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´╗┐Title: Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
Language: English
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HUNTING THE GRISLY AND OTHER SKETCHES

by Theodore Roosevelt



     PREPARER'S NOTE

     This text was prepared from a 1902 edition, published by G. P.
     Putnam's Sons, New York and London. It was originally published in
     1893. It is part II of "The Wilderness Hunter."


An Account of the Big Game of the United

States and its Chase with Horse

Hound, and Rifle



CHAPTER I.--THE BISON OR AMERICAN BUFFALO.

When we became a nation in 1776, the buffaloes, the first animals
to vanish when the wilderness is settled, roved to the crests of the
mountains which mark the western boundaries of Pennsylvania, Virginia,
and the Carolinas. They were plentiful in what are now the States of
Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. But by the beginning of the present
century they had been driven beyond the Mississippi; and for the next
eighty years they formed one of the most distinctive and characteristic
features of existence on the great plains. Their numbers were
countless--incredible. In vast herds of hundreds of thousands of
individuals, they roamed from the Saskatchewan to the Rio Grande
and westward to the Rocky Mountains. They furnished all the means of
livelihood to the tribes of Horse Indians, and to the curious population
of French Metis, or Half-breeds, on the Red River, as well as to those
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 destroyed by the settlers, but by the
railways and the skin hunters.

After the ending of the Civil War, the work of constructing
trans-continental railway lines was pushed forward with the utmost
vigor. These supplied cheap and indispensable, but hitherto wholly
lacking, means of transportation to the hunters; and at the same time
the demand for buffalo robes and hides became very great, while the
enormous numbers of the beasts, and the comparative ease with which they
were slaughtered, attracted throngs of adventurers. The result was such
a slaughter of big game as the world had never before seen; never before
were so many large animals of one species destroyed in so short a time.
Several million buffaloes were slain. In fifteen years from the time
the destruction fairly began the great herds were 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
individuals 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 1883. My own chief experience with buffaloes was obtained in the
latter year, among small bands and scattered individuals, near my ranch
on the Little Missouri; I have related it elsewhere. But two of my
kinsmen were more fortunate, and took part in the chase of these lordly
beasts when the herds still darkened the prairie as far as the eye could
see.

During the first two months of 1877, my brother Elliott, then a lad not
seventeen years old, made a buffalo-hunt toward the edge of the Staked
Plains in Northern Texas. He was thus in at the death of the southern
herds; for all, save a few scattering bands, were 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 horse. In addition to the teams they had six
saddle-animals--all of them shaggy, unkempt mustangs. Three or four
dogs, setters and half-bred greyhounds, trotted along behind the wagons.
Each man took his turn for two days as teamster and cook; and there were
always two with the wagons, or camp, as the case might be, while the
other six were off hunting, usually in couples. The expedition was
undertaken partly for sport and partly with the hope of profit; for,
after purchasing the horses and wagons, none of the party had any money
left, and they were forced to rely upon selling skins and hides, and,
when near the forts, meat.

They started on January 2nd, and shaped their course for the head-waters
of the Salt Fork of the Brazos, the centre of abundance for the great
buffalo herds. During the first few days they were in the outskirts of
the 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 hunters were lost, spending the night out
in the open, or sleeping at a ranch, if one was found. Both towns and
ranches were filled with rough customers; all of my brother's companions
were muscular, hot-headed fellows; and as a consequence they were
involved in several savage free fights, in which, fortunately, nobody
was seriously hurt. My brother kept a very brief diary, the entries
being fairly startling from their conciseness. A number of times, the
mention of their arrival, either at a halting-place, a little village,
or a rival buffalo-camp is followed by the laconic remark, "big fight,"
or "big row"; but once they evidently concluded discretion to be
the better part of valor, the entry for January 20th being, "On the
road--passed through Belknap--too lively, so kept on to the Brazos--very
late." The buffalo-camps in particular were very jealous of one another,
each party regarding itself as having exclusive right to the range it
was the first to find; and on several occasions this feeling came near
involving my brother and his companions in serious trouble.

While slowly driving the heavy wagons to the hunting grounds they
suffered the usual hardships of plains travel. The weather, as in most
Texas winters, alternated between the extremes of heat and cold. There
had been little rain; in consequence water was scarce. Twice they were
forced to cross wild, barren wastes, where the pools had dried up, and
they suffered terribly from thirst. On the first occasion the horses
were in good 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 blockhouse this morning 3 A.M.--on
the go all night--hot. January 28--No water--hot--at seven we struck
water, and by eight Stinking Creek--grand 'hurrah.'" On the second
occasion, the horses were weak and travelled slowly, so the party went
forty-eight hours without drinking. "February 19th--Pulled on twenty-one
miles--trail bad--freezing night, no water, and wolves after our fresh
meat. 20--Made nineteen miles over prairie; again only mud, no water,
freezing hard--frightful thirst. 21st--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 plainsman will understand the real agony implied
in working hard for two nights, one day, and portions of two others,
without water, even in cool weather. During the last few miles the
staggering horses were only just able to drag the lightly loaded
wagon,--for they had but one with them at the time,--while the men
plodded along in sullen silence, their mouths so parched that they could
hardly utter a word. My own hunting and ranching were done in the north
where there is more water; so I have never had a similar experience.
Once I took a team in thirty-six hours across a country where there was
no water; but by good luck it rained heavily in the night, so that the
horses had plenty of wet grass, and I caught the rain in my slicker, and
so had enough water for myself. Personally, I have but once been as long
as twenty-six hours 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 water-courses, 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, whenever they approached the canyon brink, bands of deer
started from the timber that fringed the river's course; often, even
the deer wandered out on the prairie with the antelope. Nor was the game
shy; for the hunters, both red and white, followed only the buffaloes,
until the huge, shaggy herds were destroyed, and the smaller beasts were
in consequence but little molested.

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

Their camp had been pitched near a deep pool or water-hole. On both
sides the bluffs rose like walls, and where they had crumbled 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 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
presented the rifle to my brother when he went to Texas. In our happy
ignorance we deemed it quite good enough for Buffalo or anything else;
but out on the plains my brother soon found himself forced to procure a
heavier and more deadly 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
woefully. They were watched and tended by the two men who were always
left in camp, and, save on rare occasions, were only used to haul in the
buffalo hides. The camp-guards for the time being acted as cooks; and,
though coffee and flour both ran short and finally gave out, fresh meat
of every kind was abundant. The camp was never without buffalo-beef,
deer and antelope venison, wild turkeys, prairie-chickens, quails,
ducks, and rabbits. The birds were simply "potted," as occasion
required; when the quarry was deer or antelope, the hunters took the
dogs with them to run down the wounded animals. But almost the entire
attention of the hunters was given to the buffalo. After an evening
spent in lounging round the campfire and a sound night's sleep, wrapped
in robes and blankets, they would get up before daybreak, snatch a
hurried breakfast, and start off in couples through the chilly dawn. The
great beasts were very plentiful; in the first day's hunt twenty were
slain; but the herds were restless and ever on the move. Sometimes they
would be seen right by the camp, and again it would need an all-day's
tramp to find them. There was no difficulty in spying them--the chief
trouble with forest game; for on the prairie a buffalo makes no effort
to hide and its black, shaggy bulk looms up as far as the eye can see.
Sometimes they were found in small parties of three or four individuals,
sometimes in bands of about two hundred, and again in great herds of
many thousands; and solitary old bulls, expelled from the herds, were
common. If on broken land, among the 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 in the open, rolling
prairie, the stalking was far more difficult. Every hollow, every
earth hummock and sagebush had to be used as cover. The hunter wriggled
through the grass flat on his face, pushing himself along for perhaps a
quarter of a mile by his toes and fingers, heedless of the spiny cactus.
When near enough to the huge, unconscious quarry the hunter began
firing, still keeping himself carefully concealed. If the smoke was
blown away by the wind, and if the buffaloes caught no glimpse of the
assailant, they would often stand motionless and stupid until many of
their number had been slain, the hunter being careful not to fire too
high, aiming just behind the shoulder, about a third of the way up the
body, that his bullet might go through the lungs. Sometimes, even
after they saw the man, they would act as if confused and panic-struck,
huddling together and staring at the smoke puffs; but generally they
were off at a lumbering gallop as soon as they had an idea of the point
of danger. When once started, they ran for many miles before halting,
and their pursuit on foot was extremely laborious.

One morning my cousin and brother had been left in camp as guards. They
were sitting idly warming themselves in the first sunbeams, when their
attention was sharply drawn to four buffaloes that were coming to the
pool to drink. The beasts came down a game trail, a deep rut in the
bluff, fronting where they were sitting, and they did not dare to stir
for fear of being discovered. The buffaloes walked into the pool, and
after 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 unwieldy agility. As soon as they turned, my brother
and cousin ran for their rifles, but before they got back the buffaloes
had crossed the bluff crest. Climbing after them, the two hunters found,
when they reached the summit, that their game, instead of halting,
had struck straight off across the prairie at a slow lope, doubtless
intending to rejoin the herd they had left. After a moment's
consultation the men went in pursuit, excitement overcoming their
knowledge that they ought not, by rights, to leave camp. They struck
a steady trot, following the animals by sight until they passed over a
knoll, and then trailing them. Where the grass was long, as it was for
the first four or five miles, this was a work of no difficulty, and they
did not break their gait, only glancing now and then at the trial. 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 unravelling the trail from
the mass of old footmarks. It was tedious work, but it enabled them to
completely recover their breath by the time that they again struck
the grassland; and but a few hundred yards from the edge, in a slight
hollow, they saw the four buffaloes just entering a herd of fifty or
sixty that were scattered out grazing. The herd paid no attention to
the new-comers, and these immediately began to feed greedily. After
a whispered consultation, the two hunters crept back, and made a long
circle that brought them well to leeward of the herd, in line with
a slight rise in the ground. They then crawled up to this rise and,
peering through the tufts of tall, rank grass, saw the unconscious
beasts a hundred and twenty-five or fifty yards away. They fired
together, each mortally wounding his animal, and then, rushing in as
the herd halted in confusion, and following them as they ran, impeded by
numbers, hurry, and panic, they eventually got three more.

On another occasion the same two hunters nearly met with a frightful
death, being overtaken by a vast herd of stampeded buffaloes. All the
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 forward to the top of the rise. As they reached it, they stopped
short in terror and amazement, for before them the whole prairie was
black with madly rushing buffaloes.

Afterward they learned that another couple of hunters, four or five
miles off, had fired into and stampeded a large herd. This herd, in its
rush, gathered others, all thundering along together in uncontrollable
and increasing 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 extending 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 result seemed doubtful. The line thundered
steadily down on them; then it swayed violently, as two or three of
the brutes immediately in front fell beneath the bullets, while their
neighbors made violent efforts to press off sideways. Then a narrow
wedge-shaped rift appeared in the line, and widened as it came
closer, and the buffaloes, shrinking from their foes in front, strove
desperately to edge away from the dangerous neighborhood; the shouts
and shots were redoubled; the hunters were almost choked by the cloud
of dust, through which they could see the stream of dark huge bodies
passing within rifle-length on either side; and in a moment the peril
was over, and the two men were left alone on the plain, unharmed, though
with their nerves terribly shaken. The herd careered on 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
stampeded, and had no hostile intention; at any rate, after the death of
their leader, they rushed by without doing any damage.

But buffaloes sometimes charged with the utmost determination, and were
then dangerous antagonists. My cousin, a very hardy and resolute hunter,
had a narrow escape from a wounded cow which he had 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-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 shoulders; 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 bullet went a little wild; nevertheless, by good luck,
it broke a fore-leg, and the great beast came crashing to the earth, and
was slain before it could struggle to its feet.

Two days after this even, a war party of Comanches swept down along the
river. They "jumped" a neighboring camp, killing one man and wounding
two more, and at the same time ran off all but three of the horses
belonging to our eight adventurers. With the remaining three horses and
one wagon they set out homeward. The march was hard and tedious; they
lost their way and were in jeopardy from quicksands and cloudbursts;
they suffered from thirst and cold, their shoes gave out, and their
feet were lamed by cactus spines. At last they reached Fort Griffen in
safety, and great was their ravenous rejoicing when they procured some
bread--for during the final fortnight of the hunt they had been without
flour or vegetables of any kind, or even coffee, and had subsisted on
fresh meat "straight." Nevertheless, it was a very healthy, as well as
a very pleasant and 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's with buffaloes on the upper Arkansas River, which gives
some idea of their enormous numbers at that time. He was camped with
a scouting party on the banks of the river, and had gone out to try
to shoot some meat. There were many buffaloes in sight, scattered,
according to their custom, in large bands. When he was a mile or two
away from the river a dull roaring sound in the distance attracted his
attention, and he saw that a herd of buffalo far to the south, away from
the river, had been stampeded and was running his way. He knew that
if he was caught in the open by the stampeded herd his chance for life
would be small, and at once ran for the river. By desperate efforts
he reached the breaks in the sheer banks just as the buffaloes reached
them, and got into a position of safety on the pinnacle of a little
bluff. From this point of vantage he could see the entire plain. To the
very verge of the horizon the brown masses of the buffalo bands showed
through the dust clouds, coming on with a thunderous roar like that of
surf. Camp was a mile away, and the stampede luckily passed to one side
of it. Watching his chance he finally dodged back to the tent, and all
that 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 irritated, as he had
reckoned on killing an ample supply of meat, and he supposed that there
would be now no bison left south of the 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
seventy miles by thirty in extent; the figures representing his rough
guess, made after travelling through the herd crosswise, and upon
knowing how long it took to pass a given point going northward. This
great herd of course was not a solid mass of buffaloes; it consisted of
innumerable bands of every size, dotting the prairie within the limits
given. Mr. King was mounted on a somewhat unmanageable horse. On one
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 subarctic 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 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 special harm in the woods, while it is peculiarly
hurtful to the safety of any beast on the plains, where eyesight
avails more than any other sense, the true game of the plains being the
prong-buck, the most keen-sighted of American animals. On the other
hand the bison's hearing, of little avail on the plains, is of much
assistance in the woods; and its excellent nose helps equally in both
places.

Though it was always more difficult to kill the bison of the forests and
the 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 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.
Nevertheless a few days later that same year I came across these great
wild cattle at a time when I had no idea of seeing them.

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

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

We bent our steps toward these trails, and no sooner had we reached
the first than the old hunter bent over it with a sharp 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 animals in the party; one a big
bull, and two calves.

We immediately turned and followed the trail. It led down to the little
lake, where the beasts had spread and grazed on the 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 pass from some neighboring valley, and
after drinking and feeding had moved into the pine forest to find some
spot for their noontide rest.

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

The old hunter was thoroughly roused, and he showed himself a very
skilful tracker. We were much favored by the character of the forest,
which was rather open, and in most places free from undergrowth and down
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
noiselessly. Once or twice when I trod on a small dry twig, or let the
nails in my shoes clink slightly against a stone, the hunter turned
to me with a frown of angry impatience; but as he walked slowly,
continually halting to look ahead, as well as stooping over to examine
the trail, I did not find it very difficult to move silently. I kept
a little behind him, and to one side, save when he crouched to take
advantage of some piece of cover, and I crept in his footsteps. I did
not look at the trail at all, but kept watching ahead, hoping at any
moment to see the game.

