Outdoors: A history lesson on the man who really won the West, Kit Carson

Our TV makes mention of individuals who won or opened the West, be it John Wayne, Matt Dillon or Davy Crocket.

The real man who actually won the West was Kit Carson. Carson was a mountain man, guide, Indian fighter and military man. Newspaper reporters were always trying to pin him down whenever he was in their towns. Kids really looked up to him.

He was not built to intimidate. He was only 5-foot, 6-inches and extremely quiet, only speaking when talked to. The civil war generals wanted to meet him probably to use him as a scout or escort. To their surprise, they saw a small, stoop-shouldered man with reddish hair, freckled face and soft blue eyes, nothing to indicate courage or daring. He spoke very little, as I mentioned earlier, and only answered questions when asked.

He ran away from home when he was very young and ended up in New Mexico. There he set up trapping for beaver and also was an ambitious hunter and explorer. He checked out a vast expanse from New Mexico to Idaho. Many places have been named after him. The one that stands out is Carson City, the capitol of Nevada.

He risked starvation sometimes because of his beaver trapping excursions when his food ran out. Being in the wilderness meant carrying few supplies. Men who ventured into the woods back then with shaven faces usually emerged later on looking like the missing link of human evolution. Many times these men experienced hypothermia as a result of wading winter streams while setting traps and looking for sign. Then, as well as now, animal pelts are at their prime during winter months, and they brought the most money then.

Kit Carson, the man who truly opened the West.

La Salle County Pheasants Forever

The chapter will be holding banquet planning meetings. The next one will be at the Illini Lounge, Main St., Marseilles. Meetings start at 6 p.m. Dinner will be provided. The public is invited. For questions, call Chuck Eiben at 815-488-1390.

Hunting report

Mushrooms have become scarce in our area because of dry weather. We need rain badly for the sheephead mushrooms to come up. They are very large and require a lot of moisture. The early Canada Goose hunting season ended Sept. 15. Hunters took their share of the big birds in backwater areas and the wide waters. Squirrel hunting remains very good.

Fishing report

River fishing has been great for some very large channel catfish. Some of the cats exceed 8 – 9 pounds. Fish above brush piles or below a dam. Best baits have been gizzard shad and river herring. White bass and sauger are beginning to show up near pylons and creek mouths. I caught some sauger that measured around 15 inches. The white bass are spotty, and many are located near parked barges when minnows are present. Live minnows work best for them.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.