Craig O’Gorman of Montana
The History and Reputation of O’Gorman Long Line Lures®
1988 Season on the O.L.L.
I, L. Craig O’Gorman, was born in Mason City, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, my folks moved to Cody, Wyoming, and homesteaded there on the banks of the Shoshone River. After a few years, they moved back to Decorah, Iowa. Northeastern Iowa was famous for its rolling hills, rough country, limestone hills, and trout streams. Here I began my career. First on pocket gophers for bounty, and then graduated into bounty fox trapping. From there it was an early progression into mink, coon, rat, and beaver. By the time I was old enough to drive a car, my foot lines and car lines run by my mother chauffeuring, were in the past. I was already knocking down over 50 fox a season plus a pile of water fur.
My freshman year at college was spent more trapping than studying. By then I had already had 13 fox in one day’s run from my traps. And I already had for competition, men of extreme trapping caliber, such as: Bud Hall, John Smith, and Jim Stevens, all trapping through the same country. Bud Hall was good enough to keep up a 25 fox a day average, for rather lengthy periods. John Smith broke over a 1,000, in a 3 month period.
From this area I moved out to Omaha, Nebraska. I ran lines in various portions of Iowa, Nebraska and Montana for the next seven years.
For seven years I operated inside the city limits and suburbs of the metropolitan area of Omaha. One year I caught 1/6th of all the fox caught in the state of Nebraska. I trapped many hundreds of rats, coon, mink, beaver and coyote in this high people populated area. Plus each year, state hopped around either early or late and spent several laterpart of the seasons working at a fur buyers, learning how to skin, grade, and sell fur.
Back in 1969, I took instruction from Bill Nelson who was a master at whatever animal he set his mind to.
In the early 70’s, I took instruction from John K. Smith, Don Bolte, and J. Curtis Grigg. Both Bolte and Grigg, besides their great mink knowledge, were good on coon. Bolte, so good, that one winter he took 60 coon in one night, 400 in 10 days, and 980 coon, 60 mink, and 300 rats alone in one season.
Since then I have got to know men of considerable caliber on other specialties: Big Joe Reder – 600 coon in 60 days, and frequent catches of 300-400 beaver in late November and December, on the Missouri
River in slush ice; George Good, with many years of experience on fox and coyote. Also a top flat set specialist: Slim Pedersen, the originator of the Pedersen Knot and large loop method of snaring, that has taken highs of 223 bobcats part time in a trapping season. Bill Austin, originator of “The Call of the Coyote” on coyote calling. Bud Hall with 10,000 fox; 7,400 mink and 3,000 beaver to his credit; Vernon Hopkins who wrote the most complete methods of Modern Snaring in 1958; Vern Dorn king of the coyote denners and originator of the “Dorn Whistle” and the Dorn line of calling dogs, who took 50,000 coyotes in his lifetime and over 400 coyotes with a rifle and dogs in one year at the age of 73. These, and many dozens of more men that kill fur for a living have helped shape my career, ideas, and concepts.
I started doing instructions in 1973 when Bill Nelson’s wife Edith, turned over to me what instructions Bill had scheduled before his death. I have instructed over 1,400 students.
I started making lures in 1973 for commercial resale, and turned the business over to Dana in 1978.
• In 1973 we started the modification trend and had Ron Hansen incorporate my ideas of the first modifications needed to improve the old pinch pan, 1 1⁄2 Victor Trap. He welded in a #2 adjustable pan, added #2 springs, #2 swivels and added #2 chain to the 1 1⁄2; ideas later adopted by the factory.
• In 1973, we were the first to market an ‘all metal’ Sifter made by Bill Anfinsin, out of sheet metal gauge duct material with a soldered and pop riveted wire screen bottom. • In 1974, I started using Coal Shale.
• In 1975 we introduced the first welded skinning pole for pickups, to the trapping world. • 1975, we were the first in the industry to recommend in print in “Wolfer Man”, to use Coal Shale for winter trap covering.
• 1976, we were the first to sell the Base Plate, D-Ring & swivel.
• In 1977 due to frustration with the losses of the coyote traps for the time, we were the field tester for the MJ-600 trap built by student Glen Sterling; a trap that used 4 coils, wide offset smooth jaws, an innovative new wire lever system, base plate D-Ring swivel. Ideas copied years later by the new comers to the industry. We were the first company in the U.S.A. to sell a laminated jawed trap with reinforced base plate, swiveled with the modifications to the #3 and #4 Dogless Montgomery trap, put on by Glen Sterling. Ideas we later put on the #3 Northwood’s and now use on the #3 Bridger Traps. An idea later proved by science in the B.M.P.’s to be in the animals and trappers best interest.
• In 1977 we were the first company to emphasize selling lure in pints and bait in gallons and 5 gallon quantities from the 1 oz. mentality.
