I'm writing about a MOUNTAIN MAN!


At least partly inspired by a visit to Fort Atkinson, about a one hour drive from my home, I’m putting a mountain man in one of my next books as the hero

and I’m having the time of my life creating Matthew Tucker.


I’m going to just publish a series of pictures I took when I was there. I’ve already written about the Cruel & Unusual Medicine at the fort HERE

And the Spa-slash-Romance-Novel called a Prison at the Fort HERE


The fort was build in 1820 as part of an envisioned series of forts along the Missouri River, all the way to the Rocky Mountains as support and protection for the mountain men who were involved in the fur trade. They only got one built, Fort Atkinson.


I’ll just let you read the sign there, about William Ashley. He asked Enterprising Young Men to Go West…this was about 25 years before the first wagon wheel turned on the Oregon Trail.


This always makes me feel bad. The Rendezvous. Where most of the mountain men ended up drinking and gambling away an entire year’s worth of earnings. But why do I feel that way? What? Do I want them to invest their money in … blue chip stocks? Perhaps a mutual fund? Do something wise to make them secure in their old age?

They lived on the land. They never went near a store. What did they want with a stockpile of money?

It’d just be one more thing to carry around with them.

They worked all year and traded their earnings for a wild party. Maybe they thought that was fair. Who am I to feel sorry for the poor gullible, knife-wielding, grizzly bear rassling, madmen, huh?


And then it ended. Do you realize how fast it ended? The furs ran out.  Now do you believe that? C’mon, the Rocky Mountains are HUGE, they did NOT get all the furs in twenty years, for heaven’s sake.


Tools of the trade. A pretty gun stock.


Here is a beaver pelt, a rifle, the beaver hat…which caused all this commotion…and traps at the bottom. I’ve got close-ups.


A rifle and a skinning knife…their tool kit. So much more fun that my tool kit with a screw driver and a nail file…in case I chip a nail whilst tightening something.


And of course the traps. Trap them, shoot them, skin them. Then you’re left with a beaver carcass. Wow, just talking about it makes me hungry.


Look at the trap. JUST LOOK AT IT! Have you ever set a mousetrap and had it snap in your hand? Imagine if this thing snapped on your finger.

You’d be begging someone to shoot you and skin you.


Lots of characters out in the mountains. Jim Beckwourth. He became a chief of the Crow Indians? Bet there’s a story there worthy of it’s own whole blog!


A close up of the hat. This is a beaver hat? I have pictured a hat more like what David Crockett and Daniel Boone wore. I guess that’s a coonskin cap, but still, this is not at all like I imagined it. And is it dyed? Whoever heard of a black beaver? You’d think they go to this much trouble to get a beaver, they’d want a hat that looked a lot more LIKE a beaver. I’d’ve left that flat tail on and maybe some buck teeth.


Details about the beaver hat. Note what it says about the collapse. Twenty years and the industry collapsed because of overtrapping. You know what? I don’t even believe that. Yeah, I know it talks about nutria (which I guess is some huge water rat! There’s your nightmare, right there!!!!!!!!!!!!) But I think the industry collapsed because some GENIUS figured out he could sell a cowhide hat that looked exactly like a beaver hat and guess what??? There’s a yard full of cattle right outside. No one’s got to ride 2000 miles through Indian Territory and face down Rocky Mountain blizzards and grizzlies and wolverines. Just round up the cow. They even have black cows–no more dye. This was saving them a fortune.

DSCN0204Excuse me but ONE HUNDRED MEN spread over the whole Rocky Mountains? Have you SEEN the Rocky Mountains? They are just VAST. And they got all the beaver?

Or seriously, did the beavers just learn to hide? How stupid do they think these beavers are anyway?


And Jim Bridger. Now there’s a name synonymous with the west, huh?  He discovered the Great Salt Lake? But how could it have gone undiscovered? Didn’t they study the satellite photos? Anyway, Jim Bridger oughta get his own blog, too. I’m not telling you more about him…this blog is long enough as it is.

Leave a comment about the kind of heroes you like (and if the mountain man in mine will work for you….trust me…he’s a wild man!)

All commenters will get their name in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.

And though I’ve got two books coming out before then, I’m going to do one more picture. A cover reveal for the first book in the Wild at Heart Series containing Matt Tucker.

He’s the hero of book #2, Now & Forever, but he’s a strong secondary character in book #1 Tried & True.

Tried & True, I just got the finalized cover last week and it’s due for release in September.

Available for Pre-Order Now

I’ll tell you more about the series later, for now Wild at Heart series, and sure Matt Tucker is a wild man but the series title Wild at Heart…that’s in reference to the women!

Book #1 Tried & True,

Book #2 Now & Forever,

Book #3 Fire & Ice…….this is gonna be fun! 🙂


Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

56 thoughts on “I'm writing about a MOUNTAIN MAN!”

  1. Mary, I think I love Matthew Tucker!! My hubby and my best friend’s husband took part in black powder shoots! Everything at these shoots is from the mountain man era and I sewed clothing for them. These shoots are so much fun. There are several held in the area or at least there used to be.

    I have never visited Fort Atkinson but must add it to my list of places I want to visit. Have you ever been to Fort Robinson? Neat place as is The Museum of The Fur Trade near Chadron in Western Nebraska?

  2. Hello Mary. You are so funny. I always get a laugh when I read your post. Even at 1 am. Your hero sounds good, but I think Daniel Boone would be a good one too. Now, as for my real hero, is John Wayne, great cowboy. For sure he was from back then but has played characters of them. I could sure use that gift card. if’n ya’ll would only draw my name out of that thar beaver hat of yorne.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  3. I like athletic, independent, loners who resist the allure of love until it knocks them over the head! Your mountain man qualifies!

    Good luck with your new series!

    johnslake at usa dot com

  4. I like my heroes to be committed to a purpose and driven to seek solutions and meet challenges honorably and with a sense of humor.
    Yes, your hero works for me, Can’t wait to read this one.

  5. CONNIE no I’ve never been to Fort Robinson. I’d love to go through. And I’d never heard of the Museum of Fur Trade. I need to head to western Nebraska.
    I’M DOING IT!!!

    (it’s a crazy long drive! But I’m going to try.)

  6. MAXIE the hero of book #3 Fire & Ice is John Wayne-esque. Very much the powerful rancher. And the book #1 guy is a noble, upright war hero type who had to give up his prosperous farm in the very eastern and civilized Shenandoah Valley because of the war. Three very different men.

  7. Laurie G wait’ll you see how I Knock Matthew Tucker over the head to make him find love.

    (It’s actually a grizzly bear, who knocks him over a cliff, but your point fits!)


  8. I’m looking forward to how you tell the Mountain Man’s story, Mary. It’ll be good!
    Last weekend we drove around the Ellsworth KS area where the Texas cattle drives ended to load cattle trains heading east, during 1871 to 1875. After reading museum signs around there, I think I’ll say the young cowboys following the drives could be some great heroes to read about.

  9. In the might 70’s the trapping industry was once again in it’s prime. My dad spent about 4 years trapping each Winter until the industry tanked again. My brothers helped dad “run” traps before school each morning. I still remember the stench of curing the hides by the wood stove. (((shudder)))))

  10. Sounds like it will be a fun book. Reminds me of Luther and Buff. You have two books coming out before then?? I only know of Stuck Together, may I ask what the other one is???

  11. I like a good, honorable hero who will take charge when he needs to. I think a rugged mountain man could be very attractive (thinking of those Pontipee boys in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers). Though if this mountain man of yours already has an Indian wife and he’s fixing to get married again, I don’t approve – but I trust no heroine of yours would either!

