STEEL TRAPS AND THE ART OF TRAPPING.
Passing from our full and extended illustrated list of extempore, or "rough and ready" examples of the trap kind, we will now turn our attention to the consideration of that well-known implement, the trade steel trap. Although the foregoing varieties often serve to good purpose, the Steel Trap is the principal device used by professional trappers, and possesses great advantages over all other traps. It is portable, sets easily and quickly, either on land or beneath the water; can be concealed with ease; secures its victims without injury to their fur, and by the application of the spring or sliding pole (hereafter described) will most effectually prevent the captive from making his escape by self-amputation, besides placing him beyond the reach of destruction by other animals. The author has known trappers who have plied their vocation largely by the aid of the various hand made traps, described in the earlier pages of this book, and with good success. But in the regular business of systematic trapping, their extensive use is not common. The experience of modern trappers generally, warrants the assertion that for practical utility, from every point of view, the steel trap stands unrivalled. These traps are made of all sizes, from that suitable for the capture of the house rat, to the immense and wieldy machine adapted to the grizzly, and known as the "bear tamer." They may be bought at almost any hardware shop, although a large portion of the traps ordinarily sold are defective. They should be selected with care, and the springs always tested before purchase. Besides the temper of the spring, there are also other necessary qualities in a steel trap, which we subjoin in order that the amateur may know how to judge and select his weapons judiciously. REQUISITES OF A GOOD STEEL TRAP. 1. The jaws should not be too thin nor sharp cornered. In the cheaper class of steel traps the jaws approach to the thinness of sheet-iron, and the result is that the thin edges often sever the leg of their would-be captive in a single stroke. At other times the leg is so deeply cut as to easily enable the animal to gnaw or twist it off. This is the common mode of escape, with many animals. 2. The pan should not be too large. This is a very common fault with many steel traps and often defeats its very object. Where the pan is small, the foot of the animal in pressing it, will be directly in the centre of the snap of the jaw, and he is thus firmly secured far up on the leg. On the other hand, a large pan nearly filling the space between the jaws as the trap is set, may be sprung by a touch on its extreme edge, and the animal's toe is thus likely to get slightly pinched, if indeed the paw is not thrown off altogether by the forcible snap of the jaw. 3. The springs should be strong, scientifically tempered, and proportioned. The strength of a perfectly tempered spring will always remain the same, whether in winter or summer, never losing its elasticity. The best of tempering, however, is useless in a spring badly formed or clumsily tapered. 4. The jaws should be so curved as to give the bow of the spring a proper sweep to work upon. The jaws should lie flat when open, and should always work easily on their hinges. 5. Every trap should be furnished with a strong chain with ring and swivel attached, and in every case the swivel should turn easily. The celebrated "Newhouse Trap" embodies all the above requisites, and has deservedly won a reputation for excellence second to no other in this or any other country. They are made in eight sizes, as follows:
This is the smallest size and is known as the RAT TRAP. It has a single spring, and the jaws spread three and a half inches when set.
This size is called the MUSKRAT TRAP, and the jaws spread four inches. It is especially designed for the capture of the mink, marten, and animals of similar size.
This is known in the trade as the MINK TRAP, and the jaws spread nearly five inches. It is adapted for the fox, raccoon, or fisher.
This size is called the FOX TRAP. The spread of the jaws is the same as in the foregoing, but the trap is provided with two springs, and consequently has double the power. It is strong enough for the otter, and is generally used for the capture of the fox and fisher.
No.3 goes by the name of the OTTER TRAP. The jaws spread five and a half inches, and the powerful double springs do excellent service in the capture of the beaver, fox, badger, opossum, wild cat, and animals of like size.
Commonly called the BEAVER TRAP. Jaws spread six and a half inches. This size is especially adapted to the wolf, lynx or wolverine. It may also be set for deer, and extra sets of jaws are made expressly for this purpose, being easily inserted in the place of the ordinary jaws, when desired.
The SMALL BEAR TRAP. The jaws of this size spread nearly a foot, and the weight of the trap is seventeen pounds. It is used in the capture of the black bear, puma, and animals of similar size. All of the foregoing are supplied with swivels and chains.
This is known as the "GREAT BEAR TAMER," and is a most formidable weapon. The jaws spread sixteen inches, and the weight of the machine is forty-two pounds. It is extensively used in the capture of the moose and grizzly bear, and is the largest and most powerful steel trap made in this or any other country. The springs possess most tremendous power, and require to be set by a lever, as the weight of an ordinary man has not the slightest effect upon them. This lever may be easily applied, as follows: Have at hand four stout straps, supplied with buckles. These should always be carried by the trapper, where the larger double spring traps are used. To adjust the lever, cut four heavy sticks about three feet long. Take two of them and secure their ends together, side by side, with one of the straps. Now insert the spring of the trap between them, near the strap. Bear down heavily on the other extremity of the lever, and the spring will be found to yield easily, after which the remaining ends of the levers should be secured by a second strap. The other spring should now be treated in the same way, after which the jaws should be spread and the pan adjusted. The removal of the straps and levers is now an easy matter, after which the trap is set. The stoutest spring is easily made to yield by such treatment.
HINTS ON BAITING THE STEEL TRAP. There is a very common and erroneous idea current among amateur sportsmen and others in regard to the baiting of the steel trap; viz., that the pan of the trap is intended for the bait. This was the old custom in the traps of bygone times, but no modern trap is intended to be so misused, and would indeed often defeat its object in such a case, wherein it will be easily seen. The object of the professional trapper is the acquisition of furs; and a prime fur skin should be without break or bruise, from nose to tail. A trap set as above described, would of course catch its victim by the head or neck, and the fur would he more or less injured at the very spot where it should be particularly free from blemish. The true object of the steel trap is, that it shall take the animal by the leg, thus injuring the skin only in a part where it is totally valueless. We give, then, this imperative rule—Never bait a steel trap on the pan. The pan is intended for the foot of the game, and in order to insure capture by this means, the bait should be so placed as that the attention of the animal will be drawn away from the trap; the latter being in such a position as will cause the victim to step in it when reaching for the tempting allurement. There are several ways of doing this, one of which we here illustrate. A pen of stakes, in the shape of the letter V, is first constructed. The trap is then set in the angle, and the bait attached to the end stake directly over it. Another method is shown in the picture on our title-page to this section, the bait being suspended on a stick above the trap. There are various other methods on the same principle, which will be described hereafter, under the titles of the various game.
THE SPRING POLE. This is nearly always used in connection with the steel trap, in the capture of the smaller land animals. It not only lifts the creature into the air, and thus prevents its becoming a prey to other animals, but it also guards against the escape of the victim by the amputation of its own leg. This is a very common mode of release with many kinds of game—notably the mink, marten, and muskrat; and for the successful trapping of these, as well as many other animals, the spring and sliding pole are absolute necessities. It is a simple contrivance, consisting merely of a pole inserted in the ground near the trap. The pole is then bent down, and the trap chain secured to its end. A small, notched peg is next driven into the ground and the top of the pole caught in it, and thus held in a bent position. When the animal is caught, its struggles release the pole, and the latter, flying up with a jerk, lifts the trap and its occupant high in the air, out of the reach of marauders, and beyond the power of escape by self-amputation. Even in the capture of large game the spring pole often serves to good purpose. The struggles of a heavy animal are often so violent as to break a stout trap or chain; and the force of the spring pole, although not sufficient to raise the animal from its feet, often succeeds in easing the strain, and often thus saves a trap from being broken to pieces. The power of the pole must of course be proportionate to the weight of the desired game. THE SLIDING POLE. The first impulse with almost every aquatic animal when caught in a trap, is to plunge headlong into deep water. With the smaller animals, such as the mink and muskrat, this is all that is desired by the trapper, as the weight of the trap with the chain is sufficient to drown its victim. But with larger animals, the beaver and otter for instance, an additional precaution, in the shape of the "sliding pole," is necessary. This consists of a pole about ten feet long, smoothly trimmed of its branches, excepting at the tip, where a few stubs should be left. Insert this end obliquely into the bed of the stream, where the water is deep, and secure the large end to the bank by means of a hooked stick, as seen in our illustration. The ring of the chain should be large enough to slide easily down the entire length of the pole. When the trap is set, the ring should be slipped on the large end of the pole, and held in place by resting a stick against it. The animal, when caught, plunges off into deep water, and guided by the pole, is led to the bottom of the river. The ring slides down to the bed of the stream, and there holds its victim until drowned.
THE CLOG. A trap which is set for heavy game should never be secured to a stake. Many of the larger and more powerful animals when caught in a trap thus secured, are apt either to pull or twist their legs off, or break both trap and chain to pieces. To guard against this, the chain should be weighted with a pole or small log, of a size proportionate to the dimensions of the game, its weight being merely sufficient to offer a serious encumbrance to the animal, without positively checking its movements. This impediment is called the "clog," and is usually attached to the ring of the trap chain by its larger end, the ring being slipped over the latter, and secured in place by a wedge.
THE GRAPPLING IRON. This answers the same purpose as the above, and is often used instead. It is manufactured in connection with the larger steel traps, and is attached to the chain by a swivel joint. Its general shape is shown in an engraving, and it offers a serious resistance to the victim, who endeavors to run away with it. THE SEASON FOR TRAPPING. The business of trapping for profit must be confined to the season between the first of October and the beginning of May, as furs of all kinds are worthless when taken during the other months of the year. The reason of this is obvious. A "prime fur" must be "thick" and "full," and as all our fur-bearing animals shed their heavy winter coats as warm weather approaches, it necessarily follows that the capture at this season would be unprofitable. As the autumn approaches the new growth appears, and the fur becomes thick and glossy. By the middle of October most furs are in their prime, but the heart of winter is the best time for general trapping. The furs of the mink, muskrat, fisher, marten and beaver are not in their perfect prime until this season. And all other furs are sure to be in good condition at this time. THE ART OF TRAPPING. From time immemorial, and in every nation of the world, the art of trapping has been more or less practiced. By some as a means of supplying their wants in the shape of daily food, and by others for the purpose of merchandise or profit. To be a clever and successful trapper, much more is required than is generally supposed. The mere fact of a person's being able to set a trap cleverly and judiciously forms but a small part of his proficiency; and unless he enters deeper into the subject and learns something of the nature and habits of the animals he intends to catch, his traps will be set in vain, or at best meet with but indifferent success. The study of natural history here becomes a matter of necessity as well as pleasure and profit. And unless the trapper thoroughly acquaints himself with the habits of his various game, the sagacity and cunning of his intended victim will often outwit his most shrewd endeavors, much to his chagrin. The sense of smell, so largely developed in many animals, becomes one of the trappers most serious obstacles, and seems at times to amount almost to positive reason, so perfectly do the creatures baffle the most ingenious attempts of man in his efforts to capture them. A little insight into the ways of these artful animals, however, and a little experience with their odd tricks soon enables one to cope with them successfully and overcome their whims. For the benefit of the amateur who has not had the opportunity of studying for himself, the peculiarities of the various game, the author appends a comprehensive chapter on "Practical Natural History," in which will be found full accounts of the peculiar habits and leading characteristics of all the various animals commonly sought by the trapper, together with detailed directions for trapping each variety, supplemented with a faithful portrait of the animal in nearly every instance. A careful reading of the above mentioned chapter will do much towards acquainting the novice with the ways of the sly creatures, which he hopes to victimize, and will thus prepare him to contend with them successfully. In the art of trapping the bait is often entirely dispensed with, the traps being set and carefully concealed in the runways of the various animals. These bypaths are easily detected by an experienced trapper, and are indicated either by footprints or other evidences of the animal, together with the matted leaves and broken twigs and grasses. Natural channels, such as hollow logs or crevices between rocks or fallen trees, offer excellent situations for steel traps, and a good trapper is always on the quivive for such chance advantages, thus often saving much of the time and labor which would otherwise be spent in the building of artificial enclosures, etc. The most effective baits used in the art of trapping are those which are used to attract the animal through its sense of smell, as distinct from that of its mere appetite for food. These baits are known in the profession as "medicine," or scent baits and possess the most remarkable power of attracting the various animals from great distances, and leading them almost irresistibly to any desired spot. Such is the barks tone or castoreum, of such value in the capture of the beaver, and the oil of anise, so commonly used for the trapping of animals in general. These various substances will presently be considered under their proper heading. Many detailed and specific directions on the subject of trapping will be found in the long chapter following; and, in closing our preliminary remarks, we would add just one more word of general caution, which the young trapper should always bear in mind. In all cases avoid handling the trap with the bare hand. Many an amateur has set and reset his traps in vain, and retired from the field of trapping in disgust, from the mere want of observing this rule. Animals of keen scent are quick in detecting the slightest odors, and that left by the touch of a human hand often suffices to drive the creature away from a trap which, under other circumstances, would have been its certain destruction. To be sure the various scent baits already alluded to, will in a measure overcome human traces, but not always effectually, and in order to insure success no precautions so simple should be neglected. A pair of clean buckskin gloves are valuable requisites to the trapper, and should always be "on hand" when setting or transporting traps. "MEDICINES," OR SCENT BAITS. These form one of the most important requisites of the trapper's art. A trap baited simply with the food of the required animal, may and often will be successful, but with the addition of the trapper's "medicine" judicially applied, success is almost a certainty. These scent baits are of various kinds, some being almost universal in their usefulness, while others are attractive only to some particular species of animal. We give a few of the recipes of the most valued preparations used by trappers throughout the land. The application and use of each is fully described in its proper place hereafter. CASTOREUM. This substance, commonly known as "Barkstone," by trappers and fur dealers, is obtained from the beaver, and is a remarkable aid in the capture of that animal. It is an acrid secretion of a powerful musky odor, found in two glands beneath the root of the tail of the beaver. These glands are about two inches in length. They are cut out and the contents are squeezed into a small bottle. When fresh the substance is of a yellowish-red color, changing to a light-brown when dried. Both male and female animals yield the castoreum, but that of the male is generally considered the best. Castoreum is a commercial drug, and in many beaver countries it is quite an article of trade. There are other sacs lying directly behind the castor glands which contain a strong oil of rancid smell. This should not be confounded with the Castoreum. CASTOREUM COMPOSITION. The Barkstone is used both pure and in combination with other substances, the following prescription being much used: Into the contents of about ten of the castor bags, mix two ground nutmegs, thirty or forty cloves, also powdered, one drop essence of peppermint, and about two thimblefuls of ground cinnamon. Into this stir as much whisky as will give the whole the consistency of paste, after which the preparation should be bottled and kept carefully corked. At the expiration of a few days the odor increases ten-fold in power and is ready for use. A bottle, if thus prepared, will retain its strength for nearly a half year, provided it is kept closely corked. A few drops of either the pure castoreum or the combination spread upon the bait or in the neighborhood of the trap, as described under the chapter on the Beaver, will entice that animal from a great distance. MUSK. This substance is a secretion obtained from several different animals, notably the otter and muskrat. The glands which contain it are located similarly to the castor glands of the beaver, and the musk should be discharged into a vial, as previously described. The musk of the female muskrat is said to be the most powerful, and is chiefly used by trappers in the capture of that animal, the otter being chiefly attracted by its own musk. ASSAFOETIDA. This foul smelling production seems to have a specially attractive fragrance to many animals, and for general use is much esteemed by trappers. It is a vegetable drug from Persia and the East Indies, and is imported in the form of concrete juice, of a brown color. OIL OF RHODIUM. This is a vegetable oil obtained from a species of rose, and is quite costly. Its power of attracting animals is surprising, and it is in very common use among trappers. FISH OIL. This is especially useful in the capture of the majority of the fur tribe, and particularly the water animals. The oil may be bought ready for use, or prepared with little trouble. The common method consists in cutting up fish of any kind, especially eels, into small bits, putting them in a bottle, and