In the months of September and October trappers are much annoyed by gnats and mosquitoes, and, as a preventive against the attacks of these pests, we give on page 255 some valuable receipts, which have stood the test of time, and are still the most effective remedies. The “smudge,” consisting of a smouldering pile of birch bark is also used where the insects infest the tents or shanties by night. The bark should be dry, and should not be allowed to blaze. The smudge is generally placed at the entrance of the tent, and the trapper may then take his choice between smoke or mosquitoes, both cannot exist together, and a tent infested with the blood-thirsty pests may be effectually cleared in a few minutes by the introduction of smoking brand for a few seconds. If the tent is now closely buttoned and the smudge kept burning directly outside, there will be no further trouble with the mosquitoes, and the odor of the smoke is, after all, but a slight annoyance and to some is even enjoyable after being once accustomed to it. When the home shanty is infested, it may be cleared in the same way, and by the aid of two or more smudges on the windward side may be kept free from the insects.
The professional trapper on a campaign depends much upon his traps for his food, and often entirely contents himself with the subsistence thus gained. We encourage and believe in “roughing it” to a certain extent, but not to that limit to which it is often carried by many professional “followers of the trap” throughout our country. The course of diet to which these individuals subject themselves, would often do better credit to a half civilized barbarian than to an enlightened white man, and when it comes to starting on a campaign with no provision for food excepting a few traps, a gun, and a box of matches, and relying on a chance chip for a frying-pan, he would rather be “counted out.” In ordinary cases we see no necessity for such deprivation, and, on the other hand, we decry the idea of transporting a whole kitchen and larder into the woods. There is a happy medium between the two extremes, whereby a light amount of luggage in the shape of cooking utensils and closely packed portable food, may render the wild life of the trapper very cozy and comfortable, and his meals a source of enjoyment, instead of a [Page 231] fulfilment of physical duty. What with the stock of traps, necessary tools, blankets, etc., the trapper’s burden is bound to be pretty heavy, and it becomes necessary to select such food for transportation as shall combine the greatest amount of nutriment and the least possible weight, and to confine the utensils to those absolutely necessary for decent cooking.
The trapper’s culinary outfit may then be reduced to the following items, and in them he will find a sufficiency for very passable living.
One of the most nutritious and desirable articles of food consists of fine sifted Indian meal; and it is the only substantial article of diet which many trappers will deign to carry at all.