Vol. 3, April 2007

Pictures with special memories - Richard and ShamrockPictures with special memories – Richard and Shamrock

Welcome to our third edition of Around The Traps. As we hasten forward into the best months of the year for Rendezvous, it is pleasant to look back at what we have achieved, as well as to remember some of the former good times that have special memories. At a slower pace, we feature here Richard Snape and his donkey Shamrock. This photo, although taken quite a few years back, remains one of Richard’s favourite snaps. Thanks to Richard for sharing this treasured memory of a past Rendezvous.

It is now anticipated that we might run 4-5 editions of Around The Traps for the year. Richard suggested we have a section in each edition to feature more of those very special photos in our collections. If you agree, please check out your Rendezvous albums and forward your favourite pic with a short descriptive caption to the editor – via Email attachment is fine, or we will return any original photographs received.

Regrettably, we found it necessary to cancel our planned Easter rendezvous due to the severe drought conditions and continuing high fire danger days in the north-east. This disappointing set-back challenges us now to ensure that our third Winter Rendezvous, actually the first in the name of SCFT, is nothing short of the absolute best of all fun times – to be long remembered! Let’s do it!

The Committee hopes that you all had a pleasant Easter, and perhaps had opportunity to check over all your rendezvous equipment, or run a few round ball, even make or find some trade blanket goodies. Thank you to all who enthusiastically returned their membership applications and subscription monies in prompt order. We now have a humble bank account with the Hume Building Society, which means that Myrtle, our Treasurer, no longer risks pillage of that little deer skin pouch attached to her apron.

Our early vision of the group suggests that all subs, fees and accounting can be kept to very modest levels whilst servicing our needs and providing public liability insurance. Myrtle will present detailed financial reports to committee meetings, which are also planned to occur at rendezvous, when all members can be present.

Thank you also for the critiques on my efforts to explain the fee structures. Some of you were obviously Eastern Bankers before turning to a life of adventure and the hunt for beaver. At least no one complained at the low level of our fees, and not one Free Trapper need sell their prime plews at three dollars a piece just to pay subscriptions.

Reminder – Most of our activities will be on private land, therefore membership subscriptions and insurance fees must be paid, and current, prior to attending events.

2007 Free Trappers Winter Rendezvous

We expect quite a larger number of participants this year and providing an adequate area of camp sites and sufficient ablution facilities requires that you must advise the planning secretary in advance that you are attending.

As advised in the last Newsletter, our Queen’s Birthday long weekend Winter Rendezvous is planned for a new site. We now have several options to choose from and consideration will go to the most sheltered spot with good firewood. More on this later, mud maps to the exact site will be issued to those members who indicate an intention to rondevoo, again, much closer to the actual date.

Attendance is open only to SCFT members having the required Public Liability insurance, or by special written invitation from the Secretary. We do hope everyone will make a big effort to attend our 3rd Winter Rendezvous and at least one other event.

Our event dates have been selected to encourage young families to camp and any feed back on the number of rondevoos, dates and or general locations is welcomed by the secretary & committee.

June – Sat 9th, Sun 10th & Mon 11th. 3rd Annual Winter Rendezvous.
Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend (3 days) at Highlands, and it will be at a new location on a different property this year. Vic Roads map 61, J3 for general area.

Diary Notes and Letters

Griz & Le Reynard with 3 Blackies on last day of last season
Griz & Le Reynard with 3 Blackies on last day of last season

Photo by L’enfant Savage

Cher cousin Jedediah

Le Reynard, L’Enfant Savage and I, decided to break the monotony of life working for our capitalist masters, we went off for a weekend at the end of the Duck season, with the intention of filling the larder with a few wild fowl.

A cold wind was blowing up from the south somewhere, which meant that we could wear our woollen weskits without the normal concerns of overheating. It also meant that our quarry was more likely to be wedged up hard against the face of a river bank, keeping out of the wind and less intent on keeping watch than usual.

