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

Steve Chin

My AMM Requirements

This is the documentation for the requirements that I have done to advance to a Bossloper member of the AMM. I became a Pilgrim member of the AMM in January of 2010 and advanced to Bossloper in November of 2011. My official AMM number is #2036.

  1. Must have a full set of hand-cut and -sewn clothing and handmade accoutrements. These must be researched for authenticity of the 1800-40 period and be of a type which would have been seen on men in, or moving to, the Rocky Mountains. Rifles, saddles, traps, blankets, and other accoutrements that would normally have required the work of a specialized craftsman need not be handmade, but must be as authentic as can be purchased today.

    My persona is that of a hunter for the American Fur Company in the 1830s.

    Most of my clothing is hand sewn by myself and is made of brain tan of my own making, linen, wool, and cotton using linen thread. I use period patterns or a design of my own.

    My pantaloons are made of brain tan. They are of the narrow fall style and sewn with linen thread. The waistband is backed with canvas to prevent stretch. They have pockets at the side seams. I added a set of braces to assist keeping them in place in my advanced age. I have two shirts, one of red wool and the other of striped linen sewn with linen thread. The buttons are of horn or bone. I made my moccasins in camp and they are of the side seam style made of brain tan and sewn with linen thread. My hat is a wool flat brimmed low crown style of the period. During cold weather I have a wolf ear cap I made from wool blanketing material. I wear a 2 inch wide leather belt with a forged steel buckle. I wear a brain tanned belt bag with fire starting material including a burning lens, flint, steel, and char cloth. I also keep a small pouch of period fishing gear in it. A scalper style knife is fitted in a rawhide sheath I made and is held together with brass tacks. I have a French cut wool capote which I purchased. My shooting bag is made of brain tan with fringe on the bottom; the strap is of a used latigo. My powder horn is of buffalo with a turned peg.

    My primary job being a hunter I carry a flintlock .54 caliber full stock Hawken rifle. I know there were not many of them in the mountains but they were there and were designed for durability.

    My saddle is of the Spanish design with a bare seat, crupper, martingale, and monkey nose tapaderos. I use a wool blanket underneath the saddle to keep my animals from getting sore. This rig will fit either my mule or horse with little adjustment. My pack saddle is of the simple cross buck design using panniers and a top pack when needed.

    My camp consists of a simple tarp with hemp loops for tying it down. I can configure the tarp in several ways depending on the need and it can double as a mantee or top cover when packing horses. My bedroll is either 1 or 2 wool blankets purchased from North West Traders and a ground tarp depending on the weather. Cook ware consists of a set of copper nesting kettles and a small frying pan. A wood bowl, tin cup, and horn spoon answer for my eating utensils. Food is carried in cloth bags or inside the kettles.

    Some of the resources I have relied on:

    • Journal of a Trapper, Osborne Russell
    • Life in the Rocky Mountains, Warren Ferris
    • Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard
    • The Hawken Rifle: It's Place in History, Charles Hanson
    • UMO Cayuse Handbook
    • In the Image of A.J. Miller, Shawn Webster
    • Wah-To-Yah and the Taos Trail, Lewis Garrard
    • Rocky Mountain Life, Rufus Sage
    • Supply and Demand, Oliver McCloskey and Scott "Doc Ivory" Olsen

  2. Must have spent at least two days and one night in a primitive camp during each season of the year.

    Spring: April 30 – May 2, 2010
    Camp was about 40 miles South of Salida and was planned as a turkey hunt. We crossed the Arkansas River in canoes ferrying men and equipment across one at a time. Members present were Tom Karnuta, Bill Gantic, Brad Bailey, Scott Walker, Tom Chalmers and myself. Brad and I started making new moccasins for ourselves, Brad's were pucker toe and mine side seams. No turkey were taken but Bill was able to draw a bead on one. View sketches from this camp.

    Summer: August 27 – 28, 2011
    Brad Bailey called a camp in the Gore Range near Kremling. Present were Brad Bailey, Darko, Cliff Clary, and Bill Armstrong. We decided to set up camp near a large meadow in a stand of lodge pole pines. After a quick scout we discovered there was very little water nearby however there were a couple of seeps we could get by with. We found an abundance of wild strawberries the size of peas which we picked and ate as we walked around. Cliff discovered another berry growing in abundance and found it to be the edible "Grouse Wortleberry". This berry is very small but also very sweet. We spent the afternoon with Brad going over Indian sign language. The next day Brad put on a college on setting different kinds of snares. View sketches from this camp.

