Nessmuk's "pudding stick"


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hey folks,

Coming to you from the wilds of upper Canada. I was wondering if any of you have ever seen a drawing, or actual specimen, of Nessmuk's one handed canoe paddle. His friends jokingly called it his pudding stick. He gives its dimensions as 20"X3" but no other info except for how he used it while fishing or hunting from his canoe (chapter IX of "Woodcraft and Camping"). I have a hankering to make one, but don't want to reinvent the wheel if I can help it. A search of the web turned up some interesting items such as the "piranha" and the "praddle" but no Nessmuk paddle. Can anybody out there help me?

Many thanks in advance:D Keep the keel side down.
I went sea kayaking in Norway with a nineteen year old kid whose left arm ended at the elbow. He simply tucked that side of the kayak paddle between the stump and torso. He used a lot of body twist with his strode and left us in his wake
Thanks for the replies! Woodchuck would you be able to post pictures from that book to these pages? That would be great if so!

I'd better clarify something, for those who haven't read Nessmuk's "Woodcraft", the grandady of all camping books. He did his paddling while travelling with a double bladed paddle, but used the little, one hand paddle to reposition the canoe when fighting a fish or putting the sneak on a deer. He tied it to the canoe with a short cord so he could just drop it and retrieve it later, this being more stealthy and with less movement than putting the paddle back in the boat. He wasn't disabled and neither am I. This paddle wasn't for propulsion, not for long anyway, but for positioning the boat. I hope this gives you a better idea of what I am after. I was hoping Nessmuk's paddle was in a museum somewhere and one of you had seen it.

Thanks again!:confused:
It's been a while since I read "Rushton and His Times in American Canoeing" by Atwood Manley, but I know there are several discussions regarding Nessmuk and I'll look through the book today. The Rushton collection, which I believe includes boats built for Nessmuk, is at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, NY-- you might contact them regarding the pudding stick... and get back to us if you find anything out.

For a bit more info see Woodcraft (, p.101:

Select a canoe that fits you, just as you would a coat or hat. A 16 pound canoe may fit me exactly, but would be a bad misfit for a man of 180 pounds. And don't neglect the auxiliary paddle, or "pudding stick," as my friends call it. The notion may be new to most canoeists, but will be found exceedingly handy and useful. It is simply a little one-handed paddle weighing 5 to 7 ounces, 20 to 22 inches long, with a blade 3 1/2 inches wide. Work it out of half-inch cherry or maple and fine the blade down thin. Tie it to a rib with a slip-knot, having the handle in easy reach, and when you come to a narrow, tortuous channel, where shrubs and weeds crowd you on both sides, take the double-blade inboard, use the pudding stick, and you can go almost anywhere that a muskrat can.
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Attached is a page scanned from Canoe Paddles and shows what was used. Don't overlook the kids paddles as I have a 29" paddle that could be adapted very easily. You can find these all kinds of places but here is the website for the one I have: <>

CYA, Joe


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Thanks for the reference. I looked through the museum's website, but no luck. I think I will send them an email.
Thanks for the Nessmuk quote. I probably should have cut and pasted that right from the start!
Thanks so much for scanning the line drawings. This will be a good jumping-off point for the "pudding stick project":D

Time to turn in for the night. If anyone else has some input, I look forward to hearing from you and thanks again for all contributions so far.
I wonder if the SLCHA might have some archives to shed some light on Nessmuk's "puddin' stick" as they hold some Rushton archives being the county where Canton is located.

George was a native of Wellsborough (sp?) Pa.....not Canton. You might have better luck plowing through old copies of Field and Stream from that period to see what he wrote about his Nessmuk exploits.
...still waiting. Maybe their spam filters could tell I like spam (cooked with mustard and brown sugar over a bed of coals :rolleyes:) and rejected my email :eek:
Hhhmmm... ten days... maybe it's time to gently remind them?

I've not asked for this kind of info from them, but have had fairly quick responses to other things.
Yes I found that one in my web search, I think they call it the "piranha" and I think the hook is for pulling on branches, or such, to position the boat. There is another model with a scalloped tip to help you push-off from obstacles.

By the way all, the SLCHA got back to me right away.........and referred me to guessed it!...Adirondack Museum :eek:, who have still not sent me even a courtesy reply :mad: