While returning from Yellowstone Park in 1874, the Earl of Dunraven discovered he was running out of “grub.” Hunting for food in the Park was legal then, so he decided to replenish the larder by bagging an antelope. He went hunting with pioneer rancher and Yellowstone guide, Fred Bottler, and a helper named Wynn.
While the trio was pursuing a large buck, a ferocious hail storm forced them to take cover under a pine tree. When the storm abated, Dunraven spotted the buck, tried a long shot and missed. Here’s his story of what happened after that.
It was blowing so hard, and there was such a noise of storm, that there was no danger of the shot having disturbed anything, and so, as the country looked very gamey, we walked on, leading the horses. Presently we came upon a little band containing six antelopes.
We were by this time near the summit of a long sloping mountain. The ground fell away rapidly on either side, and in a long but narrow glade the antelopes were lying. While we were peering at them, two does—nasty inquisitive females—got up, walked forward a few steps and stared too. We remained still as statues, and after a while they appeared satisfied and began to crop the grass. We then left our ponies, and signing to Wynne, who just then hove in sight, that there was something ahead, and that he was to catch them, hastened up under cover of some brush.
By the time we reached the tree nearest to them we found the does had all got up and fled to some distance, but a splendid buck with a very large pair of horns was still lying down. At him I fired, and nailed him. He gave one spring straight into the air from his bed, fell back into the same spot, kicked once or twice convulsively, and lay still. I fired the second barrel at a doe and struck her, for she “pecked” almost on to her head, but she recovered and went on.
Out we rushed: “Never mind the dead one,” shouts Bottler, his face all aglow; “let’s get the other; she’s twice as good, and can’t go far. You take one side of that clump and I will take the other.” So off we set, best pace, bursting up the hill after the wounded doe. We followed her for half an hour, running our level best, and got each a long shot, but missed; and, as she was evidently quite strong, we gave up the chase and walked back.
We found Wynne driving up the ponies; and as he appeared to have some little trouble with the poor beasts, rendered sulky and ill-tempered by the wet and cold. I said to Bottler, “You go down and help him, and I will butcher the buck.”
I had scarcely got the words “butcher the buck” out of my mouth, when the darned thing, apparently not appreciating my intentions, came to life, bounded to his feet, sprang into the air, coming down all four feet together, and, with his legs widely extended, gave a phwit—a sort of half whistle, half snort of surprise, I suppose at his own resurrection—stared a second, and made off.
“Shoot, Bottler,” I cried, “shoot. In Heaven’s name, man, can’t you see the buck?” and I threw up my own rifle and missed him of course. “By George,” says Bottler, wheeling round, “look at the ___;” and he let go at him with the same result.
Wynne yelled and dropped the lariats; Bottler ejaculated terrible things; and I also, I fear, made use of very cursory remarks. But neither for swearing, shouting, nor shooting would he stop. He ran about fifty yards, fell on his head and rolled over and over, jumped up again, ran one hundred yards, pitched head over heels the second time, got up, and went down the hill as if he had never felt better in his life.
We followed of course, and wasted an hour in searching for him in vain. Never again will I pass a beast, however dead he may appear to be, without cutting his throat by way of making sure.
— Excerpt from Hunting on the Yellowstone by the Earl of Dunraven.
— Image from the Coppermine Photo Gallery.
— For more stories about The Earl of Dunraven, click on “Dunraven” under the “Categories” button to the right.
— You can read more of Dunraven’s stories in my book, Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales.