Vol. 48, May 2014 1 response already

Peter Hawkey at Bernard’s Cache, 2012. The third in our series of pencil drawings by Charlie Timma.
Peter Hawkey at Bernard’s Cache, 2012. The third in our series of pencil drawings by Charlie Timma.

Welcome again to our trapping-lines; we wish all readers good hunting, lots of fun shooting and superb re-enactment camping. Can you smell the smoke? Enjoy the read! 

Now be Fair Dinkum!

The 21st century is really the age of smokeless powder, super short magnums, variable power telescopic sights, rangefinders, electronic tom-toms, infrared gizmos and such.  Now I can sense the blood pressure rising in all you true blue charcoal burning readers. Please stay with me just a few more lines.

I have often stated that, in my humble opinion, anyone who today picks up a muzzleloader firearm, and is enamoured by the romance of flint and steel, as their nostrils twitch or flare, questing for the acrid stench of burnt powder; while their mind is transported back to another time, is, by association, a re-enactor. I do declare that loading, shooting, fondling black powder firearms is re-enacting a bygone era.

So why is it that some re-enactors are half arsed about dressing up to compliment the fine historical arms we shoot? Let’s see now, we arrive at the rendezvous in our V6 mules, dressed in our jeans, tee shirts, runners or Blundstones; we erect a period style canvas tent, then we unload some period furnishings, fire irons, flintlock rifle and possibles bag; drive the mule to the parking lot, walk back to camp and then relax.

No need to don the funny clothes until tomorrow morning. That’s when the Rondy starts, isn’t it? Oh well, perhaps I’ll just slip my Hunting Shirt over my designer label tee and faded denim jeans. Half dressed and hardly fair dinkum!

It bemuses me that many of us put off dressing primitive in camp as long as possible, even though that is exactly what we came to do. I have noted before that at some American Rendezvous participants are expected to arrive in their period costume. Some might be embarrassed at the refuelling stops on route. But why? We should be proud of our hobby and happily promoting a wider awareness of black powder sports.

Oh, and then there are those tiresome few who deliberately test the system by introducing unauthentic gear and clothing, offering the well-worn feeble cliché that they would have used it – if they had of had it. Balderdash, absolute rubbish! Half dressed, half arsed and definitely not fair dinkum.

Way back in our very first Around the Traps I stated the need to be fair dinkum about our code of ethics to be truly living the history.  Shooting original and reproduction firearms goes hand in hand with dressing to compliment the black powder era and is  truly living history re-enacting, and that my friends, is a valid 21st century activity.

Marksman or Markswoman. Open eyes and open mind. Let’s not be sexist!

Jenny Baker forwarded a copy of an old photo of Annie Oakley shooting with both eyes open, speaking her mind. “When a man hits a target they call him a marksman. When I hit a target, they call it a trick. Never did like that much.” – Annie Oakley

Part of the Easter encampment
Part of the Easter encampment

Rapidly approaching Club Event

Queen’s B’day w/e June 7th 8th & 9th   A full three day event for serious hivernants from Saturday morning through to Monday afternoon. Our 10th rondy in the Highlands of central Victoria and the 8th at Bernard’s Cache: This promises to be a memorable Rendezvous with serious 1830’s overtures; casual shoot challenges with blue beads, mirrors, vermillion and such; oh, and lively carousing. Ample firewood will be available to keep everyone warm and snug. A super Rondyvoo – Don’t miss it!

Cover page

Thanks once again to Charlie Timma for sharing his pencil portrait art with all readers.

George Mohr reports Camp Dubois is Number 1 stop on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

George Mohr at the Camp Dubois fort entrance
George Mohr at the Camp Dubois fort entrance

Camp Dubois was the staging area for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. It was a fully functional military camp established across the Mississippi River from St Louis. It was winter quarters for 33 people, 29 of them expedition members, from 12th December 1803 until 14th May 1804, when the expedition left to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark also used Camp Dubois again when they returned from the West on 23rd September 1806.

Camp Dubois was located near the mouth of the Riviere du Bois (Wood River) on the east Bank of the Mississippi in United States territory. This was important because the west side was Spanish until it was ceded to France on 9th March 1804 and then to the U.S. on 10th March.

Preparations for the expedition were underway before Louisiana was purchased by the U.S. Thomas Jefferson was determined to press on with the expedition even if the purchase of Louisiana fell through. Lewis and Clark were preparing for what could have been a spying expedition on foreign territory.

The winter of 1803-04 was a busy one for the members of the expedition. The soldiers participated in training, maintained the camp, had inspections, marched, stood guard duty and hunted to supplement their rations. The keelboat was made ready and supplies were collected, inventoried and stored ready for the departure of the expedition in the spring of 1804.

Lewis and Clark used this time to gather as much information on Louisiana – its geography, people and conditions – as they could by talking to American, French and Spanish residents, traders and trappers. They also smoothed the way for the transfer of Louisiana by working closely with Spanish authorities in St Louis.

