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Fifteen years' sport and life in the hunting grounds of western America and British Columbia Baillie-Grohman, William A. (William Adolph), 1851-1921 1900

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of relations of the
peculiarities of the Indian Tribes of the North West
ad of incidents of personal/mtercourse with them
HSPARK&^Jared) Memoir of the Life and
I Travels of John Ledyafd. from his Journals
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Sport and 1
Author of "Camps in the Rockies"  "Sport of the Alps," âfc.,
" Badminton Library " volumes on Big Gan
Member of th
,   WITH   A  CI
Sport and Life
Author of "Camps in the Rockies,"  "Sport of the Alps," &c.;   Contributor to the
" Badminton Library " volumes on Big Game.
Member of the Alpine Club.
With Three specially prepared Maps of the North-west Coast of the United States,
British Columbia, and the Kootenay District.
1900. LONDON
To be quite accurate in the mse of the title that I have selected,
I must qualify it by stating that I did not live for fifteen
■consecutive years on the Pacific Slope of North America. I
spent the majority of each of fifteen years out there, making
British Columbia—a land of great beauty and of promising future
—my temporary home for some years. The ocean I crossed
some thirty times, and the Continent of North America a few
odd times oftener.
The first lour or five visits were exclusively devoted to big
game shooting. Sport such as I enjoyed in the "seventies"
and early "eighties" is no longer to be obtained—nothing
approaching it—and for this reason, if for no other, these pages
will, I hope, be of interest to fellow sportsmen. So far as
record trophies are concerned I have spared no trouble to make
this volume up-to-date, and as much as possible free from
mistakes. The second half of the book is devoted to life on the
Pacific Slope. These chapters contain personal reminiscences
and experiences which will perhaps assist the casual visitor or
the stay-at-home reader to gam an insight into the practical
issues of life on the frontier. To those who propose to make
"the Slope" their future home they may possibly convey useful Preface.
information. Though more than five years have elapsed since I
bid good-bye to the West, the process of opening up a new
country remains ever the same, though the supply of it is becoming
■daily more limited.
To the sportsmen who have assisted me with photographs and
■details of their trophies, I wish to express my sincere thanks,
and I trust that they will find that my chief aim, viz., accuracy,
has been attained.
For the closing chapter of this book, which deals with the
"Yellow and White Agony," as has been called the servant
■question out West, I am indebted to my wife. Much that she
■describes would have escaped the masculine eye, and may
possibly prove of use not only to those proposing to try their
hand at housekeeping on the Slope, but also to prophets who
predict an invasion of John Chinaman into European households.
Portions of two chapters appeared in the Fortnightly Review
and in the Century Magazine of New York, and I am indebted to
the editors for permission to reprint the passages I have selected.
The Author. LIST   OF   CHAPTERS.
Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds ...        ...        ... ...        i
The Slaughter of Big Game and the Game Laws of America    ...      27
The Wapiti, its Antlers and its Chase ...        ...        ...        ...      43
The Antelope-Goat of Pacific Slope Mountains, and its Chase   ...      S5
The Moose, Caribou, and Deer of the Pacific Slope        ...        ...    122
The Bighorn and the Antelope ...        ...        ...        ...        ...    139
The Bears and the Bison of North America ...        ...        ...    160
The Seal and other Fur-bearing Animals of the Pacific Coast   ...    174
The Salmon of the Pacific Coast           199 List of Chapters.
How Kootenay Emerged from its Wild State
Early Days in Kootenay 	
Running a Saw-mill and Store up country ...
Path-finding in Kootenay
Some Personal Recollections of Victoria
The Yellow and White Agony:  a chapter on Western Servants... 333;
Appendix ... ...        ... ... ... ... ... n.m 363.
The  Author's Favourite Wapiti Head
The After-Dinner Pipe in the Wilds ...
Drying Camp after a Wet Week       	
A Pack Train Pulling Out
What was once the Best Hunting Ground in North
The Arid Interior Uplands of British Columbia
Mr. W. Moncreiffe's Wapiti
A Glacier in the Selkirks, B.C.
The Largest Moose Antlers on Record
The Great Tetons (13,800ft.)  on the Borders  of  Wyoming
and Idaho
Civilisation's  Progress :   Collecting the Last Relics  of  the
Bison (Buffalo) for Fertiliser Manufactories .
Fur Seal Rookery on the Prybiloff Islands ...
A Salmon Run in a British Columbia River
The Yellowhead Pass, British Columbia
Indian Papoose on Cradle Board, in which manner Babies
are carried on Horseback
The Country at the Head of Fraser River, B.C.
America   „
■■*•      ».
306 List of Illustrations.
aribou Palmation
Camp in the Brush
Swimming the Thompson River in British Columbia
A Forenoon's Basket of Trout in the Teton Basin
Skin Hunters at Work in the Seventies
Mr. Cooper's Wapiti Head     	
The Author's Wapiti    	
Mr. Otho Shaw's Wapiti Head
The Author's 18-point Wapiti Head with G
Count E. Hoyos' Wapiti
Mr. H. Seton-Karr's Wapiti Head    ..
Mr. Ernest Farquhar's 14-point Wapiti Head
Wapiti Shot by Mr. T. Bate, of Kelsterton 	
Sir Edmund Loder's remarkably Wide Wapiti Head
Fine 20-point Wapiti Head Exhibited by Mr. A. L. Tulloch
Wapiti Antlers dug out of Quicksands in the Saline River (Kansas)
Some of the Author's Trophies in Schloss Matzen, Tyrol
Remarkably long-tined Wapiti Antlers
Widest Wapiti Head on Record
Stalking Wapiti in the Sixteenth Century    ...
Wapiti in Winter
Skeleton of the Antelope Goat {Haplocerus montanus)
A Family Group of Haplocerus in Sir Edmund Loder's Museum
A Kootenay Indian Pine Bark Canoe
Scenery in Kootenay, B.C.
The Antelope-Goat of the Pacific Slope
The Author's 2 6-tined Mule-deer Head       	
Mr. Morton Frewen's unique White-tail Deer Head
Mr. St. George Littledale's Bighorn	
Largest Bighorn on Record    	
Horn of Prongbuck as shed   ...
!5S List of Illustrations.
Horn just before it was shed, showing the new Horn beneath   ...
New Horn one Day after shedding of old ...
New Horn after Twenty-one Days' Growth...
Head of Prongbuck immediately after shedding the old Horns ...
"Never   Sweat," Bonanza   Clark's   Cabin   in   the   Big   Windriver
Mountains, Wyoming   ...
One of the Oldest Pictures of the American Bison 	
Bison Head claimed to be the Largest on Record	
Bull Musk Ox Head belonging to W. F. Sheard, Tacoma
The Native Village on St.  Paul  (Prybiloff Islands), with a Seal
Drive in the Foreground
Killing Fur Seal on the Prybiloff Islands    ...
How Seals were Killed in the Sixteenth Century   ...
Thirty Silver Fox   Skins, belonging to  W.  F.   Sheard,  Tacoma,
Salmon leaping an 18ft. high Fall on White Bear River, Labrador
Salmon "Sailing Home" in leaping an  18ft. high Fall on White
Bear River, Labrador   ...
Anal Fin of the European Salmon {Salmo)...
Anal Fin of Quinnat {Oncorhynchus)...
Fraser River Fishermen landing a Forenoon's Catch of Salmon ...
The Midge,  he first Steamcraft on the Kootenay Waters...
Golden City, B.C., 1886 	
The Upper Columbia Lake, the source  of  the  Columbia  River,
looking towards the Foothills of the Selkirk Chain
Week-day Work
Sunday Rest
Kootenay Indians pondering over their Short Shirts
Natural Hot Springs near the Source of the Columbia River
A Snow Plough at Work on the C. P. Railway in the Kootenay
Country   ...
297  CHAPTER   I.
There was nothing in the least unusual about our first camD on
the Pacific watershed of the Rocky Mountains one fine September
evening in the latter part of the " seventies." A thirsty ride of
some fourteen days over the elevated sagebrush-covered plateaux
of Central Wyoming had tried the patience of man and beast.
All that day ever slackening cinches and loosened lash.ropes, with a
commensurate flow of strong language, had betokened how severely
even the most skilfully thrown Diamond hitch on the pack-horses
could be. tested by the exceptional steepness of the mountain slope
up which we were labouring, or by the snaggy branches of the
stunted timber through which we were forcing our way. Bent upon
crossing the Great Divide, or Continental watershed, here represented by that most formidable of Rocky Mountain chains, the Big
Windriver range, we had to rely upon our pathfinding instincts, for
none of us had ever been there before. For the last few days we
had been following, as our sole guide, a watercourse which some
Soshoné Indians had told us headed at the foot of one of the few
notches visible in that formidable one hundred and twenty miles
long and fifty miles wide barrier, the highest elevations of which
could nearly vie with those of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. Indeed,
the view presented to our eyes as we were approaching the eastern
face reminded me of the first sight of the Alps as the traveller
approaches them over the great plains of Lombardy. Sport and Life.
Nature marked the elevation of this pass, for it was on a. level
with timber-line, which in these latitudes is reached at a height of
9000ft. or 9500ft.
We had made a long day of it, for water, though nigh at hand,
was ungetatable, and—better reason—were we not heading for
the promised land, to gain which we had made strenuous efforts ?
To man and beast it was to be a veritable paradise. To me it meant
a practically primeval hunting ground, abundantly stocked with
wapitis by the thousand, bighorns, grizzlies, as well as with the
grotesquely-shaped white antelope goat of the Rockies, which latter
was the special object of my expedition. For my trapper companions
it meant a big harvest of peltry, for had not reliable Indians reported
that the rivers and lakes of this, then practically unknown, region
were teeming with beaver and otter ? And, lastly, to the horses,
poor brutes, it held out the promise of grass up to their bellies, good
clear water, and complete rest, wherein to recuperate after the
hardships of forced rides and heavy packs, endured upon a
desperately meagre diet of sagebrush and alkali water.
A last preposterously steep slope of sharp-edged shale, on which
it seemed impossible for man or beast to gain a firm foothold, and
we had at last conquered that forbidding eastern face of the Big
Windriver chain, and were standing on the height of land from
which we saw both the Atlantic and the Pacific slopes of the great
Continental backbone stretching away into dim distance that seemed
so vast as almost to promise a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, quite
600 miles westwards of us. The view that burst on our eyes
contrasted strangely with the one upon which we were turning our
backs. For the arid, treeless steppes and bizarrely-shaped hills of
bright red and yellow tints, which are the principal features of the
parched mauvaise terre landscape of Western Wyoming, were
replaced by a glorious vista of boundless dark green forests,
emerald glens and bottom lands, snow-topped mountains of grand
Alpine type, at the base of which lay embosomed beautiful lakes,
or flowed great rivers whose long green stretches were broken
here and there by the white water of rapids.    Even the panting, Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.
sweat-covered horses gave vent to their pleasure by neighs. In the
immediate foreground we perceived a delightfully green flat, covered
with grass so high as almost to hide a little band of prongbucks
which had been feeding, and were now gazing in alarmed surprise
at the unwonted sight of human beings ere they dashed off in jerky
leaps. At the further end of the little meadow there was a tiny
tarn fed by the drainage from the two high peaks flanking the pass,
and close to it stood a few gnarled old pines, the uppermost
sentinels of the great army below. One of them had been laid
low by lightning, the upper third of the trunk lying immersed
in the lake, the calm surface of which was undisturbed, save by
countless rises of hungry trout.
A little brook issued forth from the further end of the tarn,
remaining visible, however, only for a short distance, for soon it
dipped over the edge of the flat, taking its first plunge down the
Pacific Slope on its long^ journey westward, where the setting sun
was now throwing a golden halo over a very ocean of mountain -
ranges that rose like the crests of a storm-tossed sea into a peaceful
and gloriously tinted evening sky.
It was an ideal mountain picture, and, however reluctant a
hungry and travel-fagged man usually is to go into rhapsodies, it
was one which stands out in bold relief in a memory fairly well
stored with the beauties of mountain scenery in the Old and New
World. Young Henry, or to give him his usual name, " The Kid "
—a hopelessly matter-of-fact Western youth, who acted as our
cook, scullion and horse-boy, riding by my side in charge of the
kitchen pony, reminded me that we were out West, in the unconventional, " strictly business " frontier-land. Even he was impressed
by the sight.
"Golly! " he exclaimed, "If this ain't the first Pacific water!
T'aint every kid's funeral to wash up his pots and pans in that er'
water ; and doggarn it, ain't this a bully camp, grass belly-high
for the cayuses, game and fish just a wanting to hop into
the frying-pan, and there," with a sly reflection upon the only
duty concerning which a reprimand was ever necessary, " and
B 2 Sport and Life.
there a whole raft of firewood, dry and handy, if you please, to
yours respectfully."
Such were the sufficiently commonplace incidents of my first
glimpse of the Pacific Slope. Bordered on the one side by the
Continental watershed formed by the Rocky Mountains, on the top
of which we. were standing, and on the other by the waters of the
Pacific, about 600 miles away, this strip of country is of great
length, for it extends from the frontier of Mexico for three thousand
miles, up almost to the ice-bound Behring Sea, a land of which, in
the vernacular of the West, one speaks as the Pacific Slope, or :
"The Slope."
On the occasion in question I was travelling solely for sport ;
two or three previous shooting expeditions to Central Wyoming and
Colorado, then still teeming with big game, had whetted my appetite, and, experto crede, had taught me at least how not to do things
when arranging one's expedition, so as to obtain really good sport in
those matchless game countries, and to enjoy to the full the un-
tramelled freedom of the breezy West. I had bought my experience
at the cost of many dollars, and some wasted months, for a greener
"tender-foot" than I was had, I am convinced, never crossed the
famous old ferry over the Missouri, at" Council Bluffs.
There are several ways of " doing the West " ; the orthodox
manner, to-day still in use among the well-to-do " globe-trotting"
sportsmen, is at once the most expensive and the least satisfactory.
For a valet is a more than useless incumbrance when one's bed
consists of a couple of buffalo robes and a blanket, with one's saddle
as pillow, one's bathtub is the nearest creek*, and one's articles of
* Speaking of bathtubs reminds me of an amusing incident that once happened
to a well-known English sportsman.    Sir John  , its hero, undertaking a
shooting expedition to the Rockies, included in his vast camp equipage, to the
sore trial of his packers, even a tin bathtub. Sir John's English valet struck
the very morning the caravan was to pull out of Rawlins, and after some search
among the whisky saloon loafers, a man willing to undertake the duties was at
last found. One of his duties was to fill the baronet's bathtub every morning.
The first three mornings this was done, but on the fourth, the outfit being camped
close to a branch of the Platte, the valet suggested that a handy pool was close Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.
toilet comprise but a toothbrush and comb, both the worse for
wear; while one's wardrobe has been fined down to a flannel shirt
with buckskin strings in lieu of buttons, patched " overalls," and
home-made moccasins that, if dry, don't leave one's feet day or night,
or, if wet, are dried at the camp fire. Equally a source of worry
and delay is the amazingly complete camp outfit, the folding tables
and chairs, the camp bed and air-mattress, the heavy tents with
hinged poles, and all the other etceteras with which the would-be
explorer usually saddles himself at the advice of the Bond-street
or Cornhill outfitter. Every couple of hundredweight means an
extra horse ; every three horses means an extra man ; every extra
man means at least two extra horses to carry his impedimenta, store
of provisions, and himself ; and last, but not least, every extra man
adds to the chance of internecine camp feuds, every extra horse to
the probability of trouble and delay in consequence of sore backs,
straying, or of a stampede. To travel light, with an ample store of
everything that is really essential, but with nothing that is not
absolutely needed, is the true secret whereby to ensure a good bag
and a good time, especially if the exploration of as yet unmapped
countries happens to be among the objects of the expedition.
