Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The freighters were instructed to look for these stakes after leaving Quinn's. Five days after Charlie's arrival, the freight teams arrived in camp. Each wagon had on a big rack, built like hay-racks. The hides were piled in this rack with a lap and boomed down tight like a load of hay. I have seen 200 bull-hides piled on one wagon. A dry bull-hide, as a rule, would weigh about fifty pounds.

So the reader may have some idea of a train of six yokes of oxen to the team, lead and trail wagon to each team, the lead wagon hauling nearly 200 hides, and the trail hauling from 100 to 150. In bad places the trail was uncoupled while the lead wagon was drawn to good going. Then the driver would go back and bring up his trail wagon, couple on, and proceed.

It was quite a sight to see an outfit of twenty-five teams, as was frequently the case, weaving its way through the heart of the range. After loading at the camps, I piloted the freighters to our first camp, and my services were rendered to Hart and Hickey. By this time Quinn's was getting to be quite a headquarters for the hunters; so Charlie and I pulled for their place.

When we got there there were not less than twenty outfits, large and small, there. Some were going to the Canadian, up in the Panhandle, others were going west up the McKenzie trail to the Whitefish country and vicinity. Not one there knew or ever heard of the O Z brand. While here, Hart changed his mind about the Canadian hunt, and decided he would go to the Whitefish country. He believed from what he had heard that we were near the line of the second division of the great herds. He argued that the buffaloes were in three grand divisions: those from British America coming south in the summer, as far as the Platte river, and returning north in the fall; those in central western Texas going north to the Platte in summer, and returning south in the fall; and all from the Staked Plains region down to the Rio Grande were located, and they traveled east, west, north and south a certain distance, heading the wind. Part of all of which was fact.

But in six months more I knew more about the buffaloes than I did then. For all buffaloes had their nostrils for their protection. They were keen of scent, and would run quicker from scent than sight or sound.

I remember that in the Wolf creek country north of the Canadian, in July of this same year, the country was full of buffaloes; and there were some of them far north yet of the Arkansas river. The wind, what there was at a certain time, came from the southwest for seven consecutive days, and every buffalo was either traveling or headed that way; and on the eighth day the wind changed to the east about midnight, and blew pretty strong all the next day. And all day long the buffaloes moved eastward. That night there was heavy thunder and sharp lightning in the south; and just before daylight the wind whipped to the south and rain began to fall. As soon as it was light we noticed the buffaloes were headed south, and moving _en masse_.

Then again: In the following November, while hunting on a little tributary of Red river, when they were on their southward swing, there came up a "norther," a common term used in the southwest for a sudden cold spell, with the wind generally coming from the north. For three days they were headed north and northwest. So I, and all hunters of any observation, would be justifiable in saying that when unmolested, as a rule their heads were toward the wind.

Another characteristic about them was the family tie. I have heard old hunters who grew up on the border-land of the last great range declare that, "Where little, isolated and disconnected bands were seen, on either side or rear of the great mass, they were all related, generally having some old cow for a leader."

While here at Quinn's I met a namesake who wanted a partner. He was a tall, sinewy, fine-looking plainsman. Had a family in northern Kansas and a homestead that a succession of drouths had driven him from, to get means to support his family; and the chase had captivated him. He had followed the buffaloes from Sawlog creek, north of the Arkansas river, to the Clear Fork of the Brazos. He had a good heavy team; and with a neighbor boy had done well, from a financial standpoint.

He sold 300 hides at Dodge City, Kansas, and did not know that it was against the law to hunt for the hides in his own State until after he had sold them. That was his midsummer hunt.

He then came south, and made an early fall hunt on the Washita, in the Panhandle of Texas, selling the hunt for $400. Then he made a late fall hunt on the North Fork of Red river, getting $300 worth of hides. Both of these last hunts he sold to Rath & Wright at Fort Elliott.

His winter hunt was made on California creek, between Quinn's and Fort Griffin, together with a few days' hunt on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. All of the last two netted him $471. He was paying the boy $25 per month.

He told me that he had sent most of his money to his family from Dodge City, Fort Elliott and Fort Griffin to their home in Kansas; that he wished to make a summer hunt on Commission creek, and the Wolf creek country, northwest of the Antelope hills and north of the Canadian river, in the Panhandle of Texas; and after making the summer hunt he would retire from the range.

"Now," said he, "I would like to have you for a partner, if you can see your interest that way."

I told him about my land claim in Nueces county; and that I was going to Fort Griffin, and from there to Albany, the county seat of Shackleford county, the county Fort Griffin was in, and from there I intended to commence the establishment of my claim to the land through an attorney; and not being in possession of the original warrant for the land, it would take some time to perfect my claim; that I did not want to be on expense during the time it took to establish the validity of my rights; that I was open to a proposition of hunting, but not of skinning buffaloes as a specialty.

He had injured one of his eyes, and wanted me to do the principal killing. He said he was going to Griffin, then to take the western cow trail, that crossed the North Fork of Red river, in a gap of the Wichita mountains; also the South Canadian at the Antelope hills, and on to Commission creek, where the Fort Dodge and Fort Elliott trail struck it. And would I give him an answer in Griffin?

I told him I would.

I told Charlie of my talk with Cook; and that I believed I would go with him. He replied that he always said that he never wanted to go partner in any kind of business; but if I would not stay with him any other way, he would take me into full partnership.

I said had I known that before it might have been different; but I had gone so far now that I did not think it right to break square off with the other man. "And I have never mentioned a partnership with you, for I knew your mind in relation to it long ago."

His only reply was that he hoped I would have the best of success. We separated at Quinn's and did not meet again until early in 1877.

Before Cook and I left for Griffin I put my new saddle on the O Z mare, the one I had picked up on the Indian trail. I had not tried to ride her before. Gentle as she seemed to be, I would not take any chances in trying her, for fear she might be a chronic bucker; and there being no crowd around to run her in case I was thrown, I thought to let the trial test go until a favorable opportunity, which this seemed to be, and the first real good one to present itself. She paid no attention to saddling, and when I mounted her she moved off nice and gingerly, and proved to be a camp pet.

The next morning after I arrived at Griffin I met Cyrus Reed. He and Hadley were now in partnership, and were outfitted for a hunt to be made near the head of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos. Cyrus read a bill of sale to me that he had in his possession for the steel gray O Z mare I had. It purported to be given to him by a man named Thomas Hubbard. The consideration was a Sharp's rifle and $14 in money. It was dated at Fort Griffin, and gave a complete description of the animal: "dark gray, branded O Z on left shoulder."

On the first impulse I felt that this bill of sale was _bogus_. I asked where Hubbard lived.

"Oh," said he, "he—lives—somewhere—in Kansas." I didn't ask him _where_.

"Well," I said, "is there any reliable person here that knows him?" He didn't know.

I said, "Let me have that paper. Who witnessed it? Who executed it? I must know all about it." He would not hand me the bill of sale.

I said: "Just let the O Z horse alone. I'll lay this case before Johnny Lorin, the sheriff of this county. He is right over there at Jackson's store. I am willing to turn the mare over to him, if you will give him the bill of sale, until we can locate this man Hubbard."

No; he wanted his mare.

I went to camp; led the mare up to Jackson's store, and found the sheriff. He was talking with Captain Millet, of the firm of Millet, Ellison & Deweese, a large cattle outfit. As I laid the case before the sheriff, Captain Millet took in the situation. He believed the bill of sale was a fraud. We all three hunted Reed up, and before we were done with him, he did not seem anxious to get the mare.

The captain and the sheriff both advised me to keep the mare in my possession for want of better proof of the validity of the bill of sale.

The facts were, that Hadley had seen the mare when he came to our camp, after his long absence; heard Charlie tell him how I had found her; he had walked all around her; looked in her mouth and looked her well over; and after he left thought that a bill of sale was a cheap way to get her. But it did not pan out, as the miner would say. He had used Cyrus for a stool-pigeon, and had taken the name of Hubbard in vain, if any such person ever existed.

I now told Cook that I would cast my lot with him for a summer hunt to the north. I bought a new wagon and harness; hitched "Keno" and the O Z mare together, which made me a fair team. Cook and I were to bear share and share alike all the expenses, and the same with the profits. We hired a Mexican called Pedro to skin buffaloes at 20 cents per hide, and we would board him whether at work or idle. The boy, Jimmie Dunlap, continued on at $25 per month, work or play. We bought our flour, groceries and ammunition of Jackson. I laid in a good supply, and after counting out the price of my saddle, wagon, harness, and some clothing, I had just $106 left from all sources. I had received $105 as camp watch and had $12 of the $96 I had brought from New Mexico.

So one fine morning we left the Clear Fork and made good daily drives to Commission creek, some 250 miles, without incident. The Mexican rode mostly with me and Jimmie Dunlap with the other Cook, whose given name was Charles, and whom, hereafter, I will call Charlie, as I did the famous hunter, Hart.

We caught up with the rear of the buffaloes at Red river. We camped one night at the gap of the Wichita Mountains, where the great western cattle trail crossed the North Fork of Red river. This is the trail that 200,000 head of Texas cattle passed over during the summer drive of 1881.

From the summit of one of these western spurs of the beautiful Wichita Mountains, I got a view of an inland empire-to-be. I had purchased an elegant pair of long-range field-glasses of Mr. Conrad, the post sutler at Fort Griffin, and with these I had a view that seldom falls to the lot of mankind for variety of scenery. The great herds of buffalo were in sight from any point of view, east, west, north and south, but the heaviest, thick, dark mass was many miles to the west. Skirting the edge of the tablelands, on the northern line of the Llano Estacado, northwest as far as the vision extended, were to be seen the seemingly countless bison. Looking down the Otter creek way were many scattering bands of antelope; and yonder to the southwest were three big gray wolves following a limping buffalo, whose leg perhaps some hunter had broken.

