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´╗┐Title: Canadian Wilds - Tells About the Hudson's Bay Company, Northern Indians and - Their Modes of Hunting, Trapping, Etc.
Author: Hunter, Martin
Language: English
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Tells About the Hudson's Bay Company, Northern
Indians and Their Modes of Hunting,
Trapping, Etc.



Copyright 1907
By A. R. Harding Publishing Co.


  I. The Hudson's Bay Company
  II. The Free Trader
  III. Outfitting Indians
  IV. Trackers of the North
  V. Provisions for the Wilderness
  VI. Forts and Posts
  VII. About Indians
  VIII. Wholesome Foods
  IX. Officers' Allowance
  X. Inland Packs
  XI. Indian Mode of Hunting Beaver
  XII. Indian Mode of Hunting Lynx and Marten
  XIII. Indian Mode of Hunting Foxes
  XIV. Indian Mode of Hunting Otter and Musquash
  XV. Remarkable Success
  XVI. Things to Avoid
  XVII. Anticosti and Its Furs
  XVIII. Chiselling and Shooting Beaver
  XIX. The "Indian Devil"
  XX. A Tame Seal
  XXI. The Care of Blistered Feet
  XXII. Deer Sickness
  XXIII. A Case of Nerve
  XXIV. Amphibious Combats
  XXV. Art of Pulling Hearts
  XXVI. Dark Furs
  XXVII. Indians Are Poor Shots
  XXVIII. A Bear in the Water
  XXIX. Voracious Pike
  XXX. The Brass-Eyed Duck
  XXXI. Good Wages Trapping
  XXXII. A Pard Necessary
  XXXIII. An Heroic Adventure
  XXXIV. Wild Oxen
  XXXV. Long Lake Indians
  XXXVI. Den Bears
  XXXVII. The Mishaps of Ralson

  [Illustration: Martin Hunter]


By the courtesy of Forest and Stream and Hunter-Trader-Trapper these
articles are republished in book form by the author.

I have been induced to bring them out a second time under one cover
by the frequent requests of my fellow bushmen who were kind enough to
criticise them favorably when they first appeared in the magazine.

In this preamble I think it proper and possibly interesting to the
reader to have a short synopsis of my career.

I entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1863 as a clerk
and retired in 1903 a commissioned officer of twenty years' standing.

The modes of Trapping and Hunting were learned directly by personal
participation in the chase with the Indians and the other stories
heard first hand from the red man.

My service in the employ of the Great Fur Company extended from
Labrador in the East to Fort William on Lake Superior in the West and
from the valley of the St. Lawrence in the South to the headwaters of
its feeders in the North.

By canoes and snowshoes I have traveled on the principal large rivers
flowing south from the height of land, among them I may mention the
Moisee, Bersimis, St. Maurice, Ottawa, Michipocoten, Pic and Nepigon.

I have hunted, trapped and traded with the Montagnais, Algonquins and
Ojibways, the three largest tribes that inhabit the country mentioned
in the foregoing boundaries and therefore the reader can place
implicit reliance in what is herein set forth. Giving a synopsis of
the history of The Hudson's Bay Company, its Forts and Posts and the
Indians they traded with as well as other incidents of the Canadian





The Hudson's Bay Company was incorporated in the year 1670 and
received its charter from Charles the Second, making it today the
longest united company that ever existed in the world.

In 1867 when the different provinces of old Canada were brought under
the Dominion Confederation, the Company ceded its exclusive rights,
as per its charter, to the government of Canada, making this vast
territory over which the Company had held sway for nearly two hundred
years, free for hunters, trappers and traders.

Prince Rupert, of England, was associated with the first body of
"Adventurers Trading into Hudson's Bay," for such were they
designated in the charter and the charter gave them the right to
trade on all rivers and their tributaries flowing into Hudson's Bay.

They established their first forts or factories at the mouths of the
principal rivers that fall into the bay on the east, south and west
shores, such as East Main, Rupert's, Moose, Albany, Churchill and a
few intermediate small outposts along the seashore. They endeavored
to draw the interior Indians down to the coast to trade but after a
few years they found that the long journey to the factories took up
so much of the Indian's time and left them, after their return to
their hunting grounds, so exhausted from their strenuous exertions in
negotiating the turbulent and swift flowing waters, that the
company's management decided to stretch out and establish trading
places up the different rivers.

This small beginning of a post or two up each river was gradually
continued ever further south, ever further west, as the requirements
of the fur trade necessitated, there the company pushed in and
followed their own flag, a blood red ground with H. B. C. in white
block letters in the center.

This flag is known from Labrador to the Pacific and from the St.
Lawrence river to the Arctic regions. Several would-be wits have
given these mysterious letters odd meanings. Among several I call to
memory, "Here Before Christ," "Hungry Belly Company" and "Here Before

Two ships visited the Bay each summer bringing supplies for the next
winter and taking back to England the furs and oil collected during
the past season. The coming of these ships, one to York Factory and
the other to Moose Factory, was the event of the year as they brought
the only mail the "Winterers" received from friends and relatives in
far away Old England.

Navigating the Bay was done pretty much by the rule of "Thumb."
Notwithstanding its being one of the most dangerous bodies of water
in America it is wonderful (now that the Bay is fairly well charted
and shows up most of the dangerous reefs and shoals) how few
accidents these old navigators had in taking their ships in and out
of the Bay.

Much depended on those same ships reaching their destination.
Starvation would confront the officers and servants in the country
and the want of the returns in England during those early days of the
venture would have been a serious setback to their credit. While the
ships were in the roadstead unloading and loading it was an anxious
time to the captain and the officer ashore for as the work had to be
done by lighters (the ship lying three miles from the land) there was
always the danger of a strong wind springing up. In such events the
boats scurried ashore while the ship slipped her cable and put to sea
till fair weather.

In parting with their charter to the Canadian Government the company
reserved certain acreages about each and every one of their forts and
posts besides two sections in each township from the Lake of the
Woods to the Rocky Mountains and from the international boundary line
to the northern edge of the Fertile Belt. These reserves of land sold
to the incoming settlers as the country is filling up is a great
source of revenue to the share holders and are becoming more and more
valuable each succeeding year.

Where most of the old prairie posts stood in the old days, the
company now have "Sale Shops" for the whites and at these places they
are successfully meeting competition, by the superiority and
cheapness of the goods they supply.

In old Canada the fur trade had always been the principal commerce of
the country and after the French regime several Scotch merchants of
Montreal prosecuted it with more vigor than heretofore. This they did
under the name of "The Northwest Company." Their agents and "Couriers
des Bois" were ever pushing westward and had posts strung from Ottawa
to the Rocky Mountains and all the pelts from that immense country
were brought yearly to the headquarters in Montreal.

The Hudson's Bay Company after having inhabited all the territory
that they could rightly claim under their charter, began to oppose
the Northwest Company in the country they had in a way discovered.
The Hudson's Bay Company after getting out of the Bay found the
Northwest Company's people trading on the Red, Assiniboine and
Saskatchewan, all rivers that they could claim by right of their
charter seeing they all drained into Hudson's Bay and then began one
of the keenest and most bloody commercial warfares in history.

Might was right and wherever furs were found the strongest party, for
the time being, took them. Retaliation was the unwritten law of the
country and what was this week a Hudson's Bay post was next week
occupied by a party of Northwesters or vice versa. There is hardly a
place in what is now the peaceful and law abiding Manitoba and the
western provinces but what, if it could tell the tale, had witnessed
at some time in its early history sanguinary conflicts between the
two powerful and rival companies.

Things got to such a pass that the heads of the two fur parties in
London and Montreal saw that something had to be done to stay this
loss of lives and goods. Arrangements were therefore made that the
majority of the stockholders of both companies should meet in London.
This convention had its first meeting on the 19th of May, 1821, and
several other assemblies of the two factions took place before all
the points at issue were mutually agreed upon.

By wide mindedness and a liberal amount of give and take between the
two contending parties a full understanding was agreed on. One of the
points upon which a strong objection was made was the sinking of one
of the identities, but this knotty point was eventually settled. A
coalition of the two companies was formed under the title of "The
Hudson's Bay Company," the first official year of the joined parties
dating first of June, 1821, and the first governor, Mr. George
Simpson, afterwards "Sir George."

Mr. Simpson was knighted by Queen Victoria for having traveled from
Montreal to London by land with the exception of crossing Behring
Strait and the English Channel by boat.

Sir George Simpson held the position of Governor of the fur trade of
the Hudson's Bay Company for very many years and was followed by
Governors Dallas, McTavish, Graham and Sir Donald A. Smith (now Lord
Strathcona) after the latter's term of office the title of this
position was altered to "The Commissioner." The first gentleman to
hold the management under this new title was Mr. Wriggley, who after
serving two terms of four years each, retired and was succeeded by
Mr. C. C. Chipman who is still in office and brings us down to the
present day.

There has always been a Governor and committee in London where the
real headquarters has ever been, while the Commissioner's head place
in Canada is situated in Winnipeg.

The whole of the Great Company's collection of furs is shipped to
England and sold by auction three times a year, in January, March and
October. Buyers from all over Europe attend these sales.



The origin of the term "Free Trader" dates back considerably over
three-quarters of a century and was first used as a distinction by
the Hudson's Bay Company between their own traders, who traded
directly from their posts and others who in most cases had been
formerly in their employ, but had turned "Free Traders." Men with a
small outfit, who roamed amongst the Indians on their hunting grounds
and bartered necessary articles that the hunters were generally short

The outfit mostly consisted of tobacco, powder, ball, flints,
possibly one or two nor' west guns, white, blue and red strands for
the men's leggings, sky blue second cloth for the squaw's skirts,
flannel of several bright colors, mole skin for trousers, a few H. B.
cloth capots, fancy worsted sashes, beads, ribbons, knives, scissors,
fire steels, etc. Some of the foregoing articles may not be
considered necessary requirements, but to the Indian of those days
they were so looked upon and a "Free Trader" coming to an Indian's
camp who had the furs, a trade, much to the trader's profit was
generally done.

In those away back days the Free Trader was always outfitted by the
"Great Company." He endured all the labor, hardships and privation of
following the Indians to their far off hunting grounds and of a
necessity charged high for his goods. Being a former servant of the
company he got his outfit at a reduced price from what the Indians
were charged at the posts. The barter tariffs at each of the posts
was made out in two columns, i. e., Indian Tariff and Free Man's
Tariff. Say, for example, a pound of English tobacco was bartered to
the Indian at the posts for one dollar a pound, the Free Trader would
get it in his outfit for 75 cents, and when he bartered it to some
hunter, probably hundreds of miles off, he would charge one and half
to two dollars for the same pound of tobacco.

I mention, to illustrate the amount in dollars and cents, but the
currency of those days all over the northwest and interior was the
"Made Beaver." As a round amount the M. B. was equivalent to 50 cents
of our money of today. At all the posts on Hudson's Bay the company
had in coinage of their own, made of brass of four amounts; an eight,
quarter, half and whole Beaver. The goods were charged for at so many
or parts of Made Beaver and the furs likewise valued at the same

Like most uneducated men who have to remember dates, people and
places, these Free Traders had wonderful memories. One who had been
away on his venture for eight or ten months could on opening his
packs, tho there might be two or three hundred skins in his
collection, if so requested, tell from what particular Indian he
received any skin picked out at haphazard.

Observation and remembrance entered into every phase of their lives
as it does into that of the pure Indian. Their very lives at times
depended on their faculties and one might say all their bumps were
bumps of locality and these highly developed all the way back from

Of their nationality they were mostly French Canadians or French half
breeds, and as a rule went on their trading expeditions accompanied
by their Indian wives and children. Time was of no object and as they
traveled they trapped and hunted as they went. Their very living and
subsistence depended on their guns and nets. Loaded as they were with
goods to trade and their necessary belongings they could not take
imported provisions. After their hardships of several months, after
the breaking up of the lakes and rivers, they once more found
themselves at the post from whence they received their outfit.

From the factor down to the old pensioners, the people of the fort
went down to welcome the new arrivals. Their advent was heralded by
the firing of guns on rounding the point at which they first came in
view of the post. On landing a general handshaking was gone thru by
the two parties, the factor mentally estimating the probable contents
of the rich packs.

The men, engaged servants, of the post, carried up to the house the
peltries, while the Free Traders followed the factor to the trade
shops where a plug of tobacco for the men and sugar for the women
were given out by the clerks and with a generous tot of rum in which
to cement their continued friendship, the Free Trader took his
departure to put up his tepee and get his family and belongings under

Later on the servants brought him pork, lard, flour and tea enough
for him and his family for supper and breakfast. No accounts were
gone into on the day of arrival. The next morning, however, the
Trader repaired to the store with the factor and his clerk, the
latter carrying his ledger and day blotter. The pads being unlaced
the different kinds of skins were placed in separate piles and then
classified according to value. The sum total being arrived at the
amount of his outfit and supplies being deducted he was given a "bon"
on the trade shops for his credit balance.

Shortly after the Free Trader and his wife would be seen in the shop
decking themselves out with finery, bright and gay colored clothes
and fixings were the first consideration. After if there still
remained a credit, luxuries in the eating way were indulged and that
night a feast given by the Free Traders to the employes and hangers
on at the post.

Yes, they were a jolly, childlike race of men and as improvident as
an Indian for the requirements of tomorrow. I have described the Free
Trader of the past, and now I propose to describe the Free Trader of
today, and as he has been for the last two decades.

The building of the Canadian Pacific transcontinental road brought in
its trail a class of very undesirable men. All rules have exceptions.
I must therefore be just and not condemn all, but the majority of
them were toughs and whiskey peddlers. They were the forerunners of
the Free Traders of the present day, from Mattawa in the east to the
shores of the Pacific on the west. They would start from some town
back east with a keg of the strong alcohol, a few cheap gilt watches,
some fancy ribbons, colored shawls and imitation meerschaum pipes,
and if they found their bundles would bear a little more weight, they
generally put in a little more "whiskey." They could almost always
"dead-head" their way up the line on a construction train. Any place
where they saw a few camps of Indians or half-breeds they dropped off
with their stock in trade.

Such Indians as they found along the line were not hunters but they
could act as guides to the Free Trader, and for a gaudy shawl or a
few bottles of whiskey he could generally enlist one of them in his
service. With an old canoe (furnished by the Indian) some flour,
pork, tea and sugar, they could push their way up some river to a
favorable point known by the Indian, and wait the canoes of trappers
coming down on their way to one of the Hudson Bay posts at the mouth
of the rivers.

The route of the railway cutting the large navigable rivers at right
angles, at some parts of the line, as much as a couple of hundred
miles inland of our posts gave the Free Traders a great advantage as
they could intercept the Indians coming down from the height of land.
Even to those Indians who had never tasted liquor the very word
"fire-water" had a charm and an allurement not to be resisted.
Probably the whiskey trader could keep the Indians camped at the
place they first met for two or three days. Once he had got them to
take the second glass he could name his own price for the vile liquor
and put his own valuation on their furs.

I have heard of an Indian giving an otter skin for a bottle of
whiskey. The skin was worth $15 and the whiskey possibly thirty
cents. I knew positively of a trapper who gave a new overcoat worth
$6 for a second glass of whiskey and when this took effect on his
brain, for a third glass he gave a heavy Hudson Bay blanket that had
cost him $8. The trader seeing he had nothing else worth depriving
him of turned him out of doors on a bitter February morning.

Since these men have overrun the country the Hudson Bay Company has
spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to protect the Indians
against themselves. The laws of the Dominion are stringent enough as
they are set down in the blue book of the Indian Department, but they
are very seldom enforced. The difficulty is to get sufficient
evidence to secure judgment or committal of the offender.

The Hudson Bay Company seeing the giving of liquor to Indians abased
and impoverished him, abolished it by a law passed in committee in
1853. They saw that selling liquor to an Indian put him so much short
of necessary articles to make a proper hunt, it weakened his
constitution, laid the seeds of disease, and from a business point of
view, was bad policy.

To make their posts perfectly free from liquor, the very yearly
allowance to their officers, clerks and servants was discontinued and
each employe was given the equivalent as a cash bonus at the end of
each year. I must say a white man or two amongst a drunken band of
Indians ran considerable risk; several have paid for their greed of
gain with their lives. Amongst the Indians many lives have been
sacrificed thru the liquor curse, shooting, stabbing and drowning
being the principal results of their fatal debauches.

It is a most pitiful sight for one to travel on the C. P. U. line and
see at the stations along the interior the ragged bodies and
emaciated features of the Indians who hang about the stations. These
are some of the good hunters of twenty-five years ago and their
descendants. Back in those days an Indian's advances were only
limited by his demands on the company. He took only what, under
ordinary luck, he could pay for.

To-day hardly one of them can get trust for a dollar. They pass their
summer hanging about the stations, the women doing a little fishing
to keep body and soul together, and when the cold of winter drives
them to the shelter of the forests, they have nothing necessary to
prosecute a hunt even if they had the strength and energy to work. If
one of their children or wives is lucky enough to trap an animal, the
noble head of the family tramps off to the nearest Free Trader and
barters it for tobacco and whiskey.

Coming back to the Free Traders I must mention the exception to the
general run of them. In different parts of our territory organized
parties of twos or fours have tried to oppose the company by trading
in a straight way, that is, giving the Indian good, strong clothing
and good provisions in exchange for his furs, but with very few
exceptions the life of these small companies has been shortlived and
I only know of one or two who made money by this trading.

The rock upon which they invariably come to grief is giving credit to
Indians. A plausible story in the spring as to why they cannot pay is
generally accepted by the Free Trader and a second outfit given the
next autumn with the idea of enabling them to pay at the close of
another hunting season. The Trader being called upon to pay up his
supplies in either Montreal, Toronto or Winnipeg causes a sudden
stoppage to their adventures and the field is open for some other
party to go and have, most likely, the same disastrous ending.

No, I say it with unbiased mind that the opening up of the country to
outsiders was a sorry day for the Indians. While they were dealt with
exclusively by the Hudson Bay Company, they had the care and guidance
of a parent, but the progress of settlement cannot be stayed and the
end of the Indian is inevitable, and, like the buffalo, they will in
a very few years be of the past.

The Great Company, who for two and a quarter centuries has been
identified with the fur trade, is rapidly becoming a company of
shopkeepers in the new towns and villages of the west. With the
disappearance of the Indian will go the last of the class of men who
caused his undoing, "The Free Trader."



In these days of keen opposition it is only at the remote inland
posts that we can supply the Indians with system; that is, as to
amount of debt and a fixed time for sending them to the hunting

Taking Long Lake Post, north of Lake Superior, as a sample to
illustrate our manner in rigging out hunters, I will say we appoint
the 15th of September as the first day of supplies. On that day,
early in the morning, the chief and his wife are called into the
store, all others are excluded; this is done for two reasons--first,
the Indian himself does not like the others to know what they take,
or the amount of their debt; and, secondly, we find that when others,
who are only onlookers are in the shop, they distract the attention
of the Indian, who is taking the outfit and delay us in our work. The
first thing done after the door is closed and locked is to talk over
the pros and cons with the Indian as to where he is going to hunt,
and his prospects, and from this an amount agreed upon as to the
extent of his new debt.

This settled, we suggest that, first of all, necessary articles
should be marked down; these we mention one by one and he replies if
he has such already, good enough for another year, or if we are to
mark down the article. The first essention, of course, is ammunition;
so many pounds of shot and powder and so many boxes of percussion
caps. Next on the list of his wants would be an axe, or axes, an ice
chisel, steel traps, twine for a fish net, a few fish hooks, two or
three mill-saw files (to sharpen his ice-chisel and axes) matches, a
couple of bottles of pain-killer and the same of castor oil, and some
thread and needles, (glovers and round).

Then comes the imported provisions. To an ordinary family of a man,
his wife and two or three children, he will take 200 pounds flour, 50
pounds compound lard, 10 pounds tea, the same of tobacco, 2-pound
cart of soda, 25 pounds sugar, another perhaps 12 or 15 pounds pork.
This latter must be pure fat, meatless and boneless.

When we get this far in his supplies, a pause is called and he asks
us to add up how much the foregoing comes to. Say this amounts to
$100 and the amount agreed upon is $200, he thus understands he has
$100 yet to get, or as much as whatever the balance may be. Then he
begins over again by taking heavy Hudson's Bay blankets; these we
keep in all sizes from one to cover an infant up to what we call four
point, this latter is large enough for a double bed and big enough
for the man and woman to tuck themselves comfortably in. Of blankets
he may take two or three.

The next on the list is heavy strouds, blue for the woman and white
for the man's leggings; following this will be a warm cloth skirt for
his wife and enough Estoffe du pays for his pants a pair of ready
made mole skin pants for ice walking during the excessive cold of
January and February, several yards of English flannel, colors
according to their taste; we keep in stock, white, crimson, yellow,
sky blue, navy, and bright green; this is for underwear for the
family, two pairs of heavy wool socks for the man and two pairs long
wool for his wife. A half dozen red, spotted handkerchiefs, these are
put to several usages, such as tying up the hair, as a muffler about
the neck, tying up their little belongings and many other usages
apart from what a white man would apply a handkerchief.

Several yards also are taken of a strong cotton for dress use, or
outside skirts; this is imported by us direct and goes under the name
of "Stripped Yarmouth Druggets." It is very durable and stands the
rough wear and tear of the bush. Should his proposed hunting grounds
be remote from a deer country he would take dressed leather for mits
and moccasins, parchment deerskin for his snow shoes. Snow shoes, of
course, each one of his family must have, and supplying himself with
this leather, makes quite a hole in the amount of his debt.

Here again another addition of figures is made; perhaps a few dollars
yet remain to complete the agreed upon sum. He and his wife, on the
floor of the shop, handle each article they have received, and think
their hardest to remember some forgotten necessary article that may
have escaped their memory. We also, from long use to the Indian's
requirements, come to their assistance and sometimes suggest
something quite overlooked, but very necessary.

A further adding up is now made; they have positively all they
require for the winter months, and yet a few dollars remain to make
up the amount, and then the Indian's weakness shows itself and he
says: "Oh! well give sugar and lard for the remainder." Then he and
his wife make all the purchases up into one or two blankets; an order
on the provision store is given him and his account is made up and
given him in the following manner.

Pa-pa-nios, dr. to Hudson's Bay Co.

                     Long Lake Post.
                     Sept. 15, 1895
   $200.00                M. H.

They don't generally understand figures, but they all understand that
X stands for 10. As the Indian kills his furs, he adds them to his
pack in saits often, at the same time scoring out one of the crosses
on his debt slip. After all has been cancelled, he then hunts a few
more skins to cover any misvaluation on his part, or to have
something extra to barter for finery.

After the chief leaves the shop another man and wife are called in
according to their standing in the band, and thus it goes on till we
reach the last one. Six to eight families are about all we can get
thru in a day, as there is so much time wasted in talk.

If we begin on the Monday, we generally see the grand departure take
place on the following Saturday. We only import the best of
everything and the Indian buying from our stores is assured of the
purest provisions and the strongest and most durable goods. This is
no boast for where we have no opposition the Indians and our
interests are identical, and the company's agent at such posts has
the Indians' welfare at heart.

On the frontier we are obliged by other buyers and circumstances over
which we have no control to take common out of season skins. As the
Indians find sale for skins of any kind, they hunt actually ten
months out of the twelve. At our interior posts, where our word is
law, we appoint the 25th of October to begin hunting and the 25th of
May to finish; except for bears, and these they are allowed to hunt
up to the 10th of June. What a sad sight it is for an officer coming
from some interior district to a frontier post, where he left
well-clothed contented Indians to find those swindled by the
unprincipled traders, in rags, drunken and the seeds of consumption
marked in their faces.



What appears marvelous and positively uncanny to a town person is
simple to a bushman.

Years of continuous observation develops the bump of locality, every
object has a place and meaning to a trapper; his eye is ever on the
alert, and what his eye sees is photographed on the brain and remains
there for future reference at any time he may require it.

This bump of locality is highly developed in all Indians and whites
who have passed many years in the bush. Without the faculty of
remembering objects a bushman could not find his way through the
dense forests.

Providing the trapper has once passed from one place to another, he
is pretty sure to find his way through the second time, even if years
should have elapsed between the trips. Every object from start to
finish is an index finger pointing out the right path. A sloping
path, a leaning tree, a moss-covered rock, a slight elevation in
land, a cut in the hills, the water in a creek, an odd-looking stone,
a blasted tree--all help as guides as the observant trapper makes his
way through a pathless forest.

Of course, this tax on the memory is not required of trappers about a
settled part of the country, but I am telling of what is absolutely
necessary for the safety of one's life in the faraway wilds of the
North, where to lose one's self might possibly mean death.

I followed an Indian guide once over a trail of 280 miles, whereon we
snowshoed over mountains, through dense bush, down rivers and over
lakes. To test my powers of a retentive memory, the following winter,
when dispatches again had to be taken to headquarters, I asked the
Indian to allow me to act as guide, he following.

On that long journey of ten or twelve days, always walking and
continually thinking out the road, I was in doubt only once. We were
standing on the ice; a tongue of land stood out toward us; a bay on
either side. The portage leaving the lake was at the bottom of one of
these bays, but which? The Indian had halted almost on the tails of
my snowshoes, and enjoyed my hesitation, but said nothing. To be
assured of no mistake, I had to pass over the whole of last winter's
trip in my mind's eye up to the point on which we stood. Once the
retrospect caught up with us, there was no further trouble. Our route
was down the left-hand bay.

When the Indian saw me start in that direction, he said:
"A-a-ke-pu-ka-tan" ("Yes, yes, you are able").

The most difficult proposition to tackle is a black spruce swamp. The
trees are mostly of a uniform size and height, the surface of the
snow is perfectly level, and at times our route lies miles through
such a country, and should there be a dull leaden sky or a gentle
snow falling, there is nothing for the guide to depend on but his
ability to walk straight.

It has been written time and again that the tendency when there are
no land marks is to walk in a circle.

By constant practice, those who are brought up in the wilds acquire
the ability to walk in a straight line. They begin by beating a trail
from point to point on some long stretch of ice, and in the bush,
where any tree or obstruction bars the way they make up for any
deviation from the straight course by a give-and-take process, so
that the general line of march is straight.

During forty years in the country, I never knew an Indian or white
bushman to carry a compass. Apart from a black spruce swamp, it would
be no use whatever.

In going from one place to another, the contour of the country has to
be considered, and very frequently the "longest way round is the
shortest way home." A ridge of mountains might lay between the place
of starting and the objective point, and by making a detour round the
spur of same, one would easier reach his destination, rather than to
climb up one side and down the other.

On the first day after my arrival in London (the only time I ever
crossed the water) a gentleman took me out to see some of the sights.
He lived on the Surrey side, and took me direct, or, I should say
crooked, into the city across the Thames. After walking me around
several blocks and zigzagging considerably about, he came to a sudden
stop at a corner. "Now," he said, "Hunter, suppose I was to disappear
all at once, do you think you could find your way back to Elm Tree
Lodge? I have always heard that you bushmen can find your way

Now, although there was no necessity for it, my years of schooling
had caused me to observe every conspicuous object, and every turn we
had made since leaving his residence; and therefore I replied, with
the utmost confidence, "Why, to return to your house from here is as
simple as falling off a log."

Looking at me with the greatest incredulity, he said, "If you can
find your way back unaided I will pay for the best hat in London."

"Well, my dear sir, my number is 7, and I want it soft felt and dark
bottle green. Now follow me, and you can get the hat in the morning."

Without going into details, suffice it to say, I conducted him to his
own door, and a more perplexed man was not in London; so much so, he
had to call in his wife, his mother-in-law and his next door neighbor
to tell them of my achievement.

At last I had to cut short his flow of words by saying my guiding him
home was a most simple thing. It was merely the result of observing
as I went along, and running the objects backward as I came to the

"If I was to tell you as a fact, my dear sir, that a bushman sees the
track of some wild animal in the snow, he can tell you not only the
name of the animal, but if it was male or female, within an hour of
the time the tracks were made, if it was calm or blowing and the
direction of the wind at that time and many other minor things, you
would think this wonderful. Yet, as wonderful as this may appear, and
hardly to be credited, an Indian boy of ten or twelve can read this
page from nature as easy as one of us can read a page of print."

  * * *

When the cold nights of the latter end of October had set in and the
leaves were crisp underfoot, I decided to go and set up a line of
marten traps through a stretch of green timber, between two large
lakes. The distance was considered about eight miles.

I took an Indian youth as companion, for it is lonely work setting
trap in the deep gloom of the forest alone. Our blankets, axes, two
days' provisions, a square of cotton that we call a canopy, to keep
off the wind, and my rifle, made up our necessary equipment, with a
few baits to start work upon.

During the summer I had got an Indian to leave an old canoe on the
shore of the big lake where we expected to come out; this would save
our coming back on our tracks, as we could return by the canoe route,
which was considerably longer, but much easier.

We worked away all the day we left the post, and when camping time
came we found a pretty, sheltered place, the back of a large,
flat-sided boulder. Ten feet in front of this lay a large fallen pine
tree, against which we built our fire. Then we cut a lot of pitch
pine dry wood in short lengths and split, ready to replenish the fire
from time to time during the autumn night.

It is cheerful when one wakes during the night to have a bright blaze
in a few moments.

The boy had worked pretty hard all day, and, after eating to
repletion, rolled himself in his blanket and fell asleep. With me it
was different. I lay back half-reclining, half-sitting, enjoying the
congenial heat and wondering what luck we would have from the traps
when we made our first visit. My rifle lay alongside of me on the
balsam brush, with the muzzle pointing toward the fire, and,
unconsciously my hand grasped the stock and my fore finger toyed with
the trigger. I mention all these details to show how easy what
followed came to pass.

The sparks had all gone out of the wood and only a bright glow
remained, enough, however, to light up the trunk of the pine log and
a considerable distance each side of the fireplace. All at once I
heard the crushing of dried leaves and the breaking of twigs, at some
little distance off in the forest. The sounds were evidently made by
some large animal, and I soon realized it was coming slowly with
steady steps toward the camp.

My first thought was to chuck on some fresh fuel to scare whatever it
was away; but the next moment I decided to keep quiet and await

With my thumb I drew back the hammer of the rifle and waited. I kept
my eyes steadfast in the direction whence the sounds came, and in a
minute (it appeared an hour to me) I saw the head and forequarters of
an immense black bear, which stood gazing down on the camp from
behind the fallen tree.

To raise my rifle and sight it point blank at Bruin's chest was the
work of an instant. Crash went the bullet, true to the mark, and the
bear fell backward, making the woods echo with its death roars.

The boy sprang to his feet in a stupid, bewildered way, asking what
was the matter. I did not take time to answer him, being occupied in
getting a fresh shell into the barrel, for one never knows when a
bear is really dead. The safest way is to have your gun ready and
stand off at a reasonable distance and wait until he kicks himself
stiff. In this case, however, it was soon over with its bearship, for
the bullet had gone right through the heart.

