Categories: THE TRAPPER'S MISCELLANY.
These commodities are almost indispensable to the trapper where
he pursues his vocation in the winter time, during the prevalence
of deep snows. When properly made they permit the wearer to walk
over the surface of the snow with perfect ease; where, without
them, travel would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
In the regions of perpetual snow, and also in Canada and neighboring
are very commonly worn. In the latter localities
the snow-shoe race forms one of the favorite sports of the season,
and young and old alike join in its mysteries. Like riding on the
velocipede, walking on snow-shoes looks easy enough, but we notice
that a few somersaults are usually a convincing argument that the art
is not as simple as it appears. The first experience on snow-shoes
is apt to be at least undignifying, if not discouraging, and in order
to get used to the strange capers and eccentricities of an ordinarily
well-behaved snow shoe, it requires considerable patience and practice.
There is no telling where, in an unguarded moment, they will land
you, and they seem to take especial delight in stepping on each
other and turning their wearer upside down. The principal secret
of success (and one may as well know it at the start, as to learn
it at the expense of a pint of snow down his back) consists in
taking steps sufficiently long to bring the widest portion of the
stepping shoe beyond that of the other, keeping the feet rather
far apart and stepping pretty high. By observing these precautions,
and trusting in Providence, much embarrassment may be saved, and
an hour's effort will thoroughly tame the unruly appendages, which
at best do not permit of much grace or elegance of gait.
To the moose hunter snow-shoes are often an absolute necessity,
and trapping in many cases would be impossible without them. They
are thus brought fully within the scope of our volume, and we give
a few simple directions for their manufacture. Our illustration
gives the correct shape of the shoe. The framework should consist
of a strip of ash, hickory or some other elastic wood, bent into
the form indicated and wound around the ends with twine or strips
of hide. The length of the piece should be about six feet, more
or less, in proportion to the size of the individual who proposes
to wear the shoe. If the bending should prove difficult it may
be rendered an easy matter by the application of boiling water.
Across the front part two strips of stout leather, or other tough
hide, are then fastened, and these further secured together by three
or four bands on each side of the middle, as our drawing shows.
In the original Indian snow-shoe, from which our drawing was made,
the net work was constructed from strips of moose hide, which were
interlaced much after the manner of an ordinary cane-seated chair.
Strips of leather, deer skin, or even split cane, above alluded to,
may also be used, and the lacing may be either as our illustration
represents, or in the simpler rectangular woof seen in ordinary
In order to attach the interlacing to the bow the latter should be
wound with wide strips of cane, if it can be procured, or otherwise
with strips of tough skin. The loops thus formed offer a continuous
security, and the whole interior, with the exception of the space
at the front between the cross pieces, should be neatly filled
with the next work. It is well to run the first lines
across the shoe, from side to side, passing through the windings
of the bow. Across them, in the form of the letter X, the two other
cords should be interlaced, after the manner shown in the cut.
This forms a secure and not very complicated network, and is the
style usually adopted by the Indian makers.
There is another mode of attaching the lace-work to the bow which
is also commonly employed, and consists in a series of holes bored
at regular intervals through the wood. The winding is thus dispensed
with, but the bow is sometimes weakened by the operation, and we are
inclined to recommend the former method in preference. In attaching
the shoe, the ball of the foot should be set on the second cross
piece, and there secured by a strip of hide, which should be first
adjusted as seen in the engraving, being afterward tied over the
foot and then behind the ankle. Snow-shoes are made in other ways,
but we believe that the typical Indian snow-shoe above described
is the best.