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Full text of "The wilderness hunter; an account of the big game of the United States and its chase with horse, hound, and rifle"

BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT 

WORKS 
STANDARD LIBRARY EDITION 

8 vols., 8% illustrated. Each $2.50. Per set, $20.00 

THE WINNING OF THE WEST 

Four volumes. Each volume is complete in itself, and is 
sold separately. 8, cloth, with maps. Each, $2.50 

HUNTING TRIPS OF A RANCHMAN 

Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle Plains. With 
27 full-page wood engravings and 8 smaller engrav- 
ings, from designs by Frost, Swain Gifford, Beard, 
Fannie E. Gifford, and Sandham. 8 . . $3.00 

THE WILDERNESS HUNTER 

With an Account of the Big Game of the United States, 
and its Chase with Horse, Hound, and Rifle. With 
illustrations by Remington, Frost, Sandham, Eaton, 
Beard, and others. 8 .... $3.00 

THE NAVAL WAR OF 1812 
Or, The History of the United States Navy during the 
Last War with Great Britain. 8th edition. 8, $2.50 

AMERICAN IDEALS 

And Other Essays, Social and Political. I2mo, gilt 
top $1.50 

New Library Edition, reset, uniform with " The Win- 
ning of the West " $2.50 

ADDRESSES AND PRESIDENTIAL MESSAGES 
1902-1904 

With Introduction by Henry Cabot Lodge. 

Standard Library Edition. 8 $2 OO 

Popular Edition. 12 ..... 1.50 




THE DEATH OF THE GRIZZLY. 

Frontispiece (see page 305) 



Stan&arfc library Edition 

The 
Wilderness Hunter 

An Account of the Big Game of the United 

States and its Chase with Horse 

Hound, and Rifle 

BY 

Theodore Roosevelt 

Author of "Hunting Trips of a Ranchman," "The Winning of the West" 
"American Ideals," "Naval War of 1812," etc. 



Illustrated 



G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 
ZTbe Ifcnicfeerbocfeer press 



MCMIX 



COPYRIGHT, 1893, BY 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

Entered at Stationers' Hall, London 

BY G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 






Ubc fmicfcerbocfcer t>rea0, "Hew 



TO 

E. K. R 



241488 



" They saw the silences 
Move by and beckon ; saw the forms, 
The very beards, of burly storms, 
And heard them talk like sounding seas . . . 
They saw the snowy mountains rolled 
And heaved along the nameless lands 
Like mighty billows ; saw the gold 
Of awful sunsets ; saw the blush 
Of sudden dawn, and felt the hush 
Of heaven when the day sat down 
And hid his face in dusky hands." 

Joaquin Miller. 



" In vain the speeding or shyness ; 

In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods . . . 
. . . where geese nip their food with short jerks, 

Where sundown shadows lengthen over the limitless prairie, 

Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles, far 
and near, 

Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and ice-clad trees . . . 

The moose, large as an ox, cornered by hunters, plunging with his fore- 
feet, the hoofs as sharp as knives . . . 

The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper, the talk, the bed of 
hemlock boughs, and the bear-skin." 

Walt Whitman, 



CONTENTS. 



PREFACE 



CHAPTER I. 

THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS ; WILDERNESS HUNTERS AND WILDERNESS 

GAME. 

The American wilderness Forests, plains, mountains Likeness and unlike- 
ness to the old-world wilderness Wilderness hunters Boone, Crockett, 
Houston, Carson The trappers The buffalo hunters The stockmen 
The regular army Wilderness game Bison, moose, elk, caribou, deer, 
antelope Other game Hunting in the wilderness ..... 1-19 



CHAPTER II. 
HUNTING FROM THE RANCH ; THE BLACKTAIL DEER. 

In the cattle country Life on a ranch A round-up Branding a maverick 
The Bad Lands A shot at a blacktail Still-hunting the blacktail Its 
habits Killing a buck in August A shot at close range Occasional un- 
wariness of blacktail ......... 20-36 

CHAPTER III. 
THE WHITETAIL DEER ; AND THE BLACKTAIL OF THE COLUMBIA. 

The whitetail Yields poor sport Fire hunting Hunting with hounds Shoot- 
ing at running game Queer adventure Anecdotes of plainsmen Good 
and bad shots A wagon trip A shot from the ranch-house verandah The 

Columbian blacktail 37~54 

tii 



v;ii Contents. 

CHAPTER IV. 
ON THE CATTLE RANGES | THE PRONG-HORN ANTELOPE. 

Riding to the round-up The open plains Sights and sounds Gophers, prairie 
dogs, sharp-tail grouse, antelope The cow-camp Standing night guard 
Dawn Make an antelope hunt An easy stalk A difficult stalk Three 
antelope shot The plains skylark The meadow lark The mocking-bird 
Other singers Harsher wilderness sounds Pack rats Plains ferret, Its 
ferocity The war eagle Attacks antelope Kills jack-rabbit One shot 
on wing with rifle 55-73 

CHAPTER V. 
HUNTING THE PRONG-BUCK ; FROST, FIRE, AND THIRST. 

Hunting the prong-buck Long shots Misses Winter weather A hunt in 
December Riding in the bitter cold The old hunter's tepee A night in a, 
line camp An antelope herd Two bucks shot Riding back to ranch 
The immigrant train Hunting in fall Fighting fire A summer hunt 
Sufferings from thirst Swimming cattle across a swollen stream Wagon 
trip to the Black Hills The great prairies A prong-buck shot Pleasant 
camp Buck shot in morning Continue our journey Shooting sage fowl 
and prairie fowl with rifle 74~99 

CHAPTER VI. 
AMONG THE HIGH HILLS ; THE BIGHORN OR MOUNTAIN SHEEP. 

A summer on the ranch Working among the cattle Killing game for the ranch 
A trip after mountain sheep The Bad Lands Solitary camp The old 
horse Manitou Still-hunt at dawn Young ram shot A hunt in the Rocky 
Mountains An old bighorn stalked and shot Habits of the game . 100-110 

CHAPTER VII. 
MOUNTAIN GAME ; THE WHITE GOAT. 

A. trip to the Bighole Basin Incidents of travel with a wagon Camp among 
the mountains A trip on foot after goats Spruce grouse Lying out at 
night A climb over the high peaks Two goats shot Weary tramp back 
A hunt in the Kootenai country Hard climbing among the wooded 
mountains Goat shot on brink of chasm Ptarmigan for supper Goat 
hunting very hard work Ways and habits of the goats Not much 
decrease in numbers 111-130 



Contents. ix 

CHAPTER VIII. 
HUNTING IN THE SELKIRKS J THE CARIBOU. 

A camp on Kootenai Lake Travelling on foot through the dense forests Exces- 
sive toil Water shrew and water thrush Black bear killed Mountain 
climbing Woodchucks and conies The Indian Ammal Night sounds 
A long walk A caribou killed A midwinter trip on snow-shoes in Maine 
Footprints on the snow A helpless deer Caribou at ease in the deep 
drifts I3I-I55 

CHAPTER IX. 
THE WAPITI OR ROUND-HORNED ELK. 

A hunt in the Bitter Root mountains A trip on foot Two bull elk fighting 
The peace-maker All three shot Habits of the wapiti Their bugling 
A grand chorus Shooting a bull at sunrise Another killed near the ranch 
Vanishing of the elk Its antlers The lynx Porcupine Chickarees and 
chipmunks Clarke's crow Lewis' woodpecker Whisky-jack Trout 
The Yellowstone canyon 156-176 

CHAPTER X. 
AN ELK-HUNT AT TWO-OCEAN PASS. 

In the Shoshones Travelling with a pack-train Scenery Flowers A squaw- 
man Bull elk shot in rain while challenging Storm Breaking camp in 
rain Two-Ocean Pass Our camp A young ten-pointer shot The moun- 
tains in moonlight Blue grouse Snow-shoe rabbits Death of a master bull 
The Tetons Following a bull by scent 111 luck Luck changes Death 
of spike bull Three bulls killed Travelling home Heavy snowstorm 
Bucking horse Various hunts compared Number cartridges used Still- 
hunting the elk 177-202 

CHAPTER XI. 
THE MOOSE ; THE BEAST OF THE WOODLAND. 

The moose of the Rocky Mountains Its habits Difficult nature of its haunts 
Repeated failures while hunting it Watching a marsh at dawn A moose 
in the reeds Stalking and shooting him Travelling light with a pack- 
train A beaver meadow Shooting a big bull at dawn The moose in 
summer ; in winter Young moose Pugnacity of moose Still-hunting 
moose Rather more easy to kill than whitetail deer At times a dangerous 
antagonist The winter yards Hunting on snow-shoes A narrow escape 
A fatal encounter .......... 203-229 



Contents. 



CHAPTER XII. 
THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO. 

Extermination of the bison My brother and cousin take a hunting trip in Texas 
Hardships Hunting on the Brazos Many buffalo slain Following four 
bulls A stampede Splitting the herd Occasional charges A Comanche 
war party Great herds on the Arkansas Adventure of Clarence King 
The bison of the mountains At the vanishing point A hunt for mountain 
bison A trail discovered Skilful tracking A band of six Death of the 
bull A camp in the canyon . 230-254 

CHAPTER XIII. 
THE BLACK BEAR. 

Habits of the black bear Holds his own well in the land The old hunters 
Hunting bear with dogs General Hampton's hunting Black bear at bay 
A bear catching mice and chipmunks Occasional raids on the farm 
yard Their weight Those I have killed 255-264 

CHAPTER XIV. 
OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR. 

The king of American game Varieties of the grisly Worthlessness of old 
hunters' opinions Grisly contrasted with black bear Size Habits in old 
times Habits nowadays Hybernating Cattle killing Horse killing 
Range cow repels bear Bear kills sheep and hogs Occasional raids on 
game Killing bison, elk, and moose Eats carrion Old he's sometimes kill 
cubs Usually eats roots and vegetables Fondness for berries Its foes 
Den Fond of wallowing She's and cubs Trapping bears Hunting them 
with dogs Ordinarily killed with rifle 265-295 

CHAPTER XV. 
HUNTING THE GRISLY. 

Camp in the mountains After the first snow Trailing and stalking a big bear 
His death Lying in camp Stalking and shooting a bear at a moose car- 
cass Lying in wait for a bear by a dead elk He comes late in the evening 
Is killed A successful hunting trip A quarrel I start home alone Get 
lost on second day Shot at a grisly His resolute charge and death 
Danger in hunting the grisly Exaggerated, but real Rogers charged Dif- 
ference in ferocity in different bears Dr. Merrill's queer experience 
Tazewell Woody's adventures Various ways in which bears attack Ex- 
amples Men maimed and slain Instances Mr. Whitney's experience A 
bear killed on the round-up Ferocity of old-time bears Occasional unpro- 
voked attacks A French trapper attacked Cowboys and bears Killing 
them with a revolver Feat of General Jackson .... 296-334 



Contents. xi 

CHAPTER XVI. 

THE COUGAR. 

Difficulty of killing the cougar My own failures Kill one in the mountains 
Hunting the cougar with hounds Experience of General Wade Hampton_ 
and Col. Cecil Clay " Hold on, Penny " What the cougar preys on Its 
haunts Its calls Rarely turns on man Occasionally dangerous In- 
stances 335-347 



CHAPTER XVII. 
A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES. 

A trip in southern Texas A ranch on the Frio Roping cattle Extermination 
of the peccary Odd habits Occasionally attacks unprovoked We drive 
south to the Nueces Flower prairies Semi-tropical landscape Hunting 
on horseback Half-blood hounds Find a small band of peccaries Kill 
two How they act when at bay Their occasional freaks . . 348-360 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
HUNTING WITH HOUNDS. 

Old-time hunters rarely used dogs The packs of the southern planters Cours- 
ing in the West Hunting with greyhounds near my ranch Jack-rabbits, 
foxes, coyotes, antelope, and deer An original sportsman of the prairies 
Colonel Williams' greyhounds Riding on the plains Cross-country riding 
Fox-hunting at Geneseo A day with Mr. Wadsworth's hounds The 
Meadowbrook drag hounds High jumping A meet at Sagamore Hill 
Fox-hunting and fetishism Prejudices of sportsmen, foreign and native 
Different styles of riding 361-385 

CHAPTER XIX. 
WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS. 

The wolf Contrasted with coyote Variations in color Former abundance 
The riddle of its extermination Inexplicable differences in habits between 
closely related species Size of wolf Animals upon which it preys At- 
tacking cattle ; horses ; other animals ; foxes, dogs, and even coyotes 
Runs down deer and antelope Coyotes catch jack-rabbits Wolves around 
camp A wolf shot Wolf-hunting with hounds An overmatch for most 
dogs Decinating a pack Coursing wolves with greyhounds A hunt in the 
foot-hills Rousing the wolves The chase The worry Death of both 
wolves Wolf hounds near Fort Benton Other packs The Sun River 
hounds Their notable feats Col. Williams' hounds .... 386-411 



xii Contents. 

CHAPTER XX. 
IN COWBOY LAND. 

Development of archaic types of character Cowboys and hunters Rough vir- 
tues and faults Incidents Hunting a horse-thief Tale of the ending of a 
desperado Light-hearted way of regarding " broke horses" Hardness of 
the life Deaths from many causes Fight of Indians with trappers The 
slaying of the Medicine Chief Sword-Bearer Mad feat and death of two 
Cheyenne braves 412-447 



CHAPTER XXI. 
HUNTING LORE. 

Game which ought not to be killed Killing black bear with a knife Sports 
with rod and shotgun Snow-shoeing and mountaineering American wri- 
ters on out-door life Burroughs Thoreau Audubon, Coues, etc. Ameri- 
can hunting books American writers on life in the wilderness ; Parkman, 
Irving Cooper on pioneer life American statesmen and soldiers devoted 
to the chase Lincoln, Jackson, Israel Putnam A letter from Webster on 
trout-fishing Clay Washington Hunting Extracts from Washington's 
diaries Washington as a fox-hunter 448-464 

APPENDIX 465-468 

INDEX .*... 469-472 



PREFACE. 

FOR a number of years much of my life was spent 
either in the wilderness or on the borders of the 
settled country if, indeed, " settled" is a term 
that can rightly be applied to the vast, scantily peopled 
regions where cattle-ranching is the only regular industry. 
During this time I hunted much, among the mountains 
and on the plains, both as a pastime and to procure 
hides, meat, and robes for use on the ranch ; and it was 
my good luck to kill all the various kinds of large game 
that can properly be considered to belong to temperate 
North America. 

In hunting, the finding and killing of the game is after 
all but a part of the whole. The free, self-reliant, adven- 
turous life, with its rugged and stalwart democracy ; the 
wild surroundings, the grand beauty of the scenery, the 
chance to study the ways and habits of the woodland 
creatures all these unite to give to the career of the wil- 
derness hunter its peculiar charm. The chase is among 
the best of all national pastimes ; it cultivates that vigor- 
ous manliness for the lack of which in a nation, as in an 
individual, the possession of no other qualities can possibly 
atone. 

xiii 



Preface. 

No one, but he who has partaken thereof, can under- 
stand the keen delight of hunting in lonely lands. For 
him is the joy of the horse well ridden and the rifle well 
held ; for him the long days of toil and hardship, resolutely 
endured, and crowned at the end with triumph. In after 
years there shall come forever to his mind the memory of 
endless prairies shimmering in the bright sun ; of vast 
snow-clad wastes lying desolate under gray skies ; of the 
melancholy marshes ; of the rush of mighty rivers ; of the 
breath of the evergreen forest in summer ; of the croon- 
ing of ice-armored pines at the touch of the winds of 
winter; of cataracts roaring between hoary mountain 
masses ; of all the innumerable sights and sounds of the 
wilderness ; of its immensity and mystery ; and of the 
silences that brood in its still depths. 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 

SAGAMORE HILL, 

June, 1893. 




ILLUSTRATIONS 



PACB 

THE DEATH OF THE GRIZZLY . . . Frontispiece 

Drawn by A. B. Frost 
BLACKTAIL BUCKS (From Photograph by A. S. Bennett) ... 28 

A SHOT AT A BLACKTAIL 32 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

A STARTLED FAMILY (From Photograph b y A. s. Bennett) ... 36 
A SHOT FROM THE VERANDAH 52 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

EAGLES ATTACKING A PRONG-BUCK 70 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

FIGHTING FIRE .86 

Drawn by A. B. Frost 

HEAD OF MOUNTAIN RAM <sbot November, i88 7 ) . . .108 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

A SUCCESSFUL SHOT (From Photograph by author) . . .122 

HEAD OF WHITE GOAT (shot August, i88 9 ) . . . .124 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

CAMP IN THE FOREST 140 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

THE DEATH OF THE CARIBOU BULL . . . .150 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

BULL ELK FIGHTING 160 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

THE YELLOWSTONE CANYON (From Photograph) . . .176 



XV 



xvi The Wilderness Hunter. 

THE THREE TETONS ..*.... 

Drawn by C. Harry Eaton 

HEAD OF ELK (Shot September, 1891) 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 
HEAD OF MOOSE (Shot September, 1889) .... 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

A BUFFALO STAMPEDE; SPLITTING THE HERD 

Drawn by Frederick Remington 

GRIZZLY KILLING A STEER 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

A COWBOY AND BEAR FIGHT 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 
HEAD OF COUGAR (Shot September, 1889) .... 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

PECCARIES AT BAY 

Drawn by Henry Sandham 

THE END OF THE COURSE 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 

WORRY OF THE WOLF 

Drawn by J. Carter Beard 



PACK 
. 192 

. 198 

. 214 

. 242 

. 2/4 

330 

338 

358 

366 
406 





THE WILDERNESS HUNTER. 



CHAPTER I. 



THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS; WILDERNESS HUNTERS AND 
WILDERNESS GAME. 



M 



ANIFOLD are the shapes taken by the American 
wilderness. In the east, from the Atlantic coast 
to the Mississippi valley, lies a land of mag- 
nificent hardwood forest. In endless variety and beauty, 
the trees cover the ground, save only where they have 
been cleared away by man, or where towards the west the 
expanse of the forest is broken by fertile prairies. To- 
wards the north, this region of hardwood trees merges 
insensibly into the southern extension of the great sub- 
arctic forest ; here the silver stems of birches gleam 
against the sombre background of coniferous evergreens. 
In the southeast again, by the hot, oozy coasts of the 
South Atlantic and the Gulf, the forest becomes semi- 
tropical ; palms wave their feathery fronds, and the tepid 
swamps teem with reptile life. 



* : *' : The Wilderness Hunter. 

Some distance beyond the Mississippi, stretching from 
Texas to North Dakota, and westward to the Rocky 
Mountains, lies the plains country. This is a region of 
light rainfall, where the ground is clad with short grass, 
while cottonwood trees fringe the courses of the winding 
plains streams ; streams that are alternately turbid tor- 
rents and mere dwindling threads of water. The great 
stretches of natural pasture are broken by gray sage-brush 
plains, and tracts of strangely shaped and colored Bad 
Lands ; sun-scorched wastes in summer, and in winter 
arctic in their iron desolation. Beyond the plains rise the 
Rocky Mountains, their flanks covered with coniferous 
woods ; but the trees are small, and do not ordinarily 
grow very closely together. Towards the north the 
forest becomes denser, and the peaks higher ; and glaciers 
creep down towards the valleys from the fields of ever- 
lasting snow. The brooks are brawling, trout-filled tor- 
rents ; the swift rivers foam over rapid and cataract, on 
their way to one or the other of the two great oceans. 

Southwest of the Rockies evil and terrible deserts 
stretch for leagues and leagues, mere waterless wastes of 
sandy plain and barren mountain, broken here and there 
by narrow strips of fertile ground. Rain rarely falls, and 
there are no clouds to dim the brazen sun. The rivers 
run in deep canyons, or are swallowed by the burning 
sand ; the smaller watercourses are dry throughout the 
greater part of the year. 

Beyond this desert region rise the sunny Sierras of 
California, with their flower-clad slopes and groves of 
giant trees ; and north of them, along the coast, the rain- 



The American Wilderness. 3 

shrouded mountain chains of Oregon and Washington, 
matted with the towering growth of the mighty evergreen 
forest. 

The white hunters, who from time to time first pene- 
trated the different parts of this wilderness, found them- 
selves in such hunting grounds as those wherein, long 
ages before, their Old-World forefathers had dwelt ; and 
the game they chased was much the same as that their 
lusty barbarian ancestors followed, with weapons of bronze 
and of iron, in the dim years before history dawned. 
As late as the end of the seventeenth century the tur- 
bulent village nobles of Lithuania and Livonia hunted the 
bear, the bison, the elk, the wolf, and the stag, and hung 
the spoils in their smoky wooden palaces ; and so, two 
hundred years later, the free hunters of Montana, in the 
interludes between hazardous mining quests and bloody 
Indian campaigns, hunted game almost or quite the same 
in kind, through the cold mountain forests surrounding 
the Yellowstone and Flathead lakes, and decked their 
log cabins and ranch houses with the hides and horns of 
the slaughtered beasts. 

Zoologically speaking, the north temperate zones of 
the Old and New Worlds are very similar, differing from 
one another much less than they do from the various 
regions south of them, or than these regions differ among 
themselves. The untrodden American wilderness resem- 
bles both in game and physical character the forests, the 
mountains, and the steppes of the Old World as it was 
at the beginning of our era. Great woods of pine and 
fir, birch and beech, oak and chestnut ; streams where the 



4 The Wilderness Hunter. 

chief game fish are spotted trout and silvery salmon ; 
grouse of various kinds as the most common game birds ; 
all these the hunter finds as characteristic of the New 
World as of the Old. So it is with most of the beasts of 
the chase, and so also with the fur-bearing animals that 
furnish to the trapper alike his life work and his means of 
livelihood. The bear, wolf, bison, moose, caribou, wapiti, 
deer, and bighorn, the lynx, fox, wolverine, sable, mink, 
ermine, beaver, badger, and otter of both worlds are 
either identical or more or less closely kin to one another. 
Sometimes of the two forms, that found in the Old World 
is the largest. Perhaps more often the reverse is true, 
the American beast being superior in size. This is 
markedly the case with the wapiti, which is merely a giant 
brother of the European stag, exactly as the fisher is 
merely a very large cousin of the European sable or 
marten. The extraordinary prong-buck, the only hollow- 
horned ruminant which sheds its horns annually, is a 
distant representative of the Old-World antelopes of the 
steppes ; the queer white antelope-goat has for its nearest 
kinsfolk certain Himalayan species. Of the animals com- 
monly known to our hunters and trappers, only a few, 
such as the cougar, peccary, raccoon, possum (and among 
birds the wild turkey), find their nearest representatives 
and type forms in tropical America. 

Of course this general resemblance does not mean 
identity. The differences in plant life and animal life, no 
less than in the physical features of the land, are suffi- 
ciently marked to give the American wilderness a charac- 
ter distinctly its own. Some of the most characteristic of 



The American Wilderness. 5 

the woodland animals, some of those which have most 
vividly impressed themselves on the imagination of the 
hunters and pioneer settlers, are the very ones which have 
no Old- World representatives. The wild turkey is in 
every way the king of American game birds. Among 
the small beasts the coon and the possum are those 
which have left the deepest traces in the humbler lore of 
the frontier; exactly as the cougar usually under the 
name of panther or mountain lion is a favorite figure in 
the wilder hunting tales. Nowhere else is there anything 
to match the wealth of the eastern hardwood forests, in 
number, variety, and beauty of trees ; nowhere else is 
it possible to find conifers approaching in size the giant 
redwoods and sequoias of the Pacific slope. Nature here 
is generally on a larger scale than in the Old- World home 
of our race. The lakes are like inland seas, the rivers 
like arms of the sea. Among stupendous mountain 
chains there are valleys and canyons of fathomless depth 
and incredible beauty and majesty. There are tropical 
swamps, and sad, frozen marshes ; deserts and Death Val- 
leys, weird and evil, and the strange wonderland of the 
Wyoming geyser region. The waterfalls are rivers rush- 
ing over precipices ; the prairies seem without limit, and 
the forest never ending. 

At the time when we first became a nation, nine tenths 
of the territory now included within the limits of the 
United States was wilderness. It was during the stirring 
and troubled years immediately preceding the outbreak 
of the Revolution that the most adventurous hunters, the 
vanguard of the hardy army of pioneer settlers, first 



6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

crossed the Alleghanies, and roamed far and wide through 
the lonely, danger-haunted forests which filled the No- 
man's-land lying between the Tennessee and the Ohio. 
They waged ferocious warfare with Shawnee and Wyan- 
dott and wrought huge havoc among the herds of game 
with which the forests teemed. While the first Conti- 
nental Congress was still sitting, Daniel Boone, the arche- 
type of the American hunter, was leading his bands of 
tall backwoods riflemen to settle in the beautiful country 
of Kentucky, where the red and the white warriors strove 
with such obstinate rage that both races alike grew to 
know it as " the dark and bloody ground." 

Boone and his fellow-hunters were the heralds of the 
oncoming civilization, the pioneers in that conquest of 
the wilderness which has at last been practically achieved 
in our own day. Where they pitched their camps and 
built their log huts or stockaded hamlets, towns grew up, 
and men who were tillers of the soil, not mere wilderness 
wanderers, thronged in to take and hold the land. Then, 
ill-at-ease among the settlements for which they had 
themselves made ready the way, and fretted even by the 
slight restraints of the rude and uncouth semi-civilization 
of the border, the restless hunters moved onward into 
the yet unbroken wilds where the game dwelt and the red 
tribes marched forever to war and hunting. Their un- 
tamable souls ever found something congenial and beyond 
measure attractive in the lawless freedom of the lives of 
the very savages against whom they warred so bitterly. 

Step by step, often leap by leap, the frontier of set- 
tlement was pushed westward ; and ever from before its 



The American Wilderness. 7 

advance fled the warrior tribes of the red men and the 
scarcely less intractable array of white Indian fighters 
and game hunters. When the Revolutionary war was at 
its height, George Rogers Clarke, himself a mighty hun- 
ter of the old backwoods type, led his handful of hunter- 
soldiers to the conquest of the French towns of the Illi- 
nois. This was but one of the many notable feats of 
arms performed by the wild soldiery of the backwoods. 
Clad in their fringed and tasselled hunting shirts of buck- 
skin or homespun, with coonskin caps and deer-hide leg- 
gings and moccasins, with tomahawk and scalping knife 
thrust into their bead-worked belts, and long rifles in 
hand, they fought battle after battle of the most bloody 
character, both against the Indians, as at the Great 
Kanawha, at the Fallen Timbers, and at Tippecanoe, and 
against more civilized foes, as at King's Mountain, New 
Orleans, and the River Thames. 

Soon after the beginning of the present century- 
Louisiana fell into our hands, and the most daring hun- 
ters and explorers pushed through the forests of the Mis- 
sissippi valley to the great plains, steered across these 
vast seas of grass to the Rocky Mountains, and then 
through their rugged defiles onwards to the Pacific Ocean. 
In every work of exploration, and in all the earlier battles 
with the original lords of the western and southwestern 
lands, whether Indian or Mexican, the adventurous hun- 
ters played the leading part ; while close behind came the 
swarm of hard, dogged, border-farmers, a masterful race, 
good fighters and good breeders, as all masterful races 
must be. 



8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Very characteristic in its way was the career of quaint, 
honest, fearless Davy Crockett, the Tennessee rifleman 
and Whig Congressman, perhaps the best shot in all our 
country, whose skill in the use of his favorite weapon 
passed into a proverb, and who ended his days by a 
hero's death in the ruins of the Alamo. An even more 
notable man was another mighty hunter, Houston, who 
when a boy ran away to the Indians ; who while still a 
lad returned to his own people to serve under Andrew 
Jackson in the campaigns which that greatest of all the 
backwoods leaders waged against the Creeks, the Span- 
iards, and the British. He was wounded at the storming 
of one of the strongholds of Red Eagle's doomed war- 
riors, and returned to his Tennessee home to rise to high 
civil honor, and become the foremost man of his State. 
Then, while Governor of Tennessee, in a sudden fit of 
moody anger, and of mad longing for the unfettered life 
of the wilderness, he abandoned his office, his people, and 
his race, and fled to the Cherokees beyond the Missis- 
sippi. For years he lived as one of their chiefs ; until 
one day, as he lay in ignoble ease and sloth, a rider from 
the south, from the rolling plains of the San Antonio and 
Brazos, brought word that the Texans were up, and in 
doubtful struggle striving to wrest their freedom from the 
lancers and carbineers of Santa Anna. Then his dark 
soul flamed again into burning life ; riding by night and 
day he joined the risen Texans, was hailed by them as a 
heaven-sent leader, and at the San Jacinto led them on 
to the overthrow of the Mexican host. Thus the stark 
hunter, who had been alternately Indian fighter and In- 



The American Wilderness. 9 

dian chief, became the President of the new Republic, 
and, after its admission into the United States, a Senator 
at Washington ; and, to his high honor, he remained to the 
end of his days staunchly loyal to the flag of the Union. 

By the time that Crockett fell, and Houston became 
the darling leader of the Texans, the typical hunter and 
Indian fighter had ceased to be a backwoodsman ; he 
had become a plains-man, or mountain-man ; for the 
frontier, east of which he never willingly went, had been 
pushed beyond the Mississippi. Restless, reckless, and 
hardy, he spent years of his life in lonely wanderings 
through the Rockies as a trapper ; he guarded the slow- 
moving caravans, which for purposes of trade journeyed 
over the dangerous Santa Fe trail ; he guided the large 
parties of frontier settlers who, driving before them their 
cattle, with all their household goods in their white- 
topped wagons, spent perilous months and seasons on 
their weary way to Oregon or California. Joining in 
bands, the stalwart, skin-clad riflemen waged ferocious 
war on the Indians scarcely more savage than themselves, 
or made long raids for plunder and horses against the 
outlying Mexican settlements. The best, the bravest, 
the most modest of them all was the renowned Kit Car- 
son. He was not only a mighty hunter, a daring fighter, 
a finder of trails, and maker of roads through the un- 
known, untrodden wilderness, but also a real leader of 
men. Again and again he crossed and re-crossed the 
continent, from the Mississippi to the Pacific ; he guided 
many of the earliest military and exploring expeditions of 
the United States Government ; he himself led the troops 



io The Wilderness Hunter. 

in victorious campaigns against Apache and Navahoe ; 
and in the Civil War he was made a colonel of the Fed- 
eral army. 

After him came many other hunters. Most were 
pure-blooded Americans, but many were Creole French- 
men, Mexicans, or even members of the so-called civilized 
Indian tribes, notably the Delawares. Wide were their 
wanderings, many their strange adventures in the chase, 
bitter their unending warfare with the red lords of the land. 
Hither and thither they roamed, from the desolate, burn- 
ing deserts of the Colorado to the grassy plains of the 
Upper Missouri ; from the rolling Texas prairies, bright 
beneath their sunny skies, to the high snow peaks of the 
northern Rockies, or the giant pine forests, and soft 
rainy weather, of the coasts of Puget Sound. Their main 
business was trapping, furs being the only articles yielded 
by the wilderness, as they knew it, which were both valu- 
able and portable. These early hunters were all trappers 
likewise, and, indeed, used their rifles only to procure 
meat or repel attacks. The chief of the fur-bearing ani- 
mals they followed was the beaver, which abounded in 
the streams of the plains and mountains ; in the far north 
they also trapped otter, mink, sable, and fisher. They 
married squaws from among the Indian tribes with which 
they happened for the moment to be at peace ; they 
acted as scouts for the United States troops in their 
campaigns against the tribes with which they happened 
to be at war. 

Soon after the Civil War the life of these hunters, 
taken as a class, entered on its final stage. The Pacific 



The American Wilderness. n 

coast was already fairly well settled, and there were a few 
mining camps in the Rockies ; but most of this Rocky 
Mountains region, and the entire stretch of plains country 
proper, the vast belt of level or rolling grass land lying 
between the Rio Grande and the Saskatchewan, still re- 
mained primeval wilderness, inhabited only by roving 
hunters and formidable tribes of Indian nomads, and by 
the huge herds of game on which they preyed. Beaver 
swarmed in the streams and yielded a rich harvest to the 
trapper ; but trapping was no longer the mainstay of the 
adventurous plainsmen. Foremost among the beasts of 
the chase, on account of its numbers, its size, and its 
economic importance, was the bison or American buffalo . 
its innumerable multitudes darkened the limitless prairies. 
As the transcontinental railroads were pushed towards 
completion, and the tide of settlement rolled onwards with 
ever increasing rapidity, buffalo robes became of great 
value. The hunters forthwith turned their attention 
mainly to the chase of the great clumsy beasts, slaughter- 
ing them by hundreds of thousands for their hides ; some- 
times killing them on horseback, but more often on foot, 
by still-hunting, with the heavy long-range Sharp's rifle. 
Throughout the fifteen years during which this slaughter 
lasted, a succession of desperate wars was waged with 
the banded tribes of the Horse Indians. All the time, 
in unending succession, long trains of big white-topped 
wagons crept slowly westward across the prairies, marking 
the steady oncoming of the frontier settlers. 

By the close of 1883 the last buffalo herd was de- 
stroyed. The beaver were trapped out of all the streams, 



12 The Wilderness Hunter. 

or their numbers so thinned that it no longer paid to fol- 
low them. The last formidable Indian war had been 
brought to a successful close. The flood of the incoming 
whites had risen over the land ; tongues of settlement 
reached from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and 
from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. The frontier 
had come to an end ; it had vanished. With it vanished 
also the old race of wilderness hunters, the men who spent 
all their days in the lonely wilds, and who killed game as 
their sole means of livelihood. Great stretches of wilder- 
ness still remain in the Rocky Mountains, and here and 
there in the plains country, exactly as much smaller tracts 
of wild land are to be found in the Alleghanies and 
northern New York and New England ; and on these 
tracts occasional hunters and trappers still linger ; but as 
a distinctive class, with a peculiar and important position 
in American life, they no longer exist. 

There were other men beside the professional hunters, 
who lived on the borders of the wilderness, and followed 
hunting, not only as a pastime, but also as yielding an 
important portion of their subsistence. The frontier 
farmers were all hunters. In the eastern backwoods, and 
in certain places in the west, as in Oregon, these adven- 
turous tillers of the soil were the pioneers among the 
actual settlers ; in the Rockies their places were taken by 
the miners, and on the great plains by the ranchmen and 
cowboys, the men who lived in the saddle, guarding their 
branded herds of horses and horned stock. Almost all 
of the miners and cowboys were obliged on occasions to 
turn hunters. 



The American Wilderness. 13 

Moreover, the regular army which played so important 
a part in all the later stages of the winning of the west 
produced its full share of mighty hunters. The later In^ 
dian wars were fought principally by the regulars. The 
West Point officer and his little company of trained sol- 
diers appeared abreast of the first hardy cattlemen and 
miners. The ordinary settlers rarely made their appear- 
ance until in campaign after campaign, always inconceiv- 
ably wearing and harassing, and often very bloody in 
character, the scarred and tattered troops had broken and 
overthrown the most formidable among the Indian tribes. 
Faithful, uncomplaining, unflinching, the soldiers wearing 
the national uniform lived for many weary years at their 
lonely little posts, facing unending toil and danger with 
quiet endurance, surrounded by the desolation of vast sol- 
itudes, and menaced by the most merciless of foes. Hunt- 
ing was followed not only as a sport, but also as the only 
means of keeping the posts and the expeditionary trains 
in meat. Many of the officers became equally proficient 
as marksmen and hunters. The three most famous In- 
dian fighters since the Civil War, Generals Custer, Miles, 
and Crook, were all keen and successful followers of the 
chase. 

Of American big game the bison, almost always known 
as the buffalo, was the largest and most important to man. 
When the first white settlers landed in Virginia the bison 
ranged east of the Alleghanies almost to the sea-coast, 
westward to the dry deserts lying beyond the Rocky 
Mountains, northward to the Great Slave Lake and south- 
ward to Chihuahua. It was a beast of the forests and 



14 The Wilderness Hunter. 

mountains, in the Alleghanies no less than in the Rockies; 
but its true home was on the prairies, and the high plains. 
Across these it roamed, hither and thither, in herds of 
enormous, of incredible magnitude ; herds so large that 
they covered the waving grass land for hundreds of square 
leagues, and when on the march occupied days and days 
in passing a given point. But the seething myriads of 
shaggy-maned wild cattle vanished with remarkable and 
melancholy rapidity before the inroads of the white hun- 
ters, and the steady march of the oncoming settlers. 
Now they are on the point of extinction. Two or three 
hundred are left in that great national game preserve, the 
Yellowstone Park ; and it is said that others still remain 
in the wintry desolation of Athabasca. Elsewhere only 
a few individuals exist probably considerably less than 
half a hundred all told scattered in small parties in the 
wildest and most remote and inaccessible portions of the 
Rocky Mountains. A bison bull is the largest American 
animal. His huge bulk, his short, curved black horns, 
the shaggy mane clothing his great neck and shoulders, 
give him a look of ferocity which his conduct belies. Yet 
he is truly a grand and noble beast, and his loss from our 
prairies and forest is as keenly regretted by the lover of 
nature and of wild life as by the hunter. 

Next to the bison in size, and much superior in height 
to it and to all other American game for it is taller than 
the tallest horse comes the moose, or broad-horned elk. 
It is a strange, uncouth-looking beast, with very long legs, 
short thick neck, a big, ungainly head, a swollen nose, and 
huge shovel horns. Its home is in the cold, wet pine and 



The American Wilderness. 15 

spruce forests, which stretch from the sub-arctic region of 
Canada southward in certain places across our frontier. 
Two centuries ago it was found as far south as Massachu- 
setts. It has now been exterminated from its former 
haunts in northern New York and Vermont, and is on 
the point of vanishing from northern Michigan. It is still 
found in northern Maine and northeastern Minnesota 
and in portions of northern Idaho and Washington ; while 
along the Rockies it extends its range southward through 
western Montana to northwestern Wyoming, south of the 
Tetons. In 1884 I saw the fresh hide of one that was 
killed in the Bighorn Mountains. 

The wapiti, or round-horned elk, like the bison, and 
unlike the moose, had its centre of abundance in the 
United States, though extending northward into Canada. 
Originally its range reached from ocean to ocean and it 
went in herds of thousands of individuals ; but it has suf- 
fered more from the persecution of hunters than any other 
game except the bison. By the beginning of this century it 
had been exterminated in most localities east of the Mis- 
sissippi ; but a few lingered on for many years in the 
Alleghanies. Col. Cecil Clay informs me that an Indian 
whom he knew killed one in Pennsylvania in 1869. A 
very few still exist here and there in northern Michigan 
and Minnesota, and in one or two spots on the western 
boundary of Nebraska and the Dakotas ; but it is now 
properly a beast of the wooded western mountains. It is 
still plentiful in western Colorado, Wyoming, and Mon- 
tana, and in parts of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. 
Though not as large as the moose it is the most beautiful 



1 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and stately of all animals of the deer kind, and its antlers 
are marvels of symmetrical grandeur. 

The woodland caribou is inferior to the wapiti both in 
size and symmetry. The tips of the many branches of 
its long, irregular antlers are slightly palmated. Its range 
is the same as that of the moose, save that it does not go 
so far southward. Its hoofs are long and round ; even 
larger than the long, oval hoofs of the moose, and much 
larger than those of the wapiti. The tracks of all three 
can be told apart at a glance, and cannot be mistaken for the 
footprints of other game. Wapiti tracks, however, look 
much like those of yearling and two-year-old cattle, unless 
the ground is steep or muddy, in which case the marks of 
the false hoofs appear, the joints of wapiti being more 
flexible than those of domestic stock. 

The whitetail deer is now, as it always has been, the 
best known and most abundant of American big game, 
and though its numbers have been greatly thinned it is 
still found in almost every State of the Union. The com- 
mon blacktail or mule deer, which has likewise been sadly 
thinned in numbers, though once extraordinarily abun- 
dant, extends from the great plains to the Pacific ; but is 
supplanted on the Puget Sound coast by the Columbian 
blacktail. The delicate, heart-shaped footprints of all 
three are nearly indistinguishable ; when the animal is 
running the hoof points are of course separated. The 
track of the antelope is more oval, growing squarer with 
age. Mountain sheep leave footmarks of a squarer shape, 
the points of the hoof making little indentations in the 
soil, well apart, even when the animal is only walking ; and 



The American Wilderness. 17 

a yearling's track is not unlike that made by a big prong* 
buck when striding rapidly with the toes well apart. 
White-goat tracks are also square, and as large as those 
of the sheep ; but there is less indentation of the hoof 
points, which come nearer together. 

The antelope, or prong-buck, was once found in 
abundance from the eastern edge of the great plains to 
the Pacific, but it has everywhere diminished in numbers, 
and has been exterminated along the eastern and western 
borders of its former range. The bighorn, or mountain 
sheep, is found in the Rocky Mountains from northern 
Mexico to Alaska ; and in the United States from the 
Coast and Cascade ranges to the Bad Lands of the 
western edges of the Dakotas, wherever there are moun- 
tain chains or tracts of rugged hills. It was never very 
abundant, and, though it has become less so, it has held 
its own better than most game. The white goat, how- 
ever, alone among our game animals, has positively in- 
creased in numbers since the advent of settlers ; because 
white hunters rarely follow it, and the Indians who once 
sought its skin for robes now use blankets instead. Its 
true home is in Alaska and Canada, but it crosses our 
borders along the lines of the Rockies and Cascades, and 
a few small isolated colonies are found here and there 
southward to California and New Mexico. 

The cougar and wolf, once common throughout the 
United States, have now completely disappeared from all 
save the wildest regions. The black bear holds its own 
better ; it was never found on the great plains. The 
huge grisly ranges from the great plains to the Pacific. 



1 8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

The little peccary or Mexican wild hog merely crosses our 
southern border. 

The finest hunting ground in America was, and indeed 
is, the mountainous region of western Montana and 
northwestern Wyoming. In this high, cold land, of lofty 
mountains, deep forests, and open prairies, with its beauti- 
ful lakes and rapid rivers, all the species of big game 
mentioned above, except the peccary and Columbian 
blacktail, are to be found. Until 1880 they were very 
abundant, and they are still, with the exception of the 
bison, fairly plentiful. On most of the long hunting ex- 
peditions which I made away from my ranch, I went 
into this region. 

The bulk of my hunting has been done in the cattle 
country, near my ranch on the Little Missouri, and in 
the adjoining lands round the lower Powder and Yel- 
lowstone. Until 1 88 1 the valley of the Little Missouri 
was fairly thronged with game, and was absolutely un- 
changed in any respect from its original condition of 
primeval wildness. With the incoming of the stockmen 
all this changed, and the game was wofully slaughtered ; 
but plenty of deer and antelope, a few sheep and bear, 
and an occasional elk are still left. 

Since the professional hunters have vanished, with the 
vast herds of game on which they preyed, the life of the 
ranchman is that which yields most chance of hunting. 
Life on a cattle ranch, on the great plains or among the 
foothills of the high mountains, has a peculiar attraction 
for those hardy, adventurous spirits who take most kindly 
to a vigorous out-of-doors existence, and who are there- 



The American Wilderness. 19 

fore most apt to care passionately for the chase of big 
game. The free ranchman lives in a wild, lonely country, 
and exactly as he breaks and tames his own horses, and 
guards and tends his own branded herds, so he takes the 
keenest enjoyment in the chase, which is to him not 
merely the pleasantest of sports but also a means of add- 
ing materially to his comforts, and often his only method 
of providing himself with fresh meat. 

Hunting in the wilderness is of all pastimes the most 
attractive, and it is doubly so when not carried on merely 
as a pastime. Shooting over a private game preserve is 
of course in no way to be compared to it. The wilder- 
ness hunter must not only show skill in the use of the rifle 
and address in finding and approaching game, but he 
must also show the qualities of hardihood, self-reliance, 
and resolution needed for effectively grappling with his 
wild surroundings. The fact that the hunter needs the 
game, both for its meat and for its hide, undoubtedly 
adds a zest to the pursuit. Among the hunts which I 
have most enjoyed were those made when I was engaged 
in getting in the winter's stock of meat for the ranch, or 
was keeping some party of cowboys supplied with game 
from day to day. 





CHAPTER II. 

HUNTING FROM THE RANCH ; THE BLACKTAIL DEER. 

NO life can be pleasanter than life during the months 
of fall on a ranch in the northern cattle country. 
The weather is cool ; in the evenings and on the 
rare rainy days we are glad to sit by the great fireplace, 
with its roaring cottonwood logs. But on most days not 
a cloud dims the serene splendor of the sky ; and the 
fresh pure air is clear with the wonderful clearness of 
the high plains. We are in the saddle from morning 
to night. 

The long, low, roomy ranch house, of clean hewed 
logs, is as comfortable as it is bare and plain. We fare 
simply but well ; for the wife of my foreman makes excel- 
lent bread and cake, and there are plenty of potatoes, 
grown in the forlorn little garden-patch on the bottom. 
We also have jellies and jams, made from wild plums and 
buffalo berries ; and all the milk we can drink. For meat 
we depend on our rifles ; and, with an occasional interlude 
of ducks or prairie chickens, the mainstay of each meal 
is venison, roasted, broiled, or fried. 

Sometimes we shoot the deer when we happen on 



Hunting from the Ranch. 21 

them while about our ordinary business, indeed through- 
out the time that I have lived on the ranch, very many 
of the deer and antelope I killed were thus obtained. -Of 
course while doing the actual round-up work it is impos- 
sible to attend to anything else ; but we generally carry 
rifles while riding after the saddle band in the early morn- 
ing, while visiting the line camps, or while in the saddle 
among the cattle on the range ; and get many a shot in 
this fashion. 

In the fall of 1890 some friends came to my ranch; 
and one day we took them to see a round-up. The OX, 
a Texan steer-outfit, had sent a couple of wagons to work 
down the river, after beef cattle, and one of my men had 
gone along to gather any of my own scattered steers that 
were ready for shipping, and to brand the late calves. 
There were perhaps a dozen riders with the wagons ; and 
they were camped for the day on a big bottom where 
Blacktail and Whitetail creeks open into the river, several 
miles below my ranch. 

At dawn one of the men rode off to bring in the sad- 
dle band. The rest of us were up by sunrise ; and as we 
stood on the verandah under the shimmering cottonwood 
trees, revelling in the blue of the cloudless sky, and drink- 
ing in the cool air before going to breakfast, we saw the 
motley-colored string of ponies file down from the oppo- 
site bank of the river, and splash across the broad, shallow 
ford in front of the ranch house. Cantering and trotting 
the band swept towards the high, round horse-corral, in 
the open glade to the rear of the house. Guided by the 
jutting wing which stuck out at right angles, they entered 



22 The Wilderness Hunter. 

the open gate, which was promptly closed by the. cowboy 
who had driven them in. 

After breakfast we strolled over to the corral, with our 
lariats, and, standing by the snubbing-post in the middle, 
roped the horses we wished for the party some that 
were gentle, and others that were not. Then every man 
saddled his horse ; and at the moment of mounting for 
the start there was, as always, a thrill of mild excitement, 
each rider hoping that his own horse would not buck, 
and that his neighbor's would. I had no young horses 
on the ranch at the time ; but a number of the older 
ones still possessed some of the least amiable traits of 
their youth. 

Once in the saddle we rode off down river, along the 
bottoms, crossing the stream again and again. We went 
in Indian file, as is necessary among the trees and in 
broken ground, following the cattle-trails which them- 
selves had replaced or broadened the game paths that 
alone crossed the plateaus and bottoms when my ranch 
house was first built. Now we crossed open reaches of 
coarse grass, thinly sprinkled with large, brittle cotton- 
wood trees, their branches torn and splintered ; now we 
wound our way through a dense jungle where the gray, 
thorny buffalo bushes, spangled with brilliant red berry 
clusters, choked the spaces between the thick-growing box- 
alders ; and again the sure-footed ponies scrambled down 
one cut bank and up another, through seemingly im- 
possible rifts, or with gingerly footsteps trod a path which 
cut the side of a butte or overhung a bluff. Sometimes 
we racked, or shacked along at the fox trot which is the 



Hunting from the Ranch. 23 

cow-pony's ordinary gait ; and sometimes we loped or 
galloped and ran. 

At last we came to the ford beyond which the riders 
of the round-up had made their camp. In the bygone 
days of the elk and buffalo, when our branded cattle were 
first driven thus far north, this ford had been dangerous 
from quicksand ; but the cattle, ever crossing and re-cros- 
sing, had trodden down and settled the sand, and had 
found out the firm places ; so that it was now easy to get 
over. 

Close beyond the trees on the farther bank stood the 
two round-up wagons ; near by was the cook's fire, in a 
trench, so that it might not spread ; the bedding of the 
riders and horse-wranglers lay scattered about, each roll 
of blankets wrapped and corded in a stout canvas sheet. 
The cook was busy about the fire ; the night-wrangler 
was snatching an hour or two's sleep under one of the 
wagons. Half a mile away, on the plain of sage brush 
and long grass, the day-wrangler was guarding the grazing 
or resting horse herd, of over a hundred head. Still far- 
ther distant, at the mouth of a ravine, was the day-herd of 
cattle, two or three cowboys watching it as they lolled 
drowsily in their saddles. The other riders were off on 
circles to bring in cattle to the round-up ; they were ex- 
pected every moment. 

With the ready hospitality always shown in a cow-camp 
we were pressed to alight and take dinner, or at least a 
lunch ; and accordingly we jumped off our horses and sat 
down. Our tin plates were soon heaped with fresh beef, 
bread, tomatoes, rice, and potatoes, all very good ; for 



24 The Wilderness Hunter. 

the tall, bearded, scrawny cook knew his work, and the 
OX outfit always fed its men well, and saw that they 
worked well too. 

Before noon the circle riders began to appear on the 
plain, coming out of the ravines, and scrambling down the 
steep hills, singly or in twos and threes. They herded 
before them bunches of cattle, of varying size ; these were 
driven together and left in charge of a couple of cow- 
punchers. The other men rode to the wagon to get a 
hasty dinner lithe, sinewy fellows, with weather-rough- 
ened faces and fearless eyes ; their broad felt hats flapped 
as they galloped, and their spurs and bridle chains jingled. 
They rode well, with long stirrups, sitting straight in the 
deep stock saddles, and their wiry ponies showed no signs 
of fatigue from the long morning's ride. 

The horse-wrangler soon drove the saddle band to the 
wagons, where it was caught in a quickly improvised rope- 
corral. The men roped fresh horses, fitted for the cutting- 
work round the herd, with its attendant furious galloping 
and flash-like turning and twisting. In a few minutes all 
were in the saddle again and riding towards the cattle. 

Then began that scene of excitement and turmoil, and 
seeming confusion, but real method and orderliness, so 
familiar to all who have engaged in stock-growing on the 
great plains. The riders gathered in a wide ring round 
the herd of uneasy cattle, and a couple of men rode into 
their midst to cut out the beef steers and the cows that 
were followed by unbranded calves. As soon as the ani- 
mal was picked out the cowboy began to drive it slowly 
towards the outside of the herd, and when it was near the 



Hunting from the Ranch, . 25 

edge he suddenly raced it into the open. The beast 
would then start at full speed and try to double back 
among its fellows ; while the trained cow-pony followed 
like a shadow, heading it off at every turn. The riders 
round that part of the herd opened out and the chosen 
animal was speedily hurried off to some spot a few hundred 
yards distant, where it was left under charge of another 
cowboy. The latter at first had his hands full in prevent- 
ing his charge from rejoining the herd ; for cattle dread 
nothing so much as being separated from their comrades. 
However, as soon as two or three others were driven out, 
enough to form a little bunch, it became a much easier 
matter to hold the " cut" as it is called. The cows and 
calves were put in one place, the beeves in another ; the 
latter were afterwards run into the day-herd. 

Meanwhile from time to time some clean-limbed young 
steer or heifer, able to run like an antelope and double 
like a jack-rabbit, tried to break out of the herd that was 
being worked, when the nearest cowboy hurried in pur- 
suit at top speed and brought it back, after a headlong, 
break-neck race, in which no heed was paid to brush, fal- 
len timber, prairie-dog holes, or cut banks. The dust rose 
in little whirling clouds, and through it dashed bolting 
cattle and galloping cowboys, hither and thither, while 
the air was filled with the shouts and laughter of the men, 
and the bellowing of the herd. 

As soon as the herd was worked it was turned loose, 
while the cows and calves were driven over to a large cor- 
ral, where the branding was done. A fire was speedily 
kindled, and in it were laid the branding irons of the dif- 



26 The Wilderness Hunter. 

ferent outfits represented on the round-up. Then two of 
the best ropers rode into the corral and began to rope the 
calves, round the hind legs by preference, but sometimes 
round the head. The other men dismounted to ''wrestle" 
and brand them. Once roped, the calf, bawling and 
struggling, was swiftly dragged near the fire, where one 
or two of the calf-wrestlers grappled with and threw the 
kicking, plunging little beast, and held it while it was 
branded. If the calf was large the wrestlers had hard 
work ; and one or two young maverick bulls that is, un- 
branded yearling bulls, which had been passed by in the 
round-ups of the preceding year fought viciously, bel- 
lowing and charging, and driving some of the men up 
the sides of the corral, to the boisterous delight of the 
others. 

After watching the work for a little while we left and 
rode homewards. Instead of going along the river bot- 
toms we struck back over the buttes. From time to time 
we came out on some sharp bluff overlooking the river. 
From these points of vantage we could see for several 
mues up and down the valley of the Little Missouri. 
The level bottoms were walled in by rows of sheer cliffs, 
and steep, grassy slopes. These bluff lines were from a 
quarter of a mile to a mile apart ; they did not run 
straight, but in a succession of curves, so as to look like 
the halves of many amphitheatres. Between them the 
river swept in great bends from side to side ; the wide 
bed, brimful during the time of freshets, now held but a 
thin stream of water. Some of the bottoms were covered 
only with grass and sage brush ; others with a dense jun- 



Hunting from the Ranch. 27 

gle of trees ; while yet others looked like parks, the cot- 
tonwoods growing in curved lines or in clumps scattered 
here and there. 

On our way we came across a bunch of cattle, among 
which the sharp eyes of my foreman detected a maverick 
two-year-old heifer. He and one of the cowboys at once 
got down their ropes and rode after her ; the rest of us 
first rounding up the bunch so as to give a fair start. 
After a sharp run one of the men, swinging his lariat 
round his head, got close up ; in a second or two the 
noose settled round the heifer's neck, and as it became 
taut she was brought to with a jerk ; immediately after- 
wards the other man made his throw and cleverly heeled 
her. In a trice the red heifer was stretched helpless on 
the ground, the two fierce little ponies, a pinto and a 
buckskin, keeping her down on their own account, tossing 
their heads and backing so that the ropes which led from 
the saddle-horns to her head and hind feet never slack- 
ened. Then we kindled a fire ; one of the cinch rings 
was taken off to serve as a branding iron, and the heifer 
speedily became our property for she was on our range. 

When we reached the ranch it was still early, and 
after finishing dinner it lacked over an hour of sundown. 
Accordingly we went for another ride ; and I carried my 
rifle. We started up a winding coulie which opened 
back of the ranch house ; and after half an hour's canter 
clambered up the steep head-ravines, and emerged on a 
high ridge which went westward, straight as an arrow, to 
the main divide between the Little Missouri and the Big 
Beaver. Along this narrow, grassy crest we loped and 



28 The Wilderness Hunter. 

galloped ; we were so high that we could look far and 
wide over all the country round about. To the south- 
ward, across a dozen leagues of rolling and broken 
prairie, loomed Sentinel Butte, the chief landmark of all 
that region. Behind us, beyond the river, rose the weird 
chaos of Bad Lands which at this point lie for many miles 
east of the Little Missouri. Their fantastic outlines 
were marked against the sky as sharply as if cut with a 
knife ; their grim and forbidding desolation warmed into 
wonderful beauty by the light of the dying sun. On our 
right, as we loped onwards, the land sunk away in smooth 
green-clad slopes and valleys ; on our left it fell in sheer 
walls. Ahead of us the sun was sinking behind a mass 
of blood-red clouds ; and on either hand the flushed skies 
were changing their tint to a hundred hues of opal and 
amethyst. Our tireless little horses sprang under us, 
thrilling with life ; we were riding through a fairy world 
of beauty and color and limitless space and freedom. 

Suddenly a short hundred yards in front three black- 
tail leaped out of a little glen and crossed our path, with 
the peculiar bounding gait of their kind. At once I 
sprang from my horse and, kneeling, fired at the last and 
largest of the three. My bullet sped too far back, but 
struck near the hip, and the crippled deer went slowly 
down a ravine. Running over a hillock to cut it off, I 
found it in some brush a few hundred yards beyond and 
finished it with a second ball. Quickly dressing it, I 
packed it on my horse, and trotted back leading him ; an 
hour afterwards we saw through the waning light the 
quaint, home-like outlines of the ranch house. 



Hunting from the Ranch. 29 

After all, however, blacktail can only at times be 
picked up by chance in this way. More often it is need- 
ful to kill them by fair still-hunting, among the hills or 
wooded mountains where they delight to dwell. If hun- 
ted they speedily become wary. By choice they live in 
such broken country that it is difficult to pursue them 
with hounds ; and they are by no means such water-lov- 
ing animals as whitetail. On the other hand, the land in 
which they dwell is very favorable to the still-hunter who 
does not rely merely on stealth, but who can walk and 
shoot well. They do not go on the open prairie, and, if 
possible, they avoid deep forests, while, being good 
climbers, they like hills. In the mountains, therefore, 
they keep to what is called park country, where glades 
alternate with open groves. On the great plains they 
avoid both the heavily timbered river bottoms and the 
vast treeless stretches of level or rolling grass land ; their 
chosen abode being the broken and hilly region, scantily 
wooded, which skirts almost every plains river and forms 
a belt, sometimes very narrow, sometimes many miles in 
breadth, between the alluvial bottom land and the prai- 
ries beyond. In these Bad Lands dwarfed pines and cedars 
grow in the canyon-like ravines and among the high steep 
hills; there are also basins and winding coulies, filled with 
brush and shrubbery and small elm or ash. In all such 
places the blacktail loves to make its home, 

I have not often hunted blacktail in the mountains, 
because while there I was generally after larger game ; 
but round my ranch I have killed more of them than of 
any other game, and for me their chase has always 



30 The Wilderness Hunter. 

sessed a peculiar charm. We hunt them in the loveliest 
season of the year, the fall and early winter, when it is 
keen pleasure merely to live out-of-doors. Sometimes 
we make a regular trip, of several days' duration, taking 
the ranch wagon, with or without a tent, to some rugged 
and little disturbed spot where the deer are plenty ; per- 
haps returning with eight or ten carcasses, or even more 
enough to last a long while in cold weather. We often 
make such trips while laying in our winter supply of meat. 

At other times we hunt directly from the ranch house. 
We catch our horses overnight, and are in the saddle for 
an all-day's hunt long before the first streak of dawn, 
possibly not returning until some hours after nightfall. 
The early morning and late evening are the best time for 
hunting game, except in regions where it is hardly ever 
molested, and where in consequence it moves about more 
or less throughout the day. 

During the rut, which begins in September, the deer 
are in constant motion, and are often found in bands. 
The necks of the bucks swell and their sides grow gaunt ; 
they chase the does all night, and their flesh becomes 
strong and stringy far inferior to that of the barren does 
and yearlings. The old bucks then wage desperate con- 
flicts with one another, and bully their smaller brethren 
unmercifully. Unlike the elk, the blacktail, like the 
whitetail, are generally silent in the rutting season. They 
occasionally grunt when fighting ; and once, on a fall 
evening, I heard two young bucks barking in a ravine 
back of my ranch house, and crept up and shot them 
but this was a wholly exceptional instance. 



Hunting from the Ranch. 3 1 

At this time I hunt on foot, only using the horse to 
carry me to and from the hunting ground ; for while 
rutting, the deer, being restless, do not try to escape 
observation by lying still, and on the other hand are apt 
to wander about and so are easily seen from a distance. 
When I have reached a favorable place I picket my horse 
and go from vantage point to vantage point, carefully 
scanning the hillsides, ravines, and brush coulies from 
every spot that affords a wide outlook. The quarry once 
seen it may be a matter of hours, or only of minutes, to 
approach it, accordingly as the wind and cover are or are 
not favorable. The walks for many miles over the hills, 
the exercise of constant watchfulness, the excitement of 
the actual stalk, and the still greater excitement of the 
shot, combine to make still-hunting the blacktail, in the 
sharp fall weather, one of the most attractive of hardy out- 
door sports. Then after the long, stumbling walk home- 
wards, through the cool gloom of the late evening, comes 
the meal of smoking venison and milk and bread, and the 
sleepy rest, lying on the bear-skins, or sitting in the rock- 
ing chair before the roaring fire, while the icy wind moans 
outside. 

Earlier in the season, while the does are still nursing 
the fawns, and until the bucks have cleaned the last ves- 
tiges of velvet from their antlers, the deer lie very close, 
and wander round as little as may be. In the spring and 
early summer, in the ranch country, we hunt big game 
very little, and then only antelope ; because in hunting 
antelope there is no danger of killing aught but bucks. 
About the first of August we begin to hunt blacktail, 



3 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

but do not kill does until a month later and then only 
when short of meat. In the early weeks of the deer sea- 
son we frequently do even the actual hunting on horse- 
back instead of on foot ; because the deer at this time 
rarely appear in view, so as to afford chance for a stalk, 
and yet are reluctant to break cover until very closely 
approached. In consequence we keep on our horses, and 
so get over much more ground than on foot, beating 
through or beside all likely-looking cover, with the object 
of jumping the deer close by. Under such circumstances 
bucks sometimes lie until almost trodden on. 

One afternoon in mid-August, when the ranch was 
entirely out of meat, I started with one of my cow-hands, 
Merrifield, to kill a deer. We were on a couple of stout, 
quiet ponies, accustomed to firing and to packing game. 
After riding a mile or two down the bottoms we left the 
river and struck off up a winding valley, which led back 
among the hills. In a short while we were in a blacktail 
country, and began to keep a sharp lookout for game, 
riding parallel to, but some little distance from, one 
another. The sun, beating down through the clear air, 
was very hot ; the brown slopes of short grass, and still 
more the white clay walls of the Bad Lands, threw the 
heat rays in our faces. We skirted closely all likely-look- 
ing spots, such as the heavy brush-patches in the bottoms 
of the winding valleys, and the groves of ash and elm in 
the basins and pockets flanking the high plateaus ; some- 
times we followed a cattle trail which ran down the mid- 
dle of a big washout, and again we rode along the brink 
of a deep cedar canyon. After a while we came to a 



Hunting from the Ranch. 33 

coulie with a small muddy pool at its mouth ; and round 
this pool there was much fresh deer sign. The coulie 
was but half a mile long, heading into and flanked by the 
spurs of some steep, bare hills. Its bottom, which was 
fifty yards or so across, was choked by a dense growth of 
brush, chiefly thorny bullberries, while the sides were 
formed by cut banks twelve or fifteen feet high. My 
companion rode up the middle, while I scrambled up one 
of the banks, and, dismounting, led my horse along its 
edge, that I might have a clear shot at whatever we 
roused. We went nearly to the head, and then the cow- 
boy reined up and shouted to me that he " guessed there 
were no deer in the coulie." Instantly there was a smash- 
ing in the young trees midway between us, and I caught 
a glimpse of a blacktail buck speeding round a shoulder 
of the cut bank ; and though I took a hurried shot I 
missed. However, another buck promptly jumped up 
from the same place ; evidently the two had lain secure 
in their day-beds, shielded by the dense cover, while the 
cowboy rode by them, and had only risen when he halted 
and began to call to me across them. This second buck, 
a fine fellow with big antlers not yet clear of velvet, 
luckily ran up the opposite bank and I got a fair shot at 
him as he galloped broadside to me along the open hill- 
side. When I fired he rolled over with a broken back. 
As we came up he bleated loudly, an unusual thing for a 
buck to do. 

Now these two bucks must have heard us coming, but 
reckoned on our passing them by without seeing them ; 
which we would have done had they not been startled 



34 The Wilderness Hunter. 

when the cowboy halted and spoke. Later in the season 
they would probably not have let us approach them, but 
would have run as soon as they knew of our presence. 
Of course, however, even later in the season, a man may 
by chance stumble across a deer close by. I remember 
one occasion when my ranch partner, Robert Munro Fer- 
guson, and I almost corralled an unlucky deer in a small 
washout. 

It was October, and our meat supply unexpectedly gave 
out ; on our ranch, as on most ranches, an occasional 
meat famine of three or four days intervenes between the 
periods of plenty. So Ferguson and I started together, 
to get venison ; and at the end of two days' hard work, 
leaving the ranch by sunrise, riding to the hunting grounds 
and tramping steadily until dark, we succeeded. The 
weather was stormy and there were continual gusts of 
wind and of cold rain, sleet, or snow. We hunted through 
a large tract of rough and broken country, six or eight 
miles from the ranch. As often happens in such wild 
weather the deer were wild too ; they were watchful and 
were on the move all the time. We saw a number, but 
either they ran off before we could get a shot, or if we did 
fire it was at such a distance or under such unfavorable 
circumstances that we missed. At last, as we were plod- 
ding drearily up a bare valley, the sodden mud caking 
round our shoes, we roused three deer from the mouth of 
a short washout but a few paces from us. Two bounded 
off ; the third by mistake rushed into the washout, where 
he found himself in a regular trap and was promptly shot 
by my companion. We slung the carcass on a pole and 



Hunting from the Ranch. 35 

carried it down to where we had left the horses ; and then 
we loped homewards, bending to the cold slanting rain. 
Although in places where it is much persecuted the 
blacktail is a shy and wary beast, the successful pursuit of 
which taxes to the uttermost the skill and energy of the 
hunter, yet, like the elk, if little molested it often shows 
astonishing tameness and even stupidity. In the Rockies 
I have sometimes come on blacktail within a very short 
distance, which would merely stare at me, then trot off a 
few yards, turn and stare again, and wait for several min- 
utes before really taking alarm. What is much more 
extraordinary I have had the same thing happen to me in 
certain little hunted localities in the neighborhood of my 
ranch, even of recent years. In the fall of 1890 I was 
riding down a canyon-coulie with my foreman, Sylvane 
Ferris, and a young friend from Boston, when we almost 
rode over a barren blacktail doe. She only ran some fifty 
yards, round a corner of the coulie, and then turned and 
stood until we ran forward and killed her for we were 
in need of fresh meat. One October, a couple of years 
before this, my cousin, West Roosevelt, and I took a trip 
with the wagon to a very wild and rugged country, some 
twenty miles from the ranch. We found that the deer 
had evidently been but little disturbed. One day while 
scrambling down a steep, brushy hill, leading my horse, I 
came close on a doe and fawn ; they merely looked at me 
with curiosity for some time, and then sauntered slowly 
off, remaining within shot for at least five minutes. For- 
tunately we had plenty of meat at the time, and there was 
no necessity to harm the graceful creatures. A few days 



36 The Wilderness Hunter. 

later we came on two bucks sunning themselves in the 
bottom of a valley. My companion killed one. The 
other was lying but a dozen rods off; yet it never moved, 
until several shots had been fired at the first. It was 
directly under me and in my anxiety to avoid overshoot- 
ing, to my horror I committed the opposite fault, and 
away went the buck. 

Every now and then any one will make most unaccount- 
able misses. A few days after thus losing the buck I 
spent nearly twenty cartridges in butchering an unfortu- 
nate yearling, and only killed it at all because it became 
so bewildered by the firing that it hardly tried to escape. 
I never could tell why I used so many cartridges to such 
little purpose. During the next fortnight I killed seven 
deer without making a single miss, though some of the 
shots were rather difficult. 





CHAPTER III. 

THE WHITETAIL DEER ; AND THE BLACKTAIL OF 
THE COLUMBIA. 

THE whitetail deer is much the commonest game 
animal of the United States, being still found, 
though generally in greatly diminished numbers 
throughout most of the Union. It is a shrewd, wary, 
knowing beast ; but it owes its prolonged stay in the 
land chiefly to the fact that it is an inveterate skulker, 
and fond of the thickest cover. Accordingly it usually 
has to be killed by stealth and stratagem, and not by fair, 
manly hunting ; being quite easily slain in any one of half 
a dozen unsportsmanlike ways. In consequence I care 
less for its chase than for the chase of any other kind of 
American big game. Yet in the few places where it dwells 
in open, hilly forests and can be killed by still-hunting as 
if it were a blacktail ; or better still, where the nature of 
the ground is such that it can be run down in fair chase 
on horseback, either with greyhounds, or with a pack of 
trackhounds, it yields splendid sport. 

Killing a deer from a boat while the poor animal is 
swimming in the water, or on snow-shoes as it flounders 

37 



38 The Wilderness Hunter. 

helplessly in the deep drifts, can only be justified on the 
plea of hunger. This is also true of lying in wait at a 
lick. Whoever indulges in any of these methods save 
from necessity, is a butcher, pure and simple, and has no 
business in the company of true sportsmen. 

Fire hunting may be placed in the same category ; yet 
it is possibly allowable under exceptional circumstances 
to indulge in a fire hunt, if only for the sake of seeing the 
wilderness by torch-light. My first attempt at big-game 
shooting, when a boy, was "jacking " for deer in the Adi- 
rondacks, on a pond or small lake surrounded by the 
grand northern forests of birch and beech, pine, spruce, 
and fir. I killed a spike buck ; and while I have never 
been willing to kill another in this manner, I cannot say 
that I regret having once had the experience. The ride 
over the glassy, black water, the witchcraft of such silent 
progress through the mystery of the night, cannot but 
impress one. There is pleasure in the mere buoyant 
gliding of the birch-bark canoe, with its curved bow and 
stern ; nothing else that floats possesses such grace, such 
frail and delicate beauty, as this true craft of the wilder- 
ness, which is as much a creature of the wild woods as 
the deer and bear themselves. The light streaming from 
the bark lantern in the bow cuts a glaring lane through 
the gloom ; in it all objects stand out like magic, shining 
for a moment white and ghastly and then vanishing into 
the impenetrable darkness ; while all the time the paddler 
in the stern makes not so much as a ripple, and there is 
never a sound but the occasional splash of a muskrat, 
or the moaning uloo-oo uloo-uloo of an owl from the 



The Whitetail Deer. 39 

deep forests ; and at last perchance the excitement of 
a shot at a buck, standing at gaze, with luminous eye- 
balls. 

The most common method of killing the whitetail is 
by hounding ; that is, by driving it with hounds past run- 
ways where hunters are stationed for all wild animals 
when on the move prefer to follow certain definite routes. 
This is a legitimate, but inferior, kind of sport. 

However, even killing driven deer may be good fun at 
certain times. Most of the whitetail we kill round the 
ranch are obtained in this fashion. On the Little Missouri 
as throughout the plains country generally these deer 
cling to the big wooded river bottoms, while the blacktail 
are found in the broken country back from the river. The 
tangled mass of cottonwoods, box-alders, and thorny bull- 
berry bushes which cover the bottoms afford the deer a 
nearly secure shelter from the still-hunter ; and it is only 
by the aid of hounds that they can be driven from their 
wooded fastnesses. They hold their own better than any 
other game. The great herds of buffalo, and the bands 
of elk, have vanished completely ; the swarms of antelope 
and blacktail have been wofully thinned ; but the white- 
tail, which were never found in such throngs as either 
buffalo or elk, blacktail or antelope, have suffered far less 
from the advent of the white hunters, ranchmen, and set- 
tlers. They are of course not as plentiful as formerly ; but 
some are still to be found in almost all their old haunts. 
Where the river, winding between rows of high buttes, 
passes my ranch house, there is a long succession of 
heavily wooded bottoms ; and on all of these, even on the 



40 TJie Wilderness Hunter. 

one whereon the house itself stands, there are a good many 
whitetail yet left. 

When we take a day's regular hunt we usually wander 
afar, either to the hills after blacktail or to the open prairie 
after antelope. But if we are short of meat, and yet have 
no time for a regular hunt, being perhaps able to spare 
only a couple of hours after the day's work is over, then all 
hands turn out to drive a bottom forwhitetail. We usually 
have one or two trackhounds at the ranch ; true southern 
deer-hounds, black and tan, with lop ears and hanging lips, 
their wrinkled faces stamped with an expression of almost 
ludicrous melancholy. They are not fast, and have none 
of the alert look of the pied and spotted modern foxhound ; 
but their noses are very keen, their voices deep and mel- 
low, and they are wonderfully staunch on a trail. 

All is bustle and laughter as we start on such a hunt. 
The baying hounds bound about, as the rifles are taken 
down ; the wiry ponies are roped out of the corral, and each 
broad-hatted hunter swings joyfully into the saddle. If 
the pony bucks or " acts mean " the rider finds that his rifle 
adds a new element of interest to the performance, which 
is of course hailed with loud delight by all the men on quiet 
horses. Then we splash off over the river, scramble across 
the faces of the bluffs, or canter along the winding cattle 
paths, through the woods, until we come to the bottom we 
intend to hunt. Here a hunter is stationed at each runway 
along which it is deemed likely that the deer will pass ; and 
one man, who has remained on horseback, starts into the 
cover with the hounds ; occasionally this horseman himself, 
skilled, as most cowboys are, in the use of the revolver, 



The IV hit et ail Deer. 41 

gets a chance to kill a deer. The deep baying of the 
hounds speedily gives warning that the game is afoot ; and 
the watching hunters, who have already hid their horses 
carefully, look to their rifles. Sometimes the deer comes 
far ahead of the dogs, running very swiftly with neck 
stretched straight out ; and if the cover is thick such an 
animal is hard to hit. At other times, especially if the 
quarry is a young buck, it plays along not very far ahead 
of its baying pursuers, bounding and strutting with head up 
and white flag flaunting. If struck hard, down goes the 
flag at once, and the deer plunges into a staggering 
run, while the hounds yell with eager ferocity as they follow 
the bloody trail. Usually we do not have to drive more 
than one or two bottoms before getting a deer, which is 
forthwith packed behind one of the riders, as the distance 
is not great, and home we come in triumph. Sometimes, 
however, we fail to find game, or the deer take unguarded 
passes, or the shot is missed. Occasionally I have killed 
deer on these hunts ; generally I have merely sat still a 
long while, listened to the hounds, and at last heard some- 
body else shoot. In fact such hunting, though good enough 
fun if only tried rarely, would speedily pall if followed at 
all regularly. 

Personally the chief excitement I have had in connection 
therewith has arisen from some antic of my horse ; a half- 
broken bronco is apt to become unnerved when a man with 
a gun tries to climb on him in a hurry. On one hunt in 1890 
I rode a wild animal named Whitefoot. He had been a con* 
firmed and very bad bucker three years before, when I had 
him in my string on the round-up ; but had grown quieter 



4 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

with years. Nevertheless I found he had some fire left ; 
for a hasty vault into the saddle on my part, was followed 
on his by some very resolute pitching. I lost my rifle and 
hat, and my revolver and knife were bucked out of my 
belt ; but I kept my seat all right, and finally got his head 
up and mastered him without letting him throw himself 
over backwards, a trick he sometimes practised. Never- 
theless, in the first jump when I was taken unawares, I 
strained myself across the loins, and did not get entirely 
over it for six months. 

To shoot running game with the rifle it is always 
necessary to be a good and quick marksman ; for it is never 
easy to kill an animal, when in rapid motion, with a single 
bullet. If on a runway a man who is a fairly skilful rifle- 
man, has plenty of time for a clear shot, on open ground, 
at comparatively short distance, say under eighty yards, 
and if the deer is cantering, he ought to hit ; at least I 
generally do under such circumstances, by remembering to 
hold well forward, in fact just in front of the deer's chest. 
But I do not always kill by any means ; quite often when I 
thought I held far enough ahead, my bullet has gone into 
the buck's hips or loins. However, one great feature in 
the use of dogs is that they enable one almost always to 
recover wounded game. 

If the animal is running at full speed a long distance 
off, the difficulty of hitting is of course very much in- 
creased ; and if the country is open the value of a repeat- 
ing rifle is then felt. If the game is bounding over logs 
or dodging through underbrush, the difficulty is again 
increased. Moreover, the natural gait of the different 



The Whitetail Deer. 43 

kinds of game must be taken into account. Of course 
the larger kinds, such as elk and moose, are the easiest to 
hit ; then comes the antelope, in spite of its swiftness, and 
the sheep, because of the evenness of their running ; then 
the whitetail, with its rolling gallop ; and last and hardest 
of all, the blacktail, because of its extraordinary stiff- 
legged bounds. 

Sometimes on a runway the difficulty is not that the 
game is too far, but that it is too close ; for a deer may 
actually almost jump on the hunter, surprising him out of 
all accuracy of aim. Once something of the sort happened 
to me. 

Winter was just beginning. I had been off with the 
ranch wagon on a last round-up of the beef steers ; and 
had suffered a good deal, as one always does on these 
cold weather round-ups, sleeping out in the snow, wrapped 
up in blankets and tarpaulin, with no tent and generally 
no fire. Moreover, I became so weary of the intermi- 
nable length of the nights, that I almost ceased to mind 
the freezing misery of standing night guard round the 
restless cattle ; while roping, saddling, and mastering the 
rough horses each morning, with numbed and stiffened 
limbs, though warming to the blood was harrowing to 
the temper. 

On my return to the ranch I found a strange hunter 
staying there ; a clean, square-built, honest-looking little 
fellow, but evidently not a native American. As a rule, 
nobody displays much curiosity about any one's else ante- 
cedents in the Far West ; but I happened to ask my fore- 
man who the new-comer was, chiefly because the said 



44 The Wilderness Hunter. 

new-comer, evidently appreciating the warmth and comfort 
of the clean, roomy, ranch house, with its roaring fires, 
books, and good fare, seemed inclined to make a per- 
manent stay, according to the custom of the country. 
My foreman, who had a large way of looking at questions 
of foreign ethnology and geography, responded with 
indifference: "Oh, he's a kind of a Dutchman; but he 
hates the other Dutch, mortal. He's from an island 
Germany took from France in the last war ! " This 
seemed puzzling ; but it turned out that the " island " in 
question was Alsace. Native Americans predominate 
among the dwellers in and on the borders of the wilder- 
ness, and in the wild country over which the great herds 
of the cattle-men roam ; and they take the lead in every 
way. The sons of the Germans, Irish, and other Euro- 
pean new-comers are usually quick to claim to be " straight 
United States," and to disavow all kinship with the fellow- 
countrymen of their fathers. Once, while with a hunter 
bearing a German name, we came by chance on a German 
hunting party from one of the eastern cities. One of 
them remarked to my companion that he must be part 
German himself, to which he cheerfully answered : " Well, 
my father was a Dutchman, but my mother was a white 
woman ! I 'm pretty white myself ! " whereat the Germans 
glowered at him gloomily. 