The joy of the Indian boy knew no bounds when he saw the result of
the shot, for he saw many gorges ahead of him.

I had always been led to believe that smoke, or the blaze from a
camp-fire, would keep away the denizens of the Canadian forests, and
when I told this bear adventure to old hunters they simply listened
and gave a polite smile.

In this instance it must have been a case of inordinate curiosity,
accounted for in a manner from the fact of its being a female bear.



All over the Hudson's Bay territory, in making trips, be it in winter
or summer, there is a scale of provisions upon which a safe result
can be assured. For each person of the party, per diem, the following
is allowed, and that is multiplied by the supposed number of days
that the trip is likely to last. Moreover, for each seven days
calculated on, an extra full day's ration is thrown in, this is for
safety in case of some unlooked for accident.

Provisions per man, per day: 2 pounds of flour (or 1 1/2 pounds of
sea biscuits), 1 pound of fat mess pork, 2 ounces of sugar, 1/2 ounce
of tea, 2 ounces of peas (or same of barley), 1/2 ounce of carbonate
of soda, and 1/2 ounce of salt.

The peas or barley are intended to be cooked during the night's
encampment with any game the route may have produced through the day.
With such rations I have traveled with large and small parties,
sometimes with Indians only, and at others with Indian and Canadian
voyagers mixed; have penetrated the wildest parts of two provinces,
in canoes and on snowshoes, and was never short a meal. I admit that
with the wasteful and improvident character of the Indians, the
leader of the party must use due care and watchfulness over his
outfit and see it is not wrongly used.

Take, for instance, the provisions for a party of seven men for
fifteen days, the weight aggregates 347 pounds, and is of formidable
bulk; and when the necessary camping paraphernalia, tents, blankets,
kettles and frying pans, are piled on the beach alongside the
eatables, the sight is something appalling, and the crew is apt to
think what an unnecessary quantity of provisions; but before the
journey is over we hear nothing about there being too much grub. Long
hours, hard work and the keen, bracing atmosphere gives the men
appetites that fairly astonish even themselves.

If a party is to return on the outgoing trail, and after being off a
few days finds it is using within the scale of provisions, it is very
easy to _cache_ a portion for the home journey with a certainty of
finding it "after many days," that is, if properly secured. If in the
depth of winter, and there is a likelihood of wolves or wolverines
coming that way, a good and safe way is to cut a hole in the ice some
distance from the shore on some big lake, cutting almost through to
the water. In this trench put what is required to be left behind,
filling up with the chopped ice, tramp this well down, then pour
several kettles of water on top. This freezes at once, making it as
difficult to gnaw or scratch into as would be the side of an
ironclad. I have come on such a _cache_ after an absence of three
weeks to find the droppings of wolves and foxes about, but the
contents untouched. One could not help smiling on seeing these signs,
imagining the profound thinking the animals must have exerted in
trying to figure out a plan to reach the toothsome stuff under that
hard, glazed surface.

At other seasons of the year a good _cache_ is made by cutting and
peeling a long live tamarac pole. Place this balanced over a strong
crutch, tie what is to be left secure to the small end, over which
place a birch bark covering to keep off the rain (or failing the
proper place or season for getting bark, a very good protection is
made with a thatch of balsam boughs placed symmetrically as shingles)
and tying all in place, tip up the small end, weighting down the butt
with heavy logs or stones; and possess your mind in peace.

Two of the best auxiliaries to a short supply of provisions that a
party can take on any trip in the wilds of Ontario or Quebec, are
gill-net and snaring wire. As food producers, I place these before a
gun. Most of the interior lakes contain fish of some sort, and a
successful haul one night can be smoke dried to last several days
without spoiling, even in hot weather. So long as they are done up in
a secure manner in birch bark to keep out blue flies, the greatest
danger of their going bad is prevented.

Another very good way to preserve and utilize fish, is to scorch a
small portion of flour (about one-third the quantity) and mix with
pounded up, smoke dried fish, previously cleaned of bones. This makes
a light and sustaining pemmican, easily warmed up in a frying-pan,
and if a little fat can be added in the warming process, one can work
on it as well as on a meat diet.

Admitting that there are years of plenty and years of scarcity with
rabbits, there must be a dearth indeed when one or two cannot be
snared in some creek bottom near the night's camp. A gun on the other
hand may be only an incumbrance on a long journey. A chance shot may
well repay the person carrying it, but very frequently a gun is quite

We crossed the country some years ago between St. Maurice and Lake
St. John. It was at the very best time of the year to see game, being
in the month of May, when every living thing is full of life and
moving about. The trip took us seven days going; coming back by
another route we gained one day. On the whole of that journey through
bush, lakes and rivers we only fired two cartridges, whereas our
small gill-net gave us splendid fish each camping place.

Another trip I remember, this time in the winter, accompanying the
men who carried the winter despatches between Pic River and
Michipecoten, a distance of 120 miles each way. I was prevailed upon
to take a rifle, as the route went over a very high mountain where
deer (caribou) were seen every year by the men. Well, I suppose they
told the truth; but I carried that gun 240 miles without firing a
shot. No, as a possible help to stave off starvation, commend me to a
net and snare in preference to a gun.

In my younger days in the Hudson's Bay Company's service I put in
many years in what we call the Moose Belt in Quebec--that is, from
the St. Maurice River on the east to Lake Nipissing on the west from
the Kepewa on the south to near the height of land on the north. All
inside these boundaries was teeming with moose. They were killed in
the most wanton manner by Algonquin Indians and the lumbermen, in
many instances only the hide being taken, and the meat left. Our own
Indians, who lived year in and year out in the country, never wasted
a particle of meat. If they killed more than the family could consume
during the winter months, before the warm days of April set in, it
was carefully collected, cut in strips and smoke dried for summer
use. While attending to the curing of the meat, the thrifty squaw
dressed the hides. These were cut up and made into moccasins and
traded at our store during their stay about the post in summer. An
ordinary sized hide would cut up into about twenty-two pairs of shoes
(without tops) and commanded $1.50 per pair, we selling them for the
same price in cash to lumber concerns, making our profit on the goods

The young Indian the year prior to getting married always exerted
himself to show how many moose he could kill. This was their boast
and pride to show they were good providers of food. The Indian nature
to kill would manifest itself at this time, and the numbers killed by
some of the young slips is hardly to be credited. Older men with
families never killed for the sake of killing.

I knew a young Indian personally whose mother had been left a widow
with a large family. He was the eldest of the children, and that
summer began to strut about the post in fine clothes and mix with the
men of the tribe. This is one of the traits that shows itself before
matrimony is contemplated. The killing of many moose was sure to
follow these signs. That young boy actually killed to his own gun
ninety moose. Averaging the butchered meat of each moose at the low
estimate of 600 pounds, we have a gross weight of 54,000 pounds of
good, wholesome food.

This section of country was in those days, I venture to say, the
richest in game on the continent of America. Every little creek or
lake had its beaver lodge, and even on the main routes of travel one
would see beaver swimming two or three times in the course of a day's

At the posts we lived on fish, game and potatoes. Our allowance of
flour was only 100 pounds for each man for the twelve months, and we
used to spin this out by eating only a pancake or so on Sundays and a
pudding on Christmas.

The choice bits of the moose--the tongue and muzzle--the Indians
brought us in quantities, the trade price of each being half a "made
beaver," equal to a supposed sum of fifty cents. This was paid in
goods, and would be further reduced by 100 per cent, our advance for
transport and profit.

One cannot but look back with regret to those days and think such
slaughter was murder.



The Hudson's Bay Company's establishments comprised two Factories,
several Forts and numerous posts, out-posts and smaller ones called
"flying posts." I am writing of the days gone by for now, since the
country is opened up, forts, as they were then known, no longer
exist. The so-called factories were not places in which fabrics or
other goods were manufactured, but more rightly speaking great depots
where an entire year's supplies were stored in advance in case of a
mishap to either of the ships.

The country was subdivided into the Northern Department and Southern
Department. York Factory supplying the requirements of the former and
Moose Factory the latter. At these places the summer months was their
busy season, for not only did they receive the next year's outfit
from the ships, but numerous brigades of boats and canoes were
continually loading and departing for the far away inland posts and

With the exception of one or two which were built of stone, the forts
and posts were constructed of heavy hewn logs which, being placed
flat to flat, were bolted with strong treenails every second or third
tier until the desired height of wall was attained. The windows were
mere narrow slits in the walls and as few as possible on the ground

All the buildings were made in the same strong way and consisted, in
an ordinary fort, of the master's house (or chief officer's
dwelling); this was the most pretentious building in the lot, for not
only did the factor and his family occupy it but it also lodged the
clerks and other petty officials, besides furnishing a spacious mess
or dining room and a guard room in which the officers lounged and
smoked and the small arms were stacked ready for use.

Within the enclosure were the following other buildings, similar in
construction to the great house. A store house in which was kept the
bulk of the outfit and the furs gathered. A trade shop in which the
Indians bartered their peltries. A men's house or servants' quarters.
A work shop in which all necessary repairs were made on guns,
harness, etc., and a stable to house the stock at night. They
pastured, under guard, outside the walls during the day.

These buildings were generally in the form of a hollow square and the
whole surrounded by a picket stockade ten or twelve feet high. This
protection was made from trees of about seven inches in diameter,
brought to a sharp point at the upper end and planted deep in the
ground, touching one another. Here and there, inside, the stockade
was reinforced by strong braces, which added to its solidity, should
a combined force of men be brought against it.

At each of the four corners of the square a strong block tower was
erected with embrasures cut therein for shooting from. In some of the
larger forts small cannon were placed that commanded each side of the
square and all around the inside of the pickets ran a raised platform
on which men standing would be breast high to the top of the
protection. This gave them a great advantage in shooting on coming
enemies or repelling scalers.

Such places were only in the prairie country where the warlike and
turbulent Black Feet, Bloods, Pegans and Sioux roamed. Amongst the
bush or fish-eating tribes less severe precaution was required, altho
the most of them were enclosed by the picket stockade and supplied
liberally with muskets, cutlasses and side arms.

While the Indians were paying their semiannual trading visits the
dwellers of the forts were confined pretty well indoors and the stock
hobbled close to the stockades, for it was not always safe for a
small party to be caught far afield. Great massive, barred gates
opened into the fort, in the leaves of one side a wicket placed for
the entrance and departure of men afoot, and it was thru this wicket
an Indian and his wife were admitted with their furs to trade. When
they were finished bartering and departed, two others were allowed in
and so it went on.

The trade shop was so constructed that the Indian and his wife did
their barter at the end of a long narrow passage, at the end of which
a square hole was cut in the logs, behind which the trader stood with
an assistant to fetch the goods required by the purchaser. The
display of goods on the shelves was invisible to the Indian, but it
was not necessary he should see them inasmuch as there being no great
variety, everything being staple and the same from year to year,
manufactured of the best material expressly for the Company.

The trade shop was always built near the gate and the guard at the
wicket, after admitting the would-be purchaser of supplies, locked
and barred the gate and conducted them to the entrance of the
passageway along which all they had to do was to travel until they
reached the trader at the end.

So that the Indian might know the amount of his means of trade the
furs were taken in first and valued at a certain well-known currency
of that particular part of the country in which he resided, i. e.,
"Made Beaver" or so many "Martens." In some places he was given the
gross amount in certain quills and about the Bay in brass tokens. Of
this latter coinage the Company had quarters, halves and whole M. B.
(Made Beaver). Once this was mutually adjusted, trade commenced. The
Indian would call for a gun and pay so many Made Beaver, a scalp
knife, powder, shot and so on, paying for each article as he received
it in either quills or tokens.

The outposts or "flying posts" were more in the bush country, where
the Indians, as a rule, lived peaceably with one another and the
whites. The smaller of these trading places were only kept open
during the winter months and were generally built for the
accommodation of the Indians and supplied with absolute necessities
only. This enabled the hunter to keep closer to his work and not
travel long distances, when furs were prime, for some positive
requirement, such as the replacing of a broken gun. The keepers of
these small posts were in most cases guides or deserving and
trustworthy servants of long standing in the employ. With their
families and a man or two they departed from the forts in September,
taking the supply of trading stuff with them.

These small parties were self-sustaining, being given one day's
provisions to take them away from the fort. After that until the next
May they lived on fish and the small game of the country, with
probably an odd wood caribou. The men of the party trapped furs while
hunting game for their sustenance. The proceeds for the personal
winter trapping of each servant was allowed him as a bonus over and
above his wages. Cash was not given, but they had permission to
barter the skins for what they chose out of the trade shop and they
went principally in tobacco for the men and finery for the women.

Where fish and rabbits in their season was the mainstay with these
people, prodigious numbers were required and consumed to sustain
life. Thirty or forty white fish or the same of rabbits was an
ordinary daily consumption of the dwellers at one of these "flying
posts," but the reader must remember they had no auxiliaries to help
out this plain straight food.

No butter, lard, pork, sugar or vegetables, just rabbit or white fish
twice a day and nothing else. This was washed down with bouillon in
which the food was cooked. Spring and fall they had a variety in
ducks, geese, beaver and an occasional bear and then they lived in
the tallest kind of clover while it lasted.

As no insurance company could be found who would take fire risks that
could only be represented to them on paper by the interested parties,
the Hudson's Bay Company began years ago to take certain sums of
money out of each year's profits and created a marine and fire
account, out of which fund any loss by sea or fire is met and the
district or department where the accident occurred is recouped for
its loss. Fires at the forts and posts have been of very rare
occurrence, as the utmost care and precaution has ever been exercised
in preventing such by the officer in charge.

Self-preservation is the first law of nature and the dwellers of
these far away Hudson's Bay posts knew of no greater calamity than
that of being burnt out and they looked to it that as far as
precaution went this should not occur.



The way in which the Hudson's Bay Company managed the Indians of
Canada has ever been admired by the people of the outside world.
Their fundamental rule and strict order to their servants was never
to break faith with an Indian. As time went on the Indians began to
realize fully that the company was in the country for their mutual
benefit, not as aggressors, land grabbers or people to take away
their vested rights.

It soon became known that any promise made to them by a Hudson's Bay
officer was as good as fulfilled. On the other hand, when "No" was
said it meant No every time and there was never any vacillating
policy. "Just and Firm" was the motto in all the Company's dealings
with the natives and while they were at all times prepared, as far as
they could be, to meet any trouble, yet they never provoked enmity.
To do so would have been antagonistic to their interests even if
justice and humanity were put aside.

Each officer of the posts had the welfare of the Indians as much at
heart as a father has for his own children. In sickness they attended
them, in trading they advised them what goods would be most
beneficial and lasting to their requirements and as far as they could
in a pacific way they advised them when trouble arose between any
members of the tribe.

In those days when the Company had the country under their exclusive
sway, no cheap, shoddy goods were imported in the trading forts.
Durability was looked for, not flashy finery. These came with the
opening of the country and the advent of peddlers and unprincipled
traders. We see the results of this today at any of the stations
where our transcontinental train stops. Bands of the once
well-conditioned, well-clothed, sober Indians are now replaced by
ragged, emaciated, vice marked descendants of these, hanging around
in idleness, an object lesson of what so-called civilization has
brought them to. Except in some far back isolated posts, the Indian's
word goes for nothing. They have lost the once binding obligation
that their promise carried and the trader can no longer depend on

As the writer knew the pagan and uncivilized Indian some forty years
ago he was truthful, sober, honest and moral. I won't say the white
man has willfully made him otherwise than what he was, but as a fact
he is. It has been a transformation in which the Indian has fallen to
most of the white man's vices and adopted very few of his virtues. My
experience has been over considerable of the country and amongst
several tribes and my observation has told me that about the Mission
centers (be the denomination what it may) is to be found the greatest
debauchery and rascality in the Indian and that right at their very

Prior to 1821 both the Hudson's Bay Company and that of the Northwest
gave liquor to the Indians, but after the coalition of the two
companies a wise policy was inaugurated and liquor was stopped
thruout the vast country. The Company's people saw that liquor to the
Indian was laying the seeds of illness and death and impoverishing
his family, but the Company did not take away the grog (which had
been given in most cases as a bonus on their hunt) without giving an
equivalent in value and the cash value of liquor to each hunter
entitled to any was given in the shape of any goods he chose from the
trade shop. Even the servants who had heretofore received a Saturday
night allowance of spirits, received in lieu thereof two pounds
sterling per annum added to their wages.

The Indian in the olden days seldom stayed about the posts longer
than to barter his furs and got back to his hunting grounds with as
little delay as possible. They were fish and flesh eaters, almost
every river and lake abounded with the former and the surrounding
woods furnished the latter and the Indian got his living from day to
day with very little exertion. The Indian has no idea of hording up
the treasures of this world and in only two instances did I know one
to have a bank account. They have an implicit and abiding faith in
kind providence to supply their wants as they go thru life and reason
that what is sufficient for them will be forthcoming for their sons
and daughters.

As an agriculturist the Indian is a failure. The life is too hard and
humdrum for one whose ancestors from away back have lived a nomad
life. His sphere of action on a farm is too circumspect and he pines
and longs for the freedom of the wilds. It is a sad and not a
successful measure, this corralling of the once lords of the country
on restricted reservations which in plain English is no better than a
prison to them.

The Indian in his native state is hospitable to a degree. The
stranger who comes to his wigwam is given the best and choicest
pieces of what his larder contains. The softest and best bed is made
for him furtherest from the door. When he arrives no impertinent
questions are asked as to his business, destination or his success in
the hunt. Any such information that he thinks fit to impart is given
voluntarily over a pipe of peace before rolling up in his robe or

It is not considered good form to ask questions, even a member of the
family coming home at night is not asked as to what success he has
had in the chase. His bundle or game bag is thrown inside the door
and remains there until his mother has placed food before him. While
partaking of this his mother (or wife if it happens to be the father)
opens his bag and takes out, piece by piece, the contents. If he has
killed a deer the head and heart only are brought to camp. If a bear,
the four paws, if a moose, the tongue and muzzle.

The Indians are very superstitious as to how they treat the flesh and
bones of the large game they kill. Beaver bones are never thrown to
the dogs, but are carefully collected and sunk in the lake or river,
thus returning them to the element from which they came. A bear
killed by an Indian is always addressed as cousin and a harangue is
given him by the hunter and his pardon asked for the necessity of
taking his life. The bones, especially the skull, are hung up at the
exact spot where he fell, journeys from camp often being taken with
the express purpose of carrying out this sacred duty.

Deer and moose antlers and shoulder blades are generally found on
stakes or dry knots of trees at the discharge of some big lake on
main canoe route. There are certain parts of the flesh and insides of
these animals that the women are never allowed to partake of, such as
the head, heart and paws of the bear.

Likewise it is _infra dig._ for a man to carry water to the camp,
chop wood or dry his own moccasins. After the killing of big game it
rests with the women and children to cut up the meat and toboggan it
to camp. The man merely walking ahead to show the way and lolling
about an open fire while the work of butchering and loading sled is
going on.

Physique and Health.--Before the Indian came in close contact with
the whites he lived on the produce of the country and remained close
to nature. He was of a wirey and healthy stature and lived to a ripe
old age. Now from their acquired taste of the white man's foods, love
of liquor, insufficient clothing and early marriages, the "white
plague" has taken firm hold in every band and a few decades will see
very few of the Government wards to be cared for.

How few of the thousands of immigrants now flowing into the country
pause to consider that once these beautiful lakes, rivers, prairies
and mountains were the resort and homes of a race of God's primitive
children. Their wants were supplied with a lavish generosity by a
Great Spirit and pagans tho they were said to be they cast their eyes
heavenwards and thanked that Great Spirit for blessings received. And
the translation after death that they looked forward to, to the Happy
Hunting Grounds, what are these but our God and our Heaven?

Poor, fast disappearing race! I have lived with them, hunted with
them and walked the long trail and from my city home I often yearn
for the old life in that North Country.



Men are governed, or prejudiced very much for, or against, things by
appearances or names. And this I find holds even with practical men
as are hunters, traders and trappers, men who as a rule reason much,
and are endowed with considerable common sense.

There are many food meats that the woods furnish that are tabooed
from the hunter's bill of fare simply by the name of the animal that
furnishes it. The skin is taken but the flesh is cast away, and this
for no other reason but the name the beast is generally known under.

Take, for instance, the water rat, musquash, or the more generally
used name of musk rat. Here we have certainly nothing against it but
the name. Because did we of the fraternity of hunters pause to
consider, and reason, we must see that a musquash ought not, and
cannot be different from a beaver. They are identically the same in
every detail except the formation of the tail. They live on the same
food, roots, grasses, and twigs, as the beaver does and to the eye
they are (barring the tail) a small beaver in miniature.

Musquash, like all animals in cold countries, are at their best
condition in the autumn. Let my hunter friend take one of the above
despised animals, select a nice mixed flesh and fat one, clean it as
you would a beaver, split it up the front, impale it on a sharp
pointed stick, introduce the point near the root of the tail, and
bring it up to the inside of the head. Plant your screwer in front of
your camp fire, giving it an occasional twist, while getting your tea
and other things ready. When done stand it back from the excessive
heat for a short while to cool and harden. Fill your pannican of tea,
spread out your biscuits, cut off a quarter section of your roast
suckling, and fall to, and a hundred to one you never ate anything
more delicious. I know prejudice has to be gotten over, "I have been
there myself."

I starved once for a day and a night, did hard paddling and portaging
all day and went supperless at night, simply because I could not get
over the idea of "rat." We had about a dozen with us, and my Indian
companion roasted a couple each meal and demolished both himself with
satisfaction and relish; for myself the thought of the name was

Take again the Canadian lynx. Were this name always adhered to, there
would be less room for prejudice, but unfortunately it is more
frequently called cat. I admit it has all the appearances and manners
of the cat, but let someone, unknown to you, fry some fat cutlets
from the ham of a lynx, and fifty to one you will relish it as very
fine veal and you cannot be convinced to the contrary. There again is
the porcupine, I think sometimes known as the hedgehog. When they are
in good condition, nicer or more juicy meat a hunter cannot put his
teeth into. When properly prepared and properly cooked, the white
mans "rarebit", the suckling pig, cannot prove its points.

The arctic or snow owl is a bird that gives as fine a flavored flesh,
and the same in color and appearance as a fat capon. But where one is
set against it, is when served up in Indian fashion, boiled whole, it
has then the appearance of a young baby, and one would almost have to
be a professional cannibal to tackle the object. The thick, plump
thighs, the round bald head, makes the appearance to a young infant
almost startling. However, if one closes his mental eyes to this
similitude, the flesh is most toothsome.

I come now to another that occurs to me as being much despised, that
is the festive and highly perfumed skunk. We look on a skunk, be it
man or beast, as the meanest kind of thing, but I assure you the
skunk (the four footed one) is not to be despised or cast aside when
one is hungry or desires a change from the everlasting bacon and
biscuit. A skunk, shot and prepared with care, makes very good

Two of the animals of our forest I never could stomach and very few
Indians eat them, be they ever so much pushed for food, and these
are: the otter and mink. Their flesh is oily, black and highly
flavored, resembling the meat of seal, only more so! The Indians as a
rule look down with contempt on a fellow Indian who eats otter or
mink, whether from necessity or from an acquired and perverse taste.

I venture to opine my little sketch will set many of my hunter
friends thinking and perhaps make a few converts. You won't repent

  * * *

Forty years ago, before the country was opened up to civilization and
the usual provisions of the white man were imported into the wilds,
the great staple foods of the territories, from the Labrador Atlantic
seaboard to the Pacific, consisted of buffalo, caribou, white fish
and rabbits. According to the parts of the country where these
animals resorted, the Indians, traders and trappers, lived almost
exclusively on their flesh, either in the fresh, dried or pemican

All foods, not imported, went under the name of country produce, and
as flour is the staff of life to the white man, so was buffalo,
caribou, rabbit or white fish to the dwellers of the north country.
Beaver, partridge, porcupine and other small prey, a kind of entree,
or side dish, got only at odd times, and not to be depended on for
regular three times a day diet.

The quantity of any one of these four foods required to sustain, even
a family of six, during a long northern winter, was something to make
a layman incredulous.

The Indians living about the plains of the lower Saskatchewan and
foothills of the Rockies not only lived on the buffalo, but made up
immense quantities of pemican, which was parched in summer skin bags,
weighing about sixty pounds each, and traded for ammunition, cloth,
beads, hatchets, etc., at the forts.

From these bases of supply the bags of meat were sent to posts
farther north, and used for tripping and feeding the men about the
post. Large quantities were floated down each spring from Fort Ellis,
Qu Appelli and other plain forts, by the Assiniboine to Fort Garry
and from there in larger boats to Norway House, on Lake Winnipeg,
which in those days was the receiving and distributing factory for
all the country north and east, and had the distinction of being the
place of council each year.

The people inhabiting the country embraced by the Mackenzie River,
Great Bear Lake, and the coast of Lake Winnipeg, subsisted almost
entirely on white fish. These were killed in great numbers each
spawning season, not only for their own food, but for their team dogs
as well, the posts putting past from ten to one hundred thousand,
according to the importance of the place and the mouths to feed.

The fish were hung in number on skewers as taken from the water, the
sharpened stake being run through the fish near the tail.

The string of ten fish on a skewer was called a "percer," and was
hung head down from long horizontal poles, as high as a man could
reach, and the length of these traverses would accommodate one
hundred "percers." The great stock of fish was surrounded by a high
picket stockade open to the weather, with one entrance, which was
kept strictly under lock and key, and opened each evening by the
post-master, i. e., steward, who gave out the requirements for the
next twenty-four hours' consumption.

The expenditure was kept posted up each night, showing for what use
the fish had been given out, under the following headings:

  Mess Account.
  Men's Rations.
  Indians visiting the post.
  Dog Rations.

Thus, at any time, the factor could tell the exact number of fish
consumed and number yet on hand.

Many of the posts would have an expenditure of a thousand fish a week
for all purposes, which would be about thirty thousand for the

In the country lying south of Lake Winnipeg to Lake of the Woods and
east as far as the Ottawa River, the staple food was the harmless
little rabbit. It is a dispensation of Providence that the rabbit is
a prolific animal, for they are the life not only of the people, but
of martens, lynx, foxes, ermine, owls, hawks and ravens.

An ordinary family of Indians, living on plain boiled or roasted
rabbits, require about twenty a day, and even that keeps their
vitality a very little above zero. There is no doubt but what the
food a man eats makes or lowers his valor and endurance.

No one ever heard of the fish or rabbit-eating Indians going on the
war-path, while, on the other hand, the buffalo eaters were fearless
men both as horsemen and fighters.

The Labrador Peninsula, bounded by the Saguenay river on the west,
Hudson's Bay and Straits on the north, the Atlantic seaboard on the
east, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the south, a country as large
as England, France and Austria combined, is the home of the Caribou
or wood deer, who migrate north and south in countless herds spring
and autumn, and are followed by bands of roaming Indians continually
preying on them.

As in the case of the pemican, these Nascapies, Montagnais, and Cree
Indians bring into the posts dried meats, marrow fat and tongues to
barter, and on this the post dwellers live.

With the Indians of the present day armed with modern rifles, and the
great depletion in the calf-crop made by the marauding of wolves, the
day cannot be far off that the caribou will be of the past as the
buffalo is.

In their migrations north and south, at certain places well known to
the natives, the deer have to cross rivers. Taking the crossings the
mob of deer would compact itself so much that the traverse would be
black with their bodies.

The Indians who had been waiting for some days the passing of the
herd, would attack them from up and down the river in their canoes,
shooting them with arrows, spearing and axing the poor frightened
brutes in the water till the lower waters were covered with floating

Much meat and many skins were spoiled for the want of quick
attention. After the battle the Indians gorged themselves to such a
state of repletion, that it rendered them unfit for exertion, but a
just God frequently punished them during the bitter weather of the
following winter by starvation, and whole families succumbed for want
of the very food they so wantonly wasted in the autumn.

The Hudson's Bay Company had a post years ago on Lake Mis-a-ka-ma
right on the tableland between Ungava bay and the Canadian Labrador
coast, for the trading of deer skins, both dressed and in the
parchment state. One year the skins were in such numbers that the
boats of the brigade could not carry the whole to the coast, and
bales of them had to be wintered over to the next year.

The Labrador has been for many years the base of supplies for fish
and rabbit districts, where the natives have no deer to make
moccasins, mitts and shirts, and the parchment for their snowshoe

These deer skins take a round about route to reach their destination,
being in the first place shipped from Ungava, or Nigolette, to
London, and after passing the winter in London, are reshipped to
Montreal, via the St. Lawrence, and from that depot sent with the new
outfit to posts that have requisitioned them the previous year.

One would think with the introduction of flour, pork and other
imported provisions that the slaughter would be a thing of the past,
but the killing goes on as before, and now only the skin is taken,
the meat remaining to rot.



To readers of H-T-T descriptions of modes of living in by-gone days
will, no doubt, be as interesting as actual hunting or trapping. I
therefore submit a reminiscence of days in the early sixties, gone
never to return.

Transport then to the far inland posts was so tedious and costly that
it was impossible to freight heavy stuff so far away, and the
employees of the company had to live on what the company in which
they were stationed produced. However, a scale of allowances of a few
delicacies were allowed, and these were made up every year at the
depot of each district, and were for one year. The laborers or common
people about the post got nothing in the way of imported provisions,
except when at the hard work of tripping. The officers' scale was as
follows, be he a married man or a single man, it made no difference.
Their several grades were as follows:

Chief Factor, Chief Trader, Chief Clerk, Apprentice Clerk, Post

A Post Master did not mean a master of a post, but was generally a
long service laborer, who could supervise the general work about the
post and act as interpreter if required. He also received a minimum
allowance from headquarters, but of fewer articles than that of
clerks and officers. A Chief Factor, being of the highest grade in
the service, received the largest allowance, which was as follows:

Three hundred pounds flour, 336 lbs. sugar, 18 lbs. black tea, 9 lbs.
green tea, 42 lbs. raisins, 60 lbs. butter, 30 lbs. tallow candles, 3
lbs. mustard, 6 3/4 gal. port wine, 6 3/4 sherry wine, 3 gal. brandy.

Exactly one-half of the Factor's allowance was the share of the Chief
Trader, and a half of the latter's portion was the scale for a Chief
Clerk or Apprentice Clerk. A Post Master however, not receiving the
full list, I will give in detail.

Fifty-six pounds sugar, 3 lbs. black tea, 1 1/2 lbs. green tea, 7
lbs. rice, 1/2 lb. pepper, 1/4 lb. pimento.

At every post where it was possible to grow potatoes they were given
the greatest attention, as they constituted a very material place in
the feeding of the post people. They were, however, kept under lock
and key, and a weekly allowance given out by the Post Master. At
posts where cattle were kept the allowance of butter was not supplied
by headquarters, as we were supposed to make our own.