A score of years ago, short as that span appears in Old World
time-keeping, things out West were very different to what they are
to-day. The hunting ground might then be said still to comprise
a great portion of that 1200 miles wide, and 3000 miles long belt
of country lying between the Missouri and the apex of the Rockies
known as the Plains. The pick of it all was in the North-west
Colorado, in Central and Western Wyoming, in Montana, the
whole of Idaho, and all the Eastern part of Washington.    What are
to the tent. Sir John, however, was not in the humour to take the hint, and the
engagement between the two came to a sudden termination, more to the
disturbance of Sir John's temper than to that of his quondam valet. The latter's
parting shot was full of Wyoming humour. " You ain't quite the top-shelfer
you think you is, you ain't even got a shower-bath for cooling your swelled
head \_Angl. pride], but I'll make you a present of one, boss," and pulling his
six-shooter, he smilingly made a sieve of the bottom of the hapless bathtub by
emptying the six chambers into it ! Sport and Life.
now States were then thinly populated Territories where settlements,
except in some few mining centres were often hundreds of miles
apart. Only a single line of rail connected the Atlantic with the
Pacific, wlftle to-day some seven or eight trans-Continental lines
of rail communication, and scores of branch lines have assisted in
populating vast districts then still the home of the bison, wapiti, and
antelope. About that time the short-lived boom of the cattle-ranching
industry was commencing to deplete the pockets of English shareholders, and to strew the plains with the bleaching carcases of tens
of thousands of kine, while in the companies' balance sheets they
were figuring for years afterwards as among the living and kicking
assets. The truth, now long recognised, concerning the fallacy of
the expert's opinion that, because the shaggy-coated bison could
withstand the blizzards and extreme winter cold, domestic cattle,
driven from the semi-tropical Texas, would evince a similar
hardiness, had then still to be demonstrated at the cost of millions
of dollars.
Cattle ranching rang the death-knell of big game in some of the
very best game countries in the world.
Some sixty years ago a distinguished traveller paid a lengthy
visit to the trans-Missourian hunting grounds, and has left us an
elaborate account of it. If one compares his narrative of what he
saw with the conditions of to-day, and with those of five and
twenty years ago, it will be seen that the "westward march of
empire''—to use a favourite American phrase—has been reaching
its goal on the shores of the Pacific at record pace. Civilisation in
the three hundred and fifty years preceding Prince Wied's visit had
covered less ground than in the past quarter of a century. In
A.D. 1832 it took this traveller forty-six days in a fast clipper to
get from Europe to Boston, and seventy-five days from St Louis
to Fort Union, at the junction of the Yellowstone and Missouri,
where for the first time he saw a bighorn. Twenty odd years ago
it took the writer only ten days to cross the ocean, but it took him
almost as long as it had done the traveller in 1832 to reach the
haunts of bighorn, while, as a matter of fact, the precise locality wras ^
Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds. 7
actually a trifle further east—that is, nearer the fringe of civilisation
—than the point where the Prince had first set eyes on this, the
noblest of America's game. To-day steamers and railways take
you to that spot in less time than it took me to cross the ocean.
But the bighorn—where are they ?
A curious similarity is noticeable in the old and new sporting
literature of the, West, written at periods as wide, or wider, apart
than are the localities to which they refer. With no exception
that I know of, writers on Western sport bewail the extermination
of big game in North America, forgetting, it would seem to me,
that their travels have, in nine cases out of ten, been limited to an
insignificant portion of the trans-Missourian West. Prince Wied,
writing sixty-five years ago, and only of the country in the
immediate vicinity of the Missouri, which was then the highway
into the Indian country, leaving quite untouched the great bulk
of the West, deplores the disappearance of bighorn and wapiti.
Lord Dunraven, writing more than twenty years ago, declares the
West as " shot out." Here is what he says in his " Great
Divide " :—" An Englishman going to the States or to British
American territory for big game shooting, and for nothing else, is
sure nowadays to be disappointed." Both were right so far as the
country they passed through was concerned, both were wrong in
their generalisation. There are even to-day countries, the size of
small kingdoms, in British North America, into which no hunting
party has ever penetrated, and where the frying pan's capacity of a
few isolated prospectors has, so far, measured the destruction of
game; countries where moose, caribou, and antelope-goat are still
unfamiliar with the sight of white-skinned human beings. It is not
quite correct, therefore, to speak of a total extermination of the
larger species of North America's ferae naturx, except in relation
to the bison, and even then only partially so, for a few small bands
are reported to still roam the Peace River country. I enjoyed
unrivalled sport in years subsequent to the period when the author
of the " Great Divide " expressed such a pessimistic view, and that
concerning  localities   not  a  hundred  miles  west   of the country Sport and Life.
through which he passed. Others as persevering and lucky in
finding primeval spots have within the last ten years obtained
first-class trophies.
The one great detrimental change that unquestionably has
overtaken the once unsurpassed Western hunting ground during
the last score of years is one which only those who have travelled
widely through the West can realise. It is that in those districts—
notably Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho—where sport was made
easy by the absence of dense timber, where all but the most
elevated points could be reached on horseback, where an unsurpassed climate during summer and autumn added immensely to
the pleasures of the expedition, the cattle raising and mining
industries have so thinned out the more prized species of big
game as to make the success of a hunting trip in most cases
a matter of grave doubt.
Without repeating myself too much concerning details I have
given in a previous volume on my earlier sport in the Rockies, it
will, perhaps, serve a useful purpose if I premise a brief description
of the ways and means I pursued to procure, at comparatively very
inconsiderable cost, sport of the very best kind.
There are three ways of visiting the Far West for sport. The
orthodox mode, to which already reference has been made, is one
to which only a long purse can aspire. As a rule, none but men of
more than independent means visit trans-Missourian countries for
pleasure. The frontiersman calls them " top-shelfers," they are
accompanied by their servants from England, they hire some
western " hunters " as -guides, and their expedition is provided
with an amazingly complete camping outfit. They are asked very
high wages—and they pay them.
The second way is cheaper, but far less independent. It is to
get letters to, or, if you chance to • be of commanding personal
attractions, endeavour to make friends with, the officers in charge
of such of the frontier military forts that are near good game
ground. There were many of this kind in the northern
Territories ; and there,  if properly  introduced, you met with rare Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.        9
hospitality and readiness to further your object ; you were
supplied with stores, waggons, horses, and escort—everything you
required. The American officers, notwithstanding the weary
loneliness of their desolate posts, hundreds of miles from the
nearest companionable being, are as a rule no sportsmen, but they
will nevertheless enter with zest into your plans ; and if they see
that their presence is not unwelcome, one or the other of them will
accompany you on your little shooting expeditions, and will make
a very welcome addition to the number of mouths to be fed with
venison, and hence also to the number of wapiti or bighorn you can
legitimately kill. There will be plenty of whiskey—indeed, very
often its supply is far too abundant ; for on returning to camp from
a long day's stalk, you now and again find the cook, or the other
underling troopers, in a state not conducive to good cooking or
handy help.
The third was the cheapest, the freest, the most pleasant
manner, provided its rough side has no terrors for you. It was to
eschew the usual run of western guides, who take their parties
year after year over the same well-beaten ground, and to choose
for your companions professional trappers.
I have tried all three ways. My first trip, on which I was
accompanied by a friend, partook of the " top-shelfer's " outfit.
We were laden down with unnecessary camp luxuries, stored away
on two waggons. I shot very little game, I saw the people as they
are not, and, owing to the very bad habit of asking questions,
I was told more tall stories than the proverbial Colonel from Texas
could invent in a year, for, as the frontiersman will himself tell you,
the West is a country where " talk is cheap, and lies worth
nothing." Had it not been that on this trip I made the casual
acquaintance of my future companion, genial Port, there would not
have been a single redeeming feature about my first experience.
The second manner had never very great attractions for me ;
though at a considerably later period I had occasion to be one of
the party of three Englishmen, who had every cause to remember
the remarkable hospitality of the commanding officers in a certain It
Sport and Life.
Wyoming fort, who fitted us out in right royal style with men,
horses, waggons, and escort, enabling us to visit the Ute Indian
country in the depth of a very severe winter, a few. months after
their last outbreak in the autumn of 1879, in which, by the way,
I had very nearly come to grief.
Far more preferable was the third way : to join a trapper outfit,
Camp   in   the   Brush.
and, at a cost which, under the circumstances, and in comparison
to the £10 or £15 per diem cost of many " top-shelfer " expeditions,
must be called exceedingly moderate, turn for all intents and
purposes trapper yourself. Only the most remote districts were
visited by the genuine fur-hunters—by no means a numerous class
—for the much persecuted beavers and other valuable fur-bearing
animals had long retired to a few uninvaded districts, and there Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.      11
only could they be found in paying numbers. You enjoyed the
good fellowship of thoroughly trustworthy men, and while they did
their trapping or wolf-poisoning, you. who were tacitly considered
the " boss," or master, and were also addressed as such, could roam
about at your own free will, gradually extending your side expeditions as you became versed in woodcraft. Of course, for the newly
arrived " tenderfoot " this roaming about, and not losing himself or
getting into other more awkward dilemmas, necessitated some
preliminary experience in woodcraft. But this, under the tuition
of capable trapper-masters, if one had previous training in other
parts of the world, was soon acquired ; and, when once mastered,
the pleasure of knowing oneself perfectly independent vastly
enhanced the charm of life in the woods and in the mountains.
It was not every sportsman fresh from the East or from Europe
who had either the time, opportunity, or desire to hunt for men of
this stamp. The Union Pacific landed him at Rawlins, Greenriver
City, or Ogden ; and while in his innermost soul he felt defrauded
by not finding dead men festooning the nearest trees or telegraph
poles, he expected to fall into the arms of a revised edition of a
Bridger, Kit Carson, or old Joe Clark. At the first glance, perhaps,
his disappointment on this score wras not so great ; for the modern
representatives of those old scouts of classic renown who forthwith
interviewed him in front of the hotel bar were got up in embroidered
buckskin suits, broad sombreros, cartridge belts, and at least one
large-size six-shooter at the waist. Their hair was long, and their
name some startling imitation of " Buffalo Bill " or " Wild Will,"
and they claimed to be old Indian fighters, who know the whole
West as they know their pockets.
I can, alas ! speak from experience of the wiles and of the traps
that waylaid the newly-arrived sportsman ; for I was as verdantly
"fresh" as are most strangers, be they bent upon business or
pleasure, when first striking the West. Hence I fell an easy prey
to certain " Bearclaw Joes" and "Scalp Jacks." "Trundling
tenderfeet outfits through the country " was, in the seventies and
early eighties, a favourite occupation for " ne'er-do-well loafers." Sport and Life.
The genuine trapper was a very different being, his unobtrusive
and taciturn manners in the presence of strangers being a ready
means of recognising the right sort.
Of the old guard of famous Rocky Mountains voyageurs there
were, even then, but very few left ; the two or three I got to know
were grizzly septuagenarians. The younger race were generally
men who had passed a long apprenticeship under old veterans.
The genuine trappers were rarely met with in the haunts of frontier
civilisation. They were out all the year round, visiting outlying
settlements only every six months to renew their stock of " grub."
Many of them had not slept in a bed for years, and they loved not
the luxuries of civilisation, living a life as independent of social
fetters as it is well possible to imagine. Very few of them ever
married, though many took to themselves dusky daughters of the
soil, a proceeding which earned for them the title of " squaw men,"
and generally resulted in a total cutting loose from white men's
companionship. . Death, which had stared them in the face times
out of number, finally surprised them in the shape of scalp-hunting
redskins, or a fierce eight-day snowstorm in a shelterless region, or
an infuriated she grizzly, or in any one of the many other guises in
which the grim master is wont to call in the lonely hunter's checks.
Few missed them ; and when one failed to put in his appearance at
the frontier store where, in spring and autumn, he was in the habit
of purchasing his modest " grub outfit," a casual " Guess the old
stag has gone up ! " and a regretful sigh on the part of the enterprising owner of the general emporium where the unworldly old
buck used to trade his valuable peltry for third-class flour and
adulterated coffee, was about all that mankind spared for the
Among these rough and uncouth "tramps of the wilderness,"
beneath a very shaggy exterior there lay hidden many of the large-
hearted qualities of ideal man in his primitive state. You found
among them men—true men—on whose word one could build, and
on whose quiet, cool-headed, though subdued, courage you could
implicitly depend.    Happily, not a few of our best sportsmen who Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.
well knew the West have on different occasions stood up for the
sterling stuff of the genuine frontiersman.
Port, the leading spirit in my party, was such a man—about
thirty-four years of age, tall, squarely built, with very sound bodily
strength and as sound constitution, which, as he would tell you, not
even the two nights he slept in a proper bed in eleven years have
succeeded  in   undermining.     His  face  was  tanned  to  a  Sioux
Swimming the Thompson   River  in   British   Columbia.
brownish-red ; and a fine beard, kept very cleanly, hid the lower
portion of his pleasant features. A glance at the outer shell, a look
into the grey-blue eyes, betrayed the character of the man before
you. Very silent in the presence of strangers—always a good sign
in this western country—his appearance pleased me from the first.
He was born in West Kansas in its earliest days, when the eastern
portion of that State was the "bleeding Kansas" of which, forty
years ago, we heard so much.    Settlements were far apart ; and *4
Sport and Life.
the dreaded invasions of the bloodthirsty red man,, -chiefly the
Cheyennes, followed by the unheard-of ravages of the fiepdish white
man's Border-Roughian war that turned such men as Quantrell
and the first edition of the James boys into beasts more savage than
hyenas, made Port from his earliest youth acquainted with rapine.
Before he left his mother's lap, he saw bloodshed ; before he
could walk, he saw neighbours strung up and shot ; and before he
could read, he had killed his Indian. He left his home at the early
age of nine ; " going West " was his fancy, and the yet untrodden
wilds of the Rocky Mountains his dream. He passed a long trapper
apprenticeship under one of the old guard of fur-hunters, and his
subsequent career as Indian scout in one or two Indian wars on
the plains developed in him all those qualities which made him such
an invaluable companion in a country where certain risks were not
absent if the party was so numerically weak as ours was. It takes
moments of danger to discover a man's true grit—the " bottom
sand," as a plainsman would say. On the one or two occasions of
such a nature, when I happened to be at his side, his self-reliant
coolness convinced me that in times of risk, no less than at the
quiet camp fireside, I could have had no trustier companion.
The manliness about Port and other men of his calling is not
that of the bravado, or that of the " bad man " of literature ; it is
the quiet unobtrusive manliness of a character that, while it knows
not what pusillanimous fear is, yet knows what death is—of
a nature that, while born and bred to carry life on the open palm,
is yet for ever ready to do grim battle in its defence.
Port was full of quiet, dry, western humour. His sallies spared
neither present nor absent ones.
The two remaining men will take up less space. What I have
said of Port holds good for Edd and Henry. The first of the two
was Port's junior by several years Born in the East, he had come
West twelve or thirteen years before, and had ever since been
hunting and trapping.
Henry, the boy cook and general factotum, was a lad of
seventeen, who had been with me for the last two expeditions. Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.
" Skipping " three years ago from his Iowa home, where his father,
so I was told, held the position of judge, he came West, and
luck guided him into Port's camp. More of a character than Edd,
he bid fair to become a genuine old mountaineer in an astonishingly short time.    Intelligent, full of western humour, life in the
A Forenoon's Basket of Trout  in the Teton  Basin.
Caught with a " pole " and a " bug."
wilds  had  already   removed  from  him   most  traces   of   a  more
civilised existence.
From Master Henry, wTho I had strong proof was much
attached to me, it would have gone hard to get out a " thank you,"
except perhaps for some unusual or specially gratifying gift ; but
I cannot say I liked him much the less for it.    At first I was often 16.
Sport and Life.
exasperated by this habit, but the boy soon showed me that he
meant not what his manner implied.
