Archive for the ‘Trapping’ Category
One of my favorite beaver flowages to trap was first found on a satellite map. It’s a two mile ride on a bicycle followed by a 1 mile walk through the woods to get there, and it takes about two hours to get in and out with gear. I enjoy the time spent in the woods and noticing all the subtle changes that occur from year to year as I make the annual trips in there. Free from competition from other trappers I can manage the flowage by only taking a couple of beavers and ensure that each year the area will have beaver to harvest. The flowage has produced some really big beavers over the years and should continue too as long as the aspen keeps growing…a true backwoods beaver.
Another backwoods flowage;
Here’s an example of the work involved once you get the beaver out of the woods;
The cool air hit my face and blew through my sweater as I took the bike off the back of the truck and started the long trek into the woods. With two weeks off of work I was running a trapline on a large tract of gated land near my house. The landowner allows access for recreational pursuits and I like getting away from any potential competition so I was looking at a 6 mile round trip, often times done with a very heavy load. My friend Peter this year suggested I try using a baby carrier towed behind the bike to help take the load off my back and it has worked out well despite probably looking a little funny. That was my thought at least this morning when I saw a truck come around the corner ahead of me – he’s seeing someone on a bike wearing hip boots and towing a baby carrier out in the middle of nowhere, and for me I wondering who he is since he obviously has a key to the gate. As is customary on a Maine woods road during the deer hunting season we stopped to talk it over and I was reminded about why I love Maine. Our conversation went like this;
Hows that rig working out for you?
No – fresh crossing just up the way though, but I’m not hunting – I’m trapping.
What are you trapping?
Beaver – just caught two up there where the road is washed out -might still be one more in there. Want to see them? One of them is huge…beaver in a baby carriage (laughing)
Sure!! (hops out of truck)
That’s awesome! Good for you coming out here getting some exercise – I’m the forester for this area and I’ve had to replace that culvert three times over the past few years – that’s awesome you’re in there catching them. You know, the landowner has this really funny rule about not allowing bicycles in here…
really? I had no idea – I thought everyone was bike friendly -
It’s fine, not something I agree with (pulls out a map) let me show you on here where there is some other beaver….
I believe that’s how things are supposed to work – In an increasingly black and white world we need more gray. I love that most people from Maine get that and embrace it. You can check out more stories like this in The Two Maines and PO Box 311.
I have now been forty-two years in this country. For twenty-four of those years I was a light canoeman. I required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than I required. No portage was too long for me; all portages were alike. My end of the canoe never touched the ground till I saw the end of it. Fifty songs a day were nothing to me. I could carry, paddle, walk and sing with any man I ever saw. I pushed on – over rapids, over cascades, over chutes; all were the same to me. No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song. I was once possessed of five horses and six running dogs trimmed in the first style. I was then like a bourgeois, rich and happy. I wanted for nothing. Five hundred pounds twice told have passed through my hands, although now I have not a spare shirt to my back nor a penny to buy one. Yet, were I young I should glory in commencing the same career. I would spend another half-century in the same fields of enjoyment. There is no life so happy as a voyageur’s life; none so independent; no place where a man enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the Indian country. Huzza, huzza! Pour le pays sauvage!
(As told to a Hudson Bay interviewer)
A poem by Robert Service
And when I come to the dim trail-end,
I who have been Life’s rover,
This is all I would ask, my friend,
Over and over and over:
A little space on a stony hill
With never another near me,
Sky o’ the North that’s vast and still,
With a single star to cheer me;
Star that gleams on a moss-gray stone
Graven by those who love me –
There would I lie alone, alone,
With a single pine above me;
Pine that the north wind whinnies through –
Oh, I have been Life’s rover!
But there I’d lie and listen to
Eternity passing over.
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is the oldest commercial operation in North American, and one of the oldest in the world. Originally and famous for being a fur trading company it now owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada. Incorporated in 1670 HBC even functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America, and controlled the fur trade for several centuries at one time being the largest landowner in the world. It was Hudson Bay trappers that formed the first relationships with Native Americans and comprised some of the first exploration of the New World. Hudson Bay wool blankets were legendary. Known as “point blankets” they were traded for pelts with Native Americans the number of stripes (points) woven into the blanket indicating it’s weight and size. Between 1820 and 1870 HBC even issued its own paper money, denominated in pounds sterling and printed in London.
A film of some of the company’s history is now being resurrected by a group called Return of the Far Fur Country, whose blog you can see here.
The original film was called Romance of the Far Fur Country, and was made by HBC for their 250th birthday, but the film quickly became obscure as by the end of the 20’s “talkies” were coming out and films consisting of just moving pictures were not in demand. The Romance of the Far Fur Country was archived in London for safe keeping.
Return of the Far Fur Country is all about putting what is perhaps the most important record of northern Canadian life, back on the screen.
