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Articles / Frozen Beaver Camp -2015

Published: 2015-05-05
Category: Camps, Treks & Adventures

By Michael Nilsson

'Twas in the spring of -15, we camped on Pine Ridge Creek.
Scoutin' and trappin' with maple walnut restin' on our cheek
.
-Mike, Pine Ridge Creek, 2015.

Friday. April 30th, 2015. Noon. Partly cloudy, 4 degrees celsius, cool breeze from north-east. The Frozen Beaver Party, consisting of 4 stout individuals, headed out for adventure. Sporting mantees and bedrolls, we steered due east over the ridge to the campsite at Pine Ridge Creek. With the intention of this trek being "highly educational and hands-on", we set up a working camp for the trapping of beaver*.

With the campsite in order and firewood cut, we scouted for the perfect place to simulate the setting of traps.

Taking turns on wading, driving stakes and creating pen sets was the main event. Check for beaver trail. Set trap in 4"-6" of water. Set stake in deep water. Place scent stick next to submerged trap. Create a fence of dry sticks on both sides. We were at it until it got too cold. In retrospect, we should've had a fire going just to rid us from the worst shivering. The main camp was quite a long way away..

We slowly headed back to warm and dry up, discussing what could be changed. We all agreed on the breeches and leggings being a perfect system.

For dinner we had boiled duck and rice. We had duck grease all over. Guess the tin cup, spoons, knives, breeches, blankets, tarps won't ever rust..

It had been a tiresome day with travelling and all, so we turned in early, and couldn't wait for the beaver session planned for the next day! Good night y'all! By the way.. where's the rum bottle? Gvido?

Saturday. May 1st, 2015. Morning. Overcast and rain. 3 degrees celsius. Calm. Woke up thinking: "What the f*ck WAS that? Jens had snuck up, loaded his gun and saluted the morning while screaming "BLACKFEET"! At least half an hour too early! Slept like crap I did.. Usually the first night is crap. Well, it could've been the anticipation of what the day had in store..

While breakfast was being prepared, Char and I decided to put up a lean-to due to the rain. The forecast had it clearing up by noon. It started to rain during the wee hours. Tarps are a must. Not only do they keep moist from coming in, they also keep the bodyheat from getting out. A function most welcome during cold nights.

The day was more or less spent waiting for it to clear up enough, so we could tend to the beavers. We found some fungus and had a college transforming it into tinder.

Finally the rain subsided, and we got some serious skinning and fleshing done. Took most of the afternoon. Tedious, since it was the first time having a whole beaver for myself.
Looking up to my left, were Char and Gvido making deep guttural noises of content, as they where digging in on beaver number two.

Wonder if the geezers in the old days, spent this much time on skinning one leg? The fleshing was even more tedious. You need to pay close attention and stay focused.. otherwise you'll cut through the hide! Which, by the way, happened about seven times. Well, I'm a pilgrim.. what'd you expect?

We took a much needed break munching in on beaver backstrap, which was fried in bacon grease with salt and pepper.. Life is at times more than great!
After that uplifting moment, it was back to the beaver remains. I completed the work by carefully removing the castoreum glands.. Waugh!

After dinner, which consisted of roasted venison, and the remainder of the duck stew from the day before, Jens called for some shooting. We had some beaver carcasses to destroy. Two lead balls each, seemed a good enough ending to the activities this day. However, one lead ball is ALL I need, 'cause I tell ya, by God, and this is true! From a thousand yards I shot her, I ran her through!

We buried the poor bastards, and headed back to camp for some good conversation. We tested the tinder previously made, but it turned out it needed some prior charring. Better luck next time! There was barely enough daylight left for the last fixin's. We were in for a cold night!

Laying there, tucked in tightly in my whitney point and tarp, I took a last glance at the painted sketch of two hooped beaver hides. Adding to the equation that my hands were sore, could only lead to the fact that this was actually true.

Sunday. May 2nd, 2015. Bright and early. Clear skies. -1 degrees celsius. Calm. Woke up early to the sound of a newly lit fire. It was a cold night. Jens was once more the early bird, and we started preparing breakfast. The menu consisted of watered down coffee, biscuits and bacon. We made the decision to break up camp early, since at least I had a considerable amount of miles to cover.

Backtracking up the ridge had us gasping for air.. But with our minds set, we managed to reach the wonderful and most rejuvenating cold spring. After a quick rest we were off and arriving at Chars house some 15 minutes later.

Everything from there on is a blur. I gradually gathered my senses together in a car reaking of smoke and beaver.. realizing that it was heading north, and home.

Thanks guys for making this trek exceptional!

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"With my belly full of beaver and roasted venison,
I cleansed my spirit with a smoking Northwest Trade Gun.

Having witnessed heaven, the glory, and then some,
I commenced to soak my soul in maple sugar and rum.

Even though my body and limbs are both sore and numb,
We'll meet again, my friends of buckskin and castoreum.."

-Mike, Pine Ridge Creek, 2015.

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Informative text
Beaver Hunting by Shawn Webster. Book of Buckskinning Vol. VIII.

Disclaimer
The topic for this weekend was focused on practicing the skills of handling and setting the old steel traps in a real life situation. Since the trapping of beaver with a five pound, 1830's double-spring steel-trap is prohibited in Sweden, we had purchased two frozen beavers for the occasion. They were skinned, fleshed and the hides laced to a willow hoop. No traps were left unattended. No traps were armed and loaded other than specified. No illegal hunting was thus performed and no live animals were harmed during the process.

*For those not initiated, the word "beaver" refers to the semi-aquatic rodent that builds dams and lodges. It does not refer to the female genitalia. Confusion is apparent upon uttering sentences like "nice beaver" or "going hunting for beaver". The sentences are due to their duality very humorous, and a basis for many comments on lonely nights, a long long way from home.
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