Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Antelope Country

Next morning, when we had traveled no more than six miles, any hunter could sec that we were in a game country, and because our people were really in need of fresh meat, to say nothing of the desire of the men for sport, I gave the word to halt and make camp.

John Mitchell angrily demanded why I had halted the company before the forenoon was half spent.

When I told him that here was our opportunity to get antelope steaks for supper, he looked at me as if he believed I was talking of something wholly beyond my knowledge. I have an idea he would have countermanded my order to form camp, insisting that we move on, had not his wife suggested that now we were so near the river, where the bank was shelving instead of steep, it would be a good time for the women to finish washing their clothing.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

After she had spoken he said to me:—

"Very well, lad, you may show the other men your antelopes. I have no desire for a wild-goose chase across the prairie."

I gave little heed to his banter, and those who had been so eager for the hunt were right willing to follow me on the chance that they might come upon something that could be killed; John Mitchell finally consented to go with us, in order, as he said, to hear what sort of excuse I would make for not finding game.

We rode straight away from the river, and within half an hour came upon a herd of from twenty to thirty antelopes feeding less than three miles away, whereupon every member of the company would have started off singly, taking the poor chances of getting a shot, had I not insisted they should hold themselves under my orders, lest there be no possibility of bringing in fresh meat that day.

"You made a good guess, lad," John Mitchell said to me, as if he was disappointed because we had brought the game to view, and I replied:—

"Any one familiar with this country may say with reasonable certainty that he will find deer in such and such a place without first having seen any signs. With buffaloes it is different. But on feeding grounds like this, one can declare positively that he will come upon some kind of deer without riding very far."