temporary close his political career.
This period, so full of work for the public, had
not been without great personal joy and sorrow
for Mr. Roosevelt. In 1881 he married Miss
Alice Lee, of Boston. In 1883 she died, leav-
ing one daughter.
The scene of Mr. Roosevelt's activity now
shifted from Albany and New York to the great
In the early half of the nineteenth century
the plains extending from Mexico to Canada
and from the Rocky Mountains to the wheat
and corn States along the Mississippi, had given
pasturage to great herds of buffalo.
But the buffalo had disappeared before the
hunter, and as the land was good for grazing
28 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
and seemed of little value for anything else,
the whole region was being converted into large
Mr. Roosevelt had travelled in the West and
had seen something of ranch life. Its freedom
and adventure suited him. Its very hardships
attracted him, for they were of the sort to try a
man's endurance, and skill, and courage.
He had all his life advocated a man's stand-
ing on his own merit and receiving only the
reward he deserved. He had done this himself,
in college and in politics as much as possible.
But the thought of going to a country where
his family, his college education, and his social
and political influence would count for nothing,
where he must succeed wholly by virtue of his
own strength, ability, and spirit, was bracing to
He was eager to prove his arm as strong, his
eye as true, his nerve as steady, as another's.
Besides, he wanted to learn how much of rugged
manliness there was in him to endure with
fidelity and good cheer the toil, exposure, and
privations of ranch life: how much of the Daniel
Boone quality of staunchness he possessed.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 29
Yet he had no idea of living in an unneces-
sarily primitive manner, or of giving up more
than necessary of the comforts, and pleasure of
an educated man.
His ranch was as well equipped and up to
date as possible. It extended along both sides
of the Little Missouri River, near the village of
The ranch home was built in a glade thickly
grown with cottonwood trees and underbrush.
So wild was the place that deer sometimes
came down to the river to drink, and wolves
and cougars visited the cattle-pens at night.
The nearest human habitation was ten miles
The house was called " Elkhorn," because on
the spot where it stood had been found two
great pairs of elk horns closely interlocked, tell-
ing the tale of a deadly struggle between two
of the native monarchs of the wilderness. It
was a long, low building, made of clean-hewn
logs and roofed with shingles.
Not far from the house were the sod-roofed
sheds and stables, the cattle-pens, the horse cor-
ral, and the kitchen garden. If the house was
30 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
closed for a month or two and there was no
man to keep the vegetation and the animals in
check, they soon made themselves masters of
the place. Grasses, weeds, and bushes sur-
rounded the log buildings and flourished on
the sod roof.
Deer made themselves at home in the glade;
Jack-rabbits, ferrets, and other small creatures
burrowed their way into the house and built
themselves nests in curious places â€” one chose
the oven for its home. The wilderness claimed
the place once more.
Everything was, however, kept clean and in
good repair while the house was occupied.
Here the new ranchman practised the cow-
boy's peculiar accomplishments, throwing the
"rope," as the lasso is called by the northern
cattlemen, and breaking broncos with a deter-
mination that strained shoulders and even
broken bones could not shake.
He enjoyed the excitement of conquering a
rebellious horse, of keeping his seat while the
animal reared and pitched and plunged under
him in vain efforts to throw him.
The watching cow hands, who had been
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 3 1
trained from boyhood to the work, were ready
enough to laugh at any mishap that befell an
But this one bore laughter and jokes with
good humor and usually managed to keep his
patience and his saddle.
Certainly he won the admiration of the cow-
boys by his pluck and good temper, and their
banter was meant and taken in good part.
When his cowboy comrade remarked in an
audible tone aside, as Mr. Roosevelt mounted
for the first time a vicious horse, " The boss
ain't no bronco buster," he intended more to
amuse the "boys" than the listening stranger.
The cowboy accomplishments were not easily
acquired, and practice in them sometimes made
the chief work of the ranchman's day
But ordinarily he was up at dawn, winter and
summer, and in the saddle immediately after a
Often he went off on a hunting expedition
to keep up the necessary supply of meat. But
for the most part his days were spent "quirt"
in hand, on the back of a firey little mustang
careering over the plains.
