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COPYRIGHT DEPOSm 



OUTDOOR PASTIMES OF AN 
AMERICAN HUNTER 



BOOKS BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT 
PUBLISHED BT CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

OUTDOOR PASTIMES OF AN AMERICAN HUNTER. 

New Edition. Illustrated. 8vo . . $3.00 net. 

OLIVER CROMWELL. Illustrated. 8vo . . . $2.00 

THE ROUGH RIDERS. Illustrated. 8vo . . $1.50 

THE ROOSEVELT BOOK. Selections from the Writ- 
ings of Theodore Roosevelt. 16mo . 50 cents net 




G>/Hfr,^M. M/lt /„/ /;A.-/r//^i/. ATm-Yorft. 



OUTDOOR PASTIMES 

OF AN 

AMERICAN HUNTER 



BY 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT 



ILLUSTRATED 



NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1908 



i LIBRARY of CONGriESS 
Two Copies Retv:V«'.< 
FEB 1 !d08 

OUSSA XXc. Aiu 



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COPYRIGHT, 1893, 1895, 1897, 1904, BY 

FOREST AND STREAM PUBLISHING COMPANY 

COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY THE 

MACMILLAN COMPANY 

COPYRIGHT, 1905, 1907, 1908, BY 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



All rights reserved 







I 



INTRODUCTION TO SECOND EDITION 

Chapters XII and XIII relate to experiences that occurred 
since the first edition of this volume was published. The 
photographs in Chapter XII were taken by Dr. Alexander 
Lambert; those in Chapter XIII by Mrs. Herbert Wadsworth 
and Mr. Clinedinst. 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

The White House, January I, 1908. 



TO 
JOHN BURROUGHS 

Dear Oom John : — Every lover of outdoor life must feel 
a sense of affectionate obligation to you. Your writings appeal 
to all w^ho care for the life of the vv^oods and the fields, whether 
their tastes keep them in the homely, pleasant farm country or 
lead them into the wilderness. It is a good thing for our peo- 
ple that you should have lived ; and surely no man can wish 
to have more said of him. 

I wish to express my hearty appreciation of your warfare 
against the sham nature-writers — those whom you have called 
" the yellow journalists of the woods." From the days of ^sop 
to the days of Reinecke Fuchs, and from the days of Reinecke 
Fuchs to the present time, there has been a distinct and attrac- 
tive place in literature for those who write avowed fiction in 
which the heroes are animals with human or semi-human attri- 
butes. This fiction serves a useful purpose in many ways, even 
in the way of encouraging people to take the right view of out- 
door life and outdoor creatures ; but it is unpardonable for any 
observer of nature to write fiction and then publish it as truth, 
and he who exposes and wars against such action is entitled to 
respect and support. You in your own person have illustrated 
what can be done by the lover of nature who has trained him- 
self to keen observation, who describes accurately what is thus 
observed, and who, finally, possesses the additional gift of writ- 
ing with charm and interest. 

You were with me on one of the trips described in this 
volume, and I trust that to look over it will recall the pleasant 
days we spent together. 

Your friend, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

The White House, October 2, 1905. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 



PAGE 

With the Cougar Hounds i 



CHAPTER II 
A Colorado Bear Hunt 68 

CHAPTER III 
Wolf-Coursing . . lOO 

CHAPTER IV 

Hunting in the Cattle Country; The Prongbuck 133 

CHAPTER V 

A Shot at a Mountain Sheep 181 

CHAPTER VI 
The Whitetail Deer 193 

CHAPTER VII 

The Mule-Deer or Rocky Mountain Blacktail . 224 

xi 



xii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VIII 

PAGE 

The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk 256 

CHAPTER IX 

Wilderness Reserves; The Yellowstone Park. . 287 

CHAPTER X 
Books on Big Game 318 

CHAPTER XI 
At Home 339 

CHAPTER XII 

In the Louisiana Canebrakes 360 

CHAPTER XIII 

Small Country Neighbors c 391 



*^* Seven of these Chapters have been recently written ; the others have 
been revised and added to since they originally appeared in the publications of 
the Boone and Crockett Club and in Mr. Caspar Whitney's "Deer Family." 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Theodore Roosevelt Frontispiece ^ 

Photogravure from a photograph. facing 

PAGE 

GOFF AND THE PaCK 5 . 

Turk and a Bobcat in Top of a Pinyon ...... 12 ^ 

Bobcat in Pinyon 16 / 

Starting for a Hunt 33 . 

The First Cougar Killed 37^ 

After the Fight 44 / 

Cougar in a Tree 50 

Barking Treed 63 / 

Starting for Camp 68 ' 

At Dinner 7^ -^ 

The Pack Strikes the Fresh Bear Trail 77 

Death of the Big Bear 83 / 

Stewart and the Bobcat 86 

The Pack Baying the Bear 88 

A Doily Bear gi 

The Big Bear 94 

Starting Toward the Wolf Grounds loi 

Greyhounds Resting after a Run 104 

xiii 



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING 
PAGE 

At the Tail of the Chuck Wagon io8 

The Big D Cow Pony H2 

Abernethy and Coyote ii6 

Abernethy Returns from the Hunt 125 

Bony Moore and the Coyote 129 

On the Little Missouri 138 

Camping on the Antelope Grounds 156 

Ranch Wagon Returning from Hunt 182. 

Elkhorn Ranch 216 

The Ranch House 238 

The Ranch Veranda 248 

The Pack Train 264 

Trophies of a Successful Hunt 277 

Trophies in the White House Dining-Room 284 

Antelope in the Streets of Gardiner 294 

Blacktail Deer on Parade Ground 299 

Elk in Snow 304 

Oom John 309 

Bears and Tourists 311 

Grizzly Bear and Cook 314 

The Bear and the Chambermaid 316 

The North Room at Sagamore Hill 324 

Renown 341 

His First Buck , . , 343 

Algonquin and Skip 344 



ILLUSTRATIONS xv 



FACING 
PAGE 



Peter Rabbit 346 -' 

The Guinea Pigs 348 ^ 

Family Friends 350^ 

JosiAH 354/ 

Bleistein Jumping 356 . 

The Bear Hunters 366^ 

Listening for the Pack 376 ^ 

Audrey Takes the Bars 394 

The Stone Wall 402 / 

RoswELL Behaves Like a Gentleman \^A / 

RoswELL Fights for His Head 418 / 



*^* The cuts for Chapter I are from photographs taken by Philip B. 
Stewart ; those in Chapter II, from photographs taken by Dr. Alexander 
Lambert and Philip B. Stewart ; those in Chapter III, from photographs 
taken by Dr. Lambert and Sloan Simpson ; those in Chapter IX were ob- 
tained through Major Pitcher ; most of the others are from photographs taken 
by me or by members of my family. 



OUTDOOR PASTIMES OF 
AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

CHAPTER I 

WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 

In January, 1901, I started on a five weeks' cougar 
hunt from Meeker in Northwest Colorado. My com- 
panions were Mr. Philip B. Stewart and Dr. Gerald 
Webb, of Colorado Springs; Stewart was the captain of 
the victorious Yale nine of '86. We reached Meeker on 
January nth, after a forty mile drive from the railroad, 
through the bitter winter weather ; it was eighteen degrees 
below zero when we started. At Meeker we met John 
B. Goff, the hunter, and left town the next morning on 
horseback for his ranch, our hunting beginning that same 
afternoon, when after a brisk run our dogs treed a bobcat. 
After a fortnight Stewart and Webb returned, Goff and 
I staying out three weeks longer. We did not have to 
camp out, thanks to the warm-hearted hospitality of the 
proprietor and manager of the Keystone Ranch, and of 
the Mathes Brothers and Judge Foreman, both of whose 
ranches I also visited. The five weeks were spent hunt- 
ing north of the White River, most of the time in the 
neighborhood of Coyote Basin and Colorow Mountain. 
In midwinter, hunting on horseback in the Rockies is 



2 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

apt to be cold work, but we were too warmly clad to 
mind the weather. We wore heavy flannels, jackets lined 
with sheepskin, caps which drew down entirely over our 
ears, and on our feet heavy ordinary socks, german socks, 
and overshoes. Galloping through the brush and among 
the spikes of the dead cedars, meant that now and then 
one got snagged; I found tough overalls better than 
trousers; and most of the time I did not need the jacket, 
wearing my old buckskin shirt, which is to my mind a 
particularly useful and comfortable garment. 

It is a high, dry country, where the winters are usually 
very cold, but the snow not under ordinary circumstances 
very deep. It is wild and broken in character, the hills 
and low mountains rising in sheer slopes, broken by cliffs 
and riven by deeply cut and gloomy gorges and ravines. 
The sage-brush grows everj^where upon the flats and 
hillsides. Large open groves of pinyon and cedar are 
scattered over the peaks, ridges, and table-lands. Tall 
spruces cluster in the cold ravines. Cottonwoods grow 
along the stream courses, and there are occasional patches 
of scrub-oak and quaking asp. The entire country is 
taken up with cattle ranges wherever it is possible to get 
a sufficient water-supply, natural or artificial. Some 
thirty miles to the east and north the mountains rise 
higher, the evergreen forest becomes continuous, the snow 
lies deep all through the winter, and such Northern 
animals as the wolverene, lucivee, and snow-shoe rabbit 
are found. This high country is the summer home of the 
Colorado elk, now woefully diminished in numbers, and 
of the Colorado blacktail deer, which are still very plenti- 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 3 

ful, but which, unless better protected, will follow the elk 
in the next few decades. I am happy to say that there are 
now signs to show that the State is waking up to the need 
of protecting both elk and deer; the few remaining 
mountain sheep in Colorado are so successfully pro- 
tected that they are said to be increasing in numbers. In 
winter both elk and deer come down to the lower country, 
through a part of which I made my hunting trip. We 
did not come across any elk, but I have never, even in 
the old days, seen blacktail more abundant than they were 
in this region. The bucks had not lost their antlers, and 
were generally, but not always, found in small troops 
by themselves; the does, yearlings, and fawns — now al- 
most yearlings themselves — went in bands. They seemed 
tame, and we often passed close to them before they took 
alarm. Of course at that season it was against the law 
to kill them; and even had this not been so none of our 
party would have dreamed of molesting them. 

Flocks of Alaskan long-spurs and of rosy finches 
flitted around the ranch buildings ; but at that season there 
was not very much small bird life. 

The midwinter mountain landscape was very beauti- 
ful, whether under the brilliant blue sky of the day, or 
the starlight or glorious moonlight of the night, or when 
under the dying sun the snowy peaks, and the light clouds 
above, kindled into flame, and sank again to gold and 
amber and sombre purple. After the snow-storms the 
trees, almost hidden beneath the light, feathery masses, 
gave a new and strange look to the mountains, as if 
they were giant masses of frosted silver. Even the 



4 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

storms had a beauty of their own. The keen, cold air, 
the wonderful scenery, and the interest and excitement of 
the sport, made our veins thrill and beat with buoyant 
life. 

In cougar hunting the success of the hunter depends 
absolutely upon his hounds. As hounds that are not per- 
fectly trained are worse than useless, this means that 
success depends absolutely upon the man who trains and 
hunts the hounds. Goflf was one of the best hunters with 
whom I have ever been out, and he had trained his pack 
to a point of perfection for its special work which I have 
never known another such pack to reach. With the ex- 
ception of one new hound, which he had just purchased, 
and of a puppy, which was being trained, not one of the 
pack would look at a deer even when they were all as 
keen as mustard, were not on a trail, and when the deer 
got up but fifty yards or so from them. By the end of 
the hunt both the new hound and the puppy were entirely 
trustworthy; of course, Goff can only keep up his pack 
by continually including new or young dogs with the 
veterans. As cougar are only plentiful where deer are 
infinitely more plentiful, the first requisite for a good 
cougar hound is that it shall leave its natural prey, the 
deer, entirely alone. Gofif's pack ran only bear, cougar, 
and bobcat. Under no circumstances were they ever per- 
mitted to follow elk, deer, antelope or, of course, rabbit. 
Nor were they allowed to follow a wolf unless it was 
wounded ; for in such a rough country they would at once 
run out of sight and hearing, and moreover if they did 
overtake the wolf they would be so scattered as to come 




GOFF AND THE PACK 
From a photograph by Philip B. Stewart 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 5 

up singly and probably be overcome one after another. 
Being bold dogs they were always especially eager after 
wolf and coyote, and when they came across the trail of 
either, though they would not follow it, they would 
usually challenge loudly. If the circumstances were such 
that they could overtake the wolf in a body, it could make 
no effective fight against them, no matter how large and 
powerful. On the one or two occasions when this had 
occurred, the pack had throttled " Isegrim " without get- 
ting a scratch. 

As the dogs did all the work, we naturally became 
extremely interested in them, and rapidly grew to know 
the voice, peculiarities, and special abilities of each. 
There were eight hounds and four fighting dogs. The 
hounds were of the ordinary Eastern type, used from the 
Adirondacks to the Mississippi and the Gulf in the chase 
of deer and fox. Six of them were black and tan and 
two were mottled. They differed widely in size and 
voice. The biggest, and, on the whole, the most useful, 
was Jim, a very fast, powerful, and true dog with a great 
voice. When the animal was treed or bayed, Jim was 
especially useful because he never stopped barking; and 
we could only find the hounds, when at bay, by listening 
for the sound of their voices. Among the clififs and preci- 
pices the pack usually ran out of sight and hearing if 
the chase lasted any length of time. Their business was 
to bring the quarry to bay, or put it up a tree, and then 
to stay with it and make a noise until the hunters came 
up. During this hunt there were two or three occasions 
when they had a cougar up a tree for at least three hours 



6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

before we arrived, and on several occasions Gofif had 
known them to keep a cougar up a tree overnight and 
to be still barking around the tree when the hunters at 
last found them the following morning. Jim always 
did his share of the killing, being a formidable fighter, 
though too wary to take hold until one of the professional 
fighting dogs had seized. He was a great bully with the 
other dogs, robbing them of their food, and yielding only 
to Turk. He possessed great endurance, and very stout 
feet. 

On the whole the most useful dog next to Jim was 
old Boxer. Age had made Boxer slow, and in addition 
to this, the first cougar we tackled bit him through one 
hind leg, so that for the remainder of the trip he went 
on three legs, or, as Goff put it, " packed one leg " ; but 
this seemed not to interfere with his appetite, his en- 
durance, or his desire for the chase. Of all the dogs he 
was the best to puzzle out a cold trail on a bare hill- 
side, or in any difficult place. He hardly paid any heed 
to the others, always insisting upon working out the trail 
for himself, and he never gave up. Of course, the dogs 
were much more apt to come upon the cold than upon 
the fresh trail of a cougar, and it was often necessary 
for them to spend several hours in working out a track 
which was at least two days old. Both Boxer and Jim 
had enormous appetites. Boxer was a small dog and 
Jim a very large one, and as the relations of the pack 
among themselves were those of brutal wild-beast selfish- 
ness. Boxer had to eat very quickly if he expected to get 
anything when Jim was around. He never ventured to 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 7 

fight Jim, but in deep-toned voice appealed to heaven 
against the unrighteousness with which he was treated; 
and time and again such appeal caused me to sally out 
and rescue his dinner from Jim's highway robbery. 
Once, when Boxer was given a biscuit, which he tried 
to bolt whole, Jim simply took his entire head in his 
jaws, and convinced him that he had his choice of sur- 
rendering the biscuit, or sharing its passage down Jim's 
capacious throat. Boxer promptly gave up the biscuit, 
then lay on his back and wailed a protest to fate — his 
voice being deep rather than loud, so that on the trail, 
when heard at a distance, it sounded a little as if he 
was croaking. After killing a cougar we usually cut up 
the carcass and fed it to the dogs, if we did not expect 
another chase that day. They devoured it eagerly. Boxer, 
after his meal, always looking as if he had swallowed 
a mattress. 

Next in size to Jim was Tree'em. Tree'em was a 
good dog, but I never considered him remarkable until 
his feat on the last day of our hunt, to be afterward 
related. He was not a very noisy dog, and when " bark- 
ing treed " he had a meditative way of giving single 
barks separated by intervals of several seconds, all the 
time gazing stolidly up at the big, sinister cat which he 
was baying. Early in the hunt, in the course of a fight 
with one of the cougars, he received some injury to his 
tail, which made it hang down like a piece of old rope. 
Apparently it hurt him a good deal and we let him rest 
for a fortnight. This put him in great spirits and made 
him fat and strong, but only enabled him to recover 



8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

power over the root of the tail, while the tip hung down 
as before; it looked like a curved pump-handle when he 
tried to carry it erect. 

Lil and Nel were two very stanch and fast bitches, 
the only two dogs that could keep up to Jim in a quick 
burst. They had shrill voices. Their only failing was a 
tendency to let the other members of the pack cow them so 
that they did not get their full share of the food. It 
was not a pack in which a slow or timid dog had much 
chance for existence. They would all unite in the chase 
and the fierce struggle which usually closed it; but the 
instant the quarry was killed each dog resumed his nor- 
mal attitude of greedy anger or greedy fear toward the 
others. 

Another bitch rejoiced in the not very appropriate 
name of Pete. She was a most ardent huntress. In the 
middle of our trip she gave birth to a litter of puppies, 
but before they were two weeks old she would slip away 
after us and join with the utmost ardor in the hunting 
and fighting. Her brother Jimmie, although of the same 
age (both were young) , was not nearly as far advanced. 
He would run well on a fresh trail, but a cold trail or a 
long check always discouraged him and made him come 
back to Gofif. He was rapidly learning; a single beating 
taught him to let deer alone. The remaining hound, 
Bruno, had just been added to the pack. He showed ten- 
dencies both to muteness and babbling, and at times, if he 
thought himself unobserved, could not resist making a 
sprint after a deer; but he occasionally rendered good 
service. If Jim or Boxer gave tongue every member of 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 9 

the pack ran to the sound; but not a dog paid any heed 
to Jimmie or Bruno. Yet both ultimately became first- 
class hounds. 

The fighting dogs always trotted at the heels of the 
horses, which had become entirely accustomed to them, 
and made no objection when they literally rubbed against 
their heels. The fighters never left us until we came to 
where we could hear the hounds " barking treed," or 
with their quarry at bay. Then they tore in a straight 
line to the sound. They were the ones who were expected 
to do the seizing and take the punishment, though the 
minute they actually had hold of the cougar, the hounds 
all piled on too, and did their share of the killing; but 
the seizers fought the head while the hounds generally 
took hold behind. All of them, fighters and hounds alike, 
were exceedingly good-natured and affectionate with 
their human friends, though short-tempered to a degree 
with one another. The best of the fighters was old Turk, 
who was by blood half hound and half " Siberian blood- 
hound." Both his father and his mother were half-breeds 
of the same strains, and both were famous fighters. 
Once, when Gofif had wounded an enormous gray wolf 
in the hind leg, the father had overtaken it and fought 
it to a standstill. The two dogs together were an over- 
match for any wolf. Turk had had a sister who was as 
good as he was; but she had been killed the year before 
by a cougar which bit her through the skull; accidents 
being, of course, frequent in the pack, for a big cougar 
is an even more formidable opponent to dogs than a 
wolf. Turk's head and body were seamed with scars. 



lo AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

He had lost his lower fangs, but he was still a most for- 
midable dog. While we were at the Keystone Ranch 
a big steer which had been driven in, got on the fight, 
and the foreman, William Wilson, took Turk out to aid 
him. At first Turk did not grasp what was expected of 
him, because all the dogs were trained never to touch 
anything domestic — at the different ranches where we 
stopped the cats and kittens wandered about, perfectly 
safe, in the midst of this hard-biting crew of bear and 
cougar fighters. But when Turk at last realized that 
he was expected to seize the steer, he did the business 
with speed and thoroughness; he not only threw the steer, 
but would have killed it then and there had he not been, 
with much difficulty, taken away. Three dogs like Turk, 
in their prime and with their teeth intact, could, I be- 
lieve, kill an ordinary female cougar, and could hold 
even a big male so as to allow it to be killed with the 
knife. 

Next to Turk were two half-breeds between bull and 
shepherd, named Tony and Baldy. They were exceed- 
ingly game, knowing-looking little dogs, with a certain 
alert swagger that reminded one of the walk of some 
light-weight prize-fighters. In fights with cougars, 
bears, and lynx, they too had been badly mauled and had 
lost a good many of their teeth. Neither of the gallant 
little fellows survived the trip. Their place was taken 
by a white bulldog bitch, Queen, which we picked up 
at the Keystone Ranch; a very affectionate and good- 
humored dog, but, when her blood was aroused, a daunt- 
less though rather stupid fighter. Unfortunately she did 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS ii 

not seize by the head, taking hold of any part that was 
nearest. 

The pack had many interesting peculiarities, but none 
more so than the fact that four of them climbed trees. 
Only one of the hounds, little Jimmie, ever tried the feat; 
but of the fighters, not only Tony and Baldy but big 
Turk climbed every tree that gave them any chance. 
The pinyons and cedars were low, multi-forked, and 
usually sent off branches from near the ground. In con- 
sequence the dogs could, by industrious effort, work their 
way almost to the top. The photograph of Turk and the 
bobcat in the pinyon (facing p. 12) shows them at an alti- 
tude of about thirty feet above the ground. Now and 
then a dog would lose his footing and come down with a 
whack which sounded as if he must be disabled, but after 
a growl and a shake he would start up the tree again. 
They could not fight well while in a tree, and were often 
scratched or knocked to the ground by a cougar; and 
when the quarry was shot out of its perch and seized 
by the expectant throng below, the dogs in the tree, yelp- 
ing with eager excitement, dived headlong down through 
the branches, regardless of consequences. 

The horses were stout, hardy, surefooted beasts, not 
very fast, but able to climb like goats, and to endure an 
immense amount of work. Goff and I each used two for 
the trip. 

The bear were all holed up for the winter, and so 
our game was limited to cougars and bobcats. In the 
books the bobcat is always called a lynx, which it of 
course is; but whenever a hunter or trapper speaks of a 



12 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

lynx (which he usually calls " link," feeling dimly that 
the other pronunciation is a plural), he means a lucivee. 
Bobcat is a good distinctive name, and it is one which 
I think the book people might with advantage adopt; 
for wild-cat, which is the name given to the small lynx 
in the East, is already pre-empted by the true wild-cat 
of Europe. Like all people of European descent who 
have gone into strange lands, we Americans have christ- 
ened our wild beasts with a fine disregard for their 
specific and generic relations. We called the bison 
" buffalo " as long as it existed, and we still call the big 
stag an " elk," instead of using for it the excellent term 
wapiti; on the other hand, to the true elk and the rein- 
deer we gave the new names moose and caribou — ex- 
cellent names, too, by the way. The prong buck is always 
called antelope, though it is not an antelope at all; and 
the white goat is not a goat; while the distinctive name of 
" bighorn " is rarely used for the mountain sheep. In 
most cases, however, it is mere pedantry to try to upset 
popular custom in such matters; and where, as with the 
bobcat, a perfectly good name is taken, it would be better 
for scientific men to adopt it. I may add that in this 
particular of nomenclature we are no worse sinners than 
other people. The English in Ceylon, the English and 
Dutch in South Africa, and the Spanish in South Amer- 
ica, have all shown the same genius for misnaming beasts 
and birds. 

Bobcats were very numerous where we were hunting. 
They fed chiefly upon the rabbits, which fairly swarmed; 
mostly cotton-tails, but a few jacks. Contrary to the 




TURK AND A BOBCAT IN TOP OF A PINYON 
From a photograph by Philip B. Stewart 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 13 

popular belief, the winter is in many places a time of 
plenty for carnivorous wild beasts. In this place, for 
instance, the abundance of deer and rabbits made good 
hunting for both cougar and bobcat, and all those we 
killed were as fat as possible, and in consequence weighed 
more than their inches promised. The bobcats are very 
fond of prairie dogs, and haunt the dog towns as soon 
as spring comes and the inhabitants emerge from their 
hibernation. They sometimes pounce on higher game. 
We came upon an eight months' fawn — very nearly a 
yearling — which had been killed by a big male bobcat; 
and Judge Foreman informed me that near his ranch, 
a few years previously, an exceptionally large bobcat had 
killed a yearling doe. Bobcats will also take lambs and 
young pigs, and if the chance occurs will readily seize 
their small kinsman, the house cat. 

Bobcats are very fond of lurking round prairie-dog 
towns as soon as the prairie dogs come out in spring. 
In this part of Colorado, by the way, the prairie dogs 
were of an entirely different species from the common 
kind of the plains east of the Rockies. 

We found that the bobcats sometimes made their lairs 
along the rocky ledges or in holes in the cut banks, and 
sometimes in thickets, prowling about during the night, 
and now and then even during the day. We never chased 
them unless the dogs happened to run across them by 
accident when questing for cougar, or when we were re- 
turning home after a day when we had failed to find 
cougar. Usually the cat gave a good run, occasionally 
throwing out the dogs by doubling or jack-knifing. Two 



14 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

or three times one of them gave us an hour's sharp trot- 
ting, cantering, and galloping through the open cedar 
and pinyon groves on the table-lands; and the runs some- 
times lasted for a much longer period when the dogs had 
to go across ledges and through deep ravines. 

On one of our runs a party of ravens fluttered along 
from tree to tree beside us, making queer gurgling noises 
and evidently aware that they might expect to reap a 
reward from our hunting. Ravens, multitudes of mag- 
pies, and golden and bald eagles were seen continually, 
and all four flocked to any carcass which was left in the 
open. The eagle and the raven are true birds of the 
wilderness, and in a way their presence both height- 
ened and relieved the iron desolation of the wintry 
mountains. 

Over half the cats we started escaped, getting into 
caves or deep holes in washouts. In the other instances 
they went up trees and were of course easily shot. Tony 
and Baldy would bring them out of any hole into which 
they themselves could get. After their loss, Lil, who was 
a small hound, once went into a hole in a washout after 
a cat. After awhile she stopped barking, though we 
could still hear the cat growling. What had happened 
to her we did not know. We spent a couple of hours 
calling to her and trying to get her to come out, but she 
neither came out nor answered, and, as sunset was ap- 
proaching and the ranch was some miles off, we rode 
back there, intending to return with spades in the morn- 
ing. However, by breakfast we found that Lil had come 
back. We supposed that she had got on the other side 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 15 

of the cat and had been afraid or unable to attack it; so 
that as Collins the cow-puncher, who was a Southerner, 
phrased it, " she just naturally stayed in the hole " until 
some time during the night the cat went out and she fol- 
lowed. When once hunters and hounds have come into 
the land, it is evident that the bobcats which take refuge 
in caves have a far better chance of surviving than those 
which make their lairs in the open and go up trees. But 
trees are sure havens against their wilderness foes. Gofif 
informed me that he once came in the snow to a place 
where the tracks showed that some coyotes had put a 
bobcat up a tree, and had finally abandoned the effort to 
get at it. Any good fighting dog will kill a bobcat; 
but an untrained dog, even of large size, will probably 
fail, as the bobcat makes good use of both teeth and 
claws. The cats we caught frequently left marks on some 
of the pack. We found them very variable in size. My 
two largest — both of course males — weighed respectively 
thirty-one and thirty-nine pounds. The latter, Goff said, 
was of exceptional size, and as large as any he had ever 
killed. The full-grown females went down as low as 
eighteen pounds, or even lower. 

When the bobcats were in the treetops we could get 
up very close. They looked like large malevolent pussies. 
I once heard one of them squall defiance when the dogs 
tried to get it out of a hole. Ordinarily they confined 
themselves to a low growling. Stewart and Goff went up 
the trees with their cameras whenever we got a bobcat 
in a favorable position, and endeavored to take its photo- 
graph. Sometimes they were very successful. Although 



1 6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

they were frequently within six feet of a cat, and occa- 
sionally even poked it in order to make it change its posi- 
tion, I never saw one make a motion to jump on them. 
Two or three times on our approach the cat jumped from 
the tree almost into the midst of the pack, but it was 
so quick that it got ofif before they could seize it. They 
invariably put it up another tree before it had gone any 
distance. 

Hunting the bobcat was only an incident. Our true 
quarry was the cougar. I had long been anxious to make 
a regular hunt after cougar in a country where the beasts 
were plentiful and where we could follow them with 
a good pack of hounds. Astonishingly little of a satis- 
factory nature has been left on record about the cougar 
by hunters, and in most places the chances for observa- 
tion of the big cats steadily grow less. They have been 
thinned out almost to the point of extermination through- 
out the Eastern States. In the Rocky Mountain region 
they are still plentiful in places, but are growing less 
so; while on the contrary the wolf, which was extermi- 
nated even more quickly in the East, in the West has 
until recently been increasing in numbers. In north- 
western Colorado a dozen years ago, CQUgars were far 
more plentiful than wolves; whereas at the present day 
the wolf is probably the more numerous. Nevertheless, 
there are large areas, here and there among the Rockies, 
in which cougars will be fairly plentiful for years to 
come. 

No American beast has been the subject of so much 
loose writing or of such wild fables as the cougar. Even 




BOBCAT IN PINYON 
From a photograph by Philip B. Stewart 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 17 

its name is unsettled. In the Eastern States it is usually 
called panther or painter; in the Western States, moun- 
tain lion, or, toward the South, Mexican lion. The Span- 
ish-speaking people usually call it simply lion. It is, 
however, sometimes called cougar in the West and South- 
west of our country, and in South America, puma. As 
it is desirable where possible not to use a name that is 
misleading and is already appropriated to some entirely 
different animal, it is best to call it cougar. 

The cougar is a very singular beast, shy and elusive 
to an extraordinary degree, very cowardly and yet blood- 
thirsty and ferocious, varying wonderfully in size, and 
subject, like many other beasts, to queer freaks of char- 
acter in occasional individuals. This fact of individual 
variation in size and temper is almost always ignored 
in treating of the animal; whereas it ought never to be 
left out of sight. 

The average writer, and for the matter of that, the 
average hunter, where cougars are scarce, knows little 
or nothing of them, and in describing them merely draws 
upon the stock of well-worn myths which portray them 
as terrible foes of man, as dropping on their prey from 
trees where they have been lying in wait, etc., etc. Very 
occasionally there appears an absolutely trustworthy ac- 
count like that by Dr. Hart Merriam in his "Adirondack 
Mammals." But many otherwise excellent writers are 
wholly at sea in reference to the cougar. Thus one of 
the best books on hunting in the far West in the old days 
is by Colonel Dodge. Yet when Colonel Dodge came to 
describe the cougar he actually treated of it as two species, 



1 8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

one of which, the mountain lion, he painted as a most 
ferocious and dangerous opponent of man; while the 
other, the panther, was described as an abject coward, 
which would not even in the last resort defend itself 
against man — the two of course being the same animal. 

However, the wildest of all fables about the cougar 
has been reserved not for hunter or popular writer, but 
for a professed naturalist. In his charmingly written 
book, " The Naturalist in La Plata," Mr. Hudson act- 
ually describes the cougar as being friendly to man, dis- 
interestedly adverse to harming him, and at the same 
time an enemy of other large carnivores. Mr. Hudson 
bases his opinion chiefly upon the assertions of the 
Gauchos. The Gauchos, however, go one degree beyond 
Mr. Hudson, calling the puma the '' friend of Chris- 
tians"; whereas Mr. Hudson only ventures to attribute 
to the beast humanitarian, not theological, preferences. 
As a matter of fact, Mr. Hudson's belief in the cougar's 
peculiar friendship for man, and peculiar enmity to other 
large beasts of prey, has not one particle of foundation 
in fact as regards at any rate the North American form — 
and it is hardly to be supposed that the South American 
form would alone develop such extraordinary traits. For 
instance, Mr. Hudson says that the South American 
puma when hunted will attack the dogs in preference to 
the man. In North America he will fight the dog if 
the dog is nearest, and if the man comes to close quarters 
at the same time as the dog he will attack the man if 
anything more readily, evidently recognizing in him his 
chief opponent. He will often go up a tree for a single 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 19 

dog. On Mr. Hudson's theory he must do this because 
of his altruistic feeling toward the dog. In fact, Mr. 
Hudson could make out a better case of philo-humanity 
for the North American wolf than for the North Ameri- 
can cougar. Equally absurd is it to talk, as Mr. Hudson 
does, of the cougar as the especial enemy of other fero- 
cious beasts. Mr. Hudson speaks of it as attacking and 
conquering the jaguar. Of this I know nothing, but such 
an extraordinary statement should be well fortified with 
proofs; and if true it must mean that the jaguar is an 
infinitely less formidable creature than it has been 
painted. In support of his position Mr. Hudson alludes 
to the stories about the cougar attacking the grizzly bear. 
Here I am on ground that I do know. It is true that 
an occasional old hunter asserts that the cougar does this, 
but the old hunter who makes such an assertion also in- 
variably insists that the cougar is a ferocious and habitual 
man-killer, and the two statements rest upon equally 
slender foundations of fact. I have never yet heard of 
a single authentic instance of a cougar interfering with 
a full-grown big bear. It will kill bear cubs if it gets a 
chance; but then so will the fox and the fisher, not to 
speak of the wolf. In 1894, ^ cougar killed a colt on a 
brushy river bottom a dozen miles below my ranch on the 
Little Missouri. I went down to visit the carcass and 
found that it had been taken possession of by a large 
grizzly. Both I and the hunter who was with me were 
very much interested in what had occurred, and after a 
careful examination of the tracks we concluded that the 
bear had arrived on the second night after the kill. He 



20 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

had feasted heartily on the remains, while the cougar, 
whose tracks were evident here and there at a little dis- 
tance from the carcass, had seemingly circled around it, 
and had certainly not interfered with the bear, or even 
ventured to approach him. Now, if a cougar would ever 
have meddled with a large bear it would surely have 
been on such an occasion as this. If very much pressed 
by hunger, a large cougar will, if it gets the chance, kill 
a wolf; but this is only when other game has failed, and 
under all ordinary circumstances neither meddles with 
the other. When I was down in Texas, hunting peccaries 
on the Nueces, I was in a country where both cougar and 
jaguar were to be found; but no hunter had ever heard 
of either molesting the other, though they were all of 
the opinion that when the two met the cougar gave the 
path to his spotted brother. Of course, it is never safe 
to dogmatize about the unknown in zoology, or to gen- 
eralize on insufficient evidence; but as regards the North 
American cougar there is not a particle of truth of any 
kind, sort, or description in the statement that he is the 
enemy of the larger carnivores, or the friend of man; 
and if the South American cougar, which so strongly 
resembles its Northern brother in its other habits, has de- 
veloped on these two points the extraordinary peculiar- 
ities of which Mr. Hudson speaks, full and adequate 
proof should be forthcoming; and this proof is now 
wholly wanting. 

Fables aside, the cougar is a very interesting creature. 
It is found from the cold, desolate plains of Patagonia 
to north of the Canadian line, and lives alike among the 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 21 

snow-clad peaks of the Andes and in the steaming forests 
of the Amazon. Doubtless careful investigation will dis- 
close several varying forms in an animal found over such 
immense tracts of country and living under such utterly 
diverse conditions. But in its essential habits and traits, 
the big, slinking, nearly uni-colored cat seems to be much 
the same everywhere, whether living in mountain, open 
plain, or forest, under arctic cold or tropic heat. When 
the settlements become thick, it retires to dense forest, 
dark swamp or inaccessible mountain gorge, and moves 
about only at night. In wilder regions it not infrequent- 
ly roams during the day and ventures freely into the 
open. Deer are its customary prey where they are 
plentiful, bucks, does, and fawns being killed indififer- 
ently. Usually the deer is killed almost instantaneously, 
but occasionally there is quite a scuffle, in which the cou- 
gar may get bruised, though, as far as I know, never 
seriously. It is also a dreaded enemy of sheep, pigs, 
calves, and especially colts, and when pressed by hun- 
ger a big male cougar will kill a full-grown horse or 
cow, moose or wapiti. It is the special enemy of moun- 
tain sheep. In 1886, while hunting white goats north 
of Clarke's fork of the Columbia, in a region where cou- 
gar were common, I found them preying as freely on 
the goats as on the deer. It rarely catches antelope, but 
is quick to seize rabbits, other small beasts, and even por- 
cupines, as well as bobcats, coyotes and foxes. 

No animal, not even the wolf, is so rarely seen or so 
difflcult to get without dogs. On the other hand, no other 
wild beast of its size and power is so easy to kill by the aid 



22 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

of dogs. There are many contradictions in its character. 
Like the American wolf, it is certainly very much afraid 
of man; yet it habitually follows the trail of the hunter or 
solitary traveller, dogging his footsteps, itself always un- 
seen. I have had this happen to me personally. When 
hungry it will seize and carry off any dog; yet it will 
sometimes go up a tree when pursued even by a single 
small dog wholly unable to do it the least harm. It is 
small wonder that the average frontier settler should 
grow to regard almost with superstition the great furtive 
cat which he never sees, but of whose presence he is ever 
aware, and of whose prowess sinister proof is sometimes 
afforded by the deaths not alone of his lesser stock, but 
even of his milch cow or saddle horse. 

The cougar is as large, as powerful, and as formidably 
armed as the Indian panther, and quite as well able to 
attack man; yet the instances of its having done so are 
exceedingly rare. The vast majority of the tales to this 
effect are undoubtedly inventions. But it is foolish to 
deny that such attacks on human beings ever occur. 
There are a number of authentic instances, the latest that 
has come to my knowledge being related in the following 
letter, of May 15, 1893, written to Dr. Merriam by Pro- 
fessor W. H. Brewer, of Yale: '' In 1880 I visited the 
base of Mount Shasta, and stopped a day to renew the 
memories of 1862, when I had climbed and measured this 
mountain. Panthers were numerous and were so destruc- 
tive to sheep that poisoning by strychnine was common. 
A man living near who had (as a young hunter) gone up 
Mount Shasta with us in '62, now married (1880) and 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 23 

on a ranch, came to visit me, with a little son five or six 
years old. This boy when younger, but two or three years 
old, if I recollect rightly, had been attacked by a pan- 
ther. He was playing in the yard by the house when 
a lean two-thirds grown panther came into the yard and 
seized the child by the throat. The child screamed, and 
alarmed the mother (who told me the story) . She seized 
a broom and rushed out, while an old man at the house 
seized the gun. The panther let go the child and was 
shot. I saw the boy. He had the scars of the panther's 
teeth in the cheek, and below on the under side of the 
lower jaw, and just at the throat. This was the only case 
that came to my knowledge at first hand of a panther at- 
tacking a human being in that State, except one or two 
cases where panthers, exasperated by wounds, had fought 
with the hunters who had wounded them." This was a 
young cougar, bold, stupid, and very hungry. Gofif told 
me of one similar case where a cougar stalked a young 
girl, but was shot just before it was close enough to make 
the final rush. As I have elsewhere related, I know of 
two undoubted cases, one in Mississippi, one in Florida, 
where a negro was attacked and killed by a cougar, while 
alone in a swamp at night. But these occurred many 
years ago. The instance related by Professor Brewer is 
the only one I have come across happening in recent 
years, in which the cougar actually seized a human being 
with the purpose of making prey of it; though doubtless 
others have occurred. I have never known the American 
wolf actually to attack a human being from hunger or 
to make prey of him; whereas the Old- World wolf, like 



24 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



the Old-World leopard, undoubtedly sometimes turns 
man-eater. 

Even when hunted the cougar shows itself, as a rule, 
an abject coward, not to be compared in courage and 
prowess with the grizzly bear, and but little more dan- 
gerous to man than is the wolf under similar circum- 
stances. Without dogs it is usually a mere chance that 
one is killed. Goff has killed some 300 cougars during 
the sixteen years he has been hunting in northwestern 
Colorado, yet all but two of them were encountered while 
he was with his pack; although this is in a region where 
they were plentiful. When hunted with good dogs their 
attention is so taken up with the pack that they have 
little time to devote to men. When hunted without dogs 
they never charge unless actually cornered, and, as a gen- 
eral rule, not even then, unless the man chooses to come 
right up to them. I knew of one Indian being killed 
in 1887, and near my ranch a cowboy was mauled; but 
in the first instance the cougar had been knocked down 
and the Indian was bending over it when it revived; 
and in the next instance, the cowboy literally came right 
on top of the animal. Now, under such circumstances 
either a bull elk or a blacktail buck will occasionally 
fight; twice I have known of wounded wapiti regularly 
charging, and one of my own cowboys, George Myer, 
was very roughly handled by a blacktail buck which he 
had wounded. In all his experience Goff says that save 
when he approached one too close when it was cornered 
by the dogs, he never but once had a cougar start to 
charge him, and on that occasion it was promptly killed 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 25 

by a bullet. Usually the cougar does not even charge 
at the dogs beyond a few feet, confining itself to seizing 
or striking any member of the pack which comes close 
up; although it will occasionally, when much irritated, 
make a rapid dash and seize some bold assailant. While 
I was on my hunt, one of Goff's brothers lost a hound in 
hunting a cougar; there were but two hounds, and the 
cougar would not tree for them, finally seizing and kill- 
ing one that came too near. At the same time a ranchman 
not far off set his cattle dog on a cougar, which after a 
short run turned and killed the dog. But time and again 
cougars are brought to bay or treed by dogs powerless 
to do them the slightest damage; and they usually meet 
their death tamely when the hunter comes up. I have 
had no personal experience either with the South Ameri- 
can jaguar or the Old-World leopard or panther; but 
these great spotted cats must be far more dangerous ad- 
versaries than the cougar. 

It is true, as I have said, that a cougar will follow 
a man; but then a weasel will sometimes do the same 
thing. Whatever the cougar's motive, it is certain that 
in the immense majority of cases there is not the slightest 
danger of his attacking the man he follows. Dr. Hart 
Merriam informs me, however, that he is satisfied that 
he came across one genuine instance of a cougar killing 
a man whose tracks he had dogged. It cannot be too 
often repeated, that we must never lose sight of the indi- 
vidual variation in character and conduct among wild 
beasts. A thousand times a cougar might follow a man 
either not intending or not daring to attack him, while 



26 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

in the thousandth and first case it might be that the tem- 
per of the beast and the conditions were such that the 
attack would be made. 

Other beasts show almost the same wide variation in 
temper. Wolves, for instance, are normally exceedingly 
wary of man. In this Colorado hunt I often came across 
their tracks, and often heard their mournful, but to my 
ears rather attractive, baying at night, but I never caught 
a glimpse of one of them; nor during the years when I 
spent much of my time on my ranch did I ever know of 
a wolf venturing to approach anywhere near a man in 
the day-time, though I have had them accompany me 
after nightfall, and have occasionally come across them by 
accident in daylight. But on the Keystone Ranch, where 
I spent three weeks on this particular trip, an incident 
which occurred before my arrival showed that wolves oc- 
casionally act with extraordinary boldness. The former 
owner of the ranch. Colonel Price, and one of the cow- 
hands, Sabey (both of whom told me the story), were 
driving out in a buggy from Meeker to the ranch accom- 
panied by a setter dog. They had no weapon with them. 
Two wolves joined them and made every effort to get 
at the dog. They accompanied the wagon for nearly a 
mile, venturing to within twenty yards of it. They paid 
no heed whatever to the shouts and gestures of the men, 
but did not quite dare to come to close quarters, and 
finally abandoned their effort. Now, this action on their 
part was, as far as my experience goes, quite as excep- 
tional among American wolves as it is exceptional for 
a cougar to attack a man. Of course, these wolves were 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 27 

not after the men. They were simply after the dog; but 
I have never within my own experience come upon an- 
other instance of wolves venturing to attack a domestic 
animal in the immediate presence of and protected by a 
man. Exactly as these two wolves suddenly chose to 
behave with an absolutely unexpected daring, so a cougar 
will occasionally lose the fear of man which is inherent 
in its race. 

Normally, then, the cougar is not in any way a for- 
midable foe to man, and it is certainly by no means as 
dangerous to dogs as it could be if its courage and in- 
telligence equalled its power to do mischief. It strikes 
with its forepaw like a cat, lacerating the foe with its 
sharp claws; or else it holds the animal with them, while 
the muscular forearm draws it in until the fatal bite may 
be inflicted. Whenever possible it strives to bite an as- 
sailant in the head. Occasionally, when fighting with a 
large dog, a cougar will throw itself on its back and try 
to rip open its antagonist with its hind feet. Male cou- 
gars often fight desperately among themselves. 

Although a silent beast, yet at times, especially during 
the breeding season, the males utter a wild scream, and 
the females also wail or call. I once heard one cry re- 
peatedly after nightfall, seemingly while prowling for 
game. On an evening in the summer of 1897 Dr. Mer- 
riam had a rather singular experience with a cougar. 
His party was camped in the forest by Tannum Lake, 
on the east slope of the Cascades, near the headwaters 
of a branch of the Yakima. The horses were feeding 
near by. Shortly after dark a cougar cried loudly in 



28 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the gloom, and the frightened horses whinnied and 
stampeded. The cougar cried a number of times after- 
ward, but the horses did not again answer. None of 
them was killed, however; and next morning, after some 
labor, all were again gathered together. In 1884 I had 
a somewhat similar experience with a bear, in the Big 
Horn Mountains. 

Occasionally, but not often, the cougars I shot snarled 
or uttered a low, thunderous growl as we approached the 
tree, or as the dogs came upon them in the cave. In the 
death-grapple they were silent, excepting that one young 
cougar snarled and squalled as it battled with the dogs. 

The cougar is sometimes tamed. A friend of mine 
had one which was as good-natured as possible until it 
was a year old, when it died. But one kept by another 
friend, while still quite young, became treacherous and 
dangerous. I doubt if they would ever become as trust- 
worthy as a tame wolf, which, if taken when a very young 
puppy, will often grow up exactly like a dog. Two or 
three years ago there was such a tame wolf with the Colo- 
rado Springs greyhounds. It was safer and more friendly 
than many collies, and kept on excellent terms with the 
great greyhounds; though these were themselves solely 
used to hunt wolves and coyotes, and tackled them with 
headlong ferocity, having, unaided, killed a score or two 
of the large wolves and hundreds of coyotes. 

Hunting in the snow we were able to tell very clearly 
what the cougars whose trails we were following had 
been doing. Gofif's eye for a trail was unerring, and he 
read at a glance the lesson it taught. All the cougars 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 29 

which we came across were living exclusively upon deer, 
and their stomachs were filled with nothing else; much 
hair being mixed with the meat. In each case the deer 
was caught by stalking and not by lying in wait, and 
the cougar never went up a tree except to get rid of the 
dogs. In the day-time it retired to a ledge, or ravine, or 
dense thicket, starting to prowl as the dark came on. So 
far as I could see the deer in each case was killed by a 
bite in the throat or neck. The cougar simply rambled 
around in likely grounds until it saw or smelled its 
quarry, and then crept up stealthily until with one or 
two tremendous bounds it was able to seize its prey. 
If, as frequently happened, the deer took alarm in 
time to avoid the first few bounds, it always got away, 
for though the cougar is very fast for a short distance, 
it has no wind whatever. It cannot pursue a deer for 
any length of time, nor run before a dog for more than 
a few hundred yards, if the dog is close up at the start. 
I was informed by the ranchmen that when in May the 
deer leave the country, the cougars turn their attention 
to the stock, and are very destructive. They have a special 
fondness for horseflesh and kill almost every colt where 
they are plentiful, while the big males work havoc with 
the saddle bands on the ranches, as well as among the 
brood mares. Except in the case of a female with young 
they are roving, wandering beasts, and roam great dis- 
tances. After leaving their day lairs, on a ledge, or in 
a gorge or thicket, they spend the night travelling across 
the flats, along the ridges, over the spurs. When they 
kill a deer they usually lie not very far away, and do 



30 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

not again wander until they are hungry. The males 
travel very long distances in the mating season. Their 
breeding-time is evidently irregular. We found kittens 
with their eyes not yet open in the middle of January. 
Two of the female cougars we killed were pregnant — 
in one case the young would have been born almost im- 
mediately, that is, in February; and in the other case in 
March. One, which had a partially grown young one 
of over fifty pounds with it, still had milk in its teats. 
At the end of January we found a male and female to- 
gether, evidently mating. Gofif has also found the young 
just dropped in May, and even in June. The females 
outnumber the males. Of the fourteen we killed, but 
three were males. 

When a cougar kills a deer in the open it invariably 
drags it under some tree or shelter before beginning to 
eat. All the carcasses we came across had been thus 
dragged, the trail showing distinctly in the snow. Gofif, 
however, asserted that in occasional instances he had 
known a cougar to carry a deer so that only its legs trailed 
on the ground. 

The fourteen cougars we killed showed the widest 
variation not only in size but in color, as shown by the 
following table. Some were as slaty-gray as deer when 
in the so-called " blue "; others, rufous, almost as bright 
as deer in the " red." I use these two terms to describe 
the color phases; though in some instances the tint was 
very undecided. The color phase evidently has nothing 
to do with age, sex, season, or locality. In this table the 
first cougar is the one killed by Stewart, the sixth by 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 



31 



Webb. The length is measured in a straight line, " be- 
tween uprights," from the nose to the extreme tip of the 
tail, when the beast was stretched out. The animals were 
weighed with the steelyard and also spring scales. Be- 
fore measuring, we pulled the beast out as straight as we 
possibly could; and as the biggest male represents about, 
or very nearly, the maximum for the species, it is easy 



Sex. 


Color. 


Length. 


Weight. 


Date. 






Feet. 


Inches. 


Pounds. 


1 90 1. 


^Female. 


Blue. 


4 


II 


47 


January 19 


^Female. 


Red. 


4 


II>^ 


51 


February 12 


Female. 


Blue. 


6 




80 


January 14 


Female. 


Red. 


6 


4 


102 


January 28 


Female. 


Blue. 


6 


5 


105 


February 12 


Female. 


Blue. 


6 


5 


107 


January 18 


Female. 


Red. 


6 


9 


108 


January 24 


Female. 


Blue. 


6 


7 


118 


January 15 


Female. 


Blue. 


6 


7 


120 


January 31 


Female. 


Red. 


6 


9 • 


124 


February 5 


Female. 


Blue. 


7 




133 


February 8 


Male. 


Red. 


7 


6 


160 


February 13 


Male. 


Blue. 


7 


8 


164 


January 27 


Male. 


Red. 


8 




227 


February 14 



to see that there can be no basis for the talk one sometimes 
hears about ten and eleven foot cougars. No cougar, 
measured at all fairly, has ever come anywhere near 
reaching the length of nine feet. The fresh hide can 
easily be stretched a couple of feet extra. Except the first 
two, all were full grown; the biggest male was nearly 
three times the size of the smallest female. 

I shot five bobcats : two old males weighing 39 and 31 

1 Young. 



32 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

pounds respectively; and three females, weighing, respec- 
tively, 25, 21, and 18 pounds. Webb killed two, a male 
of 29 pounds and a female of 20; and Stewart two females, 
one of 22 pounds, and the other a young one of 1 1 pounds. 

I sent the cougar and bobcat skulls to Dr. Merriam, 
at the Biological Survey, Department of Agriculture, 
Washington. He wrote me as follows: " The big [cou- 
gar] skull is certainly a giant. I have compared it with 
the largest in our collection from British Columbia and 
Wyoming, and find it larger than either. It is in fact 
the largest skull of any member of the Felis concolor 
group I have seen. A hasty preliminary examination in- 
dicates that the animal is quite different from the north- 
west coast form, but that it is the same as my horse-killer 
from Wyoming — Felis hippolestes. In typical Felis con- 
color from Brazil the skull is lighter, the brain-case thin- 
ner and more smoothly rounded, devoid of the strongly 
developed sagittal crest; the under jaw straighter and 
lighter. 

" Your series of skulls from Colorado is incomparably 
the largest, most complete and most valuable series ever 
brought together from any single locality, and will be of 
inestimable value in determining the amount of indi- 
vidual variation." 

We rode in to the Keystone Ranch late on the even- 
ing of the second day after leaving Meeker. We had 
picked up a couple of bobcats on the way, and had found 
a cougar's kill (or bait, as Goflf called it) — a doe, almost 
completely eaten. The dogs puzzled for several hours 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 



33 



over the cold trail of the cougar; but it was old, and ran 
hither and thither over bare ground, so that they finally 
lost it. The ranch was delightfully situated at the foot 
of high wooded hills broken by cliffs, and it was pleasant 
to reach the warm, comfortable log buildings, with their 
clean rooms, and to revel in the abundant, smoking-hot 
dinner, after the long, cold hours in the saddle. As every- 
where else in the cattle country nowadays, a successful 
effort had been made to store water on the Keystone, and 
there were great stretches of wire fencing — two improve- 
ments entirely unknown in former days. But the fore- 
man, William Wilson, and the two punchers or cow- 
hands, Sabey and Collins, were of the old familiar type — 
skilled, fearless, hardy, hard-working, with all the in- 
telligence and self-respect that we like to claim as typical 
of the American character at its best. All three carried 
short saddle guns when they went abroad, and killed a 
good many coyotes, and now and then a gray wolf. The 
cattle were for the most part grade Herefords, very dif- 
ferent from the wild, slab-sided, long-horned creatures 
which covered the cattle country a score of years ago. 

The next day, January 14th, we got our first cougar. 
This kind of hunting was totally different from that to 
which I had been accustomed. In the first place, there 
was no need of always being on the alert for a shot, as 
it was the dogs who did the work. In the next place, 
instead of continually scanning the landscape, what we 
had to do was to look down so as to be sure not to pass 
over any tracks; for frequently a cold trail would be in- 
dicated so faintly that the dogs themselves might pass it 



34 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

by, if unassisted by Goff's keen eyes and thorough knowl- 
edge of the habits of the quarry. Finally, there was no 
object in making an early start, as what we expected to 
find was not the cougar, but the cougar's trail; moreover, 
the horses and dogs, tough though they were, could not 
stand more than a certain amount, and to ride from sun- 
rise to sunset, day in and day out, for five weeks, just 
about tested the limits of their endurance. 

We made our way slowly up the snow-covered, pin- 
yon-clad side of the mountain back of the house, and 
found a very old cougar trail which it was useless to try 
to run, and a couple of fresh bobcat trails which it was 
difficult to prevent the dogs from following. After criss- 
crossing over the shoulders of this mountain for two or 
three hours, and scrambling in and out of the ravines, 
we finally struck another cougar trail, much more recent, 
probably made thirty-six hours before. The hounds had 
been hunting free to one side or the other of our path. 
They were now summoned by a blast of the horn, and 
with a wave of Goff's hand away they went on the trail. 
Had it been fresh they would have run out of hearing 
at once, for it was fearfully rough country. But they were 
able to work but slowly along the loops and zigzags of 
the trail, where it led across bare spaces, and wc could 
keep well in sight and hearing of them. Finally they 
came to where it descended the sheer side of the mountain 
and crossed the snow-covered valley beneath. They were 
still all together, the pace having been so slow, and in 
the snow of the valley the scent was fresh. It was a fine 
sight to see them as they rushed across from one side to 



J 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 35 

the other, the cliffs echoing their chiming. Jim and the 
three bitches were in the lead, while Boxer fell behind, 
as he always did when the pace was fast. 

Leading our horses, we slid and scrambled after the 
hounds ; but when we reached the valley they had passed 
out of sight and sound, and we did not hear them again 
until we had toiled up the mountain opposite. They were 
then evidently scattered, having come upon many bare 
places; but while we were listening, and working our 
way over to the other side of the divide, the sudden in- 
crease in the baying told Goff that they had struck the 
fresh trail of the beast they were after; and in two or 
three minutes we heard Jim's deep voice " barking treed." 
The three fighters, who had been trotting at our heels, 
recognized the difference in the sound quite as quickly 
as we did, and plunged at full speed toward it down the 
steep hillside, throwing up the snow like so many snow- 
ploughs. In a minute or two the chorus told us that all 
the dogs were around the tree, and we picked our way 
down toward them. 

While we were still some distance off we could see 
the cougar in a low pinyon moving about as the dogs 
tried to get up, and finally knocking one clean out of the 
top. It was the first time I had ever seen dogs with a 
cougar, and I was immensely interested; but Stewart's 
whole concern was with his camera. When we were 
within fifty yards of the tree, and I was preparing to 
take the rifle out of the scabbard, Stewart suddenly called 
" halt," with the first symptoms of excitement he had 
shown, and added, in an eager undertone : " Wait, there 



36 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

is a rabbit right here, and I want to take his picture." 
Accordingly we waited, the cougar not fifty yards off and 
the dogs yelling and trying to get up the tree after it, 
while Stewart crept up to the rabbit and got a kodak some 
six feet distant. Then we resumed our march toward the 
tree, and the cougar, not liking the sight of the reinforce- 
ments, jumped out. She came down just outside the pack 
and ran up hill. So quick was she that the dogs failed 
to seize her, and for the first fifty yards she went a great 
deal faster than they did. Both in the jump and in the 
run she held her tail straight out behind her; I found 
out afterward that sometimes one will throw its tail 
straight in the air, and when walking along, when first 
roused by the pack, before they are close, will, if angry, 
lash the tail from side to side, at the same time grinning 
and snarling. 

In a minute the cougar went up another tree, but, 
as we approached, again jumped down, and on this oc- 
casion, after running a couple of hundred yards, the dogs 
seized it. The worry was terrific; the growling, snarling, 
and yelling rang among the rocks; and leaving our horses 
we plunged at full speed through the snow down the 
rugged ravine in which the fight was going on. It was 
a small though old female, only a few pounds heavier 
than either Turk or Jim, and the dogs had the upper 
hand when we arrived. They would certainly have 
killed it unassisted, but as it was doing some damage to 
the pack, and might at any moment kill a dog, I ended 
the struggle by a knife-thrust behind the shoulder. To 
shoot would have been quite as dangerous for the dogs 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 



37 



as for their quarry. Three of the dogs were badly 
scratched, and Turk had been bitten through one foreleg, 
and Boxer through one hind leg. 

As will be seen by the measurements given before, 
this was much the smallest full-grown cougar we got. It 
was also one of the oldest, as its teeth showed, and it 
gave me a false idea of the size of cougars; although I 
knew they varied in size I was not prepared for the wide 
variation we actually found. 

The fighting dogs were the ones that enabled me to 
use the knife. All three went straight for the head, and 
when they got hold they kept their jaws shut, worrying 
and pulling, and completely absorbing the attention of 
the cougar, so as to give an easy chance for the death- 
blow. The hounds meanwhile had seized the cougar be- 
hind, and Jim, with his alligator jaws, probably did as 
much damage as Turk. However, neither in this nor in 
any other instance, did any one of the dogs manage to get 
its teeth through the thick skin. When cougars fight 
among themselves their claws and fangs leave great scars, 
but their hides are too thick for the dogs to get their 
teeth through. On the other hand, a cougar's jaws have 
great power, and dogs are frequently killed by a single 
bite, the fangs being driven through the brain or spine; 
or they break a dog's leg or cut the big blood-vessels of 
the throat. 

I had been anxious to get a set of measurements and 
weights of cougars to give to Dr. Hart Merriam. Ac- 
cordingly I was carrying a tape, while Goff, instead of 
a rifle, had a steelyard in his gun scabbard. We weighed 



38 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and measured the cougar, and then took lunch, making 
as impartial a distribution of it as was possible among 
ourselves and the different members of the pack; for, of 
course, we were already growing to have a hearty fellow- 
feeling for each individual dog. 

The next day we were again in luck. After about two < 
hours' ride we came upon an old trail. It led among 
low hills, covered with pinyon and cedar, and broken by 
gullies or washouts, in whose sharp sides of clay the water 
had made holes and caves. Soon the hounds left it to 
follow a bobcat, and we had a lively gallop through the 
timber, dodging the sharp snags of the dead branches 
as best we might. The cat got into a hole in a side 
washout; Baldy went in after it, and the rest of us, men 
and dogs, clustered about to look in. After a consider- 
able time he put the cat out of the other end of the hole, 
nearly a hundred yards off, close to the main washout. 
The first we knew of it we saw it coming straight toward 
us, its tail held erect like that of a whitetail deer. Be- 
fore either we or the dogs quite grasped the situation it 
bolted into another hole almost at our feet, and this time 
Baldy could not find it, or else could not get at it. Then 
we took up the cougar trail again. It criss-crossed in 
every direction. We finally found an old " bait," a buck. 
It was interesting to see the way in which the cougar had 
prowled from point to point, and the efforts it had made 
to approach the deer which it saw or smelled. Once 
we came to where it had sat down on the edge of a 
cliff, sitting on its haunches with its long tail straight 
behind it and looking out across the valley. After it had 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 39 

killed, according to the invariable custom of its kind, it 
had dragged the deer from the open, where it had over- 
taken it, to the shelter of a group of trees. 

We finally struck the fresh trail; but it, also, led 
hither and thither, and we got into such a maze of tracks 
that the dogs were completely puzzled. After a couple 
of hours of vain travelling to and fro, we gave up the 
efifort, called the dogs ofif, and started back beside a large 
washout which led along between two ridges. Goff, as 
usual, was leading, the dogs following and continually 
skirting to one side or the other. Suddenly they all began 
to show great excitement, and then one gave furious 
tongue at the mouth of a hole in some sunken and broken 
ground not thirty yards to our right. The whole pack 
rushed toward the challenge, the fighters leaped into the 
hole, and in another moment the row inside told us that 
they had found a cougar at home. We jumped ofif and 
ran down to see if we could be of assistance. To get into 
the hole was impossible, for two or three hounds had 
jumped down to join the fighters, and we could see noth- 
ing but their sterns. Then we saw Turk backing out with 
a dead kitten in his mouth. I had supposed that a cougar 
would defend her young to the last, but such was not the 
case in this instance. For some minutes she kept the dogs 
at bay, but then gradually gave ground, leaving her three 
kittens. Of course, the dogs killed them instantly, much 
to our regret, as we would have given a good deal to 
have kept them alive. As soon as she had abandoned 
them, away she went completely through the low cave 
or hole, leaped out of the other end, which was some 



40 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

thirty or forty yards off, scaled the bank, and galloped 
into the woods, the pack getting after her at once. She 
did not run more than a couple of hundred yards, and 
as we tore up on our horses we saw her standing in the 
lower branches of a pinyon only six or eight feet from 
the ground. She was not snarling or grinning, and 
looked at us as quietly as if nothing had happened. As 
we leaped out of the saddles she jumped down from the 
tree and ran off through the pack. They were after her 
at once, however, and a few yards farther on she started 
up another tree. Either Tony or Baldy grabbed her by 
the tip of the tail, she lost her footing for a moment, 
and the whole pack seized her. She was a powerful fe- 
male of about the average size, being half as heavy again 
as the one we first got, and made a tremendous fight; and 
savage enough she looked, her ears tight back against 
her head, her yellow eyes flashing, and her great teeth 
showing as she grinned. For a moment the dogs had her 
down, but biting and striking she freed her head and 
fore quarters from the fighters, and faced us as we ran 
up, the hounds still having her from behind. This was 
another chance for the knife, and I cheered on the 
fighters. Again they seized her by the head, but though 
absolutely stanch dogs, their teeth, as I have said, had 
begun to suffer, and they were no longer always able to 
make their holds good. Just as I was about to strike 
her she knocked Turk loose with a blow, bit Baldy, and 
then, her head being free, turned upon me. Fortunately, 
Tony caught her free paw on that side, while I jammed 
the gun-butt into her jaws with my left hand and struck 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 41 

home with the right, the knife driving straight to the 
heart. The deep fang marks she left in the stock, biting 
the corner of the shoulder clean of]f, gave an idea of the 
power of her jaws. If it had been the very big male 
cougar which I afterward killed, the stock would doubt- 
less have been bitten completely in two. 

The dogs were pretty well damaged, and all retired 
and lay down under the trees, where they licked their 
wounds, and went to sleep ; growling savagely at one an- 
other when they waked, but greeting us with demonstra- 
tive affection, and trotting eagerly out to share our lunch 
as soon as we began to eat it. Unaided, they would ulti- 
mately have killed the cougar, but the chance of one or 
two of them being killed or crippled was too great for 
us to allow this to be done; and in the mix-up of the 
struggle it was not possible to end it with the rifle. The 
writhing, yelling tangle offered too shifting a mark; one 
would have been as apt to hit a dog as the cougar. Gofif 
told me that the pack had often killed cougars unassisted; 
but in the performance of such feats the best dogs were 
frequently killed, and this was not a risk to be taken 
lightly. 

In some books the writers speak as if the male and 
female cougar live together and jointly seek food for the 
young. We never found a male cougar anywhere near 
either a female with young or a pregnant female. Ac- 
cording to my observation the male only remains with 
the female for a short time, during the mating season, at 
which period he travels great distances in search of his 
temporary mates — for the females far outnumber the 



42 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

males. The cougar is normally a very solitary beast. 
The young — two to four in number, though more than 
one or two rarely grow up — follow the mother until over 
half grown. The mother lives entirely alone with the 
kittens while they are small. As the males fight so 
fiercely among themselves, it may be that the old he-cou- 
gars kill the young of their own sex; a ranchman whom 
I knew once found the body of a young male cougar 
which had evidently been killed by an old one; but I 
cannot say whether or not this was an exceptional case. 

During the next ten days Stewart and Webb each shot 
a cougar. Webb's was got by as pretty an exhibition of 
trailing on the part of Gof¥ and his hounds as one could 
wish to see. We ran across its old tracks while coming 
home on Wednesday, January i6th. The next day, 
Thursday, we took up the trail, but the animal had trav- 
elled a long distance; and, as cougars so often do, had 
spent much of its time walking along ledges, or at the 
foot of the clififs, where the sun had melted the snow off 
the ground. In consequence, the dogs were often at fault. 
Moreover, bobcats were numerous, and twice the pack 
got after one, running a couple of hours before, in one 
instance, the cat went into a cave, and, in the other, took 
to a tree, where it was killed by Webb. At last, when 
darkness came on, we were forced to leave the cougar 
trail and ride home; a very attractive ride, too, loping 
rapidly over the snow-covered flats, while above us the 
great stars fairly blazed in the splendor of the winter 
night. 

Early next morning we again took up the trail, and 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 43 

after a little while found where it was less than thirty-six 
hours old. The dogs now ran it well, but were thrown 
out again on a large bare hillside, until Boxer succeeded 
in recovering the scent. They went up a high mountain 
and we toiled after them. Again they lost the trail, and 
while at fault jumped a big bobcat which they ran up 
a tree. After shooting him we took lunch, and started 
to circle for the trail. Most of the dogs kept with Gofif, 
but Jim got ofif to one side on his own account; and sud- 
denly his baying told us that he had jumped the cougar. 
The rest of the pack tore toward him and after a quarter 
of a mile run they had the quarry treed. The ground 
was too rough for riding, and we had to do some stiff 
climbing to get to it on foot. 

Stewart's cougar was a young-of-the-year, and, ac- 
cording to his custom, he took several photographs of it. 
Then he tried to poke it so that it would get into a better 
position for the camera; whereupon it jumped out of the 
tree and ran headlong down hill, the yelling dogs but a 
few feet behind. Our horses had been left a hundred 
yards or so below, where they all stood, moping, with 
their heads drooped and their eyes half shut, in regular 
cow-pony style. The chase streamed by not a yard from 
their noses, but evidently failed to arouse even an emotion 
of interest in their minds, for they barely looked up, and 
made not a movement of any kind when the cougar treed 
again just below them. 

We killed several bobcats; and we also got another 
cougar, this time in rather ignominious fashion. We 
had been running a bobcat, having an excellent gallop, 



44 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

during the course of which Stewart's horse turned a 
somersault. Without our knowledge the dogs changed 
to the fresh trail of a cougar, which they ran into its den 
in another cut bank. When we reached the place they 
had gone in after it, Baldy dropping into a hole at the 
top of the bank, while the others crawled into the main 
entrance, some twenty-five yards off at the bottom. It 
was evidently a very rough house inside, and above the 
baying, yelping, and snarling of the dogs we could hear 
the rumbling overtone of the cougar's growl. On this 
day we had taken along Queen, the white bull bitch, to 
*' enter " her at cougar. It was certainly a lively ex- 
perience for a first entry. We reached the place in time 
to keep Jim and the hound bitches out of the hole. It 
was evident that the dogs could do nothing with the cou- 
gar inside. They could only come at it in front, and 
under such circumstances its claws and teeth made the 
odds against them hopeless. Every now and then it 
would charge, driving them all back, and we would then 
reach in, seize a dog and haul him out. At intervals there 
would be an awful yelling and a hound would come out 
bleeding badly, quite satisfied, and without the slightest 
desire to go in again. Poor Baldy was evidently killed 
inside. Queen, Turk, and Tony were badly clawed and 
bitten, and we finally got them out too; Queen went in 
three times, and came out on each occasion with a fresh 
gash or bite; Turk was, at the last, the only one really 
anxious to go in again. Then we tried to smoke out 
the cougar, for as one of the dogs had gotten into the 
cave through an upper entrance, we supposed the cougar 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 45 

could get out by the same route. However, it either 
could not or would not bolt; coming down close to the 
entrance where we had built the sage-brush fire, there 
it stayed until it was smothered. We returned to the 
ranch carrying its skin, but not over-pleased, and the 
pack much the worse for wear. Dr. Webb had to sew 
up the wounds of three of the dogs. One, Tony, was 
sent back to the home ranch, where he died. In such 
rough hunting as this, it is of course impossible to pre- 
vent occasional injuries to the dogs when they get the 
cougar in a cave, or overtake him on the ground. All 
that can be done is to try to end the contest as speedily 
as possible, which we always did. 

Judging from the experience of certain friends of 
mine in the Argentine, I think it would be safe to crawl 
into a cave to shoot a cougar under normal circumstances; 
but in this instance the cave was a long, winding hole, 
so low that we could not get in on hands and knees, hav- 
ing to work our way on our elbows. It was pitch dark 
inside, so that the rifle sights could not be seen, and the 
cougar was evidently very angry and had on two or three 
occasions charged the dogs, driving them out of the en- 
trance of the hole. In the dark, the chances were strongly 
against killing it with a single shot; while if only 
wounded, and if it had happened to charge, the man, in 
his cramped position, would have been utterly helpless. 

The day after the death of the smoked-out cougar 
Stewart and Webb started home. Then it snowed for two 
days, keeping us in the ranch. While the snow was fall- 
ing, there was no possibility of finding or following 



46 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

tracks; and as a rule wild creatures lie close during a 
storm. We were glad to have fresh snow, for the multi- 
tude of tracks in the old snow had become confusing; and 
not only the southern hillsides but the larger valleys had 
begun to grow bare, so that trailing was difficult. 

The third day dawned in brilliant splendor, and when 
the sun arose all the land glittered dazzling white under 
his rays. The hounds were rested, we had fresh horses, 
and after an early breakfast we started to make a long 
circle. All the forenoon and early afternoon we plodded 
through the snowdrifts, up and down the valleys, and 
along the ridge crests, without striking a trail. The dogs 
trotted behind us or circled from one side to the other. 
It was no small test of their stanchness, eager and fresh 
as they were, for time after time we aroused bands of 
deer, to which they paid no heed whatever. At last, in 
mid-afternoon, we suddenly struck the tracks of two 
cougars, one a very large one, an old male. They had 
been playing and frolicking together, for they were evi- 
dently mating, and the snow in the tracks showed that 
they had started abroad before the storm was entirely 
over. For three hours the pack followed the cold trail, 
through an exceedingly rugged and difficult country, in 
which Gofi helped them out again and again. 

Just at sunset the cougars were jumped, and ran 
straight into and through a tangle of spurs and foothills, 
broken by precipices, and riven by long deep ravines. 
The two at first separated and then came together, with 
the result that Tree'em, Bruno, and Jimmie got on the 
back trail and so were left far behind; while old Boxer 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 47 

also fell to the rear, as he always did when the scent was 
hot, and Jim and the bitches were left to do the running 
by themselves. In the gathering gloom we galloped 
along the main divide, my horse once falling on a slip- 
pery sidehill, as I followed headlong after GofI — whose 
riding was like the driving of the son of Nimshi. The 
last vestige of sunlight disappeared, but the full moon 
was well up in the heavens when we came to a long spur, 
leading ofl to the right for two or three miles, beyond 
which we did not think the chase could have gone. It 
had long run out of hearing. Making our way down the 
rough and broken crest of this spur, we finally heard 
far off the clamorous baying which told us that the 
hounds had their quarry at bay. We did not have the 
fighters with us, as they were still under the weather from 
the results of their encounter in the cave. 

As it afterward appeared, the cougars had run three 
miles before the dogs overtook them, making their way 
up, down and along such difficult cliffs that the pack had 
to keep going round. The female then went up a tree, 
while the pack followed the male. He would not climb a 
tree and came to bay on the edge of a cliff. A couple of 
hundred yards from the spot, we left the horses and 
scrambled along on foot, guided by the furious clamor 
of the pack. When we reached them, the cougar had 
gone along the face of the cliff, most of the dogs could 
not see him, and it was some time before we could make 
him out ourselves. Then I got up quite close. Although 
the moonlight was bright I could not see the sights of 
my rifle, and fired a little too far back. The bullet, how- 



48 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ever, inflicted a bad wound, and the cougar ran along a 
ledge, disappearing around the cliff shoulder. The con- 
duct of the dogs showed that he had not left the cliff, but 
it was impossible to see him either from the sides or from 
below. The cliff was about a hundred feet high and the 
top overhung the bottom, while from above the ground 
sloped down to the brink at a rather steep angle, so that 
we had to be cautious about our footing. There was a 
large projecting rock on the brink; to this I clambered 
down, and, holding it with one hand, peeped over the 
edge. After a minute or two I made out first the tail and 
then the head of the cougar, who was lying on a narrow 
ledge only some ten feet below me, his body hidden 
by the overhang of the cliff. Thanks to the steepness 
of the incline, I could not let go of the rock with my 
left hand, because I should have rolled over; so I got 
Goff to come down, brace his feet against the projection, 
and grasp me by my legs. He then lowered me gently 
down until my head and shoulders were over the edge 
and my arms free; and I shot the cougar right between 
the ears, he being in a straight line underneath me. The 
dogs were evidently confident that he was going to be 
shot, for they had all gathered below the cliff to wait for 
him to fall ; and sure enough, down he came with a crash, 
luckily not hitting any of them. We could hear them 
seize him, and they all, dead cougar and worrying dogs, 
rolled at least a hundred yards down the steep slope be- 
fore they were stopped by a gully. It was an interest- 
ing experience, and one which I shall not soon forget. 
We clambered down to where the dogs were, admired 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 



49 



our victim, and made up our minds not to try to skin him 
until the morning. Then we led down our horses, with 
some difficulty, into the snow-covered valley, mounted 
them, and cantered home to the ranch, under the cold and 
brilliant moon, through a white wonderland of shimmer- 
ing light and beauty. 

