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Full text of "The trapper's guide : a manual of instructions for capturing all kinds of fur-bearing animals, and curing their skins ; with observations on the fur-trade, hints on life in the woods, and narratives of trapping and hunting excursions"

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TEAPPEE'S GUIDE ; 



A MANUAL OF INSTEUCTIOKS 

For Capturing all kinds of Fur-Bearing Animals, and 
Curing their Skins ; with Observations on the Fur- 
Trade, Hints on Life in the Woods, and ISTar- 
RATivES of Trapping and Hunting 
Excursions. 



BY S. NEWHOUSE, 



AND OTHER TRAPPERS AND SPORTSMEN. 




SECOND EDITION, 

WITH NEW NAME A TIVES AND ILL USTRA TIONS. 



EDITED BY J. H. NOYES AND T. L. PITT. 



PUBLISHED BY ONEIDA OOMMUOTTY 

Printed at the Community Press, 
WALLINGFORD, CT. 
186T. 






^ 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by 

J. H. NOYES, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Southern District of New York. 



STEREOTYPED BY 
0. Houghton and Compant, 
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. 



The first edition of the Trapper's Guide, issued two years 
ago, was received with general favor, especially by the prac- 
tical trappers and hunters for whom it was written. The 
two thousand copies then issued were all disposed of several 
months ago. 

In preparing a second edition we have availed ourselves 
of the suggestions, new facts, and criticisms, that have been 
offered in the meantime, by those who have read and 
tested the book, and by others. Many of these have been 
pertinent and valuable. The scope of the work has been 
somewhat enlarged, by adapting it as far as possible to all 
parts of the world where the trapping of fur-bearing ani- 
mals is carried on. The portion which treats of the Trap- 
per's Art now includes all the animals which are of any 
considerable value in the fur trade, on both Continents. 
The rules for trapping animals have been carefully revised, 
and such additions made as seemed valuable. This is a de- 
partment in which a great variety of practice and opinion 
exist among trappers. To describe all these variations would 
swell the book to very large dimensions without really adding 
to its value. The conclusions arrived at by trappers of large 
experience, who have been most accurate in observation and 
successful in practice, have been mainly followed ; and we 
have found that all such trappers substantially agree. 

In describing animals and birds, their habits and charac- 
teristics, we have availed ourselves of many facts reported by 
natm-alists, such as Audubon, J. G. Bell and D. G. Elliott 
of New York, and Bernard Rogan Ross, agent of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, at Fort Resolution, Mackenzie River 



PREFACE. 4 

District. The works of Wood and Goodrich have also given 
assistance. 

Several new chapters have been added relating to Wood- 
Craft, Hunting and Fishing, Boat-Building, Plans of Trap- 
ping Campaigns, &c. ; also several new Narratives. The il- 
lustrations with few exceptions are new and were engraved 
expressly for this work. Several of them have been copied 
and improved from Wood's Illustrated Natural Hietory, and 
other European works. Others are from original designs. 
The Wild Cat was adapted from Audubon's Quadrupeds of 
North America. The new drawings w^ere mostly made by 
Mr. J. R. Chapin, and the engravings were executed by 
Messrs. Jos. S. Harley, J. H. Richardson and W. W. Britt, 
all of New York. 

The Guide will doubtless be found in some points to be 
still imperfect, and will remain open for criticism and im- 
provement. Trapping is a growing Art. We shall endeav- 
or to keep pace with it and report its progress. 

August 20, 1867. 



CONTENTS. 

INTRODUCTION, p. 7—12. 
Connection of Trapping with other Trades, 8. Observations on the 
Fur Trade, 9. Season for Trapping, 10. Statistics of the Fur Trade, 11. 

THE TRAPPER'S ART, p. 13—94. 

I. Preliminaries, 13—20. The Dead-fall, 13. Poisoning, 14. Shoot- 
ing, 14. Steel Traps, 15. Requisites of a good Trap, 15. The Sprins^- 
pole, 17. The Sliding-pole, 18. The Clog, 18. Rule for Baiting, 19. 

Proper Outfit of Traps, 20. Profits of Trapp ing, 20. 

II. Capture op Animals, 21—78. The Muskrat, 21. The Mink, 23. 
The Marten, 25. The Sable, 26. The Ermine, 28. The Fisher, 30. The 
Fox, 32. The Otter, 35. The Sea Otter, 41. The Beaver, 42. The Wolf, 
47. The Bear, 48. The Raccoon, 50. The Badger, 51. The Wild Cat 
or Bay Lynx, 53. The Lynx, 56. The Cougar, 58. The Jaguar, 50. The 
Lion, 61. The Tiger, 62. The Wolverene, 66. The Opossum, 67. The 
Skunk, 67. The Coypu Rat, 70. The Chinchilla, 71. The Squirrel, 71. 
The Woodchuck or Marmot, 72. The Gopher, 72, The Rat, 74. The 
Deer, 74. The Moose, 77. 

III. Curing Skins, 79—83. General Rules, 79. Stretching Skms, 80. 
Board Stretcher, 80. Muskrat Stretcher, 81. Bow Stretcher, 82. Hoop 
Stretcher, 82. 

IV. Life in the Woods, 84—94. Outfit for a Campaign on Foot, 84. 
Outfit for an Excursion by Wagon or Boat, 86. ^ent, 87. Stove and 
Furniture, 87. Bed and Bedding, 88. Camp Chest, 89. Cooking, 89. 
Jerked Meat, 91. Preparations against Insects, 91. Shanty, 92. Trapping 
Lines, 92. Conclusion, 93. 

FOOD HUNTING, p. 95—107. 
The Deer, 95. The Buffalo, 96. The Rocky Mountain Sheep or Big- 
horn, 98. The Argali, 99. The Prong-horn Antelope, 100. Squirrel Hunt- 
mg, 101. The Ruflfed Grouse, 101. Pinnated Grouse, 102. Sharp-tail 
Grouse, 103. Cock of the Plains, 103. Dusky Grouse, 104. Canada or 
Spruce Grouse, 104. White-tailed Ptarmigan, 105. Willow Ptarmigan, 
105. European Grouse, 107. Water Fowl, 107. 

FISHING IN AUTUMN AND WINTER, p. 108-110. 
Spearing Fish, 108. Fishmg through the Ice, 109. Net-fishing in Win- 
ter, 109, 



Notes on Trapping and Wood-Craft. By F. R., p. 111—121. 
Plan of a Trapping Campaign. By Peter M. Gunter, p. 122—125. 
Boat-Building, p. 126—129. 
Snow-Shoes, p. 130. Oil for Fire- Arms, p. 130. 

NARRATIVES, p. 131—205. 
An Evening with an old Trapper, 131—137. A Young Trapper's 
Experience, 138—142. The Deer Hunt, 143—145. Muskrat Hunt- 
ing, 14&— 158. An Amateur in the North Woods, 159—174. Trav- 
elling in a Circle, 175 — 180. An Expedition to the Laurentian 
Hills, p. 181—205. 

APPENDIX, p. 206-216. 
History op the Newhouse Trap, 206 — 212, Description of the New- 
house Trap, 213—215. Conclusion, 216. 



FULL PAGE ILLUSTEATIOJSTS. 



Portrait of S. Newhouse, 

The Muskrat, 

The Mink, 

The Marten, . 

The Sable, 

The Fisher, • 

The Red Fox, 

The Otter, 

The Beaver, 

The Wolf, 

The Grizzly Bear, 

The Raccoon, 

The Badger, 

The Wild Cat, 

The Lynx, 

The Cougar, . 

The Opossum, 

The Skunk, . 

The Coypu Rat, . 

The Chmchilla, 

The Woodchuck, 

The Rat, 

Family of Deer, . 

Moose Yard, . 

Mr. Newhouse's Tent and Stove 

Log Shanty, . 

Deer Breaking Cover, . 

The Ruflfed Grouse, . 

The Wild Goose, 

Canoes, .... 

Snow-Shoes and mode of wearing them 

Community Works, Willow Place, Oneida, N. Y, 





Frontispiece. 


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ILLUSTEATIONS IN THE TEXT. 

The Otter Slide, 37. The Claw Trap, 37. The Deer Trap, 76. Boards 
Stretcher, 80. Muskrat Stretcher, 81. Shelter Tent, 85. Variouse sizes 
of the Newhouse Trap, 213—215. Conclusion, 216. 



INTRODUCTION. 

BY THE EDITORS 



This book was not originally designed for amateur sports- 
men or for the reading public generally, but for practical 
workingmen who make or propose to make trapping a means 
of livelihood. The plan of it was suggested by a business 
necessity in the following manner : 

Mr. S. Newhouse, a member of the Oneida Community, 
having become widely known as the maker of an excellent 
kind of steel-traps, and it being generally understood that the 
practical perfection of his traps is owing to the wisdom in 
wood-craft which he gained in early life by actual experience 
in trapping, he has often been appHed to by his customers and 
others for information in regard to the best methods of capt- 
uring various animals. The most convenient way to answer 
such applications seemed to be to put his wisdom in print, and 
let it go abroad with his traps. In preparing for pubhcation 
the material furnished by Mr. Newhouse for this purpose, the 
editors found new facts, inquiries, and written contributions 
relating to trapping and kindred pursuits crowding upon 
them, till the original idea of a small technical pamphlet 
swelled to the dimensions of the present work. The objects 
which they have finally aimed at have been, on the one hand, 
to fiirnish all the information needed in order to quahfy a 
mere novice in trapping to enter upon the business intelli- 
gently and successftilly ; and on the other, to make an inter- 
esting book for all lovers of wood-craft, and for the reading 
public at large. 

The character of the work, however, will be found to be 



8 INTRODUCTION. 

mainly m accordance with its original practical design ; and it 
might properly be dedicated to poor men who are looking out 
for pleasant work and ways of making money ; and especially 
to the pioneers of settlement and civilization in all parts of the 
world. 

As honesty is always good policy, it is best also to confess 
here that the editors and publishers of this work are exten- 
sively engaged in the business of making steel-traps, and have 
an eye to their own interests, as well as to the interests of 
others, in this effort to help the business of trapping. 

And here perhaps is the place to say something of the 
mutual relations of the several trades immediately concerned 
in the subject of this book, and of their importance in the 
machinery of universal business. 

CONNECTION OF TRAPPING WITH OTHER TRADES. 

Trapping, in the business series, is the intermediate link 
between trap-making and the fur-trade. The trapper buys 
of the trap-maker and sells to the fur-dealer. The first 
furnishes him with weapons, and the second buys his spoils. 
Through the first, he is related to the manufacturers and 
merchants of iron and steel, who furnish materials for his 
traps, and to the hardware men who bring them to his door. 
Through the second, he connects with the fur-manufacturer, 
the hatter, and the clothes dealer, and sends supplies of com- 
fort and luxury to the world of wealth and fashion. 

Trapping and trap-making are directly subservient to the 
fm*-trade. They may be said to be branches of it, or even to 
be its foundations. The fur-business expands as they pros- 
per, and, vice versa, they prosper as the fur-business expands. 
The trapper and trap-maker watch the prices of furs, as the 
sailor watches the winds and the currents. When furs are 
high, trapping becomes active, and the trap-maker has his 
hands full of business. When furs are low, trapping declines, 
and the trap-maker has to dismiss his workmen. 

The importance of the subservient trades, trapping and 
trap-making, can best be judged by looking at the statistics 
of the great fur-market for which they work. The fur-trade, 



INTRODUCTION. » 

everybody knows, is an immense business. The making of 
the weappns and the fighting may be out of sight, but the 
spoils of the war are seen by all. Many a colossal fortune, 
like John Jacob Astor's, has been founded on peltry; and 
many a frontier city, like St. Paul's, has been built up by the 
traffic that originates in the enterprise of the trapper and trap- 
maker. 

OBSERVATIONS ON THE FUR-TRADE. 

The following statements are made on the authority of 
members of large fur-dealing firms in the city of New York. 

The yearly production of raw furs in the whole world is 
worth from seventeen to twenty milHons of dollars, and the 
whole amount of the fur-trade, including manufactured goods, 
reaches a value of not less than one hundred millions. 

The whole number of Muskrat skins alone, taken annually, 
is estimated at five or six millions ; of which three millions 
are used in Germany. 

Raw furs are divided by American dealers into two classes, 
viz., shipping furs, i. e. furs that are to be sent abroad ; and 
home furs, or furs for use in this country. The leading arti- 
cles among shipping furs are the Silver, Red and Cross Fox, 
Raccoon, Fisher, Wildcat and Skunk. Among home furs are 
the Mink, Opossum, House Cat, Wolf, and Marten. The 
Muskrat and other furs are classified under both heads. 

Prices for shipping furs are regulated by the foreign de- 
mand. 

The great ftir-marts in Europe, are London, Leipsic, and 
Nijni Novgorod. At these points semi-annual sales (or fairs as 
they are termed), take place. The spring sales are most 
important. Here the representatives of the leading fur-houses 
from all parts of Europe meet to make their purchases during 
the months of March, April, and May. 

The fur-trade of Leipsic is estimated at six and a half mill- 
ions of dollars annually. 

Raccoon fur is the great staple for Russia ; Red Fox for 
Turkey and the oriental countries ; Skunk for Poland and 
the adjacent provinces ; Muskrat for Germany, France, and 
England. 



10 INTRODUCTIOK. 

New York is the great fur-mart in this country, and is the 
main depot of the shipping trade. There are no organized 
fur-companies at the present time. The business is carried 
on by private firms of large means and long experience. The 
New York Directory gives the names of more than one hun- 
dred furriers and fur-merchants, thirty of whom are wholesale 
dealers. 

The leading fashionable fur for this country is the Mink ; 
but the furs that are within the reach of the masses, and most 
worn, are the Muskrat and the Opossum. 

The wearing of furs in this country is very little affected by 
climate^ but is regulated almost entirely by fashion. In Eu- 
rope, on the other hand, the state of the elements determines 
the extent of the call for furs as articles of clothing. Hence, 
notwithstanding the winters on both continents are growing 
milder, the demand for furs is continually increasing in this 
country, while in Europe it is falling off. 

The more thickly settled parts of the United States show 
a large decrease in the " catch " of furs ; but new territories 
are continually opening to the trapper ; and though he moves 
from year to year farther north and west, the supply steadily 
keeps pace with the demand. 

SEASON FOR TRAPPING. 

All furs are best in winter ; but trapping may be carried 
on to advantage for at least six months in the year, i, e. any 
time between the first of October and the middle of April. 
There is a period in the warm season, say from the first of 
May to the middle of September, when trapping is out of the 
question, as furs are worthless. The most trapping is done 
late in the fall and early in the spring. 

The reason why furs become worthless in summer is, that 
all fur-bearing animals shed their coats, or at least lose the 
finest and thickest part of their fur as warm weather ap- 
proaches ; and have a new growth of it in the fall to protect 
them in winter. This whole process is indicated in the case 
of the Muskrat, and some other animals, by the color of the 
inside part of the skin. As summer approaches, it becomes 



INTRODUCTION. 



11 



brown and dark. That is a sign that the best fur is gone. 
Afterwards it grows light-colored, and in winter when the 
fur is in the best condition it is altogether white. When the 
pelt is white it is called prime by the fur-dealers. The fur 
is then glossy^ thick, and of the richest color, and the tails of 
such animals as the Mink, Marten, and Fisher are full and 
heavy. Beavers and Muskrats are not thoroughly prime till 
about the middle of winter. Other animals are prime about 
the first of November. There is probably some variation 
with the latitude of the exact period at which furs become 
prime, the more northern being a little in advance. Trappers 
are liable to begin trapping too early in the season, conse- 
quently much poor fur is caught, which must be sold at low 
prices, and is unprofitable to the trapper, the fur-buyer and 
the manufacturer. 

STATISTICS OF THE FUR-TRADE. 

The following estimates of the annual production of all 
the fur countries in the world, were given in a volume on 
the fur-trade, published in 1864, by Heinrich Lomer, one 
of the principal fur-dealers of Leipzic. The total value is 
somewhat less than we have given on a previous page and is 
probably within the truth. 



YEARLY PRODUCTION OF FURS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. 



NamcB of Furs. 



Miak 

Pine Marten . . 
Stone Marten . . 

Fitch 

Kolinsky or Tartar 

Marten . . . 
Ermine .... 
Squirrels . . . 
Muskrat .... 
German Marmot . 
Chinchillas . . . 
Silver Fox . . . 
Cross Fox • . . . 
Blue Fox . . . 
White Fox . . . 
Red Fox . . . . 



h 


i 




s 


3-C 

•a5 


£ 

s 






•if 


1 


Hi 


111 


109,000 




130,000 


6,000 






200,000 


55,000 




120.000 




60,000 




250,000 




150,000 




380,000 




220,000 


80,000 








350,000 






50,000 


6,000,000 






1,000,000 


150,000 


200,000 


2,850,000 
*100,000 




500 




1,500 




5,600 




4,300 


100 

6,500 

23,000 


54,000 




8,000 


45,000 


140,000 


60,000 


85,000 



245,000 
255,000 
180,000 
400,000 
600,000 

80,000 

400,000 

7,000.000 

3,000,000 

200,000 

100,000 

2,000 

10,000 

6,500 

85,000 

830,000 



2,500,000 
700,000 
840,000 

1,350,000 
600,000 

80,000 

100,000 

1,000,000 

1,000,000 

2,000 

80,000 

200,000 

77,000 

60,000 

85,000 

700,000 



12 



INTRODUCTION. 



YEARLY PRODUCTION OF FURS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. — (Continued.) 





k 


, 


11 






,2 


Names of Furs. 


Kg 


M 


£5 






a 




11 


2 




•sig 


1 


% 
"3 




•<^ 


i 


^S.S 


K«0 




> 


Grav Fox .... 






25,000 




25,000 


25,000 


Kit Fox 


30,000 




10,000 




40,000 


*2'^?2 


Raccoon 






600,000 




600,000 


600,000 


Fisher or Pekan . . 






12,500 




12,500 


100,000 


Skunks 






100,000 




100,000 


80,000 


Opossum .... 






250,000 


*30,000 


280,000 


80,000 


Marmot or Wood- ) 

chuck .... J 

Bears 


40,000 


5,000 


5,000 


5,000 


55,000 


11,050 


1,700 




15,000 


2.300 


19,000 


195,000 


Lynx 


15,000 




26,000 


9,000 


50,000 


175,000 


Wolf 


6,000 


500 


12,500 


6,000 


25,000 


40,000 


BufEalo 






60,000 




60,000 


480,000 


Wolverene .... 


300 




2,500 


700 


3,500 


10,600 


Badger 




30,000 


2,000 


23,000 


55,000 


41,000 


Beaver 


30,000 




130,000 




160,000 


575,000 


Sea-Otter .... 


1,200 




oJ^ 




1,500 


200,000 


Otter 


4,000 


12,000 


20,000 


9,000 


45,000 


305,000 


Fur-Seals .... 


25,000 




*30,000 




55,000 


280,000 


Seal 


130,000 


20,000 


f 20,000 
1 500,000 


a3o,ooo 


1,000,000 


1,000,000 


Ooypu 






-3,000,000 




3,000,000 


400,000 


Hares 


2,000,000 


1,300,000 




1,200,000 


4,500,000 


1,030.000 


Rabbits 




4,420.000 


580,000 




5,000,000 


800,000 


Cat 


250,000 


500,000 


45,000 


205,000 


1,000,000 


235,000 


Lambskins .... 


700,000 


2,000,000 




330,000 


3,030,000 


1,325,000 


Monkey 






-40,000 




40,000 


50,000 


Lion and Tiger . . 






*500 




500 


5,000 




32,050,500 


17,456;650t 



t Value in American coin, .$12,724,152.50. 

In the above table the numbers marked with an * are the products of South 
America, Southern Asia, Africa, Australia, the islands adjacent to these countries, 
and the South Sea Islands. 



THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

By S. NEWHOUSE. 

I. PRELIMINARIES. 

Wild animals are taken for various reasons besides the 
value of their furs. Some are sought as articles of food ; 
others are destroyed as nuisances. In these cases the meth- 
ods of capture are not essential. Animals that are valuable 
for food may be run down by dogs, or shot by the rifle or 
fowling-piece ; and nuisances may be destroyed by poison. 
But for the capture of fur-bearing animals, there is but one 
profitable method, namely, by steel-traps. Other methods 
w^ere much used by trappers in old times, before good steel- 
traps were made ; and are still used in semi-barbarous coun- 
tries, where steel-traps are unknown, or cannot be had. I 
will briefly mention two or three of these methods, and the 
objections to them, and after that give my views of the true 
method. 

THE DEAD-FALL. 

This is a clumsy contrivance for killing animals, w^hich can 
be made anywhere, with an axe and hard work. It con- 
sists of two large poles (or logs when set for bears and other 
large animals), placed one over the other and kept in place by 
four stakes, two on each side. The upper pole is raised at 
one end high enough above the lower to admit tlie entrance 
of the animal, and is kept up in that position by the familiar 
contrivance of the stick and spindle, or " figure four." A 
tight pen is made with sticks, brush, &c., on one side of this 
structure, at right angles to it, and the spindle projects ob- 



14 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

liquely into this pen, so that the bait attached to it is about 
eight inches beyond the side of the poles. The animal, to 
reach the bait, has to place his body between the poles and at 
right angles to them, and on pulling the spindle, springs the 
" figure four," and is crushed. 

The objections to this contrivance are, first, that it takes a 
long time to make and set one, thus wasting the trapper's 
time ; and second, that animals caught in this way lie exposed 
to the voracity of other animals, and are often torn in pieces 
before the trapper reaches them, which is not the case when 
animals are caught in steel-traps, properly set, as will be shown 
hereafter. Moreover, the dead-fall is very uncertain in its 
operation, and woodsmen who have become accustomed to 
good steel-traps, call it a " miserable toggle," not worth bait- 
ing when they find one ready made in the woods. 

POISONING. 

Animals are sometimes poisoned with strychnine. I have 
myself taken foxes in this way. I used about as much strych- 
nine as would be contained in a percussion-cap, inclosed firmly 
in a piece of tallow as large as a chestnut, and left on the 
fox's bed. After swallowing such a dose, they rarely go more 
than three or four rods before they drop dead. 

The objection to this method is, that it spoils the skin. 
Furriers say that the poison spreads through the whole body 
of the animal, and kills the life of the fur, so that they can- 
not work it profitably. Poison is used very little by woods- 
men at the present time. 

SHOOTING. 

This method of kilHng fur-bearing animals, is still quite 
prevalent in some countries. It is said to be the principal 
method in Russia, and is not altogether disused in this coun- 
try. But it is a very wasteful method. Fur-dealers and 
manufacturers consider skins that have been shot, especially 
by the fowling-piece, as hardly worth working. The holes 
that are made in the skin, whether by shot or bullets, are but 
a small part of the damage done to it. The shot that enter 



PRELIMINARIES. 15 

the body of the animal directly, are almost harmless compared 
with those that strike it obliquely, or graze across it. Every 
one of these grazing shot, however small, cuts a furrow in the 
fur ; sometimes several inches in length, shaving every hair in 
its course as with a razor. Slits in the skin have to be cut out 
to the full extent of these furrows, and closed up or new pieces 
fitted in. Hence when the hunter brings his stock of skins 
to the experienced furrier, he is generally saluted with the 
question, '* Are your furs shot, or trapped ? " and if he has 
to answer, " They were shot," he finds the dealer quite indif- 
ferent about buying them at any price. The introduction of 
good steel-traps into Russia would probably add millions of 
dollars annually to the value of the furs taken in that vast 
territory. 

STEEL-TRAPS. 

The experience of modern trappers, after trying all other 
methods, and all kinds of new-fashioned traps, has led them 
almost unanimously to the conclusion, that the old steel-trap, 
when scientifically and faithfully made, is the surest and most 
economical means of capturing fur-bearing animals. Some 
of the reasons for this conclusion are these : Steel-traps can 
be easily transported ; can be set in all situations on land or 
under water ; can be easily concealed ; can be tended in great 
numbers ; can be combined by means of chain and ring with 
a variety of contrivances (hereafter to be described) for se- 
curing the animal caught fi'om destruction by other animals, 
and from escape by self-amputation ; and above all, the steel- 
trap does no injury to the fur. 

And here I think it my duty as a true friend to the trapper, 
to give him the benefit of my experience and study in regard 
to the form and qualities of a good steel-trap, that he may be 
able to judge and choose the weapons of his warfare intelli- 
gently. 

REQUISITES OF A GOOD TRAP. 

The various sizes of traps adapted to different kinds of 
animals, of course require different forms and qualities, which 
will be spoken of in the proper places hereafter. But several 
of the essentials are the same in all good traps. 



16 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

1. The jaws should not he too thin and sharp-cornered. Jaws 
made of sheet-iron, or of plates approaching to the thinness 
of sheet-iron, and having sharp edges, or, still worse, sharp 
teeth, will almost cut off an animal's leg by the bare force of 
the spring, if it is a strong one, and will always materially 
help an animal to gnaw or twist off his leg. And it should be 
known, that nearly all the animals that escape, get away by 
self-amputation. 

2. The pan should not he too large. A large pan, filling 
nearly the whole space of the open jaws, may seem to increase 
the chances of an animal's being caught, by giving him more 
surface to tread upon in springing the trap. But there is a 
mistake in this. When an animal springs a trap by treading 
on the outer part of a large pan, his foot is near the jaw, and 
instead of being caught, is liable to be thrown out by the 
stroke of the jaw ; whereas, when he treads on a small pan, 
his foot is nearly in the centre of the sweep of the jaws, and 
he is very sure to be seized far enough up on the leg to be 
well secured. 

3. The spring should he strong enough. This is a matter 
for good judgment, that cannot well be explained here ; but 
it is safe to say that very many traps, in consequence of false 
economy on the part of manufacturers, are furnished with 
springs that are too weak to secure strong and desperate 
animals. 

4. The spring should he tempered scientifically. Many 
springs, in consequence of being badly tempered, " give 
down " in a little while, i. e., lose their elasticity and close 
together ; and others break in cold weather, or when set 
under water. 

5. The spring should he correctly proportioned and tapered. 
Without this, the stronger it is and the better it is tempered, 
the more liable it is to break. 

6. The form of the jaws must he such as to give the how of 
the spring a proper inclined plane to work upon. In many 
traps, the angle at the shoulder of the jaws is so great, that 
even a strong spring will not hold a desperate animal. 

7. The adjustment of the spring and jaivs must he such., 



PRELEVIINAKIES. 17 

that the jatvs ivill lie flat when open. Otherwise the trap can- 
not well be secreted. 

8. The jaws must work easily in the posts. For want of 
attention to this, many traps will not spring. 

9. The adjustment of all the parts and their actual working 
should he so inspected and tested that every trap shall he ready 
for use — ' " sure to go^^ and sure to hold. In consequence 
of the unfaithfulness of trap-makers in inspecting and testing 
their work, many a trapper, after lugging a weary back-load 
of traps into the wilderness, finds that a large portion of them 
have some "hitch" which either makes them worthless or 
requires a tug at tinkering before they can be made to do tlie 
poorest service. 

German and English traps are almost universally liable to 
criticism on all the points above mentioned ; and most of the 
traps made in this country fail in one or more of them. 

In addition to the foregoing requisites, every trap should 
be furnished with a stout chain, faithfully welded, with ring 
and swivel. And let the trapper look well to the condition 
of the swivel. Many of the malleable iron swivels used by 
second-rate, careless manufacturers, will not turn at all ; and 
many an animal escapes by twisting off chains that have these 
dead swivels. 



In treating of the capture of particular animals, I shall 
have occasion to refer frequently to several contrivances that 
are used in connection with the fastening of steel-traps. I 
M'ill therefore describe those contrivances here, once for all. 

THE SPRING-POLE. 

In taking several kinds of land animals, such as the mar- 
ten and fisher, it is necessary to provide against their being 
devoured by other animals before the trapper reaches them, 
and also against their gnawing off their own legs, or breaking 
the chain of the trap by violence. The contrivance used for 
this purpose is called a spring-jyole, and is prepared in the fol- 
lowing planner : If a small tree can be found standing near 
the place where your trap is set, trim it and use it for a spring 



18 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

as it stands. If not, cut a pole of sufficient size and drive it 
firmly into the ground ; bend down the top ; fasten the chain- 
ring to it ; and fasten the pole in its bent position by a notch 
or hook on a small tree or a stick driven into the ground. 
When the animal is caught, his struggles, pulling on the 
chain, unhook the pole, which flying up with a jerk, carries 
him into the air, out of the reach of prowlers, and in a con- 
dition that disables his attempts to escape by self-amputation 
or other violence. The size of the pole must be proportioned 
-ito the weight of the game which it is expected to lift. 

THE SLIDING-POLE. 

Animals of aquatic habits, when caught m traps, invariably 
plunge at once into deep water ; and it is the object of the 
trapper, availing himself of this plunge, to drown his captive 
as soon as possible, in order to stop his violence, and keep him 
out of the reach of other animals. The weight of the trap 
and chain is usually sufficient for this purpose in the case of 
the muskrat. But in taking the larger amphibious animals, 
such as the beaver, the trapper uses a contrivance which is 
called the sliding-pole. It is prepared in the following man- 
ner : Cut a pole ten or twelve feet long, leaving branches 
enough on the small end to prevent the ring of the chain from 
slipping off. Place this pole near where you set your trap, in 
an inclined position, with its small end reaching into the deep- 
est part of the stream, and its large end secured at the bank 
by a hook driven into the ground. Slip the ring of your chain 
on to this, and see that it is free to traverse down the length 
of the pole. When the animal is taken it plunges desperately 
into the region towards which the pole leads. The ring slides 
down to the end of the pole at the bottom of the stream, and, 
with a short chain, prevents the victim from rising to the sur- 
face or returning to the shore. 

THE CLOG. 

Some powerful and violent animals, if caught in a trap that 
is staked fast, will pull their legs off, or beat the trap in 
pieces ; but if allowed to drag the trapabout with a moderate 



PRELIMINARIES. 19 

weight attached, wUI behave more gently, or at least will not 
be able to get loose for want of purchase. The weight used 
in such cases is called a clog. It is usually a pole or stick of 
wood, of a size suited to the ring of the trap-chain, and to 
the size of the game. As the object of it is to encumber the 
animal, but not to hold it fast, the chain should be attached 
to it near one of its ends, so that it will not be likely to get 
fast among the rocks and bushes for a considerable time. 
The usual way is to slip the ring over the large end of the 
pole and fasten it with a wedge. 

RULE FOR BAITING. 

There is one general principle in regard to haUmg animals 
that may as well be recorded and explained here, as it is ap- 
plicable to all cases. It is this : Never put bait on the pan of 
a trap. The old-fashioned traps were always made with holes 
111 the pan for strings to tie on bait ; and many if not most 
novices in trapping imagine that the true way is to attract the 
animal's nose straight to the centre of action, by piling bait 
on the pan, as though it were expected to catch him by the 
head. The truth, however, is, that animals are very rarely 
taken by the head or the body, but almost always by a le<.. 
When an animal pulls at a bait on the pan of a trap, he is not 
likely even to spring the trap, for he lifts in the wrong direc- 
tion ; and if he does spring it, the position of his head is such, 
especially if the bait is high on the pan, that he is pretty sure 
to give the jaws the slip. Besides, bait on the pan calls the 
attention of the wary animal to the trap ; whereas he ought 
to be wholly diverted from it, and all signs of it obliterated. 
Bait should always be placed so that the animal in attempting 
to take it shall put a foot on the pan. This can be done in 
several ways, all of which will be explained in detail here- 
after. But this general direction may be given for all cases 
that are not otherwise prescribed for: Place the bait either on 
a stick above the trap, or in an inclosure so arranged that the 
animal will have to step over the trap to reach it. 



20 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 



PROPER OUTFIT OF TRAPS. 

In preparing for a trapping excursion, the novice naturally 
inquires how many traps he shall take along. If the question 
were simply how many traps he could tend^ I should probably 
say from one to two hundred. But the main question really 
is, how many traps can he carry? If he is going on a marsh, 
lake, or river, where he can travel by boat, or into a region 
where he can cany his baggage by horse and wagon, he may 
take along all the traps he can tend, — the more the better. 
But if he is going by overland routes into the rough, woody 
regions where most game abounds, and consequently must 
carry his baggage on his back, he will probably find that 
seventy-five small traps, or an equivalent weight of large and 
small ones, will be as much as he will like to carry. 

PROFITS OF TRAPPING. 

The provident candidate for wood-craft will want to know 
what wages a man is likely to make at trapping. I will give 
him a few instances of what has been done, and then he may 
judge for himself. I have cleared seven dollars per day for a 
five weeks' trip. A man that once trapped with me, caught 
fifty-three muskrats in one night, which at present prices 
would be worth fifteen dollars and ninety cents. I know 
several men in Jefferson county (New York), who paid for 
good farms with furs that they caught within eight miles of 
home. It is not uncommon for two men to make five hun- 
dred dollars in a trapping season. But too much reliance 
must not be placed on these specimens. Good weather, good 
trapping-grounds, good traps, good judgment, and good luck 
must be combined, to secure good profits. 



^r.^-Iji»k \,0t 



(,'/' 11 




II. CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 

It will be useful to the inexperienced trapper to have some 
account of the appearance and habits of each animal in con- 
nection with instructions for capturing it. Such information 
is often indispensable as the basis of plans and contrivances 
for capture. I shall confine myself to brief descriptions in 
common language, not attempting any thing scientific ; and I 
shall avail myself of the help of books where my own obser- 
vation and experience fail. 



THE MUSKRAT OR MUSQUASH. 

This is an animal of amphibious habits. Its head and body 
are from thirteen to fifteen inches in length. The tail is nine 
or ten inches long, two-edged, and for two thirds its length 
rudder-shaped, and covered with scales and thin, short hair, 
the edges being heavily fringed. The hind feet are slightly 
webbed ; so that it can *' feather the oar," as boatmen say, 
when they are brought forward in swimming. The color is 
brown above and ashy beneath. Muskrats are nocturnal in 
their habits ; but are frequently seen swimming and feeding 
in the day time. They are excellent swimmers, and can go 
from ten to fifteen rods under water without breathing. Their 
natural food is grass and roots ; but they will eat clams, mus- 
sels, flesh, corn, oats, wheat, apples, and many other vegeta- 
bles. In open w^inters they sometimes find their w^ay into 
farmers' cellars through drains, and make free with wdiatever 
they find in store. They thrive best in sluggish streams or 
ponds bordered with grass and flags. The roots of these 
plants are their chief support, and from the tops they con- 
struct their abodes. These structures are dome-shaped, and 



22 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

rise sometimes to the height of five or six feet. The entrances 
are at the bottom, under water; so that the inside of the 
houses are not exposed to the open air. The Muskrats hve in 
them in winter, gathering into famihes of from six to ten 
members. Hundreds of these dwelHngs can be counted from 
a single point in many large marshes. 

Muskrats have a curious method of travelling long distances 
under the ice. In their winter excursions to their feeding- 
grounds, which are frequently at great distances from their 
abodes, they take in breath at starting and remain under the 
water as long as they can. Then they rise up to the ice, and 
breathe out the air in their lungs, which remains in bubbles 
against the lower surface of the ice. They wait till this air 
recovers oxygen from the water and the ice, and then take it 
in again and go on till the operation has to be repeated. In 
this way they can travel almost any distance, and live any 
length of time under the ice. 

The hunter sometimes takes advantage of this habit of the 
Muskrat, in the following manner : When the marshes and 
ponds where Muskrats abound are first frozen over and the ice 
is thin and clear, on striking into their houses with his hatchet 
for the purpose of setting his traps, he frequently sees a whole 
family plunge into the water and swim away under the ice. 
Followincr one of them for some distance, he sees him come 
up to renew his breath in the manner above described. After 
the animal has breathed against the ice, and before he has had 
time to take his bubble in again, the hunter strikes with his 
hatchet directly over him and drives him away from his 
breath. In this case he drowns in swimming a few rods, and 
the hunter, cutting a hole in the ice, takes him out. Mink, 
otter, and beaver travel under the ice in the same way ; and 
hunters have frequently told me of taking otter in the manner 
I have described, when these animals visit the houses of the 
Muskrat for prey. 

In summer, Muskrats live mostly in banks and in hollow 
trees that stand near a stream ; and sometimes, for want of 
suitable marshes and ponds, they remain in the banks and 
trees through the winter. Thev are very prolific, bringing 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 23 

forth from six to nine at a birth, and three times a year. The 
first kittens also have one litter, which attain to about the size 
of house-rats in September. ^ They have many enemies, such 
as the fox, wolf, lynx, otter, mink, and owl. They are found 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Rio Grande to 
the Arctic Regions. But they do not inhabit the alluvial 
lands of Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, though in 
other regions they live much further south. 

The modes of capturing the Muskrat are various. One of 
them we have already seen. Another is by spearing, of 
which a fine example will be given in a subsequent article by 
Mr. Thacker. These methods are good at certain seasons 
and in certain conditions of the ice, &c. ; but for general serv- 
ice there is no means of capture so reliable as the steel-trap. 
Traps should be set in the principal feeding places, play- 
grounds, and holes of the Muskrat, and generally about two 
inches under water. Bait is not necessary except when game 
is scarce and its signs not fresh. In that case you may bait 
with apples, parsnips, carrots, artichokes, white flag-roots, or 
even the flesh of the muskrat. The musk of this animal will 
sometimes draw eflectually at long distances. The bait should 
be fastened to the end of a stick, and stuck over the trap about 
eight inches high, and in such a position that the animal will 
have to pass over the trap to take the bait. Care should be 
taken to fasten the trap to a stake in such a position that the 
chain will lead the captive into deep water and drown him. 
If he is allowed to entangle himself or by any means to get 
ashore, he will be very likely to gnaw or twist oflP a leg and 
get away. 

THE MINK. 

The Mink is found in the northern parts of America, Eu- 
rope, and Asia. Its fur is very valuable, and in this country 
of late years has been the most popular kind. The Mink is 
carnivorous, and belongs to the mustelidcs or weasel family. 
It resembles the ferret and ermine. It is not amphibious like 
the muskrat, yet lives on the banks of streams and gets much 
of its food from them. It is of a dark brown color , has 
short legs, a long body and neck, and a bushy tail. In this 



24 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

country there are two varieties, which some naturahsts have 
supposed were distinct species ; one small, dark-colored, com- 
mon in the Northern and Eastern States and Canada ; the 
other larger, with lighter-colored, coarser, and less valuable 
fur, common in the Western and Southern States. The dark- 
colored variety measures from eleven to eighteen inches in 
length from the nose to the root of the tail, and has a tail from 
six to ten inches in length. The European and Asiatic Mink 
is a distinct species. 

Mink are ramblers in their habits, except in the breeding 
season. They feed on fish, frogs, snakes, birds, mice, and 
muskrats ; and the hen-roost frequently suffers from their dep- 
redations. They are very fond of speckled trout, and pretty 
sure to find out the streams wdiere those fish abound. Their 
breeding season commences about the last of April, and the 
females bring forth from four to six at a litter. The young 
are hid by the mother till they attain nearly half their growth, 
as the males of this species, as well as of the marten, fisher, 
weasel, panther, and most carnivorous animals, destroy their 
young when they can find them. 

Mink can be taken in steel-traps, either on land or in the 
water. Experts generally prefer to take them on land. The 
trap should be set near the bank of a stream. If one of their 
holes cannot be found, make a hole by the side of a root or a 
stump, or anywhere in the ground. Three sides of the cavity 
should be barricaded with stones, bark, or rotten wood, and 
the trap set at the entrance. The bait may be fish, birds, or 
the flesh of the muskrat, cut in small pieces ; and it should 
be put into the cavity beyond the trap, so that the animal will 
have to step over the trap in taking the bait. The trap should 
be concealed by a covering of leaves, rotten vegetation, 
or, what is better, the feathers of some bird. In very cold 
weather the bait should be smoked to give it a stronger smell. 

Mink can be attracted long distances by a scent that is pre- 
pared from the decomposition of eels, trout, or even minnows. 
These fishes are cut in small pieces, and put into a loosely- 
corked bottle, which is allowed to hang in the sunshine for 
two or three weeks in summer, when a sort of oil is formed 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 25 

which emits a very strong odor. A few drops of this oil on 
the bait, or even on a stick without bait, will draw Mink very 
effectually. 

The chain of tlie trap should be fastened to a spring-pole, 
strono" enough to lift the animal, when caught, out of the 
reach of the fisher, fox, and other depredators ; or if the trap 
is set near deep water, it may be attached to a sliding-pole, 
which will secure the game by drowning it. Both of these 
devices are fully described on pages 17 and 18. 

THE MARTE^^ 

The Marten is found on this Continent from about north 
latitude forty degrees to the northern limits of the woods, or 
about sixty-eight degrees. On the Eastern Continent they in- 
habit all the North of Europe and Asia, except the treeless 
districts of the cold regions. The principal species are, the 
Pine Marten, which inhabits both continents, the Beech or 
Stone Marten of Europe, the Sable of Russia and Northern 
Asia, and the Japanese Sable. Naturalists class the fisher, 
also, with the Martens. The Russian Sable is the finest and 
most valuable of all the Martens. The Hudson's Bay and 
Lake Superior Martens are next in value. Those from Hud- 
son's Bay, though really a variety of the American Pine 
Marten, are commonly called Hudson's Bay Sables, and their 
fur is known by that name in the markets of Europe. 

The Marten belongs to the weasel family, and is carnivo- 
rous. It is about as large as the mink, and differs but little 
from the latter in form, save that its feet are larger and hairy 
to the toes, and its tail is somewhat larger and of a dark brown 
or black color. The fur of the American Pine Marten is gen- 
erally of a yellowish brown, but varies greatly in color accord- 
ing to season, latitude, and locality. The Hudson's Bay and 
Lake Superior Martens are very dark-colored. The favorite 
haunts of these animals are the thick dark woods of the cold 
snowy regions. They are strictly arboreal in their habitat. 
They generally live in hollow trees, but occasionally they ex- 
cavate dens in the ground. They feed on rabbits, birds, 
squirrels, mice, and other small animals ; are fond of beech- 



26 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

nuts, and, it is said, resemble the bear in their fondness for 
honey. They are active climbers, and their small size enables 
them to pursue the gray squirrel and capture him in his 
hiding-places. They are, however, unable to cope in speed 
with the red squirrel or chickaree. They are not strictly 
nocturnal in their habits, as some have asserted, being fre- 
quently seen and killed in the daytime. Their breeding sea- 
son begins in March or April, and they have from three to 
five young at a time, which are hidden from the males during 
infancy. 

Sir John Richardson, the Arctic explorer, says that " par- 
ticular races of Martens, distinguished by the fineness and 
dark color of their fur, appear to inhabit certain rocky dis- 
tricts." 

Throughout the Hudson's Bay Territory there is a period- 
ical disappearance of the Martens, which is very remarkable. 
It occurs, according to Bernard Rogan Ross, in decades, or 
thereabouts, with wonderful regularity, and it is not known 
what becomes of them. They are not found dead, and there 
is no evidence of their migration. The failure extends through 
the whole territory at the same time. In the seasons of their 
disappearance, the few that remain will scarcely touch bait. 
There seems to be a providential instinct in this by which the 
total destruction of the race is prevented. 

Martens are taken in steel-traps by the same method as the 
mink. In winter, however, the traps should be set in hollow 
logs or trees, secured from the covering of snows, and con- 
cealed by the feathers of a bird. The Marten trappers of the 
Hudson's Bay Company commonly bait with fish-heads, pieces 
of flesh-meat, or, what they consider still better, the heads of 
wild fowl, which the natives gather for this purpose in au- 
tumn. 

THE SABLE. 

As I have already remarked, the Sable is closely allied to 
the martens. It is classed with them in Natural History, un- 
der the scientific name of Martes Zihellina. Two species are 
known : the Martes Zihellina or Russian Sable, and the Jap- 
anese Sable. The latter is marked with black on its legs and 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 27 

feet. It is thought by some of the Hudson's Bay Company's 
agents, that a marten exists in the northwestern part of Brit- 
ish America, and in the late Russian Possessions, which, if not 
the same, is very closely allied to the Russian Sable. The 
Russian Sable is spread over a vast extent of territory, being 
found from the northern parts of European Russia eastward 
to Kamtschatka. Its size is about equal to that of the marten, 
being about eighteen inches in length exclusive of the tail. It 
is not very prolific, seldom bringing forth more than five at a 
birth, and generally only three. This takes place in March 
and April. They make their homes chiefly near the banks 
of rivers, and in the thickest parts of the w^oods. They usu- 
ally live in holes which they burrow in the earth. These 
burrows are commonly made more secure by being dug among 
the roots of trees. Occasionally they make their nests in the 
hollow* of trees, and there rear their young. Their nests are 
composed of moss, leaves, and dried grass, and are soft and 
warm. Their food varies with the season, and is partly ani- 
mal and partly vegetable. In the summer, when hares and 
other small animals are w^andering about, the Sable devours 
great numbers of them. But in winter, when these animals 
are confined in their retreats by the frost and snow% the Sable 
is said to feed on wild berries. It also hunts and devours the 
ermine and small weasels, and such birds as its agility enables 
it to seize. Sometimes, when other sources of food fail, it will 
follow the track of wolves and bears, and feed on the rem- 
nants of prey these animals may have left. 

The fur of the Sable is in great request, and is the most 
beautiful and richly tinted of all the martens. The color is 
a rich brown, slightly mottled with white about the head, and 
having a gray tinge on the neck ; it varies somewhat according 
to locality, and in some regions is very dark. The best skins 
are said to be obtained in Yakootsk, Kamtschatka, and Russian 
Lapland. Atkinson, in his " Travels in Asiatic Russia," says 
that Bacrouzin, on Lake Baikal, is famed for its Sables. No 
skins have yet been found in any part of the world equal to 
them. The fur is of a deep jet black, with points of hair 
tipped with white. This constitutes their peculiar beauty. 



28 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

From eighty to ninety dollars are sometimes demanded by the 
hunters for a single skin. 

The Russian Sable is monopolized by the imperial family 
and nobility of that country. Only a few skins find their way 
into other countries. Some, however, are obtained privately 
in Siberia, by Jewish traders, and brought annually to the 
Leipzig fair. The fur of the Sable has the peculiarity of 
being fixed in the skin in such a manner that it will turn with 
equal freedom in all directions, and lies smoothly in whatever 
direction it may be pressed. The fur is rather long in propor- 
tion to the size of the animal, and extends down the limbs to 
the claws. 

The best method of capturing the Sable is by the steel-trap, 
the same as I have already described for taking the mink and 
marten. 

The Sable can be domesticated with success. , 

THE ERMINE. 