Coming down off of that mountain, east of me were hundreds of wild turkeys; looking back down the trail we came over and on still south of Red river, on a big flat as large as two Congressional townships, could be seen the herd of 3000 Texas cattle that we had passed by on the Wichita river. Even the covered cook-wagon was plainly to be seen in the rear of the long-strung-out herd, on its way to Ogalalla, Nebraska, and finally destined to the Wind river country in Montana.

Looking northward, coming down the trail is a covered wagon and a buggy and thirty-two cow-ponies being driven by two men, whom I learned afterward were on their way to Cleburne, Texas, after 2500 head of cattle, to stock a range on the Cimarron in the southwestern part of Kansas.

Yes, Sheridan was right. We hunters were making it possible for this to be done. As I turned away from this inspiring scene I felt that I had witnessed the greatest animal show on earth.

Coming on up the trail to the Antelope hills, we crossed the South Canadian and left the trail, taking a northwest course across a trackless broken country to Commission creek, where we heard the sound of the big fifties and the more rifle-like crack of the 44's. Our first night's camp on this creek was with Wrong-wheel Jones. He had been in this camp ten days and had 600 hides, an average of sixty per day, with three men employed.

There were three Joneses on the range at this time. Buffalo Jones, Dirty-face Jones, and Wrong-wheel Jones. The latter got his nickname the summer before. He had broken down the right hind wheel of his wagon. The Carr & Causey outfit came along by his camp the day the accident happened. They told him they had passed an abandoned wagon just like his in some sand-hills on Red Deer, about eight miles back, and that by following their tracks back he could find it easily. So Jones harnessed up his ponies, rode one, and led the other, taking along a pair of stretchers and a chain, went the eight miles, and found the wagon. And the _left_ hind wheel was the only one of the four but what was entirely useless.

He came back to camp and said that "The _right_ hind wheel had six spokes broken in it, and that he couldn't use it at all. The left-hand hind wheel would have done first-rate; but it was for the wrong side."

His two men, that were in camp at the time, commenced laughing at him.

"What are you fellers laffin' about?"

One of the men, known on the range as "Morning-star Dan," asked him, "Why he did not bring the left wheel along?"

"What do you reckon I want of two left hind wheels?" he replied.

At this the two men fairly roared with laughter. Jones would look at them and then at his broken wheel. Gradually _the truth dawned upon him_, and he joined in the laughter, and said, "Why, yes, I could turn that other wheel around and make it fit, couldn't I?"

So he made another trip and this time he dragged in the _left_ hind wheel. From that time on he was known as "Wrong-wheel Jones."

There were five other outfits, besides Wrong-wheel, on this creek. And, as it was close to the military trail, the hunters would go a long way for hides and bring them in from ten or twelve miles distance, when they could not find them nearer their camp. This was in order to get better freight rates to the railroad at Dodge City.

Charlie Cook and I decided to pull west by a little north for Wolf creek, where we arrived the evening of the day we left Wrong-wheel Jones's camp. Here was fine hunting. We had been at this, our first Wolf creek camp, about twenty days before we heard another hunter's gun in close proximity to our camp. In that twenty days we had secured 500 hides, or an average of twenty-five per day.

I started out to do the killing the next morning after we came to this camp. There were buffaloes in sight in nearly every direction. About three-fourths of a mile east of camp and near the route we come over the day before, there was a band of some 300 head. I chose them on account of the wind and the lay of the ground. I got up quite close and had as fine a first shot as I ever had, before or since. They were headed to the wind, and I had come on to them quartering it. There was a large cow standing somewhat in the lead. I pulled down for the regulation spot, and fired. To my astonishment, I shot her in the jaw. The shot startled the herd, and the cow, raising her head as high as she could and holding it high, off to one side, began turning around and around not knowing or caring where she was going—shaking her head violently as if she had Saint Vitus dance, and all the time coming closer to me each circle she made. I whaled away at her again, this time breaking her right front leg above the knee. At this shot she bolted past me, running in a straight line toward our camp with about fifty head following her. I began pumping lead at them as fast as I could load and fire, until they were over 200 yards from me and not an animal fell.

I straightened up, picked up my rest-sticks, and, in looking around saw that the others, that had not followed the cow, were nearly half a mile away, and walking slowly.

On looking to what had been my rear while I was shooting, I saw a small band slowly moving toward me, about one-fourth of a mile distant. I stooped over, and taking long strides I hurried to cross the wind so that they might not scent me, and I gained a point of vantage about 200 yards from where they were grazing along very slowly.

And here now I would make a killing. Taking the best shot that presented itself, I fired and the bullet went away to the right and kicked up a dust two hundred yards beyond them. They all turned back the way they came from, and I jumped up and ran, following them until they stopped, when I dropped flat upon the ground. Some had turned their heads and were looking back in the direction where I lay.

