To Preserve the Heritage of the Fur Trade Era

New Mexico Mountain Men

2005 Moon of the Crow - “The rest of the story”

At some point during the rendezvous, I had promised "Long Shot" a write-up of the event for member reading in the newsletter. However, setting the April issue down and ruminating on the account that "Long Shot" had already relayed, it occurred to me that it would be a stretch of my limited literary talents to equal the fabulous portrayal that he had already published. I was amazed at how well he had captured the essence of the event and had woven them into a spell-binding tale that no doubt left an impression of fond memory on those attending as well as creating the “dang, I should have been there” thought for those unable to make the journey. Heck, He even listed all the event results! How did he manage that? Most impressive!

Couple his account with the version from Bill of the Rio Grande Muzzle Loaders and it sure made me glad I was able to be there for at least three days! We should likely do whatever possible to keep those two separated and prevent them from joining forces or we shall suffer the loss of their talents as they begin publishing a new three color slick magazine of black powder shooting and the rendezvous scene and picking our pockets on a monthly basis from subscription fees. We are fortunate and should be thankful these two fine lads are willing to task themselves with the effort required for our enjoyment of the monthly newsletters. Thanks guys!!

So, that still leaves me with the promise fulfillment to "Long Shot" and not wishing to be redundant, I scratched my chin awhile and pondered what could I possibly scribe? How about borrowing from Paul Harvey and doing “A rest of the story” of Moon of the Crow? Something along the lines of those behind the scenes activities that occur to make a rendezvous happen. We have members in the NMMM who unselfishly and with great energy and enthusiasm subject themselves to the hoop jumping required to put on a voo or other event and their stories would be much the same. Our current illustrious NMMM booshway put on five events one year! That is dedication….it exhausts me to do one! At any rate, here is my account of the rest of the story of the 2005 MOTC, and if you know the words, just sing along!

It is November and the hunts are done, the freezer is full, and the holiday season approaches. I should probably think about the Christmas shopping. Better yet, let’s start thinking about rendezvous. Yeah!! More fun to think about that! Let’s see when the full moon shows its face in March next year; where’s that dang calendar…….Gads! Easter is the same weekend! Man, we (the Gila Trappers) get hammered on attendance when that happens every few years and we are already financially strapped from the bad weather last year resulting in a lower turnout. Perhaps I will bring it up at the NMMM Christmas party in December and determine the sentiments and plans of the majority of those who usually attend then take that vote back to the Gila Trappers at the next meeting for re-setting the dates of the rendezvous. The weekend after receives the winning vote.

Unfortunately, the Segundo of the Gila Trappers was not aware of my plan as we had not had a meeting in this time frame and he had done his part of crafting and sending the flyer for 2005 with the traditional full moon weekend as the dates. No problem, we are flexible and at the next planning meeting we discuss the issue and decide the following weekend to be satisfactory and a new flyer is published with corrected dates. One bullet dodged!

A new year has rolled in with January and the time has come to begin the process of obtaining a permit from the Forest Service to hold the event. How difficult can that be, you ask. Well, a good relationship from years of conscientious attendees taking great care of the site goes a long ways, but the paperwork only becomes more arduous each year. Of course, each district has its’ own local policies, but a double-sided fifteen page environmental impact statement? Proof of liability insurance to the tune of a million bucks, maps of the area of impact, emergency plan, sanitation, gross receipts from sales, (what?) and two trips to the office (an hour each way) to resolve and clarify the paperwork. Then mailing a check to San Francisco for permit fees. Whew! Time for another club meeting to finalize plans. That goes well and excitement builds.

It is February, the month for medallion casting. Uh oh, it appears I am short (out) of raw materials for this year’s medallions. Okay, I need my tires rotated anyway and this is the usual method of securing material, so I arrive at Big O tires in late afternoon by design. I know there will be six deep in line awaiting service in the bays which will allow me time to nonchalantly walk around outside the shop and the parking lot and stuff my pockets with the many wheel weights awaiting their next useful life. Someday I should send them a thank you note for the donation. The following weekend is blustery and cold, so the stove in my shop warms the area as the melting pot and mold render the keepsakes of Moon ’05. It takes all day to cast, cut off pouring sprues, and file down the circular shapes. Now, where did I put those number stamps? Oh, yes, drill the holes!

The windy month arrives. I begin a second career with a long drive each way that takes up much time. My friends, Mike and Betty are visiting from Oregon and he, being a former member of the Gila Trappers, offers assistance in any way shape or form to make it all happen. Sure, I say! How about the first calm day painting the targets? We go to the metal pile of targets and peruse the possibilities. How should it look this year? I want a mix of “gimmies” and a few more challenging shots for those who wait to shoot. Then there are the bigger targets for smooth bore to be a different color. And the long gong… should I add a twist to that event this year? Calcutta! Better have a back-up set of targets for the mountain man run and ladies’ shoot as Denis and Carol may be called away at a moments notice and they are scheduled to put on those events. Okay, the hawk blocks next. Sad shape is the existing condition discovered. The cottonwood rounds cut two years ago have dried and morphed into some form of ironwood. We grab a saw and head out in search of new blocks to bring home and install hooks for chain hangers. Pine, all is good.

