Land Cruising - Prospecting:
Poor Man's Ore Mill
Prospecting For Fur
Prospecting For Pearls
Prospecting For Bees
Rations And Camp Cooking
Guns, Axes And Packstraps
Building Cabins, Tanning, Etc
The Red River Trapper
Read More Articles About: Land Cruising - Prospecting
Rations And Camp Cooking
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
This book would be incomplete if some ac-count was not taken of rations, camp equipage, guns, tents, bedding, etc. One cannot do better than to follow the U. S. Army ration as Uncle Sam is very practical and liberal. He issues the biggest and best rations to his boys of any government on earth.
Here is his ration in ounces for one man for one day. Flour 18 oz., corn meal 20 oz., crackers 16 oz., rice 2 oz., hominy 2 oz., peas or beans 21 oz., salt 3/4 oz., coffee roasted 1 oz., tea 1 oz., sugar 2 1/2 oz., bacon 12 oz., pork 12 oz., fresh beef 20 oz., salt beef 22 oz., soft bread 18 oz., coffee green 2 oz. This makes a ration of about 2 6/10 lb. per day per man.
Of course only one bread ration or one meat ration is issued at one time. If you have a fresh meat ration you are not issued any salt beef or pork ration. If you have a soft bread ration you are issued no flour or cracker ration, and if peas or beans, no hominy .ration, and if corn meal no flour ration.
Now for one month for one cruising or prospecting this would be: Flour 34 lb., corn meal. A ration that I have found to be good for my use and have used it on a good many trips is for one week and one man. Bacon 4 1/2 lb., corn or flour 5 1/2 lb., potatoes pk., (7 1/2 lb.), onions 1 lb., beans 1 1/2 lb., coffee 1 1/2 lb., tea 1/4 lb., syrup in tin 1 3/4 lb., salt 1/8 lb., peppers 1/8 lb., tobacco 5 lb., candles 1/4 lb., matches in two different tins 1/4 lb., vinegar one bottle 1/4 lb., crackers lb., soap lb., cakes 1/8 lb., baking powder 1/2 can, 1/2 lb., dried apples 1 lb.
This ration is for a week for a man and is about the U. S. ration. Of course you can add to or take from it, always keeping near the government ration of 2 6/10 lb. per day per man. The pack can be lightened by carrying evaporated potatoes and apples. This ration assumes you are going into a country where fish and game cannot be depended on or you have not the time to get it.
This ration will make a variety of dishes and for one month in this time of special interests and trust which, let us hope, will soon end through a revision of the tariff, will cost you about $5.75. So if you are thinking of taking a claim of land, if you go on it in the spring, you can live until you get a crop of garden truck for about eighteen or twenty dollars. Of course if you can get fish and game your meat ration can be cut down and all the fat pork or bacon you will need is for cooking, and every pound of game you get will be worth twelve or fifteen cents per pound to you as your pork or bacon costs about that.
Lieutenant Whelan of the U. S. army, an old time mountain hunter, for the past ten years or more carries this ration for a month's trip : Tea 8 oz., salt 1 lb., sugar 4 lb., oat or corn meal 10 lb., prunes or apples dried 5 lb., rice 2 lb., sweet chocolate 2 lb., one can of matches 1 lb., crystalose 2 oz.
How in the naine of common sense the Lieutenant gets along on this ration I don't understand, although he figures on plenty of game and fish which would have to be 47 lbs., as the ration stands now it is that much shy of the government ration and I don't understand why so much sugar and chocolate. I believe I would substitute six pounds of good bacon to cook With as it would give me 3 1/6 oz. per day. While I believe the Lieutenant to be a truthful man , I would not advise any who read this article to try this ration for more than twelve days or two weeks.
It is not safe to depend on game or fish too much for I know of a party who had to knock over a range steer for something to eat, and came near getting into the penitentiary at Deer Lodge, Mont., just for not taking enough grub along. In days gone by if a man got short of grub he could kill a steer for grub only, so long as he hung the hide up on a tree or bush. This was the unwritten law, but it is now obsolete, as the cattle men have got so hungry after money that eight or ten dollars is of more value than a man's life.
I have dwelt some time on this grub question as it is very important, and I would say in passing to carry your matches in two tins, as if you carry them all in one box they will surely get wet the same as they do with me. Keep your candles where the woods or field mice won't get them. In hanging up meat use an iron wire instead of a string.
A word here is not out of place in regard to cooking in the camp or on the trail. A lot of good material can be spoilt in cooking or good wholesome dishes can be made from little. The best cook I can call to mind is a lumber jack cook. A good one can come the nearest to making something out of nothing as any one can. The usual feed on the trail is flapjacks and bacon.
Personally I like good light flapjacks with good bacon gravy, not sinker flapjacks, but good light hot ones and not every one can make them. Good flapjacks are made thus, for two hungry men. Take a shy quart of flour, two teaspoons baking powder, one half teaspoon of salt, and one heaped of sugar. Mix to a drop batter and fry in a moderate hot frying pan, and when bubbles begin to show on top of the flapjack, turn it and cook the other side.