It was not very long before we struck their day beds, which were made on
a knoll, where the forest was open and 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 glade. Behind them rose the dark
pines. At the left of the glade the ground fell away to form the side of
a chasm; down in its depths the cataracts foamed and thundered; beyond,
the huge mountains towered, their crests crimsoned by the sinking
sun. Mixed with the eager excitement of the hunter was a certain half
melancholy feeling as I gazed on these bison, themselves part of the
last remnant of a doomed and nearly vanished race. Few, indeed, are
the men who now have, or evermore shall have, the chance of seeing the
mightiest of American beasts, in all his wild vigor, surrounded by the
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 timber. 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 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 II.--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
plentifully 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 hunters.
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 his corn and melons. Its meat
is good and its fur often valuable; and in its chase there is much
excitement, and occasionally a slight spice of danger, just enough to
render it attractive; so it has always been eagerly followed. Yet it
still holds its own, though in greatly diminished numbers, in the more
thinly settled portions of the country. One of the standing riddles of
American zoology is the fact that the black bear, which is easier killed
and less prolific than the wolf, should hold its own in the land better
than the 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 appearance at
the settlements except to dispose of his peltry and hides in exchange
for cartridges and provisions, and he leads a life of such lonely
isolation as to insure his individual 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 settlers, and who is usually best known as having killed the
last wolf or bear or cougar ever seen in the locality.

Generally the weapon mainly relied on by these old hunters is the rifle;
and 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 Wilber Waters, sometimes called The
Hunter of White Top. He often killed black bear with a knife and dogs.
He spent all his life in hunting and was very successful, killing
the last gang of wolves to be found in his 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 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, disemboweling them
with blows of his paws or seizing them in his arms and biting through
their spines or legs. The riders follow the hounds through the
canebrakes, and also try to make cutoffs and station themselves at open
points where they think the bear will pass, so that they may get a
shot at him. The weapons used are rifles, shotguns, and occasionally
revolvers.

Sometimes, however, the hunter uses the knife. General Wade Hampton, who
has probably killed more black bears than any other man living in the
United States, 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-olds,
or lean and poor bears. During the course of his life he has himself
killed, or been in at the death of, five hundred bears, at least two
thirds of them falling by his own hand. In the year just before the war
he had on one occasion, in Mississippi, killed sixty-eight bears in five
months. Once he killed four bears in a day; at another time three,
and frequently two. The two largest bears he himself killed weighed,
respectively, 408 and 410 pounds. They were both shot in 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 northern Mississippi, where one of his plantations was situated, near
Greenville. During the half century that he hunted, on and off, in
this neighborhood, he knew of two instances where hunters were
fatally wounded in the chase of the black bear. Both of the men were
inexperienced, one being a raftsman who came down the river, and the
other a man from Vicksburg. He was not able to learn the particulars
in the last case, but the raftsman came too close to a bear that was at
bay, and it broke through the dogs, rushed at and overthrew him, then
lying on him, it bit him deeply in the thigh, through the femoral
artery, so that he speedily bled to death.

But a black bear is not usually a formidable opponent, and though he
will sometimes charge home he is much more apt to bluster and bully than
actually to come to close quarters. I myself have but once seen a man
who had been hurt by one of these bears. This was an Indian. He had come
on the beast close up in a thick wood, and had mortally wounded it with
his gun; it had then closed with him, knocking the gun out of his hand,
so that he was forced to use his knife. It charged him on all fours, but
in the grapple, when it had failed to throw him down, it raised itself
on its hind legs, clasping him across the shoulders with its fore-paws.
Apparently it had no intention of hugging, but merely sought to draw him
within reach of his jaws. He fought desperately against this, using the
knife freely, and striving to keep its head back; and the flow of blood
weakened the animal, so that it finally fell exhausted, before being
able dangerously to injure him. But it had bitten his left arm very
severely, and its claws had made long gashes on his shoulders.

Black bears, like grislies, vary greatly in their modes of attack.
Sometimes they rush 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 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, 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 suddenly shuffled
off into the woods.

Black bears 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
deliberately proceeded to eat alive, heedless of the bellows of the
unfortunate beast. On the other occasion, a cow was surprised and slain
among some bushes at the edge of a remote pasture. In the spring, soon
after the long winter sleep, they are very hungry, and are especially
apt to attack large beasts at this time; although during the very first
days of their appearance, when they are just breaking their fast, they
eat rather sparingly, and by preference the tender shoots of green grass
and other herbs, or frogs and crayfish; it is not for a week or two that
they seem to be 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 lumberman 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 lumberman's camps, in the
absence of the owners, and play sad havoc with all that therein is,
devouring everything eatable, especially if sweet, and trampling into
a dirty mess whatever they do not eat. The black bear does not average
much more than a third the size of the grisly; but, like all its kind,
it varies greatly in weight. The largest I myself ever saw weighed was
in Maine, and tipped the scale at 346 pounds; but I have a perfectly
authentic record of one in Maine that weighed 397, and my friend, Dr.
Hart Merriam, tells me that he has seen several in the Adirondacks that
when killed weighed about 350.

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



CHAPTER III.--OLD EPHRAIM, THE GRISLY BEAR.

The king of the game beasts of temperate North America, because the most
dangerous to the hunter, is the grisly bear; known to the few remaining
old-time trappers of the Rockies and the Great Plains, sometimes as "Old
Ephraim" and sometimes as "Moccasin Joe"--the last in allusion to his
queer, half-human footprints, which look as if made by some mishapen
giant, walking in moccasins.

Bear vary greatly in size and color, no less than in temper and habits.
Old hunters speak much of them in their endless talks over the camp
fires and in the snow-bound winter huts. They insist on many species;
not merely the black and the grisly but the brown, the 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 animal as will enable them to
kill it. They study its habits solely with this end in view; and once
slain they only examine it to see about its condition and fur. With rare
exceptions they are quite incapable of passing judgment upon questions
of specific identity or difference. When questioned, they not only
advance perfectly impossible theories and facts in support of their
views, but they rarely even agree as to the views themselves. One hunter
will assert that the true grisly is only found in California, heedless
of the fact that the name was first used by Lewis and Clarke as one of
the titles they applied to the large bears of the plains country round
the Upper Missouri, a quarter of a century before the California grisly
was known to fame. Another hunter will call any big brindled bear a
grisly no matter where it is found; and he and his companions will
dispute by the hour as to whether a bear of large, but not extreme, size
is a grisly or a silver-tip. In Oregon the 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 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 complete intergradation between the most widely
separated individuals. However, there are certainly two very distinct
types, which differ almost as widely from each other as a wapiti does
from a mule deer, and which exist in the same localities in most heavily
timbered portions of the Rockies. One is the small black bear, a bear
which will average about two hundred pounds weight, with fine, glossy,
black fur, and the fore-claws but little longer than the hinder ones; in
fact the hairs of the fore-paw often reach to their tips. This bear is a
tree climber. It is the only kind found east of the great plains, and
it is also plentiful in the forest-clad portions of the Rockies, being
common in most heavily timbered tracts throughout the United States.
The other is the grisly, which weighs three or four times as much as the
black, and has a pelt of coarse hair, which is in color gray, grizzled,
or brown of various shades. It is not a tree climber, and the fore-claws
are very long, much longer than the hinder ones. It is found from the
great plains west of the Mississippi to the Pacific coast. This bear
inhabits 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 district. Thus I
found them both in the Bighorn Mountains, each type being in extreme
form, while the specimens I shot showed no trace of intergradation.
The huge grizzled, long-clawed beast, and its little glossy-coated,
short-clawed, tree-climbing brother roamed over exactly the same country
in those 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 character were still unstable. In the far northwest,
in the basin of the Columbia the "black" bear is as often brown as any
other color; and I have seen the skins of two cubs, one black and one
brown, which were shot when following the same dam. When these brown
bears have coarser hair than usual their skins are with difficulty to be
distinguished from those of certain varieties of the grisly. Moreover,
all bears vary greatly in size; and I have seen the bodies of very large
black or brown bears with short fore-claws which were fully as heavy as,
or perhaps heavier than, some small but full-grown grislies with long
fore-claws. These very large bears with short claws are very 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 California bears which were
no larger than 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.

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 throughout the plains country. When there were no
rifle-bearing hunters in the land, to harass him and make him afraid,
he roved thither 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 carcasses of those
which died by accident. Old hunters, survivors of the long-vanished ages
when the vast herds thronged the high plains and were followed by the
wild red tribes, and by bands of whites who were scarcely less savage,
have told me that they often met bears under such circumstances; and
these bears were accustomed to sleep in a patch of rank sage bush, in
the niche of a washout, or under the lee of a boulder, seeking their
food abroad even in full daylight. The bears of the Upper Missouri
basin--which were so light in color that the early explorers often
alluded to them as gray or even as "white"--were particularly given
to this life in the open. To this day that close kinsman of the grisly
known as the bear of the barren grounds continues to lead this same kind
of life, in the far north. My 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
foothills 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.

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

Once in its den the bear passes the cold months in lethargic sleep; yet,
in all but the coldest weather, and sometimes even then, its slumber is
but light, and if disturbed it will promptly leave its den, prepared for
fight or flight as the occasion may require. Many times when a hunter
has stumbled on the winter resting-place of a bear and has left it, as
he thought, without his presence being 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 very 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 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 bear, 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 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 lumbering gait. In one or two
instances the bear had apparently grappled with his victim by seizing it
near the loins and striking a disabling blow over the small of the back;
in at least one instance he had jumped on the animal's head, grasping
it with his fore-paws, while with his fangs he tore open the throat
or crunched 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 cattle-killer.

Mr. Clarence King informs me that he was once eye-witness to a bear's
killing a steer, in California. The steer was in a small pasture, and
the bear climbed over, partly breaking down, the rails which barred the
gateway. The steer started to run, but the grisly overtook it in four or
five bounds, and struck it a 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.

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 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 monster was
cunning enough to kill several of these knowing creatures. The exact
course of procedure I never could find out; but apparently the bear laid
in wait beside the game trails, along which the deer 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 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 of these weaker members of the herds, it
did not hesitate to attack the mighty bulls themselves; and perhaps the
grandest sights which it was ever the good fortune of the early hunters
to witness was one of these rare battles between a hungry grisly and a
powerful buffalo bull. Nowadays, however, the few last survivors of the
bison are vanishing even from the inaccessible mountain fastnesses in
which they sought a final refuge from their destroyers.

At present the wapiti is of all wild game that which is most likely to
fall a victim to the grisly, when the big bear is in the mood to turn
hunter. Wapiti are found in the same places as the grisly, and in some
spots they are yet very plentiful; they are less shy and active than
deer, while not powerful enough to beat off so ponderous a foe; and they
live in cover where there is always a good chance either to stalk or to
stumble on them. At 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.

A bull moose is even more formidable, being able to strike the most
lightning-like blows with his terrible forefeet, his true weapons of
defense. I doubt if any beast of prey would rush in on one of these
woodland giants, when his horns were grown, and if he was on his guard
and bent on fight. Nevertheless, the moose sometimes 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 restlessly
about, evidently very hungry. Finding little to eat in the bleak,
snow-drifted woods, it soon began to depredate on the moose, and killed
two or three, generally by lying in wait and dashing out on them as they
passed near its lurking-place. Even the bulls were at that season weak,
and of course 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 never have deemed it possible for any animal to make such strides
while in a trot.

Nevertheless, the grisly is only occasionally, not normally, a
formidable predatory beast, a killer of cattle and of large game.
Although capable of far swifter movement than is promised by his frame
of seemingly clumsy strength, and in spite of his power of charging with
astonishing suddenness and speed, he yet lacks altogether the supple
agility of such finished destroyers as the cougar and the wolf; and for
the absence of this agility no amount of mere huge muscle can atone. He
is more apt to feast on animals which have met their death by accident,
or which have been killed by other beasts or by man, than to do his own
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
remarkable 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 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 21st, 1891, runs in part as follows:

"I had a splendid Grizzly or Roachback cub and was going to send him
into the Springs next morning the team was here. I heard a racket
outside, went out, and found him dead. An old bear that made a 9 1/2
inch track had killed and partly eaten him. Last night another one
came, one that made a 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 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 unpracticed eye; and in no way can one get a
better idea of the brute's power than by watching it busily working
for its breakfast, shattering big logs and upsetting 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, kinnikinnic berries, buffalo
berries, wild plums, elderberries, and scores of other fruits. They
often smash all the bushes in a berry patch, gathering the fruit with
half-luxurious, half-laborious greed, sitting on their haunches, and
sweeping the berries into their mouths with dexterous paws. So absorbed
do they become in their feasts on the luscious fruit that they grow
reckless of their safety, and feed in broad daylight, almost at midday;
while in some of the thickets, especially those of the mountain
haws, they make so much noise in smashing the branches that it is a
comparatively easy matter to approach them unheard. That still-hunter is
in luck who in the fall finds an accessible berry-covered hillside which
is haunted by bears; but, as a rule, the berry bushes do not grow close
enough together to give the hunter much chance.

Like most other wild animals, bears which have known the neighborhood
of man are beasts of the darkness, or at least of the dusk and the
gloaming. But they are by no means such true night-lovers as the big
cats and the wolves. In regions where they know little of hunters they
roam about freely in the 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 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 times of
famine they do not hesitate to pounce on the black bear and cougar; and
even a full-grown grisly is not safe from their attacks, unless he can
back up against some rock which will prevent them from assailing him
from behind. A small ranchman whom I knew well, who lived near Flathead
Lake, once in April found where a troop of these wolves had killed a
good-sized yearling grisly. Either cougar or wolf will make a prey of a
grisly which is but a few months old; while any fox, lynx, wolverine,
or fisher will seize the very young cubs. The old story about wolves
fearing to feast on game killed by a grisly is all nonsense. Wolves are
canny beasts, and they will not approach a carcass if they think a bear
is hidden near by and likely to rush out at them; but under 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 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 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 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
oppressive. It was small wonder that Bruin should have sought the spot
to cool his gross carcass in the fresh spring water.

The bear is a solitary beast, and although many may assemble together,
in what looks like a drove, on some favorite feeding-ground--usually
where the berries are thick, or by the banks of a salmon-thronged
river--the association is never more than momentary, each going its own
way as soon as its hunger is satisfied. The males always live alone by
choice, save in the rutting season, when they seek the females. Then
two or three may come together in the course of their pursuit and rough
courtship of the female; and if the rivals are well matched, savage
battles follow, so that many of the old males have their heads seamed
with scars made by their fellows' teeth. At such times they are evil
tempered and prone to attack man or beast on slight 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. 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
destruction of grislies; and in many places their skins have a market
price, although much less valuable than those of the black bear. The
men who pursue them for the bounty, or for their fur, as well as the
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.

