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Shot by Theodore Roosevelt, September 7J, 1884. Drawn by J. C. Beard 


Hunting Tales of the West 

Hunting the Grisly 

and Other Sketches 

An Account of the Big Game of the United 

States and its Chase with Horse 

Hound, and Rifle 


Theodore Roosevelt 

** y''J 

Author of " The Winning of the West," " American Ideals " 
** Hunting Trips of a Ranchman," etc. 

1 The Wilderness Hunter " 
Part It 

The Current Literature 

Publishing Company 

New York, 1908 










Extermination of the bison My brother and cou- 
sin 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 Adven- 
ture of Clarence King The bison of the moun- 
tains At the vanishing point A hunt for moun- 
tain bison A trail discovered Skilful tracking 
A band of six Death of the bull A camp in 
the canyon 7 



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 35 



The king of American game Varieties of the grisly 
Worthlessness of old hunters' opinions Grisly 
contrasted with black bear Size Habits in old 
times Habits nowadays Hybernating Cattle 



killing Horse killing Range cow repels bear- 
Bear kills sheep and hogs Occasional raids on 
game Killing bison, elk, and moose Eats car- 
rion Old he's sometimes kill cubs Usually eats 
roots and vegetables Fondness for berries Its 
foes Den Fond of wallowing She's and cubs 
Trapping bears Hunting them with dogs- 
Ordinarily killed with rifle 46 



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 hunting 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 Various ways in 
which bears attack Examples Men maimed 
and slain Instances Mr. Whitney's experience 
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 80 



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 cougar preys on Its haunts 
Its calls Rarely turns on man Occasionally 
dangerous Instances .., 




A trip in Southern Texas A ranch on the Frio 
Roping cattle Extermination of the peccary 
Odd habits Occasionally attacks unprovoked 
We drive south to the Nueces Flower prairies 
Semi-tropical landscape Hunting on horse- 
backHalf-blood hounds Find a small band of 
peccaries Kill two How they act when at bay 
Their occasional freaks 137 



Old-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, antelope, and deer An 
original sportsman of the prairies Colonel Wil- 
liams' greyhounds Riding on the plains Cross- 
country riding Fox-hunting at Geneseo A day 
with Mr. Wadsworth's hounds The Meadow- 
brook drag hounds High jumping A meet at 
Sagamore Hill Fox-hunting and fetishism-- 
Prejudices ~f sportsmen, foreign and native 
Different styles of riding 151 



The wolf Contrasted with coyote Variations in 
color Former abundance The riddle of its ex- 
termination 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 Co- 
yotes catch jack-rabbits Wolves around camp 
A wolf shot Wolf-hunting with hounds An 
overmatch for most dogs Decimating a pack 
Coursing wolves with greyhounds A hunt in the 
foot-hills Rousing the wolves The chase 

4 IB 


The worry Death of both wolves Wolfhounds 
near Fort Benton Other packs The Sun River 
hounds Their notable feats Col. Williams' 
hounds 179 



Development of archaic types of character Cow- 
boys and hunters Rough virtues and faults- 
Incidents Hunting a horse-thief Tale of the 
ending of a desperado Light-hearted way of re- 
garding "broke horses " Hardness of the life 
Deaths from many causes Fight of Indians 
with trappers The slaying of the Medicine 
Chief Sword-Bearer Mad feat and death of twc 
Cheyenne braves 208 




WHEN 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 
western 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 
present century they had been driven beyond 
the Mississippi ; and for the next eighty years 
they formed one of the most distinctive and 
characteristic features of existence on the 
great plains. Their numbers were countless 
incredible. In vast herds of hundreds of 
thousands of individuals, they roamed from 
the Saskatchewan to the Rio Grande and 
westward to the Rocky Mountains. They 
furnished all the means of livelihood to the 
tribes of Horse Indians, and to the curious 



population of French Metis, or Half-breeds, 
on the Red River, as well as to those daunt- 
less and archtypical wanderers, the white 
hunters and trappers. Their numbers slowly 
diminished, but the decrease was very gradual 
until after the Civil War. They were not de- 
stroyed 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 transpor- 
tation to the hunters ; and at the same time 
the demand for buffalo robes and hides be- 
came 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 slaugh- 
ter 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 exterminated. In 
all probability there are not now, all told, five 
hundred head of wild buffaloes on the Ameri- 
can continent; and no herd of 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 
former not until 1883. My own chief ex- 
perience with buffaloes was obtained in the 
latter year, among small bands and scattered 
individuals, near my ranch on the Little Mis- 
souri ; 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, mv 
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 adven- 
turers. It was a party of just such young men 
as frequently drift to the frontier. All were 
short 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 
shooting ; moreover, he had served an appren- 
ticeship 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, set- 


ters 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 
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 
turkey, deer, and antelope. These they 
swapped for flour and feed at the ranches or 
squalid, straggling frontier towns. On sev- 
eral occasions 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 arrival, either at a halting- 


place, a little village, or a rival buffalo-camp 
is followed by the laconic remark, " big fight," 
or " big row " ; but once they evidently con- 
cluded 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 exclusive 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 con- 
dition, and they travelled steadily, with only 
occasional short halts, for over thirty-six 
hours, by which time they were across the 
waterless country. The journal reads : 
"January 27th. Big hunt no water, and we 
left Quinn's 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 Stinking Creek grand * hurrah.' " On 
the second occasion, the horses were weak 
and travelled slowly, so the party went forty- 


eight hours without drinking. " February 
1 9th. Pulled on twenty-one miles trail bad 
freezing night, no water, and wolves after 
our fresh meat. 20. Made nineteen miles 
over prairie ; again only mud, no water, 
freezing hard frightful thirst. 2 1 st. Thirty 
miles to Clear Fork, freshwater." These en- 
tries were hurriedly 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 experi- 
ence. 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 without water. 

The party pitched their permanent camp in 
a canyon of the Brazos known as Canyon Blan- 
co. The last few days of their journey they 
travelled beside the river through a veritable 


hunter's paradise. The drought had forced 
all the animals to come to the larger water- 
courses, and the country was literally swarm- 
ing with game. Eveiy day, and all day long, 
the wagons travelled 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 hunters, both 
red and white, followed only the buffaloes, 
until the huge, shaggy herds were destroyed, 
and the smaller beasts were in consequence 
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 sus- 
rounded the camp, wailing and howling in a 
kind of shrieking chorus throughout the hours 
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 
Indian stalked suddenly and silently out of 
tfye 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 
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 cali- 
bre Ballard rifle, and, as the gobblers 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 be- 
longed 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 went 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 

When camp was pitched the horses were 
turned loose to graze and refresh them- 
selves 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 occa- 
sions, 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 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 common. If on broken 
land, among hills and ravines, there was not 
much difficulty in approaching from the lee- 
ward ; 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 gener- 
ally the case, they were out on the open, 
rolling prairie, the stalking was far more diffi- 
cult. 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 buffaloes 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, aiming 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 confused 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 extremely laborious. 
One morning my cousin and brother had 
been left in camp as guards. They were 
sitting idly warming themselves in the first 
sunbeams, 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 drink- 
ing their fill, stood for some time with the 
water running out of their mouths, idly lashing 
their sides with their short tails, enjoying the 
bright 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 mo- 
ment's consultation 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 trailing 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 not have to halt. At last they reached 
stretches of bare ground, sun-baked and grass- 
less, 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 unravelling 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 
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 instanteous 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 what- 
ever was in their path. On the occasion in 
question, my brother and cousin were on 
their way homeward. They were just mount- 
ing one of the long, low swells, into which 
the prairie was broken, when they heard a 
low, muttering, 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 

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 sideways. Then a narrow wedge-shaped 
rift appeared in the line, and widened as it 
came closer, and the buffaloes, shrinking from 
their foes in front, strove desperately to edge 
away from the dangerous neighborhood ; the 
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 to- 
ward the horizon, save five individuals 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- 
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 escaped with only a tumble and a few 

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 
distance, with a huge bull among them, tower- 
ing 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 graz- 
ing and unconscious beasts. There were 
some cows and calves between him and the 
bull, and he had to wait some moments be- 
fore they shifted position, as the herd grazed 
onward and gave him a fair shot ; in the in- 
terval 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 direction. 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 mo- 
ment 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 be- 
fore 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 
belonging to our eight adventurers. With the 
remaining three horses and one wagon they 
set out homeward. The march was hard and 
tedious ; they lost their way and were in 
jeopardy from quicksands and cloudbursts ; 
they suffered 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 excit- 
ing 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, Gen. W. H. Walker, of Virginia, 
had an experience in the early '50*8 with buf- 
faloes 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 
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 desperate efforts he reached the breaks in 
the sheer banks just as the buffaloes reached 
them, and got into a position of safety on the 
pinnacle of a little bluff. From this point of 
vantage 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 
side of it. Watching his chance he finally 
dodged back to the tent, and all that after- 
noon 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 ap- 
parent decrease in the numbers that were pass- 
ing, and all through that night the continuous 
roar showed that the herds were still thresh- 
ing across the river. Towards 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 sup- 
posed that there would be now no bison left 
south of the river. 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 travelling 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 
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 the 
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 
ordinary plains bison, intergrading with it ; on 


the whole they are darker in color, with longer, 
thicker hair, and in consequence with the ap- 
pearance 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 varieties being 
quite indistinguishable. In fact the only 
moderate-sized herd of wild bison in existence 
to-day, the protected herd in the Yellowstone 
Park, is composed of animals intermediate in 
habits and coat between the mountain and 
plains varieties as were all the herds of the 
Bighorn, Big Hole, Upper Madison, and Up- 
per 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 
precisely the same reasons that have held 
good with the elk, which have been completely 
exterminated 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 
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 
process 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 scat- 
tered 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 north- 
ern forests are left, that they can just barely 
be reckoned among American game ; but who- 
ever is so fortunate 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. Never- 
theless 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 be- 
gun 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 im- 
possible 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 
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 towards these trails, and 
po 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 towards the lake. There had 
been a half a dozen animals in the party ; one 
a big bull, and two calves. 

