Mountain Man

John’s love of the outdoors in general, and fishing, trapping, and hunting specifically, has lead me to remark on more than one occasion that he lived 150 years too late.  If he were born in 1803 rather than 1953, he would have been a young man during the height of mountain man activity from 1830–1840. The longer he is retired, the more certain I am that my statement is true.

John has always been an avid hunter, but he has also done a bit of trapping over the years.  In the early years of our marriage, prices were high enough that he actually supplemented our income by selling furs.  He took a hiatus from the activity for almost 30 years, but this winter he dug through his cache of outdoor supplies to find his traps and headed for the river.

I’m not sure if John’s traps weren’t working properly because they were rusty or if he was embarrassed because his old traps weren’t as pretty as the ones the other kids had.  Whatever the reason, he decided they needed “spruced up.”  After finding a recipe on the internet, he created a homemade brew by boiling black walnuts in a big tub placed over an open fire and balanced atop two steel posts.  His setup looked vaguely like a witch’s cauldron, but at least he didn’t try to do it in the house on the electric stove, so he is trainable.  He put the traps in the solution and let them soak for several days.  The process actually worked on some of the traps.  Others he had to redo using a commercial solution, but eventually they all came out restored to their former luster.

His trapping success rate this year wasn’t as high as in the past, but he did catch three beavers and enough raccoons that I’m sure he will continue the activity next year.  That can only mean more boiling pots over open flames in the yard and more dead varmints on the premises.

John enjoys the comforts of home, but he probably could have adapted to the rugged lifestyle of those long ago frontiersmen.  He might prefer the title of Mountain Man, but what’s in a name? That which we call a redneck by any other name would be as sweet. (With apologies to the Bard)

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