Inter-Ocean Hunting Tales
By Edgar F. Randolph
FOREST AND STREAM PUBLISHING CO.
By Forest and Stream Publishing Co.
In this volume will be found a series ofarticles which in recent years have appearedin Forest and Stream. The incidents recountedtook place in widely separated parts of theUnited States and Canada.
As time slips by there is a pleasure inrecalling hunting exploits which have becomerelegated to a past that can be lived overagain only in memory. Whoever feels thesportsman’s ardor kindle when blood redtales of the hunt are related—an ardor whichthe camera enthusiast, who possesses merelya platonic love of sport cannot appreciate—maydiscover an excuse for this book. Itsstyle may strike one as somewhat informaland lacking in literary finish, but it should beborne in mind that too much formality islikely to take away the charm of camp life.iv
If you picture yourself seated on a log bythe open camp-fire you will not be apt tocriticize the absence of polish in the compositionof the text. You would as soon ask yourguide to substitute patent leather shoes forhis greased boots.
|Herd of Elk (Frontispiece)|
|Packing a Broncho||5|
|Hitting the Trail||65|
|The Teton Range||83|
|A Glimpse of Rocky Mountain Scenery||109|
|Pack Horses Rounded up for the Return||120|
|View From Mt. Leidy||140|
|Guide Edward Sheffield and two Elk Heads||145|
|Valley of Gros Ventre||150|
|Chas. Herdick Skinning a Bull Elk, the Author at the Right||160|
|Gros Ventre River||171|
INTER-OCEAN HUNTING TALES
REMINISCENCE OF THE ROCKIES
In the fall of 1896 I decided upon takinga hunting trip to the White River countryin Colorado. At that time the White Rivercountry was well supplied with game andmight almost be considered a sportsman’sparadise, or, as an Indian described it to me,like the “happy hunting grounds.” Deerwere very plentiful, and around Hayden andin California Park antelope were numerous,although very shy. Bull elk occasionallyadorned the landscape with their imposingpresence and splendid spread of antlers. Thecougar was heard occasionally, although neverseen unless hunted with dogs. Old “SilverTip” frequented the neighborhood, but hada way of making his bulky form vanish likesome apparition. His depredations, wherehe had mangled the carcass of some animal2or disturbed the habitations of a lot of smallfry under a rotten log, furnished evidence ofhis presence. There was enough large gamein the country to give some idea of what it hadbeen at a time when the Redskin was theundisputed proprietor of the soil.
I had secured, through correspondence, theservices of a guide who had been well recommended.Having heard considerably aboutthe cowboy, my curiosity had been somewhatexcited, and I desired to form a better acquaintancefrom actual experience. The Westwas then, to my mind, a geographicalarea possessing a certain wildness and wooliness,which my imagination pictured to me.The rapid trend of events makes a bookdescribing its general conditions seem behindthe times almost as soon as it is published.Much of what I had read and heard, however,seemed to me like a fairy tale in the faceof actual experience, although, allowing forexaggeration, back of it all it had a foundation3of facts. Every time I have visited theWest I have noticed the rapid progress ofchange.
During my first hunting experience, Inoticed that the typical bad man, of whom Ihad heard so much, with his rough-and-readymanner, accoutred with dangerous weapons,his social position established by the size ofhis private graveyard, was wanting. Thefacetious desperado, who had a pleasant wayof requesting the “tenderfoot” to dance whilehe marked time with his six-shooter, was “nonest.” An unappreciative community had organizedfrom time to time a few “necktieparties,” and the experience of such gentlemenhas since become an interesting themefor romance. The large settled communitiesof course had the same cosmopolitan air andcharacter that one finds in the East. Therewas, nevertheless, something in the socialatmosphere which impressed you with thefeeling that everything was very different.4The cowboy, of whom I had heard so much, Ilearned to recognize as generally a very quiet,civil person, never going out of his way to doextraordinary things nor to make himself conspicuous.A man of few words and not inclinedto familiarity, he is essentially a manof action, and prefers to take a short cutto accomplish his purpose. If one shouldconclude that his reserve and his reticencewere the result of mental torpor, he wouldmake a great mistake. Apparently takinglittle interest in a new acquaintance, and seemingto lack ordinary curiosity, I find that heis, notwithstanding, a very close observer andhas a quiet way of extracting informationwithout appearing eager to do so.
