case when you take furs out of the freezer, some of them will be dry enough to put up.  We separated them into a big pile while the rest were laid out on the drying rack or otherwise put where they could dry both on the front and the back of the fur.  The pile we ended up with that were dry enough to put up was a pretty big pile.

Without counting them we knew we had about 150 that we took out of the freezer and so we knew that we had to take down about 150 from the overhead in the shed.  “Taking Down” means, removing some of the dried skins from the hangers and bagging them up.  We decided to take down 200 and bag them in lots of 50 per bag.  They are ready for the auction and for storage purposes, we put them in a large chest freezer for safe keeping.  That freed up hanger space for rats to come down off the stretchers and go on the hangers.  The hangers allow the skins to cure a little longer….not that they need it, but why not allow them more time, right?

Our next big decision was how many of the hides on the stretchers should we take down and put on the hangers?  We decided we needed enough space for the pile of rats that were dried and ready to be fleshed and stretched and we made a wild guess of about 75 or so were in that pile.  So, we took down 100 stretchers and put those hides on the hangers.

These things take time to accomplish and it was after 3 p.m. by the time we began to brush out the hides laying there on the floor.  We did what we could in our old and slow way and had about 25 put up on stretchers and beginning the curing process when Weasel arrived…it was right at 4 p.m.  With his help, the pile of dry rats soon became a pile of hides turned inside out and waiting to be fleshed…my job.

Fleshing the way I do it doesn’t take a lot of time, but it sure does make my back ache.  I bend over a fleshing board to get the job done and even though I’ve tried other methods, I always come back to the one I think gets the job done better.  It was about 6 p.m. when the last of the dry and brushed hides went up on the drying line overhead.  A long 5 hour day in the shed for Bob and I.

If it wasn’t for Weasels’ help we would have been in there a couple more hours!

Well, today’s schedule is almost the same, except with Weasel willing to help again, we are not meeting in the shed until 4 p.m. to put up the remaining hides.  Again, it will require taking down about 100 from the stretchers and putting them on hangers, but we estimate, with three of us we won’t be much past 6 p.m. getting the whole job done.

On a side note, hunting, fishing and other activities come with opportunities that a lot of people don’t think about or recognize that can put a few dollars into their pockets.  I have a friend that used to pick ducks and geese for a profit and if you have ever done something like that to make a dollar or two, you know how nasty that job can be.  Well, he would save the feathers and especially the down from those birds and would sell the bags to further make his money.  Trapping muskrats has a similar money maker hidden in it and we have been capitalizing on that for several years.  Male muskrats have glands that produce a musky smell (thus the name Musk…rat) and they swell up pretty large during the Spring time run.  There is a pretty good demand for these glands in the “lure making” business and so we save these glands and put them into quart sized jars.  Normally we sell them locally, but this year I have contacted a business in Florida that will give us a very good price for them and I’m going to ship our 3 quarts off to him.  For you who might also be interested in shipping your glands to him you can give him a call at 239-994-7772.  He is really interested in Mink Glands and will pay as much as $250 for a gallon of them, but he wants any and all mink glands he can get. Like he told me, he can’t buy mink or muskrat glands locally…Florida just plain doesn’t have those critters.   His business name and address is:

Grandpas Trading Post,  10171 Betsy Parkway, St. James City, Florida  33956

Bears Butt

March 18, 2014


Written on March 18th, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

BigRatSmallRatUntil we sell our furs I think I’ll continue to put related stories in the Daily Trapping Events category, it makes sense to me and I doubt you really care one way or another.  Yesterday I went to an auction site that had their auction last week, Fur Harvesters ( and looked at the prices paid for the various furs they had.  The price of muskrat was not what I expected to see, but still higher than we would get from a local buyer.  They had just short of 90,000 muskrats in their auction and they sold 98% of them at an average of $10.65.  Lower than what has been the average price, but still pretty high when you consider a silly little muskrat fur.  The bigger item was the price paid for the “Top” furs…$23!  Can you imagine paying $23 for one muskrat fur?  It makes you wonder what on earth would make one fur worth $23 when the average is going for around $11?

