Author Topic: The American long hunter  (Read 7226 times)

Offline Einsiedler

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2019, 05:03:50 PM »
Apparenty, General Hand was a fan of .47 calibre. But Secretary Knox had the winning "hand" in favor of .49!

My current personna at all events is "old man”. Appropriate for any time period.

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2019, 05:28:24 PM »
Someone asked "what romance is there in portraying a farmer?"

I have been a farmer full time since 1970, and haven't noticed any romance yet! LOL.

Farmers would likely have a smooth-bore anyway, and yes, ploughs and such would be more important, but the smooth-bore would do if you get shot at.

Offline Bob McBride

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2019, 06:07:54 PM »
Ok, so this is not really a question about caliber, but justifying rifles you already have to a persona you wish to interpret.
The so called "longhunter" encompassed a very short period of time. Even shorter than the fur trapping mountain man. That being said it amuses me that so many want to interpret those types of characters and there were so very few of them. So much easier to be a farmer which is what most colonials did at the time. As a farmer it is easier to justify about any rifle .

A mountain man was a mountain man all his life. Even if he wasn't trapping beaver for a living.

I remember when hunting on the Yukon River in Alaska back in the early eighties we were about 200 miles west of Circle, where we wouldn’t have expected there to be a single human within 100 miles. We were running a flat bottom boat a few hundred yards from the bank and passed a man with a three foot beard leaning up against a tree. He waved and, astonished, we waved back. Thats the sort of feller who who would have trapped beaver when it suited him...

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2019, 06:26:19 PM »
Yes, he sounds like the real deal.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #29 on: July 05, 2019, 03:21:19 AM »
Well’ to my thinking the smaller calibers were primarily farmer calibers. A long hunters prime directive is getting back home. And, the best way to accomplish that is to kill game, and enemies one shot dead, which takes a bigger caliber.
 The farmer had to be at least relatively close to a market. This means there is a town near enough for that, and no doubt other farmers. This means large predators, and large animals that could destroy your crops, would likely have already been hunted out. And shooting small game was a good way to supplement your diet, so a small, or medium, caliber would make more sense.
 
 Hungry Horse

Offline alacran

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2019, 01:58:23 PM »
I suppose everyone has a different image in their minds when they think of the word farmer. Lets see, George Washington was a farmer,
so was Thomas Jefferson. Of course very successful farmers in the South were termed to be planters. Planters like Josiah Bartlett,Charles Carroll, Button Gwinnett, Benjamin Harrison V, Patrick Henry.Thomas Lynch Jr., .Thomas Nelson Jr. Thomas Stone, who were all signers to the Declaration of Independence. So was John Morton who was a farmer from Pennsylvania.  The fictional character in the movie The Patriot, portrayed such a man. An amalgamate of different characters in History. Of course these were very successful men of varied interests.
But most farmers in the Frontier were for the most part subsistence farmers.  The Draper manuscripts describe plenty of farmers who had extensive need of firelocks.  They did not live tranquil lives.
 In 2018 Mr Wallace Gussler, gave a lecture at Martin's Station. He stated that it was common then as now for farmers to have a rifle and a fowler( shotgun).
 I suppose farmers on the Frontier had more chances at Indian fighting than the "Longhunters" did. The farmers were planted on their homesteads , their location and presence known. The "Longhunters" were mobile and probably took pains to mask their presence.
I used farmers as an example of alternative personas. Not to be exclusionary of other occupation of the times. Just that in an agrarian society it would be the most common one.
A man's rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.  Frederick Douglass

Offline Elnathan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #31 on: July 06, 2019, 04:57:05 AM »
George Hanger wrote that they never got bigger than 36 bore (.52); Joseph Doddridge claimed that calibers under 45 bore (.47) were considered too small, and Isaac Weld, writing in the 1790s, gave a range of 30 to 60 bore (.54 to .43). Revolution-era rifles that have come out of European collections, which are unlikely to have been used hard and freshed out often, tend to fall into that .47-.52 caliber range, I believe, with one exception of .42 and two around .60. Of the two large bores, one was at least 14 years old when taken to England (the Schreit rifle dated 1761) and the other (the Lion and Lamb rifle) has been altered considerably for military duty.

I think it entirely possible that some of the big-bored longrifles that have survived were specialist bear or fighting rifles, and may not be good representations of rifles intended for general use. I can't prove it, though. I think it also possible that the occasional references to rifles that shot a "one-ounce ball" may indicate a rifle in the .60s rather than a true 16 bore, but can't prove that either.

Two other observations regarding caliber selection: The Indians did very well with smoothbores in the .55-.60 range, so well that they had managed to severely deplete the deer population by the time the whites starting moving over the mountains, so the weight and cost of ammunition of larger bores doesn't seem to have hurt them much. Second, rifles weighed more than trade guns. A trade gun with a 24 bore barrel and a weight of 6 pounds plus 100 balls will weigh about 10 pounds, and a 9-pound rifle carrying 40 balls to the pound plus 100 balls will come out at around 11 & 1/2 pounds. So while I don't think that the weight of ammunition per se was as significant a problem as some do (particularly given the ubiquity of horses along the frontier among both whites and Indians), I have wondered if the need to keep the weight of everything combined within certain perimeters wasn't a factor after all.

MuskratMike,

If you haven't already got it, look for a copy of My Father Daniel Boone, edited by Neal Hammon. It is a compilation of Nathan Boone's interviews with Lyman Draper concerning the life of his father, and has some good information on longhunting as a business, such as the weight and number of hides one could expect to end up with (about three-quarters of a ton, IIRC), how many horses you needed, etc. Another one to look for is Deerskins and Duffels by Kathryn Braun, which is about the Creek nations' experience as hide hunters, and helps put the longhunters in perspective  - deerskins were the lifeblood of the frontier economy, the white hunters were very few in number compared to HUGE trade that the Indians were conducting, and by that time deer were already beginning to be hunted out, so competition for good hunting grounds was fierce.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline MuskratMike

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #32 on: July 06, 2019, 05:54:49 AM »
To Elnathan:
Wow there has been some great information so far. i will look for both of these books as I am a voracious reader and am trying to absorb as much as I can about our time from the French & Indian war to post revolution era. Thank you for the time you took to write such a thoughtful response.
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline Daryl

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #33 on: July 06, 2019, 07:55:00 PM »
Of course, in 1803, Clark (or was it Lewis) chose a .30 to .32? to take "West".
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2019, 09:25:33 PM »
It was Clark, and and I think it was a .32 or possibly a .36 cal. He mentioned the game that it was not effective on, and the list is quite short. It seems he took most game species with his “small” rifle. Only mentioning it not being effective on buffalo, and the great bear (grizzly).

  Hungry Horse

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2019, 09:40:06 PM »
Another tall tale from the past.

Offline Mike from OK

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #36 on: July 07, 2019, 06:11:32 AM »
It was Clark, and and I think it was a .32 or possibly a .36 cal. He mentioned the game that it was not effective on, and the list is quite short. It seems he took most game species with his “small” rifle. Only mentioning it not being effective on buffalo, and the great bear (grizzly).

  Hungry Horse

Are you talking about the air rifle?

Mike

Offline Daryl

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #37 on: July 07, 2019, 05:32:48 PM »
No - he did take an air rifle, .30 cal. I think - but also a long full stocked small for flinter, which was re-stocked on the journey by their gun smith.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Mike from OK

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #38 on: July 07, 2019, 07:19:04 PM »
Thanks for the clarification Daryl.

I read their journals several years ago and honestly found it difficult to read. I picked the book up in a secondhand store and it was a printed copy of the original text. Interesting to read if you could wade through their horrible grammar and spelling... I would like to find a version that has been edited for clarity so I wouldn't have to read and reread passages trying to discern exactly what they were trying to convey. Lol.

The misspellings were humorous. Not because they misspelled words... But they often misspelled the same word differently every time they used it... I never knew there were so many ways to spell "mosquito."

A version edited for clarity would help retain most of the details of the expedition.

Mike




Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #39 on: July 07, 2019, 07:39:34 PM »
The correct spelling is.........skeeters.

Offline MuskratMike

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #40 on: July 07, 2019, 09:23:03 PM »
I know most of you all have plenty of books on Lewis & Clark but if not just get out your latest volume of MUZZLELOADER magazine and read the fine article on the arms and equipment of the L&C expedition.
Any more thoughts on the original topic?
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline wmrike

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #41 on: July 07, 2019, 09:39:21 PM »
Years ago I cataloged 400-odd original flintlock rifles from published sources.  The average caliber for everything was 0.495.  When I narrowed that down to rifles ascribed to the pre-Revolutionary period and Lancaster Co., assuming Lancaster was somewhat early, the average floats up to 0.515. Pre-Revolutionary-only rifles averaged 0.535.

On a parallel track, a while back I was comparing modern pistol cartridges to modern rifle cartridges.  I noticed that a 44-40, pushing a 200 gr. bullet (not too dissimilar from a 0.50 roundball) out of a rifle has about the same trajectory as a 0.54 RB.  The 44-40 is no dreadnaught.

There is a tendency for people today to used as light equipment as they can (.223 for deer, .410 for grouse, pistols for bear, etc.).  But if you are truly remote from assistance and playing for keeps, the old adage of "carry enough gun" rings true.  I think the sensible vote would be for a minimum of 0.54 cal.

Offline Elnathan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #42 on: July 07, 2019, 11:55:47 PM »
Years ago I cataloged 400-odd original flintlock rifles from published sources.  The average caliber for everything was 0.495.  When I narrowed that down to rifles ascribed to the pre-Revolutionary period and Lancaster Co., assuming Lancaster was somewhat early, the average floats up to 0.515. Pre-Revolutionary-only rifles averaged 0.535.

The problem is that we don't know how many of those rifles were repeatedly freshed out until they weren't considered worth the expense of re-working, or how many of them were rebored and re-rifled to make shooters out of them back in the earlier 20th century before reproductions were commonly available. The point of narrowing the sample size to guns out of European collections is that they appear to have been Rev-war trophies that were taken back and preserved, at least as far as bore size, as they were when more or less new.

I used to believe that pre-Rev rifles were almost all .50 or above until I started looking at those well-preserved rifles with known histories and realized that not only were sub-.50 calibers common, the ranges shown matched period accounts pretty well. It is one of the few areas where I think that the really early researchers, Dillon and the like, actually got it about right -  the American rifles were distinctively smaller in the bore than were European rifles.


Quote
There is a tendency for people today to used as light equipment as they can (.223 for deer, .410 for grouse, pistols for bear, etc.).  But if you are truly remote from assistance and playing for keeps, the old adage of "carry enough gun" rings true.  I think the sensible vote would be for a minimum of 0.54 cal.

My impression is exactly the opposite -  previous generations well into the 20th century were quite happy with calibers and cartridges that are now considered marginally adequate. They didn't have a gun industry that needed to market their latest Ripper-Claw Xtra-Maim bullet to keep abreast of the competition, didn't have hunting ethics that stressed an instantaneous kill (see Meshach Browning, for example), didn't have modern regulations limiting the tactics they could use (running deer with dogs, jacklighting, etc), and had a lot more familiarity with the outdoors, tracking and wildlife behavior, and their firearms than the average hunter today.

I've seen serious arguments that .30-30 is too light for whitetails, and we are all familiar with the belief that roundballs can't kill anything cleanly. Both statements would have been considered preposterous to the generations that used them quite effectively. I think it was sometime after World War II that hunters got magnumitis, as I've read older books commenting on the phenomenon.

On a more general note:

1) Longhunters WERE farmers who were hunting as a side-gig during the off-season. As far as I know, they were not professional, full-time hunters. Boone's year-plus hunt was as long as it was because it was a disaster and he was trying to salvage something from the ruins.

2) The longhunting period was during a long stretch of peace, and while the longhunters were trespassing and poaching, they could reasonably expect not to have to engage in a serious fight. As a matter of fact, the Shawnee and Cherokee do seem to have been pretty lenient when they caught up with Boone's party. Perhaps we are in danger of overemphasizing the possibility of getting into a shooting scrape while out killing deer.

3) Putting together the necessary supplies for a long hunt was costly, and it WAS possible to borrow money to do so. As a matter of fact virtually everyone, both white and Indian, was already in debt and looking to get out, which was probably one of the motivations for doing a long hunt in the first place (and, while I've never seen it mentioned anywhere, the probability of pre-existing debt and debt incurred for the expedition itself also explains why Boone was so desperate to salvage something from the wreck of his venture). Longhunters could have acquired whatever guns they needed, if they didn't already have them.

