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were they?" etc., etc. All of these were an- heat. All the evening was employed in getting swered but the first, and the man got down to ready and making the most formidable prepsettle that apparently simple problem. But arations for the next day's chase, and I was the longer he looked the more mystified we appealed to by the novices for information all became; and when the carcass was thrown of all kinds, as if I were a Kit Carson or a behind one of the saddles no one was the Daniel Boone. Ordinarily the horses are fed wiser, the doctor even going so far as to say half their forage at night and half in the that the antelope might have been frightened morning, whether they be on full or reduced to death. Reaching camp late that evening, forage; but in this case the rule was departed we found that none of the others had seen from, and the “elk” horses received threeany game during the day, which made us feel quarters forage at night and a quarter forage a little more pride about our slight capture. in the morning. As the weather threatened The doctor brought up the subject of the sin- to be stormy, the horses were blanketed so gular killing, which revived in each one a dozen that none would feel stiff and chilly on starting similar instances. We had not finished, when the next day. Even the mules were given extra a sharp rap at the tent-flap was heard, and feed, to prevent these noisy creatures from the head of the hunter who had been with breaking forth in stentorian brays, as they are us that day appeared. With a grin he said: very likely to do when a little hungry and “ Lieutenant, the cook has found out where there is any semblance of feeding going on the antelope was shot.” Each one present, in around them. Some energetic soldiers get up his own eager way, asked for an immediate early in the morning and spend a good while report, and the hunter continued with the in- in a thorough grooming of their horses, which formation that the bullet had gone through the no doubt freshens them for a lively dash of a few gullet, and when he cut it with his hunting- miles. The question of arms and ammunition knife to bleed the animal, he had not noticed was settled by our being armed with the govit. When he started to look it up, the slashed ernment Springfield carbines, although a far throat precluded all apparent possibility of superior weapon for these horseback chases another wound in the same place.
are any of the trustworthy kinds of magazine The most important problem of the chase, guns. Even the old Sharp's carbine was better, however, was what to do as the result of the because when heated by rapid firing to a point day's investigations, and we were not long in where it would no longer eject the cartridge determining to break camp next morning, and shell by the usual methods, the open guard move over to the Middle Fork of the Loup, could be brought down on the pommel of some twenty miles to the northward, where the saddle with a vehemence that brought out the prospects were supposed to be better. In the shell or broke the guard, and ninety-nine fact, this stream was our main objective point cases in a hundred it would be the former. in starting out, but the Dismal was always With the Springfield carbine, however, the worth giving a fair trial, and in some instances rider was hors de combat under the same cirhad proved to be better hunting-ground than cumstances. In hunting game on horseback, the main stream. As we approached the Mid- the cartridges are taken from the belts, given dle Loup the next afternoon, a few scatter- a good cleaning, and the number that it is exing snow-flakes were falling softly around us pected will be used on a single run— from in the gloomy weather, but as a light fall of twenty to thirty — are placed in the right-hand snow was exactly what we wanted, we saw side-pocket of a loose-fitting sacque coat. I them more with pleasure than with regret. Too know of no improvement on this very simple deep a fall, however, was more to be deplored method. With a Sharp's carbine I have in than none at all. Just as camping was nearly this way used sixty cartridges in a single run completed, an over-zealous flanker, who had after buffaloes. We went to bed early, with pushed his excursions some three or four miles good intentions of rising early for the fray, to the westward, put in an appearance, and but, as generally happens, we did not get a reported that not only had he seen abundant wink of sleep till well past our usual hours. signs of elk (we ourselves had crossed a small, We were up in good time, however, for the simfresh trail that day), but had seen the animals ple reason that the night sentinels had orders themselves on the crest of a distant hill. He to look after that; and although at first many had made no unusual efforts to ascertain their yawned and stretched in the cold night air, numbers, for fear of frightening them, but judg- fully an hour before daylight, it was not long ing from the trail which he had crossed, he before all were thoroughly awake and keener had estimated the herd to number from five than ever for the sport. hundred to a thousand. As he was a trusty We hurried through our breakfast of halftrailer and hunter, his statements sent our cooked antelope steak and hot coffee, and