Vol. 22, February 2010

Kevin enjoys a cup of hospitality inside Richard & Lorraine’s tent.

Greetings friends, welcome again to Around the Traps. Did anyone notice that we turned 21 with our Christmas volume? Kinda special achieving that 21st and thanks to all members we certainly hold the key to Primitive Rendezvous re-enactment Down Under. Congratulations to everyone who took part in our events, and particularly those who forwarded articles or photos, and especially to those on who we tattled. It’s all about having fun!

SCFT also thanks Bill and Beryl Wilson of Bundaberg, Bob Seip of Ferntree Gully, Bob Timms of Narre Warren and Noel & Estelle Collinson of Kew, who all generously supported our Primitive Rendezvous movement throughout 2009.

2010 promises to be our biggest, brightest year since formation as committee and members continually strive to improve camps, our personas, while refining shooting challenges for both greenhorn beginner and seasoned Hivernant. And remember, Around the Traps is your newsletter, so keep those articles and your favourite photographs coming.

Alternative Camp Life (or Not Quite the Minimalist)

Ian’s article in Vol. 21 drew a few comments about doing it so tough. Not everyone desires to portray the hardy, lonesome north-west Trapper at our rendezvous re-enactments. Bob Ellis loves his role as wagon master fetching (grog?) supplies to the trappers, but when travelling with his lovely squaw he manages to hide a super comfy double bed plus a small table complete with candelabra inside the 22 foot tipi. Really!

Robyn pushes a cartload of comforts

Kevin and Robyn’s trading post is perhaps the most eye-catching camp set-up we see. However, the casual eye may overlook homely comforts and interior decorating. Some of our women folk prefer a persona partnering an Eastern Longhunter or Trader.

And there is nothing wrong with hauling along furnishing for the basic pioneer life of a settler in search of suitable land to set down roots, build a cabin of one or two rooms, grow some vegetables and sow some crops.

The dining table inside the Trading Post

One must remember that while intrepid mountain men were exploring the beaver streams the flatlanders back east were not twiddling their thumbs. There was always a push to explore and settle in green pastures. Our pictures illustrate just how cosy and comfortable greener pastures could be achieved – a cabin with a warm feet stove, a shuttered window, buffalo robe mats, a table made of boards and even a kitchen sink bench.

Including the kitchen sink

Events 2010

February, 19th – 21st. We hold a static display at Seymour Alternative Farming Expo.

April 2nd – 5th. An Easter bunny and egg hunt at Bernard’s Cache, Caveat.
April 24th – 26th. Anzac day weekend – leftover rabbit pie at Bernard’s Cache.

June 12th – 14th. Queen’s Birthday weekend – Winter Quarters at Bernard’s Cache.

September 17th – 20th. Spring Rendezvous with friends at Beaver Creek, Whorouly.
An extended single weekend – Friday 17th through to Monday 20th.

November 6th & 7th. Melbourne Medieval Fayre and Tourney (MMFAT) at Berwick.

Seymour Alternative Farming Expo, 19th – 21st. February 2010

Glen Mitchell, Paul Sly and Jim Walker assisted at Bob Ellis’ tent exhibition at this event last year, displaying lots of Trapper paraphernalia. It was a successful trial to show the general public something of what we do usually so far away from public eye.

There is huge interest in our hobby and this is a grand opportunity to recruit new chums to black powder and rendezvous camping. We hold a Populous Place Permit from Firearms Licensing to allow members with appropriate license endorsement to attend with their muzzleloader and accoutrements for our display purposes.

Bob Ellis can provide free entry tickets for members prepared to dress in period costume and spend some time manning our presentation. Are you able to assist for half a day, a full day, or perhaps all 3 days? Contact Bob on 03 5796 2753 A.H.

SCFT display at the 2009 Seymour Alternative Farming Expo

Hunting for Exercise

by Paul Sly, aka Le Reynard
Morning dawned fine and clear, and as my two young boys were soundly asleep in bed, I thought it was time to follow the doctor’s advice and get some exercise. I donned the appropriate clothes and gear and headed off with the “Old Girl” and her fixin’s (aka Kentucky rifle and hunting pouch) in hand. I was hunting along the dry winding creek bed at the back of my house hoping to bag a rabbit or two for the pot.

