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
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A good many people differ on what constitutes a good light camp kit for a cruiser, prospector, hunter or trapper. I can give my own which has done nie good service for quite a while. My cooking outfit is very elaborate. It consists of a two quart tobacco pail with the handles or bail riveted on and a tight cover, a one quart pail that fits into this with bail riveted on and also a tight cover, two tin plates about eight inches in diameter, also a tin cup and a case knife, a fork and tablespoon. The whole thing cost me about 25c. One of the plates I use for a frying pan over a bed of hot ashes and coals, to fry meat and fish in, not burning them on, mind you.
All this cooking jewelry goes into a flour sack with three or four shot sacks that contain my sugar, tea, coffee and salt and pepper mixed and another muslin sack with my slab of bacon or fat pork in it, also a shot sack for my beans and another larger one for my cornmeal or flour. All these sacks are marked in ink what they contain and they all go into the flour sack with cooking outfit. I also carry a canteen for good water and cold tea. I have found this a very handy thing in any country. Of course this out-fit won't suit everybody but after such experimenting it fits all my requirements to a tee, and I think if any cruiser, prospector or trapper tries it he will be satisfied and it will be heavy enough when it comes night.
TENT AND BEDDING
I have had a good deal of trouble with tents and bedding. I have tried A tents, wall tents, miners' tents, shelter tents and some more tents and they are all to heavy except the shelter cloth and they are utterly useless unless one wishes to chop down the whole woods and go into the wood yard business, in order to keep comfortable if the weather is chilly. All these open tents let in mosquitoes and these gentlemen are to be reckoned with at some seasons of the year. I have also used dog tents with rope ridge poles. They are not so bad but you can't stand up in them to get your duds on.
I finally had a tent made for me of sail drill. It is five and a half feet wide by six feet high and seven feet long and weighs, without stakes or poles nine pounds. I got four loops sewed to the ridge pole to stick the tent pole through and use a couple of crotched sticks for the end poles. In timbered country you can throw these sticks away when you break camp, but on the prairie you must take them along. I got my tent some time ago and it cost me $3.50. On a chilly night by taking a few large stones and putting them inside it is quite comfortable and just the right size for two men. It is waterproofed by sugar of lead and alum process and dyed kahki color with white oak bark. I do not like a white tent for every one to rubberneck and visit, and they show dirt.
A tent that I can recommend for hot or cold weather, wet or dry, is the teepee tent shown in the cut. They certainly are the clear thing for cold weather and should be made of twelve ounce double filling duck and an eight ounce sod cloth and colored kahki with oak bark and water, fireproofed with sugar of lead and alum, four pounds sugar of lead, four pounds alum and three buckets rain water. Soak your tent in this after it is thoroughly dissolved. Soak it over night and hang on a fence to dry, this after you have colored it. The tent here shown is eight feet high, 10 feet in diameter and a two and a half foot *all. The peak of the tent is cut off and a hickory hoop sewed into it to which is fastened these cords that form the peak and the tent poles go in. It is a Sibley tent with the peak end of the tent cut off.
The tent poles are set tripod fashion. The plan shows a six inch trench in the tent and this must be covered up to near the cross and a flat stone laid on for your fire. If you have no trench your smoke will not go out. Make the hoop twelve or fifteen inches in diameter and use dry wood and get some in your tent before a rain or storm. The tent is heavy and will take one man to pack it, but it is solid comfort in cold and stormy weather and you can make your bean hole in it. These tents can be procured from any large dealer I think, and 12 ounce double filling duck will cost you about $10.00 or about $5,00 apiece for you and your pard, and are first class for what they are intended.
For a permanent camp for extreme cold weather the dugout is the best. Select the south side of a dry knoll or hill and dig out a space 12x15x6 1/2 feet. Cover the roof with poles, then lay on long grass and cover with two thicknesses of sod. Build up the front with sod or logs and pack in a door and glass sash if you can get them. These dugouts are much warmer and more comfortable than a log house, and you can stand any weather in them that ever blew. Build a fireplace in the back end of stone and clay and a chimney of sticks and clay and use a little sand in your clay. Don't make your chimney too big, 5 inches x 10 or 6x15 is plenty large. Use dry wood and you will have no smoke and use a large green back log.
Bedding is another thing I have had trouble with until I found something that suited me. I now use a five pound all wool army blanket.
They can be procured from the dealers in campers' and cruisers' goods for about $6,50 or $T.00 per pair, if you get a good one. In buying a blanket, look out that the weight is made up in thickness and not in length and breadth and make them guarantee all wool or no sale. Take your magnifying glass and examine it for cotton threads. There is lots of humbug in blankets. I also use a piece of 10 ounce canvas, water-proofed, the same size as the blanket or a little larger. With the blanket and canvas over you, you can stand pretty cold weather.
I freeze out oftener from too little cover under me. I use a couple of cheap 90c cotton blankets sewed together as for a common bed tick. This I fill with dry grass or leaves, putting a bed of small limbs under for bed springs, laid smooth and even as I believe in "smoothing" it instead of "roughing" it in camp, or anywhere else for that matter. When you break camp it can be emptied out and rolled up for the pack sack. Also don't forget a flour sack for a pillow. In a permanent camp your tick can be stood away during the day.
Perhaps a few words will not be amiss in regard to clothing. For summer most any old thing will do, but for winter this is not the case. The best thing I have ever found is an all wool 36 or 40 ounce four mackinaw. It is warm, light and comfortable and with a knit jacket and vest and good wool overshirt and undershirt, one can stand any weather in the United States and I never go out of Uncle Sam's dominions. A good pair of pants of the same stuff as your mackinaw coat and a pair of wool drawers under and a pair of light overalls will fix any one all right. If you are on a long tramp a change of underwear is desirable, although I have made many a long cruise without, washing the ones I wore on warm days.
Footwear is another important thing with a cruiser or prospector. For summer a good pair of oil tan single sole calfskin shoes pegged with large eyelet holes for lacing and about the same height of leg as a common shoe suits me first rate, and made to order they are easy on the feet. A pair of canvas leggings are all right but I don't like the weight on my legs so I wear my pants inside my socks.
In winter you will find a pair of extra heavy gold seal rubbers with realed soles and about three pair of wool socks under them to be all right. The low cut rubbers are the ones I have reference to. The socks will curl down over the edges and keep the snow out. Put your pants inside your socks. If your rubbers get damp inside, heat some gravel, or, better still, some oats if you can get them, and fill the rubbers and they will be nice and dry in the morning. I don't like moccasins. If they get wet they are hard to dry without burning and get stiff. They are like a canvas canoe when wet, sloppy and soggy, al-though around camp they are nice and I will say in passing I have no personal use for a sleeping bag, though some like them or pretend they do after they have been stuck for one. They bother in getting in and out quickly, and if they get wet they have got to be ripped apart to dry them. In summer they are too hot. The outfit given here will be found to be warm and light and that is all one wants.