Next in importance to the sable, amongst European furs, is 
that of the Ermine. The Ermine belongs to the weasel fam- 
ily, has the general weasel shape and appearance, and inhabits 
the northern parts of Europe and Asia. It is a small animal, 
measuring only about fourteen inches in total length, of which 
the tail occupies four inches. There is, however, considerable 
variation in the size of individuals. The Ermine is carniv- 
orous and a most determined hunter. It preys on hares, rab- 
bits, and all kinds of small quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles. 
It is very fond of rabbits, of which, especially the young, it 
destroys great numbers. The pheasant and partridge also 
suffer greatly from its predacity. It pursues its game with 
great pertinacity and rarely suffers it to escape. It is also a 
great poacher, and plunders birds' nests of all kinds. Its 
favorite mode of attacking its prey is by fastening on the neck 
and sucking the blood of its victim. Wood, in his " Illus- 
trated Natural History," gives the following account of the 
manner in which the hare is hunted by the Stoat or Ermine : 

"Although tolerably swift of foot, it is entirely unable to cope 
with the great speed of the hare, an animal which frequently falls 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 29 

a victim to the Stoat. Yet it is enabled, by its great delicacy of 
scent and the singular endurance of its frame, to run down any hare 
on whose track it may have set itself, in spite of the long legs and 
wonderful speed of its prey. Wlien pursued by a Stoat, the hare 
does not seem to put forward its strength as it does when it is fol- 
lowed by dogs, but as soon as it discovei'S the nature of its pursuer, 
seems to lose all energy, and hops lazily along as if its faculties 
were benumbed by some powerful agency. This strange lassitude, 
in whatever manner it may be produced, is of great service to the 
Stoat, in enabling it to secure an animal which might in a very few 
minutes place itself beyond the reach of danger, by running in a 
straight line. 

" In this curious phenomenon, there are one or two points worthy 
of notice. 

" Although the Stoat is physically less powerful than the hare, it 
yet is endowed with, and is conscious of, a moral superiority, which 
will at length attain its aim. The hare, on the other hand, is sensi- 
ble of its weakness, and its instincts of conservation are much weaker 
than the destructive instinct of its pursuer. It must be conscious 
of its inferiority, or it would not run, but boldly face its enemy ; for 
the hare is a fierce and determined fighter when it is matched against 
animals that are possessed of twenty times the muscular powers of 
the Stoat. But as soon as it has caught a glimpse of the fiery eyes 
of its persecutor, its faculties fail, and its senses become oppressed 
with that strange lethargy which is felt by many creatures when 
they meet the fixed gaze of the serpent's eye. A gentleman who 
once met with a dangerous adventure with a cobra, told me that the 
creature moved its head gently from side to side in front of his face, 
and that a strange and soothing influence began to creep over his 
senses, depriving him of the power of motion, but at the same time 
removing all sense of fear. So the hare seems to be influenced by 
a similar feeling, and to be enticed as it were to its fate, the senses 
of fear and pain benumbed, and the mere animal faculties surviving 
to be destroyed by the single bite." 

The mink, marten, fisher, and other members of the weasel 
family, are said to exercise an influence on their prey similar 
to that above described. 

The color of the Ermine in summer is a light reddish brown 
on the upper parts of the body and light-colored or nearly 
white underneath. In winter, in the high northern latitudes, 

t 



30 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

its fur changes to a delicate cream-colored white, on all parts 
of the body except the tip of the tail, which retains its black 
color and forms a fine contrast to the rest of the body. It is 
only in the coldest portions of Norway, Sweden, Russia, and 
Siberia that the Ermine becomes sufficiently blanched in win- 
ter to become of any commercial value. Russian Asia fur- 
nishes the greater portion of those caught. In England the 
Ermine, when in its summer coat, is commonly called the 
Stoat, and, on account of its predaceous habits, is thoroughly 
detested. 

Ermine fur was formerly monopolized by the royal famiHes 
and nobility of Europe, but now finds its way into the gen- 
eral markets. 

The same general methods should be pursued in trapping 
the Ermine as in the case of the mink and marten. 

THE FISHER. 

This animal is usually called Pennant's Marten by the 
naturalists. From some hunters it also receives the name of 
Pekan. But in the fur-trade it is generally known as the 
Fisher. It is strictly a North American animal, ranging from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the mountains of North 
Carohna and Tennessee to the Great Slave Lake, and perhaps 
still further north. 

The Fisher belongs to the weasel family, and resembles 
both the marten and the wolverene in its habits and general 
appearance, though much larger than the former and less 
than the latter. Its general shape is like that of the marten, 
but its head is more pointed, its ears are more rounded, its 
neck, legs, and feet are stouter in proportion, and its claws 
much stronger. An average, full-sized Fisher will measure 
about two feet from the nose to the root of the tail. Its tail 
is about fifteen inches in length. Its feet are large, short, and 
stout, and thickly covered with fiir and hair. The color of its 
fur is dark brown or black, and its tail is black and bushy. 

Fishers are found chiefly in the cold, snowy regions of the 
north, and are generally nocturnal in their habits, though less 
so than the fox. They do not keep so exclusively in the 



i,!i,Li /ii'ii. 






\ 


/'/," '.i 









CAPTURE OF AKIMALS. 31 

woods as the marten, but their food is much the same. They 
prey on hares, raccoons, squirrels, grouse, mice, and small 
birds, and have been seen watching for fish, lyino- on a log 
that crossed the stream, with head inclined downward, ready 
for a plunge. They, however, prefer flesh meat to fish. 
Their breeding season begins in March or April, and from 
two to four young are brought forth at a time. The youno- 
are hidden from the males in hollow trees at a considerable 
distance from the ground, until they are large enough to take 
care of themselves. 

Fishers are taken in steel-traps by the same methods as the 
mink and marten. The barricade round the trap, however, 
should be stronger, and the entrance larger. The trap in all 
cases should be fastened to a spring-pole of sufficient strength 
to lift the animal clear from the ground, as it is pretty sure to 
gnaw off a leg or the pole, if left where it can touch the 
ground. The Hudson's Bay Company's trappers sometimes 
use the same methods in trapping the Fisher as those em- 
ployed in fox trapping. Messrs. Holland and Gunter, trap- 
pers of many years' experience in the Laurentian Hills, of 
Canada West, describe their mode of trapping the Fisher as 
follows : — 

" For capturing the Fisher, we always draw a trail composed of 
the oil of anise, asafoetida, and the musk of the muskrat, mixed 
with fish oil, and placed in a deerskin bag about the size of a mitten, 
pierced full of holes with a small awl. If drawn along the line of 
traps the scent is sure to attract the Fisher's attention, and when an 
animal once finds it, he will follow the trail till he comes to a trap. 
Mink are sometimes caught along trails of this kind ; and it is a 
good plan to set a trap for wolves on the line, as they are likely to 
be attracted to and follow it. In setting the trap, we place it either 
in a hollow log, or build a strong house and place the trap at the 
entrance. In the latter case the bait should be placed in the back 
part of the house, about two feet from the door. The trap should 
be covered with finely powdered rotten wood. A spring-pole should 
be used, as all animals of the canine family will follow the trail and 
rob the traps. Deer-meat, muskrat-meat, or fish, make good bait 
for the fisher, marten, mink, or wolf." 



32 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

The Fisher is an exceedingly powerful animal for its size, 
and will tear down wooden traps, or " dead-falls," with ease. 
It frequently annoys the trapper by robbing his marten-traps 
of their bait, or of the animals they have caught. Indeed, 
the marten-trappers of the Hudson's Bay Territory consider 
an old Fisher as great an infliction as a wolverene. It w^ill 
follow a " line " of traps for miles, and visits them with ex- 
emplary regularity. The structure for taking the marten 
being too small to admit the entrance of a Fisher, he breaks 
in from behind, and thus secures the bait without getting into 
the trap. 

THE FOX. 

The members of the Fox or Vulpine genus are numerous. 
Foxes are distributed through all latitudes, but they are 
most abundant in the North. Naturalists recognize fourteen 
different species. On this continent we have the Red, the 
Cross, the Silver or Black, the Prairie, the Swift or Kit, the 
Gray, the Coast, and the Arctic species. Northern Asia is 
represented by the Black and Gray, the White, the Red, and 
the Kit; European Russia, Sweden, and Norway, by the 
Black and Gray, the Cross, the Blue, the White, and the 
Red ; IMiddle Europe, by the Red ; and Greenland by the 
Blue and the White. In Southern Africa the Asse or 
Caama, and in Northern Africa the Fennec or Zerda, belong 
to the Fox genus. Fur-dealers say that there are thirteen 
different varieties or species of the Fox in Russia. 

The Fox is one of the most important of the fur-bearing 
animals. The most valuable, most beautiful, most rare, and 
most sought for of all the foxes is the Silver Grav or Black. 
It is found in the high northern latitudes of both continents, 
but only about two thousand skins in all are annually ob- 
tained. The best ones sell at the London sales as high as 
two hundred dollars each. The Cross Fox is next in value. 
On this continent the Black, Cross, and Red Foxes vary 
greatly in color and marking and in quality of fur. This is 
probably due to the hybridizing of the different species with 
each other. It is thought by some hunters that the Cross 



FRELEVnNARIES. 17 

that the Jatvs will lie flat when open. Otherwise the trap can- 
not well be secreted. 

8. The jaws must work easily in the posts. For want of 
attention to this, many traps will not spring. 

9. The adjustment of all the parts and their actual ivorking 
should he so inspected and tested that every trap shall he ready 
for use — " swre to (/<?," and sure to hold. In consequence 
of the unfaithfulness of trap-makers in inspecting and testing 
their work, many a trapper, after lugging a weary back-load 
of traps into the wilderness, finds that a large portion of them 
have some "hitch" which either makes them worthless or 
requires a tug at tinkering before they can be made to do the 
poorest service. 

German and English traps are almost universally liable to 
criticism on all the points above mentioned ; and most of the 
traps made in this country fail in one or more of them. 

In addition to the foregoing requisites, every trap should 
be furnished with a stout chain, faithfully welded, with ring 
and swivel. And let the trapper look well to the condition 
of the swivel. Many of the malleable iron swivels used by 
second-rate, careless manufacturers, will not turn at all ; and 
man}^ an animal escapes by twisting off chains that have these 
dead swivels. 



In treating of the capture of particular animals, I shall 
have occasion to refer frequently to several contrivances that 
are used in connection with the fastening of steel-traps. I 
will therefore describe those contrivances here, once for all. 

THE SPRING-POLE. 

In taking several kinds of land animals, such as the mar- 
ten and fisher, it is necessary to provide against their being 
devoured by other animals before the trapper reaches them, 
and also against their gnawing off their own legs, or breaking 
the chain of the trap by violence. The contrivance used for 
this purpose is called a spring-j^ole, and is prepared in the fol- 
lowing manner : If a small tree can be found standing near 
the place where your trap is set, trim it and use it for a spring 



18 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

as it stands. If not, cut a pole of sufficient size and drive it 
firmly into the ground ; bend down the top ; fasten the chain- 
ring to it ; and fasten the pole in its bent position by a notch 
or hook on a small tree or a stick driven into the ground. 
When the animal is caught, his struggles, pulling on the 
chain, unhook the pole, which flying up with a jerk, carries 
him into the air, out of the reach of prowlers, and in a con- 
dition that disables his attempts to escape by self-amputation 
or other violence. The size of the pole must be proportioned 
.to the weight of the game which it is expected to lift. 

THE SLIDING-POLE. 

Animals of aquatic habits, when caught m traps, invariably 
plunge at once into deep water ; and it is the object of the 
trapper, availing himself of this plunge, to drown his captive 
as soon as possible, in order to stop his violence, and keep him 
out of the reach of other animals. The weight of the trap 
and chain is usually sufficient for this purpose in the case of 
the muskrat. But in taking the larger amphibious animals, 
such as the beaver, the trapper uses a contrivance which is 
called the sliding-pole. It is prepared in the following man- 
ner : Cut a pole ten or twelve feet long, leaving branches 
enough on the small end to prevent the ring of the cjiain from 
slipping off. Place this pole near where you set your trap, in 
an inclined position, with its small end reaching into the deep- 
est part of the stream, and its large end secured at the bank 
by a hook driven into the ground. Slip the ring of your chain 
on to this, and see that it is free to traverse down the length 
of the pole. When the animal is taken it plunges desperately 
into the region towards which the pole leads. The ring slides 
down to the end of the pole at the bottom of the stream, and, 
with a short chain, prevents the victim from rising to the sur- 
face or returning to the shore. 

THE CLOG. 

Some powerful and violent animals, if caught in a trap that 
is staked fast, will pull their legs off, or beat the trap in 
pieces ; but if allowed to drag the trapabout with a moderate 



PRELIMINARIES. 19 

weight attached, will behave more gently, or at least will not 
be able to get loose for want of purchase. The weight used 
in such cases is called a clog. It is usually a pole or stick of 
wood, of a size suited to the ring of the trap-chain, and to 
the size of the game. As the object of it is to encumber the 
animal, but not to hold it fast, the chain should be attached 
to it near one of its ends, so that it will not be likely to get 
fast among the rocks and bushes for a considerable time. 
The usual way is to slip the ring over the large end of the 
pole and fasten it with a wedge. 

RULE FOR BAITING. 

There is one general principle in regard to baiting animals 
that may as well be recorded and explained here, as it is ap- 
plicable to all cases. It is this : I^ever put bait on the pan of 
a trap. The old-fashioned traps were always made with holes 
in the pan for strings to tie on bait ; and many if not most 
novices in trapping imagine that the true way is to attract the 
animal's nose straight to the centre of action, by piling bait 
on the pan, as though it were expected to catch him by the 
head. The truth, however, is, that animals are very rarely 
taken by the head or the body, but almost always by a leg. 
When an animal pulls at a bait on the pan of a trap, he is not 
likely even to spring the trap, for he lifts in the wrong direc- 
tion ; and if he does spring it, the position of his head is such, 
especially if the bait is high on the pan, that he is pretty sure 
to give the jaws the slip. Besides, bait on the pan calls the 
attention of the wary animal to the trap ; whereas he ought 
to be wholly diverted from it, and all signs of it obliterated. 
Bait should always be placed so that the animal in attempting 
to take it shall put a foot on the pan. This can be done in 
several ways, all of which will be explained in detail here- 
after. But this general direction may be given for all cases 
that are not otherwise prescribed for : Place the bait either on 
a stick above the trap^ or in an inclosure so arranged that the 
animal will have to step over the trap to reach it. 



20 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 



PROPER OUTFIT OF TRAPS. 

In preparing for a trapping excursion, the novice naturally 
inquires how many traps he shall take along. If the question 
were simply how many traps he could tend^ I should probably 
say from one to two hundred. But the main question really 
is, how many traps can he carry? If he is going on a marsh, 
lake, or river, where he can travel by boat, or into a region 
where he can carry his baggage by horse and wagon, he may 
take along all the traps he can tend, — the more the better. 
But if he is going by overland routes into the rough, woody 
regions where most game abounds, and consequently must 
carry his baggage on his back, he will probably find that 
seventy-five small traps, or an equivalent weight of large and 
small ones, will be as much as he will like to carry. 

PROFITS OF TRAPPING. 

The provident candidate for wood-craft will want to know 
what wages a man is likely to make at trapping. I will give 
him a few instances of what has been done, and then he may 
judge for himself. I have cleared seven dollars per day for a 
five weeks' trip. A man that once trapped with me, caught 
fifty-three muskrats in one night, which at present prices 
would be worth fifteen dollars and ninety cents. I know 
several men in Jefferson county (New York), who paid for 
good farms with furs that they caught within eight miles of 
home. It is not uncommon for two men to make five hun- 
dred dollars in a trapping season. But too much reliance 
must not be placed on these specimens. Good weather, good 
trapping-grounds, good traps, good judgment, and good luck 
must be combined, to secure good profits. 



1' \ pSifiii 




II. CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 

It will be useful to the inexperienced trapper to have some 
account of the appearance and habits of each animal in con- 
nection with instructions for capturing it. Such information 
is often indispensable as the basis of plans and contrivances 
for capture. I shall confine myself to brief descriptions in 
common language, not attempting any thing scientific ; and I 
shall avail myself of the help of books where my own obser- 
vation and experience fail. 



THE MUSKRAT OR MUSQUASH. 

This is an animal of amphibious habits. Its head and body 
are from thirteen to fifteen inches in length. The tail is nine 
or ten inches long, two-edged, and for two thirds its length 
rudder-shaped, and covered with scales and thin, short hair, 
the edges being heavily fringed. The hind feet are slightly 
webbed; so that it can "feather the oar," as boatmen say, 
when they are brought forward in swimming. The color is 
brown above and ashy beneath. Muskrats are nocturnal^ in 
their habits ; but are frequently seen swimming and feeding 
in file day time. They are excellent swimmers, and can go 
from ten to fifteen rods under water without breathing. Their 
natural food is grass and roots ; but they will eat clams, mus- 
sels, flesh, corn, oats, wheat, apples, and many other vegeta- 
bles. In open w^inters they sometimes find their w^ay into 
farmers' cellars through drains, and make free with whatever 
they find in store. They thrive best in sluggish streams or 
ponds bordered with grass and flags. The roots of these 
plants are their chief support, and from the tops they con- 
struct their abodes. These structures are dome-shaped, and 



22 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

rise sometimes to the height of five or six feet. The entrances 
are at the bottom, under water ; so that the inside of the 
houses are not exposed to the open air. The Muskrats Hve in 
them in winter, gathering into famiHes of from six to ten 
members. Hundreds of these dwelHngs can be counted from 
a single point in many large marshes. 

Muskrats have a curious method of travellino; lono; distances 
under the ice. In their winter excursions to their feedincj- 
grounds, which are frequently at great distances from their 
abodes, they take in breath at starting and remain under the 
water as long as they can. Then they rise up to the ice, and 
breathe out the air in their lungs, which remains in bubbles 
against the lower surface of the ice. They wait till this air 
recovers oxygen from the water and the ice, and then take it 
in again and go on till the operation has to be repeated. In 
this way they can travel almost any distance, and live any 
length of time under the ice. 

The hunter sometimes takes advantage of this habit of the 
Muskrat, in the following manner : When the marshes and 
ponds where Muskrats abound are first frozen over and the ice 
is thin and clear, on striking into their houses with his hatchet 
for the purpose of setting his traps, he frequently sees a whole 
family plunge into the water and swim away under the ice. 
Following one of them for some distance, he sees him come 
up to renew his breath in the manner above described. After 
the animal has breathed against the ice, and before he has had 
time to take his bubble in again, the hunter strikes with his 
hatchet directly over him and drives him away from ^ his 
breath. In this case he drowns in swimming a few rods, and 
the hunter, cutting a hole in the ice, takes him out. Mink, 
otter, and beaver travel under the ice in the same way ; and 
hunters have frequently told me of taking otter in the manner 
I have described, when these animals visit the houses of the 
Muskrat for prey. 

In summer, Muskrats live mostly in banks and in hollow 
trees that stand near a stream ; and sometimes, for want of 
suitable marshes and ponds, they remain in the banks and 
trees through the winter. They are very prolific, bringing 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 23 

forth from six to nine at a birth, and three times a year. The 
first kittens also have one litter, which attain to about the size 
of house-rats in September. They have many enemies, such 
as the fox, wolf, lynx, otter, mink, and owl. They are found 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Rio Grande to 
the Arctic Regions. But they do not inhabit the alluvial 
lands of Carohna, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, though in 
other regions they live much further south. 

The modes of capturing the Muskrat are various. One of 
them we have already seen. Another is by spearing, of 
which a fine example will be given in a subsequent article by 
Mr. Thacker. These methods are good at certain seasons 
and in certain conditions of the ice, &c. ; but for general serv- 
ice there is no means of capture so reliable as the steel-trap. 
Traps should be set in the principal feeding places, play- 
grounds, and holes of the Muskrat, and generally about two 
inches under water. Bait is not necessary except when game 
is scarce and its signs not fresh. In that case you may bait 
with apples, parsnips, carrots, artichokes, white flag-roots, or 
even the flesh of the muskrat. The musk of this animal will 
sometimes draw effectually at long distances. The bait should 
be fastened to the end of a stick, and stuck over the trap about 
eight inches high, and in such a position that the animal will 
have to pass over the trap to take the bait. Care should be 
taken to fasten the trap to a stake in such a position that the 
chain will lead the captive into deep water and drown him. 
If he is allowed to entangle himself or by any means to get 
ashore, he will be very likely to gnaw or twist off a leg and 
get away. 

THE MINK. 

The Mink is found in the northern parts of America, Eu- 
rope, and Asia. Its fur is very valuable, and in this country 
of late years has been the most popular kind. The Mink is 
carnivorous, and belongs to the mustelidce or weasel family. 
It resembles the ferret and ermine. It is not amphibious Hke 
the muskrat, yet lives on the banks of streams and gets much 
of its food from them. It is of a dark brown color , has 
short legs, a long body and neck, and a bushy tail. In this 



24 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

countiy there are two varieties, which some naturahsts have 
supposed were distinct species ; one small, dark-colored, com- 
mon in the Northern and Eastern States and Canada ; the 
other larger, with lighter-colored, coarser, and less valuable 
fur, common in the Western and Southern States. The dark- 
colored variety measures from eleven to eighteen inches in 
length from the nose to the root of the tail, and has a tail from 
six to ten inches in length. The European and Asiatic Mink 
is a distinct species. 

Mink are ramblers in their habits, except in the breeding 
season. They feed on fish, frogs, snakes, birds, mice, and 
muskrats ; and the hen-roost frequently suffers from their dep- 
redations. They are very fond of speckled trout, and pretty 
sure to find out the streams where those fish abound. Their 
breeding season commences about the last of April, and the 
females bring forth from four to six at a litter. The young 
are hid by the mother till they attain nearly half their growth, 
as the males of this species, as well as of the marten, fisher, 
•weasel, panther, and most carnivorous animals, destroy their 
young when they can find them. 

Mink can be taken in steel-traps, either on land or in the 
water. Experts generally prefer to take them on land. The 
trap should be set near the bank of a stream. . If one of their 
holes cannot be found, make a hole by the side of a root or a 
stump, or anywhere in the ground. Three sides of the cavity 
should be barricaded with stones, bark, or rotten wood, and 
the trap set at the entrance. The bait may be fish, birds, or 
the flesh of the muskrat, cut in small pieces ; and it should 
be put into the cavity beyond the trap, so that the animal will 
have to step over the trap in taking the bait. The trap should 
be concealed by a covering of leaves, rotten vegetation, 
or, what is better, the feathers of some bird. In very cold 
weather the bait should be smoked to give it a stronger smell. 

Mink can be attracted long distances by a scent that is pre- 
pared from the decomposition of eels, trout, or even minnows. 
These fishes are cut in small pieces, and put into a loosely- 
corked bottle, which is allowed to hanor in the sunshine for 
two or three weeks in summer, when a sort of oil is formed 



\ji§\ mi w ''' 



111 ,^ i V; ^ 1 



iii 'iiiM 




CAPTUEE OF a:n^lmals. 25 

which emits a very strong odor. A few drops of this oil on 
the bait, or even on a stick without bait, will draw Mink very 
efiectually. 

The chain of the trap should be fastened to a spring-pole, 
strong enough to lift the animal, when caught, out of the 
reach of the fisher, fox, and other depredators ; or if the trap 
is set near deep water, it may be attached to a sliding-pole, 
which will secure the game by drowning it. Both of these 
devices are fully described on pages 17 and 18. 

THE MARTEN. 

The Marten is found on this Continent from about north 
latitude forty degrees to the northern limits of the woods, or 
about sixty-eight degrees. On the Eastern Continent they in- 
habit all the North of Europe and Asia, except the treeless 
districts of the cold regions. The principal species are, the 
Pine Marten, which inhabits both continents, the Beech or 
Stone Marten of Europe, the Sable of Russia and Northern 
Asia, and the Japanese Sable. Naturalists class the fisher, 
also, w^ith the Martens. The Russian Sable is the finest and 
most valuable of all the ^lartens. The Hudson's Bay and 
Lake Superior Martens are next in value. Those from Hud- 
son's Bay, though really a variety of the American Pine 
Marten, are commonly called Hudson's Bay Sables, and their 
fur is known by that name in the markets of Europe. 

The Marten belongs to the weasel family, and is carnivo- 
rous. It is about as large as the mink, and differs but little 
from the latter in form, save that its feet are larger and hairy 
to the toes, and its tail is somewhat larger and of a dark brown 
or black color. The fur of the American Pine Marten is gen- 
erally of a yellowish brown, but varies greatly in color accord- 
ing to season, latitude, and locality. The Hudson's Bay and 
Lake Superior INIartens are very dark-colored. The favorite 
haunts of these animals are the thick dark woods of the cold 
snowy regions. They are strictly arboreal in their habitat. 
They generally live in hollow trees, but occasionally they ex- 
cavate dens in the ground. They feed on rabbits, birds, 
squirrels, mice, and other small animals ; are fond of beech- 



26 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

nuts, and, it is said, resemble the bear in their fondness for 
honey. They are active climbers, and their small size enables 
them to pursue the gray squirrel and capture him in his 
hiding-places. They are, however, unable to cope in speed 
with the red squirrel or chickaree. They are not strictly 
nocturnal in their habits, as some have asserted, being fre- 
quently seen and killed in the daytime. Their breeding sea- 
son begins in March or April, and they have from three to 
five young at a time, which are hidden fi'om the males during 
infancy. 

Sir John Richardson, the Arctic explorer, says that " par- 
ticular races of Martens, distinguished by the fineness and 
dark color of their fur, appear to inhabit certain rocky dis- 
tricts." 

Throughout the Hudson's Bay Territory there is a period- 
ical disappearance of the Martens, which is very remarkable. 
It occurs, according to Bernard Rogan Ross, in decades, or 
thereabouts, with wonderful regularity, and it is not known 
what becomes of them. They are not found dead, and there 
is no evidence of their migration. The failure extends through 
the whole territory at the same time. In the seasons of their 
disappearance, the few that remain will scarcely touch bait. 
There seems to be a providential instinct in this by which the 
total destruction of the race is prevented. 

Martens are taken in steel-traps by the same method as the 
mink. In winter, however, the traps should be set in hollow 
logs or trees, secured from the covering of snows, and con- 
cealed by the feathers of a bird. The Marten trappers of the 
Hudson's Bay Company commonly bait with fish-heads, pieces 
of flesh-meat, or, what they consider still better, the heads of 
wild fowl, which the natives gather for this purpose in au- 
tumn. 

THE SABLE. 

As I have already remarked, the Sable is closely allied to 
the martens. It is classed with them in Natural History, un- 
der the scientific name of Martes Zihellina. Two species are 
known : the Martes Zihellina or Russian Sable, and the Jap- 
anese Sable. The latter is marked with black on its legs and 



^V^\i 




',:■ ■•^J ^ 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 27 

feet. It is thought by some of the Hudson's Bay Company's 
agents, that a marten exists in the northwestern part of Brit- 
ish America, and in the late Russian Possessions, which, if not 
the same, is very closely allied to the Russian Sable. The 
Russian Sable is spread over a vast extent of territory, being 
found from the northern parts of European Russia eastward 
to Kamtschatka. Its size is about equal to that of the marten, 
being about eighteen inches in length exclusive of the tail. It 
is not very prolific, seldom bringing forth more than five at a 
birth, and generally only three. This takes place in March 
and April. They make their homes chiefly near the banks 
of rivers, and in the thickest parts of the woods. They usu- 
ally live in holes which they burrow in the earth. These 
burrows are commonly made more secure by being dug among 
the roots of trees. Occasionally they make their nests in the 
hollows of trees, and there rear their young. Their nests are 
composed of moss, leaves, and dried grass, and are soft and 
warm. Their food varies with the season, and is partly ani- 
mal and partly vegetable. In the summer, when hares and 
other small animals are wandering about, the Sable devours 
great numbers of them. But in winter, when these animals 
are confined in their retreats by the frost and snow, the Sable 
is said to feed on wild berries. It also hunts and devours the 
ermine and small weasels, and such birds as its agility enables 
it to seize. Sometimes, w^hen other sources of food fail, it w^ill 
follow the track of wolves and bears, and feed on the rem- 
nants of prey these animals may have left. 

The fur of the Sable is in great request, and is the most 
beautiful and richly tinted of all the martens. The color is 
a rich brown, slightly mottled with white about the head, and 
having a gray tinge on the neck ; it varies somewhat according 
to locality, and in some regions is very dark. The best skins 
are said to be obtained in Yakootsk, Kamtschatka, and Russian 
Lapland. Atkinson, in his *' Travels in Asiatic Russia," says 
that Bagouzin, on Lake Baikal, is famed for its Sables. No 
skins have yet been found in any part of the world equal to 
them. The fur is of a deep jet black, with points of hair 
tipped with white. This constitutes their peculiar beauty. 



28 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

From eighty to ninety dollars are sometimes demanded by the 
hunters for a single skin. 

The Russian Sable is monopolized by the imperial family 
and nobility of that country. Only a few skins find their way 
into other countries. Some, however, are obtained privately 
in Siberia, by Jewish traders, and brought annually to the 
Leipzig fair. The fur of the Sable has the peculiarity of 
beino; fixed in the skin in such a manner that it will turn with 
equal freedom in all directions, and lies smoothly in whatever 
direction it may be pressed. The fur is rather long in propor- 
tion to the size of tlie animal, and extends down the limbs to 
the claws. 

The best method of capturing the Sable is by the steel-trap, 
the same as I have already described for taking the mink and 
marten. 

The Sable can be domesticated with success. 

THE ERMINE. 

Next in importance to the sable, aniongst European furs, is 
that of the Ermine. The Ermine belongs to the weasel fam- 
ily, has the general weasel shape and appearance, and inhabits 
the northern parts of Europe and Asia. It is a small animal, 
measuring only about fourteen inches in total length, of which 
the tail occupies four inches. There is, however, considerable 
variation in the size of individuals. The Ermine is carniv- 
orous and a most determined hunter. It preys on hares, rab- 
bits, and all kinds of small quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles. 
It is very fond of rabbits, of which, especially the young, it 
destroys great numbers. The pheasant and partridge also 
suffer greatly from its predacity. It pursues its game wdth 
great pertinacity and rarely suffers it to escape. It is also a 
great poacher, and plunders birds' nests of all kinds. Its 
favorite mode of attacking its prey is by fastening on the neck 
and sucking the blood of its victim. Wood, in his " Illus- 
trated Natural History," gives the following account of the 
manner in which the hare is hunted by the Stoat or Ermine : 

" Although tolerably swift of foot, it is entirely unable to cope 
with the great speed of the hare, an animal which frequently falls 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 



29 



a victim to the Stoat. Yet it is enabled, by its great delicacy of 
scent and the singular endurance of its frame, to run down any hare 
on whose track it may have set itself, in spite of the long legs and 
wonderful speed of its prey. When pursued by a Stoat, the hare 
does not seem to put forward its strength as it does when it is fol- 
lowed by dogs, but as soon as it discovers the nature of its pur.uer, 
seems to lose all energy, and hops lazily along as if its faculties 
were benumbed by some powerful agency. This strange lassitude, 
in whatever manner it may be produced, is of great service to the 
Stoat, in enabling it to secure an animal which might in a very few 
minutes place itself beyond the reach of danger, by running in a 

straight line. 

" In this curious phenomenon, there are one or two points worthy 

of notice. 

" Although the Stoat is physically less powerful than the hare, it 
yet is endowed with, and is conscious of, a moral superiority, which 
will at length attain its aim. The hare, on the other hand, is sensi- 
ble of its weakness, and its instincts of conservation are much weaker 
than the destructive instinct of its pursuer. It must be conscious 
of its inferiority, or it would not run, but boldly face its enemy ; for 
the hare is a fierce and determined fighter when it is matched against 
animals that are possessed of twenty times the muscular powers of 
the Stoat. But as soon as it has caught a glimpse of the fiery eyes 
of its persecutor, its faculties fail, and its senses become oppressed 
with that strange lethargy which is felt by many creatures when 
they meet the fixed gaze of the serpent's eye. A gentleman who 
once met with a dangerous adventure with a cobra, told me that the 
creature moved its head gently from side to side in front of his face, 
and that a strange and soothing influence began to creep over his 
senses, depriving him of the power of motion, but at the same time 
removing all sense of fear. So the hare seems to be influenced by 
a similar feeling, and to be enticed as it were to its fate, the senses 
of fear and pain benumbed, and the mere animal faculties surviving 
to be destroyed by the single bite." 

The mink, marten, fisher, and other members of the weasel 
family, are said to exercise an influence on their prey similar 
to that above described. 

The color of the Ermine in summer is a light reddish brown 
on the upper parts of the body and light-colored or nearly 
white underneath. In winter, in the high northern latitudes, 



30 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

its fur changes to a delicate cream-colored white, on all parts 
of the body except the tip of the tail, which retains its black 
color and forms a fine contrast to the rest of the body. It is 
only in the coldest portions of Norway, Sweden, Russia, and 
Siberia that the Ermine becomes sufficiently blanched in win- 
ter to become of any commercial value. Russian Asia fur- 
nishes the greater portion of those caught. In England the 
Ermine, when in its summer coat, is commonly called the 
Stoat, and, on account of its predaceous habits, is thoroughly 
detested. 

Ermine fur was formerly monopolized by the royal families 
and nobility of Europe, but now finds its way into the gen- 
eral markets. 

The same general methods should be pursued in trapping 
the Erniine as in the case of the mink and marten. 

THE FISHER. 

This animal is usually called Pennant's Marten by the 
naturalists. From some hunters it also receives the name of 
Pekan. But in the fur-trade it is generally known as the 
Fisher. It is strictly a North American animal, ranging from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the mountains of North 
Carohna and Tennessee to the Great Slave Lake, and perhaps 
still further north. 

The Fisher belongs to the weasel family, and resembles 
both the marten and the wolverene in its habits and general 
appearance, though much larger than the former and less 
than the latter. Its general shape is like that of the marten, 
but its head is more pointed, its ears are more rounded, its 
neck, legs, and feet are stouter in proportion, and its claws 
much stronger. An average, full-sized Fisher will measure 
about two feet from the nose to the root of the tail. Its tail 
is about fifteen inches in length. Its feet are large, short, and 
stout, and thickly covered with fur and hair. The color of its 
fur is dark brown or black, and its tail is black and bushy. 

Fishers are found chiefly in the cold, snowy regions of the 
north, and are generally nocturnal in their habits, though less 
so than the fox. They do not keep so exclusively in the 




v-^^^^Z \^y^l^ 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 31 

woods as the marten, but their food is much the same. They 
prey on hares, raccoons, squirrels, grouse, mice, and small 
birds, and have been seen watching for fish, lying on a log 
that crossed the stream, with head inclined downward, ready 
for a plunge. They, however, prefer flesh meat to fish. 
Their breeding season begins in March or April, and fi'om 
two to four young are brought forth at a time. The young 
are hidden from the males in hollow trees at a considerable 
distance from the ground, until they are large enough to take 
care of themselves. 

Fishers are taken in steel-traps by the same methods as the 
mink and marten. The barricade round the trap, however, 
should be stronger, and the entrance larger. The trap in all 
cases should be fastened to a spring-pole of sufficient strength 
to lift the animal clear from the ground, as it is pretty sure to 
gnaw off" a leg or the pole, if left where it can touch the 
ground. The Hudson's Bay Company's trappers sometimes 
use the same methods in trapping the Fisher as those em- 
ployed in fox trapping. Messrs. Holland and Gunter, trap- 
pers of many years' experience in the Laurentian Hills, of 
Canada West, describe their mode of trapping the Fisher as 
follows : — 

" For capturing the Fisher, we always draw a trail composed of 
the oil of anise, asafoetida, and the musk of the muskrat, mixed 
with fish oil, and placed in a deerskin bag about the size of a mitten, 
pierced full of holes with a small awl. If drawn along the line of 
traps the scent is sure to attract the Fisher's attention, and when an 
animal once finds it, he will follow the trail till he comes to a trap. 
Mink are sometimes caught along trails of this kind ; and it is a 
good plan to set a trap for wolves on the line, as they are likely to 
be attracted to and follow it. In setting the trap, we place it either 
in a hollow log, or build a strong house and place the trap at the 
entrance. In the latter case the bait should be placed in the back 
part of the house, about two feet from the door. The trap should 
be covered with finely powdered rotten wood. A spring-pole should 
be used, as all animals of the canine family will follow the trail and 
rob the traps. Deer-meat, muskrat-meat, or fish, make good bait 
for the fisher, marten, mink, or wolf." 



32 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

The Fisher is an exceedingly powerful animal for its size, 
and will tear down wooden traps, or " dead-falls," with ease. 
It frequently annoys the trapper by robbing his marten-traps 
of their bait, or of the animals they have caught. Indeed, 
the marten-trappers of the Hudson's Bay Territory consider 
an old Fisher as great an infliction as a wolverene. It will 
follow a "line " of traps for miles, and visits them with ex- 
emplary regularity. The structure for taking the marten 
being too small to admit the entrance of a Fisher, he breaks 
in fi'om behind, and thus secures the bait without getting into 
the trap. 

THE FOX. 

The members of the Fox or Vulpine genus are numerous. 
Foxes are distributed through all latitudes, but they are 
most abundant in the North. Naturalists recognize fourteen 
different species. On this continent w^e have the Red, the 
Cross, the Silver or Black, the Prairie, the Swift or Kit, the 
Gray, the Coast, and the Arctic species. Northern Asia is 
represented by the Black and Gray, the White, the Red, and 
the Kit; European Russia, Sweden, and Norway, by the 
Black and Gray, the Cross, the Blue, the White, and the 
Red ; Middle Europe, by the Red ; and Greenland by the 
Blue and the White. In Southern Africa the Asse or 
Caama, and in Northern Africa the Fennec or Zerda, belong 
to the Fox genus. Fur-dealers say that there are thirteen 
different varieties or species of the Fox in Russia. 

The Fox is one of the most important of the fur-bearing 
animals. The most valuable, most beautiful, most rare, and 
most sought for of all the foxes is the Silver Gray or Black. 
It is found in the high northern latitudes of both continents, 
but only about two thousand skins in all are annually ob- 
tained. The best ones sell at the London sales as high as 
two hundred dollars each. The Cross Fox is next in value. 
On this continent the Black, Cross, and Red Foxes vary 
greatly in color and marking and in quality of fur. This is 
probably due to the hybridizing of the different species with 
each other. It is thought by some hunters that the Cross 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 49 

have been described by naturalists : Polar Bear, Grizzly- 
Bear, European Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Cinna- 
mon Bear, Asiatic Bear, Siberian Bear, Spectacled Bear of 
South America, Thibetan Bear, Bornean Bear, and Malay 
Bear. The three latter are called Sun-Bears, from their 
habit of basking in the midday rays of the sun. They are 
the smallest members of the family, and live exclusively on 
vegetables. 

Bears differ from each other, in consequence of differences 
of climate, more than almost any other animals. Those that 
inhabit the frozen wastes near the North Pole, or such 
high cold regions as the Rocky Mountains, are monsters of 
strength and ferocity ; while those that inhabit warm coun- 
tries are small, feeble, and inoffensive. The extremes of the 
scale are the Bornean Bear, which weighs less than one hun- 
dred pounds, and the great Polar Bear, which is thirteen feet 
in length, and weighs twenty-four hundred pounds. The 
American Black Bear is the species with which trappers have 
most to do. It is found in the western and northern parts of 
the United States and in the two provinces of Canada. Its 
weight when full grown is from three to six hundred pounds. 
The Cinnamon Bear of the Pacific coast is probably only a 
variety of this species. 

Bears (except the Sun-Bears) are omnivorous, feeding in- 
discriminately on roots, berries, nuts, corn, oats, flesh, fish, 
and turtles. The farmer's calf-pasture, sheepfold, and hog- 
pen are frequently subject to their depredations. They are 
particularly fond of honey. They generally sleep through 
the coldest part of the winter. They bring forth their young 
in the months of May and June, and generally two at a time. 
The cubs are hid in caves or hollow trees till they are large 
enough to follow the dam, and then ramble about with her till 
the following spring. 

The hunting of Bears with fire-arms, besides being objec- 
tionable on account of injury to the fur, is often dangerous 
business. They are very tenacious of life, and very bold and 
ferocious when wounded. A Grizzly Bear, shot by Captain 
Clark's party in the Rocky Mountain region, survived twenty 



60 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

minutes and swam half a mile after receiving ten balls in his 
body, four of which passed through his lungs and two through 
his heart ! Records of Bear hunting are full of perilous ad- 
ventures, and those who engage in open battle with the great 
Grizzly Bear of the Rocky Mountains, rarely escape without 
loss of life or limb. But steel-traps of the right size, and 
properly managed, subdue these monsters with greater cer- 
tainty than fire-arms, and without danger to the hunter. 

In trapping for Bears, a place should be selected where 
three sides of an inclosure can be secured against the entrance 
of the animal, and one side left open. The experienced 
hunter usually chooses a spot where one log has fallen across 
another, making a pen in this shape >. The bait is placed 
at the inner angle, and the trap at the entrance in such a sit- 
uation that the Bear has to pass over it to get at the bait. 
The trap should be covered with moss or leaves. Some think 
at best to put a small stick under the pan, strong enough to 
prevent the smaller animals, such as the raccoon and skunk, 
from springing the trap, but not so stiff as to support the 
heavy foot of the Bear. The chain of the trap should be fast- 
ened to a clog. (See page 18.) The weight of the clog for 
a Black Bear should be thirty pounds ; for a Grizzly Bear, 
eighty pounds. The chain should not be more than eighteen 
inches in length, as the habit of the Bear, when caught, is to 
attempt to dash the trap in pieces against trees, logs, or rocks ; 
and with a short chain, fastened to a heavy clog, he is unable 
to do this. The bait should be meat, and the Bear should be 
invited to the feast by the smell of honey or honey-comb, burnt 
on heated stones, near the trap. Bears seem to entertain no 
suspicion of a trap, and enter it as readily as a hog or an ox. 

THE RACCOON. 

The Raccoon is allied to the Bear family. It is found only 
on the Western Continent, where it is represented by two 
species : the Common Raccoon of the United States, and the 
Crab-eating Raccoon of the tropics. The former is spread 
over the greater part of North America from Texas to Hud- 
son's Bay. On the Pacific coast it has been seen as far north 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 61 

as sixty degrees. The Crab-eating species is found from Cal- 
ifornia and Texas to the 26th degree of south latitude. 

The Common Raccoon is the one of principal interest to 
the trapper and fur-dealer. Its body is about two feet long, 
and is thick and stout like the badger's. Its head resembles 
that of the fox. Its tail is about a foot long, large, and 
bushy. The color of the whole is grayish white, streaked 
and barred with darker colors. In some of the Western 
States the Raccoon is of altogether a darker color, sometimes 
approaching to black. The Raccoon is nocturnal and omnivo- 
rous in its habits, and hibernates like the bear. It feeds on 
nuts, green corn, eggs, mice, frogs, turtles, fish, shell-fish, 
birds, &c., and frequently makes havoc in the poultry-yard. 
It is an excellent swimmer, and is fond of rambling about 
small streams and marshes in search of frogs, shell-fish, and 
turtles. It is also a good climber, and generally lives and 
rears its young in the hollow of a tree, with the entrance at 
a considerable height from the ground. Its breeding season 
is in April or May, and from four to six young are brought 
forth at a time. 

Raccoons are sometimes taken by secreting traps in the 
paths which they make into corn-fields. Or traps may be set 
by the side of streams where they resort. In this case they 
should be baited with fresh fish ; or, as some prefer, with salt 
cod-fish, roasted to give it a strong smell. They are not very 
cunning ; and with their acute sense of smell, and their keen 
appetite for such provender, they rarely pass a trap thus baited 
without being taken. 

THE BADGER. 

This animal also belongs to the bear family. It is found 
in America, Europe, and Asia. Four species are recognized : 
the American Badger, the common Badger of Europe, the 
Indian Badger, and the Anakuma Badger of Japan. The 
European species is the most important in the fur- trade, fur- 
nishing 53,000 out of the 55,000 skins which annually find 
their way into the fur-markets. 

Though spread over a large portion of the globe, the 



52 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

Badger is nowhere numerous, except in a few localities on 
this Continent. It is omnivorous, feeding chiefly on roots, 
fruits, insects, and frogs. It also destroys the eggs and young 
of partridges, and other birds which build their nests on the 
ground. It is fond of the nests of wild bees, which it seeks 
out and robs with impunity, its tough hide being comparatively 
impervious to the stings of these insects. The Badger is a 
quiet, inoffensive animal, except when attacked, when it is 
a temble antagonist to the dog or man who comes in contact 
with its sharp teeth and formidable jaws. Its length is about 
two feet six inches from the nose to the root of the tail. The 
tail is short. The head is small, flat, and has a long snout. 
The height at the shoulder is about eleven inches. The body 
is broad and flat, as though compressed. The legs are sturdy 
and powerful. The feet, before and behind, have each five 
toes strongly set in the flesh, and armed with powerful, com- 
pressed claws, adapted to burrowing in the ground, digging 
for roots, and unearthing the marmot, ground-squirrel, and 
other small, burrowing animals. 

The Badger chooses the most solitary woods for its resi- 
dence. It lives in burrows, where it makes its nest and rears 
its young. When pursued, it commences digging in the 
earth, and, if pressed too closely to be able to hide by burrow- 
ing, it makes a hole large enough to cover its body, backs into 
it, and faces its pursuers with claws drawn in an attitude of 
defiance ; and woe to the dog that attempts to dislodge it from 
its fort ! If it has time to get its body fairly buried, it is se- 
cure from any dog, or even a man with a shovel, as it digs so 
rapidly that it will work its way into the earth faster than dog 
or man can follow. 

The fur of the Badger, when properly dressed, is said to 
make the best pistol furniture, and the coai*ser hairs are used 
for the fine brushes of the oil-painter. The hairs of the upper 
part of the Badger's body individually have three distinct 
colors : yellowish-white at the root, black in the middle, and 
ashy-grfcy at the end. This gives a uniform sandy-gray color 
to all the upper parts. The tail is furnished with long, coarse 
hair of the same color and quaHty. The throat, under parts, 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 53 

and legs are covered with shorter hair of a uniform deep- 
black. 

The female Badger brings forth from three to five young 
in the early spring, suckles themr for five or six weeks, and 
then turns them off to shift for themselves. 

The American Badger differs considerably from the Euro- 
pean species, to which the foregoing description applies. Its 
snout is less attenuated, though its head is equally long. The 
claws of its fore-feet are much longer in proportion, and its 
tail shorter. Its fur, both in color and quality, is different. 
It is also more carnivorous. Audubon describes its color and 
fur as follows : " Hair on the back, at the roots dark-gray, 
then light-yellow for two thirds its length, then black and 
broadly tipped with white, giving it in winter a hoary-gray 
appearance ; but in summer it makes a near approach to 
yellowish-brown. The eyes are bright, and piercing black. 
.... There is a white stripe running from the nose over 
the forehead and along the middle of the neck to the shoul- 
der. Legs, blackish-brown ; chin and throat, dull-white ; the 
remainder of the under surface, yellowish-white ; tail, yellow- 
ish-brown." The fur on the back in winter is three inches 
long, dense and handsome. The body is broad, low, and flat. 

The American Badger is abundant on the plains of the buf- 
falo region of Dakotah and Nebraska, and in the timberless 
regions in the neighborhood of the Yakima River, Washing- 
ton Territory. It is not found east of the Mississippi. It 
has been traced as far north as latitude fifty-eight degrees, 
and south into Mexico, where a distinct variety is found. 

Badgers can be taken by setting traps at the mouths of 
their holes, or by the method prescribed on a preceding page 
for taking the raccoon. The trap should be carefully con- 
cealed, as the Badger is somewhat cunning, and disposed to 
be suspicious of such apparatus near his haunts. 

THE WILD CAT OR BAY LYNX. 

