Century-Old Advice on Bears and Fishing

img267Francis H. Buzzacott — Trapper, Hunter and Guide  From his 1913 book, American and Canadian Sportsman’s Encyclopedia of Valuable Instruction ($1).

Extracts of some of this century old, very interesting information follow* (some of which has been supplanted by more recent modern research).

Notes on Hunting Bears: The easiest and best way to hunt bears is with hounds. Bears are mostly omnivorous (eating both plant products and animal flesh), living mostly on vegetable foods, nuts, berries or animal flesh, with especial fondness for honey. In hunting bears, some rules are: 1st, commence firing at long range. 2nd, never turn you back or run from him, stand your ground, but run—never! 3rd, If you have a companion, spread out so as to detract the bear alternatively. 4th, Preserve you position.   Do not aim for the head as bears have massive skulls with formidable bones. Never tackle a male and female with cubs, walk around them, even if you have to walk all day. If a mama bear with cubs charges you, aim for one of the cubs. A cry of pain from a cub will deter an attacking mother bear as she charges.

The Successful Fisherman “is the one who familiarizes with the ways of fish, he who studies out and observes the peculiar traits, habits and haunts of the various fish he sets out to capture, who aquaints himself with the facts as to their sense of sight, scent and hearing, their mode of existence, foods, likes, seasons, etc., thus qualifying himself to better under stand them, so as to take advantage of their ignorance, avid their read perception of things, and fool their cunning.”

Fish sight is unusually acute and they are possessed of the faculties of both hearing and feeling sound. They breathe the air that is dissolved in water. When water is depleted of air, fish will suffocate. Fishes eyes are peculiarly placed enabling them to see plainly anything that is above or about them for an unusually long distance. However, they have difficulty seeing on a level of directly under them. Their sense of smell and hearing are well developed. It is certain that fish possess faculties which enable them to perceive and distinguish odors, while various scents either attract or repel them. In most cases fish, like snakes, see motion only. Their sense of taste is poor and they rely mostly on sight and smell in choosing their foods. Most fish are carnivorous (flesh eating) and they are mostly extremely voracious—either eat or be eaten–applies to them with unusual force. Prey in most cases is swallowed whole, and parental fish sometimes devour their own offspring.

Having few nerves, fish probably do not experience but little pain. Fresh water fish can go for extended periods of time with little or no food; salt water fish have much less survival without food.  In all fish, teeth are shed and renewed at intervals during the entire course of their life when they do not seem to need or care for food—same in spawning. In wintertime, due to inaction, certain species cease to feed entirely, lying almost inactive in deeper water. Big fish usually prefer solitude and inhabit the deepest, choicest portions of the waters they dwell in, usually the deeper, cooler spots, especially those where winds and currents carry of drive floating or other foods about them. When feeding they are alert to any sight or sound about them and invariably hide behind projecting rocks, banks, stumps or weeds or in shadier waters where they can observe and be hid from their prey, thus able to locate, dart out and seize all those of food that come within their reach, even other fish approaching their own size.

It is a good rule, usually, to go either in early morn of later in the afternoon before dark.  The cloudier the weather the better are chances for success, especially be it before a storm or rain. Fish are often very fickle. Today they may bite almost anything offered, yet few are to be seen. Yesterday, plenty were in evidence, yet for some reason, they absolutely refused to bite. Here, they may go for any fly, an hour hence, none or very specific kinds of fly brings a bite. Fish have acute senses of smell, which with their sharp sense of sight allows them to be very selective and choosy in feeding. Truly, it can be said, “that the way of fish no man knoweth.”

 Wrinkles and Kinks for Fishermen, Anglers, Etc. Keep Angle Worms not in a tin can, but in a small porous earthen jar (flower pot). Fill it with green moss. Wet. Feed with the white of a hard boiled egg, placed therein, or a teaspoonful of cream or bruised celery—they will assume a pink color, live long and be attractive. Don’t drown them inmud. Cover hole in bottom or pot. Live maggots are a splendid bait, taken from meat that is fly blown. If kept in a small box, with corn meal, there is no more objection to handling them than to any worm or other slimy bait. Try it once and be convinced.

Early spring—use very small Midge flies for trout

Don’t use too Big Flies or Hooks—better small than too large

Fish Scent or Lure—A little assafoetida, oil of anise or swee sicily; a drop pinched on your bait will attract fish to it.

The difficult places to fish are just where the fish are.

Old fish like new flies. Young fish take old ones.

Fish Wardens—When you catch thieves cut off all their pants buttons. They can’t run well and hold up their pants at the same time.

Kill every Water Snake—you find. They eat millions of fish eggs every year.

Frogging at Night—Take a very bright light, locate your frog, and turn the light on him squarely. It dazzles him and you can pick him up like a potato. Don’t think he’ll jump away; the light confuses him and he forgets himself.

In Casting for Bass—Choose the edge of lily pads, weeks, rushes, etc. Pickerel, also.

Fish Scratches or Wounds—Use common salt and vinegar, or such them sell and put a chew of tobacco around it and bind it on.

Never Let Your Shadow—Be observed by fish you are after. Get behind a tree, bank, or cut a few branches so as to hide yourself behind them, or lay in the high grass and crawl t the most likely spots, especially in trout fishing.

Keep Your Spoons Bright—Revolving spoons can be scoured with tobacco ashes or wood ashes, polish them with a dry rag and elbow grease.

Keep the Sun—In front or at the side of you when fishing.

A Nest of Very Small Mice—Make excellent trout or bass bait.

Open the Stomach–Of your first fish and see what they are feeding on, then follow up on this “tip.”

Don’t Blame the Fish—For not biting, or taking the fly. Perhaps you’re to blame. Think over conditions and inspect your bait and tackle

To Find Worms—Choose a manure pile or after a heavy rain, when they crawl to the surface of the ground.

Black Bass Go in pairs all summer. If you catch one, look out for its mate.

In Fishing for Black Bass—It is next to useless to cast on perfectly smooth water.

Use Small Spoons—When trolling for bass                                                           

*Buzzacott, F. H. 1913. American and Canadian Sportsman’s Encyclopedia of Valuable Instruction. M. A. Donohue & Co. 512 p.