Adventures of our Forefathers

Bill began his writing career by penning articles and stories for various magazines and interests, but eventually devoted his efforts exclusively to buckskinning and muzzle loading. He spent nine years as the managing editor of the American Mountain Men’s magazine, The Tomahawk and Long Rifle. His three Rocky Mountain novels about the adventures of modern - day mountain men, based loosely on actual events, have met with acclaim as have his how-to book, Lighting Grandma’s Fire, and the very successful Rendezvous - Back to a Simpler Time, a text and photo work about modern rendezvous. Bill is currently working on a new novel extending the adventures of his well-established characters in the Rocky Mountain series.



By: Bill Cunningham 

In the past I have belonged to organizations that have had no true sense of history, even that of their own group. I’ve witnessed events I wished I hadn’t—such as the disregard of a special occasion for one of their members (especially those members of long standing and unusual significance). Usually, the lack of historical (or social )skills would manifest itself by the lack of consideration for birthdays, weddings, or deaths. No attendance, no cards, no flowers, no anything. Sometimes I saw a nearly total disregard for those who, because of advancing years, could no longer do the things they did in their youth. The offices of leadership had been passed by the stars of the fledgling years to a younger generation. The new office holders often passed rules and requirements changing what the original intent for the club had been and that appeared designed to force the old hands out. Requirements the old guard can not accomplish due to the indignities of their advancing years. No special considerations were provided to them. Nor honor. I have abhorred those groups because of their individual narcissism and resultant ugliness. I either left them or dropped out to the point of invisibility. In all fairness, it may be a generational thing—but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, defend it, or put up with it. 

In the world of buckskinning there are many who contributed mightily to the overall advancement of the lifestyle. Most have been forgotten or ignored. I recommend to everyone interested the past, at-the-time-important, publications printed and now forgotten, the American Rendezvous magazine, John Baird’s Buckskin Report, the early MuzzleBlast magazine of the once vibrant NMLRA, other little rags such as a neat pamphlet put out by someone with the nom de plume of Phydeau. I’m sure you can think of others. 


Names that most of us, most now with white or graying hair, venerated, and faces that even today we’d recognize in a crowd, are forgotten by the new, self important, crop. Names like Spyglass, Doc Grandee, Mountain Lamb, the original Griz, Toker Timothy, Morning Dove, Weird Harold, and ‘Hawk. 

These and others like them led the way and they had fun doing it. Not for them the confrontational, ugly and unilateral my way or the highway, approach. It was an honor to have one of those men put his arm around your shoulders and lead you gently away from others and suggest that perhaps next time you should study a certain journal or diary or secondary source to identify for sure the authenticity of a piece of your equipment. They’d then compliment you on the stuff you had that was right. They might even suggest that if you found something that proved the item in question was correct that you call them and let them know so they could update their own knowledge. Then you’d be invited into their lodge for supper and fun. 

A lot of the history of the buckskin movement can be found in the memories of the gray-hairs and in those old publications I mentioned, and the printed words contain not a jot of reproval or know-it-allness. I used to find many of the publications for sale at the Log Cabin shop in Lodi, Ohio. Dixie Gunworks had quite a few also. I think I will contact them and see if they still do. To me it is a much better bang for my buck than what is printed today except for the Smoke Signals and Muzzle Loader magazines.


Until the next time, we'll see you on the trail or at the next camp.

stories & adventures pertaining to those than went before us.

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