Welcome once again Around the Traps. Gosh, it’s hard to believe that our group has now enjoyed ten winter camps in the central highlands of Victoria. The first two were perhaps the toughest, camped at Andrew’s old farm, on that exposed south-facing slope of the Strathbogie Ranges, but didn’t we have fun anyway. One could cite classic memories ne’er to be forgotten, but really all of our Winter Quarters have been remarkable events, relived over and over around successive camp fires.
Our 10th Winter Quarters had perhaps the briefest rollcall since we started camping at The Caveat. No matter, those who braved forecasted winter chills were rewarded with sunny days, starry nights and a most magnificent time. There was no shortage of fun, firewood or flintlock shooting. Each winterer was presented with an embossed leather commemorative medallion hand-crafted by Bob Ellis, as a special keepsake token to celebrate our ten years of achievement.
In this edition read about Ian Convey’s bead shoot, also George Mohr shares his Fort Frederick experience and photos; plus we unearth some old Muzzleloader poetry.
Winter Quarters – President’s Trade-Bead Shoot
Actually, this was a challenge event in which each participant was issued with a equal quantity of coloured glass pony beads. The scoring was then clearly explained to all – additional beads would be awarded for successfully completing various tasks, and for straight shooting, but participants would be fined a bead if they couldn’t complete any task assigned, or for having any non-authentic items in their gear.
Competitors were then told to assemble at the open-faced shelter in 5 minutes, with the necessary equipment to enable a two day trek, across a high barren plain to a trading post, to reprovision with horses and trapping gear. This scenario being necessary as hostile injuns had stolen all their horses and traps overnight.
Everyone assembled within the allotted time and each was then assessed on how well they were equipped. Each was asked to produce the following items:-
- Their gun, powder and ball. No beads were forfeited!
- A knife – again no loss of beads.
- Fire lighting gear. All passed!
- Food for the trek. Three went hungry and accordingly were fined beads.
- A full water container. Over half went thirsty and lost beads.
- A blanket or capote. Jim said he was so tough that he could sleep without either – Oh, yeah? But there’s no firewood up on that high barren plain Jim – more beads lost.
On to the next test, everyone was then given three minutes in which to light a fire, having a sustainable flame, using only flint and steel. This resulted in some burnt fingers and a 60% pass, some blue beads were awarded to those successful within the time allocation.
Beads were forfeited for failing to light a fire in time, also for no water container, no food, no blanket/capote, and one for having a plastic stopper in a water bag.
Following a light lunch all proceeded to the designated safe shooting zone. The first targets to be shot at were three hanging gongs of diminishing sizes at about 32yds. A maximum of nine shots were allowed, three for each gong. A hit with the first shot gained three beads, if a second shot was needed then only two beads were awarded but if the third and final shot scored, only one bead was won. No hits meant no beads gained and no cigar – tough titty!
The next event was the 93yard buffalo gong target; a hit on the first shot was awarded three beads. If a second shot was needed only two beads were issued or one bead if the third shot was needed and scored. Maximum three shots allowed. Again no hits meant no blue beads, no vermillion and absolutely no foofaraw.
The finale of the Bead Shoot was a team can push. Teams were selected with roughly equal calibres. There was 10 minutes in which to push the cans as far as possible. The cans soon disintegrated into twisted chunks of scrap metal gradually becoming more distant with each shot. The winning team members gained five beads each.
The tally of beads at the end of the event was:- Peter 75; Paul 72; Tom 70; Murray 67; Chook 64; Jim 63; Charlie 56. As you can see, scores were fairly close and only one skinner ended up with fewer beads than originally issued. Participants kept their beads, while the overall prize of a small shooting bag with fancy hand woven strap, donated by Jenny Baker, was clearly won and presented to Peter.
Fort Frederick is a star shaped stone fort located near Big Pool in Northern Maryland. Originally built in 1756-57 to provide protection from French incursions and Indian attacks. It was a base for militia and Rangers during the French and Indian War, a refuge for settlers during threats of Indian attack, a prisoner of war camp during the American Revolution and a Fort again during the Civil War before being abandoned in 1862.
The State of Maryland purchased the site in 1922 and reconstructed this large fort to the original plans during the 1930’s. It’s truly a great place to visit, but especially so on the annual Market Fair weekend.