4) There is a story going around that Boone used a 16-bore while out in Kentucky, but I don't know the source. It isn't from the Nathan Boone interviews, for sure.

Edited to add:

Another good reason to be careful using averages of surviving rifles is that the published caliber measurements may not be accurate. I've seen a number of instances where re-examination gives a different number than older published works, and the bore size always seems to go down, not up. A lot of this is because rifles are often coned or funneled at the muzzle, so measurements taken right at the muzzle are a little oversized. Also, Shumway did his examinations and photographs in a room that was poorly lit, according to the people who were around at the time, so he missed some things from time to time, like rifling in "smoothbores" that ended before the muzzle. Measuring caliber is a rather more difficult endeavor than one might expect, too, and I think that people tend to overestimate a bit.

I'd subtract about .02" from any average based on Shumway and Kindig, at a guess.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 12:21:35 AM by Elnathan »
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline rich pierce

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #43 on: July 08, 2019, 05:31:16 AM »
Good post above. Agree barrels should be measured for bore at least 2” down from the muzzle.
Andover, Vermont

Offline James Rogers

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2019, 04:18:42 PM »
Good post above. Agree barrels should be measured for bore at least 2” down from the muzzle.

I would add that should include smooth bored barrels as well.. Many in the period had relieved muzzles from their creation. 

Offline thecapgunkid

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #45 on: August 16, 2019, 03:59:44 PM »
Bob in the Woods...The problem with your question is that the time span is too great. 

Bingo

The correct answer based on that is whatever folks wanted to shoot with.  Keep in mind, also, that the Kindig and Shumway books only show what survived.  Documenting is always good, but realize that research never ends.

Offline Daryl

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #46 on: August 17, 2019, 06:45:42 PM »
Someone asked "what romance is there in portraying a farmer?"
I have been a farmer full time since 1970, and haven't noticed any romance yet! LOL.

and getting a new partner at this stage of the game is too expensive?
just kidding Richard ;D
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Brokennock

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #47 on: August 18, 2019, 04:01:03 AM »
Ok, so this is not really a question about caliber, but justifying rifles you already have to a persona you wish to interpret.
The so called "longhunter" encompassed a very short period of time. Even shorter than the fur trapping mountain man. That being said it amuses me that so many want to interpret those types of characters and there were so very few of them. So much easier to be a farmer which is what most colonials did at the time. As a farmer it is easier to justify about any rifle .

I could be wrong but, I think the amount discussions of "longhunter," portrayal, and the kit that goes with it, is overly high, not because so many people want to portray a "longhunter," but, because it has become a generic catch all term for far too many people. They say, "what should I carry for my longhunter portrayal?" But the time period they want to do is wrong, or the geographic area is wrong. What they really mean is a frontiersman, some other market hunter, a scout, or some other type of woods running individual.

As you point out the "longhunter," period was very short. The geographic area they worked was pretty specific. And, the number of them very small compared to the overall population.

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #48 on: August 19, 2019, 03:42:45 PM »
How long do you have to be out to be considered a long hunter?

Would a mountain man in the 19th century who supplied a fort with meat be considered a long hunter? I don't think the game close to the fort would last long and he would have to travel some distance to get game.

Offline Daryl

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Re: The American long hunter
« Reply #49 on: August 19, 2019, 08:10:38 PM »
Thanks for the clarification Daryl.

I read their journals several years ago and honestly found it difficult to read. I picked the book up in a secondhand store and it was a printed copy of the original text. Interesting to read if you could wade through their horrible grammar and spelling... I would like to find a version that has been edited for clarity so I wouldn't have to read and reread passages trying to discern exactly what they were trying to convey. Lol.

The misspellings were humorous. Not because they misspelled words... But they often misspelled the same word differently every time they used it... I never knew there were so many ways to spell "mosquito."

A version edited for clarity would help retain most of the details of the expedition.

Mike

Mike- the books I had were 2 volumes, supposedly condensed to remove the boring parts. It was still plenty boring, but I'm glad I read it. now, if I could get them back from the guy I loaded
them to, that would be great. - about 1991 or 2, I think it might have been.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V