By Montana Grant

Posted: May 17, 2020

Montanans grew from the roots of the old trappers and Native peoples of the Big Sky Country. It is no accident that so many peoples came to Montana. They still are. Despite that, our state population remains around one million folks.

The Bering Sea land bridge brought the first peoples here. The Bozeman Trail brought the first settlers. Interstate 90 is the trail for moving west today. Early Spaniards brought the first horses. Buffalo ruled the plains and the Mountain Men trapped and survived in the harsh conditions of the west.

No one survived without the old ways. The skills of survival were learned the hard way. Without the skills life was short. Today we think life is hard as we tool around in our trucks, boats, and modern gear. A flip of the switch and we have light or heat. Food is at the local grocers. Cell phones answer all our questions and contact help or friends.

Fire meant survival. Mountain Men were able to start a fire using a rock and a piece of metal. Creating a spark could start a fire for heat, cooking, light, and protection. Friction fires also worked. A pinch of gunpowder or tree sap could help if it were raining or snowing. No surprise in Big Sky Country where the weather can change on a dime. Some folks kept the embers of yesterdays fire for use tomorrow. Without a fire, odds were, you would be history.

This series will be about the Old Ways. Montanans need to know and teach these old ways. Each week, I will add a different skill and how to complete this important task. Challenge yourself to learn, practice, and teach these skills. No cheating.

Next week, we will start with fire building. No gasoline, newspaper, matches, or lighters allowed. See what kind of Montana Mountain Man or woman you are.

Watch yer top knot!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant. Find him building a primitive fire at