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less prairie, than with the sight of its surface, which was in many places incrusted with an impure salt, seemingly a combination of the sulphate and muriate of soda : there were also seen a number of little pools, of only a few inches in depth, scattered over the plain, the water of which was so bitter and pungent, that it seemed to penetrate into the tongue, and almost to take the skin from the mouth. Next morning the party were alarmed with the appearance of two men on horseback, hovering on their path at a great distance. On looking at them with a telescope, they were discovered to be Indians, and on their approach it was found they belonged to a large band of the Grand Pawnee tribe, who were on a war excursion, and encamped at about thirty miles' distance. Having got rid of these suspicious visitors, the party moved rapidly forward in an altered direction, and did not slacken their pace till twelve o'clock at night. After a brief rest, they again went on, traveling steadily the whole day, and so got quite clear of the Grand Pawnees.
The travelers were now proceeding across one of the large central prairies of North America, and were, as they reckoned, within three days' journey of the buffalo region; that is, the region haunted by herds of buffalo. The uninitiated of the party, who for a good many days
past had been listening to the spirit-stirring
The day following, the party saw several small
herds of buffalo on their side of the river. Two of the hunters started out after a huge bull that had separated himself from his companions, and gave him chase on fleet horses. Away went the buffalo, and away went the men, as hard as they could dash; now the hunters gained upon him, and pressed him hard; again the enormous creature had the advantage, plunging with all his might, his terrific horns often plowing up the earth as he spurned it under him. Sometimes he would double, and rush so near the horses as almost to gore them with his horns, and in an instant would be off in a tangent, and throw his pursuers from the track. At length the poor animal came to bay, and made some unequivocal demonstrations of combat, raising and tossing his head furiously, and tearing up the ground with his feet. At this moment a shot was fired. The victim trembled like an aspen leaf, and fell on his knees, but recovering himself in an instant, started again as fast as before. Again the determined hunters dashed after him, but the poor bull was nearly exhausted: he proceeded but a short distance, and stopped again. The hunters approached, rode slowly by him, and shot two balls through his body with the most perfect coolness and precision. During the race
the whole of which occurred in full view of the party—the men seemed wild with
the excitement which it occasioned; and when the animal fell, a shout rent the air which startled the antelopes by dozens from the bluffs, and sent the wolves howling from their lairs.
This is the most common mode of killing the buffalo, and is practiced very generally by the traveling hunters: many are also destroyed by approaching them on foot, when, if the bushes are sufficiently dense, or the grass high enough to afford concealment, the hunter, by keeping carefully to leeward of his game, may sometimes approach so near as almost to touch the animal. If on a plain without grass or bushes, it is necessary to be very circumspect; to approach so slowly as not to excite alarm, and when observed by the animal, to imitate dexterously the clumsy motions of a young bear, or assume the sneaking, prowling attitude of a wolf, in order to lull suspicion. The Indians resort to another stratagem; which is perhaps
more successful. The skin of a calf is properly dressed, with the head and legs left attached to it. The Indian envelops himself in this, and with his short bow and a brace of arrows ambles off into the
midst of a herd. When he has selected such animal as suits his fancy, he comes close along side of it, and, without noise, passes an arrow through its heart. One arrow is always sufficient, and it is gener
ally delivered with such force, that at least half the shaft appears through the opposite side. The creature totters, and is about to fall, when the Indian glides around, and draws the arrow from the wound lest it should be broken. A single Indian is said to kill a great number of buffaloes in this
alarm is communicated to the herd.
Toward evening, on ascending a hill, the party were suddenly greeted by a sight which seemed to astonish even the oldest
them. The whole plain, as far as the eye could discern, was covered by one enormous mass of buffalo. The scene, at the very least computation, would certainly extend ten miles, and in the whole of this great space, including about eight miles in width from the bluffs to the riverbank, there was apparently no vista in the incalculable multitude. It was truly a sight that would have excited even the dullest mind to enthusiasm. The party rode up to within a few hundred yards of the edge of the herd before any alarm was communicated; then the bulls, which are always stationed around as sentinels, began pawing the ground and throwing the earth over their heads; in a few moments they started in a slow, clumsy canter, but as the hunters neared them they quickened their pace to an astonishingly-rapid gallop, and in a few