I’d like to say I had no expectations about the annual rendezvous the NAF scheduled to be held with the Anasazi Free Traders, but I’d be telling a lie, or, as one of the country’s leaders said not too long ago, "I
mis-remembered." Let me explain:
Years ago I attended a national rendezvous held on the Kolob Peninsula in southern Utah. It was booshwayed by Joe and Vikki Wilde and it proved to be a fantastic event that I enjoyed so much that I never forgot it. I have since encountered one or the other of them from time to time and have always come away impressed with their enthusiasm. So. . . when I began casting about for what to do and where to do it for our annual rendezvous I thought of them. Somehow or other I stumbled across their site on the net, saw that they were having a rendezvous, and called. Vikki invited us to attend and was very pleasant—even offering us our own site. I might add that the Anasazi FT has their own 120 acre site in Stone Canyon well outside St. George, Utah. Some time later I verified that we would show up and again was welcomed and given lots of information about what to expect, such as weather conditions, camping sites, activities, and amenities. Well, that was nice but not the half of it.
Along with FoxPaw from Florida, I showed up a few days early and wandered about the site, nearly totally lost. The site is up the mountain bench high enough to be cool in the evenings and nicely warm in the daytime. It is located in spectacular scenery and totally private. There were signs posted, and obvious camping spots, but as to where the NAF was to locate I was clueless, Eventually I wandered up through what was marked as Trader’s Row and just off that a bit stood a large, well pitched tipi. Its owner was a large black dog who welcomed us and introduced us to her owner, a red-bearded, buckskin clad, Confederate flag flying gent with the name of General Lee. A gracious host he obtained help for us and we were given some choices as to where we’d prefer to camp—ending up with a spot that had room for the entire NAF to pitch their tents—and it proved to be right in the middle of camp. More importantly, it was just a couple hundred feet from where for $5.00 you could get a breakfast of eggs, meat, potatoes, and unlimited pancakes and coffee. What a deal! Not only that, but more or less permanent hooters were conveniently located throughout camp.
We pitched the lodge and left to socialize in St. George for a couple days and when we returned, Howdy was there with his camp all set up. Not long after, first Bob Loyd from down in Arizona, then Ferrell and Jason from the SLC area rolled in and then Randy from Vernal and his buddy pitched their camp over through the trees a way. By Thursday lots of people were rolling in. Trader’s row was lined with tents that had more than the made in India tourist stuff I’ve come to expect over the past ten or so years—and many of the trader’s were folks I’d known for a long time, some of them friends from the AMM.
At any rate, after we’d spent a couple of convivial evenings around the campfires (our own and those of others—this was a warm, friendly camp where there were no strangers) the rendezvous was beginning to get underway. The NAF went exploring around the events—what’s that they call it at the Olympics? Venues! Yes.
The man who set up and ran the archery range proved to be a bowyer and archer of note. Al is moderately tall, by turns garrulous or taciturn. A fine fellow, his campfire always has a pot of coffee going and his apple pie is excellent. The archery course he’d laid out was all 3D and a real surprise. None of the targets was particularly far from the shooter but that doesn’t mean they weren’t challenging. For instance, at one there was a stump and you had to stand on it on one foot while the other waved around in the air, and you had to shoot a turkey that lurked behind a screening of brush. At another, you had to stand on a log and face north while you shot an antelope located south, or behind you. It, too, had a nice screening of tree limbs. And those were two of the easiest shots. It should be mentioned that each target was
makeable, you just had to figure out how to do it. The competition was as fierce as it was fun.
There was a tomahawk target that was mounted on a sort of Ferris wheel that turned. A real twist that one. Knife targets were likewise a treat. The rifle range is a monster—every target makeable but requiring thought. And if the target doesn’t ping, pang, or ring; you missed! It is not a ho-hum paper puncher. The fry pan throw was also of a slightly different cast. And there were categories in each competition—including for kids.
The public was allowed in during the day and although I had my reservations about that it proved a successful thing. Those "civilians" attended classes and seminars put on by the rendezvous (including a couple by Howdy Davis) and spent plenty of money on trader’s row. And nary a row did any of them raise.
