Wisconsin Fishing Shop Offers Cash for Squirrel Tails

by Matthew Wilson

Squirrel hunters can make a little extra cash this year. This Wisconsin fishing shop wants their excess squirrel tails, and they’re also willing to pay.

Since 1951, Mepps, a fishing shop, has had a decades-long tradition of turning the animal’s tails into fishing lures. It turns out that fish go nutty for squirrel tail lures. So, to supply their stock, the fishing shop has turned to hunters for a little help. Todd Sheldon first discovered the art of squirrel tail luring back in the 1950s from a fellow fisherman. And he’s also shared that knowledge with his son Mike Sheldon, the current president of Mepps.

Over the years, the shop has tried a variety of other animal furs. But fortunately for fellow woodland creatures, squirrels seem to work the best. There’s probably a rabbit somewhere in a scuba suit with a sign, urging fish to eat “More Squirrel.”

Don’t Kill Squirrels For Just The Tails

Despite offering money, Mepps doesn’t condone wanton violence or the hunting of the animal just for their tails. They prefer a more eco approach, with hunters recycling every part of their kill for instance.

“We do not condone the killing of squirrels just to get the tails or anything like that,” Nik Kolbeck, the head of Mepps marketing, told York Daily Record. “We want you to fully recycle the squirrel if you are going to send those tails to us.” 

As for how much money a squirrel tail could get you, we recommend you don’t quit your day job. The company includes a pricing scale on their website. But on average, they pay between eight to 25 cents a tail. So you’ll need a lot of squirrels to make bank. Additionally, don’t remove the tail bone or your catch will be rejected.

“We have a grading system … we determine the cost and we reimburse the costs,” Kolbeck said. “If they want cash, we give them raw value of the tails. … If they send 50 or more tails, the shipping is reimbursed.”

In an average year, Mepps makes around 150,000 lures out of the tails. A New York neighborhood probably has a squirrel or two they’re willing to part with.