By: Bears Butt

The question of “time” was ask me the other day.  What does “time” mean to a mountain man?

Well, I’m here to tell ya bout time.  Good things always come “in time”.

We was sittin in a likker place in Taos one year when this old boy comes in and yells “It’s ‘time’ boys”!  We  all  gits  up  and  fallers  him  to  the  horses.

On our way to beaver country we was all talkin bout the good “time” we had back in Taos.

After a long spell of not catchin no dad blame beaver and then one happins to git in yer traps most often ya hears the words “bout time” come from the trappers lips.

When ya is late gittin over the pass to yer winter’in spot the boss always says—“Hurry fellers ‘times’ a wastin”.

Over on the Snake River one Spring we was held up by some ornery Blackfoot Injuns I heard the cap’in say—“Shoot em plum boys we ain’t got ‘no time’ to be hear  long”!

Whenever one of the boys’ luck runs out and he heads for the big mountain in the sky, we all figger “his time” ran out.

It’s always a “long time” between rondeevoos but when we gits there it’s “shinin time” and fun will be had by all.

Well, I gotta go, “ran outa time”.  Until “next time” keep the nose on your hat outa the dirt.

Bears Butt

July-Aug 1989

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

Twern’t long back, the Willow Creek Free Trappers (that’s what we call our small band of mountain folk) was huntin small game out in some rollin sage flat land.

There be times when venison and beaver tail eatin gits kinda tiresome.  We done felt obliged to git us some rabbit.

We left the horses outen the way, and spread out.  Each was some two lodge pole lengths apart and we moved real slow.  Lookin under the brush for Mr. Rab.  Recallin back I believe it were Windy what put the first cotton bunnie in the bag.  After that it don’t make much never mind.

Back at the horses we cleaned up the rabs and set to makin some fine vittles.

Many folks don’t know howta cook up some good rabbit, so I’ll be letting ya in on a little how-to.  This here works good on wild game bird and ever day yard bird as well.

A dutch oven with a good fittin lid is best to use, but most any pan or skillet with a lid will do.

Simply brown the cut up parts real good on all sides.  I reckon I use some half inch deep lard or bear grease or whatever kinda frying grease meets yer fancy, fer to fry an brown rab meat.

Next, ya  want  ta  git you a “stand-off” what will fit real nice in the pan.  I heard some Frenchman over on the Seedskadee once refer to a “stand-off” as a “”trivet”.  Whetever you call it, I’ve even used four forks layed cross ways and it worked like a beaver tooth agin a aspen.

Place all the brownt meat pieces on the stand-off and pour in enough water (I prefer beer) to cover the stand-off completely.  Now put the lid on the pan, turn the heat to low and fergit about it fer bout an hour.

Use the time to fry up some fresh spuds and onions, beans, or whatever ya like ta go with yer rab eatin.  We like it just like it come frum the pan with nothing else.  So the hour is used ta do some shootin and bettin at standin still targits.

When the hour has past git yer mouth ready fer some of the tenderest eatin rab ya ever had. MMMMMMM-it makes me hanker ta do it agin real soon.

Bears Butt

Nov-Dec 1990

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

When dreams become reality it makes a guy just a triffle humble.

It were back in bout ’87, on a meat hunt up over Monte Cristo, when I had a very real dream.

The snows was real heavy in the high country and most all the big game animals was mak’en their way to more pleasant surround’ins.

My dream showed me sittin high on a vantige point glass’n the area—here they was com’en—nose to tail, nose to tail fer as you could see.  Long strings of em, ever other one had horn.

When I awoke frum such a perty dream I told the boys about it.  You’da thought I’d dreamed the wildest tale of em all.  Them boys laughed and joked till they was near roll’en on the ground.

Later that day we was tak’en a lunch break when I spotted part of my dream com’en cross a expanse of open ground.  There they is!!  Nose ta tail boys, lookee!!

Sure nuff—bout a hunert head—antelope they was—nose to tail and a com’en up the trail.

That shut the boys up fer the rest of that hunt.  But  they  amembered  my  dream  fer  harass’en  later.  And jived me ever chance they could.

Now, ever  thang  in perspective—it were ’89 and we was huntin Mulies up in the same place as I had my dream.  Most of the boys had been there fer 3 or 4 days and they was bummed out.  Aint seed a mulie with horn.  Hardly see any track.

“Help me set up my lodge ‘an I’ll show you where they is.  Member my dream?  Well boy howdy, me and the second biggest buck in these parts have a date.  Let’s get mov’en”!

So they helped me set up and off we goes.

