Southern Cross Free Trappers

Incorporated in Vic. # A0049526N

Around the Traps

The No.1 Down Under newsletter for Longhunters, Mountain Men, Voyagers, Friends and Kin.

Vol. 61, March 2019

“Well, beaver will shine again!”

That statement should be heralded with confidence as the smell of campfires beckons all true Longhunters and Trappers. Fresh autumn mornings and long sunny days draw us like bees to a honeypot. Who can resist these shining times?

In 2018 the local fur market crashed and Trappers stayed away from the mountains in droves. “Five dollars? It’ll be a cold day in hell before I sell my plews for five dollars”.  Or so it seemed!

The downturn in furs reflected in the numbers of hivernants attending our camps. And those who made the trek into the Painted Pony Plains were too busy having a great time to bother to record the events – so no stories and few photos survived for our newsletter. Thankfully Le Reynard ventured to one of his favoured fowling locations and entertains us all herewith with an account of his last day of duck season for 2018.

Where the hell you been? Don’t you go to rendezvous no more?

Last Day: A Scout Along the River.

The closing of Open Season brings mixed memories both good and sometimes sad. Sad because we then reflect on missed hunts in the field due to the commitments of modern living, chasing the cursed dollar, or sometimes health restraints.

After just three short months of being able to hunt waterfowl in Victoria, the final day of the season arrived. I just had to make the most of this particularly fine day promised by the weather bureau. The preceding few days of intermittent showers seemed just right for water birds of all variety. Great for ducks!

But where to go to rendezvous with the ducks? My reminiscing took me back a few years to another hunt when Jeff (aka Griz) Clarke and I had some good hunting along the banks of the Loddon river. I recalled there was good access to the water, plenty of cover and shade, and where reasonable numbers of birds might be found resting on the bends of the river. Here the river currents slow, snaking their way through the country-side to eventually end their journey flowing into the magnificent Murray River.

The next decision to make was what fowling piece to use. For most of the season I had favoured using my double-barrelled percussion shotgun “Old Reliable” with very good success. But for this hunt “Precious” my 12 gauge flintlock fowler from Green River Rifle Works was to be my gun of choice.

The decision made, I packed all the fixin’s for Precious, then a tin cup, a small kettle, tea, water-bottle, oat-cakes and some fruit into the “mule” and made for the Loddon.  After an hour and a half journey I arrived at that old familiar camping spot.

The recent showers had made the ground damp which was good in one way – no crunching on dry leaves whilst trying to sneak up on any of the ever-alert birds. But the muddy banks of the river would be rather slippery, especially as I was wearing moccasins and as I would find out later.

Meanwhile I set up a cooking tripod made from three small branches tied together at the top with a length of small chain, then filled the little kettle with fresh water and gathered what dry bits of wood I could find. Finding dry tinder was the challenge but after searching high and low under bushes, bark and such I managed to secure enough.

After a few choice words to the tinder I managed to start a small fire and was then able to sit back and enjoy a cup of tea and my oatcakes under the leafy canopy of the red gums and box trees – being serenaded by the wild life in the lignum bushes and branches nearby. I was soon brought back to reality when the unmistakable “meow” of the wood ducks filtered to my ears.

Time to gear-up and prepare Precious for the work ahead. Powder, wad, shot, over shot card in place, and the pan primed the hunt was on. As the ducks were not that far away, I was able to follow a low depression that ran parallel to the river and just stopping for a minute to get a more precise location of where the wood ducks were, I was able to use the cover of the lignum bushes and trees to get near them.

But like many good plans, they can easily come undone. A lone male wood duck was keeping sentry on the opposite bank. He had excellent eye-sight and for a split second we stared at each other until he realised that the “thing” opposite him was neither bush nor branch.

He launched himself into the air, wings beating double time to get some distance between us. Instinctively Precious came up to the shoulder and swung past the beak of the Woodie. With a shower of fat sparks, a quick puff of smoke and flame, the main charge erupted into life to send a load of number four shot towards its destination.

The shot was true and through the haze of black powder smoke the shadowy figure of a bird tumbling towards the water. One for the bag, now only to retrieve it. The current in the river was slightly fast and it soon carried the bird 35-45 yards downstream, it staying all the while in the middle of the current.

Having no dog at the time it looked like I might have to go for a morning swim. But fortunately, a tree had fallen into the stream a little further on and that Woodie came to rest caught in the branches about ten to twelve yards from the water’s edge.

The trunk was wide enough to walk on, so I took off my hunting pouch and left Precious on the bank and carefully made my way out onto the makeshift “bridge”. Now as I mentioned earlier, mud and moccasins are not a good mix. When I was about half way out and the tree trunk was getting thinner, I was starting to slip and the prospect of an undesired dip into the river was looking a probability.

With a flailing of arms and a quick grab of a secure branch I was able to regain my balance. I stopped for a moment, took a few deep breaths to regain my composure and proceeded on a few more cautious steps. Reaching down I was able to retrieve my bird and throw him back onto the bank. Cautiously I turned around and with a great deal more care I made my way back along the tree trunk to the river bank, safe and sound. That Woodie was quickly stowed in my game bag and I made my way back to camp, re stoked my little fire and was soon toasting my success with a nice brew of tea.

With my spirit revitalised I again readied Precious with a fresh charge of powder and shot and moved off upstream to see if any other ducks were resting on the river’s edge. I carefully made my way along the slippery bank for a few hundred yards without sighting any ducks, I came up on to the top of the bank where I could make easier progress.

It was now easier to check a few bends that had usually carried a few birds on past hunts. Sure enough, on another fallen tree trunk in the river, a pair of teal were perched about 60 yards away. Due to the excellent lignum cover they had not seen me.

I backed out quietly and made a large loop around to their position and came up on them from a 90-degree angle. As the tree was still alive some green branches now blocked my view and I was not sure if the birds were still there. Whilst adjusting my line of sight the teal heard me and both slipped off their perch into the water and heading downstream with the current.

As they floated past where I was concealed, they soon saw what had disturbed their rest and they smartly lifted off the water. By the time I brought Precious into action they had gained some distance, so I gave some extra lead on the rear bird as I touched off the shot. Through the smoke and flame I heard a splash, but due to the range I had only winged the bird.

Quickly reloading I then moved downstream to get the follow-up shot. But the teal decided to play hide and seek and as soon as I lined it up for the coup de grace it dived under the water and going with the current it would reappear on the surface some 30-40 yards away. This game continued for about 100 – 150 yards from where the first shot had been, when finally, I was a bit quicker getting the shot off and despatching the teal.

The flow of the river was kind to me this time as it steered the bird to the water’s edge and I had only to kneel down to pick it up and pop it in my game bag. I was happy enough with two birds in the bag as I returned to base for a bite of lunch. Precious received some appropriate attention to remove black powder residue; the fire was thoroughly doused.

I proceeded home to clean the two ducks in preparation for the table at a later date; and to give Precious a proper clean for a job well done for the “last day”.

Le Reynard

Key dates for 2019

  • Easter Rendezvous Friday 19th April – ANZAC day Thursday 25th April.
  • Regent’s Birthday Fri 8th June – Monday 10th June
  • September Turkey Shoot – Sat 14th – Sunday 15th Sept.

The prospect of extending an Easter camp to include ANZAC day and then the following weekend must be exciting if you’re up to it.

Vol. 60, November 2017

Detail from “Millmerran 2017” pencil drawing by Charlie Timma

What month is it?