After moving-off a few reluctant roo’s, there was nothing else stirring until I came around a bend in the creek. There was one half-dozing rabbit catching a few morning rays just before retiring to its burrow. With not much cover I was able to get to within 40 yards, it was now or never, with a flash and boom the .440” ball was on its way to its destiny – that being one of completely by-passing the rabbit and hitting the dirt in front of its toes. Needless to say that rabbit did not wait to see how fast I could re-load for a second shot. So on I went, continuing my exercise routine. Ho, hum!

It was not too long after that, as I neared a fence line, I spooked a sitting rabbit which decided to run only about 10-15 yards, before stopping to have a look at what had disturbed its morning bliss. Fatal mistake! Having brought that Kentucky flinter to my shoulder and settled the sights on the rabbit’s shoulder I gently touched off the shot.

The “Old Girl” always seems to do better the second shot after a clean barrel and this time was no exception. When the smoke had cleared there was one nice plump rabbit to put in the game bag. By now it was time to head back to the house for some well earned breakfast and a nice hot cuppa to finish off my “rigorous” exercise programme.

Regular exercise can be such good sport.

After feeding the inner man, and with help from one young apprentice (now awake) I dressed out the carcass, fed the scraps to the dogs, and stowed that rabbit in the freezer. It would be the makings of a delicious simmering casserole at a later date. I’m happy taking my doctor’s advice about exercise. See you round the traps, Le Reynard.

What’s in a Name, eh?

by Ian Convey
In the era we choose to re-enact it seemingly was a fairly common practise to refer to one’s firearm, be it rifle or smoothbore, by a pet name. Possibly this was because many a frontiersman had only one such arm, often for life, and, of necessity it was his constant companion, providing both sustenance and defence from animals and hostiles alike.

This practise of naming one’s firearm appears to have diminished with the advent of the breechloader and the taming of the frontiers lessening the need for constant protection. The more affluent in settlements might also have several firearms but now used only for casual sporting purposes to provide additional table fare.

Fear not, for we modern day muzzleloader shooters being anxious to re-live the olden ways are reviving the tradition of naming our favourite smoke-poles. Or in some cases the not-so-favourite piece that might bruise or injure at both ends. Ian thought to entertain readers we should run a short series sharing member’s fond names for certain guns and just how they decided on that moniker.

For example, Peter Jepson from the Council of Muzzleloaders has a much altered 45/70 Martini Henry (hmm – very futuristic) which he calls “Mr Ugly” just because that’s what it is. But it is spoken with a certain fondness for it shoots just where Peter wants.

June Howard, secretary of the Council of Muzzleloaders, has a .58 cal 3 Band Enfield that she christened “Goose-beater”. No, she does not thump domestic fowls with the butt! There was just this one occasion when June won a hard fought event in a shoot-off against the Western Districts club president Mr “Goose” Sheppard. Incidentally, Goose’s own .58 cal Three Bander is called “The Destroyer” as it has that effect on most targets. You can believe it!

Now our Jim Walker recently acquired a .50 cal T.C. flinter which he has christened “Hopeful”. I can’t help wondering if it will get a name change after one or two hunts or competitions. We do hear that Jim has been blitzing the shotgun field at Seymour Black Powder Club with his whopping big 8 bore muzzleloader.

John Morland very aptly named his .45 cal long rifle “The Phoenix” after I had rebuilt it for him. John’s home and the rifle had been quite destroyed in the 2009 “Black Saturday” bush fires. “The Phoenix” was built from salvaged parts found in the ashes.

Personally, I have owned three “christened” firearms over the years. One, a single shot 12 bore B/L was called “Deadly Earnest” or just “Deadly” for short. It was named by some mates who cast dispersions on its looks and performance. My second gun that had a moniker was a .45 cal caplock long rifle that I built in 1972. It was named “Game-getter” after proving itself on several hunts. The third gun is my 20g Trade gun which I called “Porky” because it brought home plenty of bacon.

