At a small flowage, he stopped in the road and looked down the stream. "Oooh. There are some tracks," he said.
He popped out to scout. Sure enough -- the perfect offset paw prints of an otter. And Rankila has an otter tag this year.
"I'm going to set an otter trap here," he said.
In 15 minutes, he had the trap suspended in an 18-inch-wide channel of open water.
"This is perfect," Rankila said. "He'll have to swim right through here."
And he was off to place a mink set in a culvert. The bait: Dead ruffed grouse.
Learning the game
Rankila's dad, Steve, was the one who spurred his son's interest in trapping. "I remember going along with him for muskrats when I was 10 or 11," the younger Rankila said.
He's a serious deer hunter with bow and rifle, too, but trapping is his passion.
"I've been hooked since the day I started," he said. "I look forward to sitting in the bow stand, but trapping -- that opener just sticks in my head."