National Trappers Convention, wide trap
Photo by Richard P. Smith

The National Trappers Association Convention was held in Escanaba, Michigan. It was chock-full of innovative new products worth a closer look. The following is a list of 10 noteworthy trapping products you can put to use in your own trapping endeavors.

Cookie Cutters

National Trappers Convention, trap bedsMultiple companies at the convention offered cookie-cutter tools that make it quicker and easier to prepare trap beds for making sets. Instead of using a trowel or shovel to prepare trap beds, simply pound a cookie cutter into the ground where you want to make sets, and when you lift the tool, the proper amount of sand and soil comes up with it. The site is then ready for placing your trap. Cookie cutters come in various sizes to correspond to trap sizes.

Expand-A-Pan Traps

National Trappers Convention, wide trapIf you think increasing the size of the pans on your traps will increase your catches and reduce the misses with foothold traps, Expand-A-Pan is what you’re looking for. Chip Davis, who owns the business with his son, has developed larger pans for the most popular traps. He’s also come up with a way to trigger body-gripping traps with pans instead of the traditional whisker-type trigger.

As the Davises explain on their website, “After seeing countless misses on our own trapline with tracks inside the jaw spread of our traps, and also hearing one of our trapping mentors, Clint Locklear of Trapping Radio, chronicle the same problems that he was facing, we were challenged to develop a solution to this problem…Being farm boys by trade, versed in fabrication, working with metal and solving problems, the light bulb went off in our head for the concept of Expand-A-Pan. We thought, ‘What if we could fill as much space as possible inside the jaws of a trap with a huge, oversized pan?’ We guessed that the chances of a miss would be greatly diminished using this principle, and the idea proved to be correct.” (

J3 Outdoorz HAGz Bracket

National Trappers Convention, trap, log, levelerThe HAGz Bracket is another innovative new product for trapping featured at the convention. This bracket can be used to level traps for sure catches in almost any type of set. The company sells manmade, 3/8-inch rods that the bracket can be used to set traps on. The rods can be placed in any type of aquatic habitat, and then traps can be secured at locations near the surface of the water where there’s a high probability of catches. They can also be set on wooden poles, logs that are positioned at an angle, rocks, in culverts or drain tiles and just about any other situation. The brackets can be used on body-gripping traps, too. (

Jackyl MASSH Trapping Tool

National Trappers Convention, edged weapon, tool, bladeOne of the newest and most innovative products featured at the convention was the MASSH Tool. Designed to serve the functions of at least five different tools in one, it gets its name because parts of it work like a machete, axe, shovel, saw and hammer. The tool can also be used to help start a fire, and the handle comes wrapped with 12 to 15 feet of 550 paracord that can come in handy for a variety of uses. Made from a solid piece of 3/16-inch heat-treated steel, it measures 22 inches long and weighs 2.6 pounds.

A camper had this say about the tool: “I use this tool for digging cat holes and taking care of business. I also use the tool to clear brush for the campsite. Also, I use the hammer head for pounding tent stakes into the ground. I also use the tool for splitting wood and building a fire.” If all-in-one is your kind of style, don’t miss this tool. (

Lockhart’s Firewood Gripper

National Trappers Convention, log grip, handleIf you handle a lot of firewood, you’ll appreciate Lockhart’s Firewood Gripper. This flexible metal gripper allows you to lift hunks of firewood in a variety of shapes and sizes that weigh up to 90 pounds each. Pointed hooks on each end of the gripper lock onto each end of the firewood as you lift from the center of the gripper. Then the wood can be moved to wherever you want it. As you lower the gripper after the wood is placed in its intended location, the hooks relax their grip, and you can hook onto the next piece of wood you want to move. Chunks of wood can be moved faster and easier with one hand than two, and there’s no worry about getting splinters or having to wear gloves to avoid getting splinters.

Grippers come in small, medium and large sizes. Small models are designed for logs 13 to 18 inches wide. Medium grippers will handle widths of 16 to 21 inches, and the large tools grab logs that are 19 to 24 inches wide. These handy tools are currently available from a variety of logging and outdoor dealers.

Mountain Man Beaver Ball String Silencers

National Trappers Convention, beaver ballsMountain Man Mike from Channing, Michigan, found a way to increase his income from the beaver pelts he was catching instead of accepting the fluctuating prices paid by the fur market. He makes bowstring silencers from beaver hides that are called Beaver Balls. A friend gave him the idea, and he perfected and patented the product in 1995. When he made $800 from two beaver pelts in the form of Beaver Balls, he knew he was onto something. Mike has sold 239,000 sets of Beaver Balls since then, and he had a record year during 2017 when 110,000 were sold. He sells Beaver Balls to distributors who supply them to a number of companies.

Night Eyes Lights

National Trappers Convention, headlamp on hatIf you are into predator or hog hunting at night (where it’s legal, of course), you’ll be interested in the lights offered by Night Eyes for that purpose. This company offers lights that can be strapped to your hat so you can see what you’re doing as well as those that can be installed on top of scoped rifles for precise aiming out to 200 yards and lights that can be used to scan for the eyes of incoming predators out to 300 yards. These lights are available in red, green and white.

One customer comment illustrates the usefulness of these products: “Your Night Eyes products have brought a whole new ‘light’ to my night hunting. I’ve tried a lot of other lights in my 30-plus years of predator hunting, but none have even come close to the quality and performance of Night Eyes. I shudder to think about what I haven’t seen in the past.”

The lights can also be beneficial for alligator hunting, as a Florida resident found out: “I ordered a red head lamp. I used it for alligator hunting in South Florida, and it was a game-changer. The gators don’t spook as quickly. You can see their eyes from so far away.” (

Round Body-Gripping Traps

National Trappers Convention, body trapIf you are interested in using body-gripping traps that are round instead of square or rectangular like the traditional models, those were at the show, too. They come in a variety of sizes for catching weasels, nuisance rats or squirrels on up to beavers, bobcats and lynx. Round body-gripping traps are often labeled as “RBGs” and can be ordered from a number of trapping supply companies.

Schilling Turtle Traps

National Trappers Convention, turtle basket trapFor trapping turtles, Jerry Schilling from New Harmony, Indiana, makes a number of models to choose from. He makes 18- and 24-inch standard models as well as traps with a large 3.5-inch mesh, which is required for turtle trapping in some states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Tennessee. The traps come complete with bait boxes. Schilling said he primarily sells his turtle traps at shows like the Trapper Convention, but you can contact him for additional information by calling 812-781-2534 and 812-783-1097.

Tail Skinners

National Trappers Convention, tail skinnerIf you skin a lot of game with tails from which the tail bone has to be removed, like raccoons, squirrels, martens and foxes, you’ll appreciate the spring-loaded tail skinner offered at the convention that speed up the process. The tail skinner is designed to be attached to a workbench. When you’re ready to remove the tail bone from your catch, you simply fit the tail bone in place and pull down on the handle.

The same booth had much smaller, cheaper tail strippers made of plastic that resemble clothespins, but have fittings for stripping tail bones from different-sized animals by hand. Tail zippers made of plastic for splitting tails open were also available to further accelerate the process. These products can be purchased from a number of trapping supply businesses.

This article is from the winter 2018 issue of American Frontiersman Magazine. Grab your copy at

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