By: Bears Butt

Muskrat 2May 12, 2014

When it comes to down right good folks, this is your man.  He would rather go naked than to see you shivering in the cold.  His heart was as big as any heart could be and he enjoyed everything he did.  His passion was whatever he wanted to do at the time and he put everything he had into it.  He loved helping others who were less fortunate than himself.  He loved his family and his friends were a part of that family.  I’m very pleased to have been a part of his family.

At a Cache Valley rendezvous way back when, Wapiti Dung and I were there trying to figure out if and how we could become a part of this Mountain Man thing we were enjoying.  We didn’t have the leathers and all the fancy clothing and coats these other guys and gals had.  We were dressed in our Levis and plaid shirts.  Our hats were made out of cotton and had a single bill sticking out over our eyes.  But we had the desire to learn and observed with full intent the clothing we would have to someday be obtaining and putting on for these events.  We really enjoyed the shooting events that were pulled off by these guys.  A funner event could not have been pulled off at the time.

Well, it was getting very close to dark when the call went through camp that there was going to be a candle shoot and to gather up our stuff and get down there.

We did as we were instructed and stood along the shooting line.  I was on the very end of the line.  The range master came down and handed each one of us our own small empty bean can with a hole cut in one side and a candle firmly stuck inside the can.  This shoot was going to involve putting the lighted candle flame out by shooting it off the candle wick!  Impossible was my first thought.  But then I was new to this whole blackpowder shooting thing and didn’t understand that “anything” is possible when you shoot a blackpowder gun!

As I stood there waiting for more instructions, up along side me came this big guy, dressed in leathers and very much intoxicated!  He could barely stand as I recall, as he had been busily partaking of the fruits of the rendezvous with all his many friends….all day long…I introduced myself, “Hi, my name is Wynn”!  “Hello Wynn, My name is Muskrat”!

So, down again came the Range Master and he handed my new friend Muskrat a can with a candle in it.  We all then went down range and sat our cans with the candles on the top of the range rail and lit the candles.  Everyone stepped back to the firing line and prepared for their shot.  As the Range Master went down the line, one shooter at a time, each shooter took their best shot at putting the flame out without hitting their candle and one at a time nobody did it including myself, and with one last shooter standing there, waivering his rifle (remember I said he could barely stand up), he calmly settled down and with the sound of the rifle going off, the candle flame swooshed out and a single hole was visible behind where the flame once flickered!  Our candle shoot winner was born!  Muskrat won the shoot, hands down!

That was my introduction to Muskrat!  A true mountain man if there ever was one.  Fully decked out in his leather shirt, pants, moccasins and a really cool large brimmed hat.  All over his person were dangles of different events and assorted Fue-Forah.  He was big, robust, had a story to tell about everything imaginable,  he could out drink most men in camp, always laughing and just a plain all around good guy.  I liked him from the get go.  Every rendezvous from that one on, it was always my goal to find him and let him know I was in the camp.  I didn’t want to be a problem to him, just wanted to let him know I was there, just in case he decided he might like me too.  I did the same with Just George, another story in itself.

What I didn’t know about Muskrat was that he was an Ex Marine, a man wounded in Viet Nam and subsequently a recipient of the Purple Heart, a plumber who helped build the Alaska Pipeline project and a musician.

Muskrat was a very well rounded individual, but that is not all.  With all of his heart he poured out his love for people less fortunate than himself.  He conducted fund raisers of all sorts to help gather up moneys in order to purchase the goods and services those people needed to survive.  He helped homeless veterans by donating and gathering up donations to the tune of probably millions of dollars over the years!  He also was a key player in helping the NRA gather funds to help local organizations and the Utah DWR build and expand upon shooting sports properties, training and materials.  He was a member of the Patriot Guard and was proud to go on their rides and to protect the integrity of the funerals of fallen soldiers and he was THE man to get the Wall of Healing set up in Logan so that everyone in the Northern end of the state could see it and read the names of all the soldiers who died in Viet Nam.  Muskrat loved his country and he loved his Flag!  One day he came to my home and made me correct a hanging flag I had outside my front door.  He would not enter my home until I fixed it….the stars have to be closest to the flag stand he said.  I fixed it and he came inside.

Muskrat gave me a bumper sticker that said, “It’s God’s job to punish Bin Laden, It’s our job to arrange the meeting”!  A U.S. Marine bumper sticker.  I proudly displayed that bumper sticker and it’s still on my vehicle today.  When word came down that Bin Laden had been found and properly disposed of, Muskrat quickly gave me another bumper sticker that read “Osama bin Laid out, Thank You Navy Seals”.

Muskrat, I’m proud to have gotten to know you these many years.  I hated to hear the word that you had cancer.  You fought hard and long trying to rid yourself of such an awful disease.  You woke me up to get into the Veterans system of medical care and I didn’t get the chance to tell you my first appointment is next week, May 22.  You made Roy Torgesons Korean War Purple Heart be so rightfully presented to him.  Your courage, friendship, honesty and loving spirit will be with me forever.

I love you man!

Bears Butt

May 13, 2014


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    Wapiti commented

    I would thing this —– would be your address at Muskrats funeral. It says it all and is just the way it happened. This is why we are mountain men – because of Dan.

    May 14, 2014 at 11:03 pm
      Bears Butt commented

      This will be part of it, but not entirely as written here. Others will say some of what I have said here, but I have a little bit more to share about him.

      May 15, 2014 at 8:15 am | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.