    As an aside, my brother traps, and the prime beaver are practically black – I suppose it’s the winter fur versus the cruddy brown summer fur. Of course, we’re not in the Rockies, which must be why there are still so many around driving the farmers nuts . . .

  12. Mary,

    Love your books — can’t wait til these come out so I can read them. They definately do put you back in time. If you need a co-pilot for that ride, just let me know, since your heading my way anyways. Keep up the good writing, for I Love your blogs!


  13. Hi, Mary! I can’t wait to meet Matt Tucker, as well as the other colorful characters in your Wild at Heart series! I love them already! The cover of TRIED & TRUE is beautiful and full of allure! Congratulations!

  14. Your hero epitomizes everything that I would want in a man whose principles and values are important. Wonderful post.

  15. Oh I truly enjoyed your post today… with all the pics it was like I was walking along in a museum seeing the items for myself.
    The type of heroes I like… the great variety out there that have a chance at being bitten by the love bug.

  16. I like heroes who do things that everyone really should do (like defend someone who is bullied), but which no one else has the guts to do.

  17. LINDA another museum I should go to. I LOVE THIS STUFF. I especially love to spend serious long stretches of time in places like that, which annoys all who accompany me!
    But it seems like to really get the details you need to read everything.

  18. HI RACHEL, I’ve got another novella collection called Four Weddings and a Kiss, coming in June, same month as Stuck Together. That’ll be a wild month!!!! Lots of work involved in launching a book. I’m tired already!

  19. Rachael, I’ve never had one of my heroines shoot her husband. I’ve had a few that probably wanted too, though. But those were usually FIRST husbands. And I killed them off somehow without making the heroine do it.

    So you think those hats ARE undyed beaver fur? Wow, what I don’t know about BEAVERS.

  20. Britney I really love that cover. We’ve been doing men on the covers for a while and I really loved THEM, but this is fun for a change.

    My heroines are as vibrant and spunky as the heroes. They’re the Wilde Sisters.
    Kylie, Shannon and Bailey Wilde. Living in the mountains disguised as men. Only their disguises only work because they stay completely to themselves. The first time a handsome cowboy spots them, their cover is BLOWN.
    And then the fun begins.

  21. ANNIE Tucker is great but he’s kind of a pill. Which just made him all the more fun. And he ends up marrying the heroine through a compromising situation that leaves them trapped together, and not that happy about it.

  22. A true Mary blog post. LOL. *shudders* No animal skins for me, please.
    Give me the rugged, independent, funny hero. I like wild men too – make him a good one, Mary!

  23. Colleen when I get into a museum I have learned to just really look CLOSE, that one case with the beaver skin and knife/gun/traps, and lots of signs. I spent about a half hour reading and snapping pictures and just looking. Did you notice that gun handle, with the little door on it. What is that? Is that how you load it? I just can’t study things like that long enough and then, later, I think of all sorts of questions and want to go back and look some more.

  24. Hi Pearl, you like him, huh? Well, I ended up really liking him too.
    My heroine, Shannon Wilde, is a total soft hearted mothering type and she has a herd of sheep that she babies. And Tucker is figuring they’re FOOD in fact most everything figures they’re food. Shannon is HORRIFIED.
    The wrangle over the way she tends those sheep.

  25. Minna, a man who is strong in honor, right? I love that protective side to a hero.
    And no hero worth his salt fails to protect his woman, and to protect anyone, that’s got to be a fundamental characteristic of any hero.

  26. Susan, I’m doing my best. Honestly, I’m more used to writing Wild Women than wild men.

    If any of you read Wildflower Bride, the woman who’d been raised by an Indian Tribe???

    There’s a wild woman for you and the hero was scrambling to keep up through the whole book.

  27. I always love your posts, Mary! Delightful – well, considering the subject of the post, maybe not! I love things about the Old West though! I grew up in California and have lived in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Oregon. A lot of my ancestors were pioneers that came west in covered wagons so I love to hear stories of the Oregon Trail and other pioneer stories because I’ve done a lot of research on my own ancestors. It was a tough life and I’m grateful for their sacrifice! Of course I can’t WAIT until your new books!!!

