CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING
by Perry D Frazer
A tent will be necessary if two persons cruise in company in
open canoes. If decked canoes are used, supplied with canoe tents, then
another tent will not be needed. For continuous cruising the canoe tent
is best, as with it the labor of nightly selecting and making camp can
be reduced. If two or more persons intend to camp several nights in one
place, a regular tent will be best. A small round or square tent will
be easiest to manage. It should be 7 feet in diameter at the bottom.
Only one pole is needed. This can be made of a limb or small tree;
sharpen both ends, insert one in the tent peak and the other in the
ground, raise the canvas, and peg down smoothly and tightly.
The Protean tent is similar to the square peaked tent. It
requires one pole; it has two walls, one 2 feet, and the other the full
height of the tent. Three guy ropes are needed.
An A, or wedge tent, having ridge ropes, but no poles, is
excellent for canoeists. The rope should be 25 feet long. Erect the
tent between two trees, and stretch rope and canvas taut. Ten pegs are
used. In the absence of trees, drive two strong stakes 12 feet apart,
make an end of the rope fast to each, and
30 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 31
brace with forked poles slightly higher than the tent; that
is, if the tent is 6 feet high, the poles should be 6-1/2 or 7 feet.
For a tent for one person, where extreme lightness is
desired, a very small wedge tent is recommended. It cannot be had of
the trade, but can be made to order for about $3. I have found these
small tents satisfactory for the purpose. A similar tent is described
by Arthur A. MacDonell, in Camping Out:
"A tent without side walls is made to suit the
requirements of Canadian canoeists, being extremely light and portable.
It weighs 6 pounds. The dimensions are 7 feet long by 5 feet wide, and
3 feet 6 inches high. Two uprights, which are without a ridge pole, are
held in position by two ropes, one attached to a peg straight in front
of the door, and the other to one straight behind the tent. Ten pegs
are used. The material of the tent is brown holland."
If such a tent is used with a canoe which has masts 3-1/2 or
4 feet high, these can be used as poles, or if a ridge rope is used,
poles will not be needed. With ridge rope the tent will be stronger,
and two trees or stakes can be found almost anywhere, between which to
pitch the tent.
Ridge ropes should be supplied with small wood or metal
tighteners, one for each end. An end of the rope is passed through one
of the holes and back through the other, then knotted, thus forming a
loop. Drop the loop over a stake, and haul on the tightener until the
rope is taut. In fastening to a tree, loose the knot, pull the rope
through the tightener, pass it around the tree, and knot as before.
It will be well to treat the tent rope to a bath of linseed
oil, applied hot; then place on a stretcher till dry. Braided cotton
cord, a quarter inch in diameter will answer. It will not shrink and
stretch like twisted cord.
It is very annoying to fasten the tent ropes tightly before
retiring, and then wake up in the night to find it raining hard, the
canvas sagging low, and the water dripping through, as it will unless
the canvas is stretched taut. On the other hand, if the ridge rope is
oiled, and remains taut when wet, and if the canvas is smoothly pegged,
there need be no guy ropes on the sides, for the tent will stand in a
This fact has been proved to me in a number of instances.
While cruising down the South Platte river with George A. Irwin, of
Jacksonville, Fla., in October, 1893, we camped one night on the river
bank on the great plains, where there were no trees to protect us. The
day had been very warm, but near midnight a furious norther swept the
plains, and on looking out, we saw the last remnants of our campfire
scoot across the level ground in front of the tent into the river. In
our nightclothes we ran out in the cold wind, taking the ax with us, to
tighten the tent pegs, but although the tent swayed and flapped in the
gale, it held firm, and on arising at daybreak, we found everything in
good shape but the fire, not a vestige of which remained. It was a
peculiar night, for the sun rose on the dead calm of a black frost,
with here and there a film of ice. Ours was a small A tent with ridge
On another cruise a companion and myself were camped in a
dense forest on the high bank of a river. Our little A tent was pitched
under some giant oaks
32 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 33
and maples; the canoe lay bottom up near by. We were
awakened one night by the crash of falling trees, the flapping of the
tent, and the roaring of the gale that made our position a hazardous
one. We even made the canoe's bow and stern painters fast to trees, as
the fierce gusts of wind threatened to carry it into the river. The
tent held through the storm and the deluge of rain that followed.
A Wisconsin correspondent of a New York sportsman's journal
has described a tent that may interest some canoeists. It is as follows:
"Buy 9 yards of cheap, heaviest unbleached
sheeting, yard wide. Cut it into three pieces, each 9 feet long. Cut
each piece diagonally. Sew edges together, leaving one seam open about
5 feet for entrance. Cut off bottom, then hem it up about 2 inches.
Insert grommets, to admit tent pin loops. In the apex of tent insert a
loop made of half-inch rope. A tent of this character cost me $1.27.
The sides are so steep it sheds water nicely."
This tent can also be used with ridge rope.
Tent stakes form an important part of the camping outfit.
The ordinary wedge tent will require ten pegs. For a long time I never
carried pegs with me, but made them from any pieces of wood that could
be found near where the tent was pitched. Afterward pegs were carried.
The best wooden pegs were those made of seasoned hickory. They were 1/2
inch in diameter, and about 8 inches in length. A small knob was left
at the top, and the ends made quite sharp. With a couple of smart raps
of the ax these pegs held, even in very soft earth.