setting the latter in the full exposure to the sun. It should thus be left for about two weeks, at the end of which time a rancid oil will have formed. A few drops of this oil will entice many animals from surprising distances, often drawing their attention to a bait which otherwise they might never have scented. OIL OF SKUNK. This, the ne plus ultra, or quintessence of diabolical stench, yields the tempting savor which irresistibly attracts many animals to their final doom. It is contained in a pouch beneath the insertion of the tail of the animal, and is spread abroad by the creature with lavish extravagance when circumstances demand, or we might say when occasion permits. It may be taken from the animal and bottled as already described in other instances, chloride of lime being used to eradicate the stench from the hands. OIL OF AMBER. This substance is frequently referred to in the following pages, and is a vegetable product of the amber gum of commerce. The Oil of Ambergris is also sometimes used by trappers, and is likewise known as Amber Oil. The two are thus often confounded, although the former is supposed to be most generally used. OIL OF ANISE. This is strongly recommended by many trappers as a most excellent "universal medicine." It is a vegetable product, and is obtainable at any drug store. SWEET FENNEL. This plant is commonly cultivated all over the United States, and the seeds are often powdered and used as a scent bait. The Oil of Fennel is preferable, however, and may be had at almost any drug store. CUMMIN. This is another plant, somewhat resembling the former, and, like it, cultivated for its seeds. It has an aromatic taste, and its strong pungent odor renders it of great value to the trapper. The seeds may be powdered and thus used, or the oil of the plant may be easily procured. The latter is preferable. FENUGREEK. Like the two foregoing this plant is valuable for its seeds, which are used for medicinal purposes. The oil or bruised seeds may be used. LAVENDER. This is another aromatic plant, the oil of which, either pure or diluted with alcohol, is much used in the trapper's art. COMPOUND. For ordinary use, a mixture of Assafoetida, Musk, Oil of Anise, and Fish Oil, together with a few drops of the Oil of Rhodium, is especially recommended by our most skilled trappers. This preparation contains the various substances which are known to attract the different fur bearing animals, and its use often insures success where anyone of the simple substances would be ineffectual. THE TRAIL. The object of the "trail" consists in offering a leading scent which, when followed, will bring the animal to the various traps, and when properly made will be the means of drawing large numbers of game from all quarters and from great distances, whereas without it the traps might remain undiscovered. Trails are sometimes made to connect a line of traps, as when set along the banks of streams for mink, etc., at other times, as in trapping the fox, for instance, they should extend from the trap on all sides, like the spokes of a wheel from the hub, thus covering considerable area, and rendering success more certain than it would be without this precaution. The combination "medicine" just described is excellent for the purposes of a trail for minks, otter, muskrat, and many other animals. Soak a piece of meat, or piece of wood in the preparation, and drag it along the ground between the traps. A dead fish smeared with the fluid will also answer the same purpose. The soles of the boots may also be smeared with the "medicine" and the trail thus accomplished. Trails of various kinds are considered under their respective and appropriate heads in the chapters on animals, all of which will be found useful and effective. HOW TO TRAP. In the following pages will be found full and ample directions for the trapping of all our leading game, together with detailed descriptions of peculiar habits of each species. The various articles contain careful descriptions, whereby the species may be readily recognized, and, in nearly every case, are accompanied by faithful illustrations. We add also valuable directions for the best manner of removing the skin of each animal, this being a matter of considerable importance, as affecting their pecuniary value. THE FOX. Foremost in the list of animals noted for their sly craft, and the hero of a host of fables and well-authenticated stories, in which artful cunning gains the advantage over human intelligence, Reynard, the fox, reigns supreme. There is scarcely a professional trapper in the land who has not, in his day, been hoodwinked by the wily strategy of this sly creature, whose extreme cunning renders him the most difficult of all animals to trap. The fox belongs to the Dog family, and there are six varieties inhabiting the United States. The red species is the most common and is too well known to need a description here. The Cross Fox considerably resembles the above, only being much darker in color, the red hair being thickly speckled with black. This species varies considerably in color in different individuals, often much resembling the red variety, and again approaching nearer in color to the Black or Silver Fox. This variation, together with the name of the animal, has given rise among trappers to the wide- spread belief of the animal being a cross between the two species which it so nearly resembles. It seems to be a permanent variety, however, the term cross being applied, we believe, on account of a dark marking on the back, between the shoulders of the animal, suggestive of that title. The Silver or Black Fox is the most beautiful and most rare of the genus, and yields the most valuable fur produced in this country. Its color is black, with the exception of the tip of the tail, which is white. The Prairie Fox is the largest of the species. It inhabits the Western Prairies, and in color resembles the common red variety, only being a trifle yellower. The Kit, or Swift Fox, is smaller than the Red, and abounds in the Western States. The Gray Fox is a Southern variety, and is very beautiful. It is less daring and cunning than the Common Fox, and seldom approaches a farm- yard, where it is in close proximity to a dwelling. The general habits and characteristics of all the foxes are similar. For natural cunning they take the lead of all other animals. They are all built for speed, and their senses of smell and hearing are acutely developed. Their food consists of wild fowl of all kinds, rabbits, squirrels, birds and their eggs, together with many kinds of ripe fruits, "sour grapes" not included. They live in burrows, often usurped, or crevices between rocks; and their young, from three to nine in number, are brought forth in March. We are strongly tempted to narrate a few remarkable instances of the animal's cunning, but we forbear for want of space. Our reader must take it for granted that when he attempts to trap a fox, he will be likely to find more than his match in the superior craftiness of that animal. If the trap is overturned and the bait gone, or if repeatedly sprung and found empty, he must not he surprised or discouraged, for he is experiencing only what all other trappers have experienced before him. There are instances on record where this knowing creature has sprung the trap by dropping a stick upon the pan, afterwards removing the suspended bait to enjoy it at his leisure. His movements are as lithe and subtle as those of a snake, and when "cornered" there is no telling what caper that cunning instinct and subtlety of body will not lead him to perform. When pursued by hounds he has been known to lead them a long chase at full speed up to the crest of a hill: here he leaps a shrub, swiftly as an arrow, and landing on the ground on the opposite declivity quickly returns beneath the brushwood and crouches down closely upon the ground. Presently the hounds come along in full cry, and blazing scent they dart over the shrub in full pursuit, dash down the hillside, never stopping until at the bottom of the hill they find they are off the trail. As soon as the hounds are passed, sly Reynard cautiously takes to his legs: creeping adroitly back over the brow of the hill, he runs for a considerable distance on his back trail, and at last, after taking a series of long jumps therefrom returns to his covert at leisure. Page after page might be filled to the glory of this creature's cunning, but enough has been said to give the young trapper an insight into the character of the animal he hopes to victimize, and prepare him for a trial of skill which, without this knowledge, would be a most one-sided affair. We would not advise our young amateur to calculate very confidently on securing a fox at the first attempt, but we can truthfully vouch that if the creature can be caught at all, it can be done by following the directions we now give. One of the most essential things in the trapping of this, as well as nearly all animals, is that the trap should be perfectly clean and free from rust. The steel trap No.2, page 141 is the best for animals of the size of the Fox. The trap should be washed in weak lye, being afterwards well greased and finally smoked over burning hen's feathers. All this and even more precaution is necessary. No matter how strongly scented the trap may be, with the smoke, or other substances, a mere touch of the bare hand will leave a human scent which the fox perceives as soon as the other, and this is enough to deaden his enthusiasm over the most tempting bait. On this account, it is necessary always to handle the trap with buckskin gloves, never allowing the bare hand to come in contact with it, on any account, after once prepared for setting. Before arranging the trap for its work, it is necessary to construct what is called a "bed." There are several methods of doing this; but from all we can learn from the most experienced trappers, the following is the most successful. The bed should be made on flat ground, using any of the following substances: Buckwheat chaff, which is the best, oat, wheat, or hay chaff, or in lieu of these, moss or wood ashes. Let the bed be three feet in diameter, and an inch and a half in depth. To insure success it is the best plan to bait the bed itself for several days with scraps of beef or cheese strewn upon, and near it. If the fox once visits the place, discovers the tempting morsels and enjoys a good meal unmolested, he will be sure to revisit the spot so long as he finds a "free lunch" awaiting him. When he is found to come regularly and take the bait, he is as good as caught, provided our instructions are carefully followed. Take the trap, previously prepared as already described, chain it securely to a small log of wood about two feet long. Dig a hole in the earth in the centre of the bed, large enough to receive the trap, with its log, and chain. Set the traps, supporting the pan by pushing some of the chaff beneath it. Now lay a piece of paper over the pan and sprinkle the chaff over it evenly and smoothly, until every trace of the trap and its appendages is obliterated. Endeavor to make the bed look as it has previously done, and bait it with the same materials. Avoid treading much about the bed and step in the same tracks as far as possible. Touch nothing with the naked hands. Cover up all the footprints as much as possible, and leave the trap to take care of itself and any intruder. If our directions have been accurately followed, and due care has been exercised on the part of the young trapper, there is every probability that the next morning will reward him with his fox. But if a day or two elapse without success, it is well to resort to the "scent baits" described on page 149. Take the trap out of the bed, and with a feather smear it with melted beeswax, or rub it with a little Oil of Rhodium, Assafoetida, or Musk. Oil of Amber, and Lavender water are also used for the same purpose by many professional trappers. These are not always necessary but are often used as a last resort, and will most always insure success. Another method of baiting is shown in our page illustration opposite, and consists in suspending the bait by a stick in such a position that the fox will be obliged to step upon the trap in order to reach it. The bed should be baited in this way several times before the trap is set. This method is very commonly employed. Another still, is to bury the dead body of a rabbit or bird in loose earth, covering the whole with chaff. Sprinkle a few drops of Musk, or Oil of Amber over the bed. After the fox has taken the bait, the place should be rebaited and the trap inserted in the mound and covered with the chaff, being scented as before. Some trappers employ the following method with good results: The trap is set, in a spring or at the edge of a small shallow brook and attached by a chain to a stake in the bank, the chain being under water. There should be only about an inch and a half of water over the trap, and its distance from the shore should be about a foot and a half, or even less. In order to induce the fox to place his foot in the trap it is necessary to cut a sod of grass, just the size of the inside of the jaws of the trap, and place it over the pan, so that it will project above the water and offer a tempting foot rest for the animal while he reaches for the bait which rests in the water just beyond. To accomplish this device without springing the trap by the weight of the sod, it is necessary to brace up the pan from beneath with a small perpendicular stick, sufficiently to neutralize the pressure from above. The bait may be a dead rabbit or bird thrown on the water outside of the trap and about a foot from it, being secured by a string and peg. If the fox spies the bait he will be almost sure to step upon the sod to reach it, and thus get caught. If none of these methods are successful, the young trapper may at least content himself with the idea that the particular fox he is after is an old fellow and is "not to be caught with chaff" or any thing else,—for if these devices will not secure him nothing will. If he is a young and comparatively unsophisticated specimen, he will fall an easy victim to any of the foregoing stratagems. Although steel traps are generally used in the capture of foxes, a cleverly constructed and baited dead-fall such as is described on page 113 will often do capital service in that direction. By arranging and baiting the trap as therein described, even a fox is likely to become its prey. To skin the fox the pelt should be first ripped down each hind leg to the vent. The skin being cut loose around this point, the bone of the tail should next be removed. This may be done by holding a split stick tightly over the bone after which the latter may be easily pulled out of the skin. The hide should then be drawn back, and carefully removed, working with caution around the legs, and particularly so about the eyes, ears, and lips when these points are reached. The skin should be stretched as described on page 273.
THE WOLF. The United States are blessed with several species of this animal. The Grey Wolf, which is the largest, and the smaller, Prairie Wolf or Coyote, being the most commonly known. There are also the White Wolf, Black Wolf and the Texan or Red Wolf. In outward form they all bear a considerable resemblance to each other, and their habits are generally similar in the different varieties. Wolves are fierce and dangerous animals, and are very powerful of limb and fleet of foot. They are extremely cowardly in character, and will seldom attack man or animal except when by their greater numbers they would be sure of victory. Wolves are found in almost every quarter of the globe. Mountain and plain, field, jungle and prairie are alike infested with them, and they hunt in united bands, feeding upon almost any animal which by their combined attacks they can overpower. Their inroads upon herds and sheep folds are sometimes horrifying, and a single wolf has been known to kill as many as forty sheep in a single night, seemingly from mere blood-thirsty desire. In the early colonization of America, wolves ran wild over the country in immense numbers, and were a source of great danger; but now, owing to widespread civilization, they have disappeared from the more settled localities and are chiefly found in Western wilds and prairie lands. The Grey Wolf is the largest and most formidable representative of the Dog tribe on this continent. Its general appearance is truthfully given in our drawing. Its length, exclusive of the tail, is about four feet, the length of the tail being about a foot and a half. Its color varies from yellowish grey to almost white in the northern countries, in which latitude the animal is sometimes found of an enormous size, measuring nearly seven feet in length. The fur is coarse and shaggy about the neck and haunches, and the tail is bushy. They abound in the region east of the Rocky Mountains and northward, and travel in packs of hundreds in search of prey. Bisons, wild horses, deer and even bears fall victims to their united fierceness, and human beings, too, often fall a prey to their ferocious attacks. The Coyote, or Common Prairie Wolf, also known as the Burrowing Wolf, as its name implies inhabits the Western plains and prairies. They are much smaller than the Grey Wolf, and not so dangerous. They travel in bands and unitedly attack whatever animal they desire to kill. Their homes are made in burrows which they excavate in the ground. The Texan Wolf inhabits the latitude of Texas and southward. It is of a tawny red color and nearly as large as the grey species, possessing the same savage nature. In April or May the female wolf retires to her burrow or den, and her young, from six to ten in number, are brought forth. The wolf is almost as sly and cunning as the fox, and the same caution is required in trapping the animal. They are extremely keen scented, and the mere touch of a human hand on the trap is often enough to preclude the possibility of capture. A mere footprint, or the scent of tobacco juice, they look upon with great suspicion, and the presence of either will often prevent success. The same directions given in regard to trapping the fox are equally adapted for the wolf. The trap (size No, 4, page 141) should be smoked or smeared with beeswax or blood, and set in a bed of ashes or other material as therein described, covering with moss, chaff, leaves or some other light substance. The clog should be fully twice as heavy as that used for the fox. Some trappers rub the traps with "brake leaves," sweet fern, or even skunk's cabbage. Gloves should always be worn in handling the traps, and all tracks should be obliterated as much as if a fox were the object sought to be secured. A common way of securing the wolf consists in setting the trap in a spring or puddle of water, throwing the dead body of some large animal in the water beyond the trap in such a position that the wolf will be obliged to tread upon the trap, in order to reach the bait. This method is described both under the head of the Fox and the Bear. Another plan is to fasten the bait between two trees which are very close together, setting a trap on each side and carefully concealing them as already directed, and securing each to a clog of about twenty pounds in weight. The enclosure described on page 144 is also successful. There are various scent or trail baits used in trapping the wolf. Oil of Assafoetida is by many trappers considered the best, but Oil of Rhodium, powdered fennel, fenugreek and Cummin Oil are also much used. It is well to smear a little of the first mentioned oil near the traps, using any one of the other substances, or indeed a mixture of them all, for the trail. This may be made by smearing the preparation on the sole of the boots and walking in the direction of the traps, or by dragging from one trap to another a piece of meat scented with the substance, as described under the head of Mink. The wolf is an adept at feigning death, playing "'possum" with a skill which would do credit to that veritable animal itself. A large dead-fall, constructed of logs, page 17, when skillfully scented and baited, will often allure a wolf into its clutches, and a very strong twitch-up, with a noose formed of heavy wire, or a strip of stout calf hide, will successfully capture the crafty creature. In skinning the wolf the hide may be removed either by, first ripping up the belly, or in a circular piece, as described connection with the fox, both methods being much used. The board and hoop stretchers used in preparing the skin are described on pages 273 and 275.