Twernt long we was all in place fer a good hunt.  Some of the boys weren’t quite ready, so I’m just wait’en fer the signal to start.

Sudnly  ahind me and up on the crest I heard a sound.  Spinnin round here they come—nose to tail over the top.  It weren’t quite like my dream, cause my dream showed ever other one with horn.  This was real and nose ta tail fer as far as you could or wanted ta see, they was a com’in, and ever one had horn!

Well be’in the sport’in blood I picked the second biggest one out of the group and let fly my trusty 54!  Them boys still aint beliv’in my dream, but I got them horn hang’in as reminder.

Kant say as it gets any better!

Bears Butt

Mar-Apr 1990

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

Names is portent stuff in the mountains.  If ya aint got a name then nobody knows who you is.  We get a Christin name when we is borned down in the flat lands.  That helps ya get introduced in the mountains, but if ya stik around up in the hills you is gonna need a real mountain name.

Names come from most any source.  Some folks want real bad to have a certin name, so theys names themselves that.  Others start gittin called something right off the bat and that stiks with em.  Extra ordinare doins can and have been the best naming sources.

Wy listen to this:

We wuz up at rondeevoo back in ’90 doin normal stuff what all rondeevoo folks wuz doin.  All the little mountain people wuz up on a hill playin and us growedups wuz jawin and cleanin guns.

Suddenly we hears one of the little ones a whailin away.  Callin out for help, he was a hurtin.  I recollect it sounded sumpin like—“Hey Ho in camp—Cut a Ho—Cut a Hey”!  Which is universal mountain lingo for “Help me Bad”!

We alls jumped and saved him from dire disaster.  As we wuz carry’in him offen the mountain I called out –“Bones, git some ice in a wet cloth, this boy needs some fixin and he is too young to drink whiskey”!

Most ever one heared my call and others, besides Bones ran for wet cloth, ice and whiskey.

One such mountain folk, has a skunk proof entry to theys lodge.  It sits sorta high up, so ya need some logs or rocks or sumpin ta help get ya high nuff to get in.

They got in, grabbed some whiskey and started out.  Musta fergot about the first step cuz that wuz missed.  Musta fergot about the second step cuz that wuz missed and whenit wuz all said and done and the dust settled there they lay with a broke leg.

Now we got two a hurtin!

There wuz lots of help come runn’in from all the camps and down the mountain the two of em goes in a big wagon.

We talked some that night about what happened and there is go’in ta be a naming come next Willow Creek Council fire.  We had lots of names ta pick frum like “Rock Face”, and “Dusty Bottom”, but there aint no escaping names like “Tumbles” and “ 2 Breaks”!

Bears Butt

July-Aug 1990

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

It were back at rondeevoo of ’87.  The spirits were high as usual.  People dancing an singin and the reglar carryin on.

There was some last minute work havin to be done back at my lodge in Willow Creek, so my squaw stayed back.

Me and the boys rode on ahead knowin she’d ketch up next day.

Round camp that night folks got askin where the little woman was and I told em.  Come as sort of a surprise when one-umungus spoke up and saz “What is yer squaws name anywho”?  “Hot damn and boy howdy, I ain’t sure.  We been callen her all sorts of names for years.  Reckon a namin is in order”!

As the thinkers began to chunk out names, we all knowed this one had to be good in order to stick.

From the darkness and into the fires light came a face none had seed for bout a year.

It were “Magpie”, happy as a lark he was.  It was back slappin and grinny face good times.

After a bit he asked where my woman was and I tole him.

“Well by gooly dang—break out some ‘o her good wine and let’s toast to her health” he said.

Magpie had hit on sumpin.

Next day on the firen line we run into “Just George”, and after all the nitial  greetins, we aksed if he’d do a naming.  He were mor’en happy.

That night at council fire with all the ara of a good time everwhars “Just George” stood up and calls out for my woman.  She goes down to the fire cautious like.

With the talking stick and all the powers of the mountain “Just George” christened her and from that day forward wherever mountain folks shall meet “Wine Maker” she’ll be called.

Bears Butt

Nov-Dec 1989

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

Rondeevoo time is special time fer mountain folk.  It’s like one big party with everone doin stuff ta make it happen.  One real special rondeevoo happened in the Fall of ‘89

We wuz ta meet up on the banks of the Curtis Crick bout the time the leaves was turn’in.

As “Many Steps”, “Windy” and me was pullin in, “Wapiti Dung”, “Rut Runner”, “Tracker”, “Bones”, “Little Fawn”, “Cherry” and many more were already camped and havn fun.

It looked to be some real shin’in times.

