|2005-03-24 - The life of a young trapper...
The life of a young trapper along the Kolyma
24 Mar, 05 - 11:56
GPS-pos: N68°43´ | E158°42´ | Alt: 9 M
It is March the 23rd today and temperatures have fallen again after a few days of incredible warmth. Lovely weather today, not a single cloud in the sky, -8°F and a chilly northerly wind. One of our lady friends here just stopped by to say that she had to go away for a few days. She missed her daughter, who´s away studying, so much so she didn´t mind travelling all the way to Cherskii, a trip of 180 km:s one way, to be able to call her. Amazing! Mothers are the same everywhere.
Written by another young man, Johan Ivarsson
´´Sure, it´s lonely sometimes´´, Mikhail tells us while he keeps working on one of his traps.
He´s sitting on a chair right next to his bed in a small, but very cosy, log cabin situated 150 km:s from the closest community, Srednekolymsk. He grabs another trap from the pile and continues:
´´But I have my dogs of course´´, he says whilst making a gesture with his hand towards the window, ´´they keep me company and it helps talking to them.´´
Mikhail is 26 years old, half Russian and half Yakut, and he´s one of very few young trappers that we´ve met along the Kolyma. He´s wearing a pair of green military pants, a striped blue and white shirt, and his hands is covered by a pair of thin gloves to enable him to work with the traps without hurting his fingers. His cabin is different from most other one´s that we´ve come across along the Kolyma, especially the one´s in which young trappers live, because this one is unusually clean, well organized and there isn´t any junk lying around like it normally does. The cabin has both a communication and short-wave radio, all kitchen equipment needed, three bunks and a well working pietshka (wood stove), on which he cooks. And Mikhail is an excellent chef, just like everyone else along the Kolyma. He also have a pile of books and car-magazines under the bed in which he reads every day.
It´s only his second year as a trapper but he seems to be quite happy with his life. He´s got as much as 25 traps placed a couple of kilometres around the house and along the shoreline of the Kolyma, which he checks everyday in the hope that he´s caught a hare, a sobel or maybe a fox. And his trapping has worked out quite well. At least if one measures the amount of hares that is hanging in the tree outside the cabin. Six of them. He´s also a good fisherman, which we clearly can se on the big pile of fish in the storage room. And every second day he has to travel a distance of 20 km:s with the help of a dogsled, since he doesn´t have a buran (snowmobile), to check his nets.
´´I´ve always been interested in hunting and fishing´´ , he answers when we ask why he wanted to be a trapper, ´´and I really love the beauty of the nature out here.´´
He concentrates on the trap he is working on and becomes quiet for a while, but then continues:
´´There´s a lot of hard work, though, especially since I don´t have a buran of my own. I´ve been waiting for my friends to come and supply me with some more food and products for the last three weeks now, but I heard on the radio that their Buran broke down only 25 km:s from here and they had to turn back. I don´t know when they will be able to make another try to get here.´´
This doesn´t seem to bother him that much, though, and he will be alright as long as the luck of hunting and fishing continues.
We´ve travelled for eight months now and almost covered the whole length of the Kolyma river, from south to north. And during this time we´ve only met a handful of young trappers under the age of 30. Why is that? When we ask Mikhail that question, he is quick to answer:
´´They have no interest in the great outdoors, there´s no computers, internet or discos to be found out here. Everyone I know wants to move to the central part of Russia, to the big cities where there´s more opportunities.´´
The old hunters we´ve spoken to say the same thing, but they also add that the life of a trapper is to hard for the youth of Kolyma these days.
´´They want to have a nice, well paid job, where they don´t have to fight to survive? ,they tell us and continues normally by adding: ´´Kolyma is not part of their soul. And the very few who really have an interest in this life and who would like to live as a hunter, don´t have the money for it. It´s not cheap to become a hunter, you know, you have to get a cabin to live in, a buran, or at least a boat, and licenses for hunting areas. And then, of course, you have to know how to be a trapper!´´
The future for the over ageless and old traditions of hunting and fishing along the Kolyma is threatened, and maybe the villages as well. Most young people move away after school for further studies or in search of a life which they consider being a brighter future than they will find along the Kolyma, and few return.
?What kind of future do expect yourself?? I ask him and add: ?Will you continue as hunter??
´´Probably´´, he answers quickly and then continues after some thinking, ´´but then again, it would be nice to meet a pretty girl which I could marry.´´
We all have our dreams in life!