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Hal Ranch Outfitters

legends-Stories Poetry
Guides will frequently visit with their guests as they explore, ask them about some of these stories and legends

Halo Ranch Outfitters  is operated by a family of professional cowboys.  Some of the cowboy Poetry that is included revolves around a cowboys way of life.

Telephone (208) 558-7077
(406) 646 7246


Many of the true exeriences in this link of Halo Ranch Outfitters  have a direct connection with the wranglers and guides that are connected with the Eagle Ridge Ranch. The guides who work for Yellowstone Horses-Eagle Ridge Ranch conduct horseback riding tours into the mountains on the Continental Divide

The legends that are included in this link deal with the local area and stories that seem likely to be true- or at least most of them.

TheButton and the Champ By Bob Schield A True All-Around  Professional Rodeo Champion Cowboy

We both were reminiscing on the days that used to be,
Me and a champion rider who's a special friend to me.
We shared the pleasant mem'ries of the good old times we had,
When joys of life abounded; then we laughed about the bad.
He'd been acclaimed the champion of bull-riders back a way
And still a champ at fifty, he can make bull-riding pay.
Those years of bumps and bruises left their scars upon his hide
But that which keeps him winning is what's hid down deep inside.
The part exposed to viewing ain't the measure of a man,
Just see now what he looks like, in your mind's eye, if you can.

His gold emblazoned buckle proclaimed "Champion of the World."
His boots were worn and battered and their toes were scuffed and curled.
Inspired by the time were etchings, now engraved upon his face,
Like strips of it eroded when harsh winds whirled through the space.
His moustache drooped and wobbled like its tips were overweight.
He'd stand four inches taller if his legs had grown out straight.
Devoid of vegetation was the gloss upon his pate.
Most of it had died away or did not germinate.
His frame looked tough and wiry, like a wolf beyond its years,
But words of his achievements could have filled ten thousand ears.

A greenhorn spied the buckle with its golden glow of light
And promptly chose the moment for enrichment of his night.
He said, I'm mighty anxious to meet such a famous hand,
Who's many times been touted as the greatest in the land."
The champ absorbed the tribute with a mirthless measured grin,
And pridefully admitted he's the best there's ever been.
The gods in all their fury could not his pride erase,
And bold determination framed the lines upon his face.
These words that button uttered cut his dollar to a dime:
"Now, Champ, will you please tell me, what was your fastest time?"

The Champ ignored the blunder, we all have made a few.
The moral to this story ain't what the button knew.
Now contemplate: each acorn may yield a mighty tree,
No man can tell, by looking, how hard its wood will be.
Who could expect a button, bare' face changing of the voice,
To question such profession in words that fit our choice?
The champ picked up the fumble in a way that proved him grand,
Would not belittle someone who did not understand.
Instead he seemed to wriggle -- squirm down deeply in his hide,
And thus enhance the impact of the story of his ride.

The button gazed, enraptured, while this tale began to form,
Like a lost unsheltered mortal views a fierce approaching storm.
"One time in Californy, when I marked a ninety-three,
I crotched an ox named Snowman, belongin' to CB.
That three an' ninety markin' fairly scorched the judge's book.
You'd a thought I rode an earthquake, the way the grandstand shook.
I rode that ragin' demon an' we clearly stole the show,
That," said he, with misty eyes, "was thirty years ago,
But none could hold a candle to old Spec in sixty-one.
I rode to fame an' glory on that pitchin' Son-a-gun."

The Champ blinked off a tear drop in the corner of his eye,
Concluding for the button, complex ways of life and why.
His shoulders more erect now, and firmness in his step,
He told then of the basics for to build a button's rep'.
I could feel the bond of friendship reaching out between the two,
A warm and human welding of the old times to the new.
"Son, you'll be a champ perhaps, my time has come and went.
You must earn your niche in life, but you won't by accident.
Them that tries the hardest, son, only they will gain their choice,
For fame is not accomplished by mere raisin' of the voice."







             As I was setting in the Idaho Livestock Auction sale-ring during the spring of 1986, a powerful built muscular Quarter Horse stud was pushed into the auction arena.  This beautiful bay stud weighed about 1300 pounds; his powerful neck was very thick as older stud’s necks usually are.  His mane was long and unkempt, his tail nearly drug the ground, and he still had not lost his winter hair.  Earlier, during this sale, several wild horses had been auctioned off.  Like this big bay stud, these horses had been herded into the ring; the earlier horses were not halter broke and they were forced in, wild eyed and afraid of the blaring loud-speaker, hundreds of people staring at them, and the two men, with buggy whips standing behind the three, short, protective post areas within the ring.

            Later I found that this big stud had been captured and brought to Idaho Falls along with the wild horses that had sold earlier, but aside from that there was no similarity between the horses.  This big stud trotted into the ring with his head held high; he looked at the new, strange, surroundings, and then carefully proceeded to search for the way out.  However, as soon as he determined that he was in an enclosed area, instead of becoming frantic, as wild horses usually do, he deliberately approached the closest man with the buggy whip.

