Do It Yourself Bushcraft: A Book of the Big Outdoors

Do It Yourself Bushcraft: A Book of the Big Outdoors

by Daniel Beard


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Boy Scouts co-founder and avid outdoorsman "Uncle Dan" Beard provides a clear, enthusiastic introduction to the joys of camping, trapping, and outdoor survival. Originally published nearly a century ago, this engagingly written and charmingly illustrated guide provides an atmospheric reminder of a simpler time. Filled with timeless wisdom on conversing with nature, the book also constitutes a source of practical tips, offering advice on fishing, canoeing, and other aspects of outdoor life.
Fishing-related instruction includes information on how to catch minnows, how to make a dip net, fly fishing, bait casting, and much more. Readers can learn how to stalk, to photograph, and even to capture wild animals with their bare hands. They'll also discover how to build a canvas canoe and a dugout canoe, how to make a portage, how to handle a canoe, how to row a boat, and the names of all the parts of boats. This ageless volume will prove a helpful companion to hunters, fishermen, campers, backpackers, Scouts, and anyone who enjoys outdoor recreation and the thrill of bushcraft.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486816197
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 09/13/2017
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Known as "Uncle Dan" to his friends, Daniel Carter Beard (1850–1941) was a famed author, illustrator, and social champion. Inspired by the rugged traditions of the American frontier, Beard founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905. Five years later, he merged the organization with the newly formed Boy Scouts of America.

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Do It Yourself Bushcraft

A Book of the Big Outdoors

By Daniel Beard

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1925 Beatrice Alice Beard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-81619-7



"I jes' set here a-dreamin' —
A-dreamin' every day,
Of the sunshine that's a-gleamin'
On the rivers fur away.

"So I nod an' fall to wishin'
I was where the waters swish,
Fer if the Lord made fishin'
Why — a feller ought ter fish."



When we fished off the board rafts in the Ohio we fished for channel-cats, white bass, buffalo, and occasionally yellow bass.

When we fished off the log rafts in the Licking River we fished for mud-cats and channel-cats and caught many gars for which we were not fishing. When we fished in Bank Lick we fished for "Bank Lick bass," probably the calico or strawberry bass. When we fished in Brookshaws Pond and the other ponds in Covington, Kentucky, we fished for "pizen" cats, in other words bull-pouts.

On rare occasions we fished off the wharf-boat where the ferry landed, just below where the suspension bridge now stands; there we caught splendid strings of jack salmon, known in the East as walleyed pike. Sometimes we caught "new lights," or crappies, a fish that was supposed to have made its appearance in that neighborhood at the same time as the people who called themselves New Lights.

We knew nothing about pickerel, trout or black bass. Some of them may have inhabited some of those waters but I doubt it; we never caught them and we never saw them even though the "little pickerel" are said to be common in the Ohio.

One glorious day my picturesque and distinguished daddy sold some paintings and I suppose that he felt rich; so like the real artist that he was he immediately sought some way of spending that money to delight his family and took us all up to Yellow Springs, Ohio, which was a paradise for any real boy, not the summer hotel where we slept and where Tom and I (sometimes) ate, but the glen with the aquatic plants and aquatic creatures. The Yellow Spring from which the summer resort derived its name boiled up in the centre of a pool and ¦ gilded all the tin cups and dippers with a tincture of iron which had the sheen and color of real gold, but that only possessed momentary interest for us, we wanted to get as far away from the summer boarders and summer hotel as our sturdy legs could carry us and each day saw us tramping along the shores of the streams and pools. Oh! those were glorious days and I hated to go to bed at night for fear I might miss something. I knew that lots of interesting things were happening in the woods at night while I was wasting my time sleeping in bed.

"The gypsy taint was in my blood —
The message cheats me still;
Yet I believe that Paradise
Is just beyond the hill."

— and we found it!

