Mepps has been a leader in the fishing lures for decades. They are known primarily for their hand-tied dressed hooks using squirrel tails.
Over the years they have tried many natural and synthetic materials including bear hair, fox, coyote, badger, Angus cow, and many others. Mepps has found that no other material works as well as squirrel hair.
This is where hunters come into play. Mepps needs your squirrel tails. More than 250,000 a year in fact.
So, how do you as a hunter recycle your squirrel tails and what is in it for you?
The first thing I must emphasize is not to shoot a squirrel just to sell its tail. Only recycle the squirrel’s tails once the animal has been properly dressed for human consumption. Also, squirrels from the states of California and Idaho are illegal to sell along with the western grey squirrel in the state of Oregon.
Once you have killed a squirrel, the first thing you should do once it is cleaned is to remove the tail. Unlike other animals you dress out for the fur trade, Mepps wants you to leave the bone in the tail. Tails that have been deboned and split have no value.
Once you have the tail removed the next step is to salt the butt end of the tail. Dry salt or a strong saltwater solution will work for this.
When drying the tail, make certain the tail is straight. If the tail is dried in a curved position, it cannot be used by Mepps. Also, keep tails away from flies. Tails that have been exposed to flies cannot be used. To prevent this from happening, it is best to store the tails in a freezer.
Spoilage is another concern. Do not put tails in a plastic bag for storage or shipment. It is likely the tails could heat up and spoil. Another good way to combat spoilage is to ship the tails in the cold months of the year. However, dried tails can be shipped any time of the year.
Once you have enough tails to sell, you can either sell directly at the Mepps factory located in Antigo, Wisconsin, or you can ship them.
Shipping is refunded if you have more than 50 tails to sell. Inside your package of tails include your name, address, phone number and email address. Also, let them know if you want cash or to trade them in for lures. If you choose to trade them for lures, Mepps will double the value of the tails.
If your package is less than 10 pounds, ship it either through first-class mail or Priority mail. More 10 pounds should be shipped UPS.
Once Mepps receives your tails they will be graded. If you chose to sell your tails a check will be sent to you. If you chose to trade your tails for lures you will be contacted for your lure order.
The quality of the tail and how many you send will dictate what you get paid per tail. For example, a single tail from a red squirrel is paying 8¢ each. But several premium tails are paying as much as 26¢ each.
More information about the Mepps squirrel tail recycling program can be found on its website, www.mepps.com.