32 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
Now he rode simply to tame the wildness
of a long unused horse. Again, he went in
search of a lost bronco. Sometimes he made
a tour of the ranch to see how the cattle were
faring" and how the men were doing- their work.
Or he rode merely to make himself more famil-
iar with the country where his cattle grazed, a
country of buttes, coulees, and canyons.
The monotony of such a trip was apt to be
varied by an encounter with a charging steer ;
the discovery of an unbranded yearling, or the
rescue, by means of ropes, of a cow helplessly
stranded in a mud hole or in some pool of
Though such employments were exhilarating
to the newcomer, they were humdrum to those
familiar with the excitement of a " round-up."
On the western cattle ranches, where there
are no fences to separate one range from
another, the cattle belonging to neighboring
ranchmen sometimes herd together. In order
that a man may know his own cattle he has
them branded with a certain sign or mark.
Wherever he finds an animal with his mark
upon it he may claim it. If an unbranded
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 33
animal is found among his cattle, it is branded
with his mark. Every spring there is a great
round-up, when the cattle belonging to differ-
ent owners are separated and the calves
This is the most stirring time in the ranch-
man's year, and though it necessitates hard,
dangerous work, is looked forward to with
eagerness by the cowboys. Mr. Roosevelt
took an active part in the round-up, sharing
with the cowboys its hardships and risks.
Late in May he started with a dozen or more
" cow-punchers " for the appointed meeting-
place of the cattle men of that district.
They took with them a four-horse wagon
loaded with food and bedding, in charge of
the indispensable cook and teamster, and a
large saddle band. Every man must have
eight or ten horses for the days of hard riding
After their winter's rest, " Dynamite Jimmy,"
"Fall Back," " Bulberry Johnny," "Wire
Fence," "Water Skip," and all the rest of
the broncos were wild and almost unmanage-
34 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
There was a great tossing of manes and
kicking of heels as sorrel, pinto, roan, and bay
clattered along over the plain.
Roosevelt, with flapping sombrero, flannel
hunting shirt, bright neck-cloth, and leather
leggings, with a "quirt" in gloved hand and
a revolver at belt, mounted on his wiry little
horse in a gigantic stock saddle with dangling
lasso, looked like any cowboy.
Perhaps the jackets bundled under the
"slickers" or rain-coats behind the saddles
of the other riders did not all contain so com-
plete a washing outfit and change of under-
wear, but that distinction, though significant,
was not noticeable.
When the company reached the camp agreed
upon for the meeting-place of the riders from
the various ranches in the neighborhood, there
was little to do but lounge in the shade, tell
stories, and break horses, until all had assem-
bled. Then the foreman of the round-up gave
his orders, and work began without delay.
As early as three o'clock in the morning the
cook's harsh summons roused the men from
their sleep on the ground.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 35
Then, in the dim gray of dawn, there was a
lively pulling on of boots, a tying of blankets
into bundles, followed by a rush for the camp fire,
where each man helped himself to black coffee,
biscuit, beans, and fried pork, and ate what he
could before the foreman's call, " Come, boys,
catch your horses !" sounded.
The first work of the day was to drive the
cattle in from the surrounding country. The
district was parceled out to bands made up of
a dozen riders each, under the direction of a
division foreman. The members of a band
rode together until they reached the section
allotted to them.
Then the foreman sent out two riders, one
to the right, one to the left, to find and drive
in all the cattle within certain limits. The
rest of the company rode on until they had
come to the boundary of the section to be
" cleaned up " by the first riders ; here two
more were sent out.
This continued until every rider had the
field for his morning's work assigned him.
In open, level country it was easy to find the
cattle, but on irregular ground like the Bad
36 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
Lands along the Little Missouri long and hard
riding was necessary.
These reckless rides before the sun was up,
over green field, up butte, and clown coulee,
gave Mr. Roosevelt keen pleasure. His pulses
bounded as his daring, sure-footed horse cleared
a chasm or went plunging and sliding down
some slippery ravine.
When he saw a herd of cattle grazing in
a coulee he took the shortest route toward
them, shouting " ei-koh-h-h !" and started them
running down the valley to the main stream,
where they would be met by other riders and
headed toward the camp. Then he would
ride on without pausing until he felt certain
that there were no more cattle in his terri-
Often, on coming into camp, he found as
manv as two thousand cattle herded there.