We immediately turned and followed the 
;rail. It led down to the little lake, where 
the beasts had spread and grazed on the ten- 
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 1 een 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, 
but as compared to the forests of the northeast. 
The ground was covered with pine needles 
and soft moss, so that it was not difficult 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 impatience ; 
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 difficult 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 foot- 
steps. 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 where 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 travelled 
down towards the gorge at the mouth of the 
basin, the trail leading along the sides of the 
steep hill, which were dotted by open glades ; 
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 youn^ 
trees on the other side, not fifty yards away 
Peering through the safe shelter yielded b) 
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 
towered, 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 
vanished race. Few, indeed, are the men who 
now have, or evermore shall have, the chance 
of seeing the mightiest of American beasts, 
in all his wild vigor, surrounded by the tremen- 
dous desolation of his far-off mountain home, 


At last, when I had begun to grow very 
Anxious lest the others should take alarm, the 
hull 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 
momentary 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 moment they reached the top 
of a very steep incline, thickly strewn with 
boulders and dead timber. Down this they 
plunged with reckless speed ; their surefooted- 
ness was a marvel in such seemingly unwieldy 
beasts. A column of dust obscured their pas- 
sage, 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 motionless. 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 hunt- 
ers 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 foi 
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 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 




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 Alleghanies, 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 Mount- 
ains 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 monarchs of the forest still ranged 
eastward to Virginia and Pennsylvania. The 
wolf and the cougar were always too scarce 
and too shy to yield much profit to the hunt- 
er. The 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 raid- 


ing his corn and melons. Its meat is good 
and its fur often valuable ; and in its chase 
there is much excitement, 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 diminished numbers, in the more 
thinly settled portions of the country. One 
of the standing riddles of American zoology 
is the fact that the black bear, which is easier 
killed and less prolific than the wolf, should 
hold its own in the land better than the lat- 
ter, this being directly the reverse of what 
occurs in Europe, where the brown bear is 
generally exterminated before 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 
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 
provisions, and he leads a life of such lonely 
isolation as to insure his individual character- 
istics developing into peculiarities. Most of 
the wilder districts in the eastern States still 
preserve memories of some such old hunter 
who lived his long life alone, waging ceaseless 
warfare 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 
having 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 occasion- 
ally some old hunter will be found even to this 
day who uses a muzzle loader, such as Kit 
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, some- 
times 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 neighborhood ; 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 
the habit of following the black bear with 
horse and hound, many of them keeping regu- 


lar packs of bear hounds. Such a pack in* 
eludes not only pure-bred hounds, but also 
cross-bred animals, and some sharp, agile, 
hard-biting fierce 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 fighting 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 havoc with them, disembowelling 
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 canebrakes, 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. 

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. During 
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 Miss- 
issippi. 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 
men were inexperienced one being a raftsman 


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 shoul- 
ders with its fore-paws. Apparently it had 
no intention of hugging, but merely sought to 
draw him within reach of his jaws. He 
fought desperately against this, using the knife 
freely, and striving to keep its head back ; 
and the flow of blood weakened the animal, 
so that it finally fell exhausted, before being 
able dangerously 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 


fa 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-cali- 
bre 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 fore-arm 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 
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 

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 
began to turn over the stones and logs to 
hunt for insects, small reptiles, and the like. 
A moderate-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 fouud 
mice and chipmunks ; then, as soon as the 
log was overturned, he would be seen jump- 
ing about with grotesque agility, and making 
quick dabs here and there, as the little, scurry- 
ing 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 sniff the air in every direction, 
and it was after one of these halts that he 
suddenly shuffled off 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 
and hogs are their favorite prey, especially 
the latter, for bears seem to have a special 
rebsh for pork. Twice I have known a black 
be^r kill cattle. Once the victim was a bull 
wMch had got mired, and which the bear delib- 
erately 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 pas- 
ture. 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 overcome 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 over- 
match 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, 
their strides after they settled down into their 
pace being tremendous, and showing how 
thoroughly 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 latter not daring to approach in the water. 
I have been told but cannot 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- 
wards a bear came up following the tracks. 
He almost ran into the man, and was evidently 
not in a good temper, for he growled and 
blustered, and two or three times made feints 
of charging, before he finally concluded to go 

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 
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, am,, 
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 special 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 




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 " Mocca- 
sin Joe " the last in allusion to his queer, 
half-human footprints, which look as if made 
by some mishapen giant, walking in mocca- 

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 
cinnamon, 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 opin- 
ion to the contrary, most old hunters are very 
untrustworthy in dealing with points of natural 
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 
Clarke 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 
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 as- 
cribing wildly various traits to these different 
bears. One comments on the superior prowess 
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 cannot 
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, 
being 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 indifferent- 
ly lowland and mountain ; the deep woods, and 
the barren plains where the only cover is the 
stunted growth fringing the streams. These 
two types are very distinct in every way, and 
their differences are not at all dependent upon 
mere geographical considerations ; for they are 
often found in the same district. Thus I 
found them both in the Bighorn Mountains, 
each type being in extreme form, while the 
specimens I shot showed no trace of intergra- 
dation. The huge grizzled, long-clawed beast, 
and ts little glossy-coated, short-clawed, tree- 
climbing brother roamed over exactly the same 
country in those mountains ; but they were as 
distinct in habits, and mixed as little together 
as moose and caribou. 

On the other hand, when a sufficient number 
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 cannot say to fade 
mto one another. The differentiation of the 


two species seems to be as yet scarcely com- 
pleted ; there are more or less imperfect con- 
necting links, and as regards the grisly it al- 
most seems as if the specific characters were 
still unstable. In the far northwest, in the 
basin of the Columbia, the " black " bear is as 
often brown as any other color; and I have 
seen the skins of two cubs, one black and one 
brown, which were shot when following 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 re- 
luctant 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 cannot 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 northern 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 taxider- 
mist, was a good deal larger than the average 
polar bear skin ; and the animal when alive, 
if in good condition, could hardly have weighed 
less than 1,400 pounds.* Bears vary wonder- 
fully in weight, even to the extent of becom- 
ing 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 for- 
saken 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 weari- 
ness 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 
hither and thither at will, in burly self-con- 
fidence. Then he cared little for cover, un- 
less as a weather-break, or because it hap- 
pened to contain food he liked. If the humor 
seized him he would roam for days over the 
rolling or broken prairie, searching for roots, 

* 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. 


digging up gophers, or perhaps following the 
great buffalo herds either to prey on some un- 
wary straggler which he was able to catch at 
a disadvantage in! a washout, or else to feast 
on the carcasses of those which died by acci- 
dent. 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 savage, have told me that they 
often met bears under such circumstances ; 
and these bears were accustomed to sleep in 
a patch of rank sage bush, in the niche of a 
washout, or under the lee of a boulder, seek- 
ing their food abroad even in full daylight. 
The bears of the Upper Missouri basin 
which were so light in color that the early ex- 
plorers often alluded to them as gray or even 
as " white " were particularly given to this 
life in the open. To this day that close kins- 
man of the grisly known as the bear of the 
barren grounds continues to lead this same 
kind of life, in the far north. My friend Mr. 
Rockhill, of Maryland, who was the first white 
man to explore eastern Tibet, describes the 
large, grisly-like bear of those desolate up- 
lands as having similar habits. 

However, the grisly is a shrewd beast and 
shows the usual bear-like capacity for adapting 
himself to changed conditions. He has in 
most places become a cover-haunting animal, 
sly in his ways, wary to a degree, and cling- 
ing 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 

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 farthest 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, seek- 
ing or making some cavernous hole in the 
ground instead. The hole is sometimes in a 
slight hillock in a river bottom, but more often 
on a hill-side, 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 
begins to grow restless, and to roam about 
seeking 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 
endeavors 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 
winter 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 
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 hibernat- 
ing bears can hardly be wakened from their 
torpid lethargy. 

The length of time a bear stays in its den 
depends of course upon the severity of the 
season and the latitude and altitude of the 
country. 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 she's 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 con- 
dition until the fall. Sometimes the b^ar 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 game, or of the flocks of 
the settler and the herds of the ranchman. 
Bears are very capricious in this respect, how- 
ever. Some are confirmed game, and cattle- 
killers ; others are not ; while yet others either 
are or are not accordingly as the freak seizes 
them, and their ravages vary almost unac- 
countably, both with the season and the 

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 
during 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 bea*rs 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 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 feed- 
ing 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 came 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 towards some 
browsing beast. When within a few feet a 
quick rush carried him fairly on the terrified 
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 
ordinary 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 ranch- 
men, angered at their losses, hunted their foe 
eagerly, 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 over- 
took it in four or five bounds, and struck it a 
tremendous blow on the flank with one paw, 
knocking several ribs clear away from the 
spine, and killing the animal outright by the 

Horses no less than horned cattle at times 
fall victims to this great bear, which usually 
spring on them from the edge of a clearing as 
they graze in some mountain pasture, or 
among the foot-hills ; and there is no other 
animal 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 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-bor- 
dered valley. The footprints in the damp soil 
were very plain, and showed all that had hap- 
pened. The bear had evidently come out of 
the bushes with a rush, probably bent merely 
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 
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 
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 these knowing creatures. 
The exact course of procedure I never could 
find out ; but apparently the bear laid in wait 
beside the game trails, along which the deer 

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. Nowadays, 
however, the few last survivors of the bison are 
vanishing even from the inaccessible mountain 
fastnesses in which they sought a final refuge 
from their destroyers. 

