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Full text of "Hunting the grisly and other sketches"

COTRI3HT 1902 BY JAMES SUYDAM 



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^ometoarb iiSounb Cbitton 

HUNTING THE GRISLY 
AND OTHER SKETCHES 



BY 



THEODORE ROOSEVELT 




PUBLISHED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE 
AUTHOR THUOUGH SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT 
WITH THE CENTURY CO., MESSRS. CHARLES 

SCRIBNER S SONS, AND G. p. PUTNAM S SONS 



NEW YORK 
THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY 

M C M X 



COPYRIGHT 1893 
Bv G. P. PUTNAM S SONS 



This edition is published under arrangement with 
G. P. Putnam s Sons, of New York and London, 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO 

Extermination of the Bison My Brother and Cousin 
Take a Hunting Trip in Texas Hardships Hunting 
on the Brazos Many Buffalo Slain Following Four 
Bulls A Stampede Splitting the Herd Occasional 
Charges A Comanche War Party Great Herds on 
the Arkansas Adventure of Clarence King The 
Bison of the Mountains At the Vanishing Point A 
Hunt for Mountain Bison A Trail Discovered Skil 
ful Tracking A Band of Six Death of the Bull A 
Camp in the Canyon 3 

CHAPTER II 

THE BLACK BEAR 

Habits of the Black Bear Holds His Own Well in the 
Land The Old Hunters Hunting Bear with Dogs 
General Hampton s Hunting Black Bear at Bay A 
Bear Catching Mice and Chipmunks Occasional Raids 
on the Farmyard Their Weight Those I Have 
Killed 37 

CHAPTER III 

OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR 

The King of American Game Varieties of the Grisly 
Worthlessness of Old Hunters Opinions Grisly Con 
trasted with Black Bear Size Habits in Old Times 
Habits Nowadays Hibernating Cattle Killing 



248026 



Contents 



Horse Killing Range Cow Repels Bear Bear Kills 
Sheep and Hogs Occasional Raids on Game Killing 
Bison, Elk, and Moose Eats Carrion Old Hes Some 
times Kill Cubs Usually Eats Roots and Vegetables 
Fondness for Berries Its Foes Den Fond of Wal 
lowing Shes and Cubs Trapping Bears Hunting 
Them with Dogs Ordinarily Killed with Rifle ... 50 

CHAPTER IV 

HUNTING THE GRISLY 

Camp in the Mountains After the First Snow Trailing 
and Stalking a Big Bear His Death Lying in Camp 
Stalking and Shooting a Bear at a Moose Carcass 
Lying in Wait for a Bear by a Dead Elk He Comes 
Late in the Evening Is Killed A Successful Hunt 
ing Trip A Quarrel I Start Home Alone Get Lost 
on Second Day Shot at a Grisly His Resolute 
Charge and Death Danger in Hunting the Grisly 
Exaggerated, but Real Rogers Charged Difference 
in Ferocity in Different Bears Dr. Merrill s Queer 
Experience Tazewell Woody s Adventures Vari 
ous Ways in which Bears Attack Examples Men 
Maimed and Slain Instances Mr. Whitney s Ex 
perience A Bear Killed on the Round-up Ferocity 
of Old-time Bears Occasional Unprovoked Attacks 
A French Trapper Attacked Cowboys and Bears 
Killing Them with a Revolver Feat of General 
Jackson .92 

CHAPTER V 

THE COUGAR 

Difficulty of Killing the Cougar My Own Failures Kill 
One in the Mountains Hunting the Cougar with 
Hounds Experience of General Wade Hampton and 
Col. Cecil Clay "Hold on, Penny" What the Cou 
gar Preys On Its Haunts Its Calls Rarely Turns 
on Man Occasionally Dangerous Instances . . .145 



Contents 



CHAPTER VI 

A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES 

Trip in Southern Texas A Ranch on the Frio Rop 
ing Cattle Extermination of the Peccary Odd Habits 
Occasionally Attacks Unprovoked We Drive South 
to the Nueces Flower Prairies Semi-tropical Land 
scape Hunting on Horseback Half-blood Hounds 
Find a Small Band of Peccaries Kill Two How They 
Act When at Bay Their Occasional Freaks . . . .162 

CHAPTER VII 

HUNTING WITH HOUNDS 

31d-time Hunters Rarely Used Dogs The Packs of the 
Southern Planters Coursing in the West Hunting 
with Greyhounds Near My Ranch Jack-rabbits, 
Foxes, Coyotes, Antelopes, and Deer An Original 
Sportsman of the Prairies Colonel Williams Grey 
hounds Riding on the Plains Cross-country Riding 
Fox-hunting at Geneseo A Day with Mr. Wads- 
worth s Hounds The Meadowbrook Drag Hounds 
High Jumping A Meet at Sagamore Hill Fox 
hunting and Fetichism Prejudices of Sportsmen, 
Foreign and Native Different Styles of Riding . .179 

CHAPTER VIII 

WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS 

The Wolf Contrasted with Coyote Variations in Color 
Former Abundance The Riddle of Its Extermina 
tion Inexplicable Differences in Habits Between 
Closely Related Species Size of Wolf Animals 
Upon Which It Preys Attacking Cattle; Horses; 
Other Animals; Foxes, Dogs, and Even Coyotes 
Runs Down Deer and Antelope Coyotes Catch Jack- 
rabbits Wolves Around Camp A Wolf Shot Wolf- 
Hunting with Hounds An Overmatch for Most Dogs 
Decimating a Pack Coursing Wolves with Grey- 
VOL. in. i 



Contents 



hounds A Hunt in the Foot-hills Rousing the 
Wolves The Chase The Worry Death of Both 
Wolves Wolf Hounds Near Fort Benton Other 
Packs The Sun River Hounds Their Notable 
Feats Colonel Williams Hounds 213 

CHAPTER IX 

IN COWBOY LAND 

Development of Archaic Types of Character Cowboys 
and Hunters Rough Virtues and Faults Incidents 
Hunting a Horse-thief Tale of the Ending of a 
Desperado Light-hearted Way of Regarding "Broke 
Horses" Hardness of the Life- -Deaths from Many 
Causes Fight of Indians with Trappers The Slay 
ing of the Medicine Chief Sword-Bearer Mad Feat 
and Death of Two Cheyenne Braves ...... 248 



HUNTING THE GRISLY 
CHAPTER I 

THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO 

A A 7 HEN we became a nation, in 1776, the 
* * buffaloes, the first animals to vanish 
when the wilderness is settled, roved to the 
crests of the mountains which mark the west 
ern boundaries of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and 
the Carolinas. They were plentiful in what 
are now the States of Ohio, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee. But by the beginning of the pres 
ent century they had been driven beyond the 
Mississippi ; and for the next eighty years they 
formed one of the most distinctive and char 
acteristic features of existence on the great 
plains. Their numbers were countless in 
credible. In vast herds of hundreds of thou 
sands of individuals, they roamed from the 
Saskatchewan to the Rio Grande and west 
ward to the Rocky Mountains. They fur 
nished all the means of livelihood to the tribes 
of Horse Indians, and to the curious popu- 

(3) 



4 Hunting the Grisly 

lation of French Metis, or Half-breeds, on the 
Red River, as well as to those dauntless and 
archetypical wanderers, the white hunters and 
trappers. Their numbers slowly diminished, 
but the decrease was very gradual until after 
the Civil War. They were not destroyed by 
the settlers, but by the railways and the skin 
hunters. 

After the ending of the Civil War, the work 
of constructing trans-continental railway lines 
was pushed forward with the utmost vigor. 
These supplied cheap and indispensable, but 
hitherto wholly lacking, means of transporta 
tion to the hunters; and at the same time the 
demand for buffalo robes and hides became 
very great, while the enormous numbers of 
the beasts, and the comparative ease with 
which they were slaughtered, attracted 
throngs of adventurers. The result was such 
a slaughter of big game as the world had never 
before seen; never before were so many large 
animals of one species destroyed in so short a 
time. Several million buffaloes were slain. 
In fifteen years from the time the destruction 
fairly began the great herds were extermi 
nated. In all probability there are not now, 
all told, five hundred head of wild buffaloes 
on the American continent; and no herd of 



The Bison or American Buffalo 5 

a hundred individuals has been in existence 
since 1884. 

The first great break followed the building 
of the Union Pacific Railway. All the buffa 
loes of the middle region were then destroyed, 
and the others were split into two vast sets of 
herds, the northern and the southern. The 
latter were destroyed first, about 1878 ; the for 
mer not until 1883. My own chief experience 
with buffaloes was obtained in the latter year, 
among small bands and scattered individuals, 
near my ranch on the Little Missouri; I have 
related it elsewhere. But two of my kinsmen 
were more fortunate and took part in the chase 
of these lordly beasts when the herds still 
darkened the prairie as far as the eye could 
see. 

During the first two months of 1877, my 
brother Elliott, then a lad not seventeen years 
old, made a buffalo-hunt toward the edge of 
the Staked Plains in northern Texas. He was 
thus in at the death of the southern herds; for 
all, save a few scattering bands, were de 
stroyed within two years of this time. He was 
with my cousin, John Roosevelt, and they went 
out on the range with six other adventurers. 
It was a party of just such young men as fre 
quently drift to the frontier. All were short 



6 Hunting the Grisly 

of cash, and all were hardy, vigorous fellows, 
eager for excitement and adventure. My 
brother was much the youngest of the party, 
and the least experienced; but he was well- 
grown, strong and healthy, and very fond of 
boxing, wrestling, running, riding, and shoot 
ing; moreover, he had served an apprentice 
ship in hunting deer and turkeys. Their mess- 
kit, ammunition, bedding, and provisions 
were carried in two prairie-wagons, each 
drawn by four horses. In addition to the 
teams they had six saddle-animals all of 
them shaggy, unkempt mustangs. Three or 
four dogs, setters and half-bred greyhounds, 
trotted along behind the wagons. Each man 
took his turn for two days as teamster and 
cook; and there were always two with the 
wagons, or camp, as the case might be, while 
the other six were off hunting, usually in 
couples. The expedition was undertaken 
partly for sport and partly with the hope of 
profit; for, after purchasing the horses and 
wagons, none of the party had any money left, 
and they were forced to rely upon selling skins 
and hides, and when near the forts, meat. 

They started on January 2d, and shaped 
their course for the head-waters of the Salt 
Fork of the Brazos, the centre of abundance 



The Bison or American Buffalo 7 

for the great buffalo herds. During the first 
few days they were in the outskirts of the set 
tled country, and shot only small game quail 
and prairie fowl ; then they began to kill tur 
key, deer, and antelope. These they swapped 
for flour and feed at the ranches or squalid, 
straggling frontier towns. On several occa 
sions the hunters were lost, spending the night 
out in the open, or sleeping at a ranch, if 
one was found. Both towns and ranches 
were filled with rough customers; all of my 
brother s companions were muscular, hot 
headed fellows; and as a consequence they 
were involved in several savage free fights, in 
which, fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt, 
My brother kept a very brief diary, the entries 
being fairly startling from their conciseness. 
A number of times the mention of their ar 
rival, either at a halting-place, a little village, 
or a rival buffalo-camp, is followed by the 
laconic ramark, "big fight," or "big row"; 
but once they evidently concluded discretion 
to be the better part of valor, the entry for 
January 2Oth being, "On the road passed 
through Belknap too lively, so kept on to the 
Brazos very late." The buffalo-camps in 
particular were very jealous of one another, 
each party regarding itself as having exclu- 



8 Hunting the Grisly 

sive right to the range it was the first to find ; 
and on several occasions this feeling came near 
involving my brother and his companions in 
serious trouble. 

While slowly driving the heavy wagons to 
the hunting grounds they suffered the usual 
hardships of plains travel. The weather, as 
in most Texas winters, alternated between the 
extremes of heat and cold. There had been 
little rain; in consequence water was scarce. 
Twice they were forced to cross wild, barren 
wastes, where the pools had dried up, and 
they suffered terribly from thirst. On the 
first occasion the horses were in good condi 
tion, and they traveled steadily, with only oc 
casional short halts, for over thirty-six hours, 
by which time they were across the waterless 
country. The journal reads: "January 2710. 
Big hunt no water, and we left QuiniVs 
blockhouse this morning 3 A.M. on the go 
all night hot. January 28. No water hot 
at seven we struck water, and by eight Stink 
ing Creek grand hurrah. On the second 
occasion, the horses were weak and traveled 
slowly, so the party went forty-eight hours 
without drinking. "February igth. Pulled 
on twenty-one miles trail bad freezing 
night, no water, and wolves after our fresh 



The Bison or American Buffalo 9 

meat. 20. Made nineteen miles over prairie ; 
again only mud, no water, freezing hard- 
frightful thirst. 2 1 St. Thirty miles to Clear 
Fork, fresh water." These entries were hur 
riedly jotted down at the time, by a boy who 
deemed it unmanly to make any especial note 
of hardship or suffering; but every plainsman 
will understand the real agony implied in 
working hard for two nights, one day, and 
portions of two others, without water, even in 
cool weather. During the last few miles the 
staggering horses were only just able to drag 
the lightly loaded wagon for they had but 
one with them at the time while the men 
plodded along in sullen silence, their mouths 
so parched that they could hardly utter a 
word. My own hunting and ranching were 
done in the North where there is more water; 
so I have never had a similar experience. 
Once I took a team in thirty-six hours across 
a country where there was no water; but by 
good luck it rained heavily in the night, so 
that the horses had plenty of wet grass, and I 
caught the rain in my slicker, and so had 
enough water for myself. Personally, I have 
but once been as long as twenty-six hours with 
out water. 

The party pitched their permanent camp 



io Hunting the Grisly 

in a canyon of the Brazos known as Canyon 
Blanco. The last few days of their journey 
they traveled beside the river through a ver 
itable hunter s paradise. The drought had 
forced all the animals to come to the larger 
water-courses, and the country was literally 
swarming with game. Every day, and all 
day long, the wagons traveled through the 
herds of antelopes that grazed on every side, 
while, whenever they approached the canyon 
brink, bands of deer started from the timber 
that fringed the river s course; often, even 
the deer wandered out on the prairie with the 
antelope. Nor was the game shy ; for the hunt 
ers, both red and white, followed only the 
buffaloes, until the huge, shaggy herds were 
destroyed, and the smaller beasts were in con 
sequence but little molested. 

Once my brother shot five antelopes from 
a single stand, when the party were short of 
fresh venison; he was out of sight and to 
leeward, and the antelopes seemed confused 
rather than alarmed at the rifle-reports and the 
fall of their companions. As was to be ex 
pected where game was so plenty, wolves and 
coyotes also abounded. At night they sur 
rounded the camp, wailing and howling in a 
kind of shrieking chorus throughout the hours 



The Bison or American Buffalo n 

of darkness; one night they came up so close 
that the frightened horses had to be hobbled 
and guarded. On another occasion a large 
wolf actually crept into camp, where he was 
seized by the dogs, and the yelling, writhing 
knot of combatants rolled over one of the 
sleepers; finally, the long-toothed prowler 
managed to shake himself loose, and vanished 
in the gloom. One evening they were almost 
as much startled by a visit of a different kind. 
They were just finishing supper when an In 
dian stalked suddenly and silently out of the 
surrounding darkness, squatted down in the 
circle of firelight, remarked gravely, "Me 
Tonk," and began helping himself from the 
stew. He belonged to the friendly tribe of 
Tonkaways, so his hosts speedily recovered 
their equanimity; as for him, he had never 
lost his, and he sat eating by the fire until 
there was literally nothing left to eat. The 
panic caused by his appearance was natural; 
for at that time the Comanches were a scourge 
to the buffalo-hunters, ambushing them and 
raiding their camps; and several bloody fights 
had taken place. 

Their camp had been pitched near a deep 
pool or water-hole. On both sides the bluffs 
rose like walls, and where they had crumbled 



12 Hunting the Grisly 

and lost their sheerness, the vast buffalo herds, 
passing and repassing for countless genera 
tions, had worn furrowed trails so deep that 
the backs of the beasts were but little above 
the surrounding soil. In the bottom, and in 
places along the crests of the cliffs that 
hemmed in the canyon-like valley, there were 
groves of tangled trees, tenanted by great 
flocks of wild turkeys. Once my brother 
made two really remarkable shots at a pair 
of these great birds. It was at dusk, and they 
were flying directly overhead from one cliff 
to the other. He had in his hand a thirty- 
eight calibre Ballard rifle, and, as the gob 
blers winged their way heavily by, he brought 
both down with two successive bullets. This 
was of course mainly a piece of mere luck; but 
it meant good shooting, too. The Ballard 
was a very accurate, handy little weapon; it 
belonged to me, and was the first rifle I ever 
owned or used. With it I had once killed 
a deer, the only specimen of large game I had 
then shot; and I presented the rifle to my 
brother when he w r ent to Texas. In our happy 
ignorance we deemed it quite good enough 
for buffalo or anything else; but out on the 
plains my brother soon found himself forced 
to procure a heavier and more deadly weapon. 



The Bison or American Buffalo 13 

When camp was pitched the horses were 
turned loose to graze and refresh themselves 
after their trying journey, during which they 
had lost flesh wofully. They were watched 
and tended by the two men who were always 
left in camp, and, save on rare occasions, were 
only used to haul in the buffalo hides. The 
camp-guards for the time being acted as cooks; 
and, though coffee and flour both ran short 
and finally gave out, fresh meat of every kind 
was abundant. The camp was never without 
buffalo-beef, deer, and antelope venison, wild 
turkeys, prairie-chickens, quails, ducks, and 
rabbits. The birds were simply "potted," as 
occasion required; when the quarry was deer 
or antelope, the hunters took the dogs with 
them to run down the wounded animals. But 
almost the entire attention of the hunters was 
given to the buffalo. After an evening spent 
in lounging round the camp-fire and a sound 
night s sleep, wrapped in robes and blankets, 
they would get up before daybreak, snatch a 
hurried breakfast, and start off in couples 
through the chilly dawn. The great beasts 
were very plentiful; in the first day s hunt 
twenty were slain; but the herds were restless 
and ever on the move. Sometimes they would 
be seen right by the camp, and again it would 



14 Hunting the Grisly 

need an all-day s tramp to find them. There 
was no difficulty in spying them the chief 
trouble with forest game; for on the prairie 
a buffalo makes no effort to hide and its black, 
shaggy bulk looms up as far as the eye can 
see. Sometimes they were found in small 
parties of three or four individuals, sometimes 
in bands of about two hundred, and again in 
great herds of many thousands; and solitary 
old bulls, expelled from the herds, were com 
mon. If on broken land, among hills and ra 
vines, there was not much difficulty in ap 
proaching from the leeward ; for, though the 
sense of smell in the buffalo is very acute, they 
do not see well at a distance through their 
overhanging frontlets of coarse and matted 
hair. If, as was generally the case, they were 
out on the open, rolling prairie, the stalking 
was far more difficult. Every hollow, every 
earth hummock and sagebush had to be used 
as cover. The hunter wriggled through the 
grass flat on his face, pushing himself along 
for perhaps a quarter of a mile by his toes 
and fingers, heedless of the spiny cactus. 
When near enough to the huge, unconscious 
quarry the hunter began firing, still keeping 
himself carefully concealed. If the smoke 
was blown away by the wind, and if the buf- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 15 

faloes caught no glimpse of the assailant, they 
would often stand motionless and stupid until 
many of their number had been slain, the 
hunter being careful not to fire too high, aim 
ing just behind the shoulder, about a third 
of the way up the body, that his bullet might 
go through the lungs. Sometimes, even after 
they saw the man, they would act as if con 
fused and panic-struck, huddling together and 
staring at the smoke puffs ; but generally they 
were off at a lumbering gallop as soon as they 
had an idea of the point of danger. When 
once started, they ran for many miles before 
halting, and their pursuit on foot was ex 
tremely laborious. 

One morning my cousin and brother had 
been left in camp as guards. They were sit 
ting idly warming themselves in the first sun 
beams, when their attention was sharply drawn 
to four buffaloes that were coming to the pool 
to drink. The beasts came down a game trail, 
a deep rut in the bluff, fronting where they 
were sitting, and they did not dare to stir for 
fear of being discovered. The buffaloes 
walked into the pool, and after drinking their 
fill, stood for some time with the water run 
ning out of their mouths, idly lashing their 
sides with their short tails, enjoying the bright 



1 6 Hunting the Grisly 

warmth of the early sunshine ; then, with much 
splashing and the gurgling of soft mud, they 
left the pool and clambered up the bluff with 
unwieldy agility. As soon as they turned, 
my brother and cousin ran for their rifles, 
but before they got back the buffaloes had 
crossed the bluff crest. Climbing after them, 
the two hunters found, when they reached the 
summit, that their game, instead of halting, 
had struck straight off across the prairie at 
a slow lope, doubtless intending to rejoin the 
herd they had left. After a moment s consul 
tation the men went in pursuit, excitement 
overcoming their knowledge that they ought 
not, by rights, to leave camp. They struck a 
steady trot, following the animals by sight 
until they passed over a knoll, and then trail 
ing them. Where the grass was long, as it 
was for the first four or five miles, this was a 
work of no difficulty, and they did not break 
their gait, only glancing now and then at the 
trail. As the sun rose and the day became 
warm, their breathing grew quicker; and the 
sweat rolled off their faces as they ran across 
the rough prairie sward, up and down the 
long inclines, now and then shifting their 
heavy rifles from one shoulder to the other. 
But they were in good training, and they did 



The Bison or American Buffalo 17 

not have to halt. At last they reached stretches 
of bare ground, sun-baked and grassless, where 
the trail grew dim; and here they had to go 
very slowly, carefully examining the faint 
dents and marks made in the soil by the heavy 
hoofs, and unraveling the trail from the mass 
of old footmarks. It was tedious work, but it 
enabled them to completely recover their 
breath by the time that they again struck the 
grassland; and but a few hundred yards from 
its edge, in a slight hollow, they saw the four 
buffaloes just entering a herd of fifty or sixty 
that were scattered out grazing. The herd 
paid no attention to the new-comers, and these 
immediately began to feed greedily. After 
a whispered consultation, the two hunters crept 
back, and made a long circle that brought 
them well to leeward of the herd, in line with 
a slight rise in the ground. They then crawled 
up to this rise and, peering through the tufts 
of tall, rank grass, saw the unconscious beasts 
a hundred and twenty-five or fifty yards away. 
They fired together, each mortally wounding 
his animal, and then, rushing in as the herd 
halted in confusion, and following them as 
they ran, impeded by numbers, hurry, and 
panic, they eventually got three more. 
On another occasion the same two hunters 



1 8 Hunting the Grisly 

nearly met with a frightful death, being over 
taken by a vast herd of stampeded buffaloes. 
All animals that go in herds are subject to 
these instantaneous attacks of uncontrollable 
terror, under the influence of which they be 
come perfectly mad, and rush headlong in 
dense masses on any form of death. Horses, 
and more especially cattle, often suffer from 
stampedes; it is a danger against which the 
cowboys are compelled to be perpetually on 
guard. A band of stampeded horses, sweep 
ing in mad terror up a valley, will dash against 
a rock or tree with such violence as to leave 
several dead animals at its base, while the 
survivors race on without halting; they will 
overturn and destroy tents and wagons, and 
a man on foot caught in the rush has but a 
small chance for his life. A buffalo stampede 
is much worse or rather was much worse, in 
the old days because of the great weight 
and immense numbers of the beasts, which, 
in a fury of heedless terror, plunged over 
cliffs and into rivers, and bore down whatever 
was in their path. On the occasion in ques 
tion, my brother and cousin were on their way 
homeward. They were just mounting one of 
the long, low swells, into which the prairie 
was broken, when they heard a low, mutter- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 19 

ing, rumbling noise, like far-off thunder. It 
grew steadily louder, and, not knowing what 
it meant, they hurried forward to the top of 
the rise. As they reached it, they stopped 
short in terror and amazement, for before 
them the whole prairie was black with madly 
rushing buffaloes. 

Afterward they learned that another couple 
of hunters, four or five miles off, had fired 
into and stampeded a large herd. This herd, 
in its rush, gathered others, all thundering 
along together in uncontrollable and increas 
ing panic. 

The surprised hunters were far away from 
any broken ground or other place of refuge, 
while the vast herd of huge, plunging, mad 
dened beasts was charging straight down on 
them not a quarter of a mile distant. Down 
they came! thousands upon thousands, their 
front extending a mile in breadth, while the 
earth shook beneath their thunderous gallop, 
and, as they came closer, their shaggy front 
lets loomed dimly through the columns of 
dust thrown up from the dry soil. The two 
hunters knew that their only hope for life was 
to split the herd, which, though it had so broad 
a front, was not very deep. If they failed they 
would inevitably be trampled to death. 



2o Hunting the Grisly 

Waiting until the beasts were in close range, 
they opened a rapid fire from their heavy 
breech-loading rifles, yelling at the top of 
their voices. For a moment the result seemed 
doubtful. The line thundered steadily down 
on them; then it swayed violently, as two or 
three of the brutes immediately in their front 
fell beneath the bullets, while their neighbors 
made violent efforts to press off sidewise. 
Then a narrow wedge-shaped rift appeared in 
the line, widening as it came closer, and the 
buffaloes, shrinking from their foes in front, 
strove desperately to edge away from the dan 
gerous neighborhood: shouts and shots were 
redoubled; the hunters were almost choked 
by the cloud of dust, through which they could 
see the stream of dark huge bodies passing 
within rifle-length on either side; and in a 
moment the peril was over, and the two men 
were left alone on the plain, unharmed, though 
with their nerves terribly shaken. The herd 
careered on toward the horizon, save five in 
dividuals which had been killed or disabled 
by the shots. 

On another occasion, when my brother was 
out with one of his friends, they fired at a 
small herd containing an old bull; the bull 
charged the smoke, and the whole herd fol- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 21 

lowed him. Probably they were simply stam 
peded, and had no hostile intention; at any 
rate, after the death of their leader, they 
rushed by without doing any damage. 

But buffaloes sometimes charged with the 
utmost determination, and were then danger 
ous antagonists. My cousin, a very hardy and 
resolute hunter, had a narrow escape from a 
wounded cow which he followed up a steep 
bluff or sand cliff. Just as he reached the 
summit, he was charged, and was only saved 
by the sudden appearance of his dog, which 
distracted the cow s attention. He thus es 
caped with only a tumble and a few bruises. 

My brother also came in for a charge, while 
killing the biggest bull that was slain by any 
of the party. He was out alone, and saw a 
small herd of cows and calves at some dis 
tance, with a huge bull among them, towering 
above them like a giant. There was no break 
in the ground, nor any tree nor bush near 
them, but, by making a half-circle, my brother 
managed to creep up against the wind behind 
a slight roll in the prairie surface, until he 
was within seventy-five yards of the grazing 
and unconscious beasts. There were some 
cows and calves between him and the bull, 
and he had to wait some moments before they 



22 Hunting the Grisly 

shifted position, as the herd grazed onward 
and gave him a fair shot; in the interval they 
had moved so far forward that he was in plain 
view. His first bullet struck just behind the 
shoulder; the herd started and looked around, 
but the bull merely lifted his head and took a 
step forward, his tail curled up over his back. 
The next bullet likewise struck fair, nearly 
in the same place, telling with a loud "pack!" 
against the thick hide, and making the dust 
fly up from the matted hair. Instantly the 
great bull wheeled and charged in headlong 
anger, while the herd fled in the opposite di 
rection. On the bare prairie, with no spot of 
refuge, it was useless to try to escape, and the 
hunter, with reloaded rifle, waited until the 
bull was not far off, then drew up his weapon 
and fired. Either he was nervous, or the bull 
at the moment bounded over some obstacle, 
for the ball went a little wild ; nevertheless, by 
good luck, it broke a fore-leg, and the great 
beast came crashing to the earth, and was slain 
before it could struggle to its feet. 

Two days after this event, a war party of 
Comanches swept down along the river. They 
"jumped" a neighboring camp, killing one 
man and wounding two more, and at the same 
time ran off all but three of the horses belong- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 23 

ing to our eight adventurers. With the re 
maining three horses and one wagon they set 
out homeward. The march was hard and te 
dious ; they lost their way and were in jeopardy 
from quicksands and cloudbursts; they suf 
fered from thirst and cold, their shoes gave 
out, and their feet were lamed by cactus spines. 
At last they reached Fort Griffen in safety, and 
great was their ravenous rejoicing when they 
procured some bread for during the final 
fortnight of the hunt they had been without 
flour or vegetables of any kind, or even coffee, 
and had subsisted on fresh meat "straight." 
Nevertheless, it was a very healthy, as well as 
a very pleasant and exciting experience; and I 
doubt if any of those who took part in it will 
ever forget their great buffalo-hunt on the 
Brazos. 

My friend, General W. H. Walker of Vir 
ginia, had an experience in the early ^o s with 
buffaloes on the upper Arkansas River, which 
gives some idea of their enormous numbers at 
that time. He was camped with a scouting 
party on the banks of the river, and had gone 
out to try to shoot some meat. There were 
many buffaloes in sight, scattered, according 
to their custom, in large bands. When he 
was a mile or two away from the river a dull 



24 Hunting the Grisly 

roaring sound in the distance attracted his 
attention, and he saw that a herd of buffalo 
far to the south, away from the river, had been 
stampeded and was running his way. He 
knew that if he was caught in the open by the 
stampeded herd his chance for life would be 
small, and at once ran for the river. By des 
perate efforts he reached the breaks in the 
sheer banks just as the buffaloes reached them, 
and got into a position of safety on the pin 
nacle of a little bluff. From this point of van 
tage he could see the entire plain. To the 
very verge of the horizon the brown masses 
of the buffalo bands showed through the dust 
clouds, coming on with a thunderous roar like 
that of surf. Camp was a mile away, and the 
stampede luckily passed to one sjide of it. 
Watching his chance he finally dodged back 
to the tent, and all that afternoon watched the 
immense masses of buffalo, as band after band 
tore to the brink of the bluffs on one side, raced 
down them, rushed through the water, up the 
bluffs on the other side, and again off over the 
plain, churning the sandy, shallow stream into 
a ceaseless tumult. When darkness fell there 
was no apparent decrease in the numbers that 
were passing, and all through that night the 
continuous roar showed that the herds were 



The Bison or American Buffalo 25 

still threshing across the river. Toward dawn 
the sound at last ceased, and General Walker 
arose somewhat irritated, as he had reckoned 
on killing an ample supply of meat, and he 
supposed that there would be now no bison 
left south of the riven To his astonishment, 
when he strolled up on the bluffs and looked 
over the plain, it was still covered far and 
wide with groups of buffalo, grazing quietly. 
Apparently there were as many on that side 
as ever, in spite of the many scores of thou 
sands that must have crossed over the river 
during the stampede of the afternoon and 
night. The barren-ground caribou is the only 
American animal which is now ever seen in 
such enormous herds. 

In 1862 Mr. Clarence King, while riding 
along the overland trail through western Kan 
sas, passed through a great buffalo herd, and 
was himself injured in an encounter with a 
bull. The great herd was then passing north, 
and Mr. King reckoned that it must have cov 
ered an area nearly seventy miles by thirty in 
extent; the figures representing his rough 
guess, made after traveling through the herd 
crosswise, and upon knowing how long it took 
to pass a given point going northward. This 
great herd of course was not a solid mass of 

VOL. III. a 



26 Hunting the Grisly 

buffaloes; it consisted of innumerable bands 
of every size, dotting the prairie within the 
limits given. Mr. King was mounted on a 
somewhat unmanageable horse. On one oc 
casion in following a band he wounded a large 
bull, and became so wedged in by the mad 
dened animals that he was unable to avoid 
the charge of the bull, which was at its last 
gasp. Coming straight toward him it leaped 
into the air and struck the afterpart of tbe 
saddle full with its massive forehead. The 
horse was hurled to the ground with a broken 
back, and King s leg was likewise broken, 
while the bull turned a complete somerset 
over them and never rose again. 

In the recesses of the Rocky Mountains, 
from Colorado northward through Alberta, 
and in the depths of the subarctic forest be 
yond the Saskatchewan, there have always 
been found small numbers of the bison, locally 
called the mountain buffalo and wood buffalo ; 
often indeed the old hunters term these ani 
mals "bison," although they never speak of 
the plains animals save as buffalo. They form 
a slight variety of what was formerly the or 
dinary plains bison, intergrading with it; on 
the whole they are darker in color, with 
longer, thicker hair, and in consequence with 



The Bison or American Buffalo 27 

the appearance of being heavier-bodied and 
shorter-legged. They have been sometimes 
spoken of as forming a separate species; but, 
judging from my own limited experience, and 
from a comparison of the many hides I have 
seen, I think they are really the same animal, 
many individuals of the two- so-called varie 
ties being quite indistinguishable. In fact the 
only moderate-sized herd of wild bison in ex 
istence to-day, the protected herd in the Yel 
lowstone Park, is composed of animals inter 
mediate in habits and coat between the moun 
tain and plains varieties as were all the herds 
of the Bighorn, Big Hole, Upper Madison, 
and Upper Yellowstone valleys. 

However, the habitat of these wood and 
mountain bison yielded them shelter from 
hunters in a way that the plains never could, 
and hence they have always been harder to 
kill in the one place than in the other; for pre 
cisely the same reasons that have held good 
with the elk, which have been completely ex 
terminated from the plains, while still abun 
dant in many of the forest fastnesses of the 
Rockies. Moreover, the bison s dull eyesight 
is no special harm in the woods, while it is 
peculiarly hurtful to the safety of any beast 
on the plains, where eyesight avails more than 



28 Hunting the Grisly 

any other sense, the true game of the plains 
being the prong-buck, the most keen-sighted 
of American animals. On the other hand, the 
bison s hearing, of little avail on the plains, is 
of much assistance in the woods; and its ex 
cellent nose helps equally in both places. 

Though it was always more difficult to kill 
the bison of the forests and mountains than 
the bison of the prairie, yet now that the 
species is, in its wild state, hovering on the 
brink of extinction, the difficulty is immeasur 
ably increased. A merciless and terrible proc 
ess of natural selection, in which the agents 
were rifle-bearing hunters, has left as the last 
survivors in a hopeless struggle for existence 
only the wariest of the bison and those gifted 
with the sharpest senses. That this was true 
of the last lingering individuals that survived 
the great slaughter on the plains is well shown 
by Mr. Hornaday in his graphic account of 
his campaign against the few scattered buffalo 
which still lived in 1886 between the Missouri 
and the Yellowstone, along the Big Dry. The 
bison of the plains and the prairies have now 
vanished; and so few of their brethren of the 
mountains and the northern forests are left, 
that they can just barely be reckoned among 
American game; but whoever is so fortunate 



The Bison or American Buffalo 29 

as to find any of these animals must work his 
hardest, and show all his skill as a hunter if 
he wishes to get one. 

In the fall of 1889 I heard that a very few 
bison were still left around the head of Wis 
dom River. Thither I went and hunted faith 
fully; there was plenty of game of other kind, 
but of bison not a trace did we see. Neverthe 
less a few days later that same year I came 
across these great wild cattle at a time when 
I had no idea of seeing them. 

It was, as nearly as we could tell, in Idaho, 
just south of the Montana boundary line, and 
some twenty-five miles west of the line of 
Wyoming. We were camped high among the 
mountains, with a small pack-train. On the 
day in question we had gone out to find moose, 
but had seen no sign of them, and had then 
begun to climb over the higher peaks with an 
idea of getting sheep. The old hunter who 
was with me was, very fortunately, suffering 
from rheumatism, and he therefore carried a 
long staff instead of his rifle ; I say fortunately, 
for if he had carried his rifle it would have 
been impossible to stop his firing at such game 
as bison, nor would he have spared the cows 
and calves. 

About the middle of the afternoon we 



30 Hunting the Grisly 

crossed a low, rocky ridge, above timber line, 
and saw at our feet a basin or round valley 
of singular beauty. Its walls were formed by 
steep mountains. At its upper end lay a small 
lake, bordered on one side by a meadow of 
emerald green. The lake s other side marked 
the edge of the frowning pine forest which 
filled the rest of the valley, and hung high 
on the sides of the gorge which formed its 
outlet. Beyond the lake the ground rose in 
a pass evidently much frequented by game in 
bygone days, their trails lying along it in thick 
zigzags, each gradually fading out after a few 
hundred yards, and then starting again in a 
little different place, as game trails so often 
seem to do. 

We bent our steps toward these trails, and 
no sooner had we reached the first than the 
old hunter bent over it with a sharp excla 
mation of wonder. There in the dust were 
the unmistakable hoof-marks of a small band 
of bison, apparently but a few hours old. They 
were headed toward the lake. There had 
been half a dozen animals in the party; one 
a big bull, and two calves. 

We immediately turned and followed the 
trail. It led down to the little lake, where 
the beasts had spread and grazed on the ten- 



The Bison or American Buffalo 31 

der, green blades, and had drunk their fill. 
The footprints then came together again, 
showing where the animals had gathered and 
walked off in single file to the forest. Evi 
dently they had come to the pool in the early 
morning, walking over the game pass from 
some neighboring valley, and after drinking 
and feeding had moved into the pine forest 
to find some spot for their noontide rest. 

It was a very still day, and there were nearly 
three hours of daylight left. Without a word 
my silent companion, who had been scanning 
the whole country with hawk-eyed eagerness, 
besides scrutinizing the sign on his hands and 
knees, took the trail, motioning me to follow. 
In a moment we entered the woods, breathing 
a sigh of relief as we did so; for while in the 
meadow we could never tell that the buffalo 
might not see us, if they happened to be lying 
in some place with a commanding lookout. 

The old hunter was thoroughly roused, and 
he showed himself a very skilful tracker. We 
were much favored by the character of the 
forest, which was rather open, and in most 
places free from undergrowth and down tim 
ber. As in most Rocky Mountain forests the 
timber was small, not only as compared to the 
giant trees of the groves of the Pacific Coast, 



32 Hunting the Grisly 

but as compared to the forests of the North 
east. The ground was covered with pine 
needles and soft moss, so that it was not diffi 
cult to walk noiselessly. Once or twice when 
I trod on a small dry twig, or let the nails in 
my shoes clink slightly against a stone, the 
hunter turned to me with a frown of angry im 
patience; but as he walked slowly, continually 
halting to look ahead, as well as stooping over 
to examine the trail, I did not find it very dif 
ficult to move silently. I kept a little behind 
him and to one side, save when he crouched to 
take advantage of some piece of cover, and 
I crept in his footsteps. I did not look at the 
trail at all, but kept watching ahead, hoping 
at any moment to see the game. 

It was not very long before we struck their 
day beds, which were made on a knoll, where 
the forest was open and w r here there was much 
down timber. After leaving the day beds the 
animals had at first fed separately around the 
grassy base and sides of the knoll, and had 
then made off in their usual single file, going 
straight to a small pool in the forest. After 
drinking they had left this pool, and traveled 
down toward the gorge at the mouth of the 
basin, the trail leading along the sides of the 
steep hill, which were dotted by open glades; 



The Bison or American Buffalo 33 

while the roar of the cataracts by which the 
stream was broken ascended from below. 
Here we moved with redoubled caution, for 
the sign had grown very fresh and the animals 
had once more scattered and begun feeding. 
When the trail led across the glades we 
usually skirted them so as to keep in the 
timber. 

At last, on nearing the edge of one of these 
glades we saw a movement among the young 
trees on the other side, not fifty yards away. 
Peering through the safe shelter yielded by 
some thick evergreen bushes, we speedily 
made out three bison, a cow, a calf, and a 
yearling, grazing greedily on the other side of 
the glade, under the fringing timber; all with 
their heads up hill. Soon another cow and 
calf stepped out after them. I did not wish 
to shoot, waiting for the appearance of the 
big bull which I knew was accompanying 
them. 

So for several minutes I watched the great, 
clumsy, shaggy beasts, as all unconscious they 
grazed in the open glade. Behind them rose 
the dark pines. At the left of the glade the 
ground fell away to form the side of a chasm ; 
down in its depths the cataracts foamed and 
thundered; beyond, the huge mountains tow- 



34 Hunting the Grisly 

ered, their crests crimsoned by the sinking 
sun. Mixed with the eager excitement of the 
hunter was a certain half melancholy feeling 
as I gazed on these bison, themselves part of 
the last remnant of a doomed and nearly van 
ished race. Few, indeed, are the men who 
now have, or ever more shall have, the chance 
of seeing the mightiest of American beasts, 
in all his wild vigor, surrounded by the tre 
mendous desolation of his far-off mountain 
home. 

