TOWNER - He doesn't walk nearly as much as in previous years, but Adrian Dokken still works a trap line. At age 87, he is believed to be the oldest active trapper in the state. His red truck is well known to ranchers who are eager to have Dokken remove a few coyotes from their land.
"Coyotes are tough on deer, no matter what anybody tells you," said Dokken.
The veteran trapper should know. He's been perfecting his sets since 1932. Dokken served in World War II and the Korean War, but then returned to the Towner area. He worked primarily for the Farm Service Agency, but used his winters to trap on the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge. It was there he kept excess predators in check and honed his trapping skills.
Adrian Dokken, 87, Towner, is believed to be the oldest active trapper in North Dakota.
"You've got to do it right, do it legally," said Dokken. "Coyotes are hard to control. It just takes a couple of litters and the population comes right back. I took 22 coyotes and 20 fox last winter. A friend took 30 coyotes. Between the two of us we've done a pretty good job of controlling them."
Dokken says he's getting too old to skin coyotes and fox anymore, so he sells them whole. He recalls the days when he did some fur buying, paying $100 or more for a good coyote. Today he says he can still get $40 for a good coyote and $20 for a fox, but only from the right buyer.
No matter really. He doesn't trap just for the money. Dokken likes the challenge, the activity and the chance to spend time outdoors. Of course, he has grown more partial to agreeable weather during the trapping season.
"Coyotes get pretty hungry when it gets 30 below, but I can do without it," said Dokken.
North Dakota's oldest trapper finds time to take a break too. He recently left the state to visit his daughter in New York. When he returns, he'll resume his trap line, even at 87 years of age.
"I know some young trappers, half my age," said Dokken. "A friend by Granville took maybe 100 coyotes last winter."
After the routine of checking traps, Dokken has another routine to follow. This one, he says, is a secret to good health.
"I'm doing what helps the most right now, Irish creme and coffee," stated Dokken.
North Dakota trapping season for coyote, fox and badger runs through March 15, 2013.