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 
active 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 fails, 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, being 
able to strike the most lightning-like blows with 
his terrible forefeet, his true weapons of defense. 
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 some- 
times fall victims to the uncouth 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 northwestern Wyoming, 
told me that when the snows got deep on the 
mountains the moos^ 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 on 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 horn- 
less, 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 unawares 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 characteristic trot. The old hunter who 
followed 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 
promised by his frame of seemingly clumsy 
strength, and in spite of his power of charging 
with astonishing 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 agility 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 kill- 
ing. He is a very foul feeder, with a strong 
relish for carrion, and possesses a grewsome 
and cannibal fondness for the flesh of his 
own kind ; a bear carcass will toll a brother 
bear to the ambushed hunter better than almost 
any other bait, unless it is the carcass of a 

Nor do these big bears always content them- 
selves merely with the carcasses of their 
brethren. A black bear would have a poor 
chance if in the clutches of a large, hungry 
grisly ; and an old male will kill and eat a 
cub, especially if he finds it at a disadvantage. 
A rather remarkable instance of this occurred 
in the Yellowstone National Park, in the spring 
of 1 89 1 . The incident is related in the follow- 
ing letter written to Mr. William Hallett 
Phillips, of Washington, by another friend, 
Mr. Elwood Hofer. Hofer is an old moun- 
tain-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 Washing- 
ton, 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 i-a 


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 saloon 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 
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. Ander- 
son, 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 
themselves 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 
up the camas roots, wild onions, and an occa- 
sional luckless woodchuckor 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, evi- 
dent to the most unpractised 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 
boulders by sheer strength. There is always 
a touch of the comic, as well as a touch of the 
strong and terrible, in a bear's look and ac- 
tions. 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 ex- 

, The true time of plenty for bears is the 
berry season. Then they feast ravenously on 
huckleberries, blueberries, kinnikinic berries, 
buffalo berries, wild plums, elderberries, and 
scores of other fruits. They often smash all the 
bushes in a berry patch, gathering the fruit with 
half-luxurious, half-laborious greed, sitting on 
their haunches, and sweeping the berries 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, almost 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 approach them 
unheard. That still-hunter is in luck who in 
the fall finds an accessible berry-covered hill- 
side which is haunted by bears ; but, as a rule, 
the berry bushes do not grow close enough to- 
gether 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 
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, un- 
less there is a full moon. They start on their 
rambles for food about mid-afternoon, and end 
their morning roaming soon after the sun is 
above the horizon. If the moon is full, how- 


ever, they may feed all night long, and then 
wander but little in the daytime. 

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 
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 or- 
dinary 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 vio 
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 off-hand 
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 
the neighborhood, choosing by preference some 
bit where the young growth is thick and the 
ground strewn with boulders 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 bull-berries 
and dwarf box-alders, hemmed in by a cut 
bank on one side and a wall of gnarled cot- 
tonwoods on the other. Round this den, and 
rendering 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 laid 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, 
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 towards the 
spot, I found I had disturbed a big bear as it 
was 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 
ovel* the edges of the pool like a floating 
shelf. Graceful, water-loving ferns swayed to 
and fro. Above, the great conifers spread 
their murmuring branches, dimming the light, 
and keeping out the heat ; their brown boles 
sprang from the ground like buttressed col- 
umns. 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 
like a drove, on some favorite feeding-ground 
43 B 


usually where the berries are thick, or by 
the banks of a salmon-thronged river the 
association is never more than momentary, 
each going its own way as soon as its hunger 
is satisfied. The males always live alone by 
choice, save in the rutting season, when they 
seek the females. Then two or three may 
come together 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 on slight 

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 indi- 
viduals, so as to make what seems like quite 
a .ittle troop of bears. A small ranchman 
who 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- 
wards 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 .alls 
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- 
tised 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 sometimes 
dead-falls, on the principle of the little figure- 
4 trap familiar to every American country 
boy, sometimes log-pens in which the animal 
is taken alive, but generally huge steel gins. 
In some states there is a bounty for the de- 
struction 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 ranchmen who 
regard them as foes to stock, ordinarily use 
steel traps. The trap is very massive, need- 
ing 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 outright, but 
hampers and interferes with it, continually 
catching in tree stumps and the like. The 
animal when trapped makes off at once, bit- 


ing 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 b'ar. 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 alto- 
gether or finds out some way by which to get 
at the bait without springing the trap, or else 
deliberately springs it first. I have been told 
of bears which spring traps by rolling across 
them, the iron jaws slipping harmlessly off 
the 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, 
hunters 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 ex- 
ceptional instances this is true ; exactly as it 
is true that in exceptional instances it is " dan- 
gerous " 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 fury ; 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 or- 
dinarily 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 trappers kill the trapped 
grislies with a revolver ; so that it may easily 
be seen that the sport is not normally danger- 
ous. Two of my own cowboys, Seawell and 
Dow, were originally from Maine, where they 
had trapped a number 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 approached 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 
w ould probably die under the steadily growing 
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 impossible 
for the stoutest man to free himself by any 
means. Terrible stories are told of solitary 


mountain hunters who disappeared, and were 
found years later in the lonely wilderness, as 
mouldering skeletons, the shattered bones of 
the forearms still held in the rusty jaws of the 

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 upon 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, wild-cat, 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 pro- 
bably largely owing to the nature of the country 
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 

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 vice, which could 
fairly master a grisly and, though unable, of 
course, to kill him, would worry him breathless 
and hold him down so that he could be slain 
with ease. There have been instances in 
which five or six of the big so-called blood- 
hounds of the southern States not pure blood- 
hounds at all, but huge, fierce, ban-dogs, with 
a cross of the ferocious Cuban blood-hound, 
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 eighteenth, 
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 nun> 
ber 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 des- 
troyed 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 bull- 
dog with his pack when after one of these big 
bears, and in each case the result 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 fore- 
paw 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 avoid- 
ing 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 Tazewell 
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 da- 
mage ; and it was so strong and bit so severely 
that the bear could not possibly run from it 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 almost 
by accident; and probably this proportion 
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 
travelling 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 rooting in an open glade or 
on a bare hill-side. 

In the still-hunt proper it is necessary to 
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 " forbear is under ordinary 
circumstances the only way which affords even 
a moderately fair chance of killing them. 
They are very cunning, with the sharpest of 
noses, and where they have had experience of 
hunters they dwell only in cover where it is al- 
most impossible for the best of 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 powerful 
glasses ; and he must combine patience and 
good sight with the ability to traverse long dis- 
tances noiselessly and yet at speed. He may 
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 
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- 




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 head-waters of the Salmon 
and Clarke's Fork of the Columbia. All night 
I had lain in my buffalo-bag, under the lea of 
a windbreak of branches, in the clump of fir- 
trees, where I had halted the preceding eve- 
ning. At my feet ran a rapid mountain tor- 
rent, 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 
with black, ice-skimmed tarns ; and the dark 
spruces clustered also in the higher gorges > 
and were scattered thinly along the mountain 
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 onwards 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, travelling above and to one side, and 
keeping a sharp look-out 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 I 
scarcely 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 
halted on an open hill-side, 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 towards 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 rath- 
er close growth of stunted* evergreens, afford- 
ing 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 snow drift 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 
approaches it stealthily when he thinks the 
bear is at its meal. 

One day while carr >ed near the Bitter Root 
Mountains in Mon* na I found that a bear 
had been feeding o v < 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 upwards. 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 whisky-jacks, with bold mien 
and fearless bright eyes, hopped and fluttered 


round, picking up the scraps, and uttering an 
extraordinary variety of notes, mostly discord- 
ant ; so tame were they that one of them lit 
on my outstretched arm as I half dozed, bask- 
ing in the sunshine. 

When the shadows began to lengthen, I 
shouldered my rifle and plunged into the woods. 
At first my route lay along a mountain side ; 
then for half a mile over a windfall, the dead 
timber piled about in crazy confusion. After 
that I went up the bottom of a valley by a 
little brook, the ground being carpeted 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 upper 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 
the carcass, twisting it to one side and the 
other with wonderful ease. Once he got 
angry and suddenly gave it a tremendous cuff 
with his paw ; in his bearing he had something 


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 towards it, broad- 
side to me, with his fore-paws planted on the 
carcass. This gave me my chance. I drew 
a very fine bead between his eye and ear, and 
pulled 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 head-waters 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 bottom 
of this valley was covered by an open forest 
of tall pines ; a thick jungle of smaller ever- 
greens 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 
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 Clarke'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 prime- 
val 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 
very cautious, continually halting to peer 
around ; and once it stood up on its hind legs 
and looked long down the valley towards 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 outcry, 
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 were mortal, and the 
bear died before reaching the edge of the 

I spent much of the fall of 1889 hunting on 
the head-waters 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, named Griffeth or Griffin I can- 
not tell which, as he was always called either 
"Hank" or "Griff." He was a crabbedly 
honest old fellow, and a very skilful hunter ; 
but he was worn out with age and rheumatism, 
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 before or 
after make so successful a hunt. But he was 
an exceedingly disagreeable companion on 
account of his surly, moody ways. I gener- 
ally had to get up first, to kindle the fire and 
make ready breakfast, and he was very quarrel- 
some. Finally, during my absence from camp 
one day, while not very far from Red Rock 
pass, he found my whisky-flask, which I kept 
purely for emergencies, and drank all the con- 
tents. 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 in- 
valuable trait of always staying near camp, 
even when not hobbled. 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 handkerchiefs. A frying-pan, some salt, 
flour, baking-powder, a small chunk of salt 
pork, and a hatchet, made up a light pack, 
which, with the bedding, I fastened across the 
stock saddle by means of a rope and a spare 
packing cinch. My cartridges and knife were 
in my belt; my compass and matches, as al- 
ways, 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 

The country was for the most part fairly 
open, as I kept near the foot-hills where 
glades and little prairies broke the pine 
forest. The trees were of small size. There 
was no regular trail, but the course was easy 
to keep, and I had no trouble of any kind 
save on the second day. That afternoon I 
was following a stream which at last " can- 
yoned 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 
of a small, noisy brook, with crystal water. 
The place was carpeted with soft, wet, green 
moss, dotted red with the kinnikinnic berries, 
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 silently 
over the pine needles, across a succession of 
slight ridges separated by narrow, shallow 
valleys. The forest here was composed 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 mountains 
there was yet plenty of light by which to shoot, 
but it was fading rapidly. 

