Me and Little Beaver…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 


rryderIn 1938 a new comic strip appeared in the newspapers. It was called Red Ryder. He was a crime-fighting cowboy who wore a white hat and rode a fast horse. Little Beaver was his young Indian sidekick and I dreamed of riding with them through the mountain passes as we chased bad guys who wore black hats. My name was Luke Revolver and every time I saw a man wearing a black hat I’d tell Little Beaver to watch out.

Each panel in the cartoon had a taste for overstatement and seemed to bounce at me with six-gun bluster. It was great make-believe.


That’s when I was eight. That same year my father bought me a Daisy air rifle. It had “Red Ryder” etched in big letters across the wooden stock. I liked it so much I kept it under my covers at night, loaded and ready or action.

photo 3

The gun could hold about 250 BBs and it fired without making much noise. That meant I could shoot again if I missed a meadow lark the first time. Meadow larks don’t like noise and I needed to get five on Saturdays so each member in my family could have meat for supper.

About forty-years later I met Fred Harman who drew the Red Ryder cartoons. With 750 newspapers and 40 million readers, it was the largest syndicated comic strip in the country.

photo 6

In later years Fred became an important cowboy artist whose work sold for a lot of money. When our gallery advertised one of his paintings full-page color in Apollo, he came in to thank me, and I showed him my BB gun. He said he had one just like it but he had to pay for his. But he laughed when he told me that the Daisy Company gave him a 5-cent royalty for every gun they sold with his Red Ryder logo on the cheek plate. Sometimes success comes in small denominations.


Fred Harman 1902-1982


I related to Fred Harman. He was a link to my hunting days as a small boy in Texas and to Red Ryder with whom I rode vicariously across the prairie looking for rustlers.

I have willed my BB gun to Shiloh, but he can’t shoot meadow larks now because it’s against the law. Little Beaver wouldn’t like it.

photo 5


112 thoughts on “Me and Little Beaver…

  1. The Fred Harman/Red Ryder Museum is in Pagosa Springs, CO. where Fred had his ranch and called home. The museum is just off the main drag a little west of the city. Look for the Red Ryder and Little Beaver sign.

    • Dal

      Think your a very good writer. Somehow you can make the story an easy read.

      Think this is your treasure, writing.

      One day if your ever write a book or maybe you have drop me an email.

      Like collecting 1st edition signed books.


      • Rick-
        I didn’t write any of that. All the words are Forrest’s. I only added a few “Red Ryder” pics to the story. Forrest is far to generous with his compliment…

        • Still you have a gift:) Your other writings support this.

          When I read a piece of yours it’s nice and smooth not rough and abrasive like mine:)

          Think he’s encouraging you.

          Your lucky:)

          He has a throw them over board mentality, either they will drown or swim.

          What to do? Swim:)

        • Dal,

          Would you be kind and identify which pictures you added and which Forrest sent you?

          I know you get asked this every time one of these SB’s come out but for some of us, knowing what FF provides or not may have bearing on our solves.


          • Karen, Dal is on the road for a couple weeks so I doubt he will be able to keep up with all the comments. You might want to shoot him an email; he may not be able to read it or respond for a couple weeks but that way you can be sure he sees your request.

      • I enjoyed my visit to the Fred Harmon Museum last year. The docent was friendly and knowledgeable while showing the artifacts and paintings, and it was fun to wander around outside where a few old buildings were relocated for a glimpse of the past.
        Thanks for the nice story Forrest. And thanks again Dal for all you do on this wonderful blog. 🙂

  2. Love it Forrest –

    Ya know what has been happening here on this blog – is when you put things right in front of people – they miss it.

    Oh well –

    • I love the way Dal researched and designed that story. I sent him a peach and he made a cobbler.
      I agree with you inthechaseto. I just read Wolf’s great story about his search and wished I had been out there with him chasing around the rocks. Reading it reminded of the Carl Smith’s song “I over looked an orchid while searching for a rose.” Wolf makes me feel good about my book and hiding the treasure. f

        • The last search I went on I found a Blaze and a rose . Maybe I overlooked the Orchid. Was called home early because someone opened the gate to the pasture and I had missing horses. Never happened in ten years . my luck I guess! I love old wagons ! I have a 1800s covered wagon with a Sal-e running gear sitting on my flatbead………….. .I really needed more time to make a thorough search of the area. I guess it will be next spring or summer seeing as how the cold months are almost upon us. Nice story FF . I had a bb gun when I was about six or eight I can’t remember what kind it was but had lots of fun with it One day a blue bird came squawking just outside ,my bedroom window. Well I shot that bird and dad found it the next day boy was he mad. Needless to say I never had that bb gun no more Dad broke it over a rock. I guess I deserved it. I thought I was going to get paddled but he never did. But I wasn’t allowed another gun for a long time.Lesson Learned. I guess I was just an ornery country boy looking for trouble LOL

          • Was wondering how your hunt was going on this run.

            Most dads start out with BB guns with their kids and go from there.