There are objections to wooden pegs. They are always covered
with sand or mud, and soil everything with which they may be packed.
Pegs made of aluminum are clean, can be washed, will not rust or
corrode, are extremely light and compact, and can be stowed anywhere.
Quarter-inch aluminum bars can be cut, bent to shape, with a ring or
square at the top, and the ends slightly sharpened. When finished they
should be about 5 inches long for corner pegs, and others shorter if it
is desired. A set of aluminum pegs should not weigh more than 8 ounces.
In a driving rain no tent will be absolutely waterproof unless it has
an independent fly, or unless it is coated with oil or some waterproof
preparation. Either of the former methods will add to the weight and
are not necessary for ordinary use.
Rubber blankets of good quality, in size 4x6 feet, cost
about $1. A sheet of oiled 8 or 10 ounce duck, in size 7x7 feet, will
serve to keep the blankets clean and dry, both as a ground sheet and as
a cover in which to roll them when afloat. As a shelter it will be
serviceable if one gets caught in a sudden shower. A coat of boiled
linseed oil will render it nearly waterproof; two will make it
waterproof, but somewhat heavier. If it is desirable to use other
preparations in waterproofing canvas, that it may be kept soft and
pliable, the following old recipes may be used:
1.-Dissolve paraffin in naphtha or benzine, and
soak the goods thoroughly in the solution.
2.-Dissolve a half pound of sugar of lead and a half pound
of powdered alum in a bucket of rainwater, and pour off into another
vessel; steep the canvas in it, but let it soak thoroughly. Hang canvas
34 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 35
up and let it dry, but do not wring it. Add to the
quantity in same proportion, if insufficient.
3.-Take 11 Pounds of alum and 11 Pounds of Sugar of lead;
dissolve in 10-3/5 quarts of boiling water. Pour both solutions, while
hot, into a wooden dish, whereby a white precipitate of lead takes
place. Let it cool; then draw the fluid off; dilute it as needed with
53 quarts of water. Then dissolve in water 17-1/2 ounces of isinglass,
or 5-1/2 Pounds of white glue. Pour the first solution into the latter.
Let the canvas soak in this solution overnight. Hang up to dry without
wringing. Do not use sugar of lead for any thing in which provisions
are to be stored, for it is poison.
A half Pound of white oak bark in 7 Pounds of boiling water
will dye canvas dead grass color.
When purchasing blankets select dark colors and pure wool.
Get the best you can afford; it will be cheaper in the end. Half cotton
blankets are not warm, absorb moisture quickly, and soil easily. In the
woods twigs, leaves, and grass will stick to them, causing no little
annoyance to the sleeper. For Summer cruises one pair of blankets will
be sufficient. if they are double and of good quality. In size they
should be 6/2 feet long and almost as wide. For cold weather two pair
of double blankets will be enough ordinarily. When an oiled sheet is
taken it can be used over the blankets if the weather is cold. A better
plan 15 to spread the blankets out on the sheet, and then roll up in
them: this will bring the sheet over all, as well as under. It will add
wonderfully to warmth.
Sleeping bags are now made and sold by the trade at moderate
prices, compared with what was asked for them a few years ago. The best
ones are superb for use at any season, but expensive. Cheap bags are
made, and one may be had at about $5. If intended for use in the canoe,
or under a tent, a low-priced bag may answer; but otherwise, if not
waterproof, it will be an annoyance. If wet through it will take a long
time to dry, and sleeping in it will be dangerous to health.
A sleeping bag is easily made. A piece of oiled 8-ounce duck
is the first thing needed; it must be longer and wider than the
blankets. Double the duck and sew along the bottom and half way up the
side. Sew the top half way across from the folded side. The open part
may be arranged to button. One or two pairs of blankets can be put
inside. If preferred. these may be loosely sewed to the hag around the
sides and bottom. If the blankets are folded lengthwise, put in the bag
and sewed to it at the bottom and part way up the side, they will not
wrinkle and become displaced. One may sleep under as many thicknesses
as he likes.
I cannot pass lightly over the subject of cork cushions. As
one must sit on the bottom of the canoe or kneel on the floorboards
when paddling, some sort of cushion will not only be a luxury, but a
necessity. If the body is raised three or four inches from the bottom,
the limbs will not be subjected so much to cramps and aches, and more
power can be exerted on the paddle. If the canoe leaks, or if the floor
is made moist by rain or spray, the clothing will not come in contact
with it when one is seated on a cushion. Then, too, the motion of
36 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 37
paddling serves to make one's seat on a hard surface an
uncomfortable one, to say nothing of kneeling for any time on a hard
Camp stools are not to be thought of as part of the outfit,
and sitting on damp ground, rough logs, or stones in camp is foreign to
the indolent and luxurious ease one likes to enjoy. Cushions of rubber
are expensive and smell badly in warm weather; they will adhere to the
varnish so tightly that in raising them part of the rubber will tear
off and leave unsightly patches on the floorboards. Such cushions last
only a short time, and when punctured or old they are worse than
useless. Cushions of straw, excelsior, or cotton are still worse, for
when saturated with water they cannot be easily dried, hut are rendered
heavy and useless for the time being. Hair-filled cushions become hard,
and cost too much to be thought of. Cushions of cork shavings are
lighter than any other material, will never become soggy from wettings,
are easily dried, are soft and springy, are cheap, and possess the
merit of being life preservers.