The regular recipients of hard-printed copies of Around the Traps were asked that delightful question “Would you happen to know what month it is” but no one knew. Really, can we all read sign I wondered? It has been a long time coming, but, finally here is the web version of Traps volume 60. Included is Graeme and Debra Forbes article on the 2017 Open Rendezvous at Millmerran. Plus, we now have our Club President’s report on our Club’s September rendezvous Great Southern Turkey Shoot. That’s two turkey shoots in one volume. Here’s the very latest from Ian…

Great Southern Turkey Shoot, Caveat, September 2017

The Club annual in-house Turkey Shoot was once again held during our September rendezvous on the Painted Pony Plains. The turkeys had been brought home from the excellent Millmerran shoot, where they received a hammering, and were now re-dressed for good looks. Nice work Peter!

The five varying profiles were propped up at five different ranges, graded from difficult to damned near impossible, as you might expect. Ranges were 18 yards, 28 yards, 34 yards, 48 and 62 yards. Each of the five contestants were allowed only one shot each at each target so that we could soon all join Charlie, the Official Scorer, at his campfire for some excellent tea or hot coffee.

The first target was the longer 62 yarder on which I alone scored. After that our Official Scorer got a trifle excited and forgot to pencil down the hits for each target. At the end of the five-shot string the situation saw Murray – 1 hit, Tom 2 hits, John 1 hit, Ian 2 hits and Peter with no score.

I must admit that the Pedersoli Mortimer is a mighty fine firearm – a very accurate rifle. As we don’t award second places, a shoot off was demanded. Under the pressure, Tom missed, while my Mortimer did not fail. me. So, in all modesty, I won the Turkey plate and get to take it back home again, still sheathed in its original collector packaging.

Ian Convey

Part of the Free Trappers camp at Millmerran Rendezvous. “Kelly” Miles with the tea kettle. John Morland photo.

The Millmerran Letter

After months of holiday deliberations, it was now time we trappers packed our wagons and headed north to rendezvous at Millmerran. Upon arrival, we trappers picked a first-rate camp site and began the set up. Club members who endured the arduous journey north were Pete, Ian, Murray, Tom, Charlie, Bob, John. Another primitive enthusiast, Kelly, a former southerner who now resides in Townsville north Queensland, was invited to set up his camp nearby and adjacent to us.

The remainder of the day was taken up with settling-in and making things comfy. The next day a long-range cartridge shoot was held; not sure about them new cartridge things but good fun could still be had, seemingly.

The following days involved some shooting, and plenty of eating, drinking and meeting up with old friends from far parts of the country. Graeme and Debra, John Gio, and Barry Mac. just some of the southerners to make the long trip north.

Our camp group was truly spoilt with Kelly taking over the cooking for the entire group. We indulged in ample servings of the most delicious meals, accompanied with equally abundant quotes from the book of PYTHON.

Trade blankets came out and the trappers seemed to have the most for sale. Ian and Pete had a fine display of their hand-made knives and other fine stuff. Charlie had hand crafted throwing “axes”, fine pewter goods and assorted quality items. There were blankets with mighty fine guns and shooting gear, even a “spity” cannon.

We were pleased to see a good number of younger families attending. Their kids given abundant opportunity to hone primitive skills indicating a secure future for the various black powder sports.

Free Trappers camp with Trade Blanket at Millmerran Rendezvous.

As part of the shooting program, each club in attendance ran a competition of their choice. The Trappers had brought their Great Southern Turkey Shoot event and targets. We set up five different targets over five stages, the ranges varying between 18 and 70 yards. Forty-two shooters entered in the competition and with some very commendable scores. But, as with all our primitive competitions, there is only one winner.

On this day, all the crack-shots were outdone and beaten by a very attractive young lady, Brianna Fitzgerald, of SSAA Queensland Ipswich branch.  In a very tight contest Brianna top scored with 12 hits out of a possible 15, winning the Southern Cross Free Trappers scrimshawed commemorative powder horn. Our congratulations to Brianna!

Saturday evening was presentations time and dance night at the old hall. The ladies looked resplendent dressed in all their glamorous fineries, while the gents hob-nobbed in tailored dress coats.

Fire brazier / buckets out the back kept everyone warm in the night chill and the hot food supplied added to the comforts. The band began playing, the dancing started and much fun was had by all, young and old alike.

Sunday came too quickly, and after a great week it was time to break camp and consider the long-haul home to Victoria.  Farewells were exchanged before heading homeward with warm memories of Millmerran. A most enjoyable time, that’s RENDEZVOUS!

John Morland

Ol’ Zeke – Hurried loading properly – This may help!

“I wish to caution the rifleman never to be in too great a hurry in loading and firing. I have found one shot in a minute as much as I could fire to keep myself steady, and to perform every motion methodically; and let him rest assured, as a general principle, that loading properly is much more advantageous than loading expeditiously.”

Ezekiel Baker – “Baker’s Remarks on the rifle”, eleventh edition, London 1835.

Hullo smoke signals, almost primitive! Photo by Tattler.


During a rare quiet spell at the Millmerran Rondy, one intrepid traveller was overheard remarking “We was ripped off again”. Seems while motoring north, this pair of travel-weary Trappers were conned – by a 14-year-old, into taking the most expensive 2 room suite at a Coonabarabran motel. Rumours?

That certain banjo picker also seemed accident prone, breaking several camp chairs, an antler handled kettle, and would you believe, his fine store-bought teeth. Then had the nerve to blame Kelly’s extra fine jerky.

Some light-hearted amusement was had when Tom produced his primitive “stereo viewer”. (a wooden guy rope tensioner with two holes). Some were conned to take a view and mirth was all around. Charlie, sketching busily, had the last words “You Flaming idiot”. But no-one sneaked up on the left.

Meanwhile, Bob “I’m on blood thinners.” “I’m on blood thinners.” “I’m on blood thinners.” Bloody hell, what on earth was all that about?

Primitive camp detail drawing of Southern Cross Free Trappers camp by Charlie Timma, retired school teacher, artist, gold prospector, champion axe thrower, rough camper, self-proclaimed tongue in cheek, and arguably, God’s gift to muzzle loading.

Millmerran Review Bonus Pages:

Recently received an Email from Graeme Forbes, well known Pedersoli dealer and black powder supplier –

“No doubt some of the other pilgrims will write a report about Millmerran but Debra wrote this for our new website under construction, if you want to use this go for it.”

Now, thanks to Graeme and Debra, we provide their photos and tales of this key event.


Once again we attended the 2017 Open Rendezvous (I am one of the very few to have never missed this event since it started) at the SSAA Captains Mountain shooting complex, (near Millmerran QLD), around 485 hectares of largely cypress pine scrub and forest land with shooting ranges all around the property, ranges for shotgun, pistol and rifle out to 1300 metres, there are plenty of kangaroos and emu’s living on the site, these residents are used to the constant shooting activities around the complex, even with bullets whizzing overhead they just keep eating the grass.

Entry to The Range (Photo taken by Jan Robinson)
On The Line (Photo taken by Jan Robinson)

We had purchased a new tin tepee, well fiberglass, and this was its maiden voyage. The previous caravan was a bit low to the ground and didn’t like sliding into some of the places we needed to take it when free camping.

At the notorious kangaroo killing zone in the bushland around Coonabarabran, we were struck by one. Fortunately for us it missed the car and the new van, but wiped off one of the storage boxes riding on the draw bar before the van.