A ludicrous interview to which a half-starved " cattle-boss,"
who had lost himself and who happened to stray into the vicinity
of our camp, subjected me, after partaking of our hospitality, shows
that "Thank you" is, according to the laconic and not over polite
manners of the West, a superfluous form. The meal over, I
happened to be left alone with the now good-humouredly satiated
" cow-puncher." " Say, mister," he began, " aint you the boss as
runs this outfit ? " To my affirmative answer he replied, " Well,
say, that's kinder strange. Why, I'll be darned if you wasn't the
only cuss who said thank ye when the grub pile was trundled over
to yer side." I told him that I hadn't got over that habit yet ; to
which he naively replied, "Them's bad habits of civi-ly-sashon.
Out here them tony chin-music don't pan worth a cent."
Henry was full of western repartee. An acquaintance once
remonstrated with him in quite undeservedly severe words for some
defective cooking. Being no particular favourite among the men,
the boy answered him " right smartly," " Wa'al," he said, " I was
born for a cook, but the devil stole the pattern and ran off with it,
I kinder reckon he must have loaned it to you." There was no
more fault-finding.
In the days I am speaking about, an invasion of " Indian
Country," such as was the one we had passed through, by such
a small party had about it a zest-giving spice of risk. Only the
year before while travelling, in much the same manner, through
country even less remote from civilisation, the Indians inhabiting
it had suddenly gone on the war-path without our knowing anything about it till it was almost too late, and we were compelled
to " git out," with a band of Utes hovering round us for several
days, whose bullets on one occasion came much too close to be
comfortable, while one of them ended the career of a personal
friend who had hunted with me but a week or two before.
The country we were now in was claimed by the peaceful
Soshonés, whose fine old chief, the celebrated " Washakie " the Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.      i\
white man's friend he loved to call himself—was always exerting
his influence to keep his more turbulent young bucks from joining
any of the warlike demonstrations of other tribes. But the Government had recently allowed a much less ruly tribe, i.e., the Arrapahoes,
under a noted fighting chief, " Black Coal," to share the Soshonés'
hunting grounds, and trouble between the new comers and their
old enemies the Utes, who again were allies of the Soshonés, might
break out at any moment. The fact that the hunting grounds of
the powerful " Crow " tribe adjoined immediately to the north only
complicated the situation.
It is now time to introduce the reader to the incidents of our
daily life, and I shall first of all ask him to visit our camp.
There is a business-like air about it which shows that some
of its inmates have lived from early youth in the wilderness, and
have long learnt all the tricks of the backwoods to make themselves as comfortable and cosy as circumstances will permit. In
such a camp it suffices to cast a glance at the manner the tent—if,
indeed, there be one at all in fine weather—is stretched ; a look at
the way the rifles are secured on stout pegs driven into a handy
tree, and at the manner in which the fire is made up so that the
wind does not drive the smoke in the direction of the tent, to show
that it is not a " tenderfoot's " camp.
Everything is in its place : the steel beaver traps with their
stake chains are neatly hung up on a convenient branch ; the rawhide pack-panniers, of material as stout as sole leather, wherein
are placed one's worldly goods while en route, are stacked up in
a heap with a sail-cloth cover over them ; the saddles, all of the
heavy Mexican type, each with the bridle belonging to it looped
over the horn, and the wooden pack-saddles, their cinche and lash-
ropes neatly hung over the cross-trees, are piled up and similarly
protected by a canvas cover. For no snug packing can be done if
the ropes get wet. In several big " nicks " cut in the camp tree
repose bits of soap, and on a peg hangs what is politely called the
" dish-cloth," which is, or rather once was, an old flour sack. The
two  axes  and  my " antler saw "—really  an   ordinary   butcher's
C Sport and Life.
saw—recline against the same tree, and from the new coil of half-
inch rope, which the men have brought with the provisions from
the fort, the Kid is just cutting new lengths of lash-ropes to replace
some worn-out ones.
A square piece of elk or moose skin, dry and stiff as a board,
nailed to the top of four upright posts under the spreading boughs
of the camp tree, makes a capital table. The big iron camp bucket,
into which fit all the culinary utensils required for the somewhat
primitive cooking of the party, makes, when turned upside down—
or, as the Kid will persist in saying, " downside up "—a comfortable
seat when any writing has to be done at the table. The four beds,
each consisting of two buffalo robes and a thick California
blanket, are neatly rolled up in their strip of waterproof canvas,
which protects them. When tightly corded, they are slung as side-
packs on to the horses. Of luck, one can speak, if these same
blankets have not to take the place of those worn out under the
saddles, or those that are lost, for it is one of the most puzzling
things how blankets used as saddle-cloths for the pack-animals will
manage to wriggle out and get lost in a long " drive " over
country where steep ascents and descents cause the packs to shift
if the saddle girths are not constantly tightened. And a blanket
thus lost, is not only irreplaceable, but it generally means a sore
back and a horse rendered unfit for work for a week or two, often
just at a time when the carrying power of every animal is taxed to
the utmost.
Every article of this camp is, as we have seen, in its place, for
the due observance of the old axiom that it is just as easy to put
everything in its proper place at the start, rather than just drop it
anywhere, saves in the end time, trouble, and temper. The
dilemmas caused by untidiness in this respect are often most
vexatious, and never more so than if during the night a snowstorm
covers the ground unexpectedly with half afoot or a foot of snow,
as I have seen it do on many occasions. Where are you next
morning? In the tidiest of camps it is not an agreeable fix to be
in, but in an untidy one it means—well, to put it mildly—some lively   Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.       19
recrimination, hard language, and the loss of half a day or more in
digging up the hundred-and-one camp belongings scattered in a
wide circle all over the place, while another half day will have to be
spent in drying the ropes and blankets and saddles before the fire
ere they can be used. What wonder, therefore, that all old hands
are punctiliously tidy, and that they can lay their hands, blindfolded,
on the canister containing the stock of precious matches, or on the
whetstone whereon to sharpen their skinning knives, or on any
other small " icta" you like to mention.
Leaving such a comfortable camp is like departing from home.
You have had time to place a layer of soft pine boughs under your
bed, the angularities of mother earth not being usually thus softened.
You have discovered a delightful stretch of sandy beach on the lake
for your matutinal dip. By means of a few logs tied together by
odds and ends of rope you have fashioned a raft, on which you have
pushed out into the middle of the tarn, where, with an improvised
rod—the real article having long ago come to utter grief under the
hoofs of one of the horses—you have landed some splendid trout,
and the experience of the odd hours thus devoted to the gentle art
has taught you that when fishing for the pot, i.e., to feed four
hungry members and an occasional dog or two, a plentiful supply
of fat grasshoppers, vulgo " bugs," will accomplish the trick far more
speedily than do artificial flies that tear, or get lost, or turn out not
the right sort, or for which your body evinces a magnetic attraction.
The surrounding hills have been scoured, and yonder, as yet
unnamed, peak, which the aneroid tells you is something over
13,000ft. in altitude, has been climbed in a long day on the rocks
and snow. The topographical details seen from this outlook have
been added to the material already collected, which will assist in
compiling a new map, which, bad as it may be, will yet be an
improvement upon the only existing one, based, as the latter appears
to be, on guess work, and bad guesses at that.
When the actual start comes to be made, one does not get off
as early as was intended. Some of the horses are " playing mean,"
and object in sundry ways to be packed and to leave such a good
2 C Sport and Life.
camp and such abundant bunch-grass. The packs have to be
re-divided among the lot of horses, or, rather, among the number of
pack-horses, for there are a couple of spare mares, as well as two
colts which were born on the trip, in the outfit. Each horse has, of
course, its own particular pack-saddle, fitted to its back as well as
such simple tools as a jack-knife and a file can manage. Some
have only one cinche or girth, others have two, which latter, if the
animal will stand the double pressure, is always better, for it insures
steady " riding" for the load in a mountainous country. Not a few
horses, however, raise such persistent objections to the double girth
as to endanger the load, however securely it is lashed to their back.
The pack-horses must be packed last, for otherwise they will
roll and try other little dodges to rid themselves of the loads while
the riding horses are being saddled. At last everything is ready,
the men swing themselves into the saddle, the dogs jump about
barking, and, with a loud whoop from the rear men, the cavalcade
sets itself into motion. For two or three hours the pack-horses
will keep in file without much urging, but as soon as they get
hungry there will be more trouble to prevent them from straying.
Let me say a word here about packing. To accomplish this in
approved western fashion is a thing easier to write about than to
learn. Let it be remembered that there are two ways of " packing,"
the difference lying in the rigging, which again is dependent upon
the ends in view. Where time is less of an object than the question of transporting the greatest weight upon horse or mule, the
old-fashioned Spanish aparejo is used. This consists of two great
bags of heavy leather that hang down on either side connected by
a broad band of the same material that goes over the horse's back.
The part that comes to lie upon the animals sides is stiffened
with ribs of round willow sticks that can be slipped in and
out for repairs. Inside these ribs is placed a layer of hay,
making a sort of pad to take the strain of the lash-ropes which
fasten the load down. Thus, the pressure of a properly " set up "
aparejo comes upon the sides, leaving the backbone and withers as
free as possible.    The weight of this rig is very much greater than <    M
U    §
es    1?
I I Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.      21
that of the pack-saddle, with its cross-trees at both ends, but, notwithstanding this, far greater weights can be transported on the
aparejo, though the pace can never be more than a walk. All
packing for commercial purposes and the bulk of all military
packing is done in this way, the most unlikely looking articles, such
as safes, big iron cooking-stoves, chests of drawers, bits of heavy
mining machinery, and other unwieldy things, weighing as much as
4oolb., have frequently been transported over steep mountain
passes, though the average load is only about 2501b.
The pack-saddle packing is a different thing altogether. Two
side panniers of stout canvas or leather, the weight in each being
as equal as possible, being slung by loops to the cross-trees ; then
comes a top pack, generally a roll of blankets, and over all a
piece of canvas is spread, the whole being kept in position by a
lash-rope forming a "criss-cross" on top of the pack. The secret of
good packing consists in the manner in which the rope is thrown,
drawn together, and fastened down* There are a number of
hitches, the diamond hitch being the best of all, not only on
account of the fact that it can be thrown by a man alone, but also
because there is less " give " about it than any other. To clumsy,
non-nautical hands this hitch is a standing puzzle, and though
I have learnt to throw the diamond scores of times, the slightest
break in practising it, invariably resulted in a muddle of the wrorst
kind. I acknowledge, however, that clumsier hands than mine
never handled a rope. A far easier hitch, to which I generally
resorted when doing my own packing, is the squaw, also called
tenderfopt hitch, which is less intricate, but also loosens its grip
more easily, particularly when, having but light loads, you trot the
pack animals. This, of course, tests any kind of hitch most
effectually. Under favourable conditions, with the loads nicely
balanced and fitting snugly into the panniers—one can do without these—and the saddle as snugly fitted to the horse, with ropes
* The rope is provided with a short length of girthing which comes underneath the horçe's belly so as to prevent the rope cutting into the horse. Sport and Life.
nice and dry, and worn smooth, so that they "come tought," with that
business-like, tidy look by which a well-put-up brown paper parcel
shows at a glance that skilled hands have made it up, then, I say,
packing is a pleasantly invigorating exercise. Very different is the
aspect of things when ropes are wet, or, worse, frozen, and your
stock of blanket-pads that come between the horse's back and
the saddle has been reduced by losses or the wear and tear of
a long trip, and you have to use your bedding blankets. For,
under these conditions your hands are as liable to suffer as is the
animal's back, and, once sore, the greatest and most constant care
is required if the horse is not be rendered entirely useless for
As the direction of our day's ride is plainly indicated by a very
visible landmark in the shape of a fine peak, I ride ahead. Boreas,
my old hunting horse, after his week's rest and the bounteous
bunch-grass is " feeling good," and kicks up his heels as a
preliminary exercise to the canter which he knows well enough is
before him.
It is, let us take it, the latter half of October, and the days are
getting short, so no noon camp will be made. The pack-train will
keep on until the base of the aforesaid peak is reached, where
I shall have picked out a camping place by the time the slower
moving pack-horses can get there. A bit of lunch in the cantinas
of my saddle makes me quite independent of the party for the rest
of the day.
Game is almost constantly in view. On the bare ridges, often
of quite rugged formation, which form the undulations which we
have to traverse at right angles, mule-deer in little bands can
be seen grazing, but no specially good head is among the different
lots, so they are not molested, and a few graceful leaps soon put
the ridge between the deer and the hunter. A couple of old bison
bulls I come upon in a secluded dell lumber away with that awkward
gait so peculiar to them. Their hides are scabby, and not even
worth the cartridges it would take to obtain them. As I pass
through a thicket of quaking asps which cover the bottom of one 3   ^
I r  Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.      23
of the gullies, half a dozen white-tail deer jump up and, with
a whisk of their long-haired tails, disappear in the brush. Their
grotesque " stiff-kneed " bounds, unlike those of any other deer,
as well as the fact that they are rarely seen outside of dense cover,
make them difficult shooting. By and bye I have to cross soft
ground, where a big spring has made the ground for many acres
round it sodden and swampy. Here, apparently, a big band of
wapiti must have passed not many hours before, for the ground
is one mass of tracks ; the biggest herd of cattle one ever saw
could not have made more. They were going in the same direction
we are travelling, and they bear out what the Indians had told us,
namely, that all the wapiti in the higher range we have been
hunting in leave it at the approach of winter and collect in the
sheltered breaks and gullies whither we are heading.
As meat is wanted for the pot, a young mule-deer buck is shot
shortly before we get into camp, and by the time the horses are
unpacked and have had their roll in the grass, and the fire is lighted,
I have had the two hind-quarters hanging in camp. There is
nothing left of one of them by the time we four and the two dogs
have appeased our appetites. As we are to move on early in the
morning, and the weather is fine, the tent is not stretched, and the
. evening is passed in the usual pleasant manner, lounging round the
camp fire, each individual busy with something or other. Garments
need the proverbial stitch in time, moccasins want new raw-hide
soles, saddles require.a wire stitch or other repairs, lash or cinche
ropes need splicing, hobbles lack new rings to replace worn-out ones,
or the " fire-irons "—the heavy, but sure, Sharp, the Winchester
repeater, and the "500 Express rifle—want the tender care which
the mountain man is wont to bestow on his old favourite. Is his
arm not as precious to the burly trapper as the babe is to its
mother? His life may any day depend upon the care which he
has given it, and an irreparable accident to it may have more
serious consequences than if he had broken his own bones.
But space will not permit one to dwell longer on the details of
camp life, for otherwise one could not describe, however briefly, 24
Sport and. Life.
the events to which one has hitherto been leading up—namely, the
winter sport which fell to our share after reaching our goal and
taking up our quarters in a cave-like " dug-out," which proved the
best possible shelter in the extremely severe weather which set in
later on in November.
In the days I am speaking of there was, as the reader will
probably have gleaned for himself, no difficulty whatever about
finding and shooting game, but rather to remember constantly the
duty one owed to prolific Nature of not killing more than one could
make use of, and of thus wasting life merely for the sake of
gratifying that deplorable lust of killing.
My chief aim in visiting the Rockies so repeatedly was to bag
big heads. To get a dozen wapiti antlers over 6oin. in length,
or a like number of bighorn with a circumference of 17m. and i8in.,
meant the securing of prizes which only a few sportsmen who
have visited the Rockies have been able to obtain. And while
I will not deny that, notwithstanding great care and discrimination
in the selection of one's quarry, one now and again killed animals
which, when they lay dead on the ground before one, turned out to
be smaller than one thought, and whose trophies therefore would
not warrant transportation ; these were occurrences which one tried
to avoid as much as possible. Transporting these big heads was
the chief difficulty in my case, as only a few horses were available
for that duty. Transporting wapiti antlers on pack-horses, often
for weeks at a time, is a most troublesome job, not only because
one cannot get more than two heads on one horse, but on account
of their bulk, which makes travel through timbered mountain country
most difficult, if not entirely impossible. It is not always the easiest
sacrifice after a long stalk, or a weary day's scramble on the rocky
ledges which are the home of the bighorn, to stay the hand which
is instinctively clutching the rifle, and curb that keen desire to make
the proud quarry one's own. The head the animal bears is, as the
glasses tell one, a good one, but not a "best" one, and as there is
more than enough venison in camp already, the beast must not be
killed.    Under  these circumstances, it was therefore   a  pleasant   Travelling in the Western Hunting Grounds.      25
surprise to discover that the large hunting party of Soshonés, which
we found one morning camped close to us, and amongst whom
there were several bucks we had met before, were, after a few days'
hunting and wasteful expenditure of cartridges, short of ammunition.
