By: Bears Butt

After a couple of weeks drying our mentor told us we could take off the bark from our staves.  Weasel did his the other day and today I was able to take mine off.  We both used draw knives to accomplish this task.  It went quite quickly for me but took Weasel about 4 hours to do his.  I think his looks cleaner than mine, but I have my own reason for not taking the extra time getting the bark and secondary layer of pithy covering off mine.

I purchased this draw knife many years ago to peel the bark off our tipi poles and have had it laying around ever since.  We have also been loaned another draw knife from our friend Magpie to assist us in getting our bows done.  Thanks Magpie!!!

Since, neither Weasel nor I know anything about what we are doing, we are just going along step by step according to what our mentor, Lynn Hayes is telling us.  By the way, he leant us a moisture meter to check the moisture content of our staves.  After peeling the bark off mine, I measured it and it was 18% at the limbs and 35% in the handle area.  Weasel’s measured almost the same.  Our bows are beginning to take on some character shapes and what I consider flaws as well.  We will see what becomes of these flaws and maybe the entire process will yield to a nice fire outside, time will tell.

Bends and curves, humps and bumps and toss in a twist or two.  It’s all good!

Cracks might be another issue all together.  We will know the next time Lynn comes around.

But with 35% moisture still in the wood it needs more drying time before we can go to the next step.  Our drying tent consists of a heater with regulated heat and fan.  The fan blows the air down toward the foot of the tent and then it comes back up and out the same end it began blowing from.

The heater is set for something around 80 degrees and for a cold wet day like today, it feels really warm.

On another note, Weasel and I have been noticing our look at trees is taking on a new perspective.  I find myself looking at long straight branches coming out of the bushes and trees growing alongside the roads.  Especially the Osage Orange ones growing wildly in peoples fields.  Someday they will be cutting those trees down and won’t even know what they are cutting as they are just garbage trees with ugly thorns growing in the way of something else they want to do with their property.  All the while some bow making guy wishes he had that tree to work with.  And on an even crazier note, I have noticed I’m starting to pay more attention to the growth rings of even the food I’m preparing to eat.  Take this salmon steak for instance:

Is that crazy enough?????

March 27, 2017

Bears Butt

Written on March 27th, 2017 , Archery stuff, Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

Way back in American History, Thomas Jefferson made a great purchase from France, and obtained all the property within the Louisiana Purchase (I’m not a historian, but it was a big deal back then and much trouble came from the purchase),  After all, back then a dollar was a lot of money and he spent around 15 million to purchase ground that not too many people had traveled across.  It was uncharted territory and politically could have been the end of his career.

Anyway, we all know the end result, as he sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to map and charter the territory he had just purchased to open trade with the native Americans and to try and find a water way travel route to the Pacific Ocean from the Missouri River territory in the middle of America.  A feat nobody at that time had ever done.  The stakes were very high and nobody really knew if a small band of people could even cross this vast open land to do what the President wanted done.  They took many supplies, not only for their own companies well being, but also to trade with the native Americans.  To say the least, they had TONS of stuff.  Lewis was the chart maker, to draw maps and keep track of where they were, by using the stars at night and the instruments of the day to know where they were at all times and to record those moments and land marks as they went.  A lady native American went with them…do you know her name?  You see there were no such maps at that time…only the mountain men of old who mostly told exaggerated stories of hot springs and gysers and high snow capped mountains and the mountain passes over which they had to travel.  But mostly nothing written down in the form of a map for others to follow.  Lewis was to make those maps and bring them back to Jefferson.  Meanwhile, as they progressed slowly up the Missouri river and beyond, Jefferson sat back in his office in Washington and prayed they would make the trip safely and would come back with word that there was a travel route to the Pacific Ocean and that the Native Americans were friendly toward travelers along the route.

If you want more information about this please look it up on line and read for yourself…  I have teased you with some of the facts…there are more…read about Lewis and Clark having a “BB gun” right here on BearsButt dot com….

Well, Sherry works at Smith and Edwards and the other day a lady came into the store looking for a powder horn, an 1820 vintage mountain man hat and assorted other “era” clothing and told her about her son who was to dress the part of William Clark and give his part in the school American History learning day…a 5th grade event involving all the students.  After much discussion, Sherry volunteered my services to keep this lady from spending all her monthly check on fo-for-ah and assorted other necessary things for her son to accomplish this task.

She called me that evening and we discussed her dilema, I thought that perhaps I could help bail her out a little.  Well, it isn’t “period” dress, but a lot closer than your typical Sunday go to meeting clothes, her son Kyler likes the look he will sport to the event.

This picture is Kyler and his Grandmother Diane Murdock.  Kyler is showing off his Beaver Skin shoulder shawl and fine rifle.

He had quite a few clothing items to choose from and he wanted to try them all, whether he uses them in the show or not, will remain to be seen, but he has quite an assortment to choose from.



Kyler is showing off the warmth of a wool capote with and without the hood up and tied.