    Fall: December 4 – 5, 2010
    Bill Gantic and I made a trip a short way's up Kannah Creek and pitched camp on a level spot above the creek. One horse and one mule were used to carry our gear in and how nice it was to let the beasts carry the burden. A lean-to was built using branches from the cedars in the area and stretching a tarp over the top. The weather was warm however there was snow on the ground which was starting to melt making a muddy mess. We put a tarp on the ground and put some cedar bark on it to sleep on. Buffalo robes on top of the bark and our bed rolls on top of the robes completed our beds. Bill and I went out for a quick hunt finding only tracks but were also able to scout out some new locations for future camps. View sketches from this camp.

    Winter: January 14 – 16, 2011
    Winter camp on the AMM Land near Cactus Park. We had a good turnout for this trip, Bill Gantic, Rick Lesquier, Tom Karnuta, Scott Walker, Nathan Blanchard, Darko, and me. We used horses and mules to pack our gear into camp about 4 miles. Tom taught a college on period shaving and the RMO had a party meeting. I wrote an article for the T&LR on this trip. View sketches from this camp.

  3. Must have spent at least one full week in a primitive encampment in the company of other members at the territorial AMM Rendezvous (Eastern or Western) and/or the National (Rocky Mountain) AMM Rendezvous.

    I attended the 2011 AMM Nationals along Beaver Creek in Utah with fellow RMO members Bill Gantic, Bradley C Bailey, Tom Karnuta, and Nathan Blanchard. 7 days and 6 nights.
    View sketches from this trip.

  4. Must be able to demonstrate ability to track man or animal under natural wilderness conditions.

    During our hunt in September 2009, I shot a black bear. I walked over to where I had shot the bear and could not find any fresh blood. I started tracking the bear down hill for about 1/4 of mile until he crossed the trail. Blood was plentiful but he had traveled a lot further than I thought he should have. I went back to camp and waited for Bill to arrive and relayed my story to him. We had a cup of coffee and then met Dave on the trail and I told him the story. The three of us picked up the trail where I had left it and followed it for another 1/4 mile through some thick and nasty brush where we were on our hands and knees much of the time. The bear finally crossed the creek at the bottom and we realized that he was showing no signs of stopping and gave up the chase.

  5. Must be able to demonstrate the ability to properly pack a horse, canoe (or bullboat), or a man for distance travel under possible adverse conditions.

    I've packed mules and horses for a good part of my adult life. In September 2009, December 2010, and January 2011 I used horses and mules to pack equipment into different camps. During each of these trips I instructed other member on proper saddling, preparing loads for the animals, and top packing using a diamond hitch.

  6. Must be able to properly field dress (clean and skin) a game animal under primitive conditions.

    I owned an outfitting business for 10 years and did this a multitude of time every year. Since joining the AMM I have not harvested a game animal myself but have dressed two deer and one elk for other hunters. I have skinned each animal and prepared the hides for tanning (brain tan). Using only a knife I quarter the animals for packing and load the meat on pack animals for transport. I have butchered deer and elk using only a knife.

  7. Must be able to start a fire in wet, as well as dry, weather using flint and steel or fire drill using tinder and wood found under natural conditions.

    I always start fire using flint and steel, although I have made numerous fires using a burning lens. Whenever I am at a camp I always look for local tinder to use. In my area I have used cedar, sage, cottonwood, aspen, or juniper bark, various dried grasses, and pine needles. I have successfully started fires in wet conditions. During a solo trip in May 2009, it rained all night and everything was soaking wet in the morning but I managed to get a fire going without any trouble. Collecting pitch from pine trees will get a good hot flame. Moki made a suggestion of keeping a full bag of tinder and using it as a pillow thereby always having dry tinder available.

  8. Must be able to show ability to tan or Indian-dress hides.

    Brain tanning is something that I have been doing since 2008. I am self taught, learning only from available books and videos. I've brain tanned 6 deer hides and 1 elk hide so far. I used the hides to make clothing and gear.

  9. Must be able to cook a meal of meat using only the meat, fire, a knife, and materials found in nature.

    I've cooked various types of meat and fish, skewering them on sticks and propping them over the fire. I've also used rocks to cook meat on next to the fire.

  10. Must be able to converse using Plains Indians hand talk. The 200 words on page 64 of Tompkin's book "Indian Sign Language", will be used as a basis for conversation. To complete this requirement, you must demonstrate your ability to read the signs for 50 words, as well as to give the signs for 50 words.

    I've worked on this in several camps as well as with "Teton" Todd Glover at the 2011 AMM Nationals. At the summer camp in August 2011 Brad Bailey did a college on sign language and tested us with a question and answer session using hand talk.