Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Eager Hunters

Next Day every man and boy in our company was looking eagerly forward for signs of game, and when, the afternoon being nearly spent, they saw large herds of antelopes in the distance, it was only with difficulty I could force the teamsters to remain on their wagons.

Every horseman would have set off at that time in the afternoon with weary steeds, when there was no possibility of running down the game, had it not been for John Mitchell, who, after talking with me, insisted that no man should leave the company until we had made camp.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

The Platte River was to be crossed before we halted, and we needed every man with us, for I knew that the bottom of the stream was soft, and the chances many that we would be forced to double up our teams.

However, we gained the opposite bank without much difficulty and were hardly more than ready to encamp, after having traveled eighteen or nineteen miles, when it began to rain once more, and then the men were glad that they had not set oil to hunt at nightfall.

We camped where it would be possible for us to get water without too much labor, and set about gathering fuel before everything was soaked by the rain, and darkness was upon us.

Then the men began to treat me as if I was of their own age. They came into my tent by twos and threes, asking when it would be possible for them to hunt antelopes, and when I would go with them to bring in fresh meat.

I told them that on the next day they should have all the hunting that would satisfy them and their horses, and this caused them to wonder how I knew antelopes might be near at hand.