             Soon the man with the buggy whip realized that he was the one who needed to find a way out!  Twice, the man snapped his buggy whip in the powerful bay stud’s face, but the big horse kept coming; the man then bolted for the small door leading up to the auctioneer’s booth. The big thick necked stud then turned his attention to the other man in the ring.  This man did not bother to snap his buggy whip, he quickly ran for the concrete and cable wall that separated the auction ring from the spectator seating and frantically crawled between the cables. This all happened before the auctioneer ever started the bidding!

            As I watched the fiasco in front of me, even though I was there to buy saddle horses for my newly planned horseback riding business, thoughts of a bucking horse for my sons to practice on crept into my mind.  However, because of this new business venture that I was trying to establish, the bucking horse thoughts were short lived; I only had a small amount of money to spend and I needed to buy saddle horses.

            I’ll now quickly explain this business venture. A few years previous, the State Highway Department had purchased land that adjoined the single lane highway that ran from Idaho Falls into Montana. They had made these purchases with intentions of constructing a four lane freeway.  For the most part these freeway plans were not welcomed by the land owners; the properties were obtained using a unique, and as far as I’m concerned very unfair law! The Highway Department legally had the right to condemn and then purchase property that they considered necessary to make highway improvements. The highway department’s goal was to bypass larger towns such as Rigby, Rexburg, Sugar City, and pass under the town of St. Anthony.  Their plan was to obliterate the small towns of Lorenzo, Thornton, and Chester.  They were mostly successful in obtaining the property necessary to construct the new freeway. Wherever possible they tried to construct the freeway near where the old highway was, especially where the old highway adjoined the railroad right-of-way that had been established back in the homesteading days.

            The Middle Branch of the Fall River runs down through my home ranch.  Just north of our ranch, this stream also passed under the existing highway and railroad tracks.  The Middle Branch of the Fall River is a natural flow stream, although there have been some alterations in its original course, and canals have been created to divert some of its water, it’s the same stream that was here before man settled the area.

             Approximately one half mile north of our home, and just a few yards north of the highway and railroad bridges that cross the Middle Branch, there is a very swift waterfall. Because of the swiftness of the water that passes down over it, the waterfall stays open year round and there is no ice accumulation next to the banks.  Just a quick note: Because of this natural ecological factor that causes open water year round, before the construction of the tabernacle in St. Anthony, the Yellowstone Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints actually conducted their wintertime baptisms in the water at the base of this waterfall!

            The highway department ran into a problem because of the waterfall; in order for the new freeway to follow the existing highway and railroad right of way, it would actually have to pass over the waterfall.  Because of the resistance from the Cazier family, whose homestead would be wiped out, along with the need to construct an unrealistic bridge over the waterfall, the highway department chose to alter the freeway’s location and actually go around the home site and waterfall.

            Because of this deviation of the freeway, a small three cornered tract of land about three acres in size was created. Because this tract was bordered by the abandoned two lane highway to the south and the newly constructed, restricted access freeway to the north, and even though it had rich soil in permanent pasture, because of its restricted access the chunk of land was no longer used by anyone.

            I made arrangements with the land owner to rent the property. I then built a hitching rack, and constructed an 8’x12’ overhead sign that said: Horseback Riding.  That was the beginning of my commercial horseback riding career.  The business was small; it was mostly run by my kids with Bobbi being the main wrangler and guide.  We would saddle the horses at the barn each morning, then ride and lead them north one half mile to the hitching rack by the freeway. We would then stand around waiting for people to “drop in”.

            When the drop-ins showed up, we took guided rides on our ranch, starting on the narrow stretch of land located on the banks of the Middle Branch of the Fall River. Even though the half mile stretch of land between our place and the railroad tracks is right-away that belongs to the Fall River Canal Company and my neighbor Zane Bloom actually has the grazing rights for it, Zane told me he was not interested in using it.  Consequently that stretch of pasture has been part of the Halo Ranch for as long as I’ve ran the place.

            The guides, after reaching our own deeded property, and depending on who was conducting the ride, rode in different directions.  Even though our deeded property lies on both sides of the stream, there wasn’t and still isn’t a bridge across the Middle Branch of the Fall River. In order to reach the southern portion of the ranch, our rides crossed the stream; we used a different crossing when taking the ride out than we did when bringing the rides back. After crossing the water, our rides followed the meadow that adjoined the stream usually riding close to the small, but steep cliffs located on the east side. It’s a beautiful ride! The water runs very fast down through this section of our ranch. Back when we were conducting these rides there were huge boulders located in the stream and the water would hit them, splash magnificently in the air, and create a fine mist of water particles in which little miniature rainbows could be seen.  A few years ago, the canal company decided to dig these boulders out of the stream and pile them on the bank along its side.  What a waste of money!  The same amount of water ran the length of our place then, every bit as fast as it does now; the only thing the excavations changed was the amount of grass on the sides of the creek where the boulders are now piled, and fewer crossing areas.  We now have just two; one is up near a concrete and metal structure that is used to divert a large stream of water into a man-made canal called the “Cross-Cut Canal.  This crossing was usually used during the first portion of the ride.  The second crossing is a rougher, rocky one located near the southwest border of our ranch.  After crossing the Middle Branch we would ride the pastures and hills that our ranch is composed of. Depending on the guests, the ride usually lasted about an hour which included the mounting time. Even though the ride was trivial compared to what we do now, the guests always enjoyed it.

