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The Mountain Men of Eagle Nest: Get to Know Gary

By JUDY COLLIER, Features Writer

Mountain men of Eagle Nest are well known to the locals here. And well known to visitors that like to take advantage of the the fun adventures they provide, even to this day. My friend, Mark Roux, has once again provided me with another “Get To Know” story and great photos of Gary Bowen, otherwise known here as Mountain Man.

You wouldn’t call a mountain man “cupcake.” However, Gary, one of our local mountaineers, is actually heir to one of the largest pastry distributorships in North America and spent his years as an executive in the industry. Grandpa Bowen was no ding dong however.

He was raised in rural Oklahoma, and started hunting at the age of eleven with a traditional bow. One of thirty bows he has made, and that was when his love of the outdoors began. You won’t catch Gary in the basement watching a movie, when there is a creek a quarter mile away with nice woods and great fields.

Here in Eagle Nest, Gary has lived in the “dam” house owned at the time by CS Cattle Co, Charles Springer. Fur trading brought the original mountain men to the area, men like Kit Carson, Lucier Maxwell who married a Bovienne lady from Taos and was given for a wedding present, a Spanish land grant.

Gary has been an executive, a home builder, State Park devoted employee, a hunting and fishing guide, and gives history tours on the Eagle Nest Lake.

Gary is a founding board member of the History Museum here in Eagle Nest. He also started the Mountain Men Rendezvous in Angel Fire.

The Mountain Men Rendezvous is an exciting step back in time, with period correct homemade clothing, and old ways. These festivals are a “living history lesson” shared with the public, demonstrating Native American beadwork, pottery, flint heads, kives, black smithing horse shoes, axes, knives and even gun barrels. They also teach sewing, basket weaving, food processing and preservation, wilderness survival and a course in edible and medicinal plants.

There is also competitions in knife and tomahawk throwing, rifle and pistol shooting, traditional primitive archery, and fire starting using flint or bow, which is not as easy as you might think.

Gary currently guides fishing and history trips for Eagle Nest Adventures. He says “I like it” but it is actually a lot of work. You have to get the gear together, ramp the boat, and most importantly, get the clients to catching the fish!

Gary also has a really cool homemade sarsaparilla and root beer wagon he brings to events. He also sells his homemade arrowheads, his custom knives and homemade jerky from beef, elk, deer and buffalo. Yes, he loves the outdoors and old wilderness ways.

In Boy Scouts, he even canoed the Canadian Headwaters, for a distance of 150 miles! He says the flies and mosquitoes were quite bothersome though.

During the winter he makes fishing lures (fly tying), arrowheads (flint napping ) making about $300 a winter. He makes bows and custom knives and does leather work he will sell. However, before settling in for the winter, there is one more critical job to do, putting on the Santa suit!

If Mark can catch up to another local mountain man, Kermit, then there just might be another story about the locals we know and care about. I enjoy talking with them and I hope you have had that opportunity as well.

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