Camping Tips for Care and Storage of Camping Equipment
A slovenly sportsman misses much of the joy of the man who takes pride in giving his outfit the proper care, not only during its period of use, but also during the winter, when occasional overhauling serves to keep one in touch with sports of other seasons.
And a very real joy it is, each article recalling an experience as one examines it minutely for a possible rust spot, scratch, or injury.
Tents usually come in for much abuse, which shortens their life considerably. Cotton duck molds quickly, and rots if left rolled up damp. Care should be taken, therefore, to insure its perfect dryness before storing. Silk and silk-composition tents, being thoroughly waterproof, are almost as dry after a rain or dew as before, so may be packed for moving at any time. But all tents and tarpaulins should be washed and dried carefully after the season's use.
Blankets absorb much moisture, and should be shaken and spread out over bushes to dry in the sun, at least once a week. In the cold nights of late summer, the increased warmth of blankets after drying is considerable.
Pack straps and ropes should not be left exposed to the weather. They speedily become hard or brittle; squirrels like the salt they can obtain by chewing the leather, and if left on the ground in a rabbit country, the straps are soon cut into bits. Hang the leather goods in the peak of the tent, keep them away from fire, and oil them occasionally.
A canoe should not be left in the water overnight, or at any time when it is not in use. Simply because use makes it wet, a canoe should not be left so any more than a gun should be left dirty, or an ax dull. If on a cruise with a heavy load, pile the stuff on shore at the night camp, and turn the canoe over it. If a canoe is permitted to remain in the water unnecessarily, or its inside exposed to rain, it soon be- comes water-soaked and heavy for portage, besides drying out when ex- posed to the sun, and developing leaks.
Small punctures in the bottom of a canoe may be mended with spruce, tamarack, or pine gum, melted into place with a glowing firebrand, held close, while blowing at the spot to be repaired. Torn rags of canvas-covered bottoms may be glued with the softer gum of new "blazes," gathered with a knife or flat stick.
While traveling on shallow streams, the bottom of a board canoe develops a "fur" of rubbed-up shreds. Every night these should be cut short with a sharp-pointed knife, to prevent a shred from pulling out and developing into a large splinter. The paddles, and the setting pole, unless shod with iron, become burred at the ends and require trimming down to solid wood. The track line, if in use, is wet most of the time, and unless dried frequently, becomes rotten. Every tracker knows the grave danger with a rotten line in the rapids.
During the winter the canoe should be scraped and sandpapered, bulges nailed down, permanent repairs made to the covering, and the canoe painted on the exterior and varnished on the interior.
The average fisherman is an enthusiast who needs no urging in the matter of caring for his outfit, and the user of firearms should profit by this example. Even if not a shot has been fired from a gun all day, moisture from the hands, or from the dampness in the woods, or marshes, may cause rust spots, or corrode the bore. Rub an oily rag through the bore and over the out- side of the gun every evening, before laying it aside.
Cleaning rods are safer and more thorough in cleaning the bore than the common mouse string, which may break when drawing a heavy piece of cloth through, causing much difficulty. A wooden rod, preferably of hickory, is best, although the metal rod is stronger for use in small bores, but care must be taken not to wear the muzzle unduly. The hunting weapons should he carefully overhauled before storing them, and given a coat of oil to protect the metal parts from rust.