Saturday, November 18, 2017

Some Thoughts on Coon Hunting

  Well, here we are again. A month and a half away from the January Ham shoot, and a few months away from the annual Maple Sugar Camp. I am really excited and it's nice to have these things to look forward to. The ham is about to be ordered, the whiskey is being picked out by our expert in that field, member Brian Cushing and I'm looking to order some labels from a company in England that make period canned good labels.

 What else am I doing?

 Working on getting my coon hunting kit together. Since the beginning of reading "Back Then" and pouring through the HTT magazines, it's been my favorite subject. Back home my Amish neighbor and I would go coon hunting and as far as hunting goes, it's been my favorite. Unlike deer hunting or other bigger game where you spend the whole time sitting still, coon hunting allows you to pursue the game.

 It's such a wonderful rush that you get when you hear the dog has something treed. I have never hunted with hounds. My neighbor I mentioned before had an Australian Heeler that was one of the best. When he had treed the coon, he would begin to whimper and cry real loud. We'd come up on him and shine. Sure enough we'd see those two glowing eyes looking down on us.


 The equipment for coon hunting is pretty basic. You need light, a firearm and a dog.

We will start with light.

 Some coon hunters during the early 20th century were using carbide lamps however for me it will much easier to use a kerosine lantern.

  I'm really excited to see how hunting with a lantern like this will work. Obviously it does work, because they did it, but I've never experienced it before. 

Now to the firearm. 

 The only gun you need is a good single shot .22 . My good friend and member Matthew Fennewald recently said if he could only choose one gun to own, it would be a .22 . So which one will I be taking? Stevens single shot. 

 It's a great little gun and provides just the right amount of fire power. I recently took a ground hog with it, and from 40 yards I dropped it like a hammer. 

 My dog. 

 The dog, a Plott/Cur  is a young one, but I'm hoping he'll take to hunting. He's shown a lot of promise when I've taken him to the woods. Nose to the ground, head looking up, jumping up on trees. Everyone says to take your dog out with other dogs, but I don't know anyone around here so I'm just going to have to give it a go. 

 Wish me luck. I'm looking forward to getting out in the dark and chasing the ring tails again. 

-Jake Book, Member 002

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Ground Hog Adventure

October 24th, 1917

Today I decided to take the new pup, Simon to the woods. He's a Plot/Cur and a fine specimen of a hunting dog. Nose to the ground and head up looking for game.

We started down into the woods and he started to tracking. Made our way down a steep hill into the holler and found a good spot to sit and wait for movement.

About 5 feet from me Simon started to dig and whimper and let out a few "yips". He had found a chipmunk but when I went to help him the chipmunk darted away to safety.

After that we made our way up the other side of the hill along a rocky creek bed. As we went I looked about 40 yards ahead and saw what I thought was a ground hog. I took a few more steps and saw his head move, brought my gun up, aimed quickly and fired. He fell instantly and Simon and I ran up to make sure he was good and dead. When Simon arrived he grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and shook him a good time or two.
Simon is gonna be a fine dog.

-Jake Book, Kentucky

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hiking in the Smokies by Brent Schubert

While visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently I decided to spend some time in early 20th century period attire. During the 1920s the idea of creating another National Park in the East was gaining traction through the work of people like Horace Kephart. Tourists were starting to spend more time visiting and hiking in the Smoky Mountains, even before the National park was chartered in 1934. In 1924 the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club was formed. The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club made group outings, hiking in the mountains, and engaged in conservation and trail maintenance. Several photos of club outings and other hikers in the Smokies exist to give us an example of the kind of clothing and equipment used by hikers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I used these photos to guide my own impression of a late 1920s Smoky Mountains hiker on my trip to the park.

One unique piece of equipment I've noticed in period photos of hikers in the Smokies is a surplus WWI US gas mask bag worn with the strap extended and slung over the shoulder. I've yet to find evidence of this practice in photos from anywhere else. I thought it was such an interesting use of a piece of WWI surplus gear, that decided to wear a reproduction bag in the same manner on my hike. Another piece of equipment that shows up in those period photos is the surplus M1910 canteen, often worn on a waist belt. In one Smoky Mountains Club group photo an individual appears to be wearing the canteen with the M1917 mounted canteen cover slung over his shoulder with a leather strap.