We set up camp opposite Gordon Ancona and his partner Deb with a shared fire between, Other Victorians, John Giotopoulos (Gio for short), Des McCormack and Barry Macfarlane set up a day camp nearby. And some 10 Southern Cross Free Trappers from Victoria set up camp in the primitive area circling their fire with the camps and many a very good night was had visiting that camp.

Southern Cross Free Trappers nestled in the primitive area
White canvas living

The events started out with the Queensland Cannon & Coehorn Mortar State Championships on the first Saturday, this year I missed the event as I couldn’t find enough space to take my Cannon

Sunday saw a cartridge rifle event with a “5 at 200” shoot following the Pedersoli format of tightest group wins, there was one worthy group spoiled by one flier which would have otherwise been a group worthy of submitting for the Pedersoli sponsored award. Everyone had fun doing it regardless of their performance on the day.

Later in the day the next event was a “Buffalo Shoot” with targets from 200 to 600 metres, many shooters were surprised at the interval between firing the shot and the sound of a hit (or lack of sound if you missed) on the life sized buffalo at 600 metres, after this a handful of shooters moved back to try to hit the same target at 1000 metres, there weren’t that many hits on the target.

Don Robinson came by our camp to say hello and goodbye as he was off to Ireland to shoot in the World Gallery Rifle Championships. Our mouths were agog as dear Jan was still in a moon boot healing from her badly broken ankle. We were all assured that plenty of help had been lined up for Jan and all will be well.

Normally on Monday evenings the fire lighting competitions are held with the junior winners lighting the welcome bonfire, however this year rain late on the Monday forced the delay until Tuesday.

Bonfire alight
Community coming together around the bonfire

The rest of the week was spent with 4 to 6 hours of muzzle loading events each day (if you wanted to shoot all day you could), the 7 am cannon shot roused the camp and indeed anyone within about 5 km radius and you could shoot until the range officer got thirsty if you wanted to.

Events included “Flying Fox” a steel fox profile travelling far too fast across a 10 metre gap, I only hit 1 from 10, the winner managed 7, the “Hole in the Wall” a steel plate at around 30 metres with two key hole shaped apertures with a “flapper” which spun when hit.

A very difficult target, especially as the light changed over the face of the target, the shots which did not go through the hole changed the plate to a rather uniform lead grey colour so to actually see the hole you were trying to put a ball through was extremely difficult, I hit 4 from 12, the winner managed 9 from 12.

Another event was “Pop up Turkey”, two turkey heads which appear from behind a log for a 5 second exposure, either can appear once you call “Gobble Gobble and start walking, sometimes two appear simultaneously so you need to be quick, I have won this event with a perfect score in the past including the tie breaking shoot off but this time only managed 5 from 10, so sad!

Rifle gongs was next, steel shapes hanging from a support in various sizes from relatively large discs about 200 mm down to a block of steel about 50 mm square 10 shots to count, the winner got them all but most others struggled to hit the smallest target at all, there were also musket gongs at varying ranges but restricted to smoothbore flintlock’s in military calibres mostly .69 or .75.

These events went on most days and there were club hosted shoots every afternoon to provide a diversity of events for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday saw pistol and revolver events contested with flintlock and percussion single shot pistols and cap and ball revolvers and a shotgun shoot for a bit of extra fun.

The last day saw shotgun again but a bit easier this time even though even the top shooters had some difficulty with targets disappearing amongst trees before you could get a shot at them but it was a challenging shoot all round.

We all missed Lily and Pascal Carre this year unable to come due to illness. We know that missing the Millmerran Rendezvous is something they would not do unless totally unavoidable. Our love and best wishes go to Lily for a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you next years Fraser Coast Rondy.

Alan Clegg shooting at rifle gongs
Buffalo Shoot, Tom Jeffries in front

Other off range events included the campfire cooking competitions on the Tuesday.

There were 3 categories of Breads/Damper, main course or meat dishes and finally sweet dishes. The judges this year were Dawn Evans and Johnny Gio. Debra has won the bread making in previous years so decided to try meat dish this year. She made an oven baked duck breast served with mashed potato and star anise sauce. Total failure. She started too late, the duck was barely cooked, the potato lumpy and the sauce lacked something. So, back to the drawing board for next time.
Photo : Judges – Dawn Evans & John Gio

The knife and hawk events were run using a target block cut from an Ironbark tree, if your equipment was not extremely sharp it just bounced out of the log, a big challenge for participants.

The High Tea Luncheon at “The Shoppe” was very well supported and judged a great success by those who attended it. Bobby Ellis managed to find an exquisite antique Country Rose side plate and cup set in an Opportunity Shop to show off his High Tea skills at the luncheon.

Barry Macfarlane arranged an afternoon of practice dancing in the hall on the Friday afternoon when things were a bit quiet on the range. Debra found her waltzing twinkle toes were still able to twinkle in spite of being married to my not movable dancing feet for so many years. Barry gave lessons in the Modern Waltz to John Gio and Norm and Rita who were amazing. Debra and Barry gave a demonstration of the Cha Cha

Vivien Young was there with her wool and felt helping people make hats, other small garments and dyeing the wool. Vivien donated a considerable stock of wools to the crafting group and Wendy Boorman who can be seen here with a loom.

Wendy Boorman on her loom
Some of the exquisite items entered into the craft competition.

On the Saturday most of us with tin tepee’s and the like decamped to the area close to the Green Room and the Dance Hall ready for grand finale of presentations and the bush dance.

The Bush Dance is a favourite with most attendees, you don’t need to know how to dance as is evidenced by the video clip uploaded on the Queensland Rendezvous Facebook page., this link should provide you with some entertainment.

At one point at the end of one dance Gordo seemed to fall, but no, he fooled us all. He was down on one knee proposing engagement to his Deb complete with a beautiful engagement ring. Fortunately, Deb said yes, or the night would have been a bit awkward. And to round the evening off for Deb she not only won her man, she won the best dressed female for the evening.

Ridgee Didge Band
Ron Evans announcing the Dip Stick Award

And finally, the last award of the night was the Dip Stick award as presented by Ron Evans. There were lively contenders this year but in the end only one winner. Ian Pilcher. Ian had for the second rendezvous in a row left behind his shooter license. So, for the second rendezvous in a row he had to have the license express posted to Millmerran so he could compete. Even Ian recognized he deserved this most prestigious award.

Special mention needs to be made of Jan Robinson and her team of helpers. From all accounts, the entire 10 days ran very smoothly and with Jan, sans Don, in her moon boot directing from the side is be to complimented for all her efforts. Thank you, Jan, and team Robinson.

All in all, we had shining times and we will be back next time in two years to catch up on all our old and new friends.
We will also attend the 2018 Fraser Coast Rendezvous next July.

Graeme & Debra Forbes

Trading since 1983, Forbes Wholesale proudly imports and distributes quality firearms, accessories and spare parts for target shooting disciplines.

Vol. 59, June 2017

The Free Trappers will host their Great Southern Turkey Shoot for flintlocks and caplocks at Millmerran.

A group of Free Trapper stalwarts have planned for several months to attend the Millmerran Rendezvous in strength this year – a trek close to 1000 miles (in old speak) for several. Seven or eight hivernants plan that travel in a random mule train with several side paths investigated along route, then dinkum primitive camping for the whole event.