The State of Illinois has erected an excellent replica of the camp buildings and a fantastic visitor centre near the site of the original Camp Dubois. Nobody really knows exactly where the original site was located. The river has changed course and many floods have obliterated any building sites. Not a single artefact has been found to indicate the exact site.

Cabin on site, furnished with tools, furniture & period foodstuffs gets the nod from Kay.
Cabin on site, furnished with tools, furniture & period foodstuffs gets the nod from Kay.

Inside, the fort exhibits living quarters and a cabin; allbuildings are very well presented with basic furnishings along with stocks of foods, weapons and tools, trade goods and general expedition supplies. Costumed re-enactors are on hand to answer visitor’s questions. There is even a kitchen garden planted with the types of vegetables commonly available and grown in that era.

The Visitor Centre tells about life at Camp Dubois and preparations for the expedition. They have built a full sized replica of the keelboat, sectionalised to show how it was set up and packed for the voyage on the Missouri River.

A lot of money has been spent to do the place up properly to attract visitors and history buffs. It’s a fantastic place and #1 stop on the Lewis and Clark Trail.    George

The kitchen garden.
The kitchen garden.

See more Camp Dubois pictures from George in our May News gallery.

Duck Season

Paul reports moderate success for himself and Jeff on the duck opening weekend.

“A little quiet on the Saturday morning, I got only one Teal while Jeff’s bird is flying yet. We had better success on the river on Sunday when Jeff took a Teal and a Woodie while I managed two Woodies and one Teal. We were using breechloaders this year but have determined to revert to muzzleloaders in future.”    Le Reynard

Quail Season

More Hunting

Saturday the 5th of April was, significantly, the first day of the Victorian 2014 Stubble Quail season. I arose to a superb morning of clear skies and a nice southerly breeze. Encouraged, I slipped into my hunting clothes, hastily washed down some toast with hot coffee, and reached for “Old Reliable” – my muzzleloading side-by-side percussion shotgun. I carefully packed her into my Ute along with her usual bag of fixings, grabbed my game bag and set off to enjoy some bird huntin’.

A short drive later I arrived at a familiar hunting area that had proved productive over past seasons. Before loading “Old Reliable” I busted a couple of caps on each nipple to clear and dry out any residual oil. I then loaded measured charges of 70 grains of 3fg into each barrel. The powder was followed by an over powder wad, then 1 1/8 oz of number 8 shot (from an original measure) and then an over shot card on top of all. I placed a percussion cap on each cone and I set off to try and flush out those small and elusive birds.

Following recent rains in the area the prospects were looking good and there was ample grass cover. However after a half hour I had not heard that musical whirring of wings nor seen any small brown feathered streaks rocketing through the air. Ahead of me a pair of Teal lifted from the edge of small body of water and landed on the water. So with ideal cover between us, I proceeded to stalk them.

As I edged nearer I could hear the unmistakable “meow” of some Wood Ducks as yet unseen. When I was some 25 to 30 yards away I peered above the cover in front of me and there, on the edge of the water, was a mob of up to about ten Woodies.

I did not have long to take in this picture, for as soon as I had raised my head all of the birds lifted. Bringing “Old Reliable” quickly to the shoulder I picked out one of the Grey Teal in front of me, passed the front bead in front of it and dropped the hammer down on the little copper cap. Instantly smoke billowed from the muzzle blocking my vision momentarily, but I was rewarded by the evident sound of a duck splashing into the water.

But there was absolutely no time to dwell on that success. I quickly drew a bead on a Wood Duck that was trying to make a lot of air between us and brought the second barrel into play. Once again the flame from that little copper cap ignited the powder and the 1 1/8 oz of shot intercepted that Woody at exactly the right spot and it came tumbling down to splash in the water as well.

All this noise and smoke caused another small raft of ducks nearby to take to the air. Having quickly re-loaded the right barrel I watched a solitary Wood Duck circle out to my left and swing back in near to where I was crouching. As he came in closer the gun was presented and with a nice smooth swing past his beak more smoke and noise filled the air. At this time a gentle breeze cleared the smoke quickly and I could see that Woody falling motionless to the ground.

With the aid of the breeze pushing the ducks to the water’s edge I was able to retrieve the two birds. I then wandered over to where the third bird had fallen and put all three in the game bag. Not a bad start to the day, for a “quail shoot” I thought as I carried on walking. Another hour of hunting passed but not a single quail did I see.

I decided to head back to my Ute for a drink and a bit of a rest and to empty my game bag (three ducks can get a bit heavy after awhile). I reloaded and capped both barrels and after a break I decided to check out another spot. I could see some fresh grass and sedge growing because of the recent rains. Good cover I thought.

Le Reynard’s bag for the opening of Quail season - All good sport.
Le Reynard’s bag for the opening of Quail season – All good sport.

