Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Shooting Antelopes

Then I gave the word for the men to divide into two parties, one going to the right and the other to the left toward the herd, in order to come up with them on both sides at the same moment, and the silly animals did not note our approach until we were within half a mile.

Then they showed how rapidly they could run.

I have never seen antelopes in full flight without thinking how nearly alike they are to swallows, both for swiftness and the manner in which they bound over the ground without seeming to touch it. There are not many horses that can come up with this game once the fleet animals have been aroused; but I knew my pony could gain upon them in a chase of five miles or less, and straightway urged him on, shouting for the others to follow.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

It was like horses accustomed to the plow striving to keep the pace with a blooded racer, when we struck off across the plains, and before two miles had been traversed, my companions were left so far in the rear that there was little chance they could take any part in this sport.

I urged Napoleon on until we were in fairly good range, when, firing rapidly, I brought two of the beautiful creatures to the ground.

There was no possibility of overtaking the herd, once having halted, so swinging the game across the saddle in front of me, I let my pony walk leisurely back to where the men waited, each of them looking with envious eves at the result of the chase.

Within half an hour after our return to camp, five or six fires had been built, and our people were busily engaged in cooking the fresh meat, which was so welcome to them, giving little or no heed to anything save the preparations for a feast. Suddenly a single Indian of the Pawnee tribe stood before us, having ridden up without attracting the attention of any member of the company.