Category Archives: primitive weapons

Going to Your First Rendezvous

Kind of an odd post for Orion, but this is an email I threw together explaining what kind of kit you really need when going to your first WFT (Western Fur Trade) event.

Just some basic info, piggybacking off of my articles on buckskinning.org, but a good summary of how to not overdo it at your first Voo.

Rendezvous are more or less reenacting events where people come out and portray the American Fur Trade, generally about 1800-1840. It’s the time of Jim Bridger, Mariano Modena, Liver Eatin’ Johnson, and a host of other characters who opened up the west and lived on their own in the trackless wilderness of the pre-old west.

But, . . . I don’t have a full set of buckskins!

You’re damn right ya don’t, ya flatlander, but don’t let that stop you from coming out. Though period dress is required for these events (and you can go wild with options), you don’t really need a whole lot to blend in. And honestly, after doing this hobby for ten years (sheesh) there is not a lot of my original gear that I still use . . . so you don’t want to run out and buy a bunch of crap, only to have to sell it to some sucker later, but I digress.

Here are some simple things I recommend to “blend in” to your first event:

Period shirt – this is one of the easiest things to acquire and the good news is if you don’t like it later, you can always wear it under your other clothes. I have a few spare shirts, but picking a good one up shouldn’t be a big deal. What you are looking for is a work shirt-style cut that is in a simple pattern (they were hand painted back then, so no one would sit around and paisley up some linen). Here are some examples on eBay – http://www.ebay.com/sch/Costumes-Reenactment-Attire-/163147/i.html?_nkw=mountain+man+shirt, but Crazy Crow and Panther Primitives also have some that are inexpensive and perfect for rendezvous. RenFest-style shirts are usually ok, too – provided that they are not too shiny.

Pants/trousers – for your lower half, the best thing to wear is modern pants (the untucked shirt will hang over the top of the pants, covering up the modern stuff like pockets, belt loops, etc), as long as they are not cargo pants. Jean material is ok – as long as it is not blue jeans (not invented until 1849), and tan, brown or even white jeans (remember the 80s?) are great. Tan, brown, or white chinos are good, too (just don’t have the pleats in the front). No OD green.

Footwear – Academy sells some cheap, moccasin-style house shoes that are perfect rendezvous starter shoes. They are usually around $5. Just make sure you get the ones without rubber soles. For the more ambitious, Tandy Leather sells a moccasin kit that is inexpensive and easy to assemble.

Staying warm – the best, simplest and most period way to stay warm is with a wool blanket. You don’t need to run out and get a Hudson’s Bay or anything like that, but a regular surplus military one will be great (just not OD green). Sportsman’s Guide always has a ton of these. The wool-blend “red cross” blankets are generally crappy, but one’s like this are great – http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=772917 (100% wool and only $15!). Buy two of these and you’ll be set for years. When you upgrade to a better blanket, you can cut these up to make leggings, a shooting pouch, or a rain poncho. For the true woodsman, there is no better multi-use material than wool!

Eating materials – this is the most important category, since you can’t drink out of an aluminum can or beer bottle at a period event, you must have a tin cup. If you have one and it’s legit, you are great (ask me if you need to), if not, this is probably your most important piece of kit. You can drink from it, eat out of it and most importantly – it holds your beer. The quart size is better than the pint (you can fit more in it), but either is fine. You can buy these at most events, or order one here:
http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=138

You will also need a spoon (or a fork, if you are gentrified), but a regular wood spoon is all you really need.
http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=136

Sleeping – if you are camping out, you can sleep in one of my lodges or a friend’s lodge, so your sleeping bag is ok, as long as it’s out of sight. Better yet, wrap yourself up in a wool blanket or two and sleep period style!

Other stuff – if you wanna shoot, we’ll have spare guns. Same for knives, tomahawks, firestarting kits, bows and arrows and all the rest of it. Don’t go out an buy a black powder gun until you have an event or two under your belt, or we have spent any time in the field with them. A leather belt is great, you can tie your tin cup to it, etc. Just make sure it has a simple buckle (brass preferred). There are generally one or two traders at an event, so you can pick-up some plunder there, too.

What do I eat? – most of the time when you are new, you “camp dog,” which basically means eating off of other people’s viddles. We do use coolers, but they are covered up and out of sight to keep the scene working. Jerky is great, but you can really bring whatever, provided the packaging is put away until ready for use (stored in your lodge or whatever). If you are coming out, just bring whatever you are comfortable eating and/or throwing on the fire. I’ll have plenty of pots, pans and related devices. Don’t worry about picking one up for your first event . . .

For more details, check out my website where I discuss a lot of these topics in even more detail:
http://www.buckskinning.org/

See you down the trail!

The Human Path shout-out on WOAI

For those who played last weekend at the THP Quarry game . . . Sam Coffman, who runs The Human Path survival school, got a mention this morning on WOAI radio, as well as their website:

Mad Max” World On The Way? Helotes Man Teaches Survival Skills
Local survivalist course even teaches how to forage for food

From corrency collapse to revolution there is more and more talk of civilization unraveling, and a Dystopian “Mad Max’ world taking it’s place. And a Helotes man can help.

Well, now you can take a survivalist course that will pit you against the elements. It’s run by a former military medic Sam Coffman. Called The Human Path, you can learn all about how to survive in the wild.

“Learning how to work with pretty much nothing in the woods; so learning fire from friction, shelter, water purification and hunting and snares, tracking and things like that,” says Coffman of what he teaches in his core course.

“The course can connect us on a level that is quite a bit more deeply ‘connected’ and less urbanized. Our maxim is: to be the best possible person under the worst possible circumstances. “

You can read the full story here (complete with Mad Max and dog image!).

For more details on The Human Path, check out their website.

