Ottawa Sportsmen's Club News

MUCC Magazine Michigan Out-of-Doors Article

September 23, 2003

Oct 2003 Issue

Youths Learn Old Ways
Rendezvous near Baraga
Explores Michigan's Past

By Lee Arten
Lee Arten Article

Moccasin Making Blacksmith Black Powder Shoot

Three teenage boys sat at a table at the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club, sewing elk hide moccasins with sinew as Sara Stevens of Crystal Falls showed the boys how to make tight stitches.

She used the project to illuminate the way people lived before 1840. Stevens talked about what was used for kindling, how people attracted beavers to their traps, and what people ate.

Cal Gardner, one of the campers, said he thought his moccasins were too small. "They'll stretch," Stevens said, "That's why we say until the snow comes, don't wear socks with them." She described how larger moccasins made of moose hide would have been worn over the elk hide ones in winter.

Moccasin-making was one of the workshops offered at the Youth Rendezvous-Pre-1840s Experience held in June at the Upper Peninsula club west of Baraga. Fifteen 12- to 17-year-old youths from Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties took part.

Other workshops were tomahawk and knife throwing, flint and steel firemaking, blacksmithing, and blackpowder rifle shooting. Activities included tracking and a tipi tour Drummers from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community performed and shared information on the meaning of their dances.

The rendezvous, directed by Jon Henkel, was sponsored by the Michigan United Conservation Cubs affiliate, which donated the use of its clubhouse, grounds, and ranges; the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, local businesses; and the Michigan Council forArts and Cultural Affairs.

Blacksmithing was taught by Robert Fenske,Jr.,of Dunbar, Wisconsin. Ken Kazmar and Jim Jeffries taught how to strike flint and steel to light tinder. Ed Benda of Crystal Falls brought several .50-caliber Hawken-type rifles, and by Tuesday, rendezvous participants had gone through almost three pounds of black powder as Benda and Ron Moilanen ran a fast-paced but safe range.

"Kids as well as presenters really enjoyed themselves," said Monique Fox, who writes grant requests for the KBIC and wrote the proposal for the rendezvous. "Everyone said they'd come again and bring a friend."

Club member Lee Arten, columnist for Woods-and-Waters News, also writes for Small Arms Review, Shotgun News, Gun Digest and other outdoor publications.

Pre-1840'S Lifestyle Experience:

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