By: Bears Butt

Today we said our last good byes to one of the greatest men on this earth (in my opinion), Black Arrow.


I remember meeting him for the first time at one of the early Old Ephraim Mountain Men rendezvous, probably back about 1980 or so.  I thought about him and how quiet he was and still was right in the middle of the action.  He never drank any hard liquor or beer either, but was right there along side those who were very much enjoying their drinks.

Black Arrow had something very special about his character that really drew me in.  He was honest as the day is long.  He was caring and very much giving.  He would pass on a bite of jerky if he knew someone else wanted it and there was only one piece left.

One muzzleloader deer season he and Magpie came to our camp, not to camp with us, but to let us know they were hunting near by.  He was shooting his flintlock rifle.  Again I thought how strange for someone shooting a gun that was a handicap in the first place would further restrict their chances at tagging a buck by shooting a flintlock rifle.  That was Jim.

After we all got to know him better, and he with our group as well, he did camp with us a time or two and he was just as much a gentleman as he was at rendezvous and around the women and children.  On one particular hunt we decided we needed to make a long push through some trees and brush to kick the deer out.  Black Arrow was on my left side as we proceeded.  After about 2 miles of pushing, I angled his direction and offered up a piece of jerky and some water.  He didn’t bring any water that time and gladly took a drink (and jerky).  He said he didn’t think we would be walking that far.  His leg was giving him some trouble and so he and I continued to walk much slower and finally came out to the meeting place on the road.  We didn’t do any pushes that far again.

I have to tell you all another story about the Old Ephraim Mountain Men Rendezvous….it wasn’t that long ago….Up on the shooting line Black Arrow and Magpie were the Range Masters and doing a great job, as usual, keeping us yahoo’s in line.  But we all knew the prizes for the top shooters could use a little boost.  Black Arrow and Magpie could not do anything about that and we knew that as well.

Well, as fate would have it, I won a first place on one of the shoots.  I figured I’d end up with a tube of bear grease or a half knapped flint arrow head or something totally un-usable…instead when Black Arrow called me down to the Council Fire to award me with my prize, it was a Damascus Knife Blade!  For those of you who might not know what that is, to make a Damascus blade, you have to heat a bar of steel extremely hot, hot enough to be able to fold it, and pound it into one piece again.  Then you treat it with oil and then heat it up again and fold it again and continue to do this process for many, many, many times….And then, you have to heat it and pound it and shape it into what you want it to be…in this case a knife blade!

I’d like to give credit to the man who made this knife blade, but for this story it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that Black Arrow gave it to me as a first place winner of a pretty hard shoot that he and Magpie had come up with.  I was, and AM very proud of that knife blade and deep down inside, I honestly think Black Arrow went into his own camp, dug through his stuff and came out with that knife blade to give to me.  That is MY story and I’M sticking to it!

Well, much later, after that rendezvous, I put a handle on that blade and made a knife sheath for it and it has been with my mountain man clothes ever since.  I will be wearing that knife on this coming muzz hunt and on my elk hunts as well.  It holds an edge very well and has already helped process a few deer, both in the field and at home.

You can say what you will about a man not crying, but believe me I have a lot of tears in my eyes right now, as I think about this man and how special he was.

Black Arrow, you are going to be missed “BIG TIME”, but you can also bet there will be a ton of story’s told where you were right there!  The most honest man I have ever met!  He could have “swindled” me and Winemaker many years ago when we bought our boys their first muzzleloader rifles.  45 caliber TC Cherokee models.  Fine little rifles and Jim made sure we were happy with them and the price and of course we thought he was not making any money for himself, the price was that low.  He assured us he was making enough.  I’ll bet he didn’t even get enough to cover the shipping costs, he just wanted to see two young boys get involved with  muzzleloading and rendezvous.

God Bless you Jim “Black Arrow” Gill!  God Bless!

Bears Butt

Sept. 19, 2013


Written on September 19th, 2013 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    Wapiti commented

    Well done!

    September 20, 2013 at 11:53 am | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS). | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man

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