thermometer of hunting-excitement up to fever when daylight streamed through the dark-gray eastern clouds it saw our little party of about a horns in the high valley grass near a clump dozen moving up the valley of the Middle of willow brake about forty yards away. He Loup, talking in whispers and closely filing af- expressed a desire to examine them more ter one another in sets of two. The wagons had closely, and I sent a trumpeter back to pick orders to follow in about an hour, and sooner them up. He left the ranks to do so, everyif they heard firing; and the mules were being thing, for reasons that are manifest, being done watered and hitched up as we “pulled out” of in as noiseless and subdued a manner as poscamp. As the wind was in the south, I thought sible. When the trumpeter was within about it best to follow the valley of the Loup to a point ten yards of the horns, the owner of them, a directly opposite the place where the herd had noble buck five or six years old, with a snort been "raised” by the sergeant the day before, that startled every one jumped high into the and then make squarely for it. When we struck air, and with a bound started for the main herd, the trail, we could follow it up until we over- leaving us all too astounded to know what to took the game. The sergeant had seen the do. Seeing the main column, he wheeled abherd so late the evening before, and we had ruptly around, and, dashing across the Loup, started so early, with a dismal, dreary night made to the northward. Had this animal and a light fall of snow in our favor, that I reached the main herd, as he at first attempted had but few doubts of finding it soon after we to do, our fun would have been ended for that left the river. One amusing incident of our day. It was a great temptation to shoot at him, march will show how narrowly our well-ar- and the trumpeter, forgetting all the surroundranged plan escaped utter failure. While riding ings, started to pull his pistol and fire; but his alongside of me when within about a mile of rearing horse, half frightened out of his wits, our point of turning out from the valley, the by wheeling and plunging prevented him from judge, a venerable Nimrod with white hair doing so. that had taken nearly sixty winters to bleach, I remember, on another hunt after elk in but with an enthusiasm for the sport of a man the Nebraskan hills, planned on the same of half his years, saw a large pair of fine elk- method as this, that when nearing the herd of elk that we had pretty definitely located, bush on the crest of the hill a third of a mile and while crossing the “pocket” of a cañon away. The bush proved to be the fine antlers liberally wooded or“ brushed" with wild plums of a young buck, and when we had crept a and rose-bushes, a couple of white-tailed deer little higher we saw twenty or thirty other elk jumped up just beyond the clump, from forty about him, some of them lying down and to fifty yards away, and remained in full view plainly outlined against the white snow. When
until we had ridden by. They were so close we had returned and mounted our horses that any one of the party could have easily again there came the difficult feat of winding killed them. Not till we had passed did they around through the lowest levels and depresrun away. There were a number of experi- sions and gaps, and at the same time making enced hunters in the party who had often headway towards the game while keeping comhunted this wary animal, and every one ac- pletely out of their sight. Another ravine was knowledged it to be the boldest effrontery reached, and once more two of us dismounted ever shown by that species of deer. Surely and crawled forward to the crest to get a view these two must have known how fatal to our of the situation. It was also necessary to do success with the elk the sound of a gun-shot so rapidly, for it was perfectly evident that would have been at that moment.
the outlying members of the herd were close After the incident of the elk-horns we ad- by, and the snorting and snuffing of a horse vanced up the valley of the Loup for nearly a might send them away with the speed of the mile; then turning abruptly southward against wind. I felt perfectly satisfied, before I got the wind, we began to ascend a long winding half-way across the slope, that a substratum acclivity up through a little valley where luxu- of sand makes a much better support for a riant grass grew as high as our stirrups. Look- covering of snow for crawling purposes than ing ahead even a couple of hundred yards, we can ever be found in the thick growth of the could see stripes of darker green cutting at prickly-pear of the plains, although on this all angles through this grass, and advancing particular slope Nature seemed to think otherwarily we saw the tracks of elk in the light wise. Nearing the crest of the ridge, I secured covering of snow. Our party huddled together a “tumble-weed” or “ rolling-weed,”— one of in the ravine while two of us dismounted and those globular perennials of the plains that slowly crawled up the slight ascent. About when dead is pulled up by the wind and goes two-thirds of the way up we saw a moving rolling around over the prairies at the mercy of the blast,— and, keeping it in front of my fell home in their chambers. All the horses' face, took a careful view ahead.