As we were out of meat the Alsatian and one of the 
cowboys and I started down the river with a wagon. The 
first day in camp it rained hard, so that we could not hunt. 
Towards evening we grew tired of doing nothing, and as 
the rain had become a mere fine drizzle, we sallied out to 



The IVhitetail Deer. 45 

drive one of the bottoms for whitetail. The cowboy and 
our one trackhound plunged into the young cottonwood, 
which grew thickly over the sandy bottom ; while the 
little hunter and I took our stands on a cut bank, 
twenty feet high and half a mile long, which hedged 
in the trees from behind. Three or four game trails 
led up through steep, narrow clefts in this bank ; and 
we tried to watch these. Soon I saw a deer in an open- 
ing below, headed towards one end of the bank, round 
which another game trail led ; and I ran hard towards this 
end, where it turned into a knife-like ridge of clay. About 
fifty yards from the point there must have been some 
slight irregularities in the face of the bank, enough to give 
the deer a foothold ; for as I ran along the animal sud- 
denly bounced over the crest, so close that I could have 
hit it with my right hand. As I tried to pull up short and 
swing round, my feet slipped from under me in the wet 
clay, and down I went ; while the deer literally turned a 
terrified somersault backwards. I flung myself to the 
edge and missed a hurried shot as it raced back on its 
tracks. Then, wheeling, I saw the little hunter running 
towards me along the top of the cut bank, his face on a 
broad grin. He leaped over one of the narrow clefts, up 
which a game trail led ; and hardly was he across before 
the frightened deer bolted up it, not three yards from his 
back. He did not turn, in spite of my shouting and 
handwaving, and the frightened deer, in the last stage of 
panic at finding itself again almost touching one of its 
foes, sped off across the grassy slopes like a quarter horse. 
When at last the hunter did turn, it was too late ; and our 



46 The Wilderness Hunter. 

long-range fusillade proved harmless. During the next 
two days I redeemed myself, killing four deer. 

Coming back our wagon broke down, no unusual 
incident in ranch-land, where there is often no road, while 
the strain is great in hauling through quicksands, and up 
or across steep broken hills ; it rarely makes much differ- 
ence beyond the temporary delay, for plains-men and 
mountain-men are very handy and self-helpful. Besides, 
a mere break-down sinks into nothing compared to having 
the team play out ; which is, of course, most apt to happen 
at the times when it insures hardship and suffering, as in 
the middle of a snowstorm, or when crossing a region 
with no water. However, the reinsmen of the plains 
must needs face many such accidents, not to speak of 
runaways, or having the wagon pitchpole over on to the 
team in dropping down too steep a hillside. Once after a 
three days' rainstorm some of us tried to get the ranch 
wagon along a trail which led over the ridge of a gumbo 
or clay butte. The sticky stuff clogged our shoes, the 
horses' hoofs, and the wheels ; and it was even more 
slippery than it was sticky. Finally we struck a sloping 
shoulder; with great struggling, pulling, pushing, and 
shouting, we reached the middle of it, and then, as one of 
my men remarked, "the whole darned outfit slid into the 
coulie." 

These hunting trips after deer or antelope with the 
wagon usually take four or five days. I always ride some 
tried hunting horse ; and the wagon itself when on such 
a hunt is apt to lead a chequered career, as half the time 
there is not the vestige of a trail to follow. Moreover 



The Whitetail Deer. 47 

we often make a hunt when the good horses are on the 
round-up, or otherwise employed, and we have to get to- 
gether a scrub team of cripples or else of outlaws vicious 
devils, only used from dire need. The best teamster for 
such a hunt that we ever had on the ranch was a weather- 
beaten old fellow known as " Old Man Tompkins." In the 
course of a long career as lumberman, plains teamster, 
buffalo hunter, and Indian fighter, he had passed several 
years as a Rocky Mountain stage driver ; and a stage 
driver of the Rockies is of necessity a man of such skill 
and nerve that he fears no team and no country. No 
matter how wild the unbroken horses, Old Tompkins never 
asked help ; and he hated to drive less than a four-in-hand. 
When he once had a grip on the reins, he let no one hold 
the horses' heads. All he wished was an open plain foi 
the rush at the beginning. The first plunge might take 
the wheelers' fore-feet over the cross-bars of the leaders, 
but he never stopped for that ; on went the team, run- 
ning, bounding, rearing, tumbling, while the wagon 
leaped behind, until gradually things straightened out of 
their own accord. I soon found, however, that I could 
not allow him to carry a rifle ; for he was an inveterate 
game butcher. In the presence of game the old fellow 
became fairly wild with excitement, and forgot the years 
and rheumatism which had crippled him. Once, after a 
long and tiresome day's hunt, we were walking home to- 
gether ; he was carrying his boots in his hands, bemoan- 
ing the fact that his feet hurt him. Suddenly a whitetail 
jumped up ; down dropped Old Tompkins' boots, and 
away he went like a college sprinter, entirely heedless of 



48 The Wilderness Hunter. 

stones and cactus. By some indiscriminate firing at 
long range we dropped the deer ; and as Old Tompkins 
cooled down he realized that his bare feet had paid full 
penalty for his dash. 

One of these wagon trips I remember because I 
missed a fair running shot which I much desired to hit ; 
and afterwards hit a very much more difficult shot about 
which I cared very little. Ferguson and I, with Sylvane 
and one or two others, had gone a day's journey down 
the river for a hunt. We went along the bottoms, cross- 
ing the stream every mile or so, with an occasional 
struggle through mud or quicksand, or up the steep, rot- 
ten banks. An old buffalo hunter drove the wagon, with 
a couple of shaggy, bandy-legged ponies ; the rest of us 
jogged along in front on horseback, picking out a trail 
through the bottoms and choosing the best crossing 
places. Some of the bottoms were grassy pastures ; on 
others great, gnarled cottonwoods, with shivered branches, 
stood in clumps ; yet others were choked with a true for- 
est growth. Late in the afternoon we went into camp, 
choosing a spot where the cottonwoods were young ; their 
glossy leaves trembled and rustled unceasingly. We 
speedily picketed the horses changing them about as 
they ate off the grass, drew water, and hauled great logs 
in front of where we had pitched the tent, while the wagon 
stood nearby. Each man laid out his bed ; the food and 
kitchen kit were taken from the wagon ; supper was 
cooked and eaten ; and we then lay round the camp-fire, 
gazing into it, or up at the brilliant stars, and listening to 
the wild, mournful wailing of the coyotes. They were 



The Whitetail Deer. 49 

very plentiful round this camp ; before sunrise and after 
sundown they called unceasingly. 

Next day I took a long tramp and climb after 
mountain sheep and missed a running shot at a fine ram, 
about a hundred yards off ; or rather I hit him and followed 
his bloody trail a couple of miles, but failed to find him ; 
whereat I returned to camp much cast down. 

Early the following morning Sylvane and I started for 
another hunt, this time on horseback. The air was crisp 
and pleasant ; the beams of the just-risen sun struck 
sharply on the umber-colored hills and white cliff walls 
guarding the river, bringing into high relief their strangely 
carved and channelled fronts. Below camp the river was 
little but a succession of shallow pools strung along the 
broad sandy bed which in spring-time was filled from 
bank to bank with foaming muddy water. Two mallards 
sat in one of these pools ; and I hit one with the rifle, so 
nearly missing that the ball scarcely ruffled a feather ; yet 
in some way the shock told, for the bird after flying 
thirty yards dropped on the sand. 

Then we left the river and our active ponies scrambled 
up a small canyon-like break in the bluffs. All day we 
rode among the hills ; sometimes across rounded slopes, 
matted with short buffalo grass ; sometimes over barren 
buttes of red or white clay, where only sage brush and 
cactus grew ; or beside deep ravines, black with stunted 
cedar ; or along beautiful winding coulies, where the grass 
grew rankly, and the thickets of ash and wild plum made 
brilliant splashes of red and yellow and tender green. 
Yet we saw nothing. 



50 The Wilderness Hunter. 

As evening drew on we rode riverwards ; we slid down 
the steep bluff walls, and loped across a great bottom of 
sage brush and tall grass, our horses now and then leap- 
ing like cats over the trunks of dead cottonwoods. As 
we came to the brink of the cut bank which forms the 
hither boundary of the river in freshet time, we suddenly 
saw two deer, a doe and a well grown fawn of course 
long out of the spotted coat. They were walking with 
heads down along the edge of a sand-bar, near a pool, on 
the farther side of the stream bed, over two hundred 
yards distant. They saw us at once, and turning, galloped 
away, with flags aloft, the pictures of springing, vigorous 
beauty. I jumped off my horse in an instant, knelt, and 
covered the fawn. It was going straight away from me, 
running very evenly, and I drew a coarse sight at the tip 
of the white flag. As I pulled trigger down went the 
deer, the ball having gone into the back of its head. The 
distance was a good three hundred yards ; and while of 
course there was much more chance than skill in the shot 
I felt well pleased with it though I could not help a re- 
gret that while making such a difficult shot at a mere 
whitetail I should have missed a much easier shot at a 
noble bighorn. Not only I, but all the camp, had a prac- 
tical interest in my success ; for we had no fresh meat, 
and a fat whitetail fawn, killed in October, yields the best 
of venison. So after dressing the deer I slung the carcass 
behind my saddle, and we rode swiftly back to camp 
through the dark ; and that evening we feasted on the 
juicy roasted ribs. 



The Whitetail Deer. 51 

The degree of tameness and unsuspiciousness shown 
by whitetail deer depends, of course, upon the amount of 
molestation to which they are exposed. Their times for 
sleeping, feeding, and coming to water vary from the 
same cause. Where they are little persecuted they feed 
long after sunrise and before sunset, and drink when the 
sun is high in the heavens, sometimes even at midday ; 
they then show but little fear of man, and speedily become 
indifferent to the presence of deserted dwellings. 

In the cattle country the ranch houses are often shut 
during the months of warm weather, when the round-ups 
succeed one another without intermission, as the calves must 
be branded, the beeves gathered and shipped, long trips 
made to collect strayed animals, and the trail stock driven 
from the breeding to the fattening grounds. At that time 
all the men-folk may have to be away in the white-topped 
wagons, working among the horned herds, whether plod- 
ding along the trail, or wandering to and fro on the range. 
Late one summer, when my own house had been thus 
closed for many months, I rode thither with a friend to 
pass a week. The place already wore the look of having 
slipped away from the domain of man. The wild forces, 
barely thrust back beyond the threshold of our habitation, 
were prompt to spring across it to renewed possession the 
moment we withdrew. The rank grass grew tall in the 
yard, and on the sodded roofs of the stable and sheds ; 
the weather-beaten log walls of the house itself were^We 
in tint with the trunks of the gnarled cottonwoods by 
which it was shaded. Evidently the woodland creatures 



52 The Wilderness Hunter, 

had come to regard the silent, deserted buildings as mere 
outgrowths of the wilderness, no more to be feared than 
the trees around them or the gray, strangely shaped buttes 
behind. 

Lines of delicate, heart-shaped footprints in the muddy 
reaches of the half-dry river-bed showed where the deer 
came to water ; and in the dusty cattle-trails among the 
ravines many round tracks betrayed the passing and re- 
passing of timber wolves, once or twice in the late even- 
ing we listened to their savage and melancholy howling. 
Cotton-tail rabbits burrowed under the verandah. Within 
doors the bushy-tailed pack-rats had possession, and at 
night they held a perfect witches' sabbath in the garret and 
kitchen ; while a little white-footed mouse, having dragged 
half the stuffing out of a mattress, had made thereof a big 
fluffy nest, entirely filling the oven. 

Yet, in spite of the abundant sign of game, we at first 
suffered under one of those spells of ill-luck which at times 
befall all hunters, and for several days we could kill noth- 
ing, though we tried hard, being in need of fresh meat. 
The moon was full each evening, sitting on the ranch 
verandah, or walking homeward, we watched it rise over 
the line of bluffs beyond the river and the deer were feed- 
ing at night ; moreover in such hot weather they lie very 
close, move as little as possible, and are most difficult to 
find. Twice we lay out from dusk until dawn, in spite of 
the mosquitoes, but saw nothing ; and the chances we did 
get we failed to profit by. 

One morning, instead of trudging out to hunt I stayed 
at home, and sat in a rocking-chair on the verandah read- 



The Whitetail Deer. 53 

ing, rocking, or just sitting still listening to the low rustling 
of the cottonwood branches overhead, and gazing across 
the river. Through the still, clear, hot air, the faces of 
the bluffs shone dazzling white ; no shadow fell from the 
cloudless sky on the grassy slopes, or on the groves of 
timber ; only the faraway cooing of a mourning dove broke 
the silence. Suddenly my attention was arrested by a 
slight splashing in the water ; glancing up from my book 
I saw three deer, which had come out of the thick fringe 
of bushes and young trees across the river, and were 
strolling along the sand-bars directly opposite me. Slip- 
ping stealthily into the house I picked up my rifle, and 
slipped back again. One of the deer was standing motion- 
less, broadside to me ; it was a long shot, two hundred 
and fifty yards, but I had a rest against a pillar of the 
verandah. I held true, and as the smoke cleared away 
the deer lay struggling on the sands. 

As the whitetail is the most common and widely dis- 
tributed of American game, so the Columbian blacktail 
has the most sharply limited geographical range ; for it is 
confined to the northwest coast, where it is by far the most 
abundant deer. In antlers it is indistinguishable from the 
common blacktail of the Rockies and the great plains, and 
it has the regular blacktail gait, a succession of stiff-legged 
bounds on all four feet at once ; but its tail is more like 
a whitetail's in shape, though black above. As regards 
methods of hunting, and the amount of sport yielded, it 
stands midway between its two brethren. It lives in a 
land of magnificent timber, where the trees tower far into 



54 The Wilderness Hunter. 

the sky, the giants of their kind ; and there are few more 
attractive sports than still-hunting on the mountains, among 
these forests of marvellous beauty and grandeur. There 
are many lakes among the mountains where it dwells, and 
as it cares more for water than the ordinary blacktail, it is 
comparatively easy for hounds to drive it into some pond 
where it can be killed at leisure. It is thus often killed 
by hounding. 

The only one I ever killed was a fine young buck. We 
had camped near a little pond, and as evening fell I strolled 
off towards it and sat down. Just after sunset the buck 
came out of the woods. For some moments he hesitated 
and then walked forward and stood by the edge of the 
water, about sixty yards from me. We were out of meat, 
so I held right behind his shoulder, and though he went 
off, his bounds were short and weak, and he fell before he 
reached the wood. 





CHAPTER IV. 

ON THE CATTLE RANGES ; THE PRONG-HORN ANTELOPE. 

EARLY one June just after the close of the regular 
spring round-up, a couple of wagons, with a score 
of riders between them, were sent to work some 
hitherto untouched country, between the Little Missouri 
and the Yellowstone. I was to go as the representative 
of our own and of one or two neighboring brands ; but 
as the round-up had halted near my ranch I determined 
to spend a day there, and then to join the wagons ; the 
appointed meeting-place being a cluster of red scoria 
buttes, some forty miles distant, where there was a spring 
of good water. 

Most of my day at the ranch was spent in slumber ; 
for I had been several weeks on the round-up, where no- 
body ever gets quite enough sleep. This is the only 
drawback to the work ; otherwise it is pleasant and excit- 
ing, with just that slight touch of danger necessary to 
give it zest, and without the wearing fatigue of such labor 
as lumbering or mining. But there is never enough sleep, 
at least on the spring and mid-summer round-ups. The 
men are in the saddle from dawn until dusk, at the time 

55 



56 The Wilderness Hunter. 

when the days are longest on these great northern plains; 
and in addition there is the regular night guarding and 
now and then a furious storm or a stampede, when for 
twenty-four hours at a stretch the riders only dismount to 
change horses or snatch a mouthful of food. 

I started in the bright sunrise, riding one horse and 
driving loose before me eight others, one carrying my 
bedding. They travelled strung out in single file. I kept 
them trotting and loping, for loose horses are easiest to 
handle when driven at some speed, and moreover the way 
was long. My rifle was slung under my thigh ; the lariat 
was looped on the saddle-horn. 

At first our trail led through winding coulies, and 
sharp grassy defiles ; the air was wonderfully clear, the 
flowers were in bloom, the breath of the wind in my face 
was odorous and sweet. The patter and beat of the un- 
shod hoofs, rising in half-rhythmic measure, frightened 
the scudding deer ; but the yellow-breasted meadow larks, 
perched on the budding tops of the bushes, sang their 
rich full songs without heeding us as we went by. 

When the sun was well on high and the heat of the 
day had begun we came to a dreary and barren plain, 
broken by rows of low clay buttes. The ground in places 
was whitened by alkali ; elsewhere it was dull gray. Here 
there grew nothing save sparse tufts of coarse grass, and 
cactus, and sprawling sage brush. In the hot air all 
things seen afar danced and wavered. As I rode and 
gazed at the shimmering haze the vast desolation of the 
landscape bore on me ; it seemed as if the unseen and 
unknown powers of the wastes were moving by and 



On the Cattle Ranges. 57 

marshalling their silent forces. No man save the wilder- 
ness dweller knows the strong melancholy fascination of 
these long rides through lonely lands. 

At noon, that the horses might graze and drink, I 
halted where some box-alders grew by a pool in the bed 
of a half-dry creek ; and shifted my saddle to a fresh beast. 
When we started again we came out on the rolling prairie, 
where the green sea of wind-rippled grass stretched limit- 
less as far as the eye could reach. Little striped gophers 
scuttled away, or stood perfectly straight at the mouths 
of their burrows, looking like picket pins. Curlews 
clamored mournfully as they circled overhead. Prairie 
fowl swept off, clucking and calling, or strutted about with 
their sharp tails erect. Antelope were very plentiful 
running like race-horses across the level, or uttering theii 
queer, barking grunt as they stood at gaze, the white hairs 
on their rumps all on end, their neck bands of broken 
brown and white vivid in the sunlight. They were found 
singly or in small straggling parties ; the master bucks 
had not yet begun to drive out the younger and weaker 
ones as later in the season, when each would gather into 
a herd as many does as his jealous strength could guard 
from rivals. The nursing does whose kids had come early 
were often found with the bands ; the others kept apart. 
The kids were very conspicuous figures on the prairies, 
across which they scudded like jack rabbits, showing near- 
ly as much speed and alertness as their parents ; only the 
very young sought safety by lying flat to escape notice. 

The horses cantered and trotted steadily over the mat 
of buffalo grass, steering for the group of low scoria 



58 The Wilderness Hunter. 

mounds which was my goal. In mid-afternoon I reached 
it. The two wagons were drawn up near the spring ; 
under them lay the night-wranglers, asleep ; nearby the 
teamster-cooks were busy about the evening meal. A 
little way off the two day-wranglers were watching the 
horse-herd ; into which I speedily turned my own animals. 
The riders had already driven in the bunches of cattle ; 
and were engaged in branding the calves, and turning 
loose the animals that were not needed, while the remain- 
der were kept, forming the nucleus of the herd which was 
to accompany the wagon. 

As soon as the work was over the men rode to the 
wagons ; sinewy fellows, with tattered broad-brimmed 
hats and clanking spurs, some wearing leather shaps or 
leggings, others having their trousers tucked into their 
high-heeled top-boots, all with their flannel shirts and loose 
neckerchiefs dusty and sweaty. A few were indulging in 
rough, good-natured horse play, to an accompaniment of 
yelling mirth ; most were grave and taciturn, greeting me 
with a silent nod or a " How ! friend." A very talkative 
man, unless the acknowledged wit of the party, according 
to the somewhat florid frontier notion of wit, is always 
looked on with disfavor in a cow-camp. After supper, 
eaten in silent haste, we gathered round the embers of 
the small fires, and the conversation glanced fitfully over 
the threadbare subjects common to all such camps ; the 
antics of some particularly vicious bucking bronco, how 
the different brands of cattle were showing up, the small- 
ness of the calf drop, the respective merits of rawhide 
lariats and grass ropes, and bits of rather startling and 



On the Cattle Ranges. 59 

violent news concerning the fates of certain neighbors. 
Then one by one we began to turn in under our blankets. 

Our wagon was to furnish the night guards for the cat- 
tle ; and each of us had his gentlest horse tied ready to 
hand. The night guards went on duty two at a time for 
two-hour watches. By good luck my watch came last. 
My comrade was a happy-go-lucky young Texan who for 
some inscrutable reason was known as " Latigo Strap " ; 
he had just come from the south with a big drove of trail 
cattle. 

A few minutes before two one of the guards who had 
gone on duty at midnight rode into camp and wakened 
us by shaking our shoulders. Fumbling in the dark I 
speedily saddled my horse ; Latigo had left his saddled, 
and he started ahead of me. One of the annoyances of 
night guarding, at least in thick weather, is the occasional 
difficulty of finding the herd after leaving camp, or in re- 
turning to camp after the watch is over ; there are few 
things more exasperating than to be helplessly wandering 
about in the dark under such circumstances. However, 
on this occasion there was no such trouble ; for it was a 
brilliant starlight night and the herd had been bedded down 
by a sugar-loaf butte which made a good landmark. As 
we reached the spot we could make out the loom of the 
cattle lying close together on the level plain ; and then the 
dim figure of a horseman rose vaguely from the darkness 
and moved by in silence ; it was the other of the two mid- 
night guards, on his way back to his broken slumber. 

At once we began to ride slowly round the cattle in 
opposite directions. We were silent, for the night was 



60 The Wilderness Hunter. 

clear, and the herd quiet ; in wild weather, when the cattle 
are restless, the cowboys never cease calling and singing as 
they circle them, for the sounds seem to quiet the beasts. 

For over an hour we steadily paced the endless round, 
saying nothing, with our great-coats buttoned, for the air 
is chill towards morning on the northern plains, even in 
summer. Then faint streaks of gray appeared in the east. 
Latigo Strap began to call merrily to the cattle. A coyote 
came sneaking over the butte nearby, and halted to yell 
and wail ; afterwards he crossed the coulie and from the 
hillside opposite again shrieked in dismal crescendo. The 
dawn brightened rapidly ; the little skylarks of the plains 
began to sing, soaring far overhead, while it was still much 
too dark to see them. Their song is not powerful, but it 
is so clear and fresh and long-continued that it always 
appeals to one very strongly ; especially because it is most 
often heard in the rose-tinted air of the glorious mornings, 
while the listener sits in the saddle, looking across the 
endless sweep of the prairies. 

As it grew lighter the cattle became restless, rising and 
stretching themselves, while we continued to ride round 
them. 

" Then the bronc* began to pitch 

And I began to ride ; 
He bucked me off a cut bank, 
Hell ! I nearly died ! " 

sang Latigo from the other side of the herd. A yell 
from the wagons told that the cook was summoning the 
sleeping cow-punchers to breakfast ; we were soon able 
to distinguish their figures as they rolled out of their bed- 



On the Cattle Ranges. 61 

ding, wrapped and corded it into bundles, and huddled 
sullenly round the little fires. The horse wranglers were 
driving in the saddle bands. All the cattle got on their 
feet and started feeding. In a few minutes the hasty 
breakfast at the wagons had evidently been despatched for 
we could see the men forming rope corrals into which the 
ponies were driven ; then each man saddled, bridled, and 
mounted his horse, two or three of the half-broken beasts 
bucking, rearing, and plunging frantically in the vain effort 
to unseat their riders. 

The two men who were first in the saddle relieved 
Latigo and myself and we immediately galloped to camp, 
shifted our saddles to fresh animals, gulped down a cup or 
two of hot coffee, and some pork, beans, and bread, and 
rode to the spot where the others were gathered, lolling 
loosely in their saddles, and waiting for the round-up boss 
to assign them their tasks. We were the last, and as soon 
as we arrived the boss divided all into two parties for the 
morning work, or " circle riding," whereby the cattle were 
to be gathered for the round-up proper. Then, as the 
others started, he turned to me and remarked : " We Ve 
got enough hands to drive this open country without you ; 
but we Ve out of meat, and I don't want to kill a beef for 
such a small outfit ; can't you shoot some antelope this 
morning ? We '11 pitch camp by the big blasted cottonwood 
at the foot of the ash coulies, over yonder, below the breaks 
of Dry Creek." 

Of course I gladly assented, and was speedily riding 
alone across the grassy slopes. There was no lack of the 
game I was after, for from every rise of ground I could see 



62 The Wilderness Hunter. 

antelope scattered across the prairie, singly, in couples, or 
in bands. But their very numbers, joined to the lack of 
cover on such an open, flattish country, proved a bar to 
success ; while I was stalking one band another was sure 
to see me and begin running, whereat the first would like- 
wise start ; I missed one or two very long shots, and noon 
found me still without game. 

However, I was then lucky enough to see a band of a 
dozen feeding to windward of a small butte, and by gal- 
loping in a long circle I got within a quarter of a mile of 
them before having to dismount. The stalk itself was 
almost too easy ; for I simply walked to the butte, climbed 
carefully up a slope where the soil was firm and peered over 
the top to see the herd, a little one, a hundred yards off. 
They saw me at once and ran, but I held well ahead of a 
fine young prong-buck, and rolled him over like a rabbit, 
with both shoulders broken. In a few minutes I was 
riding onwards once more with the buck lashed behind my 
saddle. 

The next one I got, a couple of hours later, offered a 
much more puzzling stalk. He was a big fellow in com- 
pany with four does or small bucks. All five were lying 
in the middle of a slight basin, at the head of a gentle val- 
ley. At first sight it seemed impossible to get near them, 
for there was not so much cover as a sage brush, and the 
smooth, shallow basin in which they lay was over a thou- 
sand yards across, while they were looking directly down 
the valley. However, it is curious how hard it is to tell, 
even from nearby, whether a stalk can or cannot be 
made ; the difficulty being to estimate the exact amount 



On the Cattle Ranges. 63 

of shelter yielded by little inequalities of ground. In this 
instance a small shallow watercourse, entirely dry, ran along 
the valley, and after much study I decided to try to crawl 
up it, although the big bulging telescopic eyes of the 
prong-buck which have much keener sight than deer 
or any other game would in such case be pointed directly 
my way. 

Having made up my mind I backed cautiously down 
from the coign of vantage whence I had first seen the 
game, and ran about a mile to the mouth of a washout 
which formed the continuation of the watercourse in 
question. Protected by the high clay banks of this wash- 
out I was able to walk upright until within half a mile of 
the prong-bucks ; then my progress became very tedious 
and toilsome, as I had to work my way up the water- 
course flat on my stomach, dragging the rifle beside me. 
At last I reached a spot beyond which not even a snake 
could crawl unnoticed. In front was alow bank, a couple 
of feet high, crested with tufts of coarse grass. Raising 
my head very cautiously I peered through these and saw 
the prong-horn about a hundred and fifty yards distant. 
At the same time I found that I had crawled to the edge 
of a village of prairie dogs, which had already made me 
aware of their presence by their shrill yelping. They 
saw me at once ; and all those away from their homes 
scuttled towards them, and dived down the burrows, or 
sat on the mounds at the entrances, scolding convulsively 
and jerking their fat little bodies and short tails. This 
commotion at once attracted the attention of the antelope. 
They rose forthwith, and immediately caught a glimpse 



64 The Wilderness Hunter. 

of the black muzzle of the rifle which I was gently push- 
ing through the grass tufts. The fatal curiosity which so 
often in this species offsets wariness and sharp sight, 
proved my friend ; evidently the antelope could not quite 
make me out and wished to know what I was. They 
moved nervously to and fro, striking the earth with their 
fore hoofs, and now and then uttering a sudden bleat. 
At last the big buck stood still broadside to me, and I 
fired. He went off with the others, but lagged behind as 
they passed over the hill crest, and when I reached it I 
saw him standing, not very far off, with his head down. 
Then he walked backwards a few steps, fell over on his 
side, and died. 

As he was a big buck I slung him across the saddle, 
and started for camp afoot, leading the horse. However 
my hunt was not over, for while still a mile from the 
wagons, going down a coulie of Dry Creek, a yearling 
prong-buck walked over the divide to my right and stood 
still until I sent a bullet into its chest ; so that I made my 
appearance in camp with three antelope. 

I spoke above of the sweet singing of the western 
meadow lark and plains skylark ; neither of them kin to 
the true skylark, by the way, one being a cousin of the 
grakles and hang-birds, and the other a kind of pipit. To 
me both of these birds are among the most attractive 
singers to which I have ever listened ; but with all bird- 
music much must be allowed for the surroundings, and 
much for the mood, and the keenness of sense, of the 
listener. The lilt of the little plains skylark is neither 
very powerful nor very melodious ; but it is sweet, pure, 



On the Cattle Ranges. 65 

long-sustained, with a ring of courage befitting a song 
uttered in highest air. 

The meadow lark is a singer of a higher order, de- 
serving to rank with the best. Its song has length, varie- 
ty, power and rich melody ; and there is in it sometimes 
a cadence of wild sadness, inexpressibly touching. Yet I 
cannot say that either song would appeal to others as it 
appeals to me ; for to me it comes forever laden with a 
hundred memories and associations ; with the sight of 
dim hills reddening in the dawn, with the breath of cool 
morning winds blowing across lonely plains, with the 
scent of flowers on the sunlit prairie, with the motion 
of fiery horses, with all the strong thrill of eager and 
buoyant life. I doubt if any man can judge dispassion- 
ately the bird songs of his own country ; he cannot disas- 
sociate them from the sights and sounds of the land that 
is so dear to him. 

This is not a feeling to regret, but it must be taken 
into account in accepting any estimate of bird music 
even in considering the reputation of the European sky- 
lark and nightingale. To both of these birds I have 
often listened in their own homes ; always with pleasure 
and admiration, but always with a growing belief that 
relatively to some other birds they were ranked too high. 
They are pre-eminently birds with literary associations ; 
most people take their opinions of them at second-hand, 
from the poets. 

No one can help liking the lark ; it is such a brave, 
honest, cheery bird, and moreover its song is uttered in 
the air, and is very long-sustained. But it is by no means 



66 The Wilderness Hunter. 

a musician of the first rank. The nightingale is a per- 
former of a very different and far higher order ; yet though 
it is indeed a notable and admirable singer, it is an ex- 
aggeration to call it unequalled. In melody, and above 
all in that finer, higher melody where the chords vibrate 
with the touch of eternal sorrow, it cannot rank with such 
singers as the wood thrush and hermit thrush. The 
serene, ethereal beauty of the hermit's song, rising and 
falling through the still evening, under the archways of 
hoary mountain forests that have endured from time ever- 
lasting ; the golden, leisurely chiming of the wood thrush, 
sounding on June afternoons, stanza by stanza, through 
sun-flecked groves of tall hickories, oaks, and chestnuts ; 
with these there is nothing in the nightingale's song to 
compare. But in volume and continuity, in tuneful, volu- 
ble, rapid outpouring and ardor, above all in skilful and 
intricate variation of theme, its song far surpasses that of 
either of the thrushes. In all these respects it is more 
just to compare it with the mocking-bird's, which, as a 
rule, likewise falls short precisely on those points where 
the songs of the two thrushes excel. 

The mocking-bird is a singer that has suffered much 
in reputation from its powers of mimicry. On ordinary 
occasions, and especially in the daytime, it insists on 
playing the harlequin. But when free in its own favorite 
haunts at night in the love season it has a song, or rather 
songs, which are not only purely original, but are also 
more beautiful than any other bird music whatsoever. 
Once I listened to a mocking-bird singing the livelong 
spring night, under the full moon, in a magnolia tree \ 
and I do not think I shall ever forget its song. 



On the Cattle Ranges. 67 

It was on the plantation of Major Campbell Brown, 
near Nashville, in the beautiful, fertile mid-Tennessee 
country. The mocking-birds were prime favorites on the 
place ; and were given full scope for the development, not 
only of their bold friendliness towards mankind, but also 
of that marked individuality and originality of character 
in which they so far surpass every other bird as to become 
the most interesting of all feathered folk. One of the 
mockers, which lived in the hedge bordering the garden, 
was constantly engaged in an amusing feud with an honest 
old setter dog, the point of attack being the tip of the 
dog's tail. For some reason the bird seemed to regard 
any hoisting of the setter's tail as a challenge and insult. 
It would flutter near the dog as he walked; the old setter 
would become interested in something and raise his tail. 
The bird would promptly fly at it and peck the tip ; where- 
upon down went the tail until in a couple of minutes the 
old fellow would forget himself, and the scene would be 
repeated. The dog usually bore the assaults with comic 
resignation ; and the mocker easily avoided any momentary 
outburst of clumsy resentment. 

On the evening in question the moon was full. My 
host kindly assigned me a room of which the windows 
opened on a great magnolia tree, where, I was told, a 
mocking-bird sang every night and all night long. I went 
to my room about ten. The moonlight was shining in 
through the open window, and the mocking-bird was 
already in the magnolia. The great tree was bathed in a 
flood of shining silver ; I could see each twig, and mark 
every action of the singer, who was pouring forth such a 
rapture of ringing melody as I have never listened to 



68 The Wilderness Hunter. 

before or since. Sometimes he would perch motionless 
for many minutes, his body quivering and thrilling with the 
outpour of music. Then he would drop softly from twig 
to twig, until the lowest limb was reached, when he would 
rise, fluttering and leaping through the branches, his song 
never ceasing for an instant, until he reached the summit 
of the tree and launched into the warm, scent-laden air, 
floating in spirals, with outspread wings, until, as if spent, 
he sank gently back into the tree and down through the 
branches, while his song rose into an ecstasy of ardor and 
passion. His voice rang like a clarionet, in rich, full 
tones, and his execution covered the widest possible com- 
pass ; theme followed theme, a torrent of music, a swelling 
tide of harmony, in which scarcely any two bars were 
alike. I stayed till midnight listening to him ; he was 
singing when I went to sleep ; he was still singing when I 
woke a couple of hours later ; he sang through the livelong 
night. 

There are many singers beside the meadow lark and 
little skylark in the plains country ; that brown and deso- 
late land, once the home of the thronging buffalo, still 
haunted by the bands of the prong-buck, and roamed over 
in ever increasing numbers by the branded herds of the 
ranchman. In the brush of the river bottoms there are 
the thrasher and song sparrow ; on the grassy uplands the 
lark finch, vesper sparrow, and lark bunting ; and in the 
rough canyons the rock wren, with its ringing melody. 

Yet in certain moods a man cares less for even the love- 
liest bird songs than for the wilder, harsher, stronger sounds 
of the wilderness ; the guttural booming and clucking of the 



On the Cattle Ranges. 69 

prairie fowl and the great sage fowl in spring ; the honk- 
ing of gangs of wild geese, as they fly in rapid wedges ; 
the bark of an eagle, wheeling in the shadow of storm- 
scarred cliffs ; or the far-off clanging of many sand-hill 
cranes, soaring high overhead in circles which cross and 
recross at an incredible altitude. Wilder yet, and stranger, 
are the cries of the great four-footed beasts ; the rhyth- 
mic pealing of a bull-elk's challenge ; and that most sinister 
and mournful sound, ever fraught with foreboding of 
murder and rapine, the long-drawn baying of the gray 
wolf. 

Indeed, save to the trained ear most mere bird songs 
are not very noticeable. The ordinary wilderness dweller, 
whether hunter or cowboy, scarcely heeds them ; and in 
fact knows but little of the smaller birds. If a bird has 
some conspicuous peculiarity of look or habit he will 
notice its existence ; but not otherwise. He knows a 
good deal about magpies, whiskey jacks, or water ousels ; 
but nothing whatever concerning the thrushes, finches, 
and warblers. 

It is the same with mammals. The prairie-dogs he 
cannot help noticing. With the big pack-rats also he is 
well acquainted ; for they are handsome, with soft gray 
fur, large eyes, and bushy tails ; and, moreover, no one 
can avoid remarking their extraordinary habit of carrying 
to their burrows everything bright, useless, and portable, 
from an empty cartridge case to a skinning knife. But he 
knows nothing of mice, shrews, pocket gophers, or weasels ; 
and but little even of some larger mammals with very 
marked characteristics. Thus I have met but one or two 



70 The Wilderness Hunter. 

plainsmen who knew anything of the curious plains ferret, 
that rather rare weasel-like animal, which plays the same 
part on the plains that the mink does by the edges of all 
our streams and brooks, and the tree-loving sable in the 
cold northern forests. The ferret makes its home in bur- 
rows, and by preference goes abroad at dawn and dusk, 
but sometimes even at mid-day. It is as blood-thirsty as 
the mink itself, and its life is one long ramble for prey, 
gophers, prairie-dogs, sage rabbits, jack-rabbits, snakes, 
and every kind of ground bird furnishing its food. I 
have known one to fairly depopulate a prairie-dog town, 
it being the arch foe of these little rodents, because of 
its insatiable blood lust and its capacity to follow them 
into their burrows. Once I found the bloody body and 
broken eggs of a poor prairie-hen which a ferret had evi- 
dently surprised on her nest. Another time one of my 
men was eye-witness to a more remarkable instance of the 
little animal's blood-thirsty ferocity. He was riding the 
range, and being attracted by a slight commotion in a 
clump of grass, he turned his horse thither to look, and 
to his astonishment found an antelope fawn at the last 
gasp, but still feebly struggling, in the grasp of a ferret, 
which had throttled it and was sucking its blood with 
hideous greediness. He avenged the murdered innocent 
by a dexterous blow with the knotted end of his lariat. 

That mighty bird of rapine, the war eagle, which on 
the great plains and among the Rockies supplants the 
bald-headed eagle of better-watered regions, is another 
dangerous foe of the young antelope. It is even said 
that under exceptional circumstances eagles will assail a 




EAGLES ATTACKING A PRONG-BUCK. 



On the Cattle Ranges. 7* 

full grown prong-horn ; and a neighboring ranchman 
informs me that he was once an eye-witness to such an 
attack. It was a bleak day in the late winter, and he was 
riding home across a wide dreary plateau, when he saw 
two eagles worrying and pouncing on a prong-buck seem- 
ingly a yearling. It made a gallant fight. The eagles 
hovered over it with spread wings, now and then swooping 
down, their talons out-thrust, to strike at the head, or to 
try to settle on the loins. The antelope reared and struck 
with hoofs and horns like a goat ; but its strength was 
failing rapidly, and doubtless it would have succumbed in 
the end had not the approach of the ranchman driven off 
the marauders. 

I have likewise heard stories of eagles attacking 
badgers, foxes, bob-cats, and coyotes ; but I am inclined 
to think all such cases exceptional. I have never myself 
seen an eagle assail anything bigger than a fawn, lamb, 
kid, or jack-rabbit. It also swoops at geese, sage fowl, 
and prairie fowl. On one occasion while riding over the 
range I witnessed an attack on a jack-rabbit. The eagle 
was soaring overhead, and espied the jack while the latter 
was crouched motionless. Instantly the great bird rushed 
down through the humming air, with closed wings ; 
checked itself when some forty yards above the jack, 
hovered for a moment, and again fell like a bolt. Away 
went long-ears, running as only a frightened jack can ; 
and after him the eagle, not with the arrowy rush of its 
descent from high air, but with eager, hurried flapping. 
In a short time it had nearly overtaken the fugitive, when 
the latter dodged sharply to one side, and the eagle over- 



72 The Wilderness Hunter. 

shot it precisely as a grayhound would have done, 
stopping itself by a powerful, setting motion of the great 
pinions. Twice this manoeuvre was repeated ; then the 
eagle made a quick rush, caught and overthrew the quarry 
before it could turn, and in another moment was sitting 
triumphant on the quivering body, the crooked talons 
driven deep into the soft, furry sides. 

Once while hunting mountain sheep in the Bad Lands I 
killed an eagle on the wing with the rifle. I was walking 
beneath a cliff of gray clay, when the eagle sailed into 
view over the crest. As soon as he saw me he threw his 
wings aback, and for a moment before wheeling poised 
motionless, offering a nearly stationary target ; so that 
my bullet grazed his shoulder, and down he came through 
the air, tumbling over and over. As he struck the 
ground he threw himself on his back, and fought against 
his death with the undaunted courage proper to his 
brave and cruel nature. 

Indians greatly prize the feathers of this eagle. With 
them they make their striking and beautiful war bonnets, 
and bedeck the manes and tails of their spirited war 
ponies. Every year the Grosventres and Mandans from 
the Big Missouri come to the neighborhood of my ranch 
to hunt. Though not good marksmen they kill many 
whitetail deer, driving the bottoms for them in bands, on 
horseback ; and they catch many eagles. Sometimes 
they take these alive by exposing a bait near which a hole 
is dug, where one of them lies hidden for days, with 
Indian patience, until an eagle lights on the bait and is 
noosed. 



On the Cattle Ranges. 73 

Even eagles are far less dangerous enemies to antelope 
than are wolves and coyotes. These beasts are always 
prowling round the bands, to snap up the sick or unwary ; 
and in spring they revel in carnage of the kids and fawns. 
They are not swift enough to overtake the grown animals 
by sheer speed ; but they are superior in endurance, and 
especially in winter, often run them down in fair chase. 
A prong-buck is a plucky little beast, and when cornered 
it often makes a gallant, though not a very effectual, fight. 





CHAPTER V. 

HUNTING THE PRONG-BUCK ; FROST, FIRE, AND THIRST. 



AS with all other American game man is a worse 
foe to the prong-horns than all their brute 
enemies combined. They hold their own much 
better than the bigger game ; on the whole even better 
than the blacktail ; but their numbers have been wofully 
thinned, and in many places they have been com- 
pletely exterminated. The most exciting method of chas- 
ing them is on horseback with grayhounds ; but they are 
usually killed with the rifle. Owing to the open nature 
of the ground they frequent the shots must generally be 
taken at long range ; hence this kind of hunting is pre- 
eminently that needing judgment of distance and skill in 
the use of the long-range rifle at stationary objects. On 
the other hand the antelope are easily seen, making no 
effort to escape observation, as deer do, and are so curious 
that in very wild districts to this day they can sometimes 
be tolled within rifle shot by the judicious waving of a 
red flag. In consequence, a good many very long, but 
tempting, shots can be obtained. More cartridges are 
used, relatively to the amount of game killed, on antelope, 
than in any other hunting. 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 75 

Often I have killed prong-bucks while riding between 
the outlying line camps, which are usually stationed ~a 
dozen miles or so back from the river, where the Bad 
Lands melt into the prairie. In continually trying long 
shots, of course one occasionally makes a remarkable hit. 
Once I remember while riding down a broad, shallow 
coulie with two of my cow-hands Seawell and Dow, 
both keen hunters and among the staunchest friends I 
have ever had, rousing a band of antelope which stood 
irresolute at about a hundred yards until I killed one. 
Then they dashed off, and I missed one shot, but with my 
next, to my own utter astonishment, killed the last of the 
band, a big buck, just as he topped a rise four hundred 
yards away. To offset such shots I have occasionally 
made an unaccountable miss. Once I was hunting with 
the same two men, on a rainy day, when we came on a 
bunch of antelope some seventy yards off, lying down on 
the side of a coulie, to escape the storm. They huddled 
together a moment to gaze, and, with stiffened fingers I 
took a shot, my yellow oilskin slicker flapping around me 
in the wind and rain. Down went one buck, and away 
went the others. One of my men walked up to the fallen 
beast, bent over it, and then asked, " Where did you aim ? " 
Not reassured by the question, I answered doubtfully, 
" Behind the shoulder " ; whereat he remarked drily, " Well, 
you hit it in the eye ! " I never did know whether I killed 
the antelope I aimed at or another. Yet that same day I 
killed three more bucks at decidedly long shots ; at the 
time we lacked meat at the ranch, and were out to make 
a good killing. 



76 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Besides their brute and human foes, the prong-horn 
must also fear the elements, and especially the snows of 
winter. On the northern plains the cold weather is of 
polar severity, and turns the green, grassy prairies of mid- 
summer into ironbound wastes. The blizzards whirl 
and sweep across them with a shrieking fury which 
few living things may face. The snow is like fine ice 
dust, and the white waves glide across the grass with a 
stealthy, crawling motion which has in it something sinister 
and cruel. Accordingly, as the bright fall weather passes, 
and the dreary winter draws nigh, when the days shorten, 
and the nights seem interminable, and gray storms lower 
above the gray horizon, the antelope gather in bands and 
seek sheltered places, where they may abide through the 
winter-time of famine and cold and deep snow. Some of 
these bands travel for many hundred miles, going and re- 
turning over the same routes, swimming rivers, crossing 
prairies, and threading their way through steep defiles. 
Such bands make their winter home in places like the 
Black Hills, or similar mountainous regions, where the 
shelter and feed are good, and where in consequence ante- 
lope have wintered in countless thousands for untold gen- 
erations. Other bands do not travel for any very great 
distance, but seek some sheltered grassy table-land in the 
Bad Lands, or some well-shielded valley, where their in- 
stinct and experience teach them that the snow does not lie 
deep in winter. Once having chosen such a place they 
stand much persecution before leaving it. 

One December, an old hunter whom I knew told me 
that such a band was wintering a few miles from a camp 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 77 

where two line-riders of the W Bar brand were stationed ; 
and I made up my mind to ride thither and kill a couple. 
The line camp was twenty miles from my ranch ; the shack 
in which the old hunter lived was midway between, and I 
had to stop there to find out the exact lay of the land. 

At dawn, before our early breakfast, I saddled a tough, 
shaggy sorrel horse ; hastening in-doors as soon as the job 
was over, to warm my numbed fingers. After breakfast I 
started, muffled in my wolf-skin coat, with beaver-fur cap, 
gloves, and shaps, and great felt over-shoes. The wind- 
less air was bitter cold, the thermometer showing well 
below zero. Snow lay on the ground, leaving bare patches 
here and there, but drifted deep in the hollows. Under 
the steel-blue heavens the atmosphere had a peculiar glint 
as if filled with myriads of tiny crystals. As I crossed 
the frozen river, immediately in front of the ranch house, 
the strangely carved tops of the bluffs were reddening 
palely in the winter sunrise. Prairie fowl were perched 
in the bare cottonwoods along the river brink, showing 
large in the leafless branches ; they called and clucked to 
one another. 

Where the ground was level and the snow not too deep 
I loped, and before noon I reached the sheltered coulie 
where, with long poles and bark, the hunter had built his 
tepee wigwam, as eastern woodsmen would have called 
it. It stood in a loose grove of elms and box-alders ; 
from the branches of the nearest trees hung saddles of 
frozen venison. The smoke rising from the funnel-shaped 
top of the tepee showed that there was more fire than 
usual within ; it is easy to keep a good tepee warm, though 



78 The Wilderness Hunter. 

it is so smoky that no one therein can stand upright. As 
I drew rein the skin door was pushed aside, and the hard 
old face and dried, battered body of the hunter appeared. 
He greeted me with a surly nod, and a brief request to 
"light and hev somethin' to eat"- the invariable proffer 
of hospitality on the plains. He wore a greasy buckskin 
shirt or tunic, and an odd cap of badger skin, from beneath 
which strayed his tangled hair ; age, rheumatism, and the 
many accidents and incredible fatigue, hardship, and ex- 
posure of his past life had crippled him, yet he still pos- 
sessed great power of endurance, and in his seamed 
weather-scarred face his eyes burned fierce and piercing as 
a hawk's. Ever since early manhood he had wandered 
over the plains, hunting and trapping ; he had waged 
savage private war against half the Indian tribes of the 
north ; and he had wedded wives in each of the tribes of 
the other half. A few years before this time the great 
buffalo herds had vanished, and the once swarming beaver 
had shared the same fate ; the innumerable horses and 
horned stock of the cattlemen, and the daring rough riders 
of the ranches, had supplanted alike the game and the red 
and white wanderers who had followed it with such fierce 
rivalry. When the change took place the old fellow, with 
failing bodily powers, found his life-work over. He had 
little taste for the career of the desperado, horse-thief, 
highwayman, and man-killer, which not a few of the old 
buffalo hunters adopted when their legitimate occupation 
was gone ; he scorned still more the life of vicious and 
idle semi-criminality led by others of his former com- 
panions who were of weaker mould. Yet he could not do 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 79 

regular work. His existence had been one of excitement, 
adventure, and restless roaming, when it was not passed in 
lazy ease ; his times of toil and peril varied by fits of 
brutal revelry. He had no kin, no ties of any kind. He 
would accept no help, for his wants were very few, and he 
was utterly self-reliant. He got meat, clothing, and bed- 
ding from the antelope and deer he killed ; the spare hides 
and venison he bartered for what little else he needed. So 
he built him his tepee in one of the most secluded parts 
of the Bad Lands, where he led the life of a solitary 
hunter, awaiting in grim loneliness the death which he 
knew to be near at hand. 

I unsaddled and picketed my horse, and followed the 
old hunter into his smoky tepee ; sat down on the pile of 
worn buffalo robes which formed his bedding, and waited 
in silence while he fried some deer meat, and boiled some 
coffee he was out of flour. As I ate, he gradually unbent 
and talked quite freely, and before I left he told me exactly 
where to find the band, which he assured me was located 
for the winter, and would not leave unless much harried. 

After a couple of hours' rest I again started, and 
pushed out to the end of the Bad Lands. Here, as there 
had been no wind, I knew I should find in the snow the 
tracks of one of the riders from the line camp, whose 
beat lay along the edge of the prairie for some eight miles, 
until it met the beat of a rider from the line camp next 
above. As nightfall came on it grew even colder ; long 
icicles hung from the lips of my horse ; and I shivered 
slightly in my fur coat. I had reckoned the distance ill, 
and it was dusk when I struck the trail ; but my horse at 



8o The Wilderness Hunter. 

once turned along it of his own accord and began to lope. 
Half an hour later I saw through the dark what looked 
like a spark on the side of a hill. Toward this my horse 
turned ; and in another moment a whinneying from in 
front showed I was near the camp. The light was shining 
through a small window, the camp itself being a dugout 
with a log roof and front a kind of frontier building 
always warm in winter. After turning my horse into the 
rough log stable with the horses of the two cowboys, I 
joined the latter at supper inside the dugout ; being re- 
ceived of course with hearty cordiality. After the intense 
cold outside the warmth within was almost oppressive, for 
the fire was roaring in the big stone fireplace. The bunks 
were broad ; my two friends turned into one, and I was 
given the other, with plenty of bedding ; so that my sleep 
was sound. 

We had breakfasted and saddled our horses and were 
off by dawn next morning. My companions, muf- 
fled in furs, started in opposite directions to ride their 
lonely beats, while I steered for my hunting-ground. It 
was a lowering and gloomy day ; at sunrise pale, lurid 
sundogs hung in the glimmering mist ; gusts of wind 
moaned through the ravines. 

At last I reached a row of bleak hills, and from a 
ridge looked cautiously down on the chain of plateaus, 
where I had been told I should see the antelope. Sure 
enough, there they were, to the number of several hun- 
dred, scattered over the level snow-streaked surface of the 
nearest and largest plateau, greedily cropping the thick, 
short grass. Leaving my horse tied in a hollow I speedily 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 81 

stalked up a coulie to within a hundred yards of the near- 
est band and killed a good buck. Instantly all the ante 
lope in sight ran together into a thick mass and raced 
away from me, until they went over the opposite edge of 
the plateau ; but almost as soon as they did so they were 
stopped by deep drifts of powdered snow, and came back 
to the summit of the table-land. They then circled round 
the edge at a gallop, and finally broke madly by me, jostling 
one another in their frantic haste and crossed by a small 
ridge into the next plateau beyond ; as they went by I 
shot a yearling. 

I now had all the venison I wished, and would shoot 
no more, but I was curious to see how the antelope would 
act, and so walked after them. They ran about half a mile, 
and then the whole herd, of several hundred individuals, 
wheeled into line fronting me, like so many cavalry, and 
stood motionless, the white and brown bands on their necks 
looking like the facings on a uniform. As I walked near 
they again broke and rushed to the end of the valley. 
Evidently they feared to leave the flats for the broken 
country beyond, where the rugged hills were riven by 
gorges, in some of which snow lay deep even thus early in 
the season. Accordingly, after galloping a couple of times 
round the valley, they once more broke by me, at short 
range, and tore back along the plateaus to that on which 
I had first found them. Their evident and extreme re- 
luctance to venture into the broken country round about 
made me readily understand the tales I had heard of game 
butchers killing over a hundred individuals at a time out 
of a herd so situated. 



82 The Wilderness Hunter. 

I walked back to my game, dressed it, and lashed the 
saddles and hams behind me on my horse ; I had chosen 
old Sorrel Joe for the trip because he was strong, tough, 
and quiet. Then I started for the ranch, keeping to the 
prairie as long as I could, because there the going was 
easier ; sometimes I rode, sometimes I ran on foot leading 
Sorrel Joe. 

Late in the afternoon, as I rode over a roll in the 
prairie I saw ahead of me a sight very unusual at that 
season ; a small emigrant train going westward. There 
were three white-topped prairie schooners, containing the 
household goods, the tow-headed children, and the hard- 
faced, bony women ; the tired horses were straining 
wearily in the traces ; the bearded, moody men walked 
alongside. They had been belated by sickness, and the 
others of their company had gone ahead to take up claims 
along the Yellowstone ; now they themselves were push- 
ing forward in order to reach the holdings of their friends 
before the first deep snows stopped all travel. They had 
no time to halt ; for there were still two or three miles to 
go that evening before they could find a sheltered resting- 
place with fuel, grass, and water. A little while after pass- 
ing them I turned in the saddle and looked back. The 
lonely little train stood out sharply on the sky-line, the 
wagons looming black against the cold red west as they 
toiled steadily onward across the snowy plain. 

Night soon fell ; but I cared little, for I was on ground 
I knew. The old horse threaded his way at a lope along 
the familiar game trails and cattle paths ; in a couple of 
hours I caught the gleam from the firelit windows of the 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 83 

ranch house. No man who, for his good-fortune, has at 
times in his life endured toil and hardship, ever fails^to 
appreciate the strong elemental pleasures of rest after 
labor, food after hunger, warmth and shelter after bitter 
cold. 

So much for the winter hunting. But in the fall, 
when the grass is dry as tinder, the antelope hunter, like 
other plainsmen, must sometimes face fire instead of frost. 
Fire is one of the most dreaded enemies of the ranchmen 
on the cattle ranges ; and fighting a big prairie fire is a 
work of extraordinary labor, and sometimes of danger. 
The line of flame, especially when seen at night, undulat- 
ing like a serpent, is very beautiful ; though it lacks the 
terror and grandeur of the great forest fires. 

One October, Ferguson and I, with one of the cow- 
hands, and a friend from the East, took the wagon for an 
antelope hunt in the broken country between the Little 
Missouri and the Beaver. The cowboy drove the wagon 
to a small spring, near some buttes which are well distin- 
guished by a number of fossil tree-stumps ; while the rest 
of us, who were mounted on good horses, made a circle 
after antelope. We found none, and rode on to camp, 
reaching it about the middle of the afternoon. We had 
noticed several columns of smoke in the southeast, show- 
ing that prairie fires were under way ; but we thought 
that they were too far off to endanger our camp, and ac- 
cordingly unsaddled our horses and sat down to a dinner 
of bread, beans, and coffee. Before we were through the 
smoke began to pour over a ridge a mile distant in 
such quantities that we ran thither with our slickers, 



84 The Wilderness Hunter. 

hoping to find some stretch of broken ground where the 
grass was sparse, and where we could fight the fire with 
effect. Our hopes were vain. Before we reached the 
ridge the fire came over its crest, and ran down in a long 
tongue between two scoria buttes. Here the grass was 
quite short and thin, and we did our best to beat out the 
flames ; but they gradually gained on us, and as they 
reached the thicker grass lower down the slope, they 
began to roar and dart forward in a way that bade us pay 
heed to our own safety. Finally they reached a winding 
line of brushwood in the bottom of the coulie ; and as 
this burst into a leaping blaze we saw it was high time 
to look to the safety of our camp, and ran back to it at 
top speed. Ferguson, who had been foremost in fighting 
the fire, was already scorched and blackened. 

We were camped on the wagon trail which leads along 
the divide almost due south to Sentinel Butte. The line 
of fire was fanned by a southeasterly breeze, and was 
therefore advancing diagonally to the divide. If we could 
drive the wagon southward on the trail in time to get it 
past the fire before the latter reached the divide, we would 
be to windward of the flames, and therefore in safety. 
Accordingly, while the others were hastily harnessing the 
team, and tossing the bedding and provisions into the 
wagon, I threw the saddle on my horse, and galloped 
down the trail, to see if there was yet time to adopt this 
expedient. I soon found that there was not. Half a 
mile from camp the trail dipped into a deep coulie, where 
fair-sized trees and dense undergrowth made a long wind- 
ing row of brush and timber. The trail led right under 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 85 

the trees at the upper end of this coulie. As I galloped 
by I saw that the fire had struck the trees a quarter of a 
mile below me ; in the dried timber it instantly sprang 
aloft like a giant, and roared in a thunderous monotone 
as it swept up the coulie. I galloped to the hill ridge 
ahead, saw that the fire line had already reached the 
divide, and turned my horse sharp on his haunches. As I 
again passed under the trees, the fire, running like a race- 
horse in the brush, had reached the road ; its breath was 
hot in my face ; tongues of quivering flame leaped over 
my head and kindled the grass on the hillside fifty 
yards away. 

When I got back to camp Ferguson had taken meas- 
ures for the safety of the wagon. He had moved it across 
the coulie, which at this point had a wet bottom, making 
a bar to the progress of the flames until they had time to 
work across lower down. Meanwhile we fought to keep 
the fire from entering a well-grassed space on the hither 
side of the coulie, between it and a row of scoria buttes. 
Favored by a streak of clay ground, where the grass was 
sparse, we succeeded in beating out the flame as it reached 
this clay streak, and again beating it out when it ran 
round the buttes and began to back up towards us against 
the wind. Then we recrossed the coulie with the wagon, 
before the fire swept up the farther side ; and so, when 
the flames passed by, they left us camped on a green oasis 
in the midst of a charred, smoking desert. We thus 
saved some good grazing for our horses. 

But our fight with the fire had only begun. No stock- 
man will see a fire waste the range and destroy the winter 



86 The Wilderness Hunter. 

feed of the stock without spending every ounce of his 
strength in the effort to put a stop to its ravages even 
when, as in our case, the force of men and horses at 
hand is so small as to offer only the very slenderest hope 
of success. 

We set about the task in the way customary in the 
cattle country. It is impossible for any but a very large 
force to make head against a prairie fire while there is any 
wind ; but the wind usually fails after nightfall, and 
accordingly the main fight is generally waged during the 
hours of darkness. 

Before dark we drove to camp and shot a stray steer, 
and then split its carcass in two lengthwise with an axe. 
After sundown the wind lulled ; and we started towards 
the line of fire, which was working across a row of broken 
grassy hills, three quarters of a mile distant. Two of us 
were on horseback, dragging a half carcass, bloody side 
down, by means of ropes leading from our saddle-horns 
to the fore and hind legs ; the other two followed on foot 
with slickers and wet saddle blankets. There was a red- 
dish glow in the night air, and the waving, bending lines 
of flame showed in great bright curves against the hill- 
sides ahead of us. 

When we reached them, we found the fire burning in 
a long, continuous line. It was not making rapid head- 
way, for the air was still, and the flames stood upright, 
two or three feet high. Lengthening the ropes, one of 
us spurred his horse across the fire line and then, wheel- 
ing, we dragged the carcass along it ; one horseman being 
on the burnt ground, and one on the unburnt grass, while 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 87 

the body of the steer lay lengthwise across the line. The 
weight and the blood smothered the fire as we twitched 
the carcass over the burning grass ; and the two men fol- 
lowing behind with their blankets and slickers readily 
beat out any isolated tufts of flame. 

The fire made the horses wild, and it was not always 
easy to manage both them and the ropes, so as to keep 
the carcass true on the line. Sometimes there would be 
a slight puff of wind, and then the man on the grass side 
of the line ran the risk of a scorching. We were blackened 
with smoke, and the taut ropes hurt our thighs ; while at 
times the plunging horses tried to buck or bolt. It was 
worse when we came to some deep gully or ravine, break- 
ing the line of fire. Into this we of course had to plunge, 
so as to get across to the fire on the other side. After 
the glare of the flame the blackness of the ravine was 
Stygian ; we could see nothing, and simply spurred our 
horses into it anywhere, taking our chances. Down we 
would go, stumbling, sliding, and pitching, over cut banks 
and into holes and bushes, while the carcass bounded 
behind, now catching on a stump, and now fetching loose 
with a "pluck" that brought it full on the horses' 
haunches, driving them nearly crazy with fright. The pull 
up the opposite bank was, if anything, worse. 

By midnight the half carcass was worn through ; but 
we had stifled the fire in the comparatively level country 
to the eastwards. Back we went to camp, drank huge 
draughts of muddy water, devoured roast ox-ribs, and 
dragged out the other half carcass to fight the fire on the 
west. But after hours of wearing labor we found our- 



88 The Wilderness Hunter. 

selves altogether baffled by the exceeding roughness of 
the ground. There was some little risk to us who were on 
horseback, dragging the carcass ; we had to feel our way 
along knife-like ridges in the dark, one ahead and the 
other behind, while the steer dangled over the precipice 
on one side ; and in going down the buttes and into the 
canyons only by extreme care could we avoid getting 
tangled in the ropes and rolling down in a heap. More- 
over the fire was in such rough places that the carcass 
could not be twitched fairly over it, and so we could not 
put it out. Before dawn we were obliged to abandon 
our fruitless efforts and seek camp, stiffened and weary. 
From a hill we looked back through the pitchy night at 
the fire we had failed to conquer. It had been broken 
into many lines by the roughness of the chasm-strewn and 
hilly country. Of these lines of flame some were in ad- 
vance, some behind, some rushing forward in full blast 
and fury, some standing still ; here and there one wheel- 
ing towards a flank, or burning in a semicircle, round an 
isolated hill. Some of the lines were flickering out ; gaps 
were showing in others. In the darkness it looked like 
the rush of a mighty army, bearing triumphantly onwards, 
in spite of a resistance so stubborn as to break its forma- 
tion into many fragments and cause each one of them to 
wage its own battle for victory or defeat. 

On the wide plains where the prong-buck dwells the 
hunter must sometimes face thirst, as well as fire and frost. 
The only time I ever really suffered from thirst was while 
hunting prong-buck. 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 89 

It was late in the summer. I was with the ranch wagon 
on the way to join a round-up, and as we were out of meat 
I started for a day's hunt. Before leaving in the morning 
I helped to haul the wagon across the river. It was for- 
tunate I stayed, as it turned out. There was no regular 
ford where we made the crossing ; we anticipated no 
trouble, as the water was very low, the season being dry. 
However, we struck a quicksand, in which the wagon 
settled, while the frightened horses floundered helplessly. 
All the riders at once got their ropes on the wagon, and 
hauling from the saddle, finally pulled it through. This 
took time ; and it was ten o'clock when I rode away from 
the river, at which my horse and I had just drunk our 
last drink for over twenty-four hours as it turned out. 

After two or three hours' ride, up winding coulies, and 
through the scorched desolation of patches of Bad Lands, 
I reached the rolling prairie. The heat and drought had 
long burned the short grass dull brown ; the bottoms of 
what had been pools were covered with hard, dry, cracked 
earth. The day was cloudless, and the heat oppressive. 
There were many antelope, but I got only one shot, 
breaking a buck's leg ; and though I followed it for a 
couple of hours I could not overtake it. By this time it 
was late in the afternoon, and I was far away from the 
river ; so I pushed for a creek, in the bed of which I had 
always found pools of water, especially towards the head, 
as is usual with plains watercourses. To my chagrin, 
however, they all proved to be dry ; and though I rode 
up the creek bed toward the head, carefully searching for 



90 The Wilderness Hunter. 

any sign of water, night closed on me before I found any. 
For two or three hours I stumbled on, leading my horse, 
in my fruitless search ; then a tumble over a cut bank in 
the dark warned me that I might as well stay where I was 
for the rest of the warm night. Accordingly I unsaddled 
the horse, and tied him to a sage brush ; after awhile he 
began to feed on the dewy grass. At first I was too 
thirsty to sleep. Finally I fell into slumber, and when 
I awoke at dawn I felt no thirst. For an hour or two 
more I continued my search for water in the creek bed ; 
then abandoned it and rode straight for the river. By 
the time we reached it my thirst had come back with re- 
doubled force, my mouth was parched, and the horse was 
in quite as bad a plight ; we rushed down to the brink, and 
it seemed as if we could neither of us ever drink our fill 
of the tepid, rather muddy water. Of course this expe- 
rience was merely unpleasant ; thirst is not a source of 
real danger in the plains country proper, whereas in the 
hideous deserts that extend from southern Idaho through 
Utah and Nevada to Arizona, it ever menaces with death 
the hunter and explorer. 

In the plains the weather is apt to be in extremes ; 
the heat is tropical, the cold arctic, and the droughts are 
relieved by furious floods. These are generally most 
severe and lasting in the spring, after the melting of the 
snow ; and fierce local freshets follow the occasional cloud- 
bursts. The large rivers then become wholly impassable, 
and even the smaller are formidable obstacles. It is not 
easy to get cattle across a swollen stream, where the 
current runs like a turbid mill-race over the bed of shift- 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 91 

ing quicksand. Once five of us took a thousand head of 
trail steers across the Little Missouri when the river was 
up, and it was no light task. The muddy current was 
boiling past the banks, covered with driftwood and foul 
yellow froth, and the frightened cattle shrank from enter- 
ing it. At last, by hard riding, with much loud shouting 
and swinging of ropes, we got the leaders in, and the 
whole herd followed. After them we went in our turn, 
the horses swimming at one moment, and the next stag- 
gering and floundering through the quicksand. I was 
riding my pet cutting horse, Muley, which has the pro- 
voking habit of making great bounds where the water is 
just not deep enough for swimming ; once he almost 
unseated me. Some of the cattle were caught by the 
currents and rolled over and over ; most of these we 
were able, with the help of our ropes, to put on their 
feet again ; only one was drowned, or rather choked in 
a quicksand. Many swam down stream, and in conse- 
quence struck a difficult landing, where the river ran 
under a cut bank ; these we had to haul out with our 
ropes. Both men and horses were well tired by the 
time the whole herd was across. 

Although I have often had a horse down in quick- 
sand, or in crossing a swollen river, and have had 
to work hard to save him, I have never myself lost 
one under such circumstances. Yet once I saw the 
horse of one of my men drown under him directly in 
front of the ranch house, while he was trying to cross 
the river. This was in early spring, soon after the ice 
had broken. 



92 The Wilderness Hunter. 

When making long wagon trips over the great plains, 
antelope often offer the only source of meat supply, save 
for occasional water fowl, sage fowl, and prairie fowl 
the sharp-tailed prairie fowl, be it understood. This is 
the characteristic grouse of the cattle country ; the true 
prairie fowl is a bird of the farming land farther east. 

Towards the end of the summer of '92 I found it 
necessary to travel from my ranch to the Black Hills, 
some two hundred miles south. The ranch wagon went 
with me, driven by an all-round plainsman, a man of iron 
nerves and varied past, the sheriff of our county. He 
was an old friend of mine ; at one time I had served as 
deputy-sheriff for the northern end of the county. In 
the wagon we carried our food and camp kit, and our 
three rolls of bedding, each wrapped in a thick, nearly 
waterproof canvas sheet ; we had a tent, but we never 
needed it. The load being light, the wagon was drawn 
by but a span of horses, a pair of wild runaways, tough, 
and good travellers. My foreman and I rode beside the 
wagon on our wiry, unkempt, unshod cattle-ponies. They 
carried us all day at a rack, pace, single-foot or slow lope, 
varied by rapid galloping when we made long circles after 
game ; the trot, the favorite gait with eastern park-riders, 
is disliked by all peoples who have to do much of their 
life-work in the saddle. 

The first day's ride was not attractive. The heat was 
intense and the dust stifling, as we had to drive some 
loose horses for the first few miles, and afterwards to ride 
up and down the sandy river bed, where the cattle had 
gathered, to look over some young steers we had put on 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 93 

the range the preceding spring. When we did camp it 
was by a pool of stagnant water, in a creek bottom, and 
the mosquitoes were a torment. Nevertheless, as even- 
ing fell, it was pleasant to climb a little knoll nearby and 
gaze at the rows of strangely colored buttes, grass-clad, 
or of bare earth and scoria, their soft reds and purples 
showing as through a haze, and their irregular outlines 
gradually losing their sharpness in the fading twilight. 

Next morning the weather changed, growing cooler, 
and we left the tangle of ravines and Bad Lands, striking 
out across the vast sea-like prairies. Hour after hour, 
under the bright sun, the wagon drew slowly ahead, over 
the immense rolling stretches of short grass, dipping 
down each long slope until it reached the dry, imperfectly 
outlined creek bed at the bottom, wholly devoid of 
water and without so much as a shrub of wood, and 
then ascending the gentle rise on the other side until at 
last it topped the broad divide, or watershed, beyond 
which lay the shallow winding coulies of another creek 
system. From each rise of ground we looked far and 
wide over the sunlit prairie, with its interminable undu- 
lations. The sicklebill curlews which in spring, while 
breeding, hover above the travelling horseman with cease- 
less clamor, had for the most part gone southward. We 
saw only one small party of half a dozen birds ; they paid 
little heed to us, but piped to one another, making short 
flights, and on alighting stood erect, first spreading and 
then folding and setting their wings with a slow, graceful 
motion. Little horned larks continually ran along the 
ruts of the faint wagon track, just ahead of the team, and 



94 The Wilderness Hunter. 

twittered plaintively as they rose, while flocks of long- 
spurs swept hither and thither, in fitful, irregular flight. 

My foreman and I usually rode far off to one side of 
the wagon, looking out for antelope. Of these we at first 
saw few, but they grew more plentiful as we journeyed 
onward, approaching a big scantily wooded creek, where 
I had found the prong-horn abundant in previous seasons. 
They were very wary and watchful whether going singly 
or in small parties, and the lay of the land made it exceed- 
ingly difficult to get within range. The last time I had 
hunted in this neighborhood was in the fall, at the height 
of the rutting season. Prong-bucks, even more than other 
game, seem fairly maddened by erotic excitement. At 
the time of my former hunt they were in ceaseless motion ; 
each master buck being incessantly occupied in herding 
his harem, and fighting would-be rivals, while single bucks 
chased single does as greyhounds chase hares, or else, if 
no does were in sight, from sheer excitement ran to and 
fro as if crazy, racing at full speed in one direction, then 
halting, wheeling, and tearing back again just as hard as 
they could go. 

At this time, however, the rut was still some weeks 
off, and all the bucks had to do was to feed and keep a 
look-out for enemies. Try my best, I could not get 
within less than four or five hundred yards, and though I 
took a number of shots at these, or at even longer, dis- 
tances, I missed. If a man is out merely for a day's hunt, 
and has all the time he wishes, he will not scare the game 
and waste cartridges by shooting at such long ranges, 
preferring to spend half a day or more in patient waiting 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 95 

and careful stalking ; but if he is travelling, and is there- 
fore cramped for time, he must take his chances, even_at 
the cost of burning a good deal of powder. 

I was finally helped to success by a characteristic 
freak of the game I was following. No other animals are 
as keen-sighted, or are normally as wary as prong-horns ; 
but no others are so whimsical and odd in their behavior 
at times, or so subject to fits of the most stupid curiosity 
and panic. Late in the afternoon, on topping a rise I 
saw two good bucks racing off about three hundred yards 
to one side ; I sprang to the ground, and fired three shots 
at them in vain, as they ran like quarter-horses until they 
disappeared over a slight swell. In a minute, however, 
back they came, suddenly appearing over the crest of the 
same swell, immediately in front of me, and, as I after- 
wards found by pacing, some three hundred and thirty 
yards away. They stood side by side facing me, and re- 
mained motionless, unheeding the crack of the Win- 
chester ; I aimed at the right-hand one, but a front shot 
of the kind, at such a distance, is rather difficult, and it 
was not until I fired for the fourth time that he sank back 
out of sight. I could not tell whether I had killed him, 
and took two shots at his mate, as the latter went off, but 
without effect. Running forward, I found the first one 
dead, the bullet having gone through him lengthwise ; the 
other did not seem satisfied even yet, and kept hanging 
round in the distance for some minutes, looking at us. 

I had thus bagged one prong-buck, as the net outcome 
of the expenditure of fourteen cartridges. This was 
certainly not good shooting ; but neither was it as bad as 



96 The Wilderness Hunter. 

it would seem to the man inexperienced in antelope hunt- 
ing. When fresh meat is urgently needed, and when 
time is too short, the hunter who is after antelope in an 
open flattish country must risk many long shots. In no 
other kind of hunting is there so much long-distance shoot- 
ing, or so many shots fired for every head of game bagged. 
Throwing the buck into the wagon we continued our 
journey across the prairie, no longer following any road, 
and before sunset jolted down towards the big creek for 
which we had been heading. There were many water-holes 
therein, and timber of considerable size ; box alder and 
ash grew here and there in clumps and fringes, beside the 
serpentine curves of the nearly dry torrent bed, the growth 
being thickest under the shelter of the occasional low bluffs. 
We drove down to a heavily grassed bottom, near a deep, 
narrow pool, with, at one end, that rarest of luxuries in the 
plains country, a bubbling spring of pure, cold water. With 
plenty of wood, delicious water, ample feed for the horses, 
and fresh meat we had every comfort and luxury incident 
to camp life in good weather. The bedding was tossed 
out on a smooth spot beside the wagon ; the horses were 
watered and tethered to picket pins where the feed was 
best ; water was fetched from the spring ; a deep hole was 
dug for the fire, and the grass roundabout carefully burned 
off ; and in a few moments the bread was baking in the 
Dutch oven, the potatoes were boiling, antelope steaks were 
sizzling in the frying-pan, and the kettle was ready for 
the tea. After supper, eaten with the relish known well 
to every hard-working and successful hunter, we sat for 
half an hour or so round the fire, and then turned in 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 97 

under the blankets, pulled the tarpaulins over us, and lis- 
tened drowsily to the wailing of the coyotes until we fell 
sound asleep. 

We determined to stay in this camp all day, so as to 
try and kill another prong-buck, as we would soon be past 
the good hunting grounds. I did not have to go far 
for my game next morning, for soon after breakfast, while 
sitting on my canvas bag cleaning my rifle, the sheriff 
suddenly called to me that a bunch of antelope were 
coming towards us. Sure enough there they were, four 
in number, rather over half a mile off, on the first bench 
of the prairie, two or three hundred yards back from the 
creek, leisurely feeding in our direction. In a minute or 
two they were out of sight, and I instantly ran along the 
creek towards them for a quarter of a mile, and then 
crawled up a short shallow coulie, close to the head of 
which they seemed likely to pass. When nearly at the 
end I cautiously raised my hatless head, peered through 
some straggling weeds, and at once saw the horns of the 
buck. He was a big fellow, about a hundred and twenty 
yards off; the others, a doe and two kids, were in front. 
As I lifted myself on my elbows he halted and turned his 
raised head towards me ; the sunlight shone bright on 
his supple, vigorous body with its markings of sharply 
contrasted brown and white. I pulled trigger, and away 
he went ; but I could see that his race was nearly run, 
and he fell after going a few hundred yards. 

Soon after this a wind storm blew up so violent that 
we could hardly face it. In the late afternoon it died 
away, and I again walked out to hunt, but saw only does 



98 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and kids, at which I would not shoot. As the sun set, 
leaving bars of amber and pale red in the western sky, 
the air became absolutely calm. In the waning evening 
the low, far-off ridges were touched with a violet light ; 
then the hues grew sombre, and still darkness fell on the 
lonely prairie. 

Next morning we drove to the river, and kept near it 
for several days, most of the time following the tracks 
made by the heavy wagons accompanying the trail herds 
this being one of the regular routes followed by the 
great throng of slow-moving cattle yearly driven from the 
south. At other times we made our own road. Twice 
or thrice we passed ranch houses ; the men being absent 
on the round-up they were shut, save one which was 
inhabited by two or three lean Texan cow-punchers, with 
sun-burned faces and reckless eyes, who had come up with 
a trail herd from the Cherokee strip. Once, near the old 
Sioux crossing, where the Dakota war bands used to 
ford the river on their forays against the Crows and the 
settlers along the Yellowstone, we met a large horse 
herd. The tough, shabby, tired-looking animals, one or 
two of which were loaded with bedding and a scanty 
supply of food, were driven by three travel-worn, hard- 
faced men, with broad hats, shaps, and long pistols in 
their belts. They had brought the herd over plain and 
mountain pass all the way from far distant Oregon. 

It was a wild, rough country, bare of trees save for 
a fringe of cottonwoods along the river, and occasional 
clumps of cedar on the jagged, brown buttes ; as we went 
farther the hills turned the color of chalk, and were 



Hunting the Prong-Buck. 99 

covered with a growth of pine. We came upon acres of 
sunflowers as we journeyed southward ; they are not as tall 
as they are in the rich bottom lands of Kansas, where the 
splendid blossoms, on their strong stalks, stand as high as 
the head of a man on horseback. 

Though there were many cattle here, big game was 
scarce. However, I killed plenty of prairie chickens and 
sage hens for the pot ; and as the sage hens were 
still feeding largely on crickets and grasshoppers, and not 
exclusively on sage, they were just as good eating as the 
prairie chickens. I used the rifle, cutting off their heads 
or necks, and, as they had to be shot on the ground, and 
often while in motion, or else while some distance away, 
it was more difficult than shooting off the heads of grouse 
in the mountains, where the birds sit motionless in trees. 
The head is a small mark, while to hit the body is usually 
to spoil the bird ; so I found that I averaged three or 
four cartridges for every head neatly taken off, the 
remaining shots representing spoiled birds and misses. 