And  a mountain man didn’t always wear his capote:  You are looking quite good there Mountain Man Kyler!



And of course the pictures don’t do much unless there is some action on the scene.  Kyler has the look and the passion, now let’s see the action:

THANK YOU KYLER and I really hope your show comes off without a hitch!  It has been a pleasure to meet you and your family.  YOU WILL GO FAR in this world!

March 15, 2017

Bears Butt

Written on March 15th, 2017 , Just more stories
By: Bears Butt

If we can talk about Bucket Lists for a minute, I can share a couple with you right now.  I have had a bucket list for awhile and time is starting to run out for me to get mine completed.  I accomplished one thing last year and that was to harvest a buck deer with a bow.  I managed that in late August of last year.  Now my bucket list has changed a little.  Now it reads, harvest a buck deer with a bow that I made.  Weasels list goes a bit farther.  He wants to harvest a buck deer with a bow he made, and use arrows he made that have fletchings (feathers) from turkeys he has killed.  He will be awhile on his.

With both of our lists containing the same one item, making our own bows, we got with our friend Lynn Hayes and gleaned a little information from him about wood selection and how to get started making our own bows.  He looked over some of the tree choices we have on the farm and decided for us that the black locust either wasn’t worm free, or live enough or whatever and that the Osage Orange trees were not the best of choices for a first bow.  We have Hawthorn and wild plum to choose from as well, but the branches in the Hawthorn weren’t too big.  After a short time looking into the wild plum bush(tree) he thought he could see a couple of branches that would work.  So, plum it will be.

Weasel and I took a ride down there yesterday while the weather was nice a favorable and after just a short look into the bush we could see the branches that Lynn saw a few days before.

There were two branches about the same diameter (3 to 4 inches) that have been growing pretty straight up through all that tangle of other branches and both of them looked like they were straight as straight could be.  I grabbed the chain saw and hacked them down.  Only then could you see they weren’t as straight as we had thought.  There is a lot hiding in that bush.

Back at the house we laid them out to see what our prizes were.

We figured we wanted bows that would be around 6 feet long.  Our goals are to end up with bows pulling around 50 pounds once they are finished.  So, step one is done…choosing our stick…what next?  Well, our what next answer is to call Lynn Hayes for advise!  The phone rang and Lynn was happy to hear we had began our adventure.  He came running from his home in Brigham to come and save us.

Lynn and Weasel measured the length of the bows and then marked the center of each.  It will be the center of the bow where the handles will be.

From the center point, Lynn measured 4 inches on each side of the center mark and drew circles completely around each of the limbs.  Then he marked down the center of the full length of the limbs.  Measuring was done using his instincts and I have to say he was pretty much right on line.

Then Lynn used his index and middle finger and said, two finger widths from each end of the handle will be the taper toward the ends of the limbs.  He made a mark and then drew a line about 45 degrees away from the circle he drew around the limb and down toward the end of the limbs on both sides.

When all the reference marks were made, Lynn was funny when he told us “now the real work begins”…we needed hatchets to chop away the wood from the end of the handles down to the tip of the branches, without cutting past the half way mark on either side of center (down the length) and without cutting past the heartwood in the center of the limbs.

Well, neither Weasel nor I owned a hatchet and so we made the quick trip down to Smith and Edwards and picked up two Eastwing hatchets that are extremely sharp.  We started chopping away at the wood beginning at the slanting line and continuing down toward the tip of the branches on either side of the handle marks.  This being very foreign to each of us, we were cautious in our chopping and very critical of the job we were doing.  At one point we stopped and decided we needed Lynn’s advise again.  We jumped in Weasels truck and went to Lynn’s house for that advise.  We thought we had chopped to the heartwood, but Lynn took one look at the job we had done and said we still had 1/2 inch more chopping to get to the heartwood.  Back home we chopped some more…to the point of sore arm muscles and blister on the hands.  But soon we were certain we both had heartwood showing in the centers of our limbs.

It isn’t a clean job, but one that has to be done.

As you can imagine, the wood is very green and springy and will have to dry before we can make our bows.  Whittling down the thickness of the bow limbs is just the beginning of the process.  But our guide told us we needed to clamp our bow staves onto something solid in order for them to dry without twisting.  This is the jig we made up and fastened them to.

It might not look like much to a real bowyer (one who makes bows), but to these two wood hackers it is an adventure worthy of tackling.  Not knowing how long the drying process is going to take from this point forward, we figure with these wood staves being only about 1 to 2 inches thick, it shouldn’t be more than a couple of weeks before  we can undo them from this anti-twist jig and take hold of the next phase of our bow build. I’m including a youtube video on what it is we are trying to do. Maybe it will help you see what we are up to.

Things you might learn from the next few posts on this site:  What is a Bowyer?  What is deflex?  What is reflex? What is firewood?  What is Tillering?   Have you heard the song, “Beer for the Tillerman”?


March 5, 2017, Bears Butt

Written on March 5th, 2017 , Archery stuff | 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.