It’s STILL Winter….

The calendar is telling us that spring is near. We just adjusted our clocks to “spring” forward but this year I don’t think Mother Nature is listening. This has been reported to be the coldest winter for the interior of Alaska in 44 years and while it WAS cold, the temperatures didn’t fall to levels of even just a couple of years ago where we had nearly 70 degrees below zero in Minto. However, normally, it gets cold for a few days and then warms up for awhile, then gets cold and we see an ebb and flow throughout the winter. This year it got cold and just stayed cold and then to top it off, it just kept snowing.

For the record, I love the snow. I love being out in it. I love seeing the way everything contrasts against it. It can be absolutely beautiful. However, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shoveled the roof of the camp trailer, the deck, the driveway or cleared the work area around my saws this year. I have definitely been getting plenty of exercise shoveling this winter. Rachelle keeps showing me ads for snowblowers and I keep thinking, “It’s just got to be over now.” I’m sure as soon as I commit to the snowblower it will be….

In the meantime we will continue to take advantage of the snow by keeping the trapline going. We finished fox season without catching a single one. Rachelle was pretty disappointed but we did get an opportunity to really observe the behavior of the fox in our area throughout the two months we were out there. I feel strongly that next season we will be able to close the deal. The last week of the season we really noticed a lot of their tracks around our sets so some of the new bait that I put together at the end was certainly enticing them.

We ate or shared all of the rabbit meat that we had caught early on and were fortunate enough to have just caught two more this week. Now that we’ve found where they’ve moved to we put out several more sets to try to increase our catch while there is still time. We did post a video on the website and on Instagram of me checking the line.

I spend every other week in the village of Minto for work. Minto is an Alaska Native village approximately 135 miles northwest of Fairbanks. This is the village that Rachelle is from and that I lived in for a couple of years. During my time there I was given permission to trap and hunt on their land.

This past week I was asked to work a couple of my days off in the village and Rachelle was able to travel with me. During my downtime, I showed her my old trapline and we were both amazed by the amount of activity. I had brought the remainder of our trapping gear just in case the opportunity presented, and IT DID! We set out nearly a dozen sets in the hopes of closing out the season strong.

Wolf print next to David's foot
One big pup

On my return to the village this week I spotted tracks in the middle of the road just a few miles from the village and stopped to check them out. I knew there were wolf in the area but was surprised to see the size of this one. I think next season we will pick up some snares and see if we can get few of these guys. There are a lot of them in the area and they have been decimating the moose population. We’ll have to step up our game if we’re going to go after wolf though.

In spite of the fact that it continues to snow we are preparing for our spring gardening. We’ll be discussing our planting selection beginning with the herb garden. We are planting multi-use (culinary/medicinal) herbs and will be discussing their uses and our plans for them next time. We also talk about collecting and using birch water, so please don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to ensure you get all of our updates.

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A Day on the Trapline

Check out this short video of me out for a day on the trapline. We’re working on a few more videos of both Rachelle and I as well as one detailing the building of the cubby sets we used.

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40 Below Adventures


And the cold just won’t go away…. It’s now the end of January, which IS typically cold but it has been sub thirty below now for what seems like the whole month. It did warm up into the negative teens and Rachelle commented about how nice it was to be able to take off her mitts on the trapline without instantly freezing.

Rachelle's Snare

I love Alaska and I love winter but when it’s this cold outside, getting things down takes more effort and more time and that includes just getting ready to go outside. Once outside you find yourself in one of two situations. One, you have a packed snow that is as hard as concrete and slick as ice or two, a very fine powdery snow that is equally as difficult to walk through. While I have been shoveling snow from the driveway and around the house all winter in the hopes of minimizing the amount to water near the house come spring, I definitely couldn’t keep up with the snowfall. I should still be able to remove the snow from the area around the sides and back of the house which little traffic to compact it but the driveway area is solid and there to stay until breakup.

Our Moose

Speaking of the driveway, I walked out of the house recently and found myself staring at moose who had decided the willows in the driveway would make a nice late morning snack. I’d say we had a lengthy conversation but it was really just me talking and her standing there munching away and occasionally glancing my way. After about 15 minutes, she finally decided to head down the hill behind the house and I went about my day. A couple days later, I opened the front door and spotted a fox running down the driveway. While many may consider all the wildlife in the yard a nuisance, we see it as a blessing. The opportunity to witness so much beauty right from our front door, is one of the things we love about living here.

On the subject of wildlife, we have had a pretty successful couple of weeks on the trapline. We’ve bagged five rabbits already in spite of the temperatures. One of the fox sets has tracks all around it but it’s being extremely cautious. After skinning and processing the meat from the rabbits, we added a few leftover parts to the back of this fox set to help entice it into the trap. Hopefully, in our next posting we’ll be able to tell you that it worked.

As I mentioned, we skinned and processed four of the rabbits. The pelts are nice and full. We went ahead and put them in a bucket with our tanning solution. We have a total of eight hides in the solution and in the next couple of weeks should have enough ready so that Rachelle can start working on the mittens she’s been planning. You’ll have to make sure to come back to hear all about that project.

