Fur-Buying Foibles

A trip to the fur buyer doesn’t always go as planned.

Fur-Buying Foibles

Having been in the same situation when I first started trapping and hunting fur, I could tell the youngster in the back of the room was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, and this was probably his first fur selling venture. He and his mom stayed in the background watching every move I made as I graded and bought coyotes, bobcats, coon, muskrats and foxes for an hour. Finally, when the last seller had left, the boy disappeared for a few minutes and then came back with his furs — a half-dozen muskrats, a coon and a nice bobcat, all well handled by someone who knew what he was doing. He got top dollar for the coon and ’rats and when I asked him what he thought he should get for the bobcat he stammered and told me his neighbor said he shouldn’t accept less than $100. I straight faced told him I couldn’t pay him $100 for the cat and smiled as he frowned at his mom and shrugged in resignation. “The cat is worth $150, and if you won’t take that, you’ll have to take it somewhere else,” I told him. He’d already started to answer when he realized what I had said and broke into a priceless ear-to-ear grin.   

On another fur buying trip in southwestern Colorado, I had an old guy with a shaggy beard wearing well-worn bib overalls, hanging back silently watching while I spent several hours buying furs from the locals. He waited until the last hunter/trapper left and then he came up and asked if I wanted to buy some more fur — a good catch of coyotes, coon and cats. When I told him to bring them out, he said he wanted me to come to his house, which was right off the highway on the way to my next stop. When I drove into his yard there wasn’t a square foot of space that wasn’t filled with junk, and the inside of his house was also waste deep with junk and garbage.            

The guy talked a mile a minute and led me to a room attached to the back porch. I couldn’t believe it when we went into his fur/trapping shed. It was clean enough to perform surgery there and he showed me some of the best handled fur I bought all season. Never judge a book by its cover!           

On another occasion I had a guy ask if I was interested in buying cats?  He’d just watched me buy over $20,000 worth of prime Colorado and New Mexico bobcats and I told him OK, kind of exasperated. He went to his pickup and returned toting a collection of 18 cat pelts — house cats! Beautifully put up, fur out, house cats! From Siamese to Angoras and every shape and color in-between. I tried to maintain a straight face as I offered him $5 apiece, hoping he’d be insulted by my price. Danged if he didn’t take me up on it. I was glad no one was watching. On the very next buying stop I made in Montrose, Colorado, I ended up selling them for $10 each.            

I was watching a football game one evening during trapping season when a local realtor, complete in a three-piece suit and tie show up at the door wanting to know if bobcats were worth anything, and if I might be interested in buying one he had just hit with his car. It was an extra-large, fully spotted, wide-bellied tom without a mark on it, and I promptly offered him two-fifty for it. He hemmed and hawed then said he’d probably get a rug made, because he’d hoped to get at least $10 for it. He was speechless when I told him my price was $250 and NOT two dollars and fifty cents! He laughed and said he’d probably try to run over another one.           

I was having coffee one morning with some good friends when a local rancher and sometimes trapper, who was a bit on the obnoxious and blow hard side, came in and asked if I wanted to buy five bobcats? He smugly told me I was going to have to pay up because they were top quality. I offered him a flat $1,000 for the lot. He snorted and said he had to have $300 for the extra-large tom. I went through the pelts again, grading them out. I then offered him $300 for the big tom, $250 for another tom, and $175, $135 and $100 for the smaller cats to which he readily agreed. He had gotten his $300 for the big tom and was almost to back to the café before he realized I had given him $40 less than my original offer. Needless to say, he didn’t join us for coffee!


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