It is, of course, all right to trap bears when they are followed merely
as vermin or for the sake of the fur. Occasionally, however, hunters
who are out merely for sport adopt this method; but this should never be
done. To shoot a trapped bear for sport is a thoroughly unsportsmanlike
proceeding. A funny plea sometimes advanced in its favor is that it is
"dangerous." No doubt in 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 splinted 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 dangerous. Two of my own
cowboys, Seawell and Dow, were originally from Maine, where they had
trapped a number of black bears; and they always killed them either with
a hatchet or a small 32-calibre revolver. One of them, Seawell, once
came near being mauled by a trapped bear, seemingly at the last gasp
which he approached incautiously with his hatchet.

There is, however, one very real danger to which the solitary
bear-trapper is exposed, the danger of being caught in his own trap. The
huge jaws of the gin are easy to spring and most hard to open. If any
unwary passer-by should tread between them and be caught by the leg, his
fate would be doubtful, though he would probably die under the steadily
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 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 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
breaking bay when it wished. Several times a grisly was bayed, but
always in some inaccessible spot which it took hard climbing to reach,
and the dogs were never able to hold the beast until the hunters came
up.

Still a well-trained pack of large hounds which were both bold and
cunning could doubtless bay even a grisly. Such dogs are the big
half-breed hounds sometimes used in the Alleghanies of West Virginia,
which are trained not merely to nip a bear, but to grip him by the hock
as he runs and either throw him or twirl him round. A grisly could not
disregard a wary and powerful hound capable of performing this trick,
even though he paid small heed to mere barking and occasional nipping.
Nor do I doubt that it would be possible to get together a pack of many
large, fierce dogs, trained to dash straight at the head and hold on
like a vise, which could fairly master a grisly and, though unable, of
course, to kill him, would worry him breathless and hold him down so
that he could be slain with ease. There have been instances in
which five or six of the big so-called blood-hounds of the southern
States--not pure blood-hounds at all, but huge, fierce, ban-dogs, with
a cross of the ferocious Cuban blood-hound, to give them good scenting
powers--have by themselves mastered the cougar and the black bear. Such
instances occurred in the hunting history of my own forefathers on my
mother's side, who during the last half of the eighteenth, and the first
half of the present, century lived in Georgia and over the border in
what are now Alabama and Florida. These big dogs can only overcome such
foes by rushing in in a body and grappling all together; if they hang
back, lunging and snapping, a cougar or bear will destroy them one by
one. With a quarry so huge and redoubtable as the grisly, no number
of dogs, however large and fierce, could overcome him unless they all
rushed on him in a mass, the first in the charge seizing by the head or
throat. If the dogs hung back, or if there were only a few of them, or
if they did not seize around the head, they would be destroyed without
an effort. It is murder to slip merely one or two close-quarter dogs at
a grisly. Twice I have known a man take a large bulldog with his pack
when after one of these big bears, and in each case the result was the
same. In one instance the bear was trotting when the bulldog seized it
by the cheek, and without so much as altering its gait, it brushed off
the hanging dog with a blow from the fore-paw that broke the latter's
back. In the other instance the bear had come to bay, and when seized by
the ear it got the dog's body up to its jaws, and tore out the life with
one crunch.

A small number of dogs must rely on their activity, and must hamper
the bear's escape by inflicting a severe bite and 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 outstretched hock with a grip of iron, stopping the bear short, but
letting go before the angry beast could whirl round and seize it. It was
so active and wary that it always escaped 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 distinguished from the
trappers--who have followed the grisly have relied almost solely on
their rifles. In my own case about half the bears I have killed I
stumbled across almost by accident; and probably this proportion holds
good generally. The hunter may be after bear at the time, or he may be
after 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 Ephraim
digging for roots, or munching berries, or slouching along the path,
or perhaps rising suddenly from the lush, rank plants amid which he has
been lying. Or it may be that the bear will be spied afar rooting in an
open glade or on a bare hill-side.

In the still-hunt proper it is necessary to find some favorite
feeding-ground, where there are many roots or berry-bearing bushes, or
else to lure the grisly to a carcass. This last method of "baiting" for
bears is under ordinary circumstances the only way which affords even a
moderately fair chance of killing them. They are very cunning, with the
sharpest of noses, and where they have had experience of hunters they
dwell only in cover where it is 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 overlook the feeding-grounds where he has previously
discovered sign. From this 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
sitting still and looking over a vast tract of country before he will
suddenly spy a bear; or he may see nothing after the most careful search
in a given place, and must then go on half a dozen miles to 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 taking a shot.

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



CHAPTER IV.--HUNTING THE GRISLY.

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

Once I killed a grisly in this manner. It was early in the fall, but
snow lay on the ground, while the gray weather boded a storm. My camp
was in a bleak, wind-swept valley, high among the mountains which form
the divide between the 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 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 mountain masses which make
up the backbone of the Rockies. From my feet, as far as I could see,
stretched a rugged and barren chaos of ridges and detached rock masses.
Behind me, far below, the stream wound like a silver ribbon, fringed
with dark conifers and the changing, dying foliage of poplar and quaking
aspen. In front the 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
evidently roaming restlessly about in search of a winter den, but
willing, in passing, to pick up any food that lay handy. At once I
took the trail, travelling above and to one side, and keeping a sharp
look-out ahead. The bear was going across wind, and this made my task
easy. I walked rapidly, though cautiously; and it was only in crossing
the large patches of bare ground that I had to fear making a noise.
Elsewhere the snow muffled my 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 hillside, 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 motionless in a snow drift at the foot of a low
rock-wall, from which he had tumbled.

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 Mountains in Montana I found
that a bear had been feeding on the carcass of a moose which lay some
five miles from the little open glade in which my tent was pitched, and
I made up my mind to try to get a shot at it that afternoon. I stayed
in camp till about three o'clock, lying lazily back on the bed of
sweet-smelling evergreen boughs, watching the pack ponies as they stood
under the pines on the edge of the open, stamping now and then, and
switching their tails. The air was still, the sky a glorious blue; at
that hour in the afternoon even the September sun was hot. The smoke
from the smouldering logs of the camp fire curled thinly 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 whisky-jacks, with bold mien and fearless bright eyes,
hopped and fluttered round, picking up the scraps, and uttering an
extraordinary variety of notes, mostly 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
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 ambush the beast when he came back that evening. The
carcass lay in the middle of a valley a quarter of a mile broad. The
bottom of this valley was covered by an open forest of tall pines; a
thick jungle of smaller 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 chickadees 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
loneliness, the melancholy of the wilderness, came over me like a spell.
Every slight noise made my pulses throb as I lay motionless on the rock
gazing intently into the gathering gloom. I began to fear that it would
grow too dark to shoot before the grisly came.

Suddenly and without warning, the great bear stepped out of the bushes
and trod across the pine needles with such swift and silent footsteps
that its bulk seemed unreal. It was very cautious, continually halting
to peer around; and once it stood up on its hind legs and looked long
down the valley towards the red west. As it reached the carcass I put a
bullet between its shoulders. It rolled over, while the woods resounded
with its savage roaring. Immediately it struggled to its feet and
staggered off; and fell again to the next shot, squalling and yelling.
Twice this was repeated; the brute being one of those bears which greet
every wound with a great outcry, and sometimes seem to lose their feet
when hit--although they will occasionally fight as savagely as their
more silent brethren. In this case the wounds were mortal, and the bear
died before reaching the edge of the 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 mountain 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 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
whisky-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
pork, and a hatchet, made up a light pack, which, with the bedding, I
fastened across the stock saddle by means of a rope and a spare packing
cinch. My cartridges and knife were in my belt; my compass and matches,
as always, in my pocket. I walked, while the little mare followed almost
like a dog, often without my having to hold the lariat which served as
halter.

The country was for the most part fairly open, as I kept near the
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 impossible for a
horse. I started up a side valley, intending to cross from its head
coulies to those of another valley which would lead in below the canyon.

However, I got enmeshed in the tangle of winding valleys at the foot of
the steep 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 a mat of sweet-smelling
pine needles. Making camp took but a moment. I opened the pack, tossed
the bedding on a smooth spot, knee-haltered the little mare, dragged up
a few dry logs, and then strolled off, rifle on shoulder, through the
frosty gloaming, to see if I could pick up a grouse for supper.

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

At last, as I was thinking of turning towards camp, I stole up to the
crest of one of the ridges, and looked over into the valley some sixty
yards off. Immediately I caught the loom of some large, dark object; and
another glance showed me a big grisly walking slowly off with his head
down. He was quartering to me, and I fired into his flank, the bullet,
as I afterwards found, ranging forward and piercing one lung. At the
shot he uttered a loud, moaning grunt and plunged forward at a heavy
gallop, while I raced obliquely down the hill to cut him off. After
going a few hundred feet he reached a laurel thicket, some thirty yards
broad, and two or three times as long which he did not leave. I ran up
to the edge and there halted, not liking to venture into the mass of
twisted, close-growing stems and glossy foliage. Moreover, as I halted,
I head 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
blood foam from his mouth, so that I saw the gleam of his white fangs;
and then he charged straight at me, crashing and bounding through the
laurel bushes, so that it was hard to aim. I waited until he came to a
fallen tree, raking him as he topped it with a ball, which entered his
chest and went through the cavity of his body, but he neither swerved
nor flinched, and at the moment I did not know that I had struck him. He
came steadily on, and in another second was almost upon me. I fired for
his forehead, but my bullet went low, entering his open mouth, smashing
his lower jaw and going into the neck. I leaped to one side almost as I
pulled trigger; and through the hanging smoke the first thing I saw was
his paw as he made a vicious side blow at me. The rush of his charge
carried him past. As he struck he lurched forward, 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 carcass, and then
trotted back to camp. Next morning I returned and with much labor took
off the skin. The fur was very fine, the animal being in excellent trim,
and unusually bright-colored. Unfortunately, in packing it out I lost
the skull, and had to supply its place with one of plaster. The beauty
of the trophy, and the memory of the circumstances under which I
procured it, make me value it perhaps more highly than any other in my
house.

This is the only instance in which I have been regularly charged by a
grisly. On the whole, the danger of hunting these great bears has been
much exaggerated. At the beginning of the present century, when white
hunters first encountered the grisly, he was doubtless an exceedingly
savage beast, prone to attack without provocation, and a 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 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 temper, and occasionally one may be found who
will not show fight, no matter how much he is bullied; but, as a rule,
a hunter must be cautious in meddling with a wounded animal which has
retreated into a dense thicket, and had been once or twice roused; and
such a beast, when it does turn, will usually charge again and again,
and fight to the last with unconquerable ferocity. The short distance
at which the bear can be seen through the underbrush, the fury of his
charge, and his tenacity of life make it necessary for the hunter on
such occasions to have steady nerves and a fairly quick and accurate
aim. It is always well to have two men in following a wounded bear under
such conditions. This is not necessary, however, and a good hunter,
rather than lose his quarry, will, under ordinary circumstances, follow
and attack it, no matter how tangled the fastness in which it has
sought refuge; but he must act warily and with the utmost caution
and resolution, if he wishes to escape a terrible and probably fatal
mauling. An experienced hunter is rarely rash, and never heedless; he
will not, when alone, follow a wounded bear into a thicket, if by that
exercise of patience, skill, and knowledge of the game's habits he can
avoid the necessity; but it is idle to talk of the feat as something
which ought in no case to be attempted. While danger ought never to be
needlessly incurred, it is yet true that the keenest zest in sport comes
from its presence, and from the consequent exercise of the qualities
necessary to overcome it. The most thrilling moments of an American
hunter's life are those in which, with every sense on the alert, and
with nerves strung to the highest point, he is following alone into
the heart of its forest fastness the fresh and bloody footprints of an
angered grisly; and no other triumph of American hunting can compare
with the victory to be thus gained.

These big bears will not ordinarily charge from a distance of over a
hundred yards; but there are exceptions to this rule. In the fall of
1890 my friend Archibald Rogers was hunting in Wyoming, south of the
Yellowstone Park, and killed seven bears. One, an old he, was out on a
bare table-land, grubbing for roots, when he was spied. It was early
in the afternoon, and the hunters, who were on a high mountain slope,
examined him for some time through their powerful glasses before making
him out to be a bear. They then stalked up to the edge of the wood which
fringed on 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
getting nearer, and wounded the bear, though not very seriously.
The animal made off, almost broadside to, and Rogers ran forward to
intercept it. As soon as it saw him it turned and rushed straight for
him, not heeding his second shot, and evidently bent on charging home.
Rogers then waited until it was within twenty yards, and brained it with
his third bullet.

In fact bears differ individually in courage and ferocity precisely as
men do, or as the Spanish bulls, of which it is said that not more than
one in twenty is fit to stand the combat of the arena. One grisly can
scarcely be bullied into resistance; the next may fight to the end,
against any odds, without flinching, or even attack unprovoked. Hence
men of limited experience in this sport, generalizing 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
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 hunter
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. Looking 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
crushed, and the brains licked out, and there were signs of other
injuries. The hunters pondered long over this strange discovery, and
hazarded many guesses as to its meaning. At last they decided that
probably the cub had been killed, and its brains eaten out, either by
some old male-grisly or by a cougar, that the mother had returned and
driven away the murderer, and that she had then buried the body and lain
above it, waiting to wreak her vengeance on the first passer-by.

Old Tazewell Woody, during his thirty years' life as a hunter in the
Rockies and on the great plains, killed very many grislies. He always
exercised much caution in dealing with them; and, as it happened, he was
by some suitable tree in almost every case when he was charged. He
would accordingly climb the tree (a practice of which I do not approve
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, 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 darkness for nearly an hour; then the bear
drove it off and came right into camp. It went close to the fire,
picking up the scraps of meat and bread, pulled a haunch of venison down
from a tree, and passed and repassed in front of the tepee, paying no
heed whatever to the two men, who crouched in the doorway 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 or 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 she caught him, almost biting a piece out of the calf of
his leg, pulled him down, bit and cuffed him two or three times, and
then went on her way.

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

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

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

A fighting bear sometimes uses his claws and sometimes his teeth. I have
never known one to attempt to kill an antagonist by hugging, in spite
of the popular belief to this effect; though he will sometimes draw an
enemy towards him with his paws the better to reach him with his teeth,
and to hold him so that he cannot escape from the biting. Nor does the
bear often advance on his hind legs to the attack; though, if the man
has come close to him in thick underbrush, or has stumbled on him in his
lair unawares, he will often rise up in this fashion and strike a single
blow. He will also rise in clinching with a man on horseback. In 1882
a mounted Indian was killed in this manner 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 company my informant, a
white squaw-man, with whom I afterward did some trading, was travelling.
One of them in the excitement of the pursuit rode across the end of
the thicket; as he did so the great beast sprang at him with wonderful
quickness, rising on its hind legs, and knocking over the horse and
rider with a single sweep of its terrible fore-paws. It then turned
on the fallen man and tore him open, and though the other Indians came
promptly to his rescue and slew his assailant, they were not in time to
save their comrade's life.

A bear is apt to rely mainly on his teeth or claws according to whether
his efforts are directed primarily to killing his foe or to 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 immediate 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 they cut like blunt axes.
Often, however, late in the season, and if the ground has been dry and
hard, or rocky, the claws are worn down nearly to the quick, and the
blow is then given mainly with the under side of the paw; although even
under this disadvantage a thump from a big bear will down a horse or
smash in a man's breast. The hunter Hofer once lost a horse in this
manner. He shot at and wounded a bear which rushed off, as ill luck
would have it, past the place where his horse was picketed; probably
more in fright than in anger it struck the poor beast a blow which, in
the end, proved mortal.