Next morning we came back as early as possible, in- 
tending first to skin the male and then to hunt up the 
female. A quarter of a mile before we reached the car- 
cass we struck her fresh trail in the snow of the valley. 
Calling all the dogs together and hustling them for- 
ward, we got them across the trail without their paying 
any attention to it; for we wanted to finish the job of 
skinning before taking up the hunt. However, when we 
got ofif our horses and pulled the cougar down to a flat 
place to skin it, Nellie, who evidently remembered that 
there had been another cougar besides the one we had 
accounted for, started away on her own account while 
we were not looking. The first thing we knew we heard 
her giving tongue on the mountains above us, in such 
rough country that there was no use in trying to head her 
off. Accordingly we jumped on the horses again, rode 
down to where we had crossed the trail and put the 
whole pack on it. After crossing the valley the cougar 
had moved along the ledges of a great spur or chain of 
foothills, and as this prevented the dogs going too fast 
we were able to canter alongside them up the valley, 
watching them and listening to their chiming. We 
finally came to a large hillside bare of snow, much broken 
with rocks, among which grew patches of brush and scat- 



50 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

tered pinyons. Here the dogs were at fault for over an 
hour. It had evidently been a favorite haunt of the cou- 
gars; they had moved to and fro across it, and had lain 
sunning themselves in the dust under the ledges. Owing 
to the character of the ground we could give the hounds 
no assistance, but they finally puzzled out the trail for 
themselves. We were now given a good illustration of 
the impossibility of jumping a cougar without dogs, even 
when in a general way its haunt is known. We rode 
along the hillside, and quartered it to and fro, on the 
last occasion coming down a spur where we passed within 
two or three rods of the brush in which the cougar was 
actually lying; but she never moved and it was impos- 
sible to see her. When we finally reached the bottom, 
the dogs had disentangled the trail; and they passed be- 
hind us at a good rate, going up almost where we had 
come down. Even as we looked we saw the cougar rise 
from her lair, only fifty yards or so ahead of them, her 
red hide showing bright in the sun. It was a very pretty 
run to watch while it lasted. She left them behind at 
first, but after a quarter of a mile they put her up a pin- 
yon. Approaching cautiously — for the climbing was 
hard work and I did not wish to frighten her out of the 
tree if it could be avoided, lest she might make such a 
run as that of the preceding evening — I was able to shoot 
her through the heart. She died in the branches, and 
I climbed the tree to throw her down. The only skill 
needed in such shooting is in killing the cougar outright 
so as to save the dogs. Six times on the hunt I shot the 
cougar through the heart. Twice the animal died in 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 51 

the branches. In the other four cases it sprang out of 
the tree, head and tail erect, eyes blazing, and the mouth 
open in a grin of savage hate and anger; but it was prac- 
tically dead when it touched the ground. 

Although these cougars were mates, they were not of 
the same color, the female being reddish, while the male 
was slate-colored. In weighing this male we had to 
take ofif the hide and weigh it separately (with the head 
and paws attached), for our steelyard only went up to 
150 pounds. When we came to weigh the biggest male 
we had to take off the quarters as well as the hide. • 

Thinking that we had probably exhausted the cougars 
around the Keystone Ranch, we spent the next fortnight 
off on a trip. We carried only what we could put in 
the small saddle-pockets — our baggage being as strictly 
limited as it ought to be with efficient cavalry who are 
on an active campaign. We worked hard, but, as so often 
happens, our luck was not in proportion to our labor. 

The first day we rode to the Mathes brothers' ranch. 
On the high divides it was very cold, the thermometer 
standing at nearly twenty degrees below zero. But we 
were clad for just such weather, and were not uncom- 
fortable. The three Mathes brothers lived together, with 
the wives and children of the two married ones. Their 
ranch was in a very beautiful and wild valley, the pinyon- 
crowned cliffs rising in walls on either hand. Deer were 
abundant and often in sight from the ranch doors. At 
night the gray wolves came down close to the buildings 
and howled for hours among the precipices, under the 
light of the full moon. The still cold was intense; but 



52 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



I could not resist going out for half an hour at a time 
to listen to them. To me their baying, though a very 
eerie and lonesome sound, full of vaguely sinister associa- 
tions, has, nevertheless, a certain wild music of its own 
which is far from being without charm. 

We did not hear the cougars calling, for they are cer- 
tainly nothing like as noisy as wolves; yet the Mathes 
brothers had heard them several times, and once one of 
them had crept up and seen the cougar, which remained 
in the same place for many minutes, repeating its cry 
continually. The Mathes had killed but two cougars, 
not having any dogs trained to hunt them. One of these 
was killed under circumstances which well illustrate the 
queer nature of the animal. The three men, with one of 
their two cattle dogs, were walking up the valley not half 
a mile above the ranch house, when they saw a cougar 
crossing in front of them, a couple of hundred yards off. 
As soon as she saw them she crouched flat down with 
her head toward them, remaining motionless. Two, with 
the dog, stayed where they were, while the other ran 
back to the ranch house for a rifle and for the other dog. 
No sooner had he gone than the cougar began deliber- 
ately to crawl toward the men who were left. She came 
on slowly but steadily, crouched almost flat to the ground. 
The two unarmed men were by no means pleased with 
her approach. They waved their hands and jumped 
about and shouted; but she kept approaching, although 
slowly, and was well within a hundred yards when the 
other brother arrived, out of breath, accompanied by the 
other dog. At sight of him she jumped up, ran off a 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 53 

couple of hundred yards, went up a tree, and was killed. 
I do not suppose she would have attacked the men; but 
as there was an unpleasant possibility that she might, they 
both felt distinctly more comfortable when their brother 
rejoined them with the rifle. 

There was a good deal of snowy weather while we 
were at the Mathes ranch, but we had fair luck, kill- 
ing two cougars. It was most comfortable, for the ranch 
was clean and warm, and the cooking delicious. It does 
not seem to me that I ever tasted better milk and butter, 
hot biscuits, rice, potatoes, pork and bulberry and wild- 
plum jam ; and of course the long days on horseback in the 
cold weather gave an edge to our appetites. One stormy 
day we lost the hounds, and we spent most of the next day 
in finding such of them as did not come straggling in of 
their own accord. The country was very rough, and it 
was astounding to see some of the places up and down 
which we led the horses. Sometimes I found that my 
horse climbed rather better than I did, for he would come 
up some awkward-looking slope with such a rush that I 
literally had to scramble on all-fours to get out of his 
way. 

There was no special incident connected with killing 
either of these two cougars. In one case Gofif himself 
took the lead in working out the trail and preventing the 
hounds getting off after bobcats. In the other case the 
trail was fresher and the dogs ran it by themselves, get- 
ting into a country where we could not follow; it was 
very rough, and the cliffs and gorges rang with their 
baying. In both cases they had the cougar treed for about 



54 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

three hours before we were able to place them and walk 
up to them. It was hard work, toiling through the snow 
over the cliffs toward the baying; and on each occasion 
the cougar leaped from the tree at our approach, and ran 
a quarter of a mile or so before going up another, where 
it was shot. As I came up to shoot, most of the dogs paid 
no attention, but Boxer and Nellie always kept looking 
at me until I actually raised the rifle, when they began 
to spring about the spot where they thought the cougar 
would come down. The cougar itself always seemed 
to recognize the man as the dangerous opponent; and as 
I strode around to find a place from whence I could 
deliver an instantaneously fatal shot, it would follow me 
steadily with its evil yellow eyes. I came up very close, 
but the beasts never attempted to jump at me. Judging 
from what one reads in books about Indian and Afri- 
can game, a leopard under such circumstances would cer- 
tainly sometimes charge. 

Three days of our trip were spent on a ride to Colo- 
row Mountain; we went down to Judge Foreman's ranch 
on White River to pass the night. We got another cou- 
gar on the way. She must really be credited to Jim. The 
other dogs were following in our footsteps through the 
snow, after having made various futile excursions of their 
own. When we found that Jim was missing, we tried in 
vain to recall him with the horn, and at last started to 
hunt him up. After an hour's ride we heard him off on 
the mountain, evidently following a trail, but equally 
evidently not yet having jumped the animal. The hounds 
heard him quite as quickly as we did, and started toward 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS ^5 

him. Soon we heard the music of the whole pack, which 
grew fainter and fainter, and was lost entirely as they 
disappeared around a spur, and then began to grow loud 
again, showing that they were coming toward us. Sud- 
denly a change in the note convinced us that they had 
jumped the quarry. We stood motionless; nearer and 
nearer they came; and then a sudden burst of clamor pro- 
claimed that they were barking treed. We had to ride 
only a couple of hundred yards; I shot the cougar from 
across a little ravine. She was the largest female we got. 

The dogs were a source of unceasing amusement, not 
merely while hunting, but because of their relations to 
one another when off duty. Queen's temper was of the 
shortest toward the rest of the pack, although, like Turk, 
she was fond of literally crawling into my lap, when we 
sat down to rest after the worry which closed the chase. 
As soon as I began to eat my lunch, all the dogs clustered 
close around and I distributed small morsels to each in 
turn. Once Jimmie, Queen, and Boxer were sitting side 
by side, tightly wedged together. I treated them with 
entire impartiality; and soon Queen's feelings overcame 
her, and she unostentatiously but firmly bit Jimmie in the 
jaw. Jimmie howled tremendously and Boxer literally 
turned a back somersault, evidently fearing lest his turn 
should come next. 

On February nth we rode back to the Keystone 
Ranch, carrying the three cougar skins behind our saddles. 
It was again very cold, and the snow on the divides was 
so deep that our horses wallowed through it up to their 
saddle-girths. I supposed that my hunt was practically 



56 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

at an end, for I had but three days left; but as it turned 
out these were the three most lucky days of the whole 
trip. 

The weather was beautiful, the snow lying deep 
enough to give the dogs easy trailing even on the southern 
slopes. Under the clear skies the landscape was daz- 
zling, and I had to wear snow-glasses. On the first of the 
three days, February 12th, we had not ridden half an 
hour from the ranch before we came across the trail of 
a very big bobcat. It was so heavy that it had broken 
through the crust here and there, and we decided that 
it was worth following. The trail went up a steep moun- 
tain to the top, and we followed on foot after the dogs. 
Among the cliffs on the top they were completely at fault, 
hunting every which way. After awhile Goff suddenly 
spied the cat, which had jumped off the top of a cliff into 
a pinyon. I killed it before any of the dogs saw it, and 
at the shot they all ran in the wrong direction. When 
they did find us skinning it, they were evidently not at 
all satisfied that it was really their bobcat — the one which 
they had been trailing. Usually as soon as the animal 
was killed they all lay down and dozed off; but on this 
occasion they kept hurrying about and then in a body 
started on the back trail. It was some time before we 
could get them together again. 

After we had brought them in we rode across one or 
two ridges, and up and down the spurs without finding 
anything, until about noon we struck up a long winding 
valley where we came across one or two old cougar trails. 
The pack were following in our footsteps behind the 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS S7 

horses, except Jim, who took off to one side by himself. 
Suddenly he began to show signs that he had come across 
traces of game; and in another moment he gave tongue 
and all the hounds started toward him. They quartered 
around in the neighborhood of a little gulch for a short 
while, and then streamed off up the mountain-side; and 
before they had run more than a couple of minutes we 
heard them barking treed. By making a slight turn we 
rode almost up to the tree, and saw that their quarry was 
a young cougar. As we came up, it knocked Jimmie 
right out of the tree. On seeing us it jumped down and 
started to run, but it was not quite quick enough. Turk 
seized it and in a minute the dogs had it stretched out. It 
squawled, hissed, and made such a good fight that I put 
an end to the struggle with the knife, fearing lest it might 
maim one of the hounds. 

While Goff was skinning it I wandered down to the 
kill near which it had been lying. This was a deer, al- 
most completely devoured. It had been killed in the val- 
ley and dragged up perhaps a hundred yards to some 
cedars. I soon saw from the tracks around the carcass 
that there was an older cougar with the younger one — 
doubtless its mother — and walked back to Goff with the 
information. Before I got there, however, some of the 
pack had made the discovery for themselves. Jim, evi- 
dently feeling that he had done his duty, had curled up 
and gone to sleep, with most of the others; but old Boxer 
and the three bitches (Pete had left her pups and joined 
us about the time we roused the big bobcat) , hunted about 
until they struck the fresh trail of the old female. They 



58 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

went off at a great rate, and the sleeping dogs heard them 
and scampered away to the sound. The trail led them 
across a spur, into a valley, and out of it up the precipi- 
tous side of another mountain. When we got to the edge 
of the valley we could hear them barking treed nearly 
at the summit of the mountain opposite. It was over an 
hour's stiff climbing before we made our way around to 
them, although we managed to get the horses up to within 
a quarter of a mile of the spot. On approaching we found 
the cougar in a leaning pinyon on a ledge at the foot of 
a cliff. Jimmie was in the lower branches of the pinyon, 
and Turk up above him, within a few feet of the cougar. 
Evidently he had been trying to tackle her and had been 
knocked out of the tree at least once, for he was bleed- 
ing a good deal and there was much blood on the snow 
beneath. Yet he had come back into the tree, and was 
barking violently not more than three feet beyond her 
stroke. She kept up a low savage growling, and as soon 
as I appeared, fixed her yellow eyes on me, glaring and 
snarling as I worked around into a place from which 
I could kill her outright. Meanwhile Goff took up his 
position on the other side, hoping to get a photograph 
when I shot. My bullet went right through her heart. 
She bit her paw, stretched up her head and bit a branch, 
and then died where she was, while Turk leaped forward 
at the crack of the rifle and seized her in the branches. 
I had some difliculty in bundling him and Jimmie out of 
the tree as I climbed up to throw down the cougar. 

Next morning we started early, intending to go to 
Juniper Mountain, where we had heard that cougars 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 59 

were plentiful; but we had only ridden about half an 
hour from the ranch when we came across a trail which 
by the size we knew must belong to an old male. It was 
about thirty-six hours old and led into a tangle of bad 
lands where there was great difficulty in working it 
out. Finally, however, we found where it left these bad 
lands and went straight up a mountain-side, too steep for 
the horses to follow. From the plains below we watched 
the hounds working to and fro until they entered a patch 
of pinyons in which we were certain the cougar had 
killed a deer, as ravens and magpies were sitting around 
in the trees. In these pinyons the hounds were again at 
fault for a little while, but at last evidently found the 
right trail, and followed it up over the hill-crest and out 
of sight. We then galloped hard along the plain to the 
left, going around the end of the ridge and turning to 
our right on the other side. Here we entered a deep 
narrow valley or gorge which led up to a high plateau 
at the farther end. On our right, as we rode up the 
valley, lay the high and steep ridge over which the hounds 
had followed the trail. On the left it was still steeper, 
the slope being broken by ledges and precipices. Near 
the mouth of the gorge we encountered the hounds, who 
had worked the trail down and across the gorge, and were 
now hunting up the steep clifT-shoulder on our left. Evi- 
dently the cougar had wandered to and fro over this 
shoulder, and the dogs were much puzzled and worked 
in zigzags and circles around it, gradually getting clear 
to the top. Then old Boxer suddenly gave tongue with 
renewed zest and started off at a run almost on top of 



6o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the ridge, the other dogs following. Immediately after- 
ward they jumped the cougar. 

We had been waiting below to see which direction the 
chase would take and now put spurs to our horses and 
galloped up the ravine, climbing the hillside on our right 
so as to get a better view of what was happening. A few 
hundred yards of this galloping and climbing brought us 
again in sight of the hounds. They were now barking 
treed and were clustered around a pinyon below the ridge 
crest on the side hill opposite us. The two fighters, Turk 
and Queen, who had been following at our horses' heels, 
appreciated what had happened as soon as we did, and, 
leaving us, ran down into the valley and began to work 
their way through the deep snow up the hillside opposite, 
toward where the hounds were. Ours was an ideal posi- 
tion for seeing the whole chase. In a minute the cougar 
jumped out of the tree down among the hounds, who 
made no attempt to seize him, but followed him as soon 
as he had cleared their circle. He came down hill at a 
great rate and jumped over a low cliff, bringing after 
him such an avalanche of snow that it was a moment 
before I caught sight of him again, this time crouched 
on a narrow ledge some fifteen or twenty feet below 
the brink from which he had jumped, and about as far 
above the foot of the clifif, where the steep hill-slope 
again began. The hounds soon found him and came 
along the ledge barking loudly, but not venturing near 
where he lay facing them, with his back arched like 
a great cat. Turk and Queen were meanwhile working 
their way up hill. Turk got directly under the ledge 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 6i 

and could not find a way up. Queen went to the left and 
in a minute we saw her white form as she made her way 
through the dark-colored hounds straight for the cougar. 
"That's the end of Queen," said Gof?; "he'll kill her 
now, sure." In another moment she had made her rush 
and the cougar, bounding forward, had seized her, and 
as we afterward discovered had driven his great fangs 
right through the side of her head, fortunately missing 
the brain. In the struggle he lost his footing and rolled 
oflf the ledge, and when they struck the ground below he 
let go of the bitch. Turk, who was near where they 
struck, was not able to spring for the hold he desired, and 
in another moment the cougar was coming down hill like 
a quarter horse. We stayed perfectly still, as he was 
travelling in our direction. Queen was on her feet al- 
most as quick as the cougar, and she and Turk tore after 
him, the hounds following in a few seconds, being de- 
layed in getting off the ledge. It was astonishing to see 
the speed of the cougar. He ran considerably more than 
a quarter of a mile down hill, and at the end of it had 
left the df)gs more than a hundred yards behind. But his 
bolt was shot, and after going perhaps a hundred yards 
or so up the hill on our side and below us, he climbed 
a tree, under which the dogs began to bay frantically, 
while we scrambled toward them. When I got down I 
found him standing half upright on a big branch, his 
forepaws hung over another higher branch, his sides puff- 
ing like bellows, and evidently completely winded. In 
scrambling up the pinyon he must have struck a patch 
of resin, for it had torn a handful of hair off from behind 



62 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

his right forearm. I shot him through the heart. At the 
shot he sprang clean into the top of the tree, head and 
tail up, and his face fairly demoniac with rage; but be- 
fore he touched the ground he was dead. Turk jumped 
up, seized him as he fell, and the two rolled over a low 
ledge, falling about eight feet into the snow, Turk never 
losing his hold. 

No one could have wished to see a prettier chase un- 
der better circumstances. It was exceedingly interesting. 
The only dog hurt was Queen, and very miserable indeed 
she looked. She stood in the trail, refusing to lie down 
or to join the other dogs, as, with prodigious snarls at one 
another, they ate the pieces of the carcass we cut out for 
them. Dogs hunting every day, as these were doing, and 
going through such terrific exertion, need enormous 
quantities of meat, and as old horses and crippled steers 
were not always easy to get, we usually fed them the cou- 
gar carcasses. On this occasion, when they had eaten 
until they could eat no longer, I gave most of my lunch to 
Queen — Boxer, who after his feast could hardly move, 
nevertheless waddling up with his ears forward to beg 
a share. Queen evidently felt that the lunch was a deli- 
cacy, for she ate it, and then trotted home behind us with 
the rest of the dogs. Rather to my astonishment, next 
day she was all right, and as eager to go with us as ever. 
Though one side of her head was much swollen, in her 
work she showed no signs of her injuries. 

Early the following morning, February 14th, the last 
day of my actual hunting, we again started for Juniper 
Mountain, following the same course on which we had 




I 



i 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 63 

started the previous day. Before we had gone a mile, 
that is, only about half-way to where we had come across 
the cougar track the preceding day, we crossed another, 
and as we deemed a fresher, trail, which Gofif pronounced 
to belong to a cougar even larger than the one we had 
just killed. The hounds were getting both weary and 
footsore, but the scent put heart into them and away they 
streamed. They followed it across a sage-brush fiat, and 
then worked along under the base of a line of cliffs — cou- 
gar being particularly apt thus to travel at the foot of 
cliffs. The pack kept well together, and it was pleasant, 
as we cantered over the snowy plain beside them, to lis- 
ten to their baying, echoed back from the cliffs above. 
Then they worked over the hill and we spurred ahead 
and turned to the left, up the same gorge or valley in 
which we had killed the cougar the day before. The 
hounds followed the trail straight to the cliff-shoulder 
where the day before the pack had been puzzled until 
Boxer struck the fresh scent. Here they seemed to be 
completely at fault, circling everywhere, and at one time 
following their track of yesterday over to the pinyon-tree 
up which the cougar had first gone. 

We made our way up the ravine to the head of the 
plateau, and then, turning, came back along the ridge 
until we reached the top of the shoulder where the dogs 
had been; but when we got there they had disappeared. 
It did not seem likely that the cougar had crossed the 
ravine behind us — although as a matter of fact this was 
exactly what had happened — and we did not know what 
to make of the affair. 



64 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

We could barely hear the hounds; they had followed 
their back trail of the preceding day, toward the place 
where we had first come across the tracks of the cougar 
we had already killed. We were utterly puzzled, even 
Gofif being completely at fault, and we finally became 
afraid that the track which the pack had been running 
was one which, instead of having been made during the 
night, had been there the previous morning, and had been 
made by the dead cougar. This meant, of course, that 
we had passed it without noticing it, both going and com- 
ing, on the previous day, and knowing Gofif's eye for a 
track I could not believe this. He, however, thought we 
might have confused it with some of the big wolf tracks, 
of which a number had crossed our path. After some 
hesitation, he said that at any rate we could find out the 
truth by getting back into the flat and galloping around 
to where we had begun our hunt the day before; because 
if the dogs really had a fresh cougar before them he must 
have so short a start that they were certain to tree him 
by the time they got across the ridge-crest. Accordingly 
we scrambled down the precipitous mountain-side, gal- 
loped along the flat around the end of the ridge and drew 
rein at about the place where we had first come across 
the cougar trail on the previous day. Not a dog was to 
be heard anywhere, and Gold's belief that the pack was 
simply running a back track became a certainty both in 
his mind and mine, when Jim suddenly joined us, evi- 
dently having given up the chase. We came to the con- 
clusion that Jim, being wiser than the other dogs, had 
discovered his mistake while they had not; " he just nat- 
urally quit," said Gofif. 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 65 

After some little work we found where the pack had 
crossed the broad fiat valley into a mass of very rough 
broken country, the same in which I had shot my first 
big male by moonlight. Cantering and scrambling 
through this stretch of cliffs and valleys, we began to hear 
the dogs, and at first were puzzled because once or twice 
it seemed as though they were barking treed or had some- 
thing at bay; always, however, as we came nearer we 
could again hear them running a trail, and when we 
finally got up tolerably close we found that they were all 
scattered out. Boxer was far behind, and Nellie, whose 
feet had become sore, was soberly accompanying him, no 
longer giving tongue. The others were separated one 
from the other, and we finally made out Tree'em all by 
himself, and not very far away. In vain Goff called and 
blew his horn; Tree'em disappeared up a high hillside, 
and with muttered comments on his stupidity we gal- 
loped our horses along the valley around the foot of the 
hill, hoping to intercept him. No sooner had we come 
to the other side, however, than we heard Tree'em evi- 
dently barking treed. We looked at one another, won- 
dering whether he had come across a bobcat, or whether 
it had really been a fresh cougar trail after all. 

Leaving our horses we scrambled up the canyon until 
we got in sight of a large pinyon on the hillside, under- 
neath which Tree'em was standing, with his preposter- 
ous tail arched like a pump-handle, as he gazed solemnly 
up in the tree, now and then uttering a bark at a huge 
cougar, which by this time we could distinctly make out 
standing in the branches. Turk and Queen had already 



66 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

left us and were running hard to join Tree'em, and in an- 
other minute or two all of the hounds, except the belated 
Boxer and Nellie, had also come up. The cougar having 
now recovered his wind, jumped down and cantered off. 
He had been running for three hours before the dogs and 
evidently had been overtaken again and again, but had 
either refused to tree, or if he did tree had soon come 
down and continued his flight, the hounds not venturing 
to meddle with him, and he paying little heed to them. 
It was a different matter, however, with Turk and Queen 
along. He went up the hill and came to bay on the top 
of the cliffs, where we could see him against the skyline. 
The hounds surrounded him, but neither they nor Turk 
came to close quarters. Queen, however, as soon as she 
arrived rushed straight in, and the cougar knocked her 
a dozen feet off. Turk tried to seize him as soon as Queen 
had made her rush ; the cougar broke bay, and they all dis- 
appeared over the hill-top, while we hurried after them. 
A quarter of a mile beyond, on the steep hillside, they 
again had him up a pinyon-tree. I approached as cau- 
tiously as possible so as not to alarm him. He stood in 
such an awkward position that I could not get a fair 
shot at the heart, but the bullet broke his back, and 
the dogs seized him as he struck the ground. There 
was still any amount of fight in him, and I ran in as 
fast as possible, jumping and slipping over the rocks 
and the bushes as the cougar and dogs rolled and slid 
down the steep mountain-side — for, of course, every min- 
ute's delay meant the chance of a dog being killed or 
crippled. It was a day of misfortunes for Jim, who was 



WITH THE COUGAR HOUNDS 67 

knocked completely out of the fight by a single blow. 
The cougar was too big for the dogs to master, even crip- 
pled as he was; but when I came up close Turk ran in 
and got the great beast by one ear, stretching out the cou- 
gar's head, while he kept his own forelegs tucked way 
back so that the cougar could not get hold of them. This 
gave me my chance and I drove the knife home, leaping 
back before the creature could get round at me. Boxer 
did not come up for half an hour, working out every inch 
of the trail for himself, and croaking away at short in- 
tervals, while Nellie trotted calmly beside him. Even 
when he saw us skinning the cougar he would not hurry 
nor take a short cut, but followed the scent to where the 
cougar had gone up the tree, and from the tree down to 
where we were; then he meditatively bit the carcass, 
strolled off, and lay down, satisfied. 

It was a very large cougar, fat and heavy, and the men 
at the ranch believed it was the same one which had at 
intervals haunted the place for two or three years, kill- 
ing on one occasion a milch cow, on another a steer, and 
on yet another a big work horse. Goff stated that he had 
on two or three occasions killed cougars that were quite 
as long, and he believed even an inch or two longer, but 
that he had never seen one as large or as heavy. Its 
weight was 227 pounds, and as it lay stretched out it 
looked like a small African lioness. It would be im- 
possible to wish a better ending to a hunt. 

The next day Goff and I cantered thirty miles into 
Meeker, and my holiday was over. 



CHAPTER II 

A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 

In mid-April, nineteen hundred and five, our party, 
consisting of Philip B. Stewart, of Colorado Springs, and 
Dr. Alexander Lambert, of New York, in addition to my- 
self, left Newcastle, Col., for a bear hunt. As guides and 
hunters we had John Gofif and Jake Borah, than whom 
there are no better men at their work of hunting bear 
in the mountains with hounds. Each brought his own 
dogs; all told, there were twenty-six hounds, and four 
half-blood terriers to help worry the bear when at bay. 
We travelled in comfort, with a big pack train, spare 
horses for each of us, and a cook, packers, and horse 
wranglers. I carried one of the new model Springfield 
military rifles, a 30-40, with a soft-nosed bullet — a very 
accurate and hard-hitting gun. 

This first day we rode about twenty miles to where 
camp was pitched on the upper waters of East Divide 
Creek. It was a picturesque spot. At this altitude it was 
still late winter and the snow lay in drifts, even in the 
creek bottom, while the stream itself was not yet clear 
from ice. The tents were pitched in a grove of leafless 
aspens and great spruces, beside the rushing, ice-rimmed 
brook. The cook tent, with its stove, was an attractive 
place on the cool mornings and in stormy weather. Fry, 

68 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 69 

the cook, a most competent man, had rigged up a table, 
and we had folding camp-chairs — luxuries utterly un- 
known to my former camping trips. Each day we break- 
fasted early and dined ten or twelve hours later, on re- 
turning from the day's hunt; and as we carried no lunch, 
the two meals were enjoyed with ravenous pleasure by the 
entire company. The horses were stout, tough, shaggy 
beasts, of wonderful staying power, and able to climb like 
cats. The country was very steep and rugged; the moun- 
tain-sides were greasy and slippery from the melting 
snow, while the snow bucking through the deep drifts on 
their tops and on the north sides was exhausting. Only 
sure-footed animals could avoid serious tumbles, and only 
animals of great endurance could have lasted through 
the work. Both Johnny Goflf and his partner. Brick 
Wells, who often accompanied us on the hunts, were fre- 
quently mounted on animals of uncertain temper, with 
a tendency to buck on insufficient provocation; but they 
rode them with entire indifference up and down any 
incline. One of the riders, " Al," a very good tempered 
man, a tireless worker, had as one of his horses a queer, 
big-headed dun beast, with a black stripe down its back 
and traces of zebra-like bands on the backs of his front 
legs. He was an atavistic animal, looking much as the 
horses must have looked which an age or two ago lived 
in this very locality and were preyed on by sabre-toothed 
tigers, hyenadons, and other strange and terrible beasts 
of a long-vanished era. Lambert remarked to him: " Al, 
you ought to call that horse of yours ' Fossil'; he is a 
hundred thousand years old." To which Al, with im- 



70 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

movable face, replied: " Gee! and that man sold him to 
me for a seven-year-old! I'll have the law on him! " 

The hounds were most interesting, and showed all the 
variations of character and temper to be expected in such 
a pack; a pack in which performance counted for every- 
thing and pedigree for nothing. One of the best hounds 
was half fox terrier. Three of Johnny's had been with 
us four years before, when he and I hunted cougars to- 
gether; these three being Jim, now an old dog, who 
dropped behind in a hard run, but still excellent on a 
cold trail; Tree'em, who, like Jim, had grown aged, but 
was very sure; and Bruno, who had become one of the 
best of all the pack on a hot trail, but who was apt to over- 
run it if it became at all difficult and cold. The biggest 
dog of the pack, a very powerful animal, was Badge, who 
was half foxhound and half what Johnny called Siberian 
bloodhound — I suppose a Great Dane or Ulm dog. His 
full brother Bill came next to him. There was a Rowdy 
in Jake's pack and another Rowdy in Johnny's, and each 
got badly hurt before the hunt was through. Jake's 
Rowdy, as soon as an animal was killed, became very 
cross and wished to attack any dog that came near. One of 
Jake's best hounds was old Bruise, a very sure, although 
not a particularly fast dog. All the members of the pack 
held the usual wild-beast attitude toward one another. 
They joined together for the chase and the fight, but once 
the quarry was killed, their relations among themselves 
became those of active hostility or selfish indifference. 
At feeding time each took whatever his strength per- 
mitted, and each paid abject deference to whichever ani- 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 71 

mal was his known superior in prowess. Some of the 
younger dogs would now and then run deer or coyote. 
But the older dogs paid heed only to bear and bobcat; and 
the pack, as a body, discriminated sharply between the 
hounds they could trust and those which would go off 
on a wrong trail. The four terriers included a heavy, 
liver-colored half-breed bull-dog, a preposterous animal 
who looked as if his ancestry had included a toadfish. 
He was a terrible fighter, but his unvarying attitude tow- 
ard mankind was one of effusive and rather foolish 
affection. In a fight he could whip any of the hounds 
save Badge, and he was far more willing than Badge to 
accept punishment. There was also a funny little black 
and tan, named Skip, a most friendly little fellow, espe- 
cially fond of riding in front or behind the saddle of any 
one of us who would take him up, although perfectly 
able to travel forty miles a day on his own sturdy legs if 
he had to, and then to join in the worry of the quarry 
when once it had been shot. Porcupines abounded in the 
woods, and one or two of the terriers and half a dozen 
of the hounds positively refused to learn any wisdom, 
invariably attacking each porcupine they found; the re- 
sult being that we had to spend many minutes in removing 
the quills from their mouths, eyes, etc. A white bull-ter- 
rier would come in from such a combat with his nose 
literally looking like a glorified pincushion, and many of 
the spines we had to take out with nippers. The terriers 
never ran with the hounds, but stayed behind with the 
horses until they heard the hounds barking " bayed " or 
" treed," when they forthwith tore toward them. Skip 



72 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

adopted me as his special master, rode with me whenever 
I would let him, and slept on the foot of my bed at night, 
growling defiance at anything that came near. I grew 
attached to the friendly, bright little fellow, and at the 
end of the hunt took him home with me as a playmate 
for the children. 

It was a great, wild country. In the creek bottoms 
there were a good many ranches ; but we only occasionally 
passed by these, on our way to our hunting grounds in the 
wilderness along the edge of the snow-line. The moun- 
tains crowded close together in chain, peak, and table- 
land; all the higher ones were wrapped in an unrent 
shroud of snow. We saw a good many deer, and fresh 
sign of elk, but no elk themselves, although we were in- 
formed that bands were to be found in the high spruce 
timber where the snows were so deep that it would have 
been impossible to go on horseback, while going on foot 
would have been inconceivably fatiguing. The country 
was open. The high peaks were bare of trees. Cotton- 
woods, and occasionally dwarfed birch or maple and wil- 
lows, fringed the streams; aspens grew in groves higher 
up. There were pinyons and cedars on the slopes of the 
foothills; spruce clustered here and there in the cooler 
ravines and valleys and high up the mountains. The 
dense oak brush and thick growing cedars were hard on 
our clothes, and sometimes on our bodies. 

Bear and cougars had once been very plentiful 
throughout this region, but during the last three or four 
years the cougars have greatly diminished in numbers 
throughout northern Colorado, and the bears have dimin- 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 73 

ished also, although not to the same extent. The great 
grizzlies which were once fairly plentiful here are now 
very rare, as they are in most places in the United States. 
There remain plenty of the black and brown bears, which 
are simply individual color phases of the same species. 

Bears are interesting creatures and their habits are 
always worth watching. When I used to hunt grizzlies 
my experience tended to make me lay special emphasis 
on their variation in temper. There are savage and cow- 
ardly bears, just as there are big and little ones; and 
sometimes these variations are very marked among bears 
of the same district, and at other times all the bears of 
one district will seem to have a common code of behavior 
which differs utterly from that of the bears of another 
district. Readers of Lewis and Clark do not need to be 
reminded of the great difference they found in ferocity 
between the bears of the upper Missouri and the bears of 
the Columbia River country; and those who have lived 
in the upper Missouri country nowadays know how wide- 
ly the bears that still remain have altered in character 
from what they were as recently as the middle of the last 
century. 

This variability has been shown in the bears which 
I have stumbled upon at close quarters. On but one oc- 
casion was I ever regularly charged by a grizzly. To this 
animal I had given a mortal wound, and without any 
effort at retaliation he bolted into a thicket of what, in 
my hurry, I thought was laurel (it being composed in 
reality, I suppose, of thick-growing berry bushes). On 
my following him and giving him a second wound, he 



74 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

charged very determinedly, taking two more bullets with- 
out flinching. I just escaped the charge by jumping to 
one side, and he died almost immediately after striking at 
me as he rushed by. This bear charged with his mouth 
open, but made very little noise after the growl or roar 
with which he greeted my second bullet. I mention the 
fact of his having kept his mouth open, because one or two 
of my friends who have been charged have informed me 
that in their cases they particularly noticed that the bear 
charged with his mouth shut. Perhaps the fact that my 
bear was shot through the lungs may account for the dif- 
ference, or it may simply be another example of indi- 
vidual variation. 

On another occasion, in a windfall, I got up within 
eight or ten feet of a grizzly, which simply bolted off, pay- 
ing no heed to a hurried shot which I delivered as I 
poised unsteadily on the swaying top of an overthrown 
dead pine. On yet another occasion, when I roused a big 
bear from his sleep, he at the first moment seemed to pay 
little or no heed to me, and then turned toward me in a 
leisurely way, the only sign of hostility he betrayed being 
to ruffle up the hair on his shoulders and the back of his 
neck. I hit him square between the eyes, and he dropped 
like a pole-axed steer. 

On another occasion I got up quite close to and mor- 
tally wounded a bear, which ran off without uttering a 
sound until it fell dead; but another of these grizzlies, 
which I shot from ambush, kept squalling and yelling 
every time I hit him, making a great rumpus. On one 
occasion one of my cow hands and myself were able to 




<; M) 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 75 

run down on foot a she grizzly bear and her cub, which 
had obtained a long start of us, simply because of the 
foolish conduct of the mother. The cub — or more prop- 
erly the yearling, for it was a cub of the second year — 
ran on far ahead, and would have escaped if the old she 
had not continually stopped and sat up on her hind legs 
to look back at us. I think she did this partly from curi- 
osity, but partly also from bad temper, for once or twice 
she grinned and roared at us. The upshot of it was that I 
got within range and put a bullet in the old she, who 
afterward charged my companion and was killed; and 
we also got the yearling. 

One young grizzly which I killed many years ago 
dropped to the first bullet, which entered its stomach. It 
then let myself and my companion approach closely, look- 
ing up at us with alert curiosity, but making no effort 
to escape. It was really not crippled at all, but we 
thought from its actions that its back was broken, and my 
companion advanced to kill it with his pistol. The pistol, 
however, did not inflict a mortal wound, and the only 
effect was to make the young bear jump to its feet as if 
unhurt, and race off at full speed through the timber; for 
though not full grown it was beyond cubhood, being 
probably about eighteen months old. By desperate run- 
ning I succeeded in getting another shot, and more by 
luck than by anything else knocked it over, this time per- 
manently. 

Black bear are not, under normal conditions, formi- 
dable brutes. If they do charge and get home they may 
maul a man severely, and there are a number of instances 



76 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

on record in which they have killed men. Ordinarily, 
however, a black bear will not charge home, though he 
may bluster a good deal. I once shot one very close up 
which made a most lamentable outcry, and seemed to lose 
its head, its efforts to escape resulting in its bouncing 
about among the trees with such heedless hurry that I 
was easily able to kill it. Another black bear, which I 
also shot at close quarters, came straight for my compan- 
ions and myself, and almost ran over the white hunter 
who was with me. This bear made no sound whatever 
when I first hit it, and I do not think it was charging. I 
believe it was simply dazed, and by accident ran the 
wrong way, and so almost came into collision with us. 
However, when it found itself face to face with the white 
hunter, and only four or five feet away, it prepared for 
hostilities, and I think would have mauled him if I had 
not brained it with another bullet; for I was myself stand- 
ing but six feet or so to one side of it. None of the bears 
shot on this Colorado trip made a sound when hit; they 
all died silently, like so many wolves. 

Ordinarily, my experience has been that bears were 
not flurried when I suddenly came upon them. They 
impressed me as if they were always keeping in mind the 
place toward which they wished to retreat in the event 
of danger, and for this place, which was invariably a 
piece of rough ground or dense timber, they made off 
with all possible speed, not seeming to lose their heads. 

Frequently I have been able to watch bears for some 
time while myself unobserved. With other game I have 
very often done this even when within close range, not 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 



11 



wishing to kill creatures needlessly, or without a good 
object; but with bears, my experience has been that 
chances to secure them come so seldom as to make it very 
distinctly worth while improving any that do come, and 
I have not spent much time watching any bear unless he 
was in a place where I could not get at him, or else was 
so close at hand that I was not afraid of his getting away. 
On one occasion the bear was hard at work digging up 
squirrel or gopher caches on the side of a pine-clad hill; 
while at this work he looked rather like a big badger. 
On two other occasions the bear was fussing around a car- 
cass preparatory to burying it. On these occasions I was 
very close, and it was extremely interesting to note the 
grotesque, half-human movements, and giant, awkward 
strength of the great beast. He would twist the carcass 
around with the utmost ease, sometimes taking it in his 
teeth and dragging it, at other times grasping it in his 
forepaws and half lifting, half shoving it. Once the bear 
lost his grip and rolled over during the course of some 
movement, and this made him angry, and he struck the 
carcass a savage whack, just as a pettish child will strike 
a table against which it has knocked itself. At another 
time I watched a black bear some distance off getting 
his breakfast under stumps and stones. He was very ac- 
tive, turning the stone or log over, and then thrusting his 
muzzle into the empty space to gobble up the small creat- 
ures below before they recovered from their surprise and 
the sudden inflow of light. From under one log he put 
a chipmunk, and danced hither and thither with even 
more agility than awkwardness, slapping at the chip- 



78 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

munk with his paw while it zigzagged about, until finally 
he scooped it into his mouth. 

All this was in the old days when I was still-hunting, 
with only the rifle. This Colorado trip was the first on 
which I hunted bears with hounds. If we had run across 
a grizzly there would doubtless have been a chance to 
show some prowess, at least in the way of hard riding. 
But the black and brown bears cannot, save under ex- 
ceptional circumstances, escape from such a pack as we 
had with us; and the real merit of the chase was confined 
to the hounds and to Jake and Johnny for their skill in 
handling them. Perhaps I should add the horses, for 
their extraordinary endurance and surefootedness. As 
for the rest of us, we needed to do little more than to 
sit ten or twelve hours in the saddle and occasionally lead 
the horses up or down the most precipitous and cliff-like 
of the mountain sides. But it was great fun, nevertheless, 
and usually a chase lasted long enough to be interesting. 

The first day after reaching camp we rode for eleven 
hours over a very difficult country, but without getting 
above the snow-line. Finally the dogs got on the fresh 
trail of a bobcat, and away they went. A bobcat will 
often give a good run, much better, on the average, than 
a cougar; and this one puzzled the dogs not a little at 
first. It scrambled out of one deep valley, crossing and 
recrossing the rock ledges where its scent was hard to 
follow; then plunged into another valley. Meanwhile 
we had ridden up on the high mountain spur betw^een the 
two valleys, and after scrambling and galloping to and 
fro as the cry veered from point to point when the dogs 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 79 

changed directions, we saw them cross into the second 
valley. Here again they took a good deal of time to 
puzzle out the trail, and became somewhat scattered. We 
had dismounted and were standing by the horses' heads, 
listening to the baying and trying to decide which way 
we should go, when Stewart suddenly pointed us out a 
bear. It was on the other side of the valley from us, and 
perhaps half a mile away, galloping down hill, with two 
of the hounds after it, and in the sunlight its fur looked 
glossy black. In a minute or two it passed out of sight 
in the thick-growing timber at the bottom of the valley; 
and as we afterward found, the two hounds, getting mo- 
mentarily thrown out, and hearing the others still baying 
on the cat trail, joined the latter. Jake started ofif to go 
around the head of the valley, while the rest of us plunged 
dow^n into it. We found from the track that the bear 
had gone up the valley, and Jake found where he had 
come out on the high divide, and then turned and re- 
traced his steps. But the hounds were evidently all after 
the cat. There was nothing for us to do but follow them. 
Sometimes riding, sometimes leading the horses, we went 
up the steep hillside, and as soon as we reached the crest 
heard the hounds barking treed. Shorty and Skip, who 
always trotted after the horses while the hounds were in 
full cry on a trail, recognized the change of note im- 
mediately, and tore ofif in the direction of the bay, while 
we followed as best we could, hoping to get there in time 
for Stewart and Lambert to take photographs of the lynx 
in a tree. But we were too late. Both Shorty and Skip 
could climb trees, and although Skip was too light to 



8o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

tackle a bobcat by himself, Shorty, a heavy, formidable 
dog, of unflinching courage and great physical strength, 
was altogether too much for any bobcat. When we 
reached the place we found the bobcat in the top of a 
pinyon, and Shorty steadily working his way up through 
the branches and very near the quarry. Evidently the 
bobcat felt that the situation needed the taking of desper- 
ate chances, and just before Shorty reached it out it 
jumped. Shorty yelling with excitement as he plunged 
down through the branches after it. But the cat did not 
jump far enough. One of the hounds seized it by the 
hind leg and in another second everything was over. 

Shorty was always the first of the pack to attack dan- 
gerous game, and in attacking bear or cougar even Badge 
was much less reckless and more wary. In consequence. 
Shorty was seamed over with scars; most of them from 
bobcats, but one or two from cougars. He could speedily 
kill a bobcat single-handed; for these small lynxes are not 
really formidable fighters, although they will lacerate a 
dog quite severely. Shorty found a badger a much more 
difficult antagonist than a bobcat. A bobcat in a hole 
makes a hard fight, however. On this hunt we once got 
a bobcat under a big rock, and Jake's Rowdy in trying to 
reach it got so badly mauled that he had to join the 
invalid class for several days. 

The bobcat we killed this first day was a male, weigh- 
ing twenty-five pounds. It was too late to try after the 
bear, especially as we had only ten or a dozen dogs out, 
while the bear's tracks showed it to be a big one; and 
we rode back to camp. 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 8i 

Next morning we rode off early, taking with us all 
twenty-six hounds and the four terriers. We wished first 
to find whether the bear had gone out of the country in 
which we had seen him, and so rode up a valley and then 
scrambled laboriously up the mountain-side to the top of 
the snow-covered divide. Here the snow was three feet 
deep in places, and the horses plunged and floundered as 
we worked our way in single file through the drifts. But 
it had frozen hard the previous night, so that a bear could 
walk on the crust and leave very little sign. In conse- 
quence we came near passing over the place where the 
animal we were after had actually crossed out of the 
canyon-like ravine in which we had seen him and gone 
over the divide into another set of valleys. The trail was 
so faint that it puzzled us, as we could not be certain how 
fresh it was, and until this point could be cleared up we 
tried to keep the hounds from following it. Old Jim, 
however, slipped off to one side and speedily satisfied 
himself that the trail was fresh. Along it he went, giving 
tongue, and the other dogs were maddened by the sound, 
while Jim, under such circumstances, paid no heed what- 
ever to any effort to make him come back. Accordingly, 
the other hounds were slipped after him, and down they 
ran into the valley, while we slid, floundered, and scram- 
bled along the ridge crest parallel to them, until a couple 
of miles farther on we worked our way down to some 
great slopes covered with dwarf scrub-oak. At the edge 
of these slopes, where they fell off in abrupt descent to 
the stream at the bottom of the valley, we halted. Op- 
posite us was a high and very rugged mountain-side cov- 



82 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ered with a growth of pinyon — never a close-grow- 
ing tree — its precipitous flanks broken by ledges and 
scored by gullies and ravines. It was hard to follow the 
scent across such a mountain-side, and the dogs speedily 
became much scattered. We could hear them plainly, 
and now and then could see them, looking like ants as 
they ran up and down hill and along the ledges. Finally 
we heard some of them barking bayed. The volume of 
sound increased steadily as the straggling dogs joined 
those which had first reached the hunted animal. At 
about this time, to our astonishment, Badge, usually a 
stanch fighter, rejoined us, followed by one or two other 
hounds, who seemed to have had enough of the matter. 
Immediately afterward we saw the bear, half-way up the 
opposite mountain-side. The hounds were all around 
him, and occasionally bit at his hind quarters; but he had 
evidently no intention of climbing a tree. When we first 
saw him he was sitting up on a point of rock surrounded 
by the pack, his black fur showing to fine advantage. 
Then he moved ofif, threatening the dogs, and making 
what in Mississippi is called a walking bay. He was a 
sullen, powerful beast, and his leisurely gait showed how 
little he feared the pack, and how confident he was in his 
own burly strength. By this time the dogs had been after 
him for a couple of hours, and as there was no water on 
the mountain-side we feared they might be getting ex- 
hausted, and rode toward them as rapidly as we could. 
It was a hard climb up to where they were, and we had 
to lead the horses. Just as we came in sight of him, across 
a deep gully which ran down the sheer mountain-side, 




DEATH OF THE BIG BEAR 
From a photograpli by I*hilip B. Stewart 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 83 

he broke bay and started off, threatening the foremost of 
the pack as they dared to approach him. They were all 
around him, and for a minute I could not fire; then as 
he passed under a pinyon I got a clear view of his great 
round stern and pulled trigger. The bullet broke both 
his hips, and he rolled down hill, the hounds yelling with 
excitement as they closed in on him. He could still play 
havoc with the pack, and there was need to kill him at 
once. I leaped and slid down my side of the gully as 
he rolled down his; at the bottom he stopped and 
raised himself on his fore quarters; and with another 
bullet I broke his back between the shoulders. 

Immediately all the dogs began to worry the carcass, 
while their savage baying echoed so loudly in the narrow, 
steep gully that we could with difficulty hear one another 
speak. It was a wild scene to look upon, as we scrambled 
down to where the dead bear lay on his back between 
the rocks. He did not die wholly unavenged, for he had 
killed one of the terriers and six other dogs were more 
or less injured. The chase of the bear is grim work for 
the pack. Jim, usually a very wary fighter, had a couple 
of deep holes in his thigh; but the most mishandled of 
the wounded dogs was Shorty. With his usual dauntless 
courage he had gone straight at the bear's head. Being 
such a heavy, powerful animal, I think if he had been 
backed up he could have held the bear's head down, and 
prevented the beast from doing much injury. As it was, 
the bear bit through the side of Shorty's head, and bit 
him in the shoulder, and again in the hip, inflicting very 
bad wounds. Once the fight was over Shorty lay down on 



84 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the hillside, unable to move. When we started home we 
put him beside a little brook, and left a piece of bear meat 
by him, as it was obvious we could not get him to camp 
that day. Next day one of the boys went back with a 
pack-horse to take him in; but half-way out met him 
struggling toward camp, and returned. Late in the after- 
noon Shorty turned up while we were at dinner, and stag- 
gered toward us, wagging his tail with enthusiastic de- 
light at seeing his friends. We fed him until he could not 
hold another mouthful ; then he curled up in a dry corner 
of the cook-tent and slept for forty-eight hours; and two 
or three days afterward was able once more to go hunting. 
The bear was a big male, weighing three hundred and 
thirty pounds. On examination at close quarters, his fur, 
which was in fine condition, was not as black as it had 
seemed when seen afar off, the roots of the hairs being 
brown. There was nothing whatever in his stomach. 
Evidently he had not yet begun to eat, and had been but 
a short while out of his hole. Bear feed very little when 
they first come out of their dens, sometimes beginning on 
grass, sometimes on buds. Occasionally they will feed at 
carcasses and try to kill animals within a week or two 
after they have left winter quarters, but this is rare, and as 
a usual thing for the first few weeks after they have come 
out they feed much as a deer would. Although not hog 
fat, as would probably have been the case in the fall, this 
bear was in good condition. In the fall, however, he 
would doubtless have weighed over four hundred pounds. 
The three old females we got on this trip weighed one 
hundred and eighty, one hundred and seventy-five, and 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 85 

one hundred and thirty-five pounds apiece. The year- 
lings weighed from thirty-one to forty pounds. The 
only other black bears I ever weighed all belonged to the 
sub-species Luteolus, and were killed on the Little Sun- 
flower River, in Mississippi, in the late fall of nineteen 
hundred and two. A big old male, in poor condition, 
weighed two hundred and eighty-five pounds, and two 
very fat females weighed two hundred and twenty and 
two hundred and thirty-five pounds respectively. 

The next few days we spent in hunting perseveringly, 
but unsuccessfully. Each day we were from six to twelve 
hours in the saddle, climbing with weary toil up the 
mountains and slipping and scrambling down them. On 
the tops and on the north slopes there was much snow, 
so that we had to pick our trails carefully, and even thus 
the horses often floundered belly-deep as we worked 
along in single file; the men on the horses which were 
best at snow bucking took turns in breaking the trail. 
In the worst places we had to dismount and lead the 
horses, often over such bad ground that nothing less sure- 
footed than the tough mountain ponies could even have 
kept their legs. The weather was cold, with occasional 
sharp flurries of snow, and once a regular snow-storm. 
We found the tracks of one or two bears, but in each case 
several days old, and it was evident either that the bears 
had gone back to their dens, finding the season so late, 
or else that they were lying quiet in sheltered places, and 
travelling as little as possible. One day, after a long run 
of certainly five or six miles through very difficult coun- 
try, the dogs treed a bobcat in a big cedar. It had run so 



86 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

far that it was badly out of breath. Stewart climbed 
the tree and took several photographs of it, pushing the 
camera up to within about four feet of where the cat 
sat. Lambert obtained photographs of both Stewart and 
the cat. Shorty was at this time still an invalid from his 
encounter with the bear, but Skip worked his way thirty 
feet up the tree in his effort to get at the bobcat. Lam- 
bert shot the latter with his revolver, the bobcat dying 
stuck in the branches; and he then had to climb the tree 
to get both the bobcat and Skip, as the latter was at such 
a height that we thought he would hurt himself if he 
fell. Another bobcat when treed sealed his own fate 
by stepping on a dead branch and falling right into the 
jaws of the pack. 

At this camp, as everywhere, the tiny four-striped 
chipmunks were plentiful and tame; they are cheerful, 
attractive little animals. We also saw white-footed mice 
and a big meadow mouse around camp ; and we found 
a young brushy-tailed pack-rat. The snowshoe rabbits 
were still white on the mountains, but in the lower valleys 
they had changed to the summer pelage. On the moun- 
tains we occasionally saw woodchucks and rock squirrels 
of two kinds, a large and a small — Spermophilus gram- 
murus and armatus. The noisy, cheerful pine squirrels 
were common where the woods were thick. There were 
eagles and ravens in the mountains, and once we saw 
sandhill cranes soaring far above the highest peaks. - The 
long-crested jays came familiarly around camp, but on 
this occasion we only saw the whiskey-jacks, Clark's nut- 
crackers and magpies, while off in the mountains. 




STEWART AND THE BOBCAT 
From a photograph, copyright, 1905, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 87 

Among the pinyons, we several times came across strag- 
gling flocks of the queer pinyon jays or blue crows, with 
their unmistakable calls and almost blacxkbird-like habits. 
There were hawks of several species, and blue grouse, 
while the smaller birds included flickers, robins, and the 
beautiful mountain bluebirds. Juncos and mountain 
chickadees were plentiful, and the ruby-crowned kinglets 
were singing with astonishing power for such tiny birds. 
We came on two nests of the red-tailed hawk; the birds 
were brooding, and seemed tame and unwary. 

After a week of this we came to the conclusion that 
the snow was too deep and the weather too cold for us to 
expect to get any more bear in the immediate neighbor- 
hood, and accordingly shifted camp to where Clear Creek 
joins West Divide Creek. 

The first day's hunt from the new camp was success- 
ful. We were absent about eleven hours and rode some 
forty miles. The day included four hours' steady snow 
bucking, for the bear, as soon as they got the chance, went 
through the thick timber where the snow lay deepest. 
Some tw^o hours after leaving camp we found the old 
tracks of a she and a yearling, but it took us a much longer 
time before we finally struck the fresh trail made late the 
previous night or early in the morning. It was Jake who 
first found this fresh track, while Johnny with the pack 
was a couple of miles away, slowly but surely puzzling 
out the cold trail and keeping the dogs up to their work. 
As soon as Johnny came up we put all the hounds on the 
tracks, and away they went, through and over the snow, 
yelling their eager delight. Meanwhile we had fixed our 



88 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

saddles and were ready for what lay ahead. It was 
wholly impossible to ride at the tail of the pack, but we 
did our best to keep within sound of the baying. Finally, 
after much hard work and much point riding through 
snow, slush, and deep mud, on the level, and along, up, 
and down sheer slopes, we heard the dogs barking treed 
in the middle of a great grove of aspens high up the 
mountain-side. The snow was too deep for the horses, 
and leaving them, we trudged heavily up on foot. The 
yearling was in the top of a tall aspen. Lambert shot 
it with his rifle and we then put the dogs on the trail of 
the old she. Some of the young ones did not know what 
to make of this, evidently feeling that the tracks must be 
those of the bear that they had already killed; but the 
veterans were in full cry at once. We scrambled after 
them up the steep mountain, and then downward along 
ridges and spurs, getting all the clear ground we could. 
Finally we had to take to the snow, and floundered and 
slid through the drifts until we were in the valley. Most 
of the time the dogs were within hearing, giving tongue 
as they followed the trail. Finally a total change in the 
note showed that they were barking treed; and as rapidly 
as possible we made our way toward the sound. Again 
we found ourselves unable to bring the horses up to where 
the bear had treed, and scrambled thither on foot through 
the deep snow. 

The bear was some thirty or forty feet up a tall 
spruce; it was a big she, with a glossy black-brown coat. 
I was afraid that at our approach she might come down; 
but she had been running hard for some four hours, had 




THE PACK BAYING THE BEAR 
From a photograpli, copyriglit, loo;. by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 89 

been pressed close, and evidently had not the slightest 
idea of putting herself of her own free will within the 
reach of the pack, which was now frantically baying at 
the foot of the tree. I shot her through the heart. As 
the bullet struck she climbed up through the branches 
with great agility for six or eight feet; then her muscles 
relaxed, and down she came with a thud, nearly burying 
herself in the snow. Little Skip was one of the first dogs 
to seize her as she came down; and in another moment 
he literally disappeared under the hounds as they piled 
on the bear. As soon as possible we got off the skin and 
pushed campward at a good gait, for we were a long 
way off. Just at nightfall we came out on a bluff from 
which we could overlook the rushing, swirling brown 
torrent, on the farther bank of which the tents were 
pitched. 

The stomach of this bear contained nothing but buds. 
Like the other shes killed on this trip, she was accom- 
panied by her yearling young, but had no newly born 
cub; sometimes bear breed only every other year, but 
I have found the mother accompanied not only by her 
cub but by her young of the year before. The yearling 
also had nothing but buds in its stomach. When its skin 
was taken off, Stewart looked at it, shook his head, and 
turning to Lambert said solemnly, " Alex., that skin isn't 
big enough to use for anything but a doily." From that 
time until the end of the hunt the yearlings were only 
known as " doily bears." 

Next morning we again went out, and this time for 
twelve hours steadily, in the saddle, and now and then 



90 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



on foot. Most of the time we were in snow, and it was 
extraordinary that the horses could get through it at all, 
especially in working up the steep mountain-sides. But 
until it got so deep that they actually floundered — that is, 
so long as they could get their legs down to the bottom — 
I found that they could travel much faster than I could. 
On this day some twenty good-natured, hard-riding 
young fellows from the ranches within a radius of a 
dozen miles had joined our party to " see the President 
kill a bear." They were a cheerful and eagerly friendly 
crowd, as hardy as so many young moose, and utterly fear- 
less horsemen; one of them rode his wild, nervous horse 
bareback, because it had bucked so when he tried to put 
the saddle on it that morning that he feared he would 
get left behind, and so abandoned the saddle outright. 
Whenever they had a chance they all rode at headlong 
speed, paying no heed to the slope of the mountain-side 
or the character of the ground. In the deep snow they 
did me a real service, for of course they had to ride 
their horses single file through the drifts, and by the time 
my turn came we had a good trail. 

After a good deal of beating to and fro, we found 
where an old she-bear with two yearlings had crossed a 
hill during the night and put the hounds on their tracks. 
Johnny and Jake, with one or two of the cowboys, fol- 
lowed the hounds over the exceedingly difficult hillside 
where the trail led; or rather, they tried to follow them, 
for the hounds speedily got clear away, as there were 
many places where they could run on the crust of the 
snow, in which the horses wallowed almost helpless. The 




A DOILY BEAR 
From a photograph, copyright, 1905, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 



91 



rest of us went down to the valley, where the snow was 
light and the going easier. The bear had travelled hither 
and thither through the woods on the sidehill, and the 
dogs became scattered. Moreover, they jumped sev- 
eral deer, and four or five of the young dogs took after 
one of the latter. Finally, however, the rest of the pack 
put up the three bears. We had an interesting glimpse 
of the chase as the bears quartered up across an open 
spot of the hillside. The hounds were but a short distance 
behind them, strung out in a long string, the more power- 
ful, those which could do best in the snow-bucking, tak- 
ing the lead. We pushed up the mountain-side after 
them, horse after horse getting down in the snow, and 
speedily heard the redoubled clamor which told us that 
something had been treed. It was half an hour before 
we could make our way to the tree, a spruce, in which 
the two yearlings had taken refuge, while around the 
bottom the entire pack was gathered, crazy with excite- 
ment. We could not take the yearlings alive, both be- 
cause we lacked the means of carrying them, and because 
we were anxious to get after the old bear. We could 
not leave them where they were, because it would have 
been well-nigh impossible to get the dogs away, and be- 
cause, even if we had succeeded in getting them away, 
they would not have run any other trail as long as they 
knew the yearlings were in the tree. It was therefore 
out of the question to leave them unharmed, as we should 
have been glad to do, and Lambert killed them both with 
his revolver; the one that was first hit immediately biting 
its brother. The ranchmen took them home to eat. 



92 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

The hounds were Immediately put on the trail of the 
old one and disappeared over the snow. In a few minutes 
we followed. It was heavy work getting up the moun- 
tain-side through the drifts, but once on top we made our 
way down a nearly bare spur, and then turned to the 
right, scrambled a couple of miles along a slippery side- 
hill, and halted. Below us lay a great valley, on the 
farther side of which a spruce forest stretched up toward 
the treeless peaks. Snow covered even the bottom of the 
valley, and lay deep and solid in the spruce forest on the 
mountain-side. The hounds were in full cry, evidently 
on a hot trail, and we caught glimpses of them far on the 
opposite side of the valley, crossing little open glades in 
the spruce timber. If the crust was hard they scattered 
out. Where it was at all soft they ran in single file. We 
worked our way down toward them, and on reaching the 
bottom of the valley, went up it as fast as the snow would 
allow. Finally we heard the pack again barking treed 
and started toward them. They had treed the bear far 
up the mountain-side in the thick spruce timber, and a 
short experiment showed us that the horses could not 
possibly get through the snow. Accordingly, off we 
jumped and went toward the sound on foot, all the young 
ranchmen and cowboys rushing ahead, and thereby again 
making me an easy trail. On the way to the tree the rider 
of the bareback horse pounced on a snowshoe rabbit 
which was crouched under a bush and caught it with his 
hands. It was half an hour before we reached the tree, 
a big spruce, up which the bear had gone to a height of 
some forty feet. I broke her neck with a single bullet. 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 93 

She was smaller than the one I had shot the day before, 
but full grown. In her stomach, as in those of the two 
yearlings, there were buds of rose-bushes and quaking 
aspens. One yearling had also swallowed a mouse. It 
was a long ride to camp, and darkness had fallen by the 
time we caught the gleam from the lighted tents, across 
the dark stream. 

With neither of these last two bear had there been any 
call for prowess ; my part was merely to kill the bear dead 
at the first shot, for the sake of the pack. But the days 
were very enjoyable, nevertheless. It was good fun to 
be twelve hours in the saddle in such wild and beautiful 
country, to look at and listen to the hounds as they 
worked, and finally to see the bear treed and looking 
down at the maddened pack baying beneath. 

For the next two or three days I was kept in camp 
by a touch of Cuban fever. On one of these days Lam- 
bert enjoyed the longest hunt we had on the trip, after 
an old she-bear and three yearlings. The yearlings treed 
one by one, each of course necessitating a stoppage, and 
it was seven in the evening before the old bear at last went 
up a Cottonwood and was shot; she was only wounded, 
however, and in the fight she crippled Johnny's Rowdy 
before she was killed. When the hunters reached camp 
it was thirteen hours since they had left it. The old bear 
was a very light brown; the first yearling was reddish- 
brown, the second light yellowish-brown, the third dark 
black-brown, though all were evidently of the same litter. 

Following this came a spell of bad weather, snow- 
storm and blizzard steadily succeeding one another. 



94 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

This lasted until my holiday was over. Some days we 
had to stay in camp. On other days we hunted ; but there 
was three feet of new snow on the summits and foothills, 
making it difficult to get about. We saw no more bear, 
and, indeed, no more bear-tracks that were less than two 
or three weeks old. 

We killed a couple of bobcats. The chase of one was 
marked by several incidents. We had been riding 
through a blizzard on the top of a plateau, and were glad 
to plunge down into a steep sheer-sided valley. By the 
time we reached the bottom there was a lull in the storm 
and we worked our way with considerable difficulty 
through the snow, down timber, and lava rock, toward 
Divide Creek. After ^ while the valley widened a little, 
spruce and aspens fringing the stream at the bottom while 
the sides were bare. Here we struck a fresh bobcat trail 
leading off up one of the mountain-sides. The hounds 
followed it nearly to the top, then turned and came down 
again, worked through the timber in the bottom, and 
struck out on the hillside opposite. Suddenly we saw the 
bobcat running ahead of them and doubling and circling. 
A few minutes afterward the hounds followed the trail 
to the creek bottom and then began to bark treed. But 
on reaching the point we found there was no cat in the 
tree, although the dogs seemed certain that there was; 
and Johnny and Jake speedily had them again running 
on the trail. After making its way for some distance 
through the bottom, the cat had again taken to the side- 
hill, and the hounds went after it hard. Again they went 
nearly to the top, again they streamed down to the bottom 




THE BIG BEAR 
From a photograph by Philip B. Stewart 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 95 

and crossed the creek. Soon afterward we saw the cat 
ahead of them. For the moment it threw them ofif the 
track by making a circle and galloping around close to 
the rearmost hounds. It then made for the creek bottom, 
where it climbed to the top of a tall aspen. The hounds 
soon picked up the trail again, and followed it full cry; 
but unfortunately just before they reached where it had 
treed they ran on to a porcupine. When we reached the 
foot of the aspen, in the top of which the bobcat crouched, 
with most of the pack baying beneath, we found the por- 
cupine dead and half a dozen dogs with their muzzles 
and throats filled full of quills. Before doing anything 
with the cat it was necessary to take these quills out. One 
of the terriers, which always found porcupines an irre- 
sistible attraction, was a really extraordinary sight, so 
thickly were the quills studded over his face and chest. 
But a big hound was in even worse condition; the quills 
were stuck in abundance into his nose, lips, cheeks, and 
tongue, and in the roof of his mouth they were almost 
as thick as bristles in a brush. Only by use of pincers was 
it possible to rid these two dogs of the quills, and it was 
a long and bloody job. The others had suffered less. 

The dogs seemed to have no sympathy with one an- 
other, and apparently all that the rest of the pack felt was 
that they were kept a long time waiting for the cat. They 
never stopped baying for a minute, and Shorty, as was his 
habit, deliberately bit great patches of bark from the 
aspens, to show his impatience; for the tree in which the 
cat stood was not one which he could climb. After at- 
tending to the porcupine dogs one of the men climbed 



96 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the tree and with a stick pushed out the cat. It dropped 
down through the branches forty or fifty feet, but was so 
quick in starting and dodging that it actually rushed 
through the pack, crossed the stream, and, doubling and 
twisting, was off up the creek through the timber. It 
ran cunning, and in a minute or two lay down under a 
bush and watched the hounds as they went by, overrun- 
ning its trail. Then it took off up the hillside; but the 
hounds speedily picked up its track, and running in single 
file, were almost on it. Then the cat turned down hill, 
but too late, for it was overtaken within fifty yards. This 
ended our hunting. 

One Sunday we rode down some six miles from camp 
to a little blue school-house and attended service. The 
preacher was in the habit of riding over every alternate 
Sunday from Rifle, a little town twenty or twenty-five 
miles away; and the ranchmen with their wives and chil- 
dren, some on horseback, some in wagons, had gathered 
from thirty miles round to attend the service. The crowd 
was so large that the exercises had to take place in the 
open air, and it was pleasant to look at the strong frames 
and rugged, weather-beaten faces of the men ; while as 
for the women, one respected them even more than the 
men. 

In spite of the snow-storms spring was coming; some 
of the trees were beginning to bud and show green, more 
and more flowers were in bloom, and bird life was stead- 
ily increasing. In the bushes by the streams the hand- 
some white-crowned sparrows and green-tailed towhees 
were in full song, making attractive music ; although the 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 97 

song of neither can rightly be compared in point of 
plaintive beauty with that of the white-throated sparrow, 
which, except some of the thrushes, and perhaps the win- 
ter wren, is the sweetest singer of the Northeastern forests. 
The spurred towhees were very plentiful ; and one morn- 
ing a willow-thrush sang among the willows like a veery. 
Both the crested jays and the Woodhouse jays came 
around camp. Lower down the Western meadow larks 
were singing beautifully, and vesper finches were abun- 
dant. Say's flycatcher, a very attractive bird, with pretty, 
soft-colored plumage, continually uttering a plaintive 
single note, and sometimes a warbling twitter, flitted 
about in the neighborhood of the little log ranch houses. 
Gangs of blackbirds visited the corrals. I saw but one 
song sparrow, and curiously enough, though I think it 
was merely an individual peculiarity, this particular bird 
had a song entirely different from any I have heard from 
the familiar Eastern bird — always a favorite of mine. 

While up in the mountains hunting, we twice came 
upon owls, which were rearing their families in the de- 
serted nests of the red-tailed hawk. One was a long-eared 
owl, and the other a great horned owl, of the pale Western 
variety. Both were astonishingly tame, and we found it 
difficult to make them leave their nests, which were in 
the tops of Cottonwood trees. 

On the last day we rode down to where Glenwood 
Springs lies, hemmed in by lofty mountain chains, which 
are riven in sunder by sheer-sided, cliff-walled canyons. 
As we left ever farther behind us the wintry desolation 
of our high hunting grounds we rode into full spring. 



98 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

The green of the valley was a delight to the eye; bird 
songs sounded on every side, from the fields and from the 
trees and bushes beside the brooks and irrigation ditches; 
the air was sweet with the spring-time breath of many 
budding things. The sarvice bushes were white with 
bloom, like shadblow on the Hudson; the blossoms of the 
Oregon grape made yellow mats on the ground. We saw 
the chunky Say's ground squirrel, looking like a big chip- 
munk, with on each side a conspicuous white stripe edged 
with black. In one place we saw quite a large squirrel, 
grayish, with red on the lower back. I suppose it was 
only a pine squirrel, but it looked like one of the gray 
squirrels of southern Colorado. Mountain mockers and 
the handsome, bold Arkansaw king birds were numerous. 
The black-tail sage sparrow was conspicuous in the sage- 
brush, and high among the cliffs the white-throated swifts 
were soaring. There were numerous warblers, among 
which I could only make out the black-throated gray, 
Audubon's, and McGillivray's. In Glenwood Springs 
itself the purple finches, house finches, and Bullock's 
orioles were in full song. Flocks of siskins passed with 
dipping flight. In one rapid little stream we saw a water 
ousel. Humming-birds — I suppose the broad-tailed — 
were common, and as they flew they made, intermittently 
and almost rhythmically, a curious metallic sound; seem- 
ingly it was done with their wings. 

But the thing that interested me most in the way of 
bird life was something I saw in Denver. To my delight 
I found that the huge hotel at which we took dinner was 
monopolized by the pretty, musical house finches, to the 



A COLORADO BEAR HUNT 



99 



exclusion of the ordinary city sparrows. The latter are 
all too plentiful in Denver, as in every other city, and, 
as always, are noisy, quarrelsome — in short, thoroughly 
unattractive and disreputable. The house finch, on the 
contrary, is attractive in looks, in song, and in ways. It 
was delightful to hear the males singing, often on the 
wing. They went right up to the top stories of the high 
hotel, and nested under the eaves and in the cornices. 
The cities of the Southwestern States are to be con- 
gratulated on having this spirited, attractive little song- 
ster as a familiar dweller around their houses and in 
their gardens. 



CHAPTER III 

WOLF-COURSING 

On April eighth, nineteen hundred and five, we left 
the town of Frederick, Oklahoma, for a few days' coyote 
coursing in the Comanche Reserve. Lieut. -Gen. S. B. 
M. Young, U. S. A., retired. Lieutenant Fortescue, U. 
S. A., formerly of my regiment, and Dr. Alexander 
Lambert, of New York, were with me. We were the 
guests of Colonel Cecil Lyon, of Texas, of Sloan Simp- 
son, also of TexavS, and formerly of my regiment, and 
of two old-style Texas cattlemen, Messrs. Burnett 
and Wagner, who had leased great stretches of wire- 
fenced pasture from the Comanches and Kiowas; and 
I cannot sufficiently express my appreciation of the 
kindness of these my hosts. Burnett's brand, the 
Four Sixes, has been owned by him for forty years. 
Both of them had come to this country thirty years 
before, in the days of the buffalo, when all game was 
very plentiful and the Indians were still on the war- 
path. Several other ranchmen were along, including 
John Abernethy, of Tesca, Oklahoma, a professional 
wolf hunter. There were also a number of cow- 
hands of both Burnett and Wagner; among them were 
two former riders for the Four Sixes, Fi Taylor and 
Uncle Ed Gillis, who seemed to make it their special 
mission to see that everything went right with me. 



I 



WOLF-COURSING loi 

Furthermore there was Captain McDonald of the Texas 
Rangers, a game and true man, whose name was one of 
terror to outlaws and violent criminals of all kinds; and 
finally there was Quanah Parker, the Comanche chief, 
in his youth a bitter foe of the whites, now painfully 
teaching his people to travel the white man's stony road. 

