Cultivating a Spirit of Self-Reliance

A traditional black powder hunt is a unique experience. Armed with a proper mindset and outfitted in authentic garb, each participant travels back in time to his or her chosen historical era in search of meaning to “What was it really like…?” Where else can a person find such great fun?

But those new to living history and traditional hunting are often surprised by the spirit of independence and self-reliance that characterize the lifestyle of a hunter hero. As moderns, our lifestyle stands in stark contrast to theirs. We live in a society that depends on a strict division of labor merchandised through a myriad of retail and wholesale outlets. We no longer make the clothes on our backs, cobble our own footwear or sew our own wallets or purses. We seek the closest parking space to the mall’s front entrance and spend our leisure hours in overstuffed comfort. Not so in “the old days.”

Dennis hand-sewing a linen trade shirt.The process of exchanging “what was” for “what is” requires careful research and a willingness to cultivate a “do-it-yourself” attitude. Certainly, today’s frontier artisans re-create museum-quality reproductions, and for a price, a living historian can purchase the garments and accoutrements that smooth the journey back to a bygone era. But most folks lack the financial means, and moreover, once a person starts researching the old ways, simple curiosity soon grows to a burning desire to “give it a try.”

Each of us possesses a set of God-given talents. Oftentimes we fail to realize the extent of our ability or fully develop a skill’s potential. Sometimes a project’s requirements simply exceed our own talents, but in most cases, backcountry skills are rudimentary and easy to master.

The lessons garnered from hand-sewing a linen shirt, for example, rival those learned in the heat of a fair-chase pursuit. The personal satisfaction gained from crafting a neck scarf, a pair of buckskin leggins or a leather sheath for a newly-acquired butcher knife is unmatched. In addition, wearing the clothing or using the tools of the hunter’s trade, handmade in the same manner as the originals, enhances the overall historical impression and increases the traditionalist’s ability to shed time’s shackles.

Traditional black powder hunters engage in a constant and ongoing process of self-evaluation. This process weighs every aspect of the portrayal, which includes the hunter’s clothing and accoutrements, often referred to as the re-enactor’s “kit.”

This site’s “how-to” pages are meant to assist in simulating an authentic and meaningful portrayal by addressing the traditional hunter’s “material culture.” Step-by-step instructions and accompanying images will outline the construction of a given garment or accoutrement, illustrating one possible method to re-create a period-correct artifact. The instructions are offered as a guide only, covering a wide range of projects, as time permits.

Give traditional black powder hunting a try, be safe, and may God bless you.

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