Chris Denmon’s interest in the primitive, mountain-man lifestyle emanated from, of all things, television.
The Noxen resident is a board member with the Endless Mountains Primitive Outdoorsmen, a group that recreates the customs of fur trappers and mountain men from the period of 1800 to 1840. The group holds events throughout the year where members dress according to the period, complete with buckskins, long wool capotes (a French word for “long coat”) and fur hats. They shoot muzzleloaders, throw tomahawks, sleep in tents and cook their meals in an iron skillet.
So how did Denmon become interested in the ‘old ways?’
“It’s from watching the movie ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ too many times when I was a kid,” he said.
While members of the Endless Mountains Primitive Outdoorsmen enjoy replicating the mountain-man era, they also like educating others about the historical period.
On Feb. 10, they will hold an Endless Mountain Winter Rifle Frolic, complete with a woods walk shooting course, paper target, and tomahawk throwing competitions. Staying true to the time period, all shooting competitions will be with muzzleloaders only, and extra points are awarded to those who dress authentic to the mountain-man era.
The frolic was first held last year, Denmon said, and more than 50 shooters participated. He’s hoping for a better turnout this year in both competitors and in those simply interested in seeing what the mountain-man lifestyle is all about.
“The old fur trapping days always fascinated me and it’s actually relaxing to relive those old ways,” Denmon said, adding that the education element is just as important as the competition. Members of the group will be dressed in traditional mountain-man attire and are eager to explain what they’re wearing. There will even be an instructional muzzleloader shoot for kids who have never shot a ‘smokepole.’
“The kids really enjoy doing that. They like to see the smoke,” Denmon said. “We’ll guide them through every aspect of loading and shooting a muzzleloader.
“It’s kind of a way for kids to be like Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone.”
Nick Superko, secretary of the Endless Mountains Primitive Outdoorsmen, said the goal of the frolic, as well as other events the groups holds, is to preserve, recreate and educate the public about the traditions and customs of early America. The frolic focuses more on the shooting aspect of the mountain-man era, he said.
“We have plenty of people there that can answer questions about anything,” Superko said. “At last year’s event, we had a person ask for tips on building a muzzleloader. We have loads of experts on that.”
Also, the shoots and tomahawk competitions are open to the public as well and competitors don’t have to be dressed according to the mountain-man era. The only stipulation, Denmon said, is that a muzzleloader — flintlock or percussion — is used. Denmon uses an Isaac Haynes Lancaster-style .45 caliber long rifle that he built himself.
“The frolic actually started as a biathlon years ago where the events were timed and competitors wore snowshoes,” said Denmon, who is also one of three National Rifle Association-certified range officers that will be at the frolic. “With the frolic, anyone can compete and learn more about the history of the old fur trappers.”