The American Wild Cat is a species of lynx. It is about 
thirty inches long, with a tail of five or six inches, and weighs 
from seventeen to twenty pounds. Its general color above 



54 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

and on the sides is a pale reddish brown, overlaid with gray- 
ish; the latter color most prevalent in spring and summer. 
The throat is surrounded with a ruff or collar of loner hair. 
The under parts are light-cdored and spotted. On the sides 
are a few obscure dark spots, and indistinct longitudinal lines 
along the middle of the back. The tail is marked with a 
small black patch above at the end, and with half rings on its 
upper surface. The inner surface of the ear is black, with 
white patch. The legs are long, the soles of the feet naked, 
and the hind-feet are partially webbed. The fur is moder- 
ately full and soft. The ears have a pencil of dark hairs in 
winter. 

A variety of the American Wild Cat exists west of the 
Rocky Mountains, which was called by the early settlers in 
that region the Red Cat. Its color is somewhat darker than 
the common variety, being a rich chestnut-brown on the 
back ; sides and throat, a little paler. Fur soft and full. 

The Wild Cat is cowardly, rarely attacking any thing larger 
than a hare or young pig or lamb. The pioneer's henroost 
sometimes suffers from its nocturnal visitations. It feeds on 
grouse, partridges, squirrels, mice, and other small birds and! 
quadrupeds. It is fond of the dark, thick cedar swamps, 
where it preys on rabbits, pouncing on them from an over- 
hanging cliff or tree. In the Southern States, it frequents the 
swamps and canebrakes bordering on rivers and lakes, and also 
the briery thickets which grow up on old fields and deserted 
cotton lands. In dry seasons, or during the sultry weather 
of summer, it explores the courses of small streams, to feed 
on the fish that are left in the deep holes as the water dries 

Wild Cats are taken in the same way as raccoons or minks, 
by baiting with meat, and covering the trap smoothly over. 
The best way is to find a place where they have killed a hare, 
grouse, or other game, and have left a part of the flesh for a 
second meal. Set your trap there, and you will be pretty 
sure of a visit. 

The European Wild Cat is a distinct animal from the Bay 
Lynx. Goodrich, in his " Illustrated Natural History," gives 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 55 

the following account of this Cat and of its relations to the 
common Cat : — 

" There are many kinds of Wild Cat, but that from which the do- 
mestic Cat is supposed to have sprung is called the Common Euro- 
pean Wild Cat, and is found in most parts of that quarter of the 
globe, as well as in Asia and Africa ; it is also sometimes met with 
in this country. When America was first discovered, this species, 
either tame or wild, was not found here ; all our domestic Cats, as 
well as the wild ones occasionally found in the woods, are the de- 
scendants of those brought hither by the Europeans. The Wild Cats 
of the European Continent are either the descendants of the original 
races that have continued untamed from the beginning, or of domes- 
ticated cats that have wandered from their homes, and, living apart 
from man, have relapsed into barbarism. It is said that the wild 
and tame Cats, in their wanderings, sometimes meet ; when this is 
the case, the females of the tame breed are well treated by the sav- 
age Cats, but the males are rudely set upon and sometimes torn in 
pieces. The wild and tame Cats sometimes breed together, and pro- 
duce the kind called Tiger Cats. Some authors hold that the Wild 
Cat is a distinct species, because its tail is shorter and more bushy 
than that of the domestic Cat ; but this opinion seems not well 
founded, for still greater differences are found in dogs which are ac- 
knowledged to be of the same race." 

The European Wild Cat is common in France, Germany, 
Russia, Hungary, and some other parts of Europe, and is 
found in Northern Asia and Nepaul. It was formerly found 
in England, and a few yet linger among the hills of Scotland. 
It resembles the tame Cat, but is rather larger and more ro- 
bust, and has a more savage aspect. Its fur is long, soft, and 
thick. Its color is gray, darker on the back than below, with 
a blackish stripe along the back and paler curved stripes on 
the sides. It is a very shy animal ; lurks in the woods and 
preys on hares, squirrels, and birds, and is for the most part 
nocturnal in its habits. It makes its home in clefts among 
rocks or in hollow trees. The female brings forth from three 
to six young at a time. A full-grown male is about two feet 
and a half long from the nose to the root of the tail ; with a 
tail of considerable length. The female is smaller. 



66 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

This Wild Cat is of great strength, and when pursued and 
hard pressed exhibits daring and ferocity in an extraordinary 
degree. When caught in a trap they fly without hesitation 
at any person who approaches them, without waiting to be 
assailed. The directions given for trapping the American 
Wild Cat are appropriate for the capture of this species. St. 
John, the author of a work on " Highland Sports," gives the 
following plan for taking them : " Like other vermin, the 
Wild Cat haunts the shores of the lakes and rivers, and it is, 
therefore, easy to know where to lay a trap for them. Hav- 
ing caught and killed one of the colony, the rest of them are 
sure to be taken, if the body of their slain relative is left in 
some place not far from their usual hunting-ground, and sur- 
rounded with traps, as every Wild Cat who passes within a 
considerable distance of the place w^ill surely come to it." 

THE LYNX. 

There are several species of Lynx. The Canada Lynx 
and the European Lynx are the most important to the trapper 
and fur-dealer. The former inhabits North America from 
the latitude of Northern New York to the northern Hmits of 
the woods, or within the Arctic Circle. It is not found in 
the Mississippi Valley, but occurs west of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and is supposed to exist in the northeastern part of Asia. 
Its size is between that of a fox and a wolf. Its length from 
the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail is about three feet. 
The tail is shorter than the head, and is densely furred and 
tipped with black. Its feet are large, thickly covered with 
fur, and armed with strong claws. The ears are pointed, not 
large, and tipped with a pencil of long black hairs. The 
color in winter is a silver-gray on the back, paling towards 
the belly, which is sometimes white. A rufous under-shade 
mixes with the tints. It has a ruff on the sides of the neck 
and u^der the throat. In winter its fur is long and silky. 
The av rage weight of this Lynx is about twenty-five pounds. 

The i '.lanada Lynx lives in the darkest woods and swamps, 
preying on hares, mice, squirrels, grouse, and smaller birds, 
and r" ^ely attacking the deer. When pressed with hunger 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 57 

it prowls about the pioneer's cabin in search of lambs, pigs, 
and poultry. It is an active climber, and frequently seizes 
its prey by pouncing upon it from an overhanging tree ; at 
other times it crawls stealthily like a cat within springing dis- 
tance, or leaps upon it from a cliff. It pursues birds to the 
tops of the loftiest trees, and kills fish in the streams. It also 
feeds on carrion, and, when pressed with hunger, on its own 
kind. It is said to have a strong passion for perfumes, par- 
ticulaily the castoreum of the beaver. This is the principal 
scent or " medicine " used by trappers in capturing the Lynx. 
The female brings forth generally two young ones at a time, 
and hides them in hollow trees or caves till they are large 
enough to follow her. 

The Canada Lynx is a stupid animal and easily caught. It 
readily enters a trap that is properly set and baited with meat. 
The general directions already given for trapping various car- 
nivorous animals are applicable in this case. The Hudson's 
Bay Company's trappers practice the following method, ac- 
cording to Bernard Rogan Ross : The trap is covered, inside 
the jaws, w^ith a well-fitting " pallet " of birch bark. On the 
pallet a piece of hair skin, well rubbed with the " medicine " 
or scent, is tied. The trap is then placed indifferently either 
under or on the snow. The Lynx, scenting his favorite per- 
fume, endeavors to withdraw the skin with his paw, and con- 
sequently springs the trap. It does not, like most of the fur- 
bearing animals, make violent efforts to escape, or drag the 
trap to a distance ; it generally lies down until aroused by the 
approach of the hunter, when, instead of attempting to escape 
by flight, it springs at him. 

The European Lynx closely resembles the Canada species ; 
its habits are also similar. Its fur is valuable. Its general 
color is a dull reddish gray above, whitish below, mottled with 
black. On the sides are dark oblong patches. In winter the 
fur is longer and lighter-colored than in summer. The keen- 
ness of its sight has long been proverbial. It is found from 
the Pyrenees to the far North, and throughout Northern Asia. 
The directions given for trapping the Canada Lynx are suffi- 
cient in the case of this species. 



58 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

THE COUGAR OR AMERICAN PANTHER. 

This animal is one of the largest of the cat family that 
exists on the Western Continent, being rivaled only by the 
jaguar. It inhabits every latitude from Canada to Patagonia. 
In different localities it receives different names and varies 
somewhat in size. In the United States, east of the Rocky 
Mountains, it is commonly called the Panther, and sometimes 
the Catamount ; on the west coast it is called the California 
Lion ; in South America its common name is Puma. Cougar, 
however, is the scientific and proper name. The true Pan- 
ther is confined to the Eastern Continent ; and is a variety of 
the leopard, being found mostly in Asia. In the north, 
Cougars prefer for their retreat ledges of rock inaccessible to 
man, called by hunters panther ledges. They appear rarely 
by daylight, except when pressed for food, but conceal them- 
selves behind rocks and fallen trees till evening. In South 
America their favorite haunts are the vast grassy plains, 
where they destroy great numbers of wild cattle. 

Full grown Panthers killed in northern New York have 
been known to measure over eleven feet from the nose to the 
tip of the tail, being about twenty-eight inches high, and 
weighing nearly two hundred pounds. Their color is a red- 
dish-brown above, shading into a lighter color underneath. 
They are armed with sharp teeth and long, heavy claws. 
They feed chiefly on deer, crawHng stealthily to within 
springing distance, or watching on some cliff or tree, and 
pouncing like a cat on their prey. Their activity enables 
them to take the deer with ease. It is asserted by hunters 
that each Panther destroys as many as two deer per week, 
and a pair of Panthers have been known to attack and kill a 
full-grown moose. In newly settled countries, they fre- 
quently carry off young cattle and sheep. They are good 
climbers and readily take to a tree when pursued by dogs, 
from which they can easily be brought down by the rifle. 
This is the most common way of taking them. They are 
cowardly, and rarely attack a man unless wounded, when 
they are dangerous. 



^ h 




CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 59 

The best way to take Panthers with steel-traps is to find 
where they have killed a deer or other animal, and left part 
of the carcass. Secrete the trap near the remains, and you 
will catch them when they return for a second meal. They 
seldom leave the vicinity of an animal they have killed, till it 
is all devoured. The same is true of all the large animals of 
the cat kind, such as the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, &c. 

THE JAGUAR. 

Like the cougar, this is an exclusively American animal. 
Though scarcely equalling the cougar in extreme length, the 
Jaguar is stouter and more formidable. It is found from 
Louisiana to Buenos Ayres. This animal has a large head, a 
robust body, and is very ferocious. Its usual size is about 
three fourths that of the tiger. Humboldt, however, states 
that he saw Jaguars which in length surpassed that of all the 
tigers of Asia which he had seen in the collections of Europe. 
The Jaguar is sometimes called the American tiger. Their 
favorite haunts are the swamps and jungles of tropical Amer- 
ica. There they subsist on monkeys, capabyras or water- 
hogs, tapirs, peccaries, birds, turtles and turtle eggs, lizards, 
fish, shell-fish, and insects. Emerging from these haunts into 
the more open country, they prey upon deer, horses, cattle, 
sheep, and farm stock. In the early days of the settlement of 
South America the Jaguar was one of the greatest scourges 
the settlers had to meet. They haunted the clearings and 
plantations and devoured horses, cattle, and sheep without 
mercy. Nor were the settlers themselves and their children 
free from their attack. For many years where Jaguars 
abounded the settlers had an arduous warfare before they 
could exterminate the ferocious marauders, or drive them 
from the vicinity of their habitations. 

The Jaguar is a cautious and suspicious animal. It never 
makes an open attack on man or beast. It approaches its 
prey stealthily, and pounces upon it from some hiding-place, 
or some position of advantage. It will follow a herd of ani- 
mals for many miles in hopes of securing a straggler ; and 
always chooses the hindmost animal, in order that if turned 



60 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

upon, it may escape with its prey the more easily. In this 
way it pursues men. A Jaguar has been known to follow the 
track of travellers for days together, only daring to show itself 
at rare intervals. A full grown Jaguar is an animal of enor- 
mous strength, and will kill and drag off a horse or ox with 
comparative ease. They commit vast havoc among the horses 
which band together in great herds on the plains of South 
America. Full grown colts and calves are their favorite prey. 
Goodrich, in his Natural History, describes their operations as 
follows : " Frequently two Jaguars will combine to master 
the more powerful brutes. Some of them lie in wait around 
the salt-licks, and attack the animals that resort to these places. 
Their habit is to conceal themselves behind some bush, or on 
the trunk of a fallen tree : here they will lie, silent and mo- 
tionless, for hours, patiently waiting for their victims. When 
they see a deer, or a mule, or mustang approaching, the eyes 
dilate, the hair rises along the back, the tail moves to and fro, 
and every limb quivers. When the unsuspecting prey comes 
within his reach, the monster bounds hke a thunderbolt upon 
him. He fixes his teeth in his neck and his claws in the loins, 
and though the dismayed and aggravated victim flies, and 
rears, and essays to throw off his terrible rider, it is all in 
vain. His strength is soon exhausted, and he sinks to the 
earth an easy prey to his destroyer. The Jaguar, growling 
and roaring in triumph, already tears his flesh while yet the 
agonies of death are upon him. When his hunger is appeased 
he covers the remains of the carcass with leaves, sticks, and 
earth, to protect them from the vultures ; and either remains 
watching near at hand or retires for a time till appetite revives, 
when he returns to complete his carnival." The Jaguar makes 
its attack upon the larger quadrupeds by springing upon their 
shoulders. Then placing one paw on the back of the head 
and another on the muzzle, with a single wrench it dislocates 
the neck. The smaller animals it lays dead with a stroke of 
its paw. 

The Jaguar in external appearance and in habits closely 
resembles the leopard of the Old World. The female pro- 
duces two at a birth. The ground color of a full-grown 



CAPTURE OF ANLMALS. 61 

animal is yellow, marked with open figures of a rounded-an- 
gular form. In each of these figures are one or more black 
spots. The figures are arranged longitudinally and nearly 
parallel along the body. The belly is almost white. There 
is considerable variation in color among Jaguars, some being 
very dark or almost black, with indistinct markings. The 
richly tinted skins are highly valued, and are exported to 
Europe in large numbers, where they are used by the mili- 
tary officers for saddle coverings. 

For capturing the Jaguar in steel-traps the directions given 
for trapping the cougar should be followed. 

THE LION. 

The principal habitat of the Lion is in Africa. Some also 
exist in Asia, but nowhere else. There are three African 
varieties — the Black, the Red or Tawny, and the Gray. In 
Asia the dark-colored Bengal, the light-colored Persian or 
Arabian, and the Maneless Lions exist. A full-grown Lion, 
in its native wilds, is usually four feet in height at the shoul- 
ders, and about eleven feet long from the nose to the tip of 
the tail. He is of great strength and ferocity, and is commonly 
called the " king of beasts." Lions belong to the cat family, 
and prey upon all animals they can master. They approach 
their prey stealthily, like a cat hunting a mouse, and spring 
upon it unawares. Human beings are not exempt from their 
attack, but form their most coveted prey when once an appe- 
tite for human flesh has been established. In Africa they 
hang round the villages, and carry off every man, woman, or 
child they can secure, and make great havoc among all kinds 
of domestic animals. Gerard, the French Lion-hunter of 
North Afi'ica, estimates that the average length of life of the 
Lion is thirty-five to forty years ; and that he kills, or con- 
sumes, year by year, horses, mules, horned cattle, camels, 
and sheep, to the value of twelve hundred dollars. Taking 
the average of his life, which is thirty-five years, each Lion 
costs the Arabs of that country forty-two thousand dollars. 
The Lion is mostly nocturnal in its habits, hunting its prey 
and satisfying its appetite during the night, and sleeping and 



62 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

digesting its food during the day. The Lioness is smaller than 
the male, and brings forth from one to three young at a time, 
about the beginning of the year. Lions are not numerous in 
Asia, and are steadily growing less so in Africa. They are 
now seldom found near the coasts of that Continent. Wher- 
ever the white man appears he wages relentless warfare against 
the "king of beasts." Its favorite haunts are the plains rather 
than the forests, and it is content with the shelter of a few- 
bushes or low jungle. They sometimes hunt in troops — 
several attacking a herd of zebras, or other animals, in con- 
cert. Their strength is very great, and one has been known 
to carr}^ a horse a distance of a mile from where he had killed 
it. Their most common prey are the deer and antelope which 
abound on the plains of Africa and in India. The zebra, the 
quagga, and the buffalo are their frequent victims. 

The directions already given for taking the cougar with the 
steel-trap are adapted to the Lion. It may also be taken by 
setting a trap near its haunts and baiting it with a dead sheep 
or other animal. Great care must be taken to thoroughly 
secrete the trap, as the Lion is a very suspicious and intelli- 
gent beast. It is said that when a Lion is killed, all others 
retire from and avoid that immediate vicinity. The Lion is 
not a fastidious feeder. While, on the one hand, he likes to 
strike down a livincr animal and suck the hot blood from its 
body, on the other, he will devour any dead animal he may 
find, whether fresh or otherwise. " So thoroughly is this the 
case," says Wood, " that Lion-hunters are in the habit of de- 
coying their mighty game by means of dead antelopes or oxen, 
which they lay near some water-spring, knowing well that the 
Lions are sure to seize so excellent an opportunity of satis- 
fying at the same time the kindred appetites of thirst and 
hunger." 

THE TIGER. 

If the lion is the scourge of Africa, the Tiger holds that 
place in India and Southern Asia. The Royal Tiger of India 
rivals the lion in size, strength, ferocity, and activity, and 
excels him in beauty of form and color, and grace of move- 
ment. The Tiger is of great size, measuring in the largest 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 63 

specimens, four feet in height, four feet eight inches in girth, 
and thirteen feet six inches in total length. Its color is a 
tawny yellow, with transverse, dark-colored or black stripes. 
The under parts, the chest and throat, and the long tufts of 
hair on each side of the face are nearly white, and the mark- 
ings on these parts are indistinct. The general make of the 
Tiger is a httle more slender than that of the lion. Their 
haunts are the forests and jungles, and they prey upon all ani- 
mals which come within their reach and power. They are of 
amazing strength and often bound upon their prey by a single 
leap of fifty feet. The Indian buffalo, which is as large as an 
ox, is killed and dragged off by the Tiger without difficulty. 
The female has from three to five young at a birth, which she 
defends with great fierceness. The range of the Tiger is con- 
fined to Asia, and to certain districts of that Continent. Some 
sections are terribly infested with them, and the inhabitants 
are kept in a state of terror by their depredations. They are 
common in the wilds of Hindostan, in various parts of Central 
Asia, even as far north as the Amoor River, and are also 
found on some of the large Asiatic Islands. Portions of 
Sumatra are so infested with them as to be almost depopulated. 
Here and in some parts of India, the Tiger is protected by 
the superstition of the people, who regard it as a sacred ani- 
mal, animated by the souls of their dead ancestors, and none 
are killed but the " Man-eaters." 

Wood in his Natural History gives the following description 
of the habits of the Tiger : — 

" When seeking its prey, it never appears to employ openly that 
active strength which would seem so sure to attain its end, but 
creeps stealthily towards the object, availing itself of every cover, 
until it can spring upon the destined victim. Like the lion, it has 
often been known to stalk an unconscious animal, crawling after 
it as it moves along, and following its steps in hopes of gaining a 
nearer approach. It has even been known to stalk human beings in 
this fashion, the Tiger in question being one of those terrible ani- 
mals called 'Man-eaters,' on account of their destructive propen- 
sities. It is said that there is an outward change caused in the Tiger 
by the indulgence of this man-slaying habit, and that a ' Man-eater ' 



64 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

can be distinguished from any other Tiger by the darker tint of the 
skin, and a redness in the cornea of the eyes. Not even the Man- 
eating Tiger dares an open assault, but crawls insidiously towards his 
prey, preferring, as does the lion, the defenceless women and children 
as the object of attack, and leaving alone the men, who are seldom 
without arms. 

" The Tiger is very clever in selecting spots from whence it can 
watch the approach of its intended prey, itself being couched under 
the shade of foliage or behind the screen of some friendly rock. It 
is fond of lying in wait by the side of moderately frequented roads, 
more particularly choosing those spots where the shade is the 
deepest, and where water may be found at hand wherewith to 
quench the thirst that it always feels when consuming its prey. 
From such a point of vantage it will leap with terrible effect, 
seldom making above a single spring and, as a rule, always being 
felt before it is seen or heard. 

" It is a curious fact that the Tiger generally takes up his post on 
the side of the road which is opposite his lair, so that he has no need 
to turn and drag his prey across the road, but proceeds forward with 
his acquisition to his den. Should the Tiger miss his leap, he gen- 
erally seems bewildered and ashamed of himself, and instead of re- 
turning to the spot, for a second attempt, sneaks off discomfited from 
the scene of his humiliation. The spots where there is most danger 
of meeting a Tiger, are the crossings of nullahs, or the deep ravines 
through which the water-courses run. In these localities the Tiger 
is sure to find his two essentials, cover and water. So apathetic are 
the natives, and so audacious are the Tigers, that at some of these 
crossings a man or a bullock may be carried off daily, and yet no 
steps will be taken to avert the danger, with the exception of a few 
amulets suspended about the person. Sometimes the Tigers seem 
to take a panic, and make a general emigration, leaving, without any 
apparent reason, the spots which they had long infested, and making 
a sudden appearance in some locality where they had but seldom be- 
fore been seen 

" Th*ere is a certain bushy shrub, called the korinda, which is 
specially affected by the Tigers on account of the admirable cover 
which its branches afford. It does not grow to any great height, but 
its branches are thickly leaved, and droop over in such a manner that 
they form a dark arch of foliage, under which the animal may creep, 
and so lie hidden from prying eyes, and guarded from the unwelcome 
light and heat of the noonday sun. So fond are the Tigers of this 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 65 

mode of concealment that the hunters always direct their steps to 
the korinda-bush, knowing well that if a Tiger should be in the 
neighborhood, it would be tolerably certain to be lying under the 
sombre shade of the korinda branches." 

There are a number of modes adopted by the natives of 
Asia, for killing the Tiger, such as spring-bows armed with 
poisoned arrows, nets, cages with trap-doors, enticing them 
into locations where they can be shot, &c. ; but they are all 
inferior to the steel-trap. This instrument should be intro- 
duced wherever this lurking marauder abounds. The habit 
of returning to the unfinished carcass of the beast it has slain 
or found, which I have already noticed as pertaining to the 
cat family, is very strong in the Tiger, and can be taken 
advantage of in trapping them, in the same manner as de- 
scribed for the lion and cougar. The trap should be set 
near the hind parts of the carcass, as the Tiger always be- 
gins with those parts and eats toward the head. They may 
also be taken by setting traps along the paths whicli they 
make through the jungle near their lairs. In all cases the 
traps should be carefully secreted. A Tiger is easily killed 
with a bullet. Next to the brain and heart, the lungs and 
liver are its most mortal parts. A Tiger when struck by a bul- 
let in the liver generally dies within fifteen or twenty minutes. 
If once woiinded anywhere they usually die, though perhaps 
not immediately. From some unknown cause a wound on 
a Tiger very soon assumes an angry appearance, becomes 
tainted and the abode of maggots, and finally proves fatal. 
This tendency to putrefaction in the Tiger, renders it neces- 
sary that they should be skinned immediately after they are 
killed if the preservation of the skin is any object. Especially 
should the Ticker be removed out of the sunshine, instantly 
after it is slain. A delay of ten or fifteen minutes will often 
ruin the skin by the loosening of the hair from putrefaction. 
The skin after being removed should be at once stretched, and 
treated with a very strong solution of salt, alum, and catechu. 

Several other large animals of the cat kind are found in 
Asia and Africa, such as the Leopard, the Ounce, the Riman- 

5 



66 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

Dihan or Tree-Tiger, &c. They are all carnivorous and of 
similar habits, and should be trapped on the same general 
principles as the tiger and cougar. Of these animals, the 
Leopard is the most formidable and destructive. It is found 
in both Asia and Africa, but in greatest numbers in the latter 
country. It is much smaller than the tiger, but of extraor- 
dinary strength for its size. It does not usually attack man, 
unless wounded or pursued. It is very destructive among the 
herds and domestic animals, antelope, deer, and monkeys. It 
is celebrated for the beauty of its skin and the agility and 
grace of its movements. Its haunts are the forests where 
.thick, high undergrowth prevails. 

THE WOLVERENE. 

This animal is found throughout a large part of British 
America, and in some of the wildest portions of the Northern 
States. It is about three feet long from the nose to the root 
of the tail, and has a tail fourteen inches in length. In gen- 
eral appearance and movements it resembles the bear, while 
its head bears a strong likeness to that of the fisher except 
that the muzzle is shorter. The habits and food of the Wol- 
verene are much like those of the marten. They hunt hares, 
mice, birds, and kill disabled deer. They are powerfully 
built and possess great strength. Their prevailing color is 
dark brown on the back and under parts. A broad stripe of 
yellowish brown sweeps along each side and ends at the root 
of the tail. The legs and feet are black. Stripes and patches 
of black and yellow occur on the under parts. The fur is 
long, soft, and tolerably fine, overlaid with larger and coarser 
hairs, which are about three inches long on the rump but 
shorter in front. The Wolverene is a great mischief-maker 
for the trapper in the regions where it dwells, especially the 
marten- trappers of British America, who use the old-fashioned 
" dead-fall." One of these animals will follow a line of traps 
for miles, tearing them down, devouring bait and the animals 
that have been caught. They are also very troublesome in 
destroying caches of provisions. On account of its destruc- 
tive propensities, and great cunning and sagacity, the Indians 



i"'''. /'/■ s^ 




.// '^■■WA)VVVi_/|^^^i,,;i^,;(. 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 67 

call the Wolverene the Evil One or Devil. They are seldom 
caught in traps, and the most successful way of destroying 
them is said to be by strychnine. 

THE OPOSSUM. 

This animal inhabits the warmer parts of the United States, 
and several species of it are said to exist also in Australia. 
In form it somewhat resembles the common house rat. Its 
body is about twenty inches long, stoutly built, and its tail, 
which is generally fifteen inches in length, is prehensile, like 
that of some monkeys, i. e., capable of holding on to any 
thing that it encircles. The Opossum is five-toed, and walks 
on the sole of its foot like the bear. Its ears are large, 
rounded, and almost naked. The female has from nine to 
thirteen teats, the odd one being in the centre of the ring 
formed by the rest. The flir is long, soft, and woolly, whitish 
at the roots, and brown at the top. The Opossum is omniv- 
orous, feeding on corn, nuts, berries, roots, insects, young 
birds, eggs, mice, &c. It is nocturnal in its habits ; hiding in 
the thick foliage of the trees in the daytime, and seeking its 
food by night. It is an active climber, and is said to spend 
much of its time and even to sleep suspended from the hmb 
of a tree by the tail ! The females are very prolific, producing 
from nine to thirteen young at a birth, and three or even four 
litters in a year. They are provided with a pouch under the 
belly, in which they protect and suckle their young. 

These animals are trapped in the same manner as the rac- 
coon and the badger, by setting traps in their haunts, and bait- 
ing with any of their favorite kinds of food. They have a 
habit, when caught, of feigning death, and will bear consid- 
erable torture without betraying any signs of life. This habit 
doubtless gave rise to the common by-word which calls cer- 
tain kinds of deceit " playing 'possum." 

THE SKUNK. 

This animal, though generally much despised in this coun- 
try, is said to furnish the staple fur to Poland, and deserves 
at least the respectful attention of the trapper. It is related 



68 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

to the weasel. Its head is small, with a projecting, naked 
nose, small, piercing eyes, and short, rounded ears. The 
body is about eighteen inches long ; the tail twelve or four- 
teen inches, and bushy. The feet are short, and well adapted 
to digging, having naked soles and closely united toes with 
claws. The prevailing color is white and black, some varie- 
ties being mostly white and others mostly black. The fur of 
the latter is the most valuable. The Skunk walks with its 
back much curved, and its tail erect, as though proud of its 
beauty. It is nocturnal in its habits, and during the summer 
months searches the fields in the vicinity of its haunts every 
night, feeding principally on worms, bugs, and grasshoppers, 
but sometimes devouring frogs, mice, young birds, green corn, 
&c., and occasionally making free with poultry and eggs. Its 
services in clearing the farmer's fields and gardens of bugs 
and worms more than pay for its depredations, and it ought to 
be regarded as a useful animal. Its breeding season is in 
April or May. From six to nine young are brought forth at 
a litter, and are reared in holes or among rocks, till they are 
large enoutrh to shift for themselves. 

These animals are taken in traps set at the mouths of their 
holes or in the fields where they search for food. The trap 
should be covered with loose earth or soft vegetable substances, 
and should be baited with small pieces of meat scattered 
around it. They are not cunning, and require no great skill 
in taking them. The great difficulty in trapping for them or 
meddling with them in any way is in the liability of catching 
a charge of their perfumery, which is very disagreeable, and 
ruins all clothing that is once impregnated with it. This 
offensive essence is ejected from two glands near the anus by 
the contraction of the muscular coverings, and the only way 
that I know to prevent the discharge is to approach the animal 
in the trap stealthily, and give it a smart blow with a club 
across the back near the tail, which will paralyze the ejecting 
muscles. But this expedient is not always available, as the 
animal sometimes takes the trap for a living enemy and dis- 
charges when first taken. One thing, however, is in its favor,, 
namely, it is very neat in its personal habits, rarely allowing 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 69 

its own fur to be soiled with its offensive secretions ; so that 
if you can get away its skin without being overwhehned your- 
self by its perfumery, your spoil is likely to be as clean and 
saleable as in the case of any other animal. 

[We are indebted to an old Connecticut trapper, Mr. H. 
Mansfield, for the following valuable addition to Mr. New- 
house's article on the Skunk. — Editors.] 

" In summer Skunks can be taken in great numbers by the follow- 
ing method : Find a place where they travel from their holes to a 
hen-coop or through a corn-field. Make a path for them by tread- 
ing down the grass, and set up sticks along on each side to guide them 
more surely. Set traps at intervals, and strew pieces of meat or 
dead mice before and behind each trap. A whole family of Skunks 
will walk down this path, the old ones heading the procession ; and 
as one after another is caught, those behind will climb over and 
pass on, till all are taken. I have caught in this way two old ones 
and eight young ones in one path on a single evening. They seldom 
discharge when first caught ; and can be prevented from doing so at 
all, either by a blow on the back, or by boldly seizing the parts 
where the offensive secretion lies with one hand, and piercing the 
throat with a knife in the other. 

" In winter my method is to track them to their holes and dig 
them out. They are obliged to go to some stream for water every 
day, and when there is snow, they can easily be tracked back to 
their burrows. In digging them out, I prevent them from using 
their terrible weapon by carefully uncovering only one at a time, 
and only the head of each at first, filhng in and even ' tamping ' 
the dirt around the body, till I can despatch them in succession by 
opening the jugular vein. 

" The surest way to take Skulks without bad consequences is by 
the snare and spring-pole. 

" With all the precaution that can be taken, the trapper's clothes 
will sometimes be sprinkled ; and there will be more or less scent 
about the skins. The best way to cleanse articles in this condition 
is to hold them over a fire of red-cedar boughs, and afterwards 
sprinkle them with chloride of lime." 



70 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 



THE COYPU RAT. 

The Coypu Rat, or Racoonda, as it is sometimes called, 
furnishes the fur known in commerce as Nutria. But one 
species is known, which is a native of South America, and is 
found in great numbers in the La Plata region. In general 
appearance and character it resembles the beaver. Its tail, 
however, instead of being flattened, is long, round, and rat- 
like. Its favorite haunts are the lagoons of the plains or 
pampas, and the banks of rivers and streams. Its fur is 
short, fine, silky, similar to that of the beaver, and light 
brown in color. Overlying the fur are long hairs of a brown- 
ish yellow color. The fur is heaviest and best on the belly. 
It is used for the same purpose as that of the beaver, in the 
manufacture of hats and caps. The Coypu is about two feet 
long exclusive of tail, which is about fifteen inches in length. 
It is very prolific, the female producing six or seven at a birth. 
They feed on vegetables, are quite gentle in their character, 
and easily tamed. They inhabit South America on both sides 
of the Andes : on the east, from Peru to forty-three degrees 
south latitude ; on the west, from Central Chili to Terra del 
Fuego. They are also found in the small bays and channels 
of the archipelagos along the coast. They are burrowing 
animals, and form their habitations in the banks of lakes and 
streams. They are nocturnal in their habits, and seem to be 
equally at home in fresh or salt water. 

The Coypu is usually hunted with dogs, and is easily cap- 
tured. It is, however, a bold animal, and fights fiercely with 
the dog employed in pursuing it. We cannot learn that any 
attempt has been made to take them by the steel-trap, but 
this would no doubt prove the best and easiest method of cap- 
ture. Their habits resemble those of the beaver and muskrat, 
and they should be trapped on the same general principles. 
Great numbers of the skins of this animal are annually ex- 
ported. In some seasons the number has been over three 
millions, constituting an important branch of the fur- trade. 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 71 



THE CHINCHILLA. 

The most delicate and silken of all furs is that produced by 
the Chinchilla. This animal is found in South America, along 
the Andean region from Chili to Peru. It burrows in the 
valleys which intersect the hilly slopes, and collects together in 
great numbers in certain favored localities. It belongs to the 
group of animals called Jerhoidoe^ which are characterized bv 
great comparative length of the hind legs. It is a small 
animal, measuring only about fourteen or fifteen inches in 
total length, of which the tail forms about one third. They 
are very prolific, the female bringing forth five or six twice a 
year. Their food is exclusively vegetable, consisting mostly 
of bulbous roots. They are very cleanly in all their habits. 
The fur of the Chinchilla is long ; its color is a delicate clear 
gray upon the back, softening into a grayish white on the 
under portions ; and its texture is wonderfully soft and fine. 
It is used for muffs, tippets, linings to cloaks and pelisses, and 
trimmings. The skins which are obtained in Chili are the 
best. Great numbers of Chinchillas are caught in the vicinity 
of Coquimbo and Copiapo. They are usually hunted with 
dogs by boys. The true method is to take them at the mouth 
of their burrows with a small steel rat-trap. 

THE SQUIRREL. 

The American varieties of the Squirrel do not produce fur 
of much value, and are of little importance in the fur-trade. 
They are generally taken only for food or as nuisances. The 
European variety, however, is much more valuable, and its 
skins are brought into the fur-markets of Europe by the mill- 
ion. They are spread over all the north of Europe and Asia. 
Those of Russia and Siberia produce the finest and hand- 
somest fur. This kind is a small Squirrel with tufted ears 
and a beautiful gray coat. 

For taking Squirrels, the trap should be set on the top rail 
of a fence near a wood that they frequent. A pole, with an 
ear of corn or some other favorite squirrel-food fastened to 
the end of it, should be set up by the side of the fence, lean- 



<2 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

ing in such a position as to bring the bait over the trap at the 
lieight of six or eiglit inches. In reaching for the bait the 
SquirreJ gets into the trap. 

To give a complete view of the business of trapping, sev- 
eral less valuable animals should be briefly noticed, not as fur- 
bearing, but as legitimate subjects of the trapper's art. 

THE WOODCHUCK OR MARMOT. 

Marmots are burrowing animals. There are a number of 
species, and they are found on both Continents. In this 
country, they are commonly called Woodchucks. The cu- 
rious Prairie Dog of the Western plains is aUied to the Mar- 
mot. This latter animal lives in villages from a few acres to 
several miles in extent, in the country bordering on the 
Arkansas and Missouri Rivers, and their tributaries. The 
entrance to their burrows is in the summit or side of a small 
mound of earth, somewhat elevated, but seldom more than 
eighteen inches high. In pleasant weather, they may be seen 
sporting about the entrance of their burrows ; and five or six 
individuals may be sometimes seen sitting on a single mound. 
They make a noise somewhat like the barking of a dog, 
whence their name, Prairie Dog. When alarmed, they re- 
treat at once into their holes. The skin of the common 
Woodchuck is valuable for whip-lashes, and its fur even is 
not despised by rustics. All kinds of Marmots may be taken 
by setting steel-traps, completely covered and without bait, at 
the mouth of their holes. 

THE GOPHER. 

This animal, called also the Canada Pouched Rat, inhabits 
the prairie region west of the Mississippi. It is a burrowing 
animal, and lives on roots and vegetables. Its body is firmly 
built, about nine inches long, with a short tail and legs, the 
latter armed with long claws for digging. The head and neck 
are relatively large, and the mouth has four broad long in- 
cisors, two on each jaw, adapted to cutting roots. On the 
sides of the face and neck, extending back to the shoulders, 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 



73 



are large pouches, in which to carry earth, food, &c. The 
Gopher digs paths or galleries of an oval form, several inches 
in diameter, a short distance below the surface, coming to the 
surface once in about a rod, where the excavated earth is de- 
posited in little hillocks. These galleries ramify in all direc- 
tions. When the animal has brought to the surface in one 
place as much earth as its sense of economy dictates, it closes 
up the hole, and begins a new deposit further on, so that noth- 




The Gopher and its Burrow. 



ing remains but a neat little mound of earth, large enough to 
fill a half bushel, more or less. Gophers are great pests to 
the western farmers, injuring and destroying the roots of their 
crops, and infesting their fields and gardens. They may be 
trapped in the following manner : Carefully cut away a 
square section of sod on a line between the two most recent 
deposits. On finding the gallery, excavate down till a trap 
will set on a kvel with the bottom of the passage. Place the 
trap there ; then lay a piece of board or shingle across the ex- 



74 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

cavation, just above the passage, and replace the sod. The 
Gopher while at work will run into the trap and be taken. 

THE RAT. 

This pest of all countries may be taken in any or all of the 
following ways : 1. Set your trap in a pan of meal or bran ; 
cover it with meal and set the pan near the run-ways of the 
Rats ; or, 2, set the trap in a path at the mouth of a Rat's hole, 
with a piece of thin brown paper or cloth spread smoothly 
over it ; or, 3, make a run-way for the Rats by placing a box, 
barrel, or board near a wall, leaving room for them to pass, 
and set the trap in the passage, covered as before. In all 
cases, the trap should be thoroughly smoked over a fire or 
heated over a stove before it is set, and at every re-setting ; 
but care should be taken not to overheat the trap so as to 
draw the temper of the spring. Also the position of the trap 
should be frequently changed. 

To conclude these instructions for capturing animals, I will 
introduce the trapper to one or two of a larger and nobler 
family, which he will find well worthy of his attention, not 
for their skins or furs (though these are valuable), but for 
their flesh, which, in his more distant and adventurous excur- 
sions, will often be the only resource of his commissariat. 
The soldier must look out, not only for his means of fighting, 
but for his means of living — for his larder as well as for his 
enemy — and happily I can show the soldiers of the trap how 
to supply themselves with food by the same weapons that they 
use in taking animals for their furs. 

THE DEER. 

This family of ruminating animals embraces a great variety 
of species, ranging in size from the Pigmy Musk-Deer of Java, 
which is not larger than a hare and weighs only five or six 
pounds, to the gigantic Moose-Deer of America, whose height 
is seven or eight feet and its weight twelve hundred pounds. 
But the species with which American trappers are most prac- 
tically concerned, are the common Red or Virginia Deer, and 



CAPTURE OF A^^IMALS. 75 

the Black-Tailed Deer of the recrion west of the Missis- 
sippi. These species differ but little in habits and general 
characteristics, and a description of the Virginia Deer is suf- 
ficient for the purposes of the trapper. The Virginia Deer 
are found in nearly all the States of the Union east of the 
Rocky Mountains, and abound in both provinces of Canada. 
They are gregarious in their habits, though frequently seen 
alone. Their food in summer consists of twigs, grass, berries, 
nuts, roots, acorns, persimmons, &c., and at that season they 
frequent rivers and lakes to feed on water-plants, as well as 
for the purpose of freeing themselves from insect pests. 
They are also fond of visiting the pioneer's clearing and 
appropriating his wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, turnips and cab- 
bages. In winter they retire to the elevated ridges, where 
maple and other hard-wood trees abound, the bark, twigs 
and branches of which are at that season their chief support. 
They form " yards" by trampling down the deep snows, and 
live together in large herds, numbering sometimes thirty ani- 
mals in a single " yard." These inclosures are enlarged 
from time to time as the Deer require more trees for browsing. 
Wolves and panthers are their most formidable enemies — al- 
ways excepting man. Packs of wolves frequently attack 
them in their " yards," and sometimes when the snow is 
deep and crusted over, whole herds are destroyed. Wolves 
sometimes pursue a single Deer with the " long chase." In 
suAmer a Deer thus pursued generally takes to the water, 
and so baffles his pursuers ; but in winter when the streams 
and lakes are frozen over, he rarely escapes. Panthers take 
Deer by crawling within springing distance of them in their 
" yards '' or elsewhere, or by watching and pouncing on them 
from some cliff or tree, as they pass below. 

The methods by which men take Deer are various. They 
are sometimes driven by dogs into rivers or lakes, and are 
then overtaken and dispatched by the hunter in his canoe. A 
favorite method is to shoot them at night at the places by the 
water-side, where they resort to feed on aquatic plants and re- 
lieve themselves of insects. For this purpose the hunter pre- 
pares himself with a boat, gun, and lamp. The light is set on 



76 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

the bow of the boat, so that it will shine on the forward sight 
of the gun, and at the same time conceal by its glare the hun- 
ter crouching behind. With muffled oar the boat approaches 
the game. The reflected gleams from the eyes of the Deer be- 
tray his position to the hunter. If no noise is made the victim 
will stand and gaze at the light until it is within a few yards, 
and so give a sure opportunity for the fatal shot. Many are 
taken in this way in the early autumn ; and later in the sea- 
son, when snow first comes, many more are taken by the " still 
hunt," either by following on their trail, or by watching at 
their run-ways. 

The steel-trap, it must be confessed, is not much used for 
taking Deer ; and I am not sure but that this use of it is re- 
garded by sportsmen as somewhat barbarous. But all the 
ways of deceiving and killing these noble animals seem to be 
open to the same objection ; and the necessities of the trapper 
often forbid him to be very particular as to the means of fur- 
nishing himself with food. There are times when the trap is 
the best, and even the only, available means of taking Deer ; 
for instance, when the trapper is without his rifle, or has ex- 
hausted his ammunition, and finds himself in the far wilder- 
ness without food. In such circumstances, he might starve if 
he could not betake himself to his traps for supply. And even 
Avhen rifle and ammunition are at hand, sometimes in dry 
weather (technically called a " noisy time ") every thing is so 
crisp and crackling under foot, that it is impossible to ap- 
proach the Deer within shooting distance. I therefore rec- 
ommend to practical woodsmen to learn how to take Deer in 
traps, and not be over-scrupulous in doing so when occasion 
requires. 

For taking Deer the trap must be a strong one, and the jaws 

should be spiked, and 
so shaped and adjusted 
I that when sprung they 
will remain open about 
half an inch, to pre- 
Deer Trap. yent breaking the bone. 

The trap should be placed in the path of the deer where it 




wviv '$??'^r''^ 




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V-^v^- 



f > -^ ^'^^r' 



CAPTURE OF ANIMALS. 77 

crosses a stream or enters a lake ; and it should be set under 
water and concealed by some covering. If it is as heavy as 
it ought to be (say of three or four pounds' weight), it should 
not be fastened at all or even clogged ; as the animal is very 
active and violent when taken, and will be sure to break loose 
by tearing off a limb* or smashing the trap, if his motions are 
much impeded. If the trap is left loose, the Deer, when 
caught, will make a few desperate plunges and then lie down ; 
and will seldom be found more than ten or fifteen rods from 
where he was taken. When the hunter approaches he will 
make a few more plunges, but can easily be dispatched. 

Mr. Gunter, the Canada trapper, whom I have heretofore 
quoted, gives the following directions for trapping Deer in 
winter : — 

" Fell a mapie or bass-wood tree near where the Deer haunt. 
These trees furnish their favorite browse. Make a small hole in 
the snow, close to the top of the tree. Set your trap, lower it into 
the hole and shove it to one side, eighteen or twenty inches, through 
the snow. Finally take some deer-scent, obtained from the glands 
on the hind legs of a Deer, and which has a very strong odor, and rub 
it on your trap. This done, when the Deer come to feed on the 
twigs of the fallen tree, you will be pretty sure to take one." 

THE MOOSE. 

This is the largest kind of deer, and its habits are in many 
respects like those of the common deer. It is more confined, 
however, to the snowy regions of the North. It is found 
throughout the greater part of British America, ranging as 
far north as the Arctic Sea. In the United States, it is found 
in Maine, Northern New York, Oregon, and Washington 
Territory. On the Eastern Continent, it is found throughout 
the northern parts of Europe and Asia. Its favorite haunts 
are the hard-wood lands. In general color, it is yellowish- 
brown or ashy-gray. The hair in summer is short and soft, 
and long and coarse in winter. The full-grown Moose weighs 
from eight hundred to fifteen hundred pounds, and stands 
seven and even eight feet high. Its horns have an expanse 
of nearly six feet between the tips, and a palm or spade on 



78 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

each, of a foot in widtli, and weigh from forty-five to seventy 
pounds. Under tlie throat of both sexes there is a tuft of 
coarse, bristly hair, a foot or more in length, attached to a 
sort of dewlap. The breeding season of the Moose is in May. 
At the first birth, but a single one is brought forth ; after- 
wards two are brought forth annually. Moose, like the com- 
mon deer, frequent rivers and lakes in summer, to feed on the 
roots of the water-lily and other aquatic plants ; and retire in 
winter to the high ridges, to browse on the twigs of the striped 
maple and birch. Their height enables them to crop the 
overhanging branches of large trees ; and their weight and 
strength enable them to bend down small trees and slide over 
them with their bodies, stripping the bark and twigs to the 
very extremities. Like the common deer, they form "yards" 
by treading down the snows, and enlarge them as fast as they 
strip the trees and require more. In these '^ yards " there are 
commonly found a male, female, and two fawns. 

Moose are taken in winter by the " long chase " on snow- 
shoes, and in summer they are shot at their feeding-places in 
marshes. They are, however, very wary and timid ; and 
their sense of smelhng is so acute that the greatest caution 
is necessary on the part of the hunter in approaching them. 
The males in the rutting season are very dangerous, and will 
attack, and if possible kill, any persons who approach them. 
Moose can easily be taken either in summer or winter by set- 
ting steel-traps in their haunts, as they are not cunning, and 
enter a trap as readily as an ox or a horse. The trap should 
be a strong one of about forty pounds' w^eight, and it should 
be fastened to a clog of sixty pounds' weight. 

The flesh of the Moose is much esteemed by hunters and 
trappers, being generally preferred to that of the common 
deer. The marrow in the large bones is an excellent substi- 
tute for butter.- 



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si ^W: 



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Moose-Yard. 



III. CURING SKINS. 

However successful a trapper may be in taking animals, 
he will not secure a full reward for his labor unless he knows 
how to take care of their skins, and prepare them for market 
in such a manner that they will command the highest prices. 
As skins that have been riddled with shot find little favor with 
fur-dealers, so skins that have been cut in stripping off, or that 
are encumbered with remnants of flesh, or that have passed 
into a state of incipient putrefaction before drying, or that 
have not been properly stretched, or that have been dried too 
fast, or that have been neglected and exposed after being 
cured, are very sure to be thrown out by the fur-inspector as 
second or third rate skins, deserving only poor prices. Great 
quantities of valuable furs, taken by boys and inexperienced 
trappers, are rendered almost worthless by bad treatment in 
some of the processes of preservation. I shall give such in- 
formation on this part of the trapper's business as I have ob- 
tained, both from my own experience and from conversation 
with fur-dealers. 

