Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

The Early 20th Century Sportsman would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!
1914 Christmas Card

Monday, December 8, 2014

Adventure on a Des Moines River Trap Line : Part 2

Adventure on a Des Moines River Trap Line
Part Two

With the image of those two beavers inside their den I could scarce think about or talk about anything else as we made our way back to the cabin.  By the time we got to the last set it was near dark and we discovered a fine red fox recently caught.  Jerry dispatched him, reset his trap and off we went.  The fox was amazing and very exciting but the beaver still had my attention.  

It was getting colder and despite the quick pace we moved at I was not heating up like I had earlier in the day.  My coat that I had shed when we started no longer seemed adequate to keep me warm.  It was by now very dark in the woods despite a half moon and like every kid in every dark forest through out history I started to see things moving in the shadows, sounds that were NOT there in the daylight!  Suddenly my brother stopped, he must be seeing and hearing the same thing!  I swung around to check behind to see if I was about to be overtaken by.......  Jerry turned and pointed ahead of us, "Do you see that?"  I peered ahead into the darkness and saw a glow of light on up the hill towards the edge of the timber.  My brother cautioned me to move quietly till we could see what was going on.  Now you all remember what it was like to be 10 years old, a long way from home, dark woods, cold, wind picking up and unknown glow ahead.  It could be robbers hiding out from the Sheriff,  or moonshiners...

So, here we are, its sure to be...before I could finish my thought my brother stands up and hollers out, "Hello in the camp, we're coming back from checking our trap line, do you mind if we come in?"  Why would he do that, give away our position??? From behind the glow, which by now I could clearly see was a camp fire, I heard a voice holler back to come on ahead.  By now I am shaking, might have been the cold but mostly I just remember being scared at that point!

The closer we got my fears were vanquished a little with each step as it became increasingly obvious that there was just one man sitting in front of his lean-to cooking over a camp fire.  His Winchester was leaned up against one of the poles holding up his canvas, some traps were hanging off the pole on the other side.  Behind him was a bed roll with a red Hudson Bay blanket on top.  A trappers basket was at the pole with the traps hanging and he was sitting at his fire pushing some coals closer to something on the other side.  He asked us to come on in and sit under the lean-to, said it would be warmer there and it was.  Then he told us we were just in time to have some of his desert.  Next thing I know to my wide eyed amazement out from across the fire came a pan with a chocolate cake.  He told us he was sorry there was no icing for it but he said its pretty tasty just out of his reflector oven. He was right! Warm cake, a warm fire and out of the wind, I thought this was the life for me, I was going to become a trapper, a man of the woods.
Returning to the cabin my brother got the fire going in the wood stove and opened up a couple cans of corned beef hash.  He said after supper we would skin the beavers and the fox.  
We had stayed a Steve's camp for almost an hour, enjoying the cake, swapping trapping stories and finding out that he knew our Grand parents by way of his grand parents that lived about five miles from ours.  What a day, I was sure it couldn't get any better than this!!!  

Until next time, keep the fire going.
David Book

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Coon Hunt in Southern Ohio (HTT Vo.18, Issue 5)


This hunt which I am about to relate took place Novemher 17, 1908. It was just after an electric storm on said date that I decided to try my coon dog recently purchased. My cousin, who lives a few miles north of here had been telling of seeing so many coon tracks coming and going from Stonellck Creek, seeking water, for we have never experienced such a drought in Ohio before.

 I hitched to the buggy and started for my cousin's, seven miles distant. On arriving there I found that he was just as anxious as I was, so we, four In number, J. Soth, H. D. Conner, S. E. Crossnickle and myself, started for the big woods. Just before reaching the forest my dog gave a yell that almost sounded like a panther and started toward the timber, and we in pursuit.
 Some of you brother hunters may imagine how many falls we got In that race, but I cannot. We were almost run down when he barked treed, and we were pleased to think that it was not a fox, as we supposed. We all hurried to the tree and found It to be a big sugar, but no coon was on the outside.

 We had noticed a hole just above the first limb so I decided to "coon" it up to the hole and look in, but when I got up there I found the tree hollow clear to the ground.
 We didn't have an axe so the boys got to hunting around the tree and found a little decayed place and commenced cutting a hole with their pen knives, and I didn't like the idea of climbing down without seeing Mr. Coon, but the boys couldn't get a hole through the tree so I got down and picked up the old shot gun and three shots rang out on the night air and a hole was thru the tree. We tried to smoke him out but failed.

 Just at that moment two more hunters came to us and wanted to know what we had treed. Cut that hole bigger and let the dog decide the matter, spoke one of the hunters. We did so, for we had an axe to work with this time, and we knew his dog claimed to be the best in the country.
So he put his dog to the hole and he smelt and took a circle of the tree and started down through the woods. The coon had left the tree every one of the party said and started in pursuit of the supposed coon and I thought my new dogs was a fake so I followed, but my dog still stayed at the tree.

