A buffalo hunt. I lose
my lariat and saddle. I order
A drink for myself and my
horse. A close place in old
When there was not much doing around
the ranch, we boys would get up a buffalo hunt.
Buffaloes were plentiful in those days and one did
not have to ride far before striking a herd.
Going out on the open plain we were not long in sighting
a herd, peacefully grazing on the luxuriant grass,
and it would have been an easy task to shoot them but
that was not our idea of sport. In the first
place it was too easy. Then to shoot them would
rob the hunt of all element of danger and excitement,
for that reason we prepared to rope them and then
dispatch them with the knife or revolver. As
soon as the herd caught sight of us they promptly
proceeded to stampede and were off like the wind.
We all had pretty good mounts and we started in pursuit.
It is a grand sight to see a large herd of several
thousand buffalo on a stampede, all running with their
heads down and their tongues hanging out like a yard
of red flannel, snorting and bellowing they crowd
along, shaking the ground for yards around. We
soon reached the rear of the herd and began operations.
I had roped and dispatched several, when my attention
was attracted by a magnificent bull buffalo, which
I made up my mind to get, running free behind the
herd. My buffalo soon came within range and my
rope settled squarely over his horns and my horse
braced himself for the strain but the bull proved
too much for us. My horse was knocked down, the
saddle snatched from under me and off my horse’s
back and my neck nearly broken as I struck the hardest
spot in that part of Texas After I got through counting
the stars not to mention the moons that I could see
quite plainly, I jumped to my feet and after assuring
myself that I was all there I looked for my horse,
he was close by just getting up while in the distance
and fast growing more distant each moment was my favorite
saddle flying in the breeze, hanging to the head of
the infuriated buffalo.
Now I did not think I could very well
lose that saddle so I sprang on my horse’s bare
back and started in pursuit. My horse could run
like a deer and his hard fall did not seem to affect
him much, so it did not take us long to overtake the
plunging herd. Running my horse close up by the
side of the thief who stole my saddle, I placed the
muzzle of my forty-five close against his side and
right there I took charge of Mr. Buffalo and my outfit.
It was no trouble to get all the buffalo
meat we wanted in those days, all that was necessary
was to ride out on the prairie and knock them over
with a bullet, a feat that any cow boy can accomplish
without useless waste of ammunition, and a running
buffalo furnishes perhaps the best kind of a moving
target for practice shooting. And the man that
can drop his buffalo at two hundred yards the first
shot can hit pretty much anything he shoots at.
I never missed anything I shot at
within this distance and many a time when I thought
the distance of an object was too great, the boys have
encouraged me by saying, shoot, you never miss, and
as much to my surprise as theirs, my old stand by
placed the bullet where I aimed.
I early in my career recognized the
fact that a cow boy must know how to use his guns,
and therefore I never lost an opportunity to improve
my shooting abilities, until I was able to hit anything
within range of my forty-five or my winchester.
This ability has times without number proved of incalculable
value to me, when in tight places. It has often
saved the life of myself and companions and so by constant
practice I soon became known as the best shot in the
Arizona and pan handle country.
After the buffalo hunt we were sent
down in Old Mexico to get a herd of horses, that our
boss had bought from the Mexicans in the southwestern
part of Old Mexico. We made the journey out all
right without special incident, but after we had got
the horses out on the trail, headed north I was possessed
with a desire to show off and I thought surprise the
staid old greasers on whom we of the northern cattle
country looked with contempt. So accordingly
I left the boys to continue with the herd, while I
made for the nearest saloon, which happened to be located
in one of the low mud houses of that country, with
a wide door and clay floor. As the door was standing
open, and looked so inviting I did not want to go
to the trouble of dismounting so urging my horse forward,
I rode in the saloon, first however, scattering with
a few random shots the respectable sized crowd of
dirty Mexicans hanging around as I was in no humor
to pay for the drinks for such a motley gathering.
Riding up to the bar, I ordered keller for myself
and a generous measure of pulky for my horse, both
popular Mexican drinks.
The fat wobbling greaser who was behind
the bar looked scared, but he proceeded to serve us
with as much grace as he could command. My forty-five
colt which I proceeded to reload, acting as a persuader.
Hearing a commotion outside I realized that I was surrounded.
The crowd of Mexican bums had not appreciated my kindly
greeting as I rode up and it seems did not take kindly
to being scattered by bullets. And not realizing
that I could have killed them all, just as easy as
I scattered them, and seeing there was but two of
us I and my horse they had summoned
sufficient courage to come back and seek revenge.