The eight hours of hard riding were only the
beginning of the day's work. After a hur-
ried dinner he mounted a fresh horse for the
Most of the cowboys, on tough, spirited
broncos, were stationed at intervals about the
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 37
herd to round it up and keep any member from
Then two or three trained men, mounted
on good "cutting" ponies, rode into the herd
to "cut" or drive out the cows and calves or
any unbranded animal. Each animal that was
to be removed had to be driven slowly through
the herd in such a way as not to excite the
When it reached the edge of the herd, wild
riding was needed to keep other cattle from
leavine the herd with the animal "cut out,"
and to keep it from rejoining the herd.
The cattle separated from the main herd
were formed into a new herd; the calves
were roped and branded; and when this
work was done, the herds were turned loose
and started in the direction opposite to the
one in which the cowboys were to continue
The spring round-up lasted about six weeks.
When it was over, the time had come for the
first round-up of beeves for market. This
was conducted in much the same way. But
now the four-year-old beeves instead of the
38 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
cows and the calves were "cut out" of the
After the beef round-up the long, monoto-
nous trail work of driving the herds to the
nearest shipping point began. Progress had
to be very slow in order that the cattle might
reach the market in good condition.
In the day-time they were driven in long lines.
At night the cattle were bedded down by two
cowboys who rode round and round the herd,
driving the cattle into as small a circle as pos-
sible, and continued to ride until the animals
had lain down.
The night was divided into watches, and two
men at a time guarded the herd. They did
this by riding round it in opposite directions,
trusting their horses to find their way in the
dark or to give them warning if any animal
started to leave the herd.
If the cattle were restless, the cowboys shouted
and sang, as the sound of human voices seemed
to soothe the wild creatures.
Sometimes, in spite of all they could do to
pacify them, the animals would take fright at
the cry of a beast of prey or the rolling of
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 39
thunder. The whole herd would be on its feet
in an instant.
The mass of flashing hides and horns and
staring eyes would plunge forward. Then the
cowboys rode like mad, now with, now athwart,
the herd, guiding, checking, and at length con-
trolling the terrified cattle.
Mr. Roosevelt took his part in the round-up
and in the trail work, mounted night guard in
the rain, and rounded up stampeded herds.
Later in the summer, however, there were
times when cattle work was light, and even that
energetic man was glad to keep away from the
alkali plains where the gray sage bush and the
gray earth baked in the August sun.
On those days there was no place quite so
inviting as the broad, shady veranda of the
ranch house. There he sat in one of the big,
comfortable rocking-chairs, content for a little
while to be idle and do nothing but look off
under the boughs of the stately, white-barked
sycamores, across the river to the green bottom-
lands and the brown bluffs rising in the distance.
During the winter the cattle were left to range
at will, so long as they did not " drift" too near
40 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
the land of the Indians. To prevent this, camps
were established at intervals along the danger-
line, where riders kept guard to drive back the
cattle if they ventured too near.
It was also the duty of these men to drive
in and care for the weak or disabled animals
after a blizzard and to see where the herds
After serving his turn at a line camp and rid-
ine through cruel, numbing cold that found its
way through wolf-skin coat and buck-skin shirt,
Mr. Roosevelt experienced a sense of real joy
when he came in sight of the smoking chimneys
of Elkhorn and saw the firelight flash through
the windows red on the snowy bushes.
Thoughts of the roaring logs in the wide fire-
place, of the table laden with smoking platters
of broiled venison and roast chicken, tureens
of steaming potatoes and tomatoes, bowls of
milk and wild-plum jelly, and plates piled with
flaky bread made by the foreman's wife were
doubly pleasant because of the days passed in
the cheerless, dug-out line camp.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 4 1
"THE WILDERNESS HUNTER/*
While Mr. Roosevelt lived on his ranch he
did a great deal of hunting. Besides hunting
for sport, he made it his business to keep the
ranch table supplied with game.
Most of the large beasts of prey had been
driven from the neighborhood before he came
to live there, and he shot no grizzlies later than
1884. But after a day's hunt on the plains he
usually came home with two or three antelope,
and the hills nearby were full of deer.