It was only after long experiments that I found the secret
of the canoe cushion, bed and pillow combination, which has been such a
comfort on my cruises. It is as follows:
Buy three yards of awning cloth, which is usually
striped blue and white, and weighs eight ounces to the yard. The width
is 29 inches. Cut across the cloth every 20 inches, which will leave
four pieces. Get some one to sew each piece into a bag on the machine.
The edges should be boxed; that is, when finished the bag will be
six-sided, with straight edges, or sides. An opening should be left at
one end for the shavings.
Visit or send to some life-preserver manufacturer and buy
three pounds of cork shavings. They should cost about 15 cents a pound.
Fill the bags with these until they are of the same thickness
throughout; then have the openings sewed up, and you will have four
nice cushions, each 14x18-1/2 inches in size. If you wish them to be
soft, leave them as they are; to make them flat and even, get some
pieces of leather and cut out disks about 3/4 inch in diameter; place
the leather disk on the proper place, run the needle and thread through
it, the cushion and the disk on the opposite side, then back, when the
doubled end of the thread can be tied as tight as you wish. Three or
four bindings will keep the cushion flat.
The cost will be: Cloth, 40 cents; shavings, 45 cents:
total, 88 cents. Weight, 1 pound each. Each cushion will be 1-1/2
inches thick. By using two or three you can have a much higher seat. In
tandem cruising each person may have a cushion and backrest.
At night you can spread the four cushions on the floor of
the canoe or on the ground for a bed, as soft and dry as a mattress.
You can arrange them for a bed 56 inches long by 18 inches wide;
turning them around. the bed will be 14 inches wide and 6 feet long. In
either case it will be wide enough to sleep on, unless you are indeed
fastidious. At each corner small pieces of tape may be sewed, in order
that the cushions may be tied together. The cork is warm, and one will
sleep much more comfortably than on the ground or on a bed of blankets.
38 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 39
The selection of a camp ax should be carefully made. One
with a blade 4 inches broad is large enough. The handle should not be
longer than 16 inches. It should weigh less than 2 pounds, and be of
the best steel. Double bitted axes are preferred by many canoeists.
These have the advantage of two cutting edges, and as the ax is seldom
used as a hammer, except in driving tent pegs, the double bitted ones
are advantageous. As one may use the ax when in the canoe or when
wading, it is well to have it provided with a straight handle, which
should be wrapped with cord at the end, to render the grasp firm. In
cruising down some streams I have often been compelled to cut a way for
the canoe through fallen treetops and drift with the ax, and at such
times it would have been unfortunate to have dropped it in the water.
The use of the duffle hag by the canoeist was followed by
that of the carryall bag of the Sportsman and tourist, and the war bag
of the western man. No doubt the canoeist originated their use. Certain
it is that the canoeist's duffle bag is more useful than any other
article for carrying the outfit. Into it can be stowed every loose
article of clothing or equipment. Carryall bags made of canvas, bound
with leather and fitted with straps, are useful, but often expensive.
In making portages the straps are slung over the shoulders, and the bag
carried on the back. I have, after long experience, found a mere simple
one which answers the purpose as well, and costs less than $1. It is a
bag 30x36 inches, made of 10 ounce duck, with a wide hem at the top,
through which a 1/4 -inch draw rope is run. The seams at bottom and
side of such a bag should be double. Two coats of linseed oil will
render it waterproof. A strap sewed on the bottom will answer for a
handle, and the rope, when drawn tight and tied at the mouth, can be
used for the same purpose. Another style has a round bottom, and is
really more roomy. One of this style has been used by me for several
years. It cost 75 cents. It has been packed across the Rocky mountains
several times on ponies, has been roughly handled by expressmen and
baggage smashers, has been in wagons, steamers, and various
conveyances, as well as serving as a canoe duffle bag in numerous
cruises. Its contents have been damp, but water never entered it, even
in capsizes, or in the storms to which it has been exposed.
The trade offers a variety of articles for carrying
provisions. As I said before, I have found an ordinary japanned tin
bread box excellent. Any size can be had. The lid fits snugly down over
the top, and a flap and staple are on the opposite side from the
hinges, and this permits the use of a padlock. In one of these should
be placed all perishable provisions. For the rest, the following plan
Have six sacks made, 12x18 inches in size. These
should be of unbleached muslin, sewed on a machine, leaving hems at top
for draw strings. In these put rice, sugar, flour, meal, ground coffee,
salt, etc. The flour, salt, and meal should be put in the box; the
other articles can go in the duffle bag, together with an extra bag of
flour or meal. By ordinary care the provisions in the bag will not
become even damp. Cans with screw tops are nice, but one-pound baking
powder cans will answer. Have one for each --
40 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 41
baking powder, sugar, salt, coffee, rice, and cocoa. Stow
them in the provision box, to be handy for use each meal, without
having to open the bags to get the things wanted. These cans are light,
waterproof, and very convenient. A small label on each, as "Sugar,"
"Salt," etc., will distinguish the cans.
Cooking outfits for canoeists can be had of the trade. These
are complete for certain purposes, but are not always just what one
needs. Besides, the cost is more than some will care to pay. These
outfits are usually made to be used with a spirit stove. They are made
to occupy the smallest space possible, and the smaller articles nest in
the larger ones.