We drove out some twenty miles to where camp was 
pitched in a bend of Deep Red Creek, which empties 
into the Red River of the South. Cottonwood, elm, and 
pecans formed a belt of timber along the creek; we had 
good water, the tents were pitched on short, thick grass, 
and everything was in perfect order. The fare was de- 
licious. Altogether it was an ideal camp, and the days 
we passed there were also ideal. Cardinals and mocking- 
birds — the most individual and delightful of all birds in 
voice and manner — sang in the woods ; and the beautiful, 
many-tinted fork-tailed fly-catchers were to be seen now 
and then, perched in trees or soaring in curious zigzags, 
chattering loudly. 

In chasing the coyote only greyhounds are used, and 
half a dozen different sets of these had been brought to 
camp. Those of Wagner, the " Big D " dogs, as his cow- 
punchers called them, were handled by Bony Moore, 
who, with Tom Burnett, the son of our host Burke Bur- 
nett, took the lead in feats of daring horsemanship, even 
in that field of daring horsemen. Bevins had brought 
both greyhounds and rough-haired staghounds from his 
Texas ranch. So had Cecil Lyon, and though his dogs 
had chiefly been used in coursing the black-tailed Texas 
jack-rabbit, they took naturally to the coyote chases. 



I02 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Finally there were Abernethy's dogs, which, together with 
their master, performed the feats I shall hereafter relate. 
Abernethy has a homestead of his own not far from Fred- 
erick, and later I was introduced to his father, an old 
Confederate soldier, and to his sweet and pretty wife, and 
their five little children. He had run away with his wife 
when they were nineteen and sixteen respectively; but the 
match had turned out a happy one. Both were partic- 
ularly fond of music, including the piano, horn, and vio- 
lin, and they played duets together. General Young, 
whom the Comanches called " War Bonnet," went in a 
buggy with Burke Burnett, and as Burnett invariably 
followed the hounds at full speed in his buggy, and 
usually succeeded in seeing most of the chase, I felt that 
the buggy men really encountered greater hazards than 
anyone else. It was a thoroughly congenial company all 
through. The weather was good; we were in the saddle 
from morning until night; and our camp was in all re- 
spects all that a camp should be; so how could we help 
enjoying ourselves? 

The coursing was done on the flats and great rolling 
prairies which stretched north from our camp toward the 
Wichita Mountains and south toward the Red River. 
There was a certain element of risk in the gallops, be- 
cause the whole country was one huge prairie-dog town, 
the prairie-dogs being so numerous that the new towns 
and the abandoned towns were continuous with one 
another in every direction. Practically every run we 
had was through these prairie-dog towns, varied occa- 
sionally by creeks and washouts. But as we always ran 



WOLF-COURSING 



103 



scattered out, the wonderfully quick cow-ponies, brought 
up in this country and spending all their time among the 
prairie-dog towns, were able, even while running at 
headlong speed, to avoid the holes with a cleverness that 
was simply marvellous. During our hunt but one horse 
stepped in a hole; he turned a complete somerset, though 
neither he nor his rider was hurt. Stunted mesquite 
bushes grew here and there in the grass, and there was 
cactus. As always in prairie-dog towns, there were bur- 
rowing owls and rattlesnakes. We had to be on our 
guard that the dogs did not attack the latter. Once we 
thought a greyhound was certainly bitten. It was a very 
fast blue bitch, which seized the rattler and literally 
shook it to pieces. The rattler struck twice at the bitch, 
but so quick were the bitch's movements that she was not 
hit either time, and in a second the snake was not merely 
dead, but in pieces. We usually killed the rattlers with 
either our quirts or ropes. One which I thus killed was 
over five feet long. 

By rights there ought to have been carts in which the 
greyhounds could be drawn until the coyotes were sighted, 
but there were none, and the greyhounds simply trotted 
along beside the horses. All of them were fine animals, 
and almost all of them of recorded pedigree. Coyotes 
have sharp teeth and bite hard, while greyhounds have 
thin skins, and many of them were cut in the worries. 
This was due to the fact that only two or three of them 
seized by the throat, the others taking hold behind, which 
of course exposed them to retaliation. Few of them 
would have been of much use in stopping a big wolf. 



I04 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Abernethy's hounds, however, though they could not kill 
a big wolf, would stop it, permitting their owner to seize 
it exactly as he seized coyotes, as hereafter described. 
He had killed but a few of the big gray wolves; one 
weighed ninety-seven pounds. He said that there were 
gradations from this down to the coyotes. A few days 
before our arrival, after a very long chase, he had cap- 
tured a black wolf, weighing between fifty and sixty 
pounds. 

These Southern coyotes or prairie-wolves are only 
about one-third the size of the big gray timber wolves of 
the Northern Rockies. They are too small to meddle 
with full-grown horses and cattle, but pick up young 
calves and kill sheep, as well as any small domesticated 
animal that they can get at. The big wolves flee from 
the neighborhood of anything like close settlements, but 
coyotes hang around the neighborhood of man much more 
persistently. They show a fox-like cunning in catching 
rabbits, prairie-dogs, gophers, and the like. After night- 
fall they are noisy, and their melancholy wailing and yell- 
ing are familiar sounds to all who pass over the plains. 
The young are brought forth in holes in cut banks or 
similar localities. Within my own experience I have 
known of the finding of but two families. In one there 
was but a single family of five cubs and one old animal, 
undoubtedly the mother; in the other case there were ten 
or eleven cubs and two old females which had apparently 
shared the burrow or cave, though living in separate 
pockets. In neither case was any full-grown male coyote 
found in the neighborhood; as regards these particular 



WOLF-COURSING 



105 



litters, the father seemingly had nothing to do with tak- 
ing care of or supporting the family. I am not able to 
say whether this was accidental or whether it is a rule, 
that only the mother lives with and takes care of the lit- 
ter; I have heard contrary statements about the matter 
from hunters who should know. Unfortunately I have 
learned from long experience that it is only exceptional 
hunters who can be trusted to give accurate descriptions 
of the habits of any beast, save such as are connected with 
its chase. 

Coyotes are sharp, wary, knowing creatures, and on 
most occasions take care to keep out of harm's way. But 
individuals among them have queer freaks. On one oc- 
casion while Sloan Simpson was on the round-up he 
waked at night to find something on the foot of his 
bed, its dark form indistinctly visible against the white 
tarpaulin. He aroused a friend to ask if it could be a 
dog. While they were cautiously endeavoring to find out 
what it was, it jumped up and ran off; they then saw that 
it was a coyote. In a short time it returned again, coming 
out of the darkness toward one of the cowboys who 
was awake, and the latter shot it, fearing it might have 
hydrophobia. But I doubt this, as in such case it would 
not have curled up and gone to sleep on Simpson's bed- 
ding. Coyotes are subject to hydrophobia, and when 
under the spell of the dreadful disease will fearlessly at- 
tack men. In one case of which I know, a mad coyote 
coming into camp sprang on a sleeping man who was 
rolled in his bedding and bit and worried the bedding in 
the effort to get at him. Two other men hastened to his 



io6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

rescue, and the coyote first attacked them and then sud- 
denly sprang aside and again worried the bedding, by 
which time one of them was able to get in a shot and 
killed it. All coyotes, like big wolves, die silently and 
fight to the last. I had never weighed any coyotes until 
on this trip. I weighed the twelve which I myself saw 
caught, and they ran as follows: male, thirty pounds; 
female, twenty-eight pounds; female, thirty-six pounds; 
male, thirty-two pounds; male, thirty-four pounds; fe- 
male, thirty pounds; female, twenty-seven pounds; male, 
thirty-two pounds; male, twenty-nine pounds; young 
male, twenty-two pounds; male, twenty-nine pounds; fe- 
male, twenty-seven pounds. Disregarding the young 
male, this makes an average of just over thirty pounds.^ 
Except the heaviest female, they were all gaunt and in 
splendid running trim; but then I do not remember ever 
seeing a really fat coyote. 

The morning of the first day of our hunt dawned 
bright and beautiful, the air just cool enough to be pleas- 
ant. Immediately after breakfast we jogged ofif on horse- 
back, Tom Burnett and Bony Moore in front, with six or 
eight greyhounds slouching alongside, while Burke Bur- 
nett and " War Bonnet " drove behind us in the buggy. 
I was mounted on one of Tom Burnett's favorites, a beau- 
tiful Kiowa pony. The chuck wagon, together with the 

1 I sent the skins and skulls to Dr. Hart Merriam, the head of the Bio- 
logical Survey. He wrote me about them : ** All but one are the plains coyote, 
Canis nebracensis. They are not perfectly typical, but are near enough for all 
practical purposes. The exception is a yearling pup of a much larger species. 
Whether this is fr us tor I dare not say in the present state of knowledge of the 
group." 



WOLF-COURSING 107 

relay of greyhounds to be used in the afternoon, was to 
join us about midday at an appointed place where there 
was a pool of water. 

We shuffled along, strung out in an irregular line, 
across a long flat, in places covered with bright-green 
wild onions; and then up a gentle slope where the stunted 
mesquite grew, while the prairie-dogs barked spasmod- 
ically as we passed their burrows. The low crest, if such 
it could be called, of the slope was reached only some 
twenty minutes after we left camp, and hardly had we 
started down the other side than two coyotes were spied 
three or four hundred yards in front. Immediately 
horses and dogs were after them at a headlong, breakneck 
run, the coyotes edging to the left where the creek bot- 
tom, with its deep banks and narrow fringes of timber, 
was about a mile distant. The little wolves knew their 
danger and ran their very fastest, while the long dogs 
stretched out after them, gaining steadily. It was evident 
the chase would be a short one, and there was no need to 
husband the horses, so every man let his pony go for 
all there was in him. At such a speed, and especially 
going down hill, there was not the slightest use in trying 
to steer clear of the prairie-dog holes; it was best to let 
the veteran cow-ponies see to that for themselves. They 
were as eager as their riders, and on we dashed at full 
speed, curving to the left toward the foot of the slope; 
we jumped into and out of a couple of broad, shallow 
washouts, as we tore after the hounds, now nearing their 
quarry. The rearmost coyote was overtaken just at the 
edge of the creek; the foremost, which was a few yards 



io8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

in advance, made good its escape, as all the dogs promptly 
tackled the rearmost, tumbling it over into a rather deep 
pool. The scuffling and splashing told us what was going 
on, and we reined our horses short up at the brink of 
the cut bank. The water had hampered the dogs in kill- 
ing their quarry, only three or four of them being in the 
pool with him; and of those he had seized one by the 
nose and was hanging on hard. In a moment one of the 
cowboys got hold of him, dropped a noose over his head, 
and dragged him out on the bank, just as the buggy came 
rattling up at full gallop. Burnett and the general, tak- 
ing advantage of the curve in our course, had driven 
across the chord of the arc, and keeping their horses at a 
run, had seen every detail of the chase and were in at the 
death. 

In a few minutes the coyote was skinned, the dogs 
rested, and we were jogging on once more. Hour after 
hour passed by. We had a couple more runs, but in each 
case the coyote had altogether too long a start and got 
away; the dogs no longer being as fresh as they had been. 
As a rule, although there are exceptions, if the grey- 
hounds cannot catch the coyote within two or three miles 
the chances favor the escape of the little wolf. We found 
that if the wolf had more than half a mile start he got 
away. As greyhounds hunt by sight, cut banks enable the 
coyote easily to throw off his pursuers unless they are 
fairly close up. The greyhounds see the wolf when he is 
far ofT, for they have good eyes; but in the chase, if the 
going is irregular, they tend to lose him, and they do not 
depend much on one another in recovering sight of him; 




3 o 



;— p 



WOLF-COURSING 109 

on the contrary, the dog is apt to quit when he no longer 
has the quarry in view. 

At noon we joined the chuck wagon where it stood 
drawn up on a slope of the treeless, bushless prairie; and 
the active round-up cook soon had the meal ready. It 
was the Four Sixes wagon, the brand burned into the 
wood of the chuck box. Where does a man take more 
frank enjoyment in his dinner than at the tail end of a 
chuck wagon? 

Soon after eating we started again, having changed 
horses and dogs. I was mounted on a Big D cow pony, 
while Lambert had a dun-colored horse, hard to hold, 
but very tough and swift. An hour or so after leaving 
camp we had a four-mile run after a coyote, which finally 
got away, for it had so long a start that the dogs were 
done out by the time they came within fair distance. 
They stopped at a little prairie pool, some of them lying 
or standing in it, panting violently; and thus we found 
them as we came stringing up at a gallop. After they 
had been well rested we started toward camp; but we 
were down in the creek bottom before we saw another 
coyote. This one again was a long distance ahead, and 
I did not suppose there was much chance of our catching 
him; but away all the dogs and all the riders went at 
the usual run, and catch him we did, because, as it turned 
out, the " morning " dogs, which were with the wagon, 
had spied him first and run him hard, until he was in 
sight of the " afternoon " dogs, which were with us. I 
got tangled in a washout, scrambled out, and was gallop- 
ing along, watching the country in front, when Lambert 



no AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

passed me as hard as he could go; I saw him disappear 
into another washout, and then come out on the other 
side, while the dogs were driving the coyote at an angle 
down toward the creek. Pulling short to the right, I got 
through the creek, hoping the coyote would cross, and the 
result was that I galloped up to the worry almost as soon 
as the foremost riders from the other side — a piece of 
good fortune for which I had only luck to thank. The 
hounds caught the coyote as he was about crossing the 
creek. From this point it was but a short distance into 
camp. 

Again next morning we were ofif before the sun had 
risen high enough to take away the cool freshness from 
the air. This day we travelled several miles before we 
saw our first coyote. It was on a huge, gently sloping 
stretch of prairie, which ran down to the creek on our 
right. We were travelling across it strung out in line 
when the coyote sprang up a good distance ahead of the 
dogs. They ran straight away from us at first. Then I 
saw the coyote swinging to the right toward the creek 
and I half-wheeled, riding diagonally to the line of the 
chase. This gave me an excellent view of dogs and wolf, 
and also enabled me to keep nearly abreast of them. On 
this particular morning the dogs were Bevin's grey- 
hounds and staghounds. From where the dogs started 
they ran about three miles, catching their quarry in the 
flat where the creek circled around in a bend, and when 
it was not fifty yards from the timber. By this time the 
puncher. Bony Moore, had passed me, most of the other 
riders having been so far to the left when the run began 



WOLF-COURSING 1 1 1 

that they were unable to catch up. The little wolf ran 
well, and the greyhounds had about reached their limit 
when they caught up with it. But they lasted just long 
enough to do the work. A fawn-colored greyhound and 
a black staghound were the first dogs up. The stag- 
hound tried to seize the coyote, which dodged a little to 
one side; the fawn-colored greyhound struck and threw 
it; and in another moment the other dogs were up and 
the worry began. I was able to see the run so well, be- 
cause Tom Burnett had mounted me on his fine roan 
cutting horse. We sat around in a semicircle on the grass 
until the dogs had been breathed, and then started off 
again. After some time we struck another coyote, but 
rather far off, and this time the dogs were not fresh. 
After running two or three miles he pulled away and we 
lost him, the dogs refreshing themselves by standing and 
lying in a shallow prairie pool. 

In the afternoon we again rode off, and this time Ab- 
ernethy, on his white horse, took the lead, his greyhounds 
trotting beside him. There was a good deal of rivalry 
among the various owners of the hounds as to which could 
do best, and a slight inclination among the cowboys to 
be jealous of Abernethy. No better riders could be im- 
agined than these same cowboys, and their greyhounds 
were stanch and fast; but Abernethy, on his tough white 
horse, not only rode with great judgment, but showed 
a perfect knowledge of the coyote, and by his own ex- 
ertions greatly assisted his hounds. He had found out 
in his long experience that while the greyhounds could 
outpace a coyote in a two or three mile run, they would 



112 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

then fall behind; but that after going eight or ten miles, 
a coyote in turn became exhausted, and if he had been 
able to keep his hounds going until that time, they could, 
with his assistance, then stop the quarry. 

We had been shogging along for an hour or more 
when we put up a coyote and started after it. I was rid- 
ing the Big D pony I had ridden the afternoon before. 
It was a good and stout horse, but one which my weight 
was certain to distress if I tried to go too fast for too 
long a time. Moreover, the coyote had a long start, and 
I made up my mind that he would either get away or 
give us a hard run. Accordingly, as the cowboys started 
off at their usual headlong pace, I rode behind at a gal- 
lop, husbanding my horse. For a mile or so the going 
was very rough, up over and down stony hills and among 
washouts. Then we went over gently rolling country 
for another mile or two, and then came to a long broken 
incline which swept up to a divide some four miles ahead 
of us. Lambert had been riding alongside of Abernethy, 
at the front, but his horse began to play out, and needed 
to be nursed along, so that he dropped back level with 
me. By the time I had reached the foot of this incline 
the punchers, riding at full speed, had shot their bolts, 
and one by one I passed them, as well as most of the 
greyhounds. But Abernethy was far ahead, his white 
horse loping along without showing any signs of distress. 
Up the long slope I did not dare press my animal, and 
Abernethy must have been a mile ahead of me when he 
struck the divide, while where the others were I had no 
idea, except that they were behind me. When I reached 




THE BIG D. COW PONY 
From a photograph by W. Sloan Simpson 



WOLF-COURSING 113 

the divide I was afraid I might have missed Abernethy, 
but to my delight he was still in sight, far ahead. As 
we began to go down hill I let the horse fairly race; for 
by Abernethy's motions I could tell that he was close to 
the wolf and that it was no longer running in a straight 
line, so that there was a chance of my overtaking them. 
In a couple of miles I was close enough to see what was 
going on. But one greyhound was left with Abernethy. 
The coyote was obviously tired, and Abernethy, with the 
aid of his perfectly trained horse, was helping the grey- 
hound catch it. Twice he headed it, and this enabled 
me to gain rapidly. They had reached a small unwooded 
creek by the time I was within fifty yards; the little wolf 
tried to break back to the left; Abernethy headed it and 
rode almost over it, and it gave a wicked snap at his 
foot, cutting the boot. Then he wheeled and came tow- 
ard it; again it galloped back, and just as it crossed the 
creek the greyhound made a rush, pinned it by the hind 
leg and threw it. There was a scuffle, then a yell from 
the greyhound as the wolf bit it. At the bite the hound 
let go and jumped back a few feet, and at the same mo- 
ment Abernethy, who had ridden his horse right on them 
as they struggled, leaped off and sprang on top of the 
wolf. He held the reins of the horse with one hand and 
thrust the other, with a rapidity and precision even 
greater than the rapidity of the wolf's snap, into the wolf's 
mouth, jamming his hand down crosswise between the 
jaws, seizing the lower jaw and bending it down so that 
the wolf could not bite him. He had a stout glove on his 
hand, but this would have been of no avail whatever had 



114 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

he not seized the animal just as he did; that is, behind the 
canines, while his hand pressed the lips against the teeth; 
with his knees he kept the wolf from using its forepaws 
to break the hold, until it gave up struggling. When he 
thus leaped on and captured this coyote it was entirely- 
free, the dog having let go of it; and he was obliged to 
keep hold of the reins of his horse with one hand. I was 
not twenty yards distant at the time, and as I leaped off 
the horse he was sitting placidly on the live wolf, his 
hand between its jaws, the greyhound standing beside 
him, and his horse standing by as placid as he was. In 
a couple of minutes Fortescue and Lambert came up. It 
was as remarkable a feat of the kind as I have ever seen. 

Through some oversight we had no straps with us, 
and Abernethy had lost the wire which he usually carried 
in order to tie up the wolves' muzzles — for he habitually 
captured his wolves in this fashion. However, Abernethy 
regarded the lack of straps as nothing more than a slight 
bother. Asking one of us to hold his horse, he threw 
the wolf across in front of the saddle, still keeping his 
grip on the lower jaw, then mounted and rode ofif with 
us on the back track. The wolf was not tied in any way. 
It was unhurt, and the only hold he had was on its lower 
jaw. I was surprised that it did not strive to fight with 
its legs, but after becoming satisfied that it could not bite, 
it seemed to resign itself to its fate, was fairly quiet, and 
looked about with its ears pricked forward. The wolves 
which I subsequently saw him capture, and, having tied 
up their muzzles, hold before him on the saddle, acted 
in precisely the same manner. 



WOLF-COURSING 115 

The run had been about ten miles in an almost 
straight line. At the finish no other riders were in sight, 
but soon after we crossed the divide on our return, and 
began to come down the long slope toward the creek, we 
were joined by Tom Burnett and Bony Moore; while 
some three or four miles ahead on a rise of the prairie 
we could see the wagon in which Burke Burnett was driv- 
ing General Young. Other punchers and straggling 
greyhounds joined us, and as the wolf, after travelling 
some five miles, began to recover his wind and show a 
tendency to fight for his freedom, Abernethy tied up his 
jaws with his handkerchief and handed him over to Bony 
Moore, who packed him on the saddle with entire indif- 
ference, the wolf himself showing a curious philosophy. 
Our horses had recovered their wind and we struck into 
a gallop down the slope; then as we neared the wagon 
we broke into a run. Bony Moore brandishing aloft with 
one hand the live wolf, its jaws tied up with a handker- 
chief, but otherwise unbound. We stopped for a few 
minutes with Burnett and the general to tell particulars 
of the hunt. Then we loped off again toward camp, 
which was some half dozen miles ofif. I shall always 
remember this run and the really remarkable feat Aber- 
nethy performed. Colonel Lyon had seen him catch a 
big wolf in the same way that he caught this coyote. It 
was his usual method of catching both coyotes and wolves. 
Almost equally noteworthy were the way in which he 
handled and helped his greyhounds, and the judgment, 
resolution, and fine horsemanship he displayed. His 
horse showed extraordinary endurance. 



ii6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

The third day we started out as usual, the chuck 
wagon driving straight to a pool far out on the prairie, 
where we were to meet it for lunch. Chief Quanah's 
three wives had joined him, together with a small boy 
and a baby, and they drove in a wagon of their own. 
Meanwhile the riders and hounds went south nearly to 
Red River. In the morning we caught four coyotes and 
had a three miles run after one which started too far 
ahead of the dogs, and finally got clean away. All the 
four that we got were started fairly close up, and the run 
was a breakneck scurry, horses and hounds going as hard 
as they could put feet to the ground. Twice the cowboys 
distanced me; and twice the accidents of the chase, the 
sudden twists and turns of the coyote in his efforts to take 
advantage of the ground, favored me and enabled me to 
be close up at the end, when Abernethy jumped ofif his 
horse and ran in to where the dogs had the coyote. 
He was even quicker with his hands than the wolf's 
snap, and in a moment he always had the coyote by the 
lower jaw. 

Between the runs we shogged forward across the great 
reaches of rolling prairie in the bright sunlight. The air 
was wonderfully clear, and any object on the sky-line, no 
matter how small, stood out with startling distinctness. 
There were few flowers on these dry plains; in sharp con- 
trast to the flower prairies of southern Texas, which we 
had left the week before, where many acres for a stretch 
would be covered by masses of red or white or blue or yel- 
low blossoms — the most striking of all, perhaps, being the 
fields of the handsome buffalo clover. As we plodded 




ABERNETHY AND COYOTE 
From a photograph, copyright, 190s, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



WOLF-COURSING 117 

over the prairie the sharp eyes of the punchers were scan- 
ning the ground far and near, and sooner or later one of 
them would spy the motionless form of a coyote, or all 
would have their attention attracted as it ran like a fleet- 
ing gray or brown shadow among the grays and browns of 
the desolate landscape. Immediately dogs and horses 
would stretch at full speed after it, and everything would 
be forgotten but the wild exhilaration of the run. 

It was nearly noon when we struck the chuck wagon. 
Immediately the handy round-up cook began to prepare 
a delicious dinner, and we ate as men have a right to eat, 
who have ridden all the morning and are going to ride 
fresh horses all the afternoon. Soon afterward the horse- 
wranglers drove up the saddle band, while some of the 
cow-punchers made a rope corral from the side of the 
wagon. Into this the horses were driven, one or two 
breaking back and being brought into the bunch again 
only after a gallop more exciting than most coyote chases. 
Fresh ponies were roped out and the saddle band again 
turned loose. The dogs that had been used during the 
morning then started campward with the chuck wagon. 
One of the punchers was riding a young and partially 
broken horse; he had no bridle, simply a rope around the 
horse's neck. This man started to accompany the wagon 
to the camp. 

The rest of us went ofif at the usual cow-pony trot or 
running walk. It was an hour or two before we saw any- 
thing; then a coyote appeared a long way ahead and the 
dogs raced after him. The first mile was up a gentle 
slope ; then we turned, and after riding a couple of miles 



ii8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

on the level the dogs had shot their bolt and the coyote 
drew away. When he got too far in front the dogs and 
foremost riders stopped and waited for the rest of us to 
overtake them, and shortly afterward Burke Burnett and 
the general appeared in their buggy. One of the grey- 
hounds was completely done out and we took some time 
attending to it. Suddenly one of the men, either Tom 
Burnett or Bony Moore, called out that he saw the coyote 
coming back pursued by a horseman. Sure enough, the 
unfortunate little wolf had run in sight of the wagons, 
and the puncher on the young unbridled horse immedi- 
ately took after him, and, in spite of a fall, succeeded in 
heading him back and bringing him along in our direc- 
tion, although some three-quarters of a mile away. Im- 
mediately everyone jumped into his saddle and away we 
all streamed down a long slope diagonally to the course 
the coyote was taking. He had a long start, but the dogs 
were rested, while he had been running steadily, and this 
fact proved fatal to him. Down the slope to the creek 
bottom at its end we rode at a run. Then there came a 
long slope upward, and the heavier among us fell gradu- 
ally to the rear. When we topped the divide, however, 
we could see ahead of us the foremost men streaming 
after the hounds, and the latter running in a way which 
showed that they were well up on their game. Even a 
tired horse can go pretty well down hill, and by dint of 
hard running we who were behind got up in time to see 
the worry when the greyhounds caught the coyote, by 
some low ponds in a treeless creek-bed. We had gone 
about seven miles, the unlucky coyote at least ten. Our 



WOLF-COURSING 119 

journey to camp was enlivened by catching another 
coyote after a short run. 

Next day was the last of our hunt. We started off in 
the morning as usual, but the buggy men on this occasion 
took with them some trail hounds, which were managed 
by a sergeant of the regular army, a game sportsman. 
They caught tw^o coons in the timber of a creek two or 
three miles to the south of the camp. Meanwhile the 
rest of us, riding over the prairie, saw the greyhounds 
catch two coyotes, one after a rather long run and one 
after a short one. Then we turned our faces toward 
camp. I saw Abernethy, with three or four of his own 
hounds, riding off to one side, but unfortunately I did 
not pay any heed to him, as I supposed the hunting was 
at an end. But when we reached camp Abernethy was 
not there, nor did he turn up until we were finishing 
lunch. Then he suddenly appeared, his tired greyhounds 
trotting behind him, while he carried before him on the 
saddle a live coyote, with its muzzle tied up, and a dead 
coyote strapped behind his saddle. Soon after leaving 
us he had found a coyote, and after a good run the dogs 
had stopped it and he had jumped off and captured it in 
his usual fashion. Then while riding along, holding the 
coyote before him on the saddle, he put up another one. 
His dogs were tired, and he himself was of course greatly 
hampered in such a full-speed run by having the live 
wolf on the saddle in front of him. One by one the dogs 
gave out, but his encouragement and assistance kept two 
of them to their work, and after a run of some seven miles 
the coyote was overtaken. It was completely done out 



I20 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and would probably have died by itself, even if the hounds 
had not taken part in the killing. Hampered as he was, 
Abernethy could not take it alive in his usual fashion. 
So when it was dead he packed it behind his horse and 
rode back in triumph. The live wolf, as in every other 
case where one was brought into camp, made curiously 
little effort to fight with its paws, seeming to acquiesce in 
its captivity, and looking around, with its ears thrust for- 
ward, as if more influenced by curiosity than by any other 
feeling. 

After lunch we rode toward town, stopping at night- 
fall to take supper by the bank of a creek. We entered 
the town after dark, some twenty of us on horseback. 
Wagner was riding with us, and he had set his heart 
upon coming into and through the town in true cowboy 
style; and it was he who set the pace. We broke into a 
lope a mile outside the limits, and by the time we struck 
the main street the horses were on a run and we tore down 
like a whirlwind until we reached the train. Thus ended 
as pleasant a hunting trip as any one could imagine. The 
party got seventeen coyotes all told, for there were some 
runs which I did not see at all, as now and then both 
men and dogs would get split into groups. 

On this hunt we did not see any of the big wolves, the 
so-called buffalo or timber wolves, which I hunted in the 
old days on the Northern cattle plains. Big wolves are 
found in both Texas and Oklahoma, but they are rare 
compared to the coyotes; and they are great wanderers. 
Alone or in parties of three or four or half a dozen they 
travel to and fro across the country, often leaving a dis- 



WOLF-COURSING 121 

trict at once if they are molested. Coyotes are more or 
less plentiful everywhere throughout the West in thinly 
settled districts, and they often hang about in the 
immediate neighborhood of towns. They do enough 
damage to make farmers and ranchers kill them when- 
ever the chance offers. But this damage is not appreci- 
able when compared with the ravages of their grim big 
brother, the gray wolf, which, wherever it exists in num- 
bers, is a veritable scourge to the stockmen. 

Colonel Lyon's hounds were, as I have said, used 
chiefly after jack-rabbits. He had frequently killed coy- 
otes with them, however, and on two or three occasions 
one of the big gray wolves. At the time when he did 
most of his wolf-hunting he had with the greyhounds a 
huge fighting dog, a Great Dane, weighing one hundred 
and forty-five pounds. In spite of its weight this dog 
could keep up well in a short chase, and its ferocious tem- 
per and enormous weight and strength made it invaluable 
at the bay. Whether the quarry were a gray wolf or 
coyote mattered not in the least to it, and it made its 
assaults with such headlong fury that it generally escaped 
damage. On the two or three occasions when the animal 
bayed was a big wolf the greyhounds did not dare tackle 
it, jumping about in an irregular circle and threatening 
the wolf until the fighting dog came up. The latter at 
once rushed in, seizing its antagonist by the throat or 
neck and throwing it. Doubtless it would have killed 
the wolf unassisted, but the greyhounds always joined in 
the killing; and once thrown, the wolf could never get 
on his legs. In these encounters the dog was never seri- 



122 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ously hurt. Rather curiously, the only bad wound it ever 
received was from a coyote; the little wolf, not one-third 
of its weight, managing to inflict a terrific gash down its 
huge antagonist's chest, nearly tearing it open. But of 
course a coyote against such a foe could not last much 
longer than a rat pitted against a terrier. 

Big wolves and coyotes are found side by side 
throughout the Western United States, both varying so 
in size that if a sufficient number of specimens, from dif- 
ferent localities, are examined it will be found that there 
is a complete intergradation in both stature and weight. 
To the northward the coyotes disappear, and the big 
wolves grow larger and larger until in the arctic regions 
they become veritable giants. At Point Barrow Mr. E. 
A. Mcllhenny had six of the eight " huskies " of his dog 
team killed and eaten by a huge white dog wolf. At last 
he shot it, and found that it weighed one hundred and 
sixty-one pounds. 

Good trail hounds can run down a wolf. A year ago 
Jake Borah's pack in northwestern Colorado ran a big 
wolf weighing one hundred and fifteen pounds to bay in 
but little over an hour. He then stood with his back to a 
rock, and though the dogs formed a semicircle around 
him, they dared not tackle him. Jake got up and shot him. 
Unless well trained and with the natural fighting edge 
neither trail hounds (fox-hounds) nor greyhounds can 
or will kill a big wolf, and under ordinary circumstances, 
no matter how numerous, they make but a poor showing 
against one. But big ninety-pound or one hundred- 
pound greyhounds, specially bred and trained for the 



WOLF-COURSING 123 

purpose, stand on an entirely different footing. Three 
or four of these dogs, rushing in together and seizing the 
wolf by the throat, will kill him, or worry him until he 
is helpless. On several occasions the Colorado Springs 
greyhounds have performed this feat. Johnny Goff 
owned a large, fierce dog, a cross between what he called 
a Siberian bloodhound (I suppose some animal like a 
Great Dane) and an ordinary hound, which, on one occa- 
sion when he had shot at and broken the hind leg of a big 
wolf, ran it down and killed it. On the other hand, wolves 
will often attack dogs. In March of the present year — 
nineteen hundred and five — Goff's dogs were scattered 
over a hillside hunting a bobcat, when he heard one of 
them yell, and looking up saw that two wolves were chas- 
ing it. The other dogs were so busy puzzling out the 
cat's trail that they never noticed what was happening. 
Goff called aloud, whereupon the wolves stopped. He 
shot one and the other escaped. He thinks that they 
would have overtaken and killed the hound in a minute 
or two if he had not interfered. 

The big wolves shrink back before the growth of the 
thickly settled districts, and in the Eastern States they 
often tend to disappear even from districts that are unin- 
habited save by a few wilderness hunters. They have thus 
disappeared almost entirely from Maine, the Adiron- 
dacks, and the Alleghanies, although here and there they 
are said to be returning to their old haunts. Their dis- 
appearance is rather mysterious in some instances, for 
they are certainly not all killed off. The black bear is 
much easier killed, yet the black bear holds its own in 



124 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

many parts of the land from which the wolf has vanished. 
No animal is quite so difficult to kill as is the wolf, 
whether by poison or rifle or hound. Yet, after a com- 
paratively few have been slain, the entire species will 
perhaps vanish from certain localities. In some localities 
even the cougar, the easiest of all game to kill with 
hounds, holds its own better. This, however, is not gen- 
erally true. 

But with all wild animals, it is a noticeable fact that 
a course of contact with man continuing over many gen- 
erations of animal life causes a species so to adapt itself 
to its new surroundings that it can hold its own far better 
than formerly. When white men take up a new country, 
the game, and especially the big game, being entirely un- 
used to contend with the new foe, succumb easily, and 
are almost completely killed out. If any individuals sur- 
vive at all, however, the succeeding generations are far 
more difficult to exterminate than were their ancestors, 
and they cling much more tenaciously to their old homes. 
The game to be found in old and long-settled countries is 
of course much more wary and able to take care of itself 
than the game of an untrodden wilderness ; it is the wil- 
derness life, far more than the actual killing of the wil- 
derness game, which tests the ability of the wilderness 
hunter. 

After a time, game may even, for the time being, in- 
crease in certain districts where settlements are thin. This 
was true of the wolves throughout the northern cattle 
country, in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and the west- 
ern ends of the Dakotas. In the old days wolves were 




ABERNETHY RETURNS FROM THE HUNT 
From a photograph, copyright, 1905, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



WOLF-COURSING 125 

very plentiful throughout this region, closely following 
the huge herds of buffaloes. The white men who fol- 
lowed these herds as professional buffalo-hunters were 
often accompanied by other men, known as wolfers, who 
poisoned these wolves for the sake of their fur. With the 
disappearance of the buffalo the wolves diminished in 
numbers so that they also seemed to disappear. Then In 
the late eighties or early nineties the wolves began again 
to increase in numbers until they became once more as 
numerous as ever and infinitely more wary and difficult 
to kill ; though as they were nocturnal in their habits they 
were not often seen. Along the Little Missouri and in 
many parts of Montana and Wyoming this increase was 
very noticeable during the last decade of the nineteenth 
century. They were at that time the only big animals 
of the region which had increased in numbers. Such an 
increase following a previous decrease in the same region 
was both curious and interesting. I never knew the 
wolves to be so numerous or so daring in their assaults 
upon stock in the Little Missouri country as in the years 
1894 ^0 1^9^ inclusive. I am unable wholly to account 
for these changes. The first great diminution in the num- 
bers of the wolves is only partially to be explained by 
the poisoning; yet they seemed to disappear almost every- 
where and for a number of years continued scarce. Then 
they again became plentiful, reappearing in districts 
from whence they had entirely vanished, and appearing 
in new districts where they had been hitherto unknown. 
Then they once more began to diminish in number. In 
northwestern Colorado, in the White River country, cou- 



126 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

gars fairly swarmed in the early nineties, while up to that 
time the big gray wolves were almost or entirely un- 
known. Then they began to come in, and increased 
steadily in numbers, while the cougars diminished, so 
that by the winter of 1902-3 they much outnumbered 
the big cats, and committed great ravages among the 
stock. The settlers were at their wits' ends how to deal 
with the pests. At last a trapper came in, a shiftless fel- 
low, but extraordinarily proficient in his work. He had 
some kind of scent, the secret of which he would not re- 
veal, which seemed to drive the wolves nearly crazy with 
desire. In one winter in the neighborhood of the Key- 
stone Ranch he trapped forty-two big gray wolves; 
they still outnumber the cougars, which in that neigh- 
borhood have been nearly killed out, but they are no 
longer abundant. 

At present wolves are decreasing in numbers all over 
Colorado, as they are in Montana, Wyoming, and the 
Dakotas. In some localities traps have been found 
most effective; in others, poison; and in yet others, 
hounds. I am inclined to think that where they have 
been pursued in one manner for a long time any new 
method will at first prove more efficacious. After a very 
few wolves have been poisoned or trapped, the survivors 
become so wary that only a master in the art can do any- 
thing with them, while there are always a few wolves 
which cannot be persuaded to touch a bait save under 
wholly exceptional circumstances. From association 
with the old she wolves the cubs learn as soon as they 
are able to walk to avoid man's traces in every way, and 



WOLF-COURSING 127 

to look out for traps and poison. They are so shy and 
show such extraordinary cunning in hiding and slinking 
out of the way of the hunter that they are rarely killed 
with the rifle. Personally I never shot but one. A bold 
and good rider on a first-rate horse can, however, run 
down even a big gray wolf in fair chase, and either rope 
or shoot it. I have known a number of cow-punchers thus 
to rope wolves when they happened to run across them 
after they had gorged themselves on their quarry. A 
former Colorado ranchman, Mr. Henry N. Pancoast, 
who had done a good deal of wolf-hunting, and had 
killed one which, judging by its skin, was a veritable 
monster, wrote me as follows about his experiences : 

'' I captured nearly all my wolves by running them 
down and then either roped or shot them. I had one 
mount that had great endurance, and when riding him 
never failed to give chase to a wolf if I had the time to 
spare; and never failed to get my quarry but two or three 
times. I roped four full-grown and two cubs and shot 
five full-grown and three cubs — the large wolf in ques- 
tion being killed that way. And he was by far the hardest 
proposition I ever tried, and I candidly think I run him 
twenty miles before overhauling and shooting him (he 
showed too much fight to use a rope) . As it was almost 
dark, concluded to put him on horse and skin at ranch, 
but had my hands full to get him on the saddle, was so 
very heavy. My plan in running wolves down was to 
get about three hundred yards from them, and then to 
keep that distance until the wolf showed signs of fatigue, 
when a little spurt would generally succeed in landing 



128 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

him. In the case of the large one, however, I reckoned 
without my host, as the wolf had as much go left as the 
horse, so I tried slowing down to a walk and let the wolf 
go; he . . . came down to a little trot and soon placed 
a half mile between us, and finally went out of sight over 
a high hill. I took my time and on reaching top of hill 
saw wolf about four hundred yards off, and as I now 
had a down grade managed to get my tired horse on a 
lope and was soon up to the wolf, which seemed all stiff- 
ened up, and one shot from my Winchester finished him. 
We always had poison out, as wolves and coyotes killed 
a great many calves. Never poisoned but two wolves, 
and those were caught with fresh antelope liver and 
entrails (coyotes were easily poisoned)." 

In the early nineties the ravages of the -wolves along 
the Little Missouri became so serious as thoroughly to 
arouse the stockmen. Not only colts and calves, and 
young trail stock, but in midwinter full-grown horses 
and steers were continually slain. The county authori- 
ties put a bounty of three dollars each on wolf scalps, to 
which the ranchmen of the neighborhood added a further 
bounty of five dollars. This made eight dollars for every 
wolf, and as the skin was also worth something, the busi- 
ness of killing wolves became profitable. Quite a number 
of men tried poisoning or trapping, but the most success- 
ful wolf hunter on the Little Missouri at that time was 
a man who did not rely on poison at all, but on dogs. 
He was named Massingale, and he always had a pack 
of at least twenty hounds. The number varied, for a wolf 
at bay is a terrible fighter, with jaws like those of a steel 




BUNY MuoRh AND THE COYOTE 
From a photograph, copyright, 190s, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



WOLF-COURSING 129 

trap, and teeth that cut like knives, so that the dogs were 
continually disabled and sometimes killed, and the hunter 
had always to be on the watch to add animals to his pack. 
It was not a good-looking pack, but it was thoroughly fit 
for its own work. Most of the dogs were greyhounds, 
whether rough or smooth haired, but many of them were 
big mongrels, part greyhound and part some other breed, 
such as bulldog, mastiff, Newfoundland, bloodhound, or 
collie. The only two requisites were that the dogs should 
run fast and fight gamely; and in consequence they 
formed as wicked, hard-biting a crew as ever ran down 
and throttled a wolf. They were usually taken out ten 
at a time, and by their aid Massingale killed over two 
hundred wolves, including cubs. Of course there was 
no pretence of giving the game fair play. The wolves 
were killed as vermin, not for sport. The greatest havoc 
was in the spring-time, when the she-wolves were fol- 
lowed to their dens. Some of the hounds were very fast, 
and they could usually overtake a young or weak wolf; 
but an old dog-wolf, with a good start, unless run into at 
once, would ordinarily get away if he were in running 
trim. Frequently, however, he was caught when not in 
running trim, for the hunter was apt to find him when he 
had killed a calf or taken part in dragging down a horse 
or steer, and was gorged with meat. Under these cir- 
cumstances he could not run long before the pack. If 
possible, as with all such packs, the hunter himself got 
up in time to end the worry by a stab of his hunting-knife ; 
but unless he was quick he had nothing to do, for the pack 
was thoroughly competent to do its own killing. Grim 



130 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



fighter though a great dog-wolf is, he stands no show be- 
fore the onslaught of ten such hounds, agile and power- 
ful, who rush on their antagonist in a body. Massingale's 
dogs possessed great power in their jaws, and unless he 
was up within two or three minutes after the wolf was 
overtaken, they tore him to death, though one or more 
of their number might be killed or crippled in the fight. 
The wolf might be throttled without having the hide 
on its neck torn; but when it was stretched out the dogs 
ripped open its belly. Dogs do not get their teeth 
through the skin of an old cougar; but they will tear up 
either a bobcat or coyote. 

In 1894 ^^^ ^^9^ ^ ^^^ ^ number of wolves on the 
Little Missouri, although I was not looking for them. I 
frequently came upon the remains of sheep and young 
stock which they had killed; and once, upon the top of 
a small plateau, I found the body of a large steer, while 
the torn and trodden ground showed that he had fought 
hard for his life before succumbing. There had been 
two wolves engaged in the work, and the cunning beasts 
had evidently acted in concert. Apparently, while one 
attracted the steer's attention in front, the other, accord- 
ing to the invariable wolf habit, attacked him from be- 
hind, hamstringing him and tearing out his flanks. His 
body was still warm when I came up, but the marauders 
had slunk off, either seeing or smelling me. There was 
no mistaking the criminals, however, for, unlike bears, 
which usually attack an animal at the withers, or cougars, 
which attack the throat or head, wolves almost invariably 
attack their victim at the hind quarters and begin first 



WOLF-COURSING 131 

on the hams or flanks, if the animal is of any size. Owing 
to their often acting in couples or in packs, the big wolves 
do more damage to horned stock than cougars, but they 
are not as dangerous to colts, and they are not nearly as 
expert as the big cats in catching deer and mountain 
sheep. When food is plentiful, good observers say that 
they will not try to molest foxes; but, if hungry, they 
certainly snap them up as quickly as they would fawns. 
Ordinarily they show complete tolerance of the coyotes; 
yet one bitter winter I knew of a coyote being killed and 
eaten by a wolf. 

Not only do the habits of wild beasts change under 
changing conditions as time goes on, but there seems to 
be some change even in their appearance. Thus the early 
observers of the game of the Little Missouri, those who 
wrote in the first half of the nineteenth century, spoke 
much of the white wolves which were then so common in 
the region. These white wolves represented in all prob- 
ability only a color variety of the ordinary gray wolf ; and 
it is difficult to say exactly why they disappeared. Yet 
when about the year 1890 wolves again grew common 
these white wolves were very, very rare; indeed I never 
personally heard of but one being seen. This was on the 
Upper Cannonball in 1892. A nearly black wolf was 
killed not far from this spot in the year 1893. At the 
present day black wolves are more common than white 
wolves, which are rare indeed. But all these big wolves 
are now decreasing in numbers, and in most places are 
decreasing rapidly. 

It will be noticed that on some points my observations 



132 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

about wolves are in seeming conflict with those of other 
observers as competent as I am; but I think the conflict 
is more seeming than real, and I have concluded to let 
my words stand. The great book of nature contains many 
pages which are hard to read, and at times conscientious 
students may well draw different interpretations of the 
obscure and least-known texts. It may not be that either 
observer is at fault, but what is true of an animal in one 
locality may not be true of the same animal in another, 
and even in the same locality two individuals of the same 
species may differ widely in their traits and habits. 



CHAPTER IV 

HUNTING IN THE CATTLE COUNTRY; THE PRONGBUCK 

The prongbuck is the most characteristic and distinc- 
tive of American game animals. Zoologically speaking, 
its position is unique. It is the only hollow-horned 
ruminant which sheds its horns, or rather the horn 
sheaths. We speak of it as an antelope, and it does of 
course represent on our prairies the antelopes of the Old 
World; but it stands apart from all other horned animals. 
Its place in the natural world is almost as lonely as that 
of the giraffe. In all its ways and habits it differs as much 
from deer and elk as from goat and sheep. Now that the 
buffalo has gone, it is the only game really at home on the 
wide plains. It is a striking-looking little creature, with 
its prominent eyes, single-pronged horns, and the sharply 
contrasted white, brown and reddish of its coat. The 
brittle hair is stiff, coarse and springy; on the rump it is 
brilliantly white, and is erected when the animal is 
alarmed or excited, so as to be very conspicuous. In 
marked contrast to deer, antelope never seek to elude ob- 
servation ; all they care for is to be able themselves to see. 
As they have good noses and wonderful eyes, and as they 
live by preference where there is little or no cover, shots 
at them are usually obtained at far longer range than is 
the case with other game ; and yet, as they are easily seen, 

U3 



134 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and often stand looking at the hunter just barely within 
very long rifle-range, they are always tempting their pur- 
suer to the expenditure of cartridges. More shots are 
wasted at antelope than at any other game. They would 
be even harder to secure were it not that they are subject 
to fits of panic folly, or excessive curiosity, which occa- 
sionally put them fairly at the mercy of the rifle-bearing 
hunter. 

In the old days the prongbuck was found as soon as 
the westward-moving traveller left the green bottom- 
lands of the Mississippi, and from thence across to the 
dry, open valleys of California, and northward to Canada 
and southward into Mexico. It has everywhere been 
gradually thinned out, and has vanished altogether from 
what were formerly the extreme easterly and westerly 
limits of its range. The rates of extermination of the dif- 
ferent kinds of big game have been very unequal in 
different localities. Each kind of big game has had its 
own peculiar habitat in which it throve best, and each 
has also been found more or less plentifully in other re- 
gions where the circumstances were less favorable; and in 
these comparatively unfavorable regions it early tends 
to disappear before the advance of man. In consequence, 
where the ranges of the different game animals overlap 
and are intertwined, one will disappear first in one local- 
ity, and another will disappear first where the conditions 
are different. Thus the whitetail deer had thrust for- 
ward along the very narrow river bottoms into the do- 
main of the mule-deer and the prongbuck among the foot- 
hills of the Rocky Mountains, and in these places it was 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 135 

exterminated from the narrow strips which it inhabited 
long before the mule-deer vanished from the high hills, 
or the prongbuck from the great open plains. But along 
great portions of the Missouri there are plenty of white- 
tails yet left in the river bottoms, while the mule-deer 
that once dwelt in the broken hills behind them, and the 
prongbuck which lived on the prairie just back of these 
bluffs, have both disappeared. In the same way the mule- 
deer and the prongbuck are often found almost inter- 
mingled through large regions in which plains, hills, and 
mountains alternate. If such a region is mainly moun- 
tainous, but contains a few valleys and table-lands, the 
prongbuck is sure to vanish from the latter before the 
mule-deer vanishes from the broken country. But if the 
region is one primarily of plains, with here and there 
rows of rocky hills in which the mule-deer is found, the 
latter is killed off long before the prongbuck can be 
hunted out of the great open stretches. The same is true 
of the pronghorn and the wapiti. The size and value of 
the wapiti make it an object of eager persecution on the 
part of hunters. But as it can live in the forest-clad fast- 
nesses of the Rockies, into which settlement does not go, 
it outlasts over great regions the pronghorn, whose abode 
is easily penetrated by sheep and cattle men. Under any- 
thing like even conditions, however, the prongbuck, of 
course, outlasts the wapiti. This was the case on the Lit- 
tle Missouri. On that stream the bighorn also outlasted 
the wapiti. In 1881 wapiti were still much more plenti- 
ful than bighorns. Within the next decade they had 
almost totally disappeared, while the bighorn was still 



136 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

to be found; I shot one and saw others in 1893, ^^ which 
time I had not authentic information of a single wapiti 
remaining anywhere on the river in my neighborhood, 
although it is possible that one or two still lurked in some 
out-of-the-way recess. In Colorado at one time the big- 
horn was nearly exterminated, while the wapiti still 
withstood the havoc made among its huge herds; then fol- 
lowed a period in which the rapidity of destruction of 
the wapiti increased far beyond that of the bighorn. 

I mention these facts partly because they are of inter- 
est in themselves, but chiefly because they tend to explain 
the widely different opinions expressed by competent ob- 
servers about what superficially seem to be similar facts. 
It cannot be too often repeated that allowance must be 
made for the individual variability in the traits and char- 
acters of animals of the same species, and especially of 
the same species under different circumstances and in dif- 
ferent localities; and allowance must also be made for 
the variability of the individual factor in the observers 
themselves. Many seemingly contradictory observations 
of the habits of deer, wapiti, and prongbuck will be 
found in books by the best hunters. Take such questions 
as the keenness of sight of the deer as compared with the 
prongbuck, and of the pugnacity of the wapiti, both act- 
ual and relative, and a wide difference of opinion will be 
found in three such standard works as Dodge's " The 
Hunting-grounds of the Great West," Caton's " Deer and 
Antelope of America," and the contributions of Mr. 
Grinnell to the " Century Book of Sports." Sometimes 
the difference will be in mere matters of opinion, as, for 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 137 

instance, in the belief as to the relative worth of the sport 
furnished by the chase of the different creatures; but 
sometimes there is a direct conflict of fact. Colonel 
Dodge, for instance, has put it upon record that the wapiti 
is an exceedingly gentle animal, less dangerous than a 
whitetail or blacktail buck in a close encounter, and that 
the bulls hardly ever fight among themselves. My own 
experience leads me to traverse in the most emphatic 
manner every one of these conclusions, and all hunters 
whom I have met feel exactly as I do ; yet no one would 
question for a moment Colonel Dodge's general com- 
petency as an observer. In the same way Mr. Grinnell 
has a high opinion of the deer's keenness of sight. Judge 
Caton absolutely disagrees with him, and my own ex- 
perience tends to agree with that of the Judge — at least 
to the extent of placing the deer's vision far below that 
of the prongbuck and even that of the bighorn, and only 
on a par with that of the wapiti. Yet Mr. Grinnell is 
an unusually competent observer, whose opinion on any 
such subject is entitled to unqualified respect. 

Difference in habits may be due simply to difference 
of locality, or to the need of adaptation to new conditions. 
The prongbuck's habits about migration offer examples 
of the former kind of difference. Over portions of its 
range the prongbuck is not migratory at all. In other 
parts the migrations are purely local. In yet other re- 
gions the migrations are continued for great distances, im- 
mense multitudes of the animals going to and fro in the 
spring and fall along well-beaten tracks. I know of one 
place in New Mexico where the pronghorn herds are ten- 



138 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ants of certain great plains throughout the entire year. I 
know another region in northwestern Colorado where the 
very few prongbucks still left, though they shift from val- 
ley to valley, yet spend the whole year in the same stretch 
of rolling, barren country. On the Little Missouri, how- 
ever, during the eighties and early nineties, there was 
a very distinct though usually local migration. Before 
the Black Hills had been settled they were famous win- 
tering places for the antelope, which swarmed from 
great distances to them when cold weather approached; 
those which had summered east of the Big Missouri actu- 
ally swam the river in great herds, on their journey to 
the Hills. The old hunters around my ranch insisted 
that formerly the prongbuck had for the most part trav- 
elled from the Little Missouri Bad Lands into the Black 
Hills for the winter. 

When I was ranching on that river, however, this 
custom no longer obtained, for the Black Hills were too 
well settled, and the herds of prongbuck that wintered 
there were steadily diminishing in numbers. At that 
time, from 1883 to 1896, the seasonal change in habits, 
and shift of position, of the prongbucks were well 
marked. As soon as the new grass sprang they appeared 
in great numbers upon the plains. They were especially 
fond of the green, tender blades that came up where the 
country had been burned over. If the region had been 
devastated by prairie fires in the fall, the next spring it 
was certain to contain hundreds and thousands of prong- 
bucks. All through the summer they remained out on 
these great open plains, coming to drink at the little pools 




h- 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 139 

in the creek beds, and living where there was no shelter 
of any kind. As winter approached they began to gather 
in bands. Some of these bands apparently had regular 
wintering places to the south of us, in Pretty Buttes and 
beyond; and close to my ranch, at the crossing of the 
creek called Beaver, there were certain trails which these 
antelope regularly travelled, northward in the spring and 
southward in the fall. But other bands would seek out 
places in the Bad Lands near by, gathering together on 
some succession of plateaus which were protected by 
neighboring hills from the deep drifts of snow. Here 
they passed the winter, on short commons, it is true (they 
graze, not browsing like deer), but without danger of 
perishing in the snow-drifts. On the other hand, if the 
skin hunters discovered such a wintering place, they were 
able to butcher practically the entire band, if they so de- 
sired, as the prongbucks were always most reluctant to 
leave such a chosen ground. 

Normally the prongbuck avoids both broken ground 
and timber. It is a queer animal, with keen senses, but 
with streaks of utter folly in its character. Time and 
again I have known bands rush right by me, when I 
happened to surprise them feeding near timber or hills, 
and got between them and the open plains. The animals 
could have escaped without the least difficulty if they had 
been willing to go into the broken country, or through 
even a few rods of trees and brush; and yet they preferred 
to rush madly by me at close range, in order to get out 
to their favorite haunts. But nowadays there are certain 
localities where the prongbucks spend a large part of 



I40 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

their time in the timber or in rough, hilly country, feed- 
ing and bringing up their young in such localities. 

Typically, however, the prongbuck is preeminently a 
beast of the great open plains, eating their harsh, dry 
pasturage, and trusting to its own keen senses and speed 
for its safety. All the deer are fond of skulking; the 
whitetail preeminently so. The prongbuck, on the con- 
trary, never endeavors to elude observation. Its sole aim 
is to be able to see its enemies, and it cares nothing what- 
ever about its enemies seeing it. Its coloring is very 
conspicuous, and is rendered still more so by its habit 
of erecting the white hair on its rump. It has a very 
erect carriage, and when it thinks itself in danger it 
always endeavors to get on some crest or low hill from 
which it can look all about. The big bulging eyes, sit- 
uated at the base of the horns, scan the horizon far and 
near like twin telescopes. They pick out an object at 
such a distance that it would entirely escape the notice of 
a deer. When suspicious, they have a habit of barking, 
uttering a sound something like " kau," and repeating 
it again and again, as they walk up and down, en- 
deavoring to find out if danger lurks in the unusual ob- 
ject. They are extremely curious, and in the old days 
it was often possible to lure them toward the hunter by 
waving a red handkerchief to and fro on a stick, or even 
by lying on one's back and kicking the legs. Nowadays, 
however, there are very few localities indeed in which 
they are sufficiently unsophisticated to make it worth 
while trying these time-honored tricks of the long-van- 
ished trappers and hunters. 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 141 

Along the Little Missouri the fawns, sometimes one 
and sometimes two in number, were dropped in May or 
early in June. At that time the antelope were usually 
found in herds which the mother did not leave until she 
was about to give birth to the fawn. During the first 
few days the fawn's safety is to be found only in its not 
attracting attention. During this time it normally lies 
perfectly flat on the ground, with its head outstretched, 
and makes no effort to escape. While out on the spring 
round-up I have come across many of these fawns. Once, 
in company with several cowboys, I was riding behind 
a bunch of cattle which, as we hurried them, spread out 
in open order ahead of us. Happening to cast down my 
eyes I saw an antelope fawn directly ahead of me. The 
bunch of cattle had passed all around it, but it made not 
the slightest sign, not even when I halted, got off my 
pony, and took it up in my arms. It was useless to take 
it to camp and try to rear it, and so I speedily put it 
down again. Scanning the neighborhood, I saw the doe 
hanging about some half a mile off, and when I looked 
back from the next divide I could see her gradually draw- 
ing near to the fawn. 

If taken when very young, antelope make cunning 
and amusing pets, and I have often seen them around the 
ranches. There was one in the ranch of a Mrs. Blank 
who had a station on the Deadwood stage line some eigh- 
teen years ago. She was a great worker in buckskin, and 
I got her to make me the buckskin shirt I still use. There 
was an antelope fawn that lived at the house, wandering 
wherever it wished ; but it would not permit me to touch 



142 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

it. As I sat inside the house it would come in and hop 
up on a chair, looking at me sharply all the while. No 
matter how cautiously I approached, I could never put 
my hand upon it, as at the last moment it would spring 
ofif literally as quick as a bird would fly. One of my 
neighbors on the Little Missouri, Mr. Howard Eaton, 
had at one time upon his ranch three little antelope whose 
foster-mother was a sheep, and who were really absurdly 
tame. I was fond of patting them and of giving them 
crusts, and the result was that they followed me about 
so closely that I had to be always on the lookout to see 
that I did not injure them. They were on excellent terms 
with the dogs, and were very playful. It was a comic 
sight to see them skipping and hopping about the old ewe 
when anything happened to alarm her and she started ofif 
at a clumsy waddle. Nothing could surpass the tameness 
of the antelope that are now under Mr. Hornaday's care 
at the Bronx Zoological Garden in New York. The last 
time that I visited the garden some repairs were being 
made inside the antelope enclosure, and a dozen work- 
men had gone in to make them. The antelope regarded 
the workmen with a friendliness and curiosity untem- 
pered by the slightest touch of apprehension. When the 
men took off their coats the little creatures would nose 
them over to see if they contained anything edible, and 
they would come close up and watch the men plying the 
pick with the utmost interest. Mr. Hornaday took us in- 
side, and they all came up in the most friendly manner. 
One or two of the bucks would put their heads against 
our legs and try to push us around, but not roughly. Mr. 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 143 

Hornaday told me that he was having great difficulty, 
exactly as with the mule-deer, in acclimatizing the ante- 
lope, especially as the food was so different from what 
they were accustomed to in their native haunts. 

The wild fawns are able to run well a few days after 
they are born. They then accompany the mother every- 
where. Sometimes she joins a band of others; more often 
she stays alone with her fawn, and perhaps one of the 
young of the previous year, until the rut begins. Of all 
game the prongbuck seems to me the most excitable dur- 
ing the rut. The males run the does much as do the 
bucks of the mule and whitetail deer. If there are no 
does present, I have sometimes watched a buck run to 
and fro by himself. The first time I saw this I was 
greatly interested, and could form no idea of what the 
buck was doing. He was by a creek bed in a slight de- 
pression or shallow valley, and was grazing uneasily. 
After a little while he suddenly started and ran just as 
hard as he could, off in a straight direction, nearly away 
from me. I thought that somehow or other he had dis- 
covered my presence; but he suddenly wheeled and came 
back to the original place, still running at his utmost 
speed. Then he halted, moved about with the white 
hairs on his rump outspread, and again dashed off at full 
speed, halted, wheeled, and came back. Two or three 
times he did this, and let me get very close to him be- 
fore he discovered me. I was too much interested in 
what he was doing to desire to shoot him. 

In September, sometimes not earlier than October, 
the big bucks begin to gather the does into harems. Each 



144 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

buck is then constantly on the watch to protect his harem 
from outsiders, and steal another doe if he can get a 
chance. I have seen a comparatively young buck who 
had appropriated a doe, hustle her hastily out of the 
country as soon as he saw another antelope in the neigh- 
borhood; while, on the other hand, a big buck, already 
with a good herd of does, will do his best to appropriate 
any other that comes in sight. The bucks fight fearlessly 
but harmlessly among themselves, locking their horns 
and then pushing as hard as they can. 

Although their horns are not very formidable weap- 
ons, they are bold little creatures, and if given a chance 
will stand at bay before either hound or coyote. A doe 
will fight most gallantly for her fawn, and is an over- 
match for a single coyote, but of course she can do but lit- 
tle against a large wolf. The wolves are occasionally very 
destructive to the herds. The cougar, however, which 
is a much worse foe than the wolf to deer and mountain 
sheep, can but rarely molest the prongbuck, owing to the 
nature of the latter's haunts. Eagles, on occasion, take 
the fawns, as they do those of deer. 

I have always been fond of the chase of the prong- 
buck. While I lived on my ranch on the Little Mis- 
souri it was, next to the mule-deer, the game which I 
most often followed, and on the long wagon strips which 
I occasionally took from my ranch to the Black Hills, 
to the Big Horn Mountains, or into eastern Montana, 
prongbuck venison was our usual fresh meat, save when 
we could kill prairie-chickens and ducks with our rifles, 
which was not always feasible. In my mind the prong- 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 145 

buck is always associated with the open prairies during 
the spring, summer, or early fall. It has happened that 
I have generally pursued the bighorn in bitter weather; 
and when we laid in our stock of winter meat, mule- 
deer was our usual game. Though I have shot prongbuck 
in winter, I never liked to do so, as I felt the animals 
were then having a sufficiently hard struggle for existence 
anyhow. But in the spring the meat of the prongbuck 
was better than that of any other game, and, moreover, 
there was not the least danger of mistaking the sexes, 
and killing a doe accidentally, and accordingly I rarely 
killed anything but pronghorns at that season. In those 
days we never got any fresh meat, whether on the ranch or 
while on the round-up or on a wagon trip, unless we shot 
it, and salt pork became a most monotonous diet after a 
time. 

Occasionally I killed the prongbuck in a day's hunt 
from my ranch. If I started with the intention of prong- 
buck hunting, I always went on horseback; but twice I 
killed them on foot when I happened to run across them 
by accident while looking for mule-deer. I shall always 
remember one of these occasions. I was alone in the Elk- 
horn ranch-house at the time, my foreman and the only 
cowpuncher who was not on the round-up having driven 
to Medora, some forty miles away, in order to bring down 
the foreman's wife and sister, who were going to spend 
the summer with him. It was the fourth day of his ab- 
sence. I expected him in the evening and wanted to have 
fresh meat, and so after dinner I shouldered my rifle and 
strolled off through the hills. It was too early in the 



146 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

day to expect to see anything, and my intention was sim- 
ply to walk out until I was five or six miles from the 
ranch, and then work carefully home through a likely 
country toward sunset, as by this arrangement I would 
be in a good game region at the very time that the ani- 
mals were likely to stir abroad. It was a glaring, late- 
spring day, and in the hot sun of mid-afternoon I had no 
idea that anything would be moving, and was not keep- 
ing a very sharp lookout. After an hour or two's steady 
tramping I came into a long, narrow valley, bare of trees 
and brushwood, and strolled along it, following a cattle 
trail that led up the middle. The hills rose steeply into 
a ridge crest on each side, sheer clay shoulders breaking 
the mat of buffalo-grass which elsewhere covered the 
sides of the valley as well as the bottom. It was very hot 
and still, and I was paying but little attention to my sur- 
roundings, when my eye caught a sudden movement on 
the ridge crest to my right, and, dropping on one knee 
as I wheeled around, I saw the head and neck of a prong- 
buck rising above the crest. The animal was not above 
a hundred yards off, and stood motionless as it stared at 
me. At the crack of the rifle the head disappeared; but 
as I sprang clear of the smoke I saw a cloud of dust rise 
on the other side of the ridge crest, and felt convinced 
that the quarry had fallen. I was right. On climbing 
the ridge crest I found that on the other side it sank 
abruptly in a low cliff of clay, and at the foot of this, 
thirty feet under me, the prongbuck lay with its neck 
broken. After dressing it I shouldered the body entire, 
thinking that I should like to impress the new-comers by 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 147 

the sight of so tangible a proof of my hunting prowess as 
whole prongbuck hanging up in the cottonwoods by the 
house. As it was a well-grown buck the walk home un- 
der the hot sun was one of genuine toil. 

The spot where I ran across this prongbuck was miles 
away from the nearest plains, and it was very unusual 
to see one in such rough country. In fact, the occurrence 
was wholly exceptional ; just as I once saw three bighorn 
rams, which usually keep to the roughest country, de- 
liberately crossing the river bottom below my ranch, and 
going for half a mile through the thick Cottonwood tim- 
ber. Occasionally, however, parties of prongbuck came 
down the creek bottoms to the river. Once I struck a 
couple of young bucks in the bottom of a creek which led 
to the Chimney Butte ranch-house, and stalked them 
without difficulty; for as prongbuck make no effort to 
hide, if there is good cover even their sharp eyes do not 
avail them. On another occasion several does and fawns, 
which we did not molest, spent some time on what we 
called " the corral bottom," which was two or three miles 
above the ranch-house. In the middle of this bottom we 
had built a corral for better convenience in branding the 
calves when the round-up came near our ranch — as the 
bottom on which the ranch-house stood was so thickly 
wooded as to make it difficult to work cattle thereon. 
The does and fawns hung around the corral bottom for 
some little time, and showed themselves very curious and 
by no means shy. 

When I went from the ranch for a day's prongbuck 
hunting of set purpose, I always rode a stout horse and 



148 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

started by dawn. The prongbucks are almost the only 
game that can be hunted as well during the heat of the 
day as at any other time. They occasionally lie down for 
two or three hours about noon in some hollow where they 
cannot be seen, but usually there is no place where they 
are sure they can escape observation even when resting; 
and when this is the case they choose a somewhat con- 
spicuous station and trust to their own powers of observa- 
tion, exactly as they do when feeding. There is there- 
fore no necessity, as with deer, of trying to strike them at 
dawn or dusk. The reason why I left the ranch before 
sunrise and often came back long after dark was because 
I had to ride at least a dozen miles to get out to the ground 
and a dozen to get back, and if after industrious walking 
I failed at first to find my game, I would often take the 
horse again and ride for an hour or two to get into new 
country. Prongbuck water once a day, often travelling 
great distances to or from some little pool or spring. Of 
course, if possible, I liked to leave the horse by such a 
pool or spring. On the great plains to which I used to 
make these excursions there was plenty of water in early 
spring, and it would often run, here and there, in the 
upper courses of some of the creeks — which, however, 
usually contained running water only when there had 
been a cloudburst or freshet. As the season wore on the 
country became drier and drier. Water would remain 
only in an occasional deep hole, and few springs were left 
in which there was so much as a trickle. In a strange 
country I could not tell where these water-holes were, but 
in the neighborhood of the ranch I of course knew where 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 149 

I was likely to find them. Often, however, I was disap- 
pointed; and more than once after travelling many miles 
to where I hoped to find water, there would be nothing 
but sun-cracked mud, and the horse and I would have 
eighteen hours of thirst in consequence. A ranch horse, 
however, is accustomed to such incidents, and of course 
when a man spends half the time riding, it is merely a 
matter of slight inconvenience to go so long without a 
drink. 

Nevertheless, if I did reach a spring, it turned the 
expedition into pleasure instead of toil. Even in the hot 
weather the ride toward the plains over the hills was 
very lovely. It was beautiful to see the red dawn quicken 
from the first glimmering gray in the east, and then to 
watch the crimson bars glint on the tops of the fantasti- 
cally shaped barren hills when the sun flamed, burning 
and splendid, above the horizon. In the early morning 
the level beams threw into sharp relief the strangely 
carved and channelled cliff walls of the buttes. There 
was rarely a cloud to dim the serene blue of the sky. By 
the time the heat had grown heavy I had usually reached 
the spring or pool, where I unsaddled the horse, watered 
him, and picketed him out to graze. Then, under the 
hot sun, I would stride ofif for the hunting proper. On 
such occasions I never went to where the prairie was ab- 
solutely flat. There were always gently rolling stretches 
broken by shallow watercourses, slight divides, and even 
low mounds, sometimes topped with strangely shaped 
masses of red scoria or with petrified trees. My object, 
of course, was, either with my unaided eyes or with the 



150 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

help of my glasses, to catch sight of the prongbucks be- 
fore they saw me. I speedily found, by the way, that if 
they were too plentiful this was almost impossible. The 
more abundant deer are in a given locality the more apt 
one is to run across them, and of course if the country is 
sufficiently broken, the same is true of prongbucks; but 
where it is very flat and there are many different bands in 
sight at the same time, it is practically impossible to keep 
out of sight of all of them, and as they are also all in 
sight of one another, if one flees the others are certain 
to take the alarm. Under such circumstances I have usu- 
ally found that the only pronghorns I got were obtained 
by accident, so to speak; that is, by some of them unex- 
pectedly running my way, or by my happening to come 
across them in some nook where I could not see them, or 
they me. 

Prongbucks are very fast runners indeed, even faster 
than deer. They vary greatly in speed, however, precise- 
ly as is the case with deer; in fact, I think that the aver- 
age hunter makes altogether too little account of this 
individual variation among different animals of the same 
kind. Under the same conditions different deer and ante- 
lope vary in speed and wariness, exactly as bears and cou- 
gars vary in cunning and ferocity. When in perfect con- 
dition a full-grown buck antelope, from its strength and 
size. Is faster and more enduring than an old doe; but a 
fat buck, before the rut has begun, will often be pulled 
down by a couple of good greyhounds much more speed- 
ily than a flying yearling or two-year-old doe. Under 
favorable circumstances, when the antelope was jumped 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 151 

near by, I have seen one overhauled and seized by a first- 
class greyhound; and, on the other hand, I have more 
than once seen a pronghorn run away from a whole pack 
of just as good dogs. With a fair start, and on good 
ground, a thoroughbred horse, even though handi- 
capped by the weight of a rider, will run down an ante- 
lope ; but this is a feat which should rarely be attempted, 
because such a race, even when carried to a successful 
issue, is productive of the utmost distress to the steed. 

Ordinary horses will sometimes run down an antelope 
which is slower than the average. I once had on my 
ranch an under-sized old Indian pony named White 
Eye, which, when it was fairly roused, showed a remark- 
able turn of speed, and had great endurance. One morn- 
ing on the round-up, when for some reason we did not 
work the cattle, I actually ran down an antelope in fair 
chase on this old pony. It was a nursing doe, and I came 
over the crest of the hill, between forty and fifty yards 
away from it. As it wheeled to start back, the old cayuse 
pricked up his ears with great interest, and the moment 
I gave him a sign was after it like a shot. Whether, being 
a cow-pony, he started to run it just as if it were a calf 
or a yearling trying to break out of the herd, or whether 
he was overcome by dim reminiscences of buffalo-hunt- 
ing in his Indian youth, I know not. At any rate, after 
the doe he went, and in a minute or two I found I was 
drawing up to her. I had a revolver, but of course did 
not wish to kill her, and so got my rope ready to try to 
take her alive. She ran frantically, but the old pony, 
bending level to the ground, kept up his racing lope and 



152 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

closed right in beside her. As I came up she fairly 
bleated. An expert with the rope would have captured 
her with the utmost ease; but I missed, sending the coil 
across her shoulders. She again gave an agonized bleat, 
or bark, and wheeled around like a shot. The cow-pony 
stopped almost, but not quite, as fast, and she got a slight 
start, and it was some little time before I overhauled her 
again. When I did I repeated the performance, and this 
time when she wheeled she succeeded in getting on some 
ground where I could not follow, and I was thrown out. 

Normally, a horseman without greyhounds can hope 
for nothing more than to get within fair shooting range; 
and this only by taking advantage of the prongbucks' 
peculiarity of running straight ahead in the direction in 
which they are pointed, when once they have settled into 
their pace. Usually, as soon as they see a hunter they run 
straight away from him; but sometimes they make their 
flight at an angle, and as they do not like to change their 
course when once started, it is thus possible, with a good 
horse, to cut tnem off from the point toward which they 
are headed, and get a reasonably close shot. 

I have done a good deal of coursing with greyhounds 
at one time or another, but always with scratch packs. 
There are a few ranchmen who keep leashes of grey- 
hounds of pure blood, bred and trained to antelope cours- 
ing, and who do their coursing scientifically, carrying the 
dogs out to the hunting-grounds in wagons and exercis- 
ing every care in the sport; but these men are rare. The 
average man who dwells where antelope are sufficiently 
abundant to make coursing a success, simply follows the 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 153 

pursuit at odd moments, with whatever long-legged dogs 
he and his neighbors happen to have; and his methods of 
coursing are apt to be as rough as his outfit. My own 
coursing was precisely of this character. At different 
times I had on my ranch one or two high-classed grey- 
hounds and Scotch deerhounds, with which we coursed 
deer and antelope, as well as jack-rabbits, foxes, and 
coyotes; and we usually had with them one or two or- 
dinary hounds, and various half-bred dogs. I must add, 
however, that some of the latter were very good. I can 
recall in particular one fawn-colored beast, a cross be- 
tween a greyhound and a foxhound, which ran nearly 
as fast as the former, though it occasionally yelped in 
shrill tones. It could also trail well, and was thoroughly 
game; on one occasion it ran down and killed a coyote 
single-handed. 

