A Trek Out West - Part 5
Continued from A Trek Out West - Part 4.
[Dr. Ferber] 14th.—Our stomachs having been well filled with elk tongue, breaded elk steaks, trout, flapjacks, and coffee, we packed up. On the road, we fired at great distances at buck-antelopes but did not do them any harm. At 2:30 pm., after about fifteen miles ride, we got in camp, took dinner and then went shooting. Frank and Tip killed a black-tailed buck each. Frank's buck was a young one and furnished us with very tender meat. I was not lucky enough to get a shot at or even to see a deer but started in a thicket a grizzly, who, grunting, ran away without letting me have a sight of him, which was, perhaps, all the better for me.
[Otto Franc] Wednesday Aug 14 - Break camp, ride 7 hours & stop at the head of Sage Creek; after eating we go out to get some fresh meat; as I enter a canyon I see a black tail Buck but too far off to shoot, he sees me also & disappears in some timber, I walk around to the other end of the canyon & sit down expecting the Deer to come out of the thicket soon, I change places several times 8. as the Deer does not come out I finally determine to drive him out if possible; after walking 4-500 yards in very thick brush I come out in the open & see the Deer over 150 yards off & looking at me, I fire 3 times quickly in succession, he runs about 20 yards & falls down dead to my greatest joy as this is my first deer; it is a 2 year old Buck in splendid condition; I return to camp get an axe & bag & butcher the animal in fine style, securing the horns, brains, loins, liver, heart & kidneys; when I return to camp I find somewhat of an excitement the Dr. had been close to a large Bear & Tip & Jack had seen fresh tracks; we will give him a hunt to morrow.
[Dr. Ferber] 15th—Breakfast 6:30. Bill of fare, kidneys, and heart of deer stewed; brain of deer fried; deer liver saute; breaded elk-steaks, flapjacks, coffee. Having gone through this we went for the game again. Tip and I saw several black-tailed bucks, but could not get a shot at them, out going home I killed by mistake a young antelope, which I thought to be a buck. The same evening Jack killed one.
[Otto Franc] Thursday Aug 15 - Jack & I had a long & tiresome hunt after Bear but had to return to camp without having seen one; Dr. & Tip were out for Antelope but came home empty.
[Dr. Ferber] 16th—At 8 we broke up and made a quick and long ride of about twenty miles to Beckman's hay ranch, this place being only fifteen miles from Rawlins. Frank and I, after an hour's rest, concluded to ride the same day to town. We left Beckman's at 4:30 and made these fifteen miles in two hours. We put our horses into the stable, got our letters, and then went to Fred Wolfe's saloon, who refreshed us with delicious, cool Cheyenne lager. After that, we directed our steps to the hotel, took supper, and slept the sleep of the just.
[Otto Franc] Friday Aug 16 - We break camp 8. travel 20 miles without anything of interest occurring, we halt at Beckmans Ranch to cook Dinner; we are now 15 miles from Rawlins; after Dinner the Dr. & I set out for Rawlins leaving Tip, Jack & the pack train to pass the night at the ranch,; we reach Rawlins in 2 hours & call immediately on our friend F. Wolff who is delighted to see us; "Beer" is the only utterance we make & for 10 minutes we keep him busy running between a keg of Lager & ourselves. Thus ends our first trip; we have passed through the finest & wildest country I have ever seen abounding with fish & game; we might have killed wagon loads of the latter, but we only hunted when we needed meat; the custom here is to cut only the choicest parts of an animal, so that a good deal of hunting is necessary to supply 4 stomachs; although the game is so very plentiful it is just as wild & wary as any where & hunting is by no means an easy task, it involves great labor & hardship, climbing mountains & crawling through almost impenetrable timber, this latter being the favorite place of the Deer; a hunter may be surrounded by hundreds of Antelope staring at him at 1000 yds distance but to get within shooting distance of a large old buck requires such an amount of wriggling through sage brush & occassional1y over a patch of prickly pears that when he finally kills one he feels as if he richly deserved his game; the very clear atmosphere is quite apt to mislead one as to distance; I have often fired at antelope thinking them to be no more than 150 yds. off & when measuring the distance, it turned out to be 800-1000 yds. I think there is more powder burnt uselessly in hunting Antelope than in any other kind of hunting I know of. In all our party killed during the entire trip: 100# Trout 4 Elk 7 Antelope 4 Deer quite a number of sage hens & different kinds of Grouse; I contributed more than my share towards the Larder as the following list of my individual game bag will show:
Quantity of Trout: unknown 2 Elk 2 Antelope 1 Deer About 1/2 half of the sage hens & Grouse.
