SUGGESTIONS FOR SPORTSMEN (Alaska Historic Information)
Outfitting. The hunter going to Alaska will simplify his preparations and reduce his traveling expenses and perplexities to the minimum by waiting to purchase his outfit until he shall have arrived at the. particular section in which he intends to hunt. Of course, he will take along his favorite rods and the right guns and ammunition for the various game, big and little, and have them with him, and he should take light wading boots, and in summer have rubber packs for side-trips,—these latter to be purchased in Alaska.
It must be kept in mind that Alaska has five different climatic divisions, varying from the frigid zone on the north to the temperate region on the south; from a cold dry climate in the interior, to a very wet and moderate climate on the south coast, where the thermometer rarely registers zero. 1 In these several divisions the conditions vary, and the selection of wearing apparel, putting up an outfit, and the transportation must have special consideration for each particular region. Complete outfits are to be had at the following named places: Anchorage, Atlin, Northern British Columbia, Bethel, Chitina, Circle, Cordova, Dawson (Yukon), Eagle, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Iditarod, Juneau, Ketchikan, McGrath, Nenana, Nome, St. Michael, Selkirk, Seward, Skagway, Tanana, Valdez, Whitehorse (Yukon), and Wrangell.
The advantages derived from buying the equipment as suggested above are several. The outfitters at these places know, from long experience, the requirements, and have in stock the things most suitable in clothing, food, and other equipment. They know how much and how little of each item; they know how to put up an outfit in proper sequence for use en route and convenience in transportation; they will pack and label the principal things for each day's use and consumption in small quantities and so selected that the container may be dispensed with; and they will put, in a separate and distinctly labeled package, the things that are not to be used during the trips from camp to camp. Taking into consideration the avoidance of over" burdening with useless stuff, and the relief from anxiety and delay when buying in the States and shipping into Alaska, the prices charged are very reasonable. One of the greatest benefits accruing from buying from the local merchant is in securing his interest and good will. He becomes a friend and adviser; he wishes his patrons to be satisfied and successful; he desires them to come into the Territory again, and bring their friends. Taking your outfit with you into his town and ignoring him, well, he's just an every day merchant.
Transportation Facilities The River Boat, the Railroad and the Dog Team
Hunters in Alaska must use guns specially adapted to the game sought. For the little coast deer on the islands and along the coast of Southeastern Alaska small caliber such as 25-35, 32-40, 25-20, 30-30, are plenty large enough and do not destroy the meat. Hunting large game, caribou, moose, etc., use a gun much heavier, of high velocity, and great striking power, such as 7 MM.-8 MM-30-40, or one using the 1906 government ammunition. The last named is the favorite among the "sour-doughs," using the needle-point soft-nose and lever action of the carbine size. Those intending to hunt north of 620 or in any place where the temperature will be 250 below or lower, the gun should be taken apart (screw spring and all), every particle of gun grease removed, and every piece wiped thoroughly dry. Then moisten the fingers with three-in-one or nitrosolvent oil, pass the pieces through the fingers, making sure that the oil is applied to every part lightly so that it rests in the pores of the steel.
Never take a gun into the tent or cabin, except to leave it there long enough to become warm, when all of the sweat should be wiped off. Guns left in the cold — never taken in — will remain in good working order. When they are finally put away, clean thoroughly and then incase heavily with gun grease.
In Southeastern Alaska, on account of the intense moisture and salt water, guns must at all times be in heavy gun grease. In this region they should be kept indoors, well wiped, and greased, and the grease removed from the inside of the barrel before using.
Never have a load in the barrel of a packed gun. There is no reason or excuse for so doing. It may be caught in overhead brush, or when used to rest on as a staff; both of which a gun on these trips is used for. Have the butt of the gun always concave, so that the points will dig and hold in case of slipping. With very little practice a shell can be thrown into the barrel while the gun is coming to the shoulder — loaded and cocked in one action. Always have the magazine loaded.
Care of ammunition. Ammunition left out in very cold weather should stand at least twenty-four hours near a stove to dry out before using. Steel taken from cold outdoors into a warm atmosphere will sweat. Smokeless powder when damp loses largely its explosive power, and bullets, propelled by such, fall almost anywhere after leaving the muzzle of the gun. Such a condition occurs when shells are left in the cold.
Clothing. Persons going into Alaska in summer (June until September) should wear the same clothes they wear in the States, taking along such wraps as when making a trip to Europe or along the coast of the United States. In winter when traveling along the southern coast take along the same apparel as worn in the northern states. Overcoats are worn by those in transit on the coast and by the people in the towns and cities, but never by the overland traveler who walks. Be sure of protection against wet weather on the coast.
Sun at Mid-day December Twenty-Second
When traveling on extended trips across country have three two-piece suits of medium-weight underwear, and three heavy woolen shirts, or those similar to soldiers' heaviest shirts; two suits of knee trousers, spiral leggings, and hunting coats made of forestry cloth. These are best for summer and winter, and are worn by both men and women. The trousers made of brown duck cravenetted can be had at every place in Alaska.
Socks in winter should be of heavy wool and reach to the calf of the leg and there should be a very liberal supply. Mushing is hard on socks. Sometimes two pairs are worn at the same time; laundering is irregular.