            So you might have lost out on having a 30 -06 at sixteen?

            Used to love whistling Dixie across the mountains with that one:)

            Good to see you back Boggs:)


      • Mr Fenn,
        Thank you for the very kind words! You always have great insight and I don’t even know where to start with this story because it certainly is a peach even if it didn’t come from Georgia.

        I love that marvellous wagon and I can’t wait to hear more about it, seeing as we are talking old west!
        The Wolf

        • Terrific story Mr. Fenn and nice job Dal! I’ll bet Mr. Fenn can out shoot the best. Brings back great memories. Thanks!

          Would also enjoy reading Wolf’s story, if you can direct me to it. Thank you.

        • Yes, Red Ryder is very special here. Two years ago Bill and I went to Pagosa by way of Chama to head for Platoro when we arrived at the Fred Harman museum and home just in time to watch an Indian mother and her two sons sitting in a ring in front of the home. I smiled at them and went inside for the tour. Suddenly a young man came up to me to try to draw from some of Mr. Harman’s pictures on the wall. He always wanted to be an artist he said, and he had to prove everything he wanted to do for his bride to be who was out in the front lawn. He said everything he did must be approved by the lady in the yard (he wasn’t Indian) or her father would not let her marry him. He kept trying so hard to copy the pictures on the wall, that he continued to crawl around waiting of his spot do a good picture (I had to step over him several times). The lady in charge of tours said she couldn’t do anything to disturb his determination. I saw many items of Mr. Harmans’ and the big divan by the wall. She told me that was where John Wayne napped during the fun times of John Wayne and other movie stars vacationing at the Harman ranch and home. I sat on the divan in awe of knowing I was sitting on John Wayne’s divan! We do have the metal picture of Red Ryder and Little Beaver, a good Red Ryder rifle that we use for target practice. We have a good supplies of BBs.We stayed a long time at the Harman home and our tour guide told many stories. I can see Forrest there. We were the only guests there, so she loved talking about the family. I will miss that visit, but Bill with his love for Red Ryder goes on everyday when he checks his Red Ryder always in sight by the back door and!

          • Have to make a correction. At the end line “the back door and” should be Red Ryder rifle is in sight by the back door. The Daisy is loaded, but we only shoot at an old hay bale in back pasture that has paper targets tied to the bale.

  3. These days I can’t figure out who’s been in my mind. I thought I locked the front door. Forrest attention to detail is what makes your stories so great! My question for you is, why or how did you get this way?

  4. Red Ryder and Little Beaver were my favorite, I guess until The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers showed up.

    I think the real reason for the change was because my parents wouldn’t let me have a Red Ryder B-B gun. 🙂

  5. Where I grew up we ate alot of meadow larks when you couldn’t find any bob whites the bob white was like top of the line eating but I always enjoy squirrel or a young cotton tail

  6. Reminds me of Mountain Man – “put up or shut up” and A Christmas Story all at one time. “That thing will shoot your eye out”

  7. Hopefully Mr. Fenn will not feel paranoid because we follow his stories all the time. Thank you Mr. Fenn we are grateful to have such a human being among us all.

  8. Thanks for another fun story about one of your friends Forrest. The story reminds me of the movie “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas but is constantly told that he would ” shoot your eye out”! Many kids had the Red Ryder BB gun and had much fun playing cowboys. 🙂

  9. It must be a boys thing, or a western thing. In Chicago it was Prince Valiant for me, and Archie, and Little LuLu, under the covers with a sandwich and flashlight. Good memories.

  10. I’ve gotta run, been hovering over the blog all day. How does he do IT? He’s like a modern DJ, spinning stuff on the fly. Dal too turning that peach into a cobbler.

    Good day all.

  11. What a nice, quiet story. I, very much, like it. Thank you, f, for the story. I liked shooting bb guns when I was a kid too. Doves were what was for dinner then. Would anybody know how edible marrmots are? Please let me know. I just might dust off the ol’ bb gun.

  12. Pulling broncos from bananas 🙂 “Mork calling Oswald…you there Oswald?” Sending Floyd and Lloyd in for backup…were on our way!


  14. Great information. When was 8 or so my father bought a BB rifle for me. Mine was not a Red Rider, but one of my friends had one. I did not know the story behind the Red Rider name or distinct design. Thank you Mr. Fenn for sharing.

    • rio grande king fly , by night nor star’s stare a mite this is a wish to make tonite ? do you have a fly rod , is a fenwick or not to be !

      • My first crush was on Daniel Boone and his side kick Mingo. I dreamed about roaming the wild frontier and marrying honorable Fess Parker in his buckskins. On the eastern side of the Wyoming Rockies 8 year old girls also found daisy air rifles tucked secretly behind the Christmas tree. Gophers were too quick for the likes of me. We ran through the willows and pines in the meadow and shot at each other. A few good stings, but everyone still has both eyes, and certainly never tattled on each other… our saftey code read: “shoot at buddy” and outrun him. Occasionally, we were reined in to become ladies, but went fishing or whittled Indian designs on branches until the bebe welts diminished. Becoming a lady happens at 18, not 8 on the last frontier.

