Mostly Trapping

Zander Furs Article in Newspaper
Jan 7, 2020 08:17 ET
(Reprinted from above link)

Original Title: Local fur auction Saturday in August

WEST DEPTFORD, N.J. — John Zander has plenty of time to think about the future of the family business.

Zander is a partner with his father, Harry, and an uncle, Tom, in a firm that is the world’s largest private supplier of North America wild fur, Zander & Son, John Zander still finds time to run a muskrat trap line in the family-owned 1,300-acre marsh.

“I made a futile trip out to the boat dock this morning only to find the tide was already coming in,” Zander said. “The tide controls your trapping schedule for sure. But, running a triplane is something I have done since I was a small boy. It’s in my blood and because of that, it is always on my schedule this time of the year.”

Like many, trappers and hunters included, Zander worries about the raw fur market.

“Our firm has buyers out there, one of them a long-time Ohio buyer, Ken Little. It is those employees that we count on heavily to give us feedback as to just how much fur can be expected in the pipeline. And that has been somewhat worry some the last number of years. The prices paid to those sportsmen who hunt and trap the year before dictate just how much fur will be on the grading tables at fur auctions such as the one in Bucyrus, Ohio, this January. The prices for muskrat and raccoon have fallen to the point where sportsmen can no longer afford to hit the woods and the streams. And the lack of quality fur in places like northern Ohio dictates whether or not we will be able to fill our orders.

“As far as prices at the January auctions, I see it about the same as last year,” Zander added. “There is good news at times followed by negative news. No question the foreign markets dictate how much we buy. And when we talk foreign market we talk China and when we talk China we run into the freight prices and the biggest hang-up of all, tariffs. If the two countries could just get together on that, the fur market would stabilize and their would be a lot more happy sportsmen.”

The demand remains the same, headed by muskrat and raccoon — although coyote pelts have moved up the chain, especially the heavier, nicely-colored western pelts. Ohio coyotes are also becoming more sought after, although color has to be right.

“Ken knows what he is doing but if there is any question on bidding this January at the three Ohio auctions, I will be telling him to just buy it all,” Zander said.

The Zander firm did get a boost in raw fur stock, however, when one of the Canadian fur houses recently went out of business. That increase in goods will offset the possibility of less fur at country auctions.

Muskrats will average between $3.50 and $4 but the volume is expected to down, even less than last year.

“I just got off the phone with an Ohio trapper who generally finishes with 200 muskrats,” Zander said. “He told me this year he hopes to get 50. They just are not there and there is no reason for it. The exact opposite in South Dakota where the rat population is way up.

“As far as coon, Ken will go as high as $9.00 for triple-XXX size. The smaller, believe it or not, will be about the same price as muskrat, $4.

“The cheapest product right now is ranch mink. There is a ton of it out there and it is helping to keep the prices down, especially in the foreign markets. They are three times the size of wild mink which makes no market for wild mink.”

Zander gives this advice to hunters and trappers:

“Go after muskrats and hope for size. Quality is no problem in Ohio. The fur is some of the best in the Midwest. If you hunt or trap coon, keep the big ones and turn the smaller ones loose because it takes just about the same amount of time to skin and scrape a small one as a big one. Zander and Son does not want to handle undersized material. It costs us between $6 to $8 to tan a big coon. In China it costs maximum $2 because of low labor costs and virtually no environmental concerns. Plus, there are thousands of pelts held by speculators in freezers over there just waiting for the prices to increase.”

The first of the three Ohio auctions will be at 9 a.m. Saturday — this one held at the Crawford County Conservation Club on Ohio 98 just north of the Bucyrus city limits.TRIGGERITISAREPRINTFORDATABOUNDTOWORKWITH