Unbeknownst to the filmmakers in 1919, their footage has become an extraordinary time-capsule, a moving history of how Canada has developed as a nation. That is why the goal of the project is not only to bring the film back to Canada, but to bring it back to the very communities where it was shot.
This return to local communities will be held in town-hall screenings to provide a place for local people to view their ancestors on film, tell stories of how the country has changed, and help name the people and places that appear in the film.
This very unique tour will go not only to cities like Montreal, Winnipeg and Victoria—places that feature in the HBC film—it’s also going back to some of the most remote locations in Canada. The tour includes Northern Alberta, Nunuvut, Alert Bay off Vancouver Island, and Northern Ontario.
An absolutely amazing piece of literally world history.
I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting out my game cam and seeing what I can catch on film. I’ll save left over food from home to put out to see what predators come in, and recently, my friend Peter had a great idea for a do it yourself long term game feeder. Like all good ideas it’s simple and easy to do. Just take a PVC pipe and cut it to a desired length – the one Peter made that I tried was about 5 feet in length and will hold a 50 pound bag of grain or more. You could increase the length to be able to add more grain and save yourself trips out to the feeder. The key is to place the bottom of the tube at ground level or just a millimeter or two above – that way the grain isn’t all over the ground in the elements, and critters can paw at the bottom to get more food taking advantage of gravity flow. It works a lot better, in my opinion, than the timed broadcast feeder I bought a number of years ago from Cabelas – with the broadcast feeder it’s spewing out food that is not being eaten and I would often arrive to fill the feeder to find the entire contents had been emptied onto the ground without being eaten. With this much simpler and cheaper method, the food stays put – dry and protected until something actually comes by to eat it. You can see in the pictures below that I attached the pipe to the tree with just a ratchet strap, you could also use duct tape or a number of other methods. You can also paint the PVC pipe if you feel so inclined. For the top you can use any number of items that can cover the hole to keep the elements out – I cut the top off a plastic whiskey bottle and put it over the top and it worked great. Peter made a few of these, and I put one out for a week – I set it up quickly with just the ratchet strap and there wasn’t a feed store open on the Sunday that I put it out, so I simply put in 10 pounds of guinea pig feed I grabbed at Wal Mart. Corn or sweet feed for horses or any type of grain will work. In a weeks time I had 69 pictures, the guinea pig feed was completely gone and the ground at the bottom of the feeder was pawed and dug up. Here are some of the best pics that I got, taken on a wildgame camera – reasonably priced as far as game cameras go, and takes good pictures -
I also wanted to add a disclaimer that feeding wildlife, especially deer over the long term is not a good idea. I have witness several deer over the years that have died from malnutrition in the winter because of “good samaritans” that thought they were helping by putting out food. There are some very good reasons listed here. It should only be done on a limited short term basis.
Another one of my favorite Robert Service poems;
There was Claw-fingered Kitty and Windy Ike living the life of shame,
When unto them in the Long, Long Night came the man-who-had-no-name;
Bearing his prize of a black fox pelt, out of the Wild he came.
His cheeks were blanched as the flume-head foam when the brown spring freshets flow;
Deep in their dark, sin-calcined pits were his sombre eyes aglow;
They knew him far for the fitful man who spat forth blood on the snow.
“Did ever you see such a skin?” quoth he; “there’s nought in the world so fine–
Such fullness of fur as black as the night, such lustre, such size, such shine;
It’s life to a one-lunged man like me; it’s London, it’s women, it’s wine.
“The Moose-hides called it the devil-fox, and swore that no man could kill;
That he who hunted it, soon or late, must surely suffer some ill;
But I laughed at them and their old squaw-tales.
Ha! Ha! I’m laughing still.
“For look ye, the skin–it’s as smooth as sin, and black as the core of the Pit.
By gun or by trap, whatever the hap, I swore I would capture it;
By star and by star afield and afar, I hunted and would not quit.
“For the devil-fox, it was swift and sly, and it seemed to fleer at me;
I would wake in fright by the camp-fire light, hearing its evil glee;
Into my dream its eyes would gleam, and its shadow would I see.
“It sniffed and ran from the ptarmigan I had poisoned to excess;
Unharmed it sped from my wrathful lead (’twas as if I shot by guess);
Yet it came by night in the stark moonlight to mock at my weariness.
“I tracked it up where the mountains hunch like the vertebrae of the world;
I tracked it down to the death-still pits where the avalanche is hurled;
From the glooms to the sacerdotal snows, where the carded clouds are curled.
“From the vastitudes where the world protrudes through clouds like seas up-shoaled,
I held its track till it led me back to the land I had left of old–
The land I had looted many moons. I was weary and sick and cold.
“I was sick, soul-sick, of the futile chase, and there and then I swore
The foul fiend fox might scathless go, for I would hunt no more;
Then I rubbed mine eyes in a vast surprise–it stood by my cabin door.
