Severe floods have occurred in all Australian States over recent months, resulting in a massive country-wide breeding frenzy of all our water birds. In many areas of Victoria, the ducks have triple clutched resulting in the Victorian Government declaring a full twelve week duck season, after years of reduced bag limits or no season at all. Enjoy our “Opening day” feature story of two successful sportsmen in this issue.
Our monthly Google web analytics report now allows us to flag the general locality of all Aussies visiting our site. We’re very happy to identify Buckskinner interest from all capitals, viz. Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney; also identified are readers from a number of Australia-wide provincial cities such as Bendigo, Cranbourne, Geelong, Nowra, Victoria Point and Warrnambool.
Of course our most cordial greetings also go out to our many friends and readers from around the globe. A warm “Hello” to you one and all, we’re pleased to meet you Around the Traps wherever you hail us from. We sincerely hope you continue to find our doings of interest through our newsletters and just maybe we’ll share a camp-fire, a fresh brew and a yarn someday soon. Meanwhile, keep yer nose to the wind, one eye on the skyline and never miss an opportunity to warm your barrel.
Club President reports on working-bee at Bernard’s Cache 12/13th February
Driving up from the Marsh on Saturday I arrived at our camp around mid morning with much work already well under way. Bob Ellis, Ron Davis, John Morland and Glen Mitchell were hard at it with the roof now completed and the timber facades to the eaves almost done. Jim Walker who had arrived and camped over on Friday, along with Bob, was now nowhere to be found.
About an hour later Jim was back on site driving Bernard’s truck with a load of shale and clay for the shelter floor. A non-tipper it had to be unloaded with shovels, spades and sweat but the floor was soon levelled and stomped down with varied renditions of the Mountain Man Stomp. The floor area now being higher than the outside slope should, I believe, remain comfortably dry during any rainy weather.
Some timber pegs suitable for hanging hats, coats, traps etc were hammered into the upright posts and a couple of rustic shelves were fitted to keep vulnerable whiskey jars off the ground. Glen trimmed a couple of logs to form bench seats on each side wall. A fire pit was dug at the front perimeter as the structure was nearing completion.
Late that afternoon Glen, John and Ron departed for home leaving Bob, Jim and I to camp the night. Of course Jim had to test the fire pit and soon had a cheery blaze burning, whilst Bob and I contemplated some exposed modern structure quite visible at the low end of the roof. The solution was to fit a timber façade that would allow rain water to run off and this was accomplished by fitting offset brackets for the timber allowing a two inch gap for rain water to drain. Our page one photo shows the finished result. (That railing is only to keep the horses from camping in our shelter.)
As Bob and Jim had completed some refinements to the toilet after they arrived on Friday that only left firewood to be cut and stacked on Sunday morning. We had lots of fun and much good work was achieved, thanks to all who attended. Ian Convey.
Club Camping Calendar
- April 22nd – 26th
- Easter/ANZAC day long weekend. ANZAC day 2011 coincides with Easter Monday creating opportunity for Ronda-voo-ers to rise early for a short dawn service at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat. Tuesday 26th is a public holiday! Come, see and share the results of our working bee labours for a five day (F.S.S.M.T.) rendezvous.
- June 11th – 13th
- Queen’s birthday long weekend. Our 7th Annual Winter Quarters encampment in the central highlands – Bernard’s Cache, Caveat. Don’t sit at home, cold and miserable, join the congenial Buckskinners around roaring campfires, snug and dry in our open-faced shelter, sharing some shrub and a yarn or a song. Learn to tell the time by the Southern Cross. Gaze at the stars and the Milky Way or fall asleep to the soft tune of refreshing rain on stout water-proofed tents. Awake to glorious sunny winter mornings, coffee, bacon and eggs and the best of friends at the cooking fires. All fun novelty shoots, a solid throwing block, a permanent creek and a beautiful secluded place to Rondyvoo – Come to Bernard’s Cache.
- July 9th
- The 22nd Eureka Arms and Militaria Fair at Ballarat. Saturday one day only from 9am until 3.30pm the Council of Muzzleloaders representing the Free Trappers, Seymour Black Powder Club and Western Districts Muzzleloaders will attend a promotional display table. Adult entry $7, free if you wear Trapper/Longhunter outfit.
