Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

The Buffalo Country

At this crossing the water was from one to three feet deep and the bed of the river sandy, therefore in order to get our wagons over it was necessary to double up the teams, and in some cases put on twelve or fourteen yoke of oxen, all of which required considerable time.

When we were on the other side of the river, and our men so weary that they spent but little time making camp, in order the sooner to throw themselves down to rest, I aroused them to the highest pitch of excitement by announcing that now we were in a buffalo country, and that before many hours had passed they should have as many short ribs, humps, and tongues for roasting as could be eaten at one meal, however hungry they were.

As if some magic change had been wrought, every man sprang to his feet, insisting that we go at once in search of the game; but I held firm, claiming that the horses were far too weary to take part in a hunt.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Before the next day had fully dawned, the men who were standing guard aroused the camp by shouting excitedly that we were surrounded by buffaloes.

It was not a very great surprise to me that the huge beasts should come so near the camp, for I had heard from men who traveled over the Santa Fe trail that the buffaloes would often mingle with straggling cows, and more than once had emigrants lost their live stock by having the animals literally forced away by these big brutes.