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examine the nests of birds and water-fowl with great care, and I have seen him with a horned frog before him, studying every point of the creature.” Once while on the prairie the young
ranchman was caught in a heavy hail-storm. He was out with a number of others, when, with scarcely any warning, the sky began to grow dark, and the wind came up in fitful gusts.
“We must get out of this, and quick too,” said a companion. And all pushed onward as fast as they could. But soon the heavy fall of hailovertook them, and they were glad enough to seek even the slight shelter of a deep washout, where men and horses huddled close together for protection. The hailstones came down as large as marbles, causing the horses to jump around in a fashion that was particularly dangerous to themselves and to their owners. The time was August, yet the air grew very cold, and when the storm was over, some cattle were found completely benumbed. A few had been killed, and there had likewise been great slaughter among a flock of lambs that had been driven into the Bad Lands the year previous.
Mr. Roosevelt tells us that the greatest
number of black-tailed deer he ever killed in one day was three. He is a true sportsman in this respect and does not kill for the mere sake of killing. Those who go out just to slaughter all they possibly can are not sportsmen, but butchers. To be sure, a hunter may have to play the butcher at times, when the meat is needed, but not otherwise.
On the occasion when the three blacktails were laid low the young ranchman and his foreman started on the hunt very early in the morning, when the bright moon was still in the sky. It was late in November and stinging cold, so they allowed their horses to take their own pace, which was far from slow.
The course of the hunters was up the bed of a dry creek, along which they passed the still sleeping cattle and also a drove of ponies. Then they reached a spot where they left their own steeds, and, rifles in hand, hurried silently toward a great plateau which lay some distance before them. Signs of deer could be seen on every hand, and both were certain that the day's outing would prove a grand success.
Theodore Roosevelt had separated from his companion when of a sudden he caught sight of a beautiful doe. It was a fair shot, and dropping on one knee he took aim and fired. But to his intense chagrin the doe bounded off and disappeared in the brushwood.
“Hit anything ?” sang out the foreman. “I am afraid not,” was the answer.
“Never mind; better luck next time.” And then both sank down behind a rock where they could get a good view of a hollow ahead of them.
They had been behind the rock but a short time when they heard a cracking of twigs, and a fine black-tail buck came cautiously into view. Both fired, and the buck rolled over, never to rise again. Then another deer came into view and both fired again, but the game was not struck and lost no time in disappearing.
“ Never mind; one isn't so bad,” said Theodore Roosevelt, and his companion agreed with him.
The hunters now decided to go forward into the hollow and look for the doe Theodore Roosevelt had missed. This was done,
and soon the foreman pointed to some drops and splashes of blood.
“ Must have hit her, after all,” said the foreman. “We can take our time about following her up. We'll be sure to get her sooner or later."
But locating the wounded doe proved not so easy,
after all. The trail was followed for some time, but was lost on the hard ground higher up; and at last the two hunters agreed to look for new game. They had lunch, and then started out nearly as fresh as before when suddenly the foreman called out:
“There's your game all right!”
He pointed to a clump of bushes, and running forward, both saw the doe stretched out, stiff and cold. She had been mortally wounded, after all, much to both hunters' gratification.
So far the hunting had been on foot, but now the hunters took again to their steeds. Mr. Roosevelt says he was wishing for just one more shot, to see if he could not do better than before, when his wish was gratified. Just ahead a yearling black-tail buck leaped into view and cantered away. After
the buck went both hunters, but Theodore Roosevelt was in the lead, and this time determined to make no miss or poor shot. He waited until the buck turned its side to him, then fired with especial care. The game staggered on, then fell. The bullet had gone clean through its body, and in a few seconds it breathed its last.