My wife and boys have gotten me into muzzle loading.
Leif is a Ranger with the National Park Service at Fort Union when school (he is a teacher) is out. He and Cedric are living history actors during Living History Week at Bannack, Montana, and they are Montana Mountain Men. They, their wives (Kim and Megan), their children, Marilyn, and Haans are members of the Fort Union Muzzleloaders and usually participate in the annual Rendezvous at Fort Union.
And, then there is the Eric and Artie of the Upper Missouri act, where Leif (Eric) and Cedric (Arthur, “Artie”) perform authentic fur trade era and other 19th century music together with historical explanations.
The gracious Muzzle Loaders have even let me be a member.
After joining in the annual Bunny Hunt, Target Shoot, Winter Camp, and Christmas Supper, gradually accumulating some era-appropriate clothing both borrowed and owned, one day I came across what looked like a pretty nice reproduction of the 1803 Harper’s Ferry, Navy Arms black powder rifle being auctioned on Gunbroker.com. It was a used Davide Pedersoli reproduction.
After sharing the link and learning from Paul Oldynski, Cedric’s father in law, who is quite a gun smith and knife smith, that it looked pretty good, and from Leif that the current bid was less than if one bought the parts to build yourself, I took the plunge, set up an account, and entered a bid.
The conclusion of the bid was to happen during the noon hour on a Sunday. That particular day, Marilyn and I had to leave town after church, so the auction would end while we were on the road. As the time approached, we pulled over on the side of Interstate 94.
There was another bidder who entered the auction late. The competition was on.
Back home, all the boys and their wives were out for lunch at a restaurant after church, and they were all following the auction on their phones. One of them made a worried call to Marilyn, “Hey, Dad is losing the auction. Someone out bid him.” So there we were, by the marvel of cell phone technology, spread across the state, yet all together in the same excitement.
In the end, I won the auction for just $626.00, and became the owner of a fine piece, shipped to me from QBI Antique Firearms, Inc. in Oyster Bay, New York on December 31, 2018. Nice way to close out the year.
So, of course, now I need shot, powder, wadding, gun tools, cleaning fluid, and so on and so on and so on, which is all to the good. Something to help keep the old fart’s brain from going senile.
And then, one evening, Leif Eric came over with a package, and guess what was in it. Wow. A custom, made-from-scratch, personalized power horn. It is engraved with:
•My name, "Thomas R Halvorson" •“Here I Stand” •Luther’s Rose •LEH and 19 in a buffalo head •Other decorations
To say nothing of the carvings.
So of course, I had to order 10 pounds of Goex FFFg.
Oh, and by the way, the rifle is in great shape and I have actually hit something with it.
It is a fine thing to learn about hardships, pluck, skills, wit, and joys of those who lived before us on this land, and what made our area what it is, and it is an easy way for family and friends to enjoy each other.