It will be well to buy a cheap outfit at first, and after
some experience one can get just what is needed. Mistakes will be less
costly then. Aluminum has been in the market for several years, but it
is still expensive. Owing to its extreme lightness, it is perfectly
adapted to canoeists' use. It does not rust or corrode, is easily
cleaned, and is lighter than other metals. Cooking utensils made of
aluminum are now sold in all of the cities.
Select the coffeepot first. For one person it should not
hold more than a quart or three pints of water. See that the spout is
riveted on; also the strainer. Solder will melt too easily. The low,
broad pots are best. If one prefers tea, the same advice holds good. A
good plan is to use a small pail, which has a tightly fitting lid, for
the coffee, and use a small wire strainer when pouring the coffee. This
will do away with the coffeepot, which is at best a difficult article
to stow snugly.
If aluminum or steel frying pans cannot be had with folding
or detachable handles, have them made. The pans should nest. They
should be 10 inches in diameter at the bottom, and not more than 2
inches deep. If such pans cannot be had, then get iron or thin steel
pans with long handles; the end of handle should be covered with tin,
to prevent heating.
Two half-gallon seamless stew pans, with bales and flat
covers, will be next. These will nest, and the coffeepot will go inside
both when stowed. A gallon stew pan can be added, for use as a water
bucket, if desirable.
Get one seamless pint cup for each person. See that the
handle is a separate piece, riveted to the cup at the top, but loose at
the bottom, that the cup may be nested in another cup or pan.
Four plates are enough. These will nest in the frying pan.
Six will suffice for two persons. It is supposed that the plates will
be used to keep bread and cakes warm near the fire, and to use
otherwise than to eat from. For one person, select one fork, two
teaspoons, two large spoons, one good table knife, two small shakers,
one each for pepper and salt. If a pocket knife is carried -- and of
course it will be -- its large blade will answer for cutting meat,
etc., thus serving a double purpose.
Camp stoves, bake ovens, etc., need no comment here. They
are too cumbersome for use. A folding spider is liked by many, on which
meats, etc., can be broiled. Spirit lamps or stoves are much used. With
a spirit stove one can cook a meal while afloat, and this may often be
desirable, either in places where a landing cannot be made, or when
cruising down stream, when one does not desire to stop.
42 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 43
E.B. White's Camp Stove (above, below)
Cooking can also be done in a canoe or other tent, and
during a rain this will be a feature that is valuable. Cooking over a
campfire in the rain is often disagreeable. With a spirit stove,
however, only a few things can be cooked at one time, and the Campfire
should be relied on generally. Single or double burner oil stoves may
be used, but are heavy. With them one must also take a supply of
kerosene oil. My own experience has taught me that the campfire is the
place to cook, usually.
A well-known sportsman's paper some time ago contained an
illustrated paper by E.B. White, of Aroostook county, Me., which I am
enabled to reproduce here, and do so gladly, as the camp cooking range
described has no little merit. I would only add that a canoeist could,
no doubt, have one made much lighter, or modify its design to suit his
own ideas. It is as follows:
44 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 45
"The sheet iron ring, e, Fig. 3, goes on top of
post before hangers are put on, and is to protect the neck of the
hangers from the fire; otherwise they would get so hot as to allow them
to lap down. A short piece of larger pipe is driven down about 1/4 inch
from the top, to hold the sheet iron ring (e) in position. To set up
for use, drive the iron post into the ground, put on the sheet iron
ring and hangers, and put in your kettles, etc. It weighs less than
2-1/2 pounds, and is very compact when taken apart. The frying pan is
made to pack plates, knives, forks, and spoons. The plates are held in
place by spring wires caught in holes drilled in edge of pan, shown in
illustration. The coffeepot holds cups, pepper and salt shakers,
teaspoons, and a box for sugar."
While fully aware that on no other subject do canoeists
disagree so radically as on that of provisions, and while expecting
some criticisms, I will give the results of personal experience, gained
after practical tests during every season of the year. The list below
is based on the assumption that game will be cooked an average of once
each day. The list is for the use of one person, for twenty-eight days:
Three pounds of coffee, five pounds of granulated sugar, ten pounds of
corn meal, ten pounds of flour, one pound of baking powder, three
pounds of breakfast bacon, one-half pound of table salt, one ounce of
black pepper, three pounds of butter.
Butter and eggs can be bought at any farmhouse or country
store. The sugar, meal, and flour can be had anywhere, if exhausted. If
lard is preferred to bacon, take five pounds. If it is intended to make
biscuits or white bread often, take less meal and more flour. From a
point of health, corn meal bread and griddle cakes will be far better
than wheat bread or biscuits, can be quickly made, and are delicious to
the hungry canoeist. In selecting provisions, remember that the canoe
is a light boat, and if it is overloaded, every pound of weight will
require more exertion with the paddle. A fast canoe may be made to
handle like a log by overloading. Therefore, it can be readily
understood that in the heaviest portion of the outfit -- the
provisions-many things must be left behind. Select those which are most
healthful and wholesome first; then, if there is still room, take only
such things as will be in the nature of a variety. It will be best for
various reasons that the fare be plain but wholesome. If well cooked,
plain food will take the place of many things which are luxuries-on a
Small cans of fruit jams are nice to take along. Canned
beans, corn, tomatoes, fruit, evaporated cream, etc., are excellent,
but all are heavy.
