Life Of An Alaskan Trapper

David G. Duncan, a Michigan resident, got to fulfill a longtime dream of fur trapping in Alaska. Local trapper Brad Parsons had David tag along, and he shared his story with us and will appear in the January issue of Alaska Sporting Journal. Here is a snippet of David’s story with some additional photos:

PUTTING TOGETHER THE PLANS for an expedition into a remote wilderness area, where small mistakes in planning could lead to real survival risks, got me to thinking how the great Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton must have felt as he planned his 1,500-mile hike to the South Pole. Well, I do know that most of the Antarctic explorers made it back safely, and they did not have modern snow machines or an experienced Alaskan trapper along on their adventure. So I was sure I had nothing to fear.
I had arrived at Brad’s cabin in early October, with two new snow machines and a lot of trapping equipment. Our plan was to use Brad’s 10-man squad tent as our base camp at Kaina Lake. So I thought it might be a good idea for me to live in the tent prior to our mountain trapping adventure, just to make sure there would be no surprises related to its ability to protect us against the 40- and 50-below temperatures. We would be relying on this tent for shelter during our several weeks’ stay at Kaina Lake. So for the next month I would call this tent my home as the temperatures steadily dropped from lows of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, to zero and below.
I had experienced several first-time moments already during my first few weeks living with Brad. He’d prepared us meals of delicious grizzly bear roast and steaks from a fresh-killed caribou. Now, with trapping season fast approaching, I was looking forward to adding lynx to my list of wild Alaskan meats I had eaten. Brad told me it tastes just like fine pork. Well, at least that is a switch; he did not say it tastes just like chicken!
Brad took me on a 10-mile hike on one of his trap lines near his cabin. I had the distinct feeling that the hike was probably more to check out my stamina and ability to withstand the rigors we would be facing during our upcoming Kaina Lake adventure. I am sure he must have been more than a little apprehensive as to whether a 66-year-old Michigan trapper could handle the extremes of a high-mountain, deep-snow trap line. Brad carried his Marlin .444 just in case we saw a caribou. We did not see any caribou on this hike, but we did see an old grizzly den site. Fortunately, no grizzly bear was at home on this day.

Photos courtesy of David G. Duncan

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