Read CHAPTER XI of The Life and Adventures of Nat Love Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick", free online book, by Nat Love, on

A buffalo hunt. I lose my lariat and saddle. I order A drink for myself and my horse. A close place in old Mexico.

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’ pop guns.

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 River Dick.”

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 present.