The fact was, as I learnt later on, that they had given the greater
part of their stock of this highly-prized article to their allies the
Ute Indians, who were out on the war-path ; and, as no fresh
supply could be obtained at the fort, most of the party were deprived
of the means wherewith to obtain theifwinter supply of meat, which,
of course, is the primary object of the great autumn or " fall" hunt.
This circumstance opened to me a most desirable chance of
shooting all the game I desired to kill without wasting more than a
few carcases of sheep, which tumbled down places where they could
not be easily got at, for the Indians were glad to make use of
all the meat I could procure for them. Had I desired, and had my
ammunition held out, I could have-killed many hundred head, for I
have never, either before or since, seen so much game as on that
occasion. The bighorn, whose rutting season falls in November,
had come down from the high ground which the old rams seek
during the hot weather, and were now with the does and small fry.
These animals, though not quite rivalling the chamois in agility, are
bold rock climbers ; and there is a sturdy pride and consciousness
of strength about the pose of an old ram as he stands on some
crag overlooking his realm, which is most attractive to the man
fond of mountain sport. They take a great deal of killing too,
and fine shooting is often necessary, not only on account of the
deceptive nature of distances in the dry and clear atmosphere
of the Rockies, but also on account of their vitality.
With wapiti* I was also very lucky, for, of course, there were
literally thousands upon thousands from which to pick and choose.
Had I had more ample means of transporting these bulky trophies,
and had not such unprecedentedly severe weather set in, the like of
* It is probably hardly necessary to say that in America the wapiti is known
as the elk. A great deal of confusion has arisen in consequence, many English
authors believing the American elk to mean the European elk. 26
Sport and Life.
which I never experienced .in all the winters I have spent in
different parts of the West, some of them in regions a good deal
further north, I could have delighted many more sportsmen's hearts
with trophies such as are now unobtainable, and made my own
collection a more ample one. But of course in those days one had
no idea that the extermination of big game would take place with
such appalling rapidity. Tens of thousands were butchered for the
sake of a few shillings obtained for the skin. The end to our good
time came with a heavy fall of snow and the commencement of the
cold spell, to which reference has already been made. Shooting
became practically impossible, and for days raging blizzards
prevented one leaving the " dug out " at all. When our stock of
flour, tea, and sugar began to wane, we thought it about time
to make a break for the fort. It was decidedly the unpleasantest
journey I had ever taken. What the extremest cold was I had
no opportunity to ascertain, for the quicksilver in my thermometer
congealed, but at the fort spirit instruments marked, we were told,
520 Fahrenheit below zero, or 840 of frost, during the week we were
on the journey down from the Sierra Soshoné. For a couple of
days we were travelling over a bare, steppe-like tableland, which
looked on those December days, without exception, the most dreary
spot man ever set eyes on. The wind there was so fierce that
it was impossible to put up the tent or find any other shelter.
From Fort Washakie there were still 155 miles to Green River
City (the nearest railway station), and two passes, one of 10,000ft.
above the sea, had to be crossed. And yet would not one
willingly undergo the same passing hardships were sport such as .
then rewarded one's efforts still obtainable ? But railways,
ranchemen, and miners have taken possession of what was once
the sportsman's paradise. Many parts of Montana, Wyoming,
and Idaho are still worth visiting for the sake of sport, but the old
glory of those States is gone never to return. CHAPTER IL
If you had told an average American twenty years ago that before
the century would end the enactment of game laws—not the mere
passing but also their enforcement—would become a burning
question from the Atlantic to the Pacific, you would have been
informed that you knew nothing about " the greatest and freest
people on earth." But events march sometimes rather more quickly
than the American himself is aware of, and this suggestive sign of
up-to-date democracy which is closely copying, in a slightly disguised form, the class legislation of effete old feudalism, is the best
possible proof, not only of the mellowing effects of time, but also
that there is no frontier, no " West," left. That wild game living
in a natural state, and therefore, according to the Constitution, the
property of the American people as a whole, should ever be made
the subject of private ownership, be hedged in by the much-
advertised "buffalo and elk proof wire fences," and thereby
become the property of the owner of the fence as were it cattle
on a ranch, is in itself such a climbing down of the old-fashioned
American ideas of freedom, that, while welcoming this end-of-the-
century reform, one rubs one's eyes and exclaims, "What next? "
But this chapter has nothing to do with the extensive game
parks that multi-millionaires are establishing in many of the
Atlantic States, highly useful as they certainly will prove;*   let
* Similar experiments are now being made also in Western States ; thus, in
Wyoming, on ground I knew very well indeed, a large game   park is now Sport and Life.
us rather glance at the cause of the extraordinarily rapid destruction of the herds of big game that made the hunting grounds on
the eastern and western slopes of the Rockies the best of their
kind in the world. To have to acknowledge that the destruction
of the bulk of big game there was the work of one single generation is not a pleasant truth for the " Makers of the West." Until
the completion of the first trans-continental railway, thirty years
ago, the muzzle-loaders of white men had made no serious impression upon bison and wapiti, upon bighorn and deer. That
gunpowder, whisky, and civilisation generally should have effaced
in four centuries the aborigines of a great continent is a detail of
the world's history that is even to-day being repeated in other
parts of the globe, and is one which was brought about as much by
the Old World as the New, for had Europe not poured its superfluous millions into America the westward march of civilisation
would hardly have succeeded in so speedily elbowing the natives
out of existence, or in linking the Atlantic to the Pacific by a chain
of farms, cattle ranches, mining camps, and deforested lumber
regions. Unjustifiable as the rapid extinction of the red man will
appear to our grandchildren, the extermination of the animals that
dwelt on his plains, that roamed his forests, or that filled his rivers,
must seem even less excusable, for, in their case, protection should
have been as possible, as is in civilised communities the enforcement
being established. According to the New York Shooting and Fishing, the site
selected is an ideal one for thé purpose. It will embrace 50,000 acres of
mountainous land lying in the Soshoné Range, the tract being well watered,
and with food plentiful both in summer and winter. Twenty prominent New
York sportsmen have already agreed to subscribe sooodols. each to carry
forward the enterprise. It is proposed to enclose the preserve with an 8ft.
woven wire fence. It is estimated that i,ooo,ooolb. of material will be required
for the fencing. A clubhouse, costing 5o,ooodols., is also contemplated. A
force of guardians will be employed the year round to take care of the property,
and to prevent trespass or poaching. The region abounds in elk, antelope,
deer, mountain sheep, bear, and other big game found in the Rocky Mountains,
besides feathered game of many kinds. No game will be killed in the preserve
during the next five years. It is reported that John W. Mackay and Theodore
Roosevelt, are in the forefront of the movement. The Slaughter of Big Game, âfc.
of laws protecting human life.    But the frontiersman, as one knew
him in those days, was not an ordinary personage.
In his fierce and utterly selfish attack upon Nature, he waged
a merciless war the like of which no country has ever seen, for
in days of older conquests the scientific means of wreaking destruction in such a wholesale manner were lacking. The finely-sighted
Sharp breechloader with which he rolled over in one " stand "
as many as forty or fifty bison in as many minutes, shooting them
purposely rather below the heart so that they should not drop in
their tracks and thus scare the herd, is as much an invention of
our time as is the giant powder (dynamite) cartridge, with which
he kills by one explosion literally hundreds of salmon and trout
in a single deep pool. A vastly increased network of railways
assists him in reaching hunting grounds, which in the olden days
would have been far too remote for remunerative "skin hunting,"
or the less inexcusable market hunting, for, in the latter case at
least, part of the venison is consumed by human beings. Even the
telegraph wire that reported to him the fluctuations of the fur and
hide market was pressed into service, for in the early eighties,
when the Northern Pacific was being built through Dacota and
Montana, the movements of the " Northern herd," which was
practically the last big band of bison in existence, was known from
day to day to the gang of market hunters along the railway, who
were supplying the contractors with game with which to feed
cheaply the four thousand navvies in their employ. When this
was happening the cattle ranch business was enjoying its boom,
and the Press of the West, as well as individuals, agreed that the
bison, if not also the wapiti, doomed anyhow to destruction, could
not be slaughtered too quickly, for were not their thousands
wasting the bunch grass upon which the more valuable domestic
kine, driven in vast herds from distant Texas, were to fatten. As
results too late proved, a large portion succumbed to the
climate, but this discovery came too late ; the work of annihilation
had been accomplished. The same merciless war against Nature
was waged by the miner and the prospector : the one, by depositing 3o
Sport and Life.
vast masses of worthless " tailings " and rock debris into fertile
valleys, turning some of the best tracts of California for ever into
a verdureless desert ; or by setting fire to the forests in spots likely
to contain mineral wealth. Thus were denuded by conflagrations,
which the writer has known to last in the Kootenay country and
along Puget Sound from May to October, thousands and tens of
thousands of square miles of country covered with the most superb
woods to be seen in any part of the world.
Twenty years ago one C. J. Jones, following the example of
thousands of his fellow-frontiersmen engaged in hide hunting,
received 50 cents (2sh.) for each of the many thousands of bison
he killed. Fifteen years later bison were practically extinct,
save in the National preserve in Yellowstone Park, where game is
guarded by cavalry and by the machinery of law. And this same
man, more far-seeing than his fellows, has become a prosperous
bison-rancher, having raised a numerous herd of hundreds from the
seven calves with which he started. To judge by the last reports,
he finds a ready sale for his offspring at from 40odols. to iooodols.
(£80 to £200) per head, to zoological gardens and museums, and
crowds of sightseers gladly paid 2sh. for a peep at his beasts !*
In the case of the wapiti, one factor that helped to ring his
death knell was the sudden discovery, made about twenty years
ago, that the skin of this deer, which formerly was considered the
most valueless game hide, because porous, was of use in certain
branches of the leather industry. And though the value of the
wapiti skin never approached that of the bison, it nevertheless,
when the latter animal became scarce, held out sufficient inducements to hundreds of skin hunters to penetrate into distant hunting
grounds into which they otherwise would never have dreamt of
venturing.f     This   hide hunting,  which  went  on   until  the   most
,* Since writing the above, Jones has sold his herd.
f Poland states that from 80,000 to 100,000 wapiti skins are imported into
England annually. The same writer mentions a curious circumstance, i.e., that
in 1890 the Hudson Bay Company bought at one time in London 910 Russian
elch skins for their Indians in Canada. The Slaughter of Big Game, &c.
recent days, if, indeed, it is not still going on, in spite of game laws
and a revulsion in the public opinion, has been the real cause of the
wapiti's rapid disappearance ; the further inducement, which fashion
has created, of endowing the antlers with a marketable value, doing
its share in hastening the extermination of this noble deer.
: iH 4  %"
Skin  Hunters at Work  in the Seventies.
Seven wapiti stags shot in one minute.
Not a few English sportsmen's books, where they refer to this
topic, contain exaggerated tales of slaughter as reported to the
writers by Western Munchausens. The statement that men have
killed 2000 or 2500 wapiti" in a few months, while pursuing their 32
Sport and Life.
vocation as skin hunters, can safely be considered gross
exaggeration ; one-tenth in such cases is nearer the truth.
Let me mention an incident that bears upon what I say, and
wrhich happened to me in the early 'eighties not far from the
Yellowstone Park. One of four skin hunters, who had spent the
preceding winter in a remote mountain basin with which I was
acquainted, told me that he and his partners had got 2500 wapiti
skins. Convinced that this was not true, the following cross-
examination ensued. I must premise that the spot to which they
alluded was 130 miles from a railway station, and could only be
reached by crossing two rather difficult passes ; also that the dried
skin (green) of a wapiti stag weighs from thirty to fifty pounds.
To take the average at fifteen pounds is therefore certainly below
rather than above the real weight.
" How many horses did you have ?" I asked.
" Eleven pack animals and four saddle horses, but we used the
latter, too, for packing," came the answer. " Well, how many trips
did you make to get the 2500 skins to the railway?"
" Oh, we just loaded down the cayuses, and did it in two trips."
Taking a charred stick from the camp fire around which we
were siting, I made on the canvas of the tent behind me the
following calculation, " 11 + 4 = 15 horses multiplied by two (trips)
= 30 horseloads." Taking a heavy load for crossing the passes
to be 12 skins = i8olb., the number of skins that could have been
transported in the two trips would have been at most between
300 and 400 !
This is one instance of many that I have sifted down to similar
proportions. At other times, when the difficulties of transportation
were considerably less, it was easy to trip up the breezy lie by
a calculation anent the ammunition that was used for the feat of
killing 2500 wapiti. To bring down that number it would take at
the very least from 5000 to 6000 cartridges, which would weigh
300 or 400 pounds, or several pony-loads, and cost very much
more than men of that stamp could afford to spend after purchasing
their winter stores and outfit.    In some cases, it is true, and these The Slaughter of Big Game, &c.
were the worst instances, outfits would be " grub-staked " by
dealers who would provide everything that the men needed, and
share the profits, much in the same way that the buffalo hunters
were outfitted in the seventies in Kansas and Eastern Colorado.
As a rule, the hide hunters took to this occupation as a makeshift by which they could cover expenses during the winter, for all
hide hunting was done at that period. By profession they were
mostly miners, ranch hands, or navvies, whose regular occupation
came to an end with the advent of winter, while their means did
not permit of their returning for the season to their eastern
In severe winters Nature seemed occasionally to assist the work
of extermination. Thus, in a severe blizzard which swept over
Colorado in the last week of January, 1893, a band of about 1000
wapiti became imprisoned by the snow on a high and heavily
timbered mesa in the mountains -near Steamboat Springs. Ranchmen, prospectors, and hide hunters, on hearing of this windfall,
" waded in," killing many with clubs, as the local papers reported,
and I believe not a single beast was allowed to escape.
And what about the game laws ? the reader will , exclaim.
Were there no laws which could be enforced to &top such
slaughter ?
The laws, and sufficiently good laws, were there all right enough
on paper, and, what is more, they had been framed at a sufficiently
early date to have saved the bulk of the game, only there was
nobody to enforce them. That was the crux of the whole
question, as indeed it could not help being in those vast, then
thinly populated, regions where horse thieving was about the only
crime that roused a community to action, where men who had
committed half a dozen murders were the lions to whom it was
an honour for the newly arrived stranger to be introduced.