There was a good sized crowd of them, every one with
some kind of shooting iron, and I saw at once that
they meant business. I hated to have to hurt some
of them but I could see I would have to or be taken
myself, and perhaps strung up to ornament a telegraph
pole. This pleasant experience I had no especial
wish to try, so putting spurs to my horse I dashed
out of the saloon, then knocking a man over with every
bullet from my Colts I cut for the open country, followed
by several volleys from the angry Mexicans’
The only harm their bullets did, however,
was to wound my horse in the hip, not seriously, however,
and he carried me quickly out of range. I expected
to be pursued, however, as I had no doubt I had done
for some of those whom I knocked over, so made straight
for the Rio Grande river riding day and night until
I sighted that welcome stream and on the other side
I knew I was safe. Crossing the Rio Grande and
entering Texas at the Eagle pass, I rode straight
to the old home ranch where I stayed resting up until
the boys got the horses out of Mexico into Texas,
then I joined them and assisted in driving the horses
into the ranch. I congratulated myself that I
escaped so easily and with such little damage.
It was certainly a close place but I have been in even
closer places numbers of times and always managed to
escape. Either through trick, the fleetness of
my horse or my shooting and sometimes through all
combined. At this time I was known all over the
cattle country as “Red River Dick,” the
name given to me by the boss of the Duval outfit,
when I first joined the cow boys at Dodge City, Kansas.
And many of the cattle kings of the
west as well as the Indians and scores of bad men
all over the western country have at some time or
other had good reason to remember the name of “Red
This was in 1875. It was not
till the next year that I won the name of “Deadwood
Dick,” a name I made even better known than “Red
River Dick.” And a name I was proud to
carry and defend, if necessary, with my life.
This season we made several trips North. The horses
we brought up from Texas now had to be driven to old
man Keith’s in Nebraska, on the North Platte
river. On this trip we had no trouble to speak
of. Several bands of Indians showed up at different
times but a shot or so from one of the boys would
send them scurrying off at full speed, without stopping
to sample further our fighting abilities.
This was in some ways disappointing
to us as we were spoiling for a fight or excitement
of some kind. However, nothing turned up, so after
delivering the horses to their new owners, we made
tracks for home again. It was the same round
of duties, season after season, but all our trips
on the trail were not by any means alike, we were continually
visiting new country and new scenes, traveling over
trails new to us, but old in history. Many of
these old trails are now famous in history.
Each trip gave us new experiences,
and traveling so much as we were, there were few outfits
in the cattle country that knew the trails and the
country as we did. And we were continually adding
to this knowledge and experience. After returning
from old man Keith’s in Nebraska we had to take
the trail again with a herd of cattle for the Spencer
brothers, whose ranch was located just north of the
Red Light about sixty-five miles north of the bad
lands in South Dakota. This was one of the largest
cattle ranches in the West.
Their brand was known as the R Box
Circle Brand. There we remained for some time,
adding to our knowledge of the cattle business such
things as can only be learned at a large cattle ranch.
On our way home we passed through Laramie, Wyoming.
As fate would have it, we arrived at Laramie City
on July 4, 1875, just as the notorious Jack Watkins
escaped from the Albany county jail, and the excitement
in the town was at fever heat. Jack Watkins,
who was probably the most desperate criminal that
was ever placed behind prison bars, had been arrested
and placed in close confinement, as the officers of
the western states had long tried to effect his capture.
And they did not want to take any chances of losing
him, now they had him, but for all their caution he
had escaped, shooting Deputy Sheriff Lawrence in the
leg, crippling him for life.
Ex-Conductor Brophy was at that time
sheriff. The officers noting our arrival at such
time, at once ordered us out of the city, as they
suspected we knew something about the outbreak.
We protested our innocence of any knowledge of the
trouble. But appearances were against us, so
we had to leave, going direct to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Here we disposed of a small band of horses our boss
had along, and which we did not wish to take back
home with us. They were sold to the Swarn Brothers
at a good price.
We remained in Cheyenne until the
18th of July, when we left for Texas, arriving at
the old Pali Dora range ranch on the 10th of August.
We had no more than got rested up before we were again
called out on active duty. The many large cattle
owners of the panhandle country had got together and
come to the conclusion that the wild mustang horses,
large bands of which were running wild over the Arizona
and Texas plains, would make good cattle horses, and
to that end a plan of campaign was arranged, whereby
they could be captured, and broken in and put to some
use, instead of causing damage to the range, as at