Chapter 8: On Top -- Cougars, Deer & Cattle

This picture shows the ridge to the west of my cabin. It was at about this point that I encountered a fine patch of blueberries back of a large boulder. All was quiet. Suddenly a racket burst on my ears not over ten feet away. As this is a country of grizzly bear, mountain lions and wolves, I had a thrill. Jumping to my feet, I was just in time to see a deer's white tail and hindquarters rising gracefully over a bush. He was as scared as I was, which was something.

At another time while looking for a grouse I started a cougar from almost under my feet. It was about the size of a large hound. It got out of sight in the tall brush before I could shoot, although I had my .45 drawn for the grouse. It is probably just as well. The picture at the left shows one taken from the same location where I saw mine. There was a bounty of $25.00 on them, as they kill many deer.

There was no end of game in that remote country. Deer tracks completely covered the trail some mornings, and they grazed like cattle on the mountain. Blue grouse are plentiful and obliging. I saw one packer (Gilroy) shoot a whole box of 50 .22 shorts at one and it took our disgusted Mr. Agnew one shot to bring it down, shot thru the head. I know of one occasion upon which he shot a deer at about half a mile. He used to enter rifle contests. His wife once shot a black bear with a .22 special rifle. Mr. Agnew was modest, efficient and a fine southern gentleman. He had a heavy revolver which was rusted solid and which he never shot. As a sheriff he said he had cleaned out many a dive, using it for moral effect, and hitting with the handle. The forest service demanded we all carry a gun to enforce the law, and that was his.

While there, two men arrived with about 600 head of cattle. One was the son of a rancher by name Harold Rosengrand and the other, Dick Maxwell. They fed their cattle on the grass above timber line, fattening them, and driving them back 50 miles over the trail to Kooskia.  Their presence gave me company occasionally. Harold Rosengrand and I took tree trunks about 4" in diameter and used them as levers to pry off loosened chunks of granite from the ridge near my cabin. They would take everything with them, including small trees, until they broke into fragments far below.

Dick Maxwell was forever bragging how well he could shoot. I made the [following] poem to describe the occasion.

The Tenderfoot's Triumph

The old cow puncher of Idaho --
   That feller called Lefty Lou --
Bragged long in the glow of the campfire light
How he'd fan his hammer and blank his sight
And drive a nail in the dead of night
   With his rifle and pistol too.
I met him out on the trail one day
   His carbine across his back.
"Come 'ere," says he, "Will ya' shoot with me?
D'ye see the knot on that old dead tree?
Well, take this rifle and you'll soon see
   That shootin' is quite a knack."
So I blazed away, though I knew not how,
   For shootin' was new to me.
We went to look at the tree's white bole,
And plumb in the center, consarn my soul,
That knot was plugged with a bullet hole,
   The neatest you ever see!
I blinked aghast at the shot I'd made
   But darned if I'd let him know.
"Now that was a pretty bum shot," says I,
"She's a sixty-fourth of an inch too high.
If my Pa saw that he'd set down and cry,"
   And turned on my heel to go.
He slung the gun on his husky back
   As over the trail we trod.
I bade him shoot, but he shook his head;
His face was grey and his neck was red,
And nothin' from Lefty has since been said
   Of rifle or shootin' rod.
   G. A. Burrows
   Sold to National Sportsman for the December, 1941 issue.
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