 We followed the other dog about four or five hours and he gave it up, so we all came back to the tree where we left my dog, and he was still there. My cousin decided to settle the matter, so he climbed up and told us to hand him a Are brand. We gave him one, and as soon as he ran It up In the tree Mrs. Coon pops out. A fight took place in which my dog was the winner, and three more peeped their heads out of the same hole but fell dead before my cousin's pistol.
We started for home just at the break of day with four coons, three opossum, six skunk. The old she coon weighed 32 lbs , the biggest one that I ever saw In Southern Ohio.
-John Stouder, Warren Co., Ohio.

*from the February 1909 Issue of the Hunter Trader Trapper magazine 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Trap Shoot

Remington Expert Trap Thrower

Happy Thanksgiving! A tradition in our family (the Book family) has always been, on Thanksgiving to go out and shoot guns. Not just any guns, but guns of a more historical nature. So as to not break tradition this year was no different, but for a new addition.

 Dad recently got some old trap throwers. One is a Remington Arms Expert and the other....
 We had to do a little work to get the Remington up and going adding a rope and such. After a few tries we got her tightened up and throwing just fine.

 The "Expert" model trap was patented in 1882 by Eley Brothers LTD. London. The Remington "Expert" is identical but has the Remington name on it which we can assume they bought the patent and reproduced them.

  We had a great time getting it up and going and even more fun shooting. This will be a great addition to our "Early 20th Century Sportsman" activities in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Adventure on a Des Moines River Trap Line : Part 1

Way back when I was a lad, about 10 or 11, learning the ways of forest and trail I was allowed to spend a few days with my oldest brother Jerry working his trap-line on the Des Moines River in Boone County Iowa. I was dropped off one very cold December afternoon at the cabin my brother was using as his base camp for trapping beaver, muskrat, mink and coon in the woods owned by our great uncle Jim Brooks.

Jim was a feisty old boy, my grandmother Flossie's brother, who was always telling tales or pulling pranks.  Most vivid in my memory was at the funeral of my Grandfather Verne's brother Frank.  We had gone through the service, been to the cemetery and were back at the church for sandwiches and punch.  Jim, always a talker, was going around the room from one group to the next.  There always seemed to be a bit of a stir as he left each group but from where I was I could not see what was going on.  Soon Jim approached the young people all gathered in one corner of the church basement and began to tell us about his brother-in-law Frank.  He seemed to be getting very emotional telling us the story of Frank telling him how he wanted to die when that time came.  Next thing I knew he was acting as if he was feeling ill, dizzy and as he reached for the table to steady himself he turned his head bent over and vomited in his hand.  Oh my, he turned back to us displaying to us what he had just deposited in his hand.  There was a great gasp and then he started to laugh and dropped his "vomit" from one hand to the other, gave us a smile and a wink and moved on to his next victims.

Now you ask, "What does that have to do with trapping?"  I will tell you straight up, nothing!  It is just one of those "bunny trails" sometimes story tellers go down.  So, I arrive at the cabin just in time to go check the trapline.  Temperature was in the teens but the work of picking our way through the timber was keeping me so warm I had to shed my coat.  By the time we got to the first set I was huffin and puffin and the trap had been sprung.  Jerry reset it and off we went to the next and the next and the next.  I marveled that he could remember where they all were, so I asked, unable to figure it out for myself.  He said he made of a map when he put all the sets out, if he moved a set he noted it on his map.  After the two weeks that he had already been there he was able to remember and only pulled out his map to note a change.

On we went finally coming to the river to check his water sets.  The river was mostly frozen so he got out his axe to break the ice so he could check the trap below.  I remember a couple of beaver that day, they seemed much larger than I expected.  As he was packing them into his pack I saw the dome of a beaver house at the rivers edge.  My questions started to fly. How do they cut all those sticks?  What's inside?  How do they get inside?  Jerry answered the questions than did the unexpected!  Out came his axe and he started to hack a hole in the side of the den.  Finally he had an opening for me to see, he handed me a lamp and I slowly and carefully moved to where I could see in.  The den was empty, ice was all the way around and there was a hole in the middle, their entrance.  I'm sure I was all grins as I turned my self and the lamp away from the den, then the sound of a splash.  The sound caused me to jump back a bit, Jerry told me to look back inside.  I was astonished to see a beaver had come up and was sitting on the ice shelf, presently a second beaver appeared from the black hole of water.  They seemed mostly unconcerned about the breech in their fortress home, but with the light in their eyes they were probably quite perplexed.

As we pulled away to prepare for the return to the cabin checking, a few more sets along the way, I asked how or if they could fix the hole.  My brother told we would find that out when we check the line tomorrow.

Part Two coming Soon

David Book, Kentucky

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Wolfer

Montana Wolf, 100 pounds, 1920s 

The Wolfer. 

A battered skillet with handle long,
A bunch of traps with the swivels strong, 
The genuine old Newhouse make, 
As for the "drag" I wouldn't take.

A marble axe with folding pick,
It stands the racket and falls to nick,
A writing tablet of paper tuff, 
I find for covering is just the stuff. 