Visitor clubs are encouraged to put on an event of their own, so the SCFT have decided to transfer our Great Southern Turkey Shoot to enlighten Queensland pilgrims on how it is done.

Five differing steel pop up / fall over turkey targets will be positioned at varying distances between 20 and 60 yards. Trappers will run the event and score and have much fun doing so and ensuring that the judge’s decisions are final. Peter Convey has made the targets to represent the different angles that a turkey might show itself. Ian Convey is responsible for the wonderful paint job bringing these turkeys to life; but the contestants will be required to attempt their own life-like imitation turkey gobble-gobble sounds. There’s some fun and giggle for everyone.

There is only one winner in a true primitive shoot. Our winner receives a magnificent powder horn made and scrimshawed by Ian Convey and commemorating “Millmerran 2017”.

Don’t ya wanna have fun no more?

Great Southern Turkey Shoot winner gets this nice commemorative powder horn with scrimshaw by Ian Convey.

Easter Rendezvous 2017

Barely more than a handful of Hivernants attended our Easter rondyvoo! Four members of the Convey clan, being Peter, Noah, Murray and Ian were joined by Charlie Timma and Matt McMurrich to erect camps on Friday and set to gathering a sufficient supply of firewood.

On Saturday morning Charlie rolled up his single blanket, picked up his smoothbore and headed off for the duck ponds. Hard to get past the wood duck sentries, but Charlie somehow managed it and downed two plump woodies. Next was the hard part of retrieval as both birds dropped in the middle of the dam. Nothing for it but for Charlie to strip off and swim. Charlie swears that the farm dam is both deep and very cold, you better believe.  Methinks he needs to get himself a companion retriever dog. (Oh, he probably needed a bath anyway! – Ed)

We put up targets after breakfast, filling a dozen empty GOEX cans with water and set up some wooden blocks that Peter had cut. Matt spent a good part of the day shooting and sighting in his new 54 cal flinter. We watched the ball inching up the target as he filed the foresight down, an accurate rifle it be. Matt is in love with it. The afternoon was spent plinking at various targets as we fancied.

On Saturday evening, we gathered in the open-faced shelter and a surprise birthday cake was produced to celebrate Murray’s 60th. Of course, it had the correct number of candles for Murray to blow out after we all embarrassed him with a robust rendition of the Happy Birthday song.

Next morning Charlie was up early again, this time fox hunting with his 12ga. He successfully whistled up and bagged a fat vixen having a rather nice pelt. Peter and Noah went duck hunting, Peter leaves Noah to it and returns to camp, Noah arrives back in camp about one and a half hours later, says he stalked woodies on the dam, jumped them for a shot and had a flash in the pan, those ducks didn’t hang around for a reprime.

Mid-morning, we shot the GOEX cans of water. Disappointingly there was no spectacular explosions of water, only neat entrance holes and fist sized exits. We surmised that for the effects of exploding cans one would require modern high velocity suppository rifles.

The rest of the day was spent just talking, eating, drinking coffee and some folk having a nanny nap (Peter & Charlie the poor old darlings). Come Monday morning, we all packed up and departed, a good time was had by all.

Watch yer top knot.  Ian Convey

Lead shrinkage

When casting round ball, lead shrinkage due to cooling is 6 thou to the inch. Thus, a single cavity ball mould of 2.515” should cast a 2.5 inch round ball. There’s no real need to know that, but I just thought I’d tell ya. Stocks of smaller, more popular sized round ball, shrink the more you shoot, as you do wanna have fun blasting away at targets up the range. Damn me if I don’t miss the smell of that black powder burning as I write this nonsense.

Well I missed the Trappers Easter Rendezvous for the very first time, due to some problems with my other shooter. The years are taking their toll dammit. Even so I had decided I needed to take a short sabbatical from collating newsletter doings. So, I am again grateful to Ian for his report and photos on the Easter encampment on the Painted Pony Plains.


Of course, we won’t mention that Carole King song “Up on the Roof” that the Drifters turned into a popular classic about the 1970’s. New statistics indicate that folks beyond the 70’s be well advised against mounting anything higher than a painted rocking-horse saddle.

This vixen fell to a single blast from Charlie’s 12 gauge.
Two candles – a 6 and an 0. Yes, a big Oh! Murray celebrates his 60th.

Coming Soon

Millmerran Open Rendezvous   July 1st – 9th 2017 featuring Great Southern Turkey Shoot for both Flinters and Caplocks. Win a fabulous scrimshawed powder horn by Ian Convey.

Hawkey shares a Pipe

In response to our entreaty about a “Pipe brand” knife (Around the Traps, Vol 54 November 2015) I received a letter with photographs from Peter Hawkey, an avid collector of Pipe brand knives from Katoomba NSW, dated November 2015. Perhaps better known as just Hawkey, he is well known to charcoal burners and serious re-enactors throughout Australia.

Peter wrote…“Read with much interest the last issue of “Around the Traps”, particularly the bit about the Pipe marked knives. I enclose 2 photos of same, the upper knife a butcher and the lower a “scalper”.

…The Pipe trade mark is not limited to one company, but many makers copied it in the hope of increased sales on the back of the famous mark.

…T. Williams of Smithfield was only one retailer selling the knives retail and wholesale. The London company who actually made the knives varied as did the shape and size of the “Pipe Mark”.

Two of Peter Hawkey’s Pipe Brand knives. The early Butcher has 5 steel pins while the scalper has 3 pins.

…The fact there are 5 small diameter iron pins in the handle and no country of origin stamp makes them early as does the London stamp as Sheffield eclipsed London by the early 1800’s, and no orders were going to London as they weren’t industrial enough to produce the volume needed.

…3 iron pins superseded the 5, then brass pins after that, along with country of origin common by 1900. I have collected “Pipe” marked knives for years and agree they make a superb sheath knife. Cheers.”   Peter Hawkey

Spring Rondy Sept 16th – 17th

Our original Primitive weekend still going strong and now including our 2nd Annual Turkey Shoot at Bernard’s Cache.

Vol. 58, March 2017

Black Powder Blues

We experienced another hot summer, although Victoria was kept mostly green by some good showers seemingly fortnightly. Still, black powder burning remains a no-no all summer long. Campfires are generally frowned upon at the same time. Consequently, there has been bugger-all happening on the Club scene, apart from a brief attempt to eradicate bracken ferns encroaching through the slab walls of all facilities.

So, with no camps and no shoots, we asked Club President Ian Convey for a blow by blow description of how he resurrected the wall hanger featured in our Vol 57 story “Sad Times”. As a fill-in I’ve included my version of Sam Hall written under previous threat of government gun confiscation. I’ve waffled on about other things, but hopefully have struck a chord with most readers. Me thinks we all need to get to a rondyvoo. And soon!

Hand forged Tomahawk and bead work by Chris Erickson

Beads ‘n’ Blades

Chris Erickson kindly supplied our feature photo this edition and I’ve been meaning to catch up with him for a chat and to hopefully view and photograph more of his work. He is a multi-talented artisan as we will show if I can just manage to visit at a suitable time. Keep an eye out for more of Chris’ work in future Around the Traps.


Down at the Western Districts Muzzleloader club there is a signpost to “Immigrant’s Lane”. All those who have attended a WDMLC “Wet to the Arse” shoot will vouch for the historic tales of this event. The passing of years seems to add to the flavour.