Though such lawlessness was never rampant in British Columbia
—thanks to the strong hand of the late Chief Justice Begbie, a man
among ten thousand—the evolution of the British Columbian game
laws manifest of late years a pettifogging meanness as well as
D 34
Sport and Life.
an absurd jealousy of English sportsmen which was far less
noticeable in the territories south of the line* Some funny tales
could be told about the men who framed Western game laws,
also about the arguments one heard. But to give the devil bis
due, no Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho legislator gave vent to such
preposterous opinions about English sportsmen, or gave expression to
such gross slanders about their doings as were to be heard in the
British Columbian House of Assembly when the annual tinkering
of the game laws of the province afforded an opportunity. The
Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho legislatures, composed as they were,
too, of some rough elements, were sensible enough to recognise the
true cause of the evil, no less than the fact patent to every ranchman and frontiersman from the Platte to the Snake river, that the
Englishmen visiting for sport their mountain fastnesses belonged to
a class that did not seek to gain pecuniary profits from their
hunting expeditions. They knew only too well that the visitors
were men to whom it was wise to extend open arms. To speak of
my own experience, no welcome could be heartier than that which
greeted me throughout the American West. In British Columbia,
on the other hand, where game was never exposed to the same
danger of extermination, for the density of the woods, which
makes pursuit such a matter of difficulty there, is the best possible
protection against slaughter, a very different feeling towards
English sportsmen visiting the province for sport was often
manifested. Not so much by the up-country settlers, who knew too
well what such visits meant to them, but by certain professional
* The British Columbian game laws at present in force compel the nonresident sportsmen, under threats of heavy fine or imprisonment, to obtain a
licence costing 5odol. G£io), and limit his bag of wapiti to two stags ; while
the Indians, on the other hand, are under no sort of control to prevent them
from hide hunting (indeed they are not even told that they must not do so), and
settlers may kill as much as they desire, as they quite rightly should, for their
own use ; so that practically the only persons against whom the game laws
of British Columbia, so far as big game is concerned, are directed, are the
visiting sportsmen, whose knickerbockered presence appears to be decidedly
unwelcome to the professional legislators who framed these laws. The Slaughter of Big Game, &c.
politicians, who gave expression both in speeches and in letters
to the newspapers to invectives of which the following may be cited
as specimens : " What do we want with titled asses .... who
parade upon the streets dressed in the most fantastic style, with their
waistcoats over their overcoats, and their shirts over their waistcoats who take more money out of the country than
they brought in," and, alluding to one particular sportsman who
had dared to criticise the provincial game laws, " who might
be seen driving many a hard bargain with the Indians with all
the avidity of a Shoreditch Jew," or in another place, referring
to the same person, " was a trader who tried to pass as a sport—a
regular Shoreditch Jew." Mr. Joseph Hunter, M.P.P. (Member of
the Provincial Parliament), the gentleman who expressed these
prettily phrased personalities, could hardly be expected to know
very much about the sentiments of English sportsmen as a class,
but at the same time it seems a pity that such bombastic rhetoric
should add insult to the injury done by this fatuous blindness to
his country's true interests.
How ineffectively the British Columbia game-laws are framed,
and how efficiently they are carried out, the following instance
taken from late numbers of the Victoria Times (July 21 and
August 21, 1899) will illustrate. According to the evidence produced before the city magistrate, a more than usually vigilant law
officer attempted to seize a shipment of some twenty-one thousand
pickled and raw skins of black-tail deer, which a Victoria firm of
hide merchants were about to export to San Francisco. Section 4 of
the statute under which this firm was prosecuted, runs as follows :—
No person shall at any time purchase or have in possession with
intent to export, or cause to be exported or carried out of the limits of this
province, or shall at any time or in any manner export, or cause to be
exported or carried out of the limits of this province, any or any portion of
the animals or birds mentioned in this Act, in their raw state : and this
provision shall apply to railway, steamship, and express companies.
To put the result as briefly as possible, the judge dismissed the
case, because, according to a fair construction of the above quoted
D 2 36
Sport and Life.
section, " it is the possession with intent to export in their raw
state which is prohibited, and there is no evidence here of any
such intention." Probably he was legally quite righjt, and that the
fault lies at the door of the legislature, through whose act these
21,000 deer skins were driven on a triumphal car.
Probably all these deer were killed the previous winter by
Indian and white skin-hunters on the numerous densely timbered
islands that dot the channel between the mainland and Vancouver
Island, and slaughtered in most cases simply for the sake of their
skins, worth a few shillings each, for it appears from the local press
that " hundreds of carcasses of deer may be found rotting on the
mountain sides and in the woods."
Other writers as well as myself have been accused in some
quarters of crabbing the game resources of British Columbia, and
as many a sportsman's as well as goldseeker's eye is turned towards
the North Pacific coast just now, a word of explanation will be not
out of place here. What constitutes "GOOD " big game shooting
must ever remain a matter of individual opinion. Be that opinion
whatever it may, it should, to give it value, spring from bona fide
motives that have no connection with any desire to benefit other
than the sportsman. When I say that I do not by any means consider British Columbia the big game hunter's paradise which it has
been made out to be, it is only fair to premise that my judgment
may possibly be more or less warped by the exceptionally good
sport I had previously enjoyed in American territory—Wyoming,
Montana, and Idaho. For big game shooting I consider the two
countries could simply not be compared, for in the latter the quantity and diversity of big game was as far beyond one's most sanguine
expectations, as it was below pessimistic anticipations in British
Columbia. When I turned for the first time towards British
Columbia, entering the Kootenay District from Idaho, I very
speedily discovered that the dense forests, even if an equal quantity
of game were there, reduced the sportsman's chances to a minimum,
save in the case of mountain "goat," for which British Columbia
is by far the best field that I know, for in their case dense woods The Slaughter of Big Game, &c.
though sadly obstructing one's approaches to the above timber-
line regions inhabited by this animal, do not interfere with
the actual shooting of beasts inhabiting the regions above
Taking it all round, I can safely say that on many occasions
I have seen in Wyoming and Idaho, in one single day, more big
game, not counting bison, than I have in all the ten or eleven years
put together in British Columbia. When the Montana and Idaho
hunting grounds were first invaded by railway builders, we have
already heard that thousands of navvies were fed for months on
game only ; when the same thing occurred in British Columbia—
i.e., the Canadian Pacific was being built through the excessively
rough Selkirks or down the Fraser Canons—narry a bit of venison
did the navvies ever see. Better proof of the extreme difference
between the game conditions in two countries could hardly be
In most of my subsequent expeditions I tried to combine what
sport I could fit in with interests in land and mining ventures,
which entailed the exploration of practically quite wild districts.
For, while disappointed with British Columbia's big game resources,
I was much taken with other features of that beautiful country.
During the ten or eleven years that I practically resided either
wholly or during a part of the year in British Columbia, I travelled
very many thousand miles on horseback, in coast and river canoes as
well as on rafts, on foot with rifle, and occasionally with my sleeping-
bag on my back, as well as by more civilised means of conveyance
over its mountain trails, picturesque lakes, and rushing rivers, which
teem with trout in quantities probably unrivalled by any other
country in the world. I have slept on the ground with and without
tents for six months at a time, and from occupying for a fortnight
the inside of a spare boiler on a steamer, have sought "the downy "
in the usual variety of strange places with which every pioneer is
familiar. And what, concerning the question at issue, is more
important, I have lived several summers and autumns in the
districts that were considered the best game countries in British 3»
Sport and Life.
Columbia, and this at a time when they were not yet over-run by
miners. I have also visited the east and west coast and some
of the practically unexplored interior of Vancouver Inland. During
these ten or eleven years peregrinations in British Columbia I have
never seen, much less killed, a single wapiti ; and, what is more, I
know of only two visitors who succeeded in shooting any at all.*
I have never heard of a visitor ever killing a moose in British
Columbia, and in the ten years I have only seen one small bull.
In the extreme north of the province a fair number are said to exist,
and this by such an entirely reliable sportsman as Mr. Warburton
Pike, who, in his excellent "Through Sub-Arctic Forests," gives a
most interesting account of the sport obtainable in those far-off
regions. To exploit these great solitudes for sporting purposes,
entails wintering, at least once, if not twice, in a very inhospitable
country, where starvation is an uncomfortable possibility. And let
it be said here that none but the extremely hardy and thoroughly
experienced in woodcraft should ever venture to follow that sportsman's example, for he is one in ten thousand when it comes to
roughing it. Hardships of which the stay-at-home—sportsman can
form no conception are as nothing to this born explorer.
Black-tail deer are still plentiful on the islands off Vancouver
Island and on that island, facts to which I have alluded. They are
principally hunted in winter, and the sport they give is but poor.
In some parts of the mainland the finer mule deer (C. macrotis)
takes its place with advantage to the pot and to the gunner, for on
account of the less dense timber frequented by this deer, there
is more chance of getting a shot at it.
In contrast to the opinion of those upholding the splendid
sporting facilities obtainable in British Columbia, unprejudiced
observers   have    from   early   days   onward   declaimed   upon   the
* I remember only one instance of wapiti (four inferior ones) being killed by
two non-professional hunters residing in British Columbia (Messrs. Hayes
and Walker), and Sir Matthew Begbie, Chief Justice of British. Columbia,
a keen sportsman, himself told me at the time that no such thing had been
done in the last twenty years. The Slaughter of Big Game, dfc.
absence of game on the mainland of British Columbia. Lieutenant
Mayne, R.N., the famous explorer of the country between Jervis
Inlet and Lilloet River, which is to-day practically in the same
wild state in which it was thirty or forty years ago, wrote
" The same absence of animal life was observable on this journey
as I remarked on my excursion last year. Here, where man hardly
ever comes, one would think game would abound, but we only saw
one deer, half a dozen grouse, and as many small birds. We saw
the marks of several bears and sufficient indications of deer to show
us that the solitary one we had seen was not the only one in British
Columbia." On page 221, when describing a trip into the interior,
in the neighbourhood of Shushwap, he says : " The absence of
animal life is also very remarkable." Many other equally well-
informed writers could be quoted in support of my contention
that British Columbia's Jbig game resources are on the whole
disappointing, and at best very "spotty."
Returning to the question of unbiassed opinions in expressing
views concerning British Columbia sport, it is probably needless to
warn the reader against accepting the advice of persons financially
interested in booming the sporting resources of a country. Railway
companies and the silvery-tongued land speculators or " real estate
agents " are the wrorst sinners in this respect, hence, caveat emptor !
To the amusing, not to call them extraordinary, discussions on the
Game Bill in the House of Assembly in Victoria during the session
of 1892; another typical instance how history comes to be written
can be added. At that time an English resident in Victoria, who
very soon afterwards came rather prominently before the British
sporting world as the editor and chief contributor to a well-known
standard series of English books on sport, was editing a local
newspaper in Victoria. In letters and leading articles he advocated
the repeal of certain game laws then about to be passed by the
legislature, and in doing so he gave expression to opinions
regarding British Columbia's big game resources which hardly
bore   out   the   very  high   opinions  which   he   published   in  the
4IH   II-. 4o
Sport and Life.,
English series and other works intended to meet the eye of
the British sportsman. In the latter he says, " there is no
doubt that the home par excellence of the wapiti to-day, is
in the dense timber of the Olympian range in Washington,
Oregon, and, to a certain extent, in Vancouver Island " ; while for
bighorn and bear he was even more emphatic in his praise
of British Columbia. These attractive recommendations his
newspaper articles intended for a local circle of Victoria readers,
and written at the time he was completing the two volumes of
the series I have alluded to, do not voice. "There is reasonable
hope," he wrote, " that Victoria will again this year benefit by
the advent of moneyed strangers prepared to part with their
dollars for the sake of a few hides and horns, or rather for the sake
of the remote chance of obtaining these trophies " {Daily News,
Victoria, April 9, 1892). In another passage he acknowledges
that " three parties of good men came back this season from good
hunting districts empty-handed." From other passages one infers
that one of the objects in inducing Britishers to come out for sport is
to thereby benefit the land speculators and hotel-keepers ; at least,
such is the impression the following passages leave on one's mind :
" The rich men of Europe come out here to hunt our sheep and
bear and wapiti, leaving a hundred pounds in the country for every
beast which they took out of it. Nor is this the chief part
of the good which the bighorn, fairly killed, brings to British
Columbia. The men who hunt big game must be moneyed men,
more or less, and not only do they bring a good many dollars into
our hotels, but real estate agents will tell you that a large number
of those who come to hunt stay to invest." To ride with the hotel-
keepers and real estate agents, and to run with the British sportsmen in quest of game in British Columbia, are tasks which, I fear,
it is somewhat difficult to combine, at least, with advantage to the
latter. Of the efficiency of the game laws he speaks thus : " Our
game laws are a dead letter. Nobody minds them a bit," and proceeds to declare that of the £10 shooting licences which every
stranger should procure before he may shoot a head of big game : il! Il The Slaughter of Big Game, &c.
" I doubt if a single licence has ever been procured, yet there were
more than a dozen men in town this fall who ought to have paid for
For bighorn certain limited districts in the arid interior of
British Columbia were once somewhat frequently visited by sportsmen who had never shot that beast in Wyoming or Colorado.
But even there I have heard of only three moderately good bags
ever being made, the one by Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour,
"whose keenness and walking powers were altogether above the
ordinary. Along the main chain of the Rockies in East Kootenay,
in the extreme south-east corner of the province there was very
good ground (approachable from the Great Northern Railway), but
whether it is so still is a question I would not like to answer offhand, considering the actively carried on construction of the
Canadian Pacific Railway. A region wrhere I think good sport
can still be obtained is in the Rockies, between the Crow's Nest
Pass in Kootenay and where the Great Northern crosses the
For black bear British Columbia is a good country, but local
knowledge concerning the favourite feeding places at particular
periods of the year is absolutely necessary if success is to be
achieved. In all my roamings through British Columbia I have
only added two black bears to my fourteen or fifteen in the States,
but I had bad luck in both regions with them. Caribou are hard
to get, and at best do not offer anything like the attraction other
big game does. In two instances that I know of, the lazy man
who stayed in camp bagged fine specimens, while the keen and
tireless friend, roaming the woods all day, failed to obtain a
single shot.
In conclusion, let me give a few practical hints concerning
the working of the game laws of the Western States. Considering
that of late years the various State legislatures are constantly
tinkering at their game laws—always in the direction of greater
stringency — it might be misleading to give definite details of
the  regulations  concerning: the rigdits   of  aliens to shoot  game
Eii 42
Sport and Life.
As a general thing, with the exception perhaps of Idaho, the law
has gone to the other extreme, and the bag a stranger is legally
entitled to make is of such ridiculously limited proportions as on
the face of it to suggest that a wide berth had better be given to
the Western States. The resident, on the other hand, enjoys the
wide privileges of a " settler" who can kill game practically at any
season of the year, and in quantities no law has as yet attempted to
define, always- provided that the game is for his own use and no
part $fit h said.
What is the use one may well ask of the Montana law limiting
a stranger to two wapiti so long as there are no officials to see that
this number is not exceeded ? In a country where in the wilder
parts you can still travel and hunt for weeks without seeing a
human being, it would require an army far larger than that of the
whole United States to enforce such regulations* And even were
such an army available, the investment of £50 in a " ranch "
makes the stranger a " settler" in the eyes of the law.
In one respect care has to be exercised ; it is concerning the
trophies. These should not be brought to the railway stations in
numbers exceeding the law's limit, for blackmailers, prompted by
the reward in the shape of half the fine, have of late years more
than once caused English as well as American shooting parties
considerable trouble and expense. The task of transporting the
trophies out to the railway should be left to your hunter or guide
to accomplish after you have left. If he is worth his salt, he will
manage to get eight or ten picked heads to the railway and dispatch
them, packed in cases, without any trouble.
* How difficult such supervision of less vast areas is, actual experience has
shown. Thus the force of cavalry that guards the National Park has often
proved useless in preventing regular poaching raids, in some of which the small
remaining herd of bison has severely suffered CHAPTER   III.
American millionaires have for years past, it is well known,
ransacked the picture galleries of Europe, where they garnered
many of the masterpieces that once adorned the walls of England's
mansions or the marble-flagged galleries of Continental palaces.
Europe has revenged itself by sending to the Western hunting
grounds her sportsmen, who have succeeded in capturing there quite
as many, and probably quite as irreplaceable, chefs d'œuvre,
not of man's, but of Nature's choicest handiwork. In both cases
the demand exceeds the supply, with the result that second-class
masterpieces are pressed into the first rank, and the sportsman of
to-day has to be satisfied with trophies which would have been
regarded as second-rate ones ten years before.
Before proceeding further, let me clear the ground on one
important point. Trophies of the chase can be regarded from two
different points of viewr—i.e., from that of the naturalist, as more or
less valuable contributions to our knowledge of natural history ; and,
secondly, from a purely sporting point of view. To the scientific
investigator desirous of establishing the length, the widest spread,
or the greatest circumference of the " largest on record " of some
particular species, it is naturally a matter of indifference who killed
the bearer of the trophy deserving that distinction. To the sportsman, on the other hand, who disdains to adorn his walls with spoils
that he has not obtained himself, it is a matter of interest what
other fellow sportsmen have shot, while the fact that some skin
hunter of Wyoming or Montana has bagged a wapiti with antlers, 44
Sport and Life.
or a bighorn with horns an inch or two larger than the best of his
own killing, remains  a matter of indifference.
The line we draw in other departments of spoit between the
amateur and the professional can, and should be, extended, to the
realm of sporting trophies. But in those books that deal with the
latter, such as Rowland Ward's " Records of Big Game," we find
that the naturalist's rather than the sportsman's interests are
consulted, some great pair of antlers bagged in some remote
corrie of the Rocky Mountains by a "horn hunter" or "hide
hunter," or a giant bighorn head obtained by some nameless
meat-hunter's Winchester, ranking, by merit of its superior
dimensions, in front of the trophy which rewarded a journey
of 10,000 miles and the hardships incidental to sport in the wild
regions where such noble game can still be found. In books of
this type the name of the owner of the trophy and not that of the
sportsman who bagged it, is given if, what is often the case, these
two are not identical.
The great private collections of natural history specimens,
highly interesting and useful as they no doubt are, which figure so
prominently in these books, can be formed only by rich men, and
the collector need not necessarily be a sportsman in the sense of
the word here used.
In the following pages the question of trophies has, in the first
place, been dealt with in this spirit, and the reader will find
collected together the records of most of the principal spoils of the
chase obtained, not only by English, but also by foreign sportsmen.
What superb trophies could still be~ obtained half a generation
ago could well be seen by the visitor to the American Trophy
Exhibition, held, in 1887, at Earl's Court. It was a loan collection
the like of which the present generation will probably not see
again, for only those who took upon themselves the endless trouble
and responsibility of inducing owners of choice trophies to
dismantle their walls of their treasures, can form an idea of the
hard work and the immense amount of correspondence it entailed
upon those who initiated the movement. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
Prominent among these, it will be remembered, was Mr. E. N.
Buxton, who was assisted by a committee,* while Mr. J. E. Harting
and Mr. Oldfield Thomas, of the Natural History Museum, undertook the extremely onerous and responsible duty of carefully
measuring the exhibits, of which there were close upon two
hundred. The catalogue prepared and issued by the committee
contained the result of this arduous work with the measuring tape,
as well as some notes upon the chase of the principal game
animals whose grand trophies graced the lofty room. These
were furnished by members of the committee, and Mr. Harting
contributed a very useful systematic list of the species exhibited.
Woodcuts and photographs (with the latter only a very limited
number of copies were provided) lent a further value to this
Unfortunately, only an inadequately small edition was printed,
and the result is that to-day it is practically impossible to obtain
copies, and those furnished with photographic representations of
the chief heads are, I am told, worth (the plates having been
destroyed) a f,\o note. Under these circumstances a selection of
its principal contents may be welcome.
It will be remembered that on the occasion in question most of
the antlers were mounted on stuffed heads, which, of course, made
it impossible to ascertain what, in the opinion of those versed in
antler lore, is the most important quality, i.e., weight. The
dimensions ascertained by the two gentlemen I have already
named as having taken upon themselves this laborious duty were :
A, length of horn measured along curve behind, from base to tip of
longest tine ; B, circumference at thinnest place between bay and
tray ; and C, greatest clear width between the main beams (not, as
many suppose, greatest lateral width between tips of tines furthest
* It consisted of the following sportsmen :—Messrs. E. N. Buxton,
H. Seton-Karr, M.P., J. M. Hanbury, A. Pendarvis Vivian, J. E. Harting,
Moreton Frewen, T. Bate, W. A. Baillie-Grohman, and Gerald Buxton, Hon.
Sec. 46
Sport and Life.
In accordance with what has been said, precedence is given in
the present pages to trophies killed by sportsmen, other heads
being mentioned only in illustration of some peculiarity meriting
One of the most remarkable among the former was a wonder-
Mr. Cooper's Wapiti   Head.
The longest wapiti at the Trophy Show of
fully long pair of antlers shot by an American sportsman, Mr
Frank Cooper, who, accompanied by his brother, hunted in
Wyoming in the good old days of the seventies. They exhibited
what was decidedly the best collection of American trophies at the
exhibition. The greatest length of their best head was 62^in.,
while   another  shown  by  the   same  gentleman  had the  biggest The Wapiti and his Antlers.
circumference, i.e., 8^in., but in other respects it was of rather too
stunted proportions to enter into competition. Of the former
head   the   catalogue   unfortunately   contained   no    photographic
The Author's Wapiti.
For size and spread the best at the Trophy Show of 1887.
representation.     The illustration  is taken from a drawing of it
by Mr. G. E. Lodge, which appeared in the catalogue.
Among the great wealth of fine heads it was no easy thing for
the judges to select the best head all round. According to the
verdicts recorded in the catalogue (pages 23 and 38), as well as in 4§
Sport and Life.
the Field and elsewhere, this honour was accorded to the head of
the second largest wapiti I have ever killed.*
I am tempted to indulge in this blowing of my own little
trumpet in vindication of a trophy I am rather proud of, as the
writer of the chapters on American big game in the " Badminton
Library," stated that according to the catalogue measurements
the best wapiti head in the American Trophy Exhibition was
Mr. Cooper's.t Had he said the longest instead of the best, I
should have had nothing to complain of.
But, after all, the superiority of one head over the other was in
this, as in most other instances, strictly speaking, only a matter of
opinion, and not one of absolute fact, which latter, I contend, it
would have become had a fourth point of merit—namely, weight—
been added to length, width, and circumference, which were the
three dimensions which the experts decided were the essential
In Austria and Germany, where antler lore has for centuries
been made a regular study, the best judges consider that the most
telling point of merit is the weight of the antlers. In the instance
under discussion the circumferences of the antlers were invariably
taken between the bay and tray tine. At this point of measurement Mr. Cooper's head taped |in. more than mine; but, on the
other hand, as several careful though unofficial measurements amply
proved, my antlers kept their beam much further up than Mr. I
Cooper's, and unprejudiced persons acknowledged that there could
be no doubt that my head was the heavier of the two. I am very
sure that, could both sets of antlers have been detached from the
stuffed heads on which they were unfortunately mounted, and then
placed on the scales, my trophy would have been found to weigh
* The catalogue said (p. 23) that it " has justly been selected by many as the
best head in the room for weight, length, and symmetry," and (p. 38) " for size
and spread of horns it is by far the best." The Field (May 21, '87) : " The
first for size." The Sporting and Dramatic: "Carries off the palm as the
finest wapiti head in the show," &c.
•f- Field, October 6, 1894. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
pounds heavier than the other. Weight would thus have spoken
the determining word in this friendly rivalry.
While on the topic of length, I may mention that the longest
wapiti antlers I have ever seen was a wonderful old head I picked
up on the Grosventre Creek in 1880. It measured 68in. The
longest head I have ever killed myself was a 64m. head.
Unfortunately it shared the fate of two of my largest bighorn
heads, which were lost to me by a fire which destroyed a log cabin
where I had them stored. I believe I am right in saying that no
European sportsman has killed finer heads.
My favourite head of all is one of over 6oin., with peculiarly
long and gracefully shaped tines of good curve—the sur-royals are
2ft. in length—and for this reason I am tempted to reproduce a
likeness of it as it hangs in my study [see Frontispiece). The
grizzly old stag that carried it gave me one of the most exciting
stalks man ever enjoyed.* Two other fine heads were presented by
me to two great Continental collectors ; one of the trophies hanging
in the great dining hall at Reinhardsbrunn, amid giant red deer
heads of past centuries grassed by the matchlocks and flintlocks
of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg ; while the other is hanging in
Langenburg, the ancient castle of the Hohenlohe dynasty, amid
similar " good and worthy fellows."
Measuring heads is ticklish work, and should not be undertaken
by the owner if he wants to quote the result. What made the
American Trophy Show such an interesting event was not only the
fact that most of the best heads in Europe were collected together,
but chiefly because they were measured by impartial and reliable
judges according to one and the same principle. Anybody who has
ever had to do with measuring antlers knows only too well the
perplexing variety that exists of taking measurements, and how
easily mistakes, notwithstanding the best intentions, will occur.
As already observed, the weight of antlers would add an important
* It was described in an illustrated article in the Illustrated London News,
Nov. 6, 1886, and pictures of this head have appeared in the principal sporting
papers of England and the Continent.
IP 5°
Sport and Life.
" point of merit " of scientific value to the dimensions arrived at
by means of the tape, and it is to be hoped that in future more
attention will be paid to it by English sportsmen.
Mr. Otho  Shaw's Wapiti Head,
Showing the healing process.
Abnormal formations  are far less  rare with the  wapiti than
with red deer, and some very curious malformations are known The Wapiti and his Antlers.
among the former trophies. Not the least so is the deformed head
exhibited by Mr. Otho Shaw at the Trophy Show {see illustration),
which those who saw it there; will probably remember. The blow
which had fractured the skull, a year or more previous to his death,
had failed to kill him, and, as Mr. E. N. Buxton very correctly
says, " Nature asserted herself in an attempt to throw â bridge
over the cavity."*
Curious as this malformed head is, one of my own shooting has
also features of interest. It is one of the only two 18-point wapitis
I have ever shot, and though of very moderate dimensions so far as
beam and length are concerned, it was no doubt a very old stag.
The abnormal character of the head lies more in the whole type than
in any one particular. The whole growth (see illustration) has about
it features reminding one rather of the woodland caribou. It was
shot, however, so far from the nearest caribou country (I killed it in
1879 in Central Wyoming), and a crossing of wapiti with either of
the two Rangifer species is so extremely unlikely and unknown, that
one cannot regard the resemblance as more than a chance one.
Singularly enough, the coat of this stag was of an unusual grey,
and the hair seemed to be more brittle and coarse than ordinarily.
With these details I became acquainted in a sufficiently unpleasant
manner, for this stag very nearly proved to be the last one I was
to grass. It was about the middle of the rutting season, and the
country I was in (the Fort Casper Hills) was simply alive with
wapiti, whose weird whistling and clash of antlers in angry combat
seemed to be going on all day and all night. The country being
very broken, it was difficult to spot big heads, and still more
•difficult to follow one's selection across the timbered ravines and
.gullies that criss-crossed the country in every direction.    However,
* An even more curious instance was brought to my notice by Sir Douglas
Brooke, when showing me his father's most interesting collection. A fallow
"buck, in a fight with another buck, had lost one antler as well as a piece of the
skull, which came off with the horn. The wound, very serious as it was,
•nevertheless healed, and the following year the buck not only shed his antlers,
■but the newly-formed bone came off too.
E   2 52
Sport and Life.
I had seen this stag, and watched him with my 'glasses as he
" bossed " a herd of hinds along a narrow game trail that skirted
a deep ravine. I sawr that it was a large bodied aaimal, and of a
peculiarly greyish tint, which was enough to make me keen to bag;
him. It was easy enough work ; by keeping along the bottom of
the ravine I got under the band, and, though I had to bend
backwards to an unpleasant degree, so as to get my faithful old
" Trailstopper " to bear upon my victim, who was stalking along
The Author's  i8-point Wapiti Head with
Caribou   Palmation.   Shot 1879.
at the tail end of the band some four hundred feet straight above
me, I managed to get in my right and left. In fact, almost too
successfully, for the stag was knocked off his legs and off the
narrow trail, and as the slope was far too steep for him to regain a
footing, the great beast came down the hillside—half falling, half
slithering—straight for the spot in the V-shaped bottom of the
ravine Where I was standing. The rapidity with which this
happened, and  the  fact  that  the  smoke of  my shots  was still The Wapiti and his Antlers.
hanging about, left me no time for escape, and I was knocked
down. Fortunately by his hind quarters and not by " the business
end" of the beast, as my trapper facetiously remarked when I
narrated to him this incident.
f • My two Austrian friends, Counts Ernst Hoyos and Ferd.
Trauttmansdorff, who in 1887 made, what I think was, in some
Count E. Hoyos'   Wapiti.
respects, one of the most successful shooting expeditions ever
undertaken by European or American sportsmen, secured some
fine wapiti heads in the region to which I advised them to go,
i.e., the headwaters of the Green River and Snake River, on the
western slope of the Windriver range. Their heads rank well up
in the list of trophies, and had the guns been able to stay longer 54
Sport and Life.
there,   one   or  the   other   would probably   have bagged   a   6oin.
Why I consider their western jaunt such a successful one,ais
that  they obtained  within  two  months   all   the   principal North
Mr. H. Seton-Karr's Wapiti  Head.
American big game, from a nice bag of white antelope-goat on the
Upper Columbia, in the Kootenay district—ground I knew well as
harbouring these beasts within sight of steamer communication,
and which then had not been hunted much—to wapiti, bighorn,
bear, and the smaller  deer.     Communication between the  then The Wapiti and his Antlers.
very isolated Upper Kootenay country and the borders of Idaho
and Wyoming was, in 1887, very much more roundabout and
slower than it is to-day, hence some sharp work in camp moving
was necessary. Count Hoyos had been out West before in earlier
years, when, notwithstanding that game was  far more  plentiful
Mr. Ernest Farquhar's  14-poiNT Wapiti   Head.
than in 1887, the expedition was as unsuccessful as the later one
was the contrary. A systematically worked out itinerary, arranged
by one knowing the country to be traversed, makes, in such a case,
all the difference.
Sportsmen nowadays express doubt concerning the possibility 56
Sport and Life.
of obtaining decent wapiti heads in America. That nothing like
record heads can be bagged is a sad truth, for the number of
animals has within the last two decades shrunk by at least
nineteen-twentieths.       At    the    same    time,    good    heads    can
-Wapiti  Shot by  Mr. T. Bate, of  Kelsterton.
occasionally still be got, and, as the best evidence of this, I am
tempted to reproduce the photograph (see illustration) of a fine
trophy of the dimensions given in the table, obtained by
Mr. Moncreiffe as late as 1896 in what is now considered a
"shot out" region, namely, the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. Mr. W. Moncreiffe s  Wapiti.  The Wapiti and his Antlers.
(Names arranged alphabetically.)
Name of Sportsman.
Length Circum.
along above
curve of     bez
Where kil
Captain Abdy      57Ï
LordAva     56
Late Sir Samuel Baker      59§
W. A. Baillie-Grohman     64
„  (Am.T.Exh.) 6o|
„     ,  6b|
E. N. Buxton (Am. T. Exh.)
T. D. Cobbold 	
Frank Cooper     ^>3%
(Am.  T.   Exh.) 62J
Lord Dumore  55
Major C. C. Ellis   6o|
Hon. Ch. Ellis    57§
Ernest Farquhar     62
„ I   61J
E. Grant  60J
H. Seton-Karr    61
„ „        (Am. T.  Exh.) 59J
Major Maitland Kirwan     55
St. George Littledale     55§
W. Moncreiffe     58
Sir H. B. Meux, Bart  55
Otho Shaw...  55I
Sir Humphry de Trafford, Bt. 57J
A. Pendarvis Vivian (Am.T.Exh.) 55
Captain G. Dalrymple White... | 55§
Count F. Trauttmansdorff  1 57
Count Ernst Hoyos .
Theodore Roosevelt.
IP1 '.
Bighorn Mts., Wyoming
Gros   Ventre,   borders   of
Wyoming and Idaho
Windriver, Wyoming
Windriver Mts., Wyoming
Caspar Mts., Wyoming
Windriver Mts., Wyoming
Borders of Colorado and
Bighorn Mts., Wyoming
Bate's Hole,
Bighorn Mts., Wyoming
Saskatchewan, Canada
Gros Ventre Range,
Windriver, Wyoming
1 the Am. Trophy Exh. catalogue the length of this head is, I believe, given as goin. 58
Sport and Life.