Whisky, brandy, or any liquor, will be best when left at
home. The bottles are heavy, easily broken, and liquor is of no real
value in camp. If one is chilled through from exposure, a cup of
strong, hot coffee will do more good than whisky. As an antidote for
bites of poisonous reptiles, strong black coffee and a burning coal
applied to the affected part will be more likely to prove beneficial.
Quinine capsules and cathartic pills should be taken. Add a bottle of
carbolated vaseline, and one of petroleum jelly, for cuts, bruises, or
chapped or sunburned hands. Some simple medicines, in small quantities,
may not be amiss.
46 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 47
This is a more important subject than is generally supposed.
What to take and what is not needed will often puzzle one when making
ready for a cruise.
For underwear one extra suit will be enough for one month's
use. Four pair of socks will meet all demands, and two pair will be
better. Two flannel shirts should be taken. These should be large and
have wide collars. A flap sewed on one side of the collar, and a button
on the other side, to button round the neck, will be very comfortable
in keeping the sun off the neck, and to keep mosquitoes and Insects
from stinging one's neck, as well as for increased warmth. Two large
pockets will be useful. A pocket in which the watch will fit tightly,
that it will not drop out when one stoops, should be sewed on the left
breast, where it will rest just below the collar bone. In that place it
will be least liable to be broken or injured. Either in handling the
canoe or in being "spilled" in shallow water. if carried in the fob
pocket, the watch may be injured, and if carried in the large pockets
in the shirt it will drop out when one stoops.
One or two extra handkerchiefs will be wanted. The large
white silk ones are best, as they are easily washed and are soft to
wear around the throat. Shirts, handkerchiefs, and underwear should be
washed often, and if one suit is kept clean and dry, one can change at
any time that may be desirable or necessary.
In summer a pair of knickerbockers and light wool hose will
be best. The former should be made with both front and hip pockets, and
should fit closely round the waist. If full length trousers are worn,
they should be of wool, soft and light. Corduroy is much worn, but has
the disadvantage of being heavy when wet. If desirable, the extra pair
of trousers can be corduroy, and may be worn when in camp. The
knickerbockers can then be kept to wear when afloat.
A light sack coat may be taken, but a vest is out of place.
In cold weather a reefer or pea jacket. longer than the ordinary coat,
will be very comfortable. It may at times be worn when paddling, and to
that end it should be large and loose, that it will not retard the free
use of the arms in paddling. Corduroy coats lined with wool or flannel
are warm, but heavy when wet, and do not dry quickly. Leather coats are
warmer than others, and a fairly good coat can be had at a moderate
cost. Canvas shooting coats will answer, both for warmth and to keep
out rain. A cap with a visor to shade the eyes, or a small crush felt
tourist hat will be best. One cap or one hat is enough to take.
A wool sweater is an article of clothing that should never
be. left behind. If necessary, leave the coat, but take the sweater.
When cold or wet, or both, it will prove its value. I prefer a heavy
48 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 49
all other articles of clothing for cruising use. It will
stretch or fit snugly, according to what is worn under it. When
paddling, one will find more warmth and comfort in wearing two or more
flannel shirts under a sweater than when a heavy coat is worn over it.
Every article of clothing should be wool. Even in summer
light wool clothing is best. If clad in it one will not so easily take
cold from exposure or from being wet. Outside clothing, to wear when
hunting or fishing, should be gray or dead grass color. These colors
will not be so readily seen by game, and will look neat, even when
soiled. A long coat is out of place in a canoe. An oiled sou'wester, to
reach slightly below the hips, will be better than a rubber coat.
Macintosh coats are somewhat heavy. Many canoeists prefer oiled sheets
about four feet square. One of the sides is cut to the center, where
there is a bole to fit round the neck. These are worn as capes.
For hunting where the ground is not stony and rough, nothing
is so comfortable for footwear as moccasins, with tops reaching
slightly above the ankle bone. Moosehide moccasins can be had of the
trade for $2 or $3. These are oil tanned, thick, strong, and will last
a long time. They have neither heel nor sole. At first moccasins tire
the feet, but after one becomes accustomed to them, they are the most
comfortable of all footwear. One can walk in them in the woods without
making a noise that will frighten game. With care one can travel
through the woods without making twigs snap and leaves rustle. For cold
weather. or for walking where there are pebbles or sharp stones,
insoles can be put in the moccasins, or two pair of wool socks may be
worn. Stepping on sharp-cornered stones or small pebbles is painful at
first. For such wear sewed full length soles will answer. No footwear
containing nails should be worn in the Canoe, if it is desired to keep
it in good condition. The absence of heels may cause one to slip or
fail at first, in hilly country. Low sewed heels are not objectionable,
except that with heels one cannot walk noiselessly. Boots or leggins
should not be worn. If wearing long trousers, fold the bottoms, draw
the tops of the moccasins outside, and lace them tightly. Sand or dust
can thus be kept out.