For the last sixty or seventy miles of our trip we left 
the river and struck off across a great, desolate gumbo 
prairie. There was no game, no wood for fuel, and the 
rare water-holes were far apart, so that we were glad 
when, as we toiled across the monotonous succession of 
long, swelling ridges, the dim, cloud-like mass, looming 
vague and purple on the rim of the horizon ahead of us, 
gradually darkened and hardened into the bold outline of 
the Black Hills. 




CHAPTER VI. 

AMONG THE HIGH HILLS ; THE BIGHORN OR MOUNTAIN 

SHEEP. 

DURING the summer of 1886 I hunted chiefly to 
keep the ranch in meat. It was a very pleasant 
summer; although it was followed by the worst 
winter we ever witnessed on the plains. I was much at 
the ranch, where I had a good deal of writing to do ; but 
every week or two I left, to ride among the line camps, or 
spend a few days on any round-up which happened to be 
in the neighborhood. 

These days of vigorous work among the cattle were 
themselves full of pleasure. At dawn we were in the 
saddle, the morning air cool in our faces ; the red sunrise 
saw us loping across the grassy reaches of prairie land, or 
climbing in single file among the rugged buttes. All the 
forenoon we spent riding the long circle with the cow- 
punchers of the round-up ; in the afternoon we worked the 
herd, cutting the cattle, with much breakneck galloping 
and dextrous halting and wheeling. Then came the ex- 
citement and hard labor of roping, throwing, and branding 
the wild and vigorous range calves ; in a corral, if one was 
handy, otherwise in a ring of horsemen. Soon after night- 



100 



Among the High Hills. ior 

fall we lay down, in a log hut or tent, if at a line camp ; 
under the open sky, if with the round-up wagon. 

After ten days or so of such work, in which every 
man had to do his full share for laggards and idlers, no 
matter who, get no mercy in the real and healthy democ- 
racy of the round-up I would go back to the ranch to 
turn to my books with added zest for a fortnight. Yet 
even during these weeks at the ranch there was some 
out-door work ; for I was breaking two or three colts. I 
took my time, breaking them gradually and gently, not, 
after the usual cowboy fashion, in a hurry, by sheer main 
strength and rough riding, with the attendant danger to 
the limbs of the man and very probable ruin to the man- 
ners of the horse. We rose early ; each morning I stood 
on the low-roofed verandah, looking out under the line of 
murmuring, glossy-leaved cottonwoods, across the shallow 
river, to see the sun flame above the line of bluffs opposite. 
In the evening I strolled off for an hour or two's walk, rifle 
in hand. The roomy, homelike ranch house, with its log 
walls, shingled roof, and big chimneys and fireplaces, stands 
in a glade, in the midst of the thick forest, which covers 
half the bottom ; behind rises, bare and steep, the wall of 
peaks, ridges, and table-lands. 

During the summer in question, I once or twice shot a 
whitetail buck right on this large bottom ; once or twice I 
killed a blacktail in the hills behind, not a mile from the 
ranch house. Several times I killed and brought in prong- 
bucks, rising before dawn, and riding off on a good horse 
for an all day's hunt in the rolling prairie country twelve 
or fifteen miles away. Occasionally I took the wagon and 



Vo2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

one of the men, driving to some good hunting ground and 
spending a night or two ; usually returning with two or 
three prong-bucks, and once with an elk but this was 
later in the fall. Not infrequently I went away by myself 
on horseback for a couple of days, when all the men were 
on the round-up, and when I wished to hunt thoroughly 
some country quite a distance from the ranch. I made 
one such hunt in late August, because I happened to hear 
that a small bunch of mountain sheep were haunting a 
tract of very broken ground, with high hills, about fifteen 
miles away. 

I left the ranch early in the morning, riding my favorite 
hunting horse, old Manitou. The blanket and oilskin 
slicker were rolled and strapped behind the saddle ; for 
provisions I carried salt, a small bag of hard tack, and a 
little tea and sugar, with a metal cup in which to boil my 
water. The rifle and a score of cartridges in my woven 
belt completed my outfit. On my journey I shot two 
prairie chickens from a covey in the bottom of a brush 
coulie. 

I rode more than six hours before reaching a good spot 
to camp. At first my route lay across grassy plateaus, 
and along smooth, wooded coulies ; but after a few miles 
the ground became very rugged and difficult. At last I 
got into the heart of the Bad Lands proper, where the 
hard, wrinkled earth was torn into shapes as sullen and 
grotesque as those of dreamland. The hills rose high, 
their barren flanks carved and channelled, their tops mere 
needles and knife crests. Bands of black, red, and purple 
varied the gray and yellow-brown of their sides ; the tuixtt 



Among the High Hills. 103 

of scanty vegetation were dull green. Sometimes I rode 
my horse at the bottom of narrow washouts, between 
straight walls of clay, but a few feet apart ; sometimes I 
had to lead him as he scrambled up, down, and across the 
sheer faces of the buttes. The glare from the bare clay 
walls dazzled the eye ; the air was burning under the hot 
August sun. I saw nothing living except the rattlesnakes, 
of which there were very many. 

At last, in the midst of this devil's wilderness, I came 
on a lovely valley. A spring trickled out of a cedar 
canyon, and below this spring the narrow, deep ravine was 
green with luscious grass and was smooth for some hun- 
dred of yards. Here I unsaddled, and turned old Manitou 
loose to drink and feed at his leisure. At the edge of the 
dark cedar wood I cleared a spot for my bed, and drew a 
few dead sticks for the fire. Then I lay down and watched 
drowsily until the afternoon shadows filled the wild and 
beautiful gorge in which I was camped. This happened 
early, for the valley was very narrow and the hills on 
either hand were steep and high. 

Springing to my feet, I climbed the nearest ridge, 
and then made my way, by hard clambering, from peak 
to peak and from crest to crest, sometimes crossing and 
sometimes skirting the deep washouts and canyons. 
When possible I avoided appearing on the sky line, and 
I moved with the utmost caution, walking in a wide sweep 
so as to hunt across and up wind. There was much 
sheep sign, some of it fresh, though I saw none of the 
animals themselves ; the square slots, with the indented 
marks of the toe points wide apart, contrasting strongly 



104 The Wilderness Hunter. 

with the heart-shaped and delicate footprints of deer. 
The animals had, according to their habit, beaten trails 
along the summits of the higher crests ; little side trails 
leading to any spur, peak, or other vantage-point from 
which there was a wide outlook over the country round 
about. 

The bighorns of the Bad Lands, unlike those of the 
mountains, shift their range but little, winter or summer. 
Save in the breeding season, when each master ram gets 
together his own herd, the ewes, lambs, and yearlings are 
apt to go in bands by themselves, while the males wan- 
der in small parties ; now and then a very morose old 
fellow lives by himself, in some precipitous, out-of-the- 
way retreat. The rut begins with them much later than 
with deer ; the exact time varies with the locality, but it 
is always after the bitter winter weather has set in. Then 
the old rams fight fiercely together, and on rare occasions 
utter a long grunting bleat or call. They are marvellous 
climbers, and dwell by choice always among cliffs and 
jagged, broken ground, whether wooded or not. An old 
bighorn ram is heavier than the largest buck ; his huge, 
curved horns, massive yet supple build, and proud bear- 
ing mark him as one of the noblest beasts of the chase. 
He is wary ; great skill and caution must be shown in 
approaching him ; and no one but a good climber, with 
a steady head, sound lungs, and trained muscles, can suc- 
cessfully hunt him in his own rugged fastnesses. The 
chase of no other kind of American big game ranks higher, 
or more thoroughly tests the manliest qualities of the 
hunter. 



Among the High Hills. 105 

1 walked back to camp in the gloaming, taking care 
to reach it before it grew really dark ; for in the Bad 
Lands it is entirely impossible to travel, or to find any 
given locality, after nightfall. Old Manitou had eaten 
his fill, and looked up at me with pricked ears, and wise, 
friendly face as I climbed down the side of the cedar 
canyon ; then he came slowly towards me to see if I had 
not something for him. I rubbed his soft nose and gave 
him a cracker ; then I picketed him to a solitary cedar, 
where the feed was good. Afterwards I kindled a small 
fire, roasted both prairie fowl, ate one, and put the other 
by for breakfast ; and soon rolled myself in my blanket, 
with the saddle for a pillow, and the oilskin beneath. 
Manitou was munching the grass nearby. I lay just out- 
side the line of stiff black cedars ; the night air was soft 
in my face ; I gazed at the shining and brilliant multitude 
of stars until my eyelids closed. 

The chill breath which comes before dawn awakened 
me. It was still and dark. Through the gloom I could 
indistinctly make out the loom of the old horse, lying 
down. I was speedily ready, and groped and stumbled 
slowly up the hill, and then along its crest to a peak. 
Here I sat down and waited a quarter of an hour or so, 
until gray appeared in the east, and the dim light-streaks 
enabled me to walk farther. Before sunrise I was two 
miles from camp ; then I crawled cautiously to a high 
ridge and crouching behind it scanned all the landscape 
eagerly. In a few minutes a movement about a third of 
a mile to the right, midway down a hill, caught my eye. 
Another glance showed me three white specks moving 



io6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

along the hillside. They were the white rumps of three 
fine mountain sheep, on their way to drink at a little al- 
kaline pool in the bottom of a deep, narrow valley. In a 
moment they went out of sight round a bend of the val- 
ley ; and I rose and trotted briskly towards them, along 
the ridge. There were two or three deep gullies to cross, 
and a high shoulder over which to clamber ; so I was out 
of breath when I reached the bend beyond which they 
had disappeared. Taking advantage of a scrawny sage 
brush as cover I peeped over the edge, and at once saw 
the sheep, three big young rams. They had finished 
drinking and were standing beside the little mirey pool, 
about three hundred yards distant. Slipping back I 
dropped down into the bottom of the valley, where a nar- 
row washout zigzagged from side to side, between straight 
walls of clay. The pool was in the upper end of this 
washout, under a cut bank. 

An indistinct game trail, evidently sometimes used by 
both bighorn and blacktail, ran up this washout ; the 
bottom was of clay so that I walked noiselessly ; and the 
crookedness of the washout's course afforded ample secu- 
rity against discovery by the sharp eyes of the quarry. In 
a couple of minutes I stalked stealthily round the last 
bend, my rifle cocked and at the ready, expecting to 
see the rams by the pool. However, they had gone, and 
the muddy water was settling in their deep hoof marks. 
Running on I looked over the edge of the cut bank and 
saw them slowly quartering up the hillside, cropping the 
sparse tufts of coarse grass. I whistled, and as they 
stood at gaze I put a bullet into the biggest, a little too 



Among the High Hills. 107 

far aft of the shoulder, but ranging forward. He raced 
after the others, but soon fell behind, and turned off 1 on 
his own line, at a walk, with drooping head. As he bled 
freely I followed his tracks, found him, very sick, in a 
washout a quarter of a mile beyond, and finished him with 
another shot. After dressing him, and cutting off the 
saddle and hams, as well as the head, I walked back to 
camp, breakfasted, and rode Manitou to where the sheep 
lay. Packing it securely behind the saddle, and shifting 
the blanket roll to in front of the saddle-horn, I led 
the horse until we were clear of the Bad Lands ; then 
mounted him, and was back at the ranch soon after mid- 
day. The mutton of a fat young mountain ram, at this 
season of the year, is delicious. 

Such quick success is rare in hunting sheep. Gen- 
erally each head has cost me several days of hard, faithful 
work ; and more than once I have hunted over a week 
without any reward whatsoever. But the quarry is so 
noble that the ultimate triumph sure to come, if the 
hunter will but persevere long enough atones for all 
previous toil and failure. 

Once a lucky stalk and shot at a bighorn was almost 
all that redeemed a hunt in the Rockies from failure. I 
was high among the mountains at the time, but was dogged 
by ill luck ; I had seen but little, and I had not shot very 
well. One morning I rose early, and hunted steadily un- 
til midday without seeing anything. A mountain hunter 
was with me. At noon we sat down to rest, and look 
over the country, from behind a shield of dwarf evergreens, 
on the brink of a mighty chasm. The rocks fell down- 



io8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

wards in huge cliffs, stern and barren ; from far below rose 
the strangled roaring of the torrent, as the foaming masses 
of green and white water churned round the boulders in 
the stream bed. Except this humming of the wild water, 
and the soughing of the pines, there was no sound. We 
were sitting on a kind of jutting promontory of rock so 
that we could scan the cliffs far and near. First I took 
the glasses and scrutinized the ground almost rod by rod, 
for nearly half an hour ; then my companion took them 
in turn. It is very hard to make out game, especially 
when lying down, and still ; and it is curious to notice 
how, after fruitlessly scanning a country through the 
glasses for a considerable period, a herd of animals will 
suddenly appear in the field of vision as if by magic. In 
this case, while my companion held the glasses for the 
second time, a slight motion caught his eye ; and looking 
attentively he made out, five or six hundred yards distant, 
a mountain ram lying among some loose rocks and small 
bushes at the head of a little grassy cove or nook, in a 
shallow break between two walls of the cliff. So well did 
the bluish gray of its body harmonize in tint with the 
rocks and shrubbery that it was some time before I could 
see it, even when pointed out to me. 

The wind was favorable, and we at once drew back and 
began a cautious stalk. It was impossible, owing to the 
nature of the cliffs above and below the bighorn's resting- 
place, to get a shot save by creeping along nearly on a 
level with him. Accordingly we worked our way down 
through a big cleft in the rocks, being forced to go very 
slowly and carefully lest we should start a loose stone ; 






HEAD OF MOUNTAIN RAM. 

SHOT NOVEMBER, 188* 



Among the High Hills. 109 

and at last reached a narrow terrace of rock and grass 
along which we walked comparatively at our ease. Soon 
it dwindled away, and we then had to do our only difficult 
piece of climbing a clamber for fifty or sixty feet across 
c, steep cliff shoulder. Some little niches and cracks in 
the rock and a few projections and diminutive ledges on 
its surface, barely enabled us to swarm across, with pains- 
taking care not merely to avoid alarming the game this 
time, but also to avoid a slip which would have proved 
fatal. Once across we came on a long, grassy shelf, lead- 
ing round a shoulder into the cleft where the ram lay. As 
I neared the end I crept forward on hands and knees, and 
then crawled flat, shoving the rifle ahead of me, until I 
rounded the shoulder and peered into the rift. As my 
eyes fell on the ram he sprang to his feet, with a clatter 
of loose stones, and stood facing me, some sixty yards off, 
his dark face and white muzzle brought out finely by the 
battered, curved horns. I shot into his chest, hitting him 
in the sticking place ; and after a few mad bounds he 
tumbled headlong, and fell a very great distance, unfor- 
tunately injuring one horn. 

When much hunted, bighorn become the wariest of 
all American game, and their chase is then peculiarly 
laborious and exciting. But where they have known 
nothing of men, not having been molested by hunters, 
they are exceedingly tame. Professor John Bache Mc- 
Master informs me that in 1877 he penetrated to the 
Uintah Mountains of Wyoming, which were then almost 
unknown to hunters ; he found all the game very bold, 
and the wild sheep in particular so unsuspicious that he 



i io The Wilderness Hunter. 

could walk up to within short rifle range of them in the 
open. 

On the high mountains bighorn occasionally get killed 
by a snow-slide. My old friend, the hunter Woody, once 
saw a band which started such an avalanche by running 
along a steep sloping snow field, it being in the spring ; 
for several hundred yards it thundered at their heels, but 
by desperate racing they just managed to get clear. 
Woody was also once an eye-witness to the ravages the 
cougar commits among these wild sheep. He was stalk- 
ing a band in the snow when he saw them suddenly scat- 
ter at a run in every direction. Coming up he found the 
traces of a struggle, and the track of a body being 
dragged through the snow, together with the round foot- 
marks of the cougar ; a little farther on lay a dead ewe, 
the blood flowing from the fang wounds in her throat 





CHAPTER VII. 

MOUNTAIN GAME ; THE WHITE GOAT. 

LATE one August I started on a trip to the Big 
Hole Basin, in Western Montana, to hunt white 
goats. With me went a friend of many hunts, 
John Willis, a tried mountain man. 

We left the railroad at the squalid little hamlet of 
Divide, where we hired a team and wagon from a 
" busted " granger, suspected of being a Mormon, who 
had failed, even with the help of irrigation, in raising a 
crop. The wagon was in fairly good order ; the harness 
was rotten, and needed patching with ropes ; while the 
team consisted of two spoiled horses, overworked and 
thin, but full of the devil the minute they began to pick 
up condition. However, on the frontier one soon grows 
to accept little facts of this kind with bland indifference ; 
and Willis was not only an expert teamster, but possessed 
that inexhaustible fertility of resource and unfailing readi- 
ness in an emergency so characteristic of the veteran of 
the border. Through hard experience he had become 
master of plainscraft and woodcraft, skilled in all frontier 

lore. 

in 



H2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

For a couple of days we jogged up the valley of the 
Big Hole River, along the mail road. At night we camped 
under our wagon. At the mouth of the stream the valley 
was a mere gorge, but it broadened steadily the farther 
up we went, till the rapid river wound through a wide 
expanse of hilly, treeless prairie. On each side the moun- 
tains rose, their lower flanks and the foot-hills covered 
with the evergreen forest. We got milk and bread at the 
scattered log-houses of the few settlers ; and for meat we 
shot sage fowl, which abounded. They were feeding on 
grasshoppers at this time, and the flesh, especially of the 
young birds, was as tender and well tasting as possible ; 
whereas, when we again passed through the valley in 
September, we found the birds almost uneatable, being 
fairly bitter with sage. Like all grouse they are far tamer 
earlier in the season than later, being very wild in winter ; 
and, of course, they are boldest where they are least 
hunted ; but for some unexplained reason they are always 
tamer than the sharp-tail prairie fowl which are to be 
found in the same locality. 

Finally we reached the neighborhood of the Battle 
Ground, where a rude stone monument commemorates the 
bloody drawn fight between General Gibbons' soldiers and 
the Nez Percys warriors of Chief Joseph. Here, on the 
third day of our journey, we left the beaten road and 
turned towards the mountains, following an indistinct trail 
made by wood-choppers. We met with our full share of 
the usual mishaps incident to prairie travel ; and towards 
evening our team got mired in crossing a slough. We 
attempted the crossing with some misgivings, which were 



Mountain Game. 113 

warranted by the result ; for the second plunge of the 
horses brought them up to their bellies in the morass^ 
where they stuck. It was freezing cold, with a bitter 
wind blowing, and the bog holes were skimmed with ice ; 
so that we passed a thoroughly wretched two hours while 
freeing the horses and unloading the wagon. However, 
we eventually got across ; my companion preserving an 
absolutely unruffled temper throughout, perseveringly 
whistling the " Arkansas Traveller." At one period, 
when we were up to our waists in the icy mud, it began 
to sleet and hail, and I muttered that I would " rather it 
did n't storm " ; whereat he stopped whistling for a moment 
to make the laconic rejoinder, " We 're not having our 
rathers this trip." 

At nightfall we camped among the willow bushes by a 
little brook. For firewood we had only dead willow sticks ; 
they made a hot blaze which soon died out ; and as the 
cold grew intense, we rolled up in our blankets as soon as 
we had eaten our supper. The climate of the Big Hole 
Basin is alpine ; that night, though it was the 2Oth of 
August, the thermometer sank to 10 F. 

Early next morning we struck camp, shivering with 
cold as we threw the stiff, frozen harness on the horses. 
We soon got among the foot-hills, where the forest was 
open and broken by large glades, forming what is called a 
park country. The higher we went the smaller grew the 
glades and the denser the woodland ; and it began to be 
very difficult to get the wagon forward. In many places 
one man had to go ahead to pick out the way, and if 
necessary do a little chopping and lopping with the axe, 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

while the other followed driving the team. At last we 
were brought to a standstill, and pitched camp beside a 
rapid, alder-choked brook in the uppermost of a series of 
rolling glades, hemmed in by mountains and the dense 
coniferous forest. Our tent stood under a grove of pines, 
close to the brook ; at night we built in front of it a big 
fire of crackling, resinous logs. Our goods were sheltered 
by the wagon, or covered with a tarpaulin ; we threw down 
sprays of odorous evergreens to make a resting-place for 
our bedding ; we built small scaffolds on which to dry the 
flesh of elk and deer. In an hour or two we had round us 
all the many real comforts of such a little wilderness home. 

Whoever has long roamed and hunted in the wilderness 
always cherishes with wistful pleasure the memory of 
some among the countless camps he has made. The 
camp by the margin of the clear, mountain-hemmed lake ; 
the camp in the dark and melancholy forest, where the 
gusty wind booms through the tall pine tops ; the camp 
under gnarled cottonwoods, on the bank of a shrunken 
river, in the midst of endless grassy prairies, of these, 
and many like them, each has had its own charm. Of 
course in hunting one must expect much hardship and 
repeated disappointment ; and in many a camp, bad 
weather, lack of shelter, hunger, thirst, or ill success with 
game, renders the days and nights irksome and trying. 
Yet the hunter worthy of the name always willingly takes 
the bitter if by so doing he can get the sweet, and gladly 
balances failure and success, spurning the poorer souls 
who know neither. 

We turned our horses loose, hobbling one ; and as we 
did not look after them for several days, nothing but my 



Mountain Game. 115 

companion's skill as a tracker enabled us to find them 
again. There was a spell of warm weather which brought 
out a few of the big bull-dog flies, which drive a horse 
or indeed a man nearly frantic ; we were in the haunts 
of these dreaded and terrible scourges, which up to the 
beginning of August render it impossible to keep stock 
of any description unprotected where they abound, but 
which are never formidable after the first frost. In many 
parts of the wilderness these pests, or else the incredible 
swarms of mosquitoes, blackflies, and buffalo gnats, render 
life not worth living during the last weeks of spring and 
the early months of summer. 

There were elk and deer in the neighborhood ; also 
ruffed, blue, and spruce grouse ; so that our camp was soon 
stocked with meat. Early one morning while Willis was 
washing in the brook, a little black bear thrust its sharp 
nose through the alders a few feet from him, and then 
hastily withdrew and was seen no more. The smaller 
wild-folk were more familiar. As usual in the northern 
mountains, the gray moose-birds and voluble, nervous little 
chipmunks made themselves at home in the camp. Parties 
of chickadees visited us occasionally. A family of flying 
squirrels lived overhead in the grove ; and at nightfall 
they swept noiselessly from tree to tree, in long graceful 
curves. There were sparrows of several kinds moping 
about in the alders ; and now and then one of them would 
sing a few sweet, rather mournful bars. 

After several days' preliminary exploration we started 
on foot for white goat. We took no packs with us, each 
carrying merely his jacket, with a loaf of bread and a 
paper of salt thrust into the pockets. Our aim was to get 



n6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

well to one side of a cluster of high, bare peaks, and then 
to cross them and come back to camp ; we reckoned that 
the trip would take three days. 

All the first day we tramped through dense woods and 
across and around steep mountain spurs. We caught 
glimpses of two or three deer and a couple of elk, all does 
or fawns, however, which we made no effort to molest. 
Late in the afternoon we stumbled across a family of 
spruce grouse, which furnished us material for both sup- 
per and breakfast. The mountain men call this bird the 
fool-hen ; and most certainly it deserves the name. The 
members of this particular flock, consisting of a hen and 
her three-parts grown chickens, acted with a stupidity 
unwonted even for their kind. They were feeding on the 
ground among some young spruce, and on our approach 
flew up and perched in the branches four or five feet above 
our heads. There they stayed, uttering a low, complaining 
whistle, and showed not the slightest suspicion when we 
came underneath them with long sticks and knocked four 
off their perches for we did not wish to alarm any large 
game that might be in the neighborhood by firing. One 
particular bird was partially saved from my first blow by 
the intervening twigs ; however, it merely flew a few yards, 
and then sat with its bill open, having evidently been a 
little hurt, until I came up and knocked it over with a 
better directed stroke. 

Spruce grouse are plentiful in the mountain forests of 
the northern Rockies, and, owing to the ease with which 
they are killed, they have furnished me my usual provender 
when off on trips of this kind, where I carried no pack. 



Mountain Game. 117 

They are marvellously tame and stupid. The young birds 
are the only ones I have ever killed in this manner with a 
stick ; but even a full plumaged old cock in September is 
easily slain with a stone by any one who is at all a good 
thrower. A man who has played much base-ball need 
never use a gun when after spruce grouse. They are the 
smallest of the grouse kind ; the cock is very handsome, 
with red eyebrows and dark, glossy plumage. Moreover, 
he is as brave as he is stupid and good-looking, and in the 
love season becomes fairly crazy : at such time he will 
occasionally make a feint of attacking a man, strutting, flut- 
tering, and ruffling his feathers. The flesh of the spruce 
grouse is not so good as that of his ruffed and blue 
kinsfolk ; and in winter, when he feeds on spruce buds, it 
is ill tasting. I have never been able to understand why 
closely allied species, under apparently the same surround- 
ings, should differ so radically in such important traits 
as wariness and capacity to escape from foes. Yet the 
spruce grouse in this respect shows the most marked con- 
trast to the blue grouse and the ruffed grouse. Of course 
all three kinds vary greatly in their behavior accordingly 
as they do or do not live in localities where they have 
been free from man's persecutions. The ruffed grouse, a 
very wary game bird in all old-settled regions, is often 
absurdly tame in the wilderness ; and under persecution, 
even the spruce grouse gains some little wisdom ; but the 
latter never becomes as wary as the former, and under no 
circumstances is it possible to outwit the ruffed grouse by 
such clumsy means as serve for his simple-minded brother. 
There is a similar difference between the sage fowl and 



"8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

prairie fowl, in favor of the latter. It is odd that the largest 
and the smallest kinds of grouse found in the United 
States should be the tamest ; and also the least savory. 

After tramping all day through the forest, at nightfall 
we camped in its upper edge, just at the foot of the steep 
rock walls of the mountain. We chose a sheltered spot, 
where the small spruce grew thick, and there was much 
dead timber ; and as the logs, though long, were of little 
girth, we speedily dragged together a number sufficient to 
keep the fire blazing all night. Having drunk our full at 
a brook we cut two forked willow sticks, and then each 
plucked a grouse, split it, thrust the willow-fork into it, and 
roasted it before the fire. Besides this we had salt, and 
bread ; moreover we were hungry and healthily tired ; so 
the supper seemed, and was, delicious. Then we turned 
up the collars of our jackets, and lay down, to pass the 
night in broken slumber ; each time the fire died down the 
chill waked us, and we rose to feed it with fresh logs. 

At dawn we rose, and cooked and ate the two remain- 
ing grouse. Then we turned our faces upwards, and 
passed a day of severe toil in climbing over, the crags. 
Mountaineering is very hard work ; and when we got 
high among the peaks, where snow filled the rifts, the 
thinness of the air forced me to stop for breath every few 
hundred yards of the ascent. We found much sign of 
white goats, but in spite of steady work and incessant 
careful scanning of the rocks, we did not see our quarry 
until early in the afternoon. 

We had clambered up one side of a steep saddle of 
naked rock, some of the scarped ledges being difficult, 



Mountain Game. 119 

and indeed dangerous, of ascent. From the top of the 
saddle a careful scrutiny of the neighboring peaks failed 
to reveal any game, and we began to go down the other 
side. The mountain fell away in a succession of low 
cliffs, and we had to move with the utmost caution. In 
letting ourselves down from ledge to ledge one would 
hold the guns until the other got safe footing, and then 
pass them down to him. In many places we had to work 
our way along the cracks in the faces of the frost-riven 
rocks. At last, just as we reached a little smooth shoulder, 
my companion said, pointing down beneath us, " Look at 
the white goat ! " 

A moment or two passed before I got my eyes on it. 
We were looking down into a basin-like valley, surrounded 
by high mountain chains. At one end of the basin was a 
low pass, where the ridge was cut up with the zigzag trails 
made by the countless herds of game which had travelled 
it for many generations. At the other end was a dark 
gorge, through which a stream foamed. The floor of the 
basin was bright emerald green, dotted with darker bands 
where belts of fir trees grew ; and in its middle lay a 
little lake. 

At last I caught sight of the goat, feeding on a terrace 
rather over a hundred and twenty-five yards below me. 
I promptly fired, but overshot. The goat merely gave a 
few jumps and stopped. My second bullet went through 
its lungs ; but fearful lest it might escape to some inac- 
cessible cleft or ledge I fired again, missing ; and yet 
again, breaking its back. Down it went, and the next 
moment began to roll over and over, from ledge to ledge. 



120 The Wilderness Hunter. 

I greatly feared it would break its horns ; an annoying 
and oft-recurring incident of white-goat shooting, where 
the nature of the ground is such that the dead quarry 
often falls hundreds of feet, its body being torn to ribbons 
by the sharp crags. However in this case the goat 
speedily lodged unharmed in a little dwarf evergreen. 

Hardly had I fired my fourth shot when my companion 
again exclaimed, " Look at the white goats ! look at the 
white goats ! " Glancing in the direction in which he 
pointed I speedily made out four more goats standing in 
a bunch rather less than a hundred yards off, to one side 
of my former line of fire. They were all looking up at 
me. They stood on a slab of white rock, with which the 
color of their fleece harmonized well ; and their black 
horns, muzzles, eyes, and hoofs looked like dark dots on 
a light-colored surface, so that it took me more than one 
glance to determine what they were. White goat invari- 
ably run up hill when alarmed, their one idea seeming to 
be to escape danger by getting above it ; for their brute 
foes are able to overmatch them on anything like level 
ground, but are helpless against them among the crags. 
Almost as soon as I saw them these four started up the 
mountain, nearly in my direction, while I clambered down 
and across to meet them. They halted at the foot of a 
cliff, and I at the top, being unable to see them ; but in 
another moment they came bounding and cantering up 
the sheer rocks, not moving quickly, but traversing the 
most seemingly impossible places by main strength and 
sure-footedness. As they broke by me, some thirty yards 
off, I fired two shots at the rearmost, an old buck, 



Mountain Game. 

somewhat smaller than the one I had just killed ; and he 
rolled down the mountain dead. Two of the others, a 
yearling and a kid, showed more alarm than their elders, 
and ran off at a brisk pace. The remaining one, an old 
she, went off a hundred yards, and then deliberately 
stopped and turned round to gaze at us for a couple of 
minutes ! Verily the white goat is the fool-hen among 
beasts of the chase. 

Having skinned and cut off the heads we walked 
rapidly onwards, slanting down the mountain side, and 
then over and down the pass of the game trails ; for it 
was growing late and we wished to get well down among 
the timber before nightfall. On the way an eagle came 
soaring over head, and I shot at it twice without success. 
Having once killed an eagle on the wing with a rifle, I 
always have a lurking hope that sometime I may be able 
to repeat the feat. I revenged myself for the miss by 
knocking a large blue goshawk out of the top of a blasted 
spruce, where it was sitting in lazy confidence, its crop 
stuffed with rabbit and grouse. 

A couple of hours' hard walking brought us down to 
timber ; just before dusk we reached a favorable camping 
spot in the forest, beside a brook, with plenty of dead 
trees for the night-fire. Moreover, the spot fortunately 
yielded us our supper too, in the shape of a flock of young 
spruce grouse, of which we shot off the heads of a couple. 
Immediately afterwards I ought to have procured our 
breakfast, for a cock of the same kind suddenly flew down 
nearby ; but it was getting dark, I missed with the first 
shot, and with the second must have merely creased the 



122 



The Wilderness Hunter. 



neck, for though the tough old bird dropped, it fluttered 
and ran off among the underbrush and escaped. 

We broiled our two grouse before our fire, dragged 
plenty of logs into a heap beside it, and then lay down to 
sleep fitfully, an hour or so at a time, throughout the 
night. We were continually wakened by the cold, when 
we had to rise and feed the flames. In the early morning 
we again started, walking for some time along the fresh 
trail made by a large band of elk, cows and calves. We 
thought we knew exactly the trend and outlet of the 
valley in which we were, and that therefore we could tell 
where the camp was ; but, as so often happens in the 
wilderness, we had not reckoned aright, having passed 
over one mountain spur too many, and entered the 
ravines of an entirely different watercourse-system. In 
consequence we became entangled in a network of hills 
and valleys, making circle after circle to find our bear- 
ings ; and we only reached camp after twelve hours' tire- 
some tramp without food. 

On another occasion I shot a white goat while it was 
in a very curious and characteristic attitude. I was 
hunting, again with an old mountain man as my sole 
companion, among the high mountains of the Kootenai 
country, near the border of Montana and British Colum- 
bia. We had left our main camp, pitched by the brink 
of the river, and were struggling wearily on foot through 
the tangled forest and over the precipitous mountains, 
carrying on our backs light packs, consisting of a little 
food and two or three indispensable utensils, wrapped in 
our blankets. One day we came to the foot of a great 



Mountain Game. 123 

chain of bare rocks, and climbed laboriously to its crest, 
up cliff after cliff, some of which were almost perpendii> 
lar. Swarming round certain of the rock shoulders, 
crossing an occasional sheer chasm, and in many places 
clinging to steep, smooth walls by but slight holds, we 
reached the top. The climbing at such a height was 
excessively fatiguing ; moreover, it was in places difficult 
and even dangerous. Of course it was not to be com- 
pared to the ascent of towering, glacier-bearing peaks, 
such as those of the Selkirks and Alaska, where climbers 
must be roped to one another and carry ice axes. 

Once at the top we walked very cautiously, being 
careful not to show ourselves against the sky line, and 
scanning the mountain sides through our glasses. At last 
we made out three goats, grazing unconcernedly on a 
narrow grassy terrace, which sloped abruptly to the brink 
of a high precipice. They were not very far off, and 
there was a little rock spur above them which offered good 
cover for a stalk ; but we had to crawl so slowly, partly 
to avoid falling, and partly to avoid detaching loose rocks, 
that it was nearly an hour before we got in a favorable 
position above them, and some seventy yards off. The 
frost-disintegrated mountains in which they live are 
always sending down showers of detached stones, so that 
the goats are not very sensitive to this noise ; still, they 
sometimes pay instantaneous heed to it, especially if the 
sound is repeated. 

When I peeped over the little ridge of rock, shoving 
my rifle carefully ahead of me, I found that the goats had 
finished feeding and were preparing to leave the slope. 



124 The Wilderness Hunter. 

The old billy saw me at once, but evidently could not 
quite make me out. Thereupon, gazing intently at me, 
he rose gravely on his haunches, sitting up almost in the 
attitude of a dog when begging. I know no other horned 
animal that ever takes this position. 

As I fired he rolled backwards, slipped down the 
grassy slope, and tumbled over the brink of the cliff, 
while the other two, a she and a kid, after a moment's 
panic-struck pause, and a bewildered rush in the wrong 
direction, made off up a little rocky gully, and were 
out of sight in a moment. To my chagrin when I 
finally reached the carcass, after a tedious and circu- 
itous climb to the foot of the cliff, I found both horns 
broken off. 

It was late in the afternoon, and we clambered down 
to the border of a little marshy alpine lake, which we 
reached in an hour or so. Here we made our camp 
about sunset, in a grove of stunted spruces, which fur- 
nished plenty of dead timber for the fire. There were 
many white-goat trails leading to this lake, and from the 
slide rock roundabout we heard the shrill whistling of 
hoary rock-woodchucks, and the querulous notes of the 
little conies two of the sounds most familiar to the 
white-goat hunter. These conies had gathered heaps of 
dried plants, and had stowed them carefully away for 
winter use in the cracks between the rocks. 

While descending the mountain we came on a little 
pack of snow grouse or mountain ptarmigan, birds which, 
save in winter, are always found above timber line. They 
were tame and fearless, though hard to make out as they 




HEAD OF WHITE GOAT. 



SHOT AUGUST, 1889. 



Mountain Game. 125 

ran among the rocks, cackling noisily, with their tails 
cocked aloft ; and we had no difficulty in killing four, 
which gave us a good breakfast and supper. Old white 
goats are intolerably musky in flavor, there being a very 
large musk-pod between the horn and ear. The kids are 
eatable, but of course are rarely killed ; the shot being 
usually taken at the animal with best horns and the shes 
and young of any game should only be killed when there 
is a real necessity. 

These two hunts may be taken as samples of most 
expeditions after white goat. There are places where the 
goats live in mountains close to bodies of water, either 
ocean fiords or large lakes ; and in such places canoes can 
be used, to the greatly increased comfort and lessened 
labor of the hunters. In other places, where the moun- 
tains are low and the goats spend all the year in the 
timber, a pack-train can be taken right up to the hunting 
grounds. But generally one must go on foot, carrying 
everything on one's back, and at night lying out in the 
open or under a brush lean-to ; meanwhile living on spruce 
grouse and ptarmigan, with an occasional meal of trout, 
and in times of scarcity squirrels, or anything else. Such 
a trip entails severe fatigue and not a little hardship. The 
actual hunting, also, implies difficult and laborious climb- 
ing, for the goats live by choice among the highest and 
most inaccessible mountains ; though where they are found, 
as they sometimes are, in comparatively low forest-clad 
ranges, I have occasionally killed them with little trouble 
by lying in wait beside the well-trodden game trails they 
make in the timber. 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

In any event the hard work is to get up to the grounds 
where the game is found. Once the animals are spied 
there is but little call for the craft of the still-hunter in 
approaching them. Of all American game the white goat 
is the least wary and most stupid. In places where it is 
much hunted it of course gradually grows wilder and 
becomes difficult to approach and kill ; and much of its 
silly tameness is doubtless due to the inaccessible nature 
of its haunts, which renders it ordinarily free from molesta- 
tion ; but aside from this it certainly seems as if it was 
naturally less wary than either deer or mountain sheep. 
The great point is to get above it. All its foes live in the 
valleys, and while it is in the mountains, if they strive to 
approach it at all, they must do so from below. It is in 
consequence always on the watch for danger from beneath ; 
but it is easily approached from above, and then, as it 
generally tries to escape by running up hill, the hunter is 
very apt to get a shot. 

Its chase is thus laborious rather than exciting ; and to 
my mind it is less attractive than is the pursuit of most of 
our other game. Yet it has an attraction of its own after 
all ; while the grandeur of the scenery amid which it must 
be carried on, the freedom and hardihood of the life and 
the pleasure of watching the queer habits of the game, all 
combine to add to the hunter's enjoyment. 

White goats are self-confident, pugnacious beings. An 
old billy, if he discovers the presence of a foe without being 
quite sure what it is, often refuses to take flight, but 
walks around, stamping, and shaking his head. The 
needle-pointed black horns are alike in both sexes, save 



Mountain Game. 127 

that the males' are a trifle thicker ; and they are most 
effective weapons when wielded by the muscular neck__of 
a resolute and wicked old goat. They wound like stilettos 
and their bearer is in consequence a much more formidable 
foe in a hand-to-hand struggle than either a branching- 
antlered deer or a mountain ram, with his great battering 
head. The goat does not butt ; he thrusts. If he can 
cover his back by a tree trunk or boulder he can stand off 
most carnivorous animals, no larger than he is. 

Though awkward in movement, and lacking all sem- 
blance of lightness or agility, goats are excellent climbers. 
One of their queer traits is their way of getting their fore- 
hoofs on a slight ledge, and then drawing or lifting their 
bodies up by simple muscular exertion, stretching out 
their elbows, much as a man would. They do a good deal 
of their climbing by strength and command over their 
muscles ; although they are also capable of making aston- 
ishing bounds. If a cliff surface has the least slope, and 
shows any inequalities or roughness whatever, goats can go 
up and down it with ease. With their short, stout legs, 
and large, sharp-edged hoofs they clamber well over ice, 
passing and repassing the mountains at a time when no man 
would so much as crawl over them. They bear extreme 
cold with indifference, but are intolerant of much heat ; 
even when the weather is cool they are apt to take their 
noontide rest in caves ; I have seen them solemnly retiring, 
for this purpose, to great rents in the rocks, at a time when 
my own teeth chattered because of the icy wind. 

They go in small flocks ; sometimes in pairs or little 
family parties. After the rut the bucks often herd by 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

themselves, or go off alone, while the young and the shes 
keep together throughout the winter and the spring. The 
young are generally brought forth above timber line, or at 
its uppermost edge, save of course in those places where 
the goats live among mountains wooded to the top. 
Throughout the summer they graze on the short mountain 
plants which in many places form regular mats above tim- 
ber line ; the deep winter snows drive them low down in 
the wooded valleys, and force them to subsist by browsing. 
They are so strong that they plough their way readily 
through deep drifts ; and a flock of goats at this season, 
when their white coat is very long and thick, if seen wad- 
dling off through the snow, have a comical likeness to so 
many diminutive polar bears. Of course they could easily 
be run down in the snow by a man on snowshoes, in the 
plain ; but on a mountain side there are always bare rocks 
and cliff shoulders, glassy with winter ice, which give either 
goats or sheep an advantage over their snowshoe-bearing 
foes that deer and elk lack. Whenever the goats pass 
the winter in woodland they leave plenty of sign in the 
shape of patches of wool clinging to all the sharp twigs and 
branches against which they have brushed. In the spring 
they often form the habit of drinking at certain low pools, 
to which they beat deep paths ; and at this season, and to 
a less extent in the summer and fall, they are very fond of 
frequenting mineral licks. At any such lick the ground is 
tramped bare of vegetation, and is filled with pits and hol- 
lows, actually dug by the tongues of innumerable genera- 
tions of animals ; while the game paths lead from them in 
a dozen directions. 



Mountain Game. 129 

In spite of the white goat's pugnacity, its clumsiness 
renders it no very difficult prey when taken unawares by, 
either wolf or cougar, its two chief enemies. They cannot 
often catch it when it is above timber line ; but it is always 
in sore peril from them when it ventures into the forest. 
Bears, also, prey upon it in the early spring ; and one mid- 
winter my friend Willis found a wolverine eating a goat 
which it had killed in a snowdrift at the foot of a cliff. 
The savage little beast growled and showed fight when 
he came near the body. Eagles are great enemies of 
the young kids, as they are of the young lambs of the 
bighorn. 

The white goat is the only game beast of America 
which has not decreased in numbers since the arrival of the 
white man. Although in certain localities it is now decreas- 
ing, yet, taken as a whole, it is probably quite as plentiful 
now as it was fifty years back ; for in the early part of the 
present century there were Indian tribes who hunted it 
perseveringly to make the skins into robes, whereas now 
they get blankets from the traders and no longer persecute 
the goats. The early trappers and mountain-men knew 
but little of the animal. Whether they were after beaver, 
or were hunting big game, or were merely exploring, they 
kept to the valleys ; there was no inducement for them to 
climb to the tops of the mountains ; so it resulted that there 
was no animal with which the old hunters were so un- 
familiar as with the white goat. The professional hunters 
of to-day likewise bother it but little ; they do not care 
to undergo severe toil for an animal with worthless flesh 
and a hide of little value for it is only in the late fall and 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

winter that the long hair and fine wool give the robe any 
beauty. 

So the quaint, sturdy, musky beasts, with their queer 
and awkward ways, their boldness and their stupidity, with 
their white coats and big black hoofs, black muzzles, and 
sharp, gently-curved span-long black horns, have held 
their own well among the high mountains that they love. 
In the Rockies and the Coast ranges they abound from 
Alaska south to Montana, Idaho, and Washington ; and 
here and there isolated colonies are found among the high 
mountains to the southward, in Wyoming, Colorado, 
even in New Mexico, and, strangest of all, in one or two 
spots among the barren coast mountains of southern Cal- 
ifornia. Long after the elk has followed the buffalo to 
the happy hunting grounds the white goat will flourish 
among the towering and glacier-riven peaks, and, grown 
wary with succeeding generations, will furnish splendid 
sport to those hunters who are both good riflemen and 
hardy cragsmen. 





CHAPTER VIII. 



HUNTING IN THE SELKIRKS ; THE CARIBOU. 

IN September, 1888, I was camped on the shores of 
Kootenai Lake, having with me as companions, 
John Willis and an impassive-looking Indian named 
Ammal. Coming across through the dense coniferous for- 
ests of northern Idaho we had struck the Kootenai River. 
Then we went down with the current as it wound in half 
circles through a long alluvial valley of mixed marsh and 
woodland, hemmed in by lofty mountains. The lake it- 
self, when we reached it, stretched straight away like a 
great fiord, a hundred miles long and about three in 
breadth. The frowning and rugged Selkirks came down 
sheer to the water's edge. So straight were the rock 
walls that it was difficult for us to land with our batteau, 
save at the places where the rapid mountain torrents 
entered the lake. As these streams of swift water broke 
from their narrow gorges they made little deltas of level 
ground, with beaches of fine white sand ; and the stream- 
banks were edged with cottonwood and poplar, their 
shimmering foliage relieving the sombre coloring of the 
evergreen forest. 

131 



i3 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Close to such a brook, from which we drew strings of 
large silver trout, our tent was pitched, just within the 
forest. From between the trunks of two gnarled, wind- 
beaten trees, a pine and a cottonwood, we looked out 
across the lake. The little bay in our front, in which we 
bathed and swam, was sometimes glassily calm ; and again 
heavy wind squalls arose, and the surf beat strongly on 
the beach where our boat was drawn up. Now and then 
great checker-back loons drifted buoyantly by, stopping 
with bold curiosity to peer at the white tent gleaming 
between the tree-trunks, and at the smoke curling above 
their tops ; and they called to one another, both at dawn 
and in the daytime, with shrieks of unearthly laughter. 
Troops of noisy, parti-colored Clark's crows circled over 
the tree-tops or hung from among the pine cones ; jays 
and chickadees came round camp, and woodpeckers ham- 
mered lustily in the dead timber. Two or three times 
parties of Indians passed down the lake, in strangely shaped 
bark canoes, with peaked, projecting prows and sterns; 
craft utterly unlike the graceful, feather-floating birches so 
beloved by both the red and the white woodsmen of the 
northeast. Once a couple of white men, in a dugout 
or pirogue made out of a cottonwood log, stopped to get 
lunch. They were mining prospectors, French Canadians 
by birth, but beaten into the usual frontier-mining stamp ; 
doomed to wander their lives long, ever hoping, in the 
quest for metal wealth. 

With these exceptions there was nothing to break the 
silent loneliness of the great lake. Shrouded as we were 
in the dense forest, and at the foot of the first steep hills, 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 133 

we could see nothing of the country on the side where 
we were camped ; but across the water the immense moun- 
tain masses stretched away from our vision, range upon 
range, until they turned to a glittering throng of ice peaks 
and snow fields, the feeding beds of glaciers. Between 
the lake and the snow range were chains of gray rock 
peaks, and the mountain sides and valleys were covered 
by the primeval forest. The woods were on fire across 
the lake from our camp, burning steadily. At night the 
scene was very grand, as the fire worked slowly across the 
mountain sides in immense zigzags of quivering red ; 
while at times isolated pines of unusual size kindled, and 
flamed for hours, like the torches of a giant. Finally the 
smoke grew so thick as to screen from our views the grand 
landscape opposite. 

We had come down from a week's fruitless hunting in 
the mountains ; a week of excessive toil, in a country 
where we saw no game for in our ignorance we had 
wasted time, not going straight back to the high ranges, 
from which the game had not yet descended. After three 
or four days of rest, and of feasting on trout a welcome 
relief to the monotony of frying-pan bread and coarse salt 
pork we were ready for another trial ; and early one 
morning we made the start. Having to pack everything 
for a fortnight's use on our backs, through an excessively 
rough country, we of course travelled as light as possible, 
leaving almost all we had with the tent and boat. Each 
took his own blanket ; and among us we carried a frying- 
pan, a teapot, flour, pork, salt, tea, and matches. I also 
took a jacket, a spare pair of socks, some handkerchiefs, 



134 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and my washing kit. Fifty cartridges in my belt completed 
my outfit. 

We walked in single file, as is necessary in thick 
woods. The white hunter led and I followed, each with 
rifle on shoulder and pack on back. Ammal, the Indian, 
pigeon-toed along behind, carrying his pack, not as we did 
ours, but by help of a forehead-band, which he sometimes 
shifted across his breast. The travelling through the 
tangled, brush-choked forest, and along the boulder-strewn 
and precipitous mountain sides, was inconceivably rough 
and difficult. In places we followed the valley, and when 
this became impossible we struck across the spurs. Every 
step was severe toil. Now we walked through deep moss 
and rotting mould, every few feet clambering over huge 
trunks ; again we pushed through a stiff jungle of bushes 
and tall, prickly plants called " devil's clubs," which 
stung our hands and faces. Up the almost perpendicular 
hill-sides we in many places went practically on all fours, 
forcing our way over the rocks and through the dense 
thickets of laurels or young spruce. Where there were 
windfalls or great stretches of burnt forest, black and 
barren wastes, we balanced and leaped from log to log, 
sometimes twenty or thirty feet above the ground ; and 
when such a stretch was on a steep hill-side, and especially 
if the logs were enveloped in a thick second growth of 
small evergreens, the footing was very insecure, and the 
danger from a fall considerable. Our packs added greatly 
to our labor, catching on the snags and stubs ; and where 
a grove of thick-growing young spruces or balsams had 
been burned, the stiff and brittle twigs pricked like so 



Hunting in the S el kirks. 135 

much coral. Most difficult of all were the dry water- 
courses, choked with alders, where the intertwined tangle 
of tough stems formed an almost literally impenetrable 
barrier to our progress. Nearly every movement leap- 
ing, climbing, swinging one's self up with one's hands, 
bursting through stiff bushes, plunging into and out of 
bogs was one of strain and exertion ; the fatigue was 
tremendous, and steadily continued, so that in an hour 
every particle of clothing I had on was wringing wet with 
sweat. 

At noon we halted beside a little brook for a bite of 
lunch a chunk of cold frying-pan bread, which was all 
we had. 

While at lunch I made a capture. I was sitting on a 
great stone by the edge of the brook, idly gazing at a 
water-wren which had come up from a short flight I can 
call it nothing else underneath the water, and was sing- 
ing sweetly from a spray-splashed log. Suddenly a small 
animal swam across the little pool at my feet. It was 
less in size than a mouse, and as it paddled rapidly 
underneath the water its body seemed flattened like a 
disc and was spangled with tiny bubbles, like specks of 
silver. It was a water-shrew, a rare little beast. I sat 
motionless and watched both the shrew and the water- 
wren water-ousel, as it should rightly be named. The 
latter, emboldened by my quiet, presently flew by me to a 
little rapids close at hand, lighting on a round stone, and 
then slipping unconcernedly into the swift water. Anon 
he emerged, stood on another stone, and trilled a few bars, 
though it was late in the season for singing ; and then 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

dove again into the stream. I gazed at him eagerly ; for 
this strange, pretty water-thrush is to me one of the most 
attractive and interesting birds to be found in the gorges 
of the great Rockies. Its haunts are romantically beautiful, 
for it always dwells beside and in the swift-flowing moun- 
tain brooks ; it has a singularly sweet song ; and its ways 
render it a marked bird at once, for though looking much 
like a sober-colored, ordinary woodland thrush, it spends 
half its time under the water, walking along the bottom, 
swimming and diving, and flitting through as well as over 
the cataracts. 

In a minute or two the shrew caught my eye again. 
It got into a little shallow eddy and caught a minute fish, 
which it carried to a half-sunken stone and greedily 
devoured, tugging voraciously at it as it held it down with 
its paws. Then its evil genius drove it into a small puddle 
alongside the brook, where I instantly pounced on and 
slew it ; for I knew a friend in the Smithsonian at Wash- 
ington who would have coveted it greatly. It was a soft, 
pretty creature, dark above, snow-white below, with a very 
long tail. I turned the skin inside out and put a bent 
twig in, that it might dry ; while Ammal, who had been 
intensely interested in the chase and capture, meditatively 
shook his head and said " wagh," unable to fathom the 
white man's medicine. However, my labor came to 
nought, for that evening I laid the skin out on a log, 
Ammal threw the log into the fire, and that was the end 
of the shrew. 

When this interlude was over we resumed our march, 
toiling silently onwards through the wild and rugged 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 137 

country. Towards evening the valley widened a little, 
and we were able to walk in the bottoms, which much 
lightened our labor. The hunter, for greater ease, had 
tied the thongs of his heavy pack across his breast, so 
that he could not use his rifle ; but my pack was lighter, 
and I carried it in a manner that would not interfere with 
my shooting, lest we should come unawares on game. 

It was well that I did so. An hour or two before 
sunset we were travelling, as usual, in Indian file, beside 
the stream, through an open wood of great hemlock trees. 
There was no breeze, and we made no sound as we 
marched, for our feet sunk noiselessly into the deep 
sponge of moss, while the incessant dashing of the tor- 
rent, churning among the stones, would have drowned a 
far louder advance. 

Suddenly the hunter, who was leading, dropped down 
in his tracks, pointing forward ; and some fifty feet be- 
yond I saw the head and shoulders of a bear as he rose 
to make a sweep at some berries. He was in a hollow 
where a tall, rank, prickly plant, with broad leaves, grew 
luxuriantly ; and he was gathering its red berries, rising 
on his hind legs and sweeping them down into his mouth 
with his paw, and was much too intent on his work to 
notice us, for his head was pointed the other way. The 
moment he rose again I fired, meaning to shoot through 
the shoulders, but instead, in the hurry, taking him in the 
neck. Down he went, but whether hurt or not we could 
not see, for the second he was on all fours he was no 
longer visible. Rather to my surprise he uttered no 
sound for bear when hit or when charging often make 



138 The Wilderness Hunter. 

a great noise so I raced forward to the edge of the hol- 
low, the hunter close behind me, while Ammal danced about 
in the rear, very much excited, as Indians always are in 
the presence of big game. The instant we reached the 
hollow and looked down into it from the low bank on 
which we stood we saw by the swaying of the tall plants 
that the bear was coming our way. The hunter was 
standing some ten feet distant, a hemlock trunk being 
between us ; and the next moment the bear sprang clean 
up the bank the other side of the hemlock, and almost 
within arm's length of my companion. I do not think he 
had intended to charge ; he was probably confused by 
the bullet through his neck, and had by chance blundered 
out of the hollow in our direction ; but when he saw the 
hunter so close he turned for him, his hair bristling and 
his teeth showing. The man had no cartridge in his 
weapon, and with his pack on could not have used it 
anyhow ; and for a moment it looked as if he stood a fair 
chance of being hurt, though it is not likely that the bear 
would have done more than knock him down with his 
powerful forepaw, or perchance give him a single bite in 
passing. However, as the beast sprang out of the hol- 
low he poised for a second on the edge of the bank to 
recover his balance, giving me a beautiful shot, as he 
stood sideways to me ; the bullet struck between the eye 
and ear, and he fell as if hit with a pole axe. 

Immediately the Indian began jumping about the 
body, uttering wild yells, his usually impassive face lit up 
with excitement, while the hunter and I stood at rest, 
leaning on our rifles and laughing. It was a strange 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 139 

scene, the dead bear lying in the shade of the giant hem- 
locks, while the fantastic-looking savage danced round 
him with shrill whoops, and the tall frontiersman looked 
quietly on. 

Our prize was a large black bear, with two curious 
brown streaks down his back, one on each side the spine. 
We skinned him and camped by the carcass, as it was 
growing late. To take the chill off the evening air we 
built a huge fire, the logs roaring and crackling. To one 
side of it we made our beds of balsam and hemlock 
boughs ; we did not build a brush lean-to, because the 
night seemed likely to be clear. Then we supped on 
sugarless tea, frying-pan bread, and quantities of bear 
meat, fried or roasted and how very good it tasted only 
those know who have gone through much hardship and 
some little hunger, and have worked violently for several 
days without flesh food. After eating our fill we stretched 
ourselves around the fire ; the leaping sheets of flame lit 
the tree-trunks round about, causing them to start out 
against the cavernous blackness beyond, and reddened 
the interlacing branches that formed a canopy overhead. 
The Indian sat on his haunches, gazing steadily and 
silently into the pile of blazing logs, while the white 
hunter and I talked together. 

The morning after killing Bruin, we again took up 
our march, heading up stream, that we might go to its 
sources amidst the mountains, where the snow fields fed 
its springs. It was two full days' journey thither, but we 
took much longer to make it, as we kept halting to hunt 
the adjoining mountains. On such occasions Ammal was 



140 The Wilderness Hunter. 

left as camp guard, while the white hunter and I would 
start by daybreak and return at dark utterly worn out by 
the excessive fatigue. We knew nothing of caribou, nor 
where to hunt for them ; and we had been told that thus 
early in the season they were above tree limit on the 
mountain sides. Accordingly we would climb up to the 
limits of the forests, but never found a caribou trail ; and 
once or twice we went on to the summits of the crag- 
peaks, and across the deep snow fields in the passes. 
There were plenty of white goats, however, their trails 
being broad paths, especially at one spot where they led 
down to a lick in the valley ; round the lick, for a space 
of many yards, the ground was trampled as if in a 
sheepfold. 

The mountains were very steep, and the climbing was 
in places dangerous, when we were above the timber and 
had to make our way along the jagged knife-crests and 
across the faces of the cliffs ; while our hearts beat as if 
about to burst in the high, thin air. In walking over 
rough but not dangerous ground across slides or in 
thick timber my companion was far more skilful than I 
was ; but rather to my surprise I proved to be nearly as 
good as he when we came to the really dangerous places, 
where we had to go slowly, and let one another down 
from ledge to ledge, or crawl by narrow cracks across the 
rock walls. 

The view from the summits was magnificent, and I 
never tired of gazing at it. Sometimes the sky was a 
dome of blue crystal, and mountain, lake, and valley lay 
spread in startling clearness at our very feet; and again 




CAMP IN THE FOREST. 



Hunting in the Selkirk*. 

snow-peak and rock-peak were thrust up like islands 
through a sea of billowy clouds. At the feet of the-top- 
most peaks, just above the edge of the forest, were marshy 
alpine valleys, the boggy ground soaked with water, and 
small bushes or stunted trees fringing the icy lakes. In 
the stony mountain sides surrounding these lakes there 
were hoary woodchucks, and conies. The former resem- 
bled in their habits the alpine marmot, rather than our 
own common eastern woodchuck. They lived alone or 
in couples among the rocks, their gray color often mak- 
ing them difficult to see as they crouched at the mouths 
of their burrows, or sat bolt upright ; and as an alarm 
note they uttered a loud piercing whistle, a strong con- 
trast to the querulous, plaintive "p-a-a-y" of the timid 
conies. These likewise loved to dwell where the stones 
and slabs of rock were heaped on one another ; though so 
timid, they were not nearly as wary as the woodchucks. 
If we stood quite still the little brown creatures would 
venture away from their holes and hop softly over the 
rocks as if we were not present. 

The white goats were too musky to eat, and we saw 
nothing else to shoot ; so we speedily became reduced to 
tea, and to bread baked in the frying-pan, save every now 
and then for a feast on the luscious mountain blueberries. 
This rather meagre diet, coupled with incessant fatigue 
and exertion, made us fairly long for meat food ; and we 
fell off in flesh, though of course in so short a time we 
did not suffer in either health or strength. Fortunately 
the nights were too cool for mosquitoes ; but once or 
twice in the afternoons, while descending the lower slopes 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

of the mountains, we were much bothered by swarms of 
gnats ; they worried us greatly, usually attacking us at a 
time when we had to go fast in order to reach camp before 
dark, while the roughness of the ground forced us to use 
both hands in climbing, and thus forbade us to shield our 
faces from our tiny tormentors. Our chief luxury was, at 
the end of the day, when footsore and weary, to cast aside 
our sweat-drenched clothes and plunge into the icy moun- 
tain torrent for a moment's bath that freshened us as if by 
magic. The nights were generally pleasant, and we slept 
soundly on our beds of balsam boughs, but once or twice 
there were sharp frosts, and it was so cold that the hunter 
and I huddled together for warmth and kept the fires 
going till morning. One day, when we were on the 
march, it rained heavily, and we were soaked through, and 
stiff and chilly when we pitched camp ; but we speedily 
built a great brush lean-to, made a roaring fire in front, 
and grew once more to warmth and comfort as we sat 
under our steaming shelter. The only discomfort we 
really minded was an occasional night in wet blankets. 

In the evening the Indian and the white hunter played 
interminable games of seven-up with a greasy pack of 
cards. In the course of his varied life the hunter had 
been a professional gambler ; and he could have easily 
won all the Indian's money, the more speedily inasmuch 
as the untutored red man was always attempting to cheat, 
and was thus giving his far more skilful opponent a cer- 
tain right to try some similar deviltry in return. How- 
ever, it was distinctly understood that there should be no 
gambling, for I did not wish Ammal to lose all his wages 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 143 

while in my employ ; and the white man stood loyally by 
his agreement. AmmaTs people, just before I engaged 
him, had been visited by their brethren, the Upper Koote- 
nais, and in a series of gambling matches had lost about 
all their belongings. 

Ammal himself was one of the Lower Kootenais ; I had 
hired him for the trip, as the Indians west of the Rockies, 
unlike their kinsman of the plains, often prove hard and 
willing workers. His knowledge of English was almost 
nil ; and our very scanty conversation was carried on in 
the Chinook jargon, universally employed between the 
mountains and the Pacific. Apparently he had three 
names : for he assured us that his " Boston " (i. <?., Ameri- 
can) name was Ammal ; his " Siwash " (i. e.> Indian) name 
was Appak ; and that the priest called him Abel for 
the Lower Kootenais are nominally Catholics. Whatever 
his name he was a good Indian, as Indians go. I often 
tried to talk with him about game and hunting, but we 
understood each other too little to exchange more than 
the most rudimentary ideas. His face brightened one 
night when I happened to tell him of my baby boys at 
home ; he must have been an affectionate father in his 
way, this dark Ammal, for he at once proceeded to tell 
me about his own papoose, who had also seen one snow, 
and to describe how the little fellow was old enough to 
take one step and then fall down. But he never displayed 
so much vivacity as on one occasion when the white 
hunter happened to relate to him a rather gruesome feat 
of one of their mutual acquaintances, an Upper Kootenai 
Indian named Three Coyotes. The latter was a quarrel- 



144 The Wilderness H^lnter. 

some, adventurous Indian, with whom the hunter had 
once had a difficulty " I had to beat the cuss over the 
head with my gun a little," he remarked parenthetically. 
His last feat had been done in connection with a number 
of Chinamen who had been working among some placer 
mines, where the Indians came to visit them. Now the 
astute Chinese are as fond of gambling as any of the bor- 
derers, white or red, and are very successful, generally 
fleecing the Indians unmercifully. Three Coyotes lost 
all he possessed to one of the pigtailed gentry ; but he 
apparently took his losses philosophically, and pleasantly 
followed the victor round, until the latter had won all the 
cash and goods of several other Indians. Then he sud- 
denly fell on the exile from the Celestial Empire, slew 
him and took all his plunder, retiring unmolested, as it did 
not seem any one's business to avenge a mere Chinaman. 
Ammal was immensely interested in the tale, and kept 
recurring to it again and again, taking two little sticks and 
making the hunter act out the whole story. The Koote- 
nais were then only just beginning to consider the Chinese 
as human. They knew they must not kill white people, 
and they had their own code of morality among them- 
selves ; but when the Chinese first appeared they evi- 
dently thought that there could not be any especial 
objection to killing them, if any reason arose for doing so. 
I think the hunter himself sympathized somewhat with 
this view. 

Ammal objected strongly to leaving the neighborhood 
of the lake. He went the first day's journey willingly 
enough, but after that it was increasingly difficult to get 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 145 

him along, and he gradually grew sulky. For some time 
we could not find out the reason ; but finally he gave-us 
to understand that he was afraid because up in the high 
mountains there were "little bad Indians" who would 
kill him if they caught him alone, especially at night. At 
first we thought he was speaking of stray warriors of the 
Blackfeet tribe ; but it turned out that he was not thinking 
of human beings at all, but of hobgoblins. 

Indeed the night sounds of these great stretches of 
mountain woodland were very weird and strange. Though 
I have often and for long periods dwelt and hunted in the 
wilderness, yet I never before so well understood why 
the people who live in lonely forest regions are prone to 
believe in elves, wood spirits, and other beings of an 
unseen world. Our last camp, whereat we spent several 
days, was pitched in a deep valley nearly at the head of 
the stream. Our brush shelter stood among the tall 
coniferous trees that covered the valley bottom ; but the 
altitude was so great that the forest extended only a very 
short distance up the steep mountain slopes. Beyond, 
on either hand, rose walls of gray rock, with snow beds in 
their rifts, and, high above, toward the snow peaks, the 
great white fields dazzled the eyes. The torrent foamed 
swiftly by but a short distance below the mossy level 
space on which we had built our slight weather-shield of 
pine boughs ; other streams poured into it, from ravines 
through which they leaped down the mountain sides. 

After nightfall, round the camp fire, or if I awakened 
after sleeping a little while, I would often lie silently for 
many minutes together, listening to the noises of the 



146 The Wilderness Hunter. 

wilderness. At times the wind moaned harshly through 
the tops of the tall pines and hemlocks ; at times the 
branches were still ; but the splashing murmur of the 
torrent never ceased, and through it came other sounds 
the clatter of huge rocks falling down the cliffs, the 
dashing of cataracts in far-off ravines, the hooting of owls. 
Again, the breeze would shift, and bring to my ears the 
ringing of other brooks and cataracts and wind-stirred 
forests, and perhaps at long intervals the cry of some 
wild beast, the crash of a falling tree, or the faint rumble 
of a snow avalanche. If I listened long enough, it would 
almost seem that I heard thunderous voices laughing and 
calling to one another, and as if at any moment some 
shape might stalk out of the darkness into the dim light 
of the embers. 

Until within a couple of days of turning our faces 
back towards the lake we did not come across any caribou, 
and saw but a few old signs ; and we began to be fearful 
lest we should have to return without getting any, for our 
shoes had been cut to ribbons by the sharp rocks, we were 
almost out of flour, and therefore had but little to eat. 
However, our perseverance was destined to be rewarded. 

The first day after reaching our final camp, we hunted 
across a set of spurs and hollows but saw nothing living ; 
yet we came across several bear tracks, and in a deep, 
mossy quagmire, by a spring, found where a huge silver- 
tip had wallowed only the night before. 

Next day we started early, determined to take a long 
walk and follow the main stream up to its head, or at 
least above timber line. The hunter struck so brisk a 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 147 

pace, plunging through thickets and leaping from log to 
log in the slashes of fallen timber, and from boulder- te 
boulder in crossing the rock-slides, that I could hardly 
keep up to him, struggle as I would, and we each of us 
got several ugly tumbles, saving our rifles at the expense 
of scraped hands and bruised bodies. We went up one 
side of the stream, intending to come down the other ; 
for the forest belt was narrow enough to hunt thoroughly. 
For two or three hours we toiled thrpugh dense growth, 
varied by rock-slides, and once or twice by marshy tracts, 
where water oozed and soaked through the mossy hill* 
sides, studded rather sparsely with evergreens. In one 
of these places we caught a glimpse of an animal which 
the track showed to be a wolverine. 

Then we came to a spur of open hemlock forest ; and 
no sooner had we entered it than the hunter stopped and 
pointed exultingly to a well-marked game trail, in which 
it was easy at a glance to discern the great round foot- 
prints of our quarry. We hunted carefully over the spur 
and found several trails, generally leading down along the 
ridge ; we also found a number of beds, some old and 
some recent, usually placed where the animal could keep 
a lookout for any foe coming up from the valley. They 
were merely slight hollows or indentations in the pine- 
needles ; and, like the game trails, were placed in locali- 
ties similar to those that would be chosen by blacktail 
deer. The caribou droppings were also very plentiful ; 
and there were signs of where they had browsed on the 
blueberry bushes, cropping off the berries, and also ap- 
parently of where they had here and there plucked a 



148 The Wilderness Hunter. 

mouthful of a peculiar kind of moss, or cropped off some 
little mushrooms. But the beasts themselves had evi- 
dently left the hemlock ridge, and we went on. 

We were much pleased at finding the sign in open 
timber, where the ground was excellent for still-hunting ; 
for in such thick forest as we had passed through, it 
would have been by mere luck only that we could have 
approached game. 

After a little while the valley became so high that the 
large timber ceased, and there were only occasional groves 
of spindling evergreens. Beyond the edge of the big tim- 
ber was a large boggy tract, studded with little pools ; and 
here again we found plenty of caribou tracks. A caribou 
has an enormous foot, bigger than a cow's, and admirably 
adapted for travelling over snow or bogs ; hence they can 
pass through places where the long slender hoofs of 
moose or deer, or the rounded hoofs of elk, would let 
their owners sink at once ; and they are very difficult to 
kill by following on snow-shoes a method much in vogue 
among the brutal game butchers for slaughtering the 
more helpless animals. Spreading out his great hoofs, 
and bending his legs till he walks almost on the joints, a 
caribou will travel swiftly over a crust through which 
a moose breaks at every stride, or through deep snow 
in which a deer cannot flounder fifty yards. Usually he 
trots ; but when pressed he will spring awkwardly along, 
leaving tracks in the snow almost exactly like magnified 
imprints of those of a great rabbit, the long marks of the 
two hind legs forming an angle with each other, while the 
forefeet make a large point almost between. 



Hunting in the Selkirk**, 149 

The caribou had wandered all over the bogs and 
through the shallow pools, but evidently only at nighr or 
in the dusk, when feeding or in coming to drink ; and we 
again went on. Soon the timber disappeared almost en- 
tirely, and thick brushwood took its place ; we were in a 
high, bare alpine valley, the snow lying in drifts along the 
sides. In places there had been enormous rock-slides, 
entirely filling up the bottom, so that for a quarter of a 
mile at a stretch the stream ran underground. In the 
rock masses of this alpine valley we, as usual, saw many 
conies and hoary woodchucks. 

The caribou trails had ceased, and it was evident that 
the beasts were not ahead of us in the barren, treeless 
recesses between the mountains of rock and snow ; and 
we turned back down the valley, crossing over to the 
opposite or south side of the stream. We had already 
eaten our scanty lunch, for it was afternoon. For several 
miles of hard walking, through thicket, marsh, and rock- 
slide, we saw no traces of the game. Then we reached 
the forest, which soon widened out, and crept up the 
mountain sides ; and we came to where another stream 
entered the one we were following. A high, steep shoul- 
der between the two valleys was covered with an open 
growth of great hemlock timber, and in this we again 
found the trails and beds plentiful. There was no breeze, 
and after beating through the forest nearly to its upper 
edge, we began to go down the ridge, or point of the 
shoulder. The comparative freedom from brushwood 
made it easy to walk without noise, and we descended 
the steep incline with the utmost care, scanning every 



150 The Wilderness Hunter. 

object, and using every caution not to slip on the hem- 
lock needles, nor to strike a stone or break a stick with our 
feet. The sign was very fresh, and when still half a mile or 
so from the bottom we at last came on three bull caribou. 
Instantly the hunter crouched down, while I ran noise- 
lessly forward behind the shelter of a big hemlock trunk 
until within fifty yards of the grazing and unconscious 
quarry. They were feeding with their heads up-hill, but so 
greedily that they had not seen us ; and they were rather 
difficult to see themselves, for their bodies harmonized 
well in color with the brown tree-trunks and lichen-cov- 
ered boulders. The largest, a big bull with a good but 
by no means extraordinary head, was nearest. As he 
stood fronting me with his head down I fired into his neck, 
breaking the bone, and he turned a tremendous back 
somersault. The other two halted a second in stunned 
terror ; then one, a yearling, rushed past us up the valley 
down which we had come, while the other, a large bull 
with small antlers, crossed right in front of me, at a canter, 
his neck thrust out, and his head so coarse-looking com- 
pared to the delicate outlines of an elk's turned towards 
me. His movements seemed clumsy and awkward, utterly 
unlike those of a deer ; but he handled his great hoofs 
cleverly enough, and broke into a headlong, rattling gal- 
lop as he went down the hillside, crashing through the 
saplings and leaping over the fallen logs. There was a 
spur a little beyond, and up this he went at a swinging 
trot, halting when he reached the top, and turning to look 
at me once more. He was only a hundred yards away ; 
and though I had not intended to shoot him (for his head 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 

was not good), the temptation was sore ; and I was glad 
when, in another second, the stupid beast turned again 
and went off up the valley at a slashing run. 

Then we hurried down to examine with pride and 
pleasure the dead bull his massive form, sleek coat, and 
fine antlers. It was one of those moments that repay the 
hunter for days of toil and hardship ; that is if he needs 
repayment, and does not find life in the wilderness pleasure 
enough in itself. 

It was getting late, and if we expected to reach camp 
that night it behooved us not to delay ; so we merely 
halted long enough to dress the caribou, and take a steak 
with us which we did not need, by the way, for almost 
immediately we came on a band of spruce grouse and 
knocked off the heads of five with our rifles. The caribou's 
stomach was filled with blueberries, and with their leaves, 
and with a few small mushrooms also, and some mouth- 
fuls of moss. We went home very fast, too much elated 
to heed scratches and tumbles ; and just as it was growing 
so dark that further travelling was impossible we came 
opposite our camp, crossed the river on a fallen hemlock, 
and walked up to the moody Indian, as he sat crouched 
by the fire. 

He lost his sullenness when he heard what we had 
done ; and next day we all went up and skinned and 
butchered the caribou, returning to camp and making 
ready to start back to the lake the following morning ; and 
that night we feasted royally. 

We were off by dawn, the Indian joyfully leading. 
Coming up into the mountains he had always been the 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

rear man of the file ; but now he went first and struck a 
pace that, continued all day long, gave me a little trouble 
to follow. Each of us carried his pack ; to the Indians' 
share fell the caribou skull and antlers, which he bore on 
his head. At the end of the day he confessed to me that 
it had made his head " heap sick " as well it might. We 
had made four short days*, or parts of days', march coming 
up ; for we had stopped to hunt, and moreover we knew 
nothing of the country, being probably the first white men 
in it, while none of the Indians had ever ventured a long 
distance from the lake. Returning we knew how to take 
the shortest route, we were going down hill, and we walked 
or trotted very fast ; and so we made the whole distance 
in twelve hours' travel. At sunset we came out on the 
last range of steep foot-hills, overlooking the cove where 
we had pitched our permanent camp ; and from a bare 
cliff shoulder we saw our boat on the beach, and our white 
tent among the trees, just as we had left them, while the 
glassy mirror of the lake reflected the outlines of the 
mountains opposite. 

Though this was the first caribou I had ever killed, it 
was by no means the first I had ever hunted. Among 
my earliest hunting experiences, when a lad, were two 
fruitless and toilsome expeditions after caribou in the 
Maine woods. One I made in the fall, going to the head 
of the Munsungin River in a pirogue, with one companion. 
The water was low, and all the way up we had to drag the 
pirogue, wet to our middles, our ankles sore from slipping 
on the round stones under the rushing water, and our 
muscles aching with fatigue. When we reached the head- 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 153 

waters we found no caribou sign, and came back without 
slaying anything larger than an infrequent duck or grouse. 
The following February I made a trip on snow-shoes 
after the same game, and with the same result. How- 
ever, I enjoyed the trip, for the northland woods are 
very beautiful and strange in winter, as indeed they are 
at all other times and it was my first experience on snow- 
shoes. I used the ordinary webbed racquets, and as the 
snow, though very deep, was only imperfectly crusted, I 
found that for a beginner the exercise was laborious in 
the extreme, speedily discovering that, no matter how 
cold it was, while walking through the windless woods I 
stood in no need of warm clothing. But at night, espe- 
cially when lying out, the cold was bitter. Our plan was 
to drive in a sleigh to some logging camp, where we were 
always received with hearty hospitality, and thence make 
hunting trips, in very light marching order, through the 
heart of the surrounding forest. The woods, wrapped in 
their heavy white mantle, were still and lifeless. There 
were a few chickadees and woodpeckers ; now and then 
we saw flocks of red-polls, pine linnets, and large, rosy 
grossbeaks ; and once or twice I came across a grouse or 
white rabbit, and killed it for supper ; but this was nearly 
all. Yet, though bird life was scarce, and though we saw 
few beasts beyond an occasional porcupine or squirrel, 
every morning the snow was dotted with a network 
of trails made during the hours of darkness ; the fine 
tracery of the footprints of the little red wood-mouse, the 
marks which showed the loping progress of the sable, the 
V and dot of the rabbit, the round pads of the lucivee, and 



154 The Wilderness Hunter. 

many others. The snow reveals, as nothing else does, 
the presence in the forest of the many shy woodland 
creatures which lead their lives abroad only after nightfall. 
Once we saw a coon, out early after its winter nap, and 
following I shot it in a hollow tree. Another time we 
came on a deer and the frightened beast left its "yard," 
a tangle of beaten paths, or deep furrows. The poor 
animal made but slow headway through the powdery 
snow ; after going thirty or forty rods it sank exhausted 
in a deep drift, and lay there in helpless panic as we 
walked close by. Very different were the actions of the only 
caribou we saw a fine beast which had shed its antlers. 
I merely caught a glimpse of it as it leaped over a breast- 
work of down timbers ; and we never saw it again. 
Alternately trotting and making a succession of long 
jumps, it speedily left us far behind ; with its great splay- 
hoofs it could snow-shoe better than we could. It is 
among deer the true denizen of the regions of heavy 
snowfall ; far more so than the moose. Only under 
exceptional conditions of crust-formation is it in any 
danger from a man on snow-shoes. 

In other ways it is no better able to take care of itself 
than moose and deer ; in fact I doubt whether its senses 
are quite as acute, or at least whether it is as wary and 
knowing, for under like conditions it is rather easier to 
still-hunt. In the fall caribou wander long distances, and 
are fond of frequenting the wet barrens which break the 
expanse of the northern forest in tracts of ever increasing 
size as the subarctic regions are neared. At this time 
they go in bands, each under the control of a master bull, 



Hunting in the Selkirks. 155 

which wages repeated and furious battles for his harem ; 
and in their ways of life they resemble the wapiti more 
than they do the moose or deer. They sometimes display 
a curious boldness, the bulls especially showing both 
stupidity and pugnacity when in districts to which men 
rarely penetrate. 

On our way out of the woods, after this hunt, there 
was a slight warm spell, followed by rain and then by 
freezing weather, so as to bring about what is known as a 
silver thaw. Every twig was sheathed in glittering ice, 
and in the moonlight the forest gleamed as if carved out 
of frosted silver. 





