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 with Rob Miskosky

75 Years Tough!

The trail was choked off with a growth of alder, much of it quite large and bent over the trail from previous winters’ heavy snowfall. Fallen spruce and pine lay at the feet of the alder throughout the trail’s 1.3 kilometre distance. The trail needed clearing as it would become the final trail on the path I had plotted out for my trapline. So far only one bad choice—a long section of pipeline that would take a long time and a lot of work to clear—had caused change to my plans, extending the line from 32 miles to 38 miles; not bad considering I hadn’t set foot on most of the trails that were going to make up the line. The extra six miles were welcomed though, as we discovered some old-growth forest that would surely produce some good fur. Google Earth had proven an excellent tool when viewed in 3D.

“Well, let’s get at her,” Dad said, grabbing his chainsaw from the front of his quad. He quickly fired it up and started in on the tangle that lay before us. I smiled and just shook my head in amazement. The man is a machine, and at 75 years of age, nothing seems to slow him down.

We were on day eight of a nine-day work trip to the trapline. So far we’d constructed three bridges, put up 45 marten sets and built a few lynx cubbies, including what was termed a penthouse Gulo pen that alone took the better part of 2 1/2 hours.

At 75-years-old, Vern Miskosky (top) is one tough hombre.
My favoured marten set is your typical wooden box set on a cross pole about five feet off the ground. Two poles are attached upright to two trees supporting the horizontal cross pole and a running pole is added as a final touch before the location is entered into a GPS. Anywhere from six to eight cuts are needed for each set and each pole has to be de-limbed where needed. It didn’t take long before we had the system down pat; Dad and I could put up a set in about 15 minutes.

We’d also boiled and packaged a pile of snares, cut a truckload of firewood and cleared trails as we quadded along my chosen route. The work was tough and I could feel it in my back and legs, but it was welcomed work. For whatever reason, an early start each day was set upon with renewed vigor. We had been rising each day by 6:30 a.m., yet we were always far behind the daylight. At 4000 feet in the foothills, daylight comes early and the birds let you know it.

The trail we were clearing hadn’t seen human tracks for several years and the going was tough. But on occasion it would open up and we welcomed those spots with relief. We had earlier tried to quad in from the backside, which would become the start of the trail once cleared, but the trail from that side was completely closed in. We were now closing in on that spot from the opposite side, and it was thick. It also had a wet bog for about 25 yards that would have to be thatched with the trees we were cutting out of the way. I was now running the chainsaw and Dad was laying the lumber in the bog. Suddenly we burst through and welcomed the cutblock that lay before us. We’d spent several hours but had managed to clear the trail and the trapline run was now complete.

I was exhausted when we returned to the cabin but Dad hadn’t wavered and once again fired up his chainsaw, tackling a pile of logs beside the cabin that had been left by the previous trapper. I shook my head, threw on my gloves and began to stack up the wood he was bucking.

I’ve met many tough men over the years but none so tough as my old man. In nine days of incredibly hard work, he’d set the pace and I struggled to keep up with him.

“Take it easy on the old man,” my brother Dale had said to me over the phone before our trip. He should have told the old man to take it easy on me instead. ■

The Cross Pole Box Set

While there are many different ways to trap marten, my favourite set is the cross pole box set with a running pole added for easier access to the trap for the marten. I like to keep the cross pole five feet or better off the ground. This keeps the set active during heavy snowfall and keeps the trapped marten off the ground where it isn’t accessible by birds or other critters that may ruin the pelt. Here, my dad poses beside a newly made set. ■

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