« ForrigeFortsæt »
Formwood or sage. Mr. Townsend had an opportunity, in these melancholy wastes, of becoming acquainted with a variety of animals, particularly birds. He met with flocks of a beautiful bird, called the cock of the plaintetrao urophasianus—which was so very tame, or rather so little accustomed to evil treatment, as to mingle familiarly with the cavalcade, and to suffer itself to be knocked down by whips.
On the 10th of July, the party encamped near the Blackfeet river, a small, sluggish, staynant stream, which empties itself into the Bear river. Here they had a rather stirring adventure with a grizzly bear. “As we approached our encampment,” says Mr. Townsend, "near a small grove of willows on the margin of the river, a tremendous grizzly bear rushed out. upon us.
Our horses ran wildly in every direction, snorting with terror, and became nearly unmanageable. Several balls were instantly fired into him, but they only seemed to increase his fury. After spending a moment in rending each wound-their invariable practice-he selected the person who happened to be nearest, and darted after him; but before he proceeded far, he was sure to be stopped again by a ball from another quarter.
way driven about among us for perhaps fifteen minutes, at times so near some of the horses, that
he received several severe kicks from them One of the pack-horses was fairly fastened upor. by the fearful claws of the brute, and in the terrified animal's efforts to escape the dreaded gripe, the pack and saddle were broken to pieces and disengaged. One of our mules also lent him a kick in the head while pursuing it up an adjacent hill, which sent him rolling to the bottom. Here he was finally brought to a stand. The poor animal was so completely surrounded by enemies that he became bewildered; he raised himself upon his hind-feet, standing almost erect, his mouth partly open, and from his protruding tongue the blood fell fast in drops. While in this position he received about six more balls, each of which made him reel. At last, as in complete desperation, he dashed into the water and swam several yards with astonishing strength and agility, the guns cracking at him constantly. But he was not to proceed far; for just then Richardson, who had been absent, rode up, and fixing his deadly aim upon him, fired a ball into the back of his head, which killed him instantly. The strength of four men was required to drag the ferocious brute from the water, and upon examining his body, he was found completely riddled; there did not appear to be four inches of his shaggy person, from the hips upward, that had not re
ceived a ball; there must have been at least thirty shots fired at him, and probably few missed; yet such was his tenacity of life, that I have no doubt that he would have succeeded in crossing the river but for the last shot in the brain. He would probably weigh at the least six hundred pounds, and was about the hight of an ordinary steer. The spread of the foot laterally was ten inches, and the claws measured seven inches in length. This animal was remarkably lean: when in good condition he would doubtless much exceed in weight the estimate I have given. Richardson and two other hunters in company killed two in the course of the afternoon, and saw several others.
Although it was known that parties of Blackfeet were hanging in the route of the caravan, our travelers fortunately escaped being attacked by these dreaded Indians; and on the 14th, having reached the banks of the fine large Shoshone or Snake, also called Lewis river, they came to a halt for the purpose of erecting a fort, according to their instructions, and also of enjoying a rest of a fortnight or three weeks before renewing their journey. Nearly four months had now elapsed since they had commenced their expedition, and there were various evidences that they were approaching its close. The Snake river, on the banks of which they
were encamped, pours its waters directly into the Columbia, and as they tried to form some idea of the great Oregon river from the size of its tributary, it became evident that they were approaching the western shore of the vast North American continent.
Food, however, was becoming scarce, the stock of dried buffalo meat being nearly exhausted; and therefore, while the majority of the party should remain to build a fort on the banks of the Snake river, it was resolved that a hunting party of twelve persons should start on the back track to shoot buffalo, and return to the fort in eight or nine days with the fruits of their diligence. To this party Mr. Townsend attached himself. The hunters were successful in procuring buffalo, on which they now entirely fed, besides bringing a quantity in a dried state to the camp. Exposed constantly to the pure air, and having abundant exercise, the appetites of the party were most ravenous. Rising in the morning with the sun, they kindled a fire and roasted their breakfast, which consisted of from one to two pounds of meat. At ten o'clock they lånched on meat; at two they dined on meat; at five they supped on meat; at eight they had a second supper of meat; and during the night, when they awoke, they took a snatch at any meat within reach. Their food was thus en
tirely meat, without bread or any other article except water, which was their sole beverage. On this plain and substantial fare they enjoyed robust health.
Having heard that a ball in the middle of the forehead was never known to kill a buffalo, Mr. Townsend determined to try the experiment. Accordingly one evening, seeing a large bull close at hand, he sallied forth with the utmost caution in the direction of his victim. “The unwieldy brute,” he says, “was quietly and unsuspiciously cropping the herbage, and I had arrived within ten feet of him, when a sudden fiashing of the eye, and an impatient motion, told me that I was observed. He raised his enormous head and looked around him, and so truly terrible and grand did he appear, that I must confess I felt awed, almost frightened, at the task I had undertaken. But I had gone too far to retreat; so, raising my gun, I took deliberate aim at the bushy center of the forehead, and fired. The monster shook his head, pawed up the earth with his hoofs, and making a sudden spring, accompanied by a terrific roar, turned to make his escape. At that instant the ball from the second barrel penetrated his vitals, and he measured his huge length upon the ground. In a few seconds he was dead. Upon examining the head, and cutting away the