Monday, January 19, 2015

The Pleasures of Outdoor Life by Edwin E. Gunther (HTT September, 1918)


 The disease to hunt, trap and roam the woods, to live in the great out-doors, to breathe the air of freedom, to feel the thrill of vital joys, and hear the music of the spheres as only the lover of nature can, is what prompted us to take this little outing. So on Nov. 31st we loaded up a tin Henry, better known as Ford, and the high places for Blackwater Creek to try our luck at trapping, hunting and to have a general good time. Here is a description of the outfit taken. One tent x 12 and poles, one box stove, and cooking utensils, lantern, oil can, blankets, groceries to last a week and after three of us, pard myself and the driver piled into the car, there was hardly room to breathe. 

 We made the trip over bad roads and steep hills in good time, arriving at our destination before noon, found a good low place in heavy timber and set up our tent and while pard manufactured a table out of timber which he said was natural oak finished, I cooked up some dinner of potatoes, bacon, bread, and coffee. After dinner we got busy again. Pard cut four poles; with these he made a sort of crib in the back end of the tent and in this we piled leaves and hay and on this our blankets and we had a real comfortable bed, and that night early we hit the hay but were awakened before break of day. Pard rubbed his eyes and says I am dreaming, I thought I heard a panther screaming. Just then 1 heard a noise right over head that would wake up the dead. And then we fell back again to dream. Boys did you ever hear an owl scream? When pard reads this I suppose he still feels like beating me up, but I had to pull one off on him, tho I admit that those owls frightened me as much as they did him. As this was the first day of the open season we struck out early with our traps. We set most of them for muskrats, coon and skunk. We caught a small bunch of rats and then it turned cold and snowed. We had to chop our traps out of the ice. We caught a few skunks, but found traps in almost every den or hole big enough for a mouse to crawl in, so you see we were not the only pebbles on the beach. I think some trapped all summer down there. While the snow was on we spent most of the time hunting rabbits. Squirrels, were plentiful down there but we never killed more than we could use.

 I remember one day I was walking along with my head down and a hickory nut dropped in front of me which caused me to look up and there up in a tree were four squirrels. I stopped still, they had not noticed me. Two were busy cracking nuts, the other two were playing hide and seek. They were having lots of fun. We needed meat and was not this a good place to get it? I raised my rifle to shoot but I did not. I guess some will say that I was chicken hearted but I would rather be a little chicken hearted than a "Game Hog". I have always admired the little wild creatures and I like to give them a fair chance for their life. We had been having squirrel or rabbit every day and we were getting awful hungry for a roast opossum or coon. 

  One sunday evening a young man came riding by our camp and informed us that he had seen a coon go up a tree a little distance above camp. We thanked him very much, rushed into the tent scrambled all over each other hunting for our guns. I almost yelled "roast coon tomorrow" I imagined I saw coons on every tree but upon closer observation found out that they were nothing but knots, snags, etc. Search as we did, we failed to find any coon. I did not say anything to pard but my thoughts were strong that the young man was telling his best girl the big joke he played on us, tho I believe he was telling us the truth. Some kind of animal had been coming to our tent every night to eat of the refuse. Pard says we will have a little fun and find out what it is. So we set two traps where he had been getting his meal and that night about 10 o'clock part punched me in the ribs and informed me that he was back. I was about to ask who he was talking about when "SNAP" went the traps. The animal gave a pitiful little whine. He was to frightened to yell, made about three big leaps and cleared the timber while pard and I were almost splitting our sides laughing. It sure amused us how we surprised him. Whatever the animal was he never got hungry enough to come back to our tent for his meals anymore.

 Isn't it strange how much one will endure in the way of sport and call it fun? We would tramp all day over hills, dodging through thick timber, get feet wet, come in at night tired out, but could laugh and joke about our days sport, and Oh! how we could eat. Our appetites could hardly be satisfied and we did not need any rocking to put us to sleep at night. Say, boys, this is the life if you really want to know your friend, take an outing with him, there you will be real pals. About the middle of December we pulled up stakes and went home. We did not have much success in trapping, but then there is a great deal of compensation from the pleasure one gets out of it. We both enjoyed it greatly and if nothing happens we expect to take more outings. One must be a lover of nature if he would get the most benefit from an outing, but whether he be a lover of nature or not he must confess that there is nothing can compare to its silent loveliness.

 * September 1918 Hunter Trader Trapper

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