Thursday, August 02, 2007

NTA Convention '07

I'm sitting in the Detroit airport on my way to the National Trappers Convention (NTA) being held Aug. 2 - 5 in Goshen, IN. I've attended these events since the early 70's, I think my first NTA Convention was at the Space Mink farm in Beemerville, NJ. Chuck Spearman was just introducing the Trapper Magazine (called the Midwest Trapper at the time), to the fur trapping community. There wasn't anything like it on the market at the time and Chuck timed the market perfectly as the fur market was experiencing a fur boom.

Anyway, back to '07, if you've never attended one of these events and you are interested in any aspect of capturing ot controlling wildlife I guarantee you it will be time well spent. While it remains primarily a fur-trapping focused event, there is no question that the wildlife control industry continues to increase its' presence. Hence, the reason for my going. There is equipment of all types, there are hobbyists, professionals, and weekend warriors , tailgaters selling used equipment, demonstrations ongoing and it is sure to be an action packed weekend.

While I have been attending these events for 30+ years I predict that this year will be a turning point in its' character. To set the stage for those that have never attended, the NTA Convention while being a week-long business meeting for the organization itself, it is also considered a modern version of the rendezvous' held by the mountain men of yesteryear. Now don't get me wrong, there is very little buckskin, few campfires, and no blackpowder shoots. What I mean is it has been "the" tradeshow of the fur industry where dealers of all sizes and sorts come together to market/sell their wares. Many dealers in the summer months are orphans from their families pulling oversized and many times over-weight trailers all over the country, packed with as large a quantity of inventory as will fit. The consumer (trapper) has used these conventions to purchase supplies for the upcoming season and avoid shipping costs.

While I still consider these events to be absolutely worthwhile and should/will continue for many years to come, what I predict is that the character of the Convention will EVOLVE into more of a mainstream show where dealers, manufacturers, factory reps. will set up displays and showcase their latest products, or hot products of the year, etc. But the hauling of a complete inventory of products all over the country will by necessity decline. Heres the nasty little secret....... the economics just don't support the rendezvous any longer. It's a known fact that everytime you move or touch a product it costs money. So by the time you load a product into a trailer, drive X number of miles, unload it, reload whatever doesn't sell after a convention, and then unpack it once you get back home .......... on top of $3.00 gallon +/- gas, food, hotel rooms, the expense of being away from the business. Do the math !

I'm not saying this change is bad, I'm just saying this is an evolution that makes sense. There are a number of very large and well known fur trapping supply dealers who will not be attending the '07 NTA Convention for the reasons I've outlined above. We'll see if my prediction comes true.

In the meantime, I'll be spending time with Tim Julien, Pres. of NWCOA, at the NWCOA booth.........it will still be fun !!! Just different !
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