By: Bears Butt

This is an account of the growing of the Willow Creek Free Trappers from its inception.  If in my account I misrepresent some true facts, please get hold of me and I will rectify the error(s).  I do not intend to make errors in this accounting.  This writing is for historical purposes and the more accurate the better.  Some names of those not associated with the Willow Creek Free Trappers will be either fictitious names I have made up, or I will make the name and the event one which you can read between the lines of.  I don’t intend to P.O. anyone.

The number of active Willow Creek Free Trappers in the beginning were not so large as they are today.  All good things tend to start out small and grow from that point.  The Willow Creek Free Trappers group is no different than that.  A few gather to share in a common thing, sport, activity etc. and it grows from that point.

It was in the early 1970’s, Rick (No Grimace),  Clyde (Tracker) and I (Bears Butt) had recently gotten out of the armed services and back into civilian life.  We each had enjoyed our time in Viet Nam and other parts of the USA and/or abroad and were happy to get on with the rest of our lives.  Not much different than hundreds of thousands of others across this great nation of ours.

Looking for something “different”, Rick, was intent at purchasing himself a muzzle load rifle and I had gone with him on one of his shopping excursions.  He was not sure which way to go with his purchase and during those days, one had to do a lot of digging to find information about most everything in life.  We did not have the world wide web as a source of information and so, in order not to waste his money, he wanted to check out all of the different aspects of muzzleloaders and how they operated.  Did he want to go with a flint lock or a cap lock?  This is a big question to ask oneself before laying out the money for the rifle and gear to operate it.

In the mean time, he got married and of course a major thing like that can cause personal plans to come to a halt and be put on a back burner.  Which it did in his case.  His muzzleloader purchase would just have to wait.  Clyde and I were busy with college and sharing  rent on a home near Weber State University and of course, we were poor college students attending school on the G.I. Bill.  We had our dreams, but school and partying were our main stays at the time.

It wasn’t long before I too married and Clyde was making summer trips to Alaska where he worked and played and was pretty much on his own.  I moved in with my new bride and we started our lives together.   Clyde was going to have a birthday in August only a couple of weeks  after I had gotten married and to show that I was still his good friend, my new bride, Sherry (Winemaker) and I decided we would purchase him a muzzleloader  rifle kit.  He was a pretty happy dude, as he also shared with Rick that age old dream of owning a muzzleloader rifle.  In his own words, Clyde said “He was shocked Sherry and Wynn would spend so much money on him for a birthday present.  In the 70’s the price of a muzzleloader kit could buy several weeks of beer ‘n grimace.” Now Clyde had one and he went right to work putting it together.  No, quick and dirty accomplishment in those days.

Rick heard about Clydes good fortune and so did Ricks wife, Diane.  She gave Rick a muzzleloader kit on his birthday that November.  This was a great thing.  Now Rick has his dream before him and all winter to put it together.

Well, seeing how happy Clyde and Rick were with their new rifles made Sherry decide that perhaps I too would be as happy if I had a muzzleloader rifle kit and she purchased one for me for Christmas of that same year.  Wow!  Happy was an understatement!  I was jumping for joy!  This kit had no name as to brand, just that it was a .45 caliber and through a bit of research I found out it was a Kentucky style with the stock extending to the very muzzle of the rifle.  Actually, all three of our rifles were of the Kentucky style.   The three of us put our rifle kits together as quickly as we could.  I then went into sort of a “gotta get it” mountain man mentality.  I gathered up some leather and made a possible bag.  Hit a local slaughter shop and picked up a cows horn and made a powder horn.  Drilled a hole in the end of a cut off deer antler for a powder measure.  I really went to town getting ready to shoot that rifle!

Clyde had finished fitting all the many pieces of his rifle into the stock and when he was ready to make the final finish to the wood, he had a great idea and sent the stock up to a friend he had met in Alaska to have the stock carved.  His friend, Sam Welch, was a very accomplished carving and engraving artist and had done work for several gun manufacturers and won quite a few carving and engraving contests.  Sam did what he could to mark out a design on Clydes stock.  He did some of the carving to show Clyde how it was intended to be carved and sent it back for Clyde to finish.

Between what the three of us were doing we had many, many conversations about muzzleloaders, equipment needed and where we needed to find all of the stuff we were going to need to shoot these things.  We needed powder, ball, caps, patches etc.  And as fate would have it, we found several local sources  where we could acquire our needed “stuff”.

Well, it wasn’t long and all three of us had hour rifles done and were ready to go out and shoot them.  None of us had ever shot one, nor even loaded a muzzleloader.  We each had read a little about the “how tos” in books and so we felt really confident we could get the job done.  We picked a nice Spring day and hit the gravel pit above town to shoot them.  We all had the necessary equipment to get the job done and we were all excited to do it.   This was going to be a fun time!

Rick and Clyde had such confidence in their rifles and how they had put them together with such precision, that they had bet a case of beer on the first shot and who’s gun would come closest to the center of the target on their first shot.  I do not know who won that bet, but I do know that the beer betting tradition still holds true today.  It also lead to us shooting for a coveted trophy we made and call the “Silver Slug”.  That is another story that will be written some day.

With the three rifles sighted in, we were pretty pleased with what we had accomplished to that date.  Life certainly was good!


At the time Utah did not have a special muzzleloader deer season and so, being the venturous sole I am, I decided I would take my muzzleloader out on the general rifle deer season and try it out.  I had sighted it in and filed down the rear sight just right so I could hit pretty much what I aimed at out to about 50 yards.  I was confident, that given the chance at a muley buck I could hit it.  There were no  restrictions as to shooting .45 caliber round balls at deer at that time and so that is what I chose to shoot.

Opening day found me several thousand yards away from camp, hiking slowly along with one of my nephews, Jay (Soft Ball), taking step for step with me going up the mountain.  Jay was a couple of years away from being old enough to legally carry a rifle on a deer hunt, so he was with his Uncle Wynn to see how it was done. Suddenly in the trees ahead coming our way was a nice 4 point buck and it was going to go right past us at about 30 yards.   The hammer was cocked, the gun brought to bear and the shot taken.  The buck was laying in the sage when the smoke cleared!  YYYEEEHHAAAAA!  Buck down!  In fact,  on that particular years hunt, that was the only buck anyone in our camp took…and with a muzzleloader to boot!

A new mark was set and a new challenge was established.  Can anyone beat Wynn’s (Bears Butt) luck?


Well, time marched on and soon Jack (Wapiti Dung) purchased himself a muzzleload rifle kit and put it together.  And as time continued to march on, years and years of marching, nearly everyone in the family had one!

Well, what goes with a muzzleloader better than the re-enacting of the age old mountain man era of the early 1800’s?  Jack had gotten himself involved with an organization in the Brigham City area and they were going to have a shooting event in the mouth of Perry Canyon.  Jack invited Clyde, Rick and myself to that event since it was open to the public.  Clyde and Rick could not attend and so, Jack and I found ourselves shooting against “old timers” at the days event.  The “Old Timers” all wore leather pants and shirts or they had on other clothing that showed us they had been doing this mountain man thing for quite some time.  We were quite a bit out numbered in their ranks and I felt as if perhaps I had bitten off too much to even be in their midst.  Jack and my shooting skills with these newly acquired “smoke poles” just wasn’t up to what these old timers were showing us.  On one of the last shooting events of the day they made everyone gather up in teams of four people.  I hung back and soon there was a team looking for one more man.  I was it.

