You can learn a lot by attending one of North America's major fur auction events. It's a good time to look at what happens after a fur hunter sends his or her take to market—and what the market results mean to hunters.
The North American Fur Auction (NAFA) is the largest fur auction house on this continent, and it's where I normally ship my furs. I'm lucky enough to have an agent within a 30-minute drive, so I can just drop off my goods at their facility for shipment to NAFA's warehouse where furs are graded. During this process, the furs are inspected for size, color, shade and quality; then they're assigned a grade that describes in detail the condition of the skins.Auctions are only held a few times each year, with buyers from all over the world in attendance. Like most auctions, the seller pays a commission to the auction house and the buyer pays a fee as well. One of the last sales I attended took an entire week and a tremendous amount of fur changed hands.
As an example, there were 119,829 coyotes offered for sale at a recent event. All of the top- and mid-grade coyotes sold, at an average price of $88.12 and $42.92, respectively. Only 30 percent of the lower grade coyotes sold, fetching an average price of $22.82. I managed an overall overage of $80.11 for mine—and I'm happy with that.
Coyotes remain one of the wild furs for which there is a good demand. Bobcat is in even higher demand, as the top grade of this cat saw an average price of $323.07. Wild red fox isn't particularly desirable, so it managed a top average of only $35.10.
The difference is attributable to the fickle finger of fashion. Coyote prices are strong because there is a demand from the makers of fashionable winter parkas for coyote trim around hoods and other areas. Bobcat is wanted for garments and accessories. The demand will last as long as these fashion trends last, which—according to the garment manufacturers—will be for the foreseeable future.
So, if you're a predator hunter, it pays to stay aware of fur prices at these auctions. What I saw at the last sale tells me that we should be focusing on bobcats and coyotes. That means we should always be scouting out new areas, keeping an eye out for sign and talking to landowners about access.
Editor's note: Want to see someone with serious skills when it comes to skinning a coyote? Check out the video below.
P.S. Did you know North American Hunter has an online store?