- August 6th & 7th
- Leap into the future at Beechworth’s Ned Kelly Festival. Shuck off those pre-1840 duds and embrace time travel into the 1870’s and 80’s. Join all the fun at historic Beechworth and camp over on the Police paddocks right behind the Courthouse where the wounded Ned will re-hear the charges against him. Streets of period style tents planned. Be in the thick of the weekend’s re-enactment festivities and country fair. Contact Bob Ellis for further details.
- September 16th – 19th
- Our traditional Spring Rendezvous weekend extended from Friday 16th through to Monday 19th. Arrive early to be assured of a place in the Mountain Man hunt. – Where? – Why, Beaver Creek at Whorouly, of course!
Seymour Alternative Farming Expo
The above photo by Glen gives a hint to the amount of combined effort that goes into promoting our hobby and sport at this three day expo. A tipi is always an attention grabber for the “alternative styled” folks while an A frame with bell end is both snug and roomy at the same time. But that massive barracks style tent on the left houses our grand display of flintlock arms and accoutrements, powder horns, peace pipes, tomahawks, several quilled possibles bags, a beaded Indian war shirt and many photos of club camp life and black powder shoots.
The Expo runs from Friday to Sunday and Bob and Jim worked tirelessly on Thursday erecting tents, then Bob, Glen and Jim attended each of the three days of the Expo. John Morland helped out on the Saturday and George Mohr on the Sunday. They were kept busy each day and all said they had a marvellous time answering queries and chatting with the numerous interested visitors. The good publicity generated for all black powder shooting sports is immeasurable.
A Backwoodsman style story of Duck Opening 2011 – a day for true sportsmen.
It was with great excitement that I travelled up to Pyramid Hill for the Duck Opening. The past few years had been lean on the duck hunting front, with restricted bag limits and the cancellation of more than one opening due to lower duck numbers. However this year, with all the rain across the country and the abundance of surface water around Pyramid Hill I knew there would be ample ducks. I was hoping for a bag full.
Le Reynard and I have established a tradition that the duck opening is a period hunting event. This means we are attired and kitted out as mid 18th century backwoodsmen using muzzle loading flintlock shotguns. Le Reynard has a 12 gauge fusil de chase, named “Precious” and I have a 20 gauge Indian Trade Musket I named “Longshot”. Both firearms are long barrelled compared to modern day cartridge shotguns and both have hefty locks that throw showers of fat sparks.
We both load 70grains of 2f with an ounce and a quarter of shot. Precious tends to shoot a wider spread at shorter distances while Longshot, as the name suggests, keeps the pattern tighter over greater distance. The combination allows us to effectively cover a broader range. But the hardest working member of our team is Jake, my Brittany spaniel. Brittany’s are a superb working dog bred as pointers and retrievers. They have a natural propensity for water and love to swim, hunt and retrieve.
Le Reynard, always an astute hunter, had reconnoitred a suitable hide on the banks of a creek. About a mile down this creek to the west were two swamps. Our plan then was that allowing the birds would be shot at and disturbed from the heaviest population at the northern swamp, they would head straight for the southern swamp where other hunters would try their luck. Some of the birds disturbed from here would seek refuge by flying east to drop into a calm bend in the creek. An easterly breeze meant perfect landing conditions and a low tree and bushes offered us the perfect hide.
Opening morning, we awoke at 5.30am in our bush campsite, grabbed a cup of tea and a piece of homemade fruit cake before heading off across the field and down the creek to our hide. Jake was frisky, sensing our enthusiasm. We settled in the hide about 20 minutes before opening time; it was still half dark with the sun below the horizon. A stiff cool breeze was blowing and I was happy to be wearing my long waistcoat. I noticed Jake was shivering with the excitement.
An occasional European Carp flopped out of the water sending ripples across the slow moving surface. The time dragged on for the next twenty minutes or so, then, off to the west the first shot was heard, quickly followed by others. Then a cackle of gunfire sounded across the landscape, Le Reynard turned around to me and gave me an excited grin, the day had started. I quickly checked the powder in my pan, all good and the big English flint tightly held in the jaws of the lock. Jake was sitting patiently by my leg, still quivering in anticipation of the sport to come.
Scanning the horizon, I could see a mass of black dots rising in the air and heading south. The mass disappeared below the tree-line then gunfire could be heard from the southern swamp. Moments later the dots re-appeared above the tree-line, circling a few times before heading east towards us. They seemed to melt into some taller trees and just for a moment I thought they had turned away. Then, bursting clear of the scrub, a large flight of birds was rapidly approaching our position.