• First stated in our 1978-1979 catalog, “Put the Paw on the Pan” till present day. • In 1980, we put the first commercial High Rolling Hammer on the market. An idea emulated by many in the industry now.
• In 1981, we put the first all steel “lifetime sifter” developed by Clinton Starke, on the market to solve constant replacement of the cheap disposable sifters of the time.
• In 1981, we introduced the Eddie Wimberley High Plains Plow to put a drag on the market that left more sign and hooked better than anything on the market, bringing “dragging” into a new level of efficiency. It had the first “pounded” points in the industry and was the first “antihitch” ever put on a drag.
• In 1983, we introduced the first Wyoming X, a 61/2″ smooth jawed, long spring trap; the first Wyoming XX trap with an 8″ jaw spread and the first Wyoming XXX trap with a 9″ jaw spread long spring Beaver traps custom-made with teeth because no factory was producing them.
• In 1983, we introduced the first Wyoming Stake Swivel, a box swivel with TWO holes so it could be used as a mid-chain or as a stake swivel. • In 1983, The System was put on the market and sold to trappers who could keep it a secret. It was the first all-metal slider used in culverts and in different lengths for beaver as one-piece, reusable drownder. We sold it until one “bottom feeder” stole the idea and put it on the video and then we took it off the market. • In 1984, we were the first to bring a complete line of videos on trapping to the industry.
• In 1984, we purchased from Vern Dorn, the original Dorn Calling and Denning dogs. At that time the bloodline was 35 years old. Although there are individuals who claim to have the original Dorn Bloodline; we are the only true breeders of the O’Gorman/Dorn Dog. The lineage continues today through us with 69+ years behind it. If the dogs are not purchased directly from us, they are not true O’Gorman/Dorn Dogs.
• In 1985, we were the first to market a Cavalry Picket Pin Swivel to treat a predator to better swiveling at the stake, copying the original Cavalry Picket Pin used for horses.
• In 1988 we introduced nationwide the first dependable, efficient Iowa Disposable Stake developed by Ron Hansen, to stop animals from pumping stakes and reducing theft. These made steel trap stakes obsolete for the real trappers.
• In 1988 we were the first to market snare Wammys and Kill Pole Stakes nationwide which changed snaring forever, also developed by Ron Hansen.
• In 1989 we were the first to market the Hopkins Break Away Device “S-Hooks” to save snaring by releasing large non-target species since the Gregerson shear out locks.
• In 1993, we were the first company to sell a commercial auger developed by Carl Gitscheff to make dirt holes.
• In 1993, we were the first company in the U.S.A. to sell a Granulated Wax and easy system for “solar” waxing dirt.
• In 1995, we were the first company to market the Big Sand Stake invented by Daryl’s Welding, to incorporate a better disposable stake to use in ‘blow sand’ of the sand hills, as well as the bottomless sand and mud in rivers.
• In 1996, we had the first all Steel Trowel put on the market, to stop the broken handles and bent trowel problems.
• In 1996, we were the first to market Cedar Fiber for trap covering in freezing weather conditions.
• In 1999 we were the first private company to introduce the Mullins Shear Pins (High Desert Break Away Cam Shear Pins).
• In 1999 we were the first company to offer the 50 Lb. Snare Tension Quick Choke Spring; followed in March of 2001 with the 75 Lb. Snare Tension Quick Choke Spring.
• In 2002 we were the first to market the Devils Hat Pins developed by Moninger; to have a simplified, stable, snare support system that didn’t turn in the wind like other systems in use.
NOTICE: It is important to understand that if we sell a product; we have tested it. We don’t market untested failures. We only market trap brands, cable, locks, etc. that are consistently professional quality all the way and have been proven in performance on the Long Line and Animal Damage Control Work. I wouldn’t own a truck that only started 90% of the time anymore than I would use a trap that lost 10-30% of the animals that were caught in it. If I don’t carry a brand of traps or snare locks; THERE IS A REASON.
• In 2002, Daryl’s Welding was making the Montana Simplicity Snare Supports for me personally; in May of 2005 he began producing them for commercial resale exclusively for O’Gorman’s.
• In 2004 we were the first company to market “coated” steel screen for pan covers. • In 2004 the first to sell lure in 2 oz. bottles, rendering obsolete, the 1 oz. mentality.
• In 2005, first company to market High Desert Spears by Mullins (later copied by people short on originality).
• In 2012, Wolf Wacker was released. Twice the power and pressure of any other Torsion Style or Stinger Style Spring; intended to quickly kill large coyotes and timber wolves.
I have run-besides long fur lines specializing in fox, coyote, mink, coon, beaver, and rats-private programs for Predator Control. Bounty work, so good, once with a partner, bankrupted a county’s bounty funds. I have worked for 6 years part time and full time for the Federal Government in Predator Control.
