By Tim Mowry Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The latest addition to the museum that is the front yard of the home Diane Dawson and Pete Brown share on Eighth Avenue is a moose trap.
That’s right, moose, not mouse.
The trap, a giant-sized version of a Victor mouse snap trap, is propped up against a big spruce tree in the front yard of the small home, displayed prominently so everybody that cruises past can see it.
“We’ve had quite a few drive-bys,” the 63-year-old Dawson, who is responsible for building the trap, said early Thursday evening while standing in her yard. “Someone said I should put it outside the gate so people could get their pictures taken with it.”
The trap is basically a Victor mouse trap on steroids. Dawson used a sheet of plywood as the base of the trap and an old spring and copper tubing for the metal frame. Dawson painted a red square around the edge of the trap and a big, red V at one end with a moose head drawn into it. The words “Moose Trap Alaska Style” are stacked in big, black letters on top of the trap.
“It’s just kind of fun,” said Dawson with a twinkle in her eye. “We just like to have fun in our yard.”
The trap was Dawson’s creation and adds to an already eclectic collection of yard ornaments that includes a giant gold pan, rusted mining equipment and tools, old rocker boxes, metal tubs, wheelbarrows, a dog sled, pieces of burl, a wooden bear carved with a chainsaw, a seagull and all sorts of other Alaska-type oddities that Dawson and Brown, both self-proclaimed pack rats, have accumulated over the years. The collection is set up in a semi-organized fashion that resembles a cluttered museum more than a front yard, with the occasional patch of wild delphiniums interspersed here and there.
There was a time not too many years ago when tour buses used to drive by on a regular basis to check out their yard, Dawson said.
The moose trap is modeled after one Dawson saw on the outside wall of a store while growing up in Pinconning, Michigan. She’s wanted to build one ever since she moved to Alaska some 30 years ago.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” she said. “I’ve been saying, ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it’ and we finally did it,” she said.
Dawson built the spoof trap two weeks ago. The hardest part was stretching the old spring they used in the middle of the trap, but even that proved to be easier than expected, she said.
They used stencils for the letters that Brown just happened to have stored in his truck.
“I said, ‘How am I going to do the letters?’ and he said, ‘They’re right there in my truck,’ “ Dawson said.
Brown likes the moose trap and even posed for a picture as if he was caught in it.
“She’s always got me doing something for her,” Brown said with a grin.