Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches
Theodore Roosevelt

Part 3 out of 3

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.



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

Wolves show an infinite variety in color, size, physical formation,
and temper. 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

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.



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

" '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

"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

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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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