Armed with muzzle-loading weapons, dressed in handmade period clothing, a group of local men and women enthusiastically keep alive the fur trapping era.
Mountain men reenactors started a local club in 1987.
At that time most were from Montrose and the club became Montrose Mountain Men. Open to men, women and other family members from the Umcompahgre and Grand valleys. Most of the present members are from Delta County.
The club has been around long enough that some of the parents were children when they began attending gatherings. They have grown up and now their children are enjoying games, crafts, and activities planned especially for them.
Shooting muzzle-loaded firearms and throwing knives and tomahawks are primary activities for adults atrendezvous and encampments, intermingled with a variety of other competitions and activities.
Objectives of Mountain Men are:
1. To develop an active program of outdoor activities incorporating the shooting of muzzle-loading firearms, camping in a primitive manner, trapping, exploring and developing other skills which would have been part of the daily lives of the American mountain men.
2. To research and keep alive the history traditions of the American fur trade from the early to the mid 1880s and the people involved therein.
3. To handmake or trade for all clothing, equipment, accoutrements, and "possibles" that are reasonably practicable.
4. To encourage family participation whenever possible.
5. To practice and encourage conservation of natural resources: to hunt, fish and trap in compliance with all state and local wildlife laws.
6. To promote brotherhood and good sportsmanship among all club members.
An encampment today is a small gathering (usually for a single club) where mountain men, women and their families can slip back in time and live as fur trappers and pioneer families might have in the 1880s. Members bring their tents or teepees and set up and stay in a smaller tent village, or can set up in a room if the gathering is held at Fort Uncompahgre. Shooting is not allowed within the city limits . . . so when at the fort these activities are eliminated. Competitive and fun events are planned though not as elaborate or as varied as those at a rendezvous. Visiting and sharing experiences and stories are common.
A present day rendezvous, like its historic counterpart, is much larger. It is planned and carried out by many mountain man clubs with more attendees and a wide variety of events that would include competitions with muzzle loaded pistols and rifles, tomahawks and knifes, fire starting with flint and steel striker, planned to accommodate the entire family with pleasurable and memorable experiences.
The rendezvous dates back to 1825 when the men of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company gathered to exchange their pelts for needed supplies at the end of the trapping season. It, and others held in the years that followed, grew to be quite a party. The event might last for a while, perhaps even for a month. Other than trading, the rendezvous is known to have included singing, dancing, horse racing, running racing, target shooting, story telling, and a good share of gambling and whiskey drinking.
Round-robin participants bring an item of trade goods, maps, furs, beadwork, Dutch ovens — it can be anything pertaining to the time period and mountain men.Everyone sits in a circle and offer to trade for another's trade item.
The Mountain Man Run is extremely competitive. A course is set up to challenge the best of the participants in shooting, fire starting, setting traps, tomahawk and knife throwing, shooting bow and arrow, etc. A lot of energy, skill and accuracy are needed. Contestants are timed and scored with the winner receiving a recognition prize.
Local club officers are:Booshway (president) Jon Day, Secundo (vice president) Ray Dowel, Brigade Captain (range officer) Jerry Caddel, Purser (treasurer) Jerry Tolka.
Those interested in the fur trade era, and the activities of the local Mountain Man club, might be interested in several summer events.
On Memorial Day weekend there will be gathering at a shooting range on a ranch on the Doughspoon. Watchfor details as the event draws closer.
June 11 is the date set for a gathering at Fort Uncompahgre in Delta's Confluence Park. Families are welcome to visit, ask questions and inquire about joining the club. Events are planned to interest all ages and abilities.
For more information contact either Jon or Jennie Day at 856-6329.blog comments powered by Disqus