Georgia Trappers Association Convention A Resounding Success
The 42nd annual state convention was held in Madison last weekend.
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Georgia Trappers Association (GTA)’s 42nd annual Convention in Madison. My kids and I have become pretty involved with the GTA over the last few years, attending their Youth Field Trials and Annual Conventions, and this year did not disappoint.
The event was two days of demonstrations, shopping, fundraisers, kids activities and fellowship with some of the most interesting, informed and just plain fun people from across the state and beyond.
The event hosted well over 100 attendees of all ages, both members of the GTA as well as unaffiliated members of the public interested in learning more about trapping and the great outdoors.
The GTA Annual Convention, held at the Madison Lions Club Fairgrounds in Morgan County, included not only a live trapline (we caught a coyote and raccoon the second morning!), but also live trap setting demonstrations hosted by some of the state’s premier professional trappers. There were demos on how to catch everything from beavers to bobcats and any furbearing critter in between, with tips for professionals and first-timers alike. Additionally, live sessions were held on tanning and hide care, all led by instructors willing and able to answer questions about anything trapping. I cannot overemphasize what a treat it was to have such a wealth of knowledge present in one place!
Jason Chapman, the GTA Youth Director, hosted a full slate of events for the kids, including the “World Famous Opossum Toss,” a youth trap setting contest and a make-your-own-sifter class. Regardless of age and experience, everyone had a blast and learned a ton. My four oldest children, ages 5 to 11, were engaged the entire time and didn’t want it to end. Fortunately, after the kids’ activities were over, there was plenty left to experience.
Vendors at the event sold anything an outdoorsman could want from fishing rods to beaver pelt teddy bears, as well as any and all supplies a trapper (or soon to be trapper) might need to start catching critters this season. There were traps, snares, lures, a myriad of tools, books and videos available, and the men and women behind the counter at each booth were all more than happy to answer questions.
Toward the end of the event, a DNR officer gave an overview of the state of trapping in Georgia, reminding everyone of the important role trapping plays in conservation and balancing the ecosystem. Topics of interest included the impact of the recent change in regulation allowing year-round trapping of opossums and raccoons on private land and who to contact if you came into possession of various species of interest that the state is keeping track of. The DNR also asked trappers to hold onto the carcasses of certain species for testing, reiterating the important relationship between trappers and government agencies working to protect wildlife.
A business meeting followed, with an update on the GTA, a discussion of last year’s fur prices and projections for this year’s market. Afterwards, awards were presented. Mostly notably among the many worthy award winners, Lewis Todd received the GTA Leadership Award, Mike Wilson received Trapper of the Year, Jason Chapman was awarded the Presidents’ Award and Randy Zerwig was inducted into the Georgia Trappers Association Hall of Fame.
Additionally, this year’s GTA scholarship was awarded to Annabelle Wilson.
Last up was the raffle and a fundraising auction that was as much fun to watch as it was to take part in. I personally walked away from the auction with a few new traps and a brand-new pair of coveralls but got out-bid on a 50-lb. 1800’s style bear trap display piece that I thought would look great over the mantle (I think my wife is happy I didn’t have a chance to swing by the ATM on my way to Madison).
I caught up with GTA President Josh Hall afterward, and he said the convention was a tremendous success.
“I want to thank all the people who came out to support us this weekend, especially the vendors. Without them, we wouldn’t have a convention. We couldn’t operate if we weren’t in this together.
“We invite any like-minded person to come out and join us at any future GTA event. You don’t have to be a member to come to anything except the Adult Field Trials.”
The GTA president also wanted to extend a special thank you to Rick Shields, who is a GTA member and the reason this year’s convention was in Madison. He said that its been many years since the event was hosted in the northern part of the state, and it was all thanks to Rick.
Overall, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather have spent my weekend. I want to personally thank the Georgia Trappers Association, not just the memories made this past weekend, but those of the last few years since I first got involved. I have never left an event hosted by the GTA and been disappointed. What’s more, my kids love it, too! We have all learned so much from these events and the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to put them on. I highly encourage anyone interested in trapping, or the outdoors in general, to come check out an upcoming event. I can guarantee that you will meet good people, have a great time and learn something new.
More information can be found on the GTA website, www.gatrappersassoc.com. In addition, Josh Hall invites anyone with feedback or looking to learn more about the Georgia Trappers Association, to reach out to him by phone 478.494.6943 or email [email protected].
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