On going out with these dogs, I rarely chose a day 
when I was actually in need of fresh meat. If this was 
the case, I usually went alone with the rifle; but if one 
or two other men were at the ranch, and we wanted a 
morning's fun, we would often summon the dogs, mount 
our horses, and go trooping out to the antelope-ground. 
As there was good deer-country between the ranch bot- 
tom and the plains where we found the prongbuck, it not 
infrequently happened that we had a chase after black- 
tail or whitetail on the way. Moreover, when we got out 
to the ground, before sighting antelope, it frequently hap- 
pened that the dogs would jump a jack-rabbit or a fox, 
and away the whole set would go after it, streaking 
through the short grass, sometimes catching their prey 



154 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

in a few hundred yards, and sometimes having to run a 
mile or so. In consequence, by the time we reached the 
regular hunting-ground the dogs were apt to have lost 
a good deal of their freshness. We would get them in 
behind the horses and creep cautiously along, trying to 
find some solitary prongbuck in a suitable place, where 
we could bring up the dogs from behind a hillock and 
give them a fair start. Usually we failed to get the dogs 
near enough for a good start; and in most cases their 
chases after unwounded prongbuck resulted in the quarry 
running clean away from them. Thus the odds were 
greatly against them; but, on the other hand, we helped 
them wherever possible with the rifle. We usually rode 
well scattered out, and if one of us put up an antelope, 
or had a chance at one when driven by the dogs, he 
always fired, and the pack were saved from the ill effects 
of total discouragement by so often getting these wounded 
beasts. It was astonishing to see how fast an antelope 
with a broken leg could run. If such a beast had a good 
start, and especially if the dogs were tired, it would often 
lead them a hard chase, and the dogs would be utterly 
exhausted after it had been killed ; so that we would have 
to let them lie where they were for a long time before 
trying to lead them down to some stream-bed. If pos- 
sible, we carried water for them in canteens. 

There were red-letter days, however, on which our 
dogs fairly ran down and killed unwounded antelope — 
days when the weather was cool, and when it happened 
that we got our dogs out to the ground without their being 
tired by previous runs, and found our quarry soon, and 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 155 

in favorable places for slipping the hounds. I remember 
one such chase in particular. We had at the time a mixed 
pack, in which there was only one dog of my own, the 
others being contributed from various sources. It in- 
cluded two greyhounds, a rough-coated deerhound, a fox- 
hound, and the fawn-colored cross-bred mentioned above. 
We rode out in the early morning, the dogs trotting 
behind us; and, coming to a low tract of rolling hills, 
just at the edge of the great prairie, we separated and 
rode over the crest of the nearest ridge. Just as we topped 
it, a fine buck leaped up from a hollow a hundred yards 
off, and turned to look at us for a moment. All the dogs 
were instantly spinning toward him down the grassy 
slope. He apparently saw those at the right, and, turn- 
ing, raced away from us in a diagonal line, so that the 
left-hand greyhound, which ran cunning and tried to 
cut him off, was very soon almost alongside. He saw her, 
however — she was a very fast bitch — just in time, and, 
wheeling, altered his course to the right. As he reached 
the edge of the prairie, this alteration nearly brought him 
in contact with the cross-bred, which had obtained a rather 
poor start, on the extreme right of the line. Around went 
the buck again, evidently panic-struck and puzzled to 
the last degree, and started straight off across the prairie, 
the dogs literally at his heels, and we, urging our horses 
with whip and spur, but a couple of hundred yards be- 
hind. For half a mile the pace was tremendous, when 
one of the greyhounds made a spring at his ear, but fail- 
ing to make good his hold, was thrown off. However, 
it halted the buck for a moment, and made him turn 



156 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

quarter round, and in a second the deerhound had seized 
him by the flank and thrown him, and all the dogs piled 
on top, never allowing him to rise. 

Later we again put up a buck not far off. At first 
it went slowly, and the dogs hauled up on it; but when 
they got pretty close, it seemed to see them, and letting 
itself out, went clean away from them almost without 
effort. 

Once or twice we came upon bands of antelope, and 
the hounds would immediately take after them. I was 
always rather sorry for this, however, because the fright- 
ened animals, as is generally the case when beasts are 
in a herd, seemed to impede one another, and the chase 
usually ended by the dogs seizing a doe, for it was of 
course impossible to direct them to any particular beast. 

It will be seen that with us coursing was a homely 
sport. Nevertheless we had good fun, and I shall always 
have enjoyable memories of the rapid gallops across the 
prairie, on the trail of a flying prongbuck. 

Usually my pronghorn hunting has been done while 
I have been off with a wagon on a trip intended prima- 
rily for the chase, or else while travelling for some other 
purpose. 

All life in the wilderness is so pleasant that the 
temptation is to consider each particular variety, while 
one is enjoying it, as better than any other. A canoe trip 
through the great forests, a trip with a pack-train among 
the mountains, a trip on snow-shoes through the silent, 
mysterious fairyland of the woods in winter — each has 
its peculiar charm. To some men the sunny monotony 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 157 

of the great plains is wearisome; personally there are few 
things I have enjoyed more than journeying over them 
where the game was at all plentiful. Sometimes I have 
gone off for three or four days alone on horseback, with 
a slicker or oilskin coat behind the saddle, and some salt 
and hardtack as my sole provisions. But for comfort on 
a trip of any length it was always desirable to have a 
wagon. My regular outfit consisted of a wagon and team 
driven by one man who cooked, together with another 
man and four riding ponies, two of which we rode, while 
the other two were driven loose or led behind the wagon. 
While it is eminently desirable that a hunter should be 
able to rough it, and should be entirely willing to put 
up with the bare minimum of necessities, and to undergo 
great fatigue and hardship, it is yet not at all necessary 
that he should refrain from comfort of a wholesome sort 
when it is obtainable. By taking the wagon we could 
carry a tent to put up if there was foul weather. I had 
a change of clothes to put on if I was wet, two or three 
books to read — and nothing adds more to the enjoyment 
of a hunting trip — as well as plenty of food ; while having 
two men made me entirely foot-loose as regards camp, 
so that I could hunt whenever I pleased, and, if I came 
in tired, I simply rested, instead of spending two or three 
hours in pitching camp, cooking, tethering horses, and 
doing the innumerable other little things which in the 
aggregate amount to so much. 

On such a trip, when we got into unknown country, 
it was of course very necessary to stay near the wagon, 
especially if we had to hunt for water. But if we knew 



158 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the country at all, we would decide in the morning about 
where the camp was to be made in the afternoon, and 
then I would lope off on my own account, while the 
wagon lumbered slowly across the rough prairie sward 
straight toward its destination. Sometimes I took the 
spare man with me, and sometimes not. It was conven- 
ient to have him, for there are continually small emer- 
gencies in which it is well to be with a companion. For 
instance, if one jumps off for a sudden shot, there is al- 
ways a slight possibility that any but a thoroughly trained 
horse will get frightened and gallop away. On some of 
my horses I could absolutely depend, but there were 
others, and very good ones too, which would on rare occa- 
sions fail me; and few things are more disheartening 
than a long stern chase after one's steed under such cir- 
cumstances, with the unpleasant possibility of seeing him 
leave the country entirely and strike out for the ranch 
fifty or sixty miles distant. If there is a companion with 
one, all danger of this is over. Moreover, in galloping 
at full speed after the game it is impossible now and then 
to avoid a tumble, as the horse may put his leg into a 
prairie-dog hole or badger burrow; and on such occasions 
a companion may come in very handily. On the other 
hand, there is so great a charm in absolute solitude, in the 
wild, lonely freedom of the great plains, that often I 
would make some excuse and go off entirely by myself. 

Such rides had a fascination of their own. Hour after 
hour the wiry pony shuffled onward across the sea of 
short, matted grass. On every side the plains stretched 
seemingly limitless. Sometimes there would be no ob- 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 159 

ject to break the horizon; sometimes across a score of 
miles there would loom through the clear air the fantastic 
outlines of a chain of buttes, rising grim and barren. Oc- 
casionally there might be a slightly marked watercourse, 
every drop of moisture long dried; and usually there 
would not be as much as the smallest sage brush anywhere 
in sight. As the sun rose higher and higher the shadows 
of horse and rider shortened, and the beams were reflected 
from the short, bleached blades until in the hot air all 
the landscape afar off seemed to dance and waver. Often 
on such trips days went by without our coming across 
another human being, and the loneliness and vastness of 
the country seemed as unbroken as if the old vanished 
days had returned — the days of the wild wilderness wan- 
derers, and the teeming myriads of game they followed, 
and the scarcely wilder savages against whom they 
warred. 

Now and then prongbuck would appear, singly or 
in bands; and their sharp bark of alarm or curiosity 
would come to me through the still, hot air over great 
distances, as they stood with head erect looking at me, 
the white patches on their rumps shining in the sun, and 
the bands and markings on their heads and necks show- 
ing as if they were in livery. Scan the country as care- 
fully as I would, they were far more apt to see me than 
I was them, and once they had seen me, it was normally 
hopeless to expect to get them. But their strange freak- 
ishness of nature frequently offsets the keenness of their 
senses. At least half of the prongbucks which I shot were 
obtained, not by stalking, but by coming across them 



i6o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

purely through their own fault. Though the prairie 
seemed level, there was really a constant series of un- 
dulations, shallow and of varying width. Now and then 
as I topped some slight rise I would catch a glimpse of 
a little band of pronghorns feeding, and would slip off 
my horse before they could see me. A hasty determina- 
tion as to where the best chance of approaching them lay 
would be followed by a half-hour's laborious crawl, a 
good part of the time flat on my face. They might dis- 
cover me when I was still too far for a shot; or by taking 
advantage of every little inequality I might get within 
long range before they got a glimpse of me, and then in 
a reasonable proportion of cases I would bag my buck. 
At other times the buck would come to me. Perhaps one 
would suddenly appear over a divide himself, and his 
curiosity would cause him to stand motionless long 
enough to give me a shot; while on other occasions I 
have known one which was out of range to linger around, 
shifting his position as I shifted mine, until by some sud- 
den gallop or twist I was able to get close enough to 
empty my magazine at him. 

When the shadows had lengthened, but before any 
coolness had come into the air, I would head for the ap- 
pointed camping-place. Sometimes this would be on 
the brink of some desolate little pool under a low, tree- 
less butte, or out on the open prairie where the only wood 
was what we had brought with us. At other times I 
would find the wagon drawn up on the edge of some 
shrunken plains river, under a line of great cottonwoods 
with splintered branches and glossy leaves that rustled 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY i6i 

all day long. Such a camp was always comfortable, for 
there was an abundance of wood for the fire, plenty of 
water, and thick feed in which the horses grazed — one 
or two being picketed and the others feeding loose until 
night came on. If I had killed a prongbuck, steaks were 
speedily sizzling in the frying-pan over the hot coals. 
If I had failed to get anything, I would often walk a 
mile or two down or up the river to see if I could not 
kill a couple of prairie-chickens or ducks. If the even- 
ing was at all cool, we built a fire as darkness fell, and 
sat around it, while the leaping flames lit up the trunks 
of the cottonwoods and gleamed on the pools of water 
in the half-dry river bed. Then I would wrap myself 
in my blanket and lie looking up at the brilliant stars 
until I fell asleep. 

In both 1893 ^^^ ^^94 I made trips to a vast tract of 
rolling prairie land, some fifty miles from my ranch, 
where I had for many years enjoyed the keen pleasure 
of hunting the prongbuck. In 1893 ^^^ pronghorned 
bands were as plentiful in this district as I have ever seen 
them an5rv\'here. Lambert was with me; and in a week's 
trip, including the journey out and back, we easily shot 
all the antelope we felt we had any right to kill; for we 
only shot to get meat, or an unusually fine head. Lambert 
did most of the shooting; and I have never seen a profes- 
sional hunter do better in stalking antelope on the open 
prairie. I myself fired at only two antelope, both of 
which had already been missed. In each case a hard run 
and much firing at long ranges, together with in one case 
some skilful manoeuvring, got me my game; yet one buck 



1 62 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

cost ten cartridges and the other eight. In 1894 I had ex- 
actly the reverse experience. I killed five antelope for 
thirty-six shots, but each one that I killed was killed with 
the first bullet, and in not one case where I missed the 
first time did I hit with any subsequent shot. These five 
antelope were killed at an average distance of about 150 
yards. Those that I missed were, of course, much farther 
off on an average, and I usually emptied my magazine at 
each. The number of cartridges spent would seem ex- 
traordinary to a tyro; and an unusually skilful shot, or 
else a very timid shot who fears to take risks, will of course 
make a better showing per head killed; but I doubt if 
men with experience in antelope hunting, who keep an 
accurate account of the cartridges they expend, will see 
anything much out of the way in the performance. 

During the years I have hunted in the West I have 
always, where possible, kept a record of the number of 
cartridges expended for every head of game killed, and 
of the distances at which it was shot. I have found that 
with bison, bear, moose, elk, caribou, bighorn and white 
goat, where the animals shot at were mostly of large size 
and usually stationary, and where the mountainous or 
wooded country gave chance for a close approach, the 
average distance at which I have killed the game has been 
eighty yards, and the average number of cartridges ex- 
pended per head slain, three; one of these representing the 
death-shot, and the others standing either for misses out- 
right, of which there were not many, or else for wounding 
game which escaped, or which I afterward overtook, or 
for stopping cripples or charging beasts. I have killed 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 163 

but two peccaries, using but one cartridge for each; they 
were close up. My experiences with cougar have already 
been narrated. At wolves and coyotes I have generally 
had to take running shots at very long range, and I have 
shot but two — one of each — for fifty cartridges. Blacktail 
deer I have generally shot at about ninety yards, at an ex- 
penditure of about four cartridges apiece. Whitetail I 
have killed at shorter range; but the shots were generally 
running, often taken under difficult circumstances, so that 
my expenditure of cartridges was rather larger. Ante- 
lope, on the other hand, I have on the average shot at a lit- 
tle short of 150 yards, and they have cost me about nine 
cartridges apiece. This, of course, as I have explained 
above, does not mean that I have missed eight out of nine 
antelope, for often the entire nine cartridges would be 
spent at an antelope which I eventually got. It merely 
means that, counting all the shots of every description 
fired at antelope, I had one head to show for each nine 
cartridges expended. 

Thus, the first antelope I shot in 1893 ^^^^t me ten 
cartridges, of which three hit him, while the seven that 
missed were fired at over 400 yards' distance while he was 
running. We saw him while we were with the wagon. 
As we had many miles to go before sunset, we cared 
nothing about frightening other game, and, as we had 
no fresh meat, it was worth while to take some chances 
to procure it. When I first fired, the prongbuck had al- 
ready been shot at and was in full flight. He was beyond 
all reasonable range, but some of our bullets went over 
him and he began to turn. By running to one side I got 



1 64 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

a shot at him at a little over 400 paces, as he slowed to 
a walk, bewildered by the firing, and the bullet broke his 
hip. I missed him two or three times as he plunged off, 
and then by hard running down a watercourse got a shot 
at 180 paces and broke his shoulder, and broke his neck 
with another bullet when I came up. 

This one was shot while going out to the hunting- 
ground. While there Lambert killed four others. I did 
not fire again until on our return, when I killed another 
buck one day while we were riding with the wagon. 
The day was gray and overcast. There were slight flur- 
ries of snow, and the cold wind chilled us as it blew across 
the endless reaches of sad-colored prairie. Behind us 
loomed Sentinel Butte, and all around the rolling surface 
was broken by chains of hills, by patches of bad lands, 
or by isolated, saddle-shaped mounds. The ranch wagon 
jolted over the uneven sward, and plunged in and out of 
the dry beds of the occasional water courses; for we were 
following no road, but merely striking northward across 
the prairie toward the P. K. ranch. We went at a good 
pace, for the afternoon was bleak, the wagon was lightly 
loaded, and the Sheriff of the county, whose deputy I had 
been, and who was serving for the nonce as our teamster 
and cook, kept the two gaunt, wild-looking horses trot- 
ting steadily. Lambert and I rode to one side on our 
unkempt cow-ponies, our rifles slung across the saddle 
bows. 

Our stock of fresh meat was getting low and we were 
anxious to shoot something; but in the early hours of the 
afternoon we saw no game. Small parties of horned larks 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 165 

ran along the ground ahead of the wagon, twittering 
plaintively as they rose, and now and then flocks of long- 
spurs flew hither and thither; but of larger life we saw 
nothing, save occasional bands of range horses. The 
drought had been severe and we were far from the river, 
so that we saw no horned stock. Horses can travel much 
farther to water than cattle, and, when the springs dry 
up, they stay much farther out on the prairie. 

At last we did see a band of four antelope, lying in 
the middle of a wide plain, but they saw us before we 
saw them, and the ground was so barren of cover that it 
was impossible to get near them. Moreover, they were 
very shy and ran almost as soon as we got our eyes on 
them. For an hour or two after this we jogged along 
without seeing anything, while the gray clouds piled up 
in the west and the afternoon began to darken ; then, just 
after passing Saddle Butte, we struck a rough prairie 
road, which we knew led to the P. K. ranch — a road very 
faint in places, while in others the wheels had sunk deep 
in the ground and made long, parallel ruts. 

Almost immediately after striking this road, on top- 
ping a small rise, we discovered a young prongbuck 
standing ofif a couple of hundred yards to one side, gazing 
at the wagon with that absorbed curiosity which in this 
game so often conquers its extreme wariness and timidity, 
to a certain extent offsetting the advantage conferred 
upon it by its marvellous vision. The little antelope stood 
broadside on, gazing at us out of its great bulging eyes, 
the sharply contrasted browns and whites of its coat 
showing plainly. Lambert and I leaped off our horses 



1 66 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

immediately, and I knelt and pulled trigger; but the car- 
tridge snapped, and the little buck, wheeling round, can- 
tered off, the white hairs on its rump standing erect. 
There was a strong cross-wind, almost a gale, blowing, 
and Lambert's bullet went just behind him; off he went 
at a canter, which changed to a breakneck gallop, as we 
again fired; and he went out of sight unharmed, over the 
crest of the rising ground in front. We ran after him as 
hard as we could pelt up the hill, into a slight valley, 
and then up another rise, and again got a glimpse of him 
standing, but this time farther off than before; and again 
our shots went wild. 

' However, the antelope changed its racing gallop to 
a canter while still in sight, going slower and slower, and, 
what was rather curious, it did not seem much frightened. 
We were naturally a good deal chagrined at our shooting 
and wished to retrieve ourselves, if possible; so we ran 
back to the wagon, got our horses and rode after the buck. 
He had continued his flight in a straight line, gradually 
slackening his pace, and a mile's brisk gallop enabled us 
to catch a glimpse of him, far ahead and merely walking. 
The wind was bad, and we decided to sweep off and try 
to circle round ahead of him. Accordingly, we dropped 
back, turned into a slight hollow to the right, and gal- 
loped hard until we came to the foot of a series of low 
buttes, when we turned more to the left; and, when we 
judged that we were about across the antelope's line of 
march, leaped from our horses, threw the reins over their 
heads, and left them standing, while we stole up the near- 
est rise ; and, when close to the top, took off our caps and 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 167 

pushed ourselves forward, flat on our faces to peep over. 
We had judged the distance well, for we saw the antelope 
at once, now stopping to graze. Drawing back, we ran 
along some little distance nearer, then drew up over the 
same rise. He was only about 125 yards off, and this 
time there was no excuse for my failing to get him; but 
fail I did, and away the buck raced again, with both of 
us shooting. My first two shots were misses, but I kept 
correcting my aim and holding farther in front of the 
flying beast. My last shot was taken just as the antelope 
reached the edge of the broken country, in which he 
would have been safe; and almost as I pulled the trigger 
I had the satisfaction of seeing him pitch forward and, 
after turning a complete somerset, lie motionless. I 
had broken his neck. He had cost us a good many car- 
tridges, and, though my last shot was well aimed, there 
was doubtless considerable chance in my hitting him, 
while there was no excuse at all for at least one of my 
previous misses. Nevertheless, all old hunters know that 
there is no other kind of shooting in which so many car- 
tridges are expended for every head of game bagged. 

As we knelt down to butcher the antelope, the clouds 
broke and the rain fell. Hastily we took off the saddle 
and hams, and, packing them behind us on our horses, 
loped to the wagon in the teeth of the cold storm. When 
we overtook it, after some sharp riding, we threw in the 
meat, and not very much later, when the day was grow- 
ing dusky, caught sight of the group of low ranch build- 
ings toward which we had been headed. We were re- 
ceived with warm hospitality, as one always is in a ranch 



1 68 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

country. We dried our streaming clothes inside the 
warm ranch house and had a good supper, and that night 
we rolled up in our blankets and tarpaulins, and slept 
soundly in the lee of a big haystack. The ranch house 
stood in the winding bottom of a creek; the flanking hills 
were covered with stunted cedar, while dwarf cotton- 
wood and box elder grew by the pools in the half-dried 
creek bed. 

Next morning we had risen by dawn. The storm was 
over, and it was clear and cold. Before sunrise we had 
started. We were only some thirty miles away from my 
ranch, and I directed the Sheriff how to go there, by strik- 
ing east until he came to the main divide, and then fol- 
lowing that down till he got past a certain big plateau, 
when a turn to the right down any of the coulees would 
bring him into the river bottom near the ranch house. 
We wished ourselves to ride ofif to one side and try to 
pick up another antelope. However, the Sheriff took the 
wrong turn after getting to the divide, and struck the 
river bottom some fifteen miles out of his way, so that 
we reached the ranch a good many hours before he did. 

When we left the wagon we galloped straight across 
country, looking out from the divide across the great roll- 
ing landscape, every feature standing clear through the 
frosty air. Hour after hour we paced and loped on and 
on over the grassy seas in the glorious morning. Once we 
stopped, and I held the horses while Lambert stalked and 
shot a fine prongbuck; then we tied his head and hams 
to our saddles and again pressed forward along the divide. 
We had hoped to get lunch at a spring that I knew of 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 169 

some twelve miles from my ranch, but when we reache4 
it we found it dry and went on without halting. Early 
in the afternoon we came out on the broad, tree-clad bot- 
tom on which the ranch house stands, and, threading our 
way along the cattle trails soon drew up in front of the 
gray empty buildings. 

Just as we were leaving the hunting-grounds on this 
trip, after having killed all the game we felt we had a 
right to kill, we encountered bands of Sioux Indians from 
the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations com- 
ing in to hunt, and I at once felt that the chances for much 
future sport in that particular district were small. Ind- 
ians are not good shots, but they hunt in large numbers, 
killing everything, does, fawns and bucks alike, and they 
follow the wounded animals with the utmost persever- 
ance, so that they cause much destruction of game. 

Accordingly, in 1894, when I started for these same 
grounds, it was with some misgivings ; but I had time only 
to make a few days' hunt, and I knew of no other accessi- 
ble grounds where prongbuck were plentiful. My fore- 
man was with me, and, as usual, we took the ranch wagon, 
driven this time by a cowboy who had just come up 
over the trail with cattle from Colorado. On reaching 
our happy hunting-grounds of the previous season, I 
found my fears sadly verified; and one unforeseen cir- 
cumstance, also told against me. Not only had the Ind- 
ians made a great killing of antelope the season before, 
but in the spring one or two sheep men had moved into 
the country. We found that the big flocks had been mov- 



I/O AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ing from one spring pool to another, eating the pasturage 
bare, while the shepherds whom we met — wild-looking 
men on rough horses, each accompanied by a pair of fur- 
tive sheep dogs — had taken every opportunity to get a 
shot at antelope, so as to provide themselves with fresh 
meat. Two days of fruitless hunting in this sheep-ridden 
region was sufficient to show that the antelope were too 
scarce and shy to give us hope for sport, and we shifted 
quarters, a long day's journey, to the head of another 
creek; and we had to go to yet another before we found 
much game. As so often happens on such a trip, when 
we started to have bad luck we had plenty. One night 
two of the three saddle horses stampeded and went 
straight as the crow flies back to the home range, so that 
we did not get them until on our return from the trip. 
On another occasion the team succeeded in breaking the 
wagon pole; and as there was an entire absence of wood 
where we were at the time, we had to make a splice for 
it with the two tent poles and the picket ropes. Never- 
theless, it was very enjoyable out on the great grassy 
plains. Although we had a tent with us, I always slept 
in the open in my buffalo bag, with the tarpaulin to pull 
over me if it rained. On each night before going to sleep, 
I lay for many minutes gazing at the stars above, or 
watching the rising of the red moon, which was just at 
or past the full. 

We had plenty of fresh meat — prairie fowl and young 
sage fowl at first, and antelope venison afterward. We 
camped by little pools, generally getting fair water; and 
from the camps where there was plenty of wood we took 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 



171 



enough to build the fires at those where there was none. 
The nights were frosty, and the days cool and pleasant, 
and from sunrise to sunset we were ofif riding or walking 
among the low hills and over the uplands, so that we slept 
well and ate well, and felt the beat of hardy life in our 
veins. 

Much of the time we were on a high divide between 
two creek systems, from which we could see the great 
landmarks of all the regions roundabout. Sentinel Butte, 
Square Butte and Middle Butte, far to the north and 
east of us. Nothing could be more lonely and nothing 
more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the 
prairies to these huge hill masses, when the lengthening 
shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after- 
glow of the red sunset filled the west. The endless waves 
of rolling prairie, sweeping, vast and dim, to the feet of 
the great hills, grew purple as the evening darkened, and 
the buttes loomed into vague, mysterious beauty as their 
sharp outlines softened in the twilight. 

Even when we got out of reach of the sheep men we 
never found antelope very plentiful, and they were shy, 
and the country was flat, so that the stalking was ex- 
tremely difficult; yet I had pretty good sport. The first 
animal I killed was a doe, shot for meat, because I had 
twice failed to get bucks at which I emptied my maga- 
zine at long range, and we were all feeling hungry for 
venison. After that I killed nothing but bucks. Of the 
five antelope killed, one I got by a headlong gallop to 
cut off his line of flight. As sometimes happens with this 
queer, erratic animal, when the buck saw that I was 



172 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

trying to cut off his flight he simply raced ahead just 
as hard as he knew how, and, as my pony was not fast, 
he got to the little pass for which he was headed 200 yards 
ahead of me. I then jumped off, and his curiosity made 
him commit the fatal mistake of halting for a moment to 
look round at me. He was standing end on, and offered 
a very small mark at 200 yards; but I made a good line 
shot, and, though I held a trifle too high, I hit him in 
the head, and down he came. Another buck I shot from 
under the wagon early one morning as he was passing 
just beyond the picketed horses. I have several times 
shot antelope which unexpectedly came into camp in this 
fashion. The other three I got after much manoeuvring 
and long, tedious stalks. 

In some of the stalks, after infinite labor, and perhaps 
after crawling on all-fours for an hour, or pulling my- 
self flat on my face among some small sage-brush for ten 
or fifteen minutes, the game took alarm and went off. 
Too often, also, when I finally did get a shot, it was under 
such circumstances that I missed. Sometimes the game 
was too far; sometimes it had taken alarm and was 
already in motion; sometimes the trouble could only be 
ascribed to lack of straight powder, and I was covered 
with shame as with a garment. Once in the afternoon 
I had to spend so much time waiting for the antelope to 
get into a favorable place that, when I got up close, I 
found the light already so bad that my front sight glim- 
mered indistinctly, and the bullet went wild. Another 
time I met with one of those misadventures which are 
especially irritating. It was at midday, and I made out 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 173 

at a long distance a band of antelope lying for their noon 
rest in a slight hollow. A careful stalk brought me up 
within fifty yards of them. I was crawling flat on my 
face, for the crest of the hillock sloped so gently that 
this was the only way to get near them. At last, peering 
through the grass, I saw the head of a doe. In a mo- 
ment she saw me and jumped to her feet, and up stood 
the whole band, including the buck. I immediately tried 
to draw a bead on the latter, and to my horror found that, 
lying flat as I was, and leaning on my elbows, I could not 
bring the rifle above the tall shaking grass, and was ut- 
terly unable to get a sight. In another second away tore 
all the antelope. I jumped to my feet, took a snap shot 
at the buck as he raced round a low-cut bank and missed, 
and then walked drearily home, chewing the cud of my 
ill-luck. Yet again in more than one instance, after mak- 
ing a good stalk upon a band seen at some distance, I 
found it contained only does and fawns, and would not 
shoot at them. 

Three times, however, the stalk was successful. 
Twice I was out alone; the other time my foreman was 
with me, and held my horse while I manoeuvred hither 
and thither, and finally succeeded in getting into range. 
In both the first instances I got a standing shot, but on 
this last occasion, when my foreman was with me, two of 
the watchful does which were in the band saw me before 
I could get a shot at the old buck. I was creeping up 
a low washout, and, by ducking hastily down again and 
running back and up a side coulee, I managed to get 
within long range of the band as they cantered off, not 



174 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

yet thoroughly alarmed. The buck was behind, and I 
held just ahead of him. He plunged to the shot, but 
went off over the hill-crest. When I had panted up to 
the ridge I found him dead just beyond. 

One of the antelope I killed while I was out on foot 
toward nightfall, a couple of miles from the wagon. I 
saw the prongbuck quite half a mile off, and though I 
dropped at once I was uncertain whether he had seen 
me. He was in a little hollow or valley. A long, smooth- 
ly sloping plateau led up to one edge of it. Across this 
plateau I crawled, and when I thought I was near the 
run I ventured slowly to look up, and almost immediately 
saw vaguely through the tops of the long grasses what I 
took to be the head and horns of the buck, looking in 
my direction. There was no use in going back, and I 
dropped flat on my face again and crawled another hun- 
dred yards, until it was evident that I was on the rise 
from which the plateau sank into the shallow valley be- 
yond. Raising my head inch by inch, I caught sight of 
the object toward which I had been crawling, and after 
a moment's hesitation recognized it as a dead sunflower, 
the stalks and blossoms so arranged as to be in a V shape. 
Completely puzzled, I started to sit up, when by sheer 
good luck I caught sight of the real prongbuck, still feed- 
ing, some three hundred yards off, and evidently unaware 
of my presence. It was feeding toward a slight hill to 
my left. I crept off until behind this, and then walked 
up until I was in line with a big bunch of weeds on its 
shoulder. Crawling on all-fours to the weeds, I peeped 
through and saw the prongbuck still slowly feeding my 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 175 

way. When he was but seventy yards off, I sat up and 
shot him; and trudged back to the wagon, carrying the 
saddle and hams. 

In packing an antelope or deer behind the saddle, I 
cut slashes through the sinews of the legs just above the 
joints; then I put the buck behind the saddle, run the 
picket rope from the horn of the saddle, under the belly 
of the horse, through the slashes in the legs on the other 
side, bring the end back, swaying well down on it, and 
fasten it to the horn ; then I repeat the same feat for the 
other side. Packed in this way, the carcass always rides 
steady, and cannot shake loose, no matter what antics the 
horse may perform. 

In the fall of 1896 I spent a fortnight on the range 
with the ranch wagon. I was using for the first time one 
of the new small-calibre, smokeless-powder rifles, with 
the usual soft-nosed bullet. While travelling to and fro 
across the range we usually moved camp each day, not 
putting up the tent at all during the trip ; but at one 
spot we spent three nights. It was in a creek bottom, 
bounded on either side by rows of grassy hills, beyond 
which stretched the rolling prairie. The creek bed, 
which at this season was of course dry in most places, 
wound in S-shaped curves, with here and there a pool 
and here and there a fringe of stunted wind-beaten tim- 
ber. We were camped near a little grove of ash, box- 
elder, and willow, which gave us shade at noonday; and 
there were two or three pools of good water in the creek 
bed — one so deep that I made it my swimming-bath. 



176 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

The first day that I was able to make a hunt I rode 
out with my foreman, Sylvane Ferris. I was mounted 
on Muley. Twelve years before, when Muley was my 
favorite cutting pony on the round-up, he never seemed 
to tire or lose his dash, but Muley was now sixteen years 
old, and on ordinary occasions he liked to go as soberly 
as possible; yet the good old pony still had the fire latent 
in his blood, and at the sight of game — or, indeed, of 
cattle or horses — he seemed to regain for the time being 
all the headlong courage of his vigorous and supple 
youth. 

On the morning in question it was two or three hours 
before Sylvane and I saw any game. Our two ponies 
went steadily forward at a single-foot or shack, as the 
cow-punchers term what Easterners call a " fox trot." 
Most of the time we were passing over immense grassy 
flats, where the mat of short curled blades lay brown 
and parched under the bright sunlight. Occasionally we 
came to ranges of low barren hills, which sent off gently 
rounded spurs into the plain. 

It was on one of these ranges that we first saw our 
game. As we were travelling along the divide we spied 
eight antelope far ahead of us. They saw us as soon 
as we saw them, and the chance of getting to them seemed 
small; but it was worth an effort, for by humoring them 
when they started, so as to let them wheel and zigzag be- 
fore they became really frightened, and then, when they 
had settled into their run, by galloping toward them at 
an angle oblique to their line of flight, there was always 
some little chance of getting a shot. Sylvane was on a 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 177 

light buckskin horse, and I left him on the ridge crest to 
occupy their attention while I cantered off to one side. 
The pronghorns became uneasy as I galloped away, and 
ran off the ridge crest in a line nearly parallel to mine. 
They did not go very fast, and I held in Muley, who 
was all on fire at the sight of the game. After crossing 
two or three spurs, the antelope going at half speed, they 
found I had come closer to them, and turning, they ran 
up one of the valleys between two spurs. Now was my 
chance, and wheeling at right angles to my former course, 
I galloped Muley as hard as I knew how up the valley 
nearest and parallel to where the antelope had gone. The 
good old fellow ran like a quarter-horse, and when we 
were almost at the main ridge crest I leaped off, and ran 
ahead with my rifle at the ready, crouching down as I 
came to the sky-line. Usually on such occasions I find 
that the antelope have gone on, and merely catch a 
glimpse of them half a mile distant, but on this occasion 
everything went right. The band had just reached the 
ridge crest about 220 yards from me across the head of 
the valley, and had halted for a moment to look around. 
They were starting as I raised my rifle, but the trajectory 
is very flat with these small-bore smokeless-powder weap- 
ons, and taking a coarse front sight I fired at a young 
buck which was broadside to me. There was no smoke, 
and as the band raced away I saw him sink backward, the 
ball having broken his hips. 

We packed him bodily behind Sylvane on the buck- 
skin and continued our ride, as there was no fresh meat 
in camp, and we wished to bring in a couple of bucks 



178 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

if possible. For two or three hours we saw nothing. The 
unshod feet of the horses made hardly any noise on the 
stretches of sun-cured grass, but now and then we passed 
through patches of thin weeds, their dry stalks rattling 
curiously, making a sound like that of a rattlesnake. At 
last, coming over a gentle rise of ground, we spied two 
more prongbucks, half a mile ahead of us and to our 
right. 

Again there seemed small chance of bagging our 
quarry, but again fortune favored us. I at once can- 
tered Muley ahead, not toward them, but so as to pass 
them well on one side. After some hesitation they 
started, not straight away, but at an angle to my own 
course. For some moments I kept at a hand gallop, until 
they got thoroughly settled in their line of flight; then 
I touched Muley, and he went as hard as he knew how. 
Immediately the two panic-stricken and foolish beasts 
seemed to feel that I was cutting ofif their line of retreat, 
and raced forward at mad speed. They went much faster 
than I did, but I had the shorter course, and when they 
crossed me they were not fifty yards ahead — by which 
time I had come nearly a mile. At the pull of the rein 
Muley stopped short, like the trained cow-pony he is; 
I leaped off, and held well ahead of the rearmost and 
largest buck. At the crack of the little rifle down he went 
with his neck broken. In a minute or two he was packed 
behind me on Muley, and we bent our steps toward 
camp. 

During the remainder of my trip we were never out 
of fresh meat, for I shot three other bucks — one after a 



HUNTING IN CATTLE COUNTRY 179 

smart chase on horseback, and the other two after careful 
stalks; and I missed two running shots. 

The game being both scarce and shy, I had to exer- 
cise much care, and after sighting a band I would some- 
times have to wait and crawl round for two or three hours 
before they would get into a position where I had any 
chance of approaching. Even then they were more apt 
to see me and go off than I was to get near them. 

Antelope are the only game that can be hunted as 
well at noonday as in the morning or evening, for their 
times for sleeping and feeding are irregular. They never 
seek shelter from the sun, and when they lie down for a 
noonday nap they are apt to choose a hollow, so as to be 
out of the wind ; in consequence, if the band is seen at all 
at this time, it is easier to approach them than when they 
are up and feeding. They sometimes come down to water 
in the middle of the day, sometimes in the morning or 
evening. On this trip I came across bands feeding and 
resting at almost every hour of the day. They seemed 
usually to rest for a couple of hours, then began feeding 
again. 

The last shot I got was when I was out with Joe Fer- 
ris, in whose company I had killed my first buffalo, just 
thirteen years before, and not very far from this same 
spot. We had seen two or three bands that morning, 
and in each case, after a couple of hours of useless effort, 
I failed to get near enough. At last, toward midday, 
after riding and tramping over a vast extent of broken 
sun-scorched country, we got within range of a small 
band lying down in a little cup-shaped hollow in the 



i8o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

middle of a great flat. I did not have a close shot, for 
they were running about i8o yards off. The buck was 
rearmost, and at him I aimed ; the bullet struck him in the 
flank, coming out of the opposite shoulder, and he fell 
in his next bound. As we stood over him, Joe shook 
his head, and said, " I guess that little rifle is the ace; " 
and I told him I guessed so too. 



CHAPTER V 

A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 

In the fall of 1893 I was camped on the Little Mis- 
souri, some ten miles below my ranch. The bottoms were 
broad and grassy, and were walled in by curving rows of 
high, steep bluf^fs. Back of them lay a mass of broken 
country, in many places almost impassable for horses. 
The wagon was drawn up on the edge of the fringe of 
tall cottonwoods which stretched along the brink of the 
shrunken river. The weather had grown cold, and at 
night the frost gathered thickly on our sleeping-bags. 
Great flocks of sandhill cranes passed overhead from time 
to time, the air resounding with their strange, musical, 
guttural clangor. 

For several days we had hunted perseveringly, but 
without success, through the broken country. We had 
come across tracks of mountain sheep, but not the animals 
themselves, and the few blacktail which we had seen had 
seen us first and escaped before we could get within shot. 
The only thing killed had been a young whitetail, which 
Lambert, who was with me, had knocked over by a very 
pretty shot as we were riding through a long, heavily- 
timbered bottom. Four men in stalwart health and tak- 
ing much out-door exercise have large appetites, and the 

flesh of the whitetail was almost gone. 

181 



1 82 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

One evening Lambert and I hunted nearly to the head 
of one of the creeks which opened close to our camp, and, 
in turning to descend what we thought was one of the 
side coulees leading into it, we contrived to get over the 
divide into the coulees of an entirely different creek sys- 
tem, and did not discover our error until it was too late 
to remedy it. We struck the river about nightfall, and 
were not quite sure where, and had six miles' tramp in 
the dark along the sandy river bed and through the dense 
timber bottoms, wading the stream a dozen times before 
we finally struck camp, tired and hungry, and able to ap- 
preciate to the full the stew of hot venison and potatoes, 
and afterward the comfort of our buffalo and caribou 
hide sleeping-bags. The next morning the Sheriff's re- 
mark of " Look alive, you fellows, if you want any break- 
fast," awoke the other members of the party shortly after 
dawn. It was bitterly cold as we scrambled out of our 
bedding, and, after a hasty wash, huddled around the fire, 
where the venison was sizzling and the coffee-pot boiling, 
while the bread was kept warm in the Dutch oven. 
About a third of a mile away to the west the bluffs, which 
rose abruptly from the river bottom, were crowned by 
a high plateau, where the grass was so good that over- 
night the horses had been led up and picketed on it, and 
the man who had led them up had stated the previous 
evening that he had seen what he took to be fresh foot- 
prints of a mountain sheep crossing the surface of a bluflf 
fronting our camp. From the footprints it appeared that 
the animal had been there since the camp was pitched. 
The face of the blufif on this side was very sheer, the path 



A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 183 

by which the horses scrambled to the top being around 
a shoulder and out of sight of camp. 

While sitting close around the fire finishing break- 
fast, and just as the first level sunbeams struck the top 
of the plateau, we saw on this cliff crest something mov- 
ing, and at first supposed it to be one of the horses which 
had broken loose from its picket pin. Soon the thing, 
whatever it was, raised its head, and we were all on our 
feet in a moment, exclaiming that it was a deer or a 
sheep. It was feeding in plain sight of us only about a 
third of a mile distant, and the horses, as I afterward 
found, were but a few rods beyond it on the plateau. The 
instant I realized that it was game of some kind I seized 
my rifle, buckled on my cartridge-belt, and slunk off tow- 
ard the river bed. As soon as I was under the protection 
of the line of cottonwoods, I trotted briskly toward the 
cliff, and when I got up to where it impinged on the 
river I ran a little to the left, and, selecting what I deemed 
to be a favorable place, began to make the ascent. The 
animal was on a grassy bench, some eight or ten feet be- 
low the crest, when I last saw it; but it was evidently 
moving hither and thither, sometimes on this bench and 
sometimes on the crest itself, cropping the short grass 
and browsing on the young shrubs. The cliff was divided 
by several shoulders or ridges, there being hollows like 
vertical gullies between them, and up one of these I 
scrambled, using the utmost caution not to dislodge earth 
or stones. Finally I reached the bench just below the sky- 
line, and then, turning to the left, wriggled cautiously 
along it, hat in hand. The cliff was so steep and bulged 



1 84 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

so in the middle, and, moreover, the shoulders or project- 
ing ridges in the surface spoken of above were so pro- 
nounced, that I knew^ it w^as out of the question for the 
animal to have seen me, but I was afraid it might have 
heard me. The air was absolutely still, and so I had no 
fear of its sharp nose. Twice in succession I peered with 
the utmost caution around shoulders of the cliff, merely 
to see nothing beyond save another shoulder some forty 
or fifty yards distant. Then I crept up to the edge and 
looked over the level plateau. Nothing was in sight ex- 
cepting the horses, and these were close up to me, and, of 
course, they all raised their heads to look. I nervously 
turned half round, sure that if the animal, whatever it 
was, was in sight, it would promptly take the alarm. 
However, by good luck, it appeared that at this time it 
was below the crest on the terrace or bench already men- 
tioned, and, on creeping to the next shoulder, I at last 
saw it — a yearling mountain sheep — walking slowly away 
from me, and evidently utterly unsuspicious of any dan- 
ger. I straightened up, bringing my rifle to my shoulder, 
and as it wheeled I fired, and the sheep made two or three 
blind jumps in my direction. So close was I to the camp, 
and so still was the cold morning, that I distinctly heard 
one of the three men, who had remained clustered about 
the fire eagerly watching my movements, call, " By 
George, he's missed! I saw the bullet strike the clifif." 
I had fired behind the shoulders, and the bullet, going 
through, had buried itself in the bluff beyond. The 
wound was almost instantaneously fatal, and the sheep, 
after striving in vain to keep its balance, fell heels over 



A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 185 

head down a crevice, where it jammed. I descended, 
released the carcass, and pitched it on ahead of me, only 
to have it jam again near the foot of the clifif. Before 
I got it loose I was joined by my three companions, who 
had been running headlong toward me through the brush 
ever since the time they had seen the animal fall. 

I never obtained another sheep under circumstances 
which seemed to me quite so remarkable as these; for 
sheep are, on the whole, the wariest of game. Neverthe- 
less, with all game there is an immense amount of chance 
in the chase, and it is perhaps not wholly uncharacteristic 
of a hunter's luck that, after having hunted faithfully in 
vain and with much hard labor for several days through 
a good sheep country, we should at last have obtained 
one within sight and earshot of camp. Incidentally I 
may mention that I have never tasted better mutton, or 
meat of any kind, than that furnished by this tender 
yearling. 

The nomenclature and exact specific relationships of 
American sheep, deer and antelope offer difficulties not 
only to the hunter but to the naturalist. As regards the 
nomenclature, we share the trouble encountered by all 
peoples of European descent who have gone into strange 
lands. The incomers are almost invariably men who are 
not accustomed to scientific precision of expression. Like 
other people, they do not like to invent names if they 
can by any possibility make use of those already in ex- 
istence, and so in a large number of cases they call the 
new birds and animals by names applied to entirely dif- 
ferent birds and animals of the Old World to which, in 



1 86 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the eyes of the settlers, they bear some resemblance. In 
South America the Spaniards, for instance, christened 
"lion" and "tiger" the great cats which are properly 
known as cougar and jaguar. In South Africa the Dutch 
settlers, who came from a land where all big game had 
long been exterminated, gave fairly grotesque names to 
the great antelopes, calling them after the European elk, 
stag, and chamois. The French did but little better in 
Canada. Even in Ceylon the English, although belong- 
ing for the most part to the educated classes, did no better 
than the ordinary pioneer settlers, miscalling the sambur 
stag an elk, and the leopard a cheetah. Our own pioneers 
behaved in the same way. Hence it is that we have no 
distinctive name at all for the group of peculiarly Ameri- 
can game birds of which the bobwhite is the typical rep- 
resentative; and that, when we could not use the words 
quail, partridge, or pheasant, we went for our termi- 
nology to the barn-yard, and called our fine grouse, fool- 
hens, sage-hens, and prairie-chickens. The bear and wolf 
our people recognized at once. The bison they called a 
buffalo, which was no worse than the way in which in 
Europe the Old World bison was called an aurochs. 
The American true elk and reindeer were rechristened 
moose and caribou — excellent names, by the way, de- 
rived from the Indian. The huge stag was called an elk. 
The extraordinary antelope of the high Western peaks 
was christened the white goat; not unnaturally, as it has 
a most goatlike look. The prongbuck of the plains, an 
animal standing entirely alone among ruminants, was 
simply called antelope. Even when we invented names 



A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 187 

for ourselves, we applied them loosely. The ordinary 
deer is sometimes known as the red deer, sometimes as 
the Virginia deer, and sometimes as the whitetail deer — 
the last being by far the best and most distinctive term. 

In the present condition of zoological research it is 
not possible to state accurately how many *' species " of 
deer and sheep there are in North America, both because 
mammalogists have not at hand a sufficient amount of 
material in the way of large series of specimens from dif- 
ferent localities, and because they are not agreed among 
themselves as to the value of " species," or indeed as to 
exactly what is denoted by the term. Of course, if we 
had a complete series of specimens of extinct and fossil 
deer before us, there would be a perfect intergradation 
among all the existing forms through their long-vanished 
ancestral types, as the existing gaps have been created by 
the extinction and transformation of those former types. 
Where the gap is very broad and well marked no dif- 
ficulty exists in using terms which shall express the dif- 
ference. Thus the gap separating the moose, the caribou, 
and the wapiti from one another, and from the smaller 
American deer, is so wide, and there is so complete a lack 
of transitional forms, that the differences among them are 
expressed by naturalists by the use of different generic 
terms. The gap between the whitetail and the different 
forms of blacktail, though much less, is also clearly 
marked. But when we come to consider the blacktail 
among themselves, we find two very distinct types which 
yet show a certain tendency to intergrade; and with the 
whitetail very wide differences exist, even in the United 



i88 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

States, both individually among the deer of certain locali- 
ties, and also as between all the deer of one locality when 
compared with all the deer of another. Our present 
knowledge of the various forms hardly justifies us in dog- 
matizing as to their exact relative worth; and even if our 
knowledge was more complete, naturalists are as yet 
wholly at variance as to the laws which should govern 
specific nomenclature. However, the hunter, the mere 
field naturalist, and the lover of out-door life, are only 
secondarily interested in the niceness of these distinc- 
tions. 

In addition to being a true sportsman and not a game 
butcher, in addition to being a humane man as well as 
keen-eyed, strong-limbed, and stout-hearted, the big 
game hunter should be a field naturalist. If possible, 
he should be an adept with the camera; and hunting with 
the camera will tax his skill far more than hunting with 
the rifle, while the results in the long run give much 
greater satisfaction. Wherever possible he should keep 
a note-book, and should carefully study and record the 
habits of the wild creatures, especially when in some 
remote regions to which trained scientific observers but 
rarely have access. If we could only produce a hunter 
who would do for American big game what John Bur- 
roughs has done for the smaller wild life of hedgerow 
and orchard, farm and garden and grove, we should in- 
deed be fortunate. Yet even though a man does not 
possess the literary faculty and the powers of trained 
observation necessary for such a task, he can do his part 
toward adding to our information by keeping careful 



A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 189 

notes of all the important facts which he comes across. 
Such note-books would show the changed habits of game 
with the changed seasons, their abundance at different 
times and dififerent places, the melancholy data of their 
disappearance, the pleasanter facts as to their change 
of habits which enable them to continue to exist in the 
land, and, in short, all their traits. A real and lasting 
service would thereby be rendered not only to naturalists, 
but to all who care for nature. 

Along the Little Missouri there have been several 
curious changes in the fauna within my own knowledge. 
Thus magpies have greatly decreased in numbers. This 
is, I believe, owing to the wolf hunters, for magpies often 
come around carcasses and pick up poisoned baits. I 
have seen as many as seven lying dead around a bait. 
They are much less plentiful than they formerly were. 
In 1894 I was rather surprised at meeting a porcupine, 
usually a beast of the timber, at least twenty miles from 
trees. He was grubbing after sage-brush roots on the edge 
of a cut bank by a half-dried creek. I was stalking an 
antelope at the time, and stopped to watch him for about 
five minutes. He paid no heed to me, though I was 
within three or four paces of him. Porcupines are easily 
exterminated; and they have diminished in numbers in 
this neighborhood. Both the lucivee, or northern lynx, 
and the wolverene have been found on the Little Mis- 
souri, near the Kildeer Mountains, but I do not know 
of a specimen of either that has been killed there for 
some years past. Bobcats are still not uncommon. The 
blackfooted ferret was always rare, and is rare now. But 



190 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



few beaver are left; they were very abundant in 1880, 
but were speedily trapped out when the Indians vanished 
and the Northern Pacific Railroad was built. While 
this railroad was building, the beaver frequently caused 
much trouble by industriously damming the culverts. 

With us the first animal to disappear was the buffalo. 
In the old days, say from 1870 to 1880, the buffalo were 
probably the most abundant of all animals along the Lit- 
tle Missouri in the region that I know, ranging, say, from 
Pretty Buttes to. the Kildeer Mountains. They were mi- 
gratory, and at times almost all of them might leave; but, 
on the whole, they were the most abundant of the game 
animals. In 1881 they were still almost as numerous as 
ever. In 1883 all were killed but a few stragglers, and 
the last of these stragglers that I heard of as seen in our 
immediate neighborhood was in 1885. The second game 
animal in point of abundance was the blacktail. It did not 
go out on the prairies, but in the broken country adjoining 
the river it was far more plentiful than any other kind of 
game. Blacktail were not much slaughtered until the 
buffalo began to give out, say in 1882; but by 1896 they 
were not a twentieth — probably not a fiftieth — as plenti- 
ful as they had been in 1882. A few are still found in 
out-of-the-way places, where the ground is very rough. 
Elk were plentiful in 1880, though never anything like 
as abundant as the buffalo and the blacktail. Only strag- 
gling parties or individuals have been seen since 1883. 
The last I shot near my ranch was in 1886; but two or 
three have been shot since, and a cow and calf were seen, 
chased and almost roped by the riders on the round-up 



A SHOT AT A MOUNTAIN SHEEP 191 

in the fall of 1892. Whitetail were never as numer- 
ous as the other game, but they held their own better, 
and a few can be shot yet. In 1883 probably twenty 
blacktail were killed for every one whitetail; in 1896 
the numbers were about equal. Antelope were plenti- 
ful in the old days, though not nearly so much so as the 
buffalo and blacktail. The hunters did not molest them 
while the buffalo and elk lasted, and they then turned 
their attention to the blacktail. For some years after 
1883 I think the pronghorn in our neighborhood posi- 
tively increased in numbers. In 1886 I thought them 
more plentiful than I had ever known them before. 
Then they decreased; after 1893 ^^^ decrease was rapid. 
A few still remain. Mountain sheep were never very 
plentiful, and decreased proportionately with less rapid- 
ity than any other game; but they are now almost exter- 
minated. Bears likewise were never plentiful, and cou- 
gars were always scarce. 

There were two stages of hunting in this country, as 
in almost all other countries similarly situated. In 1880 
the Northern Pacific Railroad was built nearly to the 
edge of the Bad Lands, and the danger of Indian war 
was totally eliminated. A great inrush of hunters fol- 
lowed. In 1881, 1882 and 1883 buffalo, elk and black- 
tail were slaughtered in enormous numbers, and a good 
many whitetail and prongbuck were killed too. By 1884 
the game had been so thinned out that hide-hunting and 
meat-hunting ceased to pay. A few professional hunt- 
ers remained, but most of them moved elsewhere, or 
were obliged to go into other business. From that time 



192 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the hunting has chiefly been done by ranchers and occa- 
sional small grangers. In consequence, for six or eight 
years the game about held its own — the antelope, as I 
have said above, at one time increasing; but the gradual 
growth in the number of actual settlers then began to tell, 
and the game became scarce. Nowadays settlers along 
the Little Missouri can kill an occasional deer or ante- 
lope; but it can hardly be called a game country. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE WHITETAIL DEER 

The whitetail deer is now, as it always has been, the 
most plentiful and most widely distributed of American 
big game. It holds its own in the land better than any 
other species, because it is by choice a dweller in the 
thick forests and swamps, the places around which the 
tide of civilization flows, leaving them as islets of refuge 
for the wild creatures which formerly haunted all the 
country. The range of the whitetail is from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific, and from the Canadian to the Mexican 
borders, and somewhat to the north and far to the south 
of these limits. The animal shows a wide variability, 
both individually and locally, within these confines; from 
the hunter's standpoint it is not necessary to try to deter- 
mine exactly the weight that attaches to these local varia- 
tions. 

There is also a very considerable variation in habits. 
As compared with the mule-deer, the whitetail is not 
a lover of the mountains. As compared with the prong- 
buck, it is not a lover of the treeless plains. Yet in the 
Alleghanies and the Adirondacks, at certain seasons espe- 
cially, and in some places at all seasons, it dwells high 
among the densely wooded mountains, wandering over 
their crests and sheer sides, and through the deep ravines; 

193 



194 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

while in the old days there were parts of Texas and the 
Indian Territory where it was found in great herds far 
out on the prairie. Moreover, the peculiar nature of its 
chosen habitat, while generally enabling it to resist the 
onslaught of man longer than any of its fellows, some- 
times exposes it to speedy extermination. To the west- 
ward of the rich bottom-lands and low prairies of the 
Mississippi Valley proper, when the dry plains country 
is reached, the natural conditions are much less favorable 
for whitetail than for other big game. The black bear, 
which in the East has almost precisely the same habitat 
as the whitetail, disappears entirely on the great plains, 
and reappears in the Rockies in regions which the white- 
tail does not reach. All over the great plains, into the 
foothills of the Rockies, the whitetail is found, but only 
in the thick timber of the river bottoms. Throughout 
the regions of the Upper Missouri and Upper Platte, the 
Big Horn, Powder, Yellowstone, and Cheyenne, over all 
of which I have hunted, the whitetail lives among the 
Cottonwood groves and dense brush growth that fringe 
the river beds and here and there extend some distance 
up the mouths of the large creeks. In these places the 
whitetail and the mule-deer may exist in close proximity; 
but normally neither invades the haunts of the other. 

Along the ordinary plains river, such as the Little 
Missouri, where I ranched for many years, there are 
three entirely different types of country through which 
a man passes as he travels away from the bed of the river. 
There is first the alluvial river bottom covered with 
Cottonwood and box-elder, together with thick brush. 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 



195 



These bottoms may be a mile or two across, or they may 
shrink to but a few score yards. After the extermination 
of the wapiti, which roamed everywhere, the only big 
game animal found in them was the whitetail deer. 
Beyond this level alluvial bottom the ground changes 
abruptly to bare, rugged hills or fantastically carved and 
shaped Bad Lands rising on either side of the river, the 
ravines, coulees, creeks, and canyons twisting through 
them in every direction. Here there are patches of ash, 
cedar, pine, and occasionally other trees, but the country 
is very rugged, and the cover very scanty. This is the 
home of the mule-deer, and, in the roughest and wildest 
parts, of the bighorn. The absolutely clear and sharply 
defined line of demarkation between this rough, hilly 
country, flanking the river, and the alluvial river bottom, 
serves as an equally clearly marked line of demarkation 
between the ranges of the whitetail and the mule-deer. 
This belt of broken country may be only a few hundred 
yards in width; or it may extend for a score of miles 
before it changes into the open prairies, the high plains 
proper. As soon as these are reached, the prongbuck's 
domain begins. 

As the plains country is passed, and the vast stretches 
of mountainous region entered, the river bottoms become 
narrower, and the plains on which the prongbuck is found 
become of very limited extent, shrinking to high valleys 
and plateaus, while the mass of rugged foothills and 
mountains add immensely to the area of the mule-deer's 
habitat. 

Given equal areas of country, of the three different 



196 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

types alluded to above, that in which the mule-deer is 
found offers the greatest chance of success to the rifle- 
bearing hunter, because there is enough cover to shield 
him and not enough to allow his quarry to escape by 
stealth and hiding. On the other hand, the thick river 
bottoms offer him the greatest difficulty. In consequence, 
where the areas of distribution of the different game ani- 
mals are about equal, the mule-deer disappears first be- 
fore the hunter, the prongbuck next, while the whitetail 
holds out the best of all. I saw this frequently on the Yel- 
lowstone, the Powder, and the Little Missouri. When 
the ranchmen first came into this country the mule-deer 
swarmed, and yielded a far more certain harvest to the 
hunter than did either the prongbuck or the whitetail. 
They were the first to be thinned out, the prongbuck last- 
ing much better. The cowboys and small ranchmen, 
most of whom did not at the time have hounds, then 
followed the prongbuck; and this, in its turn, was killed 
out before the whitetail. But in other places a slight 
change in the conditions completely reversed the order 
of destruction. In parts of Wyoming and Montana the 
mountainous region where the mule-deer dwelt was of 
such vast extent, and the few river bottoms on which the 
whitetail were found were so easily hunted, that the 
whitetail was completely exterminated throughout large 
districts where the mule-deer continued to abound. 
Moreover, in these regions the table-lands and plains 
upon which the prongbuck was found were limited in 
extent, and although the prongbuck outlasted the white- 
tail, it vanished long before the herds of the mule-deer 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 197 

had been destroyed from among the neighboring moun- 
tains. 

The whitetail was originally far less common in the 
forests of northern New England than was the moose, 
for in the deep snows the moose had a much better chance 
to escape from its brute foes and to withstand cold and 
starvation. But when man appeared upon the scene he 
followed the moose so much more eagerly than he fol- 
lowed the deer that the conditions were reversed and the 
moose was killed out. The moose thus vanished entirely 
from the Adirondacks, and almost entirely from Maine; 
but the excellent game laws of the latter State, and the 
honesty and efficiency with which they have been exe- 
cuted during the last twenty years, have resulted in an 
increase of moose during that time. During the same 
period the whitetail deer has increased to an even greater 
extent. It is doubtless now more plentiful in New York 
and New England than it was a quarter of a century 
ago. Stragglers are found in Connecticut, and, what is 
still more extraordinary, even occasionally come into 
wild parts of densely populated little Rhode Island — my 
authority for the last statement being Mr. C. Grant 
La Farge. Of all our wild game, the whitetail responds 
most quickly to the efforts for its protection, and except 
the wapiti, it thrives best in semi-domestication; in con- 
sequence, it has proved easy to preserve it, even in such 
places as Cape Cod in Massachusetts and Long Island 
in New York; while it has increased greatly in Vermont, 
New Hampshire, and Maine, and has more than held 
its own in the Adirondacks. Mr. James R. Sheffield, 



198 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

of New York City, in the summer of 1899, spent several 
weeks on a fishing trip through northern Maine. He 
kept count of the moose and deer he saw, and came 
across no less than thirty- five of the former and over five 
hundred and sixty of the latter. In the most lonely parts 
of the forest deer were found by the score, feeding in 
broad daylight on the edges of the ponds. Deer are still 
plentiful in many parts of the Alleghany Mountains, 
from Pennsylvania southward, and also in the swamps 
and canebrakes of the South Atlantic and Gulf States. 
Where the differences in habitat and climate are so 
great there are many changes of habits, and some of them 
of a noteworthy kind. Mr. John A. Mcllhenny, of 
Avery's Island, Louisiana, formerly a lieutenant in my 
regiment, lives in what is still a fine game country. His 
plantation is in the delta of the Mississippi, among the 
vast marshes, north of which lie the wooded swamps. 
Both the marshes and the swamps were formerly literally 
thronged with whitetail deer, and the animals are still 
plentiful in them. Mr. Mcllhenny has done much deer- 
hunting, always using hounds. He informs me that the 
breeding times are unexpectedly different from those of 
the northern deer. In the North, in different localities, 
the rut takes place in October or November, and the 
fawns are dropped in May or June. In the Louisiana 
marshes around Avery's Island the rut begins early in 
July and the fawns are dropped in February. In the 
swamps immediately north of these marshes the dates are 
fully a month later. The marshes are covered with tall 
reeds and grass and broken by bayous, while there are 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 199 

scattered over them what are called " islands " of firmer 
ground overgrown with timber. In this locality the deer 
live in the same neighborhood all the year round, just as, 
for instance, they do on Lon^ Island. So on the Little 
Missouri, in the neighborhood of my ranch, they lived in 
exactly the same localities throughout the entire year. 
Occasionally they would shift from one river bottom to 
another, or go a few miles up or down stream because of 
scarcity of food. But there was no general shifting. 

On the Little Missouri, in one place where they were 
not molested, I knew a particular doe and fawn with 
whose habits I became quite intimately acquainted. 
When the moon was full they fed chiefly by night, and 
spent most of the day lying in the thick brush. When 
there was little or no moon they would begin to feed early 
in the morning, then take a siesta, and then — what struck 
me as most curious of all — would go to a little willow- 
bordered pool about noon to drink, feeding for some time 
both before and after drinking. After another siesta they 
would come out late in the afternoon and feed until dark. 

In the Adirondacks the deer often completely alter 
their habits at different seasons. Soon after the fawns 
are born they come down to the water's edge, preferring 
the neighborhood of the lakes, but also haunting the 
stream banks. The next three months, during the hot 
weather, they keep very close to the water, and get a large 
proportion of their food by wading in after the lilies and 
other aquatic plants. Where they are much hunted, they 
only come to the water's edge after dark, but in regions 
where they are little disturbed they are quite as often 



200 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

diurnal in their habits. I have seen dozens feeding in 
the neighborhood of a lake, some of them two or three 
hundred yards out in shallow places, up to their bellies; 
and this after sunrise, or two or three hours before sunset. 
Before September the deer cease coming to the water, 
and go back among the dense forests and on the moun- 
tains. There is no genuine migration, as in the case of 
the mule-deer, from one big tract to another, and no en- 
tire desertion of any locality. But the food supply which 
drew the animals to the water's edge during the summer 
months shows signs of exhaustion toward fall ; the deli- 
cate water-plants have vanished, the marsh-grass is dying, 
and the lilies are less succulent. An occasional deer still 
wanders along the shores or out into the lake, but most 
of them begin to roam the woods, eating the berries and 
the leaves and twig ends of the deciduous trees, and even 
of some of the conifers — although a whitetail is fond of 
grazing, especially upon the tips of the grass. I have 
seen moose feeding on the tough old lily stems and wad- 
ing after them when the ice had skimmed the edges of 
the pool. But the whitetail has usually gone back into 
the woods long before freezing-time. 

From Long Island south there is not enough snow to 
make the deer alter their habits in the winter. As soon 
as the rut is over, which in diflferent localities may be 
from October to December, whitetail are apt to band to- 
gether — more apt than at any other season, although even 
then they are often found singly or in small parties. 
While nursing, the does have been thin, and at the end 
of the rut the bucks are gaunt, with their necks swollen 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 201 

and distended. From that time on bucks and does alike 
put on flesh very rapidly in preparation for the winter. 
Where there is no snow, or not enough to interfere with 
their travelling, they continue to roam an)rwhere through 
the woods and across the natural pastures and meadows, 
eating twigs, buds, nuts, and the natural hay which is 
cured on the stalk. 

In the Northern woods they form yards during the 
winter. These yards are generally found in a hardwood 
growth which offers a supply of winter food, and consist 
simply of a tangle of winding trails beaten out through 
the snow by the incessant passing and repassing of the 
animal. The yard merely enables the deer to move along 
the various paths in order to obtain food. If there are 
many deer together, the yards may connect by interlacing 
paths, so that a deer can run a considerable distance 
through them. Often, however, each deer will yard by 
itself, as food is the prime consideration, and a given 
locality may only have enough to support a single animal. 
When the snows grow deep the deer is wholly unable to 
move, once the yard is left, and hence it is absolutely at 
the mercy of a man on snow-shoes, or of a cougar or a 
wolf, if found at such times. The man on snow-shoes 
can move very comfortably; and the cougar and the wolf, 
although hampered by the snow, are not rendered help- 
less like the deer. I have myself scared a deer out of a 
yard, and seen it flounder helplessly in a great drift be- 
fore it had gone thirty rods. When I came up close it 
ploughed its way a very short distance through the drifts, 
making tremendous leaps. But as the snow was over six 



202 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

feet deep, so that the deer sank below the level of the sur- 
face at each jump, and yet could not get its feet on the 
solid ground, it became so exhausted that it fell over on 
its side and bleated in terror as I came up. After looking 
at it I passed on. Hide-hunters and frontier settlers some- 
times go out after the deer on snow-shoes when there is 
a crust, and hence this method of killing is called crust- 
ing. It is simple butchery, for the deer cannot, as the 
moose does, cause its pursuer a chase which may last 
days. No self-respecting man would follow this method 
of hunting save from the necessity of having meat. 

In very wild localities deer sometimes yard on the ice 
along the edges of lakes, eating off all the twigs and 
branches, whether of hardwood trees or of conifers, 
which they can reach. 

At the beginning of the rut the does flee from the 
bucks, which follow them by scent at full speed. The 
whitetail buck rarely tries to form a herd of does, though 
he will sometimes gather two or three. The mere fact 
that his tactics necessitate a long and arduous chase after 
each individual doe prevents his organizing herds as the 
wapiti bull does. Sometimes two or three bucks will be 
found strung out one behind the other, following the 
same doe. The bucks wage desperate battle among them- 
selves during this season, coming together with a clash, 
and then pushing and straining for an hour or two at a 
time, with their mouths open, until the weakest gives way. 
As soon as one abandons the fight he flees with all possible 
speed, and usually escapes unscathed. While head to 
head there is no opportunity for a disabling thrust, but 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 203 

if, in the effort to retreat, the beaten buck gets caught, 
he may be killed. Owing to the character of the antlers, 
whitetail bucks are peculiarly apt to get them interlocked 
in such a fight, and if the efforts of the two beasts fail to 
disentangle them, both ultimately perish by starvation. 
I have several times come across a pair of skulls with 
interlocked antlers. The same thing occurs, though far 
less frequently, to the mule-deer and even the wapiti. 

The whitetail is the most beautiful and graceful of 
all our game animals when in motion. I have never been 
able to agree with Judge Caton that the mule-deer is 
clumsy and awkward in his gait. I suppose all such terms 
are relative. Compared to the moose or caribou the 
mule-deer is light and quick in his movements, and to 
me there is something very attractive in the poise and 
power with which one of the great bucks bounds off, all 
four legs striking the earth together and shooting the 
body upward and forward as if they were steel springs. 
But there can be no question as to the infinitely superior 
grace and beauty of the whitetail when he either trots 
or runs. The mule-deer and blacktail bound, as already 
described. The prongbuck gallops with an even gait, 
and so does the bighorn, when it happens to be caught 
on a flat; but the whitetail moves with an indescribable 
spring and buoyancy. If surprised close up, and much 
terrified, it simply runs away as hard as it can, at a gait 
not materially different from that of any other game 
animal under like circumstances, while its head is thrust 
forward and held down, and the tail is raised perpendic- 
ularly. But normally its mode of progression, whether 



204 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

it trots or gallops, is entirely unique. In trotting, the head 
and tail are both held erect, and the animal throws out 
its legs with a singularly proud and free motion, bringing 
the feet well up, while at every step there is an inde- 
scribable spring. In the canter or gallop the head and 
tail are also held erect, the flashing white brush being 
very conspicuous. Three or four low, long, marvellously 
springy bounds are taken, and then a great leap is made 
high in the air, which is succeeded by three or four low 
bounds, and then by another high leap. A whitetail 
going through the brush in this manner is a singularly 
beautiful sight. It has been my experience that they are 
not usually very much frightened by an ordinary slow 
trackhound, and I have seen a buck play along in front 
of one, alternately trotting and cantering, head and flag 
up, and evidently feeling very little fear. 

To my mind the chase of the whitetail, as it must 
usually be carried on, offers less attraction than the chase 
of any other kind of our large game. But this is a 
mere matter of taste, and such men as Judge Caton and 
Mr. George Bird Grinnell have placed it above all others 
as a game animal. Personally I feel that the chase of any 
animal has in it two chief elements of attraction. The 
first is the chance given to be in the wilderness; to see 
the sights and hear the sounds of wild nature. The sec- 
ond is the demand made by the particular kind of chase 
upon the qualities of manliness and hardihood. As re- 
gards the first, some kinds of game, of course, lead the 
hunter into particularly remote and wild localities; and 
the farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 205 

attraction of its lonely freedom. Yet to camp out at all 
implies some measure of this delight. The keen, fresh 
air, the breath of the pine forests, the glassy stillness of 
the lake at sunset, the glory of sunrise among the moun- 
tains, the shimmer of the endless prairies, the ceaseless 
rustle of the cottonwood leaves where the wagon is drawn 
up on the low bluff of the shrunken river — all these ap- 
peal intensely to any man, no matter what may be the 
game he happens to be following. But there is a wide 
variation, and indeed contrast, in the qualities called for 
in the chase itself, according as one quarry or another 
is sought. 

The qualities that make a good soldier are, in large 
part, the qualities that make a good hunter. Most impor- 
tant of all is the ability to shift for one's self, the mixture 
of hardihood and resourcefulness which enables a man 
to tramp all day in the right direction, and, when night 
comes, to make the best of whatever opportunities for 
shelter and warmth may be at hand. Skill in the use 
of the rifle is another trait; quickness in seeing game, 
another; ability to take advantage of cover, yet another; 
while patience, endurance, keenness of observation, res- 
olution, good nerves, and instant readiness in an emer- 
gency, are all indispensable to a really good hunter. 

If a man lives on a ranch, or is passing some weeks 
in a lodge in a game country, and starts out for two or 
three days, he will often do well to carry nothing what- 
ever but a blanket, a frying-pan, some salt pork, and some 
hardtack. If the hunting-ground is such that he can use 
a wagon or a canoe, and the trip is not to be too long. 



2o6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

he can carry about anything he chooses, including a tent, 
any amount of bedding, and if it is very cold, a small, 
portable stove, not to speak of elaborate cooking ap- 
paratus. If he goes with a pack-train, he will also be 
able to carry a good deal ; but in such a case he must rely 
on the judgment of the trained packers, unless he is him- 
self an expert in the diamond hitch. If it becomes nec- 
essary to go on foot for any length of time, he must be 
prepared to do genuine roughing, and must get along 
with the minimum of absolute necessities. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that the hunter 
worthy of the name should be prepared to shift for him- 
self in emergencies. A ranchman, or any other man 
whose business takes him much in the mountains and out 
on the great plains or among the forests, ought to be 
able to get along entirely on his own account. But this 
cannot usually be done by those whose existence is habit- 
ually more artificial. When a man who normally lives 
a rather over-civilized life, an over-luxurious life — espe- 
cially in the great cities — gets ofif for a few weeks' hunt- 
ing, he cannot expect to accomplish much in the way of 
getting game without calling upon the services of a 
trained guide, woodsman, plainsman, or mountain man, 
whose life-work it has been to make himself an adept 
in all the craft of the wilderness. Until a man unused to 
wilderness life, even though a good sportsman, has act- 
ually tried it, he has no idea of the difficulties and hard- 
ships of shifting absolutely for himself, even for only two 
or three days. Not only will the local guide have the 
necessary knowledge as to precisely which one of two 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 207 

seemingly similar places is most apt to contain game; 
not only will he possess the skill in packing horses, or 
handling a canoe in rough water, or finding his way 
through the wilderness, which the amateur must lack; 
but even the things which the amateur does, the profes- 
sional will do so much more easily and rapidly, as in the 
one case to leave, and in the other case not to leave, 
ample time for the hunting proper. Therefore the or- 
dinary amateur sportsman, especially if he lives in a 
city, must count upon the services of trained men, possi- 
bly to help him in hunting, certainly to help him in trav- 
elling, cooking, pitching camp, and the like; and this 
he must do, if he expects to get good sport, no matter 
how hardy he may be, and no matter how just may be 
the pride he ought to take in his own craft, skill, and 
capacity to undergo fatigue and exposure. But while 
normally he must take advantage of the powers of others, 
he should certainly make a point of being able to shift 
for himself whenever the need arises; and he can only 
be sure of possessing this capacity by occasionally exer- 
cising it. It ought to be unnecessary to point out that 
the wilderness is not a place for those who are dependent 
upon luxuries, and above all for those who make a camp- 
ing trip an excuse for debauchery. Neither the man who 
wants to take a French cook and champagne on a hunting 
trip, nor his equally objectionable though less wealthy 
brother who is chiefly concerned with filling and empty- 
ing a large whiskey jug, has any place whatever in the 
real life of the wilderness. 