We had the hounds with us, the two sight hunters Bryn and Bowie perhaps wasted on duck, but more than happy to flush out and chase the odd rabbit or hare. No, the two dogs who were going to earn their suppers today were Jake and Dixie, a good pair of retrievers, well lets face it, there was no way any of us two legged folk were jumping in the channel to get a downed duck! Not when it was this chilly!

After much hacking around and ducks sighted off in the distance, only to have disappeared when we arrived near to their location, we stumbled upon a few black duck, huddled up against the bank for protection from the wind. We snuck up on the critters from down wind, behind the opposite bank of the channel; this provided us with protection from their line of sight. We crawled up the opposite bank to near the summit, then, with thumbs on flinter cocks we popped up, for a second or two none of the Blackies moved, then suddenly, they were all airborne.

I let rip with the Indian trade musket and got a late moving bird just above the channel bank, Le Reynard let his old lady go and dropped his fellow onto the opposite channel bank. One bird, figuring it was safer not to go the same way as his fellows, flew straight towards us. Suddenly, upon seeing that going towards us was not going to be beneficial to his health, he did the darndest thing; he stopped in mid air and turned around to fly back the other way. L’Enfant Savage wasn’t going to let this kind of opportunity go to waste and peppered him good and proper.
Jake was sent into the channel for my bird and Dixie had launched herself off the bank and was across in the opposite field sniffing around for the fallen quarry. The dogs loved it. There’s nothing like the look on a dog’s face that is doing a job he was bred to do – they almost appear to be grinning.

Jake came up tail wagging, shook himself off and presented me with the duck at my feet. He turned around, sat down and was ready for more; his tail still thumping on the ground. Dixie, the young lady, had taken it in mind that she was hungry and as Le Reynard had forgotten to feed her the night before, she was therefore going to have a little duck snack. As the feathers started to fly, a few choice words of control from Le Reynard, reminding her that he was the boss dissuaded her from actually getting anything other than a mouth-full of feathers.

All in all, a rewarding little hunt. L’Enfant Savage baked those Blackies in a game pie with, if I remember correctly, wild goat, rabbit, field mushrooms, and some herbs from the garden and onions; with a light pastry top. Delicious, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I’ll just have to console myself with a regular wee drinkie of Booths musket until the duck season comes around again.

Your ever affectionate cousin,

To the editor: Thank you for your latest issue. It is a good read and I hope to attend one of your functions one day with my flinter. Would you have a recipe for dried meat I can undertake here at home? I want some tasty, chewy dried meat to carry in my haversack. I have been purchasing some chilli flavoured stuff at the supermarket but $3.50 a pkt but I can eat it in 15mins, so it is expensive. Cheers, John, Lakes Entrance.

Many readers will have shared John’s dilemma, and happily we have just the recipe, and from our President, no less; so here we go………..

Jerky / Biltong

Use beef, venison, goat, or rabbit – any lean meat. Cut meat in strips 3/8” x 1” wide with the grain. Make a salt & water solution that will float an egg (5 cups water, 1 cup salt). Add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or whatever) and I teaspoon garlic salt (if you wish). Bring this to a rolling boil, drop about 5 or 6 strips of meat into solution.
When one piece comes to the top and floats, take it out and put it on a towel, and drop another piece in. The meat should be all grey, curled up and look like leather.
Towel dry and smoke for 6 to 8 hours, or put in oven at 175 – 200 F for about 6 hours with the oven door open about ½” at the top. Meat should be dry (no pink centre) but not brittle. Enjoy! Ian Convey

Convenience at Rendezvous

Bob “Wounded Knee” Ellis has managed to scrounge up some second-hand sails from one of the slave ships visiting the East. With the skills of his many years experience at working canvas magic, Bob is furnishing the Club with not one but two toilet tents for the convenience of all. We will still require energetic Trappers with digging tools to create those necessary long drops at each camp.

Perpetually Challenged

It is hard to imagine even one “programmed event” occurring at any pre – 1840 Rendezvous. Conversely, it is quite conceivable that after wetting the whistle and drowning the tonsils, imbibing some dubious brew, there arose many challenges to the prowess of the tall-story tellers around the camp-fires. Simple contests like arm wrestling most probably occurred at Rendezvous – Imagine two very thirsty trappers reaching for the one jug of whisky – and we have a challenge – easy to comprehend.