Now I’m here to tell there’s nothing boring about history. For many, in our youth it was just the teaching styles to our basic learning, where the important element was to remember dates, simply dates, damn dates. You know 1066, 1788 and all that crap.? Just bloody boring dates. Who cares? What about the fighting, the weapons and their development, long bows, cannon, flintlocks, the leaders, the soldiers, the blood and guts? We were protected from all the bleeding and gore, the ransacking, the rape and the pillaging. Sanitised and we didn’t have a clue. Bugger!

America’s turbulent history was not even on our Australian state school’s itinerary. So I remained rather ignorant of all the stuff that I now never tire of learning. I thought Lewis and Clarke were merely trekking unexplored territory of America, populated by the indigenous Indians.  I hadn’t realised that they were actually trekking on foreign soil. Spanish soil! This land is my land / your land, from California….

It wasn’t always thus. Even as late as 1840 (our declared cut-off date), the far West was foreign soil. Hmmn, I’ll get into trouble if I say too much here. Actually, I’m no historian or scholar. I just wanna shoot more black powder. That’d be great! 

Making of the Wall-hanger

I was talking to the Chookster on the phone one evening when he happened to mention that he had bought a derelict percussion shotgun just for its ebony ramrod. He explained the condition of the old gun, suggesting that it might once have been a quality shotgun but was now just junk. Unseen, I felt that perhaps it might be deserving of one last chance to be saved, if only as a wall hanger.

So it was arranged that at the next rendezvous Chook would bring all the bits and pieces and let me have a look at it and see what could be done. A hessian bag was duly presented and when the contents were sighted, I thought “Shit, this is much worse than I anticipated.” But a challenge is just that and so I took the parts home.

After the sorry sight had sat in the corner of the shed for a fortnight I thought that I had better have a go at it so the gun was collected and examined more closely. First thing was to disassemble all the parts for treatment, no small task as all the screws were badly corroded and did not want to budge. So I gave them all a good smack on the head with a brass drift and dosed them liberally with WD40.

Two days later I attacked the screws, recutting the slots “carefully” with my trusty Dremel tool. Then having clamped the stock in the padded vice the screws were wriggled back and forth with a tight fitting screwdriver until I managed to extract them all. All but one! There is always one – known as Murphy`s law No.3. So out with the oxy set fitted with the smallest tip, I heated the head of the screw, after having made a heat shield out of sheet metal to protect the wood. Eureka! It came out!

All the steel parts (except the barrel and under rib) were set to soaking in a molasses solution to remove the rust. The barrel was then examined and the first priority was to check that it did not hold a charge of powder. The ramrod came up 3 inches short of the breech plug, so I concluded “the bloody thing is loaded!” I then propped it up in the corner of the shed with the breech sitting in a tin can and filled the barrel and the can with Penetrene.

After a fortnight I poured out the Penetrene and clamped the barrel in the vice. With a wad-worm on a cleaning rod I tried to screw it into what I assumed would be an overshot card or wad. Surprised, all that I retrieved was a broken wad worm that had been residing there. I couldn’t extract anything else, so out came a 3/8” ramrod drill and slowly I drilled in about ½” expecting to find a shot column, but all that I got was mud.

Further drilling to the breech face produced more mud, no wads or shot or gunpowder, just mud.

All the metal parts were washed, descaled with emery cloth and/or steel wool and oiled. Before oiling, the under rib was glued back onto the barrel, as due to the condition of both, any attempt to solder was quite out of the question.

A huge split

The walnut stock was in a very sorry condition. The fore-end had a huge split running from the lock inlet to the ramrod entry pipe and quite a bit of the wood had rotted or crumbled away. I scrubbed off all the rotting wood and dirt. Next the split and the gaps in the fore-end were filled and re-joined with Acraglas (as recommended by the late Kit Ravenshear) and dyed brown and reinforced with a tailored fabric strip in the barrel channel to hold it all together.

On hardening, the Acraglas was filed and sanded to shape, and then the stock liberally painted with a 50/50 mixture of kerosene and boiled linseed oil. This was buffed with fine steel wool the next day and then several coats of boiled linseed oil were rubbed in over a number of days.

To replace the missing / lost parts I made a replacement barrel wedge and a pewter escutcheon for the wedge slot to the right-hand side of the stock. I also fashioned a pewter fore-end cap.

Finally, the old relic was reassembled. The lock actually functioned after clean up, except that the main spring was broken, so it was left out. When all assembled and oiled-up it looked as good as new. Really! Well, if you squinted both eyes and stood 10 metres away it didn`t look too bad.

As first displayed in Vol 57 and still looking great on the wall.

One thing I noticed on the butt stock on the left side in the grip area was that the wood had been worn/rubbed away leaving an obvious depression, consistent with resting on something that was constantly moving such as the pommel of a saddle or the seat or cargo of a dray. It raises many questions that we will never know the answers to.

Anyway, it makes a nice gunroom wall-hanger and conversation piece. Imagine the hunting stories it might tell if only it could talk too!

Ian Convey


“I wish to caution the rifleman never to be in too great a hurry in loading and firing. I have found one shot in a minute as much as I could fire to keep myself steady, and to perform every motion methodically; and let him rest assured, as a general principle, that loading properly is much more advantageous than loading expeditiously.” Ezekiel Baker – Baker’s Remarks on the rifle.

Sam Hall – 1997

The song “Sam Hall” is a Traditional one of uncertain origins and numerous versions. This tongue-in-cheek arrangement inspired by Prime Minister John Howard’s 1996-1997 so-called “Gun Buyback” regularly touted by the green Left to have made Australia a safer place. Yet in spite of tax payers millions paid out and the wasteful destruction of many fine sporting arms, the firearm crime rate continues to escalate, as evidenced in our daily media. Johnny Cash did a much shorter tribute to his Sam Hall.


Oh my name it is Sam Hall, Rifleman, Rifleman

Oh my name it is Sam Hall, Rifleman

Oh my name it is Sam Hall and I’ve shot full bore and small

And I’ve never missed at all, that’s the truth, I swear it ain’t no lie

And I’ve never missed at all, but maybe that’s a lie.


Well my father taught me well, yes he did, yes he did

Well my father taught me well, oh yes he did

Well my father taught me well and it’s here I am to tell

That gun and soul you never sell, proud and free, proud and free

That gun and soul you never sell, stay proud and free.


Now I keep my powder dry, cap and ball, cap and ball

Now I keep my powder dry, cap and ball

Now I keep my powder dry, I’ve steady hand and keenness of eye

For my country I would die, Southern Cross, Southern Cross

For my country I would die, Southern Cross.


Then I dressed up in my skins, Rendezvous, Rendezvous

Then I dressed up in my skins, Rendezvous,

Then I dressed up in my skins with my tipi and some tins

Oh God, forgive my sins, break the bread, pass the wine

Dear God, forgive my sins, pass the wine.


I have forty ball in store, but that’s not all, that’s not all

I have forty ball in store, but that’s not all

I have forty ball in store and I’ll cast four hundred more

With mould and leaden ore, cast them bright, cast them bright

With mould and leaden ore, cast them bright.


Now I’ve shot cartridge, ball and more, yes indeed, yes indeed

Now I’ve shot cartridge, ball and more, yes indeed

Now I’ve shot cartridge, ball and more, from three o three to fifty-four

And cannon to protect our shore, raise the flag, protect our flag

And cannon to protect our shore, save our flag.


