If you have a raft you must know how to pole it, and at times it is

necessary to pole other kinds of craft. Select a straight pole of

strong, green wood eight feet or more in length. The length of the pole

will depend upon the depth of the water, for it must be long enough to

reach bottom. Trim off all the small branches and make it as smooth as


When the water is deep and calm a pole may sometim
s be used as a paddle

to send the raft along, but its real purpose is to push from the bottom.

In poling you must necessarily stand near the edge of the raft and must

therefore be careful not to lean too far over the water lest you lose

your balance and fall in.

Poling is a primitive, go-as-you-please method of propelling a craft and

is almost free from rules except those suggested by the common sense of

the poler. Like the early pioneers, you simply do the best you can under

the circumstances and are alert to take advantage of every element in

your favor. Where there is a current you pole for it and then allow your

raft to float with it, provided it goes in the direction you wish to

take and is not too swift. In this case you use your pole for steering,

which may sometimes be done from the stern, making a rudder of the pole,

at others from the side, and at times reaching down to the river bed. If

the current runs the wrong way be careful to keep out of it as much as


Shallow water near the shore is usually the most quiet and the safest

for a raft. Here you can generally pole your raft up-stream when the

water is deep enough to float it and is not obstructed by rocks, logs,

or snags. A raft is not safe where there is a swift current, and there

should always be strong arms to manage it.