Mr. Roosevelt was too true a hunter, how-
ever, to be satisfied with game that was near
and plentiful. Difficulty and danger added
greatly to the zest of the sport. Often he went
on a long hunt alone or with some old hunter
for a companion.
When spending several weeks in the moun-
tains, he was glad to have two or three good
hunters with him, a band of horses to carry the
trophies and the camp equipment, and a cook
and packer to do the camp work.
On almost any fine fall morning, when the
42 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
ground was still crisp with frost and the sun
was only beginning to redden the east, he
might be seen riding off on his favorite hunt-
ing horse, " Manitou," with perhaps a deer
hound or two at his heels.
On these trips he wore a buck-skin hunting
tunic and leggings and a broad-brimmed hat
of the same neutral hue, that he might be as
inconspicuous as possible.
He carried with him compass, field-glasses,
matches, salt, and a strip of smoked venison,
for he knew what it was to be lost in the wil-
derness. Usually he could depend upon his
faithful Winchester for meat, however.
He let his horse bound along at a lively
pace, but he was not in so great a hurry that
he could not enjoy his ride. He was con-
scious of the strong, swift motion of the horse,
of the freshness and coolness of the air, the
rising sun, the long shadows, the wheeling of
the Clark's Crows and the Wisky Jacks, and
the notes of the late song-birds. All this
made a good beginning for a day of keen de-
When he neared the place where he hoped
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 43
to find game he tethered his horse, and, in
moccasined feet, went clambering up some
deer trail swiftly and silently, keeping a sharp
lookout all the while for signs of game.
Footprints, the beds of the deer, and freshly
nibbled twigs gave him encouragement while
he climbed the steep trail through the w 7 oods.
Occasionally coming out on some high cliff,
he searched the landscape with his field-
When at length he caught sight of a deer,
his eagerness increased and he commenced a
cautious approach. After an hour's breathless
climbing and crawling he might come within
gunshot of the game, only to see it take fright
and go bounding safely off before he could
Then the whole process had to be repeated,
â€” the search for signs, the following of the
sign, the cautious, laborious " stalk," â€” but at
last came the moment of triumph, when the
lordly buck with splendid antlers stood not
one hundred yards away, and he knew, as he
took steady aim, that the game was his.
Mr. Roosevelt is a good shot. He is proud
44 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
of his record in shooting running antelope and
in hitting at long range, but he declares that
his success in hunting is due more largely to
" dogged perseverance and patient persist-
ence" than to skill.
Perhaps the hard work and persistence were
necessary to make him appreciate to the full
the satisfaction of bringing down the game.
Certainly, though he enjoyed as much as
any man coming into camp with three hardly
earned elk tongues hanging at his belt, he
took no pleasure in shooting deer swimming
in water or floundering in snow.
He saw little sport in fire-hunting or in
hunting the w 7 hite-tail deer with hounds. He
liked to still-hunt the black-tail deer anions the
wooded hills ; to follow the antelope over the
green prairies in spring and early summer; to
seek the sure-footed mountain goat among
snowy crags ; to track in snow r -shoes the broad-
hoofed caribou, and to surprise the moose in
its watery haunts.
But none of these pleasures excelled that
of elk hunting in the mountain parks of the
Rockies. Often he pitched his camp by some
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 45
mountain lake or rushing stream, and from
there hunted the heights for elk.
It was good, after a day's hunt, to come into
a comfortable camp at night, to sit down to a
feast of " roasted elk venison, trout, and flap-
jacks with maple syrup," then to lounge about
the fire of pitchy stumps telling the experi-
ences of the day or recounting former hunting
It was pleasant to lie at night in a warm,
deer-skin sleeping bag, breathing the keen air,
and hearing, above the roar of the green moun-
tain torrent, the high, bugle-like call of the elk.
But to these men the best part of all was the
day's work, the stealthy following of that ring-
ing call until within gunshot of the princely
buck with his tow T ering antlers.
These wild scenes made the hunter think, by
contrast, of his far-away home. He talked to
his Indian guide about his children, and was
pleased with the stories the red man told in re-
turn about his little papooses. When hunting
on his son's birthday, Mr. Roosevelt marked
the antlers of the first elk he shot, to be sent
to the little fellow for his very own.