My guide engaged to meet me at Buford,Colo. Being unacquainted with the locality,I wrote to obtain information concerning therailroad station nearest my destination, andlearned that it was Rifle. When I arrived atRifle, I inquired about the best way to get5to Buford, and was informed, to my surprise,that I had a journey by wagon of sixtymiles to make. This was my first experiencewith the magnificent distances of the West.The result was that I miscalculated the timeof meeting my guide by an entire day. WhenI arrived at Buford on the evening of the nextday, my guide, whom I saw for the first time,rode up on a mustang, seated in a big Mexicansaddle. With an easy air, as though we hadbeen acquainted all our lives, he expressedhis pleasure at meeting me and advised allnecessary arrangements for the morrow’s starton our hunt back in the mountains.
It is interesting to notice how quickly andskillfully an experienced man can pack a lotof horses, apportioning the loads with greatfairness, and balancing the dead weight sothat it will ride easily on the backs of the notoverwilling animals. Packing seems easy, andif you want to know how easy it is, try it.After you have ridden a mile or so, perhaps,6some critical beast will begin to subject yourwork to a severe test by bucking. To expressthe state of your feelings when this happenswould be impossible, unless your sympatheticguide, who is generally an expert in swearing,can help you out.
The first day’s journey was rather long andtedious, a large part of it through monotonousstretches of sage brush. When at lengththe timber was reached, the change was mostagreeable. We arrived at the location of ourfirst camp without a mishap, unless having mylegs squeezed between the horse and a tree acouple of times could be considered as such.Although my guide knew his business as aguide, I could not recommend him as a first-ratecook. His efforts at making bread proveda flat failure, and we had to do without thestaff of life. The canned provisions, whichrequired practically no skill in their preparation,made the inefficiency of the cooking lessapparent.7
The camp being pitched in a well timberedand picturesque spot, we spent the rest of theafternoon in arranging everything and layingour plans for the next day. The waning sunlightfound us spread comfortably around abig camp-fire, which sent its genial glow farinto the dark recesses of the gloomy forest.When a great heap of burning faggots hadsunk into a bed of smouldering ashes and therising wind murmuring through the pinesgave warning of an approaching storm, Iconcluded to crawl under the bedding andsleep. The hard, frozen ground is not ascomfortable as a spring mattress, but I hadto get used to it, and was sleeping soundly,when I was awakened in the morning by thecheerful voice of the guide, who called out,“Breakfast!” as if he were summoning all theguests of a boarding house to a feast. WhenI crawled out of my sleeping bag into thechilly atmosphere, I found the guide doingthe chores in his stocking feet. A few dashes8of ice-cold water from the stream hard bydrove away all feeling of drowsiness, andmade me conscious of the fact that I had anappetite.
After breakfast, without waiting to putcamp in order, for the morning was alreadyadvanced, we started out in search of game.On coming to the edge of the timber, wherethe country opened up into one of the littleparks which we frequently found in thatlocality, I saw the tall form of my guideslowly stoop behind some bushes, while, atthe same time, he motioned me to be cautious.I soon saw what had arrested his attention. Amagnificent blacktail deer, with a fine set ofantlers, stood out in full view, not more thana hundred yards away. There were a half adozen does nearby, but they did not interestme. I brought “Old Meat in the Pot” to myshoulders, for that is what my guide hadchristened my .45-90, and after taking deliberateaim, fired. Which was the most astonished,9the buck, or myself, I could not say.He stood perfectly motionless, like an imagein bronze. I had evidently missed him. Asecond shot fared the same; then the wholebunch of deer began to scamper off unharmedby any of the shots I had fired at the buck.I could not account for the bad marksmanship,for I knew that I did not have the buckfever. The guide said that I had killed oneof the deer, which I disputed, until he pointedto a dying animal lying in a dense thicket justto the rear of the deer that had served as mytarget. I had not even seen it, until it waspointed out to me after I had shot it. Aftermaking several experiments with the rifle withoutsatisfactory results, I found that the sighthad been