If a bear means mischief and charges not to escape but to do damage, its
aim is to grapple with or throw down its foe and bite him to death. The
charge is made at a gallop, the animal sometimes coming on silently,
with the mouth shut, and sometimes with the jaws open, the lips drawn
back and teeth showing, uttering at the same time a succession of roars
or of savage rasping snarls. Certain bears charge without any bluster
and perfectly straight; while others first threaten and bully, and even
when charging stop to growl, shake the head and bite at a bush or knock
holes in the ground with their fore-paws. Again, some of them charge
home with a ferocious resolution which their extreme tenacity of life
renders especially dangerous; while others can be turned or driven back
even by a shot which is not mortal. They show the same variability in
their behavior when wounded. Often a big bear, especially if charging,
will receive a bullet in perfect silence, without flinching or seeming
to pay any heed to it; while another will cry out and tumble about, and
if charging, even though it may not abandon the attack, will pause for a
moment to whine or bite at the wound.

Sometimes a single bite causes death. One of the most successful bear
hunters I ever knew, an old fellow whose real name I never heard as he
was always called Old Ike, was killed in this way in the spring or early
summer 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 prospectors 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 pursued, 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 retreated into the
spruce thicket, whither they dared not follow it. Their friend was at
his last gasp; for the whole side of the chest had been crushed in by
the one bite, the lungs showing between the rent ribs.

Very often, however, a bear does not kill a man by one bite, but after
throwing him lies on him, biting him to death. Usually, if no assistance
is at hand, such a man is 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 frightened, and passes
on after giving one or two bites; and frequently a man who is knocked
down is rescued by his friends before he is killed, the big beast mayhap
using his weapons with clumsiness. So a bear may kill a foe with a
single blow of its mighty fore-arm, either crushing in the head or
chest by sheer force of sinew, or else tearing open the body with its
formidable claws; and so on the other hand he may, and often does,
merely disfigure or maim the foe by a hurried stroke. Hence it is common
to see men who have escaped the clutches of a grisly, but only at the
cost of features marred beyond recognition, or a body rendered almost
helpless for life. Almost every old resident of western Montana or
northern Idaho has known two or three 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 wounds never entirely healed,
so that his disfigured visage was hideous to behold.

Most of these accidents occur in following a wounded or worried bear
into thick cover; and under such circumstances an animal 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
Alexander Moore, U. S. A., and my friend Captain Bates, with some men
of the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry, were scouting in Wyoming, near the Freezeout
Mountains. One morning they roused a bear in the open prairie and
followed it at full speed as it ran towards a small creek. At one spot
in the creek beavers had built a dam, and as usual in such places there
was a thick growth of bushes and willow saplings. Just as the bear
reached the edge of this little jungle it was struck by several balls,
both of its forelegs being broken. 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, instantly dismounted and prepared to force his way in
among the dwarfed willows, which were but breast-high. Among the men
who had ridden up were Moore and Bates, and also the two famous scouts,
Buffalo Bill--long a companion of Captain Moore,--and California Joe,
Custer's faithful follower. California Joe had spent almost all his life
on the plains and in the mountains, as a hunter and Indian fighter; and
when he saw the trooper about to rush into the thicket he called out
to him not to do so, warning him of the danger. But the man was a very
reckless fellow and he answered by jeering at the old hunter for his
over-caution in being afraid of a crippled bear. California Joe made no
further effort to dissuade him, 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 tearing the man's
arms and shoulders. Another soldier jumping down slew the beast with
a single bullet, and rescued his comrade; but though alive he was too
badly hurt to recover and died after reaching the hospital. Buffalo Bill
was given the bear-skin, and I believe has it now.

The instances in which hunters who have rashly followed 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.

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 unobserved it is not apt to attack; and in thick cover it is
really astonishing to see how one of these large animals can hide, and
how closely it will lie when there is danger. About twelve miles below
my ranch there are some large river bottoms and creek bottoms covered
with a matted mass of cottonwood, box-alders, bull-berry bushes,
rosebushes, ash, wild plums, and other bushes. These bottoms have
harbored bears ever since I first saw them; but, though often in company
with a large party, I have repeatedly beaten through them, and though we
must at times have been very near indeed to the game, we never so much
as heard it 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 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 jambed, and as he was endeavoring to work it he
kept stepping slowly back, facing the bear which followed a few yards
distant, snarling and threatening. Unfortunately while thus walking
backwards the man struck a dead log and fell over it, whereupon the
beast instantly sprang on him and mortally wounded him before help
arrived.

On rare occasions men who are not at the time hunting it fall victims to
the grisly. This is usually because they stumble on it 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 knowledge the man escaped with a shaking up, and without even a
fight. 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 stoke 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 unprovoked any intruder or even
passer-by. Others when threatened by the hunter leave their cubs to
their fate without a visible qualm of any kind, and seem to think only
of their own safety.

In 1882 Mr. Casper W. Whitney, now of New York, met with a very singular
adventure with a she-bear and cub. He was in Harvard when I was, but
left it and, like a good many other Harvard men of that time, took to
cow-punching in the West. He went on a ranch in Rio Arriba County, New
Mexico, and was a keen hunter, especially fond of the chase of cougar,
bear, and elk. One day while riding a stony mountain trail he saw a
grisly cub watching him from the chaparral above, and he dismounted to
try to capture it; his rifle was a 40-90 Sharp's. Just as he neared the
cub, he heard a growl and caught a glimpse of the old she, and he at
once turned up-hill, and stood under some tall, quaking aspens. From
this spot he fired at and wounded the she, then seventy yards off; and
she charged furiously. He hit her again, but as she kept coming like a
thunderbolt he climbed hastily up the aspen, dragging his gun with
him, as it had a strap. When the bear reached the foot of the aspen she
reared, and bit and clawed the slender trunk, shaking it for a moment,
and he shot her through the eye. Off she sprang for a few yards, and
then spun round a dozen times, as if dazed or partially stunned; for the
bullet had not touched the brain. Then the vindictive and resolute
beast came back to the tree and again reared up against it; this time
to receive a bullet that dropped her lifeless. Mr. Whitney then climbed
down and walked to where the cub had been sitting as a looker-on.
The little animal did not move until he reached out his hand; when it
suddenly struck at him like an angry cat, dove into the bushes, and was
seen no more.

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

Yet the very next spring the cowboys with my own wagon on the Little
Missouri round-up killed a mother bear which made but little more fight
than a coyote. She had two cubs, and was surprised in the early morning
on the prairie far from cover. There were eight or ten cowboys together
at the time, just starting off on a long circle, and of course they
all got down their ropes in a second, and putting spurs to their fiery
little horses started toward the bears at a run, shouting and swinging
their loops round their heads. For a moment the old she tried to bluster
and made a half-hearted threat of charging; but her courage failed
before the rapid onslaught of her yelling, 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, however, it may almost be said that a grisly
was more apt to attack than to flee. Lewis and Clarke and the early
explorers who immediately succeeded them, as well as the first hunters
and trappers, the "Rocky Mountain men" of the early decades of the
present century, were repeatedly assailed in this manner; and not a few
of the bear hunters of that period found that it was unnecessary to take
much trouble about approaching their quarry, as the grisly was usually
prompt to accept the challenge and to advance of its own accord, as
soon as it discovered the foe. All this is changed now. Yet even at the
present day an occasional vicious old bear may be found, in some far-off
and little-trod fastness, which still keeps up the former habit of its
kind. All old hunters have tales of this sort to relate, the prowess,
cunning, strength, and ferocity of the grisly being favorite topics for
camp-fire talk throughout the Rockies; but in most cases it is not safe
to accept these stories without careful sifting.

Still it is just as unsafe to reject them all. One of my own cowboys was
once attacked by a grisly, seemingly in pure wantonness. He was riding
up a creek bottom and had just passed a clump of rose and 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 repented 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 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 disturbed at mealtime. The man
was riding up a valley; and the bear was at an elk carcass, near a clump
of firs. As soon as it became aware of the approach of the horseman,
while he was yet over a hundred yards distant, it jumped on the carcass,
looked at him a moment, and then ran straight for him. There was no
particular reason why it should have charged, for it was fat and in
good trim, though when killed its head showed scars made by the teeth
of rival grislies. Apparently it had been living so well, principally
on flesh, that it had become quarrelsome; and perhaps its not over sweet
disposition had been soured by combats with others of its own kind.
In yet another case, a grisly charged with even less excuse. An old
trapper, from whom I occasionally bought fur, was toiling up a mountain
pass when he spied a big bear sitting on his haunches on the hill-side
above. The trapper shouted and waved his cap; whereupon, to his
amazement, the bear uttered a loud "wough" and charged straight down on
him--only to fall a victim to misplaced boldness.

I am even inclined to think that there have been wholly exceptional
occasions when a grisly has attacked a man with the deliberate purpose
of making a meal of him; when, in other words, it has started on the
career of a man-eater. At least, on any other theory I find it difficult
to account for an attack which once came to my knowledge. I was at Sand
point, on Pend'Oreille Lake, and met some French and Meti trappers, then
in town with their bales of beaver, 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 trapping trip with two companions. They had pitched camp
right on the shore of a cove in a little lake, and his comrades were off
fishing in a dugout or pirogue. He himself was sitting near the shore,
by a little lean-to, watching some beaver meat which was sizzling over
the dying embers. Suddenly, and without warning, a great bear, which had
crept silently up beneath the shadows of the tall evergreens, rushed at
him, with a guttural roar, and seized him 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, tracked off towards the forest, dragging with it the helpless
and paralyzed victim. Luckily the two men in the canoe had just paddled
round the point, in sight of, and close to, camp. The man in the bow,
seeing the plight of their comrade, seized his rifle and fired at
the bear. The bullet went through the beast's lungs, and it forthwith
dropped its prey, and running off some two hundred yards, lay down on
its side and died. The rescued man recovered full health and strength,
but never again carried his head 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 surprise of the moment.

At any rate, cases of wanton assaults by grislies are altogether out
of the common. The ordinary hunter may live out his whole life in the
wilderness and never know aught of a bear attacking a man unprovoked;
and the great majority of bears are shot under circumstances of no
special excitement, as they either make no fight at all, or, if they
do fight, are killed before there is any risk of their doing damage.
If surprised on the plains, at some distance from timber or from badly
broken ground, it is no uncommon feat for a single horseman to kill
them with a revolver. Twice of late years it has been performed in the
neighborhood of my ranch. In both instances the men were not hunters out
after game, but simply cowboys, riding over the range in early morning
in pursuance of their ordinary duties among the cattle. I knew both
men and have worked with them on the round-up. Like most cowboys, they
carried 44-calibre Colt 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 attempt 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 horsemen 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 animal, but excitable, and with
a habit of dancing, which rendered it difficult to shoot from its back.
The man was with the round-up wagon, and had been sent off by himself to
make a circle through some low, barren buttes, where it was not thought
more than a few head of stock would be found. On rounding the corner
of a small washout he almost ran over a bear which was feeding on the
carcass of a steer that had died in an alkali hole. After a moment of
stunned surprise the bear hurled himself at the intruder with furious
impetuosity; while the cowboy, 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 hollow; and
again by a quick dash to one side he just avoided the rush of the beast
and the sweep of its mighty forepaw. The bear then halted for a minute,
and he rode close by it at a run, firing a couple of shots, which
brought on another resolute charge. The ground was somewhat rugged
and broken, but his pony was as quick on its feet as a cat, and never
stumbled, even when going at full speed to avoid the bear's first mad
rushes. It speedily became so excited, however, as to render it almost
impossible for the rider to take aim. Sometimes he would come up close
to the bear and wait for it to charge, which it would do, first at a
trot, or rather rack, and then at a lumbering but swift gallop; and he
would fire one or two shots before being forced to run. At other times,
if the bear stood still in a good place, he would run by it, firing as
he rode. He spent many cartridges, and though most of them were wasted
occasionally a bullet went home. The bear fought with the most savage
courage, champing its bloody jaws, roaring with rage, and looking the
very incarnation of evil fury. For some minutes it made no effort to
flee, either charging or standing at bay. Then it began to move slowly
towards a patch of ash and wild plums in the head of a coulie, some
distance off. Its pursuer rode after it, and when close enough would
push by it and fire, while the bear would spin quickly round and charge
as fiercely as ever, though 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 afterwards 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 matter to catch him; and his frequent charges scatter his
tormentors in every direction while the horses become wild with fright
over the roaring, bristling beast--for horses seem to dread a bear more
than any other animal. If the bear cannot reach cover, however, his
fate is sealed. Sooner or later, the noose tightens over one leg, or
perchance over the neck and fore-paw, and as the rope straightens with a
"plunk," the horse braces itself desperately and the bear tumbles over.
Whether he regains his feet or not the cowboy keeps the rope taut; soon
another noose tightens over a leg, and the bear is speedily rendered
helpless.

I have known of these feats being performed several times in northern
Wyoming, although never in the immediate 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.

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 3rd 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 V.--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 Mexican lion,
and in the southern continent as lion and puma.

Without hounds its pursuit is so uncertain that from the still-hunter's
standpoint it hardly deserves to rank as game at all--though, by the
way, it is itself a more skilful still-hunter than any human rival. It
prefers to move abroad by night or at dusk; and in the daytime usually
lies hid in some cave or tangled thicket where it is absolutely
impossible even to stumble on it by chance. It is a beast of stealth and
rapine; its great, velvet paws never make a sound, and it is always
on the watch whether for prey or for enemies, while it rarely leaves
shelter even when it thinks itself safe. Its soft, leisurely movements
and uniformity of color make it difficult to 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 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 success regularly to
hunt the cougar without dogs or bait. Most cougars that are killed by
still-hunters are shot by accident while the man is after other game.
This has been my own experience. Although not common, cougars are found
near my ranch, where the ground is peculiarly favorable for the solitary
rifleman; and for ten years I have, off and on, devoted a day or two to
their 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 several, as well as a young heifer. Snow was falling at the time,
but the storm was evidently almost over; the leaves were all off the
trees and bushes; and I felt that next day there would be such a chance
to follow the cougar as fate rarely offered. In the morning by dawn I
was at the bottom, and speedily found his trail. 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 displayed by his kind, coolly
turned likewise, and deliberately 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, such as a lair which they had
just left, game they had killed, or one of our venison caches which
they had robbed, and have hunted for them all day without success.
My failures were doubtless due in part to various shortcomings in
hunter's-craft on my own part; but equally without doubt they were
mainly due to the quarry's wariness and its sneaking ways.

