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American Frontiersman

American Frontiersman


The quintessential frontiersmen were those imbued with the new “American Spirit” who pushed the envelope, and the frontier, from one ocean to the other as they brought to its finest form, what we call the art and science of frontiersmanship. This spirit is alive and well 200 years into our nation’s history as our master practitioners offer timely and timeless articles on wilderness, survival, the land and the techniques that have been honed through generations.

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United States
Athlon Media Group
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
dress & talk the part

Happy new year and welcome to American Frontiersman’s Winter Rendezvous edition. Let’s all be thankful that 2020 is eating our portage trail dust. We are also very thankful to each and every reader for dropping some wampum (Indian term for belts of small beads or shells that were used as money) for this magazine. Some of you who’ve been reading AF since 2013 might have spied the fact that cover artist Paul Calle’s all-smiles model for this issue’s cover titled “Early Arrivals” is the same gent who appeared on our premier issue’s “Trapper’s Feast” cover. The man’s name is Bernie Powell (shown right), known to be a real keener (a man who is an exceptional shot) with a big fifty (Sharps rifle used by buffalo hunters). We didn’t choose this shining imagery…

8 min.
the devil’s backbone

The deeply rutted ancient trail, created by hundreds of years of hoofs and moccasin feet, wasn’t much more than a network of narrow paths through the wilderness. Often, the old trail followed ridges and hilltops to stay out of mud and flash flooding during periods of heavy rain. In other places, the trail skirted swamps teaming with alligators and cottonmouth snakes. The old trail crossed many creeks and streams including the mighty Tennessee River, all subject to flooding and swift water crossings. Its course took a frontier traveler through dark vast virgin forests. In the lowlands and bottoms, the trail coursed through and along high thickets of cane so dense a man could hardly enter it. The trail was home to numerous venomous snakes, panthers, bears, wolves, swarms of blood-sucking insects…

10 min.
what’s on the spit?

When the aging mountain man Bear Claw comes across the campfire of his one-time student, Jeremiah Johnson, he calls out, “What’s on the spit?” The scene in the movie is a good one, and when Johnson hands his mentor a hunk of meat that had been roasting on a stick over the fire, Bear Claw tries a taste and announces, “You cook good rabbit, Pilgrim.” Rabbit might not seem like much of a meal for a mountain man, supposedly in the midst of country loaded with bison, elk and deer. But, as the mountain men say, “Meat’s meat.” Sometimes, even for the mountain men, it pays to not be particular about feeding. Despite the characters in Jeremiah Johnson and other movies, mountain men did not prefer to hunt and travel alone.…

2 min.
feedin’ time

For his 34th birthday on Aug. 1, 1804, William Clark went all-in for a proper feast to mark the occasion. The Lewis and Clark Journals tell us the menu, with the usual spelling errors found in the Journals . “This being my birth day I order'd a Saddle of fat Vennison, an Elk fleece & a Bevertail to be cooked and a Desert of Cheries, Plumbs, Raspberries Currents and grapes of a Supr. quallity. The Indians not yet arrived. A Cool fine eveninge Musquetors verry troublesom, the Praries Contain Cheres, Apple, Grapes, Currents, Rasp burry, Gooseberris Hastlenuts and a great Variety of Plants & flours not Common to the U S. What a field for a Botents and a natirles...” Such elaborate meals were not the routine for the Lewis and Clark…

8 min.
legend y rider

THE DATE was June 24, 1876, and Charles Alexander Reynolds had a bad feeling. Known as “Lonesome” Charley Reynolds, the 34-year-old cavalry scout felt such a strong sense of foreboding for what he feared might happen the next day that, history tells us, he gave away his personal belongings to the soldiers who were his comrades. The following day, Reynolds saddled his horse, mounted up and followed his boss, George Armstrong Custer, to the Little Bighorn River in Montana for a little scuffle with some unruly Native Americans. A Frontiersman’s Frontiersman The son of a doctor, Reynolds was born in Warren Country, Illinois, in March of 1842. He later moved to Kansas with his family and went to college there before joining the Union Army in 1860. In the Army, he was a member of…

8 min.
hot to trot

SETTING THE STAGE “…the wind blew and the fine frost snow crept in and around us...day light at last appeared when we consulted what we had best do under the circumstances and it was agre that I should arise and gather some sage brush which was small and scarce and (my partner) wold remain under the Buffaloe robe and keep his hands warm if posibi to strike fire. But all our calculations failed for as soon our hands became exposed to the air they became so numb that we could not hold thee flint and Steel… my comrade raped himslf in his robe and laid down after a great struggle…” “It was cold and clear the evening that we encamped on Sweet water many of South sides of the hills ware…