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good shot, is a mistake. He says: "My eyes are bad and my hand is not over steady. I can never hope to be a very fine shot.'
His idea of a thrill is quite original, if not altogether delightful. While hunting alone in Idaho, he was rushed by a wounded grizzly, and himself relates the happy experience, the most thrilling of his life, he says:
“I held true, aiming behind the shoulder, and my bullet shattered the point or lower end of his heart, taking out a big nick. Instantly the great bear turned with a harsh roar of fury and challenge, blowing the bloody foam from his mouth, so that I saw the gleam of his white fangs: and then he charged straight at me, crashing and bounding through the laurel bushes, so that it was hard to aim. I waited until he came to a fallen tree, raking him as he topped it, with a ball which entered his chest, and went through the cavity of his body; but he neither swerved nor Alinched, and at the moment I did not know that I had struck him. He came steadily on, and in another second was almost upon me. I fired for his forehead, but my bullet went low, entering his open mouth, smashing his lower jaw and going into his neck. I leaped to one side almost as I pulled the trigger; and through the hanging smoke, the first thing I saw was his paw as he made a vicious side blow at me. The rush of his charge carried him past. As he struck he lurched forward, leaving a pool of bright blood where his muzzle hit the ground; but he recovered himself, and made two or three jumps onward, while I hurriedly jammed a couple of cartridges into the magazine, my rifle holding only four, all of which I had fired. Then he tried to pull up; but as he did so, his muscles seemed suddenly to give way, his head dropped, and he rolled over and over like a shot rabbit. Each of my first three bullets had inflicted a mortal wound."
The reason why he is so successful in killing game, is he is as cool in firing at a beast as in target shooting. He says, in his “Shooting Trips of a Ranchman,” which abounds with sport and information:
"Our Western hunters are, as a body, to the full as good marksmen as, and probably much better than, any other body of men in the world, not even excepting the Dutch Boers or Tyrolese Jagers, and a certain number of them who shoot a great deal at game, and are able to squander cartridges very freely, undoubtedly become crack shots and perform really wonderful feats. As an instance, there is old ‘Vic, a former scout and Indian fighter, and concededly the best hunter on the Little Missouri; probably there are not a dozen men in the West who are better shots or hunters than he is, and I have seen him do more skillful work. He can run the muzzle of his rifle through a board so as to hide the sights, and yet do quite good shooting at some little distance; he will cut the head off a chicken at eighty or ninety yards, shoot a deer running through brush at that distance, kill grouse on the wing early in the season, and knock over antelopes when they are so far off that I should not dream of shooting. He firmly believes, and so do most men that speak of him, that he never misses. Yet I have known him make miss after miss at game, and some that were not especially difficult shots either. One secret of his success is his constant practice. He is firing all the time at marks, small birds, etc., etc., and will average from fifty to a hundred cartridges a day; he certainly uses nearly twenty thousand a year.”
The President says of the old time hunters, that nearly a hundred years ago they struck out beyond the Mississippi, "steered their way across the flat and endless seas of grass, or pushed up the valleys of the great lonely rivers, crossed the passes that wound among the towering peaks of the Rockies, toiled over the melancholy wastes of sage brush and alkali, and at last, breaking through the gloomy woodland that belts the coast, they looked out on the heaving waves of the greatest of all the oceans.”
He adds there are not many of them left now. “The basin of the Upper Missouri was their last stronghold, being the last great hunting ground of the Indians, with whom the white trappers were always fighting and bikering, but who nevertheless by their presence protected the game that gave the trappers their livelihood. My cattle were among the very first to come into the land, at a time when the buffalo and beaver still abounded, and then the old hunters were common. Many a time I have hunted with them, spent the night in their smoky cabins, or had them as guests at my ranch. But in a couple of years after the inrush of the cattlemen, the last herds of the buffalo were destroyed, and the beaver were trapped out of all the plains' streams."
This story by the President of Big Horned Sheep, relates largely to the art of keeping warm. He says:
“We started by starlight. The snow lay several inches deep on the ground; the whole land was dazzling white. It was very cold. Within the ranch everything was frozen solid in spite of the thick log walls; but the air was so still and clear that we did not realize how low the temperature was. Accordingly, as the fresh horse I had to take was young and wild, I did not attempt to wear my fur coat. I soon felt my mistake. The windless cold ate into my marrow; and when, shortly after the cloudless winter sunrise, we reached our hunting grounds and picketed out the horses, I was already slightly frost bitten. But the toil of hunting over the snow covered crags soon made me warm. All day. we walked and climbed through the white wonderland. On every side the snowy hills, piled one on another, stretched away, chain after chain, as far as sight could reach. The stern and iron-bound land had been changed to a frozen sea of billowy, glittering peaks and ridges. At last, late in the afternoon, three great big horn suddenly sprang up to our rigirt and crossed the table land in front of and below us at a strong, stretching gallop. The lengthening sunbeams glinted on their mighty horns; their great supple brown bodies
were thrown out in bold relief against the white landscape; as they plowed their long strides through the powdery snow, their hoofs tossed it up in masses of white spray. On the left of the plateau was a ridge, and as they went up this I twice fired at the leading ram, my bullets striking under him. On the summit he stopped and stood for a moment looking back three hundred and fifty yards off, and my third shot went fairly through his lungs. He ran over the hill as if unharmed, but lay down a couple of hundred yards on, and was dead when we reached him. It was after nightfall when we got back to the horses, and we rode home by moonlight.. To gallop in such weather insures freezing; so the ponies shambled along at a single foot trot, their dark bodies white with hoar frost, and the long icicles hanging from their lips. The cold had increased steadily; the spirit thermometer at the ranch showed twenty-six degrees Fahrenheit below zero. We had worked all day without food or rest, and were very tired. On the ride home I got benumbed before I knew it and froze my face, one foot and both knees. Even my companion, who had a great coat, froze his nose and cheeks. Never was a sight more welcome than the gleam of the fire-lit ranch windows to us that night. But the great ram's head was a trophy that paid for all.”
We have here a pen-picture of the plains when the nights are long:
When the days have dwindled to their shortest, and the nights seem never ending, then all the great northern plains are changed into an abode of iron desolation. Sometimes furious gales blow out of the north, driving before them the clouds of blinding snow dust, wrapping the mantle of death round every unsheltered being that faces their unshackled anger. They roar in a thunderous bass as they sweep across the prairie or whirl through the naked canons; they shiver the great brittle cotton-woods, and beneath their rough touch the icy limbs of the pines that cluster in the gorges sing like the chords of an Aeolian harp. Again, in the coldest midwinter weather, not a breath of wind may stir ; and then the still, merciless, terrible cold that broods over the earth like the shadow of silent death seems even more dreadful in its gloomy rigor than is the lawless madness of the storms. All the land is like granite; the great rivers stand still in their beds, as if turned to frosted steel. In the long nights there is no sound to break the lifeless silence. Under the ceaseless, shifting play of the Northern Lights, or lighted only by the witty brilliance of the stars, the snow-clad plains stretch out into dead and endless wastes of glimmering white.
The President gives this good story of hunting a flock a geese that provoked him:
"They were clustered on a high sandbar in the middle of the river, which here ran in a very wide bed between low banks. The only way to get at them was to crawl along the river-bed, which was partly dry, using the patches of