The skill of the genuine cowboy in handling a rope cannot be questioned. Marvelous stories get abroad through the Eastern press, reciting most astonishing feats of prowess, in which the “lads of the plain” get credit for performances that would seem to be next to impossible. As a matter of fact, not half the truth has been told regarding the genuine, bona fide exploits of the sons of the prairie.
Roping a Bear
During the fall round up of last year, three Montana Cowboys over on Big Crooked Creek, were writing the ranges in search of a lost stock, ran upon a huge silver bear, who was quietly nosing around among the berry bushes on the banks of the stream. Without a thought as to the consequences the three reckless men gave chase to the bear, who started westward briskly. It was foolhardy attempt in the extreme, for the pursuers were without arms, only possessing long and strong sinew lariat’s; still, they resolved to capture the bear. They held a consultation for a moment, in which it was determined to lasso the beast while going at full speed.
Approaching within casting distance, at the word three nooses went sailing through the air, two of which hit the bull’s-eye. One was shot to catch the bear by the net another by the fore-foot, and a third by the hind leg. The loop must fall on the spot where the animal will place his paw, and the draw must be made instantaneously, else there can be no catch. One loop went alright over his head, the magic circle fell exactly correct for the last leg, but the foreleg cast was a failure. At any rate, the burly fellow was a prisoner from two causes, and this was enough. Both cowboy stopping at once, the bear was thrown from his feet and went rolling head over heels in the dust. In a twinkling, however, he was up again and going for his enemies hammer and tongs style. He fought desperately to relieve himself, and although caught a foul from two quarters he dragged one of his captors, horse in all, some feet far enough to catch the other source. By the tail and draw from that astonished animals caudal appendage a whole mouthful of hair. The third, who had missed a strike in the first instance, now succeeded in catching the bear by a foreleg. And one rope made fast to a tree. Then the three cowboys mauled Mr. Bear with rocks. It was a hard tussle without arms, but the odds are too great against the silver tipped bear. Even with no other weapons in the simple lariat.
In the Medora Bad Lands, is a roving spirit named Henry Williams. Williams is in the employ of the Neimmella Cattle Company, on the little Missouri River, and one day last season, with a grass rope in his hand, actually succeeded in roping a wild use on the winning. He had been hunting missing horses, and had come across two or three of the animals drinking at the river. He rode down to turn them out, when a full-grown wild goose flew up from under a bunch of sagebrush under his bank and pass straight in front of them. He had his rope uncoiled and ready for use with which to secure the horses out of the river, and, quick as thought, while the bird was darting past him, he launched the rope into the air and caught the use of the left-wing. The air was filled with honks for a few seconds, but protest was useless, as the goose was a prisoner. Williams took the bird home with them, but it soon died in captivity.
Jess Reeves, one of our cowboys and a wonderful expert with the lariat, actually succeeded in capturing singly and securely a jack rabbit going across the prairie at a railroad speed.
Dick Rock, the ne plus ultra of cayuse riders, actually, on a wager, rode astride a live buffalo in writing for many miles without saddle or bridle. Another cowboy– Dan Farley I believe his name is– had written across the country to bid some of his friends goodbye, who were leaving on a train. When the train pulled away from the station and ahead about one quarter of a mile start Farley discovered he had left his overcoat aboard. Then began a race between steam and horseflesh that has seldom if ever been seen before. A way when the cow puncher like the wind over coalers, sagebrush, and smashing prairie dog towns, or rather domiciles, right and left. It was a hard run, but the cayuse came out a winner. The train was overtaken within a mile and a half in the overcoat thrown out of the window by the watching friend.