“A rifle raised in the wraith-like gloom, and a vengeful shot that sped;
A howl that would thrill a cream-faced corpse–and the demon fox lay dead. . . .
Yet there was never a sign of wound, and never a drop he bled.
“So that was the end of the great black fox, and here is the prize I’ve won;
And now for a drink to cheer me up–I’ve mushed since the early sun;
We’ll drink a toast to the sorry ghost of the fox whose race is run.”
Now Claw-fingered Kitty and Windy Ike, bad as the worst were they;
In their road-house down by the river-trail they waited and watched for prey;
With wine and song they joyed night long, and they slept like swine by day.
For things were done in the Midnight Sun that no tongue will ever tell;
And men there be who walk earth-free, but whose names are writ in hell–
Are writ in flames with the guilty names of Fournier and Labelle.
Put not your trust in a poke of dust would ye sleep the sleep of sin;
For there be those who would rob your clothes ere yet the dawn comes in;
And a prize likewise in a woman’s eyes is a peerless black fox skin.
Put your faith in the mountain cat if you lie within his lair;
Trust the fangs of the mother-wolf, and the claws of the lead-ripped bear;
But oh, of the wiles and the gold-tooth smiles of a dance-hall wench beware!
Wherefore it was beyond all laws that lusts of man restrain,
A man drank deep and sank to sleep never to wake again;
And the Yukon swallowed through a hole the cold corpse of the slain.
The black fox skin a shadow cast from the roof nigh to the floor;
And sleek it seemed and soft it gleamed, and the woman stroked it o’er;
And the man stood by with a brooding eye, and gnashed his teeth and swore.
When thieves and thugs fall out and fight there’s fell arrears to pay;
And soon or late sin meets its fate, and so it fell one day
That Claw-fingered Kitty and Windy Ike fanged up like dogs at bay.
“The skin is mine, all mine,” she cried; “I did the deed alone.”
“It’s share and share with a guilt-yoked pair”, he hissed in a pregnant tone;
And so they snarled like malamutes over a mildewed bone.
And so they fought, by fear untaught, till haply it befell
One dawn of day she slipped away to Dawson town to sell
The fruit of sin, this black fox skin that had made their lives a hell.
She slipped away as still he lay, she clutched the wondrous fur;
Her pulses beat, her foot was fleet, her fear was as a spur;
She laughed with glee, she did not see him rise and follow her.
The bluffs uprear and grimly peer far over Dawson town;
They see its lights a blaze o’ nights and harshly they look down;
They mock the plan and plot of man with grim, ironic frown.
The trail was steep; ’twas at the time when swiftly sinks the snow;
All honey-combed, the river ice was rotting down below;
The river chafed beneath its rind with many a mighty throe.
And up the swift and oozy drift a woman climbed in fear,
Clutching to her a black fox fur as if she held it dear;
And hard she pressed it to her breast–then Windy Ike drew near.
She made no moan–her heart was stone–she read his smiling face,
And like a dream flashed all her life’s dark horror and disgrace;
A moment only–with a snarl he hurled her into space.
She rolled for nigh an hundred feet; she bounded like a ball;
From crag to crag she carromed down through snow and timber fall; . . .
A hole gaped in the river ice; the spray flashed–that was all.
A bird sang for the joy of spring, so piercing sweet and frail;
And blinding bright the land was dight in gay and glittering mail;
And with a wondrous black fox skin a man slid down the trail.
A wedge-faced man there was who ran along the river bank,
Who stumbled through each drift and slough, and ever slipped and sank,
And ever cursed his Maker’s name, and ever “hooch” he drank.
He travelled like a hunted thing, hard harried, sore distrest;
The old grandmother moon crept out from her cloud-quilted nest;
The aged mountains mocked at him in their primeval rest.
Grim shadows diapered the snow; the air was strangely mild;
The valley’s girth was dumb with mirth, the laughter of the wild;
The still, sardonic laughter of an ogre o’er a child.
The river writhed beneath the ice; it groaned like one in pain,
And yawning chasms opened wide, and closed and yawned again;
And sheets of silver heaved on high until they split in twain.
From out the road-house by the trail they saw a man afar
Make for the narrow river-reach where the swift cross-currents are;
Where, frail and worn, the ice is torn and the angry waters jar.
But they did not see him crash and sink into the icy flow;
They did not see him clinging there, gripped by the undertow,
Clawing with bleeding finger-nails at the jagged ice and snow.
They found a note beside the hole where he had stumbled in:
“Here met his fate by evil luck a man who lived in sin,
And to the one who loves me least I leave this black fox skin.”
And strange it is; for, though they searched the river all around,
No trace or sign of black fox skin was ever after found;
Though one man said he saw the tread of HOOFS deep in the ground.