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Inter-Ocean Hunting Tales

118 pages
Library of Alexandria
In the fall of 1896 I decided upon taking a hunting trip to the White River country in Colorado. At that time the White River country was well supplied with game and might almost be considered a sportsman’s paradise, or, as an Indian described it to me, like the “happy hunting grounds.” Deer were very plentiful, and around Hayden and in California Park antelope were numerous, although very shy. Bull elk occasionally adorned the landscape with their imposing presence and splendid spread of antlers. The cougar was heard occasionally, although never seen unless hunted with dogs. Old “Silver Tip” frequented the neighborhood, but had a way of making his bulky form vanish like some apparition. His depredations, where he had mangled the carcass of some animal or disturbed the habitations of a lot of small fry under a rotten log, furnished evidence of his presence. There was enough large game in the country to give some idea of what it had been at a time when the Redskin was the undisputed proprietor of the soil. I had secured, through correspondence, the services of a guide who had been well recommended. Having heard considerably about the cowboy, my curiosity had been somewhat excited, and I desired to form a better acquaintance from actual experience. The West was then, to my mind, a geographical area possessing a certain wildness and wooliness, which my imagination pictured to me. The rapid trend of events makes a book describing its general conditions seem behind the 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 face of actual experience, although, allowing for exaggeration, back of it all it had a foundation of facts. Every time I have visited the West I have noticed the rapid progress of change. During my first hunting experience, I noticed that the typical bad man, of whom I had heard so much, with his rough-and-ready manner, accoutred with dangerous weapons, his social position established by the size of his private graveyard, was wanting. The facetious desperado, who had a pleasant way of requesting the “tenderfoot” to dance while he marked time with his six-shooter, was “non est.” An unappreciative community had organized from time to time a few “necktie parties,” and the experience of such gentlemen has since become an interesting theme for romance. The large settled communities of course had the same cosmopolitan air and character that one finds in the East. There was, nevertheless, something in the social atmosphere which impressed you with the feeling that everything was very different. The cowboy, of whom I had heard so much, I learned to recognize as generally a very quiet, civil person, never going out of his way to do extraordinary things nor to make himself conspicuous. A man of few words and not inclined to familiarity, he is essentially a man of action, and prefers to take a short cut to accomplish his purpose. If one should conclude that his reserve and his reticence were the result of mental torpor, he would make a great mistake. Apparently taking little interest in a new acquaintance, and seeming to lack ordinary curiosity, I find that he is, notwithstanding, a very close observer and has a quiet way of extracting information without appearing eager to do so.