But the Government wants my gun, Amnesty, Amnesty

But the Government wants my gun, Amnesty

But the Government wants my gun when no crime have I done

If I yield I’ll soon have none, freedom gone, freedom gone

If I yield I’ll soon have none, my freedom gone.


We will have a safer place, Johnny says, Johnny says

We will have a safer place, Mister Howard says

But we’ll have a safer place for invasion by another race

No defence for our home base, that’s no joke, that’s no joke

No defence for our home base, and that’s no joke


I will give up my self-loading gun, my fears high, fears high

I will give up my self-loading gun, my fears high

I will give up my self-loading gun but no never another one

Now I’m all said and done, here I stand, here I stand

Now I’m all said and done, I’ve made my stand.


Well my name it is S a m u e l, S a m u e l, S a m u e l

My name it is S a m u e l, S a m u e l

I said my name is S-a-m-u-e-l and I’ll see you all in hell

Before another gun I’ll sell, durn your hide, blast your eyes

There’s no other gun I’ll sell, damn yer hide.


Samuel Hall, damn yer hide!


Adjusting your sights

This subject sometimes confuses both new chum and regular old timers. It needn’t do, but I’ve experienced it, and to save lots of head scratching I plucked these few lines from one or other magazine where the experts congregate monthly. I made copies for each of my shooting boxes so that the brain scratching hair loss is kept to a minimum.

Adjust the rear sight in the direction that you want the round ball group to move. In other words, if your rifle is shooting groups to the left of where you are aiming, you will want to move the group to the right. Move the rear sight to the right and your group will follow.

The same applies to any direction. Move the rear sight higher and the gun puts its bullets higher. Move the rear sight down and the group moves down. Move the sight left and the bullets move left. This rule is universal and applies to smooth-bores shooting round ball as well as to rifles. The rule to remember is this: The bullet group follows the movement of the rear sight. So what’s the rule if your smooth bore has no rear sight?

“Show us yer tins!”


Remember when Goex powder was $28 to $32 per one-pound tin? Well I can! About that time Pioneer brand was selling for $50 per kg and that had us all scuttling for a calculator with a 2.205 x key. Around about 1974 our president bought a can of Goex with original price tag of just $ 8.00.  He can’t remember it being so cheap, but he is getting on in years. Back then 500 gram tins of Curtis’s and Harvey powder was still available if you could sniff it out. Price? Well, damned if I can remember either.

The great GOEX can explosion

Now GOEX powder has not been readily available in the land of Oz for many a year. As private stocks have become severely depleted, what to do with the excess empty GOEX cans we seem to be accumulating lately? Shoot ’em up that’s what! Fill them with water, screw lid down tight, clear the firing line, shoot plumb centre, and watch them explode in meteorite like showers of water vapour. Fun? You bet!!


Easter camp 2017 April 14th to 17th   –  Enjoy Autumn camping at its very best.

Winter Quarters   Queen’s B’day w/e June 10, 11, & Mon 12th   More days of fun.

Millmerran Open Rendezvous   July 1st – 9th   Really, how much fun can you take?

Spring Rondyvoo Sept 16th – 17th   Our original Primitive weekend still going strong. 2nd Annual Great Southern Turkey Shoot. Start practising for our best gobbler comp.


Guess who had to buy a new sump protector plate for his BitsRmissing ute after coming to a crashing halt stalled atop a massive rock hidden in the ferns. Yep you’re right it was … Oh but Tattler can’t tell.  Happened on a much earlier firewood foray and he hoped to keep it quiet, but the cat was out of the bag when he disclosed the price of an upmarket replacement. You ask!


Although fees for 2017-2018 have been waived, members must advise our Treasurer they are continuing with club membership for P.L. insurance purposes. A brief Email confirmation to Bob Ellis will do the trick

Don’t let people with no life take control of your life – Come to rendezvous!

Vol. 57, November 2016

Great Southern Turkey Shoot

Mountain men, Trappers, Flatlanders, Voyagers, Woodsmen and Longhunters gathered together for our inaugural Great Southern Turkey Shoot. Well it wasn’t planned to be as such and I’ll admit only the club stalwarts had gathered. It’s just that we had so much fun at this Eastern style shoot, we straightaway decided it should continue each September. Like, put a turkey in the freezer for Thanksgiving. Peter Convey had hatched out a veritable flock of steel turkey targets and painted them up a treat. No bloody use in the freezer but really good fun to shoot.

Competitors were to cull their Thanksgiving dinner from five differing steel cut-out turkey shapes of varying sizes representing differing ranges. A maximum of three shots were allowed for each target with points scored on hits. A one shot kill gained 10 points, if a second shot was needed the points dropped to five, while if a third shot was required only one point was allotted – if a hit. Got that? I’m not writing it again!

Only head shots and body vitals shots counted. Tail feathers consisted of rubber mock ups that didn’t ring true and so scored didly squat. As is often the case, Murphy was there to ensure that otherwise slick operating flinters suddenly become troublesome, or failed completely; so one dead (out of the comp hunter), and others struggling! Flintlocks are pure fun and asking shooters to simulate turkey yelps augments that fun.

Overall winner was Tom Jefferies scoring 40 – four tens followed by three misses on the last target. Duh! The Convey brothers did quite well also, Ian and Murray both on 31, Peter on 30. Chook was a very close last – again!

We might all have done better with a smoothbore but only rifles were permitted for this event. Tom won a huge porcelain turkey platter, a few slaps on the back and a wee dram. Special thanks must go to Peter Convey for organising this wild turkey clutch. This was a superb event. Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Tom wins the turkey shoot
Tom wins the Turkey Shoot

Later in the afternoon we contrived a Can Push with a Twist. There’s always something lively about a can push event. it’s a real hoot to watch those cans fly after a good hit. This time we decided to use cans of differing sizes. Cans were numbered on the base and participants drew from a pack of cards for their allotted number.

Our President drew a 500-gram coffee can – the largest can in the herd. Ian could count all the hits easily but they barely moved that oversize can forward two inches. Jenny drew the smallest can and promptly sent it flying sideways, over the fence and Out! Backyard cricket rules! John Morland’s accurate shooting was driving his standard size can many yards up the range; he did that enough times to win a large block of plain primitive wrapped chocolate.

Our Saturday night party was one of the liveliest we’ve seen in a while. Ian was on lead guitar, Judy playing her ukulele and Murray joined in on banjo while a random miscellaneous chorus kept raising a ruckus till late.

An interlude of hot crunchy damper, dark plum jam and cream, whilst 100 yards up the hill the burning windrow flared and sparked into the frosty night air. A somewhat poor substitute for those older pilgrims who still savour fond memories of Guy Fawkes night with fiercely burning bonfires, sky rockets, Catherine wheels, Jumping Jacks and threepenny bungers. Oh, but the latter can still be fashioned on short call.


Remember, remember the fifth of November

The gunpowder, treason and plot,

I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.


(Traditional English Rhyme – 17th Century)

Camp oven with coals on lid
Camp oven with coals on lid.

The Well-Travelled Camp Oven

So there I was trekking the lounge room Wiki trail, seeking a clear path of historic info on my Camp oven. Now camp ovens are also called Dutch ovens and by various other names; like Bedourie oven – supposedly an Australian term, but seemingly known by this name only to a smattering of pilgrims in far north Queensland.

Anyway I was amazed to learn that the Dutch (Camp) oven was the official State cooking pot of Utah. Wow, now there’s recognition for ya! The “Official Pot” by golly! Further exploration uncovered similar State tributes from Texas and Arkansas.

