Monday, December 28, 2009


Went duck hunting with Justin and Jacob first thing this morning. We saw a few mallards, and had 4 come close enough to shoot at. I knocked one down, but it got away. It went down out of sight behind some brush, and must have either flown away or dove under the sheet ice. I let both dogs search for it, but they came up empty despite looking for about 15 minutes in the water and on shore. They both have good noses, especially Kate, but they couldn't ever find a track on this duck.

Had a good Christmas with family.

Though the office is officially closed this week, Linda and I are doing some work, trying not to get behind.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, December 24, 2009

January/February 2010

The Jan/Feb issue is on the way! I received a phone call a little bit ago that the magazines were all labeled and bagged and on the way to the post office. Now if we only had Santa delivering them, you would all get them tonight. But since we couldn't get Santa to deliver them for all of you grown up boys and girls, you can just watch your mailbox for the next week or two.

All of the presents are wrapped and under the tree. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DeCamp Loading Block

Art DeCamp donated one of these blocks to the auction for the CLA in 2007. Since I had seen the photo of it while preparing the July/August 07 issue, I emailed Art about getting one. He replied that he would have one for me at the show. Sure enough, after we got set up, Art came over and handed me one. This block is made from walnut and has a horn inlay at the top.

Art is a founding member of the Honourable Company of Horners and a terrific powder horn craftsman. He is also quite active in many associations promoting our sport/hobby/lifestyle.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jan/Feb 2010 Preview

Here's a preview of the Jan/Feb 2010 cover. It's a painting by David Wright entitled Long Way from Home. As usual, it's a superb piece and causes me to reflect on some of my feelings through the years when I've been out on hunts and treks for several days. The J/F issue is printing now and should be mailed before Christmas. As usual, there's a lot of good stuff in it; some new guns that most of you haven't seen, a neat piece on Cherokee warriors, lots of history, hunting and how-to. I hope you enjoy it when it comes.

Bill Scurlock

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pete Hutton Horn

Here's a horn by Pete Hutton from 8 or 10 years ago. I got it at the CLA show. Pete makes really nice horns and pouches. His wife, Pam, makes nice woven straps for horns and bags and such. They're very nice folks, and I always enjoy seeing them. This horn measures about 17 inches around the outside curve.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Antique Eyeglasses

These glasses are one of my most fortuitous antique store finds. In 2005 I went to Dixon's Gunmakers Fair with Buford Blanton. One evening, we went up the road to eat at an old tavern. When we came out, we noticed that the antique store across the road was still open, so we crossed over and went in. I spied these glasses in a display case and asked Buford (an antique expert) what he thought. He said they looked good, but we didn't know the price. When I got a chance to ask the price, the owner said $20. I glanced across the store at Buford, and he was mouthing, "buy it." He didn't really have to tell me that, because I was already reaching for my wallet. Besides looking good and being in very good shape, they also have close to the right magnification for my eyes, so I can use them in period character.

I found the nice case at the Fort Frederick Market Fair a couple of years later. Mr. White at Avalon Forge had it and just gave it it me, though I tried to pay him.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roland Cadle Horn

Roland Cadle, from Pennsylvania, made this horn for me several years ago. Roland is a founding member of the Honorable Company of Horners and a master horner. He also tears down and rebuilds historic log and wood structures, as well as builds new log structures in the fashion and style of the 18th and 19th century.

This horn has a stained decoration not uncommon to Pennsylvania horns made for the trade. I believe that the pigment is iron oxide, but I may not remember that correctly. The horn measures about 14 inches around the outside curve.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, December 14, 2009

Primer Safety

A friend and long-time muzzleloader,Troy Roope, recently had an accident while testing a flintlock. He primed the lock with a brass priming flask and flashed the pan while still holding the flask. A spark got inside the flask, and it became a miniature pipe bomb. There was no pressure relief built into the flask. He ended up losing his index finger and half of a thumb. Troy told me that he just got dumb for two seconds, and it has cost him. He plans to write up a full report of the accident for publication in MUZZLELOADER and hopes that it will be a lesson for new shooters and old ones who may become complacent in their safety practices. Pray for Troy and Shannon. And keep your powder horns and flasks away from sparks.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deer Hunting Last Weekend

Well, so much for holding out for a big one with my last Arkansas tag. I ended up shooting a unicorn on Saturday evening right before dark. It only had one horn. The other had broken off at some point. And, the horn that was left was less than 2 inches long, so it qualified as a button buck. I thought I was shooting at a nice young doe. I couldn't see the horn.

