My earliest memory of a favorite gunwriter is of The Grand Old Man himself, Elmer Keith. He bridged the gap between the cowboys and frontiersmen of yesteryear, and modern day outdoorsmen and peace officers. His writings would take me to another time and place, when game and wilderness were plentiful. He was on the cutting edge of firearm and ammunition development, with much of his work being done before he was barely 30 years old! There isn't much done today in the sixgun world that can't be traced back to him. His favorite handloads for the 357, 41, 44 special and magnum and 45 Colt are still widely known and used today by knowledgeable shooters. They worked then, and continue to work now.
Skeeter Skelton's career as a gunwriter spanned from his first article, written in 1959 until his death in 1988. Much of that time, 1966~1988, he wrote for Shooting Times magazine. It was there that I learned of Skeeter and became facinated by his writing style. When reading Skeeter's stories, it feels as if he is sitting across from you at a rough hewn wooden table, telling the stories by the light of a kerosene lamp and fireplace. You can almost smell the bacon, biscuits and coffee. Skeeter is to this day, my favorite gunwriter of all time. If you are not familiar with Skeeter's writings, you should check out some of his stories and articles here.
Skeeter passed away far too young, just shy of his 60th birthday. Though there are many stories untold, he left us the many articles he wrote, and his son Bart Skelton, who has followed in his footsteps choosing a career in Law Enforcement and as a gunwriter. Bart's column, which appears monthly in Shooting Times magazine, and his book 'Down on the Border: A Western Lawman's Journal' are well worth reading.
Late in 2011 I received an email complimenting me on my work, and thanking me for building Old School Gunleathr. The sender was Bart Skelton, and since that first email, there have been phone calls, visits to his Hacienda, and I am glad to call him my friend.
A large void was left in the gun world with the passing of both Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton. To many, myself included, John Taffin has ably taken up the Sixgunners' Torch. His magazine articles and books are as sought after and cherished as the writings of Elmer and Skeeter. A 1985 article of his about a ficticious gathering of friends turned into what is known as The Shootists' Holiday; an annual gathering held at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM., with attendence by invitation only. In 2008, I was fortunate enough to have the wonderful opportunity of meeting Mr. Taffin in person. Since then, I have managed to visit with him and his wonderful wife 'Diamond Dot' at their home in Boise, ID. Generous hosts, each visit has left me with more memories of stories and sixguns than I could ever have hoped for. I never had the chance to meet Elmer or Skeeter, but am thankful to call John Taffin a friend.
"Many years ago, Skeeter Skelton once wrote how he counted himself among the luckiest of men, because he had spent a lifetime with what had facinated him the most-Handguns. I too count myself lucky. As a matter of fact, I tell my friends that if I were any luckier, the Dream Police would be after me. I too have spent my 50 years with handguns, but count myself lucky for the Heros in the sixgun community that surround me. Lawmen and Lawyers, Cowboys and Clergy, Gunsmiths and Gunwriters. Men who are a cut above and bound together by the four F's. Faith, Family, Friends, and Firearms. In this world, Dick Thompson is an Eclipse. Those men whom we read about and admire in books have long since been surpassed by Dick's deeds in the field of life. A throwback to another time, Dick often spends 100 days a year afield, prepares gourmet meals in cast iron crockery, and the rest of the time is a walking encyclopedia of what works on everything from Gophers to Grizzly. He is a Sixgun man, but he is much more than that. As a Mentor and a Friend to me and all who know him, here is my Salute and often I wonder what the fullness of time will say about this great man."
Fermin Garza ~ Oct. 2010, Corpus Christi, TX
"Late in 2007, I was contacted for the first time by Dick Thompson. Dick had been wintering in Texas that year. While he traveled around the state, Dick met up with Fermin Garza for lunch one afternoon. Fermin had brought along some gunleather that I had built for him to show Dick. Shortly after their visit, my phone rang. I had seen some of Dick’s stories on the various internet forums, and I could tell this was a very unique fellow! After placing his order for what became the very first Signature Series Northwest Hunter rig, Dick and I stayed in touch by phone on a regular basis. I heard tales of countless elk, mule deer, black bear and other big game, hunting trips to Alaska and Africa, and of his many adventures chasing and being chased by badgers! Those conversations gave me a glimpse into the life of a true sixgunner, and led to what has become a once in a lifetime friendship.
