Gary Paulsen is both the author and the first-person narrator of Woodsong. As he explains how he became involved with dogsledding, he provides background on his life in rural northern Minnesota. In chapter 2, Paulsen explains that by the time he was forty years old, he had been writing and publishing for some time. He had married, and the couple had a young son. The income he earned from writing was not enough for him and his family to live on, however, so he had held a number of different jobs. Along with teaching, the jobs he mentions are construction work, heavy-equipment handling, and tracking satellites. He provides more detail about his stint trapping beavers for the state of Minnesota.
Paulsen explains that beavers were considered a nuisance: they not only were damming up rivers and causing floods but also had even started to enter cities. The state tried to solve the problem by placing a bounty on the animals. He was among the many people that Minnesota hired to kill the animals; beyond the bounty for each animal, an additional amount was paid for their pelts.
Paulsen explains the process he followed, using a trapline of no more than twenty feet. Initially he walked the lines or, when it snowed, traveled by ski. Both methods were inefficient, so some friends gave him four dogs to pull sleds.