Aux Alimenete DuPay
"Living off the Land"
"In this plight Sublette found himself, and finally resolved
to turn north, in the hope of coming upon some better and
more hospitable country. The sufferings of the men now
became terrible, both from hunger and thirst. In the effort to
appease the former, everything was eaten that could be eaten,
and many things at which the well-fed man would sicken
with disgust. "I have," says Joe Meek, " held my hands in an
ant-hill until they were covered with the ants, then greedily
licked them off. I have taken the soles off my moccasins,
crisped them in the fire, and eaten them. In our extremity,
the large black crickets which are found in this country were
considered game. We used to take a kettle of hot water, catch
the crickets and throw them in, and when they stopped
kicking, eat them. That was not what we called cant tickup
ko hanch, (good meat, my friend), but it kept us alive."
My Aux Alimente DuPay
"She Who Lights the Way"
Jill and Sandy had already done 2 Aux Alimente
DuPay's so I felt confident when they said they had
scouted out an area for us to camp and that all would
Three weeks earlier they had scouted the area and found
the creek had fish and there were grouse, berries and
Yampa to harvest. I took Gabriel, 2 yrs old, and I knew
it would not be easy to do my share of the hunting and
gathering with him along but I wanted to try. I couldn't
take the chance of him eating something that didnt agree
with him, or him going hungry, so I took food from
home for him.
There were cockleburrs everywhere and we constantly
were picking them out of our clothes and hair. I had red
wool plugs at the bottom of my dress that quickly filled
with burrs and turned into scouring pads against my legs.
I ripped them out within an hour. Another reason I say
the trappers wives did not live in wool only.
Sandy, Gabriel and I filled the canteens and cook pots
with water, while Jill scouted for yampa. She found a
couple just for tasteing and we now knew were to find
We collected hawberries, chokecherries, rose hips,
elderberries, and a very small amount of currents and
service berries. The service berries, elder berries and
currents were raisins or very sparse because it was past
their season, but there were tons of the others. The
service berries were the very best but there was only a
handful of the them and I ate almost all of them! They
were so good!
Chris and Gabe picking Berries
We had also collected fireweed but it had gone WAY
past season to seed, which we did not know until we had
taken a bite of them.
Have you ever sucked in when blowing on a dandelion
after it had gone to seed? Perfect example of what fire
weed seed is like, only 3 times more seed. Fluff! Kinda
like sucking on a hole in a feather pillow.
Our Berry Harvest
We set up camp and I was so excited! Not only was I
with 3 of my favorite camp buddies but I was fulfilling a
dream come true of doing my Aux Alumenti Du Payees
Jill and Sandy set up a lean-to of their own and Gabriel
and I were in our own. Camp went up quickly. Hmmm,
it was so nice to not have an excessive camp, but only
what we needed for 3 days, minus food and a husband.
Chris at camp
We had a berry snack and Jill and Sandy went fishing.
Gabriel had gone down for a nap so I couldnt leave
camp. I didnt want him to become a snack or to wake
up and be terrified because he was in a strange place.
I watched them walk up and down the stream banks
about 75 yards from camp. I wanted to fish something
terrible also but I knew my turn would come. I took out
my bow and looked for squirrels and the grouse they said
were here, three weeks ago. I ended up shooting cow pies
for practice, and that was my trophy hunt.
Sandy and Jill returned from fishing empty handed. It
was evening by then and we werent quite hungry so we
made some rose hip tea, snacked on berries and a couple
of yampa roots Jill had found. We had a very nice
evening around the fire, while enterained by a 2 year old
seeking attention the silly way, and then turned in for a
great nights sleep, after picking the cockle burs from
The next morning we all tried fishing again. We tied new
hooks and used grass hoppers and mayfly grubs we had
dug from the creek bank, which was fun. We just knew
the fish could not resist the grubs. Funny, we didnt see
any fish in the stream like Jill and Sandy had seen 3
weeks ago? Boy, the stream is alot lower than it was then,
too! We caught no fish.
