"When we hunt for meat, any kind of meat, like moose or caribou, any kind what we're going to eat, we don't leave that meat on the trail. What we clean out and all. Just have to leave it off the trail. If we don't, then we won't be able to find that kind of animal. Bad luck in hunting. Our birch is the same way.
Sometimes you just can't walk up to a good birch tree. Can't find it. When I work on snowshoes, I don't like to leave those shaving on the trail. That's only for snowshoes, not sleigh. Sleigh is different. Lot of people told me about that long ago when I started making snowshoes. Don't leave the shaving on the trail they told me. Sometimes I can't find good birch or it will be hard to find. When I'm lucky, I could spot good birch right now from the river easy. I know a good birch from way out by the shape of the tree. But if I'm bad luck, if I don't treat 'em right, I wouldn't find it that way, see.
People usually have good luck but once in awhile you get bad luck, too. That's a hard time to make a living. Then you can't kill moose. Must be you don't treat 'em right. That's why we treat our animals good. Lots of times Marie and me , We work real hard to get out moose. Travel long ways. People got to take care of their meat good. Not leave it on the trail or something. Especially that blood. From the old ways because it might disappear. Animals disappear just like that. Beaver is one. Some years we don't see any beavers. Muskrat is same thing. Rabbit is same way and all those animals might get that way.
Rabbits, once you catch them in a snare or something, you can't let it go. Rabbits is the worst animal for that. If you grab it, and it run out of your hand, that's no good for them. They'll disappear. That's just the way it is. When you grab it, you got to hang on to it and kill it some way. I know rabbits is that way, but I don't know about beaver. Lots of times people are complaining about somebody that when there's no rabbits, they say that person let rabbits go. That's why there's no rabbits around.When I was raised up there was lots of rabbits. Not now. They just go down. Last time there was lots of rabbits was1964. We got over one hundred across there. Big ones, too. Marie make a basket out of their skin.
I was raised up with that kind rabbit fur blanket. It looks good. Soft and lots of fur, but I know that I'll always be cold in that kind of fur. Marie don't know it. She make that kind of blanket and "Oh Boy! I'll be warm now" she say. She try that blanket out right by me. Big blanket. I never say nothing. Midnight, I guess, here she start to crawl under my blanket. I woke up right away and I tell her. "What happened?" "Boy! I'm getting cold in that blanket." That's the way it is starting out. The fur is so smooth the air goes right through it. But after awhile it gets curly and gets warm that way."
She make good living, my Grandma Julia. She trapped lots. Lucky woman. I wish I was that lucky. Every time she set trap she have to catch something. Marten or mink. And she didn't go too far. She was old when I lived with her up South Fork. We stayed right at the mouth of South Fork. That's half way up to Bettles. Grandpa was old, too. He can't look. One time, around April, we was down here. Just for a little while, like we were going to haul our boat up or something. They used to trap fox late then. I don't know why. Those fur buyers want them to.
Grandpa have trap right down around the bend from the camp where we were. Down behind the island. He say that he lost his trap, but he couldn't see where it was. I don't know how he walk. He just take the trail that far. He was strong but he go blind. We were talking about that trap. He knew he got something, I guess. "Why don't you go with me?" he say. I was small. Maybe six or seven. I had snow shoes though. Grandpa Linus make snow shoes for me. Small size, just right for me. I walk ahead of him. We went around the bend maybe two miles from our camp. Then he had to go off the bank where where he had trap. I see that trap. The animal move it, stick and all, over about fifty feet. "Oh Grandpa! I see it over here!" But I forget that name of that animal. It was fox, you know. "What is in the trap?" he tell me.
"I don't know." I forgot the name. He started to call out names.
I tell him, "No."
Pretty soon he say, "Fox?"
"Oh, yeah," So I tell him over this way to get that fox. That was long ago when I was small. I walk in snowshoes, though.
"One time when I was young, one guy from this village broke his sleigh. Overtime I start to drive dogs I tell that story over and over. Then that same thing happen to me. That's why our stories always tell us not to laugh at different person if something happen to them. Don't talk about it.
One time I was beaver trapping and I was going down a steep bank on lake. Not really steep bank so I didn't try hold my dogs back. Halfway down was pretty good size birch tree right close to trail. I'm going pretty slow, but all of a sudden my sleigh turn up to that birch. Break it in half, you know. Brake the point up and about halfway up that sled. Broken sleigh. What will I do now?
Good thing there was spring camp close to there. Long ago when people get rid of their sleigh in springtime there always used to be lots of old sled what they threw away. I know I can't go with those dogs and that broken sleigh so what I do is I turn those dogs around and head back to camp. Right after I tie those dogs up, I go back to that spring camp. Not too far, maybe couple miles. I have to dig around under the snow with stick until I find old sleigh. Finally, I find it and dig it out. I get all those cross pieces and front and tie it up anyway I can and pull it back to camp. Then I have to fix it good right here. No more after that. I don't talk about different person that break something or something like that. I learned my lesson. I told the story and it happen to me just the same way. I don't want to talk about it no more after that."
"Not too long ago, my brother was out trapping whit me down Big Lake and he go sick. I don't know what happened to him. I thought he had appendix for sure. Just him and me down there. I had six dogs and he had five puppies. Forty miles and bum trail. If the trail was good I wouldn't worry, but we had too much snow. One evening, he say he don't feel too good. We go to bed and he start to make noise, you know, breathing One o'clock in the morning. I can't sleep. I got to go. So I put all dogs together in one team and start to haul him over this way. It take me one day I think. All from one o'clock and that next day. That time when came from Bettles all the way to Huslia. Overtime that sleigh bounce, he holler out. I thought he was going to lose his life for sure. Long ways I haul him. When I get to up here where plane just happen to land. I tell those people to tell nurse right away. That pilot wait for him. We put him in the plane and they take off for Fairbanks. He really make me worried that time. I was alone. Good thing his dogs was strong enough to go that far. I push lots, too. Running. That was the only accident in camp I had, and I hope I don't have accident like that again. When some people are in a hurry they get in accident. Dangerous to hurry too much."