(. . . . and Watching)
The following books have great information about getting started and getting more involved in buckskinning. Books are a great way to learn more about the hobby and get ideas for projects and crafts for the in-between times when you are off the trail.
Buckskins and Black Powder – A Mountain Man’s Guide to Muzzleloading, Ken Grissom. This is one of the best books a new pilgrim could read on getting started in buckskinning. It details all of the aspects of the primitive camp, what to bring, how to dress, etc. I just can’t say enough good things about this book. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but copies show up every now and then on eBay – http://www.ebay.com.
The Book of Buckskinning, William H. Scurlock, ed. – There are eight different volumes in this series, each one has in-depth, informative articles about many different subjects pertaining to Buckskinning. They are all great resources, but for the beginning ‘skinner, The Book of Buckskinning Volume 1 is indespensible. They are available through Scurlock Press – http://www.muzzleloadermag.com.
The Mountain Men – The Dramatic History and Lore of the First Frontiersmen, George Laycock. A very good history of the mountain men. It is written in a very easy-to-read style that makes it more engaging than most history books.
Videos and Movies
Admittedly, not every film that depicts mountain men or fur-trappers is historically accurate, but the following films have some good elements and/or accurate depictions of their respective time periods.
The Last of the Mohicans – The more recent, Michael Mann version. For anyone interested in the French and Indian War period (c. 1750s) this film does a great job of depicting the period – both with dress and arms. Native Americans, French courier de bois, and American longhunters are all shown in detail. Great movie as well.
The Patriot – Great depictions of American and British soldiers during the time of the Revolutionary War (c. 1776-1781). Mel Gibson’s band of guerillas are great models for the citizen-soldiers of this time period.
The Mountain Men – An obscure film from the late 70’s, this movie features Charlton Heston and Brian Keith as a pair of beaver-trapping mountain men towards the end of the Rendezvous period. Though their portrayal of Native Americans leaves something to be desired, it is one of the few movies that shows a depiction of Rendezvous life (c. 1840).
Jeremiah Johnson – Loosely based on the life of famed mountain man, “Liver-Eatin’ Johnson,” Jeremiah Johnson is a neat view of a greenhorn as he leaves the Big City to join the Western Fur Trade (c. 1830-1840). Great movie.
Man in the Wilderness – Based on the real-life accounts of mountain man Hugh Glass, Richard Harris gives a great performance as the mountain man left for dead after an attack from a grizzly bear. He survives both bear and indians to make it back to his party of hunters (c. 1823). Good stuff.