Feb. 8, 1914: ‘Modern Diana’ to live alone in forest
- Blog Post by: Ben Welter
- May 3, 2010 - 8:35 PM
A Minneapolis Tribune brief about Bana Douglass’ plan to live in the wilds of Maine led me to this longer version on the front page of – surprise! – the Pittsburgh Press. Once you get past the somehow appropriately tangled first paragraph, it’s a pretty good read. The Tribune’s brief, published a few months later, does offer a few details not found in the Press account: Miss Douglass abandoned the idea of entering the woods entirely naked. Upon reflection, she decided gymnasium “pants” might be more comfortable at the start.
If you know how this marvelous adventure turned out, please post a comment. I haven’t been able to track down a followup of any kind.
MODERN DIANA WILL LIVE
ALONE IN FOREST; PLANS
TO LEAVE CLOTHING BEHIND
To Gain Food and Clothes in
Wilds – Will Have Women
Boston, Feb. 7. – That woman is able to battle her way alone under the most primitive conditions, and, equipped only with her wits, her strength and her endurance, she is fitted to cope with nature, is the belief of a modern Eve who proposes this year to risk her life and her health alone in the great amphitheater of nature.
Bana Douglass, the most famous huntress in the Maine forests, will cast off the clothing of the modern woman and enter the unbroken wilderness alone and unaided. There she plans to remain the full month of August. She will rely on bark for her clothing, on roots, berries, herbs, squirrels, rabbits, partridges and brook trout for her food; on snares and a bow and arrow to capture her quarry.
She will make her fire by friction, using a spindle whirled by a bow, like the South Sea Islanders. For shelter, she will build a crude leant-to from the fallen sticks, the moss and the leaves from the forest floor.
On entering the forest she will carry absolutely nothing from modern life. She will entirely cast off modern methods of living, relying on nature’s lore to maintain life and procure whatever crude comforts the forest affords.
WOMEN FOR SENTINELS.
She will be accompanied on her departure by a group of women, who will bid her goodby and take possession of her discarded clothing. Women look-outs will be posted in camps nearest to the haunts of the modern Eve to protect her from annoyance.
When her lonesome sojourn is completed, Miss Douglass will come forth, she says, clad in skins and woven bark of the cedar. She plans to have moccasins and leggings made of squirrel skins, a skirt of soft lining bark interwoven like basket work, a tunic of woven water grass and a sombrero of woven bark.
Miss Douglass is well qualified to enter the battle of woman versus nature. She is strong and supple, is inured to exposure and hardship, and is equipped with a lore of nature that is unusual among modern women. She loves the woods and the streams, and prefers the solitudes of the forest to the hum of city life or the cares of the home.
HUNTRESS SINCE CHILDHOOD.
In her girlhood she preferred to hunt with her father, to tramp the trapping lines though the dense wilderness, rather than wash the dishes or read books. In the snowshoe [tracks] of Gus Douglass, the famous hunter and trapper of Maine and Canada, the snowshoes of little Bana Douglass, at the age of 10, tramped though the forests. She was at that tender age the mascot of hunting camps. She could shoot straight and true, and as she grew up she earned the title of “the best shot in the Dead River region.”
Privation and hardship had no terrors for the young huntress, and no weather was too severe for her.
The love of the forest, the love of the chase, still animates Bana Douglass, and she has announced that she will essay to demonstrate that modern woman, though handicapped by the centuries of comforts and luxuries of civilized life, retains that inherent ability to maintain herself alone in the heart of nature.
Miss Douglass has ranched and hunted in the west as well as the east and has brought down the big game of the forests. In Montana, she hunted the elk and shot several fine specimens; in Wyoming she hunted mountain lions; in New Brunswick she has shot moose, and in Maine the deer, caribou and black bear.
She shoots from any position. Running game, when brought under cover of her rifle, seldom escapes without the trade mark of this girl with the quick eye and steady nerve.
OF FAMILY OF HUNTERS
The Douglasses are famous in Maine hunting camps. Bana’s grandfather, Andrew, is the quaintest character among the trappers, and at the age of 80 is still hunting and guiding. Gus Douglass, Bana’s father, is the owner of Deer Lake Camps, and for years held the national championship in fly casting. He is at present on a hunting trip to Quebec.
“I believe in the theory that nature supplies the necessaries of life,” declares Miss Douglass. “The modern frills and gewgaws are not necessary to life or to happiness. Modern women don’t know nature; they don’t know the real happiness of life. They are losing those sterling traits that brought mankind safely through primitive days to civilization.
“I shall be as secure out there alone as I would be in the city. I shall have less to fear. I do not fear the animals; I know them well and they are safe. It is only in story books that bears and wildcats are dangerous.
“I shall find food in plenty. Of course, there may be unpleasant conditions arise, but there is no need to worry about that now. It won’t be all honey and cream. I shall probably long for a few grains of salt more than I will for a cup of tea or a piece of toast.”
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