            Now back to the big, powerful stud and the horse auction in Idaho Falls. My goal was to have ten available saddle horses for our new business, and I only had five. Because of my limited resources I was looking for bargain type horses.  As the bidding started, I soon noticed that no one was interested in bidding on the stud, not even Bish Jenkins who at the time was the largest canner-market horse buyer in the country!  Thoughts of my sons, especially my oldest son Travis who I was sure would someday be the World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, again crept into my mind; I cautiously raised my hand.  The auctioneer immediately recognized my bid and with very few attempts to get a higher bid, he said, “Sold!”

            Suddenly I thought, “What did I do?”

            After the sale was over, I found the people that brought the wild horses to the auction; an old rancher proceeded to tell me quite a story about this big stud.  To start with, they had given him a name, it was “Roy”. Roy was about ten years old and had been the top stud in the herd of wild horses that he ran with. For years, the ranchers who ran their cows in the same area as the wild horses would periodically have spring roundups and capture a few of the wild horses.  This was extra money in their pockets because they sold the horses, as canners, by the pound.  About fifteen years earlier, because of the inter-breeding that was taking place, the horses in the wild horse herd were becoming smaller.  Wanting to correct the situation, these ranchers concentrated on capturing studs in their roundups, and then they would turn quarter horse studs back out with the mares. It didn’t work!  The smart, wily, old wild-horse studs that the ranchers couldn’t capture would either kill the newly introduced quarter horse studs or keep them driven away from the mares.

            In 1976, on the very day of the spring roundup, one of the ranchers had a prize, papered mare, die as she gave birth; her newborn foal, who  had been fathered by a heavy muscled top notch stud, lived.  It just so happened that during the roundup, one of the captured wild-horse mares also gave birth.  The rancher, who was one of the men that had been trying to up-breed the herd, came upon a plan.  He killed the wild horse mare’s colt, put his prize mare’s foal, Roy, at her side, and turned them back out on the range!

            It worked; the wild-horse mare claimed and raised the new foal!  Within a few years Roy, having been raised as a wild horse, and naturally accepted by the other horses in the herd, and using the things he learned growing up in this fierce environment, along with his enormous stature, started driving those older, but smaller wild horse studs away. Soon, Roy was the top stud in the herd! Within a short time, the mares that Roy serviced started giving birth to larger, better quality colts. Three and four years later the larger, filly colts that he fathered were ready to start reproducing and Roy bred them as well; their colts were even larger! This process continued and the size of the horses in this wild horse herd increased dramatically.

             Line breeding can work great; an outstanding horse’s high qualities, such as muscles and overall size can be amplified very quickly.  However, by the same token, inbreeding will also cause genetic problems.  By this time, Roy, in many cases, was actually breeding his great-granddaughters. He was big and powerful and would not let any of the other studs, including his own, now larger, stud colts near any of the mares in his herd.  Knowing this, and not wanting to have genetic deformities develop, the ranchers chose to capture Roy during their spring roundup of 1986.  Even though Roy was well bred, he was ten years old and had been raised as a wild horse; except for the day he was born he and had never been touched by human hand.  The ranchers knew there was no sense in trying to make a saddle horse out of him so they chose to sell him for slaughter right along with the other captured horses. Just a quick noteSeldom, in those days, did anyone try to train a mustang; this has since changed drastically with the governments "adoption" program. Now, because of the changes in laws, the majority of the slaughtered horses today are shipped to Europe and Japan where the lean meat is considered a delicacy.

            After learning about Roy’s life history, I proceeded to try and load him in my borrowed trailer. I had also purchased a couple of other horses during the sale but when I tried to load the horses together, I could see it was hopeless. I then chose to haul Roy back up to the ranch by himself and then make another trip back down for the other horses.  By this time I was really having misgivings about my purchase! 

            A couple of days after the sale we ran Roy into the bucking chute of our rodeo arena.  He was not halter broke and it was a fight getting the bronc halter and saddle on him, but we finally succeeded. We had good arena crew of four; my son Travis was an outstanding bronc rider; seldom was he ever thrown. His two younger brothers Chad and Jerry were just getting to the point where they could almost ride the bucking barrel, but they were far from good bronc riders!  I’m not sure, but I don’t think either of them had ever actually been on a saddle bronc at this time but they both had aspirations to become bronc riders).  My youngest son, Blake, was good at opening the chute gate and I was the pick-up man

            With this crew of flankers, pickup men, and gate openers all prepared to “rodeo”.  Travis climbed on and said, “Outside!”

            Our big powerful stud burst from the chute, "crow-hopped" about three times, and then loped off across the arena!  Thinking that Jerry might have missed the flank, we ran him back in and tried him again.  The results were the same; he wouldn’t buck!  Now I was really disgusted with myself for buying such a worthless chunk of horseflesh.  During the next few days, twelve year old Chad and Jerry even tried him out.  It was hopeless; I finally conceded that he was just a canner. 

            Knowing that studs didn’t bring much by the pound, and not wanting a horse around that couldn’t be led, I castrated Roy and then as he recuperated, and was sore from his surgery, went right to work breaking him to lead.  To our amazement, he was very cooperative and quickly learned to lead. We were so impressed with how fast he gentled down, we decided to try breaking him to ride.  He was amazing!  A ten year old wild-horse stud, that had never been handled, should have been nearly impossible to break to ride.  He wasn’t; he was highly intelligent and he trained abnormally fast.

