It may look like an indistinguishable pile of fur, but Chance Smith knows that the trailer he’s pulling contains coyotes, bobcats and several other types of animals. Some of them came from folks right here in Holyoke. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications
From rural hunters to luxury parkas, Holyoke is part of expansive fur industry
Like clockwork, Chance Smith rolled up to the Holyoke Kwik Stop at 1 p.m. last Wednesday, and locals promptly arrived to sell him their furs.
He passes through town about every other Wednesday from November through February. He’s only around for roughly 10 minutes each time, but locals interested in selling furs, antlers or hides know where to find him. Even those who aren’t hunters or trappers and haven’t done business with Smith have likely noticed the “fur guy” stationed near the stoplight every once in a while.
Smith works for Petska Fur, a fur buying business out of Ord, Nebraska. Smith himself travels throughout a six-state area buying furs, but Petska covers over twice that, buying from Texas to North Dakota and all the way over to Idaho.
On Jan. 30, Smith’s most recent stop in Holyoke, his route began in Genoa, went across to Burlington and continued up to Chappell, Nebraska, with 10 stops from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. That’s just one of the seven Petska routes that have stops in Colorado.
Owner Greg Petska said that the company has at least three trucks on the road every day, and on weekends there’s six or seven.
Petska Fur buys all quality furs, antlers, and deer and elk hides. The company also sells skulls and specimens for taxidermy purposes. At the moment, the most common animal being sold for fur is coyotes, but Smith said he buys bobcats, porcupines, raccoons, badgers and foxes regularly as well. Recently he even purchased a mountain lion and a wolf.
Petska noted that the current demand for coyote fur is the highest he’s seen since the ’70s. He credits the surge to the popularity of Canada Goose parkas that feature a fur ruff on the hood. In the wake of their success, of course, other companies have been quick to follow suit, and the demand for raw materials has skyrocketed.
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