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New Member - Old Soul

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32 Cal
Nov 18, 2022
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Portland OR / Mammoth Lakes CA
Hi All - I've been shooting powder for about 47 years now. Started at age 15 when I did a rough build on a cva pistol kit. My parents were worried that I'd blow myself up, and I was sent to meet a highly knowledgeable Jed Smith Mountain Man named Yellow Pig (Jerry) in a log cabin above my hometown of Grants Pass Oregon. Over the next few years, I learned a huge amount from working with my mentor on building guns, knives, sewing beaver & deer, and a bit about blacksmithing from Fiddlin Red Simpson who had his shop there on Yellow Pigs land. I was inspired to build a fine Flintlock rifle with the guidance of my mentor, so I purchased a set of parts at the Jed Smith Rendezvous that year in Grants Pass from another one of Yellow Pig's tribe. Two Feather's was a trader who lived outside of Medford Oregon in either Shaddy Cove or Eagle Point.

The parts were a roughed-in Black Walnut half stock, a 50cal Sharon barrel, a Haddaway lock, Thompson Double Set Triggers, a Breach Plug, and a pile of brass and other fittings to build what was then called an Astorian (which I now understand likely all came from Green River Forge in Springfield OR) They were some of the best parts available at the time, and I think I paid about $200 for the works.

Yellow Pig and I set about grinding, whittling, carving, fitting, setting breech plugs and touch holes, etc. to a point where most of the parts were safely fitted, but the gun was not finished.

Like Little Jackie Paper in Puff the Magic Dragon - I moved away after a season of working on my Flintlicker, to go to the big city and go to college - and left my mountain man tribe behind. Eventually the tribe move up to the Eastern Washington / Canadian Border to form a Mountain Man community there. I have heard the Yellow Pig is now gone, but Fiddlin Red Simpson runs a music in Coeur d'Alene ID.

However, my interest in all things "Mountain Man" never really left me. In the early '80's I bought a Colt Walker and shot it when I could - then in the '90's I bought a mid19th c. 45cal flintlock built on the Pennsylvania pattern (which I still shoot). I was lucky about 30 years ago to find a very rare Remington 1858 31cal percussion gun cane (which I have shot once). Bringing me to my most recent acquisition, and reason for joining the Mountain Man Forum today.....

After sitting in my storeroom for the last 45 years or so gathering dust and rust, I took a look at the half finished Astorian and had pangs of guilt. When my son was born, my mother told me "Congratulations ! - you finally finished a project that you started". Remembering that, and also realizing that I only have a few more decades on the planet if I'm lucky - and knowing that I would never actually finish building the Astorian - I took it unfinished to a fine Black Powder Gunsmith up here in the Portland area - Gerry Cook (Gunsmithing), and asked Gerry to bail me out and finish it up for me.

This week Gerry Cook called - and I picked up my absolutely BEAUTIFUL and perfectly finished Astorian - a project over 45 years in the making - and now complete with a stock as smooth as a baby's butt. The gun is hanging on my wall in front of me as we speak - and I can't tell you the pleasure and nostalgia that I am getting by just looking at it. I can't get to the range for a couple of weeks but you can bet that I will be so full of joy when I touch that hair trigger and hear the distinct pause between the "chick" and the "boom" that you can only get from a Flintlock.

Yellow Pig, whose long rifle was named "Flintlicker" will be smiling from above when he hears the boom - and will be glad to know that I name my Astorian "Flintlicker" in his honor.

Robert Joki
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