Now a word about a fire. If you are in a timbered country, take two smallish green logs, hew them flat on one side and lay them about five inches apart (sometimes stones will do for this), and build your fire between these green logs. Let it burn down to coals and if you have to replenish it use dry twigs. Don't try to cook on a green smokey fire unless you are actually obliged to.
To make frying pan bread, proceed the same way only make your dough stiffer. Make your loaf flat and have your fire built against a log or stone. Set your wood on end and have it split and dry. Set your pan of bread on edge as near as you can comfortably and as near the fire as you can and not burn it. You must watch it and turn your pan once in a while so it will bake even. Also turn your loaf bottom up so it will bake on both sides, and if you have patience and handle things right you will have a pretty good loaf of bread.
I usually carry corn meal and make a kind of corn pone. This way I put a pint of water in my tin pail and bring it to a sharp boil, add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of sugar. Stir in enough corn meal to make a mush and let it cook slowly over an easy fire for a few minutes, stir-ring. Meantime grease your tin kettle, put in your mush, cover it with your fry pan or plate. Bury it in hot ashes or coals and bake for thirty or forty minutes and you have the finest kind of bread to my notion. Sometimes I don't bake it but let the mush cool in the kettle and fry it in slices and put syrup on it. It is fine this way also.
Any fool can fry meat and fish if their fire is not too hot. Always try to cook slow so your provender will not be burned on the outside and raw on the inside. The most necessary thing in a permanent camp is a bean hole. It is made this way. Dig a hole in the ground a little larger and deeper than your kettle or pail, and have a tight cover for it. To use this oven is very simple. For instance, you wish baked beans. At night put a pint of beans to soak. In the morning pour off the water and add fresh and bring to a sharp, boil until the beans crack open and your kettle full of water. Now add a couple of spoonfuls of syrup or sugar and set a piece of salt pork in the top, slit on top in squares.
Take this whole business and put it in the bean hole covered tight with a tin plate or your fry pan, and put coals and hot ashes around it. Cover your hole air tight with sod or limbs and dirt and when you get home at night tired and hungry, your supper is ready smoking hot. Make your coffee, open your bean hole and you have a feed that can't be bought at a hotel, hot baked beans and pork, nice hot coffee and bread and after a couple of drags out of the little pipe, then turn in and sleep so sound that when morning comes you scold and say you just laid down a minute ago.
You get up and get a sniff of the woods and feel like a four year old. There is only one class of men that actually live in this world and they are the men that live in the open, the rest only exist and drag out a miserable life and facto away and the medical guesser collects a few fees along with the undertaker.
You can make a fine stew the same as you made the beans. Peel and slice some potatoes, also cut some raw meat into dice pieces, also a small decoction of onions, say a half one. Put these in your kettle with water, properly seasoned with pepper and salt. Bring to a sharp boil in your pail. Put the cover on tight and to the bean hole with them. The same as for the beans to stop there over night, and in the morning you have a stew that can't be built any other way, even by the best of chefs. The cover on your pail shuts in all the juices and vitality. Some of you people that are spitting blood in the city, get out and try this. It's all different in the woods. You can use for meat in this stew, partridge, rabbit, chicken, venison, beef or pork. It will come out of the bean hole thoroughly cooked and the strength and vitality right in it. If you are away some time from camp and it gets cold, add a little water and warm it up.
A fish chowder is made this way. Take your kettle and put a couple of slices of pork or bacon in the bottom, then a layer of sliced onions, then a layer of sliced potatoes, then one of fish, cut in pieces, and repeat until your kettle is full and on top put a layer of crackers or old split biscuit or bread. Fill this with water and season well with pepper and salt and bring to a boil and to the bean hole with it the same as for beans. In the morning you will have a fish chowder that if Teddy R. could taste it, he would say "de-lighted." This is the only way to cook and have a hot supper or breakfast with little trouble and the trapper or cruiser will find it all right.
Another good way to cook fish is to put some salt and water in your kettle and drop in a little vinegar and bring it to a boil. Have your fish ready, if they are not too big, and the ones I catch seldom are, and I would say in passing that some of these big fish and big catches are mostly jawbone catches. I usually scale and remove the inwards and wash clean, leaving the heads on, unless they are bullheads. Drop them into the hot water, first taking it off the fire. After your fish are in, set it back on the fire and just let it simmer, not boil, for about twenty minutes. If your water boils your fish will all go to pieces in no time. Oatmeal is fine cooked in a bean hole. I give these methods of cooking because I don't like 'too much fry pan around camp for I have so much of it and it gets old in time.
There are some plants and weeds that make fine greens. For instance, dandelions and the branches and tips of nettles, but I would not ad-vise monkeying too much with herbs or toad-stool mushrooms. If you get poisoned, bring on vomiting by drinking warm water and mustard, and sticking your finger down your throat and keep quiet and stay in camp and eat light food, in the shape of gruel made of flour and water. If it is very serious, better send for a doctor and his pump.