CHAPTER IX. 

THE WAPITI OR ROUND-HORNED ELK. 

ONCE, while on another hunt with John Willis, 
I spent a week in a vain effort to kill moose 
among the outlying mountains at the southern 
end of the Bitter Root range. Then, as we had no meat, 
we determined to try for elk, of which we had seen much 
sign. 

We were camped with a wagon, as high among the 
foot-hills as wheels could go, but several hours' walk from 
the range of the game ; for it was still early in the season, 
and they had riot yet come down from the upper slopes. 
Accordingly we made a practice of leaving the wagon for 
two or three days at a time to hunt ; returning to get a 
night's rest in the tent, preparatory to a fresh start. On 
these trips we carried neither blankets nor packs, as the 
walking was difficult and we had much ground to cover. 
Each merely put on his jacket with a loaf of frying-pan 
bread and a paper of salt stuffed into the pockets. We were 
cumbered with nothing save our rifles and cartridges. 

On the morning in question we left camp at sunrise. 
For two or three hours we walked up-hill through a rather 

156 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. i5; 

open growth of small pines and spruces, the travelling 
being easy. Then we came to the edge of a deep valley, 
a couple of miles across. Into this we scrambled, down a 
steep slide, where the forest had grown up among the 
immense boulder masses. The going here was difficult to 
a degree ; the great rocks, dead timber, slippery pine 
needles, and loose gravel entailing caution at every step, 
while we had to guard our rifles carefully from the conse- 
quences of a slip. It was not much better at the bottom, 
which was covered by a tangled mass of swampy forest 
Through this we hunted carefully, but with no success, in 
spite of our toil ; for the only tracks we saw that were at 
all fresh were those of a cow and calf moose. Finally, in 
the afternoon, we left the valley and began to climb a 
steep gorge, down which a mountain torrent roared and 
foamed in a succession of cataracts. 

Three hours* hard climbing brought us to another 
valley, but of an entirely different character. It was sev- 
eral miles long, but less than a mile broad. Save at the 
mouth, it was walled in completely by chains of high rock- 
peaks, their summits snow-capped ; the forest extended a 
short distance up their sides. The bottom of the valley 
was in places covered by open woodland, elsewhere by 
marshy meadows, dotted with dense groves of spruce. 

Hardly had we entered this valley before we caught a 
glimpse of a yearling elk walking rapidly along a game 
path some distance ahead. We followed as quickly as 
we could without making a noise, but after the first 
glimpse never saw it again ; for it is astonishing how fast 
an elk travels, with its ground-covering walk. We went 



is 8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

up the valley until we were well past its middle, and saw 
abundance of fresh elk sign. Evidently two or three 
bands had made the neighborhood their headquarters. 
Among them were some large bulls, which had been try- 
ing their horns not only on the quaking-asp and willow 
saplings, but also on one another, though the rut had 
barely begun. By one pool they had scooped out a kind 
of wallow or bare spot in the grass, and had torn and 
tramped the ground with their hoofs. The place smelt 
strongly of their urine. 

By the time the sun set we were sure the elk were 
towards the head of the valley. We utilized the short 
twilight in arranging our sleeping place for the night, 
choosing a thick grove of spruce beside a small mountain 
tarn, at the foot of a great cliff. We were chiefly influ- 
enced in our choice by the abundance of dead timber of a 
size easy to handle ; the fuel question being all-important 
on such a trip, where one has to lie out without bedding, 
and to keep up a fire, with no axe to cut wood. 

Having selected a smooth spot, where some low-growing 
firs made a wind break, we dragged up enough logs to feed 
the fire throughout the night. Then we drank our fill at 
the icy pool, and ate a few mouthfuls of bread. While it 
was still light we heard the querulous bleat of the conies, 
from among the slide rocks at the foot of the mountain ; 
and the chipmunks and chickarees scolded at us. As 
dark came on, and we sat silently gazing into the flickering 
blaze, the owls began muttering and hooting. 

Clearing the ground of stones and sticks, we lay down 
beside the fire, pulled our soft felt hats over our ears, 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 159 

buttoned our jackets, and went to sleep. Of course our 
slumbers were fitful and broken, for every hour or two the 
fire got low and had to be replenished. We wakened 
shivering out of each spell of restless sleep to find the logs 
smouldering ; we were alternately scorched and frozen. 

As the first faint streak of dawn appeared in the dark 
sky my companion touched me lightly on the arm. The 
fire was nearly out ; we felt numbed by the chill air. At 
once we sprang up, stretched our arms, shook ourselves, 
examined our rifles, swallowed a mouthful or two of bread, 
and walked off through the gloomy forest. 

At first we could scarcely see our way, but it grew 
rapidly lighter. The gray mist rose and wavered over the 
pools and wet places ; the morning voices of the wilderness 
began to break the death-like stillness. After we had 
walked a couple of miles the mountain tops on our right 
hand reddened in the sun-rays. 

Then, as we trod noiselessly over the dense moss, and 
on the pine needles under the scattered trees, we heard a 
sharp clang and clatter up the valley ahead of us. We 
knew this meant game of some sort ; and stealing lightly 
and cautiously forward we soon saw before us the cause 
of the noise. 

In a little glade, a hundred and twenty-five yards from 
us, two bull elk were engaged in deadly combat, while two 
others were looking on. It was a splendid sight. The 
great beasts faced each other with lowered horns, the manes 
that covered their thick necks, and the hair on their 
shoulders, bristling and erect. Then they charged furiously, 
the crash of the meeting antlers resounding through the 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

valley. The shock threw them both on their haunches , 
with locked horns and glaring eyes they strove against 
each other, getting their hind legs well under them, strain- 
ing every muscle in their huge bodies, and squealing 
savagely. They were evenly matched in weight, strength, 
and courage ; and push as they might, neither got the 
upper hand, first one yielding a few inches, then the other, 
while they swayed to and fro in their struggles, smashing 
the bushes and ploughing up the soil. 

Finally they separated and stood some little distance 
apart, under the great pines ; their sides heaving, and 
columns of steam rising from their nostrils through the 
frosty air of the brightening morning. Again they rushed 
together with a crash, and each strove mightily to overthrow 
the other, or get past his guard ; but the branching antlers 
caught every vicious lunge and thrust. This set-to was 
stopped rather curiously. One of the onlooking elk was 
a yearling ; the other, though scarcely as heavy-bodied as 
either of the fighters, had a finer head. He was evidently 
much excited by the battle, and he now began to walk 
towards the two combatants, nodding his head and uttering 
a queer, whistling noise. They dared not leave their flanks 
uncovered to his assault ; and as he approached they 
promptly separated, and walked off side by side a few yards 
apart. In a moment, however, one spun round and jumped 
at his old adversary, seeking to stab him in his unprotected 
flank ; but the latter was just as quick, and as before caught 
the rush on his horns. They closed as furiously as ever ; 
but the utmost either could do was to inflict one or two 
punches on the neck and shoulders of his foe, where the 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 

thick hide served as a shield. Again the peace-maker ap- 
proached, nodding his head, whistling, and threatening ; and 
again they separated. 

This was repeated once or twice ; and I began to be 
afraid lest the breeze which was very light and puffy 
should shift and give them my wind. So, resting my rifle 
on my knee I fired twice, putting one bullet behind the 
shoulder of the peace-maker, and the other behind the 
shoulder of one of the combatants. Both were deadly 
shots, but, as so often with wapiti, neither of the wounded 
animals at the moment showed any signs of being hit. 
The yearling ran off unscathed. The other three crowded 
together and trotted behind some spruce on the left, while 
we ran forward for another shot. In a moment one fell ; 
whereupon the remaining two turned and came back across 
the glade, trotting to the right. As we opened fire they 
broke into a lumbering gallop, but were both downed before 
they got out of sight in the timber. 

As soon as the three bulls were down we busied our- 
selves taking off their heads and hides, and cutting off the 
best portions of the meat from the saddles and hams to 
take back to camp, where we smoked it. But first we had 
breakfast. We kindled a fire beside a little spring of clear 
water and raked out the coals. Then we cut two willow 
twigs as spits, ran on each a number of small pieces of elk 
loin, and roasted them over the fire. We had salt ; we 
were very hungry ; and I never ate anything that tasted 
better. 

The wapiti is, next to the moose, the most quarrelsome 
and pugnacious of American deer. It cannot be said that 



1 62 The Wilderness Hunter. 

it is ordinarily a dangerous beast to hunt ; yet there are 
instances in which wounded wapiti, incautiously approached 
to within striking distance, have severely misused their 
assailants, both with their antlers and their forefeet. I 
myself knew one man who had been badly mauled in this 
fashion. When tamed the bulls are dangerous to human 
life in the rutting season. In a grapple they are of course 
infinitely more to be dreaded than ordinary deer, because 
of their great strength. 

However, the fiercest wapiti bull, when in a wild state, 
flees the neighborhood of man with the same panic terror 
shown by the cows ; and he makes no stand against a 
grisly, though when his horns are grown he has little fear 
of either wolf or cougar if on his guard and attacked fairly. 
The chief battles of the bulls are of course waged with one 
another. Before the beginning of the rut they keep by 
themselves : singly, while the sprouting horns are still very 
young, at which time they lie in secluded spots and move 
about as little as possible ; in large bands, later in the 
season. At the beginning of the fall these bands join with 
one another and with the bands of cows and calves, which 
have likewise been keeping to themselves during the late 
winter, the spring, and the summer. Vast herds are thus 
sometimes formed, containing, in the old days when wapiti 
were plenty, thousands of head. The bulls now begin to 
fight furiously with one another, and the great herd be- 
comes split into smaller ones. Each of these has one 
master bull, who has won his position by savage battle, 
and keeps it by overcoming every rival, whether a solitary 
bull, or the lord of another harem, who challenges him. 



7^ he Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 163 

When not fighting or love-making he is kept on the run, 
chasing away the young bulls who venture to pay court to 
the cows. He has hardly time to eat or sleep, and soon 
becomes gaunt and worn to a degree. At the close of the 
rut many of the bulls become so emaciated that they retire 
to some secluded spot to recuperate. They are so weak 
that they readily succumb to the elements, or to their 
brute foes ; many die from sheer exhaustion. 

The battles between the bulls rarely result fatally. 
After a longer or shorter period of charging, pushing, and 
struggling the heavier or more enduring of the two begins 
to shove his weaker antagonist back and round ; and the 
latter then watches his chance and bolts, hotly, but as a 
rule harmlessly, pursued for a few hundred yards. The 
massive branching antlers serve as effective guards against 
the most wicked thrusts. While the antagonists are head 
on, the worst that can happen is a punch on the shoulder 
which will not break the thick hide, though it may bruise 
the flesh underneath. It is only when a beast is caught 
while turning that there is a chance to deliver a possibly 
deadly stab in the flank, with the brow prongs, the " dog- 
killers " as they are called in bucks. Sometimes, but 
rarely, fighting wapiti get their antlers interlocked and 
perish miserably ; my own ranch, the Elkhorn, was named 
from finding on the spot where the ranch house now 
stands two splendid pairs of elk antlers thus interlocked. 

Wapiti keep their antlers until the spring, whereas 
deer and moose lose theirs by midwinter. The bull's be- 
havior in relation to the cow is merely that of a vicious 
and brutal coward. He bullies her continually, and in 



1 64 The Wilderness Hunter. 

times of danger his one thought is for sneaking off to 
secure his own safety. For all his noble looks he is a 
very unamiable beast, who behaves with brutal ferocity to 
the weak, and shows abject terror of the strong. Accord- 
ing to his powers, he is guilty of rape, robbery, and even 
murder. I never felt the least compunction at shooting a 
bull, but I hate to shoot a cow, even when forced by neces- 
sity. Maternity must always appeal to any one. A cow 
has more courage than a bull. She will fight valiantly for 
her young calf, striking such blows with her forefeet that 
most beasts of prey at once slink away from the combat. 
Cougars and wolves commit great ravages among the 
bands ; but they often secure their quarry only at the cost 
of sharp preliminary tussles and in tussles of this kind 
they do not always prove victors or escape scathless. 

During the rut the bulls are very noisy ; and their notes 
of amorous challenge are called " whistling " by the fron- 
tiersmen, very inappropriately. They begin to whistle 
about ten days before they begin to run ; and they have 
in addition an odd kind of bark, which is only heard occa- 
sionally. The whistling is a most curious, and to me a 
most attractive sound, when heard in the great lonely 
mountains. As with so many other things, much depends 
upon the surroundings. When listened to nearby and 
under unfavorable circumstances, the sound resembles a 
succession of hoarse whistling roars, ending with two or 
three gasping grunts. 

But heard at a little distance, and in its proper place, 
the call of the wapiti is one of the grandest and most 
beautiful sounds in nature. Especially is this the case 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 165 

when several rivals are answering one another, on some 
frosty moonlight night in the mountains. The wild melody 
rings from chasm to chasm under the giant pines, sustained 
and modulated, through bar after bar, filled with challenge 
and proud anger. It thrills the soul of the listening hunter. 

Once, while in the mountains, I listened to a peculiarly 
grand chorus of this kind. We were travelling with pack 
ponies at the time, and our tent was pitched in a grove of 
yellow pine, by a brook in the bottom of a valley. On 
either hand rose the mountains, covered with spruce forest. 
It was in September, and the first snow had just fallen. 

The day before we had walked long and hard ; and 
during the night I slept the heavy sleep of the weary. 
Early in the morning, just as the east began to grow gray, 
I waked ; and as I did so, the sounds that smote on my 
ear, caused me to sit up and throw off the warm blankets. 
Bull elk were challenging among the mountains on both 
sides of the valley, a little way from us, their notes echo- 
ing like the calling of silver bugles. Groping about in the 
dark, I drew on my trousers, an extra pair of thick socks, 
and my moccasins, donned a warm jacket, found my fur 
cap and gloves, and stole out of the tent with my rifle. 

The air was very cold ; the stars were beginning to 
pale in the dawn ; on the ground the snow glimmered 
white, and lay in feathery masses on the branches of the 
balsams and young pines. The air rang with the chal- 
lenges of many wapiti ; their incessant calling came peal- 
ing down through the still, snow-laden woods. First one 
bull challenged ; then another answered ; then another 
and another. Two herds were approaching one another 



166 The Wilderness Hunter. 

from opposite sides of the valley, a short distance above 
our camp ; and the master bulls were roaring defiance as 
they mustered their harems. 

I walked stealthily up the valley, until I felt that I 
was nearly between the two herds ; and then stood motion- 
less under a tall pine. The ground was quite open at this 
point, the pines, though large, being scattered ; the little 
brook ran with a strangled murmur between its rows of 
willows and alders, for the ice along its edges nearly 
skimmed its breadth. The stars paled rapidly, the gray dawn 
brightened, and in the sky overhead faint rose-colored 
streaks were turning blood-red. What little wind there 
was breathed in my face and kept me from discovery. 

I made up my mind, from the sound of the challenging, 
now very near me, that one bull on my right was advancing 
towards a rival on my left, who was answering every call. 
Soon the former approached so near that I could hear him 
crack the branches, and beat the bushes with his horns ; 
and I slipped quietly from tree to tree, so as to meet him 
when he came out into the more open woodland. Day 
broke, and crimson gleams played across the snow-clad 
mountains beyond. 

At last, just as the sun flamed red above the hill-tops, 
I heard the roar of the wapiti's challenge not fifty yards 
away ; and I cocked and half raised my rifle, and stood 
motionless. In a moment more, the belt of spruces in 
front of me swayed and opened, and the lordly bull stepped 
out. He bore his massive antlers aloft ; the snow lay thick 
on his mane ; he snuffed the air and stamped on the ground 
as he walked. As I drew a bead, the motion caught his 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 167 

eye ; and instantly his bearing of haughty and warlike 
self-confidence changed to one of alarm. My bullet smote 
through his shoulder-blades, and he plunged wildly for- 
ward, and fell full length on the blood-stained snow. 

Nothing can be finer than a wapiti bull's carriage when 
excited or alarmed ; he then seems the embodiment of 
strength and stately grace. But at ordinary times his 
looks are less attractive, as he walks with his neck level 
with his body and his head outstretched, his horns lying 
almost on his shoulders. The favorite gait of the wapiti 
is the trot, which is very fast, and which they can keep up 
for countless miles ; when suddenly and greatly alarmed, 
they break into an awkward gallop, which is faster, but 
which speedily tires them. 

I have occasionally killed elk in the neighborhood of 
my ranch on the Little Missouri. They were very plentiful 
along this river until 1881, but the last of the big bands 
were slaughtered or scattered about that time. Smaller 
bunches were found for two or three years longer ; and to 
this day, scattered individuals, singly or in parties of two 
or three, linger here and there in the most remote and 
inaccessible parts of the broken country. In the old 
times they were often found on the open prairie, and were 
fond of sunning themselves on the sand bars by the river, 
even at midday, while they often fed by daylight (as they 
do still in remote mountain fastnesses). Nowadays the 
few survivors dwell in the timber of the roughest ravines, 
and only venture abroad at dusk or even after nightfall. 
Thanks to their wariness and seclusiveness, their presence 
is often not even suspected by the cowboys or others who 



1 68 The Wilderness Hunter. 

occasionally ride through their haunts ; and so the hunters 
only know vaguely of their existence. It thus happens 
that the last individuals of a species may linger in a 
locality for many years after the rest of their kind have 
vanished ; on the Little Missouri to-day every elk (as in 
the Rockies every buffalo) killed is at once set down as 
" the last of its race." For several years in succession I 
myself kept killing one or two such " last survivors." 

A yearling bull which I thus obtained was killed while in 
company with my staunch friend Will Dow, on one of the 
first trips which I took with that prince of drivers, old man 
Tompkins. We were laying in our stock of winter meat ; 
and had taken the wagon to go to a knot of high and 
very rugged hills where we knew there were deer, and 
thought there might be elk. Old Tompkins drove the 
wagon with unmoved composure up, down, and across 
frightful-looking hills, and when they became wholly 
impassable, steered the team over a cut bank and up a 
kind of winding ravine or wooded washout, until it became 
too rough and narrow for farther progress. There was 
good grass for the horses on a hill off to one side of us ; 
and stunted cottonwood trees grew between the straight 
white walls of clay and sandstone which hemmed in the 
washout. We pitched our tent by a little trickling spring 
and kindled a great fire, the fitful glare lighting the bare 
cliffs and the queer, sprawling tops of the cottonwoods; 
and after a dinner of fried prairie-chicken went to bed. 
At dawn we were off, and hunted till nearly noon ; when 
Dow, who had been walking to one side, beckoned to me 
and remarked, " There 's something mighty big in the timber 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 169 

down under the cliff ; I guess it 's an elk " (he had never 
seen one before) ; and the next moment, as old Tompkins 
expressed it, " the elk came bilin' out of thecoulie." Old 
Tompkins had a rifle on this occasion and the sight of 
game always drove him crazy ; as I aimed I heard Dow 
telling him " to let the boss do the shooting " ; and I killed 
the elk to a savage interjectional accompaniment of threats 
delivered at old man Tompkins between the shots. 

Elk are sooner killed off than any other game save 
buffalo, but this is due to their size and the nature of the 
ground they frequent rather than to their lack of shyness. 
They like open woodland, or mountainous park country, 
or hills riven by timber coulies ; and such ground is the 
most favorable to the hunter, and the most attractive in 
which to hunt. On the other hand moose, for instance, 
live in such dense cover that it is very difficult to get at 
them ; when elk are driven by incessant persecution to take 
refuge in similar fastnesses they become almost as hard to 
kill. In fact, in this respect the elk stands to the moose 
much as the blacktail stands to the whitetail. The moose 
and whitetail are somewhat warier than the elk and black- 
tail ; but it is the nature of the ground which they inhabit 
that tells most in their favor. On the other hand, as com- 
pared to the blacktail, it is only the elk's size which puts it 
at a disadvantage in the struggle for life when the rifle- 
bearing hunter appears on the scene. It is quite as shy 
and difficult to approach as the deer ; but its bulk renders 
it much more eagerly hunted, more readily seen, and more 
easily hit. Occasionally elk suffer from fits of stupid tame- 
ness or equally stupid panic ; but the same is true of 



1 70 The Wilderness Hunter. 

blacktail. In two or three instances, I have seen elk show 
silly ignorance of danger ; but half a dozen times I have 
known blacktail behave with an even greater degree of 
stupid familiarity. 

There is another point in which the wapiti and black- 
tail agree in contrast to the moose and whitetail. Both 
the latter delight in water-lilies, entering the ponds to find 
them, and feeding on them greedily. The wapiti is very 
fond of wallowing in the mud, and of bathing in pools 
and lakes ; but as a rule it shows as little fondness as 
the blacktail for feeding on water-lilies or other aquatic 
plants. 

In reading of the European red deer, which is nothing 
but a diminutive wapiti, we often see a " stag of ten " 
alluded to as if a full-grown monarch. A full-grown wapiti 
bull, however, always has twelve, and may have fourteen, 
regular normal points on his antlers, besides irregular ad- 
ditional prongs ; and he occasionally has ten points when 
a two-year-old, as I have myself seen with calves captured 
young and tamed. The calf has no horns. The yearling 
carries two foot-long spikes, sometimes bifurcated, so as to 
make four points. The two-year-old often has six or 
eight points on his antlers ; but sometimes ten, although 
they are always small. The three-year-old has eight or ten 
points, while his body may be nearly as large as that of a 
full-grown animal. The four-year-old is normally a ten or 
twelve pointer, but as yet with much smaller antlers than 
those so proudly borne by the old bulls. 

Frontiersmen only occasionally distinguish the prongs 
by name. The brow and bay points are called dog-killers 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Rlk. 

or war-tines ; the tray is known simply as the third point ; 
and the most characteristic prong, the long and massive 
fourth, is now and then called the dagger-point ; the others 
being known as the fifth and sixth. 

In the high mountain forest into which the wapiti has 
been driven, the large, heavily furred northern lynx, the 
lucivee, takes the place of the smaller, thinner-haired lynx 
of the plains and of the more southern districts, the bob- 
cat or wildcat. On the Little Missouri the latter is the 
common form ; yet I have seen a lucivee which was killed 
there. On Clarke's Fork of the Columbia both occur, the 
lucivee being the most common. They feed chiefly on 
hares, squirrels, grouse, fawns, etc. ; and the lucivee, at 
least, also occasionally kills foxes and coons, and has in its 
turn to dread the pounce of the big timber wolf. Both 
kinds of lynx can most easily be killed with dogs, as they 
tree quite readily when thus pursued. The wildcat is often 
followed on horseback, with a pack of hounds, when the 
country is favorable ; and when chased in this fashion 
yields excellent sport. The skin of both these lynxes is 
tender. They often maul an inexperienced pack quite 
badly, inflicting severe scratches and bites on any hound 
which has just resolution enough to come to close quarters, 
but not to rush in furiously ; but a big fighting dog will 
readily kill either. At Thompson's Falls two of Willis 1 
hounds killed a lucivee unaided, though one got torn. 
Archibald Rogers' dog Sly, a cross between a greyhound 
and a bull mastiff, killed a bobcat single-handed. He 
bayed the cat and then began to threaten it, leaping from 
side to side ; suddenly he broke the motion, and rushing 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

in got his foe by the small of the back and killed it with- 
out receiving a scratch. 

The porcupine is sure to attract the notice of any one 
going through the mountains. It is also found in the 
timber belts fringing the streams of the great plains, 
where it lives for a week at a time in a single tree or 
clump of trees, peeling the bark from the limbs. But it 
is the easiest of all animals to exterminate, and is now 
abundant only in deep mountain forests. It is very tame 
and stupid ; it goes on the ground, but its fastest pace is 
a clumsy waddle, and on trees, but is the poorest of tree- 
climbers, grasping the trunk like a small, slow bear. It 
can neither escape nor hide. It trusts to its quills for 
protection, as the skunk does to its odor ; but it is far less 
astute and more helpless than the skunk. It is readily 
made into a very unsuspicious and familiar, but uninter- 
esting, pet. I have known it come into camp in the day- 
time, and forage round the fire by which I was sitting. 
Its coat protects it against most foes. Bears sometimes 
eat it when very hungry, as they will eat anything ; and I 
think that elk occasionally destroy it in sheer wantonness. 
One of its most resolute foes is the fisher, that big sable 
almost a wolverine which preys on everything, from 
a coon to a fawn, or even a small fox. 

The noisy, active little chickarees and chipmunks, 
however, are by far the most numerous and lively deni- 
zens of these deep forests. They are very abundant and 
very noisy ; scolding the travellers exactly as they do the 
bears when the latter dig up the caches of ants. The 
chipmunks soon grow tame and visit camp to pick up the 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 173 

crusts. The chickarees often ascend to the highest pine 
tops, where they cut off the cones, dropping them to the 
ground with a noise which often for a moment puzzles 
the still-hunter. 

Two of the most striking and characteristic birds to be 
seen by him who hunts and camps among the pine-clad 
and spruce-clad slopes of the northern Rockies are a small 
crow and a rather large woodpecker. The former is 
called Clarke's crow, and the latter Lewis' woodpecker. 
Their names commemorate their discoverers, the explorers 
Lewis and Clarke, the first white men who crossed the 
United States to the Pacific, the pioneers of that great 
army of adventurers who since then have roamed and 
hunted over the Great Plains and among the Rocky 
Mountains. 

These birds are nearly of a size, being about as large 
as a flicker. The Clarke's crow, an ash-colored bird with 
black wings and white tail and forehead, is as common as 
it is characteristic, and is sure to attract attention. It is 
as knowing as the rest of its race, and very noisy and 
active. It flies sometimes in a straight line, with regular 
wing-beats, sometimes in a succession of loops like a 
woodpecker, and often lights on rough bark or a dead 
stump in an attitude like the latter ; and it is very fond of 
scrambling and clinging, often head downwards, among 
the outermost cones on the top of a pine, chattering loudly 
all the while. One of the noticeable features of its flight 
is the hollow, beating sound of the wings. It is restless 
and fond of company, going by preference in small parties. 
These little parties often indulge in regular plays, assem- 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

bling in some tall tree-top and sailing round and round it, 
in noisy pursuit of one another, lighting continually among 
the branches. 

The Lewis' woodpecker, a handsome, dark-green bird, 
with white breast and red belly, is much rarer, quite as 
shy, and generally less noisy and conspicuous. Its flight 
is usually strong and steady, like a jay's, and it perches 
upright among the twigs, or takes short flights after pass- 
ing insects, as often as it scrambles over the twigs in the 
ordinary woodpecker fashion. Like its companion, the 
Clarke's crow, it is ordinarily a bird of the high tree-tops, 
and around these it indulges in curious aerial games, again 
like those of the little crow. It is fond of going in troops, 
and such a troop frequently choose some tall pine and 
soar round and above it in irregular spirals. 

The remarkable and almost amphibious little water 
wren, with its sweet song, its familiarity, and its very 
curious habit of running on the bottom of the stream, sev- 
eral feet beneath the surface of the race of rapid water, 
is the most noticeable of the small birds of the Rocky 
Mountains. It sometimes sings loudly while floating with 
half-spread wings on the surface of a little pool. Taken 
as a whole, small birds are far less numerous and notice- 
able in the wilderness, especially in the deep forests, than 
in the groves and farmland of the settled country. The 
hunter and trapper are less familiar with small-bird music 
than with the screaming of the eagle and the large hawks, 
the croaking bark of the raven, the loon's cry, the crane's 
guttural clangor, and the unearthly yelling and hooting of 
the big owls. 



The Wapiti or Round-Horned Elk. 175 

No bird is so common around camp, so familiar, so 
amusing on some occasions, and so annoying on others, 
as that drab-colored imp of iniquity, the whisky-jack also 
known as the moose bird and camp robber. The familiarity 
of these birds is astonishing, and the variety of their cries, 
generally harsh, but rarely musical extraordinary. They 
snatch scraps of food from the entrances of the tents, and 
from beside the camp fire ; and they shred the venison hung 
in the trees unless closely watched. I have seen an irate 
cook of accurate aim knock one off an elk-haunch, with a 
club seized at random ; and I have known another to be 
killed with a switch, and yet another to be caught alive in 
the hand. When game is killed they are the first birds to 
come to the carcass. Following them come the big jays, 
of a uniform dark-blue color, who bully them, and are bullied 
in turn by the next arrivals, the magpies ; while when the 
big ravens come, they keep all the others in the back- 
ground, with the exception of an occasional wide-awake 
magpie. 

For a steady diet no meat tastes better or is more 
nourishing than elk venison ; moreover the different kinds 
of grouse give variety to the fare, and delicious trout swarm 
throughout the haunts of the elk in the Rockies. I have 
never seen them more numerous than in the wonderful and 
beautiful Yellowstone Canyon, a couple of miles below 
where the river pitches over the Great Falls, in wind- 
swayed cataracts of snowy foam. At this point it runs like 
a mill-race, in its narrow winding bed, between immense 
walls of queerly carved and colored rock which tower aloft 
in almost perpendicular cliffs. Late one afternoon in the fall 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

of '90 Ferguson and I clambered down into the canyon, 
with a couple of rods, and in an hour caught all the fish we 
could carry. It then lacked much less than an hour of 
nightfall, and we had a hard climb to get out of the canyon 
before darkness overtook us ; as there was not a vestige of 
a path, and as the climbing was exceedingly laborious and 
at one or two points not entirely without danger, the rocks 
being practicable in very few places, we could hardly have 
made much progress after it became too dark to see. Each 
of us carried the bag of trout in turn, and I personally was 
nearly done out when we reached the top ; and then had 
to trot three miles to the horses. 





THE YELLOWSTONE CANYON. 




CHAPTER X. 

AN ELK-HUNT AT TWO-OCEAN PASS. 

IN September, 1891, with my ranch-partner, Ferguson, 
I made an elk-hunt in northwestern Wyoming among 
the Shoshone Mountains, where they join the Hoodoo 
and Absoraka ranges. There is no more beautiful game- 
country in the U nited States. 1 1 is a park land, where glades, 
meadows, and high mountain pastures break the evergreen 
forest ; a forest which is open compared to the tangled 
density of the woodland farther north. It is a high, cold 
region of many lakes and clear rushing streams. The 
steep mountains are generally of the rounded form so often 
seen in the ranges of the Cordilleras of the United States ; 
but the Koodoos, or Goblins, are carved in fantastic and 
extraordinary shapes ; while the Tetons, a group of isolated 
rock-peaks, show a striking boldness in their lofty out- 
lines. 

This was one of the pleasantest hunts I ever made. 
As always in the mountains, save where the country is so 
rough and so densely wooded that one must go a-foot, we 
had a pack-train ; and we took a more complete outfit than 
we had ever before taken on such a hunt, and so travelled 

177 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

in much comfort. Usually when in the mountains I have 
merely had one companion, or at most a couple, and two 
or three pack-ponies ; each of us doing his share of the 
packing, cooking, fetching water, and pitching the small 
square of canvas which served as tent. In itself packing 
is both an art and a mystery, and a skilful professional 
packer, versed in the intricacies of the " diamond 
hitch," packs with a speed which no non-professional 
can hope to rival, and fixes the side packs and top packs 
with such scientific nicety, and adjusts the doubles and 
turns of the lash-rope so accurately, that everything stays 
in place under any but the most adverse conditions. Of 
course, like most hunters, I can myself in case of need 
throw the diamond hitch after a fashion, and pack on 
either the off or near side. Indeed, unless a man can pack 
it is not possible to make a really hard hunt in the moun- 
tains, if alone, or with only a single companion. The mere 
fair-weather hunter, who trusts entirely to the exertions of 
others, and does nothing more than ride or walk about 
under favorable circumstances, and shoot at what somebody 
else shows him, is a hunter in name only. Whoever would 
really deserve the title must be able at a pinch to shift for 
himself, to grapple with the difficulties and hardships of 
wilderness life unaided, and not only to hunt, but at times 
to travel for days, whether on foot or on horseback, alone. 
However, after one has passed one's novitiate, it is pleasant 
to be comfortable when the comfort does not interfere with 
the sport ; and although a man sometimes likes to hunt 
alone, yet often it is well to be with some old mountain 
hunter, a master of woodcraft, who is a first-rate hand at 



An Rlk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 179 

finding game, creeping upon it, and tracking it when 
wounded. With such a companion one gets much more 
game, and learns many things by observation instead of by 
painful experience. 

On this trip we had with us two hunters, Tazewel 1 
Woody and Elwood Hofer, a packer who acted as cook, 
and a boy to herd the horses. Of the latter, there were 
twenty ; six saddle-animals and fourteen for the packs two 
or three being spare horses, to be used later in carrying the 
elk-antlers, sheep-horns, and other trophies. Like most 
hunters' pack-animals, they were either half broken, or else 
broken down ; tough, unkempt, jaded-looking beasts of 
every color sorrel, buckskin, pinto, white, bay, roan. 
After the day's work was over, they were turned loose to 
shift for themselves ; and about once a week they strayed, 
and all hands had to spend the better part of the day hunt- 
ing for them. The worst ones for straying, curiously 
enough, were three broken-down old " bear-baits," which 
went by themselves, as is generally the case with the cast- 
off horses of a herd. There were two sleeping-tents, 
another for the provisions, in which we ate during bad 
weather, and a canvas tepee, which was put up with 
lodge-poles, Indian fashion, like a wigwam. A tepee is 
more difficult to put up than an ordinary tent ; but it is very 
convenient when there is rain or snow. A small fire kindled 
in the middle keeps it warm, the smoke escaping through 
the open top that is, when it escapes at all ; strings are 
passed from one pole to another, on which to hang wet 
clothes and shoes, and the beds are made around the 
edges. As an offset to the warmth and shelter, the smoke 



i8o The Wilderness Hunter. 

often renders it impossible even to sit upright. We had a 
very good camp-kit, including plenty of cooking- and eat- 
ing-utensils ; and among our provisions were some canned 
goods and sweetmeats, to give a relish to our meals of meat 
and bread. We had fur coats and warm clothes, which 
are chiefly needed at night, and plenty of bedding, includ- 
ing water-proof canvas sheeting and a couple of caribou- 
hide sleeping-bags, procured from the survivors of a party 
of arctic explorers. Except on rainy days I used my buck- 
skin hunting-shirt or tunic ; in dry weather I deem it, 
because of its color, texture, and durability, the best 
possible garb for the still-hunter, especially in the woods. 

Starting a day's journey south of Heart Lake, we 
travelled and hunted on the eastern edge of the great basin, 
wooded and mountainous, wherein rise the head-waters of 
the mighty Snake River. There was not so much as a 
spotted line that series of blazes made with the axe, man's 
first highway through the hoary forest, but this we did 
not mind, as for most of the distance we followed well-worn 
elk-trails. The train travelled in Indian file. At the head, 
to pick the path, rode tall, silent old Woody, a true type 
of the fast-vanishing race of game hunters and Indian 
fighters, a man who had been one of the California forty- 
niners, and who ever since had lived the restless, reckless 
life of the wilderness. Then came Ferguson and myself ; 
then the pack-animals, strung out in line ; while from the 
rear rose the varied oaths of our three companions, whose 
miserable duty it was to urge forward the beasts of burden. 

It is heart-breaking work to drive a pack-train through 
thick timber and over mountains, where there is either a 



An Elk- Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 181 

dim trail or none. The animals have a perverse faculty 
for choosing the wrong turn at critical moments; and they 
are continually scraping under branches and squeezing be- 
tween tree-trunks, to the jeopardy or destruction of their 
burdens. After having been laboriously driven up a very 
steep incline, at the cost of severe exertion both to them 
and to the men, the foolish creatures turn and run down 
to the bottom, so that all the work has to be done over 
again. Some travel too slow ; others travel too fast. Yet 
one cannot but admire the toughness of the animals, and 
the surefootedness with which they pick their way along 
the sheer mountain sides, or among boulders and over 
fallen logs. 

As our way was so rough, we found that we had to halt 
at least once every hour to fix the packs. Moreover, we at 
the head of the column were continually being appealed to 
for help by the unfortunates in the rear. First it would 
be " that white-eyed cayuse ; one side of its pack 's down ! " 
then we would be notified that the saddle-blanket of the 
"lop-eared Indian buckskin" had slipped back; then a 
shout " Look out for the pinto ! " would be followed by 
that pleasing beast's appearance, bucking and squealing, 
smashing dead timber, and scattering its load to the four 
winds. It was no easy task to get the horses across some 
of the boggy places without miring ; or to force them 
through the denser portions of the forest, where there was 
much down timber. Riding with a pack-train, day in and 
day out, becomes both monotonous and irritating, unless 
one is upheld by the hope of a game-country ahead, or by 
the delight of exploration of the unknown. Yet when 



1 82 The Wilderness Hunter. 

buoyed by such a hope, there is pleasure in taking a train 
across so beautiful and wild a country as that which lay on 
the threshold of our hunting grounds in the Shoshones. 
We went over mountain passes, with ranges of scalped 
peaks on either hand ; we skirted the edges of lovely lakes, 
and of streams with boulder-strewn beds ; we plunged into 
depths of sombre woodland, broken by wet prairies. It 
was a picturesque sight to see the loaded pack-train string- 
ing across one of these high mountain meadows, the motley 
colored line of ponies winding round the marshy spots 
through the bright green grass, while beyond rose the dark 
line of frowning forest, with lofty peaks towering in the 
background. Some of the meadows were beautiful with 
many flowers goldenrod, purple aster, bluebells, white 
immortelles, and here and there masses of blood-red Indian 
pinks. In the park-country, on the edges of the evergreen 
forest, were groves of delicate quaking-aspen, the trees 
often growing to quite a height ; their tremulous leaves 
were already changing to bright green and yellow, occa- 
sionally with a reddish blush. In the Rocky Mountains 
the aspens are almost the only deciduous trees, their foliage 
offering a pleasant relief to the eye after the monotony 
of the unending pine and spruce woods, which afford so 
striking a contrast to the hardwood forest east of the 
Mississippi. 

For two days our journey was uneventful, save that we 
came on the camp of a squawman one Beaver Dick, an 
old mountain hunter, living in a skin tepee, where dwelt 
his comely Indian wife and half-breed children. He had 
quite a herd of horses, many of them mares and colts ; 



An Elk- Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 183 

they had evidently been well treated, and came up to us 
fearlessly. 

The morning of the third day of our journey was gray 
and lowering. Gusts of rain blew in my face as I rode at 
the head of the train. It still lacked an hour of noon, as 
we were plodding up a valley beside a rapid brook running 
through narrow willow-flats, the dark forest crowding down 
on either hand from the low foot-hills of the mountains. 
Suddenly the call of a bull elk came echoing down through 
the wet woodland on our right, beyond the brook, seem- 
ingly less than half a mile off ; and was answered by a faint, 
far-off call from a rival on the mountain beyond. Instantly 
halting the train, Woody and I slipped off our horses, 
crossed the brook, and started to still-hunt the first bull. 

In this place the forest was composed of the western 
tamarack ; the large, tall trees stood well apart, and there 
was much down timber, but the ground was covered with 
deep wet moss, over which we trod silently. The elk was 
travelling up-wind, but slowly, stopping continually to paw 
the ground and thresh the bushes with his antlers. He 
was very noisy, challenging every minute or two, being 
doubtless much excited by the neighborhood of his rival 
on the mountain. We followed, Woody leading, guided 
by the incessant calling. 

It was very exciting as we crept toward the great bull, 
and the challenge sounded nearer and nearer. While we 
were still at some distance the pealing notes were like those 
of a bugle, delivered in two bars, first rising, then abruptly 
falling ; as we drew nearer they took on a harsh squealing 
sound. Each call made our veins thrill ; it sounded like 



1 84 The Wilderness Hunter. 

the cry of some huge beast of prey. At last we heard the 
roar of the challenge not eighty yards off. Stealing for- 
ward three or four yards, I saw the tips of the horns through 
a mass of dead timber and young growth, and I slipped to 
one side to get a clean shot. Seeing us, but not making 
out what we were, and full of fierce and insolent excite- 
ment, the wapiti bull stepped boldly toward us with a stately 
swinging gait. Then he stood motionless, facing us, barely 
fifty yards away, his handsome twelve-tined antlers tossed 
aloft, as he held his head with the lordly grace of his kind. 
I fired into his chest, and as he turned I raced forward and 
shot him in the flank ; but the second bullet was not needed, 
for the first wound was mortal, and he fell before going 
fifty yards. 

The dead elk lay among the young evergreens. The 
huge, shapely body was set on legs that were as strong 
as steel rods, and yet slender, clean, and smooth ; they were 
in color a beautiful dark brown, contrasting well with the 
yellowish of the body. The neck and throat were garnished 
with a mane of long hair ; the symmetry of the great horns 
set off the fine, delicate lines of the noble head. He had 
been wallowing, as elk are fond of doing, and the dried 
mud clung in patches to his flank ; a stab in the haunch 
showed that he had been overcome in battle by some 
master bull who had turned him out of the herd. 

We cut off the head, and bore it down to the train. 
The horses crowded together, snorting, with their ears 
pricked forward, as they smelt the blood. We also took 
the loins with us, as we were out of meat, though bull elk 
in the rutting season is not very good. The rain had 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 185 

changed to a steady downpour when we again got under 
way. Two or three miles farther we pitched camp, in a 
clump of pines on a hillock in the bottom of the valley, 
starting hot fires of pitchy stumps before the tents, to dry 
our wet things. 

Next day opened with fog and cold rain. The drenched 
pack-animals, when driven into camp, stood mopingly, with 
drooping heads and arched backs ; they groaned and 
grunted as the loads were placed on their backs and the 
cinches tightened, the packers bracing one foot against the 
pack to get a purchase as they hauled in on the lash-rope. 
A stormy morning is a trial to temper ; the packs are wet 
and heavy, and the cold makes the work even more than 
usually hard on the hands. By ten we broke camp. It 
needs between two and three hours to break camp and get 
such a train properly packed ; once started, our day's 
journey was six to eight hours, making no halt. We started 
up a steep, pine-clad mountain side, broken by cliffs. My 
hunting-shoes, though comfortable, were old and thin, and 
let the water through like a sieve. On the top of the first 
plateau, where black spruce groves were strewn across the 
grassy surface, we saw a band of elk, cows and calves, trot- 
ting off through the rain. Then we plunged down into a 
deep valley, and, crossing it, a hard climb took us to the 
top of a great bare table-land, bleak and wind-swept. We 
passed little alpine lakes, fringed with scattering "warf 
evergreens. Snow lay in drifts on the north sides of the 
gullies ; a cutting wind blew the icy rain in our faces. 
For two or three hours we travelled toward the farther 
edge of the table-land. In one place a spike bull elk 



1 86 The Wilderness Hunter. 

stood half a mile off, in the open ; he travelled to and fro, 
watching us. 

As we neared the edge the storm lulled, and pale, 
watery sunshine gleamed through the rifts in the low- 
scudding clouds. At last our horses stood on the brink 
of a bold cliff. Deep down beneath our feet lay the wild 
and lonely valley of Two-Ocean Pass, walled in on either 
hand by rugged mountain chains, their flanks scarred and 
gashed by precipice and chasm. Beyond, in a wilderness 
of jagged and barren peaks, stretched the Shoshones. At 
the middle point of the pass, two streams welled down 
from either side. At first each flowed in but one bed, but 
soon divided into two ; each of the twin branches then 
joined the like branch of the brook opposite, and swept one 
to the east and one to the west, on their long journey to 
the two great oceans. They ran as rapid brooks, through 
wet meadows and willow-flats, the eastern to the Yellow- 
stone, the western to the Snake. The dark pine forests 
swept down from the flanks and lower ridges of the moun- 
tains to the edges of the marshy valley. Above them jutted 
gray rock peaks,snow-drifts lying in the rents that seamed 
their northern faces. Far below us, from a great basin at 
the foot of the cliff, filled with the pine forest, rose the 
musical challenge of a bull elk ; and we saw a band of cows 
and calves looking like mice as they ran among the trees. 

'* was getting late, and after some search we failed to 
find any trail leading down ; so at last we plunged over 
the brink at a venture. It was very rough scrambling, 
dropping from bench to bench, and in places it was not 
only difficult but dangerous for the loaded pack-animals. 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 187 

Here and there we were helped by well-beaten elk-trails, 
which we could follow for several hundred yards at a time. 
On one narrow pine-clad ledge, we met a spike bull face 
to face ; and in scrambling down a very steep, bare, rock- 
strewn shoulder the loose stones started by the horses' 
hoofs, bounding in great leaps to the forest below, dis- 
lodged two cows. 

As evening fell, we reached the bottom, and pitched 
camp in a beautiful point of open pine forest, thrust out 
into the meadow. There was good shelter, and plenty 
of wood, water, and grass ; we built a huge fire and put 
up our tents, scattering them in likely places among the 
pines, which grew far apart and without undergrowth. 
We dried our steaming clothes, and ate a hearty supper 
of elk-meat ; then we turned into our beds, warm and 
dry, and slept soundly under the canvas, while all night 
long the storm roared without Next morning it still 
stormed fitfully ; the high peaks and ridges round about 
were all capped with snow. Woody and I started on foot 
for an all-day tramp ; the amount of game seen the day 
before showed that we were in a good elk-country, where 
the elk had been so little disturbed that they were travel- 
ling, feeding, and whistling in daylight. For three hours 
we walked across the forest-clad spurs of the foot-hills. 
We roused a small band of elk in thick timber ; but they 
rushed off before we saw them, with much smashing of 
dead branches. Then we climbed to the summit of the 
range. The wind was light and baffling ; it blew from 
all points, veering every few minutes. There were oc- 
casional rain-squalls ; our feet and legs were well soaked ; 



1 88 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and we became chilled through whenever we sat down to 
listen. We caught a glimpse of a big bull feeding up-hill, 
and followed him ; it needed smart running to overtake 
him, for an elk, even while feeding, has a ground-covering 
gait. Finally we got within a hundred and twenty-five 
yards, but in very thick timber, and all I could see plainly 
was the hip and the after-part of the flank. I waited for 
a chance at the shoulder, but the bull got my wind and 
was off before I could pull trigger. It was just one of 
those occasions when there are two courses to pursue, 
neither very good, and when one is apt to regret which- 
ever decision is made. 

At noon we came to the edge of a deep and wide 
gorge, and sat down shivering to await what might turn 
up, our fingers numb, and our wet feet icy. Suddenly the 
love-challenge of an elk came pealing across the gorge, 
through the fine, cold rain, from the heart of the forest 
opposite. An hour's stiff climb, down and up, brought 
us nearly to him ; but the wind forced us to advance from 
below through a series of open glades. He was lying on 
a point of the cliff-shoulder, surrounded by his cows ; and 
he saw us and made off. An hour afterward, as we were 
trudging up a steep hill-side dotted with groves of fir and 
spruce, a young bull of ten points, roused from his day- 
bed by our approach, galloped across us some sixty yards 
off. We were in need of better venison than can be fur- 
nished by an old rutting bull ; so I instantly took a shot 
at the fat and tender young ten-pointer. I aimed well 
ahead and pulled trigger just as he came to a small 
gully ; and he fell into it in a heap with a resounding 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 189 

crash. This was on the birthday of my eldest small son ; 
so I took him home the horns, "for his very own." On: 
the way back that afternoon I shot off the heads of two 
blue grouse, as they perched in the pines. 

That evening the storm broke, and the weather be- 
came clear and very cold, so that the snow made the 
frosty mountains gleam like silver. The moon was full, 
and in the flood of light the wild scenery round our camp 
was very beautiful. As always where we camped for sev- 
eral days, we had fixed long tables and settles, and were 
most comfortable ; and when we came in at nightfall, or 
sometimes long afterward, cold, tired, and hungry, it was 
sheer physical delight to get warm before the roaring fire 
of pitchy stumps, and then to feast ravenously on bread 
and beans, on stewed or roasted elk venison, on grouse 
and sometimes trout, and flapjacks with maple syrup. 

Next morning dawned clear and cold, the sky a glori- 
ous blue. Woody and I started to hunt over the great 
table-land, and led our stout horses up the mountain-side, 
by elk-trails so bad that they had to climb like goats. All 
these elk-trails have one striking peculiarity. They lead 
through thick timber, but every now and then send off 
short, well-worn branches to some cliff-edge or jutting 
crag, commanding a view far and wide over the country 
beneath. Elk Jove to stand on these lookout points, and 
scan the valleys and mountains round about. 

Blue grouse rose from beside our path ; Clarke's crows 
flew past us, with a hollow, flapping sound, or lit in the 
pine-tops, calling and flirting their tails ; the gray-clad 
whisky-jacks, with multitudinous cries, hopped and flut- 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

tered near us. Snow-shoe rabbits scuttled away, the 
big furry feet which give them their name already turn- 
ing white. At last we came out on the great plateau, 
seamed with deep, narrow ravines. Reaches of pasture 
alternated with groves and open forests of varying size. 
Almost immediately we heard the bugle of a bull elk, and 
saw a big band of cows and calves on the other side of a 
valley. There were three bulls with them, one very large, 
and we tried to creep up on them ; but the wind was baf- 
fling and spoiled our stalk. So we returned to our horses, 
mounted them, and rode a mile farther, toward a large 
open wood on a hill-side. When within two hundred 
yards we heard directly ahead the bugle of a bull, and 
pulled up short. In a moment I saw him walking through 
an open glade ; he had not seen us. The slight breeze 
brought us down his scent. Elk have a strong character- 
istic smell ; it is usually sweet, like that of a herd of Al- 
derney cows ; but in old bulls, while rutting, it is rank, 
pungent, and lasting. We stood motionless till the bull 
was out of sight, then stole to the wood, tied our horses, 
and trotted after him. He was travelling fast, occasion- 
ally calling ; whereupon others in the neighborhood would 
answer. Evidently he had been driven out of some herd 
by the master bull. 

He went faster than we did, and while we were vainly 
trying to overtake him we heard another very loud and 
sonorous challenge to our left. It came from a ridge- 
crest at the edge of the woods, among some scattered 
clumps of the northern nut-pine or pinyon a queer coni- 
fer, growing very high on the mountains, its multiforked 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 

trunk and wide-spreading branches giving it the rounded 
top, and, at a distance, the general look of an oak rather 
than a pine. We at once walked toward the ridge, up- 
wind. In a minute or two, to our chagrin, we stumbled 
on an outlying spike bull, evidently kept on the outskirts 
of the herd by the master bull. I thought he would alarm 
all the rest ; but, as we stood motionless, he could not see 
clearly what we were. He stood, ran, stood again, gazed 
at us, and trotted slowly off. We hurried forward as fast 
as we dared, and with too little care ; for we suddenly 
came in view of two cows. As they raised their heads to 
look, Woody squatted down where he was, to keep their 
attention fixed, while I cautiously tried to slip off to one 
side unobserved. Favored by the neutral tint of my 
buckskin hunting-shirt, with which my shoes, leggins, and 
soft hat matched, I succeeded. As soon as I was out of 
sight I ran hard and came up to a hillock crested with 
pinyons, behind which I judged I should find the herd. 
As I approached the crest, their strong, sweet smell smote 
my nostrils. In another moment I saw the tips of a pair 
of mighty antlers, and I peered over the crest with my 
rifle at the ready. Thirty yards off, behind a clump of 
pinyons, stood a huge bull, his head thrown back as he 
rubbed his shoulders with his horns. There were several 
cows around him, and one saw me immediately, and took 
alarm. I fired into the bull's shoulder, inflicting a mortal 
wound ; but he went off, and I raced after him at top 
speed, firing twice into his flank ; then he stopped, very 
sick, and I broke his neck with a fourth bullet. An elk 
often hesitates in the first moments of surprise and fright, 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

and does not get really under way for two or three 
hundred yards ; but, when once fairly started, he may go 
several miles, even though mortally wounded ; therefore, 
the hunter, after his first shot, should run forward as fast 
as he can, and shoot again and again until the quarry 
drops. In this way many animals that would otherwise 
be lost are obtained, especially by the man who has a 
repeating-rifle. Nevertheless the hunter should beware 
of being led astray by the ease with which he can fire half 
a dozen shots from his repeater ; and he should aim as 
carefully with each shot as if it were his last. No possible 
rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim 
with the first shot. 

The elk I thus slew was a giant. His body was the size 
of a steer's, and his antlers, though not unusually long, 
were very massive and heavy. He lay in a glade, on the 
edge of a great cliff. Standing on its brink we over- 
looked a most beautiful country, the home of all homes 
for the elk : a wilderness of mountains, the immense ever- 
green forest broken by park and glade, by meadow and 
pasture, by bare hill-side and barren table-land. Some 
five miles off lay the sheet of water known to the old 
hunters as Spotted Lake ; two or three shallow, sedgy 
places, and spots of geyser formation, made pale green 
blotches on its wind-rippled surface. Far to the south- 
west, in daring beauty and majesty, the grand domes and 
lofty spires of the Tetons shot into the blue sky. Too 
sheer for the snow to rest on their sides, it yet filled the 
rents in their rough flanks, and lay deep between the 
towering pinnacles of dark rock. 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 193 

That night, as on more than one night afterward, a 
bull elk came down whistling to within two or three 
hundred yards of the tents, and tried to join the horse 
herd. The moon had set, so I could not go after it. Elk 
are very restless and active throughout the night in the 
rutting season ; but where undisturbed they feed freely 
in the daytime, resting for two or three hours about noon. 

Next day, which was rainy, we spent in getting in the 
antlers and meat of the two dead elk ; and I shot off the 
heads of two or three blue grouse on the way home. 
The following day I killed another bull elk, following him 
by the strong, not unpleasing, smell, and hitting him 
twice as he ran, at about eighty yards. So far I had had 
good luck, killing everything I had shot at ; but now the 
luck changed, through no fault of mine, as far as I could 
see, and Ferguson had his innings. The day after I 
killed this bull he shot two fine mountain rams ; and 
during the remainder of our hunt he killed five elk, one 
cow, for meat, and four good bulls. The two rams were 
with three others, all old and with fine horns ; Ferguson 
peeped over a lofty precipice and saw them coming up it 
only fifty yards below him. His two first and finest bulls 
were obtained by hard running and good shooting ; the 
herds were on the move at the time, and only his speed 
of foot and soundness of wind enabled him to get near 
enough for a shot. One herd started before he got close, 
and he killed the master bull by a shot right through the 
heart, as it trotted past, a hundred and fifty yards distant. 

As for me, during the next ten days I killed nothing 
save one cow for meat ; and this though I hunted hard 



194 The Wilderness Hunter. 

every day from morning till night, no matter what the 
weather. It was stormy, with hail and snow almost every 
day ; and after working hard from dawn until nightfall, 
laboriously climbing the slippery mountain-sides, walking 
through the wet woods, and struggling across the bare 
plateaus and cliff-shoulders, while the violent blasts of 
wind drove the frozen rain in our faces, we would come 
in after dusk wet through and chilled to the marrow. 
Even when it rained in the valleys it snowed on the 
mountain-tops, and there was no use trying to keep our 
leet dry. I got three shots at bull elk, two being very 
hurried snap-shots at animals running in thick timber, the 
other a running-shot in the open, at over two hundred 
yards ; and I missed all three. On most days I saw no 
bull worth shooting ; the two or three I did see or hear 
we failed to stalk, the light, shifty wind baffling us, or else 
an outlying cow which we had not seen giving the alarm. 
There were many blue and a few ruffed grouse in the 
woods, and I occasionally shot off the heads of a couple 
on my way homeward in the evening. In racing after 
one elk, I leaped across a gully and so bruised and twisted 
my heel on a rock that, for the remainder of my stay in 
the mountains, I had to walk on the fore part of that 
foot. This did not interfere much with my walking, 
however, except in going down-hill. 

Our ill success was in part due to sheer bad luck ; but 
the chief element therein was the presence of a great 
hunting-party of Shoshone Indians. Split into bands of 
eight or ten each, they scoured the whole country on 
their tough, sure-footed ponies. They always hunted on 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 195 

horseback, and followed the elk at full speed wherever 
they went. Their method of hunting was to organize 
great drives, the riders strung in lines far apart ; they 
signalled to one another by means of willow whistles, with 
which they also imitated the calling of the bull elk, thus 
tolling the animals to them, or making them betray their 
whereabouts. As they slew whatever they could, but by 
preference cows and calves, and as they were very perse- 
vering, but also very excitable and generally poor shots, 
so that they wasted much powder, they not only wrought 
havoc among the elk, but also scared the survivors out of 
all the country over which they hunted. 

Day in and day out we plodded on. In a hunting- 
trip the days of long monotony in getting to the ground, 
and the days of unrequited toil after it has been reached, 
always far outnumber the red-letter days of success. But 
it is just these times of failure that really test the hunter. 
In the long run, common-sense and dogged perseverance 
avail him more than any other qualities. The man who does 
not give up, but hunts steadily and resolutely through the 
spells of bad luck until the luck turns, is the man who 
wins success in the end. 

After a week at Two-Ocean Pass, we gathered our 
pack-animals one frosty morning, and again set off across 
the mountains. A two-days' jaunt took us to the summit 
of Wolverine Pass, near Pinyon Peak, beside a little 
mountain tarn ; each morning we found its surface 
skimmed with black ice, for the nights were cold. After 
three or four days, we shifted camp to the mouth of 
Wolverine Creek, to get off the hunting grounds of the 



i9 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Indians. We had used up our last elk-meat that morn- 
ing, and when we were within a couple of hours' journey 
of our intended halting-place, Woody and I struck off on 
foot for a hunt. Just before sunset we came on three or 
four elk ; a spike bull stood for a moment behind some 
thick evergreens a hundred yards off. Guessing at his 
shoulder, I fired, and he fell dead after running a few 
rods. I had broken the luck, after ten days of ill success. 
Next morning Woody and I, with the packer, rode to 
where this elk lay. We loaded the meat on a pack-horse, 
and let the packer take both the loaded animal and our 
own saddle-horses back to camp, while we made a hunt on 
foot. We went up the steep, forest-clad mountain-side, and 
before we had walked an hour heard two elk whistling 
ahead of us. The woods were open, and quite free from 
undergrowth, and we were able to advance noiselessly; 
there was no wind, for the weather was still, clear, and 
cold. Both of the elk were evidently very much excited, 
answering each other continually ; they had probably been 
master bulls, but had become so exhausted that their rivals 
had driven them from the herds, forcing them to remain 
in seclusion until they regained their lost strength. As 
we crept stealthily forward, the calling grew louder and 
louder, until we could hear the grunting sounds with 
which the challenge of the nearest ended. He was in a 
large wallow, which was also a lick. When we were still 
sixty yards off, he heard us, and rushed out, but wheeled 
and stood a moment to gaze, puzzled by my buckskin 
suit. I fired into his throat, breaking his neck, and down 
he went in a heap. Rushing in and turning, I called to 



An Elk-Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 197 

Woody, " He's a twelve-pointer, but the horns are small ! " 
As I spoke I heard the roar of the challenge of the other 
bull not two hundred yards ahead, as if in defiant answer 
to my shot. 

Running quietly forward, I speedily caught a glimpse 
of his body. He was behind some fir-trees about seventy 
yards off, and I could not see which way he was standing, 
and so fired into the patch of flank which was visible, aim- 
ing high, to break the back. My aim was true, and the 
huge beast crashed down-hill through the evergreens, pulK 
ing himself on his fore legs for fifteen or twenty rods, his 
hind quarters trailing. Racing forward, I broke his neck. 
His antlers were the finest I ever got. A couple of whisky- 
jacks appeared at the first crack of the rifle with their 
customary astonishing familiarity and heedlessness of the 
hunter; they followed the wounded bull as he dragged 
his great carcass down the hill, and pounced with ghoulish 
bloodthirstiness on the gouts of blood that were sprinkled 
over the green herbage. 

These two bulls lay only a couple of hundred yards 
apart, on a broad game-trail, which was as well beaten 
as a good bridle-path. We began to skin out the heads ; 
and as we were finishing we heard another bull challenging 
far up the mountain. He came nearer and nearer, and as 
soon as we had ended our work we grasped our rifles and 
trotted toward him along the game-trail. He was very 
noisy, uttering his loud, singing challenge every minute 
or two. The trail was so broad and firm that we walked 
in perfect silence. After going only five or six hundred 
yards, we got very close indeed, and stole forward on tip- 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

toe, listening to the roaring music. The sound came from 
a steep, narrow ravine, to one side of the trail, and I walked 
toward it with my rifle at the ready. A slight puff gave 
the elk my wind, and he dashed out of the ravine like a 
deer; but he was only thirty yards off, and my bullet 
went into his shoulder as he passed behind a clump of 
young spruce. I plunged into the ravine, scrambled out 
of it, and raced after him. In a minute I saw him stand- 
ing with drooping head, and two more shots finished him. 
He also bore fine antlers. It was a great piece of luck to 
get three such fine bulls at the cost of half a day's light 
work ; but we had fairly earned them, having worked hard 
for ten days, through rain, cold, hunger, and fatigue, to no 
purpose. That evening my home-coming to camp, with 
three elk-tongues and a brace of ruffed grouse hung at my 
belt, was most happy. 

Next day it snowed, but we brought a pack-pony to 
where the three great bulls lay, and took their heads to 
camp ; the flesh was far too strong to be worth taking, 
for it was just the height of the rut. 

This was the end of my hunt ; and a day later Hofer 
and I, with two pack-ponies, made a rapid push for the 
Upper Geyser Basin. We travelled fast. The first day 
was gray and overcast, a cold wind blowing strong in our 
faces. Toward evening we came on a bull elk in a willow 
thicket ; he was on his knees in a hollow, thrashing and 
beating the willows with his antlers. At dusk we halted 
and went into camp, by some small pools on the summit 
of the pass north of Red Mountain. The elk were calling 
all around us. We pitched our cozy tent, dragged great 




HEAD OF ELK. 



SHOT SEPTEMBER, l8gi. 



An Elk- Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 199 

stumps for the fire, cut evergreen boughs for our beds, 
watered the horses, tethered them to improvised picket- 
pins in a grassy glade, and then set about getting supper 
ready. The wind had gone down, and snow was falling 
thick in large, soft flakes ; we were evidently at the be- 
ginning of a heavy snowstorm. All night we slept soundly 
in our snug tent. When we arose at dawn there was a 
foot and a half of snow on the ground, and the flakes were 
falling as fast as ever. There is no more tedious work than 
striking camp in bad weather ; and it was over two hours 
from the time we rose to the time we started. It is sheer 
misery to untangle picket-lines and to pack animals when 
the ropes are frozen ; and by the time we had loaded 
the two shivering, wincing pack-ponies, and had bridled 
and saddled our own riding-animals, our hands and feet 
were numb and stiff with cold, though we were really 
hampered by our warm clothing. My horse was a wild, 
nervous roan, and as I swung carelessly into the saddle, 
he suddenly began to buck before I got my right leg over, 
and threw me off. My thumb was put out of joint. I 
pulled it in again, and speedily caught my horse in the 
dead timber. Then I treated him as what the cowboys 
call a " mean horse," and mounted him carefully, so as not 
to let him either buck or go over backward. However, 
his preliminary success had inspirited him, and a dozen 
times that day he began to buck, usually choosing a down 
grade, where the snow was deep, and there was much 
fallen timber. 

All day long we pushed steadily through the cold, 
blinding snowstorm. Neither squirrels nor rabbits were 



200 The Wilderness Hunter. 

abroad ; and a few Clarke's crows, whisky-jacks, and chick- 
adees were the only living things we saw. At nightfall, 
chilled through, we reached the Upper Geyser Basin. 
Here I met a party of railroad surveyors and engineers, 
coming in from their summer's field-work. One of them 
lent me a saddle-horse and a pack-pony, and we went on 
together, breaking our way through the snow-choked 
roads to the Mammoth Hot Springs, while Hofer took 
my own horses back to Ferguson. 

I have described this hunt at length because, though 
I enjoyed it particularly on account of the comfort in 
which we travelled and the beauty of the land, yet, in 
point of success in finding and killing game, in value of 
trophies procured, and in its alternations of good and bad 
luck, it may fairly stand as the type of a dozen such hunts 
I have made. Twice I have been much more successful ; 
the difference being due to sheer luck, as I hunted equally 
hard in all three instances. Thus on this trip I killed 
and saw nothing but elk ; yet the other members of the 
party either saw, or saw fresh signs of, not only blacktail 
deer, but sheep, bear, bison, moose, cougar, and wolf. 
Now in 1889 I hunted over almost precisely similar 
country, only farther to the northwest, on the boundary 
between Idaho and Montana, and, with the exception of 
sheep, I stumbled on all the animals mentioned, and 
white goat in addition, so that my bag of twelve head 
actually included eight species much the best bag I ever 
made, and the only one that could really be called out of 
the common. In 1884, on a trip to the Bighorn Moun- 
tains, I killed three bear, six elk and six deer. In laying 



An R Ik- Hunt at Two-Ocean Pass. 201 

in the winter stock of meat for my ranch I often far 
excelled these figures as far as mere numbers went ; but 
on no other regular hunting trip, where the quality and 
not the quantity of the game was the prime consideration, 
have I ever equalled them ; and on several where- I 
worked hardest I hardly averaged a head a week. The 
occasional days or weeks of phenomenal luck, are more 
than earned by the many others where no luck whatever 
follows the very hardest work. Yet, if a man hunts with 
steady resolution he is apt to strike enough lucky days 
amply to repay him. 

On this Shoshone trip I fired fifty-eight shots. In 
preference to using the knife I generally break the neck 
of an elk which is still struggling ; and I fire at one as 
long as it can stand, preferring to waste a few extra 
bullets, rather than see an occasional head of game 
escape. In consequence of these two traits the nine elk 
I got (two running at sixty and eighty yards, the others 
standing, at from thirty to a hundred) cost me twenty- 
three bullets ; and I missed three shots all three, it is 
but fair to say, difficult ones. I also cut off the heads of 
seventeen grouse, with twenty-two shots ; and killed two 
ducks with ten shots fifty-eight in all. On the Bighorn 
trip I used a hundred and two cartridges. On no other 
trip did I use fifty. 

To me still-hunting elk in the mountains, when they 
are calling, is one of the most attractive of sports, not 
only because of the size and stately beauty of the quarry 
and the grand nature of the trophy, but because of the 
magnificence of the scenery, and the stirring, manly, 



202 The Wilderness Hunter. 

exciting nature of the chase itself. It yields more vigor- 
ous enjoyment than does lurking stealthily through the 
grand but gloomy monotony of the marshy woodland 
where dwells the moose. The climbing among the steep 
forest-clad and glade-strewn mountains is just difficult 
enough thoroughly to test soundness in wind and limb, 
while without the heart-breaking fatigue of white goat 
hunting. The actual grapple with an angry grisly is of 
course far more full of strong, eager pleasure ; but bear 
hunting is the most uncertain, and usually the least pro- 
ductive, of sports. 

As regards strenuous, vigorous work, and pleasurable 
excitement the chase of the bighorn alone stands higher. 
But the bighorn, grand beast of the chase though he be, 
is surpassed in size, both of body and of horns, by certain 
of the giant sheep of Central Asia ; whereas the wapiti is 
not only the most stately and beautiful of American game 
far more so than the bison and moose, his only rivals 
in size but is also the noblest of the stag kind through- 
out the world. Whoever kills him has killed the chief of 
his race ; for he stands far above his brethren of Asia and 
Europe. 





CHAPTER XL 

THE MOOSE ; THE BEAST OF THE WOODLAND. 

THE moose is the giant of all deer ; and many hun 
ters esteem it the noblest of American game. Be- 
yond question there are few trophies more prized 
than the huge shovel horns of this strange dweller in the 
cold northland forests. 

I shot my first moose after making several fruitless 
hunting trips with this special game in view. The season 
I finally succeeded it was only after having hunted two 
or three weeks in vain, among the Bitter Root Mountains, 
and the ranges lying southeast of them. 

I began about the first of September by making a trial 
with my old hunting friend Willis. We speedily found 
a country where there were moose, but of the animals 
themselves we never caught a glimpse. We tried to kill 
them by hunting in the same manner that we hunted elk ; 
that is, by choosing a place where there was sign, and 
going carefully through it against or across the wind. 
However, this plan failed ; though at that very time we 
succeeded in killing elk in this way, devoting one or two 
days to their pursuit. There were both elk and moose 

203 



204 The Wilderness Hunter. 

in the country, but they were usually found in different 
kinds of ground, though often close alongside one another. 
The former went in herds, the cows, calves, and yearlings 
by themselves, and they roamed through the higher and 
more open forests, well up towards timber line. The 
moose, on the contrary, were found singly or in small parties 
composed at the outside of a bull, a cow, and her young of 
two years ; for the moose is practically monogamous, in 
strong contrast to the highly polygamous wapiti and 
caribou. 

The moose did not seem to care much whether they 
lived among the summits of the mountains or not, so long 
as they got the right kind of country ; for they were much 
more local in their distribution, and at this season less 
given to wandering than their kin with round horns. 
What they wished was a cool, swampy region of very 
dense growth ; in the main chains of the northern Rock- 
ies even the valleys are high enough to be cold. Of 
course many of the moose lived on the wooded summits 
of the lower ranges ; and most of them came down lower 
in winter than in summer, following about a fortnight 
after the elk ; but if in a large tract of woods the cover 
was dense and the ground marshy, though it was in a val- 
ley no higher than the herds of the ranchmen grazed, or 
perchance even in the immediate neighborhood of a small 
frontier hamlet, then it might be chosen by some old bull 
who wished to lie in seclusion till his horns were grown, 
or by some cow with a calf to raise. Before settlers came 
to this high mountain region of Western Montana, a 
moose would often thus live in an isolated marshy tract 



The Moose. 205 

surrounded by open country. They grazed throughout 
the summer on marsh plants, notably lily stems, and nib- 
bled at the tops of the very tall natural hay of the mead- 
ows. The legs of the beast are too long and the neck too 
short to allow it to graze habitually on short grass ; "yet 
in the early spring when greedy for the tender blades of 
young, green marsh grass, the moose will often shuffle 
down on its knees to get at them, and it will occasionally 
perform the same feat to get a mouthful or two of snow 
in winter. 

The moose which lived in isolated, exposed localities 
were speedily killed or driven away after the incoming of 
settlers ; and at the time that we hunted we found no sign 
of them until we reached the region of continuous forest 
Here, in a fortnight's hunting, we found as much sign as 
we wished, and plenty of it fresh ; but the animals them- 
selves we not only never saw but we never so much as 
heard. Often after hours of careful still-hunting or cau- 
tious tracking, we found the footprints deep in the soft 
earth, showing where our quarry had winded or heard 
us, and had noiselessly slipped away from the danger. It 
is astonishing how quietly a moose can steal through the 
woods if it wishes : and it has what is to the hunter a very 
provoking habit of making a half or three quarters circle 
before lying down, and then crouching with its head so 
turned that it can surely perceive any pursuer who may 
follow its trail. We tried every method to outwit the 
beasts. We attempted to track them ; we beat through 
likely spots ; sometimes we merely "sat on a log" and 
awaited events, by a drinking hole, meadow, mud wallow 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

or other such place (a course of procedure which often 
works well in still-hunting); but all in vain. 

Our main difficulty lay in the character of the woods 
which the moose haunted. They were choked and tangled 
to the last degree, consisting of a mass of thick-growing 
conifers, with dead timber strewn in every direction, and 
young growth filling the spaces between the trunks. We 
could not see twenty yards ahead of us, and it was almost 
impossible to walk without making a noise. Elk were 
occasionally found in these same places ; but usually they 
frequented more open timber, where the hunting was 
beyond comparison easier. Perhaps more experienced 
hunters would have killed their game ; though in such 
cover the best tracker and still-hunter alive cannot always 
reckon on success with really wary animals. But, be this 
as it may, we, at any rate, were completely baffled, and I 
began to think that this moose-hunt, like all my former 
ones, was doomed to end in failure. 

However, a few days later I met a crabbed old trap- 
per named Hank Griffin, who was going after beaver in the 
mountains, and who told me that if I would come with 
him he would show me moose. I jumped at the chance, 
and he proved as good as his word ; though for the first 
two trials my ill luck did not change. 

At the time that it finally did change we had at last 
reached a place where the moose were on favorable ground. 
A high, marshy valley stretched for several miles between 
two rows of stony mountains, clad with a forest of rather 
small fir-trees. This valley was covered with reeds, alders, 
and rank grass, and studded with little willow-bordered 



The Moose. 207 

ponds and island-like clumps of spruce and graceful 
tamaracks. 

Having surveyed the ground and found moose sign the 
preceding afternoon, we were up betimes in the cool 
morning to begin our hunt. Before sunrise we were 
posted on a rocky spur of the foot-hills, behind a mask of 
evergreens ; ourselves unseen we overlooked all the valley, 
and we knew we could see any animal which might be 
either feeding away from cover or on its journey home- 
ward from its feeding ground to its day-bed. 

As it grew lighter we scanned the valley with increas- 
ing care and eagerness. The sun rose behind us ; and 
almost as soon as it was up we made out some large beast 
moving among the dwarf willows beside a little lake half 
a mile in our front. In a few minutes the thing walked 
out where the bushes were thinner, and we saw that it was 
a young bull moose browsing on the willow tops. He had 
evidently nearly finished his breakfast, and he stood idly 
for some moments, now and then lazily cropping a mouth- 
ful of twig tips. Then he walked off with great strides in 
a straight line across the marsh, splashing among the wet 
water-plants, and ploughing through boggy spaces with the 
indifference begotten of vast strength and legs longer than 
those of any other animal on this continent. At times he 
entered beds of reeds which hid him from view, though 
their surging and bending showed the wake of his passage ; 
at other times he walked through meadows of tall grass, 
the withered yellow stalks rising to his flanks, while his 
body loomed above them, glistening black and wet in the 
level sunbeams. Once lie stopped for a few moments on 



208 The Wilderness Hunter. 

a rise of dry ground, seemingly to enjoy the heat of the 
young sun ; he stood motionless, save that his ears were 
continually pricked, and his head sometimes slightly 
turned, showing that even in this remote land he was on 
the alert. Once, with a somewhat awkward motion, he 
reached his hind leg forward to scratch his neck. Then 
he walked forward again into the marsh ; where the 
water was quite deep he broke into the long, stretching, 
springy trot, which forms the characteristic gait of his 
kind, churning the marsh water into foam. He held his 
head straight forwards, the antlers resting on his shoulders. 

After awhile he reached a spruce island, through which 
he walked to and fro ; but evidently could find therein no 
resting-place quite to his mind, for he soon left and went 
on to another. Here after a little wandering he chose a 
point where there was some thick young growth, which 
hid him from view when he lay down, though not when he 
stood. After some turning he settled himself in his bed 
just as a steer would. 

He could not have chosen a spot better suited for us. 
He was nearly at the edge of the morass, the open space 
between the spruce clump where he was lying and the 
rocky foot-hills being comparatively dry and not much 
over a couple of hundred yards broad ; while some sixty 
yards from it, and between it and the hills, was a little 
hummock, tufted with firs, so as to afford us just the 
cover we needed. Keeping back from the edge of the 
morass we were able to walk upright through the for- 
est, until we got the point where he was lying in a 



The Moose. 209 

line with this little hummock. We then dropped on our 
hands and knees, and crept over the soft, wet sward, where 
there was nothing to make a noise. Wherever the ground 
rose at all we crawled flat on our bellies. The air was still, 
for it was a very calm morning. 

At last we reached the hummock, and I got into po- 
sition for a shot, taking a final look at my faithful 45-90 
Winchester to see that all was in order. Peering cau- 
tiously through the shielding evergreens, I at first could 
not make out where the moose was lying, until my eye 
was caught by the motion of his big ears, as he occa- 
sionally flapped them lazily forward. Even then I could 
not see his outline ; but I knew where he was, and having 
pushed my rifle forward on the moss, I snapped a dry twig 
to make him rise. My veins were thrilling and my heart 
beating with that eager, fierce excitement, known only to 
the hunter of big game, and forming one of the keenest 
and strongest of the many pleasures which with him go to 
make up "the wild joy of living." 

As the sound of the snapping twig smote his ears the 
moose rose nimbly to his feet, with a lightness on which 
one would not have reckoned in a beast so heavy of body. 
He stood broadside to me for a moment, his ungainly 
head slightly turned, while his ears twitched and his 
nostrils snuffed the air. Drawing a fine bead against 
his black hide, behind his shoulder and two thirds of 
his body's depth below his shaggy withers, I pressed 
the trigger. He neither flinched nor reeled, but started 
with his regular ground-covering trot through the spruces ; 



210 The Wilderness Hunter. 

yet I knew he was mine, for the light blood sprang from 
both of his nostrils, and he fell dying on his side before he 
had gone thirty rods. 

Later in the fall I was again hunting among the lofty 
ranges which continue towards the southeast the chain 
of the Bitter Root, between Idaho and Montana. There 
were but two of us, and we were travelling very light, 
each having but one pack-pony and the saddle animal he 
bestrode. We were high among the mountains, and fol- 
lowed no regular trail. Hence our course was often one 
of extreme difficulty. Occasionally, we took our animals 
through the forest near timber line, where the slopes were 
not too steep ; again we threaded our way through a line 
of glades, or skirted the foot-hills, in an open, park coun- 
try ; and now and then we had to cross stretches of tan- 
gled mountain forest, making but a few miles a day, at the 
cost of incredible toil, and accomplishing even this solely 
by virtue of the wonderful docility and sure-footedness of 
the ponies, and of my companion's skill with the axe and 
thorough knowledge of woodcraft. 

Late one cold afternoon we came out in a high alpine 
valley in which there was no sign of any man's having ever 
been before us. Down its middle ran a clear brook. On 
each side was a belt of thick spruce forest, covering the 
lower flanks of the mountains. The trees came down in 
points and isolated clumps to the brook, the banks of which 
were thus bordered with open glades, rendering the travel- 
ling easy and rapid. 