THE PUMA. The puma, commonly known also as the panther or cougar, is the largest American representative of the Cat tribe, and for this reason is often dignified by the name of the "American Lion." It is found more or less abundantly throughout the United States; and although not generally considered a dangerous foe to mankind, it has often been known in the wild districts to steal upon the traveler unawares, and in many instances human beings have fallen a prey to the powerful claws and teeth of this powerful animal. The life of the puma is mostly in the trees. Crouching upon the branches it watches for, or steals, cat-like, upon its prey. Should a solitary animal pass within reach, the puma will not hesitate in pouncing upon the unfortunate creature; but if a herd of animals, or party of men, should be travelling together, the caution of the brute asserts itself, and he will often dog their footsteps for a great distance, in hopes of securing a straggler. Birds are struck down by a single blow of the puma's ready paw, and so quick are his movements that even though a bird has risen on the wing, he can often make one of his wonderful bounds, and with a light, quick stroke, arrest the winged prey before it has time to soar beyond reach. The puma is a good angler. Sitting by the water's edge he watches for his victims, and no sooner does an unfortunate fish swim within reach, than the nimble paw is outstretched, and it is swept out of the water on dry land, and eagerly devoured. A puma has been known to follow the track of travelers for days together, only daring to show itself at rare intervals, and never endeavoring to make an attack except through stealth. The animal will often approach cautiously upon a traveler until sufficiently near to make its fatal spring; but if the pursued party suddenly turn round and face the crawling creature, the beast becomes discomfited at once, and will retreat from the gaze which seems to it a positive terror. So long as a puma can be kept in sight, no danger need be feared from the animal but it will improve every opportunity of springing unobservedly upon a heedless passer by. The total length of the puma is six feet and a half, of which the tail occupies a little over two feet. Its color is of a uniform light tawny tint, fading into light grey on the under parts, and the tip of the tail is black. The puma is one of the few members of the Cat tribe, which are without the usual spots or stripes so observable in the tiger and leopard. The lion has the same uniformity of color, and it is perhaps partly on that account that the panther is so often known as the American lion. In infancy the young pumas possess decided tiger-like markings, and leopard-like spots, but these disappear altogether as the animal increases in size. The cougar has learned by experience a wholesome fear of man, and as civilization has extended throughout our country, the animals have been forced to retire from the neighborhood of human habitations and hide themselves in thick, uncultivated forest lands. Sometimes, however, the animal, urged by fierce hunger, will venture on a marauding expedition for several miles, and although not an object of personal dread to the inhabitants, he often becomes a pestilent neighbor to the farmer, committing great ravages among his flocks and herds, and making sad havoc in his poultry yard. It is not the fortune of every puma, however, to reside in the neighborhood of such easy prey as pigs, sheep and poultry, and the greater number of these animals are forced to depend for their subsistence on their own success in chasing or surprising the various animals on which they feed. When a puma is treed by hunters, it is said to show great skill in selecting a spot wherein it shall be best concealed from the gazers below, and will even draw the neighboring branches about its body to hide itself from the aim of the hunter's rifle. While thus lying upon the branches the beast is almost invisible from below, as its fur, when seen, harmonizes so well with the the bark which covers the boughs, that the one can scarcely be distinguished from the other. The puma loves to hide in the branches of trees, and from this eminence to launch itself upon the doomed animal that may pass within its reach. It may, therefore, be easily imagined how treacherous a foe the creature may be when ranging at will among the countless trees and jungles of our American forests. Although so stealthy and sly a creature the cougar possesses very little cunning and is easily trapped. The Gun trap, page 20, is commonly and successfully employed in South America in the capture of the jaguar, as our title illustration, page 15, represents, and it may also be used with the same success in trapping the puma. The Bow trap, page 23, and the dead-fall described in the early part of the book, will all be found to work admirably in the destruction of this treacherous beast. The animal may be entrapped alive, should any of our young trappers dare to try the experiment. There are two ways of accomplishing this. The first is by the aid of a huge coop of logs, as described on page 30 or 33, and the other by the Pit-fall, as exemplified on page 31. Huge twitch-ups may also be constructed, using very strong wire. The bait may consist of a fowl, sheep's head, or the heart of any animal. Fresh meat of any kind will answer the purpose, and in the case of the Pit-fall a live fowl is preferable to a dead one as it will attract the puma by its motions, or by its cackling, and thus induce him to spring upon his prey, which will precipitate him to the bottom of the pit and thus effect his capture. They are commonly taken with the steel trap. The puma seldom leaves the vicinity of the carcass of an animal it has killed until it is all devoured. When such a carcass can be found the capture of the beast is easily effected. Set the trap, size No. 5, page 143, near the remains, and cover the carcass with leaves. The next visit of the animal will find him more attached to the place than ever,—so much so that he will be unable to "tear himself away." The skin of the puma is properly removed by first cutting up the belly as described under the Beaver, using great care about the head and face. Use the hoop stretcher, page 275.
THE CANADIAN LYNX. The lynx represents another of the Cat tribe, and as its name implies is a native of the regions north of the United States, although sometimes found in upper Maine and on the lower borders of the great lakes. It is commonly known throughout Canada as the Peshoo, or "Le Chat." Our illustration is a truthful representation of the animal. Its total length exceeds three feet, and its tail is a mere stub. The fur is thick, and the hairs are long, the general color being grey, sprinkled with black. The legs are generally darker than the body, and the ears are often edged with white. The limbs and muscles are very powerful, the paws are very large for the size of the animal, and are furnished with strong white claws, which are imbedded in the fur of the feet when not in use, they are shown in our illustration. The ears of the lynx form a distinct feature, by which the animal could be easily identified; they are long and tipped with stiff projecting hairs, giving the creature a very odd appearance. The peshoo can not be said to be a very dangerous animal, unless it is attacked, when it becomes a most ferocious antagonist. The writer knew of a gentleman who was pounced upon and very nearly killed by one of these infuriated creatures, and there are many like instances on record. The principal food of the lynx consists of the smaller quadrupeds, the American hare being its favorite article of diet. It is a good swimmer, and a most agile climber, chasing its prey among the branches with great stealth and dexterity. Like the wolf, fox, and many other flesh eating-animals, the lynx does not content itself with the creatures which fall by the stroke of its own talons, or the grip of its own teeth, but will follow the trail of the puma, in its nocturnal quest after prey, and thankfully partake of the feast which remains after its predecessor has satisfied its appetite. While running at full speed, the lynx presents a most ludicrous appearance, owing to its peculiar manner of leaping. It progresses in successive bounds, with its back slightly arched, and all the feet striking the ground nearly at the same instant. Powerful as the animal is, it is easily killed by a blow on the back, a slight stick being a sufficient weapon wherewith to destroy the creature. For this reason the "Dead-fall" is particularly adapted for its capture, and is very successful, as the animal possesses very little cunning, and will enter an enclosure of any kind without the slightest compunction, when a tempting bait is in view. The dead-fall should of course be constructed on a large scale, and it is a good plan to have the enclosure deep, and the bait as far back as will necessitate the animal being well under the suspended log in order to reach it. The bait may consist of a dead quadruped or of fresh meat of any kind. The Gun trap, page 20, and the Bow trap, page 23, will also be found efficient, and a very powerful twitch-up, constructed from a stout pole and extra strong wire will also serve to good purpose. The lynx is not so prolific as many of the feline tribe, the number of its young seldom exceeding two, and this only once a year. The fur of the animal is valuable for the purposes to which the feline skin is generally adapted, and commands a fair price in the market. Those who hunt or trap the lynx will do well to choose the winter months for the time of their operations, as during the cold season the animal possesses a thicker and warmer fur than it offers in the summer months. When the steel trap is used, it should be of size No. 4, page 141, set at the opening of a pen of stakes, the bait being placed at the back of the enclosure in such a position, as that the animal will be obliged to step upon the pan of the trap in order to reach it. Any of the devices described under "Hints on Baiting" will be found successful. The skin of the animal may be removed as directed in the case of the fox, being drawn off the body whole, or it may be removed after the manner of the beaver, and similarly stretched.
THE WILD CAT. This animal is one of the most wide-spread species of the Cat tribe, being found not only in America, but throughout nearly the whole of Europe as well as in Northern Asia. In many parts of the United States, where the wild cat was wont to flourish, it has become exterminated, owing to civilization and the destruction of forest lands. Many naturalists are of the opinion that the wild cat is the original progenitor of our domestic cat, but there is much difference of opinion in regard to the subject. Although they bear great resemblance to each other, there are several points of distinction between the two; one of the most decided differences being in the comparative length of the tails. The tail of the wild cat is little more than half the length of that of the domestic cat, and much more bushy. The color of the wild animal is much more uniform than in the great raft of "domestic" mongrel specimens which make night hideous with their discordant yowls, although we sometimes see a high bred individual which, if his tail was cut off at half its length, might easily pass as an example of the wild variety. The ground tint of the fur in the wild cat is yellowish grey, diversified with dark streaks over the body and limbs, much after the appearance of the so-called "tiger cat." A row of dark streaks and spots extends along the spine, and the tail is thick, short and bushy, tipped with black and encircled with a number of rings of a dark hue. In some individuals the markings are less distinct, and they are sometimes altogether wanting, but in the typical wild cat they are quite prominent. The fur is rather long and thick, particularly so during the winter season, and always in the colder northern regions. The amount of havoc which these creatures often occasion is surprising, and their nocturnal inroads, in poultry yards and sheep folds, render them most hated pests to farmers in the countries where these animals abound. They seem to have a special appetite for the heads of fowls, and will often decapitate a half dozen in a single night, leaving the bodies in otherwise good condition to tell the story of their midnight murders. The home of the wild cat is made in some cleft of rock, or in the hollow of some aged tree, from which the creature issues in the dark hours and starts upon its marauding excursions. Its family numbers from three to six, and the female parent is smaller than the male, the total length of the latter being three feet. Inhabiting the most lonely and inaccessible ranges of rock and mountain, the wild cat is seldom seen during the daytime. At night, like its domestic relative, he prowls far and wide, walking with the same stealthy step and hunting his game in the same tiger-like manner. He is by no means a difficult animal to trap, being easily deceived and taking a bait without any hesitation. The wild cat haunts the shores of lakes and rivers, and it is here that the traps may be set for them. Having caught and killed one of the colony, the rest of them can be easily taken if the body of the dead victim be left near their hunting ground and surrounded with the traps carefully set and concealed beneath leaves moss or the like. Every wild cat that is in the neighborhood will be certain to visit the body, and if the traps are rightly arranged many will be caught. The trap No. 3, page 141 is generally used. We would caution the young trapper in his approach to an entrapped wild cat, as the strength and ferocity of this animal under such circumstances, or when otherwise "hard pressed," is perfectly amazing. When caught in a trap they spring with terrible fury at any one who approaches them, not waiting to be assailed, and when cornered or hemmed in by a hunter they will often turn upon their pursuer, and springing at his face will attack him with most consummate fury, often inflicting serious and sometimes fatal wounds. When hunted and attacked by dogs, the wild cat is a most desperate and untiring fighter, and extremely difficult to kill, for which reason it has been truthfully said that "if a tame cat has nine lives, a wild cat must have a dozen." The twitch-up, erected on a large scale, is utilized to a considerable extent in England in the capture of these animals; and these, together with steel traps and dead-falls, are about the only machines used for their capture. We would suggest the garrote, bow and gun trap also as being very effective. The bait may consist of the head of a fowl or a piece of rabbit or fowl flesh: or, indeed, flesh of almost any kind will answer, particularly of the bird kind. In skinning the wild cat the same directions given under the head of the Fox may be followed, or the pelt may be ripped up the belly and spread on a hoop stretcher, page 275.
THE BEAR. There are several species of the Bear tribe which inhabit our continent, the most prominent of which are the Grizzly, and the Musquaw or common Black Bear. There is no other animal of this country which is more widely and deservedly dreaded than the grizzly bear. There are other creatures, the puma and wild cat, for instance, which are dangerous when cornered or wounded, but they are not given to open and deliberate attack upon human beings. The grizzly, however, or "Ephraim," as he is commonly termed by trappers, often displays a most unpleasant readiness to attack and pursue a man, even in the face of fire arms. In many localities, however, where hunting has been pursued to considerable extent, these animals have learned from experience a wholesome fear of man, and are not so ready to assume the offensive, but a "wounded" grizzly is one of the most horrible antagonists of which it is possible to conceive, rushing upon its victim with terrible fury, and dealing most tearing and heavy blows with its huge claws. In length this formidable animal often exceeds eight feet, and its color varies from yellowish to brownish black, and some specimens are found of a dirty grey color. The legs are usually darker than the rest of the body, and the face is generally of a lighter tint. The fore limbs of the animal are immensely powerful; and the foot of a full-grown individual is fully eighteen inches long, and armed with claws five inches in length. The grizzly inhabits the Rocky Mountain regions and northward, being found in considerable numbers in the western part of British America. Its hair is thick and coarse, except in the young animal, which possesses a beautiful fur. All other creatures seem to stand in fear of this formidable beast. Even the huge bison, or buffalo, of the Western Prairies sometimes falls a victim to the grizzly bear, and the very imprint of a bear's foot upon the soil is a warning which not even a hungry wolf will disregard. Its food consists of whatever animal it can seize, whether human or otherwise. He also devours green corn, nuts, and fruits of all kinds. In his earlier years he is a good climber, and will ascend a tree with an agility which is surprisingly inconsistent with the unwieldy proportions of his body. The average weight of a full-grown grizzly is over eight hundred pounds, and the girth around the body is about eight feet. The Black bear, or Musquaw, which we illustrate is common throughout nearly all the half settled-districts of North America. But as the fur and fat are articles of great commercial value, the hunters and trappers have exercised their craft with such skill and determination that the animals are gradually decreasing in numbers. The total length of the black bear is seldom more than six feet, and its fur is smooth and glossy in appearance. The color of the animal is rightly conveyed by its name, the cheeks only partaking of a reddish fawn color. It possesses little of that fierceness which characterizes the grizzly, being naturally a very quiet and retiring creature, keeping itself aloof from mankind, and never venturing near his habitations except when excited by the pangs of fierce hunger. When pursued or cornered it becomes a dangerous antagonist; and its furious rage often results in fearful catastrophes to both man and beast. Nothing but a rifle ball in the right spot will check the creature, when wrought up to this pitch of fury, and an additional wound only serves to increase its terrible ferocity. Bear-chasing is an extremely dangerous sport; and there are few bear-hunters in the land, however skilful, but what can show scars from the claws or teeth of some exasperated bruin. The food of the black bear is mostly of a vegetable character, animal diet not being indulged in unless pressed by hunger. At such times it seems to especially prefer a young pig as the most desirable delicacy; and even full-grown hogs, it is said, are sometimes lifted from their pens and carried off in his deadly embrace. Honey is his especial delight; and he will climb trees with great agility in order to reach a nest of bees, there being few obstacles which his ready claws and teeth will not remove where that dainty is in view. He is also very fond of acorns, berries, and fruits of all kinds. The young of the bear are produced in January or February, and are from one to four in number. They are very small and covered with grey hair, which coat they retain until they are one year of age. The flesh of the bear is held in high esteem among hunters, and when properly prepared is greatly esteemed by epicures. The fat of the animal is much used under the title of "Bear grease," and is believed to be an infallible hair rejuvenator, and therefore becomes a valuable article of commerce. The bear generally hibernates during the winter, choosing some comfortable residence which it has prepared in the course of the summer, or perhaps betaking itself to the hollow of some tree. Sometimes, in case of early snow, the track of the bears may be distinguished, and if followed will probably lead to their dens, in which they can be secured with logs until it is desired to kill them. The black bear has a habit of treading in a beaten track, which is easily detected by the eye of an experienced hunter or trapper, and turned to good account in trapping the animal. There are various modes of accomplishing this result. The bear Dead-fall, described on page 17, is, perhaps, the most commonly used, and the Pit-fall, page 31, and "Giant Coop" trap are also excellent. The Gun trap and stone deadfall, page 20, we also confidently recommend. When a steel trap is used it requires the largest size, especially made for the purpose. It should be supplied with a short and very strong chain firmly secured to a very heavy clog or grappling-iron page 147. If secured to a tree or other stationary object, the captured animal is likely to gnaw or tear his foot away, if, indeed, he does not break the trap altogether by the quick tightening of the chain. The clog should be only heavy enough to be an impediment, and may consist of a log or heavy stone. The grappling-iron, however, is more often used in connection with the bear trap. It is a common method in trapping the bear to construct a pen of upright branches, laying the trap at its opening, and covering it with leaves. The bait is then placed at the back in such a position that the animal, on reaching for it, will be sure to put his foot in the trap. An experienced trapper soon discovers natural openings between rocks or trees, which may be easily modified, and by the addition of a few logs so improved upon as to answer his purpose as well as a more elaborate enclosure, with much less trouble. Any arrangement whereby the bear will be obliged to tread upon the trap in order to secure the bait, is, of course, all that is required. The bait may be hung on the edge of a rock five feet from the ground, and the trap set on a smaller rock beneath it. He will thus be almost sure to rest his forefoot on the latter rock in order to reach the bait, and will thus be captured. Another way is to set the trap in a spring of water or swampy spot. Lay a lump of moss over the pan, suspending the bait beyond the trap. The moss will offer a natural foot-rest, and the offending paw will be secured. Bears possess but little cunning, and will enter any nook or corner without the slightest compunction when in quest of food. They are especially fond of sweets, and, as we have said, are strongly attracted by honey, being able to scent it from a great distance. On this account it is always used, when possible, by trappers in connection with other baits. These may consist of a fowl, fruit, or flesh of any kind, and the honey should be smeared over it. Skunk cabbage is said to be an excellent bait for the bear; and in all cases a free use of the Oil of Anise page 152, sprinkling it about the traps, is also advisable. Should the device fail, it is well to make a trail (see page 153) in several directions from the trap, and extending for several rods. A piece of wood, wet with Oil of Anise, will answer for the purpose. The general method of skinning the bear consists in first cutting from the front of the lower jaw down the belly to the vent, after which the hide may be easily removed. The hoop-stretcher page 275, will then come into good use in the drying and preparing of the skin for market.