I gradually rose up into a sitting position as soon as they quit looking, and shot at the nearest one, and off the whole band went. I gave them six parting shots and not a bison fell. What kind of a hunter had Charlie Cook for a partner? Great Scott! here was a golden opportunity, and no results. Then I got fidgety and went to camp. Charlie had been watching me through my field-glasses, and when he saw that the broken-legged cow and the band that followed her would cross the creek a little way below camp, he struck down the creek with a belt full of cartridges and seventy-five extra rounds in a haversack. Just as they all got out a little way from the west bank of the creek and had slowed down to a slow walk, he shot the leader through the lungs, and the next one the same way. Noticing the broken-legged cow about the middle of the band, as it was strung out, he gave her a shot. By this time the first one he had shot lay down and others were hooking her, and the result was he got what is called "a stand," and killed thirty-seven of them, and could easily have exterminated the band, but what were left of them were mostly yearlings and two-year-olds which would be called kip hides, the price of which we were warned would not bring to exceed 75 cents apiece that year, and the buyers claimed they did not want them at all.

I could hear the sound of Charlie's gun as I was on my road to camp. But I did not think of him in connection with it, on account of his affected eye; but on arriving at camp I learned it was he.

The boys had both teams hitched up and were about to start in the direction I had been shooting.

I said, "Boys, I did not kill one; I'm no good."

Jimmie said: "Maybe your gun is no good. Did you look at the sights before you left camp? Charlie did the same thing last fall on the Washita. He shot away about thirty cartridges before he knew what was the matter."

I picked up my gun and looked, and sure enough! the front bead had slipped in the slot on the gun-barrel.

There was a large cotton wood tree about 110 yards from my wagon. I had the Mexican tack a box-lid onto the tree, with a charcoal in the center of it. The circle was eight inches in diameter. I took a rest off of the hind wheel of the wagon, fired, and missed the tree.

Just then Charlie came into camp, and finding out what my troubles were, he said, "I am glad you found it was not your fault."

We moved the bead block into the slot to where it had slipped from, and I fired again, getting inside the circle this time. Then I was pleased, and confidence in myself was again restored.

We all went to the killing, and were as busy as bees until the thirty-seven were skinned and the hides were in camp. That same evening I killed thirteen more buffaloes, and the next day eighteen more.

After the experience related above I never picked up my gun but what I would see to it that the sights were all right. All that summer I did most of the killing, but mostly with Charlie's gun; for my own gun had hoodooed me. If I made a wild shot, I examined the front sight. Any hunter will make wild shots sometimes. But that particular gun got on my nerves. I would keep thinking of and talking about that lost opportunity.

So after a few days Charlie said: "Now, John, when you do the killing, take my gun and leave me yours;" which I did thereafter.

Jimmie had a condemned army gun, the old Long Tom; and Pedro, the Mexican, had a Remington revolver that he called his pistolie.

Frequently, in a killing, the hunter would leave badly wounded buffaloes when in a hurry to go to another band. In such cases the skinners would give them their last shot, if they were not dead when they arrived on the skinning-ground.

After we had been in this camp about twenty days, the hunting was not as profitable as we liked, and hearing other guns down the creek we decided to hunt for another camp. Charlie and I went up the creek a good half-day's ride and found fair hunting, to which we moved our camp the next day, and the day following I made the biggest killing of all my three years' hunting.

It happened about midday. The weather was quite hot; for it was now the latter part of June. These buffaloes were undoubtedly very thirsty, for they came down to the creek from a broad plain to the northwest, and had probably been bombarded from the Beaver creek waters to the north when they were in a thirsty condition.

There must have been more than a thousand of them. They came on to the creek in a wild, pell-mell run. After drinking they came out on a flat about 150 yards from the creek, on the opposite side from where they entered it. There they stopped and commenced lying down. By the time I got up within good gunshot, perhaps half of them were lying down. At this time they had all shed their last year's growth of hair. Some that were standing seemed to be sound asleep. I was not more than eighty steps away when I began shooting. They were a mixed herd—very old and young bulls, old and younger cows, then all ages from red spring calves up. I shot a tremendously large bull first. All he did was to "cringe" a little. Not half of those lying down arose at the report of the gun. After making three good dead shots those closest to me moved off a little toward the creek. Getting in a good shot at the leader, I stopped him and that stopped the rest.

I now had, what I had so often heard about but had never actually seen before, _a stand_. Charlie Hart, while I was with him, had given me some good pointers how to manage "a stand," if I ever got one. He told me not to shoot fast enough to heat the gun-barrel to an over-expansion; to always try to hit the outside ones; to shoot at any that started to walk off, unless I thought they were mortally wounded. He said that "with an over-expanded gun-barrel the bullet would go wobbling, and would be liable to break a leg; and that would start a bolt."

After I had killed twenty-five that I knew of, the smoke from the gun commenced to hang low, and was slow in disappearing. So I shifted my position and, in doing so, got still closer. And I know that many of the herd saw me move. I had shot perhaps half a dozen times, when, as I was reloading, I heard a keen whistle behind me. Looking around I saw Charlie Cook. He was on his all-fours, creeping up to me. He said: "Go ahead; take it easy; I am coming with more cartridges." He crawled right up to my side with my gun and an extra sack of ammunition for me, and a canteen of water. He asked if the gun was shooting all right. I told him "Yes; but the barrel is pretty warm." He told me to try my own gun a while and let his gun cool a little. We exchanged guns, and I commenced again.