Ok, Jill is resourceful and experienced so she caught a tin
of grass hoppers. Hold on to the gut, twist the head and
Field Dressing Grasshoppers
Put them in a tin with a lid and cook until you can smell
them. Take them out, pull the wings and legs off, salt and
eat. I literally could not get the disgusted look off my face.
Jill actually told me "dont look at me like that"! I then
took the look off my face and laughed because I hadnt
realized my expression looked as though we were getting
ready to eat my child. Once they were done, we
commenced to eating them. They have the flavor of
overcooked, gamey elk meat. Once I took the first bite
and realized I wasnt going to dry heave I commenced to
munching. Gabriel saw us eating and he just had to have
some. We had to rush our grasshopper meal because
Gabriel wanted them! He loved them!! The hoppers,
along with a hand full of berries, filled the void for a while.
Chris and Gabe eating Grasshoppers
Crazy stopped in for a little while to get watered and
dined by we women but we didnt dine him too much.
He gave us the idea of planting our poles and weighting
them with rocks. We went for another walk up the stream
and hunted for more grasshoppers. While looking for
nice plump grasshoppers Jill and I came a cross a snake.
An unknowing bystander may have laughed at Jill and I
stomping after a snake, trying to step on its tail. Once
stepped on, Jill handed me her knife and I cut it's head
off and went on looking for more Grasshoppers or
another snake. You gotta have the nice big grass hoppers
because the little once are all exoskeleton. We all met
back at camp and watered and dined on grasshopper
Crazy had a jug and homemade Italian dry salami, and
we almost killed him for eating it in front of us. More
rosehip and horse mint tea and that was dinner. Crazy
wasnt impressed with our dining fare so he, and his brand
new shiny braintan pantaloons went home.
We had another wonderful evening around the fire, with
a couple more handfuls of berries, tea, excellent company,
WFT business, Gabriel entertainment and beautiful stars.
We all went to bed but sleep was thin for me. The extra
energy of foraging, as well as carrying Gabriel when he
got tired, really burned calories. I was so hungry that it
kept me awake. I would wake up and drink water to fill
my stomach but then I had to get up to answer the call
Not quite the restful, peaceful night like it was the night
before. I wonder what it would have been like 3 weeks
earlier!? When we got up the next morning it was very
difficult to not share Gabriels breakfast with him, but I
Coffee and a couple more berries, which wasn't as yummy
as they were on day one, and we were off to try for fish
again, with no success, and to dig yampa, which we ate
as fast as we could dig it. I was feeling a little week and
nauseated but I knew the energy spent digging would pay
off. Jill doesnt quite weigh enough to sink a shovel in
dry soil so I had to stand on her shoulders, I mean, dig
After putting something in our stomachs, we went back to
camp and packed up. I had Gabriels food tin just waiting
for us when the clock hit 12 noon, the end of the Aux
Yes, I got pretty hungry but I would not change anything
during that camp. I would have liked more food but I
enjoyed myself. Jill and Sandy then told me that this was
their leanest Alimenti camp. There were a couple things
different at this site than the other sites before. After
evaluating the three days and the area, they now have
some pointers for all.
1). Keep a minimum to the time between your scouting
and your camp, especially close to a change in seasons.
Too much changes quickly; animals move on, or hibernate,
water levels change and plants come and go out of season.
2). Make sure there are staple tuberous plants, such as,
cattail and burdock to help fill the stomach.
3). Be proficient in your hunting skills. Dont rely on a
skill you havent been successful at before your camp,
such as fishing with primitive tackle (even if there are
no fish in the stream!).
4). Keep your weapon with you at all times. Chris missed
a shot at a grouse because she had left her bow and arrows
at camp while we were digging yampa.