At last, when I had begun to grow very 
anxious lest the others should take alarm, the 
bull likewise appeared on the edge of the 
glade, and stood with outstretched head, 
scratching his throat against a young tree, 
which shook violently. I aimed low, behind 
his shoulder, and pulled trigger. At the crack 
of the rifle all the bison, without the momen 
tary halt of terror-struck surprise so common 
among game, turned and raced off at headlong 
speed. The fringe of young pines beyond and 
below the glade cracked and swayed as if a 
whirlwind were passing, and in another mo 
ment they reached the top of a very steep in 
cline, thickly strewn with bowlders and dead 
timber. Down this they plunged with reck 
less speed; their surefootedness was a marvel 



The Bison or American Buffalo 35 

in such seemingly unwieldy beasts. A column 
of dust obscured their passage, and under its 
cover they disappeared in the forest; but the 
trail of the bull was marked by splashes of 
frothy blood, and we followed it at a trot. 
Fifty yards beyond the border of the forest 
we found the stark black body stretched mo 
tionless. He was a splendid old bull, still in 
his full vigor, with large, sharp horns, and 
heavy mane and glossy coat; and I felt the 
most exulting pride as I handled and examined 
him; for I had procured a trophy such as can 
fall henceforth to few hunters indeed. 

It was too late to dress the beast that even 
ing; so, after taking out the tongue and cut 
ting off enough meat for supper and break 
fast, we scrambled down to near the torrent, 
and after some search found a good spot for 
camping. Hot and dusty from the day s hard 
tramp, I undressed and took a plunge in the 
stream, the icy water making me gasp. Then, 
having built a slight lean-to of brush, and 
dragged together enough dead timber to burn 
all night, we cut long alder twigs, sat down 
before some embers raked apart, and grilled 
and ate our buffalo meat with the utmost rel 
ish. Night had fallen; a cold wind blew up 
the valley; the torrent roared as it leaped past 



36 Hunting the Grisly 

us, and drowned our words as we strove to 
talk over our adventures and success; while 
the flame of the fire flickered and danced, 
lighting up with continual vivid flashes the 
gloom of the forest round about 



CHAPTER II 

THE SLACK BEAR 

NEXT to the whitetail deer the black bear 
is the commonest and most widely dis 
tributed of American big game. It is still 
found quite plentifully in northern New Eng 
land, in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and along 
the entire length of the Aileghanies, as well 
as in the swamps and canebrakes of the South 
ern States. It is also common in the great 
forests of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and 
Minnesota, and throughout the Rocky Moun 
tains and the timbered ranges of the Pacific 
Coast. In the East it has always ranked 
second only to the deer among the beasts of 
chase. The bear and the buck were the staple 
objects of pursuit of all the old hunters. They 
were more plentiful than the bison and elk 
even in the long vanished days when these two 
great rnonarchs of the forest still ranged east 
ward to Virginia and Pennsylvania. The wolf 
and the cougar were always too scarce and too 
shy to yield much profit to the hunter. The 

(37) 



38 Hunting the Grisly 

black bear is a timid, cowardly animal, and 
usually a vegetarian, though it sometimes 
preys on the sheep, hogs, and even cattle of 
the settler, and is very fond of raiding his corn 
and melons. Its meat is good and its fur often 
valuable; and in its chase there is much ex 
citement, and occasionally a slight spice of 
danger, just enough to render it attractive; so 
it has always been eagerly followed. Yet it 
still holds its own, though in greatly dimin 
ished numbers, in the more thinly settled por 
tions of the country. One of the standing rid 
dles of American zoology is the fact that the 
black bear, which is easier killed and less pro 
lific than the wolf, should hold its own in the 
land better than the latter, this being directly 
the reverse of what occurs in Europe, where 
the brown bear is generally exterminated be 
fore the wolf. 

In a few wild spots in the East, in northern 
Maine, for instance, here and there in the 
neighborhood of the upper Great Lakes, in 
the east Tennessee and Kentucky mountains 
and the swamps of Florida and Mississippi, 
there still lingers an occasional representative 
of the old wilderness hunters. These men 
live in log-cabins in the wilderness. They do 
their hunting on foot, occasionally with the 



The Black Bear 39 

help of a single trailing dog. In Maine they 
are as apt to kill moose and caribou as bear 
and deer; but elsewhere the two last, with an 
occasional cougar or wolf, are the beasts of 
chase which they follow. Nowadays as these 
old hunters die there is no one to take their 
places, though there are still plenty of back 
woods settlers in all of the regions named who 
do a great deal of hunting and trapping. Such 
an old hunter rarely makes his appearance at 
the settlements except to dispose of his peltry 
and hides in exchange for cartridges and pro 
visions, and he leads a life of such lonely iso 
lation as to ensure his individual characteris 
tics developing into peculiarities. Most of the 
wilder districts in the Eastern States still pre 
serve memories of some such old hunter who 
lived his long life alone, waging ceaseless war 
fare on the vanishing game, whose oddities, as 
well as his courage, hardihood, and wood 
craft, are laughingly remembered by the older 
settlers, and who is usually best known as hav 
ing killed the last wolf or bear or cougar ever 
seen in the locality. 

Generally the weapon mainly relied on by 
these old hunters is the rifle; and occasionally 
some old hunter will be found even to this 
day who uses a muzzle-loader, such as Kit 



40 Hunting the Grisly 

Carson carried in the middle of the century. 
There are exceptions to this rule of the rifle, 
however. In the years after the Civil War 
one of the many noted hunters of southwest 
Virginia and east Tennessee was Wilber 
Waters, sometimes called The Hunter of 
White Top. He often killed black bear with 
a knife and dogs. He spent all his life in 
hunting and was very successful, killing the 
last gang of wolves to be found in his neigh 
borhood; and he slew innumerable bears, with 
no worse results to himself than an occasional 
bite or scratch. 

In the Southern States the planters living 
in the wilder regions have always been in the 
habit of following the black bear with horse 
and hound, many of them keeping regular 
packs of bear hounds. Such a pack includes 
not only pure-bred hounds, but also cross-bred 
animals, and some sharp, agile, hard-biting 
fice dogs and terriers. They follow the bear 
and bring him to bay but do not try to kill 
him, although there are dogs of the big fight 
ing breeds which can readily master a black 
bear if loosed at him three or four at a time; 
but the dogs of these Southern bear-hound 
packs are not fitted for such work, and if they 
try to close with the bear he is certain to play 



The Black Bear 41 

havoc with them, disemboweling them with 
blows of his paws or seizing them in his arms 
and biting through their spines or legs. The 
riders follow the hounds through the cane- 
brakes, and also try to make cutoffs and station 
themselves at open points where they think the 
bear will pass, so that they may get a shot at 
him. The weapons used are rifles, shotguns, 
and occasionally revolvers. 

Sometimes, however, the hunter uses the 
knife. General Wade Hampton, who has 
probably killed more black bears than any 
other man living in the United States, fre 
quently used the knife, slaying thirty or forty 
with this weapon. His plan was, when he 
found that the dogs had the bear at bay, to 
walk up close and cheer them on. They would 
instantly seize the bear in a body, and he 
would then rush in and stab it behind the 
shoulder, reaching over so as to inflict the 
wound on the opposite side from that where 
he stood. He escaped scathless from all these 
encounters save one, in which he was rather 
severely torn in the forearm. Many other 
hunters have used the knife, but perhaps none 
so frequently as he; for he was always fond 
of steel, as witness his feats with the "white 
arm" during the Civil War. 



4 2 Hunting the Grisly 

General Hampton always hunted with large 
packs of hounds, managed sometimes by him 
self and sometimes by his negro hunters. He 
occasionally took out forty dogs at a time. He 
found that all his dogs together could not kill 
a big fat bear, but they occasionally killed 
three-year-olds, or lean and poor bears. Dur 
ing the course of his life he has himself killed 
or been in at the death of, five hundred bears, 
at least two-thirds of them falling by his own 
hand. In the year just before the war he had 
on one occasion, in Mississippi, killed sixty- 
eight bears in five months. Once he killed 
four bears in a day; at another time three, and 
frequently two. The two largest bears he 
himself killed weighed, respectively, 408 and 
410 pounds. They were both shot in Missis 
sippi. But he saw at least one bear killed 
which was much larger than either of these. 
These figures were taken down at the time, 
when the animals were actually weighed on 
the scales. Most of his hunting for bear was 
done in northern Mississippi, where one of 
his plantations was situated, near Greenville. 
During the half century that he hunted, on 
and off, in this neighborhood, he knew of two 
instances where hunters were fatally wounded 
in the chase of the black bear. Both of the 



The Black Bear 43 

men were inexperienced, one being a rafts 
man who came down the river, and the other 
a man from Vicksburg. He was not able to 
learn the particulars in the last case, but the 
raftsman came too close to a bear that was at 
bay, and it broke through the dogs, rushed at 
and overthrew him, then lying on him, it bit 
him deeply in the thigh, through the femoral 
artery, so that he speedily bled to death. 

But a black bear is not usually a formidable 
opponent, and though he will sometimes 
charge home he is much more apt to bluster 
and bully than actually to come to close quar 
ters. I myself have but once seen a man who 
had been hurt by one of these bears. This was 
an Indian. He had come on the beast close 
up in a thick wood, and had mortally wounded 
it with his gun; it had then closed with him, 
knocking the gun out of his hand, so that he 
was forced to use his knife. It charged him 
on all fours, but in the grapple, when it had 
failed to throw him down, it raised itself on 
its hind legs, clasping him across the shoulders 
with its fore-paws. Apparently it had no in 
tention of hugging, but merely sought to draw 
him within reach of its jaws. He fought des 
perately against this, using the knife freely, 
and striving to keep its head back; and the 



44 Hunting the Grisly 

flow of blood weakened the animal, so that it 
finally fell exhausted, before being able dan 
gerously to injure him. But it had bitten his 
left arm very severely, and its claws had made 
long gashes on his shoulders. 

Black bears, like grislies, vary greatly in 
their modes of attack. Sometimes they rush 
in and bite; and again they strike with their 
fore-paws. Two of my cowboys were origi 
nally from Maine, where I knew them well. 
There they were fond of trapping bears, and 
caught a good many. The huge steel gins, 
attached by chains to heavy clogs, prevented 
the trapped beasts from going far; and when 
found they were always tied tight round some 
tree or bush, and usually nearly exhausted. 
The men killed them either with a little 32- 
calibre pistol or a hatchet. But once did they 
meet with any difficulty. On this occasion one 
of them incautiously approached a captured 
bear to knock it on the head with his hatchet, 
but the animal managed to partially untwist 
itself, and with its free forearm made a rapid 
sweep at him : he jumped back just in time, the 
bear s claws tearing his clothes after which 
he shot it. Bears are shy and have very keen 
noses; they are therefore hard to kill by fair 
hunting, living, as they generally do, in dense 



The Black Bear 45 

forests or thick brush. They are easy enough 
to trap, however. Thus, these two men, 
though they trapped so many, never but once 
killed them in any other way. On this occa 
sion one of them, in the winter, found in a 
great hollow log a den where a she and two 
well-grown cubs had taken up their abode, 
and shot all three with his rifle as they burst 
out. 

Where they are much hunted, bear become 
purely nocturnal; but in the wilder forests I 
have seen them abroad at all hours, though 
they do not much relish the intense heat of 
noon. They are rather comical animals to 
watch feeding and going about the ordinary 
business of their lives. Once I spent half an 
hour lying at the edge of a wood and looking 
at a black bear some three hundred yards off 
across an open glade. It was in good stalk 
ing country, but the wind was unfavorable 
and I waited for it to shift waited too long 
as it proved, for something frightened the 
beast and he made off before I could get a 
shot at him. When I first saw him he was 
shuffling along and rooting in the ground, so 
that he looked like a great pig. Then he be 
gan to turn over the stones and logs to hunt for 
insects, small reptiles, and the like. A mod- 



46 Hunting the Grisly 

erate-sized stone he would turn over with a 
single clap of his paw, and then plunge his 
nose down into the hollow to gobble up the 
small creatures beneath while still dazed by 
the light. The big logs and rocks he would 
tug and worry at with both paws ; once, over 
exerting his clumsy strength, he lost his grip 
and rolled clean on his back. Under some of 
the logs he evidently found mice and chip 
munks; then, as soon as the log was overturned, 
he would be seen jumping about with gro 
tesque agility, and making quick dabs here 
and there, as the little scurrying rodent turned 
and twisted, until at last he put his paw on it 
and scooped it up into his mouth. Sometimes, 
probably when he smelt the mice underneath, 
he would cautiously turn the log over with one 
paw, holding the other lifted and ready to 
strike. Now and then he would halt and snifT 
the air in every direction, and it was after one 
of these halts that he suddenly shuffled of! into 
the woods. 

Black bear generally feed on berries, nuts, 
insects, carrion, and the like; but at times 
they take to killing very large animals. In 
fact, they are curiously irregular in their food. 
They will kill deer if they can get at them: 
but generally the deer are too quick. Sheep 



The Black Bear 47 

and hogs are their favorite prey, especially 
the latter, for bears seem to have a special 
relish for pork. Twice I have known a black 
bear kill cattle. Once the victim was a bull 
which had got mired, and which the bear de 
liberately proceeded to eat alive, heedless of 
the bellows of the unfortunate beast. On the 
other occasion, a cow was surprised and slain 
among some bushes at the edge of a remote 
pasture. In the spring, soon after the long 
winter sleep, they are very hungry, and are 
especially apt to attack large beasts at this 
time; although during the very first days of 
their appearance, when they are just breaking 
their fast, they eat rather sparingly, and by 
preference the tender shoots of green grass 
and other herbs, or frogs and crayfish ; it is not 
for a week or two that they seem to be over 
come by lean, ravenous hunger. They will 
even attack and master that formidable fighter 
the moose, springing at it from an ambush as 
it passes for a bull moose would surely be an 
overmatch for one of them if fronted fairly 
in the open. An old hunter, whom I could 
trust, told me that he had seen in the snow in 
early spring the place where a bear had sprung 
at two moose, which were trotting together; 
he missed his spring, and the moose got off, 



48 Hunting the Grisly 

their strides after they settled down into their 
pace being tremendous, and showing how thor 
oughly they were frightened. Another time 
he saw a bear chase a moose into a lake, where 
it waded out a little distance, and then turned 
to bay, bidding defiance to his pursuer, the lat 
ter not daring to approach in the water. I 
have been told but can not vouch for it 
that instances have been known where the 
bear, maddened by hunger, has gone in on a 
moose thus standing at bay, only to be beaten 
down under the water by the terrible fore- 
hoofs of the quarry, and to yield its life in 
the contest. A lumberman told me that he 
once saw a moose, evidently much startled, 
trot through a swamp, and immediately after 
ward a bear came up following the tracks. 
He almost ran into the man, and was evidently 
not in good temper, for he growled and blus 
tered, and two or three times made feints of 
charging, before he finally concluded to go 
off. 

Bears will occasionally visit hunters or 
lumbermen s camps, in the absence of the 
owners, and play sad havoc with all that there 
in is, devouring everything eatable, especially 
if sweet, and trampling into a dirty mess what 
ever they do not eat. The black bear does 



The Black Bear 49 

not average more than a third the size of the 
grisly; but, like all its kind, it varies greatly 
in weight. The largest I myself ever saw 
weighed was in Maine, and tipped the scale at 
346 pounds; but I have a perfectly authentic 
record of one in Maine that weighed 397, and 
my friend, Dr. Hart Merriam, tells me that 
he has seen several in the Adirondacks that 
when killed weighed about 350. 

I have myself shot but one or two black 
bears, and these were obtained under circum 
stances of no especial interest, as I merely 
stumbled on them while after other game, and 
killed them before they had a chance either 
to run or show fight. 



VOL. III. 



CHAPTER III 

OLD EPHPvAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR 

THE king of the game beasts of temperate 
North America, because the most dan 
gerous to the hunter, is the grisly bear; known 
to the few remaining old-time trappers of the 
Rockies and the Great Plains, sometimes as 
"Old Ephraim" and sometimes as "Moccasin 
Joe" the last in allusion to his queer, half- 
human footprints, which look as if made by 
some misshapen giant, walking in moccasins. 
Bear vary greatly in size and color, no less 
than in temper and habits. Old hunters speak 
much of them in their endless talks over the 
camp-fires and in the snow-bound winter huts. 
They insist on many species; not merely the 
black and the grisly, but the brown, the cinna 
mon, the gray, the silver-tip, and others with 
names known only in certain localities, such 
as the range bear, the roach-back, and the 
smut-face. But, in spite of popular opinion 
to the contrary, most old hunters are very un 
trustworthy in dealing with points of natural 
(50) 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 51 

history. They usually know only so much 
about any given game animal as will enable 
them to kill it. They study its habits solely 
with this end in view; and once slain they only 
examine it to see about its condition and fur. 
With rare exceptions they are quite incapable 
of passing judgment upon questions of specific 
identity or difference. When questioned, they 
not only advance perfectly impossible theories 
and facts in support of their views, but they 
rarely even agree as to the views themselves. 
One hunter will assert that the true grisly is 
only found in California, heedless of the fact 
that the name was first used by Lewis and 
Clark as one of the titles they applied to the 
large bears of the plains country round the 
Upper Missouri, a quarter of a century before 
the California grisly was known to fame. An 
other hunter will call any big brindled bear a 
grisly no matter where it is found; and he and 
his companions will dispute by the hour as to 
whether a bear of large, but not extreme, size 
is a grisly or a silver-tip. In Oregon the cin 
namon bear is a phase of the small black bear; 
in Montana it is the plains variety of the large 
mountain silver-tip. I have myself seen the 
skins of two bears killed on the upper waters 
of Tongue River; one was that of a male, one 



52 Hunting the Grisly 

of a female, and they had evidently just mated ; 
yet one was distinctly a "silver-tip" and the 
other a "cinnamon." The skin of one very big 
bear which I killed in the Bighorn has proved 
a standing puzzle to almost all the old hunters 
to whom I have showed it; rarely do any two 
of them agree as to whether it is a grisly, a 
silver-tip, a cinnamon, or a "smut-face." Any 
bear with unusually long hair on the spine and 
shoulders, especially if killed in the spring, 
when the fur is shaggy, is forthwith dubbed a 
"roach-back." The average sporting writer 
moreover joins with the more imaginative 
members of the "old hunter" variety in ascrib 
ing wildly various traits to these different 
bears. One comments on the superior pro\vess 
of the roach-back; the explanation being that 
a bear in early spring is apt to be ravenous 
from hunger. The next insists that the Cali 
fornia grisly is the only really dangerous bear; 
while another stoutly maintains that it does 
not compare in ferocity with what he calls the 
"smaller" silver-tip or cinnamon. And so on, 
and so on, without end. All of which is mere 
nonsense. 

Nevertheless, it is no easy task to determine 
how many species or varieties of bear actually 
do exist in the United States, and I can not 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 53 

even say without doubt that a very large set 
of skins and skulls would not show a nearly 
complete intergradation between the most 
widely separated individuals. However, there 
are certainly two very distinct types, which 
differ almost as widely from each other as a 
wapiti does from a mule deer, and which exist 
in the same localities in most heavily timbered 
portions of the Rockies. One is the small 
black bear, a bear which will average about 
two hundred pounds weight, with fine, glossy, 
black fur, and the fore-claws but little longer 
than the hinder ones; in fact the hairs of the 
fore-paw often reach to their tips. This bear 
is a tree-climber. It is the only kind found 
east of the great plains, and it is also plentiful 
in the forest-clad portions of the Rockies, be 
ing common in most heavily timbered tracts 
throughout the United States. The other is 
the grisly, which weighs three or four times as 
much as the black, and has a pelt of coarse 
hair, which is in color gray, grizzled, or 
brown of various shades. It is not a tree- 
climber, and the fore-claws are very long, 
much longer than the hinder ones. It is found 
from the great plains west of the Mississippi 
to the Pacific Coast. This bear inhabits indif 
ferently the lowland and mountain; the deep 



54 Hunting the Grisly 

woods, and the barren plains where the only 
cover is the stunted growth fringing the 
streams. These tw T o types are very distinct 
in every way, and their differences are not at 
all dependent upon mere geographical consid 
erations; for they are often found in the same 
district. Thus I found them both in the Big 
horn Mountains, each type being in extreme 
form, while the specimens I shot showed no 
trace of intergradation. The huge grizzled, 
long-clawed beast, and its little glossy-coated, 
short-clawed, tree-climbing brother roamed 
over exactly the same country in those moun 
tains; but they were as distinct in habits, and 
mixed as little together as moose and caribou. 
On the other hand, when a sufficient num 
ber of bears, from widely separated regions, 
are examined, the various distinguishing 
marks are found to be inconstant and to show 
a tendency exactly how strong I can not say 
to fade into one another. The differentia 
tion of the two species seems to be as yet 
scarcely completed; there are more or less im 
perfect connecting links, and as regards the 
grisly it almost seems as if the specific char 
acters were still unstable. In the far North 
west, in the basin of the Columbia, the "black" 
bear is as often brown as any other color; and 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 55 

I have seen the skins of two cubs, one black 
and one brown, which were shot when follow 
ing the same dam. When these brown bears 
have coarser hair than usual their skins are 
with difficulty to be distinguished from those 
of certain varieties of the grisly. Moreover, 
all bears vary greatly in size; and I have seen 
the bodies of very large black or brown bears 
with short fore-claws which were fully as 
heavy as, or perhaps heavier than, some small 
but full-grown grislies with long fore-claws. 
These very large bears with short claws are 
very reluctant to climb a tree; and are almost 
as clumsy about it as is a young grisly. Among 
the grislies the fur varies much in color and 
texture even among bears of the same locality; 
it is of course richest in the deep forest, while 
the bears of the dry plains and mountains are 
of a lighter, more washed-out hue. 

A full grown grisly will usually weigh from 
five to seven hundred pounds; but exception 
al individuals undoubtedly reach more than 
twelve hundredweight. The California bears 
are said to be much the largest. This I think 
is so, but I can not say it with certainty at 
any rate I have examined several skins of full- 
grown California bears which were no larger 
than those of many I have seen from the north- 



56 Hunting the Grisly 

ern Rockies. The Alaskan bears, particularly 
those of the peninsula, are even bigger beasts ; 
the skin of one which I saw in the possession 
of Mr. Webster, the taxidermist, was a good 
deal larger than the average polar bear skin; 
and the animal when alive, if in good condi 
tion, could hardly have weighed less than 
1,400 pounds.* Bears vary wonderfully in 
weight, even to the extent of becoming half as 
heavy again, according as they are fat or lean; 
in this respect they are more like hogs than 
like any other animals. 

The grisly is now chiefly a beast of the high 
hills and heavy timber; but this is merely be 
cause he has learned that he must rely on cover 
to guard him from man, and has forsaken the 
open ground accordingly. In old days, and in 
one or two very out-of-the-way places almost 
to the present time, he wandered at will over 
the plains. It is only the wariness born of 
fear which nowadays causes him to cling to 
the thick brush of the large river-bottoms 
throughout the plains country. When there 
were no rifle-bearing hunters in the land, to 
harass him and make him afraid, he roved 

* Both this huge Alaskan bear and the entirely distinct 
bear of the barren grounds differ widely from the true 
grisly, at least in their extreme forms. 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 57 

hither and thither at will, in burly self-confi 
dence. Then he cared little for cover, unless 
as a weather-break, or because it happened to 
contain food he liked. If the humor seized 
him he would roam for days over the rolling 
or broken prairie, searching for roots, digging 
up gophers, or perhaps following the great 
buffalo herds either to prey on some unwary 
straggler which he was able to catch at a dis 
advantage in a washout, or else to feast on the 
carcasses of those which died by accident. Old 
hunters, survivors of the long-vanished ages 
when the vast herds thronged the high plains 
and were followed by the wild red tribes, and 
by bands of whites who were scarcely less sav 
age, have told me that they often met bears 
under such circumstances; and these bears 
were accustomed to sleep in a patch of rank 
sage brush, in the niche of a washout, or under 
the lee of a bowlder, seeking their food abroad 
even in full daylight. The bears of the Upper 
Missouri basin which were so light in color 
that the early explorers often alluded to them 
as gray or even as "white" were particularly 
given to this life in the open. To this day 
that close kinsman of the grisly known as the 
bear of the barren grounds continues to lead 
this same kind of life, in the far north. My 



58 Hunting the Grisly 

friend Mr. Rockhill, of Maryland, who was 
the first white man to explore eastern Tibet, 
describes the large, grisly-like bear of those 
desolate uplands as having similar habits. 

However, the grisly is a shrewd beast and 
shows the usual bear-like capacity for adapt 
ing himself to changed conditions. He has in 
most places become a cover-haunting animal, 
sly in his ways, wary to a degree, and clinging 
to the shelter of the deepest forests in the 
mountains and of the most tangled thickets in 
the plains. Hence he has held his own far 
better than such game as the bison and elk. 
He is much less common than formerly, but 
he is still to be found throughout most of his 
former range ; save of course in the immediate 
neighborhood of the large towns. 

In most places the grisly hibernates, or as 
old hunters say "holes up," during the cold 
season, precisely as does the black bear; but 
as with the latter species, those animals which 
live furthest south spend the whole year 
abroad in mild seasons. The grisly rarely 
chooses that favorite den of his little black 
brother, a hollow tree or log, for his winter 
sleep, seeking or making some cavernous hole 
in the ground instead. The hole is sometimes 
in a slight hillock in a river bottom, but more 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 59 

often on a hillside, and may be either shallow 
or deep. In the mountains it is generally a 
natural cave in the rock, but among the foot 
hills and on the plains the bear usually has to 
take some hollow or opening, and then fashion 
it into a burrow to his liking with his big dig 
ging claws. 

Before the cold weather sets in the bear be 
gins to grow restless, and to roam about seek 
ing for a good place in which to hole up. One 
will often try and abandon several caves or 
partially dug-out burrows in succession before 
finding a place to its taste. It always endeav 
ors to choose a spot where there is little 
chance of discovery or molestation, taking 
great care to avoid leaving too evident trace 
of its work. Hence it is not often that the 
dens are found. 

Once in its den the bear passes the cold 
months in lethargic sleep; yet, in all but the 
coldest weather, and sometimes even then, its 
slumber is but light, and if disturbed it will 
promptly leave its den, prepared for fight or 
flight as the occasion may require. Many 
times when a hunter has stumbled on the win 
ter resting-place of a bear and has left it, as 
he thought, without his presence being dis 
covered, he has returned only to find that the 



6o Hunting the Grisly 

crafty old fellow was aware of the danger all 
the time, and sneaked off as soon as the coast 
was clear. But in very cold weather hiber 
nating bears can hardly be wakened from 
their torpid lethargy. 

The length of time a bear stays in its den 
depends of course upon the seventy of the sea 
son and the latitude and altitude of the coun 
try. In the northernmost and coldest regions 
all the bears hole up, and spend half the year 
in a state of lethargy; whereas in the south 
only the shes with young and the fat he-bears 
retire for the sleep, and these but for a few 
weeks, and only if the season is severe. 

When the bear first leaves its den the fur is 
in very fine order, but it speedily becomes thin 
and poor, and does not recover its condition 
until the fall. Sometimes the bear does not 
betray any great hunger for a few days after 
its appearance ; but in a short while it becomes 
ravenous. During the early spring, when the 
woods are still entirely barren and lifeless, 
while the snow yet lies in deep drifts, the lean, 
hungry brute, both maddened and weakened 
by long fasting, is more of a flesh eater than at 
any other time. It is at this period that it is 
most apt to turn true beast of prey, and show 
its prowess either at the expense of the wild 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 61 

game, or of the flocks of the settler and the 
herds of the ranchman. Bears are very ca 
pricious in this respect, however. Some are 
confirmed game and cattle killers; others are 
not; while yet others either are or are not ac 
cordingly as the freak seizes them, and their 
ravages vary almost unaccountably, both with 
the season and the locality. 

Throughout 1889, for instance, no cattle, so 
far as I heard, were killed by bears anywhere 
near my range on the Little Missouri in west 
ern Dakota; yet I happened to know that dur 
ing that same season the ravages of the bears 
among the herds of the cowmen in the Big 
Hole Basin, in western Montana, were very 
destructive. 

In the spring and early summer of 1888, the 
bears killed no cattle near my ranch; but in 
the late summer and early fall of that year a 
big bear, which we well knew by its tracks, 
suddenly took to cattle-killing. This was a 
brute which had its headquarters on some very 
large brush bottoms a dozen miles below my 
ranch house, and which ranged to and fro 
across the broken country flanking the river 
on each side. It began just before berry time, 
but continued its career of destruction long 
after the wild plums and even buffalo berries 



62 Hunting the Grisly 

had ripened. I think that what started it was 
a feast on a cow which had mired and died in 
the bed of the creek; at least it was not until 
after we found that it had been feeding at the 
carcass and had eaten every scrap, that we 
discovered traces of its ravages among the 
livestock. It seemed to attack the animals 
wholly regardless of their size and strength ; 
its victims including a large bull and a beef 
steer, as well as cows, yearlings, and gaunt, 
weak trail "doughgies," which had been 
brought in very late by a Texas cow-outfit 
for that year several herds were driven up 
from the overstocked, eaten-out, and drought- 
stricken ranges of the far South. Judging 
from the signs, the crafty old grisly, as cun 
ning as he was ferocious, usually lay in wait 
for the cattle when they carne down to water, 
choosing some thicket of dense underbrush 
and twisted cottonwoods through which they 
had to pass before reaching the sand banks on 
the river s brink. Sometimes he pounced on 
them as they fed through the thick, low cover 
of the bottoms, where an assailant could either 
lie in ambush by one of the numerous cattle 
trails, or else creep unobserved toward some 
browsing beast. When within a few feet a 
quick rush carried him fairly on the terrified 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 63 

quarry; and though but a clumsy animal com 
pared to the great cats, the grisly is far quicker 
than one would imagine from viewing his or 
dinary lumbering gait. In one or two in 
stances the bear had apparently grappled with 
his victim by seizing it near the loins and 
striking a disabling blow over the small of the 
back; in at least one instance he had jumped 
on the animal s head, grasping it with his fore- 
paws, while with his fangs he tore open the 
throat or craunched the neck bone. Some of 
his victims were slain far from the river, in 
winding, brushy coulies of the Bad Lands, 
where the broken nature of the ground ren 
dered stalking easy. Several of the ranchmen, 
angered at their losses, hunted their foe eager 
ly, but always with ill success; until one of 
them put poison in a carcass, and thus at last, 
in ignoble fashion, slew the cattle-killer. 

Mr. Clarence King informs me that he was 
once eye-witness to a bear s killing a steer, in 
California. The steer was in a small pasture, 
and the bear climbed over, partly breaking 
down the rails which barred the gateway. The 
steer started to run, but the grisly overtook it 
in four or five bounds, and struck it a tremen 
dous blow r on the flank with one paw, knock 
ing several ribs clear away from the spine, 



64 Hunting the Grisly 

and killing the animal outright by the 
shock. 

Horses no less than horned cattle at times 
fall victims to this great bear, which usually 
springs on them from the edge of a clearing 
as they graze in some mountain pasture, or 
among the foothills ; and there is no other ani 
mal of which horses seem so much afraid. 
Generally the bear, whether successful or un 
successful in its raids on cattle and horses, 
comes off unscathed from the struggle; but 
this is not always the case, and it has much 
respect for the hoofs or horns of its should-be 
prey. Some horses do not seem to know how 
to fight it at all ; but others are both quick and 
vicious, and prove themselves very formidable 
foes, lashing out behind, and striking with 
their fore-hoofs. I have elsewhere given an 
instance of a stallion which beat off a bear, 
breaking its jaw. 

Quite near my ranch, once, a cowboy in 
my employ found unmistakable evidence of 
the discomfiture of a bear by a long-horned 
range cow. It was in the early spring, and the 
cow with her new-born calf was in a brush- 
bordered valley. The footprints in the damp 
soil were very plain, and showed all that had 
happened. The bear had evidently come out 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 65 

of the bushes with a rush, probably bent mere 
ly on seizing the calf ; and had slowed up when 
the cow instead of flying faced him. He had 
then begun to walk round his expected dinner 
in a circle, the cow fronting him and moving 
nervously back and forth, so that her sharp 
hoofs cut and trampled the ground. Finally 
she had charged savagely; whereupon the 
bear had bolted; and, whether frightened at 
the charge, or at the approach of some one, 
he had not returned. 

The grisly is even fonder of sheep and pigs 
than is its smaller black brother. Lurking 
round the settler s house until after nightfall, 
it will vault into the fold or sty, grasp a help 
less, bleating fleece-bearer, or a shrieking, 
struggling member of the bristly brotherhood, 
and bundle it out over the fence to its death. 
In carrying its prey a bear sometimes holds 
the body in its teeth, walking along on all- 
fours and dragging it as a wolf does. Some 
times, however, it seizes an animal in its fore 
arms or in one of them, and walks awkwardly 
on three legs or two, adopting this method in 
lifting and pushing the body over rocks and 
down timber. 

When a grisly can get at domestic animals 
it rarely seeks to molest game, the former 



66 Hunting the Grisly 

being far less wary and more helpless. Its 
heaviness and clumsiness do not fit it well for 
a life of rapine against shy woodland crea 
tures. Its vast strength and determined tem 
per, however, more than make amends for 
lack of agility in the actual struggle with the 
stricken prey; its difficulty lies in seizing, not 
in killing, the game. Hence, when a grisly 
does take to game-killing, it is likely to attack 
bison, moose, and elk; it is rarely able to 
catch deer, still less sheep or antelope. In 
fact these smaller game animals often show 
but little dread of its neighborhood, and, 
though careful not to let it come too near, go 
on grazing when a bear is in full sight. 
Whitetail deer are frequently found at home 
in the same thicket in which a bear has its 
den, while they immediately desert the tem 
porary abiding place of a wolf or cougar. 
Nevertheless, they sometimes presume too 
much on this confidence. A couple of years 
before the occurrence of the feats of cattle- 
killing mentioned above as happening near 
my ranch, either the same bear that figured in 
them, or another of similar tastes, took to 
game-hunting. The beast lived in the same 
succession of huge thickets which cover for 
two or three miles the river bottoms and the 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 67 

mouths of the inflowing creeks; and he sud 
denly made a raid on the whitetail deer which 
were plentiful in the dense cover. The 
shaggy, clumsy monster was cunning enough 
to kill several of thes e knowing creatures. 
The exact course of procedure I never could 
find out; but apparently the bear lay in wait 
beside the game trails, along which the deer 
wandered. 

In the old days when the innumerable bison 
grazed free on the prairie, the grisly some 
times harassed their bands as it now does the 
herds of the ranchman. The bison was the 
most easily approached of all game, and the 
great bear could often get near some outlying 
straggler, in its quest after stray cows, year 
lings, or calves. In default of a favorable 
chance to make a prey of one of these weaker 
members of the herds, it did not hesitate to 
attack the mighty bulls themselves ; and per 
haps the grandest sight which it was ever the 
good fortune of the early hunters to witness 
was one of these rare battles between a hungry 
grisly and a powerful buffalo bull. Nowa 
days, however, the few last survivors of the 
bison are vanishing even from the inacces 
sible mountain fastnesses in which they sought 
a final refuge from their destroyers. 



68 Hunting the Grisly 

At present the wapiti is of all wild game 
that which is most likely to fall a victim to the 
grisly, when the big bear is in the mood to 
turn hunter. Wapiti are found in the same 
places as the grisly, and in some spots they are 
yet very plentiful; they are less shy and ac 
tive than deer, while not powerful enough to 
beat off so ponderous a foe ; and they live in 
cover where there is always a good chance 
either to stalk or to stumble on them. At al 
most any season bear will come and feast on an 
elk carcass; and if the food supply runs short, 
in early spring, or in a fall when the berry 
crop falls, they sometimes have to do their 
own killing. Twice I have come across the 
remains of elk, which had seemingly been 
slain and devoured by bears. I have never 
heard of elk making a fight against a bear; 
yet, at close quarters and at bay, a bull elk 
in the rutting season is an ugly foe. 

A bull moose is even more formidable, be 
ing able to strike the most lightning-like blows 
with his terrible forefeet, his true weapons of 
defence. I doubt if any beast of prey would 
rush in on one of these woodland giants, when 
his horns were grown, and if he was on his 
guard and bent on fight. Nevertheless, the 
moose sometimes fall victims to the uncouth 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 69 

prowess of the grisly, in the thick wet forests 
of the high northern Rockies, where both 
beasts dwell. An old hunter who a dozen 
years ago wintered at Jackson Lake, in north 
western Wyoming, told me that when the 
snows got deep on the mountains the moose 
came down and took up their abode near the 
lake, on its western side. Nothing molested 
them during the winter. Early in the spring 
a grisly came out of its den, and he found its 
tracks in many places, as it roamed restlessly 
about, evidently very hungry. Finding little 
to eat in the bleak, snow-drifted woods, it soon 
began to depredate the moose, and killed 
two or three, generally by lying in wait and 
dashing out on them as they passed near its 
lurking-place. Even the bulls were at that 
season weak, and of course hornless, with 
small desire to fight; and in each case the rush 
of the great bear doubtless made with the 
ferocity and speed which so often belie the 
seeming awkwardness of the animal bore 
down the startled victim, taken utterly un 
awares before it had a chance to defend itself. 
In one case the bear had missed its spring; 
the moose going off, for a few rods, with huge 
jumps, and then settling down into its char 
acteristic trot. The old hunter who followed 



70 Hunting the Grisly 

the tracks said he would never have deemed 
it possible for any animal to make such strides 
while in a trot. 

Nevertheless, the grisly is only occasionally, 
not normally, a formidable predatory beast, a 
killer of cattle and of large game. Although 
capable of far swifter movement than is prom 
ised by his frame of seemingly clumsy strength, 
and in spite of his power of charging with as 
tonishing suddenness and speed, he yet lacks 
altogether the supple agility of such finished 
destroyers as the cougar and the wolf ; and for 
the absence of this quality no amount of mere 
huge muscle can atone. He is more apt to 
feast on animals which have met their death 
by accident, or which have been killed by 
other beasts or by man, than to do his own 
killing. He is a very foul feeder, with a 
strong relish for carrion, and possesses a grew- 
some and cannibal fondness for the flesh of 
his own kind ; a bear carcass will toll a brother 
bear to the ambushed hunter better than al 
most any other bait, unless it is the carcass of 
a horse. 

Nor do these big bears always content them 
selves merely with the carcasses of their breth 
ren. A black bear would have a poor chance 
if in the clutches of a large, hungry grisly; 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 71 

and an old male will kill and eat a cub, es 
pecially if he finds it at a disadvantage. A 
rather remarkable instance of this occurred in 
Yellowstone National Park, in the spring of 
1891. The incident is related in the following 
letter written to Mr. William Hallett Phillips, 
of Washington, by another friend, Mr. El- 
wood Hofer. Hofer is an old mountain-man; 
I have hunted with him myself, and know his 
statements to be trustworthy. He was, at the 
time, at work in the Park getting animals for 
the National Museum at Washington, and was 
staying at Yancey s "hotel" near Tower Falls. 
His letter, which was dated June 2ist, 1891, 
runs in part as follows : 

"I had a splendid Grizzly or Roachback 
cub and was going to send him into the 
Springs next morning the team was here, I 
heard a racket outside went out and found 
him dead an old bear that made an 9 1-2 inch 
track had killed and partly eaten him. Last 
night another one came, one that made an 8 
1-2 inch track, and broke Yancy up in the 
milk business. You know how the cabins stand 
here. There is a hitching-post between the sa 
loon and old house, the little bear was killed 
there. In a creek close by was a milk house, 
last night another bear came there and 



72. Hunting the Grisly 

smashed the whole thing up, leaving nothing 
but a few flattened buckets and pans and 
boards. I was sleeping in the old cabin, I 
heard the tin ware rattle but thought it was 
all right supposed it was cows or horses about. 
I don t care about the milk but the damn cuss 
dug up the remains of the cub I had buried 
in the old ditch, he visited the old meat house 
but found nothing. Bear are very thick in 
this part of the Park, and are getting very 
fresh. I sent in the game to Capt. Anderson, 
hear its doing well." 