I have never been to a rendezvous that had as many prizes, and good ones at that. There were prizes for each competition event and for every class and age category. The winners were happy and I did not see one disgruntled person who did not win. What a treat! The club also had a couple raffles. Generally I am leery of raffles but the tickets were about a buck each and the things being raffled off were well worth having—and a couple of our NAF members won some of them. Speaking of value, I have to tell you about the blacksmith. I am partial to small, two fingered flint strikers. I have a couple friends in New Zealand that I wanted to get something for. Bob Loyd had given us all some handsome flint, the likes of which I had not seen since I’d obtained some from Denmark. I had two of the small fire strikers made and they are beautiful. I have to tell you I was quite taken aback at the price though. Five dollars ($5.00) each! Such a deal! I sent them and some of the flint off to NZ as soon as I got home. Bob also brought some reddish slate sort of thin flat rock along with him. With a rounded stick he (and after a bit all of us) could make those things putt just like a hen turkey. Thank you, Bob.
At the rendezvous there were no hassles, no politics, no cliques, no finger pointing, no silly pedants, no fights, no great list of rules. There was room and acceptance of buckskinners of all levels and expertise or lack of it. Friendly people were in abundance. Help was there if you wanted it. Camaraderie was rampant. You may have guessed—everyone of us NAF folks had a great time. I had about given up on rendezvous entirely. Had, in fact, gotten rid of all but one old tipi and was planning this to be its last trip. But this rendezvous was so good, so like the ones we grew accustomed to during the seventies and the early eighties, that I was entranced. I even bought a better tipi while there because I intend to be using it. I can assure you it will be at the Anasazi Free Trappers rendezvous in Stone Canyon outside St. George next year.
Check out the pictures of this event ------
from June 24th.
There will be an NAF camp
in southern Utah at the site of the Anasazi Free Trappers
property during the last week of September. At that time the
weather is grand down there! The property is easily
located by going to the Anasazi Free Trappers web site which
has directions noted.
If you cannot figure
that out just get in touch with me (970-240-6090). The
archery, rifle, smoothbore, and knife and hawk ranges will be
set up for your use. There are hooters in place and firewood
aplenty. You will have to bring your own water, although I
will probably have enough for those who can't.
For those who want to
fly out to Vegas, Mesquite, or St. George, I can arrange
transportation from the airports. This camp has a lot to offer
- you canoeists will be in easy reach of the Colorado river
and its associated lakes such as Powell, Meade, Mohave, and
Havasu. Just below the camp is a smaller lake that has grand
fishing! For those who wish to have a longer camp you can come
early and stay as long as you wish.
This is an
opportunity to meet and greet other NAF members and to hone
your wilderness skills. There will be classes and symposiums
(whatever the hell those are). For those who have difficulty
bringing tents, firearms, etc., we can fix you up. Just
If you Factors
will get in touch with your members I will appreciate it. Let
them know about this and encourage them to come. They can
bring their friends and families. Saint George ain't all that
much, but it does have factory outlets for shopping and Las
Vegas is not far away.
As I have more
information I will continue to update you.
I remain, Yr Svt.
The site assigned to the
NAF is one that the previous occupant did not use last year and
so was available to us. It is located right in the middle of
camp which is very advantageous. We could have had a site quite
removed from the camp, but being new there we decided that being
centrally located would have advantages. This site has room for
the entire NAF should everyone decide to come at once. We have
left the reservation stake so that we can have that particular
site again next year.
Once we had our camps set
up we went out on a mission of discovery. There was so much to
do, so much going on, that we had a hard time deciding in which
direction to head. Here is just an idea of what our days
Friday: Rifle and
smoothbore walk through. Pistol walk through. Knife, hawk, and
lance competition walk through, archery range walk through (16
targets, all backstopped and 3D animals, Seneca run rifle course
walk through, Children's archery course walk through, Junior
children archery course walk through, Kid's games area, Atlatl
course walk through, review of flint and steel fire competition,
cannon shoot area, Song, general camp gathering circle and
firepit for song and merriment.