THE RACCOON. Although allied to the Bear family, this animal possesses much in common with the fox, as regards its general disposition and character. It has the same slyness and cunning, the same stealthy tread, besides an additional mischievousness and greed. It is too common to need any description here, being found plentifully throughout nearly the whole United States. The bushy tail, with its dark rings, will be sufficient to identify the animal in any community. Raccoon hunts form the subject of many very exciting and laughable stories, and a "coon chase," to this day is a favorite sport all over the country. The raccoon, or "coon," as he is popularly styled, is generally hunted by moonlight. An experienced dog is usually set on the trail and the fugitive soon seeks refuge in a tree, when its destruction is almost certain. Hence the term "treed coon," as applied to an individual when in a dangerous predicament. Besides possessing many of the peculiarities of the fox, the "coon" has the additional accomplishment of being a most agile and expert climber, holding so firmly to the limb by its sharp claws as to defy all attempts to shake it off. The home of the raccoon is generally in a hollow tree; the young are brought forth in May, and are from four to six in number. In captivity this animal makes a very cunning and interesting pet, being easily tamed to follow its master, and when dainties are in view becomes a most adroit pickpocket. Its food is extensive in variety, thus making it quite an easy matter to keep the creature in confinement. Nuts and fruits of all kinds it eagerly devours, as well as bread, cake and potatoes. It manifests no hesitation at a meal of rabbit, rat, squirrel, or bird, and rather likes it for a change, and when he can partake of a dessert of honey or molasses his enjoyment knows no bounds. Frogs, fresh water clams, green corn, and a host of other delicacies come within the range of his diet, and he may sometimes be seen digging from the sand the eggs of the soft-shelled turtle, which he greedily sucks. We cordially recommend the coon as a pet. He becomes very docile, and is full of cunning ways, and if the young ones can be traced to their hiding-place in some hollow tree, and secured, if not too young, we could warrant our readers a great deal of real sport and pleasure in rearing the little animals and watching their ways. In cold climates the raccoon lies dormant in the winter, only venturing out on occasional mild days; but in the Southern States he is active throughout the year, prowling about by day and by night in search of his food, inserting his little sharp nose into every corner, and feeling with his slender paws between stones for spiders and bugs of all kinds. He spies the innocent frog with his head just out of the water, and pouncing upon him, he dispatches him without a moment's warning. There seems to be no limits to his rapacity, for he is always eating and always hungry. The print of the raccoon's paw in the mud or snow is easily recognized, much resembling the impression made by the foot of a babe. The best season for trapping the coon is late in the fall, winter, and early spring, or from and between the months of October and April. During this time the pelts are in excellent condition. Early in the spring when the snow is disappearing, the coons come out of their hiding places to start on their foraging tours; and at this time are particularly susceptible to a tempting bait, and they may be successfully trapped in the following manner:— Take a steel trap and set it on the edge of some pool, or stream where the coons are known to frequent: let it be an inch or so under the water, and carefully chained to a clog. The bait may consist of a fish, frog, or head of a fowl, scented with Oil of Anise, and suspended over the traps about two feet higher, by the aid of a sapling secured in the ground. The object of this is to induce the animal to jump for it, when he will land with his foot in the trap. Another method is to construct a V shaped pen set the trap near the entrance, and, fastening the bait in the angle, cover the trap loosely with leaves, and scent the bait as before with the anise. The trap should be at such a distance from the bait that the animal, in order to reach it, will be obliged to tread upon the pan, which he will be sure to do, his greed overcoming his discretion. Any arrangement whereby the animal will be obliged to tread upon the trap in order to reach the bait will be successful. The beaten track of the coons may often be discovered in soft ground, and a trap carefully concealed therein will soon secure its victim. Another method is to set the trap near the coon tracks, spreading a few drops of anise on the pan and covering the whole with leaves. The coon, attracted by the scent, will feel around in the leaves for the bait, and thus "put his foot in it." In the South they construct a coon trap from a hollow log, either having the ends supplied with lids, which fall just like the Rat trap page 100 as the animal passes through, or else constructed with nooses, similar to the Box-snare, page 56. Box traps of a style similar to that described on page 103 are also excellent, and a strong twitch-up, of any of the various kinds we have described, will be found to work admirably. Many of the suggestions in trapping the mink, page 190, will be found equally, serviceable in regard to the coon. The skin of this animal should be removed as recommended for the fox, and similarly stretched. It may also be skinned by first ripping up the belly, and spread on a hoop stretcher. page 275.
THE BADGER. The American Badger is mostly confined to the Northwestern parts of the United States, and it is a curious little animal. In size its body is slightly smaller than the fox. Its general color is grey, approaching to black on the head and legs. There is a white streak extending from the tip of the animal's long nose over the top of the head and fading off near the shoulders. The cheeks are also white, and a broad and definitely marked black line extends from the snout back around the eyes ending at the neck. The grey of this animal is produced from the mixture of the varied tints of its fur, each hair presenting a succession of shades. At the root it is of a deep grey; this fades into a tawny yellow, and is followed by a black, the hair being finally tipped with white. The fur is much used in the manufacture of fine paint brushes, a good "Badger blender" being a most useful accessory in the painter's art. The badger is slow and clumsy in its actions, except when engaged in digging, his capacities in this direction being so great as to enable him to sink himself into the ground with marvellous rapidity. The nest of the animal is made in the burrow, and the young are three or four in number. His diet is as variable and extensive as that of the coon, and consists of anything in any way eatable. Snails, worms, rats, mice and moles, seem to have a particular attraction for him; and he seems to take especial delight in unearthing the stores of the wild bees, devouring honey, wax and grubs together, and caring as little for the stings of the angry bees as he would of the bills of so many mosquitoes, the thick coating of fur forming a perfect protection against his winged antagonists. The badger is very susceptible to human influence, and can be effectually tamed with but little trouble. Although his general appearance would not indicate it, he is a sly and cunning animal, and not easily captured in a trap of any kind. He has been known to set at defiance all the traps that were set for him, and to devour the baits without suffering for his audacity. He will sometimes overturn a trap and spring it from the under side, before attempting to remove the bait. Although not quite as crafty as the fox, it is necessary to use much of the same caution in trapping the badger, as a bare trap seldom wins more than a look of contempt from the wary animal. The usual mode of catching the creature is to set the trap size No. 3 at the mouth of its burrow, carefully covering it with loose earth and securing it by a chain to a stake. Any of the methods used in trapping the fox will also be found to work admirably. The dead-fall or garrote will also do good service. Bait with a rat, mouse, or with whatever else the animal is especially fond, and scent with Oil of Anise or Musk. In early spring, while the ground is still hard, badgers are easily captured by flooding their burrows. After being satisfied that the animal is in its hole, proceed to pour in pail full after pail full of water at the entrance. He will not long be able to stand this sort of thing, and he may be secured as he makes his exit at the opening of the burrow. The skin should be removed whole, as in the case of the fox, or as described for the beaver, and stretched as therein indicated.
THE BEAVER. The Beaver of North America has now a world-wide reputation for its wonderful instinct and sagacity. The general appearance of this animal is that of a very large muskrat with a broad flattened tail, and the habits of both these animals are in many respects alike. The beaver is an amphibious creature and social in its habits of living, large numbers congregating together and forming little villages, and erecting their dome-like huts like little Esquimaux. The muskrat has this same propensity, but the habitation of the beaver is on a much more extensive scale. These huts or "Beaver lodges," are generally made in rivers and brooks; although sometimes in lakes or large ponds. They are chiefly composed of branches, moss, grass and mud, and are large enough to accommodate a family of five or six. The form of the "lodges" is dome-like, and it varies considerably in size. The foundation is made on the bottom of the river, and the hut is built up like a mound, often twenty feet in diameter and projecting several feet above the surface of the water. The walls of this structure are often five or six feet thick, and the roofs are all finished off with a thick layer of mud laid on with marvellous smoothness. These huts form the winter habitations of the beavers, and as this compost of mud, grass and branches becomes congealed into a solid mass by the severe frosts of our northern winter, it can easily be seen that they afford a safe shelter against any intruder and particularly the wolverine, which is a most deadly enemy to the beaver. So hard does this frozen mass become as to defy even the edges of iron tools, and the breaking open of the "Beaver houses" is at no time an easy task. Beavers work almost entirely in the dark; and a pond which is calm and placid in the day time will be found in the night to be full of life and motion, and the squealing and splashing in the water will bear evidence of their industry. Lest the beavers should not have a sufficient depth of water at all seasons, they are in the habit of constructing veritable dams to ensure that result. These dams display a wonderful amount of reason and skill, and, together with the huts, have won for the beaver a reputation for engineering skill which the creature truly deserves. In constructing these ingenious dams the beavers, by the aid of their powerful teeth, gnaw down trees sometimes of large size, and after cutting them into smaller pieces float them on the water to the spot selected for the embankment. In swift streams this embankment is built so as to arch against the current, thus securing additional strength, and evincing an instinct on the part of the animal which amounts almost to reason. In cutting down the trees the beaver gnaws a circular cut around the trunk, cutting deepest on the side toward the water, thus causing the trunk to fall into the stream. The first step in constructing the embankment is to lay the logs down cautiously in the required line of the dam, afterwards weighting them with heavy stones, which the beavers by their united efforts roll upon them. The foundation of the embankment is often ten feet in width, and is built up by continued heaping of branches, stones and mud, until it forms a barrier of immense strength and resisting power. In many cases, through a lapse of years, and through a consequent accumulation of floating leaves, twigs, and seeds of plants, these embankments become thickly covered with vegetation, and, in many cases in the Hudson Bay country, have even been known to nurture trees of considerable dimensions. The broad flat tail of the animal serves a most excellent purpose, in carrying the mud to the dams or huts, and in matting and smoothing it into a solidity. The entrances to the various huts are all beneath the water, and they all open into one common ditch, which is purposely dug in the bed of the river, and is too deep to be entirely frozen. In the summer time the huts are vacated, and the beavers make their abode in burrows on the banks of the stream, which serve as a secure retreat at all times, and particularly in winter when their houses are molested. The Indians of the Northwest are aware of this fact, and turn it to good account in the capture of the animals. When the beaver's village is in a small creek, or brook, it is first necessary to stake the water across both above and below the huts. The next thing is to ascertain the exact spots of the burrows in the banks, and when we consider the river is covered with ice, this seems a rather difficult problem. But this is where the Indian shows his skill. He starts upon the ice, provided with an ice chisel secured to a long, stout handle. With this he strikes upon the ice, following the edge of the stream. The sound of the blow determines to his practiced ear the direct spot opposite the opening of the burrows, and at this point a hole a foot in diameter is made through the ice. Following the edge of the bank he continues his search, and in like manner cuts the holes through the ice until all the retreats are discovered. While the expert Indians are thus engaged, the "squaws" are occupied in the more laborious work of breaking open the houses, and the beavers, alarmed at the invasion of their sanctums, make for the banks, and the ready huntsmen stationed at the various holes, watch for their victims beneath the openings, until a violent motion or discoloration of the water betrays their passage beneath. The entrance to the holes in the bank are then instantly closed with stakes and the beaver is made prisoner in his burrow. When the depth of the burrow will admit, the arm of the hunter is introduced, and the animal pulled out, but otherwise a long hook lashed to a pole is employed for this purpose. Scores of beavers are sometimes taken in this way in a few hours. Spearing is also often successfully resorted to, and when the ice is thin and transparent the beavers may be clearly observed as they come to the surface, beneath the ice, for air. The general color of the animal is reddish brown, this tint being imparted principally by the long hairs of the fur. There is an inner and softer down of a grey color, which lies next the skin, and which is the valuable growth of the fur. The total length of the animal is about three feet and a half, the flat, paddle shaped, scale-covered tail being about a foot in length. The young are brought forth in April or May, from three to seven at a litter, and take to the water when a month old. The first four years in the beaver's life is spent under the "maternal roof," after which period they shift for themselves. To trap the beaver successfully, requires the utmost caution, as the senses of the animal are so keen, and he is so sagacious withal, that he will detect the recent presence of the trapper from the slightest evidences. The traps should be washed clean and soaked in ley, before using, and thereafter handled with gloves, as a mere touch of the finger will leave a scent which the acute sense of the beaver will easily perceive. All footprints should be carefully obliterated by throwing water upon them, and some trappers say that the mere act of spitting on the ground in the neighborhood of the traps has been known to thwart success. Almost the only bait used in trapping the beaver is the preparation called "barkstone" by the trappers, or "castoreum" in commerce. This substance is fully described on page 150 under the head of "Scent Baits." To the barkstone the trapper is mostly indebted for his success, and the effect of its odor on the beaver is something surprising. Our best trappers inform us that these animals will scent this odor for a great distance, and will fairly "squeal with delight," not being easy until the savory bait is discovered, which almost invariably results in capture. Taking advantage of this curious propensity, the trapper always carries a supply of castoreum in a closed vessel. There are various ways of trapping the beaver, of which we shall present the best. An examination of the river bank will easily disclose the feeding place of the beavers, as evinced by the absence of the bark on the branches and trunks of trees. At this spot, in about four inches of water, set your trap, which should be a Newhouse No. 4. Weight the end of the chain with a stone as large as your head, and, if possible, rest it on the edge of some rock projecting into deep water, having a smaller rope or chain leading from the stone to the shore. A small twig, the size of your little finger, should then be stripped of its bark, and after chewing or mashing one end, it should be dipped in the castoreum. Insert this stick in the mud, between the jaws of the trap, letting it project about six inches above the water. The beaver is soon attracted by the odor of the bait, and in reaching for it, his foot is caught in the trap. In his fright he will immediately jump for deep water, thus dislodging the stone, which will sink him to the bottom, and thus drown him. The smaller chain or rope will serve as a guide to the trap, and the victim may be drawn to the surface. Another plan is to set the trap in about a foot of water, chaining it fast to a stout pole securely driven in the mud further out in the stream, and near deep water. Bait as before. The trap being thus fastened will prevent the efforts of the animal to drag it ashore, where he would be certain to amputate his leg and walk off. There is another method, which is said to work excellently. The chain is secured to a very heavy stone, and sunk in deep water, and the trap set and baited near shore, in about a foot of water. This accomplishes the same purpose as the pole first described, and is even surer, as the animal will sometimes use his teeth in severing the wood, and thereby make his escape. In the case of the stone a duplicate rope or chain will be required to lift it in case of capture. The trap may be set at the entrance to the holes in the banks, two or three inches under water, implanting the stick with the castoreum bait directly over the pan, a few inches above the water. If the water should be deep near this spot, it is an excellent plan to weight the end of the chain with a large stone with a "leader" from it also, as already described. Insert two or three sticks in the bank beneath the water, and rest the stone upon them. When the beaver is caught he will turn a somersault into deep water, at the same time dislodging the stone, which will sink him. No sooner is a break ascertained in the dam than all the beavers unite in fixing it, and this peculiarity of habit may be turned to account in trapping them. Make a slight break in the dam, five inches across, beneath the water. On the under side of the break, and of course, on the inside of the dam, the trap should be set. The beavers will soon discover the leak and the capture of at least one is certain. The trap may be also set where the beavers are wont to crawl on shore, being placed several inches below the water in such a position that they will step on it when in the act of ascending the banks. Where the weighted stone is not used, the sliding pole page 145 should always be employed, as it is necessary to drown the animal, to prevent amputation and escape. The food of the beaver consists chiefly of the bark of various trees, together with aquatic plants. The fur is valuable only in the late fall, winter, and early spring. In skinning the beaver, a slit is made from the under jaw to the vent, after which it is easily removed. It should be tacked to a flat board, fur side in, or stretched by means of a hoop, as described on page 275. THE MUSKRAT. The muskrat, or musquash, is very much like a beaver on a small scale, and is so well-known throughout the United States that a detailed description or illustration will hardly be necessary. Reduce the size of the beaver to one foot in length, and add a long flattened tail, instead of the spatula-shaped appendage of this animal, and we will have a pretty good specimen of a muskrat. The body has that same thick-set appearance, and the gnawing teeth are very large and powerful. Like the beaver, the muskrat builds its dome-like huts in ponds or swamps, which it frequents; and although not as large as those of the beaver they are constructed in the same manner and of the same materials. Muskrats are mostly nocturnal in their habits; they are tireless swimmers, and in the winter travel great distances