Twernt long afor everone of the Willow Creekers was there and the fire started with one of last years char sticks.

The booshway “Tracker’ spoke of past days and we all did some yarn tellin.

Now to be the booshway a guy has to out shoot all the shooters at the rondeevoo.  That’s what old “Tracker” had done back in’88.  So to get things roll’in he calls out for the shoot’in ta start.

Fer the next two days we poured powder and rammed ball.  Shoot’in  plumb sometimes and hav’in flighers the next.

Everone had excuses sept’in one and all he did was harangue us older folk.

Now “Many Steps”, he be but a sliver off a beaver sharn and has only been out where we could see him fer 12 year, but that old boy could plumb ‘em ever time.

Shook “Muskrat”, “Cherry” and “Dry Dog” up so much they all three took their patch knives ta lunch.  Somewheres out ahind the firen line there be three pieces of mighty fine “Green River” stainless.

Well it ended with the last shoot fer another year and after all the shoot’in scores was added up the results had “Many Steps” out shin’in all us.

So in traditional mountain fashion “Tracker” handed over the talkin stick and the “silver Slug” to “Many Steps”–            BOOSHWAY FOR ’90!

Bears Butt

Sep-Oct 1989

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

Old Tracker now, he’s been around some.  Traveled the old Stinky up in Alaska country, even the Yukon, but aint had no trip like the one down the Big Bend of the Bear.

Tracker says the Bear River is the only river in these here U.S. where its beginin and end is so near it makes her sumpin special.  Guess we’ll read about it some day.

Anyhow, we was up near the Big Bend country one summer.  A place where there is sodie water comin right out ‘o the ground.  Dangedest thing you ever seed.  We decided to go float down the Big Bend of the Bear to see what was down it.

Now Mountain Men aint got no money, but what we got is mostly good.  So we conjured us up a free boat.  Kind of flat agin the water, and wide across from front ta back.  Anyhow, we find ourselves floatin down the river singin , “Al a wet a!  Shonta al a wet a”!

We was havin fun.  Us and that ol river.  Sundenly we heard the sound of a water fall or sompin.  We scrambled fer sticks to get to shore, but it were too late, we was caught in the swift current.  Bein as brave as we could we steered her into mid stream and down we went.  Through the suck we went and out the other side, white water for yards beyond.  Ya, we got wet some, but we made it.

After that twernt much river citment, but we sure did see lots of game.  We’d of taken some bulls had we seed’em but all we saw was cows and lots of ‘em.  I suspect the bulls was back in the shade someplace.

One thing certain, as we come silent down the current and rounded a bend we seed the dangest thing ever.  River Geese!  They came off the shore with only they’s bodies, got inta the river and swam with us.  Their heads was three feet infornta theys bodies, but they had NO NECKS!!!  I aint never and probably won’t agin see such a sight.

We beached the fee boat a couple times that day to relieve ourselves, and is sure came as a surprise when we found ourselves sufferin from “Big Boatknees”, sometimes called “Sneesles”.  It’s an ailin that causes the legs to go ta sleep from the knees to the toas and causes ya ta stumble and fall a lot when ya git outa a free boat.

Al a wet a!  Shonta al a wet a!

We was havin a real good time checkin things out, when off the bank come a bunch of Americans to help us, guess they didn’t like our singin.  Grabbed our raft in the swift current which caused it to flip and into the deep river we went.  All our possible was drownin and up we come under the boat.  Course them Americans thought we was drownin.  Kept  grabbin  at  us  as  we drifted until we nearly did drown.

Well, we made her, and won’t never fergit the trip down the Big Bend of the Bear!

Bears Butt

May-Jun 1990

Written on May 23rd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

Be careful when you wake those leathers.

We all have our favorite clothes, a special gift shirt, a perfect fitting nice feeling pair of pants.  Us mountain folks have the same kind of deal with our skin clothes.  The difference lyes in how we treat ‘em.

Leathers, as they are called, are genrilly made of deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep, or goat (if we can get ‘em).  The hides are tanned up, chewed mighty soft by the little woman and form fitted with many try ‘em  ons and tak ‘em  offs.

From  the  first  day  them  leathers  start  tak’en on a special personality.  After wear’en  ‘em for a year or so twinx  rondevouz, they become attached and even have an air bout them.

Back in ’87, I recall Wapiti Dung say’en he was caught up on the Salt River trappin by his self and even carried on all night talkin with his leathers.

Well there does come a time them leathers got to come off.  I was up by the Portnuf and came by some warm water springs.  It was perfect temperature fer a bath.  So I took off my leathers and jumped in.  Boy it was nice to relax in that there water.