I was actually finished hunting for the day and was walking back to the cabin. As I was walking past a nice green food plot with just a minor screen of trees between me and the plot, I saw 3 or 4 deer feeding about 50-60 yards away. I just stood there and watched them. I knew that I couldn't see my sights well enough to shoot at that range. As I watched, something spooked them and they started running down hill, straight at me. I thought that the one that I shot was going to pass the big pine tree in front of me and run me down. So, I cocked and shouldered my firelock. Just before getting to the tree, the little buck stopped and turned broadside, looking back up hill. It was a 10-yard shot that I couldn't pass up.

The ball went in behind the last rib and exited through the sternum. He dropped in his tracks and only quivered once. That's good since I didn't want to track in the dark. Of course, then the work started, but I had help at the camp, so we made quick work of it.

That's my last tag for this year in Arkansas. Any more deer hunting this season will be in Texas, and with muzzleloader season following the regular season, I can hunt with my firelock in Texas until about the middle of January.

Sorry I didn't get a photo of this one. I accidentally left my camera at the office last Friday. I was using the same Mark Thomas rifle, so its record is now 7 deer in 7 shots, plus a deer I batted clean-up on for my brother-in-law.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, December 7, 2009

Webster_Lodding Pouch

This pouch was made by Shawn Webster and Steve Lodding and was reviewed in the Sept/Oct 2001 issue. Shawn and Steve made a variety of pouches suitable for the mountain man era. Many were based on A.J. Miller's sketches and paintings. This one is edged in trade beads. Others that they made at the time had some quillwork. Great bags, historically documented. Both of these guys are multi-talented and come to the CLA show each year with all manner of handmade items.

Remember Pearl Harbor!

Bill Scurlock

Friday, December 4, 2009

Antique Powder Horn

My father-in-law found this horn in a junk shop and bought it along with a replica cap & ball pistol of other stuff. It is a neat horn, measuring about 11-1/2 inches around the outside curve. The dates on it are strange. There is a 1741, but the horn is almost certainly not that old. There's also a date of 1807 that is more believable as the horn's actual age. An interesting Indian head is carved on one side. Stylistically, it seems more recent than the dates. All three engraved features appear to be in a different hand, but they made all have been carved during the working life of the horn. There are 14 iron tacks securing the base plug. There's a flat-headed wood screw holding an old piece of leather to the plug, but the wood screw is not as old as the horn.

Comments are welcome.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don Wright Canvas Pouch

Don Wright had several of these pouches at the first Mid-America Rendezvous in 1980. Several of the guys from down here bought them. They were made of white canvas and red wool, and each was hand painted with different art. I carried this one for years, as you can tell from the stains. These were really cool for 1980. It now hangs on a pegboard in the hallway at the office.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Early 80s Pouches

Just showing a little history here. I made these pouches back in the early 1980s. Not exactly the type I would make today. The one on the left was made for my goodwife,Linda, to go with the rifle I made her. It's made from blacksmith side leather with wool inserts. The one on the right was made for my mom.I made the horn too. Not bad workmanship, but very naive as far as appropriate materials and techniques.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hunting with the Boys

Justin and Jacob were in town for Thanksgiving and the weekend. Had 2 Thanksgiving meals with two sides of the family, one Thursday and one Friday. Saturday was our big hunting and shooting day. We went duck hunting Saturday morning and got three mallards. That was enough to call it a good hunt. We only saw about 8 or 10 total. Not very many down here yet.

The photo shows Justin on the left and Jacob on the right. In front of them are Juno (left) and Kate. It wasn't a muzzleloading hunt, but that's OK. I don't even have enough smoothbore flintlocks to outfit all three of us. The main thing is that they love to duck hunt, and I get to take them. This place is a beaver pond and deadening a few miles north of De Kalb, Texas. De Kalb is a fairly early town in this part of Texas. In the first half of the 19th century, one traveler into Texas noted in her journal that De Kalb should be more appropriately named "De Cabin" because so many of the houses were rough log cabins. She was not impressed.