beneath the ice; all of which peculiarities are like the beaver. Their food is quite variable, consisting of grass and roots, oats, corn and other grain, apples and nuts, and even tomatoes, turnips, carrots, mussels and clams, whenever these can be found. The muskrat is a native of all of the Eastern, Western, and Middle States and also the Southern States, with the exception of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. They are also found in Canada and the Arctic regions, and in the North-west. They are hunted and captured as a means of support to the native tribes of Indians who sell or trade the furs to Eastern dealers. The fur somewhat resembles that of the mink in texture, although not as fine, and the color varies from dark brown above to grey beneath. It is in its best condition during the winter, especially in March. The animal possesses a musky smell, from which it takes its name. It is said by many that the flesh of the animal, when carefully prepared, becomes quite palatable food. Their houses are so nearly like those of the beaver that a second description is scarcely necessary. They are often five or six feet in height, and the entrances are all under water. Dozens of these huts may often be seen in ponds and marshes, and sometimes they exist in such numbers as to give the appearance of a veritable Esquimaux village. These houses are used only in the winter season. In general the muskrat lives in burrows, which it excavates in the banks of ponds or streams, bringing forth its young, from three to nine in number, in the nest, which it forms at the end of the tunnel. They are very prolific, producing three litters a year. Like the beaver, otter and mink, the muskrat can travel long distances under the ice with only one supply of fresh air, and its method is certainly very interesting. Before plunging beneath the ice the animal fills its lungs with air, and when under the water it swims until it can no longer hold its breath. It then rises up beneath the ice, empties its lungs, the air remaining in bubbles beneath the ice. In a short time this air absorbs sufficient oxygen from the water and ice as to be life-sustaining, when the animal again inhales it and proceeds on its journey. It is by this means that the beaver, muskrat and mink are enabled to travel such great distances beneath unbroken ice, and it is certainly a very novel and interesting method. Where the ice is thin and transparent these animals are sometimes captured through the means of this habit. A heavy stroke on the frozen hut will drive its occupants to the water, and their course may easily be followed through the ice. If one of them is tracked, he will presently be seen to stop at the surface of the water for fresh oxygen, as already described. The bubbles will soon appear, and if the hunter immediately strikes with an axe or heavy stick directly on the spot, the submerged animal will be literally driven away from its breath, and will of course drown in a very few minutes. A short search will soon reveal the dead creature, after which he may be taken out through a hole cut in the ice. Otter and mink are sometimes taken in the same way. In many localities great numbers of muskrats are also captured by spearing, either through the ice or through the walls of their houses. In the latter case, two are often taken at once. This method is quite uncertain and unreliable, as the walls of the hut are often so firmly frozen as to defy the thrust of the hardest steel, and a fruitless attempt will drive the inmates from their house at once. The spear generally used consists of a single shaft of steel about eighteen inches in length and half an inch in diameter, barbed at the point, and is feruled to a solid handle five feet long. In spearing through the hut the south side is generally selected, as being more exposed to the heat of the sun. Great caution is necessary, as the slightest noise will drive out the inmates. The spear should be thrust in a slanting direction, a few inches above the surface of the ice. Where many houses exist it is well to destroy all but one. Into this the whole tribe will centre, and by successive spearing they may all be captured. When the spear has been thrust into the house, it must be thus left until a hole is cut with a hatchet, through which to remove the game. Spearing through the ice is a better method, but for general service there is no means of capture more desirable than by trapping. The steel trap No. 1 or 2 is the size particularly adapted for the muskrat, and may be set in various ways. The most common method is to set the trap under two inches of water on the projecting logs or stones on the border of the streams where the "signs" of the animal indicate its recent presence. The trap should of course be secured by a chain, ringed to a sliding pole, page 145, which will lead the animal into deep water when captured, and thus effect its speedy death by drowning. In this case bait is not necessary. If their feeding grounds can be discovered, or if their tracks indicate any particular spot where they crawl ashore at the water's edge, at this point a trap may be set with good success. In this instance it is well also to set it under water, baiting with a piece of turnip, parsnip, apple, or the like, suspended a few inches above the pan of the trap. Late in the fall, when collecting their building material, they often form large beds of dried grasses and sticks, and a trap set in these beds and covered with some loose substance, such as grass, chaff, or the like, will often secure the animal. The trap, in this case should be attached to a spring-pole, page 145 as the muskrat is a wonderful adept at self-amputation, when its escape depends upon it. The trap is sometimes set in the interior of the house, and may be accomplished by first breaking an opening in the wall, near the ice, the trap being inserted and set, afterwards covering it with the loose grass and moss, which is generally abundant in the interior of these huts. When this is done, the chain should be secured to a stick on the outside, and the hole repaired. No spring or sliding-pole is necessary in this method, as the animal when caught will immediately run for the water, and the weight of the trap will sink and drown its prisoner. Scent baits are sometimes used in trapping the muskrat, the musk taken from the female animal being particularly valued. The Oils of Rhodium and Amber, page 151 are also successfully employed by many trappers; a few drops of either in the neighborhood of the trap, or directly upon it, being sufficient. Although steel traps are most generally used, there are several other devices which are equally if not even more desirable. Chief among these is the barrel trap, commonly and successfully employed in many parts of New England, where these animals often exist in such numbers as to render their destruction a matter of necessity. The above trap consists merely of an old barrel, sunk to its upper edge in the river bank, and about half filled with water. On the surface of the water a few light pieces of wood are floated, over which the bait, consisting of carrot, sweet apple, or turnip, is placed. A trail is then made by dragging a piece of scented meat from the barrel in various directions, and a few pieces of the bait are also strewn along these trails. The muskrats will thus be led to the barrel, and will be certain to jump in after the tempting morsels, and their escape is impossible. No less than a dozen muskrats have been thus caught in a single barrer in one night, and a few of these traps have been known almost to exterminate the musquashes in localities where they had previously existed in such numbers as to become a pestilence to the neighborhood. A barrel trap constructed on the principle described on page 131 is also equally effective, although rather more complicated in construction. The Twitch-up is often used, and possesses the advantage of a trap and spring-pole combined. Box traps, page 103, are also to be recommended. The skin of the muskrat may be removed in the same manner as hereinafter described for the otter, with the exception of the tail. This is considered the best method. It may also be taken off flat by ripping from the under jaw to the vent, and peeling around the eyes and mouth, letting the skin of the legs come off whole, without cutting. Another common method consists in cutting off the feet, and then ripping with a knife from the front of the lower jaw down the neck and belly to a point a little beyond the forelegs. The lips, eyes, and ears are then carefully skinned, and the hide is stripped backwards from the body. In the latter method the bow-stretcher, page 274, is used.
THE OTTER. The fur of this animal is of such exquisite softness and beauty as to be in great demand for commercial purposes, bringing a very high price in the fur market. The otter cannot be said to be a common animal, although it is found throughout the United States and Canada, being rather more plentiful in the cold northern localities than in the southern latitudes. It is an amphibious animal, and can remain for a long time beneath the water. In size it is larger than a cat, and it possesses a tapering tail some eighteen inches in length. Its fur is of a rich brown color, and the hair is of two kinds, the one a close, fine, and exquisitely soft down, which lies next the skin, and which serves to protect the animal from the extremes of heat and cold, and the other composed of long shining coarser hairs, which permit the animal to glide easily through the water. In producing the beautiful otter furs of fashion these long hairs are plucked out, leaving only the softer down next the hide. The food of the otter mostly consists of fish, for the pursuit of which he has been admirably endowed by nature. His body is lithe and supple, and his feet are furnished with a broad web, which connects the toes, and is of infinite service in propelling the animal through the water when in search of his finny prey. His long, broad and flat tail serves as a most effectual rudder, and the joints of his powerful legs are so flexible as to permit of their being turned in almost any direction. The habitation of the otter is made in the banks of the river which it frequents, or sometimes in a hollow log or crevice beneath rocks. The animal generally prefers to adopt and occupy a natural hollow or deserted excavation, rather than to dig a burrow for itself. The nest is composed of dry rushes, grasses and sticks, and the young, three or four in number, are produced in early spring. The track which the otter makes in the mud or snow is easily distinguished from that of any other animal, on account of the "seal" or impression which is made by a certain ball on the sole of the foot. Otter hunting is a favorite sport in England, and indeed in the northern parts of our own country. Hounds are used to pursue the animal, and on account of the powerfully scented secretion with which the creature is furnished by nature, its track is readily followed. When attacked, the otter is a fierce and terrible fighter, biting and snapping with most deadly energy and never yielding as long as life remains in the body. The bite of an angry otter is extremely severe, and for this reason we would caution the amateur trapper on handling the animal should one be taken alive. Although so fierce and savage when attacked, the otter is easily tamed when taken young, and can be taught to catch fish for the service of its master, rather than for the gratification of its own palate. In the winter when the snow is on the ground, the otter navigates by sliding, and when on the ice he may often be seen to run a few steps and then throw himself on his belly and slide the distance of several feet. They are very fond of playing in the snow, and make most glorious use of any steep snow-covered bank, sloping toward the river. Ascending to the top of such an incline they throw themselves on the slippery surface and thus slide swiftly into the water. This pastime is often continued for hours, and is taken advantage of in trapping the playful creatures. A short search will reveal the place where they crawl from the water on to the bank, and at this spot, which will generally be shallow, a steel trap should be set on the bed of the river, about four inches under water. The trap should be secured by a stout chain, the latter being ringed to a sliding pole, page 145, which will lead the animal when caught into deep water. If deep water is not near at hand, the spring pole, page 144, may be used, the object of either being to prevent the animal from gnawing off its leg and thus making its escape. The trap may also be placed at the top or the slide, two or three feet back of the slope, a place being hollowed out to receive it and the whole covered with snow. To make success more certain a log may be laid on each side of the trap, thus forming an avenue in which the animal will be sure to run before throwing itself on the slope. Care should be taken to handle nothing with the bare hands, as the otter is very keen scented and shy. Anoint the trap with a few drops of fish oil or otter musk, see page 151. If none of these are handy, ordinary musk will answer very well. The trap may also be set and weighted with a heavy stone and chain, as described for trapping the beaver. Another method still is to find some log in the stream having one end projecting above water. Sprinkle some musk on this projecting end and set the trap on the log in three or four inches of water, securing it firmly by a chain, also beneath the water. A rock which projects over the stream may also be utilized in the same way as seen in the page title at the opening of this section. Smear the musk on the edge which juts into the water, and secure the trap by the chain as before. When the animal is caught he will fall or jump into the water, and the weight of the trap and chain will sink him. In every case it is necessary to obliterate every sign of human presence by throwing water over every foot print, and over everything with which the naked hands have come in contact. Where the traps are thus set in the water it should be done while wading or in a boat. In the winter when the ponds and rivers are frozen over the otters make holes through the ice at which they come up to devour their prey. Where the water is a foot deep beneath any of these holes the trap may be set in the bottom, the chain being secured to a heavy stone. When the otter endeavors to emerge from the hole he will press his foot on the trap and will thus be caught. If the water is deep beneath the hole the trap may be baited with a small fish attached to the pan, and then carefully lowered with its chain and stone to the bottom. For this purpose the Newhouse, No. 3, is best adapted, as the otter is in this case caught by the head. The beaten track of the animal may often be discovered in the snow in the winter time, and a trap carefully sunk in such a furrow and covered so as to resemble its surroundings, will be likely to secure the first otter that endeavors to pass over it. A trap set at the mouth of the otter's burrow and carefully covered is also often successful, using the sliding pole, page 145, to lead him into deep water. Every trapper has his pet theories and methods of trapping all the different animals, and the otter has its full share. We have given several of the best methods; and anyone of them will secure the desired result of capture, and all of them have stood the test of time and experience. The skin of the otter should be removed whole, and the operation may be performed in the following manner: Slit down the hind legs to the vent; cut the skin loose around the vent, and slit up the entire length of the tail, freeing it from the bone. With the aid of the knife the skin should now be peeled off, drawing it backward and carefully cutting around the mouth and eyes before taking it from the head. With the fur thus inside, the skin is ready for the stretcher as described on page 273, and the tail should be spread out and tacked around the edges.
THE MINK. This animal, as will be seen by our illustration, has a long, slender body, something like the weasel, to which scientific family it belongs. It inhabits the greater part of North America, and is also found abundantly in Northern Europe. The color of its fur varies considerably in different individuals, the general tint being a rich, dark brown. The chin and throat are light colored, sometimes white, and this spot varies considerably in size in different individuals, sometimes extending down on the throat to a considerable distance. The total length of the animal is from thirteen to sixteen inches, its size being variable. The fur of the mink is excellent in quality, and has for many years been one of the "fancy furs" of fashion, a good prime skin often bringing from ten to twelve dollars. The introduction of the fur seal, however, and the universal demand for this as well as otter fur, has somewhat thrown the mink into comparative shade, although extra fine skins will still command high prices. The mink is an aquatic animal, inhabiting small rivers and streams, and living somewhat after the manner of the otter. It has a most wide range of diet, and will eat almost anything which is at all eatable. Fishes, frogs, and muskrats are his especial delight, and he will occasionally succeed in pouncing upon a snipe or wild duck, which he will greedily devour. Craw fish, snails, and water insects of all kinds also come within the range of his diet, and he sometimes makes a stray visit to some neighboring poultry yard to satisfy the craving of his abnormal hunger. A meal off from his own offspring often answers the same purpose; and a young chicken in the egg he considers the ne plus ultra of delicacies. The voracity of this animal is its leading characteristic, and is so largely in excess of its cunning or sagacity that it will often run headlong into a naked trap. Its sense of smell is exceedingly well developed, and through this faculty it is often enabled to track its prey with ease and certainty. The mink lives in burrows, in steep banks, or between rocks or the roots of trees, and the young, five or six in number, are brought forth in May. The chief occupation of the mink consists in perpetual search for something to eat, and, when so engaged, he may be seen running along the bank of the stream, peering into every nook and corner, and literally "leaving no stone unturned" in its eager search. Taking advantage of this habit, it becomes an easy matter to trap the greedy animal. Set your trap, a Newhouse No. 2, in an inch of water near the edge of the stream, and directly in front of a steep bank or rock, on which you can place your bait. The bait may be a frog, fish, or head of a bird, suspended about eighteen inches above the water, and should be so situated that in order to reach it, the mink will be obliged to tread upon the trap. The trap may also be set in the water and the bait suspended eighteen inches above it, by the aid of a switch planted in the mud near the trap. It is a good plan to scent the bait with an equal mixture of sweet oil and peppermint, with a little honey added. If there is deep water near, the sliding pole, page 145, should be used, and if not, the "spring pole" in every case, in order to prevent the captured mink from becoming a prey to larger animals, and also to guard against his escape by amputation, which he would otherwise most certainly accomplish. The trap may be set on the land, near the water's edge, baiting as just described, and lightly covered with leaves or dirt. Any arrangement of the trap whereby the animal is obliged to tread upon it in order to secure the bait, will be found effectual. The trap may be set at the foot of a tree, and the bait fastened to the trunk, eighteen inches above it. A pen, such as is described on page 144, may be constructed, and the trap and bait arranged as there directed. Minks have their regular beaten paths, and often visit certain hollow logs in their runways. In these logs they leave unmistakable signs of their presence, and a trap set in such a place is sure of success. Some trappers set a number of traps along the stream at intervals of several rods, connecting them by a trail, see page 153, the mink being thus led directly and almost certainly to his destruction. This trail is made by smearing a piece of wood with the "medicine" described at page 153, and dragging it on the line of the traps. Any mink which crosses this trail will follow it to the first trap, when he will, in all probability, be captured. A dead muskrat, crow, fish, or a piece of fresh meat dragged along the line answers the same purpose. The beaten tracks of the mink may often be discovered, and a trap set in such a track and covered with leaves, dirt or the like, will often be successful. Minks may also be easily caught in the dead-fall. Garrote trap or a twitch-up, baiting with fish, muskrat, flesh, or the head of a bird, of which the animal is especially fond. A liberal use of the "medicine" is also desirable. The fur of the mink is in its best condition in the late autumn, winter, and early spring, and the animal should be skinned as described for the fox.