            At this time, my brother Casey was working for a cattle ranch in Hamer, Idaho; the ranch belonged to a wealthy rancher by the name of Larsen.  Casey’s main duties were in the feedlot portion of this huge ranch.  Employees of this ranch had the option to use their own horses and Casey has an extraordinary ability to work with horses. He could, and still can train a horse to perfection! Knowing this, and knowing that Roy was showing promise of becoming a well broke horse, I asked Casey if he would like to finish this green-broke, thirteen hundred pound, ten year old quarter-horse gelding. He agreed and it turned out to be a great move.  After about eight months of intense riding in the runs and alleys of this huge feedlot, Casey brought Roy back.  I have never, even to this day, ridden a better broke horse!  At the slightest command, Roy would do anything you asked.  He could single out cows, shut and open gates, and in many cases do things without even being told.  He could drag big bulls, stand and hold the rope tight as Casey climbed off and doctored steers, open and shut gates with his nose, and the list went on and on.  Casey, who has spent a good share of his life on the back of the horse, told everyone that Roy was the best broke horse he had ever used.

            Our home ranch based horseback riding operation lasted only one year. In 1987 we were offered the horseback riding concession at Harriman State Park and eagerly took it.  We took all of our horses and saddles to Harriman State Park and spent the next 18 years, conducting horseback rides in the mountains and meadows of Island Park.  As you probably guessed, Roy was my favorite horse.

            For many years Roy was #1.  When I say #1, he was first place in every way.  First, all herds of horses have a pecking order.  The #1 horse is always quite bossy; in most cases the #1 horse in a pecking order will nip at any horse that gets in his territory, but Roy didn’t. Just for example, if there is a fresh chunk of hay thrown into the corral, the #1 horse will have the first opportunity to eat it. With most #1 horses, if there is only one flake of hay, the #1 horse will eat his fill before allowing the lower horses in the pecking order to try it.  No one ever challenged Roy for that right, but if there was enough hay there for other horses, Roy didn’t object to other horses coming up and eating with him.  Without exception, all of the other horses accepted Roy as #1 but the unique thing with Roy’s prestigious #1 position was almost as if he had sent out a proclamation that said:  “I won’t pick on you, but don’t you ever challenge me!”

            To continue on with the #1 details, besides being the top of the pecking order I’ll mention some others.  Who was my #1 guide horse? Roy.  Who was the smoothest loping horse I owned? Roy. Who was the fastest walking horse I owned? Not Roy, he would much rather break into a trot than try to walk super fast. Who was my favorite wrangle horse?  For many years it was Roy, he would be standing at the barn door waiting to be saddled every morning. However, about five years ago he started moving off to the far corner of the wrangle pasture about the same time he saw me walk into the corral.  I then had to walk out to get him. When loading a large load of horses in a trailer, who did I save until last because I knew he would shove his way in regardless of how little space there was left? Roy.

            Yes, Roy was the greatest horse I’ve ever owned, but he wasn’t perfect.  For years, because of his huge powerful stature, a person couldn’t even see his withers.  Consequently a special saddle, with an expanded full quarter horse tree, had to be used.  Even with the special saddle we had to pull the cinch tighter and tighter every time we mounted someone.  His back was so round that we had to use a special breast collar with an over the neck strap to keep the saddle from rolling.  For years and years we had to use a special bridle on Roy.  The main reason for the special bridle was because we always used him as the wrangle horse and he always wanted to push the horses in from the pasture faster than was wise to do. With an ordinary bit in his mouth, Roy was hard to hold back! In fact, without the special bridle a person would actually have to pull the reins as tight as he could and then dally them around the saddle horn to hold him in check; this was only while he was running with other horses.  In fact, because of the fact that Roy could be used for all ages and experience of riders, often we used him for real young kids.  It didn’t matter if they are too small to do anything but hang on the saddle horn, he wouldn’t take them anywhere but with the rest of the horses. 

However, Roy has always had a real big appetite, every time we passed an extra lucrative looking piece of grass, Roy would grab a mouthful. Older people can check him each time he reaches for a bite of grass, and after a few checks, he concedes and quits trying. With the little kids, however, we have to loop the reins behind the saddle horn and tell the little kids to be careful and not put their fingers between the reins and the saddle horn.  Yes, there are a few kids who don’t always listen to what they are told, and yes, there have been quite a few pinched fingers over the years.
Right now, it’s the winter of 2007, Roy is 31 years old, and his front teeth are in rough shape.  For the first time ever, Roy is in with the old horses that are corralled away from the main herd and fed by themselves. Roy’s withers are now actually showing, like normal horses do, and he has dropped in weight; he now weighs about 1100 pounds.

             Roy relinquished his #1 spot in the main string several years ago, but to this day no horse has ever picked on him. Now, this winter, even though it’s a less competitive environment, Roy has moved back to Number #1. When I throw a new bale of hay in the manger, the other horses in the corral nip and kick at each other to see who will be second in line to get to the bale.  Meanwhile, Roy casually walks up and nibbles at the hay for a few minutes while this quibbling goes on behind him; no horse ever nips at Roy and Roy never nips at them!  After a few minutes Roy turns and walks away, a signal to the other horses that they can move in.  As soon as they have moved in and started in on the bale, Roy casually walks back up and eats with them!