The object of this shoot was to cut a 2X4 board in two pieces by shooting numerous times at a painted line across the 2X4 until the top part fell off.  The team who did that first was the winning team.  Every team started at the same time and boom, boom, boom, boom went the guns.  Once fired you had to quickly re-load and fire again.  Remember the team that cut the board first was the winners.  I lucked out and was on a team with some pretty good shots and when it was all over the team I was on won the shoot!  I’ll never forget that and the prize I won was a pewter beaver, which I proudly wore on my possible bag for many years.  I called it a “silver beaver” as a rub to those who didn’t have one.

Now, with one small rendezvous gathering behind us, Jack and I started to hit other one day gatherings around the area.  We found ourselves clear over in the Price area one day and even though we did not win any of the shooting events we still had a great time playing.  And then that Fall, over Labor Day weekend, we were surrounded by the essence of “Fort Bridger” in Wyoming and the rendezvous that was being held there.

Now, you talk about Old Timers…This was the place for Old Timers and lots of them.  Tipis were scattered all around and Indian and Mountain men were also everywhere you looked.  It was quite the sight and there we were among them in our levi pants and wanna be shirts and hats.  But we were there by golly and we were having quite a time.  The next most memorable shoot of my life happened that weekend.  There we were on the firing line with over 100 other shooters.  We were not the only ones in levi’s, but as far as we were concerned we were.

This particular shoot called for the shooter to hit and break a dry spaghetti  stick off the top of the target range at 30 yards, breaking off part and leaving the bottom part still sticking in the target board.  Imagine even being able to see a spaghetti stick at 30 yards let alone hit it.  Everyone had a number down on the range and each was handed a spaghetti stick and we went down and stuck it up above our number.  When the shooting started the range master called out the number of the shooter and everyone watched as he took his one shot.  Boom..miss!  Boom..miss!  Boom..miss!  and so it went as the shooting got closer and closer to our numbers.  When it was my turn to shoot, my heart was pumping really hard.  My number was called and the crowd went quiet.  I took aim and carefully squeezed the trigger, BOOM….and the top part of the spaghetti stick disappeared!  I was shocked and so was the crowd and the range master…I hit it!

In the end, I was the only one out of all those shooters to hit the spaghetti on the first shot.  Others did it on subsequent shots, but not as good as me!  I won a very find hand made smokers bag with a hand crafted clay pipe inside it!  I still have it to this day.  And NOW, Jack and I are Seasoned Mountain men!  We have the guns and possibles, we have a few stories, we have the swagger.  We have been to “Bridger”!  All we need now is the clothing.  And I already have one tanned deer hide from the first buck I got with my muzzy!

Come Spring of the next year, we heard about the “Old Ephraim Mountain Men” and their Cache Valley Rendezvous, being held up on the Beaver Creek, somewhere North of the Beaver Mountain Ski Resort.  There was not a question at all that we were going to be there for the entire weekend.  Now mind you, we are still going to be in levis, but that is alright with us and with all of the participants of that rendezvous.  And the weekend found Sherry and I camped along side, Jack and his wife Marla (Rut Runner) in a mud hole.  It had rained and snowed prior to our going up to the rendezvous site on the Friday before the weekend event really got under way and the mountain road was slippery and muddy beyond belief.  As we approached the rendezvous camp area where the tipis were pitched sliding and spinning, here to our rescue cam Arron “Many Skins” Giles with his truck and chain.  He yelled, “I’ll pull you till we stop and that is where you will be camped!”  And he did!  And that is where we camped!

The next day was Saturday, and Monie (Bones) and Clyde came up to “The Big Muddy”  with Sherry and my infant son, Brandon (Many Steps AKA Weasel) in tow.   He was about 8 months old at the time.  They too enjoyed the mud.  In fact, the mud was a side show to the rest of the rendezvous.  Sure it was muddy and cold and wet, but the excitement of being at a real honest to goodness rendezvous was a real treat.

