OUR STORY - And Some History
“What made you think of this?” is a question we often get. We love to answer it! Here is a little bit of our story, that can’t be fully shared without some history, and why we decided to “bring back to life” a piece of history that could otherwise be completely forgotten someday.
Starting Borderland came from a background and culmination of passion for the old-times, the mountain man era, the early exploration of the west and wild places--the Borderlands. This and the pursuit and love for game and desire and admiration to display and honor our harvests! I’ve often felt I was born 100 years late-- but at least was given the name after Colter, the first mountain man and trapper to discover the greater Yellowstone and Teton area during the Lewis and Clark exploration. We love the time, culture, and styles of our early American history, and love our pursuits today of the very animals our forebears hunted.
Native wicker basket and packboard frame designs date back from hundreds to even thousands of years ago before settlers ever came to this continent, and began to be improved upon when they arrived. Frames from bent willows and woven tree bark and lashings, eventually were replaced with milled hardwoods such as oak for strength, and attached with nails, then screws to uprights of pine or cedar to be lighter-weight near the close of the 19th century. In the early 1910’s cotton “duck” canvas replaced stretched rawhide, and this marked a time where an American Company, Traeger Mfg. in Seattle, WA developed a pack what they called “Indian Packboards,” then eventually the “Trapper Nelson” after Early 1900’s American trapper and hunter Vince “Trapper” Nelson. We have no doubt that thousands of animals (and possibly even more animals to date) have been packed out on backs wearing this style of trapper packs as homesteading Alaska and hunters making their way north to what is our true last frontier took hold in the early 20th century. Manufacturing continued into WWI where the US Army supplied many of the packs for troops in Europe. Part of WWII they continued as well, but were eventually replaced by companies providing steel frames and synthetic/nylon material for longer life and durability. Technologies continued and before you know it, tubular frame technology was developed and aluminum could be cast into frames that were lighter than steel.
Eventually, the old-school “Trapper Pack” look made its way into antique shops or grandpa’s attic in a box and either eventually cherished by posterity or thrown out. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people say they remember grandpa having one and don’t know what happened to it, or older folks sharing they still remember having one as a young Boy Scout and wish they had kept it. Some say they have seen the look that’s becoming popular and have been looking for one but are so hard to find! Others bit the bullet after scouring Ebay a and paid a small fortune for what is now a rare and expensive antique.
We were the group that saw the idea, found out what the pack was and the search was on. It was November of 2019 and the goal was to surprise my dad with a unique look for bull elk he had harvested in Colorado. It was the most memorable hunt yet for my brother, dad and I to help him get his elk with him at 62 years old. I had never seen anything other than deer placed onto these packs by taxidermists, but gave it a shot. After paying several hundred for a pack, I placed it on the ground with his elk skull on top and quickly realized the pack was too small; the elk simply drowned the pack, mostly covering what was underneath and attempting to also showcase. This is where I determined that I could make one, one the exact same but scale it larger.
The creative process started. The desire to be as accurate as possible lead to learning to bend oak, how to age brass, steel, cotton rope, and the wood frame itself. We have ended up with what we believe is the most accurate, rustic-looking, recreation of a trapper pack today. There simply isn’t anyone making these commercially available; yet alone with the alterations we have made with the intent of improving how various animals can be displayed. (See how they’re made for more pack specifics.)
My wife Rashel and I decided to run with it; and run we really did! With a job layoff late January and the miracle of being accepted to a major hunting Expo in our home state of Utah, the very last day of full-time employment, we turned immediate focus on the opportunity of bringing these packs to life and to the public in just 3 weeks time! With my wife at the sewing machine and myself in the garage covered in sawdust day in and day out, we created as many as we could in time with little sleep. With sore hands, callused and sleep-deprived, to our amazement and joy, the excitement from everyone, the feedback, and the selling of everything we brought and could possibly make in time was overwhelming!
We validated this passion product. We brought them back, and how exciting it is to hear from so many about how glad they are we have done so! Taxidermists can add more diversity their work and provide for those who ask for it. Hunters passionate about honoring their animals can do so, adding a rustic piece in their home, and this “look” that many too want to achieve for themselves will now not all but vanish.
We’re excited, we’re grateful. To those that too want to preserve the memories of their hunt, a token of their appreciation and honor of their harvests, we salute you, and hope you will find the value of doing so in a Borderland Pack Frame.
Colter & Rashel Day
Founders & Fellow Passionate Hunters