Grislies are fond of fish; and on the Pacific 
slope, where the salmon run, they, like so 
many other beasts, travel many scores of miles 
and crowd down to the rivers to gorge them 
selves upon the fish which are thrown up on 
the banks. Wading into the water a bear 
will knock out the salmon right and left when 
they are running thick. 

Flesh and fish do not constitute the grisly s 
ordinary diet. At most times the big bear is 
a grubber in the ground, an eater of insects, 
roots, nuts, and berries. Its dangerous fore- 
claws are normally used to overturn stones 
and knock rotten logs to pieces, that it may 
lap up the small tribes of darkness which 
swarm under the one and in the other. It digs 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 73 

up the camas roots, wild onions, and an occa 
sional luckless woodchuck or gopher. If food 
is very plenty bears are lazy, but commonly 
they are obliged to be very industrious, it be 
ing no light task to gather enough ants, beetles, 
crickets, tumble-bugs, roots, and nuts to satisfy 
the cravings of so huge a bulk. The sign of 
a bear s work is, of course, evident to the 
most unpracticed eye; and in no way can one 
get a better idea of the brute s power than by 
watching it busily working for its breakfast, 
shattering big logs and upsetting bowlders by 
sheer strength. There is always a touch of the 
comic, as well as a touch of the strong and ter 
rible, in a bear s look and actions. It will tug 
and pull, now with one paw, now with two, 
now on all fours, now on its hind legs, in the 
effort to turn over a large log or stone; and 
when it succeeds it jumps round to thrust its 
muzzle into the damp hollow and lap up the 
affrighted mice or beetles while they are still 
paralyzed by the sudden exposure. 

The true time of plenty for bears is the 
berry season. Then they feast ravenously on 
huckleberries, blueberries, kinnikinic berries 7 
buffalo berries, wild plums, elderberries, and 
scores of other fruits. They often smash all 
the bushes in a berry patch, gathering the fruit 

VOL. III. 4 



74 Hunting the Grisly 

with half-luxurious, half-laborious greed, sit 
ting on their haunches, and sweeping the ber 
ries into their mouths with dexterous paws. 
So absorbed do they become in their feasts on 
the luscious fruit that they grow reckless of 
their safety, and feed in broad daylight, al 
most at midday; while in some of the thickets, 
especially those of the mountain haws, they 
make so much noise in smashing the branches 
that it is a comparatively easy matter to ap 
proach them unheard. That still-hunter is in 
luck who in the fall finds an accessible berry- 
covered hillside which is haunted by bears; 
but, as a rule, the berry bushes do not grow 
close enough together to give the hunter much 
chance. 

Like most other wild animals, bears which 
have known the neighborhood of man are 
beasts of the darkness, or at least of the dusk 
and the gloaming. But they are by no means 
such true night-lovers as the big cats and the 
wolves. In regions where they know little of 
hunters they roam about freely in the day 
light, and in cool weather are even apt to take 
their noontide slumbers basking in the sun. 
Where they are much hunted they finally al 
most reverse their natural habits and sleep 
throughout the hours of light, only venturing 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 75 

abroad after nightfall and before sunrise; but 
even yet this is not the habit of those bears 
which exist in the wilder localities where they 
are still plentiful. In these places they sleep, 
or at least rest, during the hours of greatest 
heat, and again in the middle part of the 
night, unless there is a full moon. They start 
on their rambles for food about mid-after 
noon, and end their morning roaming soon 
after the sun is above the horizon. If the 
moon is full, however, they may feed all night 
long, and then wander but little in the day 
time. 

Aside from man, the full-grown grisly has 
hardly any foe to fear. Nevertheless, in the 
early spring, when weakened by the hunger 
that succeeds the winter sleep, it behooves 
even the grisly, if he dwells in the mountain 
fastnesses of the far Northwest, to beware of 
a famished troop of great timber wolves. 
These northern Rocky Mountain wolves are 
most formidable beasts, and when many of 
them band together in time of famine they do 
not hesitate to pounce on the black bear and 
cougar; and even a full-grown grisly is not 
safe from their attacks, unless he can back up 
against some rock which will prevent them 
from assailing him from behind. A small 



76 Hunting the Grisly 

ranchman whom I knew well, who lived near 
Flathead Lake, once in April found where a 
troop of these wolves had killed a good-sized 
yearling grisly. Either cougar or wolf will 
make a prey of a grisly which is but a few 
months old ; while any fox, lynx, wolverine, or 
fisher will seize the very young cubs. The old 
story about wolves fearing to feast on game 
killed by a grisly is all nonsense. Wolves 
are canny beasts, and they will not approach 
a carcass if they think a bear is hidden near by 
and likely to rush out at them ; but under ordi 
nary circumstances they will feast not only on 
the carcasses of the grisly s victims, but on 
the carcass of the grisly himself after he has 
been slain and left by the hunter. Of course 
wolves would only attack a grisly if in the 
most desperate straits for food, as even a vic 
tory over such an antagonist must be pur 
chased with heavy loss of life; and a hungry 
grisly would devour either a wolf or a cougar, 
or any one of the smaller carnivora offhand, if 
it happened to corner it where it could not get 
away. 

The grisly occasionally makes its den in a 
cave and spends therein the midday hours. 
But this is rare. Usually it lies in the dense 
shelter of the most tangled piece of woods in 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 77 

the neighborhood, choosing by preference 
some bit where the young growth is thick and 
the ground strewn with bowlders and fallen 
logs. Often, especially if in a restless mood 
and roaming much over the country, it merely 
makes a temporary bed, in which it lies but 
once or twice ; and again it may make a more 
permanent lair or series of lairs, spending 
many consecutive nights in each. Usually the 
lair or bed is made some distance from the 
feeding ground ; but bold bears, in very wild 
localities, may lie close by a carcass, or in the 
middle of a berry ground. The deer-killing 
bear above mentioned had evidently dragged 
two or three of his victims to his den, which 
was under an impenetrable mat of bullberries 
and dwarf box-alders, hemmed in by a cut 
bank on one side and a wall of gnarled cotton- 
woods on the other. Round this den, and ren 
dering it noisome, were scattered the bones of 
several deer and a young steer or heifer. 
When we found it we thought we could easily 
kill the bear, but the fierce, cunning beast must 
have seen or smelt us, for though we lay in 
wait for it long and patiently, it did not come 
back to its place; nor, on our subsequent visits, 
did we ever find traces of its having done so. 
Bear are fond of wallowing in the water, 



78 Hunting the Grisly 

whether in the sand, on the edge of a rapid 
plains river, on the muddy margin of a pond, 
or in the oozy moss of a clear, cold mountain 
spring. One hot August afternoon, as I was 
clambering down a steep mountain-side near 
Pend Oreille Lake, I heard a crash some dis 
tance below, which showed that a large beast 
was afoot. On making my way toward the 
spot, I found I had disturbed a big bear as it 
w^as lolling at ease in its bath ; the discolored 
water showed where it had scrambled hastily 
out and galloped off as I approached. The 
spring welled out at the base of a high granite 
rock, forming a small pool of shimmering 
broken crystal. The soaked moss lay in a deep 
wet cushion round about, and jutted over the 
edges of the pool like a floating shelf. Grace 
ful, water-loving ferns swayed to and fro. 
Above, the great conifers spread their mur 
muring branches, dimming the light, and 
keeping out the heat; their brown boles sprang 
from the ground like buttressed columns. On 
the barren mountain-side beyond the heat was 
oppressive. It was small wonder that Bruin 
should have sought the spot to cool his gross 
carcass in the fresh spring water. 

The bear is a solitary beast, and although 
many may assemble together, in what looks 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 79 

like a drove, on some favorite feeding-ground 
usually where the berries are thick, or by 
the banks of a salmon-thronged river the as 
sociation is never more than momentary, each 
going its own way as soon as its hunger is satis 
fied. The males always live alone by choice, 
save in the rutting season, when they seek the 
females. Then two or three may come to 
gether in the course of their pursuit and rough 
courtship of the female; and if the rivals are 
well matched, savage battles follow, so that 
many of the old males have their heads seamed 
with scars made by their fellows teeth. At 
such times they are evil tempered and prone 
to attack man or beast upon the slightest prov 
ocation. 

The she brings forth her cubs, one, two, or 
three in number, in her winter den. They are 
very small and helpless things, and it is some 
time after she leaves her winter home before 
they can follow her for any distance. They 
stay with her throughout the summer and the 
fall, leaving her when the cold weather sets in. 
By this time they are well grown; and hence, 
especially if an old male has joined the she, 
the family may number three or four individ 
uals, so as to make what seems like quite a lit 
tle troop of bears. A small ranchman who 



8o Hunting the Grisly 

lived a dozen miles from me on the Little 
Missouri once found a she-bear and three 
half-grown cubs feeding at a berry-patch in a 
ravine. He shot the old she in the small of 
the back, whereat she made a loud roaring 
and squealing. One of the cubs rushed to 
ward her; but its sympathy proved misplaced, 
for she knocked it over with a hearty cuff, 
either out of mere temper, or because she 
thought her pain must be due to an unpro 
voked assault from one of her offspring. 
The hunter then killed one of the cubs, and 
the other two escaped. When bears are to 
gether and one is wounded by a bullet, but 
does not see the real assailant, it often falls 
tooth and nail upon its comrade, apparently 
attributing its injury to the latter. 

Bears are hunted in many ways. Some are 
killed by poison; but this plan is only prac 
ticed by the owners of cattle or sheep who 
have suffered from their ravages. Moreover, 
they are harder to poison than wolves. Most 
often they are killed in traps, which are some 
times dead-falls, on the principle of the little 
figure 4 trap familiar to every American coun 
try boy, sometimes log-pens in which the ani 
mal is taken alive, but generally huge steel 
gins. In some States there is a bounty for the 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 81 

destruction of grislies; and in many places 
their skins have a market price, although 
much less valuable than those of the black 
bear. The men who pursue them for the 
bounty, or for their fur, as well as the ranch 
men who regard them as foes to stock, ordi 
narily use steel traps. The trap is very mas 
sive, needing no small strength to set, and it 
is usually chained to a bar or log of wood, 
which does not stop the bear s progress out 
right, but hampers and interferes with it, con 
tinually catching in tree stumps and the like. 
The animal when trapped makes off at once, 
biting at the trap and the bar; but it leaves a 
broad wake and sooner or later is found tan 
gled up by the chain and bar. A bear is by 
no means so difficult to trap as a wolf or fox 
although more so than a cougar or a lynx. 
In wild regions a skilful trapper can often 
catch a great many with comparative ease. A 
cunning old grisly, however, soon learns the 
danger, and is then almost impossible to trap, 
as it either avoids the neighborhood altogether 
or finds out some way by which to get at the 
bait without springing the trap, or else delib 
erately springs it first. I have been told of 
bears which spring traps by rolling across 
them, the iron jaws slipping harmlessly off the 



82 Hunting the Grisly 

big round body. An old horse is the most 
common bait.^ 

It is, of course, all right to trap bears when 
they are followed merely as vermin or for the 
sake of the fur. Occasionally, however, hunt 
ers who are out merely for sport adopt this 
method; but this should never be "done, To 
shoot a trapped bear for sport is a thoroughly 
unsportsmanlike proceeding. A funny plea 
sometimes advanced in its favor is that it is 
dangerous." No doubt in exceptional in 
stances this is true ; exactly as it is true that in 
exceptional instances it is "dangerous" for a 
butcher to knock over a steer in the slaughter 
house. A bear caught only by the toes may 
wrench itself free as the hunter comes near, 
and attack him with pain-maddened f ury ; or if 
followed at once, and if the trap and bar are 
light, it may be found in some thicket, still 
free, and in a frenzy of rage. But even in such 
cases the beast has been crippled, and though 
crazy with pain and anger is easily dealt with 
by a good shot; while ordinarily the poor brute 
is found in the last stages of exhaustion, tied 
tight to a tree where the log or bar has caught, 
its teeth broken to splintered stumps by rabid 
snaps at the cruel trap and chain. Some trap 
pers kill the trapped grislies with a revolver; 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 83 

so that it may easily be seen that the sport is 
not normally dangerous. Two of my own 
cowboys, Seawell and Dow, were originally 
from Maine, where they had trapped a num 
ber of black bears; and they always killed 
them either with a hatchet or a small 32- 
calibre revolver. One of them, Seawell, 
once came near being mauled by a trapped 
bear, seemingly at the last gasp, which 
he had approached most incautiously with 
his hatchet. 

There is, however, one very real danger to 
which the solitary bear-trapper is exposed, the 
danger of being caught in his own trap. The 
huge jaws of the gin are easy to spring and 
most hard to open. If an unwary passer-by 
should tread between them and be caught by 
the leg, his fate would be doubtful, though he 
would probably die under the steadily grow 
ing torment of the merciless iron jaws, as they 
pressed ever deeper into the sore flesh and 
broken bones. But if caught by the arms, 
while setting or fixing the trap, his fate would 
be in no doubt at all, for it would be impos 
sible for the stoutest man to free himself by 
any means. Terrible stories are told of soli 
tary mountain hunters who disappeared, and 
were found years later in the lonely wilder- 



84 Hunting the Grisly 

ness, as mouldering skeletons, the shattered 
bones of the forearms still held in the rusty 
jaws of the gin. 

Doubtless the grisly could be successfully 
hunted with dogs, if the latter were carefully 
bred and trained to the purpose, but as yet 
this has not been done, and though dogs are 
sometimes used as adjuncts in grisly hunting 
they are rarely of much service. It is some 
times said that very small dogs are the best 
for this end. But this is only so with grislies 
that have never been hunted. In such a case 
the big bear sometimes becomes so irritated 
with the bouncing, yapping little terriers or 
fice-dogs that he may try to catch them and 
thus permit the hunter to creep up on him. 
But the minute he realizes, as he speedily does, 
that the man is his real foe, he pays no further 
heed whatever to the little dogs, who can then 
neither bring him to bay nor hinder his flight. 
Ordinary hounds, of the kinds used in the 
South for fox, deer, wildcat, and black bear, 
are but little better. I have known one or 
two men who at different times tried to hunt 
the grisly with a pack of hounds and fice-dogs 
wonted to the chase of the black bear, but 
they never met with success. This was prob 
ably largely owing to the nature of the country 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 85 

in which they hunted, a vast tangled mass of 
forest and craggy mountain; but it was also 
due to the utter inability of the dogs to stop 
the quarry from breaking bay when it wished. 
Several times a grisly was bayed, but always 
in some inaccessible spot which it took hard 
climbing to reach, and the dogs were never 
able to hold the beast until the hunters came 
up. 

Still a well-trained pack of large hounds 
which were both bold and cunning could 
doubtless bay even a grisly. Such dogs are 
the big half-breed hounds sometimes used in 
the Alleghanies of West Virginia, which are 
trained not merely to nip a bear, but to grip 
him by the hock as he runs and either throw 
him or twirl him round. A grisly could not 
disregard a wary and powerful hound capable 
of performing this trick, even though he paid 
small heed to mere barking and occasional 
nipping. Nor do I doubt that it would be 
possible to get together a pack of many large 
fierce dogs, trained to dash straight at the 
head and hold on like a vise, which could 
fairly master a grisly and, though unable, of 
course, to kill him, would worry him breath 
less and hold him down so that he could be 
slain with ease. There have been instances in 



86 Hunting the Grisly 

which five or six of the big so-called blood- 
houndsof the Southern States not pure blood 
hounds at all, but huge, fierce, ban-dogs, with 
a cross of the ferocious Cuban bloodhound, 
to give them good scenting powers have by 
themselves mastered the cougar and the black 
bear. Such instances occurred in the hunting 
history of my own forefathers on my mother s 
side, who during the last half of the eigh 
teenth, and the first half of the present, century 
lived in Georgia and over the border in what 
are now Alabama and Florida. These big 
dogs can only overcome such foes by rushing 
in in a body and grappling all together; if they 
hang back, lunging and snapping, a cougar or 
bear will destroy them one by one. With a 
quarry so huge and redoubtable as the grisly, 
no number of dogs, however large and fierce, 
could overcome him unless they all rushed on 
him in a mass, the first in the charge seizing 
by the head or throat. If the dogs hung back, 
or if there were only a few of them, or if they 
did not seize around the head, they would be 
destroyed without an effort. It is murder to 
slip merely one or two close-quarter dogs at a 
grisly. Twice I have known a man take a 
large bulldog with his pack when after one of 
these big bears and in each case the result 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 87 

was the same. In one instance the bear was 
trotting when the bulldog seized it by the 
cheek, and without so much as altering its gait, 
it brushed off the hanging dog with a blow 
from the forepaw that broke the latter s back. 
In the other instance the bear had come to 
bay, and when seized by the ear it got the 
dog s body up to its jaws, and tore out the life 
with one crunch. 

A small number of dogs must rely on their 
activity, and must hamper the bear s escape 
by inflicting a severe bite and avoiding the 
counter-stroke. The only dog I ever heard of 
which, single-handed, was really of service 
in stopping a grisly, was a big Mexican sheep 
dog, once owned by the hunter rTazewell 
Woody. It was an agile beast with powerful 
jaws, and possessed both intelligence and a 
fierce, resolute temper. Woody killed three 
grislies with its aid. It attacked with equal 
caution and ferocity, rushing at the bear as 
the latter ran, and seizing the outstretched 
hock with a grip of iron, stopping the bear 
short, but letting go before the angry beast 
could whirl round and seize it. It was so 
active and wary that it always escaped dam 
age; and it was so strong and bit so severely 
that the bear could not possibly run from it 



88 Hunting the Grisly 

at any speed. In consequence, if it once came 
to close quarters with its quarry, Woody could 
always get near enough for a shot. 

Hitherto, however, the mountain hunters 
as distinguished from the trappers who have 
followed the grisly have relied almost solely 
on their rifles. In my own case about half 
the bears I have killed I stumbled across al 
most by accident; and probably this propor 
tion holds good generally. The hunter may 
be after bear at the time, or he may be after 
black-tail deer or elk, the common game in 
most of the haunts of the grisly; or he may 
merely be traveling through the country or 
prospecting for gold. Suddenly he comes over 
the edge of a cut bank, or round the sharp 
spur of a mountain or the shoulder of a cliff 
which walls in a ravine, or else the indistinct 
game trail he has been following through the 
great trees twists sharply to one side to avoid 
a rock or a mass of down timber, and behold he 
surprises old Ephraim digging for roots, or 
munching berries, or slouching along the path, 
or perhaps rising suddenly from the lush, rank 
plants amid which he has been lying. Or it 
may be that the bear will be spied afar root 
ing in an open glade or on a bare hill-side. 

In the still-hunt proper it is necessary to 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 89 

find some favorite feeding ground, where 
there are many roots or berry-bearing bushes, 
or else to lure the grisly to a carcass. This 
last method of "baiting" for bear is under or 
dinary circumstances the only way which af 
fords even a moderately fair chance of killing 
them. They are very cunning, with the sharp 
est of noses, and where they have had experi 
ence of hunters they dwell only in cover where 
it is almost impossible for the best still-hunters 
to approach them. 

Nevertheless, in favorable ground a man 
can often find and kill them by fair stalking, 
in berry time, or more especially in the early 
spring, before the snow has gone from the 
mountains, and while the bears are driven by 
hunger to roam much abroad and sometimes 
to seek their food in the open. In such cases 
the still-hunter is stirring by the earliest dawn, 
and walks with stealthy speed to some high 
point of observation from which he can over 
look the feeding-grounds where he has previ 
ously discovered sign. From the coign of 
vantage he scans the country far and near, 
either with his own keen eyes or with power 
ful glasses; and he must combine patience and 
good sight with the ability to traverse long 
distances noiselessly and yet at speed. He may 



90 Hunting the Grisly 

spend two or three hours sitting still and look 
ing over a vast tract of country before he will 
suddenly spy a bear; or he may see nothing 
after the most careful search in a given place, 
and must then go on half a dozen miles to an 
other, watching warily as he walks, and con 
tinuing this possibly for several days before 
getting a glimpse of his game. If the bear 
are digging roots, or otherwise procuring their 
food on the bare hill sides and table-lands, it 
is of course comparatively easy to see them; 
and it is under such circumstances that this 
kind of hunting is most successful. Once seen, 
the actual stalk may take two or three hours, 
the nature of the ground and the direction of 
the wind often necessitating a long circuit; 
perhaps a gully, a rock, or a fallen log offers 
a chance for an approach to within two hun 
dred yards, and although the hunter will, if 
possible, get much closer than this, yet even 
at such a distance a bear is a large enough 
mark to warrant risking a shot. 

Usually the berry grounds do not offer such 
favorable opportunities, as they often lie in 
thick timber, or are covered so densely with 
bushes as to obstruct the view: and they are 
rarely commanded by a favorable spot from 
which to spy. On the other hand, as already 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear 91 

said, bears occasionally forget all their watch 
fulness while devouring fruit, and make such 
a noise rending and tearing the bushes that, if 
once found, a man can creep upon them un 
observed. 



CHAPTER 

HUNTING THE GRISLY 

IF out in the late fall or early spring, it is 
often possible to follow a bear s trail in 
the snow; having come upon it either by 
chance or hard hunting, or else having found 
where it leads from some carcass on which the 
beast has been feeding. In the pursuit one 
must exercise great caution, as at such times 
the hunter is easily seen a long way off, and 
game is always especially watchful for any foe 
that may follow its trail. 

Once I killed a grisly in this manner. It 
was early in the fall, but snow lay on the 
ground, while the gray weather boded a storm. 
My camp was in a bleak, wind-swept valley, 
high among the mountains which form the 
divide between the headwaters of the Salmon 
and Clark s Fork of the Columbia. All night 
I had lain in my buffalo-bag, under the lee of 
a windbreak of branches, in the clump of fir- 
trees, where I had halted the preceding even 
ing. At my feet ran a rapid mountain torrent, 
(92) 



Hunting the Grisly 93 

its bed choked with ice-covered rocks ; I had 
been lulled to sleep by the stream s splashing 
murmur, and the loud moaning of the wind 
along the naked cliffs. At dawn I rose and 
shook myself free of the buffalo robe, coated 
with hoar-frost The ashes of the fire were 
lifeless; in the dim morning the air was bitter 
cold. I did not linger a moment, but snatched 
up my rifle, pulled on my fur cap and gloves 
and strode off up a side ravine ; as I walked 
I ate some mouthfuls of venison, left over from 
supper. 

Two hours of toil up the steep mountain 
brought me to the top of a spur. The sun had 
risen, but was hidden behind a bank of sullen 
clouds. On the divide I halted, and gazed 
out over a vast landscape, inconceivably wild 
and dismal. Around me towered the stupen 
dous mountain masses which make up the 
backbone of the Rockies. From my feet, as 
far as I could see, stretched a rugged and 
barren chaos of ridges and detached rock 
masses. Behind me, far below, the stream 
wound like a silver ribbon, fringed with dark 
conifers and the changing, dying foliage of 
poplar and quaking aspen. In front the bot 
toms of the valleys were filled with the som 
bre evergreen forest, dotted here and there 



94 Hunting the Grisly 

with black, ice-skimmed tarns; and the dark 
spruces clustered also in the higher gorges, 
and were scattered thinly along the moun 
tain sides. The snow which had fallen lay 
in drifts and streaks, while where the wind 
had scope it was blown off, and the ground 
left bare. 

For two hours I walked onward across the 
ridges and valleys. Then among some scat 
tered spruces, where the snow lay to the depth 
of half a foot, I suddenly came on the fresh, 
broad trail of a grisly. The brute was evi 
dently roaming restlessly about in search of a 
winter den, but willing, in passing, to pick up 
any food that lay handy. At once I took the 
trail, traveling above and to one side, and 
keeping a sharp lookout ahead. The bear was 
going across wind, and this made my task 
easy. I walked rapidly, though cautiously; 
and it was only in crossing the large patches 
of bare ground that I Had to fear making a 
noise. Elsewhere the snow muffled my foot 
steps, and made the trail so plain that T scarce 
ly had to waste a glance upon it, bending my 
eyes always to the front. 

At last, peering cautiously over a ridge 
crowned with broken rocks, I saw my quarry, 
a big, burly bear, with silvered fur. He had 



Hunting the Grisly 95 

halted on an open hillside, and was busily dig 
ging up the caches of some rock gophers or 
squirrels. He seemed absorbed in his work, 
and the stalk was easy. Slipping quietly back, 
I ran toward the end of the spur, and in ten 
minutes struck a ravine, of which one branch 
ran past within seventy yards of where the 
bear was working. In this ravine was a rather 
close growth of stunted evergreens, affording 
good cover, although in one or two places I 
had to lie down and crawl through the snow. 
When I reached the point for which I was 
aiming, the bear had just finished rooting, and 
was starting off. A slight whistle brought him 
to a standstill, and I drew a bead behind his 
shoulder, and low down, resting the rifle across 
the crooked branch of a dwarf spruce. At 
the crack he ran off at speed, making no 
sound, but the thick spatter of blood splashes, 
showing clear on the white snow, betrayed the 
mortal nature of the wound. For some min 
utes I followed the trail ; and then, topping a 
ridge, I saw the dark bulk lying motionless in 
a snowdrift at the foot of a low rock-wall, 
down which he had tumbled. 

The usual practice of the still-hunter who 
is after grisly is to toll it to baits. The hun 
ter either lies in ambush near the carcass, or 



96 Hunting the Grisly 

approaches it stealthily when he thinks the 
bear is at its meal. 

One day while camped near the Bitter Root 
Mountains in Montana I found that a bear 
had been feeding on the carcass of a moose 
which lay some five miles from the little open 
glade in which my tent was pitched, and I 
made up my mind to try to get a shot at it 
that afternoon. I stayed in camp till about 
three o clock, lying lazily back on the bed of 
sweet-smelling evergreen boughs, watching the 
pack ponies as they stood under the pines on 
the edge of the open, stamping now and then, 
and switching their tails. The air was still, 
the sky a glorious blue; at that hour in the 
afternoon even the September sun was hot. 
The smoke from the smouldering logs of the 
camp fire curled thinly upward. Little chip 
munks scuttled out from their holes to the 
packs, which lay in a heap on the ground, and 
then scuttled madly back again. A couple 
of drab-colored whiskey-jacks, with bold mien 
and fearless bright eyes, hopped and fluttered 
round, picking up the scraps, and uttering an 
extraordinary variety of notes, mostly dis 
cordant; so tame were they that one of them lit 
on my outstretched arm as I half dozed, bask 
ing in the sunshine. 



Hunting the Grisly 97 

When the shadows began to lengthen, I 
shouldered my rifle and plunged into the 
woods. At first my route lay along a moun 
tain side; then for half a mile over a windfall, 
the dead timber piled about in crazy confu 
sion. After that I went up the bottom of a 
valley by a little brook, the ground being car 
peted with a sponge of soaked moss. At the 
head of this brook was a pond covered with 
water-lilies; and a scramble through a rocky 
pass took me into a high, wet valley, where 
the thick growth of spruce was broken 
by occasional strips of meadow. In this 
valley the moose carcass lay, well at the up 
per end. 

In moccasined feet I trod softly through 
the soundless woods. Under the dark branches 
it was already dusk, and the air had the cool 
chill of evening. As I neared the clump 
where the body lay, I walked with* redoubled 
caution, watching and listening with strained 
alertness. Then I heard a twig snap; and 
my blood leaped, for I knew the bear was at 
his supper. In another moment I saw his 
shaggy, brown form. He was working with 
all his awkward giant strength, trying to bury 
trie carcass, twisting it to one side and the 
other with wonderful ease. Once he got an- 

VOL. III. 5 



98 Hunting the Grisly 

gry and suddenly gave it a tremendous cufl 
with his paw; in his bearing he had some 
thing half humorous, half devilish. I crept 
up within forty yards; but for several minutes 
he would not keep his head still. Then some 
thing attracted his attention in the forest, and 
he stood motionless looking toward it, broad 
side to me, with his forepaws planted on the 
carcass. This gave me my chance. I drew 
a very fine bead between his eye and ear, and 
pulled the trigger. He dropped like a steer 
when struck with a pole-axe. 

If there is a good hiding-place handy it is 
better to lie in wait at the carcass. One day 
on the headwaters of the Madison, I found 
that a bear was coming to an elk I had shot 
some days before; and I at once determined 
to ambush the beast when he came back that 
evening. The carcass lay in the middle of a 
valley a quarter of a mile broad. The bot 
tom of this valley was covered by an open 
forest of tall pines; a thick jungle of smaller 
evergreens marked where the mountains rose 
on either hand. There were a number of large 
rocks scattered here and there, one, of very 
convenient shape, being only some seventy or 
eighty yards from the carcass. Up this I 
clambered. It hid me perfectly, and on its 



Hunting the Grisly 99 

top was a carpet of soft pine needles, on which 
I could lie at my ease. 

Hour after hour passed by. A little black 
woodpecker with a yellow crest ran nimbly 
up and down the tree-trunks for some time 
and then flitted away with a party of chicka 
dees and nut-hatches. Occasionally a Clark s 
crow soared about overhead or clung in any 
position to the swaying end of a pine branch, 
chattering and screaming. Flocks of cross 
bills, with wavy flight and plaintive calls, flew 
to a small mineral lick near by, where they 
scraped the clay with their queer little beaks. 

As the westering sun sank out of sight be 
yond the mountains these sounds of bird-life 
gradually died away. Under the great pines 
the evening was still with the silence of pri 
meval desolation. The sense of sadness and 
loneliness, the melancholy of the wilderness, 
came over me like a spell. Every slight noise 
made my pulses throb as I lay motionless on 
the rock gazing intently into the gathering 
gloom. I began to fear that it would grow 
too dark to shoot before the grisly came. 

Suddenly and without warning, the great 
bear stepped out of the bushes and trod across 
the pine needles with such swift and silent 
footsteps that its bulk seemed unreal. It was 



ioo Hunting the Grisly 

very cautious, continually halting to peer 
around; and once it stood up on its hind legs 
and looked long down the valley toward the 
red west., As it reached the carcass I put a 
bullet between its shoulders. It rolled over, 
while the woods resounded with its savage 
roaring. Immediately it struggled to its feet 
and staggered off; and fell again to the next 
shot, squalling and yelling. Twice this was 
repeated; the brute being one of those bears 
which greet every wound with a great out 
cry, and sometimes seem to lose their feet 
when hit although they will occasionally 
fight as savagely as their more silent brethren. 
In this case, the wounds w r ere mortal, and the 
bear died before reaching the edge of the 
thicket. 

I spent much of the fall of 1889 hunting on 
the headwaters of the Salmon and Snake in 
Idaho, and along the Montana boundary line 
from the Big Hole Basin and the head of the 
Wisdom River to the neighborhood of Red 
Rock Pass and to the north and west of 
Henry s Lake. During the last fortnight my 
companion was the old mountain man, already 
mentioned, name Griffeth or Griffin I can 
not tell which, as he was always called either 
"Hank" or. "Griff." He was a crabbedly 



Hunting the Grioly io-i 

honest old fellow, and a very skilful hunter; 
but he was worn out with age and rheuma 
tism, and his temper had failed even faster 
than his bodily strength. He showed me a 
greater variety of game than I had ever seen 
before in so short a time; nor did I ever be 
fore or after make so successful a hunt. But 
Ke was an exceedingly disagreeable companion 
on account of his surly, moody ways. I gen 
erally had to get up first, to kindle the fire 
and make ready breakfast, and he was very 
quarrelsome. Finally, during my absence 
from camp one day, while not very far from 
Red Rock Pass, he found my whiskey-flask, 
which I kept purely for emergencies, and 
drank all the contents. When I came back 
he was quite drunk. This was unbearable, 
and after some high words I left him, and 
struck off homeward through the woods on 
my own account. We had with us four pack 
and saddle horses ; and of these I took a very 
intelligent and gentle little bronco mare, 
which possessed the invaluable trait of al 
ways staying near camp, even when not hob 
bled. I was not hampered with much of an 
outfit, having only my buffalo sleeping-bag, 
a fur coat, and my washing kit, with a couple 
of spare pairs of socks and some handker- 



Hunting the Grisly 

chiefs. A frying-pan, some salt, flour, bak 
ing-powder, a small chunk of salt pork, and a 
hatchet, made up a light pack, which, with 
the bedding, I fastened across the stock sad 
dle by means of a rope and a spare packing 
cinch. My cartridges and knife were in my 
belt; my compass and matches, as always, in 
my pocket. I walked, while the little mare 
followed almost like a dog, often without 
my having to hold the lariat which served as 
halter. 

The country was for the most part fairly 
open, as I kept near the foothills where glades 
and little prairies broke the pine forest. The 
trees were of small size. There was no regu 
lar trail, but the course was easy to keep, and 
I had no trouble of any kind save on the sec 
ond day. That afternoon I was following 
a stream which at last "canyoned up," that is, 
sank to the bottom of a canyon-like ravine 
impassable for a horse. I started up a side 
valley, intending to cross from its head coulies 
to those of another valley which would lead 
in below the canyon. 

However, I got enmeshed in the tangle of 
winding valleys at the foot of the steep moun 
tains, and as dusk was coming on I halted 
and camped in a little open spot by the side 



Hunting the Grisly 103 

of a small, noisy brook, with crystal water. 
The place was carpeted with soft, wet, green 
moss, dotted red with the kinnikinnic ber 
ries, and at its edge, under the trees where 
the ground was dry, I threw down the buffalo 
bed on the mat of sweet-smelling pine needles. 
Making camp took but a moment. I opened 
the pack, tossed the bedding on a smooth spot, 
knee-haltered the little mare, dragged up a 
few dry logs, and then strolled off, rifle on 
shoulder, through the frosty gloaming, to see 
if I could pick up a grouse for supper. 

For half a mile I walked quickly and si 
lently over the pine needles, across a succes 
sion of slight ridges separated by narrow, 
shallow valleys. The forest here was com 
posed of lodge-pole pines, which on the ridges 
grew close together, with tall slender trunks, 
while in the valleys the growth was more 
open. Though the sun was behind the moun 
tains there was yet plenty of light by which 
to shoot, but it was fading rapidly. 

At last, as I was thinking of turning toward 
camp, I stole up to the crest of one of the 
ridges, and looked over into the valley some 
sixty yards off. Immediately I caught the 
loom of some large, dark object; and another 
glance showed me a big grisly walking slowly 



104 Hunting the Grisly 

off with his head down. He was quartering 
to me, and I fired into his flank, the bullet, as 
I afterward found, ranging forward and 
piercing one lung. At the shot he uttered a 
loud, moaning grunt and plunged forward at 
a heavy gallop, while I raced obliquely down 
the hill to cut him off. After going a few 
hundred feet he reached a laurel thicket, some 
thirty yards broad, and two or three times as 
long, which he did not leave. I ran up to the 
edge and there halted, not liking to venture 
into the mass of twisted, close-growing stems 
and glossy foliage. Moreover, as I halted, I 
heard him utter a peculiar, savage kind of 
whine from the heart of the brush. Accord 
ingly, I began to skirt the edge, standing on 
tiptoe and gazing earnestly to see if I could 
not catch a glimpse of his hide. When I was 
at the narrowest part of the thicket, he sud 
denly left it directly opposite, and then 
wheeled and stood broadside to me on the 
hillside, a little above. He turned his head 
stiffly toward me; scarlet strings of froth 
hung from his lips ; his eyes burned like em 
bers in the gloom. 

I held true, aiming behind the shoulder, 
and my bullet shattered the point or lower 
end of his heart, taking out a big nick. In- 



Hunting the Grisly 105 

stantly the great bear turned with a harsh roar 
of fury and challenge, blowing the bloody 
foam from his mouth, so that I saw the gleam 
of his white fangs; and then he charged 
straight at me, crashing and bounding through 
the laurel bushes, so that it was hard to aim. 
I waited till he came to a fallen tree, raking 
him as he topped it with a ball, which entered 
his chest and went through the cavity of his 
body, but he neither swerved nor flinched, 
and at the moment I did not know that I 
had struck him. He came steadily on, and in 
another second was almost upon me. I fired 
for his forehead, but my bullet went low, 
entering his open mouth, smashing his lower 
jaw and going into the neck. I leaped to one 
side almost as I pulled the trigger; and 
through the hanging smoke the first thing I 
saw was his paw as he made a vicious side 
blow as me. The rush of his charge carried 
him past. As he struck he lurched forward, 
leaving a pool of bright blood where his muz 
zle hit the ground; but he recovered himself 
and made two or three jumps onward, while I 
hurriedly jammed a couple of cartridges into 
the magazine, my rifle holding only four, all 
of which I had fired. Then he tried to pull 
up, but as he did so his muscles seemed sud- 



io6 Hunting the Grisly 

denly to give way, his head drooped, and he 
rolled over and over like a shot rabbit. Each 
of my first three bullets had inflicted a mortal 
wound. 

It was already twilight, and I merely opened 
the carcass, and then trotted back to camp. 
Next morning I returned and with much labor 
took off the skin. The fur was very fine, the 
animal being in excellent trim, and unusually 
bright-colored. Unfortunately, in packing it 
out I lost the skull, and had to supply its 
place with one of plaster. The beauty of the 
trophy, and the memory of the circumstances 
under which I procured it, make me value it 
perhaps more highly than any other in my 
house. 

This is the only instance in which I have 
been regularly charged by a grisly. On the 
whole, the danger of hunting these great bears 
has been much exaggerated. At the begin 
ning of the present century, when white hunt 
ers first encountered the grisly, he was doubt 
less an exceedingly savage beast, prone to at 
tack without provocation, and a redoubtable 
foe to persons armed with the clumsy, small 
bore, muzzle-loading rifles of the day. But 
at present bitter experience has taught him 
caution. He has been hunted for sport, and 



Hunting the Grisly 107 

hunted for his pelt, and hunted for the bounty, 
and hunted as a dangerous enemy to stock, 
until, save in the very wildest districts, he 
has learned to be more wary than a deer, and 
to avoid man s presence almost as carefully 
as the most timid kind of game. Except in 
rare cases he will not attack of his own ac 
cord, and, as a rule, even when wounded, his 
object is escape rather than battle. 

Still, when fairly brought to bay, or when 
moved by a sudden fit of ungovernable anger, 
the grisly is beyond peradventure a very dan 
gerous antagonist. The first shot, if taken 
at a bear a good distance off and previously 
unwounded and unharried, is not usually 
fraught with much danger, the startled ani 
mal being at the outset bent merely on flight. 
It is always hazardous, however, to track a 
wounded and worried grisly into thick cover, 
and the man who habitually follows and kills 
this chief of American game in dense timber, 
never abandoning the bloody trail whitherso 
ever it leads, must show no small degree of 
skill and hardihood, and must not too closely 
count the risk to life and limb. Bears differ 
widely in temper, and occasionally one may 
be founH who will not show fight, no matter 
how much he is bullied; but, as a rule, a 



io8 Hunting the Grisly 

hunter must be cautious in meddling with a 
wounded animal which has retreated into a 
dense thicket, and has been once or twice 
roused; and such a beast, when it does turn, 
will usually charge again and again, and fight 
to the last with unconquerable ferocity. The 
short distance at which the bear can be seen 
through the underbrush, the fury of his 
charge, and his tenacity of life make it neces 
sary for the hunter on such occasions to have 
steady nerves and a fairly quick and accurate 
aim. It is always well to have two men in 
following a wounded bear under such con 
ditions. This is not necessary, however, and 
a good hunter, rather than lose his quarry, 
will, under ordinary circumstances^ follow 
and attack it, no matter how tangled the fast 
ness in which it has sought refuge; but he 
must act warily and with the utmost caution 
and resolution, if he wishes to escape a ter 
rible and probably fatal mauling. An ex 
perienced hunter is rarely rash, and never 
heedless; he will not, when alone, follow a 
wounded bear into a thicket, if by the exer 
cise of patience, skill, and knowledge of the 
game s habits he can avoid the necessity; but 
it is idle to talk of the feat as something which 
ought in no case to be attempted. While dan- 



Hunting the Grisly 109 

ger ought never to be needlessly incurred, it 
is yet true that the keenest zest in sport comes 
from its presence, and from the consequent 
exercise of the qualities necessary to over 
come it. The most thrilling moments of an 
American hunter s life are those in which, 
with every sense on the alert, and with nerves 
strung to the highest point, he is following 
alone into the heart of its forest fastness the 
fresh and bloody footprints of an angered 
grisly; and no other triumph of American 
hunting can compare with the victory to be 
thus gained. 

