the Mountain Men and the mink 1955

Discussion in 'Sound Off' started by steve ypsi mi, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. It has been pointed out to me by the Wisconsin People that there are some people from Michigan that read this site and would I slow my typing down as the Michigan readers are slow readers.
    this story was typed slower for the michigan readers

    the Mountain Men and the mink 1955
    in 1955 I had turned 14 and had moved out near ford lake in the country soon I had a friend of mine who fished and hunted with me the same age by the name of Goat, don't have any idea why he had this nick name but that's what I know him by to this day 47 years later. I haven't heard from him in over 30 years, he went to California after he graduated college and was a teacher and retired as the principal.
    Well Goat was one of the rich kids on the street, He had a semi auto loading 28 Gauge to hunt with while I had a old single barrel hammer 12 gauge unknown brand.
    I was always trying to find a way to make money to fund my 22 bullets and fishing gear. I read a story from the school library about the mountain men trapping and living off the land. I told Goat about that and what a way to make a living, there would not be a better job in the world. From our talks about what we would do if we had the chance to do this, then it came to him, he knew I was always a little short on Money and he suggested we trap this winter, it would be a partnership, split 50-50. Why didn't I think of that.
    we begged and borrowed about a dozen and half of odd traps, mostly single long spring number 1's. we spent the next couple of months trying to learn from the neighborhood men how to trap muskrats. One said put a piece of apple on the bank of a stream or pond and put a trap in the water in front of that, one said use a ear of field corn like that, another said find the muskrats hole and stick the trap in the entrance, well I knew that was illegal and didn't want to go to jail, no one seemed to know how to trap Mink, they said Mink were real smart and only the old timers that ran traps for years ever learned how to do this and they weren't telling the secrets to it, I thought darn, I had heard they were worth about $30.00 a pelt and muskrats were only worth about $3 or $4 a pelt. I sent away to sears for a price list on furs and some others I got out of the back of magazines.

    When these price lists came in I read and reread them and I noticed that the ones out of the back of the magazines paid more than sear's did, they advertised $5 to $6 for muskrats and up to $40.00 for mink where sears was $3 to $4 for the rats and only $30.00 tops for a mink, well this was a no brainier sears wasn't goanna cheat us, the other one had our business when we sold. I had not heard of false advertisement or come on prices in 1955.
    We got our trap stake's cut ahead of time, they consisted of branches with a fork left on to keep the ring on about a foot and half long and had scouted the gravel pits near our house, from what I was told about reading sign we were in muskrat heaven, I even thought I saw mink tracks while scouting from what I had been told by the neighborhood men I was pretty sure they were. well hind sight they might have been deer tracks for all I knew back then about tracks since I had never seen a mink track.
    the day was close to opening day and I was thinking with all these dozen and half of traps and all the sign I saw we were going to hit it big, I was kicking my self for not thinking about it the year before.
    well opening day we went out and set the traps and talking about maybe we could move to the upper peninsula and be mountain men after all, It was more my dream than Goats, I think he just went along with it just agreeing with me more than any thing.
    The next morning we were out before day light getting ready to load up on muskrats, I figured we would be up half the night skinning these furry dollar bills since we had to go to school after checking the traps.
    we checked over half the traps and my heart was sinking, nothing, then Pay dirt, we got 2 in the next 9 traps that were left, I was good at math, my computer brain quickly said 2 times $5.00 is $10, no the add said $6 for the large and these two were large to me, 2 times $6,00, we had $12.00 and this was the first day, we were in fat city.
    I was thinking $12.00 a day for 2 muskrats if we only caught 2 rats a day X 60 or so days of trapping would be about $720.00, even splitting it I would have $360.00 for myself.
    First thing when I got my half was a trip to Schaefer's hard ware on Michigan ave in Ypsilanti and Plunk down cold hard cash money for a new Steven's 311 Double in 12 Gauge for $60,00 and 2 or 3 box's of number 6 shot high brass peters shells, with this kinda money no low brass shells for me, top of the line and nothing else.
    Well we started checking the traps by alternating days, Goat one day and me the next because there was no sense in two walking the trap line and not getting any thing.
    we got the occasional rat about every 2 weeks or so, now it was getting hard walking thru the snow and busting Ice to check traps that were frozen in with a hand held hatchet. we had about 11 rats by late winter and we decided to call it quits.
    we had enough of trapping and catching a rat every week or two. so one day a sat we set out, we had pulled over half the traps and got to one that must have had a spring under it because the water was always open under that trap, well we had did it, we out smarted the Wiley mink, in the trap was one water logged mink dead. man we were goanna carry a $40.00 pelt back home that day. we pulled the rest of the traps and were so excited to show the neighborhood men our mink that we almost ran back home, we were the talk of the neighborhood for days, people came to see the mink from the next street, we measured it and it was 21 or 22 inches long in the round tip to tip. I guessed we not only caught a mink but a extra large on top of it by my estimation.
    we skinned it cutting thru the scent Gland just like a skunk has, whewww what a odor , it was over powering in the breeze way, we didn't know they were related to the skunk family and had a scent gland. we got it done gagging and eyes tearing up from the over powering musk gland. As I type I can remember that smell like it was now.
    well we got them packaged and sent off, 11 rats times $6.00 was $66.00, one extra large mink $40.00 for a total of $106.00 split 50-50 was still $53.00 for my share, I all most had enough for the Steven's. I would have to make the extra and go buy it and put off buying the high brass peters shells till later.
    Checked the mailbox for weeks and finally a letter marked with the return address of the honest fur company (unlike Sears the crooks), tore it open and there was the check, there must have been a mistake, it was only for a little over $19.00, then I read the grading sheet, They had graded all the rats at small and a lower grade and $8.00 for one female mink small.
    Later in life I would learn these small companies that advertised high prices never paid it, just a come on for small lot sellers like us gullible kids.
    Well after that winter my craving to becoming a mountain man was waning, Getting wet and cold and $9.50 for 60 days work made me think twice about moving to The U.P to become a mountain man and ceased by the next fall.
    I also would have to figure out another way to get that Steven's
    Steve Ypsi
  2. Great read Steve.. That just goes to show ya , you cant trust the little guy either....:lol::lol::lol:

  3. Great story. Even though you didn't get the money you expected it was a learning experience. Seems like life is full of those.