Inside my surplus gas mask bag I carried a few items for a short day hike in the mountains. I had my 1917 copy of Horace Kephart's "Camping and Woodcraft" in honor of the man who spent so much time in the Smokies, and worked to save the Smoky Mountains as a national park. In fact it was in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains where Kephart wrote "Camping and Woodcraft." I also carried my circa 1920 Kodak folding autographic camera in the bag. As well as a small tin of Lollacapop (a period bug repellant), my Swedish barrel knife, a handkerchief, and an old tobacco tin which contained some matches along with a separate tin which holds my flint and steel fire starting kit. Tucked in my belt I wore my "Sierra Cup" to dip into a mountain spring should I come across one. Cups like this were carried by members of early 20th century hiking clubs, including the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. To carry drinking water with me in the hot Southern sun of east Tennessee I carried a WWI surplus M1910 canteen on my belt.

With this equipment, and dressed in period clothing common to outdoorsmen of the late 1920s, I spent a morning hiking in the mountains around an old circa 1820 Tennessee log cabin I was staying at near the national park. From the cabin I hiked across an open mountain meadow, down to a small pond. After skirting around the pond, I entered the woods on a trail that wandered around the mountains for a bit. The September sun of east Tennessee was much hotter than what I was used to coming from Michigan. The cool of the morning was beginning to quickly turn to a very hot day as the sun rose above the mountains. After a little while I sat down to take a break and observe the mountains while I took a drink from my canteen. Eventually I made my way back to the cabin the way I had come. It was a short hike, but an enjoyable period experience nonetheless. Hiking in the mountains in period clothing during the summer months takes a little more stamina than modern summer hiking in lightweight synthetic clothing. But it is possible. The extra weight and heat of wearing early 20th century clothing in warm weather forces you to slow down a bit, but it is still an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

-Brent Schubert-

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall is Coming, Memberships and Writing

Well, as I sit here in the somewhat humid state of Kentucky, I can feel fall weather just waiting around the corner and I for one can't wait. Fall is the time of year where I really start to get back in touch with my love for this time period.

 I thought I would maybe do some reviewing of what has happened in the last year and once again like a beating a tired old horse offer up my thoughts on the original vision for ETCS and what I think the future could hold.

 The vision began many many years ago with my father, David Book (member 0001). The idea was to recreate the golden age of hunting, trapping, camping and outdoors activities. An influential book was called "Back Then : A Pictorial History of Americans Afield". Our plan was simply to hold a few period camps on our farm, maybe invite a few like minds and do some shooting. Nothing to big. We certainly didn't envision it getting very big, and honestly it's not necessarily what we wanted. To often, as things grow, different ideas about the direction and vision begin to be offered, infighting begins and suddenly you have a split or the whole thing just folds all together. Obviously we don't want this to happen.

 Over the last year, interest in ETCS has exploded. It's truly been amazing and to be honest, I didn't really know how to handle it. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

 As I saw it, I had two options in front of me. Include everyone or exclude some people.

 Part of our vision for ETCS was that we would maintain a high level of authenticity in our portrayals if we kept it small and membership limited. That way we could make certain that everyone was on the same page. But with the group growing, we didn't want anybody with a pair of bibs and a flannel shirt to be able to affiliate with us. It was becoming a sticky situation as the facebook group requests began piling up.

 After talking with Matthew Fenewald (member 0003 and Vice President of ETCS) and a few other early members we came to the conclusion that the facebook group we had would be open to anyone with a casual interest in ETCS and that if a person had their kit together and wanted to submit for official membership they could do so. Official members become so based on a kit review and then are added to the membership roll and then become eligible to attend ETCS Members Only Events. This will ensure that we maintain this high level of authenticity as mentioned before.

 So what do we do for the casual folks who would like to come out and see what all the fuss is about?