Le Reynard and I waited motionless until the very last moment as the birds started to flare their wings preparatory to landing. We both rose and fired into a mob of teal. Two birds dropped, one into the creek and the other onto the far bank. I sent Jake off into the water to retrieve the first bird. He handled the retrieve perfectly and delivered the duck to my hand. We decided to cross to the other side of the creek to retrieve the other bird and commenced moving off.
Suddenly Le Reynard said, “Quick! Load up again there’s more birds coming!” I looked and sure enough more black dots were heading our way. Fortunately I had set up my authentic shooting rig for quick loading. We were just in time. Le Reynard shot a Wood Duck, Longshot and I missed by yards – but hey I was having so much fun!
Jake went in again and retrieved that Woody bringing it back to me; I passed it across to Le Reynard. We moved across to the opposite bank and set Jake to finding the downed Teal. He scented it in about 2 minutes flat, pointing at it with front paw up and tail twitching in the classic manner – a pleasure for every bird-dog owner to view.
Then Le Reynard’s eagle eyes glimpsed a small mob of ducks zooming along the creek at low level, presenting a difficult fast passing shot. Caught out in the open clearing, we hunkered down, luckily the sun was up and behind us, so in our favour, blinding the ducks to our presence. We popped up and fired simultaneously, and as is often the case in this circumstance, at the very same Pacific Black Duck. That bird dropped instantly onto the opposite bank; caught by two and a half ounces of shot.
We returned to our original hide. The recent wet summer bringing on lush growth all about made it virtually impossible to locate downed birds without a dog, but Jake quickly found the Blackie in the thick weeds. In fact we didn’t lose one single bird all weekend and all thanks to Jake. The sun rose higher and we carried on in much the same vein throughout the morning until the flow of passing birds ceased.
Having mostly hunted and shot with rifles, I consider myself no shot-gunner and to master all of the different shots requires dedication, practise and skill. Luckily my hunting companion and good friend Le Reynard set me up in the right position with the conditions in my favour. This can make all the difference between a good bag or empty bag. The weekend was a memorable Duck Opening for me. My advice to any first timers to duck opening is to go along with sportsman who really knows how to hunt ducks – your experience will be all the more rewarding for it. Best regards to all.
Editor’s note: Successful sportsmen Paul and Jeff (aka Le Reynard and Griz) spent the entire Opening weekend dressed in 18th century style apparel. They bagged seven ducks with their single barrel flintlock smoothbores burning good old black powder. In the game bag – one Black duck, two Woodies and four Grey Teal; According to Paul they will cook up to a very nice meal in the slow cooker, to be served up with a favourite mouth-watering creamy mushroom sauce. KFC wouldn’t even come close!
Our good friend Brad Randall in the USA has forwarded the latest Hatchie Run Longrifles club newsletter. Readers can find it at www.hatchierunlongrifles.com Brad reports having a whole lot of fun at their recent “Freeze yer Arse” rondyvoo. Shades of our Western District’s club “Wet to the Arse” shoot, I wonder? Check out the site and the picture of Brad’s camp in the snow storm. Man, that does look so-oo cold. Brrr! This happy smiling group photo better illustrates the warmth of our broader kinship.
The Dereel Fur Trading Co has had a terrific year of horse trading and wrangling and now find they have an over supply of high quality goat skins. These pelts are beautifully tanned with long soft hair with true buckskin colouring on the underside. They would make up into excellent warm cloaks or bed coverings, etc. Priced at only $20 each, be quick to secure your order. Contact Murray on 5346 1086. Pay & collect at Easter rendezvous.
A deserted Traders camp, little used but far from derelict, one roomy bedroom, large living/dining/entertaining area complete with 5 dog stove, kitchen sink, numerous lanterns, a useful hand cart, ready for pioneer life or rendezvous camping.
Contact owners and suggest it’s time they re-cemented friendships at Rendezvous…..
Editor’s note 2: If you are perhaps uncertain as to what constitutes “sport” or of what maketh a true “sportsman”, may I suggest you refer to my earlier article “Sportsman’s Identity Stolen” in Around the Traps newsletter Vol 18 of July 2009. Hunting is sport!