The heart and soul of a trail camp.
Kentucky Hunter’s Pouch –
Few words are needed to show this project. It is a Kentucky Hunter style pouch of a style popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in America. Its antecedents come from Britain and mainland Europe but changed with the times as North America was colonized.
In the days before the common man had trouser pockets he still had a fair few things to carry, especially while out foraging in the forest. Men and women have carried some sort of bag to hold their essentials for as long as we have supplemented our inadequate selves with tools. Things such as food, fire making supplies, sewing kit, or ammunition.
The poor man’s hunting pouch is essentially a single pocket bag with one or more internal pockets to separate out the smaller items.
I chose some bark tanned elk from Joe Brandl as it is sturdy but with a very soft feel.
When using real linen, I often soak it overnight in a hot cup of tea before drying and waxing. This gives a nice reddish-brown color.
The body is sewn with a welt to create a tight seam and edging is added to stiffen the pocket and flap.
The inside pocket makes small items accessible that might otherwise be lost in the bottom of the bag. When shooting black powder, this pocket is a must.
People have been adding fringe, ruffles, and other decorations to seams and edges for as long as there have been makers.
This type of bag is designed to stay closed without any fastener but it is good to have a way to really secure the flap when traveling. This simple closure is a type that I like for a rustic bag. The toggle is carved from antler and is secured by a simple loop.
Finally, a shoulder strap is added. This one is 7 oz. veg tanned cowhide and adjusts by more than 12 inches. This will accommodate most people but more importantly will adjust with the seasons as heavier or lighter clothes are worn. The buckle is solid brass and will never rust.
This bag and others are available in my Etsy shop linked here:
“My ceiling the sky, my carpet the grass, my music the lowing of herds as they pass;
my books are the brooks, my sermons the stones, my parson’s a wolf on a pulpit of bones.”
— Allen McCanless (cowboy poet), 1885
In my internet sleuthing I have gathered literally thousands of images, plans, and patterns of things I would like to make or have for reference. Government documents, like the scans below, are invaluable resources for the maker when they are made public. Who would know how to better and more efficiently make a pair of riding gloves than the U.S. Cavalry. This design is the culmination of more than 110 years in the business.
I hope to get around to making a pair soon myself but please let me know if you have any success when you try these. Thanks for reading and please click “Like” or leave a comment if you have one.
It isn’t cheap to find good saddle bags these days but excellent ones can still be made with a little time and dedication. The U.S. Army M-1924 model is the culmination of a century of design improvements and feedback from real field use. This model, in one form or another, saw service across the West, through multiple wars, the staking of trails and the migration of a people across a continent. Being a government contract item the design specifications are readily available through the General Services Administration.
The plans are printable and can be scaled or drafted into patterns to transfer to appropriate leather; latigo or veg tanned. Click the image for a full-screen version. Clicking again should provide oversized, printable versions for easy use and reading.
Even if you don’t own a horse, this design works well equally on a motorcycle or scooter and add a touch of class in any case. Mine ride on a Vespa Super Sport. I’ll share the Quartermaster version when I get them loaded.
A little cowboy movie music isn’t a bad thing. Hollywood has produced some good music with the vast resources it has at its disposal. Here is a link to My Rifle, My Pony, and Me / June Apple from the film Rio Bravo (the hot links will take you to lyrics).
If you know the Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin movie The Three Amigos (a family favorite around here) the first song reminds me of their homage tune Blue Shadows on the Trail. Take your mind away from work stress, cowboy up, pick up the guitar, and dream of a life on the trails in the Old West.
I should say it’s Classic Banjo Time.
The modern banjo has ancient roots and shares much with it’s African antecedents. Its connection to the lute family along with the whole array of drum-headed cousins crossed many lost cultural boundaries in ancient times. This makes it the perfect candidate for bridging musical genres and styles, from the Sub-Saharan and Arabic music the banjo, with it’s almost ever-present drone string, morphed into creature we know today. Most non-players only know it from the post-war music known as Bluegrass or maybe even Old-Time Country but there is, and always has been, a broad range of music brought to life on this bright and varied instrument.
I read somewhere long ago the real instrument of the American Cowboy was the banjo due, in part, to the timing and population of the very people who became cowboys. Forget the 1950s movie stereotype, most cowboys were freed slaves, their offspring, or poor younger sons of Euro-Americans looking for a job and adventure. Those who were not were likely caballeros from old Mexico or the west in general; they brought most of the guitarras to the scene.
Where I was going with this ramble was that the humble little banjo can do more than Mumford and Sons or Yonder Mountain String Band patterned rolls. Nifty and tight as they may be, some of us want to reach beyond and find the real soul in our hands. Don’t get me wrong, these are fine musicians, but really just one narrow style in a giant spectrum of sound.
Here’s a great example. What could be better than Bach and banjo?
I suggest checking out more of Mr. Raphaelson’s videos if you want to add a little novelty to your listening lineup. Whatever your instrument, love it, learn it, and expand upon it.
Painting by American Realist Thomas Eakins 1844-1916.