Soon after starting up this valley we entered a beaver 
meadow of considerable size, it was covered with lush, 



The Moose. 211 

rank grass, and the stream wound through it rather slug- 
gishly in long curves, which were fringed by a thick growth 
of dwarfed willows. In one or two places it broadened 
into small ponds, bearing a few lily-pads. This meadow 
had been all tramped up by moose. Trails led hither and 
thither through the grass, the willow twigs were cropped 
off, and the muddy banks of the little black ponds were 
indented by hoof-marks. Evidently most of the lilies had 
been plucked. The footprints were unmistakable ; a 
moose's foot is longer and slimmer than a caribou's, while 
on the other hand it is much larger than an elk's, and a 
longer oval in shape. 

Most of the sign was old, this high alpine meadow, sur- 
rounded by snow mountains, having clearly been a favorite 
resort for moose in the summer ; but some enormous, fresh 
tracks told that one or more old bulls were still frequent- 
ing the place. 

The light was already fading, and, of course, we did 
not wish to camp where we were, because we would then 
certainly scare the moose. Accordingly we pushed up 
the valley for another mile, through an open forest, the 
ground being quite free from underbrush and dead timber, 
and covered with a carpet of thick moss, in which the feet 
sank noiselessly. Then we came to another beaver-meadow, 
which offered fine feed for the ponies. On its edge we 
hastily pitched camp, just at dusk. We tossed down the 
packs in a dry grove, close to the brook, and turned the 
tired ponies loose in the meadow, hobbling the little mare 
that carried the bell. The ground was smooth. We threw 
a cross-pole from one to the other of two young spruces, 



212 The Wilderness Hunter. 

which happened to stand handily, and from it stretched 
and pegged out a piece of canvas, which we were using as 
a shelter tent. Beneath this we spread our bedding, laying 
under it the canvas sheets in which it had been wrapped. 
There was still bread left over from yesterday's baking, 
and in a few moments the kettle was boiling and the frying- 
pan sizzling, while one of us skinned and cut into suitable 
pieces two grouse we had knocked over on our march. 
For fear of frightening the moose we built but a small 
fire, and went to bed soon after supper, being both tired 
and cold. Fortunately, what little breeze there was blew 
up the valley. 

At dawn I was awake, and crawled out of my buffalo 
bag, shivering and yawning. My companion still slum- 
bered heavily. White frost covered whatever had been 
left outside. The cold was sharp, and I hurriedly 
slipped a pair of stout moccasins on my feet, drew on my 
gloves and cap, and started through the ghostly woods for 
the meadow where we had seen the moose sign. The tufts 
of grass were stiff with frost ; black ice skimmed the edges 
and quiet places of the little brook. 

I walked slowly, it being difficult not to make a noise 
by cracking sticks or brushing against trees, in the gloom ; 
but the forest was so open that it favored me. When I 
reached the edge of the beaver-meadow it was light enough 
to shoot, though the front sight still glimmered indistinctly. 
Streaks of cold red showed that the sun would soon rise. 

Before leaving the shelter of the last spruces I halted 
to listen ; and almost immediately heard a curious splash- 
ing sound from the middle of the meadow, where the brook 



The Moose. 213 

broadened into small willow-bordered pools. I knew at 
once that a moose was in one of these pools, wading about 
and pulling up the water-lilies by seizing their slippery 
stems in his lips, plunging his head deep under water to 
do so. The moose love to feed in this way in the-het 
months, when they spend all the time they can in the 
water, feeding or lying down ; nor do they altogether 
abandon the habit even when the weather is so cold that 
icicles form in their shaggy coats. 

Crouching, I stole noiselessly along the edge of the wil- 
low thicket. The stream twisted through it from side to side 
in zigzags, so that every few rods I got a glimpse down a 
lane of black water. In a minute I heard a slight splash- 
ing near me ; and on passing the next point of bushes, I 
saw the shadowy outline of the moose's hindquarters, 
standing in a bend of the water. In a moment he walked 
onwards, disappearing. I ran forward a couple of rods, 
and then turned in among the willows, to reach the brook 
where it again bent back towards me. The splashing in 
the water, and the rustling of the moose's body against 
the frozen twigs, drowned the little noise made by my 
moccasined feet. 

I strode out on the bank at the lower end of a long 
narrow pool of water, dark and half frozen. In this pool, 
half way down and facing me, but a score of yards off, 
stood the mighty marsh beast, strange and uncouth in 
look as some monster surviving over from the Pliocene. 
His vast bulk loomed black and vague in the dim gray 
dawn ; his huge antlers stood out sharply ; columns of 
steam rose from his nostrils. For several seconds he 



214 The Wilderness Hunter. 

fronted me motionless ; then he began to turn, slowly, 
and as if he had a stiff neck. When quarter way round 
I fired into his shoulder ; whereat he reared and bounded 
on the bank with a great leap, vanishing in the willows. 
Through these I heard him crash like a whirlwind for a 
dozen rods ; then down he fell, and when I reached the 
spot he had ceased to struggle. The ball had gone through 
his heart. 

When a moose is thus surprised at close quarters, it 
will often stand at gaze for a moment or two, and then 
turn stiffly around until headed in the right direction ; 
once thus headed aright it starts off with extraordinary 
speed. 

The flesh of the moose is very good ; though some 
deem it coarse. Old hunters, who always like rich, 
greasy food, rank a moose's nose with a beaver's tail, as 
the chief of backwood delicacies ; personally I never liked 
either. The hide of the moose, like the hide of the elk, 
is of very poor quality, much inferior to ordinary buck- 
skin ; caribou hide is the best of all, especially when used 
as webbing for snow-shoes. 

The moose is very fond of frequenting swampy woods 
throughout the summer, and indeed late into the fall. 
These swampy woods are not necessarily in the lower 
valleys, some being found very high among the moun- 
tains. By preference it haunts those containing lakes, 
where it can find the long lily-roots of which it is so fond, 
and where it can escape the torment of the mosquitoes 
and deer-flies by lying completely submerged save for its 
nostrils. It is a bold and good swimmer, readily crossing 




HEAD OF MOOSE. 



SHOT SEPTEMBER, l88c 



The Moose. 215 

lakes of large size ; but it is of course easily slain if dis- 
covered by canoe-men while in the water. It travels well 
through bogs, but not as well as the caribou ; and it will 
not venture on ice at all if it can possibly avoid it. 

After the rut begins the animals roam everywhere 
through the woods ; and where there are hardwood forests 
the winter-yard is usually made among them, on high 
ground, away from the swamps. In the mountains the 
deep snows drive the moose, like all other game, down 
to the lower valleys, in hard winters. In the summer it 
occasionally climbs to the very summits of the wooded 
ranges, to escape the flies ; and it is said that in certain 
places where wolves are plenty the cows retire to the tops 
of the mountains to calve. More often, however, they 
select some patch of very dense cover, in a swamp or by 
a lake, for this purpose. Their ways of life of course 
vary with the nature of the country they frequent. In 
the towering chains of the Rockies, clad in sombre and 
unbroken evergreen forests, their habits, in regard to 
winter- and summer-homes, and choice of places of seclu- 
sion for cows with young calves and bulls growing their 
antlers, differ from those of their kind which haunt the 
comparatively low, hilly, lake-studded country of Maine 
and Nova Scotia, where the forests are of birch, beech, 
and maple, mixed with the pine, spruce, and hemlock. 

The moose being usually monogamous is never found 
in great herds like the wapiti and caribou. Occasionally 
a troop of fifteen or twenty individuals may be seen, but 
this is rare ; more often it is found singly, in pairs, or in 
family parties, composed of a bull, a cow, and two or 



216 The Wilderness Hunter. 

more calves and yearlings. In yarding, two or more such 
families may unite to spend the winter together in an 
unusually attractive locality ; and during the rut many 
bulls are sometimes found together, perhaps following 
the trail of a cow in single file. 

In the fall, winter, and early spring, and in certain 
places during summer, the moose feeds principally by 
browsing, though always willing to vary its diet by 
mosses, lichens, fungi, and ferns. In the eastern forests, 
with their abundance of hardwood, the birch, maple, and 
moose- wood form its favorite food. In the Rocky Moun- 
tains, where the forests are almost purely evergreen, it 
feeds on such willows, alders, and aspens as it can find, 
and also, when pressed by necessity, on balsam, fir, spruce, 
and very young pine. It peels the bark between its hard 
palate and sharp lower teeth, to a height of seven or 
eight feet ; these " peelings " form conspicuous moose 
signs. It crops the juicy, budding twigs and stem tops 
to the same height; and if the tree is too tall it "rides" 
it, that is, straddles the slender trunk with its fore legs, 
pushing it over and walking up it until the desired 
branches are within reach. No beast is more destructive 
to the young growth of a forest than the moose. Where 
much persecuted it feeds in the late evening, early morn- 
ing, and by moonlight. Where rarely disturbed it passes 
the day much as cattle do, alternately resting and feeding 
for two or three hours at a time. 

Young moose, when caught, are easily tamed, and are 
very playful, delighting to gallop to and fro, kicking, 
striking, butting, and occasionally making grotesque 



The Moose. 217 

faces. As they grow old they are apt to become danger- 
ous, and even their play takes the form of a mock fight. 
Some lumbermen I knew on the Aroostook, in Maine, 
once captured a young moose, and put it in a pen of logs. 
A few days later they captured another, somewhat 
smaller, and put it in the same pen, thinking the first 
would be grateful at having a companion. But if it was 
it dissembled its feelings, for it promptly fell on the 
unfortunate new-comer and killed it before it could be 
rescued. 

During the rut the bulls seek the cows far and wide, 
uttering continually throughout the night a short, loud roar, 
which can be heard at a distance of four or five miles ; the 
cows now and then respond with low, plaintive bellows. 
The bulls also thrash the tree trunks with their horns, 
and paw big holes in soft ground ; and when two rivals 
come together at this season they fight with the most 
desperate fury. It is chiefly in these battles with one 
another that the huge antlers are used ; in contending 
with other foes they strike terrible blows with their fore 
hoofs and also sometimes lash out behind like a horse. 
The bear occasionally makes a prey of the moose ; the 
cougar is a more dangerous enemy in the few districts 
where both animals are found at all plentifully ; but next 
to man its most dreaded foe is the big timber wolf, that 
veritable scourge of all animals of the deer kind. Against 
all of these the moose defends itself valiantly ; a cow with 
a calf and a rutting bull being especially dangerous 
opponents. In deep snows through which the great deer 
flounders while its adversary runs lightly on the crust, a 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

single wolf may overcome and slaughter a big bull moose ; 
but with a fair chance no one or two wolves would be a 
match for it. Desperate combats take place before a 
small pack of wolves can master the shovel-horned quarry, 
unless it is taken at a hopeless disadvantage ; and in these 
battles the prowess of the moose is shown by the fact that 
it is no unusual thing for it to kill one or more of the 
ravenous throng ; generally by a terrific blow of the fore- 
leg, smashing a wolfs skull or breaking its back. I have 
known of several instances of wolves being found dead, 
having perished in this manner. Still the battle usually 
ends the other way, the wolves being careful to make the 
attack with the odds in their favor ; and even a small pack 
of the ferocious brutes will in a single winter often drive 
the moose completely out of a given district. Both 
cougar and bear generally reckon on taking the moose 
unawares, when they jump on it. In one case that came 
to my knowledge a black bear was killed by a cow moose 
whose calf he had attacked. 

In the northeast a favorite method of hunting the 
moose is by "calling" the bulls in the rutting season, at 
dawn or nightfall ; the caller imitating their cries through 
a birch-bark trumpet. If the animals are at all wary, this 
kind of sport can only be carried on in still weather, as the 
approaching bull always tries to get the wind of the caller. 
It is also sometimes slain by fire-hunting, from a canoe, 
as the deer are killed in the Adirondacks. This, however, 
is but an ignoble sport ; and to kill the animal while 
it is swimming in a lake is worse. However, there is 
sometimes a spice of excitement even in these unworthy 



The Moose. 219 

methods of the chase ; for a truculent moose will do its 
best, with hoofs and horns, to upset the boat. 

The true way to kill the noble beast, however, is by fair 
still-hunting. There is no grander sport than still-hunt' 
ing the moose, whether in the vast pine and birch forests 
of the northeast, or among the stupendous mountain 
masses of the Rockies. The moose has wonderfully keen 
nose and ears, though its eyesight is not remarkable. 
Most hunters assert that he is the wariest of all game, and 
the most difficult to kill. I have never been quite satisfied 
that this was so ; it seems to me that the nature of the 
ground wherein it dwells helps it even more than do its 
own sharp senses. It is true that I made many trips in 
vain before killing my first moose ; but then I had to hunt 
through tangled timber, where I could hardly move a step 
without noise, and could never see thirty yards ahead. If 
moose were found in open park-like forests like those 
where I first killed elk, on the Bighorn Mountains, or 
among brushy coulies and bare hills, like the Little 
Missouri Bad Lands, where I first killed blacktail deer, I 
doubt whether they would prove especially difficult animals 
to bag. My own experience is much too limited to allow 
me to speak with any certainty on the point ; but it is 
borne out by what more skilled hunters have told me. 
In the Big Hole Basin, in southwest Montana, moose 
were quite plentiful in the late 'seventies. Two or three 
of the old settlers, whom I know as veteran hunters and 
trustworthy men, have told me that in those times the 
moose were often found in very accessible localities ; and 
that when such was the case they were quite as easily 



220 The Wilderness Hunter. 

killed as elk. In fact, when run across by accident they 
frequently showed a certain clumsy slowness of apprehen- 
sion which amounted to downright stupidity. One of the 
most successful moose-hunters I know is Col. Cecil Clay, 
of the Department of Law, in Washington ; he it was who 
killed the moose composing the fine group mounted by 
Mr. Hornaday, in the National Museum. Col. Clay lost 
his right arm in the Civil War ; but is an expert rifleshot 
nevertheless, using a short, light forty-four calibre old style 
Winchester carbine. With this weapon he has killed 
over a score of moose, by fair still-hunting ; and he tells 
me that on similar ground he considers it if anything 
rather less easy to still-hunt and kill a whitetail deer than 
it is to kill a moose. 

My friend Col. James Jones killed two moose in a 
day in northwestern Wyoming, not far from the Tetons ; 
he was alone when he shot them and did not find them 
especially wary. Ordinarily, moose are shot at fairly close 
range ; but another friend of mine, Mr. E. P. Rogers, once 
dropped one with a single bullet, at a distance of nearly 
three hundred yards. This happened by Bridger's Lake, 
near Two-Ocean Pass. 

The moose has a fast walk, and its ordinary gait when 
going at any speed is a slashing trot. Its long legs give 
it a wonderful stride, enabling it to clear down-timber and 
high obstacles of all sorts without altering its pace. It 
also leaps well. If much pressed or startled it breaks into 
an awkward gallop, which is quite fast for a few hundred 
yards, but which speedily tires it out. After being dis- 
turbed by the hunter a moose usually trots a long distance 
before halting. 



The Moose. 221 

One thing which renders the chase of the moose partic- 
ularly interesting is the fact that there is in it on rare 
occasions a spice of peril. Under certain circumstances it 
may be called dangerous quarry, being, properly speaking, 
the only animal of the deer kind which ever fairly deserves- 
the title. In a hand to hand grapple an elk or caribou, 
or even under exceptional circumstances a blacktail or a 
whitetail, may show itself an ugly antagonist ; and indeed 
a maddened elk may for a moment take the offensive ; 
but the moose is the only one of the tribe with which this 
attitude is at all common. In bodily strength and capa- 
city to do harm it surpasses the elk ; and in temper it is 
far more savage and more apt to show fight when assailed 
by man ; exactly as the elk in these respects surpasses the 
common deer. Two hunters with whom I was well ac- 
quainted once wintered between the Wind River Moun- 
tains and the Three Tetons, many years ago, in the days 
of the buffalo. They lived on game, killing it on snow- 
shoes ; for the most part wapiti and deer, but also bison, 
and one moose, though they saw others. The wapiti bulls 
kept their antlers two months longer than the moose ; 
nevertheless, when chased they rarely made an effort to 
use them, while the hornless moose displayed far more 
pugnacity, and also ran better through the deep snow. 
The winter was very severe, the snows were heavy and 
the crusts hard ; so that the hunters had little trouble in 
overtaking their game, although being old mountain-men, 
and not hide-hunters they killed only what was needed 
Of course in such hunting they came very close to the 
harried game, usually after a chase of from twenty minutes 
to three hours. They found that the ordinary deer would 



222 The Wilderness Hunter. 

scarcely charge under any circumstances ; that among the 
wapiti it was only now and then that individuals would 
turn upon their pursuers though they sometimes charged 
boldly ; but that both the bison and especially the moose 
when worried and approached too near, would often turn 
to bay and make charge after charge in the most resolute 
manner, so that they had to be approached with some 
caution. 

Under ordinary conditions, however, there is very lit- 
tle danger, indeed, of a moose charging. A charge does 
not take place once in a hundred times when the moose 
is killed by fair still-hunting ; and it is altogether excep- 
tional for those who assail them from boats or canoes to be 
put in jeopardy. Even a cow moose, with her calf, will 
run if she has the chance ; and a rutting bull will do the 
same. Such a bull when wounded may walk slowly for- 
ward, grunting savagely, stamping with his forefeet, and 
slashing the bushes with his antlers; but, if his antago- 
nist is any distance off, he rarely actually runs at him. 
Yet there are now and then found moose prone to at- 
tack on slight provocation ; for these great deer differ 
as widely as men in courage and ferocity. Occasionally 
a hunter is charged in the fall when he has lured the 
game to him by calling, or when he has wounded it after 
a stalk. In one well-authenticated instance which was 
brought to my attention, a settler on the left bank of the 
St. Johns, in New Brunswick, was tramped to death by a 
bull moose which he had called to him and wounded. A 
New Yorker of my acquaintance, Dr. Merrill, was charged 
under rather peculiar circumstances. He stalked and 



The Moose. 223 

mortally wounded a bull which promptly ran towards him. 
Between them was a gully in which it disappeared. Imme- 
diately afterwards, as he thought, it reappeared on his side 
of the gully, and with a second shot he dropped it. Walk- 
ing forward he found to his astonishment that with his 
second bullet he had killed a cow moose ; the bull lay 
dying in the gully, out of which he had scared the cow 
by his last rush. 

However, speaking broadly, the danger to the still- 
hunter engaged in one of the legitimate methods of the 
chase is so small that it may be disregarded; for he 
usually kills his game at some little distance, while the 
moose, as a rule, only attacks if it has been greatly worried 
and angered, and if its pursuer is close at hand. When a 
moose is surprised and shot at by a hunter some way off, 
its one thought is of flight. Hence, the hunters who are 
charged by moose are generally those who follow them 
during the late winter and early spring, when the animals 
have yarded and can be killed on snow-shoes by " crust- 
ing," as it is termed, a very destructive, and often a very 
unsportsman-like species of chase. 

If the snow-fall is very light, moose do not yard at all ; 
but in a hard winter they begin to make their yards in 
December. A " yard " is not, as some people seem to 
suppose, a trampled-down space, with definite boundaries ; 
the term merely denotes the spot which a moose has chosen 
for its winter home, choosing it because it contains plenty 
of browse in the shape of young trees and saplings, and 
perhaps also because it is sheltered to some extent from 
the fiercest winds and heaviest snowdrifts. The animal 



224 The Wilderness H^lnter. 

travels to and fro across this space in straight lines and 
irregular circles after food, treading in its own footsteps, 
where practicable. As the snow steadily deepens, these 
lines of travel become beaten paths. There results finally 
a space half a mile square sometimes more, sometimes 
very much less, according to the lay of the land, and the 
number of moose yarding together where the deep snow 
is seamed in every direction by a network of narrow paths 
along which a moose can travel at speed, its back level 
with the snow round about. Sometimes, when moose are 
very plenty, many of these yards lie so close together that 
the beasts can readily make their way from one to another. 
When such is the case, the most expert snow-shoer, under 
the most favorable conditions, cannot overtake them, for 
they can then travel very fast through the paths, keeping 
their gait all day. In the early decades of the present 
century, the first settlers in Aroostook County, Maine, 
while moose-hunting in winter, were frequently baffled in 
this manner. 

When hunters approach an isolated yard the moose 
immediately leave it and run off through the snow. If 
there is no crust, and if their long legs can reach the 
ground, the snow itself impedes them but little, because 
of their vast strength and endurance. Snowdrifts 
which render an ordinary deer absolutely helpless, and 
bring even an elk to a standstill, offer no impediment 
whatever to a moose. If, as happens very rarely, the loose 
snow is of such depth that even the stilt-like legs of the 
moose cannot touch solid earth, it flounders and struggles 
forward for a little time, and then sinks exhausted ; for a 



The Moose. 225 

caribou is the only large animal which can travel under 
such conditions. If there be a crust, even though the 
snow is not remarkably deep, the labor of the moose is 
vastly increased, as it breaks through at every step, cutting 
its legs and exhausting itself. A caribou, on the other" 
hand, will go across a crust as well as a man on snow-shoes, 
and can never be caught by the latter, save under altogether 
exceptional conditions of snowfall and thaw. 

" Crusting," or following game on snow-shoes, is, as the 
name implies, almost always practised after the middle of 
February, when thaws begin, and the snow crusts on top. 
The conditions for success in crusting moose and deer are 
very different. A crust through which a moose would 
break at every stride may carry a running deer without 
mishap ; while the former animal would trot at ease through 
drifts in which the latter would be caught as if in a quick- 
sand. 

Hunting moose on snow, therefore, may be, and very 
often is, mere butchery ; and because of this possibility or 
probability, and also because of the fact that it is by far 
the most destructive kind of hunting, and is carried on at 
a season when the bulls are hornless and the cows heavy 
with calf, it is rigidly and properly forbidden wherever 
there are good game-laws. Yet this kind of hunting may 
also be carried on under circumstances which render it if 
not a legitimate, yet a most exciting and manly sport, only 
to be followed by men of tried courage, hardihood, and 
skill. This is not because it ever necessitates any skill 
whatever in the use of the rifle, or any particular knowl- 
edge of hunting-craft ; but because under the conditions 



226 The Wilderness Hunter. 

spoken of the hunter must show great endurance and res- 
olution, and must be an adept in the use of snow-shoes. 

It all depends upon the depth of the snow and the 
state of the crust. If when the snow is very deep there 
comes a thaw, and if it then freezes hard, the moose are 
overtaken and killed with ease ; for the crust cuts their 
legs, they sink to their bellies at every plunge, and 
speedily become so worn out that they can no longer keep 
ahead of any man who is even moderately skilful in the 
use of show-shoes ; though they do not, as deer so often 
do, sink exhausted after going a few rods from their yard. 
Under such circumstances a few hardy hunters or settlers, 
who are perfectly reckless in slaughtering game, may 
readily kill all the moose in a district. It is a kind of 
hunting which just suits the ordinary settler, who is hardy 
and enduring, but knows little of hunting-craft proper. 

If the snow is less deep, or the crust not so heavy, the 
moose may travel for scores of miles before it is over- 
taken ; and this even though the crust be strong enough 
to bear a man wearing snow-shoes without breaking. The 
chase then involves the most exhausting fatigue. More- 
over, it can be carried on only by those who are very skilful 
in the use of snow-shoes. These snow-shoes are of two 
kinds. In the northeast, and in the most tangled forests 
of the northwest, the webbed snow-shoes are used ; on the 
bare mountain-sides, and in the open forests of the Rockies, 
the long narrow wooden skees, or Norwegian snow-skates 
are preferred, as upon then men can travel much faster, 
though they are less handy in thick timber. Having 
donned his snow-shoes and struck the trail of a moose, the 



The Moose. 227 

hunter may have to follow it three days if the snow is of 
only ordinary depth, with a moderate crust. He shuffles 
across the snow without halt while daylight lasts, and lies 
down wherever he happens to be when night strikes him, 
probably with a little frozen bread as his only food. The 
hunter thus goes through inordinate labor, and suffers from 
exposure ; not infrequently his feet are terribly cut by the 
thongs of the snow-shoes, and become sore and swollen, 
causing great pain. When overtaken after such a severe 
chase, the moose is U3ually so exhausted as to be unable 
to make any resistance ; in all likelihood it has run itself 
to a standstill. Accordingly, the quality of the fire-arms 
makes but little difference in this kind of hunting. Many 
of the most famous old moose-hunters of Maine, in the 
long past days, before the Civil War, when moose were 
plenty there, used what were known as " three dollar " 
guns ; light, single-barrelled smooth-bores. One whom I 
knew used a flint-lock musket, a relic of the War of 1812. 
Another in the course of an exhausting three days' chase 
lost the lock off his cheap, percussion-cap gun ; and when 
he overtook the moose he had to explode the cap by 
hammering it with a stone. 

It is in " crusting," when the chase has lasted but a 
comparatively short time, that moose most frequently show 
fight ; for they are not cast into a state of wild panic by a 
sudden and unlooked-for attack by a man who is a long 
distance from them, but on the contrary, after being wor- 
ried and irritated, are approached very near by foes from 
whom they have been fleeing for hours. Nevertheless, in 
the majority of cases even crusted moose make not the 



228 The Wilderness Plunter. 

slightest attempt at retaliation. If the chase has been 
very long, or if the depth of the snow and character of 
the crust are exceptionally disadvantageous to them, they 
are so utterly done out, when overtaken, that they cannot 
make a struggle, and may even be killed with an axe. I 
know of at least five men who have thus killed crusted 
moose with an axe ; one in the Rocky Mountains, one in 
Minnesota, three in Maine. 

But in ordinary snow a man who should thus attempt to 
kill a moose would merely jeopardize his own life ; and it is 
not an uncommon thing for chased moose, when closely 
approached by their pursuers, even when the latter carry 
guns and are expert snow-shoers, to charge them 
with such ferocity as to put them in much peril. 
A brother of one of my cow-hands, a man from Maine, 
was once nearly killed by a cow moose. She had been 
in a yard with her last year's calf when started. After 
two or three hours' chase he overtook them. They 
were travelling in single file, the cow breaking her path 
through the snow, while the calf followed close behind, and 
in his nervousness sometimes literally ran up on her. The 
man trotted close alongside ; but, before he could fire, the 
old cow spun round and charged him, her mane bristling 
and her green eyes snapping with rage. It happened that 
just there the snow became shallow, and the moose gained 
so rapidly that the man, to save his life, sprang up a tree. 
As he did so the cow reared and struck at him, one fore- 
foot catching in his snow-shoe and tearing it clear off, giv- 
ing his ankle a bad wrench. After watching him a minute 
or two she turned and continued her flight ; whereupon he 



The Moose. 229 

climbed down the tree, patched up his torn snow-shoe and 
limped after the moose, which he finally killed. 

An old hunter named Purvis told me of an adventure of 
the kind, which terminated fatally. He was hunting near 
the Cceur d'Alene Mountains with a mining prospector 
named Pingree ; both were originally from New Hamp- 
shire. Late in November there came a heavy fall of snow, 
deep enough to soon bring a deer to a standstill, although 
not so deep as to hamper a moose's movement. The men 
bound on their skees and started to the borders of a lake, 
to kill some blacktail. In a thicket close to the lake's brink 
they suddenly came across a bull moose ; a lean old fel- 
low, still savage from the rut. Pingree, who was nearest, 
fired at and wounded him ; whereupon he rushed straight 
at the man, knocked him down before he could turn round 
on his skees, and began to pound him with his terrible 
forefeet. Summoned by his comrade's despairing cries, 
Purvis rushed round the thickets, and shot the squealing, 
trampling monster through the body, and immediately after 
had to swing himself up a small tree to avoid its furious 
rush. The moose did not turn after this charge, but kept 
straight on, and was not seen again. The wounded man 
was past all help, for his chest was beaten in, and he died in 
a couple of hours. 






CHAPTER XII. 




THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO. 

WHEN we became a nation, in 1776, the buffa- 
loes, the first animals to vanish when the 
wilderness is settled, roved to the crests of 
the mountains which mark the western boundaries of 
Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas. They were- 
plentiful in what are now the States of Ohio, Ken- 
tucky, and Tennessee. But by the beginning of the 
present century they had been driven beyond the 
Mississippi ; and for the next eighty years they formed 
one of the most distinctive and characteristic features of 
existence on the great plains. Their numbers were count- 
less incredible. In vast herds of hundreds of thousands 
of individuals, they roamed from the Saskatchewan to the 
Rio Grande and westward to the Rocky Mountains. They 
furnished all the means of livelihood to the tribes of Horse 
Indians, and to the curious population of French Metis, or 
Half-breeds, on the Red River,as well as to those dauntless 
and archtypical wanderers, the white hunters and trappers. 
Their numbers slowly diminished, but the decrease was 
very gradual until after the Civil War. They were not de- 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 231 

stroyed by the settlers, but by the railways and the skin 
hunters. 

After the ending of the Civil War, the work of con- 
structing trans-continental railway lines was pushed foward 
with the utmost vigor. These supplied cheap and indis- 
pensable, but hitherto wholly lacking, means of transpor- 
tation to the hunters ; and at the same time the demand 
for buffalo robes and hides became very great, while the 
enormous numbers of the beasts, and the comparative ease 
with which they were slaughtered, attracted throngs of ad- 
venturers. The result was such a slaughter of big game 
as the world had never before seen ; never before were so 
many large animals of one species destroyed in so short a 
time. Several million buffaloes were slain. In fifteen 
years from the time the destruction fairly began the great 
herds were exterminated. In all probability there are not 
now, all told, five hundred head of wild buffaloes on the 
American continent ; and no herd of a hundred individ- 
uals has been in existence since 1884. 

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



232 The Wilderness Hunter. 

During the first two months of 1877, my brother El- 
liott, then a lad not seventeen years old, made a buffalo- 
hunt toward the edge of the Staked Plains in northern 
Texas. He was thus in at the death of the southern 
herds ; for all, save a few scattering bands, were destroyed 
within two years of this time. He was with my cousin, 
John Roosevelt, and they went out on the range with six 
other adventurers. It was a party of just such young men 
as frequently drift to the frontier. All were short of cash, 
and all were hardy, vigorous fellows, eager for excitement 
and adventure. My brother was much the youngest of 
the party, and the least experienced ; but he was well- 
grown, strong and healthy, and very fond of boxing, 
wrestling, running, riding, and shooting ; moreover, he 
had served an apprenticeship in hunting deer and turkeys. 
Their mess-kit, ammunition, bedding, and provisions were 
carried in two prairie-wagons, each drawn by four horses. 
In addition to the teams they had six saddle-animals all 
of them shaggy, unkempt mustangs. Three or four dogs, 
setters and half-bred greyhounds, trotted along behind the 
wagons. Each man took his turn for two days as teamster 
and cook ; and there were always two with the wagons, or 
camp, as the case might be, while the other six were off 
hunting, usually in couples. The expedition was under- 
taken partly for sport and partly with the hope of profit ; 
for, after purchasing the horses and wagons, none of the 
party had any money left, and they were forced to rely 
upon selling skins and hides, and, when near the forts, 
meat. 

They started on January 2d, and shaped their course 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 233 

for the head-waters of the Salt Fork of the Brazos, the 
centre of abundance for the great buffalo herds. During 
the first few days they were in the outskirts of the settled 
country, and shot only small game quail and prairie fowl ; 
then they began to kill turkey, deer, and antelope. These 
they swapped for flour and feed at the ranches or squalid, 
straggling frontier towns. On several occasions the hun- 
ters were lost, spending the night out in the open, or sleep- 
ing at a ranch, if one was found. Both towns and ranches 
were filled with rough customers ; all of my brother's com- 
panions were muscular, hot-headed fellows ; and as a con- 
sequence they were involved in several savage free fights, 
in which, fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. My 
brother kept a very brief diary, the entries being fairly 
startling from their conciseness. A number of times, the 
mention of their arrival, either at a halting-place, a little 
village, or a rival buffalo-camp is followed by the laconic 
remark, "big fight," or "big row " ; but once they evidently 
concluded discretion to be the better part of valor, the en- 
try for January 2oth being, " On the road passed through 
Belknap too lively, so kept on to the Brazos very late." 
The buffalo-camps in particular were very jealous of one 
another, each party regarding itself as having exclusive 
right to the range it was the first to find ; and on several 
occasions this feeling came near involving my brother and 
his companions in serious trouble. 

While slowly driving the heavy wagons to the hunting 
grounds they suffered the usual hardships of plains travel. 
The weather, as in most Texas winters, alternated between 
the extremes of heat and cold. There had been little 



234 The Wilderness Hunter. 

rain ; in consequence water was scarce. Twice they were 
forced to cross wild, barren wastes, where the pools had 
dried up, and they suffered terribly from thirst. On the 
first occasion the horses were in good condition, and they 
travelled steadily, with only occasional short halts, for 
over thirty-six hours, by which time they were across 
the waterless country. The journal reads : " January 
27th. Big hunt no water, and we left Quinn's block- 
house this morning 3 A.M. on the go all night 
hot. January 28th. No water hot at seven we 
struck water, and by eight Stinking Creek grand ' hur- 
rah.' " On the second occasion, the horses were weak and 
travelled slowly, so the party went forty-eight hours with- 
out drinking. "February iQth. Pulled on twenty-one 
miles trail bad freezing night, no water, and wolves 
after our fresh meat. 2oth. Made nineteen miles over 
prairie ; again only mud, no water, freezing hard fright- 
ful thirst. 2 1 st. Thirty miles to Clear Fork, fresh 
water." These entries were hurriedly jotted down at the 
time, by a boy who deemed it unmanly to make any 
especial note of hardship or suffering ; but every plains- 
man will understand the real agony implied in working 
hard for two nights, one day, and portions of two others, 
without water, even in cool weather. During the last few 
miles the staggering horses were only just able to drag the 
lightly loaded wagon, for they had but one with them at the 
time, while the men plodded along in sullen silence, their 
mouths so parched that they could hardly utter a word. 
My own hunting and ranching were done in the north 
where there is more water ; so I have never had a similar 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 235 

experience. Once I took a team in thirty-six hours across 
a country where there was no water ; but by good luck it 
rained heavily in the night, so that the horses had plenty 
of wet grass, and I caught the rain in my slicker, and so 
had enough water for myself. Personally, I have but 
once been as long as twenty-six hours without water. 

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

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



236 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

Their camp had been pitched near a deep pool or 
water-hole. On both sides the bluffs rose like walls, and 
where they had crumbled and lost their sheerness, the 
vast buffalo herds, passing and repassing for countless 
generations, had worn furrowed trails so deep that the 
backs of the beasts were but little above the surrounding 
soil. In the bottom, and in places along the crests of the 
cliffs that hemmed in the canyon-like valley, there were 
groves of tangled trees, tenanted by great flocks of wild 
turkeys. Once my brother made two really remarkable 
shots at a pair of these great birds. It was at dusk, and 



The Bison or American Bttffalo. 237 

they were flying directly overhead from one cliff to the 
other. He had in his hand a thirty-eight calibre Ballard 
rifle, and, as the gobblers winged their way heavily by, he 
brought both down with two successive bullets. This was 
of course mainly a piece of mere luck ; but it meant good 
shooting, too. The Ballard was a very accurate, handy 
little weapon ; it belonged to me, and was the first rifle I 
ever owned or used. With it I had once killed a deer, the 
only specimen of large game I had then shot ; and I pre- 
sented the rifle to my brother when he went to Texas. In 
our happy ignorance we deemed it quite good enough for 
buffalo or anything else ; but out on the plains my brother 
soon found himself forced to procure a heavier and more 
deadly weapon. 

When camp was pitched the horses were turned loose 
to graze and refresh themselves after their trying journey, 
during which they had lost flesh wofully. They were 
watched and tended by the two men who were always left 
in camp, and, save on rare occasions, were only used to 
haul in the buffalo hides. The camp-guards for the time 
being acted as cooks ; and, though coffee and flour both 
ran short and finally gave out, fresh meat of every kind was 
abundant. The camp was never without buffalo-beef, deer 
and antelope venison, wild turkeys, prairie-chickens, quails, 
ducks, and rabbits. The birds were simply " potted," as 
occasion required ; when the quarry was deer or ante- 
lope, the hunters took the dogs with them to run down the 
wounded animals. But almost the entire attention of the 
hunters was given to the buffalo. After an evening spent 
in lounging round the camp-fire and a sound night's sleep, 



238 The Wilderness Hunter. 

wrapped in robes and blankets, they would get up before 
daybreak, snatch a hurried breakfast, and start off in 
couples through the chilly dawn. The great beasts were 
very plentiful ; in the first day's hunt twenty were slain ; 
but the herds were restless and ever on the move. Some- 
times they would be seen right by the camp, and again it 
would need an all-day's tramp to find them. There was no 
difficulty in spying them the chief trouble with forest 
game ; for on the prairie a buffalo makes no effort to hide 
and its black, shaggy bulk looms up as far as the eye can 
see. Sometimes they were found in small parties of three 
or four individuals, sometimes in bands of about two hun- 
dred, and again in great herds of many thousands ; and 
solitary old bulls, expelled from the herds, were common. 
If on broken land, among hills and ravines, there was not 
much difficulty in approaching from the leeward ; for, 
though the sense of smell in the buffalo is very acute, they 
do not see well at a distance through their overhanging 
frontlets of coarse and matted hair. If, as was generally 
the case, they were out on the open, rolling prairie, the 
stalking was far more difficult. Every hollow, every earth 
hummock and sagebush had to be used as cover. The 
hunter wriggled through the grass flat on his face, push- 
ing himself along for perhaps a quarter of a mile by his 
toes and fingers, heedless of the spiny cactus. When near 
enough to the huge, unconscious quarry the hunter began 
firing, still keeping himself carefully concealed. If the 
smoke was blown away by the wind, and if the buffaloes 
caught no glimpse of the assailant, they would often stand 
motionless and stupid until many of their number had been 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 239 

slain, the hunter being careful not to fire too high, aiming 
just behind the shoulder, about a third of the way up the 
body, that his bullet might go through the lungs. Some- 
times, even after they saw the man, they would act as if 
confused and panic-struck, huddling together and staring" 
at the smoke puffs ; but generally they were off at a lum- 
bering gallop as soon as they had an idea of the point 
of danger. When once started, they ran for many miles 
before halting, and their pursuit on foot was extremely 
laborious. 

One morning my cousin and brother had been left in 
camp as guards. They were sitting idly warming them- 
selves in the first sunbeams, when their attention was 
sharply drawn to four buffaloes that were coming to the 
pool to drink. The beasts came down a game trail, a 
deep rut in the bluff, fronting where they were sitting, 
and they did not dare to stir for fear of being discovered. 
The buffaloes walked into the pool, and, after drinking 
their fill, stood for some time with the water running out 
of their mouths, idly lashing their sides with their short 
tails, enjoying the bright warmth of the early sunshine ; 
then, with much splashing and the gurgling of soft mud, 
they left the pool and clambered up the bluff with un- 
wieldy agility. As soon as they turned, my brother and 
cousin ran for their rifles, but before they got back the 
buffaloes had crossed the bluff crest. Climbing after 
them, the two hunters found, when they reached the summit, 
that their game, instead of halting, had struck straight off 
across the prairie at a slow lope, doubtless intending to 
rejoin the herd they had left. After a moment's consulta- 



240 The Wilderness Hunter. 

tion the men went in pursuit, excitement overcoming 
their knowledge that they ought not, by rights, to leave 
camp. They struck a steady trot, following the animals 
by sight until they passed over a knoll, and then trailing 
them. Where the grass was long, as it was for the first 
four or five miles, this was a work of no difficulty, and 
they did not break their gait, only glancing now and then 
at the trail. As the sun rose and the day became warm, 
their breathing grew quicker ; and the sweat rolled off 
their faces as they ran across the rough prairie sward, up 
and down the long inclines, now and then shifting their 
heavy rifles from one shoulder to the other. But they 
were in good training, and they did not have to halt. At 
last they reached stretches of bare ground, sun-baked and 
grassless, where the trail grew dim ; and here they had to 
go very slowly, carefully examining the faint dents and 
marks made in the soil by the heavy hoofs, and unravel- 
ling the trail from the mass of old footmarks. It was 
tedious work, but it enabled them to completely recover 
their breath by the time that they again struck the grass- 
land ; and but a few hundred yards from its edge, in a 
slight hollow, they saw the four buffaloes just entering a 
herd of fifty or sixty that were scattered out grazing. 
The herd paid no attention to the new-comers, and these 
immediately began to feed greedily. After a whispered 
consultation, the two hunters crept back, and made a long 
circle that brought them well to leeward of the herd, in 
line with a slight rise in the ground. They then crawled 
up to this rise and, peering through the tufts of tall, rank 
grass, saw the unconscious beasts a hundred and twenty- 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 241 

five or fifty yards away. They fired together, each 
mortally wounding his animal, and then, rushing in as the 
herd halted in confusion, and following them as they ran, 
impeded by numbers, hurry, and panic, they eventually 
got three more. 

On another occasion the same two hunters nearly met 
with a frightful death, being overtaken by a vast herd of 
stampeded buffaloes. All animals that go in herds are 
subject to these instantaneous attacks of uncontrollable 
terror, under the influence of which they become perfectly 
mad, and rush headlong in dense masses on any form of 
death. Horses, and more especially cattle, often suffer 
from stampedes ; it is a danger against which the cowboys 
are compelled to be perpetually on guard. A band of 
stampeded horses, sweeping in mad terror up a valley, 
will dash against a rock or tree with such violence as to 
leave several dead animals at its base, while the survivors 
race on without halting ; they will overturn and destroy 
tents and wagons, and a man on foot caught in the rush 
has but a small chance for his life. A buffalo stampede 
is much worse or rather was much worse, in the old days 
because of the great weight and immense numbers of 
the beasts, which, in a fury of heedless terror, plunged 
over cliffs and into rivers, and bore down whatever was 
in their path. On the occasion in question, my brother 
and cousin were on their way homeward. They were just 
mounting one of the long, low swells, into which the 
prairie was broken, when they heard a low, muttering, 
rumbling noise, like far-off thunder. It grew steadily 
louder, and, not knowing what it meant, they hurried for 

16 



242 The Wilderness Hunter. 

ward to the top of the rise. As they reached it, they 
stopped short in terror and amazement, for before them 
the whole prairie was black with madly rushing buffaloes. 

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

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

Waiting until the beasts were in close range, they 
opened a rapid fire from their heavy breech-loading rifles, 
yelling at the top of their voices. For a moment the re- 
sult seemed doubtful. The line thundered steadily down 
on them ; then it swayed violently, as two or three of the 
brutes immediately in their front fell beneath the bullets, 
while their neighbors made violent efforts to press off side- 
ways. Then a narrow wedge-shaped rift appeared in the 
line, and widened as it came closer, and the buffaloes, 
shrinking from their foes in front, strove desperately to 



1 




The Bison or American Buffalo. 243 

edge away from the dangerous neighborhood ; the 
shouts and shots were redoubled ; the hunters were 
almost choked by the cloud of dust, through which they 
could see the stream of dark huge bodies passing within 
rifle-length on either side ; and in a moment the peril was 
over, and the two men were left alone on the plain, un- 
harmed, though with their nerves terribly shaken. The 
herd careered on toward the horizon, save five individuals 
which had been killed or disabled by the shots. 

On another occasion, when my brother was out with 
one of his friends, they fired at a small herd containing 
an old bull ; the bull charged the smoke, and the whole 
herd followed him. Probably they were simply stam- 
peded, and had no hostile intention ; at any rate, after the 
death of their leader, they rushed by without doing any 
damage. 

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

My brother also came in for a charge, while killing the 
biggest bull that was slain by any of the party. He was out 
alone, and saw a small herd of cows and calves at some 
distance, with a huge bull among them, towering above 
them like a giant. There was no break in the ground, 
nor any tree nor bush near them, but, by making a half- 



244 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

Two days after this event, a war party of Comanches 
swept down along the river. They " jumped" a neigh- 
boring camp, killing one man and wounding two more, 
and at the same time ran off all but three of the horses 
belonging to our eight adventurers. With the remaining 
three horses and one wagon they set out homeward. The 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 245 

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

My friend, Gen. W. H. Walker, of Virginia, had an 
experience in the early '50*5 with buffaloes on the upper 
Arkansas River, which gives some idea of their enormous 
numbers at that time. He was camped with a scouting 
party on the banks of the river, and had gone out to try to 
shoot some meat. There were many buffaloes in sight, 
scattered, according to their custom, in large bands. When 
he was a mile or two away from the river a dull roaring 
sound in the distance attracted his attention, and he saw 
that a herd of buffalo /ar to the south, away from the river, 
had been stampeded and was running his way. He knew 
that if he was caught in the open by the stampeded herd 
his chance for life would be small, and at once ran for the 
river. By desperate efforts he reached the breaks in the 
sheer banks just as the buffaloes reached them, and got 
into a position of safety on the pinnacle of a little bluff. 
From this point of vantage he could see the entire plain. 
To the very verge of the horizon the brown masses of the 



246 The Wilderness Hunter. 

buffalo bands showed through the dust clouds, coming on 
with a thunderous roar like that of surf. Camp was a mile 
away, and the stampede luckily passed to one side of it. 
Watching his chance he finally dodged back to the tent, 
and all that afternoon watched the immense masses of 
buffalo, as band after band tore to the brink of the bluffs 
on one side, raced down them, rushed through the water, 
up the bluffs on the other side, and again off over the 
plain, churning the sandy, shallow stream into a ceaseless 
tumult. When darkness fell there was no apparent 
decrease in the numbers that were passing, and all through 
that night the continuous roar showed that the herds were 
still threshing across the river. Towards dawn the sound 
at last ceased, and General Walker arose somewhat irri- 
tated, as he had reckoned on killing an ample supply of 
meat, and he supposed that there would be now no bison 
left south of the river. To his astonishment, when he 
strolled up on the bluffs and looked over the plain, it was 
still covered far and wide with groups of buffalo, grazing 
quietly. Apparently there were as many on that side as 
ever, in spite of the many scores of thousands that must 
have crossed over the river during the stampede of the 
afternoon and night. The barren-ground caribou is the 
only American animal which is now ever seen in such 
enormous herds. 

In 1862 Mr. Clarence King, while riding along the 
overland trail through western Kansas, passed through a 
great buffalo herd, and was himself injured in an encounter 
with a bull. The great herd was then passing north, and 
Mr. King reckoned that it must have covered an area nearly 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 247 

seventy miles by thirty in extent ; the figures representing 
his rough guess, made after travelling through the herd 
crosswise, and upon knowing how long it took to pass a 
given point going northward. This great herd of course 
was not a solid mass of buffaloes ; it consisted of innumer- 
able bands of every size, dotting the prairie within the 
limits given. Mr. King was mounted on a somewhat 
unmanageable horse. On one occasion in following a band 
he wounded a large bull, and became so wedged in by the 
maddened animals that he was unable to avoid the charge 
of the bull, which was at its last gasp. Coming straight 
toward him it leaped into the air and struck the afterpart 
of the saddle full with its massive forehead. The horse 
was hurled to the ground with a broken back, and King's 
leg was likewise broken, while the bull turned a complete 
somerset over them and never rose again. 

In the recesses of the Rocky Mountains, from Colorado 
northward through Alberta, and in the depths of the sub- 
arctic forest beyond the Saskatchewan, there have always 
been found small numbers of the bison, locally called the 
mountain buffalo and wood buffalo ; often indeed the old 
hunters term these animals " bison," although they never 
speak of the plains animals save as buffalo. They form a 
slight variety of what was formerly the ordinary plains 
bison, intergrading with it ; on the whole they are darker 
in color, with longer, thicker hair, and in consequence 
with the appearance of being heavier-bodied and shorter- 
legged. They have been sometimes spoken of as forming 
a separate species ; but, judging from my own limited 
experience, and from a comparison of the many hides I 



248 The Wilderness Hunter. 

have seen, I think they are really the same animal, many 
individuals of the two so-called varieties being quite 
indistinguishable. In fact the only moderate-sized herd 
of wild bison in existence to-day, the protected herd in the 
Yellowstone Park, is composed of animals intermediate in 
habits and coat between the mountain and plains varieties 
as were all the herds of the Bighorn, Big Hole, Upper 
Madison, and Upper Yellowstone valleys. 

However, the habitat of these wood and mountain 
bison yielded them shelter from hunters in a way that the 
plains never could, and hence they have always been 
harder to kill in the one place than in the other ; for 
precisely the same reasons that have held good with the 
elk, which have been completely exterminated from the 
plains, while still abundant in many of the forest fastnesses 
of the Rockies. Moreover, the bison's dull eyesight is 
no especial harm in the woods, while it is peculiarly hurtful 
to the safety of any beast on the plains, where eyesight 
avails more than any other sense, the true game of the 
plains being the prong-buck, the most keen-sighted of 
American animals. On the other hand the bison's hearing, 
of little avail on the plains, is of much assistance in the 
woods ; and its excellent nose helps equally in both places. 

Though it was always more difficult to kill the bison 
of the forests and mountains than the bison of the prairie, 
yet now that the species is, in its wild state, hovering on 
the brink of extinction, the difficulty is immeasurably 
increased. A merciless and terrible process of natural 
selection, in which the agents were rifle-bearing hunters, 
has left as the last survivors in a hopeless struggle for 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 249 

existence only the wariest of the bison and those gifted 
with the sharpest senses. That this was true of the last 
lingering individuals that survived the great slaughter on 
the plains is well shown by Mr. Hornaday in his graphic 
account of his campaign against the few scattered buffalo 
which still lived in 1886 between the Missouri and the 
Yellowstone, along the Big Dry. The bison of the plains 
and the prairies have now vanished ; and so few of their 
brethren of the mountains and the northern forests are left, 
that they can just barely be reckoned among American 
game ; but whoever is so fortunate as to find any of these 
animals must work his hardest, and show all his skill as a 
hunter if he wishes to get one. 

In the fall of 1889 I heard that a very few bison were 
still left around the head of Wisdom River. Thither I 
went and hunted faithfully ; there was plenty of game of 
other kind, but of bison not a trace did we see. Never- 
theless a few days later that same year I came across these 
great wild cattle at a time when I had no idea of seeing 
them. 

It was, as nearly as we could tell, in Idaho, just south 
of the Montana boundary line, and some twenty-five miles 
west of the line of Wyoming. We were camped high 
among the mountains, with a small pack-train. On the 
day in question we had gone out to find moose, but had 
seen no sign of them, and had then begun to climb over 
the higher peaks with an idea of getting sheep. The old 
hunter who was with me was, very fortunately, suffering 
from rheumatism, and he therefore carried a long staff 
instead of his rifle ; I say fortunately, for if he had carried 



250 The Wilderness Hunter. 

his rifle it would have been impossible to stop his firing at 
such game as bison, nor would he have spared the cows 
and calves. 

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

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

We immediately turned and followed the trail. I tied 
down to the little lake, where the beasts had spread 
and grazed on the tender, green blades, and had drunk 
their fill. The footprints then came together again, 
showing where the animals had gathered and walked off 
in single file to the forest. Evidently they had come to 
the pool in the early morning, walking over the game 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 251 

pass from some neighboring valley, and after drinking 
and feeding had moved into the pine forest to find some 
spot for their noontide rest. 

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

The old hunter was thoroughly roused, and he showed 
himself a very skilful tracker. We were much favored 
by the character of the forest, which was rather open, and 
in most places free from undergrowth and down timber. 
As in most Rocky Mountain forests the timber was small, 
not only as compared to the giant trees of the groves of 
the Pacific coast, but as compared to the forests of the 
northeast. The ground was covered with pine needles 
and soft moss, so that it was not difficult to walk noise- 
lessly. Once or twice when I trod on a small dry twig, 
or let the nails in my shoes clink slightly against a stone, 
the hunter turned to me with a frown of angry impatience ; 
but as he walked slowly, continually halting to look ahead, 
as well as stooping over to examine the trail, I did not 
find it very difficult to move silently. I kept a little be- 
hind him, and to one side, save when he crouched to take 
advantage of some piece of cover, and I crept in his foot- 



252 The Wilderness Hunter. 

steps. I did not look at the trail at all, but kept watching 
ahead, hoping at any moment to see the game. 

It was not very long before we struck their day beds, 
which were made on a knoll, where the forest was open 
and where there was much down timber. After leaving 
the day beds the animals had at first fed separately around 
the grassy base and sides of the knoll, and had then made 
off in their usual single file, going straight to a small pool 
in the forest. After drinking they had left this pool, and 
travelled down towards the gorge at the mouth of the 
basin, the trail leading along the sides of the steep hill, 
which were dotted by open glades ; while the roar of the 
cataracts by which the stream was broken ascended from 
below. Here we moved with redoubled caution, for the 
sign had grown very fresh and the animals had once more 
scattered and begun feeding. When the trail led across 
the glades we usually skirted them so as to keep in the 
timber. 

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

So for several minutes I watched the great, clumsy, 
shaggy beasts, as all unconscious they grazed in the open 



The Bison or American Buffalo. 253 

glade. Behind them rose the dark pines. At the left of 
the glade the ground fell away to form the side of a 
chasm ; down in its depths the cataracts foamed and 
thundered ; beyond, the huge mountains towered, their 
crests crimsoned by the sinking sun. Mixed with the 
eager excitement of the hunter was a certain half mel- 
ancholy feeling as I gazed on these bison, themselves 
part of the last remnant of a doomed and nearly vanished 
race. Few, indeed, are the men who now have, or ever- 
more shall have, the chance of seeing the mightiest of 
American beasts, in all his wild vigor, surrounded by the 
tremendous desolation of his far-off mountain home. 

At last, when I had begun to grow very anxious lest 
the others should take alarm, the bull likewise appeared 
on the edge of the glade, and stood with outstretched 
head, scratching his throat against a young tree, which 
shook violently. I aimed low, behind his shoulder, and 
pulled trigger. At the crack of the rifle all the bison, 
without the momentary halt of terror-struck surprise so 
common among game, turned and raced off at headlong 
speed. The fringe of young pines beyond and below the 
glade cracked and swayed as if a whirlwind were passing, 
and in another moment they reached the top of a very 
steep incline, thickly strewn with boulders and dead tim- 
ber. Down this they plunged with reckless speed ; their 
surefootedness was a marvel in such seemingly unwieldy 
beasts. A column of dust obscured their passage, and 
under its cover they disappeared in the forest ; but the 
trail of the bull was marked by splashes of frothy blood, 
and we followed it at a trot. Fifty yards beyond the 



254 The Wilderness Hunter. 

border of the forest we found the stark black body 
stretched motionless. He was a splendid old bull, still in 
his full vigor, with large, sharp horns, and heavy mane 
and glossy coat ; and I felt the most exulting pride as I 
handled and examined him ; for I had procured a trophy 
such as can fall henceforth to few hunters indeed. 

It was too late to dress the beast that evening ; so, 
after taking out the tongue and cutting off enough meat 
for supper and breakfast, we scrambled down to near the 
torrent, and after some search found a good spot for 
camping. Hot and dusty from the day's hard tramp, I 
undressed and took a plunge in the stream, the icy water 
making me gasp. Then, having built a slight lean-to of 
brush, and dragged together enough dead timber to burn 
all night, we cut long alder twigs, sat down before some 
embers raked apart, and grilled and ate our buffalo meat 
with the utmost relish. Night had fallen ; a cold wind 
blew up the valley ; the torrent roared as it leaped past 
us, and drowned our words as we strove to talk over our 
adventures and success ; while the flame of the fire 
flickered and danced, lighting up with continual vivid 
flashes the gloom of the forest round about. 





CHAPTER XIII. 

THE BLACK BEAR. 

NEXT to the whitetail deer the black bear is the 
commonest and most widely distributed of 
American big game. It is still found quite plen- 
tifully in northern New England, in the Adirondacks, 
Catskills, and along the entire length of the Alleghanies, 
as well as in the swamps and canebrakes of the southern 
States. It is also common in the great forests of northern 
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and throughout the 
Rocky Mountains and the timbered ranges of the Pacific 
coast. In the East it has always ranked second only to 
the deer among the beasts of chase. The bear and the 
buck were the staple objects of pursuit of all the old 
hunters. They were more plentiful than the bison and 
elk even in the long vanished days when these two great 
monarchs of the forest still ranged eastward to Virginia 
and Pennsylvania. The wolf and the cougar were always 
too scarce and too shy to yield much profit to the hunter. 
The black bear is a timid, cowardly animal, and usually 
a vegetarian, though it sometimes preys on the sheep, hogs, 
and even cattle of the settler, and is very fond of raiding 

255 



256 The Wilderness Hunter. 

his corn and melons. Its meat is good and its fur often 
valuable ; and in its chase there is much excitement, and 
occasionally a slight spice of danger, just enough to 
render it attractive ; so it has always been eagerly fol- 
lowed. Yet it still holds its own, though in greatly 
diminished numbers, in the more thinly settled portions 
of the country. One of the standing riddles of American 
zoology is the fact that the black bear, which is easier 
killed and less prolific than the wolf, should hold its own 
in the land better than the latter, this being directly the 
reverse of what occurs in Europe, where the brown bear 
is generally exterminated before the wolf. 

In a few wild spots in the East, in northern Maine 
for instance, here and there in the neighborhood of the 
upper Great Lakes, in the east Tennessee and Kentucky 
mountains and the swamps of Florida and Mississippi, 
there still lingers an occasional representative of the old 
wilderness hunters. These men live in log-cabins in the 
wilderness. They do their hunting on foot, occasionally 
with the help of a single trailing dog. In Maine they are 
as apt to kill moose and caribou as bear and deer ; but 
elsewhere the two last, with an occasional cougar or wolf, 
are the beasts of chase which they follow. Nowadays as 
these old hunters die there is no one to take their places, 
though there are still plenty of backwoods settlers in all of 
the regions named who do a great deal of hunting and 
trapping. Such an old hunter rarely makes his appear- 
ance at the settlements except to dispose of his peltry and 
hides in exchange for cartridges and provisions, and he 
leads a life of such lonely isolation as to insure his indi- 



The Black Bear. 257 

vidual characteristics developing into peculiarities. Most 
of the wilder districts in the eastern States still preserve 
memories of some such old hunter who lived his long life 
alone, waging ceaseless warfare on the vanishing game, 
whose oddities, as well as his courage, hardihood, and 
woodcraft, are laughingly remembered by the older set- 
tlers, and who is usually best known as having killed the 
last wolf or bear or cougar ever seen in the locality. 

Generally the weapon mainly relied on by these old 
hunters is the rifle ; and occasionally some old hunter will 
be found even to this day who uses a muzzle loader, such 
as Kit Carson carried in the middle of the century. There 
are exceptions to this rule of the rifle however. In the 
years after the Civil War one of the many noted hunters of 
southwest Virginia and east Tennessee was Wilbur Waters, 
sometimes called The Hunter of White Top. He often 
killed black bear with a knife and dogs. He spent all his 
life in hunting and was very successful, killing the last 
gang of wolves to be found in his neighborhood ; and he 
slew innumerable bears, with no worse results to himself 
than an occasional bite or scratch. 

In the southern States the planters living in the wilder 
regions have always been in the habit of following the 
black bear with horse and hound, many of them keeping 
regular packs of bear hounds. Such a pack includes not 
only pure-bred hounds, but also cross-bred animals, and 
some sharp, agile, hard-biting fierce dogs and terriers. 
They follow the bear and bring him to bay but do not try to 
kill him, although there are dogs of the big fighting breeds 
which can readily master a black bear if loosed at him 



258 The Wilderness Hunter. 

three or four at a time ; but the dogs of these southern 
bear-hound packs are not fitted for such work, and if they 
try to close with the bear he is certain to play havoc with 
them, disembowelling them with blows of his paws or 
seizing them in his arms and biting through their spines 
or legs. The riders follow the hounds through the cane- 
brakes, and also try to make cutoffs and station themselves 
at open points where they think the bear will pass, so that 
they may get a shot at him. The weapons used are rifles, 
shotguns, and occasionally revolvers. 

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

General Hampton always hunted with large packs of 
hounds, managed sometimes by himself and sometimes by 
his negro hunters. He occasionally took out forty dogs 
at a time. He found that all his dogs together could not 
kill a big fat bear, but they occasionally killed three-year- 



The Black Bear. 259 

olds, or lean and poor bears. During the course of his 
life he has himself killed, or been in at the death of, five 
hundred bears, at least two thirds of them falling by his 
own hand. In the years just before the war he had on 
one occasion, in Mississippi, killed sixty-eight bears in five 
months. Once he killed four bears in a day ; at another 
time three, and frequently two. The two largest bears 
he himself killed weighed, respectively, 408 and 410 
pounds. They were both shot in Mississippi. But he 
saw at least one bear killed which was much larger than 
either of these. These figures were taken down at the 
time, when the animals were actually weighed on the 
scales. Most of his hunting for bear was done in north- 
ern Mississippi, where one of his plantations was situated, 
near Greenville. During the half century that he hunted, 
on and off, in this neighborhood, he knew of two instances 
where hunters were fatally wounded in the chase of the 
black bear. Both of the men were inexperienced, one 
being a raftsman who came down the river, and the other 
a man from Vicksburg. He was not able to learn the 
particulars in the last case, but the raftsman came too 
close to a bear that was at bay, and it broke through the 
dogs, rushed at and overthrew him, then lying on him, it 
bit him deeply in the thigh, through the femoral artery, 
so that he speedily bled to death. 

But a black bear is not usually a formidable opponent, 
and though he will sometimes charge home he is much 
more apt to bluster and bully than actually to come to 
close quarters. I myself have but once seen a man who 
had been hurt by one of these bears. This was an Indian. 



260 The Wilderness Hunter. 

He had come on the beast close up in a thick wood, and 
had mortally wounded it with his gun ; it had then closed 
with him, knocking the gun out of his hand, so that he 
was forced to use his knife. It charged him on all fours, 
but in the grapple, when it had failed to throw him down, 
it raised itself on its hind legs, clasping him across the 
shoulders with its fore-paws. Apparently it had no inten- 
tion of hugging, but merely sought to draw him within 
reach of his jaws. He fought desperately against this, 
using the knife freely, and striving to keep its head back ; 
and the flow of blood weakened the animal, so that it 
finally fell exhausted, before being able dangerously to 
injure him. But it had bitten his left arm very severely, 
and its claws had made long gashes on his shoulders. 

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



The Black Bear. 261 

clothes after which he shot it. Bears are shy and have 
very keen noses ; they are therefore hard to kill by fair 
hunting, living, as they generally do, in dense forests or 
thick brush. They are easy enough to trap, however. 
Thus, these two men, though they trapped so many, 
never but once killed them in any other way. On this 
occasion one of them, in the winter, found in a great 
hollow log a den where a she and two well-grown cubs 
had taken up their abode, and shot all three with his rifle 
as they burst out. 

Where they are much hunted, bear become purely 
nocturnal ; but in the wilder forests I have seen them 
abroad at all hours, though they do not much relish the 
intense heat of noon. They are rather comical animals 
to watch feeding and going about the ordinary business 
of their lives. Once I spent half an hour lying at the 
edge of a wood and looking at a black bear some three 
hundred yards off across an open glade. It was in good 
stalking country, but the wind was unfavorable and I 
waited for it to shift waited too long as it proved, for 
something frightened the beast and he made off before I 
could get a shot at him. When I first saw him he was 
shuffling along and rooting in the ground, so that he 
looked like a great pig. Then he began to turn over the 
stones and logs to hunt for insects, small reptiles, and 
the like. A moderate-sized stone he would turn over 
with a single clap of his paw, and then plunge his nose 
down into the hollow to gobble up the small creatures 
beneath while still dazed by the light. The big logs and 
rocks he would tug and worry at with both paws ; once, 



262 The Wilderness Hunter. 

over-exerting his clumsy strength, he lost his grip and 
rolled clean on his back. Under some of the ,logs he 
evidently found mice and chipmunks ; then, as soon as 
the log was overturned, he would be seen jumping about 
with grotesque agility, and making quick dabs here and 
there, as the little, scurrying rodent turned and twisted, 
until at last he put his paw on it and scooped it up into his 
mouth. Sometimes, probably when he smelt the mice 
underneath, he would cautiously turn the log over with 
one paw, holding the other lifted and ready to strike. 
Now and then he would halt and sniff the air in every 
direction, and it was after one of these halts that he sud- 
denly shuffled off into the woods. 

Black bear generally feed on berries, nuts, insects, 
carrion, and the like ; but at times they take to killing 
very large animals. In fact, they are curiously irregular 
in their food. They will kill deer if they can get at 
them ; but generally the deer are too quick. Sheep and 
hogs are their favorite prey, especially the latter, for 
bears seem to have a special relish for pork. Twice I 
have known a black bear kill cattle. Once the victim 
was a bull which had got mired, and which the bear delib- 
erately proceeded to eat alive, heedless of the bellows of 
the unfortunate beast. On the other occasion, a cow 
was surprised and slain among some bushes at the edge 
of a remote pasture. In the spring, soon after the long 
winter sleep, they are very hungry, and are especially 
apt to attack large beasts at this time ; although dur- 
ing the very first days of their appearance, when they 
are just breaking their fast, they eat rather sparingly, 



The Black Bear. 263 

and by preference the tender shoots of green grass 
and other herbs, or frogs and crayfish ; it is not for a 
week or two that they seem to be overcome by lean, 
ravenous hunger. They will even attack and master 
that formidable fighter the moose, springing at it from 
an ambush as it passes for a bull moose would surely 
be an overmatch for one of them if fronted fairly in 
the open. An old hunter, whom I could trust, told 
me that he had seen in the snow in early spring the 
place where a bear had sprung at two moose, which were 
trotting together ; he missed his spring, and the moose 
got off, their strides after they settled down into their 
pace being tremendous, and showing how thoroughly 
they were frightened. Another time he saw a bear chase 
a moose into a lake, where it waded out a little distance, 
and then turned to bay, bidding defiance to his pursuer, 
the latter not daring to approach in the water. I have 
been told but cannot vouch for it that instances have 
been known where the bear, maddened by hunger, has 
gone in on a moose thus standing at bay, only to be 
beaten down under the water by the terrible fore-hoofs of 
the quarry, and to yield its life in the contest. A lumber- 
man told me that he once saw a moose, evidently much 
startled, trot through a swamp, and immediately afterwards 
a bear came up following the tracks. He almost ran into 
the man, and was evidently not in a good temper, for he 
growled and blustered, and two or three times made feints 
of charging, before he finally concluded to go off. 

Bears will occasionally visit hunters' or lumbermen's 
camps, in the absence of the owners, and play sad havoc 



264 The Wilderness Hunter. 

with all that therein is, devouring everything eatable, 
especially if sweet, and trampling into a dirty mess what- 
ever they do not eat. The black bear does not average 
more than a third the size of the grisly ; but, like all its 
kind, it varies greatly in weight. The largest I myself 
ever saw weighed was in Maine, and tipped the scale at 
346 pounds ; but I have a perfectly authentic record of 
one in Maine that weighed 397, and my friend, Dr. Hart 
Merriam, tells me that he has seen several in the Adiron- 
dacks that when killed weighed about 350. 

I have myself shot but one or two black bears, and 
these were obtained under circumstances of no special in- 
terest, as I merely stumbled on them while after other 
game, and killed them before they had a chance either to 
run or show fight 





CHAPTER XIV. 

OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR. 

THE king of the game beasts of temperate North 
America, because the most dangerous to the hun- 
ter, is the grisly bear ; known to the few remain- 
ing old-time trappers of the Rockies and the Great Plains, 
sometimes as " Old Ephraim " and sometimes as " Mocca- 
sin Joe " the last in allusion to his queer, half-human 
footprints, which look as if made by some misshapen 
giant, walking in moccasins. 

Bear vary greatly in size and color, no less than in tem- 
per and habits. Old hunters speak much of them in their 
endless talks over the camp fires and in the snow-bound 
winter huts. They insist on many species ; not merely 
the black and the grisly, but the brown, the cinnamon, the 
gray, the silver-tip, and others with names known only in 
certain localities, such as the range bear, the roach-back, 
and the smut-face. But, in spite of popular opinion to 
the contrary, most old hunters are very untrustworthy in 
dealing with points of natural history. They usually know 
only so much about any given game animal as will enable 
them to kill it. They study its habits solely with this end 



266 The Wilderness Hunter. 

in view ; and once slain they only examine it to see about its 
condition and fur. With rare exceptions they are quite 
incapable of passing judgment upon questions of specific 
identity or difference. When questioned, they not only 
advance perfectly impossible theories and facts in support 
of their views, but they rarely even agree as to the views 
themselves. One hunter will assert that the true grisly 
is only found in California, heedless of the fact that the 
name was first used by Lewis and Clarke as one of the 
titles they applied to the large bears of the plains country 
round the Upper Missouri, a quarter of a century before 
the California grisly was known to fame. Another hun- 
ter will call any big brindled bear a grisly no matter where 
it is found ; and he and his companions will dispute by 
the hour as to whether a bear of large, but not extreme, 
size is a grisly or a silver-tip. In Oregon the cinnamon 
bear is a phase of the small black bear ; in Montana it is 
the plains variety of the large mountain silver-tip. I have 
myself seen the skins of two bears killed on the upper 
waters of Tongue River ; one was that of a male, one of a 
female, and they had evidently just mated ; yet one was 
distinctly a " silver-tip " and the other a " cinnamon." The 
skin of one very big bear which I killed in the Bighorn 
has proved a standing puzzle to almost all the old hunters 
to whom I have showed it ; rarely do any two of them 
agree as to whether it is a grisly, a silver-tip, a cinnamon, 
or a " smut-face." Any bear with unusually long hair on 
the spine and shoulders, especially if killed in the spring, 
when the fur is shaggy, is forthwith dubbed a " roach-back." 
The average sporting writer moreover joins with the more 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 267 

imaginative members of the " old hunter " variety in 
ascribing wildly various traits to these different bears. 
One comments on the superior prowess of the roach- 
back ; the explanation being that a bear in early spring 
is apt to be ravenous from hunger. The next insists that 
the California grisly is the only really dangerous bear ; 
while another stoutly maintains that it does not compare 
in ferocity with what he calls the " smaller " silver-tip or 
cinnamon. And so on, and so on, without end. All of 
which is mere nonsense. 

Nevertheless, it is no easy task to determine how many 
species or varieties of bear actually do exist in the United 
States, and I cannot even say without doubt that a very 
large set of skins and skulls would not show a nearly com- 
plete intergradation between the most widely separated 
individuals. However, there are certainly two very dis- 
tinct types, which differ almost as widely from each other 
as a wapiti does from a mule deer, and which exist in the 
same localities in most heavily timbered portions of the 
Rockies. One is the small black bear, a bear which will 
average about two hundred pounds weight, with fine, 
glossy, black fur, and the fore-claws but little longer than 
the hinder ones ; in fact the hairs of the fore-paw often 
reach to their tips. This bear is a tree climber. It is the 
only kind found east of the great plains, and it is also 
plentiful in the forest-clad portions of the Rockies, being 
common in most heavily timbered tracts throughout the 
United States. The other is the grisly, which weighs 
three or four times as much as the black, and has a pelt of 
coarse hair, which is in color gray, grizzled, or brown of 



268 The Wilderness Hunter. 

various shades. It is not a tree climber, and the fore-claws 
are very long, much longer than the hinder ones. It is 
found from the great plains west of the Mississippi to the 
Pacific coast. This bear inhabits indifferently lowland and 
mountain ; the deep woods, and the barren plains where 
the only cover is the stunted growth fringing the streams. 
These two types are very distinct in every way, and their 
differences are not at all dependent upon mere geographical 
considerations ; for they are often found in the same dis- 
trict. Thus I found them both in the Bighorn Mountains, 
each type being in extreme form, while the specimens I shot 
showed no trace of intergradation. The huge grizzled, 
long-clawed beast, and its little glossy-coated, short-clawed, 
tree-climbing brother roamed over exactly the same coun- 
try in those mountains ; but they were as distinct in 
habits, and mixed as little together as moose and caribou. 
On the other hand, when a sufficient number of bears, 
from widely separated regions are examined, the various 
distinguishing marks are found to be inconstant and to 
show a tendency exactly how strong I cannot say to 
fade into one another. The differentiation of the two 
species seems to be as yet scarcely completed ; there are 
more or less imperfect connecting links, and as regards 
the grisly it almost seems as if the specific characters were 
still unstable. In the far northwest, in the basin of 
the Columbia, the " black " bear is as often brown as any 
other color ; and I have seen the skins of two cubs, one 
black and one brown, which were shot when following the 
same dam. When these brown bears have coarser hair 
than usual their skins are with difficulty to be distinguished 



Old Rphraim, the Grisly Bear. 269 

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

A full grown grisly will usually weigh from five to seven 
hundred pounds ; but exceptional individuals undoubtedly 
reach more than twelve hundredweight. The California 
bears are said to be much the largest. This I think is so, 
but I cannot say it with certainty at any rate I have 
examined several skins of full-grown Californian bears 
which were no larger than those of many I have seen from 
the northern Rockies. The Alaskan bears, particularly 
those of the peninsula, are even bigger beasts ; the skin of 
one which I saw in the possession of Mr. Webster, the 
taxidermist, was a good deal larger than the average polar 
bear skin ; and the animal when alive, if in good condition, 
could hardly have weighed less than 1,400 pounds.* Bears 
vary wonderfully in weight, even to the extent of becoming 
half as heavy again, according as they are fat or lean ; in this 
respect they are more like hogs than like any other animals. 

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



270 The Wilderness Hunter. 

The grisly is now chiefly a beast of the high hills and 
heavy timber ; but this is merely because he has learned 
that he must rely on cover to guard him from man, and 
has forsaken the open ground accordingly. In old days, 
and in one or two very out-of-the-way places almost to the 
present time, he wandered at will over the plains. It is only 
the wariness born of fear which nowadays causes him to 
cling to the thick brush of the large river-bottoms through- 
out the plains country. When there were no rifle-bearing 
hunters in the land, to harass him and make him afraid, 
he roved hither and thither at will, in burly self-confidence. 
Then he cared little for cover, unless as a weather-break, 
or because it happened to contain food he liked. If the 
humor seized him he would roam for days over the rolling 
or broken prairie, searching for roots, digging up gophers, 
or perhaps following the great buffalo herds either to prey 
on some unwary straggler which he was able to catch at 
a disadvantage in a washout, or else to feast on the car- 
casses of those which died by accident. Old hunters, 
survivors of the long-vanished ages when the vast herds 
thronged the high plains and were followed by the wild 
red tribes, and by bands of whites who were scarcely less 
savage, have told me that they often met bears under 
such circumstances ; and these bears were accustomed to 
sleep in a patch of rank sage bush, in the niche of a wash- 
out, or under the lee of a boulder, seeking their food abroad 
even in full daylight. The bears of the Upper Missouri 
basin which were so light in color that the early explorers 
often alluded to them as gray or even as "white " were 
particularly given to this life in the open. To this day 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 271 

that close kinsman of the grisly known as the bear of the 
barren grounds continues to lead this same kind of life, in 
the far north. My friend Mr. Rockhill, of Maryland, who 
was the first white man to explore eastern Tibet, describes 
the large, grisly-like bear of those desolate uplands as 
having similar habits. 

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

In most places the grisly hibernates, or as old hunters 
say "holes up, " during the cold season, precisely as does 
the black bear ; but as with the latter species, those animals 
which live farthest south spend the whole year abroad in 
mild seasons. The grisly rarely chooses that favorite den 
of his little black brother, a hollow tree or log, for his 
winter sleep, seeking or making some cavernous hole in 
the ground instead. The hole is sometimes in a slight 
hillock in a river bottom, but more often on a hill-side, and 
may be either shallow or deep. In the mountains it is 
generally a natural cave in the rock, but among the foot-hills 
and on the plains the bear usually has to take some 
hollow or opening, and then fashion it into a burrow to his 
liking with his big digging claws. 



272 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

Once in its den the bear passes the cold months 
in lethargic sleep ; yet, in all but the coldest weather, 
and sometimes even then, its slumber is but light, and if 
disturbed it will promptly leave its den, prepared for 
fight or flight as the occasion may require. Many times 
when a hunter has stumbled on the winter resting-place of 
a bear and has left it, as he thought, without his presence 
being discovered, he has returned only to find that the 
crafty old fellow was aware of the danger all the time, and 
sneaked off as soon as the coast was clear. But in veiy 
cold weather hibernating bears can hardly be wakened 
from their torpid lethargy. 

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

When the bear first leaves its den the fur is in very fine 
order, but it speedily becomes thin and poor, and does not 
recover its condition until the fall. Sometimes the bear 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 273 

does not betray any great hunger for a few days after its 
appearance ; but in a short while it becomes ravenous. 
During the early spring, when the woods are still entirely 
barren and lifeless, while the snow yet lies in deep drifts, 
the lean, hungry brute, both maddened and weakened by 
long fasting, is more of a flesh eater than at any other 
time. It is at this period that it is most apt to turn true 
beast of prey, and show its prowess either at the expense 
of the wild game, or of the flocks of the settler and the 
herds of the ranchman. Bears are very capricious in this 
respect, however. Some are confirmed game, and cattle- 
killers ; others are not ; while yet others either are or are 
not accordingly as the freak seizes them, and their ravages 
vary almost unaccountably, both with the season and the 
locality. 

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

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



274 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and even buffalo berries had ripened. I think that what 
started it was a feast on a cow which had mired and died 
in the bed of the creek ; at least it was not until after we 
found that it had been feeding at the carcass and had eaten 
every scrap, that we discovered traces of its ravages among 
the livestock. It seemed to attack the animals wholly 
regardless of their size and strength ; its victims including 
a large bull and a beef steer, as well as cows, yearlings, 
and gaunt, weak trail " doughgies," which had been 
brought in very late by a Texas cow- outfit for that year 
several herds were driven up from the overstocked, 
eaten-out, and drought-stricken ranges of the far south. 
Judging from the signs, the crafty old grisly, as cunning 
as he was ferocious, usually lay in wait for the cattle when 
they came down to water, choosing some thicket of dense 
underbrush and twisted cottonwoods through which they 
had to pass before reaching the sand banks on the river's 
brink. Sometimes he pounced on them as they fed through 
the thick, low cover of the bottoms, where an assailant 
could either lie in ambush by one of the numerous cattle 
trails, or else creep unobserved towards some browsing 
beast. When within a few feet a quick rush carried him 
fairly on the terrified quarry ; and though but a clumsy 
animal compared to the great cats, the grisly is far quicker 
than one would imagine from viewing his ordinary lum- 
bering gait. In one or two instances the bear had appar- 
ently grappled with his victim by seizing it near the loins 
and striking a disabling blow over the small of the back ; 
in at least one instance he had jumped on the animal's head, 
grasping it with his fore-paws, while with his fangs he tore 




GRISLY KILLING A STEER. 