At last, as I was thinking of turning towards 
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 
off with his head down. He was quartering 
to me, and I fired into his flank, the bullet, as 
I afterwards 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 hill-side, a 
little above. He turned his head stiffly to- 
wards me ; scarlet strings of froth hung 
from his lips ; his eyes burned like embers 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- 
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 until 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 trigger ; and through 
the hanging smoke the first thing I saw was 
his paw as he made a vicious side blow at 
me. The rush of his charge carried him 
past. As he struck he lurched forward, leav- 
ing a pool of bright blood where his muzzle 
hit the ground ; but he recovered himself and 
made two or three jumps onwards, 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 suddenly 
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 

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 

This is the onlv 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 
hunters first encountered the grisly, he was 
doubtless an exceedingly savage beast, prone 
to attack without provocation, and a redoubt- 
able 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 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 
dangerous 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 animal 
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 oi 


skill and hardihood, and must not too closely 
count the risk to life or limb. Bears differ 
widely in temper, and occasionally one may 
be found who will not show fight, no matter 
how much he is bullied ; but, as a rule, a 
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 necessary 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 follow- 
ing a wounded bear under such conditions. 
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 fastness in which 
it has sought refuge ; but he must act warily 
and with the utmost caution and resolution, 
if he wishes to escape a terrible and probably 
fatal mauling. An experienced hunter is 
rarely rash, and never heedless ; he will not, 
when alone, follow a wounded bear into a 
thicket, if by the exercise 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 danger 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 overcome 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 hunt- 
ing in Wyoming, south of the Yellowstone 
Park, and killed seven bears. One, an old 
he, was out on a bare table-land, 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 before 
making him out to be a bear. They then 
stalked up to the edge of the wood which 
fringed the table-land on one side, bU could 
get no nearer than about three hundred yards, 
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 second 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 flinching, or even at- 
tack unprovoked. Hence men of limited ex- 
perience in this sport, generalizing from the 
actions of the two or three bears each has 
happened to see or kill, often reach diametri- 
cally opposite conclusions as to the fighting 
temper and capacity of the quarry. Even old 
hunters who indeed, as a class, are very nar- 
row-minded and opinionated often genera- 
lize just as rashly as beginners. One will 
portray all bears as very dangerous ; another 
will speak and act as if he deemed them of no 
more consequence than so many rabbits. I 
knew one old hunter who had killed a score 
without ever seeing 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 de- 
livered before the bear was wounded or even 
shot at, the animal being roused by the ap- 
proach 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 con- 
nected 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 down into a deep, nar- 
row canyon. 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 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, nd 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 
however) ; and the bear would look up at him 
and pass on without stopping. Once, when 
he was hunting in the mountains with a com- 
panion, the latter, who was down in a valley, 
while Woody was on the hill-side, shot at a 
bear. The first thing Woody knew the 
wounded grisly, running up-hill, 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 round 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 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 talk- 
ing to one another. Once it passed so close 
that Woody could almost have touched 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 al- 
most 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 
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' crews landed ; and the men, who were 
armed only with an occasional harppon or 
lance, 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 direction ; 
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 disembowelled him. 
One of the Yankee mates then fired a bomb 
lance into the bear's hips, and the savage 
beast hobbled off into the dense cover of 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 liberties 
with him ; he usually fights desperately and 
dies hard when wounded and cornered, and 
exceptional individuals take the aggressive 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 towards him with his paws the better 
to reach him with his teeth, and to hold him 
so that he cannot 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 
stumbled on him in his lair unawares, he will 
often rise up in this fashion and strike a single 
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 travelling. 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 
quickness, rising on its hind legs, and knock- 


ing 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 rescue 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 
directed 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 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 suddenly 
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 look-out 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 usually 
towards the thickest cover or most broken 
ground in which he intends to run if molested. 
When shot at he instantly starts towards this 
place ; or he may be so confused that he simply 
runs he knows not whither; and in either 

4 4 


event he may take a line that leads almost 
directly to or by the hunter, although he had 
at first no thought of charging. In such a case 
he usually strikes a single knock-down blow 
and gallops on without halting, though that 
one blow may have taken life. If the claws 
are long and fairly sharp (as in early spring, 
or even in the fall, if the animal has been work- 
ing 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 disadvantage 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 

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, utter- 
ing at the same time a succession of roars or 
of savage rasping snarls. Certain bears charge 
without any bluster and perfectly 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 variability 
in their behavior when wounded. Often a big 
bear, especially if charging, will receive a bul- 
let in perfect silence, without flinching or seem- 
ing to pay any heed to it ; while another 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 care- 
less. On the day in question he had met a 
couple of mining prospectors and was travelling 
with them, when a grisly crossed his path. The 
old hunter immediately ran after it, rapidly gain- 
ing, as the bear did not hurry when it saw itself 
pursued, but slouched slowly forwards, occas- 
ionally turning its head to grin and growl. 


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, evi- 
dently 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 retreated 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 assis- 
tance is at hand, such a man is doomed ; al- 
though if he pretends to be dead, and has the 
nerve to lie quiet under very rough treatment, 
it is just possible that the bear may leave him 
alive,perhaps after half burying what it believes 
to be the body. In a very few exceptional in- 
stances men of extraordinary 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 before 
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 disfigure 
or maim the foe by a hurried stroke. Hence 
it is common to see men who have escaped 
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 Montana or 
northern Idaho has known two or three unfor- 
tunates who have suffered in this manner. I 
have myself met one such man 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 partially 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 
2d and 3^ Cavalry, were scouting in Wyom- 
ing, near the Freezeout Mountains. One 
morning they roused a bear in the open prairie 


and followed it at full speed as it ran towards 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. Neverthe- 
less, it managed to 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 
dismounted and prepared to force his way in 
among the dwarfed willows, which were but 
breast-high. Among the men who had ridden 
up were Moore and Bates, and also the two 
famous scouts, Buffalo Bill long a companion 
of Captain Moore, and California Joe, Cus- 
ter'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 answered 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, re- 
marking quietly : " Very well, sonny, go in ; 
it's your own affair." Miller then leaped off 


the bank on which they 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, roaring 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 himself so that 
he was not overthrown ; but the bear twisted 
its muzzle from side to side, biting and tear- 
ing 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 has 
it now. 

The instances in which hunters who have 
rashly followed grislies into thick cover have 
been killed or severely mauled might be multi- 
plied 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 
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 perhaps 


pass by, its hiding-place, and then suddenly 
charges him with such rapidity that he has 
barely time for the most hurried 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 unfav- 
orable circumstances without accident. If an 
unwounded bear thinks itselt unobserved 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 closely it will 
lie when there is danger. About twelve miles 
below my ranch there are some large river 
bottoms and creek bottoms covered with a 
matted mass of cottonwood, box-alders, bull- 
berry bushes, rosebushes, ash, wild plums, and 
other bushes. These bottoms have harbored 
bears 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 near indeed 
to the game, we never so much as heard it 

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 danger ; 
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 ex- 
citement is in the stalk, the bear doing noth- 
ing more than keep a keen look-out and mani- 
fest the utmost anxiety to get away. As is 
but natural, accidents occasionally occur; 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 
shot, but slackened its pace on coming almost 
up to the man. The latter 's gun jambed, and 
as he was endeavoring to work it he kept step- 
ping slowly back, facing the bear which fol- 
lowed a few yards distant, snarling and 
threatening. Unfortunately while thus walk- 
ing backwards the man struck a dead log and 
fell over it, whereupon the beast instantly 
sprang on him and mortally wounded him be- 
fore 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 knowl- 
edge the man escaped with a shaking up, and 
without even a fright. His name was Perkins, 
and he was out gathering huckleberries in the 


woods on a mountain side near Pend'Oreille 
Lake. Suddenly he was sent flying head over 
heels, by a blow which completely knocked 
the breath out of his body ; and so instantan- 
eous was the whole affair that all he could ever 
recollect about it was getting a vague glfmpse 
of the bear just as he was bowled over. When 
he came to he found himself lying some dis- 
tance down the hill-side, much shaken, and 
without his berry pail, which had rolled a 
hundred yards below him, but not otherwise 
the worse for his misadventure ; while the foot- 
prints showed that the bear, after delivering 
the single hurried stroke at the unwitting dis- 
turber of its day-dreams, had run off up-hill 
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 anxious 
and jealous rage, so that they are likely to at- 
tack 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 adventure 
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 Mexico, 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 a little grisly 
cub watching him from the chaparral above, 
and he dismounted to try to capture it ; his 
rifle was a 40-90 Sharp's. Just as he neared 
the cub, he heard a growl and caught a glimpse 
of the old she, and he at once turned up-hill, 
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, shaking 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 bullet that 
dropped her lifeless. Mr. Whitney then 
climbed down and walked to where the cub 
had been sitting as a looker-on. The little 
animal did not move until he reached out his 
hand ; when it suddenly struck at him like an 
angry cat, dove into the bushes, and was seen 
no more. 

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 
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 revolver, 
fired so close that the powder burned her hair. 
The unfortunate cubs were 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 Clarke and 
the early explorers who immediately succeeded 
them, as well as the first hunters and trappers, 
the " Rocky Mountain men " of the early 
decades of the present century, were repeat* 
edly 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 discov- 
ered 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 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 almost to un- 
seat him, and then darted madly forward. 
Turning round in the saddle to his utter aston- 


ishment he saw a large bear galloping 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 indignant cow- 
boy, as soon as he could rein in his steed, drew 
his revolver and rode back to and around the 
thicket, endeavoring to provoke his late pur- 
suer to come out and try conclusions on more 
equal terms ; but prudent Ephraim had ap- 
parently repented of his freak of ferocious 
bravado, arid declined to leave the secure 
shelter of the jungle. 