Even while I was shooting buffaloes that had not been shot at all, some would lie down apparently unconcerned about the destruction going on around them. I fired slowly and deliberately. Charlie poured some water from the canteen down the muzzle of his gun; then pulled down the breech-block and let the water run out. He then ran a greased rag in the eyelet of the wiping-stick and swabbed the barrel out, leaving the breech-block open for a while, thus cooling the barrel, in order to have that gun ready for use when my own gun got too warm.

About this time I shot an old cow that at the crack of the gun bolted down the creek. I shot at her three times in rapid succession. The third shot broke her back just forward of the coupling.

I laid the gun down and said, "Charlie, finish the job."

He said "No, take my gun and go ahead, this is the greatest sight I ever beheld."

I took his gun, and without thinking put in a 44 cartridge and fired. Then he put the cartridge-sack in front of me, saying, "You used one of your 44's that time." And as I pulled the breech-block down to put in another cartridge, a bull, about a six-year-old, started walking toward us, with his ferocious-looking head raised high. Before I could divine his intentions I fired, and he fell almost as suddenly as the cow whose back I had broken.

I would shoot five or six times, wipe the gun, and we would comment, in a low tone, on the apparent stupidity of the herd. Some came back and stood by the dead ones. Some would hook them as they lay dead. I kept this work up for as much as an hour and a quarter, when I changed guns again. And at the first shot from my own gun I broke the left hind leg above the knee of a big bull that was standing on the outer edge of the herd, about ninety yards from me. He commenced "cavorting" around, jamming up against others, and the leg flopping as he hopped about.

He finally broke in through the midst of the band and my _stand_. They all began to follow him, and I with the big 50 that I now took from Charlie, commenced a rear attack, Charlie putting cartridges in his belt which I was wearing; and with the belt about half full and several in one pocket, and a half-dozen or so in my left hand, I moved up to a dead buffalo, and got in several good shots; when I moved again, on through the dead ones, to the farthermost one, and fired three more shots and quit. As I walked back through where the carcasses lay the thickest, I could not help but think that I had done wrong to make such a slaughter for the hides alone.

In counting them just as they lay there, their eyes glassy in death, I had killed _eighty-eight_; and several left the ground with more bad than slight wounds.

Jimmie Dunlap and Pedro Laredo had driven up to within less than a quarter of a mile, and had witnessed more than half the slaughter.

I helped all hands at skinning until an hour from sundown; and, being nearly exhausted, lay down on the buffalo-grass, with a fresh-skinned hide rolled up for a pillow, and stretched myself out for a rest.

My nerves had been at a high tension; the heat of the day had been oppressive; then stooping over so much while taking off the hides I got dizzy; all of which contributed to my utter fatigue. The other three men worked on until it got too dark to see well; then we all went to camp, having skinned, all told, fifty-nine of the eighty-eight carcasses. I had killed bulls principally, on account of their hides being more valuable than the others. Sometimes I had to kill cows that were on the outside, and at times they would obstruct a shot at a bull.

The next morning early, Charlie, Jimmie and the Mexican drove out and finished the skinning, while I reloaded shells. Before noon everybody was in camp and the 88 hides pegged out and drying.

We hunted from this camp with varying success until the middle of July, when we moved south on the Canadian and camped on Red Deer, near where the Wood families and I camped the winter before with the soldiers and Kiowas. About a week before we made this move we went back and poisoned the hides at the first camp. Also, those at the second camp on Wolf creek. The day before we left it, Charlie and I had ridden south from Wolf creek to the edge of the Canadian breaks and saw a few scattering bands. But we thought there would be plenty of buffaloes in that region later on.

The day we moved, the Mexican wanted some antelope-hides to make himself a suit of clothes, and started ahead with my gun and belt, he taking the course that we told him we would take to cross the table-land, between the two streams. If my recollection serves me right, from where we were and the direction we would travel it was about ten or twelve miles. When Pedro handed me his "pistolie" I said, "Now, don't get lost; keep in sight of the wagons." He said he would. The antelopes were plentiful, indeed, along the route we were going; and off he went.

A few days before we moved, I had gone up Wolf creek about six miles from camp, this being very near the head of it, and while there I came across an abandoned Arapaho camp. The Indians had left it so suddenly the summer before—that being the summer of the Indian War of 1874, when they received such a severe punishment from the hunters near the Adobe Walls,—that they did not take time to move all their effects, and the camp for half a mile up and down the creek was strewn with tin cups, plates, stew-pans, camp-kettles or _brass kettles_, and several Dutch ovens, besides axes and hoes. I picked up one of these brass kettles and took it to camp.

We had been cooking our dried apples in a black sheet-iron kettle, and the apple-sauce had a dark, grimy look. I had a vivid recollection of a beautiful well-polished brass kettle that my mother used to cook fruit in, and in which she made fine preserves; but my observation went no farther. Now I thought we will cook our dried apples in this and our sauce will retain its natural dried-fruit color.

