A Rocky Mountain Hunt
One day we saw an unusual number of antelope every mile or so. All day they were just out of our gun range, so we decided to stop for a day to wash and hunt.
I went north on Molly, but saw no antelope. But on riding around a patch of leafy brush of some kind that was flat down on the ground and matted together like a woven wire fence, a small clump, not over 25 feet across, about two feet high and with a smooth top, I heard vicious growls and saw a brown head protruding from the center of the patch. I stopped Molly with a sudden pull on the bridle, raised my 32 and gave the varmit one center between the eyes, and down he went out of view.
I jumped to the ground over the top of matted vines and brush with my gun ready, but he was only kicking in his bed, down where I could just reach him by putting my head and shoulders in the opening. I had an awful pull to get him on top of the matted entanglement, but got him drug across to where Molly stood when I dismounted. Not once did my feet break through the top of his den.
How to take this thing to camp was not easy. I first tried to put it behind my saddle, but could not lift it that high. Then I put it on top of the den and brought Molly close up and stood on top of it myself. This gave an extra two feet advantage, and I made it. I tied the thing on good with the long buckskin string that hangs on cowboy saddles, and was off to camp thinking I had a brown bear.
At inspection at camp, they all thought so, too, at first. Then Frank took a foot in his hand and said, "No. Itīs not a bear. Its claws are too long.". Well, we finally agreed, and called it the granddad of all badgers, because none had ever seen one that was half its weight. For me, it was the first. Later I saw dozens of them in Idaho, but all small ones.
Frank got an antelope, and we had plenty of meat for a long time. But I didnīt like it --course, tough, tasteless.
We traveled on from this camp many days without much grief or excitement. We heard much about the danger of "Mountain Fever" from the few people we had seen on the road. So, because Mr. Vineyard was feeling bad, we stopped on a high plateau overlooking the Sweet Water, very early one morning after breaking camp.
The boys and girls proposed going down to the river. It was such a beautiful sight. The sun was bright, and just warm enough, and there was the whole day ahead of us with nothing else to do. But at noon meal time, I had no appetite, and I felt sluggish and tired. When I looked down to that ribbon of water with miniature trees here and there on its bank --trees I knew to be tall ones -- I knew it would be a hard pull back to camp, so I decided not to go with them.
Next morning found me full of misery, but we started out because I insisted on it. Mr.Vineyard insisted that Joe drive me. Soon I was in such misery I just rolled and twisted like a worm in hot ashes, and we halted in a short time, just in sight of a ranch house that was off the main road.
Mr. Vineyard went down there, and came back with an old timer who said he knew about this fever, and that was what I had. Nothing but strong sage brush tea, and lots of it, every hour would break it. So it was only a matter of a few minutes until a pot of sage tea was boiling.
At first I could take it good and lots of it, but when I began to lose my misery, my taster went to work proper, and it was the bitterest concoction I ever tasted.
When the fever broke, I was free of pain, but I was completely helpless for several days. Could not get up and walk. Could just lay in the tent on the bed and watch Allie bring more sage tea. Seemed to me she was always coming with it or going for more.
Once I was able to sit up, I had great ideas about my strength. I saw an antelope, down below the tent, enter some bushes, and it didnīt come out. I told Mr. Vineyard I was going to get my gun and sneak down and get him. "No you are not. Iīll lay holt on you and stop you!". I tried to argue him out of it, but he was firm.
The next day, I felt fine, and when he went out, I decided I would walk out back of the tent. The next thing I knew, he was taking me back in his arms. I had got where I started. That is the only time I have ever fainted. It was so easy and painless, I've thought many times it would be an easy way to die.
I was almost well enough to travel when the boys of Frank Townsend and Mr. Vineyardīs stepson got into a fight and had some harsh words. Mr. Vineyard asked me if I would stay with him if they pulled out. Next morning Townsend and Uncle Nate pulled out and left without saying a word to us. I canīt remember just how long we remained there.
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