This is the first winter that Roy has dropped weight. When traveling from one spot to another, he now carefully moves through the deeper snow and over the frozen chunks of manure.  I no longer see the sudden bursts of speed, and gleeful kicks in the air that is typical of younger horses running loose on a sunny day.  Although it’s hard to believe, or accept, Roy finally is showing a few signs of getting older.

Roy-best horse in the worldCurley Angell-- Worlds Greatest Dad Except for the first ten years of their lives, and the fact that Roy is now losing weight and Dad is gaining, Roy and my Dad have a lot in common.  Roy has been the best horse I’ve ever owned and he’s possibly the best horse in the world.  My Dad has been the best dad I’ve ever had and he’s definitely the best dad in the world.  They’re both getting a little older, but I would trust either of them with my life!

           NOTE: Both Dad and Roy have left this earth Roy was 36 years old and Dad was 90 years old                                                                                                                         


Mule Kills a Mountainm LionMule Kills a Mountain Lion     

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Roping a Deer author: undisclosed

 I was raised in San Diego California and I had been quite successful with a swimming pool construction business there.  At a fairly young age I decided to retire, move to Montana, and purchase a small cattle ranch. I was trying to become a real rancher, but I had a lot to learn!

When feeding my cows, deer often hung around, sometimes even to the point of being annoying. I came up with the idea to rope one, put it in a stall, feed it up on grain for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that since they congregated at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away) that it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, as if they had seen this roping thing before, stayed well back; they were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes my deer showed up - 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I had wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it...it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and received an education!

The first thing that I learned is that while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope. That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope with some dignity, but a deer, no chance.

That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I originally imagined. The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many animals. A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point I had lost my taste for corn fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn't want the deer to have to suffer a slow death. I managed to get it lined up to back in between my truck and the feeder - a little trap I had set beforehand.  Kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and started moving up so I could get my rope back.      

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head - almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.  The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now) tricked it.  While I kept it busy tearing the ------ out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day. Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned a long time ago that when an animal like a horse strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape. This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond I devised a different strategy. I screamed like woman and tried to turn and run.

The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and three times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.  Now when a deer paws at you and knocks you down it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed.  What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.  Now for the local legend. I was pretty beat up. My scalp was split open, I had several large goose eggs, my wrist was bleeding pretty good and felt broken (it turned out to be just badly bruised) and my back was bleeding in a few places, though my insulated canvas jacket had protected me from most of the worst of it. I drove to the medical center in West Yellowstone; I got out of the truck, covered in blood and dust and looking like hell.

I didn’t know if there was a law in the state of Montana that would prohibit an individual from roping a deer;  I knew I couldn’t do it in the Park, but I suspected that I could do it on my ranch, but I wasn’t sure. Knowing, as I do, the lengths to which law enforcement personnel will go to exercise their power, I was concerned that they may find a way to twist the existing laws to paint my actions as criminal. I swear...not wanting to admit that I had done something monumentally stupid played no part in my response. I told the nurse "I was attacked by a deer". I did not mention that at the time I had a rope on it. The evidence was all over my body. Deer prints on the back of my jacket where it had stomped all over me, and a large deer print on my face where it had struck me there. I asked them to call somebody to come get me. I didn't think I could make it home on my own.

Later that afternoon, a game warden showed up at the ranch and wanted to know about the deer attack. Surprisingly, deer attacks are a rare thing and wildlife and parks was interested in the event. I tried to describe the attack as completely and accurately as I could. I was filling the grain hopper and this deer came out of nowhere and just started kicking the hell out of me and bit me. It was obviously rabid or insane or something.

<>Everybody, for miles around now knows about the deer attack.  For several weeks people dragged their kids in the house when they saw deer around and the local ranchers carried rifles when they fed. I have told several people the story, but never anybody around here. I have to see these people every day and as an outsider - a "city folk". I have enough trouble fitting in without them snickering behind my back and whispering "there is the idiot that tried to rope the deer."

