Oo-Koo-Hoo’s El Dorado:
Owl goes a - hunting, in Second Big Instalment of “The Drama of Our Great Forests,"
OO-KOO-HOO PLAYS THE GAME This is the title of the next instalment of Arthur Heming’s story, which will appear in the January 1 st issue. Another “free trader” will appear to bid against the Hudson's Bay Co. for the winter’s skins and there is an intimation that Athabasca will reappear on the scene. This third instalment is chuck full of adventure, action and robust local color. There will be a masterpiece in four colors on the cover, and a startling reproduction inside of a hunter’s fight with a wolf—with an axel
BEAR LAKE was beautiful. Its shores were fringed here and there with marshy reeds or sandy beaches; and its rivulets, flowing in and out, connected it with other meres in other regions. At dawn moose and caribou came thither to drink; bears roamed its surround-
ing slopes; lynxes, foxes,
fishers, martens, ermines and minks lived in its bordering woods. Otters, musk-rats and beavers 8warn its inrushing creeks; wolverines prowled its rocky glens, and nightly concerts of howling wol ves echoed al ong its shores. The eagles and the hawks built their nests in its towering trees, while the cranes fished and the ruffed grouse drummed. Nightly, too, the owls and theloonshootedand laughed at the quacking ducks and the honking geese as they flew swiftly by in the light of the moon.
Salmon-trout, whitefish, pike and pickerel
rippled its placid waters, and brook-tfOUt leaped above the shimmering pools of its crystal streams. It wa* Oo-koohoo’s happiest hunting-ground, and truly it was a hunter’s paradise. . . a poet’s heaven. . . an artist’s home.
“What fools we mortals be ”—when we live in the city!
The site chosen for the lodges was on one of two points jutting into the lake, separated by the waters of Muskrat Creek. On its northwest side ran a heavily timbered ridge that broke the force of the winter winds from the west and north, and thus protected Oo-koo-hoo’s camp, which stood on the south-east side of the little stream. Such a site in such a region afforded wood, water, fruit, fish, fowl and game; and, moreover, an enchanting view’ of the surrounding country. Furthermore; that section of The Owd’s game-lands had not been hunted for forty-two moons.
Immediately after dinner the men began cutting lodge poles, while the women cleared the tepee sites and levelled the ground. On asking Oo-koo-hoo how many poles would be required for the canvas lodge which he had kindly offered me the use of for the coming winter, he replied, w’ith his slow smile;
“My son, cut a pole for every moon, and cut them thirteen feet in length, and the base of the tepee too should be thirteen feet across.” Then, looking at me with his small, shrewd, but pleasant eyes, he added; “Thirteen is our lucky number. It always brings good fortune. Besides, most canoes are made of thirteen pieces, and when we kill big game, we always cut the carcasses into thirteen parts. My son, when I have time I shall carve a different symbol upon each of the thirteen poles of your lodge; they shall represent the thirteen moons of the year, and thus they will enable you to keep track of the phase of the season through which you are passing.”
Making the Winter Home
ALL the poles were of green pine or spruce. The thin ends of three of the stoutest were lashed together, on being erected; these formed a tripod against which the other poles were leant, while their butts, placed in a circle, were spread an equal distance apart. Over that framework the lodge covering was spread by inserting the end of a pole into the pocket of each of the two wind-shields, and then hoisting the covering into place. Next, the lapping edges, brought together over the doorway, were fastened securely together with wooden pins, while the bottom edge was pegged down all round the lodge with wooden stakes.
In the centre of the floor-space six little cut logs were fastened down in the form of a hexagon, and the earth scooped from within the hexagon was banked against the logs to form a permanent and limited fire-place. The surrounding floor-space was covered with a layer of firbrushy then a layer of rushes, and finally, where the beds were to be laid, a heavy mattress of balsam twigs laid, shingle-fashion, one upon another, with their stems down. Thus a springy, comfortable bed was formed, and the lodge perfumed with a delightful forest aroma.
Above the fire-place was hung a stage, or frame-work of light sticks, upon which to dry or smoke the meat. Around the wall on the inner side was hung a canvas curtain that
overlapped the floor, and thus protected the lodgers from*draft while they were sitting about the fire. The doorway was two feet by five, and was covered with a raw deerskin hung
from the top. A stick across the lower edge kept the skin taut. A log at the bottom of the doorway answered for a door-step and in winter kept out the snow. Now the lodge was ready for occupation.
As there are at least six different ways of building camp fires, ft should be explained that my friends built theirs according to the Ojibway custom; that is, in the so-called “lodge fashion,” by placing the sticks upright, leaning them together, and crossing them over one another in the manner of lodge poles. When the fire was lighted, the wind shields formed a perfect draft to carry the smoke up through the permanently open flue in the apex of the structure, and one soon realized that of all tents or dwellings, no healthier abode was ever contrived by man. Indeed, if the stupid, meddlesome agents of civilization had been wise enough to have left the Indians in their tepees, instead of forcing them to live in houses—the ventilation of which was never understood—they would have been spared at least one of civilization’s diseases—tuberculosis— and many more tribesmen would have been alive to-day.
On entering an Indian tepee one usually finds the first space, on the right of the doorway, occupied by the woodpile; the next, by the wife; the third, by the baby; and the fourth, by the husband. Opposite these, on the other side of the fire, the older children were ranged. To the visitor is allotted the warmest place in the lodge, the place of honor, farthest from and directly opposite the doorway. When the dogs are allowed in the tepee, they know their place to be the first space on the left, between the entrance and the children.
While the two leather lodges of the Indians stood close together with stages near at hand upon which to store food and implements out of reach of the dogs and wild animals, my tepee, the canvas one, stood by itself a little further up the creek. Taking particular pains in making my bed, and settling everything for service and comfort, I turned in that night in a happy mood and fell asleep contemplating the season of adventure before me and the great charm of living in such simplicity.
XTEXT morning, while roaming about the point, I dis1 ’ covered two well-worn game trails that, converging together, led directly to the extreme outer end of our point The tracks were the wild animals’ highways through that part of the woods, and were used by them when they desired to make a short cut across that end of the lake by way of a neighboring island. Worn fairly smooth, and from three to five inches in depth, by from eight to ten inches in width, these tracks were entirely free of grass or moss. In following them a few hundred paces, I could plainly recognize the prints of the moose, the bear, the wolf and the fox; and a few smaller and lesser impressions with regard to the origin of which I was not so sure. The trails were much like the buffalo trails one used to see upon the plains. To my delight, my lodge door was not more than ten paces from that wild Broadway of the Wilderness.
After breakfast, Oo-koo-hoo suggested that a “lopstick” should be cut in honor of the white man’s visit. Selecting a tall spruce, Amik, with a half-axe in hand began to ascend it. When he had climbed about three parts of the way up, he began to chop off the surrounding
branches and continued to do so as he descended, until he was about half-way down, when he desisted and came to earth. The result was a strange-looking tree with a long, bare trunk, surmounted by a tuft of branches that could be seen and recognized for miles around.
Cutting lop-sticks is an old custom óf the forest Indians. Such trees are used to mark portages, camping-grounds, meeting-places, or dangerous channels where submerged rocks lie in wait for the unsuspecting voyageur. In fact, they are to the Indian what lighthouses are to the mariner. Yet, sometimes, they are used to celebrate the beginning of a young man’s hunting career, or to mark the grave of a famous hunter. When made to indicate a wilderness rendezvous, the meeting-place is commonly used for the purpose of coming in contact with
their nearest neighbors or friends, and halting a day or so, while upon their voyage to the post, in order to discuss their affairs—the winter’s hunt, the strange tracks they have seen, the strange sounds they have heard, the raiding of their hunting-ground, and the like. Always at such meetings a fire is kindled regardless of the season, an ancient custom of their old religion, but used to-day more for the purpose of lighting pipes. Beside the fire, a post stripped of its bark is erected, and on it a fire-bag containing tobacco for the use of all hands is hung. Around the fire the women and children spread a carpet of brush, upon which the men sit while conversing. At such meetings one never hears two Indians talk at once—a fine example for white people to heed—nor do they openly contradict one another as the vulgar white man does, for such an offence would be considered by the savage rude and the offender would be regarded as no better than a white man; for they believe themselves to benot only the wisest, and the bravest, but the politest people in the world; and when one stops to compare the average Indian with the average white man in North America, one must grant that the savage is right.
Is White Man Prize Fool of Universe?
U'URT HERMO RE, if we compare the philosophy of the * red man and the white, we find that just because the white man has invented a lot of asinine fashions and customs, a lot of unnecessary gear and junk, and feeds himself on unhealthy concoctions that give him indigestion and make his teeth fall out, he flatters himself that he iis the wisest man on earth, whereas, all things considered, in my humble opinion, he is the prize fool of the universe— for removing himself so far from nature. And when the female follower of Dame Fashion goes mincing along the cement-paved street, in her sharp-toed, French-heeled slippers, on her way to the factory, she flatters herself that she knows better than God how to perfect the human foot; then the All Wise One, in His just wrath, strikes back at her by presenting her with à luxuriant crop of varicose veins, corns, ingrowing nails, fallen arches and bunions that supply her with suffering in plenty for the rest of’ her days. Her red sister, on the contrary, in moccasined feet, walks naturally through the forest; and the Master of Life, beholding her becoming humility, rewards her with painless pleasure.
But to return to the Indians’ meeting-places in the wilderness. The important meetings held in the forest are always opened by smoking. No man speaks without first standing up, and his delivery is always slow and in short, clear sentences; In the past there were great orators among the red men as many of the old writers and traders affirm.
Once, when questioning Oo-koo-hoo regarding old Indian customs, he informed me that among Indians bowing was a very recent innovation, and that the men of the olden time—the fire-worshippers or sun-worshippers—never deigned to bow to one another: they bowed to none but the Deity. They took not the Great Spirit’s name in vain ; nor did they mention it save in a whisper, and with bowed head. He regretted that since coming in contact with the irreverent and blaspheming white men, his people had lost much of their old-time godly spirit.
The first thing they did with the traps, after seeing that the old ones were in working order, was to boil both the new ones and the old ones for about half an hour in pots in which was placed either pine or spruce or cedar brush. This they did—Oo-koo-hoo explained—to cleanse the old traps and to soften the temper of the new ones, thus lessening the chances of their breaking in zero weather; and also to free both old and new from all man-smell and to perfume them with the natural scent of the forest trees, of which no animal is afraid. The traps they used were the No. 1, “Rat,” for muskrats, ermines and minks; the No. 2, “Mink,” for minks, martens, skunks, and foxes; the No. 3, “Fox,” for foxes, minks, martens, fishers, wolves, wolverines, skunks, otters and beavers; the No. 4, “Beaver,” for beavers, otters, wolves, wolverines and fishers; the No. 5, “Otter,” for otters, beavers, wolves, wolverines and small bears; and the “Bear” trap in two sizes, A, large, and B, small, for all kinds of bears and deer. Traps with teeth they did not use, as they said the teeth injured the fur.
Next to the knife, the woodsman uses no more useful implement than the axe. Even with the professional hunter, the gun takes third place to the knife and the axe. As between the two makes of axes—the American and the Canadian—the former appears the better. It is really a good fair-weather axe, but winter work proves the superiority of the Canadian implement.
Some Secrets of the Trail A T LAST the eventful morning arrived. Now we were to go a-hunting. The trap-setting party was to be composed of four persons—Oo-koo-hoo, the two boys, and myself. Our ne-mar-win—provisions—for four to last a week consisted of one pound of tea, eight pounds of dried meat, four pounds of grease, four pounds of dried fish and a number of small bannocks; the rest of our grub was to be secured by hunting.
What’s On Our Cover?
'JpHE Hunter, stealing up silently, has just emerged from the dense forest, and the bear hears him. The Hunter is wearing moccasins because it is early in the season and there has been only a light snow-fall. The puff of white above the bear is the animal’s congealing breath.
Of course, while hunting, Oo-koo-hoo always carried his gun loaded—lacking the cap—but it was charged with nothing heavier than powder and shot, so that the hunter might be ready at any moment for small game; yet if he encountered big game, all he had to do was to ram down a ball, slip on a cap, and then be ready to fire at a moose or a
After the usual affectionate good-bye, and the waving of farewell as we moved in single file into the denser forest, we followed a game trail that wound in and out among the trees and rocks—always along the line of least resistance— and for a while headed westward through the valley of Muskrat Creek. Oo-koo-hoo led the way and, as he walked along, would occasionally turn and, pointing at the trail, whisper:
“My white son, see, a moose passed two days ago. . . . That’s fox—this morning,” and when we were overlooking the stream he remarked: “This is a good place for muskrats, but I’ll come for them by canoe.”
The principal object of the trip was to set fox and marten traps. Hilly timberland of spruce or pine without much brushwood is the most likely place for martens; and in fairly open country foxes may be found. The favorite
haunt of beavers, otters, fishers, minks, and muskrats is a marshy region containing little lakes and streams; while for lynxes, a willowy valley interspersed with poplars is the usual resort.
Coming to an open space along the creek, the wise old Owl concluded from the fox signs he had already seen, and from the condition of the soil on a cut bank, that it was a desirable place in which to set a steel trap for foxes. Laying aside his kit, he put on his trapping mits, to prevent any trace of man smell being left about the trap, and with the aid of his trowel he dug into the bank a horizontal hole about two feet deep and about a foot in diameter. He wedged the chain-ring of the trap over the small end of a five-foot pole to be used as a clog or drag-anchor in case the fox tried to make away with the trap. The pole was then buried at one side of the hole. Digging a trench from the pole to the back of the hole, he carefully set the trap, laid it in the trench near the back of the hole, so that it rested about half an inch below the surface of the surrounding earth, covered it with thin layers of birch bark sewed together with watap—thin spruce roots—then, sifting earth over it, covered all signs of both trap and chain, and finally, with a crane’s wing, brushed the sand into natural form. Placing at the back of the hole a duck’s head that Ne-geek had shot for the purpose, Oo-koo-hoo scattered a few feathers about. Some of these, as well as the pan of the trap, had been previously daubed with a most stinking concoction called “fox bait”— hereafter called “mixed bait” to prevent confusing this with other baits.
Some Bait—and Some Stink TT WAS composed of half a pound of soft grease, half an *■ ounce of aniseed, an eighth of an ounce of asafoetida, six to ten rotten birds’ eggs and the glands taken from a female fox—all thoroughly mixed in a jar and then buried
underground to rot it, as well as for safe-keeping. The reason for such a concoction is that the cold in winter does not affect the stench of asafoetida; aniseed forms a strong attraction for many kinds of animals; foxes are fond of eggs; and no stronger lure exists for an animal than the smell of the female gland. So powerful is the fetor of this “mixed bait,’’ and so delicious is the merest whiff of it, that it forms not only an irresistible, but a long range allurement for many kinds of fur-bearers. Indeed, so pungent was it, that Oo-koo-hoo carried merely a little of it in a cap-box, and found that a tiny daub was quite sufficient to do his work. The reason for using the two kinds of bait was that while the mixed-bait would attract the animal to the trap by its scent, the sight of the duck’s head would induce the fox * to enter the hole, step upon the unseen trap while reaching to secure its favorite food and thus be caught by a foreleg.
The mention of an animal being caught by a foreleg re, minds me of the strange experience thatLouison Laferte, a French half-breed, manservant at Fort Rae, once had with a wolf. Louison was quite a wag and at all times loved a joke. One day while visiting one of his trapping-paths with his fourdog team, he came upon a wolf caught in one of his traps by the foreleg. After stunning the brute, he found that its leg was in no way injured, for it had been in the trap but a short time. Louison, in a èudden fit of frolic humor, unharnessed his num^ ber three dog and harnessed
in its place the unconscious wolf. When the wild brute came to, and leaped up, the half-breed shouted; “Ma-ar-r-chel” and whipped up his dogs. Off they went, the two leading dogs pulling the wolf along from in front, while the sled-dog nipped him from behind and encouraged him to go ahead. Thus into Fort Rae drove the otter Skin gay Louison with an un-
tamed timber-wolf in harness actually helping to haul his sled as one of his dog-team. The half-breed kept the wolf for more than a month trying to train it, but it proved so intractable and so vicious that, fearing for the children around the post, eventually he killed it.
Most hunters have a regular system for setting their traps so that they may know exactly where and how their trap is placed. Usually he sets it east and west, then cutting a notch on a branch—about a foot from the butt— he measures that distance from the trap, and thrusts the branch into the snow in an upright position, as though it were growing naturally. The stick serves not only to mark the trap, but in an open space to furnish the same attraction for a fox as a tree does for a dog; besides, when the hui*er is going his rounds, at the sight of the branch he will remember where and how his trap is set, and can read all the signs without going too near. The object of laying the sheet of birch-bark over the trap is that when any part of the bark is touched the trap may go off; besides, it forms a hollow space beneath, and thus allows the animal’s foot to sink deeper into the trap, to be caught further up, and to be held more securely.
A Desperate—and Lucky—Wolf
A CURIOUS thing once happened to a Dog-rib Indian, at Great Slave Lake. One day he found a wolf caught in one of his traps and foolishly allowed his huntingdog to rush at it. It leaped about so furiously that it broke the trap chain, and ran out upon the lake, too far for the hunter’s gun. In pursuit of the wolf, the dog drew too near and was seized and overpowered by the wolf. In order to save his dog the hunter rushed out upon the lake; and when within fair range, dropped upon one knee and fired. Unluckily the ball struck the trap, smashed it, and set the wolf free; and all the hunter got for his pains was a dead dog and a broken trap—while the wolf went scot-free.
Oo-koo-hoo told me that whenever a trap set in the usual way had failed to catch a fox, he then tried to take advantage of the cautious and suspicious nature of the animal by casting about on the snow little bits of iron, and re-setting and covering his trap on the crest of some little mound close at hand without any bait whatever. The fox, returning to the spot where he had scented and seen the
bait before, would now scent the iron, and becoming puzzled over the mystery would try to solve it by going to the top of the mound to sit down and think it over; and thus he would be caught.
But to illustrate how stupid the white fox of the Arctic coast is in comparison with the colored fox of the forest, the following story is worth repeating. It happened near Fort Churchill on the northwest coast of Hudson’s Bay. The trader at the post had given a certain Eskimo a spoonbait, or spoon-hook, the first he had ever seen; and as he thought it a very wonderful thing, he always carried it about with him. Next fall, while going along the coast, he saw a pack of white foxes approaching and having with him neither a trap nor a gun, he thought of his spoon-hook. Tearing a rag off his shirt, he rubbed on it some porpoise oil which he was carrying in a bladder, fastened the rag about the hook, laid it on a log directly in the path of the approaching foxes, and going to the end of the line lay down out of sight to watch what would happen. When the foxes drew near, one of them seized the bait, and the Eskimo, jerking the line, caught the fox by the tongue. In that way the native caught six foxes before he returned to the post; but then, as every one in the far north knows, white foxes are proverbially stupid creatures.
Much Pain in the Wilderness A NOTHER device is to break a bit of glass into tiny -¿"A slivers which the hunter mixes with grease and forms into little tablets that he leaves on the snow. If the fox scents them, the chances are that he will swallow each tablet at a single gulp. Presently, he will feel a pain in his stomach. At first this will cause him to leap about, but as his sufferings will only increase, he will lie down for an hour or so. When he finally rises to move away, he will feel the pain again. Once more he will lie down, and the chances are that he will remain there until found either dead or alive by the hunter.
If my readers, especially my women readers, should feel regret at the great suffering resulting from fur-hunting, they should recall to mind its chief contributory cause— those devotees of fashionable civilization who mince around during the sweltering days of July and August in furs. The mere thought of them once so filled with wrath a recent acting Prime Minister of Canada—Sir George Foster—that he lost his usual flow of suave and classic oratory, and rearing up, roared out in the House of Parliament: “Such women get my goat!”
Truly, there is much suffering in the wilderness, especially on account of civilization; but if my readers will be patient enough to wade through these few paragraphs of pain, they may, later on, find enough novelty, beauty and charm in the forest to reward them for reading on to the
But to return to foxes—they are much given to playing dead. Once, while travelling in Athabasca with Caspar Whitney, the noted American writer on sport and travel, we came upon a black fox caught in a steel trap. One of our dog-drivers stunned it and covered it with a mound of snow in order to protect its pelt from other animals, so that when the unknown trapper came along he would find his prize in good order. Three days later when I passed that way, the fox was sitting upon the mound of snow, and was as alive as when first seen. This time, however, my half-breed made sure by first hitting the fox on the snout to stun it, and then gently pressing his moccasined foot over its heart until it was dead —the proper way of killing small fur-bearing animals, without either injuring the fur or inflicting unnecessary pain.
Colin Campbell, a half-breed at York Factory, once had a different experience. He had been on a visit to an Indian camp with his dog-train and on his way back found a white fox in one of his traps. He stunned it in the usual way and pressed his foot over its heart; and when he felt sure it was dead, placed it inside his sledwrapper and drove home. On arriving at the fort he unhitched his sled from the dogs, and leaving them harnessed, pulled his sled, still containing its load, into the trading room; where, upon opening the wrapper to remove the load, the fox leaped out and, as the door was closed, bolted in fright straight through the window, carrying the glass with it, and escaped before the dogs could be released from their harness.
A half-breed hunter, named Pierre Géraud, living near Fort Isle à la Crosse, in laying out his trapping trail one winter had set one of his mink deadfalls in a swamp close to the water line; and on visiting the trap after the spring flood, found a large pike caught in it. All the signs showed that when the flood had been at its height the fish had been
swimming about, and on discovering the bait set for mink, had seized it and in trying to make away with it, had set off the trap, the heavy drop-log falling and killing the fish.
Only Man’s Stupidity
WHEN I expressed surprisethat an animal should have intelligence enough not only to find a buried trap, but to dig it up and then spring it without being caught, Oo-koo-hoo explained that it was not so much a matter of animal intelligence as of man’s stupidity; for whenever that happened it did not prove to the animal's credit, but to man’s discredit; the careless hunter having simply left enough man-smell on the trap to form a guide that told the animal exactly where the trap lay. Then, the overwhelming curiosity of the fox had compelled it to investigate the mystery by digging it up, and when found, the fox in its usual way would play with the strange object; just as a domestic kitten would do, and so the fox would set off the trap.
On my first trips into the forest, whenever I questioned an Indian hunter as to the cause of this or that, the completeness of his graphic explanation always puzzled me; for I could not understand how it was that, when he was not an eye-witness, he knew all the details of the affair as well as though the dead animal itself had told him the full story. But when I, too, began to study Nature’s book on wood-craft, it amazed me no longer, for then I realized that to those who had studied enough, it was easy to read the drama of the forest; especially in the winter, for then Nature never fails to record it, and every story is always published just where it happens.
Frequently, the value an In-* dian places upon a certain pelt is determined not according to its quality, but according to the trouble the animal caused him in securing it, and for that reason he will sometimes expect more for a red fox pelt than for the skin of a beautiful black fox. Then, in order to retain the Indian’s good will, the experienced trader will humor him by giving the price asked, and count on making up his loss in another way.
In hunting fur-bearers poison should never be used, since it bleaches the fur and thus reduces its value. Moreover, it is apt to kill in an almost endless chain many forest creatures besides the animal sought, as they may feed on the first victim to the deadly drug.
The hunter’s last resort in trapping the colored fox is to set a snare for him. In setting a snare the Chippewyan and Northern Indians always use a tossing-pole, while most of the Southern and Eastern Indians use a springpole; the difference being that a tossing-pole is usually made by bending down a small tree—the size of the tree being determined by the size of the game—to the top of which is fastened the snare; orthe tossing-pole maybe made by cutting a pole for that purpose. The result, however, is that the moment the snare is sprung the tossingpole flies free, and hauling the game into the air, holds it there out of reach of other animals that might rob the hunter of his prize.
A spring-pole is made by setting a springy pole in such a position that, when the snare is sprung, the tension is released, and the pole, springing up, hauls the animal against a stationary bar set horizontally above the loop of the snare, and holds the quarry there. Many kinds of animals are caught with snares, and in size they run all the way from rabbits to bears and even to the great bullmoose.
Caught By His Own Snare
t NARES, steel traps, and deadfalls that are set for large ^ game are dangerous even for man to approach carelessly, and sometimes even the trapper himself has the misfortune to be caught in the very trap he has set for some other animal. Early one winter, in fact, just after the first heavy snowfall, and while some bears were still roaming about, before turning in for their long winter sleep, an Indian hunter—I have forgotten his name— assisted by his son, had just set a powerful-snare for bears. Soon after starting for home, the hunter, discovering that he had left his pipe by the trap, told his son to go on to
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camp, and he would return to recover his
^arriving at the snare, he saw his pipe lying just beyond his reach at the back of the loop, but instead of walking round the brush fence and picking it up from behind, as he should have done, he foolishly put his leg through the snare in order to reach and dislodge his pipe. By some evil chance his foot caught upon the loop, and instantly he was violently jerked heels over head, into the air, and there hung head downward struggling for ms
He had made the tossing-pole from a , strong tree, up which his son had climbed with a line and by their combined weight they had forced the tree-top over and down until they could secure it by setting the snare. The tossing-pole, when the snare went off, sprung up with such force that it not only dislocated the hunter s right leg at the knee, but it threw his knife out of its sheath, and, consequently, he had no means by which he could cut the line, nor could he unfasten it or even climb up for he was hanging clear of the tree. Presently, however, he began to bleed from the nose and ears; and in his violent effort to struggle free, he noticed that he was swinging from side to side; then it dawned upon him that if he could only increase the radius of his swing he might manage to reach and seize hold of the tree, climb up to slacken the line, unfasten the snare, and set himself free. This, after much violent effort, he finally accomplished; but even when he reached the ground, everything seemed utterly hopeless, for, on account of his dislocated leg, he could not walk.
So there he lay all night long. During twilight, as fate ordained, the wounded man had a visitor; it was a bear, and no doubt the very bear for which he had set his snare. But the bear, in approaching, did not notice the man until it was almost on top of him, and then it became so frightened that it tore up into a neighboring tree and there remained for hours. By midnight, however, it came down, and then it was the suffering hunter’s turn to become alarmed, for the big brute passed very close to him before it finally walked away.
A little after sunrise the hunter’s son arrived, but not being able to carry his father, and fearing lest the bear might return before he could secure help, he decided to leave his father there, while he went in search of the bear. Tracking it, he soon came upon it and shot it dead. Back he hastened to camp and, with his mother, returned with a sled and hauled
t.hp wmindpd man borne.
Catching Rabbits by Calling to Them
EXPERT hunters, when they have time, prefer to hunt rabbits by calling them. In the rutting season they imitate the love-call of the female, and in other seasons they mimic the cries of the young; in either case, the unsuspecting animals come loping from all directions and the hunter bowls them over with fine shot. Calling takes much practice, but when the hunter has become an adept, it is the easiest and the quickest way of catching them.
That evening when the fire sank low and we turned in, a pack of timber-wolves for fully an hour sang us a most interesting lullaby; such a one indeed, that it made the goose-skin run up and down our backs —or rather my back—just as really fine music always does; and, to tell the truth, I enjoyed it more than many a human concert I have heard.
Playing on a Lynx’s Curiosity
IT WAS cool next morning and cloudy and threatening snow. Five rabbits had been caught during the night, and after breakfast we turned to setting lynxsnares. The steel trap is set for the lynx much in the same way as it is for the fox; but for the lynx a snare is preferable. It is set with or without a tossing-pole, at the entrance of a brush-lodge, the base of which is about five feet wide. The bait used is made by rubbing beaver castorum on a bit of rabbit-skin placed in a split stick set vertically in the centre of the lodge. A surer way, however, is to also
set a steel trap in front of the lodge door, so that if the lynx does not enter, he may be caught while looking in. The Indians often hunt them with dogs, for, when pursued, the lynx soon takes to a tree and then is easily shot. But the most proficient hunters like to hunt them by calling. They imitate its screech and also its whistle, for the lynx whistles somewhat like a jack-rabbit, though the sound is coarser and louder. Some Indians are very successful in this mode of hunting.
After setting a number of snares for lynxes we resumed our march, and on rounding the end of a little lake saw two fresh moose-tracks. Following them up, we finally came to a park-like region, where there was very little underbrush, and where most of the trees were pine and spruce—an ideal spot for marten. So Oo-koo-hoo, forgetting all about his moosetracks, made ready to set some marten traps.
For one marten an Indian catches in a steel trap, he catches a dozen in wooden deadfalls; but with the white trapper it.is different — he relies chiefly on the steel traps. Steel traps are set either in the open or in the tracks of the marten in exactly the same way as for foxes, and either with or without tossing-poles. The largest and best deadfalls used by the Indians are those they set for bears.
The city-dwelling author, or illustrator, who has not lived in the wilderness would never think of depicting an Indian trapper with a big hand-auger hanging from his belt, perhaps no more than he would depict a pirate armed with a big Bible; yet, nevertheless, it is a fact that the Indian trapper nowadays carries an auger much as the old buccaneer carried his cutlass— thrust through his belt. Somehow or other, I never could associate Oo-koo-hoo’s big wooden-handled auger with his gun and powder-horn, and all the while I was curious as to what use he was going to make of it. Now I was to have my curiosity satisfied.
What Use Indian Has for a Bore
UHRST he selected an evergreen tree “ about a foot in diameter—this time it was a pine—and with his axe cut a horizontal notch one to two inches deep; then he blazed the tree six or eight inches down to the notch, in order to form a smooth, flat surface; then he took his big auger and bored down into the tree, at an incline of about twenty degrees, a hole of two inches diameter and nine inches deep. Allowing at that spot for two feet of snow, he had bored the hole about thirty inches above ground. Then, taking two inchand-a-quarter, thin, sharp-pointed nails, he drove them obliquely into the tree just above the hole, so that about threequarters of each protruded into the hole. He did the same with two other nails below the hole, but this time drove them upwards until they, too, protruded into the hole.
Both sets of nails were driven in about an inch and a quarter apart. The bait used was a duck’s head placed at the bottom of the hole. The idea was that when the marten scented the bait, he would crawl into the hole to secure it; but when he tried to withdraw, he would find himself entrapped by the four sharp-pointed nails that, though they allowed him to slip in, now prevented him from backing out as they ran into his flesh, and held him until the hunter, placing two fingers of each hand over the four nail-points, seizing with his teeth the animal’s tail, and throwing back his head, would draw his victim out. But such work is rather risky, as the hunter may be bitten before he has a chance to kill the marten.
Though it is a very recent mode of trapping—only about thirty-five years old —it is now considered the best of all ways for taking marten, as the traps not only remain set all winter, but they last for years. Later, I learned from a chief factor, that it was invented by a Seaulteaux Indian named Ke-now-keoose, who was at one time employed as a servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company, where he learned the use of carpenter’s tools—later, when he left the service, he hunted and trapped along the Athabasca, the Slave, and the Mackenzie Rivers.
Sometimes twenty-five to thirty such traps are set by a hunter in a single day. Oo-koo-hoo took pains to teach the boys everything in relation to trapping, and as soon as he was sure they had mastered the
details of setting such traps, he went ahead with his axe to blaze the right trees, while the boys followed with the auger, and in the work of boring the holes and driving the nails took turn and turn about. But after all, the old-fashioned deadfall is more humane than any other way of trapping, as it often ends the animal’s suffering at once by killing it outright, instead of holding it a prisoner till it starves or is frozen to death before the hunter arrives on his usual weekly round of that particular trapping path.
Oo-koo-hoo Arranges Short Cut
\Ä7T CAMPED that night on the hillside overlooking “Mink Creek,” as Oo-koo-hoo called it, and next morning we again set out on our circular way, for on leaving our lodges we first headed almost due west for about three miles, then we turned south for two more and, gradually working round, we were soon facing east; that course we followed for a day, then on the morrow we worked round toward the north, and finally to the west again, as we neared home. Thus the trapping path was laid in an elliptic form, somewhat suggesting the letter C, with the home camp between the two ends of the letter. Many times during the winter, circumstances proved the wisdom of Oo-koo-hoo’s plan, especially when the sled became overloaded with game, and a short cut to camp became desirable. Though no part of his fur-path lay more than five miles from the lodges, yet to make the full circuit on snowshoes, to examine the traps, and to set some of them, it required a long day, as the path must have covered in a zig-zagging way over twenty miles. Later on he and Amik laid out two more such trapping paths; one to the north and the other to the east of Bear Lake.
TAURIN G the next few days Oo-koo-hoo and Amik had also finished setting their traps, snares and deadfalls for all the furred creatures of the woods, including wolves and bears. Already the camp had taken on a business-like air, for the big stretching frames for the skins of moose, bear and caribou had been erected near the lodges; and as both the hunters had secured moose and caribou, the frames were already in use. Trapping had begun in earnest and though fairly successful—a number of fine skins having been already taken—the hunters were still worried over the wolverines. On one path alone, they had found nothing but a fox’s foot, and the tails of four martens; besides, several of their traps were missing. In another place, where they had dressed a caribou killed by Oo-koo-hoo, and had left the meat overnight for the women and boys to haul in next day—wolverines had found it and defiled it in their usual way.
One evening early in November, after a hard day’s travel through a big storm of wet, clinging snow, we sat smoking by the fire in Oo-koo-hoo’s lodge, and happily commenting on the fact that we had got everything in good shape for the coming of winter. Next morning, when we went outside, we found that everything was covered with a heavy blanket of clinging snow, and the streams and the lake beginning to freeze over. We found, also, to our amazement, that a big bull-moose had been standing on the bank of Muskrat Creek and watching the smoke rising from our lodges as the fires were lighted at sunrise—just as I have shown in my picture which is sh own on page 27.
After a hurried breakfast, we three men set out in pursuit of the n»oose which we overtook within a mile, and then there was meat to haul on sleds to our camp.
That day the temperature fell rapidly, and by night the little streams were strongly frozen and around the lake the ice stretched far out from the shore. So we gathered up the canoes and stored them for the winter upside down upon stages made for the purpose; and that night before we turned in we saw, for the first time that season, Akwutinoowe—“The Freezing M oon. ’ ’
(The. next instalment of Arthur Healing's story of our great northern forests will appear in the January 1, 1921, issue.)