I hurried along a side trail seeking if we Victorians had an “official” cooking vessel. But no sign! Well surely to goodness there is an official national pot for Australia? Like, I can read sign dammit, yet there was absolutely none! Could it be that “our pot” was jettisoned in far north Queensland along with six of the Endeavour’s cannon?

All I found were references to EBay and Gumtree adverts of various ovens “For Sale”. Fancy selling off family cast iron history I thought. We should have an Official Rendezvous pot I thought. We can work on that! Well I’ll admit to having these crazy ideas at times. Anyhow, here is some stuff I learned travelling on the cast iron trail.

In 1997 Utah State Legislature designated the Dutch Oven as the State Cooking Pot. Utah conducts an annual World Championship Dutch Oven Cook-off – a major event. Apparently most Utahans consider Dutch ovens as indispensable and cook with them on a regular daily/weekly basis. The competition at the Cook-off is bound to be fierce!

Wiki* tells us “Explorers like Jim Bridger and Peter Skene Ogden used the kettle versions on the trail, but appreciated the standard three-legged, flat top with a rim version when they wintered in.  Mountain men who rendezvoused in Cache Valley in the 1820’s used them and Osborne Russell in his Journal of a Trapper writes about how much they appreciated having some greasy, Grizzly bear meat to cook because the cast-iron pots needed re-seasoning after boiling roots for meals the previous eleven days.”           *

“Pioneer trains gearing up near Independence, Missouri were given a list of essentials with the Dutch oven at the top of the list. The people-powered handcart companies chose to include the heavy pots for their long pull to Utah and the miners digging in the canyons around Bingham, Price and Cedar City counted the black pots almost as essential as their picks.”

“The ovens were so valuable that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries frequently spelled out the desired inheritor. For example, Mary Ball Washington (mother of President George Washington) specified in her will, dated 20 May 1788, that one-half of her “iron kitchen furniture” should go to her grandson, and the other half to a granddaughter. This bequest included several Dutch ovens.”

“Westward bound settlers took Dutch ovens with them. A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804–1806. Nowadays it is considered a unique and generational bonding experience for families to gather around a campfire after a meal from the same kind of Camp (Dutch) ovens and tell of the history and stories about their pioneer ancestors.”

Personally, my salute goes to Jim Walker’s slow-cooked camp-oven roast – washed down with a fine quality red.



Trappers pay tribute to Pedersoli guns on taking out 45 medals at the twenty eighth MLAIC World Championships held in Hungary. Our photo features three Pedersoli Mortimer’s seen at our Great Southern Turkey Shoot event. Top rifle’s barrel has been shortened 5”. Centre rifle fitted with custom pewter nose cap, Lower gun is fitted with shot gun barrel. All three have custom hand-rubbed oiled finish to stocks.

Three Pedersoli Mortimer’s
Three Pedersoli Mortimer’s

Note:- The complete Pedersoli range of good shootin’ stuff can be sourced locally, contact Graeme Forbes, phone 03 9439 6111 – see our Trapper’s Trading Post advert.


Charlie has been known to flavour the truth, just as he stretches each tea-bag to the limits for flavour, leaving the same steeped for many cups. Twenty cups from a single bag just might be possible. So we were all sitting comfortably by the fire in the open-faced shelter, Charlie in his usual possie on three legged stool near to the elements, the lull in conversation suddenly shattered by sounds akin to violent spewing. Charlie’s tea-leaf spitting and spluttering “My tea-bag just shit itself” had everyone in hysterics.

Sad Times

It had stood safely in the corner of the shed for years! Broken out sporadically for special occasions, like Duck Opening, or to dispatch a marauding fox in the hen house. Then the old man died! After which the protective oil gradually dried out exposing the metal to moist air, then rust. Slowly the moisture seeped into the quality walnut stock as the rot set in. It’s enough to make strong men and women cry. Borrow your hanky?

Showing years of neglect - Original 19c muzzle loader, stock with lock, rib with thimbles, barrel & ramrod.
Showing years of neglect – Original 19c muzzle loader, stock with lock, rib with thimbles, barrel & ramrod.

Our Volume 56 featured the notification picture of an original smoothbore back-action cap lock in relic condition. It was rusted something chronic, seized up lock and triggers, rotting stock crumbling along the barrel channel. Barrel wedge and escutcheons were completely missing, a rusted entry thimble somehow clung to the stock and there was evidence there had once been a nose cap. It looked like scrap junk!

Ever had one of those days when you feel ready for the scrapheap? Me too! Perhaps that is why I was drawn to this fowling wreck? A conversation piece in which I could see perhaps some wall-hanger quality remained. The gun had been built with cast off that suited me to a tee. The badly pitted barrel was held on by duct tape but the gun still came up to shoulder looking straight over the tube. Modern off-the-shelf guns often lack that feature together with any old charm or charisma. Patina – just love it!

I made the owner an offer, it wasn’t much; I didn’t need a scrap iron wall piece. But there was, until now, an undisclosed tenacity in my bid. It was the gun’s tapered ramrod! Its fitted iron tip had originally contained a covered patch worm but that had all rusted to mere fragments. The belled brass fitting had survived in reasonable shape.

However, the rod itself, made of fine ebony, remains in pristine condition. A testimony to quality timber! It was this slim stick of dark wood that had me hooked. I paid for that rusty wall decorator without batting an eye. Whooping all the way home!


It would look good over any mantel; wouldn’t you say? The wall-hanger after a resurrection by Ian Convey.
It would look good over any mantel; wouldn’t you say? The wall-hanger after a resurrection by Ian Convey.

2017 Events

Trappers Easter camp April 14th – 17th at Bernard’s Cache.

Trapper’s Winter Quarters, Queen’s Birthday weekend June 10, 11, & Mon 12th

July 1st – 9th Rendezvous at Captain’s Mountain, Millmerran, Queensland.

September 16th & 17th.  Our Traditional Victorian spring rendezvous weekend.

Don’t ya wanna have fun no more?

Our very first “Around the Traps” newsletter issued in November 2006, now ten years later we reach volume 57. Can you believe it: 10 years and 57 volumes of club doings, talking history, tattler tales, half-truths, good shoots and having lots of fun making history of our own?

Congratulations to all contributors far and wide, and to all Free Trappers on a full decade of sharing the pleasures in picture and print. Thanks to those who responded on our web page, also to our many silent supporters; we invite you all to continue to share our enthusiasm for the black powder shooting sports – re-enacting a bygone era.

Season’s Greetings, safe and happy festivities and a very Merry Christmas to all.

Vol. 56, August 2016

Farmers Mostly

It should have been our 12th anniversary Winter Quarters camp and the serious hivernants were all set to brave the chills of the central Highlands once again. Then came a last minute Post Rider with news of floods and wet and muddy conditions. Our farmer host avowed the tracks were unsuitable for diesel donkeys and mules alike. After all, the event is a rondyvoo, not a 4WD mud bash – that is for our scouting friends over yonder on the next door property.

Incredibly, for the past nine years the weather on our Winter Quarters camps had been delightfully mild. Oh, but the expected chilly nights while frosty mornings slowly melting into superb mild winter days of sunshine. Year after year it was simply great, but I guess it had to change eventually.