Leather shoes are not worn in the winter in the interior— that is, away from the south coast — except in the towns where people are mostly indoors. The oil in leather absorbs the cold. Moccasins are the foot-wear where the country is cold enoughto prevent wet snow, or where the snow will not melt on them from the heat of the body. Moccasins, lacking the oil, are porous and wearers must avoid "overflows." In cold weather one who is wearing moccasins and steps into water must get a fire at once and change. Therefore in traveling with dog-team it is imperative to have a good supply of woolen socks and an extra pair of moccasins, with insoles one-half inch thick. The insoles serve not only as cushions but also protect the feet from the cold ground. Have this foot-wear always on the load for ready use.
For the hands use the native mittens to be had in the interior of Alaska, and have at least two pairs. They are made of moose-hide, trimmed at the top with fur reaching to the elbow, and lined with blanket. The proper thing is to have the mittens connected with cord long enough to go around the neck and allow the wearer to drop them at pleasure.
Wear woolen mittens inside of the native mittens. Always keep wrists warm; be sure and carry on your person an extra pair of these woolen mittens to use immediately in case of perspiration.
Never allow yourself to perspire,— always be on guard against it. In extreme cold weather it is taking a great chance of freezing to death. In a few words, properly dressing in the "North" means putting on just as little as one can get along with, always having plenty to put on to prevent suffering. Persons traveling must regulate their gait so as to warm up if feeling chilly, without adding more clothes. A good woolen sweater is a part of the outfit and should never be omitted.
The head-gear consists of ordinary woolen cap with flaps lined with fur that can be held up or let down over the ears and neck.
Mucklucks are water-boots made by the Eskimos of sealskin top and walrus hide bottoms. A pair of these properly oiled should be in the outfit for wear in overflows.
Leather shoes cannot be used with snowshoes; nothing but moccasins or mucklucks will answer. Snowshoes should be purchased wherever it is intended to travel through and snow-shoes are necessary. Snowshoes made for wet snow will not answer in dry snow. The managing of snowshoes is very simple. There should be a pair of what are known as trailers for use on light broken trails.
Glacier ice is smooth and hummocky. When traveling where it is forming, ice creepers are in order.
When traveling via dog-sled in winter, the "bed" consists of a robe, at least one double blanket and a tarpaulin, the last named to roll the bed in, as protection from the ground or snow, and as a wind shield. This should be 15 by 8 feet of 8- or 10-ounce canvas. Making the bed: One half of the tarpaulin goes under and the other half covers the top. On hunting trips, traveling with tents, these beds are equally as desirable as if without shelter.
As if to make up for not having poisonous reptiles in Alaska, mosquitoes are plus in the summer time, but are not known to convey disease germs of any kind; malaria is unknown in Alaska. Therefore there is the mosquito tent, in which two men can lodge and close up with absolute protection against rain and mosquitoes. It has holes for windows covered with bobbinet, a canvas floor, and a drawstring door.' It can betied up between two trees in a moment's time. The bed is left inside this tent and they are rolled up together. This tent weighs about ten pounds. Two head nets are necessary when traveling in the interior, the second in reserve. The proper kind have bibs, front and back, that tie with strings under the arms. Be sure and have plenty of canvas gloves with long gauntlets for protection against mosquitoes.
Top: Mountain Goats Bottom: Salmon Ascendine Creek Near Ketchikan, Alaska
Roadhouses. These are the stopping places for travelers along the winter and summer trails, built at a day's walk apart—as are the old Franciscan Missions from Sonoma to San Diego in California. On some of the more important trails they are located at shorter distances. The furniture of these places is home made, unique and comfortable, restful and inviting to the travelers of the trail. Many of the roadhouses have bath tubs. The name has no such meaning as the suburban houses in the States; they are the "hotels" of the region.
The buildings are of logs and chinked with moss; the roofs covered with moss and dirt, and are warm in all weather.
Upon arriving travelers are cordially received, assisted in removing wraps, and hanging footgear and mittens on the drying rack; furnished with slippers and beds assigned for rest until meal time. The latest newspapers, magazines, victrolas and assorted records are part of the house equipment. The spirit of the frontier pervades; the roadhouse manager's greetings are as for friends rather than temporary guests. Most all houses have gardens attached in which vegetables are raised. There are always rooms set aside for women, and there is not to be found elsewhere greater deference and courtesy to women than at these Alaskan roadhouses.
The food includes wild meats—caribou, sheep, moose, white-fish, trout, grayling, and pike—depending on the locality—and, as the North is a great bird country—grouse, partridge, prairie hen, spruce hen, ptarmigan, etc. Vegetables are served even in the most remote places.
Charges range from $1.00 to $2.00 per meal and from 50 cents to $1.00 for bed. The service, generally, with travelers is breakfast and dinner upon arrival at the end of day's journey. On the main trails, such as the Chitina-Fairbanks and the trails from Fairbanks to Nome, relief U. S. telegraph stations are located at intervals. Roadhouses at or near these stations receive daily bulletins of all the big events in the world.
Travelers by trails will find the woods well cut and blazed and where they cross open country, tripods or other markers show the way. Some roadhouses have beacon lights on tall poles that can be seen for several miles.
Top: Ketchikan, Alaska Bottom: Portion of Ketchikan Trolling Fleet