GENERAL RULES. 

1. Be careful to visit your traps often enough, so that the 
skins will not have time to get tainted. 

2. As soon as possible after an animal is dead and dry, 
attend to the skinning and curing. 

3. Scrape off all superfluous flesh and fat, but be careful 
not to go so deep as to cut the fibre of the skin. 

4. Never dry a skin by the fire or in the sun, but in a cool, 
shady place, sheltered from rain. If you use a barn door for 
a stretcher (as boys sometimes do), nail the skin on the inside 
of the door. 

5. Never use " preparations " of any kind in curing skins, 
nor even wash them in water, but simply stretch and dry 
them as they are taken from the animal. 



80 



THE TRAPPER'S ART. 



STRETCHING SKINS. 

In drying skins, it is important that they should be stretched 
tight, like a strained drum-head. This can be done after a 
fashion by simply nailing them flat on a wide board or a barn 
door. But this method, besides being impracticable on the 
large scale in the woods (where most skins have to be cured), 
is objectionable because it exposes only one side of the pelt to 
the air. The stretchers that are generally approved and used 
by good trappers are of three kinds, adapted to 
the skins of different classes of animals. I shall 
call them the hoard-stretcher^ the how-stretcher, 
and the hoop-stretcher., and will describe them, 
indicatincT the different animals to which each is 
adapted. 

THE BOARD-STRETCHER. 

This contrivance is made in the following man- 
ner : Prepare a board of bass-wood or other light 
material, two feet three inches long, three inches 
and a half wide at one end, and two inches and 
an eighth at the other, and three eighths of an 
inch thick. Chamfer it from the centre to the 
sides almost to an edge. Round and chamfer the 
small end about an inch up on the sides. Split 
this board through the centre with a knife or saw. 
Finally, prepare a wedge of the same length and 
thickness, one inch wide at the large end, and 
tapering to three eighths of an inch at the small 
end, to be driven between the halves of the 
board. This is a stretcher suitable for a mink 
or a marten. Two larger sizes, with similar pro- 
portions, are required for the larger animals. The 
largest size, suitable for the full-grown otter or 
wolf, should be five feet and a half long, seven 
inches wide at the large end when fully spread 
by the wedge, and six inches at the small end. 
Board-stretcher. An intermediate size is required for the fisher, 
raccoon, fox, and some other animals, the proportions of which 
can be easily figured out. 



CURING SKINS. 81 

These stretchers requh-e that the skin of the animal should 
not be ripped through the belly, but should be stripped ofF 
whole. This is done in the following manner : Commence 
with the knife at the hind-feet, and slit down to the vent. 
Cut around the vent, and strip the skin from the bone of the 
tail with the help of the thumb-nail or a split stick. Make 
no other slits in the skin, except in the case of the otter, 
whose tail requires to be split, spread, and tacked on to the 
board. Peel the skin from the body by drawing it over itself, 
leaving the fur-side inward. In this condition the skin should 
be drawn on to the split board (with the back on one side and 
the belly on the other) to its utmost length, and fastened with 
tacks or by notches cut in the edge of the board, and then the 
wedge should be driven between the two halves. Finally, 
make all fast by a tack at the root of the tail, and another on 
the opposite side. The skin is then stretched to its utmost 
capacity, as a boot-leg is stretched by the shoemaker's " tree," 
and it may be hung away in the proper place, by a hole in 
one end of the stretcher, and left to dry. 

A modification of this kind of stretcher, often used in cur- 
ing the skins of the muskrat and other small animals, is a 
simple board, without split or wedge, three sixteenths of an 
inch thick, twenty inches long, six inches wide at the large 
end, and tapering to five and a half inches at six inches from 
the small end, chamfered and rounded as in the other cases. 




Muskrat-Stretcher. 

The animal should be skinned as before directed, and the skin 
drawn tightly on to the board, and fastened with about four 
tacks. Sets of these boards, sufficient for a muskrat cam- 
paign, can easily be made and transported. They are very 
light and take up but little room in packing, thirty-two of 
them making but six inches in thickness. 



82 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 



THE BOW-STRETCHER. 

The most common way of treating the muskrat is to cut 
off its feet with a hatchet ; and rip with a knife from between 
the two teeth in the lower jaw, down the belly, about two 
inches below where the fore-legs come out. Then the skin 
is started by cutting around the lips, eyes, and ears, and is 
stripped over the body, with the fur-side inward. Finally a 
stick of birch, water-beech, iron-wood, hickory, or elm, an 
inch in diameter at the butt, and three feet and a half long, is 
bent into the shape of an ox-bow and shoved into the skin, 
which is drawn tight, and fastened by splitting down a sliver 
in the bow, and drawing the skin of the lip into it. 

This method is too common to be easily abolished, and is 
tolerable when circumstances make it necessary ; but the for- 
mer method of stretching by a tapering board, in the case of 
muskrats as well as other small animals, is much the best. 
Skins ^treated in that way keep their proper shape, and pack 
better than those stretched on bow^s, and in the long run 
boards are more economical than bows, as a set of them can 
be used many times, and will last several years ; whereas bows 
are seldom used more than once, being generally broken in 
taking out. 

THE HOOP-STRETCHBR. 

The skins of large animals, such as the beaver and the bear, 
are best dried by spreading them, at fuH size, in a hoop. For 
this purpose, a stick of hickory or other flexible wood should 
be cut, long enough to entirely surround the skin when bent. 
(If a single stick long enough is not at hand, two smaller ones 
can be spliced together.) The ends should be brought around, 
lapped, and tied with a string or a withe of bark. The skin 
should be taken from the animal by ripping from the lower 
front teeth to the vent, and peeling around the lips, eyes, and 
ears, but without ripping up the legs. It should then be 
placed inside the hoop and fastened at opposite sides, with 
twine or bark, till all loose parts are taken up, and the whole 
stretched so that it is nearly round and as tight as a drum- 



CURING SKINS. 83 

head. When it is dry it may be taken from the hoop, and is 
ready for packing and transportation. 

This is the proper method of treating the skin of the deer. 
Some prefer it for the wolf and raccoon. In many cases the 
trapper may take his choice between the hoop and the board 
method. One or the other of these methods will be found 
satisfactory for curing all kinds of skins. 



IV. LIFE IN THE WOODS. 

[The outfit for campaigning in the woods proposed by Mr. Newhouse m 
the following chapter may seem rather elaborate and luxurious, adapted 
perhaps better to amateur sportsmen than to the " rough and ready " fol- 
lowers of the trap. But it is best to encourage and help forward as far 
as possible good civilized living, even in wild places. Those who prefer a 
freer and less expensive style of outfit can leave Mr. Newhouse and take 
lessons of the older trapper, John Hutchins, or of Mr. Gunter, both of 
whose programmes are given further on, and are simple enough for the 
hardiest. — Editors.] 

The great question, after all, for the trapper as well as for 
the soldier, is, how to live and keep himself comfortable while 
he carries on the war. He requires in some respects even 
more than a soldier's courage, for he is to encounter the hard- 
ships of camp-life alone^ or with but one or two companions, 
and without a baggage-train to bring up provisions at every 
halt.' The very first article of outfit that he should equip 
himself with, I should say, would be a firm trust in Provi- 
dence. But as Cromwell told his soldiers to " trust God and 
keep their powder dry," so the trapper will need to provide 
some things for himself, while he trusts Providence. I will 
therefore tell him as well as I can, how I equip myself for life 
in the woods. 

OUTFIT FOR A CAMPAIGN ON FOOT. 

If the region in which you propose to trap cannot be reached 
by boat or wagon, you must be content with such necessaries 
as you can carry on your person. A trapper on foot should 
not tire himself with long stifF-legged boots, but should vi^ear 
short half-boots (with soles well nailed), fitting snugly above 
and around the ankle. His pants should be gray woolen, 
closely fitting below the knee, but roomy above. His coat 
should be of the same material and color, with plenty of 




Mix. IS'kwhouse\s Tent and Stove. 



LIFE m THE WOODS. 



85 



pocket-room. His hat should be of soft felt, gray, and with a 
moderate brim. He should carry a " change " of woolen 
drawers, wrappers, shirts, and stockings. A towel with soap, 
a night-cap, and a blanket, or, what is better, a Canton-flannel 
bag to sleep in, will complete his personal equipments. Then 
he must carry for shelter a small tent, made of firm cotton- 
drilling, weighing not more than two pounds and a half; 




Shelter Tent. 

for subsistence, a double-barrelled gun (rifle and shot), weigh- 
ing seven or eight pounds, with ammunition, and fishing- 
tackle ; and, for all sorts of purposes, an axe of two and a 
half pounds (with a good length of handle), and plenty of 
tacks and nails. For cooking and table service he must carry 
a frying-pan, a camp-kettle, a hunting-knife, some knives and 
forks, spoons of two sizes, a few tin pressed plates and basins, 
and a drinking-cup. Above all, he must not forget to take a 
good supply of matches and a pocket-compass. These neces- 
saries (exclusive of clothing) will weigh, according to my reck- 
oning, about twenty-five pounds. The rest of his load must 
be made up of traps and provisions. If he is stout enough 
to undertake trapping on foot, he ought to be able to travel 
with about fifty pounds. He may take then five pounds of 
provisions and twenty pounds of traps, or any other propor- 
tion of these articles that will make up the remaining twenty- 



86 THK TRAPPER'S ART. 

five pounds. His provisions should consist of articles tliat will 
be desirable as accompaniments to the produce of his gun and 
fishing-tackle, namely, sugar, tea and coffee (rather than 
whiskey), salt, pepper, butter, lard, sifted Indian meal, white 
beans, crackers, &c. The butter and lard should be put up 
in air-tight cans, and on arrival at the trapping grounds should 
be sunk in a spring. The best kind of knapsack for carrying 
such an outfit is made of rubber-cloth, with shoulder-straps ; 
but you can easily convert your sleeping-bag or your blanket 
into a knapsack that will serve very well.* If you traj) with 
one companion or more (which is a good plan and according to 
the general practice), many of the articles named in the above 
list will answer for the party, and so the load for individuals 
will be lightened. Thus equipped, you can turn your back 
on the haunts of men, march into the wilderness, and, with a 
little hunting knd fishing in the intervals of trai)-duty, live 
pleasantly for months, and return with your load of furs, a 
stouter and healthier man than when you started. 

OUTFIT FOR AN EXCURSION BY WAGON OR BOAT. 

If your trapping district can be reached by road or by 
water, some changes should be made in the foregoing inven- 
tory. For the interest of your larder it will be best to take 
more ammunition, and a greater variety of fishing-tackle. A 
lamp and lantern, with a supply of oil, a camp-hatchet of 
twelve ounces in weight with a fourteen-inch handle, a stone 
for sharpening knives, axes, and hooks, a magazine of needles, 
thread, scissors, &c., and many other like conveniences, may 

* One of the most satisfactory arrangements we have ever seen for carrying lug- 
gage on the back is the Indian shoulder-basket. They are made nearly square, or 
about ten inches by twelve, at the bottom, and twelve or fourteen inches high. One 
side is flat, the others are rounded and drawn in toward the top, making the mouth 
of the basket only about half the size of the bottom. Over the mouth, and extend- 
ing some distance down the sides, a cover of rubber or enamel-cloth should be fitted. 
On the flat side of the basket shoulder-straps are fastened, crossing each other in the 
form of an X. These straps should be made of two thicknesses of strong cotton 
cloth, sewed together and stuffed with cotton. The great advantages of this basket 
are, that it is light, easily managed, fits the back well, bringing the load just where 
it is wanted, does not get out of place, and does not heat the back like a close-fitting 
knapsack. Combined with the basket the trapper needs a small enanvel-cloth. hav- 
ersack such as is worn by soldiers. — Editors. 



LIFE IN THE WOODS. 87 

be stowed away in tlie orld corners of your luggage. You 
may also carry more clothing and more provisions, such as 
potatoes, and ought certainly to take along at least one hun- 
dred and fifty traps of different sizes, and a good set of hoard- 
stretchers for curing skins. 

TENT. 

In the place of the light lialf-tent recommended for a (cam- 
paign on foot, you should take a n^giilar A tent of (;ig}it or 
nine pounds' weight, house-shaped, and Imttoning up in front. 
This should he dipped two or three times in a solution [>re- 
pared by mixing equal parts of sugar of lead and alum In a 
pailful of milk-warm water. This treatment will render the 
tent almost impervious to rain, and will protect it from the* 
sparks of fire that will occasionally be blown upon it. Inst/.-ad 
of a ridge-pole and two forked stakes for supporting it, all you 
need is a cord tliirty or forty feet long, to be drawn tlirougli 
tfie ridge of tlie tent, fastened to it abrjut midway, and tierl 
at the ends to two trees at the proper heiglit. The sides 
should \x', drawn down tight and fastened by fiooks driven 
into the ground. 

STOVE AM) FURMTURK. 

A much needed convenience for life in tlie woods is a stove 
with its furniture, that shall on the one hand afford all neces- 
sary facilities for cooking and warming, and on the other shall 
take up the least possible room in packing. Having devoted 
considerable study to this matter, I flatter myself that I can 
put the ingenious trapper in a way to make or procure the 
exact article that he wants. Your stove should be made of 
sheet-iron, and should be twenty-seven inches long, ten inches 
wide, and eight inches deep, having on the top two eight-inch 
lioles for boilers and one four-inch hole for the smoke-pipe. 
Ten feet of pipe will }je sufficient, and this can }j<: made in 
five joint* of two feet each, tapering in the wliole lengtii from 
four inches in diameter to tliree, so that the joints will slip 
into each other and the v/}joIe can be packed for transporta- 
tion inside the stove. For an outlet of the pipe tlirough the 



88 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

roof of the tent, there sliould be a piece of tin, ten inches 
square, with an oblong hole, to be fastened at the proper 
place on the roof by means of lappels. The furniture of the 
stove should be two dripping-pans of Russia iron ; one thir- 
teen inches long, nine inches wide, and an inch and a quarter 
deep ; the other enough smaller to pack inside the first ; a 
kettle, also of Russia iron, nine inches across the top, seven 
inches and a half deep, and six inches and a half across the 
bottom ; and two or three tin pails and several basins, all 
made in a diminishing series, so that they will slip into each 
other, and all into the iron kettle. The kettle and pails match 
the holes in the top of the stove, and when used in cooking 
tea, coffee, &c., should be covered with tin pressed plates. 
The whole of this furniture can be packed with the pipe in 
the stove. For supporting the stove in the tent, prepare four 
posts eighteen inches long, made of three-eighths inch iron 
rod, sharpened at one end, flattened at the other and fash- 
ioned like a small tenon. Two pieces of band-iron should 
then be made just long enough to reach across the bottom of 
the stove and receive the tenons of the posts into holes drilled 
in each end. Then, to set up your stove, drive the posts into 
the ground, adjust the cross-pieces to their places, and place 
the stove on the cross-pieces. Small depressions should be 
filed in the edge of the stove-bottom, to fit the ends of the 
tenons, above the cross-pieces, so as to prevent the stove from 
moving from its position. Your tent is large enough to ac- 
commodate any number of persons from two to six ; and your 
stove will warm them and do their cooking, with an amount 
of fuel that will be a mere trifle compared with what is re- 
quired for an open fire. It has the advantage also of giving 
a quick heat, and, with a damper, will keep fire all night. 

BED AND BEDDING. 

Good sleeping accommodations can be provided in the fol- 
lowing manner : Take two pieces of sacking or other coarse 
cloth, six and a half feet long and two feet and three quarters 
wide, and sew them firmly together at the sides, making a bag 
with both ends open. Cut two poles, each seven feet long 



LIFE m THE WOODS. 89 

and two inches in diameter, and run them through the bag, 
resting the ends in notches on two logs placed parallel to each 
other at the proper distance apart. The notches should be 
so far apart that the poles will tightly stretch the bag. Four 
forked stakes, if more convenient, may be substituted for the 
logs and driven into the ground so as to receive the ends of 
the poles and stretch the sacking. The space in the bag be- 
tween the poles should be filled with dry grass, leaves, ever- 
green boughs, or moss, which w^ill give it the warmth and 
softness of a straw bed. By this arrangement you have an 
extempore bedstead, raising you above the cold, damp ground, 
and a bed as good as the best. For bed-clothes, the best con- 
trivance is a bag made of wide, firm Canton flannel, six and 
a half feet- long, open at one end. Let the tired hunter insert 
himself in this bag feet foremost, and he will need no " tuck- 
ing up " to keep him comfortable even on the. ground or in 
the snow ; and if he is fortunate enough to be perched on 
such a bed as is above described, in a tent well buttoned up, 
with a friendly stove at his feet, the cry of the loon, the howl 
of the wolf, or the scream of the panther, will hardly disturb 
his slumbers.* 

CAMP-CHEST. 

A chest made of light materials, two feet nine inches in 
length, eighteen inches in width, and fourteen inches in depth 

— not larger than an ordinary trunk — will hold in trans- 
portation the stove with its pipe and all its furniture, the bed 
and bedding, the tent and all its rigging, and in fact nearly 
the whole outfit that has been described. The cover of the 
chest should be made of two thicknesses of boards, five eighths 
of an inch thick, with double hinges, so that the upper lid can 
be turned back separately, and form with the other lid a good 
table. 

COOKING. 

It will not be expected that the trapper's larder wull be sup- 
plied with all the varieties and luxuries that can be found at 
the St. Nicholas, or at a Saratoga hotel. But it will always 

* For a winter campaign, we would recommend the addition of a woolen blanket. 

— Editors. 



90 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

be a satisfaction to know that flesh, fish, and fowl are fresh 
from their native elements, and have not hung in the market 
two or three weeks before coming on the table. 

The ways of cooking in camp are as various as in the 
kitchen at home. Fresh fish can be fried in butter, lard, or 
the fat of the deer ; or they can be boiled, or broiled and but- 
tered. Venison can be fried, or broiled in cutlets, or roasted 
before a camp-fire in joints, or stewed a la fricassee^ or boiled 
into soup with potatoes. Squirrels, ducks^ partridges, wood- 
cock, quails, pigeons, prairie fowls, and any other game that 
comes to hand, can be fried, broiled, or boiled as well in the 
woods as in the best hotel. 

The very best way of cooking fish and fowl ever devised is 
familiar to woodsmen, but unknown to city epicures. It is 
this : Take a large fish — say a trout of three or four pounds, 
fresh from its gambols in the cool stream — cut a small hole 
at the neck and abstract the intestines. Wash the inside 
clean, and season it with pepper and salt ; or if convenient, 
fill it with stuffing made of bread-crumbs or crackers chopped 
up with meat. Make a fire outside the tent, and when it has 
burned down to embers, rake it open, put in the fish, and 
cover it with the coals and hot ashes. 'Within an hour take 
it from its bed, peel off" the skin from the clean flesh, and you 
will have a trout with all its original juices and flavors pre- 
served within it ; a dish too good, as Izaak Walton would say, 
" for any but very honest men." 

Grouse, ducks, and various other fowls can be cooked de- 
liciously in a similar way. The intestines of the bird should 
be taken out by a small hole at the vent, and the inside 
washed and stuffed as before. Then wet the feathers thor- 
oughly, and cover with hot embers. When the cooking is 
finished, peel off" the burnt feathers and skin, and you will find 
underneath a lump of nice juicy flesh, which, when once 
tasted, will never be forgotten. The peculiar advantage of 
this method of roasting is that the covering of embers pre- 
vents the escape of the juices by evaporation. 

Everybody knows how to cook potatoes and make tea and 
coffee, and anybody fit for a trapper must " know beans," and 



LIFE IN THE WOODS. 91 

how to cook them. But bread ! asks the novice ; what are 
we to do for bread ? Well, we have good, sifted Indian meal, 
and we will put some into a basin or pail, add a little salt, pour 
on scalding water, and mix to the consistency of stiiF batter. 
After our venison or fish is cooked, we will put this batter 
into the hot fat that remains, a spoonful in a place, leveling it 
down smoothly, and turning it over till it is " done brown." 
Such a Johnnycake, served up with butter and sugar, would 
tempt a man to leave the best wheat bread that ever was 
made. 

JERKED MEAT. 

If you have the fortune to kill a deer or a moose in warm 
weather, and have an over-supply of meat that is likely to be 
tainted, you can preserve it by the following process : Cut all 
the flesh from the bones in thin strips, and place them, for 
convenience, on the inside of the hide. Add two or three 
quarts of salt for a moose, and a pint and a half for a deer, well 
worked in. Cover the whole with the sides and corners of 
the hide to keep out flies, and let it remain in this condition 
about two hours. Drive four forked stakes into the ground 
so as to form a square of about eight or ten feet, leaving the 
forks four feet high. Lay two poles across one way in these 
forks, and fill the whole space the other way with poles laid 
on the first two, about two inches apart. The strips of flesh 
should then be laid across the poles, and a small fire of clean 
hard wood should be started underneath, and kept up for 
twenty-four hours. This process will reduce the weight of 
the flesh more than half, bringing it to a condition like that 
of dried or smoked beef, in which it will keep any length of 
time. This is called jerked venison. It is good eating, and 
always commands a high price in market. An over-supply 
of fish can be treated in the same manner. They should be 
split open on the back and the backbone taken out. 

PREPARATIONS AGAINST INSECTS. 

In the warm months, chiefly from the first of June to the 
first of September, woodsmen are annoyed by myriads of flies, 
gnats, and mosquitoes. These can be driven out of a tent by 



92 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

smoke, and can be kept out by buttoning all tight. But the 
trapper should also provide himself with a protective against 
these pests. A good preparation for this purpose may be 
made by warming about three ounces of hog's lard, and add- 
ing to it half an ounce of the oil of pennyroyal. This oint- 
ment, applied once in an hour or less, to the parts exposed, 
will give entire protection. 

Another preparation can be made by mixing equal parts of 
common tar with sweet oil, applying as before. This prepa- 
ration is by some considered the best, because it also prevents 
tanning, and is easily washed off with soap, leaving the skin 
soft and white. 

THE SHANTY. 

The tent which I have recommended is probably best 
adapted to the irregular operations of amateur sportsmen, the 
volunteers and guerrillas of the trap. The old regulars and 
veterans of the service always have built, and probably will 
continue to build, rude huts, called shanties, at various points 
in the region of their operations. Shanties are of two kinds, 
temporary and permanent. The temporary shanty is made 
by driving two forked stakes into the ground, laying a ridge- 
pole across, leaning many other poles against this, and cover- 
ing the skeleton thus formed with bark or split boards. The 
permanent shanty is made of logs, laid one above another in 
a square form, joined at the corners by means of notches, and 
roofed over with split logs formed into troughs, and placed in 
this form : ^l^^^^^^^J^^^J^^,^^^^^^- The crevices should be stopped 
with clay or moss. At one end a rude fire-place and chimney 
of stone should be built, the latter reaching just above the top 
of the shanty. 

TRAPPING LINES. 

Trapping, when carried on systematically and on the large 
scale, has, like an army, its lines of operation, its depots of 
provisions, and its arrangements for keeping open its commu- 
nications with its base. The general proceedings of a regular 
trapping campaign may be described as follows : The trapping 



LIFE IN THE WOODS. 93 

company, which consists generally of two, three, or four per- 
sons, start out a little before the trapping season commences ; 
select their lines, extending into the woods frequently from - 
thirty to fifty miles ; carry along, and deposit at intervals on 
the line, traps and provisions ; and build shanties at conven- 
ient points, for sleeping-posts and shelters from storms. These 
preparations sometimes require several journeys and returns, 
and are made in advance of the trapping season, so that, when 
trapping commences, all hands may have nothing else to at- 
tend to. If the line extends directly from a settlement, so 
that it has what may be called a home-base, none but rude, 
temporary shanties are built ; and once in about ten days, 
during the season, a man is sent back to the settlement, to 
carry out furs and bring back provisions. But, if the Hne 
commences so far from the frontier that such return-journeys 
are impracticable, then, besides the temporary shanties, a 
more substantial and permanent hut, called the home-shanty, 
is built at some point on the line, for depositing furs, provis- 
ions, and other valuables ; and this becomes the base of opera- 
tions for the season. A boy is sometimes taken along to 
" keep shanty," as trappers say, i. e., to remain at the home- 
shanty as housekeeper and guard. Such a resident at the 
main depot is very necessary, as bears and other wild animals 
(not to mention fire and human thieves) have a habit of 
breaking into an unguarded shanty, and destroying every- 
thing within reach. Prudent trappers rarely leave furs in a 
shanty alone, even though it is strongly barricaded. If they 
" cannot carry them out to the settlement, and have no boy to 
" keep shanty," .they generally hide them in hollow trees. At 
the close of a season, if the party are satisfied with their line, 
and intend to trap on it another season, they hide their traps 
under rocks, where they will not be exposed to the fires that 
sweep the woods in dry times. 

CONCLUSION. 

The trapper's art, like that to which I have so often com- 
pared it — the art of war -—is, or should be, progressive. It 
is evidently yet in its infancy, and has hardly begun to emerge 



94 THE TRAPPER'S ART. 

from the narrowness and ignorance of mere individual cun- 
ning, into the Hberal inventiveness and broad combinations 
which will come when trappers shall gather into conventions, 
compare experiences, and avail themselves of the help that all 
sciences are ready to give them. All that I can claim to have 
done in the preceding pages is, the presentation of the art of 
capturing animals, curing their skins, and living in the woods, 
as it now stands, or at least as I understand it. 




Deer breaking cover. 



FOOD HUNTING. 

By T. L. PITT. 



The trapper on his expeditions must often depend on his 
rifle or trap for subsistence. I will indicate the leading kinds 
of game which supply his wants, and methods of obtaining 
them. 

DEER. 

Among food animals, Mr. Newhouse has noticed the Deer 
and Moose. These are the trapper's most desirable game 
throughout all northern countries. In America, we have the 
common Red or Virginia Deer ; the Black-tailed Deer, two 
varieties ; the Long-tailed Deer of the Pacific slope ; the 
Wapita or Stag, once distributed over a large portion of the 
Continent, but now found principally west of the Mississippi, 
in Oregon and Washington Territory, and in some parts of 
British America ; the Moose ; two varieties of the Caribou 
or Reindeer, in British America ; and the Mule Deer of the 
Rocky Mountains. In Europe and Asia are the Moose or 
Elk ; the Stag or Red Deer ; the Fallow Deer ; the Rein- 
deer ; the Persian or Indian Red Deer ; the Thibetan Stag ; 
the Sika of Japan ; the Axis Deer of India ; besides many 
other varieties in Asia, especially in the southern part. 

The best method, and the one most to be relied on by the 
trapper, for hunting Deer, is what is called the " still hunt." 
The practice of hunting by boat and torch on lakes and 
streams, at night, is only adapted to the summer months, when 
trapping is out of the question, and when Deer should not be 
hunted, it being their breeding season. The plan of running 
Deer into lakes with dogs, though often practiced, is discarded 



96 THE TRAPPER'S FOOD. 

and condemned by the best Deer hunters, as it tends to make 
the Deer wild, and to drive them into other regions. It may 
be resorted to when necessary, but cannot be recommended. 
It involves also the keeping of a dog which is generally of 
little use for any other purpose, and is a constant bill of ex- 
pense. " Still hunting " is practised by finding the fresh track 
of the Deer, and carefully and noiselessly following up the 
trail till the location of the animal is discovered, when, by 
careful approach, a good shot can generally be obtained. 
Practiced Deer hunters become w^onderfully keen, accurate, 
and successful in the still hunt. Messrs. Holland and Gunter, 
of Hastings County, Canada West, — the former of whom is 
one of the most accomplished deer-hunters in Canada, — give 
the following directions for still hunting : — 

" For still hunting, the hunter should provide himself with a good 
rifle and a pair of deer-skin moccasins. When finding the trail he 
should walk carefully, and keep a good lookout ahead, as Deer are 
always watching back on their trail. When routed they almost al- 
ways stop on hills. In order to get within gunshot it is necessary 
to circle round and come up toward them in front or at the side — 
always circling to the leeward side, as their sense of smell is very 
acute. The Deer, when the early snows come, usually get up and 
feed till about ten o'clock, a. m. ; then they lie down till about three 
o'clock, p. M., when they start on a rambling excursion till near 
the next morning. In these excursions they almost always return 
to the place from whence they started, or near to it." 

In still hunting, if buck, doe and fawns are found together, 
shoot the doe first, as in that case the buck will not leave the 
place till you have had opportunity for another shot. Deer 
when they lie down, turn off from their run-w^ay, or track, 
and take a zigzag course back a short distance. They lie in a 
position which commands a view of the back track. 

THE BUFFALO. 

This animal is the great resource of the hunter for food 
on the western plains. Their range is from Texas to 
within about twenty miles of the Great Slave Lake. But 
few, however, reach this latter limit. They are seldom found 



THE BUFFALO. 97 

west of the Rocky Mountains, and never, at the present time, 
east of the Mississippi. They are migratory animals, mov- 
ing north in the spring with the advance of vegetation, and 
south in the autumn with the decline of pasturage. They 
move in large bodies, grazing as they go, and breed on the 
march. They usually reach the Platte River on their way 
north about the last of May. On their return they reach the 
same river in September. A few probably winter north of 
that latitude. These are mostly animals that wander from 
the great herds and get lost among the valleys in the moun- 
tains. On the uplands the Buffaloes live on a short, fine 
grass, called Buffalo grass. On the low lands they feed on 
a coarse, hisih orrass. On their £;eneral march thev move in 
a scattered, grazing order. Only when disturbed do they 
herd together and move in compact masses. When moving 
in the mass they stop for nothing, rushing through ravines, 
swimming rivers, and trampling all ordinary obstacles under 
foot. It is exceedingly dangerous to get in the way of a 
drove when on the rush. They should only be approached 
on the outskirts. Cows run the fastest. The bulls generally 
take the lead when the rush is made, but are soon out- 
stripped by the cows. The cows and calves keep on the 
outskirts of the drove. A drove lie down where night over- 
takes them. 

The common way of hunting the Buffalo is on horseback, 
as a person on foot cannot approach them without screening 
himself Experienced hunters prefer a largest sized or eight 
inch navy revolver for hunting them. A breech -loading car- 
bine or rifle, is also a good weapon. Find a drove feeding. 
Approach them from the leeward side, otherwise the animals 
will scent you and move off. They are not disturbed by a 
horse as long as they do not scent the rider. Lie down on the 
horse and let him gradually work his way into the drove. 
Select a cow and approach her on the left side if you have a 
pstol, on the right side if you have a rifle, in order, in either 
case, that you may have the best opportunity for using your 
weapon. Shoot for the heart, which hes, comparatively, very 
low. The ball should be aimed just back of the fore leg, a few 



98 THE TRAPPER'S GAME. 

inches above the brisket. The ball if aimed right will gen- 
erally go through, and the animal will soon bleed to death. 
New hunters are liable to aim too high, being deceived by the 
lieight of the hump on the shoulders. They suppose the 
heart is near the middle of the space from the top of the 
shoulders to the brisket ; it is some distance below that point. 
The danger in Buffalo hunting for beginners, is in getting 
too far into the drove. As soon as an animal is wounded 
the rest take the alarm and close round, and if the hunter 
has not secured a way of escape he will probably be ridden 
down and both horse and rider destroyed. When chasing 
a Buffalo and shooting on the gallop, the hunter should bring 
his horse into time with the animal. Otherwise he will prob- 
ably miss fire. He should fire just as the horse and the Buf- 
falo strike the ground with the fore feet. 

The cows are best for eating. The tongue and tender-loin 
are preferred, the rest of the meat being rather coarse, espe- 
cially that of the bulls, unless the animals are fat. It is, how- 
ever, all eatable, and somewhat resembles beef, but has a 
strong, pecuhar, wild flavor of its own. Much of its reputa- 
tion may be due to the good appetites of those who hunt it. 

The cows furnish the Buffalo robes of commerce, the skins 
of the bulls having no fur on the hinder parts, and only the 
long coarse mane in front ; their hinder parts are covered with 
short hair. The bull skins make a coarse kind of leather, 
used by the Indians of the plains to cover their wigwams and 
for other purposes. 

THE MOUFFLONS OR GREAT HORNED SHEEP. 

There are several species of wild sheep which are of some 
interest to the trapper. The first of these is 

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP OR BIG-HORN. 

This animal is larger than the common sheep, being some- 
times six feet long, about three feet high at the shoulders, and 
weighing nearly three hundred and fifty pounds. They are 
found throughout the whole range of the Rocky Mountains, 
from the 30th to the 68th degree of north latitude. The horns 



THE ARGALI. 99 

of the males are enormous, measuring over two feet ten 
inches in length round the curve, and being very large at 
the base. Their color is a rufous gray, except the rump, 
belly, and the inside of the hind legs, all of which are a gray- 
ish white. In winter they become lighter-colored. The hair 
is coarse and slightly crimped. Underneath the hair is a soft 
fur or wool. The Big-horn is, or becomes after contact with 
hunters, an exceedingly shy, wild animal. In the retired parts 
of the mountains where they have never been hunted, they 
are sometimes found quite tame and unsuspecting. They are 
gregarious and live in small flocks among the peaks and most 
inaccessible regions of the mountains, never descending into 
the plains. They subsist on mountain grass and herbage, and 
inhabit the rocky recesses. The young rams and the females 
herd together during the winter and spring, while the old rams 
separate in flocks, except at the rutting season in December. 
The rams fight fiercely with each other like common rams. 
The ewes bring forth one or two young in June and July. 

The flesh of the Big-horn is excellent, superior to the best 
venison or the finest mutton. They can only be hunted suc- 
cessflilly by the exercise of extreme caution and strategy in 
approaching them ; and if only wounded by the first fire they 
retire to their recesses among the rocks, and there die, inac- 
cessible to the hunter. Dogs are worse than useless in hunt- 
ing them. 

Another Moufflon is 

THE ARGALI. 

The Argali of Siberia and Central Asia greatly resembles 
the American big-horn, and some naturalists have regarded 
them as the same species. They are very large, being about 
four feet high at the shoulders and proportionately large in 
build. The horns of a full grown male are nearly four feet 
in length, measured along the curve, and about nineteen 
inches in circumference at the base. They rise from the fore- 
head a short distance, then curve downward below the chin, 
then recurve upward and terminate in a point. They are 
mountain-loving animals and are found in the highlands and 



100 THE TRAPPER'S GMIE. 

mountain ranges of Siberia and Central Asia. They are very 
fleet and sure of foot, and when disturbed rush to the most 
inaccessible places among the rocks and peaks. They are 
gregarious and live in small flocks. In the winter these flocks 
are sometimes enveloped in the deep snow-drifts. In such 
cases they lie quietly under the snow and respire through a 
small breathing-hole. The hunters eagerly hunt for these 
imprisoned Argalis, and spear them through the snow. At 
other times they are hunted with the same cautious strategy 
that is required in the case of the big-horn. 

THE PRONG-HORN ANTELOPE. 

This animal abounds on the western plains of the United 
States. It is the only species of Antelope in North America. 
It is of nearly the same size as the Virginia deer. They difler 
from all other Antelopes in having a prong or branch on each 
horn. This prong is situated about the middle of the horn 
on the anterior face. The tops of the horns curve inward 
and backward, forming a small hook like those of the cha- 
mois. The legs of the Prong-horn are long and slender, 
the ears long, narrow, and pointed, and the tail short and 
bushy. The whole form is stately, elegant, and graceful. 
The color of the upper parts is a yellowish-brown ; the under 
parts, with a patch on the rump, are grayish-white. Their 
favorite haunts are the low prairies adjoining the covered 
woody bottoms. They are also found on the upland prairies, 
and along the rivers and streams. They swim well. They 
sometimes congregate in large flocks ; at other times only one 
or two are seen. In the winter the Indians take advantage 
of their congregating together and hunt them by a " sur- 
round." The manner of doing this is as follows : A large 
number of Indians distribute themselves around the Antelope 
at such a distance as not to alarm them. Then they advance 
with cries and noise from all sides. The Antelope, instead of 
endeavoring to escape, herd closer together in their fright, and 
suffer themselves to be beaten down with clubs. In this way 
great numbers are sometimes killed. Though very wild and 
shy, the Antelope is full of curiosity. Any novel object at- 



THE RUFFED GROUSE. 101 

tracts their attention. At length curiosity overcomes timidity, 
and they advance to examine it. The hunter takes advantage 
of this trait. Conceahng himself, he attaches a red or white 
flag to his ramrod, and with it attracts the animal within 
range of his rifle. Their sense of smell is very acute, conse- 
quently the hunter should always keep to the leeward of them. 
They are among the fleetest of all animals. They inhabit all 
the western part of North America from the Saskatchewan 
to the plains of New Mexico. Their flesh is inferior to that 
of the deer. 

SQUIRREL HUNTING. 

Squirrels are usually considered " small game " by trappers, 
requiring more ammunition to kill them than they are worth. 
There are times, however, when they furnish an acceptable 
addition to woodland fare. The best way to hunt them is 
this : Find a piece of woods where they abound. Go into 
the woods and seat yourself on a fallen tree or rock. Remain 
motionless and quiet. Soon you will begin to hear the Squir- 
rels at their work or see them among the trees. By patience 
and the most quiet strategic movements you will soon get a 
shot. Several may sometimes be shot from one position, in a 
short time. The great point in Squirrel hunting is to avoid 
all unnecessary moving about. 

GROUSE. 

The Grouse family furnishes the trapper his most desirable 
winged game, throughout the world. In this country the 
leading kinds of Grouse are the following ; — 

THE RUFFED GROUSE. 

This bird is known in New England as the Partridge, and 
in some of the Southern and Middle States as the Pheasant. 
Neither of these names is the proper one, for this bird belongs 
to neither the partridge nor the pheasant families. The wild 
turkeys are the only representatives of the pheasant family 
in North America; and the so-called quail is our true par- 
tridge. Let us hereafter, not only as naturalists, but as hunters 
and trappers, call this noble bird by its true American name 



102 THE TRAPPER'S FOOD. 

— RufFed Grouse. There are three species of the Rufted 
Grouse : the common species which inhabits the country 
from the Southern States to Labrador and the Saskatche- 
wan ; the Oregon or Sabine's Grouse of the Rocky Mount- 
ains and the Pacific slope, and the Alhed Grouse inhabiting 
the Rocky Mountains northward to the frozen regions. The 
Oregon Grouse is much darker and redder than the common 
species. The Alhed Grouse is of a light gray color, and is 
smaller than either of the others. All are excellent for the 
table. RufFed Grouse are generally found in small packs, 
except where they have been much hunted. In the latter 
case more than two are rarely found together. They dehght 
in upland and mountain forests, where springs and small 
brooks abound. They are particularly fond of the high, 
sloping banks which border on such streams. These are 
their favorite feeding-grounds. Their flesh is white and 
unsurpassed in flavor by other Grouse. They should be 
hunted with a trained dog. Sportsmen prefer cockers. In 
the back woods they may occasionally be hunted with moder- 
ate success without a dog ; but such hunting is generally tedi- 
ous and uncertain. They are easily snared by building a low 
fence of twigs with occasional openings, large enough to per- 
mit a bird to pass through, and placing a slip -noose across the 
opening. The noose should be made of small copper wire. 
Some hunters prefer to attach the noose to a spring-pole. 

THE PINNATED GROUSE. 

This species is commonly known as the Prairie Hen. They 
formerly existed in great numbers in the Atlantic States, but 
are now mostly confined to the prairies and plains of the West, 
east of the Rocky Mountains, within the limits of the United 
States. They differ from the ruffed grouse in preferring the 
open country to the forests. They choose the dry lands for 
their habitat, avoiding as far as possible marshy or wet places. 
They depend for their drink on the dew which they collect 
from the leaves of plants. In color the Prairie Hen resembles 
the ruffed grouse, but its markings are different. It is about 
nineteen inches long and when in good order, weighs about 



THE COCK OF THE PLAINS. 103 

three and a half pounds. It meat is dark-colored but fine flav- 
ored. The neck is furnished with a pair of supplemental 
wings, about three inches long ; underneath these are orange- 
colored air-sacs, which can be inflated to the size of a medium 
sized orange. Audubon says that when these sacs are " per- 
fectly inflated, the bird lowers its head to the ground, opens 
its bill, and sends forth, as it were, the air contained in these 
bladders in distinctly separated notes, rolling one after another 
from loud to low, and producing a sound like that of a large 
muffled drum. This done, the bird immediately erects itself, 
refills its receptacles by inhalation, and again proceeds with its 
' tootings.' " These tootings can be sometimes heard at the 
distance of a mile. Their food consists of the seeds of the 
sumach, grapes, grain, wild strawberries, cranberries, partridge- 
berries, whortleberries, blackberries and young buds. They 
also eat worms, grasshoppers and insects, and in winter feed 
on acorns, the tender buds of the pine, clover leaves, and, 
when possible, frequent grain stubbles. They are best hunted 
with a trained dog. 

THE SHARP-TAIL GROUSE. 

This bird is allied to and greatly resembles the preceding. 
It takes the place of the prairie hen in the far West, on the 
plains that skirt the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains. 
It avoids the highlands and mountains, and has its habitat on 
the prairie and open grounds. There they congregate in 
flocks, feeding on wild rye. Near settlements they frequent 
grain stubbles. They hybridize with the pinnated grouse, 
and are equally excellent for food. They are destitute of the 
gular sacs on the neck. Their range extends northward 
into British America. In the far North there is another 
species called the Arctic Sharp-tailed Grouse. They are 
about the same in size as the preceding, but are darker in 
color, being black where the other is brown. 

THE COCK OF THE PLAINS. 

This is the largest of the American grouse. Its common 
name is the Sage Cock. Its habitat is chiefly on the western 



104 THE TRAPPER'S FOOD. 

plains on both sides of the Rocky Mountains where the wild 
sage or artemisia grows. It feeds on the leaves of this plant, 
which being very bitter, give the flesh an unpalatable flavor. 
In the autumn, however, they frequent the streams of the 
Columbia, where they feed on the pulpy-leaved thorn. At 
this season their flesh is good. The males have large, orange- 
colored gular sacs on the sides of the neck, which they inflate, 
and by expelling the air produce " a loud, grating noise, 
resembling hurr-hurr-r-r-hoo, ending in a deep hollow tone, 
not unlike the sound caused by blowing into a large reed." 
Their general color is light brown, marked with black, dark 
brown and yellowish white. They are large, weighing fre- 
quently five or six pounds. The tail is long and pheasant- 
shaped. 

THE DUSKY GROUSE. 

The species next in size to the preceding is the Dusky 
Grouse, sometimes called the Pine Grouse. It is an inhabit- 
ant of the Pacific slope and of the Rocky Mountains from 
the Columbia River to Texas. They are supposed to be par- 
tially migratory, leaving their accustomed haunts in November 
and being absent until spring. Their flesh is said to be excel- 
lent, having a slight pine flavor, which is not disagreeable. 
The Dusky Grouse is easily captured. Their habit is to spend 
most of their time on the ground. They lie close till almost 
stepped on, and when disturbed take refuge in the nearest 
tree, alighting among the branches and remaining motionless. 
Richardson's Grouse resembles the Dusky Grouse, but its hab- 
itat is in the Rocky Mountains from the South Pass northward. 

THE SPRUCE OR CANADA GROUSE. 

This bird is found from the northern United States to the 
Arctic Sea, and from the Atlantic nearly to the Rocky Mount- 
ains. Their favorite habitat is the thick evergreen swamps. 
They are less wild and shy than the other kinds of Grouse, 
and are said to be easily tamed. When confined, they feed 
readily on oats, wheat, or other grain. Their flesh is quite 
dark, and in winter, when they feed on the leaves of ever- 
greens, is unpalatable. In the season of berries it is much 



THE WILLOW PTARMIGAN. 105 

better flavored. In the Rocky Mountains a species of Grouse 
is found which closely resembles the Spruce Grouse, except 
that its habitat is in the mountains rather than in the swamps. 
This species is called Frankhn's Grouse. 

PTARMIGAN. 

Allied to the grouse, and known by the name of Snow 
Grouse are the Ptarmigans. They inhabit the northern parts 
of both continents, especially the cold snowy regions near or 
within the Arctic Circle. They differ from the common 
Grouse in having their legs and feet completely feathered, 
leaving no portion of the body exposed except the bill and 
nails. They all turn white in winter, but in summer are 
beautifully mottled with various colors. Only one species has 
its habitat within the limits of the United States. This is the 

■W^ITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN 

of the Rocky Mountains. They inhabit the regions of 
eternal snow, and only descend to the lower levels to breed. 
Not much is known of this species except that they are wild 
and shy. Their color in winter is the same as their snowy 
surroundings, and in summer resembles that of the moss and 
lichen covered rocks. 

THE WILLOVr PTARMIGAN. 

This is an important bird and furnishes a large amount 
of food to the inhabitants of British America, particularly to 
the natives and trappers of the Hudson's Bay territory. In 
winter they sometimes enter the limits of the Northern States, 
and their range is from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to the 
Rocky Mountains and the Arctic Sea. They breed plentifully 
in Newfoundland, Labrador and the fur countries. They 
live mostly on the ground. They are wonderfully prolific, 
and vast numbers of them are found and captured in some 
localities. Hearne, who travelled and explored in the Hud- 
son's Bay region nearly a hundred years ago gives the follow- 
ing account of them : — 

" They are by far the most numerous of the grouse species that 



106 THE TRAPPER'S FOOD. 

are found in Hudson's Bay, and in some places, when permitted to 
remain undisturbed for a considerable time, their number is frequently 
so great as almost to exceed credibility. I shall by no means ex- 
ceed the truth if I assert that I have seen upwards of four hundred 
in one flock near Churchill River ; but the greatest number I ever 
saw was on the north side of Port Nelson River, when returning 
with a packet in March. At that time I saw thousands flying to the 
north, and the whole surface of the snow seemed to be in motion by 
those that were feeding on the tops of the short willows. ... In 
summer they eat berries and small herbage. Their food in winter 
being dry and hard, makes it necessary for them to swallow a con- 
siderable quantity of gravel to promote digestion, but the great depth 
of snow renders it very scarce during that season. The Indians, 
having considered this point, invented the method now in vogue 
among the English of catching them in nets by means of that simple 
allurement, a heap of gravel. The nets for this purpose are from 
eight to twelve feet square, and are stretched on a frame of wood, 
and are usually set on the ice of rivers, creeSs, ponds, and lakes, 
about one hundred yards from the willows, but in some situations not 
half that distance. Under the centre of the net a heap of snow is 
thrown up to the size of one or two bushels, and, when well packed, 
is covered with gravel. To set the nets when thus prepared requires 
no other trouble than lifting up one side of the frame and supporting 
it with two small props about four feet long ; a line is fastened to 
these props, the other end being conveyed to the neighboring wil- 
lows, so that a man can always get at it without being seen by the 
birds under the net. When everything is thus prepared, the hunters 
go to the adjacent willows and woods, and, when they start the game, 
endeavor to drive it into the net, which at times is no hard task, as 
they frequently run before them like chickens ; and sometimes re- 
quire no driving, for, as soon as they see the black heap of gravel 
on the snow they fly straight toward it. The hunter then goes to 
the end of the line, and when he sees that there are as many about 
the gravel as the net can cover, or as many as are likely to go under 
at that time, with a sudden pull he hauls down the stakes and the 
net falls on the snow, and incloses the greater portion of the birds 
that are under it. By this simple contrivance I have known upwards 
of three hundred caught in one morning by three persons." 

