NARRATOR: In northern Montana, it's
the start of trapping season.
And master trapper, Tom Oar, is breaking new ground.
TOM OAR (VOICEOVER): Cutting the trail
is always a tough thing to do.
There probably aren't very many 75-year-old people that are
still out working like I am.
It's a challenge, but it's what I do.
NARRATOR: Last summer, Tom's partner, 37-year-old Sean
McAfee, purchased his own plot of raw wilderness
in the Yak valley hoping to secure his future as a trapper.
But there's no telling whether the land will provide fur
until he sets the first traps.
SEAN MCAFEE: River is right here, mister.
SEAN MCAFEE: When you first purchase a bare track of land
like this, that just opens up another door
for being able to provide us the opportunity to trap, hunt, fish
It's truly exciting.
TOM OAR: Got yourself in the hole.
NARRATOR: If the river is home to a beaver colony,
it could mean a bounty of riches ahead.
Is this a beaver tooth?
SEAN MCAFEE: Yes, sir.
Fresh beaver tooth.
NARRATOR: Beaver pelts pull in hundreds of dollars each
and are one of Tom's most in demand products.
There's a feed bed out there.
That's got to be a feed bed sticking up out of the ice.
No reason that would be there.
NARRATOR: Beavers store their winter food
in feed beds close to their dens and travel there daily to eat.
Intercepting this route can lead to bigger profits.
NARRATOR: But with temperatures at 10 degrees,
they have to cut through the river ice to lay a trap.
The ice is thick, but it's mushy.
There's water on top of it.
NARRATOR: And this early in the season,
there's no guarantee that the ice
is strong enough to hold them.
SEAN MCAFEE (VOICEOVER): River ice is dangerous because it's
a changing beast at all times.
NARRATOR: Sean volunteers to cross first.
SEAN MCAFEE (VOICEOVER): Tom and I are going to use rope.
But if I did fall, Tom will be able to help
me back onto the ice.
TOM OAR: I'll go slow.
NARRATOR: If Sean were to break through,
he'd have just 10 minutes to escape
before the cold turns deadly.
No telling how deep that water is.
SEAN MCAFEE: Look at that.
TOM OAR: You get through it?
SEAN MCAFEE: Yeah.
I think it's thick enough.
Four inches anyway.
Yeah, it looks like it's thick enough
to be safe anyhow, or at least at the spot you're at.
NARRATOR: The discovery of a beaver hotspot on Sean's
new property could be a boon.
But there's only one way to find out
whether it's going to produce.
Ice trapping is something that I don't have
a bunch of experience with.
There's little things that you can do and learn
from Tom that are invaluable.
NARRATOR: The first trap of the season is a classic.
One of Tom's specialties.
TOM OAR: We're going to put what they
call a ladder set in next to this feed
bed, which is two poles.
You just tack them together.
And then one of the steps on this ladder supports the trap.
Then you have to have it baited in such a way
that it will attract a beaver to come to the trap.
We baited it with red osier.
Slide it down a little closer.
Which is different than the willow bark that they
had underneath the ice.
So hopefully, the beaver will come swimming along,
go into his feed bed, and he'll see that red osier
there and think, oh, man, there's
something a little different.
We're about ready to put this in.
All right, man.
NARRATOR: If Sean's acres are good beaver country,
it could change the game for this growing partnership.
TOM OAR: Let's see if it fits.
The trap's gotta go in as wide as it is deep.
We got it.
And that's that, huh?
I'll bet we catch one here.
That's my first ladder shed ever.
And we didn't even fall in the river.
You hang around with me awhile, I'll
teach you a few more things.
SEAN MCAFEE: See what we got.
NARRATOR: It's only been soaking for a few hours,
but if this spot is as promising as Tom thinks it is,
they might just get lucky
Well, it feels like there's something.
Not too bad.
TOM OAR: Oh, yeah.
SEAN MCAFEE: Cool.
Grabbing a beaver right away like this is exceptional.
He's 30 pounds, isn't he?
It's truly exciting.
NARRATOR: The first catch of this season
is worth a solid $400.
This could be a three or four-year-old.
It's a full adult.
SEAN MCAFEE: Good looking hide on it.
TOM OAR: Yeah, and it'll stretch out
to be what they call a black, and it'll
be probably 62 inches.
NARRATOR: And the hope is there are more where that came from.
A single colony could house up to 20 at a time.
TOM OAR (VOICEOVER): This worked out real good.
We've got more river to trap now,
and it opens up a new line.
And I know it'll be a good resource for the both of us.
You got her?