We have thus described a few of the most common instances of boats used by trappers, and with our full description and illustrations no one can go astray. A boat of some kind is almost an indispensable requisite to the trapper, and anyone of the foregoing will be found sufficient for all ordinary purposes.
A paddle may be used, and in shallow or muddy water a pusher or mud-stick will be found useful. This should consist of a pole seven or eight feet in length, supplied at the ends with an attachment of the shape of the letter U. This may be constructed in two pieces, firmly screwed to opposite sides of the end of the pole, and so formed as to present a curved crotch. Such a stick will be found very useful for pushing through weeds and muddy places. A simple pole trimmed so as to leave a crotch at the end will also answer the purpose very well.
These commodities are almost indispensable to the trapper where he pursues his vocation in the winter time, during the prevalence of deep snows. When properly made they permit the wearer to walk over the surface of the snow with perfect ease; where, without them, travel would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
In the regions of perpetual snow, and also in Canada and neighboring districts, snow-shoes are very commonly worn. In the latter localities the “snow-shoe race” forms one of the favorite sports of the season, and young and old alike join in its mysteries. Like riding on the velocipede, walking on snow-shoes looks “easy enough,” but we notice that a few somersaults are usually a convincing argument that the art is not as simple as it appears. The first experience on snow-shoes [Page 268] is apt to be at least undignifying, if not discouraging, and in order to get used to the strange capers and eccentricities of an ordinarily well-behaved snow shoe, it requires considerable patience and practice. There is no telling where, in an unguarded moment, they will land you, and they seem to take especial delight in stepping on each other and turning their wearer upside down. The principal secret of success (and one may as well know it at the start, as to learn it at the expense of a pint of snow down his back) consists in taking steps sufficiently long to bring the widest portion of the stepping shoe beyond that of the other, keeping the feet rather far apart and stepping pretty high. By observing these precautions, and trusting in Providence, much embarrassment may be saved, and an hour’s effort will thoroughly tame the unruly appendages, which at best do not permit of much grace or elegance of gait.