We did make a big pot of rabbit stew and shared it with Rachelle’s 88 year old uncle. He said he grew up eating rabbit but hadn’t had any in years so he was really excited about getting some now. We have shared much of the remaining rabbit with others as well. We strongly believe in sharing our bounty and believe it comes back many times over.

Rachelle got a chance to skin her first rabbit just in the last couple of days. She has watched me do it numerous times but with me out of town for work, she took it on and now has a nice pelt on the stretcher. She’s a fast learner and you wouldn’t be able to tell it was her first time skinning by looking at the hide. She did an amazing job on it and I couldn’t be more proud.

So next week is FINALLY supposed to warm back up with highs nearing zero and we are planning to get out and extend our trapline. We still have a number of traps and snares and with fox season closing at the end of February we need to get busy. Rachelle’s primary goal of the season was to catch her first fox and we’re running out of time to make that happen.

Since you are reading this, you obviously know we recently launched our website and blog but you might not know that we also launched our Roaming Alaska podcast. It took some time with the technical stuff but it’s live and on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, so please subscribe to follow along on the adventure. You can also find out latest episodes on our website.

Our Trapping Season begins

It’s January here in the interior of Alaska. It’s been hovering between -30 and -40 for more than a week making everything just a little more challenging. Rachelle remembered to plug her car in but unfortunately the extension cord was plugged into a GFI outlet that had tripped and we hadn’t realized it. Needless to say, her car was frozen and wouldn’t start and I was out in the village for work. So once we worked through the issue, reset the outlet and gave the car a few hours to thaw all was well again. Once I made it home I did replace the extension cord she was using with one that has a glowing connector so there is a visual indicator that there is power. First lesson learned in 2020……

Trapping season is in full swing but our line isn’t out yet. We had been living just outside of North Pole until we purchased our house mid-year. This meant finding a new place to trap. Rachelle and I did some preliminary scouting in the fall and identified what we thought would be a great place. We had plans to get out early in the season to maximize the time we had to fill our traps with fur. It just didn’t happen and so here we are, late in the season, playing catch-up.

On the trapline
Rachelle and I on the trapline

Let me stop for a minute and explain a few things. First, along with our website/blog we are launching our podcast where we are also sharing all of these adventures. We’ll talk about our plans, successes, challenges, and even our failures. Since it’s trapping season that’s where we’ve decided to start but we’ll also be talking about other activities we are doing which include hunting, fishing, rockhounding, foraging, camping, and hiking. We’ll discuss stuff related to all of these things we love doing as well, such as the tanning of the furs and what Rachelle will be making with them, the uses of the plants and berries that we’ll collect to include soap and candle making. We want to show off all the resources that nature has to offer here in Alaska. So we hope that you hit our website ( and subscribe to both our blog and our podcast.

So back to trapping now. We don’t do it for the money. We both have full time jobs and only take what we can reasonably use. We respect the land and the animals and believe that the way we put out our sets and how we treat and use what we catch reflects this.

It’s -40 degrees and I’ve got a week to get our line out before I leave for the village again. With less than five hours between sunrise and sunset, most of the trapping will done in the dark by headlamp over the next month. We lay out our clothing and start layering. We’re inside the 75 degree house and now it’s a race to finish getting dressed before we overheat. We rarely ever win that race but we try anyway.

Rachelle beats me and races outside where it’s literally 115 degrees cooler but I’m just a minutes or so behind her. We load up the gear; traps, snares, wire, etc. and head out. I find our trail that we had cut on a recent outing and began looking. As we moved along the trail there are signs of rabbit and an occasional fox. I stopped several times considering sets but decided to push in further. About a half mile later, the trail turns south for a short distance before turning back to the west so I’m now nearly parallel the first part of the trail. Almost instantly, the tracks of rabbit, fox, squirrel, and moose are everywhere. I stand there looking around at all of the activity trying to decide where to place our first set. The options are almost overwhelming.

Setting Snares

A short distance off the trail I find a spot where a rabbit trail runs underneath a young black spruce that, under the weight of the snow, has laid over creating an archway just big enough for the rabbits to go under. Afraid of knocking the snow off of the spruce, I opt to set a leghold trap right in the archway. I anchor it to another tree a foot away. As I turn to head back to the path I spot another heavily use rabbit trail just a couple feet away. This trail passes between a group of small spruce trees that provides me a perfect funnel to set a snare and I make quick work of the set before continuing further down our trail. We set a few more snares before coming into an open area where one or more fox have been moving back and forth. The tracks are everywhere and at least one of them is a male who has taking the opportunity to mark his territory. I locate a spot under a leaning tree where the fox had passed recently and set a trap. Above the trap I hang a piece of bait to entice and distract our little red friend.

Night on the trapline
A beautiful but cold afternoon on the trapline.

Rachelle and I continue on and set several more sets for both rabbit and fox before finally calling it a day and heading back home to a hot cup of Tang.

(By the way, if you haven’t tried Tang hot, ESPECIALLY, after coming in from the cold, you’re missing out. I was skeptical when Rachelle introduced me to it. I had grown up drinking Tang (cold) and honesty had been happy not drinking it for at least the past 30 years but give it a shot sometime.)

Come back soon for more. Not only do we need to check our line but we’ve got plenty more sets to get out. It’s going to be a great season. Make sure you subscribe to our Blog and podcasts.