"I learned quite a bit from my Dad. He was a pretty good hunter. The first real hunt he took me on was way up the Alatna River from Allakaket to hunt sheep. There was my Dad, my older brother, and me. I was ten years old. I didn't shoot a sheep that time because they thought I was too small and didn't give me a gun. I held the dogs while they went after sheep. They shot two, but the others ran away. Right at me. They ran so close i could have gotten all of them if I had anything to shoot with. Since then I went hunting sheep a few more time, always at the end of the summer.
When I quit school, I trapped fur around Allakaket. I didn't go far. There was some lynx and marten around, but no moose, no caribous and no beaver in this country. Not one at that time. They came later. We lived mostly on rabbits. Rabbits and fish and spruce hens. That's all there was when I was a kid. '
By the time I started trapping there wasn't much fur left in the country. And prices were down to nothing. I used to catch lynx right close to our cabin down there and hey only brought two or three dollars. That's not making much money. Right now I hear they're getting three hundred dollars for a big one. More people trapping in those days, but there was still plenty of country to cover. Just had to find a place nobody else went. Same thing now.
We usually use sell traps from the store to catch fur but I made deadfalls, too. Wooden trap we called it. Dad showed me how to make some kinds, and some kinds I just made up on my own. All you need in a little ax and maybe a piece of rope and some bait. Doesn't take too long to make, a half an hour at the most. We catch marten, mink, weasel, and wolverine. If I find a porcupine trail, I make a set in his trail and get him every time.
If I'm out hunting caribou, I like to set for a marten around a fresh kill. They usually hung around a few days so I can get one or two right away with those wooden traps."
"We was trapping beaver, Cora and me. One beaver come out of the river, I see it. So I run out there with this little ax. That beaver come out start to eat. Then i get too close and he went down. I come stand over the air hole. I had a twenty-two, single shot, that time.
Pretty soon that water starting moving. I cock and get ready. When beaver come out, I shoot him and hit him good. I had no mitts. It was warm like in March, later part. I grab down that hole. All of a sudden he had his mouth open and I touched his teeth. I didn't feel it but when I pull him out, it draw blood right there. His long teeth hang up in my hand.
Next I didn't know what to do. Started to drink that blood. Then I make noise. My wife was back there. They watched what happened. "I cut my thumb! Boil water!" She did. Snow water. I was holding my hand. Walk up.
"You get that beaver?" she ask. Yeah, it's out there I tell 'em. I have to see a doctor, me. She go out and get that beaver. Started to skin him.
No doctor. I drink my blood. My wife say I thought you say you got song for that, for any kind of cut so it will heal. Hard to believe it, but we got a song. I sing. She bandage it make it stop bleeding."
"First, I tell you about this Fish Lake Creek. This story is from long ago. There's lots of fish eggs in this place. And this first time a person goes there, they can't eat those fish eggs. Even if they're hungry, they can eat fish, but no fish eggs.
One time, this man go there for the first time. People tell him, "No, don't eat those fish eggs. This is your first time here." But this guy said, " I don't care. I could eat anything. I'm hungry." That man eat fish eggs and didn't last too long after that. He just die. Maybe if that guy stay around there for awhile it would be all right.
In the summertime when there's no fish in the Koyukuk River. People got to do something else. Have to catch enough fish for winter. What they do is make fish trap. People would go around seven miles back in Oldman to Fish Lake Creek to se fish trap.
One time my grandma just have birch boat. She take that boat and get lots of willow poles to make trap and fence for fish. That's lots of work. Just her, I only help little bit. I was young then.
That fish trap was about eight to ten feet long and round. Just like a basket. Inside this big basket was just like a funnel where fish would go in. The fish go through the big part of the funnel first. Once they go through the small part, thy can't get out.
That fence I talk about is on both sides of the fish trap so fish don't go all around the trap. Just like it leads them inside the trap. That fence is all dry poles pounded straight in with the rocks.
Every morning we check that trap and sometimes it's full. the two of us would pull it to shore with boat and tie it up so we could get all the fish out. That was pretty easy because we got twine. Long ago they don't have twine and used willow bark to make just like string. They used to even make nets with willow. Lots of hard work, but that's the only way they could eat.
You know we don't get much good eating fish up here. That's for sure. Salmon travel long ways and that are poor for us. Sometimes there is no skin on it. The head is worse. That's because they travel on lower water up here. Lot of the fish we catch is only good for dogs. I think that's the reason they make fish traps long ago. They want to catch some better kinds of fish."