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It does not need that Herbert Spencer should cross the ocean to tell us that we are an overworked nation; that our hair turns gray ten years earlier than the Englishman’s; or, “that we have had somewhat too much of the gospel of work,” and, “it is time to preach the gospel of relaxation.” It is all true. But we work harder, accomplish more in a given time, and last quite as long as slower races.
Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book by George W. Sears
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As to the gray hair—perhaps gray hair is better than none; and it is a fact that the average Briton becomes bald as early as the American turns gray. There is, however, a sad significance in his words when he says: “In every circle I have met men who had themselves suffered from nervous collapse due to stress of business, or named friends who had either killed themselves by overwork.
Or had been permanently incapacitated, or had wasted long periods in endeavors to recover health.” Too true. And it is the constant strain, without let-up or relaxation, that, in nine cases out of ten, snaps the cord and ends in what the doctors call “nervous prostration”— something akin to paralysis—from which the sufferer seldom wholly recovers.
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Mr. Spencer quotes that quaint old chronicler, Froissart, as saying, “The English take their pleasures sadly, after their fashion”; and thinks if he lived now, he would say of Americans, “they take their pleasures hurriedly, after their fashion.” Perhaps. It is an age of hurry and worry. Anything slower than steam is apt to “get left.”
Fortunes are quickly made and freely spent. Nearly all busy, hard-worked Americans have an intuitive sense of the need that exists for at least one period of rest and relaxation during each year, and all—or nearly all—are willing to pay liberally, too liberally in fact, for anything that conduces to rest, recreation and sport.
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I am sorry to say that we mostly get swindled. As an average, the summer outer who goes to forest, lake or stream for health and sport, gets about ten cents’ worth for a dollar of outlay. A majority will admit—to themselves at least— that after a month’s vacation, they return to work with an inward consciousness of being somewhat disappointed—and beaten.
We are free with our money when we have it. We are known throughout the civilized world for our lavishness in paying for our pleasures; but it humiliates us to know we have been beaten, and this is what the most of us know at the end of a summer vacation. To the man of millions it makes little difference. He is able to pay liberally for boats, buckboards and “body service.”
If he chooses to spend a summer in the North Woods. He has no need to study the questions of lightness and economy in a forest and stream outing. Let his guides take care of him; and unto them and the landlords he will give freely of his substance. I do not write for him, and can do him little good. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book
But there are hundreds of thousands of practical, useful men, many of them far from being rich; mechanics, artists, writers, merchants, clerks, business men—workers, so to speak—who sorely need and well deserve a season of rest and relaxation at least once a year. To these, and for these, I write.
Perhaps more than fifty years of devotion to “woodcraft” may enable me to give a few useful hints and suggestions to those whose dreams, during the close season of work, are of camp-life by flood, field and forest. I have found that nearly all who have a real love of nature and out-of-door camp-life, spend a good deal of time and talk in planning future trips.
Or discussing the trips and pleasures gone by, but still dear to memory. I get a skillful tinsmith to make one dish as follows: Six inches on bottom, 6¾ inches on top, side 2 inches high. The bottom is of the heaviest tin procurable, the sides of lighter tin, and seamed to be water-tight without solder. The top simply turned, without wire. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book
The second dish to be made the same, but small enough to nest in the first, and also to fit into it when inverted as a cover. Two other dishes made from common pressed tinware, with the tops cut off and turned, also without wire. They are fitted so that they all nest, taking no more room than the largest dish alone, and each of the three smaller dishes makes a perfect cover for the next larger.
The other piece is a tin camp-kettle, also of the heaviest tin, and seamed water-tight. It holds two quarts, and the other dishes nest in it perfectly, so that when packed the whole takes just as much room as the kettle alone. I should mention that the strong ears are set below the rim of the kettle, and the bale falls outside, so, as none of the dishes have any handle.
There are no aggravating “stickouts” to wear and abrade. The snug affair weighs, all told, two pounds. I have met parties in the North Woods whose one frying pan weighed more—with its handle three feet long. How ever did they get through the brush with such a culinary terror? It is only when I go into a very accessible camp that I take so much as five pieces of tinware along. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book
I once made a ten days’ tramp through an unbroken wilderness on foot, and all the dish I took was a ten-cent tin; it was enough. I believe I will tell the story of that tramp before I get through. One other little annoyance I will mention, as a common occurrence among those who camp out; this is the lack of a pillow.
I suppose I have camped fifty times with people, who, on turning in, were squirming around for a long time, trying to get a rest for the head. Boots are the most common resort. But, when you place a boot-leg—or two of them—under your head, they collapse, and make a head-rest less than half an inch thick.
Just why it never occurs to people that a stuffing of moss, leaves, or hemlock browse, would fill out the bootleg and make a passable pillow, is another conundrum I cannot answer. But there is another and better way of making a pillow for camp use, which I will describe further on. And now I wish to devote some space to one of the most important adjuncts of woodcraft. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book
i.e., camps; how to make them, and how to make them comfortable. There are camps, and camps. There are camps in the North Woods that are really fine villas, costing thousands of dollars, and there are log-houses, and shanties, and bark camps, and A tents, and walled tents, shelter tents and shanty tents.
But, I assume that the camp best fitted to the wants of the average outer is the one that combines the essentials of dryness, lightness, portability, cheapness, and is easily and quickly put up. Another essential is, that it must admit of a bright fire in front by night or day. I will give short descriptions of the forest shelters (camps) I have found handiest and most useful.