The chase of an animal should rank according as it 



2o8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

calls for the exercise in a high degree of a large num- 
ber of these qualities. The grizzly is almost our only 
dangerous game, and under certain conditions shooting 
the grizzly calls for considerable courage on the part of 
the hunter. Disregarding these comparatively rare occa- 
sions, the chase of mountain game, especially the big- 
horn, demands more hardihood, power of endurance, and 
moral and physical soundness than any other kind of 
sport, and so must come first. The wapiti and mule- 
deer rank next, for they too must be killed by stalking 
as a result of long tramps over very rough ground. To 
kill a moose by still hunting is a feat requiring a high 
degree of skill, and entailing severe fatigue. When game 
is followed on horseback, it means that the successful 
hunter must ride well and boldly. 

The whitetail is occasionally found where it yields 
a very high quality of sport. But normally it lives in 
regions where it is extremely difficult to kill it legiti- 
mately, as the wapiti and mule-deer are killed, and yet 
comparatively easy to kill it under circumstances which 
make no demand for any particular prowess on the part 
of the hunter. It is far more difficult to still hunt suc- 
cessfully in the dense brushy timber frequented by the 
whitetail than in the open glades, the mountains, and 
the rocky hills, through which the wapiti and mule-deer 
wander. The difficulty arises, however, because the chief 
requirement is stealth, noiselessness. The man who goes 
out into the hills for a mule-deer must walk hard and 
far, must be able to bear fatigue, and possibly thirst and 
hunger, must have keen eyes, and be a good shot. He 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 209 

does not need to display the extraordinary power of 
stealthy advance which is necessary to the man who would 
creep up to and kill a whitetail in thick timber. Now, 
the qualities of hardihood and endurance are better than 
the quality of stealth, and though all three are necessary 
in both kinds of chase, yet it is the chase of the mule- 
deer which most develops the former, and the chase of 
the whitetail which most develops the latter. When the 
woods are bare and there is some snow on the ground, 
however, still hunting the whitetail becomes not only 
possible, but a singularly manly and attractive kind of 
sport. Where the whitetail can be followed with horse 
and hound, the sport is also of a very high order. To 
be able to ride through woods and over rough country 
at full speed, rifle or shotgun in hand, and then to leap 
off and shoot at a running object, is to show that one has 
the qualities which made the cavalry of Forrest so for- 
midable in the Civil War. There could be no better 
training for the mounted rifleman, the most efficient type 
of modern soldier. 

By far the easiest way to kill the whitetail is in one 
or other of certain methods which entail very little work 
or skill on the part of the hunter. The most noxious 
of these, crusting in the deep snows, has already been 
spoken of. No sportsman worthy of the name would 
ever follow so butcherly a method. Fire hunting must 
also normally be ruled out. It is always mere murder 
if carried on by a man who sits up at a lick, and is not 
much better where the hunter walks through the fields — 
not to mention the fact that on such a walk he is quite 



2IO AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

as apt to kill stock as to kill a deer. But fire hunting 
from a boat, or jacking, as it is called, though it entails 
absolutely no skill in the hunter, and though it is, and 
ought to be, forbidden, as it can best be carried on at 
the season when nursing does are particularly apt to be 
the victims, nevertheless has a certain charm of its own. 
The first deer I ever killed, when a boy, was obtained 
in this way, and I have always been glad to have had 
the experience, though I have never been willing to 
repeat it. I was at the time camped out in the Adiron- 
dacks. 

Two or three of us, all boys of fifteen or sixteen, had 
been enjoying what was practically our first experience 
in camping out, having gone out with two guides. Hank 
Martin and Mose Sawyer, from Paul Smith's on Lake 
St. Regis. My brother and cousin were fond of fishing 
and I was not, so I was deputed to try to bring in a 
deer. I had a double-barrelled 12-bore gun, French pin- 
fire, with which I had industriously collected " speci- 
mens " on a trip to Egypt and Palestine and on Long 
Island; except for three or four enthralling but not over- 
successful days after woodcock and quail, I had done 
no game shooting. As to every healthy boy with a taste 
for out-door life, the Northern forests were to me a veri- 
table land of enchantment. We were encamped by a 
stream among the tall pines, and I had enjoyed every- 
thing; poling and paddling the boat, tramping through 
the woods, the cries of chickaree and chipmunk, of jay, 
woodpecker, chickadee, nuthatch, and cross-bill, which 
broke the forest stillness ; and, above all, the great reaches 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 211 

of sombre woodland themselves. The heart-shaped foot- 
prints which showed where the deer had come down to 
drink and feed on the marshy edges of the water made 
my veins thrill; and the nights around the flickering 
camp-fire seemed filled with romance. 

My first experiment in jacking was a failure. The 
jack, a bark lantern, was placed upon a stick in the bow 
of the boat, and I sat in a cramped huddle behind it, while 
Mose Sawyer plied the paddle with noiseless strength 
and skill in the stern. I proved unable to respond even 
to the very small demand made upon me, for when we 
actually did come upon a deer I failed to see it until 
it ran, when I missed it; and on the way back capped my 
misfortune by shooting a large owl which perched on a 
log projecting into the water, looking at the lantern with 
two glaring eyes. 

All next day I was miserably conscious of the smoth- 
ered disfavor of my associates, and when night fell was 
told I would have another chance to redeem myself. 
This time we started across a carry, the guide carrying 
the light boat, and launched it in a quiet little pond 
about a mile off. Dusk was just turning into darkness 
when we reached the edge of the little lake, which was 
perhaps a mile long by three-quarters of a mile across, 
with indented shores. We did not push off for half an 
hour or so, until it was entirely dark; and then for a 
couple of hours we saw no deer. Nevertheless, I thor- 
oughly enjoyed the ghostly, mysterious, absolutely silent 
night ride over the water. Not the faintest splash be- 
trayed the work of the paddler. The boat glided stealth- 



212 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ily alongshore, the glare of the lantern bringing out for 
one moment every detail of the forest growth on the 
banks, which the next second vanished into absolute 
blackness. Several times we saw muskrats swimming 
across the lane of light cut by the lantern through the 
darkness, and two or three times their sudden plunging 
and splashing caused my heart to leap. Once when we 
crossed the lake we came upon a loon floating buoyantly 
right out in the middle of it. It stayed until we were 
within ten yards, so that I could see the minute outlines 
of the feathers and every movement of the eye. Then 
it swam off, but made no cry. At last, while crossing 
the mouth of a bay we heard a splashing sound among 
the lilies inshore, which even my untrained ears recog- 
nized as different from any of the other noises we had 
yet heard, and a jarring motion of the paddle showed 
that the paddler wished me to be on the alert. With- 
out any warning, the course of the boat was suddenly 
changed, and I was aware that we were moving stern 
foremost. Then we swung around, and I could soon 
make out that we were going down the little bay. The 
forest-covered banks narrowed; then the marsh at the 
end was lighted up, and on its hither edge, knee-deep 
among the water-lilies, appeared the figure of a yearling 
buck still in the red. It stood motionless, gazing at the 
light with a curiosity wholly unmixed with alarm, and 
at the shot wheeled and fell at the water's edge. We 
made up our mind to return to camp that night, as it was 
before midnight. I carried the buck and the torch, and 
the guide the boat, and the mile walk over the dim trail, 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 213 

occasionally pitching forward across a stump or root, was 
a thing to be remembered. It was my first deer, and 
I was very glad to get it; but although only a boy, I had 
sense enough to realize that it was not an experience 
worth repeating. The paddler in such a case deserves 
considerable credit, but the shooter not a particle, even 
aside from the fact to which I have already alluded, 
that in too many cases such shooting results in the killing 
of nursing does. No matter how young a sportsman is, 
if he has a healthy mind, he will not long take pleasure 
in any method of hunting in which somebody else shows 
the skill and does the work so that his share is only nomi- 
nal. The minute that sport is carried on on these terms 
it becomes a sham, and a sham is always detrimental to 
all who take part in it. 

Whitetail are comparatively easily killed with 
hounds, and there are very many places where this is 
almost the only way they can be killed at all. Formerly 
in the Adirondacks this method of hunting was carried 
on under circumstances which rendered those who took 
part in it objects of deserved contempt. The sportsman 
stood in a boat while his guides put out one or two hounds 
in the chosen forest side. After a longer or shorter run 
the deer took to the water; for whitetail are excellent 
swimmers, and when pursued by hounds try to shake 
them off by wading up or down stream or by swimming 
across a pond, and, if tired, come to bay in some pool 
or rapid. Once the unfortunate deer was in the water, 
the guide rowed the boat after it. If it was yet early in 
the season, and the deer was still in the red summer 



214 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

coat, it would sink when shot, and therefore the guide 
would usually take hold of its tail before the would-be 
Nimrod butchered it. If the deer was in the blue, the 
carcass would float, so it was not necessary to do anything 
quite so palpably absurd. But such sport, so far as the 
man who did the shooting was concerned, had not one 
redeeming feature. The use of hounds has now been 
prohibited by law. 

In regions where there are no lakes, and where the 
woods are thick, the shooters are stationed at runways 
by which it is supposed the deer may pass when the 
hounds are after them. Under such circumstances the 
man has to show the skill requisite to hit the running 
quarry, and if he uses the rifle, this means that he must 
possess a certain amount of address in handling the weap- 
on. But no other quality is called for, and so even this 
method, though often the only possible one (and it may 
be necessary to return to it in the Adirondacks) , can never 
rank high in the eyes of men who properly appreciate 
what big game hunting should be. It is the usual method 
of killing deer on Long Island, during the three or four 
days of each year when they can be legally hunted. The 
deer are found along the south and centre of the eastern 
half of the island; they were nearly exterminated a dozen 
years ago, but under good laws they have recently in- 
creased greatly. The extensive grounds of the various 
sportsmen's clubs, and the forests of scrub-oak in the 
sparsely settled inland region, give them good harbors 
and sanctuaries. On the days when it is legal to shoot 
them, hundreds of hunters turn out from the neighbor- 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 215 

hood, and indeed from all the island and from New York. 
On such a day it is almost impossible to get any work 
done; for the sport is most democratic, and is shared by 
everybody. The hunters choose their position before 
dawn, lying in lines wherever deer are likely to pass, 
while the hounds are turned into every patch of thick 
cover. A most lively day follows, the fusillade being 
terrific ; some men are invariably shot, and a goodly num- 
ber of deer are killed, mostly by wily old hunters who 
kill ducks and quail for a living in the fall. 

When the horse is used together with the hounds the 
conditions are changed. To ride a horse over rough 
country after game always implies hardihood and good 
horsemanship, and therefore makes the sport a worthy 
one. In very open country — in such country, for instance, 
as the whitetail formerly frequented both in Texas and 
the Indian Territory — the horseman could ride at the 
tail of the pack until the deer was fairly run down. But 
nowadays I know of no place where this is possible, for 
the whitetail's haunts are such as to make it impracti- 
cable for any rider to keep directly behind the hounds. 
What he must do is to try to cut the game off by riding 
from point to point. He then leaps off the horse and 
watches his chance for a shot. This is the way in which 
Mr. Mcllhenny has done most of his deer-hunting, in 
the neighborhood of his Louisiana plantation. 

Around my ranch I very rarely tried to still-hunt 
whitetail, because it was always easier to get mule-deer 
or prongbuck, if I had time to go off for an all-day's 
hunt. Occasionally, however, we would have at the 



2i6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ranch hounds, usually of the old black-and-tan Southern 
type, and then if we needed meat, and there was not time 
for a hunt back in the hills, we would turn out and hunt 
one or two of the river bottoms with these hounds. If 
I rode off to the prairies or the hills I went alone, but 
if the quarry was a whitetail, our chance of success de- 
pended upon our having a sufficient number of guns to 
watch the different passes and runways. Accordingly, 
my own share of the chase was usually limited to the 
fun of listening to the hounds, and of galloping at head- 
long speed from one point where I thought the deer 
would not pass to some other, which, as a matter of fact, 
it did not pass either. The redeeming feature of the 
situation was that if I did get a shot, I almost always got 
my deer. Under ordinary circumstances to merely 
wound a deer is worse than not hitting it; but when there 
are hounds along they are certain to bring the wounded 
animal to bay, and so on these hunts we usually got 
venison. 

Of course, I occasionally got a whitetail when I 
was alone, whether with the hounds or without them. 
There were whitetail on the very bottom on which the 
ranch house stood, as well as on the bottom opposite, 
and on those to the right and left up and down stream. 
Occasionally I have taken the hounds out alone, and 
then as they chevied the whitetail around the bottom, 
have endeavored by rapid running on foot or on horse- 
back to get to some place from which I could obtain 
a shot. The deer knew perfectly well that the hounds 
could not overtake them, and they would usually do a 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 



217 



great deal of sneaking round and round through the un- 
derbrush and cottonwoods before they finally made up 
their minds to leave the bottom. On one occasion a buck 
came sneaking down a game trail through the buck brush 
where I stood, going so low that I could just see the 
tips of his antlers, and though I made desperate efforts 
I was not able to get into a position from which I could 
obtain a shot. On another occasion, while I was looking 
intently into a wood through which I was certain a deer 
would pass, it deliberately took to the open ground be- 
hind me, and I did not see it until it was just vanishing. 
Normally, the end of my efforts was that the deer went 
off and the hounds disappeared after it, not to return 
for six or eight hours. Once or twice things favored 
me; I happened to take the right turn or go in the right 
direction, and the deer happened to blunder past me; and 
then I returned with venison for supper. Two or three 
times I shot deer about nightfall or at dawn, in the im- 
mediate neighborhood of the ranch, obtaining them by 
sneaking as noiselessly as possible along the cattle trails 
through the brush and timber, or by slipping along the 
edge of the river bank. Several times I saw deer while 
I was sitting on the piazza or on the doorstep of the 
ranch, and on one occasion I stepped back into the house, 
got the rifle, and dropped the animal from where I stood. 
On yet other occasions I obtained whitetail which 
lived not on the river bottoms but among the big patches 
of brush and timber in the larger creeks. When they 
were found in such country I hunted them very much 
as I hunted the mule-deer, and usually shot one when 



21 8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

I was expecting as much to see a mule-deer as a white- 
tail. When the game was plentiful I would often stay 
on my horse until the moment of obtaining the shot, espe- 
cially if it was in the early morning or late evening. My 
method then was to ride slowly and quietly down the 
winding valleys and across the spurs, hugging the bank, 
so that, if deer were feeding in the open, I would get 
close up before either of us saw the other. Sometimes 
the deer would halt for a moment when it saw me, and 
sometimes it would bound instantly away. In either case 
my chance lay in the speed with which I could jump 
off the horse and take my shot. Even in favorable locali- 
ties this method was of less avail with whitetail than 
mule-deer, because the former were so much more apt 
to skulk. 

As soon as game became less plentiful my hunting had 
to be done on foot. My object was to be on the hunting- 
ground by dawn, or else to stay out there until it grew 
too dark to see the sights of my rifle. Often all I did 
was to keep moving as quietly as possible through likely 
ground, ever on the alert for the least trace of game; 
sometimes I would select a lookout and carefully scan 
a likely country to see if I could not detect something 
moving. On one occasion I obtained an old whitetail 
buck by the simple exercise of patience. I had twice 
found him in a broad basin, composed of several coulees, 
all running down to form the head of a big creek, and 
all of them well timbered. He dodged me on both occa- 
sions, and I made up my mind that I would spend a 
whole day in watching for him from a little natural 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 219 

ambush of sage-bush and cedar on a high point which 
overlooked the entire basin. I crept up to my ambush 
with the utmost caution early in the morning, and there 
I spent the entire day, with my lunch and a water-bottle, 
continually scanning the whole region most carefully 
with the glasses. The day passed less monotonously than 
it sounds, for every now and then I would catch a glimpse 
of wild life; once a fox, once a coyote, and once a badger; 
while the little chipmunks had a fine time playing all 
around me. At last, about mid-afternoon, I suddenly saw 
the buck come quietly out of the dense thicket in which 
he had made his midday bed, and deliberately walk up 
a hillside and lie down in a thin clump of ash where the 
sun could get at him — for it was in September, just be- 
fore the rut began. There was no chance of stalking 
him in the place he had chosen, and all I could do was 
to wait. It was nearly sunset before he moved again, 
except that I occasionally saw him turn his head. Then 
he got up, and after carefully scrutinizing all the neigh- 
borhood, moved down into a patch of fairly thick brush, 
where I could see him standing and occasionally feeding, 
all the time moving slowly up the valley. I now slipped 
most cautiously back and trotted nearly a mile until I 
could come up behind one of the ridges bounding the 
valley in which he was. The wind had dropped and it 
was almost absolutely still when I crawled flat on my face 
to the crest, my hat in my left hand, my rifle in my 
right. There was a big sage-bush conveniently near, and 
under this I peered. There was a good deal of brush in 
the valley below, and if I had not known that the buck 



220 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

was there, I would never have discovered him. As it 
was, I watched for a quarter of an hour, and had about 
made up my mind that he must have gone somewhere 
else, when a slight movement nearly below me attracted 
my attention, and I caught a glimpse of him nearly three 
hundred yards ofif, moving quietly along by the side of 
a little dry watercourse which was right in the middle 
of the brush. I waited until he was well past, and then 
again slipped back with the utmost care, and ran on until 
I was nearly opposite the head of the coulee, when I again 
approached the ridge-line. Here there was no sage-bush, 
only tufts of tall grass, which were stirring in the little 
breeze which had just sprung up, fortunately in the 
right direction. Taking advantage of a slight inequality 
in the soil, I managed to get behind one of these tufts, 
and almost immediately saw the buck. Toward the head 
of the coulee the brush had become scanty and low, and 
he was now walking straight forward, evidently keeping 
a sharp lookout. The sun had just set. His course took 
him past me at a distance of eighty yards. When di- 
rectly opposite I raised myself on my elbows, drawing 
up the rifle, which I had shoved ahead of me. The 
movement of course caught his eye at once; he halted 
for one second to look around and see what it was, and 
during that second I pulled the trigger. Away he went, 
his white flag switching desperately, and though he gal- 
loped over the hill, I felt he was mine. However, when 
I got to the top of the rise over which he had gone, 
I could not see him, and as there was a deep though 
narrow coulee filled with brush on the other side, I had 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 221 

a very ugly feeling that I might have lost him, in spite 
of the quantity of blood he had left along his trail. It 
was getting dark, and I plunged quickly into the coulee. 
Usually a wounded deer should not be followed until it 
has had time to grow stif¥, but this was just one of the 
cases where the rule would have worked badly; in the 
first place, because darkness was coming on, and in the 
next place, because the animal was certain to die shortly, 
and all that I wanted was to see where he was. I fol- 
lowed his trail into the coulee, and expected to find that 
he had turned down it, but a hurried examination in the 
fading light showed me that he had taken the opposite 
course, and I scrambled hastily out on the other side, 
and trotted along, staring into the brush, and now and 
then shouting or throwing in a clod of earth. When 
nearly at the head there was a crackling in the brush, 
and out burst the wounded buck. He disappeared be- 
hind a clump of elms, but he had a hard hill to go up, 
and the effort was too much for him. When I next saw 
him he had halted, and before I could fire again down 
he came. 

On another occasion I spied a whole herd of white- 
tail feeding in a natural meadow, right out in the open, 
in mid-afternoon, and was able to get up so close that 
when I finally shot a yearling buck (which was one of 
the deer farthest away from me, there being no big buck 
in the outfit), the remaining deer, all does and fawns, 
scattered in every direction, some galloping right past 
me in their panic. Once or twice I was able to perform 
a feat of which I had read, but in which I scarcely 



222 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

believed. This was, to creep up, to a deer while feed- 
ing in the open, by watching when it shook its tail, and 
then remaining motionless. I cannot say whether the 
habit is a universal one, but on two occasions at least 
I was able thus to creep up to the feeding deer, because 
before lifting its head it invariably shook its tail, thereby 
warning me to stay without moving until it had lifted 
its head, scrutinized the landscape, and again lowered 
its head to graze. The eyesight of the whitetail, as com- 
pared with that of the pronghorn antelope, is poor. It 
notes whatever is in motion, but it seems unable to dis- 
tinguish clearly anything that is not in motion. On the 
occasions in question no antelope that I have ever seen 
would have failed to notice me at once and to take alarm. 
But the whitetail, although it scrutinized me narrowly, 
while I lay motionless with my head toward it, seemed 
in each case to think that I must be harmless, and after 
a while it would go on feeding. In one instance the 
animal fed over a ridge and walked off before I could 
get a shot; in the other instance I killed it. 

In 1894, on the last day I spent at the ranch, and 
with the last bullet I fired from my rifle, I killed a fine 
whitetail buck. I left the ranch house early in the after- 
noon on my favorite pony, Muley, my foreman, Sylvane 
Ferris, riding with me. We forded the shallow river 
and rode up a long winding coulee, with belts of tim- 
ber running down its bottom. After going a couple of 
miles, by sheer good luck we stumbled on three white- 
tail — a buck, a doe and a fawn. When we saw them 
they were trying to sneak of]f, and immediately my fore- 



THE WHITETAIL DEER 



223 



man galloped toward one end of the belt of timber in 
which they were, and started to ride down through it, 
while I ran Muley to the other end to intercept them. 
They were, of course, quite likely to break off to one 
side; but this happened to be one of the occasions when 
everything went right. When I reached the spot from 
which I covered the exits from the timber, I leaped off, 
and immediately afterward heard a shout from my fore- 
man that told me the deer were on foot. Muley was 
a pet horse, and enjoyed immensely the gallop after 
game; but his nerves invariably failed him at the shot. 
On this occasion he stood snorting beside me, and finally, 
as the deer came in sight, away he tore — only to go about 
200 yards, however, and stand and watch us, snorting, 
with his ears pricked forward until, when I needed him, 
I went for him. At the moment, however, I paid no heed 
to Muley, for a cracking in the brush told me the game 
was close, and I caught the shadowy outlines of the doe 
and the fawn as they scudded through the timber. By 
good luck, the buck, evidently flurried, came right on the 
edge of the woods next to me, and as he passed, running 
like a quarter-horse, I held well ahead of him and pulled 
trigger. The bullet broke his neck and down he went — 
a fine fellow with a handsome ten-point head, and fat 
as a prize sheep; for it was just before the rut. Then 
we rode home, and I sat in a rocking-chair on the ranch- 
house veranda, looking across the wide, sandy river bed 
at the strangely shaped buttes and the groves of shimmer- 
ing cottonwoods until the sun went down and the frosty 
air bade me go in. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE MULE-DEER, OR ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLACKTAIL 

This is the largest and finest of our three smaller deer. 
Throughout its range it is known as the blacktail deer, 
and it has as good a historic claim to the title as its Pacific 
coast kinsman, the coast or true blacktail. In writing 
purely of this species, it seems like pedantry to call it 
by its book name of mule-deer, a name which conveys 
little or no meaning to the people who live in its haunts 
and who hunt it; but it is certainly very confusing to 
know two distinct types of deer by one name, and as both 
the Rocky Mountain blacktail and Coast blacktail are 
thus known, and as the former is occasionally known as 
mule-deer, I shall, for convenience' sake, speak of it un- 
der this name — a name given it because of its great ears, 
which rather detract from its otherwise very handsome 
appearance. 

The mule-deer is a striking and beautiful animal. As 
is the case with our other species, it varies greatly in 
size, but is on the average heavier than either the white- 
tail or the true blacktail. The horns also average longer 
and heavier, and in exceptional heads are really note- 
worthy trophies. Ordinarily a full-grown buck has a 
head of ten distinct and well-developed points, eight of 
which consist of the bifurcations of the two main prongs 

into which each antler divides, while in addition there 

224 



THE MULE-DEER 225 

are two shorter basal or frontal points. But the latter 
are very irregular, being sometimes missing; while some- 
times there are two or three of them on each antler. 
When missing it usually means that the antlers are of 
young animals that have not attained their full growth. 
A yearling will sometimes have merely a pair of spikes, 
and sometimes each spike will be bifurcated so as to make 
two points. A two-year-old may develop antlers which, 
though small, possess the normal four points. Occasion- 
ally, where unusually big heads are developed, there are 
a number of extra points. If these are due to deformity, 
they simply take away from the beauty of the head ; but 
where they are symmetrical, while at the same time the 
antlers are massive, they add greatly to the beauty. All 
the handsomest and largest heads show this symmetri- 
cal development of extra points. It is rather hard to 
lay down a hard-and-fast rule for counting them. The 
largest and finest antlers are usually rough, and it is 
not easy to say when a particular point in roughness has 
developed so that it may legitimately be called a prong. 
The largest head I ever got to my own rifle had twenty- 
eight points, symmetrically arranged, the antlers being 
rough and very massive as well as very long. The buck 
was an immense fellow, but no bigger than other bucks 
I have shot which possessed ordinary heads. 

The mule-deer is found from the rough country 
which begins along the eastern edges of the great plains, 
across the Rocky Mountains to the eastern slopes of the 
coast ranges, and into southern California. It extends 
into Canada on the north and Mexico on the south. On 



226 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the west it touches, and here and there crosses, the boun- 
daries of the Coast blacktail. The whitetail is found in 
places throughout its habitat from east to west and from 
north to south. But there are great regions in this ter- 
ritory which are peculiarly fitted for the mule-deer, but 
in which the whitetail is never found, as the habits of 
the two are entirely different. In the mountains of west- 
ern Colorado and Wyoming, for instance, the mule-deer 
swarms, but the whole region is unfit for the whitetail, 
which is accordingly only found in a very few narrowly 
restricted localities. 

The mule-deer does not hold its own as well as the 
whitetail in the presence of man, but it is by no means 
as quickly exterminated as the wapiti. The outside 
limits of its range have not shrunk materially in the cen- 
tury during which it has been known to white hunters. 
It was never found until the fertile, moist country of the 
Mississippi Valley was passed and the dry plains region 
to the west of it reached, and it still exists in some num- 
bers here and there in this country, as, for instance, in 
the Bad Lands along the Little Missouri, and in the 
Black Hills. But although its limits of distribution have 
not very sensibly diminished, there are large portions of 
the range within these limits from which it has practically 
vanished, and in most places its numbers have been woe- 
fully thinned. It holds its own best among the more in- 
accessible mountain masses of the Rockies, and from 
Chihuahua to Alberta there are tracts where it is still 
abundant. Yet even in these places the numbers are di- 
minishing, and this process can be arrested only by better 



THE MULE-DEER 227 

laws, and above all, by a better administration of the law. 
The national Government could do much by establishing 
its forest reserves as game reserves, and putting on a suf- 
ficient number of forest rangers who should be empow- 
ered to prevent all hunting on the reserves. The State 
governments can do still more. Colorado has good laws, 
but they are not well enforced. The easy method of 
accounting for this fact is to say that it is due to the 
politicians; but in reality the politicians merely represent 
the wishes, or more commonly the indifference, of the 
people. As long as the good citizens of a State are indif- 
ferent to game protection, or take but a tepid interest 
in it, the politicians, through their agents, will leave the 
game laws unenforced. But if the people of Colorado, 
Wyoming, and Montana come to feel the genuine interest 
in the enforcement of these laws that the people of Maine 
and Vermont have grown to take during the past twenty 
years, that the people of Montana and Wyoming who 
dwell alongside the Yellowstone Park are already taking 
— then not only will the mule-deer cease to diminish, but 
it will positively increase. It is a mistake to suppose that 
such a change would only be to the advantage of well- 
to-do sportsmen. Men who are interested in hunting for 
hunting's sake, men who come from the great cities re- 
mote from the mountains in order to get three or four 
weeks' healthy, manly holiday, would undoubtedly be 
benefited; but the greatest benefit would be to the peo- 
ple of the localities, of the neighborhoods round about. 
The presence of the game would attract outsiders who 
would leave in the country money, or its equivalent, 



228 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

which would many times surpass in value the game they 
actually killed; and furthermore, the preservation of the 
game would mean that the ranchmen and grangers who 
live near its haunts would have in perpetuity the chance 
of following the pleasantest and healthiest of all out-of- 
door pastimes; whereas, if through their short-sighted- 
ness they destroy, or permit to be destroyed, the game, 
they are themselves responsible for the fact that their 
children and children's children will find themselves for- 
ever debarred from a pursuit which must under such 
circumstances become the amusement only of the very 
rich. If we are really alive to our opportunities under 
our democratic social and political system, we can keep 
for ourselves — and by " ourselves " I mean the enormous 
bulk of men whose means range from moderate to very 
small — ample opportunity for the enjoyment of hunting 
and shooting, of vigorous and blood-stirring out-of-doors 
sport. If we fail to take advantage of our possibilities, 
if we fail to pass, in the interest of all, wise game laws, 
and to see that these game laws are properly enforced, 
we shall then have to thank ourselves if in the future the 
game is only found in the game preserves of the wealthy; 
and under such circumstances only these same wealthy 
people will have the chance to hunt it. 

The mule-deer differs widely from the whitetail in 
its habits, and especially in its gait, and in the kind of 
country which it frequents. Although in many parts of 
its range it is found side by side with its whitetail cousin, 
the two do not actually associate together, and their pro- 
pinquity is due simply to the fact, that the river bottoms 



THE MULE-DEER 229 

being a favorite haunt of the whitetail, long tongues of 
the distribution area of this species are thrust into the 
domain of its bolder, less stealthy and less crafty kinsman. 
Throughout the plains country the whitetail is the deer of 
the river bottoms, where the rank growth gives it secure 
hiding-places, as well as ample food. The mule-deer, on 
the contrary, never comes down into the dense growths 
of the river bottoms. Throughout the plains country 
it is the deer of the broken Bad Lands which fringe these 
river bottoms on either side, and of the rough ravines 
which wind their way through the Bad Lands to the edge 
of the prairie country which lies back of them. The 
broken hills, their gorges filled with patches of ash, buck 
brush, cedar, and dwarf pine, form a country in which 
the mule-deer revels. The whitetail will, at times, wan- 
der far out on the prairies where the grass is tall and 
rank; but it is not nearly so bold or fond of the open 
as the mule-deer. The latter is frequently found in hilly 
country where the covering is so scanty that the animal 
must be perpetually on the watch, as if it were a bighorn 
or prongbuck, in order to spy its foes at a distance and 
escape before they can come near; whereas the whitetail 
usually seeks to elude observation by hiding — by its 
crouching, stealthy habits. 

It must be remembered, however, that with the mule- 
deer, as with all other species of animals, there is a wide 
variability in habits under different conditions. This is 
often forgotten even by trained naturalists, who accept 
the observations made in one locality as if they applied 
throughout the range of the species. Thus in the gen- 



230 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

erally good account of the habits of this species in Mr. 
Lydeker's book on the " Deer of All Lands " it is asserted 
that mule-deer never dwell permanently in the forest, and 
feed almost exclusively on grass. The first statement is 
entirely, the second only partly, true of the mule-deer of 
the plains from the Little Missouri westward to the head- 
waters of the Platte, the Yellowstone, and the Big Horn; 
but there are large parts of the Rockies in which neither 
statement applies at all. In the course of several hunt- 
ing trips among the densely wooded mountains of western 
Montana, along the water-shed separating the streams 
that flow into Clarke's Fork of the Columbia from those 
that ultimately empty into Kootenay Lake, I found the 
mule-deer plentiful in many places where practically the 
whole country was covered by dense forest, and where 
the opportunities for grazing were small indeed, as we 
found to our cost in connection with our pack-train. In 
this region the mule-deer lived the entire time among 
the timber, and subsisted for the most part on browse. 
Occasionally they would find an open glade and graze; 
but the stomachs of those killed contained not grass, but 
blueberries and the leaves and delicate tips of bushes. I 
was not in this country in winter, but it was evident that 
even at that season the deer must spend their time in the 
thick timber. There was no chance for them to go above 
the timber line, because the mountains were densely 
wooded to their summits, and the white goats of the local- 
ity also lived permanently in the timber.' It was far 

* I call particular attention to this fact concerning the white goat, as certain 
recent writers, including Mr. Madison Grant, have erroneously denied it. 



THE MULE-DEER 231 

harder to get the mule-deer than it was to get the white 
goats, for the latter were infinitely more conspicuous, 
were slower in their movements, and bolder and less shy. 
Almost the only way we succeeded in killing the deer 
was by finding one of their well-trodden paths and lying 
in wait beside it very early in the morning or quite late 
in the afternoon. The season was August and September, 
and the deer were astir long before sunset. They usually, 
but not always, lay high up on the mountain-sides, and 
while they sometimes wandered to and fro browsing on 
the mountains, they often came down to feed in the val- 
leys, where the berries were thicker. Their paths were 
well beaten, although, like all game trails, after being 
as plainly marked as a pony track for a quarter of a 
mile or so, they would suddenly grow faint and vanish. 
The paths ran nearly straight up and down hill, and even 
when entirely undisturbed, the deer often came down 
them at a great rate, bouncing along in a way that showed 
that they had no fear of developing the sprung knees 
which we should fear for a domestic animal which habit- 
ually tried the same experiment. 

In other habits also the deer vary widely in different 
localities. For instance, there is an absolute contrast as 
regards their migratory habits between the mule-deer 
which live in the Bad Lands along the Little Missouri, 
and those which live in northwestern Colorado ; and this 
difference is characteristic generally of the deer which 
in the summer dwell in the high mountains, as contrasted 
with those which bear and rear their young in the low, 
broken hill-country. Along the Little Missouri there 



232 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



was no regular or clearly defined migration of the mule- 
deer in a mass. Some individuals, or groups of individ- 
uals, shifted their quarters for a few miles, so that in the 
spring, for instance, a particular district of a few square 
miles, in which they had been abundant before, might 
be wholly without them. But there were other districts, 
which happened to afford at all times sufficient food and 
shelter, in which they were to be found the year round; 
and the animals did not band and migrate as the prong- 
bucks did in the same region. In the immediate neigh- 
borhood of my ranch there were groups of high hills 
containing springs of water, good grass, and an abun- 
dance of cedar, ash, and all kinds of brush in which the 
mule-deer were permanent residents. There were big 
dry creeks, with well-wooded bottoms, lying among rug- 
ged hills, in which I have found whitetail and mule-deer 
literally within a stone's throw of one another. I once 
started from two adjoining pockets in this particular 
creek two does, each with a fawn, one being a mule-deer 
and the other a whitetail. On another occasion, on an 
early spring afternoon, just before the fawns were born, 
I came upon a herd of twenty whitetails, does, and young 
of the preceding year, grazing greedily on the young 
grass; and half a mile up the creek, in an almost exactly 
similar locality, I came upon just such a herd of mule- 
deer. In each case the animals were so absorbed in the 
feasting, which was to make up for their winter priva- 
tions, that I was able to stalk to within fifty yards, though 
of course I did not shoot. 

In northwestern Colorado the conditions are entirely 



THE MULE-DEER 233 

different. Throughout this region there are no whitetail 
and never have been, although in the winter range of 
the mule-deer there are a few prongbuck; and the wapiti 
once abounded. The mule-deer are still plentiful. They 
make a complete migration summer and winter, so that 
in neither season is a single individual to be found in 
the haunts they frequent during the other season. In 
the summer they live and bring forth their young high up 
in the main chain of the mountains, in a beautiful country 
of northern forest growth, dotted with trout-filled brooks 
and clear lakes. The snowfall is so deep in these wooded 
mountains that the deer would run great risk of perish- 
ing if they stayed therein, and indeed could only winter 
there at all in very small numbers. Accordingly, when 
the storms begin in the fall, usually about the first of 
October, just before the ruf, the deer assemble in bands 
and move west and south to the lower, drier country, 
where the rugged hills are here and there clothed with 
an open growth of pinyon and cedar, instead of the tall 
spruces and pines of the summer range. The migrating 
bands follow one another along definite trails over moun- 
tains, through passes and valleys, and across streams; and 
their winter range swarms with them a few days after 
the forerunners have put in their appearance in what has 
been, during the summer, an absolutely deerless country. 
In January and February, 1901, I spent five weeks 
north of the White River, in northwestern Colorado. It 
was in the heart of the wintering ground of the great 
Colorado mule-deer herd. Forty miles away to the east, 
extending north, lay the high mountains in which these 



234 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



deer had spent the summer. The winter range, in which 
I was at the time hunting cougars, is a region of com- 
paratively light snowfall, though the cold is bitter. On 
several occasions during my stay the thermometer went 
down to twenty degrees below zero. The hills, or low 
mountains, for it was difficult to know which to call 
them, were steep and broken, and separated by narrow 
flats covered with sage-brush. The ordinary trees were 
the pinyon and cedar, which were scattered in rather 
open groves over the mountain-sides and the spurs be- 
tween the ravines. There were also patches of quaking 
asp, scrub oak, and brush. The entire country was thinly 
covered with ranches, and there were huge pastures en- 
closed by wire fences. I have never seen the mule-deer 
so numerous anywhere as they were in this country at 
this time; although in 1883, on the Little Missouri, they 
were almost as plentiful. There was not a day we did 
not see scores, and on some days we saw hundreds. Fre- 
quently they were found in small parties of two or three, 
or a dozen individuals, but on occasions we saw bands 
of thirty or forty. Only rarely were they found singly. 
The fawns were of course well grown, being eight or 
nine months old, and long out of the spotted coat. They 
were still accompanying their mothers. Ordinarily a 
herd would consist of does, fawns, and yearlings, the 
latter carrying their first antlers. But it was not pos- 
sible to lay down a universal rule. Again and again 
I saw herds in which there were one or two full-grown 
bucks associating with the females and younger deer. 
At other times we came across small bands of full- 



THE MULE-DEER 235 

grown bucks by themselves, and occasionally a solitary 
buck. Considering the extent to which these deer must 
have been persecuted, I did not think them shy. We 
were hunting on horseback, and had hounds with us, so 
we made no especial attempt to avoid noise. Yet very 
frequently we would come close on the deer before they 
took alarm; and even when alarmed they would some- 
times trot slowly off, halting and looking back. On one 
occasion, in some bad lands, we came upon four bucks 
which had been sunning themselves on the face of a clay 
wall. They jumped up and went off one at a time, very 
slowly, passing diagonally by us, certainly not over 
seventy yards off. All four could have been shot with- 
out effort, and as they had fine antlers I should certainly 
have killed one, had it been the open season. 

When we came on these Colorado mule-deer sud- 
denly, they generally behaved exactly as their brethren 
used to in the old days on the Little Missouri; that is, 
they would run off at a good speed for a hundred yards 
or so, then slow up, halt, gaze inquisitively at us for 
some seconds, and again take to flight. While the sun 
was strong they liked to lie out in the low brush on 
slopes where they would get the full benefit of the heat. 
During the heavy snowstorms they usually retreated into 
some ravine where the trees grew thicker than usual, not 
stirring until the weight of the storm was over. Most 
of the night, especially if it was moonlight, they fed; 
but they were not at all regular about this. I frequently 
saw them standing up and grazing, or more rarely brows- 
ing, in the middle of the day, and in the late afternoon 



236 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

they often came down to graze on the flats within view 
of the different ranch-houses where I happened to stop. 
The hours for feeding and resting, however, always vary 
accordingly as the deer are or are not persecuted. In 
wild localities I have again and again found these deer 
grazing at all hours of the day, and coming to water 
at high noon ; whereas, where they have been much per- 
secuted, they only begin to feed after dusk, and come to 
water after dark. Of course during this winter weather 
they could get no water, snow supplying its place. 

I was immensely interested with the way they got 
through the wire fences. A mule-deer is a great jumper; 
I have known them to clear with ease high timber corral 
fences surrounding hayricks. If the animals had chosen, 
they could have jumped any of the wire fences I saw; 
yet never in a single instance did I see one of them so 
jump a fence, nor did I ever find in the tell-tale snow 
tracks which indicated their having done so. They paid 
no heed whatever to the fences, so far as I could see, and 
went through them at will; but they always got between 
the wires, or went under the lowest wire. The dexterity 
with which they did this was extraordinary. When 
alarmed they would run full speed toward a wire fence, 
would pass through it, often hardly altering their stride, 
and never making any marks in the snow which looked 
as though they had crawled. Twice I saw bands thus 
go through a wire fence, once at speed, the other time 
when they were not alarmed. On both occasions they 
were too far oflF to allow me to see exactly their mode 
of procedure, but on examining the snow where they had 



THE MULE-DEER 



237 



passed, there was not the slightest mark of their bodies, 
and the alteration in their gait, as shown by the footprints, 
was hardly perceptible. In one instance, however, where 
I scared a young buck which ran over a hill and through 
a wire fence on the other side, I found one of his antlers 
lying beside the fence, it having evidently been knocked 
off by the wire. Their antlers were getting very loose, 
and toward the end of our stay they had begun to shed 
them. 

The deer were preyed on by many foes. Sportsmen 
and hide-hunters had been busy during the fall migra- 
tions, and the ranchmen of the neighborhood were shoot- 
ing them occasionally for food, even when we were 
out there. The cougars at this season were preying upon 
them practically to the exclusion of everything else. We 
came upon one large fawn which had been killed by a 
bobcat. The gray wolves were also preying upon them. 
A party of these wolves can sometimes run down even 
an unwounded blacktail; I have myself known of their 
performing this feat. Twice on this very hunt we came 
across the carcasses of blacktail which had thus been 
killed by wolves, and one of the cow-punchers at a ranch 
where we were staying came in and reported to us that 
while riding among the cattle that afternoon he had seen 
two coyotes run a young mule-deer to a standstill, and 
they would without doubt have killed it had they not 
been frightened by his approach. Still the wolf is very 
much less successful than the cougar in killing these deer, 
and even the cougar continually fails in his stalks. But 
the deer were so plentiful that at this time all the cougars 



238 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

we killed were very fat, and evidently had no difficulty 
in getting as much venison as they needed. The wolves 
were not as well ofif, and now and then made forays on 
the young stock of the ranchmen, which at this season 
the cougar let alone, reserving his attention to them for 
the summer season when the deer had vanished. 

In the Big Horn Mountains, where I also saw a good 
deal of the mule-deer, their habits were intermediate 
between those of the species that dwell on the plains and 
those that dwell in the densely timbered regions of the 
Rockies farther to the northwest. In the summer time 
they lived high up on the plateaus of the Big Horn, some- 
times feeding in the open glades and sometimes in the 
pine forests. In the fall they browsed on certain of the 
bushes almost exclusively. In winter they came down 
into the low country. South of the Yellowstone Park, 
where the wapiti swarmed, the mule-deer were not nu- 
merous. I believe that by choice they prefer rugged, open 
country, and they certainly care comparatively little for 
bad weather, as they will often visit bleak, wind-swept 
ridges in midwinter, as being places where they can best 
get food at that season, when the snow lies deep in the 
sheltered places. Nevertheless, many of the species pass 
their whole life in thick timber. 

My chief opportunities for observing the mule-deer 
were in the eighties, when I spent much of my time on 
my ranch on the Little Missouri. Mule-deer were then 
very plentiful, and I killed more of them than of all 
other game put together. At that time in the cattle coun- 
try no ranchman ever thought of killing beef, and if 



THE MULE-DEER 239 

we had fresh meat at all it was ordinarily venison. In 
the fall we usually tried to kill enough deer to last out the 
winter. Until the settlers came in, the Little Missouri 
country was an ideal range for mule-deer, and they fairly 
swarmed; while elk were also plentiful, and the restless 
herds of the buffalo surged at intervals through the land. 
After 1882 and 1883 the buffalo and elk were killed out, 
the former completely, and the latter practically, and 
by that time the skin-hunters, and then the ranchers, 
turned their attention chiefly to the mule-deer. It lived 
in open country where there was cover for the stalker, 
and so it was much easier to kill than either the whitetail, 
which was found in the dense cover of the river bottoms, 
or the prongbuck, which was found far back from the 
river, on the flat prairies where there was no cover at 
all. I have been informed of other localities in which 
the antelope has disappeared long before the mule-deer, 
and I believe that in the Rockies the mule-deer has a 
far better chance of survival than the antelope has on 
the plains; but on the Little Missouri the antelope con- 
tinued plentiful long after the mule-deer had become 
decidedly scarce. In 1886 I think the antelope were 
fully as abundant as ever they were, while the mule-deer 
had wofully diminished. In the early nineties there were 
still regions within thirty or forty miles of my ranch 
where the antelope were very plentiful — far more so than 
the mule-deer were at that time. Now they are both 
scarce along the Little Missouri, and which will outlast 
the other I cannot say. 

In the old days, as I have already said, it was by no 



240 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

means infrequent to see both the whitetail and the mule- 
deer close together, and when, under such circumstances, 
they were alarmed, one got a clear idea of the extraor- 
dinary gait which is the mule-deer's most striking char- 
acteristic. It trots well, gallops if hard pressed, and is 
a good climber, though much inferior to the mountain 
sheep. But its normal gait consists of a series of stif¥- 
legged bounds, all four feet leaving and striking the 
ground at the same time. This gait differs more from 
the gait of bighorn, prongbuck, whitetail, and wapiti 
than the gaits of these latter animals differ among them- 
selves. The wapiti, for instance, rarely gallops, but when 
he does, it is a gallop of the ordinary type. The prong- 
buck runs with a singularly even gait; whereas the white- 
tail makes great bounds, some much higher than others. 
But fundamentally in all cases the action is the same, 
and has no resemblance to the stiff-legged buck jumping 
which is the ordinary means of progression of the mule- 
deer. These jumps carry it not only on the level, but 
up and down hill at a great speed. It is said to be a tire- 
some gait for the animal, if hunted for any length of 
time on the level; but of this I cannot speak with full 
knowledge. 

Compared to the wapiti, the mule-deer, like our other 
small deer, is a very silent animal. For a long time I 
believed it uttered no sound beyond the snort of alarm 
and the rare bleat of the doe to her fawn; but one after- 
noon I heard two bucks grunting or barking at one an- 
other in a ravine back of the ranch-house, and crept up 
and shot them. I was still uncertain whether this was 



THE MULE-DEER 241 

an indication of a regular habit; but a couple of years 
later, on a moonlight night just after sunset, I heard a 
big buck travelling down a ravine and continually bark- 
ing, evidently as a love challenge. I have been informed 
by some hunters that the bucks at the time of the rut 
not infrequently thus grunt and bark; but most hunters 
are ignorant of this habit; and it is certainly not a com- 
mon practice. 

The species is not nearly as gregarious as the wapiti 
or caribou. During the winter the bucks are generally 
found singly, or in small parties by themselves, although 
occasionally one will associate with a party of does and of 
young deer. When in May or June — for the exact time 
varies with the locality — the doe brings forth her young, 
she retires to some lonely thicket. Sometimes one and 
sometimes two fawns are brought forth. They lie very 
close for the first few days. I have picked them up and 
handled them without their making the slightest effort to 
escape, while the mother hung about a few hundred 
yards off. On one occasion I by accident surprised a 
doe in the very act of giving birth to two fawns. One 
had just been born and the other was born as the doe 
made her first leap away. She ran off with as much 
speed and unconcern as if nothing whatever had hap- 
pened. I passed on immediately, lest she should be so 
frightened as not to come back to the fawns. It has hap- 
pened that where I have found the newly borri fawns I 
have invariably found the doe to be entirely alone, but 
her young of the previous year must sometimes at least 
be in the neighborhood, for a little later I have frequently 



242 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

seen the doe and her fawn or fawns, and either one or two 
young of the previous year, together. Often, however, 
these young deer will be alone, or associated with an older 
doe which is barren. The bucks at the same time go to 
secluded places; sometimes singly, while sometimes an 
old buck will be accompanied by a younger one, or a 
couple of old bucks will lie together. They move about 
as little as possible while their horns are growing, and 
if a hunter comes by, they will lie far closer than at any 
other time of the year, squatting in the dense thickets 
as if they were whitetails. 

When in the Bad Lands of the Western Dakotas the 
late September breezes grow cold, then the bucks, their 
horns already clean of velvet which they have thrashed off 
on the bushes and saplings, feel their necks begin to swell ; 
and early in October — sometimes not until November — 
they seek the does. The latter, especially the younger 
ones, at first flee in frantic haste. As the rut goes on the 
bucks become ever bolder and more ardent. Not only 
do they chase the does by night, but also by day. I have 
sat on the side of a ravine in the Bad Lands at noon 
and seen a young doe race past me as if followed by a 
wolf. When she was out of sight a big buck appeared 
on her trail, following it by scent, also at speed. When 
he had passed I got up, and the motion frightened a 
younger buck which was following two or three hundred 
yards in the rear of the big one. After a while the doe 
yields, and the buck then accompanies her. If, however, 
it is early in the season, he may leave her entirely in 
order to run after another doe. Later in the season he 



THE MULE-DEER 243 

will have a better chance of adding the second doe to his 
harem, or of robbing another buck of the doe or does 
which he has accumulated. I have often seen merely 
one doe and one buck together, and I have often seen a 
single doe which for several days was accompanied by 
several bucks, one keeping off the others. But generally 
the biggest bucks collect each for himself several does, 
yearlings also being allowed in the band. The exact 
amount of companionship with the does allowed these 
young bucks depends somewhat upon the temper of the 
master buck. In books by imperfectly informed writers 
we often see allusions to the buck as protecting the 
doe, or even taking care of the fawn. Charles Dudley 
Warner, for instance, in describing with great skill and 
pathos an imaginary deer hunt, after portraying the death 
of the doe, portrays the young fawn as following the buck 
when the latter comes back to it in the evening.* As a 
matter of fact, while the fawn is so young as to be wholly 
dependent upon the doe, the buck never comes near 
either. Moreover, during the period when the buck and 
the doe are together, the buck's attitude is merely that of 
a brutal, greedy, and selfish tyrant. He will unhesitat- 
ingly rob the doe of any choice bit of food, and though 
he will fight to keep her if another buck approaches, the 
moment that a dangerous foe appears his one thought is 
for his own preservation. He will not only desert the 
doe, but if he is an old and cunning buck, he will try his 

* While the situation thus described was an impossible one, the purpose of 
Mr. Warner's article was excellent, it being intended as a protest against hunt- 
ing deer while the fawns are young, and against killmg them in the water. 



244 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

best to sacrifice her by diverting the attention of the pur- 
suer to her and away from him. 

By the end of the rut the old bucks are often ex- 
hausted, their sides are thin, their necks swollen; though 
they are never as gaunt as wapiti bulls at this time. They 
then rest as much as possible, feeding all the time to put 
on fat before winter arrives, and rapidly attaining a very 
high condition. 

Except in dire need no one would kill a deer after 
the hard weather of winter begins or before the antlers 
of the buck are full-grown and the fawns are out of the 
spotted coat. Even in the old days we, who lived in the 
ranch country, always tried to avoid killing deer in the 
spring or early summer, though we often shot buck ante- 
lope at those times. The close season for deer varies in 
different States, and now there is generally a limit set to 
the number any one hunter can kill ; for the old days of 
wasteful plenty are gone forever. 

To my mind there is a peculiar fascination in hunt- 
ing the mule-deer. By the time the hunting season has 
arrived the buck is no longer the slinking beast of the 
thicket, but a bold and yet wary dweller in the up- 
lands. Frequently he can be found clear of all cover, 
often at midday, and his habits at this season are, from 
the hunter's standpoint, rather more like those of the 
wapiti than of the whitetail; but each band, though con- 
tinually shifting its exact position, stays permanently 
in the same tract of country, whereas wapiti are apt to 
wander. 

In the old days, when mule-deer were plentiful in 



THE MULE-DEER 245 

country through which a horse could go at a fair rate 
of speed, it was common for the hunter to go on horse- 
back, and not to dismount save at the moment of the 
shot. In the early eighties, while on my ranch on the 
Little Missouri, this was the way in which I usually 
hunted. When I first established my ranch I often went 
out, in the fall, after the day's work was over, and killed 
a deer before dark. If it was in September, I would 
sometimes start after supper. Later in the year I would 
take supper when I got back. Under such circumstances 
my mode of procedure was simple. Deer were plentiful. 
Every big tangle of hills, every set of grassy coulees wind- 
ing down to a big creek bottom, was sure to contain them. 
The time being short, with at most only an hour or two 
of light, I made no effort to find the tracks of a deer 
or to spy one afar ofif. I simply rode through the likely 
places, across the heads of the ravines or down the wind- 
ing valleys, until I jumped a deer close enough up to give 
me a shot. The unshod hoofs of the horse made but lit- 
tle noise as he shuffled along at the regular cow-pony 
fox trot, and I kept him close into the bank or behind 
cover, so as to come around each successive point with- 
out warning. If the ground was broken and rugged, I 
made no attempt to go fast. If, on the other hand, I 
struck a smooth ravine with gentle curves, I would often 
put the pony to a sharp canter or gallop, so as to come 
quickly on any deer before it could quite make up its 
mind what course was best to follow. Sooner or later, 
as I passed a thick clump of young ash or buck brush, 
or came abruptly around a sharp bend, there would be 



246 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

a snort, and then the thud, thud, thud, of four hoofs strik- 
ing the ground exactly in unison, and away would go a 
mule-deer with the peculiar bounding motion of its kind. 
The pony, well accustomed to the work, stopped short, 
and I was off its back in an instant. If the deer had 
not made out exactly what I was, it would often show 
by its gait that it was not yet prepared to run straight 
out of sight. Under such circumstances I would wait 
until it stopped and turned round to look back. If it 
was going very fast, I took the shot running. Once I 
put up a young buck from some thick brush in the bot- 
tom of a winding washout. I leaped ofif the pony, stand- 
ing within ten yards of the washout. The buck went up 
a hill on my left, and as he reached the top and paused 
for a second on the sky-line, I fired. At the shot there 
was a great scrambling and crashing in the washout be- 
low me, and another and larger buck came out and tore 
off in frantic haste. I fired several shots at him, finally 
bringing him down. Meanwhile, the other buck had 
disappeared, but there was blood on his trail, and I found 
him lying down in the next coulee, and finished him. 
This was not much over a mile from the ranch-house, 
and after dressing the deer, I put one behind the saddle 
and one on it, and led the pony home. 

Such hunting, though great fun, does not imply any 
particular skill either in horsemanship, marksmanship, or 
plainscraft and knowledge of the animal's habits; and 
it can of course be followed only where the game is very 
plentiful. Ordinarily the mule-deer must be killed by 
long tramping among the hills, skilful stalking, and good 



THE MULE-DEER 247 

shooting. The successful hunter should possess good eyes, 
good wind, and good muscles. He should know how to 
take cover and how to use his rifle. The work is suf- 
ficiently rough to test any man's endurance, antl yet there 
is no such severe and intense toil as in following true 
mountain game, like the bighorn or white goat. As the 
hunter's one aim is to see the deer before it sees him, 
he can only use the horse to take him to the hunting- 
ground. Then he must go through the most likely 
ground and from every point of vantage scan with mi- 
nute care the landscape round about, while himself un- 
seen. If the country is wild and the deer have not been 
much molested, he will be apt to come across a band 
that is feeding. Under such circumstances it is easy to 
see them at once. But if lying down, it is astonishing 
how the gray of their winter coats fits in with the color 
of their surroundings. Too often I have looked carefully 
over a valley with my glasses until, thinking I had 
searched every nook, I have risen and gone forward, only 
to see a deer rise and gallop off out of range from some 
spot which I certainly thought I had examined with all 
possible precaution. If the hunter is not himself hidden, 
he will have his labor for his pains. Neither the mule- 
deer nor the whitetail is by any means as keen-sighted as 
the pronghorn antelope, and men accustomed chiefly to 
antelope shooting are quite right in speaking of the sight 
of deer as poor by comparison. But this is only by com- 
parison. A motionless object does not attract the deer's 
gaze as it attracts the telescopic eye of a prongbuck; but 
any motion is seen at once, and as soon as this has oc- 



248 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

curred, the chances of the hunter are usually at an end. 
On the other hand, from the nature of its haunts the mule- 
deer usually offers fairly good opportunities for stalking. 
It is not as big or as valuable as the elk, and therefore 
it is not as readily seen or as eagerly followed, and in 
consequence holds its own better. But though the sport 
it yields calls normally for a greater amount of hardihood 
and endurance in the hunter than is the case with the 
sport yielded by the prongbuck, and especially by the 
whitetail, yet when existing in like numbers it is easier 
to kill than either of these two animals. 

Sometimes in the early fall, when hunting from the 
ranch, I have spent the night in some likely locality, sleep- 
ing rolled up in a blanket on the ground so as to be ready 
to start at the first streak of dawn. On one such occa- 
sion a couple of mule-deer came to where my horse was 
picketed just before I got up. I heard them snort or 
whistle, and very slowly unwrapped myself from the 
blanket, turned over, and crawled out, rifle in hand. 
Overhead the stars were paling in the faint gray light, 
but the ravine in which the deer were was still so black 
that, watch as I would, I could not see them. I feared to 
move around lest I might disturb them, but after wig- 
gling toward a little jutting shoulder I lay still to wait 
for the light. They went off, however, while it was still 
too dusk to catch more than their dim and formless out- 
lines, and though I followed them as rapidly and cau- 
tiously as possible, I never got a shot at them. On other 
occasions fortune has favored me, and before the sun rose 
I have spied some buck leisurely seeking his day bed. 



THE MULE-DEER 249 

and have been able either to waylay him or make a run- 
ning stalk on him from behind. 

In the old days it was the regular thing with most 
ranchmen to take a trip in the fall for the purpose of 
laying in the winter's supply of venison. I frequently 
took such trips myself, and though occasionally we killed 
wapiti, bighorn, prongbuck, and whitetail, our ordinary 
game was the mule-deer. Around my ranch it was not 
necessary to go very far. A day's journey with the wagon 
would usually take us to where a week's hunting would 
enable us to return with a dozen deer or over. If there 
was need of more, I would repeat the hunt later on. I 
have several times killed three of these deer in a day, 
but I do not now recall ever killing a greater number. 
It is perhaps unnecessary to say that every scrap of flesh 
was used. 

These hunts were always made late in the fall, usually 
after the close of the rut. The deer were then banded, 
and were commonly found in parties of from three or 
four to a score, although the big bucks might be lying 
by themselves. The weather was apt to be cold, and the 
deer evidently liked to sun themselves, so that at mid- 
day they could be found lying sometimes in thin brush 
and sometimes boldly out on the face of a clifif or hill. 
If they were unmolested, they would feed at intervals 
throughout the day, and not until the bands had been 
decimated by excessive hunting did they ever spend the 
hours of daylight in hiding. 

On such a hunt our proceedings were simple. The 
nights were longer than the days, and therefore we were 



250 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

away from camp at the first streak of dawn, and might 
not return until long after darkness. All the time be- 
tween was spent in climbing and walking through the 
rugged hills, keeping a sharp lookout for our game. 
Only too often we were seen before we ourselves saw 
the quarry, and even when this was not the case the 
stalks were sometimes failures. Still blank days were not 
very common. Probably every hunter remembers with 
pride some particular stalk. I recall now outwitting a 
big buck which I had seen and failed to get on two suc- 
cessive days. He was hanging about a knot of hills with 
brush on their shoulders, and was not only very watchful, 
but when he lay down always made his bed at the lower 
end of a brush patch, whence he could see into the valley 
below, while it was impossible to approach him from 
above, through the brush, without giving the alarm. On 
the third day I saw him early in the morning, while he 
was feeding. He was very watchful, and I made no at- 
tempt to get near him, simply peeping at him until he 
finally went into a patch of thin brush and lay down. 
As I knew what he was I could distinctly make him out. 
If I had not seen him go in, I certainly never would have 
imagined that he was a deer, even had my eyes been able 
to pick him out at all among the gray shadows and small 
dead tree-tops. Having waited until he was well settled 
down, I made a very long turn and came up behind him, 
only to find that the direction of the wind and the slope 
of the hill rendered it an absolute impossibility to ap- 
proach him unperceived. After careful study of the 
ground I abandoned the effort, and returned to my former 



THE MULE-DEER 251 

position, having spent several hours of considerable labor 
in vain. It v^as now about noon, and I thought I would 
lie still to see what he would do when he got up, and 
accordingly I ate my lunch stretched at full length in 
the long grass which sheltered me from the wind. From 
time to time I peered cautiously between two stones 
toward where the buck lay. It was nearly mid-afternoon 
before he moved. Sometimes mule-deer rise with a sin- 
gle motion, all four legs unbending like springs, so that 
the four hoofs touch the ground at once. This old buck, 
however, got up very slowly, looked about for certainly 
five minutes, and then came directly down the hill and 
toward me. When he had nearly reached the bottom of 
the valley between us he turned to the right and sauntered 
rapidly down it. I slipped back and trotted as fast as 
I could without losing my breath along the hither side 
of the spur which lay between me and the buck. While 
I was out of sight he had for some reason made up his 
mind to hurry, and when I was still fifty yards from the 
end of the spur he came in sight just beyond it, passing 
at a swinging trot. I dropped on one knee so quickly 
that for a moment he evidently could not tell what I 
was — my buckskin shirt and gray slouch-hat fading into 
the color of the background — and halted, looking sharp- 
ly around. Before he could break into flight my bullet 
went through his shoulders. 

Twice I have killed two of these deer at a shot; once 
two bucks, and once a doe and a buck. 

It has proved difficult to keep the mule-deer in cap- 
tivity, even in large private parks or roomy zoological 



252 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

gardens. I think this is because hitherto the experiment 
has been tried east of the Mississippi in an alien habitat. 
The wapiti and whitetail are species that are at home 
over most of the United States, East and West, in rank, 
wet prairies, dense woodland, and dry mountain regions 
alike; but the mule-deer has a far more sharply localized 
distribution. In the Bronx Zoological Gardens, in New 
York, Mr. Hornaday informs me that he has compara- 
tively little difficulty in keeping up the stock alike of 
wapiti and whitetail by breeding — as indeed any visitor 
can see for himself. The same is true in the game pre- 
serves in the wilder regions of New York and New Eng- 
land; but hitherto the mule-deer has offered an even more 
difficult problem in captivity than the pronghorn ante- 
lope. Doubtless the difficulty would be minimized if 
the effort at domestication were made in the neighbor- 
hood of the Rocky Mountains. 

The true way to preserve the mule-deer, however, 
as well as our other game, is to establish on the nation's 
property great nurseries and wintering grounds, such as 
the Yellowstone Park, and then to secure fair play for 
the deer outside these grounds by a wisely planned and 
faithfully executed series of game laws. This is the 
really democratic method of solving the problem. Oc- 
casionally even yet some one will assert that the game 
*' belongs to the people, and should be given over to 
them " — meaning, thereby, that there should be no game 
laws, and that every man should be at liberty indiscrimi- 
nately to kill every kind of wild animal, harmless, useless, 
or noxious, until the day when our woods become wholly 



THE MULE-DEER 253 

bereft of all the forms of higher animal life. Such an 
argument can only be made from the standpoint of those 
big game dealers in the cities who care nothing for the 
future, and desire to make money at the present day by 
a slaughter which in the last analysis only benefits the 
wealthy people who are able to pay for the game; for 
once the game has been destroyed, the livelihood of the 
professional gunner will be taken away. Most emphati- 
cally wild game not on private property does belong to 
the people, and the only way in which the people can 
secure their ownership is by protecting it in the interest 
of all against the vandal few. As we grow older I think 
most of us become less keen about that part of the hunt 
which consists in the killing. I know that as far as I 
am concerned I have long gone past the stage when the 
chief end of a hunting trip was the bag. One or two 
bucks, or enough grouse and trout to keep the camp sup- 
plied, will furnish all the sport necessary to give zest 
and point to a trip in the wilderness. When hunters 
proceed on such a plan they do practically no damage 
to the game. Those who are not willing to act along these 
lines of their own free will, should be made to by the 
State. The people of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, 
and of the States near by, can do a real service, primarily 
to themselves, but secondarily to others also, by framing 
and executing laws which will keep these noble deer as 
permanent denizens of their lofty mountains and beauti- 
ful valleys. There are other things much more impor- 
tant than game laws; but it will be a great mistake to 
imagine, because until recently in Europe game laws have 



254 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



been administered in the selfish interest of one class and 
against the interest of the people as a whole, that here 
in this country, and under our institutions, they would 
not be beneficial to all of our people. So far from game 
laws being in the interest of the few, they are emphatically 
in the interest of the many. The very rich man can stock 
a private game preserve, or journey afar off to where 
game is still plentiful; but it is only where the game 
is carefully preserved by the State that the man of small 
means has any chance to enjoy the keen delight of the 
chase. 

There are many sides to the charm of big game hunt- 
ing; nor should it be regarded as being without its solid 
advantages from the standpoint of national character. 
Always in our modern life, the life of a highly complex 
industrialism, there is a tendency to softening of fibre. 
This is true of our enjoyments; and it is no less true of 
very many of our business occupations. It is not true 
of such work as railroading, a purely modern develop- 
ment, nor yet of work like that of those who man the 
fishing fleets; but it is preeminently true of all occupa- 
tions which cause men to lead sedentary lives in great 
cities. For these men it is especially necessary to provide 
hard and rough play. Of course, if such play is made 
a serious business, the result is very bad; but this does 
not in the least affect the fact that within proper limits 
the play itself is good. Vigorous athletic sports carried 
on in a sane spirit are healthy. The hardy out-of-door 
sports of the wilderness are even healthier. It is a mere 
truism to say that the qualities developed by the hunter 



THE MULE-DEER 



^55 



are the qualities needed by the soldier; and a curious 
feature of the changed conditions of modern warfare is 
that they call, to a much greater extent than during the 
two or three centuries immediately past, for the very 
qualities of individual initiative, ability to live and work 
in the open, and personal skill in the management of 
horse and weapons, which are fostered by a hunter's life. 
No training in the barracks or on the parade-ground is 
as good as the training given by a hard hunting trip in 
which a man really does the work for himself, learns to 
face emergencies, to study country, to perform feats of 
hardihood, to face exposure and undergo severe labor. 
It is an excellent thing for any man to be a good horse- 
man and a good marksman, to be bold and hardy, and 
wonted to feats of strength and endurance, to be able to 
live in the open, and to feel a self-reliant readiness in any 
crisis. Big game hunting tends to produce or develop 
exactly these physical and moral traits. To say that it 
may be pursued in a manner or to an extent which is 
demoralizing, is but to say what can likewise be said of 
all other pastimes and of almost all kinds of serious busi- 
ness. That it can be abused either in the way in which 
it is done, or the extent to which it is carried, does not 
alter the fact that it is in itself a sane and healthy rec- 
reation. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE WAPITI, OR ROUND-HORNED ELK 

The wapiti is the largest and stateliest deer in the 
world. A full-grown bull is as big as a steer. The ant- 
lers are the most magnificent trophies yielded by any 
game animal of America, save the giant Alaskan moose. 
When full grown they are normally of twelve tines ; fre- 
quently the tines are more numerous, but the increase in 
their number has no necessary accompaniment in increase 
in the size of the antlers. The length, massiveness, rough- 
ness, spread, and symmetry of the antlers must all be 
taken into account in rating the value of a head. Antlers 
over fifty inches in length are large; if over sixty, they 
are gigantic. Good heads are getting steadily rarer under 
the persecution which has thinned out the herds. 

Next to the bison the wapiti is of all the big game 
animals of North America the one whose range has 
most decreased. Originally it was found from the Pacific 
coast east across the AUeghanies, through New York to 
the Adirondacks, through Pennsylvania into western 
New Jersey, and far down into the mid-country of Vir- 
ginia and the Carolinas. It extended northward into 
Canada, from the Great Lakes to Vancouver; and south- 
ward into Mexico, along the Rockies. Its range thus 
corresponded roughly with that of the bison, except that 

it went farther west and not so far north. In the early 

256 



THE WAPITI 



257 



colonial days so little heed was paid by writers to the 
teeming myriads of game that it is difficult to trace the 
wapiti's distribution in the Atlantic coast region. It was 
certainly killed out of the Adirondacks long before the 
period when the backwoodsmen were settling the val- 
leys of the Alleghany Mountains; there they found the 
elk abundant, and the stately creatures roamed in great 
bands over Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana 
when the first settlers made their way into what are now 
these States, at the outbreak of the Revolution. These 
first settlers were all hunters, and they followed the wapiti 
(or, as they always called it, the elk) with peculiar eager- 
ness. In consequence its numbers were soon greatly 
thinned, and about the beginning of the present century 
it disappeared from that portion of its former range lying 
south of the Great Lakes and between the Alleghanies 
and the Mississippi. In the northern Alleghanies it held 
its own much longer, the last individual of which I have 
been able to get record having been killed in Pennsyl- 
vania in 1869. Iri the forests of northern Wisconsin, 
northern Michigan, and Minnesota wapiti existed still 
longer, and a very few individuals may still be found. 
A few are left in Manitoba. When Lewis and Clark and 
Pike became the pioneers among the explorers, army of- 
ficers, hunters, and trappers who won for our people the 
great West, they found countless herds of wapiti through- 
out the high plains country from the Mississippi River 
to the Rocky Mountains. Throughout this region it was 
exterminated almost as rapidly as the bison, and by the 
early eighties tJiere only remained a few scattered indi- 



258 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

viduals, in bits of rough country such as the Black Hills, 
the sand-hills of Nebraska, and certain patches of Bad 
Lands along the Little Missouri. Doubtless stragglers 
exist even yet in one or two of these localities. But by 
the time the great buflfalo herds of the plains were com- 
pletely exterminated, in 1883, the wapiti had likewise 
ceased to be a plains animal; the peculiar Californian 
form had also been well-nigh exterminated. 

The nature of its favorite haunts was the chief factor 
in causing it to suffer more than any other game in 
America, save the bison, from the persecution of hunters 
and settlers. The boundaries of its range have shrunk 
in far greater proportion than in the case of any of our 
other game animals, save only the great wild ox, with 
which it was once so commonly associated. The moose, 
a beast of the forest, and the caribou, which, save in the 
far North, is also a beast of the forest, have in most places 
greatly diminished in numbers, and have here and there 
been exterminated altogether from outlying portions of 
their range; but the wapiti, which, when free to choose, 
preferred to frequent the plains and open woods, has 
completely vanished from nine-tenths of the territory 
over which it roamed a century and a quarter ago. Al- 
though it was never found in any one place in such enor- 
mous numbers as the bison and the caribou, it nevertheless 
went in herds far larger than the herds of any other 
American game save the two mentioned, and was for- 
merly very much more abundant within the area of its 
distribution than was the moose within the area of its 
distribution. 



THE WAPITI 259 

This splendid deer affords a good instance of the 
difficulty of deciding what name to use in treating of our 
American game. On the one hand, it is entirely undesir- 
able to be pedantic ; and on the other hand, it seems a pity, 
at a time when speech is written almost as much as spo- 
ken, to use terms which perpetually require explanation 
in order to avoid confusion. The wapiti is not properly 
an elk at all; the term wapiti is unexceptionable, and it 
is greatly to be desired that it should be generally adopted. 
But unfortunately it has not been generally adopted. 
From the time when our backwoodsmen first began to 
hunt the animal among the foothills of the Appalachian 
chains to the present day, it has been universally known 
as elk wherever it has been found. In ordinary speech 
it is never known as anything else, and only an occasional 
settler or hunter would understand what the word wapiti 
referred to. The book name is a great deal better than 
the common name; but after all, it is only a book name. 
The case is almost exactly parallel to that of the buffalo, 
which was really a bison, but which lived as the buffalo, 
died as the buffalo, and left its name imprinted on our 
landscape as the buffalo. There is little use in trying 
to upset a name which is imprinted in our geography in 
hundreds of such titles as Elk Ridge, Elk Mountain, Elk- 
horn River. Yet in the books it is often necessary to 
call it the wapiti in order to distinguish it both from its 
differently named close kinsfolk of the Old World, and 
from its more distant relatives with which it shares the 
name of elk. 

Disregarding the Pacific coast form of Vancouver 



26o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and the Olympian Mountains, the wapiti is now a beast 
of the Rocky Mountain region proper, especially in west- 
ern Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Throughout 
these mountains its extermination, though less rapid than 
on the plains, has nevertheless gone on with melancholy 
steadiness. In the early nineties it was still as abundant 
as ever in large regions in western Wyoming and Mon- 
tana and northwestern Colorado. In northwestern Colo- 
rado the herds are now represented by only a few hundred 
individuals. In western Montana they are scattered over 
a wider region and are protected by the denser timber, 
but are nowhere plentiful. They have nearly vanished 
from the Big Horn Mountains. They are still abundant 
in and around their great nursery and breeding-ground, 
the Yellowstone National Park. If this park could be 
extended so as to take in part of the winter range to the 
south, it would help to preserve them, to the delight of 
all lovers of nature, and to the great pecuniary benefit 
of the people of Wyoming and Montana. But at present 
the winter range south of the park is filling up with 
settlers, and unless the conditions change, those among the 
Yellowstone wapiti which would normally go south will 
more and more be compelled to winter among the moun- 
tains, which will mean such immense losses from starva- 
tion and deep snow that the southern herds will be wo- 
fully thinned.^ Surely all men who care for nature, no 
less than all men who care for big game hunting, should 
combine to try to see that not merely the States but the 
Federal authorities make every effort, and are given every 

* Steps in the direction indicated are now being taken by the Federal authorities. 



THE WAPITI 261 

power, to prevent the extermination of this stately and 
beautiful animal, the lordliest of the deer kind in the 
entire world. 

The wapiti, like the bison, and even more than the 
whitetail deer, can thrive in widely varying surround- 
ings. It is at home among the high mountains, in the 
deep forests, and on the treeless, level plains. It is rather 
omnivorous in its tastes, browsing and grazing on all 
kinds of trees, shrubs and grasses. These traits, and its 
hardihood, make it comparatively easy to perpetuate in 
big parks and forest preserves in a semi-wild condition; 
and it has thriven in such preserves and parks in many 
of the Eastern States. As it does not, by preference, dwell 
in such tangled forests as are the delight of the moose 
and the whitetail deer, it vanishes much quicker than 
either when settlers appear in the land. In the mountains 
and foothills its habitat is much the same as that of the 
mule-deer, the two animals being often found in the im- 
mediate neighborhood of each other. In such places the 
superior size and value of the wapiti put it at a disad- 
vantage in the keen struggle for life, and when the rifle- 
bearing hunter appears upon the scene, it is killed out 
long before its smaller kinsman. 

