Carcajou

Protecting the meat from large or small vermin was a constant problem, winter or summer, in camp or on the trail. From porcupines to grizzlies the entire fauna liked to have their meals killed for them, as the modern camper knows. The modern camper, however, seldom if ever is troubled by the most skillful of all thieves, the wolverine. This pest is not considered by modern students to have any extraordinary animal intelligence. But they could not have convinced the mountain men. To them the ‘carcajou’ was literally demoniac: he had an infernal ancestry. He would even steal beavers from traps and he regularly made a bloody garbage of the winter trap line that was run for fine furs. No cache of meat was safe from him and he did not work on shares. Few ever saw him, so his supposed size varies in I the annals. Our painter, Alfred Miller, who claims to have seen one, makes him the size of a St. Bernard dog, which is too big, and adds that his body was shaped like a panther.  Osborne Russell saw one at work. Russell had killed a couple of bighorns for meat. He took some cuts back to camp and hung the rest in a tree. Next morning he went back for it and found a wolverine at the foot of the tree. ‘He had left nothing behind worth stopping for,’ Russell says. ‘All the traces of the sheep I could find were some tufts of hair scattered about the snow. I hunted around for some time but to no purpose. In the meantime the cautious thief was sitting on the snow at some distance, watching my movements as if he was confident I had no gun and could not find his meat and wished to aggravate me by his antics. He had made roads in every direction from the foot of the tree, dug holes in the snow in a hundred places, apparently to deceive me.’ Russell conceded that ‘a wolverine had fooled a Yankee,’