The allowances never came up with the general outfit, but were sent
up in bulk to the headquarters of the district, and there parceled
out for each post in that Factor's territory. The clerks or officers
in charge of these out-posts went to headquarters about the 15th of
August with a half-sized canoe. This being a special trip, made
especially for the allowance of any small thing that might have been
overlooked in the indent, was called "The Allowance Canoe."

A week was generally spent at headquarters in friendly intercourse
with the staff there. The prospects for the ensuing year were talked
over, and the requisition for the next year's outfit read carefully
over, and any article requiring explanation or comment was then gone
into by the Factor while he had the framer of the indent at hand.

This was the only time of the year that all the officers of that
district met together, their respective posts being east, north and
west, and hundreds of miles of forest and stream separating them.
This reunion was a red letter week, and no sooner were we back to our
posts but we looked forward to the next meeting. I doubt very much if
today such a self-reliant, hardy and easily satisfied body of men
could be found to fill similar circumstances.

It was etiquette not to arrive at headquarters before the date
appointed. Occasionally a canoe from some post would have made extra
good time coming out, probably gaining a day or part of a day, and
would camp back of some point almost in sight of "The Fort." A noted
last place of call before reaching the fort was called "Point a la

Here a general clean-up took place, from a shave to clean linen and
store clothes. As the lake upon which the fort is built was the main
dropping-in thoroughfare from several parts of the interior, often
two or three canoe parties would be at the "Point a la Barbe" at

A start would be made from there together, and when the rocky point
which had hidden them from view was rounded a "flee de joie" was
fired from each canoe, the paddle seized, and in unison with the
quick stroke of the "paddle for the avenue," one of the usual French
canoe songs was sung by the voices of the combined fleet till the
rocky shores reproduced it from cliff to cliff.

Almost with the firing of the first shot the people at the post who
were on the lookout ran up the glorious old Hudson's Bay flag to the
flagstaff head, and an answering volley was returned. The
handshaking, talk and laughter when the canoes beached was never to
be forgotten.

Most of those at the fort had relatives or friends at one or other of
the outposts, and if they were not present anxious inquiries were
made and answered on the beach. Possibly some loved one had been
called away since the last opportunity of communication with the
fort; in such a case it devolved on some person of the new arrivals
to break the sad news or receive bad tidings himself. In that case no
words were necessary, the downcast look and the prolonged clasp of
the hand told as well as words the bereavement. I have witnessed such
meetings, and know it was only hours after the meeting that the
details were imparted by words, and that night far into the small
hours could be heard the death chant of the sorrowing relative.

Every night during our stay at headquarters our crews congregated at
the men's guard room, and there hoed down the Red River Reels, and
entered into other harmless pastimes till well up to midnight. During
that week the former rigid discipline of the fort was considerably
relaxed in honor of the strangers.

In the days of which I write liquor had been abolished for the
servants and trade throughout the country, and a few years after even
the officers' allowance of wine and brandy was cut off, so these
dances were not attended by any discord or disturbance.

When the rum allowance was done away with to the servants, they
received in lieu thereof two sterling per annum added to their wages,
and to the Indian who had been in the habit of getting a gill of rum
for every ten "made-beaver" traded, was given one skin for every ten
traded, taking whatever he chose, to the amount of the aggregated
skins, in goods.

For that one good deed alone, Sir George Simpson deserved the thanks
of all throughout the territories when he abolished liquor as a
stimulant to the men and a vehicle of trade with the natives.

The officers received no equivalent when their allowance was
discontinued. It was brought about by the bad use one officer made of
his allowance, and the others suffered thereby. A clerk's allowance
of wine and brandy was done up in three oak kegs, each wine keg
holding 2 1/4 gallons and the brandy one gallon. These were laced
together with stout raw hide lashings, and the piece was called a
"Maccrow," and a very awkward piece it was to portage.

The majority of the officers made it a point of honor to debark the
Maccrow unbroached at their respective posts, and make the contents
spin religiously through the next twelve months. Some could not
withstand the temptation of sampling the liquor enroute, and had very
little when they reached home.

It was one of these gentlemen who was the cause of the allowance
being cut off. A petition was sent in to the Governor asking that we
should receive the equivalent in money for the discontinuance of wine
and brandy, which amounted to seventeen dollars at cost price, but no
answer came, and we had to bear our loss and offer up some nightly
words in favor (or otherwise) of the person who had made an abuse of
his allowance.



Prior to 1865, furs at inland posts were made up in packs of ninety
pounds for transport to the frontier, but some of the young canoe men
were not sufficiently strong to handle such a weight in debarking or
loading them into the canoes, and a pack slipping from their grasp
into the water and becoming wet inside caused delay to the whole
brigade. A stop had to be made and the damaged pack unlaced, dried
and repaired, before the journey could be resumed.

About the year mentioned, a top pack slipped off a man's back while
being carried over a side portage, and before the man could save it
had bounded down the hillside into the rapid, and was lost.

This happened to be a very valuable package, and its loss being
reported called forth the next year, from headquarters, a general
order to reduce the weight from ninety to eighty pounds per pack, and
to make each package of pure skins--i. e., skins of only one kind.

This order to discontinue the mixing of skins was not pleasing to
post managers, inasmuch as a smaller and better pack can be
constructed of mixed skins than of only one kind.

For the information of trappers of to-day, I will give a summary of
how many of each kind of skins made up, as nearly as possible, the
prescribed weight of eighty pounds, thus:

  Forty large beavers and 20 small beavers made 80 pounds.
  Eight large bears and 4 small bears made 80 pounds.
  Five hundred spring rats, 80 pounds.
  Seven hundred and twenty large and small rats, fall, 80 pounds.
  Two beavers, large, for top and bottom covers, and 60 lynx skins
made 80 pounds.
  Two beavers for covers and 30 otters made 80 pounds.
  Two beavers for covers and 50 fox skins made 80 pounds.

We had orders to gather such furs as fisher, ermine, wolf, wolverine,
skunk, and any broken or damaged skins, and make up into a separate

The fine and delicate skins, as marten, mink, silver and cross foxes,
were to be packed in boxes thirty inches long by twenty inches
square, and into this small compass the martens and mink, after being
tied in bundles of ten skins each, were packed to the number of four
hundred skins.

This made a very valuable package, and the greatest care was taken of
it the whole journey. Valuing them at only $5 each, one of these
boxes represented the sum of $2,000.

We all saw that this mode of packing would not last; as, taking the
best of care, accidents will happen, and they began the very year
after the order came in force. Leaving a disagreeable job to the
last, the men at each carrying place avoided these boxes, and there
was a struggle to see who would not carry them. The sharp corners
abraded the men's backs, and when carried on top of a pack they hurt
the back of the head; so, as a rule, they were generally left till
the last load, and then taken with bitter comments, and a fervent
wish that the promulgator of the order for such packages were himself
present to portage them over the carry.

Two of these marten boxes were left by one of our crews in the middle
of a brule. In making the former trip some careless fellow must have
thrown down a half-burnt match; in a few moments dense clouds of
smoke arose in their rear. The country was as dry as tinder, and in
the space of a very few minutes the flames swept to the other end of
the portage, licking up in passing those valuable boxes and contents.

We, figuratively, locked the door for the balance of that trip after
the horse had been stolen, for the remaining boxes were stored each
night in the officers' tent, and during the day a responsible person
was on guard over them.

It was a severe loss out of the returns of one post. No one, perhaps,
could be blamed for it, but it had the desired effect of repealing
the order, and we were told to pack as in the good "old corn-meal
days," and mix our furs.

To arrive at an average of each kind of skins through each and every
pack, we counted the whole returns and estimated the gross weight,
and then divided so many of each kind of furs through the several
packs, something like this: 10 beavers, 2 bears, 40 marten, 10 mink,
100 rats, 4 foxes, 4 otters, 4 lynx--80 pounds, or as the average
might count out.

Previous to packing, the skins were neatly folded, placed in a pile
and weighted down for a week. They were then built in the desired
pack shape and underwent a severe wedge press hammering to reduce the
bulk, then tied with three strong cross lashings, either of raw
cowhide or twenty-four-thread cod line, and when all was secure, the
wedges being released, the pack tumbled out complete, less the
lateral tyings, which were two in number, of eighteen-thread cod

The size of one of these packs, ready for transportation, was 24
inches long, 17 inches broad, and 10 inches thick. The expansion of
the compressed skins would, after a few days, give it a rounded shape
in the middle, but when first out of the press it was almost
perfectly square, and it was the pride of each post manager to outdo
the others in the beauty and solidity of his packs.

A well-made pack would withstand the ill usage and the hundreds of
handlings in making a journey of four or five hundred miles from an
interior post, and would reach the first steamer or train of cars
without a tying giving way. In my young days I have seen a pile of
296 of these packs on the beach at one portage.

An anecdote relating to the care of such a valuable cargo may be here
appended. An old factor who had not left the interior for
twenty-seven years, applied for and received leave to visit
civilization with the understanding that he would take care of the
furs in transit. This he did during a journey of days and weeks
coming down the great river, standing at each portage till every pack
was over, and checking them off by numbers and the aggregate.

At last he reached steamboat navigation, shipped his packs, and had
the bill of lading in his pocket. Having shipped the furs he took
passage on the same boat. During the midnight hours the captain, in
making his rounds, was surprised to find a man sitting among the
cargo. Who was this but Mr. S., still keeping his faithful watch. The
captain asked why he was not abed in his stateroom.

"Well," he replied, "I saw rough deck hands going about the packs,
and thought it better to keep an eye on them."

The captain laughed. "Why, man," he said, "we have signed bills of
lading for those goods, and we are responsible for their safe
delivery. Go to bed, Mr. S.," he continued, "and rest in peace, for
even you have no right to touch one of those packs, now they are
aboard this vessel."

That was in 1873, and I believe that old gentleman is alive yet. He
retired many years ago and settled in Ontario.



Wa-sa-Kejic came over to the post early one October, and said his boy
had cut his foot, and that he had no one to steer his canoe on a
proposed beaver hunt. Now nice, fat beaver, just before the ice
takes, is one of the tidbits that come to the trader's table, and
having spare time just then I volunteered to accompany him, knowing I
would get a share of the game.

As we made our way over the several small portages between the large
lake on which the post is built and the one in which he had located
the beaver, he told me there were two lodges on the lake to which we
were making our way.

We pitched our tent on the last portage, so as not to make a fire
near the beaver. Beavers have very poor eyesight, but very acute
hearing and smell, and once they are frightened the sport for that
night at all events is finished.

We had something to eat and then started for the lake, leaving our
tent and things ready to return to after dark. Smoking and talking
are forbidden when one is in a beaver lake; care also must be taken
that the paddle does not rasp the side of the canoe.

The beavers had built an immense dam across the discharge of the
lake, and left a small cut in the middle for the overflow to pass.
Here Wa-sa-Kejic placed a No. 4 Newhouse trap in about 4 in. of
water. On a twig 9 in. high and set back about a foot from the trap
he placed a small piece of castorum. The smell of this attracts a
beaver. Then he lengthened the trap chain with three strands of No. 9
twine, tying it to a stout pole, which he planted very, very securely
in deep water, out from the dam.

The beaver, when he finds himself caught, springs backward into the
deep water and dives to the bottom; here he struggled to get away
until shortness of breath compels him to rise to the surface, and
this is repeated until the weight of the trap is too much for his
exhausted condition, and he died at the bottom, from whence he is
hauled up by the hunter when next visiting his traps.

After placing the trap on the dam Wa-sa-Kejic opened another ready
for setting, tied the poles, and had everything ready; then giving me
implicit injunctions not to make the least noise, told me to steer
the canoe quietly to the lodge, which was fixed in a small bay out in
the lake. When we reached the beaver's house, he carefully placed the
trap in the same depth of water as he had done the previous one, with
this difference, that he omitted the castorum, because, as he told me
afterward, the beavers went on top of the house every night, the
young ones to slide down into the water, and the old ones to do any
necessary plastering.

Another trap was set at the next house, and from there we paddled the
canoe a considerable distance from the beaver works, and figuratively
rested on our oars until sundown.

We were now going to try still-shooting them. Before night sets in
about sundown each fine evening in the fall the beavers leave their
lodge, first, to eat the young willows along the shore, and after
satisfying their hunger to patch the dam, plaster their houses and
cut young trees to store up for their next winter's food!

They come to the surface on leaving the lodge, and unless something
frightens them swim on the surface in and out along the borders of
the lake until they see a favorable spot to go ashore; and here they
set to nibbling the bark of young birch or popular, and if the hunter
is careful he may be shot at close range.

As I said before, talking while hunting beaver is forbidden; and the
hunter conveys his wishes to the steersman by signs, thus: To draw
his attention he oscillates the canoe slightly; to move the canoe
ahead the motion of paddling made by throwing the opening hand
inboard; to alter the course of the canoe is done by signing with the
hand either to the right or to the left, as desired; to stop the
canoe's headway when getting too close to the game is done by gentle
downward patting of the hand, etc.

Being already versed in this dumb language, we shoved away and took
up a position near the lodge, but to the leeward of it, and waited.
The sun having already gone down behind the forest, on the other side
of the lake, we had not long to wait until a beaver broke water and
swam away in a direction from us. Wa-sa-Kejic shook his head, as much
as to say, "We will go after that fellow later on." The first was
followed quickly by a second, a third and a fourth! Then, after
waiting for fully fifteen minutes and no other appearing, Wa-sa-Kejic
made signs to go ahead; this we did slowly, without taking the
sharp-bladed paddle from the water.

Presently we heard a noise as if a pig were supping up from a trough.
This was one of the beavers crunching up young twigs in the water.
The canoe was edged slowly toward the land, with Wa-sa-Kejic on the
alert, both dogheads full-cocked and ready for action. Presently the
downward motion of the hand was given, the gun brought deliberately
up to the shoulder, and the next instant the explosion, followed
almost as one shot by the second barrel! A thick smoke hung between
us and the shore, but we could hear kicking and splashing of the
water; that told the shot was true. The beaver had ceased to struggle
by the time we reached the shore. "But for what was the other shot?"
I asked Wa-sa-Kejic.

"For that," he answered, pointing to another beaver stone, dead on
the bank; and then he laughed, for there was no necessity of keeping
quiet any longer, for the shots had frightened any other beaver in
the vicinity.

"We may as well go to camp now," continued Wa-sa-Kejic, "and we will
see our traps in the morning."

From the fact of our having come ashore late, and perhaps more
because of the hearty supper we made off of roast beaver, we did not
awake until the sun was high. We immediately partook of a hasty
breakfast of tea Gallette and pork and went to see the traps.

"Fortunate?" Well, yes! We found one in each trap; and returned
during the afternoon to the post. The Indian gave me the meat of two
beavers for myself.

He left his traps set to visit at some future time, because there
were several animals yet in the lake. Describing the mode of killing
beaver would not be complete unless we explained that of "trenching."
This method of killing them is largely practiced by the Indians after
the lakes and rivers are frozen over. I cannot do better than to
describe a small lake that Wa-sa-Kejic and I went to trench in
December. This beaver lodge I had found the very last day of open
water, for that night the wind turned round north and froze up
everything! As it was close to the post, and I had found it, I simply
made a bargain with Wa-sa-Kejic to do the trenching for a pound of
tea. In those days tea was tea in the remote interior, and meant many
a cheering cup to the Indian.

Wa-sa-Kejic whistled his dogs after him when we left camp in the
morning. The lake lay in the hollow of a mountain of considerable
height, and could be compared to an inch of water in the bottom of a
teacup. Before we were half down the precipitous sides we saw the
dogs nosing around the shore, scenting for the beavers in their
"washes" or breathing holes. Wa-sa-Kejic, when he cast his eye around
the small body of water, said, "This is an easy lake, and the beaver
will soon all be dead."

He now produced an ordinary socket chisel of 1 1/2 in. point, and in
a few minutes had this handled with a young tamarak about 6 ft. long.
We each carried an axe, and the first order I got was to cut some dry
sticks that stood at the discharge, each stick to be about 4 ft.
long. These, as fast as cut, the Indian drove across the creek, after
he had cut a trench in the thin ice from shore to shore. This was to
prevent the beaver from going down the creek.

The next thing was to break open the lodge from the top. This was
done to scare the beavers out into the lake and make them resort to
the washes. The beaver washes have their entrances under water, and
go up sometimes a considerable distance from the shore, terminating
generally under the roots of a tree. The beavers flee from wash to
wash, as the hunter finds them out, and as each wash is discovered by
the dogs (which scent the beavers through the frozen surface) the
hunter stakes up the entrance to prevent them from returning.

Beaver washes vary in number according to the formation of the lake,
from two to three up to twenty. The practiced eye of the hunter tells
him at once if the lake has few or many. And this is why Wa-sa-Kejic
said we would soon kill the beaver. At last the three dogs remained
pointing and listening about 12 ft from the shore under a spruce of
considerable size. The Indian set to work to stake up the entrance,
which he did as fast as I could furnish the sticks.

On the shore of this barricade he cleared away the ice and snow,
making an opening about the size of a barrel head, and then he
paused, and pointing to the water, said, "See that! That's the beaver
breathing!" This was shown by the water's surface gently rising and

He now took off his coat, and baring his right arm up to the shoulder
he gave me the ice chisel and told me to pierce the ground where the
dogs were pointing. I had hardly given a blow or two before I saw
Wa-sa-Kejic stoop over the hole and plunge his naked arm into the
water. Instantly it was withdrawn, and a big fat beaver, securely
seized by the tail, was struggling in his grasp. A blow of his axe on
the spine finished him in quick order, and this was repeated from
time to time as I continued to enlarge the hole where the beavers
were huddled together under the roots.

We got six out of this wash, and two out of another, which
constituted all that were in the lake. Two each made a very good load
for us going home, and the next day I sent a man with a flat sled to
bring home the remaining four.

The three principal modes of killing beavers are by shooting,
trapping, trenching.

  * * *

As a haunt and home of the muskrat, I venture to say that Cumberland,
on the Saskatchewan, is the banner producing post on this continent.
For miles and miles about this trading place there are immense grassy
marshes, cut up and intersected by waterways and lagoons in every
direction. From a hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand musquash
skins was the usual returns from the post a few years ago. Three
times during the year the hunters made their harvest, first in
October, when the little animals were busy making their funny little
cone mud houses and cutting bunches of long grass for their winter's

At that time the Indian would set his bunch of No. 1 steel traps
before sundown and then lay off in his canoe at a short distance from
the shore in some pond and shoot at those swimming past until it
became too dusk to fire. Then he would make to some place to dry
ground, haul up his canoe, make a fire and have his supper. When his
after-meal pipe was finished he would silently shove his canoe into
the water and make his first visit. When setting his traps he would
take the precaution to place on the end of the pole that the chain
was fastened to, a piece of paper, a bunch of grass or a piece of
birch bark. This enabled him to find his traps in the dark, as the
sign would show on the sky line as he paddled slowly along sitting
low down in his canoe. The looking at his traps and resetting of them
would take him an hour or two, then he would come back to his fire
place, throw the rats he had caught in a pile, replenish the fire and
stretch out for another smoke. About ten o'clock he would make
another visit and on his return make a lasting fire, roll himself in
his Hudson's Bay blanket and sleep till morning.

Often two visits were made in the morning, one just at the screech of
day, and the last one after he had had his breakfast. Traps were
taken up at this first visit to be set in some other locality that
afternoon, and the hunter would paddle away for his lodge, where he
would sleep all the forenoon while his wife and children were
skinning and stretching the pelts. The next and every night would be
spent in the same way until the ice took, and then another mode of
sport I wish to describe would take place.

Ice in one night on these shallow waters was sufficiently strong to
support the weight of one man. Armed with a long barbed spear a
couple of feet in length, lashed to a stout pole, a bag on his back
to put the rats in, and sometimes followed by a boy at a distance,
the Indian, with his bright steel skates firmly buckled on, would
glide down and in and out these skate lanes looking for rat houses.
Practice and experience taught him to get over the ice in the least
noisy way. Instead of striking out one foot after the other, he
skated as the people of Holland do by a motion of the hips. It is not
a graceful way, but it is easy on the skater of long distances on new
glare ice. Sliding, as it were, down to one of the mud cones with
spear firmly grasped, he would drive it down into the center, and
very rarely missed transfixing one and at times two of the highly
perfumed little animals.

The interior of a rat house is a saucer-like hollow in the center,
just a little above the level of the water. From the edge of this
there may be three or four slideways into deep water. At the least
alarm the rats tumble down these in a minute and only return when all
danger is past. When the inhabitants of a single house number eight,
ten or twelve and they huddle together for warmth, they are often one
on top of another, and thus the spear passes thru two at one thrust.
The yet unfrozen mud is torn away and the spear with the rats lifted
out, dispatched and placed in the bag, and the hunter bears down to
another house and so on thru the day. When the bag becomes too heavy
it is emptied out on the ice and the hunt continued. Towards night
the Indian retraces his road and picks up the piles he left earlier
in the day. His leather bag is converted into a sled, the ends of his
long waisted sash are tied to the bag, and with the loop over his
shoulder he strikes out a road straight for his camp, well pleased
with his day's sport and himself. Knowledge of the architecture of
the musquash's house (for they are all modeled in the same way)
enables a bush man to know just where the little family are huddled.

There is yet another way numbers are killed just after the ice takes,
and before the mud houses become too hard frozen; that is to skate
down on them shot gun in hand and fire right into the cone of mud.
The effect is not known till the earth is pulled away. The shot being
fired at such close range there is, not unfrequently, three or four
dead rats. One can not help to moralize how cruel it is for man to
destroy at a moment the labors of long nights of these industrious
little animals, and cause the remaining one to patch up the break at
a season when it can never be as good and warm as when the work is
done during open weather.

The hunter therefore sets his traps, so as to keep them employed, but
he kills the greater number with his gun. A very small charge of
powder and shot is required, and if the hunter keeps perfectly quiet
in his canoe, and is below the wind, he can call the rat to within
ten feet of his gun. I have pushed by canoe out from the shore of a
small lake and called, just about sundown, and have counted no fewer
than six rats coming from as many different directions. One waits
till they get so close that they sheer off, and then fire sideways at
the head.



Snaring is the principal way in which the lynxes are killed by the
North American Indians. After a heavy fall of snow, however, if an
Indian crosses a fresh lynx track, he immediately gives chase, even
if he has only his belt axe.

The hunter only follows very fresh tracks, and in a short time comes
up with the big cat. As soon as the animal knows it is pursued, it
either climbs a tree or crouches under some thick shrub. If the
hunter finds it up a tree, he sets to work at once to cut down the
tree (that is if he has no gun). As soon as the tree totters he makes
his way in the direction which it is to fall. The lynx clings to the
tree until near the ground, and then springs clear. While he is
floundering in the snow, the Indian bravely runs in and knocks him
with his axe. Of course, if he has his gun, he simply shoots the cat
and it tumbles dead to the foot of the tree. The feat of running down
a lynx and shooting him with a bow and arrow is what all Indian
youths aim to accomplish; they are then considered hunters.

Lynxes are always found in greatest numbers where their natural food
supply is most plentiful. They feed usually on rabbits and
partridges, and these are to be found in young growth of such trees
as pitch pine, birch and poplar.

The Indian also, when he is dependent on rabbits, lives on the border
of such a country, and has long lines of snares which he visits two
or three times a week. Along this snare road at certain distances he
has his lynx snares, which are nothing different from those set for
rabbits, except being much larger. Yes, there is another difference:
Instead of the snare being tied to a tossing pole, it is simply tied
to a stout birch stick, 3 or 4 feet long by about 2 inches in
diameter. The extreme ends of this are lodged on two forked sticks,
and the snare hanging down in the middle is then set, tied to small
dry twigs on each side to keep it in position.

At the back of the snare, at about 2 or 3 feet, the head and stuffed
skin of a rabbit is fixed under some brush. The skin is filled with
moss, or pine brush, and is fixed so as to look as much as possible
like a live rabbit in its form. The head being to the skin gives it
the natural shape and smell, and the lynx, walking leisurely along
the snowshoe track, notices the game and makes a spring for it
through the snare. In his headlong bound he carries snare and cross
stick along with him, and as soon as he feels the cord tightening
about his neck he not infrequently becomes his own executioner by
getting his forefeet on the stick and pulling backwards as hard as he
can. The more he struggles, the madder he gets, and pulls the harder
to free himself, but this is, on the contrary, only making matters
worse. The loop of the noose gets matted into the soft, thick hair of
the throat, and there is no "slack" after that; in a few moments the
great cat is dead.

Sometimes the lynx carries the cross stick in his mouth and climbs a
tree. This is invariably the last tree he ever climbs, because once
up the tree he lets the stick drop and it hangs down, generally on
the opposite side of the limb from that on which the lynx is. As the
cat goes down the tree on one side, the cross stick goes up toward
the limb on the other and gets fixed in the crotch. As soon as the
cord tightens about his neck he tries the harder to get down, and is
consequently hanging himself.

Lynxes are very stupid. They will even put their foot into an open
and exposed steel trap; and the better-off Indians often use small
No. 1 traps instead of snares. This, however is only done latterly,
and by the very well-off Indians. As a rule Indians only have traps
for beaver, otter, fox and bear.

Lynxes are very rarely seen in summer, keeping close to the thickest
bush. In any case, the skin is then of no value, and they are far
from being "a thing of beauty," with nothing but a bare skin.

In the prime state they are largely used on the continent as linings,
and each skin is worth about $4.

  * * *

There are three kinds or qualities of martens recognized by the

First.--The pine marten that is found in the country covered by soft
woods, such as pine, spruce, white fir and birch. This is the most
numerous and consequently the skins are of least value. They are of
yellowish brown color on the back and orange on the throat, changing
down to pale yellow or white on the belly.

Second.--The rock marten; this is found in a country with stunted
growth of spruce timber, a very mountainous district, the chief
features of which are great crevices and boulders. Some of the skins
of this variety are of great beauty, being dark on back, and throat
and sides of gray or stone color.

The third kind, which is the scarcest, and consequently of most
value, is the marten found in the black spruce country, or swamps of
northern Labrador. The fur of this variety is of a deep brown color
throughout the pelt, and at times the tips of the hairs on the rump
are silver gray or golden brown. The latter are very rare, and such
skins have been sold in the London fur market for L5 a piece! They
are also much larger than the other kinds, the skins of the male
often being from 24 to 30 inches long, exclusive of the tail.

The proper and most successful time for hunting is in the latter days
of November and the whole month of December. They are hunted again in
March, but by that time the sun has bleached out the color of the
hair, which causes a depreciation in value.

As a business, trapping is the only mode of killing martens. They are
rarely seen to be shot at, as they pass the days in thickets or
hollow stumps, only emerging after nightfall to hunt their food,
which consists of mice, birds, young partridges, etc.

Wooden traps are made in the well-known "figure-of-four" shape, and
are set either on stumps or on the snow, flattened down with the
snowshoes, and the trap built thereon.

It is considered a very good day's work in December for a trapper to
construct, bait and set up twenty-five such traps. A real marten
hunter (nothing to do with my name) camps each night at the end of
his day's work until he has from 150 to 200 traps set! He generally
visits them once in ten days or a fortnight, and if the catch
averages one marten to ten traps it is considered very fair.

It takes the hunter two full days to rebait, clean out and freshen up
such a line. When small steel traps are used instead of the deadfall,
the hunter can cover more ground in a day and do better work than by
making all wood traps. The steel traps are much more fortunate than
the wood ones. In the "figure-of-four" traps, before the animal is
caught it must seize the bait with its teeth and pull strong enough
to set off the trap, whereas with the steel trap the mere fact of his
coming to the doorway to smell insures his putting his foot in it,
and in a moment up hangs Mr. Marten or Mr. Mink, as the case may be!

Of course the steel traps have this disadvantage--they are weighty;
that is, when you have fifty and over on your back, but the man who
follows trapping as a business can very easily overcome this
difficulty by placing catches of traps at different places by canoe
near where he proposes to have his line in the winter; and he can
then branch off now and again for a new supply as he is setting up
his trap road.

This leaving the main road at right angles once in a while might even
be a source of profit to the trapper, for he might come across a bear
den or a beaver lodge, or fall on deer tracks, and if he succeeded in
killing a deer some of the sinewy parts would come in to bait his

The taking of the skins of these little animals is very simple. The
knife is used only about the head; once back of the ears the skin is
drawn steadily until the tail is reached, the core of which is drawn
out, either by a split stick or by the stiff thumb nail of the
trapper. The skin is then dried on flat (three) splints, and when
dried sufficiently to prevent it spoiling is tied up with others to
the number of ten in each bundle, and are thus taken to the trader or
fur dealer.

The first purchaser from the trapper generally buys them at an
average price, but he sells them to the manufacturer selected; that
is, getting a high price for the dark and a low price for the yellow
or pale.



The fox as a rule is a most wily animal, and numerous are the stories
of his cunning toward the Indian hunter with his steel traps.

Starvation makes them catch in deadfalls, but they must be very
starved indeed before they pull a piece of frozen bait and have a
weight fall on their back. The skins of foxes killed during
starvation are never so valuable, as the hair then lacks the rich
gloss. When small game is plenty, such as rabbits and partridges, and
foxes are few, the skins are of a deep richness not seen under other

There are several different and distinct colors of foxes of the north
country. They are all of the same family, with the single exception
of the white or arctic fox. These, apart from their difference of
color, differ very much in their characteristics. They are not
cunning; on the contrary, they are positively stupid. They will
readily catch in deadfalls, and will walk into an open, uncovered
steel trap in daylight! Again the flesh of the arctic fox is eaten as
readily as that of the hare or white partridge; all other foxes are
carrion; even a starving Indian would give them the go-by.

Of the other or true fox we have many colors and shades of color, and
I give them in their cash value rotation, beginning with the black or
pole fox; First, black or pole; second, black silver; third, silver
gray; fourth, black cross; fifth, dark cross; sixth, ordinary cross;
seventh, light cross; eighth, dark blue (i. e., lead color); ninth,
light blue; tenth, bright red; eleventh, light red; twelfth, arctic
white; thirteenth, pale red.

Number thirteen is the poorest quantity of the fox family, and is
worth less than the arctic white fox.

January is the best month for trapping. First, because the fur is
then at its primest, and second, food is harder to get and the fox
consequently more likely to enter a trap.

Of course, any number of traps will catch a fox, but not every trap
will hold him. There is such a thing as the trap being too large and
strong, as well as too small and weak! When too large and strong it
catches too high up the leg, and being too strong it breaks the bone
at the same time; and then in cold weather it's only a question of a
few minutes for the frozen skin and muscles of the leg to be twisted
off and Master Fox runs away on three legs, ever after to be too
cunning to be caught in a trap. On the other hand, if the trap is too
small and weak it catches the fox by the toes, and he either pulls
his foot clear at once or the toes, becoming frozen and insensible to
feeling, are twisted off; and this, if anything, is a harder fox to
circumvent than the one with half a leg.