We arrived along the Bear River above Onieda We served roasted grasshoppers for horederves. Over We followed the hoppers with a nice frog leg stew with As the sun set, Jill, Sandy and I canoed out to catch all After finally giving up, we returned to camp. And it For Breakfast, we collected more greens and steamed Around noon, we shifted camp further down the river. Once we were back at camp, we started to gather some While Jill and I gathered berries, Sandy and Rick Rick was working on other requirements for Boshloper, Our 3rd day dawned beautiful and sunny. Finally the Alas, our alimente dupays came to a blessed end. We Your Sisters. Sandra ( Swamps) Jill (Stargazer) Sandy (Lays with horses) _______________________________________________________________________ By Jill and Sandy September, 2004 Jill and Sandy did theirs together. They spent 3 days and We had to skin and gut this Beaver and we still hadn't We know had to find a spot to set up camp. Somewhere We had supper of Beaver, cooked on a stick and We sat around the fire and planned for the next day. We Day Two: We got up and had breakfast of Beaver and So back to camp to get the Flint Lock. We loaded it with With Cattail in hand we headed back to camp for more Back at camp we started a fire and ate our dinner. It then Day 3: It was a might wet and that is an understatement! We We then had breakfast of Cattail root prepared the night This morning was colder than last two mornings and the Again we removed our moccasins and went into the Back to camp to load up and head out. We thought With our camp on our backs we headed out and headed So sisters, You send us your stories of your Sandy and Jill
The Women of the Fur Trade do Aux
Alimente DuPays on the Bear River
Sandra Roberts story
Reservoir. Jill and I discovered last minute leaks in
our bullboats and proceeded straight to camp for
repairs. Our plan was to fish all weekend and eat our
fill. Its amazing how plans change. While Sandy and
Rick canoed down river to our camp, we set up.
When they arrived and set their camp up, we started
dinner and the fire.
the course of the weekend, we found that simply throwing
them on some hot coals works easily. You can place them
in a pan or on a hot rock, but they tend to jump off, even
if you pinch off their heads. Another simple method to
roast and still prevent escape, is to collect them in a
lidded tin and simply throw the tin on the hot coals.
It kills them quickly and only takes a few minutes to cook.
Add a little salt and theyre quite tasty. Sort of like meaty
Jill eating a Grasshopper
dandelions and red clover. When picking dandelions,
we recommend picking either the very young leaves or
blossoms, as the older leaves can get very bitter. For
dessert, we had hawthorne berries. Jill likes them fine,
but I think theyre disgusting.
Sandra with her Frog Dinner
those fish that were jumping around. They jumped
wherever we were not and would not take our bait, even
when we offered frog guts. Well, not being the most
patient fisherwomen, we soon became frustrated as the
carp swam all around us and even waved their fins at us.
Something in us snapped and I started trying to beat the
carp with my paddle as Jill decided to take the direct
approach and grab them with her hands, convinced she
could throw them in the canoe. Jill did get her hands on
one, but it was too slick to hold. I did come into contact
with a couple, but they were too stupid to be stunned so
I could get them in the canoe. Sandy kept yelling at us
the whole time that we were crazy and didnt know how to
fish. No comment.
began to rain. And rain. And rain.
them like spinach. We boiled the hawthorne berries in
water, mashed them and made a fairly palatable juice to
drink. I certainly feel this is a much better way to get
hawthorne berries down. We fished in the morning and
lost a very pretty primitive fly to one carp.
Sandy and Rick canoeing
As it continued to rain, Sandy and Rick canoed while Jill
and I decided to make a net to catch those damn carp.
We finished and left around 4:00pm to try our luck. I
dont know if it was the rain or the time of day, but there
wasnt a fish/carp to be had. Figures!! While canoeing
back to camp, we harvested young cat tail shoots (the
most tender) and some pollen. The pollen was a little old
but had a simple starchy taste.
dinner. We dug up some Burdock roots to boil. (BTW,
Burdock leaves make good toilet paper) and added our
cattails shoots into the pot. Jill found a chokecherry tree
with a few berries left and a loaded Elderberry bush which
we quickly harvested.
continued to try to catch a fish. Its very difficult to cast
with primitive gear. Rick had an idea to row out a long
line into the deep part of the river for Sandy. This
seemed a great idea especially since Sandy had an aversion
to being out on the water and getting struck by lightening
again. I really feel she would have caught one if supper
hadnt distracted her. Unfortunately, while Sandy ate,
the %@#!&^*$# fish made off with her hook. It was at
this point, I discovered I hate fish, especially carp.
so he cooked meat on a stick right in front of us! He
seemed unaware that he was taking his life in his hands at
that moment! Oh well, the fresh chokecherries were
delicious, but had an aftertaste like dry under ripe
bananas. The Elderberries were heavenly and I ate a
large portion both before and after the meal of roots and
hoppers. I went to bed with my stomach content.
