Furs and Hide

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Southwest Virginia Project
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From Source:Thwaites, 1902:73-74

Throughout the summer and autumn deerskins were in their best condition. Other animals were occasionally killed to afford variety of food, but fur-bear- ers as a rule only furnish fine pelts in the winter season. Even in the days of abun- dant game the hunter was required to exer- cise much skill, patience, and endurance. It was no holiday task to follow this calling. Deer, especially, were difficult to obtain. The habits of this excessively cautious ani- mal were carefully studied; the hunter must know how to imitate its various calls, to take advantage of wind and weather, and to prac- tise all the arts of strategy.

Deerskins were, all things considered, the most remunerative of all. When roughly dressed and dried they were worth about a dollar each; as they were numerous, and a horse could carry for a long distance about a hundred such skins, the trade was considered profitable in those primitive times, when dol- lars were hard to obtain. Pelts of beavers, found in good condition only in the winter, were worth about two dollars and a half each, and of otters from three to five dollars. Thus, a horse-load of beaver furs, when ob- tainable, was worth about five times that of a load of deerskins ; and if a few otters could be thrown in, the value was still greater. The skins of buffaloes, bears, and elks were too bulky to carry for long distances, and were not readily marketable. A few elk-hides were needed, however, to cut up into harness and straps, and bear- and buffalo-robes were use- ful for bedding.

Source:Earle, 1989:211

from Source:Earle, 1898:211

The colonists were constantly trying to find new materials for spinning, and also used many makeshifts. ...Deer hair and even cow's hair was collected from the tanners, spun with some wool, and woven into a sort of felted blanket.