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The Beaver, Vol. I, No. 4, January 1921 by Company

For the purpose of replenishing the castorum supply


_Beaver Tail Useful Implement_

The beaver uses its tail to steer with while swimming and to carry the mud necessary to construct his house. He will scratch a little pile of earth up with his fore paws, then turn around and scoop his tail under the loose mud, holding it stiff and straight out behind on the level of the water while he swims off to where building operations are going on.

[Illustration: _Two fine, fat, 35 pound beaver_]

_How the Beaver Stores Food_

The beaver's winter store of food is not put too close to the house, but usually a considerable distance off; sometimes in deep water in the middle of a pond or under a bank where the water is too deep to freeze to the bottom. Sticks of cottonwood, cut as large as can conveniently be handled, are pulled or even carried on their shoulders while they walk in an upright position to the water, then floated to the spot selected. These sticks are not shoved into the mud as has often been stated, but are piled up or built up just as we would build a raft--the first layer lying one way, and the second layer crossways on top, each layer having all crevices filled up with mud until the larder is sufficient for his winter's needs, and is weighed down level with the top of the water. When he starts to draw from this store, he pulls a stick out from the bottom and takes it off to his tunnel leading

to the bank close by his house where meals are served.

_Easy To Approach Beaver From Windward Side_

Animals usually can detect the approach of danger if it comes from the windward side. The beaver is not an exception, but one can be within a few feet of them when the wind is blowing in the opposite direction, and they fail to get the scent. For example, an Indian wanted a beaver to eat and as just before camping for the night he had passed some cuttings only a little way back on the trail, he decided to go back after dark and see what luck there was for him. He was careful to approach the workings from the windward side and after listening attentively he could hear a beaver cutting trees up on the hill side above him. He selected a sheltered spot in some brush on the windward side of the slide or the road that was used by the beaver to skid down the cut wood. Presently along came the animal, struggling with a large piece of cottonwood. The Indian waited until after the beaver had passed him, then reached out and caught the stick, holding it firmly, and as soon as the beaver was satisfied that it was caught it walked back with the intention of cutting it loose only to get hit on the head with a stick and killed by the Indian.

_The Beaver a Castorum Factory_

Both male and female have a pair of glands lying lengthways on the inside of the skin at the lower extremities, which does not appear to be controlled as other organs are, but are emptied with the hand by a downward pressure. The secretion contained in these two bags is a solid from which oil is extracted and is completely emptied once each year. Close by every house a handful of dry grass is gathered up and the castorum deposited, then a few tail-fulls of mud are put on top of it. What this is done for I am not certain but think it is like a challenge or a sign that all trespassers will have to fight. When the bags are emptied in the fall the beaver visit jackpine forests and eat largely of the gum, I am told by the Indians, for the purpose of replenishing the castorum supply, and this is likely true, because the odor and character of the deposit is not unlike pine gum. Castorum has a peculiar attraction for all wild animals, and the Indians put it to account by using it as a trap scent. Another advantage it has is that though an oil substance it is of such a nature that when rubbed on iron traps and set under water it will not leave the trap and float up like all other oil substances will do. Commercially it is used as a body in perfumes, likely also on account of its being able to retain the perfume for such a long time.


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