Moreover, the wapiti is undoubtedly subject to queer 
freaks of panic stupidity, or what seems like a mixture 
of tameness and of puzzled terror. At these times a herd 
will remain almost motionless, the individuals walking 
undecidedly to and fro, and neither flinching nor giving 
any other sign even when hit with a bullet. In the old 
days it was not uncommon for a professional hunter to 



262 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

destroy an entire herd of wapiti when one of these fits 
of confusion was on them. Even nowadays they some- 
times behave in this way. In 1897, Mr. Ansley Wilcox, 
of Buffalo, was hunting in the Teton basin. He came 
across a small herd of wapiti, the first he had ever seen, 
and opened fire when a hundred and fifty yards distant. 
They paid no heed to the shots, and after taking three or 
four at one bull, with seemingly no effect, he ran in closer 
and emptied his magazine at another, also seemingly 
without effect, before the herd slowly disappeared. 
After a few rods, both bulls fell; and on examination 
it was found that all nine bullets had hit them. 

To my mind, the venison of the wapiti is, on the 
whole, better than that of any other wild game, though 
its fat, when cooled, at once hardens, like mutton tallow. 

In its life habits the wapiti differs somewhat from its 
smaller relatives. It is far more gregarious, and is highly 
polygamous. During the spring, while the bulls are 
growing their great antlers, and while the cows have 
very young calves, both bulls and cows live alone, each 
individual for itself. At such time each seeks the most 
secluded situation, often going very high up on the moun- 
tains. Occasionally a couple of bulls lie together, mov- 
ing around as little as possible. The cow at this time 
realizes that her calf's chance of life depends upon her 
absolute seclusion, and avoids all observation. 

As the horns begin to harden the bulls thrash the 
velvet off against quaking asp, or ash, or even young 
spruce, splintering and battering the bushes and small 
trees. The cows and calves begin to assemble; the bulls 



THE WAPITI 263 

seek them. But the bulls do not run the cows as among 
the smaller deer the bucks run the does. The time of 
the beginning of the rut varies in different places, but it 
usually takes place in September, about a month earlier 
than that of the deer in the same locality. The necks 
of the bulls swell and they challenge incessantly, for, un- 
like the smaller deer, they are very noisy. Their love and 
war calls, when heard at a little distance amid the moun- 
tains, have a most musical sound. Frontiersmen usually 
speak of their call as " whistling," which is not an ap- 
propriate term. The call may be given in a treble or in 
a bass, but usually consists of two or three bars, first rising 
and then falling, followed by a succession of grunts. The 
grunts can only be heard when close up. There can 
be no grander or more attractive chorus than the chal- 
lenging of a number of wapiti bulls when two great herds 
happen to approach one another under the moonlight or 
in the early dawn. The pealing notes echo through the 
dark valleys as if from silver bugles, and the air is filled 
with the wild music. Where little molested the wapiti 
challenge all day long. 

They can be easiest hunted during the rut, the hunter 
placing them, and working up to them, by the sound 
alone. The bulls are excessively truculent and pugna- 
cious. Each big one gathers a herd of cows about him 
and drives all possible rivals away from his immediate 
neighborhood, although sometimes spike bulls are al- 
lowed to remain with the herd. Where wapiti are very 
abundant, however, many of these herds may join to- 
gether and become partially welded into a mass that may 



264 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

contain thousands of animals. In the old days such huge 
herds were far from uncommon, especially during the 
migrations; but nowadays there only remain one or two 
localities in which wapiti are sufficiently plentiful ever 
to come together in bands of any size. The bulls are 
incessantly challenging and fighting one another, and 
driving around the cows and calves. Each keeps the 
most jealous watch over his own harem, treating its mem- 
bers with great brutality, and is selfishly indififerent to 
their fate the instant he thinks his own life in jeopardy. 
During the rut the erotic manifestations of the bull are 
extraordinary. 

One or two fawns are born about May. In the moun- 
tains the cow usually goes high up to bring forth her 
fawn. Personally I have only had a chance to observe 
the wapiti in spring in the neighborhood of my ranch 
in the Bad Lands of the Little Missouri. Here the cow 
invariably selected some wild, lonely bit of very broken 
country in which there were dense thickets and some wa- 
ter. There was one such patch some fifteen miles from 
my ranch, in which for many years wapiti regularly bred. 
The breeding cow lay by herself, although sometimes the 
young of the preceding year would lurk in the neigh- 
borhood. For the first few days the calf hardly left the 
bed, and would not move even when handled. Then it 
began to follow the mother. In this particular region 
the grass was coarse and rank, save for a few patches in 
the immediate neighborhood of little alkali springs. Ac- 
cordingly, it was not much visited by the cattle or by the 
cowboys. Doubtless in the happier days of the past, 




THE PACK TRAIN 



THE WAPITI 265 

when man was merely an infrequent interloper, the wapiti 
cows had made their nurseries in pleasanter and more 
fruitful valleys. But in my time the hunted creatures 
had learned that their only chance was to escape observa- 
tion. I have known not only cows with young calves, but 
cows when the calves were out of the spotted coat, and 
even yearlings, to try to escape by hiding — the great 
beasts lying like rabbits in some patch of thick brush, 
while I rode close by. The best hunting horse I ever 
had, old Manitou, in addition to his other useful quali- 
ties, would serve as a guard on such occasions. I would 
leave him on a little hillock to one side of such a patch 
of brush, and as he walked slowly about, grazing and 
rattling his bridle chains, he would prevent the wapiti 
breaking cover on that side, and give me an additional 
chance of slipping around toward them — although if the 
animal was a cow, I never molested it unless in dire 
need of meat. 

Most of my elk-hunting was done among the stupen- 
dous mountain masses of the Rockies, which I usually 
reached after a long journey, with wagon or pack-train, 
over the desolate plains. Ordinarily I planned to get to 
the hunting-ground by the end of August, so as to have 
ample time. By that date the calves were out of the 
spotted coat, the cows and the young of the preceding 
year had banded, and the big bulls had come down to 
join them from the remote recesses in which they had 
been lying, solitary or in couples, while their antlers were 
growing. Many bulls were found alone, or, if young, 
in small parties; but the normal arrangement was for 



266 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

each big bull to have his own harem, around the out- 
skirts of which there were to be found lurking occasional 
spike bulls or two-year-olds who were always venturing 
too near and being chased ofif by the master bull. Fre- 
quently several such herds joined together into a great 
band. Before the season was fairly on, when the bulls 
had not been worked into actual frenzy, there was not 
much fighting in these bands. Later they were the scenes 
of desperate combats. Each master bull strove to keep 
his harem under his own eyes, and was always threaten- 
ing and fighting the other master bulls, as well as those 
bulls whose prowess had proved insufficient hitherto to 
gain them a band, or who, after having gained one, had 
been so exhausted and weakened as to succumb to some 
new aspirant for the leadership. The bulls were calling 
and challenging all the time, and there was ceaseless tur- 
moil, owing to their fights and their driving the cows 
around. The cows were more wary than the bulls, and 
there were so many keen noses and fairly good eyes that 
it was difficult to approach a herd; whereas the single 
bulls were so noisy, careless, and excited that it was com- 
paratively easy to stalk them. A rutting wapiti bull is as 
wicked-looking a creature as can be imagined, swagger- 
ing among the cows and threatening the young bulls, his 
jaws mouthing and working in a kind of ugly leer. 

The bulls fight desperately with one another. The 
two combatants come together with a resounding clash 
of antlers, and then push and strain with their mouths 
open. The skin on their necks and shoulders is so thick 
and tough that the great prongs cannot get through or 



THE WAPITI 267 

do more than inflict bruises. The only danger comes 
when the beaten party turns to flee. The victor pursues 
at full speed. Usually the beaten one gets off; but if by 
accident he is caught where he cannot escape, he is very 
apt to be gored in the flank and killed. Mr. Baillie- 
Grohman has given a very interesting description of one 
such fatal duel of which he was an eye-witness on a moon- 
light night in the mountains. I have never known of the 
bull trying to protect the cow from any enemy. He 
battles for her against rivals with intense ferocity; but 
his attitude toward her, once she is gained, is either that 
of brutality or of indifference. She will fight for her 
calf against any enemy which she thinks she has a chance 
of conquering, although of course not against man. But 
the bull leaves his family to their fate the minute he 
thinks there is any real danger. During the rut he is 
greatly excited, and does not fear a dog or a single wolf, 
and may join with the rest of the herd of both sexes in 
trying to chase off one or the other, should he become 
aware of its approach. But if there is serious danger, 
his only thought is for himself, and he has no compunc- 
tions about sacrificing any of his family. When on the 
move a cow almost always goes first, while the bull brings 
up the rear. 

In domestication the bulls are very dangerous to 
human beings, and will kill a man at once if they can 
get him at a disadvantage; but in a state of nature they 
rarely indeed overcome their abject terror of humanity, 
even when wounded and cornered. Of course, if the man 
comes straight up to him where he cannot get away, a 



268 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

wapiti will fight as, under like circumstances, a blacktail 
or whitetail will fight, and equally, of course, he is then 
far more dangerous than his smaller kinsfolk; but he is 
not nearly so apt to charge as a bull moose. I have never 
known but two authentic instances of their thus charg- 
ing. One happened to a hunter named Bennett, on the 
Little Missouri; the other to a gentleman I met, a doctor, 
in Meeker, Colorado. The doctor had wounded his 
wapiti, and as it was in the late fall, followed him easily 
in the snow. Finally he came upon the wapiti standing 
where the snow was very deep at the bottom of a small 
valley, and on his approach the wapiti deliberately 
started to break his way through the snow toward him, 
and had almost reached him when he was killed. But 
for every one such instance of a wapiti's charging there 
are a hundred in which a bull moose has charged. Sena- 
tor Redfield Proctor was charged most resolutely by a 
mortally hurt bull moose which fell in the death throes 
just before reaching him; and I could cite case after 
case of the kind. 

The wapiti's natural gaits are a walk and a trot. It 
walks very fast indeed, especially if travelling to reach 
some given point. More than once I have sought to over- 
take a travelling bull, and have found myself absolutely 
unable to do so, although it never broke its walk. Of 
course, if I had not been obliged to pay any heed to cover 
or wind, I could have run up on it; but the necessity 
for paying heed to both handicapped me so that I was 
actually unable to come up to the quarry as it swung 
steadily on through woodland and open, over rough 



THE WAPITI 269 

ground and smooth. Wapiti have a slashing trot, which 
they can keep up for an indefinite time and over any 
kind of country. Only a good pony can overtake them 
when they have had any start and have settled into this 
trot. If much startled they break into a gallop — the 
young being always much more willing to gallop than 
the old. Their gallop is very fast, especially downhill. 
But they speedily tire under it. A yearling or a two-year- 
old can keep it up for a couple of miles. A heavy old 
bull will be done out after a few hundred yards. I once 
saw a band of wapiti frightened into a gallop down a 
steep incline where there were also a couple of mule- 
deer. I had not supposed that wapiti ran as fast as mule- 
deer, but this particular band actually passed the deer, 
though the latter were evidently doing their best; the 
wapiti were well ahead, when, after thundering down the 
steep, broken incline, they all disappeared into a belt 
of woodland. In spite of their size, wapiti climb well 
and go sure-footedly over difficult and dangerous ground. 
They have a habit of coming out to the edges of cliffs, 
or on mountain spurs, and looking over the landscape 
beneath, almost as though they enjoyed the scenery. 
What their real object is on such occasions I do not 
know. 

The nose of the wapiti is very keen. Its sight is much 
inferior to that of the antelope, but about as good as a 
deer's. Its hearing is also much like that of a deer. 
When in country where it is little molested, it feeds and 
moves about freely by day, lying down to rest at inter- 
vals, like cattle. Wapiti oflfer especial attractions to the 



270 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



hunter, and next to the bison are more quickly exter- 
minated than any other kind of game. Only the fact that 
they possessed a far wider range of habitat than either 
the mule-deer, the prongbuck, or the moose, has enabled 
them still to exist. Their gregariousness is also against 
them. Even after the rut the herds continue together 
until in midspring the bulls shed their antlers — for they 
keep their antlers at least two months longer than deer. 
During the fall, winter, and early spring wapiti are rov- 
ing, restless creatures. Their habit of migration varies 
with locality, as among mule-deer. Along the little Mis- 
souri, as in the plains country generally, there was no 
well-defined migration. Up to the early eighties, when 
wapiti were still plentiful, the bands wandered far and 
wide, but fitfully and irregularly, wholly without regard 
to the season, save that they were stationary from May 
to August. After 1883 there were but a few individuals 
left, although as late as 1886 I once came across a herd 
of nine. These surviving individuals had learned cau- 
tion. The bulls only called by night, and not very 
frequently then, and they spent the entire year in the 
roughest and most out-of-the-way places, having the same 
range both winter and summer. They selected tracts 
where the ground was very broken and there was much 
shrubbery and patches of small trees. This tree and 
bush growth gave them both shelter and food; for they 
are particularly fond of browsing on the leaves and ten- 
der twig ends, though they also eat weeds and grass. 

Wherever wapiti dwell among the mountains they 
make regular seasonal migrations. In northwestern 



THE WAPITI 



271 



Wyoming they spend the summer in the Yellowstone 
National Park, but in winter some go south to Jackson's 
Hole, while others winter in the park to the northeast. 
In northwestern Colorado their migrations followed 
much the same line as those of the mule-deer. In dif- 
ferent localities the length of the migration, and even the 
time, differed. There were some places where the shift 
was simply from the high mountains down to their foot- 
hills. In other places great herds travelled a couple of 
hundred miles, so that localities absolutely barren one 
month would be swarming with wapiti the next. In 
some places the shift took place as early as the month 
of August; in others not until after the rut, in October 
or even November; and in some places the rut took place 
during the migration. 

No chase is more fascinating than that of the wapiti. 
In the old days, when the mighty antlered beasts were 
found upon the open plains, they could be followed upon 
horseback, with or without hounds. Nowadays, when 
they dwell in the mountains, they are to be killed only 
by the rifle-bearing still-hunter. Needless butchery of 
any kind of animal is repulsive, but in the case of the 
wapiti it is little short of criminal. He is the grandest 
of the deer kind throughout the world, and he has al- 
ready vanished from most of the places where he once 
dwelt in his pride. Every true sportsman should feel it 
incumbent upon him to do all in his power to preserve 
so noble a beast of the chase from extinction. No harm 
whatever comes to the species from killing a certain num- 
ber of bulls; but an excessive number should never be 



272 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



killed, and no cow or calf should under any circumstances 
be touched. Formerly, when wapiti were plentiful, it 
would have been folly for hunters and settlers in the 
unexplored wilderness not to kill wild game for their 
meat, and occasionally a cow or a calf had to be thus 
slain; but there is no excuse nowadays for a hunting party 
killing anything but a full-grown bull. 

In a civilized and cultivated country wild animals 
only continue to exist at all when preserved by sports- 
men. The excellent people who protest against all hunt- 
ing, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life, are 
ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sports- 
man is by all odds the most important factor in keeping 
the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total 
extermination. Of course, if wild animals were allowed 
to breed unchecked, they would, in an incredibly short 
space of time, render any country uninhabitable by man 
— a fact which ought to be a matter of elementary knowl- 
edge in any community where the average intelligence 
is above that of certain portions of Hindoostan. Equally, 
of course, in a purely utilitarian community all wild ani- 
mals are exterminated out of hand. In order to preserve 
the wild life of the wilderness at all, some middle ground 
must be found between brutal and senseless slaughter and 
the unhealthy sentimentalism which would just as surely 
defeat its own end by bringing about the eventual total 
extinction of the game. It is impossible to preserve the 
larger wild animals in regions thoroughly fit for agri- 
culture; and it is perhaps too much to hope that the 
larger carnivores can be preserved for merely aesthetic 



THE WAPITI 



273 



reasons. But throughout our country there are large re- 
gions entirely unsuited for agriculture, where, if the peo- 
ple only have foresight, they can, through the power of 
the State, keep the game in perpetuity. There is no hope 
of preserving the bison permanently, save in large private 
parks; but all other game, including not merely deer, 
but the pronghorn, the splendid bighorn, and the stately 
and beautiful wapiti, can be kept on the public lands, if 
only the proper laws are passed, and if only these laws 
are properly enforced. 

Most of us, as we grow older, grow to care relatively 
less for sport than for the splendid freedom and abound- 
ing health of outdoor life in the woods, on the plains, 
and among the great mountains; and to the true nature 
lover it is melancholy to see the wilderness stripped of 
the wild creatures which gave it no small part of its 
peculiar charm. It is inevitable, and probably necessary, 
that the wolf and the cougar should go; but the bighorn 
and white goat among the rocks, the blacktail and wapiti 
grouped on the mountain side, the whitetail and moose 
feeding in the sedgy ponds — these add beyond measure 
to the wilderness landscape, and if they are taken away 
they leave a lack which nothing else can quite make 
good. So it is of those true birds of the wilderness, the 
eagle and the raven, and, indeed, of all the wild things, 
furred, feathered, and finned. 

A peculiar charm in the chase of the wapiti comes 
from the wild beauty of the country in which it dwells. 
The moose lives in marshy forests; if one would seek 
the white goat or caribou of the northern Rockies, he 



274 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

must travel on foot, pack on back; while the successful 
chase of the bighorn, perhaps on the whole the manliest 
of all our sports, means heart-breaking fatigue for any 
but the strongest and hardiest. The prongbuck, again, 
must be followed on the desolate, sun-scorched plains. 
But the wapiti now dwells amid lofty, pine-clad moun- 
tains, in a region of lakes and streams. A man can travel 
in comfort while hunting it, because he can almost al- 
ways take a pack-train with him, and the country is usu- 
ally sufficiently open to enable the hunter to enjoy all 
the charm of distant landscapes. Where the wapiti lives 
the spotted trout swarm in the brooks, and the wood- 
grouse fly upward to perch among the tree-tops as the 
hunter passes them. When hunting him there is always 
sweet cold water to be drunk at night, and beds of aro- 
matic fir boughs on which to sleep, with the blankets 
drawn over one to keep out the touch of the frost. He 
must be followed on foot, and the man who follows him 
must be sound in limb and wind. But his pursuit does 
not normally mean such wearing exhaustion as is en- 
tailed by climbing cliffs all day long after the white 
goat. Whoever has hunted the wapiti, as he looks at his 
trophies will always think of the great mountains with 
the snow lying in the rifts in their sides; of the splashing 
murmur of rock-choked torrents; of the odorous breath 
of the pine branches; of tents pitched in open glades; 
of long walks through cool, open forests; and of great 
camp-fires, where the pitchy stumps flame like giant 
torches in the darkness. 

In the old days, of course, much of the hunting w^as 



THE WAPITI 275 

done on the open plains or among low, rugged hills. The 
wapiti that I shot when living at my Little Missouri 
ranch were killed under exactly the same conditions as 
mule-deer. When I built my ranch-house, wapiti were 
still not uncommon, and their shed antlers were very nu- 
merous both on the bottoms and in places among the hills. 
There was one such place a couple of miles from my 
ranch in a stretch of comparatively barren but very broken 
hill-country in which there were many score of these shed 
antlers. Evidently a few years before this had been a 
great gathering-place for wapiti toward the end of win- 
ter. My ranch itself derived its name, " The Elkhorn," 
from the fact that on the ground where we built it were 
found the skulls and interlocked antlers of two wapiti 
bulls who had perished from getting their antlers fast- 
ened in a battle. I never, however, killed a wapiti while 
on a day's hunt from the ranch itself. Those that I killed 
were obtained on regular expeditions, when I took the 
wagon and drove ofif to spend a night or two on ground 
too far for me to hunt it through in a single day from 
the ranch. Moreover, the wapiti on the Little Missouri 
had been so hunted that they had entirely abandoned the 
diurnal habits of their kind, and it was a great advan- 
tage to get on the ground early. This hunting was not 
carried on amid the glorious mountain scenery which 
marks the home of the wapiti in the Rockies; but the 
surroundings had a charm of their own. All really wild 
scenery is attractive. The true hunter, the true lover 
of the wilderness, loves all parts of the wilderness, just 
as the true lover of nature loves all seasons. There is 



2/6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

no season of the year when the country is not more at- 
tractive than the city; and there is no portion of the wil- 
derness, where game is found, in which it is not a keen 
pleasure to hunt. Perhaps no other kind of country 
quite equals that where snow lies on the lofty mountain 
peaks, where there are many open glades in the pine for- 
ests, and clear mountain lakes and rushing trout-filled 
torrents. But the fantastic desolation of the Bad Lands, 
and the endless sweep of the brown prairies, alike have 
their fascination for the true lover of nature and lover 
of the wilderness who goes through them on foot or on 
horseback. As for the broken hill-country in which I 
followed the wapiti and the mule-deer along the Little 
Missouri, it would be strange indeed if any one found 
it otherwise than attractive in the bright, sharp fall 
weather. Long, grassy valleys wound among the boldly 
shaped hills. The basins were filled with wind-beaten 
trees and brush, which generally also ran alongside of the 
dry watercourses down the middle of each valley. Cedars 
clustered in the sheer ravines, and here and there groups 
of elm and ash grew to a considerable height in the more 
sheltered places. At the first touch of the frost the foliage 
turned russet or yellow — the Virginia creepers crimson. 
Under the cloudless blue sky the air was fresh and cool, 
and as we lay by the camp-fire at night the stars shone 
with extraordinary brilliancy. Under such conditions 
the actual chase of the wapiti was much like that of the 
mule-deer. They had been so hunted that they showed 
none of the foolish traits which they are prone to exhibit 
when bands are found in regions where they have been 



THE WAPITI 



277 



little persecuted ; and they were easier to kill than mule- 
deer simply because they were more readily tracked and 
more readily seen, and offered a larger, and on the whole 
a steadier, mark at which to shoot. When a small band 
had visited a pool their tracks could be identified at once, 
because in the soft ground the flexible feet spread and 
yielded so as to leave the marks of the false hoofs. On 
ordinary ground it was difficult to tell their footprints 
from those of the yearling and two-year-old ranch cattle. 
But the mountains are the true ground for the wapiti. 
Here he must be hunted on foot, and nowadays, since he 
has grown wiser, skill and patience, and the capacity to 
endure fatigue and exposure, must be shown by the suc- 
cessful hunter. My own wapiti-hunting has been done 
in September and early October during the height of 
the rut, and therefore at a time when the conditions were 
most favorable for the hunter. I have hunted them in 
many places throughout the Rockies, from the Big Horn 
in western Wyoming to the Big Hole Basin in western 
Montana, close to the Idaho line. Where I hunted, the 
wapiti were always very noisy both by day and by night, 
and at least half of the bulls that I killed attracted my 
attention by their calling before I saw either them or their 
tracks. At night they frequently passed close to camp, 
or came nearly up to the picketed horses, challenging all 
the time. More than once I slipped out, hoping to kill 
one by moonlight, but I never succeeded. Occasionally, 
when they were plentiful, and were restless and always 
roving about, I simply sat still on a log, until one gave 
me a chance. Sometimes I came across them while hunt- 



278 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ing through likely localities, going up or across wind, 
keeping the sharpest lookout, and moving with great care 
and caution, until I happened to strike the animals I 
was after. More than once I took the trail of a band, 
when out with some first-class woodsman, and after much 
running, dodging, and slipping through the timber, over- 
took the animals — though usually when thus merely fol- 
lowing the trail I failed to come up with them. On two 
different occasions I followed and came up to bands, 
attracted by their scent. Wapiti have a strong, and, on 
the whole, pleasing scent, like that of Alderney cattle, 
although in old bulls it becomes offensively strong. This 
scent is very penetrating. I once smelt a herd which was 
lying quite still taking its noonday siesta, certainly half 
a mile to the windward of me; and creeping up I shot 
a good bull as he lay. On another occasion, while work- 
ing through the tangled trees and underbrush at the bot- 
tom of a little winding valley, I suddenly smelt wapiti 
ahead, and without paying any further attention to the 
search for tracks, I hunted cautiously up the valley, and 
when it forked was able to decide by the smell alone 
which way the wapiti had gone. He was going up 
wind ahead of me, and his ground-covering walk kept 
me at a trot in order to overtake him. Finally I saw 
him, before he saw me, and then, by making a run to 
one side, got a shot at him when he broke cover, and 
dropped him. 

It is exciting to creep up to a calling wapiti. If it 
is a solitary bull, he is apt to be travelling, seeking the 
cows, or on the lookout for some rival of weaker thews. 



THE WAPITI 279 

Under such circumstances only hard running will enable 
the hunter to overtake him, unless there is a chance to 
cut him off. If, however, he hears another bull, or has 
a herd under him, the chances are that he is nearly sta- 
tionary, or at least is moving slowly, and the hunter has 
every opportunity to approach. In a herd the bull him- 
self is usually so absorbed both with his cows and with 
his rivals that he is not at all apt to discover the ap- 
proaching hunter. The cows, however, are thoroughly 
awake, and it is their eyes and keen noses for which the 
hunter must look out. A solitary bull which is answer- 
ing the challenge of another is the easiest of all to 
approach. Of course, if there has been much hunting, 
even such a bull is wary and is on the lookout for harm. 
But in remote localities he becomes so absorbed in finding 
out the whereabouts of his rival, and is so busy answer- 
ing the latter's challenges and going through motions 
of defiance, that with proper care it is comparatively 
easy to approach him. Once, when within seventy yards 
of such a bull, he partly made me out and started toward 
me. Evidently he could not tell exactly what I was — 
my buckskin shirt probably helping to puzzle him — and 
in his anger and eagerness he did not think of danger 
until it was too late. On another occasion I got up to 
two bulls that were fighting, and killed both. In the 
fights, weight of body seems to count for more than size 
of antlers. 

Once I spent the better part of a day in following a 
wapiti bull before I finally got him. Generally when 
hunting wapiti I have been with either one of my men 



28o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

from the ranch or a hunter like Tazewell Woody, or John 
Willis. On this particular occasion, however, I hap- 
pened to be alone ; and though I have rarely been as suc- 
cessful alone as when in the company of some thoroughly 
trained and experienced plainsman or mountainman, yet 
when success does come under such circumstances it is 
always a matter of peculiar pride. 

At the time, I was camped in a beautiful valley 
high among the mountains which divide southwestern 
Montana from Idaho. The weather was cold, and there 
were a couple of inches of snow on the ground, so that 
the conditions were favorable for tracking and stalking. 
The country was well wooded, but the forest was not 
dense, and there were many open glades. Early one 
morning, just about dawn, the cook, who had been up for 
a few minutes, waked me, to say that a bull wapiti was 
calling not far off. I rolled out of my bed and was 
dressed in short order. The bull had by this time passed 
the camp, and was travelling toward a range of moun- 
tains on the other side of the stream which ran down the 
valley bottom. He was evidently not alarmed, for he 
was still challenging. I gulped down a cup of hot coffee, 
munched a piece of hardtack, and thrust four or five other 
pieces and a cold elk tongue into my hunting-shirt, and 
then, as it had grown light enough to travel, started after 
the wapiti. I supposed that in a few minutes I should 
either have overtaken him or abandoned the pursuit, and 
I took the food with me simply because in the wilderness 
it never pays to be unprepared for emergencies. The 
wisdom of such a course was shown in this instance by 



THE WAPITI 281 

the fact that I did not see camp again until long after 
dark. 

I at first tried to cut off the wapiti by trotting through 
the woods toward the pass for which I supposed he was 
headed. The morning was cold, and, as always happens 
at the outset when one starts to take violent exercise under 
such circumstances, the running caused me to break into 
a perspiration; so that the first time I stopped to listen 
for the wapiti a regular fog rose over my glasses and 
then froze on them. I could not see a thing, and after 
wiping them found I had to keep gently moving in order 
to prevent them from clouding over again. It is on 
such cold mornings, or else in very rainy weather, that 
the man who has not been gifted with good eyes is most 
sensible of his limitations. I once lost a caribou which 
I had been following at speed over the snow because 
when I came into sight and halted the moisture instantly 
formed and froze on my glasses so that I could not see 
anything, and before I got them clear the game had van- 
ished. Whatever happened, I was bound that I should 
not lose this wapiti from a similar accident. 

However, when I next heard him he had evidently 
changed his course and was going straight away from me. 
The sun had now risen, and following after him I soon 
found his tracks. He was walking forward with the 
regular wapiti stride, and I made up my mind I had a 
long chase ahead of me. We were going up hill, and 
though I walked hard, I did not trot until we topped the 
crest. Then I jogged along at a good gait, and as I had 
on moccasins, and the woods were open, I did not have 



282 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

to exercise much caution. Accordingly I gained, and 
felt I was about to come up with him, when the wind 
brought down from very far off another challenge. My 
bull heard it before I did, and instantly started toward 
the spot at a trot. There was not the slightest use of my 
attempting to keep up with this, and I settled down into 
a walk. Half an hour afterward I came over a slight 
crest, and immediately saw a herd of wapiti ahead of me, 
across the valley and on an open hillside. The herd was 
in commotion, the master bull whistling vigorously and 
rounding up his cows, evidently much excited at the new 
bull's approach. There were two or three yearlings and 
two-year-old bulls on the outskirts of the herd, and the 
master bull, whose temper had evidently not been 
improved by the coming of the stranger, occasionally 
charged these and sent them rattling off through the 
bushes. The ground was so open between me and them 
that I dared not venture across it, and I was forced to lie 
still and await developments. The bull I had been fol- 
lowing and the herd bull kept challenging vigorously, 
but the former probably recognized in the latter a heavier 
animal, and could not rouse his courage to the point of 
actually approaching and doing battle. It by no means 
follows that the animal with the heaviest body has the best 
antlers, but the hesitation thus shown by the bull I was 
following made me feel that the other would probably 
yield the more valuable trophies, and after a couple of 
hours I made up my mind to try to get near the herd, 
abandoning the animal I had been after. 

The herd showed but little symptoms of moving, the 



THE WAPITI 283 

cows when let alone scattering out to graze, and some 
of them even lying down. Accordingly I did not hurry 
myself, and spent considerably over an hour in slipping 
off to the right and approaching through a belt of small 
firs. Unfortunately, however, the wind had slightly 
shifted, and while I was out of sight of the herd they had 
also come down toward the spot, from whence I had been 
watching them. Accordingly, just as I was beginning 
to creep forward with the utmost caution, expecting to 
see them at any moment, I heard a thumping and crack- 
ing of branches that showed they were on the run. With 
wapiti there is always a chance of overtaking them after 
they have first started, because they tack and veer and 
halt to look around. Therefore I ran forward as fast 
as I could through the woods ; but when I came to the 
edge of the fir belt I saw that the herd were several hun- 
dred yards off. They were clustered together and look- 
ing back, and saw me at once. 

Off they started again. The old bull, however, had 
neither seen me nor smelt me, and when I heard his 
whistle of rage I knew he had misinterpreted the reason 
for the departure of his cows, and in another moment he 
came in sight, evidently bent on rounding them up. On 
his way he attacked and drove off one of the yearlings, 
and then took after the cows, while the yearling ran toward 
the outlying bull. The latter evidently failed to under- 
stand what had happened; at least he showed no signs of 
alarm. Neither, however, did he attempt to follow the 
fleeing herd, but started off again on his own line. 

I was sure the herd would not stop for some miles, 



284 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and accordingly I resumed my chase of the single bull. 
He walked for certainly three miles before he again 
halted, and I was then half a mile behind him. On this 
occasion he struck a small belt of woodland and began 
to travel to and fro through it, probably with an idea of 
lying down. I was able to get up fairly close by crawl- 
ing on all-fours through the snow for part of the distance ; 
but just as I was about to fire he moved slightly, and 
though my shot hit him, it went a little too far back. 
He plunged over the hill crest and was off at a gallop, 
and after running forward and failing to overtake him in 
the first rush, I sat down to consider matters. The snow 
had begun to melt under the sun, and my knees and the 
lower parts of my sleeves were wet from my crawl, and I 
was tired and hungry and very angry at having failed to 
kill the wapiti. It was, however, early in the afternoon, 
and I thought that if I let the wapiti alone for an hour, 
he would lie down, and then grow stiff and reluctant to 
get up ; while in the snow I was sure I could easily follow 
his tracks. Therefore I ate my lunch, and then swal- 
lowed some mouthfuls of snow in lieu of drinking. 

An hour afterward I took the trail. It was evident 
the bull was hard hit, but even after he had changed his 
plunging gallop for a trot he showed no signs of stop- 
ping; fortunately his trail did not cross any other. The 
blood signs grew infrequent, and two or three times he 
went up places which made it difficult for me to believe 
he was much hurt. At last, however, I came to where 
he had lain down; but he had risen again and gone for- 
ward. For a moment I feared that my approach had 



THE WAPITI 285 

alarmed him, but this was evidently not the case, for he 
was now walking. I left the trail, and turning to one 
side below the wind I took a long circle and again struck 
back to the bottom of the valley down which the wapiti 
had been travelling. The timber here was quite thick, 
and I moved very cautiously, continually halting and 
listening for five or ten minutes. Not a sound did I 
hear, and I crossed the valley bottom and began to ascend 
the other side without finding the trail. Unless he had 
turned off up the mountains I knew that this meant he 
must have lain down; so I retraced my steps and with 
extreme caution began to make my way up the valley. 
Finally I came to a little opening, and after peering about 
for five minutes I stepped forward, and instantly heard 
a struggling and crashing in a clump of young spruce on 
the other side. It was the wapiti trying to get on his 
feet. I ran forward at my best pace, and as he was stiff 
and slow in his movements I was within seventy yards 
before he got fairly under way. Dropping on one knee, 
I fired and hit him in the flank. At the moment I could 
not tell whether or not I had missed him, for he gave 
no sign; but, running forward very fast, I speedily saw 
him standing with his head down. He heard me and 
again started, but at the third bullet down he went in his 
tracks, the antlers clattering loudly on the branches of 
a dead tree. 

The snow was melting fast, and for fear it might go 
off entirely, so that I could not follow my back track, I 
went up the hillside upon which the wapiti lay, and tak- 
ing a dead tree dragged it down to the bottom, leaving 



286 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

a long furrow. I then repeated the operation on the 
opposite hillside, thus making a trace which it was im- 
possible for any one coming up or down the valley to 
overlook; and having conned certain landmarks by which 
the valley itself could be identified, I struck toward camp 
at a round trot; for I knew that if I did not get into the 
valley where the tent lay before dark, I should have to 
pass the night out. However, the last uncertain light of 
dusk just enabled me to get over a spur from which I 
could catch a glimpse of the camp-fire, and as I stumbled 
toward it through the forest I heard a couple of shots, 
which showed that the cook and packer were getting 
anxious as to my whereabouts. 



CHAPTER IX 

WILDERNESS RESERVES; THE YELLOWSTONE PARK 

The most striking and melancholy feature in connec- 
tion with American big game is the rapidity with which 
it has vanished. When, just before the outbreak of the 
Revolutionary War, the rifle-bearing hunters of the back- 
woods first penetrated the great forests west of the Alle- 
ghanies, deer, elk, black bear, and even buffalo, swarmed 
in what are now the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, 
and the country north of the Ohio was a great and almost 
virgin hunting-ground. From that day to this the shrink- 
age has gone on, only partially checked here and there, 
and never arrested as a whole. As a matter of historical 
accuracy, however, it is well to bear in mind that many 
writers, in lamenting this extinction of the game, have 
from time to time anticipated or overstated the facts. 
Thus as good an author as Colonel Richard Irving Dodge 
spoke of the buffalo as practically extinct, while the great 
Northern herd still existed in countless thousands. As 
early as 1880 sporting authorities spoke not only of the 
buffalo, but of the elk, deer, and antelope as no longer to 
be found in plenty; and recently one of the greatest of 
living hunters has stated that it is no longer possible to 
find any American wapiti bearing heads comparable with 
the red deer of Hungary. As a matter of fact, in the 

287 



288 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

early eighties there were still large regions where every 
species of game that had ever been known within historic 
times on our continent was still to be found as plentifully 
as ever. In the early nineties there were still big tracts 
of wilderness in which this was true of all game except 
the buffalo; for instance, it was true of the elk in portions 
of northwestern Wyoming, of the blacktail in northwest- 
ern Colorado, of the whitetail here and there in the 
Indian Territory, and of the antelope in parts of New 
Mexico. Even at the present day there are smaller, but 
still considerable, regions where these four animals are 
yet found in abundance; and I have seen antlers of wapiti 
shot since 1900 far surpassing any of which there is record 
from Hungary. In New England and New York, as 
well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the whitetail 
deer is more plentiful than it was thirty years ago, and 
in Maine (and to an even greater extent in New Bruns- 
wick) the moose, and here and there the caribou, have, on 
the whole, increased during the same period. There is 
yet ample opportunity for the big game hunter in the 
United States, Canada and Alaska. 

While it is necessary to give this word of warning to 
those who, in praising time past, always forget the oppor- 
tunities of the present, it is a thousandfold more neces- 
sary to remember that these opportunities are, neverthe- 
less, vanishing; and if we are a sensible people, we will 
make it our business to see that the process of extinction 
is arrested. At the present moment the great herds of 
caribou are being butchered, as in the past the great herds 
of bison and wapiti have been butchered. Every be- 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 289 

liever in manliness, and therefore in manly sport, and 
every lover of nature, every man who appreciates the 
majesty and beauty of the wilderness and of wild life, 
should strike hands with the far-sighted men who wish 
to preserve our material resources, in the effort to keep 
our forests and our game beasts, game birds, and game 
fish — indeed, all the living creatures of prairie, and 
woodland, and seashore — from wanton destruction. 

Above all, we should realize that the effort toward 
this end is essentially a democratic movement. It is en- 
tirely in our power as a nation to preserve large tracts of 
wilderness, which are valueless for agricultural purposes 
and unfit for settlement, as playgrounds for rich and poor 
alike, and to preserve the game so that it shall continue 
to exist for the benefit of all lovers of nature, and to give 
reasonable opportunities for the exercise of the skill of the 
hunter, whether he is or is not a man of means. But this 
end can only be achieved by wise laws and by a resolute 
enforcement of the laws. Lack of such legislation and 
administration will result in harm to all of us, but most 
of all in harm to the nature lover who does not possess 
vast wealth. Already there have sprung up here and 
there through the country, as in New Hampshire and the 
Adirondacks, large private preserves. These preserves 
often serve a useful purpose, and should be encouraged 
within reasonable limits; but it would be a misfortune 
if they increased beyond a certain extent or if they took 
the place of great tracts of wild land, which continue as 
such either because of their very nature, or because of 
the protection of the State exerted in the form of making 



290 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

them State or national parks or reserves. It is foolish to 
regard proper game laws as undemocratic, unrepublican. 
On the contrary, they are essentially in the interests of 
the people as a whole, because it is only through their 
enactment and enforcement that the people as a whole 
can preserve the game and can prevent its becoming 
purely the property of the rich, who are able to create and 
maintain extensive private preserves. The wealthy man 
can get hunting anyhow, but the man of small means is 
dependent solely upon wise and well-executed game laws 
for his enjoyment of the sturdy pleasure of the chase. In 
Maine, in Vermont, in the Adirondacks, even in parts of 
Massachusetts and on Long Island, people have waked 
up to this fact, particularly so far as the common white- 
tail deer is concerned, and in Maine also as regards the 
moose and caribou. The effect is shown in the increase 
in these animals. Such game protection results, in the 
first place, in securing to the people who live in the neigh- 
borhood permanent opportunities for hunting; and in the 
next place, it provides no small source of wealth to the 
locality because of the visitors which it attracts. A deer 
wild in the woods is worth to the people of the neighbor- 
hood many times the value of its carcass, because of the 
way it attracts sportsmen, who give employment and leave 
money behind them. 

True sportsmen, worthy of the name, men who shoot 
only in season and in moderation, do no harm whatever 
to game. The most objectionable of all game destroyers 
is, of course, the kind of game butcher who simply kills 
for the sake of the record of slaughter, who leaves deer 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 291 

and ducks and prairie-chickens to rot after he has slain 
them. Such a man is wholly obnoxious; and, indeed, so 
is any man who shoots for the purpose of establishing a 
record of the amount of game killed. To my mind this 
is one very unfortunate feature of what is otherwise the 
admirably sportsmanlike English spirit in these matters. 
The custom of shooting great bags of deer, grouse, par- 
tridges, and pheasants, the keen rivalry in making such 
bags, and their publication in sporting journals, are 
symptoms of a spirit which is most unhealthy from every 
standpoint. It is to be earnestly hoped that every Ameri- 
can hunting or fishing club will strive to inculcate among 
its own members, and in the minds of the general pub- 
lic, that anything like an excessive bag, any destruction 
for the sake of making a record, is to be severely rep- 
robated. 

But after all, this kind of perverted sportsman, un- 
worthy though he be, is not the chief actor in the de- 
struction of our game. The professional skin or market 
hunter is the real ofifender. Yet he is of all others the 
man who would ultimately be most benefited by the pres- 
ervation of the game. The frontier settler, in a thor- 
oughly wild country, is certain to kill game for his own 
use. As long as he does no more than this, it is hard 
to blame him; although if he is awake to his own interests 
he will soon realize that to him, too, the live deer is worth 
far more than the dead deer, because of the way in which 
it brings money into the wilderness. The professional 
market hunter who kills game for the hide, or for the 
feathers, or for the meat, or to sell antlers and other 



292 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

trophies; the market men who put game in cold storage; 
and the rich people, who are content to buy what they 
have not the skill to get by their own exertions — these 
are the men who are the real enemies of game. Where 
there is no law which checks the market hunters, the 
inevitable result of their butchery is that the game is 
completely destroyed, and with it their own means of 
livelihood. If, on the other hand, they were willing to 
preserve it, they could make much more money by acting 
as guides. In northwestern Colorado, at the present mo- 
ment, there are still blacktail deer in abundance, and some 
elk are left. Colorado has fairly good game laws, but 
they are indififerently enforced. The country in which 
the game is found can probably never support any but 
a very sparse population, and a large portion of the sum- 
mer range is practically useless for settlement. If the 
people of Colorado generally, and above all the people 
of the counties in which the game is located, would res- 
olutely cooperate with those of their own number who 
are already alive to the importance of preserving the 
game, it could, without difficulty, be kept always as abun- 
dant as it now is, and this beautiful region would be a 
permanent health resort and playground for the people 
of a large part of the Union. Such action would be a 
benefit to every one, but it would be a benefit most of 
all to the people of the immediate locality. 

The practical common sense of the American people 
has been in no way made more evident during the last 
few years than by the creation and use of a series of 
large land reserves — situated for the most part on the 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 293 

great plains and among the mountains of the West — in- 
tended to keep the forests from destruction, and therefore 
to conserve the water supply. These reserves are, and 
should be, created primarily for economic purposes. The 
semi-arid regions can only support a reasonable popula- 
tion under conditions of the strictest economy and wisdom 
in the use of the water supply, and in addition to their 
other economic uses the forests are indispensably neces- 
sary for the preservation of the water supply and for 
rendering possible its useful distribution throughout the 
proper seasons. In addition, however, to this economic 
use of the wilderness, selected portions of it have been 
kept here and there in a state of nature, not merely for 
the sake of preserving the forests and the water, but for 
the sake of preserving all its beauties and wonders un- 
spoiled by greedy and short-sighted vandalism. What 
has been actually accomplished in the Yellowstone Park 
afifords the best possible object-lesson as to the desirability 
and practicability of establishing such wilderness re- 
serves. This reserve is a natural breeding-ground and 
nursery for those stately and beautiful haunters of the 
wilds which have now vanished from so many of the great 
forests, the vast lonely plains, and the high mountain 
ranges, where they once abounded. 

On April 8, 1903, John Burroughs and I reached the 
Yellowstone Park, and were met by Major John Pitcher 
of the Regular Army, the Superintendent of the Park. 
The Major and I forthwith took horses; he telling me 
that he could show me a good deal of game while riding 
up to his house at the Mammoth Hot Springs. Hardly 



294 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

had we left the little town of Gardiner and gotten within 
the limits of the Park before we saw prongbuck. There 
was a band of at least a hundred feeding some distance 
from the road. We rode leisurely toward them. They 
were tame compared to their kindred in unprotected 
places; that is, it was easy to ride within fair rifle range 
of them; and though they were not familiar in the sense 
that we afterwards found the bighorn and the deer to 
be familiar, it was extraordinary to find them showing 
such familiarity almost literally in the streets of a fron- 
tier town. It spoke volumes for the good sense and 
law-abiding spirit of the people of the town. During 
the two hours following my entry into the Park we rode 
around the plains and lower slopes of the foothills in 
the neighborhood of the mouth of the Gardiner and 
we saw several hundred — probably a thousand all told 
— of these antelopes. Major Pitcher informed me that 
all the pronghorns in the Park wintered in this neigh- 
borhood. Toward the end of April or the first of May 
they migrate back to their summering homes in the 
open valleys along the Yellowstone and in the plains 
south of the Golden Gate. While migrating they go 
over the mountains and through forests if occasion de- 
mands. Although there are plenty of coyotes in the Park, 
there are no big wolves, and save for very infrequent 
poachers the only enemy of the antelope, as indeed the 
only enemy of all the game, is the cougar. 

Cougars, known in the Park, as elsewhere through the 
West, as "mountain lions," are plentiful, having increased 
in numbers of recent years. Except in the neighborhood 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 295 

of the Gardiner River, that is within a few miles of Mam- 
moth Hot Springs, I found them feeding on elk, which 
in the Park far outnumber all other game put together, 
being so numerous that the ravages of the cougars are of 
no real damage to the herds. But in the neighborhood 
of the Mammoth Hot Springs the cougars are noxious 
because of the antelope, mountain sheep, and deer which 
they kill; and the Superintendent has imported some 
hounds with which to hunt them. These hounds are 
managed by Buflfalo Jones, a famous old plainsman, who 
is now in the Park taking care of the bufifalo. On this 
first day of my visit to the Park I came across the car- 
casses of a deer and of an antelope which the cougars had 
killed. On the great plains cougars rarely get antelope, 
but here the country is broken so that the big cats can 
make their stalks under favorable circumstances. To 
deer and mountain sheep the cougar is a most dangerous 
enemy — much more so than the wolf. 

The antelope we saw were usually in bands of from 
twenty to one hundred and fifty, and they travelled strung 
out almost in single file, though those in the rear would 
sometimes bunch up. I did not try to stalk them, but 
got as near them as I could on horseback. The closest 
approach I was able to make was to within about eighty 
yards of two which were by themselves — I think a doe 
and a last year's fawn. As I was riding up to them, 
although they looked suspiciously at me, one actually lay 
down. When I was passing them at about eighty yards' 
distance the big one became nervous, gave a sudden jump, 
and away the two went at full speed. 



296 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Why the prongbucks were so comparatively shy I 
do not know, for right on the ground with them we came 
upon deer, and, in the immediate neighborhood, moun- 
tain sheep, which were absurdly tame. The mountain 
sheep were nineteen in number, for the most part does 
and yearlings with a couple of three-year-old rams, but 
not a single big fellow — for the big fellows at this sea- 
son are off by themselves, singly or in little bunches, high 
up in the mountains. The band I saw was tame to a 
degree matched by but few domestic animals. 

They were feeding on the brink of a steep washout 
at the upper edge of one of the benches on the moun- 
tain-side just below where the abrupt slope began. They 
were alongside a little gully with sheer walls. I rode 
my horse to within forty yards of them, one of them occa- 
sionally looking up and at once continuing to feed. Then 
they moved slowly oflf and leisurely crossed the gully to 
the other side. I dismounted, walked around the head 
of the gully, and moving cautiously, but in plain sight, 
came closer and closer until I was within twenty yards, 
when I sat down on a stone and spent certainly twenty 
minutes looking at them. They paid hardly any atten- 
tion to my presence — certainly no more than well-treated 
domestic creatures would pay. One of the rams rose on 
his hind legs, leaning his fore-hoofs against a little pine 
tree, and browsed the ends of the budding branches. The 
others grazed on the short grass and herbage or lay down 
and rested — two of the yearUngs several times playfully 
butting at one another. Now and then one would glance 
in my direction without the slightest sign of fear — barely 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 297 

even of curiosity. I have no question whatever but that 
with a little patience this particular band could be made 
to feed out of a man's hand. Major Pitcher intends 
during the coming winter to feed them alfalfa — for game 
animals of several kinds have become so plentiful in the 
neighborhood of the Hot Springs, and the Major has 
grown so interested in them, that he wishes to do some- 
thing toward feeding them during the severe weather. 
After I had looked at the sheep to my heart's content, 
I walked back to my horse, my departure arousing as 
little interest as my advent. 

Soon after leaving them we began to come across 
blacktail deer, singly, in twos and threes, and in small 
bunches of a dozen or so. They were almost as tame 
as the mountain sheep, but not quite. That is, they al- 
ways looked alertly at me, and though if I stayed still 
they would graze, they kept a watch over my movements 
and usually moved slowly off when I got within less than 
forty yards of them. Up to that distance, whether on 
foot or on horseback, they paid but little heed to me, and 
on several occasions they allowed me to come much 
closer. Like the bighorn, the blacktails at this time were 
grazing, not browsing; but I occasionally saw them nib- 
ble some willow buds. During the winter they had been 
browsing. As we got close to the Hot Springs we came 
across several whitetail in an open, marshy meadow. 
They were not quite as tame as the blacktail, although 
without any difficulty I walked up to within fifty yards 
of them. Handsome though the blacktail is, the white- 
tail is the most beautiful of all deer when in motion, 



298 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

because of the springy, bounding grace of its trot and 
canter, and the way it carries its head and white flag 
aloft. 

Before reaching the Mammoth Hot Springs we also 
saw a number of ducks in the little pools and on the 
Gardiner. Some of them were rather shy. Others — 
probably those which, as Major Pitcher informed me, 
had spent the winter there — were as tame as barn-yard 
fowls. 

Just before reaching the post the Major took me into 
the big field where Buffalo Jones had some Texas and 
Flathead Lake buffalo — bulls and cows — which he was 
tending with solicitous care. The original stock of buf- 
falo in the Park have now been reduced to fifteen or 
twenty individuals, and their blood is being recruited by 
the addition of buffalo purchased out of the Flathead 
Lake and Texas Panhandle herds. The buffalo were at 
first put within a wire fence, which, when it was built, 
was found to have included both blacktail and whitetail 
deer. A bull elk was also put in with them at one time, 
he having met with some accident which made the Major 
and Buffalo Jones bring him in to doctor him. When 
he recovered his health he became very cross. Not only 
would he attack men, but also buffalo, even the old and 
surly master bull, thumping them savagely with his ant- 
lers if they did anything to which he objected. The 
buffalo are now breeding well. 

When I reached the post and dismounted at the Ma- 
jor's house, I supposed my experiences with wild beasts 
were ended for the day; but this was an error. The 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 299 

quarters of the officers and men and the various hotel 
buildings, stables, residences of the civilian officials, etc., 
almost completely surround the big parade-ground at 
the post, near the middle of which stands the flag-pole, 
while the gun used for morning and evening salutes is 
well ofif to one side. There are large gaps between some 
of the buildings, and Major Pitcher informed me that 
throughout the winter he had been leaving alfalfa on the 
parade-grounds, and that numbers of blacktail deer had 
been in the habit of visiting it every day, sometimes as 
many as seventy being on the parade-ground at once. 
As spring-time came on the numbers diminished. How- 
ever, in mid-afternoon, while I was writing in my room 
in Major Pitcher's house, on looking out of the win- 
dow I saw five deer on the parade-ground. They were 
as tame as so many Alderney cows, and when I walked 
out I got within twenty yards of them without any dif- 
ficulty. It was most amusing to see them as the time 
approached for the sunset gun to be fired. The notes of 
the trumpeter attracted their attention at once. They 
all looked at him eagerly. One of them resumed feeding, 
and paid no attention whatever either to the bugle, the 
gun or the flag. The other four, however, watched the 
preparations for firing the gun with an intent gaze, and 
at the sound of the report gave two or three jumps; then 
instantly wheeling, looked up at the flag as it came down. 
This they seemed to regard as something rather more sus- 
picious than the gun, and they remained very much on 
the alert until the ceremony was over. Once it was fin- 
ished, they resumed feeding as if nothing had happened. 



300 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Before it was dark they trotted away from the parade- 
ground back to the mountains. 

The next day we rode off to the Yellowstone River, 
camping some miles below Cottonwood Creek. It was 
a very pleasant camp. Major Pitcher, an old friend, had 
a first-class pack-train, so that we were as comfortable 
as possible, and on such a trip there could be no pleasanter 
or more interesting companion than John Burroughs — 
" Oom John," as we soon grew to call him. Where 
our tents were pitched the bottom of the valley was nar- 
row, the mountains rising steep and cliff-broken on either 
side. There were quite a number of blacktail in the 
valley, which were tame and unsuspicious, although not 
nearly as much so as those in the immediate neighborhood 
of the Mammoth Hot Springs. One mid-afternoon three 
of them swam across the river a hundred yards above our 
camp. But the characteristic animals of the region were 
the elk — the wapiti. They were certainly more numer- 
ous than when I was last through the Park twelve years 
before. 

In the summer the elk spread all over the interior of 
the Park. As winter approaches they divide, some going 
north and others south. The southern bands, which, at 
a guess, may possibly include ten thousand individuals, 
winter out of the Park, for the most part in Jackson's 
Hole — though of course here and there within the limits 
of the Park a few elk may spend both winter and summer 
in an unusually favorable location. It was the members 
of the northern band that I met. During the winter time 
they are nearly stationary, each band staying within a very 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 301 

few miles of the same place, and from their size and the 
open nature of their habitat it is almost as easy to count 
them as if they were cattle. From a spur of Bison Peak 
one day, Major Pitcher, the guide Elwood Hofer, John 
Burroughs and I spent about four hours with the glasses 
counting and estimating the different herds within sight. 
After most careful work and cautious reduction of esti- 
mates in each case to the minimum the truth would per- 
mit, we reckoned three thousand head of elk, all lying 
or feeding and all in sight at the same time. An estimate 
of some fifteen thousand for the number of elk in these 
Northern bands cannot be far wrong. These bands do 
not go out of the Park at all, but winter just within its 
northern boundary. At the time when we saw them, the 
snow had vanished from the bottoms of the valleys and 
the lower slopes of the mountains, but remained as con- 
tinuous sheets farther up their sides. The elk were for 
the most part found up on the snow slopes, occasionally 
singly or in small gangs — more often in bands of from 
fifty to a couple of hundred. The larger bulls were high- 
est up the mountains and generally in small troops by 
themselves, although occasionally one or two would be 
found associating with a big herd of cows, yearlings, and 
two-year-olds. Many of the bulls had shed their antlers; 
many had not. During the winter the elk had evidently 
done much browsing, but at this time they were grazing 
almost exclusively, and seemed by preference to seek out 
the patches of old grass which were last left bare by the 
retreating snow. The bands moved about very little, and 
if one were seen one day it was generally possible to find 



302 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



it within a few hundred yards of the same spot the next 
day, and certainly not more than a mile or two ofif. There 
were severe frosts at night, and occasionally light flurries 
of snow; but the hardy beasts evidently cared nothing for 
any but heavy storms, and seemed to prefer to lie in the 
snow rather than upon the open ground. They fed at 
irregular hours throughout the day, just like cattle; one 
band might be lying down while another was feeding. 
While travelling they usually went almost in single file. 
Evidently the winter had weakened them, and they were 
not in condition for running; for on the one or two occa- 
sions when I wanted to see them close up I ran right into 
them on horseback, both on level plains and going up 
hill along the sides of rather steep mountains. One band 
in particular I practically rounded up for John Bur- 
roughs, finally getting them to stand in a huddle while 
he and I sat on our horses less than fifty yards ofif. After 
they had run a little distance they opened their mouths 
wide and showed evident signs of distress. 

We came across a good many carcasses. Two, a bull 
and a cow, had died from scab. Over half the remainder 
had evidently perished from cold or starvation. The 
others, including a bull, three cows and a score of year- 
lings, had been killed by cougars. In the Park the cou- 
gar is at present their only animal foe. The cougars 
were preying on nothing but elk in the Yellowstone Val- 
ley, and kept hanging about the neighborhood of the big 
bands. Evidently they usually selected some outlying 
yearling, stalked it as it lay or as it fed, and seized it 
by the head and throat. The bull which they killed was 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 303 

in a little open valley by himself, many miles from any 
other elk. The cougar which killed it, judging from its 
tracks, was a big male. As the elk were evidently rather 
too numerous for the feed, I do not think the cougars 
were doing any damage. 

Coyotes are plentiful, but the elk evidently have no 
dread of them. One day I crawled up to within fifty 
yards of a band of elk lying down. A coyote was walking 
about among them, and beyond an occasional look they 
paid no heed to him. He did not venture to go within 
fifteen or twenty paces of any one of them. In fact, ex- 
cept the cougar, I saw but one living thing attempt to 
molest the elk. This was a golden eagle. We saw sev- 
eral of these great birds. On one occasion we had ridden 
out to the foot of a sloping mountain side, dotted over 
with bands and strings of elk amounting in the aggre- 
gate probably to a thousand head. Most of the bands 
were above the snow-line — some appearing away back 
toward the ridge crests, and looking as small as mice. 
There was one band well below the snow-line, and tow- 
ard this we rode. While the elk were not shy or wary, 
in the sense that a hunter would use the words, they were 
by no means as familiar as the deer; and this particular 
band of elk, some twenty or thirty in all, watched us 
with interest as we approached. When we were still half 
a mile off they suddenly started to run toward us, evi- 
dently frightened by something. They ran quartering, 
and when about four hundred yards away we saw that 
an eagle was after them. Soon it swooped, and a year- 
ling in the rear, weakly, and probably frightened by the 



3^4 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



swoop, turned a complete somersault, and when it re- 
covered its feet stood still. The great bird followed the 
rest of the band across a little ridge, beyond which they 
disappeared. Then it returned, soaring high in the heav- 
ens, and after two or three wide circles, swooped down 
at the solitary yearling, its legs hanging down. We 
halted at two hundred yards to see the end. But the eagle 
could not quite make up its mind to attack. Twice it 
hovered within a foot or two of the yearling's head, 
again flew ofl and again returned. Finally the yearling 
trotted oft after the rest of the band, and the eagle re- 
turned to the upper air. Later we found the carcass of 
a yearling, with two eagles, not to mention ravens and 
magpies, feeding on it; but I could not tell whether they 
had themselves killed the yearling or not. 

Here and there in the region where the elk were abun- 
dant we came upon horses, which for some reason had 
been left out through the winter. They were much 
wilder than the elk. Evidently the Yellowstone Park is 
a natural nursery and breeding-ground of the elk, which 
here, as said above, far outnumber all the other game put 
together. In the winter, if they cannot get to open water, 
they eat snow; but in several places where there had been 
springs which kept open all winter, we could see by the 
tracks that they had been regularly used by bands of elk. 
The men working at the new road along the face of the 
cliffs beside the Yellowstone River near Tower Falls 
informed me that in October enormous droves of elk 
coming from the interior of the Park and travelling 
northward to the lower lands had crossed the Yellow- 




HLK IN SNOW 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 305 

stone just above Tower Falls. Judging by their descrip- 
tion, the elk had crossed by thousands in an uninter- 
rupted stream, the passage taking many hours. In fact 
nowadays these Yellowstone elk are, with the exception 
of the Arctic caribou, the only American game which 
at times travel in immense droves like the buffalo of the 
old days. 

A couple of days after leaving Cottonwood Creek — 
where we had spent several days — we camped at the Yel- 
lowstone Canyon below Tower Falls. Here we saw a 
second band of mountain sheep, numbering only eight — 
none of them old rams. We were camped on the west 
side of the canyon; the sheep had their abode on the op- 
posite side, where they had spent the winter. It has 
recently been customary among some authorities, espe- 
cially the English hunters and naturalists who have 
written of the Asiatic sheep, to speak as if sheep were 
naturally creatures of the plains rather than mountain 
climbers. I know nothing of the Old World sheep, but 
the Rocky Mountain bighorn is to the full as character- 
istic a mountain animal, in every sense of the word, as 
the chamois, and, I think, as the ibex. These sheep 
were well known to the road builders, who had spent the 
winter in the locality. They told me they never went 
back on the plains, but throughout the winter had spent 
their days and nights on the top of the cliff and along 
its face. This cliff was an alternation of sheer precipices 
and very steep inclines. When qoated with ice it would 
be difficult to imagine an uglier bit of climbing; but 
throughout the winter, and even in the wildest storms, 



3o6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the sheep had habitually gone down it to drink at the 
water below. When we first saw them they were lying 
sunning themselves on the edge of the canyon, where the 
rolling grassy country behind it broke off into the sheer 
descent. It was mid-afternoon and they were under some 
pines. After a while they got up and began to graze, 
and soon hopped unconcernedly down the side of the clifif 
until they were half-way to the bottom. They then 
grazed along the sides, and spent some time licking at 
a place where there was evidently a mineral deposit. Be- 
fore dark they all lay down again on a steeply inclined 
jutting spur midway between the top and bottom of the 
canyon. 

Next morning I thought I would like to see them 
close up, so I walked down three or four miles below 
where the canyon ended, crossed the stream, and came up 
the other side until I got on what was literally the stamp- 
ing-ground of the sheep. Their tracks showed that they 
had spent their time for many weeks, and probably for 
all the winter, within a very narrow radius. For perhaps 
a mile and a half, or two miles at the very outside, they 
had wandered to and fro on the summit of the canyon, 
making what was almost a well-beaten path ; always very 
near and usually on the edge of the cliff, and hardly ever 
going more than a few yards back into the grassy plain- 
and-hill country. Their tracks and dung covered the 
ground. They had also evidently descended into the 
depths of the canyon wherever there was the slightest 
break or even lowering in the upper line of the basalt 
cliffs. Although mountain sheep often browse in winter. 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 307 

I saw but few traces of browsing here; probably on the 
sheer clifif side they always get some grazing. 

When I spied the band they were lying not far from 
the spot in which they had lain the day before, and in 
the same position on the brink of the canyon. They saw 
me and watched me with interest when I was two hun- 
dred yards off, but they let me get up within forty yards 
and sit down on a large stone to look at them, without 
running off. Most of them were lying down, but a cou- 
ple were feeding steadily throughout the time I watched 
them. Suddenly one took the alarm and dashed straight 
over the cliff, the others all following at once. I ran 
after them to the edge in time to see the last yearling 
drop off the edge of the basalt cliff and stop short on the 
sheer slope below, while the stones dislodged by h^s hoofs 
rattled down the canyon. They all looked up at me with 
great interest, and then strolled off to the edge of a jut- 
ting spur and lay down almost directly underneath me 
and some fifty yards off. That evening on my return to 
camp we watched the band make its way right down to 
the river bed, going over places where it did not seem 
possible a four-footed creature could pass. They halted 
to graze here and there, and down the worst places they 
went very fast with great bounds. It was a marvellous 
exhibition of climbing. 

After we had finished this horseback trip we went 
on sleds and skis to the upper Geyser Basin and the Falls 
of the Yellowstone. Although it was the third week in 
April, the snow was still several feet deep, and only 
thoroughly trained snow horses could have taken the 



3o8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

sleighs along, while around the Yellowstone Falls it was 
possible to move only on snowshoes. There was little 
life in those woods. In the upper basin I caught a 
meadow mouse on the snow; I afterwards sent it to Hart 
Merriam, who told me it was of a species he had de- 
scribed from Idaho, Microtus nanus; it had not been 
previously found in the Yellowstone region. We saw an 
occasional pine squirrel, snowshoe rabbit or marten; and 
in the open meadows around the hot waters there were 
Canada geese and ducks of several species, and now and 
then a coyote. Around camp Clark's crows and Stellar's 
jays, and occasionally magpies, came to pick at the refuse; 
and of course they were accompanied by the whiskey 
jacks, which behaved with their usual astounding famil- 
iarity. At Norris Geyser Basin there was a perfect 
chorus of bird music from robins, western purple finches, 
juncos and mountain bluebirds. In the woods there were 
mountain chickadees and pygmy nuthatches, together 
with an occasional woodpecker. In the northern coun- 
try we had come across a very few blue grouse and rufifed 
grouse, both as tame as possible. We had seen a pygmy 
owl no larger than a robin sitting on the top of a pine in 
broad daylight, and uttering at short intervals a queer 
un-owl-like cry. 

The birds that interested us most were the solitaires, 
and especially the dippers or water-ousels. We were 
fortunate enough to hear the solitaires sing not only when 
perched on trees, but on the wing, soaring over a great 
canyon. They are striking birds in every way, and their 
habit of singing while soaring, and their song, are alike 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 309 

noteworthy. Once I heard a solitaire singing at the top 
of a canyon, and an ousel also singing but a thousand feet 
below him; and in this case I thought the ousel sang 
better than his unconscious rival. The ousels are to my 
mind wellnigh the most attractive of all our birds, be- 
cause of their song, their extraordinary habits, their 
whole personality. They stay through the winter in the 
Yellowstone because the waters are in many places open. 
We heard them singing cheerfully, their ringing melody 
having a certain suggestion of the winter wren's. Usually 
they sang while perched on some rock on the edge or 
in the middle of the stream; but sometimes on the wing; 
and often just before dipping under the torrent, or just 
after slipping out from it onto some ledge of rock or 
ice. In the open places the Western meadow lark was 
uttering its beautiful song; a real song as compared to 
the plaintive notes of its Eastern brother, and though 
short, yet with continuity and tune as well as melody. I 
love to hear the Eastern meadow lark in the early spring; 
but I love still more the song of the Western meadow 
lark. No bird escaped John Burroughs' eye; no bird 
note escaped his ear. 

I cannot understand why the Old World ousel should 
have received such comparatively scant attention in the 
books, whether from nature writers or poets; whereas 
our ousel has greatly impressed all who know him. John 
Muir's description comes nearest doing him justice. To 
me he seems a more striking bird than for instance the 
skylark; though of course I not only admire but am very 
fond of the skylark. There are various pipits and larks 



3IO 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



in our own country which sing in highest air, as does 
the skylark, and their songs, though not as loud, are 
almost as sustained; and though they lack the finer kind 
of melody, so does his. The ousel, on the contrary, is a 
really brilliant singer, and in his habits he is even farther 
removed from the commonplace and the uninteresting 
than the lark himself. Some birds, such as the ousel, 
the mocking-bird, the solitaire, show marked originality, 
marked distinction; others do not; the chipping sparrow, 
for instance, while in no way objectionable (like the im- 
ported house sparrow), is yet a hopelessly commonplace 
little bird alike in looks, habits and voice. 

On the last day of my stay it was arranged that I 
should ride down from Mammoth Hot Springs to the 
town of Gardiner, just outside the Park limits, and there 
make an address at the laying of the corner-stone of the 
arch by which the main road is to enter the Park. Some 
three thousand people had gathered to attend the cere- 
monies. A little over a mile from Gardiner we came 
down out of the hills to the flat plain; from the hills we 
could see the crowd gathered around the arch waiting 
for me to come. We put spurs to our horses and cantered 
rapidly toward the appointed place, and on the way we 
passed within forty yards of a score of blacktails, which 
merely moved to one side and looked at us, and within 
almost as short a distance of half a dozen antelope. To 
any lover of nature it could not help being a delightful 
thing to see the wild and timid creatures of the wilderness 
rendered so tame; and their tameness in the immediate 
neighborhood of Gardiner, on the very edge of the Park, 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 311 

spoke volumes for the patriotic good sense of the citizens 
of Montana. At times the antelope actually cross the 
Park line to Gardiner, which is just outside, and feed 
unmolested in the very streets of the town; a fact which 
shows how very far advanced the citizens of Gardiner 
are in right feeling on this subject; for of course the 
Federal laws cease to protect the antelope as soon as they 
are out of the Park. Major Pitcher informed me that 
both the Montana and Wyoming people were cooperat- 
ing with him in zealous fashion to preserve the game 
and put a stop to poaching. For their attitude in this 
regard they deserve the cordial thanks of all Americans 
interested in these great popular playgrounds, where 
bits of the old wilderness scenery and the old wilderness 
life are to be kept unspoiled for the benefit of our chil- 
dren's children. Eastern people, and especially Eastern 
sportsmen, need to keep steadily in mind the fact that the 
westerners who live in the neighborhood, of the forest 
preserves are the men who in the last resort will deter- 
mine whether or not these preserves are to be permanent. 
They cannot in the long run be kept as forest and game 
reservations unless the settlers roundabout believe in 
them and heartily support them; and the rights of these 
settlers must be carefully safeguarded, and they must be 
shown that the movement is really in their interest. The 
Eastern sportsman who fails to recognize these facts can 
do little but harm by advocacy of forest reserves. 

It was in the interior of the Park, at the hotels beside 
the lake, the falls, and the various geyser basins, that 
we would have seen the bears had the season been late 



312 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

enough; but unfortunately the bears were still for the 
most part hibernating. We saw two or three tracks, but 
the animals themselves had not yet begun to come about 
the hotels. Nor were the hotels open. No visitors had 
previously entered the Park in the winter or early spring, 
the scouts and other employees being the only ones who 
occasionally traverse it. I was sorry not to see the bears, 
for the effect of protection upon bear life in the Yellow- 
stone has been one of the phenomena of natural history. 
Not only have they grown to realize that they are safe, 
but, being natural scavengers and foul feeders, they have 
come to recognize the garbage heaps of the hotels as their 
special sources of food supply. Throughout the summer 
months they come to all the hotels in numbers, usually 
appearing in the late afternoon or evening, and they have 
become as indifferent to the presence of men as the deer 
themselves — some of them very much more indifferent. 
They have now taken their place among the recognized 
sights of the Park, and the tourists are nearly as much 
interested in them as in the geysers. In mussing over 
the garbage heaps they sometimes get tin cans stuck on 
their paws, and the result is painful. Buffalo Jones and 
some of the other scouts in extreme cases rope the bear, 
tie him up, cut the tin can off his paw, and let him go 
again. It is not an easy feat, but the astonishing thing 
is that it should be performed at all. 

It was amusing to read the proclamations addressed 
to the tourists by the Park management, in which they 
were solemnly warned that the bears were really wild 
animals, and that they must on no account be either fed 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 313 

or teased. It is curious to think that the descendants of 
the great grizzlies which were the dread of the early ex- 
plorers and hunters should now be semi-domesticated 
creatures, boldly hanging around crowded hotels for the 
sake of what they can pick up, and quite harmless so long 
as any reasonable precaution is exercised. They are 
much safer, for instance, than any ordinary bull or stall- 
ion, or even ram, and, in fact, there is no danger from 
them at all unless they are encouraged to grow too famil- 
iar or are in some way molested. Of course among the 
thousands of tourists there is a percentage of fools; and 
when fools go out in the afternoon to look at the bears 
feeding they occasionally bring themselves into jeopardy 
by some senseless act. The black bears and the cubs of 
the bigger bears can readily be driven up trees, and some 
of the tourists occasionally do this. Most of the animals 
never think of resenting it; but now and then one is run 
across which has its feelings ruffled by the performance. 
In the summer of 1902 the result proved disastrous to a 
too inquisitive tourist. He was travelling with his wife, 
and at one of the hotels they went out toward the garbage 
pile to see the bears feeding. The only bear in sight was 
a large she, which, as it turned out, was in a bad temper 
because another party of tourists a few minutes before 
had been chasing her cubs up a tree. The man left his 
wife and walked toward the bear to see how close he 
could get. When he was some distance ofif she charged 
him, whereupon he bolted back toward his wife. The 
bear overtook him, knocked him down and bit him se- 
verely. But the man's wife, without hesitation, attacked 



314 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the bear with that thoroughly feminine weapon, an um- 
brella, and frightened her off. The man spent several 
weeks in the Park hospital before he recovered. Per- 
haps the following telegram sent by the manager of the 
Lake Hotel to Major Pitcher illustrates with sufficient 
clearness the mutual relations of the bears, the tourists, 
and the guardians of the public weal in the Park. The 
original was sent me by Major Pitcher. It runs : 

"Lake. 7-27-'o3. Major Pitcher, Yellowstone: As 
many as seventeen bears in an evening appear on my 
garbage dump. To-night eight or ten. Campers and 
people not of my hotel throw things at them to make them 
run away. I cannot, unless there personally, control this. 
Do you think you could detail a trooper to be there 
every evening from say six o'clock until dark and make 
people remain behind danger line laid out by Warden 
Jones? Otherwise I fear some accident. The arrest 
of one or two of these campers might help. My own 
guests do pretty well as they are told. James Barton 
Key. 9 A. M." 

Major Pitcher issued the order as requested. 

At times the bears get so bold that they take to mak- 
ing inroads on the kitchen. One completely terrorized a 
Chinese cook. It would drive him off and then feast 
upon whatever was left behind. When a bear begins to 
act in this way or to show surliness it is sometimes neces- 
sary fo shoot it. Other bears are tamed until they will 
feed out of the hand, and will come at once if called. Not 
only have some of the soldiers and scouts tamed bears in 
this fashion, but occasionally a chambermaid or waiter 




GRIZZLY BEAR AND COOK 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 315 

girl at one of the hotels has thus developed a bear as 
a pet. 

The accompanying photographs not only show bears 
very close up, with men standing by within a few yards 
of them, but they also show one bear being fed from the 
piazza by a cook, and another standing beside a particular 
friend, a chambermaid in one of the hotels. In these 
photographs it will be seen that some are grizzlies and 
some black bears. 

