The "good money" part is always in doubt because of the fickle nature of the fashion market, but the most recent auction sale of furs shows that some fur is back in demand and coyotes are leading the parade.
Values in the fur industry are determined simply. Trappers and hunters send their furs to an auction house where they’re graded according to size, color and quality. Then several sales are held during the course of the year, with buyers from all over the world attending. If demand for a species is strong, so are prices. If demand is dismal, fur producers get squat. It's the free market at its purest.
The North American Fur Auction (NAFA) just held their first sale of the year, and because they’re the largest fur auction house on the continent, the results are a major indicator of where the market sits right now.
With only some wild furs represented in this sale, it's still too early to judge the value of all furs typically taken by hunters—especially bobcat, which were not offered for sale. However, I expect cat hunters will do well in upcoming sales.
Unfortunately, raccoon hunters might as well stay home these days. Prices on these beautiful furs were so bad they were withdrawn from the sale by the auction house. Wild fox stayed at roughly the same level as previous years with the best grades averaging about $32 per pelt. Coyotes more than tripled that value, coming in about $20 dollars higher than last year with the best grades averaging $108 per hide, easily making them the highlight of the sale for hunters.
This demand for coyotes is being driven by the trim market. Coyote fur is particularly beautiful and practical as fur trim around the hoods of parkas. There’s no better example to be found than the iconic Canada Goose parkas, which typically feature down fill and fur trim and can even be seen—gasp—on Hollywood stars.
If you've ever been north of the Arctic Circle you'll recognize these parkas as everyone's daily wear in that part of the world, even though they can cost $800 each. Fashion doesn't count there, but warmth does and these parka's deliver. Now they're a fashion item. Go figure.
It's certainly fine with me. As usual, my fur-handling assistants helped me load the truck when it came time to ship my coyotes to the auction house, and I hope to have another load ready for a future sale. Helping control predators and getting paid to do it is great. About the only thing better is hanging out with my two assistants. In a few years they might even want to come hunting with me.