Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beaver Trappin' with Tommy

Beaver Hides
Pictured Milt Thompson holding the beaver pelts.
The little guy in the front right corner is Tommy and Deione's 1st born son, Don about age 2
Tonight, I was visiting one of my favorite neighbors, Milton Thompson. (I call him Tommy or Tom Cat most of the time and have since I was little) Tommy has been my neighbor for as long as I can remember.  He's also been "retired" from his real job all of my life.  I think Tommy retired the year before I was born.  I use the word retired very lightly because Tommy, even now, at age 85 works harder than most people I know.  He is the local "Go To" when it comes to fixing anything!  Tommy is just down right amazing!  He can make anything run...and usually with spare parts rolling around in his outfit.  Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing.....he can do it all.  I'm pretty sure he has single handedly kept the Hoggan and Small family's Ranches running for all these years.

 Anytime you get to visit with Tommy is good time.  Tonight I had the honor of hearing 1st hand about this amazing picture.  The man shown here is none other, Milt Thompson!   He was kind enough to tell me a little about his trappin days.

Who is pictured:  Milt and Don Thompson
"Why that's me of course" Tommy replied as I asked him about the picture :) The little guy in the front right corner is Tommy and Deione's 1st born son, Don, about age 2.  Tommy figures that he was about 21 or 22 years old at the time. 

Where was this picture taken?  Roy Laird RanchThis picture was taken up at the Roy Laird Ranch.  I think the roof has fallen in but the cabin is still standing there today.  

Job Title: State Beaver Caretaker Trapper
In the Winter, I was a Trapper.  In the Summer, I was a caretaker.  We'd use live traps to move problem beavers that were plugging irrigation ditches and head gates.

~ Aside from trapping, Tommy also prepared the hides for auction.  The hides were put on round stretchers.  I asked how he made the stretchers.  The stretchers were made out of rebar.  He found some old wheels, bent the rebar around the round form and welded them. 

I am constantly in awe of this amazing man, his talent, resourcefulness, and cheerful spirit!

In the spring of the year the hides would be sent to Boise, Idaho for a big auction.  They were auctioned off to fur buyers.  I would get 75% and the State would take 25%.  A big beaver would bring as high as $60.  Most averaged $40-$45.
If you kept a little hide and stretched him out anyway, it was about the same size as a Muskrat.  That hide would bring about $1 and Muskrat would bring $3. 

What was your Trapping Area?
All Beaver Creek and it's tributaries.  Dairy Creek, Modock Creek, 3 Mile, Rattlesnake, West Camas, Indian Creek, Middle Creek, and Medicine Lodge Creek.  I guess that was about all.

Thank You so much Tommy for letting me come visit and sharing a piece of history with me!  So so lucky to be able to soak in some of your greatness! 

Thank YOU for stopping by to travel the trail with me today.  Hope you enjoyed the trip back in time. 
~ Mindy

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