Rocky Mountain Outfit — American Mountain Men (AMM) party of Colorado

Bill Gantic

My AMM Requirements

  1. Clothing & Accoutrements:

    My persona is that of an American trapper of the 1830's rocky mountain fur trade. I have spent several years in researching using the works of Alfred J. Miller, journals, fur company's inventory lists, as well as visits to many museums as a guide in which to base my equipment on. My equipment shows hard use from time spent in the field. This helps me understand what works and what I need to change or what I can do without.

    The following is a description of my outfit. On my head I wear a low crown felt hat of light gray color with a narrow harness leather band. For colder weather I also wear a wolf eared cap made of old blanket scrap of dark gray color. Both hats are dressed with feathers of wild birds. A bright blue silk scarf is worn around my neck & one of red-checkered cotton is always in my possibles if needed. Both serve many uses. My shirts, I have one red flannel, one of green linen, one light red cotton calico, one of wool blanket material, and one of heavy cotton with large red checkers. My frock coat is of my own brain tan deer hides. It is cut of a crude pattern, not tailored. It is mid thigh in length and overlaps around the front with buckskin ties. At the shoulders are long fringes. For pants I wear heavy cotton knee breeches with a French fly, held up with leather braces. A narrow harness leather beltis used to hold up braintan deer thigh high leggins with fringes down the seam. For trapping or cold weather gray blanket leggins are used in combination or without the braintan leggings. I have three pairs of moccasins, one pair of braintan elk pucker toes with red trade cloth vamp, one pair of buffalo side seams, & one pair of elk side seam winter moc's, which I use either hair in buffalo or blanket bootie inserts. Warm, dry feet are very important. All pairs have 4" high wrap around flaps to help keep out debris. Around my waist is a 2" wide harness leather belt with a square brass buckle. On the front hangs a chokechery beaver medicine bottle. In the back is a knife sheath of harness leather held on by rawhide in the fashion seen in A.J. Millers works. The knife is of a scalper pattern I forged out of an old file.

    I have two firearms, a full stock Lancaster pattern trade rifle in .54 cal. & a 30" smoothbore trade gun 20 gauge, which I built myself. Both are flintlocks and have taken a variety of game, from buffalo to birds. The shooting bag used for the rifle is of oil tan with a cown horn attached to the strap. A powder measure made from the tip of a cow horn hangs on a whang from the strap to the inside of the bag. Inside is just the basic items, bullet bag, flint bag, a forged screwdriver, a small pouch with patern material, & gun worm. Along with a whetstone, brass compass, and my flint & steel, which is in a tobacco tin with a burning glass in the lid. I am making a bag at this time just for the trade gun.

    My camp equipment consists of a buffalo robe, wool point blanket & an oilcloth for a bedroll. Another smaller blanket that can be added if needed or used as a poncho. A hand axe. A gourd canteen lined with beeswax, of my own make. Two original beaver traps, more on the way. A buffalo rib bone quirt and a pair of spurs. A small copper HBC kettle, a small tin cup which fits inside. A larger size sheet tin kettle, a buffalo horn spoon & a tin pan, which I use as a frying pan. Many cotton & linen bags for coffee beans, flour, jerked meat & other dry goods. A lead ladle, lead bars, bullet mould, two files, and a butcher knife in a canvas sack. A cake of soap, straight razor, mirror, a bone and boar hair toothbrush, a tin of buffalo fat and beeswax mix for moccasin grease & a deck of playing cards. A canvas tarp to use as a packsaddle cover or shelter & a large canvas bag, which all of my possibles go into. Rope.

  2. Camps in each season of the year:

    I would like to start off by mentioning my first invitation AMM camp with the Jim Baker Party because that was a very special time for me, one I shall never forget.