Dick is not an armchair theorist or an opinionated blowhard. He has been there and done that, and is very willing to pass on his knowledge from a lifetime of shooting, casting, loading and hunting. Part Elmer Keith, part Skeeter Skelton, part teacher, part prankster, if you don't learn something from Dick with every conversation, it's because you weren't listening."
Mike Barranti ~ Nov. 2010, Pittsburgh, PA
Early in his hunting career, Dick was a successful rifle hunter though he often carried along a sixgun. Bow hunting was another passion of Dick's, which helped push him into the challenge of handgun hunting. Once Dick made that decision, his rifles stayed home. Dick is now totally dedicated to being a handgun hunter, and no longer owns any rifles.
Over 60 percent of the state of Idaho is public land, and much of that is rugged wilderness area accessible only by plane, boat or horseback. Dick has explored and hunted in some of those places, walking in the footsteps of long forgotten Mountain Men, Explorers and some of this great country's earliest inhabitants.
Dick, like most sixgunners, considers Elmer Keith to be THE authority on sixguns. Several of his hunting trips took him near the home of the legend. It was with quite a bit of trepidation that Dick walked up to the front door of The Grand Old Man himself for the first time.
Years ago, writers like Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton became known to the firearms world through the various magazines and books their writings were published in. Thanks to the internet, a whole new generation of readers have been able to read Dick's stories. His writing style is very reminiscent of Elmer and Skeeter, full of wit and wisdom, containing no BS. Due to this cyber exposure, Dick fields daily emails and phone calls from sixgunners all across the country.
Like Elmer, Dick gets visits from people wanting to meet him in person. One of the first things these travelers will see are the various trophys in his trophy room. Animals from the mountains of Idaho, the Alaskan tundra and the plains of Africa are on display to the many visitors that make the journey to Dick's home in Soda Springs, Idaho.
In the world of Sixgunning, finding folks that share your interest is a very rare thing. Somehow, I have managed to surround myself with a handful! These Sixgunners come from all across this great country from a variety of backgrounds, but we all share a common interest in firearms, specifically sixguns. They learned about sixguns from the writings of Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton and John Taffin, to name just a few. This small group of friends seemed pretty complete, until we met this interesting character from Texas, Mike 'Madbo' Hutyra.
A few years back, my good friend Glenn Swaggart asked me to build one of my Hank Sloan models that he intended to gift to Mike. Upon receiving the holster, Mike said he wanted to do something special with that holster. Madbo, being a student of Sixgun History, had been known for his quick draw work, emulating the fast draw of Bill Jordan. Mike's quickdraw work is patterned after stunts performed by Jordan as he toured the country giving exhibitions of his fast and fancy shooting. At the time of this writing, Mike has several thousands of draws from that old Hank Sloan shuck!
One of the first things you notice when you meet Mike, besides his being extremely humble, are his blue steel, gunfighter eyes, and his signature handlebar mustache. Top that off with his slow Texas drawl, and you just might think you had stepped back in time!
Madbo, as we affectionately refer to him, is a dedicated follower of the classic Sixgunners that came before us. Though he is an all around shooter, well practiced in rifle, shotgun and handgun shooting, Madbo is a true Sixgun Wizard, and our good friend Fermin Garza says he has "Speed only lightning knows".
Our little world of Sixgunning just got a little bigger, and we are truly proud to call Madbo a good friend and brother. These videos are a real treat to watch, and stay tuned, as there will be much more to come from The Mad Bohemian!
The Mad Bohemian
Madbo and the Fitz Holster
More Madbo Golf