 Geyser Bob

AROUND the turn of the century there were plenty of characters like old Geyser Bob in every Western community.  Too "stove up" to take their .place in the rigorous life around them, they eked out a living chopping firewood, swamping out saloons, or doing whatever odd chores they could lay a hand to.  
   Most of them, like Bob, were the perennial targets of the somewhat crude frontier humor, but the chances are that few of them ever managed to turn to turn are that few of them ever managed to turn the tables as neatly as he did. As a means of getting even with his tormentors, that berserk elk of Geyser Bob's was probably in a class all by itself.
  The winter of 1905-06 had been a bitter one in Montana, and Geyser Bob, a gnarled little banty rooster of a man, was "sitting out" the bad weather doing odd jobs around the Cottage Hotel in Yellowstone Park, in exchange for a little grub and the use of an empty cabin.
  When, shortly after the New Year, the skies opened and dumped three more feet of sticky wet snow on top of an already abundant supply, the old man developed a bitter attitude toward a snow shovel that wasn't helped any by the heavy-handed joshing of the hotel people and the soldiers from the Fort.                ^
  One morning got off to a particularly bad start when a couple of soldiers spent a busy hour kicking wet snow all over Bob's newly-shoveled walks, It didn't get any better when a group of drummers joined in the ensuing fracas, on the side of the soldiers.
  Forced to retire in poor order under a barrage of icy snowballs, Geyser Bob yearned for revenge.  If only he could come up with one good "josh" that would wipe out all the indignities heaped on him daring the long winter!        
  As he neared the end of the long walk in front of the hotel, the old man glimpsed movement in the shadows under the dark lodgepole pines beyond.
  "Now what?" he muttered. "What're those jokers up to now, out in the woods?"
  Then he saw this was no joker, but a large lean bull elk pawing for stray blades of grass under the deep snow.  It was probably the same half-starved animal whose tracks he'd noticed around the horse corral for nearly a week now. A man who knew only too well how hard an old fellow had to dig for his grub, Geyser Bob's sympathies were all with the hungry beast.
  "Just you stick around, Mr. Elk, till I finish this damn shoveling, and you won’t need to go scavenging fer a few wisps of hay this night," he muttered. "Danged if I'm not going to see you get a good bellyful of the company's hay to chew on."
  Maybe the old-fellows understood each other.  At any rate, when Bob got back to the lodge-pole pines with a big forkful of fodder, the elk drew off a few yards, but he was still waiting.  The old man scattered a few mouthfuls around, and then began to lay a trail up to the hotel.  Along the newly-shoveled walk, and up the steps, his trail led. Finally, in the corner farthest from the front door, Bob left a good night's feeding.

  "There you are, Elk," he said, "have one on the house.  And just let's see how those jokers like it when they come down for their evening's drinking and meet up with a full-grown elk on the front piazza." Leaning the fork against the wall, the old man headed for his cabin.  FOR a long time no one approached or; left the hotel.  As dusk drew on, Bob sat by his window, smoking and waiting.  At last be caught a movement in the pines, and a bit later made out the form of the elk as it moved out into the open, picking up the scattered hay.  Presently it was licking at the wisps scattered on the steps.
   "Now," whispered Geyser Bob fervently, "when some of those danged soldiers show up, we'll see who's most scared, them or the elk!"
   But no one came, and the animal began cautiously working up the steps. Finally it made it to the porch, and stood eating the hay in the corner there. Again Bob prayed for just one soldier to appear—or even a drummer—so he could watch what happened when the frightened bull plunged past him, down the steps.  But no one came and the elk, having found a comfortable camp, filled his belly and lay down in the hay pile.
   Bob returned from stoking the stove little later, to see three soldiers from Fort Yellowstone swinging up the path.  Anticipating the joys of a free evening, they were in a gay mood as they hurried toward the bar.  There was a quick commotion on the porch, and a yellow-brown apparition rose up before them on the steps.
With one accord the soldiers broke ranks and fled for the side door of the building.
   This was as much as Geyser Bob had hoped for.  But now the elk gave it that extra something that was to make the old man's revenge complete.  Instead of taking off for the woods as fast as his knobby big-jointed legs would carry him, Mr. Elk bounded off the porch and gave chase. As the three soldiers rounded the corner the animal stopped running but, instead of cutting for the timber, he returned to his bed en the porch.
   "You're crazy!" the barkeep told the three when they accused him of harboring vicious wild animals on the porch. “Where would I get an elk? What kind of Forty Rod have you boys been drinking anyhow?"
   "Bet you the drinks you aren't man enough to step out on the porch to see," one of the soldiers taunted.
   The barkeep stepped out quickly—and stepped back twice as fast. White-faced, he slammed home the bolt and stood listening to the thud of the big antlers against the door, as the elk served notice that the porch was his domain and he didn't welcome strangers.  Without a word, the bartender turned back to the bar and set out the drinks.
   Huntley Childs, owner of the hotel, and his friend, Roger Pryor, tried it next.  They made somewhat better time back around the building than the soldiers had; they had to, for the bull elk followed them clear around to the side door. Next came the assistant park superintendent, Joe DeBarr. Through the window they saw him approaching, caught his attention, and told him to circle around and come in the back door.  Joe did, but the elk was onto that one, too, and charged around the corner just as Joe dived into the woodshed.     Inside the barroom they held a council.
   "You reckon that animal's locoed?" somebody wanted to know.
   "Not likely. An old granddaddy elk is mighty mean-tempered and cantankerous once he makes up his mind to protect something be figures is rightfully his.  This one seems to have staked out his claim on that hay pile."
   "Who the blazes left it out there, anyhow?"
   "That's what I'd like to know, and I'd sure like to get my hands on him," the hotel's manager, Campbell, said.
   Someone came up with the suggestion that the elk, wearied with eating snow, must crave a drink of water to settle all that hay.  It seemed a reasonable surmise, so men jostled each other for vantage points in the windows while manager Campbell slipped out the side door with a big bucket of water from the kitchen well. The elk heard the door open and came pounding off the porch.
   Step by step Campbell advanced. "Here you are, boy," be soothed.   "Here's a nice warm drink of water. Come and get it."
  The elk came, with a rush.  Campbell tarried not, but jumped for the open door.  In seconds, all that remained of the big wooden bucket was the iron rin and the bail, which had somehow became entangled on the animal’s rack. Haughtily, the elk returned to his bed while Campbell went upstairs for dry clothing.
   "This is too much," De Barr said. "That elk is locoed. I'm going to call headquarters and get permission to shoot him.”  This was easier said than done. "What's the matter with you?" his boss roared, when De Barr phoned headquarters. "That hotel is within the boundaries of the park, isn't it?  And that elk is the property of the United States Government, isn't it? You can frighten it away, if you like, but under no circumstances is it to be harmed. I'll have the hide off anyone who takes a shot at it."
   The elk, however, was in no mood to he frightened out of his warm bed, so after considerable more cranking of the old wall telephone, a squad from Fort Yellowstone was dispatched to take over the task.  Smartly they marched down the road, their guns loaded with blanks. The elk heard them coming and stood up to watch the show.
   In the cabin Geyser Bob, who'd enjoyed his revenge but had been about to give it up in favor of a little sleep, tossed a couple more chunks of wood on the fire and decided to stick around a while longer too.
  The squad deployed to face the veranda.
  "Ready, aim fire!" barked the sergeant.
  The volley rattled the windows and made Mr. Elk shake his head until the bucket rim banged his forehead. Lightly he stepped to the veranda's edge and stood waiting.  The next volley brought him in one graceful leap to the ground.                  
   "We've got him now," the sergeant exulted. "Give him one more and he’ll head for the tall timber."
   A fourth volley rang out—and the elk made up his mind.  He charged, and the Army of the United States scattered like quail. His enemies dispersed, the elk ambled leisurely back to his bed.                .
   Periodically, as the night advanced, someone would open the side door.  Instantly there would be a clatter of hoofs and the bull elk would flash into view around the corner.  He had them cornered, and he knew it. No one cared to make a run for it to get away; the nearest shelter was too far and the snow too deep. The animal's temper seemed to grow shorter each time his rest was brokenly the necessity of having to chase his captives back indoors, so along about midnight Campbell finally gave up trying to close the bar and started assigning bed rooms.       "And since nobody is exactly free to leave," he said reluctantly, "I guess this time they'll have to be on the house."    During all the excitement of the night the old bull elk must have sprained a foreleg, for when dawn broke, cold and clear, he was observed limping morosely back into the forest.  Whether it was that, or whether he decided a little tame hay wasn't worth such a fracas, he never came back.
   Maybe he didn't have to.  Maybe, as some folks claimed, a lot of company hay disappeared that winter, usually about the time Geyser Bob made those mysterious treks of his back into the pines.  But that was well onto fifty years ago, and stories get a mite twisted in the years.
   But one thing all oldtimers around the Yellowstone will tell you for a fact: down-and-out and working for bed and board or not, Geyser Bob was probably the most respectfully treated man around the park that year.  Soldier or civilian, nobody ever dared josh the old man again.