Sandra starting a fire
rain had stopped. We drank an elderberry/chokecherry
juice with a few hoppers and some fresh elderberries for
breakfast. During the morning Jill bull boated down the
river. I borrowed Sandys bullboat to cross the river and
harvest more of the cattail shoots for a mid-morning
celebrated with a meal of sausage and corn cooked over
the fire and a delicious rice and cheese dish that Sandy
made. We toasted our completion with sips of a great
port wine. This was Jill and Sandys second alimente and
they plan on another one next month with our sister Chris.
Luckily, I cant make it that weekend. I dont know which
it is, but Im sure Im on-call for work that weekend.
So here's our story.
nights in the mountains foraging for food and trapping
Beaver. The traps were set in the Ponds. The first morning
when we went to check the traps, we removed our
moccasins and waded barefoot through the ponds. The
water was very cold but we pushed forward through the
mud and guck, the thistles and stinging nettle. At the last
trap we noticed the rope was wrapped around the stick.
Good sign a Beaver may be there. Yep, sure enough there
was a Beaver in the trap. We had to remove the Beaver
and reset the trap using squeeze sticks. (A trick taught to
us by Allen Hall) Squeeze sticks being made from two
Quakie limbs tied together. They worked great!
set up camp. So we sat on the ground and skinned this
Beaver. We had about 12 pounds of meat to last us three
days. We knew at this point we would not be going
hungry. We saved the claws, the bladder(for a toy quill
container), the tail (Which made a nice Quiver for our
knives), and of course the wonderful Caster Glands for
the next time we trap Beaver.
JILL SKINNING THE BEAVER
where we can't be seen, yet we could see all. So with a
Burden strap we put our bedrolls on our backs, a fresh
Beaver Pelt in hand, and still barefooted we waded back
through the Beaver ponds in search of a campsite. There
was no site to be found on this side of the Beaver Ponds,
so back through the ponds and to the other side. We
found that spot! It was about 1/4 mile up the mountain.
We were hidden from all Hostiles and yet we could see for
miles. We dropped our packs and begin to set up camp.
We were hurrying because it looked like rain on the
Horizon. Not paying attention to what we were doing,
we forgot to dig hip holes. (Bad Mistake). We finally had
camp set. Made a fire ring, gathered nesting from the
inner bark of Quakies and started a fire with flint and
steel. Gathered enough wood to get comfortable for the
chokecherries. We cooked the chokecherries in water till
tender and then we ate them. We put the meat from the
Beaver in a canvas bag and stored it outside. It was cool
enough at night to keep it good for the next few days.
We had no seasoning for the meat, but to our surprise it
was really good. It is said that Beaver was a Mainstay in
the Trappers diet. They ate what they trapped.
Eating supper of Beaver and chokecherries
figured we would hunt some grouse after checking the
Beaver traps. We were tired and settled in for the night.
It was sleepless night because we didn't take the time to
remove sticks and dig hip holes.
chokecherries. We then re-did our beds, digging those
hip holes. Our hips were sore this morning and it was
sure to be a better night tonight. The day was very cold
and overcast, but we headed down the mountain to
check those traps. Being sure to hide from the hostiles.
Again we removed our moccasins and barefooted we
headed into the cold Beaver Ponds. We had three traps
that had been sprung, but no Beaver! We re-set those
traps using our squeeze sticks, and put out new caster.
Then it was back through the ponds. Thats when we
noticed there were leaches on Jills legs. We pulled them
off and flung them into the ponds.