Tom’s fire pit, affectionately known as Tom’s Hole, was now newly surveyed as Lake Jefferies. I daren’t even think about any other deep pits on the Painted Pony Plains. Yet I’m confident that next year it will all be salubrious once again. 

Trapper’s Plan B

The weekend before the winter Camp I had loaded up the “wagon” with the necessary gear to survive the rigours of a winter in the hills for a few nights. Tents were packed, bedding, wood stove and food stuff stowed neatly away. Then word arrived on the Thursday night that disaster had struck! Due to the abnormal excessive amount of rain the trail had been “washed out” with no chance of getting through.

What to do? What to do? A wagon full of gear and suddenly nowhere to go. As the hours passed I started to think about where I could set up camp for at least an overnight stay. A few places came to mind but once again the trails were too wet for use, until I thought of that one place on the Pyramid Creek that just might have a usable access track.

Oh, that Wintry feeling!
Oh, that Wintry feeling!

So it was that Plan B was brought into action. Friday morning arrived, it was overcast but no rain. Excellent! So I fired up the “wagon” and headed north to the flat-lander plains country. I arrived at the creek and started to look for a good place to set up. The best spot seemed nice and level with high bushes to break the wind, enough wood lying about to make the camp fire to cook on and fuel the stove to keep the tent nice and cosy.

About an hour and a half later the camp was set up; made all the easier by being able to just push in the tent pegs by hand because the ground was that soft. Usually you need a sledge hammer to knock in the pegs because the clay soil is that hard. There certainly had been a lot of rain. All I needed to do was to get a bucket of water to have handy beside the tent. No worries I will just get some from the creek. Problem was the creek had dropped and I would have to slide down the bank to get to the water.

Getting down wasn’t the problem, getting back up was. After four attempts and some colourful language I managed to get back up the bank but I lost half a bucket of water doing so. Never mind, a half bucketful will have to do!

I built a small fire and soon had a kettle of boiling water for a nice cup of tea. I grabbed my .32 rifle and went through the necessary tasks to get it ready for a little walk along the creek to see if any rabbits were about. With the wind in my face I headed of upstream to see what game might come into my sights.

After about half an hour and seeing only one rabbit, which didn’t sit still long enough to get a shot off, it was time to head back to camp as the sun was getting low in the sky. The rabbits had the smarter idea of staying in their warm burrows instead of being outside in the cold wind waiting for a Longhunter to come along.

I stirred up the coals of the fire and prepared some vegetables so I could make a nice soup, (it was meant to be rabbit stew) and put it over the fire. After a warm meal and a cup of chocolate I settled down to do a bit reading by candle light. Later I crawled under my blanket for a good sleep so I could be ready in the morning to go hunting after some ducks, just to finish off the duck hunting season.

With a chilly start but a beautiful clear sky “Precious” was prepared for the mornings hunt while the kettle boiled water for breakfast porridge and hot chocolate. With the gear on and the “fixings” for “Precious” slung over the shoulder I headed off along the creek to see what ducks I could find. I didn’t have to wait too long for in the distance I could hear the “meow’ of some woodies and the chatter of grey teal.

Keeping the wind in my favour, I plotted a safe course using the available cover in front of me, towards the mob of birds ahead of me. After a bit of slipping and sliding on the wet ground I finally came to a dirt embankment on the creek bank which gave me the best concealment as I neared towards the ducks.

Slowly I raised myself up and peered over the top of the embankment to get a better look at where the birds were along the other side bank. But as usual the wood ducks were sitting on the other side bank acting as “sentries”. As soon my head came into their view the woodies took flight and the teal lifted off with them.

With two teal directly in front of me “Precious came up to the shoulder and swung past the first teal. With a Klatch – Boom and billowing smoke the load of number four shot connected with the grey teal which came tumbling down with a splash.

Precious harvest - Two grey teal and a single black duck
Precious harvest – Two grey teal and a single black duck

The bonus was that the other bird was close by on the edge of the shot pattern and it came down in the water a short distance away. Two for one! That’s the way to save on powder and shot! With the breeze blowing the birds across to my side of the creek it was an easy retrieve for me and I happily placed the birds into the game bag.

I placed a fresh charge down the barrel of “Precious” and started to make my way back along the creek to the camp site when a few teal were flying in my direction. I crouched down near a tree and as the birds flew past I picked out one bird and touched off the shot. As the smoke cleared the birds kept going, perhaps just a little faster than before, but not even a single feather down to the water.

A little bit slow on the swing-through technique, I fear. But at least I didn’t have to pull the load out of “Precious” now. As I began walking back to the camp site, ahead of me I could see half a dozen shapes in the water. With some available cover for me I reloaded “Precious” and stalked the 150 yards up to where the little gathering of ducks were.

Barely had I raised my head above the embankment when a mob of wood duck, which I had not seen, on the other side bank took off, catching me off guard, but only for a moment. As the black ducks decided to do the same as their wood duck brethren, ”Precious” came up to the shoulder as I began to lead the first black duck but I fired too soon. Which was fortunate for the leading bird, not so for its friend behind, and with somewhat of surprise for me, it fell from the sky landing with a thud on the other side bank.

All I had to do was cross over on a make shift log bridge and I had number three in the bag. Ten minutes later I was back at camp having a well-earned hot chocolate in front of the fire under a wintery sun. After that I found a nice spot out of the wind to clean up the birds and have them ready for transportation home.

I could see on the horizon that some dark clouds beginning to form, so it was time I packed all the gear back into the wagon, folded up some slightly damp canvas, from the morning’s dew. Then “whip the horses” into action and head home before the forecasted showers arrived. What a grand way to finish off the duck season and all thanks to having a Plan B!

Le Reynard

Round Ball / Round Bull

Well, rabbits aren’t round, neither are foxes, ‘n beaver’s the same; matter of fact I don’t know of any game or feral animal that is round. That is – round like a rubber ball or that black spot in the centre of a paper target. Ain’t nuthin’ like that in the American woods or in the Aussie bush. So why do we get so fired up on paper targets?

Personally, my favourite targets are pet food cans, baked bean cans and similar. Yes they’re round end on, but without scoring rings they are about the size of a rabbit head. Body wise they are somewhat smaller than a rabbit’s torso and a similar challenge.

For personal plinking practice. I like to set up a can laying on its side, end on facing me at about 15 yards. That’s a target similar in size to the head of a rabbit. Rabbits don’t always pop up right on 25 yards. Usually I hold dead centre as is natural but when hunting I like to aim for the eye which may not be central to the head profile.

When my shot sends the can scuttling I sometimes get a second “head shot” but often the can comes to rest side on. One can simply aim now for the centre area but that is akin to gut-shooting our imaginary rabbit and may simply penetrate the can without sending it further afield. I prefer to practice this shot as a chest shot with the ball striking the side of the closed head-end of the can sending it spinning yet further away.

I also enjoy shooting a “can push” event as a team competition. It is great fun and brings contestants together in the spirit of challenge and sharing the smoke laden air. It’s best if club organisers can manipulate towards teams of reasonably even skill levels. Mixing small bores with the larger cannons within each team also adds something special to the event. Sounds like fun? I love it! Afterwards, crush the cans and take home the rubbish.  Don’t ya wanna have fun no more?


Le Reynard’s 2016 Winter Quarters
Le Reynard’s 2016 Winter Quarters

Next event

September Rendezvous – Saturday 17th / Sunday 18th at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat. Members please note: – Our Annual General Meeting will be held during this weekend event.

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