It was early in September when the four of us – Clarke, Jamieson, Thompson, and myself - landed at Bathust, on Chaleur Bay, and took the little railroad which runs twenty miles up the Nepisiquit River to some iron-mines. From that point we expected to pole up the river about forty miles farther and then begin our hunting.
For the four hunters – “sports” was what the called us – there were six guides. Three of them bore the name Venneau; there were Bill Grey and his son Willie, and the sixth was Wirre (pronounced Warry) Chamberlain. Among themselves the guides spoke French – or a corruption of French – which was hard to understand and which has come down from generation to generation without ever getting into written form. A fine –looking six they were, straight, with the Indian showing in their faces.
At the end of the third day of poling – a lazy time for the “sports”, but three days of marvelously skilful work for the guides – our heavily laden canoes were brought up to the start of main camp. From here we excepted to start our hunting expeditions, each taking a guide, blankets, and food, and striking off for the more isolated cabins in the woods. My purpose was to collect specimens for the National Museum at Washington. I wanted Moose, caribou and beaver – a male and female of each species. Whole skins and leg bones were to be brought out.
A hard rain woke us, and the prospects were far from cheerful as we packed and prepared to separate. Bill Grey was to be my guide, and the “Popple Cabin,’ three miles away, was to be our shelter. Our tramp through the wet woods-pine, hemlock, birch, and poplar-ended at the little double lean-to shelter. After we had started a fire and spread our blankets to dry we set off in search of game.
We climbed out of the valley in which we were camped and up to the top of a hill from which we could get a good view of some small barren stretches that lay around us. It was the blueberry season, and these barrens were covered with bushes, all heavily laden. We moved around from hill to hill in search of game, but saw only three deer. We’d have shot one of them for meat, but didn’t care to run the chance of frightening away any Moose or Caribou. The last hill we climbed over-looked a small pond which lay beside a pine forest on the edge of a barren strip. Bill intended to spend a good part of each day watching this pond, and it was to a small hill over-looking it that we made our way early next morning.
Before we had been watching many minutes a cow moose with a calf appeared at the edge of the woods. She hesitated for several minutes, listening intently and watching sharply, and then stepped out across the barren on her way to the pond. Before she had gone far, the path she was following cut the trail we had made on our way to the lookout hill. She stopped immediately and began to sniff at our tracks, the calf following her example; a few seconds were enough to convince her, but for some reason, perhaps to make doubly sure, she turned and for some minutes followed along our trail with her nose close to the ground. Then she swung around and struck off into the woods at a great slashing moose trot.
Not long after she had disappeared, we got a fleeting glimpse of two caribou cows; they lacked the impressive ungainliness of the moose, and in the distance might easily have been mistaken for deer.
It was a very cold morning, and throughout the day it snowed and sleeted at intervals. We spent the time wandering from hill to hill..
For the next week we hunted industriously in every direction form the Popple Cabin. In the morning and the evening we shifted from hill to hill; the middle of the day we hunted along numerous brooks that furrowed the country. With the exception of one or two days, the weather was uniformly cold, for then, at least, we had no black flies to fight. On the two sunny days they surrounded us in swarms and made life almost unbearable; they got into our blankets and kept us from sleeping during the nights; they covered us with lumps and sores-Bill said that he had never seen them as bad.
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