It so happened that the evening before we moved we cooked a kettle of dried apples and set them to one side with a lid over them. They were not thought of at the morning meal, nor until we were packing up to move camp. On this particular day I hauled the entire mess-kit. There was a five-gallon keg of water in each wagon, and when all was ready we pulled out of camp, Charlie and Jimmie in the lead.

After traveling about four miles I heard the report of a gun off to my left and rear. Upon bringing my field-glasses to a focus in the direction the report came from, I saw it was the Mexican. I said, "Charlie, you and Jimmie might go ahead to camp and maybe you'll get a chance to kill a few buffaloes. I'll mosey along slowly, and keep an eye on the Greaser; for he might get lost."

The two started on, and I watched the Mexican and saw that he was skinning an antelope. After he got through he threw the hide over his shoulder and started on south. When he passed a line east and west of me, I drove on, turning a little left from the route Charlie had taken. This I did in order to get closer to the Mexican; also to gain a high point of land ahead of me. I saw him skinning another antelope. All this was taking time; and as it was late when we left camp, it was now near noon, and I was hungry. I went to the hind end of the wagon, opened the mess-box, got some bread, took a spoon and dived into the apple-sauce. Eating out of the brass kettle from one side, I ate several large spoonfuls of it with my bread, then poured a quart cup full of water out of the keg, drank about half of it; then dived into the apple-sauce again, and ate until my appetite was perfectly satisfied.

I then got up on the spring seat and looked for the Mexican, but could not see him. Thinking now that he was acting in a sensible-like way, and that he had gone on south, I started ahead, and had not gone far until a strange sickening feeling came over me. The sun was boiling down and the heat radiating in front of me. I was getting dizzy-headed and "squeamish" in my stomach. I could hardly retain a sitting position, but before it was too late I stopped the team, climbed down and crawled under the wagon. Sick? Yes, unto death, as I then thought.

Whether I had gone to sleep or was unconscious I am unable to say. It was late in the afternoon before I came to a realization of anything. The first I knew was: The Mexican was bathing my face with a wet towel. He spoke fairly good English and said to me, "you are sick."

My sight coming to me, I asked him to get me some strong salt water, which I drank. It was an excellent emetic, for I was soon relieved of all that poisoned apple-sauce and sour-dough bread that I had eaten. Presently I could sit up, and the dizziness had passed; but I was, oh, so weak! Pedro told me he had come to me nearly an hour before. He had loosened the horses from the wagon and taken the wagon-sheet and hung it over the side of the wagon the sun was shining against, and had been washing my face, neck, and arms for some time. He said: "Now let me help you into the wagon and I will hitch up and we will go to camp." He helped me to get a reclining position, and started. After he had started, he asked me if I knew which side of us the other wagon-track was on. I told him, "To the right." When he found it he stopped and asked me how I was feeling. I replied, "Very sick. Don't you eat any of that apple-sauce. It has poisoned me." The fact was, I had been verdigris-poisoned from the brass kettle; and for several days I was an invalid without any appetite. And fifteen years elapsed before I could eat apple-sauce again.

It was now the breeding season of the buffaloes, which was July and August. And there was a constant muttering noise, night and day, made by the bellowing, or, more properly speaking, the roo roo-oo of the bulls, which in the individual case could not be heard in ordinary atmospherical conditions above a half-mile, but when uttered by the thousands has been known to be heard for twenty miles.

The mosquitoes punished our horses so severely at nights, and the green-head flies by day, that we decided to move southeast, to the top of the Washita divide. Charlie's left eye was gradually covering with a film, and he wanted to go home and have it operated on; so after we had moved to the divide, we established our camp on the prairie 200 yards from the water of a big spring that Buck Wood and I found the winter before when living in the cabin we had built. We left Jimmie and the Mexican here to do what they could with Charlie's and my gun. Taking the "pistolie" and Long Tom we went to the White Deer camp, and, loading all the hides on the two wagons, took them to Springer's ranch and sold them. We offered Springer our Wolf creek hunt, but he told us he did not have the money to pay for them; but, said he, "George Aikin's outfit will camp here to-night, going to Fort Elliott, with a load of Government supplies; and maybe you can get him to haul them to Dodge City."

It was nearly night, and while we were talking Aikin rode up. I had met him before, during the past winter, at Sweet Water, when I hired to Hart. I told him how we were situated, and he said that if we gave him the same rates as from Elliott and twenty dollars besides he would take all of the Wolf creek hides to Dodge City. He wanted to lay by and rest and graze up his teams at Commission creek, on his way back; and that he would load the train with hides at Sweet Water, less the number of wagons it required for our hides.

So it was settled that way. It was arranged that Charlie would be at Springer's when Aiken came back and pilot him to the hides. Aiken left us, saying he would be back to Springer's in eight days.

Charlie and I went back to our camp by way of the cabin; but it did not look natural. Nettles had grown up by one side of it ten feet high. A wild gourd vine had climbed over the roof and the wood-rats had piled one corner of the inside high up with chips, bark, sticks, turkey feathers, and pieces of bones that we had cracked to remove the marrow from. The big cottonwood grove was in full leaf; and as we drove on in the direction of camp we saw many flocks of young wild turkeys.