In the morning we were abroad at daylight and as soon as we could get our breakfast we hit the trail to Blue Hole, a delightfully mysterious pool which nestled in the cleft among the rocks below a picturesque old mill with a big water-wheel. Blue Hole of hallowed memories! It used to be a wild, lonely place, a canyon, the bottom filled with deep, dark blue water. As I remember, the rocks on each side were towering high. But, of course, the cliffs may have shrunk since those great days when everything was big but me. Since then I have had many occasions to remark that the big things that I saw when I was a boy have shrunk very much in the washing the years have given them, and some things have even faded and lost color. It is a constant source of surprise to me to find how narrow are the streams which were once so broad, and it is shocking to discover that what were mountains to me then, are only moderate-sized hills now! So this Blue Hole may be now surrounded by comparatively low banks. But, nevertheless, it was once a delightfully dark, deep, shadowy chasm in the towering rocks, and we felt that each cave and hollow must be the lurking place of Indians, bears, wolves, and panthers, or at least their ghosts.

Rumor said that there was no bottom to the pool, and we never doubted the rumor. I choose to believe it now, and I think I would be tempted to thrash the man who would try to shatter my faith and prove to me that Blue Hole really had a bottom to it like any other old pool.

Glory be to Peter! I believe that I can smell the pine, I can see the moss on the rocks dripping with moisture, the luxuriant growth of ferns, the old red fox stealing along the rocks upon the opposite side, and our Man Friday catamaran made of logs moored to the shore, the raft which we rowed and from which we swam and fished!

When I went swimming mother always used to make me promise not to "go over my head," and I religiously obeyed her commands; but somehow or another when we took our fishing-rods and went to Blue Hole she forgot to say anything about it. Tom was with me, and we dived into that deep water and swam around, experiencing a joy and happiness only to be duplicated in Heaven.

Under an overhanging rock, in awesome depths, lurked the biggest rock-bass I have ever caught, but we never took any fish back to the hotel to be spoiled by professional cooks. No sir-ree, bob horse fly — we cooked and ate those red eyes on the shore of the pool, where we learned lessons in the culinary art and fire-building which I have been teaching the boys and their fathers and grandfathers for the last forty-odd years.

Nature bestowed a priceless gift upon small boys, and big fishermen, when she endowed them with a wonderful imagination. Stop a moment and think. Did it ever occur to you that the gulf which separates a boy from a clam is not due so much to the difference in their forms as to the lack of imagination on the part of the clam? A clam never sits at his desk with his schoolbooks before him, dreaming of the trout streams; the parts of speech in the clam's mind never turn into bobbing corks; the lines of the printed book into rippling water. Why? Not because the clam is any better than the boy, but because the boy possesses an imagination and the clam does not. If the fish that got away was the biggest fish in the lake, in the mind of the lad who lost him, for goodness sake why not take his word for it. Tom and I were not clams, we both possessed imagination and we knew that some of the rock-bass we lost were every whit as big as salt-water halibut!

The Rev. Henry Van Dyke, in the writer's presence, said that the moral barometer was always low near a trout stream, meaning that fishermen's stories must not be taken too seriously; Doctor Van Dyke is a celebrated fisherman himself and he knows. Even the great Audubon did not hesitate to allow his imagination mill to grind recklessly when it came to fish stories, and he handed C. S. Rafinesque, Professor of Natural History, Transylvania University, sketches of fabulous fish which no one had ever then seen and no one has seen since. Rafinesque believed Audubon and gave names to these mythical fishes which you will find published in his Ichthyologia Ohiensis.

There was an old fellow at the mill who taught us how to make wire snares with which to catch mud-suckers (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). Tom discovered a big mud-sucker in the bottom of a brook where the stream meandered through the meadow, so I fixed the copper noose on the short line to my pole and carefully slipped the noose over the sucker's head down to his fat waist without disturbing the stupid fish. With nerves tense and all excited I gave a mighty jerk, the noose came up in the air, caught on a branch overhead, but to our amazement it contained no fish. The commotion stirred up the mud in the bottom of the stream, and as soon as it settled we saw the poor old sucker cut as neatly in half as if it had been done with a cleaver by a butcher.

