In 1994 there was a very large forest fire in the Yukon
Charlie Preserve. This fire was so extensive that it pushed out all the
fur-bearers in the region. Fortunately for my partner and I, many of them
came into the area of our trapline.
On opening day we set out to run our lines as usual, setting out new marten
sets and baiting and setting other existing ones. As we drove to our
jump-off place, when we were almost there, we saw a marten cross the road.
We quickly stopped, chased the marten as fast as we could and he treed. I
shot him out of the tree with my .22 pistol...a nice start to the season.
Little did I know that there was a lot more to come. I have two long marten
lines on a main ridge in this area, one runs off the road to the left, or
east, and the other to the left, or west. We flipped a coin and I won the
west line. I dropped my partner off at his line and proceeded on to mine.
The run in was uneventful and things went just about as normal as it gets
for opening day. I have over 100 marten sets on this line, so it took some
time to get it all set. I leave my equipment hanging on the pole it is set
on, so there is not much to do except wire the trap on and tie some bait to
the pole and hang an attractor.
I started back along my trail and had not gone very far before I came on a
marten in a trap I had set. I dispatched it and re-set the set and moved on.
Before I had gone very far, I found another one, and it went that way all
the way back to the truck. By the time I got there, I had 25 marten, ran out
of room in the box and had to start wiring them around the handlebars of my
snow-machine. By the time I got back to the truck, I had marten draped all
over the snow-machine. (A hard problem to deal with, but someone has to do
I loaded up and drove to pick up my partner. When I got there he was all
grins, thinking he had a real story to tell about all the marten he got on
his way back. He did have a lot of them too, he had 10, and his was a very
short line, only about 35 traps. When I told him I had 25 and the one we
shot, he could hardly believe it.
We came out on opening day with 36 marten, which believe me is almost
impossible. I have found 1-2 on my way back from setting the lines before,
but this amount was staggering. they were everywhere.
This photo is of half of our season's catch, the total for the year was 125
After we loaded up, I drove a bit further to check on a short trap-line I
had a bit further on. I was letting this one set, as it was very short and
there was no room to expand it. When we arrived there, it as to find that
someone had jumped my line and was running it.
We unloaded our snow-machines and ran the line, to find that all my
equipment was hung in the trees and someone else's was on the pole sets. On
that short line we found 16 marten hanging, most alive. We dispatched the
marten and left them hanging for the guy who made the sets. Drove back to
the truck and then drove down to where the claim jumper was parked. When
they came back, I confronted him and his partner with the truth that they
were trapping on my line. They said that they thought it was abandoned
because no one was running it. They had put a lot of work into brushing it
out and building new sets, I told them they would have to clear out, as this
was my line, it was bad enough that they took 16 marten off of my line. They
thought they were really in a hot-spot with all that fur and were reluctant
to go....I decided on how I wanted to settle this on the spot.
I did not really want this line, it is very very short, does not usually
produce, and I already had more than I could do as it was. I told them they
could buy this line for $1500 or get their equipment off of it tonight. They
squawked loud and long, but really had no choice, I had cut it and my traps
still hung there.
I could see the wheels turning as they tried to decide what to do, they
already had 16 marten hanging. That year marten were going for a high of
$100 or a bit more, so they already had the
price of the trap-line...I tried to tell them that the reason I had been
"farming' this line was that it was very short and did not usually
produce. With 16 marten hanging, there was no way they were going to believe
that. Unfortunately for them, it was the truth.
They agreed to buy it, and we met the next week to seal the deal. So
actually, with the marten I got paid for, that were hanging on
"their" line, I got 141 marten for the season...(grin)
So there you have it....one of my most memorable days trapping, actually you
got two stories for the price of one.