THE PINE MARTEN. This animal belongs to the tribe of "weasels," and is closely allied to the celebrated sable, which it greatly resembles. The pine marten is so called because it inhabits the northern climates where pine forests abound, and spends much of its life in the trees in search of its prey. Its general appearance is truly represented in our illustration, its fur being of a rich brown color, with a lighter or white patch on the throat. Its total length, including the tail, is about twenty eight or thirty inches, of which the tail represents ten inches. It is mostly confined to the forests in the far north, and is comparatively rare further south than the latitude of Maine and the lakes. The fur of the pine marten is of considerable value, particularly if the animal be killed in the winter. A really fine skin is but little inferior to the celebrated sable, and is hardly distinguishable from it. The hair is long and glossy, and the under fur is beautifully soft and very thick. The dark colored skins are the most valuable. Although so nearly like the sable, the same comparison does not exist in regard to their proportionate market values, the marten fur bringing a much lower price. The marten is a shy and wary animal, withdrawing itself as far as possible from the sight of man, and building its habitation in the tops of trees, often seizing on the ready nest of some squirrel or bird, and adapting it to its purposes. It is a night prowler, and in the dark hours it traverses the trunks and branches of the trees in search of its prey. It moves with wonderful stealth and activity, and is enabled by its rapid and silent approach to steal unnoticed on many an unfortunate bird or squirrel, seizing it in its deadly grip before the startled creature can think to escape. Coming across a bird's nest, it makes sad havoc with the eggs or young, often adding the parent bird to his list of victims. Rabbits, partridges, and mice also fall into the marten's "bill of fare," and the list is often further increased by a visit to a poultry yard, when the animal murders and eats all it can and kills the rest for sport. In pouncing upon its prey, the marten invariably seizes its victim by the throat, often dispatching the luckless creature with a single bite. The martens generally are said to be very susceptible to human influence when taken young, and are very lively in a state of domestication. They are among the most graceful of animals, and in place of the disagreeable scent which renders many of their tribe offensive, this creature possesses an odor which is quite agreeable, and for this reason is often called the sweet marten in contradistinction to the foul marten or pole cat of Britain, which is like unto our skunk in the disgusting stench which it exhales. The dead-fall and Garrote traps are very successful in trapping the martin. They should be set several rods apart, in the forest or on the banks of streams, and a trail established by dragging a dead or roasted crow, entrails of a bird, or fresh meat from one trap to another, as described in relation to the mink, page 190. The twitch-up may also be used, and possesses the additional advantage of acting as a spring pole, thus holding the captured victim out of reach of larger animals, to which it might otherwise become a prey. Any of the varieties described under the title of "twitch-up" will answer the purpose, and a little experimenting will soon prove which one will be the most successful for this particular animal. The bait may consist of a bird's or fowl's head, fish, liver, or any fresh meat or entrails. The common box trap, page 103, or the box snare, page 56, may also be used to good purpose, but the former will need to be carefully watched lest the enclosed prisoner gnaw his way out and thus escape. When the steel trap is employed, it should be of the size of Newhouse, No. 2-1/2, set on the ground beneath some rock, and covered with leaves, rotten wood, or earth, and the bait fastened or suspended about eighteen inches above it, in such a position that the animal will be obliged to step upon the trap in order to reach it. An enclosure may be constructed of stones piled together, the trap being set and covered in the opening and the bait secured at the back. A staked pen, such as is described on page 143, with the trap and bait arranged as there directed, also works well. Wherever or however the trap is set, the bait should be so placed that the animal cannot possibly climb on any neighboring object to reach it. The hollow of a tree trunk forms an excellent situation for the trap, and the same hollow may also be baited at the back and a dead-fall constructed across its opening. The box or barrel pit-fall, described on page 127, is said to be very successful in trapping the marten, always baiting it with the platform secure for a few days before setting for capture. The same methods directed for the capture of the mink are also useful in trapping the marten. The animal should be skinned as described for the fox. THE FISHER. This animal is classed among the martens, and is principally to be found in Canada and the Northern United States, where it is known as the black cat, or woodshock. In our natural histories it is described under the name of the pekan. In general habits, this species resembles the other martens, but its body inclines more to the weasel shape. The fur is quite valuable, and much resembles the sable. Its color is generally of a greyish brown, the grey tint being found chiefly on the back, neck, head and shoulders, the legs, tail, and back of the neck being marked with dark brown. Like the marten, the fisher prowls by night, frequenting swampy places in quest of food. It builds its habitation in hollow trees, and in burrows, which it excavates in the banks of rivers or streams, and its young (generally twins) are produced in early spring. The trapping season for the fisher commences at about the middle of October, and extends to the middle of May, after which time the fur decreases in value. In trapping the fisher, the same plans may be used as for the marten and mink, as these animals much resemble each other in general habits. The steel trap arranged in an artificial or natural enclosure, or otherwise so set as that the animal will be obliged to step on it in order to reach the bait, will be successful and the use of composition "scent bait," described on page 153 will be found to enhance success. In every case where the steel trap is used the spring pole, page 144, should always be employed, for the reasons already described. Dead-falls, garrotes, box-traps, twitch-ups, or pit-falls, may all be employed to good advantage. Bait with a fish or bird, or fresh meat of any kind, and connect the various traps by a trail, as described for the mink and marten. Remove the skin as directed for the fox, and stretch as described on page 273.
THE SKUNK. This disgusting animal has won the unenviable but deserving reputation of being the most foul-smelling creature on the face of the globe. He belongs to the weasel tribe, and all these animals are noted for certain odors which they possess, but the skunk is pre-eminent in the utter noisomeness of the horrid effluvium which it exhales. This scent proceeds from a liquid secretion which collects in a gland beneath the insertion of the tail, and the animal has the power to eject or retain it at will. It must have been given to the creature as a means of defense, for there seems to be no animal that can withstand the influence of its fetid stench. Dogs are trained to hunt the animal, but until they have learned from experience the right method of attacking the fetid game, and have discovered the whereabouts of the animal's magazine of ammunition, they are of little use to the hunter, and are only too glad to plunge into some neighboring brook, or roll in some near earth, in hopes of ridding themselves of the stench which almost distracts them. The offensive propensities of the skunk are only exercised when the animal is alarmed or frightened. There are generally certain "premonitory symptoms" of attack which the creature usually exhibits, and it is well to retire from his "shooting range" as soon as they are observed. When the animal is ready to discharge his battery, he suddenly elevates his large bushy tail, over his body, and turns his back on his enemy. The result of the discharge fills the air for a great distance around, and man and beast fly from the neighborhood of the indescribable and fetid effluvium, which fairly makes one's nostrils ache. A single drop of this disgusting secretion on the clothes is enough to scent the whole garment, and it is almost impossible to rid the tainted fabric from the odor. It is extremely acrid in quality, and if a very small quantity fall upon the eyes, it is very apt to produce permanent blindness. Dogs, in their first experiences with the skunk, are frequently thus blinded, and there are well authenticated instances of human beings who have been deprived of their sight through their close proximity to an infuriated skunk. The writer, in his extreme youth, learned, through dear experience, the putrid qualities of this noisome quadruped. It was on one bright Sunday, in New England, and he was out in his Sunday clothing, gathering wild strawberries. He suddenly discovered a pretty little playful animal with bushy tail, romping in the grass near him. The creature was seemingly gentle, and showed no inclination to run away, and the pet-loving nature of the writer prompted an irresistible desire to capture so pretty a creature. Encouraged by its gentle manner, he eagerly ran towards the tempting prize, and grasping it by the bushy tail, which the animal had raised perpendicularly, as if for a handle, the pretty creature was locked in the affectionate embrace of its youthful admirer. But alas! he soon repented his rashness, and the treacherous "pet" was quickly flung away leaving its victim in such a foul state of overwhelming astonishment as can be more easily imagined than described. Every article of clothing worn on that eventful Sunday had to be buried, and it took weeks of Sundays before the odor could be thoroughly eradicated from the hair and skin of the individual who wore those Sunday garments. After this adventure, the youth became more cautious with respect to pretty little playful animals, with black and white fur and bushy tails. There is hardly a farmer in the country but what has had some amusing or serious experience with the skunk, and almost every trapper has, at one time or another, served as a target for his shooting propensities. Natural histories are replete with anecdotes of which this animal is the mephitic hero, and volumes might be filled to the glory of his strong-smelling qualities. Perhaps it is through the prejudice of the writer that he cannot enthusiastically recommend the skunk as a domestic pet; but it is nevertheless asserted, on good authority, that these animals, when reared from the young, become very interesting and playful in the household, and completely shut down on their objectionable faculties. Our illustration gives a very good idea of the animal, and it is so unlike any other creature that a further description will not be necessary. The prevailing colors are white and black; but these vary much in proportion, the animal sometimes being almost totally white, or altogether black. The fur is long, and comparatively coarse, being intermixed with long, glossy hairs, and is most valuable in the black animal. The body of the creature is about a foot and a half in length, exclusive of the tail, which adds about fourteen inches more. The skunk is generally nocturnal in its habits, secreting itself during the day in hollow trees, or crevices in rocks, or wood-piles. At night it ventures forth in quest of its food, which consists chiefly of grasshoppers, worms and other insects, wild fruit and such small animals in the shape of frogs, mice and birds as it can capture. The poultry yard often offers an irresistible temptation, and both fowls and eggs often serve to appease his appetite. The skunk is common throughout the greater part of North America, and in many localities the numbers increase very rapidly unless checked. The young are brought forth in burrows or holes in rocks during April or May, and are from six to nine in number. "Skunk fur" does not sound well when thought of in connection with a set of fashionable furs; and for this reason the pelt of this animal is dignified by the name of Alaska sable by all dealers in the article. When known by this fancy title it suddenly becomes a very popular addition to fashion's winter wardrobe, and is one of the leading furs which are exported to meet the demand of foreign countries. Foul as the animal is, it seldom soils its own fur with its offensive fluid; and when carefully skinned the fur is as saleable as that of any other animal. The Skunk is trapped in a variety of ways; and as the animal is not cunning, no great skill is required. The steel trap is most commonly used, as other wooden varieties, box traps or dead-falls, for instance, are apt to absorb and retain the stench of the animal. In using the steel trap the size No. 2 should be taken. It may be set at the entrance to their burrows or in their feeding grounds. It should be covered with loose earth or chaff, or some other light substance, and baited with small bits of meat, dead mice, or eggs placed around it. The enclosure illustrated on page 143 also answers well, and in all cases the spring pole, page 144, should be used. The dead-fall, page 107, is often employed, and the twitchup, page 43, is a particularly effective contrivance for their capture, often preventing the evil consequences of the odor by causing instant dislocation of the neck, and this without injuring the fur. A stroke upon the backbone near the tail, by producing paralysis of the parts, also prevents the animal from using his offensive powers, and a dead-fall so constructed as to fall upon the animal at this part will accomplish the same effect. To manage this it is only necessary to place the bait far back in the enclosure, so that the skunk on reaching it will bring the rear portion of his body beneath the suspended log. The scent of the skunk is as we have said, almost ineradicable, but we would recommend chloride of lime as the most effectual antidote. It is also said by some trappers that the odor may be dissipated by packing the garment in fresh hemlock boughs, letting it thus remain for a couple of days. This is certainly a valuable hint if true, and is well worth remembering. For skinning the skunk, see Beaver, Otter and Fox.
THE WOLVERINE. This, one of the most ferocious as well as detestable of American animals, is principally found in British America and the upper portion of the United States. It has won a world wide reputation for its fierceness and voracity, and on this account is popularly known as the Glutton. It is not confined to America, but is also found in Siberia and Northern Europe. The general appearance of this animal, ugly in disposition as in appearance, is truthfully given in our illustration. It is not unlike a small bear in looks, and was formerly classed among that genus. The general color of the wolverine is dark brown. The muzzle, as far back as the eye-brows, is black, and the immense paws partake of the same hue. The claws of the animal are long and almost white, forming a singular contrast to the jetty fur of the feet. So large are the feet of this animal, and so powerful the claws, that a mere look at them will tell the story of their death dealing qualities, a single stroke from one of them often being sufficient for a mortal wound. Although the wolverine is not as large as the bear, its foot prints in the snow are often mistaken for those of that creature, being nearly of the same size. The glutton feeds largely on the smaller quadrupeds, and is a most determined foe to the beaver during the summer months; the ice-hardened walls of their houses serving as a perfect protection against his attacks in the winter time. To the trapper of the north the wolverine is a most detested enemy, following the rounds of the traps and either detaching the baits or tearing away the dead animals which have fallen a prey to them. The trapper's entire circuit will be thus followed in a single night, and where the veritable "glutton" does not care to devour its victim it will satisfy its ferocious instinct by scratching it in pieces, leaving the mutilated remains to tell the story of its nocturnal visit. The wolverine is a dangerous foe to many animals larger than itself, and by the professional hunter it is looked upon as an ugly and dangerous customer. There are several methods of trapping this horrid creature, and in many localities successful trapping of other animals will be impossible without first ridding the neighborhood of the wolverines. Dead-falls of large size will be found to work successfully, baiting with the body of some small animal, such as a rat or squirrel. A piece of cat, beaver or muskrat flesh is also excellent, and by slightly scenting with castoreum success will be made sure. Several of these traps may be set at intervals, and a trail made by dragging a piece of smoked beaver meat between them. The gun trap, as described on page 20, will also do good service in exterminating this useless and troublesome animal. Steel traps of size No. 3 or 4 are commonly used to good purpose. They may be arranged in any of the various methods already described, the plan of the enclosure, page 143, being particularly desirable. In all cases the trap should be covered with leaves, moss or the like, and the bait slightly scented with castoreum. Like all voracious animals, the perpetual greed of the wolverine completely overbalances its caution, and thus renders its capture an easy task. The home of the animal is generally in a crevice or cave between rocks, and its young, two or three in number, are brought forth in May. In removing the skin, it may be ripped up the belly, or taken off whole, as described for the fox.