These big bears will not ordinarily charge 
from a distance of over a hundred yards; but 
there are exceptions to this rule. In the fall 
of 1890 my friend Archibald Rogers was 
hunting in Wyoming, south of the Yellow 
stone Park, and killed seven bears. One, an 
old he, was out on a bare tableland, grubbing 
for roots, when he was spied. It was early in 
the afternoon, and the hunters, who were 
on a high mountain slope, examined him for 
some time through their powerful glasses be 
fore making him out to be a bear. They 
then stalked up to the eclge of the wood which 
fringed the tableland on one side, but could 
get no nearer than about three hundred yards, 



no Hunting the Grisly 

the plains being barren of all cover. After 
waiting for a couple of hours Rogers risked 
the shot, in despair of getting nearer, and 
wounded the bear, though not very seriously. 
The animal made off, almost broadside to, 
and Rogers ran forward to intercept it. As 
soon as it saw him, it turned and rushed 
straight for him, not heeding his secon d 
shot, and evidently bent on charging home. 
Rogers then waited until it was within twenty 
yards, and brained it with his third bullet. 

In fact bears differ individually in courage 
and ferocity precisely as men do, or as the 
Spanish bulls, of which it is said that not 
more than one in twenty is fit to stand the 
combat of the arena. One grisly can scarcely 
be bullied into resistance; the next may fight 
to the end, against any odds, without flinch 
ing, or even attack unprovoked. Hence men 
of limited experience in this sport, general 
izing from the actions of the two or three 
bears each has happened to see or kill, often 
reach diametrically opposite conclusions as 
to the fighting temper anH capacity of the 
quarry. Even old hunters who indeed, as 
a class, are very narrow-minded and opin 
ionated often generalize just as rashly as 
beginners. One will portray all bears as very 



Hunting the Grisly in 

dangerous; another will speak and act as if 
he deemed them of no more consequence 
than so many rabbits. I knew one old hunt 
er who had killed a score without ever see 
ing one show fight. On the other hand, 
Dr. James C. Merrill, U. S. A., who has had 
about as much experience with bears as I 
have had, informs me that he has been charged 
with the utmost determination three times. 
In each case the attack was delivered be 
fore the bear was wounded or even shot at, 
the animal being roused by the approach of 
the hunters from his day bed, and charging 
headlong at them from a distance of twenty 
or thirty paces. All three bears were killed 
before they could do any damage. There 
was a very remarkable incident connected 
with the killing of one of them. It occurred 
in the northern spurs of the Bighorn range. 
Dr. Merrill, in company with an old hunter, 
had climbed clown into a deep, narrow can 
yon. The bottom was threaded with well- 
beaten elk trails. While following one of 
these the two men turned a corner of the 
canyon and were instantly charged by an old 
she-grisly, so close that it was only by good 
luck that one of the hurried shots disabled 
her and caused her to tumble over a cut bank 



ii2 Hunting the Grisly 

where she was easily finished. They found 
that she had been lying directly across the 
game trail, on a smooth well beaten patch 
of bare earth, which looked as if it had been 
dug up, refilled, and trampled down. Look 
ing curiously at this patch they saw a bit of 
hide only partially covered at one end; dig 
ging down they found the body of a well 
grown grisly cub. Its skull had been crushed, 
and the brains licked out, and there were signs 
of other injuries. The hunters pondered long 
over this strange discovery, and hazarded 
many guesses as to its meaning. At last they 
decided that probably the cub had been killed, 
and its brains eaten out, either by some old 
male grisly or by a cougar, that the mother 
had returned and driven away the murderer, 
and that she had then buried the body and 
lain above it, waiting to wreak her vengeance 
on the first passer-by. 

Old Tazewell Woody, during his thirty 
years life as a hunter in the Rockies and on 
the great plains, killed very many grislies, 
He always exercised much caution in dealing 
with them; and, as it happened, he was by 
some suitable tree in almost every case when 
he was charged. He would accordingly climb 
the tree (a practice of which I do not approve 



Hunting the Grisly 113 

however) ; and the bear would look up at 
him and pass on without stopping. Once, 
when he was hunting in the mountains with a 
companion, the latter, who was down in a val 
ley, while Woody was on the hillside, shot at 
a bear. The first thing Woody knew the 
wounded grisly, running uphill, was almost 
on him from behind. As he turned it seized 
his rifle in its jaws. He wrenched the rifle 
round, while the bear still gripped it, and 
pulled trigger, sending a bullet into its shoul 
der; whereupon it struck him with its paw, 
and knocked him over the rocks. By good 
luck he fell in a snow bank and was not hurt 
in the least. Meanwhile the bear went on 
and they never got it. 

Once he had an experience with a bear 
which showed a very curious mixture of rash 
ness and cowardice. He and a companion 
were camped in a little tepee or wigwam, with 
a bright fire in front of it, lighting up the 
night. There was an inch of snow on the 
ground. Just after they went to bed a grisly 
came close to camp. Their dog rushed out 
and they could hear it bark roun d in the dark 
ness for nearly an hour; then the bear drove 
it off and came right into camp. It went close 
to the fire, picking up the scraps of meat and 



ii4 Hunting the Grisly 

bread, pulled a haunch of venison down from 
a tree, and passed and repassed in front of 
the tepee, paying no heed whatever to the two 
men, who crouched in the doorway talking 
to one another. Once it passed so close that 
Woody could almost touch it. Finally his 
companion fired into it, and off it ran, badly 
wounded, without an attempt at retaliation. 
Next morning they followed its tracks in the 
snow, and found it a quarter of a mile away. 
It was near a pine and had buried itself under 
the loose earth, pine needles, and snow; 
Woody s companion almost walked over it, 
and putting his rifle to its ear blew out its 
brains. 

In all his experience Woody had personally 
seen but four men who were badly mauled by 
bears. Three of these were merely wounded. 
One was bitten terribly in the back. Another 
had an arm partially chewed off. The third 
was a man named George Dow, and the acci 
dent happened to him on the Yellowstone, 
about the year 1878. He was with a pack 
animal at the time, leading it on a trail through 
a wood. Seeing a big she-bear with cubs he 
yelled at her; whereat she ran away, but only 
to cache her cubs, and in a minute, having 
hidden them, came racing back at him. His 



Hunting the Grisly 115 

pack animal being slow he started to climb a 
tree; but before he could get far enough up 
she caught him, almost biting a piece out of 
the calf of his leg, pulled him down, bit and 
cuffed him two or three times, and then went 
on her way. 

The only time Woody ever saw a man killed 
by a bear was once when he had given a touch 
of variety to his life by shipping on a New 
Bedford whaler which had touched at one of 
the Puget Sound ports. The whaler went up 
to a part of Alaska where bears were very 
plentiful and bold. One day a couple of 
boats 7 crews landed; and the men, who were 
armed only with an occasional harpoon or 
larice, scattered over the beach, one of them, 
a Frenchman, wading into the water after 
shell-fish. Suddenly a bear emerged from 
some bushes and charged among the aston 
ished sailors, who scattered in every direc 
tion; but the bear, said Woody, "just had it 
in for that Frenchman," and went straight at 
him. Shrieking with terror he retreated up 
to his neck in the water; but the bear plunged 
in after him, caught him, and disemboweled 
him. One of the Yankee mates then fired a 
bomb lance into the bear s hips, and the sav 
age beast hobbled off into the dense cover of 



n6 Hunting the Grisly 

the low scrub, where the enraged sailor folk 
were unable to get at it. 

The truth is that while the grisly generally 
avoids a battle if possible, and often acts with 
great cowardice, it is never safe to take lib 
erties with him; he usually fights desperately 
and dies hard when wounded and cornered, 
and exceptional individuals take the aggres 
sive on small provocation. 

During the years I lived on the frontier I 
came in contact with many persons who had 
been severely mauled or even crippled for life 
by grislies; and a number of cases where they 
killed men outright were also brought under 
my ken. Generally these accidents, as was 
natural, occurred to hunters who had roused 
or wounded the game. 

A fighting bear sometimes uses his claws 
and sometimes his teeth. I have never known 
one to attempt to kill an antagonist by hug 
ging, in spite of the popular belief to this 
effect; though he will sometimes draw an 
enemy toward him with his paws the better 
to reach him with his teeth, and to hold him 
so that he can not escape from the biting. 
Nor does the bear often advance on his hind 
legs to the attack; though, if the man has 
come close to him in thick underbrush, or has 



Hunting the Grisly 117 

stumbled on him in his lair unawares, he will 
often rise up in this fashion and strike a sin 
gle blow. He will also rise in clinching with 
a man on horseback. In 1882 a mounted In 
dian was killed in this manner on one of the 
river bottoms some miles below where my 
ranch house now stands, not far from the junc 
tion of the Beaver and Little Missouri. The 
bear had been hunted into a thicket by a band 
of Indians, in whose company my informant, 
a white squaw-man, with whom I afterward 
did some trading, was traveling. One of them 
in the excitement of the pursuit rode across 
the end of the thicket; as he did so the great 
beast sprang at him with wonderful quick 
ness, rising on its hind legs, and knocking 
over the horse and rider with a single sweep 
of its terrible fore-paws. It then turned on 
the fallen man and tore him open, and though 
the other Indians came promptly to his res 
cue and slew his assailant, they were not in 
time to save their comrade s life. 

A bear is apt to rely mainly on his teeth or 
claws according to whether his efforts are di 
rected primarily to killing his foe or to mak 
ing good his own escape. In the latter event 
he trusts chiefly to his claws. If cornered, he 
of course makes a rush for freedom, and in 



n8 Hunting the Grisly 

that case he downs any man who is in his way 
with a sweep of his great paw, but passes on 
without stopping to bite him. If while sleep 
ing or resting in thick brush some one sud 
denly stumbles on him close up he pursues 
the same course, less from anger than from 
fear, being surprised and startled. Moreover, 
if attacked at close quarters by men and dogs 
he strikes right and left in defence. 

Sometimes what is called a charge is rather 
an effort to get away. In localities where he 
has been hunted, a bear, like every other kind 
of game, is always on the lookout for an at 
tack, and is prepared at any moment for im 
mediate flight. He seems ever to have in his 
mind, whether feeding, sunning himself, or 
merely roaming around, the direction usu 
ally toward the thickest cover or most broken 
ground in which he intends to run if mo 
lested. When shot at he instantly starts to 
ward this place; or he may be so confused 
that he simply runs he knows not whither; 
and in either event he may take a line that 
leads almost directly to or by the hunter, al 
though he had at first no thought of charg 
ing. In such a case he usually strikes a sin 
gle knock-down blow and gallops on with 
out halting, though that one blow may have 



Hunting the Grisly 119 

taken life. If the claws are long and fairly 
sharp (as in early spring, or even in the fall, 
if the animal has been working over soft 
ground) they add immensely to the effect of 
the blow, for they cut like blunt axes. Often, 
however, late in the season, and if the ground 
has been dry and hard, or rocky, the claws are 
worn down nearly to the quick, and the blow 
is then given mainly with the under side of 
the paw; although even under this disadvan 
tage a thump from a big bear will down a 
horse or smash in a man s breast. The hunter 
Hofer once lost a horse in this manner. He 
shot at and wounded a bear which rushed 
off, as ill luck would have it, past the place 
where his horse was picketed ; probably more 
in fright than in anger it struck the poor 
beast a blow which, in the end, proved mortal. 
If a bear means mischief and charges not to 
escape but to do damage, its aim is to grapple 
with or throw down its foe and bite him to 
death. The charge is made at a gallop, the 
animal sometimes coming on silently, with 
the mouth shut, and sometimes with the jaws 
open, the lips drawn back and teeth showing, 
uttering at the same time a succession of roars 
or of savage rasping snarls. Certain bears 
charge without any bluster and perfectly 



120 Hunting the Grisly 

straight; while others first threaten and bully, 
and even when charging stop to growl, shake 
the head, and bite at a bush or knock holes 
in the ground with their fore-paws. Again, 
some of them charge home with a ferocious 
resolution which their extreme tenacity of life 
renders especially dangerous ; while others can 
be turned or driven back even by a shot which 
is not mortal. They show the same variabil 
ity in their behavior when wounded. Often 
a big bear, especially if charging, will receive 
a bullet in perfect silence, without flinching 
or seeming to pay any heed to it; while an 
other will cry out and tumble about, and if 
charging, even though it may not abandon the 
attack, will pause for a moment to whine or 
bite at the wound. 

Sometimes a single bite causes death. One 
of the most successful bear hunters I ever 
knew, an old fellow whose real name I never 
heard as he was always called Old Ike, was 
killed in this way in the spring or early sum 
mer of 1886 on one of the head-waters of the 
Salmon. He was a very good shot, had killed 
nearly a hundred bears with the rifle, and, al 
though often charged, had never met with 
any accident, so that he had grown somewhat 
careless. On the day in question he had met a 



Hunting the Grisly 121 

couple of mining prospectors and was travel 
ing with them, when a grisly crossed his path. 
The old hunter immediately ran after it, rap 
idly gaining, as the bear did not hurry when 
it saw itself pursued, but slouched slowly for 
ward, occasionally turning its head to grin and 
growl. It soon went into a dense grove of 
young spruce, and as the hunter reached the 
edge it charged fiercely out. He fired one 
hasty shot, evidently wounding the animal, 
but not seriously enough to stop or cripple 
it; and as his two companions ran forward 
they saw the bear seize him with its wide 
spread jaws, forcing him to the ground. They 
shouted and fired, and the beast abandoned 
the fallen man on the instant and sullenly re 
treated into the spruce thicket, whither they 
dared not follow it. Their friend was at his 
last gasp; for the whole side of the chest had 
been crushed in by the one bite, the lungs 
showing between the rent ribs. 

Very often, however, a bear does not kill 
a man by one bite, but after throwing him 
lies on him, biting him to death. Usually, if 
no assistance is at hand, such a man is doomed; 
although if Ke pretends to be dead, and has 
the nerve to lie quiet under very rough treat 
ment, it is just possible that the bear may 

VOL. III. 6 



122 Hunting the Grisly 

leave him alive, perhaps after half burying 
what it believes to be the body. In a very 
few exceptional instances men of extraordi 
nary prowess with the knife have succeeded 
in beating off a bear, and even in mortally 
wounding it, but in most cases a single- 
handed struggle, at close quarters, with a 
grisly bent on mischief, means death. 

Occasionally the bear, although vicious, is 
also frightened, and passes on after giving one 
or two bites; and frequently a man who is 
knocked down is rescued by his friends be 
fore he is killed, the big beast mayhap using 
his weapons with clumsiness. So a bear may 
kill a foe with a single blow of its mighty fore 
arm, either crushing in the head or chest by 
sheer force of sinew, or else tearing open the 
body with its formidable claws ; and so on the 
other hand he may, and often does, merely dis 
figure or maim the foe by a hurried stroke. 
Hence it is common to see men who have es 
caped the clutches of a grisly, but only at the 
cost of features marred beyond recognition, 
or a body rendered almost helpless for life. 
Almost every old resident of western Mon 
tana or northern Idaho has known two or 
three unfortunates who have suffered in this 
manner. I have myself met one such man 



Hunting the Grisly 123 

in Helena, and another in Missoula; both 
were living at least as late as 1889, the date 
at which I last saw them. One had been par 
tially scalped by a bear s teeth; the animal 
was very old and so the fangs did not enter 
the skull. The other had been bitten across 
the face, and the wounds never entirely 
healed, so that his disfigured visage was 
hideous to behold. 

Most of these accidents occur in following 
a wounded or worried bear into thick cover; 
and under such circumstances an animal ap 
parently hopelessly disabled, or in the death 
throes, may with a last effort kill one or more 
of its assailants. In 1874 my wife s uncle, 
Captain Alexander Moore, U. S. A., and my 
friend Captain Bates, with some men of the 
ad and 3d Cavalry, were scouting in Wyo 
ming, near the Freezeout Mountains. One 
morning they roused a bear in the open 
prairie and followed it at full speed as it ran 
toward a small creek. At one spot in the 
creek beavers had built a dam, and as usual 
in such places there was a thick growth of 
bushes and willow saplings. Just as the bear 
reached the edge of this little jungle it was 
struck by several balls, both of its forelegs 
being broken. Nevertheless, it managed to 



124 Hunting the Grisly 

shove itself forward on its hind-legs, and 
partly rolled, partly pushed itself into the 
thicket, the bushes though low being so dense 
that its body was at once completely hidden. 
The thicket was a mere patch of brush, not 
twenty yards across in any direction. The 
leading troopers reached the edge almost as 
the bear tumbled in. One of them, a tall and 
powerful man named Miller, instantly dis 
mounted and prepared to force his way in 
among the dwarfed willows, which were but 
breast-high. Among the men who had rid 
den up were Moore and Bates, and also the 
two famous scouts, Buffalo Bill long a com 
panion of Captain Moore, and California 
Joe, Custer s faithful follower. California 
Joe had spent almost all his life on the plains 
and in the mountains, as a hunter and Indian 
fighter; and when he saw the trooper about to 
rush into the thicket he called out to him not 
to do so, warning him of the danger. But the 
man was a very reckless fellow and he an 
swered by jeering at the old hunter for his 
over-caution in being afraid of a crippled 
bear. California Joe made no further effort 
to dissuade him, remarking quietly: "Very 
well, sonny, go in; it s your own affair." Mil 
ler then leaped off the bank on which they 



Hunting the Grisly 125 

stood and strode into the thicket, holding his 
rifle at the port. Hardly had he taken three 
steps when the bear rose in front of him, roar 
ing with rage and pain. It was so close that 
the man had no chance to fire. Its fore-arms 
hung useless and as it reared unsteadily on its 
hind-legs, lunging forward at him, he seized 
it by the ears and strove to hold it back. His 
strength was very great, and he actually kept 
the huge head from his face and braced him 
self so that he was not overthrown; but the 
bear twisted its muzzle from side to side, bit 
ing and tearing the man s arms and shoulders. 
Another soldier jumping down slew the beast 
with a single bullet, and rescued his comrade; 
but though alive he was too badly hurt to 
recover and died after reaching the hospital. 
Buffalo Bill was given the bear-skin, and I 
believe he has it now. 

The instances in whicK hunters who have 
rashly followed grislies into thick cover have 
been killed or severely mauled might be mul 
tiplied indefinitely. I have myself known 
of eight cases in which men have met their 
deaths in this manner. 

It occasionally happens that a cunning old 
grisly will lie so close that the hunter almost 
steps on him ; and he then rises suddenly with 



i26 Hunting the Grisly 

a loud, coughing growl and strikes down or 
seizes the man before the latter can fire off 
his rifle. More rarely a bear which is both 
vicious and crafty deliberately permits the 
hunter to approach fairly near to, or per 
haps pass by, its hiding-place, and then 
suddenly charges him with such rapidity 
that he has barely time for the most hur 
ried shot. The danger in such a case is of 
course great. 

Ordinarily, however, even in the brush, the 
bear s object is to slink away, not to fight, 
and very many are killed even under the most 
unfavorable circumstances without accident. 
If an unwounded bear thinks itself unob 
served it is not apt to attack; and in thick 
cover it is really astonishing to see how one 
of these large animals can hide, and how close 
ly it will lie when there is danger. About 
twelve miles below my ranch there are some 
large river bottoms and creek bottoms cov 
ered with a matted mass of cottonwood, box- 
alders, bullberry bushes, rosebushes, ash, wild 
plums, and other bushes. These bottoms have 
harbored bear ever since I first saw them; 
but, though often in company with a large 
party, I have repeatedly beaten through them, 
and though we must at times have been very 



Hunting the Grisly 127 

near indeed to the game, we never so much 
as heard it run. 

When bears are shot, as they usually must 
be, in open timber or on the bare mountain, 
the risk is very much less. Hundreds may 
thus be killed with comparatively little dan 
ger; yet even under these circumstances they 
will often charge, and sometimes make their 
charge good. The spice of danger, especially 
to a man armed with a good repeating rifle, 
is only enough to add zest to the chase, and 
the chief triumph is in outwitting the wary 
quarry and getting within range. Ordinarily 
the only excitement is in the stalk, the bear 
doing nothing more than keep a keen lookout 
and manifest the utmost anxiety to get away. 
As is but natural, accidents occasionally oc 
cur; yet they are usually due more to some 
failure in man or weapon than to the prowess 
of the bear. A good hunter whom I once 
knew, at a time when he was living in Butte, 
received fatal injuries from a bear he attacked 
in open woodland. The beast charged after 
the first shct, but slackened its pace on com 
ing almost up to the man. The latter s gun 
jammed, and as he was endeavoring to work 
it he kept stepping slowly back, facing the 
bear which followed a few yards distant, 



128 Hunting the Grisly 

snarling and threatening. Unfortunately 
while thus walking backward the man struck 
a dead log and fell over it, whereupon the 
beast instantly sprang upon him and mortally 
wounded him before help arrived. 

On rare occasions men who are not at the 
time hunting it fall victims to the grisly. 
This is usually because they stumble on it un 
awares and the animal attacks them more in 
fear than in anger. One such case, resulting 
fatally, occurred near my own ranch. The 
man walked almost over a bear while crossing 
a little point of brush, in a bend of the river, 
and was brained with a single blow of the 
paw. In another instance which came to my 
knowledge the man escaped with a shaking 
up, and without even a fright. His name 
was Perkins, and he was out gathering huckle 
berries in the woods on a mountain side near 
Pend d Oreille Lake. Suddenly he was sent 
flying head over heels, by a blow w r hich com 
pletely knocked the breath out of his body; 
and so instantaneous was the whole affair that 
all he could ever recollect about it was get 
ting a vague glimpse of the bear just as he 
was bowled over. When he came to he found 
himself lying some distance down the hill 
side, much shaken, and without his berry pail, 



Hunting the Grisly 129 

which had rolled a hundred yards below him, 
but not otherwise the worse for his misad 
venture; while the footprints showed that the 
bear, after delivering the single hurried stroke 
at the unwitting disturber of its day-dreams, 
had run off uphill as fast as it was able. 

A she-bear with cubs is a proverbially dan 
gerous beast; yet even under such conditions 
different grislies act in directly opposite ways. 
Some she-grislies, when their cubs are young, 
but are able to follow them about, seem al 
ways worked up to the highest pitch of anx 
ious and jealous rage, so that they are likely 
to attack unprovoked any intruder or even 
passer-by. Others when threatened by the 
hunter leave their cubs to their fate without 
a visible qualm of any kind, and seem to 
think only of their own safety. 

In 1882 Mr. Caspar W. Whitney, now of 
New York, met with a very singular adven 
ture with a she-bear and cub. He was in 
Harvard when I was, but left it and, like a 
good many other Harvard men of that time, 
took to cow-punching in the West. He went 
on a ranch in Rio Arriba County, New Mexi 
co, and was a keen hunter, especially fond of 
the chase of cougar, bear, and elk. One day 
while riding a stony mountain trail he saw 



130 Hunting the Grisly 

a little grisly cub watching him from the 
chaparral above, and he dismounted to try to 
capture it; his rifle was a 40-90 Sharps. Just 
as he neared the cub, he heard a growl and 
caught a glimpse of the old she, and he at 
once turned uphill, and stood under some tall, 
quaking aspens. From this spot he fired at 
and wounded the she, then seventy yards off; 
and she charged furiously. He hit her again, 
but as she kept coming like a thunderbolt he 
climbed hastily up the aspen, dragging his 
gun with him, as it had a strap. When the 
bear reached the foot of the aspen she reared, 
and bit and clawed the slender trunk, shak 
ing it for a moment, and he shot her through 
the eye. Off she sprang for a few yards, and 
then spun round a dozen times, as if dazed 
or partially stunned; for the bullet had not 
touched the brain. Then the vindictive and 
resolute beast came back to the tree and again 
reared up against it; this time to receive a bul 
let that dropped her lifeless. Mr Whitney 
then climbed down and walked to where the 
cub had been sitting as a looker-on, The lit- 
tie animal did not move until he reache d out 
his hand; when it suddenly struck at him 
like an angry cat, dived into the bushes, and 
was seen no more. 



Hunting the Grisly 131 

In the summer of 1888 an old-time trapper, 
named Charley Norton, while on Loon Creek, 
of the middle fork of the Salmon, meddled 
with a she and her cubs. She ran at him and 
with one blow of her paw almost knocked 
off his lower jaw; yet he recovered, and was 
alive when I last heard of him. 

Yet the very next spring the cowboys with 
my own wagon on the Little Missouri round 
up killed a mother bear which made but little 
more fight than a coyote. She had two cubs, 
and was surprised in the early morning on the 
prairie far from cover. There were eight or 
ten cowboys together at the time, just starting 
off on a long circle, and of course they all got 
down their ropes in a second, and putting 
spurs to their fiery little horses started toward 
the bears at a run, shouting and swinging 
their loops round their heads. For a moment 
the old she tried to bluster and made a half 
hearted threat of charging; but her courage 
failed before the rapid onslaught of her yell 
ing, rope-swinging assailants; and she took 
to her heels and galloped off, leaving the cubs 
to shift for themselves. The cowboys were 
close behind, however, and after half a mile s 
run she bolted into a shallow cave or hole in 
the side of a butte, where she stayed cowering 



132 Hunting the Grisly 

and growling, until one of the men leaped off 
his horse, ran up to the edge of the hole, and 
killed her with a single bullet from his re 
volver, fired so close that the powder burned 
her hair. The unfortunate cubs \vere roped, 
and then so dragged about that they were 
speedily killed instead of being brought alive 
to camp, as ought to have been done. 

In the cases mentioned above the grisly at 
tacked only after having been itself assailed, 
or because it feared an assault, for itself or 
for its young. In the old days, however, it 
may almost be said that a grisly was more apt 
to attack than to flee. Lewis and Clark and 
the early explorers who immediately suc 
ceeded them, as well as the first hunters and 
trappers, the "Rocky Mountain men" of the 
early decades of the present century, were 
repeatedly assailed in this manner; and not 
a few of the bear hunters of that period found 
that it was unnecessary to take much trouble 
about approaching their quarry, as the grisly 
was usually prompt to accept the challenge 
and to advance of its own accord, as soon as 
it discovered the foe. All this is changed now. 
Yet even at the present day an occasional 
vicious old bear may be found, in some far-off 
and little-trod fastness, which still keeps up 



Hunting the Grisly 133 

the former habit of its kind. All old hunters 
have tales of this sort to relate, the prowess, 
cunning, strength, and ferocity of the grisly 
being favorite topics for camp-fire talk 
throughout the Rockies; but in most cases 
it is not safe to accept these stories without 
careful sifting. 

Still, it is just as unsafe to reject them all. 
One of my own cowboys was once attacked 
by a grisly, seemingly in pure wantonness. 
He was riding up a creek bottom, and had 
just passed a clump of rose and bullberry 
bushes when his horse gave such a leap as al 
most to unseat him, and then darted madly 
forward. Turning round in the saddle, to his 
utter astonishment he saw a large bear gallop 
ing after him, at the horse s heels. For a few 
jumps the race was close, then the horse drew 
away and the bear wheeled and went into a 
thicket of wild plums. The amazed and in- 
idignant cowboy, as soon as he could rein in 
his steed, drew his revolver an d rode back 
to and around the thicket, endeavoring to pro 
voke his late pursuer to come out and try con 
clusions on more equal terms; but prudent 
Ephraim had apparently repented of his 
freak of ferocious bravado, and declined to 
leave the secure shelter of the jungle. 



134 Hunting the Grisly 

Other attacks are of a much more explicable 
nature. Mr. Huffman, the photographer of 
Miles City, informed me that once when 
butchering some slaughtered elk he was 
charged twice by a she-bear and tw r o well- 
grown cubs. This w r as a piece of sheer bul 
lying, undertaken solely with the purpose of 
driving away the man and feasting on the 
carcasses; for in each charge the three bears, 
after advancing w r ith much blustering, roar 
ing, and growling, halted just before coming 
to close quarters. In another instance a gen 
tleman I once knew, a Mr. S. Carr, was 
charged by a grisly from mere ill temper at 
being disturbed at meal-time. The man was 
riding up a valley; and the bear was at an 
elk carcass, near a clump of firs. As soon 
as it became aware of the approach of the 
horseman, while he was yet over a hundred 
yards distant, it jumped on the carcass, looked 
at him a moment, and then ran straight for 
him. There was no particular reason why it 
should have charged, for it was fat and in 
good trim, though when killed its head showed 
scars made by the teeth of rival grislies. Ap 
parently it had been living so well, princi 
pally on flesh, that it had become quarrel 
some; and perhaps its not over sweet dispo- 



Hunting the Grisly 135 

sition had been soured by combats with others 
of its own kind. In yet another case, a grisly 
charged with even less excuse. An old trap 
per, from whom I occasionally bought fur, 
was toiling up a mountain pass when he spied 
a big bear sitting on his haunches on the hill 
side above. The trapper shouted and waved 
his cap; whereupon, to his amazement, the 
bear uttered a loud "wough" and charged 
straight down on him only to fall a victim 
to misplaced boldness. 

I am even inclined to think that there have 
been wholly exceptional occasions when a 
grisly has attacked a man with the deliberate 
purpose of making a meal of him; when, in 
other words, it has started on the career of a 
man-eater. At least, on any other theory I 
find it difficult to account for an attack which 
once came to my knowledge. I was at Sand 
Point, on Fend d Oreille Lake, and met some 
French and Meti trappers, then in town with 
their bales of beaver, otter, and sable. One 
of them, who gave his name as Baptiste La- 
moche, had his head twisted over to one side, 
the result of the bite of a bear. When the 
accident occurred he was out on a trapping 
trip with two companions. They had pitched 
camp right on the shore of a cove in a little 



136 Hunting the Grisly 

lake, and his comrades were off fishing in a 
dugout or pirogue. He himself was sitting 
near the shore, by a little lean-to, watching 
some beaver meat which was sizzling over the 
dying embers. Suddenly, and without warn 
ing, a great bear, which had crept silently up 
beneath the shadows of the tall evergreens, 
rushed at him, with a guttural roar, and seized 
him before he could rise to his feet. It 
grasped him with its jaws at the junction of 
the neck and shoulder, making the teeth meet 
through bone, sinew, and muscle; and turn 
ing, tracked off toward the forest, dragging 
with it the helpless and paralyzed victim. 
Luckily the two men in the canoe had just 
paddled round the point, in sight of, and 
close to, camp. The man in the bow, seeing 
the plight of their comrade, seized his rifle 
and fired at the bear. The bullet went through 
the beast s lungs, and it forthwith dropped 
its prey, and running off some two hun 
dred yards, lay down on its side and died. 
The rescued man recovered full health and 
strength, but never again carried his head 
straight. 

Old hunters and mountain men tell many 
stories, not only of malicious grislies thus at 
tacking men in camp, but also of their even 



Hunting the Grisly 137 

dogging the footsteps of some solitary hunter 
and killing him when the favorable oppor 
tunity occurs. Most of these tales are mere 
fables; but it is possible that in altogether 
exceptional instances they rest on a founda 
tion of fact. One old hunter whom I knew 
told me such a story. He was a truthful old 
fellow, and there was no doubt that he be 
lieved what he said, and that his companion 
was actually killed by a bear; but it is prob 
able that he was mistaken in reading the signs 
of his comrade s fate, and that the latter was 
not dogged by the bear at all, but stumbled 
on him and was slain in the surprise of the 
moment 

At any rate, cases of wanton assaults by 
grislies are altogether out of the common. 
The ordinary hunter may live out his whole 
life in the wilderness and never know aught 
of a bear attacking a man unprovoked; and 
the great majority of bears are shot under 
circumstances of no special excitement, as they 
either make no fight at all, or, if they do fight, 
are killed before there is any risk of their 
doing damage. If surprised on the plains, 
at some distance from timber or from badly 
broken ground, it is no uncommon feat for 
a single horseman to kill them with a revol- 



ij 8 Hunting the Grisly 

ver. Twice of late years it has been per 
formed in the neighborhood of my ranch. 
In both instances the men were not hunters 
out after game, but simply cowboys, riding 
over the range in early morning in pursu 
ance of their ordinary duties among the cat 
tle. I knew both men and have worked with 
them on the round-up. Like most cowboys 
they carried 44-calibre Colt revolvers, and 
were accustomed to and fairly expert in their 
use, and they were mounted on ordinary cow- 
ponies quick, wiry, plucky little beasts. In 
one case the bear was seen from quite a dis 
tance, lounging across a broad tableland. 
The cowboy, by taking advantage of a wind 
ing and rather shallow coulie, got quite close 
to him. He then scrambled out of the coulie, 
put spurs to his pony, and raced up to within 
fifty yards of the astonished bear ere the lat 
ter quite understood what it was that was 
running at him through the gray dawn. He 
made no attempt at fight, but ran at top speed 
toward a clump of brush not far off at the 
head of a creek. Before he could reach it, 
however, the galloping horseman was along 
side, and fired three shots into his broad back. 
He did not turn, but ran on into the bushes 
and then fell over and died. 



Hunting the Grisly 139 

In the other case the cowboy, a Texan, was 
mounted on a good cutting pony, a spirited, 
handy, agile little animal, but excitable, and 
with a habit of dancing, which rendered it 
difficult to shoot from its back. The man was 
with the rourid-up wagon, and had been sent 
off by himself to make a circle through some 
low, barren buttes, where it was not thought 
more than a few head of stock would be 
found. On rounding the corner of a small 
washout he almost ran over a bear which was 
feeding on the carcass of a steer that had 
died in an alkali hole. After a moment of 
stunned surprise the bear hurled himself at 
the intruder with furious impetuosity; while 
the cowboy, wheeling his horse on its haunches 
and dashing in the spurs, carried it just clear 
of his assailant s headlong rush. After a few 
springs he reined in and once more wheeled 
half round, having drawn his revolver, only 
to find the bear again charging and almost 
on him. This time he fired into it, near the 
joining of the neck and shoulder, the bullet 
going downward into the chest hollow; and 
again by a quick dash to one side he just 
avoided the rush of the beast and the sweep 
of its mighty forepaw. The bear then halted 
for a minute, and he rode close by it at a 



14 Hunting the Grisly 

run, firing a couple of shots, which brought 
on another resolute charge. The ground was 
quite rugged and broken, but his pony was 
as quick on its feet as a cat, and never stum 
bled, even when going at full speed to avoid 
the bear s first mad rushes. It speedily be 
came so excited, however, as to render it al 
most impossible for the rider to take aim. 
Sometimes he would come up close to the 
bear and wait for it to charge, which it would 
do, first at a trot, or rather rack, and then at 
a lumbering but swift gallop; and he would 
fire one or two shots before being forced to 
run. At other times, if the bear stood still 
in a good place, he would run by it, firing 
as he rode. He spent many cartridges, and 
though most of them were wasted, occasion 
ally a bullet went home. The bear fought 
with the most savage courage, champing its 
bloody jaws, roaring with rage, and looking 
the very incarnation of evil fury. For some 
minutes it made no effort to flee, either charg 
ing or standing at bay. Then it began to 
move slowly toward a patch of ash and wild 
plums in the head of a coulie, some distance 
off. Its pursuer rode after it, and when close 
enough would push by it and fire, while the 
bear would spin quickly round and charge as 



Hunting the Grisly 141 

fiercely as ever, thougri evidently beginning 
to grow weak. At last, when still a couple 
of hundred yards from cover, the man found 
he had used up all his cartridges, and then 
merely followed at a safe distance. The bear 
no longer paid heed to him, but walked slow 
ly forward, swaying its great head from side 
to side, while the blood streamed from be 
tween its half-opened jaws. On reaching the 
cover he could tell by the waving of the bushes 
that it walked to the middle and then halted. 
A few minutes afterward some of the other 
cowboys rode up, having been attracted by 
the incessant firing. They surrounded the 
thicket, firing and throwing stones into the 
bushes. Finally, as nothing moved, they ven 
tured in and found the indomitable grisly 
warrior lying dead. 

Cowboys delight in nothing so much as the 
chance to show their skill as riders and 
ropers; and they always try to ride down and 
rope any wild animal they come across in 
favorable ground and close enough up. If a 
party of them meets a bear in the open they 
have great fun; and the struggle between the 
shouting, galloping rough-riders and their 
shaggy quarry is full of wild excitement and 
not unaccompanied by danger. The bear 



142 Hunting the Grisly 

often throws the noose from his head so rap 
idly that it is a difficult matter to catch him ; 
and his frequent charges scatter his tormentors 
in every direction, while the horses become 
wild with fright over the roaring, bristling 
beast for horses seem to dread a bear more 
than any other animal. If the bear can not 
reach cover, however, his fate is sealed. 
Sooner or later, the noose tightens over one 
leg, or perchance over the neck and forepaw, 
and as the rope straightens with a "pluck," 
the horse braces itself desperately and the 
bear tumbles over. Whether he regains his 
feet or not the cowboy keeps the rope taut; 
soon another noose tightens over a leg, and 
the bear is speedily rendered helpless. 

I have known of these feats being per 
formed several times in northern Wyoming, 
although never in the immediate neighbor 
hood of my ranch. Mr, Archibald Roger s 
cowhands have in this manner caught several 
bears, on or near his ranch on the Gray Bull, 
which flows into the Bighorn; and those of 
Mr. .G. B. Grinnell have also occasionally 
done so. Any set of moderately good ropers 
and riders, who are accustomed to back one 
another up and act together, can accomplish 
the feat if they have smooth ground and 



Hunting the Grisly 143 

plenty of room. It is, however, indeed a feat 
of skill and daring for a single man; and 
yet I have known of more than one instance 
in which it has been accomplished by some 
reckless knight of the rope and the saddle. 
One such occurred in 1887 on tfie Flathead 
Reservation, the hero being a half-breed; and 
another in 1890 at the mouth of the Bighorn, 
where a cowboy roped, bound, and killed a 
large bear single-handed. 

My friend General "Red" Jackson, of 
Bellemeade, in the pleasant mid-county of 
Tennessee, once did a feat which casts into 
the shade even the feats of the men of the 
lariat. General Jackson, who afterward be 
came one of the ablest and most renowned 
of the Confederate cavalry leaders, was at the 
time a young officer in the Mounted Rifle 
Regiment, now known as the 3d United States 
Cavalry. It was some years before the Civil 
War, and the regiment was on duty in the 
Southwest, then the debatable land of Co- 
manche and Apache. While on a scout after 
hostile Indians, the troops in their march 
roused a large grisly which sped off across 
the plain in front of them. Strict orders had 
been issued against firing at game, because 
of the nearness of the Indians. Young Jack- 



144 Hunting the Grisly 

son was a man of great strength", a keen 
swordsman, who always kept the finest edge 
on his blade, and he was on a swift and met 
tled Kentucky horse, which luckily had but 
one eye. Riding at full speed he soon over 
took the quarry. As the horse hoofs sounded 
nearer, the grim bear ceased its flight, and 
whirling round stood at bay, raising itself on 
its hind-legs and threatening its pursuer with 
bared fangs and spread claws. Carefully rid 
ing his horse so that its blind side should be 
toward the monster, the cavalryman swept by 
at a run, handling his steed with such daring 
skill that he just cleared the blow of the 
dreaded forepaw, while with one mighty 
sabre stroke he cleft the bear s skull, slaying 
the grinning beast as it stood upright. 



N 



CHAPTER V 

THE COUGAR 

O animal of the chase is so difficult to 
kill by fair still-hunting as the cougar 
that beast of many names, known in the East 
as panther and painter, in the West as moun 
tain lion, in the Southwest as Mexican lion, 
and in the southern continent as lion and 
puma. 

Without hounds its pursuit is so uncertain 
that from the still-hunter s standpoint it hard 
ly deserves to rank as game at all though, by 
the way, it is itself a more skilful still-hunter 
than any human rival. It prefers to move 
abroad by night or at dusk; and in the day 
time usually lies hid in some cave or tangled 
thicket where it is absolutely impossible even 
to stumble on it by chance. It is a beast of 
stealth and rapine, its great velvet paws 
never make a sound, and it is always on the 
watch whether for prey or for enemies, while 
it rarely leaves shelter even when it thinks 

VOL. III. (145) 7 



146 Hunting the Grisly 

itself safe. Its soft, leisurely movements and 
uniformity of color make it difficult to dis 
cover at best, and its extreme watchfulness 
helps it; but it is the cougar s reluctance to 
leave cover at any time, its habit of slinking 
off through the brush, instead of running in 
the open, when startled, and the way in which 
it lies motionless in its lair even when a man 
is within twenty yards, that render it so diffi 
cult to still-hunt. 

