It started with a purchase of some raffle tickets, which led to a camping trip. We went to spectate and ‘checkout’ this muzzleloader “mountain-man rendezvous” in Troy, Oregon. My experience surpassed all my expectations. Read on to see why…
My friend and I bought some raffle tickets at a gun show, from a semi-local club (the Wenaha Muzzleloaders). When you buy enough, you become a member too, and they invited us to their big annual “rendezvous.” This event, and it’s competitions were completely new to my ears, but I was anxious to take the camper out for a spin. Birdy agreed, and the plans were set.
I took off early on Friday to pack. Our first trip was likely to be missing a few things, but we left at 4. The trailer traveled well as I puttered down the Buford grade. (An ‘S’ shaped zigzag dropping a huge elevation.) Despite a delay from a cattle drive, we made it to Troy, Oregon. Unsure about the directions, a local quickly confirmed we were headed out of town on the correct road. The one lane didn’t look agreeable for turning back. We found our switch-back (the first one) with the metal bear sign for “Grizzly Flats.” It felt like I barely made it with my 19+ foot trailer. (Apparently, there’s a turnaround uphill, that allows those 30+ RVs a straight shot.)
A large landing opens up beside the Wenaha river, and 2 paths connect three rows of camp sites. (These are all unimproved, without tables, gravel pads, or fancy fire rings.) I drove a loop to spot a site, and parked without seeing anyone I knew. However, before I could scout around my rig, I found a few ham radio folks I knew, one RV over! With careful execution (and permission from neighbors) I threaded my trailer into their camp about 6pm.
With a hasty setup, I grilled a dinner of sausages on my new BBQ. The kids played and got familiar with the others in camp. The campfire kept us up late, as we roasted marshmallows, ‘smores, and decompressed. TBear and I sang “Ghost chicken in the sky” with an enthusiastic response, and we went to bed.
The day dawned bright a clear, with the furnace only kicking on a few times that night. The cannon thundered through camp at 6am. While I was warned about this, I was surprised nonetheless. On the far end of camp, the sound wasn’t too bad inside the trailer, but I was surprise to feel the concussion at that distance, as it coursed through my body. “Kewl,” I thought.
I got up and whipped a great big breakfast with hash browns, sausages, & scrambled eggs. We took a walk around camp, and TBear got to shoot his first muzzleloader! (Thanks to Gentle Ben) Apparently, at these rendezvous’ people have “trail names” or “shooter names” or just plain-old nicknames they go by. Some are chosen, some are bestowed by others (typically to remember a memorable moment). Several had their names announced or changed at the awards ceremony on Sunday.
I entered TBear to do the PeeWee events for 12 and under. He wasn’t thrilled. (Apparently, there’s a magic zone of 10-12 where they’re also able to start competing as a ‘Lil Trapper too.) He wanted to do the older events that included archery, rifle shooting, hawk & knife, etc. They would have found equipment to loan, but I thought it was too much too fast. Then (unknown to us) one of his best friends showed up, so they did the Pee Wee events together, so now it was cool. He showed some skill with his friend’s equipment, so I let him do the “hawk & knife” as a Lil Trapper.
The “Hawk & Knife” refers to a tomahawk and knife. You throw each, trying to stick them into logs of varying size, shape, location, etc. Some targets have separate logs that each is supposed to hit, while others have differing sections colored for each. “Steel to Steel” means both must stick, and “Mountain Man Rules” is a gimme, where you can just walk up and stick them.
Stay tuned for the next post, where the rest of the kids get action too!