  28. Valri, what really hit me so hard about this, Fort Atkinson and the mountain men was the year. 1820. The Oregon Trail opened in the 1840s. This is twenty years before pioneers would start heading west.

    There was NOTHING out in those mountains NOTHING! Forget finding a town to buy flour and sugar.

    Can you imagine being this much on your own. What fascinating characters these mountain men are.

  29. VALRI, do you have records about your covered wagon ancestors? I love that. I wonder if there are pioneers like that in my family. We’ve been in the country long enough but I don’t know when … or how … they came west.

    My sister’s a genealogy nut (I mean that affectionately, she love this stuff and has done so much work on it) I wonder if she knows about it.

  30. Love your post!!! I think a good hero has strength on the outside as well as the inside. He will take of the situation and his women and at the same time looking good while doing it. I cant wait for the series!!!

  31. I could go for a mountain man myself. They are not afraid of a little work. Mountain men heros would be a lot like a cowboy and they would stand by the women and protect her.

  32. I can’t wait for BOTH of these books, Mary!!! Also, I’m not trying to flatter when I say that I LOVE mountain man characters! I love a rugged, harnessed strength, rough around the edges kind of hero 🙂 Cannot wait to read his story!

  33. Mary, yes I have tons of covered wagon records! I am LDS so all those Mormon pioneers that came west? Many are related to me!!!! Most of my ancestors came from Denmark and England and they all came by covered wagon and handcart! My grandparents have access to many of their journals – LOVE, LOVE reading them!!!!

  34. Hi Miss Mary, your mountain man sounds like the best, just like your books. Looking forward to some great reading!

  35. I can’t wait until this series comes out! It sounds so exciting! I loved all the information in your post. It was so interesting!

  36. The mountain men have always been intriguing historical characters. They had to be unbelievably tough. They spent months by themselves in the most rugged part of the country. The native americans they dealt with weren’t always friendly, but many mountain men took indian wives and became members of the tribe. Some had wives from several tribes to assure safe passage through their territories. In college, I read the story of Grizzly Adams. Much, I am sure was hype, but how he survived a mauling by a grizzly and being left for dead by his companions has stayed with me all these years. The part about the maggots and ants is still clear in my mind almost 50 years later.

    This past summer we visited the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyoming. It is very well done and the people there are friendly and helpful. They hold the GREEN RIVER RENDEZVOUS DAYS the second full weekend of July every year. Unfortunately, we were 2 weeks too early for it. If you are ever in the area, it is worth the stop.

    Several years ago on another trip out West we happened upon The Fort Bridger Rendezvous in Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. It is held the first weekend of September. It is one of the largest ones in the nation and really a fun way to spend a weekend. There were over 100 teepees, wonderful venders, and a large number of attendees were in authentic dress.

    It may not be possible to go back in time to meet the real mountain men or attend one of their wild rendezvous, but we can read good stories about them, go to museums to learn what we can about them, and attend a rendezvous reenactment. Hope some of you get the chance to do so.

  37. Mary, that little door on the gun butt hides a hole–where the mountain man stored the patches of fabric he needed to wrap around the lead ball he put down the barrel of the gun so it would shoot. Some day Fred will have to show you how it’s done. Beaver weren’t as wide spread as you might think. They were concentrated along the upper Missouri River and especially along the Yellowstone River. Fort Atkinson was originally built to built the fur trade along the Missouri and the Yellowstone. They did nearly hunt the beaver to extinction in that area, just like they killed off nearly all of the buffalo down south. My book “Moonlight Fire” is set in 1819 at the future Ft. Atkinson. I’ve got lots of research notes if you have questions. This new book sounds wonderful.

  38. Mary,
    Your books always feature strong women….and I think the Mountain Man will meet his match! Keep up the good work. Always look forward to your new releases.

Comments are closed.