The weight of the Willow Ptarmigan is about one and a 
half pounds. Another species called the Rock Ptarmigan is 



WATER FOWL. 107 

found in British America, throughout nearly the same range. 
They are smaller than the Willow Ptarmigan, and congregate 
together in great numbers in the open grounds in winter. 

EUROPEAN GROUSE. 

The principal Grouse of Europe are the Capercaille and the 
Black Grouse. The former is a very large bird, about three 
feet long, and inhabits the wooded portions of Northern Eu- 
rope, especially those of Sweden and Norway. The Black 
Grouse is also quite large. They are abundant in Sweden 
and Norway, and Northern Europe. Several species of ptar- 
migan are also found on the Eastern Continent. 

WATER FOWL. 

Two families of water fowl are of considerable importance to 
the trapper. These are the Ducks and the Geese. The for- 
mer are so familiar as to need no description. I will merely 
enumerate the species that are esteemed for the table. These 
are divided into the sub-families of Sea Ducks and River 
Ducks. The latter principally frequent the inland waters, 
and are all good for the table. They are the Pin-tail, the 
Mallard, the Black or Dusky, the Shoveller, the Muscovy, 
the Wood, the Widgeon, the Green- winged and Blue-winged 
Teal, and the Gadwall. Of the Sea Ducks, only the Red- 
head, the Canvas-back, and the Ring-neck are much es- 
teemed. The two first are excellent. All the vegetable-eat- 
ing ducks are adapted to table use ; the fish-eaters are poor. 
They are hunted with decoys in the early spring and fall, and 
in summer with punt boats. A heavy shoulder gun with wide 
bore and long range is used. 

The Wild Geese spread over the whole of this Continent 
and abound in Europe and Asia. They breed in the far 
north. They migrate north in the early spring, and return 
south late in the fall. In the fur-countries of British Amer- 
ica they constitute the principal summer food of the inhabit- 
ants, and are salted down in great numbers for winter use. 
They are shot from behind screens on the margins of lakes 
and rivers. The hunters decoy them within range by imitat- 
ing their cries. Tame Geese may also be used as decoys. 



FISHING IN AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

By T. L. PITT. 



In the fall, beside the ordinary methods of fishing with hook 
and line, which are too familiar to need description, the trap- 
per may have opportunity for spearing salmon-trout on their 
spawning beds. This operation, to be successful, requires these 
preliminaries : 1, plenty of fish, and good spawning beds ; 
2, a good canoe or boat ; 3, a good spear ; 4, a good jack ; 
5, plenty of fat pine and white-birch bark ; 6, favorable 
weather ; 7, an expert spearman. The jack is a sort of con- 
cave gridiron structure, made of wire or iron rods, and placed 
on an upright post about three feet and a half high, in the 
bow of the boat. In the jack the fat pine and birch bark are 
burned to give light to the spearman and those who paddle 
the boat. Fat pine, is pine that is full of pitch, and is usually 
found in the knots and roots of fallen and decayed trees. The 
spear should be made with five barbed prongs, about five 
inches in length and three fourths of an inch apart, and set on 
a line with each other. The prongs should be made of the 
best steel, well tempered. The four outer prongs should 
be barbed on their inside edges. The middle prong on both 
edges. 

The practical operation of spearing is as follows. Having 
arrived on the spawning ground the spearman kindles the fire 
in his jack, as soon as it is dark enough. He then stands 
near the bow with spear in hand, and peers keenly down into 
the water for the desired fish. The paddler stands near the 
stern, and follows the directions of the spearman in paddling 
and guiding the boat. The spearman must stand firmly in the 
boat, and in striking must allow for the refraction of the light 



NET-FISHING IN WINTER. 109 

in the water. If a fish appears to be one foot below the sur- 
face, he is really much deeper, and if you strike at the appar- 
ent depth you will surely miss him. The spearman, however, 
soon learns by his mistakes to make the proper allowances ; 
and when he learns this, and attains self-poise, calmness, and 
quickness of movement, will be successful. 

The places which salmon-trout choose for spawning are on 
the westerly-looking shores of lakes, and the coasts of islands, 
where the slope is gentle, and covered with large, clean gravel 
and rocks. 

FISHING THROUGH THE ICE. 

In winter, brook trout may be caught on sand-bars, where 
the water is two or three feet deep, and lake trout in deeper 
water, by cutting holes through the ice and fishing with hook 
and line. One person may fish with several lines in different 
holes, by using tip-ups. These contrivances are made in this 
way : Take a strip of shingle, or board, two inches wide and 
twenty inches long. Bore a hole through it near one end. 
Through the hole insert a stick, long enough to reach across 
the hole in the ice. Then fasten your fish-fine to the short 
end of the strip, and drop the hooks into the water. When 
a fish bites the long end will tip up and attract your attention. 
Bait with any sort of meat. Cow's udder makes excellent 
bait on account of its toughness. Salmon-trout are caught in 
the same way, only in deep water, where the banks are bold. 

NET-FISHING IN WINTER. 

Fishing may be performed under the ice with gill-nets in 
the fallowing manner : The net is fastened with loops or 
rings to a long, smooth pole. The loops or rings should be 
large enough to slip easily along the pole ; or if preferred the 
net may be hung on a rope, each end of which is fastened to 
the ends of the pole. Two holes are then cut in the ice, the 
length of the net apart, and the pole and net are sunk under 
the ice and fastened between the holes. Two cords should be 
attached to one end of the net, near the pole, and brought 
up and fastened above the ice, one through each hole. When 
the net is to be examined, it is drawn together at one end of 



110 FISHING IN AUTUMN AND WINTER. 

the pole, by means of one of the cords, and taken up through 
the hole, which should be kept open. After removing the 
fish, the net is dropped back into the water and spread out 
along the pole again by means of the other cord. Some 
fishers prefer to swing their nets on a rope without any pole. 
In this case holes should be cut through the ice, six or eight 
feet apart, along the line of the net, and the rope brought up 
and passed over sticks laid across the holes. The net should 
also be arranged with cords, so that it can be examined through 
the middle hole, by drawing it from each end of the rope to 
that point. 



NOTES ON TEAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

By "F. R." 



[The following article was written by a practical trapper, in response 
to an invitation from Mr. Newhouse, and partly as a criticism on our first 
edition of the " Guide." As his suggestions are the result of actual expe- 
rience, they will be found interesting to the trapper, whether strictly fol- 
lowed or not. — Editors.] 

It would be a great advantage to young and inexperienced 
trappers if they could have descriptions and engravings of the 
foot-prints or tracks of animals. Even those skilled in the 
trapper's art are at times deceived and led off on some " wild- 
goose chase " for want of such information. As an instance, 
I will relate the following story : Once, when a boy, hunting 
in a well-settled region in the State of New York, I discerned 
otter signs. The otters appeared to have no regular abiding- 
place, but wandered at will, up and down the stream, a dis- 
tance of some four or five miles, between two lakes. There 
were five or six of them, and so " shy " and wary were they, 
that they defied all attempts to trap them. Having at length 
discovered that they lurked near a certain " deep hole " in the 
creek, early dawn found me near the spot, with my gun well 
charged with buckshot, and accompanied by my two dogs, 
with whose assistance I expected to get the otter out of the 
water, when I hilled him. There was a piece of swamp which 
I had to cross, in order to reach my post of observation. This 
swamp lay so open to the creek that I crawled across it on my 
knees, to escape, if possible, the notice of the otter, should any 
be lurking near, dragging myself along through the deep and 
fresh fallen snow, each leg as it trailed making a long gouge, 
and both forming two long, parallel gutters. In each of these 



112 TRAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

gutters walked a dog, soberly enough, much obliged to me, no 
doubt, for thus making him a path. I reached my post, and 
spent the morning without observing any thing unusual. 
Toward noon I arose and was about to start for home to din- 
ner, when I descried two men making their way toward me 
across the marsh, evidently much excited, eagerly gesticu- 
lating and inciting one another to haste. Seeing me they 
stopped, and asked me whether I had " seen the otters." 
Upon my replying in the negative, they laughed inconti- 
nently, declaring that I was blinder than a bat ; that I must 
have been asleep, &c. *' Why," said one, observing my 
astonishment at their conduct, " here are their tracks, cover- 
ing yours, scarce a rod from where you sit. See ! here 
they 've taken to water. We first came upon their trail as 
we were crossing the swamp there. By their tracks, I make 
them to be two of the biggest critters I ever so much as hearn 
tell of. We hurried on, thinking we might perhaps catch 
them ashore." 

After some further conversation, they hurried on down 
stream, leaving me, to use a common phrase, " rather mixed." 
I was certain that no otter had come within many a rod of me. 
I had watched eagerly for a single wave or ripple in the placid 
waters of the stream from under the snow-covered bushes, 
whose pendent boughs almost reached the water and formed 
a curtain to the opposite bank. There was no sign, nor had 
there been — not a trace. I was quite sure I could not have 
passed an otter trail without noticing it — the unmistakable 
scoop of his long, stovepipe-like body, with paw marks inter- 
spersed along it. I retraced my steps to the spot where I 
first struck the creek, after crossing the swamp, which was 
the spot where they had said the otters had taken to water 
again. Truly, there was their trail, a couple of them, big 
ones at that. I called the dogs, and showed them the tracks. 
To my surprise they were nowise excited about it ; " sniffed " 
and turned away. Extraordinary conduct ! — which raised a 
latent suspicion. I doubted — thought — then light flashed 
upon me, and I burst into a hearty laugh. It was a great 
joke. Of course you understand it all. The long gouges 



NOTES OF A HUNTER. 113 

which my knees had made in the yielding snow they had 
mistaken for the drag of the otters' bodies ; the prints of the 
dogs' feet for the otters' paws. You may say they were super- 
ficial observers. Excitement will have its effects, and nothing 
but correct information can in such a case counteract it. 
'' Knowledge is power." 

The print of a raccoon's paw greatly resembles that of the 
bare foot of a young child. It is easily recognized. The 
bear, woodchuck, and skunk are also plantigrade ; but the 
print of their paws has little resemblance to the " coon's." 

Otter will not eat bait, as a general thing ; but they will 
smell of it, which is frequently just as good. Some stale 
meat, or better, fish, will attract them, especially if it is placed 
in a queer, unusual position, hung from a bush or stake, so as 
to attract their attention. Inquisitive as they are, the trapper 
should take care that the object or bait excites their e, -^-osity 
without alarming them. 

I have been informed by experienced trappers that a wolf- 
trap should be well rubbed with the green leaves of the male 
fern or " brake " when they are to be had. They give a 
humid, earthy smell to the trap, and the juice, when it evapo- 
rates, appears to carry off all scent of human contact. I sug- 
gest, however, that if trappers would lay out a little more 
money in buckskin gloves they would be well remunerated. 
The contact of the bare hand with the trap is very objection- 
able ; you might as well hold out a noose and call a wild horse 
to put his head in it. The gloves should only be used when 
handling the trap. Some rub the traps with blood, when 
trapping carnivorous animals ; others substitute herbs, as 
skunk cabbage, &c., for all animals. For the bear, the In- 
dians say, the best bait is skunk cabbage. They are said to 
be very fond of it. I cannot verify this, for I have never 
had an opportunity to try it. It would take as sturdy a pine- 
l)ender as him that Theseus slew, to make a spring-pole that 
would raise a bear beyond wolf reach — for wolves will attack 
and devour even a bear, wounded and hampered. 

The raccoon, may frequently be taken during a hard frost, 
by cutting a hole in the ice on any stream which may fee near 



114 TRAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

his habitation. A trap set in this, will be almost sure of 
him. He will rise at midnight to paddle in the water, though 
the temperature stands at zero. Hence his Latin generic 
name of " Lotor." 

I think that a live chicken is the best bait possible for the 
wild cat, and also for all feline animals. Fresh, bloody meat, 
however, of any description, is very enticing. 

Till lately I have strongly adhered to the opinion that a 
" Black Lynx " was " dyed in the wool " — after death. Re- 
cent researches have almost made me doubt. I have received 
assurances from men whom I think reliable, that there is, or 
has lately been, such an animal in existence. How it could 
have escaped the sharp eyes of our naturalists, I cannot im- 
agine. It is represented as being of large size, almost as 
large as the black bear ; in form and general habits resem- 
bling the ordinary Canada lynx — but is said to be as fe- 
rocious as the Canada lynx is timid. The hair is said to be 
thick, long and shaggy and as black as Erebus. It is also 
said to have great local attachments, never leaving the im- 
penetrable wilderness of swamp which it inhabits. The In- 
dians have many wild and curious legends or traditions which 
perhaps refer to this animal. He is doubtless — if he exists 
— the ^^ Lunxus'" or devil of the Indians of Maine. The 
'' Black Lynx " is said to be able to throw a full grown sheep 
across his shoulders and make off with ease. " All the beasts 
of the wilderness dread him, and man himself cares not to in- 
vade the retired fastnesses of the gloomy forests where he 
rules absolute monarch." 

Our backwoodsmen are almost as remarkable for their 
" yarns " as Jack Tar, and they are generally about as reliable. 
Did you ever see the pelt of a " Black Lynx " — or of any 
other similar dark-colored animal ? It must be a myth.* 

The offensive smell of skunk, may be removed from clothes 

* Your " Black Lynx " is probably the wolverene, modified and exaggerated by 
the imaginations of the trappers or hunters who caught a glimpse of it. The wol- 
verene is the Indian Devil, and is so called by the Indians of British America. It is 
a very troublesome, sagacious, and destructive animal to the trappers, in the wilds 
where it dwells, but most of the extraordinary stories told of it are probably 
" yarns • like those formerly related by trappers of the beaver. — Editors. 



NOTES OF A HUNTEK. 115 

by wrapping them in fresh hemlock boughs ; in twenty-four 
hours they will be cleansed. They should be left out at 
nio-ht. I have known many who preferred the smell of the 
skunk to that of the musquash. As to eating a skunk — if 
other game is not to be had, I should not be fastidious. A 
skunk properly dressed and cooked is good eating. 

Some think the flesh of the woodchuck or " ground- 
hog " excellent, especially in the fall. He should be care- 
fully skinned and cleaned immediately after death. Some 
dark strips of granular, brown fat, which lie along the inside 
of the animal's legs, should be carefully cut away, or the 
flesh will be spoilt. I have at times found the woodchuck 
up a tree, almost always in iron-wood trees. It is hard to 
dislodge them ; they hold on like grim death, and cannot be 
shaken loose. What induces them to climb I cannot tell; 
they never appear to have any thing to do there. They get 
up amongst the small branches, and much resemble a knot or 
" bunch " of the wood. Their color also corresponds well 
with the bark of the iron-wood, and renders it difficult to 
detect them. I have been informed that they will climb hol- 
low trees at times to escape pursuit, and that it is almost im- 
possible to dislodge them by manual force. The rabbit, also 
— an animal which from its pecuhar conformation would not 
be suspected of climbing — has frequently been found in the 
hollows of trees. It is supposed to climb like the old 
chimney-sweeps, being found with its back braced against 
the side of the hollow. By rabbit, I mean the small brown 
hare peculiar to this country. Their habits are similar to 
those of the great white or northern hare. They will 
sometimes inhabit a deserted woodchuck hole. 

For deer and moose — though I do not believe in trapping 
these animals except for food — I consider the brush fence, 
noose and spring-pole the best method of catching them. A 
rope is the most simple and portable trap, and it is alway 
useful. The Indians have a method of calling the moose 
with a horn of birch bark, producing a sound resembling the 
lowing of the cow, alluring the bull to destruction. 

As to " Hfe in the woods " the old Cromwellian motto. 



116 TRAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

" Trust in God, and keep your powder dry," is most ex- 
cellent. I advise those who are wise enough to wish to fol- 
low it, to use the flat tin powder cans, with metallic caps 
screwing down water-tight. The Hazzard and Dupont pow- 
der comes in such cans • — pounds and half pounds. I have 
found that three dr. of Dupont's No. 2 (coarse ducking powder) 
is equal to four drs. of Hazzard's ordinary grain in strength. 
I use a twelve gauge duck gun. I think No. 4 shot is a good 
size for such game as ducks. With Ely's S.S.G., green car- 
tridge — or large buck-shot and a twelve gauge gun, you can 
generally get all the deer you want. I consider No. 6 the 
best size shot for full-grown grouse. No. 8 does very well 
for smaller birds, woodcocks, &c., and red squirrels. I con- 
sider four (4) dr. of Hazzard's powder, and from one and one 
quarter (1;^) to one and one half (lA) ounces of shot the 
proper load for a twelve gauge gun. At least it is for mine.* 
An iron ramrod should not be used ; it wears the muzzle of 
the piece, and makes it scatter. Brass might do, if a metallic 
rod is considered a desideratum. Being softer than iron the 
wear would chiefly fall upon the rod. Hunters cannot be too 
careful to keep their salt away from their powder ; it absorbs 
moisture and imparts it to the saltpetre of the powder. Here 
I will qualify my praise of water-proof tin cans for powder. 
They are the best things that can ordinarily be had for that 
purpose. But I would not advise any one to hide or cache 
powder in such a can. A w^eek, aye, a few days, might suf- 
fice to turn your powder into a black, unctuous mud. The 
metal appears to attract moisture, and though the can may be 
impervious to any sudden shower or drenching, by some 
means, if long exposed, the moisture will get in. I think that 
a Aorn, plugged with pine wood, which has been boiled in a 
mixture of rosin, wax, and tallow, and the joints varnished, 
will be quite water-proof I have known a horn of powder 
lost in the woods, and exposed for weeks (wet weather hav- 
ing intervened), to be dry and uninjured. A copper flask is 
worse than a tin can, in this respect. I prefer a horn flask, 

* For large animals the charge of powder may be increased from one half, to one 
dram. 



NOTES OF A HIIN^TER. 117 

with a patent water-proof safety top and German silver 
mountings ; but they are scarce and costly. The lightest and 
best camp- kettle is of " pressed tin." One of from three to 
four quarts is worth about one dollar, and is sufficient for 
two or three persons. It is very light and convenient, and 
should have a lid or cover with a wire handle which will fold 
down sideways, so that when inverted it could be used as a 
dish. The rim of this lid, or dish, should be quite broad, so 
as to make it capacious. It might be used to hold a portion 
of the contents of the kettle, mush or potatoes, &c. There 
should be a light wire chain attached to the handle of the 
pail by which to suspend it. For a hunting-knife, I use a 
bowie, and have found it an excellent tool. The sheath 
which comes with a knife is not good for much. I generally 
replace it with a strong wooden one, covered with leather. 
I take a flat piece of strong wood of the requisite shape, and 
saw into it lengthwise — the blade of the knife to be laid, 
edge first or down, into the space cut by the saw, and the back 
being towards the opening. This wooden case prevents the 
knife from cutting you, in case you should fall upon it, of 
which there is great danger where the ordinary pasteboard, 
leather-covered sheath is used. The sheath and knife should 
be attached to the belt by a frog, which should not be a per- 
manent portion of the sheath. The army " camp knife " is 
a very nice thing for hunters ; you have your spoon, fork, and 
knife in very compact shape — cost, one dollar and a half. 
A saw and an auger, with some large spikes, wrought nails, 
butts or hinges, staples, and a padlock or bolt are needed 
around the " home shanty." They tend to " make things 
comfortable " and safe. Your matches should be of the best ; 
lucifers, or " Vienne water-proof." Their tips only are water- 
proof. I render them absolutely water-proof by dipping them 
in a solution of shell-lac in alcohol. This makes the " sticks " 
of the matches quite impervious to moisture. The solution of 
shell-lac, should not be too thick, or they will not burn well. 
When properly prepared in this manner, they may be im- 
mersed in water for twenty-four hours, and will then (if taken 
out and wiped dry) instantly ignite and bum well. As a final 



lis TRAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

precaution, when they are so dry that there is no danger of 
their adhering to one another, I put them in a warm, dry bot- 
tle, with waxed or water-proof stopper or cork. This is the 
true way to carry any sort of matches. 

I always prefer to put up matches, caps, &c., in several dif- 
ferent packages or places, so that in case of accident all is not 
lost. This system should not, however, be carried to an ex- 
treme, as it is then both confusing and troublesome. Every 
thing should be plainly labeled. Boxfes, &c., containing a mis- 
cellaneous assortment of stuff should have a list on the out- 
side, or on the inside of the cover. 

As to provisions, I should leave out beans, which to be 
good, require time for preparation, and instead, should carry 
a package of " self-raising flour " — wheat — an excellent 
article. With it you can make biscuit or bread on short 
notice. It is to be had of grocers generally, I believe, put 
up in six pound packages. Pork or lard, butter and sugar, 
are all the luxuries needed, except perhaps coffee and tea. 
You can fatten on them. Beef, butter, sugar, Indian meal, 
&c., are said to contain a great proportion of strength-giving 
food. 

I quite agree with you on the subject of clothes, but will 
make a few suggestions. I prefer to have my boots first 
sewed in the ordinary manner, and then to have a light " Na- 
poleon tap," pegged on with steel or copper nails. I soak a 
hot mixture of mutton-tallow, bees-wax, and rosin into the 
soles of boots, till they will absorb no more ; such boots wear 
out slowly and the soles never get soaked or water-logged. 
The preparation I recommend is far superior to coal or com- 
mon tar for this purpose ; the boots do not " squeak " as 
those tarred will. There should be more tallow than wax, 
and more wax than rosin. 

The trapper should always be provided with scissors, 
needles, pins, thread, &c. 

Pork, bread, meal, &c., should be put up in neat boxes or 
bags, as nearly water and air-tight as possible, each neatly 
and legibly labeled, so as to pack easily and be known at 
sight, without rummaging. Bags should be painted or other- 



NOTES OF A HUNTER. 119 

wise water-proofed. If lead paints are used, the article in- 
closed should be put in a paper bag first ; white lead is, as 
all should know, very poisonous. Boiled Hnseed oil is apt to 
rot the material of linen or cotton bags. 

As to cooking, I would advise all those who are at all fas- 
tidious as to their food to carry some vinegar and curry-pow- 
der, &c. I can assure you curry-powder improves a schyte- 
poke wonderfully. Without further reference to this subject, 
I must say that onions come very good at times. Potatoes 
also are good, either baked or boiled ; they are also healthy, 
portable, and convenient. 

I can tell you of one of the nicest things known, namely, 
pork fritters ; melt some lard in a saucepan or spider, 
make a stiff batter, but not too stiff either, of wheat or rye 
(boiled Indian meal might do) ; cut slices of pork, dip in the 
batter, and when the melted fat in the pan is quite hot, drop 
in your fritters. Cook till light brown. They are delicious. 
Try them any day ; it is not at all necessary to have an appe- 
tite.* If some other drink besides water, tea, or coffee is con- 
sidered absolutely necessary, carry lemons or oranges. With 
these, and plenty of sugar, joined with the cold clear water of 
some mountain spring, he who is not satisfied deserves never 
to be. Sugar and lemon-juice will make even warm swamp- 
water palatable to a thirsty man. 

You give directions for the preservation of an overplus of 
venison, &c. This reminds me to ask how would you preserve 
a moose from wolves and other depredators in case you should 
be obliged to leave the carcass, to find help to remove it ? I 
have heard it said, that the half-blown bladder of the animal 
suspended from the branch of a tree or bush over the carcass 
would answer ; others say that a rope or even a cord loosely 
hung on the surrounding twigs would be sufficient, the wolf 
supposing it a trap.f 

* We think a substitute for pork should be invented or adopted. It is about as 
bad for corrupting the blood as the alcoholic stimulants which the above writer con- 
demns. Butter is good, but for all frying operations is less economical, and less sat- 
isfactory than olive oil. Pure, sweet olive oil, put up in air-tight or closely corked 
cans or flasks, would be portable and an excellent portion of the trapper's outfit. 
— Editors. 

t Wolves will not meddle with a dead deer if it is laid by a log and a few 



120 TRAPPING AND WOOD-CRAFT. 

As for preparations against insects — they are of a very- 
doubtful benefit. Those who wish to be comfortable, had 
better leave rum alone. " Prevention is better than cure." 
I am satisfied that musquitoes and gnats rarely trouble any 
one whose blood is not in a feverish and unhealthy state. 
Such a condition of the blood may result from sickness, but 
always follows the use of intoxicating alcoholic stimulants. I 
have fished from a canoe at night-fall, when these insects 
arose like clouds, apparently from the water, without material 
discomfort, while my companion suffered agonies. I told him 
(as a joke) it w^as because I was a radical and he a " cop- 
perhead." Your delicate, metropolitan dandy, who adores 
champagne suppers, and warms himself with brandy, had 
better keep clear of the North Woods. A person of frugal 
habit and diet can bear bites and wounds, which would be- 
come festering sores and gangrened ulcers upon the body of 
the intemperate. If a preparation is desired, I should substi- 
tute hard mutton -tallow for hog's lard in the pennyroyal 
ointment. Mutton-tallow is worthy of a word of praise ; to 
suppress an itching, to cure a bite or a galled spot, where the 
cuticle has been rubbed off, it is really invaluable. 

In case furs have to be cached they may be cased in a tin 
or sheet iron can, proof against small animals, and then put 
far beyond the reach of bears or wolvernes. This is a good 
way to dispose of them at any time. 

You should patent some light machine for setting the 
springs of large traps, by lever or jack-screw.* 

branches are cut from a tree and thrown over it. They fear a trap. The deer or moose 
may also be cut up, and the parts swung up on small trees. Bend down a sapling as 
stout as you can handle, cut off a limb, hang the meat to the hook, and let the tree 
swing back. It will be out of reach of the wolves, and the tree will be too small 
for bears to climb. Moose-wood bark makes a good substitute for a rope. — 
Editors. 

* Such contrivances are cumbersome to the trapper. For setting large, double- 
spring traps, he should use double levers made of wood. All that is necessary to be 
carried into the woods to do this is four strong leathern straps furnished with buckles. 
When you wish to set a trap, cut four levers of a size and length proportioned to the 
size of the trap. Take two of them, make a loop of one of the straps and slip it 
over one end of each; then bring the trap spring between them, press them together 
and adjust a loop over the other ends of the levers. Serve the other spring in the 
same way. Now spread the jaws, adjust the dog and pan, loosen the levers and 



NOTES OF A HUNTER. 121 

A good sledge for hauling stuff over the crust or snow in 
winter should be six feet long, eighteen inches broad, and six 
or eight inches high ; as light as possible, held by iron braces 
running over the top and down the sides ; very lightly shod.* 

1 am sorry I have made this article so long, but the fact is, 
once started, I have found it hard to stop. I take much in- 
terest in trapping, and seldom am happier than when I trav- 
erse the wilderness in pursuit of fur. Your book has been 
a great treat to me. It fills an odd Httle corner in literature, 
which but for you, might ever have remained vacant. 

F. R. 

your trap is set. The straps weigh only a few ounces and are easily carried. — Ed- 
itors. 

* The Indian sledge is better. It is made of a smooth board six or eight feet long, 
and fifteen or twenty inches wide, bent up in a curve at the forward end. It is light, 
does not sink in the snow or cut the crust, and draws easily. — Editors. 



PLAN OF A TRAPPING CAMPAIGN. 

By peter M. GUNTER. 



I BEGIN a trapping campaign, by selecting my hunting 
ground, building my shanties, making my canoes, carrying 
my traps to proper localities, and carrying in provisions. 

In selecting a trapping ground it is a great advantage to 
get where you can travel by water as much as possible. You 
are likely in that case to capture more mink and otter. I 
manage in this way : I take a trip in a circle, following lakes, 
rivers and small streams, and striking across from one to the 
other, till I come round to the starting point. At this point I 
build a wigwam. This I do in the following manner : I 
cut four crotches, each about six feet long, and sharpen their 
lower ends. I stick two of them into the ground eight feet 
apart. Then I place a pole four inches in diameter on the 
top. This forms a plate for one side of the building. Four 
feet distant, and parallel to these, I place the other two 
crotches with a similar plate. Then I place other poles across 
the ends from one plate to the other. This done, the frame 
of the wigwam is finished, ready to inclose. Now to do this 
with only an axe would bother many. I do it in this way : 
Fell a cedar or any other tree that sphts free, and cut off 
logs about twelve feet long. Split these up into boards for 
the roof. Lay one end of the boards on the ground, the other 
on the plate. Cover both sides in this way. Thus your roof 
is finished, leaving a space about two feet wide along the peak 
for a chimney. Then split some more boards for the gable 
ends. These are short and may be placed in an upright posi- 
tion. The door may be a split board. It should be opposite 
the fire, and open to the north to prevent smoke. Fill the 



PLAN OF A CAMPAIGN. 123 

crevices with moss to keep the wind out, and the structure 
is finished. Build your fire in the centre ; that makes a par- 
tition ; you have one room for a sleeping apartment, the other 
for a dining-room. This is my home shanty. It is quite 
necessary to have other shanties on the trapping Hue, to stop 
in over night, as I alway calculate to be three days going 
round a circle, in setting and tending traps. 

What I call an outfit for a trapping campaign, or at least 
what I take, is, one large axe to the home shanty, where I do 
my cooking, a tin six quart pail, for carrying water and other 
purposes, a pint cup, a sheet-iron bake-pan with fid, for baking 
bread and cooking game in, and a blanket, leaving it at the 
home shanty. I always carry a gun, (and prefer a double bar- 
rel shot and rifle gun,) a small axe weighing ten or twelve 
ounces, a pocket knife, a butcher knife in my belt, and from 
eighty to one hundred and fifty traps for one line. If there 
are many beaver you want one or two traps to each family. 
Sometimes I use the No. 1 Newhouse trap with good success 
for otter and beaver ; and I have caught four wolves in that 
sized trap on land. But I prefer for my own use, for taking 
beaver and otter, the No. 2 or fox trap. In the way of pro- 
visions, I carry butter and flour, and some tea, salt, and 
pepper. For meat I depend on my gun and traps. 

In setting traps attention should be paid to the Signs of 
Game. These are well known to old trappers, and are learned 
by careful observation. 

Beaver can easily be found in the fall by their cutting tim- 
ber for their winter supply of food, and for repairing or building 
dams. During the summer they play about, laying up nothing, 
and feeding on aquatic plants till about the first of October. 
At this time dam beaver begin to build their dams, and draw 
in timber for winter supplies. Bank beaver never build dams 
but live in the banks of streams, in holes lined with grass and 
leaves. Their holes start from the bottom of the stream, or 
at least three or four feet under water, rising up into the bank, 
above the level of the water, so that they are dry to sleep in. 
Bank beaver feed like other beaver, drawing sticks into their 
dwellings, eating the bark off, and then carrying the refuse 



124 PRACTICAL TRAPPING. 

out into the water again. In buildincr their dams beaver al- 
ways choose a location at the head of rapids, where they can 
have open water in winter. Bank beaver generally build their 
habitations along the sides of rapids. 

Beavers in travelling on land generally have one particular 
path which they follow ; therefore, if you set a trap at each 
end of the path you are quite sure to capture them. The 
trap should be set a little on one side of the middle of the path, 
and three or four inches under water. In a single trap, set 
in this way, I have caught two otters, four beavers, and seven 
muskrats, during one trapping season. 

The otters' haunts are detected by their slides, and the 
freshness of their works on the slides. 

Mink, marten and fisher, have no particular signs except 
their foot-prints and droppings, generally where they cross 
from one stream to another. Minks have certain run-ways 
the same as deer. On these run-ways they always stop in 
some old root or hollow log. When you find one of these 
places, you can tell whether it is a mink-haunt by their drop- 
pings. Set your trap in or near these holes and you are sure 
to catch any mink that passes. I have caught four mink in 
one season, in one hollow log, without using any bait. If 
there are deer run-ways on your hunting grounds, marten and 
fisher will follow those paths, in order to pick up provisions. 
In these places the wolf is the marten's and fisher's provider. 
Nearly all the deer that are killed by wolves, are killed on the 
run-ways, and the marten and fisher follow the wolf to pick up 
the fragments he leaves. Hence, whenever I cross a deer's 
run-way I set a trap or two, and generally with success. 

During the last five years I have been trapping in partner- 
ship with Mr. Robert Holland, an accomplished deer-hunter 
and trapper, and by way of conclusion to this article I will 
give the results of our labors for three years. Our method is 
to carry on farming during the summer months, and trap in 
the fall, winter, and early spring. In 1863 we caught ninety- 
eight minks, fifty -two martens, fourteen fishers, ten otters, fifty- 
three beavers, five wolves, thirteen raccoons, seven foxes, and 
two hundred and eighty muskrats. In 1864 we caught eighty- 



PLAN OF A CAMPAIGN. 125 

nine minks, forty-seven martens, nine fishers, nine otters, ten 
foxes, six raccoons, two hundred and forty muskrats, five 
wolves, and sixty-two beavers. In 1865 we kept no account 
of the number of skins, but our sales amounted to $505. 
During these three years we caught one hundred and thirty- 
seven deer. 



BOAT BUILDING. 

By T. L. PITT. 



A BOAT is often an indispensable part of the trapper's out- 
fit. I will give a few general rules for the construction of 
the several kinds in use. 

THE BARK CANOE. 

This is the favorite boat in those regions where the 
canoe-birch grows to perfection. It is of Indian origin, and 
usually of Indian construction. Few white men are sufficiently 
versed in the art of making it to rival an experienced Indian 
in the nicety of work. 

The great advantage of the bark canoe, or the " bark," as 
it is usually called, is its lightness. On this account it is pre- 
ferred on all streams where portaging is necessary. A large 
sized one, fifteen to twenty feet long, may be carried with com- 
parative ease on the shoulders of two men ; while a small one, 
ten or twelve feet in length, can be carried by one man. 
They are built of all sizes, from ten to thirty-five feet in 
length. The largest ones will carry a dozen persons or more, 
besides considerable freight. 

In building a " bark," a cedar gunwale is first prepared. 
This should be composed of two strips for each side of the 
canoe, about one fourth of an inch thick, and an inch or more 
in width, one to go inside the edge and the other outside. 
The bark is then procured. That part which forms the bot- 
tom of the canoe should be in one whole piece, carefully 
peeled from a tree of suitable size and free from knots. If 
not large enough for the whole boat, strips may be sewed on 
to it. After the bark is ready, the length of the proposed 




/f; 



\^ ^ 



i 




^jm 



THE LOG CANOE OR DUG-OUT. 127 

canoe is measured off on tlie ground, and at each end of the 
space two stakes are driven firmly into the earth, close to- 
o-ether. The ends of the bark are then folded on the mid- 
die line, with the inside of the bark outward, and inserted 
between the stakes. These ends should extend beyond the 
stakes far enough to allow a strip of bark to be folded over 
them, and the wliole firmly sewed together. This makes a 
rude form of the canoe. Underneath each end, near the 
stakes, a small log is placed, for the canoe to rest upon, and 
to let the bottom form an appropriate curve downwards. 
The gunwale is then placed in position, the bark fitted be- 
tween the strips, and the whole sewed together with a wind- 
ing stitch, regularly, or in sections, the entire length. Next 
the inside of the canoe is lined with strips of cedar, from one 
fourth to one half of an inch thick, and an inch or more 
wide, placed longitudinally and fastened in place with pine 
pitch. These strips may be several feet long, and should 
neatly lap where their ends meet. Knees or ribs are then 
made. These are strips of ash, or any wood that is firm and 
elastic, and should be about one fourth of an inch thick, and 
from one to two inches wide. They are placed crosswise of 
the canoe, bent down to the bottom and sides, and their ends 
securely fastened under the gunwales. They should be placed 
close together or with alternate spaces between them, the 
whole length of the canoe. They strengthen the canoe, keep 
it in shape, and keep the lining in its place. When all this is 
done, the whole inside of the canoe and all the seams are 
smeared with pitch, and two or three cross-pieces are placed 
between the gunwales to keep the sides in shape. The 
sewing is all done with a square or three-cornered awl, using 
fibrous cedar, spruce, or tamarack roots, soaked in hot water, 
for thread. 

THE LOG CANOE OR DUG-OUT. 

This is a kind of boat often built by the trapper. Its con- 
struction is simple ; it may be made quite light ; it is strong, 
serviceable, and durable. A log canoe may bd made of pine, 
whitewood, butternut, black-ash, basswood, or cotton-wood. 
The best are made of pine. A log suitable for this purpose 



128 BOAT BUILDING. 

should be large, sound, and free from knots. It should first 
be hewn on two opposite sides to a size corresponding to the 
depth of the intended canoe. On one side the hewing should 
not be on a straight line, but should run out at the ends to 
the surface of the log, in order to leave a suitable rise at bow 
and stern. This hewing is usually performed before the log 
is cut off from the tree. When this is accomplished the log 
is turned down, with that side uppermost which is to form the 
gunwale. Next, the outlines of the sides are struck with a 
line and chalk, the latter being usually a burnt stick. The 
general rule for laying out a canoe, is to measure the log into 
three equal sections. The two end sections are for the bow 
and stern respectively. For a large canoe the bow should be 
hewn somewhat sharper than the stern. At the same time 
the width of the boat at the point where the curves of the 
bow start, below the gunwale, should be a little greater than 
at any other point. This difference can be easily attained in 
finishing off the sides, after the general shape is struck out. 
If the canoe is very large it may be desirable to attend to this 
point in the first hewing. The object in giving the canoe a 
greater width at this part is, to give ease of motion in the 
water. The same principle that governs in the construction 
of larger vessels, and is seen in the shape of the duck or goose, 
applies to the shaping of a large canoe. A small canoe, for 
running deer, and designed to never carry more than two 
persons, may be curved with the same sharpness at both ends, 
and have no variation in its width. It may then be run either 
end foremost. A canoe made in this way, if narrow and very 
sharp, in skillful hands, may be one of the swiftest and most 
effective boats. Both ends of a well-made canoe are curved 
upward from the middle of the gunwale, and the stern rises a 
little from the line of the bottom. When the tree is sound 
(and none other should be used), a canoe may be worked 
very thin, and thus be so light as to be easily carried. With 
all these points in mind the canoe is hewn to nearly its final 
outside shape ; the inside is dug out with axes and an adze ; 
finally it is neatly and smoothly finished — on the outside 
with axe and draw-shave, and on the inside with a round 



BATEAUX. 129 

edged adze or howel. The tools required m making a log 
canoe are, a good common axe, a broad axe, a common adze, 
a howel or round adze, and a large draw-shave. A small 
auger is also desirable for gauging the thickness of the bottom 
by boring, and, if obtainable, a cross-cut saw saves labor. 

SPRUCE BARK CANOES. 

Rough, temporary canoes may be made of spruce or bass- 
wood bark, by simply folding the ends and sewing or nailing 
them together, adding gunwales and lining, putting in a few 
knees and cross-pieces, and smearing all the joints ^vith pitch. 

BATEAUX 

Are made of thin boards, nailed together in the form of a 
flat-bottomed boat. Select two boards that are sound and free 
from knots, and of a length and width equal respectively to the 
length and depth of the proposed boat. Set the boards up edge- 
wise, the width on the gunwale apart, and nail on a cross-piece 
midway between the ends. Then turn the boards over and, 
with a draw-shave, shape the other edges to a proper curve 
for the bottom. Next, nail a board across the middle of the 
bottom ; then bring the ends of the boards together and nail 
them to the bow and stern pieces. The bottom is then made 
by nailing boards crosswise, care being taken to give the sides 
a proper curve. After all the parts are put together, the 
joints are caulked and the bateau is then ready for use. 



SNOW-SHOES. 



The proper form of a snow-shoe and the mode of fastenmg 
it to the foot are shown in the ilkistration on the opposite page. 
The frame of the shoe should be made of ash or some other 
strong, elastic wood. The interlacing should be composed of 
strips of deer-skin, moose-skin, or untanned neat's hide. Two 
methods are followed in fastening the interlacing to the sides 
-or bow of the shoe. In one case the bow is firmly and closely 
wound with strips of skin, and the interlacing is fastened 
into the winding. In the other case the windino; is omitted 
and the interlacing is fastened through holes bored at regular 
intervals in the bow. Snow-shoes are indispensable to the 
trapper wherever deep snows prevail. 



OIL FOE FIRE-ARMS. 



The trapper should always be provided with oil for his guns. 
Probably the best kind he can use is purified neat's- foot oil. 
It is prepared in this way : Drop a few strips of lead or some 
shot into a bottle of the oil and then place it in the sun's rays. 
A heavy deposit will take place, filling the lower part of the 
bottle. The upper part becomes bright and limpid, and by a 
repetition of the process may be so ejBPectually purified that it 
will never be liable to viscidity. It is in this manner that 
watchmakers purify the oil used in lubricating their delicate 
machinery. Oil prepared from the fat of the Ruffled Grouse 
is also good for fire-arms when the above cannot be obtained. 



5 IT 





NARRATIVES. 

[In the first three of the following articles illustrating the trapper's life, 
we introduce to our readers the Hutchins family, the father and two sons 
— a trio of "mighty hunters." — Editors.] 



AN EVENING WITH AN OLD TRAPPER. 

Br W. A. HINDS. 



Of all story-tellers, give me those who have spent the 
greater portion of their Hves in hunting, fishing, and trapping ; 
who have lived for weeks on wild game ; who have tramped 
for months alone through the forests ; who have camped on 
green boughs, or kept themselves comfortable in deer-skins, 
when the thermometer was far below zero. Such men inspire 
me with a degree of respect like that entertained for all whose 
lives have been heroic. Soldiers of the w^oods, they have 
often endured hardships superior to those who have carried 
the knapsack in the open field. Though in many instances 
unfamiliar with books, they yet have a power of graphic and 
forcible description, seldom possessed by those who have made 
language their study. After conversing with them an hour, 
one feels as though he had himself encountered the bear and 
the panther, and been successful in hunting the otter and 
mink. 

It would be difficult to find, at least in the Eastern and 
Middle States, a better representative of this class than Mr. 
John Hutchins, now a resident of Manlius, N. Y. 

Born in Portland, Somerset County, Maine, November 16, 
1801, he is consequently now (1865) nearly sixty-four years 
of age ; but he is still " eager for the chase," and is plan- 
ning a trapping expedition into Canada for the coming au- 



132 NARRATIVES. 

tumn. For more than half a century, he has spent a por- 
tion of each year in trapping and hunting. In his tenth year 
he caught and shot seventy-three squirrels, six blue jays, one 
mink, one weasel, and six partridges. When fourteen years 
of age he caught a bear which had killed a cow in the neigh- 
borhood w^here he lived in Maine ; and he estimates the num- 
ber of animals which he has caught in traps, or otherwise 
destroyed, as follows : 100 moose ; 1000 deer ; 10 caribou ; 
100 bears ; 50 wolves ; 500 foxes ; 100 raccoons ; 25 wild 
cats ; 100 lynx ; 150 otter ; 600 beaver ; 400 fishers ; mink 
and marten by the thousands ; muskrats by the ten thousands. 

After reading the above list, no one will doubt his skill and 
wisdom in wood-craft, or question the probability of the advent- 
ures he relates. He is always ready to communicate to 
others what he has learned in his long life in the woods ; and 
he takes the same pleasure in recounting his adventures that 
the scar-worn soldier takes in telling of battles, sieges, and 
marches. On meeting Mr. Hutchins a short time since, in 
company with his son, I interrogated him in true Yankee 
style, as follows : — 

" In what part of the country have you trapped and 
hunted ? " 

*' Mostly in Maine, Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and 
New York, but some in Vermont and in Michigan." 

*^ At what seasons of the year do you generally trap ? " 

" I generally commence about the first of November, and 
trap till the first of April. There is no certainty of securing 
prime fur before the first of November, and but few kinds are 
good after the first of April. The three kinds — beaver, otter, 
and muskrat — are, however, good till the first of May ; and 
the fur of the otter is good even as late in the season as 
June." 

^' Do you generally go alone, or with companions ? " 

" I have trapped alone about one fourth of the time. It is 
generally more pleasant, but less profitable, to have compan- 
ions. When game is plenty, it answers well to have part- 
ners ; but I would recommend never to have more than two, 
and think it nearly always better to have only one compan- 
ion." 



AN EVENING WITH AN OLD TRAPPER. 133 

" How many animals have you generally taken on a win- 
ter's trip ? " 

" That depends, of course, entirely upon my fortune in 
securing good trapping ground. My son Samuel and I 
trapped one season in Upper Canada, and caught forty-seven 
beaver ; and the furs of other animals, which we caught at 
the same time, would bring as much money as that of the 
beaver. The best specimen of luck I ever had was in setting 
twenty-seven traps, and finding a mink, fisher, or marten in 
twenty-five of them. That was on my second trip to Can- 
ada."^ 

" How much money did you generally make ? " 

" That is another difficult question. I have made from 85 
to 875 a month." 

" Well, then, how much did you make in your best trip ? " 

" The best trip I ever made was forty years ago. I went 
out on Dead River, in the State of Maine. I was absent 
from home just one month (started December 3d, and re- 
turned January 3d) ; sold my fur for ninety-seven dollars, 
and fur was then very cheap. The same fur would now 
bring several hundred dollars. Two of us have often made 
8100 a month, or 850 apiece." 

" What do you take for an outfit ? " 

" A double-barrel gun ; a hatchet (I used to carry an axe, 
but now prefer the hatchet) ; a butcher-knife ; a pocket-knife ; 
a camp-kettle holding about six quarts ; a frying-pan ; a pint 
dipper or cup, and a spoon. I go lightly clad, never taking 
an overcoat, and only a single woolen blanket. For a win- 
ter's campaign, I take 40 lbs. flour, 10 lbs. pork, 6 qts. beans, 
5 lbs. sugar, and 1 lb. of tea. The two last items might be 
dispensed with. I have lived a week at a time in the woods, 
eating nothing but moose meat ; and Reuben Howard, a trap- 
per from Connecticut, says he has lived two months at a time 
on deer's meat alone." 

" If you were starting now, would n't you take some little 
conveniences for cooking and camping, beside those you have 
mentioned ? " 

" No ; the longer one lives the life of a hunter and trapper, 



184 NARRATIVES. 

the better he learns to get along with few conveniences, and 
the more desirous he becomes of avoiding luggage." 

" How man}^ traps do you take along ? " 

" When I first went trapping, I thought six or eight traps 
enough ; but steel-traps are so much better, and more easily 
tended than wooden traps and dead-falls, that I now take one 
hundred muskrat or mink traps — sometimes even one hun- 
dred and fifty — besides a few otter traps, and, if I am going 
into a beaver country, a dozen beaver traps." 

" But you can't take all these into the woods at once ? " 

" No ; I first select my trapping ground, and then ' make 
a line,' as trappers say ; i. e., carry into the woods three or 
four back-loads of traps, and deposit them in safe places along 
the line on which I intend to trap, which sometimes extends 
from twenty to forty miles, from one stream to another, or 
from one lake to another." 

" How many traps can one man tend ? " 

" That depends, of course, upon circumstances. Where 
game is plenty, fifty traps w^ill keep you skinning and stretch- 
ing ; but in other places you might tend one hundred and fifty 
or even two hundred traps." 

" How did you camp at night ? " 

" There is a good deal to be learned about camping out. 
When I go into the woods to trap for any length of time, I 
generally build a home-shanty of logs or bark. If I want to 
build one which will last three or four years, I make it of logs, 
notching or dovetailing the ends, and laying them up in block- 
house style, filling the cracks with moss, and making a roof 
of spht cedar or bark. Sometimes I make a shanty by simply 
driving down two crotched sticks, placing a pole on them, and 
sticking down poles all around excepting in front, and cover- 
ing them all over with spruce bark. When near the home- 
shanty I sleep there of course, but at other times I have no 
covering excepting a single blanket. I find a big log, and 
make my bed of boughs on that side of it least exposed to the 
wind. If the snow is deep, I select my camping-place on the 
hill-side, digging down to the ground to make a fire, and sleep- 
ing myself on the snow below, so that the blaze of the fire 



AN EVENING WITH AN OLD TRAPPER. 135 

will shine directly upon me. When travelling by water, I 
draw the boat on to the bank at night, partly turn it up, and 
sleep under it, building a fire a few feet distant in front. I 
generally have slept very soundly in the woods." 

