George Bird Grinnell.

Hunting at high altitudes: the book of the Boone and Crockett club online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryGeorge Bird GrinnellHunting at high altitudes: the book of the Boone and Crockett club → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Hunting at

High Altitudes

The Book of the

. and Crockett Club





Just Published


Price, $2.50 net, postage additional

Previously Published
Uniform edition. The price of these
four books is $2.50 each, and they will
be sent postpaid.

New York and London



At High Altitudes

tbc BooR of the Boone and Crockett






Copyright, 1913, by
Madison Grant and George Bird Grinnell

Bancroft Ubmiy


Preface 7

Col. Wm. D. Pickett 1 1

Memories of a Bear Hunter

1876 15

Jj| i877 46

1878 80


1879 IQ 6

1880 157

1881 . 186


1882 207

1883 229

By Colonel Wm. D. Pickett.

Notes on Memories of a Bear Hunter . . 242
NQ By George Bird Grinnell.

In the Old Rockies 295

By Daniel M. Barringer.

Ibex Shooting in the Thian Shan Mountains 314
By Geo. L. Harrison, Jr.


A Shooting Trip in Northwestern Rhodesia 344

By Geo. L. Harrison, Jr.

The Condition of Wild Life in Alaska . .367
By Madison Grant.

Deer Hunting in Cuba 393

By General Roger D. Williams.

Elephant Seals of Guadalupe Island . . . 406
By Dr. Charles H. Townsend.

The Game Preservation Committee . . .421

Brief History of the Boone and Crockett Club 433
By the Editor.

Officers of the Boone and Crockett Club . .492
Committees of the Boone and Crockett Club 493
Report of Nominating Committee . . . 494

Report of the Treasurer 499

Constitution Boone and Crockett Club . .500
Rules of the Executive Committee . . . 504
List of Members Boone and Crockett Club . 505

Col. Wm. D. Pickett Frontispiece

Facing page

Fort Benton in 1881 38

Bull Train at Fort Benton 138

Mule Train at Fort Benton 138

Kirghiz Falconers 202

"Battlefield" of September 13, 1883 . . . 238

Khudai Khildi 250

Ivan with Roebuck Heads 266

Crossing a Snow Field 282

Returning from a Day with Ibex .... 298

Thian Shan Wapiti . . . . . . . .314

Crossing a Pass 330

Pack Bull Tekkes River 346


List of Illustrations

Facing Page

Peninsula Bear, Captured at Moeller Bay,

Alaska 366

Adult Male and Female Elephant Seal,

Guadalupe Island 394

Adult Male Elephant Seal, Guadalupe Island 394

South End of Elephant Seal Rookery, Guada-
lupe Island 406

Elephant Seals Nearly Two Years Old in

the New York Aquarium . . . .418


This is the fifth volume of the books of the
Boone and Crockett Club, the last one having been
published in 1904.

The Club is fortunate in having for the volume
the chapters which treat of the hunting adventures
of Colonel Wm. D. Pickett, from 1876 to 1883.
For many years Colonel Pickett was one of the
vice-presidents of the Club, representing Wyoming,
and has had an experience in hunting the grizzly
bear greater probably than that of any man who
ever lived. A keen sportsman, a lover of outdoor
life, and a Southern gentleman, Colonel Pickett
represents the ideals of the Boone and Crockett
Club. He hunted in the Rocky Mountains at a
time when people there were few and game was
abundant. The day of the trapper had passed,
and that of the skin hunter was just beginning.

As indicated by its title, this volume deals
chiefly with hunting in the high mountains. Yet
this hunting does not all lie close to timber line.



Mr. Harrison's narrative dealing with the great
game of Rhodesia, and that of General Roger D.
Williams, about the introduced deer in Cuba, bring
up forms of sport to most of us unknown.

It has been thought well to reprint here the
"Brief History of the Boone and Crockett Club,"
prepared some time ago, and issued separately.

Madison Grant's article on the wild life of
Alaska, written some years ago, has been brought
down to date.

The Club has consistently striven and with
some success to secure the establishment of game
refuges in the different forest reserves. There is
great promise in the State of Arizona, where,
through the efforts of Charles Sheldon and E. W.
Nelson, much popular interest in this subject has
been awakened.

A matter in which the Club may feel a just pride
is the share it had in assisting in the passage of the
bill to place migratory birds under the charge of
the Federal Government a measure which orig-
inated with one of its own members, Hon. George
Shiras, 3d, and which became law in March, 1913.


NEW YORK, July, 1913.

At High Altitudes


Colonel Wm. D. Pickett was born in northern
Alabama, October 2, 1827. His parents, George
B. and Courtney (Heron) Pickett, were natives of
Virginia, and he was the youngest child. When
Wm. Pickett was ten years old, the family moved
to Kentucky, where he was reared and educated.

While engaged as chainman in a party of land
surveyors on the northwestern frontier of Texas,
near the site of the present city of McKinney, in
January, 1847, the call was sounded for volun-
teers for the Mexican War, and he at once enlisted
in Captain Fitzhugh's Company of Bell's Regi-
ment of Texas Mounted Volunteers for twelve
months, from February 2, 1847. Their services
not being needed for Mexico, this company was
assigned to the protection against the incursions of
the Comanche and other hostile tribes, then very
active, of about one hundred miles of the north-
western frontier of Texas. This frontier began at


Col. Wm. D. Pickett

Preston on Red River and ended at a 'point on the
south fork of the Trinity near the present site of
Fort Worth.

After young Pickett' s discharge from the service
he returned to Lexington, Ky., and entered the
profession of civil engineering. Serving under
such distinguished engineers as Sylvester Welch
and Julius W . A dams , he assisted in the survey
and construction of the several systems of rail-
roads of central Kentucky until the spring of 1855,
when he was transferred to the Memphis sf Ohio
R. R., of Tennessee, as principal assistant engineer
to Julius W . Adams, Chief Engineer. After about
one year's service in the survey and location of the
upper end of that road, Mr. Adams resigned, and
W. D. Pickett succeeded him as Chief Engineer,
and as such he finished its construction to Paris,
Tennessee, in the fall of 1859.

He remained in the service of the Company
until the latter part of 1860, and until the clouds of
impending war cast their shadows over the land.

In the conflict which followed, he cast his for-
tunes with his home State, Tennessee, and except
for about six months' service in the State Army,
he served continuously in the Confederate Army
from about April i, 1861, to April 26, 1865,
when he was paroled with the army of General


Hunting at High Altitudes

Joseph E. Johnston, as Colonel, and Assistant In-
spector-General of W . I. Hardee's Corps.

During 1861 he was engaged as an engineer in
the location and construction of water batteries
between Memphis and Columbus, Kentucky. On
January 4, 1862, he was transferred to the staff of
Major General Hardee, with whom he served
until the end came. About this time, certain Con-
federate detached forces were formed, as the Con-
federate <( Army of Tennessee," consisting of two
to three corps of two to four divisions each, ac-
cording to circumstances. General W . I. Hardee
commanded one of these corps, which won dis-
tinguished prominence in all the battles that fol-
lowed: Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Mission-
ary Ridge all the battles of the famous "Dalton
to Atlanta" campaign, including the battles of
"July 20th" and (< July 22d" around Atlanta, and
the two days' fight at Jonesboro, Ga., ending in
the evacuation of Atlanta on September 2, 1863.

In all the battle reports in which this corps were
engaged, W . D. Pickett has honorable mention
from his chief.

In 1867 he was compelled to return to his pro-
fession as civil engineer, and was engaged, by the
owners of the franchise of the Memphis 6f Ohio
R. R., in its reconstruction and rehabilitation after


Col. Wm. D. Pickett

the ravages of war, until the latter part of 1873,
when he resigned to take a needed rest.

After some years of recreation the voice from
the Western wilds so persistently called that about
July 21, 18^6, he found himself on a steamer, at
Bismarck, Dakota, bound for the headwaters of the
great Missouri. He spent some years traveling
and hunting in a country then almost unknown, and
it is the adventures of those years, beginning with
1876 and closing with 1883, that are described in
the following chapters. In 1883 Colonel Pickett,
as will be shown in his story, took up land on the
Grey Bull River, and for a long time held a ranch
there devoted to raising of thoroughbred Hereford

Colonel Pickett twice represented Fremont
County, Wyo., in the State Legislature, and was
State Senator from Big Horn County, in the
organization of which he was prominent. He has
always been a devoted Democrat in politics. Since
the year 1853 he has been a member of the Ameri-
can Society of Civil Engineers, a member of the
American Association of Political and Social
Science and of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. He has lived a long,
honorable and useful life.


