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So You Want To Be A Mountain Man
by Ed Imperatore

So, you want to be a Mountain Man too? Cool! Join the club! As far as descriptions go for what a real 'Mountain Man' was I couldn't beat this one: 'I Have The Fastest Horse, The Finest Gun, And The Sharpest Knife. I Can Outshoot, Out Fight, Out Hunt, Out Trap, Out Skin, Out Cuss, Out Track, Out Throw, Out Spit, And Out Lie Any Man In These Here Lands. For I Am A Mountain Man!'

It's all pretty cut and dry, plain and simple, easy as all get out until you decide to actually do it. Then it gets a bit weird so I'm going to try to bring it all down to earth as it should be.

First of all, everything possible must be somewhere in the area of 1840-1860. In simple English, think iron-not stainless steel, think wool-not nylon, think moccasins-not sneakers.

KNIVES AND HAWKS
The knives and tomahawks MUST be something that at least looks like it could be from that era or before.

Handles have to be bone, leather, wood, antler, rawhide etc.

I believe the lengths for knives are 12 to 16 inches long. Hawks - no limits on handle length. If you want to throw against the best with a 20 inch hawk handle go for it! But they got 10 inch handles and will beat you up just with distances. (Meaning they will be much closer to the target when throwing.)

All hawks MUST be two (2) piece tools (the head must be separate from the handle). In other words wooden handles on hawks with metal heads.

CLOTHING
Your clothing if either male or female needs to be as close to authentic as you can afford or care to dress in. Think buckskins, leather, cotton, osnaburg, linen, etc. For footwear think mocs or something akin to that NOT Converse! LoL

As far as I'm concerned you NEED a hat of some sort from that era if you're a male, but that's just my personal opinion and it's worth what you paid for it.

The same attention can be paid to accessories such as sheaths, possibles bags, belts, and any jewelry. Think about it like this: A bunch of people playing dress up and instead of Barbie Dolls we use ourselves like on Halloween except we take it serious to the Nth degree.

TARGETS
For the targets we generally use log rounds (sometimes cut into blocks) that are at least 18-24 inches across. These tend to sit on a tripod of some kind at about mid chest to belly button height on a 6 foot person. So the overall throwing level will normally be kind of low for a IKTHoF thrower, or at least on the lower end of the spectrum.

And since they are on a tripod most times they tend to be tilted away from you with the bottom being closer than the top of the round (block).

GAMES WE PLAY
Now we get to the fun part! The games we play!

First off let me tell you that we all use 1 knife and 1 hawk for all games.

Normally there are no distance markers on the ground. At most you'll get a 10-foot 'scratch line' that you can't go closer than without a foul, but most times there is no line at all.

You need to learn how to walk yourself back from your target to your throwing line and place either your knife or hawk there for that turn.

So that, for instance, you're on 1 spin knife and you find your place - you lay down your hawk handle to mark it so you know where it is for all 5 knife throws - then after your knife throws you pick it up. So practice your step counts like a religion.

THE GAMES

WALK ACROSS TEXAS
1 spin knife. You throw your first knife as close to the left side of the target as possible. If it sticks, the 'stick mark' is marked with a golf tee. Now every knife you throw from that first stick must stick to the right of each previous stick. The object of the game is to get the most golf tees you can stuck into that block. The same for a hawk. Count 'em up and the winner... wins.

CARD CUTTING
There is a million variations on this from using playing cards to business cards, but most go like this.

Place a card on your target. Stick the block - 1 point, cut the card - 2 points, center cut the card (stick the card with no outside edge of the card broken) - 4 points. Highest score wins.

HIGH LOW
You have 2 targets. One high in the air, the other is low on the ground.

The knife is thrown at the 'high' target - usually at a card, and then the hawk is thrown at a block lying on the ground.

Since the target is so low, you must throw your hawk using a 1 spin so the handle is pointing up in the air when it hits. The bottom target can also be a playing card or a picture of a rabbit etc.

I could keep going on for a long time but to make this shorter I'll say the games are never quite the same for each event, but all include card cutting, card cutting with rubber bands in the way, cutting spaghetti, or whatever they can think of in their demented minds to make it harder.

The thing is, all you need to be capable of is 1 and 2 spins with your knife, 1-spin hawk, and 1-1/2 spin hawk.

And, trust me here; all your points will probably come from the 1 spin contests. Any points made from the longer distances are gravy on your turkey.

I'll tell you here that I have more fun at Mountain Man events because of all the weird and surprising games I've never heard of.

Article Contributed By:

SpEsHuL eD
Ed Imperatore
New Jersey Thrower
aslow@comcast.net






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