The proper trap to use is a Newhouse No. 2. When properly set it
catches just above all the fingers, as it were, or where the paw or
foot would correspond with the thick part of the hand. There is a
good, solid hold of muscles, sinews, etc. There, once the jaws are
fixed, they hold the fox to the death.

Fox hunters are very particular to keep everything connected with the
trapping away from the house or camp, even wearing an outside pair of
moccasins, which are peeled off and hung up with the snowshoes.

The hunter generally places his trap or traps on some bare point
jutting out into the lake, or some narrows, or near a clump of
willows at the edge of barren grounds, or any other place his
judgment tells him a fox is likely to pass. The fewer signs the
better; therefore instead of the chain being tied to a picket, a
stick 4 or 5 ft. long is slipped through the ring on the chain up to
the middle. Here it is securely fastened, so that it won't slip
either way. A trench the length of the stick is cut down in the snow
with the head of the axe, and the pole laid therein about a foot
beneath the surface. Snow is then piled in and the whole packed hard.

The trap is now opened, and the snow packed down with the back of the
man's mitt, large enough to lay the trap and spring therein. The trap
is now open and about 2 in. lower than the surrounding snow. The
hunter now begins carefully to lay fine flat balsam bows or clusters
of needles from the palate out to the jaws until the whole is
covered; then very gently he either dusts light snow over this until
it has the same appearance as the rest or he takes up two large
pieces of frozen snow and rubs them together over the trap until all
is covered.

Chopped up frozen meat or fish, a supply of which the trapper is
provided with, is now sprinkled or thrown about, beginning 15 or 20
ft. off and gradually getting more plentiful as the trap is neared.

With a brush broom the hunter dusts his snowshoe tracks full as he
recedes from the trap until he is off 30 or 40 ft.; after that no
further precaution is necessary for an ordinary fox. But for an
extraordinary one I could relate a hundred different ways of setting
traps and bait to overreach the wily old fellow; but in most cases it
is time wasted, the fox eating the bait and turning the traps over
night after night, much to the vexation of the hunter.

It is a pretty sight to see a black or silver gray fox jumping in a
trap on the pure white snow. I went one time with Wa-sa-Kejic to see
his traps in the barren grounds back of the post. I was following in
his snowshoe tracks steadily, and we were just topping a small swell
in the country, here and there clumps of black willows. All at once
he stopped so suddenly in his tracks that I fell up against him.

"There," he said, "look at that!" My eye followed his finger, and
there, jumping and struggling to get away, was a large black fox!

"Let me shoot him," I exclaimed, drawing my gun cover as I spoke.

"Oh, no," he replied, "we will only do that if he pulls himself clear
of the trap." And with that he drew his belt axe and walked with a
steady step down on the fox. The closer he got the more the fox
struggled, but he was well and freshly caught, and the trap held him

Wa-sa-Kejic gave him a tap on the nose with the helve of the axe,
which had the effect of stunning him. The Indian then seized him with
his left hand by the throat, and with his right hand felt for his
heart; this he drew gradually down toward the stomach until the heart
strings gave way; there was a quiver, and the fox was thrown down on
the snow limp and dead.

What a pleased look the Indian wore as he stood there, evidently
oblivious to my presence for the moment, as he gazed down on the most
valuable skin it was possible for him to trap. What a number of
necessaries and luxuries this would procure for his family. He would
get from the factor at the post $80 for that one single skin! What a
number of any other skins it would take to amount to that sum!



With steel or wooden traps is the only systematical way of hunting
these animals. They are, of course, hunted for their pelts in the
north country of Canada, and not for sport, as in Scotland. A few are
shot, but these are met with by chance.

November is when the Indian sets his traps for otters. They have then
their full winter coats on; and it is just before the small lakes and
rivers set fast.

Their resort is generally in some chain of small lakes with creeks
connecting the chain, and their home, if they can find one, is an
empty beaver lodge. They prefer such a place, as after the ice is
taken in fishing along shore, they carry the fish into one of the
"washes," where they can breathe and eat with safety and comfort.

The otter is a great enemy of the beaver, but never willingly courts
an encounter; yet, every time they meet, there is a terrible battle.
I remember years ago coming out on a small lake about sundown, and
seeing a great commotion on the surface of the water a few hundred
yards out, jumped into my canoe and quietly paddled out. As I drew
near, I noticed two black objects engaged in a deadly conflict.
Although they must have observed the canoe, they paid no attention,
but continued the fight, sometimes disappearing beneath the surface,
fast to each other, for a full minute.

When within gunshot, I made out the combatants to be an otter and a
beaver, and could have despatched the two with one shot, only I could
plainly see they were both very much exhausted, and I wished to see
which would gain the day.

The end was nearer than I expected. Once more they disappeared
beneath the waters, each maintaining the same deadly grip of the
other's neck; a few moments later the beaver floated to the surface
on its back, dead. I looked about for the otter, and saw him swimming
toward the shore, bleeding profusely from many wounds and evidently
hurt to the death. I followed, however, with my gun full cocked,
ready if need be to shoot him; but the beaver's long, sharp,
spade-like teeth had done their work well, for the otter all at once
rose half out of the water, pawed about for a minute in a blind way,
turned over on his side, gave one convulsive quiver, and he also was

A No. 3 Newhouse trap is generally used. In fact, this number is
called throughout the country "otter trap." These traps are set at
the overflow of beaver dams and otter slideways during the open water
and at little portages used by water rats crossing from one bend of a
small river to another. No bait is used; the trap is set in about 4
inches of water with a picket out in deep water to tie the chain to
and a small piece of castorum on a forked stick.

The odor of the beaver castor has a very alluring effect on most all
animals, and is greatly used by the hunter.

Traps for otters are set in the following way, under the ice: A place
is selected in some small creek, connecting two lakes, where signs of
otters are found. These signs are noticeable at the discharge of the
lake, where the lake ice thins off into open water, for the ice is so
thin that the otter readily breaks a hole to come out on the ice to
eat the fish. The otter is a fish-eating animal, and is very expert
in catching them.

Their slideways are generally made on some moss-covered, rocky
promontory, jutting out into a lake. Here they will climb up one side
and slide down the other for hours at a time.

Otters, when taken young, are readily tamed and become great pets.

Another way of setting traps in winter is under the ice in some creek
where otters are known to resort. The ice is cut away from the bank,
outward, for about 3 feet long by 1 foot or so wide. Each side of
this cut is staked with dry sticks, driven into the mud or sandy
bottom. The trap is set between the stakes at the outer end, in about
4 inches of water at least; that is, the water may be deeper than
that, but two cross sticks are so placed that the otter in entering
must go under the sticks and thus gets caught. The picket to secure
the trap chain to is out from the trap, as in open-water time.

To induce him to enter, a small whitefish or trout is placed on a
forked stick near the shore, and is so fixed that it appears to be
alive and swimming. As soon as the trap is struck, the otter jumps
backward into deep water, and for want of air is soon dead.

  * * *

In Canada and the United States, the killing of the little animal
known under the several names of water rat, musquash and muskrat is
so well understood by the average frontier boy that any information I
can give would be perhaps a repetition.

Still there is one way that the Indian practices which is certainly
not known to the whites, and is at a certain time very successful.
That is spearing them on the ice; and another mode in which the
Indians are very successful in the fall is digging them out, or
"trenching" them, in the same way they do the beaver, only with much
less labor, as it is done before the ponds and creeks freeze up. I
will describe the latter way first, seeing it comes before that of

The resort of musquash (always where they are in numbers) is along
grassy rivers, creeks, or ponds; for they store up large quantities
of the long, flat grass for winter use, as the beaver does with young
birch and poplar. The Indian paddling along the shores of such places
has his eyes fixed on the bottom of the water; presently he perceives
the entrance to one of the rat burrows; he stops his canoe and gazes
fixedly on the opening, which is always about a foot under water. At
last he sees the water ebb and flow in and out of the hole. This is a
sure sign that the "wash" is occupied at that very moment by one or
more rats.

He at once, either with his axe or the blade of his sharp maple
paddle, chops down the mud bank until he has an embankment or dam.
This is to prevent the musquash from running out to deep water. When
all is ready, either his wife or the boy who is steering the canoe is
sent ashore to prod about the honey-combed bank with the handle of
his paddle. The little animals thus disturbed and thoroughly
frightened make a rush for the outlet, deep water and safety, but
(there is always a "but") the Indian, with his upraised paddle, has
his eye steadily fixed on the water back of his dam, and as fast as
one makes its appearance the sharp edge of the paddle is brought down
on its head or back, and it is thrown into the canoe, quivering in
its death agony. From two to eight or nine are not infrequently taken
from one hole. When the last one is killed, the Indian moves his
canoe on until he finds another colony, and the same process is gone
over again, and he returns to his camp with his canoe filled with
musquash. I have in the fall received from one Indian as many as
2,000 skins, large and small.

Musquash breed twice in the summer, and bring forth at each litter
from six to eight. In the fall the large ones fetch the hunters ten
cents, and the kits, or small ones, five cents.

The spearing of the musquash is done in this wise: The rats throw up
little mud-cone lodges, or houses, out from the shore, in about a
foot of water. They are not unlike beaver lodges. The inside is
hollow and the entrance is under water. In this resort the rats sit,
huddled together, during most of the severe winter weather. The
hunter, therefore, as soon as the ice will bear his weight, slides up
to the rat houses, armed with a sharp, barbed, steel spear, about a
foot long, let into the end of a small tamarac handle. This handle is
generally about 8 feet long. Arriving close to the lodge, he poises
the spear in mid-air for a moment and drives it down through the
lodge with all his might. If he pierced a rat, he feels it wriggling
on the spear, and keeps it fast there until he has torn away the mud
and grass. He then seizes it by the tail and draws it with a jerk
from the spear and knocks it on the ice, which finishes Mr. Rat. At
times, when there are a number of musquash in the same lodge at the
same time, the spear often passes through two, or even three, at one
stroke. This is great sport where the lodges are numerous.

Musquash killed under the ice are worth two or three cents each more
than in the fall, and the hunter makes frequently two to four dollars
a day while it lasts.

The flesh of musquash killed under the ice is highly esteemed by the
Indians. It has then its winter fat on, and is free from the
objectionable odor which prevails in the spring.

The skins of the large ones, when dressed, make strong and durable
lining for cloaks, coats, etc., and are made up into caps also. The
"kit skins" are used in large numbers in the manufacture of kid
gloves. The Hudson Bay Company exports annually about 3,000,000



Of all the lucky hunters I ever knew I accord the bun to Na-ta-way.
He was one of the engaged servants at the post in Canada, and
whenever he put on his snowshoes and sailed forth from the gates,
some creature or bird would cross his path or vision. To do this and
come within reasonable distance of Na-ta-way's small bore,
muzzle-loading rifle was sure and speedy death to the unfortunate
beast or bird.

I could never understand why he chose to be a servant in the Company
in preference to being free to roam the lakes, rivers and forests,
because had he elected to follow the occupation of a trapper and
hunter he could not have failed to make double the money. Other
Indians had traps set all around and quite near the post and yet
Na-ta-way would kill as much as the average one, with only a poor
half day off and his day on Sunday.

I never saw his equal for quickness in setting deadfalls or rabbit
snares. However, this partakes more of a biography than what I set
out to relate, and yet it is an indispensable digression to enable
the reader to believe the wonderful and remarkable success this man
had one day when he was given leave from daylight to night. There was
a weighty reason for this extra freedom from duty for the fact was
the post people were short of meat. The month was April and our
frozen supply nearly used up.

Na-ta-way knew of a single moose yard, or more properly speaking, a
yard with a single moose as occupant. To kill a lone moose on the
crust does not require the combined efforts of two or more persons,
therefore Na-ta-way was told to go and kill the moose and skin and
quarter the animal, which considering the distance to go and come,
amounted to a very good day's work. But Na-ta-way besides doing this
and doing it well, accomplished much more.

Coming down from the moose mountain to get better walking, he crossed
the fresh tracks of a large bear. This was nuts to our man. He
immediately turned aside and followed up the trail, ramming down one
of his little pea bullets as he went. The heat of the morning sun had
softened the crust of the night and Mr. Bruin was making headway with
difficulty. In fact, Na-ta-way had not gone over half a mile when he
sighted the bear and was very soon close up to him.

The bear had two kind of ideas. One was to climb a tree and the
second to run away, neither of which was carried into effect, for a
bullet stopped the cowardly act of running, and a second one in the
ear stilled him forever. The skin and the paws were all the hunter
carried away. The meat would be got when the men came for the moose.

Na-ta-way was very soon swinging on down the mountain and struck a
creek which emptied into one of a chain of lakes, that in turn
drained into the big Ka-kee-bon-ga lake upon which the post was
situated. Following down this creek he noticed ahead of him a mink,
working his way up along the shore, noseing every hole as he came.
Nothing was too big or too small for Na-ta-way. Poor little mink!

When he got abreast of the man on the ice, stood on its hind legs to
get a better view of the strange object, but at that instant its
sight became blurred, for it tumbled over dead. It was so full of
life, energy and curiosity a few moments ago, was now being carried
on the Indian's back, shoved into the folds of the bear skin.

But then, if we moralize, a man is walking with elastic step along a
street when Presto! the heart stops, and he is being carried feet
foremost by some three or four horror-struck pedestrians.

The hour was then high noon, snow soft and walking bad. Na-ta-way had
covered several miles and done much since he had left his bed that
morning. His inner man began to crave for food, the conditions were
favorable, wood water and a sunny bank. What could be more alluring
to a weary man? A bright fire was soon burning with the ever welcome
tea kettle hanging in the blaze, the hunter on his knees in front
waiting for it to boil.

Another digression right here. I never saw a man make tea, but after
chucking in an ample quantity of the precious leaves from China,
would throw in another pinch, either to make sure of there being a
proper strength in the brew or for good luck. Be the reason what it
may, they all do it. I do it myself.

Continuing on his march after his mid-day lunch, Na-ta-way came to a
small lake. What is it that causes him to stop and cast his eyes
about? The lake is full banks and therefore at that season must
contain beaver. Yes, there stood the lodge on the opposite side and a
well understood mark leading from the open water in front up into the
bush. The beaver had come out the day before.

What Indian, or white man for that matter, can resist the chance
offered to eat beaver meat? Na-ta-way looked at the Indians' clock,
the sun, with a satisfied expression and his mind was made up; he
would wait the coming ashore to feed. A comfortable spot was selected
within gun shot of the place of debarkation. Here he tramped a hole
in soft snow and strewed some balsam branches on the bottom upon
which he crouched and waited.

There was no uncertainty as in the song the girl sang, "He cometh
not," for he had hardly taken up his position before out struggled a
young beaver and passed up the path leading to the young growth of
trees. But Na-ta-way knew better than to fire at this one. No, the
beaver passed on and up, giving grunts of anticipation. Number two
came ashore and ambled inland without being molested. Now, however,
Na-ta-way was all alertness. With his rifle cocked and his belt axe
handy in front he waited the advent of another emblem of Canada. In a
few minutes out he came to join his brothers or sisters who were
already feasting on young sappy trees.

The crack of the rifle echoed far and near in the clear, mild
atmosphere, but before it died away, the Indian stood over the shot
beaver and barred the path against the frightened returning ones. The
first coming down the hill he shot. The whole slaughter was well
planned and carried out.

Three young beaver make a pretty solid lump on a man's back, but a
hunter may leave moose meat and bear's meat in the bush to a chance
wolf, but beaver, no! hardly! even if he has to make double trips.
Na-ta-way had carried heavy weights slung by a portage strap across
his forehead from childhood and could well support and carry what he
now had.

I well remember that night when he entered our kitchen and let slide
off his back that mixture of beaver, mink and bear skin. In fourteen
hours he had walked about ten miles and killed: 1 moose, 1 mink, 1
bear and 3 beaver. Verily this was luck or success.




Never leave your axe out doors all night. Intense cold makes it
exceedingly brittle, most likely the first knot you put it into will
cause a gash in the blade and an axe is an essential part of a
trapper's outfit, and impossible to replace when far from

Never dry your snowshoes near the fire, but plant them some distance
away to be dried by the frost. The fire acting on the dampness in the
knitting cooks the fiber of the leather and causes the shoe to give
out before its proper time.

Never, in very cold weather, carry your gun by the barrel; if
occasion caused you to fire it off, the chances are the barrel will
burst at the place where your hand heated the iron.

Never after wringing out your wet moccasins place them near the fire
to dry, but scrape out any remaining moisture with the back of the
sheathe knife, stuff each shoe with brush and hang at back of camp to
dry gradually. The brush keeps the shoes extended and permits the
heat to permeate to all parts.

Never put on the same shoe on the same foot two days in succession.
The shoe will wear much longer and retain its shape by interchanging.

In wearing moose or deer skin shoes begin by wearing them wrong side
out until almost worn through, then turn, and you have the grain side
of the leather. Thus your shoe will last almost twice as long.

Never travel without an extra undershirt and a spare pair of socks;
with the trunk and feet dry and warm there is some chance of
salvation for a man if he was unfortunate enough to break through the
ice or obliged to travel through the wet in the spring. The days may
be mild enough but the nights are cold.

Never cut your night's wood from low ground bordering on water. It
will cause you untold annoyance by continually shooting off live
coals and sparks all over your blankets.

In selecting your camping place have your fire slightly higher than
your bed. Most places, (unless on rock), are eaten away by action of
the fire, and by the time you turn in you will have the fire on a

Never consider your work complete until you have an armful of fine
cut up dry wood or a supply of birch bark handy. From excessive
fatigue you may oversleep and wake thoroughly chilled. In such an
instance you want a quick bright fire, no fumbling about trying to
ignite some half burnt sticks.

Never leave any excess of firewood lying on the snow to become sodden
on the ground and covered by the following winter's snow, thus to be
useless to you or anyone else passing that way. A few moments in the
morning before taking the trail will stand it on end under some tree
and it is good for future use.

Never underestimate your wood requirements for the night. It is
better, yes, much better, to have a surplus than to turn out before
daylight to replenish your fire.

Never, if you are dragging a toboggan or sleigh, leave it flat on its
track where your day's march ends, but turn it on its side, if
loaded, or stand it up, if empty, and scrape or rub off any frost on
the bottom or runners. The next day it will slide easy, otherwise the
empty sleigh alone will be a load.

Never put your game or fish to cook in boiling water. Place it, in
preference, in cold and bring to the boil, then let it simmer till

I have seen the Indians on a very cold night, when on the trail, make
a new fire where we had been sitting and spread our brush and
blankets on the old fire place. The ground being thawed out our brush
retained considerable warmth till morning.

Never, in the winter, make your camp fire directly under a large snow
laden tree. The heat of the fire will melt the snow and the dropping
water cause much annoyance and discomfort, or high winds may spring
up before morning and send the snow about your fire and camp.

Never carry all your supply of matches about your person, have a few,
even though only a half dozen, in some damp-proof article amongst
your blankets. A very good receptacle if you have not a water proof
box, is an empty Pain Killer vial. See that it is thoroughly dry,
drop in your few matches and cork tightly.

This is for an emergency and can be carried about for months or
years, and only opened under necessity, when perhaps one dry match
will save your life.

Never leave your gun loaded in camp! The iron draws the dampness and
imparts it to the cartridges. Next day they may prove slow fire or
not explode at all. Have your cartridges handy if you will, but
really there is no necessity. The days of wolves and savage Indians
are past and in most parts of the "wild" there is nothing to molest

One other axiom I will adduce and not prefix it with the negative
"Never," because it is not always possible to adhere to this

It is not generally known that the position one assumes when making
one's bed has a great deal to do with getting a restful night's
repose. When possible lie with your head to the north. The magnetic
earth currents flow from the north, and thus from your head down
through your body. The tired feeling you had when retiring has all
flowed out through your feet before morning.

This fact may appear absurd to a person not giving the subject
sufficient thought, but it is on the same principle as a person
stroking your hair downwards. The result is quieting and soothing,
but if he rubs it the contrary way it irritates and is hurtful.

I have proved the truth of this assertion many times during my nights
on the trail. I have purposely rolled in my blanket with my head to
the south, and arose the following morning, unrested, and my body
"broken up."

The foregoing may be and is rather disjointed, because I have penned
each subject as they came to my mind, but the reader may rest assured
they are worth memorizing and were learned by the writer during long
years of hardships.


Suppose your canoe has been turned over on the beach all night, never
launch it in the morning without first thoroughly examining the
bottom from end to end. If there are rabbits or rats about, the place
of a greasy hand is enough to draw them, and they will gnaw a lot of
boat for very little grease.

This might be overlooked in the hurry of getting away, and the canoe
either sink under you or sufficient water enter to damage your

Once my chum and I were making our way up river with our supplies.
Amongst the provisions was a half barrel of pork. When camping the
first night we left the pork near the overturned canoe. The rest of
our outfit we carried up to our camp on the top of the river bank,
thinking nothing would touch a solid hardwood barrel.

Well, in the grey morning, when we went to get water for our coffee
we found the staves in shooks and the bricks of pork scattered about
the gravelly beach. Rabbits had cut the hoops and the barrel had
fallen to pieces. The rest was easy to the rabbit--not to us.

If you are a lone hunter never travel in summer without an extra
paddle. You may lug this about all season and never require it but
once, but that once you will be glad you have it.

Often when approaching game it is expedient to drop the paddle
quietly in the water when taking up your gun. In the stillness of the
wild, the noise of placing the paddle inboard is sufficient to scare
away the game and the chance is lost. With a spare paddle at hand the
hunter can quickly pursue the wounded game or paddle back and pick up
the dropped paddle.

If you have a chum a second paddle is not necessary, as he can either
forge the canoe ahead or back her to where you dropped yours.

Never talk or make unnecessary noise while hunting. Old hunters never
do. It is only about the camp fire they talk, and even there always
in a low tone of voice.

Old hunters communicate to one another all that is necessary by a
shake of the canoe, a nod of the head or motions of the hands.

When portaging at a carrying place never when you get to the other
end, put the canoe down at once, but let the man in front first scan
carefully all about each side of the lake or river as far as the eye
will carry. Something might be on the surface, standing in the
shallows, or in the edge of the bush, which the noise of putting down
the canoe would frighten away.

If you wish to avoid the dew of the morning, camp at the upper end of
a carrying place, i. e., rapid, but if you wish to have a refreshing
slumber camp at the foot of the rapid, have your head up stream and
pointing to the north if possible.

Never push on and camp on the border of some small stagnant lake,
merely to add a little length to your day's trail. Better camp this
side and have living water for your cooking purposes.

If you were hunting in the fall in a beaver country and watching to
shoot them in the evening:

Never, if it is a big lodge, fire at the first or even the second
beaver that breaks water. If you do, good-bye to the others for that
night. It is better to allow the first and second to swim away along
shore to their wood-yards unmolested. The next to make its appearance
will most likely be one of the old ones. This kill if you can, and
then paddle slowly in the direction the first has taken. The chances
are you will meet them coming back or see them ashore cutting wood.

See that your two or three traps are in good order, and leave the
lake for your camp before darkness sets in.

Your camp should be half a mile away and to the leaward of the beaver

In the spring of the year beaver begin to swim early in the afternoon
and take to their lodge late in the morning. In the autumn when the
nights are long they break water late and are not to be seen after
sunrise next morning.

If you see two beaver at one time swimming and shoot one, leave it
floating on the water. The chances are the second one will make a
short dive, and you want to be ready with your gun when he comes up.
I have often got one with each barrel this way.

By shooting in the evening and leaving three traps set I have cleaned
out a lodge of seven beaver in an evening and a night, from 4 P. M.
to 7 A. M. next morning, and this with only a boy of ten years old
for a companion.

The hardest part was in packing them and my canoe out over five
carrying places. But, oh! when the bunch was at the post what
recompense, all those fine, rich furs and the luscious and sustaining
meat, with a roasted tail now and again as a side bite.

Now penning these lines in my last camp in a town of ten thousand
inhabitants, how my mind longs for one more season in the bush, but,
alas! I fear it may never be.



The island of Anticosta, lying in the mouth of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, runs parallel with the main land on its north shore and
about twenty-five miles distant from it. Notwithstanding the close
proximity to the continent and the straits, some winters blocked with
ice fields, the martens on this island are peculiar and distinct in
this manner, that almost without exception the forepaws and the end
of the tail are tipped with white hair.

I traded one year several hundred pelts of Anticosta marten and with
one or two exceptions they all showed this distinction from those we
got on the north shore or mainland. I found this white ending of
extremities even amongst the bears and foxes, and in some instances
with the otter. Otherwise the marten are as well furred and as rich
and deep in color as the far-famed Labrador ones.

Of bears there are on the island both black and brown; the latter are
of immense size and very savage. One skin I got measured seven feet
broad by nine feet long and showed the marks of no fewer than eleven
bullet holes in his hide. The man from whom I purchased the skin told
me he met the monster while traveling along the sea beach and fired
at him. The bear dropped, but in a moment arose to his feet and
rushed for the hunter. Fortunately there was a high rock near by, up
which the man clambered with his gun, out of reach of the infuriated
beast and from this "Coin de advantage" Arsenault loaded and fired
round ounce balls into the bear until he was dispatched.

While on this trip I secured two of the finest and purest silver grey
fox skins I ever handled. It is not generally known that a pure
silver fox is much rarer than black or black silver. What I mean by
pure silver is a fox that is silvered from the very head right down
to the white tip of the tail. The majority of so-called silver foxes
are black from the head to a third of the way down the back; a part
of the body and rump alone being silvered.

In the Hudson's Bay Company trading posts, foxes are graded when
purchased under the following names: black, black silver, silver
grey, black cross, dark cross, ordinary cross, (first cousin to red)
bright red, light red, white. I am aware that to make this list
complete blue and grey foxes are wanting, but as they are only traded
in one or two of the Company's posts and I was never at either, I
will say nothing about them, but of the above grades and colors of
foxes I have traded and trapped many.

A black cross is so very near a silver that it is only a savant that
can tell the difference. A black cross has yellow hairs growing
inside the ears and a patch of yellow near each fore leg, whereas a
silver has none. Unscrupulous trappers very often try to get over
these giving-away marks by plucking the hairs out of the ears and by
greasing and smoking the side patches.

The first thing a trader does when a doubtful skin is offered is to
look into the ears; if the hairs are wanting, he breathes on his hand
and gently passes it down over the side. If the hand is blackened
this is a proof number two and the smart "Alec" is found out.

Coming back to Anticosta; forty years ago the privilege of hunting
was leased by the then owner of the seigniory to a man from Quebec,
who each autumn repaired to the island with four or five men who
hunted on shares, Mr. Corbett, supplying food, traps and ammunition,
got a certain per cent. of the furs each caught.

They laid their small schooner up in a sheltered bay and Corbett used
to cook and sweep the shanty while his men hunted and trapped.

Wrecks used to occur nearly every year of some late lumber-laden
sailing vessel and in the spring, after the hunt was over, Corbett
and his men would load their schooner with copper and iron from the
hulls and sail for Quebec in June when the moderate summer winds had

Five or six years ago M. Menier, the French chocolate king, purchased
the island from the Seignorial heirs and has converted it into a game
reserve. He has cut road, built wharfs and made many other
improvements and is trying to acclimate animals that were not found
on the island, such as moose, Virginia red deer, buffalo, beaver,

A resident governor lives on the island the year around and has a
steamer of a couple of hundred tons at his command that plies between
the island and Quebec, as necessity requires. M. Menier, with a party
of friends, comes from France each summer and passes a month on the
island fishing and shooting. There are three salmon rivers, one where
the fish are especially large and numerous.

After purchasing the island M. Menier secured from the Canadian
Government the right to a three-mile belt of water, so when the owner
is on "Anticosta" he is actually lord and master of all that he

  * * *

In the _Forest and Stream_ of Feb. 9 I have read the article written
by H. de Puyjalon on the pekan or fisher. Mr. de Puyjalon appears to
me to have attempted writing upon a subject in which he was very
little versed and with no data upon which to base his assertions. As
a matter of fact, prior to about the year 1860, the fisher or pekan
was an animal unknown to the trappers on the north shore and
Labrador, east of the Saguenay, and it was only after that year that
an odd one was trapped in that lower country. In fact, when first the
fisher made its appearance the Indians had no name for it, but after
it became better known they adopted the Algonquin name it now bears.
When an Indian, in the early sixties, was fortunate enough to have
one in his pack he mentioned it as a big marten.

For many years the Saguenay River appeared to have been the boundary
line for moose, red deer and pekan, none being known on the east
side, while fairly numerous on the west bank. As the fisher was never
very plentiful on the Labrador, and when found was only in the wooded
part, it is not strange that a person of Mr. de Puyjalon's sedentary
habits should have trapped only two.

I lived within hearing distance (that is, courier's reports) of Mr.
de Puyjalon, while that gentleman resided on the coast, and apart
from hearing that he set a fox trap or two about his shanty, never
heard him mentioned as what we would call a trapper.

In his article he gives the pekan the credit of showing considerable
cunning and finesses. As a matter of natural history they have no
more of this than a marten, and will bungle into an ordinarily made
dead-fall in the same way. The only thing to do when fisher are known
to be about a line of marten traps is to make a larger sized house
for him and extra heavy weight to keep him down when caught.

That the fisher decreases in number is quite contrary to facts.
According to the last London sales of mixed furs in September, fisher
stood at 4,926, in 1893 4,828, and in 1883 4,640, showing that they
have increased slightly. In some parts of the country they stand in
the returns about equal to the marten exported. I remember this very
plainly, for at the time it struck me as peculiar. I was in charge of
an out-post on Lake Superior. Our returns were principally beaver,
foxes and lynx, very few marten, and in that year I had at the close
of trade 96 marten and 96 fisher. This was impressed on my memory as
being a strange coincidence, because the post I had been previously
stationed at turned out over two thousand marten to eight or ten
fisher. The prices for fisher in the Canadian market vary but little
and we never have fluctuations as in silver foxes and marten. The
skins are little used in any country except Russia and China, where
they are used chiefly by the rich as coat linings. As they have a
tough skin, and when prime a deep, rich fur, it is a wonder--since
they are comparatively few on the market--that they do not command a
better price.

The resort of the pekan is principally along the mountain ranges,
never in the black spruce or flat barren country of the table land or
to the north of it. Their food consists of rabbits, partridges, mice,
squirrels and fruit when in season. When the mountain ash berries are
plentiful and hang late in the autumn, both the fisher and the marten
are difficult, if not impossible, to trap, as there is no meat lure
you can bait with, that will induce them to leave the berries.

In a year of scarcity of fruits, when the fisher has to depend on his
own adroitness in securing his food, I have read the signs and seen
where one has been very persistent in running down a rabbit, the
chase being up and down, in and out, until bunny was overtaken,
killed and eaten.



It is only in the far back country that the once plentiful beaver are
to be found at the present day, and though a description of one of
the modes the Indians adopt in killing them may be of no practical
use to the present generation of hunters on the fringe of
civilization, it will at least be interesting to them and remembered
by some old-timers. Chiselling, or trenching, beaver, as it is
sometimes called, is yet followed by the interior Indians, and when
conditions are favorable, is a most expeditious way of piling up a
whole lodge.

The writer in his young days has many a time accompanied the Indians
on these hunts, and the description of my last participation in this
exciting mode of hunting I will endeavor to explain to the reader. I
found a large lodge of beaver in a very small lake, probably a
quarter of a mile long by one-eighth wide. It was so late in the fall
that it was too near freezing to set traps in open water, and the
appearance of the shore conveyed to my experienced eye that it could
be chiselled to advantage. I therefore returned to the post and left
the beaver undisturbed.

It was fortunate I did so, for the following night all the small
ponds and lakes in the vicinity were ice-bound only to open again in
six months. A few days after an Indian visited the post for an
additional supply of ammunition and snaring twine, and I took the
opportunity to enlist his services to kill my beaver. I offered him
two pounds of tea for a day's work at the lake. Whether he killed the
beaver or not, he was sure of the tea. This he agreed to, and I
immediately put together the necessary things so as to make an early

As the lake was only an hour's walk from the post we reached it about
sunrise, and both knowing our business, set to work at once. The
implements necessary for each man are a belt axe, an ordinary socket
mortise chisel one and a quarter inch broad. This is handled
(generally at the lake) with a peeled spruce sapling from six to
seven feet long, and last but by no means least, is a good beaver
dog, and almost any Indian dog is good for beaver, as they learn from
the older ones and train themselves. I had two at the post and these,
of course, accompanied us. The first thing to do is to visit the
discharge of the lake. If this is dammed a trap must be set at the
opening where the water escapes. This is the first precaution, so
that if any beaver during the trenching process tries to escape down
the creek he must pass over the trap and get caught.

Where the water of the lake and that of the creek is of the same
level there is consequently no dam, and then the creek, at its
narrowest part, has to be picketed from side to side. This is often a
laborious job, as pickets have to be cut and carried to the creek, a
cut three or four inches wide made in the ice and then the pickets
driven down side by side, or very close to each other, so the beaver
cannot possibly pass.

This work done to our satisfaction, our next point was the lodge
itself. This we broke in from the top and all the sticks, mud, etc.,
we jammed down in the opening or exit. This is done to prevent the
beaver returning once they have left the lodge. At several places
around the lake the beavers have what the Indian call "washes." These
are burrows they make beneath the surface, generally up under the
roots of a large tree. They use them for breathing places and to
retire to if disturbed at the lodge. They make these at any favorable
spot where the conditions are suitable, and the "washes" vary in
number from three to five up to twice that number.

The dog's share of the work is to travel around the lake and scent
the beaver under the frozen bank. He is trained not to give tongue,
he merely points and sets his head on one side, then the other. Both
our dogs are now pointing and we hastened over to the spot. A hole is
chisselled in the ice close to shore and a crooked stick inserted.
This stick is cut at the commencement of the hunt, is about seven
feet long, and has a natural curve, almost as much as a half moon.
The end of the stick is moved about, it slips up under the bank; this
is the entrance to the "wash." We cut the hole in the ice larger and
then watch the water. If the beavers (or even one) are up in the bank
there is a perceptible rise and fall of the water at the opening. We
then set to work to fence in the entrance to the "wash" with sticks.
This done, the ice is cut away inside the stakes, a couple of feet

All is now ready for the test. The Indian bares his arm up to the arm
pit. He gets down on his knees over the hole and watches, while I go
up a few feet from the bank and drive the chisel into the ground.
This disturbs the beaver and he makes a mad drive to get out to the
lake. The pickets bring him up, and while he is turning about,
puzzled and bewildered, the Indian dashes his arm into the water and
seizing the beaver by the hind leg gives one strong pull and lands
him over his head. The fall on the ice stuns him momentarily, and
before he can escape the Indian has dealt him a blow with the head of
his axe. The young ones are generally the first killed, as two or
three may be together in one "wash." The old ones, as a rule, give
much trouble, as they vacate one "wash" for another at the approach
of the hunter. Then there is nothing for it but to picket off each
"wash" as found, and thus reduce the number of places for him to
resort to.

A hunter with a practiced eye can tell pretty well by the appearance
of the shores about a beaver lake if the "washes" are few in number
or numerous and guides himself accordingly. If the lake has drained a
foot or two since the ice took, it is useless to attempt to chisel,
as the beaver can go ashore under the ice anywhere and breathe. In
our case all circumstances were favorable; the water was full under
the ice, all over, and the "washes" were very few and easily located.

By three o'clock in the afternoon we had the beavers all killed, two
old and four young ones. We really had five by dinner time, so we lit
a fire, boiled our kettle and let the last old one quiet down a bit
while we ate our lunch. We got him at last in the last "wash," and I
suppose knowing this was his last stand he would not attempt to leave
the back part of the hole no matter how much I poked the chisel in
about him. So while the Indian kept a close and alert watch at the
mouth of the "wash," I made a large opening at the back and slipped
in one of the dogs. In a moment beaver and dog were both out at the
entrance fighting in the water. The beaver fastened his terrible
teeth in the dog's lip. The Indian and I each managed to grasp a hind
leg, a long pull and out came beaver and dog together. We had to
force his teeth apart after killing him before the dog was free.

  * * *

I mentioned in a previous article that I would at some future time
tell of the part a beaver-dam enacts in the successful shooting of
the beaver.

As I said, the beaver has to keep a jealous watch on the dam to
preserve the proper height of the water at their lodge. They make
nightly visits to see all is well, just as a faithful watchman goes
his rounds of the factory over which he has charge.

Any sudden falling of water brings the beaver down post haste to the
dam to repair the damage or leak. Often an otter is the cause of the
trouble, as they sometimes bore a passage way under the discharge,
thereby letting out a large quantity of water in a very short while.

The Indians, knowing this careful watchfulness of the beaver, use it
to his destruction by purposely breaking a portion of the dam and
hiding, await the coming of the little builders, shooting them at
close range.

I cannot do better than to describe one of these shootings, in which
I took part.

One of the principal things to observe is that the wind should be in
the proper direction, i. e., from the lodge toward the dam. A day
coming when the condition of the wind was favorable, we set off with
our double-barrel guns, a tea kettle and some grub, and reached the
discharge about 3 P. M.

The little pond was brimming full with the proper quantity of water,
flowing out of the cut to insure a regular equality. The Indian
studied all this, looked at the sun, and decided it was yet too early
to cut the dam, and in the meantime we fixed a nice brush cache at
different angles to the dam, wherein we were to sit and watch. About
four o'clock the Indian hacked away at the discharge with a small
pointed stick, prying several holes under and about it, and in a
short time the creek below the dam became a highly turbulent stream,
and then we retired to our bedded places and waited.

I might mention that the time of the year was about the tenth of
October, a time when beaver are quite prime, in that north country.

We had to wait possibly an hour before the first beaver made his
appearance. It was one of the parents, and judging by the speed at
which he came down the pond, he must have been of turbine
construction. One thing sure he was on a rush message, and wanted to
get there quick. I saw the Indian's gun barrel move slightly, and
when the beaver got within close distance he pulled on him, and in a
few minutes the beaver lay awash close to the dam, where he was
allowed to remain.

The next one that came in sight was a young one, and came my way. He
met the same fate. The slight current dragged him also close to the
dam, a few feet from his father or mother, as the case might be.

This double bagging was hardly over when another big one came around
a point heading for the dam as the others had done. This fellow
proved to be my meat also, and again a pause in the shooting.

The shadows of the evening were fast falling and we had almost given
up hopes of seeing any others, when again we saw a far-off ripple of
some animal swimming, and it proved to be another young one. This one
took down the shore nearest to the Indian, and beat the water at his
gun's shot.

The sport was becoming quite exciting, and I would have had no
objection to continuing it longer, but the Indian arose and called
across to me to gather up our beaver, having a large and a small one
each, a very fair division.

He then set to work to repair the damaged dam as well as he could,
and explained to me that the remaining ones would finish off the job
when the fear was off of them.

The Indian said that amongst his tribe the hunters often used this
mode of hunting, and what beaver was left unkilled they either
trapped later on or trenched them out when the ice set fast. One
thing I learned from that afternoon's hunt was that it was simple and
successful, and I used the knowledge several times, in other years,
to my advantage.

We had to pack those beaver through four miles of trackless bush, and
each pack must have weighed ninety pound, and, as far as I remember,
we rested only three times. I mention this because I saw in one of
the letters that appeared in H-T-T, where a man mentions having
killed a beaver that weighed fifty pounds, which was so heavy he had
to drag it home.

I have heard of dragging a deer or hair seal, but never of a
fur-bearing animal. I wonder what that man would have thought to see
an Indian of a hundred and thirty-six pounds weight carry four beaver
and his bark canoe on top, over a three-quarter mile portage without
resting, and he did not even appear winded at the end. The beaver
weighed in the neighborhood of one hundred and eighty pounds, and the
bark canoe an easy sixty, but then they are inured to carrying heavy
loads from childhood.



My companion and I were sitting late one afternoon at a beaver lake,
waiting for the sun to get near the tree tops before pushing our
canoe into the lake to watch for beaver. They generally break water
near the lodge about sundown and swim along shore to cut their food,
and one has usually a chance of a shot.

All at once we heard back in the bush a cracking and breaking of
branches, readily understood as done by a large animal running
through the underbrush at a high rate of speed. The noises came
nearer and nearer, a little off to our right, and I grasped my
double-barreled gun which lay beside me and waited events.

A few moments after we saw a large caribou break cover about one
hundred yards to the right and spring into the lake. But what was
that black object clinging to his neck? Surely some animal!

The caribou struck out as fast as it could swim, heading for the
further shore, and we jumped into our canoe and gave pursuit. The
keen eyes of the animal on the caribou's neck having detected us, it
relinquished its hold, dropped off into the water and turned for the
shore the caribou had left.

The canoe was immediately headed to cut off his retreat, and when
within proper distance I shot it with one barrel and left it there
dead on the surface of the lake, while we continued on our chase.

This diversion had taken our attention from the caribou, but now,
when we had resumed the chase, we found the animal was getting
through the water very slowly, and as we were paddling in its wake,
we perceived the water at each side of the canoe was bloody. By the
time we reached the caribou it was dead.

On examination we found the jugular vein had been cut by the fierce
animal on its back, and it had bled to death, fleeing with what
strength it had to the last drop of the poor thing's blood.

We threw a string over its horns and towed it back to the portage,
picking up in passing our floating black animal, which proved to be a
very large wolverine, carcajo or Indian devil, the beast going under
all of these names with hunters and traders.

The carcajo, when he loads for deer, goes down to one of their
runways, or on a road leading to a salt lick. He climbs a tree and
gets out on some branch overhanging the track. Here he flattens
himself out and waits. Yes, he is a record waiter. He can give points
to even the girl who is waiting and watching.

Time is no object to him; his inwards may be shriveling up for want
of food, but there he remains. Once he has taken up that position
nothing but a deer will make him show the least sign of life. He is
to all intents a part of the tree limb, and the knowledge that all
things "come to him who waits" is strongly fixed in his devil brain.

The deer passes, he drops on to him like a rock. Should he strike too
far back, his cruel claws grip his way up toward the neck, and there
he settles himself, a fixture, and cuts away at the large veins till
the poor deer bleeds to death.

As soon as the deer feels this foreign weight on his back the cruel
teeth cutting into him, he at once runs into and through the thickest
part of the forest trying to rub the incubus off his back. But the
carcajo has the tenacity of the bulldog, and his own skin would be
ripped and lacerated before he would let go his hold.

The deer, realizing this mad rush through the bush is useless, makes
for the nearest water in the hope that this will rid him of his
enemy. But vain hope, the wolverine is there to stop, and only opens
his jaws when the deer is dead, or, as in my instance, through fear
for his personal safety.

Our beaver hunt was spoilt for that night, so we moved back on the
trail and camped. There we passed our time drying the deer's meat and
skinning the Indian devil.

  * * *

The amount of destructiveness contained in a full grown wolverine,
or, as he is sometimes called, carcajo and Indian devil, is something
past belief to any one who has not lived in the country in which they
resort. The tales told by hunters and lumbermen of the doings of this
strong and able beast would fill pages. Some of these, like fish
stories, may be seasoned by a pinch of salt, therefore I will only
jot down a few that I experienced personally in my trapping days.

Hunger cannot always be adduced as a reason for their thieving
propensities, inasmuch as they will steal martens, rabbits and
partridges out of traps and snares when they are full to repletion
just out of pure cussedness, as it were, to make the owner of the
traps and snares to use unseeming language.

When once a wolverine gets on a line of deadfalls the trapper has
either to abandon his traps and seek new fields, or kill the
mischievous animal, for even should the line be ten miles long the
Indian Devil will destroy or put out of order each trap to the very
end. Their favorite plan is to tear out the back of the trap. If they
find a marten caught and they are not hungry, they will carry it off
at right angles to the trail and bury it in the snow, or climb a tree
and deposit it on a cross branch. I have found no fewer than three
martens when visiting my trap road a day after the wolverine had

Once when chum and I were off for a couple of nights from our main
camp, on our return we missed a toboggan from in front of the shanty
door. This was passing strange as no Indians were in the vicinity,
nor had passed our way. Hunt as we did in every conceivable place did
not produce the missing sled. It was only two years after when
camping in the same place and felling a dry spruce for firewood that
the toboggan and tree came to earth together. The mystery was solved,
a wolverine had drawn it up in the top branches of the tree and left

I remember a laughable occurrence that took place once. Chum and I
had a small log shanty on the edge of a big lake. This was our
headquarters. Radiating from the shanty we had lines of traps to the
four points of the compass and we often slept out a night, visiting
and cleaning out the traps. Each used to take a line end, each slept
for that night solitary in the wilds.

On our return from one of our trips we met on the edge of the
clearing and when we got to our shanty we noticed things looked
strange and yet we could not tell for a moment what it was. On
opening the door things looked stranger still, for on the floor was a
mixture of mostly all our belongings, flour, matches, moccasins,
tobacco, soap and numerous other things and sifted over all was

One would think a hurricane had come down the chimney and blown
everything loose, but we knew better. Some animal must have done this
devastation and we could call that animal by his right name by
reading his work. Yes, a wolverine had been there and we fell to
calling him some appropriate names and as we went along, we invented
other names which our cuss vocabulary did not possess.

During a momentary lull in our burst of passion, we heard a slight
scratching under the table and there we found the worker of all the
mischief. A blow of the axe finished him then and there and he was
pulled out into the light. Our surprise was great to find most of the
hair on his head singed off and he was blind in both eyes. Then we
set to work to read the signs how it happened.

We found by our deduction that in the first place he had clambored up
on to the roof and from there had entered by the wide mouthed
chimney. Once in the shanty he had set to work to examine and
investigate everything about, each in turn to be cast from him on the

The very last thing to attract his attention was my chum's powder
horn. It was one of those old-fashioned cow horns with a plug in the
small end. There was at the time nearly half a pound of gun powder in
it. With this bright and shining article "carajou" started to clambor
up and out thru the chimney.

Alas! he held the butt end upwards. By dryness, I suppose, the plug
dropped out and a fine stream of powder found its way to the center
of our fireplace where a few coals must have yet kept fire. A flame
shot up, an explosion followed, and down came the frightened, blinded
beast. No doubt from agony and fear he crawled under the table where
we found him and put an end to his misery.

Their legs are very strong and muscular and I have known them to
break out of even a No. 4 Newhouse. When they will take bait a pretty
sure way to get them is by "setting a gun," but this is dangerous
work as some stranger might pass that way, and even to the person
setting the gun, great care must be used.

As they are very seldom famished and therefore will not take bait,
about the only thing for the trapper to do is to give him the "right
of way," and the hunter to move to some other part of the country for
a month or so. We call them the Indian Devil because he inhabits the
Indian country, but the Indians themselves call them "Bad Dog," this
being the lowest and meanest name their language supplies.



Many years ago, before the great River Moisie was resorted to by cod
fishermen and others, the harbor seals used to come up the stream in
great numbers for the purpose of bringing forth their young in its
quiet upper pools. After staying with their young for a couple of
weeks, the mother seals would return down the river, and a few days
later the little baby seals would drift down with the current and be
carried out to sea, there to hunt and grow big, and in their turn
become father and mother seals and visit their native river.

Many a calm evening I have stood on the gallery outside the house and
listened to the infant-like cry of the poor little seals as they
drifted on the river past the post. One evening, toward the end of
"the run" we heard one crying in a most pitiful and heart-rending
way. Every now and then we could see the snow-white mite as he
floated on the surface near mid-stream.

I got a large salmon scoop and joined the man on the beach. We waited
till the seal had floated past us, then quietly pushed out the boat.
The man headed obliquely down stream to come up with the baby from
behind, while I took a position in the bow, ready to land it in the
boat. In a few minutes we were up to him. The poor little deserted
fellow was pawing about in the water much after the manner of a blind
puppy and uttering plaintiff cries, startlingly like a real baby. I
skipped the scoop well under him, and in a moment he was safely
landed in the bottom of the boat.

I fixed up an extemporary feeding bottle, made of a piece of rubber
tubing, a cork and an empty soda water bottle, which we filled with
some nice warm milk. We got him comfortable on a sheepskin alongside
the kitchen stove, and with a little instruction he very soon knew
how to work his end of the tube. The warmth of the stove and the
bottle of milk very quickly sent him into sweet forgetfulness.

My first intention was to keep him only a few days, until he got a
little larger and stronger, and then let him continue his journey to
the sea. But the little fellow became such a pet and evidently liked
his surroundings so well that it would have been heartless in the
extreme to send him away; so Jack, as the cook christened him, became
one of the family, and grew and waxed strong, and followed me about
between the buildings with his flopping gait in a most ridiculous

In September, numbers of fine sea trout used to come in the river
each tide and go out with the ebb. We placed a stand of old useless
salmon nets near the last sand point to create a back-water, from
which to fly-fish. Jack used to accompany me on these fishing tours,
and he very soon came to understand what my whipping the water was

One day he wabbled down to the very edge of the river, gazed up and
down and across the water, and the next instant dived in, with a
greasy, sliding motion. The waters closed over him, and I paused in
my pastime to see what would happen next. I looked about in all
directions for Jack, but not a ripple disturbed the placid waters. He
could not have been meshed in the folds of the net, because I would
have seen the floats vibrate. So I stood there pondering, my thoughts
partly perplexed and partly sorrowful for the possible loss of our

All at once I heard heavy breathing almost at my feet, and looking
down, there was Jack with a fine 3 1/2 lb. sea trout crossways in his
mouth, which, on my calling his name, he deposited at my feet. Then
you may be sure I petted the dear young fellow, and he seemed to
understand that what he had done was appreciated by his master, for
after rolling himself for a few moments on the sand he made another
dive, and another, and another, always with the same successful
results, and the best part of his fishing was that he only selected
the largest and fattest fish. We went home, both very proud in our
own way--Jack for having been made so much of, and I because of the
useful accomplishment of my pet.

As long as the run of fish continued, Jack and I used to resort each
day to the eddy. He brought the fish ashore and I put them in the
basket. What we could not consume at the house, the cook salted for
winter use. Yes, the winter was coming on, and the thought occurred
to me several times what we would do with Jack. Jack, however, made
no attempt to take his freedom and forsake us. On the contrary, he
manifested greater affection for us all, and, as the days became
shorter and the nights colder and longer in that northern latitude,
he used to sleep for many hours on a stretch, huddled up with the
dogs in the kitchen, only going out of doors for an occasional slide
in the snow once or twice during the course of each day.

Even the long winter of the North comes to an end in time, and once
again we had open water; the last-bound river was again free from
ice, and Jack used to take long swims, but he always came back.
Finally the run of salmon struck the river, and I took Jack down to
the bight of the sandbars to fly him at bigger game than the trout.
He made one or two dives and came ashore empty-mouthed. He saw there
were no caresses for Jack, so he tried again.

This time his efforts were crowned with success, for he landed with a
12 lb. salmon struggling in his strong jaws. He received my pating
and expressions of satisfaction with unbounded joy and seemed to know
he had done something to be proud of, for he ambled up the sandbank
and slid down to the water several times in rapid succession.

Soon it was the season for the seals to enter the river as in past
years, and the Indians were shooting them from their canoes whenever
they had a chance. Jack used to go so far afield now, probably trying
to find the mother that had so shamefully deserted him last year,
that we feared he might be shot by the Indians by mistake; so we tied
a piece of blue worsted gartering about his neck to distinguish him
from the other seals. But alas for the poor Knight of the Garter. One
day Jack was out among the other seals off the mouth of the river,
and in some way the blue garter must have been detached from his
neck, for an Indian shot him.

The man brought him ashore and told us of the mishap. As soon as he
handled him to put him in the canoe, he knew at once from the
roughness of his coat it was poor Jack. And thus ended our
intelligent and useful pet.

We buried him near the flagstaff and put up a board bearing the
inscription "Jack."

  * * *

Seeing a small shark brought ashore the other day by one of the
salmon fishermen, who had found it rolled up in his net, put me in
mind of an exciting adventure I had many years ago. Both at the east,
as well as the west side of the mouth of the great River Moisie, sand
banks run out to sea for a distance of two or three miles. These are
covered at high tide, but being of almost a uniform height, the
falling tide runs off of them in a very short space of time, and
leaves them dry with the exception of some odd places where pools of
water remain. The banks are dry the last two hours of the ebb and the
first two hours of the flood tide.

The great river continually deposits on these sands such quantities
of vegetable matter, that they are a resort for many kinds of small
fishes; and numerous waterfowl come there at certain stages of the
tide to feed on the fish.

I was only about eighteen at the time, and had gone out in a
birch-bark canoe to shoot ducks on the banks. My companion, an
Indian boy, even younger than myself in years, but several times
older in experience, was to steer the canoe. The last words his
father said to us before leaving, were, "Don't go too far out, or the
'Ma-thcie-ne-mak' will cut your canoe and eat you."

The sea that morning was as calm as a pond, and perfectly glassy from
the strong May sun striking straight down on it. We had been out for
a couple of hours, and had had pretty fair luck with sea-ducks and
loons, and were just about starting for the shore before the tide
left us dry on the banks. If such a thing had happened, it would have
entailed on us the labor of carrying our canoe a mile or so to the
beach, over soft yielding sand.

"We better go," the boy was saying when his words were cut short in
his mouth. With the remains of that breath he screeched
"Ma-tchie-ne-mak!" and started to paddle like one possessed. I admit
that his fright was infectious, and coupled with the dread name of
shark, it so quickened my stroke, that Hanlon's sixty-a-minute were
very slow compared to the way I worked my paddle. I have read, and
heard from old whalesmen, that as long as one kept the water churned
up, there was no danger of the shark getting in his work. Twice the
boy called out, "There he is!" Once I caught a glimpse of the monster
a few yards off on our port beam, heading to the shore also, but
evidently watching for a chance to attack us.

The tide was now running out, and consequently the more we neared the
shore, the shoaler the water got. The shark had not stopped to
consider this in his mad rush to catch us. At last our canoe grounded
on the sands and we looked back with relief at our narrow escape.
But, ah! what is that about a couple of acres astern, surely not the
shark! But it was, and he was floundering about in shallow water, in
one of the pools, and every minute the water was getting less.
"Hoop-la! we will now hunt the shark," I said to little Moses, as I
started off toward him over the now dry sands.

Yes, there he was, the great, ugly beast, flopping about in a basin
surrounded by banks, out of which it was impossible for him to
escape. From the shore the boy's father and one of my men saw what
was going on and came out with a handful of bullets and their guns.
In the meantime I was employing the time with good results, by
pouring into the shark charge after charge of AAA shot at close

By the time the men reached us the fish was pretty sick, and apart
from snapping his immense jaws, was lying perfectly still. The first
bullet from a distance of ten feet put an end to him. When the tide
came in again we towed him into the river and cut him up and salted
the chunks in barrels to feed the dogs the next winter. From the
liver we rendered out three gallons of oil as clear as water. This of
itself was of value to us the next winter in our lamps, it gave a
clear light and emitted no smoke. Those were the days before coal oil
came into general use. Our only lights at the post were home-made
tallow candles, or a cotton rag from a tin spout fed by seal-oil.
This, combined with the burning rag, gave off a heavy, dense, black
smoke, which was, if not injurious, very unpleasant to inhale during
the long winter evenings. The shark-oil being so much superior, I
kept it for my own private lamps, and the teeth ornamented the



Much suffering and discomfort are experienced by the novice on
snowshoe tramps by the want of knowledge as to how to care for and
protect the feet from blistering.

The toes are the parts that suffer most from the friction of the
cross snowshoe strings that are continually see-sawing the front part
of the moccasin, and many, from an erroneous idea of cause and
effect, pile on extra socks, thinking thereby to prevent the
blistering by the thickness of their foot padding.

During my first years in the Hudson Bay service I suffered like any
other new "hitter" of the long trail, but once started on the tramp
there was no giving in. Places being hundreds of miles apart, there
were no houses nor any place to stop and say, "I can go no further."
On a journey of seven, eight or ten days, we took probably one day's
extra provisions, but no more, therefore be the back lame through the
heavy bundle it had to support day after day, or our every toe
blistered to the bone, walk on we must and did. I have often seen the
blood appear on my moccasins, working its way through three or four
pairs of socks and become so dried and caked that before the shoes
could be removed at the night's camp-fire, warm water had to be
poured freely upon the moccasin to release the foot.

The agony at such times was past explaining. It was quite a work to
patch up each separate toe with balsam gum and rag before turning in
for the night, and yet stiff, swollen and sore, these poor feet had
to have the large heavy snowshoes suspended to them next morning and
the weary tramp continued as on the previous day.

Our guides, the Indians, did not suffer, as their feet were hardened
from childhood, and as an Indian never gives advice nor offers to
relieve his companion's load without being asked, we, the unfortunate
greenhorns, were compelled to trudge on in the wake of our pace-maker
as well as we could.

Of course I tried by all manner of changes in footwear to alleviate
the trouble by taking off some thickness of socks and by putting on
extra ones, all to no avail. Trip after trip, and year after year, I
suffered with cut toes and blistered feet. By good fortune, I think
it was my fifth year in the country, I was ordered from St. Lawrence
posts to meet a winter packet party from Hudson's Bay. A certain lake
on the divide was arranged for in the autumn as the meeting place of
the two parties. The packeters from Hudson's Bay were to leave on the
3d of January and had a journey ahead of them of 325 miles. My party,
two Indians and self, left on the 6th of January, having 55 miles
less to travel, or 270 miles. Our day's tramps were so similar in
length that we arrived at the rendezvous within four hours of each

One of the party from the bay was a Scotch half-breed, and from him,
for the first time, I learned the art of caring properly for the
feet. He made me cast aside all my woolen knitted socks, and out of
his abundance he supplied me with smoked fawn-skin socks, ankle high,
made in the fashion of a moccasin, only with no tops or welts of
seams. The top and bottom pieces of leather were herring-boned
together, a slit was made in the top half to insert the foot and this
was put on the bare foot. On top of this two other shoe socks, made
of duffle or blanketing, were placed and the moose skin moccasin over
all, the leather top of which was tied about the naked ankle.

I ventured to opine that I would possibly be cold there, or freeze,
but my new friend told me the object was to keep the feet from over
heating. "And this and the knitted socks is the cause of all your

"Now listen to me," he went on; "at every noon day fire, or in fact
any time a lengthened halt is called, sit on the brush before the
fire and take off both moccasins and all your socks, turn them inside
out and beat them on a stick or the brush to take out all the creases
the feet have made. Let them cool wrong side out and while this is
taking place, have your feet also cooling. Let them become thoroughly
cold before replacing your socks and shoes and when doing this put
those that were on the right foot on to the left, and vice versa.
This affords a wonderful relief to the tired feet and you resume the
journey with a rested feeling. At night, after the last pipe is
smoked and you are about turning in to get what sleep you can with no
roof to cover you but the far-off heavens, then turn up your pants to
the knee and jump, bare-footed and bare-legged into the nearby snow
and stand in it until you can bear it no longer, then stand near the
blazing camp-fire and with a coarse towel, or bag, rub the legs and
feet well until the blood is tingling, and the color of your lower
extremities resembles a boiled lobster, and my word for it, you will
rest better, sleep sounder and arise refreshed--what you never
enjoyed before."

Fitted out as I was and following his advice of the snow bath, I made
the return journey with ease and pleasure. I made long tramps for
twenty years following and never again was I troubled by either
blisters or cut feet. Even making short trips about the post hunting,
I never allowed a knitted sock near my feet.



The Indian term "deer-sickness" is in reality a misnomer, as it is
not the deer that is sick but the party following its tracks. The
idea of writing this article came to me by reading "Scent Glands of
the Deer," which appeared in _Forest and Stream_ of May 13, and I
remembered how I had the deer-sickness thirty-eight years ago.

There are many surprises for a tenderfoot or greenhorn in the wild,
but the name given to one of these very-much-to-be-pitied parties in
the bush country from the Labrador to Lake Superior is _mangers du
lard._ This is the universal cognomen by which a stranger in the
north country is known. I found by tracing back that this soubriquet
was first given by the French _courriers du bois_ to a new hand
entering the back country for the first time.

It is said that in those early days the French youths, from which new
hands were recruited, lived at home on very scanty food, and when
they got away working for the fur company, where pork was,
comparatively, in abundance, they let their young appetites loose and
ate the flesh of swine in prodigious quantities, whereby they became
known as _mangers da lard,_ i. e., pork eaters, and this denoted a
stranger or greenhorn, the tenderfoot of the Western prairie.

I was somewhat of a greenhorn myself and suffered thereby by catching
the deer-sickness. Like a good many other bad knocks that a beginner
has to endure, this bit of sickness had an abiding effect on me and
was never repeated.

My experience came about in this wise. I had accompanied a family of
Indians to a deer battue, and after the general slaughter was over I
was allotted the duty of following up a wounded deer; by the word
deer I mean a wood caribou.

This particular buck had been shot at close quarters, the ball going
clear through its stomach. While the shot had the effect of bowling
the deer over it had not touched a vital spot, and during the
excitement of the other shooting the animal got up and traveled away
unobserved. The snow was pretty deep, nevertheless the further the
deer went the better he appeared to get along. When this fact became
evident to me, who was following his track, literally with my nose to
the snow, I put on a greater spurt to try and end the jig. The deer
by this time had become cognizant of being followed and he also
increased his pace.

I now became aware of a weakness in my limbs, a nauseating smell in
my nostrils and a faint and giddy sensation in my head. This
uncomfortable feeling grew worse, and at last to save myself from
falling I had to lean against a tree and wipe my brow with a handful
of snow.

This had a momentary good effect. I saw clearly once more and pushing
ahead redoubled my efforts to come within shooting distance of my
deer. But I had not gone far before I felt a relapse coming and in a
few moments I was in worse distress than ever. The last I remember
was seeing a whirl of trees going around me. It was the last
conscious moment before I fainted dead away and fell in my tracks in
the snow.

Luckily the chief had sent his two boys to follow me up, not that he
anticipated this ending, but for the purpose of skinning and cutting
up the deer. It was providential he did, for otherwise I would never
have awakened in this world. As it was, the cold had thoroughly
penetrated my body and it was only after drinking a quart or two of
hot tea that circulation resumed its functions.

After I had come around to the youth's satisfaction the eldest one
started off after the cause of all my trouble, leaving his younger
brother to replenish the fire and attend to my wants. The elder boy
returned after an hour or two, having killed the deer, the proof, the
split heart tucked in his belt. Darkness was then setting in, but the
boys made ready to start for camp. What had taken me hours of toil to
cover, they passed over in a very short time; in fact, we only saw my
trail once or twice on the way out to the lake.

That night, after supper the chief told me of the "deer-sickness,"
and warned me against persistently following the trail. He continued
and told how the Indians did and in after years I saw their mode and
practiced it myself. He explained to be that a pungent odor exuded
from the deer's hoofs when they were pursued and it was this that
caused my weakness and distress.

The Indians in following deer cut the trail once in a while merely to
make sure they are going in the right direction and to ascertain the
freshness of the tracks. This is done with a two-fold purpose, first
to avoid the odor from the fresh tracks and secondly to run or walk
in the most open parts of the forest. Moose, caribou, and deer when
fleeing from an enemy invariably pass through the thickest bush,
because the snow is shallower under thick, branchy trees than in the
open, therefore the Indian walks a spell on the right hand side of
the trail, then crosses over and passes on the left.

From the topography of the country the Indian has a pretty good idea
of the trend of the caribou's course, and the cutting of the trail
from time to time is only to assure himself that he is correct in his
surmise, and to judge by the tracks how near he is to the quarry. He
thereby passes through the clearest country, has the best walking and
escapes the nauseous effluvia emitted from the animals' hoofs.

  * * *

It falls to us who live in the country the year round to hear amusing
stories from the guides of their experiences with the "tenderfeet"
that visit the north country during the open season. One that showed
the cuteness of the guide was told me shortly ago by the man himself.

Dr. S---- came to Roberval with the expressed wish of taking home a
caribou head of his own killing. He engaged George Skene as man of
all work, and Old Bazil, the noted guide and successful hunter.

Although it is not customary for guides to take their guns when out
with gentleman sportsmen, yet Old Bazil was an exception, as he
always insisted on taking his. Around the camp-fire Dr. S---- spoke
of his great wish to kill a caribou.

"Now," he said to old Bazil, "You bring me up close to one and I kill
it, I'll give you a bonus of $10."

Several times next day during the still-hunt old Bazil would leave
the doctor to await his return, while he would go forward
reconnoitering carefully so there might be no mistake. At last he
came back with the glad tidings to the doctor, that he had seen two
caribou not far in advance of where they now were.

When it got to sneaking after Bazil through the last hundred yards to
the few trees at the extreme edge of the forest, the doctor's heart
was beating with such thumps that he thought the noise would start
the game. The doctor at last reached the guide in the fringe of
trees. Bazil told him that one of the deer was standing up, broadside
on, while a little to the right was the second one lying down. The
standing one being the larger of the two, and the only one having
horns, was for the doctor to shoot, while the guide would take a
pot-shot at the other. The doctor flattened out on his stomach and
wriggled a few feet further, saw the deer through the branches, took
aim and waited for Bazil to count the agreed one, two, three.

Bazil argued with himself that from the uncertain way the doctor's
gun was wabbling about there were several hundred chances to one
against his hitting the deer, and as a consequence, he would be minus
his bonus.

So he employed a ruse. He counted the agreed signal to fire, but
instead of firing at the one lying down, he drew a bead on the
doctor's, and, of course, killed it.

At the report of the guns the caribou on the ground sprang up, and
old Bazil, with consummate prevarication, said, "Oh! I missed it!"
Aimed again, let go the other barrel, and killed this one also.

The doctor was wild with delight at his successful first shot, and
expressed in many words his pleasure to old Bazil, who took it all in
without a blush.

The old guide, who was standing up back of where the doctor fired,
had taken no chance of missing with his smooth bore, but fired point
blank at the deer's fore quarters. There was found on examination a
frightful wound, and smashed bone; but the doctor was not versed
enough in woodcraft to distinguish if this had been caused by a round
bullet, and not the conical one from his own rifle.

The doctor was not a pot-hunter; he had what he came for, and had got
it in almost record time, and was satisfied, so he fished for brook
trout while Bazil carefully prepared the head for transportation and
dried the meat for his own family. Then they journeyed back to
Roberval, where the men were paid off, Bazil receiving a bright $10
gold piece as promised over and above his wages.

The doctor no doubt has that head, beautifully gotten up, hanging
over his sideboard, and points to it with pride to his guests,
saying, "I killed that head back of Kis-ki-sink, in Canada."



In the far interior where flour is scarce and our living consists of
either fish or flesh, both of which we have to get when we can and
how we can, the game laws are a dead letter. Nets were always in the
water the year round and no one moved from the posts without a gun.
Fish and potatoes were our staple diet and were it not for the
abundance of the former we could never have lived in the country.
Lakes were all about us and when one was fished out we moved our nets
to another.

Flesh, however, could not always be got, and when the chance offered
we killed, in season or out. Nothing, however, was wasted. Should we
shoot a deer or moose in summer, the surplus over what we could
consume in a day or two was either jerked and dried or salted. Many a
time have my men had to visit our nets a mile or two off to get
wherewith for our breakfast. If successful the fish had then to be
cleaned and cooked before we broke our fast. Such being our hard
battle for life I may be excused for the following story:

An Indian came in late one afternoon from his hunting grounds at the
south to get his spring ammunition. It was about the middle of April
and there was at the time a hard crust on the snow. He told us that
on the way he had seen cuttings of a very big bull moose and he was
sure he was on the top of a mountain near by where he had noticed the
cuttings. He had no gun and besides the moose was useless to him so
far from his camp being four or five miles from our post. Now he
continued if you want to have him you can come along with me in the
morning and you will surely kill him. He can't get away with the
crust. The Indian was so sure of our success that he told me to take
my two men with sleds to bring home the meat and hide.

As it was all ice walking except one short portage to the foot of the
range of mountains he named, we decided to leave the post an hour or
so before daylight so as to be there at the earliest possible moment.
Our preparations were soon made and we took a little sleep dressed as
we were and then started. We took two little partridge curs to head
off the moose and keep him amused until I could catch up and shoot.

The hunt was going to be such a dead sure result that mine was the
gun in the party. It was a smooth bore H. B. and carried bullets 28
to the pound. We had a cup of tea and a bite of galette at the foot
of the mountain and left our sleds there together with the Indian's
bundle of ammunition, tea, tobacco, etc., he had traded at the post.
My men each carried one of the dogs in a bag to let go at the proper
moment. As the Indian proposed in the first place to still hunt the
bull, he reasoned that it being yet so early perhaps I would get a
shot when he jumped up from his bed of the night.

We had to wear snow shoes in the green bush as the crust was not
sufficient strong to support a man without them. We whipped strips of
old rags about the frames to deaden the noise when walking on the
hard snow. The Indian led off putting down each foot with the utmost
care and I followed gun in hand the men being told to keep an acre or
two behind us. The ascent was gradual and pretty free from
undergrowth. We were getting near the summit when all at once the
Indian called out, "he's off." After the stillness of our procedure
these words were quite startling. The men heard him and hurried
forward to us. The dogs were emptied out, they caught the tainted air
in a moment and away they ran.

This was the first time I knew of an Indian's acute sense of smell,
and after, when I came to consider it, could not think otherwise than
that it was wonderful. From the place where we stood when he said,
"The moose is away," was fully two acres to his lair, so it was
impossible he could have seen or heard him go. In fact, he told me he
smelt him when he sprang up. This I disbelieved at the time, but in
after years had many instances that could not be doubted. Already the
dogs were giving tongue down the descent on the other side and as
they were barking apparently in the same place the moose was said to
be at a standstill. The face of the mountain on the other side was
wooded with a young growth of trees, in some places growing in
thickets or clusters.

The Indian and the men followed me down hill and I approached the
place where I heard the dogs, gun in hand. The dogs were, by the
sound of their barking, running in on him and taking a nip at each
run. After careful peering into the clump of trees I thought I made
out his fore quarter and fired. The moose simply sat down and
elevated his head until his neck appeared as long as that of a
giraffe. I thought this was the forerunner of his tumbling over dead.
This, however, was not the case, for the next minute he broke cover
and charged straight for where I was standing, a distance of only a
few yards. My companions turned and fled and I looked around for a
suitable tree to dodge behind, but none was near. My left barrel was
yet loaded and I realized my very life depended on my coolness and
accurate shooting.

It takes considerable more time to write this down than the event
itself took. I planted myself firmly on my snowshoes and waited the
proper moment. All fear had passed and I fully realized it was death
to me if I missed my shot. On he came his great eyes blazing green in
his anger and the coarse hairs on his neck and shoulders standing up
like quills. In a case of strong tension on the nerve like myself at
that time moments appear hours. He was in the act of making his last
spring before reaching me when I took a snap sight along the barrel
and fired fair in the forehead. I had just time to step to one side
when he fell dead right in my old tracks. Death had been so
instantaneous that he was so to speak "killed on the fly." We skinned
and cut up the meat and were back at the post before the midday thaw
set in. It was only that night when I looked at the adventure from
all points of view that I fully saw the great danger I had run.



Very few of the present generation of hunters, I presume, have ever
witnessed a fight between a beaver and an otter. I venture to think
that the narrative of such an event will prove interesting to readers
of _Hunter-Trader-Trapper_, especially as it comes first hand from
the person who saw the fight from the start, and was in at the
finish. It was an unique spectacle of once in thirty-five years of
bush life.

I must digress a little at the start to explain that otters often, in
the autumn, endeavor to find some tenantless beaver lodge situated on
a chain of small lakes. If fortunate to find such, they at once
pre-empt the old lodge and make it their home and headquarters. If
the fish supply is ample in the lakes and small connecting creeks,
they stay there until the snow hardens, and openings occur in the
large rivers and then slide away to new fields, or rather, waterways.
This migration is generally about the 20th of March in our Northern

One day in the latter part of October I portaged my bark canoe over
the divide into another chain of lakes, with the object of
ascertaining if there were any beaver in that section. I came out to
the shore of the lower lake of the string, in a small grassy bay, and
was just in the act of taking the canoe off my head, when out in the
bay, an acre or two from shore, I saw a beaver swimming on the
surface at a high rate of speed. Being yet early in the afternoon I
wondered at this and waited, with the canoe still tilted on my
shoulders. All at once a long, shiny, snaky looking animal broke
water in the wake of the beaver and a short distance behind the
latter, evidently in pursuit.

The beaver was no sooner aware of this than he appeared actually to
stand half out of the water, the next instant he turned and faced his
pursuer. The distance between the two was so short that in a moment
they were fast to each other's throat and then for some minutes
neither could be seen for the churning and splashing of the water. I
took the opportunity while they were thus engaged to unload my canoe
and slip it half way into the lake ready to embark.

After the first fierce fighting impact and deadly grip, when they
appeared pretty well exhausted--the fight going on at times on the
surface--and again both would disappear beneath the waters of the
lake, still locked together with the tenacity of bulldogs. Then they
rose to the top, this time separated, and at some little distance
apart, both plainly much spent. Then they circled about one another,
much in the same way as two boxers sparring. Again a mad rush at each
other, and again the strong jaws of his opponent, and the same scene
was enacted again. I thought it was about time to push out and take a
closer aspect of affairs. The fight was interesting, but the chance
of getting a beaver and an otter, with one shot, far surpassed the
proverbial, "two birds with one stone."

What little breath of wind that ruffled the bay was in my favor, so
with both barrels of my gun cocked leaning against the canoe bar, I
sculled the birch silently but swiftly thru the water unnoticed by
the combatants. When just about to take my gun, "the moment too late"
occurred right then, and they separated as by mutual consent; the
beaver swimming toward the shore and the otter pawing the water in a
blind, dazed sort of a way. The latter being the nearer to the canoe
and the most valuable of the two, I fired and killed him. On the
flash and report of the gun, the beaver dived and I pushed the canoe
in his direction, with the other barrel ready when he should come up.
I had over-shot the place when he had disappeared and waited looking
toward the shore, where I expected he would next come to view.
Minutes passed and no sign, I turned about in the canoe thinking
possibly he had doubled under. Not ten feet from the stern of the
canoe, there was Mr. Beaver, dead without my firing a shot, dead from
his wounds. I pulled him into the canoe and paddled back and picked
up the otter.

After getting ashore and examining them both carefully and again when
skinning them, I found the beaver had died of his terrible wounds and
no doubt the otter was in the last throes of his life also, when I
gave him his quittance. The hair and skin on their bellies were much
scratched and cut up by the sharp, hard claws of their hind feet.
Their necks were one mass of teeth marks, and the jugular veins in
each were pierced. Both would have died of their wounds in a little
while, without the use of the gun, had I withheld my fire for a few
minutes, for they were fast bleeding to death.

I ascertained afterwards that this beaver had been the only one in
the lake; the otter no doubt had driven him out of his house, and not
content with this had pursued him, courting battle. In the fight that
ensued, of which I had been a witness, both had met their death.

  * * *

The sight I witnessed some years ago is so unique that I think it
will prove interesting to the readers of _Forest and Stream_.

I was at the time stationed right in the moose country, having for
its center the great Kipewa Lake. One day toward the end of November,
when, as yet only the bays of the big lake were frozen, I started to
visit some mink traps in my canoe, accompanied by a small little rat
of a dog. It was still open water in the body of the lake, but as I
have said, the bays were frozen a couple of inches thick. There is a
long point of land jutting into the lake. Open water washed the beach
on my side of this; but on the other side was a frozen bay. I landed
about the middle of the point to fix up a mink trap. The little dog
ran up into the timber, and a minute or two after I heard him giving
tongue in a savage manner for so small a beast, and I knew he must
have started up something extraordinary, possibly a bear. I ran down
to the canoe for my gun, and started off in the direction of the
barking, which by that time was becoming more remote. Pushing on, I
came out to the shore on the opposite side of the point. Here I
witnessed a sight never before nor after seen by me during a
residence of over thirty years in the wilds of Canada.

A large cow moose was slipping about on the glare ice trying to make
her way to the other side of the bay. I was so spellbound for a few
moments that I let the opportunity pass to shoot. The ice was so
glare that it was with difficulty the large animal could make headway
at all.

My little dog had now come up with her, and very pluckily nipped her
heels. The huge beast tried to turn in her headway to face the cur.
In doing so, her four feet all slipped at once from under her, and
her great weight coming down so suddenly on the thin ice caused it to
break in fragments, and the moose was in the water.

To get out of that hole with no bottom to spring from was more than
that moose, or any other, could do, but the poor beast did not
realize this, and continued swimming around, and every now and again
getting its front hoofs on the slippery edge, only to fall backward
again into the icy waters.

The dog followed it about the opening, barking continually, but the
moose had more pressing business than to bother with a small dog. I
saw that the creature would never succeed in extracting itself, and
thought to end its misery. From where I stood the distance from the
shore was about two hundred yards. I therefore started to load my gun
(it was before the days of breechloaders), but when I got to the
final of putting on the percussion cap, there was none.

Although I was positively sure the moose would be frozen stiff in
that hole in the morning, the fascination of the sight kept me
standing there on the rocks watching her struggles.

I must have stood there for two full hours, as the sun of the short
November day began to get near the treetops, and a cold, cutting
north wind began to blow.

The poor moose was now swimming about very slowly, and at times
turning up on her side. This told me the end was not far off.

The last look I gave she had part of her head resting on the ice, and
her body was floating on its side. Then I recrossed the point and
paddled home as fast as I could.

Next morning we got a large canoe out of winter quarters, and with my
two men we paddled back to the point, supplied with ropes and axes.
The night had been a cold one, and had increased the thickness of the
ice sufficient for us to walk upon. We cut a couple of long pines, or
levers, and went out to the hole. The head was frozen just in the
position I had last seen it, and this kept the body from sinking. Our
first precaution was to chop the ice away about the carcass and get
ropes about it. Then we got another around the neck and chopped the
head clear.

We dropped it as it was to the shore, and there cut it up in
quarters. All of the breast, neck and front legs were quite useless,
being a mass of conjected blood and bruised flesh, caused by the
moose's contact with the ice. These condemned parts, however, were
not altogether useless, because I used them to bait my traps. Besides
the eatable part of the meat, I got twenty pairs of shoes out of the

  * * *

Just after the above account of the very unusual occurrence was
received, a press dispatch telling of a somewhat similar happening
appeared in the New York newspapers. There is no doubt that accidents
of one sort and another are responsible for the death of large game
much more frequently than we imagine. It is certain also that among
the young of such animals there is a considerable mortality, although
we do not know that any observations on this subject have been
recorded. Every man who has hunted much, however, has probably seen
something of this, and we should be glad to record any such
experiences of this sort which our readers have had. We ourselves
have not infrequently found young deer and antelope that had
evidently died from diseases, and more seldom have seen young elk,
and on two occasions, young mountain sheep, dead, for whose taking
off there seemed to be no reason to be advanced except sickness. It
is well known that on the fur seal islands of the North Pacific and
the Bering Sea, thousands of pups die annually from disease, in
addition to the vastly greater number which starve to death through
the killing of the mothers by pelagic sealing.

The _Sun_ account above referred to reads as follows:

Captains Wisner, Verity and Ira Udall, who have been across the bay
to Fire Island beach, arrived here to-day. They say that two deer,
one a fine large six-year-old buck and the other a doe, had walked
out on the ice and had broken through. They had been unable to get
back to the mainland and were carried with the current. They drifted
across the bay a distance of nearly ten miles and were being taken
out into the ocean when seen by Captains Udall and Verity from the
State wharf east of the lighthouse.

The two men put off in a lifeboat and succeeded in driving the buck
ashore. The doe was almost dead by that time. Every effort was made
to get her ashore and save her life. A rope was fastened around her
body and she was soon on shore, although after no little effort. She
soon, however, died of exhaustion. The buck ran off east on the
beach, but unless its instinct is strong enough to teach it to follow
the beast east to the mainland, seventy miles distant, it will soon
starve, as the sand hills and meadows are now bare of vegetation.



I see by inquiries answered and letters from F. Edgar Brown in an
issue of Hunter-Trader-Trapper that my casual mention of pulling the
heart of the fox in "Reynard Outwitted," has struck a chord of
interest with trappers. As the knack of pulling the hearts of the
smaller animals trapped is worth knowing, and will save the hunter
dirty work in the skinning of the pelts, I will describe the process
as plain as I can.

It is bad enough to skin an animal that has been struggling in a
steel trap, and got the imprisoned leg a mass of congealed blood,
without adding to the disagreeableness of the job crushing in his
head or breaking his back with a pole. This at least can be avoided
by pulling down the heart till the cords snap. In no other way do
Indians, or those who have learned trapping from Indians, kill the
small animals they find alive when visiting their line of traps.
Foxes, martens, minks and rabbits are always killed in this way.
Lynx, of course, is a nasty animal to approach in a trap, still the
Indian trapper never thinks of shooting, or hitting him with a pole.
On the contrary they fix a noosed cord to a young sapling cut for the
purpose, and snare him from the length of the pole; once over his
head they stand on the pole and let him struggle till dead. This
prevents blood from being on the skin. A live bear in a steel trap
must be shot to make "a good bear of him."

But the Indian trapper again uses his judgment and waits till the
first violent struggles are over, and the bear somewhat quiet, then
the hunter takes careful aim and puts a bullet into his ear, being
always at pretty close range. The ball passes clear thru the head,
killing the bear instantly and making a wound that bleeds profusely,
so that when the skinning process takes place, there is no blood in
the body. The skin is cut around the throat, skinned towards the body
and the head left as it is. However, this is digressing from the
subject at issue.

The small animals I have mentioned when caught with snow on the
ground, are simply walked on top of by the hunter's snowshoes; once
he is pinned down so that he cannot move, the trapper slips his left
hand under snowshoes and secures the fox or whatever it is by the
neck with a tight grip of the thumb and fingers. Then the snowshoe is
withdrawn until it holds the hind quarters only; the hand with the
head and neck is elevated until the body is extended to its utmost.

The right hand now feels for the heart just below the bottom rib; it
may not be there at once, but it will come. When the animal feels the
grip tightening on his throat the sense of strangulation causes the
heart to jump down and up in the body in the most violent manner.
This the hunter seizes at one of the downward pumps, catches it
between the thumb and fingers of the right hand; then pulling the
body in one direction and the heart in the other, the heart-strings
snap. The animal gives a convulsive quiver and you chuck him down

Oh yes! it is much better than the brutal way of banging them on the
head with the axe handle or a pole, and much more humane because the
animal is dead at once, almost as quick as if shocked with
electricity. Animals trapped in the late fall, or early snow, cannot
be held by the snowshoe, therefore some other means must be taken. It
does not do to take any risks of being bitten, for animals after
struggling in a trap for some time, become more or less mad,
consequently the venom getting into one's blood might cause a very
bad wound to heal, especially as the man who hunts cannot avoid the
cold getting into the sore, and then should such happen one cannot
foretell what the sequel may be.

To avoid therefore all mishaps the hunter draws his belt axe, and
cuts a forked young birch or alder, the handle part being about four
feet long, at the extremity of which a fork is left with prongs of
five or six inches long.

Presenting this to the trapped beast, he snaps at it; the trapper
watches his chance and deftly slips the fork over his neck and with a
quick downward push, marten, fox or fisher is secured. The left hand
is exchanged for the forked stick, the right foot is placed on his
hind quarters to keep him from clawing, then go for his heart with
the right hand. One trying for the first time may have some little
difficulty, but after a few animals have passed thru his hands he
will as well as I do, know the ART OF PULLING HEARTS.

During my many years as a fur trader, part of the time has been
passed on the frontier where opposition is keen and hunters, both
Indians and whites, are careless in preparing their peltries for
market. As long as they are dried in a way to keep, is all sufficient
for them. Musquash will be simply drawn over a bent willow and dried
in the blazing sun or near the camp fire. The little animal is
hastily skinned and considerable fat is left on the skin, which, by
being subjected to a quick and great heat, penetrates the skin and it
is consequently grease burnt.

The greater number of beaver skins one gets about the Canadian
villages are badly gotten up. This, in a great measure, is due to the
French custom of buying by weights instead of by the skin, the
hunters reasoning that the more meat, grease, flippers, etc., they
can leave on, the greater number of pounds gross.

Mink and otter are the two hardest animals we have to skin clean, and
the majority we get on the frontier go to the London markets in a
shameful state, and must tend towards their decrease in value. I have
seen foxes, minks, martens and musquash as taken crumpled like rags
from the same bag. It was a great wrench for me after handling skins
of every sort positively prime, and as clean as the paper upon which
this is printed, for twenty years to find myself on the frontier
buying such burnt and crumpled skins, as I found was the rule rather
than the exception.

Yes, it was a pleasure to barter the furs hunted by our inland
Indians; every skin was brought to the post hair side in. If the
Indian had a bear, the two flanks were turned in lengthwise of the
skin, then the hide was folded twice, the thick part of the head and
shoulders being brought down on top of all as a protection to the
thinner parts. Large beaver were folded crosswise of the skin twice,
making a kind of portfolio about eighteen inches wide by twenty-eight
to thirty inches long. Small beaver were folded once lengthwise of
the skin, and these came to us as a rule, two placed inside of each
large beaver as they went.

In the interior where the hunters have well defined grounds to trap
on they, by self-interest, protect the beaver and kill comparatively
few young ones. Our average for the whole year would probably be one
small one to two middle or full grown. The martens are tied flat the
whole length of the skins in bundles of ten each, with a thin
splinter of cedar wood on top and bottom to prevent them from being
crumpled in any way. Minks are treated just as carefully. Foxes,
fisher and lynx are folded one crosswise and then placed either
inside of beaver or bear skins. Thus nothing is exposed from an
Indian's pack of furs, either to view or friction, but strong
leather. Musquash, like all other skins except bear and beaver, are
skinned from the head down and each skin is cased, which makes them
clean, flat and nice to handle.

As their hunts are made during the cold months when the animals have
their primest coats, and as every particle of flesh or grease is
frost scraped, the skin lastly washed on the case and then the pelt
dried by the action of frost alone, it can be readily understood with
such care as I have tried to explain, that we get the very finest and
most pleasing skins that go out of the country. The Indian's business
is to hunt and bring the fruits of the chase or traps to his wigwam;
it is his wife and daughters' duty to skin and cure the pelts. The
Indians have the pride and ambition to vie with their sister matrons
of the forest as to who will get up the cleanest, best and "well
prepared skins."



It is not perhaps generally known that the surroundings of most
animals have a primary effect on the color of their hair. Beaver,
otter, mink and musquash are dark or light colored according to the
water they live in. Clear, cold water lakes produce skins of a deep
glossy black, muddy lakes on the other hand, furnishing light colored

Having studied this in my own hunting and trapping, I have often
surprised an Indian when trading his skins by saying: "You trapped
this and this skin in a clear water lake," and he has admitted it as
true. Another peculiar fact in relation to deep, cold water lakes is
that, while the skins they produce are of the finest quality, they
are also much smaller in size than those trapped in brown or muddy
water, and this applies to all the animals I have mentioned.

Musquash killed in clear water lakes are about two-thirds the size of
those trapped in grassy, sluggish rivers, and it is the same with
mink. This rule holds good also with land animals, such as marten,
those living in and resorting to black spruce swamps being invariably
dark colored, whereas those in mixed pine, birch and balsam hills are
larger and lighter in color.

For seven years I trapped on a chain of lakes, five in number. One of
these lay off at one side, not over a quarter of a mile from the
other four; it was of considerable extent, possibly a mile and a half
long by a quarter wide. This lake was very clear and deep, and used
to freeze over two weeks later than the others, and open that much
earlier in the spring.

On the borders of this lake, which was known as "Clear Water Lake,"
were two beaver lodges, which I preserved with the greatest care,
only trapping a few out of each lodge every fall, thus keeping up the
supply, and finer and more beautiful skins I never handled. This
valley being within a few miles of the post, I got the Indian who
owned the lands to make over his rights for a consideration, and I
kept these lakes as a home farm or preserve as long as I remained in
that district.

It was in the upper one of these lakes that I trapped the most
extraordinary beaver of my experience, he having only one hind foot,
the other feet having been gnawed or twisted off in traps. The Indian
owner of the lands, when selling his good will, told me of this
desperate and cunning old animal and I passed many a long, solitary
evening in my canoe to get a shot when the knowing old card broke

I kept two or three traps well set, with a very remote possibility of
his putting his only remaining foot therein. Beaver medicine and
castorum would not allure him, and the thought occurred to me to try
anise seed oil, which I did, and on my next visit had the
satisfaction of pulling him up drowned at the end of the chain. The
wounds of the cut off legs were so thoroughly healed that when I
skinned him there was not even a pucker of the skin in the places
where the legs should have been. It is a marvel how he managed to
navigate the waters of his native pond, but as the boy said, "I don't
know how he did it, but he did."

Another freak that I caught in those same lakes was the only albino
beaver that I ever saw. She had a creamy white fur, with pink eyes,
pink toe nails and pink scales on her tail. This may not have been
phenomenal, but it was a rare skin for all that. At a conservative
estimate I must have handled a couple hundred thousand beaver skins
in my life, but this is the only instance that I ever saw a white

The Clear Water Lake, not to be behind in oddities, produced a dwarf
beaver. I caught him late in the fall in a trap set for musquash, the
other lakes being frozen over. He was about the size of an ordinary
full grown rat, but was fully developed and must have been two years
old. At first I thought he might be of a second litter, but I thought
this was very improbable, if not quite outside of nature, so I
carefully examined the teeth and organs, and found to intents and
purposes he was a full grown beaver.

Writing of full grown beaver puts me in mind of those early trapping
days, and the logic of a certain Indian. Then we used to pay so much
a skin for beaver, and graded the skins as big, middling and small.
In culling this man's skins I threw one into the pile of middling
ones and he immediately said: "That's a big one," and I said it was
not and compared it with several of the large ones. He, however,
stoutly maintained it was a big one and said, "Look at the white men,
there are big ones and small ones, but they are men the same." I
stood corrected and placed the disputed skin with his better grown
and developed relatives, the Indian gave an almost audible smile, and
things went on amicably.

On the watershed between the valley of the St. Lawrence and Hudson's
Bay, marten are prime on the first of October. Beaver, otter and mink
are prime on the 25th of October and fox and lynx the 15th of
November. I have often seen the question asked in the H-T-T as to the
time the several kinds of fur are prime in different localities, and
the above dates can be depended upon for the latitude mentioned.

It pays the trapper to have his trap-houses made and his traps hung
up ready to set and bait immediately when the skins are prime. They
are easily cleaned and command a much higher average, whereas if the
majority of skins in a man's pack are unprimed or staged, it takes
away from the value of the few really few good ones.

The buyer, to get these few merchantable skins, has to put some kind
of value on the culls to make a buy, but in reality the trader is
only paying for the few good ones and the trapper loses the other
skins. And who is to blame? Trappers have been told time and again
that trapping too early in the season is against their best
interests; nevertheless they go blindly on, killing the poor beasts
that have little or no value, and then they marvel at the scarcity of
the fur-bearing animals and the little return they have to show for a
couple of months' hard work.

No. If there is any line that wants protection and a cast iron union
between the men connected with the industry, it is the fur trade. All
are, or ought to be, interested in the keeping up of the supply and
quality, the trapper, wholesale man and manufacturer alike. Let the
last two unite and not buy unprime skins, and the former for want of
a market would very soon hunt in season only.

  * * *

In this northern country fur-bearing animals continue prime much
longer than elsewhere. The trappers and hunters (Indians) only come
down from the interior from the tenth of June, and all the way down
to the end of the month. Thus the month of June is the fur buying

Prior to the Paris Exposition a fair and legitimate trade was
possible, the Indians got a fair and reasonable price for their
skins, and as a rule were reasonably honest. But that year marked the
demoralization of the fur trade on this coast. Opposition became keen
and fur buyers from Quebec, Boston, New York and Paris, came to the
different places of resort of the Indians, bidding up raw furs to
prices out of all reason. The consequence of which were, and are,
that the Indian did not pay his furnisher, but kept up his finest
furs to sell to these parties for high cash prices.

Other traders followed the fur buyers, and sold the Indians useless
trashy articles. The result is the Indians have to leave for the bush
ill supplied with warm clothings, provisions, etc.--what he actually
requires. A large portion of his hunt has been sold for abnormal
prices, but the proceeds has done him no perceptible good. On the
contrary, his lot is much worse than it was before. Seeing his
advances have not been paid, the resident trader will not supply
these men again.

I take about the Post of Seven Islands as perhaps being the place
where the highest prices have been paid for three years, 1899, 1900
and 1901, and give the readers of Hunter-Trader-Trapper the figures.
They are as follows:

  Bears, large, black from    $15.00  to $25.00
  Bears, small, black, from     6.00  to  12.00
  Beaver per lb.                3.50  to   4.50
  Fisher, from                  6.00  to  10.00
  Fox, red, from                3.50  to   5.50
  Fox, cross, from              4.00  to  25.00
  Fox, silver, from           100.00  to 335.00
  Lynx, from                    4.00  to   7.00
  Marten, from                 10.00  to  20.00
  Minks, from                   2.50  to   4.00
  Otters, land, from           15.00  to  22.00
  Wolverine, from               4.00  to   6.00

These are the principal furs we have on the Coast and will show what
absurd prices were paid. We know that furs realized good prices at
the last London sales, and some few, very few, bought were no doubt
well worth these high prices.

The part where the most harm was done the trade was the anxiety of
some of these buyers to get the furs at almost any price. Almost any
kind of a marten would be paid $10 for. Such martens that the writer
of this article has bought a few years ago for $1.25, a very choice
marten, large, dark and well furred, one we will say out of two or
three hundred, such a one as we ordinarily paid $7 for, has brought
$18 to $20. Martens and otters especially, they seem to have gone
perfectly crazy to get.

Two years ago a man, further down the Coast paid $720 for what I was
told was a very ordinary Silver Fox. He went to Paris during the
Exposition with the fox to sell. I never heard if he got his money
back. Had he paid $150, he would have got the fox just the same for
this was the price being paid along the Coast during that year.

The rivers are the highways of the Indians and the mouths of most of
the big ones are the summer camping grounds. At these places are
trading posts where they barter and sell their winter's catch, get
new supplies for another year, and load their canoes again in
September for another nine or ten months in the Far North Wilds.

When the reaction comes, as it must come, it will be pretty hard to
convince the Indians that their martens are only worth $5 or $6. The
bottom is bound to fall out, and many of these men, who are paying
the present prices, must go to the wall. With unlimited money, any
fool can buy skins. But it requires a judge and careful man to buy
with discretion.



During a residence of many years among four different tribes of
Indians, I found, with very few exceptions, they were poor shots,
either with the gun or rifle.

When one considers that from young boyhood they have been in the
habit of using a gun almost daily, and their very living depends, in
great manner, on accurate shooting, their poor marksmanship is to be
wondered at, nevertheless such is the case. A good wing shot is a
rarity among the Indians.

The Montagnais of the Labrador and North Shore of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, are no exception, and this in a country where most of the
wild fowl are killed flying. It is admitted they kill wild geese and
ducks while on their passage north and south, but this is only
possible from the immense numbers of birds and a lavish expenditure
of ammunition.

It is a common thing for an Indian getting his spring outfit to go
among the islands to take from the trader one hundred pounds of shot,
a keg of twenty-five pounds of powder and two thousand five hundred
percussion caps (they use muzzleloaders). They always take about 20
per cent. more caps than are necessary to fire the powder, as they
explain, to make up for what they drop.

The Indians are very partial to loon; but, as a rule, it is the most
expensive food they eat. A great number alight on Lake Ka-ke-bon-ga
on their way north in the spring. This happens about the time the
Indians arrive at the Post to trade their winter catch of furs.

When a poor unfortunate loon would settle on the lake it was the
signal for ten or twenty canoes to put off and shoot or drown him to
death. Far more frequently, I fancy, the poor bird expired from want
of air than weight of shot.

To watch these loon hunts from the gallery of our house was
picturesque in the extreme, the canoes going, some in one direction
as fast as the paddlers could drive them, and then all of a sudden
the cry would ascend that the loon had broken water in quite the
opposite place from where they were confident he would. Then in a
moment, the canoes would be whirled about like tops, and off again in
the new direction, possibly to again find they are at fault.

The wonder to me was there were no casualties, as almost incessant
firing was kept up, with canoes going in several directions at once,
and all on the save level; and when the loon would emerge, bang!
would go several guns, regardless where pointed, in the excitement.

I call to memory one day in particular. At the call of "loon!" I took
a seat on the gallery, with the fixed resolve to count how many shots
would be fired, and this is the result of my tab.

Twelve canoes put off from the camps, four hours consumed in the
killing, and ninety-six shots were fired.

This happened nearly forty years ago, when powder sold, at that
inland post, at a dollar a pound; shot, thirty-three cents, and gun
caps a half a cent each, so the reader can readily see that loon
meat, under that way of hunting, was expensive.

We read of and are told about the great slaughter the Indians used to
make among the buffalo in the good old days; but this success was not
to be attributed to their good marksmanship, because they killed
these noble beasts with their guns almost "boute touchant."

One thing about their mode of loading and firing might be interesting
to readers of the present day, inasmuch as a generation has been born
and has grown up since the last buffalo roamed the plains.

The Indians and half-breeds who went on these periodical round-ups
were armed with and preferred the old nor-west muzzle-loading
flint-lock. They could load and fire with such rapidity that one
would almost fancy they carried a repeating gun. Suspended under
their right arm by a deer thong, was a common cow's horn of powder,
and in a pouch at their belt a handful or two of bullets.

As the horse galloped up to the herd, the Indian would pour a charge
of powder into his left hand, transfer it into the barrel of the gun,
give the butt a pound on the saddle, and out of his mouth drop on top
a bullet. As the lead rolled down the barrel it carried in its wet
state particles of powder that stuck on the sides, and settled on top
of the powder charge. No rod or ramming was used.

The gun was carried muzzle up, resting on the hollow of left arm
until such time as the Indian desired to fire. The quarry being so
close no aim was required. On deflecting the barrel the trigger was
pulled before the ball had time to roll clear of the powder.

The Indians saw that their buffalo guns had very large touch-holes,
thereby assuring the pan being primed. When all the balls were fired
a few others were chuked into the mouth, and merrily went the game.

No! The Indians are not good shots.



The bear has one trait especially that is most dangerous to the
uneducated hunter, and that is when found swimming a lake or river he
invariably goes in a straight line from where he left the shore. Any
obstacle in the way he clambers over, be it a log, boat or canoe.

Should the place where he reaches the further shore be a high rocky
bluff, he climbs this, rather than turn from his direct course. This
may be pigheadedness or stupidity; be it as it may, he will not turn
to a low-shelving beach a few yards at one side, but it never enters
his head to take the easier landing.

I once saw a bear swimming across near the discharge of a lake. There
was a string of booms hanging down stream near the other shore and at
right angles to where he was heading. He simply clambered over the
boom logs and took the water again on the other side, instead of
trotting along the boom to the shore.

I was acquainted with an old Indian, who, knowing this trait of bears
to land where they head for, did a deed of great nerve for a man of
over sixty. He was visiting his fish net on the shore of a narrow
lake, when he saw a large bear enter the water on the opposite side a
little above, and head for the shore the old man was on. Old Pete had
no gun, but he did not hesitate a moment, but caught up his hunting
ax, and ran along shore to where the bear would land. The old man was
plainly visible to the bear from the first, but Bruin kept on his
direct course. Old Pete waded out from the shore nearly to his waist
with ax unlifted, and waited. Everything depended on striking true,
and at the proper and precise moment. He had the bear, it is true, at
a disadvantage. Still, many a younger and stronger man would have
declined the risk.

Pete was successful; he buried the ax clean into the skull the first

Another instance I witnessed of a bear not turning aside for any
obstacle: We were later than usual one evening on the water; my men
were anxious to get to the portage before camping, and were tracking
the canoe up the last mile at deep dusk. There were four men on the
line ashore, and the bow and steersmen standing up in the canoe
fending her off the rocks and shallows. My companion and I were
sitting very quietly in the middle compartment of our large canoe;
the men also were not in a talking mood, being tired and hungry. I
was sitting on the side next the river and noticed a black object
which at first I mistook for a stone, partly out of the water; but
with a second, and more searching look, I made it out to be a bear
coming straight toward the canoe.

I gave warning to the man in the bow, who stood a few feet in front
of me, and he immediately gave a sharp tug on the tow line, which
checked the men ashore. The bear by this time was about five or six
yards from the canoe, and just opposite me. I saw that nothing would
now stop him from climbing into and across the canoe. Before he could
place his paw on the side of the bark the man in the bow made a
savage lunge at him with his pike pole, but before he could give a
second blow the bear was in on my side and out on the other, right
across our legs. Our men of the tow had run back, the man in the
stern being too far off to be of any use, had the presence of mind to
throw an armful of paddles, which being of maple, made formidable
weapons. When the bear got out on the shore side they rained blows
upon blows with the sharp blades of the paddles upon his head and
body as they could get a chance. The bow man sprang ashore and lent
his assistance with his formidable pole, but marvelous as it may
sound, the bear escaped into the bush in spite of all that his
assailants could do to prevent him.

Long into the night about the dying embers of the camp-fire, I heard
the men going over the whole scene and blaming one another for not
having done something they ought to have done.

One other instance I will give of a bear's persistency to go straight
in the water, and in this case it was fatal to two men.

Two newly married couples left the mouth of the Moisie for the
interior. Their third day up stream brought them to a place where,
off to one side in the bush about a mile back, was a noted lake for
trout and whitefish. It was decided that they should portage one
canoe, and with their blankets, net and cooking utensils go and pass
the night on the lake shore. One gun was all the men took (a
flintlock--for this was years ago). Shortly after arriving at the
lake a bear was seen swimming from the other side, coming toward
where the Indians were tying their net. The two young men jumped into
the canoe and pushed out to meet him, which was a fatal mistake. The
man in the bow waited till the bear was within a couple of yards off
from the bow, and then pulled the trigger. The old gun flashed in the
pan, but there was no report. The next instant the bear clambered
over the head of the canoe and rolled the occupants into the water.
The young brides of a few days ran screaming along shore, unable to
render any assistance to their husbands, and actually witnessed both
drown before their very eyes.

I remember the arrival of the two poor women back to the coast, and
the relation of their pathetic story. To make the case much more
remarkable, they were twins by birth, and twin widows by this

A word of advice after the foregoing illustrations of the danger of
getting in front of a swimming bear is hardly now necessary, but one
cannot impress too forcibly the danger in attacking a bear by a
frontal move. Always approach a bear in the water either on one side
or from the rear. You can paddle up quite close to a bear in the
direction he is swimming without the least particle of danger, and a
more vital and telling spot to fire at cannot be got than the back
and base of the skull.



Calling the pike the fresh water shark is a name well applied, for he
is bold and anything that comes his way is food for his maw. It is a
known fact to those who have studied its habits that he will eat
frogs, young ducks, musquash, in fact, anything that happens to be in
front of him, not even barring his own offspring. How destructive
they are in a trout or whitefish lake is well known.

One of the lakes on which I was stationed years ago was said to have
been, formerly, good for whitefish, but was now almost nude of this
staple food of the dwellers at the post, brought about by the
increasing number of pike.

As I was likely to be in charge, for a few years at least, I set to
work to destroy these marauders. The lake is only a mile and a half
long by a quarter broad. It discharges into a large river by a
shallow creek, but, by this creek, no doubt, many pike were added to
the number at each spawning time.

The creek took my attention first, and we staked it from side to side
with pickets six feet high and planted them about two inches apart.

At the back or river side of this barrier we kept some old, almost
useless, nets set continuously. They were doubled so that no small
sized pike could pass. This was done during the low water in August.

My next move was to employ every boy, girl and old woman about the
post trolling for pike. We supplied them with the trolls and lines
and paid them a cent apiece for every pike over a foot long.

During this trolling process we kept some nets of large mesh, set
purposely for the bigger ones. For days and weeks there must have
been landed on an average a hundred a day, and yet they came.

As most of the pay was taken out in cheap "bullseyes" at a cent
apiece, the real outlay in money was not considerable.

The following spring we inaugurated another system of warfare against
the pests, and that was by paddling quietly around the bays and
shooting them while they lay spawning and basking in the sun and
shallow water.

Often three or four would be clustered together. A shot would not
kill the whole, but it would stun them so we could finish them with
the paddle.

One that was killed in this way measured thirty-nine inches long and
weighed thirty-five pounds. A fish of this size was good eating, and
therefore used at the post.

The small, slimy ones, however, were burned in numbers on a brush

With such persistent and continued onslaught on our part, at the end
of the first year their numbers were very noticeably decreased, and
at the close of the following summer they were positively scarce, and
a very welcome number of whitefish stocked our lake in their place.

I resided at that post for twelve years, and we were never in want of
the finest fish for the post's consumption.

Before closing this sketch I must tell one anecdote about a pike,
even if I lay myself open to be disbelieved by the reader. I am well
aware that fish stories stand in bad repute and the veracity of the
narrator doubted. The following is positively true and came under my

Years before the foregoing part of my story happened I was stationed
on the height of land north of Lake Superior, and one afternoon
portaged my canoe over into a small chain of beaver lakes hunting for

It was a "still, calm day," as some high-flown writer would put it.

A feather dropped would have fallen straight to the earth.

I was paddling very quietly out into the lake from the portage when I
noticed something moving very gently on the surface a few yards ahead
of the canoe. Getting closer I made this out to be the fin of some
fish moving sluggishly. Pushing the canoe further in advance with
noiseless knife strokes of the paddle, I got close enough to see it
was a pike with a whitefish half protruding from its mouth and almost
dead from suffocation.

This, I thought, is a rare occurrence for a person to witness, and
gently reaching out my hand I inserted my thumb and finger into the
eye sockets and lifted both into the canoe.

On getting ashore at the next portage I forced open the jaws of the
pike, and the whitefish dropped from them. The half that had been
inside the pike's mouth was quite decomposed, while the part out in
the water was comparatively fresh.

In trying to swallow this fish, which was two-thirds the pike's own
length, he had distended his jaws to the utmost, but they only opened
enough to reach near the back fin, and here fixing his teeth in
savage fury the biter had bitten more than he could eat. He was
equally unable to disgorge himself as he was incapable of swallowing,
and thus by his greediness he brought on his doom.

Noticing his stomach was in a distended shape caused me to rip it
open with my knife, and out tumbled the remains of a smaller
whitefish, almost quite digested, which had been swallowed whole and
would have measured nearly a foot long.

It was gluttony and not hunger that caused him to reach an untimely
end, a moral for greedy little boys.



The whistler, whistle-wing, great head, garrot or brass-eyed is one
of the few ducks that, to my knowledge, builds its nest in trees.

The Indians, who are noted for giving appropriate names, call this
duck "arrow duck," on account of its quick passage through the air.
They fly very swiftly, and it is only an expert gunner that can bring
them down in succession.

I once had the rare opportunity of watching the doings of a female
brass-eyed from the building of the nest to the time she placed the
young ones on the waters of the lake. To watch the industrious little
builder was a most interesting pastime and afforded me much pleasure.
The tree selected was not, as one would suppose, immediately on the
shore, but a bit back in the thick growth. Properly speaking, the
tree was a stump, although a strong live one grew rubbing sides with
it. The stump was on the south side of the green one, and thus
protected from the north, and was about twenty feet in height.

On examination shortly after the duck began to lay, I found that the
concave top had been lined with dead leaves, hay, clay and small
sticks. After this one peep in at the architecture and the couple of
eggs therein, I refrained from approaching the stump again, but
continued my observations from a distance.

When the duck took to steady setting I could just see her head and
bill over the edge of the nest. Regularly each evening during the
period of incubation she would fly out onto the lake to feed, drink
and plume herself. These absences from her duty lasted from twenty
minutes to half an hour.

When the young were hatched I kept a strict and steady watch on her
movements for the thought occurred to me, "How would they get to the
ground?" But, like a good many other things, this riddle of the
forest was made clear to me one evening near sundown.

I sat motionless in my canoe a little to one side of the direction of
the stump. The lake was as calm as oil, and in a little while, after
taking up my position, out flew the mother in a slanting way to the
water, and hanging from her bill was one of the young ducks. This she
quickly deposited on the lake and flew back to the nest, and made
trips to and fro, until she had brought the whole of her brood which
numbered seven.

A hen is a proud mother even with one chick; well this was a
transported one with seven. She swam through the midst of them,
around them, away from them and toward them, exhibiting the utmost
delight. Finally she led them in toward the shore, the shadows of the
woods shutting them out from further observation. While daily
visiting my nets about the lake, I often encountered the brood, or
saw them at a short distance and they continued to interest me.

One day the number of ducklings appeared fewer than ought to be and
on counting them I found there were only five. Next day this was
reduced to four, and a few days after, when next I saw them, there
remained only three. However, the mystery of their disappearance was
made clear to me on that same day, for while trolling past the ducks'
feeding grounds a big maskinonge struck the hooks savagely.

Being alone in the frail and small canoe I had the utmost difficulty
to successfully play and kill him, but was amply paid, for on
cleaning the big fish we found in its maw one of my young ducks.

Thus was their mysterious disappearance explained, this, or some
other large fish, was accountable for the brood's diminution.

While on the subject of the brass-eye I would wish to set the reader
right in regard to the whistling noise they make, that is the male.
The author of "Wild Fowl and Their Habits" asserts that this noise is
made by their short sharp wings cutting the air in rapid flight. Were
this the case the female would make the same sound, but no one ever
heard this whistling from a lone female or a number of females.

It is from the male we get this; not from the wings, however, but
from a gristly sac attached at the end of the wind-pipe, much the
shape of the bag of the bag-pipes. From this he emits several
different kinds of sounds, as I have often listened to when
approaching a flock on a calm moonlight night in the mating season.

Another erroneous assertion by the same author is that the flesh is
rank, fishy and hard. The old ones are, more or less so, on their
first arrival inland in the spring. At the sea, as a necessity, they
live on fish, but a month after reaching inland waters, where they
feed on marine plants and roots, the color of the flesh changes. It
also becomes juicy and is as good eating as black duck or teal.

The young ones, when full fledged, just before migrating to the sea
for the winter, are excellent.

The French-Canadians call this duck the diver and the half-breeds of
Hudson Bay the pork duck.

All the tricks of hiding attributed to this duck by Netlje Blanchan,
author of the book from which I have taken the several names under
which the duck is known to American readers, are quite true, and also
other devices not enumerated. For instance, when wounded I have known
it to dive and come up within a few yards of my canoe with its head
under a water-lily leaf and there remain, quite motionless, until I
noticed the center elevation of this single leaf and fired at a
venture with the result that I killed the duck.

On another occasion I noticed a wounded brass-eye making toward the
shore in very shallow water. The formation of the banks was such that
it was impossible for it to land and hide. Nevertheless, toward that
shore it had dived, and never appeared above water. Pushing the canoe
quietly along with my gun ready in the other hand, I scanned every
inch as I went. Along the beach there was a solution of mud almost as
light as the water. The duck had passed under this and came to the
shore in about five inches of water showing nothing but its bill on
the beach, the entire body being covered with mud, the exact
counterpart of that about it.

Although my canoe was within six feet of the bird, it never moved,
and it was only by the closest scrutiny that I detected its presence.

With a good silent dog playing in front of a blind these ducks in the
early spring will come within short range, as will the black duck and
gray goose. They have keen eyesight and will work in from a quarter
of a mile to investigate the dog. The dog of best color to attract
ducks is yellow or yellow and white. A pure white is better than a
dark colored, which latter only appears to scare them away.

[This is an interesting contribution, for it brings up a number of
points about which there has been more or less controversy in the
past, and one at least which is new to us. That Mr. Hunter's duck
brought her young to the water in her bill is interesting and agrees
with statements made years ago in _Forest and Stream_ by Mr. George
A. Boardman, who quoted a Canadian informant as stating that the old
birds brought their young from the nests to the water, carrying them
in their bills, but that to transport the young for a longer
distance, the birds carried the young pressed to the body by the
feet, a description which is not altogether clear.

Mr. Hunter declares that the whistling noise made by the brass-eye
does not come from the wings and that this noise is never made by the
female, in this his opinion differs from that of many other writers.
In his belief the labyrinth--an enlargement of the wind-pipe found in
the male of most ducks and but seldom in the female--explains the
whistling sound so commonly heard when these birds fly near us.

Food notoriously gives flavor to the flesh of ducks as well as other
animals. On the sea coast, where it feeds on fish and perhaps shell
fish, the flesh of the brass-eye or golden-wing is notoriously bad,
but like Mr. Hunter, other authors have declared that inland the bird
is excellent eating.

The observation of the destruction of the brood by the maskinonge is
worth recording. Pike, pickerel, maskinonge and snapping turtles are
notorious enemies of young duck.]



I questioned a couple of hunters (brothers) this summer, as to the
results of their hunting adventures of the past season, and as I
wanted to find out their positive net gains, I got the following
figures from them.

They are just fairly good trappers and their success is about what
two industrious men could do who had a knowledge of trapping. Their
work was in two spells. Three months in the fall and early winter and
a month and a half in spring.

The provisions they took inland for the three months (ascending one
of the North Shore rivers) was the following with costs given: 160
lbs. pork, $20.00; 20 lbs. butter, $3.00; 360 lbs. flour, $6.40; 6
lbs. tea, $2.10; 24 lbs. sugar, $1.20; 2 lbs. soda, 10 cts.; salt and
pepper, 20 cts.; $33.00.

Their canoe was pretty well laden when they left the coast, inasmuch
as besides the foregoing gross weight of provisions their outfit of
tent, axes, pots, kettles, guns, tracking line, poling irons, four
dozen No. 1 traps, half dozen No. 3 and a quarter dozen No. 5 bear
had to be added to the load, bringing the total weight approximately
up to seven hundred and fifty pounds.

Even when a canoe is loaded and, at times, overloaded, yet there are
a number of incidentals that have to be taken along, things that
weigh and are bulky, yet are not considered in the estimate. For
illustration these men had yet to load a pair and a half of blankets,
two pairs snowshoes, a bag of extra moccasins, socks, duffle, warm
underclothes, extra trousers, coats, mits and a hundred and one other
things which men penetrating the wilderness for several months may

In an expedition like this one must not think only of things
necessary, but also things that may be required when a man is two or
three hundred miles away from civilization and cuts his leg. He has
no drug store to get plaster from. A full list of all a couple of
prudent men have to take with them is quite interesting.

To resume,--these men left on the 10th of October and got back to the
coast (on foot) the 12th of January, being absent almost exactly 3
months. They cached their traps, canoe and surplus things inland
ready for the spring hunt.

After spending a fortnight with their families cutting wood and
choring about their abodes they then went to work in the lumber camps
for February and March. On April 15th they made a start for the
interior once more, this time each hauling a flat sled loaded in
equal weight with the following provisions: 80 lbs. pork, $10.00; 10
lbs. butter, $1.50; 180 lbs. flour, $3.20; 3 lbs. tea, $1.05; 12 lbs.
sugar, 60 cts; 1 lb. soda, 5 cts.; salt and pepper, 10 cts; $16.50.

With their other things this made a dead weight of about one hundred
and eighty pounds per sled. On mixed ice and bush walking at the
season when the snow is crusted a man will average, with such a load,
twenty-five or thirty miles a day.

There are many hunters that are quite superstitious about parting
with a single skin until the hunting or trapping season is over and
then the whole collection is sold 'en-blac.' Other hunters again will
sell their fall hunts less a skin. This reserved skin may be only a
musquash. They keep this, as they say, to draw other skins when next
they go trapping. The men I am writing about had no necessity to sell
in the winter, and therefore kept all till the spring. The
commencement of June is still considered spring in the North country.

The total catch and the prices realized are as follows: 38 martens at
$10, $380; 10 mink at $2.50, $25; 1 beaver, $7; 2 bears at $7, $14; 3
bears at $20, $60; 4 fishers at $7, $28; 1 otter, $15; 120 musquash
at 15c, $18; amount $547.00.


By total hunt, $547.00; to provisions, $49.50; sundries, 70 cts; 2
men's net earnings for 135 days at $1.84 equals $496.80.

The amount per diem clear to each of the brothers may not appear to
the reader as very remunerative, yet compared to working in the
shanties they did much better. The wages for good axe men last winter
were from eighteen to twenty dollars per month.

Compared with the same length of time working in the lumber camps the
figures would stand thus: 4 1/2 months lumbering at average wages of
$22 equals $99; 4 1/2 months trapping, $248.40. In favor of trapping,
say in round figures $150.00.

I submit the foregoing to the readers of H-T-T, hoping it may prove

  * * *

It is no doubt ancient history, still it may be interesting to the
readers to know the large hunts made by some of our Indians in the
latter '60's. Referring to a note book kept in those days I find the
hunt of one particular Indian recorded. His name was A-ta-so-kan--the
only help he had, a boy of twelve.

This family left the Post in August and only returned the following
June. His hunting grounds were just across the heights of lands going
towards Hudson's Bay, from the headwaters of the Ottawa River. Game
of all description was very plentiful then; so much so that,
providing an Indian had a few pounds of flour and lard to get away
from the vicinity of the station, his guns nets and snares kept him
in abundance. A-ta-so-kan, altho having several children besides the
boy took only fifty pounds of flour, ten pounds of lard, one pound of
tea, and ten pounds of tobacco. Goods, however, he supplied himself
well with--such as many of various bright-colored flannels, yards of
duffle, yards of H. B. strouds, both blue and white, and several
pairs of H. B. wool blankets. These people were brought up on country
produce: i. e., fish and flesh, therefore found it no hardship to be
without flour, etc.,--the white man's food. From that one man and his
young boy I got at the end of the hunting season (first of June) the
following furs:

  96 Large Beaver Skins.
  226 Small Beaver Skins.
  32 Otters.
  120 Martens.
  35 Minks.
  40 Lynxes.
  1236 Musquash.

Making altogether four of our eighty pound packs of furs. This, of
course, was an exceptional hunt--still we had several other Indians
who ran A-ta-so-kan a close second.

What a difference in the stretching and drying of that man's skins,
compared with those we get on the frontier. Each skin, apart from the
musquash, was as clean as note paper, all killed in season and all
dried in the frost or shade. On the line of civilization there is
such keen competition among the traders to get furs, that the hunters
stretch and dry the skins in any way. Beaver, for instance, which is
bought by the pound, is frequently weighted with syrup, and sand
rubbed into the hair and paws, and considerable flesh left on, all
tells when three or four dollars a pound is paid.

The Abanakis Indians about St. Francis Lake, St. Peter, are noted for
their tricks of the trade, and when you get a blue-eyed Abanakis,
look out to be cheated. I call to mind on the St. Maurice River, when
stationed there, one of these gents brought furs to sell at our Post.
Among the lot was a beaver skin. According to its size, if well
dressed, it ought to have weighed a pound and a half, or three
quarters at most. Judge of my surprise when I found it tipped the
scales at two and half pounds. This was phenomenal and uncanny, and I
remarked to the hunter, that we would leave the skins in the store
until after dinner before closing the trade.

During the mid-day hour I slipped out and examined the skin
critically, and found the rascal had flinched up layers of the inner
skin or "cutem," and had inserted small sheets of tea-chest lead,
after which he had pressed the skin down flat and dried it in this
state. This was insult added to injury, because about a month
previous he had begged the lead from me to make bullets with. Verily
there are more tricks with horses and furs than meets the eye.



I say for safety, successful hunting, and division of the many
necessary labors, when the hunting or trapping day is over, a proper
partner is necessary. I am aware many old hunters have passed years
quite alone in the solitude of the trackless forests and the valleys
of the mountain ranges, but what a life! What risks they have run!
Some may have led this life from choice or from greed to possess the
whole proceeds of the trapping season; still it is a life no man
should lead.

Sickness rarely overtakes a trapper; the outdoor life they practice
is conducing to good health; continual exercise and fresh air
engender a good appetite, but there is always the risk of accident,
accident in many ways. The guns, the axe, the canoe, breaking through
the ice, or even getting caught in one of his own traps; in fact by
the last mentioned source of danger I have known two men to lose
their lives in a most horrible way of torture and agony, and these
men were not novices at the business; one was a middle-aged
half-breed, born and brought up to trapping, and the other was an old
Nova Scotian who had trapped and hunted for forty years and yet he
died in a bear trap.

Man was not intended to live alone, and a trapper who passes the best
part of his life far away from his fellow man becomes selfish,
crabbed and morose. No matter how successful he may have been in his
hunting years, when old age comes on, his last moments are generally
passed alone in some miserable shanty, covered with dirty and musty
old clothes and blankets, no one to pass him a drink of water or wipe
the death sweat from his brow, or else some good person on the fringe
of civilization, partly from charity or necessity, takes in the
broken old hulk and keeps him until the end. A grave somewhere
outside the fence is pointed out as where "Old Pierre," the trapper,
is buried. I have several such resting places in my mind as I pen
these lines.

No, I maintain a companion in hunting and trapping is a necessity in
many ways. In selecting one they should be alike in only two
points--age and honesty. If the head of the partnership is short,
stout and of a phlegmatic nature, his chum ought to be say five feet
ten inches high, weigh one hundred and fifty pounds, of a nervous
energetic nature and cheerful. Two such men are most likely to get
along well together.

Animals don't come to the camp door and ask to be skinned. On the
contrary trapping, to do it right, is hard work and when the real
day's work of tramping through swamps and over mountains setting
traps is done there is yet much work for the cold, wet and hungry men
to do at the camp; cutting and carrying the night's fire wood,
cooking their supper, drying their clothes for the morrow, patching
broken moccasins and skinning and stretching pelts they may have
secured that day. With a good pard these labors are, of course,
divided, and each cheerfully and silently takes his share.

There is nothing I have enumerated but what has to be done every
night. A trapper returns to his camp, and if he has to make a new
camp at the end of his trail so much more and harder is the work, and
the poor old trapper without a companion must, of necessity, perform
all these duties alone, the completion of which takes him far into
the night. Brother trappers, I know whereof I write. I have tried
both and I say for division of labor, for good comradeship and for
positive safety select and join fortune with "A Good Pard."

To illustrate, I give one of my own experiences: I reached my camp
once at dark in February, utterly tired out, wet by the melting snow
on my clothes, and a fast that had not been broken at noon. There
were a few burnt sticks in the fireplace (a lean to camp), these I
raked together and started a blaze. With my excessive fatigue and the
warmth of the fire, I fell asleep as I leaned for what I thought was
a moment, against a stump in the camp. It was a dispensation of
Providence that I ever awoke, but I did, far into that February
night. On waking I realized in a moment the narrow escape that I had
had. The great trees of the forest were cracking all about me with
the intensity of the cold. My wet clothes were sticking to me as if
of ice, but my brain was clear and I knew no time was to be lost in
my self-preservation.

After tramping about and beating my body for some time to create
circulation, I was rewarded by feeling my blood flow once more in a
natural way. The last quarter of the moon shed what light it could
over the tree tops and I strapped on my snowshoes and went to work at
chopping wood to last till morning. A good cup of tea, some biscuit
and pork and the then bright and cheerful fire made me my old self,
but I received a lesson never to be forgotten.



When we had come to anchor in Trinity Bay and all the sails were
safely stowed, the captain of our yacht proposed we should go ashore
and see the celebrated Comeau _fils_.

Bob, my companion asked, "Celebrated for what?"

"Oh! for several things," replied the captain. "He is a most
extraordinary man in his many acquirements and knowledge. Born and
brought up on this coast, he has passed all his life here, with the
exception of the three years his father was able to send him to
school, but those three years he made use of to lay the foundation of
a wonderful store of practical knowledge. His schooling, as I have
said, was but the foundation; by reading and observation he has added
to it in a marvelous way.

"From his early training and the life of every one on the coast, it
would go without saying that he knows how to shoot, but he is more
than a good shot, he is a 'deadly' shot. Anything he aims his gun at
that is within shooting distance is dead. As a salmon fisher, no
crack angler who visits these rivers can hope to compete with him.

"As a linguist he can speak, read and write in French, English, Latin
and Indian; besides this, he can talk rapidly in the dumb alphabet.
He holds the position of telegraph operator at Trinity, also of
postmaster and fishery overseer, and besides, when anything goes
wrong with the line for two hundred miles east or west, the
department immediately wires him to go and fix them up.

"He has more than a fair knowledge of medicine for one who derived
all his insight from reading alone. Last summer there was an epidemic
of measles all along the coast, among both whites and Indians. Here,
with a population of 150, two-thirds of whom were down Comeau, who
attended them, did not lose one patient, while at Bersimis, where the
department sent a full-fledged M. D., there were thirty-nine burials
out of a population of 450.

"You may be sure the poor people all along the coast love him."

So the boat was lowered away, and the Captain, Bob and I were rowed
ashore to see this paragon. From the outside look of the place I
could see the man was one of good taste and orderly. The knock at the
door was answered by Comeau himself. The Captain was personally
acquainted with him and introduced us before we entered. I must say I
was disappointed. One always is when he has pictured a person in his
mind's eye and finds that in reality he is quite a different kind of

I had looked for Comeau to be a large man and a boisterous one from
his position of superiority over others. On the contrary, I found him
below the medium, a quiet, low-voiced man, reserved almost to
shyness. I saw at once he was a great observer, one who would make
deductions from specks invisible to ordinary people; or, in other
words, he could put two and two together and dovetail them better
than most men.

We were ushered into a large, clean, airy room, in the middle of
which sat a very good looking lady in a roomy rocker, with a child on
each knee. If Comeau himself is reserved and not inclined to talk,
his wife can do enough for both. She excused herself for not rising
when her husband introduced us. Nodding down at her babies, she said,
"You see I am fixed." One could see she is a proud mother--they are
twins; this she told us before we were well seated, and she further
informed us that they were the only twins on the Labrador. So she is
celebrated also.

When we got fairly settled in Comeau's den, the conversation
naturally drifted into hunting and fishing. Bob made some inquiries
about the pools on the Trinity. To make his explanations clear,
Comeau pulled out a drawer of photographic views of the river. In
rummaging these over, he cast aside a gold medal. "Excuse me," I
said, reaching over and taking up the medal. On it I read engraved:


Upon my asking him to recount the circumstances, he blushed and
looked quite confused, and said: "Oh! it was nothing worth speaking
of, but I suppose people talked so much about it that they gave me
that token. It was nothing more than any man would have done," and
this was all we could get from him unless we had carried persistency
to an ungentlemanly degree.

After having spent a very pleasant hour, we returned on board, and
the Captain told us the story that the hero himself would not:

Two years before, one day in January Comeau arrived home from the
back country to find that two men had that day while seal hunting off
shore been driven off the coast toward the ice pack in the gulf. One
of the men was Comeau's own brother-in-law, and the other a
half-breed. In spite of the supplications of his wife and the
persuasions of the other individuals of the place, Comeau set about
preparations to follow them out to sea. He asked no one to accompany

The wind all the afternoon had been steadily off shore and was now
moderately calm. He took with him some restoratives, provisions, a
lantern, a couple of blankets, his rifle and ammunition and what else
useful he could think of in his hurry. The ice pack was then about
ten miles off the land, and he reasoned the men must be on the ice,
if large and strong enough, or in among it if in small cakes, the
latter being much more dangerous.

From Trinity to Matane in a direct line the distance is forty-five
miles, and to push out in a frail, wooden canoe alone and the
darkness coming on in the black gulf in mid-winter required a brave
man with extraordinary nerve to dare it, and this Comeau did.

Three minutes after pushing out from the beach, canoe and man were
swallowed up in the darkness. The next the people of Trinity heard of
him was a telegraphic message on the second day after. It read:
"Matane. All three alive. Joseph, hands frozen; Simon, both feet
frozen badly."

This message was to his family, but the Matane people sent a much
longer one to the government, giving the facts, describing the
hardships these men had come through, and a special train was sent
down with the best surgeon from Quebec. On the surgeon's arrival at
Matane a consultation was held with the county practitioner, when it
was decided that the man Joseph would have to lose two fingers on
each hand and Simon both feet.

The amputation was successfully carried out next day, and shortly
after, when Comeau saw both men well on to recovery, he started for
his home, not, however, by the way he had come, but up to Quebec by
the south shore and down the north shore from Quebec, a distance of
nearly 700 miles. The last hundred he made on snowshoes.

The Captain told us that the description of this very venturesome
trip he had heard from Comeau's own brother as the elder one had
described it in the heart of his own family. He had reached the ice
pack, to the best of his judgment, about fifteen miles from the land,
and had remained on his oars and hallowed once or twice without
receiving an answer. He suddenly bethought himself of the lantern.
This he lit and lashed to the blade of one of his oars, and erected
it aloft. Immediately a faint cry was heard to the eastward, and he
lowered his light and pulled away in the direction whence the call
appeared to come. After rowing for a short time the lantern was waved
above again, and this time an answering shout came from close at

The two poor fellows were some distance in the pack, and had got on
the largest cake they could find. They were sitting there helpless,
holding on each by one hand to the rough surface of the ice, and with
the other to their canoe to keep it from being washed off.

By the aid of the lantern held aloft, Comeau saw there was a much
larger cake of ice some distance further in the pack. To this they
made their way with laborious trouble. Pushing one canoe as far ahead
among the ice as possible, they would all three get into this, shove
the other in advance in the same way, and so repeating the process
till they reached the solid field. Once safely on this, for the
meantime, secure place, food was partaken of and daylight waited for.

Soon, however, the intense cold began to make itself felt, and
drowsiness was fast taking hold of the two men, and their great wish
was to be left alone and allowed to sleep. This Comeau knew if
indulged meant death, and it took all his efforts to keep them awake
and moving about. Once while attending to the half-breed, his
brother-in-law dropped down and was fast asleep in an instant. Comeau
boxed him, kicked him, without having the desired effect of rousing
him from his stupor. At last he bethought him of what an old Indian
had done to him under somewhat similar circumstances. He caught the
man's nose between the thumb and finger and tweaked it severely. This
brought him to his feet and mad to fight.

Day was now breaking, and they could see the south shore at a
computed distance of ten miles. Comeau also saw that the ice pack was
drifting steadily east, and this, if they remained on the ice, would
carry them past Cap Chat, the most northern point of the south coast,
and this meant death to a certainty.

A rapid train of thought went through Comeau's brain. He decided that
if saved they were to be, it must be by passing over that ten miles
of moving, grinding ice. He forced some food on the others and gave
each a small dram of spirits; how much rather would he have given
them tea or coffee. But even if he had had it, water was wanting to
make it. They abandoned the roll of blankets, which had been of no
use to them, and started, using the canoes see-saw fashion as they
had done the night before. They left the cake of ice upon which they
had passed the night at 8 A. M. and only got ashore at the extreme
point of Cap Chat at daylight next morning. At times they would come
across narrow lanes of water, but these lanes always ran at right
angles to the direction in which they were going. Several times, when
stepping upon what was considered a strong piece of ice, one of the
party would be immersed in the cold, cruel water, and be rescued with
great trouble and danger to the others.

What a picture of heartfelt prayer offering it must have been, to
have seen those men kneeling on the ice-bound shore, pouring out
their thanks to the ever-watchful Almighty who had brought them
safely through such dangers.

  * * *

Bob, who had taken down the Captain's narrative in shorthand, gave me
his notes, and I give the story of adventure and heroism to the

Comeau is well known by most of the members of the Forest and Stream
clubs of New York and Montreal.



I read in one of the May issues of _Forest and Stream_ of a dog that
joined a band of wolves and became as savage and fleet of foot as the
best of them, and brought to my mind a circumstance that came under
my own observation, of a pair of steers that threw off all trammels
of restraint and took to the bush.

I think it is worth recording, for it shows that even horned cattle
brought up with care, and fed at regular intervals can support
themselves, even through the rigor of a northern winter in the wild
bush country.

In my early days on the Labrador we were in the habit of getting our
winter beef on the hoof from the villages on the south shore. The
cattle were sent over by schooner, late in the fall, and stall-fed
until the cold weather set in, when they were killed and the
carcasses hung up to freeze. As we had no wharf accommodation, the
cattle were unloaded in a primitive and unceremonious way. The
schooner anchored two or three hundred yards from the shore. The
cattle sided up alongside the rail next the beach, and a couple of
sailors introduced hand spikes under the animal's body, the end
engaging the top of the rail. At the word "Go" the beasts were hurled
sideways into the water. Rising to the surface, after the plunge,
they naturally struck out for the shore, where we had men with short
ropes ready to secure them and lead them away to the stable.

On the occasion upon which I write we had a consignment of five
three-year-old steers, the meat of which, augmented by the usual game
of the country, was considered sufficient for the post's use during
the following winter.

Two of the bunch reached footing in such a lively state that they
baffled the combined efforts of our men to capture them, and with a
few defiant snorts and bounds, they reached the primitive forest and
were lost to view.

As soon as I realized that there was a possibility of the animals
being lost to us, I turned out all the "hangers on" about the post,
with our own men in hot pursuit. Night coming on shortly after, the
hunt was given up, only to be resumed with greater energy the
following day; but the nature of the ground being hard, hoof marks
were indistinguishable, and to use dogs would only make the cattle
wilder. Once more the men had to reluctantly abandon the search and
return to the post, and although we kept up the hunt for several days
more, we failed to locate the missing "meat."

In due course of time, snow covered the ground, and men circled the
bush in the vicinity of the post without any results, and we had
unwillingly to place the two steers on our profit and loss account.

Time went on, the winter passed, and the summer also, and none of the
visiting Indians reported any signs of the cattle.

The following winter, in February, a party of hunters came in from
the headwaters of the Moisie River, 150 miles north of us, and they
reported having killed our cattle among a small herd of wood caribou.
To prove their story they produced the horns which they had brought
down all those miles on their toboggans as visible proof.

The report they gave me was as follows: They had come across the
tracks of this small bunch of caribou (five) with which the oxen were
living in consort, sometime in early December. The animals winded
them and the hunters failed to sight the herd.

As the snow was yet shallow, they left them unmolested until after
the New Year, when the men from the nearby camps organized a hunt
expressly to run them down.

From hearsay they thought the strange tracks were those of moose, and
were very much, surprised when the herd was sighted to find they were
horned cattle, and at once concluded (and very correctly) that they
were the long lost cattle.

The chief informed me they were so fleet of foot that the five deer
were come up with and killed before they overtook the steers, which
were rolling fat, sleek of coat and had an under growth of wool such
as the deer had, showing that under different circumstances nature
had given them this protection against the severity of the climate.

I hardly think I would have credited their story with the proof, and
further, the next summer, when they came in to trade on the coast,
they brought me a piece of the thigh skin of each animal. Verily
these oxen had a call from the wild and took it and became as one
with the denizens of the bush.

Reading of the dog that fraternized and went off with the wolves
brought this to my mind after a lapse of forty-one years.



The two years I passed in charge of the Hudson's Bay Post of Long
Lake, situated on the water-shed between Lake Superior and Hudson's
Bay, was the happiest of any period of my long service.

The conclusion I have arrived at, after considerable experience, is
that Christianizing, in no matter what form, has only made the Indian

It is the verdict of all who have had to do with the red man, that he
copies all of the white man's vices and very few, if any, of his

Indians I found at Long Lake, in the middle seventies, were Pagans,
but they were honest, truthful and virtuous.

We locked our tradeshop, not to prevent robbery, simply to guard
against the door being blown open. Not one of these Indians would
have taken a pin without showing it to me first and saying: "I am
going to keep this," holding up the pin.

My predecessor had been stationed at that post in an unbroken charge
of over twenty years. He was a man of system and everything went by
rote. There were certain fixed dates for out-fitting the hunters;
certain dates for those short of ammunition to come and get it in the
winter; and, best of all, certain dates for them to arrive in the
spring and close their hunts. This assured us of getting only prime,
seasoned skins, and such skins it was a pleasure to handle, since the
paper upon which this is printed is not whiter than every skin that
passed thru my hands in those two years.

I am writing of the days before the Canadian Pacific Railway passed
thru that country when there were no whiskey peddlers going about
demoralizing the Indians. There being no opposition we regulated the
catch of furs. When we found, by general report of the hunters, that
a certain kind of fur was becoming scarce, we lowered the price for
that particular animal's pelt so low as to not make it worth their
while to trap it. For instance, while I was there, the beaver was
having our protection, and, as a consequence, in three years every
little pond or creek became stocked with beaver. The Indian hunter
did not suffer, because we paid the most liberal prices for the skins
that were most plentiful. This policy, however, could only be carried
out at places where there was no competition.

The gentleman in charge was the representative of the "Great Company"
and what he said was law. Our interests and those of the Indians ran
on parallel lines.

It was to our interest to see all that the Indian required should be
of the very best. That he should have good, strong, warm clothing,
good ammunition and double-tower proved guns was essential to his
ability to hunt, his comfort and his very life.

It was drilled into the hunters at each yearly send off, that if he
did not exert himself to hunt sufficient to pay the advances given
him, that the "Great Father" would not, or could not, send goods for
the next year.

It was explained to them that their furs were bartered in far off
countries for other new guns, blankets, twine, capots, duffle, copper
kettles and other wants of the Indians. As we wanted the hunters to
be well clothed and supplied with necessaries we imported no such
useless trash as the frontier posts were obliged to keep to cope with
the free traders.

If an Indian took a four point H. B. blanket, even with the rough
usage it was subjected to, it would keep him and his wife warm for a
year. The next season, a new one being bought, the old one did
service for another winter as lining for mittens, strips for socks,
and leggings for the younger branches.

Steel traps being dear twenty-five years ago, and the long canoe
transport being costly so far into the interior, we did not import
them very largely.

Bears, martens, minks and even beaver and otter were killed in
deadfalls; and with different sizes of twine, the Indians snared
rabbits, lynx, and, in the spring, even the bear.

The Indians principal, and I may say, only tools for hunting and for
his support were his axe, ice chisel, twine and his gun. I mention
the gun last because the hunter only used it for caribou and moose,
ducks and geese. Ammunition was too costly to use it for anything
that could be trapped or snared.

A life chief was elected by the Indians themselves, and he was
supported in his management of the tribe by the officer in charge of
the post. The chief had precedence in being outfitted, his canoe
headed the fleet of canoes on arriving at the post in the spring, and
was the one to lead off in the autumn. His was the only pack of furs
carried up from the beach, by our men, to the store, and he set the
example to his young men by being the first to pay his last year's
advances. To him we gave, as a present, a new suit of black cloth
clothes, boots, hat, etc., and to his wife a bright tartan wool dress
piece, and a tartan shawl of contrasting pattern.

Our currency, or medium of trade, was called "Made Beaver,"
equivalent in most articles to a dollar. The value of each skin was
computed in "Made Beaver." For every hundred of "Made Beaver" of
skins that the Indian brought in we allowed him as a gratuity "Called
Rum," ten "Made Beaver," he was at liberty, after paying his debt, to
trade whatever he fancied out of the shop to the extent of his "Rum."
But unless he paid his debt in full the "Rum" he was entitled to went
towards his account. This, however, seldom happened, because one that
did not pay his debt in full was looked down upon by his friends, and
his supplies for the next year were reduced in proportion to his

What a change has taken place in the past quarter of a century. I
hear from the person now in charge of that post (it is kept up
principally now to protect our further interior post) that all those
Indians are dead and gone. Their descendants number scarcely
one-third of the original band. They are thieves, drunkards and liars
as a rule; the white man's diseases and fire-water have left their
trail. White trappers have penetrated their country in all directions
from the line of railway and exterminated most of the fur-bearing
animals. Instead of, as their forefathers, getting a good supply of
all necessary articles to assure them of comfort for a year, these,
their sons and grandsons, can get no one to risk advancing them. They
live principally, now, on fish and when they do succeed in killing a
skin, the most likely thing to happen is, they will travel many miles
to barter it for whiskey.

This is one of the results of railways and civilization. I can say
with the late lamented Custer "The good Indians are dead."



A phase of hunting that I do not remember ever seeing described in
the H-T-T is of tracking bears to their den and killing them there.
The two seasons that this mode of hunting is resorted to by the
Indians is after the first fall of snow and again in February, March
or April, according to the different locality of the country, when
the snow is soft and the days are mild and spring-like. Some very
knowing trailers will follow up signs even before there is snow on
the ground. They watch out for broken branches, shredded birch bark
or other stuff which the bear has torn down to make his bed.

At times, however, the bear will change his mind, even after
considerable work has been done, and move off to some other ridge of
hills and there begin over again in what he has decided a more
favorable situation. It is a much more dangerous job to tackle a
newly denned bear than in the spring when they are stupid from their
long spell of hibernation. Rarely does a lone hunter undertake to
kill a bear in his den. It requires two persons for safety and
convenience of work.

In hunting out a bear's den a knowledge of what is a likely locality
shortens the work very much. There are dens found in freak and
unlooked for places, but as a general rule there are certain
conditions that go towards their selection and one who knows these,
narrows down his area of hunting very considerably.

The dens are, as a rule, on a high elevation with a southern aspect.
This selection is made, no doubt, with the knowledge given by
instinct that it keeps clear longer in the autumn and opens earlier
with the melting snows of spring. In my long experience I have found
bears three times in very unlikely places. One time, when on a long
trail with dispatches, two Indians and myself jumped, one after the
other, from the trunk of a large fallen pine, with our snow shoes,
fair and square onto a very large bear who had in the fall made his
bed at the lea side of this shelter and allowed the winter snows to
fall and bury him.

It was only three weeks later when we were returning by the same
trail that the leading man of the party, when getting to this spot
and looking for an easy place to clamber up onto the giant trunk
noticed a suspiciously frosted little breathing hole in the snow.
Word was passed back that perhaps there was a bear there. As we had
no firearms in the party not even a pistol, the first thing to do was
to cut good stout hardwood poles about five feet long.

A large place was well tramped down with our snow shoes to insure
good solid footing and when all was ready, with our packs and extra
things out of the way, one of the party was detailed to get up on the
tree trunk and with a strong birch lever insert it near where we
located the bear to be and pry him out, the other two to belabor him
with their poles. The man on the log had such a strong leverage that
his first effort broke the bear clear out of the snow and before he
had time to rouse from his stupor he was dead.

The Indians, who were middle-aged men, thought it a great joke that
we should all have tramped on this bear and three weeks later found
and killed him. The skin, of course, was at its primest state, so we
packed it turn and turn about, to the fort, where each received his
share of its value.

Another time I camped almost on the very shore of a small lake with a
youth for my companion. We were to start a yard of moose in the early
morning on a mountain on the opposite shore. In the morning while I
was cooking breakfast, the youth went a few yards away to cut a pole
to hang our extra provisions on that we were leaving at the camp.

He had hardly left the fireplace when I heard him call me. There I
found him gazing intently at a telltale frosted hole in the snow. We
both came to the same conclusion that it was the breathing hole of
some animal and that animal most likely a bear. We decided not to
disturb him until our moose hunt was over, so quietly withdrew from
the vicinity. I may say to close this incident that two days later,
after killing three moose, we dug out the bear sufficiently to locate
his shoulder and shot him in his den.

Another unlocked for place was when landing at a portage very late in
the fall, was to find a half-sized bear had made his bed simply at
the foot of a stump. There was no snow yet on the ground and he woke
sufficiently to gaze on us with a stupid stare. The next minute he
had his quietus.

I always seem to wander away from my subject. Whether it adds or
detracts from the interest of the article I know not, but I assure
the reader it is unintentional, but these long past incidents and
adventures will crop up in my memory and before I think to pull
myself up they are committed to paper. Well, once again!

The most likely places to find a bear denned up are under a ledge of
rocks, under the roots of a partly fallen tree, under an over-hanging
sand bank, or in a rocky crevice in the mountain side. The hunters,
when they have tracked him to or found his den begin by reading all
the visible signs and lay their plans accordingly. If the bed is some
little distance back from the door or opening, they begin by staking
up the doorway so nearly closed that the bear will have considerable
delay in getting out.

If to stake it is impracticable on account of the formation, they
gather rocks or sections of logs and stuff up most of the opening.
Some venturesome hunters will stand a leg at each side of the opening
with their axe poised ready to brain him while he is endeavoring to
make his exit, the man's companion prodding him out from the rear.
Other hunters (the writer amongst them) prefer to remain with his
rifle ready for business at a few yards from the doorway. This is
safer and more reasonable.

Most bears come out into daylight in a more or less dazed state, but
I have known some with the very first introduction of the pole into
the rear premises to come out with a rush, carrying obstructions and
everything before them. At such times unless a man is pretty nervy he
is apt to get "Bear Fever" and he should not be blamed, for the
situation is trying.

When the bear has taken up his quarters far back in a crevice of the
rocks where a pole from the surface can find no opening to be
introduced, then the plan of smoking him out has to be resorted to.
It is done in this way. The stuff to be used, some birch bark to
ignite it on top of which is placed rotten wood or broken up punk if
procurable, is rammed back a distance into the hole. At the end of
the withdrawn pole a lighted twist of bark is pushed back and the
doorway quickly blocked as nearly tight as possible.

The hunter retires at once to a safe distance with his gun ready for
action and awaits events. He does not, as a rule, have to wait long,
for when that smoke becomes unbearable, Mr. Bear comes out in a hurry
and a pretty mad bear at that. It is not advisable to introduce too
much inflammable substance, for it is apt to spoil the fur when the
bear comes thru the fiery ordeal. Rotten popple is next to punk to
make a pungent and unbearable smoke. When such penetrates the bear's
nostrils he is bound to wake up and his one desire is to get fresh
air immediately.

The tracking of a bear even in pretty deep snow takes time, for
unless he knows some one is after him he circles and zigzags about,
which trail requires attention to under run successfully. However,
once he becomes possessed with the knowledge that he is being
pursued, he makes a pretty straight line away from danger. At such a
time a small cur dog is invaluable, for while he will not attack the
bear, by his yelping and barking he delays his progress and at each
pause of the bear the hunter is gaining ground.

To kill a bear that is already denned the dog is better left at home,
for he will be of no use and you run the risk (if he is plucky) of
his being killed in the den. For all kinds of hunting I have found
the small dog much preferable to the one of large size. A small dog
can readily be put in one's game bag and carried up near the game one
is to start. He is lighter and takes up less room in a canoe, the
bones and scraps of the camp are sufficient for his support, he will
run in and nip at the heels of a moose or deer and get out of the way
and repeat his barking, while a big dog would be getting into trouble
and endangering his life.

I have often carried my hunting dog in my game bag up a mountain and
only slipped him when the moose had jumped his bed. The dog being
fresh he very soon had the moose at a standstill. In hunting bear the
small dog has the discretion to keep out of his reach and be
contented with barking and running him around. Whereas the bigger
dogs are fearless and run in on the quarry generally with fatal
results to themselves, for there is no modern pugilist quicker with
his fists than a bear with his paw, and let the bear get but one good
whack at a dog and that dog is no better thereafter than a dead dog.



Among the many young apprentice officers who have been under my
orders in the Hudson's Bay Company, none was so conspicuously
unfortunate as Ralson. His bungling into trouble became so frequent
that it got to be a byword amongst the other clerks and employes and
at last they came to me and said, "Mr. Hunter, you ought really to
forbid Ralson's going outside the stockades unless some one is along
to take care of him."

For the short while he was in our service (three years) he had, as
far as I know, the record for varied mishaps. These were of so
frequent occurrence that at the end of his contract he was allowed to
leave and, by my advice, he returned to his people in England. Good
luck appeared to go hand in hand with his misadventures, for somehow
he came out alive, still, to say the least, the uncertainty every
time he left the post as to whether he would return, kept one's
nerves forever on the ragged edge and notwithstanding, he quickly
became an adept at most work connected with the service. I was glad
to see him leave the service because, being under my orders and not
yet to man's estate, I considered myself in a great measure
responsible for his safety.

I call to memory his having almost cut off the index finger of his
left hand, putting the axe right thru the knuckle joint. This bled
profusely and he was on the sick list for a long while. I think the
next accident very shortly after his hand healed, was to put the
corner of his axe into the cap of his knee. This was more serious
than the other and took weeks to get well. On the whole he was very
fortunate not to have a stiff leg for the remainder of his life.

Another time he undertook to look for a man who was over-due at the
post and was expected to come by a trail near the lake shore. This
was a case of the biter being bitten, for the man turned up all right
and had to join a party to hunt Ralson. As he told us afterwards he
thought to improve on the trail by cutting curves. Dusk coming on he
became hopelessly lost himself, neither being able to find the trail
nor his way out of the forest. The search party only found him the
following afternoon, tattered, hungry and generally woe-begone. A
picture of him taken as he entered the square that day would have
been interesting.

The chances are that he might never have been found and thus have
perished, had a quieting effect on him for some days but the old
restlessness got hold of him again, and he had to be away hunting up
fresh trouble. This time he had a companion and they went in a canoe
to hunt ducks. His companion (a half-breed) debarked on the river
bank to crawl up to some birds and placed an injunction on Ralson to
remain quietly seated in the canoe. When the half-breed returned to
the river bank it was to find the canoe upset and Ralson sitting on
the shore dripping wet. On comparing notes it was found a rifle I had
lent him was at that precise moment at the bottom of the river in
about ten feet of water.

It would never do to return to the post and report this mishap and
the loss of the gun, so Ralson undressed and began to dive for its
recovery. Robert, the man, told me, when describing the adventure,
that he never laughed so much in his life as when sitting on the bank
and watching Ralson making desperate and repeated efforts to recover
the weapon. He was finally successful and exacted a cast iron promise
from Robert not to inform the people at the post. A promise which
Robert promptly broke.

An accident, however, which almost cost him his life, altho after he
was safe at the post, caused us considerable merriment, came about in
this way, and I expect he will remember it as long as he lives, if
yet alive. We were sending an express canoe from the post to the
nearest point on the frontier to mail dispatches to headquarters. The
distance is about fifty miles over lakes, rivers and portages. The
usual time for such a trip was three days for the round trip. Ralson
begged to accompany the men, partly for an outing and partly to see
the frontier village of Luqueville.

Their route lay thru a chain of small lakes on which I had a couple
of bear traps set. To save me a trip to visit these traps I told
Robert, the guide, to kill any bear he found caught and reset the
traps, cache the meat and skin and bring it with them on their return
journey. These instructions were simple enough and I was not anxious
about Ralson. Ralson, however, changed all these plans for, when they
reached the first trap, in which they found a bear caught and Robert
had killed it, Ralson proposed he should stay behind, skin and cut up
the meat and visit the second trap which was a short distance off the
canoe route, and then he was to come home on foot by skirting the
lakes along a sometimes used trail, taking the skin with him.

Robert thought this plan a good one as it would expedite matters for
he and his companion to make a quick trip. When, however, he got back
to the place after an absence of about forty hours and found the skin
and meat lying where he had left them and no sign of Ralson, he was
quick to understand that something had happened. What that something
was, however, he was at a loss to settle in his mind. All at once,
while standing there considering, the thought struck him that
possibly Ralson was caught in the other trap. Such things had
happened to men accustomed to trapping and how much more likely to a
careless fellow like the missing man.

Giving expression to his thought Robert and his companion both
hurried off towards the other trap, which was about a mile up the
creek. When they came to a soft place on the trail and saw only the
footprints of a man going and none returning, Robert was convinced
the poor fellow was in the trap, whether alive or dead they refrained
from contemplating. What a sight met their gaze when coming in sight
of the bear pen! There was poor Ralson lying prone on his back
motionless and to all appearances dead, the great, heavy mass of
metal fast to his leg and his pocket knife with broken blade lying
near at hand, evidently thrown there as useless. They saw how he had
hacked at the strong birch drag to which the chain was fastened until
his knife became useless and then given up in despair.

Ralson, upon examination, was found to be yet alive, but unconscious
and covered with blue flies, his hands and face were swollen from the
mosquito poison and covered with dirt he had scratched while trying
to dig for water. He looked a frightful and pitiful object. Luckily
the men who had found him were quick to think and in a remarkably
short space of time they had the leg freed from its iron clasp. One
ran for a pannikin of cold water while the other twisted a piece of
birch bark into the shape of a horn, with the small end open just
enough to allow the water to trickle thru gently into his throat.

Next they bathed and washed his face and hands and shortly had the
satisfaction of seeing him open his eyes. Robert now held up his head
and placed the remaining water in the pannikin to his lips. This he
managed to drink and blessed, blessed water, it revived him
completely. The other man was then sent back to the canoe for the tea
kettle and provisions, Robert starting a fire during his absence. Tea
and partridge broth made and administered in small quantities at
first helped him to regain his strength. His youthful vitality soon
asserted itself and after he was propped up and made comfortable he
managed to feed himself with some of the shredded meat.

After partaking of this food and drink the boot was cut off, the poor
swollen foot bathed and bound up and then they carried him on an
improvised stretcher very carefully and tenderly out to the canoe.
Excepting two short portages it was all water way to the post at
which place they arrived just at dusk. Souder, our cook, when he saw
them helping Ralson out of the canoe said, "Mein Gott! Vich end of
Ralson is sick dis time? Can't you tole me, eh?" and it was pretty
hard to tell from his limp appearance.

After he had recovered sufficiently to be questioned as to how he got
into the trap he said he had reached into the back of the house to
affix the bait and forgot the trap and stepped into it. The meat that
he had cut up was, of course, spoiled, but the skin after being
washed and scraped, proved to have sustained no damage.

Ralson had no further mishaps in this country for when his foot was
healed he took his discharge and returned to a well-off mother in
London who could afford to have a keeper to care for him if so
inclined. This happened years ago and as I never heard from him he
may have joined the English Yeomanry and gone to South Africa and
been killed on the firing line. If so, his mishaps are finished and
so is my story.


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