" I have kept you answering questions a long time ; but I 
shall not leave fully satisfied unless you will give me an ac- 
count of some interesting adventures, of which you must have 
had many in your half-century's hunting and trapping." 

" My experiences have not been so thrilling as those related 
in many books ; besides, I am a poor hand to tell stories." 

" Tell him how you once nearly froze to death," said his 
son John, always pleased to hear his father repeat his advent- 
ures. 

" Well, then," replied Mr. Hutchins, who only waited for 
a little urging, " I will tell you of my 

ADVENTURE ON THE DEAD RIVER. 

" It must have taken place nearly forty years ago in the 
State of Maine. It was on my second long trapping expedi- 
tion. I went into the woods with one Captain John Churchill, 
a great trapper and hunter. After we had killed nine moose, 
we concluded that one of us had better return home and no- 
tify our friends and neighbors that they could have plenty of 
moose meat by coming into the woods after it. And so I 
started home for that purpose. We were then on the head- 
waters of the Androscoggin, about thirty miles from the head- 
waters of the Dead River, where our home-shanty was. The 
plan was for me to follow our line of traps, taking along what 
fur I found, and skinning and stretching it at the home-shanty, 
where I was to remain the first ni^ht. But instead of doins: 
so, I thought, on reaching the shanty, as the sun was still an 
hour and a half high, that I would leave the fur for Churchill 
to skin, and go on several miles further. It was fifteen mile? 
down the Dead River to Folsom's house, but I thought I 
could go about half way, to the place where Captain Churchill 
and I had camped when we went into the woods. So I 
tramped on. It was one of the cold, sharp, biting days in 
February, and the wind blew and the snow flew awfully. I 



136 NARRATIVES. 

got to the shanty about dark, and carefully collected a pile of 
dry sticks for kindling, spread my blanket in the comer, and 
prepared to have a comfortable night of it. Then I went to 
my knapsack to get my flint and steel to light my fire with, 
but they were missing. I searched every corner in vain, and 
finally concluded that I had left them back in camp. By this 
time it was dark, and piercing cold, and I hardly knew what 
to do. It was too late to think of returning to the camp, and 
I knew I should freeze to death if I remained where I was. 
So, after thinking it all over, I concluded to go on to Fol- 
som's. I thought if I could get to the river the ice would be 
strong enough to hold me, and it would be easier travelling, 
and a straight road. 

" I continued my course down the river until I came to a 
series of falls. Here the river was open, and I was obliged 
to leave the ice and travel on land until I got by the falls. 
After, as I thought, I had got by all danger, and supposing 
the ice strong enough to bear iije, I grasped an alder-bush and 
shd down on to the ice. But the ice was n't as strong as I had 
calculated, and so, instead of landing on solid bottom, I went 
straight through. I went in up to my neck, and was only 
saved from going completely under by the alder-bush, to which 
I still clung. I managed by dint of some maneuvering to dis- 
engage myself from my snow-shoes and knapsack. These, with 
my hatchet, I shoved from me on the ice. I then pulled my- 
self out and went on ; but before I had gone twenty rods my 
clothes were frozen stiff. I kept on for some distance further 
down stream, to where the river was not so rapid, and con- 
cluded to try the ice again. But I had no better luck than 
before. The ice gave way, and in I went again, just as I did 
before. I felt pretty bad, I can tell you, about that time ; 
but I managed to get out and go on again. The walking was 
so hard that I could n't help trying the ice once more. I 
ought to have known better, or at least taken better care, 
after getting in twice ; but somehow I did n't. I slid down on 
to the ice, and in an instant found myself in a little worse sit- 
uation than I had been before. The ice was nearly but not 
quite thick enough to bear me ; and I was so far from shore 



AN EVENING AVITH AN OLD TRAPPER. 137 

this time that I could not pull myself out. I floundered 
about among the broken ice and water for quite a little while ; 
but finally managed to relieve myself of my luggage some- 
what after the same manner as before. I then succeeded in 
reaching the shore, not in very good trim for travel either, 
for the ice, which had frozen on my clothes during my three 
quckings, made them very stiff and heavy. 

" In spite of all this I managed to get to Folsom's ; but 
here I had another disappointment. No one was there, and 
the fire was all out. Of course I could not stop, in the con- 
dition I was in, as I should have frozen to death in half an 
hour. The nearest house was at Reed's, fifteen miles further 
down the river, and there was no other way for me but to get 
there as soon as possible. 

" So I started down the river for Reed's. It was eleven or 
twelve o'clock at night, and I had a pretty hard time of it, but 
got there at last. Reed's house was on a hill ; and when I got 
to the foot of that great hill I could n't walk up it to save my 
life ; I had to crawl up on my hands and knees. Finally I 
got to the house and rapped at the door, and Reed came and 
opened it. I suppose I did look rather forlorn ; at any rate, 
he seemed almost frightened at first. ' For God's sake, 
Hutchins, is this you ? ' w^ere the first words he said. I 
explained my circumstances to him, and he took me into the 
house, built up a big fire and thawed me out, and then put 
me to bed, where I slept till the next day at noon, and then 
got up, feeling as well as usual, only a little stiff. 

" It was thirty miles from the place on the Androscoggin 
where I first started from, to our camp ; fifteen miles from 
there to Folsom's ; and fifteen miles fi'om Folsom's to Reed's, 
— in all sixty miles. I started from the Androscoggin at 
eight o'clock in the morning, and got to Reed's at half past 
three the next morning, making the whole sixty miles in nine- 
teen hours and a half. I think if I had allowed myself to be 
frightened or disheartened, I should have gone under ; but I 
kept up good heart, and came out all right." 



A YOUNG TRAPPER'S EXPERIENCE. 

By JOHN P. HUTCHINS.* 



My earliest recollections are of the forest. My father was 
an experienced hunter and trapper, and when I was but five 
years of age I accompanied him on one of his expeditions into 
the srreat Maine wilderness in search of game and fish. I 
have a dim recollection on that occasion of hooking on to a 
very large fish, and of being unable, with my slender strength, 
to get him into the boat in which I was seated. This childish 
disappointment made quite an impression upon me, and I used 
anxiously to look forward to the time when I should be a 
match for any of the beasts of the jvoods, or the fish in the 
waters. 

I was sufficiently old to endure the hardships of forest life, 
when my father took up his abode on the southern border of 
the <rreat New York forest, sometimes called " John Brown's 
Tract." There we prosecuted the business of trapping in 
earnest. We stretched a line of traps nearly forty miles in 
length directly into the heart of the wilderness, over rivers, 
mountains, lakes, and plains; and along this line we dili- 
gently trapped the otter, fisher, marten, mink, muskrat, and 
raccoon. 

To give an idea of the management of a practical trapper 
in the woods, I will describe in detail the operations by which 
we subsisted, and took our game while in the woods. 

As our line of traps was about forty miles in length, and 
of course involved a journey of eighty miles to and from our 
home, our outfit became at once a very important considera- 

* A member of the Oneida Community. 



A YOUNG TRAPPER'S EXPERIENCE. 13*9 

tion. In the first place, we must have enough to eat, and the 
means wherewith to cook our food ; and at the same time we 
must not overload ourselves with luggage, as every pound 
of our personal effects must be carried on our backs for long 
days, through a pathless w^ilderness. The object then was to 
secure the greatest amount of nutriment with the least possi- 
ble weight. 

And then, not only food, but other absolute necessaries 
must be provided. We must have the means for procuring 
fire, for securing game and fish, for taking and disposing of 
our furs, for keeping warm on a cold night, &c. ; all of which 
weigh down seriously, but can by no means be overlooked or 
omitted. 

I may as well here remark, that about one fifth of the lug- 
gage generally recommended by writers and book-makers who 
treat of life in the woods, as suitable fqr the hunter's or trap- 
per's outfit, will cover all his absolute wants. The remaining 
four fifths the old woodsman will consider as luxuries, if not 
superfluities. I suppose that, as a general thing, writers are 
not practical hunters or trappers, and this may account for the 
discrepancy I have mentioned. 

A trapper makes great account of his fire. Aside from its 
primary use in cooking his food, it oftentimes supplies the 
place of house and bedding. Some carry with them a light 
woolen blanket, but oftener the w^oodsman has only the earth 
for his resting-place, and the heavens for his counterpane, a 
sheltered nook, where the wind cannot blow too rudely, a few 
hemlock boughs for his bed, and a fire just in proportion to 
the temperature of the season. 

Aside from the necessar}^ supply of traps, the trapper's outfit 
can be reduced to about the following items : 

First. A basket or knapsack, to carry on his back, and 
large enough to hold provisions and other necessaries for the 
journey. 

Second. Eatables, consisting principally, or wholly, of pork 
and flour ; or, what is better on some accounts, a mixture of 
flour and Indian meal, in the proportion of two parts flour to 
one of meal. Add to this a little saleratus and a small bag 



140 NARRATIVES. 

of salt, and a man can carry food sufficient, with what game 
and fish he can procure, to last him a month. It is much 
easier to carry the flour into the woods and bake it as it is 
wanted, than to attempt to use bread already baked, as it is 
lighter and less bulky. When the woodsman wishes for 
bread, he mixes the flour in a basin of warm water, adds a 
little saleratus and salt, and bakes it in his frying-pan, or if 
that is not at hand, on a chip. 

Third. Cooking utensils, namely, a small frying-pan, two 
tin basins of the capacity of one and two quarts respectively, 
and a small tin cup for drinking. 

Fourth. Implements for general use, namely, an axe, gun, 
knife, and pocket-compass. 

Lastly, and above all, a good supply of matches. 

Every trapper should have a companion to assist him, as 
the same gun, axe, and cooking utensils will suffice for both, 
and it is much less labor for two than for one to carry them. 

When the business of trapping is prosecuted on the borders 
of lakes and large streams, much hard labor is saved by the 
use of a boat. Those who make free use of boats are more 
lavish in their outfit, as the labor of transportation is there- 
by very much reduced. I suspect that Mr. Newhouse has 
been more familiar with this method than myself; and this 
may account for any apparent discrepancy between us in 
respect to outfit. 

When I began life as a trapper, I lived, as I have said, with 
my father, on the southern border of the great New York 
wilderness ; so that our line of traps commenced not far from 
our home. This line was by degrees extended further and 
further into the forest, until it had reached the limit beyond 
which the provisions we could carry would not hold out. We 
began by carrying our traps into the woods, and distributing 
them along our intended line before the trapping season began ; 
so that when the time arrived that fur was suitable for market, 
we should have only to set our traps and bait them. At the 
proper season we would shoulder our packs, containing as 
much provisions as we could comfortably carry, and commence 
carefully setting and baiting our traps. This process was con- 



A YOUNG TRAPPER'S EXPERIENCE. 141 

tinued as long as our provisions would allow, and then we 
would return on the same line, examining our traps, skinning 
the animals taken, and stretching their furs. After a short 
interval, this process was repeated, and kept up while the 
season lasted. 

Our usual course was, to follow rivers and streams, and 
visit all the lakes in the vicinity of our line. When following 
streams, or the shores of the lakes, we would trap the beaver,' 
otter, mink, and muskrat ; and when our line extended over 
land and away from the water, we took the marten, fisher, and 
raccoon. 

Our methods of setting and baiting traps, and our contriv- 
ances for circumventing animals, were generally very much 
like those recommended by Mr. Newhouse, and need not be 
detailed. 

In the course of my trapping experience I had considerable 
practice in taking the fisher, and became somewhat familiar 
with its ways. This is a very pretty creature, with glossy 
black fur, and a long bushy tail. But, like the cat, it has a 
temper that is not so mild and agreeable as its appearance 
might indicate ; nor does the close embrace of one of New- 
house's traps tend to mollify it at all. It frequently makes sad 
havoc with the trap and its appurtenances, and sometimes gets 
away after being fairly caught. I well remember a trying 
experience I had wnth one of these animals in the North 
Woods. I had seen his tracks, and had carefully set my trap 
with all the usual fixings and fastenings, in full faith in his 
ultimate capture. But on going to the place the next day, 
trap and chain were clean gone, and all fixings demolished. 
The fisher had been there, and had been caught, but instead 
of submitting handsomely to his fate, had gone and robbed 
me of a good Newhouse trap. (It was not Newhouse's fault.) 
He was a very large animal, and the spring-pole was not 
strong enough to swing him clear off the ground. So after 
demolishing the inclosure in which the trap was set, and mak- 
ing a general smash of things around, he threw himself upon 
the end of the pole, actually gnawed it off below where the 
ring was fastened, and left for parts unknown. How he 



H2 NARRATIVES. 

finally disposed of the valuables he carried off, or whether he 
drew them about for the rest of his life, is left for conjecture. 
I have long since abandoned the woods, and my trapper's 
life seems like a dream of the past ; and yet I look back to it 
as a long and pleasant dream, despite of its many hardships 
and privations. In entering the woods I seemed to leave 
behind the jostlings and heartaches of crowded society — the 
great " torn " in which mankind are tumbling and chafing — 
and went forth into the freedom and peace of undisturbed 
Nature. 



THE DEER HUNT. 

FROM SAMUEL S. HUTCHINS'* JOURNAL. 



Oct. 21, 1860. — We caught a deer to-day, and I am 
going to tell yon all about it ; for we had a lively time, I 
assure yon. 

It was one of those* still, cloudy mornings yon see so often 
at this time of year. We rose early, got our breakfast, did up 
our chores, and then started for the lake to hunt deer. We 
found the lake as calm and smooth as glass. Father took the 
large boat and went up to the head of the lake to start the dog, 
and I took the small boat and started down the lake for the 
" point," to watch for the deer. After getting there I climbed 
up into a tree, so that I could have a good view of the lake, 
and listened for the dog. After staying there some time, the 
wind began to rise, and I was cold, and began to think that 
we should hardly get a deer that day. So I came down out of 
the tree and begun stirring about to get warm, when I heard 
the dog away off on the hills. I stopped for a moment to see 
which way the chase was going, and came to the conclusion 
that they were coming around the head of the lake, and so 
on down to where I was. I then got up into the tree again, 
to await the result. I waited about an hour, I should think, 
watching the upper part of the lake most of the time, think- 
ing the deer would be most likely to come in there. On look- 
ing, however, in the other direction, behold there was the 
deer, swimming for life. It was a buck, and a large one too. 
He was about half-way across the lake, and half a mile from 
where I was. I did not stand there and look at him long, I 

* This young man was a soldier in the late war, and came home from McClellan's 
peninsular campaign, with wounds and diseases that caused his death in the fall of 
1864. 



144 NARRATIVES. 

reckon. Down I came, twenty feet at two jumps, hurting my 
shins most wofully on the Hmbs, and my nose on the stones 
where I landed ; but I picked myself up and got into my 
boat. Then commenced the chase. But let me describe 
the boat in which I was, so that you can better appreciate the 
fun. It is just eleven feet long, and sixteen inches wide, and 
scarcely heavier than an egg-shell, (poetic license,) and will 
upset a great deal easier. It was made from a bass-wood log, 
and well made too, and is what is commonly called a " dug- 
out." I had to stand on my knees in the middle, and had a 
double paddle, which is just like a common one, only it has a 
blade on each end. Thus equipped I started the chase, with 
the wind in my favor, and with the firm intention of catching 
the buck if I possibly could. He was a good half mile ahead 
of me, and had not so far as that to go to get to shore ; and 
I could see that he swam furiously. I had no weapons to slay 
him with. My duty was to get around him, and drive him 
up the lake to father, who, when he saw me start out, I ex- 
pected, would come and meet me and help kill him. So away 
I went, exerting every nerve and muscle ; shot around the 
point, and was out at sea in " no time ; " kept my eye on the 
deer, and took a course that would cut him off from the shore 
that he was swimming for. For a long while I went thus, 
with the wind in my favor, sometimes thinking that I should 
overhaul him, and then again that I should not. Finally I 
saw that I was gaining on him a little ; but I knew that I 
must do more than that, if I wanted to catch him ; so I re- 
doubled my efforts. " Pull, Sam ! " I muttered, " you must 
overhaul him, anyhow ; " and so I did. After a long and hard 
pull I came up to him. When he saw me he turned square off 
from me, and swam almost as fast again as he did before. 
When I came about, side to the wind, to follow him, my little 
boat dipped water at every wave. But I stopped not for that. 
I wanted to run in beside him once more, and turn him toward 
the opposite shore ; but I found that it was somewhat harder 
to do so than I expected. I laid out all my strength. You 
could have heard me puff half a mile off, if you had been 
within that distance. I could see that 1 gained on him, but 



THE DEER HUXT. 145 

very slowly. He sees that I am coming too near hmi, and he 
makes a short turn and swims for the middle of the lake — just 
where I wanted him to go, exactly ! When I found he was 
safe, I dropped my paddle and shouted lustily for joy. Fa- 
ther came in a few minutes, and dispatched him, but not with- 
out a desperate battle. He fired three charges of buck-shot 
into his head, struck him more than forty blows with a hatchet, 
and only succeeded in killing him by getting hold of his legs 
separately and hamstringing him, after w^hich he could raise 
his head sufficiently to cut his throat. He was an old buck of 
the toughest kind, and weighed three hundred pounds. 

10 



MUSKRAT HUNTING. 

By henry THACKER.* 



In the winter of 1844-5, I made two or three excursions 
from the city of Chicago into the neighboring wild regions for 
the purpose of spearing and trapping muskrats. At this dis- 
tance of time I shall hardly be able to give from memory a 
very accurate account of those excursions ; but I enjoyed 
them so well, and they made such vivid impressions on my 
mind, that I can at least give an outhne of them, and shall 
recall as I proceed many interesting incidents. 

The first thing I did, by way of preparation for the cam- 
paign, was to procure a suitable spear, which was simply a rod 
of round steel, three eighths of an inch in diameter, and three 
feet long, nicely pointed and polished at one end, and at the 
other driven firmJy into a ferruled wooden handle, also about 
three feet long. The next thing (and a very important one) 
was to provide a pair of mufflers, made of old carpeting, to be 
drawn on over my boots. Lastly I harnessed myself into a 
knapsack suitable for carrying provisions, game, &c. Thus 
equipped, I put on my skates one morning, as soon as I found 
the ice strong enough to bear me up, and started up the north 
branch of the Chicago River for Mud Lake — a small sheet 
of water about twelve miles distant, surrounded by extensive 
marshes — a noted place, not only for the habitation of the 
muskrat and mink, but for the gathering in the spring and 
fall of the year of multitudes of almost every variety of wild 
ducks, geese, and other w^ater-fowl. 

Here let me describe the character and situation of this 

* A member of the Oneida Community. 



TRACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 147 

marsh and lake. The lake proper is a narrow sheet of water, 
from ten to twenty-five rods wide, and two or three miles in 
length. The water is from three to ten feet deep, and the soft 
mud at the bottom probably a great deal deeper. This lake 
seems to have two outlets flowing in opposite directions ; one 
toward Chicago, being the principal head-waters of the south 
branch of the river which forms the harbor of Chicago ; the 
other in the opposite direction, emptying into the Oplain 
River, which is among the head-waters of the Illinois River. 
I was told that at the time of the high water in June of that 
year (1844), schooners from Lake Michigan could easily have 
passed through this lake and marsh, into the Oplain, and so 
down the Illinois River to the Mississippi. 

But to return to my story : on arriving at the marsh I 
found the ice strong enough to bear my weight, and quite 
transparent. A sight was here presented that I had never 
seen before. I cannot describe the view better than by liken- 
ing it to a large meadow covered with hay-cocks, so thickly 
was the marsh before me studded with muskrat houses. 

These structures are built up of flag-tops, roots, mud, and 
sea-weed, or water-grass, to the height and size of a hay-cock ; 
and in them the muskrats live through the winter and spring. 
They generally commence their houses on a place where the 
water is one or two feet deep, and build it up entirely solid, 
to the height of three to five feet above the water, cutting 
out channels diverging in different directions from the house, 
and using the materials thus displaced in strengthening the 
foundation of the house. These channels are used as run- 
ways by the rats, in going back and forth between the house 
and their feeding- beds, during winter. After the superstruct- 
ure is finished a hole is cut from underneath, up into the cen- 
tre of the house, forming a nest just above the water, leaving 
ample room for a second story in case of a flood. 

I now made preparation to enter upon the business of my 
excursion, that of spearing muskrats. I was not long in put- 
ting on my mufflers and getting ready for the onslaught ; and, 
as this was my first attempt at spearing, I was full of enthu- 
siasm. With feelings of interest and excitement, I marched 



148 NARRATIVES. 

■up to a large house very cautiously (for, with the least jar or 
crack of the ice, away goes your game), and, with uplifted 
spear, made ready for a thrust. I hesitated. There was a 
difficulty I had not taken into account ; I knew not where to 
strike. The chances of missing the game were apparent, but 
there was no time to be lost ; so bang ! went the spear into a 
hard, frozen mass, penetrating it not more than three or four 
inches, and away went the game in every direction. With 
feelings of some chagrin I withdrew my spear, and began feel- 
ing about for a more vulnerable spot, which I was not long 
in detecting. It being a cold, freezing day, I discovered an 
accumulation of white frost on a certain spot of the house, 
and putting my spear on the place I found it readily entered. 
The mystery was solved at once ; this frost on the outside of 
the house was caused by the breath and heat of the animals 
immediately beneath it, and it was generally on the southeast 
side of the centre of the house, this being the warmest side. 
Acting on these discoveries, I made another trial, and was 
successful ; and now the sport began in good earnest . When- 
ever I made a successful thrust, I would cut a hole through 
the wall of the house with my hatchet, and take out the game, 
close up the hole, and start for another house. The remain- 
ing members of the famil}^ would soon return, and immedi- 
ately set about repairing the breach. I sometimes succeeded 
in pinning two rats at one thrust. I also became quite expert 
in taking game in another way, as follows : Whenever I 
made an unsuccessful thrust into a house, the rats would dive 
into the water through their paths or run-ways, and disappear 
in all directions. I now found I could easily drive my one- 
tined spear through the ice two inches thick, and pin a rat 
with considerable certainty, which very much increased the 
sport, and I was not long in securing a pile of fifteen or 
twenty rats. 

Here I made a discovery of what, until now, had been a 
mystery to me, namely, how a muskrat managed to remain so 
long a time in the water under the ice without drowning. 
The muskrat, I perceived, on leaving his house inhaled a full 
breath, and would then stay under water as long as he could 



TRACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 149 

without breathing ; when he would rise up with his nose 
against the ice, and breathe out his breath, which seemed to 
displace the water, forming a bubble. I could distinctly see 
him breathe tliis bubble in and out several times, and then 
dive again. In this way I have chased them about under the 
ice for some time before capturing them. I do not know how 
long tlie muskrat could live under the ice, but I have heard 
of their having been seen crossing large bays and rivers under 
the ice, live miles from shore. I saw a man in Illinois who 
told me he chased two otters under the ice for three quarters 
of an hour, trying to kill them with his axe, and finally lost 
them ; which goes to show that these animals, as well as the 
muskrat, can live under the ice a long time. 

As I frequently speared the muskrat on his feeding-bed, 
and subsequently found it to be the best and surest place to 
set a trap for him, I Avill, for the benefit of the novice, under- 
take to describe one as found in the marshes. A feeding-bed 
is a place where the muskrat goes to feed, generally at night, 
and is frequently many rods from his house. Here he selects 
a place where his food is convenient, and by the aid of the 
refuse material of the roots, &c., which he carries here for 
food, he elevates himself partly out of water, in a sort of hut. 
Here he sits and eats his food, and at the slightest noise, or 
least appearance of danger, disappears in an instant under 
water. In the winter these feeding-places are readily discov- 
ered by a bunch of wadded grass, flag, or some other mate- 
rial, about the size of a man's hat, protruding above the ice. 
This little mound is hollow, and is only large enough for a 
single rat, where he sits and eats his food, with his lower parts 
in the water. When the rats were disturbed in their house, 
I found they generally fled to these feeding-huts, where they 
were, almost a certain mark for the spearman. 

Finding I had taken as many rats as I could conveniently 
strip before they became frozen, I set about the work of skin- 
ning, and after an hour and a half of pretty cold work, I 
bagged my skins, put on my skates, and started for the city, 
well satisfied with my first day's excursion. 

In my next excursion, not many days after, to the same 



150 NARRATIVES. 

place, I had still better success. As the ice had now become 
too thick to be easily penetrated by my spear, I adopted, in 
part, a different mode of taking the game. This time I car- 
ried with me, in addition to my spear, two dozen steel-traps, 
and a bundle of willow sticks (cut on the way) about three 
feet long. On arriving at the hunting grounds I prepared my- 
self for the day's sport by putting on my mufflers, and with 
traps and willow sticks slung upon my back, began the work 
by driving my spear into the first house I came to. I could 
not now see the rats as they fled from the house, on account 
of the thickness of the ice and a slight snow that lay upon it. 
Consequently the sport of spearing them through the ice was 
cut off. But as often as I had occasion to cut through the 
walls of the house to take out my game, I set a steel-trap in 
the nest, slipped a willow stick through the ring of the chain, 
laid it across the hole, slightly stopped it up, and then passed 
on to the next house ; and so on, until my traps were all gone. 
I then started back to the place of beginning, driving my 
spear into every feeding-hut in my course, and killing many 
rats. Finally, I began going over the ground again, first 
driving my spear into a house, then examining the trap, taking 
out the game, and re-setting the trap. In this course I was 
quite successful. I found by setting the trap in the right 
place, near the edge, and a little under the water, I was al- 
most certain to take the first rat that returned. In making 
two or three rounds in this way, I found the rats became some- 
what disturbed, and sought temporary shelter elsewhere : 
when I would move to a new place, giving them time to re- 
cover from their fright. 

I think this a very profitable method of trapping the musk- 
rat, especially in an open winter. It very much lengthens 
the season of trapping, which is quite an important considera- 
tion with the trapper. Another consideration is, the trapper 
may set his traps and allow them to remain many days, if not 
convenient to go to them, and be sure his fur will take no 
harm ; as the rat on being caught in the trap dives into the 
water, and is soon drowned, and will not spoil for a long time 
at this season of the year, and is also secure from frost. 



TRACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 151 

I will here state that I found a miiskrat house to contain 
from four to nine rats. I have caught as many as nine from 
one house. Possibly some may contain a greater number than 
this. I concluded that these colonies must be the progeny of 
a single rat in one season, or for aught I know, at a single 
litter. 

In these winter excursions, I sometimes captured several 
minks, which I found somewhat different from the mink of the 
Eastern States, being much larger, and of a lighter brown 
color and coarser fur. I sometimes found them occupying 
muskrat houses, from which they had driven or destroyed the 
muskrats, of the flesh of which they are very fond. They are 
a gross-feeding, carnivorous animal. I have found stored up 
in muskrat houses which they inhabited, from a peck to half 
a bushel of fish, in all stages of decay, and some freshly 
caught and alive : which is good evidence that they are not 
only gross-feeders, but good fishers also. I was most success- 
ful in taking the mink in steel-traps, baiting with muskrat- 
flesh or fish, and setting my traps about the marshes, and 
along the banks of streams and rivers. A mink will seldom 
pass a bait without taking or smelling at it ; and by placing 
the bait a little beyond the trap, in such a position that he 
must pass over the trap in order to reach it, you are pretty 
sure of him. I also caught them by setting the trap in the 
mouth of their dens and in hollow logs, and sometimes en- 
joyed the sport of digging them out of the river-bank. 

In setting my traps for mink and raccoon, I was somewhat 
annoyed by the prairie wolf taking the bait, but still more by 
the skunks getting into the traps. The country at this time 
abounded with these animals. They seemed to be nearly as 
plenty as the minks. I have sometimes found as many as 
two or three in my traps on a morning. It was an easy 
matter enough to dispatch one, but to do it and not get my 
trap scented was not so easy. (Here let me say, I never 
knew one caught in a trap to discharge at all, until disturbed 
by the approach of man.) After trying several unsuccessful 
plans, I hit upon one that I thought would do the business. 
Putting a tremendous charge of powder and ball into my rifle, 



152 KARRATIVES. 

I approached my antagonist as near as I could without draw- 
ing his fire ; and placing the muzzle of my rifle within three 
feet of his head, blazed away, and blew his head clean off". I 
approached the carcass for the purpose of taking off" my trap, 
(congratulating myself on my good success), when he made 
a sudden convulsive movement, and, oh horror ! such a dis- 
charge of the genuine article, no man ever saw or smelt ! 
However, by a quick movement I escaped the charge myself, 
but my trap, as usual, was thoroughly perfumed. I soon had 
an opportunity to try again, and this time I succeeded, by the 
following device. Watching my opportunity when the skunk 
turned his eyes from me, I dealt him a heavy blow across the 
back with a long club, and immediately loosened the trap from 
oif his leg. In this way I ever after managed to keep clear 
from scent, with a single exception, which occurred as fol- 
lows : — 

In one of my excursions, accompanied by another person, 
the dog scented something under the floor of an old shanty, 
which we concluded must be a mink ; so at it we went tear- 
ing up the floor, to give the dog a chance to get at the animal. 
Up came one plank after another in quick succession, when 
all at once the dog made a tremendous lunge right into the 
midst of a nest of seven nearly full grown skunks. In less 
than a minute the atmosphere was blue with the most horrible 
stench ever encountered by human olfactories. The dog was 
soon nearly choked and blinded by the showers of stifling 
spray that met him at every charge, and, for the time be- 
ing, all were obliged to beat a hasty retreat into the open 
air. But as we were all now fairly in for it, we concluded 
to make another charge and finish up the work we had so 
enthusiastically begun ; and, armed each with a long club, we 
returned to the fray, and, with the help of the dog, soon 
despatched the foe, and retreated to the windward to get clear 
of the stench. But it was of no use. I seemed to be scented 
through and through ; my very breath seemed to be hot with 
the terrible miasma; and for several days I could scarcely 
+aste or smell any thing but skunk. This was my most seri- 
en counter with the skunk family, though I continued to 



THACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 153 

be annoyed by their getting into my traps ; and once, at the 
suggestion of a fur-dealer that their skins were worth fifty 
cents apiece, undertook the job of saving a lot ; but after 
skinning five, gave up the business in disgust. 

Mvnext excursion was a short but rather excitino; one. In 
consequence of a slight thaw a day or two previous to my 
setting out, the skating on the river was nearly spoiled. I 
was therefore obliged to travel most of the way on land, 
and on foot, taking nearly all day to get to my place of des- 
tination. I put up for the night at a tavern a mile or tAvo 
from the part of tlie marsh where I intended to trap, which 
was at the end opposite to the theatre of my previous excur- 
sions, and near the Oplain River. The next morning, after 
breakfast, I started out for the hunt, and, on arriving at the 
marsh, to my surprise not a muskrat house could be seen, with 
the exception of the very tops of three or four. The rest 
were all under water and the water frozen over. At first 
I was unable to divine the cause of this unusual rise in the 
water ; but subsequently ascertained that an ice-dam had 
formed in the river three fourths of a mile below, in conse- 
quence of the breaking up of the ice above, and had set the 
water back over this part of the marsh to the depth of nearly 
four feet. The muskrats were completely drowned out ; and 
I now saw them huddled together in numerous squads upon 
the newly-formed ice all over the marsh, having already 
brought up portions of their submerged dwellings, with which 
they had built up slight walls to shelter themselves from the 
cold northwest wind. 

This was an exciting scene to the trapper — a multitude 
of his game in full view ! I became almost nervous with ex- 
citement. But how to get at them was the question. On 
going down to the water, I found it scarcely frozen along the 
shore, though it looked firmer farther out. To be sure I 
could reach many of the muskrats with my rifle ; but what 
was the use, if I could not get them after I had killed them ? 
However, something must be done. I could n't stand this 
sight anyhow. I set about devising some plan by which I 
might reach the game in person. • A half dozen plans were 



154 NARRATIVES. 

presented to my mind in as many minutes. One plan was to 
place a board on the ice, get on it, and shove myself along by 
placing the point of my sharp spear on the ice ; but, on fur- 
ther consideration, I concluded this would be too slow an 
operation. If I succeeded in getting out on the ice, the rats 
could easily keep out of my way, as I should not be able to 
leave my board. Another plan was to fasten a piece of board 
a foot square to each foot ; but, on further thought, this plan 
was also abandoned as being unsafe. Although the water did 
not exceed four feet in depth down to the old ice, yet, in case 
I broke through, the boards might operate to keep my heels 
up and my head down. I now determined to test the real 
strength of the ice ; and, procuring a piece of slab twelve or 
fourteen feet long, I shoved it off on the ice. Leaving one 
end resting on the shore and walking out on this, I stepped 
off upon the ice. It barely held my weight, and soon began 
to settle, so that the water came upon the ice. However, I 
came to the conclusion that if I could get upon the ice with 
my skates on and keep constantly under pretty good headway, 
it would hold me up. Stripping off all extra clothing, and 
laying aside every unnecessary weight, I strapped on my 
skates, and, with spear in hand, launched forth in pursuit of 
the game. The ice bent and waved before me ; but I glided 
swiftl}^ on, and in less than a minute was among the musk- 
rats. 

I now discovered that the rats kept a hole open through the 
ice, right above their house ; and, before I got within striking 
distance, they dove into the water and disappeared. I could 
hear them snuffing up against the ice, but could not see them 
on account of a slight sprinkling of snow which covered the 
ice. As soon as I left for another place, they would come up 
again through the holes on the ice. I saw that, in order to 
get a chance to strike them, I must wait at the holes for them 
to return for a fresh supply of air. This I found rather 
tedious, as I was obliged to keep constantly in motion, run- 
ning in a circuit around the hole, on account of the weakness 
of the ice. In this way I would have to wait several minutes, 
and, when one did return to breathe, he was so very quick I 



THACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 155 

found it difficult to hit him ; and I also found, where the holes 
were not a great way apart, that when I went to one hole the 
rats would dive and swim to another. This would not do. I 
must try another expedient ; and, returning to the shore, I 
took from my knapsack a dozen steel-traps and a handful of 
willow sticks, threw them on the ice, and then started back. 
Picking up in my course as many traps and sticks as I could 
carry without increasing my weight too much, I distributed 
them around the holes. And now lively work commenced. 
Taking a trap and stick in my hand, while under headway, I 
set the trap, slipped the willow stick through the ring of the 
chain, dropped it on the ice, placed the trap in the little cuddy 
where the rats huddled together, and passed on to the next 
without scarcely making a stop. This plan was a successful 
one. Frequently, before I reached the next hole, a rat would 
be caught in the trap I had just left, and, diving into the 
water, would be brought up at the length of the chain by the 
stick sliding across the hole, and in this condition would soon 
drown himself I now had as much business as I could attend 
to, taking out the game, re-setting my dozen traps, carrying 
the game to the land, &c. You may be sure I played back 
and forth in a lively manner. I however discovered that the 
ice became much weakened by passing over it several times. 
Consequently I was under the necessity of moving to new 
places occasionally, to avoid breaking through. In fact, I 
found there was only a small part of the marsh where the ice 
was sufficiently strong to hold me up at all ; and the weather, 
moderating after the middle of the day, weakened the ice so 
much that I fell through several times, getting my clothes 
wet and boots full of water ; which so much increased my 
weight that I was soon obliged to abandon the field altogether. 
I had, however, by this time secured a good pile of rats, and, 
on the whole, had had one of the most exciting day's sport I 
ever enjoyed. 

The weather now continued to moderate, and there were 
evident signs of the breaking up of winter, and the opening 
of spring. In two or three days from this time, wild ducks 
and geese began to gather about the marshes. I now began 



156 NARRATIVES. 

active preparations for a spring's campaign of trapping. Dur- 
ing the winter two small trapping boats had been made, and 
a tent, camp-kettles, and other "fixings" had been got in 
readiness ; and on about the twentieth of February, in com- 
pany with E , I set out. We launched our little crafts 

and commenced the campaign by scattering over the marsh 
one hundred and ten steel-traps, with open jaws, ready for 
the fur-clad inhabitants. The weather being favorable and 
the water steady, we made havoc among the muskrats and 
minks ; and as this was a noted place for game, especially for 
muskrat, mink, and raccoon, we soon had competition in the 
business. In the course of three or four days, three other 
trappers stopped in the same vicinity, and commenced opera- 
tions. But as they were strangers from a distance, we had 
decidedly the advantage, as we understood the ground, having 
previously pretty thoroughly reconnoitered the marshes in this 
section. The game being plenty, we found work enough to 
keep us busy, and for several succeeding days caught more 
rats than we could find time through the day to skin. 

However, our good success was of comparatively short dur- 
ation. In the course of ten or fifteen days, we found ourselves 
confronted by a pretty serious difficulty in the way of success- 
ful operations. As the previous summer had been remarkable 
for its long continuous rains and great flood, we now had the 
opposite state of things — continuous dry weather ; and having 
had scarcely any rain the fall previous, nor snow during the 
winter, spring found the water in the rivers and marshes 
unusually low. As the weather continued fair, the March 
winds dried up the marshes so fast, that we soon found it dif- 
ficult to get around with our boats, and finally were obliged to 
leave them altogether and take to the rivers, in order to con- 
tinue our sport. We now found our chance for sport much 
reduced. The high water the previous spring and summer, 
overflowing the river-banks for so long a time, either prevent- 
ed the rats breeding, or drowned their young, so that we found 
the game rather scarce. We however ascended the Oplain 
River some twenty or thirty miles. Our way was to string 
our traps along the banks, three or four miles at a setting, and 



THACKER'S EXCURSIONS. 157 

then return to camp. The next day we would overhaul and 
re-set, if we found the game plenty enough to warrant it. 
If not, we would take up the traps and make another stretch, 
and so on. 

On returning several days subsequently to our old hunting- 
grounds, we found the muskrats had somewhat recovered 
from the fright we had given them by our sudden and terrible 
onslaught, and had returned from the inaccessible parts of the 
marsh to which they had fled for refuge, and we made several 
more successful sets. 

The weather had now become mild, and the marshes liter- 
ally swarmed with ducks, and geese, and other water-fowl. 
Any one not familiar with this section of country can have 
no idea of the numbers of water-fowl that gather about these 
lakes and marshes in the spring and fall of the year. As we 
moved about in our little boats among the tall reeds and flags 
of the marsh, our fire-arms were always at hand, ready to 
bring down a duck or a goose that happened to pass within 
reach. We fared sumptuously every day. Our daily bill of 
fare consisted of roast goose, roast duck, prairie chicken, plov- 
er, pike, bass, cat-fish, bull-heads, &c., &c., together with 
coffee, hard biscuit, butter, and occasionally a meal of duck 
and goose eggs. This was what we called high living ; and 
as we seldom found time for more than two meals a day, we 
were prepared to dispatch them with a relish that no one but 
a trapper can realize. 

E did not seem to enter into the business with as much 

enthusiasm as myself, and having a family in the city, fre- 
quently found occasion to go home, and sometimes staid away 
two or three days. This made the work not quite so pleasant 
for me, as I enjoyed the sport much better when we were to- 
gether. However, I got along very well ; and the croaking 
of frogs, the peeping of lizards, quacking of ducks and geese, 
crowing of prairie chickens, the loud cries of the great sand- 
hill cranes, and the almost incessant howling and yelping of 
prairie wolves, were all music to my ears. On the whole, I 
enjoyed the situation exceedingly. 

One day as I was pushing my little boat along through the 



158 NARRATIVES. 

tall reeds, I saw at a distance something unusual on the top 
of a muskrat house. As it was lying flat, almost hidden from 
view, I at first sight took it to be an otter, as we had killed 
one some time previous near the same place. As usual at 
the sight of game, my rifle was quick as thought brought to 
bear, and away sped the bullet, and over tumbled a large wild 
goose, making a great splashing as she fell into the water. 
On examination I found she had a nest of seven eggs, all 
fresh. The goose weighed fourteen pounds and a half. The 
same day I found another nest with several eggs, and took 
them to a farmer who was anxious to get them to hatch " at 
the halves." He placed the eggs under a hen ; but a few 
days before they were ready to hatch, my ever-present ene- 
my, the skunk, ate up hen, eggs, and all, to the great sorrow 
and indignation of the farmer. He said the young geese 
would have been worth five dollars a pair. 

The weather still continued dry, and as we did not find 
game very plenty in the rivers, we concluded to wind up the 
trapping business, after having spent about six weeks in steady 
employment. We now collected our furs, and found we had 
caught seven hundred muskrats, sixty minks, a number of 
raccoons, and one otter ; for which we found a ready market 
at good prices. Thus ended my first, and most interesting 
trapping campaign. 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 

By CHARLES S. JOSLYN* 



It was a pleasant June evening when I first approached 
the southern boundary of the great New York wilderness. I 
had been an amateur sportsman from my earliest youth ; and 
my fondness for the woods was, and has always been, quite 
inexpugnable. My feelings, therefore, w^hen I came in full 
view of the long, dark line of primitive forest in the distance, 
were so exhilarating as to require some vent. 

" Farewell, vain world ! " said I, unconsciously breaking 
into a sort of monologue ; " adieu to the pomp and glitter and 
artificiality of the thing they call society ! Welcome, Nature, 
pure and unadulterated, fresh from the hand of the Creator ! " 

I was here interrupted by a smothered laugh from my com- 
panion, who had overheard the close of this rhapsody, which, 
in the exuberance of my feelings, I had uttered in a more 
elevated tone. Sewall Newhouse was a practiced woodsman, 
keen and shrewd, and well versed in the lore of the forest, 
but without much imagination or poetry in his composition. 

" Wait awhile," said he, in his peculiar, dry way. " Don't 
be in a hurry about these things. Perhaps you will find 
some things in ' John Brown's Tract ' that you don't calcu- 
late on. Besides, as it is getting dark, and w^e are several 
miles from the woods, we shall have to get one more night's 
lodging out of ' society,' as you call it, before we say good 
by to it." 

The force of the latter consideration was quite irresistible, 
and had the immediate effect to postpone my enthusiasm for 
the time. 

* A member of the Oneida Community. 



160 NARRATIVES 

It was after nightfall, when we succeeded in obtaining a 
lodging in the loft of a dilapidated farm-house, whose owner 
reluctantly consented to receive us. The accommodations 
were none of the choicest, and, accustomed as I was to clean 
sheets, soft beds, and other amenities of civilization, the gen- 
eral slovenliness of our dormitory, and the unyielding nature 
of our couch, were not at all conducive to repose. New- 
house, however, manifested an exemplary stoicism, and con- 
soled me with the assurance that this was but a foretaste of 
what was in store for us. 

The meagre amount of sleep which I enjoyed, and the 
general uncomfortableness of my surroundings, were favor- 
able to early rising ; and so we began our march soon after 
daylight the next morning. Our baggage had been sent 
ahead on horseback, so that we had but our guns to carry ; 
and in the freshness of early morning, the hour's walk which 
brought us to the border of the woods seemed a brief one. 
A fence built directly across our path announced that we had 
reached the verge of civilization ; and climbing this, in another 
moment we were within the precincts of the forest. 

My first sensation was that of sublimity. An intense thrill 
of delight pervaded my whole being, and I almost involun- 
tarily commenced repeating the opening stanzas of " Evan- 
geline : " 

" This is the forest primeval," &c. 

My second sensation, which almost instantly dissipated the 
first, was that of mosquitoes — not the comparatively mild 
and inoffensive insect of pohte society, but the savage and 
blood-thirsty vampire of the North Woods. Most of us have 
had experience with mosquitoes, and are more or less ac- 
quainted with the nature of the insect ; but the mosquito of 
civilization no more resembles the mosquito of John Brown's 
Tract, than the bear trained to waltz to the music of the 
hurdy-gurdy resembles the untamed grizzly of the Sierra 
Nevada. 

But thanks to the providence of my companion, help was 
at hand. Mosquitoes have an invincible repugnance to cer- 
tain vegetable scents, the chvef among which is, perhaps, that 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 161 

of pennyroyal. To prepare it for use, it is necessary to melt 
a certain quantity of lard, and add to it in its liquid state 
enough of the essence to infuse the mass with a strono- scent. 
This compound, when cool, may be carried in the pocket in a 
tin box, and is an effectual preventive against the attacks 
of nearly every kind of insect pecuhar to the American 
woods. 

With this composition I plentifully anointed every visible 
portion of my body. Face, hands, ears, neck, every inch of 
surface which was liable to attack, was thoroughly lubricated, 
till I looked like an Esquimau just arisen from his dinner of 
seal's blubber and train-oil. The remedy, however, was ef- 
fectual. It afforded me infinite satisfaction to see the impo- 
tent rage with which my late tormentors whirled round and 
round my head, in bewildering circles, never daring, however, 
to approach within reach of the aroma of this potent oint- 
ment. I anointed my face and neck twice or thrice a day, 
and found the apphcation sufficient. The hands, owing to 
the necessity of use, require to be anointed about once an 
hour, to render them absolutely invulnerable. I found this 
somewhat tiresome, and subsequently adopted a pair of hght 
buckskin gloves, which were not burdensome, and proved en- 
tirely mosquito proof. 

In one of my excursions I met a young man who had in- 
cautiously ventured into the woods without adequate protec- 
tion against mosquitoes. The blood was streaming from his 
face, where he had been bitten, and his general aspect was so 
forlorn that I was moved to pity. I gave him some ointment 
with directions how to use it, and left him. When I met him 
a few hours afterward, his first salutation was : " Mister, 
you 've saved my life." The backwoodsmen become so ac- 
customed to these insects, that they pay but little attention to 
them, in most cases using no defense against them. It is 
said that a mosquito will not bite an old hunter ; and it is 
certain that after one has been in the woods a short time, 
these insects will pay much less attention to him than to a 
new-comer. 

Mosquitoes however are not the only troublesome insect in 
11 



162 NARRATIVES. 

the woods. A small, black gnat, which the old inhabitants 
term a "punkey," bears away the palm from the mosqurto. 
As these insects are only about one fourth as large as mos- 
quitoes, they can penetrate the meshes of any mosquito-net ; 
and when once they get scent of you, they will leave no por- 
tion of your body unexplored. The bite of these gnats is 
much worse than that of the mosquito. If you are bitten by 
the latter insect, and you do not unnecessarily irritate the 
wound, the effect is not visible for any great length of time 
afterward ; but the bite of these gnats results, first in a deep 
crimson blotch about the size and shape of a half dime, and 
then in an open sore, which in some cases will last for weeks. 
The favorite method of protection against these insects in use 
in the North Woods, is, to build a fire with some damp mate- 
rial which will produce a dense smoke, plant yourself reso- 
lutely where the smoke is thickes-t, and take your chance of 
being smothered, as a choice of evils. Neither mosquitoes 
nor gnats can endure smoke ; and this fact is taken advantage 
of by families living near the edge of the forest, who, during 
warm weather, keep a pan of embers continually smouldering 
at the doors of their houses, by way of self-defense. 

Eight or ten minutes of brisk walking brought us to a small 
clearing, wherein an enterprising pioneer had constructed a 
rough dwelling, and ministered thence to the wants and ne- 
cessities of incoming and outgoing travellers. The principal 
of these wants, I soon found, was whiskey. It is difficult for 
me to do adequate justice to this beverage. I am undecided, 
to this day, which of these two characteristic institutions of 
the North Woods is the worst, the whiskey or the mosquitoes. 
The rule is, I believe, that any one who can drink the whiskey 
can endure the mosquitoes ; and, vice versa^ any one who can 
endure the mosquitoes can drink the whiskey. Nevertheless, 
the article is in great demand, and indeed it seemed to be the 
common understanding that it was well-nigh impossible to 
undergo a two or three weeks' campaign in the woods with- 
out it. 

It was eleven miles, said our informants, to our next stop- 
ping-place ; and on we pushed, full of courageous intent, and 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 163 

bidding defiance to the perils and hardships of the wilderness. 
But the miles were unconscionably long. I had prided my- 
self somewhat on my ability as a pedestrian, and had thought 
lightly of the eleven miles before us ; but by the time we had 
accomplished one half of them, it seemed to me that each mile 
was a league in length. And then the path — how shall I 
describe it ? I had thought the road by which we had reached 
the clearing in our rear as bad as road could be ; but this path 
which we were now following was yet worse. If the reader 
will imagine an almost unlimited amount of logs, rocks, mud, 
stumps, and mosquitoes, mixed together hap-hazard, and dis- 
tributed miscellaneously along a line eleven miles in length, 
he will by this means obtain a possible conception of the road 
on which we plodded all day. 

Thanks to a good bed, and a sound night's sleep, I rose on 
the ensuing morning with no diminution of spirits, and with 
my physical condition quite unimpaired. A little stiffness in 
the joints of the hips and knees was all the trace which re- 
mained of my yesterday's fatigue ; and even that wore away 
with the first hour's exercise. 

At the outlet of the Ions; chain of lakes which stretches far 
into the heart of this region, we were obliged to wait a few 
hours for the arrival of the boat which we had engaged, and 
which was absent on the upper lakes. The time of our delay 
was profitably employed in taking a fine string of speckled 
trout from the stream, which here debouches from the lower 
extremity of the lake. There are few sensations in nature 
more satisfactory than the gentle titillation of the wrist and 
elbow, ensuing from the bite of a fine trout ; and when the 
struggle is over and you have him safe in your basket, though 
you are not indued with the poetic temperament, and may 
not have an atom of sentiment in your organization, you can 
hardly suppress a sensation of regret at having destroyed a 
creature of such rare beauty. 

So at least, I think, as I fill my basket ; but Newhouse, I 
am sorry to say, does not share in my weakness. His ali- 
mentive instincts are stronger than his idealic ; and while I am 
half disposed to sentimentalize over our prey, he extricates a 



164 NARRATIVES. 

frying-pan from our luggage, and soon tempts my olfactories 
with a savory odor, of which, sooth to say, with my appetite 
sharpened by exercise and abstinence, I am in no wise unap- 
preciative. 

By the time we had finished our repast, our boat had ar- 
rived ; and after securely packing our luggage in the bow and 
stern, and under the seats, we pushed off from shore, and 
directed our course toward the upper lakes. 

The lakes of the North Woods are a peculiar feature of the 
region. A chain of small and picturesque sheets of water, 
eight in number, and connected with each other by shallow 
channels, extends far into the interior of the wilderness. 
These lakes are invaluable in the facilities they afford to hunt- 
ers and trappers and others, wishing to penetrate the heart of 
the tract ; as the transportation of one's self and baggage is 
rendered comparatively easy, by means of boats. Advent- 
urers in this region can procure a boat at the outlet of the 
lower lake, and journey upward at their leisure till they find 
a suitable place for a camp. Those who have walked from 
the outside world to the landing, will appreciate the value of 
this arrangement, especially if they have transported their 
bassaore thither on their own shoulders. 

The day was drawing to a close when we turned the bow 
of our boat to the shore, and landed near the foot of lake 
No. 4 of the series. In our search after a proper location for 
our camp, we were so fortunate as to find an unoccupied 
>' shanty" of the first quality, of which we lost no time in 
taking possession. 

A "shanty" proper is an institution pecuhar to the woods. 
The most common variety, which the woodsmen erect for 
temporary use, is made of spruce bark, carefully peeled, so as 
to preserve the full width, and opened flat like a mammoth 
shingle. A low frame-work of poles is then constructed, and 
this bark is so disposed thereupon as to form a dwelling which 
is nearly impervious to rain. One side of the edifice, how- 
ever, is always left open, and in front of this the fire is built, 
which serves to warm the occupants in cool weather. The 
more aspiring style of shanty, to which ours belonged, is built 



AK AIVIATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 165 

of logs, halved together at the ends, like a log house ; the 
interstices filled with clay or moss, and the roof covered with 
bark or split logs. These are intended for more permanent 
use, and are built by those who regularly frequent certain 
localities in the woods. 

Night drew on. We had barely time to settle ourselves in 
our new habitation, build our fire, and eat our supper, before 
darkness overtook us, and we prepared for bed. Our couch 
was of the most primitive character. A pile of green hem- 
lock boughs, laid upon the bare earth, constituted both bed 
and bedstead, sheets and coverlets. The only addition to 
the rather meagre simplicity of this arrangement was a light 
woolen blanket, for use in an unusually cool night. New- 
house, indeed, had provided himself with an enormous bag, a 
sort of cid de sac of Canton flannel, into" which he crept at 
nicrht verv much as a woodchuck ensconces himself in his 
hole. But I disdained all such artificial appliances. Having 
turned woodsman, I resolved to make a clean thing of it ; and 
throwing myself upon my rude couch, with a bag of Indian 
meal for a pillow, in five minutes I was sleeping as sound as 
though reposing on the downiest of beds, and with the softest 
of pillows. 

My repose, however, was not destined to be uninterrupted. 
At midnight the chilliness of the air awoke me. I drew my 
blanket closer around me and tried to compose myself to sleep, 
but in vain. The novelty of my situation and the unusual 
sounds which attracted my attention were not at all favorable 
to slumber. I could hear the distant howling of wolves on 
the sides of the hill, at the foot of which we were encamped. 
Then, as I listened, I heard the underbrush crackle, and 
heavy footsteps tramped though the thicket but a few feet 
from my head, in the rear of the hut. What was it ? A 
bear? or panther? or wolf? All these animals abound in 
the North Woods, and the tread was too heavy to have been 
made by a beast of less magnitude. I reached for my rifle, 
which stood at my head, and peered steadfastly out into the 
darkness, but could distinguish nothing. Meanwhile the foot- 
steps had died away in the distance, and my nocturnal visitant 



166 NARRATIVES. 

had retreated, without deigning to reveal himself. Having 
by this time become pretty thoroughly awakened, I sprang up, 
raked together the decaying embers of our last night's fire, 
piled on a quantity of brush and logs, which created a genial 
blaze, warming every corner of our rude habitation ; then, 
enveloping myself in my blanket, I slept soundly till awak- 
ened by the first beams of the morning sun. Such was my 
first night in the woods. 

The days passed pleasantly in this sylvan retreat. When 
we were tired of our locality, it was a comparatively easy 
operation to effect a " change of base." A half hour at any 
time sufficed to transfer our effects from our habitation to our 
boat, and another half hour was amply sufficient to establish 
our cuisine and lodging in any locality to which we chose to 
migrate. Space and time would fail me were I to attempt to 
describe in detail our multifarious adventures in search of 
game and trout ; how I rowed up and down the lakes trolling 
for salmon-trout, till the four broad blisters on my right palm, 
and the three ditto on my left, rendered ample testimony to 
my proficiency as an oarsman ; and how^at last, at the close 
of one pleasant day, we found ourselves securely encamped on 
a rocky peninsula extending for a mile or two out into the 
clear waters of Moose Lake. 

Moose Lake is an isolated but beautiful sheet of water, ly- 
ins: a mile or two aside from the chain of lakes on which we 
had hitherto been located. This lake is famed for the abun- 
dance and superior quality of its trout ; and I was not slow 
in testing the validity of its reputation in this respect, by 
catching a fine mess of speckled trout for breakfast on the 
morning after our arrival, before Newhouse had emerged from 
his bag of Canton flannel. But as salmon and not speckled 
trout were the principal objects of our labors, we prepared at 
once for taking them scientifically. And lest there should be 
some among my readers who do not clearly apprehend the 
distinction between the two, I will devote a paragraph or two 
to their enlightenment. 

So few are unacquainted with the common brook or 
speckled trout, that any description of this superb fish will 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 167 

perhaps be superfluous. The salmon differs from the speckled 
trout in being more slender in form, and lighter-colored ; his 
flesh rarely assuming so deep and rich a hue as that of the 
latter, and his spots being more dull. The still, deep water 
of these wild lakes is his favorite habitat, and there he often 
grows to the weight of forty or fifty pounds, while the speckled 
trout is rarely found in water of any considerable depth. The 
bite of the salmon, too, is materially different from that of the 
speckled trout. The latter announces his presence by a sharp, 
eager nibble ; while the salmon bites with a sullen, dogged 
jerk, very much like that of a perch, cat-fish, or Oswego bass. 
His bite, however, is very sure, and a practiced fisherman 
will seldom lose the fish that once takes his bait. 

The most effective method of capturing the salmon-trout 
with a hook, is, to station a number of buoys in eligible local- 
ities, and, previous to fishing, bait them liberally with small 
fish chopped into pieces as large as the end of one's finger. 
The salmon, having obtained a taste of the bait, will haunt 
the place for days afterward ; and by baiting the buoys two 
or three times a day, the fisherman will often obtain six or 
eight fish from a buoy at a single visit, weighing from one to 
five pounds each. If small fish for bait are scarce, as is often 
.the case, the buoys can be baited with the inwards of the 
trout themselves, cut into small pieces with a hatchet on the 
bottom of the boat. 

One pound is about the minimum size of the salmon-trout 
as they are taken in the northern lakes ; and very few smaller 
are caught. When it is taken into consideration that a single 
person can manage ten or twelve buoys with a good degree 
of success, it will be seen that this method of fishing can easily 
be made profitable as well as pleasurable, to those who are 
disposed to turn it to account in that way. 

Great care is requisite in landing the salmon-trout, or he 
will break loose from the hook between the water and the 
boat. From the moment the fish is hooked the line should 
be kept tight, or he will disengage himself. Pull in your line 
as rapidly as possible, and your prize will run directly to the 
surface ; and then by taking a dexterous advantage of his 



168 NARRATIVES. 

momentum, and keeping him carefully clear of the side of 
the boat, you can throw him clean over on to the bottom 
with very little outlay of physical force. When captured, 
insert the sharp point of a knife into the back at the spot 
where the head joins the body, and he will neither disturb 
your temper nor entangle your lines by unnecessary flounder- 
ing. Some amateurs make use of a landing-net ; but the 
practiced sportsman will pronounce this a superfluity. 

The recollection of the time passed amid the still loneliness 
of this beautiful lake will long remain a bright spot in my 
memory. The passing glimpse of a deer on the distant brink, 
sipping the clear water in safety, far out of rifle-shot ; the oc- 
casional shooting of a gull or loon, whose unearthly cry at 
dusk is forcibly suggestive of a monster not less formidable 
than a bear or panther ; the daily exercise of trout-catching ; 
unlimited rations of trout in every possible shape — trout sal- 
mon and trout speckled, trout large and trout small, trout 
boiled, trout roasted, and trout fried : such is a brief epitome 
of my life at Moose Lake. 

But this wild existence, however pleasurable, must be tran- 
sitory. Duty recalled me to the world, with a voice too im- 
perative to be disobeyed ; and accordingly, having resolved to 
commence our return journey on the morrow, my companion 
and I began to pack our baggage in readiness for an early 
start. How to reduce our effects to light marching order w^as 
something of a problem ; and while Newhouse was trying to 
solve the vexed question, I volunteered to " wash the dishes." 
Our table-service was as follows : One camp-kettle, capacity 
four quarts, serving the purposes of hot- water boiler, stew- 
pot, oven, &c. ; two tin table-plates ; two tin pint basins ; two 
pairs knives and forks ; and two iron table-spoons, besides our 
indispensabihty, the frying-pan. These I deposited on the 
shore of the lake, and, making an extempore dish-cloth from 
a rag which I found among our luggage, I commenced my 
work. I began with the frying-pan, as being entitled to the 
most labor, and scrubbed vigorously for what I considered a 
suitable length of time, but, for some reason, failed to make 
very sensible progress. The grease adhered pertinaciously ; 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 169 

and the harder I rubbed, the worse it looked. I then be- 
thought myself of commencing with something which would 
afford an easier task ; so I threw aside the frying-pan, and 
took up one of the tin plates. But here again I experienced 
a similar difficulty. Rub as hard as I would, the grease obsti- 
nately refused to yield to my efforts. By this time, I had 
begun to think there was something wrong in my way of 
going to work ; so I ceased manipulation, and fell to specu- 
lating on the probable cause of my defeat. I had not studied 
the matter a great while, when it occurred to me that the 
attempt to wash a greasy dish without either soap or hot 
water was not an altogether sagacious method of procedure. 
Having remedied this fundamental error, I experienced no 
further difficulty, and even congratulated myself on making 
the discovery unaided. I omitted, however, to mention the 
circumstance to my companion, partly because my feelings on 
this point were tender, but mainly because I wished to avoid 
tempting him into the vice of ridicule — a weakness in which 
he is at times prone to indulge. He subsequently heard, how- 
ever, the story of my dish-washing, and, to this day, cannot 
resist the temptation to start a laugh over it at my expense. 

By daylight on the following morning, w^e were en route for 
home. We had selected and packed for pi-eservation about 
forty pounds of our choicest fish, and left behind us every- 
thing not needed on our return journey. A few^ hours of 
rowing brought us to the landing, where we bade farewell to 
our boat, which had stood us in such good stead. We were 
now dependent solely on our legs for the transportation of 
ourselves and effects back to civihzation, and we braced our- 
selves manfully for the task. 

As it fell to my lot to carry the said forty pounds of trout, 
I heroically shouldered my burden, and started in a homeward 
direction. It was now^ two o'clock, p. m. ; and feefore we 
could reach a resting-place, we must traverse those eleven 
miles of forest which proved so interminably long on our way 
hither. Certain ominous doubts as to my ability to accom- 
plish the task were carefully thrust aside as irrelevant and 
not to be entertained. 



170 NARRATIVES. 

The sensation, to one who has never before had a load on 
his shoulders, of a pack of forty pounds' weight placed thereon, 
is any thing but comfortable ; and still less so was the prospect 
of carrying such a burden over the long and difficult path 
which lay before us. But circumstances were inexorable: 
the cross must be borne, and bear it I did, as the sequel will 
show. By dint of occasionally shifting my load from one 
point to another on my back, I traversed the first two or three 
miles quite comfortably. I even began to be jubilant over my 
supposed capacity as a beast of burden. How great, thought 

I, will be the shame and confusion of W and T and 

H (who had striven to cast discredit on my backwoods- 

manship), when I relate to them, in full conclave, my tri- 
umphant exodus from the wilderness ! What, after all, was 
there in the crossing of the Alps by Napoleon or Hannibal ; 
the passage of the Splugen by Macdonald, or the Rocky 
Mountains by Fremont ; the scaling of the Heights of Abra- 
ham by Wolfe ; the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers ; or any 
of those achievements about which history makes such an 
ado — what is there in all these that evinces a greater su- 
premacy of mind over matter, than this march of mine from 
solitude to civilization with forty pounds of salmon-trout on 
my back ? The greatest deeds are not those which Fame 
trumpets to posterity. " Full many a flower is born to blush 
unseen," &c. 

But alas for poor, fallible human nature ! The spirit indeed 
was willing, but the flesh seemed likely to prove a failure. At 
the close of the fifth mile, I felt desperately tired and uncom- 
fortable. Sombre thoughts began to creep over me. What 
if, after all, my enterprise should not prove a triumph ? What 
if it should result in an ignominious defeat ? What if dark- 
ness should overtake me, and I should be left exhausted in 
the forest^a prey to wild beasts ? What if the next traveller 
should find my bones by the way-side, picked clean by remorse- 
less wolves? And, as if to give force to the suggestion, 
Newhouse, who was a short distance in the rear, shouted, 
" A wolf! a wolf! " My sporting instincts at once prevailed 
over my fatigue ; and, cocking my rifle, I rushed into the 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 171 

bushes in the direction indicated, just in time to hear the re- 
treating footsteps of the animal dying away among the under- 
brush. Pursuit was hopeless ; but the excitement of the affair 
revived my drooping energy, and for a short time I trod the 
lonesome path more hghtly. 

But this factitious strength was only temporary, and I was 
soon more tired than ever. So utterly demoralized did I be- 
come, that the sight of a noble buck standing directly in my 
path, but a few paces distant, and gazing at me with his large, 
lustrous, startled eyes, brimful of wonder, failed to arouse 
me in the least ; and I allowed him to walk leisurely away, 
unmolested. The only desire of which I was conscious was, 
an irrepressible longing for shelter and repose, neither of 
which were near at hand. 

It was now nearly dark, and we had yet several miles to 
travel. Newhouse had loitered a mile or two behind, and I 
was quite alone. I had long desired to be in the wilderness 
at night, far from any human being, for the purpose of testing 
my strength of nerve. I had been curious to know what 
would be the effect upon me of such a situation, and whether 
my ordinary equanimity would be in any way disturbed by it. 
Here was an admirable opportunity to have this question 
definitively settled ; but, unfortunately, I was too tired to in- 
dulge in self-examination or thought of any kind, and so 
allowed the occasion to pass unimproved. About this time, a 
heavy thunder-cloud, which for some time had been sending 
forth ominous mutterings, began to discharge its damp con- 
tents upon my devoted head. But I was so insufferably w^eary 
as to be entirely oblivious of rain, or thought of personal dan- 
ger. The not unfrequent intimation of the close proximity of 
of some wild beast caused me no uneasiness, and I could have 
faced all the animals in the North Woods eii masse with the 
most perfect imperturbability. I thought of heaven as a place 
of rest, and wished I was safely there. I thought of the nide 
log-hut I had left that morning, and my bed of hemlock 
boughs, with sensations similar to those with which Adam 
must have contemplated his lost Paradise. The forty pounds 
of salmon trout on my shoulders weighed down more heavily 



172 NARRATIVES. 

than the rocks with which Dante has loaded some of his unfor- 
tunate sinners in purgatory- And so I fared slowly on, stop- 
ping once in thirty or forty rods to rest, half inclined to throw 
away my gun and burden, and yet impelled to their preser- 
vation by a sort of native tenacity which was unwilling to 
relax any part of my programme. 

By this time it was so dark that eyes were a superfluity. 
The only method by which I could keep my path was, to be 
sure that I was safe in the mud. If, at any time, I chanced to 
set foot on dry land, I concl^ided at once that I had lost the 
road ; and my progress could only be resumed by groping about 
until my path was once more wet and miry. I sometimes 
wonder how I ever succeeded in working my way through 
such a labyrinth of difficulties ; and have gratefully attributed 
it to the assistance of my guardian angel, who must have 
been sensible that I was very much in need of his aid. 

As all things terrestrial, however, whether good or evil, 
must at length come to an end, so in due time came the ter- 
mination of my toilsome journey. After a period which then 
seemed a great many hours in length, but which a cool retro- 
spect convinces me must have been a much shorter period 
of time, I staggered out of the woods, and sank exhausted on 
the bank of Moose River. It is my firm conviction that, if 
my life had been at stake, I could not have walked another 
mile. So I lifted up my voice, and shouted vigorously for the 
ferryman on the opposite side of the river, but I received no 
reply. It was late at night, and he was doubtless sound 
asleep long ere this. Then I essayed to awaken him by dis- 
charging my rifle ; but, on snapping the locks of each barrel, 
I found that the rain, which was still falling liberally, had so 
dampened the priming as to make the attempt abortive. I 
crawled under the shelter of a large hemlock, and finally, 
after much awkward fumbhng in the darkness, succeeded in 
re-capping my rifle, and in pricking some dry powder into the 
tubes. This being accomphshed, I succeeded in discharging 
both barrels, and was gratified to hear an answering shout in 
return. In due time a boat appeared, and I was speedily 
transferred to comparatively comfortable quarters, where rest 
and shelter awaited me. 



AN AMATEUR IN THE NORTH WOODS. 173 

A more forlorn object than myself, as I emerged from the 
woods on that memorable occasion, it would be difficult to 
conceive of. Mud, rain, mosquitoes, and underbrush had so 
thoroughly disguised me that it would have required an inti- 
mate acquaintance to have recognized a familiar feature ; and, 
as my powers of description are limited, I will leave the con- 
ception of my personal appearance to the imagination of the 
reader. Thanks, however, to an elastic constitution and a 
sound night's sleep, the ensuing morning found me compara- 
tively fresh, and in good condition for the completion of my 
journey. 

Thus ended my campaign in the woods. We were now 
within reach of the appliances of civilization, so that it w^as an 
easy matter to reach the nearest railroad station, and avail 
ourselves of steam locomotion. Despite the numerous vexa- 
tions and petty hardships which neccessarily attended my 
novitiate in backwoodsmanship, it was, on the whole, a pleas- 
ant episode in my life, and one upon which I look back with 
none but pleasurable emotions. And, although I should not 
choose to establish my permanent residence in the woods, I 
can readily sympathize with the attachment to the forest 
which characterizes those hardy spirits who are " to the manor 
born." 

My narrative has but little to do with trapping or even hunt- 
ing, and may seem irrelevant in this book. But it relates at 
least to life in the woods ; and, to give any thing like a full 
view of that subject, it is important to show how such a life 
seems to the inexperienced. This book may induce many 
untried youth to enlist in the trapping service ; and, in mercy 
to them, I would give them beforehand some adequate con- 
ception of the realities before them, that they may not rush 
upon the mosquitoes and gnats and whisky and wolves, and 
long, weary, back-laden journeys, wholly unprepared. 

And, after all the tribulations that I have recorded, I came 
out of the woods with such an appreciation of the discipline 
of forest life, that I cannot conclude without expressing the 
hope that the time will come when schools, that prize the 
health and hardihood that come by gymnastics and military 



174 NARRATIVES. 

drill, will turn their attention to hunting and trapping as 
means of education ; and, instead of sending occasional de- 
tachments of schoolboys in summer on mere aimless pedes- 
trian journeys, or into mock encampments, will annually 
organize regiments of stalwart youth for penetrating, even in 
winter, the savage regions far beyond the frontiers of civiliza- 
tion, and doing real service as hunters and trappers of wild 
beasts — a service, in my opinion, as dignified and discipli- 
nary, to say the least, as war. 



TEAVELLING IN A CIRCLE. 

By J. P. H. 



The little pocket-compass is by no means a contemptible 
article in the estimation of a woodsman ; it has a place in his 
affections equal, perhaps, to that of his dog or gun, and not only 
guides him unerringly through the dense and trackless for- 
ests, but oftentimes serves him in the capacity of a time-piece. 
He places it on the muzzle of his gun, and, if after it has 
become settled, the south end of the needle points directly un- 
der the sun, he concludes that it is noon ; or, at least, near 
enough for his purposes. His compass is the most trustwor- 
thy servant he has, and it never fails him if he heeds its 
admonitions. But the inexperienced woodsman is sometimes 
quite apt to get into a quarrel with his compass, especially 
when he loses his bearings and gets his head a little turned. 
Thus, when most needing its aid, he frequently heaps curses 
upon it, and declares it is '' all out of fix." Or he imagines 
he has come into close proximity to a bed of iron ore, lode- 
stone, or some other wonderful thing that has bewitched his 
compass. It does not at first occur to him that there can be 
any thing wrong in his calculations, but he reasons something 
after the style of the old Indian, who, when he was unable to 
find his wigwam, vehemently declared, " Indian no lost ! 
Indian here ! Wigwam lost ! " 

It is a noteworthy fact that persons lost in the woods travel 
in a circuitous course so accurately that they sometimes 
revolve round to the same point several times within a short 
period. 

T told me that he was once travelling in the woods 

when there was snow on the ground, and all of a sudden came 



176 NARRATIVES. 

across the track of a man. The track seemed to coincide 
with his course, so he " struck " into it and followed on, think- 
ing that ere long he might overtake the lonely forester ; but, 
after he had travelled half an hour or more, he, to his surprise, 
discovered where another track had joined the first. The two 
travellers, seeming to be of the same mind as himself, were 

travelling on before him. " Well," said T , after a brief 

jDhilosophical parley with himself, " the more the merrier." 
So he betook himself to his legs and got on somewhat faster 
than at first. But presently he stood aghast at a third track 
which " struck " into the trail. Fortunately our hero's native 
sagacity came to his aid, and he was led to examine the tracks 
of his neighbors a little more minutely than he had done, and 
his investigations resulted in the discovery that they were all 
very much like his own ; indeed, so much so that he deemed 
it perfectly safe and altogether expedient for him to take the 
back track of the last traveller, and, if possible, make his way 
out of that scene. He accordingly did so, and in due time 
found himself " all sound, sir ! " as he says, safely landed at 
the point from which he started when he first entered the for- 
est. He is a little reticent respecting the fate of his three 
fellow-bushmen ; but rumor says they were never heard of 
more. 

I do not remember to have ever heard a satisfactory reason 
why a lost person travels round in a circle. It has been 
said by somebody, that people generally step a little farther 
with the right foot than they do with the left ; so, when they 
have nothing to guide them, the tendency is to bear to the 
left : thus, in time, they make a circle. But this explanation 
is not generally accepted. I am satisfied from experience that 
foresters, when lost, do not always turn to the left, and also 
that the size of the circle thus made depends very much upon 
the character of the forest. If it is open, and free from under- 
brush, one does not deviate from a direct course so much as he 
would if it were more dense. When a lad, I was connected 
with an adventure which bears somewhat on the point in 
question. 

Near the head waters of the Chenango River, in New York, 



TRAVELLING IN A CIRCLE. 177 

is situated a large swamp, called by the inhabitcants of that 
region " The Great Cedar Swamp." It is eight or ten miles 
long, and perhaps two or three wide. So boggy is the ground 
and so impenetrable is the forest for man or beast, I doubt if 
some parts of it have ever been explored. Neverthless it may 
be looked upon as a godsend to the surrounding inhabitants ; 
for they are almost exclusively hop-growers, and from this 
swamp they get aTi abundant supply of cedar poles, which are 
gathered in winter, when the ground is more or less frozen. 

The Chenango River flows through the whole length of 
.this swamp ; yet it is so deep and so sluggish, that the motion 
of the water is scarcely perceptible, and so crocked, too, that 
my boyish fancy used to picture a bird trying to fly across it 
and invariably lighting on the same side from which it started. 

At the lower end of this swamp the river leaves the forest, 
and, losing its mysterious air, breaks into a merry babble, as it 
hurries away over the stones towards the Susquehanna. Here 
an old fisherman used occasionally to leave his boat after one 
of his fishing excursions up the river, and it was the dehght 
of the adventurous youths of the neighboring town to obtain 
this boat, and penetrate as far as possible into the dark recesses 
of that solitary swamp. 

It was one sunny Sunday when such an opportunity pre- 
sented itself to me. Two fellows older than myself (one a 
young man) proposed that we should make an excursion up 
the river. This was readily agreed to, and we at once pos- 
sessed ourselves of the boat. We were told, however, that 
the owner intended to use his boat, and very likely would be 
after us before we returned. Heedless of all warnings of this 
kind, we pushed off, and were soon lost among the alders 
along the stream. 

We paddled slowly on for half an hour, with nothing to 
interrupt our tranquillity but the occasional splash of the musk- 
rat, as he disappeared beneath the black water ; or as the spot- 
ted turtle, startled at our approach, rolled from off its sunning- 
place and also disappeared. 

We had almost concluded that we were destined to enjoy 
an undisturbed possession of the boat, when we heard, far 

12 



178 NARRATIVES. 

away down the river, the stentorian cries of the old fisherman. 
We at once comprehended the situation of things and knew 
that he was on our track. We were afraid to go back, and 
dared not go forward. So we awaited our destiny ; nor did we 
wait long ere we saw his grizzly visage peering through the 
jungle, demanding our surrender, which demand we immedi- 
ately and unconditionally complied with. He had a compan- 
ion with him, and they were both pretty wMl spent, owing to 
their hard tramp. We expected to get a ducking, or some- 
thing worse ; but on reaching the shore he only gave us, as I 
thought, a moderate cursing for not bringing the boat back 
w^hen he first called to us, for he w^as sure we heard him. I felt 
some desire to confess my fault and ask his pardon ; but not 
so, I fear, with my comrades : the big individual was deplor- 
ably deficient in his moral deportment, and unhesitatingly 
made oath to any thing that his short-sighted nature told him 
would soonest help him out of difficulty. After laboring much 
to impress us with the hardships he had encountered in get- 
ting up the river, the old fisherman ended by informing us 
that we might get back the same way he came, or by any 
other we pleased ; he should not ferry us back. Then, to 
soften the matter a little, he said that a half mile's travel 
directly away from the river would take us out to the settle- 
ment, and thus avoid the difficulty of following down the river. 

Now, there is an inexorable law pertaining to human nature, 
that " every man shall be rewarded according to his works." 
And I think this old fisherman did not deal with us according 
to our deserts ; therefore, at this point, Providence took the 
matter in hand. 

We plunged in among the tangled bushes as we were di- 
rected, congratulating ourselves with our good luck in coming 
off so easily. But our self-complacency was premature ; for 
after an exhausting tramp of not less than a mile, I should 
think, instead of arriving at the settlement as we hoped, we 
all at once found ourselves standing upon the bank of that 
same deep and ominously dark river : — 

" Deep into that darkness peering, 
Long I stood there, wondering, fearing." 



TRAVELLING IN A CIRCLE. 179 

I longed to see the face of the old fisherman once more, 
but he was gone and had not left even a ripple on the smooth 
water. We thought to follow the river down ; but, alas ! we 
had forgotten which way was down. We cast sticks into the 
water, hoping they would indicate to us its course ; but their 
movement was so slight that we questioned whether it was 
caused by the wind or current. There was nothing left us 
now but to try our first experiment over again. This we did 
with the same results as before. My big companion vented his 
feelings in a shower of oaths, while I thought that any thing 
would have been more appropriate, under the circumstances, 
than cursing ; for we were all nearly exhausted, so difficult 
was it to push our way through the tangled swamp-grass and 
bushes. But we must get out of our terrible situation in some 
way ; so we sallied forth again. After tramping onward for 
some time, I remember, we came to a partially decayed fish- 
basket, that had probably been long since left there by some 
fisherman. Glad to see any thing that reminded us of civili- 
zation, we halted to rest a little, and to hold a brief consulta- 
tion. Here we resolved that, if it was our lot to strike the 
river agam, we would not leave it, but wait for the boat to 
come down and take us in. With this resolution we again set 
forth, but our senses had become so bewildered, that, I dare 
say, we had not travelled ten minutes before we came plump 
upon that old fish-basket. My big companion was again vio- 
lent in his expressions ; but we scrambled on, not knowing 
whither we went, until, as chance would have it, we again 
stood on the bank of the river. 

We now climbed a tree, and set our lungs as vigorously at 
work as our legs had been, calling loudly for the old fisher- 
man. It was not until we had screamed ourselves hoarse that 
we heard a faint sound far away up the river. It was now his 
turn to comprehend the condition of things, and after taking 
his own time for it, he came down to our relief. But, oh, how 
rejoiced I was to see his craft winding round a bend just 
above us ! He seemed like a father to me : his weather-worn 
face had a charm about it undiscovered before, no matter if 
an artful smile did play around his mouth on witnessing our 



180 NARRATIVES. 

forlorn condition. He spoke kindly to us, and took us aboard 
his boat, and, after administering some wholesome advice, he 
soon landed us once more in a civilized region. If I should 
ever see the old veteran again, I would try. to prove to him 
that I had profited by his advice. 



AN EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN 
HILLS. 



By THEODORE L. PITT. 



Several miles north of the village of- Macloc, in Canada 
West, a traveller, journeying northward, enters upon a sec- 
tion of country to which geologists have given the name of 
Laurentian Hills. These hills stretch from the Ottawa River 
to Georgian Bay, and from the neighborhood of Madoc to the 
region of the Madawaska. This portion of Canada is sup- 
posed by geologists to be the oldest land in the world. Here 
was the primeval continent — the first " dry land " that " ap- 
peared" above the all-pervading ocean, which, in those far- 
off days of creation, rolled unbroken round the globe. The 
rocks of this region are the oldest in kind w^ith which man 
anywhere comes in contact. They are azoic rocks — rocks in 
which no indications of animal life can be traced. They have 
no fossils, and if any living creatures existed in the ancient 
ages in which these rocks w^ere formed, all evidences of their 
existence have utterly passed away in the geologic revolu- 
tions. The country is emphatically a land of hills. They 
seldom if ever rise to the dignity of mountains, but below 
this they are of all sizes and shapes. Generally their longer 
axis is from northeast to southwest. The land appears as if it 
had once been a vast sea of molten rock lashed into fury by a 
northwest gale, or the boiling of Plutonic fires, and then in a 
moment congealed. The region is all underlaid with rock 
at the depth of a few feet, and it crops out continually. There 
are visible ledges, vast beds, and bowlders innumerable. Per- 
pendicular cliffs hundreds of feet high are found, sometimes 
overhanging the clear waters of a lake ; at others, the lofty tops 



182 NARRATIVES. 

of a pine forest. There are great walls of rock piled up, 
which look as if the Titans of old mythology had worked 
there in the unknown ages. If one wishes to study rock- 
work on the largest scale, let him go to the Laurentian Hills 
and see the backbone of the world. He will see more. He 
will see the workshop where the continents were made. All 
the rocks that are now to be seen are but the remnants of 
what were there in the old ages, hundreds of millions of years 
ago. They are all ground down and smoothed and rounded 
by untold cycles of abrasion and disintegration. I can hardly 
imagine scenery more impressive and suggestive of the mighty 
power that has worked upon the world in the long, long past. 
The Laurentian Hills and valleys are covered with forests 
of pine, hemlock, hard- wood, cedar, tamarack, &c., and form 
a paradise for the lumbermen, large companies of whom carry 
on their operations there. The Canadian government has 
opened roads running northerly into the forests at intervals of 
twenty or thirty miles. Settlers have penetrated along these 
roads and made clearings and erected log-cabins, far into the 
back country. But it is not a favorable country for farming : 
the summers are frosty, the winters long and severe, the soil 
is rocky and shallow. Many deserted cabins are seen, and 
clearings growing up with forests again. Here and there a 
section is found where the soil produces fair crops of grain. 
The greater portion, however, will always remain in wood- 
land, and continue to be one of the best trapping grounds in 
Canada for years to come. The head waters of several river 
systems are in this region, and thousands of small streams 
and lakes abound. The rocks which underlie the country are 
mostly impervious to water, and the creeks which wind among 
the hills, wherever they find a basin, fill it and form a lake. 
These lakes are one of the most interesting characteristics of 
the country. Their waters are pure and soft. Encircled as 
they are with woods, the arrangement of the trees around 
them is a noticeable feature of the landscape. Next to the 
water is a belt of evergreens, broken rarely in low, marshy 
places by sections of black ash, or on low, sandy beaches by 
white birch. Nearest the waters is a fringe of cedars, whose 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 183 

branches droop, and, when the waters are high, touch the 
waves. Back of the cedars are the hemlocks and pines, and 
beyond these, on the uplands, the hard-wood timber. In au- 
tumn, when the tints are changing, this arrangement forms 
beautiful pictures. The dark-green of the pines and hem- 
locks mingles far up the hills, in all picturesque ways, with the 
splendors of birches, beeches, and maples. The waters of the 
lake and the cedar fringe form a base to the scene. Over all 
comes the play of sunshine and shadow. 

To this region, in the autumn of 1865, several members of 
the Oneida Community went on a trapping excursion, under 
the lead of the old trapper and hunter, Mr. John Hutchins, 
whose character and adventures have been sketched on pre- 
vious pages. Their departure from home was announced by 
the editor of the " Circular " in the following terms : — 

" On Monday next, September 2oth, an expedition will set out 
from the Oneida Community for the backwoods of Upper Canada. 
The object is trapping, and the company go prepared for a six 
months' campaign in the woods. The expedition consists^ of — 

" John H. Noyes, Perfectionist and Inventor ; 

" John Hutchins, old Maine trapper and hunter ; 

" John P. Hutchins, son of the latter, and member of the Oneida 
Community ; 

" Theodore L. Pitt, ex-Editor of the ' Circular ' ; 

" George Campbell, ex-Financier of the Oneida Community." 

The objects of our expedition, more fully stated, were as 
follows : 1. A practical acquaintance with life in the woods, 
and its healthful influences; 2. Trapping and acquaintance 
with trappers ; 3. Fur-buying and study of the fur-trade. 
The programme included within its possibilities a winter cam- 
paign in the woods, and an outfit was prepared accordingly. 
As this outfit was made under the supervision of Messrs. 
Hutchins and Newhouse, and was the result of their combined 
wisdom, it is perhaps worth copying, for the benefit of others 
planning similar expeditions. It was as follows : — 

OUTFIT. 

Guns ; ammunition ; fishing tackle ; two good salmon 



184 NARRATIVES. 

spears ; two liglit axes ; two butcher-knives, and one howel 
or round adze. One hatchet, one pocket-compass, one stout 
pocket-knife, one double-case watch, a shoulder-basket and 
a haversack for each man. Provisions taken from home : One 
bushel of beans, two dozen cans of preserved fruits and vege- 
tables, and a few cans of condensed milk. Clothing^ ^c. : One 
good blanket, one stout suit, two woolen shirts, two pairs 
of woolen drawers, six pairs of woolen stockings, one pair 
of camp shoes, one pair of boots, and two pairs of woolen 
mittens, for each man ; scissors, needles, thread, thimbles, 
wax, patches, &c., in abundance ; matches in abundance, in 
tin safes or bottles, air or water tight ; one pocket match-safe 
for each man. Cooking utensils : Two six-quart camp-kettles, 
two frying-pans, one baking-kettle ; tin plates, spoons, knives, 
forks, basins, coffee-pot and pails. Miscellaneous : One draw- 
shave, one hand-saw, one hammer, one inch auger, four 
gimlets, tvro lamps and a globe lantern ; files, nails, and 
tacks ; pillow-sack and night-cap for each man ; sacks for 
hammock - beds ; snow-shoes for each man; fish -oil for 
bait ; ink - stands, pens, and pencils ; writing - paper ; one 
dog. 

Additional provisions to be taken into the woods were 
bought at the last village on our route. These consisted of 
flour, oat-meal, sugar, butter, salt, pepper, &c. 

The destination of the party, according to programme, was 
a point on the Hastings Road, near the head waters of the 
Trent River. On arrival there, we were to reconnoitre, 
and, if prospects were unfavorable, go on further north. Mr. 
Hutchins had trapped in that region several seasons before, 
and considered it a favorable locahty for accomphshing our 
purposes. 

We started from Oneida about noon on the 25th of Sep- 
tember, and arrived at McKillican's, sixty miles north of 
Belleville, on the Hastings Road, the third day after, at mid- 
night. It is sufficient to say of the journey, that we had 
descended in regular order of travel from tha railroad to the 
steamboat, from the steamboat to the stage-coach, and from 
the stage-coach to the lumber wagon. The next step was 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 185 

pedestrianism : we had enough of that afterwards. I will 
say, however, that the traveller on the Hastings Road, after 
reaching Jordan, sixteen miles beyond Madoc, if he consults 
his personal comfort, will eschew all other modes of convey- 
ance except those with which nature has furnished him, — his 
own legs, or perhaps horseback-riding. Even the latter is 
not the safest operation a man can perform. Hastings Road 
■ from Jordan to the York River is truly a " hard road to 
travel." 

McKillican's is the clearing and habitation of Benjamin 
McKillican, a worthy Scottish Highlander, who, with his fam- 
il}^ emigrated from Inverness to Canada many years ago. 
Nine or ten years since, he settled on the Hastings Road, 
took up government land and began improvements. He is now 
seventy years of age ; a friendly, hospitable, honest man, 
and a fine representative of the Scottish faith and earnestness 
in religion. His family, at the time we were there, consisted 
of himself and wife ; two handsome daughters, who in health, 
refinement, and industrious activity, were noble specimens of 
backwoods life ; and two younger sons. Our acquaintance 
and sojourns with this family, first and last, are among the 
pleasant memories of our expedition. 

Seven miles west of McK.'s was Mr. Hutchins's old trap- 
ping ground. Four years before, he had left it at sixty years 
of age, and gone to the war. Those years had made as great 
changes in the backwoods as in the Southern Confederacy. 
Other trappers had come in and " occupied the land." Set- 
tlers were penetrating the wilds on either hand. Fires had 
swept through vast tracts of forest. Mink, beaver, and fisher 
had become less numerous. If we would find good trapping 
grounds we must go on towards the North Pole, or penetrate 
many miles into the wilderness, east or west from the Has- 
tings Road. The next morning after our arrival at McK.'s, 
the question of location was fairly before us. We made in- 
quiries, we sent out scouts, we studied the maps of the country. 
The result was, the selection of Salmon Lake and the adja- 
cent region, seven miles northeast from McK.'s, as our 
"camping ground." The locality seemed attractive on the 



186 NARRATIVES. 

map, being full of lakes and streams. It was said to be out 
of the range of settlements; was unoccupied by trappers. 
The choice was between this locality and going on forty or 
fifty miles to the Madawaska region. The latter was far be- 
yond the range of the white trappers, and occupied by Indians 
who were unfriendly to intruders. We decided for Salmon 
Lake. 

How to get to Salmon Lake was the next question. There 
were no roads ; at least we could hear of none. There was 
no navigable river. We shouldered our pack-baskets and 
rifles, and explored. An old winter lumber-road, which was 
said to run nearly to the point we wished to reach, was first 
tried. We followed it two miles and a half, most of the way 
over burnt and fallen timber, and through a swamp half-leg 
deep in water, the rain in the mean time coming down in a 
steady drizzle on our heads. At last we came to an old lumber 
shanty, and camped for the night. As this shanty was a fair 
specimen of the lumberman's usual habitation, I will briefly 
describe it. It was about twenty feet square, seven and a 
half feet high at the sides, and nine and a half feet at the 
peak of the roof. Each side was built of five great logs, some 
of which were two feet in diameter. The roof was made of 
split logs hollowed into troughs, and placed in this position : 
\S^^^^y^^^^^^^^^S^- All the cracks and holes were compactly filled 
wnth moss. The chimney was merely a crib of six-inch sticks 
laid up log-house fashion from the roof, and placed directly 
over the centre of the building. It was four or five feet 
square at the base, and served the double purpose of carrying 
off" the smoke and lighting the shanty. The fire-place was an 
altar of soil and stones surrounded with timbers, raised a foot 
or more from the floor, directly under the chimney. There 
were no windows. Around the sides were two tiers of sleep- 
ing-bunks. All throu^^i the Canada woods, wherever there 
is good pine timber, these shanties may be found. They are 
occupied in winter by twenty or thirty lumbermen, and after 
the timber is all culled, and transported from the vicinity, are 
abandoned. 

We cleared out the rubbish from the shanty, built a fire, 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 187 

gathered in great armfuls of balsam and hemlock boughs for 
beds, ate supper, wrapped our blankets about us, and slept our 
first night in the Canada woods. Already we had begun to 
feel a fresh vigor pulsating in our veins as we tramped the 
virgin soil, drank the pure water, and breathed the perfumed 
atmosphere of the woods. How new and rich the sensation 
of tramping all day in the rain and swamp-water, through 
unknown forests, and lying down at night on evergreen boughs 
to dream of loving hearts far away ! 

The next morning, Mr. Hutchins, who had been reconnoi- 
tering in a different direction, came up with us and reported 
he had found a better route. As there was no prospect of 
reaching the lake short of several days' travel, by this route, 
and as our provisions were nearly exhausted, we cooked a 
meal of red squirrels, and retreated. A definite plan was 
now arranged. A mile and a half east from McK.'s was Bass 
Lake. From Bass Lake to Salmon Lake there was an outlet 
five miles long. This outlet was reported navigable with ca- 
noes, but no one had voyaged through it for several years. 
P , who lived on Bass Lake, said the thing was practi- 
cable. We concluded to try it. On an island in Bass Lake 
grew lofty pines suitable for canoes. P was an experi- 
enced builder of that kind of craft. We would go to Bass 
Lake, build canoes, transport our baggage to the shore of that 
lake, and set sail — paddle, rather '■ — down the " Outlet." We 
worked cheerfully, happily, and hard for a week ; built three 
canoes, got our baggage across from McK.'s, loaded our ves- 
sels, and started. 

VOYAGE DOWN THE OUTLET. 

It was morning ; perhaps we should get to Salmon Lake, 
four or five miles distant, by nightfall. The mouth of the 
outlet was shallow and narrow, so that we had to deepen it 
with pick and shovel the day before. No matter ; it would 
grow deeper. One canoe was fifteen feet long, and thirty 
inches across the gunwale, carrymg three hundred pounds of 



baggage. Three persons occupied and managed it. The 



rmcr 



188 NARRATIVES. 

other canoes were small, — would carry one man each, and 
considerable freight. 

Gradually, very gradually, the water grew deeper, and the 
big canoe would occasionally float a rod or two, without much 
liftmg or tugging at the paddle. But it would soon strike a 
log. If the log was seven or eight inches below the surface 
of the water, the canoe could be pushed over, by using the 
paddles as poles, without much difficulty. If the log was 
nearer the surface, other tactics had to be resorted to. How 
we finally learned 

TO NAVIGATE A BOAT IN A SHALLOW STREAM FULL OF STONES 

AND LOGS, 

is thus told by J. H. N. : — 

" It sometimes happens that the trapper, in following his 
line, or in passing from one lake to another, finds himself with 
his boat in a small stream, with rocks and fallen trees obstruct- 
ing his way. The Oneida party, in descending from Bass 
Lake to Salmon Lake, encountered five miles of this kind of 
navigation. The creek that connects the two lakes was re- 
duced by drouth to a mere rivulet, with only occasional pud- 
dles large enough to float the boats ; and though somebody 
had forced a way through, some years before, by sawing and 
chopping away logs with incredible heroism and perseverance, 
much of his labor was lost to us, first, because the low state 
of the water brought out into bold relief the lower strata of 
logs, which he had easily sailed over ; and, secondly, because 
hundreds of new trees had fallen across the creek since his 
descent. Moreover, the beaver dams had all been repaired, 
and w^e had to work our way over twelve of them. We esti- 
mated by rough guess that the logs we cut through or dragged 
over numbered about twelve hundred, and the rough rocks 
(far worse than logs) that we polished with our boat-bottoms 
w^ere about as many more. In the course of nearly three 
days' work on these five miles of boating, it may be beHeved 
that we learned some practical lessons which it will be useful 
to record for the benefit of mture navigators. We tried two 
ways of getting along, as people generally do in travelling 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 189 

" Jordan roads ; " namely, first, the dainty, conservative way, 
and afterwards, when stern necessity had lectured us into an 
accommodating spirit, the " rough-and-ready " way. 

