site logo

The Trapper's Shelter


The life of the professional trapper is a life of hardship and

severe exposure, and a man not only requires considerable courage,

but also great bodily vigor, in order to combat successfully the

dangers of such a wild, adventuresome existence.

The cold and the storm not only imperil his life, but he is often

exposed to the attacks of wild beasts. A shelter, therefore, in one

form or another, becomes a nec
ssity while it is always a decided

comfort, in comparison to a campaign without it.

The reader will find below descriptions of the various shelters

alluded to in other parts of this work, and used by trappers throughout

the land.

The most substantial of these is the log shanty, commonly known among

trappers as the home shanty, on account of its being constructed

as the only permanent shelter on the trapping line.

It is used as a home, a place of rendezvous, and a storehouse

for provisions, furs, and other necessities and valuables. Other

temporary shelters, known as bark shanties, are also constructed

along the trapping lines at intervals of five or ten miles, as

resting places. These we describe under the proper title.

Although, to the amateur trapper, the log shanty is not likely

to become a necessity, we will nevertheless describe its mode of

construction, in order to satisfy our more earnest and adventurous

readers, who aspire to a full taste of wild life.

Our illustration gives a very clear idea of such a shanty.

It may be constructed of any size, but one of about twelve by ten

feet will be found large enough for ordinary purposes. Select straight

logs, about eight inches in diameter. The whole number required

will be thirty-six. Of these one-half should be twelve feet in

length and the other ten. These should now be built up in the square

form, on a level piece of ground, laying the ends of the logs over

each other, and securing them by notches at the corners, so deep as

to allow the edges of the logs to meet. Lay two short logs first,

and continue building until all the thirty-six logs are used, and

we will now have four symmetrical sides about six feet in height.

The place for the door should now be selected. The uppermost log

should form its upper outline, and the two sides should be cleanly

and straightly cut with a crosscut saw. The window openings, one or

more, may next be cut, commencing beneath the second log from the

top, and taking in three beneath it. Replace the logs above, and

on the ends of those thus cut, both in windows and doors, proceed

to spike a heavy plank, driving two nails into each log, about

five inches apart, one above the other. This will hold them firmly

in place, and offer a close-fitting jam for the door, and neat

receptacle for the window sashes, which latter may now be put in

after the ordinary manner.

The gable ends should next be built upon the smaller sides of the

hut. Commence by laying a long log (notched as before) across the

top of the frame work, and about two feet inside the edge. This

should of course be done on both sides of the hut, after which

they should be overlapped at the corners with logs eight feet in

length. Next lay two more long logs, parallel with the first two,

and about a foot inside them, notching as before. The ends of these

should be spanned with beams eight feet in length. Two more long

logs are next in order--let them be one foot inside the last two.

Overlap these with beams five feet and a half in length, and in

the exact centre of these last pieces chop notches for a heavy

log for a ridge pole. The gable outline, direct from the ridge

pole to the eaves, should now be cut off by the aid of a sharp

axe. This may be done either while the pieces are in position, or

the line may be marked with a piece of chalk, and the logs taken

down in order to accomplish it. The roof is now required. This

should consist either of strips of bark or the rounded sides of

logs split off and hollowed into troughs. The latter method is

preferable, on account of its greater strength and durability,

but the bark will answer the purpose very well, and is much more

easily obtained. The manner of adjusting the roof pieces is clearly

shown in our illustration. The first row is laid on with the hollow

side up, securing them at top and bottom by nails driven through each

into the ridge pole and eaves-log, care being taken that one of these

pieces projects well over the gable, on both ends of the hut. These

pieces are now overlapped by the second row, and with the addition

of the large piece which covers them all at the ridge pole, the

roof is complete, and will stand a heavy rain with little or no

leaking. The crevices should now be stopped with moss, dried grass

or clay, after which the log cabin is complete. When the bark roof

is made, additional poles may be inserted beneath as props. They

should be three or four inches in diameter, and run parallel with

the ridge pole, at intervals on the slope, notches being cut to

secure them.

Our engraving represents a chimney, which may be constructed if

desired, but the necessity of this may be done away with by using

a small camp stove, and making a small opening in the gable end

of the hut for the passage of the pipe. If it stove should not

be at hand, and our amateur should decide to rough it to the

full extent, he may build his fire-place and chimney as follows:

It will be necessary to cut away an opening in the logs at the

gable end, as was done for the door and windows. This should be

about three feet square, and the fire place should be built of

stone and clay, or cement, to fill the opening, and project inside

the hut.

The chimney may then be built up outside in the same manner,

sufficiently high to overtop the gables.

Inside the hut overhead will be found abundant room for the hanging

of the skins, and any number of cross-poles may be rested across

the beams. There are facilities for the swinging of a hammock,

if desired, and, in fact, a hut constructed like the foregoing

is a perfect one in its way. There are other methods of building

a log cabin, but we will content ourselves with what we consider

the best way of all, and pass on to the