Walking into the Tomahawk Live Trap factory doors in Hazlehurst, Wisconsin embedded deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, I expected to see high-tech machines and computers to ensure every cut was precise and each bend was perfect. What I saw was much different. This factory had a much more hands-on approach than I expected.
Founded in 1925, Tomahawk traps has been a staple in the live animal catching business for thousands of trappers, for both pro and novice trappers. If you could imagine a need for a live trap, chances are it has already been thought of by the folks at Tomahawk.
Walking through the factory with Greg Smith, owner of the company, I could see and hear the pride he has for the work that takes place in the little factory. As he described what takes place a little smile would sneak out from time to time. Describing his employees that work for him, it sounded more like a family than a group of co-workers.
The traps that are manufactured range from small live traps for chipmunks, larger traps for raccoons, beaver and even dogs. This might sound like any other trap company, but what about traps for bull frogs, snapping turtles, fish, feral cats and even pigeons. Besides traps, they also offer a full line of excluders (to keep critters from returning once exiting, such as your attic), gloves, catch poles, snake hooks, accessories for traps like dividers to confine animals to a certain end of the trap and trap covers to reduce stress on the animals, and more.
When I think of live traps, I imagine a single door wire cage that will allow a door to shut on an animal once it steps on the pan. I quickly learned that traps have much more to offer.
I can’t count how many live traps I have had to repair over the years that have been put through the wringer by raccoons. When Greg stood on a live trap with all his weight, I knew that Tomahawk Live Trap did not manufacture just any old trap. They build quality traps that are meant to last a lifetime. As Greg said, “they are built like tanks”.
Greg excitedly talked about the company’s line of traps and what made them different. His live traps offer strong coil springs that will quickly close on an animal, and locking doors that will prevent animals from escaping even when the trap is turned upside down. To demonstrate the power behind the doors, Greg triggered the pan on one of traps. The force it came down with was unlike anything else I have ever seen on any other live trap.
Walking through the factory, I noticed each part of the trap manufacturing process was either done by one person, or a small group of people. There were no fancy machines replacing people in this factory.
Each trap manufactured has a “recipe” and a pattern that is followed from start to finish. This ensures that each trap made is exactly the same as the one built before it, and the one that will be built next.
From the rolls of wire being bent and cut to precise measurements, support rods being shaped, the small but powerful springs for the doors being constructed, to the powder coating room which is standard on the Jim Comstock line of traps and optional on the other lines of traps, to the traps being boxed for shipment, each part of the process was handled as if the man or woman doing the work was going to take that very trap home for their own use.
I learned that Tomahawk offers several lines of live traps. Their original series, along with the other series, is available in one or two door models, and even collapsible models are available. These traps are built to withstand the test of time for the trapper that is looking for an affordable trap. Don’t get me wrong though, I witnessed these traps being built and they are tougher than any trap I have ever used before.
Taking it up a notch is the pro series. As good as the original series is, this trap has the ADC trapper in mind. This is the trap you want when you plan on trapping 24/7, 365 days a year. It is built to withstand the abuse of catching animals every day.
The next line of traps that Greg showed me were the Jim Comstock traps. Many of you reading this have heard of Jim. A while back, Tomahawk Line Trap purchased the Jim Comstock line of traps. The cool thing I noticed about these traps is that they offer a wire trigger for those animals that will not step on a trap pan. Also, these traps can be set in any position. So, if for some reason you need to put a trap on your roof, this is the trap you want.
I asked Greg what the purpose was for trappers wanting 2 doors on their traps. I suppose if I thought about it, I would have known the answer. Greg explained to me that the odds increase of catching an animal when it has two ways to enter. Also, animals are more likely to enter the trap when they can see completely though the other end without any obstructions. It was a pleasant surprise to see both doors closing at the same time when the pan was tripped.
After our walk through the factory was over, I had the chance to pick Greg’s mind a little more. I was surprised to learn that fur trappers were not the main purchaser of the traps. When asked why, I was told that when the bottom fell out of fur prices, so did the number of trappers that need new traps.
Luckily Greg caters to a wide range of people needing traps which allows his company to stay busy year-round. Of course, nuisance wildlife control companies rank right up there as a main source for people needing this trap. The other categories of people using his traps surprised me a bit.
Animal control departments are in the profession of catching animals. Of course, they are going to need live traps. Animal researchers are another purchaser of live traps, along with animal shelters, vets, and TNR groups.
What is TNR? That is the same question I asked. TNR stands for Trap Neuter Return. I think that is pretty self-explanatory when you find out what the 3 letters stand for.
It was evident as I walked through the factory that these traps are being built by people who love the outdoors as much as you and I do. They take pride in the work they do, and are proud to offer an American made product. Each trap was checked for flaws and the trigger was set and tested before being boxed to ensure that the buyer is getting a trap that is ready to be taken out of the box to start catching fur, nuisance animals, or whatever the case may be.
If you are using live traps and they are not a Tomahawk trap, do yourself a favor and at least check out what they have to offer. I think you will be pleasantly surprised as I was.