    • Feb. 22, 23, 24 2002: Wallace, KS. Buffalo hunt camp. I was asked if I wanted to go in on a young bull, yes. On the morning of the 23rd the party asked if I would like to do the shooting, how could I say no? I put him down with one clean shot from my rifle. My first buffalo, my first time on the ground with these men. Members present, Mike Moore, Ken Smith, Mark Loader, Jim Sebastian, Ken Zurawski, and Jerry Lavelle.
    • Feb. 1, 2: Deadmans Pass, CO. My solo camp. Very warm for this time of the year, 60. Plenty of snow in this area, some southern slopes clear. Made a small travois of dead lodge pole pine found on the spot. Wrapped gear and bedroll in my tarp and strapped it to the travois. Went in about 3/4 of a mile to a large open area. In the timber are many large boulders. Looked to make a shelter among them, found remains of an old such shelter. Added new pine boughs to it and moved in. Melted snow for tea and boiled some buffalo. Temperature dropped very windy and it snowed. On a scout for rabbits, for more of these wickiups among the boulders. No rabbits showed themselves.
    • Feb. 14, 15, 16: Kiowa, CO. Winter party camp on the plains. Area has a number of pines and a great view of Pikes Peak off to the west. Cold with some light snow showers. Stalked up on a herd of antelope. Talked much about making our camps more like true trapper parties would have set up and worked as one, each having duties and all cooking done as a mess. Mark and I put our tarps together to conserve heat. Completed my blanket liners, came in quite handy. Roasted hump ribs. Members present: Mark Loader, Ken Smith, Jim Linn, Barry Hardin, and Gary Pfeifer.
    • June 20, 21, 22: North Park, CO. Spring scout for beaver and future party camps. Found a spot to throw bedrolls just around dark. Things were very wet for we had justhad a heavy down pour. Creek running too high to cross in the dark. Next day found a place to cross. Scouted a large willow valley. Found a new campsite with a moose. Packed gear to new site. The mosquitos were troublesome at times. Beaver sign plenty. Member present: Mark Loader.
    • July 11, 12, 13, 14, 15: RMNR, Henry's Fork, WY. Packed in and out gear to a site on the bank of the Henrys Fork of the Green river. The camp was set away from the main body in some large willows, sagebrush and grass. Camp was help to AMM rules. Oilcloth hung for extra shade with bedrolls under it. Shared many a good times and hailstorms with the likes of many AMM brothers from around the country. Gave a helping hand and impromptu colleges to pilgrims in need such as with fire starting. Member present: Mark Loader. Some other members who visited our camp Wes Housler, Gabe, Hans, Lance Grabowski, Jeff Hengesbaugh to name a few.
    • Sept. 26, 27, 28: Morrison CO. The Fort Doins. An invitational public demonstration on mountain men of early CO. Helped in building a half dome shelter of willows and hides. WIth Mark and Ken was used as our shelter for the weekend. Displayed typical camp items, demonstrated fire starting, beaver trapping, shooting and many tales of the mountaineers that helped shape the west. Members present: Lance Grabowski, Buck Conner, Mike Moore, Mark Loader, Ken Smith, Jerry Lavelle, Jim Linn.
    • Oct. 25, 26 2003: North Park, CO. Michigan Creek. Jump shot a nice duck for supper with my trade gun. I showed how to find beaver sign, what types of sign means and where to make sets. No traps were set do to CO. laws. Cold, creeks were icing up and a ligh snow. Members present: Ken Smith and Mark Loader.

  3. Demonstrate Trapping:

    June 2003 camp, Mark Loader had some new beaver traps they needed to be tuned up. Did some file work on the dogs to pan fit and on the jaws where the springs slide. Had a full set of traps which was set and tripped many times to test them for smooth operation. Carried the traps on a beaver scouting trips and did false sets, due to the time of year and CO. laws. I made my own batch of beaver medicine from a set of castor glands given to me by Mark Loader. My recipe is part from the Lewis & Clark and part my own from years of experience of beaver trapping. Some of this batch was given to Mark & Ken. Then again on the October 2003 camp, showed ken Smith the different types of beaver sign and what they meant. Such as food storage, slides and droppings. Put some medicine out, no sets were made due to CO. laws. Creeks were icing up so not much beaver activity.

  4. Demonstrate Tracking:

    Being an experienced hunter and outdoorsman this skill is always being used by me. I can identify just about any type of animal track and their scat. Most cases man is much easier to track for they tend to be sloppy and leave behind many signs. I have shown these skills on just about all of our camps I have been on with the party. Mark Loader, Ken Smith, Mike Moore, and Jerry Lavelle have seen these abilities.

  5. Demonstrate Packing:

    On my solo camp, Feb. 2003, I had built a small travois and wrapped my gear in a canvas tarp. This I then strapped onto the frame using some braintan strips. This worked out well to transport my gear. At the Kiowa camp also in Feb. 2003, I showed this method to Mark Loader. He used this same way to pack in his gear to the AMM nationals in MT. Each camp my gear has been packed on myself as well.

  6. Field Dress Game:

    During the Oct. 25, 26 2003 camp I dressed out the duck I had shot. Also showed these skills on our buffalo hunts.

  7. Fire Starting:

    On each camp I have been on with the Baker Party, I have made one or more of the fires using my kit. This kit is made up of a steel & flint, charred bits of my old shirts or wood, grass and barks I always collect while in the field. The camp of June 20, 2003, was wet and dark when I started to make a fire. It had rained very hard for some time before we made camp. Made two attemps and was down to the last of my char. Found some pitch pine in my nest, we were soon in the glow of warmth. The July 2003 camp I showed the use of sagebrush bark as excellent nest material. During the Sept. 2003 camp I demonstrated many times fire starting using a burning glass and the lock off my gun.

  8. Demonstrating Tanning Hides:

    My frock coat is made of my own deer hides. During many of our camps I was able to demonstrate my ability to tan hides. I have shown this to both my sponsors. We have compared methods with one another as well. I have an elk hide fleshed out and ready to tan at this time.

  9. Cook a Meal:

    On the Feb 14th, June 20th, and July camps cooked in true mountaineer fashion the choicest of meat prime fat cow hump rubs. Also other cuts all on a stick or just thrown into the coals. The Oct. camp enjoyed a fine tender duck. All meals shared with all the brothers in camp.

  10. Hunted and Made Meat:

    I guess the only one that can go on the record would be the mallard duck taken on the Oct 25, 26 2003 camp. Was taken with my 20 guage trade gun on the wing. It was then taken back to camp for a fine addition to our meal. I used the feathers to dress up both my blanket camp and felt hat. Off the record I have also taken 2 fat buffalo in 2 clean shots with the Baker Party on the separate occaisons. I have used the meat, fat, horns, and robes of these.