In fact it is next to impossible with any 
hope of success regularly to hunt the cougar 
without dogs or bait. Most cougars that are 
killed by still-hunters are shot by accident 
while the man is after other game. This has 
been my own experience. Although not com 
mon, cougars are found near my ranch, where 
the ground is peculiarly favorable for the 
solitary rifleman; and for ten years I have, 
off and on, devoted a day or two to their pur 
suit; but never successfully. One December 
a large cougar took up his abode on a densely 
wooded bottom two miles above the ranch 
house. I did not discover his existence until 
I went there one evening to kill a deer, and 
found that he had driven all the deer off 
the bottom, having killed several, as well as 
a young heifer. Snow was falling at the time, 



The Cougar 147 

but the storm was evidently almost over; the 
leaves were all off the trees and bushes; and 
I felt that next day there would be such a 
chance to follow the cougar as fate rarely 
offered. In the morning by dawn I was at 
the bottom, and speedily found his trail. Fol 
lowing it I came across his bed, among some 
cedars in a dark, steep gorge, where the 
buttes bordered the bottom. He had evidently 
just left it, and I followed his tracks all day. 
But I never caught a glimpse of him, and late 
in the afternoon I trudged wearily homeward. 
When I went out next morning I found that 
as soon as I abandoned the chase, my quarry, 
according to the uncanny habit sometimes 
displayed by his kind, coolly turned likewise, 
and deliberately dogged my footsteps to with 
in a mile of the ranch house; his round foot 
prints being as clear as writing in the snow. 

This was the best chance of the kind that 
I ever ha d; but again and again I have found 
fresh signs of cougar, such as a lair which 
they had just left, game they had killed, or 
one of our venison caches which they had 
robbed, and have hunte d for them all day 
without success. My failures were doubtless 
Hue in part to various shortcomings in hun 
ter Vcraft on my own part; but equally with- 



148 Hunting the Grisly 

out doubt they were mainly due to the quarry s 
wariness and its sneaking ways. 

I have seen a wild cougar alive but twice, 
and both times by chance. On one occasion 
one of my men, Merrifield, and I surprised 
one eating a skunk in a bullberry patch; and 
by our own bungling frightened it away from 
its unsavory repast without getting a shot. 

On the other occasion luck befriended me. 
I was with a pack train in the Rockies, and 
one day, feeling lazy, and as we had no meat 
in camp, I determined to try for deer by 
lying in wait beside a recently traveled game 
trail. The spot I chose was a steep, pine- 
clad slope leading down to a little mountain 
lake. I hid behind a breastwork of rotten 
logs, with a few young evergreens in front 
an excellent ambush. A broad game trail 
slanted down the hill directly past me. I 
lay perfectly quiet for about an hour, listen 
ing to the murmur of the pine forests, and the 
occasional call of a jay or woodpecker, and 
gazing eagerly along the trail in the waning 
light of the late afternoon. Suddenly, with 
out noise or warning of any kind, a cougar 
stood in the trail before me. The unlooked- 
for and unheralded approach of the beast was 
fairly ghost-like. With its head lower than 



The Cougar 149 

its shoulders, and its long tail twitching, it 
slouched down the path, treading as softly as 
a kitten. I waited until it had passed and 
then fired into the short ribs, the bullet rang 
ing forward. Throwing its tail up in the air, 
and giving a bound, the cougar galloped off 
over a slight ridge.. But it did not go far; 
within a hundred yards I found it stretched 
on its side, its jaws still working convulsively. 
The true way to hunt the cougar is to fol 
low it with dogs. If the chase is conducted in 
this fashion it is very exciting, and resem 
bles on a larger scale the ordinary method of 
hunting the wildcat or small lynx, as prac 
ticed by the sport-loving planters of the 
Southern States. With a very little training, 
hounds readily and eagerly pursue the cou 
gar, showing in this kind of chase none of 
the fear and disgust they are so prone to ex 
hibit when put on the trail of the certainly 
no more dangerous wolf. The cougar, when 
the hounds are on its track, at first runs, but 
when hard-pressed takes to a tree, or possibly 
comes to bay in thick cover. Its attention is 
then so taken up with the hounds that it can 
usually be approached and shot without much 
difficulty; though some cougars break bay 
when the hunters come near, and again make 



150 Hunting the Grisly 

off, when they can only be stopped by many 
large and fierce hounds. Hounds are often 
killed in these fights ; and if hungry a cougar 
will pounce on any dog for food; yet, as I 
have elsewhere related, I know of one in 
stance in which a small pack of big, savage 
hounds killed a cougar unassisted. General 
Wade Hampton, who with horse and hound 
has been the mightiest hunter America has 
ever seen, informs me that he has killed with 
his pack some sixteen cougars, during the 
fifty years he has hunted in South Carolina 
and Mississippi. I believe they were all killed 
in the latter State. General Hampton s hunt 
ing has been chiefly for bear and deer, though 
his pack also follows the lynx and the gray 
fox; and, of course, if good fortune throws 
either a wolf or a cougar in his way it is 
followed as the game of all others. All the 
cougars he killed were either treed or brought 
to bay in a canebrake by the hounds; and 
they often handled the pack very roughly in 
the death struggle. He found them much 
more dangerous antagonists than the black 
bear when assailed with the hunting knife, a 
weapon of which he was very fond. How 
ever, if his pack had held a few very large, 
savage dogs, put in purely for fighting when 



The Cougar 151 

the quarry was at bay, I think the danger 
would have been minimized. 

General Hampton followed his game on 
horseback; but in following the cougar with 
dogs this is by no means always necessary. 
Thus Colonel Cecil Clay, of Washington, 
killed a cougar in West Virginia, on foot with 
only three or four hounds. The dogs took 
the cold trail, and he had to run many miles 
over the rough, forest-clad mountains after 
them. Finally they drove the cougar up a 
tree; where he found it, standing among the 
branches, in a half-erect position, its hind- 
feet on one limb and its fore-feet on another, 
while it glared down at the dogs, and switched 
its tail from side to side. He shot it through 
both shoulders, and down it came in a heap, 
whereupon the dogs jumped in and worried 
it, for its fore-legs were useless, though it 
managed to catch one dog in its jaws and 
bite him severely. 

A wholly exceptional instance of the kind 
was related to me by my old hunting friend 
Willis. In his youth, in southwest Missouri, 
he knew a half-witted "poor white" who was 
very fond of hunting coons. He hunted at 
night, armed with an axe, and accompanied 
by his dog Penny, a large, savage, half- 



152 Hunting the Grisly 

starved cur. One dark night the dog treed 
an animal which he could not see; so he cut 
down the tree, and immediately Penny jumped 
in and grabbed the beast. The man sung out 
"Hold on, Penny," seeing that the dog had 
seized some large, wild animal; the next mo 
ment the brute knocked the dog endways, 
and at the same instant the man split open its 
head with the axe. Great was his astonish 
ment, and greater still the astonishment of 
the neighbors next day, when it was found 
that he had actually killed a cougar. These 
great cats often take to trees in a perfectly 
foolish manner. My friend, the hunter 
Woody, in all his thirty years experience in 
the wilds never killed but one cougar. He 
was lying out in camp w r ith two dogs at the 
time ; it was about midnight, the fire was out, 
and the night was pitch-black. He was 
roused by the furious barking of his two dogs, 
who had charged into the gloom, and were 
apparently baying at something in a tree close 
by. He kindled the fire, and to his astonish 
ment found the thing in the tree to be a 
cougar. Coming close underneath he shot it 
with his revolver; thereupon it leaped down, 
ran some forty yards, and climbed up another 
tree, where it died among the branches. 



The Cougar 153 

If cowboys come across a cougar in open 
ground they invariably chase and try to rope 
it as indeed they do with any wild animal. 
I have known several instances of cougars 
being roped in this way; in one the animal 
was brought into camp alive by two strap 
ping cowpunchers. 

The cougar sometimes stalks its prey, and 
sometimes lies in wait for it beside a game- 
trail or drinking pool very rarely indeed 
does it crouch on the limb of a tree. When 
excited by the presence of game it is some 
times very bold. Willis once fired at some 
big-horn sheep, on a steep mountain-side; he 
missed, and immediately after his shot a 
cougar made a dash into the midst of the 
flying band, hoping to secure a victim. The 
cougar roams over long distances, and often 
changes its hunting ground, perhaps remain 
ing in one place two or three months, until 
the game is exhausted, and then shifting to 
another. When it does not lie in wait it 
usually spends most of the night, winter and 
summer, in prowling restlessly around the 
places where it thinks it may come across 
pr:y, and it will patiently follow an animal s 
trail. There is no kind of game, save the 
full-grown grisly and buffalo, which it does 



154 Hunting the Grisly 

not at times assail and master. It readily 
snaps up grisly cubs or buffalo calves; and in 
at least one instance, I have known of it 
springing on, slaying, and eating a full-grown 
wolf. I presume the latter was taken by 
surprise. On the other hand, the cougar it 
self has to fear the big timber wolves when 
maddened by the winter hunger and gath 
ered in small parties; while a large grisly 
would of course be an overmatch for it twice 
over, though its superior agility puts it be 
yond the grisly s power to harm it, unless by 
some unlucky chance taken in a cave. Nor 
could a cougar overcome a bull moose, or a 
bull elk either, if the latter s horns were 
grown, save by taking it unawares. l By choice, 
with such big game, its victims are the cows 
and young. The prong-horn rarely comes 
within reach of its spring; but it is the 
dreaded enemy of big-horn, white goat, and 
every kind of deer, while it also preys on all 
the smaller beasts, such as foxes, coons, rab 
bits, beavers, and even gophers, rats, and 
mice. It sometimes makes a thorny meal of 
the porcupine, and if sufficiently hungry at 
tacks and eats its smaller cousin the lynx. 
It is not a brave animal; nor does it run its 
prey down in open chase. It always makes 



The Cougar 155 

Its attacks by stealth, and if possible from 
behind, and relies on two or three tremen 
dous springs to bring it on the doomed crea 
ture s back. It uses its claws as well as its 
teeth in holding and killing the prey. If 
possible it always seizes a large animal by the 
throat, whereas the wolf s point of attack is 
more often the haunch or flank. Small deer 
or sheep it will often knock over and kill, 
merely using its big paws; sometimes it 
breaks their necks. It has a small head com 
pared to the jaguar, and its bite is much less 
dangerous. Hence, as compared to its larger 
and bolder relative, it places more trust in 
its claws and less in its teeth. 

Though the cougar prefers woodland, it is 
not necessarily a beast of the dense forests 
only; for it is found in all the plains country, 
living in the scanty timber belts which fringe 
the streams, or among the patches of brush in 
the Bad Lands. The persecution of hunters, 
however, always tends to drive it into the most 
thickly wooded and broken fastnesses of the 
mountains. The she has from one to three 
kittens, brought forth in a cave or a secluded 
lair, under a dead log or in very thick brush. 
It is said that the old hes kill the small male 
kittens when they get a chance. They cer- 



156 Hunting the Grisly 

tainly at times during the breeding season 
fight desperately among themselves. Can- 
gars are very solitary beasts; it is rare to see 
more than one at a time, and then only a 
mother and young, or a mated male and fe 
male. iWhile she has kittens, the mother is 
doubly destructive to game. The young be 
gin to kill for themselves very early. The 
first fall, after they are born, they attack large 
game, and from ignorance are bolder in mak 
ing their attacks than their parents; but they 
are clumsy and often let the prey escape. 
Like all cats, cougars are comparatively easy 
to trap, much more so than beasts of the dog 
kind, such as the fox and wolf. 

They are silent animals; but old hunters 
say that at mating time the males call loudly, 
while the females have a very distinct answer. 
They are also sometimes noisy at other seasons. 
I am not sure that I ever heard one; but one 
night, while camped in a heavily timbered 
coulie near Kildeer Mountains, where, as 
their footprints showed, the beasts were plen 
tiful, I twice heard a loud, wailing scream 
ringing through the impenetrable gloom 
which shrouded the hills around us. My 
companion, an old plainsman, said that this 
was the cry of the cougar prowling for its 



The Cougar 157 

prey. Certainly no man could well listen 
to a stranger and wilder sound. 

Ordinarily the rifleman is in no danger from 
a hunted cougar; the beast s one idea seems 
to be flight, and even if its assailant is very 
close, it rarely charges if there is any chance 
for escape. Yet there are occasions when it 
will show fight. In the spring of 1890, a 
man with whom I had more than once worked 
on the round-up though I never knew his 
name was badly mauled by a cougar near 
my ranch. He was hunting with a compan 
ion and they unexpectedly came on the cou 
gar on a shelf of sandstone above their heads, 
only some ten feet off. It sprang down on the 
man, mangled him with teeth and claws for a 
moment, and then ran away. Another man I 
knew, a hunter named Ed. Smith, who had 
a small ranch near Helena, was once charged 
by a wounded cougar; he received a couple 
of deep scratches, but was not seriously hurt. 

Many old frontiersmen tell tales of the cou 
gar s occasionally itself making the attack, 
and dogging to his death some unfortunate 
wayfarer. Many others laugh such tales to 
scorn. It is certain that if such attacks occur 
they are altogether exceptional, being in 
deed of such extreme rarity that they may be 



158 Hunting the Grisly 

entirely disregarded in practice. I should 
have no more hesitation in sleeping out in a 
wood where there were cougars, or walking 
through it after nightfall, than I should have 
if the cougars were tomcats. 

Yet it is foolish to deny that in exceptional 
instances attacks may occur. Cougars vary 
wonderfully in size, and no less in temper. 
Indeed I think that by nature they are as 
ferocious and bloodthirsty as they are cow 
ardly; and that their habit of sometimes dog 
ging wayfarers for miles is due to a desire 
for bloodshed which they lack the courage to 
realize. In the old days, when all wild 
beasts were less shy than at present, there was 
more danger from the cougar; and this was 
especially true in the dark canebrakes of some 
of the Southern States, where the man a cou 
gar was most likely to encounter was a nearly 
naked and unarmed negro. General Hamp 
ton tells me that near his Mississippi planta 
tion, many years ago, a negro who was one 
of a gang engaged in building a railroad 
through low and wet ground was waylaid 
and killed by a cougar late one night as he 
was walking alone through the swamp. 

I knew two men in Missoula who were once 
attacked by cougars in a very curious man- 



The Cougar 159 

ner. It was in January, and they were walk 
ing home through the snow after a hunt, each 
carrying on his back the saddle, haunches, 
and hide of a deer he had slain. Just at dusk, 
as they were passing through a narrow ravine, 
the man in front heard his partner utter a 
sudden loud call for help. Turning, he was 
dumfounded to see the man lying on his face 
in the snow, with a cougar which had evi 
dently just knocked him down standing over 
him, grasping the deer meat; while another 
cougar was galloping up to assist. Swinging 
his rifle round he shot the first one in the 
brain, and it dropped motionless, whereat the 
second halted, wheeled, and bounded into 
the woods. His companion was not in the 
least hurt or even frightened. The cougars 
were not full grown, but young of the year. 
Now in this case I do not believe the beasts 
had any real intention of attacking the men. 
They were young animals, bold, stupid, and 
very hungry. The smell of the raw meat ex 
cited them beyond control, and they probably 
could not make out clearly what the men 
were, as they walked bent under their bur 
dens, with the deer skins on their backs. Evi 
dently the cougars were only trying to get at 
the venison. 



160 Hunting the Grisly 

In 1886 a cougar killed an Indian near 
Flathead Lake. Two Indians were hunting 
together on horseback when they came on the 
cougar. It fell at once to their shots, and 
they dismounted and ran toward it. Just as 
they reached it it came to, and seized one, 
killing him instantly with a couple of savage 
bites in the throat and chest; it then raced 
after the other, and, as he sprung on his horse, 
struck him across the buttocks, inflicting a 
deep but not dangerous scratch. I saw this 
survivor a year later. He evinced great re 
luctance to talk of the event, and insisted that 
the thing which had slain his companion was 
not really a cougar at all, but a devil. 

A she-cougar does not often attempt to 
avenge the loss of her young, but sometimes 
she does. A remarkable instance of the kind 
happened to my friend, Professor John Bach 
McMaster, in 1875. He was camped near 
the head of Green River, Wyoming. One 
afternoon he found a couple of cougar kit 
tens, and took them into camp; they were 
clumsy, playful, friendly little creatures. The 
next afternoon he remained in camp with the 
cook. Happening to look up he suddenly 
spied the mother cougar running noiselessly 
down on them, her eyes glaring and tail 



The Cougar 161 

twitching. Snatching up his rifle, he killed 
her when she was barely twenty yards dis 
tant. 

A ranchman, named Trescott, who was at 
one time my neighbor, told me that while he 
was living on a sheep-farm in the Argentine, 
he found pumas very common, and killed 
many. They were very destructive to sheep 
and colts, but were singularly cowardly when 
dealing with men. Not only did they never 
attack human beings, under any stress of hun 
ger, but they made no effective resistance 
when brought to bay, merely scratching and 
cuffing like a big cat; so that, if found in a 
cave, it was safe to creep in and shoot them 
with a revolver. Jaguars, on the contrary, 
were very dangerous antagonists. 



CHAPTER VI 

A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES 

T N the United States the peccary is only 
* found in the southernmost corner of Texas. 
In April, 1892, I made a flying visit to the 
ranch country of this region, starting from the 
town of Uvalde with a Texan friend, Mr. 
John Moore. My trip being very hurried, 
I had but a couple of days to devote to hunt 
ing. 

Our first halting-place was at a ranch on 
the Frio; a low, wooden building, of many 
rooms, with open galleries between them, and 
verandas round about. The country was in 
some respects like, in others strangely unlike, 
the northern plains with which I was so well 
acquainted. It was for the most part cov 
ered with a scattered growth of tough, stunted 
mesquite trees, not dense enough to be called 
a forest, and yet sufficiently close to cut off 
the view. It was very dry, even as compared 
with the northern plains. The bed of the 
(162) 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 163 

Frio was filled with coarse gravel, and for the 
most part dry as a bone on the surface, the 
water seeping through underneath, and only 
appearing in occasional deep holes. These 
deep holes or ponds never fail, even after a 
year s drouth ; they were filled with fish. One 
lay quite near the ranch house, under a bold 
rocky bluff; at its edge grew giant cypress 
trees. In the hollows and by the watercourses 
were occasional groves of pecans, live-oaks, 
and elms. Strange birds hopped among the 
bushes; the chaparral cock a big, handsome 
ground-cuckoo of remarkable habits, much 
given to preying on small snakes and lizards 
ran over the ground with extraordinary 
rapidity. Beautiful swallow-tailed king-birds 
with rosy plumage perched on the tops of the 
small trees, and soared and flitted in graceful 
curves above them. Blackbirds of many kinds 
scuttled in flocks about the corrals and out 
buildings around the ranches. Mocking 
birds abounded, and were very noisy, singing 
almost all the daytime, but with their usual 
irritating inequality of performance, won 
derfully musical and powerful snatches of 
song being interspersed with imitations of 
other bird notes and disagreeable squalling. 
Throughout the trip I did not hear one of 



164 Hunting the Grisly 

them utter the beautiful love song in which 
they sometimes indulge at night. 

The country was all under wire fence, un 
like the northern regions, the pastures, how 
ever, being sometimes many miles across. 
When we reached the Frio ranch a herd of 
a thousand cattle had just been gathered, and 
two or three hundred beeves and young stock 
were being cut out to be driven northward 
over the trail. The cattle were worked in 
pens much more than in the North, and on all 
the ranches there were chutes with steering 
gates, by means of which the individuals of 
a herd could be dexterously shifted into va 
rious corrals. The branding of the calves 
was done ordinarily in one of these corrals 
and on foot, the calf being always roped by 
both fore-legs; otherwise the work of the cow- 
punchers was much like that of their brothers 
in the North. As a whole, however, they 
were distinctly more proficient with the rope, 
and at least half of them were Mexicans. 

There were some bands of wild cattle liv 
ing only in the densest timber of the river 
bottoms which were literally as wild as deer, 
and moreover very fierce and dangerous. The 
pursuit of these was exciting and hazardous 
in the extreme. The men who took part in 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 165 

it showed not only the utmost daring but the 
most consummate horsemanship and wonder 
ful skill in the use of the rope, the coil being 
hurled with the force and precision of an iron 
quoit; a single man speedily overtaking, rop 
ing, throwing, and binding down the fiercest 
steer or bull. 

There had been many peccaries, or, as the 
Mexicans and cowpunchers of the border 
usually call them, javalinas, round this ranch 
a few years before the date of my visit. Until 
1886, or thereabout, these little wild hogs 
were not much molested, and abounded in 
the dense chaparral around the lower Rio 
Grande. In that year, however, it was sud 
denly discovered that their hides had a mar 
ket value, being worth four bits that is, half 
a dollar apiece; and many Mexicans and 
not a few shiftless Texans went into the busi 
ness of hunting them as a means of livelihood. 
They were more easily killed than deer, and, 
as a result, they were speedily exterminated 
in many localities where they had formerly 
been numerous, and even where they were 
left were to be found only in greatly dimin 
ished numbers. On this particular Frio 
ranch the last little band had been killed 
nearly a year before. There were three of 



1 66 Hunting the Grisly 

them, a boar and two sows, and a couple of 
the cowboys stumbled on them early one 
morning while out with a dog. After half a 
mile s chase the three peccaries ran into a 
hollow pecan tree, and one of the cowboys, 
dismounting, improvised a lance by tying 
his knife to the end of a pole, and killed 
them all. 

Many anecdotes were related to me of what 
they had done in the old days when they were 
plentiful on the ranch. They were then usu 
ally found in parties of from twenty to thirty, 
feeding in the dense chaparral, the sows re 
joining the herd with the young very soon 
after the birth of the latter, each sow usually 
having but one or two at a litter. At night 
they sometimes lay in the thickest cover, but 
always, where possible, preferred to house in 
a cave or big hollow log, one invariably re 
maining as a sentinel close to the mouth, look 
ing out. If this sentinel were shot, another 
would almost certainly take his place. They 
were subject to freaks of stupidity, and were 
pugnacious to a degree. Not only would they 
fight if molested, but they would often attack 
entirely without provocation. 

Once my friend Moore himself, while out 
with another cowboy on horseback, was at- 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 167 

tacked in sheer wantonness by a drove of these 
little wild hogs. The two men were riding 
by a grove of live-oaks along a wood-cutter s 
cart track, and were assailed without a mo 
ment s warning. The little creatures com 
pletely surrounded them, cutting fiercely at 
the horses legs and jumping up at the riders 
feet. The men, drawing their revolvers, dashed 
through and were closely followed by their 
pursuers for three or four hundred yards, al 
though they fired right and left with good 
effect. Both of the horses were badly cut. On 
another occasion the bookkeeper of the ranch 
walked off to a water hole but a quarter of 
a mile distant, and came face to face with a 
peccary on a cattle trail, where the brush was 
thick. Instead of getting out of his way the 
creature charged him instantly, drove him 
up a small mesquite tree, and kept him there 
for nearly two hours, looking up at him and 
champing its tusks. 

I spent two days hunting round this ranch 
but saw no peccary sign whatever, although 
deer were quite plentiful. Parties of wild 
geese and sandhill cranes occasionally flew 
overhead. At nightfall the poor-wills wailed 
everywhere through the woods, and coyotes 
yelped and yelled, while in the early morning 



1 68 Hunting the Grisly 

the wild turkeys gobble d loudly from their 
roosts in the tops of the pecan trees. 

Having satisfied myself that there were no 
javalinas left on the Frio ranch, and being 
nearly at the end of my holiday, I was about 
to abandon the effort to get any, when a pass 
ing cowman happened to mention the fact 
that some were still to be found on the Nueces 
River thirty miles or thereabout to the south 
ward. Thither I determined to go, and next 
morning Moore and I started in a buggy 
drawn by a redoubtable horse, named Jim 
Swinger, which we were allowed to use be 
cause he bucked so under the saddle that no 
body on the ranch could ride him. We drove 
six or seven hours across the dry, waterless 
plains. There had been a heavy frost a few 
days before, which had blackened the budding 
mesquite trees, and their twigs still showed 
no signs of sprouting. Occasionally we came 
across open spaces where there was nothing 
but short brown grass. In most places, how 
ever, the leafless, sprawling mesquites were 
scattered rather thinly over the ground, cut 
ting off an extensive view and merely adding 
to the melancholy barrenness of the landscape. 
The road was nothing but a couple of dusty 
wheel-tracks; the ground was parched, and 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 169 

the grass cropped close by the gaunt, starved 
cattle. As we drove along buzzards and great 
hawks occasionally soared overhead. Now 
and then we passed lines of wild-looking, 
long-horned steers, and once we came on the 
grazing horses of a cow-outfit, just preparing 
to start northward over the trail to the fatten 
ing pastures. Occasionally we encountered 
one or two cowpunchers ; either Texans, hab 
ited exactly like their brethren in the North, 
with broad-brimmed gray hats, blue shirts, 
silk neckerchiefs, and leather leggings; or 
else- Mexicans, more gaudily dressed, and 
wearing peculiarly stiff, very broad-brimmed 
hats, with conical tops. 

Toward the end of our ride we got where 
the ground was more fertile, and there had 
recently been a sprinkling of rain. Here we 
came across wonderful flower prairies. In 
one spot I kept catching glimpses through the 
mesquite trees of lilac stretches which I had 
first thought must be ponds of water. On 
coming nearer they proved to be acres on 
acres thickly covered with beautiful lilac- 
colored flowers. Further on we came to 
where broad bands of red flowers covered the 
ground for many furlongs; then their places 
were taken by yellow blossoms, elsewhere by 

VOL. III. 8 



1 70 Hunting the Grisly 

white. Generally each band or patch of 
ground was covered densely by flowers of the 
same color, making a great vivid streak across 
the landscape; but in places they were mixed 
together, red, yellow, and purple, interspersed 
in patches and curving bands, carpeting the 
prairie in a strange, bright pattern. 

Finally toward evening we reached the 
Nueces. Where we struck it first the bed was 
dry, except in occasional deep, malarial-look 
ing pools, but a short distance below there be 
gan to be a running current. Great blue 
herons were stalking beside these pools, and 
from one we flushed a white ibis. In the woods 
were reddish cardinal birds, much less bril 
liant in plumage than the true cardinals and 
the scarlet tanagers; and yellow-headed tit 
mice which had already built large domed 
nests. 

In the valley of the Nueces itself, the brush 
grew thick. There were great groves of pe 
can trees, and evergreen live-oaks stood in 
many places, long, wind-shaken tufts of gray 
moss hanging from their limbs. Many of the 
trees in the wet spots were of giant size, and 
the whole landscape was semi-tropical in 
character. High on a bluff shoulder over 
looking the course of the river was perched 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 171 

the ranch house, toward which we were bend 
ing our steps ; and here we were received with 
the hearty hospitality characteristic of the 
ranch country everywhere. 

The son of the ranchman, a tall, well-built 
young fellow, told me at once that there were 
peccaries in the neighborhood, and that he 
had himself shot one but two or three days 
before, and volunteered to lend us horses and 
pilot us to the game on the morrow, with the 
help of his two dogs. The last were big black 
curs with, as we were assured, "considerable 
hound" in them. One was at the time stay 
ing at the ranch house, the other was four or 
five miles off with a Mexican goat-herder, 
and it was arranged that early in the morn 
ing we should ride down to the latter place, 
taking the first dog with us and procuring his 
companion when we reached the goat-herder s 
house. 

We started after breakfast, riding powerful 
cow-ponies, well trained to gallop at full speed 
through the dense chaparral. The big black 
hound slouched at our heels. We rode down 
the banks of the Nueces, crossing and recross- 
ing the stream. Here and there were long, 
deep pools in the bed of the river, where 
rushes and lilies grew and huge mailed gar- 



172 Hunting the Grisly 

fish swam slowly just beneath the surface of 
the water. Once my two companions stopped 
to pull a mired cow out of a slough, hauling 
with ropes from their saddle horns. In places 
there were half-dry pools, out of the regular 
current of the river, the water green and fe 
tid. The trees were very tall and large. The 
streamers of pale gray moss hung thickly 
from the branches of the live-oaks, and when 
many trees thus draped stood close together 
they bore a strangely mournful and desolate 
look. 

We finally found the queer little hut of the 
Mexican goat-herder in the midst of a grove 
of giant pecans. On the walls were nailed 
the skins of different beasts, raccoons, wild 
cats, and the tree-civet, with its ringed tail. 
The Mexican s brown wife and children were 
in the hut, but the man himself and the goats 
were off in the forest, and it took us three or 
four hours search before we found him. 
Then it was nearly noon, and we lunched in 
his hut, a square building of split logs, with 
bare earth floor, and roof of clap-boards arid 
bark. Our lunch consisted of goat s meat 
and pan de mats. The Mexican, a broad- 
chested man with a stolid Indian face, was 
evidently quite a sportsman, and had two or 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 173 

three half-starved hounds, besides the funny, 
hairless little house dogs, of which Mexicans 
seem so fond. 

Having borrowed the javalina hound of 
which we were in search, we rode off in quest 
of our game, the two dogs trotting gayly 
ahead. The one which had been living at 
the ranch had evidently fared well, and w r as 
very fat; the other was little else but skin and 
bone, but as alert and knowing as any New 
York street-boy, with the same air of disrepu 
table capacity. It was this hound which al 
ways did most in finding the javalinas and 
bringing them to bay, his companion s chief 
use being to make a noise and lend the moral 
support of his presence. 

We rode away from the river on the dry 
uplands, where the timber, though thick, was 
small, consisting almost exclusively of the 
thorny mesquites. Mixed among them were 
prickly pears, standing as high as our heads 
on horseback, and Spanish bayonets, looking 
in the distance like small palms; and there 
were many other kinds of cactus, all with 
poisonous thorns. Two or three times the 
r dogs got on an old trail and rushed off giving 
tongue, whereat we galloped madly after them, 
ducking and dodging through and among 



174 Hunting the Grisly 

the clusters of spine-bearing trees and cactus, 
not without getting a considerable number of 
thorns in our hands and legs. It was very 
dry and hot. Where the javalinas live in 
droves in the river bottoms they often drink 
at the pools; but when some distance from 
water they seem to live quite comfortably on 
the prickly pear, slaking their thirst by eating 
its hard, juicy fibre. 

At last, after several false alarms, and gal 
lops which led to nothing, when it lacked but 
an hour of sundown we struck a band of five 
of the little wild hogs. They were running 
off through the mesquites with a peculiar 
hopping or bounding motion, and we all, dogs 
and men, tore after them instantly. 

Peccaries are very fast for a few hundred 
yards, but speedily tire, lose their wind, and 
come to bay. Almost immediately one of 
these, a sow, as it turned out, wheeled and 
charged at Moore as he passed, Moore never 
seeing her but keeping on after another. The 
sow then stopped and stood still, chattering 
her teeth savagely, and I jumped off my horse 
and dropped her dead with a shot in the spine 
over the shoulders. Moore meanwhile had 
dashed off after his pig in one direction, and 
killed the little beast with a shot from the 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 175 

saddle when it had come to bay, turning and 
going straight at him. Two of the peccaries 
got off; the remaining one, a rather large boar, 
was followed by the two dogs, and as soon 
as I had killed the sow I leaped again on my 
horse and made after them, guided by the 
yelping and baying. In less than a quarter of 
a mile they were on his haunches, and he 
wheeled and stood under a bush, charging at 
them when they came near him, and once 
catching one, inflicting an ugly cut. All the 
while his teeth kept going like castanets, with 
a rapid champing sound. I ran up close and 
killed him by a shot through the backbone 
where it joined the neck. His tusks were fine. 
The few minutes chase on horseback was 
great fun, and there was a certain excitement 
in seeing the fierce little creatures come to 
bay; but the true way to kill these peccaries 
would be with the spear. They could often 
be speared on horseback, and where this was 
impossible, by using dogs to bring them to bay 
they could readily be killed on foot; though, 
as they are very active, absolutely fearless, 
and inflict a most formidable bite, it would 
usually be safest to have two men go at one 
together. Peccaries are not difficult beasts 
to kill, because their short wind and their 



176 Hunting the Grisly 

pugnacity make them come to bay before 
hounds so quickly. [Two or three good dogs 
can bring to a halt a herd of considerable size. 
They then all stand in a bunch, or else with 
their sterns against a bank, chattering their 
teeth at their antagonists. When angry and 
at bay, they get their legs close together, their 
shoulders high, and their bristles all ruffled 
and look the very incarnation of anger, and 
they fight with reckless indifference to the 
very last. Hunters usually treat them with 
a certain amount of caution; but, as a matter 
of fact, I know of but one case where a man 
was hurt by them. He had shot at and 
wounded one, was charged both by it and by 
its two companions, and started to climb a 
tree; but as he drew himself from the ground, 
one sprang at him and bit him through the 
calf, inflicting a very severe wound. I have 
known of several cases of horses being cut, 
however, and dogs are very commonly killed. 
Indeed, a dog new to the business is almost 
certain to get very badly scarred, and no dog 
that hunts steadily can escape without some 
injury. If it runs in right at the heads of the 
animals, the probabilities are that it will get 
killed; and, as a rule, even two good-sized 
hounds can not kill a peccary, though it is no 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces 177 

larger than either of them. However, a wary, 
resolute, hard-biting dog of good size speedily 
gets accustomed to the chase, and can kill a 
peccary single-handed, seizing it from behind 
and worrying it to death, or watching its 
chance and grabbing it by the back of the neck 
where it joins the head. 

Peccaries have delicately molded short legs, 
and their feet are small, the tracks looking 
peculiarly dainty in consequence. Hence, 
they do not swim well, though they take to 
the water if necessary. They feed on roots, 
prickly pears, nuts, insects, lizards, etc. They 
usually keep entirely separate from the droves 
of half-wild swine that are so often found in 
the same neighborhoods; but in one case, on 
this very ranch where I was staying, a peccary 
deliberately joined a party of nine pigs and 
associated with them. When the owner of 
the pigs came up to them one day the peccary 
manifested great suspicion at his presence, 
and finally sidled close up and threatened to 
attack him, so that he had to shoot it. The 
ranchman s son told me that he had never but 
once had a peccary assail him unprovoked, 
and even in this case it was his dog that was 
the object of attack, the peccary rushing out 
at it as it followed him home one evening 



178 Hunting the Grisly 

through the chaparral. Even around this 
ranch the peccaries had very greatly decreased 
in numbers, and the survivors were learning 
some caution. In the old days it had been no 
uncommon thing for a big band to attack, en 
tirely of their own accord, and keep a hunter 
up a tree for hours at a time. 



CHAPTER VII 

HUNTING WITH HOUNDS 

IN hunting American big game with hounds, 
several entirely distinct methods are pur 
sued. The true wilderness hunters, the men 
who in the early days lived alone in, or moved 
in parties through, the Indian-haunted soli 
tudes, like their successors of to-day, rarely 
made use of a pack of hounds, and, as a rule, 
did not use dogs at all. In the Eastern for 
ests occasionally an old-time hunter would 
own one or two track-hounds, slow, with a 
good nose, intelligent and obedient, of use 
mainly in following wounded game. Some 
Rocky Mountain hunters nowadays employ 
the same kind of a dog, but the old-time trap 
pers of the great plains and the Rockies led 
such wandering lives of peril and hardship 
that they could not readily take dogs with 
them. The hunters of the Alleghanies and 
the Adirondacks have, however, always used 
hounds to drive deer, killing the animal in 
the water or at a runway. 

(179) 



i8o Hunting the Grisly 

As soon, however, as the old wilderness 
hunter type passes away, hounds come into 
use among his successors, the rough border 
settlers of the backwoods and the plains. 
Every such settler is apt to have four or five 
large mongrel dogs with hound blood in them, 
which serve to drive off beasts of prey from 
the sheepfold and cattle-shed, and are also 
used, when the occasion suits, in regular hunt 
ing, whether after bear or deer. 

Many of the Southern planters have always 
kept packs of fox-hounds, which are used in 
the chase, not only of the gray and the red fox, 
but also of the deer, the black bear, and the 
wildcat. The fox the dogs themselves run 
down and kill, but as a rule in this kind of 
hunting, when after deer, bear, or even wild 
cat, the hunters carry guns with them on their 
horses, and endeavor either to get a shot at 
the fleeing animal by hard and dexterous rid 
ing, or else to kill the cat when treed, or the 
bear when it comes to bay. Such hunting is 
great sport. 

Killing driven game by lying in wait for it 
to pass is the very poorest kind of sport that 
can be called legitimate. This is the way 
the deer is usually killed with hounds in the 
East. In the North the red fox is often killed 



Hunting with Hounds 181 

in somewhat the same manner, being followed 
by a slow hound and shot at as he circles be 
fore the dog. Although this kind of fox-hunt 
ing is inferior to hunting on horseback, it 
nevertheless has its merits, as the man must 
walk and run well, shoot with some accuracy, 
and show considerable knowledge both of the 
country and of the habits of the game. 

During the last score of years an entirely 
different type of dog from the fox-hound has 
firmly established itself in the field of Ameri 
can sport. This is the greyhound, whether 
the smooth-haired, or the rough-coated Scotch 
deer-hound. For half a century the army 
officers posted in the far West have occasion 
ally had greyhounds with them, using the dogs 
to course jack-rabbit, coyote, and sometimes 
deer, antelope, and gray wolf. Many of them 
were devoted to this sport, General Custer, 
for instance. I have myself hunted with many 
of the descendants of Custer s hounds. In 
the early yo s the ranchmen of the great plains 
themselves began to keep greyhounds for 
coursing (as indeed they had already been 
used for a considerable time in California, 
after the Pacific Coast jack- rabbit), and the 
sport speedily assumed large proportions and 
a permanent form. Nowadays the ranchmen 



1 82 Hunting the Grisly 

of the cattle country not only use their grey 
hounds after the jack-rabbit, but also after 
every other kind of game animal to be found 
there, the antelope and coyote being especial 
favorites. Many ranchmen soon grew to own 
fine packs, coursing being the sport of all 
sports for the plains. In Texas the wild tur 
key was frequently an object of the chase, and 
wherever the locality enabled deer to be fol 
lowed in the open, as, for instance, in the In 
dian territory, and in many places in the 
neighborhood of the large plains rivers, the 
whitetail was a favorite quarry, the hunters 
striving to surprise it in the early morning 
when feeding on the prairie. 

I have myself generally coursed with scratch 
packs, including perhaps a couple of grey 
hounds, a wire-haired deer-hound, and two or 
three long-legged mongrels. However, we 
generally had at least one very fast and sav 
age dog a strike dog in each pack, and the 
others were of assistance in turning the game, 
sometimes in tiring it, and usually in helping 
to finish it at the worry. With such packs I 
have had many a wildly exciting ride over 
the great grassy plains lying near the Little 
Missouri and the Knife and Heart Rivers. 
Usually our proceedings on such a hunt were 



Hunting with Hounds 183 

perfectly simple. We started on horseback 
and when reaching favorable ground beat 
across it in a long scattered line of men and 
dogs. Anything that we put up, from a fox 
to a coyote or a prong-buck, was fair game, 
and was instantly followed at full speed. The 
animals we most frequently killed were jack- 
rabbits. They always gave good runs, though 
like other game they differed much individu 
ally in speed. The foxes did not run so well, 
and whether they were the little swift, or the 
big red prairie fox, they were speedily snapped 
up if the dogs had a fair showing. Once 
our dogs roused a blacktail buck close up 
out of a brush coulie where the ground was 
moderately smooth, and after a headlong chase 
of a mile they ran into him, threw him and 
killed him before he could rise. (His stiff- 
legged bounds sent him along at a tremen 
dous pace at first, but he seemed to tire rather 
easily.) On two or three occasions we killed 
whitetail deer, and several times antelope. 
Usually, however, the antelopes escaped. 
The bucks sometimes made a good fight, but 
generally they were seized while running, 
some dogs catching by the throat, others by 
the shoulders, and others again by the flank 
just in front of the hind-leg. Wherever the 



184 Hunting the Grisly 

hold was obtained, if the dog made his spring 
cleverly, the buck was sure to come down 
with a crash, and if the other dogs were any 
where near he was probably killed before he 
could rise, although not infrequently the dogs 
themselves were more or less scratched in the 
contests. Some greyhounds, even of high 
breeding, proved absolutely useless from ti 
midity, being afraid to take hold; but if they 
got accustomed to the chase, being worked 
with old dogs, and had any pluck at all, they 
proved singularly fearless. A big ninety- 
pound greyhound or Scotch deer-hound is a 
very formidable fighting dog; I saw one whip 
a big mastiff in short order, his wonderful 
agility being of more account than his ad 
versary s superior weight. 