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

On the other occasion luck befriended me. I was with a pack train in
the Rockies, and one day, feeling lazy, and as we had no meat in camp, I
determined to try for deer by lying in wait beside a recently travelled
game trail. The spot I chose was a steep, pine-clad slope leading down
to a little mountain lake. I hid behind a breastwork of rotten logs,
with a few young evergreens in front--an excellent ambush. A broad game
trail slanted down the hill directly past me. I lay perfectly quiet
for about an hour, listening to the murmur of the pine forests, and the
occasional 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
unlooked-for and unheralded approach of the beast was fairly ghost-like.
With its head lower than its shoulders, and its long tail twitching, it
slouched down the path, treading as softly as a kitten. I waited until
it had passed and then fired into the short ribs, the bullet 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 hundred yards I found it stretched on its side, its jaws still working
convulsively.

The true way to hunt the cougar is to follow it with dogs. If the chase
is conducted in this fashion, it is very exciting, and resembles on a
larger scale the ordinary method of hunting the wildcat or small lynx,
as practised by the sport-loving planters of the southern States. With
a very little training, hounds readily and eagerly pursue the cougar,
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 mightiest
hunter America has ever seen, informs me that he has killed with his
pack some sixteen cougars, during the fifty years he has hunted in South
Carolina and Mississippi. I believe they were all killed in the latter
State. General Hampton's 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 shoulders, and down it
came in a heap, whereupon the dogs jumped in and worried it, for its
fore-legs were useless, though it managed to catch one dog in its jaws
and bite him severely.

A wholly exceptional instance of the kind was related to me by my old
hunting friend Willis. In his youth, in southwest Missouri, he knew a
half-witted "poor white" who was very fond of hunting coons. He hunted
at night, armed with an axe, and accompanied by his dog Penny, a large,
savage, half-starved cur. One dark night the dog treed an animal which
he could not see; so he cut down the tree, and immediately Penny jumped
in and grabbed the beast. The man sung out "Hold on, Penny," seeing that
the dog had seized some large, wild animal; the next moment the brute
knocked the dog endways, and at the same instant the man split open its
head with the axe. Great was his astonishment, and greater still the
astonishment of the neighbors next day when it was found that he had
actually killed a cougar. These great cats often take to trees in a
perfectly foolish manner. My friend, the hunter Woody, in all his thirty
years' experience in the wilds never killed but one cougar. He was lying
out in camp with two dogs at the time; it was about midnight, the fire
was out, and the night was pitch-black. He was roused by the furious
barking of his two dogs, who had charged into the gloom, and were
apparently baying at something in a tree close by. He kindled the fire,
and to his astonishment found the thing in the tree to be a cougar.
Coming close underneath he shot it with his revolver; thereupon it
leaped down, ran some forty yards, and climbed up another tree, where it
died among the branches.

If cowboys come across a cougar in open ground they invariably chase
and try to rope it--as indeed they do with any wild animal. I have known
several instances of cougars being roped in this way; in one the animal
was brought into camp alive by two strapping 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 know 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 it, unless by some unlucky chance taken in a cave. Nor
could a cougar overcome a bull moose, or a bull elk either, if the
latter's horns were grown, save by taking it unawares. 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
bighorn, white goat, and every kind of deer, while it also preys on all
the smaller beasts, such as foxes, coons, rabbits, beavers, and even
gophers, rats, and mice. It sometimes makes a thorny meal of the
porcupine, and if sufficiently hungry attacks and eats its smaller
cousin the lynx. It is not a brave animal; nor does it run its prey down
in open chase. It always makes its attacks by stealth, and if possible
from behind, and relies on two or three tremendous springs to bring it
on the doomed creature's back. It uses its claws as well as its teeth
in holding and killing the prey. If possible it always seizes a large
animal by the throat, whereas the wolf's point of attack is more often
the haunch or flank. Small deer or sheep it will often knock over and
kill, merely using its big paws; sometimes it breaks their necks. It
has a small head compared to the jaguar, and its bite is much less
dangerous. Hence, as compared to its larger and bolder relative, it
places more trust in its claws and less in its teeth.

Though the cougar prefers woodland, it is not necessarily a beast of the
dense forests only; for it is found in all the plains country, living in
the scanty timber belts which fringe the streams, or among the patches
of brush in the Bad Lands. The persecution of hunters however always
tends to drive it into the most thickly wooded and broken fastnesses of
the mountains. The she has from one to three kittens, brought forth in a
cave or a secluded lair, under a dead log or in very thick brush. It
is said that the old 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 themselves very early.
The first fall, after they are born, they attack large game, and from
ignorance are bolder in making their attacks than their parents; but
they are clumsy and often let the prey escape. Like all cats, cougars
are comparatively easy to trap, much more so than beasts of the dog
kind, such as the fox and wolf.

They are silent animals; but old hunters say that at mating time the
males call loudly, while the females have a very distinct answer. They
are also sometimes noisy at other seasons. I am not sure that I have
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 if its assailant is very
close, it rarely charges if there is any chance for escape. Yet there
are occasions when it will show fight. In the spring of 1890, a man with
whom I had more than once worked on the round-up--though I never knew
his name--was badly mauled by a cougar near my ranch. He was hunting
with a companion and they unexpectedly came on the cougar on a shelf of
sandstone above their herds, only some ten feet off. It sprang down on
the man, mangled him with teeth and claws for a moment, and then ran
away. Another man I knew, a hunter named Ed. Smith, who had a small
ranch near Helena, was once charged by a wounded cougar; he received a
couple of deep scratches, but was not seriously hurt.

Many old frontiersmen tell tales of the cougar's occasionally itself
making the attack, and dogging to his death some unfortunate wayfarer.
Many others laugh such tales to scorn. It is certain that if such
attacks occur they are altogether exceptional, being indeed of such
extreme rarity that they may be 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 were less shy than at present,
there was more danger from the cougar; and this was especially true
in the dark canebrakes of some of the southern States where the man
a 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
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 suddenly he spied the mother cougar running
noiselessly down on them, her eyes glaring and tail twitching. Snatching
up his rifle, he killed her when she was barely twenty yards distant.

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



CHAPTER VI.--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
drought; they were filled with fish. One lay quite near the ranch house,
under a bold rocky bluff; at its edge grew giant cypress trees. In
the hollows and by the watercourses were occasional groves of pecans,
live-oaks, and elms. Strange birds hopped among the bushes; the
chaparral cock--a big, handsome ground-cuckoo of remarkable habits, much
given to preying on small snakes and lizards--ran over the ground with
extraordinary rapidity. Beautiful swallow-tailed king-birds with rosy
plumage perched on the tops of the small trees, and soared and flitted
in graceful curves above them. Blackbirds of many kinds scuttled
in flocks about the corrals and 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 cattle were worked in pens much more than
in the North, and on all the ranches there were chutes with steering
gates, by means of which individuals of a herd could be dexterously
shifted into various corrals. The branding of the calves was done
ordinarily in one of these corrals and on foot, the calf being always
roped by both 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 literally as wild as deer, and moreover
very fierce and dangerous. The pursuit of these was exciting and
hazardous in the extreme. The men who took part in it showed not only
the utmost daring but the most consummate horsemanship and wonderful
skill in the use of the rope, the coil being hurled with the force and
precision of an iron quiot; 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 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
litter, 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 sentinel were
shot, another would almost certainly take his place. They were subject
to freaks of stupidity, and were pugnacious to a degree. Not only would
they fight if molested, but they would often attack entirely without
provocation.

Once my friend Moore himself, while out with another cowboy on
horseback, was 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
woodcutter'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' 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 mesquite tree, and
kept him there for nearly two hours, looking up at him and champing its
tusks.

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

Having satisfied myself that there were no javalinas left on the Frio
ranch, and being nearly at the end of my holiday, I was about to abandon
the effort to get any, when a passing cowman happened to mention the
fact that some were still to be found on the Nueces River thirty miles
or thereabouts to the 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, waterless plains. There had been a heavy
frost a few days before, which had blackened the budding mesquite trees,
and their twigs still showed no signs of sprouting. Occasionally we came
across open space 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 landscape. The road was nothing but
a couple of dusty wheel-tracks; the ground was parched, and the grass
cropped close by the gaunt, starved cattle. As we drove along buzzards
and great hawks occasionally soared overhead. Now and then we passed
lines of wild-looking, long-horned steers, and once we came on the
grazing horses of a cow-outfit, just preparing to start northward over
the trail to the fattening pasture. Occasionally we encountered one or
two cowpunchers: either Texans, habited exactly like their brethren in
the North, with broad-brimmed gray hats, blue shirts, silk neckerchiefs,
and leather leggings; or else Mexicans, more gaudily dressed, and
wearing peculiarly stiff, very broad-brimmed hats with conical tops.

Toward the end of our ride we got where the ground was more fertile,
and there had recently been a sprinkling of rain. Here we came across
wonderful flower prairies. In one spot I kept catching glimpses through
the mesquite trees of lilac stretches which I had first thought must
be ponds of water. On coming nearer they proved to be acres on acres
thickly covered with beautiful lilac-colored flowers. Farther on we
came to where broad bands of red flowers covered the ground for many
furlongs; then their places were taken by yellow blossoms, elsewhere
by white. Generally each band or patch of ground was covered densely
by flowers of the same color, making a great vivid streak across the
landscape; but in places they were mixed together, red, yellow, and
purple, interspersed in patches and curving bands, carpeting the prairie
in a strange, bright pattern.

Finally, toward evening we reached the Nueces. Where we struck it first
the bed was dry, except in occasional deep, malarial-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 bending our steps; and here we were received with the
hearty hospitality characteristic of the ranch country everywhere.

The son of the ranchman, a tall, well-built young fellow, told me at
once that there were peccaries in the neighborhood, and that he had
himself shot one but two or three days before, and volunteered to lend
us horses and pilot us to the game on the morrow, with the help of
his two dogs. The last were big black curs with, as we were assured,
"considerable hound" in them. One was at the time 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 procuring his companion
when we reached the goat-herder's house.

We started after breakfast, riding powerful cow-ponies, well trained to
gallop at full speed through the dense chaparral. The big black hound
slouched at our heels. We rode down the banks of the Nueces, crossing
and 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 mournful and desolate
look.

We finally found the queer little hut of the Mexican goat-herder in the
midst of a grove of giant pecans. On the walls were nailed the skins
of different beasts, raccoons, wild-cats, and the tree-civet, with its
ringed tail. The Mexican's brown wife and children were in the hut, but
the man himself and the goats were off in the forest, and it took us
three or four hours' search before we found him. Then it was nearly
noon, and we lunched in his hut, a square building of split logs, with
bare earth floor, and roof of clap-boards and bark. Our lunch consisted
of goat's meat and _pan de 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 bringing them to bay, his companion's chief use being to
make a noise and lend the moral support of his presence.

We rode away from the river on the dry uplands, where the timber, though
thick, was small, consisting almost exclusively of the thorny mesquites.
Mixed among them were prickly pears, standing as high as our heads on
horseback, and Spanish bayonets, looking in the distance like small
palms; and there were many other kinds of cactus, all with poisonous
thorns. Two or three times the 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 tress 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 they came near him, and once catching
one, inflicting an ugly cut. All the while his teeth kept going like
castanets, with a rapid champing sound. I ran up close and killed him
by a shot through the backbone where it joined the neck. His tusks were
fine.

The few minutes' chase on horseback was great fun, and there was a
certain excitement in seeing the fierce little creatures come to bay;
but the true way to kill these peccaries would be with the spear. They
could often be speared on horseback, and where this was impossible, by
using dogs to bring them to bay they could readily be killed on foot;
though, as they are very active, absolutely fearless, and inflict a most
formidable bite, it would usually be safest to have two men go at one
together. Peccaries are not difficult beasts to kill, because their
short wind and their 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 antagonist. 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 act, I know of but one case where a man was hurt by them.
He had shot at and wounded one, was charged both by it and by its two
companions, and started to climb a tree; but as he drew himself from
the ground, one sprang at him and bit him through the calf, inflicting
a very severe wound. I have known of several cases of horses being cut,
however, and the dogs are very commonly killed. Indeed, a dog new to the
business is almost certain to get very badly scarred, and no dog that
hunts steadily can escape without some injury. If it runs in right at
the heads of the animals, the probabilities are that it will get killed;
and, as a rule, even two good-sized hounds cannot kill a peccary,
though it is no larger than either of them. However, a wary, resolute,
hard-biting dog of good size speedily gets accustomed to the chase, and
can kill a peccary single-handed, seizing it from behind and worrying it
to death, or watching its chance and grabbing it by the back of the neck
where it joins the head.

Peccaries have delicately moulded short legs, and their feet are small,
the tracks looking peculiarly dainty in consequence. Hence, they do
not swim well, though they take to the water if necessary. They feed
on roots, prickly pears, nuts, insects, lizards, etc. They usually keep
entirely separate from the droves of half-wild swine that are so often
found in the same neighborhoods; but in one case, on this very ranch
where I was staying a peccary deliberately joined a party of nine pigs
and associated with them. When the owner of the pigs came up to them one
day the peccary manifested great suspicion at his presence, and finally
sidled close up and threatened to attack him, so that he had to shoot
it. The ranchman's son told me that he had never but once had a peccary
assail him unprovoked, and even in this case it was his dog that was the
object of attack, the peccary rushing out at it as it followed him home
one evening through the chaparral. Even around this ranch the peccaries
had very greatly decreased in numbers, and the survivors were learning
some caution. In the old days it had been no 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 VII.--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 a 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. 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 horseback, it nevertheless has its
merits, as the man must walk and run well, shoot with some accuracy, and
show considerable knowledge both of the country and of the habits of the
game.

During the last score of years an entirely different type of dog from
the fox-hound has firmly established itself in the field of American
sport. This is the greyhound, whether the smooth-haired, or the
rough-coated Scotch deer-hound. For half a century the army officers
posted in the far West have 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's the ranchmen of the great plains
themselves began to keep greyhounds for coursing (as indeed they had
already been used for a considerable time in California, after the
Pacific coast jack-rabbit), and the sport speedily assumed large
proportions and a permanent form. Nowadays the ranchmen of the cattle
country not only use their greyhounds after the jack-rabbit, but also
after every other kind of game animal to be found there, the antelope
and coyote being especial favorites. Many ranchmen soon grew to own fine
packs, coursing being the sport of all sports for the plains. In Texas
the wild turkey was frequently an object of the chase, and wherever the
locality enabled deer to be followed 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 it, and usually in
helping to finish it at the worry. With such packs I have had many a
wildly exciting ride over the great grassy plains lying near the Little
Missouri and the Knife and Heart Rivers. Usually our proceedings on such
a hunt were perfectly simple. We started on horseback and when reaching
favorable ground beat across it in a long scattered line of men and
dogs. Anything that we put up, from a fox to a coyote or a prong-buck,
was fair game, and was instantly followed at full speed. The animals we
most frequently killed were jack-rabbits. They always gave good runs,
though like other game they differed much 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
the brush coulie where the ground was moderately smooth, and after a
headlong chase of a mile they ran into him, threw him, and killed him
before he could rise. (His stiff-legged bounds sent him along at a
tremendous pace at first, but he seemed to tire rather easily.) On two
or three occasions we killed whitetail deer, and several times antelope.
Usually, however, the antelopes escaped. The bucks sometimes made a good
fight, but generally they were seized while running, some dogs catching
by the throat, others by the shoulders, and others again by the flank
just in front of the hind-leg. Wherever the hold was obtained, if the
dog made his spring cleverly, the buck was sure to come down with a
crash, and if the other dogs were anywhere near he was probably killed
before he could rise, although not infrequently the dogs themselves were
more or less scratched in the contests. Some greyhounds, even of high
breeding, 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
fighting dog; I saw one whip a big mastiff in short order, his wonderful
agility being of more account than his adversary's superior weight.