Old Rpkraim, the Grisly Bear. 275 

open the throat or craunched the neck bone. Some of his 
victims were slain far from the river, in winding, brushy 
coulies of the Bad Lands, where the broken nature of the 
ground rendered stalking easy. Several of the ranchmen, 
angered at their losses, hunted their foe eagerly, but 
always with ill success ; until one of them put poison in a 
carcass, and thus at last, in ignoble fashion, slew the cat- 
tle-killer. 

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

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



2 76 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Quite near my ranch, once, a cowboy in my employ 
found unmistakable evidence of the discomfiture of a bear 
by a long-horned range cow. It was in the early spring, 
and the cow with her new-born calf was in a brush- 
bordered valley. The footprints in the damp soil were very 
plain, and showed all that had happened. The bear had 
evidently come out of the bushes with a rush, probably 
bent merely on seizing the calf ; and had slowed up when 
the cow instead of flying faced him. He had then begun 
to walk round his expected dinner in a circle, the cow 
fronting him and moving nervously back and forth, so that 
her sharp hoofs cut and trampled the ground. Finally she 
had charged savagely ; whereupon the bear had bolted ; 
and, whether frightened at the charge, or at the approach 
of some one, he had not returned. 

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

When a grisly can get at domestic animals it rarely 
seeks to molest game, the former being far less wary and 
more helpless. Its heaviness and clumsiness do not fit it 



Old Rpkraim, the Grisly Bear. 277 

well for a life of rapine against shy woodland creatures. 
Its vast strength and determined temper, however, more 
than make amends for lack of agility in the actual struggle 
with the stricken prey ; its difficulty lies in seizing, not in 
killing, the game. Hence, when a grisly does take to 
game-killing, it is likely to attack bison, moose, and elk ; 
it is rarely able to catch deer, still less sheep or antelope. 
In fact these smaller game animals often show but little 
dread of its neighborhood, and, though careful not to let 
it come too near, go on grazing when a bear is in full 
sight. Whitetail deer are frequently found at home in 
the same thicket in which a bear has its den, while they 
immediately desert the temporary abiding place of a wolf 
or cougar. Nevertheless, they sometimes presume too 
much on this confidence. A couple of years before the 
occurrence of the feats of cattle-killing mentioned above 
as happening near my ranch, either the same bear that 
figured in them, or another of similar tastes, took to game- 
hunting. The beast lived in the same succession of huge 
thickets which cover for two or three miles the river 
bottoms and the mouths of the inflowing creeks ; and he 
suddenly made a raid on the whitetail deer which were 
plentiful in the dense cover. The shaggy, clumsy mon- 
ster was cunning enough to kill several of these knowing 
creatures. The exact course of procedure I never could 
find out ; but apparently the bear laid in wait beside the 
game trails, along which the deer wandered. 

In the old days when the innumerable bison grazed 
free on the prairie, the grisly sometimes harassed their 
bands as it now does the herds of the ranchman. The 



278 The Wilderness Hunter. 

bison was the most easily approached of all game, and the 
great bear could often get near some outlying straggler, 
in its quest after stray cows, yearlings, or calves. In 
default of a favorable chance to make a prey of 
one ef these weaker members of the herds, it did 
not hesitate to attack the mighty bulls themselves ; 
and perhaps the grandest sight which it was ever the 
good fortune of the early hunters to witness, was one of 
these rare battles between a hungry grisly and a power- 
ful buffalo bull. Nowadays, however, the few last sur- 
vivors of the bison are vanishing even from the inaccessible 
mountain fastnesses in which they sought a final refuge 
from their destroyers. 

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



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 279 

A bull moose is even more formidable, being able to 
strike the most lightning-like blows with his terrible 
forefeet, his true weapons of defence. I doubt if any 
beast of prey would rush in on one of these woodland 
giants, when his horns were grown, and if he was on his 
guard and bent on fight. Nevertheless, the moose some- 
times fall victims to the uncouth prowess of the grisly, in 
the thick wet forests of the high northern Rockies, where 
both beasts dwell. An old hunter who a dozen years ago 
wintered at Jackson Lake, in northwestern Wyoming, told 
me that when the snows got deep on the mountains the 
moose came, down and took up their abode near the lake, 
on its western side. Nothing molested them during the 
winter. Early in the spring a grisly came out of its den, 
and he found its tracks in many places, as it roamed rest- 
lessly about, evidently very hungry. Finding little to eat 
in the bleak, snow-drifted woods, it soon began to depre- 
date on the moose, and killed two or three, generally by 
lying in wait and dashing out on them as they passed near 
its lurking-place. Even the bulls were at that season 
weak, and of course hornless, with small desire to fight ; 
and in each case the rush of the great bear doubtless 
made with the ferocity and speed which so often belie the 
seeming awkwardness of the animal bore down the 
startled victim, taken utterly unawares before it had a 
chance to defend itself. In one case the bear had missed 
its spring ; the moose going off, for a few rods, with huge 
jumps, and then settling down into its characteristic trot. 
The old hunter who followed the tracks said he would 



280 The Wilderness Hunter. 

never have deemed it possible for any animal to make 
such strides while in a trot. 

Nevertheless, the grisly is only occasionally, not nor- 
mally, a formidable predatory beast, a killer of cattle and 
of large game. Although capable of far swifter move- 
ment than is promised by his frame of seemingly clumsy 
strength, and in spite of his power of charging with 
astonishing suddenness and speed, he yet lacks altogether 
the supple agility of such finished destroyers as the cougar 
and the wolf ; and for the absence of this agility no amount 
of mere huge muscle can atone. He is more apt to feast 
on animals which have met their death by accident, or 
which have been killed by other beasts or by man, than 
to do his own killing. He is a very foul feeder, with a 
strong relish for carrion, and possesses a grewsome and 
cannibal fondness for the flesh of his own kind ; a bear 
carcass will toll a brother bear to the ambushed hunter 
better than almost any other bait, unless it is the carcass 
of a horse. 

Nor do these big bears always content themselves 
merely with the carcasses of their brethren. A black bear 
would have a poor chance if in the clutches of a large, 
hungry grisly ; and an old male will kill and eat a cub, 
especially if he finds it at a disadvantage. A rather re- 
markable instance of this occurred in the Yellowstone 
National Park, in the spring of 1891. The incident is 
related in the following letter written to Mr. William 
Hallett Phillips, of Washington, by another friend, Mr. 
Elwood Hofer. Hofer is an old mountain-man ; I have 
hunted with him myself, and know his statements to be 



Old Epkraim, the Grisly Bear. 281 

trustworthy. He was, at the time, at work in the Park 
getting animals for the National Museum at Washington, 
and was staying at Yancey's " hotel " near Tower Falls. 
His letter which was dated June 2ist, 1891, runs in jpart 
as follows : 

" I had a splendid Grizzly or Roachback cub and was 
going to send him into the Springs next morning the team 
was here, I heard a racket out side went out and found 
him dead an old bear that made an 9 1-2 inch track had 
killed and partly eaten him. Last night another one came, 
one that made an 8 1-2 inch track, and broke Yancy up 
in the milk business. You know how the cabins stand 
here. There is a hitching post between the saloon and 
old house, the little bear was killed there. In a creek 
close by was a milk house, last night another bear came 
there and smashed the whole thing up, leaving nothing 
but a few flattened buckets and pans and boards. I was 
sleeping in the old cabin, I heard the tin ware rattle but 
thought it was all right supposed it was cows or horses 
about. I don't care about the milk but the damn cuss dug 
up the remains of the cub I had buried in the old ditch, 
he visited the old meat house but found nothing. Bear 
are very thick in this part of the Park, and are getting 
very fresh. I sent in the game to Capt. Anderson, hear 
its doing well." 

Grislies are fond of fish ; and on the Pacific slope, 
where the salmon run, they, like so many other beasts, 
travel many scores of miles and crowd down to the 
rivers to gorge themselves upon the fish which are 
thrown up on the banks. Wading into the water a bear 



282 The Wilderness Hunter. 

will knock out the salmon right and left when they are 
running thick. 

Flesh and fish do not constitute the grisly's ordinary 
diet. At most times the big bear is a grubber in the 
ground, an eater of insects, roots, nuts, and berries. Its 
dangerous fore-claws are normally used to overturn stones 
and knock rotten logs to pieces, that it may lap up the 
small tribes of darkness which swarm under the one and 
in the other. It digs up the camas roots, wild onions, and 
an occasional luckless woodchuck or gopher. If food is 
very plenty bears are lazy, but commonly they are obliged 
to be very industrious, it being no light task to gather 
enough ants, beetles, crickets, tumble-bugs, roots, and nuts 
to satisfy the cravings of so huge a bulk. The sign of a 
bear's work is, of course, evident to the most unpractised 
eye ;*and in no way can one get a better idea of the 
brute's power than by watching it busily working for its 
breakfast, shattering big logs and upsetting boulders by 
sheer strength. There is always a touch of the comic, as 
well as a touch of the strong and terrible, in a bear's look 
and actions. It will tug and pull, now with one paw, now 
with two, now on all fours, now on its hind legs, in the 
effort to turn over a large log or stone ; and when it 
succeeds it jumps round to thrust its muzzle into the damp 
hollow and lap up the affrighted mice or beetles while 
they are still paralyzed by the sudden exposure. 

The true time of plenty for bears is the berry season. 
Then they feast ravenously on huckleberries, blueberries, 
kinnikinic berries, buffalo berries, wild plums, elder- 
berries, and scores of other fruits. They often smash all 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 283 

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

Like most other wild animals, bears which have known 
the neighborhood of man are beasts of the darkness, or 
at least of the dusk and the gloaming. But they are by 
no means such true night-lovers as the big cats and the 
wolves. In regions where they know little of hunters 
they roam about freely in the daylight, and in cool 
weather are even apt to take their noontide slumbers 
basking in the sun. Where they are much hunted they 
finally almost reverse their natural habits and sleep 
throughout the hours of light, only venturing abroad 
after nightfall and before sunrise ; but even yet this is not 
the habit of those bears which exist in the wilder localities 
where they are still plentiful. In these places they sleep, 
or at least rest, during the hours of greatest heat, and 
again in the middle part of the night, unless there is a full 
moon. They start on their rambles for food about mid- 
afternoon, and end their morning roaming soon after the 



284 The Wilderness Hunter. 

sun is above the horizon. If the moon is full, however, 
they may feed all night long, and then wander but little 
in the daytime. 

Aside from man, the full-grown grisly has hardly any foe 
to fear. Nevertheless, in the early spring, when weakened 
by the hunger that succeeds the winter sleep, it behooves 
even the grisly, if he dwells in the mountain fastnesses of 
the far northwest, to beware of a famished troop of great 
timber wolves. These northern Rocky Mountain wolves 
are most formidable beasts, and when many of them band 
together in time of famine they do not hesitate to pounce 
on the black bear and cougar ; and even a full-grown 
grisly is not safe from their ^attacks, unless he can back up 
against some rock which will prevent them from assailing 
him from behind. A small ranchman whom I knew well, 
who lived near Flathead Lake, once in April found where 
a troop of these wolves had killed a good-sized yearling 
grisly. Either cougar or wolf will make a prey of a grisly 
which is but a few months old ; while any fox, lynx, 
wolverine, or fisher will seize the very young cubs. The 
old story about wolves fearing to feast on game killed by 
a grisly is all nonsense. Wolves are canny beasts, and 
they will not approach a carcass if they think a bear is 
hidden nearby and likely to rush out at them ; but under 
ordinary circumstances they will feast not only on the 
carcasses of the grisly's victims, but on the carcass of the 
grisly himself after he has been slain and left by the 
hunter. Of course wolves would only attack a grisly if in 
the most desperate straits for food, as even a victory over 
such an antagonist must be purchased with heavy loss of 



Old Rphraim, the Grisly Bear. 285 

life ; and a hungry grisly would devour either a wolf or 
a cougar, or any one of the smaller carnivora off-hand if 
it happened to corner it where it could not get away. 

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

Bear are fond of wallowing in the water, whether in the 
sand, on the edge of a rapid plains river, on the muddy 



286 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

The bear is a solitary beast, and although many may 
assemble together, in what looks like a drove, on some 
favorite feeding-ground usually where the berries are 
thick, or by the banks of a salmon-thronged river the 
association is never more than momentary, each going its 
own way as soon as its hunger is satisfied. The males 
always live alone by choice, save in the rutting season, 
when they seek the females. Then two or three may come 
together in the course of their pursuit and rough courtship 
of the female ; and if the rivals are well matched, savage 



Old Ephraim, the Grisly Bear. 287 

battles follow, so that many of the old males have their 
heads seamed with scars made by their fellows' teeth. At 
such times they are evil tempered and prone to attack 
man or beast on slight provocation. 

The she brings forth her cubs, one, two, or three in 
number, in her winter den. They are very small and 
helpless things, and it is some time after she leaves her 
winter home before they can follow her for any distance. 
They stay with her throughout the summer and the fall, 
leaving her when the cold weather sets in. By this time 
they are well grown ; and hence, especially if an old male 
has joined the she, the family may number three or four 
individuals, so as to make what seems like quite a little 
troop of bears. A small ranchman who lived a dozen 
miles from me on the Little Missouri once found a she- 
bear and three half-grown cubs feeding at a berry-patch in 
a ravine. He shot the old she in the small of the back, 
whereat she made a loud roaring and squealing. One of 
the cubs rushed towards her ; but its sympathy proved 
misplaced, for she knocked it over with a hearty cuff, 
either out of mere temper, or because she thought her 
pain must be due to an unprovoked assault from one of 
her offspring. The hunter then killed one of the cubs, 
and the other two escaped. When bears are together and 
one is wounded by a bullet, but does not see the real 
assailant, it often falls tooth and nail upon its comrade, 
apparently attributing its injury to the latter. 

Bears are hunted in many ways. Some are killed by 
poison ; but this plan is only practised by the owners of 
cattle or sheep who have suffered from their ravages. 



288 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Moreover, they are harder to poison than wolves. Most 
often they are killed in traps, which are sometimes dead- 
falls, on the principle of the little figure-4 trap familiar to 
every American country boy, sometimes log-pens in 
which the animal is taken alive, but generally huge steel 
gins. In some states there is a bounty for the destruc- 
tion of grislies ; and in many places their skins have a 
market price, although much less valuable than those of 
the black bear. The men who pursue them for the 
bounty, or for their fur, as well as the ranchmen who 
regard them as foes to stock, ordinarily use steel traps. 
The trap is very massive, needing no small strength to 
set, and it is usually chained to a bar or log of wood, 
which does not stop the bear's progress outright, but 
hampers and interferes with it, continually catching in 
tree stumps and the like. The animal when trapped 
makes off at once, biting at the trap and the bar ; but it 
leaves a broad wake and sooner or later is found tangled 
up by the chain and bar. A bear is by no means so 
difficult to trap as a wolf or fox although more so than a 
cougar or a lynx. In wild regions a skilful trapper can 
often catch a great many with comparative ease. A 
cunning old grisly however, soon learns the danger, and 
is then almost impossible to trap, as it either avoids the 
neighborhood altogether or finds out some way by which 
to get at the bait without springing the trap, or else 
deliberately springs it first. I have been told of bears 
which spring traps by rolling across them, the iron jaws 
slipping harmlessly off the big round body. An old horse 
is the most common bait. 



Old Epkraim, the Grisly Bear. 289 

It is, of course, all right to trap bears when they are 
followed merely as vermin or for the sake of the fur. 
Occasionally, however, hunters who are out merely for 
sport adopt this method ; but this should never be done. 
To shoot a trapped bear for sport is a thoroughly un- 
sportsmanlike proceeding. A funny plea sometimes 
advanced in its favor is that it is "dangerous." No 
doubt in exceptional instances this is true ; exactly as it 
is true that in exceptional instances it is " dangerous " 
for a butcher to knock over a steer in the slaughter- 
house. A bear caught only by the toes may wrench 
itself free as the hunter comes near, and attack him with 
pain-maddened fury ; or if followed at once, and if the 
trap and bar are light, it may be found in some thicket, 
still free, and in a frenzy of rage. But even in such 
cases the beast has been crippled, and though crazy with 
pain and anger is easily dealt with by a good shot ; while 
ordinarily the poor brute is found in the last stages of 
exhaustion, tied tight to a tree where the log or bar has 
caught, its teeth broken to splintered stumps by rabid 
snaps at the cruel trap and chain. Some trappers kill 
the trapped grislies with a revolver ; so that it may 
easily be seen that the sport is not normally danger- 
ous. Two of my own cowboys, Seawell and Dow, were 
originally from Maine, where they had trapped a number 
of black bears ; and they always killed them either with 
a hatchet or a small 32-calibre revolver. One of them, 
Seawell, once came near being mauled by a trapped bear, 
seemingly at the last gasp, which he approached in- 
cautiously with his hatchet. 
19 



290 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

Doubtless the grisly could be successfully hunted with 
dogs, if the latter were carefully bred and trained to the 
purpose, but as yet this has not been done, and though 
dogs are sometimes used as adjuncts in grisly hunting 
they are rarely of much service. It is sometimes said 
that very small dogs are the best for this end. But this 
is only so with grislies that have never been hunted. 
In such a case the big bear sometimes becomes so irritated 
with the bouncing, yapping little terriers or fice-dogs that 
he may try to catch them and thus permit the hunter to 
creep upon him. But the minute he realizes, as he 
speedily does, that the man is his real foe, he pays no 
further heed whatever to the little dogs, who can then 
neither bring him to bay nor hinder his flight. Ordinary 



Old Rphraim, the Grisly Bear. 291 

hounds, of the kinds used in the South for fox, deer, wild- 
cat, and black bear, are but little better. I have known 
one or two men who at different times tried to hunt the 
grisly with a pack of hounds and fice-dogs wonted to the 
chase of the black bear, but they never met with success, 
This was probably largely owing to the nature of the 
country in which they hunted, a vast tangled mass of 
forest and craggy mountain ; but it was also due to the 
utter inability of the dogs to stop the quarry from break- 
ing bay when it wished. Several times a grisly was 
bayed, but always in some inaccessible spot which it took 
hard climbing to reach, and the dogs were never able to 
hold the beast until the hunters came up. 

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



292 The Wilderness Hunter. 

fierce, ban-dogs, with a cross of the ferocious Cuban blood- 
hound, to give them good scenting powers have by them- 
selves mastered the cougar and the black bear. Such 
instances occurred in the hunting history of my own 
forefathers on my mother's side, who during the last half 
of the eighteenth, and the first half of the present, century 
lived in Georgia and over the border in what are now 
Alabama and Florida. These big dogs can only overcome 
such foes by rushing in in a body and grappling all 
together ; if they hang back, lunging and snapping, a 
cougar or bear will destroy them one by one. With a 
quarry so huge and redoubtable as the grisly, no number 
of dogs, however large and fierce, could overcome him 
unless they all rushed on him in a mass, the first in the 
charge seizing by the head or throat. If the dogs hung 
back, or if there were only a few of them, or if they did 
not seize around the head, they would be destroyed without 
an effort. It is murder to slip merely one or two close- 
quarter dogs at a grisly. Twice I have known a man take 
a large bull dog with his pack when after one of these big 
bears, and in each case the result was the same. In one 
instance the bear was trotting when the bulldog seized it 
by the cheek, and without so much as altering its gait, it 
brushed off the hanging dog with a blow from the fore- 
paw that broke the latter's back. In the other instance 
the bear had come to bay, and when seized by the ear it 
got the dog's body up to its jaws, and tore out the life 
with one crunch. 

A small number of dogs must rely on their activity, 
and must hamper the bear's escape by inflicting a severe 



Old Epkraim, the Grisly Bear. 293 

bite and avoiding the counter-stroke. The only dog I ever 
heard of which, single-handed, was really of service in 
stopping a grisly, was a big Mexican sheep-dog, once 
owned by the hunter Tazewell Woody. It was an agile 
beast with powerful jaws, and possessed both intelligence 
and a fierce, resolute temper. Woody killed three grislies 
with its aid. It attacked with equal caution and ferocity, 
rushing at the bear as the latter ran, and seizing the out- 
stretched hock with a grip of iron, stopping the bear short, 
but letting go before the angry beast could whirl round 
and seize it. It was so active and wary that it always 
escaped damage ; and it was so strong and bit so severely 
that the bear could not possibly run from it at any speed. 
In consequence, if it once came to close quarters with its 
quarry, Woody could always get near enough for a shot. 
Hitherto, however, the mountain hunters as distin- 
guished from the trappers who have followed the grisly 
have relied almost solely on their rifles. In my own case 
about half the bears I have killed I stumbled across almost 
by accident ; and probably this proportion holds good 
generally. The hunter may be after bear at the time, or 
he may be after blacktail deer or elk, the common game 
in most of the haunts of the grisly ; or he may merely be 
travelling through the country or prospecting for gold. 
Suddenly he comes over the edge of a cut bank, or round 
the sharp spur of a mountain or the shoulder of a cliff 
which walls in a ravine, or else the indistinct game trail 
he has been following through the great trees twists 
sharply to one side to avoid a rock or a mass of down 
timber, and behold he surprises old Elphraim digging for 



294 The Wilderness Hunter. 

roots, or munching berries, or slouching along the path r 
or perhaps rising suddenly from the lush, rank plants amid 
which he has been lying. Or it may be that the bear will 
be spied afar rooting in an open glade or on a bare 
hill-side. 

In the still-hunt proper it is necessary to find some 
favorite feeding-ground, where there are many roots or 
berry-bearing bushes, or else to lure the grisly to a carcass. 
This last method of "baiting" for bear is under ordinary 
circumstances the only way which affords even a mod- 
erately fair chance of killing them. They are very 
cunning, with the sharpest of noses, and where they have 
had experience of hunters they dwell only in cover where 
it is almost impossible for the best of still-hunters to 
approach them. 

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



Old Rpkraim, the Grisly Bear. 295 

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

Usually the berry grounds do not offer such favorable 
opportunities, as they often He in thick timber, or are 
covered so densely with bushes as to obstruct the view ; 
and they are rarely commanded by a favorable spot from 
which to spy. On the other hand, as already said, bears 
occasionally forget all their watchfulness while devour- 
ing fruit, and make such a noise rending and tearing 
the bushes that, if once found, a man can creep upon 
them unobserved. 





CHAPTER XV. 

HUNTING THE GRISLY. 

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

Once I killed a grisly in this manner. It was early in 
the fall, but snow lay on the ground, while the gray weather 
boded a storm. My camp was in a bleak, wind-swept 
valley, high among the mountains which form the divide 
between the head-waters of the Salmon and Clarke's Fork 
of the Columbia. All night I had lain in my buffalo-bag, 
under the lea of a windbreak of branches, in the clump of 
fir-trees, where I had halted the preceding evening. At 
my feet ran a rapid mountain torrent, its bed choked with 
ice-covered rocks ; I had been lulled to sleep by the stream's 
splashing murmur, and the loud moaning of the wind 
along the naked cliffs. At dawn I rose and shook myself 

2Q6 



Hunting the Grisly. 297 

free of the buffalo robe, coated with hoar-frost. The ashes 
of the fire were lifeless ; in the dim morning the air was 
bitter cold. I did not linger a moment, but snatched up 
my rifle, pulled on my fur cap and gloves, and strode off 
up a side ravine ; as I walked I ate some mouthfuls of 
venison, left over from supper. 

Two hours of toil up the steep mountain brought me 
to the top of a spur. The sun had risen, but was hidden 
behind a bank of sullen clouds. On the divide I halted, 
and gazed out over a vast landscape, inconceivably wild 
and dismal. Around me towered the stupendous moun- 
tain masses which make up the backbone of the Rockies. 
From my feet, as far as I could see, stretched a rugged 
and barren chaos of ridges and detached rock masses. 
Behind me, far below, the stream wound like a silver ribbon, 
fringed with dark conifers and the changing, dying foliage 
of poplar and quaking aspen. In front the bottoms of the 
valleys were filled with the sombre evergreen forest, dotted 
here and there with black, ice-skimmed tarns ; and the 
dark spruces clustered also in the higher gorges, and were 
scattered thinly along the mountain sides. The snow 
which had fallen lay in drifts and streaks, while, where the 
wind had scope it was blown off, and the ground left bare. 

For two hours I walked onwards across the ridges 
and valleys. Then among some scattered spruces, where 
the snow lay to the depth of half a foot, I suddenly came 
on the fresh, broad trail of a grisly. The brute was evi- 
dently roaming restlessly about in search of a winter den, 
but willing, in passing, to pick up any food that lay handy. 
At once I took the trail, travelling above and to one 



298 The Wilderness Hunter. 

side, and keeping a sharp look-out ahead. The bear was 
going across wind, and this made my task easy. I walked 
rapidly, though cautiously ; and it was only in crossing 
the large patches of bare ground that I had to fear mak- 
ing a noise. Elsewhere the snow muffled my footsteps, 
and made the trail so plain that I scarcely had to waste a 
glance upon it, bending my eyes always to the front. 

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



Hunting the Grisly. 299 

The usual practice of the still-hunter who is after 
grisly is to toll it to baits. The hunter either lies in 
ambush near the carcass, or approaches it stealthily when 
he thinks the bear is at its meal. 

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

When the shadows began to lengthen, I shouldered 
my rifle and plunged into the woods. At first my route 
lay along a mountain side ; then for half a mile over a 
windfall, the dead timber piled about in crazy confusion. 
After that I went up the bottom of a valley by a little 



300 The Wilderness Hunter. 

brook, the ground being carpeted with a sponge of soaked 
moss. At the head of this brook was a pond covered with 
water-lilies ; and a scramble through a rocky pass took me 
into a high, wet valley, where the thick growth of spruce 
was broken by occasional strips of meadow. In this 
valley the moose carcass lay, well at the upper end. 

In moccasined feet I trod softly through the soundless 
woods. Under the dark branches it was already dusk, 
and the air had the cool chill of evening. As I neared 
the clump where the body lay, I walked with redoubled 
caution, watching and listening with strained alertness. 
Then I heard a twig snap ; and my blood leaped, for I 
knew the bear was at his supper. In another moment I 
saw his shaggy, brown form. He was working with all 
his awkward giant strength, trying to bury the carcass, 
twisting it to one side and the other with wonderful ease. 
Once he got angry and suddenly gave it a tremendous 
cuff with his paw ; in his bearing he had something half 
humorous, half devilish. I crept up within forty yards ; 
but for several minutes he would not keep his head still. 
Then something attracted his attention in the forest, and 
he stood motionless looking towards it, broadside to me, 
with his fore- paws planted on the carcass. This gave me 
my chance. I drew a very fine bead between his eye and 
ear, and pulled trigger. He dropped like a steer when 
struck with a pole-axe. 

If there is a good hiding-place handy it is better to lie 
in wait at the carcass. One day on the head-waters of the 
Madison, I found that a bear was coming to an elk I had 
shot some days before ; and I at once determined to am- 



Hunting the Grisly. 

bush the beast when he came back that evening. The 
carcass lay in the middle of a valley a quarter of a mile 
broad. The bottom of this valley was covered by an open 
forest of tall pines ; a thick jungle of smaller evergreens, 
marked where the mountains rose on either hand. There 
were a number of large rocks scattered here and there, one, 
of very convenient shape, being only some seventy or 
eighty yards from the carcass. Up this I clambered. It 
hid me perfectly, and on its top was a carpet of soft pine 
needles, on which I could lie at my ease. 

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

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

Suddenly and without warning, the great bear stepped 
out of the bushes and trod across the pine needles with 



302 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

I spent much of the fall of 1889 hunting on the head- 
waters of the Salmon and Snake in Idaho, and along the 
Montana boundary line from the Big Hole Basin and the 
head of the Wisdom River to the neighborhood of Red 
Rock Pass and to the north and west of Henry's Lake. 
During the last fortnight my companion was the old moun- 
tain man, already mentioned, named Griffeth or Griffin 
I cannot tell which, as he was always called either " Hank " 
or " Griff." He was a crabbedly honest old fellow, and a 
very skilful hunter ; but he was worn out with age and 
rheumatism, and his temper had failed even faster than his 
bodily strength. He showed me a greater variety of game 
than I had ever seen before in so short a time ; nor did I 
ever before or after make so successful a hunt. But he 
was an exceedingly disagreeable companion on account of 
his surly, moody ways. I generally had to get up first, to 



Hunting the Grisly. 303 

kindle the fire and make ready breakfast, and he was very 
quarrelsome. Finally, during my absence from camp one 
day, while not very far from Red Rock pass, he found my 
whiskey flask, which I kept purely for emergencies, and 
drank all the contents. When I came back he was quite 
drunk. This was unbearable, and after some high words 
I left him, and struck off homeward through the woods on 
my own account. We had with us four pack and saddle 
horses ; and of these I took a very intelligent and gentle 
little bronco mare, which possessed the invaluable trait of 
always staying near camp, even when not hobbled. I was 
not hampered with much of an outfit, having only my 
buffalo sleeping-bag, a fur coat, and my washing kit, with 
a couple of spare pairs of socks and some handkerchiefs. 
A frying-pan, some salt, flour, baking-powder, a small 
chunk of salt pork, and a hatchet, made up a light pack, 
which, with the bedding, I fastened across the stock sad- 
dle by means of a rope and a spare packing cinch. My 
cartridges and knife were in my belt ; my compass and 
matches, as always, in my pocket. I walked, while the lit- 
tle mare followed almost like a dog, often without my 
having to hold the lariat which served as halter. 

The country was for the most part fairly open, as I 
kept near the foot-hills where glades and little prairies 
broke the pine forest. The trees were of small size. There 
was no regular trail, but the course was easy to keep, and 
I had no trouble of any kind save on the second day. 
That afternoon I was following a stream which at last 
"canyoned up," that is, sank to the bottom of a canyon- 
like ravine impassable for a horse. I started up a side 



304 The Wilderness Hunter. 

valley, intending to cross from its head coulies to those of 
another valley which would lead in below the canyon. 

However, I got enmeshed in the tangle of winding 
valleys at the foot of the steep mountains, and as dusk 
was coming on I halted and camped in a little open spot 
by the side of a small, noisy brook, with crystal water. 
The place was carpeted with soft, wet, green moss, dotted 
red with the kinnikinnic berries, and at its edge, under 
the trees where the ground was dry, I threw down the 
buffalo bed on the mat of sweet-smelling pine needles. 
Making camp took but a moment. I opened the pack, 
tossed the bedding on a smooth spot, knee-haltered the 
little mare, dragged up a few dry logs, and then strolled 
off, rifle on shoulder, through the frosty gloaming, to see 
if I could pick up a grouse for supper. 

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

At last, as I was thinking of turning towards camp, I 
stole up to the crest of one of the ridges, and looked over 
into the valley some sixty yards off. Immediately I caught 
the loom of some large, dark object ; and another glance 
showed me a big grisly walking slowly off with his head 
down. He was quartering to me, and I fired into his 
flank, the bullet, as I afterwards found, ranging forward 



Hunting the Grisly. 305 

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

I held true, aiming behind the shoulder, and my bullet 
shattered the point or lower end of his heart, taking out a 
big nick. Instantly the great bear turned with a harsh 
roar of fury and challenge, blowing the bloody foam from 
his mouth, so that I saw the gleam of his white fangs ; 
and then he charged straight at me, crashing and bound- 
ing through the laurel bushes, so that it was hard to aim. 
I waited until he came to a fallen tree, raking him as he 
topped it with a ball, which entered his chest and went 
through the cavity of his body, but he neither swerved 
nor flinched, and at the moment I did not know that I 
had struck him. He came steadily on, and in another 
second was almost upon me. I fired for his forehead, but 



20 



306 The Wilderness Hunter. 

my bullet went low, entering his open mouth, smashing 
his lower jaw and going into the neck. I leaped to one 
side almost as I pulled trigger ; and through the hanging 
smoke the first thing I saw was his paw as he made a 
vicious side blow at me. The rush of his charge carried 
him past. As he struck he lurched forward, leaving a 
pool of bright blood where his muzzle hit the ground ; 
but he recovered himself and made two or three jumps 
onwards, while I hurriedly jammed a couple of cartridges 
into the magazine, my rifle holding only four, all of which 
I had fired. Then he tried to pull up, but as he did so 
his muscles seemed suddenly to give way, his head 
drooped, and he rolled over and over like a shot rabbit. 
Each of my first three bullets had inflicted a mortal 
wound. 

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

This is the only instance in which I have been regu- 
larly charged by a grisly. On the whole, the danger of 
hunting these great bears has been much exaggerated. 
At the beginning of the present century, when white 
hunters first encountered the grisly, he was doubtless an 
exceedingly savage beast, prone to attack without provo- 



Hunting the Grisly. 307 

cation, and a redoubtable foe to persons armed with the 
clumsy, small-bore, muzzle-loading rifles of the day. But 
at present bitter experience has taught him caution. He 
has been hunted for sport, and hunted for his pelt, and 
hunted for the bounty, and hunted as a dangerous enemy 
to stock, until, save in the very wildest districts, he has 
learned to be more wary than a deer, and to avoid man's 
presence almost as carefully as the most timid kind of 
game. Except in rare cases he will not attack of his own 
accord, and, as a rule, even when wounded his object is 
escape rather than battle. 

Still, when fairly brought to bay, or when moved by a 
sudden fit of ungovernable anger, the grisly is beyond 
peradventure a very dangerous antagonist. The first 
shot, if taken at a bear a good distance off and previously 
unwounded and unharried, is not usually fraught with 
much danger, the startled animal being at the outset 
bent merely on flight. It is always hazardous, however, 
to track a wounded and worried grisly into thick cover, 
and the man who habitually follows and kills this chief of 
American game in dense timber, never abandoning the 
bloody trail whithersoever it leads, must show no small 
degree of skill and hardihood, and must not too closely 
count the risk to life or limb. Bears differ widely in tem- 
per, and occasionally one may be found who will not show 
fight, no matter how much he is bullied ; but, as a rule, a 
hunter must be cautious in meddling with a wounded ani- 
mal which has retreated into a dense thicket, and has 
been once or twice roused ; and such a beast, when it does 
turn, will usually charge again and again, and fight to the 



308 The Wilderness Hunter. 

last with unconquerable ferocity. The short distance at 
which the bear can be seen through the underbrush, the 
fury of his charge, and his tenacity of life make it neces- 
sary for the hunter on such occasions to have steady 
nerves and a fairly quick and accurate aim. It is always 
well to have two men in following a wounded bear under 
such conditions. This is not necessary, however, and a 
good hunter, rather than lose his quarry, will, under ordi- 
nary circumstances, follow and attack it no matter how 
tangled the fastness in which it has sought refuge ; but 
he must act warily and with the utmost caution and reso- 
lution, if he wishes to escape a terrible and probably fatal 
mauling. An experienced hunter is rarely rash, and never 
heedless ; he will not, when alone, follow a wounded bear 
into a thicket, if by the exercise of patience, skill, and 
knowledge of the game's habits he can avoid the neces- 
sity ; but it is idle to talk of the feat as something which 
ought in no case to be attempted. While danger ought 
never to be needlessly incurred, it is yet true that the 
keenest zest in sport comes from its presence, and from 
the consequent exercise of the qualities necessary to over- 
come it. The most thrilling moments of an Amerian 
hunter's life are those in which, with every sense on the 
alert, and with nerves strung to the highest point, he is 
following alone into the heart of its forest fastness the 
fresh and bloody footprints of an angered grisly ; and no 
other triumph of American hunting can compare with the 
victory to be thus gained. 

These big bears will not ordinarily charge from a dis- 
tance of over a hundred yards ; but there are exceptions 



Hunting the Grisly. 309 

to this rule. In the fall of 1890 my friend Archibald 
Rogers was hunting in Wyoming, south of the Yellow- 
stone Park, and killed seven bears. One, an old he, was 
out on a bare table-land, grubbing for roots, when he was 
spied. It was early in the afternoon, and the hunters, 
who were on a high mountain slope, examined him for 
some time through their powerful glasses before making 
him out to be a bear. They then stalked up to the edge 
of the wood which fringed the table-land on one side, but 
could get no nearer than about three hundred yards, the 
plains being barren of all cover. After waiting for a 
couple of hours Rogers risked the shot, in despair of get- 
ting nearer, and wounded the bear, though not very seri- 
ously. The animal made off, almost broadside to, and 
Rogers ran forward to intercept it. As soon as it saw 
him it turned and rushed straight for him, not heeding 
his second shot, and evidently bent on charging home. 
Rogers then waited until it was within twenty yards, and 
brained it with his third bullet. 

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



3* The Wilderness Hunter. 

very narrow-minded and opinionated often generalize 
just as rashly as beginners. One will portray all bears 
as very dangerous ; another will speak and act as if he 
deemed them of no more consequence than so many 
rabbits. I knew one old hunter who had killed a score 
without ever seeing one show fight. On the other hand, 
Dr. James C. Merrill, U. S. A., who has had about as 
much experience with bears as I have had, informs me 
that he has been charged with the utmost determination 
three times. In each case the attack was delivered before 
the bear was wounded or even shot at, the animal being 
roused by the approach of the hunters from his day bed, 
and charging headlong at them from a distance of twenty 
or thirty paces. All three bears were killed before they 
could do any damage. There was a very remarkable 
incident connected with the killing of one of them. It 
occurred in the northern spurs of the Bighorn range. Dr. 
Merrill, in company with an old hunter, had climbed 
down into a deep, narrow canyon. The bottom was 
threaded with well-beaten elk trails. While following 
one of these the two men turned a corner of the canyon 
and were instantly charged by an old she-grisly, so close 
that it was only by good luck that one of the hurried 
shots disabled her and caused her to tumble over a cut 
bank where she was easily finished. They found that 
she had been lying directly across the game trail, on a 
smooth well beaten patch of bare earth, which looked as 
if it had been dug up, refilled, and trampled down. Look- 
ing curiously at this patch they saw a bit of hide only 
partially covered at one end ; digging down they found 
the body of a well grown grisly cub. Its skull had been 



Hunting the Grisly. 31 1 

crushed, and the brains licked out, and there were signs of 
other injuries. The hunters pondered long over this 
strange discovery, and hazarded many guesses as to its 
meaning. At last they decided that probably the cub 
had been killed, and its brains eaten out, either by some 
old male-grisly or by a cougar, that the mother had re- 
turned and driven away the murderer, and that she had 
then buried the body and lain above it, waiting to wreak 
her vengeance on the first passer-by. 

Old Tazewell Wood}', during his thirty years' life as a 
hunter in the Rockies and on the great plains, killed very 
many grislies. He always exercised much caution in 
dealing with them ; and, as it happened, he was by some 
suitable tree in almost every case when he was charged. 
He would accordingly climb the tree (a practice of which 
I do not approve however) ; and the bear would look up 
at him and pass on without stopping. Once, when he 
was hunting in the mountains with a companion, the 
latter, who was down in a valley, while Woody was on 
the hill-side, shot at a bear. The first thing Woody knew 
the wounded grisly, running up-hill, was almost on 
him from behind. As he turned it seized his rifle in its 
jaws. He wrenched the rifle round, while the bear still 
gripped it, and pulled trigger, sending a bullet into its 
shoulder; whereupon it struck him with its paw, and 
knocked him over the rocks. By good luck he fell in a 
snow bank and was not hurt in the least. Meanwhile the 
bear went on and they never got it. 

Once he had an experience with a bear which showed 
a very curious mixture of rashness and cowardice. He 
and a companion were camped in a little tepee or wigwam, 



312 The Wilderness Hunter. 

with a bright fire in front of it, lighting up the night. 
There was an inch of snow on the ground. Just after 
they went to bed a grisly came close to camp. Their dog 
rushed out and they could hear it bark round in the dark- 
ness for nearly an hour ; then the bear drove it off and 
came right into camp. It went close to the fire, picking 
up the scraps of meat and bread, pulled a haunch of veni- 
son down from a tree, and passed and repassed in front 
of the tepee, paying no heed whatever to the two men, 
who crouched in the doorway talking to one another. 
Once it passed so close that Woody could almost have 
touched it. Finally his companion fired into it, and off 
it ran, badly wounded, without an attempt at retaliation. 
Next morning they followed its tracks in the snow, and 
found it a quarter of a mile away. It was near a pine 
and had buried itself under the loose earth, pine needles, 
and snow ; Woody's companion almost walked over it, 
and putting his rifle to its ear blew out its brains. 

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



Hunting the Grisly. 

she caught him, almost biting a piece out of the calf of his 
leg, pulled him down, bit and cuffed him two or three 
times, and then went on her way. 

The only time Woody ever saw a man killed by a bear 
was once when he had given a touch of variety to his 
life by shipping on a New Bedford whaler which had 
touched at one of the Puget Sound ports. The whaler 
went up to a part of Alaska where bears were very plen- 
tiful and bold. One day a couple of boats' crews landed ; 
and the men, who were armed only with an occasional 
harpoon or lance, scattered over the beach, one of them, 
a Frenchman, wading into the water after shell-fish. Sud- 
denly a bear emerged from some bushes and charged 
among the astonished sailors, who scattered in every di- 
rection ; but the bear, said Woody, "just had it in for 
that Frenchman," and went straight at him. Shrieking 
with terror he retreated up to his neck in the water ; but 
the bear plunged in after him, caught him, and disem- 
bowelled him. One of the Yankee mates then fired a 
bomb lance into the bear's hips, and the savage beast 
hobbled off into the dense cover of the low scrub, where 
the enraged sailor folk were unable to get at it. 

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

During the years I lived on the frontier I carrie in con- 
tact with many persons who had been severely mauled or 



3H The Wilderness Hunter, 

even crippled for life by grislies ; and a number of cases 
where they killed men outright were also brought under 
my ken. Generally these accidents, as was natural, oc- 
curred to hunters who had roused or wounded the game. 
A fighting bear sometimes uses his claws and sometimes 
his teeth. I have never known one to attempt to kill an 
antagonist by hugging, in spite of the popular belief to 
this effect ; though he will sometimes draw an enemy tow- 
ards him with his paws the better to reach him with his 
teeth, and to hold him so that he cannot escape from the 
bitting. Nor does the bear often advance on his hind legs to 
the attack ; though, if the man has come close to him in thick 
underbrush, or has stumbled on him in his lair unawares, 
he will often rise up in this fashion and strike a single 
blow. He will also rise in clinching with a man on horse- 
back. In 1882 a mounted Indian was killed in this mari- 
ner on one of the river bottoms some miles below where 
my ranch house now stands, not far from the junction of 
the Beaver and Little Missouri. The bear had been 
hunted into a thicket by a band of Indians, in whose com- 
pany my informant, a white squaw-man, with whom I af- 
terward did some trading, was travelling. One of them 
in the excitement of the pursuit rode across the end of the 
thicket ; as he did so the great beast sprang at him with 
wonderful quickness, rising on its hind legs, and knocking 
over the horse and rider with a single sweep of its terri- 
ble fore-paws. It then turned on the fallen man and tore 
him open, and though the other Indians came promptly 
to his rescue and slew his assailant, they were not in time 
to save their comrade's life. 



Hunting the Grisly. 3 J 5 

A bear is apt to rely mainly on his teeth or claws ac- 
cording to whether his efforts are directed primarily to 
killing his foe or to making good his own escape. In the 
latter event he trusts chiefly to his claws. If cornered, he 
of course makes a rush for freedom, and in that case he 
downs any man who is in his way with a sweep of his 
great paw, but passes on without stopping to bite him. If 
while sleeping or resting in thick brush some one suddenly 
stumbles on him close up he pursues the same course, less 
from anger than from fear, being surprised and startled 
Moreover, if attacked at close quarters by men and dogs 
he strikes right and left in defence. 

Sometimes what is called a charge is rather an effort to 
get away. In localities where he has been hunted, a bear, 
like every other kind of game, is always on the look-out 
for an attack, and is prepared at any moment for immedi- 
ate flight. He seems ever to have in his mind, whether 
feeding, sunning himself, or merely roaming around, the 
direction usually towards the thickest cover or most 
broken ground in which he intends to run if molested. 
When shot at he instantly starts towards this place ; or he 
may be so confused that he simply runs he knows not 
whither ; and in either event he may take a line that leads 
almost directly to or by the hunter, although he had at 
first no thought of charging. In such a case he usually 
strikes a single knock-down blow and gallops on without 
halting, though that one blow may have taken life. If 
the claws are long and fairly sharp (as in early spring, or 
even in the fall, if the animal has been working over soft 
ground) they add immensely to the effect of the blow, for 



316 The Wilderness Hunter. 

they cut like blunt axes. Often, however, late in the sea- 
son, and if the ground has been dry and hard, or rocky, 
the claws are worn down nearly to the quick, and the blow 
is then given mainly with the under side of the paw ; 
although even under this disadvantage a thump from a 
big bear will down a horse or smash in a man's breast. 
The hunter Hofer once lost a horse in this manner. He 
shot at and wounded a bear which rushed off, as ill luck 
would have it, past the place where his horse was picketed ; 
probably more in fright than in anger it struck the poor 
beast a blow which, in the end, proved mortal. 

If a bear means mischief and charges not to escape but 
to do damage, its aim is to grapple with or throw down its 
foe and bite him to death. The charge is made at a gal- 
lop, the animal sometimes coming on silently, with the 
mouth shut, and sometimes with the jaws open, the lips 
drawn back and teeth showing, uttering at the same time 
a succession of roars or of savage rasping snarls. Certain 
bears charge without any bluster and perfectly straight ; 
while others first threaten and bully, and even when 
charging stop to growl, shake the head, and bite at a bush 
or knock holes in the ground with their fore-paws. Again, 
some of them charge home with a ferocious resolution 
which their extreme tenacity of life renders especially 
dangerous ; while others can be turned or driven back even 
by a shot which is not mortal. They show the same vari- 
ability in their behavior when wounded. Often a big 
bear, especially if charging, will receive a bullet in perfect 
silence, without flinching or seeming to pay any heed to it ; 
while another will cry out and tumble about, and if char- 



Hunting the Grisly. 3 1 ? 

ging, even though it may not abandon the attack, will 
pause for a moment to whine or bite at the wound. 

Sometimes a single bite causes death. One of the 
most successful bear hunters I ever knew, an old fellow 
whose real name I never heard as he was always called 
Old Ike, was killed in this way in the spring or early sum- 
mer of 1886 on one of the head-waters of the Salmon. He 
was a very good shot, had killed nearly a hundred bears with 
the rifle, and, although often charged, had never met with 
any accident, so that he had grown somewhat careless. On 
the day in question he had met a couple of mining prospec- 
tors and was travelling with them, when a grisly crossed 
his path. The old hunter immediately ran after it, rapidly 
gaining, as the bear did not hurry when it saw itself pur- 
sued, but slouched slowly forwards, occasionally turning 
its head to grin and growl. It soon went into a dense 
grove of young spruce, and as the hunter reached the edge 
it charged fiercely out. He fired one hasty shot, evidently 
wounding the animal, but not seriously enough to stop or 
cripple it ; and as his two companions ran forward they 
saw the bear seize him with its wide-spread jaws, forcing 
him to the ground. They shouted and fired, and the beast 
abandoned the fallen man on the instant and sullenly re- 
treated into the spruce thicket, whither they dared not 
follow it. Their friend was at his last gasp ; for the whole 
side of the chest had been crushed in by the one bite, the 
lungs showing between the rent ribs. 

Very often, however, a bear does not kill a man by 
one bite, but after throwing him lies on him, biting him to 
death. Usually, if no assistance is at hand, such a man is 



3 l8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

doomed ; although if he pretends to be dead, and has the 
nerve to lie quiet under very rough treatment, it is just 
possible that the bear may leave him alive, perhaps after 
half burying what it believes to be the body. In a very 
few exceptional instances men of extraordinary prowess 
with the knife have succeeded in beating off a bear, and 
even in mortally wounding it, but in most cases a single- 
handed struggle, at close quarters, with a grisly bent on 
mischief, means death. 

Occasionally the bear, although vicious, is also fright- 
ened, and passes on after giving one or two bites ; and 
frequently a man who is knocked down is rescued by his 
friends before he is killed, the big beast mayhap using 
his weapons with clumsiness. So a bear may kill a foe 
with a single blow of its mighty fore-arm, either crushing 
in the head or chest by sheer force of sinew, or else tear- 
ing open the body with its formidable claws ; and so on 
the other hand he may, and often does, merely disfigure 
or maim the foe by a hurried stroke. Hence it is com- 
mon to see men who have escaped the clutches of a grisly, 
but only at the cost of features marred beyond recogni- 
tion, or a body rendered almost helpless for life. Almost 
every old resident of western Montana or northern Idaho 
has known two or three unfortunates who have suffered 
in this manner. I have myself met one such man in 
Helena, and another in Missoula ; both were living at 
least as late as 1889, the date at which I last saw them. 
One had been partially scalped by a bear's teeth ; the 
animal was very old and so the fangs did not enter the 
skull. The other had been bitten across the face, and the 



Hunting the Grisly. 

wounds never entirely healed, so that his disfigured visage 
was hideous to behold. 

Most of these accidents occur in following a wounded 
or worried bear into thick cover ; and under such circum- 
stances an animal apparently hopelessly disabled, or in 
the death throes, may with a last effort kill one or more 
of its assailants. In 1874 my wife's uncle, Captain Alex- 
ander Moore, U. S. A., and my friend Captain Bates, 
with some men of the 2d and 3d Cavalry, were scout- 
ing in Wyoming, near the Freezeout Mountains. One 
morning they roused a bear in the open prairie and fol- 
lowed it at full speed as it ran towards a small creek. At 
one spot in the creek beavers had built a dam, and as 
usual in such places there was a thick growth of bushes 
and willow saplings. Just as the bear reached the edge 
of this little jungle it was struck by several balls, both of 
its fore-legs being broken. Nevertheless, it managed to 
shove itself forward on its hind-legs, and partly rolled, 
partly pushed itself into the thicket, the bushes though 
low being so dense that its body was at once completely 
hidden. The thicket was a mere patch of brush, not 
twenty yards across in any direction. The leading 
troopers reached the edge almost as the bear tumbled in. 
One of them, a tall and powerful man named Miller, in- 
stantly dismounted and prepared to force his way in 
among the dwarfed willows, which were but breast-high. 
Among the men who had ridden up were Moore and 
Bates, and also the two famous scouts, Buffalo Bill long 
a companion of Captain Moore, and California Joe, Cus- 
ter's faithful follower. California Joe had spent almost 



320 The Wilderness Hunter. 

all his life on the plains and in the mountains, as a 
hunter and Indian fighter ; and when he saw the trooper 
about to rush into the thicket he called out to him not to 
do so, warning him of the danger. But the man was a 
very reckless fellow and he answered by jeering at the 
old hunter for his over-caution in being afraid of a crip- 
pled bear. California Joe made no further effort to dis- 
suade him, remarking quietly : " Very well, sonny, go in ; 
it's your own affair." Miller then leaped off the bank on 
which they stood and strode into the thicket, holding his 
rifle at the port. Hardly had he taken three steps when 
the bear rose in front of him, roaring with rage and pain. 
It was so close that the man had no chance to fire. Its 
fore-arms hung useless and as it reared unsteadily on its 
hind-legs, lunging forward at him, he seized it by the ears 
and strove to hold it back. His strength was very great, 
and he actually kept the huge head from his face and 
braced himself so that he was not overthrown ; but the 
bear twisted its muzzle from side to side, biting and tear- 
ing the man's arms and shoulders. Another soldier 
jumping down slew the beast with a single bullet, and 
rescued his comrade ; but though alive he was too badly 
hurt to recover and died after reaching the hospital. Buf- 
falo Bill was given the bear-skin, and I believe has it 
now. 

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



Hunting the Grisly, 3 21 

It occasionally happens that a cunning old grisly 
will lie so close that the hunter almost steps on him ; and 
he then rises suddenly with a loud, coughing growl and 
strikes down or seizes the man before the latter can fire 
off his rifle. More rarely a bear which is both vicious 
and crafty deliberately permits the hunter to approach 
fairly near to, or perhaps pass by, its hiding-place, and 
then suddenly charges him with such rapidity that he 
has barely time for the most hurried shot. The danger 
in such a case is of course great. 

Ordinarily, however, even in the brush, the bear's 
object is to slink away, not to fight, and very many are 
killed even under the most unfavorable circumstances 
without accident. If an unwounded bear thinks itself un- 
observed it is not apt to attack ; and in thick cover it is 
really astonishing to see how one of these large animals 
can hide, and how closely it will lie when there is danger. 
About twelve miles below my ranch there are some large 
river bottoms and creek bottoms covered with a matted 
mass of cottonwood, box-alders, bullberry bushes, rose- 
bushes, ash, wild plums, and other bushes. These bot- 
toms have harbored bears ever since I first saw them ; 
but though, often in company with a large party, I have 
repeatedly beaten through them, and though we must at 
times have been very near indeed to the game, we never 
so much as heard it run. 

When bears are shot, as they usually must be, in open 
timber or on the bare mountain, the risk is very much 
less. Hundreds may thus be killed with comparatively 
little danger ; yet even under these circumstances they 



322 The Wilderness Hunter. 

will often charge, and sometimes make their charge good. 
The spice of danger, especially to a man armed with a 
good repeating rifle, is only enough to add zest to the 
chase, and the chief triumph is in outwitting the wary 
quarry and getting within range. Ordinarily the only 
excitement is in the stalk, the bear doing nothing more 
than keep a keen look-out and manifest the utmost anxiety 
to get away. As is but natural, accidents occasionally 
occur ; yet they are usually due more to some failure in 
man or weapon than to the prowess of the bear. A good 
hunter whom I once knew, at a time when he was living 
in Butte, received fatal injuries from a bear he attacked 
in open woodland. The beast charged after the first 
shot, but slackened its pace on coming almost up to the 
man. The latter's gun jammed, and as he was endeavor- 
ing to work it he kept stepping slowly back, facing the 
bear which followed a few yards distant, snarling and 
threatening. Unfortunately while thus walking back- 
wards the man struck a dead log and fell over it, where- 
upon the beast instantly sprang on him and mortally 
wounded him before help arrived. 

On rare occasions men who are not at the time hunt- 
ing it fall victims to the grisly. This is usually because 
they stumble on it unawares and the animal attacks them 
more in fear than in anger. One such case, resulting 
fatally, occurred near my own ranch. The man walked 
almost over a bear while crossing a little point of brush, 
in a bend of the river, and was brained with a single blow 
of the paw. In another instance which came to my knowl- 
edge the man escaped with a shaking up, and without 



Hunting the Grisly. 323 

even a fright. His name was Perkins, and he was out 
gathering huckleberries in the woods on a mountain side 
near Pend'Oreille Lake. Suddenly he was sent flying 
head over heels, by a blow which completely knocked the 
breath out of his body ; and so instantaneous was the 
whole affair that all he could ever recollect about it was 
getting a vague glimpse of the bear just as he was bowled 
over. When he came to he found himself lying some 
distance down the hill-side, much shaken, and without his 
berry pail, which had rolled a hundred yards below him, 
but not otherwise the worse for his misadventure ; while 
the footprints showed that the bear, after delivering the 
single hurried stroke at the unwitting disturber of its day- 
dreams, had run off up-hill as fast as it was able. 

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

In 1882 Mr. Caspar W. Whitney, now of New York, 
met with a very singular adventure with a she-bear and 
cub. He was in Harvard when I was, but left it and, like 
a good many other Harvard men of that time, took to 
cow-punching in the West. He went on a ranch in Rio 
Arriba County, New Mexico, and was a keen hunter, 



3 2 4 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

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



Hunting the Grisly. 3 2 5 

Yet the very next spring the cowboys with my own 
wagon on the Little Missouri round-up killed a mother 
bear which made but little more fight than a coyote. She 
had two cubs, and was surprised in the early morning, on 
the prairie far from cover. There were eight or ten cow- 
boys together at the time, just starting off on a long circle, 
and of course they all got down their ropes in a second, 
and putting spurs to their fiery little horses started toward 
the bears at a run, shouting and swinging their loops 
round their heads. For a moment the old she tried to 
bluster and made a half-hearted threat of charging ; but 
her courage failed before the rapid onslaught of her yell- 
ing, rope-swinging assailants ; and she took to her heels 
and galloped off, leaving the cubs to shift for themselves. 
The cowboys were close behind, however, and after half 
a mile's run she bolted into a shallow cave or hole in the 
side of a butte, where she stayed cowering and growling, 
until one of the men leaped off his horse, ran up to the 
edge of the hole, and killed her with a single bullet from 
his revolver, fired so close that the powder burned her 
hair. The unfortunate cubs were roped, and then so 
dragged about that they were speedily killed instead of 
being brought alive to camp, as ought to have been 
done. 

In the cases mentioned above the grisly attacked only 
after having been itself assailed, or because it feared an 
assault, for itself or for its young. In the old days, how- 
ever, it may almost be said that a grisly was more apt to 
attack than to flee. Lewis and Clarke and the early 
explorers who immediately succeeded them, as well as the 



3 26 The Wilderness Hunter. 

first hunters and trappers, the " Rocky Mountain men " of 
the early decades of the present century, were repeatedly 
assailed in this manner ; and not a few of the bear hunters 
of that period found that it was unnecessary to take much 
trouble about approaching their quarry, as the grisly was 
usually prompt to accept the challenge and to advance of 
its own accord, as soon as it discovered the foe. All this 
is changed now. Yet even at the present day an occa- 
sional vicious old bear may be found, in some far off 
and little trod fastness, which still keeps up the former 
habit of its kind. All old hunters have tales of this sort 
to relate, the prowess, cunning, strength, and ferocity of 
the grisly being favorite topics for camp-fire talk through- 
out the Rockies ; but in most cases it is not safe to accept 
these stories without careful sifting. 

Still, it is just as unsafe to reject them all. One of 
my own cowboys was once attacked by a grisly, seem- 
ingly in pure wantonness. He was riding up a creek 
bottom, and had just passed a clump of rose and bull- 
berry bushes when his horse gave such a leap as almost 
to unseat him, and then darted madly forward. Turning 
round in the saddle to his utter astonishment he saw a 
large bear galloping after him, at the horse's heels. For 
a few jumps the race was close, then the horse drew away 
and the bear wheeled and went into a thicket of wild 
plums. The amazed and indignant cowboy, as soon as 
he could rein in his steed, drew his revolver and rode back 
to and around the thicket, endeavoring to provoke his 
late pursuer to come out and try conclusions on more 
equal terms ; but prudent Ephraim had apparently re- 



Hunting the Grisly. 327 

pented of his freak of ferocious bravado, and declined 
to leave the secure shelter of the jungle. 

Other attacks are of a much more explicable nature. 
Mr. Huffman, the photographer, of Miles City, informed 
me that once when butchering some slaughtered elk he 
was charged twice by a she-bear and two well-grown cubs. 
This was a piece of sheer bullying, undertaken solely with 
the purpose of driving away the man and feasting on the 
carcasses ; for in each charge the three bears, after 
advancing with much blustering, roaring, and growling, 
halted just before coming to close quarters. In another 
instance a gentleman I once knew, a Mr. S. Carr, was 
charged by a grisly from mere ill temper at being dis- 
turbed at meal-time. The man was riding up a valley ; 
and the bear was at an elk carcass, near a clump of firs. 
As soon as it became aware of the approach of the horse- 
man, while he was yet over a hundred yards distant, it 
jumped on the carcass, looked at him a moment, and then 
ran straight for him. There was no particular reason 
why it should have charged, for it was fat and in good 
trim, though when killed its head showed . scars made by 
the teeth of rival grislies. Apparently it had been living 
so well, principally on flesh, that it had become quarrel- 
some ; and perhaps its not over sweet disposition had 
been soured by combats with others of its own kind. In 
yet another case, a grisly charged with even less excuse. 
An old trapper, from whom I occasionally bought fur, 
was toiling up a mountain pass when he spied a big bear 
sitting on his haunches on the hill-side above. The 
trapper shouted and waved his cap ; whereupon, to his 



328 The Wilderness Hunter. 

amazement, the bear uttered a loud " wough " and charged 
straight down on him only to fall a victim to misplaced 
boldness. 

I am even inclined to think that there have been 
wholly exceptional occasions when a grisly has attacked a 
man with the deliberate purpose of making a meal of 
him ; when, in other words, it has started on the career 
of a man-eater. At least, on any other theory I find it 
difficult to account for an attack which once came to my 
knowledge. I was at Sand Point, on Pend'Oreille Lake, 
and met some French and Meti trappers, then in town 
with their bales of beaver, otter, and sable. One of 
them, who gave his name as Baptiste Lamoche, had his 
head twisted over to one side, the result of the bite of a 
bear. When the accident occurred he was out on a trap- 
ping trip with two companions. They had pitched camp 
right on the shore of a cove in a little lake, and his com- 
rades were off fishing in a dugout or pirogue. He himself 
was sitting near the shore, by a little lean-to, watching 
some beaver meat which was sizzling over the dying 
embers. Suddenly, and without warning, a great bear, 
which had crept silently up beneath the shadows of the 
tall evergreens, rushed at him, with a guttural roar, and 
seized him before he could rise to his feet. It grasped 
him with its jaws at the junction of the neck and shoulder, 
making the teeth meet through bone, sinew, and muscle ; 
and turning, racked off towards the forest, dragging with 
it the helpless and paralyzed victim. Luckily the two men 
in the canoe had just paddled round the point, in sight 
of, and close to, camp. The man in the bow, seeing the 



Hunting the Grisly. 329 

plight of their comrade, seized his rifle and fired at the 
bear. The bullet went through the beast's lungs, and it 
forthwith dropped its prey, and running off some two hun- 
dred yards, lay down on its side and died. The rescued 
man recovered full health and strength, but never again 
carried his head straight. 

Old hunters and mountain-men tell many stories, not 
only of malicious grislies thus attacking men in camp, but 
also of their even dogging the footsteps of some solitary 
hunter and killing him when the favorable opportunity 
occurs. Most of these tales are mere fables ; but it is 
possible that in altogether exceptional instances they rest 
on a foundation of fact. One old hunter whom I knew 
told me such a story. He was a truthful old fellow, and 
there was no doubt that he believed what he said, and 
that his companion was actually killed by a bear ; but it is 
probable that he was mistaken in reading the signs of his 
comrade's fate, and that the latter was not dogged by the 
bear at all, but stumbled on him and was slain in the sur- 
prise of the moment. 

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



33 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

In the other case the cowboy, a Texan, was mounted 
on a good cutting pony, a spirited, handy, agile little ani- 
mal, but excitable, and with a habit of dancing, which ren- 
dered it difficult to shoot from its back. The man was 
with the round-up wagon, and had been sent off by him- 
self to make a circle through some low, barren buttes, 
where it was not thought more than a few head of stock 



Hunting the Grisly. 33 1 

would be found. On rounding the corner of a small 
washout he almost ran over a bear which was feeding on 
the carcass of a steer that had died in an alkali hole. 
After a moment of stunned surprise the bear hurled him-_ 
self at the intruder with furious impetuosity ; while the 
cowboy, wheeling his horse on its haunches and dashing 
in the spurs, carried it just clear of his assailant's headlong 
rush. After a few springs he reined in and once more 
wheeled half round, having drawn his revolver, only to 
find the bear again charging and almost on him. This 
time he fired into it, near the joining of the neck and 
shoulder, the bullet going downwards into the chest hol- 
low ; and again by a quick dash to one side he just avoided 
the rush of the beast and the sweep of its mighty fore- 
paw. The bear then halted for a minute, and he rode 
close by it at a run, firing a couple of shots, which brought 
on another resolute charge. The ground was somewhat 
rugged and broken, but his pony was as quick on its feet 
as a cat, and never stumbled, even when going at full speed 
to avoid the bear's first mad rushes. It speedily became 
so excited, however, as to render it almost impossible for 
the rider to take aim. Sometimes he would come up close 
to the bear and wait for it to charge, which it would do, 
first at a trot, or rather rack, and then at a lumbering but 
swift gallop ; and he would fire one or two shots before 
being forced to run. At other times, if the bear stood 
still in a good place, he would run by it, firing as he rode. 
He spent many cartridges, and though most of them were 
wasted, occasionally a bullet went home. The bear fought 
with the most savage courage, champing its bloody jaws, 



33 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

roaring with rage, and looking the very incarnation of 
evil fury. For some minutes it made no effort to flee, 
either charging or standing at bay. Then it began to 
move slowly towards a patch of ash and wild plums in the 
head of a coulie, some distance off. Its pursuer rode 
after it, and when close enough would push by it and fire, 
while the bear would spin quickly round and charge as 
fiercely as ever, though evidently beginning to grow weak. 
At last, when still a couple of hundred yards from cover 
the man found he had used up all his cartridges, and then 
merely followed at a safe distance. The bear no longer 
paid heed to him, but walked slowly forwards, swaying its 
great head from side to side, while the blood streamed 
from between its half-opened jaws. On reaching the cover 
he could tell by the waving of the bushes that it walked 
to the middle and then halted. A few minutes after- 
wards some of the other cowboys rode up, having been 
attracted by the incessant firing. They surrounded the 
thicket, firing and throwing stones into the bushes. 
Finally, as nothing moved, they ventured in and found 
the indomitable grisly warrior lying dead. 

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



Hunting the Grisly. 333 

matter to catch him ; and his frequent charges scatter 
his tormentors in every direction while the horses become 
wild with fright over the roaring, bristling beast for 
horses seem to dread a bear more than any other animal. 
If the bear cannot reach cover, however, his fate is sealed. 
Sooner or later, the noose tightens over one leg, or per- 
chance over the neck and fore-paw, and as the rope 
straightens with a " pluck," the horse braces itself desper- 
ately and the bear tumbles over. Whether he regains 
his feet or not the cowboy keeps the rope taut ; soon 
another noose tightens over a leg, and the bear is speedily 
rendered helpless. 

I have known of these feats being performed several 
times in northern Wyoming, although never in the im- 
mediate neighborhood of my ranch. Mr. Archibald 
Roger's cowhands have in this manner caught several 
bears, on or near his ranch on the Gray Bull, which flows 
into the Bighorn ; and those of Mr. G. B. Grinnell have 
also occasionally done so. Any set of moderately good 
ropers and riders, who are accustomed to back one 
another up and act together, can accomplish the feat if 
they have smooth ground and plenty of room. It is, 
however, indeed a feat of skill and daring for a single 
man ; and yet I have known of more than one instance 
in which it has been accomplished by some reckless 
knight of the rope and the saddle. One such occurred in 
1887 on the Flathead Reservation, the hero being a half- 
breed ; and another in 1890 at the mouth of the Bighorn, 
where a cowboy roped, bound, and killed a large bear 
single-handed. 



334 The Wilderness Hunter. 

My friend General "Red" Jackson, of Bellemeade, 
in the pleasant mid-county of Tennessee, once did a feat 
which casts into the shade even the feats of the men of 
the lariat. General Jackson, who afterwards became one 
of the ablest and most renowned of the Confederate 
cavalry leaders, was at the time a young officer in the 
Mounted Rifle Regiment, now known as the 3d United 
States Cavalry. It was some years before the Civil War, 
and the regiment was on duty in the Southwest, then the 
debatable land of Comanche and Apache. While on a 
scout after hostile Indians, the troops in their march 
roused a large grisly which sped off across the plain in 
front of them. Strict orders had been issued against 
firing at game, because of the nearness of the Indians. 
Young Jackson was a man of great strength, a keen 
swordsman, who always kept the finest edge on his blade, 
and he was on a swift and mettled Kentucky horse, which 
luckily had but one eye. Riding at full speed he soon 
overtook the quarry. As the horse hoofs sounded nearer, 
the grim bear ceased its flight, and whirling round stood 
at bay, raising itself on its hind-legs and threatening its 
pursuer with bared fangs and spread claws. Carefully 
riding his horse so that its blind side should be towards 
the monster, the cavalryman swept by at a run, handling 
his steed with such daring skill that he just cleared the 
blow of the dreaded fore-paw, while with one mighty 
sabre stroke he cleft the bear's skull, slaying the grinning 
beast as it stood upright. 




CHAPTER XVI. 

THE COUGAR. 

NO animal of the chase is so difficult to kill by fair 
still-hunting as the cougar that beast of many 
names, known in the East as panther and painter, 
in the West as mountain lion, in the Southwest as Mexi- 
can lion, and in the southern continent as lion and puma. 
Without hounds its pursuit is so uncertain that from 
the still-hunter's standpoint it hardly deserves to rank as 
game at all though, by the way, it is itself a more skil- 
ful still-hunter than any human rival. It prefers to move 
abroad by night or at dusk ; and in the daytime usually 
lies hid in some cave or tangled thicket where it is abso- 
lutely impossible even to stumble on it by chance. It is 
a beast of stealth and rapine ; its great, velvet paws, never 
make a sound, and it is always on the watch whether for 
prey or for enemies, while it rarely leaves shelter even 
when it thinks itself safe. Its soft, leisurely movements 
and uniformity of color make it difficult to discover at 
best, and its extreme watchfulness helps it ; but it is 
the cougar's reluctance to leave cover at any time, its 
habit of slinking off through the brush, instead of running 

335 



33 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

in the open, when startled, and the way in which it lies 
motionless in its lair even when a man is within twenty 
yards, that render it so difficult to still-hunt. 

In fact it is next to impossible with any hope of suc- 
cess regularly to hunt the cougar without dogs or bait. 
Most cougars that are killed by still-hunters are shot by 
accident while the man is after other game. This has been 
my own experience. Although not common, cougars are 
found near my ranch, where the ground is peculiarly fav- 
orable for the solitary rifleman ; and for ten years I have, 
off and on, devoted a day or two to their pursuit ; but 
never successfully. One December a large cougar took 
up his abode on a densely wooded bottom two miles above 
the ranch house. I did not discover his existence until I 
went there one evening to kill a deer, and found that he 
had driven all the deer off the bottom, having killed sev- 
eral, as well as a young heifer. Snow was falling at the 
time, but the storm was evidently almost over ; the leaves 
were all off the trees and bushes ; and I felt that next day 
there would be such a chance to follow the cougar as fate 
rarely offered. In the morning by dawn I was at the bot- 
tom, and speedily found his trail. Following it I came 
across his bed, among some cedars in a dark, steep gorge, 
where the buttes bordered the bottom. He had evidently 
just left it, and I followed his tracks all day. But I never 
caught a glimpse of him, and late in the afternoon I 
trudged wearily homewards. When I went out next 
morning I found that as soon as I abandoned the chase, 
my quarry, according to the uncanny habit sometimes dis- 
played by his kind, coolly turned likewise, and deliberately 



The Cougar. 337 

dogged my footsteps to within a mile of the ranch house ; 
his round footprints being as clear as writing in the snow. 

This was the best chance of the kind that I ever had ; 
but again and again I have found fresh signs of cougar r 
such as a lair which they had just left, game they had 
killed, or one of our venison caches which they had robbed, 
and have hunted for them all day without success. My 
failures were doubtless due in part to various shortcomings 
in hunter' s-craft on my own part ; but equally without 
doubt they were mainly due to the quarry's wariness and 
its sneaking ways. 

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

On the other occasion luck befriended me. I was with 
a pack train in the Rockies, and one day, feeling lazy, and 
as we had no meat in camp, I determined to try for deer 
by lying in wait beside a recently travelled game trail. 
The spot I chose was a steep, pine-clad slqpe leading down 
to a little mountain lake. I hid behind a breastwork of 
rotten logs, with a few young evergreens in front an ex- 
cellent ambush. A broad game trail slanted down the hill 
directly past me. I lay perfectly quiet for about an hour, 
listening to the murmur of the pine forests, and the occa- 
sional call of a jay or woodpecker, and gazing eagerly 
along the trail in the waning light of the late afternoon. 
Suddenly, without noise or warning of any kind, a cougar 
stood in the trail before me. The unlocked for and un- 



338 The Wilderness Hunter. 

heralded approach of the beast was fairly ghost-like. With 
its head lower than its shoulders, and its long tail twitch- 
ing, it slouched down the path, treading as softly as a kit- 
ten. I waited until it had passed and then fired into the 
short ribs, the bullet ranging forward. Throwing its tail 
up in the air, and giving a bound, the cougar galloped off 
over a slight ridge. But it did not go far ; within a hun- 
dred yards I found it stretched on its side, its jaws still 
working convulsively. 

The true way to hunt the cougar is to follow it with 
dogs. If the chase is conducted in this fashion, it is very 
exciting, and resembles on a larger scale the ordinary 
method of hunting the wildcat or small lynx, as practised 
by the sport-loving planters of the southern States. With 
a very little training, hounds readily and eagerly pursue 
the cougar, showing in this kind of chase none of the fear 
and disgust they are so prone to exhibit when put on the 
trail of the certainly no more dangerous wolf. The cougar, 
when the hounds are on its track, at first runs, but when 
hard-pressed takes to a tree, or possibly comes to bay in 
thick cover. Its attention is then so taken up with the 
hounds that it can usually be approached and shot without 
much difficulty ; though some cougars break bay when the 
hunters come near, and again make off, when they can only 
be stopped by many large and fierce hounds. Hounds 
are often killed in these fights ; and if hungry a cougar 
will pounce on any dog for food ; yet, as I have elsewhere 
related, I know of one instance in which a small pack of 
big, savage hounds killed a cougar unassisted. General 
Wade Hampton, who with horse and hound has been the 




HEAD OF COUGAR. 



SHOT SEPTEMBER, 1889. 



The Cougar. 339 

mightiest hunter America has ever seen, informs me that 
he has killed with his pack some sixteen cougars, during 
the fifty years he has hunted in South Carolina and Mis- 
sissippi. I believe they were all killed in the latter State. 
General Hampton's hunting has been chiefly for bear and 
deer, though his pack also follows the lynx and the gray 
fox ; and, of course, if good fortune throws either a wolf 
or a cougar in his way it is followed as the game of all 
others. All the cougars he killed were either treed or 
brought to bay in a canebrake by the hounds ; and they 
often handled the pack very roughly in the death struggle. 
He found them much more dangerous antagonists than 
the black bear when assailed with the hunting knife, a 
weapon of which he was very fond. However, if his pack 
had held a few very large, savage dogs, put in purely for 
fighting when the quarry was at bay, I think the danger 
would have been minimized. 

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



340 The Wilderness Hunter. 

though it managed to catch one dog in its jaws and bite 
him severely. 

A wholly exceptional instance of the kind was related 
to me by my old hunting friend Willis. In his youth, in 
southwest Missouri, he knew a half-witted " poor white" 
who was very fond of hunting coons. He hunted at 
night, armed with an axe, and accompanied by his dog 
Penny, a large, savage, half-starved cur. One dark night 
the dog treed an animal which he could not see ; so he 
cut down the tree, and immediately Penny jumped in and 
grabbed the beast. The man sung out " Hold on, Penny," 
seeing that the dog had seized some large, wild animal ; the 
next moment the brute knocked the dog endways, and at 
the same instant the man split open its head with the axe. 
Great was his astonishment, and greater still the astonish- 
ment of the neighbors next day when it was found that 
he had actually killed a cougar. These great cats often 
take to trees in a perfectly foolish manner. My friend, 
the hunter Woody, in all his thirty years' experience in 
the wilds never killed but one cougar. He was lying out 
in camp with two dogs at the time ; it was about mid- 
night, the fire was out, and the night was pitch-black. He 
was roused by the furious barking of his two dogs, who 
had charged into the gloom, and were apparently baying 
at something in a tree close by. He kindled the fire, and 
to his astonishment found the thing in the tree to be a 
cougar. Coming close underneath he shot it with his 
revolver ; thereupon it leaped down, ran some forty 
yards, and climbed up another tree, where it died among 
the branches. 



The Cougar. 341 

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

The cougar sometimes stalks its prey, and sometimes 
lies in wait for it beside a game-trail or drinking pool 
very rarely indeed does it crouch on the limb of a tree. 
When excited by the presence of game it is sometimes 
very bold. Willis once fired at some bighorn sheep, on a 
steep mountain-side ; he missed, and immediately after his 
shot, a cougar made a dash into the midst of the flying 
band, in hopes to secure a victim. The cougar roams 
over long distances, and often changes its hunting ground, 
perhaps remaining in one place two or three months, 
until the game is exhausted, and then shifting to another. 
When it does not lie in wait it usually spends most of the 
night, winter and summer, in prowling restlessly around 
the places where it thinks it may come across prey, and it 
will patiently follow an animal's trail. There is no kind 
of game, save the full-grown grisly and buffalo, which it 
does not at times assail and master. It readily snaps up 
grisly cubs or buffalo calves ; and in at least one instance, 
I have known of it springing on, slaying, and eating a full- 
grown wolf. I presume the latter was taken by surprise. 
On the other hand, the cougar itself has to fear the big 
timber wolves when maddened by the winter hunger and 
gathered in small parties ; while a large grisly would of 
course be an overmatch for it twice over, though its 
superior agility puts it beyond the grisly's power to harm 



342 The Wilderness Hunter. 

it, unless by some unlucky chance taken in a cave. Nor 
could a cougar overcome a bull moose, or a bull elk either, 
if the latter' s horns were grown, save by taking it una- 
wares. By choice, with such big game, its victims are the 
cows and young. The prong-horn rarely comes within 
reach of its spring ; but it is the dreaded enemy of big- 
horn, white goat, and every kind of deer, while it also 
preys on all the smaller beasts, such as foxes, coons, rab- 
bits, beavers, and even gophers, rats, and mice. It some- 
times makes a thorny meal of the porcupine, and if 
sufficiently hungry attacks and eats its smaller cousin the 
lynx. It is not a brave animal ; nor does it run its prey 
down in open chase. It always makes its attacks by 
stealth, and if possible from behind, and relies on two or 
three tremendous springs to bring it on the doomed crea- 
ture's back. It uses its claws as well as its teeth in hold- 
ing and killing the prey. If possible it always seizes a 
large animal by the throat, whereas the wolf's point of 
attack is more often the haunch or flank. Small deer or 
sheep it will often knock over and kill, merely using its 
big paws ; sometimes it breaks their necks. It has a small 
head compared to the jaguar, and its bite is much less 
dangerous. Hence, as compared to its larger and bolder 
relative, it places more trust in its claws and less in its teeth. 
Though the cougar prefers woodland, it is not neces- 
sarily a beast of the dense forests only ; for it is found in 
all the plains country, living in the scanty timber belts 
which fringe the streams, or among the patches of brush 
in the Bad Lands. The persecution of hunters however 
always tends to drive it into the most thickly wooded and 



The Cougar. 343 

broken fastnesses of the mountains. The she has from 
one to three kittens, brought forth in a cave or a secluded 
lair, under a dead log or in very thick brush. It is said 
that the old he's kill the small male kittens when they get 
a chance. They certainly at times during the breeding 
season fight desperately among themselves. Cougars are 
very solitary beasts ; it is rare to see more than one at a 
time, and then only a mother and young, or a mated male 
and female. While she has kittens, the mother is doubly 
destructive to game. The young begin to kill for them- 
selves very early. The first fall, after they are born, they 
attack large game, and from ignorance are bolder in 
making their attacks than their parents ; but they are 
clumsy and often let the prey escape. Like all cats, 
cougars are comparatively easy to trap, much more so than 
beasts of the dog kind, such as the fox and wolf. 

