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

By: Bears Butt


Today, April 8, 2014, we celebrated Reed McBride’s final day on earth.  The ceremony took place in Malad, Idaho and in Hyrum, Utah and what a beautiful day it was…warm, very Spring like and everyone in attendance were sad, but still as cheery as could be under the circumstances.  Reed touched so many of us in so very many ways, I can not tell you all of them.  His wife, Shirley, was surrounded by their family and it was a very nice sight to see.

I was very pleased with the services at the Malad LDS church house.  The speakers were excellent and painted such a wonderful tribute to Reed’s life.  A life that I knew was going on, but had never imagined how others were perceiving it.  I knew Reed as, first off, Shirley’s husband, and secondly as Pale Rider, in our mountain man circle.  Reed was a wonderful man, always caring, always giving, always there whenever the need was there.  A nicer man could not be found.  Actually, I have to back up a little on that statement.  He was equal to a lot of nice people I have known in my life who have passed on and in my mind, he has rejoined those other “a nicer person could not be found” who have been a friend or family member of mine and fell into that category.

Reed loved life and he lived it to the fullest.  In his work, in his play!  When you find an honest man like him with the sense of humor he had, you just can’t help but like him.  I can’t say as I EVER saw him with a frown on his face.  He might have had a “serious” face a time or two, but never a frown….more often than not a BIG OLD SMILE!  He must have slept with a smile on his face…and who wouldn’t sleeping next to a bride like Shirley….Just sayin!


Yes it was a top of the line service for a top of the line guy.  The speakers were wonderful, the songs very fitting and in the final minutes of the tribute, he was carried to the cemetery in an old fashioned two horse Hearst, followed by his Good Friend Blair Higley, leading his riderless horse to the grave side services.  Reed was one of the last of the real Western Cowboys.  He will be missed.  I’m very glad I was blessed to be a small part of his life.  I was happy to see some of the folks who I met at rendezvous over the years because of Reed and Shirley, what’s not to love about all of them?  Nothing.

I’m pleased to know that Reed didn’t have to endure a long struggle with an ugly illness and that he went as quickly as he did.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair to lose someone so close and so young, but in this temporal life of ours, he is back home and we will someday be reunited with him and the other “a nicer person could not be found”‘s that enter into our lives and then are taken away before we are.

I love you Shirley!  I love you all.

Bears Butt

April 8, 2014

By: Bears Butt


Our very good friend and Mountain Man, Reed “Pale Rider” McBride passed away suddenly on April 3rd, 2014.

Whenever I think of him, I think of him teaching me how to cook trout over an open fire, using forked green willow branches as my “pan”.  I’ll never forget you Reed.  Always there to help anyway he could.  Never a rendezvous went by without his smiling face present.

Bears Butt

April 3, 2014

By: Bears Butt

Black Arrow’s wife Karen “Shy Mouse” was just here at my house visiting and asked that I post up a letter of Thanks that she wrote.  She did not know who donated, nor how much was donated, but she was taken back by all of the generosity that was poured out in Jim’s honor.  Even if you could not afford to give during this un-timely death deep down inside she knows everyone of you are her friends and she knows as well that Jim is watching over every one of his friends.


Bears Butt

December 9, 2013

Written on December 9th, 2013 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD
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
By: Bears Butt


Jim “Black Arrow” Gill
Sept. 14, 2013

Written on September 14th, 2013 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD
By: Bears Butt

In memory of the following two members of the Willow Creek Free Trappers:

Hayden Dean Gerhardt (June 6, 2013)

Fay Marie Eames (July 6, 2013)

God Bless you both!

Written on September 4th, 2013 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD
By: Bears Butt

Robert “Robbie” Anthony Thompson drowned in the Yellowstone River in Montana on June 24, 2012.  Only 15 at the time.

By: Bears Butt

It grieves me deeply to announce the passing of Cindy Celeya “Barefoot” , the wife of Chris “Dancing Ramrod”.  Her memory will live on forever.

Viewing scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 5, and funeral Feb. 6.  That is all I know at this time.

Bears Butt

Feb. 2, 2012

No Grimace went right out, and with her in mind, he carved her a special bear and tomahawk.  She loved throwing the hawk at the rendezvous and usually won the womens event.

She will be greatly missed at the rendezvous.

Winemaker had Joyce Pritchard, a local florist put a special planter together for the family using No Grimace’s Bear and Tomahawk.  Here are a couple pictures of it.


We will make sure it gets to the family at the viewing.

Written on February 2nd, 2012 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD
By: Bears Butt

Jake “Metal Beaver” Westley

Written on October 24th, 2011 , WILLOW CREEK FREE TRAPPERS GONE ON AHEAD | 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.