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'It's just like payday'
Colville Lake youth says the thrill of checking his traps makes it worth it, every time

Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 2, 2011

KAHBAMIUE/COLVILLE LAKE
Last week Brandon Orlias was named the most productive youth trapper in the Sahtu. The 17-year-old from Colville Lake said the award made him want to go out trapping even more.

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Charlie Oudzi, left, Daniel Tutcho, and Brandon Orlias in 2009. Orlias was named the most productive youth trapper in the Sahtu. - NNSL file photo

"I don't plan on stopping. It's the best thing I can do," he said.

Orlias first learned to trap at the age of 12, with the help of his uncles, cousins and older brother Tyrell Kochon.

He struck gold his first year, trapping a wolverine, and has taken every opportunity since to get out on the land.

"I like it because of the traditional lifestyle. It's fun to go out on the land to see what you get and see the scenery and the animals," he said. "You never know, you could run up to a caribou and shoot it. It's fun going trapping."

When Orlias heads out, he fills his backpack full of traps, raw fish for bait and an axe, then heads off on his snowmobile to find a good trapline.

In more recent years he has had to drive farther and farther from the community to find one.

"There's not as much fur (in Colville Lake) as there used to be," he said.

It takes him an entire day to set between 60 and 80 traps, and once he's done he will cut down a tree to set a marker on the side of the road.

Orlias usually snags marten, fox and wolverine. Once, like last year, he got lucky and trapped a wolf, but a few times he has gotten unlucky and trapped himself.

"It stings for a while, but after a while the pain just goes away," he said.

It takes him between two and four hours to check all his traps, which he said is his favourite part of the whole process.

"It's just like payday," he said.

In the past five years he has improved tremendously, learning the tricks of the trade from his family and other members of the community.

He now knows countless ways to set traps like cutting off the top of a tree, peeling back its branches and putting one or two springs on top and is always trying to learn more.

"I just wanted to go out and learn different styles, learn different ways to trap," he said.

Trapping is just a part-time job for him now, although you won't ever catch him calling it a "job."

During the week he works at the local shop in Colville Lake, and only has time to trap in the evenings, on weekends or whenever he is off work.

He still manages to go out every week sometimes every two days to stay in shape, get outside and use the traditional skills he learned on the land.

"I'll be doing this all my life," he said.

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