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went into the sport with much enthusiasm, and if at times he came back at nightfall empty-handed, he did not complain, and he was almost certain to have something interesting to tell of what he had seen.
Theodore Roosevelt had been in this territory before, although not to remain any great length of time. Once he had come out to hunt buffalo, no easy thing to do, since this game was growing scarcer every day. He had a guide named Ferris, who was not particularly struck with the appearance of the pale young man, plainly dressed, whom he met at the railroad station.
“I sized him up as not being able to endure a long trip after a buffalo," said the guide, in speaking afterward of the meeting. “He was well mounted, but he looked as if he might play out before the sun went down.”
But in this the guide was mistaken. Roosevelt proved that he could ride as well as anybody. The first night out found the hunters about thirty miles from any settlement. They went into camp on the open prairie, tethering their horses with ropes fastened to their saddles, which they used as pillows.
All went well for an hour or two, when the improvised pillow was jerked from beneath Theodore Roosevelt's head, and he heard his horse bounding away in the distance.
6 Wolves !” cried the guide. “ They have frightened our horses !”
So it proved; and the hunters lost no time in reaching for their firearms. But the wolves kept their distance, and soon Theodore Roosevelt was running after the horses, which, after a good deal of trouble, he secured and brought back. After that the guide no longer looked on him as a 66 tenderfoot.”
“A tenderfoot,” said he, “would have been scared to death. But Teddy Roosevelt was as cool as a cucumber through it all as if the happening wasn't in the least out of the ordinary.”
For several days the hunters remained on the prairie looking for buffalo, but without success. They were on the point of turning back when the guide noticed that the horses were growing uneasy.
“Some big game at hand,” he announced. “Come on to yonder washout and see if I am not right.”
With great caution the hunters advanced to the washout the guide had mentioned. Dismounting, they crept forward in the shelter of the brushwood, and there, true enough, resting at his ease was a great buffalo bull.
“Hit him where the patch of red shows on his side,” whispered the guide, and Roosevelt nodded to show that he understood. With care and coolness he took aim and fired, and the buffalo bull leaped up and staggered forward with the blood streaming from his mouth and nose.
“Shall I give him another ?” was the question asked, but before it could be answered the buffalo bull gave a plunge and fell dead.
Rattlesnakes are rather unpleasant reptiles to deal with, and Theodore Roosevelt has shown his bravery by the way in which he speaks of them in his accounts of outdoor life. He says to a man wearing alligator boots there is little danger, for the fang of the reptile cannot go through the leather, and the snake rarely strikes as high as one's knee. But he had at least one experience with a rattlesnake not readily forgotten.
He was out on a hunt for antelope. The sage-brush in which he was concealing himself was so low that he had to crawl along flat on his breast, pushing himself forward with hands and feet as best he could.
He was almost on the antelope when he heard a warning whirr close at his side, and glancing hastily in that direction, saw the reptile but a few feet
and ready to attack.
It was a thrilling and critical moment, and had the young hunter leaped up he might have been dangerously if not fatally struck. But by instinct he backed away silently and moved off in another direction through the brush. The rattlesnake did not follow, although it kept its piercing eyes on the hunter as long as possible. After the antelope stalk was over, Roosevelt came back to the spot, made a careful search, and, watching his chance, fired on the rattlesnake, killing it instantly.
In those days Theodore Roosevelt met Colonel William Cody, commonly known as “Buffalo Bill," and many other celebrated characters of the West. He never grew tired of listening to the stories these old
trappers, hunters, scouts, and plainsmen had to tell, and some of these stories he afterward put into print, and they have made excellent reading
During many of his hunting expeditions at that time Theodore Roosevelt was accompanied by his foreman, a good shot and all-round ranchman named Merrifield. Merrifield had been in the West but five
years, but the life fitted him exactly, and in him Roosevelt the ranchman and hunter found a companion exactly to his liking, fearless and self-reliant to the last degree.
As perhaps most of my young readers know, wild geese are generally brought down with a shot-gun, but in the Bad Lands it was not unusual to bring them down with a rifle, provided the hunter was quick and accurate enough in his aim. One morning, just before dawn, Theodore Roosevelt was riding along the edge of a creek when he heard a cackling that he knew must come from some geese, and he determined if possible to lay one low.
It was easy work to dismount and crawl to the edge of the creek. But a fog lay over the water, and he could see the geese but in