To wear in the canoe, moccasins are excellent. There are
several kinds of low cut yacht shoes or slippers, made of canvas, with
corrugated rubber soles. The rubber soles will not injure the canoe,
and the shoes may be quickly changed for shore wear. if these are worn
in cruising, it wilt be well to have a pair of high rubber shoes, to
put over them when going ashore. To keep mud out of the canoe, these
can be removed on reembarking. Footwear should be selected in which one
can swim, if necessary. High hoots, leggins, heels, and heavy soles are
objectionable, for this reason.
At first the paddle will blister the hands severely. This
applies equally to double or single blade paddles. To prevent this, an
old pair of kid gloves, having the fingers cut off, to leave the first
joints of the fingers free, can be worn. In the hot sun the gloves will
also prevent the wrists and hands from being severely burned and
50 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 51
persons suffer intensely when exposed to the sun on the
water for a few days. Although, when paddling, one's hands and wrists
are constantly exposed to the sun, many canoeists will suffer greatly
from burned and blistered hands and wrists in preference to wearing
gloves. They dread being teased for wearing gloves when cruising. In
cold weather a pair of knit wool gloves will be needed. Paddling is
cold work at times, and unless protected, the hands will not be
comfortable. In a head wind, when spray is flying, and when the paddle
must be used constantly, wet and half frozen hands and fingers will
cause a great deal of discomfort.
FIRE ARMS AND AMMUNITION.
In this chapter no attempt is made to include all makes, and
their respective merits, hut only such rifles and appliances as are
safe, reliable, and accurate, which have withstood tests of men whose
opinions are to be relied on. It will be observed I limit weights of
rifles to about 7 pounds, and lengths of barrels to 26 inches. It has
long been conceded by expert marksmen that long and heavy barrels are
not best for hunting, and the canoeist must limit the weight of his
rifle. Personal opinions or preferences are given with the knowledge
that, after exhaustive tests by the best known marksmen at target and
xxx game, the data is of practical value. It is difficult to name a
particular rifle for certain uses, for sportsmen are fanciful in regard
to rifles and ammunition, and the choice of a rifle will be largely a
matter of individual preference. It is well to say, however, that for
extreme accuracy single shot rifles are best.
For canoe cruising and camping, light rifles should be
selected. Even in the large calibers 7 pounds should be the maximum
weight, and 26 inches the maximum length of barrel. It is not necessary
to have long barrels. Up to a certain limit one can do better shooting
with a long barrel, but it is chiefly because the sights are
52 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 53
further apart, thus preventing errors in sighting. With a
short barrel the rifle can be more easily stowed and handled in the
Take-down rifles are best for canoeists. Many of the best
rifles are so made that the barrel may be easily and quickly detached
from the stock. A takedown rifle with 22 or 24-inch barrel can be
stowed in a very small space, and this is an advantage not to be
Revolvers or pistols are nearly useless on a cruise, unless
no rifle is taken; then one may not be amiss, and a great deal of
pleasure may be had practicing with an accurate revolver in the woods,
or when one is fishing and the rifle is left behind. The Stevens target
pistols are excellent for some purposes, when fitted with target
sights. These are made for .22 and .25 caliber rim-fire cartridges, and
are very accurate. The Smith & Wesson model 1891 pocket revolver is
nicely adapted to this use. The .38 caliber barrels are made in several
lengths, up to and including 6 inches; they are often fitted with
elevating target sights. The barrel and cylinder may be removed, and a
pistol barrel substituted, making the arm a single shot pistol. These
barrels are made in .22, .32, and .38 calibers, and in lengths up to 10
In large calibers, the Smith & Wesson .44 caliber
Russian model is the most accurate, especially when fitted with target
sights. It can also be had in .32 and .38 calibers. The Frontier model
single action Colt revolvers are very reliable and durable. They are
made in several calibers.
A shotgun is not recommended for the canoeist. In order to
take one, a number of cartridges will be needed; these are heavy, and
will increase the weight more than anything else in proportion to bulk.
If a gun is taken, however, the same methods mentioned in regard to
rifles will apply. Care must be exercised in shooting heavy charges
from a light canoe with a shotgun.
LIGHT WEIGHT RIFLES.
The lightest weight rifles are made by the Stevens Company,
of Chicopee Falls, Mass. The Pocket rifle is made for .22 and .25
caliber rim-fire cartridges, as well as for some of the pistol sizes.
The barrels are 15 and 18 inches long. Skeleton stocks are fitted.
These can be attached or detached quickly, or the barrel, by turning
out a screw on the side of the frame, may be detached. One of these
little rifles, with 15 or 18-inch barrel, will weigh about 3 pounds. It
will do really fine shooting with .22 short, or .22-7-45 rim-fire
cartridges. Two or more barrels of different caliber and length may be
had for the same stock. The use of Lyman sights, with very small ivory
bead front sight, and Lyman combination rear, is advantageous.
The Stevens Company's Favorite rifle is an ideal one for
canoeists. It weighs 4-1/2 pounds. The barrel is 22 inches long, and it
is fitted with shapely stocks and shotgun butt plate. By turning out a
thumbscrew under the barrel, the barrel may be detached. This rifle is
made for .22 and .25 caliber rim-fire cartridges. Two or more barrels
may be had for the same stock. One of these, fitted with Lyman sights,
will be excellent. The .22-7-45 is recommended, for
54 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 55
with it longer shots may be made, and a goose, turkey, hawk,
or fox will not get away quickly if struck with one of these bullets.