On Friday, July 14, 1876, I left Minneapolis,
for Bismarck, Dakota, and the country of the
Upper Missouri, and the next evening reached
Fargo, the crossing of the Red River of the North,
Here I met the Episcopal Bishop of Saskatchewan,
on the way to his bishopric in the Northwest Ter-
ritories. His residence, 600 miles west of Fort
Garry, or Winnipeg, covered a very large district.
The winter before he had traveled two thousand
miles by dog-train, his team consisting of three or
four dogs, which covered about forty miles a day.
He camped where night found him, sleeping on
the snow. His food three times a day was pem-
mican, tea and frying-pan bread.

On Tuesday morning I left for Bismarck, about
two hundred miles distant, reaching there that
night. The plain over which we passed was gen-
erally level, and the country looked bald, gloomy
and grand, without a tree, except on the streams.
In this loneliness and monotony it reminded me of
the grand prairie west of the Cross Timbers of


Hunting at High Altitudes

northwestern Texas. During the day no settle-
ments nor habitations were seen, except an occa-
sional section house for the railroad hands.

Bismarck, however, was full of people, brought
there by the gold excitement in the Blackhills. At
that time there were about five hundred people in
the village, which was on the bluff, about a mile
and a half from the Missouri and four miles from
Fort Abraham Lincoln 1 on the opposite side.

It was less than a month before this that the
Seventh Cavalry, U. S. A., under command of
Lieut.-Col. Geo. A. Custer, had been badly de-
feated on the Little Big Horn River, Montana,
seven of its companies surrounded by Sioux and
Cheyennes, and most of the men killed. 2 A
division of the regiment under Major Reno took
refuge on a hill-top, was joined by Captain Ben-
teen and by the pack-train with ammunition under
Captain MacDougal. A little later General Terry
came up with a large force of men, the Indians
retired, and separating into smaller bands, dis-
appeared. It was supposed they were arranging
to cross the line into Canada. This report caused
steamboat travel on the river to be regarded as
somewhat hazardous. However, on the evening

numbers which follow in the text, refer to the
Chapter of Notes by the Editor.


Memories of a Bear Hunter

of July 2i,I boarded the steamer Western for the
Upper Missouri River, sleeping on board, for, as
the steamboats did not commonly run at night, the
Western was not to start until early next morning. 3
The mosquitoes here were very numerous, vora-
cious and troublesome. However, during the latter
part of the night, the weather turned cool, and this,
with the motion of the boat, which started at
seven, gave some relief.

The immediate bottom of the Missouri here does
not differ greatly from that of the Lower Missouri,
or the Mississippi below Cairo. Just back of the
timbered bluffs, however, the ground rises in high
hills, often abrupt and precipitous. Late in the
afternoon we saw two antelope, and at midnight
came to the site of Old Fort Clark, and there tied
up for the night. At 2 o'clock the next day we
reached Fort Stevenson, 4 a two-company military
post in the bottom between the highlands and the
river. In the evening we reached Fort Berthold, 5
said to have been established by a Frenchman of
that name, where lived the Arikara 6 Indians, who
at this time were occupying lodges made of canvas.
Near the fort was their burial ground, where the
bodies were placed on scaffolds supported by poles,
and from every grave fluttered something which
looked like flags, but which really were offerings


Hunting at High Altitudes

of calico. These Indians are said to be most
friendly to the whites, having long been at peace
with them.

During the night of July 24 the steamboat lay
all night at a woody ard above Berthold. An early
start was made next morning, and about 9 o'clock
a war party of twenty Indians appeared on the
south bank of the river. When they appeared on
the hills in the distance, most of us thought they
were buffalo, but my field glasses soon corrected
this impression. A few of them appeared on the
cliffs above the boat and shouted salutations to us,
waving a flag, but the most of them kept back out
of sight. As they moved toward the river, and
when they appeared riding along the bluff, 300 feet
above the steamboat, it was supposed they intended
to fire into the boat, and there was a scampering
of the passengers from the decks. They were elab-
orately painted and were evidently a war party.

A rumor was current at Berthold that General
Terry had had a battle with the Sioux on the Yel-
lowstone River, and had beaten them.