Hey, why not use the cottonwood bark for the mountain man run where everyone has the same nest material? We try it numerous times and always have flame in less than ten seconds. Good! How was I to know it would get left out overnight to absorb moisture? Any lessons learned there as participants died along the trail of competition? Now where did I put that sheet of Celotex?

Still three weeks to go and I have spent too much time trying to select prizes, but I finally pick up the phone and order them. “Yes, we have everything and you should receive them in 5 to 7 days.” All seems to be on track and even a little ahead of previous years, way too cool! I even have permit in hand and all the scorecards are done! The only thing not finalized is securing hooters and that immediately turns into a challenge when I receive quotes that are double to last year. “Really, $800 for three days? I’ll get back to you.” Finally, a young man just starting business in Glenwood offers to match last years’ price. Another small victory! Then I receive a note from the boss, “you are scheduled for four days of training in Las Vegas, NM.” It only happens to be the four days before rendezvous with the last day scheduled to end at 5:00 pm and still a seven-hour drive home. Major panic!! When will set up happen? Club members of the Gila Trappers are also swamped with prior duties and life events. Anguish, stress, grinding of teeth, cold sweats, sleeplessness. What to do?

“Hey "Pack Mule" old buddy, old pal, bestest guy I know!” He listens patiently through the panic and hopelessness in my voice as I relay my quandary and replies, "So, what’s the problem?" I hate being an imposition to anyone, but I cannot tell you the wave of relief that swept over me when I heard those words; I knew everything was okay.

The Sunday before Mike and I go out to the site taking targets, council firewood, and canvas. We make good progress getting the canvas in the air and hanging the trail walk course. Some amount of prudence was necessary for possible vandalism, so Mike spent that night alone at camp on guard duty while I returned home to prepare for departure the next morning to the north. Help would arrive Monday.

The next morning I am somewhat disconsolate as I head north knowing what I am going to miss, but a big smile crosses my face near Belen as I spy "Pack Mule" and family heading south on the interstate. Life is good!

At night in the hotel, I am glued to the tube as the Weather Channel gurus make their predictions for the weekend. From the winds and blizzards in Las Vegas I am experiencing, I can only hope for better at the site. I hear later it was a little cold was all. A call home reveals that the prizes have not yet arrived. What?? They assured me! “Well, they said they would over-night them tomorrow” which would be Thursday. From West Virginia to the boonies wherein is my front door? Not likely is my thought, but there has been no lack of miracles so far! I arrive home late Thursday night and crawl into bed waiting for the white lines to disappear from the eyelids and give thanks there were no deer on the road from my haste over the Black Range. In a matter of hours I will be in camp! Friday morning dawns and rifles and grub are loaded and I retrace the route from short hours before arriving in camp to find everything in shape and folks having a great time. Mike is running registration while I finish putting my camp together and many come by to say “Hello.” This is great and again I am thankful for more help and generosity than anyone could hope for. Maybe I can now allow myself to breath and have fun.

And fun it was! Even I would rate this years’ version as a resounding success. I even had time to set in on Jessie’s straw bale event for the kids and what a treat that was! Seems everywhere I looked folks were having a splendid time and enjoying themselves. Adding the great weather in made for the perfect mix at the site.

Lo and behold the prizes arrive on Saturday afternoon and the final puzzle piece falls into place. Only Council Fire to go with announcements, prizes, one naming, Calcutta Auction, and the drawing for the generous contribution of rifle from "Red Wing" and the exquisite ceramic mask donated by "Gone Again". That was then followed by "Flaming Canvas" winning and then donating the mask back to the club for next years’ rendezvous. I can say that without the generous offers of help and donation of hard earned dollars, none of this would happen. My thanks to all!

The marathon shoot Sunday morning brought down the curtain on the 2005 Moon of the Crow and even that was a lot of fun. It was personally rewarding in more ways than one! Perhaps that will be done again in the future.
The camp dissolves slowly as folks pack up and head home until I am the last one in camp and quiet has once again settled into the canyon. I pull the lash ropes one more time on the lodge poles atop the pickup, then wander up the canyon and think about what a big help it is for the early morning walk of Delore and Rick pulling down the targets and placing them on the road for pick up. And I think of how nice it is when folks come up and relay what a good time they had, and how there are so many others that deserve credit and thanks. I reach the last shooting station and linger for a moment before return back to camp. A walk around shows what great folks attend Moon. I find no trash and only have to scatter a couple of fire rings. The left over water from my camp is stirred into the Council Fire, as it is still quite hot and then to the truck for the trip home.

I take one last look around before turning the key and think, “yep, that was a good one.”


Oso, Ron and John from El Paso sent in the shots used here and on "Long Shot"' account.

Reports on the 2005 Redezvous
Hands' Account Long Shot's Account
Moon Front Page NMMM Front Page

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