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How to Hunt a Moose, a Goose and a Caribou in New Brunswick in 1791

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How to Hunt a Moose, a Goose and a Caribou in New Brunswick in 1791

A Scotsman named Patrick Campbell toured New Brunswick in 1791, and subsequently wrote a book entitled Travels in the Interior Inhabited Parts of North America in 1791 and 1792. The following descriptions of how to hunt a moose, a goose and a caribou are from that book. It is apparent that he gathered some of the stories from others.

Patrick Campbell

Patrick Campbell in his travelling clothes

The author of these hunting stories, from his book

How to Hunt a Moose:

“The manner of hunting the Moose Deer in the rutting season, is as follows: The Moose at night is fond of feeding on a sort of grass that grows at the bottom or sides of ponds or lakes.”

“The sportsman ranges from pond to pond, and lake to lake, until he find by their track that which the Moose frequents; he then places himself in a proper situation on the side of that pond or lake. He is provided with a slip of birch bark, about a span broad, which he rolls up in the form of a funnel; and when the proper time of night comes, putting the small end of it to his mouth, he blows through it, and gives the call peculiar to this animal; if the Moose is within hearing, he answers the call, and comes milling through the wood with such rapidity and noise, that he is heard at a considerable distance; all the young saplings, branches, or bushes giving way to his great strength in his career. If he is any way doubtful, he stops and listens; the sportsman then calls and calls again, through his birch funnel; and if the Moose Bull does not know the sound, though within gun shot, he comes no farther. The huntsman finding this, has recourse to another deception with the same instrument. He blows in the water, and makes it bubble up; so as to resemble the water bubbling by the breath of an animal feeding in it; then putting his finger in the small end of the funnel, he dips it into the water and raises the full of it; then removing his finger, he pours it back again in a small stream; thus making a noise as if a Cow Moose was pissing. When the Bull hears this, he runs with such fury and force that the sportsman, for fear of being trodden down, is often obliged to step to a side, till he dash into the water, where he becomes more visible by its reflection, and having now full sight and time to take his aim, he fires and kills him on the spot.”

“In winter they hunt them with dogs, when the crust of the snow is so hard as to hold up the dogs, while the weight of the Moose sinks him to the bottom. When closely pursued, and no possibility of escaping, he runs about in a circle until he beat down the snow and make a path, within which he keeps to beat off the dogs, and often kills some of those that happen to come within this circle and his reach. His horns are of an enormous length and thickness at the root. I have seen one horn of a Moose Deer, which I am convinced would weigh from sixteen to twenty pounds.”

How to Hunt a Goose:

“Mr. le Dernier the sheriff, who is as indefatigable and expert a sportsman as can be met with in any country, told me, that he himself annually lays up for winter store, two tierces of Brant and Wild Geese, as many of Salmon, and as many of Herring, besides other fish, Moose, Keraboo, and other venison. The latter need not be salted, as they are killed in winter, and the frost preserves them; but the Brant, which is like a lump of butter for fat, and the Geese, are shot in September and October, and therefore require to be pickled to preserve them. When plucked they are split on the back, and barrelled up, and when they have occasion to use them, they are steeped in water for a night or two, to thaw and carry off the salt, when they become fresh, sweet, and as fit to be roasted or stewed as the day they were caught.”

“As the method of shooting the Wild Geese, Brants, and other sea fowl in this place, is somewhat curious and uncommon, it will not perhaps be amiss to give some account of it, which is as follows:”

“On any point of land between two creeks, bays, or (which is best,) between two rivers, the sportsman slips off a tree, a twig, or small branch, the small end of which he fixes in the sand, quite close to the water edge, to the height of the bird he means to represent; near to it he fixes two or three other sticks to the height of the body; round these sticks he wraps some sea weed, so as to resemble as much as possible the wings and tail of the bird; and the upper end of the stick, the neck and head, I mean that which formerly adhered to the tree; so that to view it at a distance it will very much resemble a bird. He sometimes makes two or three of these decoys close to each other, which being seen by the birds at a distance, as they fly along, entice them to come on, and take a sweep around, supposing them to be some of their fellows. At a proper distance he makes a pit in the sand, and around it places some shrubbery or small bunches of the crops of trees, to cover himself when he sits, that he may not be seen by them. This is always done on the windward side of the point, which, for the most part, sea fowls are fondest of frequenting. A flock of them in passing by, suppose these objects to be real birds, and come close up to them; on which the sportsman fires, and if he happens to kill one or two, he places them in the water, with a sharp pointed stick, one end of which is fixed in the sand, the other under the chops of the bird, which holds up his head as if alive, and the motion of the surge keeps him heaving up and down, and from side to side; so that now it is next to impossible to discover the deception.”

“The next flight that comes, alight close by this one, on which he readily fires sitting; and every one he kills, he places close by the other, in the same manner with the first. This he continues to do, till in a few hours he may have the full loading of his canoe, or as many as he chooses to carry home. The birds are so numerous in these bays, and flocks of them so frequently passing from one point to another, that scarcely would there be an end to this diversion, at which, indeed, the Indians are most expert.”

How to Hunt a Caribou:

“The Keraboo is another kind of Deer, much of the same colour with that of the Moose, but not near the size, I have seen many of their skins, which, are of a very dark gray; but none of them alive. Their antlers or horns are somewhat similar to those of the red Deer. They inhabit the coldest countries; are numerous in Newfoundland, the extensive country of Labrador, lower parts of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, but never farther south. They eat no grass, but live on the poorest and most barren mosses. So that, by every information I have had, I consider them to be the Rein Deer of this country, but not domesticated as those of Lapland and Russia are.

They have a particular way of walking on the snow, by which they sink no deeper than stout Dogs, owing, as I have been told, to the form of their hoofs, and to their manner of placing them when they run or walk in deep snow. I have seen their tracks, which are as large as a Bull’s.”

“The huntsmen therefore stalk them, much in the same way as they do Red Deer in Scotland; with this difference only, that the Keraboo are fond of extensive plains clear of wood, and herd together in droves. When the sportsman finds them in a plain of this kind, he cuts a bunch of branches of young trees, which he carries before him to hide him from their sight, and goes on so slowly that his motion is not perceived by them; and when he comes within shot he fixes it in the ground, and lays himself flat behind it from this place he fires, and as he is covered by the bush, they do not see what occasions the report. If he either misses or kills dead, they are not disturbed. He may therefore charge and fire again, while he continues to kill or miss, as already said; so that it is not unfrequent to fire half a dozen of shots in this way. But if he only wounds, and one of them whistles, which is the sign of alarm, they set off in a gang; and ten to one if he sees them more that day.”


Written by johnwood1946

February 24, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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