Since those days, when Tom and I had such wonderful times, I have fished from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from away up in the Hudson Bay country down to the toe of Florida. I have caught big brook trout, great Dolly Varden trout, gaudy rainbow and cut throat trout as well as the stupid brown trout and the lively, gamey, small-mouthed black bass — regular sockdologers of over six pounds — and also fish of less lively nature. But somehow or another, although I have enjoyed myself and enjoyed the open, the silence of the wilderness as well as the whispering of the pines, the talking leaves and the noisy roaring of the torrents — yes, somehow or another, to use a homely expression, the cookies never taste like those that grandmother made! I have used the fly, I have used bait, I have used all the different sorts of lures, and when bait-casting came in I took that up too; but the rock-bass, cat-fish, sunfish and mud-suckers caught in my boyhood days, gave me more delight than the biggest fish caught since then.

Once, however, when I was but five or six years old, I did catch a big fish. Waugh! it was only yesterday or the day before when, as a barefooted kid, I was up in the Western Reserve catching painted minnows with a hook made of a bent pin fastened to a line of thread from my mother's work-basket. Then came the day when I was allowed to go to the shores of Lake Erie with my adorable daddy and big brothers, and have a real fishhook and a real line attached to a long bamboo pole. The hook was baited with one of the painted minnows.

At the end of the pier, where the water was deep, my daddy and two brothers were catching bass, but I was not allowed to fish there, where I was in constant danger of falling overboard, so I fished near the shore where the water was shallow.

Presently there was a mighty tug on my line, so strong a pull that there was serious danger of being jerked off the pier. I gave a wild war whoop and ran for the shore — feeling the fierce "joy that the caveman must have felt when he hurled the javelin" — jumping down on the sandy beach I cast aside my bamboo pole and waded into the water, pulling the line in hand over hand. In a minute more a small boy and a five-and-a-half-pound small-mouthed black bass were wrestling "catch-as-catch can" sometimes in the water and sometimes on the dry sand.

The noise of the battle brought daddy and brothers running to my assistance and the fish and line were disentangled from my legs amid many exclamations of admiration and surprise, for that bass was the biggest one caught that day!

Since that time I have had a modest share of triumphs, I have shot big game, caught much larger fish, and won some honors and all that sort of thing, but no triumph in all my life ever excited in my breast the sense of exultation experienced when that five-and-a-half-pound bass was thrown flopping on the sandy beach of Lake Erie!

"O Gee! I wish t'was summertime
So's I could use a fishin ' line,
If this spring fever makes folks ill
Then fishin' fever's worser still."

— A. R. Douglas.

But big bass are not always to be caught by boys, bass waters are not always within the reach of boys. There are, however, many beautiful fish which almost any boy may catch, and these in many places are known as pumpkin-seeds. In Connecticut, for some reason, the boys call them "roach" while down in Dixie they are known as "perch" or chinquapin perch. Sometimes the boys in the New England States and on Long Island simply call them "sunnies."

When my readers catch fish (they being more intelligent than ordinary people and better educated), it is "up to them" to know what kind of fish they are catching. Sunfish make a good pan fish; they are easily caught, besides which, for their size, they are very gamey and some kinds will jump for the artificial fly as readily as a brook trout. Sunfish are preeminently the boys' fish and they may be found in almost any stream or pool inhabited by fish.

In order that the reader may pick out his own sunnies, that is, the kind which inhabits the waters which he fishes, I have made drawings of practically all the sunfish known to me and placed them in one group so that the reader may compare them with each other and note the difference.

How to Know Sunnies

The pumpkin-seed sunfish (Fig. 6) derives its name from its shape. Any boy would probably call it a pumpkin-seed, but the scientific student of fish would call it Lepomis gibbosus, a terrible name for an innocent fish! These fish are plentiful in Wisconsin, and the lake at my camp in Pike County, Pennsylvania is full of them. They are beautiful in color and when taken small make a very good ornamental fish for the aquarium, and are vastly superior in intelligence to the goldfish. Pumpkin-seeds are very plentiful in New York State. Although they inhabit the coastwise streams from Maine to Georgia they are not found in the Mississippi Valley, except in the northernmost part. Therefore, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer never experienced the joy of catching pumpkin-seeds. The pumpkin-seed in the big lakes sometimes reaches the weight of a pound and a half, but usually the fish caught are very much smaller. All the sunfish have a little dab of dark color on the point of their gill cover, as a tribal mark, brand or totem, and from its location it is known as the earmark. The pumpkin-seed has a rainbow-colored body and four stripes running across the gill cover, the two lower ones extending to its pectoral, that is, arms or front fins.

