Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

The Sonora Smokepolers will hold their annual Spring Rendezvous Friday through Sunday at Camp Six Bits in the Red Hills near Chinese Camp.

This is the group's 42nd annual black powder shooting match and Mountain Man re-enacment, with the first held in 1972.

Only three charter members remain from the original club - Jim Rucker, Gloria Rucker and Gary Harris. There are about 60 total members now.

The club has tried to promote 1800s Mountain Man lifestyles, with skills including black powder shooting, knives, tomahawks, Dutch oven cooking, cannons, shotguns, trading, tents and more.

Black powder shooting for men, women and children will be featured along with primitive camps, mountain men and women, trader's row, prize drawings, Sunday service by the Rev. Hawk, awards and more.

Spectator admission is free. There is a fee for competition events and a $10 charge for weekend camping and $5 for extra vehicles. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available for purchase.

A special primitive camping area will be available with a $50 prize for best camp.

Campfires are permitted but poeple must bring their own water and carry out their own trash.

All dogs must be on a leash.

Shooting will begin at 8 a.m. each day and end at noon Sunday.

Categories include Rifleman, Mountain Man, Women, Flintlock, Trade Gun, Pistol, Junior and Pee Wee, plus Old Coots for men and women age 65 and over.

Mountain Men and Flintlock contestants must wear full period clothing. The Mountain Man aggregate will include fire starting, hawk and knife throwing.

The Women's aggregate includes knife and hawk but not fire starting.

The awards ceremony will take place about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, with plaques and ribbons to first through third place.

The Sonora Smokepolers meet for shooting on the third Sunday of every month in the Red Hills. Members recently improved the road in with 21 tons of rock.

Wildflowers also should be in full bloom at this time of year.

Camp Six Bits can be reached by taking Red Hills Road from either Chinese Camp or county road J-59 and turning onto Six Bit Gulch Road and following the signs.

For more information, call Floyd Pilchard at 559-6381 or Steve Bougher at 728-4219.