Grub Stake

Parts of today’s post will be roughly taken from the book, Trapping North American Furbearers, by S. Stanley Hawbaker.  Snuffy (a.k.a. Dad) suggested this book to me a few years ago.  He said that he used it as his reference when trapping in the 70s and 80s.  I have since read through it several times and I would have to agree that it seems to be a great reference book.


I tried to do some research about Hawbaker, but the internet didn’t turn up much besides the books that he authored and it looks like perhaps his family owned or owns a sporting goods store in Pennsylvania.  Too bad.  It seems as though he was an interesting man.    I really am impressed by this book.  My copy happens a well-loved version from 1944.  The cover is falling apart, but the spine and pages, though water stained, are in good shape.

I guess I should say that this is not a book review.  Sorry to mislead you with the first two paragraphs.  This is about a little cabin in the woods.  Your cabin.  The cabin you dream about while sitting at your cubicle or driving your fork lift.  It is the cabin that you have designed in your dreams, simple and tasteful.  You have always wanted to build it on your own, heck, you’d even fork out the cash for an already built version……if you just had the money.  I feel your pain, brothers and sisters.  In a conversation about such things the other day, the best saying I could come up with is, When you’re young and have time, you don’t have the money.  When you’re older and have the money, you can’t find the time.

I have a hundred acre spread of brush, swamp and trouble back east.  My Grandfather and Dad bought it for the whopping sum of $10,000 back in 1989.  I inherited it shortly after my Grandfather died.  It is nothing to write home about.  Not much for clearings.  Kinda wet.  Hard to access.  I know what you’re thinking – it is perfect.  In some ways it is. The problem is, I’m about 3,000 miles away and getting back home becomes harder to do with each passing year.

My plan used to be to build a cabin or to have someone build a cabin.  I’ve been dreaming about it now for eight years and haven’t pulled anything together and I probably will not. A more realistic version would likely be another bus – a simple structure and mobile to avoid taxation.

Anyhow, my dream is to spend the winter in that cabin that will probably never exist.  My cabin. Writing.  Playing cards with Mrs. Hotel.  Snowshoeing to my trap line.  Stoking the stove on the nights when it is -30.  I know it isn’t all romance and adventure.  It is hard work.  That’s the part that I love about it.

I’ve thought about all I’d need for a winter without contacting the outside world.  It is hard to prepare for such a thing when you aren’t even the one who grocery shops for your family.  That’s why I like Hawbaker’s book.  I read the following section about once every other month……just to keep my eyes on the prize.

From Trapping North American Furbearers:

“The grub stake will vary considerable.  Some trappers waste quite a bit more food than others.  Some are also heavier eaters.  If fish and deer can be had, it will help the meat end considerably, although at least quite a few pounds of salt pork should be in every grub stake.

I will list a four months supply of food that will keep any trapper going for the given time unless he actually wastes half of his grub in cooking.

Flour – 90 lbs
Oat Meal – 5 – 2 1/2 lb boxes
Dried Fruits – 30 lbs.
Beans – 15 lbs.
Salt – 25 lbs for cooking and jerking meat
Lard – 10 lbs.
Coffee – 5 lbs.
Cocoa – 6 lbs.
Corn Meal – 10 lbs.
Baking Powder – 4 lbs.
Yeast Cakes – 4 packages
Milk (condensed) – 1 case
3 lbs. Dried Eggs
10 lbs. Onions
1 Small Bottle Vanilla Flavoring
Sugar – 20lbs.
Soap – 5 bars laundry, 5 toilet
Egg Noodles – 4 lbs.
Rice – 6 lbs.
Salt Pork – 40 lbs.
Black Pepper – 2 lbs.
Butter – 15 lbs.
Tea – 2 lbs.
Ketchup – 2 large bottles
Soda – 2 lbs.
Cornstarch – 2 boxes
2 lbs. Macaroni – 5 lbs. Cheese
6 lbs. – Prepared Pancake Flour
Jams – 5 lbs.
Several large boxes of matches

I will guarantee the above will keep any trapper 4 – 5 months, unless he is an actual “hog.”

If plenty of venison and fish can be had, one can make it six months on the above grub stake.  Always conserve food.  Never cook more than is consumed.

Store grub in a safe place so bears and other animals cannot get at it and destroy it.  If two trappers are going in together, the above grub stake and outfit can be doubled.”

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel……out.


4 thoughts on “Grub Stake

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