Sharing the trapping tradition: When it comes to the outdoors way of life, Rick 'Critter' Olson comes by his nickname honestly

Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald on

Published in Outdoors

NEAR ROOSEVELT, Minn. -- It's a cold, breezy Friday afternoon in early January, but the subzero windchill doesn't stop Rick Olson from making the rounds and tending his trapline.

Just like he's done every day for the previous 83 days dating back to late October.

Trapping -- and sharing his knowledge of the outdoors with others -- is a passion for the man known as "Critter" to his friends and neighbors.

So is hunting and fishing, Olson says.

"I hate to admit it, but I'm so addicted to the outdoor way of life," Olson, 52, said. "I've got too many hobbies; that's all there is to it."

A 1985 graduate of Warroad High School, Olson says his passion for trapping dates back to the fall of 1978, first with a mink he failed to catch in an old building and later that same year when he caught a weasel in a live trap.


Olson trapped his first fox in 1981, a year when fur prices were "sky high." He's been hooked on "dirt trapping" for species such as fox and coyotes ever since, preferring it over "water trapping" for beavers and muskrats.

From the fall of 1985 through fall of 1987 while going to tech school in Moorhead for commercial art, Olson trapped fox for a couple of weeks every fall near Comstock, Minn., south of Moorhead. He'd leave the house at 4:30 a.m. so he could be back in time for classes at 8:30 a.m., skin fox on lunch breaks and then deliver pizzas until midnight.

All this while carrying 21 credits.

He lined up places to trap through Ralph Rehder of Comstock, whom Olson had met through the Willow Creek Gun Club, a hunting camp near Roosevelt that Rehder founded in the early 1940s.


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