I have done a little research in the area trying to find out what drives a fur to be of more value than another and have yet to find out why.

I suppose, like a person who is into harvesting and hanging on his wall, a bunch of trophy animals of one species and he only needs one more to have obtained his quest of having one of each, then and only then would the value of that one animal be so much in demand (in his own mind) to make it worth selling his children, his house, all his properties and farming out his wife to get the money to buy the tag to go hunt it.  Of course not to harvest it would be out of the question and he would go to any end to make it a 100% success.

BUT, there are sooooo many muskrats in the world, why would a person pay over $20 for one?  It makes no sense to me.

Our big time dream for this season is to find that buyer who just has to have our lot of furs and will pay big time bucks for them!  I think I’ll write to one of the auction houses and see if they will respond to my question about “top lot” furs.  In the mean time, look at the picture of Weasel and the two rats he is holding up.  Certainly the small one would be worth less than the big one…well maybe not…what if you were a taxidermist putting together a scene of a mommy and daddy muskrat and some babies running around and you needed one more baby muskrat to finish it off.  That little guy could be worth a small fortune.  On the other hand, let’s say you are making a muskrat coat for your lovely wife and you needed one more large pelt to finish it off and it has to be just the right color and the big rat was the perfect one for the job…it could be worth a small fortune as well.


CombedRatBears Butt

March 17, 2014


Written on March 17th, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

BigRatSmallRatA rat is a rat, is a rat…right?  In this case the one on your left is one that came out looking for its momma, the one on the right was also looking for its momma, but for different reasons.

It’s really funny how fate works, or better yet, Nothing happens without a reason, or I’ve heard it said, There are no accidents.  Yesterday I messaged the guy who picks up fur locally for shipping to the North American Fur Auction (NAFA).  I was curious as to how he got paid and if I was expected to give him a tip when he picks up our furs.  His answer came with a surprise;  He said he got paid via commission when the furs he sends in gets sold.  This makes perfect sense to me.  The next part of his comment was what caught me with my feet flat.  He said the latest fur pickup for the next sale was the end of this month, March.  WHAT?  The next fur pickup is not until May!  What’s going on?

I quickly went to the NAFA site and saw a special notice, dated back on February 20th that said the auction scheduled for June had been moved up to May and that the last fur pickup was in March!  Wholly smokes!  We still have about 150 raw skins to flesh and put up!  Will we have time to do this and have them adequately dried on the stretchers?

I messaged him back asking about the change in the schedule and when would be a good time for him to meet up with us to get our furs…as of right this minute I have not heard back from him.  He is a very busy guy, working a farm as well as being the fur pickup guy in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and parts of Colorado.

So, I called Bob and Weasel to let them know we didn’t have the month of April to work in our raw furs, but rather we had a couple of days to get them up on stretchers or we will miss the due date for the next auction.  We quickly got the remaining bags of rats out of the freezer and put them out to thaw and dry.  Tomorrow will be a big day to process the furs and get them up on stretchers.

We still should have enough time available to do our own measuring and grading of our furs so we have something to compare to when we get the paper work back from NAFA after the sale in May.  This is all new to us and we are speculating just what will happen to our furs when they get to the auction house.  We can’t help but believe we have a top lot mess of rats and we should get a very good price for them.  Even after the commission that gets taken out and given to the auction house, we should net more than what a local buyer would offer us for these same rats.  Our gamble.

I haven’t told you the total rat count for the catch at the end of week 5 and the end of the season.

End of week 5 = 73 rats!  End of season total = 731 (recount is needed for week 3)

As a side note, since the season has ended:  I weighed myself the first day I set any traps and weighed 144 lbs., this morning I got on the same scales and it read 133.5 lbs!  I realized I was having to tighten my belt more than usual, but didn’t think to that extreme!

Bears Butt

March 16, 2014

Written on March 16th, 2014 , Daily Trapping Events | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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