The proper way to course, however, is to 
take the dogs out in a wagon and drive them 
thus until the game is seen. This prevents 
their being tired out. In my own hunting, 
most of the antelope aroused got away, the 
dogs being jaded when the chase began. But 
really fine greyhounds, accustomed to work 
together and to hunt this species of game, will 
usually render a good account of a prong- 
buck if two or three are slipped at once, fresh, 
and within a moderate distance. 



Hunting with Hounds 185 

Although most Westerners take more kindly 
to the rifle, now and then one is found who is 
a devotee of the hound. Such a one was an 
old Missourian, who may be called Mr. Cow- 
ley, whom I knew when he was living on a 
ranch in North Dakota, west of the Missouri. 
Mr. Cowley was a primitive person, of much 
nerve, which he showed not only in the hunt 
ing field but in the startling political conven 
tions of the place and period. He was quite 
well off, but he was above the niceties of per 
sonal vanity. His hunting garb was that in 
which he also paid his rare formal calls calls 
throughout which he always preserved the 
gravity of an Indian, though having a discon 
certing way of suddenly tip-toeing across the 
room to some unfamiliar object, such as a pea 
cock screen or a vase, feeling it gently with one 
forefinger, and returning with noiseless gait 
to his chair, unmoved and making no comment. 
On the morning of a hunt he would always ap 
pear on a stout horse, clad in a long linen 
duster, a huge club in his hand, and his trousers 
working half-way up his legs. He hunted 
everything on all possible occasions; and he 
never under any circumstances shot an animal 
that the dogs could kill. When a skunk got 
into his house, with the direful stupidity of its 



1 86 Hunting the Grisly 

perverse kind, he turned the hounds on it; a 
manifestation of sporting spirit which aroused 
the ire of even his long-suffering wife. As 
for his dogs, provided they could run and 
fight, he cared no more for their looks than 
for his own; he preferred the animal to be 
half greyhound, but the other half could be 
fox-hound, collie, or setter, it mattered noth 
ing to him. They were a wicked, hard-biting 
crew for all that, and Mr. Cowley, in his flap 
ping linen duster, was a first-class hunter and 
a good rider. He went almost mad with ex 
citement in every chase. His pack usually 
hunted coyote, fox, jack-rabbit, and deer; and 
I have had more than one good run with it. 

My own experience is too limited to allow 
me to pass judgment with certainty as to the 
relative speed of the different beasts of the 
chase, especially as there is so much individual 
variation. I consider the antelope the fleetest 
of all, however; and in this opinion I am 
sustained by Colonel Roger D. Williams, of 
Lexington, Kentucky, who, more than any 
other American, is entitled to speak upon 
coursing, and especially upon coursing large 
game. Colonel Williams, like a true son of 
Kentucky, has bred his own thoroughbred 
horses and thoroughbred hounds for many 



Hunting with Hounds 187 

years ; and during a series of long hunting trips 
extending over nearly a quarter of a century 
he has tried his pack on almost every game 
animal to be found among the foothills of the 
Rockies and on the great plains. His dogs, 
both smooth-haired greyhounds and rough- 
coated deer-hounds, have been bred by him 
for generations with a special view to the chase 
of big game not merely of hares; they are 
large animals, excelling not only in speed but 
in strength, endurance, and ferocious courage. 
The survivors of his old pack are literally 
seamed all over with the scars of innumerable 
battles. When several dogs were together 
they would stop a bull elk, and fearlessly as 
sail a bear or cougar. This pack scored many 
a triumph over blacktail, whitetail, and 
prong-buck. For a few hundred yards the 
deer were very fast; but in a run of any dura 
tion the antelope showed much greater speed, 
and gave the dogs far more trouble, although 
always overtaken in the end, if a good start 
had been obtained. Colonel Williams is a 
firm believer in the power of the thorough 
bred horse to outrun any animal that 
breathes, in a long chase; he has not infre 
quently run down deer, when they were 
jumped some miles from cover; and on two 



1 88 Hunting the Grisly 

or three occasions he ran down uninjured an- 
telope, but in each case only after a desperate 
ride of miles, which in one instance resulted 
in the death of his gallant horse. 

This coursing on the prairie, especially 
after big game, is an exceedingly manly and 
attractive sport; the furious galloping, often 
over rough ground with an occasional deep 
washout or gully, the sight of the gallant 
hounds running and tackling, and the ex 
hilaration of the pure air and wild surround 
ing, all combine to give it a peculiar zest. 
But there is really less need of bold and skil 
ful horsemanship than in the otherwise less 
attractive and more artificial sport of fox 
hunting, or riding to hounds, in a closed and 
long-settled country. 

Those of us who are in part of Southern 
blood have a hereditary right to be fond of 
cross-country riding; for our forefathers in 
Virginia, Georgia, or the Carolinas, have for 
six generations followed the fox with horse, 
horn, and hound. In the long-settled North 
ern States the sport has been less popular, 
though much more so now than formerly; yet 
it has always existed, here and there, and in 
certain places has been followed quite steadily. 

In no place in the Northeast is hunting the 



Hunting with Hounds 189 

wild red fox put on a more genuine and 
healthy basis than in the Genesee Valley, in 
central New York. There has always been 
fox-hunting in this valley, the farmers having 
good horses and being fond of sport; but it 
was conducted in a very irregular, primitive 
manner, until some twenty years ago Mr. Aus 
tin Wadsworth turned his attention to it. He 
has been master of fox-hounds ever since, and 
no pack in the country has yielded better 
sport than his, or has brought out harder rid 
ers among the men and stronger jumpers 
among the horses. Mr. Wadsworth began his 
hunting by picking up some of the various 
trencher-fed hounds of the neighborhood, the 
hunting of that period being managed on the 
principle of each farmer bringing to the meet 
the hound or hounds he happened to possess, 
and appearing on foot or horseback as his 
fancy dictated. Having gotten together some 
of these native hounds and started fox-hunting 
in localities where the ground was so open as 
to necessitate following the chase on horse 
back, Mr. Wadsworth imported a number of 
dogs from the best English kennels. He found 
these to be much faster than the American 
dogs and more accustomed to work together, 
but less enduring, and without such good 



190 Hunting the Grisly 

noses. The American hounds were very ob 
stinate and self-willed. Each wished to work 
out the trail for himself. But once found, 
they would puzzle it out, no matter how cold, 
and would follow it if necessary for a day and 
night. By a judicious crossing of the two Mr. 
Wadsworth finally got his present fine pack, 
which for its own particular work on its own 
ground would be hard to beat. The country 
ridden over is well wooded, and there are 
many foxes. The abundance of cover, how 
ever, naturally decreases the number of kills. 
It is a very fertile land, and there are few 
farming regions more beautiful, for it is pre 
vented from being too tame in aspect by the 
number of bold hills and deep ravines. Most 
of the fences are high posts-and-rails or 
"snake" fences, although there is an occa 
sional stone wall, haha, or water-jump. The 
steepness of the ravines and the density of 
the timber make it necessary for a horse to 
be sure-footed and able to scramble anywhere, 
and the fences are so high that none but very 
good jumpers can possibly follow the pack. 
Most of the horses used are bred by the farm 
ers in the neighborhood, or are from Canada, 
and they usually have thoroughbred or trot- 
ting-stock blood in them. 



Hunting with Hounds 191 

One of the pleasantest days I ever passed 
in the saddle was after Mr. Wadsworth s 
hounds. I was staying with him at the time, 
in company with my friend Senator Cabot 
Lodge, of Boston. The meet was about 
twelve miles distant from the house. It was 
only a small field of some twenty-five riders, 
but there was not one who did not mean going. 
I was mounted on a young horse, a powerful, 
big-boned black, a great jumper, though per 
haps a trifle hot-headed. Lodge was on a fine 
bay, which could both run and jump. There 
were two or three other New Yorkers and 
Bostonians present, several men who had come 
up from Buffalo for the run, a couple of re 
tired army officers, a number of farmers from 
the neighborhood; and finally several mem 
bers of a noted local family of hard riders, 
who formed a class by themselves, all having 
taken naturally to every variety of horseman 
ship from earliest infancy. 

It was a thoroughly democratic assemblage ; 
every one was there for sport, and nobody 
cared an ounce how he or anybody else was 
dressed. Slouch hats, brown coats, corduroy 
breeches, and leggings, or boots, were the 
order of the day. We cast off in a thick wood. 
The dogs struck a trail almost immediately 



192 Hunting the Grisly 

and were off with clamorous yelping, while 
the hunt thundered after them like a herd of 
buffaloes. jWe went headlong down the hill 
side into and across a brook. Here the trail 
led straight up a sheer bank. Most of the 
riders struck off to the left for an easier place, 
which was unfortunate for them, for the eight 
of us who went straight up the side (one man s 
horse falling back with him) were the only 
ones who kept on terms with the hounds. Al 
most as soon as we got to the top of the bank 
we came out of the woods over a low but 
awkward rail fence, where one of our num 
ber, who was riding a very excitable sorrel 
colt, got a fall. This left but six, including 
the whip. There were two or three large 
fields with low fences; then we came to two 
high, stiff doubles, the first real jumping of 
the day, the fences being over four feet six, 
and so close together that the horses barely 
had a chance to gather themselves. We got 
over, however, crossed two or three stump- 
strewn fields, galloped through an open wood, 
picked our way across a marshy spot, jumped 
a small brook and two or three stiff fences, 
and then came a check. Soon the hounds re 
covered the line and swung off to the right, 
back across four or five fields, so as to enable 



Hunting with Hounds 193 

the rest of the hunt, by making an angle, to 
come up. Then we jumped over a very high 
board fence into the main road, out of it 
again, and on over plowed fields and grass 
lands, separated by stiff snake fences. (The 
run had been fast and the horses were be 
ginning to tail. By the time we suddenly 
rattled down into a deep ravine and scrambled 
up the other side through thick timber there 
were but four of us left, Lodge and myself 
being two of the lucky ones. Beyond this ra 
vine we came to one of the worst jumps of the 
day, a fence out of the wood, w r hich was prac 
ticable only at one spot, where a kind of cat 
tle trail led up to a panel. It was within an 
inch or two of five feet high. However, the 
horses, thoroughly trained to timber jumping 
and to rough and hard scrambling in awk 
ward places, and by this time well quieted, 
took the bars without mistake, each one in 
turn trotting or cantering up to within a few 
yards, then making a couple of springs and 
bucking over with a great twist of the power 
ful haunches. I may explain that there was 
not a horse of the four that had not a record 
of five feet six inches in the ring. We now 
got into a perfect tangle of ravines, and the 
fox went to earth ; and though we started one 

VOL. III. Q 



194 Hunting the Grisly 

or two more in the course of the afternoon, 
we did not get another really first-class run. 

At Geneseo the conditions for the enjoy 
ment of this sport are exceptionally favorable. 
In the Northeast generally, although there 
are now a number of well-established hunts, 
at least nine out of ten runs are after a drag. 
Most of the hunts are in the neighborhood of 
great cities, and are mainly kept up by young 
men who come from them. A few of these 
are men of leisure, who can afford to devote 
their whole time to pleasure; but much the 
larger number are men in business, who work 
hard and are obliged to make their sports ac 
commodate themselves to their more serious 
occupations. Once or twice a week they can 
get off for an afternoon s ride across country, 
and they then wish to be absolutely certain of 
having their run, and of having it at the ap 
pointed time; and the only way to ensure this 
is to have a drag-hunt. It is not the lack of 
foxes that has made the sport so commonly 
take the form of riding to drag-hounds, but 
rather the fact that the majority of those who 
keep it up are hard-working business men who 
wish to make the most out of every moment 
of the little time they can spare from their 
regular occupations. A single ride across 



Hunting with Hounds 195 

country, or an afternoon at polo, will yield 
more exercise, fun, and excitement than can 
be got out of a week s decorous and dull rid 
ing in the park, and many young fellows have 
waked up to this fact. 

At one time I did a good deal of hunting 
with the Meadowbrook hounds, in the north 
ern part of Long Island. There were plenty 
of foxes around us, both red and gray, but 
partly for the reasons given above, and partly 
because the covers were so large and so nearly 
continuous, they were not often hunted, al 
though an effort was always made to have one 
run every week or so after a wild fox, in order 
to give a chance for the hounds to be properly 
worked and to prevent the runs from becom 
ing a mere succession of steeple-chases. The 
sport was mainly drag-hunting, and was most 
exciting, as the fences were high and the pace 
fast. The Long Island country needs a pecu 
liar style of horse, the first requisite being 
that he shall be a very good and high timber 
jumper. Quite a number of crack English 
and Irish hunters have at different times been 
imported, and some of them have turned out 
pretty well; but when they first come over 
they are utterly unable to cross our country, 
blundering badly at the high timber. Few of 



196 Hunting the Grisly 

them have done as well as the American 
horses. I have hunted half a dozen times in 
England, with the Pytchely, Essex, and North 
Warwickshire, and it seems to me probable 
that English thoroughbreds, in a grass coun 
try, and over the peculiar kinds of obstacles 
they have on the other side of the water, would 
gallop away from a field of our Long Island 
horses; for they have speed and bottom, and 
are great weight carriers. But on our own 
ground, where the cross-country riding is 
more like leaping a succession of five and six- 
bar gates than anything else, they do not as 
a rule> in spite of the enormous prices paid 
for them, show themselves equal to the native 
stock. The highest recorded jump, seven feet 
two inches, was made by the American horse 
Filemaker, which I saw ridden in the very 
front by Mr. H. L. Herbert, in the hunt at 
Sagamore Hill, about to be described. 

When I was a member of the Meadowbrook 
hunt, most of the meets were held within a 
dozen miles or so of the kennels : at Farm- 
ingdale, Woodbury, Wheatly, Locust Valley, 
Syosset, or near any one of twenty other queer, 
quaint old Long Island hamlets. They were 
almost always held in the afternoon, the busi 
ness men who had come down from the city 



Hunting with Hounds 197 

jogging over behind the hounds to the ap 
pointed place, where they were met by the 
men who had ridden over direct from their 
country-houses. If the meet was an impor 
tant one, there might be a crowd of onlookers 
in every kind of trap, from a four-in-hand 
drag to a spider-wheeled buggy drawn by a 
pair of long-tailed trotters, the money value 
of which many times surpassed that of the two 
best hunters in the whole field. Now and 
then a breakfast would be given the hunt at 
some country-house, when the whole day was 
devoted to the sport; perhaps after wild 
foxes in the morning, with a drag in the 
afternoon. 

After one meet, at Sagamore Hill, I had the 
curiosity to go on foot over the course we had 
taken, measuring the jumps; for it is very dif 
ficult to form a good estimate of a fence s 
height when in the field, and five feet of tim 
ber seems a much easier thing to take when 
sitting around the fire after dinner than it 
does when actually faced while the hounds 
are running. On the particular hunt in ques 
tion we ran about ten miles, at a rattling pace, 
with only two checks, crossing somewhat more 
than sixty fences, most of them post-and-rails, 
stiff as steel, the others being of the kind called 



198 Hunting the Grisly 

"Virginia" or snake, and not more than ten 
or a dozen in the whole lot under four feet 
in height. The highest measured five feet 
and half an inch, two others were four feet 
eleven, and nearly a third of the number aver 
aged about four and a half. There were also 
several rather awkward doubles. When the 
hounds were cast off some forty riders were 
present, but the first fence was a savage one, 
and stopped all who did not mean genuine 
hard going. Twenty-six horses crossed it, one 
of them ridden by a lady. A mile or so fur 
ther on, before there had been a chance for 
much tailing, we came to a five-bar gate, out 
of a road a jump of just four feet five inches 
from the take-off. Up to this, of course, we 
went one at a time, at a trot or hand-gallop, 
and twenty-five horses cleared it in succes 
sion without a single refusal and with but one 
mistake. Owing to the severity of the pace, 
combined with the average height of the tim 
ber (although no one fence was of phenome 
nally noteworthy proportions), a good many 
falls took place, resulting in an unusually large 
percentage of accidents. The master partly 
dislocated one knee, another man broke two 
ribs, and another the present writer broke 
his arm. However, almost all of us managed 



Hunting with Hounds 199 

to struggle through to the end in time to see 
the death. 

On this occasion I owed my broken arm to 
the fact that my horse, a solemn animal origi 
nally taken out of a buggy, though a very 
clever fencer, was too coarse to gallop along 
side the blooded beasts against which he was 
pitted. But he was so easy in his gaits, and 
so quiet, being ridden with only a snaffle, that 
there was no difficulty in following to the end 
of the run. I had divers adventures on this 
horse. Once I tried a pair of so-called "safe 
ty" stirrups, which speedily fell out, and 
I had to ride through the run without any, at 
the cost of several tumbles. Much the best 
hunter I ever owned was a sorrel horse named 
Sagamore. He was from Geneseo, was fast, 
a remarkably good jumper, of great endur 
ance, as quick on his feet as a cat, and with 
a dauntless heart. He never gave me a fall, 
and generally enabled me to see all the run. 

It would be very unfair to think the sport 
especially dangerous on account of the occa 
sional accidents that happen. A man who is 
fond of riding, but who sets a good deal of 
value, either for the sake of himself, his fam 
ily, or his business, upon his neck and limbs, 
can hunt with much safety if he gets a quiet 



200 Hunting the Grisly 

horse, a safe fencer, and does not try to stay 
in the front rank. Most accidents occur to 
men on green or wild horses, or else to those 
who keep in front only at the expense of 
pumping their mounts; and a fall with a 
done-out beast is always peculiarly disagree 
able. Most falls, however, do no harm what 
ever to either horse or. rider, and after they 
have picked themselves up and shaken them 
selves, the couple ought to be able to go on 
just as well as ever. Of course a man who 
wishes to keep in the first flight must expect 
to face a certain number of tumbles ; but even 
he will probably not be hurt at all, and he 
can avoid many a mishap by easing up his 
horse whenever he can that is, by always 
taking a gap when possible, going at the low 
est panel of every fence, and not calling on his 
animal for all there is in him unless it can 
not possibly be avoided. It must be remem 
bered that hard riding is a very different thing 
from good riding; though a good rider to 
hounds must also at times ride hard. 

Cross-country riding in the rough is not a 
difficult thing to learn; always provided the 
would-be learner is gifted with or has ac 
quired a fairly stout heart, for a constitution 
ally timid person is out of place in the hunting 



Hunting with Hounds 201 

field. A really finished cross-country rider, 
a man who combines hand and seat, heart and 
head, is of course rare; the standard is too 
high for most of us to hope to reach. But it is 
comparatively easy to acquire a light hand 
and a capacity to sit fairly well down in the 
saddle; and when a man has once got these, 
he will find no especial difficulty in following 
the hounds on a trained hunter. 

Fox-hunting is a great sport, but it is as 
foolish to make a fetich of it as it is to decry 
it. The fox is hunted merely because there is 
no larger game to follow. As long as wolves, 
deer, or antelope remain in the land, and in 
a country where hounds and horsemen can 
work, no one would think of following the 
fox. It is pursued because the bigger beasts 
of the chase have been killed out. In England 
it has reached its present prominence only 
within two centuries; nobody followed the 
fox while the stag and the boar were common. 
At the present day, on Exmoor, where the 
wild stag is still found, its chase ranks ahead 
of that of the fox. It is not really the hunting 
proper which is the point in fox-hunting. It 
is the horsemanship, the galloping and jump 
ing, and the being out in the open air. Very 
naturally, however, men who have passed 



202 Hunting the Grisly 

their lives as fox-hunters grow to regard the 
chase and the object of it alike with super 
stitious veneration. They attribute almost 
mythical characters to the animal. I know 
some of my good Virginian friends, for in 
stance, who seriously believe that the Virginia 
red fox is a beast quite unparalleled for speed 
and endurance no less than for cunning. This 
is of course a mistake. Compared with a 
wolf, an antelope, or even a deer, the fox s 
speed and endurance do not stand very high. 
A good pack of hounds starting him close 
would speedily run into him in the open. The 
reason that the hunts last so long in some 
cases is because of the nature of the ground 
which favors the fox at the expense of the 
dogs, because of his having the advantage in 
the start, and because of his cunning in turn 
ing to account everything which will tell in 
his favor and against his pursuers. In the 
same way I know plenty of English friends 
who speak with bated breath of fox-hunting 
but look down upon riding to drag-hounds. 
Of course there is a difference in the two 
sports, and the fun of actually hunting the 
wild beast in the one case more than compen 
sates for the fact that in the other the riding 
is apt to be harder and the jumping higher; 



Hunting with Hounds 203 

but both sports are really artificial, and in 
their essentials alike. To any man who has 
hunted big game in a wild country the stress 
laid on the differences between them seems 
a little absurd, in fact cockney. It is of course 
nothing against either that it is artificial; so 
are all sports in long-civilized countries, from 
lacrosse to ice yachting. 

It is amusing to see how natural it is for 
each man to glorify the sport to which he has 
been accustomed at the expense of any other. 
The old-school French sportsman, for in 
stance, who followed the boar, stag, and hare 
with his hounds, always looked down upon 
the chase of the fox; whereas the average En 
glishman not only asserts but seriously be 
lieves that no other kind of chase can com 
pare with it, although in actual fact the very 
points in which the Englishman is superior to 
the Continental sportsman that is, in hard 
and straight riding and jumping are those 
which drag-hunting tends to develop rather 
more than fox-hunting proper. In the mere 
hunting itself the Continental sportsman is 
often unsurpassed. 

Once beyond the Missouri, I met an ex 
patriated German baron, an unfortunate who 
had failed utterly in the rough life of the 



204 Hunting the Grisly 

frontier. He was living in a squalid little 
hut, almost unfurnished, but studded around 
with the diminutive horns of the European 
roebuck. These were the only treasures he 
had taken with him to remind him of his for 
mer life, and he was never tired of describ 
ing what fun it was to shoot roebucks when 
driven by the little crooked-legged dachs 
hunds. There were plenty of deer and ante 
lope round about, yielding good sport to any 
rifleman, but this exile cared nothing for 
them ; they were not roebucks, and they could 
not be chased with his beloved dachshunds. 
So, among my neighbors in the cattle coun 
try, is a gentleman from France, a very suc 
cessful ranchman, and a thoroughly good fel 
low; he cares nothing for hunting big game, 
and will not go after it, but is devoted to shoot 
ing cotton-tails in the snow, this being a pas 
time having much resemblance to one of the 
recognized sports of his own land. 

However, our own people afford precisely 
similar instances. I have met plenty of men 
accustomed to killing wild turkeys and deer 
with small-bore rifles in the Southern forests 
who, when they got on the plains and in the 
Rockies, were absolutely helpless. They not 
only failed to become proficient in the art of 



Hunting with Hounds 20$ 

killing big game at long ranges with the large- 
bore rifle, at the cost of fatiguing tramps, but 
they had a positive distaste for the sport and 
would never allow that it equaled their own 
stealthy hunts in Southern forests. So I know 
plenty of men, experts with the shotgun, who 
honestly prefer shooting quail in the East over 
well-trained setters or pointers, to the hard 
ier, manlier sports of the wilderness. 

As it is with hunting, so it is with riding. 
The cowboy s scorn of every method of rid 
ing save his own is as profound and as igno 
rant as is that of the school rider, jockey, or 
fox-hunter. The truth is that each of these is 
best in his own sphere and is at a disadvan 
tage when made to do the work of any of the 
others. For all-around riding and horseman 
ship, I think the West Point graduate is some 
what ahead of any of them. Taken as a class, 
however, and compared with other classes as 
numerous, and not with a few exceptional in 
dividuals, the cowboy, like the Rocky Moun 
tain stage-driver, has no superiors anywhere 
for His own work; and they are fine fellows, 
these iron-nerve d reinsmen and rough-riders. 

When Buffalo Bill took his cowboys to Eu 
rope they made a practice in England, France, 
Germany, and Italy of offering to break and 



206 Hunting the Grisly 

ride, in their own fashion, any horse given 
them. They were frequently given spoiled 
animals from the cavalry services in the dif 
ferent countries through which they passed, 
animals with which the trained horse-break 
ers of the European armies could do nothing; 
and yet in almost all cases the cowpunchers 
and bronco-busters with Buffalo Bill mas 
tered these beasts as readily as they did their 
own Western horses. At their own work of 
mastering and riding rough horses they could 
not be matched by their more civilized rivals; 
but I have great doubts whether they in turn 
would not have been beaten if they had es 
sayed kinds of horsemanship utterly alien to 
their past experience, such as riding mettled 
thoroughbreds in a steeple-chase, or the like. 
Other things being equal (which, however, 
they generally are not), a bad, big horse fed 
on oats offers a rather more difficult prob 
lem than a bad little horse fed on grass. 
After Buffalo Bill s men had returned, I oc 
casionally heard it said that they had tried 
cross-country riding in England, and had 
shown themselves pre-eminently skilful there 
at, doing better than the English fox-hunters, 
but this I take the liberty to disbelieve. I 
was in England at the time, hunted occasion- 



Hunting with Hounds 107 

ally myself, and was with many of the men 
who were all the time riding in the most fa 
mous hunts; men, too, who were greatly im 
pressed with the exhibitions of rough riding 
then being given by Buffalo Bill and his men, 
and who talked of them much ; and yet I never, 
at the time, heard of an instance in which one 
of the cowboys rode to hounds with any 
marked success.* In the same way I have 
sometimes in New York or London heard of 
men who, it was alleged, had been out West 
and proved better riders than the bronco- 
busters themselves, just as I have heard of 
similar men who were able to go out hunting 
in the Rockies or on the plains and get more 
game than the Western hunters; but in the 
course of a long experience in the West I 
have yet to see any of these men, whether 
from the Eastern States or from Europe, ac 
tually show such superiority or perform such 
feats. 

It would be interesting to compare the per 
formances of the Australian stock-riders with 
those of our own cowpunchers, both in cow- 

1 It is, however, quite possible, now that Buffalo Bill s 
company has crossed the water several times, that a number 
of the cowboys have by practice become proficient in riding 
to hounds, and in steeple-chasing. 



208 Hunting the Grisly 

work and in riding. The Australians have 
an entirely different kind of saddle, and the 
use of the rope is unknown among them. A 
couple of years ago the famous Western rifle 
shot, Carver, took some cowboys out to Aus 
tralia, and I am informed that many of the 
Australians began themselves to practice with 
the rope after seeing the way it was used by 
the Americans. An Australian gentleman, 
Mr. A. J. Sage, of Melbourne, to whom I had 
written asking how the saddles and styles of 
riding compared, answered me as follows: 

"With regard to saddles, here it is a moot 
question which is the better, yours or ours, for 
buck-jumpers. Carver s boys rode in their 
own saddles against our Victorians in theirs, 
all on Australian buckers, and honors seemed 
easy. Each was good in his own style, but 
the horses were not what I should call really 
good buckers, such as you might get on a 
back station, and so there was nothing in the 
show that could unseat the cowboys. It is 
only back in the bush that you can get a 
really good bucker. I have often seen one of 
them put both man and saddle off." 

This last is a feat I have myself seen per 
formed in the West. I suppose the amount 
of it is that both the American and the Aus- 



Hunting with Hounds 209 

tralian rough riders are, for their own work, 
just as good as men possibly can be. 

One spring I had to leave the East in the 
midst of the hunting season, to join a round 
up in the cattle country of western Dakota, 
and it was curious to compare the totally dif 
ferent styles of riding of the cowboys and the 
cross-country men. A stock-saddle weighs 
thirty or forty pounds instead of ten or fifteen 
and needs an utterly different seat from that 
adopted in the East. A cowboy rides with 
very long stirrups, sitting forked well down 
between his high pommel and cantle, and de 
pends upon balance as well as on the grip of 
his thighs. In cutting out a steer from a herd, 
in breaking a vicious wild horse, in sitting a 
bucking bronco, in stopping a night stampede 
of many hundred maddened animals, or in the 
performance of a hundred other feats of reck 
less and daring horsemanship, the cowboy is 
absolutely unequaled; and when he has his 
own horse gear he sits his animal with the 
ease of a centaur. Yet he is quite helpless 
the first time he gets astride one of the small 
Eastern saddles. One summer, while pur 
chasing cattle in Iowa, one of my ranch fore 
men had to get on an ordinary saddle to 
ride out of town and see a bunch of steers. 



210 Hunting the Grisly 

He is perhaps the best rider on the ranch, 
and will without hesitation mount and master 
beasts that I doubt if the boldest rider in one 
of our Eastern hunts would care to tackle; 
yet his uneasiness on the new saddle was 
fairly comical. At first he did not dare to 
trot, and the least plunge of the horse bid 
fair to unseat him, nor did he begin to get 
accustomed to the situation until the very end 
of the journey. In fact, the two kinds of rid 
ing are so very different that a man only ac 
customed to one feels almost as ill at ease 
when he first tries the other as if he had never 
sat on a horse s back before. It is rather 
funny to see a man who only knows one kind, 
and is conceited enough to think that that is 
really the only kind worth knowing, when 
first he is brought into contact with the other. 
Two or three times I have known men try 
to follow hounds on stock-saddles, which are 
about as ill-suited for the purpose as they well 
can be; while it is even more laughable to 
see some young fellow from the East or from 
England, who thinks he knows entirely too 
much about horses to be taught by barbarians, 
attempt in his turn to do cow-work with his 
ordinary riding or hunting rig. It must be 
said, however, that in all probability cowboys 



Hunting with Hounds 211 

would learn to ride well across country much 
sooner than the average cross-country rider 
would master the dashing and peculiar style 
of horsemanship shown by those whose life 
business is to guard the wandering herds of 
the great Western plains. 

Of course, riding to hounds, like all sports 
in long settled, thickly peopled countries, fails 
to develop in its followers some of the hardy 
qualities necessarily incident to the wilder 
pursuits of the mountain and the forest. While 
I was on the frontier I was struck by the fact 
that of the men from the Eastern States or 
from England who had shown themselves at 
home to be good riders to hounds or had made 
their records as college athletes, a larger pro 
portion failed in the life of the wilderness 
than was the case among those who had gained 
their experience in such rough pastimes as 
mountaineering in the high Alps, winter cari 
bou-hunting in Canada, or deer-stalking not 
deer-driving in Scotland. 

Nevertheless, of all sports possible in civ 
ilized countries, riding to hounds is perhaps 
the best if followed as it should be, for the 
sake of the strong excitement, with as much 
simplicity as possible, and not merely as a 
fashionable amusement. It tends to develop 



212 Hunting the Grisly 

moral no less than physical qualities; the 
rider needs nerve and head; he must possess 
daring and resolution, as well as a good deal 
of bodily skill and a certain amount of wiry 
toughness and endurance. 



CHAPTER VIII 

WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS 

THE wolf is the archetype of ravin, the 
beast of waste and desolation. It is still 
found scattered thinly throughout all the 
wilder portions of the United States, but has 
everywhere retreated from the advance of 
civilization. 

Wolves show an infinite variety in color, 
size, physical formation, and temper. Al 
most all the varieties intergrade with one 
another, however, so that it is very difficult 
to draw a hard and fast line between any two 
of them. Nevertheless, west of the Missis 
sippi there are found two distinct types. One 
is the wolf proper, or big wolf, specifically 
akin to the wolves of the Eastern States. The 
other is the little coyote, or prairie wolf. The 
coyote and the big wolf are found together in 
almost all the wilder districts from the Rio 
Grande to the valleys of the Upper Missouri 
and the Upper Columbia. Throughout this 
region there is always a sharp line of de- 

(213) 



214 Hunting the Grisly 

marcation, especially in size, between the 
coyotes and the big wolves of any given dis 
trict; but in certain districts the big wolves 
are very much larger than their brethren in 
other districts. In the upper Columbia 
country, for instance, they are very large; 
along the Rio Grande they are small. Dr. 
Hart Merriam informs me that, according 
to his experience, the coyote is largest in 
Southern California. In many respects the 
coyote differs altogether in habits from its big 
relative. For one thing it is far more tolerant 
of man. In some localities coyotes are more 
numerous around settlements, and even in the 
close vicinity of large towns, than they are in 
the frowning and desolate fastnesses haunted 
by their grim elder brother. 

Big w r olves vary far more in color than the 
coyotes do. I have seen white, black, red, 
yellow, brown, gray, and grizzled skins, and 
others representing every shade between, al 
though usually each locality has its prevailing 
tint. The grizzled, gray, and brown often 
have precisely the coat of the coyote. The 
difference in size among wolves of different 
localities, and even of the same locality, is 
quite remarkable, and so, curiously enough, 
is the difference in the size of the teeth, in 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 215 

some cases even when the body of one wolf 
is as big as that of another. I have seen 
wolves from Texas and New Mexico which 
were undersized, slim animals with rather 
small tusks, in no way to be compared to the 
long-toothed giants of their race that dwell 
in the heavily timbered mountains of the 
Northwest and in the far North. As a rule, 
the teeth of the coyote are relatively smaller 
than those of the gray wolf. 

Formerly wolves were incredibly abundant 
in certain parts of the country, notably on the 
great plains, where they were known as buf 
falo wolves, and were regular attendants on 
the great herds of the bison. Every traveler 
and hunter of the old days knew them as 
among the most common sights of the plains, 
and they followed the hunting parties and 
emigrant trains for the sake of the scraps left 
in camp. Now, however, there is no district 
in which they are really abundant. The wolf- 
ers, or professional wolf-hunters, who killed 
them by poisoning for the sake of their fur, 
and the cattlemen, who likewise killed them 
by poisoning because of their raids on the 
herds, have doubtless been the chief instru 
ments in working their decimation on the 
plains. In the 70*8, and even in the early 



216 Hunting the Grisly 

8o s, many tens of thousands of wolves were 
killed by the wolfers in Montana and north 
ern Wyoming and western Dakota. Nowa 
days the surviving wolves of the plains have 
learned caution; they no longer move abroad 
at midday, and still less do they dream of 
hanging on the footsteps of hunter and trav 
eler. Instead of being one of the most com 
mon they have become one of the rarest sights 
of the plains. A hunter may wander far and 
wide through the plains for months nowadays 
and never see a wolf, though he will prob 
ably see many coyotes. However, the dim 
inution goes on, not steadily but by fits and 
starts, and, moreover, the beasts now and then 
change their abodes, and appear in numbers 
in places where they have been scarce for a 
long period. In the present winter of 1892- 
93 big wolves are more plentiful in the neigh 
borhood of my ranch than they have been for 
ten years, and have worked some havoc among 
the cattle and young horses. The cowboys 
have been carrying on the usual vindictive 
campaign against them; a number have been 
poisoned, and a number of others have fallen 
victims to their greediness, the cowboys sur 
prising them when gorged to repletion on the 
carcass of a colt or calf, and, in consequence, 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 217 

unable to run, so that they are easily ridden 
down, roped, and then dragged to death. 

Yet even the slaughter wrought by man in 
certain localities does not seem adequate to 
explain the scarcity or extinction of wolves, 
throughout the country at large. In most 
places they are not followed any more eager 
ly than are the other large beasts of prey, and 
they are usually followed with less success. 
Of all animals the wolf is the shyest and hard 
est to slay. It is almost or quite as difficult 
to still-hunt as the cougar, and is far more 
difficult to kill with hounds, traps, or poison; 
yet it scarcely holds its own as well as the 
great cat, and it does not begin to hold its own 
as well as the bear, a beast certainly more 
readily killed, and one which produces fewer 
young at a birth. Throughout the East the 
black bear is common in many localities from 
which the wolf has vanished completely. It 
at present exists in very scanty numbers in 
northern Maine and the Adirondacks; is al 
most or quite extinct in Pennsylvania; lin 
gers here and there in the mountains from 
West Virginia to East Tennessee, and is found 
in Florida; but is everywhere less abundant 
than the bear. It is possible that this destruc 
tion of the wolves is due to some disease among 

VOL. III. 10 



2i 8 Hunting the Grisly 

them, perhaps to hydrophobia, a terrible mal 
ady from which it is known that they suffer 
greatly at times. Perhaps the bear is helped 
by its habit of hibernating, which frees it from 
most dangers during winter; but this can not 
be the complete explanation, for in the South 
it does not hibernate, and yet holds its own 
as well as in the North. What makes it all 
the more curious that the American wolf 
should disappear sooner than the bear is that 
the reverse is the case with the allied species 
of Europe, where the bear is much sooner 
killed out of the land. 

Indeed the differences of this sort between 
nearly related animals are literally inexpli 
cable. Much of the difference in tempera 
ment between such closely allied species as 
the American and European bears and wolves 
is doubtless due to their surroundings and to 
the instincts they have inherited through many 
generations; but for much of the variation it 
is not possible to offer any explanation. In 
the same way there are certain physical dif 
ferences for which it is very hard to account, 
as the same conditions seem to operate in 
directly reverse ways with different animals. 
No one can explain the process of natural 
selection which has resulted in the otter of 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 219 

America being larger than the otter of Eu 
rope, while the badger is smaller; in the mink 
being with us a much stouter animal than its 
Scandinavian and Russian kinsman, while the 
reverse is true of our sable or pine marten. 
No one can say why the European red deer 
should be a pigmy compared to its giant 
brother, the American wapiti; why the Old 
World elk should average smaller in size than 
the almost indistinguishable New World 
moose; and yet the bison of Lithuania and 
the Caucasus be on the whole larger and more 
formidable than its American cousin. In the 
same way no one can tell why under like con 
ditions some game, such as the white goat and 
the spruce grouse, should be tamer than other 
closely allied species, like the mountain sheep 
and ruffed grouse. No one can say why on 
the whole the wolf of Scandinavia and north 
ern Russia should be larger and more danger 
ous than the average wolf of the Rocky Moun 
tains, while between the bears of the same 
regions the comparison must be exactly re 
versed. 

The difference even among the wolves of 
different sections of our own country is very 
notable. It may be true that the species as a 
whole is rather weak and less ferocious than 



220 Hunting the Grisly 

the European wolf; but it is certainly not 
true of the wolves of certain localities. The 
great timber wolf of the central and northern 
chains of the Rockies and coast ranges is in 
every way a more formidable creature than 
the buffalo wolf of the plains, although they 
intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves 
of northwestern Montana and Washington 
w r hich I have seen were quite as large and 
showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the 
skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian 
wolves, and I believe that these great timber 
wolves are in every way as formidable as their 
Old World kinsfolk. Ho\vever, they live 
w r here they come in contact with a popula 
tion of rifle-bearing frontier hunters, who are 
very different from European peasants or 
Asiatic tribesmen; and they have, even when 
most hungry, a wholesome dread of human 
beings. Yet I doubt if an unarmed man would 
be entirely safe should he, while alone in the 
forest in mid-winter, encounter a fair-sized 
pack of ravenously hungry timber wolves. 