The model 1890 Winchester repeater is of this class. Its
weight is about 5-3/4 pounds. It may be had in .22 short or .22-7-45.
With either it is very accurate, handy, and an excellent rifle for
small game. It is made to take down. A 22-inch barrel will be better
than the 24-inch regularly furnished. A sling strap will be convenient.
These rifles do not foul badly. I have often fired a large number of
shots without cleaning, being careful to breathe through the barrel
often, to moisten the residue.
MEDIUM WEIGHT RIFLES.
The Remington Fire Arms Co., of Ilion, N.Y., makes rifles of
medium weight for .22 short, .25-20, and other cartridges, which are
excellent. The company does not make take-down models. Ballard and
Maynard rifles are no longer made. Both are excellent, particularly the
latter, which was made with detachable barrel. Both are famous for
accuracy and good material.
The Marlin Fire Arms Co., of New Haven, Coon., makes elegant
little repeaters of medium weight. Those having half magazines are
lightest. They are made with detachable barrels, and for model, finish,
and accuracy they are among the best.
The Stevens Ideal rifle is perfectly adapted to canoeists'
uses. It is like the Favorite, but heavier. By turning out a screw
under the barrel the latter may be unscrewed from the frame. The rifle
weighs 7-1/4 pounds when fitted with a 26-inch barrel. With this rifle
one may have two or more barrels. The Ideal may be had in .22 short,
.22-7-45, .25-20, .25-25, .32 Ideal, .32-40, and .38-55. The Stevens
old model rifles, with tip-down barrels, are good, hut the Ideal is
much better for all purposes. The old models can be had in any small
Winchester single shot rifles in medium weights are as good
as any made, but are not supplied in take-down models. They are made
for all calibers. Winchester repeaters are made to take down. They are
made for .32-20 and nearly all large calibers.
With the large calibers the rifles should be heavier, to
secure the best results. For canoeists this rule should be modified,
for it will not be advisable to carry heavy rifles. Single shot rifles
are lighter than repeating rifles, and are more accurate. Many hunters
of large and dangerous game will not carry repeating rifles under any
circumstances. There are reasons why canoeists should carry single shot
rifles, chief among which is the danger of having a loaded rifle in the
canoe, and cartridges carried in the magazine add to the element of
danger. One can shoot rapidly enough for all purposes with a single
shot rifle, and gain considerable in the weight of the magazine of the
repeater. For the heaviest calibers 7 or 7-1/2 pounds will be
sufficient. In hunting one does not notice the recoil, which will be
slightly greater in light than in heavy rifles.
Below are named a few cartridges which have given good
results in hunting, any one of which will be found reliable for certain
purposes. It is not advisable to
56 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 57
hunt large game with small caliber cartridges. It is better
to hunt small game with large calibers, than large game with small
calibers, for, aside from a humane point of view, the results will be
far from satisfactory:
For small game, excluding deer -- .22 short,
.22-7-45, .25-10-67, .25-20-77, .25-25-86, .32 Ideal, and .32-40.
For deer -- .38-55-255, .40-70-330, .45-70-330, Gould
bullet, and 45-80-350, Sharps shell.
For large game -- .45-70-330, Gould bullet, .45-80-350 or
405, .45-100-550, patched bullet, and .50-100-450.
The .22 short rim-fire cartridge is one of the best of the
short range cartridges. Long years of practical use in every quarter of
the universe has proved its value. It is so cheap one need hardly
reckon its cost. Although it is often regarded as a toy charge, it will
be sufficiently reliable for hunting where the game is not larger than
squirrels, rabbits, ducks, etc., within the limit of its extreme
accuracy. When one is cruising it is not expected every shot will be
fired at game. A great deal of genuine pleasure may be had shooting at
floating objects in the water, at tin cans or bottles on the beach, or
at targets tacked on trees. With a supply of ammunition this may be
done, and the practice will be of value in making one proficient in the
use of the rifle for game shooting. The light report, absence of
recoil, and light weight of the rifle, will all be in favor of the .22
short. The cartridges are light. In thickly settled places the bullets
are not likely to do mischief, as they will be spent after going short
distances. Neither do they tear game badly, but kill cleanly and
quickly. There is little difference in the .22 short as made by the
different companies. Hollow point bullets are much used. Nitro powders
have been used in these cartridges, but the results obtained are not
better than with black powder.
The .22-7-45 cartridge has been improved until it is now one
of the most reliable and accurate of rimfire cartridges. The shell is
longer than that of the .22 short, and the bullet, which has a flat
point, is seated down in the shell, leaving no lubricant exposed to be
smeared with dust and make the clothing greasy. It can be carried in
the pocket nicely, and will remain clean. It has a low trajectory and
considerable smashing power, combined with great accuracy.
The .25-10-67 rim-fire cartridge is preferred by many
riflemen, It is a good cartridge, and kills cleanly at short range. Its
high trajectory necessitates changes in elevation for long shots. The
bullets are inside lubricated.
The .25-20-86 cartridge is a favorite of many small game
hunters, and for target shooting at short range. It has a very flat
curve, and is accurate up to 200 yards, besides having light report and
little recoil. I used rifles taking this cartridge on a number of
cruises, and found it more than satisfactory. My cartridges were loaded
with 19 or 21 grains of powder, and 63, 77, or 86 grain bullets.