The Blue Sunfish or Copper-Nose (Lepomis Pallidus)

Is usually a larger fish than the pumpkin-seed and a gamier one (Fig. 7). Scientists call this one Lepomis pallidus. In Kentucky it is sometimes called the dollardee; it is also known as the blue green. Yon will find them from the Great Lakes to Florida, and from Florida to Mexico, and you can sometimes catch them weighing as much as two pounds.

The Long-eared Sunfish

The Lepomis auritus (Fig. 8), like everything else, is sometimes carelessly misnamed. But any boy who cannot tell a sunny when he sees it had better keep the pins in the cushion and not try to make hooks of them.

A glance at the illustrations however will convince anyone that there are many different kinds of sunfish. Among the tabbed fishes is the so-called Sacramento perch (Archoplites interruptus), of the Pacific Coast; the war-mouth bass (Chœnobryttus gulosus), found in our Southern States. The two last-named fish will be ranked by the boys with the rock-bass and red eye, but the others, the long-eared sunfish (Fig. 8) from the Susquehanna River; the Chinquapin sunfish (Fig. 9) (Lepomis punctatus) from Florida; the blue copper-nose (Fig. 7) (Lepomis pallidus) from the Tennessee River; the black-banded sunfish (Fig. 10) (Mesagonistius chaetodon) from New Jersey; the rainbow sunfish (Fig. 12) (Centrarchus macropterus) from North Carolina ; the broad-eared sunfish (Fig. 11) (Lepomis obscurus) from the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers and the pumpkin-seed sunfish (Fig. 6) (Lepomis gibbosus) from the Northern States will unhesitatingly be dubbed as sunnies. Whether this agrees with the scientific classifications of the high-brows or not will not trouble the boy fisherman, for a sunny is a sunny and every fellow knows it.

There are a lot of small sunfish in the Mississippi Valley that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer may have caught, and they may have called them "bream" or "perch." But the only perch with which the writer is familiar in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valley is the white perch.

Remember all those sunfish are branded with the dark-colored ear-tab and they also may be known by their brilliant colors and pumpkin-seed form. But they have some cousins which are great favorites with the boy fisherman too. Among these is the red eye or rock-bass (Fig. 13) dear to the hearts of boys, and the prettily marked and spotted calico or strawberry bass (Fig. 14).

Bass Distinction

The Calico Bass (Pomoxys spaeoides)

Also called strawberry bass, is silver green, with dark spots unevenly distributed; mouth very small, general outline like that of sunfish, olive-colored fins (Fig. 14). This bass is sometimes known as the bitter-head and lamp lighter and Bank Lick bass. I have never tasted the head, so cannot tell whence it derived the name of bitter; we never caught it in the act of lighting lamps and we do not know why it is called the lamp lighter. I often fished in Bank Lick, but unless my memory fails me the fish I caught we called rock-bass which was probably a wrong name for them.

The Rock-Bass (Ambloplites ruprestris)

Has an olive green back, sides coppery-colored and scales with a black spot on them. The rock-bass or red eye (Fig. 13) is a bully fish.

Now if you look at Figure 14 you will see that it is marked very differently from Figures 13 and 15, also that the fins on Figure 13 are a different shape from those on Figures 14 and 15; again, if you will look at the outline of their heads (Figs. 16 and 17) you will note that they have a different profile. Figure 18 shows the profile of the three fish drawn together.


Excerpted from Do It Yourself Bushcraft by Daniel Beard. Copyright © 1925 Beatrice Alice Beard. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

I. Fishing
II. Black Bass, Pike Family
III. How to make your own minnow net, how to catch minnows, how to make a dip net, how to pitch a sourdough tent, a trout that knew his name
IV. Fly Fishing
V. Bait casting, how to fasten hooks to line and snell, sliding cork, use of safety pins, safety corks for gang hooks, how to keep bait alive
VI. Jonathan Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), our first forester, Arbor Day forestry for young
VII. How to stalk, to photograph, or even to capture wild animals with your naked hands
VIII. A collecting hike
IX. How to build a canvas canoe and a dugout canoe
X. How to make a portage, how to handle a canoe, how to row a boat, names of the parts of boats

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