Re-setting the traps
Bird shot and headed out to find a grouse, gathering any
edibles we could. It was still overcast and cold. The clouds
were getting darker and heavier. Down the side of the
mountain and up another, but no grouse. We decided to
go around the Mountain to the other side because we
could see Pines. We found some Rose hips and sat down
and ate some off the bush. We gathered some up to
make tea back at camp. (They are very good-have a
taste of orange to them) Headed back down the
Mountain but all we could see were the Beaver dams and
the swamp. We were going to back track so we didn't have
to go through that again. But, Low and behold, there was
a grouse in a bush at the edge of the swamp. We wanted
him for dinner so we went after him. Big Mistake! We
lost the grouse but found ourselves in the middle of a
swamp! There was no way out that we could see. it was
thick with Willows and dead limbs. The water was murky
and up to our thighs and getting deeper. We began
crawling over dead Quakie and Willow limbs and moving
thick weeds out of our way. Then we noticed we were
surrounded by Poison Hemlock and Deadly Nightshade,
not to mention the stinging Nettle around us. It was
getting darker with the sky covered with thick grey clouds,
adding an eerie feeling. We weren't sure how to get out
of there so we plunged forward, knowing it had to end
soon. It did. We crawled out of the swamp with our legs
and knees scratched, bleeding, stinging and cold. We
crawled out right into a patch of thistles! We started
heading for camp and came upon some cattails, so we
dug into the mud and pulled out the roots.
Jill pulling out Cattail Roots
Beaver on a stick, chokecherry juice, Hawberries.
Cattail sprout, Mint and Rose hips. we peeled the Cattail
Roots, then boiled and mashed them so they would be
ready for our morning breakfast.
Boiled Cattail Roots
began to rain. The rain let up after awhile ad we able to
enjoy the evening campfire. Then it started to pour down
rain so we retired for the night. It rain all night, in fact it
poured down rain. The diamond fly was leaking on top
of our bed. When we woke up we had puddles of water
on top of our oilcloth, but the bed was dry.
had taken nesting to bed with us so it would stay dry, but
it was still damp and hard to light. We had to break out
the emergency fire supplies. Birch bark (Which will light
even when wet) and dried mushrooms. Once we got the
birchbark burning we used beeswax candles to keep it
burning till we had a good hot fire.
before, mixed with more berries and of course some more
Our gathered Berries
ground was wet, but we had to check the Beaver traps one
more time. So we headed down to the Beaver Ponds and
checked the traps.
freezing water, stinging our toes. None of the traps had
about our past three days and realized that with
foraging, hunting for grouse, checking Beaver traps
and preparing meals, we had no down time. We were
busy the whole time and we now have a new appreciation
of what the women lived through back in the fur trade
Aux Alimente DuPay and we will tell it!
We arrived along the Bear River above Onieda
We served roasted grasshoppers for horederves. Over
We followed the hoppers with a nice frog leg stew with
As the sun set, Jill, Sandy and I canoed out to catch all
After finally giving up, we returned to camp. And it
For Breakfast, we collected more greens and steamed
Around noon, we shifted camp further down the river.
Once we were back at camp, we started to gather some
While Jill and I gathered berries, Sandy and Rick
Rick was working on other requirements for Boshloper,
Our 3rd day dawned beautiful and sunny. Finally the
Alas, our alimente dupays came to a blessed end. We
Sandra ( Swamps)
Sandy (Lays with horses)
By Jill and Sandy
Jill and Sandy did theirs together. They spent 3 days and
We had to skin and gut this Beaver and we still hadn't
We know had to find a spot to set up camp. Somewhere
We had supper of Beaver, cooked on a stick and
We sat around the fire and planned for the next day. We
We got up and had breakfast of Beaver and
So back to camp to get the Flint Lock. We loaded it with
With Cattail in hand we headed back to camp for more
Back at camp we started a fire and ate our dinner. It then
It was a might wet and that is an understatement! We
We then had breakfast of Cattail root prepared the night
This morning was colder than last two mornings and the
Again we removed our moccasins and went into the
Back to camp to load up and head out. We thought
With our camp on our backs we headed out and headed
So sisters, You send us your stories of your
Sandy and Jill