Requirement #4 of the American Mountain Men

4. Must have spent at least one full week in a primitive encampment in the company of other members at the Territorial AMM Rendezvous (Eastern or Western) or the National (Rocky Mountain) AMM Rendezvous.

This requirement is optional for advancement to Bossloper and mandatory for the Hiveranno degree.

The hardest thing about this requirement for most men is getting the time away from work and family. Each of these rendezvous are held once a year in various places, sponsored by various brigades. The schedule varies from year to year except for the National rendezvous which is always held around the first of July. The announcements for the events are included in the Moccasin Mail newsletter and Tomahawk and Long Rifle magazine.

The spirit of this requirement is to participate in the large gatherings. These rendezvous usually start on a Saturday and end the following Saturday. To me “Must have spent at least one full week” means arrive on Saturday and stay until the following Saturday. Monday – Friday is not “one full week”.

The last National rendezvous I attended had too many uninvited guests. These “guests” caused problems for the hosting brigade and for the members in general. It caused a split between the AMM members present that continues to this day.

As listed in our Standing Rules – D. Any member sponsoring a guest must be a Bossloper or Hiveranno. He shall be restricted to inviting one guest and the guest in turn may bring only members of their immediate family. The attire and conduct of any guest shall be the responsibility of the person offering the invitation.

The Code of the Mountains should have been applied. 9. At any association activity I shall follow the rules set forth by the Booshway in charge or leave of my own free will.

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Requirement #3 of the American Mountain Men

3. Must have spent an accumulative time of two or more weeks in the wilderness under primitive conditions in the company of no more than one other member. Each stay must be at least three full days and two full nights.

This requirement is optional for advancement to Bossloper and mandatory for the Hiveranno degree.

This requirement embodies the Spirit of the American Mountain Men, second only to #19 Aux Aliments du Pays. That is time spent in the wilderness under primitive conditions.

To spend an “accumulative time of two or more weeks in the wilderness” is what we are all about. To get out on the ground in a wilderness setting away from the modern rendezvous and historical demonstrations is the goal here.

To be “under primitive conditions” means AMM rules apply. (See Requirement #2)

“In the company of no more than one other member.” means just that. It doesn’t mean you can go with a larger party as long as only one other member is AMM. The spirit of this requirement is to get out on the ground alone or with a partner. Requirement #19 Aux Aliments du Pays counts toward this accumulative time.

“Each stay must be at least three full days and two full nights.” There’s an old joke that goes “If you don’t start drinking in the morning, how can you say you’ve been drinking all day?” I say again, put in your time. The only person you are cheating is yourself. (See Requirement #2)

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Requirement #2 of the American Mountain Men.

2. Must have spent at least two days and one night in a primitive camp during each season of the year.

This requirement and #1 are both required for advancement to Bossloper

In fulfilling this requirement, I would like to define some of the phrases contained in this simple sentence.

“Must have spent at least two days and one night” means to me, the majority of both days. What it doesn’t mean is come in just before dark the first day, camp overnight, and leave first thing the next morning. Attending a primitive camp is what we do, you are only cheating yourself by not making the effort to spend the time.

“Primitive camp” has a specific meaning in the American Mountain Men. When I started my journey, our party booshway would say “AMM rules apply!”. No one explained the “AMM rules” other than to say the rules are found in the By-Laws and Standing Rules. I am including these camp rules in their entirety with highlights in bold on the items that stand out to me. Personal comments are in italics.

From the “Standing Rules”

ARTICLE XIII. STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND AUTHENTICITY AT AMM
NATIONAL AND TERRITORIAL RENDEZVOUS


A. The fish and game laws of all States, territories and regions shall be respected at all times.
Violations of those laws may be consideration for dismissal. I am afraid this is not taken as seriously as it should be.


