The trapper has come full circle, from the little boy who got a chance to go trapping with a neighbor man to the seasoned veteran who now shares his knowledge with youngsters. Along this circular trapline of life, the trapper and fur buyer has earned the respect of his peers. Larry Boettcher will be inducted into the Wisconsin Trappers Assn. Hall of Fame on Saturday at the group's 50th anniversary rendezvous in Marshfield. It's no small honor in Wisconsin's trapping circle. Boettcher and friend Art Simmerman of Cornell enter the Hall as only the sixth and seventh inductees. For Boettcher, once a fur-buying fixture on Rice Lake's Main Street, it all started in the Town of Stanfold west of Rice Lake, where his parents moved from Milwaukee in 1944. Like a lot of successful pursuits in life, it started with an adult who took the time to teach a kid. Boettcher still talks with a youthful enthusiasm as he recalls a time in the early 1950s. "I was 8 or 9 years old. Our neighbor Milton Ritter took me trapping with him," said Boettcher, who now lives north of the city on what he calls "Dobie Avenue." Had the neighbor not taken him along on the trapline, "I probably would never have starting trapping," said Boettcher, who smiles at the thought which reaffirms the 72-year old's belief in teaching trapping classes for youths and taking them along in the outdoors. In addition, Tommy Ritter, Milton's son, would never have been working for Boettcher some 20 years later, preparing furs for the man whom his father got started in the outdoor way of living and making a living. That was in the back rooms and basements at the Deep Rock and Phillips 66 gas stations on North Main Street in the 1970s and 1980s. But back up a bit, to the south, and you'll find a younger Boettcher learning again, this time from Rice Lake fur-buying businessman Sam Parker on West Allen Street. It was 1965, and Boettcher had just left behind 4 years of Navy service when he went to work for Parker, the same man he sold furs to as a teenager. Boettcher still has a business card for Parker Furs with "Sales representative" under his name. "I don't know why I had that card made up," said Boettcher, laughing, which suggests that he did more hands-on work than sales work. But then Boettcher retraces his steps and, yes, he was in sales and buying, going on business trips as far away as Montana. In 1969 Sam Parker sold his hides and furs business, which started with his father, Edward, in the early 1900s. Boettcher had a choice to make, stay with the new owner or strike out on his own. "People asked me, 'Why don't you buy furs?'" remembers Boettcher. And that's what he did, combining a full service gas station with fur buying and his Wisconsin Wild Rice Co. The Deep Rock station at the corner of Main and Evans streets had a stall in the back for the fur business. For a time, Boettcher owned both the Deep Rock station and, down the street a block, the Phillips 66 station. He later settled into only the Phillips station, where he used a back room for buying furs, the basement for processing furs and the upstairs for drying them. Boettcher went to auctions of the Hudson Bay Co. to sell the furs he had purchased from local trappers and other dealers. "Every little town had buyers," said Boettcher. He learned how to grade furs while getting in good with representatives from major fur buyers in Canada, Germany and Italy. He met a local trapper, Leo Hoeft, from north of Bruce, and Hoeft followed the line of influence on Boettcher that Ritter and Parker had. "Leo was my trapping idol," said Boettcher, who suddenly disappears into another room to grab a trapping basket, handmade out of ash strips by the versatile trapping Hall of Famer Hoeft. "When Leo brought furs I would study them, study how he processed them. His coyotes always looked so nice," said Boettcher. Over the years Boettcher got a reputation for producing good furs for the buyers. He used a broker in New York, and prices would be settled on and furs shipped overseas unseen to the waiting buyers. A wall in Boettcher's drying room displays Top Lot Trapper awards-receipts with prices paid-from Hudson Bay Co. auctions proves the quality of his furs. "Some furs wouldn't even reach my door. I'd buy them and sell them over the phone," said Boettcher, noting the trust between fur dealers and the broker. In one season, the animals bought and brokered numbered as high as 10,000 muskrats, 5,000 raccoons and 3,000 beavers. "I enjoyed that wheeling and dealing. I always loved furs," said Boettcher. The wheeling and dealing came to an end in 1989 just after a good run in the business-1986-87-with some leaner years to come. Boettcher spent a couple of years in Florida before returning to Rice Lake in the 1990s. He got back to the part of the business that first lured him-being outdoors and trapping. He had never really quit, finding time even in the hectic business years to take his son, Traver, trapping on weekends. But with the business gone and more time on his hands, Boettcher indulged himself in the outdoors. "In 1994 I trapped all winter. I trapped every day of the