Sunday February 14th 2010
7:00 A.M. Clear, 10 above
Breakfast of brown sugar and peanut butter, with a spoon full of steel cut oats added. Mmm…Mmmm. Hot and sweet and good. I cant believe I’m eating like this and losing weight. I stay fairly active at home, but if ate this every morning at home, I wouldn’t fit through the door. As I tighten my belt another notch, I wonder if it has to do with the cold and burning more calories. Either way, breakfast is finished and we’re more than ready to go check the first line we set out on Thursday. High hopes and great weather.
As we cross the river and approach our first set…Score! Marten number three, number one for the day, is hanging from the 120 vertical can set. Another beautiful male. We leave him hang since we’ll pass by here on the way out. We continue along finding the next marten sets empty, but the “white17 special” leaning pole has marten number four, number two for the day, alive and well in a #1 jump. Ken shows me his quick dispatch method and we’re on our way to the next set.
The double MB 750 set is empty but nearby we notice a hole under some roots that has mink and marten sign. We decide to take advantage of the perfect location and I put a 110 over the hole wiring it off to a stout willow. This looks like a mink suicide machine. As we approach the double wolverine bucket set, I can see fur and start to get a little excited, actually I’m bouncing up and down on the sled like a five year old with ADD. We get close enough that I can tell the nearest bucket has marten number five, number three for the day. I’m not what you’d call disappointed, but from a distance I sure thought that was going to be my gulo. I get off the sled before Ken has even stopped the machine and head over to collect the catch, I can see that the vertical marten can set nearby is empty, but as I get close to the first bucket the second bucket comes into view, and I see that there lies marten number six, number four for the day! A true marten double in 330 wolverine buckets ten feet from each other. Both are big males and have great coloring. My disappointment at not having the wolverine that I had hoped for is gone in a flash. Two beautiful marten, four already today, and we still had a marten set and a wolverine bucket left on this line.
The remaining two sets are a ways away giving me time to snap some pictures and enjoy the scenery. I’m thinking how great the day has gone so far when I notice Ken is studying the trail ahead, I soon see he’s looking at fresh wolverine sign that’s headed toward our last bucket set. When we are about fifty yards from the set Ken stops the machine and asks if I’d just like to skip this bucket and check it later. HA HA real funny. I tell him I’ll walk back if need be but “I aint missing checking that bucket!” Laughing, we pull on up to the set. Ken stops behind some trees blocking my view but where he can see the set. I’m disappointed when I notice no reaction from him. I’m thinking “that gulo is going to avoid me today”, and I’m curious to go see why he missed the set. I get up to Ken and can now see he must be a heck of a poker player, because he hasn’t batted an eye while looking straight at my gorgeous wolverine! I look at Ken and he finally cracks a smile, I let out a war whoop and sart digging out the camera while hurrying on over to the gulo. I feel like a kid running to open a Christmas present. There she is, smacked perfectly behind the ears with the Belise 330. I immediately notice her amazing coloring, a vivid diamond, white tipped toes on one front foot, and a heavily spotted chest and neck. I know since its my first I get the right to say it is the BEST looking wolverine I’ve ever seen, but seriously it is colored up really well, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m amazed at the strength of the animal to take the hit she did and not only pull the trap to the end of it’s tie off, but to then bite down on the cable with her last effort. From the sign she couldn’t have lived more than two or three seconds, but she went out planning on taking down whatever had hit her.
After high fives, a few girl scout giggles, and enough photos and video to appease the T-man folk, we pack the sled and head back to the camp for some coffee and salmon strips. Then it’s off to the river to make a few beaver sets.
What a check. Four marten, and one heck of a wolverine in a total of eight sets checked!
After unloading the fur filled sled and having our warm-up drinks and snacks, we grab the chainsaw and ice spud and move on to the river. Ken has picked out a beaver feed pile that produced well for the Ol’Blister a few years back. He says the ice will be thick here, but he’s willing to split the hole making process with me. When we get to the feed bed and get a location picked out Ken gets out the chainsaw and cuts a square approximately 18” by 18”. He then cuts the interior of this outline into a grid pattern, making nine smaller squares. The first time he sinks that 20” chainsaw bar all the way to the saw, I expect a geyser of water. When that doesn’t happen I begin to wonder just how thick this ice is. After he has each individual square and the outline cut to the maximum depth of the chainsaw he stops and shuts the saw down. He hands me the spud and says my half of the work is on the bottom, and since I get to go first I get to move his half out of the way to get to mine. This guy is slick. As I go to work breaking up and prying the blocks out, Ken says he’s going to take the snow machine down river to scout some bait wood and fire wood. He tells me not to fall in the hole and drives off laughing. I take a minute to make Ken a Valentine's day present in the snow. It was supposed to be a signed heart, but I ran out of ink. (Curly later says it looks like Ken's handwritting.
I hurry back to chipping ice so Ken doesnt think I was playing the whole time he was away. I feel like I’m accomplishing something, and am enjoying making the ice fly. I think my mind may have still been wondering back to this morning’s wolverine, so I didn’t notice the sound of the engine right away. When I did notice it, I thought it didn’t sound right to be the Elan. Extracting myself from the ice mine shaft I had sunk, I looked up to see that the engine belonged to Curly, well not Curly, but his Cub. I was surprised to see he was nearly on top of me before I had even heard him. I gave him a hello wave and watched as he buzzed a couple of circles and dropped in to land beside me. As he landed down wind of me and approached I could not hear a sound from him. If he hadn’t flown in from up wind originally, he could have easily landed and got within one hundred feet or so without me ever knowing. Curly taxied nearby and hopped on out. I called out to him that he was just in time as I would need his help stuffing Ken’s body down in this hole. Curly thought that was pretty funny. He offered hot coffee and we stood around catching up while we waited on Ken to return. We all three had a good visit, and I think they both enjoyed watching me chipping out what was becoming a bottomless pit. Curly even mentioned at one point, that the hole wasn’t going to dig itself and I could talk, listen, and chip ice all at the same time. That Curly, what would I do without his sage advice! When I finally broke through and nearly lost the spud, Curly said he’d better get a move on before he had to help Ken hold my ankles while I bobbed for the lost ice spud. We said our good bye's and watched him take off. I finished cleaning out the hole, all forty or so inches of it, and we set a baited trigger 330. Ken said that before we dug another hole and set snares, we’d give this trap time to determine if this was even an active feed pile. I was not sorry to hear that we’d only be chipping one hole today.
We return to the camp, and as I check on the thawing catch, Ken goes to get more gear from the shed. He calls me over a second later to show me the bait sack we’d hung in there. That @#$#%# camp raiding marten has got to go. He found a tiny gap in the window of the shed and snuck in sometime last night, stealing another chicken. His cuteness has worn off. I hated to do it but I knew what was in order. Yep you guessed it….the famous “white17 shovel set“. I figure I gave the guy ample opportunities to mend his evil ways.
Dinner consists of moose roast in gravy over noodles. Moose meat is fantastic.
Guess this track...