I had only gone a few metres amongst this fresh re-growth when from under my feet exploded a pair of Stubble Quail. Caught off guard momentarily I quickly gathered my senses and lifted ‘Old Reliable” to the shoulder and in one easy movement passed the muzzle in front of the right hand bird and let fly with the load of number 8 shot.

Due to the cloud of smoke in front of me, for the breeze had died down, I was not quite sure if I had a hit or miss. Then I noticed a small light brown lump doing a final flutter on the ground about 25 metres to my left. Success!!! I went over and picked up that plump bird and stowed it in my game bag.

After loading the right barrel with a fresh charge I recapped both nipples and continued hunting for quail with renewed vigour. When, after a further fifteen minutes or more, with no other birds flushed I headed back to the Ute. I cleared “Old Reliable” and packed all the other gear away, then bade a silent “thank you” to the hunting gods. On arriving home I cleaned the birds, took care of “Old Reliable” and still had time for lunch. A very pleasant morning’s sport!

Quail being so small, a single bird would never make a sufficient meal, but by adding some Grey Teal, rabbit, a pigeon and some herbs together they all make a wonderful mouth-watering game terrine. My kitchen rules!        Le Reynard   

Rendezvousing Easter to ANZAC.

We promoted it as a grand opportunity for an extended camp to test our measure at living in a past era. Unfortunately we had to compete with the many and varied interests and associated activities that had been planned for one, or the other, of these popular extended weekends. So the attendance numbers were down but the conviviality and good times were there by bucket loads.

Attending were Murray Convey, Tom Jefferies, Ian Convey, Chook Fowler, Paul Sly, Jim Walker, Peter Convey, Charlie Timma, John Morland, Bob Ellis and Matt McMurrich. Only Jim and Chook took full advantage on the opportunity to camp the complete ten days.  The ebb and flow of pilgrims arriving / departing caused fearsome confusion of the planned activities, but ample shooting fun was always on hand.

Matt gets a winning shot away under scrutiny. Ian Convey photo
Matt gets a winning shot away under scrutiny. Ian Convey photo

Ian brought along some new steel target gongs which we hope can remain in place at our designated shoot area. There are three of these gongs suspended on a single bar; the first is easily seen offering a reasonably simple scoring shot; the second requires a more careful aim and steady hand; while seeing that teensy-weensy third gong was just pure frustration for my tired old eyes. Anyway, Peter won the gong shoot.

Our long range buffalo target was fitted with a clanger bell that Ian had made up at home. This was attached after some scrub was cleared so that that buff head could actually be seen. I thought the range was about half a mile but Ian paced it roughly at 90 yards. So I misjudged a wee bit but a trifle more powder in future might be the go.

We made several forays for camp firewood and a special effort for our hosts as Bernard will be somewhat incapacitated for several months after his recent accident. Lots of firewood was cut, gathered and split – something to sing about. Well we had three musicians entertaining by various degrees with guitar notes, banjo plunking with occasional harmonica strands to be faintly heard and enjoyed.

Ian strums while Murray sews capotes and Matt just hums along
Ian strums while Murray sews capotes and Matt just hums along

Other news in brief: Our toilet houses received some bird proofing attention by Jim. The can push shoot was terrific fun as always. The cans were brightly painted in different colours to avoid confusion. There were only two teams – Yellow team and Blue team. Yellow team won but Blue had more fun, I think! Charlie managed to squeeze in lots of sighting and practise shots. Murray is back to making capotes. Jim’s kangaroo tail soup received a unanimous rating of “simply delicious” by the entire group. Ian’s singing needs a back-up group. Any back-up group! The ground around the base of the Hershel House shoot post was levelled to avert any O H & S issue. Judy did the damper, she substituting for Bernard’s left arm and collar bone. Charlie sets a fine dining table. Tom has the biggest Bowie. Bernard’s Cache has an abundance of firewood, it just needs picking up. Bob’s general health and well-being appeared vastly improved by lots of sleep at a well stoked camp-fire and good companionship. Black powder is king. And lastly, the weather over the 12 days was simply – well, in a word – salubrious.

Australian media: We are advised to not judge all Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics; conversely we are encouraged to judge all gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.  An anomaly of advice and an unfortunate state of affairs, me thinks!

Hivernant – one who has wintered over in the high country for several years.

“The smoke I blow out the vent till there is no more, then with separate measure a charge of powder I pour, a patch and round ball go next down the bore, I shoulder the gun and shoot some more.”       Author unknown

One Response feed

  1. Rachael Mc Kenzie says:

    Once again I was captivated by Le Reynard’s article on his recent hunting foray using his trusty “Old Reliable”. I enjoy these accounts as one gets the feeling of being right there, experiencing the thrill of the hunt, while anticipating a bountiful harvest. Well done Le Reynard, keep the adventure stories coming.
    The Americans’ love of history certainly shows through in Mr Mohr’s fascinating article and supporting photos. I would also like to compliment Mr Timma on his fine pencil drawings that have appeared in your newsletters.