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Illinois Trappers Association to hold 50th anniversary convention

September 26, 2012 at 09:48 AM

Prairie State Outdoors

The Illinois Trappers Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary the annual convention to be held Oct. 5 – 6 at the Logan County Fairgrounds in Lincoln.

“When we first started out we were and still are involved in protecting the rights of trappers in the state of Illinois,” said Mike Gragert, ITA president. “Since then we have expanded on that by offering trapper education and opportunities for young hunters to get involved in trapping.”

The association was founded in 1962.

“The convention is going to be a celebration of what we’ve accomplished,” he said.

The convention will feature demonstrations of equipment and trapping techniques presented by experts from Illinois and up to 10 other states.

Research on the status of coyotes and bobcats in Illinois will be presented, too.

Visitors will learn how trappers handle and process pelts after the animals are captures.

A trade show including supply dealers featuring everything from trapping supplies to canoes is one of the convention’s main attractions, Gragert said.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, young trappers can take the required Illinois Trappers Education Course, required for those under 18 who must be certified before receiving a license.

Gragert said trappers should be interested in a timeline of accomplishments displaying the history of the ITA and charting important events during the group’s history.

One unique accomplishment is the establishment of a youth-only trapping area at Carlyle Lake.

“It is a place where young trappers can come and set their traps on their terms where it is just them,” he said. “I don’t know of any other organization in the United States that’s done anything like that.”

The convention also will highlight legislative and conservation initiatives.

He points to the new trapping season on river otters that will debut in November.

“It’s what happens when good management and good people come together,” he said. “We hope it continues so one of these days the bobcat is in the same position as the river otter.”

Gragert says many rules and regulations governing trapping in Illinois grew out of suggestions offered by trappers.

“We’ve been real involved on the legislative front, being on the front end of legislation that threatens trapping,” he said. “And we’ve worked to improve trapping working side-by-side with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other conservation organizations.

“We’ve been involved in all different aspects.”

But trapping isn’t the only issue on the group’s radar screen.

“We stay up on issues affecting sportsmen,” he said. “We’re all multi-faceted. A lot of trappers hunt deer and turkeys, too. Multi-faceted outdoorsmen is what we are.”

Working on legislative issues has forced Gragert to abandon some preconceived notions he had about other organizations.

“I would never have thought a few years back that I would be rubbing elbows with the Illinois Audubon Society,” he said. “I thought they were anti-hunting and anti-sportsmen group.

“That was a myth I needed to get out of my head because they are anything but.”

Most people who enjoy the outdoors want the same things, he said.

“We all want good wildlife habitat and opportunities for everyone,” Gragert said. “We are working towards the same end.

“It opened my eyes,” he said. “We just don’t watch out for ourselves.”

Serving as the group’s president been a multi-faceted education, too, Gragert said with a laugh.

“I come home at night and get on the Illinois General Assembly’s website and start looking up legislation,” he said. “If I had known I was going to have to deal with this stuff, I would have stayed in school longer.

“I would have listened to my government teacher in high school a little bit more.”

Oct. 5
Gates will open at 8 a.m. Friday.
Activities and exhibits include: supply dealers, demonstrations, contests, children’s activities, and sweepstakes drawings

Oct. 6
Illinois Trappers Education Courser (Saturday only)
Performances by the Heartland Cloggers dance group of Peoria and Richard Withers and The Illinois Boys band of Petersburg are planned for Saturday evening. 

Auctions will be held both days.

All events are open to the public. 

For more information or to register for the Trappers Ed. course, please contact Mike Gragert at (618) 637-9061 or Neal Graves at (309) 912-6843 or visit:

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.


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