The middle of summer is hardly the time of year to be thinking of such things as hunting and trapping, seeing we are a few months away from even the earliest season.
However, there are some outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy these outdoor sports so much that they focus on them year-round. These avid pursuers of game animals and furbearers spend a good deal of their time studying new developments in their sports, updating equipment and planning their upcoming seasons.
Some are also active with hunting and trapping organizations that can help them become better at their sport, as well as generate camaraderie among participants.
A prime example of organizations bringing their members together is upon us, too, when the 2014 National Trappers Convention comes to the U.P. next week.
The convention, which will draw trappers from across the United States and Canada, will be held next Thursday through July 27 at the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba.
Hosted by the U.P. Trappers Association, the National Trappers Association and the Bays de Noc Convention and Business Bureau, organizers expect between 6,000 and 8,000 trappers will attend the convention, which is open to the public as well as trappers.
In fact, the convention offers a wide array of activities that will appeal to individuals young and old as well as families. Included will be activities for kids at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Pocket Park, side tours to showcase U.P. attractions and dozens of vendors. Included will be outdoor equipment vendors - with such items as boats, motors, canoes, snowshoes, predator calling supplies, outdoor clothing and waders - as well as crafters, antique dealers, gun dealers and many others.
Also being offered are tailgating spaces for rent for anyone who wants to pull up and offer whatever they might have out of their vehicle.
In addition, Several classes are being planned for adults on topics such as quilting, sewing, cooking, basket weaving, soap making, crafts, herbs, and healthy living-related presentations.
Then there will be the Antique Gas & Steam Village, which is housed at the fairgrounds and will be open Friday and July 26. The village is operated by the U.P. Steam and Gas Association and includes restored early steam engines, gasoline engines, tractors, farm machinery and other historic items.
Exhibits include a steam-powered sawmill, railroad depot, schoolhouse and an 80-ton Fairbanks diesel engine. Also included in displays are a blacksmith shop, granary, barber shop, general store, cook shack and ice cream parlor. In addition, local artisans demonstrate traditional handicrafts such as glass-blowing, knitting, spinning, weaving, quilting, pottery and woodcarving.
As you can see, the trappers convention has something for everyone, but the main focus is still on trapping, including having demonstrations by expert trappers from across the country.
One of the highlights this year is a session being put on by legendary trapper Johnny Thorpe, an 80-year-old New York state resident who began trapping professionally at age 15.
Thorpe, who was inducted into the National Trappers Hall of Fame in 1996, has written trapping articles for major outdoor publications since 1956. Besides being a famous trapper, Thorpe has been a gold miner, wood carver, artifact collector and adventurer - he is labeled as one the last of the true mountain men by convention organizers.
There are a host of other interesting demonstrations being offered, including ones on trapping and hunting for everything from muskrats, minks and beaver to otter, pine marten and coyotes.
The convention runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and July 26 and 8 a.m. to noon July 27. The final day has limited offering as vendors will be packing up. The cost is $10 for the entire event, with kids 11 and younger free of charge.
For more information on the convention, visit the U.P. Trappers Association website at www.uptrappers.com.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.