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

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 preserved the gravity of an
Indian, though having a disconcerting 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 occasions; 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 roused
the ire of even his long-suffering wife. As for his dogs, provided they
could run and fight, he cared no more for their looks than for his own;
he preferred the animal to be half greyhound, but the other half could
be fox-hound, colley, or setter, it mattered nothing to him. They were
a wicked, hardbiting crew for all that, and Mr. Cowley, in his flapping
linen duster, was a first-class hunter and a good rider. He went almost
mad with excitement in every chase. His pack usually hunted coyote, fox,
jack-rabbit, and deer; and I have had more than one good run with it.

My own experience is too limited to allow me to pass judgment with
certainty as to the relative speed of the different beasts of the chase,
especially as there is so much 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, 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 outturn 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.

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 surrounding, 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 Geneseo 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 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 abundance of cover, however, naturally decreases the number
of kills. It is a very fertile land, and there are few farming regions
more beautiful, for it is prevented from being too tame in aspect by
the number of bold hills and deep ravines. Most of the fences are high
posts-and-rails or "snake" fences, although there is an occasional stone
wall, haha, or water-jump. The steepness of the ravines and the density
of the timber make it necessary for a horse to be sure-footed and able
to scramble anywhere, and the fences are so high that none but very good
jumpers can possibly follow the pack. Most of the horses used are bred
by the 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
Bostonians present, several men who had come up from Buffalo for the
run, a couple of retired army officers, a number of farmers from the
neighborhood; and finally several members of a noted local family
of hard riders, who formed a class by themselves, all having taken
naturally to every variety of horsemanship from earliest infancy.

It was a thoroughly democratic assemblage; every one was there for
sport, and nobody cared an ounce how he or anybody else was dressed.
Slouch hats, brown coats, corduroy breeches, and leggings, or boots,
were the order of the day. We cast off in a thick wood. The dogs struck
a trail almost immediately and were off with clamorous yelping, while
the hunt thundered after them like a herd of buffaloes. We went headlong
down the hill-side into and across a brook. Here the trail led straight
up a sheer bank. Most of the riders struck off to the left for an easier
place, which was unfortunate for them, for the eight of us who went
straight up the side (one man's horse falling back with him) were the
only ones who kept on terms with the hounds. Almost as soon as we got to
the top of the bank we came out of the woods over a low but awkward rail
fence, where one of our number, who was riding a very excitable 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 lands, separated by stiff snake fences.
The run had been fast and the horses were beginning to tail. By the time
we suddenly rattled down into a deep 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. However, the
horses, thoroughly trained to timber jumping and to rough and hard
scrambling in awkward places, and by this time well quieted, took the
bars without 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 generally, although there are
now a number of well-established hunts, at least nine out of ten runs
are after a drag. Most of the hunts are in the neighborhood of great
cities, and are mainly kept up by young men who come from them. A few of
these are men of leisure, who can afford to devote their whole time to
pleasure; but much the larger number are men in business, who work hard
and are obliged to make their sports 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-working business men who wish to make the most out of every
moment of the little time they can spare from their regular occupations.
A single ride across country, or an afternoon at polo, will yield more
exercise, fun, and excitement than can be got out of a week's decorous
and dull 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 continuous, 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 different times been
imported, and some of them have turned out pretty well; but when they
first come over they are utterly unable to cross our country, blundering
badly at the high timber. Few of them have done as well as the American
horses. I have hunted half a dozen times in England, with Pytchely,
Essex, and North Warwickshire, and it seems to me probable that English
thoroughbreds, in a grass country, and over the peculiar kinds of
obstacles they have on the other side of the water, would gallop away
from a field of our Long Island horses; for they have speed and
bottom, and are great weight carriers. But on our own ground, where
the cross-country riding is more like leaping a succession of five or
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.

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 tailing, we came to a five-bar gate, out of a road--a
jump of just four feet five inches from the take-off. Up to this, of
course, we went one at a time, at a trot or hand-gallop, and twenty-five
horses cleared it in succession without a single refusal and with
but one mistake. Owing to the severity of the pace, combined with the
average height of the timber (although no one fence was of phenomenally
noteworthy proportions), a good many falls took place, resulting in an
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 difficulty in
following to the end of the run. I had divers adventures on this horse.
Once I tried a pair of so-called "safety" stirrups, which speedily
fell out, and I had to ride through the run without any, at the cost of
several tumbles. Much the best hunter I ever owned was a sorrel horse
named Sagamore. He was from Geneseo, was fast, a remarkably good jumper,
of great endurance, as quick on his feet as a cat, and with a 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 accidents occur to men on green or
wild horses, or else to those who keep in front only at the expense
of pumping their mounts; and a fall with a done-out beast is always
peculiarly 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 constitutionally timid person is out of place
in the hunting field. A really finished cross-country rider, a man who
combines hand and seat, heart and head, is of course rare; the standard
is too high for most of us to hope to reach. But it is 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 where hounds and horsemen can work, no one
could think of following the fox. It is pursued because the bigger
beasts of the chase have been killed out. In England it has reached its
present prominence only within two centuries; nobody followed the fox
while the stag and the boar were common. At the present day, on Exmoor,
where the wild stag is still found, its chase ranks ahead of that of
the fox. It is not really the hunting proper which is the point of
fox-hunting. It is the horsemanship, the galloping and jumping, and the
being out in the open air. Very naturally, however, men who have passed
their lives as fox-hunters grow to regard the chase and the object of
it alike with superstitious 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
riding to drag-hounds. Of course there is a difference in the two
sports, and the fun of actually hunting the wild beast in the one case
more than 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 bear, 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-hunting
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 diminutive horns of the European roebuck. These were the
only treasures he had taken with him to remind him of his former life,
and he was never tired of describing what fun it was to shoot roebucks
when driven by the little crooked-legged _dachshunds_. There were plenty
of deer and antelope 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 gentleman from France, a very
successful ranchman and a thoroughly good fellow; he cares nothing for
hunting big game, and will not go after it, but is devoted to shooting
cotton-tails in the snow, this being a pastime having much resemblance
to one of the recognized sports of his own land.

However, our own people afford precisely similar instances. I have
met plenty of men accustomed to killing wild turkeys and deer with
small-bore rifles in the southern forests who, when they got on the
plains and in the Rockies, were absolutely helpless. They not only
failed to become proficient in the art of killing big game at long
ranges with the large-bore rifle, at the cost of fatiguing tramps, but
they had a positive distaste of the sport and would never allow that it
equalled their own stealthy hunts in eastern forests. So I know plenty
of men, experts with the shot-gun, who honestly prefer shooting quail in
the East over well-trained setters or pointers, to the hardier, manlier
sports of the wilderness.

As it is with hunting, so it is with riding. The cowboy's scorn of every
method of riding save his own is as profound and as ignorant as is that
of the school rider, jockey, or fox-hunter. The truth is that each of
these is best in his own sphere and is at a disadvantage when made to do
the work of any of the others. For all-around riding and horsemanship, I
think the West Point graduate is somewhat ahead of any of them. Taken as
a class, however, 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
thoroughbreds in a steeple-chase, or the like. Other things being equal
(which, however, they generally are not), a bad, big horse fed on oats
offers a rather more difficult problem than a bad little horse fed on
grass. After Buffalo Bill's men had returned, I occasionally heard it
said that they had tried cross-country riding in England, and had shown
themselves pre-eminently skilful thereat, doing better than the English
fox-hunters, but this I take the liberty to disbelieve. I was in England
at the time, hunted occasionally myself, and was with many of the men
who were all the time riding in the most famous hunts; men, too, who
were greatly impressed with the exhibitions of rough riding then being
given by Buffalo Bill and his men, and who talked of them much; and yet
I never, at the time, heard of an instance in which one of the cowboys
rode to hounds with any marked success.[*] In the same way I have
sometimes in New York or London heard of men who, it was alleged,
had been out West and proved better riders than the bronco-busters
themselves, just as I have heard of similar men who were able to go
out hunting in the Rockies or on the plains and get more game than the
western hunters; but in the course of a long experience in the West I
have yet to see any of these men, whether from the eastern States or
from Europe, actually show such superiority or perform such feats.

     [*] 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.

It would be interesting to compare the performances of the Australian
stock-riders with those of our own cowpunchers, both in cow-work and in
riding. The Australians have an entirely different kind of saddle, and
the use of the rope is unknown among them. A couple of years ago the
famous western rifle-shot, Carver, took some cowboys out to Australia,
and I am informed that many of the Australians began themselves
to practise with the rope after seeing the way it was used by the
Americans. An Australian gentleman, Mr. A. J. Sage, of Melbourne, to
whom I had written asking how the saddles and styles of riding compared,
answered me as follows:

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

This last is a feat I have myself seen performed in the West. I suppose
the amount of it is that both the American and the Australian rough
riders are, for their own work, just as good as men possibly can be.

One spring I had to leave the East in the midst of the hunting season,
to join a roundup 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 different seat from that
adopted in the East. A cowboy rides with very long stirrups, sitting
forked well down between his high pommel and cantle, and 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 performance of a hundred other feats of reckless and daring
horsemanship, the cowboy is absolutely unequalled; and when he has his
own horse gear he sits his animal with the ease of a centaur. Yet he is
quite helpless the first time he gets astride one of the small eastern
saddles. One summer, while 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-country rider would master the dashing and peculiar style
of horsemanship shown by those whose life business is to guard the
wandering herds of the great western plains.

Of course, riding to hounds, like all sports in long settled, thickly
peopled countries, fails to develop in its followers some of the hardy
qualities necessarily incident to the wilder pursuits of the mountain
and the forest. While I was on the frontier I was struck by the fact
that of the men from the eastern States or from England who had shown
themselves at home to be good riders to hounds or had made their records
as college athletes, a larger 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 VIII.--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 intergrade with one another, however,
so that it is very difficult to draw a hard and fast line between any
two of them. Nevertheless, west of the Mississippi there are found two
distinct types. One is the wolf proper, or big wolf, specifically akin
to the wolves of the eastern States. The other is the little coyote, or
prairie wolf. The coyote and the big wolf are found together in almost
all the wilder districts from the Rio Grande to the valleys of the upper
Missouri and the upper Columbia. Throughout this region there is always
a sharp line of 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 districts. In
the upper Columbia country, for instance, they are very large; along the
Rio Grande they are small. Dr. Hart Merriam informs me that, according
to his experience, the coyote is largest in southern California. In many
respects the coyote differs altogether in habits from its big relative.
For one thing it is far more tolerant of man. In some localities coyotes
are more numerous around settlements, and even in the close vicinity
of large towns, than they are in the frowning and desolate fastnesses
haunted by their grim elder brother.

Big wolves vary far more in color than the coyotes do. I have seen
white, black, red, yellow, brown, gray, and grizzled skins, and others
representing every shade between, 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 difference in the size of the teeth, in some
cases even when the body of one wolf is as big as that of another. I
have seen wolves from Texas and New Mexico which were undersized,
slim animals with rather small tusks, in no way to be compared to the
long-toothed giants of their race that dwell in the heavily timbered
mountains of the Northwest and in the far North. As a rule, the teeth of
the coyote are relatively smaller than those of the gray wolf.

Formerly wolves were incredibly abundant in certain parts of the
country, notably on the great plains, where they were known as buffalo
wolves, and were regular attendants on the great herds of the bison.
Every traveller and hunter of the old days knew them as among the most
common sights of the plains, and they followed the hunting parties and
emigrant trains for the sake of the scraps left in camp. Now, however,
there is no district in which they are really abundant. The wolfers, or
professional wolf-hunters, who killed them by poisoning for the sake
of their fur, and the cattlemen, who likewise killed them by poisoning
because of their raids on the herds, have doubtless been the chief
instruments in working their decimation on the plains. In the '70's, and
even in the early '80'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 traveler. 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. However, the
diminution goes on, not steadily but by fits and starts, and moreover,
the beasts now and then change their abodes, and appear in numbers in
places where they have been scarce for a long period. In the present
winter of 1892-'93 big wolves are more plentiful in the neighborhood of
my ranch than they have been for ten years, and have worked some havoc
among the cattle and young horses. The cowboys have been carrying on the
usual vindictive campaign against them; a number have been poisoned, and
a number of others have fallen victims to their greediness, the cowboys
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 ridden
down, roped, and then dragged to death.

Yet even the slaughter wrought by man in certain localities does
not seem adequate to explain the scarcity or extinction of wolves,
throughout the country at large. In most places they are not followed
any more eagerly than are the other large beasts of prey, and they
are usually followed with less success. Of all animals the wolf is
the shyest and hardest to slay. It is almost or quite as difficult to
still-hunt as the cougar, and is far more difficult to kill with hounds,
traps, or poison; yet it scarcely holds its own as well as the great
cat, and it does not begin to hold its own as well as the bear, a beast
certainly never 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 Tennessee, and is found in Florida;
but is everywhere less abundant than the bear. It is possible that this
destruction of the wolves is due to some disease among them, perhaps to
hydrophobia, a terrible malady from which it is known that they
suffer greatly at times. Perhaps the bear is helped by its habit of
hibernating, which frees it from most dangers during winter; but
this cannot be the complete explanation, for in the South it does not
hibernate, and yet holds its own as well as in the North. What makes it
all the more curious that the American wolf should disappear sooner
than the bear is that the reverse is the case with the allied species of
Europe, where the bear is much sooner killed out of the land.

Indeed the differences of this sort between nearly related animals are
literally 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 explanation. In the same way there are
certain physical differences 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,
should be tamer than other closely allied species, like the mountain
sheep and ruffled 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 timber
wolf of the central and northern chains of the Rockies and coast ranges
is in every way a more formidable creature than the buffalo wolf of the
plains, although they intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves
of north-western Montana and Washington which I have seen were quite as
large and showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the skins and skulls
of Russian and Scandinavian wolves, and I believe that these great
timber wolves are in every way as formidable as their Old World
kinsfolk. However, they live where they come in contact with a
population of rifle-bearing frontier hunters, who are very different
from European peasants or Asiatic tribesmen; and they have, even when
most hungry, a wholesome dread of human beings. Yet I doubt if an
unarmed man would be entirely safe should he, while alone in the forest
in mid-winter encounter a fair-sized pack of ravenously hungry timber
wolves.

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, in exceptional instances,
reaches a height of thirty-two inches and a weight of 130 pounds; a big
buffalo wolf of the upper Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches
at the shoulder and weighs about 110 pounds. A Texas wolf may not reach
over eighty pounds. The bitch-wolves are smaller; and moreover there
is often great variation even in the wolves of closely neighboring
localities.

