Primal pursuit Kalispell teen pursues mountain-man lifestyle

Print Article

  • SEAN McQueen shows off a whitetail buck he bagged with a caplock rifle on the last day of regular season in November 2018 while hunting with American Mountain Men Association friends in the Yaak.

  • 1

    McQueen displays a tanned beaver hide from an animal he harvested with a trap he built. McQueen is wearing clothing he made representating the time period from 1800-1840, when mountain men were discovering the many treasures of the West.

  • 2

    AMERICAN MOUNTAIN men McQueen and Rod Douglas at one of their encampments during a 2017 hunting and fishing trip on the Upper Missouri River in Eastern Montana.

  • 3

    McQueen MADE this fish hook from the rib bone of a bison. McQueen caught trout in the Missouri River with the hook during a hunting and fishing excursion in 2017.

  • SEAN McQueen shows off a whitetail buck he bagged with a caplock rifle on the last day of regular season in November 2018 while hunting with American Mountain Men Association friends in the Yaak.

  • 1

    McQueen displays a tanned beaver hide from an animal he harvested with a trap he built. McQueen is wearing clothing he made representating the time period from 1800-1840, when mountain men were discovering the many treasures of the West.

  • 2

    AMERICAN MOUNTAIN men McQueen and Rod Douglas at one of their encampments during a 2017 hunting and fishing trip on the Upper Missouri River in Eastern Montana.

  • 3

    McQueen MADE this fish hook from the rib bone of a bison. McQueen caught trout in the Missouri River with the hook during a hunting and fishing excursion in 2017.

Sean McQueen is cut from different cloth.

The Kalispell 19-year-old appears like many his age. He has a cellphone, he is in college and he drives a 1994 Ford F150 pickup truck.

But his path has forks that many his age do not share.

Since the somewhat tender age of 10, McQueen has passionately pursued the mountain man lifestyle.

He has caught beaver with traps he’s built, floated the Upper Missouri River in a buffalo-hide canoe he constructed, killed deer with a cap-lock rifle and skinned them with knives he has made. McQueen has also fashioned clothing from raw materials such as deer and buffalo hides.

McQueen and his family, which includes five sisters and one brother, are from Missoula. They spent a few years in Missouri before coming to the Flathead Valley a decade ago.

“I joined the local rock club (Northwest Montana Rock Chucks) because I was a flintknapper,” McQueen said. “I met Rich Petterson there and he introduced me to the Flathead Muzzleloaders.”

Flintknapping is the process of chipping away material from high silica stones such as “flint” in a controlled manner with special tools to produce sharp projectile points or tools.

“My brother tanned deer hides and I learned how to flintknap from watching YouTube videos,” McQueen said.

Meeting Petterson propelled McQueen’s interest in the primitive ways.

“Rich has been flintknapping for many years and he’s very good at it,” McQueen said. “He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met.”

The invitation to the Flathead Muzzleloaders led McQueen to meeting Rod Douglas, who has lived in Montana for more than 30 years. Douglas also has a passion for history as evidenced by his involvement in the Muzzleloaders and Montana Highlanders Association.

Douglas is also a member of the American Mountain Men Association, a group that strives to live the life of those who explored and helped settle the West.

The association is a select, invitation-only group.

“You have to know someone in the group and there’s a pretty extensive list of things that you must do to be a part of it,” McQueen said.

The list includes having a full set of hand-cut and hand-sewn clothing and handmade accoutrements. They must be researched for authenticity of the 1800 to 1840 period of history and be of a type that would have been seen on men in, or moving to, the Rocky Mountains.

Another requirement is to be able to converse using Plains Indians hand talk.

Yet another stipulation is to spend an accumulative time of two or more weeks in the wilderness under primitive conditions in the company of no more than one other member. Each stay must be at least three full days and two full nights.

McQueen’s relationships with the two groups have led him to some very interesting adventures in Montana.

One was a 10-day trip in September 2017 with Douglas down the Upper Missouri River that followed the famed Lewis & Clark Expedition.

“We went in the fall and we hunted and fished,” McQueen said.

The hunt didn’t provide any nourishment. But the fishing, done with a willow pole, silk line and a hook fashioned from the rib bone of a buffalo and baited with a bit of red wool, did net some brook trout.

“We ate the fish, but mostly we lived off of dried meat,” McQueen said.

The adventurers used two canoes. One was a modern vessel, but the other was a bull boat. It was constructed from the tanned hides of three bison that were sewed together.

“That thing performed admirably,” McQueen said with a sense of pride.

Another adventure was a fall deer hunting trip to the Yaak.

“We were hunting on private land of one of the club members during the last four days of the season,” McQueen said. “Nathan Blanchard got a deer, but the rest of us weren’t having any luck.

“On the last day, Daryl and I went up the side of a mountain. We were apart, hoping to jump a deer to each other. I had reached the end of the ridge when I sat down on a log and bleated out a doe call,” McQueen said. “Before I knew it, a buck appeared behind me, just as big as life.”

He turned his body and fired left-handed from his cap lock rifle. The 4x4 white-tailed buck dropped in its tracks and the storybook hunt was over.

“The last few hours of the season, to get a buck like that. I don’t think I could duplicate that,” McQueen said.

His ultimate goal is to shoot an elk with a primitive bow.

McQueen recently was featured in the January 2019 issue of Rural Montana, the Montana Electric Cooperative Association’s monthly publication.

Wendy Ostrom-Price, the public relations officer at Flathead Electric Cooperative, said she couldn’t recall a more popular edition of the magazine.

McQueen said his experiences and what he has learned from the members of American Mountain Men and Flathead Muzzleloaders have given him an incredible sense of self-reliance.

“It’s gratifying to know you have that skill set,” McQueen said. “This way of life is not something we want to see disappear.

“The amount of historical information these groups provide to the community is remarkable,” he added. “It keeps their (mountain men) legacy alive.”

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com

Print Article

Read More Montana Life

The mighty pine: Cell structure linked to longevity of slow-growing ponderosas

June 23, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake MISSOULA – Slow-growing ponderosa pines may have a better chance of surviving longer than fast-growing ones, especially as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of drought, according t...

Comments

Read More

Gun Club focuses on shooting skills

June 16, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Across from Swan Lake and east of Montana 83, the Bigfork Gun Club is tucked more than 3 miles into the woods. Traveling down a winding gravel road on an afternoon in May, gunshots rang out, cutting...

Comments

Read More

Fire fighter: Woman builds flame-resistant home on North Fork property

May 26, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Molly Shepherd watched that July night from her one-room cabin as lightning struck repeatedly in the Whitefish Range west of her property near Trail Creek. “It was very dramatic,” she said. “I had ...

Comments

Read More

Self-taught artist finds inspiration from nature

May 12, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Daily Inter Lake In a yurt along Montana 206, a local potter puts her spin on traditional art. Melissa Berreth, 35, began “slinging mud” as a teenager in high school. Today she has culminated her life-long love of t...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X