"the conservative way. 
" October in the Canada woods means means November in 
New York, as we found by the snow-squalls we encountered 
in those three days. Of course the water was far from being 
warm ; and of course the ex-clergyman, editor, and financier 
shrank a little from wetting their feet ! We were willing from 
the start to wade in water of moderate depth, say up to the 
ankle, or anywhere below the tops of our boots ; and with only 
this reservation we worked hard and heroically, and, to say 
the truth, conquered many obstructions and got along tolerably 
well ; that is to say, at the rate perhaps of a quarter of a mile 
in half a day. Three of us novices had in charge the big 
boat, wuth its load of three or four hundred pounds ; and our 
way was, when we came to a log that could be surmounted 
without chopping, first to run the bow on as far as we could 
by a \igorous shove of all hands. Then the man at the bow 
would step out carefully on the log^ so as not to take water into 
his boots, and, the bow being thus fightened, the remainder of 
the crew could shove it further on. The man on the log 
could not help much, as his footing was not secure, and he 
had as much as he could do to look out against wetting his 
feet, and to find a safe way back to his seat in the boat at the 
proper time. When we had worked along till the log was 
under the middle of the boat, the bow man would get in, and 
the 'midship man would get out, on the log of course; and 
finally, when the balancing crisis was past, and the stern came 
to be the point of friction, the 'midship man would get in, and 
the man behind get out, still on the log. In this way we kept 
our feet partially dry, that is, dry as they could be with water 
soaking through the leather, and running in at cracks ; but 
our progress was very slow. Night overtook us before we had 
accomplished a quarter of what we had undertaken as a mere 
afternoon's job ; and Heaven only knows whether we should 
have ever reached Salmon Lake if we had not at last con- 
cluded to try — 



190 NARRATIVES. 

" THE ROUGH-AND-READY WAY. 

" John P. had charge of one of the small boats, and at the 
same time kept within hailing distance of the large boat, so 
as to assist the three civilians at the worst pinches. He had 
seen service of this kind in other days, and knew that the best 
way was to *' take the bull by the horns." He laughed at our 
policy of keeping the water out of our boots by balancing and 
teetering on the logs, and set us an example of working on 
firm footing at the bottom of the creek, without regard to the 
depth of water. He reasoned and exhorted and scolded ; and 
slowly his radicalism began to prevail over our timidity. The 
ex-clergyman (otherwise called the inventor) first gave in and 
went to work in John P.'s fashion, without the fear of wet 
feet before his eyes. The financier soon followed suit, and 
the ex-editor, slowly, reluctantly, but finally with a faithful 
willfulness that beat us all, adopted the simple policy of con- 
sidering cold water a harmless medium to travel and work in, 
favorable probably to health by causing reaction. Thenceforth 
we worked at boat-shoving with free hands and firm feet, and 
a strenuous heartiness that changed toil into sport, and carried 
us triumphantly through the most tremendous job of uncivil 
engineering that three civilians ever undertook. The differ- 
ence between our first policy and our last was, that we began 
with trying to keep the water out of our boots, and ended 
with being contented to keep it out of our breeches pockets ! 

" After our first conversion to the " rough-and-ready " pol- 
icy, we had still to learn an important subordinate lesson in 
regard to the best way of economizing vital heat in dealing 
with the water in our boots. At first we imagined it was best 
to get rid of the cold and incumbrance of each bootfi,d we 
took in as soon as possible ; and, for this purpose, at every 
opportunity we would sit down and lift first one foot and then 
the other to a position about as high as the head, and let the 
water run out at the top of the boots, taking care of course to 
keep the pantaloons out of the reach of the torrent ; as, other- 
wise, what left the boots would run down in the cloth tube to 
the central and posterior regions of the body. But reflection 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 191 

convinced us that this practice of constantly changing the water 
in our boots was not wise. A bootful that has been worked 
in for some time becomes partially warm, and soon ceases to 
be uncomfortable so far as temperature is concerned. In fact 
it may be conceived of as a |kind of stocking, protecting the 
feet from the colder water outside, and not easily displaced by 
what flows in at the top. To turn out this warm water, there- 
fore, at every opportunity, and immediately take a charge of 
cold water in its place, was a great waste of vital heat, which 
we finally learned to avoid. Thus we came at last to work 
right along without paying any special attention to our feet, 
and found in pursuing this policy true economy of force every 
way, and no ultimate damage to health or comfort.'' 

The party also learned some other things on this voyage, 
which the same writer reports as follows : — 

" BEAVER DAMS. 

" Having opportunity for actual inspection of a great num- 
ber of beaver dams, we got some new ideas about them. Bea- 
vers do literally cut down trees and cut off logs. Their lower 
front teeth are really chisels. We found one that had dropped 
out, probably, from the jaw of a superannuated beaver. It 
was a curved tusk, two or three inches long, and, instead of 
being pointed, was beveled off at the end as accurately as 
any chisel, and had a true-cutting edge of a quarter of an 
inch in breadth. We saw many specimens of their work, 
which, at a Httle distance, could hardly be distinguished from 
axe-cuttings. Boys' hatchet-work would not compare with 
them for smoothness. 

" But the idea that beavers build any thing like a common 
human dam — namely, a regular log structure or stockade, ris- 
ing with a steep, definite slope against the stream — is a mis- 
take. Their dams are simply huge deposits of sticks and 
mud, mixed, and laid, apparently without much order, across 
the stream. We saw none that raised the water more than 
about a foot ; and sometimes the first notice we had of a dam 
was from running our boat aground in what had appeared to 
be deep and smooth water. Neither did we find any confir- 



192 NARRATIVES. 

mation of the popular statement that beavers strengthen 
their dams by a curve or angle up-stream. Some of the dams 
we saw were straight, and some curved down-stream, but not 
one curved or cornered up-stream. 

" HOW TO ' SHANTY.' 

" When night overtook us in the midst of our boat-dragging, 
the old trapper would say, * It is time to shanty.' By this 
he did not mean that it was time for us to go into a shanty, 
for there was no shanty within miles of us. He simply meant 
that it was time for us to prepare for the night. The ap^ 
proved method of ' shantying ' in this sense, as we learned 
it from several experiments under Mr. Hutchins's instruc- 
tion, shall be minutely described ; and ought to be carefully 
studied by all who are hable to be caught out in the woods in 
cold weather, with no lodging-place but the ground under the 
stars. 

" A party at work or on the march in the woods ought to 
stop and prepare for night at least an hour before dark ; as the 
work to be done is not trifling, nor can it be done without 
light. 

" The first matter to be attended to is the selection of a 
suitable place. Any smooth spot under the trees near your 
line of march might seem to be good enough ; especially if 
you are tired, and shivering with wet feet and w^et clothes, 
and want fire and supper as soon as possible. But, if you 
choose thus in a hurry, you may repent. You have a big 
load of substantial wood to prepare for your night's fire, 
and you must have reference to this in locating your camp. 
Soft-wood trees, such as hemlock and cedar, are good for 
nothing ; and you must not think of trusting to dead limbs 
and brushwood. A fire made of these may boil a pot and 
give you a momentary comfort ; but what you want is a huge, 
solid log-fire that will take care of you for hours together, and 
allow you to sleep in peace. You must find a spot where there 
are hard-wood trees, such as maple, beech, iron-wood, or 
birch, which you can fell right beside your fire-place. Other- 
wise you will have to conclude your day's work with some 



. EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 193 

of the hardest lugging that you ever tried. This matter of 
a good supply of hard, green fire-wood is first in import- 
ance. Next to this it is desirable to keep within moderate 
distance of a stream or spring, as you have the food to cook 
and the dishes to wash for supper and breakfast, and will 
need a good deal of water. Lastly, for a good place to sleep 
on, you must have in front of your fire-place a sm^ooth space, 
nearly level, sloping perhaps a Httle toward the fire, and if 
possible a little lower than the fire, so that the blaze will shine 
fairly over you and cover you as with a blanket. 

" Having chosen your spot, one of the party fells a tree as 
tall as can be found, and ten inches or a foot throuoh ; cuts 
the trunk into logs eight or ten feet long, and works up the 
top for small wood. In the mean time another man prepares 
and drives two stout stakes into the ground at the back of 
the fire-place, about six feet apart, and four feet high, brac- 
ing them from behind with other stakes sloping into notches 
near their tops. Three of the biggest logs are now placed, 
one upon another, against the stakes, forming a great wooden 
chimney-back, three or four feet high. For andirons you find, 
if possible, two large stones ; but, if stones are scarce, you cut 
a ten-inch hemlock, and, taking two short logs from the butt, 
place them against your back-logs at right angles to them. On 
these you lay the fourth of your great hard-wood logs ; and 
thus you have the foundation of your night's fire. While 
some are making these preparations, others ought to be gather- 
ing hemlock bark and dry Hmbs in great quantities to start 
the fire, and to enliven it from time to time. Also, if neces- 
sary, another hard-wood tree should be felled, that you may 
have one or two extra logs to put on towards morning. 

" The kindling of a fire in the woods, especially in a hard 
rain, requires some science. A good way is to find a dead 
cedar or other soft-wood tree that leans to the south. Tht- 
wood and bark on the sunny side of such a tree is sure to be 
dry. Split off some strips, and reduce them to fine whitlings 
with your jack-knife, under your coat or other cover : and, 
with careful manipulation of matches and kindling stuff, you 
will soon have a roaring fire under and over the great fore- 

13 



194 NARRATIVES. 

stick, that will defy the rain. Hemlock or pine bark, taken 
from dead trees, is excellent fuel for an incipient fire. But it 
must be laid on carefully in cob-house fashion, with the out- 
side next the fire. After a while, the furious blaze you 
have started with light material will get possession of the 
great green logs, and then the fire will take care of itself 
for hours. Almost literally it shall be to you a ' wall of fire ' 
through the long cold-night. 

" Now hang on the kettle for supper. This is easily done 
by cutting a pole ten or fifteen feet long, sharpening the large 
end, and thrusting it obliquely into the ground back of j^our 
fire-place, so that the small part will rest on the top back-stick, 
and the end will project over the fire. A twig left at the 
proper place will prevent the kettle from slipping. 

" All that remains, to make ready for sleep, is to prepare 
your bed. For this, hemlock or cedar boughs will do ; but 
balsam boughs are the best. The handiest way is to cut down 
a good-sized balsam-tree near your camp, and strip off its top 
brush either with your jack-knife or hatchet. This bed- 
material must not be tumbled into the sleeping-place pell-mell ; 
but must be carefully packed, bough by bough, by thrusting 
the stick-ends into and under the mass, and leaving the brush- 
ends to shingle over each other, like the feathers of a bird. If 
you neglect this, you must expect to roll and groan on hard 
sticks, instead of sleeping quietly on tree feathers. You sleep, 
of course, in your blanket, with your boots for your pillow, and 
with your feet to the fire. If ' the stars look kindly down ' 
upon you, no matter how cold the weather is. You can sleep 
within the magic circle of that Cyclopean fire, though the 
water freezes hard in your water-pail at a little distance. 

" But what if it rains ? Then the party must put their 
blankets into common stock, extemporize a shelter-tent with 
one or two of them, and sleep as well as they can under the 
rest, spread bed-fashion. For the frame-work of the tent you 
can cut five or six fish-poles, and thrust their large ends ob- 
liquely into the ground at the head of your bed, so that they, 
slope up over the place where you are to lie, like the rafters 
of a roof. You fasten the upper ends with strings to a trans- 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 195 

verse fish-pole ; and then you spread the blankets on the raf- 
ters, and fasten them by pinning them to the transverse pole 
and to each other at the middle edges. 

" N. B. — Beware of Exposing cotton fixings of any kind to 
the contingencies of a great open fire, with the winds busy 
and the sparks flying." 

The third day of the voyage, about noon, we reached the 
open waters of Salmon Lake, and never was a sight more 
welcome to tired travellers. 

SALMON LAKE 

Is a beautiful sheet of w^ater, six or eight miles long and 
from one to two miles wide. So far as we explored, we found 
it surrounded by an unbroken wilderness, excepting two small 
clearings formerly made by trappers and two deserted shan- 
ties. Two miles from where we located, there was a lumber 
shanty and a company engaged in the lumber business. 

HOW WE LIVED AT SALMON LAKE. 

This is told in a letter written by one of the party, as 
follows : — 

" At Bob Holland's old Shanty, \ 
" Salmon Lake, C. W., October 21, 1865. \ 

" Dear Friends, — Human society is, after all, but a great 
human body. The head and trunk and vital organs may be 
represented by the civilized and enlightened portions of man- 
kind, — those portions where intercommunication is the most 
close and continuous, where the moving forces are generated, 
and the highest workings of thought and feeling are developed 
and educated. But this great human body stretches its hands 
and feet out into the wilderness, where only the Indian, the 
pioneer, the trapper, and the lumberman are to be found ; and 
where hardihood, and battle with the elements, the forests, and 
the animals are the required and the prominent facts of life. 
Here the circulating fluids move slow^ly, the lines of communi- 
cation are far between, and the cuticle is thick and tough. The 
pulsations of the great heart are felt, but they are minute and 
feeble. The railroad has afar off given place to the stage- 



196 NARRATIVES. 

route, the stage-route to the lumber-road, the lumber-road to 
the blazed foot-path of the trapper and pioneer. The school- 
house is far beyond the horizon. The newspaper, that indis- 
pensability of the interior and supertor regions of the body, 
reaches here only by accident or rare chance. The sun here 
rises over the forest-crowned hills of the east, looks all day 
long on vast tracts of woodland, on clear-blue lakes wood- 
encircled, on soHtary shanties, where solitary men, or perhaps 
a man and a woman and some children, try to solve their 
problems of life ; looks through forest-branches perhaps on the 
dingy form of some solitary trapper, who wanders by shaded 
streams and sleeps by his log-fire ; and then it sets beyond the 
forest-crowned hills of the west. Here is where the hands 
and feet of humanity are found as it comes to take possession 
of the earth. Those extremities are worth coming to see, — 
worth getting acquainted with, — worth appreciating. ' The 
eye cannot say unto the hand, " I have no need of thee ; " nor 
again the head to the feet, " I have no need of thee." ' * We 
are all members one of another,' and should * remember those 
in bonds,' or in the wilderness and extremities of society, * as 
bound with them.' 

" BEYOND COCK-CROWING AND THE COW-BELLS. 

" An Oneida correspondent raises the query whether we 
have, after all, got beyond hearing the * crowing of the rooster 
or the tinkle of the cow-bells.' Our friends need give them- 
selves no anxiety on this point. The rocks and hills of this re- 
gion (Salmon Lake) are as free from the sound of the church- 
going and cow-going l>ells as the valleys and rocks of Robin- 
son Crusoe's island ; and the cry of no fowl more domestic in 
its habits than the loon ever echoed from these shores. Soli- 
tary human beings have sojourned here in former years. The 
old shanty which we temporarily occupy was once occupied 
by a trapper noted in these regions. This shanty is eight feet 
by ten, with an average height of five feet. There is an un- 
finished shanty of more ambitious proportions a few feet in the 
rear. On the opposite shore is an unoccupied log-hut. At 
the other end of the lake there is a new lumber shanty, which 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 19T 

is now occupied by twenty or thirty lumbermen. The sound 
of the great trees falling on the distant hill-sides, reminding 
one of the reports of far-off cannon, and the occasional ap- 
pearance of one of the shantymen's red canoes passing under 
the shadows of the cedars on the eastern shores, are the prin- 
cipal evidences that other human beings are near us. 

" ELEVEN DAYS ON SALMON LAKE. 

" We have now been at Salmon Lake about eleven days. 
They have been days of active campaigning. We have had 
to secure means and routes of regular communication with the 
outside world, bring up our baggage, select ground for our 
home-shanty, and commence the building of that structure ; 
had to do what we could in the way of securing a supply of 
fish, and attend to the daily duties of the camp-kitchen and 
quartermaster's department. I do not know that the details of 
any of these operations can be given in a way to make them 
specially interesting to you. Still there are some things that 
I will note. First, as to the 

" quartermaster's DEPARTMENT. 

" I judge that it has been seldom that five men (three of 
them six-footers, or thereabouts) have occupied more limited 
quarters than have we for the last week. The old shanty 
which we inhabit measures eight feet by ten on the floor, and 
is five feet high under the middle of its shed roof. In one 
corner is a stone fire-place, which discharges its smoke through 
a square hole in the roof. Between the fire-place and the 
door is a space about two feet and a half by three, sunk a little 
lower than the average of the shanty floor, in which the cook 
can stand to prepare the meals, and in which our shortest 
man, Mr. Campbell, can stand upright. The remainder of 
the floor is covered with balsam-bouorhs for a common bed. 
We can just crowd on to this bed (five of us) at night, by 
stretching ourselves spoon-fashion, with our heads on a log- 
pillow and our feet to the fire. It is rather a difficult matter 
for one to turn over without a simultaneous movement of the 
whole corps. By * moving careful,' however, and with mili- 



198 NARRATIVES. 

tary precision, the thing can be done. To lie out straight on 
one's back, between the heels and knees, and other protuber- 
ances of the sleepers on either side, is an equally difficult 
operation. Notwithstanding the smallness of our quarters, we 
are not troubled with the ventilation question. Our door is 
an old coat, which swings freely in the breeze, and rather as- 
sists the draught of the chimney ; besides which, there are vari- 
ous crevices in the walls and roof, where the moss and chink- 
ing have tumbled out, that give unimpeded entrance to the 
air, and exit to the surplus smoke. Across the shanty, just in 
front of the fire and over the foot of the bed, Mr. N. has 
placed a seat, which we call the 'deacon's seat.' In front of 
this, we erect a table at meal-time by placing a single leg un- 
der one end of a short hemlock slab, and inserting the other 
end between the logs of the shanty. It is crowding work to 
get round at evening and morning, or on rainy days, when 
baking and cooking are going on, and the table is being set. 
Yet we manage to keep good-natured, and enjoy it. Even 
such limited quarters are preferable, in the cool nights and 
days of late October, to the open camp in the woods, and we 
have been thankful for their temporary use." 

By this time we had our home-shanty about half built, and 
were contemplating a vigorous trapping campaign. We were 
looking the long Canada winter in the face, and rejoicing in 
the prospect of a battle with it. John P. had begun to set 
traps, and in the course of two nights had caught a fine mink 
and ten muskrats. We had selected a beautiful location on 
the north shore of the lake for a winter home. Rowing, 
spearing fish, felling trees, and shanty building had succeeded 
to the arduous toils of the voyage through the terrible " Out- 
let." The signs of game were rather scarce in the immediate 
vicinity of the lake, but our plans were to run lines of traps 
far back into the northern woods, where mink, marten, and 
beaver were supposed to exist in abundance. At this junct- 
ure it became evident that the health of our captain was not 
equal to the execution of the campaign he had planned. For 
most of the time since reaching McK.'s he had been partially 
disabled. Now, just as we were building our shanty^ and pre- 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 199 

paring for effective trapping, and were relying on him for lead- 
ership, he was prostrated for nearly two days, and unable to do 
any thing. A due consideration of his condition, of the fact 
that we were all novices in trapping except John P., and of the 
unfavorable indications of the region as to fur, led us to resolve 
on a retreat and a " change of base." J. H. N. tells the story 
of his 

LAST DAY IN CAMP, 

as follows : — 

" I was left alone in camp three or four days on account of 
a sore hand. In the first place I blistered it by chopping and 
paddling, and finally it became so bad that I could do neither 
with any comfort. So I stayed at home to be cook and maid 
of all work. I had remained there two or three days, leading 
very much such a life as Robinson Crusoe is reported to have 
done. The other men were off about two miles, and I had 
the whole shanty to myself, which was not a very great do- 
main. It was generally perfectly still, — not a sound to be 
heard. The slightest crackle was a startling event. I would 
jump up and look out to see what was coming, and perhaps 
it would prove to be a red squirrel, which would peer in 
through some hole in the shanty, and watch my movements. 
Several times a great bird flew over which I was unacquainted 
with. I learned afterwards that it was a raven. They are 
very much like crows, only larger, and with a voice somewhat 
different from that of the crow. In order to get along com- 
fortably I had to talk to myself a great deal. On the last 
day of my stay, J. P. Hutchins left in my charge certain tasks 
to be performed. For one thing, having caught ten muskrats, 
he wanted me to put the skins on stretchers. Then John 
Hutchins the elder, in the dawn of the morning, when you 
could hardly distinguish one thing from another, shot an ani- 
mal which proved to be a skunh. It was a large one, covered 
with fat ; and they left it in my charge to get the fat off and 
try it out for domestic purposes. We had been troubled for 
the want of light, and on killing the skunk it occurred to 
them that it was a fine opportunity to get some oil for our 
lamps. I commenced my day's work by washing up the 



200 NARRATIVES. 

dishes. By ' dishes ' I do not mean such as are found at crock- 
ery stores. We had just got our tin plates. (Previously we 
had eaten off cedar shingles, with wooden spoons.) Then I 
mended my pantaloons, wdiich had sustained a damage one 
night before, while I was lying near the fire in one of the 
Canton-flannel bags that Mr. Newhouse recommended. Just 
as I was going so sleep I felt something biting or stinging my 
legs, and, on looking, found that I was on fire. With some 
difficulty we put it out, after a large hole was burned in the 
bag, and two small ones in my pantaloons. So, as I said, I 
proceeded to patch these holes. After that I took hold of the 
business of making a bag of my blanket. I like the idea of a 
bag to sleep in, but it ought not to be made of cotton. Mr. 
Pitt hung up his overalls one night before the fire to dry, and 
when he got up the next morning only a few little pieces and 
the buttons were left. We found that cotton clothing about a 
camp-fire is too liable to get burned up. So I took my woolen 
blanket and sewed it up into a regular sack, which I liked 
very much. After that I went through with the work of put- 
ting the muskrat-skins on the stretchers. Then I went and 
got the fat off" from the skunk, and tried it out in one of our 
spiders or sauce-pans, and made a little tin tunnel and put the 
oil into a bottle. Then I put the sauce-pan into the fire and 
heated it red-hot, to take out the odor of the skunk. That 
was my last work. By this time it was pretty well along in 
the afternoon. I sat down and began to study. 

" It was evident from the failing health of John Hutchins, 
on wdiom we had relied as the captain of the expedition, but 
whose advanced age and former hardships in the army and 
the woods, by flood and field, now told on him, and from the 
comparative scarcity of game both for food and fur in the dis- 
trict where we were, that the trapping part of the enterprise 
would not be made to pay. We had had the advantage of a 
month's " roughing it " in the woods, and had established 
communication with frontiermen on their own ground ; and it 
appeared clear that our true course now was to get out of the 
woods and fall back upon the second object of the expedition, 
namely, the buying of furs. I accordingly advised a retreat 



EXPEDITION M THE LAURENTIAK HILLS. 201 

of the party towards the settlements on the Hastings Road, 
and the next day left myself for the ' States.' " 

THE RETREAT. 

Two days were spent in repacking our baggage, transporting 
it across Salmon Lake, and down through Gull Lake to the foot 
of the latter, and then we were ready to return to McKillican's. 
We had discovered a new route to Salmon Lake, one by 
which a greater part of the labor and trouble of the Bass Lake 
passage might have been avoided. Four miles from our shanty, 
at the foot of Gull Lake, were CannifF's Mills ; and from thence 
a tolerable road connected with the Hastino-s Road five miles 
below McKillican's. We had been unable to learn anv thino- 
satisfactory about this route till after we had got to the lake. 
Our provisions and baggage had been brought round to Can- 
niff 's by wagon. They were to go back by the same con- 
veyance. Our baggage being all safely stored in Canniff 's 
mill, we packed our shoulder baskets, shouldered our rifles, 
and started on a seven-mile tramp through the woods to Mc- 
Killican's. On arriving at the Hastings Road, we at once be- 
gan to organize for the fur-buying campaign. Mr. Noyes had 
gone home. Mr. Hutchins and John P. left soon after for the 
same destination. Messrs. Campbell and Pitt remained to buy 
furs. They were soon after joined by Mr. Newhouse, and 
two months were spent very pleasantly tramping over the 
rough roads and through the snows. Of this kind of travel 
the writer performed about four hundred miles. We formed 
an extensive and pleasant acquaintance with all the leading 
trappers of the region, who are a class of interesting men. 
We bought nearl}' a thousand dollars' worth of furs, the pro- 
fits on which were not quite sufficient to cover the expenses 
of the whole campaign. We returned to our Oneida home 
the last week in December, hearty and strong. In its health- 
producing results the expedition had paid many fold for all it 
had otherwise cost. In looking back upon it, in view of all 
its benefits in this respect, the physical and spiritual heroism 
which it developed, three of our number at least — the in- 
ventor, the ex-financier and the ex-editor — will always re- 



202 NARRATIVES. 

member it with thankfulness. I will conclude my history of 
the expedition with a dissertation by J. H. N. on the 

" MIRAGES OF THE SPORTING WORLD. 

" The visions of far-oif cities, palaces, gardens, fountains, and 
lakes that beguile the tired and thirsty pilgrims of the desert 
are probably but tame and rare illusions compared with those 
that lure hunters, fishermen, and trappers, or the myriads of 
men and boys all over the world that would be such, on and 
on, year after year, in the pursuit of boundless successes that 
are always looming in the distance, but are never reached. 
For one, I confess that ever since I was ten years old I have 
been seeking from time to time, in all directions and by many 
wearisome excursions, for that paradise of sportsmen where 
one can bag the nicest game in any quantities " as fast as he 
can load and fire," or where he can catch bass or trout of any 
desirable size " as fast as he can put in his hook ; " but I have 
never found it ! The exact spot has been pointed out again 
and again by very credible informants ; but always, when I 
have reached it, there has been some mistake about it. Either 
I had come a few days, too soon, or a few days too late ; or 
the desired region was a few miles further on, or off* to the 
right or left, or even back of where I started ; or somebody 
had got in before me, and had just disappeared with the load 
of luck that I expected ; or the weather was wrong ; or the 
time of day was wrong ; or I had not the right kind of tools 
and tackle. Thus in one way or another, as a sportsman, I 
have never got much beyond moderate luck, with hard work 
and hard fare ; and I have come to the conclusion that the 
sporting world is full of mirages^ that ought to be exposed and 
expounded for the benefit of rising generations. 

" I do not believe that my indifferent success is owing alto- 
gether to individual bad luck or bad management, but that it 
is an average sample of general experience. I hear the same 
story from multitudes of amateurs (told of course in their 
lucid intervals), and even from old Nimrods. John P. Hutch- 
ins said that he " never got through a trapping campaign 
without wondering at himself that he should be such a fool as 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 203 

to leave a good home and a civilized business to plunge him- 
self into a purgatory of unspeakable hardships for small profits 
and little sport." And even his father, tough as he is in 
muscle and story-telling, said nearly the same thing. 

" The illusions that cover the sporting world come mostly 
from the inveterate bragging and exaggerations of sportsmen 
themselves. The old hunter tells all he can, and more than 
he can truthfully, of his exploits ; and says as little as possible 
of his failures, and the miseries which his successes cost him. 
Thus the mirage rises, and they who are deceived by it, in 
their turn, learn to brag of their exploits and conceal their 
failures; and so the deception passes on from man to man, 
and from generation to generation. 

" I mean to step out of this practice, and tell some things 
about our Canada expedition that will tend to sober the ex- 
pectations of novices, and put them on their guard against 
inflated reports and promises of sport. 

" We went to Canada in full expectation of being able to 
get plenty of venison and fish for our winter supplies. When 
we came away, all hopes of getting these provisions had van- 
ished, and we had found it necessary to borrow meat of our 
neighbors, the lumberers, and were about to send to Montreal 
for a barrel of mess-pork ! 

" Our illusions vanished one after another in this fashion. 
We were told that at Bass Lake we could catch fine, large 
bass in any quantities, either by drop-Hne or trolling. We 
fished patiently with drop-lines at various times for hours to- 
gether, and got one nibble ! We trolled the lake up and down 
with two boats, and caught one bass of perhaps a pound 
weight ! 

" We were told that at Salmon Lake, during a week or ten 
days after the 8th of October, we should find myriads of sal- 
mon-trout on their spawning beds every evening, and could 
spear boat-loads of them and salt them down for winter use. 
We had prepared two excellent spears and a jack ; and we 
worked hard to gather " fat pine ; '' and we laid in a store of 
salt. But we had no success in finding fish, except on one 
night, and then only in moderate numbers. All we caught 



204 NARRATIVES. 

were ten trout, averaging perhaps two pounds apiece, and one 
fine one of over twelve pounds. We had no occasion to salt 
them, as five of us easily disposed of them otherwise in the 
course of a week. 

" We were told that we could kill all the deer that we should 
want for the winter. The understanding was that, just before 
freezing time, we should lay in our stock. I asked how many 
deer would probably be a fair supply for the party. The an- 
swer was, ' About twenty.' Such were our expectations. 
The reality was this : Our party had the opportunity of see- 
ing at a distance the chase and killing of two deer in Bass 
Lake, by resident hunters. These were all the deer that were 
taken in Bass Lake or in Salmon Lake within our sight and 
hearing, or within our knowledge by rumor, during the whole 
of our twenty days on the hunting grounds. The dogs were 
baying frequently, and hunters did their best, but no more 
deer were taken. We had not the shghtest chance of killing 
any in the usual way by running them into the lakes, as our 
dog was only a puppy that was more likely to lose himself 
than to find deer. As to the chance of getting venison by the 
' still hunt,' that is, by shooting deer in the woods, there was 
little encouragement, as our party only saw one on land 
during all our journeyings. 

" But how about hears ? You didn't kill any, of course, but 
did you see or hear of any ? Well, I will tell you all about 
bears. We expected to have something to do with them, and 
provided ourselves w^ith a couple of Newhouse's famous bear- 
traps ; but we did not set them, and of course did not catch 
any. We saw scratches on a stump, which Mr. Hutchins pro- 
nounced to be the work of a bear's claws made for sport, as a 
cat airs her hooks sometimes by scratching. One night, when 
we went camping out, Mr. Pitt heard a terrible noise that lie 
thought bad enough to be a bear's growl ; but it proved to be 
the complaint of an owl. And, to conclude, we had a view 
— in fact, rather too near a view — of a grisly skeleton of a 
bear, lying by the side of the path leading from our Crusoe 
shanty to the lake, — a relic left us by some previous hunter 
and the ravens. That was the nearest we came to seeing a 
bear. 



EXPEDITION TO THE LAURENTIAN HILLS. 205 

" To cut the matter short, What did you shoot ? I killed a 
partridge and a pigeon. Mr. Pitt killed several red squirrels 
(which, cooked with some dried beef for want of salt, made 
an excellent stew). John P. killed some squirrels and a par- 
tridge. Mr. Hutchins killed a skunk. Besides these, we hit 
several paper marks, and some we did not hit. This is a 
true account of our hunting and fishing down to the time of 
our ' change of base ' and my departure for the States. 

" A tender conscience and compassion for the inexperienced 
prompts these confessions. Of course the veterans can do bet- 
ter. They have had their say, and will get more credit than 
we greenhorns any way. All ears are open to them. As a 
counterpoise to their exciting stories, we feel bound to leave it 
as our last word to amateur hunters and trappers, that they 
should not set their hearts on external success and pleasure, 
but rather on the benefits to be derived from hard discipline. 
In that case, we can assure them that they will not be disap- 
pointed." 



APPENDIX 



HISTORY OF THE NEWHOUSE TRAP. 

By G. W. NOYES. 



Mount with me, friendly reader, the winged horse of imag- 
ination for a trip towards the sunset. Away we speed, by the 
busthng towns and cities of the West, by the galfward-rolhng 
Mississippi, by the fertile prairies of Iowa and the plains of 
Nebraska, by the fringe of squatter settlements that bound 
•'ivilization in that direction, and by the final hunter's cabin 
ihat projects, a faint landmark of repose, into the encircling 
wilderness. On again five hundred miles further. We are 
now among the buffaloes ; and yet another five hundred in a 
northwesterly direction places us somewhere in the region of 
the head waters of three, or perhaps four, great river systems, 
those of the Missouri, the Columbia, the Saskatchewan, and 
Mackenzie's River ; having their several outlets in the Gulf of 
Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic, and the Polar 
Sea : a wild and sohtary place. On one side, snow-capped 
mountains rise in desolate grandeur to a height of 15,000 feet. 
Dark forests belt the landscape, where streams, issuing from 
deep gorges in the hills, break to the level of the plains below. 
Follow this rocky canon to where its stream and bed widen 
into a marsh. We are now among the haunts of the beaver, 
otter, and mink. We deem ourselves the only human visitants 
of this remote place. But look ! a moccasin track in the sand 
tells us that some one has been here before us. Its course is 
toward the margin of yonder sluggish pool ; and, as we yet 



HISTOKY OF THE NEWHOUSE TRAP. 207 

trace the steps with our eye, cHck ! a clash of steel, and the 
heavy plunge of an animal in the water, struggling between 
iron jaws at the end of an iron chain, tell at once the story of 
the Rocky Mountain trapper and his game. 

If not tired with this jaunt, allow a year to pass, and then, 
on the same handy roadster as before, fly A^th me a similar 
journey in the opposite direction. We alight at one of the 
great European capitals ; let it be London. It is night ; the 
gUtter of gas and glass around us, the whirl of fashion and the 
roar of trade, with the miles of crowded pavement that 
stretch away on every side, almost obliterate the conception 
of such a thing as rural nature, to say nothing of primitive 
forest solitude. Here in the aristocratic West End, a mansion 
door opens ; a lady, robed and protected a la mode (for the 
night is cool), and attended by powdered footmen, advances, 
enters a coroneted carriage, and rolls off to opera or court. 

Do you see any connection between these two incidents of 
antipodal real life ? None is obvious, certainly ; yet, on noting 
the lady's costume, a tie of association is at once established ; 
for that London dame this moment presses against her dehcate 
cheek the/wr of the animal whose death-plunge we heard in 
the mountain stream of the Northwest. Thus, between my 
lady the Duchess and the Oregonian trapper, betw^een the 
Saskatchewan and the Strand, there is a chain of relations of 
which the middle hnk, both locally and causatively, is the 
Oneida Community Trap-Shop. If you had examined the 
trap whose snap was fatal to the mink on our first flight, and 
whose spoils you saw adorning European loveliness in our 
second, you would probably have found stamped on its steel 
spring the words, " S. Newhouse, Oneida Community, N. Y." 
The extraordinary growth of trapping as an occupation 
within the last ten years, stimulated in part by the remuner- 
ative price of furs, and in part by the ever- extending arc of 
frontier settlement^ at the West, but still more perhaps by the 
improvement in the manufacture of traps made by the Com- 
munity under the supervision of its chief in that department, 
Mr. Sewell Newhouse, will justify us in giving a sketch of 
the history of the trap business and of its founder. 



208 APPEKDIX. 

Mr. Newhouse is a native of Brattleboro, Vt. His pater- 
nal grandfather was an English soldier, who, having been 
taken prisoner by the Americans at the battle of Bunker Hill, 
afterwards adopted this country as his home. From Brattle- 
boro, the parents of Mr. Newhouse removed during his in- 
fancy to Colerain, Mass. ; and in 1820, when he was fourteen 
years old, the family emigrated to Oneida County, N. Y. 
This central part of the State of New York, if not then an 
actually new country, retained some of the features of a fron- 
tier settlement. The Erie Canal, though it was building, was 
not finished till several yt^ars later ; and travel was mainly 
accomplished by mean of stage-coaches, which at some sea- 
sons plowed their toilsome way through se^s of mud. The 
large kinds of game, as deer, bears and wolves, were not ex- 
tinct in the great forest basin of Oneida Lake. Fur-bearing 
animals and salmon abounded in the streams ; and a remnant 
of the Iroquois Indians, several thousand in number, inhabit- 
ing reserved lands in this and the neighboring counties, with 
their bow-and-arrow proclivities, gave a somewhat primitive 
cast to the population. 

With a stout constitution and a taste for field-sports, drawn 
perhaps from his English forefathers, Mr. Newhouse found 
his youth not inaptly placed in such a region. While mak- 
ing the usual school attainments in education, and rendering 
his share of assistance on the family farm, he also became 
known as a successful woodsman, wise in the ways of all 
sorts of game, from wild geese to honey-bees, and from bull- 
pouts to bears. The instinct of a successful hunter or trap- 
per amounts almost to a sixth sense ; and this inevitable track- 
ing faculty which enables one man to detect the signs of 
game and to seize the strategic point for its capture, which 
to another are quite unintelligible, was strong in young New- 
house. It is unsafe for a pigeon to alight, or for a muskrat 
to make an audible plunge, within three ipiles of such a boy. 
Vulpine cunning may suffice to elude the common range of 
observation, but it is no match for the awakened sharpness of 
the practiced woodsman. 

The need of a trapper in a new country is not piano-fortes, 



HISTORY OF THE NEWHOUSE TRAP. 209 

or cartes de visite^ but traps. At seventeen, Mr. Newhouse 
felt this need, and in the absence of other means of obtaining 
a supply, he set to work to make them. The iron parts of 
fifty or more were somewhat rudely fashioned in a black- 
smith's shop, and for the steel springs the worn-out blades 
of old axes were made to serve as material. A mechanic 
of chance acquaintance showed the young artisan how to tem- 
per the springs. The traps thus extemporized proved, on the 
whole, a success ; for they would catch, and what they caught 
they held. After the season's use, they were sold to neigh- 
boring Indians for sixty-two cents apiece, and the making of a 
new supply was entered upon. These in turn were sold and 
replaced, and thus the manufacture of " Newhouse Traps " 
was launched. 

During the next twenty years Mr. Newhouse worked at 
trap-making, sometimes alone and sometimes with a partner or 
with hired help. The extent of his manufacture was from 
one to two thousand traps per year, which supplied the local 
demand, and procured for him a reputation for skill in what- 
ever pertained to wood-craft. During this period he also en- 
gaged to some extent in rifle-making ; and his amateur pro- 
ductions in this line, being noted for their shooting qualities, 
were considerably sought after. The working season was 
generally varied by a trapping excursion to the *' Brown 
Tract " or to Oneida Lake, which improved his practical in- 
sight into the details of trapology, and also gave the shghtly 
woody flavor to the man that is observable in his taste and 
ways. At certain seasons he is still subject to a periodical per- 
turbation, tending towards the North Woods, which, though 
now but seldom indulged, is a sure sign that he has some time 
been a liege follower of one of the three ancient Rods. 

There are allusions made by the neighbors to feats of 
strength in wrestling, running, &c., formerly performed by 
Mr. Newhouse. Such is the traditional anecdote of a thor- 
ough taming given by him to one or two big Indians who, 
in a state of drunken pugnacity, forced a quarrel upon him 
in the street. But, not having verified these stories, and Mr. 
Newhouse being himself reticent on such subjects, they may 

14 



210 APPENDIX. 

better be left to the keeping of that hazy kind of romance 
which time gathers about the exploits of the Robin Hoods, Davy 
Crocketts, and other backwoodsmen of history. We may say 
that, while clearly the possessor of much muscular power 
and dexterity to be used in an emergency, Mr. Newhouse is 
a man of gentle disposition, and is regarded by the remaining 
red men of his vicinity as their true friend. 

The characteristics which Mr. Newhouse possesses as a 
mechanic are a critical eye, sound judgment of material rela- 
tions, nicety of hand, and a conscientious attention to the 
mmidion of any mechanism, on which so often its proper work- 
ing depends. As a trap-maker, his original idea was to make 
faultless traps, and nothing could swerv^e him from this point. 
His solicitude has been that they should catch game, whether 
they caught custom or not. The reputation which has come 
to him on this basis, has made it seem desirable to other man- 
ufacturers, in some other instances, to pirate his name to give 
currency to their imitations of the " Newhouse Traps." But 
this quality of particularity, so valuable in the pursuit of ex- 
cellence, if not combined w^ith other talents does not always 
lead to great business success ; and the Oneida trap-maker 
would perhaps have scarcely risen above a local celebrity, but 
for the introduction of him and his business to a new element 
of energy and enterprise in the Oneida Community. 

THE COMMUNITY " NEWHOUSE TRAP." 

The Community established itself at Oneida, about two 
miles from the residence of Mr. Newhouse, in 1848, and the 
next summer he and his family entered it as members. For 
several years after this, but little attention was paid to the 
trap business. A few dozens wxre made occasionally by Mr. 
Newhouse in the old way ; but it was not until 1855, under a 
call for traps from Chicago and New York, that practical in- 
terest was first directed to this branch of manufacture, with 
a view to its extension, by Mr. J. H. Noyes. Arrangements 
were then made for carrying on the business in a shop fifteen 
feet by twenty-five. The tools consisted of a common forge 
and bellows, hand-punch, swaging-mould, anvil, hammer, and 



HISTORY OF THE NE WHO USE TRAP. 211 

file. The shop so established employed about three hands. 
The next year it was removed to a larger room in a building 
connected with water-power, and the number of hands was 
increased. Among them were Leonard F. Dunn, George W. 
Hamilton, and sevferal other young machinists, who, together 
with Messrs. Noyes and Newhouse, exercised their inventive 
powers in devising mechanical appliances to take the place of 
hand labor in fashioning the different parts of the trap. A 
power-punch w^as the first machine introduced, then a rolling 
apparatus for swaging the jaws. Soon it was found that mal- 
leable cast-iron could be used as a substitute for w^r ought-iron, 
in several parts of the traps. The brunt of the labor ex- 
pended had always been in the fabrication of the steel spring, 
and this was still executed with hammer and anvil wholly by 
hand. Two stalwart men, with a two-hand sledge and a 
heavy hammer, reduced the steel to its elementary shape by 
about one hundred and twenty blows, and it was afterward 
finished by a long series of lighter manipulations. The at- 
tempt was made to bring this part of the work within the 
grasp of machinery. One by one the difficulties in the way 
were overcome by the ingenuity of our machinists, until at 
length the whole process of forming the spring, from its con- 
dition as a steel bar to that of the bent, bowed, tempered, and 
elastic article ready for use, is now executed by machinery 
almost without the blow of a hammer. The addition of chain- 
making (also executed mostly by machine power) makes the 
manufacture of traps and their attachments complete. 

The statistics of the business thus extended are in part as 
follows : Eight sizes of traps are made, for the different 
grades of animals, from the house-rat to the bear ; w^hich have 
to a great extent superseded the use and importation of for- 
eign traps in this country and Canada. The number of these 
made at the Community works during the last eight years is 
over three fourths of a milhon. The number of hands em- 
ployed directly has been, in the busiest seasons, about sixty, 
besides twenty-five or thirty who have found employment else- 
where in supplying the iron castings for traps. The amount 
of American iron and steel used is over 300,000 pounds an- 
nually. 



212 APPENDIX. 

We may add that, to complete their arrangements for car- 
rying on this business to the fullest extent of the possible de- 
mand for traps, the Community have built recently a new 
manufacturing establishment on a water-power about a mile 
f^om their former works, which will enable them to more than 
duplicate their production. A view of the new buildings is 
given at the beginning of this chapter. 

With the progress of improvement in their process of man- 
ufacture, the cost and price of traps have correspondingly di- 
minished, so that now the western pioneer or farmer's boy 
can equip himself with traps of far better quality than the 
weak and clumsy articles in former use, and at much less 
price. The influence of these little utensils, now so widely 
used, on the progress of settlement, civilization and comfort, 
will occur to every observer. The first invaders of the wil- 
derness must have other resources for immediate support than 
are offered by the cultivation of the soil. These are present 
in the valuable peltries of fur-bearing animals which are the 
occupants of the soil in advance of man. Hence the trap for 
securing them, going before the axe and the plow, forms the 
prow with which iron-clad civilization is pushing back bar- 
baric soHtude ; causing the bear and beaver to give place to 
the wheat-field, the library, and the piano. Wisconsin might, 
not inappropriately, adopt the steel-trap into her coat-of-arms ; 
and those other rising empires of the West — Kansas, Colorado, 
Nevada, and golden Idaho — have been in their germ and in- 
fancy suckled, not like juvenile Rome by a wolf, but by what 
future story will call the noted wolf-catcher of their times, — 
the Oneida Community " Newhouse Trap." 



DESCRIPTION OF THE NEWHOITSE TRAP. 





There are eight clifterent sizes of the Newhouse Trap, 
adapted to the capture of all kinds of animals, from the 
house rat to the grizzly bear. 



No. 0. 



The smallest size having but recently been introduced in- 
to the series, is designated as No. 0, and is called the Rat 
Trap. It has a single spring, and the jaws spread, when set, 
tliree inches and a half. It is designed for the house rat, but 
-isstrons: enou2:h to hold the muskrat. 



No. 1. 



No. 1 is called the Muskrat Trap. It has one spring, and 
the jaws spread four inches. It is adapted to the capture of 
the mink, marten, and all the smaller fur-bearinar animals. 



No. n 



No. H (also recently introduced), is called the Mink 
Trap. It has but one spring; and the jaws spread four 
inches and seven-eighths. It is strong enougli for the fox 
<a- fisher. 



No. 2. 



No. 2 is called the Fox Trap. It lias two springs, and 
the jaws spread four inches and seven-eighths. It is strong 





214 



APPENDIX. 




enough for the fisher or even the otter. Trappers sometimes 
liave ordered this size with single instead of double springs. 
No. 1 J is intended to meet such demands. 



No. 3. 



No. 3 is called the Otter Trap. The jaws sj^read five 
inches and a half It will hold any of the medium-sized 
animals, such as the beaver, the badger, the raccoon, the 
opossum and the wild-cat. 



No. 4. 



No. 4 is called the Beaver Trap. The jaws spread six 
inches and a half It is adapted to the wolf or the lynx. — 
Extra sets of jaws with teeth constructed expressly for taking 
deer, are made to fit this trap, and can be had separately, 
or may be inserted in the place of the ordinary jaws. 





No. 5 is called the Small Bear Trap. The jaws spread 
eleven inches and three-fourths. The weight of each spring 
is two pounds and ten ounces, and the weight of the whole 
trap is seventeen pounds. It is adapted to the common black 
bear, the panther, and most of the large animals f )und this 
side of the Eocky Mountains. 

All these traps are furnished with swivels, and if desired, 
with chains. 



DESCRIPTION OF THE NEWHOUSE TRAP. 



215 



THE GEE AT BEAR TAMER! 




No. 6 is called the 
Great Bear Trap. The 
jaws spread sixteen 
inches. The weight of 
each spring is six lbs.; 
weight of the trap with 
chain forty-two lbs. 
This is the trap for the 
Moose and the Grizzly 
Bear. Its tremendous 
power of taming wild 
beasts is already known 
in the mountains of Cal- 
ifornia ; but it ought to 
be known, and we trust 
it will be, ere long, in 
all parts of the world- 
Its use need not be con- 
fined to the capture of 
animals for their furs. 
In the interest of civil- 
ization, it ought to go 
wherever ferocious ani- 
mals exclude man from 
the soil, India, in all 
her jungles, needs it to 
exterminate the Tiger. 
Africa needs it in her 
long battle with the 
Lion. South America 
needs it for grappling 
with the Jaguar and the 
Boa Constrictor. There 
is not an animal living 
that can defy it, unless 
it is the Elephant, whose 
foot may be too large 
for'it ; and even the Ele- 
phant, taken by the 
trunk, would have to 
succumb. It is safer, 
and far more sure and 
effectual than fire-arms 
in encounters with any 
of these monsters ; and 
ought to be put in the 
very front of the battle 
of man against the sav- 
ages of the forest and 
the desert. 



CONCLUSION. 



A learner of any art requires good rules, good examples, 
good tools to work with and good practice. Our task has 
been to furnish the first three of these requisites for mastering 
the art of Trapping. In the first part of this book Mr. New- 
house gives good rules. In the Narratives the learner will 
find good examples. In the Appendix we show him 
where he may find good tools. The good practice must be 
the work of his own genius and resolution. 



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