Eventful?  Well, I don’t recall that we won any shoots but we sure shot a lot.  What I do remember is two old time Old Ephraim mountain folks wrestling in a big mud hole.  One was a woman named “Morning Star” and the man’s name escapes me.  I’m pretty sure they were dating at the time.  Boy howdy did that pair have a muddy good time in that mud hole.  How they stood the cold of that I will never know and worst yet, how did they get cleaned up afterword?  The cold creek?

Now some of you who are reading  this might just be historians and as for me telling you the exact date of that rendezvous, I can not, but I can tell you it was that club’s 2nd annual mountain man rendezvous.  Their first one was held on the campus of Utah State University the year before.  We did not make it to that one, but we have not missed one since.

A short note on the next years rendezvous.  This same bunch from the Old Ephraim Mountain Men held their third rendezvous on the banks of the Rock Creek, just up the road from the Hardware Ranch.  That was one very pretty place for a rendezvous and I will always remember as we drove up the road and looked down into the narrow valley to our left side, there stood the many, many tipis and lean too tents pitched down there.  It really took your breath away it was such a pretty site.  At that years rendezvous of course we participated in the shooting events, but the most eventful thing I remember from that was when Jack traded something for a blackpowder pistol!  WOW!  Just like in the days of the real mountain men of the 1800’s!  He took something of lesser value and traded UP for a pistol!  Now Jack just crossed over into being a full fledged mountain man!

Now at a rendezvous, well heck, whenever we are shooting, it is very important to Win!  We are all very competitive.  And even in levi’s we were trying to win every shoot if we could.  Over the years we obtained better shooting equipment and refined our ways of squirmin, squintin , squattin and scorein and I must say we have had our days.  Also, at the rendezvous you meet some really great people.  Actually, you can meet some very much NOT so great people as well.  But one can usually tell the good from the bad after a short time.  And we became friends with some of the best.  Nearly all of them belonged to their own gathering of folks that liked to do the blackpowder thing and they would gather their respective clubs at common locations on occasion and have their own rendezvous.

We had heard about the “Three Clubs” rendezvous for a few years before we were actually asked to join them.  The “Three Clubs” rendezvous was just what it implies, three different clubs with that one common interest of blackpowder shooting and doing what the mountain men of the past did.  They had gathered several times before we were ever invited, and when we were invited we felt very much a part of being mountain men.  We were given the directions to the gathering site and the date and when the time came, a small group of Willow Creek Free Trappers ventured that way to meet up with them and enjoy whatever it was they did.

Clyde (Tracker), Monie (Bones), Shauna (Lit’L Fawn), Kelly (Wonka the Runner),  Roy (4 Hooves), Dee (Two Breaks), Jerry (Many Grimace), Brian (Fox), Jack (Wapiti Dung) Marla (Rut Runner), Chris (not sure if she has a mtn man name), Tracy (Edjukateer)  and Steve (Dry Dog) all made the venture to join the gang at the three clubs event.  Trailers in tow.  As they approached the three clubs camp, the road was blocked by the camp of one of their attendees.  When asked if he would move some of his things so they could proceed past and find a camp site, he refused!  And so, they turned their trailers around and went back down the road and found a place big enough for them to camp.  The thing about that was, they travelled quite some distance from where the three clubs event was happening and they decided they would just have their own rendezvous right where they were camped!

Welcome to the Willow Creek Free Trappers first ever rendezvous!  YYYEEEEHHHHAAAAAA!

That was Labor Day weekend, 1984!  The group there decided after they had finished with their rendezvous, they needed to chose a Booshway for the next year.  What better way to choose that person than to have it decided by who outshot everyone else.  So since he outshot all of them they chose Jerry “Many Grimace” Torgeson as the Booshway.  They had had one heck of a great time camping and shooting and celebrating the beginning of something we have carried on every year since then.  At this point I have to thank that jackass that was camped in the middle of the road on that weekend and who refused to move a few of his camp items to allow other camps to proceed past his camp.