B. No loaded firearms shall be allowed in the camp area and the discharge of any firearm,
cannon, or projectile within the camp shall be cause for disciplinary action up to dismissal. This rule is specifically for a National or Territorial Rendezvous. In a hunting camp, I feel it can be disregarded. Safety in handling of firearms is always a top priority and can never be disregarded!


C. The gaming or running of horse or mule in the camp shall be considered as an act as
dangerous as firing a loaded weapon and the offender(s) shall be treated in the same manner
and the same disciplinary action will apply.


D. Any member sponsoring a guest must be a Bossloper or Hiveranno. He shall be restricted to
inviting one guest and the guest in turn may bring only members of their immediate family. The
attire and conduct of any guest shall be the responsibility of the person offering the invitation.


E. At AMM rendezvous, members shall dress and live much as the original Mountain Men did,
having no items in camp that would not have been of a type seen in the possession of Mountain
Men in, or moving to the Rocky Mountains between 1800-1840
, unless specifically excepted in
these standing rules or by the event Booshway. It is the individual’s responsibility to check his
own gear. Each member shall study reasonable sources of authority (journals, trade lists,
museum artifacts, period artwork), to determine whether or not items in his outfit meet this
criteria.
If an item is questionable, it should not be brought along until it can be verified. When in doubt, leave it home.

Eastern styled breeches, leggins and certain “Long hunter gear” (such as coats,
moccasins, horse gear, etc.) are acceptable
, so long as these outfits are representative
of the woodland styles being adapted to the conditions of the western plains and
mountains.

Acceptable dwellings and shelters shall include: Tipis, Pyramid tents, Lean-to of the
appropriate historical period, Marquis tent or Wall tent. These may be of canvas and may
be machine sewn. Lean-to’s of natural materials are also encouraged where the materials
are available and where it is legal and acceptable to use these
. Keeping in mind the mobility and limited cargo capacity of the average trapper/hunter in the Rocky Mountains, the smaller and lighter your shelter material, the better.

Cameras and video/audio recording devices, their film and tapes may be used. These
should be camouflaged or concealed whenever possible. Cell phones are allowed in
camp but can only be used as cameras otherwise they are not to be seen or heard while
in camp. (Amended August 20, 2017)
This has been an ongoing issue among the members due to our addiction to these devices and the instant communication they provide. Please wait until the event is over before posting pictures to social media.

Prescription medicines, necessary medical devices, items of personal hygiene, and water
purification chemicals or filters are acceptable as long as they are concealed whenever
possible.

Prescription glasses should be fitted to appropriate style frames for the period, if possible.

Trade goods and their method of being displayed shall be appropriate to the period.

All food and cooking supplies shall be contained, wrapped or stored in containers or
materials appropriate to the period.

Cooking and eating ware shall be appropriate to the period

From the “By-Laws” ASSOCIATION CODE (The Code of the Mountains)

A. The following shall be the standard code to be used during all rendezvous, field activities or other special activities:

1. I shall at all times consider a man’s private life none of my business unless he wishes to make it so.

2. I shall at all times strive to be a self-reliant individual, asking help only if and when it is absolutely needed.

3. I shall at all times consider my word a sacred trust, a bond which is not to be broken.

4. I shall at all times respect the personal property of other members, considering thievery an act deserving contempt.

5. Before entering any camp or lodge I shall first make my presence known, then enter only if invited.

6. I shall at no time fire any firearm in camp or give any other false warning of impending danger.

7. During any survival situation I shall be willing to divide any food and water I have and give any other assistance to people found in need.

8. I shall take from nature only what I need or can actually use, practicing good conservation of our native wilderness and wildlife.

9. At any association activity I shall follow the rules set forth by the Booshway in charge or leave of my own free will.

10. I shall at all times Strive to it improve myself, my wilderness abilities and my knowledge of nature’s law.

B. Any member consistently breaking this code or any part of it shall be asked to resign his membership by the Brigade Booshway or Territory Segundo. Should said member fail to do so the Grand Council may be asked to dismiss him as per Article VI, these by-laws.

ARTICLE XVII GAME LAW COMPLIANCE

A. Any game taken by any member for any association test or taken for any association activity must be taken in full compliance with any and all game laws of the area.

B. In accord with the ideals of fair chase, at no time may game be taken from any motor vehicle or aircraft, nor may any type of radio communication be established between members during any hunt.

Game Law compliance is so important, it is listed twice. Both in the Standing Rules and in the By-Laws.

When it comes to “each season of the year”, I offer the following suggestion:

Spring season = March, April, & May.

Summer season = June, July, & August.

Fall season = September, October, & November.

Winter season = December, January, & February.

During my pilgrimage, I did a camp the first weekend in December with a blizzard blowing. Saturday night, the wind slowed down, the snow stopped, and the temperature dropped to -3 degrees. Our party booshway insisted this was a “Fall” camp because it was before the winter solstice. Depending on where you are geographically, your “Spring” camp could have winter or summer weather. Ditto for your “Fall” camp. I have experienced 5″ of snow at a “Spring” camp in May and close to 60-degree highs at a “Winter” camp the end of January in Colorado. We should adopt a definition of “seasons”, so everyone is on the same page.

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Requirement #1 of The American Mountain Men

  1. Must have a full set of hand-cut and -sewn clothing and handmade accoutrements. These must be researched for authenticity of the 1800-40 period and be of a type which would have been seen on men in, or moving to, the Rocky Mountains. Rifles, saddles, traps, blankets, and other accoutrements that would normally have required the work of a specialized craftsman need not be handmade but must be as authentic as can be purchased today.

This requirement and #2 are both required for advancement to Bossloper.

The clothing and accoutrements of the mountain man can be researched in many ways. Many sources are available from books and magazines to the internet. I would recommend a person replicate items that come from primary source documents. The Book of Buckskinning VII starts off with a wonderful article by Allen Chronister and Clay Landry about clothing. The Mountain Man Sketch books 1&2 along with the Voyageurs Sketch book are great references from the Hanson family of the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE. The Encyclopedia of the Fur Trade published by The Museum of the Fur Trade is also a great resource. A person need take care using these books as they contain items from much later in the fur trade era than our targeted time of 1800-1840. Jim Gordon’s books on guns and knives of the fur trade are excellent references as well.

The Encyclopedia of the Fur Trade Volume 4 on Clothing and Textiles will help you to find printed cloth of the type and style of the rendezvous period. Stick to organic materials such as wool, linen, cotton and leather. I’ve listed cotton last as it was not as common as linen, just the opposite of what we see today. When it comes to colors, I like bold primary colors over subdued or pastel colors. You cannot go wrong with white. Blue, red, green, and yellow were common colors for trade items. Natural dyes from nuts and fruits are wonderfully appropriate for hand crafted items. Just beware that some common fur trade chemicals are now considered hazardous. Vermillion or Cinnabar is mercuric sulfide. While considered nonpoisonous, a little care goes a long way.

Along with the resources already listed The Trade Gun Sketchbook and Trade Rifle Sketchbooks are invaluable recourses. These were authored by the Hansons as well. Until the mid 1830’s, Hawken rifles and percussion rifles in general were scarce in the west. With the establishment of trading posts across the west and the demise of the rendezvous system the percussion system gained in popularity. This was due to the ready supply of percussion caps. When a trapper saw a supply wagon once a year at rendezvous a percussion rifle was not a practical weapon. To run out of caps was to have a heavy club instead of a rifle for months on end.

A word on stitching is in order here. Items that were made by professional seamsters and seamstresses have many orderly, tight stitches per inch. Similar to what a machine sewn garment looks like today. Items made in the field and repairs will be cruder than trade goods brought from St. Louis, however, in a time when all sewing was done by hand, most people would have more skill with a needle and thread than we have today. Practice and patience are the key. The following pictures illustrate what I mean:

A Roman Shoe from the 4th or 5th Century
A closer view of the stitching.