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern 
Rockies, in exceptional instances, reaches a 
height of thirty- two inches and a weight of 
130 pounds; a big buffalo wolf of the upper 
Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches at 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 221 

the shoulder and weighs about 110 pounds. 
A Texan wolf may not reach over eighty 
pounds. The bitch-wolves are smaller; and 
moreover there is often great variation even 
in the wolves of closely neighboring localities. 
The wolves of the Southern plains were not 
often formidable to large animals, even in the 
days when they most abounded. They rarely 
attacked the horses of the hunter, and indeed 
were but little regarded by these experienced 
animals. Theywere much more likely to gnaw 
off the lariat with which the horse was tied, 
than to try to molest the steed himself. They 
preferred to prey on young animals, or on the 
weak and disabled. They rarely molested a 
full-grown cow or steer, still less a full-grown 
buffalo, and, if they did attack such an ani 
mal, it was only when emboldened by num 
bers. In the plains of the upper Missouri and 
Saskatchewan the wolf was, and is, more dan 
gerous, while in the northern Rockies his 
courage and ferocity attain their highest pitch. 
Near my own ranch the wolves have some 
times committed great depredations on cat 
tle, but they seem to have queer freaks of 
slaughter. Usually they prey only upon calves 
and sickly animals; but in midwinter I have 
known one single-handed to attack and kill 



222 Hunting the Grisly 

a well-grown steer or cow, disabling its quarry 
by rapid snaps at the hams or flanks. Only 
rarely have I known it to seize by the throat. 
Colts are likewise a favorite prey, but with 
us wolves rarely attack full-grown horses. 
They are sometimes very bold in their as 
saults, falling on the stock while immediately 
around the ranch houses. They even venture 
into the hamlet of Medora itself at night 
as the coyotes sometimes do by day. In the 
spring of 92 we put on some Eastern two- 
year-old steers; they arrived, and were turned 
loose from the stockyards, in a snowstorm, 
though it was in early May. Next morning 
we found that one had been seized, slain, and 
partially devoured by a big wolf at the very 
gate of the stockyard; probably the beast had 
seen it standing near the yard after nightfall, 
feeling miserable after its journey, in the 
storm and its unaccustomed surroundings, and 
had been emboldened to make the assault so 
near town by the evident helplessness of the 
prey. 

The big timber wolves of the northern 
Rocky Mountains attack every four-footed 
beast to be found where they live. They are 
far from contenting themselves with hunting 
deer and snapping up the pigs and sheep of 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 223 

the farm. When the weather gets cold and 
food scarce they band together in small par 
ties, perhaps of four or five individuals, and 
then assail anything, even a bear or a panther. 
A bull elk or bull moose, when on its guard, 
makes a most dangerous fight; but a single 
wolf will frequently master the cow of either 
animal, as well as domestic cattle and horses. 
In attacking such large game, however, the 
wolves like to act in concert, one springing 
at the animal s head, and attracting its atten 
tion, while the other hamstrings it. Never 
theless, one such big wolf will kill an or 
dinary horse. A man I knew, who was en 
gaged in packing into the Coeur d Alenes, once 
witnessed such a feat on the part of a wolf. 
He was taking his pack train down into a 
valley when he saw a horse grazing therein; 
it had been turned loose by another packing 
outfit, because it became exhausted. He lost 
sight of it as the trail went down a zigzag, 
and while it was thus out of sight he sud 
denly heard it utter the appalling scream, 
unlike and more dreadful than any other 
sound, which a horse only utters in extreme 
fright or agony. The scream was repeated, 
and as he came in sight again he saw that a 
great wolf had attacked the horse. The poor 



224 Hunting the Grisly 

animal had been bitten terribly in its haunches 
and was cowering upon them, while the wolf 
stood and looked at it a few paces off. In 
a moment or two the horse partially recov 
ered and made a desperate bound forward, 
starting at full gallop. Immediately the wolf 
was after it, overhauled it in three or four 
jumps, and then seized it by the hock, while 
its legs were extended, with such violence 
as to bring it completely back on its haunches. 
It again screamed piteously; and this time 
with a few savage snaps the wolf hamstrung 
and partially disemboweled it, and it fell 
over, having made no attempt to defend it 
self. I have heard of more than one incident 
of this kind. If a horse is a good fighter, 
however, as occasionally, though not often, 
happens, it is a most difficult prey for any 
wild beast, and some veteran horses have no 
fear of wolves whatsoever, well knowing that 
they can either strike them down with their 
forefeet or repulse them by lashing out be 
hind. 

Wolves are cunning beasts and will often 
try to lull their prey into unsuspicion by play 
ing round and cutting capers. I once saw a 
young deer and a wolf-cub together near the 
hut of the settler who had captured both. 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 225 

The wolf was just old enough to begin to 
feel vicious and bloodthirsty, and to show 
symptoms of attacking the deer. On the oc 
casion in question he got loose and ran to 
ward it, but it turned, and began to hit him 
with its forefeet, seemingly in sport; whereat 
he rolled over on his back before it, and acted 
like a puppy at play. Soon it, turned and 
walked off; immediately the wolf, with brist 
ling hair, crawled after, and with a pounce 
seized it by the haunch, and would doubtless 
have murdered the bleating, struggling crea 
ture, had not the bystanders interfered. 

Where there are no domestic animals, 
wolves feed on almost anything from a mouse 
to an elk. They are redoubted enemies of 
foxes. They are easily able to overtake them 
in fair chase, and kill numbers. If the fox 
can get into the underbrush, however, he can 
dodge around much faster than the wolf, and 
so escape pursuit. Sometimes one wolf will 
try to put a fox out of a cover while another 
waits outside to snap him up. Moreover, 
the wolf kills even closer kinsfolk than the 
fox. When pressed by hunger it will un 
doubtedly sometimes seize a coyote, tear it 
in pieces and devour it, although during most 
of the year the two animals live in perfect 



226 Hunting the Grisly 

harmony. I once myself, while out in the 
deep snow, came across the remains of a 
coyote that had been killed in this manner. 
Wolves are also very fond of the flesh of 
dogs, and if they get a chance promptly kill 
and eat any dog they can master and there 
are but few that they can not. Nevertheless, 
I have been told of one instance in which a 
wolf struck up an extraordinary friendship 
with a strayed dog, and the two lived and 
hunted together for many months, being fre 
quently seen by the settlers of the locality. 
This occurred near Thompson s Falls, Mon 
tana. 

Usually wolves are found singly, in pairs, 
or in family parties, each having a large beat 
over which it regularly hunts, and also at 
times shifting its ground and traveling im 
mense distances in order to take up a tem 
porary abode in some new locality for they 
are great wanderers. It is only under stress 
of severe weather that they band together in 
packs. They prefer to creep on their prey 
and seize it by a sudden pounce, but, unlike 
the cougar, they also run it down in fair chase. 
Their slouching, tireless gallop enables them 
often to overtake deer, antelope, or other 
quarry; though under favorable circum- 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 227 

stances, especially if near a lake, the latter 
frequently escape. Whether wolves run cun 
ning I do not know; but I think they must, 
for coyotes certainly do. A coyote can not 
run down a jack- rabbit; but two or three 
working together will often catch one. Once 
I saw three start a jack, which ran right away 
from them ; but they spread out, and followed. 
Pretty soon the jack turned slightly, and ran 
near one of the outside ones, saw it, became 
much frightened, and turned at right angles, 
so as soon to nearly run into the other outside 
one, which had kept straight on. This hap 
pened several times, and then the confused 
jack lay down under a sage-bush and was 
seized. So I have seen two coyotes attempt 
ing to get at a newly dropped antelope kid. 
One would make a feint of attack, and lure 
the dam into a rush at him, while the other 
stole round to get at the kid. The dam, as 
always with these spirited little prong-bucks, 
made a good fight, and kept the assailants at 
bay; yet I think they would have succeeded 
in the end, had I not interfered. Coyotes are 
bold and cunning in raiding the settlers barn 
yards for lambs and hens; and they have an 
especial liking for tame cats. If there are 
coyotes in the neighborhood a cat which gets 



228 Hunting the Grisly 

into the habit of wandering from home is 
surely lost. 

Though I have never known wolves to at 
tack a man, yet in the wilder portion of the 
far Northwest I have heard them come around 
camp very close, growling so savagely as to 
make one almost reluctant to leave the camp 
fire and go out into the darkness unarmed. 
Once I was camped in the fall near a lonely 
little lake in the mountains, by the edge of 
quite a broad stream. Soon after nightfall 
three or four wolves came around camp and 
kept me awake by their sinister and dismal 
howling. Two or three times they carne 
so close to the fire that I could hear them 
snap their jaws and growl, and at one time I 
positively thought that they intended to try 
to get into camp, so excited were they by the 
smell of the fresh meat. After a while they 
stopped howling; and then all w r as silent for 
an hour or so. I let the fire go out and was 
turning into bed when I suddenly heard some 
animal of considerable size come down to the 
stream nearly opposite me and begin to splash 
across, first wading, then swimming. It was 
pitch dark and I could not possibly see, but 
I felt sure it was a wolf. However after com 
ing half-way over it changed its mind and 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 229 

swam back to the opposite bank; nor did I 
see or hear anything more of the night ma 
rauders. 

Five or six times on the plains or on my 
ranch I have had shots at wolves, always ob 
tained by accident and always, I regret to 
say, missed. Often the wolf when seen was 
running at full speed for cover, or else was 
so far off that though motionless my shots 
went wide of it. But once have I with my 
own rifle killed a wolf, and this was while 
traveling with a pack train in the mountains. 
We had been making considerable noise, and 
I never understood how an animal so wary 
permitted our near approach. He did, never 
theless, and just as we came to a little stream 
which we were to ford I saw him get on a 
dead log some thirty yards distant and walk 
slowly off with his eyes turned toward us. 
The first shot smashed his shoulders and 
brought him down. 

The wolf is one of the animals which can 
only be hunted successfully with dogs. Most 
dogs however do not take at all kindly to the 
pursuit. A wolf is a terrible fighter. He 
will decimate a pack of hounds by rabid snaps 
with his giant jaws while suffering little dam 
age himself; nor are the ordinary big dogs, 



230 Hunting the Grisly 

supposed to be fighting dogs, able to tackle 
him without special training. I have known 
one wolf to kill with a single snap a bulldog 
which had rushed at it, w r hile another which 
had entered the yard of a Montana ranch 
house slew in quick succession both of the 
large mastiffs by which it was assailed. The 
immense agility and ferocity of the wild 
beast, the terrible snap of his long-toothed 
jaws, and the admirable training in which 
he always is, give him a great advantage over 
fat, small-toothed, smooth-skinned dogs, even 
though they are nominally supposed to be 
long to the fighting classes. In the way that 
bench competitions are arranged nowadays 
this is but natural, as there is no temptation 
to produce a worthy class of fighting dog 
when the rewards are given upon technical 
points wholly unconnected with the dog s use 
fulness. A prize-winning mastiff or bulldog 
may be almost useless for the only purposes 
for which his kind is ever useful at all. A 
mastiff; if properly trained and of sufficient 
size, might possibly be able to meet a young 
or undersized Texan wolf; but I have never 
seen a dog of this variety which I would 
esteem a match single-handed for one of the 
huge timber wolves of western Montana. 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 231 

Even if the dog was the heavier of the two, 
his teeth and claws would be very much 
smaller and weaker and his hide less tough. 
Indeed I have known of but one dog which 
single-handed encountered and slew a wolf; 
this was the large vicious mongrel whose feats 
are recorded in my Hunting Trips of a Ranch 
man. 

General Marcy of the United States Army 
informed me that he once chased a huge wolf 
which had gotten away with a small trap on 
its foot. It was, I believe, in Wisconsin, and 
he had twenty or thirty hounds witH him, but 
they were entirely untrained to wolf-hunting, 
and proved unable to stop the crippled beast. 
Few of them would attack it at all, and those 
that did went at it singly and with a certain 
hesitation, and so each in turn was disabled 
by a single terrible snap, and left bleeding 
on the snow. General Wade Hampton tells 
me that in the course of his fifty years hunt 
ing with horse and hound in Mississippi, he 
has on several occasions tried his pack of fox 
hounds (Southern deer-hounds) after a wolf. 
He found that it was with the greatest diffi 
culty, however, that he could persuade them 
to so much as follow the trail. Usually, as 
soon as they came across it, they would growl, 



232 Hunting the Grisly 

bristle up, and then retreat with their tails 
between their legs. But one of his dogs ever 
really tried to master a wolf by itself, and this 
one paid for its temerity with its life; for 
while running a wolf in a canebrake the beast 
turned and tore it to pieces. Finally General 
Hampton succeeded in getting a number of 
his hounds so they would at any rate follow 
the trail in full cry, and thus drive the wolf 
out of the thicket, and give a chance to the 
hunter to get a shot. In this way he killed 
two or three. 

The true way to kill wolves, however, is to 
hunt them with greyhounds on the great 
plains. Nothing more exciting than this sport 
can possibly be imagined. It is not always 
necessary that the greyhounds should be of 
absolutely pure blood. Prize-winning dogs 
of high pedigree often prove useless for the 
purpose. If by careful choice, however, a 
ranchman can get together a pack composed 
both of the smooth-haired greyhound and the 
rough-haired Scotch deer-hound, he can have 
excellent sport. The greyhounds sometimes 
do best if they have a slight cross of bulldog 
in their veins; but this is not necessary. If 
once a greyhound can be fairly entered to the 
sport and acquires confidence, then its won- 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 



233 



derful agility, its sinewy strength and speed, 
and the terrible snap with which its jaws come 
together, render it a most formidable assail 
ant. Nothing can possibly exceed the gallan 
try with which good greyhounds, when their 
blood is up, fling themselves on a wolf or 
any other foe. There does not exist, and 
there never has existed on the wide earth, a 
more perfect type of dauntless courage than 
such a hound. Not Gushing when he steered 
his little launch through the black night 
against the great ram Albemarle, not Ouster 
dashing into the valley of the Rosebud to die 
with all his men, not Farragut himself lashed 
in the rigging of the Hartford as she forged 
past the forts to encounter her ironclad foe, 
can stand as a more perfect type of dauntless 
valor. 

Once I had the good fortune to witness a 
very exciting hunt of this character among the 
foothills of the northern Rockies. I was 
staying at the house of a friendly cowman, 
whom I will call Judge Yancy Stump. Judge 
Yancy Stump was a Democrat who, as he 
phrased it, had fought for his Democracy; 
that is, he had been in the Confederate Army. 
He was at daggers drawn with his nearest 
neighbor, a cross-grained mountain farmer, 



234 Hunting the Grisly 

who may be known as old man Prindle. Old 
man Prindle had been in the Union Army, 
and his Republicanism was of the blackest 
and most uncompromising type. There was 
one point, however, on which the two came 
together. They were exceedingly fond of 
hunting with hounds. The Judge had three 
or four track-hounds, and four of what he 
called swift-hounds, the latter including one 
pure-bred greyhound bitch of wonderful 
speed and temper, a dun-colored yelping ani 
mal which was a cross between a greyhound 
and a fox-hound, and two others that were 
crosses between a greyhound and a wire- 
haired Scotch deer-hound. Old man Prin- 
dle s contribution to the pack consisted of two 
immense brindled mongrels of great strength 
and ferocious temper. They were unlike any 
dogs I have ever seen in this country. Their 
mother herself was a cross between a bull 
mastiff and a Newfoundland, while the father 
was described as being a big dog that be 
longed to a "Dutch Count." The "Dutch 
Count" was an outcast German noble, who 
had drifted to the West, and, after failing in 
the mines and failing in the cattle country, 
had died in a squalid log shanty while striv 
ing to eke out an existence as a hunter among 



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds 235 

the foothills. His dog, I presume, from the 
description given me, must have been a boar- 
hound or Ulm dog. 

As I was very anxious to see a wolf-hunt 
the Judge volunteered to get one up, and 
asked old man Prindle to assist, for the sake 
of his two big fighting dogs ; though the very 
names of the latter, General Grant and Old 
Abe, were gall and wormwood to the unrecon 
structed soul of the Judge. Still they were 
the only dogs anywhere around capable of 
tackling a savage timber wolf, and without 
their aid the Judge s own high-spirited ani 
mals ran a serious risk of injury, for they were 
altogether too game to let any beast escape 
without a struggle. 

Luck favored us. Two wolves had killed 
a calf and dragged it into a long patch of 
dense brush where there was a little spring, 
the whole furnishing admirable cover for any 
wild beast. Early in the morning we started 
on horseback for this bit of cover, which was 
some three miles off. The party consisted of 
the Judge, old man Prindle, a cowboy, my 
self, and the dogs. The Judge and I carried 
our rifles and the cowboy his revolver, but old 
man Prindle had nothing but a heavy whip, 
for he swore, with many oaths, that no one 



236 Hunting the Grisly 

should interfere with his big dogs, for by 
themselves they would surely "make the wolf 
feel sicker than a stuck hog. " Our shaggy 
ponies racked along at a five-mile gait over 
the dewy prairie grass. The two big dogs 
trotted behind their master, grim and fero 
cious. The track-hounds were tied in couples, 
and the beautiful greyhounds loped lightly 
and gracefully alongside the horses. The 
country was fine. A mile to our right a small 
plains river wound in long curves between 
banks fringed with cottonwoods. Two or 
three miles to our left the foothills rose sheer 
and bare, with clumps of black pine and cedar 
in their gorges. We rode over gently rolling 
prairie, with here and there patches of brush 
at the bottoms of the slopes around the dry 
watercourses. 

At last we reached a somewhat deeper val 
ley, in which the wolves were harbored. 
Wolves lie close in the daytime and will not 
leave cover if they can help it; and as they 
had both food and water within we knew it 
was most unlikely that this couple would be 
gone. The valley was a couple of hundred 
yards broad and three or four times as long, 
filled with a growth of ash and dwarf elm and 
cedar, thorny underbrush choking the spaces 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 237 

between. Posting the cowboy, to whom he 
gave his rifle, with two greyhounds on one 
side of the upper end, and old man Prindle 
with two others on the opposite side, while I 
was left at the lower end to guard against the 
possibility of the wolves breaking back, the 
Judge himself rode into the thicket near me 
and loosened the track-hounds to let them 
find the wolves trial. The big dogs also were 
uncoupled and allowed to go in with the 
hounds. Their power of scent was very poor, 
but they were sure to be guided aright by the 
baying of the hounds, and their presence 
would give confidence to the latter and make 
them ready to rout the wolvesi out of the 
thicket, which they would probably have 
shrunk from doing alone. There was a mo 
ment s pause of expectation after the Judge 
entered the thicket with his hounds. We sat 
motionless on our horses, eagerly looking 
through the keen fresh morning air. Then a 
clamorous baying from the thicket in which 
both the horseman and dogs had disappeared 
showed that the hounds had struck the trail 
of their quarry and were running on a hot 
scent. For a couple of minutes we could not 
be quite certain which way the game was go- 
Ing to break. The hounds ran zigzag through 



23 8 Hunting the Grisly 

the brush, as we could tell by their baying ? 
and once some yelping and a great row 
showed that they had come rather closer than 
they had expected upon at least one of the 
wolves. 

In another minute, however, the latter found 
it too hot for them and bolted from the thicket 
My first notice of this was seeing the cowboy, 
who was standing by the side of his horse, 
suddenly throw up his rifle and fire, while the 
greyhounds who had been springing high in 
the air, half maddened by the clamor in the 
thicket below, for a moment dashed off the 
wrong way, confused by the report of the gun. 
I rode for all I was worth to where the cow 
boy stood, and instantly caught a glimpse of 
two wolves, grizzled-gray and brown, which, 
having been turned by his shot, had started 
straight over the hill across the plain toward 
the mountains three miles away. As soon as 
I saw them I also saw that the rearmost of 
the couple had been hit somewhere in the 
body and was lagging behind, the blood run 
ning from its flanks, while the two greyhounds 
were racing after it; and at the same moment 
the track-hounds and the big dogs burst out 
of the thicket, yelling savagely as they struck 
the bloody trail. The wolf was hard hit, and 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 239 

staggered as he ran. He did not have a hun 
dred yards start of the dogs, and in less than 
a minute one of the greyhounds ranged up 
and passed him with a savage snap that 
brought him to; and before he could recover 
the whole pack rushed at him. Weakened as 
he was he could make no effective fight 
against so many foes, and indeed had a chance 
for but one or two rapid snaps before he was 
thrown down and completely covered by the 
bodies of his enemies. Yet with one of these 
snaps he did damage, as a shrill yell told, and 
in a second an over-rash track-hound came 
out of the struggle with a deep gash across 
his shoulders. The worrying, growling, and 
snarling were terrific, but in a minute the 
heaving mass grew motionless and the dogs 
drew off save one or two that still continued 
to worry the dead wolf as it lay stark and stiff 
with glazed eyes and rumpled fur. 

No sooner were we satisfied that it was 
dead than the Judge, with cheers and oaths 
and crackings of his whip, urged the dogs 
after the other wolf. The two greyhounds 
that had been with old man Prindle had for 
tunately not been able to see the wolves when 
they first broke from the cover, and never saw 
the wounded wolf at all, starting off at full 



240 Hunting the Grisly 

speed after the unwounded one the instant he 
topped the crest of the hill. He had taken 
advantage of a slight hollow and turned, and 
now the chase was crossing us half a mile 
away. With whip and spur we flew toward 
them, our two greyhounds stretching out in 
front and leaving us as if we were standing 
still, the track-hounds and big dogs running 
after them just ahead of the horses. Fortu 
nately the wolf plunged for a moment into a 
little brushy hollow and again doubled back, 
and this gave us a chance to see the end of 
the chase from nearby. The two greyhounds 
which had first taken up the pursuit were 
then but a short distance behind. Nearer 
they crept until they were within ten yards, 
and then with a tremendous race the little 
bitch ran past him and inflicted a vicious bite 
in the big beast s ham. He whirled around 
like a top and his jaws clashed like those of a 
sprung bear-trap, but quick though he was 
she was quicker and just cleared his savage 
rush. In another moment he resumed his 
flight at full speed, a speed which only that of 
the greyhounds exceeded; but almost imme 
diately the second greyhound ranged along 
side, and though he was not able to bite, be 
cause the wolf kept running with its head 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 241 

turned around threatening him, yet by his 
feints he delayed the beast s flight so that in 
a moment or two the remaining couple of 
swift hounds arrived on the scene. For a 
moment the wolf and all four dogs galloped 
along in a bunch ; then one of the greyhounds, 
watching his chance, pinned the beast cleverly 
by the hock and threw him completely over. 
The others jumped on it in an instant; but 
rising by main strength the wolf shook himself 
free, catching one dog by the ear and tearing 
it half off. Then he sat down on his haunches 
and the greyhounds ranged themselves around 
him some twenty yards off, forming a ring 
which forbade his retreat, though they them 
selves did not dare touch him. However 
the end was at hand. In another moment 
Old Abe and General Grant came running up 
at headlong speed and smashed into the wolf 
like a couple of battering-rams. He rose on 
his hind-legs like a wrestler as they came at 
him, the greyhounds also rising and bouncing 
up and down like rubber balls. I could just 
see the wolf and the first big dog locked to 
gether, as the second one made good his 
throat-hold. In another moment over all three 
tumbled, while the greyhounds and one or 
two of the track-hounds jumped in to take 

VOL. III. 



242 Hunting the Grisly 

part in the killing. The big dogs more than 
occupied the wolf s attention and took all the 
punishing, while in a trice one of the grey 
hounds, having seized him by the hind-leg, 
stretched him out, and the others were biting 
his undefended belly. The snarling and yell 
ing of the worry made a noise so fiendish 
that it was fairly bloodcurdling; then it grad 
ually died down, and the second wolf lay limp 
on the plain, killed by the dogs unassisted. 
This wolf was rather heavier and decidedly 
taller than either of the big dogs, with more 
sinewy feet and longer fangs. 

I have several times seen wolves run down 
and stopped by greyhounds after a break-neck 
gallop and a wildly exciting finish, but this 
was the only occasion on which I ever saw 
the dogs kill a big full-grown he-wolf unaided. 
Nevertheless various friends of mine own 
packs that have performed the feat again and 
again. One pack, formerly kept at Fort Ben- 
ton, until wolves in that neighborhood became 
scarce, had nearly seventy-five to its credit, 
most of them killed without any assistance 
from the hunter; killed moreover by the grey 
hounds alone, there being no other dogs with 
the pack. These greyhounds were trained to 
the throat-hold, and did their own killing in 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 243 

fine style; usually six or eight were slipped 
together. General Miles informs me that he 
once had great fun in the Indian Territory 
hunting wolves with a pack of greyhounds. 
They had with the pack a large stub-tailed 
mongrel, of doubtful ancestry but most un 
doubted fighting capacity. When the wolf 
was started the greyhounds were sure to over 
take it in a mile or two; they would then 
bring it to a halt and stand around it in a ring 
until the fighting dog came up. The latter 
promptly tumbled on the wolf, grabbing him 
anywhere, and often getting a terrific wound 
himself at the same time. As soon as he had 
seized the wolf and was rolling over with him 
in the grapple the other dogs joined in the 
fray and despatched the quarry without much 
(danger to themselves. 

During the last decade many ranchmen in 
Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana have de 
veloped packs of greyhounds able to kill a 
wolf unassisted. Greyhounds trained for this 
purpose always seize by the throat; and the 
light dogs used for coursing jack-rabbits are 
not of much service, smooth or rough-haired 
greyhounds and deer-hounds standing over 
thirty inches at the shoulder and weighing 
over ninety pounds being the only ones that, 



244 Hunting the Grisly 

together with speed, courage, and endurance, 
possess the requisite power. 

One of the most famous packs in the West 
was that of the Sun River Hound Club, in 
Montana, started by the stockmen of Sun 
River to get rid of the curse of \volves which 
infested the neighborhood and worked very 
serious damage to the herds and flocks. The 
pack was composed of both greyhounds and 
deer-hounds, the best being from the kennels 
of ColonelWilliams and of Mr.VanHummel, 
of Denver; they were handled by an old 
plainsman and veteran wolf-hunter named 
Porter. In the season of 86 the astonishing 
number of 146 wolves were killed with these 
dogs. Ordinarily, as soon as the dogs seized 
a wolf, and threw or held it, Porter rushed in 
and stabbed it with his hunting-knife; one 
day, when out with six hounds, he thus killed 
no less than twelve out of the fifteen wolves 
started, though one of the greyhounds was 
killed, and all the others were cut and ex 
hausted. But often the wolves were killed 
without his aid. The first time the two big 
gest hounds deer-hounds or w 7 ire-haired 
greyhounds were tried, when they had been 
at the ranch only three days, they performed 
such a feat. A large wolf had killed and par- 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 245 

tially eaten a sheep in a corral close to the 
ranch house, and Porter started on the trail, 
and followed him at a jog-trot nearly ten miles 
before the hounds sighted him. Running but 
a few rods, he turned viciously to bay, and the 
two great greyhounds struck him like stones 
hurled from a catapult, throwing him as they 
fastened on his throat; they held him down 
and strangled him before he could rise, two 
other hounds getting up just in time to help at 
the end of the worry. 

Ordinarily, however, no two greyhounds or 
f deer-hounds are a match for a gray wolf, 
but I have known of several instances in Col 
orado, Wyoming and Montana, in which three 
strong veterans have killed one. The feat 
can only be performed by big dogs of the 
highest courage, who all act together, rush in 
at top speed, and seize by the throat; for the 
strength of the quarry is such that otherwise 
he will shake off the dogs, and then speedily 
kill them by rapid snaps with his terribly 
armed jaws. Where possible, half a dozen 
dogs should be slipped at once, to minimize 
the risk of injury to the pack; unless this is 
done, and unless the Hunter helps the dogs in 
the worry, accidents will be frequent and an 
occasional wolf will be found able to beat off, 



246 Hunting the Grisly 

maiming or killing, a lesser number of assail 
ants. Some hunters prefer the smooth grey 
hound, because of its great speed, and others 
the wire-coated animal, the rough deer-hound, 
because of its superior strength; both, if of 
the right kind, are dauntless fighters. 

Colonel Williams greyhounds have per 
formed many noble feats in wolf-hunting. He 
spent the winter of 1875 m trie Black Hills, 
which at that time did not contain a single 
settler and fairly swarmed with game. 
Wolves were especially numerous and very 
bold and fierce, so that the dogs of the party 
were continually in jeopardy of their lives. 
On the other hand they took an ample ven 
geance, for many wolves w r ere caught by the 
pack. Whenever possible, the horsemen kept 
close enough to take an immediate hand in 
the fight, if the quarry w r as a full-grown wolf, 
and thus save the dogs from the terrible pun 
ishment they were otherwise certain to re 
ceive. The dogs invariably throttled, rushing 
straight at the throat, but the wounds they 
themselves received were generally in the flank 
or belly; in several instances these wounds 
resulted fatally. Once or twice a wolf was 
caught, and held by two greyhounds until the 
horsemen came up; but it took at least five 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds 247 

dogs to overcome and slay unaided a big tim 
ber wolf. Several times the feat was per 
formed by a party of five, consisting of two 
greyhounds, one rough-coated deer-hound, 
and two cross-bloods; and once by a litter of 
seven young greyhounds, not yet come to their 
full strength. 

Once or twice the so-called Russian wolf 
hounds or silky coated greyhounds, the "bor 
zois," have been imported and tried in wolf- 
hunting on the Western plains; but hither 
to they have not shown themselves equal, at 
either running or fighting, to the big Ameri 
can-bred greyhounds of the type produced by 
Colonel Williams and certain others of our 
best Western breeders. Indeed I have never 
known any foreign greyhounds, whether 
Scotch, English, or from Continental Eu 
rope, to perform such feats of courage, en 
durance, and strength, in chasing and killing 
dangerous game, as the home-bred greyhounds 
of Colonel Williams. 



CHAPTER IX 

IN COWBOY LAND 

OUT on the frontier, and generally among 
those who spend their lives in, or on the 
borders of, the wilderness, life is reduced to 
its elemental conditions. The passions and 
emotions of these grim hunters of the moun 
tains, and wild rough-riders of the plains, are 
simpler and stronger than those of people 
dwelling in more complicated states of society. 
As soon as the communities become settled 
and begin to grow with any rapidity, the 
American instinct for law asserts itself; but 
in the earlier stages each individual is obliged 
to be a law to himself and to guard his rights 
with a strong hand. Of course the transition 
periods are full of incongruities. Men have 
not yet adjusted their relations to morality and 
law with any niceness. They hold strongly by 
certain rude virtues, and on the other hand 
they quite fail to recognize even as shortcom 
ings not a few traits that obtain scant mercy 
in older communities. Many of the despera- 
(248) 



In Cowboy Land 249 

does, the man-killers, and road-agents have 
good sides to their characters. Often they 
are people who, in certain stages of civiliza 
tion, do, or have done, good work, but who, 
when these stages have passed, find themselves 
surrounded by conditions which accentuate 
their worst qualities, and make their best qual 
ities useless. The average desperado, for in 
stance, has, after all, much the same standard 
of morals that the Norman nobles had in the 
days of the battle of Hastings, and, ethically 
and morally, he is decidedly in advance of the 
vikings, who were the ancestors of these same 
nobles and to whom, by the way, he himself 
could doubtless trace a portion of his blood. 
If the transition from the wild lawlessness of 
life in the wilderness or on the border to a 
higher civilization were stretched out over a 
term of centuries, he and his descendants 
would doubtless accommodate themselves by 
degrees to the changing circumstances. But 
unfortunately in the far West the transition 
takes place with marvelous abruptness, and 
at an altogether unheard-of speed, and many 
a man s nature is unable to change with suffi 
cient rapidity to allow him to harmonize with 
his environment. In consequence, unless he 
leaves for still wilder lands, he ends by getting 



250 Hunting the Grisly 

hanged instead of founding a family which 
would revere his name as that of a very capa 
ble, although not in all respects a convention 
ally moral, ancestor. 

Most of the men with whom I was inti 
mately thrown during my life on the frontier 
and in the wilderness were good fellows, hard 
working, brave, resolute, and truthful. At 
times, of course, they were forced of necessity 
to do deeds which would seem startling to 
dwellers in cities and in old settled places; 
and though they waged a very stern and re 
lentless warfare upon evil-doers whose mis 
deeds had immediate and tangible bad results, 
they showed a wide toleration of all save the 
most extreme classes of wrong, and were not 
given to inquiring too curiously into a strong 
man s past, or to criticising him over-harshly 
for a failure to discriminate in finer ethical 
questions. Moreover, not a few of the men 
with whom I came in contact with some of 
whom my relations were very close and 
friendly had at different times led rather 
tough careers. This was accepted by them 
and by their companions as a fact, and 
nothing more. There were certain offences, 
such as rape, the robbery of a friend, or mur 
der under circumstances of cowardice and 



In Cowboy Land 251 

treachery, which were never forgiven; but 
the fact that when the country was wild a 
young fellow had gone on the road that is, 
become a highwayman, or had been chief of a 
gang of desperadoes, horse-thieves, and cattle- 
killers was scarcely held to weigh against 
him, being treated as a regrettable, but cer 
tainly not shameful, trait of youth. He was 
regarded by his neighbors with the same 
kindly tolerance which respectable mediaeval 
Scotch borderers doubtless extended to their 
wilder young men who would persist in raid 
ing English cattle even in time of peace. 

Of course if these men were asked outright 
as to their stories they would have refused 
to tell them or else would have lied about 
them; but when they had grown to regard 
a man as a friend and companion they would 
often recount various incidents of their past 
lives with perfect frankness, and as they com 
bined in a very curious degree both a decided 
sense of humor, and a failure to appreciate 
that there was anything especially remarkable 
in what they related, their tales were always 
entertaining. 

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, 
I was out hunting some lost horses. They 
had strayed from the range three months be- 



252 Hunting the Grisly 

fore, and we had in a roundabout way heard 
that they were ranging near some broken 
country, where a man named Brophy had a 
ranch, nearly fifty miles from my own. When 
I started thither the weather was warm, but 
the second day out it grew colder and a heavy 
snowstorm came on. Fortunately I was able 
to reach the ranch all right, finding there one 
of the sons of a Little Beaver ranchman, and 
a young cowpuncher belonging to a Texas 
outfit, whom I knew very well. After putting 
my horse into the corral and throwing him 
down some hay I strode into the low hut, 
made partly of turf and partly of cottonwood 
logs, and speedily warmed myself before the 
fire. We had a good warm supper, of bread, 
potatoes, fried venison, and tea. My two 
companions grew very sociable and began to 
talk freely over their pipes. There were two 
bunks one above the other. I climbed into 
the upper, leaving my friends, who occupied 
the lower, sitting together on a bench recount 
ing different incidents in the careers of them 
selves and their cronies during the winter that 
had just passed. Soon one of them asked 
the other what had become of a certain horse, 
a noted cutting pony, which I had myself 
noticed the preceding fall. The question 



In Cowboy Land 253 

aroused the other to the memory of a wrong 
which still rankled, and he began (I alter one 
or two of the proper names) : 

"Why, that was the pony that got stole. 
I had been workin him on rough ground 
when I was out with the Three Bar outfit and 
he went tender forward, so I turned him loose 
by the Lazy B ranch, and when I came back 
to git him there wasn t anybody at the ranch 
and I couldn t find him. The sheep-man who 
lives about two miles west, under Red Clay 
butte, told me he seen a fellow in a wolfskin 
coat, ridin a pinto bronco, with white eyes, 
leadin that pony of mine just two days be 
fore; and I hunted round till I hit his trail 
and then I followed to where I d reckoned he 
was headin for the Short Pine Hills. When 
I got there a rancher told me he had seen the 
man pass on towards Cedartown, and sure 
enough when I struck Cedartown I found he 
lived there in a dobe house, just outside the 
town. There was a boom on the town and 
it looked pretty slick. There was two hotels 
and I went into the first, and I says, Where s 
the justice of the peace? says I to the bar 
tender. 

" There ain t no justice of the peace/ 
says he, the justice of the peace got shot. 



254 Hunting the Grisly 

" Well, where s the constable? says I. 

" Why, it was him that shot the justice of 
the peace! says he; he s skipped the coun 
try with a bunch of horses. 

" Well, ain t there no officer of the law left 
in this town? says I. 

" Why, of course, says he, there s a pro 
bate judge; he is over tendin bar at the Last 
Chance Hotel. 

"So I went over to the Last Chance Hotel 
and I walked in there. Mornin , says I. 

" Mornin , says he. 

" You re the probate judge? says I. 

" That s what I am, says he. What do 
you want? says he. 

" I want justice, says I. 

What kind of justice do you want? says 
he. What s it for? 

It s for stealin a horse, says I. 
Then by God you ll git it, says he. 
Who stole the horse? says he. 

" It is a man that lives in a dobe house, 
just outside the town there, says I. 

" Well, where do you come from your 
self? said he. 

" From Medory, said I. 

"With that he lost interest and settled kind 
o back, and says he, There won t no Cedar- 



" 
" 



In Cowboy Land 255 

town jury hang a Cedartown man for stealin 
a Medory man s horse/ said he. 

" Well, what am I to do about my horse ? 
says I. 

" Do? says he; Veil, you know where the 
man lives, don t you? says he; then sit up 
outside his house to-night and shoot him when 
he comes in, says he, and skip out with the 
horse. 

" All right, says I, that is what I ll do, 
and I walked off. 

"So I went off to his house and I laid down 
behind some sage-bushes to wait for him. He 
was not at home, but I could see his wife 
movin about inside now and then, and I 
waited and waited, and it growed darker, and 
I begun to say to myself, Now here you are 
lyin out to shoot this man when he comes 
home; and it s gettin dark, and you don t 
know him, and if you do shoot the next man 
that comes into that house, like as not it won t 
be the fellow you re after at all, but some 
perfectly innocent man a-comin there after 
the other man s wife P 

"So I up and saddled the bronc and lit 
out for home," concluded the narrator with 
the air of one justly proud of his own self- 
abnegating virtue. 



256 Hunting the Grisly 

The "town" where the judge above-men 
tioned dwelt was one of those squalid pre 
tentiously named little clusters of makeshift 
dwellings which on the edge of the wild 
country spring up with the rapid growth of 
mushrooms, and are often no longer lived. 
In their earlier stages these towns are fre 
quently built entirely of canvas, and are sub 
ject to grotesque calamities. When the terri 
tory purchased from the Sioux, in the Da- 
kotas, a couple of years ago, was thrown open 
to settlement there was a furious inrush of men 
on horseback and in wagons, and various am 
bitious cities sprang up overnight. The new 
settlers were all under the influence of that 
curious craze which causes every true West 
erner to put unlimited faith in the unknown 
and untried; many had left all they had in a 
far better farming country, because they were 
true to their immemorial belief that, \vherever 
they were, their luck would be better if they 
went somewhere else. They were always on 
the move, and headed for the vague beyond. 
As miners see visions of all the famous mines 
of history in each new camp, so these would-be 
city founders saw future St. Pauls and Oma- 
has in every forlorn group of tents pitched by 
some muddy stream in a desert of gumbo and 



In Cowboy Land 257 

sage-brush; and they named both the towns 
and the canvas buildings in accordance with 
their bright hopes for the morrow, rather 
than with reference to the mean facts of the 
day. One of these towns, which when twenty- 
four hours old boasted of six saloons, a "court 
house," and an "opera house," was over 
whelmed by early disaster. The third day 
of its life a whirlwind came along and took 
off the opera house and half the saloons; and 
the following evening lawless men nearly 
finished the work of the elements. The riders 
of a huge trail-outfit from Texas, to their glad 
surprise discovered the town and abandoned 
themselves to a night of roaring and lethal 
carousal. Next morning the city authorities 
were lamenting, with oaths of bitter rage, that 
"them hell-and-twenty Flying A cowpunchers 
had cut the court-house up into pants." It 
was true. The cowboys were in need of 
shaps, and with an admirable mixture of ad- 
venturousness, frugality, and ready adapta 
bility to circumstances, had made substitutes 
therefor in the shape of canvas overalls, cut 
from the roof and walls of the shaky temple 
of juctice. 

One of my valued friends in the mountains, 
and one of the best hunters with whom I ever 



258 Hunting the Grisly 

traveled, was a man who had a peculiarly 
light-hearted way of looking at conventional 
social obligations. Though in some ways a 
true backwoods Donatello, he was a man of 
much shrewdness and of great courage and 
resolution. Moreover, he possessed what 
only a few men do possess, the capacity to 
tell the truth. He saw facts as they were, 
and could tell them as they were, and he never 
told an untruth unless for very weighty rea 
sons. He was pre-eminently a philosopher, 
of a happy, sceptical turn of mind. He had 
no prejudices. He never looked down, as so 
many hard characters do, upon a person pos 
sessing a different code of ethics. His atti 
tude was one of broad, genial tolerance. He 
saw nothing out of the way in the fact that 
he had himself been a road-agent, a profes 
sional gambler, and a desperado at different 
stages of his career. On the other hand, he 
did not in the least hold it against any one 
that he had always acted within the law. At 
the time that I knew him he had become a 
man of some substance, and naturally a stanch 
upholder of the existing order of things. But 
while he never boasted of his past deeds, he 
never apologized for them, and evidently 
would have been quite as incapable of under- 



In Cowboy Land 259 

standing that they needed an apology as he 
would have been incapable of being guilty 
of mere vulgar boastfulness. He did not 
often allude to his past career at all. When 
he did, he recited its incidents perfectly nat 
urally and simply, as events, without any ref 
erence to or regard for their ethical signifi 
cance. It was this quality which made him 
at times a specially pleasant companion, and 
always an agreeable narrator. The point of 
his story, or what seemed to him the point, 
was rarely that which struck me. It was the 
incidental sidelights the story threw upon his 
own nature and the somewhat lurid surround 
ings amid which he had moved. 