46 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
A little risk or danger is perhaps a more at-
tractive element in a hunt than difficulty, and
Mr. Roosevelt has made special expeditions to
hunt grizzly bears, cougars, and other beasts of
If a grizzly is wounded and charges, it fre-
quently makes an ugly foe. But sometimes a
big grizzly bear gives a good hunter no more
trouble than a rabbit. Mr. Roosevelt tells how,
on one occasion, after following the track of a
bear through the dense forest by the bent and
broken twigs, and by the scratches on the
trees where the bear had clawed the bark,
he came upon a huge grizzly in its bed in
The bear, disturbed by the hunter's approach,
suddenly rose on its haunches, but finding itself
at bay, crouched on all fours with the hair brist-
ling up along its neck.
Before Bruin could spring, Mr. Roosevelt's
steady hand and sure aim had sent a bullet
between his eyes and into his brain, and the
beast fell on his side dead. Not twenty sec-
onds had elapsed from the time of sighting the
bear until the monster lay dead.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 47
At another time Mr. Roosevelt's first shot
pierced the lower end of a great big bears
heart, but the creature turned, blowing blood
and foam from his mouth, and with a hoarse
roar came bounding and crashing through the
bushes toward the hunter.
The latter got another fair aim as the bear
leaped over the trunk of a fallen tree. The
bullet struck fair, but the huge creature came
plunging on, blind with rage and pain.
There was not a moment to lose â€” another
shot, a hasty spring to one side, and Mr. Roose-
velt saw through the smoke the clumsy brute
carried past him by the rush of the charge di-
rected at him. Before the thwarted animal
could turn, another bullet brought him down.
For a man with less nerve than Mr. Roosevelt
possessed the experience would have been a
On a hunting expedition made later Mr.
Roosevelt shot fourteen mountain lions. He
learned much about the habits and haunts of
these animals, so that the expedition counted
for more than pelts.
Even in the wilderness Mr. Roosevelt pre-
48 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
served his sense of responsibility for the public
good. One October, when he was out with a
small party for the purpose of hunting ante-
lope, the hunt was interrupted by a prairie-fire.
The camp was easily and quickly moved to a
place of safety.
Then the party fell to work to put out the
fire. The wind was so strong that they made
but little headway against it, and when night
came it was still burning, looking, he said, like
a " great red snake writhing sideways across
the prairie." But now the wind had gone
down, and they took up the work with fresh
courage and zeal.
After the fashion of cowboys fighting a prai-
rie-fire, they shot a steer, chopped it in half
lengthwise, and tied ropes to its legs ; then two
of the men mounted their horses, and each
taking a rope, rode to the fire line. One
spurred his horse across the narrow, but
fiercely hot, path of flame, then turning, they
rode parallel with it, dragging their heavy,
moist burden over the fire and smothering
The other men followed them, beating out
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 49
with raincoats or blankets the flames that had
not been extinguished by the riders. The ride
over rough, unfamiliar ground, in the heat and
smoke of the prairie-fire, with the steer's car-
cass, now catching on something and pulling
the ropes taut, now bouncing at the very heels
of the frightened horses, was unpleasant and
Men and horses were both well worn out
when a ravine was reached, beyond which the
fire divided in many lines that wriggled away
through the blackness like endless fire-serpents.
So the workers had not the satisfaction of put-
ting out entirely the fire, but they had saved
thousands of acres of precious pasturage for
In this free out-of-door life the best of fel-
lowship existed. Mr. Roosevelt could appre-
ciate a good story, a good hunter, a good man,
even when polish was wanting. He took more
pleasure in finding the good and manly quali-
ties in the weather-beaten men of mountain
and plain than in criticizing their manners.
He respected them for what they were and
made them feel it. Though he was not ready
50 THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
to find fault with the men he lived among, he
had no idea of living on the same intellectual
level with them. His ranch house was well
furnished with books, and he spent much of
his time there reading and writing. When on
a long excursion of any sort, he usually had a
good book in his pocket.
He tells how once, when in mid-winter, he