A GIFT PISTOL– Part 2 of 3

Laying, looking straight up the tree, his memory returned, dreamlike, to 1871 when working as a hunter with the Hayden Expedition in the Yellowstone country he had gotten lost in a sudden snow storm. On foot, he had wandered for days without food. Tired, cold, and hungry he was laying down out of the wind next to a log in a snowless spot under a snow laden spruce. Suddenly he heard a twig snap. Peeking over the log he spotted a coyote sniffing out a blowdown just 5 yards away. The song dog, intent on his search for a meal, never saw the man. With eyes fixed on the unsuspecting coyote, Tex’s cold fingers found the gift pistol tucked in his belt. Mustering up the strength to hold the gun steady across the log he made the all-important shot – the coyote fell!

A few days later, safely back at the expedition camp; he was laughingly called the “coyote eater”. Deep inside he knew the gift pistol had once again made the difference.

“Coyote eater”, a grin came across his bloody face, “I thought it was rather good.” Then his thoughts returned to the present.

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A GIFT PISTOL – Part 1 of 3

His mind seemed to be racing in circles. “This monster on me — it’s not moving — it must be dead!” Bent, twisted, and lying part of the way under 450 pounds of muscle and hair, Tex freed his right arm. Slowly he wiped the dark red ooze from his mangled face.

His flickering thoughts told him that the sulfur smell still lingering in the cool Alaskan air meant the Colt “Forty-Niner” had done its job. “Where’s my pistol,” he mumbled as he slowly felt around his right side. Suddenly his hand felt the smooth walnut grip. A slight grin passed on the pain-numbed face. “There you are little friend, looks like you’re gonna be with me to the end,” he said as his trembling hand gripped the familiar pistol.

Pulling the old handgun closer to his body, Tex’s mind slipped into the past.
He could never forget that special day. It was his seventeenth birthday. His dad had just returned home from the Civil War and had given him his first real gun, a genuine Colt – a model 1849 pocket revolver. There were several things that made this revolver special to Tex. Its model number was the same year as he was born; his dad had taken it from a captured Union officer and this alone made it a conversation piece, but more important, the gift pistol implied he was a man. He could drive the longhorns “up North” with the other men.

On that drive the “Forty-Niner”, as he fondly called his pistol, spoke only two times, but those two times saved his young life. Trying to bring in a half wild longhorn, Tex’s horse was suddenly turned upon by the heavy horned bull; horse and rider were sent sprawling. Tex could taste the dirt as he pulled the pistol and sent two .31 caliber lead balls into the forehead of the enraged bull.

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Learning to control fire was one of early man’s most important accomplishments. He found that by being able to create fire he could keep warn, light the darkness, clear land, make tools, cook food and use it as protection from predators.

Researchers are not sure if the first fire-making was the result of discovering that a spark could be generated by friction, such as a hand drill, bow drill or fire plow, or if it was discovered that a spark could be generated when the sharp edge of a hard rock when struck against iron pyrite rocks. What we do know is that when fire-making was mastered it quickly became a part of man’s daily routine.

Fast forward to the Iron Age and the discovery that the sharp edge of a hard stone such as flint, jasper, obsidian or quartzite when struck against high carbon steel produced sparks faster and easier than all previous methods of fire-starting. The flint and steel kit became a part of history from then until the discovery of friction matches in the middle 1800’s. Slowly in the early 1900’s as friction matches were improved, flint & steel kits started disappearing from home hearths, woodsmen pouches and trappers cabins.

Flint and Steel
Flint and Steel

However flint & steel kits didn’t entirely disappear. Even today many woodsmen, re-enactors, and survivalists use flint & steel kits, such as those made by Vern’s Flint & Steel (http://www.vernsflintandsteel.net) , much as it was done in the frontier days of early America.

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For over four decades I have depended upon the Schrade Model 125OT knife for most of my guiding and outdoor writing adventures. My first 125OT was given to me by Henry Baer of the Schrade Walden Cutlery Co. back in the late 60’s with the challenge to try it as my knife while guiding big game hunters. He felt sure I would like it. I gave the USA made folding knife a lot of hard use and it became my knife of choice for much of my career. Made from 1095 high carbon steel, the 4-inch clip point blade held an edge well and was quick and easy to sharpen in the field.

Recently I decided I wanted a high quality all-purpose hunting/fishing/camp fixed blade knife that had a high carbon steel blade design similar to the 125OT. My woods roaming buddy, Medrick Northrop, wanted one also, so we began a search to find a forge that could produce such a knife.

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