They are silent animals ; but old hunters say that at 
mating time the males call loudly, while the females have 
a very distinct answer. They are also sometimes noisy at 
other seasons. I am not sure that I ever heard one ; but 
one night, while camped in a heavily timbered coulie near 
Kildeer Mountains, where, as their footprints showed, the 
beasts were plentiful, I twice heard a loud, wailing scream 
ringing through the impenetrable gloom which shrouded 
the hills around us. My companion, an old plainsman, 
said that this was the cry of the cougar prowling for its 
prey. Certainly no man could well listen to a stranger 
and wilder sound. 

Ordinarily the rifleman is in no danger from a hunted 
cougar ; the beast's one idea seems to be flight, and even 



344 The Wilderness Hunter. 

if its assailant is very close, it rarely charges if there is any 
chance for escape. Yet there are occasions when it will 
show fight. In the spring of 1890, a man with whom I 
had more than once worked on the round-up though I 
never knew his name was badly mauled by a cougar near 
my ranch. He was hunting with a companion and they 
unexpectedly came on the cougar on a shelf of sandstone 
above their heads, only some ten feet off. It sprang down 
on the man, mangled him with teeth and claws for a 
moment, and then ran away. Another man I knew, a 
hunter named Ed. Smith, who had a small ranch near 
Helena, was once charged by a wounded cougar ; he 
received a couple of deep scratches, but was not seriously 
hurt. 

Many old frontiersmen tell tales of the cougar's occa- 
sionally itself making the attack, and dogging to his death 
some unfortunate wayfarer. Many others laugh such tales 
to scorn. It is certain that if such attacks occur they are 
altogether exceptional, being indeed of such extreme 
rarity that they may be entirely disregarded in practice. 
I should have no more hesitation in sleeping out in a wood 
where there were cougars, or walking through it after 
nightfall, than I should have if the cougars were tomcats. 

Yet it is foolish to deny that in exceptional instances 
attacks may occur. Cougars vary wonderfully in size, and 
no less in temper. Indeed I think that by nature they are 
as ferocious and bloodthirsty as they are cowardly ; and 
that their habit of sometimes dogging wayfarers for miles 
is due to a desire for bloodshed which they lack the 
courage to realize. In the old days, when all wild beasts 



The Cougar. 345 

were less shy than at present, there was more danger from 
the cougar ; and this was especially true in the dark cane- 
brakes of some of the southern States, where the man a 
cougar was most likely to encounter was a nearly naked 
and unarmed negro. General Hampton tells me that near 
his Mississippi plantation, many years ago, a negro who 
was one of a gang engaged in building a railroad through 
low and wet ground was waylaid and killed by a cougar 
late one night as he was walking alone through the swamp. 

I knew two men in Missoula who were once attacked 
by cougars in a very curious manner. It was in 
January, and they were walking home through the snow 
after a hunt, each carrying on his back the saddle, 
haunches, and hide of a deer he had slain. Just at dusk, 
as they were passing through a narrow ravine, the man in 
front heard his partner utter a sudden loud call for help. 
Turning, he was dumbfounded to see the man lying on his 
face in the snow, with a cougar which had evidently just 
knocked him down standing over him, grasping the deer 
meat ; while another cougar was galloping up to assist. 
Swinging his rifle round he shot the first one in the brain, 
and it dropped motionless, whereat the second halted, 
wheeled, and bounded into the woods. His companion 
was not in the least hurt or even frightened, though 
greatly amazed. The cougars were not full grown, but 
young of the year. 

Now in this case I do not believe the beasts had any 
real intention of attacking the men. They were young 
animals, bold, stupid, and very hungry. The smell of 
the raw meat excited them beyond control, and they 



346 The Wilderness Hunter. 

probably could not make out clearly what the men were, 
as they walked bent under their burdens, with the deer 
skins on their backs. Evidently the cougars were only 
trying to get at the venison. 

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

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

A ranchman, named Trescott, who was at one time 
my neighbor, told me that while he was living on a sheep- 



The Cougar. 



347 



farm in the Argentine, he found pumas very common, 
and killed many. They were very destructive to sheep 
and colts, but were singularly cowardly when dealing 
with men. Not only did they never attack human beings, 
under any stress of hunger, but they made no effective 
resistance when brought to bay, merely scratching and 
cuffing like a big cat ; so that if found in a cave, it was 
safe to creep in and shoot them with a revolver. Jaguars, 
on the contrary, were very dangerous antagonists. 











CHAPTER XVII. 

A PECCARY HUNT ON THE NUECES. 

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

Our first halting-place was at a ranch on the Frio ; a 
low, wooden building, of many rooms, with open galleries 
between them, and verandas round about. The country 
was in some respects like, in others strangely unlike, the 
northern plains with which I was so well acquainted. It 
was for the most part covered with a scattered growth 
of tough, stunted mesquite trees, not dense enough to be 
called a forest, and yet sufficiently close to cut off the 
view. It was very dry, even as compared with the 
northern plains. The bed of the Frio was filled with 
coarse gravel, and for the most part dry as a bone on 
the surface, the water seeping through underneath, and 
only appearing in occasional deep holes. These deep 
holes or ponds never fail, even after a year's drouth ; they 

340 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 349 

were filled with fish. One lay quite near the ranch house, 
under a bold rocky bluff; at its edge grew giant cypress 
trees. In the hollows and by the watercourses were 
occasional groves of pecans, live-oaks, and elms. Strange 
birds hopped among the bushes ; the chaparral cock a 
big, handsome ground-cuckoo of remarkable habits, much 
given to preying on small snakes and lizards ran over 
the ground with extraordinary rapidity. Beautiful swal* 
low-tailed kingbirds with rosy plumage perched on the 
tops of the small trees, and soared and flitted in graceful 
curves above them. Blackbirds of many kinds scuttled in 
flocks about the corrals and outbuildings around the 
ranches. Mocking-birds abounded, and were very noisy, 
singing almost all the daytime, but with their usual 
irritating inequality of performance, wonderfully musical 
and powerful snatches of song being interspersed with 
imitations of other bird notes and disagreeable squalling. 
Throughout the trip I did not hear one of them utter the 
beautiful love song in which they sometimes indulge 
at night. 

The country was all under wire fence, unlike the 
northern regions, the pastures however being sometimes 
many miles across. When we reached the Frio ranch a 
herd of a thousand cattle had just been gathered, and 
two or three hundred beeves and young stock were being 
cut out to be driven northward over the trail. The cat- 
tle were worked in pens much more than in the North, 
and on all the ranches there were chutes with steering 
gates, by means of which the individuals of a herd could 
be dexterously shifted into various corrals. The brand- 



350 The Wilderness Hunter. 

ing of the calves was done ordinarily in one of these 
corrals and on foot, the calf being always roped by both 
forelegs ; otherwise the work of the cowpunchers was 
much like that of their brothers in the North. As a 
whole, however, they were distinctly more proficient with 
the rope, and at least half of them were Mexicans. 

There were some bands of wild cattle living only in 
the densest timber of the river bottoms which were liter- 
ally as wild as deer, and moreover very fierce and dan- 
gerous. The pursuit of these was exciting and hazardous 
in the extreme. The men who took part in it showed not 
only the utmost daring but the most consummate horse- 
manship and wonderful skill in the use of the rope, the 
coil being hurled with the force and precision of an iron 
quoit ; a single man speedily overtaking, roping, throwing, 
and binding down the fiercest steer or bull. 

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



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 351 

numbers. On this particular Frio ranch the last little 
band had been killed nearly a year before. There were 
three of them, a boar and two sows, and a couple of the 
cowboys stumbled on them early one morning while .out 
with a dog. After half a mile's chase the three peccaries 
ran into a hollow pecan tree, and one of the cowboys, 
dismounting, improvised a lance by tying his knife to the 
end of a pole, and killed them all. 

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

Once my friend Moore himself, while out with another 
cowboy on horseback, was attacked in sheer wantonness 
by a drove of these little wild hogs. The two men were 
riding by a grove of live-oaks along a wood-cutter's cart 
track, and were assailed without a moment's warning. 
The little creatures completely surrounded them, cutting 
fiercely at the horses' legs and jumping up at the riders' 



35 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

feet. The men, drawing their revolvers, dashed through 
and were closely followed by their pursuers for three or 
four hundred yards, although they fired right and left with 
good effect. Both of the horses were badly cut. On 
another occasion the bookkeeper of the ranch walked off 
to a water hole but a quarter of a mile distant, and came 
face to face with a peccary on a cattle trail, where the 
brush was thick. Instead of getting out of his way the 
creature charged him instantly, drove him up a small mes- 
quite tree, and kept him there for nearly two hours, look- 
ing up at him and champing its tusks. 

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

Having satisfied myself that there were no javalinas 
left on the Frio ranch, and being nearly at the end of my 
holiday, I was about to abandon the effort to get any, 
when a passing cowman happened to mention the fact 
that some were still to be found on the Nueces River 
thirty miles or thereabouts to the southward. Thither I 
determined to go, and next morning Moore and I started 
in a buggy drawn by a redoubtable horse, named Jim 
Swinger, which we were allowed to use because he bucked 
so under the saddle that nobody on the ranch could ride 
him. We drove six or seven hours across the dry, water- 
less plains. There had been a heavy frost a few days 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 353 

before, which had blackened the budding mesquite trees, 
and their twigs still showed no signs of sprouting. Occa- 
sionally we came across open spaces where there was 
nothing but short brown grass. In most places, however ,. 
the leafless, sprawling mesquites were scattered rather 
thinly over the ground, cutting off an extensive view and 
merely adding to the melancholy barrenness of the land- 
scape. The road was nothing but a couple of dusty 
wheel-tracks ; the ground was parched, and the grass 
cropped close by the gaunt, starved cattle. As we drove 
along buzzards and great hawks occasionally soared over- 
head. Now and then we passed lines of wild-looking, 
long-horned steers, and once we came on the grazing 
horses of a cow-outfit, just preparing to start northward 
over the trail to the fattening pastures. Occasionally we 
encountered one or two cowpunchers : either Texans, 
habited exactly like their brethren in the North, with 
broad-brimmed gray hats, blue shirts, silk neckerchiefs, 
and leather leggings ; or else Mexicans, more gaudily 
dressed, and wearing peculiarly stiff, very broad-brimmed 
hats, with conical tops. 

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



354 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

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

In the valley of the Nueces itself, the brush grew 
thick. There were great groves of pecan trees, and ever- 
green live-oaks stood in many places, long, wind-shaken 
tufts of gray moss hanging from their limbs. Many of 
the trees in the wet spots were of giant size, and the 
whole landscape was semi-tropical in character. High 
on a bluff shoulder overlooking the course of the river 
was perched the ranch house, toward which we were bend- 
ing our steps ; and here we were received with the hearty 
hospitality characteristic of the ranch country everywhere. 

The son of the ranchman, a tall, well-built young 
fellow, told me at once that there were peccaries in the 
neighborhood, and that he had himself shot one but two 
or three days before, and volunteered to lend us horses 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 355 

and pilot us to the game on the morrow, with the help of 
his two dogs. The last were big black curs with, as we 
were assured, " considerable hound " in them. One was 
at the time staying at the ranch house, the other was four 
or five miles off with a Mexican goat-herder, and it was 
arranged that early in the morning we should ride down 
to the latter place, taking the first dog with us and pro- 
curing his companion when we reached the goat-herder's 
house. 

We started after breakfast, riding powerful cow-ponies, 
well trained to gallop at full speed through the dense 
chaparral. The big black hound slouched at our heels. 
We rode down the banks of the Nueces, crossing and 
recrossing the stream. Here and there were long, deep 
pools in the bed of the river, where rushes and lilies grew 
and huge mailed garfish swam slowly just beneath the 
surface of the water. Once my two companions stopped 
to pull a mired cow out of a slough, hauling with ropes 
from their saddle horns. In places there were half-dry 
pools, out of the regular current of the river, the water 
green and fetid. The trees were very tall and large. 
The streamers of pale gray moss hung thickly from the 
branches of the live-oaks, and when many trees thus 
draped stood close together they bore a strangely mourn- 
ful and desolate look. 

We finally found the queer little hut of the Mexican 
goat-herder in the midst of a grove of giant pecans. On 
the walls were nailed the skins of different beasts, rac- 
coons, wild-cats, and the tree-civet, with its ringed tail. 
The Mexican's brown wife and children were in the hut, 



35 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

but the man himself and the goats were off in the forest, 
and it took us three or four hours' search before we found 
him. Then it was nearly noon, and we lunched in his 
hut, a square building of split logs, with bare earth floor, 
and roof of clap-boards and bark. Our lunch consisted of 
goat's meat and pan de mais. The Mexican, a broad- 
chested man with a stolid Indian face, was evidently quite 
a sportsman, and had two or three half-starved hounds, 
besides the funny, hairless little house dogs, of which 
Mexicans seem so fond. 

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

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



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 357 

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

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

Peccaries are very fast for a few hundred yards, but 
speedily tire, lose their wind, and come to bay. Almost 
immediately one of these, a sow, as it turned out, wheeled 
and charged at Moore as he passed, Moore never seeing 
her but keeping on after another. The sow then stopped 
and stood still, chattering her teeth savagely, and I 
jumped off my horse and dropped her dead with a shot 
in the spine, over the shoulders. Moore meanwhile had 
dashed off after his pig in one direction, and killed the 
little beast with a shot from the saddle when it had come 
to bay, turning and going straight at him. Two of the 
peccaries got off ; the remaining one, a rather large boar, 
was followed by the two dogs, and as soon as I had killed 
the sow I leaped again on my horse and made after 
them, guided by the yelping and baying. In less than a 
quarter of a mile they were on his haunches, and he 
wheeled and stood under a bush, charging at them when 



35 8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

they came near him, and once catching one, inflicting an 
ugly cut. All the while his teeth kept going like casta- 
nets, with a rapid champing sound. I ran up close and 
killed him by a shot through the backbone where it joined 
the neck. His tusks were fine. 

The few minutes' chase on horseback was great fun, 
and there was a certain excitement in seeing the fierce 
little creatures come to bay ; but the true way to kill these 
peccaries would be with the spear. They could often be 
speared on horseback, and where this was impossible, by 
using dogs to bring them to bay they could readily be 
killed on foot ; though, as they are very active absolutely 
fearless, and inflict a most formidable bite, it would usually 
be safest to have two men go at one together. Peccaries 
are not difficult beasts to kill, because their short wind 
and their pugnacity make them come to bay before hounds 
so quickly. Two or three good dogs can bring to a halt 
a herd of considerable size. They then all stand in a 
bunch, or else with their sterns against a bank, chattering 
their teeth at their antagonists. When angry and at bay, 
they get their legs close together, their shoulders high, 
and their bristles all ruffled, and look the very incarnation 
of anger, and they fight with reckless indifference to the 
very last. Hunters usually treat them with a certain 
amount of caution ; but, as a matter of fact, I know of but 
one case where a man was hurt by them. He had shot at 
and wounded one, was charged both by it and by its two 
companions, and started to climb a tree ; but as he drew 
himself from the ground, one sprang at him and bit him 
through the calf, inflicting a very severe wound. I have 



A Peccary Hunt on the Nueces. 359 

known of several cases of horses being cut, however, and 
dogs are very commonly killed. Indeed, a dog new to the 
business is almost certain to get very badly scarred, and 
no dog that hunts steadily can escape without some injury. 
If it runs in right at the heads of the animals, the proba- 
bilities are that it will get killed ; and, as a rule, even two 
good-sized hounds cannot kill a peccary, though it is no 
larger than either of them. However, a wary, resolute, 
hard-biting dog of good size speedily gets accustomed to 
the chase, and can kill a peccary single-handed, seizing it 
from behind and worrying it to death, or watching its 
chance and grabbing it by the back of the neck where it 
joins the head. 

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



360 



The Wilderness Hunter. 



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





CHAPTER XVIII. 

HUNTING WITH HOUNDS. 

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

As soon, however, as the old wilderness hunter type 
passes away, hounds come into use among his successors, 

the rough border settlers of the backwoods and the plains. 

361 



362 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Every such settler is apt to have four or five large 
mongrel dogs with hound blood in them, which serve to 
drive off beasts of prey from the sheepfold and cattle-shed, 
and are also used, when the occasion suits, in regular 
hunting, whether after bear or deer. 

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

Killing driven game by lying in wait for it to pass is 
the very poorest kind of sport that can be called legitimate. 
This is the way the deer is usually killed with hounds 
in the East. In the North the red fox is often killed in 
somewhat the same manner, being followed by a slow 
hound and shot at as he circles before the dog. Although 
this kind of fox-hunting is inferior to hunting on horse- 
back, it nevertheless has its merits, as the man must walk 
and run well, shoot with some accuracy, and show consid- 
erable knowledge both of the country and of the habits 
of the game. 

During the last score of years an entirely different type 
of dog from the fox-hound has firmly established itself 
in the field of American sport. This is the greyhound, 
whether the smooth-haired, or the rough-coated Scotch 



Hunting with Hounds. 3 6 3 

deer-hound. For half a century the army officers posted 
in the far West have occasionally had greyhounds with 
them, using the dogs to course jack-rabbit, coyote, and 
sometimes deer, antelope, and gray wolf. Many of them 
were devoted to this sport, General Custer, for instance. 
I have myself hunted with many of the descendants of 
Custer's hounds. In the early 70*3 the ranchmen of the 
great plains themselves began to keep greyhounds for 
coursing (as indeed they had already been used for a con- 
siderable time in California, after the Pacific coast jack- 
rabbit), and the sport speedily assumed large proportions 
and a permanent form. Nowadays the ranchmen of the 
cattle country not only use their greyhounds after the 
jack-rabbit, but also after every other kind of game ani- 
mal to be found there, the antelope and coyote being es- 
pecial favorites. Many ranchmen soon grew to own fine 
packs, coursing being the sport of all sports for the plains. 
In Texas the wild turkey was frequently an object of the 
chase, and wherever the locality enabled deer to be fol- 
lowed in the open, as for instance in the Indian territory, 
and in many places in the neighborhood of the large plains 
rivers, the whitetail was a favorite quarry, the hunters 
striving to surprise it in the early morning when feeding 
on the prairie. 

I have myself generally coursed with scratch packs, 
including perhaps a couple of greyhounds, a wire-haired 
deer-hound, and two or three long-legged mongrels. 
However, we generally had at least one very fast and 
savage dog a strike dog in each pack, and the others 
were of assistance in turning the game, sometimes in tiring 



3 6 4 The Wilderness Hunter. 

it, and usually in helping to finish it at the worry. With 
such packs I have had many a wildly exciting ride over 
the great grassy plains lying near the Little Missouri and 
the Knife and Heart rivers. Usually our proceedings on 
such a hunt were perfectly simple. We started on horse- 
back and when reaching favorable ground beat across it 
in a long scattered line of men and dogs. Anything that 
we put up, from a fox to a coyote or a prong-buck, was 
fair game, and was instantly followed at full speed. The 
animals we most frequently killed were jack-rabbits. They 
always gave good runs, though like other game they dif- 
fered much individually in speed. The foxes did not run 
so well, and whether they were the little swift, or the big 
red prairie fox, they were speedily snapped up if the dogs 
had a fair showing. Once our dogs roused a blacktail 
buck close up out of a brush coulie where the ground was 
moderately smooth, and after a headlong chase of a mile 
they ran into him, threw him, and killed him before he 
could rise. (His stiff-legged bounds sent him along at a 
tremendous pace at first, but he seemed to tire rather 
easily.) On two or three occasions we killed whitetail 
deer, and several times antelope. Usually, however, the 
antelopes escaped. The bucks sometimes made a good 
fight, but generally they were seized while running, some 
dogs catching by the throat, others by the shoulders, and 
others again by the flank just in front of the hind-leg. 
Wherever the hold was obtained, if the dog made his 
spring cleverly, the buck was sure to come down with a 
crash, and if the other dogs were anywhere near he was 
probably killed before he could rise, although not infre- 



Hunting with Hounds. 365 

quently the dogs themselves were more or less scratched 
in the contests. Some greyhounds, even of high breed- 
ing, proved absolutely useless from timidity, being afraid 
to take hold ; but if they got accustomed to the chase, 
being worked with old dogs, and had any pluck at all, 
they proved singularly fearless. A big ninety-pound 
greyhound or Scotch deer-hound is a very formidable fight- 
ing dog ; I saw one whip a big mastiff in short order, his 
wonderful agility being of more account than his adver- 
sary's superior weight. 

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

Although most Westerners take more kindly to the 
rifle, now and then one is found who is a devotee of the 
hound. Such a one was an old Missourian, who may be 
called Mr. Cowley, whom I knew when he was living on 
a ranch in North Dakota, west of the Missouri. Mr. 
Cowley was a primitive person, of much nerve, which he 
showed not only in the hunting field but in the startling 
political conventions of the place and period. He was 
quite well off, but he was above the niceties of personal 
vanity. His hunting garb was that in which he also paid 
his rare formal calls calls throughout which he always 



366 Tke Wilderness Hunter. 

preserved the gravity of an Indian, though having a dis- 
concerting way of suddenly tip-toeing across the room to 
some unfamiliar object, such as a peacock screen or a 
vase, feeling it gently with one forefinger, and returning 
with noiseless gait to his chair, unmoved, and making no 
comment. On the morning of a hunt he would always 
appear on a stout horse, clad in a long linen duster, a 
huge club in his hand, and his trousers working half-way 
up his legs. He hunted everything on all possible occa- 
sions ; and he never under any circumstances shot an 
animal that the dogs could kill. Once when a skunk got 
into his house, with the direful stupidity of its perverse 
kind, he turned the hounds on it ; a manifestation of 
sporting spirit which aroused the ire of even his long- 
suffering wife. As for his dogs, provided they could run 
and fight, he cared no more for their looks than for his 
own ; he preferred the animal to be half greyhound, but 
the other half could be fox-hound, colley, or setter, it 
mattered nothing to him. They were a wicked, hard- 
biting crew for all that, and Mr. Cowley, in his flapping 
linen duster, was a first-class hunter and a good rider. 
He went almost mad with excitement in every chase. 
His pack usually hunted coyote, fox, jack-rabbit, and deer ; 
and I have had more than one good run with it. 

My own experience is too limited to allow me to pass 
judgment with certainty as to the relative speed of the 
different beasts of the chase, especially as there is so much 
individual variation. I consider the antelope the fleetest 
of all however ; and in this opinion I am sustained by 
Col. Roger D. Williams, of Lexington. Kentucky, who, 



Hunting with Hounds. 367 

more than any other American, is entitled to speak upon 
coursing, and especially upon coursing large game. Col. 
Williams, like a true son of Kentucky, has bred his own 
thoroughbred horses and thoroughbred hounds for many 
years ; and during a series of long hunting trips extending 
over nearly a quarter of a century he has tried his pack 
on almost every game animal to be found among the 
foot-hills of the Rockies and on the great plains. His 
dogs, both smooth-haired greyhounds and rough-coated 
deer-hounds, have been bred by him for generations with 
a special view to the chase of big game not merely of 
hares ; they are large animals, excelling not only in 
speed but in strength, endurance, and ferocious courage. 
The survivors of his old pack are literally seamed all over 
with the scars of innumerable battles. When several dogs 
were together they would stop a bull-elk, and fearlessly 
assail a bear or cougar. This pack scored many a 
triumph over blacktail, whitetail, and prong-buck. For 
a few hundred yards the deer were very fast ; but in a run 
of any duration the antelope showed much greater speed, 
and gave the dogs far more trouble, although always 
overtaken in the end, if a good start had been obtained. 
Col. Williams is a firm believer in the power of the 
thoroughbred horse to outrun any animal that breathes, 
in a long chase ; he has not infrequently run down deer, 
when they were jumped some miles from cover ; and on 
two or three occasions he ran down uninjured antelope, 
but in each case only after a desperate ride of miles, 
which in one instance resulted in the death of his gallant 
horse. 



368 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

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

In no place in the Northeast is hunting the wild red 
fox put on a more genuine and healthy basis than in the 
Genesee Valley, in central New York. There has always 
been fox-hunting in this valley, the farmers having good 
horses and being fond of sport ; but it was conducted in 
a very irregular, primitive manner, until some twenty 
years ago Mr. Austin Wadsworth turned his attention to 
it. He has been master of fox-hounds ever since, and no 
pack in the country has yielded better sport than his, or 
has brought out harder riders among the men and 
stronger jumpers among the horses. Mr. Wadsworth 
began his hunting by picking up some of the various 



Hunting with Hounds. 369 

trencher-fed hounds of the neighborhood, the hunting of 
that period being managed on the principle of each 
farmer bringing to the meet the hound or hounds he 
happened to possess, and appearing on foot or horseback 
as his fancy dictated. Having gotten together some of 
these native hounds and started fox-hunting in localities 
where the ground was so open as to necessitate following 
the chase on horseback, Mr. Wadsworth imported a 
number of dogs from the best English kennels. He 
found these to be much faster than the American dogs 
and more accustomed to work together, but less enduring, 
and without such good noses. The American hounds 
were very obstinate and self-willed. Each wished to 
work out the trail for himself. But once found, they 
would puzzle it out, no matter how cold, and would 
follow it if necessary for a day and night. By a judicious 
crossing of the two Mr. Wadsworth finally got his present 
fine pack, which for its own particular work on its own 
ground would be hard to beat. The country ridden over 
is well wooded, and there are many foxes. The abun- 
dance of cover, however, naturally decreases the number 
of kills. It is a very fertile land, and there are few farm- 
ing regions more beautiful, for it is prevented from being 
too tame in aspect by the number of bold hills and deep 
ravines. Most of the fences are high posts-and-rails or 
"snake" fences, although there is an occasional stone 
wall, haha, or water-jump. The steepness of the ravines 
and the density of the timber make it necessary for a 
horse to be sure-footed and able to scramble anywhere, 
and the fences are so high that none but very good 



370 The Wilderness Hunter. 

jumpers can possibly follow the pack. Most of the horses 
used are bred by the farmers in the neighborhood, or are 
from Canada, and they usually have thoroughbred or 
trotting-stock blood in them. 

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

It was a thoroughly democratic assemblage ; every one 
was there for sport, and nobody cared an ounce how he or 
anybody else was dressed. Slouch hats, brown coats, 
corduroy breeches, and leggings, or boots, were the order 
of the day. We cast off in a thick wood. The dogs 
struck a trail almost immediately and were off with clam- 
orous yelping, while the hunt thundered after them like a 
herd of buffaloes. We went headlong down the hill-side 
into and across a brook. Here the trail led straight up 
a sheer bank. Most of the riders struck off to the left for 



Hunting with Hounds. 37 * 

an easier place, which was unfortunate for them, for the 
eight of us who went straight up the side (one man's 
horse falling back with him) were the only ones who kept 
on terms with the hounds. Almost as soon as we got 4o 
the top of the bank we came out of the woods over a low 
but awkward rail fence, where one of our number, who 
was riding a very excitable sorrel colt, got a fall. This 
left but six, including the whip. There were two or three 
large fields with low fences ; then we came to two high, 
stiff doubles, the first real jumping of the day, the fences 
being over four feet six, and so close together that the 
horses barely had a chance to gather themselves. We 
got over, however, crossed two or three stump-strewn 
fields, galloped through an open wood, picked our way 
across a marshy spot, jumped a small brook and two or 
three stiff fences, and then came a check. Soon the 
hounds recovered the line and swung off to the right, back 
across four or five fields, so as to enable the rest of the 
hunt, by making an angle, to come up. Then we jumped 
over a very high board fence into the main road, out of it 
again, and on over ploughed fields and grass land, sepa- 
rated by stiff snake fences. The run had been fast and 
the horses were beginning to tail. By the time we sud- 
denly rattled down into a deep ravine and scrambled up 
the other side through thick timber there were but four of 
us left, Lodge and myself being two of the lucky ones. 
Beyond this ravine we came to one of the worst jumps of 
the day, a fence out of the wood, which was practicable 
only at one spot, where a kind of cattle trail led up to a 
panel. It was within an inch or two of five feet high 



37 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

However, the horses, thoroughly trained to timber jump- 
ing and to rough and hard scrambling in awkward places, 
and by this time well quieted, took the bars without 
mistake, each one in turn trotting or cantering up to 
within a few yards, then making a couple of springs and 
bucking over with a great twist of the powerful haunches. 
I may explain that there was not a horse of the four that 
had not a record of five feet six inches in the ring. We 
now got into a perfect tangle of ravines, and the fox went 
to earth ; and though we started one or two more in the 
course of the afternoon, we did not get another really 
first-class run. 

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



Hunting with Hounds. 373 

working business men who wish to make the most out of 
every moment of the little time they can spare from their 
regular occupations. A single ride across country, or an 
afternoon at polo, will yield more exercise, fun, and excite-- 
ment than can be got out of a week's decorous and dull 
riding in the park, and many young fellows have waked up 
to this fact. 

At one time I did a good deal of hunting with the 
Meadowbrook hounds, in the northern part of Long 
Island. There were plenty of foxes around us, both red 
and gray, but partly for the reasons given above, and 
partly because the covers were so large and so nearly con- 
tinuous, they were not often hunted, although an effort 
was always made to have one run every week or so after 
a wild fox, in order to give a chance for the hounds to be 
properly worked and to prevent the runs from becoming 
a mere succession of steeple-chases. The sport was 
mainly drag-hunting, and was most exciting, as the fences 
were high and the pace fast. The Long Island country 
needs a peculiar style of horse, the first requisite being that 
he shall be a very good and high timber jumper. Quite a 
number of crack English and Irish hunters have at dif- 
ferent times been imported, and some of them have turned 
out pretty well ; but when they first come over they are 
utterly unable to cross our country, blundering badly at 
the high timber. Few of them have done as well as the 
American horses. I have hunted half a dozen times in 
England, with the Pytchely, Essex, and North Warwick- 
shire, and it seems to me probable that English thorough- 
breds, in a grass country, and over the peculiar kinds of 



374 The Wilderness Hunter. 

obstacles they have on the other side of the water, would 
gallop away from a field of our Long Island horses ; for 
they have speed and bottom, and are great weight carriers. 
But on our own ground, where the cross-country riding is 
more like leaping a succession of five- and six-bar gates 
than anything else, they do not as a rule, in spite of the 
enormous prices paid for them, show themselves equal to 
the native stock. The highest recorded jump, seven feet 
two inches, was made by the American horse Filemaker, 
which I saw ridden in the very front by Mr. H. L. Herbert, 
in the hunt at Sagamore Hill, about to be described. 

When I was a member of the Meadowbrook hunt, 
most of the meets were held within a dozen miles or so of 
the kennels : at Farmingdale, Woodbury, Wheatly, Locust 
Valley, Syosset, or near any one of twenty other queer, 
quaint old Long Island hamlets. They were almost 
always held in the afternoon, the business men who had 
come down from the city jogging over behind the hounds 
to the appointed place, where they were met by the men 
who had ridden over direct from their country-houses. If 
the meet was an important one, there might be a crowd of 
onlookers in every kind of trap, from a four-in-hand drag 
to a spider-wheeled buggy drawn by a pair of long-tailed 
trotters, the money value of which many times surpassed 
that of the two best hunters in the whole field. Now 
and then a breakfast would be given the hunt at some 
country-house, when the whole day was devoted to the 
sport ; perhaps after wild foxes in the morning, with a drag 
in the afternoon. 



Hunting with Hounds. 375 

After one meet, at Sagamore Hill, I had the curiosity 
to go on foot over the course we had taken, measuring 
the jumps ; for it is very difficult to form a good estimate 
of a fence's height when in the field, and five feet~of 
timber seems a much easier thing to take when sitting 
around the fire after dinner than it does when actually 
faced while the hounds are running. On the particular 
hunt in question we ran about ten miles, at a rattling 
pace, with only two checks, crossing somewhat more than 
sixty fences, most of them post-and-rails, stiff as steel, the 
others being of the kind called " Virginia " or snake, 
and not more than ten or a dozen in the whole lot under 
four feet in height. The highest measured five feet and 
half an inch, two others were four feet eleven, and nearly 
a third of the number averaged about four and a half. 
There were also several rather awkward doubles. When 
the hounds were cast off some forty riders were present, 
but the first fence was a savage one, and stopped all who 
did not mean genuine hard going. Twenty-six horses 
crossed it, one of them ridden by a lady. A mile or so 
farther on, before there had been a chance for much tail- 
ing, we came to a five-bar gate, out of a road a jump 
of just four feet five inches from the take-off. Up to this, 
of course, we went one at a time, at a trot or hand-gallop, 
and twenty-five horses cleared it in succession without a 
single refusal and with but one mistake. Owing to the se- 
verity of the pace, combined with the average height of the 
timber (although no one fence was of phenomenally note- 
worthy proportions), a good many falls took place, result- 



37 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

ing in an unusually large percentage of accidents. The 
master partly dislocated one knee, another man broke 
two ribs, and another the present writer broke his arm. 
However, almost all of us managed to struggle through 
to the end in time to see the death. 

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

It would be very unfair to think the sport especially 
dangerous on account of the occasional accidents that 
happen. A man who is fond of riding, but who sets a 
good deal of value, either for the sake of himself, his 
family, or his business, upon his neck and limbs, can hunt 
with much safety if he gets a quiet horse, a safe fencer, 
and does not try to stay in the front rank. Most acci- 
dents occur to men on green or wild horses, or else to 
those who keep in front only at the expense of pumping 



Hunting with Hounds. 377 

their mounts ; and a fall with a done-out beast is always 
peculiarly disagreeable. Most falls, however, do no harm 
whatever to either horse or rider, and after they have 
picked themselves up and shaken themselves, the couple 
ought to be able to go on just as well as ever. Of course 
a man who wishes to keep in the first flight must expect 
to face a certain number of tumbles ; but even he will 
probably not be hurt at all, and he can avoid many a 
mishap by easing up his horse whenever he can that is, 
by always taking a gap when possible, going at the lowest 
panel of every fence, and not calling on his animal for all 
there is in him unless it cannot possibly be avoided. It 
must be remembered that hard riding is a very different 
thing from good riding ; though a good rider to hounds 
must also at times ride hard. 

Cross-country riding in the rough is not a difficult 
thing to learn ; always provided the would-be learner is 
gifted with or has acquired a fairly stout heart, for a con- 
stitutionally timid person is out of place in the hunting 
field. A really finished cross-country rider, a man who 
combines hand and seat, heart and head, is of course rare ; 
the standard is too high for most of us to hope to reach. 
But it is comparatively easy to acquire a light hand and a 
capacity to sit fairly well down in the saddle ; and when 
a man has once got these, he will find no especial difficulty 
in following the hounds on a trained hunter. 

Fox-hunting is a great sport, but it is as foolish to make 
a fetish of it as it is to decry it. The fox is hunted merely 
because there is no larger game to follow. As long as 
wolves, deer, or antelope remain in the land, and in a country 



The Wilderness Hunter. 

where hounds and horsemen can work, no one would 
think of following the fox. It is pursued because the big- 
ger beasts of the chase have been killed out. In England 
it has reached its present prominence only within two cen- 
turies ; nobody followed the fox while the stag and boar 
were common. At the present day, on Exmoor, where 
the wild stag is still found, its chase ranks ahead of that of 
the fox. It is not really the hunting proper which is the 
point in fox-hunting. It is the horsemanship, the gallop- 
ing and jumping, and the being out in the open air. Very 
naturally, however, men who have passed their lives as fox- 
hunters grow to regard the chase and the object of it alike 
with superstitious veneration. They attribute almost 
mythical characters to the animal. I know some of my 
good Virginian friends, for instance, who seriously believe 
that the Virginia red fox is a beast quite unparalleled for 
speed and endurance no less than for cunning. This is 
of course a mistake. Compared with a wolf, an antelope, 
or even a deer, the fox's speed and endurance do not stand 
very high. A good pack of hounds starting him close 
would speedily run into him in the open. The reason that 
the hunts last so long in some cases is because of the nature 
of the ground which favors the fox at the expense of the 
dogs, because of his having the advantage in the start, and 
because of his cunning in turning to account everything 
which will tell in his favor and against his pursuers. In 
the same way I know plenty of English friends who speak 
with bated breath of fox-hunting but look down upon rid- 
ing to drag-hounds. Of course there is a difference in the 
two sports, and the fun of actually hunting the wild beast 



Hunting with Hounds. 379 

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

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

Once, beyond the Missouri, I met an expatriated German 
baron, an unfortunate who had failed utterly in the rough 
life of the frontier. He was living in a squalid little hut, 
almost unfurnished, but studded around with the diminu- 
tive horns of the European roebuck. These were the only 
treasures he had taken with him to remind him of his 
former life, and he was never tired of describing what fun 
it was to shoot roebucks when driven by the little crooked- 
legged dachshunds. There were plenty of deer and ante- 



380 The Wilderness Hunter. 

lope roundabout, yielding good sport to any rifleman, but 
this exile cared nothing for them ; they were not roebucks, 
and they could not be chased with his beloved dachshunds, 
So, among my neighbors in the cattle country, is a gentle- 
man from France, a very successful ranchman, and a thor- 
oughly good fellow ; he cares nothing for hunting big 
game, and will not go after it, but is devoted to shooting 
cotton-tails in the snow, this being a pastime having much 
resemblance to one of the recognized sports of his own 
land. 

However, our own people afford precisely similar in- 
stances. I have met plenty of men accustomed to killing 
wild tui keys and deer with small-bore rifles in the southern 
forests who, when they got on the plains and in the Rock- 
ies, were absolutely helpless. They not only failed to 
become proficient in the art of killing big game at long 
ranges with the large-bore rifle, at the cost of fatiguing 
tramps, but they had a positive distaste for the sport and 
would never allow that it equalled their own stealthy hunts 
in eastern forests. So I know plenty of men, experts with 
the shotgun, who honestly prefer shooting quail in the 
East over well-trained setters or pointers, to the hardier, 
manlier sports of the wilderness. 

As it is with hunting, so it is with riding. The cow- 
boy's scorn of every method of riding save his own is as 
profound and as ignorant as is that of the school rider, 
jockey, or fox-hunter. The truth is that each of these is 
best in his own sphere and is at a disadvantage when made 
to do the work of any of the others. For all-around rid- 
ing and horsemanship, I think the West Point graduate is 



Hunting with Hounds. 381 

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

When Buffalo Bill took his cowboys to Europe they 
made a practice in England, France, Germany, and Italy 
of offering to break and ride, in their own fashion, any 
horse given them. They were frequently given spoiled 
animals from the cavalry services in the different countries 
through which they passed, animals with which the trained 
horse-breakers of the European armies could do nothing ; 
and yet in almost all cases the cowpunchers and bronco- 
busters with Buffalo Bill mastered these beasts as readily 
as they did their own western horses. At their own work 
of mastering and riding rough horses they could not be 
matched by their more civilized rivals ; but I have great 
doubts whether they in turn would not have been beaten 
if they had essayed kinds of horsemanship utterly alien to 
their past experience, such as riding mettled thorough- 
breds in a steeple-chase, or the like. Other things being 
equal (which, however, they generally are not), a bad, big 
horse fed on oats offers a rather more difficult problem 
than a bad little horse fed on grass. After Buffalo Bill's 
men had returned, I occasionally heard it said that they 
had tried cross-country riding in England and had shown 
themselves pre-eminently skilful thereat, domg better than 
the English fox-hunters, but this I take the liberty to dis- 
believe. I was in England at the time, hunted occasion- 



382 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

It would be interesting to compare the performances of 
the Australian stock-riders with those of our own cowpunch- 
ers, both in cow-work and in riding. The Australians have 
an entirely different kind of saddle, and the use of the rope 
is unknown among them. A couple of years ago the famous 
western rifle-shot, Carver, took some cowboys out to Aus- 
tralia, and I am informed that many of the Australians 
began themselves to practise with the rope after seeing 
the way it was used by the Americans. An Australian 
gentleman, Mr. A. J. Sage, of Melbourne, to whom I had 
written asking how the saddles and styles of riding com- 
pared, answered me as follows : 

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



Hunting with Hounds. 383 

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

This last is a feat I have myself seen performed in the 
West. I suppose the amount of it is that both the Amer- 
ican and the Australian rough riders are, for their own 
work, just as good as men possibly can be. 

One spring I had to leave the East in the midst of the 
hunting season, to join a round-up in the cattle country of 
western Dakota, and it was curious to compare the totally 
different styles of riding of the cowboys and the cross- 
country men. A stock-saddle weighs thirty or forty 
pounds instead of ten or fifteen, and needs an utterly dif- 
ferent seat from that adopted in the East. A cowboy 
rides with very long stirrups, sitting forked well down 
between his high pommel and cantle, and depends upon 
balance as well as on the grip of his thighs. In cutting 
out a steer from a herd, in breaking a vicious wild horse, 
in sitting a bucking bronco, in stopping a night stampede 
of many hundred maddened animals, or in the perform- 
ance of a hundred other feats of reckless and daring 
horsemanship, the cowboy is absolutely unequalled ; and 



384 The Wilderness Hunter. 

when he has his own horse gear he sits his animal with 
the ease of a centaur. Yet he is quite helpless the first 
time he gets astride one of the small eastern saddles. 
One summer, while purchasing cattle in Iowa, one of my 
ranch foremen had to get on an ordinary saddle to ride 
out of town and see a bunch of steers. He is perhaps the 
best rider on the ranch, and will without hesitation mount 
and master beasts that I doubt if the boldest rider in one 
of our eastern hunts would care to tackle ; yet his 
uneasiness on the new saddle was fairly comical. At first 
he did not dare to trot, and the least plunge of the horse 
bid fair to unseat him, nor did he begin to get accustomed 
to the situation until the very end of the journey. In fact, the 
two kinds of riding are so very different that a man only 
accustomed to one, feels almost as ill at ease when he 
first tries the other as if he had never sat on a horse's back 
before. It is rather funny to see a man who only knows 
one kind, and is conceited enough to think that that is 
really the only kind worth knowing, when first he is 
brought into contact with the other. Two or three times 
I have known men try to follow hounds on stock-saddles, 
which are about as ill-suited for the purpose as they well 
can be ; while it is even more laughable to see some young 
fellow from the East or from England who thinks he 
knows entirely too much about horses to be taught by 
barbarians, attempt in his turn to do cow-work with his 
ordinary riding or hunting rig. It must be said, however, 
that in all probability cowboys would learn to ride well 
across country much sooner than the average cross-coun- 
try rider would master the dashing and peculiar style of 



Hunting with Hounds. 385 

horsemanship shown by those whose life business is to 
guard the wandering herds of the great western plains. 

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

Nevertheless, of all sports possible in civilized countries, 
riding to hounds is perhaps the best if followed as it should 
be, for the sake of the strong excitement, with as much 
simplicity as possible, and not merely as a fashionable 
amusement. It tends to develop moral no less than 
physical qualities ; the rider needs nerve and head ; he 
must possess daring and resolution, as well as a good deal 
of bodily skill and a certain amount of wiry toughness 
and endurance. 





CHAPTER XIX. 

WOLVES AND WOLF-HOUNDS. 

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

Wolves show an infinite variety in color, size, physical 
formation, and temper. Almost all the varieties inter- 
grade with one another, however, so that it is very diffi- 
cult to draw a hard and fast line between any two of 
them. Nevertheless, west of the Mississippi there are 
found two distinct types. One is the wolf proper, or big 
wolf, specifically akin to the wolves of the eastern States. 
The other is the little coyote, or prairie wolf. The coyote 
and the big wolf are found together in almost all the 
wilder districts from the Rio Grande to the valleys of the 
upper Missouri and the upper Columbia. Throughout 
this region there is always a sharp line of demarkation, 
especially in size, between the coyotes and the big wolves 
of any given district ; but in certain districts the big 
wolves are very much larger than their brethren in other 

386 



Wolves and IV olf -Hounds. 387 

districts. In the upper Columbia country, for instance, 
they are very large ; along the Rio Grande they are small. 
Dr. Hart Merriam informs me that, according to his ex- 
perience, the coyote is largest in southern California. In 
many respects the coyote differs altogether in habits from 
its big relative. For one thing it is far more tolerant of 
man. In some localities coyotes are more numerous 
around settlements, and even in the close vicinity of large 
towns, than they are in the frowning and desolate fast- 
nesses haunted by their grim elder brother. 

Big wolves vary far more in color than the coyotes do. 
I have seen white, black, red, yellow, brown, gray, and 
grizzled skins, and others representing every shade be- 
tween, although usually each locality has its prevailing 
tint. The grizzled, gray, and brown often have precisely 
the coat of the coyote. The difference in size among 
wolves of different localities, and even of the same locality, 
is quite remarkable, and so, curiously enough, is the dif- 
ference in the size of the teeth, in some cases even when 
the body of one wolf is as big as that of another. I have 
seen wolves from Texas and New Mexico which were 
under-sized, slim animals with rather small tusks, in no 
way to be compared to the long-toothed giants of their 
race that dwell in the heavily timbered mountains of the 
Northwest and in the far North. As a rule, the teeth of 
the coyote are relatively smaller than those of the gray 
wolf. 

Formerly wolves were incredibly abundant in certain 
parts of the country, notably on the great plains, where 
they were known as buffalo wolves, and were regular at- 



388 The Wilderness Hunter. 

tendants on the great herds of the bison. Every traveller 
and hunter of the old days knew them as among the most 
common sights of the plains, and they followed the hunt- 
ing parties and emigrant trains for the sake of the scraps 
left in camp. Now, however, there is no district in which 
they are really abundant. The wolfers, or professional 
wolf-hunters, who killed them by poisoning for the sake of 
their fur, and the cattle-men, who likewise killed them by 
poisoning because of their raids on the herds, have doubt- 
less been the chief instruments in working their decima- 
tion on the plains. In the '/o's, and even in the early 
'8o's, many tens of thousands of wolves were killed by the 
wolfers in Montana and northern Wyoming and western 
Dakota. Nowadays the surviving wolves of the plains 
have learned caution ; they no longer move abroad at 
midday, and still less do they dream of hanging on the 
footsteps of hunter and traveller. Instead of being one 
of the most common they have become one of the rarest 
sights of the plains. A hunter may wander far and wide 
through the plains for months nowadays and never see a 
wolf, though he will probably see many coyotes. How- 
ever, the diminution goes on, not steadily but by fits and 
starts, and, moreover, the beasts now and then change 
their abodes, and appear in numbers in places where they 
have been scarce for a long period. In the present winter 
of i892-'93 big wolves are more plentiful in the neighbor- 
hood of my ranch than they have been for ten years, and 
have worked some havoc among the cattle and young 
horses. The cowboys have been carrying on the usual 
vindictive campaign against them ; a number have been 



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds. 389 

poisoned, and a number of others have fallen victims to 
their greediness, the cowboys surprising them when 
gorged to repletion on the carcass of a colt or calf, and, 
in consequence, unable to run, so that they are easily rid- 
den down, roped, and then dragged to death. 

Yet even the slaughter wrought by man in certain 
localities does not seem adequate to explain the scarcity 
or extinction of wolves, throughout the country at large. 
In most places they are not followed any more eagerly 
than are the other large beasts of prey, and they are 
usually followed with less success. Of all animals the 
wolf is the shyest and hardest to slay. It is almost or 
quite as difficult to still-hunt as the cougar, and is far more 
difficult to kill with hounds, traps, or poison ; yet it 
scarcely holds its own as well as the great cat, and it does 
not begin to hold its own as well as the bear, a beast cer- 
tainly more readily killed, and one which produces fewer 
young at a birth. Throughout the East the black bear 
is common in many localities from which the wolf has 
vanished completely. It at present exists in very scanty 
numbers in northern Maine and the Adirondacks ; is 
almost or quite extinct in Pennsylvania ; lingers here and 
there in the mountains from West Virginia to east Ten- 
nessee, and is found in Florida ; but is everywhere less 
abundant than the bear. It is possible that this destruc- 
tion of the wolves is due to some disease among them, 
perhaps to hydrophobia, a terrible malady from which it 
is known that they suffer greatly at times. Perhaps the 
bear is helped by its habit of hibernating, which frees it 
from most dangers during winter ; but this cannot be the 



39 The Wilderness Hunter. 

complete explanation, for in the South it does not hiber- 
nate, and yet holds its own as well as in the North. What 
makes it all the more curious that the American wolf 
should disappear sooner than the bear is that the reverse 
is the case with the allied species of Europe, where the 
bear is much sooner killed out of the land. 

Indeed the differences of this sort between nearly re- 
lated animals are literally inexplicable. Much of the 
difference in temperament between such closely allied 
species as the American and European bears and wolves 
is doubtless due to their surroundings and to the instincts 
they have inherited through many generations ; but for 
much of the variation it is not possible to offer any expla- 
nation. In the same way there are certain physical dif- 
ferences for which it is very hard to account, as the same 
conditions seem to operate in directly reverse ways with 
different animals. No one can explain the process of natural 
selection which has resulted in the otter of America being 
larger than the otter of Europe, while the badger is 
smaller ; in the mink being with us a much stouter animal 
than its Scandinavian and Russian kinsman, while the 
reverse is true of our sable or pine marten. No one 
can say why the European red deer should be a pigmy 
compared to its giant brother, the American wapiti ; why 
the Old World elk should average smaller in size than 
the almost indistinguishable New World moose ; and yet 
the bison of Lithuania and the Caucasus be on the whole 
larger and more formidable than its American cousin. In 
the same way no one can tell why under like conditions 
some game, such as the white goat and the spruce grouse, 



Wolves and Wo If -Hounds. 391 

should be tamer than other closely allied species, like the 
mountain sheep and ruffed grouse. No one can say why 
on the whole the wolf of Scandinavia and northern Russia 
should be larger and more dangerous than the average 
wolf of the Rocky Mountains, while between the bears of 
the same regions the comparison must be exactly reversed. 

The difference even among the wolves of different 
sections of our own country is very notable. It may be 
true that the species as a whole is rather weaker and less 
ferocious than the European wolf ; but it is certainly not 
true of the wolves of certain localities. The great tim- 
ber wolf of the central and northern chains of the Rockies 
and coast ranges is in every way a more formidable crea- 
ture than the buffalo wolf of the plains, although they 
intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves of north- 
western Montana and Washington which I have seen 
were quite as large and showed quite as stout claws and 
teeth as the skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian 
wolves, and I believe that these great timber wolves are 
in every way as formidable as their Old World kinsfolk. 
However, they live where they come in contact with a 
population of rifle-bearing frontier hunters, who are very 
different from European peasants or Asiatic tribesmen ; 
and they have, even when most hungry, a wholesome 
dread of human beings. Yet I doubt if an unarmed man 
would be entirely safe should he, while alone in the forest 
in midwinter, encounter a fair-sized pack of ravenously 
hungry timber wolves. 

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, in 
exceptional instances, reaches a height of thirty-two inches 



392 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and a weight of 130 pounds; a big buffalo-wolf of the 
upper Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches at the 
shoulder and weighs about no pounds; a Texan wolf 
may not reach over eighty pounds. The bitch-wolves are 
smaller ; and moreover there is often great variation even 
in the wolves of closely neighboring localities. 

The wolves of the southern plains were not often for- 
midable to large animals, even in the days when they most 
abounded. They rarely attacked the horses of the hunter, 
and indeed were but little regarded by these experienced 
animals. They were much more likely to gnaw off the 
lariat with which the horse was tied, than to try to molest 
the steed himself. They preferred to prey on young ani- 
mals, or on the weak and disabled. They rarely molested 
a full-grown cow or steer, still less a full-grown buffalo, 
and, if they did attack such an animal, it was only when 
emboldened by numbers. In the plains of the upper Mis- 
souri and Saskatchewan the wolf was, and is, more danger- 
ous, while in the northern Rockies his courage and 
ferocity attain their highest pitch. Near my own ranch 
the wolves have sometimes committed great depredations 
on cattle, but they seem to have queer freaks of slaughter. 
Usually they prey only upon calves and sickly animals ; 
but in midwinter I have known one single-handed to at- 
tack and kill a well-grown steer or cow, disabling its quarry 
by rapid snaps at the hams or flanks. Only rarely have I 
known it to seize by the throat. Colts are likewise a 
favorite prey, ftut with us wolves rarely attack full-grown 
horses. They are sometimes very bold in their assaults, 
falling on the stock while immediately around the ranch 



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds. 393 

houses. They even venture into the hamlet of Medora 
itself at night as the coyotes sometimes do by day. In 
the spring of '92 we put on some eastern two-year-old 
steers ; they arrived, and were turned loose from the stock- 
yards, in a snowstorm, though it was in early May. Next 
morning we found that one had been seized, slain, and 
partially devoured by a big wolf at the very gate of the 
stockyard ; probably the beast had seen it standing near 
the yard after nightfall, feeling miserable after its journey, 
in the storm and its unaccustomed surroundings, and 
had been emboldened to make the assault so near town 
by the evident helplessness of the prey. 

The big timber wolves of the northern Rocky Moun- 
tains attack every four-footed beast to be found where 
they live. They are far from contenting themselves with 
hunting deer and snapping up the pigs and sheep of the 
farm. When the weather gets cold and food scarce they 
band together in small parties, perhaps of four or five in- 
dividuals, and then assail anything, even a bear or a 
panther. A bull elk or bull moose, when on its guard, 
makes a most dangerous fight ; but a single wolf will 
frequently master the cow of either animal, as well as 
domestic cattle and horses. In attacking such large game, 
however, the wolves like to act in concert, one springing 
at the animal's head, and attracting its attention, while the 
other hamstrings it. Nevertheless, one such big wolf will 
kill an ordinary horse. A man I knew, who was engaged 
in packing into the Cceur d' Alines, once witnessed such 
a feat on the part of a wolf. He was taking his pack 
train down into a valley when he saw a horse grazing 



394 The Wilderness Hunter. 



therein ; it had been turned loose by another packing out- 
fit, because it became exhausted. He lost sight of it as 
the trail went down a zigzag, and while it was thus out of 
sight he suddenly heard it utter the appalling scream, unlike 
and more dreadful than any other sound, which a horse 
only utters in extreme fright or agony. The scream was 
repeated, and as he came in sight again he saw that a 
great wolf had attacked the horse. The poor animal had 
been bitten terribly in its haunches and was cowering upon 
them, while the wolf stood and looked at it a few paces 
off. In a moment or two the horse partially recovered 
and made a desperate bound forward, starting at full gal- 
lop. Immediately the wolf was after it, overhauled it in 
three or four jumps, and then seized it by the hock, while 
its legs were extended, with such violence as to bring it 
completely back on its haunches. It again screamed pit- 
eously ; and this time with a few savage snaps the wolf 
hamstrung and partially disembowelled it, and it fell over, 
having made no attempt to defend itself. I have heard of 
more than one incident of this kind. If a horse is a good 
fighter, however, as occasionally, though not often, hap- 
pens, it is a most difficult prey for any wild beast, and 
some veteran horses have no fear of wolves whatsoever, 
well knowing that they can either strike them down 
with their fore-feet or repulse them by lashing out 
behind. 

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



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds. 395 

wolf was just old enough to begin to feel vicious and blood- 
thirsty, and to show symptoms of attacking the deer. On 
the occasion in question he got loose and ran towards it, 
but it turned, and began to hit him with its fore-feet, seem- 
ingly in sport ; whereat he rolled over on his back before 
it, and acted like a puppy at play. Soon it turned and 
walked off ; immediately the wolf, with bristling hair, 
crawled after, and with a pounce seized it by the haunch, 
and would doubtless have murdered the bleating, strug- 
gling creature, had not the bystanders interfered. 

Where there are no domestic animals, wolves feed on 
almost anything from a mouse to an elk. They are re- 
doubted enemies of foxes. They are easily able to over- 
take them in fair chase, and kill numbers. If the fox can 
get into the underbrush, however, he can dodge around 
much faster than the wolf, and so escape pursuit. Some- 
times one wolf will try to put a fox out of a cover while 
another waits outside to snap him up. Moreover, the 
wolf kills even closer kinsfolk than the fox. When pressed 
by hunger it will undoubtedly sometimes seize a coyote, 
tear it in pieces and devour it, although during most of 
the year the two animals live in perfect harmony. I once 
myself, while out in the deep snow, came across the re- 
mains of a coyote that had been killed in this manner. 
Wolves are also very fond of the flesh of dogs, and if they 
get a chance promptly kill and eat any dog they can mas- 
ter and there are but few that they cannot. Neverthe- 
less, I have been told of one instance in which a wolf struck 
up an extraordinary friendship with a strayed dog, and the 
two lived and hunted together for many months, being 



39 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

frequently seen by the settlers of the locality. This 
occurred near Thompson's Falls, Montana. 

Usually wolves are found singly, in pairs, or in family 
parties, each having a large beat over which it regularly 
hunts, and also at times shifting its grounds and travelling 
immense distances in order to take up a temporary abode 
in some new locality for they are great wanderers. It is 
only under stress of severe weather that they band to- 
gether in packs. They prefer to creep on their prey and 
seize it by a sudden pounce, but, unlike the cougar, they 
also run it down in fair chase. Their slouching, tireless 
gallop enables them often to overtake deer, antelope, or 
other quarry ; though under favorable circumstances, 
especially if near a lake, the latter frequently escape. 
Whether wolves run cunning I do not know ; but I think 
they must, for coyotes certainly do. A coyote cannot run 
down a jack-rabbit ; but two or three working together 
will often catch one. Once I saw three start a jack, which 
ran right away from them ; but they spread out, and fol- 
lowed. Pretty soon the jack turned slightly, and ran near 
one of the outside ones, saw it, became much frightened, 
and turned at right angles, so as soon to nearly run into 
the other outside one, which had kept straight on. This 
happened several times, and then the confused jack lay 
down under a sage-bush and was seized. So I have seen 
two coyotes attempting to get at a newly dropped antelope 
kid. One would make a feint of attack, and lure the dam 
into a rush at him, while the other stole round to get at 
the kid. The dam, as always with these spirited little 
prong-bucks, made a good fight, and kept the assailants 



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds. 397 

at bay ; yet I think they would have succeeded in the end, 
had I not interfered. Coyotes are bold and cunning in 
raiding the settlers' barn-yards for lambs and hens ; and 
they have an especial liking for tame cats. If there are 
coyotes in the neighborhood a cat which gets into the 
habit of wandering from home is surely lost. 

Though, I have never known wolves to attack a man, 
yet in the wilder portion of the far Northwest I have heard 
them come around camp very close, growling so savagely 
as to make one almost reluctant to leave the camp fire and 
go out into the darkness unarmed. Once I was camped 
in the fall near a lonely little lake in the mountains, by the 
edge of quite a broad stream. Soon after nightfall three 
or four wolves came around camp and kept me awake by 
their sinister and dismal howling. Two or three times 
they came so close to the fire that I could hear them snap 
their jaws and growl, and at one time I positively thought 
that they intended to try to get into camp, so excited were 
they by the smell of the fresh meat. After a while they 
stopped howling ; and then all was silent for an hour or 
so. I let the fire go out and was turning into bed when 
I suddenly heard some animal of considerable size come 
down to the stream nearly opposite me and begin to splash 
across, first wading, then swimming. It was pitch dark 
and I could not possibly see, but I felt sure it was a wolf. 
However after coming half-way over it changed its mind 
and swam back to the opposite bank ; nor did I see or 
hear anything more of the night marauders. 

Five or six times on the plains or on my ranch I have 
had shots at wolves, always obtained by accident and al- 



39 8 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

The wolf is one of the animals which can only be 
hunted successfully with dogs. Most dogs however do 
not take at all kindly to the pursuit. A wolf is a terrible 
fighter. He will decimate a pack of hounds by rabid 
snaps with his giant jaws while suffering little damage 
himself ; nor are the ordinary big dogs, supposed to be 
fighting dogs, able to tackle him without special training. 
I have known one wolf to kill a bulldog which had rushed 
at it with a single snap, while another which had entered 
the yard of a Montana ranch house slew in quick succes- 
sion both of the large mastiffs by which it was assailed. 
The immense agility and ferocity of the wild beast, the 
terrible snap of his long-toothed jaws, and the admirable 
training in which he always is, give him a great advantage 
over fat, small-toothed, smooth-skinned dogs, even though 
they are nominally supposed to belong to the fighting 
classes. In the way that bench competitions are arranged 
nowadays this is but natural, as there is no temptation to 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds. 399 

produce a worthy class of fighting dog when the rewards are 
given upon technical points wholly unconnected with the 
dog's usefulness. A prize-winning mastiff or bulldog may 
be almost useless for the only purposes for which his kind 
is ever useful at all. A mastiff, if properly trained and of 
sufficient size, might possibly be able to meet a young or 
undersized Texan wolf ; but I have never seen a dog of 
this variety which I would esteem a match single-handed 
for one of the huge timber wolves of western Montana. 
Even if the dog was the heavier of the two, his teeth 
and claws would be very much smaller and weaker and his 
hide less tough. Indeed I have known of but one dog 
which single-handed encountered and slew a wolf ; this 
was the large vicious mongrel whose feats are recorded in 
my Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. 

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



400 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Usually, as soon they came across it, they would growl, 
bristle up, and then retreat with their tails between their 
legs. But one of his dogs ever really tried to master a 
wolf by itself, and this one paid for its temerity with its 
life ; for while running a wolf in a canebrake the beast 
turned and tore it to pieces. Finally General Hampton 
succeeded in getting a number of his hounds so they 
would at any rate follow the trail in full cry, and thus 
drive the wolf out of the thicket, and give a chance to the 
hunter to get a shot. In this way he killed two or three. 
The true way to kill wolves, however, is to hunt them 
with greyhounds on the great plains. Nothing more 
exciting than this sport can possibly be imagined. It is 
not always necessary that the greyhounds should be of 
absolutely pure blood. Prize-winning dogs of high pedi- 
gree often prove useless for the purposes. If by careful 
choice, however, a ranchman can get together a pack 
composed both of the smooth-haired greyhound and the 
rough-haired Scotch deer-hound, he can have excellent 
sport. The greyhounds sometimes do best if they have 
a slight cross of bulldog in their veins ; but this is not 
necessary. If once a greyhound can be fairly entered to 
the sport and acquires confidence, then its wonderful 
agility, its sinewy strength and speed, and the terrible 
snap with which its jaws come together, render it a most 
formidable assailant. Nothing can possibly exceed the 
gallantry with which good greyhounds, when their blood 
is up, fling themselves on a wolf or any other foe. There 
does not exist, and there never has existed on the wide 
earth, a more perfect type of dauntless courage than such 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds. 401 

a hound. Not Gushing when he steered his little launch 
through the black night against the great ram Albemarle, 
not Custer dashing into the valley of the Rosebud to die 
with all his men, not Farragut himself lashed in the 
rigging of the Hartford as she forged past the forts to 
encounter her iron-clad foe, can stand as a more perfect 
type of dauntless valor. 

Once I had the good fortune to witness a very exciting 
hunt of this character among the foot-hills of the northern 
Rockies. I was staying at the house of a friendly cow- 
man, whom I will call Judge Yancy Stump. Judge Yancy 
Stump was a Democrat who, as he phrased it, had fought 
for his Democracy ; that is, he had been in the Confed- 
erate Army. He was at daggers drawn with his nearest 
neighbor, a cross-grained mountain farmer, who may be 
known as old man Prindle. Old man Prindle had been 
in the Union Army, and his Republicanism was of the 
blackest and most uncompromising type. There was one 
point, however, on which the two came together. They 
were exceedingly fond of hunting with hounds. The 
Judge had three or four track-hounds, and four of what 
he called swift-hounds, the latter including one pure-bred 
greyhound bitch of wonderful speed and temper, a dun- 
colored yelping animal which was a cross between a grey- 
hound and a fox-hound, and two others that were crosses 
between a greyhound and a wire-haired Scotch deer-hound. 
Old man Prindle's contribution to the pack consisted of 
two immense brindled mongrels of great strength and 
ferocious temper. They were unlike any dogs I have 
ever seen in this country. Their mother herself was a 



402 The Wilderness Hunter. 

cross between a bull mastiff and a Newfoundland, while 
the father was described as being a big dog that belonged 
to a " Dutch Count." The " Dutch Count" was an out- 
cast German noble, who had drifted to the West, and, after 
failing in the mines and failing in the cattle country, had 
died in a squalid log shanty while striving to eke out an 
existence as a hunter among the foot-hills. His dog, I 
presume, from the description given me, must have been 
a boar-hound or Ulm dog. 

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

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



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds. 403 

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

At last we reached a somewhat deeper valley, in which 
the wolves were harbored. Wolves lie close in the day- 
time and will not leave cover if they can help it ; and as 
they had both food and water within we knew it was most 
unlikely that this couple would be gone. The valley was 
a couple of hundred yards broad and three or four times 
as long, filled with a growth of ash and dwarf elm and 
cedar, thorny underbrush choking the spaces between. 
Posting the cowboy, to whom he gave his rifle, with two 
greyhounds on one side of the upper end, and old man 
Prindle with two others on the opposite side, while I was 
left at the lower end to guard against the possibility of 
the wolves breaking back, the Judge himself rode into 
the thicket near me and loosened the track-hounds to let 
them find the wolves' trail. The big dogs also were un- 
coupled and allowed to go in with the hounds. Their 
power of scent was very poor, but they were sure to be 



404 The Wilderness Hunter. 

guided aright by the baying of the hounds, and their pres- 
ence would give confidence to the latter and make them 
ready to rout the wolves out of the thicket, which they 
would probably have shrunk from doing alone. There was 
a moment's pause of expectation after the Judge entered 
the thicket with his hounds. We sat motionless on our 
horses, eagerly looking through the keen fresh morning 
air. Then a clamorous baying from the thicket in which 
both the horseman and dogs had disappeared showed that 
the hounds had struck the trail of their quarry and were 
running on a hot scent. For a couple of minutes we could 
not be quite certain which way the game was going to 
break. The hounds ran zigzag through the brush, 
as we could tell by their baying, and once some yelping 
and a great row showed that they had come rather closer 
than they had expected upon at least one of the wolves. 

In another minute, however, the latter found it too 
hot for them and bolted from the thicket. My first notice 
of this was seeing the cowboy, who was standing by the 
side of his horse, suddenly throw up his rifle and fire, 
while the greyhounds who had been springing high in the 
air, half maddened by the clamor in the thicket below, for 
a moment dashed off the wrong way, confused by the 
report of the gun. I rode for all I was worth to where 
the cowboy stood, and instantly caught a glimpse of two 
wolves, grizzled-gray and brown, which having been turned 
by his shot had started straight over the hill across the 
plain toward the mountains three miles away. As soon 
as I saw them I saw also that the rearmost of the couple 
had been hit somewhere in the body and was lagging 



Wolves and Wolf-Hounds. 405 

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

No sooner were we satisfied that it was dead than the 
Judge, with cheers and oaths and crackings of his whip, 
urged the dogs after the other wolf. The two greyhounds 
that had been with old man Prindle had fortunately not 
been able to see the wolves when they first broke from 
the cover, and never saw the wounded wolf at all, starting 
off at full speed after the unwounded one the instant he 
topped the crest of the hill. He had taken advantage of 
a slight hollow and turned, and now the chase was cross- 
ing us half a mile away. With whip and spur we flew 



406 The Wilderness Hunter. 

towards them, our two greyhounds stretching out in front 
and leaving us as if we were standing still, the track-hounds 
and big dogs running after them just ahead of the horses. 
Fortunately the wolf plunged for a moment into a little 
brushy hollow and again doubled back, and this gave us 
a chance to see the end of the chase from nearby. The 
two greyhounds which had first taken up the pursuit were 
then but a short distance behind. Nearer they crept until 
they were within ten yards, and then with a tremendous 
race the little bitch ran past him and inflicted a vicious 
bite in the big beast's ham. He whirled around like a 
top and his jaws clashed like those of a sprung bear-trap, 
but quick though he was she was quicker and just cleared 
his savage rush. In another moment he resumed his 
flight at full speed, a speed which only that of the grey- 
hounds exceeded ; but almost immediately the second grey- 
hound ranged alongside, and though he was not able to 
bite, because the wolf kept running with its head turned 
around threatening him, yet by his feints he delayed the 
beast's flight so that in a moment or two the remaining 
couple of swift hounds arrived on the scene. For a 
moment the wolf and all four dogs galloped along in a 
bunch ; then one of the greyhounds, watching his chance, 
pinned the beast cleverly by the hock and threw him com- 
pletely over. The others jumped on it in an instant ; but 
rising by main strength the wolf shook himself free, catch- 
ing one dog by the ear and tearing it half off. Then he 
sat down on his haunches and the greyhounds ranged 
themselves around him some twenty yards off, forming a 
ring which forbade his retreat, though they themselves did 



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds. 407 

not dare touch him. However the end was at hand. In 
another moment Old Abe and General Grant came run- 
ning up at headlong speed and smashed into the wolf like 
a couple of battering-rams. He rose on his hind-legs like 
a wrestler as they came at him, the greyhounds also rising 
and bouncing up and down like rubber balls. I could just 
see the wolf and the first big dog locked together, as the 
second one made good his throat-hold. In another mo- 
ment over all three tumbled, while the greyhounds and one 
or two of the track-hounds jumped in to take part in the 
killing. The big dogs more than occupied the wolfs 
attention and took all the punishing, while in a trice one 
of the greyhounds, having seized him by the hind-leg, 
stretched him out, and the others were biting his un- 
defended belly. The snarling and yelling of the worry 
made a noise so fiendish that it was fairly bloodcurdling ; 
then it gradually died down, and the second wolf lay 
limp on the plain, killed by the dogs unassisted. This 
wolf was rather heavier and decidedly taller than either 
of the big dogs, with more sinewy feet and longer fangs. 
I have several times seen wolves run down and stopped 
by greyhounds after a break-neck gallop and a wildly 
exciting finish, but this was the only occasion on which I 
ever saw the dogs kill a big, full-grown he-wolf unaided. 
Nevertheless various friends of mine own packs that have 
performed the feat again and again. One pack, formerly 
kept at Fort Benton, until wolves in that neighborhood 
became scarce, had nearly seventy-five to its credit, most 
of them killed without any assistance from the hunter ; 
killed moreover by the greyhounds alone, there being no 



408 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

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

One of the most famous packs in the West was that of 
the Sun River Hound Club, in Montana, started by the 
stockmen of Sun River to get rid of the curse of wolves 
which infested the neighborhood and worked very serious 
damage to the herds and flocks. The pack was composed 



IVofoes and Wolf-Hounds. 409 

of both greyhounds and deer-hounds, the best being from 
the kennels of Colonel Williams and of Mr. Van Hummel, 
of Denver ; they were handled by an old plainsman and 
veteran wolf-hunter named Porter. In the season oF'86 
the astonishing number of 146 wolves were killed with 
these dogs. Ordinarily, as soon as the dogs seized a wolf, 
and threw or held it, Porter rushed in and stabbed it with 
his hunting-knife ; one day, when out with six hounds, he 
thus killed no less than twelve out of the fifteen wolves 
started, though one of the greyhounds was killed, and all 
the others were cut and exhausted. But often the wolves 
were killed without his aid. The first time the two biggest 
hounds deer-hounds or wire-haired greyhounds were 
tried, when they had been at the ranch only three days, 
they performed such a feat. A large wolf had killed and 
partially eaten a sheep in a corral close to the ranch house, 
and Porter started on the trail, and followed him at a jog- 
trot nearly ten miles before the hounds sighted him. 
Running but a few rods, he turned viciously to bay, and 
the two great greyhounds struck him like stones hurled 
from a catapult, throwing him as they fastened on his 
throat ; they held him down and strangled him before he 
could rise, two other hounds getting up just in time to 
help at the end of the worry. 

Ordinarily, however, no two greyhounds or deer-hounds 
are a match for a gray wolf, but I have known of several 
instances in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, in which 
three strong veterans have killed one. The feat can only 
be performed by big dogs of the highest courage, who all 
act together, rush in at top speed, and seize by the 



410 The Wilderness Hunter. 

throat ; for the strength of the quarry is such that other- 
wise he will shake off the dogs, and then speedily kill them 
by rabid snaps with his terribly armed jaws. Where 
possible, half a dozen dogs should be slipped at once, to 
minimize the risk of injury to the pack ; unless this is 
done, and unless the hunter helps the dogs in the worry, 
accidents will be frequent, and an occasional wolf will 
be found able to beat off, maiming or killing, a lesser 
number of assailants. Some hunters prefer the smooth 
greyhound, because of its great speed, and others the 
wire-coated animal, the rough deer-hound, because of its 
superior strength ; both, if of the right kind, are dauntless 
fighters. 

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



Wolves and Wolf -Hounds. 41 1 

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

Once or twice the so-called Russian wolf-hounds or 
silky coated greyhounds, the " borzois," have been imported 
and tried in wolf-hunting on the western plains ; but 
hitherto they have not shown themselves equal, at either 
running or fighting, to the big American-bred greyhounds of 
the type produced by Colonel Williams and certain others 
of our best western breeders. Indeed I have never known 
any foreign greyhounds, whether Scotch, English, or from 
continental Europe, to perform such feats of courage, 
endurance, and strength, in chasing and killing dangerous 
game, as the homebred greyhounds of Colonel Williams. 





CHAPTER XX. 

IN COWBOY LAND. 

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



412 



In Cowboy Land. 4 J 3 

who, when these stages have passed, find themselves sur- 
rounded by conditions which accentuate their worst qual- 
ities, and make their best qualities useless. The average 
desperado, for instance, has, after all, much the same 
standard of morals that the Norman nobles had in the 
days of the battle of Hastings, and, ethically and morally, 
he is decidedly in advance of the vikings, who were the 
ancestors of these same nobles and to whom, by the way, 
he himself could doubtless trace a portion of his blood. 
If the transition from the wild lawlessness of life in the 
wilderness or on the border to a higher civilization were 
stretched out over a term of centuries, he and his descend- 
ants would doubtless accommodate themselves by degrees 
to the changing circumstances. But unfortunately in the 
far West the transition takes place with marvellous abrupt- 
ness, and at an altogether unheard-of speed, and many a 
man's nature is unable to change with sufficient rapidity to 
allow him to harmonize with his environment. In conse- 
quence, unless he leaves for still wilder lands, he ends by 
getting hung instead of founding a family which would 
revere his name as that of a very capable, although not in 
all respects a conventionally moral, ancestor. 

Most of the men with whom I was intimately thrown 
during my life on the frontier and in the wilderness were 
good fellows, hard-working, brave, resolute, and truthful. 
At times, of course, they were forced of necessity to do 
deeds which would seem startling to dwellers in cities and 
in old settled places ; and though they waged a very stern 
and relentless warfare upon evil-doers whose misdeeds had 
immediate and tangible bad results, they showed a wide 



4*4 The Wilderness Hunter. 

toleration of all save the most extreme classes of wrong, and 
were not given to inquiring too curiously into a strong man's 
past, or to criticising him over-harshly for a failure to dis- 
criminate in finer ethical questions. Moreover, not a few 
of the men with whom I came in contact with some of 
whom my relations were very close and friendly had at 
different times led rather tough careers. This fact was 
accepted by them and by their companions as a fact, and 
nothing more. There were certain offences, such as rape, 
the robbery of a friend, or murder under circumstances of 
cowardice and treachery, which were never forgiven ; but 
the fact that when the country was wild a young fellow 
had gone on the road that is, become a highwayman, or 
had been chief of a gang of desperadoes, horse-thieves, 
and cattle-killers, was scarcely held to weigh against him, 
being treated as a regrettable, but certainly not shameful, 
trait of youth. He was regarded by his neighbors with 
the same kindly tolerance which respectable mediaeval 
Scotch borderers doubtless extended to their wilder young 
men who would persist in raiding English cattle even in 
time of peace. 

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



In Cowboy Land. 415 

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, I was out 
hunting some lost horses. They had strayed from the 
range three months before, and we had in a roundabout way 
heard that they were ranging near some broken country, 
where a man named Brophy had a ranch, nearly fifty 
miles from my own. When I started thither the weather 
was warm, but the second day out it grew colder and a 
heavy snowstorm came on. Fortunately I was able to 
reach the ranch all right, finding there one of the sons of 
a Little Beaver ranchman, and a young cowpuncher be- 
longing to a Texas outfit, whom I knew very well. After 
putting my horse into the corral and throwing him down 
some hay I strode into the low hut, made partly of turf 
and partly of cottonwood logs, and speedily warmed my- 
self before the fire. We had a good warm supper, of bread, 
potatoes, fried venison, and tea. My two companions 
grew very sociable and began to talk freely over their 
pipes. There were two bunks one above the other. I 
climbed into the upper, leaving my friends, who occupied 
the lower, sitting together on a bench recounting different 
incidents in the careers of themselves and their cronies 
during the winter that had just passed. Soon one of 
them asked the other what had become of a certain horse, 
a noted cutting pony, which I had myself noticed the 
preceding fall. The question aroused the other to the 
memory of a wrong which still rankled, and he began 
(I alter one or two of the proper names) : 

" Why, that was the pony that got stole. I had been 
workin' him on rough ground when I was out with the 
Three Bar outfit and he went tender forward, so I turned 



4 l6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

him loose by the Lazy B ranch, and when I come back to 
git him there was n't anybody at the ranch and I could n't 
find him. The sheep-man who lives about two miles west, 
under Red Clay butte, told me he seen a fellow in a wolf- 
skin coat, ridin' a pinto bronco, with white eyes, leadin' 
that pony of mine just two days before ; and I hunted round 
till I hit his trail and then I followed to where I 'd reckoned 
he was headin' for the Short Pine Hills. When I got there 
a rancher told me he had seen the man pass on towards 
Cedartown, and sure enough when I struck Cedartown I 
found he lived there in a 'dobe house, just outside the 
town. There was a boom on the town and it looked 
pretty slick. There was two hotels and I went into the 
first, and I says, ' Where 's the justice of the peace ? ' says 
I to the bartender. 