The wolves of the southern plains were not often formidable to large
animals, even in the days when they most abounded. They rarely attacked
the horses of the hunter, and indeed were but little regarded by these
experienced animals. They were much more likely to gnaw off the lariat
with which the horse was tied, than to try to molest the steed himself.
They preferred to prey on young animals, or on the weak and disabled.
They rarely molested a 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 Missouri and
Saskatchewan the wolf was, and is, more dangerous, 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 attack and kill a well-grown steer or cow disabling its
quarry by rapid snaps at the hams or flanks. Only rarely have I known it
to seize by the throat. Colts are likewise a favorite prey, but with us
wolves rarely attack full-grown horses. They are sometimes very bold in
their assaults, falling on the stock while immediately around the ranch
houses. They even venture into the hamlet of Medora itself at night--as
the 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 Mountains attack every
four-footed beast to be found where they live. They are far from
contenting themselves with hunting deer and snapping up the pigs and
sheep of the farm. When the weather gets cold and food scarce they band
together in small parties, perhaps of four or five individuals, and then
assail 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 Coeur d'Alenes, once witnessed such a feat on the part
of a wolf. He was taking his pack train down into a valley when he saw
a horse grazing therein; it had been turned loose by another packing
outfit, because it became exhausted. He lost sight of it as the trail
went down a zigzag, and while it was thus out of sight he 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 gallop. Immediately the
wolf was after it, overhauled it in three or four jumps, and then seized
it by the hock, while its legs were extended, with such violence as to
bring it completely back on its haunches. It again screamed piteously;
and this time with a few savage snaps the wolf hamstrung and partially
disembowelled it, and it fell over, having made no attempt to defend
itself. I have heard of more than once incident of this kind. If a horse
is a good fighter, however, as occasionally, though not often, happens,
it is a more difficult prey for any wild beast, and some veteran horses
have no fear of wolves whatsoever, well knowing that they can either
strike them down with their forefeet or repulse them by lashing out
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 wolf was just old enough to begin to feel vicious and
bloodthirsty, and to show symptoms of attacking the deer. On the
occasion in question he got loose and ran towards it, but it turned,
and began to hit him with its forefeet, seemingly in sport; whereat he
rolled over on his back before it, and acted like a puppy at play. Soon
it turned and walked off; immediately the wolf, with bristling hair,
crawled after, and with a pounce seized it by the haunch, and would
doubtless have murdered the bleating, struggling creature, had not the
bystanders interfered.

Where there are no domestic animals, wolves feed on almost anything from
a mouse to an elk. They are redoubted enemies of foxes. They are easily
able to overtake them in fair chase, and kill numbers. If the fox can
get into the underbrush, however, he can dodge around much faster than
the wolf, and so escape pursuit. Sometimes one wolf will try to put a
fox out of a cover while another waits outside to snap him up. Moreover,
the wolf kills even closer kinsfolk than the fox. When pressed by hunger
it will undoubtedly 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 remains of a coyote that had been killed in this manner. Wolves are
also very fond of the flesh of dogs, and if they get a chance promptly
kill and eat any dog they can master--and there are but few that they
cannot. Nevertheless, I have been told of one instance in which a wolf
struck up an extraordinary friendship with a strayed dog, and the two
lived and hunted together for many months, being 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 ground 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 together in packs.
They prefer to creep on their prey and seize it by a sudden pounce, but,
unlike the cougar, they also run it down in fair chase. Their slouching,
tireless gallop enables them often to overtake deer, antelope, or other
quarry; though under favorable circumstances, 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 followed. Pretty soon the jack turned slightly, and
ran near one of the outside ones, saw it, became much frightened, and
turned at right angles, so as soon to nearly run into the other outside
one, which had kept straight on. This happened several times, and then
the confused jack lay down under a sage-bush and was seized. So I have
seen two coyotes attempting to get at a newly dropped antelope kid. One
would make a feint of attack, and lure the dam into a rush at him, while
the other stole round to get at the kid. The dam, as always with these
spirited little prong-bucks, made a good fight, and kept the assailants
at bay; yet I think they would have succeeded in the end, had I not
interfered. Coyotes are bold and cunning in raiding the settler's
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 always, I regret to say, missed.
Often the wolf when seen was running at full speed for cover, or else
was so far off that though motionless my shots went wide of it. But once
have I with my own rifle killed a wolf, and this was while travelling
with a pack train in the mountains. We had been making considerable
noise, and I never understood how an animal so wary permitted our near
approach. He did, nevertheless, and just as we came to a little stream
which we were to ford I saw him get on a dead log some thirty yards
distant and walk slowly off with his eyes turned toward us. The first
shot smashed his shoulders and brought him 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 succession both of the large
mastiffs by which it was assailed. The immense agility and ferocity
of the wild beast, the terrible snap of his long-toothed jaws, and the
admirable training in which he always is, give him a great advantage
over fat, small-toothed, smooth-skinned dogs, even though they are
nominally supposed to belong to the fighting classes. In the way that
bench competitions are arranged nowadays this is but natural, as there
is no temptation to produce a worthy class of fighting dog when the
rewards are given upon technical points wholly unconnected with the
dog's 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 Texas 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 in 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. Usually, as soon
as they came across it, they would growl, bristle up, and then retreat
with their tails between their legs. But one of his dogs ever really
tried to master a wolf by itself, and this one paid for its temerity
with its life; for while running a wolf in a canebrake the beast turned
and tore it to pieces. Finally General Hampton succeeded in getting a
number of his hounds so they would at any rate follow the trail in full
cry, and thus drive the wolf out of the thicket, and give a chance to
the hunter to get a shot. In this way he killed two or three.

The true way to kill wolves, however, is to hunt them with greyhounds on
the great plains. Nothing more exciting than this sport can possibly be
imagined. It is not always necessary that the greyhounds should be of
absolutely pure blood. Prize-winning dogs of high pedigree often prove
useless for the 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 a hound. Not Cushing 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 cowman, whom I will call Judge Yancy Stump.
Judge Yancy Stump was a Democrat who, as he phrased it, had fought for
his Democracy; that is, he had been in the Confederate Army. He was
at daggers drawn with his nearest neighbor, a cross-grained mountain
farmer, who may be known as old man Prindle. Old man Prindle had been
in the Union Army, and his Republicanism was of the blackest and most
uncompromising type. There was one point, however, on which the two came
together. They were exceedingly fond of hunting with hounds. The
Judge had three or four track-hounds, and four of which 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 greyhound 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 cross
between a bull mastiff and a Newfoundland, while the father was descried
as being a big dog that belonged to a "Dutch Count." The "Dutch Count"
was an outcast German noble, who had drifted to the West, and, after
failing in the mines and failing in the cattle country, had died in a
squalid log shanty while 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 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 in couples, and the beautiful
greyhounds loped lightly and gracefully alongside the horses. The
country was fine. A mile to our right a small plains river wound in long
curves between banks fringed with cottonwoods. Two or three miles to our
left the 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 in 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 daytime and will not leave cover if
they can help it; and as they had both food and water within we knew
it was most unlikely that this couple would be gone. The valley was a
couple of hundred yards broad and three or four times as long, filled
with a growth of ash and dwarf elm and cedar, thorny underbrush choking
the spaces between. Posting the cowboy, to whom he gave his rifle, with
two greyhounds on one side of the upper end, and old man Prindle with
two others on the opposite side, while I was left at the lower end to
guard against the possibility of the wolves breaking back, the Judge
himself rode into the thicket near me and loosened the track-hounds to
let them find the wolves' trail. The big dogs also were uncoupled and
allowed to go in with the hounds. Their power of scent was very poor,
but they were sure to be guided aright by the baying of the hounds, and
their presence would give confidence to the latter and make them ready
to rout the wolves out of the thicket, which they would probably have
shrunk from doing alone. There was a 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 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 crossing us half a mile away. With whip and spur we flew
towards them, our two greyhounds stretching out in front and leaving
us as if we were standing still, the track-hounds and big dogs running
after them just ahead of the horses. 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
greyhounds exceeded; but almost immediately the second greyhound 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
completely over. The others jumped on it in an instant; but rising by
main strength the wolf shook himself free, catching one dog by the
ear and tearing it half off. Then he sat down on his haunches and the
greyhounds ranged themselves around him some twenty yards off, forming
a ring which forbade his retreat, though they themselves did not dare
touch him. However the end was at hand. In another moment Old Abe and
General Grant came running up at headlong speed and smashed into the
wolf like a couple of battering-rams. He rose on his hind-legs like a
wrestler as they came at him, the greyhounds also rising and bouncing up
and down like rubber balls. I could just see the wolf and the first big
dog locked together, as the second one made good his throat-hold. In
another moment over all three tumbled, while the greyhounds and one or
two of the track-hounds jumped in to take part in the killing. The big
dogs more than occupied the wolf's attention and took all the punishing,
while in a trice one of the greyhounds, having seized him by the
hind-leg, stretched him out, and the others were biting his undefended
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 plains, 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 other dogs with the pack. These greyhounds were trained to the
throat-hold, and did their own killing in fine style; usually six or
eight were slipped together. General Miles informs me that he once
had great fun in the Indian Territory hunting wolves with a pack of
greyhounds. They had with the pack a large stub-tailed mongrel, of
doubtful ancestry but most 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 dispatched the
quarry without much danger to themselves.

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

One of the most famous packs in the West was that of the Sun River Round
Club, in Montana, started by the stockmen of Sun River to get rid of the
curse of wolves which infested the neighborhood and worked very serious
damage to the herds and flocks. The pack was composed of both greyhounds
and 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 throat; for the
strength of the quarry is such that otherwise he will shake off the
dogs, and then speedily kill them by rabid snaps with his terribly armed
jaws. Where possible, half a dozen dogs should be slipped at once, to
minimize the risk of injury to the pack; unless this is done, and unless
the hunter helps the dogs in the worry, accidents will be frequent, and
an occasional wolf will be found able to beat off, maiming or killing,
a lesser number of 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 noble feats in
wolf-hunting. He spent the winter of 1875 in the Black Hills, which
at that time did not contain a single settler, and fairly swarmed with
game. Wolves were especially numerous and very bold and fierce, so that
the dogs of the party were continually in jeopardy of their lives. On
the other hand they took an ample 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 invariably throttled, rushing straight at
the throat, but the wounds they themselves received were generally in
the flank or belly; in several instances these wounds resulted fatally.
Once or twice a wolf was caught, and held by two greyhounds until the
horsemen came up but it took at least five dogs to overcome and slay
unaided a big timber wolf. Several times the feat was performed by
a party of five, consisting of two greyhounds, one rough-coated
deer-hound, and two cross-bloods; and once by a litter of seven young
greyhounds, not yet come to their full 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 IX.--IN COWBOY LAND.

Out on the frontier, and generally among those who spend their lives in,
or on the borders of, the wilderness, life is reduced to its elemental
conditions. The passions and emotions of these grim hunters of the
mountains, and wild rough-riders of the plains, are simpler and stranger
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 desperadoes, 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 who,
when these stages have passed, find themselves surrounded by conditions
which accentuate their worst qualities, 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 descendants would doubtless
accommodate themselves by degrees to the changing circumstances. But
unfortunately in the far West the transition takes place with marvellous
abruptness, and at an altogether unheard-of speed, and many a man's
nature is unable to change with sufficient rapidity to allow him to
harmonize with his environment. In consequence, unless he leaves for
still wilder lands, he ends by getting hung instead of founding a family
which would revere his name as that of a very capable, 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 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 criticizing him over-harshly for a
failure to discriminate in finer ethical questions. Moreover, not a few
of the men with whom I came in contact--with some of whom my relations
were very close and friendly--had at different times led rather tough
careers. This fact was accepted by them and by their companions as a
fact, and nothing more. There were certain offences, such as rape, the
robbery of a friend, or 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 decided
sense of humor, and a failure to appreciate that there was anything
especially remarkable in what they related, their tales were always
entertaining.

Early one spring, now nearly ten years ago, I was out hunting some lost
horses. They had strayed from the range three months 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 belonging to a Texas outfit,
whom I knew very well. After putting my horse into the corral and
throwing him down some hay I strode into the low hut, made partly of
turf and partly of cottonwood logs, and speedily warmed myself before
the fire. We had a good warm supper, of bread, potatoes, fried venison,
and tea. My two companions grew very sociable and began to talk freely
over their pipes. There were two bunks one above the other. I climbed
into the upper, leaving my friends, who occupied the lower, sitting
together on a bench 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 him loose by the Lazy B ranch, and when I came back
to git him there wasn't anybody at the ranch and I couldn't find him.
The sheep-man who lives about two miles west, under Red Clay butte,
told me he seen a fellow in a wolfskin coat, ridin' a pinto bronco, with
white eyes, leadin' that pony of mine just two days 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 over
tendin' bar at the Last Chance Hotel.'

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

"'Morning',' says he.

"'You be the probate judge?' says I.

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

"'I want justice,' says I.

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

"'It's for stealin' a horse,' says I.

"'Then by God you'll git it,' says he. 'Who stole the horse?' says he.

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

"'Well, where do you come from yourself?' said he.

"'From Medory,' said I.

"With that he lost interest and settled kind o' back, and says he,
'There won't no Cedartown jury hang a Cedartown man for stealin' a
Medory man's horse,' said he.

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

"'Do?' says he; 'well, you know where the man lives, don't you?' says
he; 'then sit up outside his house, to-night and shoot him when he comes
in,' says he, 'and skip out with the horse.'

"'All right,' says I, 'that is what I'll 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 getting' 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!'

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

The "town" where the judge above-mentioned dwelt was one of those
squalid pretentiously named little clusters of make-shift dwellings
which on the edge of the wild country spring up with the rapid growth of
mushrooms, and are often no longer lived. In their earlier stages
these towns are frequently built entirely of canvas, and are subject to
grotesque calamities. When the territory purchased from the Sioux, in
the Dakotas, a couple of years ago was thrown open to settlement, there
was a furious inrush of men on horseback and in wagons, and various
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," and an "opera house," was overwhelmed by early
disaster. The third day of its life a whirlwind came along and took off
the opera house and half the saloons; and the following evening lawless
men nearly finished the work of the elements. The riders of a huge
trail-outfit from Texas, to their glad surprise discovered the town and
abandoned themselves to a night of roaring and lethal carousal. Next
morning the city authorities were lamenting, with oaths of bitter rage,
that "them hell-and-twenty Flying A cowpunchers had cut the court-house
up into parts." It was true. The cowboys were in need of chaps, and
with an admirable mixture of adventurousness, frugality, and ready
adaptability to circumstances, had made substitutes therefore in the
shape of canvas overalls, cut from the roof and walls of the shaky
temple of justice.

One of my valued friends in the mountains, and one of the best hunters
with whom I ever travelled, was a man who had a peculiarly light-hearted
way of looking at conventional social obligations. Though in some ways
a true backwoods Donatello, he was a man of much shrewdness and of great
courage and resolution. Moreover, he possessed what only a few men do
possess, the capacity to tell the truth. He saw facts as they were, and
could tell them as they were, and he never told an untruth unless for
very weighty reasons. He was pre-eminently a philosopher, of a happy,
sceptical turn of mind. He had no prejudices. He never looked down, as
so many hard characters do, upon a person 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 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
incidents perfectly naturally and simply, as events, without any
reference to or regard for their ethical significance. It was this
quality which made him at times a specially pleasant companion, and
always an agreeable narrator. The point of his story, or what seemed to
him the point, was rarely that which struck me. It was the incidental
sidelights the story threw upon his own nature and the somewhat lurid
surroundings amid which he had moved.

