Tonnie Davis Inducted 1984

At what age did you get introduced to trapping, and who introduced you?

I trapped as a young fellow at about 12 years old and I had poor success. I picked it up again at about 22 years of age with a lot of determination and a focus on Mink, Muskrat and Raccoon. 

Who inspired you?

Kenneth A. Wilson inspired me to trap. He was a biologist for the NCWRC and had published a book on trapping. I still have his book. 

Which fur-bearers make up your yearly catch? 

I trap all NC fur-bearers. 

Which fur-bearers do you enjoy trapping most? 

It is a toss-up between Mink, Fox, Bobcat, and Otter. I think these are my favorites because they were so hard to catch in the beginning! 

Which year was your most memorable year on the trap line and why?

I don't remember the year, but keep in mind I worked 2nd shift, got off work at 1:00 am and went to bed at 2:00 am. I did that for twenty nine years out of thirty, by choice. I was up and gone during trapping season by 6am or 7 every day. 
My most memorable experience was my first ever fox catch. After having fox dig up my traps, I retreated them and reset them. On my next check, I could stand in one place and see three reds, a triple. I walked a few more yards and low and behold could see my fourth trap! It held yet another red fox. So my first fox ever turned out to be four reds out of the same field. 
My digging problem was solved. I ended that season with 407 muskrats, 40 something fox, 49 mink, and 150 raccoons. February was a 28 day beaver season. I caught 30, including 13 in one day and 5 or 6 otters. 

Do you have any personal challenges you have yet to achieve?

I need very badly to improve my coyote catch. 

Where do you see trapping in the future?

Right now, I would say it is a lot of depredation work for me. If history repeats itself, prices will go up again! It has always been a cyclical business full of lows and highs. 

What can you tell us about the early days of the NCTA?

Let me tell you about the history of the NC Trappers Association. Back in 1972, Robert Barrentine, from Laurinburg, NC, contacted me requesting my assistance to form the NC Trappers Association. He had already talked to Denver Martin from Raleigh. We immediately began working on NCTA. The first gathering was at the Denver Martin family property located on Macedonia Church road in Southeast Raleigh, known as Silver Lake. It was a lake for public swimming. There were about 20 people present. Tom Landreth and a friend came from Kentucky, and Bill Kindavata came from Virginia. At that meeting we affiliated with Fur Takers of America becoming Chapter 18. Below is a picture of my FTA shoulder patch, and the Julian Lions Club, where the 2nd meeting was held. Denver Martin was the President, I was Vice President and Robert Barrentine was treasurer. I organized the second gathering, which took place at the Julian Lion Club, in Julian, NC. The meeting was well attended. Mr. Kenneth A. Wilson, who I mentioned earlier as having a lot of influence on trapping in NC, did a real good presentation on a study he had done on muskrats in eastern marshes. His study recognized the raccoon as the biggest predator of muskrats. Raccoons were well known for digging into the muskrat lodges. At the second meeting, we moved our primary affiliation to the National Trappers Association. I became the president at the second meeting, and Denver became the vice president. I was president for the next 11 years. A lot of good times were had, and a lot of serious work was done to grow and protect our trapping privileges.


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