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We Buy Raw Fur
& Deer Hides

The final bid on the sign that read ‚ÄúWe Buy Raw Fur & Deer Hides‚Äù was $75.00 and I was delighted to know I would be taking it home. For decades, thousands of coon hunters and trappers had walked by the make shift sign on their way into an old barn to sell their sacks full of fur or buy some trapping supplies at Truex Furs in Nappanee, Indiana.  I had been there only once, with my buddy Kirk Johnson from Warsaw, Indiana five or six years ago.  We took his two young boys, Sawyer and Morgan and my son Wyatt into sell some of the coons they had helped carry out of the woods during the season so they would have a little Christmas shopping money for their mom‚Äôs.  Everyone that I ever talked to in this part of the country seemed to know of Mr. Truex‚Äôs large trap collection and the boys were wide eyed looking at all of the tanned furs and piles of ready to be skinned fox, coyotes, coon and beaver.  The coon market was just getting good again and the boys thought they‚Äôd hit the jackpot when owner Doug Truex kept piling the $10 dollar bills into their anxiously waiting hands.  Priceless smiles were on their faces as they walked out the door. They had hit the jackpot!

I remember my grandfather taking me into a place like that as a kid. The smell and sights left a lifelong impression, ‚ÄúMaybe someday I‚Äôll have a place like that and be able to catch piles of fur‚Äù I said to myself. Taking Wyatt into Truex‚Äôs shop for the first time was a special moment in my life and even today, for me, there is just nothing like the smell of a fur shed.‚Ķ.a mixture of gland lures, fish oils, drying hides, and a pile of coon fat on the floor.  It is the smell of ‚Äúfreedom‚Äù, an escape back to childhood years without the responsibilities that come from growing older.

A
t 77, and a few years into a depressed fur market, with aching shoulders and an irregular beating ‚Äúticker‚Äù, it was time for Doug Truex to get out of the ‚Äúgame‚Äù and slow down a little bit.  A couple days before the auction I received an email from Kirk with the details of the sale and headed south on a mid-April morning.  I wish I could have stayed at the auction longer but Saturdays are busy in the Spring and there was lawn to be mowed, heated water buckets in the kennels to be cleaned and shelved for the coming months, hounds to be fed and of course, plans for Easter. 

I
enjoy going to auctions.  Many times I don‚Äôt stay long because the things I am interested in are not going to sell for several hours and I just don‚Äôt have the time or patience to sit around and wait that long.  There is a part of me that enjoys these sales. There is also a part of me that is saddened over the inevitability of life. Every man and family has their story.  When old folks fought hard and scratched and clawed for their dreams and built a farm, or whatever it was, so many times there is no one to pass along their legacy to and it is sold off, many times by their children.  A Man‚Äôs life, everything he has materially worked for, accomplished or collected over his lifetime is gone in a few hours and carried off by strangers‚Ķ. somehow, that doesn‚Äôt feel quite right. 

I
n Truex Fur‚Äôs case, it is another country fur buyer that has closed up shop. I have a lifetime of memories that always put a smile on my face when I think of going in and out of similar places with buddies like Big Jay Darr and Dave Weaver from Warsaw, Ohio, my brother Charlie and so many more.  Friend Allen Mast talked of the great memories he had in Truex‚Äôs shop during the heydays of the fur era when he was a hired skinner and listened to the old timers tell their stories and share some secrets. As each one of these small guys close their doors it is as if a tiny piece of our history, a country built on the back bone of the beaver trapping industry, is slipping away.

I hope Doug Truex finds comfort in the fact that so many of the traps and trinkets he collected over his life have now brought tremendous joy to hundreds of people, including me, who will always treasure the sign that hung outside his building for so many years.

Safe Travels Friends,

– Big Mark

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