In Rowland Ward's third edition there are several other heads
over 55 inches in length. L have not mentioned them, first of all,
because I could not find out whether they- were killed by
sportsmen, and secondly, because some of the dimensions given
Sir Edmund  Loder's  remarkably  Wide  Wapiti  Head.
by him are quite impossible.      Thus, the twenty-third head is said
to measure 42 inches round the burr !
Having now dealt with some of the principal wapiti heads
known to me as the legitimate trophies secured by English or
foreign sportsmen, I will mention a few interesting specimens,
either bought or picked up, of which I have record. One of
the most remarkable  I  know is Sir Edmund  Loder's immensely The Wapiti and his Antlers.
wide head (see illustration), which he bought many years ago in
Colorado. When I first saw it hanging on the walls—unfortunately
rather high up—in the very interesting and complete museum at
Leonardslee, I had to take two good looks before I realised the
extraordinary outside spread of this head, which is no less than 6iin.
Being also very massive, though not of great length, its weight
(42lb.) approaches that of my heaviest pair of antlers, which I
believe could claim to be the record weight, i.e., 481b. This head,
owing to house-moving and absence, Sir Edmund could not
exhibit at the Trophy Show in 1887. The American Trophy Show
of 1887, at Earl's-court, contained also heads acquired by purchase
or gift.
The head which was pronounced to be the most beautifully
shaped wapiti at this exhibition was shown by Mr. W. A. Tulloch,
who obtained this grand twenty-pointer from a professional
hunter (Dick Binningham) in Montana. It was killed in 1883,
the year in which was perpetrated such wanton slaughter in
the " Bad Lands " of Montana. The " pearling" and shape of this
pair of antlers were as near perfection as any I have ever seen.
A British collection, containing the best show of wapiti antlers
acquired by purchase, is Lord Powerscourt's well-known Sammlung
at Powerscourt, his beautiful country seat near Dublin. It contains
some very remarkable wapiti heads, one, the longest in England,
being 64^ inches in length, and another 55 inches in width (outside),
as well as some very fine Continental red deer antlers. To-day
this collection is without question the best one of its kind in this
country, where, as a matter of fact, antler collecting has hitherto
been strangely neglected. Lord Powerscourt has travelled much
on the Continent, and few men know the unrivalled Austrian and
German collections, on the lines of which he has shaped his own,
better than he does. Some of the rare ancient trophies of the
chase mounted on curious carved heads could not be bought to-day
at any price.
An interesting pair of wapiti antlers, which Caton pronounced to
be the longest pair known to him, is in possession of Messrs. Parker 6o
Sport and Life.
Brothers, the well-known American gunmakers in Meriden, Conn.,
U.S.A. They were found in the quicksand in the Saline River,
Kansas, with only the points visible, the remainder being totally
Fine  20-point  Wapiti   Heap  Exhibited  by  Mr. A. L. Tulloch.
Shot 1883, in Montana, by Dick Binningham.
submerged in the sand. It is probable that the animal attempted
to cross the river and was lost in the quicksand, for the entire
skeleton was found embedded. They are (see illustration) a very
perfect pair of antlers, of the following dimensions: Length, 59m. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
and 6oin. ; width, 5of in. ; fourteen points. Caton, in his excellent
work " The Deer of America," remarks (page 216) that this head is
the largest head he knew, "5ft. being the extreme length of which I
have authentic account." The distinguished American naturalist
and Director of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the late
Professor Spencer Baird, states, in a letter now before me, that
they exceed in length " by a few inches " those in the National
Wapiti Antlers dug out of Quicksands  in the
Saline River (Kansas).
Museum at Washington, which is the National Natural History
Collection of the United States. I» the last chat I enjoyed with
this distinguished naturalist a short time before his sudden death,
we were discussing the size of the pre-historic wapiti. A passage
in a letter from him referring to this subject runs : " We have a
broken part of a shed horn, embracing burr, portion of shaft
(beam), base of brow antler, and a portion of second brow antler 62
Sport and Life.
(bay) ; of the last I5fin. remain, the girth at the point of fracture
being 5fin.     The length of  the brow antler must have been at
Some  of the  Author's  Trophies   in  Schloss  Matzen, Tyrol.
(In foregroundjabnormal Wapiti Antlers.)
least 2ft. 3in.; measured from the burr. These dimensions indicate
proportions much in excess of anything we have at the present
•day." The Wapiti and his Antlers.
A very long, but somewhat slim, pair of wapiti antlers hangs in
Messrs. Schoverling and Daly's gun shop in New York.    I have
Remarkably long-tined Wapiti Antlers,
Picked up in Wyoming, and belonging to General Hankeyl
not been able to  obtain any authoritative measurement   of  this
head.     They are reported to be 64m. in length.
Two  rather  remarkable  abnormal  wapiti  heads,   with   broad m
Sport and Life.
shovels of unusual size, can be seen in the picture of the corridor
where I have a number of my trophies hanging. Both heads I
picked up years ago, not very far from the spot where I got my
biggest heads, viz., on the western slopes of the Big Windriver
Mountains, of which favourite region I am glad to be able to
reproduce a good photograph. In this locality I saw more and finer
wapiti than I have anywhere else.
Not all that one reads about largest wapiti heads on
record can be believed. Thus last year the Field contained
a detailed notice, copied, I believe, from an American paper,
of such a gigantic Colorado trophy, " the largest pair of
elk-horns in the world," which the Emperor of Germany
was about to receive as a present. Measuring " 12ft. from
tip of beam to tip of beam across the skull," it gave other
astonishing dimensions. Being interested in the matter I wrote,
some five months afterwards, to the person named as the donor,
and also to the Emperor of Germany's chief private secretary, with
the view of finding out what truth there was in the notice. The
former left my letter unanswered, the latter replied that nothing
was "known to the Emperor of such antlers.
Sometimes, strange to say, men who consider themselves
good judges are taken in by made-up antlers. A case in point
occurred, as it is perhaps hardly necessary to remind the reader,
some thirty-six years ago, when the late Mr. Frank Buckland
was deceived by a " record " red deer head from Transylvania,
which Lord Powerscourt had a short time previously bought
through a friend in Vienna, without having himself seen the
head. These antlers continued to figure in the "Encyclopaedia
Britannica" and in Rowland Ward's " Horn Measurements" as
the largest red deer antlers in the world. Their recorded weight
of 741b. was so manifestly impossible that I was led to examine
into the matter, with the result that soon afterwards I was enabled
to publish a letter from the owner in which he freely acknowledged
the spuriousness of his trophy (Field, Jan. 26, 1895).
I little thought at the time that I should have to lift the curtain The Wapiti and his Antlers.
in a similar manner on two other occasions in respect to the
"largest wapiti head on record."
According to the second edition of Rowland Ward's " Records
of Big Game," a head belonging to Major-Gen. Sir Wm.
Crossman was the largest on record, the antlers measuring 73m.
and 69m. respectively. I was anxious to verify these astonishing
dimensions, and wrote to the owner in Northumberland about it,
asking him to allow me to publish an illustration of the head. He
very kindly at once sent me a photograph of the trophy, with the
permission to do anything I liked with it. He also gave me the
following account of how he came into possession of the antlers :
P I happened, in the year 1881, to be in Portland, Oregon, U.S.,
and strolled one day into the hall of a fire brigade station in which
a number of very fine heads were fixed on the walls. This one
particularly struck me from its size and symmetry, and the
peculiarity of the antlers crossing at the tips. The owner
refused to sell any at first, but after some talk and bargaining
I got possession of it and sent it here, where it has been ever
The first glance at the photograph sent me, removed from
my mind all doubt about this head being the identical one
which I had examined a short time before the General's visit
to Portland, and which ' I found was built up of two pairs of
antlers. The head was hanging at the time, also, in a fire
brigade hall, and at first the people refused to take it down.
Being acquainted with some of the "leading citizens" of Portland,
I managed at last to examine it. It revealed what I had suspected
from the first, namely, that it was built up of two pairs of
wapiti antlers, the upper length being cleverly joined on above
the fourth tine, the seam being covered with cement or plaster-
of-Paris stained in close imitation of the dark reddish brown
tint which, we know, is a peculiarity of Pacific coast wapiti
On receiving this photograph, which instantly recalled the
incident to my mind, I at once communicated my suspicions to the
F  The Wapiti and his Antlers.
proof of the skill employed in the manufacture of these spurious
In the recently published third edition of Rowland Ward's
"Records of Big Game," the faked-up Oregon head is omitted,
and in its place, as the largest wapiti head on record, we find a
head belonging to Sheard, the Tacoma taxidermist, and which,
it is stated, measures 70m. in length, 68in. in outside width,
and I4^in. in circumference. No such head, I am convinced, is in
existence, the compiler of " Records " having probably copied
into his pages the largest dimension of each of three wapiti heads,
and endowed one head with these three record dimensions. That
this is the case is proved, it would seem to me, by a letter published
in the New York magazine Recreation, and signed by Sheard, in
which he distinctly speaks of three heads. The passage in question
runs : " I will show you a pair of elk horns that are perfectly even,
which spread 68in. between the extreme outside edge of the main
beams. I will also show a photograph of a pair of elk horns the
left beam of which is 70m. long, the right beam 68çin. long, spread
62m. I will show you a photograph of a pair of elk horns that are
145m. in circumference around the burr, spread 58m." As this
letter appeared in a well-known New York periodical, American
sportsmen and naturalists probably know all about these three
heads, and it would be interesting to learn their opinion about
* I take this opportunity to add the following further explanation concerning
this matter. On observing in the third edition of " Records " the mistake into
which I consider its compiler had fallen, I wrote at once to Sheard, in order to
make quite sure, asking him to send me a photograph of the long (70m.) head,
he having previously sent me a photograph of the widest (68in. trophy). His
reply, under date of June 10, 189 r runs as follows : ,rl have no photo of the elk
head 70m. length and 62m. spread ; the plate got broke, and this head is sold.
But I believe I sent you a photo of the elk head that spread 68in ; if not, I will."
The photograph he sent me is the one here reproduced. On receiving this
letter I mentioned in a letter to the Field the fact that Rowland Ward had
endowed his record wapiti head with dimensions that I thought it did not
possess. This letter appeared in the issue of Sept. 9, 1899. In the following
week's Field (Sept. 16, 1899) there appeared an editorial note stating, in
F  2 68
Sport and Life.
One word more and I have done with this, record head. It is
to express regret that Sheard, the owner of this wonderfully wide
68in. trophy, did not leave the antlers unmounted. It would have
allayed any possible suspicion of the spread being artificially
obtained, and, besides, would have permitted the weight to be
ascertained at all times. I do not think that it is too much to say
that natural history lays upon all persons claiming to be the owners
of record specimens the moral obligation to facilitate as much as
possible a verification of their claim.
In the eyes of the connoisseur of antlers the wapiti head—and
be it the finest ever bagged—lacks one important point of merit,
one which distinguishes the European red deer, and endows a fine
head of that species with a beauty all its own. It is that wapiti
antlers never form a " crown " or cup-shaped cluster of tines on
top, but invariably bifurcate to the very end. I am convinced that
there is no regular crowned wapiti head in existence; the one
depicted by Caton, and which he says is the only one he has ever
met with, has the crown only on the right side.
The student of the older literature on America is struck by the
scarcity of written and pictorial records relating to the wapiti,
considering that this deer was plentifully represented in the Atlantic
States. With one single exception, none of the early travellers who
published their accounts in the latter half of the sixteenth and the
I i  :   i
reference to my criticism, "that on the authority of Mr. Sheard (the owner
of the specimens), who supplied Mr. Rowland Ward with the particulars
he gives in his ' Records of Big Game,' the measurements and locality as
published are correct." In the face of the evidence which I have adduced in
the above, I am inclined to think that the editorial correction is based upon
a mistake, and that the cable inquiry which I am informed was made by
Rowland Ward simply proved a fact which was never in dispute, viz., that the
dimensions he gives are correct, the fact that they belong to two or three
trophies and not to one having probably escaped the necessarily brief cable
inquiry. That one and the same wapiti head should be by far the longest,
by far the widest, and by far the thickest in the beam of which we have any
record, is, so far as my experience goes, so extraordinary a combination as to
be next to impossible, and this view, I may add, is shared by all those versed in
antler lore with whom I have conversed about it. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
first half of the seventeenth century, and which in many instances
De Bry^s diligent graver adorned with copious illustrations, contain
a picture of this deer. The exception I allude to occurs in
Laudonnière's narrative, illustrated by Le Moyne, a French artist,
who accompanied the former in his expedition to Florida in 1564.
It is (see illustration) a picture representing the Indians' method of
Stalking Wapiti  in the Sixteenth   Century.
(From Laudonnière's Narrative of his Expedition to Florida, a.d. 1564.)
stalking wapiti, for which purpose they threw deer skins over their
bodies so as to enable them to approach their quarry* The artist
who drew the picture had evidently not realised the peculiarity of
wapiti antlers never forming a crown on top, and probably copied
a handy pair of red deer antlers.
* Messrs. Osgood and Co., of  Boston, republished in 1875, in  a small
edition, this highly interesting narrative. Sport and Life.
It is rather curious that such a close observer as Caton, having
at his disposal the material and the best of opportunities to
ascertain the live weight of adult wapiti, has failed to give ùs a
single weight excepting in the case of a three-year-old stag after a
journey of four days on steamboats and railways. This animal he
appears to have actually weighed (6501b.), while of older specimens
in his own park he invariably only speaks of " estimated " figures
(up to iooolb. or noolb.). It is all the more gratifying, therefore,
to be able to state that it was left to an English sportsman-
naturalist, Sir Edmund G. Loder, Bart., to ascertain in an accurate
manner the clean weight as well as the measurements of a fairly
large wapiti stag.
He furnished me with ihe following particulars concerning the
argest wapiti he killed in Western Montana.* From root of tail
to tip of nose, io8in. ; tail, with hair, 7^in. Girth, at brisket, 6ft.
Circumference of neck, 54m. Weight, without entrails or liver,
lungs and heart, 7521b., but as he was killed on October 4, the fat
was all gone. Weight of liver, lungs, and heart, 401b. It is
therefore certain that the beast as he entered the rut must have
jscaled over 9001b., and most probably close upon iooolb., a weight
••which some of my largest stags must have exceeded by many
pounds, for according to my notes several taped as much as
..7ft. 2in. girth at brisket. I should therefore not be the least
surprised to hear that a really big stag was found to exceed
iioolb. live weight as he entered the rut. Considering that
to-day stags  exceeding 53st.,  or  7461b.   (avdp.)   dead weight  are
* This stag was killed in the Flathead country, where the forests are a good
deal denser than in Wyoming and Eastern Montana, so that it was not a typical
wapiti country, but, as Sir E. Loder's trip was undertaken with the special
object of getting Rocky Mountain "goat," following for this purpose a route I
suggested to him, it was impossible to combine in one expedition visits to any
of the few remaining really good wapiti countries, where he probably would
have killed some larger wapiti. Mr. E. N. Buxton's expedition in 1884 to the
Windriver Mountains, in Wyoming, for which I also supplied him with
particulars of route, &c, was, so far as wapiti were concerned, more
successful. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
reported to exist in Europe, a noolb. wapiti would be far less
To the connoisseur in antlers the Pacific Coast districts of
Oregon and Washington present less inducements than those of
the interior, say Western Wyoming, and Eastern Idaho, which may
be considered to be the best places for really fine antlers. Of
course, as these are more or less timberless highlands, where game
is far more easily seen and pursued than in the dense coast forest,
the remaining bands of wapiti will be killed off in a very few years,
and certainly the next generation of sportsmen will be relegated to
the less attractive coast regions, where a rainy climate and dense
timber not only make sport far less enjoyable and much harder
work, but renders the bagging of good heads if not impossible, at
least more a matter of chance.
One of the regions deserving the attention of sportsmen are the
Olympic Mountains, in the north-west corner of Washington.