We arrived in camp about the middle of the afternoon; although we could have covered the actual distance the nearest way in less than three hours. The boys were out of camp when we got there, but came in late in the evening, having killed and skinned thirteen buffaloes, while we were gone.

When Charlie and Jimmie drove out the next morning to get the hides, there was a young calf standing by one of the carcasses, its mother being one of the victims of yesterday's work. It still had the reddish color that all buffalo calves have in their infancy, not obtaining their regular blackish brown until in the fall of the year, when they are very fat, plump and stocky, and take on a glossy look. I have watched buffaloes many times during my three years' hunt, not with a covetous eye at the time, but to study the characteristics of the animal; and I do not remember ever seeing buffalo calves frisky, gamboling, and "cavorting" around in playful glee like domestic calves. Perhaps their doom had been transmitted to them! Yes, this was the pathetic side of the question. And thousands of these little creatures literally starved to death, their mothers being killed from the time they were a day old on up to the time they could rustle their own living on the range. Charlie killed this calf and salted the hide to take home for a rug. But, personally, I should want no such reminder of the last buffalo-grounds, especially one gotten in that way. Charlie and I settled up in this camp, I taking over the supplies of all kinds we then had on hand. He was to go to Dodge with the Wolf creek hides, make the sale of them, pay the freight bill, pay Jimmie my half of his salary, and send my share of the hunt in money to Fort Elliott, together with half that was due the Mexican for what hides he had skinned.

The day before Aiken was to be at Springer's, we broke camp, and all pulled for that place. When Aiken came along he informed me that there was fine hunting on the Washita, at the mouth of Gageby creek. Bidding Charlie Cook and young Dunlap good-by, the Mexican and I pulled for the mouth of Gageby by way of the Washita ranch, on the trail to Fort Elliott.

Here I met Rankin Moore, the owner of the place. This is the man who saved my life a little over a year after. Here I learned that my friends, the Woods, just a few days before, had sold and quitclaimed their interest near the mouth of Gageby to the Andersons from the Picket Wire country of southeast Colorado, who were preparing to start a horse-and-cattle ranch. The Woods had gone 200 miles southeast and off from the then last and only remaining frontier of the Old Southwest. I was disappointed in not again meeting these Samaritans of the prairies.

Pedro and I pulled down the Washita on the south side of the stream, and crossed the Gageby near where it flows into the former stream. Here we camped among some large scattering cottonwood trees.

We were now near the one-hundredth meridian, and close to danger-ground. We had been in this camp about ten days and had been going from three to eight miles for what hides we got. Some days we got five hides, and from that up to ten, which was the most we got any one day.

The tenth day, toward evening, as we were pegging out the six hides we got that day, a band of Cheyenne Indians rode into our camp, saying "How, John; heap buffalo." At the same time holding out a long official envelope toward me. We were both down on our hands and knees cutting holes, driving pegs, and stretching the hides. The suddenness of their arrival startled us. My gun was about twenty feet from me. As I rose up I started toward it, whereupon the Indian, holding out the envelope, said, "No, no shoot; heap good," and turning the envelope toward me, said excitedly: "You see 'em! You see 'em!"—pointing to the envelope and saying, "_Big white man, heap chief_." I picked up the envelope, which was unsealed, and found out that it contained a pass from the commanding officer at Fort Reno, Indian Territory, "For the bearer and his family to visit James Springer, on the Canadian river, northwest of Springer's. And they must follow the Canadian river, both going and coming, and are not to be absent from their agency but twenty days."

They were then ten miles south of the Canadian, on the Washita. After reading the pass and handing it back; I said, "wayno" (bueno), a Spanish word for _good_, known far and near by hunters, trappers, soldiers, cowboys, and all tribes of Indians from the Rio Grande to British America. But it was more commonly expressed by the word "skookum," by the Crows, Blackfeet, and extreme northern tribes. "Skookum" is Chinook for "good." When I said "wayno," he repeated the word after me; then, pointing just a little way upstream, he said: "Me campa!" Away they went with their travois outfit about 200 yards, and camped. There were twenty-two of them, men, women, and children. Three young bucks lingered at our camp, and examined and talked among themselves about everything that attracted their attention. My bundle of eagle-feathers was in sight and caught their eyes. There was a flour-sack wrapped around them; and one of the young fellows picked up the bundle and brought it to where I was now cooking supper. He talked his own language, whatever that was, and made signs that he wanted me to take the sack off. I did so, and he examined them closely; then he bundled them up and said, "You swap?"

I had learned a good deal of the universal Indian sign-language from the Osages, in southeastern Kansas, and had picked up a little more from the Navajoes that were camped a short time near where I was once in New Mexico.

I now commenced to make use of it; and by signs I told him I would trade. When I gave the sign for "yes," he stepped closer to me and in pantomime he asked, "How much?"