 Montana is full of strange but true stories By Steven Gillman


This is a strange but true story from twenty-five years ago, when I was sixteen. I had just hitched a ride back out to Interstate 90 as the sun set. The night before I had been caught alone in the back country on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park, in a freak May blizzard. A grizzly bear pawed the ground outside my tent in the middle of the night. That is another story however.

This strange-but-true-story starts with my thumb out, as I stood on the side of the freeway ramp. There was snow on the lilac flowers, even here in the valley near Livingston. My tennis shoes were still wet from stumbling through the mountains earlier in the day. After an hour or more, a car finally pulled over. This is how I met Violet.

It was difficult to determine her age, but from the stories she told, I guessed she was in her fifties. She told me she was on her way home from her brother's trial in Bozeman. I asked her what he was on trial for, and she told me "He killed his girlfriend." In case I doubted her, she flipped over the newspaper on the seat and there she was on the front page, with the headline, "Sister Says He Should Be Hanged."

"He cut her up for no good reason," she added. Not knowing what to say, I said nothing. Although she seemed perfectly comfortable talking about it, she graciously changed the subject.

"Have a hard time getting a ride here?" she asked me. I told her I had. "That's because a few years back a man was killed by a hitchhiker on the highway down to Yellowstone," she explained. "They found the hitchhiker in the woods near the highway, roasting the man's heart over a fire."

"I guess that explains why it's hard to get rides here," I agreed.

She had only had trouble with a hitchhiker once, she told me. "He was even younger than you, and he pulled a knife on me and tried to rob me." I asked her what she did, and she replied casually, "I just pulled out my gun on him and told him he better behave if he wanted a ride." That seemed fair, I agreed.

She went on to tell me about the last time she was camping in Yellowstone, back in the fifties, when her husband was still alive. They saw a missile come out of the sky and hit a mountain, triggering an earthquake. Then army officials came and told everyone in the area that it was a matter of national security, and they couldn't say a word about it. I nodded and asked for a few more details.

Then came the story about the UFO. An alien spacecraft had hovered over them on another camping trip, picking up their trailer in a "tractor beam" and lifting it off the hitch, into the sky. It was dropped in a field nearby, and the sheriff, who was driving behind them at the moment saw the whole thing.

She generously let me spend the night at her house, in her brothers room. In the morning, before driving me back out to the freeway, she even offered to let me take any of her brothers clothes or cowboy boots, since, "He won't be needing them anymore." I declined.

