By JAMES CRANE
IF seems to be human nature to pursue that elusive something, which, for lack of a better name, I shall call rainbows. The trapper is ever searching for the perfect trapping ground, where fur-bearers abound in great numbers. The hunter who is lost never takes his back trail, always pressing on, in search of the trail that leads to his camp; when luck turns against the gambler he still continues to play, always sure that the next deal will be in his favor. And so it goes in all walks of life. Everybody is waiting for the golden moment when Dame Fortune will smile on them, and unlock .the doors of opportunity and good luck.
This peculiar trait of human nature was aptly illustrated to me recently, when an article of mine, on gathering spruce gum, appeared in the H-T-T. Shortly after the article appeared in print, I began to receive letters from all Parts of the country, from people who wanted to learn more about this new business. From the tone of some of these letters I was led to believe that my article had given some a wrong impression about the financial side of gum gathering. Apparently, most of the inquirers believed that the gum business would be 'more profitable than their present occupation; some of them were men who had good jobs; one of them being a superintendent in a large manufacturing concern.
There are some men who make big money gathering spruce gum, but they are the exception, and not the general rule; and they are men who have been in the business for years; and have been fortunate enough to locate a good territory.
Gumming is like trapping—it all depends on locating in a good territory. And, like trapping, it is next to impossible to find territory that has not been visited by someone in the same game.
It would be the height of folly for a man to leave a good job and start on a gumming trip, with the intention of bettering himself financially, and even if he was sure of doing this there are other things to be considered, for the gummer, like the trapper, must have an unlimited knowledge of woodcraft to enable him to cruise the wilderness without danger of losing his way.
Another wrong idea that many seem to have in regard to gum gathering, is that there is no work mixed up with it. Here is my day's program and I will leave it to the reader to judge whether it is a snap or not: Five a. m., turn out, eat breakfast, gather up my gumming tools and start for my grounds, which are five miles away, owing to "No Camping" signs. I am forced to camp this distance from my territory. After reaching my destination I begin work; and it is work, for I am working up the side of a steep mountain which, in many places, is covered with a dense growth of underbrush, making it almost impossible to force one's way through it. By noon I am ready to eat. After lunch and a brief rest, I resume work until 4 p. m., then I begin the homeward march, and by the time I get to camp old Sol has gone to rest. After starting my campfire, I prepare, and eat, my supper. Then, after a short rest, I begin my evening's work of assorting my day's pick of gum. This occupies my time until nine o'clock, then I turn in. So, you see, it is not all play in gumming.
Two my mind there are but two glasses of people who can profitably start in the gum business. They are the professional and the near civilization trappers; the farmer could follow it as a summer job, and the trapper as a sideline to make his trap line more profitable. Both are well fitted for this business for they are used to long, hard tramps, camp life, and have a good knowledge of woodcraft. But, of course, if a man was really determined to enter the game, is willing to work hard, and take a chance on profit, until he could locate some good territory, he could probably make wages at the business.
There are a good many engaged in gathering gum in this state, but the most of them engage in it as a sideline of some other business, or for a spring job. The company I ship to bought about eleven tons of gum last April, but the most of it came in small lots.
Gumming, like trapping, has a strong appeal to the lover of the great outdoors, and here's wishing success to the true disciple of Nature, who enters the game.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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