They are a rugged mass of irregular and steep ridges, some of
which attain a height of over 7000ft., rushing streams and small
lakes occupying the forest-clad depressions. Fortunately for the
sportsman, no paying mines have so far been discovered in the
Olympic Mountains; and another circumstance favouring him is
the fact that the Government has caused several trails to be opened
by which means some fair hunting-grounds can be reached. It is,
of course, no longer an untrodden wilderness, but, at the same time,
the roughing that has to be undergone to obtain good sport,
though perhaps of a mild sort, will be sufficient to give zest to the
* I am alluding to a big Caucasian stag, of which Prince Demidoff has published an interesting account in the " Encyclopaedia of Sport," Vol. I., p. 308.
He tells me that this stag as he dropped must have weighed even more, for in
order to weigh the carcass it had to be cut into pieces and carried down, and the
weight thus ascertained (53st.4lb.) made no allowance for loss of blood. It seems
almost incredible that red deer of this weight should exist in Europe to-day.
f For further details I think the visitor could not do better than inquire
of Mr. W. F. Sheard, 910, A-street, Tacoma (Wash.), who, though I can only
speak from hearsay, as I do not know him personally, seems willing to assist
sportsmen visitors so far as he can. 72
Sport and Life.
The Biological Society of Washington has lately proposed
to mark this difference between wapiti inhabiting the Rocky
Mountains and those frequenting the Pacific Coast districts by
calling the latter Cervus roosevelti, or Roosevelt's Wapiti, a distinction with which I entirely agree. The following is the
description given by Mr. C. Hart Merriam, of the Smithsonian
Museum :
General characters : Size, large ; head and legs, black (probably only
in winter pelage) ; skull and antlers, massive ; beams of antlers relatively
short and straight, with terminal prong aborted.
Cranial characters : The skull of Cervus roosevelti, compared with that
of Cervus canadensis from the Rocky Mountains, is much larger, broader,
and more massive. The frontals are not only conspicuously broader but
are very much flatter, giving the cranium a different profile. The muzzle
also is much broader. The cavities in front of the orbits, on the other
hand, are decidedly smaller.
The antlers are large, heavy, and relatively short, with the terminal
prongs aborted, so that the total length from burr to tip is about 500mm.
(about 2oin.) less than in well-formed antlers of the Rocky Mountain elk.
The brow, bez, trez, and fourth tine are similar to those of the ordinary
wapiti, but above the fourth the antler is flattened and sub-palmate, and
ends in two or three sharp points, the tips of which reach only slightly
above the tip of the fourth prong.
Geographic distribution : Roosevelt's wapiti inhabits the dense
coniferous forests of the humid Pacific coast strip, from near the northern
end of Vancouver Island southward through the coast ranges of
Washington and Oregon to north-western California.
It will be seen that this description does not refer to another
very characteristic difference, namely, the more rufous colour of the
coast district antlers and their smoother appearance. Rarely does
one see finely pearled antlers, for in consequence, I suppose, of
the density of the timber they appear much more " rubbed," i.e., less
pearled. To me, if I may express an opinion, they lack some
points of beauty possessed by most of the trophies obtained in the
Rockies proper.
Concerning the present distribution of the wapiti, a few remarks
may be offered in correction of the misleading statements made by The Wapiti and his Antlers.
Ward in the second edition of his "Records," in which he says that
the wapiti is to be found in the Alleghany regions of Pennsylvania,
Virginia, North Wisconsin (?), Minnesota, &c. It seems hardly
credible that in a text book of this sort, written A.D. 1896, there
should appear such an incorrect statement as that wapiti still inhabit
the Alleghany Mountains of Pennsylvania, or the Virginia hills,
where they became extinct in the first quarter of the present
Caton, the best authority possible, states that in the woods of
North Illinois, a region many hundreds of miles further west, and
one which became settled up a century or two later than Virginia,
the last wapiti was seen in 1820, or thereabouts.
From Wisconsin and Minnesota the wapiti has, I am informed,
also long disappeared.
A few remarks concerning an historical landmark made of
wapiti antlers may not be out of place. Prince Wied, in most
respects a painstaking and observant investigator of early days, has
left us, in his interesting account of his travels in what is now
Dacota and Montana, a somewhat brief account of the famous
Elkhorn Pyramid on the Prairie à la Corne de Cerf. It was one
of the early historical landmarks on the banks of the Missouri when
fur-traders and trappers were the only whites who visited the trans-
Missourian West. Composed, so he says, of certainly more than
1000 pairs of wapiti antlers, the pyramid was about 18ft. high and
15ft. in diameter when he saw it in 1832. His account of its origin
varies triflingly from other contemporary reports, according to
which it was the result of a certain famous fall hunt by a Sioux
hunting party, armed, it must be remembered, not with flintlocks,
but with the less effective bow and arrow. According to Prince
Wied, the antlers were contributed by different hunting parties at
different times as offerings to ensure " good medicin " on future
occasions. He also remarks that the strength of the party making
the offering was marked in red strokes on the antlers. Long after
it had disappeared many a camp-fireside legend busied itself with
this curious pyramid, increasing its altitude, it is needless to say, to 74
Sport and Life.
treble   its   real   height, and  making of  the   1000 pair  of   antlers
10,000 ! *
As probably the majority of these trophies or sacred offerings
were picked heads, the finest of their kind, it is regrettable that
this traveller did not take the trouble to ascertain the dimensions
of the largest, for it would have thrown light upon a vexed question,
i.e., whether wapiti antlers have experienced the same deterioration
within the last fifty or 100 years, which, for instance, is noticeable
when we compare trophies of European red deer, say, of the
seventeenth century with those obtainable to-day. To judge
by the measurements of the finest head obtained by his party—a
twenty pointer with a length of antlers of 4ft. iin. in a straight line,
and a weight of 261b. —such deterioration has not occurred, for
many better heads have been obtained in our days. Another
fact would seem to corroborate this assumption, namely, that
among the old heads dug out of bogs and quicksands there
are, as already mentioned, few of superior proportions to those of
Another matter of interest in connection with wapiti heads is
the following. That the normal number of tines on wapiti heads
is twelve, and that fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, and twenty-point
heads are very much rarer than among red deer, is a well known
fact. Among the many thousands of wapiti antlers I have
seen there were not half a dozen of more than eighteen tines,
and among the 400 or 500 stags I have killed myself or had a
share in killing, almost all of which were picked animals, 1
there were only two heads of eighteen and not one of more
* The Scientific American tells us that at Mammoth Hot Springs, in the
Yellowstone Park, there is a fence made of wapiti horns. It encloses the greater
part of the grounds of photographer F. Jay Haynes' studio. The fence is
■composed of over 303 selected " elk " horns. All of them have twelve points, andl
a great many have fourteen points. They were shed in March, 1895, and were
gathered in June of the same year by Mr. Haynes and three of his men, within
a radius of ten miles of Mammoth Hot Springs, and within four days' time.
There were about 2500 wapiti in the park then. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
Curious, therefore, is the result of a very interesting
experiment of turning out wapiti in an Alpine district in
Europe. I am referring to Count Arco's attempt to domesticate
the wapiti in the mountains of Berchtesgaden, near Salzburg, made
in 1856. After losing some of the imported stock there were left
two stags and two does. When he finally, in 1861, abandoned the
experiment,   and  sold  his  herd   of  four   American-born   wapiti,
Wapiti   in  Winter.
together with their offspring, consisting of four stags and six hinds,
to Prince Pless, in whose vast Silesian deer park—the largest in
Europe—their progeny- are still to be seen, the following details
concerning the antlers of the American-born stags were noted.
The one stag when sold was ten years old, his last antlers when
shed weighed almost 301b. avdp., and had eighteen points ; the
other stag was nine years old, his last antlers had twenty-two
points, those of the previous year twenty points, and those of the !i
Sport and Life.
year before that twenty-four points !* To what must these quite
unusual instances of extreme bifurcation be ascribed ? If to the
artificial feeding during the major part of winter and early spring—
for those seasons are extremely trying ones in the elevated and
inhospitable regions where this experiment was carried out—it
would be an unanswerable argument in favour of the writer's
theory that artificial food influences the growth of antlers more
than anything else, a hypothesis which a certain school of Scotch
theorists combat as not in accordance with their theory that heads
are inherited.f
" Setting back "—that is, putting on a less number of points on
the new antlers than the animal carried the preceding year,
and which often occurs with the red deer of Europe—seems to
occur also with wapiti, though the circumstance that by far the
largest number of old wapiti bulls carry only twelve points is
apparently a strong confirmation of the theory that nature in
the wapiti's case limits the growth to that number, a limitation
known also in the case of other deer. Western hunters frequently
assert that the reason one so rarely finds more than twelve-tined
heads is caused by the fact that all the older wapiti bulls, who
would have more points, get killed by the young ones, or rather by
the twelve-pointers, who at that period are in their prime. My
own experience, and that of others who have been among wapiti
during and after " whistling time," does not confirm this theory,
though, in view of the characteristic of wounded deer always
seeking the densest covert, one must not jump at too hasty
conclusions in this respect.
* In counting the points the German fashion, which obtained also in England
in old days, of doubling the number of tines on the antler having the most
points, was followed.    The antlers are preserved in the Arco Palace in Munich.
f I am glad to be able to say that a friendly peace has now been established
between my most formidable opponent, Mr. Allan Gordon Cameron, and
myself, for, as he was good enough to write to me, when asking me for some
special information anent a work he is preparing on the distribution and
affinity of the stag group, he has seen reason to modify his views upon the
points concerning which we were most at variance. The Wapiti and his Antlers.
Another circumstance that I noticed, and one that my previous
and subsequent experience with wapiti during the rutting season
confirms, was that the master stags were by no means distinguished
by the largest antlers, but appeared, with a few exceptions, to be
the largest in body.
To watch wapiti fighting—a sight that in the old days
frequently stirred the heart of the sportsman who had the patience
and skill to get close up to the scene of battle—was to witness
grand exhibitions of endurance and prowess. Not quite so quick
in their movements as the European red deer, they would yet rush
at each other with the same angry impetuosity, and one could often
hear the sound of clashing antlers for some distance off, and be
guided by it to the spot where the battle royal was proceeding ; the
hinds, graceful but coy representatives of their sex, calmly looking
on, nibbling at the grass, and, while permitting forbidden attentions
from the younger stags, taking apparently but slight interest in the
issues of the mortal combat.
So far, however, as my experience goes, only a minority of
these engagements terminated fatally—at least, on the spot. The
majority of fights between old bulls that I have had occasion to
watch ended in consequence of the exhausted state of the
combatants, who finally would drop on their knees, and, with
antlers apparently inextricably interlocked, thrust and push till
their last particle of strength was exhausted, and their panting
breath issued from their open mouths like so much steam.
One more than ordinarily striking battle I once watched in a
then nameless range of mountains in Western Wyoming, on one of
those bright moonlight October nights one would like so much to
live over again. The air was keen with frost, while a thin vapoury
mist veiled the depressions in the broken surface of the country.
Distant " whistling " of wapiti lured me from our snug camp fire
soon after an ample supper had satisfied an appetite made
ravenous by a long day after some distant bighorn. With my pipe
and old Express, I strolled forth into the still bright night. The
wind came straight from the direction of the band, now hardly more ill
Sport and Life.
than half a mile off, but separated from the " sink " where we were
camped by a belt of forest, through which a slow-flowing stream
meandered. It was the home' of generations of heaver, who had
dammed up the stream in numerous places, thereby forming large
pools. At the head of each was to be seen a patch of beaver-meadow,
with smooth green sward. As I entered the forest I found it alive with
wapiti, moving about in the semi-darkness in spectre-like silence,
while now and again a broad moonbeam, stealing its way through
some break in the bower of branches overhead, would cast its light
upon a doe or young stag startled by signs of my close presence,
standing with pricked ears, peering into the darkness that hid
all but the dimmest outlines of my form from their ken. Slowly
and cautiously I pursued my walk. My moccasined footfall
disturbed but few of the deer, and I soon reached the brink of a
smooth, glade-like beaver-meadow, rather larger than the rest, and
now bathed in the mellow, silvery light of one of the brightest full
moons I have ever seen. Every blade of the velvety sward
appeared to sparkle, and the surface seemed as smooth and level as
a billiard table. There were only a few wapiti on the meadow, but
they were all bulls, and " whistling " away as if it were the first,
and not the third or fourth, week of the mating time. This
whistling is always a singularly weird, inimitable sound, and one
that can only be likened to the quair.t and yet melodious strains of
an ^Eolian harp ; the stillness of the night, too, as well as the other
surroundings, added to its peculiarity.
Off and on, while making my way through the forest, I had
heard the clashing of antlers ; but it was mere play in comparison
to what I was presently to see. On reaching the glade, I had
seated myself on a fallen log, overlooking the tranquil scene, and
there, hidden by the deep shadow of some overhanging trees, I was
effectually screened from observation by the wapiti peopling the
meadow. I had not been seated for more than five minutes, when
suddenly the whistling on the glade stopped, and the half-dozen
stags who were just then close together in the centre, dashed off
in different directions, as if a bomb had fallen in their midst ; and
illt'l ill
11 rl
1 ; The Wapiti and his Antlers.
probably they had good reason for doing so, for the stately old
wapiti bull who, with majestic gait, stepped out from the deep
shadow into the flood of silvery light, was no doubt a match for any
two of the young striplings who had disported themselves on the
glade. Slowly he stalked toward the middle of the meadow,
occasionally whistling, but more frequently stretching out his
distended neck and lowering and raising his head, as if testing the
supple strength of his shoulder muscles, in all the consciousness of
his unvanquished strength. He was not further than seventy-five
yards from me, and in the bright light I fancied I almost could see
the eye of the noble beast, or count the branching tines, as he
swayed his many-pointed antlers to and fro. One by one, with
furtive tread, the young fry returned to the glade ; and presently a
couple of young ones, more venturesome and impudent than the
rest, actually made a boldly planned but feebly executed dash
towards the master stag, for before they got within reach of his
massive horns, five feet long, they swerved to one side and began
butting each other with considerable vigour. Not long, however,
did this by-play last, for presently another great wapiti, moving at
a fast trot, came out of the forest, and put the young combatants
to much the same sudden rout as the first master stag had done
when he appeared on the scene. The latter, however, stood his
ground, and for a minute or so the two faced each other, all but
their heads motionless. The last comer did not appear alone on
what was soon to prove a hard-fought battlefield, for four or five
hinds had followed him out of the forest. With gingerly step,
raised heads, and pricked ears, they came out into the open.
Probably they had been alarmed by some sign of my presence,,
and were now on the qui vive, while their lord—quite oblivious
to other danger—had. centred his attention upon his rival. How
the two stags approached each other, as well as the actual commencement of hostilities I was prevented from seeing, for the wary
hinds, making a circle, as if to spy out whether the coast was
really clear, had placed themselves between the two stags and my
hiding-place. So
Sport and Life.
Soon the clashing of antlers and angry snort of the combatants
told its tale, and, as I knew from former experience that stags while
they are fighting are quite oblivious to what occurs around them, I
stepped out into the light, and gave a low shout, which sent the
non-combatants in double quick time back into the forest.
Probably I might have walked close up to the stags without
interrupting the tussle ; but 1 was afraid that one or the other, or
both, might turn against me, as I knew our European red deer do
during the rutting season, and an Express is but a poor weapon
at night time. So I kept at a respectful distance, some twenty or
thirty yards from cover, and from there I watched the fight for quite
half an hour. For several minutes at a time the antlers appeared
inextricably locked together, and as one of the stags seemed the
stronger, though not the more agile of the two, superior weight
would in those moments enable the heavier animal to fling his
adversary from side to side, without, however, being able to free
his own horns wherewith to do grievous injury to his foe. Before
long one was on his knees, pressed down apparently by main force ;
then the other, staggering back, would for a brief moment halt
before rushing with deadly intent at his adversary ; but by the time
he had regained his breath, and was ready for the onslaught, the
foe was on his legs again, and antler crashed against antler with a
force that seemed irresistible. The heavier of the two stags
appeared to be well aware of the one advantage his superiority in
weight gave him, for the tactics just described were