In Pulaski County, Missouri the pioneer spirit is tangible when you are in the company of the Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders. First formed in 1972 by Jim Livingston and Bill Miller, among others, the club encourages organized black powder rifle and pistol shooting. They teach and practice safe handling and proper care of the firearms that shaped the westward expansion of the United States and strive to improve marksmanship. Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders is also a character building club- honesty, fellowship, self discipline, teamwork, and self reliance are all essential to sportsmanship. KTM holds these characteristics in even higher esteem- they value them as the foundation of true patriotism.
Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders circa 2009. Image courtesy of KTM.
When the club acquired their first property in the Gospel Ridge area they built a cabin. The members built it themselves- they even stripped the bark off the logs they harvested for the build. Later, when the club moved to their current location they couldn’t leave their handiwork behind. They disassembled the cabin and moved it piece by piece to be reassembled on the new property. True to their pioneer spirit they continued to improve upon the cabin, and their new land. They reinforced the doors of the old cabin. Blacksmith Lee Marek made hinges and hasps. Then in true pioneer tradition they fashioned another 25×25 cabin and connected the two with an 1800’s style dogtrot. Club member Harold F. Rakop, Jr. is quick to let one know that the best breeze is the one that blows through KTM’s cabin. Of course, the club continues to make improvements to their land. They have cleared some 40 acres of a hillside. Boy Scouts have camped at the site for several years and the club hopes to accommodate Girl Scouts in the future. They are in the process of adding a shower house and Eagle Scouts have installed bat houses, worked on the trail, created a meditation and remembrance area, and reworked the bridge that crosses the scenic creek that runs on the property.
Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders are known for their skilled black powder shooting but members also excel in other skills that were instrumental to surviving the harsh Ozark Mountains in the 1820’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Members can blacksmith, trap, build a cabin, start a fire, cook using a dutch oven, purify drinking water, and countless other tasks that were instrumental to survival during the earliest pioneer days.
They can also spin a pretty good yarn around the campfire. Kathi Crawford likes to tell a story about her father- Don Cook, Bud Abbott, and Uncle Gene Baldwin. These three were “true mountain men” who would often spend the weekend at Abbott’s hunting cabin. Often, the same two neighbors would show up just as dinner was ready. These two didn’t even bring “moochin'” plates with them- they would just show up, borrow a plate, eat and leave. The mountain men were certainly neighborly, but after a time, it begin to set them wrong that the two men did not even offer a helping hand as a thank you. A few weeks later, the men returned to camp just as the mountain men were finishing their meal. Abbott took the last bites of his meal and set the empty plate on the ground in front of his dog Heidi. Heidi licked that plate clean with gusto. Eventually Abbott picked that plate up and ambled over to the cabinet and stored it away. Just as he closed the door to the cabinet he looked back and asked the two men if they wanted a plate to eat. They stammered excuses as they made their way to the door and that was the last the mountain men saw of the “moochin men”.
The members have formed a strong bond and became more than “just a club”. When informally polled every member listed the fellowship and camaraderie as one of their favorite things about Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders. Membership isn’t a given, however, the club is quick to extend an invitation to those interested in joining to attend an event and get to know the club.
Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders will be encamped for their annual rendezvous on the banks of the Roubidoux during Old Settlers Day July 30 & 31st, 2016 in Waynesville, Missouri. Their camp will be open to the public both Saturday & Sunday beginning at 8:00 a.m.. The club will also conduct primitive skills demonstrations throughout the weekend.
To learn more about Kickapoo Trace Muzzleloaders contact Earl Ellegood, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Old Settlers Day please visit www.route66courthouse.com.
To learn more about things to see and do in Pulaski County, Missouri please visit www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com.