The .25-25-86 cartridge is not so well known as others, but
its good qualities are so numerous as to recommend it. The shell being
straight inside, light charges may be used with a short pointed bullet,
which is an excellent one for use on small game, as it will not tear
badly. For heavy charges
58 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 59
use 77 or 86 grain flat point bullets, which will give
smashing force and accuracy. The powder charge should be 20 and 22
grains for the last two bullets. With 15 grains of powder and the 73
grain sharp point bullet, and 20 to 25 grains with the 77 or 86 grain
bullet, one will be prepared for squirrels, grouse, ducks, or rabbits,
and for larger game as well, as hawks, crows, turkeys, foxes, or even
The .32 Ideal has many admirers. The shell is straight
inside, and can be loaded with various charges. It is extremely
accurate. The .32-40 cartridge is too well known to need much comment.
With reduced charges it is accurate at short range, and if one has
occasion to use the full charge on turkeys, or even deer, it will be
Like the above, the .38-55-255 cartridge is well known and
reliable. It can be used on large game, and reduced charges may be used
with good results.
The .40-70-330 or 370 cartridge is excellent for deer, or
even larger game. Its shell is straight inside, and can be used with
For deer, moose, or dangerous game, any of the following
cartridges will be reliable, and as they all possess great merit, the
selection of any of them will not be amiss: .45-80-350, flat point;
.45-80-405; .45-70-330, Gould hollow point bullet; .45-100-550, patched
If cartridges loaded with nitro powder are used, extreme
care must be taken in cleaning the barrel inside, or it will rust when
least expected. One may think because the barrel seems to be free from
fouling that it needs no cleaning, but that is how the most costly
mistakes are made. The residue from nitro powder is transparent, or
nearly so, but the acids used in its manufacture will rust steel
quickly. Wipe out the barrel with a wet rag, then with dry rags, until
no moisture remains; then use an oiled rag, followed by a dry one. If
left over night without cleaning, after nitro powder has been fired in
it, you may find your rifle rusted and perhaps ruined.
Too much cannot be said about care of rifles when in camp or
afloat. Plenty of sperm oil or vaseline should be taken, and the rifle
should often be carefully oiled, inside and out, to prevent rusting,
and the locks kept well oiled and free from grit. After the rifle has
been fired, or exposed to damp air, it should be wiped out clean and an
oiled rag pushed through the barrel. After oiling the barrel inside it
is better to wipe it out with a dry rag than to leave the oil in
patches, which may collect moisture. Before going to bed, clean the
rifle thoroughly, whether it has been used or not. Keep it as near the
sane temperature as possible; if it becomes very hot when exposed to
the sun or fire, and is then exposed to damp air at night, it will
"sweat," or collect moisture, and will be badly rusted before morning.
A jointed brass rod should be taken, and some strong flannel or cloth
for cleaning. Do not use old cloth, which may tear in the barrel, and
when the cleaning rod is pushed through it you may have great
difficulty in extracting it, or may have the rifle rendered useless for
the time. When cruising keep the rifle empty, and in some place under
the deck where the spray will not rust it. If it is a take-down, and
you have no immediate need for it, wrap the stock in a flannel garment,
the barrel in another, and stow
60 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 61
them in the duffle bag. When in camp keep it away from the
fire, and do not leave it where the moisture from the tent walls or
ground may rust it.
Always keep the rifle empty. Never deviate from this rule
under any circumstances, or permit others to do so. When in the canoe,
even when expecting to see game at any time, follow this rule.
Cartridges can be kept handy, to be instantly placed in the chamber
when needed. When alone do not be careless in this respect. Accidents
may prove fatal under these circumstances. Should the rifle be
discharged, if you were struck with a bullet when on the water, you
would have few chances of surviving the shock, even though the wound
might be trivial. A life is worth more than anything else, and one
should not take chances with it. Do not permit carelessness with fire
arms by any person in your company. If cruising with a careless person,
insist that he follow this advice; if he does not, leave him. It may
save your life.
At all times be careful in firing. Persons unseen by you may
be struck by a bullet, even a long distance away. When shooting at
objects on the water, never fire unless the object is between you and a
high bank, or unless you can see that no person is beyond and in line
of your fire. Carelessness is inexcusable.
Do not shoot animals and birds just for the fun of killing
them, except hawks, crows, foxes, and such game destroying vermin, but
do not kill insectivorous or song birds. Such are of no value for food,
and it is wrong for many reasons to kill them.
The number of cartridges to be taken depends largely on the
amount of game likely to be seen and the length of your outing. In
large calibers 200 cartridges will be sufficient for four weeks; in
small calibers, add another hundred. If .22 or .25 caliber rim-fire
cartridges are taken, one will shoot a great deal more, because he will
find more small than large game, and will practice more.
Do not take reloading tools into the woods. They are heavy
and often useless. Again, do not take a large number of cartridges with
you, for emergencies. When firing at game, try to make each shot count.
I have carried cartridges in ordinary 25 pound shot sacks, which had
been treated to a coat of linseed oil. If the sack of cartridges is
stowed in the duffle bag with the clothing, they will not be injured by
moisture. A few may be taken out when needed, and carried in the
62 CANOE CRUISING AND CAMPING. 63
© 2000 Craig O'Donnell
May not be reproduced without my permission.