The Fort Frederick Market Fair celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It has to be one of the best gatherings in the US if you are interested in 18th Century arts and crafts – guns, knives, powder horns, shooting bags, clothing, artwork of all kinds, scrimshaw, quillwork, furniture, music, just about anything else you could want to see.
Many of the crafts people are Contemporary Longrifle Association members and are masters in their craft. There were 140 exhibitors in the trade area this year, but hundreds of additional trade blankets, street performers and musicians. Lots of costumed re-enactors! The event is open to the public each day. It isn’t a primitive rendezvous. There is plenty of food available, often prepared by local service organizations’ members who are doing their bit to raise a little money for local charities.
This is an event where you could buy all you need to get into colonial re-enacting, all quality items, in a single morning of fun shopping.
Kay and I had been to the Market Fair before, but we decided to stop by again on our way to Dublin. We attended all four days of the event – April 24-27 and the spring weather was just perfect every day. The event is usually on the last weekend in April.
If you want more, there’s another event on the following weekend at Bledsoe’s Fort in Tennessee, and the weekend after that is Martin’s Station near Cumberland Gap. All are superb events with a great opportunity to meet the people who you have been reading about for years.
As we had to travel on to Ireland, we made the short trip up to Gettysburg on Sunday afternoon, mailed our rendezvous gear back to Australia on Monday, spent the day looking at favourites in Gettysburg, then caught the flight to Dublin.
The Market Fair has so many things of interest. Many of the traders had pub style signs advertising their craft or establishment. We loved the signs! All in all it’s a great event. It’s worth a trip to the States just to go to the Fort Frederick Market Fair.
See more Market Fair photos from George & Kay on our Vol 49 Gallery Page.
Next Club Event
Spring Rendezvous and Annual General Meeting September 20 & 21. AGM at 1pm Sat. 20th. Our traditional Primitive weekend for Trade Blankets, banter and bunkum and the AGM or have I already stated that. Bring lots of cash, trade goodies, mules, five dollar plews, trade silver, scrimshaw, blue beads, vermillion, mirrors and such.
Safety is no accident!
Our safety requires a constant vigilance from each and every one of us. Please re-read our Safety Rules document which is enclosed to all members with this newsletter. Additional copies available upon request.
Plunder from the Club President’s scrapbooks
Ian, thumbing through his oft revisited hoard of Muzzleloading Magazines, phoned me to suggest that this poem was most deserving of re-airing. I’d never read the poem before and could only wonder how such fine lyrics could remain silent for 30 years since May/June 1984 when Muzzleloader cost only $2.00. Yes, it’s a trifle more now, but still great value. The poem, however, remains priceless and full credits go to the author and to Muzzleloader Magazine for first publishing it.
And the Lord said “Let There Be Flint” by Robert L Baxter
Now the Lord he looked down,
With a faint little frown,
As he watched powder smoke drifting by;
He hitched up his robe,
And he scratched his earlobe,
And he spoke with a deeply heard sigh.
“It just grieves me to mention,
You’re not paying attention.
I provided, I thought, all you need,
But I’ve noticed, just now,
You’ve been straying somehow,
From the path I designed, so take heed!
I began at the start,
To develop each part,
I thought it all out very early;
I supplied you with trees,
Twisting slow in the breeze,
Forming maple, both stripe’ed and curly.
I put in the ground,
In a manner compound,
Many things that I thought you could use;
I put ore in the rocks,
For both lead balls and locks,
And the makings for buttplates and screws.
Then I nudged you a bit,
And you made it all fit,
You were slow, but I knew that you would
Build a tool for the time,
With a shape most sublime
From the steel and the brass and the wood.
And it pleased me no end,
I don’t need to pretend,
When you dressed it with inlays and all;
And the barrel you filled,
With some nitrate distilled,
Just under the patch and the ball.
Now the next thing, I bid,
Where myself I outdid,
Ranking up there with fire and wheel;
I spread on the ground,
And in rocks all around,
Things that spark when you hit ‘em with steel.
Then I laid on some hints,
And you picked up those flints,
Screwed one tight in the jaw of the cock;
And I smiled with content,
When the mainspring you bent,
And the pan flashed so nice on the lock.
But I’m saddened to say,
You got carried away,
You fell in a neatly laid trap;
That Ole Devil slipped in,
With another small sin,
He invented the fulminate cap!”
For Sale Lovely light blue woollen Capote with hood and contrasting red and white sash. Completely hand stitched with all new materials. Size – small men’s. $150.00 Contact Murray, mobile 0498 111 372