[Dr. Ferber] 17th—At noon Jack and Tip came in with the train.
[Dr. Ferber] On next Tuesday, 20th, we start for the second trip north to the Sweetwater and Bighorn Mountains. Very likely we will not have much fishing on this trip. They all say that every stream that runs into North Platte has no trout, while all the streams that run west contain trout in great number. My opinion is that the water of these streams, containing great quantities of lime and alkali (carbonate of soda), are not natural for trout; so I found some streams running into Green River, as one branch of Savery and others, had no trout or any other kind of fish, caused by containing too much lime. Anyhow, I will take my rods with me and try every stream. If parties should like to come out here they can be supplied with all the outfit at Mr. James France's store, with horses by Mr. T. Rankins or W. Gordon. For guides, I should advise or direct them to Fred Wolf, who gave us very valuable information and knows all the guides around here. It is not necessary at all to engage guides beforehand. Had we known this before, we would have saved several hundred dollars.
Fred Wolf, as mentioned above, keeps a house of entertainment, where you can be made comfortable. So much for this time. We will soon have some notes on our next trip.
[Otto Franc] Monday Aug 19 - We prepare for our second trip which will occupy 6 weeks or more; we take in 100# of flour 50# of Bacon, a quantity of canned fruit & coffee & c & bundle everything up in order to get an early start in the morning we also hire a team to take our outfit to Lanckins ranch 75 miles north of the U.P.R.R. & miles beyond S.W.R. the road to that place takes us the greater part through an Alkali dessert without any game & we want to get through the same as quick as possible & reserve our pack horses till after that period when we expect to get into mountainous country. The team consists of a mule & a balky horse Tip asks for a vacation of 2 days he is a detective for the U.P.R.R. & the Co. wants him to follow the trail & if possible to locate a party of train robbers that has committed depredations along the line near Rawlins for some time, he will overtake us at Lanckins ranch; I loan him my Sharp Rifle as I shall have no use for the same until after we start from the ranch until then my light Winchester Rifle is serviceable enough for any antelope or Deer that we might meet.
[Dr. Ferber] ON the 18th, 19th, and 20th of August we were fully engaged in buying fresh provisions, some new bedding, as some of it was burned on the day of the eclipse. On the evening of the 18th, our second guide, Tip, asked our permission to stay away for two or three days. The U.P.R.R. Co., in whose service he was before, engaged him and another to pursue train robbers that had tried the night before to wreck the train by undermining the rails. Tip was well armed with a six-shooter and Frank's Sharps rifle. He was a very courageous man and had no fear of being killed. We should never see him again. After our return from our second trip, we learned that he and his companion were found dead with four and eight bullets, respectively, and stripped of rifles and clothes. We waited over three days for Tip, but as he did not come then we concluded to start for Lanckens ranch, about seventy-five miles north of Rawlins, on the Sweetwater creek. We had two of our ponies exchanged, one being lame and the other having a sore back: this time we had them all shoed. and putting our whole outfit on a wagon we started on the 20th, at about noon. We did not make more than sixteen miles and put camp up at Bell Springs. Toward evening we had thunder and lightning, and a very heavy rainstorm. The rain was driven right through the tent, making the bedclothing very damp.
[Otto Franc] Tuesday Aug 20 - After the usual vexing delays so common before a first start we finally get away at 11 a/m & without any notable incident driving the empty Pack horses behind the wagon & Dr. Jack & myself following on horseback we reach Bills Springs 16 miles from Rawlins where we have to camp as there is no more drinkable water to be found for the next 20 miles. During the night we get a heavy shower which is quite one-sided as it floods the Doctors side of the tent & leaves me dry.
[This story will continue, following the summer trek of Texas Jack, Otto Franc, and Dr. Ferber in Part 6.]