I have over 1,475,200 trapline miles behind me personally and over 49,150 total animals in my trapping career. Best 12 month coyote kills: 1,423, 1,343 and 1,105.
My best day on fox is 30 fox, 1 coyote, 1 cat, 7 badger and 1 coon out of 60 traps; 400 in 20 days; 500 in 30 days. My best on my coon and coyote line in Nebraska is 16 coon and 5 coyotes. My best day on a fox and coyote mixed line is 24 fox, 8 coyote and 2 coon. My best on coyote alone is 20 in one day; 27 in 2 days; and 103 in 10 days. My best on beaver is 30 in one day out of 65 sets with a partner. 7 mink at 1 stop in a short section of creek; 3 under one bridge one morning. My best on cats is 9 in one day. Best season 71 cats; next best was 69 cats.
I have written a lot of articles and various books, such as Co-Author of High Rolling Fox Trapping, Sept., 1974; Author of Wolfer Man, Sept., 1975; The O’Gorman Style of Predator Trapping, July, 1977; Open Water Beaver Snaring, Sept., 1978; Coon Snaring, Summer, 1978; High Rolling Fox Trapping, May, 1982; High Rolling Coon Trapping, May, 1982; Coon Update, May 1985; Fox Update, May 1985; Fox Update, April 1988; Hoofbeats Of A Wolfer, The O’Gorman Style of Coyote Trapping, August 1990; Hoof Beats Of A Wolfer Update 1992; High Rolling Fox Trapping Update 1993; Snare Update & Expanded Coverage of Snaring for the Hoof Beats Of A Wolfer 1995; 1996 Coon Update to High Rolling Coon Trapping; 1996 Snare Update for Hoof Beats Of A Wolfer; 2003 Update and 2006 Update for Hoof Beats Of A Wolfer. I have written articles for the Iowa Trappers Association; N.T.A. in the 1970’s; “Trapper” Magazine, etc., and was Field Editor in 1976 for the “Trapper”. I have also written articles for “Trapper’s World” magazine.
I have been a director for the Iowa Assoc., National Trappers Association Representative for Nebraska, one of the founders of the Nebraska Association, a past Director of the Montana Association; I am a lifetime member of the N.R.A., the Iowa Trappers Association, the National Trappers Association, the Montana Trappers Association and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance; I have paid my dues. and contribute money and time for the betterment of trapping for over 58 years; almost half of it in a full time manner.
You would be shocked if you knew the reality today in our industry, the overwhelming percentage of people selling you lures, snare and trap videos that are really fur buyers or have multiple partners or only trap or snare long enough to produce a video for the year. In fact you would be amazed how few even trap or snare anymore; or how few days or weeks they do. Many couldn’t cut it as a fur trapper or an Animal Damage Control man and found it easier and more profitable, as a fur buyer, to trap you. Many times on products, how many days or weeks has the product been tested; in essence it is being tested on you, by you.
O’Gorman Wins Flock Guardian Award at the American Sheep Industry Convention
O’Gorman Keeps Predators In Check
By Carla Bowers
Charles and Vera Carter along with Dan, Lisa, Carter and Lydia Lynch would like to add Craigʼs name to the list of people who contribute to our community. “Craig spends many hours working to keep Powder River County predator free. His days are filled with trapping and driving many miles. Craig knows this county from corner to corner. We very much appreciate his efforts to protect the cattle and sheep. His efforts contribute to the strong Agricultural Community that Powder River County is.”
When Craig OʼGorman came to Powder River County as a Federal Trapper in 1976, due to bureaucracy, environmental pressure and mission statement, he could only technically work 36 hours per week, which was not enough. He was instructed that the job was 70 percent Public Relations, 20 percent paperwork and 10 percent killing coyotes. This policy was costing Powder River County thousands of dead livestock per year.
When Powder River County went to a Private Program, then OʼGorman could be on call and allowed to work 365 days out of the year. He has dedicated his time completely, and in the last 30 plus years county-wide sheep loss has been kept at 1 to 3 percent annual loss, well under the state average. This has kept more sheep on the tax rolls than most counties in Montana; for a number of years we were #3 in the state.
In 31 years here in Powder River County, OʼGorman has taken over 33,000 predatory animals. The best year was 1,423 animals. The first fiscal year of the cow tax, he took 1,343 coyotes for the 12 months.
Our #1 commodity is grass; thus livestock make money. Dead ones donʼt. Powder River County has aserious weed problem, and sheep are one tool as natureʼs weed eaters.
OʼGorman has always felt weeds and coyotes are similar. “You win battles, but you donʼt win the war and eradicate weeds or coyotes. You simply control and manage them,” says OʼGorman.
Most people who enjoy wildlife or depend on hunting dollars fund predator management to increase their viewing enjoyment and increase their revenue from wildlife.
