Vol. 11, May 2008

“Arms are the only true badges of liberty. The possession of arms is the distinction of a free man from a slave.” Andrew Fletcher 1697

Peter Convey leads brother Ian up the creek (again)
Peter Convey leads brother Ian up the creek (again) at Western Districts annual “Wet to the Arse” 2001

Now that’s more like it! Cradling their faithful firelocks, immersed in the hunt along a swollen beaver stream, reliving shining times. Bones will be chilled to the very core, yet this superb photo heralds a welcome return from gold diggings to mountain doings.

Ian Convey features in our “Pictures with Favourite Memories” cover segment, which by the way, has been rather neglected following our front-page of Richard and his donkey – Shamrock. This pic shows just why the “Wet to the Arse” weekend has won keen support and enviable reputation for the Western Districts Muzzle Loader Club.

Ian claims that Peter is leading the way “downstream” and that no brother could lead him up the creek without a paddle, but who would let the truth spoil a good story, eh?

Charlton HestonSadly, we note the passing of Charlton Heston on 5th April, aged 84. Chuck earned mega-star legendary status for his many epic films, including his Oscar winning performance in Ben-Hur. But it was as a trapper, Bill Tyler, in “The Mountain Men” that we all love to replay over and over, and our source of so many favourite quotes.

Charlton was a staunch and proudly vocal supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. He was elected President of the National Rifle Association of America in 1998, holding that position until he resigned in 2003, after revealing he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. Later in 2003 President George Bush awarded Charlton the Presidential Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honour.

Charlton Heston held other leadership positions, serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and chairman of the American Film Institute. He leaves behind his wife of 64 years, Lydia, a son and a daughter, and leaves to us his wonderful epic films. An eloquent speaker, his legacy of outspoken views is found in recorded public speeches.

Charlton’s now famous speech “Winning the Cultural War” delivered to law students at Austin Hall, Harvard Law School on 16th February 1999 is well worth reading and can be found at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/charltonhestonculturalwar.htm Links to some of Chuck’s other notable oratory can be located on www search engines.

We salute Charlton Heston, may he rest in peace. Bill Tyler lives on!

Events Calendar 2008

4th Annual Winter Rendezvous – 7, 8 & 9th June.
Queen’s Birthday long weekend at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat.

Our strawberry jam and cream event, and we have oodles of good firewood in supply, and our scouts report no sign of hostile Crow! All the black powder shooting, knife & hawk chucking, fire lighting & trap setting comps, and campfire bull-dusting you can manage. Location mud maps available if required from the secretary.

September Sat 20th – Sun 28th Spring Rendezvous coinciding with the first week of the Victorian school holidays. We push right through those hostile Injun lands and over the Wind River Range to “Beaver Creek” below the big mountain called Buffalo.

Events 2009

March 7th – 9th Labor Day long weekend (tentative) Gold Rush at Holey Plains.
This weekend is generally too dry, and fire bans normally prevent any black powder activity. Out-of-season Trappers had a ball last March developing new personas for that ratified aberration of our time frame. Save the date in case a repeat is gazetted.


Paul and Lisa announce the arrival of another Longhunter. Nicholas born on 22nd April weighed in at 7lb7oz. Mother and son doing fine; Paul’s on firewood duties.

Justin and Louise have shifted base camp, to be closer to Justin’s scalping grounds.

Chook copped it sweet for eating more than a trapper’s rightful share of toast and jam, and was gently reproached for tying his mocs with modern cotton/nylon shoe laces. Reminded me that it is all too easy to sink back into the 21st C. You know it too! But I’m left puzzled why a few club pilgrims shunned our April shining times – favouring the caravan and camping show, while more dedicated Trappers rendezvous-ed. Duh?

On the way home from the big smoke I called to see Bob Wounded-Knee, only to be berated for advertising free squaws with each tipi ordered through “Around the Traps”. Bob didn’t win any new custom, but I did wonder just who read the fine print to him?

Earlier, I mentioned the neglect I have allowed to our pictorial segment of Around the Traps. So here now is my gentle arm twist to all Longhunters, Trappers & partners to get your favourite Rondyvoo picture in our newsletter. Be assured all care taken and all photos sent to the editor will be returned upon request, eventually.

Murray explains the bag.
Murray explains the bag. “Rabbits are gettin’ mighty scarce, Penny.” Photo by Jim

April Rendezvous

Jim, Chook, Ian and Murray all arrived on Thursday afternoon (some much later than others) to set up our primitive encampment and cut and gather firewood. There was no shortage of fallen timber so we could get right down to the task and before long there was a sizeable stack next to a roaring campfire and dinner cooking in the kettles.

Overnight, the air did get a bit chilly but nothing like the sub-zero temperatures up on the high tops. Bob Wounded-Knee arrived sometime on Friday morning and a little more wood was cut before some story telling, lunch, and before you knew it the afternoon was fading fast. So we stoked up the fire, told more stories, news, and lies, and downed some medication. There was a smidgeon of moisture in the air so the night was much warmer than the previous.

Saturday brought a few showers in between pleasant sunshine bursts and we managed a little hunting. Several old collectable traps were repaired, and some friendly shooting at marked stakes occurred. I’m not sure who achieved the best results, and I don’t care. Neither does anyone else for that matter! Suffice it is to say that we always have great fun burning the black stuff in our firelocks – answering any challenge.

A sharp shower after dinner on Saturday evening saw us gather in Jim’s grand tent leaving a bonzer campfire to battle with the elements. The fire won! Meanwhile, we broke out the prize bottle of booze that Ian won for our photo caption competition. Yes, we did let him have a taste – just a nightcap, mind you. Several more light showers were heard softly on the canvas overnight. Don’t yer just love that sound?