This competitive “spirit” could readily lead up to many a contest. A foot race, a horse race, knife and tomahawk throwing skills or a shooting match – the latter could be anything from one single shot to multiple lead throwing until a clear winner could be determined. The target could be a simple mark on a tree-stump, a rusty camp kettle, or any convenient item of no use or value that just happened to be in sight and range.

There almost certainly were no “Perpetual Trophy” shoots back then, no 10 ring targets, and no score cards or registers. However, winners have always needed recognition, a feather in the hat so to speak, and those coming second have generally had to part with something that the other might covet – another jar of whisky, a few hard-won prime beaver plews, or perhaps some other fur was wagered.

Today, our challenge shoots will most assuredly not be alcohol fuelled, but neither will they be events scored on paper targets with numbered circles. Paper punching shoots is not re-enacting Mountain Man pastimes. There is no bull’s eye 10 ring birthmark on any deer – except in Gary Larson’s cartoons. We’ll have old-fashioned fun, dispensing entirely with those indifferent scores added in fractions of 100.

Club President, Ian Convey, is advocating a genuine Blanket Shoot for our Winter Rendezvous. Everyone brings a suitable item (of a nominal value) and places it on the blanket, then, the most successful on the day take first pick from the plunder, then the next, and next, and everybody wins. Read that again – Everybody wins… I like that!

Blanket items must be in vogue with our themes and era, and it is desirable that they might also be hand-made if possible. You could start planning / making your blanket goodie today. Let’s make it a truly fun challenge shoot with some prime Possibles on the rug.

Meanwhile, the Primitive “Perpetual Challenge” is simply one to each of us, to firstly participate and have fun, and then to improve one’s own competence with knife, hawk, bow and gun, to hone camp-craft skills, and to constantly strive to improve our own portrayal of a Trapper / Mountain man, or other being, of our chosen field and era. And
you know, once again – Everybody wins!

Around the Traps Tattler

Woodsy Runner told me that Richard has retired from hospital supply and now enjoys time in pursuit of beaver. “Congratulations, and all best wishes” from all of us. Not much else this issue, I’ve already picked on paper targets and perpetual trophies. We don’t need either, so enough said on that for now! Oh, but I swear I’m gonna get that fella who persistently offers this departing advice Watch yer top not – what’s left of it!

2007 Rendezvous Calendar

June 9th, 10th, & 11th – Yes, it’s our special 3rd Annual Winter Rendezvous, Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend (3 days) at Highlands. Directions issued closer to the date. Contact the Secretary if you wish to attend. Note: – The fun will proceed regardless of the weather!

June 30th – July 15th School mid year holidays, two full weeks (or just do the weekends), at Gunbower Ponds. Please register your interest early to assist our arrangements. Check Vic Roads map 21, G8 for general area (well clear of protestors).

September 22nd- October 7th School holidays, 2 full weeks (or just do the weekends), at Buff Bluff – Whorouly. (Take the Snow road from Glenrowan – Map 49, B2)

Volley shoot at winter r'voo

Moose Milk

A patch lubricant, black powder solvent and gun cleaner.
1/3rd cup soluble oil; 1/3rd cup of liquid soap (shave velvet soap into water); 1/3rd cup warm water. Mix it all with one teaspoon of kerosene, shake up real good, and then add enough warm water to make a litre. Soak bullet and cleaning patches in this brew!

Moose Milk 2

A patch lubricant and bore cleaner etc. for black powder guns.
(An alternate recipe for those who don’t need to, can’t, or simply will not shave.)
15 parts distilled water, 3 parts soluble oil, 2 parts Melrose Castille liquid soap. Shake it well, and again before each use – makes 20 fluid ozs. Use as above – shoot all day!

Thanks to Richard Snape, Jeff Clarke and Ian Convey for photos, hunt stories and various recipe contributions for your information and reading pleasure.

Next issue – A recipe for a different lubricant – one guaranteed to get most folks vocal around the campfire at nights. Till then, remember – Happiness is a warm barrel!

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