ears were as rigidly set towards the crest Not more than a hundred yards away was about a hundred yards away as if they were a fine grouping of game that would have de- a charge of fixed bayonets, and the red, lighted the heart of Landseer, and certainly dilated nostrils, the fixed eyes, and the heavdelighted mine. Slowly retreating until the ing breasts showed that they, too, felt all the friendly ridge more covered us, we excitement of their masters. We had arranged crawled back through the cactus to rejoin our plans the night before, and now we hur
our horses and our impatient comrades. As ried to carry them out. Down the hollow of I mounted, I said briefly that our time was the ravine the hunters, separated from one at hand and the battle not far off. I believe another by a space of from three to four the horses knew this better than the men, for yards and facing the ridge that hid us from as I came crawling back through the snow the unsuspecting elk, were stretched like a every equine ear in the party followed me as skirmish-line, while I rode out in front of closely as if I had a bushel of oats in my the center of the line just far enough to be possession; and when I mounted my own easily seen by all. Looking hurriedly along little sorrel he was trembling from head to the little line, I saw that all were ready, foot, and he lay his nose against my knee with the loaded carbines pointing in the air, as if to gain information in his own pecu- the butts resting on the right thighs, and liar way. Every horse in that platoon knew a couple of spare cartridges in each man's as well as every man what was ahead of hand. Raising the butt of my carbine high him, — and better, too, for all of them had in the air as a signal for starting, I took a been in those exciting chases more times half-dozen steps forward at a prancing walk, than two-thirds of the party. The only noises brought the carbine down to a level, and the that broke the hush of the still morning line took up a trot for a dozen yards. Then I were a few hurried whispers and the ominous raised the carbine muzzle up and the party clicks of the breech-locks as the cartridges broke into a long, swinging gallop. Half-way across the frosted slope, the carbine was raised there was a singular silence, incongruous with to full arms-length, and we burst over the ridge so much rapidly varying excitement; for orat a gait that “Hanover” or “ Iroquois” might ders had been given that not a whisper should envy, and with an unbroken line worthy of be heard till the elk had broken in an organthe Cent-Gardes. The swift impetus carried ized run in a definite course. As the western the sweeping crowd half-way from the ridge to wall of elk-horns opened in that direction,
the sleepy elk before the latter gained their with a princely buck at the head, there went feet, and by the time the dumfounded brutes up from us a yell that clove the very clouds, had“ bunched," — the first act of an affrighted and scattered the band only to bunch again. herd, — we were right in among them. Many That shout delayed them hardly three seconds, of the older hunters dropped their carbines but that three seconds made a success of the across their saddle-bows, and pulling their hunt, and before it ended we were among them, revolvers delivered a deadly fire at blinding every citizen and soldier now his own individrange. Dashing through this little bewildered ual commander, and responsible for his own herd like a gust of wind, the hunting party success. Far down on my right the marshal's swung to the left of the slope of the long carbine had been knocked from his hand by ridge where, from a hundred and fifty to the horns of a plunging buck, while near me, on two hundred yards away, the main herd' had the left, a burly Würtemberger corporal, with “ bunched,” six to eight hundred, if not a empty, smoking pistol, brought the barrel thousand, strong. With all the rough rattle down like a club on the head of an elk that of shots, the hard hitting of horns against was trying, in the crush, to push its way directhorns, and the drum-like clatter of the hoofs, ly over his horse. The elk fell to the ground