The Action Compound Bow

A few months ago we were having dinner at one of our favorite local hamburger joints. It was someplace we had been to pretty frequently over the past few years, so you get to know the waitresses and staff – and we happened to have a gal we’d chatted with off and on over the while. I think I was wearing a shirt with a hunting theme or maybe it was the conversation, so she casually mentioned to us that she was very anti-hunting.

I took my usual approach to this familiar scene with my well-researched opinions on conservation being led by hunters, the rampant deer population of Texas, CWD, lack of wolves to balance out the populations, the fact that I hunt with primitive, blackpowder weapons, and my Native American-inspired approach to utilizing the whole animal, etc.

She caved a little after our short talk and then added in that she did have a cousin who was a hunter – but that it was ok because he was a bowhunter and that was more sportsmanlike.

Er . . . wha?

No disrespect to bowhunters at all. It’s a very difficult sport – nay discipline – to go out into the woods and harvest game with a primitive weapon. I just find it ironic that the average anti-hunting hippie can think that hunting exclusively with a bow somehow justifies hunting.

First of all, the arrow shot from a bow kills via hemorrhage. That means “bleeding to death” folks. When a rifle bullet hits a target or game animal, a huge amount of force is transferred to the target. In many instances, this force alone is enough to kill an animal. The good news on the ethical hunting front is that it means the animal is more likely to die quickly and humanely – even if the hunter isn’t the world’s greatest shot.

It’s really hard to get a clean kill with a bow. This is why many bowhunters practice and hunt at very close ranges – often times within 50 yards or so. Many bowhunters spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. It’s not the kind of weapon you can just go pick-up down at Cabela’s and then expect to go out into the woods harvesting game all Robin Hood-style.

Which brings me to the gist of all of this – why do so many action movies love the compound bow?

Deliverance certainly had its bows (not compound, however), but Rambo really was the start of it all.


Who can forget the great scene when John Rambo, divested of most of his high-tech gear from his ill-fated para-drop into NVA-held territory, whips out his folding compound-bow set – complete with explosive-tipped arrowheads? Eat your heart out Duke-boys and your lame, backwoods dynamite-stick-on-an-arrow trick.

After somewhat of a hiatus, things have come back full guns – or should I say full bow? (I make no apologies for puns) Two recent films – Elektra and The Punisher – both feature the compound bow in full-on action style. Even the deplorable Blade Trinity featured some kind of odd, compound bow/laser hybrid device.


Elektra was especially silly in this regard. In the scene featuring the bow she was going to assassinate her mark via a compound bow from a few hundred yards’ distance – across a nice, placid lake. She was shooting the target through a window (not open – so there’s glass) and then aiming at the victim’s head.

If the arrow did manage to make it the few hundred yards to hit the window and go through the glass without yawing off at some crazy angle, then it would be a hell of a shot to actually cause a fatality at that point. I must also add-in that the bow and arrow featured a scope. Sniper Bows – sheesh.

In The Punisher, Frank Castle – thankfully not played by Dolph Lundgren in this one – uses a bow as a sentry-removal weapon to enter the lair of the antagonist. I will grant that this is probably a more realistic use of a compound bow in an action sequence, but I still think it’s a little far-fetched that someone would decide that a bow and arrow was the right weapon to bring the fight to the enemy. Especially an enemy armed with assault rifles and sub-machine guns.


Haven’t these folks seen Wild Geese? Hardy Krueger showed us that a crossbow was the right tool for the whole sentry removal job.

Recent history always has had its share of proponents of the bow and arrow. Ben Franklin, when faced with a shortage of ideas on how to best arm the colonists against the British aggressors, famously suggested that the Continental army train soldiers with bow and arrows.

It may not have been the best approach against a battle-hardened army, but I certainly would have given them 10 points for coolness.

Now I do have a bow, love to shoot it, and have taken it on several unsuccessful hog hunting trips. Unsuccessful in that the little piggies decided not to show up, not that I went and wounded some poor animal with a well-placed shot to the rump. I am no Ted Nugent, but I can usually hit what I am aiming at most of the time.

Now if I was going to use a primitive weapon to infiltrate the lair of some villain or other nefarious character, I certainly wouldn’t use a bow.

No, I’d fall back on my well-practiced and battle proven Brick-In-The-Sock.

Patent pending.

Throwing Knife, Throwing Axe, or Throwing Log?

Bringing the art of improvised weaponry to a whole new level, a camper in northern Georgia used a potential piece of firewood to assault a would-be Yogi that was trying to steal his family’s pic-a-nic basket.

The story doesn’t detail if the log was mod’d specifically for combat use, if it featured a 550 cord-wrapped handle and/or lanyard, or whether if it was drawn out of a quick-draw kydex sheath. Nonetheless the feature-lacking combat log was used to quickly dispatch the woodland foe.

Ex-Marine kills bear with log, gets ticketed

HELEN, Ga. – A former Marine killed a bear with a single blow — by tossing a log at its head.

The bear had snatched the family’s cooler from their campsite in a national forest in northern Georgia. The 300-pound black bear was taking its loot back into the woods when Chris Everhart’s 6-year-old son threw a shovel at it.

Everhart says the bear started charging, so he grabbed the first thing he could find, which happened to be a log from the family’s firewood.

Everhart lobbed the chunk of wood, hitting the bear in the head and killing it.

“(I) threw it at it and it happened to hit the bear in the head,” Everhart said. “I thought it just knocked it out but it actually ended up killing the bear.”

More – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19374624/

It may not have been as graceful as a a well tossed throwing knife, but it certainly gets a 10 out of 10 on the “primitive weapon” scale.

Look for a whole new line of tactical logs to be introduced this fall by Blackhawk.