The term "mountain men" refers to men(and a very few really tough women) who roamed the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada in search of beaver.

Mountain men were active from approx. 1810 to 1870 with the apex of Rocky Mountain beaver trapping from the 1830's thru the 1840's.

How many beaver traps did the "typical" mountain man use?

Bonus Question: In a good year, how many beavers could our "typical" mountain main trap each year and what was the average price of each beaver pelt?

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    How much fur would a fur trapper trap if a fur trapper would trap fur? – Schwern Dec 10 '16 at 20:33
  • As much fur as a fur trapper could trap, if a fur trapper would trap fur. – Pieter Geerkens Dec 14 '16 at 3:37

Not as many as you might think.

From The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West..., Volume 2 By Washington Irving, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville(pg 449)

The outfit of trapper is generally a rifle, a pound of powder and four pounds of lead with a bullet mould, seven traps, an axe, a hatchet, a knife and awl,a camp kettle, two blankets and where supplies are plenty seven pounds of flour. He has generally two or three horses to carry himself his baggage and peltries. Two trappers commonly go together for the purposes of assistance and support a larger party could not easily escape the eyes of the Indians.

The original story, written and published in 1837, was from Bonneville's notes and maps concerning his Expedition of 1832.

Concerning the second part of your question, From a web page concerning western history:Traders, Trappers, and Mountain Men

The fur trade actually reached its peak sometime between 1830 and 1832. At that time, pelts brought trappers an average of $4 to $6 per pound. A resourceful Mountain Man could trap 400 to 500 pounds per year. By 1840, the price had fallen to $1 or $2 per pound, and depletion of the beaver reduced the average trap to 150 pounds--hardly worth the time of an ambitious man who could otherwise earn $350 to $500 per year. By 1840, perhaps only 50 to 75 trappers remained in the West, a far cry from the 500 to 600 who worked in the region during the late 1820s.

  • Very interesting. Now I'm curious whether people would be fur trappers for a long time out whether it was a short time investment of a couple years before returning to more normal life. – Unrelated Dec 12 '16 at 0:27

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