THE OPOSSUM. The opossum is found more or less throughout nearly all the United States. In size it equals a large cat, the tail being about fifteen inches long, very flexible and covered with scales. The general color of the fur is grayish-white, slightly tinged with yellow, and the legs are of a brownish hue, which color also surrounds the eyes to some extent. The fur is comparatively soft and wooly, and thickly sprinkled with long hairs, white at the base and brown at the tips. The nature and habits of the animal are very interesting. Its nest is made in some sheltered hollow in an old fallen or live tree, or beneath overhanging roots or rocks, and composed of moss and dead leaves. The young are produced in several litters during the year, and when born are transferred by the mother to a pouch situated in the lower front portion of her body. Here they remain and are nourished by the parent until they are five weeks old, at which time they emerge and travel with their mother, and their little ring tails do them good service in holding fast to their guardian. It is an amusing sight to see a family of young 'possums thus linked together, and so "attached to each other." The opossum is a voracious and destructive animal, prowling about during the hours of darkness and prying into every nook and corner in hope of finding something that may satisfy the cravings of imperious hunger. Rats, mice, nuts, berries, birds, insects and eggs are all devoured by this animal; and when not content with these he does not hesitate to insinuate himself into the poultry yard, and make a meal on the fowls and young chickens. His fondness for fruit and Indian corn often leads him to commit great havoc among plantations and fruit trees, and his appetite for the fruit of the persimmon tree is proverbial. While feeding on these fruits he frequently hangs by his tail, as seen in our illustration, gathering the persimmons with his fore paws and eating them while thus suspended. He is a most agile climber, and his tenacity and terminal resources in this direction are admirably depicted in that well known Methodist sermon, as follows: "An' you may shake one foot loose, but 'tothers thar; an' you may shake all his feet loose, but he laps his tail around the lim' an' he clings forever." He is an adept at feigning death, "playing 'possum" so skillfully as frequently to deceive an expert. "'Possums" are hunted in the Southern States much after the manner of coons; and to the negroes a "'possum hunt" signifies most unbounded sport." Though cunning in many ways, the opossum is singularly simple in others. There is hardly any animal more easily captured; for it will walk into the clumsiest of traps, and permit itself to be ensnared by a device at which an American rat would look with utter contempt. The dead-fall, garrote, or stout snare may all be employed, being baited with any of the substances already described. The steel trap 2-1/1 or 3 is most commonly used, being set in the haunts of the animal, and slightly scented with musk. See Fox and Beaver, for directions for skinning, stretching, etc., etc. THE RABBIT. The rabbit or "cotton tail," as he is familiarly termed, is too well-known to need any description here. From Maine to Texas our woods abound with these fleet-footed little creatures, of which there are several American species. They are the swiftest of all American quadrupeds, and have been known to clear over twenty feet in a single leap. They are all natural burrowers, although they often forego the trouble of excavating a home when one can be found already made, and which can be easily modified or adapted to their purposes. The common rabbit of New England often makes its home or "form," beneath a pile of brush or logs, or in crevices in rocks. Here it brings forth its young, of which there are often three or four litters a year. The creature becomes a parent at a very early age, and by the time that a rabbit is a year old it may have attained the dignity of a grand parent. The food of the rabbit consists of grasses, bark, leaves, bulbs, young twigs, buds, berries and the like, and of cultivated vegetables of all kinds, when opportunity favors. When surprised in the woods it manifests its alarm by violently striking the ground with its feet, causing the peculiar sound so often noticed at their first jump. The animal is fond of pursuing a beaten path in the woods, and is often snared at such places. Its enemies, beside man, are the lynx, and other carnivorous animals, hawks, owls, and even the domestic cat. The rabbit is a favorite game with all amateur sportsmen, and the devices used in its capture are multitudinous. It is by no means a difficult animal to trap, and a glance through the second and fourth sections of our book, will reveal many ingenious snares and other contrivances, commonly and successfully used. The Box trap, page 103, is perhaps the most universal example of rabbit trap, but the Self-setting trap, page 110, and Double-ender, page 109, are also equally effective where the animal is desired to be taken alive. If this is not an object, the snare is to be recommended as simple in construction and sure in its result. The above constitute the only devices commonly used for the capture of the rabbit, the steel trap being dispensed with. On page 109 will be found additional remarks concerning the rabbit, and many hints no baiting, etc., are also given under the heads of the various traps above alluded to. The skin of the rabbit is very thin and tender, and should be carefully removed, either as described for the fox, or in the ordinary method, by incision up the belly. Full directions for curing and tanning the skins will be found under its proper head in a later portion of this work. THE WOOD-CHUCK. This animal also called the marmot, is so well-known to most of our readers, that a detailed description will not be necessary, suffice it to say that the general color is brownish grey above, changing to reddish brown on the under parts. The head, tail and feet partaking of a darker color. The length of the animal is about a foot and a-half, exclusive of the tail, which is four inches long. The woodchuck is a clumsy looking animal, and anything but active in its movements. It is very unintelligent, and is always too ready to use its powerful teeth on the hand of any one who may attempt to handle it. It is naturally a timid animal, but when cornered or brought to bay, it fights most desperately. The woodchuck is an expert excavator, and where the animals exist in large numbers great damage is done by their united burrowing. They generally remain in their burrows during the day, only venturing out casually to see what is going on, and keeping near their entrance. Towards evening they start out to feed, devouring certain grasses and weeds, and also pumpkins and green corn with avidity, ever and anon sitting upright on their haunches, to see if the coast is clear. In case they are surprised in their meal, they hurry home in a pell-mell sort of a way, giving as much the appearance of rolling as running, but, nevertheless, getting over the ground with fair speed for such an unwieldy animal. The skin is loose and very tough, and possesses no commercial value, being principally used for whiplashes. Their burrows are generally on the slope of a hill, and often at the foot of a rock or tree. These tunnels vary from ten to thirty feet in length, sloping downward from the opening, afterward taking an upward turn and terminating in a roomy chamber, in which the animal sleeps in winter and where the young from three to eight in number are brought forth. The woodchuck is found throughout nearly the whole of the United States, and is especially abundant in New England, where it is a decided nuisance. It is found as far south as Tennessee, and westward to the Rocky Mountains. The flesh of the woodchuck is by many much esteemed as food, particularly in the Fall. When used for this purpose, the animal should be skinned and carefully cleaned immediately after death, taking especial care to remove the masses of fat which lie inside of the legs, as these, if allowed to remain, are sure to taint the flesh in cooking. The animals are easily caught by setting the traps at the entrance of their burrows, and carefully covering them with loose earth, no bait being required. They may also be captured by the aid of a spring-pole, with noose attached, the pole being bent down and caught under a notched stick, and the noose being arranged at the opening of the burrow, see page 43, the Woodchuck in passing in or out will become entangled in the noose, and in his efforts to escape the pole will be loosened from the peg, thus lifting the animal in mid-air. Woodchucks are also sometimes drowned out of their holes, and the turtle is often put to good use for the purpose of smoking the animals from their subterranean dwellings. A ball of wicking saturated with kerosene is attached by a wire to the tail of the reptile. When the ball is ignited the creature is introduced into the entrance of the hole, and of course in fleeing from its fiery pursuer it traverses the full length of the burrow, and as another matter of course drives out its other occupants, which are shot or captured as they emerge. The woodchunk's skin is generally taken off as described for the muskrat, and stretched accordingly. THE GOPHER. This remarkable little animal somewhat resembles the Mole in its general appearance and habits. It is also commonly known as the Canada Pouched Rat, and is principally found west of the Mississippi and northward. It is a burrowing animal, and like the Mole drives its subterranean tunnels in all directions, throwing up little hillocks at regular intervals of from five to twenty feet. Its body is thick set and clumsy and about ten inches long, and its Mole-like claws are especially adapted for digging. Its food consists of roots and vegetables, and its long and projecting incisors are powerful agents in cutting the roots which cross its path in making its burrow. The most striking characteristic of the animal, and that from which it takes its name, consists in the large cheek pouches which hang from each side of the mouth and extend back to to shoulders. They are used as receptacles of food which the animal hurriedly gathers when above ground, afterward returning to its burrow to enjoy its feast at its leisure. It was formerly very commonly and erroneously believed that the Gopher used its pouches in conveying the earth from its burrow, and this is generally supposed at the present day, but it is now known that the animal uses these pockets only for the conveyance of its food. The color of the fur is reddish-brown on the upper parts, fading to ashy-brown on the abdomen, and the feet are white. In making its tunnels, the dirt is brought to the surface, thus making the little mounds after the manner of the mole. After having dug its tunnel for several feet the distance becomes so great as to render this process impossible, and the old hole is carefully stopped up and a new one made at the newly excavated end of the tunnel, the animal continuing on in its labors and dumping from the fresh orifice. These mounds of earth occur at intervals on the surface of the ground, and although no hole can be discovered beneath them, they nevertheless serve to indicate the track of the burrow, which lies several inches beneath. The Gopher is a great pest to western cultivators, and by its root feeding and undermining propensities does extensive injury to crops generally. They may be successfully trapped in the following manner: Strike a line between the two most recent earth mounds, and midway between them remove a piece of the sod. By the aid of a trowel or a sharp stick the burrow may now be reached. Insert your hand in the tunnel and enlarge the interior sufficiently to allow the introduction of No. (0) steel trap. Set the trap flatly in the bottom of the burrow, and then laying a piece of shingle or a few sticks across the excavation replace the sod. Several traps may be thus set in the burrows at considerable distances apart, and a number of the animals thus taken. The traps are sometimes inserted in the burrows from the hillocks, by first finding the hole and then enlarging it by inserting the arm and digging with the hand beneath. The former method, however, is preferable. The skin of the Gopher may be pulled off the body either by cutting up the hind less, as described in reference to the Fox, or by making the incision from the lower jaw down the neck, as decided for the muskrat, a simple board stretcher being used. THE MOLE. Of all the mammalia the Mole is entitled to take the first place in the list of burrowers. This extraordinary creature does not merely dig tunnels in the ground and sit at the end of them, as is the case with many animals, but it forms a complicated subterranean dwelling place with chambers, passages and other arrangements of wonderful completeness. It has regular roads leading to its feeding grounds; establishes a system of communication as elaborate as that of a modern railway, or, to be more correct, as that of the subterranean network of the sewers of a city. It is an animal of varied accomplishments. It can run tolerably fast, it can fight like a bull-dog, it can capture prey under or above ground, it can swim fearlessly, and it can sink wells for the purpose of quenching its thirst. Take the mole out of its proper sphere, and it is awkward and clumsy as the sloth when placed on level ground, or the seal when brought ashore. Replace it in the familiar earth and it becomes a different being, full of life and energy, and actuated by a fiery activity which seems quite inconsistent with its dull aspect and seemingly inert form. We all know that the mole burrows under the ground, raising at intervals the little hillocks or "mole hills" with which we are so familiar; but most of us little know the extent or variety of its tunnels, or that the animal works on a regular system and does not burrow here and there at random. How it manages to form its burrows in such admirably straight lines, is not an easy problem, because it is always done in black darkness, and we know of nothing which can act as a guide to the animal. As for ourselves and other eye-possessing creatures, the feat of walking in a straight line with closed eyelids is almost an impossibility, and every swimmer knows the difficulty of keeping a straight course under water, even with the use of his eyes. The ordinary mole hills, so plentiful in our fields, present nothing particularly worthy of notice. They are merely the shafts through which the quadruped miner ejects the material which it has scooped out, as it drives its many tunnels through the soil, and if they be carefully opened after the rain has consolidated the heap of loose material, nothing more will be discovered than a simple hole leading into the tunnel. But let us strike into one of the large tunnels, as any mole catcher will teach us, and follow it up to the real abode of the animal. The hill under which this domicile is hidden, is of considerable size, but is not very conspicuous, being always placed under the shelter of a tree, shrub, or a suitable bank, and would scarcely be discovered but by a practiced eye. The subterranean abode within the hillock is so remarkable that it involuntarily reminds the observer of the well-known "maze," which has puzzled the earliest years of youth throughout many generations. The central apartment, or "keep," if we so term it, is a nearly spherical chamber, the roof of which is almost on a level with the earth around the hill, and therefore situated at a considerable depth from the apex of the heap. Around this keep are driven two circular passages or galleries, one just level with the ceiling and the other at some height above. Five short descending passages connect the galleries with each other, but the only entrance into the keep is from the upper gallery, out of which three passages lead into the ceiling of the keep. It will be seen therefore that when the mole enters the house from one of its tunnels, it has first to get into the lower gallery to ascend thence into the upper gallery, and so descend into the central chamber. There is, however, another entrance into the keep from below. A passage dips downward from the centre of the chamber, and then, taking a curve upwards, opens into one of the larger burrows or high roads, as they may be fitly termed. It is a noteworthy fact that the high roads, of which there are several radiating in different directions, never open into the gallery opposite one of the entrances into the upper gallery. The mole therefore is obliged to go to the right or left as soon as it enters the domicile before it can find a passage to the upper gallery. By the continual pressure of the moles upon the walls of the passages and roof of the central chamber, they become quite smooth, hard, and polished, so that the earth will not fall in, even after the severest storm. The use of so complicated a series of cells and passages is extremely doubtful, and our total ignorance of the subject affords another reason why the habits of this wonderful animal should be better studied. About the middle of June the moles begin to fall in love, and are as furious in their attachments as in all other phases of their nature. At that time two male moles cannot meet without mutual jealousy, and they straightway begin to fight, scratching, tearing, and biting with such insane fury that they seem unconscious of anything except the heat of battle. Indeed the whole life of the mole is one of fury, and he eats like a starving tiger, tearing and rending his prey with claws and teeth, and crunching audibly the body of the worm between the sharp points. Magnify the mole to the size of the lion and you will have a beast more terrible than the world has yet seen. Though nearly blind, and therefore incapable of following its prey by sight, it would be active beyond conception, springing this way and that way as it goes along, leaping with lightness and quickness upon any animal which it meets, rending it in pieces in a moment, thrusting its bloodthirsty snout into the body of its victim, eating the still warm and bleeding flesh, and instantly searching for fresh prey. Such a creature would, without the least hesitation, devour a serpent twenty feet in length, and so terrible would be its voracity that it would eat twenty or thirty of such snakes in a day as easily as it devours the same number of worms. With one grasp of its teeth and one stroke of its claws, it could tear an ox asunder; and if it should happen to enter a fold of sheep or enclosure of cattle, it would kill them all for the mere lust of slaughter. Let, then, two of such animals meet in combat, and how terrific would be the battle! Fear is a feeling of which the mole seems to be utterly unconscious, and, when fighting with one of its own species, he gives his whole energies to the destruction of his opponent without seeming to heed the injuries inflicted upon himself. From the foregoing sketch the reader will be able to estimate the extraordinary energies of this animal, as well as the wonderful instincts with which it is endowed. The fur of the mole is noted for its clean, velvety aspect; and that an animal should be able to pass unsoiled through earth of all textures is a really remarkable phenomenon. It is partly to be explained by the character of the hair, and partly by that of the skin. The hair of the mole is peculiar on account of its want of "set." The tops of the hairs do not point in any particular direction, but may be pressed equally forward or backward or to either side. The microscope reveals the cause of this peculiarity. The hair is extremely fine at its exit from the skin, and gradually increases in thickness until it reaches its full width when it again diminishes. This alternation occurs several times in each hair, and gives the peculiar velvet-like texture with which we are all so familiar. There is scarcely any coloring matter in the slender portion of the hair, and the beautiful changeable coppery hues of the fur is owing to this structure. Another reason for the cleanliness of the fur is the strong, though membranous muscle beneath the skin. While the mole is engaged in travelling, particularly in loose earth, the soil for a time clings to the fur; but at tolerably regular intervals the creature gives the skin a sharp and powerful shake, which throws off at once the whole of the mould that has collected upon the fur. Some amount of dust still remains, for, however clean the fur of a mole may seem to be, if the creature be placed for an hour in water, a considerable quantity of earth will be dissolved away and fall to the bottom of the vessel. The improvement in the fur after being well washed with soft tepid water and soap, is almost incredible. Many persons have been struck with such admiration for the fur of the mole, that they have been desirous of having a number of the skins collected and made into a waist-coat. This certainly can be done, but the garment thus made is so very hot that it can only be worn in winter. Such garments are very expensive, and owing to the tender quality of the skin, possess but little lasting powers. There is also a wonderfully strong smell about the mole; so strong, indeed, that dogs will sometimes point at moles instead of game, to the great disgust of their masters. This odor adheres obstinately to the skin, and even in furs which have been dried for more than ten years, this peculiar savor has been noticed. We have given much space to the mole, not particularly on account of its particular usefulness to the trapper, but because of its many claims to our notice. If the creature were a rare and costly inhabitant of some distant land, how deep would be the interest which it would incite. But because it is a creature of our country, and to be found in every field, there are but few who care to examine a creature so common, or who experience any feelings save those of disgust when they see a mole making its way over the ground in search of a soft spot in which to burrow. In many localities this interesting animal exists in such numbers as to become a positive nuisance, and the invention of a trap which would effectually curtail their depredations has been a problem to many a vexed and puzzled farmer. Mole traps of various kinds have found their way into our agricultural papers, but none has proved more effectual than the one we describe on page 119. An arrangement of the figure four, page 107, is also sometimes employed with good success. In this case the bait stick crosses the upright stick close to the ground, and rests over the burrow of the mole, the earth being previously pressed down to the surrounding level. The stone should be narrow and very heavy, and of course no bait is required. The pieces should be set carefully, and so adjusted that the lifting of the soil beneath the stick as the mole forces its way through the compressed earth will dislodge the bait stick and let down the stone with its crushing weight. Another method consists in embedding a deep flower pot in one of the main tunnels of the animal, and carefully replacing the soil above. The mole in traversing his burrow thus falls into the pit and is effectually captured. This is a very ingenious mode of taking the animal, and rewarded its inventor with seven moles on the first night of trial. There are a number of other devices said to work excellently, but the above we believe to be the most effectual of all. There are several species of American moles, the star-nosed variety being familiar to most of us. The most common moles are the shrew moles, with pointed noses. The silver mole is a large species, of a changeable silvery color, found on the Western prairies. The Oregon mole is nearly black, with purplish or brownish reflections. The most beautiful of all the moles is found at the Cape of Good Hope. It is of about the size of the ordinary American species, and its soft fur glistens with brilliant green and golden reflections. The fur of this species is probably the most wonderful and beautiful in the whole animal kingdom.