Firstly, I will mention a sort of camp that was described in a sportsman’s paper, and has since been largely quoted and used. It is made by fastening a horizontal pole to a couple of contiguous trees, and then putting on a heavy covering of hemlock boughs, shingling them with the tips downward, of course. A fire is to be made at the roots of one of the trees. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book
This, with plenty of boughs, may be made to stand a pretty stiff rain; but it is only a damp arbor, and no camp, properly speaking. A forest camp should always admit of a bright fire in front, with a lean-to or shed roof overhead, to reflect the fire heat on the bedding below. Any camp that falls short of this, lacks the requirements of warmth, brightness and healthfulness. This is why I discard all close, canvas tents.
The bait is the element of success; it is made as follows: Slice off a clean, white pork rind, four or five inches long by an inch and a half wide; lay it on a board, and, with a sharp knife cut it as nearly to the shape of a frog as your ingenuity permits. Prick a slight gash in the head to admit the lip hook, which should be an inch and a half above the second one.
And see that the fork of the bait rests securely in the barb of the middle hook. Use a stout bait-rod and a strong line. Fish from a boat, with a second man to handle the oars, if convenient. Let the oarsman lay the boat ten feet inside the edge of the lily-pads, and make your cast, say, with thirty feet of line. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book Download
Land the bait neatly to the right, at the edge of the lily-pads, let it sink a few inches, and then with the tip well lowered, bring the bait around on a slight curve by a quick succession of draws, with a momentary pause between each; the object being to imitate as nearly as possible a swimming frog.
If this be neatly done, and if the bait be made as it should be, at every short halt the legs will spread naturally, and the imitation is perfect enough to deceive the most experienced bass or pickerel. When half a dozen casts to right and left have been made without success, it is best to move on, still keeping inside and casting outside the lily-pads.
A pickerel of three pounds or more will take in all three hooks at the first snap; and, as he closes his mouth tightly and starts for the bottom, strike quickly, but not too hard, and let the boatman put you out into deep water at once, where you are safe from the strong roots of the yellow lily. It is logically certain your fish is well hooked. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book Download
You cannot pull two strong, sharp hooks through that tightly closed mouth without fastening at least one of them where it will do most good. Oftener both will catch, and it frequently happens that one hook will catch each lip, holding the mouth nearly closed, and shortening the struggles of a large fish very materially.
On taking off a fish, and before casting again, see that the two lower hooks stand at right angles. If they have got turned in the struggle you can turn them at any angle you like; the twisted wire is stiff enough to hold them in place. Every angler knows the bold, determined manner in which the mascalonge strikes his prey.
He will take in bait and hooks at the first dash, and if the rod be held stiffly usually hooks himself. Barring large trout, he is the king of game fish. The big-mouthed bass is less savage in his attacks, but is a free biter. He is apt to come up behind and seize the bait about two-thirds of its length, turn, and bore down for the bottom. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book Download
He will mostly take in the lower hooks, however, and is certain to get fastened. His large mouth is excellent for retaining the hook. As for the small-mouthed (Micropterus dolomieu, if you want to be scientific), I have found him more capricious than any game fish on the list. One day he will take only dobsons, or crawfish; the next, he may prefer minnows, and again, he will rise to the fly or a bucktail spinner.
On the whole, I have found the pork frog the most successful lure in his case; but the hooks and bait must be arranged differently. Three strands of fine wire will make a snell strong enough, and the hooks should be strong, sharp and rather small, the lower hooks placed only half an inch apart, and a small lip hook two and a quarter inches above the middle one.
As the fork of the bait will not reach the bend of the middle hook, it must be fastened to the snell by a few stitches taken with stout thread, and the lower end of the bait should not reach more than a quarter of an inch beyond the bottom of the hook, because the smallmouth has a villainous trick of giving his prey a stern chase, nipping constantly. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book Free
And Lake Trout Stout Tackle viciously at the tail, and the above arrangement will be apt to hook him at the first snap. Owing to this trait, some artificial minnows with one or two hooks at the caudal end, are very killing—when he will take them. The way in which an average party of summer outers will contrive to manage.
Or mis-manage—the camp and camp-fire so as to get the greatest amount of smoke and discontent at the least outlay of time and force, is something past all understanding, and somewhat aggravating to an old woodsman who knows some better. But it is just as good fun as the cynical O. W. can ask.
To see a party of three or four enthusiastic youngsters organize the camp on the first day in, and proceed to cook the first meal. Of course, every man is boss, and every one is bound to build the fire, which every one proceeds to do. There are no back logs, no fore sticks, and no arrangement for level solid bases on which to place frying-pans, coffee pots, etc. Woodcraft and Camping PDF Book Free
But, there is a sufficiency of knots, dry sticks, bark and chunks, with some kindling at the bottom, and a heavy volume of smoke working its way through the awkward-looking pile. Presently thin tongues of blue flame begin to shoot up through the interstices, and four brand new coffee pots are wriggled into level positions at as many different points on the bonfire.
Four hungry youngsters commence slicing ham and pork, four frying-pans are brought out from as many hinged and lidded soap boxes—when one man yells out hurriedly, “Look out, Joe, there’s your coffee pot handle coming off.”