Joe Mast – Pennsylvania
There were five of us kids with me being ten years younger than the one closest to me. Dad and my brothers hunted and fished when there was time from a busy farm life. Only one of my brothers trapped any to speak of. Dad told of when he was young about trapping and hunting skunks, they got good money for them in the 1930’s.
When I was 8 we moved to central Pennsylvania. The stream along the house got a good workout from my coon trapping. The local skunk and opossum numbers dropped off good too. I think I was 16 when the first fox was caught. In those days all the boys in school trapped as fur prices were going up fast. A good friend and I partnered up and trapped all fall and winter. We got to where we could catch foxes in good numbers.
Coyote numbers started to climb so they became the target of all the local trappers. Sometime in the early 90’s a chance encounter with a guide from Maine made it possible to go there and trap. The next 10 years of so trapping in Maine had a big impact on the rest of my life as a trapper. It also made testing lures much faster due to he high coyote numbers. This helped my line of lures grow.
On one of my first trapping trips to Maine I saw a large bull moose and was bitten bad by the desire to hunt them. Well 16 years later the tag was finally drawn. Tobey was hired of course for the hunt. On day two I was lucky enough to bag a 55” bull. He now hangs in my office and I still find it hard to believe how big he is.
One year in the early 90’s my wife sent me to the F.T.A. Trappers College. It was a very good experience. I still have friends today from that trip. I think it was about 1994 when a trip to Maine was made to trap a bear. The best thing to compare bear trapping to is it’s like catching a really big coon. The 150lb bear is just across the room from the moose.
Sometime about 1990 the local trapping supply dealer wanted to retire so I jumped into the supply business. When fur prices are high it can keep you busier than you want to be. As the business grew I started to collect urine from my own animals as good quality urine is hard to find.
Over the years Keith Winkler of Sterling and I became good friends. In March of 2014 the call came that changed everything. Keith had bought Hawbaker’s Lures and was looking to hire help to make the lure. Over the next 6 months or so I got to spend a lot of time with Edwin Hawbaker. Edwin and his wife are very kind and helpful people. That first gray fox I caught on Hawbaker 800 sure had come full circle. To be part of a company as fine as Sterling Fur is an honor in itself. The honor and responsibility of Hawbaker’s Lures is something I take very seriously.