Yukon Plinking

Oh, the good old days! You know—the days when folks travelled by river steamer along the Yukon. The churning of the big red paddlewheel, sitting on the deck and watching the scenery roll by—for days on end. Passengers were squeezed onto a small boat with as much freight and people as the boat could carry for many days with nothing to do so they invented ways to pass the time. Some folks drank, some played cards, and then some of them engaged other pastimes:

Dawson City, Yukon – Dawson Daily News- August 10, 1906

Complaint is Made

Dangers to woodchoppers, prospectors and hay cutters along the Yukon river from men shooting from the decks of steamers is reported by F. X. Laderoute, a pioneer roadhouse man.

“Many passengers while en-route up the river, “ says Laderoute, “ have a habit of standing about the decks of the steamers and shooting at animals which they see along the river. Sometimes they shoot into the brush or at trees or other marks for the mere pastime. The many bullets flying into the thicket are menacing missiles. At any time they may strike some poor fellow and be the cause of unintentional murder."

“Much of this shooting has been done along the river of late. Four years ago I was barely missed by a bullet fired into the brush in this way. The ball passed within four inches of me. I suggest that the government see that notices are posted on steamer strictly warning all passengers against shooting promiscuously. Much of the shooting is done by people from the lower Yukon or American side, where they have no idea of the laws on the Canadian side regarding such matters. Further, no thought of danger occurs to many who indulge in this pastime.

“Some also are wanton in their destruction. Not many days ago a passenger on a steamer shot a fine moose on the river bank near Kirkman. The steamer did not stop. It was out of season for killing moose. Not only did the shooter violate the Yukon law, but also let the flesh of animal rot, simply for the gratification found in firing a gun at a living creature.”

Mr. Laderoute has sold out at Kirkman and will make his home in Dawson.

Note: We often think those were the good old days. However, we often only take in to account the highlights of life back then and leave out the bad times. Life is easier and safer today but we are not any smarter. 100 years from now, someone will think we live in the good old days when we could shoot up signs, cars on the side of the road, and junk in gravel pits! This bullseye of a history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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