Your matches roll in a Towers fish brand,
They have never wet and never can, 
As for grub and what 'twill be, 
You will have to read the H-T-T. 

The best anchor's the Picket Pin, 
It's held 'em afore, it will again, 
Cayuses three and saddles the same, 
Two built on a sawhorse frame, 
The other with "F. Meaney's" name. 

Scabbards and hobbles, tarps and rope,
We're about ready to hit a lope, 
With a lay like this and your 303,
And your subscription paid to the H-T-T.
And shells galore of the Red W make,
I reckon we'll manage to make a stake. 
                                                      -Hamilton, the Hunter, Montana

* Taken from the February, 1909 edition of the Hunter Trader Trapper Magazine. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Iowa Pheasant Story

A Pheasant Story

On the farm in Iowa, back then.

Pheasant Hunters, South Dakota circa 1920 

Always, on the farm, priorities led the way!  Certain things just had to be done before those little pleasures of life could be taken up.  In the fall before any thoughts of hunting or trapping could be engaged the harvest must first be completed.  That old farm country adage: 'You have to make hay while the sun shines', fell right into harvesting crops before the snow flies!

This particular year, lets see, well it was way back then, the harvest had been free of those things that slow it down. You know, equipment break downs, rain, rain and then more rain, livestock escaping their fences...things of that sort.  None of those interferences had reared their heads and the harvest was swift.
So, with the last ear of corn in the granary my brother Loren and I dusted and cleaned our shotguns so as to be ready to head to the field in the morning.  Now hunting after the harvest and on Thanksgiving was kind of a family tradition. Other than that for most of the family it was not enjoyed much apart from those times. My desires tended to be more ravenous, but alas I was still a bit of a sprout in those days and was not allowed to go out alone.  So, guns all ready the next morning we headed out.  We tramped through the corn field, through the tall grass surrounding the corn field, through the ditches and draws and into and out of the evergreen grove.  Not a pheasant, not a cotton tail or a jack rabbit, not a fox, not even an old possum!  All of these critters had been seen in bounty during harvest, but now gone.

Thats just the way of it, those animals seemed to just know that "man was in the forest".  Referring to the Thornton Burgess books my mother had read us about such woodland characters as Little Joe Otter, Jerry Muskrat and Ole Uncle Billy Possum always fearing man and hiding when he came into the forest!  I was sure these rabbits and pheasants just knew and were hiding where we could not see.

Well after some lengthy hours of hunting my brother and I came together at our property fence line, set our gun butts on the ground and puzzled over the disappearance of all the game.  Without warning from 2 or 3 feet to my left jumps a rooster pheasant, runs a few steps and takes flight.  Faster than i thought possible both my equally startled brother and I swung our guns and fired at the same instant.  Smoke and feathers is all we saw, that bird could not have gotten more than 12 to 15 yards away when all the force of two 16 gauge shotguns with #6 shot hit that bird.  The left over 'parts' seemed less than edible as we pondered weather to present this mess to Mother for tomorrows dinner.  After some discussion with thoughts being verbalized like, "well here is a bit of meat" and "do you see his legs" we decided a meal was lost.  Good shooting though, fast and accurate.  continuing to hunt seemed useless, and well you know...We had a STORY to tell!!!

 -David Book, Kentucky 

L.L. Bean 100th Anniversary Boots

 As I write this I am looking out at the window and see the first snow here in Northern Kentucky. Being from Iowa, I am not used to how scarce the snow is down here. So this snow is a welcome sight.

100th Anniversary L.L. Bean Maine Boot

 I thought it would be the perfect occasion to talk about the L.L. Bean 100th Anniversary Boot. This boot is perfect for your post 1912 early sportsman impression. I have a pair myself and I love them. The read brick color bottom is based on original examples of the boot. I like to have a little room in mine to wear some nice thick socks during the colder months. Really, a nice thick sock isn't bad in the warmer months.

 These shoes are available at the L.L. Bean Website.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hunter Trader Trapper

 By far and away Hunter Trader Trapper is my favorite outdoors magazine of the period. The articles and hunting stories are fantastic and the advertisements are really fun as well. A great insight to what people were wearing and buying during that time. 

 The magazine was published by Arthur Robert Harding. The first issue arrived in October of 1900. 24 pages of hunting, trapping, fur farming and the fur trade. One year subscription was 50 cents. 

 The instant success of the Hunter-Trader-Trapper magazine was due to the instructional nature of the contents on the subjects of hunting and trapping, information previously shared only between friends and family members, and in most cases kept secret by outdoorsmen. The magazine was largely composed of letters written by the readers, longer articles by experienced hunters and trappers, and news concerning the fur trade and current prices. Questions submitted by subscribers were published along with answers, as were correspondents' personal opinions about all sorts of outdoor subjects. 

 The magazine continued to grow and went from 24 pages to 160 pages. 

 Arthur Harding was also the publisher of Fur Fish and Game. 

 Copies of this magazine can be found on ebay. I'd recommend picking up a few issues!