Sunday dawned with sunshine, as it should; we leisurely breakfasted around a toasty rekindled fire, a little walk on the hunt for rabbits and foxes, more coffee, reminiscing, more lies, discussions on camp craft and gear, and how very little gear is absolutely necessary, and so on, and how less is more.

Good times always go faster than we like, and this weekend was no exception to the rule. Ian and Murray broke camp during the dry Sunday arvo leaving Jim and Chook to stay another night. Dang, if misty showers didn’t return on Monday, each time the canvas was nearly dry, resulting in us, reluctant to break camp anyway, finally giving-in to pack up our wet tents and say goodbye until Winter Rendezvous in June.

Short Sheeted?

We all know that shining times continue well after dark, but when told the reason for daylight saving time, an old Indian said …..
“Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of the blanket and have a longer blanket.”

“Lighten Up!”

Such was the title of Rex Allen Norman’s article on reducing gear, appearing in the March/April edition of Muzzleloader magazine, which most appropriately arrived soon after our glimpse into the future – the 1850’s and the mad rush for gold. Without exception, all attending members of SCFT declared that Easter’s event would be the last time they hauled so many goodies along for the show-and-tell ride.

Actually those “goodies” were all little treasures, in their own right. Collectables won or traded at various rendezvous’ or Sunday markets. But when we keep adding more and more collectables to the treasure trove, there is a very real chance of it becoming just so much “stuff”. That kinda “stuff” is a bothersome chore to lug into camp, and worse yet, becomes a real pain to pack it all back on the homeward bound mule.

Mr Norman’s article is well worth perusing, and any follow-up actions to lessening the amount of gear hauled into camp will, I am sure, reward all efforts, and have you wondering why you previously went overboard to the lure of superfluous “goodies”.

Several members tried out this philosophy at the April Rendezvous and were quite delighted with the reductions. They realised that to “Lighten Up” even more would actually improve their Longhunter portrayal. Muzzleloader magazine continues to be recommended reading. Our “club library” has a few back issues to whet your appetite.

Tea and Coffee

Lifted straight out of Your Garden magazine: – “Did You Know – The amount of milk you add to your tea once indicated your social standing? When tea was first imported to Britain from the Orient it was very expensive. Milk, on the other hand, was very cheap. So the decision to add milk to your tea was purely economic. The wealthy drank tea without milk; the middle class added a splash of milk, while the lower class filled their cup with milk, before adding a splash of tea.”

Now Longhunters and Mountain Men were none too rich, nor upper class; mostly, they drank black tea or coffee due to a mild reluctance toward milking moose cows.

And “If I don’t get some whisky soon, I’m gonna die!”

Trading Post Values

Convalescing from knife wounds to the arm, Club President Ian has been holed up re-reading his scrapbook – a compendium from many years of various black powder magazine articles. He shares this snippet (possibly from an early Backwoodsman mag) on trade values.

“By 1840 there were over 150 trading posts in the west, with intense competition between white traders. Many traders would carry over credit (Kevin, take note!) in the manner of trade beads that had value compared to other things the Indian wanted. Besides such essentials as cloth, tools, and firearms, there were bells and mirrors from Leipzig, Germany, clay pipes from Cologne, beads from Europe’s major suppliers in Venice, London and Amsterdam.

Many Indians wanted such gewgaws and traded eagerly for them, but they knew value, and used the horse as a measuring stick against most other things. They also knew how to drive a hard bargain. Like all commodities, the value of horses and beads varied with the supply and demand. In the early 1800’s on the upper Missouri where horses were relatively scarce, a fine horse might be worth 10 buffalo robes or about 360 cobalt beads. Later the price dropped to as low as three robes or 100 beads.

The article listed a table of values from the mid 1800’s:
1 ordinary riding horse = 8 buffalo robes = 300 cobalt beads = 1 gun & 100 ball = 1 carrot of tobacco weighing 3 lbs = 15 eagle feathers = 10 weasel pelts = 5 tipi poles.
1 buffalo robe = 3 metal knives = 25 round ball = 36 to 40 beads = 1 x 1 gallon size tin kettle =3 dozen iron arrow points = 1&1/2 yards of calico = 1 small keg black powder = I frying pan & bottle rum.
Other values were: 1 racing pony with regalia = 10 guns;
1 fine buffalo horse = several pack animals; 10 ermine pelts = 100 elk teeth;
3 buffalo robes = 1 white 4 point blanket; 4 buffalo robes = 1 scarlet Hudson’s Bay blanket;
5 buffalo robes = 1 large Grizzly claw necklace.

Backwoodsman magazineThanks to Ian, and acknowledgements to Backwoodsman magazine, for back-tracking with us. Oh yes, now about those knife wounds to the arm – well ah, nothing untoward, I assure, but no doubt Ian will conjure up a fine tale of high adventure for regular campfire story time at Winter Rondyvoo. Winter Rendezvous – for friendship, value trading & great shooting fun.

Southern Cross Free Trappers Crossword

crosswordHere’s something different and a bit of fun. Test your memory of our past newsletters by completing the crossword puzzle. It’s another competition, so write your name on the bottom, tear off or photocopy the page, and post your entries to
“Cross Winds” 252 Pini Lane, Mudgegonga 3737. First correct entry opened wins a nice little collector item prize.

Contributing articles most welcome. All correspondence and enquiries to John Fowler 252 Pini Lane, Mudgegonga 3737. Email chookster@vfowler.com Tel. 03 5753 4455.