ONLY $7.00

(includes shipping)

 with Rob Miskosky

The End of a Long Quest

Sometime in the very early 1970’s my parents put me on a plane to Saskatoon where I was met by my grandparents. I would spend that summer in the not-so large village of Leroy, Saskatchewan. Being a kid, the anticipation of hanging out in the country was killing me and I couldn’t wait for the adventure to begin.

I’m sure my grandparents must have wondered how they were going to keep a ten-year-old boy busy. If they did, from what I recall, they came up with all the right ideas.

They had quite a few chickens at the time, so tending the birds became my responsibility. And when butchering day came, I was even allowed to swing the axe. My grandma had a large garden that needed weeding, digging and picking. There were also crows and blackbirds that needed taken care of with the pellet gun. “No robins or coloured birds,” my grandma used to say before I embarked on my hunting trips. And I traveled with my grandpa from one small town graveyard to another where he would lay a wooden form over a grave and pour a concrete bed. He would engrave the “In Loving Memory of...” and I would sprinkle coloured glass chips overtop the fresh concrete. Twenty-five cents later, I was a happy camper.

However, for me the most exciting day came when something started killing the chickens. I can’t remember how long it was before we realized my little chicken population was getting smaller, but a freshly dug hole under the bunkhouse meant something was amiss.

I remember my grandpa pulling down a leghold trap from the bunkhouse wall and we set it, buried slightly under some dirt at the front of the chicken killer’s hole and wired it off to the bunkhouse. The next morning we had something in the trap.

Now, my grandpa was a very strong man, but I can still remember how hard he had to pull that trap to get it out from the hole. With the trap’s chain in one hand and a club in the other, he pulled harder and harder while I stood excitedly beside him, waiting to see what we had caught. Suddenly, the chicken killer let loose its grip, and then all hell broke loose. While my grandpa clubbed the chicken killer, it did the only thing it knew how to do; it started spraying us both. Our chicken killer was a skunk! And much to my grandma’s dismay, we had been sprayed to the fullest.

Shortly after our skunk mishap, my grandpa, most likely at my persistence, handed me down from the bunkhouse wall a handful of leghold traps and sent me on a mission. Well, actually across the road to the cemetery. I was now officially the village of Leroy’s cemetery gopher trapper. And I couldn’t have been happier... a trapper had been born.

Twenty years later, I contacted the Alberta Trappers’ Association and signed up for their week-long Trapper Education Course. I then started trapping for farmers near Alder Flats and Genesee before moving on to a much larger area near Chip Lake where I trapped for three different farmers in close proximity to each other. Two were cattle farmers and the other a sheep farmer. Coyotes and beaver were my main targets and soon I was shipping fur to both auction houses—North American Fur Auctions and Fur Harvesters Auction.

I also managed to do some animal damage control work thanks to a fellow trapper, Doug Faulds, who was president of the Edmonton Local at that time. Doug also showed me how to skin, flesh and board my first beaver.

But something was missing. While I enjoyed trapping for farmers and helping property owners, I couldn’t help but think I was missing out on so much more. I wanted to be a registered trapper managing my own resource—I envied those guys. And so began my quest for a registered trapline that went on for nearly 14 years.

For many reasons, and many wrong reasons, for me, purchasing a trapline had become an exercise in futility. I had spent hours in the seat of my truck driving to look at various lines that were being offered for sale, had made countless phone calls and followed many leads, but with no success.

Then, in early 2011, I thought I had finally ended my quest and had agreed to the purchase of a trapline. Unfortunately, the seller of the trapline was more interested in ripping off his partner than he was in making sure the trapline went to an appropriate buyer.

After that, I remember telling Kim Hrushenski, now Vice-President of the Alberta Trappers Association (ATA), that I was done. I had lost hope of ever finding a trapline and was putting away my traps... for good. He encouraged me to keep trying.

Gordy Klassen, President of the ATA, had also once told me, “Just when you’re about to give up Rob, that’s when it will happen. That’s how it happened for me.”

The road into the author’s RFMA.
I thought hard about what Gordy had said, but it didn’t help. As far as I was concerned, I was finished. But being finished just didn’t feel right and soon I was quibbling with the idea of trapping for farmers again.

A couple months later, trapping instructor and wildlife expert Ross Hinter would tell me, “I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.”

And he was right. They were all right.

In late February of this year, I received a letter from Fish & Wildlife confirming me as the Senior Holder of a Registered Fur Management Area in Alberta, officially putting an end to my long, frustrating quest.

As I familiarize myself with my new trapline over the coming months, I’m quite sure I’ll have some adventures to share with you in this space. Perhaps the trapping section of this magazine just grew a little bit. ■

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

Sports Scene Publications Inc.
10450 - 174 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5S 2G9
Phone: 780-413-0331 • Fax: 780-413-0388

Privacy Policy

© 2016 Sports Scene Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved