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Harding-Fifty Years a Hunter & Trapper

Harding-Fifty Years a Hunter & Trapper

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Published by: RonLayton on Feb 02, 2011
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Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper.

"No, that is all nonsense. Get the clamps out of the knap-

sack and we will set the bear trap. We set the trap this way so that

the bear goes in lengthways of the jaws, not crosswise of them.
We will now place the trap in this hole that we have dug out,

so that the water will be deep enough to cover the trap and be

sure that the jaws rest firmly on the ground, so that if the bear

should step on the jaws, the trap would not tip up. Some trappers

do not do this and then they think that the shy animal turned the

trap over. We will now cover the trap with those water soaked

leaves after which we will take this piece of moss as large as your

hand, and with this forked stick put the moss on it, and place it on

the pan of the trap."

"Would the bear smell it, if you put it on with your hands?"

"No, but if the trap should accidentally spring it would be better

to catch the stick than your hand. No'w we will cut this coon

carcass into two or three pieces and put it back in the bait pen about

three feet from the trap. There we have it fixed all right. We will
now go over the ridge to where there is another bear trap set and

will eat our lunch as we go along."

"How did you know that a fox would go on that log where

that trap was set?"

"By knowing the nature of the animal. When the fox smelled

the bear bait in the pen there, I knew that he would get on the

highest point near the pen to investigate and that point was that


"Is this the only way you catch foxes ?"

"No, that is only one of the many ways. Here we are; the

trap is right down in the head of this hollow; that is a dark place

down there, yes, that is the kind of a place that bears like to travel

through, I can see the pen, but I do not see the clog. Yes, the

clog is gone, I guess that Bruin has put his foot in it this tjme.
Now go still and look sharp and see if we can find him anywhere

for a bear will try hard and get away when they first see you. He

has gone this way, see how he has torn down the brush and. has

turned up those old logs. He will not do that long and after a

little we may be obliged to circle in places to find the trail. Here

he has gone up this steep side hill but he will not go far that ^yay.

Fred and the Old Trapper.


See how he has torn this old tree top up and gnawed those logs

and those trees, he has been past here. He has gone straight back

down the hill. Now he will keep along this side hill, for he may

cross this hollow back and forth three or four times before we find

him fast. Here is the trail again, he has gone back up the hill.
We will work up the hill so as to keep on the highest ground."

"You have followed these bear trails a good many times, haven't


"Yes, in 1900 I followed one seven days that broke the chain

and went up with the trap, and then another party ran across the

bear and killed it. I did not even get my trap back. They said

they hung the trap up in a tree and some one stole it."

"Hold on Fred, what is that away down there in the hollow?"

"That is the bear, he is trying to climb that tree, I do not

think he will make it, for the clog is. fast between those two small

saplings that stand by the large tree. We will go a little closer,

there no\, ! when he turns his head sideways take good aim and

put the ball square in the ear. A good job, Fred, he never knew

what hurt him. Now make a slit in the skin, right at the point of

the breast bone, and then stick him as you would a hog. Do not

cut the skin too much. Now Fred get the clamps out of the knap-

sack and we will see if we can get him out of the trap. Now we

will skin him as you would a beef with the exception, we will leave

the claws on, for the skins are a much better price where the feet

are left. We will be very careful not to cut the hide, for they

skin about as mean as a hog does. Well now we will hang the

foreparts up in this tree and take the skin and the saddles and

pull for camp."

"Are you not going to set the trap?"

"No, it will be dark before we get to camp now and we have

got a heavy load to carry, in fact, if it was anything but bear, we

would think we could not carry it."

"My, but this is getting heavy."

"Yes, Fred, but this all goes in with trapping and besides it

will improve the appetite."

"I guess so, for I am as hungry as a wolf."


Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper.

"Well, here we are at camp. Fred, you will find the lamp on

that shelf close up in the corner. You light it while I start the fire.
Now Fred you will find the key to the camp chest behind that ridge

post. Open the chest and take the blankets out so that they will be

airing. Now in, the other part of the chest you will find some

tin cups, plates, knives and forks, also some crackers, cheese and

ginger snaps. The cheese is done up in waxed paper. You can

put those things on the table while I go to the spring and get a pail

of water. Now, Fred, you raise that lid and you will find a box

sunk down in the ground, where you will find potatoes and bacon.

Get some out. You will find the coffee in a sack in the chest and

the coffee pot is hanging on that nail. You put the coffee on while

T get the potatoes."

"Oh, we cannot wait for potatoes to cook."

"Yes, we can, I will pare three or four and slice them up and

put them in the spider with a little water and some bits of pork

and by the time the coffee boils, the potatoes will be ready. Fred,

just hand me that lid so I can cover these potatoes over. You will

find a can of condensed milk and the sugar in the chest. Please set

them on the table while I fix the fire."

"You have plenty of good dry wood."

"Ves, I always come over to the camp before the trapping

season begins and cut up a good lot of wood. And those old ele-

vated stove ovens make the best kind of a stove for a camp. Fred,

you pour the coffee while I take the potatoes up and we will par-

take of this frugal meal. In the morning for breakfast we will

have bear steak, boiled partridge and buck-wheat cakes."

"Well Fred, I feel better, how is it with you?"

"Oh, I feel like a fighting cock now, but I was too hungry

for anything. Well Fred, the dish water is hot in that pan

on the stove, if you will wash the dishes, I will stretch those

skins and dress those partridges. Now if you will spread the

blankets on the bunk, I will mix the cakes for breakfast, and then

we will be ready for bed."
"How large is this camp?"
"The logs were cut fourteen and sixteen feet long, so that

makes it about twelve by fourteen on the inside. The roof is good

Fred and the Old Trapper.


and steep. Yes, I like a ridge roof and half pitch them, you do

not have to make the body so high. Yes, I always chunk well and

calk good with moss before I mud it, then you have a good warm

camp. Yes, I like to have a 12x20, two small sash in each gable."

"Does that roof leak?"

"No, a roof put on with good hemlock bark like that will not

leak and will last a long time. Fred we must bunk down for

we must be moving early in the morning."

"Come, Fred, turn out, I have breakfast about ready."
"Why it is not morning, is it?"

"Yes, it is six o'clock and we must be moving as soon as we

can see, for we have a big day's work before us. Yes, Fred, every-

thing tastes good in the woods. I suppose a keen appetite has

something to do with that. Well, it is light, so that we can see to

travel, so we will be going. Yes, Fred, you can come over with me

again and I will show you how to set traps, many different, ways,

to catch different animals, and we might have a bear in a pen."

"Do you catch bear in a pen?"

"Yes, and I like a pen for a bear better than a steel trap. No

getting away if the pen is properly made."

"Well, here is the bear trap and there has been a wild cat at

work at those inwards, so you see I did not bring that trap along

for nothing. Fred, you place a few of those bushy limbs around

on the upper side of those inwards, while I set the trap. There,

that is all right, we will staple to this limb. Yes, he will be quite

likely to get into the trap if he comes again, for he can't get at

the bait very well from any other way, only over the trap."

"How far is it from where the bear trap was set?"
"About one-half mile. Yes, I suppose he dragged that trap

three or four miles to get that distance. Here we are, it will not be

a long job to set that trap as he has not torn the bait trap down.

Fred, you get the clamps from the knapsack, while I cut that bushy

tree for a clog. Yes, we let those limbs stick out about ten inches

so that they will catch in the brush and on logs, and that bothers,

you see. Yes, those lungs and liver are all right for bait as long

as it is fresh. A bear does not like tainted meat. Well, that is

all right now, we will go to camp and get a bite to eat, and then


Fifty Years a Hunter and TrappEr.

pull for home and get the horse and wagon and come out and take

the bear meat and the skin in. Yes, we always ship the saddles to
New York, they oring a good price.

"Yes, it is more of a knack to stretch a bear skin right than any

other skin. Here we are at camp again, we will eat a bite and then

pull for home. Good bye, Fred, yes, you shall go again."


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