Other attacks are of a much more explicable 
nature. Mr. Huffman, the photographer of 
Miles City, informed me that once when butch- 
ering some slaughtered elk he was charged 
twice by a she-bear and two well-grown cubs. 
This was a piece of sheer bullying, undertaken 
solely with the purpose of driving away the 
man and feasting on the carcasses ; for in each 
charge the three bears, after advancing with 
much blustering, roaring, and growling, halted 
just before coming to close quarters. In an- 
other instance a gentleman 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. Apparently it had been living so well, 
principally on flesh, that it had become 
quarrelsome ; and perhaps its not over sweet 
disposition had been soured by combats with 
others of its own kind. In yet another case, 
a grisly charged with even less excuse. An 
old trapper, 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 Pend' Oreille Lake, and met some 
French and Meti trappers, then in town with 
their bales of beaver, otte , and sable. One 
of them, who gave his name as Japtiste 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 


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 warning, 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 be- 
fore 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 turning, tracked off 
towards 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 tne bear. The bullet 
went through the beast's lungs, and it forth- 
with dropped its prey, and running off some two 
hundred yards, lay down on its side and died. 
The rescued man recovered full health and 
strength, but never again carried his head 

Old hunters and mountain-men tell many 
stories, not only of malicious grislies thus at- 
tacking men in camp, but also of their even 
dogging the footsteps of some solitary hunter 
and killing him when the favorable opportun- 
ity occurs. Most of these tales are mere 
fables ; but it is possible that in altogether ex- 
ceptional instances they rest on a foundation 
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 believed what 
he said, and that his companion was actually 
killed by a bear ; but it is probable 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 qf bears are shot under cir- 
cumstances 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 revolver. Twice 
of late years it has been performed 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 pursuance of their ordinary duties 
among the cattle. I knew both men and have 
worked with them on the round-up. Like 
most cowboys they carried 44-calibre Colt re- 
volvers, 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 distance, lounging across a broad 
table-land. The cowboy, by taking advantage 


of a winding 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 latter 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 towards a clump of brush not fai 
off at the head of a creek. Before he could 
reach it, however, the galloping horseman 
was alongside, and fired three shots into his 
broad back. He did not turn, but ran on in- 
to the bushes and then fell over and died. 

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 round-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, wheel- 
ing his horse on its haunches and dashing in 
the spurs, carried it just clear of his assail- 
ant'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 
^he neck and shoulder, the bullet going down- 
wards 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 run, firing a couple 
of shots, which brought on another resolute 
charge. The ground was somewhat rugged 
and broken, but his pony was as quick on its 
feet as a cat, and never stumbled, even when 
going at full speed to avoid the bear's first 
mad rushes. It speedily became so excited, 
however, as to render it almost 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 occasionally 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 charging or standing at bay. 
Then it began to move slowly towards 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 fiercely as ever, though evi- 
dently 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 slowly forwards, swaying its great head 
from side to side, while the blood streamed 
from between its half-opened jaws. On reach- 
ing the cover he could tell by the waving of 
the bushes that it walked to the middle and 
then halted. A few minutes afterwards some 
of the other cowboys rode up, having been 
attracted by the incessant firing. They sur- 
rounded the thicket, firing and throwing stones 
into the bushes. Finally, as nothing moved, 
they ventured 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 rop- 
ers ; 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 
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 cannot 
reach cover, however, his fate is sealed. 
Sooner or later, the noose tightens over one 
leg, or perchance over the neck and fore-paw, 
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 
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 the 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 afterwards 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- 
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 
towards the monster, the cavalryman swept 
by at a run, handling his steed with such dar- 
ing skill that he just cleared the blow of the 
dreaded fore-paw, while with one mighty 
sabre stroke he cleft the bear's skull, slaying 
the grinning beast as it stood upright. 




NO 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 

Without hounds its pursuit is so uncertain 
that from the still-hunter's standpoint it hardly 
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 
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 Decem- 
ber 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, 
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 homewards. 
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 had ; 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 hunted for them 
all day without success. My failures were 
doubtless due in part to various shortcomings 
in hunter's-craft on my own part ; but equally 
without 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 travelled 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, listening to 
the murmur of the pine forests, and the occa- 
sional call of a jay or woodpecker, and gaz- 
ing eagerly along the trail in the waning light 
of the late afternoon. Suddenly, without 
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 
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 follow 
it with dogs. If the chase is conducted in 
this fashion, it is very exciting, and resembles 
on a larger scale the ordinary method of 
hunting the wildcat or small lynx, as practised 
by the sport-loving planters of the southern 
States. With a very little training, hounds 
readily and eagerly pursue the cougar, show- 
ing in this kind of chase none of the fear and 
disgust they are so prone to exhibit when put 
on the trail of the certainly no more danger- 
ous 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 diffi- 
culty ; though some cougars break bay when 
the hunters come near, and again make off, 
when they can only be stopped by many large 
and fierce hounds. Hounds are often killed 
in these rights ; and if hungry a cougar will 
pounce on any dog for food ; yet, as I have else- 
where related, I know of one instance 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, in- 
forms me that he has killed with his pack 
some sixteen cougars, during the fifty years 
he has hunted in South Carolina and Missis- 
sippi. I believe they were all killed in the 
latter State. General Hampton's hunting 
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 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 Col. 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-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 moment 


the brute knocked the dog endways, and at 
the same instant the man split open its head 
with the axe. Great was his astonishment, 
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 with 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 astonishment 
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. 

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 strapping 

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 sometimes very 


bold. Willis once fired at some bighorn sheep, 
on a steep mountain-side ; he missed, and im- 
mediately after his shot, a cougar made a dash 
into the midst of the flying band, in hopes to 
secure a victim. The cougar roams over long 
distances, and often changes its hunting 
ground, perhaps remaining 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 prey, 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 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 sur- 
prise. On the other hand, the cougar itself 
has to fear the big timber wolves when 
maddened by the winter hunger and gathered 
in small parties ; while a large grisly would of 
course be an overmatch for it twice over, 
though its superior agility puts it beyond the 
grisly's power to harm it, unless by some un- 
lucky 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. 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, rabbits, beavers, and even 
gophers, rats, and mice. It sometimes makes a 
thorny meal of the porcupine, and if sufficiently 
hungry attacks 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 
make its attacks by stealth, and if possible 
from behind, and relies on two or three tre- 
mendous springs to bring it on the doomed 
creature'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 compared to 
the jaguar, and its bite is much less danger- 
ous. 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 
i 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 he's kill the small male 
kittens when they get a chance. They cer- 
tainly at times during the breeding season 
fight desperately among themselves. Cougars 
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 female. While 
she has kittens, the mother is doubly des- 
tructive to game. The young begin to kill 
for themselves very early. The first fall, after 
they are born, they attack large game, and 
from ignorance are bolder in making 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 plentiful, 
I twice heard a loud, wailing scream ring- 
ing 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 prey. Cer- 
tainly 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 companion and they 
unexpectedly came on the cougar on a shelf 
of sandstone above their herds, 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 seriouly hurt. 

Many old frontiersmen tell tales of the 
cougar'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 indeed 
of such extreme rarity that they may be en- 
tirely 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 

4 SB 


cowardly ; and that their habit of sometimes 
dogging 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 es- 
pecially true in the dark canebrakes of some 
of the southern States, where the man a cougar 
was most likely to encounter was a nearly 
naked and unarmed negro. General Hampton 
tells me that near his Mississippi plantation, 
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 manner. 
It was in January, and they were walking 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 dumb- 
founded to see the man lying on his face in 
the snow, with a cougar which had evidently 
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, though greatly amazed. The 
cougars were not full grown, but young of the 

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 burdens, with 
the deer skins on their backs. Evidently the 
cougars were only trying to get at the venison. 

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 towards 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 Bache 
McMaster, in 1875. He was camped near the 
head of Green River, Wyoming. One after- 
noon he found a couple of cougar kittens, 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 twitching. 
Snatching up his rifle, he killed her when she 
was barely twenty yards distant. 

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 hunger, 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. Jag- 
uars, on the contrary, were very dangerous 




In 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 hunting. 

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 re- 
spects like, in others strangely unlike, the 
northern plains with which I was so well 
acquainted. It was for the most part covered 
with a scattered growth of tough, stunted mes- 
quite 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 
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 ex- 
traordinary 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 outbuildings around the ranches. 
Mocking-birds abounded, and were very noisy, 
singing almost all the daytime, but with their 
usual irritating inequality of performance, 
wonderfully 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 them 
utter the beautiful love song in which they 
sometimes indulge at night. 

The country was all under wire fence, unlike 
the northern regions, the pastures however 
being sometimes many miles across. When 
we reached the Frio ranch a herd of a thou- 
sand 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 various 
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 cowpunchers 
was much like that of their brothers in the 
North. As a whole, however, they were dis- 
tinctly more proficient with the rope, and at 
least half of them were Mexicans. 

There were some bands of wild cattle living 
only in the densest timber of the river bot- 
toms 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 
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, 
roping, 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 thereabouts, 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 market 
value, being worth four bits that is, half a 
dollar apiece ; and many Mexicans and not 


a few shiftless Texans went into the business 
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 
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 

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 
usually found in parties of from twenty to 
thirty, feeding in the dense chaparral, the 
sows rejoining 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 in* 
variably remaining as a sentinel close to the 
mouth, looking 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 at- 
tack entirely without provocation. 

Once my friend Moore himself, while out 
with another cowboy on horseback, was at- 
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 moment's warning. The little creatures 
completely surrounded them, cutting fiercely 
at the horses 1 legs and jumping up at the 
riders' feet. The men, drawing their revolv- 
ers, dashed through and were closely followed 
by their pursuers for three or four hundred 
yards, although 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 
the wild turkeys gobbled 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 
passing cowman happened to mention the fact 
that some were still to be found on the Nueces 
River thirty miles or thereabouts 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 
nobody 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, however, the leafless, sprawling mes- 
quites were scattered rather thinly over the 
ground, cutting 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 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 fattening pastures. Occasionally 


we encountered one or two cowpunchers: 
either Texans, habited 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. Farther 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 
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 
began 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 
brilliant in plumage than the true cardinals 
and the scarlet tanagers ; and yellow-headed 
titmice which had already built large domed 

In the valley of the Nueces itself, the brush 
grew thick. There were great groves of pe- 
can trees, and ever-green 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 char- 
acter. High on a bluff shoulder overlooking 
the course of the river was perched the ranch 
house, toward which we were bending 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 morning 
we should ride down to the latter place, tak- 
ing the first dog with us and procuring his 
companion when we reached the goat-herder'a 


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 garfish 
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 fetid. 
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 and 
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 
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 was 
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 disreput- 
able capacity. It was this hound which always 
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 up- 
lands, 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, look- 
ing in the distance like small palms; and 
there were many other kinds of cactus, all 
with poisonous thorns. Two or three times 
the dogs got on an old trail and rushed off 
giving tongue, whereat we galloped madly af- 
ter them, ducking and dodging through and 
among 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 comfort- 
ably 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 sad- 
dle 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 fol- 
lowed 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 bay- 
ing. In less than a quarter of a mile they were 
on his haunches, and he wheeled and stood un- 
der 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 im- 
possible, 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 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 indiffer- 
ence 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 cannot kill a peccary, though it is no 
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 moulded 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 
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 un- 
common thing for a big band to attack entire- 
ly of their own accord, and keep a hunter up a 
tree for hours at a time. 




