Legendary trapper Jake Korell died Wednesday in Riverton at 98; He was a Riverton institution and a nationally known personality

Jake Korell (Photo by Jennie Hutchinson)

Jake Korell (Photo by Jennie Hutchinson)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – For hundreds of Riverton fourth grade students, the study of Wyoming History always included a field trip to the 1838 Rendevous Site and a trapping demonstration by Jake Korell. For 75 years in Central Wyoming alone, when most are content to retire and kick back a bit, Korell plied his trapper trade, and he did so up until death Wednesday at his rural Riverton home at the age of 98. He would’ve been 99 years old next month. Korell delighted in telling anyone who would listen about his trapping, which began in Eastern Wyoming as a youth. He never gave up the trade and became a master at it.

The prime benefactor of the Wind River Heritage Center in Riverton, Jake’s wildlife mounts of Wyoming and North American wildlife and his campfire stories have thrilled young and old alike for decades. The Heritage Center maintains some 60 mounts from the Jake Korell Wildlife Collection plus an historic collection of traps dating to the early 1800s that Jake had collected over the years.

Just a few years back, a book was published chronicling the life of the well known and personable trapper. “The Last of the Breed” was written by Kit Collings and is available at local bookstores, the Heritage Center, and through on-line book sellers.

Jakes 98th birthday party was featured on County10.com. For a link to that story, click here.

A full obituary will be posted on County10.com when available.

The Wind River Heritage Center on South Federal Boulevard in Riverton is dedicated to preserving the natural and human history of the West, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

In an interview with our County10.com news partner Leslie Stratmoen, news director at KVOW/KTAK, Wind River Heritage Center Director Lew Diehl and long time friend said just this year Jake had trapped 100 coyotes, four bobcats, 8 or 10 badgers and 10-12 raccoons. Diehl said Korell was preparing another trapping trip for Wednesday. Hear his comments here. 

“It was just something that came naturally, for him,” Diehl said, “as a way to earn a living, from the time he was a little boy, but it did cut his traditional school learnin’ a bit short.” Hear that clip here.

Stratmoen interviewed Jake right before his birthday last year. To listen to the show that aired live on April 17, 2012, click here.

Some 60 mounts of the Jake Korell Collection are on display at the Wind River Heritage Center in Riverton. (Ernie Over photo)

Some 60 mounts of the Jake Korell Collection are on display at the Wind River Heritage Center in Riverton. (Ernie Over photo)