 We are currently working on a sort of "Sportsman Convention" of sorts where ETCS will hold a camp open to all interested persons to come take a look and participate. This will give aspiring members a chance to meet the members of ETCS and to maybe make some purchases to add to their kits and improve their impressions.

 In short, I am really excited about what the future holds!

 On a last note, I am wanting to encourage the membership and even non members after review to submit to the blog :

-Hunting Stories
-Camping Tutorials
-Equipment Reviews
-Firearm Reviews
-Hunting Dog Advice
-Dog Sledding

 Please consider this as we get out into the woods this fall. Our counterparts wrote into the sporting magazines of the day and related all kinds of great stories, advice and tips for the sportsman. I'm sure we can come up with some of our own!

 Here's to an excellent season of sporting,

-Jake, Member 0002-

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Economy Sportsman

 It was recently asked of me to put together a list of kit items that one would need to hit the woods, but that wouldn't break the bank. So here is what I'm calling the Economy Kit. In some cases there simply just isn't an inexpensive option. I'll try to give alternatives wherever I can. This list does not include your firearm and accoutrements. Just your head to toe start up kit.

 Starting from top to bottom.

 There are MANY options for ones headwear. The two hat styles that I would recommend that would be cheaper than buying a nice derby or a broad brimmed hat, would be the Scotch Cap or the 8 piece walking cap. Both of these can be purchased at River Junction Trading Co. out of McGregor Iowa (I'll be referencing them a lot.)

 PRICE : $39.95

  Other hat options if your impression falls squarely in the 1920s would be the Stormy Kromer hat. Same price.

 Shirts seem to be fairly standard by this point in history. I would recommend any of the Drover style shirts offered by River Junction.

 PRICE : $59.95

  With trousers I would also again recommend the trousers of River Junction. This Duck Trouser really fits the bill. There are also wool trousers too, but stick with the Duck. They are good and sturdy and will be useful in the woods. Just layer up with some long johns in cold weather.

 PRICE : $69.95

 For socks, I would simply recommend army socks from your local Army Navy surplus store. I bought a pair for something like $4.00. You can also buy wool socks from your local men's store or the red topped socks. These will work well.

 I'd also recommend the Rockford Red Heel sock that dates back to our period.

PRICE : $14.00 (2 pair)

 For shoes there really isn' an economy shoe. I usually don't like to make concessions so I would say for outdoors work, the Rothco Rubber Boot or the CLC Rain Wear would be good choices. The Rothco boot to me really fits the shape of the classic rubber boots of our period and is modestly priced.

 PRICE : Rothco Boot $39.99
               CLC : $24.24

If you have a good old fashioned work boot, these could work as well.

TOTAL : Around $220.00 depending on what you buy.

This will be all you need to hit the woods in the style of the Early 20th Century Sportsman. If you have any questions, please write to me at If you or your wife is handy with a needle I can recommend some patterns that will bring the cost down.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thoughts from the Klondike

 As late fall settles in and winter quickly approaches, I always get a longing to go up North. How far North you ask? Well any distance would be good. Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan? That's about as far North in the states as you can go without making a trip up to Alaska. And speaking of Alaska, I recently came across some cool images while studying about the Klondike Gold Rush, a period of time that really fascinates me. 

 Sportsman of the early 20th century heading North for game or for gold had to be outfitted. Clothing is of course a big part of putting together your early 20th century attire. And for you men of the North these photographs provide some great insight. Enjoy. 

 Some good examples of clothing worn in the North in the Klondike. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Examples of Shelters

 As hunting and trapping season is very soon to be upon us, I was thinking about the various styles of shelter appropriate for the Early 20th Century camp.

 Many styles are appropriate. The Wedge and Wall tent seem to be the most common that you see. These styles of tents could easily be purchased. The Fulton Wall Tent as well as the "rope ridge" wedge tent and a regular wedge appear in the Sears and Roebuck catalog of the day. You could order them in a multitude of sizes.

 The other second common option was the lean-to. That is currently what I've been doing mainly because I don't have a period camp stove yet for my wedge. With a lean-to I can build a fire in front and let that heat reflect into it creating a nice cozy place to sleep. I'm putting some photos here of some tent set ups from the period. Happy camping!