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 sol- 
itudes, 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 trappers of the 
great plains and the Rockies led such wander- 
ing 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 run- 

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 in 
somewhat the same manner, being followed by 
a slow hound and shot at as he circles before 
the dog. Although this kind of fox-hunting 
is inferior to hunting on horseback, it never- 
theless 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 Amer- 
ican 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, 70*3 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 
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 
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 tremendous 
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 
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 anywhere 
near he was probably killed before he could 
rise, although not infrequently the dogs them- 
selves were more or less scratched in the con- 
tests. Some greyhounds, even of high breed- 
ing, proved absolutely useless from timidity, 
being afraid to take hold ; but if they got ac- 
customed to the chase, being worked with old 
dogs, and had any pluck at all, they proved 
singularly fearless. A big ninety-pound grey- 
hound or Scotch deer-hound is a very formid- 
able fighting dog ; I saw one whip a big mas- 
tiff in short order, his wonderful agility being 
of more account than his adversary's superior 

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. 


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 
peacock screen or a vase, feeling it gently 
with one forefinger, and returning with noise- 
less gait to his chair, unmoved, and making 
no comment. On the morning of a hunt he 
would always appear 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 occa- 
sions ; and he never under any circumstances 
shot an animal that the dogs could kill. Once 
when a skunk got into his house, with the 
direful stupidity of its 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, colley, or setter, it 
mattered nothing to him. They were a wicked, 
hardbiting crew for all that, and Mr. Cowley, 
in his flapping linen duster, was a first-class 
hunter and a good rider. He went almost 
mad with excitement 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 individ- 
ual variation. I consider the antelope the 
fleetest of all however ; and in this opinion I 
am sustained by Col. Roger D. Williams, of 
Lexington, Kentucky, who, more than any 
other American, is entitled to speak upon 
coursing, and especially upon coursing large 
game. Col. Williams, like a true son of Ken- 
tucky, has bred his own thoroughbred horses 
and thoroughbred hounds for many 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 foot-hills 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 sur* 


vivors 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 assail 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 duration the ante- 
lope showed much greater speed, and gave the 
dogs far more trouble, although always over- 
taken in the end, if a good start had been 
obtained. Col. Williams is a firm believer in 
the power of the thoroughbred horse to out- 
turn any animal that breathes, in a long chase ; 
he has not infrequently run down deer, when 
they were jumped some miles from cover; 
and on two or three occasions he ran down 
uninjured antelope, but in each case only after 
a desperate ride of miles, which in one in- 
stance resulted in the death of his gallant 

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 exhilar- 
ation of the pure air and wild surrounding, all 
combine to give it a peculiar zest. But there 
is really less need of bold and skilful horse- 
manship than in the otherwise less attractive 
and more artificial sport of fox-hunting, or 
riding to hounds, in a closed and long-settled 


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 

In no place in the Northeast is hunting the 
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-hunt- 
ing in this valley, the farmers having good 
horses and being fond of sport ; but it was 
conducted in a very irregular, primitive man- 
ner, until some twenty years ago Mr. Austin 
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 riders 
among the men and stronger jumpers among 
the horses. Mr. Wadsworth began his hunt- 
ing 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 ap- 
pearing on foot or horseback as his fancy dic- 
tated. Having gotten together some of these 
native hounds and started fox-hunting in local- 
ities where the ground was so open as to 


necessitate following the chase on horseback, 
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 
noses. The American hounds were very 
obstinate 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, however, naturally decreases the num- 
ber of kills. It is a very fertile land, and 
there are few farming regions more beautiful, 
for it is prevented 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 occasional 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 5 
and they usually have thoroughbred or trot- 
ting-stock blood in them. 


One of the pleasantest days I ever passed 
in the saddle was after Mr. Wads worth'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 perhaps 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 retired army officers, a number of 
farmers from the neighborhood ; and finally 
several members of a noted local family of 
hard riders, who formed a class by themselves, 
all having taken naturally to every variety 
of horsemanship 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 imme- 
diately and were off with clamorous yelping, 
while the hunt thundered after them like a 
herd of buffaloes. We 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. 
Almost 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 
number, who was riding a very excitable sor- 
rel 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, gal- 
loped 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 recovered the line 
and swung off to the right, back across four or 
five fields, so as to enable 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 
ploughed fields and grass lands, separated by 
stiff snake fences. The run had been fast and 
the horses were beginning to tail. By the 
time we suddenly rattled down into a deep ra- 
vine 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 ravine we came to one of the 
worst jumps of the day, a fence out of the 


wood, which was practicable only at one spot, 
where a kind of cattle 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 awkward places, and by this 
time well quieted, took the bars without mis- 
take, 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 powerful 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 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 
appointed time ; and the only way to insure 
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 
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 
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 File- 
maker, which I saw ridden in the very front 
by Mr. H. L. Herbert, in the hunt at Saga- 
more 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 
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 important 
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 hun- 
ters in the whole field. Now and then a break- 
fast would be given the hunt at some country- 
house, when the whole day was devoted to the 
sport ; perhaps after wild foxes in the morn- 
ing, 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 
difficult 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 run- 
ning. On the particular hunt in question 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 
" 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 averaged 
about four and a half. There were also sev- 
eral 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 
farther 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 succession without a single refusal and with 
but one mistake. Owing to the severity of 
the pace, combined with the average height 
of the timber (although no one fence was of 
phenomenally noteworthy proportions), a good 
many falls took place, resulting in an unusu- 
ally large percentage of accidents. The mas- 
ter partly dislocated one knee, another man 
broke two ribs, and another the present 
writer broke his arm. However, almost all 
of us managed 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 origin- 
ally taken out of a buggy, though a very clever 
fencer, was too coarse to gallop alongside 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 
" safety " 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 endurance, 
as quick on his feet as a cat, and with a daunt- 
less 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 
family, or his business, upon his neck and 
limbs, can hunt with much safety if he gets a 
quiet 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 wheri possible, going at the lowest 
panel of every fence, and not calling on his 
animal for all there is in him unless it cannot 
possibly be avoided. It must be remembered 
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 acquired 
a fairly stout heart, for a constitutionally timid 
person is out of place in the hunting 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 compara- 
tively 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 fetish 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 jumping, and 
the being out in the open air. Very naturally, 


however, men who have passed their lives as 
fox-hunters grow to regard the chase and the 
object of it alike with superstitious venera- 
tion. They attribute almost mythical charac- 
ters to the animal. I know some of my good 
Virginian friends, for instance, 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 turning to account every- 
thing 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 rid- 
ing 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 compensates for the fact that 
in the other the riding is apt to be harder and 
the jumping higher ; 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 be- 
tween them seems a little absurd, in fact cock- 
ney. It is of course nothing against either 


that it is artificial ; so are all sports in long- 
civilized countries, from lacrosse to ice yacht- 

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 instance, 
who followed the boar, stag, and hare with his 
hounds, always looked down upon the chase 
of the fox ; whereas the average Englishman 
not only asserts but seriously believes that no 
other kind of chase can compare with it, al- 
though 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-hunt- 
ing 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 
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 
former life, and he was never tired of describ- 
ing what fun it was to shoot roebucks when 
driven by the little crooked-legged dachshunds. 
There were plenty of deer and antelope 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 country, is 
a gentleman from France, a very successful 
ranchman, and a thoroughly good fellow ; he 
cares nothing for hunting big game, and will 
not go after it, but is devoted to shooting 
cotton-tails in the snow, this being a pastime 
having much resemblance to one of the recog- 
nized 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 
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 equalled their 
own stealthy hunts in eastern forests. So I 
know plenty of men, experts with the shot- 
gun, who honestly prefer shooting quail in the 
East over well-trained setters or pointers, to 
the hardier, manlier sports of the wilderness. 

As it is with hunting, so it is with riding. 
The cowboy's scorn of every method of riding 
save his own is as profound and as ignorant 
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 disadvant- 
age when made to do the work of any of the 
others. For all-around riding and horseman- 
ship, I think the West Point graduates is 


somewhat ahead of any of them. Taken as 
a class, however, and compared with other 
classes as numerous, and not with a few ex- 
ceptional individuals, the cowboy, like the 
Rocky Mountain stage-driver, has no supe- 
riors anywhere for his own work ; and they 
are fine fellows, these iron-nerved reinsmen 
and rough-riders. 

When Buffalo Bill took his cowboys to 
Europe they made a practice in England, 
France, Germany, and Italy of offering to 
break and ride, in their own fashion, any horse 
given them. They were frequently given 
spoiled animals from the cavalry services in 
the different countries through which they 
passed, animals with which the trained horse- 
breakers of the European armies could do 
nothing ; and yet in almost all cases the cow- 
punchers and bronco-busters with Buffalo Bill 
mastered 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 essayed 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 diffi- 
cult problem than a bad little horse fed on 
grass. After Buffalo Bill's men had returned, 
I occasionally heard it said that they had 


tried cross-country riding in England, and 
had shown themselves pre-eminently skilful 
thereat, doing better than the English fox- 
hunters, but this I take the liberty to disbe- 
lieve. I was in England at the time, hunted 
occasionally myself, and was with many of 
the men who were all the time riding in the 
most famous hunts ; men, too, who were 
greatly impressed 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 in- 
stance in which one of the cowboys rode to 
hounds with any marked success. 1 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, act- 
tually show such superiority or perform such 

It would be interesting to compare the per- 
formances of the Australian stock-riders with 
those of our own cowpunchers, both in cow- 
work and in riding. The Australians have 
an entirely different kind of saddle, and the 

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 m 


use of the rope is unknown among them. A 
couple of years ago the famous western rifle 
shot, Carver, took some cowboys out to AUL 
tralia, and I am informed that many of the 
Australians began themselves to practise 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 
Australian 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 unequalled ; 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. 
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 
riding are so very different that a man only 
accustomed 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 barbar- 
ians, 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 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 them- 
selves at home to be good riders to hounds 
or had made their records as college athletes, 
a larger proportion 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 caribou-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 
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. 