This whole episode of bear life in the Yellowstone is 
so extraordinary that it will be well worth while for any 
man who has the right powers and enough time, to make 
a complete study of the life and history of the Yellow- 
stone bears. Indeed, nothing better could be done by 
some of our out-door faunal naturalists than to spend at 
least a year in the Yellowstone, and to study the life 
habits of all the wild creatuj-es therein. A man able to 
do this, and to write down accurately and interestingly 
what he had seen, would make a contribution of perma- 
nent value to our nature literature. 

In May, after leaving the Yellowstone, I visited the 
Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and then went through 
the Yosemite Park with John Muir — the companion 
above all others for such a trip. It is hard to make com- 
parisons among different kinds of scenery, all of them 
very grand and very beautiful; but nothing that I have 
ever seen has impressed me quite as much as the desolate 
and awful sublimity of the Grand Canyon of the Colo- 
rado. I earnestly wish that Congress would make it a 
national park, and I am sure that such course would meet 



3i6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the approbation of the people of Arizona. The people 
of California with wise and generous forethought have 
given the Yosemite Valley to the National Government 
to be kept as a national park, just as the surrounding 
country, including some of the groves of giant trees, has 
been kept. The flower-clad slopes of the Sierras — golden 
with the blazing poppy, brilliant with lilies and tulips 
and red-stemmed Manzinita bush — are unlike anything 
else in this country. As for the giant trees, no words 
can describe their majesty and beauty. 

John Muir and I, with two packers and three pack 
mules, spent a delightful three days in the Yosemite. 
The first night was clear, and we lay in the open, on beds 
of soft fir boughs, among the huge, cinnamon-colored 
trunks of the sequoias. It was like lying in a great sol- 
emn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any 
built by hand of man. Just at nightfall I heard, among 
other birds, thrushes which I think were Rocky Moun- 
tain hermits — the appropriate choir for such a place of 
worship. Next day we went by trail through the woods, 
seeing some deer — which were not wild — as well as 
mountain quail and blue grouse. Among the birds which 
we saw was a white-headed woodpecker; the interesting 
carpenter woodpeckers were less numerous than lower 
down. In the afternoon we struck snow, and had con- 
siderable difficulty in breaking our trails. A snow-storm 
came on toward evening, but we kept warm and com- 
fortable in a grove of splendid silver firs — rightly named 
" magnificent " — near the brink of the wonderful Yosem- 
ite Valley. Next day we clambered down into it and 




THE BEAR AND THE CHAMBERMAID 



WILDERNESS RESERVES 317 

at nightfall camped in its bottom, facing the giant cliffs 
over which the waterfalls thundered. 

Surely our people do not understand even yet the rich 
heritage that is theirs. There can be nothing in the 
world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of 
giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, 
the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and 
our people should see to it that they are preserved for 
their children and their children's children forever, with 
their majestic beauty all unmarred. 



CHAPTER X 

BOOKS ON BIG GAME 

The nineteenth century was, beyond all others, the 
century of big game hunters, and of books about big 
game. From the days of Nimrod to our own there have 
been mighty hunters before the Lord, and most warlike 
and masterful races have taken kindly to the chase, as 
chief among those rough pastimes which appeal naturally 
to men with plenty of red blood in their veins. But until 
the nineteenth century the difficulties of travel were so 
great that men of our race with a taste for sport could 
rarely gratify this taste except in their own neighborhood. 
The earlier among the great conquering kings of Egypt 
and Assyria, when they made their forays into Syria and 
the region of the Upper Euphrates, hunted the elephant 
and the wild bull, as well as the lions with which the 
country swarmed; and Tiglath-Pileser the First, as over- 
lord of Phoenicia, embarked on the Mediterranean, and 
there killed a " sea-monster," presumably a whale — a feat j 

which has been paralleled by no sport-loving sovereign 
of modern times, save by that stout hunter, the German 
Kaiser; though I believe the present English King, like 
several members of his family, has slain both elephants 
and tigers before he came to the throne. But the ele- 

318 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 



319 



phant disappeared from Eastern Asia a thousand years 
before our era ; and the lion had become rare or unknown 
in lands where the dwellers were of European stock, long 
before the days of written records. 

There was good hunting in Macedonia in the days of 
Alexander the Great; there was good hunting in the Her- 
cynian Forest when Frank and Bergund were turning 
Gaul into France; there was good hunting in Lithuania 
and Poland as late as the days of Sobieski; but the most 
famous kings and nobles of Europe, within historic times, 
though they might kill the aurochs and the bison, the bear 
and the boar, had no chance to test their prowess against 
the mightier and more terrible beasts of the tropics. 

No modern man could be more devoted to the chase 
than were the territorial lords of the Middle Ages. 
Two of the most famous books of the chase ever written 
were the Livre de Chasse of Count Gaston de Foix — 
Gaston Phcebus, well known to all readers of Froissart 
— and the translation or adaptation and continuation 
of the same, the " Master of Game," by that Duke of 
York who " died victorious " at Agincourt. Mr. Baillie- 
Grohman, himself a hunter and mountaineer of wide 
experience, a trained writer and observer, and a close 
student of the hunting lore of the past, has edited and 
reproduced the " Master of Game," in form which makes 
it a delight to every true lover of books no less than to 
every true lover of sport. A very interesting little book 
is Glamorgan's Chasse du Loup^ dedicated to Charles the 
Ninth of France; my copy is of the edition of 1566. The 
text and the illustrations are almost equally attractive. 



320 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

As the centuries passed it became more and more diffi- 
cult to obtain sport in the thickly settled parts of Europe 
save in the vast game preserves of the Kings and great 
lords. These magnates of Continental Europe, dow^n to 
the beginning of the last century, followed the chase 
with all the ardor of Gaston Phoebus; indeed, they erred 
generally on the side of fantastic extravagance and exag- 
geration in their favorite pursuit, turning it into a solemn 
and rather ridiculous business instead of a healthy and 
vigorous pastime; but they could hunt only the beasts of 
their own forests. The men who went on long voyages 
usually had quite enough to do simply as travellers; the 
occupation of getting into unknown lands, and of keeping 
alive when once in them, was in itself sufficiently absorb- 
ing and hazardous to exclude any chance of combining 
with it the role of sportsman. 

With the last century all this had changed. Even in 
the eighteenth century it began to change. The Dutch 
settlers at the Cape of Good Hope, and the English set- 
tlers on the Atlantic coast of North America, found them- 
selves thrown back into a stage of life where hunting was 
one of the main means of livelihood, as well as the most 
exciting and adventurous of pastimes. These men knew 
the chase as men of their race had not known it since the 
days before history dawned; and until the closing decades 
of the last century the Americans and the Afrikanders of 
the frontier largely led the lives of professional hunters. 
Oom Paul and Buffalo Bill led very different careers 
after they reached middle age ; but in their youth warfare 
against wild beasts and wild men was the most serious 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 



321 



part of the life-work of both. They and their fellows 
did the rough pioneer work of civilization, under condi- 
tions which have now vanished for ever, and their type 
will perish with the passing of the forces that called it 
into being. But the big game hunter, whose campaigns 
against big game are not simply incidents in his career as 
a pioneer settler, will remain with us for some time 
longer; and it is of him and his writings that we wish 
to treat. 

Toward the end of the eighteenth century this big 
game hunter had already appeared, although, like all 
early types, he was not yet thoroughly specialized. Le 
Vaillant hunted in South Africa, and his volumes are ex- 
cellent reading now. A still better book is that of Bruce, 
the Abyssinian explorer, who was a kind of Burton of his 
days, with a marvellous faculty for getting into quarrels, 
but an even more marvellous faculty for doing work 
which no other man could do. He really opened a new 
world to European men of letters and science; who there- 
upon promptly united in disbelieving all he said, though 
they were credulous enough toward people who really 
should have been distrusted. But his tales have been 
proved true by many an explorer since then, and his book 
will always possess interest for big game hunters, because 
of his experiences in the chase. Sometimes he shot 
merely in self-defense or for food, but he also made regu- 
lar hunting trips in company with the wild lords of the 
shifting frontier between dusky Christian and dusky in- 
fidel. He feasted in their cane palaces, where the walls 
were hung with the trophies of giant game, and in their 



322 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



company, with horse and spear, he attacked and overcame 
the buffalo and the rhinoceros. 

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the hunt- 
ing book proper became differentiated, as it were, from 
the book of the explorer. One of the earliest was Will- 
iamson's " Oriental Field Sports." This is to the present 
day a most satisfactory book, especially to sporting par- 
ents with large families of small children. The pictures 
are all in colors, and the foliage is so very green, and the 
tigers are so very red, and the boars so very black, and 
the tragedies so uncommonly vivid and startling, that 
for the youthful mind the book really has no formidable 
rival outside of the charmed circle where Slovenly Peter 
stands first. 

Since then multitudes of books have been written 
about big game hunting. Most of them are bad, of 
course, just as most novels and most poems are bad; but 
some of them are very good indeed, while a few are enti- 
tled to rank high in literature — though it cannot be said 
that as yet big game hunters as a whole have produced 
such writers as those who dwell on the homelier and less 
grandiose side of nature. They have not produced a 
White or Burroughs, for instance. What could not Bur- 
roughs have done if only he had cared for adventure and 
for the rifle, and had roamed across the Great Plains and 
the Rockies, and through the dim forests, as he has wan- 
dered along the banks of the Hudson and the Potomac! 
Thoreau, it is true, did go to the Maine Woods; but then 
Thoreau was a transcendentalist and slightly anaemic. 
A man must feel the beat of hardy life in his veins before 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 323 

he can be a good big game hunter. Fortunately, Rich- 
ard Jeffries has written an altogether charming little vol- 
ume on the Red Deer, so that there is at least one game 
animal which has been fully described by a man of letters, 
who was also both a naturalist and a sportsman; but it is 
irritating to think that no one has done as much for the 
lordlier game of the wilderness. Not only should the 
hunter be able to describe vividly the chase, and the life 
habits of the quarry, but he should also draw the wilder- 
ness itself, and the life of those who dwell or sojourn 
therein. We wish to see before us the cautious stalk and 
the headlong gallop ; the great beasts as they feed or rest 
or run or make love or fight; the wild hunting camps; 
the endless plains shimmering in the sunlight; the vast, 
solemn forests; the desert and the marsh and the moun- 
tain chain; and all that lies hidden in the lonely lands 
through which the wilderness wanderer roams and hunts 
game. 

But there remain a goodly number of books which are 
not merely filled with truthful information of impor- 
tance, but which are also absorbingly interesting; and if 
a book is both truthful and interesting it is surely entitled 
to a place somewhere in general literature. Unfortu- 
nately, the first requisite bars out a great many hunting 
books. There are not a few mighty hunters who have 
left long records of their achievements, and who undoubt- 
edly did achieve a great deal, but who contrive to leave 
in the mind of the reader the uncomfortable suspicion, 
that besides their prowess with the rifle they were skilled 
in the use of that more archaic weapon, the long bow. 



324 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

" The Old Shekarry," who wrote of Indian and African 
sport, was one of these. Gerard was a great lion-killer, 
but some of his accounts of the lives, deaths, and espe- 
cially the courtships, of lions, bear much less relation to 
actual facts than do the novels of Dumas. Not a few 
of the productions of hunters of this type should be 
grouped under the head-lines used by the newspapers of 
our native land in describing something which they are 
perfectly sure hasn't happened — " Important, if True." 
The exactly opposite type is presented in another French- 
man, M. Foa, a really great hunter who also knows how 
to observe and to put down what he has observed. His 
two books on big game hunting in Africa have permanent 
value. 

If we were limited to the choice of one big game 
writer, who was merely such, and not in addition a scien- 
tific observer, we should have to choose Sir Samuel Baker, 
for his experiences are very wide, and we can accept with- 
out question all that he says in his books. He hunted 
in India, in Africa, and in North America; he killed all 
the chief kinds of heavy and dangerous game; and he 
followed them on foot and on horseback, with the rifle 
and the knife, and with hounds. For the same reason, if 
we could choose but one work, it would have to be the 
volumes of " Big Game Shooting," in the Badminton 
Library, edited by Mr. Phillipps Wolley — himself a man 
who has written well of big game hunting in out-of-the- 
way places, from the Caucasus to the Cascades. These 
volumes contain pieces by many dififerent authors; but 
they dififcr from most volumes of the kind in that all the 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 325 

writers are trustworthy and interesting; though the palm 
must be given to Oswell's delightful account of his South 
African hunting. The book on the game beasts of Africa 
edited by Mr. Bryden is admirable in every way. 

In all these books the one point to be insisted on is that 
a big game hunter has nothing in common with so many 
of the men who delight to call themselves sportsmen. Sir 
Samuel Baker has left a very amusing record of the 
horror he felt for the Ceylon sportsmen who, by the term 
" sport," meant horse-racing instead of elephant shooting. 
Half a century ago, Gordon-Cumming wrote of " the life 
of the wild hunter, so far preferable to that of the mere 
sportsman " ; and his justification for this somewhat sneer- 
ing reference to the man who takes his sport in too artifi- 
cial a manner, may be found in the pages of a then noted 
authority on such sports as horse-racing and fox-hunting; 
for in Apperly's " Nimrod Abroad," in the course of an 
article on the game of the American wilderness, there 
occurs this delicious sentence : " A damper, however, is 
thrown over all systems of deer-stalking in Canada by the 
necessity, which is said to be unavoidable, of bivouacking 
in the woods instead of in well-aired sheets!" Verily, 
there was a great gulf between the two men. 

In the present century the world has known three 
great hunting-grounds: Africa, from the equator to the 
southernmost point; India, both farther and hither; and 
North America west of the Mississippi, from the Rio 
Grande to the Arctic Circle. The latter never ap- 
proached either of the former in the wealth and variety 
of the species, or in the size and terror of the chief beasts 



326 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

of the chase; but it surpassed India in the countless num- 
bers of the individual animals, and in the wild and un- 
known nature of the hunting-grounds, while the climate 
and surroundings made the conditions under which the 
hunter worked pleasanter and healthier than those in 
any other land. 

South Africa was the true hunter's paradise. If the 
happy hunting-grounds were to be found anywhere in 
this world, they lay between the Orange and the Zambesi, 
and extended northward here and there to the Nile coun- 
tries and Somaliland. Nowhere else were there such 
multitudes of game, representing so many and such widely 
different kinds of animals, of such size, such beauty, such 
infinite variety. We should have to go back to the fauna 
of the Pleistocene to find its equal. Never before did 
men enjoy such hunting as fell to the lot of those roving 
adventurers, who first penetrated its hidden fastnesses, 
camped by its shrunken rivers, and galloped over its sun- 
scorched wastes; and, alas that it should be written, no 
man will ever see the like again. Fortunately, its mem- 
ory will forever be kept alive in some of the books that 
the great hunters have written about it, such as Cornwallis 
Harris' " Wild Sports of South Africa," Gordon-Cum- 
ming's *' Hunter's Life in South Africa," Baldwin's 
" African Hunting," Drummond's " Large Game and 
Natural History of South Africa," and, best of all, 
Selous' two books, " A Hunter's Wanderings in South 
Africa " and " Travel and Adventure in Southeast 
Africa." Selous was the last of the great hunters of 
South Africa, and no other has left books of such value 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 327 

as his. In central Africa the game has lasted to our own 
time; the hunting described by Alfred Neumann and 
Vaughn Kirby in the closing years of the nineteenth cen- 
tury was almost as good as any enjoyed by their brothers 
who fifty years before steered their ox-drawn wagons 
across the " high veldt " of the south land. 

Moreover, the pencil has done its part as well as the 
pen. Harris, who was the pioneer of all the hunters, 
published an admirable illustrated folio entitled " The 
Game and Wild Animals of South Africa." It is per- 
haps of more value than any other single work of the kind. 
J. G. Millais, in "A Breath from the Veldt," has rendered 
a unique service, not only by his charming descriptions, 
but by his really extraordinary sketches of the South 
African antelopes, both at rest, and in every imaginable 
form of motion. Nearly at the other end of the continent 
there is an admirable book on lion-hunting in Somali- 
land, by Captain C. J. Melliss. Much information about 
big game can be taken from the books of various mission- 
aries and explorers; Livingstone and Du Chaillu doing 
for Africa in this respect what Catlin did for North 
America. 

As we have said before, one great merit of these books 
is that they are interesting. Quite a number of men who 
are good sportsmen, as well as men of means, have written 
books about their experiences in Africa; but the trouble 
with too many of these short and simple annals of the rich 
is, that they are very dull. They are not literature, any 
more than treatises on farriery and cooking are literature. 
To read a mere itinerary is like reading a guide-book. 



328 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

No great enthusiasm in the reader can be roused by such 
a statement as " this day walked twenty-three miles, shot 
one giraffe and two zebras; porter deserted with the load 
containing the spare boots " ; and the most exciting 
events, if chronicled simply as " shot three rhinos and two 
buffalo; the first rhino and both buffalo charged," become 
about as thrilling as a paragraph in Baedeker. There 
is no need of additional literature of the guide-book and 
cookery-book kind. " Fine writing " is, of course, ab- 
horrent in a way that is not possible for mere baldness of 
statement, and would-be " funny " writing is even worse, 
as it almost invariably denotes an underbred quality of 
mind; but there is need of a certain amount of detail, and 
of vivid and graphic, though simple, description. In 
other words, the writer on big game should avoid equally 
Carlyle's theory and Carlyle's practice in the matter of 
verbosity. Really good game books are sure to contain 
descriptions which linger in the mind just like one's pet 
passages in any other good book. One example is Selous' 
account of his night watch close to the wagon, when in 
the pitchy darkness he killed three of the five lions which 
had attacked his oxen; or his extraordinary experience 
while hunting elephants on a stallion which turned sulky, 
and declined to gallop out of danger. The same is true 
of Drummond's descriptions of the camps of native hunt- 
ing parties, of tracking wounded buffalo through the 
reeds, and of waiting for rhinos by a desert pool under the 
brilliancy of the South African moon; descriptions, by 
the way, which show that the power of writing interest- 
ingly is not dependent upon even approximate correctness 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 



329 



in style, for some of Mr. Drummond's sentences, in point 
of length and involution, would compare not unfavorably 
v^ith those of a Populist Senator discussing bimetallism. 
Drummond is not as trustworthy an observer as Selous. 

The experiences of a hunter in Africa, with its teem- 
ing wealth of strange and uncouth beasts, must have been, 
and in places must still be, about what one's experience 
would be if one could suddenly go back a few hundred 
thousand years for a hunting trip in the Pliocene or Pleis- 
tocene. In Mr. Astor Chanler's book, " Through Jungle 
and Desert," the record of his trip through the melan- 
choly reed beds of the Guaso Nyiro, and of his re- 
turn journey, carrying his wounded companion, through 
regions where the caravan was perpetually charged by 
rhinoceros, reads like a bit out of the unreckoned ages of 
the past, before the huge and fierce monsters of old had 
vanished from the earth, or acknowledged man as their 
master. An excellent book of mixed hunting and scien- 
tific exploration is Mr. Donaldson Smith's " Through 
Unknown African Countries." If anything, the hunting 
part is unduly sacrificed to some of the minor scientific 
work. Full knowledge of a new breed of rhinoceros, or 
a full description of the life history and chase of almost 
any kind of big game, is worth more than any quantity 
of matter about new spiders and scorpions. Small birds 
and insects remain in the land, and can always be de- 
scribed by the shoal of scientific investigators who follow 
the first adventurous explorers; but it is only the pioneer 
hunter who can tell us all about the far more interesting 
and important beasts of the chase, the different kinds of 



330 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

big game, and especially dangerous big game; and it is 
a mistake in any way to subordinate the greater work to 
the lesser. 

Books on big game hunting in India are as plentiful, 
and as good, as those about Africa. Forsyth's " High- 
lands of Central India," Sanderson's " Thirteen Years 
Among the Wild Beasts of India," Shakespeare's " Wild 
Sports of India," and Kinloch's " Large Game Shoot- 
ing," are perhaps the best; but there are many other 
writers, like Markham, Baldwin, Rice, Macintyre, and 
Stone, who are also very good. Indeed, to give even 
a mere list of the titles of the good books on Indian 
shooting would read too much like the Homeric cata- 
logue of ships, or the biblical generations of the Jew- 
ish patriarchs. The four books singled out for special 
reference are interesting reading for anyone; particularly 
the accounts of the deaths of man-eating tigers at the 
hands of Forsyth, Shakespeare, and Sanderson, and some 
of Kinloch's Himalayan stalks. It is indeed royal sport 
which the hunter has among the stupendous mountain 
masses of the Himalayas, and in the rank jungles and 
steamy tropical forests of India. 

Hunting should go hand in hand with the love of 
natural history, as well as with descriptive and narrative 
power. Hornaday's " Two Years in the Jungle " is espe- 
cially interesting to the naturalist; but he adds not a little 
to our knowledge of big game. It is earnestly to be 
wished that some hunter will do for the gorilla what 
Hornaday has done for the great East Indian ape, the 
mias or orang. 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 331 

There are many good books on American big game, 
but, rather curiously, they are for the most part modern. 
Until within the present generation Americans only 
hunted big game if they were frontier settlers, profes- 
sional trappers, Southern planters, army officers, or ex- 
plorers. The people of the cities of the old States were 
bred in the pleasing faith that anything unconcerned with 
business was both a waste of time and presumably im- 
moral. Those who travelled went to Europe instead of 
to the Rocky Mountains. 

Throughout the pioneer stages of American history, 
big game hunting was not merely a pleasure, but a busi- 
ness, and often a very important and in fact vital business. 
At different times many of the men who rose to great 
distinction in our after history took part in it as such: 
men like Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston, for instance. 
Moreover, aside from these pioneers who afterward won 
distinction purely as statesmen or soldiers, there were 
other members of the class of professional hunters — men 
who never became eminent in the complex life of the 
old civilized regions, who always remained hunters, and 
gloried in the title — who, nevertheless, through and be- 
cause of their life in the wilderness, rose to national fame 
and left their mark on our history. The three most 
famous men of this class were Daniel Boone, David 
Crockett, and Kit Carson, who were renowned in every 
quarter of the Union for their skill as game-killers, Ind- 
ian-fighters, and wilderness explorers, and whose deeds 
are still stock themes in the floating legendary lore of the 
border. They stand for all time as types of the pioneer 



332 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



settlers who won our land; the bridge-builders, the road- 
makers, the forest-fellers, the explorers, the land-tillers, 
the mighty men of their hands, who laid the foundations 
of this great commonwealth. 

There are good descriptions of big game hunting in 
the books of writers like Catlin, but they come in inci- 
dentally. Elliott's " South Carolina Field Sports " is a 
very interesting and entirely trustworthy record of the 
sporting side of existence on the old Southern plantations, 
and not only commemorates how the planters hunted 
bear, deer, fox, and wildcat on the uplands and in the 
cane-brakes, but also gives a unique description of har- 
pooning the great devil-fish in the warm Southern waters. 
John Palliser, an Englishman, in his " Solitary Hunter," 
has given us the best descriptions of hunting in the far 
West, when it was still an untrodden wilderness. An- 
other Englishman, Ruxton, in two volumes, has left us a 
most vivid picture of the old hunters and trappers them- 
selves. Unfortunately, these old hunters and trappers, 
the men who had most experience in the life of the wil- 
derness, were utterly unable to write about it; they could 
not tell what they had seen or done. Occasional attempts 
have been made to get noted hunters to write books, either 
personally or by proxy, but these attempts have not as 
a rule been successful. Perhaps the best of the books 
thus produced is Hittell's " Adventures of James Capen 
Adams, Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter." 

The first effort to get men of means and cultivation 
in the Northern and Eastern States of the Union to look 
at field sports in the right light was made by an English- 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 333 

man who wrote over the signature of Frank Forrester. 
He did much for the shotgun men; but, unfortunately, 
he was a true cockney, who cared little for really wild 
sports, and he was afflicted with that dreadful pedantry 
which pays more heed to ceremonial and terminology 
than to the thing itself. He was sincerely distressed be- 
cause the male of the ordinary American deer was called 
a buck instead of a stag; and it seemed to him to be a 
matter of moment whether one spoke of a " gang " or a 
" herd " of elk. 

There are plenty of excellent books nowadays, how- 
ever. The best book upon the old plains country was 
Colonel Richard Irving Dodge's " Hunting-Grounds of 
the Great West," which dealt with the chase of most 
kinds of plains game proper. Judge Caton, in his " Ante- 
lope and Deer of America," gave a full account of not 
only the habits and appearance, but the methods of chase 
and life histories of the prongbuck, and of all the dif- 
ferent kinds of deer found in the United States. Dr. 
Allen, in his memoir on the bisons of America, and 
Hornaday, in his book upon their extermination, have 
rendered similar service for the vast herds of shaggy- 
maned wild cattle which have vanished with such mel- 
ancholy rapidity during the lifetime of the present 
generation. Mr. Van Dyke's " Still-Hunter " is a note- 
worthy book, which, for the first time, approaches the 
still-hunter and his favorite game, the deer, from what 
may be called the standpoint of the scientific sportsman. 
It is one of the few hunting-books which should really 
be studied by the beginner because of what he can learn 



334 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

therefrom in reference to the hunter's craft. The Cen- 
tury Co.'s volume " Sport With Gun and Rod " contains 
accounts of the chase of most of the kinds of American 
big game, although there are two or three notable omis- 
sions, such as the elk, the grizzly bear, and the white 
goat. Warburton Pike, Caspar Whitney, and Frederick 
Schwatka have given fairly full and very interesting ac- 
counts of boreal sport; and Pendarves Vivian and Baillie- 
Grohman of hunting trips in the Rockies. A new and 
most important departure, that of photographing wild 
animals in their homes, was marked by Mr. Wallihan's 
" Camera Shots at Big Game." This is a noteworthy 
volume. Mr. Wallihan was the pioneer in a work which 
is of the utmost importance to the naturalist, the man 
of science; and what he accomplished was far more 
creditable to himself, and of far more importance to 
others, than any amount of game-killing. Finally, in 
Parkman's " Oregon Trail " and Irving's " Trip on the 
Prairie," two great writers have left us a lasting record 
of the free life of the rifle-bearing wanderers who first 
hunted in the wild Western lands. 

Though not hunting-books, John Burroughs' writ- 
ings and John Muir's volumes on the Sierras should be 
in the hands of every lover of outdoor life, and there- 
fore in the hands of every hunter who is a nature lover, 
and not a mere game-butcher. 

Of course, there are plenty of books on European 
game. Scrope's "Art of Deerstalking," Bromley Daven- 
port's " Sport," and all the books of Charles St. John, 
are classic. The chase of the wolf and boar is excellently 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 335 

described by an unnamed writer in " Wolf-Hunting and 
Wild Sports of Brittany." Baillie-Grohman's " Sport in 
the Alps " is devoted to the mountain game of Central 
Europe, and is, moreover, a mine of curious hunting lore, 
most of which is entirely new to men unacquainted with 
the history of the chase in Continental Europe during 
the last few centuries. An entirely novel type of ad- 
venture was set forth in Lamont's " Seasons with the Sea 
Horses," wherein he described his hunting in arctic waters 
with rifle and harpoon. Lloyd's " Scandinavian Ad- 
ventures " and " Northern Field Sports," and Whishaw's 
" Out of Doors in Tsar Land," tell of the life and game 
of the snowy northern forests. Chapman has done ex- 
cellent work for both Norway and Spain. It would 
be impossible even to allude to the German and French 
books on the chase, such as the admirable but rather 
technical treatises of Le Couteulx de Canteleu. More- 
over, these books for the most part belong rather in the 
category which includes English fox-hunting literature, 
not in that which deals with big game and the life of 
the wilderness. This is merely to state a difference — not 
to draw a comparison; for the artificial sports of highly 
civilized countries are strongly to be commended for 
their efifect on national character in making good the 
loss of certain of the rougher virtues which tend to dis- 
appear with the rougher conditions. 

In Mr. Edward North Buxton's two volumes of 
" Short Stalks " we find the books of a man who is a 
hardy lover of nature, a skilled hunter, but not a game- 
butcher; a man who has too much serious work on hand 



336 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ever to let himself become a mere globe-trotting rifleman. 
His volumes teach us just what a big game hunter, a true 
sportsman, should be. But the best recent book on the 
wilderness is Herr C. G. Schilling's " Mit Blitzlicht und 
Biichse," giving the writer's hunting adventures, and 
above all his acute scientific observations and his extra- 
ordinary photographic work among the teeming wild 
creatures of German East Africa. Mr. Schilling is a 
great field naturalist, a trained scientific observer, as well 
as a mighty hunter; and no mere hunter can ever do work 
even remotely approaching in value that which he has 
done. His book should be translated into English at once. 
Every efifort should be made to turn the modern big 
game hunter into the Schilling type of adventure-loving 
field naturalist and observer. 

I am not disposed to undervalue manly outdoor sports, 
or to fail to appreciate the advantage to a nation, as well 
as to an individual, of such pastimes; but they must be 
pastimes, and not business, and they must not be carried 
to excess. There is much to be said for the life of a 
professional hunter in lonely lands; but the man able 
to be something more, should be that something more 
— an explorer, a naturalist, or else a man who makes 
his hunting trips merely delightful interludes in his life 
work. As for excessive game butchery, it amounts to a 
repulsive debauch. The man whose chief title to glory 
is that, during an industrious career of destruction, he 
has slaughtered 200,000 head of deer and partridges, 
stands unpleasantly near those continental kings and 
nobles who, curing the centuries before the French Rev- 



BOOKS ON BIG GAME 



337 



olution, deified the chase of the stag, and made it into 
a highly artificial cult, which they followed to the ex- 
clusion of State-craft and war-craft and everything else. 
James, the founder of the ignoble English branch of the 
Stuart kings, as unkingly a man as ever sat on a throne, 
was fanatical in his devotion to the artificial kind of chase 
which then absorbed the souls of the magnates of con- 
tinental Europe. 

There is no need to exercise much patience with men 
who protest against field sports, unless, indeed, they are 
logical vegetarians of the flabbiest Hindoo type. If no 
deer or rabbits were killed, no crops could be cultivated. 
If it is morally right to kill an animal to eat its body, 
then it is morally right to kill it to preserve its head. A 
good sportsman will not hesitate as to the relative value 
he puts upon the two, and to get the one he will go a long 
time without eating the other. No nation facing the un- 
healthy softening and relaxation of fibre which tend to 
accompany civilization can afiford to neglect anything 
that will develop hardihood, resolution, and the scorn of 
discomfort and danger. But if sport is made an end in- 
stead of a means, it is better to avoid it altogether. The 
greatest stag-hunter of the seventeenth century was the 
Elector of Saxony. During the Thirty Years' War he 
killed some 80,000 deer and boar. Now, if there ever 
was a time when a ruler needed to apply himself to 
serious matters, it was during the Thirty Years' War in 
Germany, and if the Elector in question had eschewed 
hunting he might have compared more favorably with 
Gustavus Adolphus in his own generation, or the Great 



338 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Elector of Brandenburg in the next generation. The 
kings of the House of Savoy have shown that the love 
of hardy field sports in no w^ay interferes with the exer- 
cise of the highest kind of governmental ability. 

Wellington was fond of fox-hunting, but he did very 
little of it during the period of the Peninsular War. 
Grant cared much for fine horses, but he devoted his at- 
tention to other matters when facing Lee before Rich- 
mond. Perhaps as good an illustration as could be wished 
of the effects of the opposite course is furnished by poor 
Louis XVL He took his sport more seriously than he 
did his position as ruler of his people. On the day when 
the revolutionary mob came to Versailles, he merely re- 
corded in his diary that he had *' gone out shooting, and 
had killed eighty-one head when he was interrupted by 
events." The particular event to which this " interrup- 
tion " led up was the guillotine. Not many sportsmen 
have to face such a possibility; but they do run the risk 
of becoming a curse to themselves and to everyone else, 
if they once get into the frame of mind which can look 
on the business of life as merely an interruption to sport. 



CHAPTER XI 

AT HOME 

Only a few men, comparatively speaking, lead their 
lives in the wilderness; only a few others, again speak- 
ing comparatively, are able to take their holidays in the 
shape of hunting trips in the wilderness. But all who 
live in the country, or who even spend a month now 
and then in the country, can enjoy outdoor life them- 
selves, and can see that their children enjoy it in the hardy 
fashion which will do them good. Camping out, and 
therefore the cultivation of the capacity to live in the 
open, and the education of the faculties which teach ob- 
servation, resourcefulness, self-reliance, are within the 
reach of all who really care for the life of the woods, 
the fields, and the waters. Marksmanship with the rifle 
can be cultivated with small cost or trouble; and if any 
one passes much time in the country he can, if only he 
chooses, learn much about horsemanship. 

But aside from any such benefit, it is an incalculable 
added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or 
she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to 
read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature. All hunters 
should be nature lovers. It is to be hoped that the days 
of mere wasteful, boastful slaughter, are past, and that 
from now on the hunter will stand foremost in working 

339 



340 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



for the preservation and perpetuation of the wild life, 
whether big or little. 

The Audubon Society and kindred organizations 
have done much for the proper protection of birds and 
of wild creatures generally; they have taken the lead in 
putting a stop to wanton or short-sighted destruction, and 
in giving effective utterance to the desires of those who 
wish to cultivate a spirit as far removed as possible from 
that which brings about such destruction. Sometimes, 
however, in endeavoring to impress upon a not easily 
aroused public the need for action, they in their zeal over- 
state this need. This is a very venial error compared to 
the good they have done; but in the interest of scientific 
accuracy it is to be desired that their cause should not 
be buttressed in such manner. Many of our birds have 
diminished lamentably in numbers, and there is every 
reason for taking steps to preserve them. There are wa- 
ter birds, shore birds, game birds, and an occasional con- 
spicuous bird of some other kind, which can only be 
preserved by such agitation. It is also most desirable 
to prevent the slaughter of small birds in the neighbor- 
hood of towns. But I question very much whether there 
has been any diminution of small-bird life throughout 
the country at large. Certainly no such diminution has 
taken place during the past thirty years in any region of 
considerable size with which I am personally acquainted. 
Take Long Island, for instance. During this period 
there has been a lamentable decrease in the waders — the 
shore-birds — which used to flock along its southern shore. 
But in northern Long Island, in the neighborhood of my 




RENOWN 

From n photograph by Arthur Hewitt 



AT HOME 341 

own home, birds, taken as a whole, are quite as plentiful 
as they were when I was a boy. There are one or two 
species which have decreased in numbers, notably the 
woodcock; while the passenger pigeon, which was then 
a rarely seen straggler, does not now appear at all. Bob- 
whites are less plentiful. On the other hand, some birds 
have certainly increased in numbers. This is true, for 
instance, of the conspicuously beautiful and showy scar- 
let tanager. I think meadow larks are rather more 
plentiful than they were, and wrens less so. Bluebirds 
have never been common with us, but are now rather 
more common than formerly. It seems to me as if the 
chickadees were more numerous than formerly. Purple 
grakles are more plentiful than when I was a boy, and 
the far more attractive redwing blackbirds less so. But 
these may all be, and doubtless some must be, purely 
local changes, which apply only to our immediate neigh- 
borhood. As regards most of the birds, it would be hard 
to say that there has been any change. Of course, obvi- 
ous local causes will now and then account for a partial 
change. Thus, while the little green herons are quite 
as plentiful as formerly in our immediate neighborhood, 
the white-crowned night herons are not as plentiful, be- 
cause they abandoned their big heronry on Lloyd's Neck 
upon the erection of a sandmill close by. The only ducks 
which are now, or at any time during the last thirty years 
have been, abundant in our neighborhood are the surf- 
ducks or scoters, and the old-squaws, sometimes known 
as long-tailed or sou'-sou'-southerly ducks. From late 
fall until early spring the continuous musical clangor of 



342 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the great flocks of sou'-sou'-southerlies, sounding across 
the steel-gray, wintry waves, is well known to all who 
sail the waters of the Sound. 

Neither the birds nor the flowers are as numerous on 
Long Island, or at any rate in my neighborhood, as they 
are, for instance, along the Hudson and near Washing- 
ton. It is hard to say exactly why flowers and birds are 
at times so local in their distribution. For instance, the 
bobolinks hardly ever come around us at Sagamore Hill. 
Within a radius of three or four miles of the house I do 
not remember to have ever seen more than two or three 
couples breeding. Sharp-tailed finches are common in 
the marsh which lies back of our beach; but the closely 
allied seaside finches and the interesting and attractive 
little marsh wrens, both of which are common in vari- 
ous parts of Long Island, are not found near our home. 
Similarly, I know of but one place near our house where 
the bloodroot grows; the may-flowers are plentiful, but 
among hillsides to all appearance equally favored, are 
found on some, and not on others. For wealth of bloom, 
aside from the orchards, we must rely chiefly upon the 
great masses of laurel and the many groves of locusts. 
The bloom of the locust is as evanescent as it is fragrant. 
During the short time that the trees are in flower the 
whole air is heavy with the sweet scent. In the fall, in 
the days of the aster and the golden-rod, there is no 
such brilliant coloring on Long Island as farther north, 
for we miss from among the forest hues the flaming 
crimsons and scarlets of the northern maples. 

Among Long Island singers the wood-thrushes are 




HIS FIRST BUCK 



AT HOME 343 

the sweetest; they nest right around our house, and also 
in the more open woods of oak, hickory, and chestnut, 
where their serene, leisurely songs ring through the leafy 
arches all day long, but especially at daybreak and in 
the afternoons. Baltimore orioles, beautiful of voice 
and plumage, hang their nests in a young elm near a 
corner of the porch; robins, catbirds, valiant kingbirds, 
song-sparrows, chippies, bright colored thistle-finches, 
nest within a stone's throw of the house, in the shrub- 
bery or among the birches and maples; grasshopper 
sparrows, humble little creatures with insect-like voices, 
nest almost as close, in the open field, just beyond the 
line where the grass is kept cut; humming-birds visit 
the honeysuckles and trumpet-flowers; chimney swallows 
build in the chimneys; barn swallows nest in the stable 
and old barn, wrens in the bushes near by. Downy 
woodpeckers and many other birds make their homes 
in the old orchard; during the migrations it is alive 
with warblers. Towhees, thrashers, and Maryland yel- 
low-throats build and sing in the hedges by the garden; 
bush sparrows and dainty little prairie warblers in the 
cedar-grown field beyond. Red-wing blackbirds haunt 
the wet places. Chickadees wander everywhere; the 
wood-pewees, red-eyed vireos, and black and white creep- 
ers keep to the tall timber, where the wary, thievish 
jays chatter, and the great-crested fly-catchers flit and 
scream. In the early spring, when the woods are still 
bare, when the hen-hawks cry as they soar high in the 
upper air, and the flickers call and drum on the dead 
trees, the strong, plaintive note of the meadow lark is 



344 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

one of the most noticeable and most attractive sounds. 
On the other hand, the cooing of the mourning doves 
is most noticeable in the still, hot summer days. In 
the thick tangles chats creep and flutter and jerk, and 
chuckle and whoop as they sing; I have heard them sing 
by night. The cedar birds offer the most absolute con- 
trast to the chats, in voice, manner, and habits. They 
never hide, they are never fussy or noisy; they always 
behave as if they were so well-bred that it is impossible 
to resent the inroads the soft, quiet, pretty creatures make 
among the cherries. One flicker became possessed of a 
mania to dig its hole in one corner of the house, just 
under the roof. It hammered lustily at boards and 
shingles, and returned whenever driven away; until at 
last we were reluctantly forced to decree its death. Oven- 
birds are very plentiful, and it seems to me that their 
flight song is more frequently given after dusk than in 
daylight. It is sometimes given when the whippoor- 
wills are calling. In late June evenings, especially by 
moonlight, but occasionally even when the night is dark, 
we hear this song from the foot of the hill where the 
woods begin. There seems to be one particular corner 
where year after year one or more oven-birds dwell 
which possess an especial fondness for this night-sing- 
ing in the air. It is a pity the little eared owl is called 
screech-owl. Its tremulous, quavering cry is not a 
screech at all, and has an attraction of its own. These 
little owls come up to the house after dark, and are fond 
of sitting on the elk antlers over the gable. When the 
moon is up, by choosing one's position, the little owl 




ALGONQUIN AND SKIP 



AT HOME 345 

appears in sharp outline against the bright disk, seated 
on his many-tined perch. 

The neighborhood of Washington abounds in birds 
no less than in flowers. There have been one or two 
rather curious changes among its birds since John Bur- 
roughs wrote of them forty years ago. He speaks of the 
red-headed woodpecker as being then one of the most 
abundant of all birds — even more so than the robin. It 
is not uncommon now, and a pair have for three years 
nested in the White House grounds; but it is at present 
by no means an abundant bird. On the other hand, John 
Burroughs never saw any mocking-birds, whereas during 
the last few years these have been increasing in numbers, 
and there are now several places within easy walking or 
riding distance where we are almost sure to find them. 
The mocking-bird is as conspicuous as it is attractive, 
and when at its best it is the sweetest singer of all birds; 
though its talent for mimicry, and a certain odd perversity 
in its nature, often combine to mar its performances. The 
way it flutters and dances in the air when settling in a 
tree-top, its alert intelligence, its good looks, and the com- 
parative ease with which it can be made friendly and 
familiar, all add to its charm. I am sorry to say that 
it does not nest in the White House grounds. Neither 
does the wood-thrush, which is so abundant in Rock 
Creek Park, within the city limits. Numbers of robins, 
song-sparrows, sputtering, creaking purple grakles — 
crow blackbirds — and catbirds nest in the grounds. So, I 
regret to say, do crows, the sworn foes of all small birds, 
and as such entitled to no mercy. The hearty, whole- 



346 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

some, vigorous songs of the robins, and the sweet, home- 
like strains of the song-sparrows are the first to be regu- 
larly heard in the grounds, and they lead the chorus. 
The catbirds chime in later; they are queer, familiar, 
strongly individual birds, and are really good singers; 
but they persist in interrupting their songs with cat- 
like squalling. Two or three pairs of flickers nest 
with us, as well as the red-headed woodpeckers above 
mentioned; and a pair of furtive cuckoos. A pair of 
orchard orioles nested with us one spring, but not 
again; the redstarts, warbling vireos, and summer war- 
blers have been more faithful. Baltimore orioles fre- 
quently visit us, as do the scarlet tanagers and tufted 
titmice, but for some reason they have not nested here. 
This spring a cardinal bird took up his abode in the 
neighborhood of the White House, and now and then 
waked us in the morning by his vigorous whistling in 
a magnolia tree just outside our windows. A Carolina 
wren also spent the winter with us, and sang freely. 
In both spring and fall the white-throated sparrows 
sing while stopping over in the course of their migra- 
tions. Their delicate, plaintive, musical notes are among 
the most attractive of bird sounds. In the early spring 
we sometimes hear the fox-sparrows and tree-sparrows, 
and of course the twittering snow-birds. Later war- 
blers of many kinds throng the trees around the house. 
Rabbits breed in the grounds, and every now and then 
possums wander into them. Gray squirrels are numer- 
ous, and some of them so tame that they will eat out of 
our hands. In spring they cut the flowers from the stately 




PETER RABBIT 
From a photograph, copyright, 1004, by E. S. Curtis 



AT HOME 347 

tulip trees. In the hot June days the indigo birds are 
especially in evidence among the singers around Wash- 
ington ; they do not mind the heat at all, but perch in the 
tops of little trees in the full glare of the sun, and chant 
their not very musical, but to my ears rather pleasing, 
song throughout the long afternoons. This June two new 
guests came to the White House in the shape of two little 
saw-whet owls; little bits of fellows, with round heads, 
and no head tufts, or " ears," I think they were the 
young of the year; they never uttered the saw-whet 
sound, but made soft snoring noises. They always ap- 
peared after nightfall, when we were sitting on the south 
porch, in the warm, starlit darkness. They were fear- 
less and unsuspicious. Sometimes they flew noiselessly to 
and fro, and seemingly caught big insects on the wing. 
At other times they would perch on the iron awning- 
bars, directly overhead. Once one of them perched over 
one of the windows, and sat motionless, looking exactly 
like an owl of Pallas Athene. 

At Sagamore Hill we like to have the wood-folk and 
field-folk familiar; but there are necessary bounds to such 
familiarity where chickens are kept for use and where 
the dogs are valued family friends. The rabbits and gray 
squirrels are as plenty as ever. The flying squirrels and 
chipmunks still hold their own; so do the muskrats in 
the marshes. The woodchucks, which we used to watch 
as we sat in rocking-chairs on the broad veranda, have 
disappeared; but recently one has made himself a home 
under the old barn, where we are doing our best to pro- 
tect him. A mink which lived by the edge of the bay 



348 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

under a great pile of lumber had to be killed; its lair 
showed the remains not only of chickens and ducks, but 
of two muskrats, and, what was rather curious, of two 
skates or flatfish. A fox which lived in the big wood lot 
evidently disliked our companionship and abandoned his 
home. Of recent years I have actually seen but one fox 
near Sagamore Hill. This was early one morning, when 
I had spent the night camping on the wooded shores near 
the mouth of Huntington Harbor. The younger chil- 
dren were with me, this being one of the camping-out 
trips, in rowboats, on the Sound, taken especially for their 
benefit. We had camped the previous evening in a glade 
by the edge of a low sea-bluff, far away from any house; 
and while the children were intently watching me as I 
fried strips of beefsteak and thin slices of potatoes in 
bacon fat, we heard a fox barking in the woods. This 
gave them a delightfully wild feeling, and with re- 
freshing confidence they discussed the likelihood of 
seeing it next morning; and to my astonishment see 
it we did, on the shore, soon after we started to row 
home. 

One pleasant fall morning in 1892 I was writing in 
the gun-room, on the top floor of the house, from the 
windows of which one can see far over the Sound. Sud- 
denly my small boy of five bustled up in great excite- 
ment to tell me that the hired-man had come back from 
the wood-pile pond — a muddy pool in a beech and 
hickory grove a few hundred yards from the house — to 
say that he had seen a coon and that I should come 
down at once with my rifle; for Davis, the colored gar- 




THE GUINEA-PIGS 



AT HOME 



349 



dener, had been complaining much about the loss of his 
chickens and did not know whether the malefactor was 
a coon or a mink. Accordingly, I picked up a rifle and 
trotted down to the pond holding it in one hand, while 
the little boy trotted after me, affectionately clasping the 
butt. Sure enough, in a big blasted chestnut close to 
the pond was the coon, asleep in a shallow hollow of 
the trunk, some forty feet from the ground. It was a 
very exposed place for a coon to lie during the daytime, 
but this was a bold fellow and seemed entirely undis- 
turbed by our voices. He was altogether too near the 
house, or rather the chicken-coops, to be permitted to 
stay where he was — especially as but a short time before 
I had, with mistaken soft-heartedness, spared a possum 
I found on the place — and accordingly I raised my rifle; 
then I remembered for the first time that the rear sight 
was off, as I had taken it out for some reason; and in 
consequence I underwent the humiliation of firing two 
or three shots in vain before I got the coon. As he 
fell out of the tree the little boy pounced gleefully on 
him; fortunately he was dead, and we walked back to 
the house in triumph, each holding a hind leg of the 
quarry. 

The possum spoken of above was found in a dogwood 
tree not more than eighty yards from the house, one after- 
noon when we were returning from a walk in the woods. 
As something had been killing the hens, I felt that it was 
at least under suspicion and that I ought to kill it, but 
a possum is such an absurd creature that I could not 
resist playing with it for some time; after that I felt that 



35° 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



to kill it in cold-blood would be too much like murder, 
and let it go. This tender-heartedness was regarded as 
much misplaced both by farmer and gardener; hence the 
coon suffered. 

A couple of years later, on a clear, cold Thanksgiving 
Day, we had walked off some five miles to chop out a 
bridle-path which had become choked with down-tim- 
ber; the two elder of our little boys were with us. The 
sun had set long ere our return; we were walking home 
on a road through our own woods and were near the 
house. We had with us a stanch friend, a large yel- 
low dog, which one of the children, with fine disregard 
for considerations of sex, had named Susan. Suddenly 
Susan gave tongue off in the woods to one side and we 
found he had treed a possum. This time I was hard- 
hearted and the possum fell a victim; the five-year-old 
boy explaining to the seven-year-old that " it was the 
first time he had ever seen a fellow killed." 

Susan was one of many dogs whose lives were a joy 
and whose deaths were a real grief to the family; among 
them and their successors are or have been Sailor Boy, 
the Chesapeake Bay dog, who not only loves guns, but 
also fireworks and rockets, and who exercises a close and 
delighted supervision over every detail of each Fourth 
of July celebration; Alan and Jessie, the Scotch ter- 
riers; and Jack, the most loved of all, a black smooth- 
haired Manchester terrier. Jack lived in the house; 
the others outside, ever on the lookout to join the family 
in rambles through the woods. Jack was human in his 
intelligence and affection; he learned all kinds of tricks. 



AT HOME 351 

was a high-bred gentleman, never brawled, and was a 
dauntless fighter. Besides the family, his especial friend, 
playfellow, and teacher was colored Charles, the foot- 
man at Washington. Skip, the little black-and-tan ter- 
rier that I brought back from the Colorado bear hunt, 
changed at once into a real little-boy's dog. He never 
lets his small master out of his sight, and rides on every 
horse that will let him — by preference on Algonquin the 
sheltie, whose nerves are of iron. 

The first night possum hunt in which I ever took part 
was at Quantico, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, 
some twenty miles below Washington. It was a number 
of years ago, and several of us were guests of a loved 
friend, Hallett Phillips, since dead. Although no hunter, 
Phillips was devoted to outdoor life. I think it was at 
this time that Rudyard Kipling had sent him the manu- 
script of " The Feet of the Young Men," which he read 
aloud to us. 

Quantico is an island, a quaint, delightful place, with 
a club-house. We started immediately after dark, going 
across to the mainland, accompanied by a dozen hounds, 
with three or four negroes to manage them and serve as 
axemen. Each member of the party carried a torch, 
as without one it was impossible to go at any speed 
through the woods. The dogs, of course, have to be spe- 
cially trained not to follow either fox or rabbit. It was 
dawn before we got back, wet, muddy, and weary, carry- 
ing eleven possums. All night long we rambled through 
the woods and across the fields, the dogs working about 
us as we followed in single file. After a while some dog 



352 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

would strike a trail. It might take some time to puzzle 
it out; then the whole pack would be away, and all the 
men ran helter-skelter after them, plunging over logs and 
through swamps, and now and then taking headers in 
the darkness. We were never fortunate enough to strike 
a coon, which would have given a good run and a fight 
at the end of it. When the unfortunate possum was over- 
taken on the ground he was killed before we got up. 
Otherwise he was popped alive into one of the big bags 
carried by the axemen. Two or three times he got into a 
hollow log or hole and we dug or chopped him out. Gen- 
erally, however, he went up a tree. It was a picturesque 
sight, in the flickering glare of the torches, to see the dogs 
leaping up around the trunk of a tree and finally to make 
out the possum clinging to the trunk or perched on some 
slender branch, his eyes shining brightly through the 
darkness; or to watch the muscular grace with which the 
darky axemen, ragged and sinewy, chopped into any tree 
if it had too large and smooth a trunk to climb. A pos- 
sum is a queer, sluggish creature, whose brain seems to 
work more like that of some reptile than like a mam- 
mal's. When one is found in a tree there is no difficulty 
whatever in picking it off with the naked hand. Two 
or three times during the night I climbed the tree myself, 
either going from branch to branch or swarming up some 
tangle of grape-vines. The possum opened his mouth as 
I approached and looked as menacing as he knew how; 
but if I pulled him by the tail he forgot everything ex- 
cept trying to grab with all four feet, and then I could 
take him by the back of the neck and lift him off — either 



AT HOME 353 

carrying him down, held gingerly at arm's length, or 
dropping him into the open mouth of a bag if I felt suf- 
ficiently sure of my aim. 

In the spring of 1903, while in western Kansas, a little 
girl gave me a baby badger, captured by her brother, and 
named after him, Josiah. I took Josiah home to Saga- 
more Hill, where the children received him literally with 
open arms, while even the dogs finally came to tolerate 
him. He grew apace, and was a quaint and on the whole 
a friendly — though occasionally short-tempered — pet. 
He played tag with us with inexhaustible energy, looking 
much like a small mattress with a leg at each corner; he 
dug holes with marvellous rapidity; and when he grew 
snappish we lifted him up by the back of the neck, which 
rendered him harmless. He ate bread and milk, dead 
mice and birds, and eggs; he would take a hen's egg in 
his mouth, break it, and avoid spilling any of the contents. 
When angered, he hissed, and at other times he made low 
guttural sounds. The nine-year-old boy became his espe- 
cial friend. Now and then he nipped the little boy's 
legs, but this never seemed to interrupt the amicable rela- 
tions between the two; as the little boy normally wore 
neither shoes nor stockings, and his blue overalls were 
thin, Josiah probably found the temptation at times irre- 
sistible. If on such occasions the boy was in Josiah's 
wire-fenced enclosure, he sat on a box with his legs tucked 
under him; if the play was taking place outside, he 
usually climbed into the hammock, while Josiah pranced 
and capered clumsily beneath, tail up and head thrown 
back. But Josiah never bit when picked up ; although 



354 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

he hissed like a teakettle as the little boy carried him 
about, usually tightly clasped round where his waist 
would have been if he had had one. 

At different times I have been given a fairly appalling 
number of animals, from known and unknown friends; in 
one year the list included — besides a lion, a hyena, and a 
zebra from the Emperor of Ethiopia — five bears, a wild- 
cat, a coyote, two macaws, an eagle, a barn owl, and sev- 
eral snakes and lizards. Most of these went to the Zoo, 
but a few were kept by the children. Those thus kept 
numbered at one end of the scale gentle, trustful, pretty 
things, like kangaroo rats and flying squirrels; and at the 
other end a queer-tempered young black bear, which the 
children named Jonathan Edwards, partly because of cer- 
tain well-marked Calvinistic tendencies in his disposition, 
partly out of compliment to their mother, whose ances- 
tors included that Puritan divine. The kangaroo rats and 
flying squirrels slept in their pockets and blouses, went to 
school with them, and sometimes unexpectedly appeared 
at breakfast or dinner. The bear added zest to life in 
more ways than one. When we took him to walk, it was 
always with a chain and club ; and when at last he went 
to the Zoo, the entire household breathed a sigh of relief, 
although I think the dogs missed him, as he had occa- 
sionally yielded them the pleasure of the chase in its 
strongest form. 

As a steady thing, the children found rabbits and 
guinea pigs the most satisfactory pets. The guinea pigs 
usually rejoiced in the names of the local or national 
celebrities of the moment; at one time there were five, 




JOSIAH 



AT HOME 355 

which were named after naval heroes and friendly ecclesi- 
astical dignitaries — an Episcopalian Bishop, a Catholic 
Priest, and my own Dutch Reformed Pastor — Bishop 
Doane, Father O'Grady, Dr. Johnson, Fighting Bob 
Evans, and Admiral Dewey. Father O'Grady, by the 
way, proved to be of the softer sex; a fact definitely estab- 
lished when two of his joint owners, rushing breathless 
into the room, announced to a mixed company, " Oh, oh, 
Father O'Grady has had some children! " 

Of course there are no pets like horses; and horse- 
manship is a test of prowess. The best among vigorous 
out-of-door sports should be more than pastimes. Play 
is good for play's sake, within moderate limits, especially 
if it is athletic play; and, again within moderate limits, 
it is good because a healthy body helps toward healthi- 
ness of mind. But if play serves only either of these 
ends, it does not deserve the serious consideration which 
rightly attaches to play which in itself fits a man to do 
things worth doing; and there exists no creature much 
more contemptible than a man past his first youth who 
leads a life devoted to mere sport, without thought of the 
serious work of life. In a free Government the average 
citizen should be able to do his duty in war as well as in 
peace; otherwise he falls short. Cavalrymen and infan- 
trymen, who do not need special technical knowledge, arc 
easily developed out of men who are already soldiers in 
the rough, that is, who, in addition to the essential quali- 
ties of manliness and character, the qualities of resolution, 
daring and intelligence, which go to make up the " fight- 
ing edge," also possess physical hardihood; who can live 



356 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

in the open, walk long distances, ride, shoot, and endure 
fatigue, hardship, and exposure. But if all these traits 
must be painfully acquired, then it takes a long time in- 
deed before the man can be turned into a good soldier. 
Now, there is little tendency to develop these traits in our 
highly complex, rather over-civilized, modern industrial 
life, and therefore the sports which produce them serve 
a useful purpose. Hence, when able to afiford a horse, 
or to practise on a rifle range, one can feel that the enjoy- 
ment is warranted by what may be called considerations 
of national ethics. 

As with everything else, so with riding; some take to 
it naturally, others never can become even fairly good 
horsemen. All the children ride, with varying skill. 
While young, a Shetland pony serves; the present pony, 
Algonquin, a calico or pinto, being as knowing and 
friendly as possible. His first small owner simply adored 
him, treating him as a twin brother, and having implicit 
faith in his mental powers. On one occasion, when a 
naval officer of whom the children were fond came to 
call, in full dress, Algonquin's master, who was much 
impressed by the sight, led up Algonquin to enjoy it too, 
and was shocked by the entire indifference with which the 
greedy pony persisted in eating grass. One favorite polo 
pony, old Diamond, long after he became a pensioner, 
served for whichever child had just graduated from the 
sheltie. Next in order was a little mare named Yagenka, 
after the heroine of one of Sienkewicz's blood-curdling 
romances of mediaeval Poland. When every rideable 
animal is impressed, all the children sometimes go out 




BLEISTEIN JUMPING 
From a photograpli, copyright, 1002, by Clinedinst, Washington, D. C. 



AT HOME 357 

with their mother and me; looking much like the Cum- 
berbatch family in Caldecott's pictures. 

Of recent years I have not been able to ride to hounds ; 
but when opportunity has offered I have kept as saddle 
horses one or two hunters, so that instead of riding the 
road I could strike oflf across country; the hunter scram- 
bling handily through rough places, and jumping an oc- 
casional fence if necessary. While in Washington this 
is often, except for an occasional long walk down Rock 
Creek or along the Virginia side of the Potomac, the 
only exercise I can get. Among the various horses I have 
owned in recent years Bleistein was the one I liked best, 
because of his good nature and courage. He was a fair, 
although in no way a remarkable, jumper. One day, 
May 3, 1902, I took him out to Chevy Chase and had 
him photographed while jumping various fences and 
brush hurdles; the accompanying picture is from one of 
these photos. Another hunter. Renown, was a much 
higher, but an uncertain, jumper. He was a beau- 
tiful horse, and very good-tempered, but excessively 
timid. 

We have been able to fix a rifle range at Sagamore, 
though only up to 200 yards. Some of the children take 
to shooting naturally, others can only with difficulty be 
made to learn the rudiments of what they regard as a 
tiresome business. Many friends have shot on this range. 
We use only sporting rifles; my own is one of the new 
model Government Springfields, stocked and sighted to 
suit myself. For American game the modern small cali- 
bre, high power, smokeless powder rifle, of any one 



358 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

among several makes, is superseding the others ; although 
for some purposes an old 45-70 or 45-90, even with black 
powder, is as good as any modern weapon, and for very 
heavy game the calibre should be larger than that of the 
typical modern arm, with a heavier ball and more 
powder. But after all, any good modern rifle is good 
enough; when a certain pitch of excellence in the weapon 
has been attained, then the determining factor in achiev- 
ing success is the quality of the man behind the gun. 

My eldest boy killed his first buck just before he was 
fourteen, and his first moose — a big bull with horns 
which spread 56 inches — just before he was seventeen. 
Both were killed in the wilderness, in the great north 
woods, on trips sufficiently hard to afford some test of 
endurance and skill. Such a hunting trip is even more 
than a delightful holiday, provided the work is hard as 
well as enjoyable; and therefore it must be taken in the 
wilderness. Big private preserves may serve a useful 
purpose if managed with such judgment and kindliness 
that the good will of the neighborhood is secured; but 
the sport in them somehow seems to have lost its savor, 
even though they may be large enough to give the chance 
of testing a man's woodcraft no less than his marksman- 
ship. I have but once hunted in one of them. That 
was in the fall of 1902, when Senator Proctor took me 
into the Corbin Park game preserve in New Hampshire. 
The Senator is not merely a good shot; he is a good 
hunter, with the eye, the knowledge of the game, and the 
ability to take advantage of cover and walk silently, 
which are even more important than straight powder. 



AT HOME 359 

He took me out alone for the afternoon, and, besides the 
tame buffalo, he showed me one elk and over twenty deer. 
We were only after the wild boar, which have flourished 
wonderfully. Just at dusk we saw a three-year-old boar 
making his way toward an old deserted orchard; and 
creeping up, I shot him as he munched apples under one 
of the trees. 



CHAPTER XII 

IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 

In October, 1907, I spent a fortnight in the cane- 
brakes of northern Louisiana, my hosts being Messrs. 
John M. Parker and John A. Mcllhenny. Surgeon- 
General Rixey, of the United States Navy, and Dr. Alex- 
ander Lambert were with me. I was especially anxious 
to kill a bear in these canebrakes after the fashion of the 
old Southern planters, who for a century past have fol- 
lowed the bear with horse, hound and horn in Louisiana, 
Mississippi and Arkansas. 

Our first camp was on Tensas Bayou. This is in the 
heart of the great alluvial bottom-land created during 
the countless ages through which the mighty Mississippi 
has poured out of the heart of the continent. It is in the 
black belt of the South, in which the negroes outnumber 
the whites four or five to one, the disproportion in the 
region in which I was actually hunting being far greater. 
There is no richer soil in all the earth ; and when, as will 
soon be the case, the chances of disaster from flood are 
over, I believe the whole land will be cultivated and 
densely peopled. At present the possibility of such flood 
is a terrible deterrent to settlement, for when the Father 
of Waters breaks his boundaries he turns the country 
for a breadth of eighty miles into one broad river, the 

plantations throughout all this vast extent being from 

360 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 361 

five to twenty feet under water. Cotton is the staple 
industry, corn also being grown, while there are a few 
rice fields and occasional small patches of sugar cane. 
The plantations are for the most part of large size and 
tilled by negro tenants for the white owners. Condi- 
tions are still in some respects like those of the pioneer 
days. The magnificent forest growth which covers the 
land is of little value because of the difficulty in getting 
the trees to market, and the land is actually worth more 
after the timber has been removed than before. In con- 
sequence, the larger trees are often killed by girdling, 
where the work of felling them would entail dispropor- 
tionate cost and labor. At dusk, with the sunset glimmer- 
ing in the west, or in the brilliant moonlight wiien the 
moon is full, the cotton fields have a strange spectral look, 
with the dead trees raising aloft their naked branches. 
The cotton fields themselves, when the bolls burst open, 
seem almost as if whitened by snow; and the red and 
white flowers, interspersed among the burst-open pods, 
make the whole field beautiful. The rambling one-story 
houses, surrounded by outbuildings, have a picturesque- 
ness all their own; their very looks betoken the lavish, 
whole-hearted, generous hospitality of the planters who 
dwell therein. 

Beyond the end of cultivation towers the great forest. 
Wherever the water stands in pools, and by the edges of 
the lakes and bayous, the giant cypress looms aloft, 
rivalled in size by some of the red gums and white oaks. 
In stature, in towering majesty, they are unsurpassed by 
any trees of our eastern forests; lordlier kings of the 



362 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

green-leaved world are not to be found until we reach 
the sequoias and red-woods of the Sierras. Among them 
grow many other trees — hackberry, thorn, honey locust, 
tupelo, pecan and ash. In the cypress sloughs the singu- 
lar knees of the trees stand two or three feet above the 
black ooze. Palmettos grow thickly in places. The cane- 
brakes stretch along the slight rises of ground, often ex- 
tending for miles, forming one of the most striking and 
interesting features of the country. They choke out other 
growth, the feathery, graceful canes standing tall, slen- 
der, serried, each but a few inches from his brother, and 
springing to a height of fifteen or twenty feet. They look 
like bamboos; they are well-nigh impenetrable for a man 
on horseback; even on foot they make difficult walking 
unless free use is made of the heavy bushknife. It is im- 
possible to see through them for more than fifteen or 
twenty paces, and often for not half that distance. Bears 
make their lairs in them, and they are the refuge for 
hunted things. Outside of them, in the swamp, bushes 
of many kinds grow thick among the tall trees, and vines 
and creepers climb the trunks and hang in trailing fes- 
toons from the branches. Here likewise the bushknife 
is in constant play, as the skilled horsemen thread their 
way, often at a gallop, in and out among the great tree 
trunks, and through the dense, tangled, thorny under- 
growth. 

In the lakes and larger bayous we saw alligators and 
garfish; and monstrous snapping turtles, fearsome brutes 
of the slime, as heavy as a man, and with huge horny 
beaks that with a single snap could take off a man's hand 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 363 

or foot. One of the planters with us had lost part of his 
hand by the bite of an alligator; and had seen a compan- 
ion seized by the foot by a huge garfish from which he 
was rescued with the utmost difficulty by his fellow- 
swimmers. There were black bass in the waters too, and 
they gave us many a good meal. Thick-bodied water 
moccasins, foul and dangerous, kept near the water; and 
farther back in the swamp we found and killed rattle- 
snakes and copperheads. 

Coon and possum were very plentiful, and in the 
streams there were minks and a few otters. Black squir- 
rels barked in the tops of the tall trees or descended to the 
ground to gather nuts or gnaw the shed deer antlers — the 
latter a habit they shared with the wood rats. To me the 
most interesting of the smaller mammals, however, were 
the swamp rabbits, which are thoroughly amphibious in 
their habits, not only swimming but diving, and taking 
to the water almost as freely as if they were muskrats. 
They lived in the depths of the woods and beside the 
lonely bayous. 

Birds were plentiful. Mocking birds abounded in 
the clearings, where, among many sparrows of more com- 
mon kind, I saw the painted finch, the gaudily colored 
brother of our little indigo bunting, though at this season 
his plumage was faded and dim. In the thick woods 
where we hunted there were many cardinal birds and 
Carolina wrens, both in full song. Thrashers were even 
more common; but so cautious that it was rather difficult 
to see them, in spite of their incessant clucking and call- 
ing and their occasional bursts of song. There were 



364 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

crowds of warblers and vireos of many different kinds, 
evidently migrants from the north, and generally silent. 
The most characteristic birds, however, were the wood- 
peckers, of which there were seven or eight species, the 
commonest around our camp being the handsome red- 
bellied, the brother of the red-head which we saw in the 
clearings. The most notable birds and those which most 
interested me were the great ivory-billed woodpeckers. 
Of these I saw three, all of them in groves of giant 
cypress; their brilliant white bills contrasted finely with 
the black of their general plumage. They were noisy 
but wary, and they seemed to me to set off the wildness of 
the swamp as much as any of the beasts of the chase. 
Among the birds of prey the commonest were the barred 
owls, which I have never elsewhere seen so plentiful. 
Their hooting and yelling were heard all around us 
throughout the night, and once one of them hooted at 
intervals for several minutes at midday. One of these 
owls had caught and was devouring a snake in the late 
afternoon, while it was still daylight. In the dark nights 
and still mornings and evenings their cries seemed strange 
and unearthly, the long hoots varied by screeches, and 
by all kinds of uncanny noises. 

At our first camp our tents were pitched by the bayou. 
For four days the weather was hot, with steaming rains; 
after that it grew cool and clear. Huge biting flies, 
bigger than bees, attacked our horses; but the insect 
plagues, so veritable a scourge in this country during the 
months of warm weather, had well-nigh vanished in the 
first few weeks of the fall. 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 365 

The morning after we reached camp we were joined 
by Ben Lilley, the hunter, a spare, full-bearded man, with 
wild, gentle, blue eyes and a frame of steel and whipcord. 
I never met any other man so indifferent to fatigue and 
hardship. He equalled Cooper's Deerslayer in wood- 
craft, in hardihood, in simplicity — and also in loquacity. 
The morning he joined us in camp, he had come on foot 
through the thick woods, followed by his two dogs, and 
had neither eaten nor drunk for twenty-four hours; for 
he did not like to drink the swamp water. It had rained 
hard throughout the night and he had no shelter, no 
rubber coat, nothing but the clothes he was wearing, and 
the ground was too wet for him to lie on; so he perched 
in a crooked tree in the beating rain, much as if he had 
been a wild turkey. But he was not in the least tired 
when he struck camp; and, though he slept an hour after 
breakfast, it was chiefly because he had nothing else to 
do, inasmuch as it was Sunday, on which day he never 
hunted nor labored. He could run through the woods 
like a buck, was far more enduring, and quite as indif- 
ferent to weather, though he was over fifty years old. 
He had trapped and hunted throughout almost all the 
half century of his life, and on trail of game he was as 
sure as his own hounds. His observations on wild crea- 
tures were singularly close and accurate. He was par- 
ticularly fond of the chase of the bear, which he followed 
by himself, with one or two dogs; often he would be 
on the trail of his quarry for days at a time, lying down 
to sleep wherever night overtook him, and he had killed 
over a hundred and twenty bears. 



366 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Late in the evening of the same day we were joined 
by two gentlemen to whom we owed the success of our 
hunt: Messrs. Clive and Harley Metcalf, planters from 
Mississippi, men in the prime of life, thorough woods- 
men and hunters, skilled marksmen, and utterly fearless 
horsemen. For a quarter of a century they had hunted 
bear and deer with horse and hound, and were masters 
of the art. They brought with them their pack of bear 
hounds, only one, however, being a thoroughly staunch 
and seasoned veteran. The pack was under the imme- 
diate control of a negro hunter. Holt Collier, in his own 
way as remarkable a character as Ben Lilley. He was a 
man of sixty and could neither read nor write, but he 
had all the dignity of an African chief, and for half a 
century he had been a bear hunter, having killed or as- 
sisted in killing over three thousand bears. He had been 
born a slave on the Hinds plantation, his father, an old 
man when he was born, having been the body servant and 
cook of " old General Hinds," as he called him, when the 
latter fought under Jackson at New Orleans. When ten 
years old Holt had been taken on the horse behind his 
young master, the Hinds of that day, on a bear hunt, 
when he killed his first bear. In the Civil War he had 
not only followed his master to battle as his body servant, 
but had acted under him as sharpshooter against the 
Union soldiers. After the war he continued to stay with 
his master until the latter died, and had then been adopted 
by the Metcalfs; and he felt that he had brought them 
up, and treated them with that mixture of affection and 
grumbling respect which an old nurse shows toward the 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 367 

lad who has ceased being a child. The two Metcalfs 
and Holt understood one another thoroughly, and under- 
stood their hounds and the game their hounds followed 
almost as thoroughly. 

They had killed many deer and wildcat, and now and 
then a panther; but their favorite game was the black 
bear, which, until within a very few years, was extraordi- 
narily plentiful in the swamps and canebrakes on both 
sides of the lower Mississippi, and which is still found 
here and there, although in greatly diminished numbers. 
In Louisiana and Mississippi the bears go into their dens 
toward the end of January, usually in hollow trees, often 
very high up in living trees, but often also in great logs 
that lie rotting on the ground. They come forth toward 
the end of April, the cubs having been born in the inter- 
val. At this time the bears are nearly as fat, so my in- 
formants said, as when they enter their dens in January; 
but they lose their fat very rapidly. On first coming out 
in the spring they usually eat ash buds and the tender 
young cane called mutton cane, and at that season they 
generally refuse to eat the acorns even when they are 
plentiful. According to my informants it is at this sea- 
son that they are most apt to take to killing stock, almost 
always the hogs which run wild or semi-wild in the 
woods. They are very individual in their habits, how- 
ever; many of them never touch stock, while others, usu- 
ally old he-bears, may kill numbers of hogs; in one case 
an old he-bear began this hog-killing just as soon as he 
left his den. In the summer months they find but little 
to eat, and it is at this season that they are most industrious 



368 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

in hunting for grubs, insects, frogs and small mammals. 
In some neighborhoods they do not eat fish, while in other 
places, perhaps not far away, they not only greedily eat 
dead fish, but will themselves kill fish if they can find 
them in shallow pools left by the receding waters. As 
soon as the mast is on the ground they begin to feed upon 
it, and when the acorns and pecans are plentiful they eat 
nothing else; though at first berries of all kinds and 
grapes are eaten also. When in November they have 
begun only to eat the acorns they put on fat as no other 
wild animal does, and by the end of December a full- 
grown bear may weigh at least twice as much as it does 
in August, the difference being as great as between a very 
fat and a lean hog. Old he-bears which in August weigh 
three hundred pounds and upward will, toward the end 
of December, weigh six hundred pounds, and even more 
in exceptional cases. 

Bears vary greatly in their habits in different local- 
ities, in addition to the individual variation among those 
of the same neighborhood. Around Avery Island, John 
Mcllhenny's plantation, the bears only appear from June 
to November; there they never kill hogs, but feed at first 
on corn and then on sugar cane, doing immense damage 
in the fields, quite as much as hogs would do. But when 
we were on the Tensas we visited a family of settlers who 
lived right in the midst of the forest ten miles from any 
neighbors ; and although bears were plentiful around 
them they never molested their corn fields — in which the 
coons, however, did great damage. 