Again for some of you who might be keeping track of things.  Here is a listing of past Booshways of the Willow Creed Free Trappers rendezvous and the year they were acting in that capacity:

1984:  The beginning!

1985..Jerry “Many Grimace” Torgeson                      1986..Steve “Dry Dog” Skrobechewski

1987..Rick “No Grimace” Zundel                                 1988..Wynn “Bears Butt” Zundel

1989..Clyde “Tracker” Westley                                    1990..Brandon “Many Steps” Zundel

1991..Dan “Muskrat” Gyllenskog                                1992..Curtis “Visitor” Wight

1993..Tracy “Cherry” AKA “Edjukateer”  Zundel      1994..Jack “Wapiti Dung” Zundel

1995..Eric “Over E-Z” Zundel                                        1996..Steve “Fat Duck” Zundel

1997..Kent “Waldoon” Walton                                    1998..Ken “Fly’n Feathers” Ormond

1999..Reed “Pale Rider” McBride                                2000..Wynn “Bears Butt” Zundel

2001..Steve “Dry Dog” Skrobechewski                       2002..John “Yellow Hand” Fellenz

2003..(20th annual)  Monie “Bones”  and Clyde “Tracker”  Westley

2004..Cindi “Explorer” and Karl “Hunter” Summers

2005.. James “Slow Char”  and Wendy “Moose Palms” Gyllenskog

2006..Shane ”Baby Boy” and Rick “No Grimace”  Zundel

2007.. Terry “Long Shot” and  Heather “Jammers” Wells

2008..Sherry ”Winemaker” Zundel                               2009..Mike ”Lead Burn” Gyllenskog

2010..Sharon ”Bulls Eye” and  Tom “Tommy Boy”  Perkins

2011..Rod ”L-Rod” and Mellissa “Dew Drop“ Wayment

And for the upcoming year 2012..Brandon “Weasel” and April “Hot Spark“ Zundel


Now you might be thinking, how is the Booshway chosen and why are there two some years.

In the beginning the Booshway was chosen by how well they shot.  We would shoot many targets over the weekend event and keep score of those targets.  In the end, the person who had the highest score was automatically the Booshway for the next year.  Now, in reality that person could turn down the job of Booshway if they wanted and then the second best shooter would be offered the job.  If that person refused it the third place shooter was offered etc.

In the beginning we felt it quite the honor to be the Booshway of our rendezvous and even today that is a very highly regarded honor.  We have since found out it is a LOT of work being the Booshway and so, we have instituted a “Segundo” or “Second in Command” to assist in all of the work that must be done to pull off a great rendezvous.  Also, of late, instead of making it the best shooter who is the next years Booshway, we have tried to get the camp to select who they would like to see as the next years Booshway and Segundo (if needed).  It works out pretty well.  Sometimes, if a very special event or year is coming up there is discussions had in camp about someone who might volunteer for that special year and of course it comes down to camp consensus for final decision.

Our rendezvous camp sites have been along Swan Creek near Bear Lake (the beginning), Curtis Creek near Hardware Ranch,  Hardware Ranch’s actual meadows along side the Blacksmith Fork River, State Line Canyon near Portage, Utah, Portage Canyon and just this year (2011)camped on the banks of the Willow Creek on the Zundel farm in Willard, Ut.  The Willow Creek is what our group is named after.

Each camp site had  and has it’s own good and bad issues and this years was no different.  We found that we had a large and nice flat camping area with meadow grass to help keep the dust down and make it better for everyone, but we had to travel to get to a range to shoot our guns.  We are working on that aspect and hope that in 2012 we will be allowed to shoot on the same site as our camp.

The Willow Creek Free Trappers have come a long way in their 28 years of having their own rendezvous and in 2012 it will be number 29!  If the Mayan Calendar runs out and the world ends, we probably won’t see rendezvous number 30… bet is….We Will!

Bears Butt

Dec. 2011

Written on December 12th, 2011 , Just more stories

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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.