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At Home in the Yukon

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It’s late in the day, even in the Yukon where the sun sets past midnight. We’ve taken a big bite out of the Alaska Highway. Sergeant Preston jumps immediately to mind. If you don’t know who that is there are certainly other things we could talk about, but, obviously, many that we can’t.

I should say upfront that I own property in the Yukon. When I was six or eight, the Post Cereal Company sent me my deed to one square inch of the Yukon — the price of my claim, a few measly box tops.

We stop at the home of Terry and Ruth Wilkinson. They are trappers, but with a physical presentation as a far from that of a trapper as credulity will permit. He’s a slightly built, clean shaven and well combed man with a mild voice. He chooses words carefully. He wears a pressed shirt and trousers. Ruth is short and attractive and also dressed properly for cocktails on the veranda at the club. Oddly, however, neither is wearing shoes. Is that a trapper thing?

Terry and Ruth’s house is modern and well kept. Only, where other living rooms of comfortable couples might have paintings, sculpture and maybe a piano, theirs is alive with taxidermy – Wolverine, Ibex, Dahl sheep and a prize Caribou with a nationally rated rack. Ruth serves coffee and rhubarb crisp that she’d prepared for our coming. Terry answers our questions about trapping in quiet detail – the processes, the economics, the business dynamics. He could be mistaken for one of those CEO’s interviewed on CNBC, if he’d put on some tasseled loafers.

They run three trap lines out of their household: Terry’s, Ruth’s and one by their grown son. That means that they have been granted exclusive rights to trap skin and market the pieces of just about any wild animal within about a thousand square miles.

As we finish our coffee and treat, Ruth puts a half dozen shiny pelts, each the size of a baby’s blanket, on the table in front of us. They carry a price tag somewhere around $125, per. There’s no offer of sale but it’s clear that they would be available to us. We admire the goods but know this was not the kind of souvenir gift that would make us popular at home. We thank them for their graciousness and head for the van. Driving away it occurs to me momentarily that the Wilkinson’s might be trapping on my cereal box land. The rhubarb crisp was nice. I’ll give them a pass.

Till Next Time,

Jim

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