Saturday, 26 March 2016

Buckskinning. In The Beginning.

Early Mountain Man days camping in the woods.

It really was a lifestyle back then, no water on tap, no electricity, & yes I had to hunt to put meat on the table.

That is what it was called when I first got into this hobby/lifestyle that we now call Living History. Back then we made “primitive stuff”, if it was made from natural materials, then it was okay. Later I learned that in fact it was not “okay”. Just because it was made from natural materials, didn’t make it authentic to the period. The period then was the 19th century, everyone wanted to be a “Mountain Man” regardless of whether we had a horse or not, & of course we had to have a Hawken rifle!
The Hawken rifle was another mistake, because it was not as popular as it was made out to be. People moving into the mountains to trap beaver for furs carried whatever gun they could lay their hands on, probably spending more money on traps than on their gun. Another mistake was using a caplock gun. At the time of the Mountain Man & the height of the beaver fur trade, 1825 to 1840, flintlocks were still preferred to caplocks; the flintlock being more reliable when you are far from the settlements & a new supply of percussion caps.
But I enjoyed those days just the same, though had I known the right path when I started, I would not have wasted so much money on items that I did not need. But having found the right way to go about things; research first before doing anything, then I found it was just as much fun starting over again, this time, for me at least, with a new persona & an earlier period, the early to mid 18th century. Now all my spare time was spent in further research & making new equipment. My wife helped me with the clothing as she is far more skilled at pattern making & sewing. I made my own leather leggings & woodland Indian style center seam moccasins, I also finger wove my legging garters & beaded the fringe with French glass beads.

Then there was the skills. Fortunately I was born & raised in the country, so I learnt many of the life skills when I was very young. There was however still many more skills to learn before I could consider myself a common woodsman of the 18th century. Again this learning was a lot of fun, just like the making of my equipment was, except that the skills learning never ends, experience being the teacher, & I consider 40 years later that I still have much to learn.
Improving, but still a ways to go.

My hair turns grey, & finally I get there.


Fred Sinclair said...

Love this post! Been there, done that. My first BP rifle was a Hawken percussion in 58 caliber, weighed a ton. Would be fun to start all over again. Do miss the Buckskinner era.

Keith H. Burgess said...

Well why not start all over again Fred? It is never too late if it is something you enjoy doing.
Thank you for taking the time to comment Fred, much appreciated.
Regards, Keith.

Dave White said...

Good post! It brought back many memories. I remember how tough it was getting started. No instant access to research materials then. It was read anything you could find and observing what everyone else was doing. Our first tent was a baker lean-to, made of painters tarps bought at the local hardware store. I spent a week at the kitchen table hunched over my wife's sewing machine to make it. Bags made from old purses, old belts for straps, etc. But learning was the best part. That and the wonderful people we met along the way. I think it's been the best journey I've ever taken!!