Long liners -vs.-part timers

Trout Whisperer

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I have a very good canoeing buddy. I trap and he traps, we both hunt and fish but the only thing we end up doing together most years is canoeing. I might add these are not cute little paddle around the quiet lakeshore canoe trips.

It's industrial strength; down the river over twenty miles with portages and shooting rapids, hopefully without busting up our respective canoes, we alternate. However, paddles are expendable. Brother, you better have a life jacket you trust and it fits extremely well.

We both study maps all year long. He will get the “itch” for a new piece of water and the negotiations begin. This is where you can flip a coin. A Canadian nickel for instance and if I get heads I lose. Because the “tail” of the coin has the beaver on it. That's the deciding factor for the winner.

My river trip scheming start's in earnest about January. Somewhere around twenty below zero air temps. Hibernation is in full effect. Breaking out my county or superior national forest maps and I number the planned routes by degree of difficulty. I like a three, a five is too easy and I avoid the class ones. No sense in ruining a canoe.

By late April were finishing the spring beaver trapping season. I'm not the long liner he is and my recreational beaver trapping ends with the disappearing guard hairs on pelts. May is the start of the walleye season in Minnesota. By July we have settled into the summer mosquito season. It's actually the best time to be on moving water.

We both have vehicles capable of shuttling a canoe so we drop one at the take out spot,
And head for the put-in. During these canoe trips he gps's any really hot beaver trapping spots. I'm looking for big stream corners that will hold fish.

When we download the data, if he gets enough “beaver fever” as he calls it, which means potential trapping sites, he adds it to the next falls route. Scouting with a “long liner” is quite an eye opener for a recreational trapper like me. Spend one day with a long liner,
You will see trapping with all the gloss and nostalgia and fur removed.

When you learn to trap and set for a lodge of beavers you read feed bed sign and runs and mud trails. When you start looking at the same lodge with a long liner, he is thinking how much steel he has to bring into this remote sight. How many total traps for twenty plus miles and 16 gauge tie wire or Will he go snares instead of body-grips and do you rough skin so you’re not portaging 20lbers. Miles per hour in a canoe going downstream is one thing when you’re scouting. It becomes critical in the fall with the daily loss of daylight and trap tending with success. Empty traps are easily tended. Success is work.

Camp axe, along with four precise swings and off comes four beaver feet. When he opens the carpet on a beaver pelt it is one slice to the incisors. No cutting or fleshing. The experience level for a long liner and ability with a knife becomes real visible, real quick.

He does not make a cut or any cuts. The knife slices. Not just any knife. Not just any sheath.

Castors come off like I would open a jar. He grips and twists with a fluid knife stroke. Done. Gravity is helping; the weight of the beaver once set on the ground is never fully felt again. The pelt is held and lifted as it's extracted from the turned or rolled carcass, which just stays on the ground. I’m smart like a hammer compared to this guy; he's very intelligent and practical from the volume of experience and success. This guy looks like his shoulders are on steroids. Your living wool shirt commercial. Powerful is fitting in his particular case. When he is at our dinner table my wife agrees he is a very efficient eater.

This guy looks at the “forest for the trees attitude”. He see's the whole big picture in vivid detail. We are paddling along and he points out…..”Hey that's a great cat set”……… or, little sixty foot hog back on the river bank and he breaks out with “nice dirt hole for a fox, huh”. Like it's so obvious to anyone. He throws me a friendly bone or hints like I’d salt my eggs.

He trapped professionally for a very large county in northeastern Minnesota for over three years. His luck ran out when he was offered a full time job as a county forester. Being converted to a fulltime employee he suffers the same time constraints as the rest of us now. But he runs the trapping clock so well. Organized, like an accountant and he gives you the feeling that he's seen this all so many times before. He has.

Stepping out of the canoe after a scouting trip we both stretch our aching backs and he flips the canoe out of the water and up on his shoulders while I get the two Duluth packs and paddles. I'm a lesser being and I get the lesser chores…….I’m not complaining.

Posted by Trout Whisperer under Hunting Stories on January 28, 09 06:52 AM | Permalink

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