Alfred Jacob Miller is lofted as “the only artist to attend a rendezvous” and this is true. However, he painted in a “romantic” style and definite detail is lacking in most of his work. Rex Allen Norman has done a wonderful job of sketching Miller’s work and drawing out the details needed to recreate pieces from his pictures.

This is a good reference for female clothing if and when you choose to bring your lady friend along as your guest.

The following list includes some of the books from the Fur Press. Prices are no longer correct.

When it comes to leather, there is nothing like a good brain-tanned deer hide. If you don’t know a brain tanner or just want to save money by doing it yourself, the book I use is Deerskin into Buckskin.

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Accepting a Prospect into Probationary Membership of the American Mountain Men.

I have seen a lack of consistency in the members of the AMM in how they handle assessing prospects. Some seem to be saying, a sponsor must camp with a prospect twice before considering any paperwork while others make their prospects wait a year or more before extending an invitation. They do this under the guise of “getting to know” the man. Some of these people seem to be “lording it over” their prospects to see how much they can get out of them before finally giving them the carrot they have been dangling.

According to the official application, the following is what is required: Methods of and Requirements for acceptance into membership (By-Laws Art. I)


A. Membership in this association is by invitation only. Invitations to join will be issued only after the prospective member has:

1. Been nominated by at least two (2) members holding Regular membership, Gray Beard membership or a combination of both, or by one (1) member holding Hiveranno membership.

2. Been interviewed IN PERSON by the member(s) making the nomination.

B. To be eligible for membership a prospective member must:

1. Be eighteen (18) years of age or older.

2. Have at least one muzzle-loading firearm with fixed sights or one hand made bow of a type and style used by American Indians. Said bow must have a pull of no less than thirty (30) pounds.

3. Have made at least a partial study of the lives and methods of the Mountain Men during the 1800-1840 era.

4. Show that he is willing to take an active part in the activities of the association.

C. All nominations must be in writing, listing what is known of the prospective member (interest, experience, etc.) plus any other interest which will help determine eligibility all letters of nomination must have printed on them the name, card number, membership type, and state of member(s) making nomination. At least one member making the nomination must sign the letter.

D. All nominations must be reviewed and recommended by the Brigade Booshway, then approved by the Territory Segundo. The nominee shall be accepted as a probationary member on the Territory Segundo’s approval.

1. The association Capitaine may approve nominees in place of any Segundo. All Foreign members must be approved by the association Capitaine.

As can be clearly seen from item A.2., a prospect needs only be “interviewed in person” by those making the nomination. Very simple. The following two years, “the probationary period” will determine the worth and intent of the candidate. If the pilgrim is not willing or able to complete the Bossloper requirements within the two-year period or does not demonstrate the desire to follow the organization’s standing rules and by-laws, the candidate will wash out and not make regular membership.

One of the joys/freedoms of local autonomy we have in the American Mountain Men is the ability to specify local rules or guidelines for each of our parties. If a party wants to require their prospects to camp with their party for a camp or two [or several] to introduce a prospective candidate to their membership, they can do that. WHAT THEY CANNOT DO, HOWEVER IS FORCE ANOTHER PARTY TO FOLLOW THEIR PARTY RULES!

In writing to a new prospect about making application to join the AMM, I included the following in part:


I am eager to get to know you better and help you along your way to membership in our organization.  Bruce and I consider ourselves to be members of the Chouteau Party, Red River Brigade of the American Mountain Men, not AMM members who happen to live within the boundaries of the Red River Brigade and chum around as part of the Chouteau party.  The old saying of “all politics are local” parallels our thought of loyalty to our party and its members first, then to the brigade [which is a geographic designation only] then to the organization as a whole. The men who sponsor you and the active members of your party, the men you camp, hunt, fish, and recreate with should be the priority over national issues. 