OʼGorman explains the Powder River County Predator Program has been predicated and focused on two main principles. First, the population reduction, which is best accomplished when the females are bred. Thus, OʼGorman focuses intently on a high kill of bred females from January 15 on, as it is easier and more economical to kill a bred female and her 6 pups that she is carrying, than to spend days trying to find a 24-inch den hole in 18 square miles of rough ground later. It is a research proven fact that coyotes raising pups require more food; thus, more livestock and big game are taken for coyote families.
Usually O’Gorman takes 70 to 100 bred female coyotes resulting in 300 to 600 coyote pups gone before any feed requirements. Recently O’Gorman took 157 coyotes in 40 hours of helicopter time, with the biggest litter of 10 pups.
The second focus is damage before prevention. If a rancher is losing a $100 lamb or a $600 calf, it is more important to stop the killing than answer a call where no loss has yet occurred. However, he will answer the call as time allows. Stopping depredation is priority, similar to fighting a fire that is going, versus fire prevention.
Powder River County is not a wealthy county. We only have enough funds to pay for eight months of predator control service. We don’t have the resources to have equipment on a ranch twelve months out of the year. O’Gorman fur traps the ranches during the winter months when he is on his own time, which efficiently helps the ranchers.
Craig mentions, in essence, it is a research proven fact that overuse of any tool can cause habituation and makes coyotes harder to catch when they are causing economic loss. In this business you learn to do it right the first time because a coyote learns very fast. In a research study of 155 coyotes that had a bad trap experience, only 30 were captured and only 4 out of 155 were ever captured again. Thus, one mistake by you or your equipment, and you have an animal that can and will kill and spend thousands of dollars to capture.
When having livestock loss, O’Gorman says it is important to report each and every loss the rancher finds. Communication is the key. O’Gorman may have five to ten ranches experiencing killing at one time. Whenever a rancher calls with problems is where Craig goes. If you are not having problems, you are not going to get the same level of service as the rancher that is having kills. That is just a reality.
O’Gorman says he takes pride and satisfaction in protecting the livestock of Powder River County. He enjoys working for the ranchers and killing coyotes, with a capital K. And that communication, communication, communication is the key to protecting the ranchers livestock.
Invariably, when the subject of conversation is predator control or trapping, the name Craig O’Gorman comes up. Renowned among his peers as one of the best and most progressive in his profession. Craig is still humble enough to seek knowledge from anyone. He is a truly intelligent man who realizes that he will never know it all and never tires of learning.
Craig is on deck working when most of us are three or four hours from beginning the workday. The rancher is the last one to get paid from the sale of livestock – behind the feed company, banks, taxes and so forth. Therefore, the first lamb or calf killed comes from the rancher’s pocket. Craig understands this and is driven to stop the damage as quickly as possible. While many people can trap a fair number of nomadic juvenile coyotes in winter, the ability to quickly take out an offending adult coyote during summer without wasting time on other coyotes is what separates the men from the boys.
Craig wears many hats, among them trapper, helicopter gunner, teacher, politician, lobbyist and diplomat. His is a controversial position and he is required to deal with facts of business that are unique to his alone. He must deal with bureaucrats, individualistic stockmen and other natural resource users, students from around the nation and old helicopters flown by old pilots.
While Craig is the guy on the ground he is also a member of a team. His wife Dana handles the business end of O’Gorman Enterprises, which includes advertising, sales and shipping of trapping products. In addition to this, Dana is also hostess to Craig’s trapping students and helicopter pilots. Dana’s involvement in the business allows Craig to make the predator control economically feasible, which is not easy to do with tens of thousands of gravel road miles per year in a $30$40,000 pickup. Officially the secretary for O’Gorman Enterprises, Nancy Kane handles much of the bookwork as well as sales and shipping of trapping products. When a distraught rancher calls to report several hundred dollars worth of livestock killed, it is Nancy who takes the description as to when, where and how many. Nancy then reads the report back for accuracy which is always nearly perfect, including profanity. Virtually everyone in Powder River County benefits from this team— ranchers obviously but also hunters and outfitters due to decreased predator numbers. Less coyote pressure equals more bobcats for all fur trappers. Fewer dead lambs, calves and fawns means more money circulating in the local economy. Thank you, Craig, Dana
and Nancy! Respectfully submitted, Floyd Huckins. “We would like to thank the O’Gorman team (Craig, Dana and Nancy) for their energetic dedication to the livestock industry in Powder River County. It is amazing how promptly Craig responds when we report a kill, considering the size of the county and the number of ranchers that he works for. We are definitely lucky to have a private predator control program with Craig, Dana and Nancy in charge.” Thanks again, Tom, Carla, Jim and Kathy Bowers.—Carla Bowers.
NOTE: This article first appeared in the Powder River Examiner. We thank Joe Stuver and Carla Bowers for reprint permission for your pleasure.