season," said Boettcher. Ten years later and things haven't changed much. Boettcher stands outside on a muggy August afternoon with Oct. 19 on his mind. That's when the next trapping season starts. Boettcher has trap lines on property where he has permission to trap, from his rural Rice Lake home all the way to his cabin on the Namekagon River northwest of Trego. And back. He checks his traps every day, even those for which regulations don't require a daily check. "I love being out in the woods. You never know what you're going to catch. It's unpredictable, like catching a big boar mink in a muskrat trap," Boettcher said. That love of the outdoors, the unexpected in the outdoors, is what Boettcher is now passing along to youngsters. Through Future Trappers of Wisconsin, the new Hall of Fame inductee is teaching kids not only how to trap, but how to do it responsibly. "The main thing is ethics and doing things the proper way," said Boettcher, who works from a 200-page manual and 65 years of experience. Boettcher realizes that only a few of his young students carry on with trapping through their teenage years for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a mentor to follow on an actual trapline. But Boettcher teaches on, knowing that some of the kids will come back to the pursuit later in life. "When I had grandchildren I saw the need to teach them. I want to help kids out. I don't want to die with that knowledge not passed along. "Some trappers don't want to share their secrets. But I'm still looking for that secret. I'm still learning too," said Boettcher. Dave Louis of Rice Lake is the District 2 director of the state trapping association. He looks to Boettcher as his mentor. "Larry has a wealth of information and he's willing to share it. He's the most sharing trapper of his age," said Louis. Louis said he learns something new every time he talks with Boettcher. "If I hadn't met Larry Boettcher, I wouldn't be the trapper I am today." Boettcher says, simply, "Kids need a mentor. They can't do it alone." His daughter Heather's children, Brandon and Brooke Bronstad, have tagged along with their grandfather, and the 17-year old Brooke hopes to do more trapping this season. Boettcher and other trappers are not only attempting to bring youths into the game, but also continue to refine trapping with tools such as dog-proof raccoon traps and other snares that are more humane for the animal being caught. Boettcher stoutly defends trapping, his voice rising and quickening but not threatening. "We need fur trapping to keep a good, healthy population, otherwise diseases will get out of control," said Boettcher, producing a photo of a coyote with mange to support his point. "Hunters and trappers do more with their money for wildlife than groups that are against trapping." Boettcher walks to a shed, where hundreds of traps are stored, along with other trapping tools, all ready for the new season. Beside him, always, is one other "tool," an 8-year old beagle named Ruger. Ruger can smell beaver in bank holes, so a trap goes there. Where Ruger urinates tips off Boettcher to where a coyote might have been. Boettcher's four-legged buddy is not only along on the trapline. Ruger will be at a trappers' rendezvous this week when her master goes into the Hall of Fame. "Ruger is going," said Boettcher, a trapper true to his dog and his trapping.
Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by:
He should be ashamed of himself, and I am ashamed that he is a Boettcher. To think that a person who is in family line would be doing this, and being recognized and rewarded for this is disgusting. Obviously he isn't really German, what a schweine hunt! makes me sick! He needs to find a different last name, and fast.
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Article comment by:
Total load of lies.
Trappers trap because they enjoy it and does it for profit. This disease control thing is a lie. They mostly trap healthy animals and rarely the sick.
Way they dispatch animals is cruel. They stomp. whack, drown and strangle animals to maximize pelt value.
If you see for yourself on their forums you will see they talk about fur prices all the time.
When animal price is down they trap the species less and when is high they trap more.
We don't live in cavern anymore.
Many pets get brutally injured or killed by these barbaric devices.
I'm no PETA member but I'm someone with decency. I make research before I spat my words out.
Even trappers are "Ashamed" to be trappers because they hide their dispatching methods throughout PM (private message) since I started exposing them. We all know how they dispatch animals but they hide the truth from the public. Trappers are hermits from society. They are the worst hypocrites. They claim fur is green and say fake fur is made of oil which is true but most of their fur goes on petroleum made polyester coat's trim which they are just as bad as fake fur wearing people.
Most people have no clue about trapping or have partial clue. This is the true image of trapping all these pics are collected from trappers forums including the source to the pics.