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A Trek Out West - Part 10

[Otto Franc] Wednesday Sept 18 - Not finding any Elk or deer but too many signs of Indians we conclude to go back to the Rattlesnake Mountains. Break camp early ride 9 miles cross bad Water & reach our old camp at the Wind River on the edge of the badlands. During the march we see 3 Elk in the timber on Wind River, I get within 75 yards of them & put a bullet into the largest of them, he was standing at the edge of some thick willow brush into which he jumped without giving me a chance to give him a second one we look for him but do not find him, had I been armed with a heavier rifle he would not have got away so easy. My Winchester is all out of order & I have repeatedly pulled 3 times before it would go off, to add to this misfortune in going along the river where the rocks approach the water quite close one of the pack horses refused to go around a point of rocks where there was only a narrow space between the water I hit him with breaking the stock in two; I tied pieces together with a fishing line, but I had to handle it very carefully after that. During today's march, we passed through grass 5-7 feet high.

[Dr. Ferber] 18th. We started pretty early, and after a tiresome tramp of about 25 miles or more, we arrived at our old camping ground on Wind River. In the evening we saw lightning in the east, a bad sign for the next day; and so it was.

[Otto Franc] Thursday Sept 19 - It is raining & we cannot break camp, we are quite anxious to begin our march through the badlands & reach the Rattle Snake Mountains but we prefer to wait a day here rather than to get all our things wet. Dr. tries fishing in the river but without success.

[Dr. Ferber] 19th. It rained all day, and we could not move on—a nasty day.

[Otto Franc] Friday Sept 20 - It rained all night but clears up in the morning, break camp & enter the badlands. We follow our own track soon see the trail of several small parties of Indians & finally come (on) one which must have consisted of several hundred; we can see where a small party has separated from the main body & followed our trail for several miles; we afterward heard they were a war party of 2-300 Bannock going to camp Brown to fight, had we fallen in their hands we would not have fared very well; after traveling 20 miles & having passed several alkali springs the water of all which we tasted to see if any were fit for drinking we come to a small spring of good water & camp, there is no brush or wood for a fire, we gather Buffalo chips & in doing so I find a deserted Indian camp & some lodgepoles, so we have enough fuel for supper & breakfast; Buffalo chips give very good heat but it requires some wood to get them started.

[Dr. Ferber] 20th. A cloudy morning; doubtful about rain; still we started back through the Bad Lands, hoping to make it in four days. A 20-miles ride brought us to an old Indian encampment, where we found good water. The night was cold and we found ice half an inch thick in the morning

[Otto Franc] Saturday Sept 21 - The weather is clear & warm We still follow our old trail & after going 15 miles we camp at one of our old camps; during, the march I wound an Antelope but do not get him; the only pool of water at the camp is occupied by a flock of Ducks, the Dr. kills 7 of them with his shotgun before they retreat.

[Dr. Ferber] 21st, Was a very hot day; rode only 16 miles, and camped a second time near the duck pond. In the evening I shot seven gray ducks, which were very tender and nice.

[Otto Franc] Sunday Sept 22 - Cloudy cold blowing a gale Break camp early, make 25 miles, walk part of the way to keep us warm, see large herds of Buffalo over 1000, camp 15 miles from rattlesnake mountains, during the march I kill an Antelope.

[Dr. Ferber] 22nd. Cloudy morning, sharp wind, at noon rising to a gale. At three p.m. we camped at a little creek.

[Otto Franc] Monday Sept 23 - Clear cold blowing hard. Leave the badlands to enter the Rattle Snake mountains camp at our old camp where we had stowed away some provisions; a bear has been there in the meantime & created sad havoc among them, we had some cans of fruit & condensed milk & L tied up in a bag & hung up in a tree, he had pulled it down tore the bag open & examined the contents of the cans, the cans of milk must have suited his tastes best as he had perforated (it) with his teeth & sucked out the contents, also the juice of the canned fruit he appropriated in a similar manner, several pair of horns which were hung up in another tree he had also pulled down but without doing any further harm; a package of cartridges done up in a buckskin bag he had carried off about 25 yards & then dropped it without tearing open the bag. We are now most nearly safe from Indians & we al1 go out hunting. I kill a Prairie Wolf soon after leaving camp, then go into the mountains where I see a splendid blacktai1 Buck & 2 does, I attempt to crawl up on them but they get my wind & make off before I can get within shooting distance, in running off they start a band of sheep & they come towards me, they come quite close to me but as there is no ram among them I do not fire carry home my wolf Dr. has killed an Elk. Our flour & coffee is getting short, we have bread only once a day & have to take the coffee very weak.

[Dr. Ferber] 23d. Cold, icy morning, with sunshine; wind blowing up to a gale again. In the afternoon we found ourselves in the old camp of Rattlesnake Mountains. When we left this camp we put several of our canned fruits, condensed milk, and other provisions in a bag and hung it pretty high up in a tree; we did the same with some antelope, elk, and deer horns; but now we found all the things spread on the ground; the bag was torn to pieces, the fruit cans, milk cans and the cans with coffee extracts were all perforated and all almost empty. Uncle grizzly had paid a visit to our camp and sucked the sweet juice. This time we made our camp up a little nearer to the spring. After dinner, everyone on his own hook went out hunting. I killed a very large elk buck that had the largest pair of antlers of all we shot on the trip. Lancken supplied our camp with a fat saddle of a young mule deer, while Frank came in with fur, a coyote around his neck, and covered with lots of little jumpers belonging to the pulex family.

[Otto Franc] Tuesday Sept 24 - cloudy chilly blowing a gale. Kill an enormous Antelope Buck close to camp, then go into the mountains to look for sheep; do 5 hours of hard climbing but see some ewes & rams but cannot approach them, get back to camp very tired & spend the afternoon in taking the hide off the wolf & stretching it out to dry. Dr. & Jack come home empty, they have seen a grizzly & 2 cubs but could not get a shot at them.

[Dr. Ferber] 24th. Windy but not cold. Our grub is going to an end, and meals nearly reduced to meat, very little bread, thin coffee without milk. In the same condition was the quantity of our tobacco. Today Fred killed an antelope. I saw different kinds of game, one of which was an old she-bear with two cubs, but did not get a chance to shoot.

[This story will conclude, following the summer trek of Texas Jack, Otto Franc, and Dr. Ferber in Part 11.]

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