I crooked my right thumb and forefinger so as to bring them in a circle, thus making the Indian sign for dollar. Then I held up both hands, palms toward him, all fingers and thumbs spread out, thus counting _ten_; then I quickly shut both hands and opened them again, then let them drop to my sides, indicating that $20 was my price. I think he had as good an idea of what $20 really meant as he did of where the "happy hunting-ground" was located.

They went to their own camp, and the next morning the one I talked with came back, leading a pinto pony. He wanted the feathers, and goodness knows how much sugar, coffee, tobacco, and powder. I measured out a pint of green coffee, and one quart of sugar; placed the eagle-feathers beside them, and sat down upon my ammunition-box and assumed a far-off look.

I had traded a good deal with the Osages; so I played Injun with Injun. I had looked the pony well over, seeing he was sound and large enough for a pack-horse, but too light for a saddle-pony for a man of my weight. Presently the Indian called my attention to a half-sack of flour which we were using from. It was standing by a tree. I got up, and, picking up the bread-pan, I turned it bottom-side up, placing it over the flour-sack and again sat down on the ammunition-box. He stood there a little while, then went up to a powder-can and made signs for powder. I got up, picked up the can, and set it in the hind end of the wagon, went and sat down again on the ammunition-box. He stood for a moment, then commenced laughing. I looked as sober as a judge and as wise as an owl. He picked up the feathers, examined them again, and could stand the nervous tension no longer. He motioned me to get a rope. I told him I wanted the one on the pony. He wanted some tobacco. I made a sign across the fingers of my left hand, showing how much I would give him. He nodded that stoical face and head, and the trade was made.

He wanted me to go to his camp with him, where he showed me his father's eagle-feather war-bonnet, and gave me to understand that now he would have one of his own. I judged him to be about 22 or 23 years of age. He was about 5 feet 11 inches tall, straight as an arrow, and withal had a rather pleasant countenance, of a serious look. His face was not hideously, but gaudily, painted with red and yellow vermilion. He wore a bear-claw necklace and the tail of a chapparal bird on the top of his head, just back of the scalp-lock. His wrists were encircled with broad, thin, highly polished steel bands. His breech-clout was nicely beaded and porcupine-quilled on front and rear flap. Among his tribe he was evidently a person of some distinction; but to me he was _just an Indian_.

When this band broke camp they struck northwest for Springer's. After they got over the divide the Mexican and I hooked up and loaded all our camp outfit, and what hides we could pull, and struck out for the head of Gageby, on the military trail. Pedro and Pinto with my new saddle lent considerable dignity to my outfit, he riding ahead, or off to one side, as fancy pleased him.

He called himself the scout. We camped near the head of the creek, and the next day went back for the rest of our hides. Here I made headquarters until the first of September, going as far east as we dared on account of the Indian Territory line, our camp being twelve miles west of this line, and about the same distance from Fort Elliott.

Some days we went west, taking our camp along. If we got a few hides by noon or a little after, we returned to camp; if not, we kept on, the Mexican scouting for water, which, when found, we camped by overnight.

Thus we put in the time until the first of September, when we pulled to Fort Elliott and Sweet Water. Here the Mexican fell in company with two of his race, and went with them to New Mexico.

In October I pulled south with two other outfits. We followed down the one-hundredth meridian line, keeping an average of about fifteen miles west on the Texas side to Red river, thence to the South fork of Pease river, where Willis Crawford and I went into camp for the winter.

I furnished everything and gave him a one-third interest in the hunt. We had fair success, and, all in all, as good a time as hunters could enjoy. We had fair hunting the most of the winter; but we did not rush matters as Hart did.

Freed's camp was five miles up the river from ours. Al. Waite and Frank Perry were three miles down the same stream; and north of us three miles, at some springs, was Dirty-face Jones.

Many times during the winter we visited each other's camps and passed many pleasant evenings in the buffalo-hide tepees or dugouts, as the case might be, exchanging experiences of the hunt; commenting upon the events occurring in the outside world when we occasionally heard of them. All this, interspersed with story-telling and song-singing, until the "wee sma' hours."

The turkeys in this region were just the opposite from those about our last winter's camp near the Salt Fork of the Brazos. Here they were tender, juicy and sweet; but not nearly so tame. But it would have been a very poor hunter indeed that in an hour or two's absence from camp could not bring in two or more of the big fat prizes.

This was a beautiful, mild winter, with the exception of two northers, one in November, the other in February, each lasting two or three days. On Christmas Day, and for several days before, the days were quite warm and the nights clear, with bright starlight, and pleasant. The sun usually rose from a perfectly clear sky, and passed down behind the horizon leaving a soft golden halo in its wake. This surely was the _American Hunters' Paradise_. And they were winning the Great Southwest. We hunters often talked about the future of this great, vast uninhabited region, with all its salt, gypsum, alkali and strongly impregnated sulphur waters, scattered over this vast expanse of territory 200 miles in width and 350 miles long, in western Texas alone. There were thousands of beautiful fresh-water springs of cool, pure water, and many babbling brooks where several varieties of fish abounded.

West of the pecan and oak shinnery ("cross-timber") belt, even on to the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado, were thousands of beautiful cottonwood groves, many wild plum bushes, and much mesquite.