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Canoes, Beaver, Hats, and Other Fun

It has been a fun and busy last couple weeks.  I have, in the makes, a blog posting that will be a part II to the Leather Trousers blog; but until a few more museum images come through… I have a lot more to blog about.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned the rough state of my bark canoe. This past week, I reinforced the cracked gunwales and replaced ALL of the thwarts. It is now ready to go into storage for the winter and will be ready (short of some re-pitching) for ice-out next spring.

Speaking of ice and water… the water is getting COLD. I have started my first trapline this year and have had some decent luck, catching raccoons, opossum, and skunk. I have been wanting to trap some beaver, but did not think I had any good spots to beaver trap. The other day, I noticed that a bunch of trees were down in the marsh across the road from the house (family land) and it was in fact beaver. Excited about this and with beaver trapping season just opening, I set a few snares in runs. This morning, wading in the water with bare skin (yes, I am too cheap to buy waders) I was happy to find my first ever beaver caught in one of my snares. By the way, did I mention the water is getting cold… breaking ice with bare feet and skin… BBBRRRRR!

Among a lot of the beaver chewed wood I picked up and brought home this chewed piece of alder…  I am excited to use it to make a scent/lure bottle like this one from the museum of the fur trade in Chadron, NE…

Meanwhile, I have been making more moccasins, working on a capot for myself (FINALLY) and making 2 capots for others. I also finally decorated up my top hat like the images we see of guides and interpretors by Peter Rindisbacher and other artists of the early 19th century. I have been wanting to decorate up the hat for awhile, and seeing Jeremy Kingsbury (a friend and former coworker at Grand Portage National Monument) rocking his decorated top hat, I had to do it. I added two bands of silver metallic lace and a strip of gold silk ribbon. I then added some ostrich plumes to one side and a handful of tail feathers from a rooster I butchered on the other. Ostrich and cocks’ feathers both show up in trade lists and on hats in images from the period.

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