I believe if a person adheres to the Standing Rules and By-laws of our organization, no one can condemn his actions. Those who walk outside of these rules are the ones worthy of condemnation.

Addendum: 6/15/2022 In discussing this topic with some of my closest associates in The American Mountain Men, we found a paragraph in our Standing Rules that seems to add to or even contradict the Pilgrim application. The paragraph follows:

C. Responsibilities of Sponsors

  1. Prospective members shall be deemed by their sponsor(s) to be men who whose
    character, skills, knowledge, experience, and/or commitment make them worthy of joining the American Mountain Men. Sponsor(s) should invite a man to become a Pilgrim only after spending a sufficient amount of time on the ground with him to determine his qualifications.
  2. The task of Pilgrim sponsorship shall be performed entirely by the Pilgrim’s nominator(s) (as nomination is described within the By-Laws). The sponsor(s) shall be responsible for the education and behavior of the Pilgrim throughout his probationary period, ensuring that they understand and abide by the Association Code. (Amended January 24, 2021)
  3. A Bossloper may sponsor no more than one Probationary member at a time. A Hiveranno may sponsor no more than two Probationary members at a time. A Party may sponsor up to 3 Probationary members at a time.
  4. In the case of Party sponsorship, decisions regarding the Probationary member (whether to invite, to advance to Bossloper, etc.) shall be determined by a 2/3 majority vote of the Party members

The relative item here is section #1 including the statement “Sponsor(s) should invite a man to become a Pilgrim only after spending a sufficient amount of time on the ground with him to determine his qualifications.” This means to me, that the “interview IN PERSON” listed on the application form needs to be completed at a primitive camp and not over coffee at a local restaurant. I am glad for this clarification as it puts the applicant and potential sponsors in the natural elements where our association is designed to be. The phrase “sufficient amount of time” is subjective. For one man, that may be one camp. For another, ten camps may not be enough to garner an invitation to join. This is determined solely between the sponsors and prospect. As stated earlier, each party has the right to create their own guidelines for themselves. If a prospect washes out and doesn’t complete his minimum requirements within the two-year probationary period, generally, it is nobody’s fault but his own. His sponsors should re-evaluate the criteria they used to offer an invitation and the amount of guidance they extended to their prospect.

In all, most every man I know in this association is here because they want to study, learn and practice the skills of the early pioneers in the Rocky Mountains. If the desire to be a part of our association is there, a man should have the chance to participate, if not, he should decline the invitation and walk away.

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1849 Colt Baby Dragoon

This .31 caliber handgun was one of the biggest sellers of all time for Colt. This one has been converted from percussion to .32 Smith & Wesson. It is a good shooter and works well. $550.00 + shipping. This is a black powder replica firearm that needs no FFL or other paperwork.

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Armi Sport 1847 Springfield .69 caliber

I am offering my 1847 replica for sale. It is .69 caliber or 14-gauge smooth bore and can be loaded with round ball or shot. This gun is a replica of the gun used by the U.S. Army in Mexico and the stored weapons were issued to the Irish Brigade during the American civil war. $850.00 + shipping.

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Lyman Plains Pistol .54 caliber

This is a stock Lyman .54 caliber Plains Pistol. It is a very accurate pistol! $300 + shipping.

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Pedersoli AN IX Pistol .69 caliber

This is a replica of a French military pistol that was copied by Simeon North for use by the U.S. military. I have stamped U.S. on the side plate to represent this type. I converted it from its original flintlock to use percussion caps. This makes it a much better and more reliable handgun. It is .69 caliber or 14-gauge smooth bore. I have loaded it with a round ball or shot. $450.00 + shipping.

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Leman Indian Trade Rifle .54 caliber

I am offering the Leman trade rifle I built a few years ago. It has a 32″ straight taper barrel with round bottom rifling. The lock has no half cock notch as the originals did not have one. Length of pull = 14″. $850.00 + shipping.

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