      • Cowboy, sometimes your comments are hard to figure out, but it sounds like you understand fly fishing quite well. Fenwick makes outstanding fly rods. My dad fished with one for years and just gave it to my son as a keepsake from Grampa – So a Fenwick it is to be. Like Forrest giving his Red Ryder to Shilo. Those keepsakes mean the most – to grandsons.

  15. I wish my words woul’d ring out like cast in bronze Some people can’t see it right smack in the middle of page Oh well redROVER101 you tried but theydint lisen

  16. never grew up around red ryder bb guns.our family couldn’t afford them,but my brothers did make sling shots to play with.those stories bring back memories that have been forgotten in some time.thanks mr. forrest.please keep those stories just don’t know how you touch people in so many ways.I have got to where I look forward to your stories.its like a book ,I can’t put down,can’t wait until the next brothers played marbles also.I would play sometimes,but never knew what I was doing,i was little.but I had fun.

    • That brings up an interesting thought. Marbles. How about it Forrest, tell us about your marble collection. We know you had one, it’s in TTOTC. Pretty please… with coca on it.

  17. My father bought me a Red Ryder when I was 8 years old back around 1982… I cant tell you how many thousands of copperhead brand BB’s I shot thru it… It never malfunctioned!!

    As I aged and moved on to other hobbies I stopped using it as a toy… My father stored it for me after I had forgot about it..

    And when my son turned 8, I gave it to him to learn to shoot! : ) it still shoots flawlessly.

    My father “etched” 1982 on the gun… And I’m really glad that he did that because it brought back fond memories. Long live the Red Ryder!!! I hope my son can hand it down to his kids someday..

  18. I live 20 minutes from the Daisy Rifle Company in Plymouth MI
    I will try to post a picture of the building. It now houses an excellent restaurant and offices. It is located next to the train tracks that would haul the guns out to you gentlemen.
    Karen Ruth,CTfD,
    the Crazy Teacher from Detroit.

  19. ITCT

    am curious what you think Forrest is putting right in front of us that we may be missing

    you must be onto something to elicit a response from the Fire man

    if you can’t share on here, you have my email …:roll:

  20. Chris – are you winking at me or rollin your eyes in frustration. That’s very cute –

    You already know what I’m talking about – Winking back at ya.

  21. I know of one collector that just might out do you. My sister and I would help him in exchange for flights. We had alot of fun flying with Walter. He passed on in late 2010…interesting man, collected WWII aircraft. Problem was everyone wanted a piece of his pie. His son Wally currently flys for fed-ex, wrote a neat article for Air&Space Magazine.

  22. The more I read Forrest’s red Ryder story the more I enjoy it. Can’t you imagine Luke Revolver with his Sixshooter at 8 & 84 runnin the Main Street Cowboys hankerin for a showdown with the black hats? I appreciate the quality of friends Mr. Fenn has chosen to share with us – and each person is known by the company we keep. Found a nice article on Fred Harmon who was well loved by many and known for his authentic kindness and service to others.

    • Rick, one of the best movies ever, right up there with Jeremiah Johnson. And you’re right, no room for second best in this chase. Looking forward to flying in sideways as fast as my legs will carry me with 42 lbs in tow. cheers.

      • LOL:)

        Well anytime I hear someone say I’m off to get the treasure I found the treasure I’m going to do the Forrest Fenn treasure hunt.

        Great go out and have fun. If your trying to find the chest, welcome to the Danger Zone:)

        Planes aren’t cheap on this level $20 to $50 million a pop:)

        The last I heard and counting was $17 million spent by the group.

        Waiting for the annual playing figures from Fenn.

        Maybe it’s at $25 million? Lets write that out;

        $2 5 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 and no chest:)

        • Rick

          Get the point this was a X fighter pilot his idea of danger even at 79 would be just a little steeper of a challenge then some might expect… You have a level head SIr…

          • pieces9, when ff was a fighter pilot was the AF still feeding them ration D bars? could be a couple of connections, one to below HOB, or Eric Sloane advertising art, or the Pennsylvania mystery in totc.

    • IG – been waiting for your reply. What’s the story – do you have it or not? Have you been back to your location? We’re flapping in the breeze here.

  23. Forrest…..I would like to offer you some Tobacco. Your story is quite compelling. Are you sure beaver was the sidekick or was it the other way around. It is a very interesting tale . Ta-kun -ta was a wise Indian that had some good brothers he spent time with that may have put him in his place of understanding. maybe he was a great spiritual leader. Da-Ko-Ta have a saying that things are done in four.

  24. “Each panel in the cartoon had a taste for overstatement and seemed to bounce at me with six-gun bluster. It was great make-believe.”

    Funny I did the same, mine was a daisy air rifle seemed I was always aiming low but I did get a few of those Robins.

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