After haven cared fer myself I thought I’d rub my leathers down with some special lye soap and soke ‘em in that same water.

Now I’d only been wear’en them fer nine months or so and when I reached fer ‘em the blame things move out!  Each time I stretched they’d move further till I was clear out of the water, buck naked!

I did finally get hold of some arm fringe and got ‘em washed.  It was a battle to the end, but we been good friends ever since.  Theres’ even  been times of late, them leathers told me of approach’en riders at my backside.  Sort of like a  extree  pair of eyes.

The only problem I got with them leathers is wak’en them in the morning.  They is so dad blame ornery.  Won’t even move afore the smell of coffee is in the air.

Bears Butt

Mar-Apr 1989

Written on May 22nd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

As the New Year begins and we look forward to more of the same, keep in mind the fact that mountain men never lie.

Halfway up a very high ridge, cold-swept with winter’s fury, I sat with “No Grimace”, both of us looking fer meat.  I offered him a choice of pemmican or plain jerky and he chose jerky.  Said sumpin bout pemmican bein too sweet.  As he chewed he asked where I got such good jerk.  Beins I’m proud of an old-time way of makin it, I was glad he asked.

Started way back in bout ’77 when I was out goofin in the back country.  Not doin anything in perticlar, I found an old waybill sign carved in a billion year-old cedar tree.  It was sort of an odd squiggle, a animal of some sort and an arrow pointing to my right.  So I goes to my right and sure nuff I find a large area where meat was sun dried at least a billion year afore.

Carved on the rock cliff near by and starting quite high were all kinds of wiggly lookin lines, arrows, animals, vessels like pots, people gatherin stuff, fire and smoke and other scratchins.

Since the day was early, I found a nice sittin spot not far from all this scribblin and started to study it.  Twernt too long I had the thing decoded.  Here is what it said:

“Wondering what to do with all that meat now that you have it?  Let’s make jerky!  Start by cutting all the meat into strips, the longer the better.  But don’t toss the little pieces to the dogs as they are great while watching T.V.

Put all the strip meat in a large container.  In a separate bowl combine soy sauce, (12 oz. for 10-15 lbs. meat), Worcestershire sauce (15 oz. for 10-15 lbs meat), ¼ cup salt and tobacco sauce (if you like it), do that at your disgression.  Mix it up so the salt is dissolved and pour it over the meat.  Add enough water to cover the meat and then mix the meat and fluid all up like a tossed salad.

Let it sit for 24 hours, then dry it slowly either in the sun, a dehydrator or your cabin oven.  Turn it once during the drying process.  When it looks done it probably is, so go ahead and eat”!

It was pert near dark by the time I got all that figured out, so I scuffled back to my cabin to try out the recipe.  Ya know, I ain’t  never been able to find that rock cliff since then neither.

Bears Butt

Jan-Feb 1989

Written on May 22nd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt
By: Bears Butt

We Willow Creek boys don’t mean no disrespect when we give a name to a new comer.  Even old timers can’t escape.

We have one boy who’s been burn’in powder and ram’in ball and he is still generic.  Don’t got no name yet.  Maybe come  rondeevoo.

Be’in modern times and all, most of us have families, nice warm lodges, many horse wagons and pets.

It was at a rondeevoo back in ’88 when she showed up.  If my recollecter is right, it was number two for her.  She really filled a dark hole around the council fire, right brightnin.  Only problem we had was mak’in her acquainted to the mountain folk we’d gott’in to know.

Seems in years gone by when ever anyone went off for a rondeevoo they’d drop off their pet for her to watch while they was away.  She’d take the pet in and baby the thing till the return of the owners.

Now pets aint no dumbies, they know where their stick floats and where their bread is buttered.  She babied them pets so much that if we could’nt find ours we’d go to her lodge and there the little critter would be.  Fact is,  rondeevoo or not, you can go to her lodge most anytime and find her own pooch and no less than two ad sometimes three others, plus a cat or two.

Be’ins how she now takes in these here rondeevoos, we figured she needed a name.  We was sitt’in there, about half the gang, call’in out names when “Bones” hit on the the good one.  Yes siree, even Mom couldn’t escape the talk’in stick come council fire that night.  The tribe and guests were quiet as the fire offered its glowing tribute.  The nam’in went on and from now on where ever mountain men shall meet, Mom shall be known as “Many Dogs”.

Bears Butt

May-June 1989

Written on May 22nd, 2011 , APFO Aerial Observer, From The Bears Butt | 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.