Saturday afternoon we took a couple of friends with us out to shoot clays. Shot up a box of clays and had a ball.

The boys are back at school now and we're looking forward to more shooting, hunting and camping over Christmas break.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Deer Hunting

Got up early today and drove to the cabin at the hunt camp. I had left a couple of things over there that I needed. Since I was there, I eased around in the woods for a couple of hours. The squirrels were everywhere.

I slipped up on a little 6 point buck in the hardwood bottom. He gave me plenty of shot opportunities at 25 to 50 yards, but if I'm shooting a buck, I'm holding out for a bigger one. Right after him I saw two bigger bucks, but they were heading the opposite direction. They never blew or flagged, so I'm not sure if they knew I was there or were just traveling. Didn't get a good look at them, but could see horns on both through the trees.

Would have like to have stayed all day, but there are too many things to do, like the Jan/Feb issue.

Bill Scurlock

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Deer Hunting

Went to the deer camp in South Arkansas last weekend and hunted with my flintlock rifle. I should have hunted with my camera. Could have gotten a nice shot of a one-horn spike at about 20 yards. He walked down the hill off my left shoulder and didn't see me sitting under a sweetgum tree until he got right in front of me at 20 yards and stopped broadside. He did one of those big-eared, wide-eyed double takes at me. Then he did the head bobs and the foot stomping before he walked off to the south. He was one of ten deer I saw Saturday, but since I only have one tag left, I'm saving it for a nice buck or a big doe later in the season. Even if I had wanted to shoot, a spike is not legal game in Arkansas.

I was kinda expecting to see more bucks, but nobody saw many. Mostly just saw does, fawns and a few small bucks. One guy saw an 8-point that he has seen before. Not a bad deer, but pretty much like one he already shot this year. Another guy shot and grazed a doe with his first shot at a deer with a flintlock. The set trigger surprised him, and he wasn't quite on target when it went off. I found some very short white hair where the deer had been standing, and never found any blood. We concluded that he must have just touched the brisket, shaving off the short hair.

See ya,
Bill Scurlock

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mike Small Horn

This is the horn I carry with the Hudson-made pouch. The combination just feels right. This horn was reviewed in "Prime Possibles" in the July/Aug 2007 issue. I bought it that year at the Fort Frederick Trade Fair. Mike is a member of the Horners' Guild, and excellent craftsman and a nice guy.

I tried to show Mike's touchmark in the lower photo, but it might be hard to see because of the coloration of the horn. It's a capital M and a backwards S and the year he made it, 06.

Bill Scurlock

Friday, November 20, 2009

Greg Hudson Pouch

This pouch was reviewed in "Prime Possibles" in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue. I bought it from him at Mansker's in May of that year. This is the pouch I'm usually carrying these days. It's made of vegetable tanned leather and sewn with linen thread.

I hope to get some more deer hunting in this weekend.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bill Keeler Axe

I got this belt axe from Bill Keeler several years ago at the CLA show. I think I reviewed it in "Prime Possibles" back then, but can't find the review. Anyhow, I've been carrying this axe for several years, and it's a good one.

We have a break today and tomorrow on the presentations to school kids. We'll do another one on Monday next week. I took my 2 labs out to look for ducks this morning before work. Only saw 5 or 6 wood ducks in the little creek bottom we were hunting, and they just flew by out of range. Not many ducks down in this country yet. At least my pups got a good run through the shallow water and the pasture after the hunt.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Kids' Presentation 2

Here are a couple of pictures from the presentations yesterday. The first is Mom & Dad talking about and playing old time mountain music with a dulcimer and a tub base.

The second is me and Dad back in the barn after the kids left.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, November 16, 2009

School Kids' Presentation

Most mornings this week I will be making presentations to elementary school kids. This makes about the fifth year in a row that I have done presentations every day for a week or more in November. A lady who owns a small farm nearby puts together several "stations" of presenters who do show and tell on different aspects of early American life. The groups rotate through each station for about an hour and a half. Today was three groups of about 25 kids each. Tomorrow will be six groups.

I dress in my longhunter garb, talk about a hunter's life in the wilderness, load and shoot my flintlock, talk about general gun safety and start a fire with flint & steel. The kids love it.

Since it's not an isolated farm, I have to shoot blank charges. To simulate the loading of a patched round ball, I make round balls out of aluminum foil. Just roll up balls by hand, patch them and put them in my loading block. It looks like I'm loading the real thing, but when it shoots, the fake balls just unravel in the air about 20 feet from the muzzle. It's realistic and safe. I always pick the foil up off of the ground after the kids leave.

Bill Scurlock

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clay Smith Pouch

I bought this pouch from Clay Smith in 2008 at Fort Frederick. It was reviewed in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue. It's 7-3/4" at its widest point and 6" tall.

Clay makes guns, knives, lanterns, pouches and many other items. All of the items that he makes have the right look and feel.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal 2009

I reviewed this book in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue. This is the third volume in this annual series. The quality of the research and the quality of the book make this an excellent buy for those interested in the Rocky Mountain fur trade.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Great Gunmakers for the Early West

Mike Nesbitt reviewed these books in "For the Bookshelf" in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue. Though I haven't seen the books in person, Mike's description sounds good.

Bill Scurlock

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Proud Horn

I'm been an admirer and John Proud's horn work for many years. John is a charter member of the Honorable Company of Horners. A few years ago, my friend Buford ended up with two of John's horns that were almost identical. When he asked if I wanted one, I bought this one. The horn's body is translucent, and the black applied horn rings really look good.

Bill Scurlock

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bob Harn Phone Number

Any of you thinking of calling Bob Harn about his folding knives will have a hard time getting through using the number we printed in the Nov/Dec issue. I transposed 2 of the numbers in the area code. The correct number is 941-488-3418. Sorry guys.

Bill Scurlock

Mike Taylor Bust

Linda and I have admired Mike Taylor's artistic work ever since meeting him at Mansker's Trade Fair a number of years ago. One thing that always caught our eye was the wooden busts that he carved and painted. The photos in this format just don't capture the intensity of the art that you see in person. Nonetheless, it's still impressive.

Mike came down to Mansker's from his home in Cincinnati for several years. I bought this one for Linda from him at the CLA Show about three years ago. We have always intended to "dress him out" in trade silver, but have somehow not gotten around to it.

Bill Scurlock

Friday, November 6, 2009

Track of the Wolf Dags

Here's a color picture of the Track of the Wolf dagger that was reviewed by Mike Nesbitt in Prime Possibles in the Nov/Dec issue.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Micheal Lea & Daughter Aquafortis

I reviewed Mike Lea's aquafortis in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue. Here's a picture of the aquafortis and the powder horn that I stained with it. Works great on gunstocks too.

Bill Scurlock

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mike Ameling Strikers

Sad news. I just heard yesterday, from two different sources,that Mike Ameling passed away in his sleep a couple of weeks ago. His fire steels are in the Prime Possibles in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue.

By all accounts, his passing was totally unexpected. He was a talented blacksmith and will be missed by all who knew him.

Bill Scurlock

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Larry Callahan Bag Mold

As reviewed in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue, here's the steel bag mold made by Larry Callahan of Missouri. You can see part of the size numbers stamped near the sprue cutter. It works very well and is a good representation of 18th and 19th century molds.

Bill Scurlock

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bob Harn Knife

I showed this knife before, but since it's being published in a Prime Possibles review in the Nov/Dec issue, I'll show it again with a detail shot of Bob's signature on the spine of the knife and the decorative file work along the back. It's truly a beautiful piece.

The Nov/Dec issue was a couple of days late going to the post office because of a computer software glitch on the address labels and the bag tags for the postal service. We thought the mailing was done, until the error was discovered at our local post office. So, the mailing had to be redone. You should be receiving the latest issue within the next week or two.

Bill Scurlock

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don Wright Pocket Horn

I used to call these priming horns, but since I now think that a separate horn for a finer priming powder is not an 18th century concept, I call small horns like this pocket horns. I think they were carried in the waistcoat pocket for day hunts. On a day hunt, there's no need for a pouch full of stuff. Just put a small horn in your pocket, a few patches and balls, or a loading block, maybe an extra flint or some caps, and head to the woods. I still carry a pouch and horn, but I can see the merits of simplifying and cutting down on the weight.

Don Wright made this horn in 1979. I think Dad bought it off Don's trade blanket, probably at the first Mid-America Rendezvous. It's 7-1/2 inches around the curve, and the base plug is about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.

Bill Scurlock