SQUIRRELS. There are many species of squirrels found in the United States, but their fur is of little value, and of trifling importance in the fur trade; the squirrel fur of our markets being that of a small grey European variety. Squirrels, as a class, possess much the same peculiarities and habits. Their claws are particularly adapted for life among the trees; their tails are long and bushy, covering over the backs of the animals when in a sitting posture. They are all lithe and quick of movement, and their senses of sight and hearing are especially keen. They are constantly on the alert, and are full of artifice when pursued. Their food consists chiefly of nuts, fruits, and grain, but when pushed by hunger, there is no telling what they will not eat. They generally provide for the winter months by laying up a store of the foregoing provisions, either in holes in trees or interstices in the bark, or in cavities under ground. The shag- bark hickory offers an especial inducement to these provident creatures in the numerous crevices and cracks throughout the bark. It is not an uncommon thing to find whole handfuls of nuts carefully packed away in one of these cracks, and a sharp stroke with an ax in the trunk of one of these trees will often dislodge numbers of the nuts. The writer has many a time gone "nutting" in this way in the middle of winter with good success. The nests of squirrels are generally built in trees, either in a crotch between the branches or in some deserted woodpecker's hole. Some species live in burrows in the ground, and those individuals who are lucky enough to be in the neighborhood of a barn often make their abode therein, taking their regular three meals a day from the granary. In many localities these animals thus become a perfect pest to the farmers, and their destruction becomes a matter of urgent necessity. Squirrels, although resembling each other much as regards their general habits, differ considerably in the size and color of the different species. The principal varieties found on our continent are:— The large grey squirrel, which is common in the Eastern and Middle States, and which is about two feet in length, including the tail. The common red squirrel, or chicaree, smaller than the foregoing, and found more or less all through the United States. The black squirrel, which is about the size of the grey, and found in the north-eastern part of the United States, near the great lakes. In the Southern States there is a variety known as the fox squirrel, about the size of the red squirrel, and quite variable in color. The Middle States furnishes a species called the cat squirrel, rather smaller than the preceding. Its tail is very broad, and its color varies from very light to very dark grey. The ground squirrel, or chipmuck, with its prettily striped sides, is common to most of our readers, its general color being red and the stripes being black and white. Another burrowing species, known as the Oregon or downy squirrel, is found in the Territory from which it takes its name, and also northward in British America. In size it resembles the chipmuck, and its color is light red above, pure white beneath, and silver grey at the sides. The beautiful silky variety, known as the flying squirrel, with its grey chinchilla-like fur and loose skin, is found throughout the United States east of the Mississippi. Louisiana and Texas furnish the golden-bellied squirrel, which is about twenty inches in length, with tail golden yellow beneath, and golden grey above. The sooty squirrel is also found in this locality, being about the same size as the last mentioned, and black above and brownish red beneath. There are other varieties in California known as the woolly, soft-haired, and weasel squirrels; and in the Western States we find the large red-tailed squirrels, which are about the size of the large grey variety of the Eastern and Middle States. Squirrels, as a tribe, are much sought for as pets, and most of the species are easily tamed. Box traps of various kinds are used in taking them alive. The varieties on pages 103, 106 and 110 are especially adapted for this purpose, and should be set either in the trees or on the ground, and baited with an apple, a portion of an ear of corn, or of whatever the animal is particularly fond. When the animals exist in such numbers as to become a destructive nuisance to the farm, the small-sized steel trap, No. 0, arranged with bait hung above it, will work to good advantage. Twitch-ups are also successful, and we might also recommend the traps on pages 107, 116 and 128 as worthy of trial when the animal is not desired to be captured alive. Squirrels may be skinned either by ripping up the belly, or in a whole piece, as described in regard to the fox. We pause before going further into the mysteries of trapping in connection with the animals which we are about to consider, as they are generally exempt from the wiles of the trapper's art, coming more properly in the field of the hunter or sportsman. The idea of trapping a deer, for instance, seems barbarous indeed; but are not all the ways of deceiving and killing these splendid animals equally so? Are not the various strategies and cunning devices of the sportsman, by which these noble creatures are decoyed and murdered, equally open to the same objection? As far as barbarity goes, there is to us but little choice between the two methods; and, generally speaking, we decry them both, and most especially do not wish to be understood as encouraging the trapping of these animals, except where all other means have failed, and in cases where their capture becomes in a measure a matter of necessity. This is often the case in the experience of professional trappers. The life of the trapper during the trapping season is spent almost entirely in the wilderness, often many miles from any human habitation; and at times he is solely dependent upon his gun or trap for his necessary food. Sometimes in a dry season, when the leaves and twigs crackle under foot, the rifle is as good as useless, for it becomes impossible to approach a deer within shooting range. And there are other times when ammunition is exhausted, and the trapper is thus forced to rely only on his traps for his supply of food. In such circumstances, the necessities of the trapper are paramount, and the trapping of deer, in such straits, as the most desirable food is rather to be recommended than condemned. The same remarks also in a measure apply to the moose and pronghorn antelope, as well as to several other animals hereinafter mentioned, as they are generally considered more in the light of the hunter's than the trapper's game. THE DEER. There are upwards of eight varieties of this animal which inhabit North America. The common red or Virginian deer is found throughout the United States. The stag or Wapiti deer is now chiefly confined to the country west of the Mississippi and northward to British America. The moose we shall speak of hereafter. The Rocky Mountain mule deer, and the long-tailed deer of the same locality, are two more species, and there are also the black-tailed deer and the reindeer, the latter of which is a native of British America. The scope of our volume will not of course admit of detailed directions for trapping each variety, but, as the habits of all the species are in a measure similar, our remarks will apply to them in general, and particularly to the red or Virginian deer, which is the most important to American trappers. The trap for taking deer should be large, strong, and covered with spikes. The Newhouse (No. 4) is particularly adapted, and is especially arranged for this purpose. When the path of the deer is discovered on the border of a stream or lake, the trap should be set beneath the surface of the water, near the tracks of the animal, and covered by a handful of dried grass thrown upon it. When thus set, it may either be left to run its chances, or success, further insured by the following precaution: In winter the principal food of the deer consists of the twigs, buds, and bark of various forest trees, and particularly those of the basswood and maple. In the season when the traps are set as above described, a most tempting bait is furnished by a large branch of either of those trees, freshly cut, and laid near the trap. The deer in feeding are thus almost sure to be captured. There are certain glands which are located on the inner side of the hind legs of the deer, and which emit a very strong and peculiar odor. The scent of these glands seems to attract the animal, and for this reason are cut out and used by trappers as a scent-bait. In the case already described, it is well to rub the glands on the twigs of the trees, thus serving as an additional attraction to the bait. There is still another method of trapping deer, which is commonly employed in the winter time. The trap is sunk in the snow at the foot of a tree, and the bait, consisting of an ear of corn or a few beards of other grain, is fastened to the tree, above the trap, three or more feet from the ground. The animal, in reaching for the bait, places its foot in the trap and is secured. When first caught, the deer becomes very wild and violent; so much so that if the trap were chained or retarded by a heavy clog, the chain, or even the trap itself, would most likely be broken. The weight of a trap of this size is generally a sufficient impediment, no clog, or at best a very light one, being required. The first frantic plunge being over, the entrapped creature immediately yields and lies down upon the ground, and is always to be found within a few rods of where the trap was first sprung upon him. During the winter the traps may also be set in the snow, using the same bait already described. It is a common method to fell a small tree for the purpose, setting the traps beneath the snow, around the top branches. The deer, in browsing in the tender twigs or buds, are almost certain to be captured. Dead-falls of different kinds are sometimes used in trapping the deer, with good success; using the scent bait already described, together with the other bait. The food of the deer during the summer consists of nuts, fruits, acorns, grass, berries, and water plants, and when in convenient neighborhood of cultivated lands, they do not hesitate to make a meal from the farmer's turnips, cabbages, and grain. As we have said, the winter food consists chiefly of the twigs of trees. When the snow is deep the deer form what are called "yards," about such trees as they particularly select for their browsing. These yards are made simply by tramping down the snow, and large numbers of the deer are often thus found together. As the supply of food is consumed, the yard is enlarged, so as to enclose other trees for browsing, and where deep snows abound throughout the winter, these enclosures often become quite extensive in area. Panthers, wolves, and wolverines take especial advantage of these, and easily secure their victims. By wolves especially entire herds of deer are thus destroyed, and whole yards depopulated in a single night. Panthers secrete themselves in the trees above the boughs overhanging the "yards," and, with stealthy movements, approach and pounce upon their unsuspecting prey. The blood-thirsty wolverine secretes himself in the nooks and by-ways to spring upon its tawny victim unawares. These, together with man, form the principal foes of the deer, and we can truthfully assert that the hunter is much more its enemy than the trapper. As we do not wish to encourage the wanton trapping of this noble creature, it would perhaps be well for us to devote also few words in describing the various modes of hunting the animal, adopted by the "professional sportsmen" throughout the land. The most common method is that called "still hunting," most generally pursued in winter. The hunter is shod with deer-skin or other soft sandals, and starts out with his rifle and ammunition. Finding the fresh track of the deer, he cautiously and noiselessly follows up the trail, keeping a sharp lookout ahead. A practiced deer-hunter becomes very skillful and accurate, and the animal is nearly always tracked to discovery, when he is shot. The deer's sense of smell is extremely acute, and, when in shooting range, it is very necessary to approach them in the face of the wind, the direction of which may be easily determined by holding the finger in the mouth for a moment, afterward pointing it upward toward the sky. The cool side of the finger will indicate the direction from which the wind blows, and toward that direction the deer should always be approached, or as far toward that direction as possible. It will sometimes happen that the hunter will surprise the buck, doe, and fawn together. In order to secure the three, shoot the doe first. The buck and fawn will remain near the spot. The buck should next be shot, and then the fawn, the charge being aimed at the breast. Never approach a wounded deer without reloading the gun, as he is often more frightened than hurt, and is likely to start and run away, unless prevented by another shot. During the snow season, deer are always watchful of their back track. They are generally at rest during the day, starting out late in the afternoon on their usual ramblings, which they continue through the night. During the dark hours they love to resort to the water side in quest of aquatic plants, and are here often taken by hunters, many of which consider "night hunting" the favorite and most exciting sport. It is pursued in the following manner: The hunter requires a boat or canoe, page 261, a good rifle, and a lamp. The lamp, with a screen or reflector behind it, is placed at the bow of the boat. One hunter takes the oar, and, with noiseless paddle, propels or sculls the boat from the stem. The armed hunter crouches behind the light, with the muzzle of his rifle projecting beyond the screen sufficiently to easily show the forward sight on the tip of the barrel. A dark lantern is sometimes used as a light. The eyes of the deer shine very perceptibly at night, and his presence on the banks is thus easily detected. If he is noiselessly approached, he will remain transfixed by the effect of the light from the boat, and he may be neared even to a very close range, when he is easily dispatched. Hundreds of deer are thus taken during the summer and autumn. Deer are also chased by dogs until they are forced to take refuge in the nearest rivers or lakes, when the hunter in his canoe overtakes and shoots them. Another method is frequently employed in the hunting of the deer. These animals are very fond of salt, and with it they are often decoyed to a spot where the hunter lies in wait for them. These places are called "deer licks," or salting places, and can be made as follows: Select a locality where deer are known to frequent, and place a handful of salt either on a smooth spot of ground or in the hollow of a log. A section of a log is sometimes slightly dug out at one end and the other inserted in the earth, the salt being placed in the hollow. The hunter secretes himself in a neighboring tree, sometimes erecting a bench or scaffolding for comfort, and, provided with gun and ammunition, he awaits the coming of the deer. Hunters say that a deer seldom looks higher than his head, and that a sportsman on one of these scaffoldings, even though he is clumsy in his movements, is seldom noticed by the animal. The salt lick is also utilized for night hunting. A head-lantern is generally required. This can be made in the following manner: Construct a cylinder of birch bark or paste-board or any like substance, ten inches in height, and of sufficient size to fit closely on the head. A circular partition should next be firmly inserted at about the middle of the cylinder, and the centre of the partition should be provided with a socket for the reception of a candle. On this end of the cylinder a piece should now be cut to admit of the passage of light from the candle on that side. Having this fire-hat at hand wait patiently for the game. When a significant noise is heard light the candle and place the cylinder on the head, with the open cut in front, thus directing the light toward the ground. As the deer approaches, his fiery eyes will easily be seen, and the light from the candle will shine sufficiently on the rifle to clearly reveal the sights and admit of a sure aim. There is still another method of night hunting by the salt lick. The rifle is aimed directly at the salted spot, and thus firmly fixed—this preparation being made in the daytime. When night approaches, the hunter finds a piece of phosphorescent wood or "fox fire," and places it on the ground, at a point which he has previously determined to be on a direct line of the aim of his gun. The "fox fire" is plainly seen from the tree, and as soon as it is darkened he knows that it is obscured by the deer, and he pulls the trigger and kills his game. Deer are hunted at all seasons of the year, but ought not to be hunted during the summer. The sport legitimately begins in September, when the buck begins to harden his horns, and when his flesh is in its best condition for food. In October the deer is more shy, and during this month and after, the sport is at its height. The deer should be skinned from an incision down the belly, and the hide spread on a hoop stretcher, page 275.
THE MOOSE. We have already given so much space to the hunting of the deer that we shall be obliged to cut short our remarks on the Moose, particularly as it is a representative of the same family. This animal is the largest of the Deer tribe, being seven or eight feet in height and often weighing over fifteen hundred pounds. It is supplied with immense flat spreading horns, sometimes expanding to the distance of six feet between the tips. It is found in Maine, Oregon and Washington Territories, and in the neighborhood of the great lakes, and inhabits the regions as far north as the Arctic Sea. Its color is yellowish brown. The fur is thicker in winter than summer, and on the neck of the animal the hair is very coarse and hangs in an immense tuft of over a foot in length. The flesh is most excellent food and is much esteemed by trappers. The habits of the moose are in most respects identical with the deer, already described, and like them they form "yards" during the winter season. In the North the moose is hunted on snow-shoes by the natives, and in summer they are shot like the deer. They are often very dangerous and terrible creatures to hunt, and the utmost care and skill, as described in regard to the deer, is required on the part of the hunter in order to avoid detection through the exquisite sense of smell which the animal possesses. The moose is easily trapped. The Newhouse, No. 6, is especially adapted for the purpose, and it should be chained to a clog of stone or wood of over fifty pounds in weight. Set the trap in the "yard," or beneath the snow where the moose frequents, or in the summer, or fall seasons, as described for the deer, using the same methods in regard to baiting, etc. Skin after the manner of cattle, and stretch the hide on a hoop-spreader. Page 275. ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP. These creatures are natives of the entire range of the Rocky Mountains, and are especially prized on account of the superior quality of their flesh as food. They are much larger and more powerful than the domestic sheep, and the ram is provided with enormous curved horns. The wool of the animal is intermixed with coarse grey hairs, and the general appearance of the fur is russet grey, with the exception of the rump and under parts, which are of a dirty white color. The animal is generally very wary and retiring, and inhabits the most secluded and inaccessible mountain regions and rocky cliffs. They are easily captured by the steel trap (No. 5) set in their haunts. The deadfall is also used in some instances. Remove the skin as described for the deer. THE BUFFALO. The Buffaloes or Bison of the Western plains is too well known to need description. They travel in migrating herds of thousands, and are found from Texas to British America. Their food consists chiefly of grass, of which the "Buffalo grass" is their great delight. They graze and travel through the day and rest by night. They are more the game of the hunter than the trapper, although the largest side Newhouse would effectually secure one of the animals. The Buffalo is generally hunted on horseback, the usual method being that of stealing into the drove while grazing, always moving against the wind in order to avoid being scented. The flesh is palatable and by many much relished. The Buffalo skins of commerce are furnished by the cows. The bull skins are almost devoid of fur on the hinder parts, the hair being confined to the huge heavy mass on the hump and mane. Skin the animal as described for the Moose. THE PRONG HORN ANTELOPE. This sole American representative of the Antelope tribe we believe is seldom trapped; but as it is a well-known animal on the Western plains, a short mention of it is required here. In general shape this creature bears considerable resemblance to the deer, the form of the horn being its chief peculiarity, each one of which is provided with a single prong, from which the animal takes its name, of Prong Horn. The color of the body is brownish-yellow, with the exception of the rump and belly which are almost white. The Antelopes generally travel in herds, and are much hunted by the Indians who surround them and destroy them with heavy clubs. Like the deer, their sense of smell is especially keen and the same caution is required in hunting them. In size they are about the same as the Virginian Deer. They are wonderfully graceful in all their movements, and are even more fleet of foot than the deer. These Antelopes inhabit the Western Prairies and wooded borders from New Mexico northward, and their flesh is much esteemed as an article of diet. They may be caught in their feeding places, as recommended for the deer, using the same sized trap. The dead fall is also efficacious in their capture, and they are also sometimes taken in large pit-falls covered over with light sticks and leaves, to resemble the natural surroundings. On this false covering, the bait, consisting of green corn or other vegetables, is strewn and a high wall of logs or stones is erected around it, in order that the animal will be obliged to jump slightly in order to reach the bait. Remove the hide as recommended for the deer. SHOOTING AND POISONING. Until the introduction of the steel-trap, shooting was a common method of taking fur bearing animals, and even to the present day it is quite prevalent in some localities. Anyone who has had any experience with the fur trade must have learned that furs which are "shot," are much affected in value. Some furriers will not purchase such skins at any price; and they never meet with any but a very low offer. "Trapped furs" and "shot furs" are terms of considerable significance in the fur trade, and anyone who wishes to realize from a profitable sale of his furs, should use his gun as little as possible. A shot grazing through the fur of an animal cuts the hairs as if with a knife, and a single such furrow is often enough to spoil a skin. It is these oblique grazing shots which particularly damage the fur, and an animal killed with a shot gun is seldom worth skinning for the value of its pelt. If firearms are used, the rifle is preferable. If the animal chances to be hit broadside or by a direct penetrating bullet, the two small holes thus made may not particularly effect the value of its skin, although even then the chances are rather slight. Trapped furs are of the greatest value. The use of poison is objectionable as a means of capture in animals especially desired for their fur. Strychnine is the substance generally employed, and unless its victim is skinned immediately after death the pelt becomes considerably injured by the absorption of the poison. It has the effect of loosening the fur and the hair sheds easily. The poison is principally used in the capture of Wolves and animals considered in the light of vermin. For a wolf or fox, the poison is mixed with lard or tallow and spread on pieces of meat, or a small amount of the powder is enclosed in an incision in the bait. The amount sufficient for a single dose may be easily held on the point of a knife blade, and death ensues in a a very few moments after the bait is taken. For a Bear the dose should be a half thimbleful, and it should be deposited in the centre of a piece of honey comb, the cells being emptied of their honey for that purpose. Other animals may be taken by proportionate quantities of the poison, but for general purposes we discourage its use. End of Excerpt. 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