During the morning we passed the mouth of the
Little Missouri River. Since leaving Bismarck,
the weather had been pleasant. There had been
some cloudy weather, but no rain. The hills
among which we were constantly traveling were


Memories of a Bear Hunter

often completely bare of vegetation. At a wood-
yard where we stopped, we found half a dozen
Gros Ventres Indians, 7 who reported a camp of
Standing Rock Sioux Indians on a hunt only a few
miles away. Many of these Indians were armed
with Springfield needle guns and Spencer rifles.
From time to time they received runners from Sit-
ting Bull, and the report was that Terry was mov-
ing against the Sioux and pressing them.

Here for the first time I saw one of the Indian
bullboats. 8 It was nothing more than a buffalo
hide stretched by willow twigs about an inch in
diameter into the shape of a large, but quite deep,
bowl. At the top it was about four feet across.

Early on the morning of July 25, a few buffalo
were reported in the hills. They were seen by a
number of people, for here the mosquitoes were as
bad as at Bismarck, and all the passengers sat up
and fought mosquitoes all night. During the morn-
ing we passed a band of eighteen lodges of Sioux
Indians, who were crossing to the north side of the
river. They declared that they were very hungry
and seemed anxious to stop the boat. Some of the
passengers thought them hostile, but they made no
offensive demonstration. The men seemed large
and athletic, and were clad in blankets and breech


Hunting at High Altitudes

The woodyard 9 passed to-day was on the de-
fensive, for here an Indian had recently been killed
by one of the choppers. A party of Indians were
seen in the act of creeping up to another wood-
chopper, and just as one of them was about to
shoot at him, one of his fellows shot the Indian.
The others scampered off, and since then have
more than once attempted to kill the keeper of the

About 6 o'clock we reached Fort Buford, 10
where we discharged much freight and live stock
for the Yellowstone Expedition under Gen. Terry.
Buford was an eight company post, pleasantly sit-
uated on the north bank of the river in an extensive
plain, with a range of hills a mile to the rear. The
garrison consisted of about a hundred men.

For a hundred miles above Buford the country
bordering the river is not so broken, and sometimes
broad valleys with a few cottonwood trees and
covered with fine grass, come down toward the
river. In some places it almost resembles a Ken-
tucky bluegrass woodland.

We reached Wolf Point at 7 o'clock that night,
and found here a large band of Sioux Indians.
These were of the northernmost group of the
Sioux, known as the Assiniboine. 11 They had just
returned from a buffalo hunt sixty miles to the


Memories of a Bear Hunter

southwest, where they killed 370 buffalo. Deer
and elk were reported plenty.

My room mate was Major Mitchell, 12 of
Quincy, 111. He was the Indian agent for all the
Crow, Blackfoot, Gros Ventres and Sioux Indians
living between the Missouri River and the British
line, and from Fort Union w'est to the Marias
River. He was a pleasant fellow and seemed to
like me, and when he invited me to stop with him
at Fort Peck and make a hunt for buffalo* I deter-
mined to accept. It was to this agency that Sitting
Bull and a part of the Sioux belonged, who were
now fighting the troops on the Little Big Horn

When we reached Fort Peck in the evening, I
found a stockade of two or three acres in extent.
It was made of cotton wood trees twelve feet long
and ten inches in diameter, set on end, which would
make a very good defense against rifles, but im-
mediately in the rear of the fort was a range of
hills two hundred feet high, and this commanded
the post. Within the stockade stood comfortable
log huts, with sod roofs, yet there were only ten
or twelve men to man the fort, and any reasonably
large force could capture it in a short time.

For a day or two now it had been very hot, a dry
parching wind blowing from the south. I had been


Hunting at High Altitudes

troubled by illness since leaving Fargo and this
grew worse daily, so that I was feeling quite badly
and was in no condition to move about much.

The garrison of the little fort was much alarmed
about hostile Indians reported in the neighbor-
hood, and indeed the smoke of a camp was visible
in the southwest, a few miles distant. The day
before a Hunkpapa Sioux reported from the hostile
camp on Tongue River, riding a gray horse
branded "C Company, yth Cavalry." He told
Major Mitchell that he had reached the hostile
camp after the fight was over, and that he had
traded for the horse, but to others he said that
he was in the fight, and this no doubt was true. On
being offered some flour he refused to take it unless
sugar also was given him. He asked for clothing,
and this also was given him, for Major Mitchell
wished to conciliate the Indians, as perhaps there
might be hostiles in the neighborhood.

