Oral History Interview:

Richard Carroll

Richard Carroll's father came to Alaska in 1908, searching for gold. He found a different way of life, based on hunting and trapping. The elder Carroll eventually became the owner of a trading post in Fort Yukon. The Carroll family has played a prominent role in that community for the past hundred years.

Richard learned his hunting and trapping skills from his father. He married young and spent many years "living out," i.e., in a cabin away from town. Richard tells several funny stories to demonstrate that he and his wife learned many lessons of wilderness living the hard way. However, those tribulations did not detract from the young couple's love for the Bush lifestyle.

When Carroll was a younger man, the area from Fort Yukon east to the Canada border along the Porcupine River was informally apportioned into adjacent traplines. Each area belonged to a family, which trapped the same locale for generations. It was not a competitive, but rather a cooperative atmosphere, with neighbors supporting each other. Richard bemoans the passing of that era.

Carroll says that he never reveals any of this trapping secrets, but then proceeds to share them with the listener. His insights run the gamut from preferred trap types to lures and baits and even the use of dog teams on the trapline. Some of the advice is serious and other is humorous, but all is solid.

Richard pulls no punches in disagreeing with the Disney version of interactions between wolves and humans. He describes three separate instances of wolf aggression towards people. Details of these cases contradict the long-held belief that wolves will not attack humans.

Carroll strongly advocates taking youngsters into the woods, not only to teach them the methods of hunting and trapping. He believes that they will also learn more important lessons regarding self-sufficiency and the value of hard work.

[This interview was recorded in front of a live audience, during a meeting of the Alaska Trappers Association. There are a few minor problems with sound quality.]

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