THE wolf is the arch type 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 

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 Mississippi 
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 demark- 
ation, especially in size, between the coyottes 
and the big wolves of any given district ; but 
in certain districts the big wolves are very 
much larger than their brethren in other dis- 


tricts. 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 lo- 
calities 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 wolves 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 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 under- 
sized, 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 co- 
yote 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 buffalo 
wolves, and were regular attendants on the 
great herds of the bison. Every traveller 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 wolfers, or profes- 
sional wolf-hunters, who killed them by poison- 
ing for the sake of their fur, and the cattle- 
men, who likewise killed them by poisoning 
because of their raids on the herds, have doubt- 
less been the chief instruments in working their 
decimation on the plains. In the '70*3, and 
even in the early '8o's, many tens of thousands 
of wolves were killed by the wolfers inMontana 
and northern Wyoming and western Dakota. 
Nowadays 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 
traveller. Instead of being one of the most 
common they have become one of the rarest 
sights of the plains. A hunter may wander far 
and wide through the plains for months now- 
adays and never see a wolf, though he will 
probably see many coyotes. However, the 
diminution 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, 
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 eagerly 
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 hardest 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 pres- 
ent exists in very scanty numbers in northern 
. Maine and the Adirondacks ; is almost or 
quite extinct in Pennsylvania; lingers 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 destruction of the wolves 
is due to some disease among them, perhaps to 
hydrophobia, a terrible malady 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 cannot be the com- 
plete 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 curi- 
ous 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 

Indeed the differences of this sort between 
nearly related animals are literally inexplicable. 
Much of the difference in temperament be- 
tween such closely allied species as the Amer- 
ican and European bears and wolves is doubt- 
less 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 
America being larger than the otter of Europe, 


while the badger is smaller ; in the mink being 
with us a much stouter animal than its Scan- 
dinavian and Russian kinsman, while the re- 
verse 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 
Mountains, while between the bears of the 
same regions the comparison must be exactly 

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 weaker and less ferocious than 
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 buf- 
falo wolf of the plains, although they inter- 
grade. The skins and skulls of the wolves of 


north-western Montana and Washington which 
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. However, they live where 
they come in contact with a population 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 ravenous- 
ly hungry timber wolves. 

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rock- 
ies, 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 the shoulder and 
weighs about no pounds. A Texan wolf may 
not reach over eighty pounds. The bitch- 
wolves are smaller ; and moreover there is of- 
ten great variation even in the wolves of closely 
neighboing 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. They were 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 
/ull-grown cow or steer, still less a full-grown 
buffalo, and, if they did attack such an animal, 
it was only when emboldened by numbers. In 
the plains of the upper Missouri and Saskatch- 
ewan the wolf was, and is, more dangerous, 
while in the northern Rockies his courage and 
feroc\ty attain their highest pitch. Near my 
own ranch the wolves have sometimes com- 
mitted great depredations on cattle, but they 
seem to have queer freaks of slaughter. Us- 
ually they prey only upon calves and sickly 
animals ; but in midwinter I have known one 
single-handed to attack and kill 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 assaults, falling 
on the stock while immediately around the 
ranch houses. They even venture into the 
hamlet of Medora itself at night as the coy- 
otes 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 
stock-yards, 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 the farm. 
When the weather gets cold and food scarce 
they band together in small parties, perhaps 
of four or five individuals, and then assail any- 
thing, 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 fre- 
quently 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 attention, while the 
other hamstrings it. Nevertheless, one such 
big wolf will kill an ordinary horse. A man I 
knew, who was engaged in packing into the 
the Cceur 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 ex- 
hausted. He lost sight of it as the trail went 
down a zigzag, and while it was thus out of 
sight he suddenly heard it utter the appalling 
scream, unlike and more dreadful than any 
other sound, which a horse only utters in ex- 
treme fright or agony. The scream was re- 
peated, and as he came in sight again he saw 


that a great wolf had attacked the horse. The 
poor 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 recovered and made a desperate 
bound forward, starting at full gallop. Im- 
mediately 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 disembowelled it, and 
it fell over, having made no attempt to defend 
itself. 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 cither strike them down with their fore- 
feet or repulse them by lashing out behind. 

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. The 
wolf was just old enough to begin to feel vi- 
cious and bloodthirsty, and to show symptoms 
of attacking the deer. On the occasion in 
question he got loose and ran towards it, but 
it turned, and began to hit him with its fore- 
feet* 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 bristling hair, 
crawled after, and with a pounce seized it by 
the haunch, and would doubtless have mur- 
dered the bleating, struggling creature, 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 undoubtedly some- 
times seize a coyote, tear it in pieces and de- 
vour it, although during most of the year the 
two animals live in perfect 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 extraor- 
dinary friendship with a strayed dog, and the 
two lived and hunted together for many 
months, being frequently seen by the settlers 


of the locality. This occurred near Thomp- 
son's Falls, Montana. 

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 travelling immense dis- 
tances in order to take up a temporary 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 circumstances, espe- 
cially if near a lake, the latter frequently 
escape. Whether wolves run cunning I do 
not know ; but I think they must, for coyotes 
certainly do. A coyote cannot run down a 
jack-rabbit ; but two or three working to- 
gether 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 happened 
several times, and then the confused jack lay 
down under a sage-bush and was seized. So 
I have seen two coyotes attempting 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 into the 
habit of wandering from home is surely lost. 
Though, I have never known wolves to 
attack 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 came so 
close to the fire that I could hear them snap 
their jaws and growl, and at one time I posi- 
tively 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 was 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 dowu 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 coming 
half-way over it changed its mind and swam 
back to the opposite bank ; nor did I see or 
hear anything more of the night marauders. 

Five or six times on the plains or on my 
ranch I have had shots at wolves, always 
obtained 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 travelling 
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, nevertheless, 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 

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, 
supposed to be fighting dogs, able to tackle 
him without special training. I have known 
one wolf to kill a bulldog which had rushed 
at it with a single snap, while 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 belong to the 
fighting classes. In the way that bench com- 
petitions 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 uncon- 
nected with the dog's usefulness. A prize- 
winning mastiff or bulldog may be almost use- 
less 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. 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 Ranchman. 

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 Hamp- 
ton tells me that in the course of his fifty 
years' hunting with horse and hound in Mis- 
sissippi, 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 difficulty, however, that he could per- 
suade them to so much as follow the trail. 
Usually, as soon as they came across it, they 
would growl, 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 cane- 
brake the beast turned and tore it to pieces. 
Finally General Hampton succeeded in get- 
ting 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 oi 


absolutely pure blood. Prize-winning dogs 
of high pedigree often prove useless for the 
purposes. 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- 
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 Custer 
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 iron-clad foe, 
can stand as a more perfect type of dauntless 

Once I had the good fortune to witness a 
very exciting hunt of this character among the 
foot-hills 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, 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 includ- 
ing one pure-bred greyhound bitch of won- 
derful speed and temper, a dun-colored yelp- 
ing animal which was a cross between a grey- 
hound and a fox-hound, and two others that 
were crosses between a greyhound and a wire- 
haired Scotch deer-hound. Old man Prindle's 
contribution to the pack consisted of two im- 
mense 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 foiling in the cattle country, 
had died in a squalid log shanty while striv- 
ing to eke out an existence as a hunter among 
the foot-hills. His dog, I presume, from the 


description given me, must have been a boar- 
hound or Ulm dog. 

As I was v o ,ry 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 animals 
ran a serious risk of injury, for they were al- 
together 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, myself, 
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 
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, 

47 B 


and the beautiful greyhounds loped lightly and 
gracefully alongside the horses. The coun- 
try 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 foot-hills 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 

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 
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' trail. 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 wolves 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 
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 

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 saw also 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 
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 too ; 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* 


Innately 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 
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 towards 
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 immedi- 
ately the second greyhound ranged along- 
side, and though he was not able to bite, be- 
cause the wolf kept running with its head 
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 
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 yel- 
ling 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 
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 dispatched 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, 
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 wolves which 
infested the neighborhood and worked very 
serious damage to the herds and flocks. The 
pack was composed of both greyhounds and 
deerhounds, the best being from the kennels 
of Colonel Williams and of Mr. Van Hummel, 
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 start- 
ed, though one of the greyhounds was 


and all the others were cut and exhausted. 
But often the wolves were killed without his 
aid. The first time the two biggest hounds 
deer-hounds or wire-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 partially 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 
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 rabid 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, 
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 in the 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 were caught by the 
pack. Whenever possible, the horsemen kept 
close enough to take an immediate hand in 
the fight, if the quarry was a full-grown wolf, 
and thus save the dogs from the terrible pun- 
ishment they were otherwise certain to receive. 
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 dogs to 
overcome and slay unaided a big timber wolf. 
Several times the feat was performed 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 

Once or twice the so-called Russian wolf- 
hounds or silky coated greyhounds, the 
" borzois," have been imported and tried in 
wolf-hunting on the western plains ; but hith- 
erto they have not shown themselves equal, at 
either running or fighting, to the big American- 
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 Europe, to per- 
form such feats of courage, endurance, and 
strength, in chasing and killing dangerous 
game, as the homebred greyhounds of Colonel 




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- 
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 marvellous 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 
hung instead of founding a family which would 
revere his name as that of a very capable, al- 
though not in all respects a conventionally 
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 fact 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 
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 

IN CO WBO Y LAND. 2 1 1 

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 

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, 
I was out hunting some lost horses. They 
had strayed from the range three months be- 
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 
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 come 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 7 s 
the justice of the peace ? ' says I to the bar- 

" ' There ain't no justice of the peace,' 
says he/ the justice of the peace got shot.' 


" * Well, where 's the constable ? ' says I, 

" * Why, it was him that shot the justice of 
the peace 1 ' 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 ? ' 

u * It 's for stealin' a horse,' says I. 

Then by God you '11 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- 
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 ; ' well, 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 '11 do,' 
and I walked off. 

