|THE TOTE-ROAD SHAGAMAW.
From the Rangeley Lakes to the Allegash and across in New
Brunswick loggers tell of an animal which has puzzled many a
man, even those who were not strangers in the woods. Frequently the report is circulated that the tracks of a bear have
been seen near camp, but a little later this is denied and moose
tracks are reported instead. Heated arguments among the
men, sometimes resulting in fist fights, are likely to follow. It
is rightly considered an insult to a woodsman to accuse him
of not being able to distinguish the track of either of these
animals. To only a few of the old timber cruisers and rivermen is the explanation of these changing tracks known. Gus
Demo, of Oldtown, Maine, who has hunted and trapped and
logged in the Maine woods for 40 years, once came upon what
he recognized as the tracks of a moose. After following it for
about 80 rods it changed abruptly into unmistakable bear
tracks ; another 80 rods and it changed to moose tracks again.
It was soon observed by Mr. Demo that these changes took
place precisely every quarter of a mile, and, furthermore, that
whatever was making the tracks always followed a tote road or
a blazed line through the woods. Coming up within sight of
the animal, Gus saw that it had front feet like a bear's and
hind feet like those of a moose, and that it was pacing carefully, taking exactly a yard at a step. Suddenly it stopped,
looked all about, and swung as on pivot, then inverting itself
and walking on its front feet only, it resumed its pacing. Mr.
Demo was only an instant in recognizing by the witness trees
that the place where the animal changed was a section corner.
From this fact he reasoned that the shagamaw must have been
originally a very imitative animal, which, from watching surveyors timber cruisers, and trappers patiently following lines
through the woods, contracted the habit itself. He figures that
the shagamaw can count only as high as 440 ; therefore it must
invert itself every quarter of a mile.