A big bear is cunning, and is a dangerous fighter to 



I 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 369 

the dogs. It is only in exceptional cases, however, that 
these black bears, even when wounded and at bay, are 
dangerous to men, in spite of their formidable strength. 
Each of the hunters with whom I was camped had been 
charged by one or two among the scores or hundreds of 
bears he had slain, but no one of them had ever been in- 
jured, although they knew other men who had been in- 
jured. Their immunity was due to their own skill and 
coolness; for when the dogs were around the bear the 
hunter invariably ran close in so as to kill the bear at once 
and save the pack. Each of the Metcalfs had on one 
occasion killed a large bear with a knife, when the hounds 
had seized it and the men dared not fire for fear of shoot- 
ing one of them. They had in their younger days hunted 
with a General Hamberlin, a Mississippi planter whom 
they well knew, who was then already an old man. He 
was passionately addicted to the chase of the bear, not 
only because of the sport it afforded, but also in a certain 
way as a matter of vengeance; for his father, also a keen 
bear-hunter, had been killed by a bear. It was an old he, 
which he had wounded and which had been bayed by the 
dogs; it attacked him, throwing him down and biting 
him so severely that he died a couple of days later. This 
was in 1847. Mr. W. H. Lambeth sends the following 
account of the fatal encounter: 

" I send you an extract from the Brother Jonathan, 
published in New York in 1847 : 

" ' Dr. Monroe Hamberlin, Robert Wilson, Joe Brazeil, 
and others left Satartia, Miss., and in going up Big Sun- 



370 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



flower River, met Mr. Leiser and his party of hunters return- 
ing to Vicksburg. Mr. Leiser told Dr. Hamberlin that he 
saw the largest bear track at the big Mound on Lake George 
that he ever saw, and was afraid to tackle him. Dr. Ham- 
berlin said, " I never saw one that I was afraid to tackle." Dr. 
Hamberlin landed his skiff at the Mound and his dogs soon 
bayed the bear. Dr. Hamberlin fired and the ball glanced on 
the bear's head. The bear caught him by the right thigh and 
tore all the flesh off. He drew his knife and the bear crushed 
his right arm. He cheered the dogs and they pulled the bear 
off. The bear whipped the dogs and attacked him the third 
time, biting him in the hollow back of his neck. Mr. Wilson 
came up and shot the bear dead on Dr. Hamberlin. The party 
returned to Satartia, but Dr. Hamberlin told them to put the 
bear in the skiff, that he would not leave without his antagonist. 
The bear weighed 640 pounds.' 

" Dr. Hamberlin lived three days, I knew all the parties. 
His son John and myself hunted with them in 1843 ^^^ 1844, 
when we were too small to carry a gun." 

A large bear is not afraid of dogs, and an old he, 
or a she with cubs, is alw^ays on the lookout for a chance 
to catch and kill any dog that comes near enough. While 
lean and in good running condition it is not an easy mat- 
ter to bring a bear to bay; but as they grow fat they be- 
come steadily less able to run, and the young ones, and 
even occasionally a full-grown she, will then readily tree. 
If a man is not near by, a big bear that has become tired 
will treat the pack with whimsical indifference. The 
Metcalfs recounted to me how they had once seen a bear, 
which had been chased quite a time, evidently make up 
its mind that it needed a rest and could afiford to take it 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 371 

without much regard for the hounds. The bear accord- 
ingly selected a small opening and lay flat on its back with 
its nose and all its four legs extended. The dogs sur- 
rounded it in frantic excitement, barking and baying, and 
gradually coming in a ring very close up. The bear was 
watching, however, and suddenly sat up with a jerk, 
frightening the dogs nearly into fits. Half of them turned 
back somersaults in their panic, and all promptly gave 
the bear ample room. The bear having looked about, lay 
flat on its back again, and the pack gradually regaining 
courage once more closed in. At first the bear, which 
was evidently reluctant to arise, kept them at a distance 
by now and then thrusting an unexpected paw toward 
them; and when they became too bold it sat up with a 
jump and once more put them all to flight. 

For several days we hunted perseveringly around this 
camp on the Tensas Bayou, but without success. Deer 
abounded, but we could find no bears ; and of the deer we 
killed only what we actually needed for use in camp. I 
killed one myself by a good shot, in which, however, I 
fear that the element of luck played a considerable part. 
We had started as usual by sunrise, to be gone all day; 
for we never counted upon returning to camp before 
sunset. For an hour or two we threaded our way, first 
along an indistinct trail, and then on an old disused road, 
the hardy woods-horses keeping on a running walk with- 
out much regard to the difficulties of the ground. The 
disused road lay right across a great canebrake, and while 
some of the party went around the cane with the dogs, the 
rest of us strung out along the road so as to get a shot 



372 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



at any bear that might come across it. I was following 
Harley Metcalf, with John Mcllhenny and Dr. Rixey 
behind on the way to their posts, when we heard in the 
far-off distance two of the younger hounds, evidently on 
the trail of a deer. Almost immediately afterward a 
crash in the bushes at our right hand and behind us made 
me turn around, and I saw a deer running across the few 
feet of open space; and as I leaped from my horse it dis- 
appeared in the cane. I am a rather deliberate shot, and 
under any circumstances a rifle is not the best weapon 
for snap shooting, while there is no kind of shooting more 
difficult than on running game in a canebrake. Luck 
favored me in this instance, however, for there was a spot 
a little ahead of where the deer entered in which the cane 
was thinner, and I kept my rifle on its indistinct, shadowy 
outline until it reached this spot; it then ran quartering 
away from me, which made my shot much easier, although 
I could only catch its general outline through the cane. 
But the 45-70 which I was using is a powerful gun and 
shoots right through cane or bushes; and as soon as I 
pulled trigger the deer, with a bleat, turned a tremen- 
dous somersault and was dead when we reached it. I 
was not a little pleased that my bullet should have 
sped so true when I was making my first shot in com- 
pany with my hard-riding, straight-shooting planter 
friends. 

But no bears were to be found. We waited long hours 
on likely stands. We rode around the canebrakes 
through the swampy jungle, or threaded our way across 
them on trails cut by the heavy wood-knives of my com- 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 373 

panions; but we found nothing. Until the trails were 
cut the canebrakes were impenetrable to a horse and were 
difficult enough to a man on foot. On going through 
them it seemed as if we must be in the tropics ; the silence, 
the stillness, the heat, and the obscurity, all combining to 
give a certain eeriness to the task, as we chopped our 
winding way slowly through the dense mass of close- 
growing, feather-fronded stalks. Each of the hunters 
prided himself on his skill with the horn, which was an 
essential adjunct of the hunt, used both to summon and 
control the hounds, and for signalling among the hunters 
themselves. The tones of many of the horns were full 
and musical; and it was pleasant to hear them as they 
wailed to one another, backward and forward, across the 
great stretches of lonely swamp and forest. 

A few days convinced us that it was a waste of time 
to stay longer where we were. Accordingly, early one 
morning we hunters started for a new camp fifteen or 
twenty miles to the southward, on Bear Lake. We took 
the hounds with us, and each man carried what he chose 
or could in his saddle-pockets, while his slicker was on 
his horse's back behind him. Otherwise we took abso- 
lutely nothing in the way of supplies, and the negroes 
with the tents and camp equipage were three days before 
they overtook us. On our way down we were joined by 
Major Amacker and Dr. Miller, with a small pack of cat 
hounds. These were good deer dogs, and they ran down 
and killed on the ground a good-sized bobcat — a wildcat, 
as it is called in the South. It was a male and weighed 
twenty-three and a half pounds. It had just killed and 



374 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



eaten a large rabbit. The stomachs of the deer we killed, 
by the way, contained acorns and leaves. 

Our new camp was beautifully situated on the bold, 
steep bank of Bear Lake — a tranquil stretch of water, 
part of an old river bed, a couple of hundred yards broad 
with a winding length of several miles. Giant cypress 
grew at the edge of the water; the singular cypress knees 
rising in every direction round about, while at the bot- 
toms of the trunks themselves were often cavernous hol- 
lows opening beneath the surface of water, some of them 
serving as dens for alligators. There was a waxing moon, 
so that the nights were as beautiful as the days. 

From our new camp we hunted as steadily as from the 
old. We saw bear sign, but not much of it, and only one 
or two fresh tracks. One day the hounds jumped a bear, 
probably a yearling from the way it ran; for at this sea- 
son a yearling or a two-year-old will run almost like a 
deer, keeping to the thick cane as long as it can and then 
bolting across through the bushes of the ordinary swamp 
land until it can reach another canebrake. After a three 
hours' run this particular animal managed to get clear 
away without one of the hunters ever seeing it, and it ran 
until all the dogs were tired out. A day or two afterward 
one of the other members of the party shot a small year- 
ling — that is, a bear which would have been two years old 
in the following February. It was very lean, weighing 
but fifty-five pounds. The finely chewed acorns in its 
stomach showed that it was already beginning to find 
mast. 

We had seen the tracks of an old she in the neigh- 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 375 

borhood, and the next morning we started to hunt her out. 
I went with Clive Metcalf. We had been joined over- 
night by Mr. Ichabod Osborn and his son Tom, two 
Louisiana planters, with six or eight hounds — or rather 
bear dogs, for in these packs most of the animals are of 
mixed blood, and, as with all packs that are used in the 
genuine hunting of the wilderness, pedigree counts for 
nothing as compared with steadiness, courage and intelli- 
gence. There were only two of the new dogs that were 
really staunch bear dogs. The father of Ichabod Osborn 
had taken up the plantation upon which they were living 
in 181 1, only a few years after Louisiana became part of 
the United States, and young Osborn was now the third 
in line from father to son who had steadily hunted bears 
in this immediate neighborhood. 

On reaching the cypress slough near which the tracks 
of the old she had been seen the day before, Clive Met- 
calf and I separated from the others and rode off at a 
lively pace between two of the canebrakes. After an hour 
or two's wait we heard, very far off, the notes of one 
of the loudest-mouthed hounds, and instantly rode 
toward it, until we could make out the babel of the pack. 
Some hard galloping brought us opposite the point 
toward which they were heading, — for experienced hunt- 
ers can often tell the probable line of a bear's flight, and 
the spots at which it will break cover. But on this occa- 
sion the bear shied off from leaving the thick cane and 
doubled back; and soon the hounds were once more out 
of hearing, while we galloped desperately around the 
edge of the cane. The tough woods-horses kept their 



376 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

feet like cats as they leaped logs, plunged through bushes, 
and dodged in and out among the tree trunks ; and we had 
all we could do to prevent the vines from lifting us out 
of the saddle, while the thorns tore our hands and faces. 
Hither and thither we went, now at a trot, now at a run, 
now stopping to listen for the pack. Occasionally we 
could hear the hounds, and then off we would go racing 
through the forest toward the point toward which we 
thought they were heading. Finally, after a couple of 
hours of this, we came up on one side of a canebrake on 
the other side of which we could hear, not only the pack, 
but the yelling and cheering of Harley Metcalf and Tom 
Osborn and one or two of the negro hunters, all of whom 
were trying to keep the dogs up to their work in the thick 
cane. Again we rode ahead, and now in a few minutes 
were rewarded by hearing the leading dogs come to bay 
in the thickest of the cover. Having galloped as near to 
the spot as we could we threw ourselves off the horses and 
plunged into the cane, trying to cause as little disturbance 
as possible, but of course utterly unable to avoid making 
some noise. Before we were within gunshot, however, 
we could tell by the sounds that the bear had once again 
started, making what is called a " walking bay." Clive 
Metcalf, a finished bear-hunter, was speedily able to de- 
termine what the bear's probable course would be, and 
we stole through the cane until we came to a spot near 
which he thought the quarry would pass. Then we 
crouched down, I with my rifle at the ready. Nor did 
we have long to wait. Peering through the thick-grow- 
ing stalks I suddenly made out the dim outline of the 




LISTENING FOR THE PACK 
From a photograph, copyright, 1907, by Alexander Lambert, M.D. 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 



377 



bear coming straight toward us ; and noiselessly I cocked 
and half-raised my rifle, waiting for a clearer chance. In 
a few seconds it came; the bear turned almost broad- 
side to me, and walked forward very stiff-legged, al- 
most as if on tiptoe, now and then looking back at 
the nearest dogs. These were two in number — Rowdy, 
a very deep-voiced hound, in the lead, and Queen, a 
shrill-tongued brindled bitch, a little behind. Once or 
twice the bear paused as she looked back at them, evi- 
dently hoping that they would come so near that by a 
sudden race she could catch one of them. But they were 
too wary. 

All of this took but a few moments, and as I saw the 
bear quite distinctly some twenty yards off, I fired for 
behind the shoulder. Although I could see her outline, 
yet the cane was so thick that my sight was on it and not 
on the bear itself. But I knew my bullet would go true; 
and sure enough, at the crack of the rifle the bear stum- 
bled and fell forward, the bullet having passed through 
both lungs and out at the opposite side. Immediately the 
dogs came running forward at full speed, and we raced 
forward likewise lest the pack should receive damage. 
The bear had but a minute or two to live, yet even in 
that time more than one valuable hound might lose its 
life; when within half a dozen steps of the black, an- 
gered beast, I fired again, breaking the spine at the root 
of the neck; and down went the bear stark dead, slain 
in the canebrake in true hunter fashion. One by one the 
hounds struggled up and fell on their dead quarry, the 
noise of the worry filling the air. Then we dragged 



378 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

the bear out to the edge of the cane, and my companion 
wound his horn to summon the other hunters. 

This was a big she-bear, very lean, and weighing two 
hundred and two pounds. In her stomach were pal- 
metto berries, beetles and a little mutton cane, but chiefly 
acorns chewed up in a fine brown mass. 

John Mcllhenny had killed a she-bear about the size 
of this on his plantation at Avery's Island the previous 
June. Several bears had been raiding his corn fields and 
one evening he determined to try to waylay them. After 
dinner he left the ladies of his party on the gallery of his 
house while he rode down in a hollow and concealed him- 
self on the lower side of the corn field. Before he had 
waited ten minutes a she-bear and her cub came into the 
field. Then she rose on her hind legs, tearing down an 
armful of ears of corn which she seemingly gave to the 
cub, and then rose for another armful. Mcllhenny shot 
her; tried in vain to catch the cub; and rejoined the party 
on the veranda, having been absent but one hour. 

After the death of my bear I had only a couple of 
days left. We spent them a long distance from camp, 
having to cross two bayous before we got to the hunting 
grounds. I missed a shot at a deer, seeing little more than 
the flicker of its white tail through the dense bushes; 
and the pack caught and killed a very lean two-year-old 
bear weighing eighty pounds. Near a beautiful pond 
called Panther Lake we found a deer-lick, the ground not 
merely bare but furrowed into hollows by the tongues of 
the countless generations of deer that had frequented 
the place. We also passed a huge mound, the only hillock 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 379 

in the entire district; it was the work of man, for it had 
been built in the unknown past by those unknown peo- 
ple whom we call moundbuilders. On the trip, all told, 
we killed and brought into camp three bears, six deer, a 
wildcat, a turkey, a possum, and a dozen squirrels; and 
we ate everything except the wildcat. 

In the evenings we sat around the blazing campfires, 
and, as always on such occasions, each hunter told tales 
of his adventures and of the strange feats and habits of 
the beasts of the wilderness. There had been beaver all 
through this delta in the old days, and a very few are still 
left in out-of-the-way places. One Sunday morning we 
saw two wolves, I think young of the year, appear for a 
moment on the opposite side of the bayou, but they van- 
ished before we could shoot. All of our party had had a 
good deal of experience with wolves. The Metcalfs had 
had many sheep killed by them, the method of killing 
being invariably by a single bite which tore open the 
throat while the wolf ran beside his victim. The wolves 
also killed young hogs, but were very cautious about med- 
dling with an old sow; while one of the big half-wild 
boars that ranged free through the woods had no fear of 
any number of wolves. Their endurance and the ex- 
tremely difficult nature of the country made it difficult to 
hunt them, and the hunters all bore them a grudge, be- 
cause if a hound got lost in a region where wolves were 
at all plentiful they were almost sure to find and kill him 
before he got home. They were fond of preying on dogs, 
and at times would boldly kill the hounds right ahead of 
the hunters. In one instance, while the dogs were fol- 



380 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

lowing a bear and were but a couple of hundred yards 
in front of the horsemen, a small party of wolves got in 
on them and killed two. One of the Osborns, having a 
valuable hound which was addicted to wandering in the 
woods, saved him from the wolves by putting a bell 
on him. The wolves evidently suspected a trap and 
would never go near the dog. On one occasion another 
of his hounds got loose with a chain on, and they found 
him a day or two afterward unharmed, his chain having 
become entangled in the branches of a bush. One or 
two wolves had evidently walked around and around the 
imprisoned dog, but the chain had awakened their sus- 
picions and they had not pounced on him. They had 
killed a yearling heifer a short time before, on Osborn's 
plantation, biting her in the hams. It has been my ex- 
perience that fox hounds as a rule are afraid of attack- 
ing a wolf; but all of my friends assured me that their 
dogs, if a sufficient number of them were together, would 
tackle a wolf without hesitation ; the packs, however, were 
always composed, to the extent of at least half, of dogs 
which, though part hound, were part shepherd or bull 
or some other breed. Dr. Miller had hunted in Arkan- 
sas with a pack specially trained after the wolf. There 
were twenty-eight of them all told, and on this hunt they 
ran down and killed unassisted four full-grown wolves, 
although some of the hounds were badly cut. None of 
my companions had ever known of wolves actually 
molesting men, but Mr. Ichabod Osborn's son-in-law 
had a queer adventure with wolves while riding alone 
through the woods one late afternoon. His horse acting 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 381 

nervously, he looked about and saw that five wolves were 
coming toward him. One was a bitch, the other four 
were males. They seemed to pay little heed to him, and 
he shot one of the males, which crawled off. The next 
minute the bitch ran straight toward him and was almost 
at his stirrup when he killed her. The other three wolves, 
instead of running away, jumped to and fro growling, 
with their hair bristling, and he killed two of them; 
whereupon the survivor at last made off. He brought 
the scalps of the three dead wolves home with him. 

Near our first camp was the carcass of a deer, a 
yearling buck, which had been killed by a cougar. When 
first found, the wounds on the carcass showed that the 
deer had been killed by a bite in the neck at the back 
of the head; but there were scratches on the rump as if 
the panther had landed on its back. One of the negro 
hunters, Brutus Jackson, evidently a trustworthy man, 
told me that he had twice seen cougars, each time under 
unexpected conditions. Once he saw a bobcat race up a 
tree, and riding toward it saw a panther reared up 
against the trunk. The panther looked around at him 
quite calmly, and then retired in leisurely fashion. Jack- 
son went off to get some hounds, and when he returned 
two hours afterward the bobcat was still up the tree, 
evidently so badly scared that he did not wish to come 
down. The hounds were unable to follow the cougar. 
On another occasion he heard a tremendous scuffle and 
immediately afterward saw a big doe racing along with 
a small cougar literally riding it. The cougar was bit- 
ing the neck, but low down near the shoulders; he was 



382 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

hanging on with his front paws, but was tearing away 
with his hind claws so that the deer's hair appeared to 
fill the air. As soon as Jackson appeared the panther 
left the deer. He shot it, and the doe galloped off, 
apparently without serious injury. 

I wish those who see cougars kill game, or who come 
on game that they have killed, would study and record 
the exact method employed in killing. Mr. Hornaday 
sent me a photograph of a cougar killing a goat, which 
he had seized high up on the back of the neck in his 
jaws, not using his claws at all. I once found where one 
had killed a big buck by seizing him by the throat; the 
claws also having evidently been used to hold the buck 
in the struggle. Another time I found a colt which had 
been killed by a bite in the neck; and yet another time a 
young doe which had been killed by a bite in the head. 
In most cases where I came across the carcasses of deer 
which had been killed by cougars they had been partially 
eaten, and it was not possible to find out exactly how 
they had been slain. In one instance at least the neck 
had been broken, evidently in the struggle; but I could 
not tell whether this had been done designedly, by the 
use of the forepaws. Twice hunters I have known saw 
cougars seize mountain sheep, in each case by the throat. 
The information furnished me inclines me to believe that 
most game is killed by cougars in this fashion. Most of 
the carcasses of elk which had been killed by cougars 
that I have examined showed fang marks round the 
throat and neck; but one certainly did not, though it is 
possible in this case that the elk died in some other way. 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 383 

and that the cougar had merely been feeding on its dead 
body. But I have read of cases in which elk and large 
deer were slain where the carcasses were said to have 
shown wounds only on the flanks, and where the writers 
believed — with how much justification I cannot say — 
that the wounds had been inflicted by the claws. I should 
be surprised to find that such was the ordinary method 
with cougars of killing game of any kind; but it is per- 
haps unsafe to deny the possibility of such an occurrence 
without more information than is at present available; 
especially in view of the experience of Brutus Jackson, 
which I give above. In a letter to Mr. Hornaday a New 
Mexican hunter, Mr. J. W. Carter, of Truchas, states 
that cougars rip with their claws in killing game, and 
that, whether the quarry is a horse, deer, or calf, the 
cougar begins to eat at the neck. When at bay a cougar 
kills dogs by biting them, usually in the head ; the claws 
are used merely to scratch or rip, or to drag the dog 
within reach of the jaws, and to hold it for the fatal bite. 

Miss Velvin's studies of dangerous wild beasts in cap- 
tivity show that the cougar is ordinarily more playful 
and less wantonly ferocious than the big spotted cats; 
but that there is a wide individual variation among cou- 
gars, a few being treacherous, bad-tempered and danger- 
ous. Mr. Bostock, the animal trainer, states that the 
cougar is as a rule rather stupid and far less courageous 
or dangerous than the other big cats, the proportion of 
vicious individuals being very small. He regards bears 
as being very dangerous. 

Mr. Charles Sheldon informs me that while on a 



384 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

ranch near Chihuahua he at different times kept loose, 
as pets, a female cougar, three wolves, and several coyotes, 
all taken when very young. All were exceedingly tame 
and even affectionate, save at the moment of eating. 

Mr. W. H. Wright, of Spokane, Wash., is a hunter 
of wide experience, and has probably made as close a life 
study of the bear — particularly the grizzly — as anyone 
now alive. In speaking to me, he dwells on its wide 
variation in habits, not only as among individuals, but as 
between all the individuals of one locality when com- 
pared with those of another. Thus, in the Big Horn or 
the Teton Mountains if an animal is killed, he has in his 
experience found that any grizzly within range is almost 
sure to come to the carcass (and this has been my expe- 
rience in the same region). In the Bitter Roots, where 
the bears live largely on fish, berries and roots, he found 
the chances just about even whether the bears would or 
would not come; whereas in the Selkirks, he found that 
the bears would very rarely pay any attention to a car- 
cass, this being a place where game is comparatively 
scarce and where there are no salmon, so that the bears 
live exclusively as vegetarians, save for eating small mam- 
mals or insects. In the Bitter Roots Mountains the bears 
used to live chiefly on fish in the spring and early in the 
fall; in the summer they fed to a large extent on the 
shooting star, which grows on all the marshes and is one 
of the familiar plants of the region, but did not touch 
either the dog-tooth violet or the spring beauty, both of 
which have little tubers on the roots. But in the Koote- 
nay country he found that the bears dug up acres and 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 385 

acres of these very dog-tooth violets and spring beauties 
for the sake of the bulbs on their roots; and that they 
rarely or never touched the shooting stars. All this illus- 
trates the extreme care which should be taken in making 
observations and in dogmatizing from insufficient data; 
and also the absolute necessity, if a full and accurate 
natural history is to be written, of drawing upon the 
experience of very many different observers — provided, 
of course, that they are trustworthy observers. 

For every one of our large beasts there should be at 
least one such work as Lewis Morgan's book on the 
beaver. The observations of many different men, all 
accurate observers of wide experience, will be needed to 
make any such book complete. Most hunters can now 
and then supply some interesting experiences. Thus Gif- 
ford Pinchot and Harry Stimson, while in the Montana 
Rockies last fall saw a she white goat beat off a war eagle 
which had attacked her yearling young. The eagle 
swooped on the yearling in most determined fashion; but 
the old she, rising on her hind legs, caught the great bird 
fairly on her horns; and the eagle was too roughly han- 
dled to repeat the onslaught. At nearly the same time, 
in British Columbia, Senator Penrose and his brother 
were hunting bears. The brother killed a yearling 
grizzly. While standing over the body, the old she 
appeared and charged him. She took two bullets with- 
out flinching, knocked him down, bit him severely, and 
would undoubtedly have killed him had she not in the 
nick of time succumbed to her own mortal wounds. 

Recently there has appeared a capital series of obser- 



386 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

vations on wolves by a trained field naturalist, Mr. Ver- 
non Bailey. These first-hand studies of wolves in their 
natural haunts show, among other things, that, unlike the 
male cougar, the male wolf remains with the female 
while she is rearing her young litter and, at least some- 
times, forages for her and them. According to Mr. 
Bailey's observations the female dens remote from all 
other females, having a large number of pups in a litter; 
but the following interesting letter shows that in excep- 
tional cases two females may den together or near by 
one another. It is written to Mr. Phillips, the joint 
author, with W. T. Hornaday, of the admirable " Camp- 
Fires in the Canadian Rockies," a book as interesting and 
valuable to the naturalist as to the hunter. The letter 
runs as follows: 

"Meyers Falls, Wash., Dec. 23, 1906. 
" Mr. John M. Phillips, Pittsburg, Pa. 

" Friend Jack: Your favor of the i8th inst. to hand, and 
was very much pleased to hear you had called on the President 
and to know that you take so much interest in the protection 
of Pennsylvania game. It is a step in the right direction. In 
regard to wolves I have hunted them a great deal when they 
had pups and do not think I would exaggerate any to say that 
I had found one hundred dens and had destroyed the young. 
Often would be able to kill the mother. What you read in the 
East about the dog wolf helping to raise the young is true. 
They stay together until the young is large enough to go with 
them and they all kill their food together because they can 
handle a large brute easier. I found once, in Wyoming, seven- 
teen wolf pups in one den, eight black ones and nine greys. 
One of the females was also black and one grey, and both dogs 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 387 

were grey. One of the dogs was the largest I ever seen, and 
had the biggest foot. He made a track a third larger than 
any I ever saw. The old ones had evidently just butchered and 
was feeding the little ones when I came in sight about 400 
yards away. I believe a wolf has got the quickest eye of any 
animal living, and just as my head came up over the hill the 
old ones all looked my way apparently at the same time. It 
was too far to shoot so I thought I would pretend I did not 
see them and just simply ride by. After riding some distance 
three of the old ones began to move away and to my surprise 
the big fellow came over to head me off. He was just on top 
of a bench about 100 feet high, and I knew it would not do 
to get down to shoot as one jump would take him out of sight 
so I cracked my heels and let my pony have them in the abdo- 
men and ran for the top of the hill, but was running against 
the wind and when I reached the top my eyes was watering 
so I could not kill him, but give him a close call as I got a 
lock of his hair, I found another den the same spring (in 
1899) and I got eight pups and there was five old ones. They 
had to go some distance to find horses and cattle and there was 
a plain trail that I could follow at least five miles without snow. 
Colts seem to be their favorite dish when they can get them.^ 

1 My own experience has been that wolves are more apt to kill cattle than 
horses, whereas with cougars the reverse is true. It is another instance ot 
variability — doubtless both in the observed and the observers. Wolves may 
seize an animal anywhere in a scuffle, and a pack will literally tear a small deer to 
pieces; but when one or two wolves attack a big animal, like a bull caribou, elk or 
moose, or a horse or a steer, the killing or crippling woimds are inflicted in the 
flanks, hams or throat. Very rarely an animal is seized by the head. To any 
real naturalist or hunter, or indeed to any competent observer, it is unnecessary 
to say that no wolf, and no other wild beast, ever bites, or can by any possibility 
bite, one of these large animals, like a horse, moose, or caribou, in the heart; 
yet an occasional " nature fakir," more than usually reckless in his untruthfulness, 
will assert that such incidents do happen; and, what is even more remarkable, 
uninformed people of more than average credulity appear to believe the assertion. 



388 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

Wolves mate in January and have their pups in March, but 
found one den once in February. Have known a few to have 
their young as late as April ist. The pups grow faster than 
our domestic animals and usually leave the dens in May. I 
do not think the mother enters the den (after the pups get 
large enough to come out) in order to suckle them, as you 
can call them out by hiding and making a whining noise. For 
example, I set a No. 4 beaver trap in a hole where there was 
a lot of large pups and hid a little way off and made a noise 
like the female when calling and apparently they all started 
out at the same time and I caught two at once in the same trap 
and of course each one thought the other was biting his leg 
and I saw the most vicious scrap I ever seen out of animals 
of their size. They just held on to one another like bull dogs 
and apparently did not know I was around. 

" Wolves go a long way sometimes for their food. I have 
tracked them twenty-five miles from where they made a killing 
before finding their den. The old dog will sometimes go off 
alone but does not often kill when by himself. Would just 
as soon have a male track as a female to follow for if you will 
stay with it it is dead sure to lead to a den and it is easy to 
distinguish the difference between the two tracks if you are on 
to your job. 

" Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year, 
I am, 

" Your same old friend, 

" R. M. NORBOE." 

Mr. Bailey is one of a number of faunal naturalists, 
who, together with certain big game hunters who care 
more for natural history than for mere slaughter, are 
doing invaluable work in preserving the records of wil- 
derness life. If Mr. George Shiras will put in book 



IN THE LOUISIANA CANEBRAKES 389 

form his noteworthy collection of photographs of game, 
and of other wild creatures, and his numerous field notes 
thereon, he will render a real and great service to all 
lovers of nature. 

The most exciting and interesting hunting book that 
has recently appeared deals with African big game. 
Many thrilling adventures with lions have been recorded 
since the days when the Assyrian kings engraved on stone 
their exploits in the chase; but the best lion stories that 
have ever been written are those in Colonel Patterson's 
*' Maneaters of Tsavo." 

It is now (January, 1908) nearly five years since my 
last trip to the Yellowstone Park. General Samuel 
Young, who is now in charge of the park, informs me 
that on the whole the game and the wild creatures gen- 
erally in the park have increased during this period. The 
antelope he reports as being certainly three times as 
numerous as they were ten years ago, and nearly twice 
as numerous as when I was out there. In the town of 
Gardiner they graze freely in the streets; not only the 
inhabitants but even the dogs recognizing them as friends. 
Their chief foes are the coyotes. Last October four full- 
grown antelope were killed by coyotes on the Gardiner 
and Yellowstone flats, and many fawns were destroyed by 
them during the season. Practically all of the antelope 
in the park herd on the Gardiner flat and round about 
during the winter, and during the present winter there 
is a good supply of hay on this flat, which is being used 
to feed the antelope, mountain sheep, deer and elk. The 
sheep are increasing in numbers. Probably about two 



390 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



hundred of them now exist in the park. There are prob- 
ably one hundred whitetail and one thousand blacktail 
deer, both of which species are likewise increasing; and 
the moose, although few in numbers, are also on the 
increase. General Young reports that from his best in- 
formation he believes there are 25,000 wapiti in the park. 
Of the buffalo there are now in fenced pastures fifty-nine. 
These increase very slowly, the number of calves being 
small. There are probably about twenty-five of the origi- 
nal wild buffalo still alive. The bears are as numerous 
as ever. Last summer it became necessary to kill one 
black and two grizzlies that had become dangerous; for 
some individuals among the bears grow insolent under 
good treatment. The mountain lions, which five years 
ago were so destructive to the deer and sheep, have been 
almost exterminated. The tracks show that one still 
exists. Coyotes are numerous and very destructive to the 
antelope, although ninety-nine were destroyed during the 
past year. Beaver are abundant and are increasing. 
Altogether the American people are to be congratulated 
upon the success of the Yellowstone Park, not only as a 
national pleasure ground, but as a national reserve for 
keeping alive the great and beautiful wild creatures of 
the wilderness. 



CHAPTER XIII 

SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 

There is ample room for more complete life histories 
of many small beasts that are common enough around our 
country homes; and fortunately the need is now being 
met by various good field naturalists. Just last summer, 
in mid-July, 1907, I had an entirely novel experience 
with foxes, which illustrates how bold naturally shy crea- 
tures sometimes are after nightfall. Some of the boys and 
I were camping for the night on the beach by the Sound, 
under a clay bluff, having gone thither in the dory and 
the two light rowing skiffs; it was about a quarter of a 
mile from the place where we had seen the big red fox 
four or five years previously. The fire burned all night, 
and one or other of the party would now and then rise 
and stand by it; nevertheless, two young foxes, evidently 
cubs of the year, came round the fire, within plain sight, 
half a dozen times. They were picking up scraps; two 
or three times they came within ten yards of the fire. 
They were very active, scampering up the bluffs; and 
when in the bushes made a good deal of noise, whereas a 
full-grown fox generally moves in silence even when in 
dead brush. 

Small mammals, with the exception of squirrels, are 
so much less conspicuous than birds, and indeed usually 
pass their lives in such seclusion, that the ordinary ob- 

391 



392 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



server is hardly aware of their presence. At Sagamore 
Hill, for instance, except at haying time I rarely see the 
swarming meadow mice, the much less plentiful pine 
mice, or the little mole-shrews, alive, unless they happen 
to drop into a pit or sunken area which has been dug at 
one point to let light through a window into the cellar. 
The much more graceful and attractive white-footed mice 
and jumping mice are almost as rarely seen, though if 
one does come across a jumping mouse it at once attracts 
attention by its extraordinary leaps. The jumping mouse 
hibernates, like the woodchuck; and so does the chip- 
munk, though not always. The other little animals just 
mentioned are abroad all winter, the meadow mice under 
the snow, the white-footed mice, and often the shrews, 
above the snow. The tell-tale snow, showing all the 
tracks, betrays the hitherto unsuspected existence of many 
little creatures; and the commonest marks upon it are 
those of the rabbit and especially of the white-footed 
mouse. The shrew walks or trots and makes alternate 
footsteps in the snow. White-foot, on the contrary, always 
jumps, whether going slow or fast, and his hind feet leave 
their prints side by side, often with the mark where the 
tail has dragged. I think white-foot is the most plenti- 
ful of all our furred wild creatures, taken as a whole. 
He climbs trees well ; I have found his nest in an old 
vireo's nest; but more often under stumps or boards. The 
meadow mice often live in the marshes, and are entirely 
at home in the water. 

The shrew-mouse which I most often find is a short- 
tailed, rather thickset little creature, not wholly unlike 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 



393 



his cousin the shrew-mole, and just as greedy and fero- 
cious. When a boy I captured one of these mole-shrews 
and found to my astonishment that he was a bloodthirsty 
and formidable little beast of prey. He speedily killed 
and ate a partially grown white-footed mouse which I 
put in the same cage with him. (I think a full-grown 
mouse of this kind would be an overmatch for a shrew.) 
I then put a small snake in with him. The shrew was 
very active but seemed nearly blind, and as he ran to and 
fro he never seemed to be aware of the presence of any- 
thing living until he was close to it, when he would in- 
stantly spring on it like a tiger. On this occasion he 
attacked the little snake with great ferocity, and after 
an animated struggle in which the snake whipped and 
rolled all around the cage, throwing the shrew to and 
fro a dozen times, the latter killed and ate the snake 
in triumph. Larger snakes frequently eat shrews, by 
the way. 

Once last summer, while several of us were playing 
on the tennis ground, a mole-shrew suddenly came out 
on the court. I first saw him near one of the side lines, 
and ran after him; I picked him up in my naked hand, 
whereupon he bit me, and I then took him in my hand- 
kerchief. After we had all looked at him I put him 
down, and he scuttled off among the grass and went down 
a little hole. We resumed our game, but after a few 
minutes the shrew reappeared, and this time crossed the 
tennis court near the net, while we gathered about him. 
He was an absurd little creature and his motion in run- 
ning was precisely like that of one of those mechanical 



394 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



toys in the shape of mice or little bears which are wound 
up and run around on wheels. When we put our rackets 
before him he uttered little, shrill, long-continued squeals 
of irritation. We let him go off in the grass, and this 
time he did not reappear for the day; but next afternoon 
he repeated the feat. 

My boys have at intervals displayed a liking for natu- 
ral history, and one of them during some years took to 
trapping small mammals, discovering species that I had 
no idea existed in certain places; near Washington, but 
on the other side of the Potomac, he trapped several of 
those very dainty little creatures, the harvest mice.^ One 
of my other boys — the special friend of Josiah the badger 
— discovered a flying-squirrel's nest, in connection with 
which a rather curious incident occurred. The little 
boy had climbed a tree which is hollow at the top ; and 
in this hollow he discovered a flying-squirrel mother with 
six young ones. She seemed so tame and friendly that the 
little boy for a moment hardly realized that she was a 
wild thing, and called down that he had " found a guinea 
pig up the tree." Finally, the mother made up her mind 
to remove her family. She took each one in turn in her 
mouth and flew or sailed down from the top of the tree 
to the foot of another tree near by; ran up this, holding 
the little squirrel in her mouth; and again sailed down 
to the foot of another tree some distance off. Here she 
deposited her young one on the grass, and then, reversing 

1 A visit of this same small boy, when eleven years old, to John Burroughs, 
is described by the latter in *♦ Far and Near," in the chapter called " Babes in 
the Woods." 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 395 

the process, climbed and sailed back to the tree where the 
nest was; then she took out another young one and re- 
turned with it, in exactly the same fashion as with the 
first. She repeated this until all six of the young ones 
were laid on the bank, side by side in a row, all with their 
heads the same way. Finding that she was not molested 
she ultimately took all six of the little fellows back to 
her nest, where she reared her brood undisturbed. 

Flying squirrels become very gentle and attractive 
little pets if taken into the house. I cannot say as much 
for gray squirrels. Once when a small boy I climbed up 
to a large nest of dry leaves in the fork of a big chestnut 
tree, and from it picked out three very young squirrels. 
One died, but the other two I succeeded in rearing on a 
milk diet, which at first I was obliged to administer with 
a syringe. They grew up absolutely tame and would 
climb all over the various members of the household; but 
as they grew older they grew cross. If we children did 
something they did not like they would not only scold us 
vigorously, but, if they thought the provocation war- 
ranted it, would bite severely; and we finally exiled them 
to the woods. Gray squirrels, I am sorry to say, rob nests 
just as red squirrels do. At Sagamore Hill I have more 
than once been attracted by the alarm notes of various 
birds, and on investigation have found the winged wood- 
land people in great agitation over a gray squirrel's as- 
sault on the eggs or young of a thrush or vireo; and once 
one of these good-looking marauders came up the hill to 
harry a robin's nest near the house. Many years ago I 
had an extraordinary experience with a gray squirrel. 



396 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

I was in the edge of some woods, and, seeing a squirrel, I 
stood motionless. The squirrel came to me and actually 
climbed up me; I made no movement until it began to 
nibble at my elbow, biting through my flannel shirt. 
When I moved, it of course jumped off, but it did not 
seem much frightened and lingered for some minutes in 
view, about thirty yards away. I have never understood 
the incident. 

Among the small mammals at Sagamore Hill the 
chipmunks are the most familiar and the most in evi- 
dence; for they readily become tame and confiding. For 
three or four years a chipmunk — I suppose the same chip- 
munk — has lived near the tennis court; and it has devel- 
oped the rather puzzling custom of sometimes scamper- 
ing across the court while we are in the middle of a game. 
This has happened two or three times every year, and is 
rather difficult to explain, for the chipmunk could just 
as well go round the court, and there seems no possible 
reason why he should suddenly run out on it while the 
game is in full swing. If we see him, we all stop to 
watch him, and then he may himself stop and look about; 
but we may not see him until just as he is finishing a 
frantic scurry across, in imminent danger of being 
stepped on. 

The most attractive and sociable pet among wild 
creatures of its size I have found to be a coon. One 
which when I was a boy I brought up from the time it 
was very young, was as playful and affectionate as any 
little dog, and used its little black paws just as if they 
were hands. Coons, by the way, sometimes appear in 




AUDREY TAKES THE BARS 
From a photograph, copyright, 1907, by Clinedinst 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 



397 



political campaigns. Frequently when I have been on 
the stump in places where there was still a strong tradi- 
tion of the old Whig party as it was in the days of Henry 
Clay and Tippecanoe Harrison, I have reviewed pro- 
cessions in which log cabins and coons were prominent 
features. The log cabins were usually miniature rep- 
resentations, mounted on wheels, but the coons were gen- 
uine. Each was usually carried by some enthusiast, who 
might lead it by a chain and collar, but more frequently 
placed it upon a platform at the end of a pole, chained 
up short. Most naturally the coon protested violently 
against the proceedings; his only satisfaction being the 
certainty that every now and then some other parader 
would stumble near enough to be bitten. At one place 
an admirer suddenly presented me with one of these coons 
and was then swept on in the crowd; leaving me gingerly 
holding by the end of a chain an exceedingly active and 
short-tempered little beast, which I had not the slightest 
idea how to dispose of. On two other occasions, by the 
way, while off on campaign trips I was presented with 
bears. These I firmly refused to receive. One of them 
was brought to a platform by an old mountain hunter 
who, I am afraid, really had his feelings hurt by the 
refusal. The other bear made his appearance at Port- 
land, Ore., and, of all places, was chained on top of a 
wooden platform just aft the smokestack of an engine, 
the engine being festooned with American flags. He 
belonged to the fireman, who had brought him as a 
special gift; I being an honorary member of the Brother- 
hood of Locomotive Firemen. His owner explained that 



398 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

normally he was friendly; but the surroundings had cur- 
dled his temper. 

Usually birds are very regular in their habits, so that 
not only the same species but the same individuals breed 
in the same places year after year. In spite of their wings 
they are almost as local as mammals and the same pair 
will usually keep to the same immediate neighborhood, 
where they can always be looked for in their season. 
There are wooded or brush-grown swampy places not far 
from the White House where in the spring or summer I 
can count with certainty upon seeing wrens, chats, and 
the ground-loving Kentucky warbler, an attractive little 
bird, which, by the way, itself looks much like a miniature 
chat. There are other places, in the neighborhood of 
Rock Creek, where I can be almost certain of finding 
the blue-gray gnatcatcher, which ranks just next to the 
humming-bird itself in exquisite daintiness and delicacy. 
The few pairs of mocking-birds around Washington have 
just as sharply defined haunts. 

Nevertheless it is never possible to tell when one may 
run across a rare bird; and even birds that are not rare, 
now and then show marked individual idiosyncrasy in 
turning up, or even breeding, in unexpected places. At 
Sagamore Hill, for instance, I never knew a purple finch 
to breed until the summer of 1906. Then two pairs 
nested with us, one right by the house and the other near 
the stable. My attention was drawn to them by the bold, 
cheerful singing of the males, who were spurred to rivalry 
by one another's voices. In September of the same year, 
while sitting in a rocking-chair on the broad veranda 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 399 

looking out over the Sound, I heard the unmistakable 
" ank-ank " of nuthatches from a young elm at one cor- 
ner of the house. I strolled over, expecting to find the 
white-bellied nuthatch, which is rather common on Long 
Island. But instead there were a couple of red-bellied 
nuthatches, birds familiar to me in the Northern woods, 
but which I had never before seen at Sagamore Hill. 
They were tame and fearless, running swiftly up and 
down the tree-trunk and around the limbs while I stood 
and looked at them not ten feet away. The two younger 
boys ran out to see them; and then we hunted up their 
picture in Wilson. I find, by the way, that Audubon's 
and Wilson's are still the most satisfactory large orni- 
thologies, at least for nature lovers who are not special- 
ists; of course any attempt at serious study of our birds 
means recourse to the numerous and excellent books and 
pamphlets by recent observers. Bendire's large work 
gives admirable biographies of all the birds it treats of; 
unfortunately it was never finished. 

In May, 1907, two pairs of robins built their substan- 
tial nests, and raised their broods, on the piazza at Saga- 
more Hill; one over the transom of the north hall door 
and one over the transom of the south hall door. An- 
other pair built their nest and raised their brood on a 
rafter in the half-finished new barn, quite undisturbed by 
the racket of the carpenters who were finishing it. A pair 
of scarlet tanagers built near the tennis ground; the male 
kept in the immediate neighborhood all the time, flaming 
among the branches, and singing steadily until the last 
part of July. To my ears the song of the tanager is like 



400 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

a louder, more brilliant, less leisurely rendering of the 
red-eyed vireo's song; but with the characteristic " chip- 
churr " every now and then interspersed. Only one pair 
of purple finches returned to us last summer; and for 
the first time in many years no Baltimore orioles built 
in the elm by the corner of the house; they began their 
nest but for some reason left it unfinished. The red- 
winged blackbirds, however, were more plentiful than 
for years previously, and two pairs made their nests near 
the old barn, where the grass stood lush and tall ; this was 
the first time they had ever built nearer than the wood- 
pile pond, and I believe it was owing to the season being 
so cold and wet. It was perhaps due to the same cause 
that so many black-throated green warblers spent June 
and July in the woods on our place; they must have been 
breeding, though I only noticed the males. Each kept to 
his own special tract of woodland, among the tops of the 
tall trees, seeming to prefer the locusts, and throughout 
June, and far into July, each sang all day long — a drawl- 
ing, cadenced little warble of five or six notes, the first 
two being the most noticeable near by, though, rather 
curiously, the next two were the notes that had most car- 
rying power. The song was usually uttered at intervals 
of a few seconds; sometimes while the singer was perched 
motionless, sometimes as he flitted and crawled actively 
among the branches. With the resident of one particular 
grove I became well acquainted, as I was chopping a 
path through the grove. Every day when I reached the 
grove, I found the little warbler singing away, and at 
least half the time in one particular locust tree. He paid 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 401 

not the slightest attention to my chopping; whereas a pair 
of downy woodpeckers and a pair of great-crested fly- 
catchers, both of them evidently nesting near by, were 
much put out by my presence. While listening to my 
little black-throated friend, I could also continually hear 
the songs of his cousins, the prairie warbler, the redstart, 
the black-and-white creeper and the Maryland yellow- 
throat; not to speak of oven-birds, towhees, thrashers, 
vireos, and the beautiful golden-voiced wood thrushes. 

The black-throated green warblers have seemingly 
become regular summer residents of Long Island, for 
after discovering them on my place I found that two or 
three bird-loving neighbors were already familiar with 
them; and I heard them on several different occasions as 
I rode through the country roundabout. I already knew 
as summer residents in my neighborhood the following 
representatives of the warbler family: the oven-bird, chat, 
black-and-white creeper, Maryland yellow-throat, sum- 
mer yellow-bird, prairie warbler, pine warbler, blue- 
winged warbler, golden-winged warbler (very rare) , blue 
yellow-backed warbler and redstart. 

The black-throated green as a breeder and summer 
resident is a newcomer who has extended his range south- 
ward. But this same summer I found one warbler, the 
presence of which, if more than accidental, means that a 
southern form is extending its range northward. This 
was the Dominican or yellow-throated warbler. Two of 
my bird-loving neighbors are Mrs. E. H. Swan, Jr., and 
Miss Alice Weekes. On July 4th Mrs. Swan told me 
that a new warbler, the yellow-throated, was living near 



402 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

their house, and that she and her husband had seen it 
there on several occasions. I was rather skeptical, and 
told her I thought that it must be a Maryland yellow- 
throat. Mrs. Swan meekly acquiesced in the theory that 
she might have been mistaken; but two or three days 
afterward she sent me word that she and Miss Weekes 
had seen the bird again, had examined it thoroughly 
through their glasses, and were sure that it was a yellow- 
throated warbler. Accordingly on the morning of the 8th 
I walked down and met them both near Mrs. Swan's 
house, about a mile from Sagamore Hill. We did not 
have to wait long before we heard an unmistakably new 
warbler's song, loud, ringing, sharply accented, just as 
the yellow-throat's song is described in Chapman's book. 
At first the little bird kept high in the tops of the pines, 
but after a while he came to the lower branches and we 
were able to see him distinctly. Only a glance was needed 
to show that my two friends were quite right in their 
identification and that the bird was undoubtedly the Do- 
minican or yellow-throated warbler. Its bill was as long 
as that of a black-and-white creeper, giving the head a 
totally different look from that of any of its brethren, 
the other true wood-warblers; and the olive-gray back, 
yellow throat and breast, streaked sides, white belly, black 
cheek and forehead, and white line above the eye and 
spot on the side of the neck, could all be plainly made 
out. The bird kept continually uttering its loud, sharply 
modulated, and attractive warble. It never left the pines, 
and though continually on the move, it yet moved with 
a certain deliberation like a pine warbler, and not with 




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SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 403 

the fussy agility of most of its kinsfolk. Occasionally it 
would catch some insect on the wing, but most of the time 
kept hopping about among the needle-clad clusters of the 
pine twigs, or moving along the larger branches, stop- 
ping from time to time to sing. Now and then it would 
sit still on one twig for several minutes, singing at short 
intervals and preening its feathers. 

After looking at it for nearly an hour we had to solve 
the rather difficult ethical question as to whether we 
ought to kill it or not. In these cases it is always hard 
to draw the line between heartlessness and sentimentality. 
In our own minds we were sure of our identification, 
and did not feel that we could be mistaken, but we were 
none of us professed ornithologists, and as far as I knew 
the bird was really rare thus far north; so that it seemed 
best to shoot him, which was accordingly done. I was 
influenced in this decision, in the first place because war- 
blers are so small that it is difficult for any observer to 
be absolutely certain as to their identification; and in the 
next place by the fact that the breeding season was un- 
doubtedly over, and that this was an adult male, so that 
no harm came to the species. I very strongly feel that 
there should be no " collecting " of rare and beautiful 
species when this is not imperatively demanded. Mock- 
ing-birds, for instance, are very beautiful birds, well 
known and unmistakable; and there is not the slightest 
excuse for " collecting " their nests and eggs or shooting 
specimens of them, no matter where they may be found. 
So, there is no excuse for shooting scarlet tanagers, sum- 
mer redbirds, cardinals, nor of course any of the com- 



404 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

mon, well-known friends of the lawn, the garden and 
the farm land; and with most birds nowadays observa- 
tions on their habits are of far more value than their 
skins can possibly be. But there must be some shooting, 
especially of obscure and little-known birds, or we would 
never be able to identify them at all ; while most laymen 
are not sufficiently close observers to render it possible 
to trust their identification of rare species. 

In one apple tree in the orchard we find a flicker's 
nest every year; the young make a queer, hissing, bub- 
bling sound, a little like the boiling of a pot. This same 
year one of the young ones fell out; I popped it back into 
the hole, whereupon its brothers and sisters " boiled " for 
several minutes like the cauldron of a small and friendly 
witch. John Burroughs, and a Long Island neighbor, 
John Lewis Childs, drove over to see me, in this same 
June of 1907, and I was able to show them the various 
birds of most interest — the purple finch, the black- 
throated green warbler, the redwings in their unexpected 
nesting place by the old barn, and the orchard orioles and 
yellow-billed cuckoos in the garden. The orchard orioles 
this year took much interest in the haying, gleaning in 
the cut grass for grasshoppers. The barn swallows that 
nest in the stable raised second broods, which did not 
leave the nest until the end of July. When the barn 
swallows gather in their great flocks just prior to the 
southward migration, the gathering sometimes takes place 
beside a house, and then the swallows seem to get so 
excited and bewildered that they often fly into the house. 
When I was a small boy I took a keen, although not a 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 405 

very intelligent, interest in natural history, and solemnly 
recorded whatever I thought to be notable. When I was 
nine years old we were passing the summer near Tarry- 
town, on the Hudson. My diary for September 4, 1868, 
runs as follows: " Cold and rainy. I was called in from 
breakfast to a room. When I went in there what was 
my surprise to see on walls, curtains and floor about forty 
swallows. All the morning long in every room of the 
house (even the kitchen) were swallows. They were 
flying south. Several hundred were outside and about 
seventy-five in the house. I caught most of them (and 
put them out of the windows) . The others got out them- 
selves. One flew on my pants where he stayed until I 
took him off." 

At the White House we are apt to stroll around the 
grounds for a few minutes after breakfast; and during the 
migrations, especially in spring, I often take a pair of 
field glasses so as to examine any bird as to the identity 
of which I am doubtful. From the end of April the 
warblers pass in troops — myrtle, magnolia, chestnut- 
sided, bay-breasted, blackburnian, black-throated blue, 
blue-winged, Canadian, and many others, with at the very 
end of the season the black-poll — all of them exquisite 
little birds, but not conspicuous as a rule, except perhaps 
the blackburnian, whose brilliant orange throat and 
breast flame when they catch the sunlight as he flits among 
the trees. The males in their dress of courtship are easily 
recognized by any one who has Chapman's book on the 
warblers. On May 4, 1906, I saw a Cape May warbler, 
the first I had ever seen. It was in a small pine. It was 



4o6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

fearless, allowing a close approach, and as it was a male 
in high plumage, it was unmistakable. 

In 1907, after a very hot week in early March, we 
had an exceedingly late and cold spring. The first bird 
I heard sing in the White House grounds was a white- 
throated sparrow on March ist, a song sparrow speedily 
following. The white-throats stayed with us until the 
middle of May, overlapping the arrival of the indigo 
buntings ; but during the last week in April and first week 
in May their singing was drowned by the music of the 
purple finches, which I never before saw in such num- 
bers around the White House. When we sat by the south 
fountain, under an apple tree then blossoming, sometimes 
three or four purple finches would be singing in the fra- 
grant bloom overhead. In June a pair of wood thrushes 
and a pair of black-and-white creepers made their homes 
in the White House grounds, in addition to our ordinary 
homemakers, the flickers, redheads, robins, catbirds, song 
sparrows, chippies, summer yellow-birds, grackles, and, 
I am sorry to say, crows. A handsome sapsucker spent a 
week with us. In the same year five night herons spent 
January and February in a swampy tract by the Poto- 
mac, half a mile or so from the White House. 

At Mount Vernon there are of course more birds than 
there are around the White House, for it is in the country. 
At present but one mocking-bird sings around the house 
itself, and in the gardens and the woods of the immedi- 
ate neighborhood. Phoebe birds nest at the heads of the 
columns under the front portico; and a pair — or rather, 
doubtless, a succession of pairs — has nested in Washing- 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 407 

ton's tomb itself, for the twenty years since I have known 
it. The cardinals, beautiful in plumage, and with clear 
ringing voices, are characteristic of the place. I am 
glad to say that the woods still hold many gray — not red 
— foxes; the descendants of those which Washington so 
perseveringly hunted. 

At Oyster Bay on a desolate winter afternoon many 
years ago I shot an Ipswich sparrow on a strip of ice- 
rimmed beach, where the long coarse grass waved in 
front of a growth of blue berries, beach plums and 
stunted pines. I think it was the same winter that we 
were visited not only by flocks of cross-bills, pine linnets, 
red-polls and pine grossbeaks, but by a number of snowy 
owls, which flitted to and fro in ghost-like fashion across 
the wintry landscape and showed themselves far more 
diurnal in their habits than our native owls. One fall 
about the same time a pair of duck-hawks appeared of¥ 
the bay. It was early, before many ducks had come, and 
they caused havoc among the night herons, which were 
then very numerous in the marshes around Lloyd's Neck, 
there being a big heronry in the woods near by. Once 
I saw a duck-hawk come around the bend of the shore, 
and dart into a loose gang of young night herons, still in 
the brown plumage, which had jumped from the marsh 
at my approach. The pirate struck down three herons in 
succession and sailed swiftly on without so much as look- 
ing back at his victims.^ The herons, which are usually 

1 Dr. Lambert last fall, on a hunting trip in Northern Quebec, found a gyrfal- 
con on an island in a lake which had just killed a great blue heron; the heron's 
feathers were scattered all over the lake. Lambert also shot a great horned owl 
in the dusk one evening, and found that it had a half-eaten duck in its claws. 



4o8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

rather dull birds, showed every sign of terror whenever 
the duck-hawk appeared in the distance; whereas, they 
paid no heed to the fish-hawks as they sailed overhead. 
I found the carcass of a black-headed or Bonaparte's 
gull which had probably been killed by one of these 
duck-hawks; these gulls appear in the early fall, before 
their bigger brothers, the herring gulls, have come for 
their winter stay. The spotted sand-pipers often build 
far away from water; while riding, early in July, 1907, 
near Cold Spring, my horse almost stepped on a little 
fellow that could only just have left the nest. It was in 
a dry road between upland fields; the parents were near 
by, and betrayed much agitation. The little fish-crows 
are not rare around Washington, though not so common 
as the ordinary crows; once I shot one at Oyster Bay. 
They are not so wary as their larger kinsfolk, but are 
quite as inveterate destroyers of the eggs and nestlings 
of more attractive birds. The soaring turkey buzzards, 
so beautiful on the wing and so loathsome near by, are 
seen everywhere around the Capital. 

Bird songs are often puzzling, and it is nearly impos- 
sible to write them down so that any one but the writer 
will recognize them. Moreover, as we ascribe to them 
qualities, such as plaintiveness or gladness, which really 
exist in our own minds and not in the songs themselves, 
two different observers, equally accurate, may ascribe 
widely different qualities to the same song. To me, for 
instance, the bush sparrow's song is more attractive than 
the vesper sparrow's; but I think most of my friends feel 
just the reverse way about the two songs. To most of 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 409 

us the bobolink's song bubbles over with rollicking mer- 
riment, with the glad joy of mere living; whereas the 
thrushes, the meadow lark, the white-throated sparrow, 
all have a haunting strain of sadness or plaintiveness in 
their melody; but I am by no means sure that there is 
the slightest difference of this kind in the singers. Most 
of the songs of the common birds I recognize fairly well; 
but even with these birds there will now and then be a 
call, or a few bars, which I do not recognize; and if I 
hear a bird but seldom, I find much difficulty in recall- 
ing its song, unless it is very well marked indeed. Last 
spring I for a long time utterly failed to recognize the 
song of a water thrush by Rock Creek; and later in the 
season I on one occasion failed to make out the flight song 
of an oven-bird until in the middle of it the singer sud- 
denly threw in two or three of the characteristic " teacher, 
teacher " notes. Even in neighborhoods with which I am 
familiar I continually hear songs and calls which I can- 
not place. 

In Albemarle County, Virginia, we have a little place 
called Pine Knot, where we sometimes go, taking some 
or all of the children, for a three or four days' outing. 
It is a mile from the big stock farm, Plain Dealing, 
belonging to an old friend, Mr. Joseph Wilmer. The 
trees and flowers are like those of Washington, but their 
general close resemblance to those of Long Island is set off 
by certain exceptions. There are osage orange hedges, 
and in spring many of the roads are bordered with bands 
of the brilliant yellow blossoms of the flowering broom, 
introduced by Jefferson. There are great willow oaks 



41 o AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

here and there in the woods or pastures, and occasional 
groves of noble tulip trees in the many stretches of forest; 
these tulip trees growing to a much larger size than on 
Long Island. As at Washington, among the most plen- 
tiful flowers are the demure little Quaker Ladies, which 
are not found at Sagamore Hill — where we also miss 
such northern forms as the wake robin and the other 
trilliums, which used to be among the characteristic 
marks of spring-time at Albany. At Pine Knot the red 
bug, dogwood and laurel are plentiful; though in the 
case of the last two no more so than at Sagamore Hill. 
The azalea — its Knickerbocker name in New York was 
pinkster — grows and flowers far more luxuriantly than 
on Long Island. The moccasin flower, the china-blue 
Virginia cowslip with its pale pink buds, the blood-red 
Indian pink, the painted columbine and many, many 
other flowers somewhat less showy carpet the woods. 

The birds are, of course, for the most part the same as 
on Long Island, but with some differences. These differ- 
ences are, in part, due to the more southern locality; but 
in part I cannot explain them, for birds will often be 
absent from one place seemingly without any real reason. 
Thus around us in Albemarle County song sparrows are 
certainly rare and I have not seen savanna sparrows at 
all; but the other common sparrows, such as the chippy, 
field sparrow, vesper sparrow, and grasshopper sparrow 
abound; and in an open field where bind-weed morning 
glories and evening primroses grew among the broom 
sedge, I found some small grass-dwelling sparrows, which 
with the exercise of some little patience I was able to 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 411 

study at close quarters with the glasses; as I had no gun 
I could not be positive about their identification, though 
I was inclined to believe that they were Henslow's spar- 
rows. Of birds of brilliant color there are six species — 
the cardinal, the summer redbird and the scarlet tanager, 
in red, and the bluebird, indigo bunting, and blue gross- 
beak, in blue. I saw but one pair of blue grossbeaks; 
but the little indigo buntings abound, and bluebirds are 
exceedingly common, breeding in numbers. It has al- 
ways been a puzzle to me why they do not breed around 
us at Sagamore Hill, where I only see them during the 
migrations. Neither the rosy summer redbirds nor the 
cardinals are quite as brilliant as the scarlet tanagers, 
which fairly burn like live flames; but the tanager is 
much less common than either of the others in Albemarle 
County, and it is much less common than it is at Saga- 
more Hill. Among the singers the wood thrush is not 
common, but the meadow lark abounds. The yellow- 
breasted chat is everywhere and in the spring its cluck- 
ing, whistling and calling seem never to stop for a minute. 
The white-eyed vireo is found in the same thick under- 
growth as the chat and among the smaller birds it is one 
of those most in evidence to the ear. In one or two places 
I came across parties of the long-tailed Bewick's wren, 
as familiar as the house wren but with a very different 
song. There are gentle mourning doves; and black-billed 
cuckoos seem more common than the yellow-bills. The 
mocking-birds are, as always, most interesting. I was 
much amused to see one of them following two crows; 
when they lit in a plowed field the mocking-bird paraded 



412 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



alongside of them six feet ofif, and then fluttered around 
to the attack. The crows, however, were evidently less 
bothered by it than they would have been by a kingbird. 
At Plain Dealing many birds nest within a stone's throw 
of the rambling attractive house, with its numerous out- 
buildings, old garden, orchard, and venerable locusts 
and catalpas. Among them are Baltimore and orchard 
orioles, purple grackles, flickers and red-headed wood- 
peckers, bluebirds, robins, kingbirds and indigo buntings. 
One observation which I made was of real interest. On 
May 1 8, 1907, I saw a small party of a dozen or so of 
passenger pigeons, birds I had not seen for a quarter of 
a century and never expected to see again. I saw them 
two or three times flying hither and thither with great 
rapidity, and once they perched in a tall dead pine on the 
edge of an old field. They were unmistakable; yet the 
sight was so unexpected that I almost doubted my eyes, 
and I welcomed a bit of corroborative evidence coming 
from Dick, the colored foreman at Plain Dealing. Dick 
is a frequent companion of mine in rambles around the 
country, and he is an unusually close and accurate ob- 
server of birds, and of wild things generally. Dick had 
mentioned to me having seen some " wild carrier pig- 
eons," as he called them; and, thinking over this remark 
of his, after I had returned to Washington, I began to 
wonder whether he too might not have seen passenger 
pigeons. Accordingly I wrote to Mr. Wilmer, asking 
him to question Dick and find out what the " carrier 
pigeons " looked like. His answering letter runs in part 
as follows : 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 413 

" On May 12th last Dick saw a flock of about thirty wild 
pigeons, followed at a short distance by about half as many, 
flying in a circle very rapidly, between the Plain Dealing 
house and the woods, where they disappeared. They had 
pointed tails and resembled somewhat large doves — the breast 
and sides rather a brownish red. He had seen them before, 
but many years ago. I think it is unquestionably the passenger 
pigeon — Ectopistes migratorhis — described on p. 25 of the 5th 
volume of Audubon. I remember the pigeon roosts as he de- 
scribes them, on a smaller scale, but large flocks have not been 
seen in this part of Virginia for many years." 

I fear, by the way, that the true prairie chicken, one 
of the most characteristic American game birds, W\\\ soon 
follow the passenger pigeon. My two elder sons have 
now and then made trips for prairie chickens and ducks 
to the Dakotas. Last summer, 1907, the second boy re- 
turned from such a trip — which he had ended by a suc- 
cessful deer hunt in Wisconsin — with the melancholy in- 
formation that the diminution in the ranks of the prairie 
fowl in the Dakotas was very evident. 

The house at Pine Knot consists of one long room, 
with a broad piazza, below, and three small bedrooms 
above. It is made of wood, with big outside chimneys 
at each end. Wood rats and white-footed mice visit it; 
once a weasel came in after them; now a flying squirrel 
has made his home among the rafters. On one side the 
pines and on the other side the oaks come up to the walls ; 
in front the broom sedge grows almost to the piazza and 
above the line of its waving plumes we look across the 
beautiful rolling Virginia farm country to the foot-hills 



414 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



of the Blue Ridge. At night whippoorwills call inces- 
santly around us. In the late spring or early summer we 
usually take breakfast and dinner on the veranda listen- 
ing to mocking-bird, cardinal, and Carolina wren, as well 
as to many more common singers. In the winter the lit- 
tle house can only be kept warm by roaring fires in the 
great open fireplaces, for there is no plaster on the walls, 
nothing but the bare wood. Then the table is set near 
the blazing logs at one end of the long room which makes 
up the lower part of the house, and at the other end the 
colored cook — ^Jim Crack by name — prepares the deli- 
cious Virginia dinner; while around him cluster the 
little darkies, who go on errands, bring in wood, or fetch 
water from the spring, to put in the bucket which stands 
below where the gourd hangs on the wall. Outside the 
wind moans or the still cold bites if the night is quiet; 
but inside there is warmth and light and cheer. 

There are plenty of quail and rabbits in the fields 
and woods near by, so we live partly on what our guns 
bring in; and there are also wild turkeys. I spent the 
first three days of November, 1906, in a finally success- 
ful effort to kill a wild turkey. Each morning I left 
the house between three and five o'clock, under a cold 
brilliant moon. The frost was heavy; and my horse 
shuffled over the frozen ruts as I rode after Dick. I 
was on the turkey grounds before the faintest streak of 
dawn had appeared in the east; and I worked as long 
as daylight lasted. It was interesting and attractive in 
spite of the cold. In the night we heard the quavering 
screech owls; and occasionally the hooting of one of 





^^' 



ROSWELL BEHAVES LIKE A GENTLEMAN 
From a photograph, copyright, 1907, by Clinedinst 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 415 

their bigger brothers. At dawn we listened to the lusty 
hammering of the big logcocks, or to the curious cough- 
ing or croaking sound of a hawk before it left its roost. 
Now and then loose flocks of small birds straggled past 
us as we sat in the blind, or rested to eat our lunch; 
chickadees, tufted tits, golden-crested kinglets, creepers, 
cardinals, various sparrows and small woodpeckers. 
Once we saw a shrike pounce on a field mouse by a 
haystack; once we came on a ruffed grouse sitting motion- 
less in the road. 

The last day I had with me Jim Bishop, a man who 
had hunted turkeys by profession, a hard-working farmer, 
whose ancestors have for generations been farmers and 
woodmen; an excellent hunter, tireless, resourceful, with 
an eye that nothing escaped; just the kind of a man one 
likes to regard as typical of what is best in American life. 
Until this day, and indeed until the very end of this day, 
chance did not favor us. We tried to get up to the turkeys 
on the roost before daybreak; but they roosted in pines 
and, night though it was, they were evidently on the look- 
out, for they always saw us long before we could make 
them out, and then we could hear them fly out of the tree- 
tops. Turkeys are quite as wary as deer, and we never 
got a sight of them while we were walking through the 
woods; but two or three times we flushed gangs, and my 
companion then at once built a little blind of pine boughs 
in which we sat while he tried to call the scattered birds 
up to us by imitating, with marvellous fidelity, their 
yelping. Twice a turkey started toward us, but on each 
occasion the old hen began calling some distance ofif and 



41 6 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

all the scattered birds at once went toward her. At other 
times I would slip around to one side of a wood while 
my companion walked through it, but either there were 
no turkeys or they went out somewhere far away from me. 

On the last day I was out thirteen hours. Finally, 
late in the afternoon, Jim Bishop marked a turkey into 
a point of pines which stretched from a line of wooded 
hills down into a narrow open valley on the other side 
of which again rose wooded hills. I ran down to the 
end of the point and stood behind a small oak, while 
Bishop and Dick walked down through the trees to drive 
the turkey toward me. This time everything went well; 
the turkey came out of the cover not too far off and 
sprang into the air, heading across the valley and offer- 
ing me a side shot at forty yards as he sailed by. It was 
just the distance for the close-shooting ten-bore duck 
gun I carried; and at the report down came the turkey 
in a heap, not so much as a leg or wing moving. It was 
an easy shot. But we had hunted hard for three days; 
and the turkey is the king of American game birds ; and, 
besides, I knew he would be very good eating indeed 
when we brought him home; so I was as pleased as pos- 
sible when Dick lifted the fine young gobbler, his bronze 
plumage iridescent in the light of the westering sun. 

Formerly we could ride across country in any direc- 
tion around Washington and almost as soon as we left 
the beautiful, tree-shaded streets of the city we were 
in the real country. But as Washington grows, it natu- 
rally — and to me most regrettably — becomes less and 
less like its former, glorified-village, self; and wire fenc- 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 417 

ing has destroyed our old cross-country rides. Fortu- 
nately there are now many delightful bridle trails in 
Rock Creek Park; and we have fixed up a number of 
good jumps at suitable places — a stone wall, a water 
jump, a bank w^ith a ditch, two or three posts-and-rails, 
about four feet high, and some stiff brush hurdles, one 
of five feet seven inches. The last, which is the only for- 
midable jump was put up to please two sporting members 
of the administration, Bacon and Meyer. Both of them 
school their horses over it; and my two elder boys, and 
Fitzhugh Lee, my cavalry aide, also school my horses 
over it. On one of my horses, Roswell, I have gone over 
it myself; and as I weigh two hundred pounds without 
my saddle I think that the jump, with such a weight, in 
cold blood, should be credited to Roswell for righteous- 
ness. Roswell is a bay gelding; Audrey a black mare; 
they are Virginia horses. In the spring of 1907 I had 
photographs of them taken going over the various jumps. 
Roswell is a fine jumper, and usually goes at his jumps 
in a spirit of matter-of-fact enjoyment. But he now and 
then shows queer kinks in his temper. On one of these 
occasions he began by wishing to rush his jumps, and 
by trying to go over the wings instead of the jumps them- 
selves. He fought hard for his head; and as it happened 
that the best picture we got of him in the air was at this 
particular time, it gives a wrong idea of his ordinary 
behavior, and also, I sincerely trust, a wrong idea of my 
hands. Generally he takes his jumps like a gentleman. 
Many of the men with whom I hunted or with whom 
I was brought in close contact when I lived on my ranch. 



41 8 AN AMERICAN HUNTER 

and still more of the men who were with me in the Rough 
Riders, have shared in some way or other in my later 
political life. Phil Stewart was one of the Presidential 
Electors who in 1904 gave me Colorado's vote; Merri- 
field filled the same position in Montana and is now Mar- 
shal of that State. Cecil Lyon and Sloan Simpson, of 
Texas, were delegates for me at the National Convention 
which nominated me in 1904. Sewell is Collector of Cus- 
toms in Maine; Sylvans and Joe Ferris are respectively 
Register of the Land Office and Postmaster in North 
Dakota; Dennis Shea with whom I worked on the Little 
Missouri roundup holds my commission as Marshal of 
North Dakota. Abernathy the wolf hunter is my Mar- 
shal in Oklahoma. John Willis declined to take any 
place ; when he was last my guest at the White House he 
told me, I am happy to say, that he does better with his 
ranch than he could have done with any office. Johnny 
Gofif is a forest ranger near the Yellowstone Park. Seth 
Bullock is Marshal of South Dakota; he too is an old 
friend of my ranch days and was sheriff in the Black 
Hills when I was deputy sheriff due north of him in 
Billings County, in the then Territory of Dakota. 
Among the people that we both arrested, by the way, was 
a young man named " Calamity Joe," a very well-mean- 
ing fellow but a wild boy who had gone astray, as wild 
boys often used to go astray on the frontier, through bad 
companionship. To my great amusement his uncle 
turned up as United States Senator some fifteen years 
later, and was one of my staunch allies. Of the men of 
the regiment Lieutenant Colonel Brodie I made Gov- 




ROSWELL FIGHTS FOR HIS HEAD 
From a photograph, copyright, 1907, by Clinedinst 



SMALL COUNTRY NEIGHBORS 419 

ernor of Arizona, Captain Frantz, Governor of Okla- 
homa, and Captain Curry Governor of New Mexico. 
Ben Daniels I appointed Marshal of Arizona; Colbert, 
the Chickasaw, Marshal in the Indian Territory. Llew- 
ellyn is District Attorney in New Mexico. Jenkins is 
Collector of Internal Revenue in South Carolina. Fred 
Herrig, who was with me on the Little Missouri, where 
we hunted the black-tail and the big-horn together, and 
who later served under me at Santiago, is a forest ranger 
in Montana; and many other men of my old regiment 
have taken up with unexpected interest occupations as 
diverse as those of postmaster, of revenue agent, of land 
and forest officers of various kinds. Joe Lee is Minis- 
ter to Ecuador; John Mcllhenny is Civil Service Com- 
missioner; Craig Wadsworth is Secretary of Legation at 
the Court of St. James; Mason Mitchell is Consul in 
China, having already been Consul at Mozambique, 
where he spent his holidays in hunting the biggest of 
the world's big game. 

Appointments to public office must of course be made 
primarily because of the presumable fitness of the man 
for the position. But even the most rigid moralist ought 
to pardon the occasional inclusion of other considerations. 
I am glad that I have been able to put in office certain 
out-door men who were typical leaders in the old life of 
the frontier, the daring adventurous life of warfare 
against wild man and wild nature which has now so 
nearly passed away. Bat Masterson, formerly of Dodge 
City and the Texas cattle trail, the most famous of the old- 
time marshals, the iron-nerved gun-fighters of the bor- 



420 



AN AMERICAN HUNTER 



der, is now a deputy marshal in New York, under District 
Attorney Stimson — himself a big game hunter, by the 
way. Pat Garret, who slew Billy the Kid, I made Col- 
lector of Customs at El Paso; and other scarred gun- 
fighters of the vanished frontier, with to their credit deeds 
of prowess as great as those of either Masterson or Garret, 
now hold my commissions, on the Rio Grande, in the 
Territories, or here and there in the States of the Rocky 
Mountains and the Great Plains. 



1908 



y