" So I went off to his house and I laid down 
behind some sage-brushes 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 I ' 

" 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. 

The " town " where the judge above- 
mentioned dwelt was one of those squalid, 
pretentiously named little clusters of make- 
shift 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 Dakotas, 
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 western- 
er 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, wherever 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 
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 justice. 

One of my valued friends in the mountains, 
and one of the best hunters with whom I ever 
travelled, 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 
reasons. He was pre-eminently a philoso- 
pher, of a happy, sceptical turn of mind. He 
had no prejudices. He never looked down, 
as so many hard characters do, upon a per- 
son possessing a different code of ethics. 
His attitude was one of broad, genial toler* 
ance. He saw nothing out of the way in the 
fact that he had himself been a road-agent, 
a professional 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 

IN* CO WBO Y LAND. 2 1 7 

naturally a staunch 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 understanding that they 
needed an apology as he would have been in- 
capable of being guilty of mere vulgar boast- 
fulness. He did not often allude to his 
past career at all. When he did, he recited 
its incidents perfectly naturally and simply, 
as events, without any reference to or regard 
for their ethical significance. 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 surroundings 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 in- 
difference : 

" 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, and there was a reward on him of 
three thousand 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- 
relled 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 disputes 
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, ' we want to 
borrow your guns ; we are goin' to kill Fowler.' 

" ' 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 'r' goin' to do with 
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, 7 
says I, * if I had known them men was after 
you, I 'd never have let them have them guns 
nohow/ says I. That was n'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 New Mexico to be 
made a justice of the peace. Simpson laughed 
and continued : 

"That Fowler was a funny fellow. 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 I " 

" 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, c 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 should n't earn that 
twenty-five dollars a day 1 ' 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 Fow- 
ler, " and," said he, " the moment I saw him 
I knowed he felt mean, for he begun to 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, 
* I'll 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. 
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 civiliz- 
ation, 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 bestowed 
by outsiders, with small regard to the wishes 
of the person named. Ordinarily the name 
refers to some easily recognizable accident of 
origin, occupation, or aspect ; as witness the 
innumerable Dutcheys, Frcncheys, Kentucks, 
Texas Jacks, Bronco Bills, Bear Joes, Buck- 
skins, Red Jims, and the like. Sometimes it 
is apparently meaningless ; one of 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 i6th 1893 ^er Sir : I see in the newspapers 
that your club the Daniel Boon and Davey Crockityou 
Intend to erect a fruntier Cabin at the world's Far at 
Chicago to represent the erley Pianears of our coun- 
try I would like to see you maik a success I have 
all my life been a fruntiersman and feel interested in 
your undertaking and I hoap you wile get a good assort- 
ment 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 and 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 ail day John- 
son 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 savagery, 
of mere uncouthness, or of an odd combina- 
tion of genuine humor with simple acceptance 
of facts as they are. On one occasion I ex- 
pressed some surprise at learning that a cer- 
tain Mrs. P. had suddenly married, though 
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 1 " 
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 3 
couple of times, is a "broke horse." My 


present 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 coun- 
try. One summer on reaching the ranch I 
was entertained with the usual accounts of the 
adventures and misadventures which had be- 
fallen 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 with his wife to see the Bad Lands, and 
they asked if we could rig them up a team, 
and we said we guessed we could, and Foley s 
boy and I did ; but it ran away with him and 
broke his leg ! He was here for a month. I 
guess he did n'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 mquisitive commercial traveller : " How 
many people lives here ? Eleven counting 
the chickens when they're all in town 1 " 

My foreman continued : " By George, there 
was something that professor said afterwards 
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 rft run away. I esteemed that team 
full as liable not to run away as it was to run 
away," concluded my foreman, evidently deem- 
ing this as good a warranty of gentleness as 
the most exacting could 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 horseman 
was killed on the round-up near Belfield, his 
horse bucking and falling on him. u 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 inevitable 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 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 week of 
October, 1891, in the first heavy snowstorm of 
the season. Yet he was a skilled plainsman, 
on ground he knew well, and just before 
straying himself, he successfully instructed 
two men who did not know the country 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 towards 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 look-out, so as not to 
pass over the dim trail unawares in the dusk 
and the storm. They followed his advice, and 
reached camp safely ; and after they had left 
him nobody ever again saw him alive. Evi- 


dently he himself, plodding northwards, passed 
over the road without seeing it in the gather- 
ing gloom ; probably he struck it at some 
point where the ground was bad, and the dim 
trail in consequence disappeared entirely, 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 recog- 
nized 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 res- 
olute, self-confident man, and he determined 
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 of life, and walked 
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 downwards, 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 
handling 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 
early years of my residence there, several men 
living or travelling in the country were slain 
by small war-parties of young braves. All the 
old-time trappers and hunters could tell stir- 
ring 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, cow- 
boys, and settlers ; the whites retaliated when- 
ever they got a chance, but, as always in Indian 
warfare, the sly, lurking, bloodthirsty savages 
inflicted much more loss than they suffered. 

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 flat-iron. 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 companions 
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 morning." 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 breakfast. Suddenly two shots 
were heard down the river, and in another 
moment a mounted Indian swept towards 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 

4-6 B 


man who had gone down the river appeared, 
out of breath with his desperate run, having 
been surprised by several Indians, and just 
succeeding 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 practised 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 inured to every 
kind of hardship and danger, they set to work 
with cool resolution to make as effective a de- 
fence 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 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 warriors 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, endeavoring 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 ad- 
vantage over their enemies, in that whereas 
they lay still and entirely concealed, the Indians 
of course had to move from cover to cover in 
order to approach, and so had at times to 
expose themselves. 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 it, 
and was killed among the bedding that lay by 
the smouldering 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 himself 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 skirmishing, which resulted in nothing 
more serious to the whites than in two of them 
being slightly wounded, the Sioux became 
disheartened by the loss they were suffering 
and withdrew, 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 ex- 
cept 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 settle' 


ment. Since 1879, there has been but little 
regular Indian fighting in the North, though 
there have been one or two very tedious and 
wearisome campaigns waged against the 
Apaches in the South. Even in the North, 
however, there have been occasional upris- 
ings which had to be quelled by the regular 

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 
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 we 
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 travelling 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 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 sur- 
veyor, in concluding, described his experience 
in going through the Crow Reservation. 

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, happened 
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 perfor- 
mance of many dextrous 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 order- 
ed to go to the reservation. A body of 
cavalry, including Captain Edwards' troop, 
was accordingly marched thither, and found the 
Crow warriors, mounted on their war ponies 


and dressed in their striking battle-garb, wait- 
ing on a hill. 

The position of troops at the beginning oi 
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 attacked 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 hill-top showed a sullen and 
threatening front, and the troops advanced 
slowly towards 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 
down towards 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, while 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 towards 
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 parley 
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 dried a courier ar- 
rived with orders to the troops to go back to 

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 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 7 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 warriors should be invulner- 
able 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 irritating, incidents of the affair was 
to see the plumed and painted warriors race 
headlong 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 composure 
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 govern- 


ment 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 v The disappearance of the herder of course 
attracted attention, and a search was organ- 
ized by the cavalry. At first the Indians stout- 
ly 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 acknowledged 
that he had been murdered by two of their 
band, though at first they refused to give their 
names. The commander of the post de- 
manded 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 counsel 
with the tribe, told the commander that they 
had no power to surrender the murderers, 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 them come into 


the agency in half an hour." The chiefs ac- 
quiesced, 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 hill-side 
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 latter 
had to fire a volley, which laid low the assail- 
ant; the other, his horse having been shot, 
was killed in the brush, fighting to the last. 
All the while, from the moment the two doomed 
braves appeared until they fell, the Chey- 
ennes on the hill-side had been steadily sing- 
ing 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. 

Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be 
very superstitious. They lead lives too hard 
and practical, and have too little imagination 
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, 
weather-beaten 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 
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 camps, 
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 attri- 
bute, both at the time and still more in re- 
membrance, weird and elfin traits to what was 
merely some abnormally wicked and cunning 
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 partner 
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 particularly wild and 
lonely pass through which ran a small stream , 
said to contain many beaver. The pass had 
an evil reputation because the year before a 
solitary hunter who had wandered into it was 
there slain, seemingly by a wild beast, the 
half-eaten remains being afterwards found by 
some mining prospectors who had passed his 
camp only the night before. 

The memory of this event, however, weighed 
very lightly with the two trappers, 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 onwards 
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. Bancroft Library 

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 
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 
tarere 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 began 
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 footprints 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 legs." 
Bauman laughed at this, but his partner in- 
sisted that he was right, and upon again ex- 
amining the tracks with a torch, they certainly 
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 pos- 
sibly be those of a human being, and coming 
to the conclusion that they could not be, the 
two men rolled up in their blankets, 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 afterwards he heard 
the smashing of the underwood as the thing, 
whatever it was, rushed off into the impenetra- 
ble 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 together 
all day, and returned to camp towards 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 des 


troyed 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 roaring 
fire throughout the night, one or the other sit- 
ting on guard most of the time. About mid- 
night the thing came down through the forest 
opposite, across the brook, and stayed there 
on the hill-side 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 sinister 
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- 
six hours, decided that they would shoulder 
their packs and leave the valley that afternoon. 
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. However, 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, picking 
up trap after trap, each one empty. On first 
leaving camp they had the disagreeable sen- 
sation 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 gather these 
and bring them in, while his companion went 
ahead to camp and make ready the packs. 

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- 
wards he marked with some uneasiness how 
low the sun was getting. As he hurried to- 
wards 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 twilight 
in which objects at a distance glimmered in- 
distinctly. There was nothing to break the 
ghostly stillness which, when there is no 
breeze, always broods over these sombre 
primeval 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 upwards. Near it lay the 
packs, wrapped and arranged. At first 
Bauman 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- 
wards 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 gambolled 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 devil, 
some great goblin-beast, abandoned every- 
thing but his rifle and struck off at speed down 
the pass, not halting until he reached the bea- 
ver meadows where the hobbled ponies were 
still grazing. Mounting, he rode onwards 
through the night, until far beyond the reach 
of pursuit