We will follow up with more “christening” stories from Chook and Glen Mitchell in future editions. But we would also like to feature your favourite gun and the reason for its pet name or just how you arrived at such a name. Please forward your story to me for collaboration and on forwarding to our editor. Introduce your gun formally to your friends through our Newsletter.

Ian Convey, president.

Flint Hint:-When priming the pan, be sure not to overfill so much as to cover the vent.


Not the crap dished up on TV, but home-made suds for personal hygiene, laundering yer duds and cleaning dishes. My personal camping choice had always been Wright’s Coal Tar soap; that Kiwi brand that smells of a blend of dog wash and sheep dip and one sniff of it has all germs curling their toes I’m sure. Then along came Glen with his home-made soap offerings in eye-catching wraps all laid out on a trade blanket.

I’ll admit it was the “Pine Ridge Soap” labelled wrapper that grabbed my immediate attention. Glen was cleverly marketing his product featuring an attractive sportswoman in period costume with bonnet, a muzzleloader and the slogan “To aide in the genteel art of Bathing”. I guessed the label was printed in the traditional silk screen method of bygone days. Silk screen! Silk? You know – “Made out of worms!”

So I bought several cakes of Pine Ridge Soap. Presents for my two sisters and one for self as I was due for a bath come summer. Glen’s labelling listed all ingredients and there are no nasty perfumes, in fact no perfume at all, ideal for hunters hiding human scent and perfect for sensitive skins troubled by dubious additives in modern soaps.

I’m here to tell you readers that Pine Ridge Soap is a great product. It suds up nicely and cakes are longer lasting than modern store bought soaps. I’m sure Glen will have more soap available on his future trade blankets but for those of you wanting to have a go at making your own – here is one old recipe you might like to try.

Household Soap: Ingredients – 5 lbs fat, 6 quarts water, 1 lb lye, ½ lb resin, ½ lb borax.
Method – Melt the fat in 5 quarts of boiling water, dissolve the lye (caustic soda) in 1 quart then add to mix, and then add the resin and borax. Let it simmer from 2 to 3 hours. Pour into a suitable vessel and allow it to set firmly before cutting into cakes.

Caution – Be sure to use a large vessel and exercise great care as soon as the mixture comes to boiling point. Note: The above recipe is supplied with all care and no responsibility.

Old timers from early 20th C used a kerosene tin, cut lengthwise, in which to pour the mixture for setting. Note: Most recipes call for 5 – 6 lbs of fat (tallow) but a reduced percentage of all ingredients might well be much easier for your first batch.


Saw a few lovely pictures of Mountain Man style Christmas / New Year greetings being forwarded via the internet. Great stuff and Tattler really appreciated the efforts you guys went to. But did you know that the first printed Christmas cards were not invented until the year 1843? More on this later in the year!

Our requests to hear your stories of pet names for smoke poles received small initial response, so El Presidente thought we should be more persuasive. He’s sure that Jeff, or maybe Murray, would refer to their charcoal burners in fondest terms such as “Big Bertha” or “Ol’ Stinky” or perhaps something with Indian flavour like “Goes-Better-With-Dry-Powder”. So what about it? You’re Free Trappers; you can name it anything you like. Send brief details to Ian for sharing in future editions.

Those members having Email facilities will remember back in mid-December when Chook forwarded a photo of Ronnie Davis taken at MMFAT (mid November), announcing he had won the President’s award for our “Best Santa look-alike” competition. Of course this was merely all in jest, for no such competition was held.

What Tattler has since learned is that while at MMFAT Ron had to pass by a horde of Viking re-enactors during Happy Hour. As Ron was walking past, those warriors and wenches suddenly ceased their lusty song to start up a jolly Christmas carol. The same thing happened again on Ron’s return passing of their camp. Ronnie never twigged those Norsemen were teasing him as his red voyager hat capped off his Santa-like white beard. The penny finally dropped a month later when we declared him that competition winner. Ronnie took it with fine spirits! Most likely good scotch whiskey!

Quick Quiz – What is Le Reynard’s pet name for his .45”cal Kentucky flinter?

Alternative camp life – a comfortable bed!