Early in August I was still quite ill. A general
feeling of uneasiness pervaded the fort and there
were occasional reports that hostile bands were
approaching to attack it. On the second of the
month, twelve more Hunkpapa arrived from the
hostile camp, and two of them were riding horses
branded "E Company, yth Cavalry." One had a
Colt's revolver and a part of a surgeon's case


Memories of a Bear Hunter

of instruments. They had three more cavalry
horses in their bunch. Later the same day another
band appeared on the other side of the river, but
suddenly decamped, because they believed that the
whites were about to fire on them.

All these Indians talked as if they did not wish
for war, and Medicine Cloud professed to have
been sent by Sitting Bull to ask for peace. They
said that they would not fight the soldiers unless
attacked, but if attacked, would defend them-
selves. All wished to buy ammunition.

The Indians who Were coming in reported other
Indians on the way from Sitting Bull, and no one
knew what this scattering meant. Some believed
the Indians were trying to purchase ammunition to
take back to the hostile camp on Tongue River,
while others thought that Sitting Bull's force was
deserting him on account of the number of troops
being concentrated against him.

Believing that there was reason for alarm, I
advised that a new block house, already begun in
front of the stockade, be finished at once and
stocked with ammunition and provisions, and that
if seriously threatened we should all retire into the
block house and burn everything in the stockade.
Major Mitchell declared that he would do this at


Hunting at High Altitudes

During all this time there was a camp of four or
iive hundred Indians only a short distance from the
agency. It was occupied by old men, women and
children, the families of the actively hostile young
men who were with Sitting Bull fighting the
soldiers, while these non-combatants were being fed
and cared for by the Government. The warriors
recently returned from the hostile camp, thirty to
fifty in number, and bringing with them the spoils
of the fight in the shape of cavalry horses, arms
and other plunder, were going directly to this

One day word was brought to the agency that a
war dance would be held at the camp that night.
The affair was genuine, the participants having just
returned from the slaughter of a part of Custer's
regiment. During the previous winter I had at-
tended a war dance by a band of Chippewa In-
dians, at Vermillion Bay, Minnesota, and I was
curious to see the difference between this dance as
performed by tame Indians and by these thor-
oughly savage people of the plains. Believing that
"one might as well be killed for a sheep as a lamb,"
I set out with one or two employees of the post,
and was on hand soon after the performance

The tipi used in the dance was the usual living

Memories of a Bear Hunter

tent. The spectators were women and children,
and were gathered in groups close around the sides,
leaving the center open for the dance. The dancers
appeared clad only in their breech clouts. Their
bodies and faces were horribly painted, mostly in
black. 13 The three musicians squatted at the side
4 of the tent, each holding in the left hand a drum
with only one head, on which each beat with a
stick. As we approached the tipi, we plainly heard
the shouts and whoops of the dancers, and when
we entered found ten or twelve warriors dancing
in the middle of the tipi. As they moved about,
each jumped up twice on one foot, landing on the
heel, and then repeated the jump with the other
foot, keeping time as they danced to the music of
the drummers. These, as they beat the drums,
chanted a mournful song, which in some cases was
taken up by the warriors. Frequently these last
appeared to be in a high state of excitement and
uttered blood-curdling yells and whoops. The
women and children lying about close under the
lodge coverings did not seem particularly interested
in what was going on, nor did they enter into the
excitement. After remaining about one hour we

The principal object of my stay at Fort Peck
was to take advantage of the opportunity to make


Hunting at High Altitudes

a hunt with the French half-breeds, 14 who, as
Major Mitchell was informed, would soon reach
Fort Peck to deliver a quantity of pemmican,
which they had contracted to supply to the agency.
These people were the descendants of the Indians
and the original French population of western
Canada. They were civilized, Christianized and
Catholics, and certain bands of them came across
the border each season and followed the herds of
buffalo which roamed over the plains between the
Missouri River and the Canada line. In winter
these vast herds tended to drift southward before
the northerly winter winds, as far as the valley
of the Yellowstone. The French half-breeds
earned their living by following these buffalo 1 , kill-
ing them as they needed them, saving and dressing
the skins, and making pemmican. 15

Pemmican consists of meat that has been thor-
oughly dried, beaten and ground between stones
until it is very flimsy and loose. It is then packed

Online LibraryGeorge Bird GrinnellHunting at high altitudes: the book of the Boone and Crockett club → online text (page 1 of 27)