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!