On one occasion when we were out to 
gether we killed a bear, and after skinning 
it, took a bath in a lake. I noticed he had 
a scar on the side of his foot and asked him 
how he got it, to which he responded, with 
indifference: 

"Oh, that? Why, a man shootin at me to 
make me dance, that was all." 

I expressed some curiosity in the matter, 
and he went on: 

"Well, the way of it was this : It was when 
I was keeping a saloon in New Mexico, and 
there was a man there by the name of Fowler, 



260 Hunting the Grisly 

and there was a reward on him of three thou 
sand dollars 

"Put on him by the State?" 

"No, put on by his wife," said my friend; 
"and there was this " 

"Hold on," I interrupted; "put on by his 
wife did you say?" 

"Yes, by his wife. Him and her had been 
keepin a faro bank, you see, and they quar 
reled about it, so she just put a reward on 
him, and so " 

"Excuse me," I said, "but do you mean to 
say that this reward was put on publicly?" to 
which my friend answered, with an air of gen 
tlemanly boredom at being interrupted to 
gratify my thirst for irrelevant detail : 

"Oh, no, not publicly. She just mentioned 
it to six or eight intimate personal friends." 

"Go on," I responded, somewhat overcome 
by this instance of the primitive simplicity 
with which New Mexican matrimonial dis 
putes were managed, and he continued: 

"Well, two men come ridin in to see me to 
borrow my guns. My guns was Colt s self- 
cockers. It was a new thing then, and they 
was the only ones in town. These come to 
me, and Simpson, says they, Sve want to bor 
row your guns; we are goin to kill Fowler. 



In Cowboy Land 261 

" Hold on for a moment/ said I, ( I am 
willin to lend you them guns, but I ain t go- 
in to know what you V goin to do \vith them, 
no sir; but of course you can have the guns. 
Here my friend s face lightened pleasantly, 
and he continued: 

"Well, you may easily believe I felt sur 
prised next day when Fowler come ridin in, 
and, says he, Simpson, here s your guns! 
He had shot them two men! Well, Fowler/ 
says I, if I had known them men was after 
you, I d never have let them have them guns 
nohow, says I. That wasn t true, for I did 
know it, but there was no cause to tell him 
that." I murmured my approval of such 
prudence, and Simpson continued, his eyes 
gradually brightening with the light of agree 
able reminiscence: 

"Well, they up and they took Fowler before 
the justice of the peace. The justice of the 
peace was a Turk." 

"Now, Simpson, what do you mean by 
that?" I interrupted. 

"Well, he come from Turkey," said Simp 
son, and I again sank back, wondering briefly 
what particular variety of Mediterranean out 
cast had drifted down to Mexico to be made 
a justice of the peace. Simpson laughed and 



262 Hunting the Grisly 

continued: "That Fowler was a funny fel 
low. The Turk, he- committed Fowler, and 
Fowler, he riz up and knocked him down 
and tromped all over him and made him let 
him go!" 

"That was an appeal to a higher law," I 
observed. Simpson assented cheerily, and 
continued: 

"Well, that Turk, he got nervous for fear 
Fowler he was goin to kill him, and so he 
comes to me and offers me twenty-five dollars 
a day to protect him from Fowler; and I went 
to Fowler, and Fowler, says I, that Turk s 
offered me twenty-five dollars a day to protect 
him from you. Now, I ain t goin to get shot 
for no twenty-five dollars a day, and if you 
are goin to kill the Turk, just say so and go 
and do it; but if you ain t goin to kill the 
Turk, there s no reason why I shouldn t earn 
that twenty-five dollars a day! and Fowler, 
says he, I ain t goin to touch the Turk; you 
just go right ahead and protect him. 

So Simpson "protected" the Turk from the 
imaginary danger of Fowler, for about a 
week, at twenty-five dollars a day. Then 
one evening he happened to go out and met 
Fowler, "and," said he, "the moment I saw 
him I know he felt mean, for he begun to 



In Cowboy Land 263 

shoot at my feet," which certainly did seem 
to offer presumptive evidence of meanness. 
Simpson continued: 

"I didn t have no gun, so I just had to 
stand there and take it until something dis 
tracted his attention, and I went off home to 
get my gun and kill him, but I wanted to do 
it perfectly lawful ; so I went up to the mayor 
(he was playin poker with one of the judges) , 
and says I to him, Mr. Mayor/ says I, I 
am goin to shoot Fowler. And the mayor he 
riz out of his chair and he took me by the 
hand, and says he, Mr. Simpson, if you do I 
will stand by you; and the judge, he says, 
Til go on your bond. 

Fortified by this cordial approval of the ex 
ecutive and judicial branches of the govern 
ment, Mr. Simpson started on his quest. 
Meanwhile, however, Fowler had cut up an 
other prominent citizen, and they already had 
him in jail. The friends of law and order 
feeling some little distrust as to the perma 
nency of their own zeal for righteousness, 
thought it best to settle the matter before there 
was time for cooling, and accordingly, headed 
by Simpson, the mayor, the judge, the Turk, 
and other prominent citizens of the town, 
they broke into the jail and hanged Fowler. 



264 Hunting the Grisly 

The point in the hanging which especially 
tickled my friend s fancy as he lingered over 
the reminiscence, was one that was rather too 
ghastly to appeal to our own sense of humor. 
In the Turk s mind there still rankled the 
memory of Fowler s very unprofessional con 
duct while figuring before him as a criminal. 
Said Simpson, with a merry twinkle of the 
eye: "Do you know that Turk, -he was a right 
funny fellow too after all. Just as the boys 
were going to string up Fowler, says he, Boys, 
stop; one moment, gentlemen, Mr. Fowler, 
good-by, and he blew a kiss to him!" 

In the cow-country, and elsewhere on the 
wild borderland between savagery and civ 
ilization, men go quite as often by nicknames 
as by those to which they are lawfully entitled. 
Half the cowboys and hunters of my acquaint 
ance are known by names entirely unconnected 
with those they inherited or received when 
they were christened. Occasionally some 
would-be desperado or make-believe mighty 
hunter tries to adopt what he deems a title 
suitable to his prowess; but such an effort is 
never attempted in really wild places, where 
it would be greeted with huge derision; for 
all of these names that are genuine are be 
stowed by outsiders, with small regard to the 



In Cowboy Land 265 

wishes of the person named. Ordinarily the 
name refers to some easily recognizable acci 
dent of origin, occupation, or aspect; as wit 
ness the innumerable Dutcheys, Frencheys, 
Kentucks, Texas Jacks, Bronco Bills, Bear 
Joes, Buckskins, Red Jims, and the like. 
Sometimes it is apparently meaningless; one 
cf my cow-puncher friends is always called 
"Sliver" or "Splinter" why, I have no idea. 
At other times some particular incident may 
give rise to the title: a clean-looking cowboy 
formerly in my employ was always known as 
"Muddy Bill," because he had once been 
bucked off his horse into a mud hole. 

The grewsome genesis of one such name is 
given in the following letter which I have 
just received from an old hunting-friend in the 
Rockies, who took a kindly interest in a fron 
tier cabin which the Boone and Crockett Club 
was putting up at the Chicago World s Fair. 

"Feb 1 6th 1893 ; Der Sir : I see in the newspapers 
that your club the Daniel Boon and Davey Crockit 
you Intend to erect a fruntier Cabin at the world s 
Far at Chicago to represent the erley Pianears of 
our country I would like to see you maik a success 
I have all my life been a fruntiersman and feel in 
terested in your undertaking and I hoap you wile 

VOL. III. 



266 Hunting the Grisly 

get a good assortment of relicks I want to maik 
one suggestion to you that is in regard to geting 
a good man and a genuine Mauntanner to take 
charg of your haus at Chicago I want to recommend 
a man for you to get it is Liver-eating Johnson that 
is the naim he is generally called he is an olde 
mauntneer and large and fine looking and one of 
the Best Story Tellers in the country arid Very 
Polight genteel to every one he meets I wil tel you 
how he got that naim Liver-eating in a hard Fight 
with the Black Feet Indians thay Faught all day 
Johnson and a few Whites Faught a large Body 
of Indians all day after the fight Johnson cam in 
contact with a wounded Indian and Johnson was 
aut of ammunition and thay faught it out with thar 
Knives and Johnson got away with the Indian and 
in the fight cut the livver out of the Indian and 
said to the Boys did thay want any Liver to eat 
that is the way he got the naim of Liver-eating 
Johnson 

"Yours truly" etc., etc. 

Frontiersmen are often as original in their 
theories of life as in their names; and the 
originality may take the form of wild savag 
ery, of mere uncouthness, or of an odd combi 
nation of genuine humor with simple accept 
ance of facts as they are. On one occasion 
I expressed some surprise at learning that a 
certain Mrs. P. had suddenly married, though 



In Cowboy Land 267 

her husband was alive and in jail in a neigh 
boring town; and received for answer: "Well, 
you see, old man Pete he skipped the country, 
and left his widow behind him, and so Bob 
Evans he up and married her!" which was 
evidently felt to be a proceeding requiring 
no explanation whatever. 

In the cow-country there is nothing more 
refreshing than the light-hearted belief enter 
tained by the average man to the effect that 
any animal which by main force has been sad 
dled and ridden, or harnessed and driven a 
couple of times, is a "broke horse." My pres 
ent foreman is firmly wedded to this idea, as 
well as to its complement, the belief that any 
animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with 
wheels, can be driven across any country. 
One summer on reaching the ranch I was en 
tertained with the usual accounts of the ad 
ventures and misadventures which had befal 
len my own men and my neighbors since I 
had been out last. In the course of the con 
versation my foreman remarked: "We had 
a great time out here about six weeks ago. 
There was a professor from Ann Arbor came 
out w r ith his wife to see the Bad Lands, and 
they aske d if we could rig them up a team, 
and we said we guessed we could, and Foley s 



268 Hunting the Grisly 

boy and I did ; but it ran away with him and 
broke his leg! He was here for a month. I 
guess he didn t mind it though." Of this I 
was less certain, forlorn little Medora being 
a "busted" cow-town, concerning which I once 
heard another of my men remark, in reply to 
an inquisitive commercial traveler: "How 
many people lives here? Eleven counting 
the chickens when they re all in town!" 

My foreman continued: "By George, there 
was something that professor said afterward 
that made me feel hot. I sent word up to him 
by Foley s boy that seein as how it had come 
out we would n t charge him nothin for the 
rig; and that professor he answered that he 
was glad we were showing him some sign of 
consideration, for he d begun to believe he d 
fallen into a den of sharks, and that we gave 
him a runaway team a purpose. That made 
me hot, calling that a runaway team. Why, 
there was one of them horses never could have 
run away before; it had n t never been druv 
but twice! and the other horse maybe had run 
away a few times, but there was lots of times 
he had n t run away. I esteemed that team 
full as liable not to run away as it was to run 
away," concluded my foreman, evidently 
deeming this as good a warranty of gentleness 



In Cowboy Land 269 

in a horse as the most exacting could possibly 
require. 

The definition of good behavior on the 
frontier is even more elastic for a saddle- 
horse than for a team. Last spring one of 
the Three-Seven riders, a magnificent horse 
man, was killed on the round-up near Belfield, 
his horse bucking and falling on him. "It 
was accounted a plumb gentle horse too," said 
my informant, "only it sometimes sulked and 
acted a little mean when it was cinched up 
behind." The unfortunate rider did not know 
of this failing of the "plumb gentle horse," 
and as soon as he was in the saddle it threw 
itself over sideways with a great bound, and 
he fell on his head, and never spoke again. 

Such accidents are too common in the wild 
country to attract very much attention; the 
men accept them with grim quiet, as inevita 
ble in such lives as theirs lives that are harsh 
and narrow in their toil and their pleasure 
alike, and that are ever-bounded by an iron 
horizon of hazard and hardship. During the 
last year and a half three other men from the 
ranches in my immediate neighborhood have 
met their deaths in the course of their work. 
One, a trail boss of the O X, was drowned 
while swimming his herd across a swollen 



270 Hunting the Grisly 

river. Another, one of the fancy ropers of the 
W Bar, was killed while roping cattle in a 
corral; his saddle turned, the rope twisted 
round him, he was pulled off, and was 
trampled to death by his own horse. 

The fourth man, a cowpuncher named 
Hamilton, lost his life during the last w r eek 
of October, 1891, in the first heavy snow 
storm of the season. Yet he was a skilled 
plainsman, on ground he knew well, and just 
before straying himself, he successfully in 
structed two men who did not know the coun 
try how to get to camp. They were all three 
with the round-up, and were making a circle 
through the Bad Lands; the wagons had 
camped on the eastern edge of these Bad 
Lands, where they merged into the prairie, at 
the head of an old disused road, which led 
about due east from the Little Missouri. It 
was a gray, lowering day, and as darkness 
came on Hamilton s horse played out, and he 
told his two companions not to wait, as it had 
begun to snow, but to keep on toward the 
north, skirting some particularly rough buttes, 
and as soon as they struck the road to turn 
to the right and follow it out to the prairie, 
where they would find camp; he particularly 
warned them to keep a sharp lookout, so as 



In Cowboy Land 271 

not to pass over the dim trail unawares in the 
dusk and the storm. They followed his ad 
vice, and reached camp safely; and after they 
had left him nobody ever again saw him alive. 
Evidently he himself, plodding northward, 
passed over the road without seeing it in the 
gathering gloom; probably he struck it at 
some point where the ground was bad, and 
the dim trail in consequence disappeared en 
tirely, as is the way with these prairie roads 
making them landmarks to be used with 
caution. He must then have walked on and 
on, over rugged hills and across deep ravines, 
until his horse came to a standstill; he took 
off its saddle and picketed it to a dwarfed ash. 
Its frozen carcass was found with the saddle 
near by, two months later. He now evidently 
recognized some landmark, and realized that 
he had passed the road, and was far to the 
north of the round-up wagons; but he was a 
resolute, self-confident man, and he deter 
mined to strike out for a line camp, which 
he knew lay about due east of him, two or 
three miles out on the prairie, on one of the 
head branches of Knife River. Night must 
have fallen by this time, and he missed the 
camp, probably passing it within less than a 
mile; but he did pass it, and with it all hopes 



272 Hunting the Grisly 

of life, and walke d wearily on to his doom, 
through the thick darkness and the driving 
snow. At last his strength failed, and he lay 
down in the tall grass of a little hollow. Five 
months later, in the early spring, the riders 
from the line camp found his body, resting 
face downward, with the forehead on the 
folded arms. 

Accidents of less "degree are common. Men 
break their collar-bones, arms, or legs by fall 
ing when riding at speed over dangerous 
ground, when cutting cattle or trying to con 
trol a stampeded herd, or by being thrown 
or rolled on by bucking or rearing horses; 
or their horses, and on rare occasions even 
they themselves, are gored by fighting steers. 
Death by storm or in flood, death in striving 
to master a wild and vicious horse, or in hand 
ling maddened cattle, and too often death in 
brutal conflict with one of his own fellows 
any one of these is the not unnatural end 
of the life of the dweller on the plains or in 
the mountains. 

But a few years ago other risks had to be 
run from savage beasts, and from the Indians. 
Since I have been ranching on the Little 
Missouri, two men have been killed by bears 
in the neighborhood of my range; and in the 



In Cowboy Land 273 

early years of my residence there, several men 
living or traveling in the country were slain 
by small war-parties of young braves. All 
the old-time trappers and hunters could tell 
stirring tales of their encounters with Indians. 

My friend, Tazewell Woody, was among 
the chief actors in one of the most noteworthy 
adventures of this kind. He was a very quiet 
man, and it was exceedingly difficult to get 
him to talk over any of his past experiences; 
but one day, when he was in high good-humor 
with me for having made three consecutive 
straight shots at elk, he became quite com 
municative, and I was able to get him to tell 
me one story which I had long wished to hear 
from his lips, having already heard of it 
through one of the other survivors of the in 
cident. When he found that I already knew 
a good deal old Woody told me the rest. 

It was in the spring of 1875, and Woody 
and two friends were trapping on the Yellow 
stone. The Sioux were very bad at the time 
and had killed many prospectors, hunters, 
cowboys, and settlers; the whites retaliated 
whenever they got a chance, but, as always 
in Indian warfare, the sly, lurking, blood 
thirsty savages inflicted much more loss than 
they suffered. 



274 Hunting the Grisly 

The three men, having a dozen horses with 
them, were camped by the river-side in a tri 
angular patch of brush, shaped a good deal 
like a common flatiron. On reaching camp 
they started to put out their traps; and when 
he came back in the evening Woody informed 
his companions that he had seen a great deal 
of Indian sign, and that he believed there 
were Sioux in the neighborhood. His com 
panions both laughed at him, assuring him 
that they were not Sioux at all but friendly 
Crows, and that they would be in camp next 
morning; "and sure enough," said Woody, 
meditatively, "they were in camp next morn 
ing." By dawn one of the men went down 
the river to look at some of the traps, while 
Woody started out to where the horses were, 
the third man remaining in camp to get break 
fast. Suddenly two shots were heard down 
the river, and in another moment a mounted 
Indian swept toward the horses. Woody 
fired, but missed him, and he drove off five 
while Woody, running forward, succeeded in 
herding the other seven into camp. Hardly 
had this been accomplished before the man 
who had gone down the river appeared, out 
of breath with his desperate run, having been 
surprised by several Indians, and just sue- 



In Cowboy Land 275 

ceeding in making his escape by dodging from 
bush to bush, threatening his pursuers with 
his rifle. 

These proved to be but the forerunners of 
a great war party, for when the sun rose the 
hills around seemed black with Sioux. Had 
they chosen to dash right in on the camp, 
running the risk of losing several of their men 
in the charge, they could of course have eaten 
up the three hunters in a minute; but such a 
charge is rarely practiced by Indians, who, 
although they are admirable in defensive war 
fare, and even in certain kinds of offensive 
movements, and although from their skill in 
hiding they usually inflict much more loss 
than they suffer when matched against white 
troops, are yet very reluctant to make any 
movement where the advantage gained must 
be offset by considerable loss of life. The 
three men thought they were surely doomed, 
but being veteran frontiersmen and long in 
ured to every kind of hardship and danger, 
they set to work with cool resolution to make 
as effective a defence as possible, to beat off 
their antagonists if they might, and if this 
proved impracticable, to sell their lives as 
dearly as they could. Having tethered the 
horses in a slight hollow, the only one which 



276 Hunting the Grisly 

offered any protection, each man crept out 
to a point of the triangular brush patch and 
lay down to await events. 

In a very short while the Indians began 
closing in on them, taking every advantage of 
cover, and then, both from their side of the 
river and from the opposite bank, opened a 
perfect fusillade, wasting their cartridges with 
a recklessness which Indians are apt to show 
when excited. The hunters could hear the 
hoarse commands of the chiefs, the war- 
whoops and the taunts in broken English 
which some of the warriors hurled at them. 
Very soon all of their horses were killed, and 
the brush was fairly riddled by the incessant 
volleys; but the three men themselves, lying 
flat on the ground and well concealed, were 
not harmed. The more daring young war 
riors then began to creep toward the hunters, 
going stealthily from one piece of cover to 
the next; and now the whites in turn opened 
fire. They did not shoot recklessly, as did 
their foes, but coolly and quietly, endeavor 
ing to make each shot tell. Said Woody: "I 
only fired seven times all day; I reckoned on 
getting meat every time I pulled trigger." 
They had an immense advantage over their 
enemies, in that whereas they lay still and 



In Cowboy Land 277 

entirely concealed, the Indians of course had 
to move from cover to cover in order to ap 
proach, and so had at times to expose them 
selves. When the whites fired at all they fired 
at a man, whether moving or motionless, whom 
they could clearly see, while the Indians could 
only shoot at the smoke, which imperfectly 
marked the position of their unseen foes. In 
consequence the assailants speedily found that 
it was a task of hopeless danger to try in such 
a manner to close in on three plains veterans, 
men of iron nerve and skilled in the use of 
the rifle. Yet some of the more daring crept 
up very close to the patch of brush, and one 
actually got inside of it, and was killed among 
the bedding that lay by the smoldering camp- 
fire. The wounded and such of the dead as 
did not lie in too exposed positions were 
promptly taken away by their comrades; but 
seven bodies fell into the hands of the three 
hunters. I asked Woody how many he him 
self had killed. He said he could only be sure 
of two that he got; one he shot in the head as 
he peeped over a bush, and the other he shot 
through the smoke as he attempted to rush in. 
"My, how that Indian did yell," said Woody 
retrospectively, "he was no great of a stoic." 
After two or three hours of this deadly skir- 



278 Hunting the Grisly 

mishing, which resulted in nothing more seri 
ous to the whites than in two of them being 
slightly wounded, the Sioux became disheart 
ened by the loss they were suffering and with 
drew, confining themselves thereafter to a 
long range and harmless fusillade. When it 
was dark the three men crept out to the river 
bed, and taking advantage of the pitchy night 
broke through the circle of their foes; they 
managed to reach the settlements without 
further molestation, having lost everything 
except their rifles. 

For many years one of the most important 
of the wilderness dwellers was the West Point 
officer, and no man has played a greater part 
than he in the wild warfare which opened 
the regions beyond the Mississippi to white 
settlement. Since 1879, there has been but 
little regular Indian fighting in the North, 
though there have been one or two very tedi 
ous and w r earisome campaigns waged against 
the Apaches in the South. Even in the North, 
however, there have been occasional uprisings 
which had to be quelled by the regular troops. 

After my elk hunt in September, 1891, I 
came out through the Yellowstone Park, as 
I have elsewhere related, riding in company 
with a surveyor of the Burlington and Quincy 



In Cowboy Land 279 

railroad, who was just coming in from his 
summer s work. It was the first of October. 
There had been a heavy snow-storm and the 
snow was still falling. Riding a stout pony 
each, and leading another packed with our 
bedding, etc., we broke our way from the 
upper to the middle geyser basin. Here w r e 
found a troop of the ist Cavalry camped, 
under the command of old friends of mine, 
Captain Frank Edwards and Lieutenant (now 
Captain) John Pitcher. They gave us hay 
for our horses and insisted upon our stopping 
to lunch, with the ready hospitality always 
shown by army officers. After lunch we be 
gan exchanging stories. My traveling com 
panion, the surveyor, had that spring per 
formed a feat of note, going through one of 
the canyons of the Big Horn for the first time. 
He went with an old mining inspector, the 
two of them dragging a cottonwood sledge 
over the ice. The walls of the canyon are 
so sheer and the water is so rough that it 
can be descended only when the stream is 
frozen. However, after six days labor and 
hardship the descent was accomplished; and 
the surveyor, in concluding, described his 
experience in going through the Crow Res 
ervation. 



a8o Hunting the Grisly 

This turned the conversation upon Indians, 
and it appeared that both of our hosts had 
been actors in Indian scrapes which had 
attracted my attention at the time they oc 
curred, as they took place among tribes that I 
knew and in a country which I had sometime 
visited, either when hunting or when pur 
chasing horses for the ranch. The first, 
which occurred to Captain Edwards, hap 
pened late in 1886, at the time when the Crow 
Medicine Chief, Sword-Bearer, announced 
himself as the Messiah of the Indian race, 
during one of the usual epidemics of ghost 
dancing. Sword-Bearer derived his name 
from always wearing a medicine sword that 
is, a sabre painted red. He claimed to pos 
sess magic power, and, thanks to the perform 
ance of many dexterous feats of juggling, and 
the lucky outcome of certain prophecies, he 
deeply stirred the Indians, arousing the young 
warriors in particular to the highest pitch of 
excitement. They became sullen, began to 
paint, and armed themselves; and the agent 
and the settlers nearby grew so apprehensive 
that the troops were ordered to go to the 
reservation. A body of cavalry, including 
Captain Edwards troop, was accordingly 
marched thither, and found the Crow war- 



In Cowboy Land 281 

riors, mounted on their war ponies and dressed 
in their striking battle-garb, waiting upon 
a hill. 

The position of troops at the beginning of 
such an affair is always peculiarly difficult. 
The settlers round about are sure to clamor 
bitterly against them, no matter what they 
do, on the ground that they are not thorough 
enough and are showing favor to the savages, 
while on the other hand, even if they fight 
purely in self-defence, a large number of 
worthy but weak-minded sentimentalists in 
the East are sure to shriek about their having 
brutally attacke d the Indians. The war 
authorities always insist that they must not 
fire the first shot under any circumstances, 
and such were the orders at this time. The 
Crows on the hilltop showed a sullen and 
threatening front, and the troops advanced 
slowly toward them and then halted for a 
parley. 

Meanwhile a mass of black thunder 
clouds gathering on the horizon threatened 
one of those cloudbursts of extreme severity 
and suddenness so characteristic of the plains 
country. While still trying to make arrange 
ments for a parley, a horseman started out 
of the Crow ranks and galloped headlong 



282 Hunting the Grisly 

down toward the troops. It was the medi 
cine chief, Sword-Bearer. He was painted 
and in his battle-dress, wearing his war-bonnet 
of floating, trailing eagle feathers, \vhile the 
plumes of the same bird were braided in the 
mane and tail of his fiery little horse. On he 
came at a gallop almost up to the troops and 
then began to circle around them, calling and 
singing and throwing his crimson sword into 
the air, catching it by the hilt as it fell. 
Twice he rode completely around the soldiers, 
who stood in uncertainty, not knowing what 
to make of his performance, and expressly 
forbidden to shoot at him. Then paying no 
further heed to them he rode back toward 
the Crows. It appears that he had told them 
that he would ride twice around the hostile 
force, and by his incantations would call down 
rain from heaven, which would make the 
hearts of the white men like water, so that 
they should go back to their homes. Sure 
enough, while the arrangements for the par 
ley were still going forward, down came the 
cloudburst, drenching the command and mak 
ing the ground on the hills in front nearly 
impassable; and before it had dried a courier 
arrived with orders to the troops to go back 
to camp. 



In Cowboy Land 283 

This fulfilment of Sword-Bearer s prophecy 
of course raised his reputation to the zenith 
and the young men of the tribe prepared for 
war, while the older chiefs, who more fully 
realized the power of the whites, still hung 
back. When the troops next appeared they 
came upon the entire Crow force, the women 
and children with their tepees being off to one 
side beyond a little stream while almost all 
the warriors of the tribe were gathered in 
front. 

Sword-Bearer then started to repeat his 
former ride, to the intense irritation of the 
soldiers. Luckily, however, this time some 
of his young men could not be restrained. 
They too began to ride near the troops, and 
one of them was unable to refrain from firing 
on Captain Edwards troop, which was in the 
van. This gave the soldiers their chance. 
They instantly responded with a volley, and 
Captain Edwards troop charged. The fight 
lasted but a minute or two, for Sword-Bearer 
was struck by a bullet and fell, and as he had 
boasted himself invulnerable, and promised 
that his warrior should be invulnerable also 
if they would follow him, the hearts of the 
latter became as water and they broke in 
every direction. One of the amusing, though 



284 Hunting the Grisly 

irritating, incidents of the affair was to see 
the plumed and painted warriors race head 
long for the camp, plunge into the stream, 
wash off their war paint, and remove their 
feathers; in another moment they would be 
stolidly sitting on the ground, with their 
blankets over their shoulders, rising to greet 
the pursuing cavalry with unmoved compos 
ure and calm assurances that they had always 
been friendly and had much disapproved the 
conduct of the young bucks who had just 
been scattered on the field outside. It was 
much to the credit of the discipline of the 
army that no bloodshed followed the fight 
proper. The loss to the whites was small. 

The other incident, related by Lieutenant 
Pitcher, took place, in 1890, near Tongue 
River, in northern Wyoming. The command 
with which he was serving was camped near 
the Cheyenne Reservation. One day two 
young Cheyenne bucks, met one of the gov 
ernment herders, and promptly killed him 
in a sudden fit, half of ungovernable blood 
lust, half of mere ferocious lightheartedness. 
They then dragged his body into the brush 
and left it. The disappearance of the herder 
of course attracted attention, and a search 
was organized by the cavalry. At first the 



In Cowboy Land 285 

Indians stoutly denied all knowledge of the 
missing man ; but when it became evident that 
the search party would shortly find him, two 
or three of the chiefs joined them, and piloted 
them to where the body lay; and acknowl 
edged that he had been murdered by two 
of their band, though at first they refused to 
give their names. The commander of the 
post demanded that the murderers be given 
up. 

The chiefs said that they were very sorry, 
that this could not be done, but that they were 
willing to pay over any reasonable number of 
ponies to make amends for the death. This 
offer was of course promptly refused, and the 
commander notified them that if they did not 
surrender the murderers by a certain time he 
would hold the whole tribe responsible and 
would promptly move out and attack them. 
Upon this the chiefs, after holding full coun 
sel with the tribe, told the commander that 
they had no power to surrender the murder 
ers, but that the latter had said that sooner 
than see their tribe involved in a hopeless 
struggle they would of their own accord come 
in and meet the troops anywhere the latter 
chose to appoint, and die fighting. To this 
the commander responded: "All right; let 



286 Hunting the Grisly 

them come into the agency in half an hour." 
The chiefs acquiesced, and withdrew. 

Immediately the Indians sent mounted 
messengers at speed from camp to camp, sum 
moning all their people to witness the act of 
fierce self-doom; and soon the entire tribe of 
Cheyennes, many of them having their faces 
blackened in token of mourning, moved down 
and took up a position on the hillside close 
to the agency. At the appointed hour both 
young men appeared in their handsome war 
dress, galloped to the top of the hill near 
the encampment, and deliberately opened fire 
on the troops. The latter merely fired a few 
shots to keep the young desperadoes off, while 
Lieutenant Pitcher and a score of cavalrymen 
left camp to make a circle and drive them in; 
they did not wish to hurt them, but to capture 
and give them over to the Indians, so that the 
latter might be forced themselves to inflict 
the punishment. However, they were unable 
to accomplish their purpose; one of the young 
braves went straight at them, firing his rifle 
and wounding the horse of one of the cavalry 
men, so that, simply in self-defence, the lat 
ter had to fire a volley, which laid low the 
assailant; the other, his horse having been 
shot, was killed in the brush, fighting to the 



In Cowboy Land 287 

last. All the while, from the moment the two 
doomed braves appeared until they fell, the 
Cheyennes on the hillside had been steadily 
singing the death chant. When the young 
men had both died, and had thus averted the 
fate which their misdeeds would else have 
brought upon the tribe, the warriors took their 
bodies and bore them away for burial honors, 
the soldiers looking on in silence. Where 
the slain men were buried the whites never 
knew; but all that night they listened to the 
dismal wailing of the dirges with which the 
tribesmen celebrated their gloomy funeral 
rites. 

Frontiersman are not, as a rule, apt to be 
very superstitious. They lead lives too hard 
and practical, and have too little imagi 
nation in things spiritual and supernatural. 
I have heard but few ghost stories while 
living on the frontier, and these few were 
of a perfectly commonplace and conventional 
type. 

But I once listened to a goblin story which 
rather impressed me. It was told by a grisled, 
weatherbeaten old mountain hunter, named 
Bauman, who was born and had passed all his 
life on the frontier. He must have believed 
what he said, for he could hardly repress a 



288 Hunting the Grisly 

shudder at certain points of the tale; but he 
was of German ancestry, and in childhood 
had doubtless been saturated with all kinds 
of ghost and goblin lore, so that many fear 
some superstitions were latent in his mind; 
besides, he knew well the stories told by the 
Indian medicine men in their winter carnps, 
of the snow-walkers, and the spectres, and 
the formless evil beings that haunt the forest 
depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wan 
derer who after nightfall passes through the 
regions where they lurk; and it may be that 
when overcome by the horror of the fate that 
befell his friend, and when oppressed by the 
awful dread of the unknown, he grew to at 
tribute, both at the time and still more in 
remembrance, weird and elfin traits to what 
was merely some abnormally wicked and cun 
ning wild beast; but whether this was so or 
not, no man can say. 

When the event occurred Bauman was still 
a young man, and was trapping with a part 
ner among the mountains dividing the forks 
of the Salmon from the head of Wisdom 
River. Not having had much luck, he and 
his partner determined to go up into a par 
ticularly wild and lonely pass through which 
ran a small stream said to contain many 



In Cowboy Land 289 

beaver. The pass had an evil reputation be 
cause the year before a solitary hunter who 
had wandered into it was there slain, seem 
ingly by a wild beast, the half-eaten remains 
being afterward found by some mining pro 
spectors who had passed his camp only the 
night before. 

The memory of this event, however, 
weighed very lightly with the two trap 
pers, who were as adventurous and hardy as 
others of their kind. They took their two 
lean mountain ponies to the foot of the pass, 
where they left them in an open beaver 
meadow, the rocky timber-clad ground being 
from thence onward impracticable for horses. 
They then struck out on foot through the vast, 
gloomy forest, and in about four hours reached 
a little open glade where they concluded to 
camp, as signs of game were plenty. 

There was still an hour or two of daylight 
left, and after building a brush lean-to and 
throwing down and opening their packs, they 
started up stream. The country was very 
dense and hard to travel through, as there 
was much down timber, although here and 
there the sombre woodland was broken by 
small glades of mountain grass. 

At dusk they again reached camp. The 

VOL. III. 13 



29 Hunting the Grisly 

glade in which it was pitched was not many 
yards wide, the tall, close-set pines and firs 
rising round it like a wall. On one side was 
a little stream, beyond which rose the steep 
mountain-slopes, covered with the unbroken 
growth of the evergreen forest. 

They were surprised to find that during their 
short absence something, apparently a bear, 
had visited camp, and had rummaged about 
among their things, scattering the contents of 
their packs, and in sheer wantonness destroy 
ing their lean-to. The footprints of the beast 
were quite plain, but at first they paid no par 
ticular heed to them, busying themselves with 
rebuilding the lean-to, laying out their beds 
and stores, and lighting the fire. 

While Bauman was making ready supper, 
it being already dark, his companion be 
gan to examine the tracks more closely, and 
soon took a brand from the fire to follow 
them up, where the intruder had walked along 
a game trail after leaving the camp. When 
the brand flickered out, he returned and took 
another, repeating his inspection of the foot 
prints very closely. Coming back to the fire, 
he stood by it a minute or two, peering out 
into the darkness, and suddenly remarked: 
"Bauman, that bear has been walking on two 



In Cowboy Land 291 

legs." Bauman laughed at this, but his part 
ner insisted that he was right, and upon again 
examining the tracks with a torch, they cer 
tainly did seem to be made by but two paws, 
or feet. However, it was too dark to make 
sure. After discussing whether the footprints 
could possibly be those of a human being, 
and coming to the conclusion that they could 
not be, the two men rolled up in their blank 
ets, and went to sleep under the lean-to. 

At midnight Bauman was awakened by some 
noise, and sat up in his blankets. As he did 
so his nostrils were struck by a strong, wild- 
beast odor, and he caught the loom of a 
great body in the darkness at the mouth of 
the lean-to. 

Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague, 
threatening shadow, but must have missed, 
for immediately afterward he heard the 
smashing of the underwood as the thing, 
whatever it was, rushed off into the impene 
trable blackness of the forest and the night. 

After this the two men slept but little, sit 
ting up by the rekindled fire, but they heard 
nothing more. In the morning they started 
out to look at the few traps they had set the 
previous evening and to put out new ones. 
By an unspoken agreement they kept to- 



Hunting the Grisly 

gether all day, and returned to camp toward 
evening. 

On nearing it they saw, hardly to their as 
tonishment, that the lean-to had been again 
torn down. The visitor of the preceding day 
had returned, and in wanton malice had tossed 
about their camp kit and bedding, and de 
stroyed the shanty. The ground was marked 
up by its tracks, and on leaving the camp it 
had gone along the soft earth by the brook, 
where the footprints were as plain as if on 
snow, and, after a careful scrutiny of the trail, 
it certainly did seem as if, whatever the thing 
was, it had walked off on but two legs. 

The men, thoroughly uneasy, gathered a 
great heap of dead logs, and kept up a roar 
ing fire throughout the night, one or the other 
sitting on guard most of the time. About 
midnight the thing came down through the 
forest opposite, across the brook, and stayed 
there on the hillside for nearly an hour. They 
could hear the branches crackle as it moved 
about, and several times it uttered a harsh, 
grating, long-drawn moan, a peculiarly sin 
ister sound. Yet it did not venture near the 
fire. 

In the morning the two trappers, after dis 
cussing the strange events of the last thirty- 



In Cowboy Land 293 

six hours, decided that they would shoulder 
their packs and leave the valley that after 
noon. They were the more ready to do this 
because in spite of seeing a good deal of game 
sign they had caught very little fur. How 
ever, it was necessary first to go along the 
line of their traps and gather them, and this 
they started out to do. 

All the morning they kept together, pick 
ing up trap after trap, each one empty. On 
first leaving camp they had the disagreeable 
sensation of being followed. In the dense 
spruce thickets they occasionally heard a 
branch snap after they had passed; and now 
and then there were slight rustling noises 
among the small pines to one side of them. 

At noon they were back within a couple of 
miles of camp. In the high, bright sunlight 
their fears seemed absurd to the two armed 
men, accustomed as they were, through long 
years of lonely wandering in the wilderness, 
to face every kind of danger from man, brute, 
or element. There were still three beaver 
traps to collect from a little pond in a wide 
ravine near by. Bauman volunteered to gath 
er these and bring them in, while his com 
panion went ahead to camp to make ready 
the packs. 



294 Hunting the Grisly 

On reaching the pond Bauman found three 
beaver in the traps, one of which had been 
pulled loose and carried into a beaver house. 
He took several hours in securing and pre 
paring the beaver, and when he started home 
ward he marked with some uneasiness how 
low the sun was getting. As he hurried to 
ward camp, under the tall trees, the silence 
and desolation of the forest weighed on him. 
His feet made no sound on the pine needles, 
and the slanting sun rays, striking through 
among the straight trunks, made a gray twi 
light in which objects at a distance glimmered 
indistinctly. There was nothing to break the 
ghostly stillness which, when there is no 
breeze, always broods over these sombre pri 
meval forests. 

At last he came to the edge of the little 
glade where the camp lay, and shouted as he 
approached it, but got no answer. The camp 
fire had gone out, though the thin blue smoke 
was still curling upward. Near it lay the 
packs, wrapped and arranged. At first Bau 
man could see nobody; nor did he receive an 
answer to his call. Stepping forward he 
again shouted, and as he did so his eye fell 
on the body of his friend, stretched beside the 
trunk of a great fallen spruce. Rushing to- 



In Cowboy Land 295 

ward it the horrified trapper found that the 
body was still warm, but that the neck was 
broken, while there were four great fang 
marks in the throat. 

The footprints of the unknown beast-crea 
ture, printed deep in the soft soil, told the 
whole story. 

The unfortunate man, having finished his 
packing, had sat down on the spruce log with 
his face to the fire, and his back to the dense 
woods, to wait for his companion. While 
thus waiting, his monstrous assailant, which 
must have been lurking nearby in the woods, 
waiting for a chance to catch one of the ad 
venturers unprepared, came silently up from 
behind, walking with long, noiseless steps, and 
seemingly still on two legs. Evidently un 
heard, it reached the man, and broke his neck 
by wrenching his head back with its forepaws, 
while it buried its teeth in his throat. It had 
not eaten the body, but apparently had romped 
and gamboled round it in uncouth, ferocious 
glee, occasionally rolling over and over it; 
and had then fled back into the soundless 
depths of the woods. 

Bauman, utterly unnerved, and believing 
that the creature with which he had to deal 
was something either half human or half 



296 Hunting the Grisly 

devil, some great goblin-beast, abandoned 
everything but his rifle and struck off at speed 
down the pass, not halting until he reached 
the beaver meadows where the hobbled ponies 
were still grazing: Mounting, he rode on 
ward through the night, until far beyond the 
reach of pursuit. 



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