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

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

< Why, it was him that shot the justice of the peace ! ' 
says he ; ' he 's skipped the country with a bunch of horses.' 

" ' Well, ain't there no officer of the law left in this 
town ? ' says I. 

" ' Why, of course,' says he, ' there 's a probate judge ; 
he is overtendin' bar at the Last Chance Hotel.' 

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

" ' Mornin',' says he. 

" ' You 're the probate judge ? ' says I. 

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



In Cowboy Land. 417 

" ' I want justice/ says I. 

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

" ' It 's for stealin' a horse/ says I. 

" ' Then by God you '11 git it/ says he. ' Who stole 
the horse ? ' says he. 

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

" ' Well, where do you come from yourself?' said he. 

" ' From Medory/ said I. 

" With that he lost interest and settled kind o' back, 
and says he, ' There wont no Cedartown jury hang a Cedar- 
town man for stealin' a Medory man's horse/ said he. 

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

" ' Do ? ' says he ; ' well, you know where the man lives, 
don't you ? ' says he ; ' then sit up outside his house to- 
night and shoot him when he comes in/ says he, * and 
skip out with the horse.' 

11 'All right/ says I, ' that is what I '11 do/ and I walked 
off. 

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



The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

The " town " where the judge above-mentioned dwelt 
was one of those squalid, pretentiously named little clusters 
of makeshift dwellings which on the edge of the wild 
country spring up with the rapid growth of mushrooms, 
and are often no longer lived. In their earlier stages these 
towns are frequently built entirely of canvas, and are 
subject to grotesque calamities. When the territory pur- 
chased from the Sioux, in the Dakotas, a couple of years 
ago, was thrown open to settlement, there was a furious 
inrush of men on horseback and in wagons, and various 
ambitious cities sprang up overnight. The new settlers 
were all under the influence of that curious craze which 
causes every true westerner to put unlimited faith in the 
unknown and untried ; many had left all they had in a far 
better farming country, because they were true to their 
immemorial belief that, wherever they were, their luck 
would be better if they went somewhere else. They were 
always on the move, and headed for the vague beyond. 
As miners see visions of all the famous mines of history 
in each new camp, so these would-be city founders saw 
future St. Pauls and Omahas in every forlorn group of 
tents pitched by some muddy stream in a desert of gumbo 
and sage-brush ; and they named both the towns and the 
canvas buildings in accordance with their bright hopes 
for the morrow, rather than with reference to the mean 
facts of the day. One of these towns, which when twenty- 
four hours old boasted of six saloons, a " court-house," 



In Cowboy Land. 419 

and an " opera house," was overwhelmed by early dis- 
aster. The third day of its life a whirlwind came along 
and took off the opera house and half the saloons ; and 
the following evening lawless men nearly finished the 
work of the elements. The riders of a huge trail-outfit 
from Texas, to their glad surprise discovered the town and 
abandoned themselves to a night of roaring and lethal 
carousal. Next morning the city authorities were lament- 
ing, with oaths of bitter rage, that " them hell-and-twenty 
Flying A cowpunchers had cut the court-house up into 
pants." It was true. The cowboys were in need of shaps, 
and with an admirable mixture of adventurousness, fru- 
gality, and ready adaptability to circumstances, had made 
substitutes therefor in the shape of canvas overalls, cut 
from the roof and walls of the shaky temple of justice. 

One of my valued friends in the mountains, and one 
of the best hunters with whom I ever travelled, was a man 
who had a peculiarly light-hearted way of looking at con- 
ventional social obligations. Though in some ways a true 
backwoods Donatello, he was a man of much shrewdness 
and of great courage and resolution. Moreover, he pos- 
sessed what only a few men do possess, the capacity to 
tell the truth. He saw facts as they were, and could tell 
them as they were, and he never told an untruth unless 
for very weighty reasons. He was pre-eminently a phi- 
losopher, of a happy, sceptical turn of mind. He had no 
prejudices. He never looked down, as so many hard 
characters do, upon a person possessing a different code 
of ethics. His attitude was one of broad, genial tolerance. 
He saw nothing out of the way in the fact that he had 



420 The Wilderness Hunter. 

himself been a road-agent, a professional gambler, and a 
desperado at different stages of his career. On the other 
hand, he did not in the least hold it against any one that 
he had always acted within the law. At the time that I 
knew him he had become a man of some substance, and 
naturally a staunch upholder of the existing order of 
things. But while he never boasted of his past deeds, he 
never apologized for them, and evidently would have been 
quite as incapable of understanding that they needed an 
apology as he would have been incapable of being guilty 
of mere vulgar boastfulness. He did not often allude to 
his past career at all. When he did, he recited its inci- 
dents perfectly naturally and simply, as events, without 
any reference to or regard for their ethical significance. 
It was this quality which made him at times a specially 
pleasant companion, and always an agreeable narrator. 
The point of his story, or what seemed to him the point, 
was rarely that which struck me. It was the incidental 
sidelights the story threw upon his own nature and the 
somewhat lurid surroundings amid which he had moved. 

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

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

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

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



In Cowboy Land. 421 

there by the name of Fowler, and there was a reward on 
him of three thousand dollars - 

" Put on him by the State ? " 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ' Hold on for a moment,' said I, ' I am willin' to lend 
you them guns, but I ain't goin' to know what you Y goin' 
to do with them, no sir ; but of course you can have the 
guns. ' ' Here my friend's face lightened pleasantly, and 
he continued : 



422 The Wilderness Hunter. 

" Well, you may easily believe I felt surprised next 
day when Fowler come ridin' in, and, says he, ' Simpson, 
here 's your guns ! ' He had shot them two men ! ' Well, 
Fowler/ says I, ' if I had known them men was after you, 
I 'd never have let them have them guns nohow,' says I. 
That was n't true, for I did know it, but there was no 
cause to tell him that." I murmured my approval of 
such prudence, and Simpson continued, his eyes gradually 
brightening with the light of agreeable reminiscence : 

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

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

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

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

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

" Well, that Turk, he got nervous for fear Fowler he 
was goin' to kill him, and so he comes to me and offers 
me twenty-five dollars a day to protect him from Fowler ; 
and I went to Fowler, and ' Fowler,' says I, 'that Turk 's 
offered me twenty-five dollars a day to protect him from 



In Cowboy Land. 423 

you. Now, I ain't goin' to get shot for no twenty-five 
dollars a day, and if you are goin' to kill the Turk, just 
say so and go and do it ; but if you ain't goin' to kill the 
Turk, there 's no reason why I should n't earn that 
twenty-five dollars a day ! ' and Fowler, says he, ' I ain't 
goin' to touch the Turk ; you just go right ahead and 
protect him.' ' ; 

So Simpson " protected " the Turk from the imaginary 
danger of Fowler, for about a week, at twenty-five dollars 
a day. Then one evening he happened to go out and 
met Fowler, " and," said he, " the moment I saw him I 
knowed he felt mean, for he begun to shoot at my feet," 
which certainly did seem to offer presumptive evidence of 
meanness. Simpson continued : 

" I did n't have no gun, so I just had to stand there 
and take it until something distracted his attention, and I 
went off home to get my gun and kill him, but I wanted 
to do it perfectly lawful ; so I went up to the mayor (he 
was playin' poker with one of the judges), and says I to 
him, ' Mr. Mayor,' says I, ' I am goin' to shoot Fowler. 
And the mayor he riz out of his chair and he took me by 
the hand, and says he, ' Mr. Simpson, if you do I will 
stand by you ' ; and the judge, he says, ' I '11 go on your 
bond.' " 

Fortified by this cordial approval of the executive and 
judicial branches of the government, Mr. Simpson started 
on his quest. Meanwhile, however, Fowler had cut up 
another prominent citizen, and they already had him in 
jail. The friends of law and order feeling some little dis- 
trust as to the permanency of their own zeal for righteous- 



424 The Wilderness Hunter. 

ness, thought it best to settle the matter before there was 
time for cooling, and accordingly, headed by Simpson, 
the mayor, the judge, the Turk, and other prominent 
citizens of the town, they broke into the jail and hanged 
Fowler. The point in the hanging which especially 
tickled my friend's fancy, as he lingered over the reminis- 
cence, was one that was rather too ghastly to appeal to 
our own sense of humor. In the Turk's mind there still 
rankled the memory of Fowler's very unprofessional 
conduct while figuring before him as a criminal. Said 
Simpson, with a merry twinkle of the eye : " Do you know 
that Turk, he was a right funny fellow too after all. Just 
as the boys were going to string up Fowler, says he, 
' Boys, stop ; one moment, gentlemen, Mr. Fowler, 
good-by,' and he blew a kiss to him !" 

In the cow-country, and elsewhere on the wild border- 
land between savagery and civilization, men go quite as 
often by nicknames as by those to which they are lawfully 
entitled. Half the cowboys and hunters of my acquaint- 
ance are known by names entirely unconnected with those 
they inherited or received when they were christened. 
Occasionally some would-be desperado or make-believe 
mighty hunter tries to adopt what he deems a title suit- 
able to his prowess ; but such an effort is never attempted 
in really wild places, where it would be greeted with huge 
derision ; for all of these names that are genuine are 
bestowed by outsiders, with small regard to the wishes of 
the person named. Ordinarily the name refers to some 
easily recognizable accident of origin, occupation, or 
aspect ; as witness the innumerable Dutcheys, Frencheys, 



In Cowboy Land. 425 

Kentucks, Texas Jacks, Bronco Bills, Bear Joes, Buck- 
skins, Red Jims, and the like. Sometimes it is apparently 
meaningless ; one of my cowpuncher friends is always 
called "Sliver" or "Splinter" why, I have no idea. At 
other times some particular incident may give rise to the 
title : a clean-looking cowboy formerly in my employ was 
always known as " Muddy Bill," because he had once been 
bucked off his horse into a mud hole. 

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

" Feb 1 6th 1893 ; Der Sir : I see in the newspapers that your club 
the Daniel Boon and Davey Crockit you Intend to erect a fruntier 
Cabin at the world's Far at Chicago to represent the erley Pianears of 
our country I would like to see you maik a success I have all my life 
been a fruntiersman and feel interested in your undertaking and I hoap 
you wile get a good assortment of relicks I want to maik one sugges- 
tion to you that is in regard to geting a good man and a genuine 
Mauntanner to take charg of your haus at Chicago I want to recom- 
mend a man for you to get it is Liver-eating Johnson that is the naim 
he is generally called he is an olde mauntneer and large and fine look- 
ing and one of the Best Story Tellers in the country and Very Polight 
genteel to every one he meets I wil tel you how he got that naim Liver- 
eating in a hard Fight with the Black Feet Indians thay Faught all 
day Johnson and a few Whites Faught a large Body of Indians all day 
after the fight Johnson cam in contact with a wounded Indian and 
Johnson was aut of ammunition and thay faught it out with thar Knives 
and Johnson got away with the Indian and in the fight cut the livver 
out of the Indian and said to the Boys did thay want any Liver to eat 
that is the way he got the naim of Liver-eating Johnson 

"Yours truly" etc., etc. 

Frontiersmen are often as original in their theories of 
life as in their names ; and the originality may take the 



426 The Wilderness Hunter. 

form of wild savagery, of mere uncouthness, or of an odd 
combination of genuine humor with simple acceptance of 
facts as they are. On one occasion I expressed some 
surprise at learning that a certain Mrs. P. had suddenly 
married, though her husband was alive and in jail in a 
neighboring town ; and received for answer : " Well, you 
see, old man Pete he skipped the country, and left his 
widow behind him, and so Bob Evans he up and married 
her ! " which was evidently felt to be a proceeding 
requiring no explanation whatever. 

In the cow-country there is nothing more refreshing 
than the light-hearted belief entertained by the average 
man to the effect that any animal which by main force 
has been saddled and ridden, or harnessed and driven a 
couple of times, is a " broke horse." My present foreman 
is firmly wedded to this idea, as well as to its comple- 
ment, the belief that any animals with hoofs, before any 
vehicle with wheels, can be driven across any country. 
One summer on reaching the ranch I was entertained with 
the usual accounts of the adventures and misadventures 
which had befallen my own men and my neighbors since 
I had been out last. In the course of the conversation 
my foreman remarked : " We had a great time out here 
about six weeks ago. There was a professor from Ann 
Arbor came out with his wife to see the Bad Lands, and 
they asked if we could rig them up a team, and we said 
we guessed we could, and Foley's boy and I did ; but it 
ran away with him and broke his leg ! He was here for 
a month. I guess he did n't mind it though." Of this I 
was less certain, forlorn little Medora being a "busted" 



In Cowboy Land. 427 

cow-town, concerning which I once heard another of my 
men remark, in reply to an inquisitive commercial traveller : 
" How many people lives here? Eleven counting the 
chickens when they 're all in town ! " 

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

The definition of good behavior on the frontier is even 
more elastic for a saddle-horse than for a team. Last 
spring one of the Three-Seven riders, a magnificent horse- 
man, was killed on the round-up near Belfield, his horse 
bucking and falling on him. " It was accounted a plumb 
gentle horse too," said my informant, " only it sometimes 
sulked and acted a little mean when it was cinched up 
behind." The unfortunate rider did not know of this 
failing of the "plumb gentle horse," and as soon as he 



428 The Wilderness Hunter. 

was in the saddle it threw itself over sideways with a great 
bound, and he fell on his head, and never spoke again. 

Such accidents are too common in the wild country to 
attract very much attention ; the men accept them with 
grim quiet, as inevitable in such lives as theirs lives that 
are harsh and narrow in their toil and their pleasure 
alike, and that are ever-bounded by an iron horizon of 
hazard and hardship. During the last year and a half 
three other men from the ranches in my immediate neigh- 
borhood have met their deaths in the course of their 
work. One, a trail boss of the O X, was drowned while 
swimming his herd across a swollen river. Another, one 
of the fancy ropers of the W Bar, was killed while roping 
cattle in a corral ; his saddle turned, the rope twisted 
round him, he was pulled off, and was trampled to death 
by his own horse. 

The fourth man, a cowpuncher named Hamilton, lost 
his life during the last week of October, 1891, in the first 
heavy snowstorm of the season. Yet he was a skilled 
plainsman, on ground he knew well, and just before stray- 
ing himself, he successfully instructed two men who did 
not know the country how to get to camp. They were 
all three with the round-up, and were making a circle 
through the Bad Lands ; the wagons had camped on the 
eastern edge of these Bad Lands, where they merge into 
the prairie, at the head of an old disused road, which led 
about due east from the Little Missouri. It was a gray, 
lowering day, and as darkness came on Hamilton's horse 
played out, and he told his two companions not to wait, 
as it had begun to snow, but to keep on towards the 



In Cowboy Land. 429 

north, skirting some particularly rough buttes, and as 
soon as they struck the road to turn to the right and 
follow it out to the prairie, where they would find camp ; 
he particularly warned them to keep a sharp look-out, so 
as not to pass over the dim trail unawares in the dusk and 
the storm. They followed his advice, and reached camp 
safely ; and after they had left him nobody ever again 
saw him alive. Evidently he himself, plodding north- 
wards, passed over the road without seeing it in the 
gathering gloom ; probably he struck it at some point 
where the ground was bad, and the dim trail in conse- 
quence disappeared entirely, as is the way with these 
prairie roads making them landmarks to be used with 
caution. He must then have walked on and on, over 
rugged hills and across deep ravines, until his horse came 
to a standstill ; he took off its saddle and picketed it to a 
dwarfed ash. Its frozen carcass was found, with the 
saddle near by, two months later. He now evidently 
recognized some landmark, and realized that he had 
passed the road, and was far to the north of the round-up 
wagons ; but he was a resolute, self-confident man, and 
he determined to strike out for a line camp, which he 
knew lay about due east of him, two or three miles out 
on the prairie, on one of the head branches of Knife 
River. Night must have fallen by this time, and he missed 
the camp, probably passing it within less than a mile ; 
but he did pass it, and with it all hopes of life, and walked 
wearily on to his doom, through the thick darkness and 
the driving snow. At last his strength failed, and he lay 
down in the tall grass of a little hollow. Five months 



43 The Wilderness Hunter. 

later, in the early spring, the riders from the line camp 
found his body, resting face downwards, with the forehead 
on the folded arms. 

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

But a few years ago other risks had to be run from 
savage beasts, and from the Indians. Since I have been 
ranching on the Little Missouri, two men have been killed 
by bears in the neighborhood of my range ; and in the 
early years of my residence there, several men living or 
travelling in the country were slain by small war-parties 
of young braves. All the old-time trappers and hunters 
could tell stirring tales of their encounters with Indians. 

My friend, Tazewell Woody, was among the chief 
actors in one of the most noteworthy adventures of this 
kind. He was a very quiet man, and it was exceedingly 
difficult to get him to talk over any of his past experiences ; 
but one day, when he was in high good-humor with me 
for having made three consecutive straight shots at elk, 
he became quite communicative, and I was able to get him 



In Cowboy Land. 431 

to tell me one story which I had long wished to hear from 
his lips, having already heard of it through one of the 
other survivors of the incident. When he found that I 
already knew a good deal old Woody told me the rest. 

It was in the spring of 1875, and Woody and two 
friends were trapping on the Yellowstone. The Sioux 
were very bad at the time and had killed many prospec- 
tors, hunters, cowboys, and settlers ; the whites retaliated 
whenever they got a chance, but, as always in Indian war- 
fare, the sly, lurking, bloodthirsty savages inflicted much 
more loss than they suffered. 

The three men, having a dozen horses with them, 
were camped by the river-side in a triangular patch of 
brush, shaped a good deal like a common flat-iron. On 
reaching camp they started to put out their traps ; and 
when he came back in the evening Woody informed his 
companions that he had seen a great deal of Indian sign, 
and that he believed there were Sioux in the neighbor- 
hood. His companions both laughed at him, assuring 
him that they were not Sioux at all but friendly Crows, 
and that they would be in camp next morning ; " and sure 
enough," said Woody, meditatively, "they were in camp 
next morning." By dawn one of the men went down the 
river to look at some of the traps, while Woody started 
out to where the horses were, the third man remaining in 
camp to get breakfast. Suddenly two shots were heard 
down the river, and in another moment a mounted Indian 
swept towards the horses. Woody fired, but missed him, 
and he drove off five while Woody, running forward, 
succeeded in herding the other seven into camp. Hardly 



43 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

had this been accomplished before the man who had gone 
down the river appeared, out of breath with his desperate 
run, having been surprised by several Indians, and just 
succeeding in making his escape by dodging from bush 
to bush, threatening his pursuers with his rifle. 

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

In a very short while the Indians began closing in on 
them, taking every advantage of cover, and then, both 
from their side of the river and from the opposite bank, 



In Cowboy Land. 433 

opened a perfect fusillade, wasting their cartridges with a 
recklessness which Indians are apt to show when ex- 
cited. The hunters could hear the hoarse commands of 
the chiefs, the war-whoops, and the taunts in broken 
English which some of the warriors hurled at them. Very 
soon all of their horses were killed, and the brush was 
fairly riddled by the incessant volleys ; but the three men 
themselves, lying flat on the ground and well concealed, 
were not harmed. The more daring young warriors then 
began to creep toward the hunters, going stealthily from 
one piece of cover to the next ; and now the whites in 
turn opened fire. They did not shoot recklessly, as did 
their foes, but coolly and quietly, endeavoring to make 
each shot tell. Said Woody : " I only fired seven times 
all day ; I reckoned on getting meat every time I pulled 
trigger." They had an immense advantage over their 
enemies, in that whereas they lay still and entirely con- 
cealed, the Indians of course had to move from cover to 
cover in order to approach, and so had at times to expose 
themselves. When the whites fired at all they fired at a 
man, whether moving or motionless, whom they could 
clearly see, while the Indians could only shoot at the 
smoke, which imperfectly marked the position of their 
unseen foes. In consequence the assailants speedily 
found that it was a task of hopeless danger to try in such 
a manner to close in on three plains veterans, men of iron 
nerve and skilled in the use of the rifle. Yet some of the 
more daring crept up very close to the patch of brush, and 
one actually got inside it, and was killed among the bed- 
ding that lay by the smouldering camp-fire. The wounded 
28 



434 The Wilderness Hunter. 

and such of the dead as did not lie in too exposed posi- 
tions were promptly taken away by their comrades ; but 
seven bodies fell into the hands of the three hunters. I 
asked Woody how many he himself had killed. He said 
he could only be sure of two that he got ; one he shot in 
the head as he peeped over a bush, and the other he shot 
through the smoke as he attempted to rush in. " My, 
how that Indian did yell," said Woody, retrospectively ; 
"he was no great of a Stoic." After two or three hours 
of this deadly skirmishing, which resulted in nothing more 
serious to the whites than in two of them being slightly 
wounded, the Sioux became disheartened by the loss they 
were suffering and withdrew, confining themselves there- 
after to a long range and harmless fusillade. When it was 
dark the three men crept out to the river bed, and taking 
advantage of the pitchy night broke through the circle of 
their foes ; they managed to reach the settlements with- 
out further molestation, having lost everything except 
their rifles. 

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

After my elk hunt in September, 1891, I came out 
through the Yellowstone Park, as I have elsewhere re- 



In Cowboy Land, 435 

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

This turned the conversation upon Indians, and it ap- 
peared that both of our hosts had been actors in Indian 
scrapes which had attracted my attention at the time they 
occurred, as they took place among tribes that I knew 
and in a country which I had sometime visited, either 
when hunting or when purchasing horses for the ranch. 
The first, which occurred to Captain Edwards, happened 
late in 1886, at the time when the Crow Medicine Chief. 



43 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

Sword-Bearer, announced himself as the Messiah of the 
Indian race, during one of the usual epidemics of ghost 
dancing. Sword-Bearer derived his name from always 
wearing a medicine sword that is, a sabre painted red. 
He claimed to possess magic power, and, thanks to the 
performance of many dextrous feats of juggling, and the 
lucky outcome of certain prophecies, he deeply stirred the 
Indians, arousing the young warriors in particular to the 
highest pitch of excitement. They became sullen, began 
to paint, and armed themselves ; and the agent and the 
settlers nearby grew so apprehensive that the troops 
were ordered to go to the reservation. A body of cavalry, 
including Captain Edwards' troop, was accordingly 
marched thither, and found the Crow warriors, mounted 
on their war ponies and dressed in their striking battle- 
garb, waiting on a hill. 

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



In Cowboy Land. 437 

thunder-clouds gathering on the horizon threatened one 
of those cloudbursts of extreme seventy and suddenness 
so characteristic of the plains country. While still trying 
to make arrangements for a parley, a horseman started 
out of the Crow ranks and galloped headlong down 
towards the troops. It was the medicine chief, Sword* 
Bearer. He was painted and in his battle-dress, wearing 
his war-bonnet of floating, trailing eagle feathers, while 
the plumes of the same bird were braided in the mane 
and tail of his fiery little horse. On he came at a gallop 
almost up to the troops and then began to circle around 
them, calling and singing and throwing his crimson sword 
into the air, catching it by the hilt as it fell. Twice he 
rode completely around the soldiers, who stood in uncer- 
tainty, not knowing what to make of his performance, 
and expressly forbidden to shoot at him. Then paying 
no further heed to them he rode back towards the Crows. 
It appears that he had told them that he would ride 
twice around the hostile force, and by his incantations 
would call down rain from heaven, which would make the 
hearts of the white men like water, so that they should 
go back to their homes. Sure enough, while the arrange- 
ments for the parley were still going forward, down came 
the cloudburst, drenching the command and making the 
ground on the hills in front nearly impassable ; and before 
it dried a courier arrived with orders to the troops to go 
back to camp. 

This fulfilment of Sword-Bearer's prophecy of course 
raised his reputation to the zenith and the young men of 
the tribe prepared for war, while the older chiefs, who 



438 The Wilderness Hunter. 

more fully realized the power of the whites, still hung 
back. When the troops next appeared they came upon 
the entire Crow force, the women and children with their 
tepees being off to one side beyond a little stream while 
almost all the warriors of the tribe were gathered in front. 
Sword-Bearer started to repeat his former ride, to the 
intense irritation of the soldiers. Luckily, however, this 
time some of his young men could not be restrained. 
They too began to ride near the troops, and one of them 
was unable to refrain from firing on Captain Edwards' 
troop, which was in the van. This gave the soldiers their 
chance. They instantly responded with a volley, and 
Captain Edwards' troop charged. The fight lasted but a 
minute or two, for Sword-Bearer was struck by a bullet 
and fell, and as he had boasted himself invulnerable, and 
promised that his warriors should be invulnerable also 
if they would follow him, the hearts of the latter became 
as water and they broke in every direction. One of the 
amusing, though irritating, incidents of the affair was to 
see the plumed and painted warriors race headlong for 
the camp, plunge into the stream, wash off their war paint, 
and remove their feathers ; in another moment they would 
be stolidly sitting on the ground, with their blankets over 
their shoulders, rising to greet the pursuing cavalry with 
unmoved composure and calm assurances that they had 
always been friendly and had much disapproved the con- 
duct of the young bucks who had just been scattered on 
the field outside. It was much to the credit of the dis- 
cipline of the army that no bloodshed followed the fight 
proper. The loss to the whites was small. 



In Cowboy Land. 439 

The other incident, related by Lieutenant Pitcher, 
took place in 1890, near Tongue River, in northern 
Wyoming. The command with which he was serving 
was camped near the Cheyenne Reservation. One day 
two young Cheyenne bucks, met one of the government 
herders, and promptly killed him in a sudden fit, half of 
ungovernable blood lust, half of mere ferocious light- 
heartedness. They then dragged his body into the brush 
and left it. The disappearance of the herder of course at- 
tracted attention, and a search was organized by the cav- 
alry. At first the Indians stoutly denied all knowledge of 
the missing man ; but when it became evident that the 
search party would shortly find him, two or three of the 
chiefs joined them, and piloted them to where the body 
lay ; and acknowledged that he had been murdered by 
two of their band, though at first they refused to give 
their names. The commander of the post demanded 
that the murderers be given up. The chiefs said that 
they were very sorry, that this could not be done, but 
that they were willing to pay over any reasonable number 
of ponies to make amends for the death. This offer was 
of course promptly refused, and the commander notified 
them that if they did not surrender the murderers by a 
certain time he would hold the whole tribe responsible 
and would promptly move out and attack them. Upon 
this the chiefs, after holding full counsel with the tribe, told 
the commander that they had no power to surrender the 
murderers, but that the latter had said that sooner than 
see their tribe involved in a hopeless struggle they would 
of their own accord come in and meet the troops any- 



440 The Wilderness Hunter. 

where the latter chose to appoint, and die fighting. To 
this the commander responded : "All right ; let them come 
into the agency in half an hour." The chiefs acquiesced, 
and withdrew. 

Immediately the Indians sent mounted messengers at 
speed from camp to camp, summoning all their people to 
witness the act of fierce self-doom ; and soon the entire 
tribe of Cheyennes, many of them having their faces 
blackened in token of mourning, moved down and took up 
a position on the hill-side close to the agency. At the 
appointed hour both young men appeared in their hand- 
some war dress, galloped to the top of the hill near the 
encampment, and deliberately opened fire on the troops. 
The latter merely fired a few shots to keep the young 
desperadoes off, while Lieutenant Pitcher and a score of 
cavalrymen left camp to make a circle and drive them in ; 
they did not wish to hurt them, but to capture and give 
them over to the Indians, so that the latter might be 
forced themselves to inflict the punishment. However, 
they were unable to accomplish their purpose ; one of the 
young braves went straight at them, firing his rifle and 
wounding the horse of one of the cavalrymen, so that, 
simply in self-defence, the latter had to fire a volley, 
which laid low the assailant ; the other, his horse having 
been shot, was killed in the brush, fighting to the last. 
All the while, from the moment the two doomed braves 
appeared until they fell, the Cheyennes on the hill-side 
had been steadily singing the death chant. When the 
young men had both died, and had thus averted the fate 
which their misdeeds would else have brought upon the 



In Cowboy Land. 441 

tribe, the warriors took their bodies and bore them away 
for burial honors, the soldiers looking on in silence. 
Where the slain men were buried the whites never knew ; 
but all that night they listened to the dismal wailing of 
the dirges with which the tribesmen celebrated their 
gloomy funeral rites. 

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

But I once listened to a goblin story which rather 
impressed me. It was told by a grisled, weather-beaten 
old mountain hunter, named Bauman, who was born and 
had passed all his life on the frontier. He must have 
believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a 
shudder at certain points of the tale ; but he was of 
German ancestry, and in childhood had doubtless been 
saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore, so that 
many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind ; 
besides, he knew well the stories told by the Indian medi- 
cine men in their winter camps, of the snow-walkers, and 
the spectres, and the formless evil beings that haunt the 
forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wanderer 
who after nightfall passes through the regions where they 
lurk ; and it may be that when overcome by the horror of 
the fate that befell his friend, and when oppressed by the 
awful dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both at 
the time and still more in remembrance, weird and elfin 



442 The Wilderness Hunter. 

traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and 
cunning wild beast ; but whether this was so or not, no 
man can say. 

When the event occurred Bauman was still a young 
man, and was trapping with a partner among the moun- 
tains dividing the forks of the Salmon from the head of 
Wisdom River. Not having had much luck, he and his 
partner determined to go up into a particularly wild and 
lonely pass through which ran a small stream said to con- 
tain many beaver. The pass had an evil reputation be- 
cause the year before a solitary hunter who had wandered 
into it was there slain, seemingly by a wild beast, the half- 
eaten remains being afterwards found by some mining pros- 
pectors who had passed his camp only the night before. 

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

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



In Cowboy Land. 443 

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

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

While Bauman was making ready supper, it being 
already dark, his companion began to examine the tracks 
more closely, and soon took a brand from the fire to fol- 
low them up, where the intruder had walked along a game 
trail after leaving the camp. When the brand flickered 
out, he returned and took another, repeating his inspec- 
tion of the footprints very closely. Coming back to the 
fire, he stood by it a minute or two, peering out into the 
darkness, and suddenly remarked : " Bauman, that bear has 
been walking on two legs." Bauman laughed at this, but 
his partner insisted that he was right, and upon again 
examining the tracks with a torch, they certainly did seem 
to be made by but two paws, or feet. However, it was 
too dark to make sure. After discussing whether the 
footprints could possibly be those of a human being, and 
coming to the conclusion that they could not be, the two 



444 The Wilderness Hunter. 

men rolled up in their blankets, and went to sleep under 
the lean-to. 

At midnight Bauman was awakened by some noise, 
and sat up in his blankets. As he did so his nostrils were 
struck by a strong, wild-beast odor, and he caught the 
loom of a great body in the darkness at the mouth of the 
lean-to. Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague, threat- 
ening shadow, but must have missed, for immediately 
afterwards he heard the smashing of the underwood as the 
thing, whatever it was, rushed off into the impenetrable 
blackness of the forest and the night. 

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

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

The men, thoroughly uneasy, gathered a great heap of 
dead logs, and kept up a roaring fire throughout the night, 
one or the other sitting on guard most of the time. About 



In Cowboy Land. 445 

midnight the thing came down through the forest opposite, 
across the brook, and stayed there on the hill-side for 
nearly an hour. They could hear the branches crackle as 
it moved about, and several times it uttered a harsh, 
grating, long-drawn moan, a peculiarly sinister sound. Yet 
it did not venture near the fire. 

In the morning the two trappers, after discussing the 
strange events of the last thirty-six hours, decided that 
they would shouldei their packs and leave the valley that 
afternoon. They were the more ready to do this because 
in spite of seeing a good deal of game sign they had 
caught very little fur. However, it was necessary first to 
go along the line of their traps and gather them, and this 
they started out to do. 

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

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



44 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

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

At last he came to the edge of the little glade where 
the camp lay, and shouted as he approached it, but got no 
answer. The camp fire had gone out, though the thin 
blue smoke was still curling upwards. Near it lay 
the packs, wrapped and arranged. At first Bauman 
could see nobody ; nor did he receive an answer to his 
call. Stepping forward he again shouted, and as he did 
so his eye fell on the body of his friend, stretched beside 
the trunk of a great fallen spruce. Rushing towards it 
the horrified trapper found that the body was still warm, 
but that the neck was broken, while there were four great 
fang marks in the throat. 

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

The unfortunate man, having finished his packing, had 
sat down on the spruce log with his face to the fire, and 
his back to the dense woods, to wait for his companion. 



In Cowboy Land. 447 

While thus waiting, his monstrous assailant, which must 
have been lurking nearby in the woods, waiting for a 
chance to catch one of the adventurers unprepared, came 
silently up from behind, walking with long, noiseless steps, 
and seemingly still on two legs. Evidently unheard, it 
reached the man, and broke his neck by wrenching his 
head back with its forepaws, while it buried its teeth in 
his throat. It had not eaten the body, but apparently 
had romped and gambolled round it in uncouth, ferocious 
glee, occasionally rolling over and over it ; and had then 
fled back into the soundless depths of the woods. 

Bauman, utterly unnerved, and believing that the 
creature with which he had to deal was something either 
half human or half devil, some great goblin-beast, aban- 
doned everything but his rifle and struck off at speed down 
the pass, not halting until he reached the beaver meadows 
where the hobbled ponies were still grazing. Mounting, 
he rode onwards through the night, until far beyond the 
reach of pursuit. 





CHAPTER XXI. 

HUNTING LORE. 

IT has been my good-luck to kill every kind of game 
properly belonging to the United States : though one 
beast which I never had a chance to slay, the jaguar, 
from the torrid South, sometimes comes just across the 
Rio Grande ; nor have I ever hunted the musk-ox and 
polar bear in the boreal wastes where they dwell, sur- 
rounded by the frozen desolation of the uttermost North. 
I have never sought to make large bags, for a hunter 
should not be a game butcher. It is always lawful to kill 
dangerous or noxious animals, like the bear, cougar, and 
wolf ; but other game should only be shot when there is 
need of the meat, or for the sake of an unusually fine 
trophy. Killing a reasonable number of bulls, bucks, or 
rams does no harm whatever to the species ; to slay half 
the males of any kind of game would not stop the natural 
increase, and they yield the best sport, and are the legiti- 
mate objects of the chase. Cows, does, and ewes, on the 
contrary, should only be killed (unless barren) in case of 
necessity ; during my last five years' hunting I have killed 
but five one by a mischance, and the other four for the 

table. 

448 



Hunting Lore. 449 

From its very nature, the life of the hunter is in most 
places evanescent ; and when it has vanished there can 
be no real substitute in old settled countries. Shooting 
in a private game preserve is but a dismal parody ; the 
manliest and healthiest features of the sport are lost with 
the change of conditions. We need, in the interest of the 
community at large, a rigid system of game laws rigidly 
enforced, and it is not only admissible, but one may 
almost say necessary, to establish, under the control of 
the State, great national forest reserves, which shall also 
be breeding grounds and nurseries for wild game ; but I 
should much regret to see grow up in this country a sys- 
tem of large private game preserves, kept for the enjoy- 
ment of the very rich. One of the chief attractions of 
the life of the wilderness is its rugged and stalwart democ- 
racy ; there every man stands for what he actually is, and 
can show himself to be. 

There are, in different parts of our country, chances 
to try so many various kinds of hunting, with rifle or with 
horse and hound, that it is nearly impossible for one man 
to have experience of them all. There are many hunts I 
long hoped to take, but never did and never shall ; they 
must be left for men with more time, or for those whose 
homes are nearer to the hunting grounds. I have never 
seen a grisly roped by the riders of the plains, nor a black 
bear killed with the knife and hounds in the southern 
canebrakes ; though at one time I had for many years a 
standing invitation to witness this last feat on a plantation 
in Arkansas. The friend who gave it, an old backwoods 

planter, at one time lost almost all his hogs by the nu- 
29 



45 The Wilderness Hunter. 

merous bears who infested his neighborhood. He took 
a grimly humorous revenge each fall by doing his winter 
killing among the bears instead of among the hogs they 
had slain ; for as the cold weather approached he regu- 
larly proceeded to lay in a stock of bear-bacon, scouring 
the canebrakes in a series of systematic hunts, bringing 
the quarry to bay with the help of a big pack of hard- 
fighting mongrels, and then killing it with his long, 
broad-bladed bowie. 

Again, I should like to make a trial at killing peccaries 
with the spear, whether on foot or on horseback, and with 
or without dogs. I should like much to repeat the expe- 
rience of a friend who cruised northward through Bering 
Sea, shooting walrus and polar bear; and that of two 
other friends who travelled with dog-sleds to the Barren 
Grounds, in chase of the caribou, and of that last survivor 
of the Ice Age, the strange musk-ox. Once in a while it 
must be good sport to shoot alligators by torchlight in 
the everglades of Florida or the bayous of Louisiana. 

If the big-game hunter, the lover of the rifle, has a 
taste for kindred field sports with rod and shotgun, many 
are his chances for pleasure, though perhaps of a less in- 
tense kind. The wild turkey really deserves a place beside 
the deer ; to kill a wary old gobbler with the small-bore 
rifle, by fair still-hunting, is a triumph for the best sports- 
man. Swans, geese, and sandhill cranes likewise may 
sometimes be killed with the rifle ; but more often all 
three, save perhaps the swan, must be shot over decoys. 
Then there is prairie-chicken shooting on the fertile grain 
prairies of the middle West, from Minnesota to Texas ; 



Hunting Lore. 45 l 

and killing canvas-backs from behind blinds, with the help 
of that fearless swimmer, the Chesapeake Bay dog. In 
Californian mountains and valleys live the beautiful 
plumed quails, and who does not know their cousin bob- 
white, the bird of the farm, with his cheery voice and 
friendly ways ? For pure fun, nothing can surpass a 
night scramble through the woods after coon and possum. 

The salmon, whether near Puget Sound or the St. 
Lawrence, is the royal fish ; his only rival is the giant of the 
warm Gulf waters, the silver-mailed tarpon ; while along 
the Atlantic coast the great striped bass likewise yields 
fine sport to the men of rod and reel. Every hunter of 
the mountains and the northern woods knows the many 
kinds of spotted trout ; for the black bass he cares less ; 
and least of all for the sluggish pickerel, and his big brother 
of the Great Lakes, the muscallonge. 

Yet the sport yielded by rod and smooth-bore is really 
less closely kin to the strong pleasures so beloved by the 
hunter who trusts in horse and rifle than are certain other 
outdoor pastimes, of the rougher and hardier kind. Such 
a pastime is snow-shoeing, whether with webbed rackets, 
in the vast northern forests, or with skees, on the bare 
slopes of the Rockies. Such is mountaineering, especially 
when joined with bold exploration of the unknown. 
Most of our mountains are of rounded shape, and though 
climbing them is often hard work, it is rarely difficult or 
dangerous, save in bad weather, or after a snowfall. But 
there are many of which this is not true ; the Tetons, for 
instance, and various glacier-bearing peaks in the North- 
west ; while the lofty, snow-clad ranges of British Colum- 



45 2 The Wilderness Hunter. 

bia and Alaska offer one of the finest fields in the world 
for the daring cragsman. Mountaineering is among the 
manliest of sports ; and it is to be hoped that some of 
our young men with a taste for hard work and adventure 
among the high hills will attempt the conquest of these 
great untrodden mountains of their own continent. As 
with all pioneer work, there would be far more discom- 
fort and danger, far more need to display resolution, hardi- 
hood, and wisdom in such an attempt than in any expedi- 
tion on well known and historic ground like the Swiss 
Alps ; but the victory would be a hundred-fold better 
worth winning. 

The dweller or sojourner in the wilderness who most 
keenly loves and appreciates his wild surroundings, and 
all their sights and sounds, is the man who also loves and 
appreciates the books which tell of them. 

Foremost of all American writers on outdoor life is 
John Burroughs ; and I can scarcely suppose that any 
man who cares for existence outside the cities would will- 
ingly be without anything that he has ever written. To 
the naturalist, to the observer and lover of nature, he is 
of course worth many times more than any closet sys- 
tematist ; and though he has not been very much in really 
wild regions, his pages so thrill with the sights and sounds 
of outdoor life that nothing by any writer who is a mere 
professional scientist or a mere professional hunter can 
take their place, or do more than supplement them for 
scientist and hunter alike would do well to remember that 
before a book can take the highest rank in any particular 
line it must also rank high in literature proper. Of 



Hunting Lore. 453 

course, for us Americans, Burroughs has a peculiar charm 
that he cannot have for others, no matter how much they, 
too, may like him ; for what he writes of is our own, and 
he calls to our minds memories and associations that are 
very dear. His books make us homesick when we read 
them in foreign lands ; for they spring from our soil as 
truly as Snowbound or The Biglow Papers? 

As a woodland writer, Thoreau comes second only to 
Burroughs. 

For natural history in the narrower sense there are 
still no better books than Audubon and Bachman's Mam- 
mals and Audubon's Birds. There are also good works 
by men like Coues and Bendire ; and if Hart Merriam, 
of the Smithsonian, will only do for the mammals of the 
United States what he has already done for those of the 
Adirondacks, we shall have the best book of its kind in 
existence. Nor, among less technical writings, should 
one overlook such essays as those of Maurice Thompson 
and Olive Thorne Miller. 

There have been many American hunting-books ; but 
too often they have been very worthless, even when the 
writers possessed the necessary first-hand knowledge, and 
the rare capacity of seeing the truth. Few of the old- 

J I am under many obligations to the writings of Mr. Burroughs (though there 
are one or two of his theories from which I should dissent) ; and there is a piece of 
indebtedness in this very volume of which I have only just become aware. In my 
chapter on the prong-buck there is a paragraph which will at once suggest to any lover 
of Burroughs some sentences in his essay on " Birds and Poets." Ldid not notice the 
resemblance until happening to reread the essay after my own chapter was written, 
and at the time I had no idea that I was borrowing from anybody, the more so as I 
was thinking purely of western wilderness life and western wilderness game, with 
which I knew Mr. Burroughs had never been familiar. I have concluded to leave the 
paragraph in with this acknowledgment. 



454 The Wilderness Hunter. 

time hunters ever tried to write of what they had seen 
and done ; and of those who made the effort fewer still 
succeeded. Innate refinement and the literary faculty 
that is, the faculty of writing a thoroughly interesting and 
readable book, full of valuable information may exist 
in uneducated people ; but if they do not, no amount of 
experience in the field can supply their lack. However, 
we have had some good works on the chase and habits 
of big game, such as Caton's Deer and Antelope of 
America, Van Dyke's Still-Hunter, Elliott's Carolina 
Sports, and Dodge's Hunting Grounds of the Great 
West, besides the Century Company's Sport with Rod 
and Gun. Then there is Catlin's book, and the journals 
of the explorers from Lewis and Clarke down ; and occa- 
sional volumes on outdoor life, such as Theodore Win- 
throp's Canoe and Saddle, and Clarence King's Mountain- 
eering in the Sierra Nevada. 

Two or three of the great writers of American liter- 
ature, notably Parkman in his Oregon Trail and, with 
less interest, Irving in his Trip on the Prairies have 
written with power and charm of life in the American 
wilderness ; but no one has arisen to do for the far west- 
ern plainsmen and Rocky Mountain trappers quite what 
Hermann Melville did for the South Sea whaling folk in 
Omoo and Moby Dick. The best description of these 
old-time dwellers among the mountains and on the plains 
is to be found in a couple of good volumes by the Eng- 
lishman Ruxton. However, the backwoodsmen proper, 
both in their forest homes and when they first began to 
venture out on the prairie, have been portrayed by a master 



Hunting Lore. 455 

hand. In a succession of wonderfully drawn characters, 
ranging from " Aaron Thousandacres " to " Ishmael 
Bush," Fenimore Cooper has preserved for always the 
likenesses of these stark pioneer settlers and backwoods 
hunters ; uncouth, narrow, hard, suspicious, but with all 
the virile virtues of a young and masterful race, a race of 
mighty breeders, mighty fighters, mighty commonwealth 
builders. As for Leatherstocking, he is one of the undy- 
ing men of story ; grand, simple, kindly, pure-minded, 
staunchly loyal, the type of the steel-thewed and iron- 
willed hunter-warrior. 

Turning from the men of fiction to the men of real life, 
it is worth noting how many of the leaders among our 
statesmen and soldiers have sought strength and pleasure 
in the chase, or in kindred vigorous pastimes. Of course 
field sports, or at least the wilder kinds, which entail the 
exercise of daring, and the endurance of toil and hardship, 
and which lead men afar into the forests and mountains, 
stand above athletic exercises ; exactly as among the lat- 
ter, rugged outdoor games, like football and lacrosse, are 
much superior to mere gymnastics and calisthenics. 

With a few exceptions the men among us who have 
stood foremost in political leadership, like their fellows who 
have led our armies, have been of stalwart frame and sound 
bodily health. When they sprang from the frontier folk, 
as did Lincoln and Andrew Jackson, they usually hunted 
much in their youth, if only as an incident in the prolonged 
warfare waged by themselves and their kinsmen against 
the wild forces of nature. Old Israel Putnam's famous 
wolf-killing feat comes strictly under this head. Doubtless 



45 6 The Wilderness Hunter. 

he greatly enjoyed the excitement of the adventure ; but 
he went into it as a matter of business, not of sport. The 
wolf, the last of its kind in his neighborhood, had taken 
heavy toll of the flocks of himself and his friends ; when 
they found the deep cave in which it had made its den it 
readily beat off the dogs sent in to assail it ; and so Putnam 
crept in himself, with his torch and his flint-lock musket, 
and shot the beast where it lay. 

When such men lived in long settled and thickly peopled 
regions, they needs had to accommodate themselves to the 
conditions and put up with humbler forms of sport. Web- 
ster, like his great rival for Whig leadership, Henry Clay, 
cared much for horses, dogs, and guns; but though an 
outdoor man he had no chance to develop a love for big- 
game hunting. He was, however, very fond of the rod and 
shotgun. Mr. Cabot Lodge recently handed me a letter 
written to his grandfather by Webster, and describing a 
day's trout fishing. It may be worth giving for the sake 
of the writer, and because of the fine heartiness and zest 
in enjoyment which it shows : 

SANDWICH, June 4, 
Saturday mor'g 

6 o'clock 
DEAR SIR : 

I send you eight or nine trout, which I took yesterday, in that chief 
of all brooks, Mashpee. I made a long day of it, and with good success, 
for me. John was with me, full of good advice, but did not fish nor 
carry a rod. 

I took 26 trouts, all weighing . . . lylb. i2oz. 
The largest (you have him) weighed at Crokers 2 " 4 " 

The 5 largest 3 " 5 " 

The eight largest 1 1 " 8 " 

I got these by following your advice ; that is, by careful & thorough 
fishing of the difficult places, which others do not fish. The brook is 



Hunting Lore. 457 

fished, nearly every day. I entered it, not so high up as we sometimes 
do, between 7 & 8 o'clock, & at 12 was hardly more than half "way down 
to the meeting house path. You see I did not hurry. The day did not 
hold out to fish the whole brook properly. The largest trout I took at 
3 P.M. (you see I am precise) below the meeting house, under a bush on 
the right bank, two or three rods below the large beeches. It is singular, 
that in the whole day, I did not take two trouts out of the same hole. I 
found both ends, or parts of the Brook about equally productive. Small 
fish not plenty, in either. So many hooks get every thing which is not 
hid away in the manner large trouts take care of themselves. I hooked 
one, which I suppose to be larger than any which I took, as he broke 
my line, by fair pulling, after I had pulled him out of his den, & was 
playing him in fair open water. 

Of what I send you, I pray you keep what you wish yourself, send 
three to Mr. Ticknor, & three to Dr. Warren ; or two of the larger ones, 
to each will perhaps be enough & if there be any left, there is Mr. 
Callender & Mr. Blake, & Mr. Davis, either of them not " averse to fish." 
Pray let Mr. Davis see them especially the large one. As he promised 
to come, & fell back, I desire to excite his regrets. I hope you will 
have the large one on your own table. 

The day was fine not another hook in the Brook. John steady as 
a judge and every thing else exactly right. I never, on the whole, had 
so agreeable a day's fishing tho the result, in pounds or numbers, is 
not great ; nor ever expect such another. 

Please preserve this letter but rehearse not these particulars to the 
uninitiated. 

I think the Limerick not the best hook. Whether it pricks too soon, 
or for what other reason, I found, or thought I found, the fish more 
likely to let go his hold, from this, than from the old fashioned hook. 

Yrs. 
H. CABOT, Esq. D. WEBSTER. 

The greatest of Americans, Washington, was very fond 
of hunting, both with rifle or fowling-piece, and especially 
with horse, horn, and hound. Essentially the representative 
of all that is best in our national life, standing high as a 
general, high as a statesman, and highest of all as a man, 
he could never have been what he was had he not taken 
delight in feats of hardihood, of daring, and of bodily 



458 The Wilderness Hunter. 

prowess. He was strongly drawn to those field sports 
which demand in their follower the exercise of the manly 
virtues courage, endurance, physical address. As a young 
man, clad in the distinctive garb of the backwoodsman, the 
fringed and tasselled hunting-shirt, he led the life of a 
frontier surveyor ; and like his fellow adventurers in wil- 
derness exploration and Indian campaigning, he was often 
forced to trust to the long rifle for keeping his party in 
food. When at his home, at Mount Vernon, he hunted 
from simple delight in the sport. 

His manuscript diaries, preserved in the State Depart- 
ment at Washington, are full of entries concerning his 
feats in the chase ; almost all of them naturally falling in 
the years between the ending of the French war and the 
opening of the Revolutionary struggle against the British, 
or else in the period separating his service as Command- 
er-in-chief of the Continental armies from his term of 
office as President of the Republic. These entries are 
scattered through others dealing with his daily duties in 
overseeing his farm and mill, his attendance at the Vir- 
ginia House of Burgesses, his journeys, the drill of the 
local militia, and all the various interests of his many-sided 
life. Fond though he was of hunting, he was wholly in- 
capable of the career of inanity led by those who make 
sport, not a manly pastime, but the one serious business 
of their lives 

The entries in the diaries are short, and are couched 
in the homely vigorous English, so familiar to the readers 
of Washington's journals and private letters. Sometimes 
they are brief jottings in reference to shooting trips ; such 



Hunting Lore. 459 

as : " Rid out with my gun " ; " went pheasant hunting " ; 
" went ducking," and " went a gunning up the Creek." But 
far more often they are : " Rid out with my hounds," " went 
a fox hunting," or "went a hunting." In their perfect 
simplicity and good faith they are strongly characteristic 
of the man. He enters his blank days and failures as 
conscientiously as his red-letter days of success ; recording 
with equal care on one day, " Fox hunting with Captain 
Posey catch a Fox," and another, " Went a hunting with 
Lord Fairfax . . . catched nothing." 

Occasionally he began as early as August and contin- 
ued until April ; and while he sometimes made but eight 
or ten hunts in a season, at others he made as many in a 
month. Often he hunted from Mt. Vernon, going out 
once or twice a week, either alone or with a party of his 
friends and neighbors ; and again he would meet with 
these same neighbors at one of their houses, and devote 
several days solely to the chase. The country was still 
very wild, and now and then game was encountered with 
which the fox-hounds proved unable to cope ; as witness 
entries like: "found both a Bear and a Fox, but got 
neither " ; " went a hunting . . . started a Deer & then a 
Fox but got neither"; and "Went a hunting and after 
trailing a fox a good while the Dogs Raized a Deer & ran 
out of the Neck with it & did not some of them at least 
come home till the next day." If it was a small animal, how- 
ever, it was soon accounted for. " Went a Hunting . . . 
catched a Rakoon but never found a Fox." 

The woods were so dense and continuous that it was 
often impossible for the riders to keep close to the hounds 



460 The Wilderness Hunter. 

throughout the run ; though in one or two of the best 
covers, as the journal records, Washington " directed 
paths to be cut for Fox Hunting." This thickness of the 
timber made it difficult to keep the hounds always under 
control ; and there are frequent allusions to their going 
off on their own account, as "Joined some dogs that were 
self hunting." Sometimes the hounds got so far away 
that it was impossible to tell whether they had killed or 
not, the journal remarking " catched nothing that we know 
of," or " found a fox at the head of the blind Pocoson which 
we suppose was killed in an hour but could not find it." 

Another result of this density and continuity of cover 
was the frequent recurrence of days of ill success. There 
are many such entries as : " Went Fox hunting, but started 
nothing"; "Went a hunting, but catched nothing"; 
"found nothing"; "found a Fox and lost it." Often 
failure followed long and hard runs: "Started a Fox, 
run him four hours, took the Hounds off at night"; 
" found a Fox and run it 6 hours and then lost " ; " Went 
a hunting above Darrells . . . found a fox by two 
Dogs but lost it upon joining the Pack." In the season 
of 1772-73 Washington hunted eighteen days and killed 
nine foxes ; and though there were seasons when he was 
out much more often, this proportion of kills to runs was 
if anything above the average. At the beginning of 1 768 
he met with a series of blank days which might well have 
daunted a less patient and persevering hunter. In Jan- 
uary and the early part of February he was out nine 
times without getting a thing ; but his diary does not con- 
tain a word of disappointment or surprise, each successive 



Hunting Lore. 461 

piece of ill-luck being entered without comment, even 
when one day he met some more fortunate friends "who 
had just catched 2 foxes." At last, on February i2th,_he 
himself " catched two foxes" ; the six or eight gentlemen 
of the neighborhood who made up the field all went home 
with him to Mt. Vernon, to dine and pass the night, and 
in the hunt of the following day they repeated the feat of 
a double score. In the next seven days' hunting he killed 
four times. 

The runs of course varied greatly in length ; on one 
day he " found a bitch fox at Piney Branch and killed it in 
an hour" ; on another he " killed a Dog fox after having 
him on foot three hours & hard running an hour and a 
qr." ; and on yet another he " catched a fox with a bobd 
Tail & cut ears after 7 hours chase in which most of the 
Dogs were worsted." Sometimes he caught his fox in 
thirty-five minutes, and again he might run it nearly the 
whole day in vain ; the average run seems to have been 
from an hour and a half to three hours. Sometimes 
the entry records merely the barren fact of the run ; at 
others a few particulars are given, with homespun, telling 
directness, as : " Went a hunting with Jacky Custis and 
catched a Bitch Fox after three hours chace founded it 
on ye. ck. by I. Soals " ; or " went a Fox hunting with Lund 
Washington took the drag of a fox by Isaac Gates & 
carrd. it tolerably well to the old Glebe then touched now 
and then upon a cold scent till we came into Col. Fair- 
faxes Neck where we found about half after three upon the 
Hills just above Accotinck Creek after running till quite 
Dark took off the Dogs and came home." 



4 62 The Wilderness Hunter. 

The foxes were doubtless mostly of the gray kind, and 
besides going to holes they treed readily. In January, 
1770, he was out seven days, killing four foxes ; and two 
of the entries in the journal relate to foxes which treed ; 
one, on the loth, being, " I went a hunting in the Neck 
and visited the plantn. there found and killed a bitch fox 
after treeing it 3 t. chasg. it abt. 3 hrs.," and the other, on 
the 23d : " Went a hunting after breakfast & found a Fox 
at muddy hole & killed her (it being a bitch) after a 
chase of better than two hours and after treeing her twice 
the last of which times she fell dead out of the Tree after 
being therein sevl. minutes apparently." In April, 1769, 
he hunted four days, and on every occasion the fox treed. 
April 7th, " Dog fox killed, ran an hour & treed twice." 
April i ith, " Went a fox hunting and took a fox alive after 
running him to a Tree brot him home." April i2th, 
"Chased the above fox an hour & 45 minutes when he 
treed again after which we lost him." April i3th, 
"Killed a dog fox after treeing him in 35 minutes." 

Washington continued his fox-hunting until, in the 
spring of 1 775, the guns of the minute-men in Massachusetts 
called him to the command of the Revolutionary soldiery. 
When the eight weary years of campaigning were over, 
he said good-by to the war-worn veterans whom he had 
led through defeat and disaster to ultimate triumph, and 
became once more a Virginia country gentleman. Then 
he took up his fox-hunting with as much zest as ever. 
The entries in his journal are now rather longer, and go 
more into detail than formerly. Thus, on December 1 2th, 
1785, he writes that after an early breakfast he went on a 



Hunting Lore. 463 

hunt and found a fox at half after ten, " being first plagued 
with the dogs running hogs," followed on his drag for some 
time, then ran him hard for an hour, when there came a 
fault ; but when four dogs which had been thrown out 
rejoined the pack they put the fox up afresh, and after 
fifty minutes' run killed him in an open field, " every Rider 
& every Dog being present at the Death." With his 
usual alternations between days like this, and days of ill- 
luck, he hunted steadily every season until his term of 
private life again drew to a close and he was called to the 
headship of the nation he had so largely helped to found. 

In a certain kind of fox-hunting lore there is much 
reference to a Warwickshire squire who, when the Parlia- 
mentary and Royalist armies were forming for the battle 
at Edgehill, was discovered between the hostile lines, 
unmovedly drawing the covers for a fox. Now, this placid 
sportsman should by rights have been slain offhand by 
the first trooper who reached him, whether Cavalier or 
Roundhead. He had mistaken means for ends, he had 
confounded the healthful play which should fit a man for 
needful work with the work itself ; and mistakes of this 
kind are sometimes criminal. Hardy sports of the field 
offer the best possible training for war ; but they become 
contemptible when indulged in while the nation is at 
death-grips with her enemies. 

It was not in Washington's strong nature to make such 
an error. Nor yet, on the other hand, was he likely to 
undervalue either the pleasure, or the real worth of out- 
door sports. The qualities of heart, mind, and body, 
which made him delight in the hunting-field, and which 



464 The Wilderness Hunter. 

he there exercised and developed, stood him in good stead 
in many a long campaign and on many a stricken field ; 
they helped to build that stern capacity for leadership in 
war which he showed alike through the bitter woe of the 
winter at Valley Forge, on the night when he ferried his 
men across the half-frozen Delaware to the overthrow of 
the German mercenaries at Trenton, and in the brilliant 
feat of arms whereof the outcome was the decisive victory 
of Yorktown. 





APPENDIX. 

IN this volume I have avoided repeating what was contained 
in either of my former books, the Hunting Trips of a 
Ranchman and Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. For 
many details of life and work in the cattle country I must 
refer the reader to these two volumes ; and also for more full 
accounts of the habits and methods of hunting such game as deer 
and antelope. As far as I know, the description in my Ranch 
Life of the habits and the chase of the mountain sheep is the 
only moderately complete account thereof that has ever been 
published. The five game-heads figured in this volume are 
copied exactly from the originals, now in my home ; the animals 
were, of course, shot by myself. 

There have been many changes, both in my old hunting- 
grounds and my old hunting-friends, since I first followed the 
chase in the far western country. Where the buffalo and the 
Indian ranged, along the Little Missouri, the branded herds of 
the ranchmen now graze ; the scene of my elk-hunt at Two Ocean 
Pass is now part of the National Forest Reserve ; settlers and 
miners have invaded the ground where I killed bear and moose ; 
and steamers ply on the lonely waters of Kootenai Lake. Of my 
hunting companions some are alive ; others among them my 
staunch and valued friend, Will Dow, and crabbed, surly old 
Hank Griffen are dead ; while yet others have drifted away, 
and I know not what has become of them. 

I have made no effort to indicate the best kind of camp kit 
for hunting, for the excellent reason that it depends so much 

465 



466 The Wilderness Hunter. 

upon the kind of trip taken, and upon the circumstances of the 
person taking it. The hunting trip may be made with a pack- 
train, or with a wagon, or with a canoe, or on foot ; and the 
hunter may have half a dozen attendants, or he may go abso- 
lutely alone. I have myself made trips under all of these circum- 
stances. At times I have gone with two or three men, several 
tents, and an elaborate apparatus for cooking, cases of canned 
goods, and the like. On the other hand, I have made trips on 
horseback, with nothing whatsoever beyond what I had on, save 
my oil-skin slicker, a metal cup, and some hardtack, tea, and salt 
in the saddle pockets; and I have gone for a week or two's 
journey on foot, carrying on my shoulders my blanket, a frying- 
pan, some salt, a little flour, a small chunk of bacon, and a 
hatchet. So it is with dress. The clothes should be stout, of a 
neutral tint ; the hat should be soft, without too large a brim ; the 
shoes heavy, and the soles studded with small nails, save when 
moccasins or rubber-soled shoes are worn ; but within these limits 
there is room for plenty of variation. Avoid, however, the so- 
called deer-stalker's cap, which is an abomination ; its peaked 
brim giving no protection whatsoever to the eyes when facing 
the sun quartering, a position in which many shots must be taken. 
In very cold regions, fur coats, caps, and mittens, and all-wool 
underclothing are necessary. I dislike rubber boots when they 
can possibly be avoided. In hunting in snow in the winter I use 
the so-called German socks and felt overshoes where possible. 
One winter I had an ermine cap made. It was very good for 
peeping over the snowy ridge crests when game was on the other 
side ; but, except when the entire landscape was snow-covered, 
it was an unmitigated nuisance. In winter, webbed snow-shoes 
are used in the thick woods, and skees in the open country. 

There is an endless variety of opinion about rifles, and all 
that can be said with certainty is that any good modern rifle will 
do. It is the man behind the rifle that counts, after the weapon 
has reached a certain stage of perfection. One of my friends 



Appendix. 467 

invariably uses an old Government Springfield, a 45-calibre, with 
an ounce bullet. Another cares for nothing but the 40-90 Sharps', 
a weapon for which I myself have much partiality. Another 
uses always the old 45-calibre Sharps', and yet another the~4f- 
calibre Remington. Two of the best bear and elk hunters I know 
prefer the 32- and 38-calibre Marlin's, with long cartridges, 
weapons with which I myself would not undertake to produce 
any good results. Yet others prefer pieces of very large calibre. 
The amount of it is that each one of these guns possesses some 
excellence which the others lack, but which is in most cases 
atoned for by some corresponding defect. Simplicity of mechan- 
ism is very important, but so is rapidity of fire ; and it is hard to 
get both of them developed to the highest degree in the same 
piece. In the same way, flatness of trajectory, penetration, range, 
shock, and accuracy are all qualities which must be attained ; but 
to get one in perfection usually means the sacrifice of some of 
the rest. For instance, other things being equal, the smallest 
calibre has the greatest penetration, but gives the least shock ; 
while a very flat trajectory, if acquired by heavy charges of pow- 
der, means the sacrifice of accuracy. Similarly, solid and hollow 
pointed bullets have, respectively, their merits and demerits. 
There is no use of dogmatizing about weapons. Some which 
prove excellent for particular countries and kinds of hunting are 
useless in others. 

There seems to be no doubt, judging from the testimony of 
sportsmen in South Africa and in India, that very heavy calibre 
double-barrelled rifles are best for use in the dense jungles and 
against the thick-hided game of those regions ; but they are of 
very little value with us. In 1882 one of the buffalo hunters on 
the Little Missouri obtained from some Englishman a double- 
barrelled ten-bore rifle of the kind used against rhinoceros, buffalo, 
and elephant in the Old World ; but it proved very inferior to 
the 40- and 45-calibre Sharps' buffalo guns when used under the 
conditions of American buffalo hunting, the tremendous shock 



468 



The Wilderness Hunter. 



given by the bullet not compensating for the gun's great relative 
deficiency in range and accuracy, while even the penetration was 
inferior at ordinary distances. It is largely also a matter of indi- 
vidual taste. At one time I possessed a very expensive double- 
barrelled 500 Express, by one of the crack English makers ; but 
I never liked the gun, and could not do as well with it as with 
my repeater, which cost barely a sixth as much. So one day I 
handed it to a Scotch friend, who was manifestly ill at ease with 
a Winchester exactly like my own. He took to the double-barrel 
as naturally as I did to the repeater, and did excellent work with 
it. Personally, I have always preferred the Winchester. I now 
use a 45-90, with my old buffalo gun, a 40-90 Sharps', as spare 
rifle. Both, of course, have specially tested barrels, and are 
stocked and sighted to suit myself. 



INDEX 



Accidents to the ranch wagon, 46 ; to Beaver Dick, 182 



cowboys, 427 

Americans in the wilderness, 44 
American, the, wilderness, I ; hunting- 
books, 454 

Animal, 143 ; superstition of, 145 
Animals, legitimate killing of, 448 
Antelope, 4, 17, 56, 62 ; enemies of, 73 ; 
curiosity of, 74 ; winter haunts of, 76 ; 
characteristics of, 95 
Army, the regular, and hunting, 13 

Bad Lands, view of the, 28 

Battle ground, 112 

Bauman's goblin story, 441 

Bear, the black, 17 ; the grisly, 17 
charged by a, 138 ; shooting a, 138 
species of, 267 ; old hunters on, 266 
cattle-killing by, 273 ; prey on each 
other, 280 

Bear (the black), where found, 255 ; 
hunted with dogs, 257 ; trapping, 260 ; 
feed of, 262 ; size of, 264 

Bear (the grisly), 265 ; size of, 269 ; hab- 
its of, 270 ; fond of fish, 281 ; food of, 
282 ; haunts of, 285 ; rutting season, 
286 ; cubs, 287 ; hunting with dogs, 
290 ; stalking, 294 ; hunting, 296 ; 
charged by, 305 ; a dangerous antago- 
nist, 307 ; ways of fighting, 314 

Bears, modes of hunting, 287 ; shooting 
trapped, 289 ; attacks by, 327, 330 ; 
lassoing, 332 

Bear-trapper, danger to, 290 



Big Hole Basin, climate of, 113 

Bighorn, sheep, 17, 49 ; tracks of the, 
103 ; of the Bad Lands, 104 ; rutting 
season of, 104 ; haunts of, 104 ; re, 
quirements of a hunter of the, 104 ; 
stalking, 106-109 wariness of, 109 

Bison, tracking a band of, 250 ; shooting 
a bull, 253 

Boone, Daniel, 6 

Branding cattle, 25 

Bucker, a bad, 41 

Buffalo Bill's cowboys, 381 

Buffalo, the American, last herd of, II, 
13, 14 ; vast herds of, 230 ; slaughter 
of, 231 ; stampede of, 241 ; stalking, 
240 ; charge of, 243 ; mountain, 247 

Buffalo hunt of Elliott Roosevelt, 232 

Buffaloes, Gen. W. H. Walker's experi- 
ence with, 245 

Burroughs, John, 452 

Bull-dog flies, 1 1 5 

Calf wrestlers, 26 

California Joe, 319 

Camp, gossip of a, 58 ; returning to, 151 

Camping out, 48 

Camp-kit, a good, 180 

" Calling," hunting by, 218 

Caribou, the woodland, 16 ; signs of the, 
147 ; tracks of the, 148 ; shooting a, 
150; the author's first hunt for, 152; 
the habits of the, 154 ; hide of, 214 

Carson, Kit, 9 



469 



470 



Index. 



Cattle, guarding of, at night, 59 ; brand- 
ing of, 25 ; killing by bears, 273 ; the 
pursuit of wild, 350 

Cheyenne Indians, death of two, 440 

Chickaree, the, 172 

Chipmunk, the, 172 

" Circle riding," 61 

Clarke, George Rogers, 7 

Clay, Col. Cecil, 220 

Cock, the chaparral, 349 

Columbian, the, blacktail, 53 ; haunts of, 

54 

Cougar, the, 17 ; difficulty in hunting, 
335 ; should be hunted with dogs, 338 ; 
habits of, 341, 343 ; haunts of, 342 ; 
seldom attacks man, 343 ; cases of at- 
tacks on man, 345 ; Trescott on, 346, 

347 

Cowboys, dress of, 58 ; salutation of, 
58 ; general character of, 413 ; acci- 
dents to, 427 

Cowley, Mr., 366 

Coyote, see Wolf 

Crockett, Davy, 8 

Crow, Clarke's, 173; Indians, 436 

"Crusting," 225 

' Cut," the, 25 

Deer, the whitetail, 16, 37, 50, 53 ; the 
blacktail, or mule, 16, 29-31, 33, 35 ; 
tracks of, 16 ; lying close, 31 ; Eu- 
ropean red, 170 

Desert region, 2 

Dow, George, 312 

Dow, Will, 168 

Dugout, a night at a, 80 

Eagle, the war, 70-72 

Edwards, Capt. Frank, 436 

Elk, venison as a diet, 175 ; the smell of, 

190 ; stalking a bull elk, 191 ; hint on 

shooting, 192 ; a giant, 192 
Elk-hunting the most attractive of sports, 

201 

Elk-trails, peculiarity of, 189 
Emigrant train, an, 82 

Famine, a meat, 34 

Fare, the, at the ranch house, 20 



Farmers, the frontier, 12 

Ferguson, Robert Munro, 34, 48. 83, 193 

Ferret, the plains, 70 

Ferris, Sylvane, 35, 48, 49 

" Filemaker," jump of, 374 

Fire, a prairie, 83 

Fire hunting, 38 

Fisher, the, 172 

Fool-hen, the, see Spruce Grouse 

Forest, sounds in the, 146 

Fowl, sage, 112 

Fox-hunting as a sport, 377 

Frio, a ranch on the, 349 

Frontiersmen not superstitious, 441 

Game found in American wilderness, 4 ; 
a comparison of, 169 ; game country, 
177 

Goat-herder, a Mexican, 355 

Goat, the White, 17, in ; shooting a, 
119, 124 ; flavor of, 125 ; modes of 
hunting, 125 ; stupidity of, 126 ; ap- 
pearance of, 127 ; habits of, 127 ; not 
decreasing in numbers, 129 ; an easy 
prey, 129 ; haunts of, 130 

Goblin story, a, 441 

Griffin, Hank, 206, 302 

Grouse, spruce, 116 ; ruffled, 117 ; snow, 
124 

Hampton, Gen. Wade, a bear killer, 
258, 399 

Herbert, Mr. H. L., 374 

Hofer, Elwood, 179, 280 

Hornaday, Mr., 220, 249 

Horses, driving loose, 56 

Hounds, not used by early hunters, 361 ; 
the greyhound, 362 ; scratch packs of, 
363 ; hunting with, 364 ; Col. Wil- 
liams' pack of, 367 ; Wadsworth's 
hounds, 369 ; a run with, 370 ; Mead- 
owbrook, 373 ; Russian wolf, 411 

Houston, Gen. Sam, 8 

Hunter, an old, 76, 78, 79 ; requirements 
of a wilderness, 19 ; the real, 178 ; 
dress, 466 

Hunters', old, opinions on bears, 266 

Hunting-ground, the finest, 18 ; hunting 
on the Little Missouri, 18 



Index, 



47' 



Hunting, from the ranch house, 30 ; on 
foot, 31 ; with track hounds, 40 ; trip, 
duration of a, 46 ; the pronghorn, 74, 
8 1 ; trip to the antelope winter haunts, 
77, 80 ; trip, provisions on a, 102 ; 
hardships met with in, 114 ; modes of, 
bears, 287 ; retrospect, 200 

Indians catching eagles, 72 

Jackson's, General " Red," encounter 

with a grisly, 334 
Javalina, see Peccary 
Jones, Colonel James, 220 

Kentucky, the settlement of, 6 

King, Clarence, 246, 275 

Kootenai Lake, 131 ; camping by, 132 

Lamoche's, Baptiste, adventure with a 

bear, 328 

Landscape, a dreary, 56 
Lark, meadow, 64, 65 ; plains, 64 
"Latigo Strap," 59, 60 
Lavishness of nature on the Pacific 

slope, 5 

Laws, game, needed, 449 
Letter from an old hunter, 425 
Lewis' woodpecker, 174 
Little Missouri, hunting on, 18 ; wapiti 

on the, 167 
Lucivee, the, 171 ; food of the, 171 ; 

easily killed with dogs, 171 
Lynx, northern, see Lucivee 

Marcy, General, 399 

Maverick bulls, 26 ; lassoing of, 27 

McMaster, Prof. J. Bache, 109 

Meadowbrook hounds, hunting with, 373 

Merriam, Dr. Hart, 264 

Merrill, Dr. James C., 310 

Mexican wild hog, see Peccary 

Miller's fight with a bear, 320 

Mocking-bird, the, 66, 68, 349 

Moore, Mr. John, 348 

Moose-bird, the, see Whisky- jack 

Moose, the, 14 ; giant of deer, 203 ; 
haunts of, 204, 214 ; fruitless hunting 
of, 205 ; stalking a bull moose, 207 ; 



not found in herds, 215 ; food of, 216 j 
easily tamed, 216 ; bulls during the 
rut, 217 ; able to defend itself, 217 ; 
footprints of, 211 ; flesh of, 214 ; hide, 
214 ; gait, 220 ; will attack a hunter, 
221 

Mountain buffalo, 247 

Mountain ptarmigan, see Snow grouse 

Nicknames, 424 
Nightingale, the, 66 
Nut-pine, northern, 190 

" Old Ephraim," see Grisly bear 
Old Ike, killed by a bear, 317 
" Old Manitou," 102, 105 
OX, the, a steer outfit, 21, 24 

Pack-animals, hunters', 179 ; perversity 
of, 181 

Packing, skill required in, 178 ; in the 
rain, 185 

Pack-rats, 69 

Peccary, 18 ; where found in the United 
States, 348 ; unprovoked attacks by, 
351 ; a band of, 357 ; how hunted, 
358 ; at bay, 358 ; food of, 359 

Peculiarity of elk-trails, 189 

Perkins' adventure with a bear, 323 

Phillips, William H., 280 

Picturesque country, a, 182 

Pingree killed by a moose, 229 

Pitcher, Lieutenant John, 435, 439 

Plains country, the, 2 

Plains, the, weather of, 90 

Porcupine, the, 172 

Prindle, Old Man, 401 ; his hounds, 401 

Prong-bucks in rutting season, 94 

Pronghorn, see Antelope 

Rabbits, snow-shoe, 190 
Ranch house, the, shut up, 51 
Ranch life during the fall months, 20 
Riding, cross-country, 377 ; of cowboys, 

383 ; of Australians, 382 
Rockhill, Mr., 271 
Rogers, Archibald, 309 ; E. P., 220 



472 



Index. 



Roosevelt's, Elliott, buffalo hunt, 232; 

his diary, 233 

Roosevelt, West, 35 ; John, 232 
Round-up, the, starting for, 22 ; at work, 

24, 43, 100 ; loss of sleep at, 55 
Rutting, the, season, 30, 94 



Unsportsmanlike killing of deer, 37 
Upper Geyser Basin, 200 

Valley, a lovely, 103 
Venison of elk as a diet, 175 
Visitor at the ranch, a, 43 



Sage, Mr. A. J., 382 

Sage fowl, 112 

Settling of the West, 12 

Sheep, bighorn, see Bighorn 

Shapes taken by American wilderness, 

1-3 
Shooting, poor, 36 ; running game, 42 ; 

a caribou, 150 ; hints on, 192 
Shoshone Indians, hunting-party of, 194 ; 

their method of hunting, 195 
Silver thaw, a, 155 
Sioux, a fight with, 431 
Slough, stuck in a, 112 
Snow-shoes, hunting on, 225 ; two kinds 

used, 226 

Soldiery of the backwoods, 7 
Sounds, in the wilderness, 68, 69 ; in the 

forest, 146 
Stalking, antelope, 62, 63 ; the bighorn, 

106-109 ; a bull elk, 191 ; buffalo, 240 
Stalk, an early, 165 
Stampede of buffalo, 241 
Start for a hunt, the, 40 
Striking camp in bad weather, 199 
Stump, Judge Yancy, 401 ; his hounds, 

401 
Sword-Bearer, the Crow medicine chief, 

436 

Tale of western life, a, 420 

Tepee or wigwam of an old hunter, 77 ; 

a tepee, 179 

Tompkins, Old Man, 47, 168 
** Town," a new western, 418 
Track-hounds, 40 
Trappers, the early, 10 
Travelling, difficult, 113, 119, 134, 157 
Trout, an abundance of, 175 
Two-Ocean Pass, 186 



Wadsworth, Mr. Austin, 369 

Walker, General W. H., and the 

buffaloes, 245 
Wapiti (bull), habits of, 162 ; cowardice 

of, 163 ; fight between two, 159 
Wapiti, the, 4, 15 ; Pugnacity of, 161 ; 

ways of fighting, 163 ; the "whistling" 

of the, 164 ; gait of, 167 ; on the Little 

Missouri, 167 ; antlers of the, 170 ; 

noblest of his kind, 202 
Washington as a sportsman, 457 
Water-ousel, 135 
Water-shrew, capture of a, 136 
Water-wren, the 174 
Waters, Wilbur, 257 
Whisky-jack, the, 175 
Whitney, Caspar W., 323 
Wildcat, the, often hunted with hounds, 

171 

Wilderness, the American, i 
Williams, Colonel Roger D., 366, 410 
Willis, John, in, 131, 156 
Wolfers, the, 388 
Wolf, the, 17 ; where found in United 

States, 386, 389 ; varieties of, 386 ; 

colors of, 387 ; wholesale killing of, 

388 ; scarcity of, 388 ; difficult to hunt, 

389 ; size of, 391 ; attacks cattle, 392 ; 
cunning of, 394 ; food of, 395 ; rarely 
attacks man, 397 ; should be hunted 
with dogs, 398 ; hunting the, 402 ; 
killed by hounds, 407 

Wolverine Pass, 195 

Wood buffalo, 247 

Woods on fire, the, 133 

Woody, Tazewell, no, 179, 187, 196, 

3", 431 
Wranglers, night- and day-, 23, 58 

"Yard, "a, 223 



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