Thursday, March 08, 2007

gun Blogger Rendezvous - How it got it's Name

The question of how the Gun Blogger Rendezvous got it's name has been brought up several times in the last year or so. Says Uncle thinks we should change the name because it's too hard to spell. Actually, the rendezvous has a lot of history behind it, and with that history in mind, the name was chosen.

One of the best articles on the North American "Rendezvous" is on the Bed & Breakfast Inns and Ranches of Wyoming website:

The rendezvous system was the innovation of William Ashley of the American Fur Company. He had been trying for several years to find a good way to retrieve the year's collection of furs, and at the same time outfit his trappers for the upcoming year's operations. When he hit upon the idea of establishing a central meeting site where all trappers and traders could gather to do their business, the fur trade came into its own. Since an animal's winter fur is more valuable than its lighter summer coat, trappers were basically off work in the summer and the rendezvous became an annual party to end all parties. The traders brought in mail, newspapers, and gossip, plus supplies, including raw alcohol which they watered down and flavored with tobacco, ginger, or chilies, then sold as whiskey.

With alcohol as a lubricant, everything else seems to have fallen under the heading of drunk and disorderly behavior. The trappers rejoiced greatly in their reunions with friends rumored dead. Representatives of all the Indian tribes came for the festivities, and their women folk were a major attraction. New recruits, missionaries, artists, newspaper reporters, and other "tourists" traveled west with the traders, and the mountain men and Indians delighted in initiating them into the spirit of things with rowdy welcomes. Tall tales, dirty jokes, feasts, gambling, horse races, fights, wrestling, shooting contests, songfests, and similar activities filled both day and night. A suit of ancient English armor was given to Jim Bridger at the 1837 rendezvous. Trapper Joe Meek tells of borrowing it and parading around camp in fancy dress.

A rendezvous was apparently great fun, unless you happened to be one of the unfortunate souls who got knifed, shot, raped, or as was the case at one rendezvous, bitten by a rabid wolf that rampaged through a group of men rendered defenseless by alcohol. Meek told of seeing four trappers playing cards using the dead body of a comrade for a card table, but whether it actually happened or not is hard to say -- Meek was a better storyteller than he was a historian.
To this day there a a number of clubs around the world that re-enact the rendezvous gatherings of the early 1800's, wearing authentic clothing, shooting black powder firearms, throwing axes, cooking over an open fire, and more. Last Summer I did a post on a local Black Powder Rendezvous at our local gun club.

Fortunately for the Gun Blogger Rendezvous attendees times have changed, and such carrying on would be a bit extreme, even for our Reno! The spirit of the old rendezvous' continues, however, in the meeting of old friends, making of new friends, swapping stories, partying a bit (!), and also getting in some friendly shooting out at the range.

This year's Rendezvous will be held at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Reno in early October.

Hope you can make it!


Post a Comment

<< Home