On one occasion when we were out 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 that matter, and he went on:

"Well, the way of it was this: It was when I was keeping a saloon in New
Mexico, and there was a man there by the name of Fowler, and there was a
reward on him of three thousand dollars----"

"Put on him by the State?"

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

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

"Yes, by his wife. Him an her had been keepin' a faro bank, you see, and
they quarreled 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 Mexico 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, an 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 'r' goin' to do with them, no sir;
but of course you can have the guns.'" Here my friend's face lightened
pleasantly, and he continued:

"Well, you may easily believe I felt 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 wasn't true,
for I did know it, but there was no cause to tell him that." I murmured
my approval of such prudence, and Simpson continued, his eyes gradually
brightening with the light of 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
you. Now, I ain't goin' to get shot for no twenty-five dollars a day,
and if you are goin' to kill the Turk, just say so and go and do it; but
if you ain't goin' to kill the Turk, there's no reason why I shouldn't
earn that twenty-five dollars a day!' and Fowler, says he, 'I ain't
goin' to touch the Turk; you just go right ahead and protect him.'"

So Simpson "protected" the Turk from the imaginary danger of Fowler, for
about a week, at twenty-five dollars a day. Then one evening he happened
to go out and met Fowler, "and," said he, "the moment I saw him I knowed
he felt mean, for he begun to shoot at my feet," which certainly did
seem to offer presumptive evidence of meanness. Simpson continued:

"I didn't have no gun, so I just had to stand there and take it util
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'll
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
distrust as to the permanency of their own zeal for righteousness,
thought it best to settle the matter before there was time for cooling,
and accordingly, headed by Simpson, the mayor, the judge, the Turk,
and other prominent citizens of the town, they broke into the jail and
hanged Fowler. The point in the hanging which especially tickled my
friend's fancy, as he lingered over the reminiscence, was one that was
rather too ghastly to appeal to our own sense of humor. In the Turk's
mind there still rankled the memory of Fowler's very unprofessional
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 borderland 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 acquaintance are known by names entirely unconnected with those
they inherited or received when they were christened. Occasionally some
would-be desperado or make-believe mighty hunter tries to adopt what
he deems a title suitable to his prowess; but such an effort is never
attempted in really wild places, where it would be greeted with huge
derision; for all of these names that are genuine are bestowed by
outsiders, with small regard to the wishes of the person named.
Ordinarily the name refers to some easily recognizable accident of
origin, occupation, or aspect; as witness the innumerable Dutcheys,
Frencheys, Kentucks, Texas Jacks, Bronco Bills, Bear Joes, Buckskins,
Red Jims, and the like. Sometimes it is apparently meaningless; one of
my own 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 16th 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 undrtaking and I hoap you wile
get a good assortment of relicks I want to maik one suggestion to you
that is in regard to getting a good man and a genuine Mauntanner to take
charg of your haus at Chicago I want to recommend a man for you to get
it is Liver-eating Johnson that is the naim he is generally called he
is an old mauntneer and large and fine looking and one of the Best Story
Tellers in the country and Very Polight genteel to every one he meets I
wil tel you how he got that naim Liver-eating in a hard Fight with the
Black Feet Indians thay Faught 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 as their names; and the originality
may take the 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 in 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 complement, the belief
that any animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with wheels, can be
driven across any country. One summer on reaching the ranch I was
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 come 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 didn't mind it though." Of this I was less
certain, forlorn little Medora being a "busted" cow-town, concerning
which I once heard another of my men remark, in reply to an inquisitive
commercial traveller: "How many people lives here? Eleven--counting the
chickens--when they're all in town!"

My foreman continued: "By George, there was something that professor
said 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 wouldn'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 hadn't never
been druv but twice! And the other horse maybe had run away a few times,
but there was lots of times he _hadn't_ run away. I esteemed that team
full as liable not to run away as it was to run away," concluded my
foreman, evidently deeming this as good a warranty of gentleness as the
most exacting could require.

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

Such accidents are too common in the wild country to attract very much
attention; the men accept them with grim quiet, as inevitable in such
lives as theirs--lives that are harsh and narrow in their toil and their
pleasure alike, and that are ever-bounded by an iron horizon of hazard
and hardship. During the last year and a half three other men from the
ranches in my immediate neighborhood have met their deaths in the course
of their work. One, a trail boss of the O X, was drowned while swimming
his herd across a swollen river. Another, one of the fancy ropers of the
W Bar, was killed while roping cattle in a corral; his saddle turned,
the rope twisted round him, he was pulled off, and trampled to death by
his own horse.

The fourth man, a cowpuncher named Hamilton, lost his life during the
last week of October, 1891, in the first heavy snowstorm of the season.
Yet he was a skilled plainsman, on ground he knew well, and just before
straying himself, he successfully instructed two men who did not know
the country how to get to camp. They were all three with the round-up,
and were making a circle through the Bad Lands; the wagons had camped on
the eastern edge of these Bad Lands, where they merged into the prairie,
at the head of an old disused road, which led about due east from the
Little Missouri. It was a gray, lowering day, and as darkness came on
Hamilton's horse played out, and he told his two companions not to wait,
as it had begun to snow, but to keep on towards the north, skirting some
particularly rough buttes, and as soon as they struck the road to turn
to the right and follow it out to the prairie, where they would find
camp; he particularly warned them to keep a sharp look-out, so as not
to pass over the dim trail unawares in the dusk and the storm. They
followed his advice, and reached camp safely; and after they had left
him nobody ever again saw him alive. Evidently he himself, plodding
northwards, passed over the road without seeing it in the gathering
gloom; probably he struck it at some point where the ground was bad, and
the dim trail in consequence disappeared 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 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 trying to control a stampeded herd, or by being thrown
or rolled on by bucking or rearing horses; or their horses, and on rare
occasion 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 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 prospectors, hunters, cowboys, and settlers; the whites retaliated
whenever they got a chance, but, as always in Indian warfare, the
sly, lurking, bloodthirsty savages inflicted much more loss than they
suffered.

The three men, having a dozen horses with them, were camped by the
river-side in a 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 neighborhood. His companions both laughed at him, assuring
him that they were not Sioux at all but friendly Crows, and that
they would be in camp next morning; "and sure enough," said Woody,
meditatively, "they _were_ in camp next morning." By dawn one of the men
went down the river to look at some of the traps, while Woody started
out to where the horses were, the third man remaining in camp to get
breakfast. Suddenly two shots were heard down the river, and in another
moment a mounted Indian swept towards the horses. Woody fired, but
missed him, and he drove off five while Woody, running forward,
succeeded in herding the other seven into camp. Hardly had this been
accomplished before the 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, opened a perfect fusillade, wasting their cartridges
with a recklessness which Indians are apt to show when excited. The
hunters could hear the hoarse commands of the chiefs, the war-whoops and
the taunts in broken English which some of the warriors hurled at them.
Very soon all of their horses were killed, and the brush was fairly
riddled by the incessant volleys; but the three men themselves, lying
flat on the ground and well concealed, were not harmed. The more daring
young warriors then began to creep toward the hunters, going stealthily
from one piece of cover to the next; and now the whites in turn opened
fire. They did not shoot recklessly, as did their foes, but coolly and
quietly, endeavoring to make each shot tell. Said Woody: "I only fired
seven times all day; I reckoned on getting meat every time I pulled
trigger." They had an immense advantage over their enemies, in that
whereas they lay still and entirely concealed, the Indians of course had
to move from cover to cover in order to approach, and so had at times
to expose themselves. When the whites fired at all they fired at a man,
whether moving, or motionless, whom they could clearly see, while the
Indians could only shoot at the smoke, which imperfectly marked the
position of their unseen foes. In consequence the assailants speedily
found that it was a task of hopeless danger to try in such a manner to
close in on three plains veterans, men of iron nerve and skilled in the
use of the rifle. Yet some of the more daring crept up very close to the
patch of brush, and one actually got inside it, and was killed among the
bedding that lay by the smouldering camp-fire. The wounded and such of
the dead as did not lie in too exposed positions were promptly taken
away by their comrades; but seven bodies fell into the hands of the
three hunters. I asked Woody how many he himself had killed. He said
he could only be sure of two that he got; one he shot in the head as
he peeped over a bush, and the other he shot through the smoke as
he attempted to rush in. "My, how that Indian did yell," said Woody,
retrospectively, "_he_ was no great of a Stoic." After two or three
hours of this deadly skirmishing, which resulted in nothing more serious
to the whites than in two of them being slightly wounded, the Sioux
became disheartened by the loss they were suffering and withdrew,
confining themselves thereafter to a long range and harmless fusillade.
When it was dark the three men crept out to the river bed, and taking
advantage of the pitchy night broke through the circle of their foes;
they managed to reach the settlements without further molestation,
having lost everything 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 related, riding in company with a surveyor
of the Burlington and Quincy railroad, who was just coming in from
his summer's work. It was the first of October. There had been a heavy
snow-storm and the snow was still falling. Riding a stout pony each, and
leading another packed with our bedding, etc., we broke our way from
the upper to the middle geyser basin. Here we found a troop of the 1st
Cavalry camped, under the command of old friends of mine, Captain Frank
Edwards and Lieutenant (now Captain) John Pitcher. They gave us hay
for our horses and insisted upon our stopping to lunch, with the
ready hospitality always shown by army officers. After lunch we began
exchanging stories. My travelling companion, the surveyor, had that
spring performed 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 appeared 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, 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 dexterous feats of juggling, and the lucky
outcome of certain prophecies, he deeply stirred the Indians, arousing
the young warriors in particular to the highest pitch of excitement.
They became sullen, began to paint and armed themselves; and the agent
and the settlers nearby grew so apprehensive that the troops were
ordered to go to the reservation. A body of cavalry, including Captain
Edwards' troop, was accordingly marched thither, and found the Crow
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 circumstances, and such were the orders at this time. The Crows
on the hill-top showed a sullen and threatening front, and the troops
advanced slowly towards them and then halted for a parley. Meanwhile a
mass of black thunderclouds gathering on the horizon threatened one of
those cloudbursts of extreme severity and suddenness so characteristic
of the plains country. While still trying to make 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 uncertainty, not knowing what to make of his performance, and
expressly forbidden to shoot at him. Then paying no further heed to them
he rode back towards the Crows. It appears that he had told them that he
would ride twice around the hostile force, and by his incantations would
call down rain from heaven, which would make the hearts of the white
men like water, so that they should go back to their homes. Sure enough,
while the arrangements for the parley were still going forward, down
came the cloudburst drenching the command and 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 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 assurance that they had always been friendly and
had much disapproved the conduct of the young bucks who had just
been scattered on the field outside. It was much to the credit of the
discipline of the army that no bloodshed followed the fight proper. The
loss to the whites was small.

The other incident, related by Lieutenant Pitcher, took place in 1890,
near Tongue River, in northern Wyoming. The command with which he was
serving was camped near the Cheyenne Reservation. One day two young
Cheyenne bucks, met one of the government herders, and promptly killed
him--in a sudden fit, half of ungovernable blood lust, half of mere
ferocious lightheartedness. They then dragged his body into the brush
and left it. The disappearance of the herder of course attracted
attention, and a search was organized by the cavalry. At first the
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 anywhere the latter chose to appoint, and die
fighting. To this the commander responded: "All right; let them come
into the agency in half an hour." The chiefs 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 handsome war dress, galloped to the top of the hill
near the encampment, and deliberately opened fire on the troops. The
latter merely fired a few shots to keep the young desperadoes off, while
Lieutenant Pitcher and a score of cavalrymen left camp to make a circle
and drive them in; they did not wish to hurt them, but to capture
and give them over to the Indians, so that the latter might be forced
themselves to inflict the punishment. However, they were unable to
accomplish their purpose; one of the young braves went straight at them,
firing his rifle and wounding the horse of one of the 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 tribe, the warriors took their bodies
and bore them away for burial honors, the soldiers looking on in
silence. Where the slain men were buried the whites never knew, but all
that night they listened to the dismal wailing of the dirges with which
the tribesmen celebrated their gloomy funeral rites.

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

But I once listened to a goblin story which rather impressed me. It was
told by a grisled, weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman,
who was born and had passed all his life on the frontier. He must have
believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a shudder at certain
points of the tale; but he was of German ancestry, and in childhood had
doubtless been saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore, so
that many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind; besides, he
knew well the stories told by the Indian medicine men in their winter
camps, of the snow-walkers, and the spectres, and the formless evil
beings that haunt the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely
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 traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and cunning
wild beast; but whether this was so or not, no man can say.

When the event occurred Bauman was still a young man, and was trapping
with a partner among the mountains dividing the forks of the Salmon from
the head of Wisdom River. Not having had much luck, he and his partner
determined to go up into a particularly wild and lonely pass through
which ran a small stream said to contain many beaver. The pass had
an evil reputation because the year before a solitary hunter who
had wandered into it was there slain, seemingly by a wild beast, the
half-eaten remains being afterwards found by some mining prospectors who
had passed his camp only the night before.

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

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

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

They were surprised to find that during their short absence something,
apparently a bear, had visited camp, and had rummaged about among their
things, scattering the contents of their packs, and in sheer wantonness
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, laying out their beds and stores, and
lighting the fire.

While Bauman was making ready supper, it being already dark, his
companion began to examine the tracks more closely, and soon took a
brand from the fire to follow them up, where the intruder had walked
along a game trail after leaving the camp. When the brand flickered out,
he returned and took another, repeating his inspection of the footprints
very closely. Coming back to the fire, he stood by it a minute or two,
peering out into the darkness, and suddenly remarked: "Bauman, that bear
has been walking on two legs." Bauman laughed at this, but his partner
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 men rolled up in their
blankets, and went to sleep under the lean-to.

At midnight Bauman was awakened by some noise, and sat up in his
blankets. As he did so his nostrils were struck by a strong, wild-beast
odor, and he caught the loom of a great body in the darkness at the
mouth of the lean-to. Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague,
threatening shadow, but must have missed, for immediately afterwards
he heard the smashing of the underwood as the thing, whatever it was,
rushed off into the 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 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 shoulder their packs
and leave the valley that afternoon. They were the more ready to do this
because in spite of seeing a good deal of game sign they had caught
very little fur. However, it was necessary first to go along the line of
their traps and gather them, and this they started out to do.

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

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

On reaching the pond Bauman found three beaver in the traps, one of
which had been pulled loose and carried into a beaver house. He took
several hours in securing and preparing the beaver, and when he started
homewards he marked with some uneasiness how low the sun was getting.
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. 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 while
it buried its teeth in his throat. It had not eaten the body, but
apparently had romped and gambolled round it in uncouth, ferocious glee,
occasionally rolling over and over it; and had then fled back into the
soundless depths of the woods.

Bauman, utterly unnerved, and believing that the creature with which he
had to deal was something either half human or half devil, some great
goblin-beast, abandoned 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.





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