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Insect Ointments


These insects seem to have a special aversion for the scent of

pennyroyal--an herb growing commonly in sandy localities--and a

single plant rubbed upon the face and hands will often greatly

check their attacks.

The oil of pennyroyal is better, however, and an ointment made by

straining one ounce of the oil into two or three ounces of pure

melted lard, or mutton tallow, forms an excellent antidote. This
may be carried in a little box or bottle, in the pocket, and applied

as occasion requires. Plain mutton tallow is also a most excellent

ointment for general use, and in the case of bruises or slight

wounds, will give great relief.

Another preparation in very common use amongst hunters and woodsmen,

although not quite as agreeable in odor, consists of a mixture of

common tar and sweet oil, in equal parts. By some this liniment

is considered superior to the other, inasmuch as it also prevents

tanning, and is beneficial to the complexion.

During the night time, the tent or shanty often becomes swarmed

with the winged pests, and their nocturnal assaults are proverbial

for their pertinacity and severity. Their thirst for blood overcomes

every other instinct, and pennyroyal often ceases to have any effect.

Our Adirondack guide, in narrating his experience with these insect

vampires, even says that on a certain night, becoming exasperated at

their indomitable perseverance, and, getting tired of the monotonous

occupation of spreading ointment, he arose, lit his candle, and drove

the creatures out of the tent. He then buttoned up the opening, and

retired to rest. A storm came up in the night, and so completely

had his canvas been riddled by the bills of the mosquitoes, that

the rain poured through his tent as through a sieve.

We have heard of the man who, when pursued by hungry mosquitoes,

took refuge beneath a large chaldron, and, by the aid of a stone,

clinched the blood-thirsty bills as they protruded in quest of his

life-blood, until, by the united efforts of the winged captives,

the chaldron was lifted and wafted out of sight, as if it were a


One story is just as true as the other, and a summer in the Adirondack

woods will tend to strengthen, rather than diminish, the belief in


The smoke of smouldering birch bark will effectually drive away

the mosquitoes from the tents at night. This method is commonly

known as the smudge, and is more fully described in another part

of this work.

The smell of the smoke is often unpleasant at first, but it is always

preferable to the insect bites.

Mosquitoes are not the only vampires which infest our wooded lands.

The punkeys and midgets can outstrip them for voracity and the

painful character of the wound which they inflict. The punkey,

or black-fly, as it is called, is a small, black gnat, about the

size of a garden ant, and the bite of the insect often results

very seriously. The midget is a minute little creature, and is the

most everlastingly sticky and exasperating pest in the catalogue

of human torments. They fly in swarms of thousands, and go for their

victim en masse and the face, hands and neck are soon covered as

if with hay seed. They stick where they first light, and commence

operations immediately. All endeavors to shake them off are fruitless,

and their combined attacks are soon most painfully realized. Their

bites produce great redness and swelling, and the itching is most

intolerable. Happily for the woodsman, the smudge

and pennyroyal ointment are effectual preventives against the attacks

of both midgets and black flies, as well as mosquitoes; and no one

who values his life or good looks should venture on a woodland

excursion in the summer months without a supply of this latter

commodity. In conclusion, we would remark that, to the mosquito

the blood of the intemperate seems to have a special attraction,

and anyone who wishes to enjoy comparative freedom from the attacks

of these pests, should abstain from the use of alcoholic stimulants.

It is a too prevalent idea among trappers that whiskey and rum are

necessary adjuncts to a trapping campaign, and many a trapper would

about as soon think of leaving his traps at home as his whisky bottle.

This is all a mistake. Anyone who has not sufficient strength of

constitution to withstand the hardships and exposures of a trapping

life, without the especial aid of stimulants, should stay at home.

We are now alluding to the habitual use of such stimulants. It

is always well to be provided with a flask of whisky or brandy,

in case of illness, but it should only be resorted to in such an

event. For a mere chill, we recommend the use of red pepper tea. A

simple swallow of this drink, (made simply by soaking a red pepper

in a cup of hot water) will restore warmth much quicker than three

times the amount of any alcoholic stimulant. It is not our purpose to

extend into a lengthened temperance lecture, but only to discourage

the wide-spread idea that stimulants are necessities in the

life of the trapper. Midgets, musquitoes and punkeys delight over

a victim with alcohol in his veins, and while to a healthy subject

the bites are of only brief annoyance, to the intemperate they

often result in painful, obstinate sores.

In addition to the various ointments used, it is well to be provided

with a head-net, such as we illustrate. Nets of this kind are specially

made for sportsmen, and consist of a spiral wire framework, covered

with mosquito netting, and of such a size to slip easily on the


They are easily made, as our engraving would indicate.

A netting attachment for the hat is also an acquisition, especially

in open woods, free from overhanging branches or dense thickets.

Such a netting may be secured to the edge of the hat brim, and

gathered with an elastic at the lower edge. This elastic will close

snugly around the neck when in use, and at other times may be drawn

above the brim and allowed to rest on top of the crown.

The portable hat brim, which we illustrate, is an article of trade

in common use among sportsmen, and particularly the angler. Our

engraving (a) shows the article separate. It is made of cloth,

and is kept in its circular shape by a steel spring band at the

circumference, between the two sides. It may be attached to any

hat, and will act as a most effectual shelter to the rays of a

hot sun.

The netting above alluded to may be attached to such a brim, and

applied to the edge of the hat when desired. This is shown at (b),

which also indicates the manner of adjustment of the brim. Such a

brim will often do good service, and may be obtained at almost any

sporting emporium at trifling cost. It is portable in every sense

of the word, being easily bent and packed away in the pocket.