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Story I Published “Flint Affinity”

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  • Story I Published “Flint Affinity”

    Hello all! I am fairly new to this site...wasn’t sure where the best home was. I wanted to share a piece I recently had published. Thoughts and feedback are welcomed!

    Flint Affinity
    The stone giving Native Americans an edge on revered game and the mineral igniting freedom in the rifles of our founding fathers are one and the same – flint. Flintstones are as transparent and honest as those hardened characters that depended on it. Its toughness, sharpness, and beauty have long made flint both desirable and valuable.
    Categorized as chert, flint is a hardened cryptocrystalline (meaning crystals remain unseen) form of the mineral quartz. The fine grained stone surfaces as nodules on sedimentary rocks, like chalk and limestone. Ironically, nothing seems stagnant or sedimentary about flint, for it has been in constant motion since the Stone Age. Flintstone’s spectrum of intriguing colors of grey, black, green, white, and brown vary as widely as its uses. The mineral can be refined and worked to produce a vast variety of tools and weapons. Flint has carved a cyclic role, from starting fires to ending the life of quarry and everything in between.
    My affinity for flint started at an early age. Like many country boys, my hero was Grandpa. Papa was a hard-working farmer of western Pennsylvania. Most men proudly hang a hat on a thirty year career. Not Papa. Grandpa worked the same farmland for eighty years. At points during those four score, I anticipated riding in the tractor with Papa more than Christmas morning. The sweat Grandpa poured into his fields would likely be enough to get through a drought.
    Even my distracted boyhood attention noticed Papa working his farm and plowing his fields all day. Then, after supper, Grandpa made time for family. In the late spring and early summer, his strong, calloused hands would guide stumbling grandchildren between the rows of crop. The objective of these outings, aside from simply being together, was to look for arrowheads.
    April plowing, May rains, and June sun worked in harmony to unearth, wash, and expose flint. The mineral’s luster was not quite like any other. Many pieces of flint stone were shaped like any field stone. Few flakes and chips showed promising signs of man’s touch. Rare discoveries led to a genuine arrowhead.
    Grandpa explained how the smaller points were affixed to arrows with deer sinew, destined for smaller quarry, such as birds. The larger works were presumably spear points reserved for big game or cutting blades used like knives. Other knapped chert could be used as a scraper. With Papa’s tender guidance, all grandchildren developed a knack for finding knapped flint.
    As parallel as Grandpa and I hunting side by side in the field was the connection drawn between the Native Americans and the early settlers. Stirring within a deep fiery inside, the pride of sharing the same land and home as hunters and gatherers of the past sparked an interest.
    This incurable curiosity was quenched the first hunt I trusted a flintlock muzzleloader for a whitetail. A day prior to the trip, my twelve-year-old hands ripped the box open to a Thompson Center White Mountain Carbine .50 caliber flintlock muzzleloader. The gift from Dad would prove the best of any Christmas present.
    Papa, in on the plot, eagerly prepared me for the late season opener the following day. Such readiness included selecting and securing the proper flint. Rather than the drawers of Papa’s arrowheads, Grandpa pulled out his gun box. The shapes of flint were far from the triangular arrowheads of spring and summer. Winter summoned a handsome batch of prisms. One commonality to all forms of flint was the edge.
    Grandpa let me pick my favorite one. The preferred piece was predominantly grey with an amber shadow. The flint reminded me of the first arrowhead I picked up in the field nearest the hollow. With the same attention to detail bestowed upon farm work, Papa screwed the flint into the hammer of his grandson’s new rifle.
    My forefathers then introduced my olfactory to a recipe more festive than Grandma’s Christmas cookies. For this I am eternally grateful – a .50 caliber lead ball seated in a patch before 80 grains of FF gunpowder. The harmonious ingredients are ignited by a shower of sparks upon the flint striking the frizzen. Somewhere in that brief instant, smoke dances with dry winter air. The fine mess is cleaned with a patch spread like toast with Bore Butter. Though the process takes but a minute, the experience lasts a lifetime.
    So caught up in the sights, smells, and equipment of a flintlock rifle, I had nearly forgotten about hunting with one. Atop the last snow of December, Grandpa led me by fields we had searched last summer. Now winter, I was hunting these fields. In the still darkness of twilight, the pastures were scarcely recognizable.
    Although I had never before fired at a deer, I had imagined moment hundreds of times. First, I noticed a small set of antlers, bounding through the brush and onto the trail. Time slowed. The flint became an extension of me as my beating heart locked onto that of the deer’s. As my sights settled behind the front leg, I touched the trigger.
    If there was a loud report or violent kick, I do not recall. I remember a shower of sparks becoming gray plumes and white wisps. To me, the smoke never cleared. It only took new form. A charcoal gray buck with a white belly lay on the family soil. Steam rose from a bullet hole miraculously placed through the whitetail’s heart. The buck’s sharp, hardened rack mirrored the glassy flint that had got the ball rolling.
    The 6-point fell to the flintlock not fifty yards from the field’s corner where I once picked up a bone-white bird point. Equally as momentous as being a boy’s first buck, the deer that lay before three generations marked the first whitetail taken by one of Dad’s three sons and the first deer harvested by Grandpa’s many grandchildren.
    Locked in the heart of so many hunts, memories, and adventures was the family gem – flint. I for one proudly boast a heart for stone, an affinity for flint.

    Flint Eastwood

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your memories and your enthusiasm for sharp, pointy rocks! Something I believe everyone here can relate to.
    Josh (Ky/Tn collector)

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    • #3
      Thanx for the story !

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      • #4
        As a fellow writer & author, I always enjoy reading someone else’s work. 👍🏻
        Child of the tides

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        • #5
          Thanks for the kind feedback.
          sometimes writing a thousand words about arrowheads seems easier than finding ONE!

          Our crew got two this evening. My son scored a nice, yet busted bifurcated one he coined “Big Biffie” while my brother found an excellent transparent spear point.

          Flint

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          • #6
            Hi FE. You write well and the tale of your first deer hunt with the TC muzzleloader was very enjoyable to read. Where was it published? It's about the length of some magazine articles so I wondered if it was published in an outdoors mag. I'd guess that Flint Eastwood was not your pen name but if it was that would be quite the "hoot" lol

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            • #7
              The story ran in a muzzleloader shooting and hunting magazine called Muzzle Blasts.
              Flint Eastwood would make a good pseudonym!

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              • #8
                I enjoyed the story very much, thank you for sharing it.

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                • #9
                  good read. thanks

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                  • #10
                    I like words, and they way they can be strung together to make reader feel something deeply. You did that here! Pen is mightier than sword (but smoke of flintlock muzzleloader pretty strong, too!)

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