Later that year, safely home in Michigan, I got a letter from Violet, wishing me a merry Christmas. She

had drawn a picture at the top of a dog in a spacesuit, which she labeled "Space Dog." In the meantime, I had discovered that there had been an earthquake in the Yellowstone area when she claimed they saw the missile, and it had been strong enough to form a new lake.

I still assumed the killer hitchhiker was at least an exaggeration. It wasn't. Years later all the grizzly details were in the news because they were letting the killer go free now that he was sane. The authorities were having a hard time finding a town to place him in.

I still haven't read or heard anything about an alien spacecraft that picks up camping trailers, but I'm waiting. Who knows? Montana is full of strange but true stories.






Chewing Black Bones, a respected Blackfeet elder, told Ella E. Clark the following creation myth in 1953. Clark later published the account in her book, Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies.

Old Man came from the south, making the mountains, the prairies, and the forests as he passed along, making the birds and the animals also. He traveled northward making things as he went, putting red paint in the ground here and there --arranging the world as we see it today.

He made the Milk River and crossed it; being tired, he went up on a little hill and lay down to rest. As he lay on his back, stretched out on the grass with his arms extended, he marked his figure with stones. You can see those rocks today, they show the shape of his body, legs, arms and hair.

Going on north after he had rested, he stumbled over a knoll and fell down on his knees. He said aloud, "You are a bad thing to make me stumble so." Then he raised up two large buttes there and named them the Knees. They are called the Knees to this day. He went on farther north, and with some of the rocks he carried with him he built the Sweet Grass Hills.

Old Man covered the plains with grass for the animals to feed on. He marked off a piece of ground and in it made all kinds of roots and berries to grow: camas, carrots, turnips, bitterroot, sarvisberries, bull-berries, cherries, plums, and rosebuds. He planted trees, and he put all kinds of animals on the ground.

When he created the bighorn sheep with its big head and horns, he made it out on the prairie. But it did not travel easily on the prairie; it was awkward and could not go fast. So Old Man took it by its horns, led it up into the mountain, and turned it loose. There the bighorn skipped about among the rocks and went up fearful places with ease. So Old Man said to it, "This is the kind of place that suits you; this is what you are fitted for, the rocks, and the mountains."

While he was in the mountains, he made the antelope out of dirt and turned it loose to see how it would do. It ran so fast that it fell over some rocks and hurt itself. Seeing that the mountains were not the place for it, Old Man took the antelope down to the prairie and turned it loose. When he saw it running away fast and gracefully, he said, "This is what you are suited to, the broad prairie."

One day Old Man decided that he would make a woman and a child. So he formed them both of clay, the woman and the child, her son.

After he had molded the clay in human shape, he said to it,"You must be people." And then he covered it up and went away. The next morning he went to the place, took off the covering, looked at the images, and said "Arise and walk." They did so. They walked down to the river with their maker, and then he told them that his name was NAPI, Old Man.

This is how we came to be people. It is he who made us.

The first people were poor and naked, and they did not know how to do anything for themselves. Old Man showed them the roots and berries and said "You can eat these." Then he pointed to certain trees, "When the bark of these trees is young and tender, it is good. Then you can peel it off and eat it."

He told the people that the animals also should be their food. "These are your herds," he said. "All these little animals that live on the ground -- squirrels, rabbits, skunks, beavers, are good to eat. You need not fear to eat their flesh. All the birds that fly, these too, I have made for you, so that you can eat of their flesh."

Old Man took the first people over the prairies and through the forests, then the swamps to show them the different plants he had created. He told them what herbs were good for sicknesses, saying often, "The root of this herb or the leaf of this herb, if gathered in a certain month of the year, is good for certain sickness." In that way the people learned the power of all herbs. Then he showed them how to make weapons with which to kill the animals for their food. First, he went out and cut some sarvisberry shoots, brought them in, and peeled the bark off them. He took one of the larger shoots, flattened it, tied a string to it, and thus made a bow. Then he caught one of the birds he had made, took feathers from its wing, split them, and tied them to a shaft of wood.

At first he tied four feathers along the shaft, and with this bow sent the arrow toward its mark. But he found that it did not fly well. When he used only three feathers, it went straight to the mark. Then he went out and began to break sharp pieces off the stones. When he tied them at the ends of his arrows, he found that the black flint stones, and some white flint, made the best arrow points.

When the people had learned to make bow and arrows, Old Man taught them how to shoot animals and birds. Because it is not healthful to eat animals' flesh raw, he showed the first people how to make fire. He gathered soft, dry rotten driftwood and made a punk of it. Then he found a piece of hard wood and drilled a hole in it with an arrow point. He gave the first man a pointed piece of hard wood and showed him how to roll it between his hands until sparks came out and the punk caught fire. Then he showed the people how to cook the meat of the animals they had killed and how to eat it.

He told them to get a certain kind of stone that was on the land, while he found a harder stone. With the hard stone he had them hollow out the softer one and so make a kettle. Thus, they made their dishes.

Old Man told the first people how to get spirit power: "Go away by yourself and go to sleep. Something will come to you in your dream that will help you. It may be some animal. Whatever this animal tells you in your sleep, you must do. Obey it. Be guided by it. If later you want help, if you are traveling alone and cry aloud for help, your prayer will be answered. It may be by an eagle, perhaps by a buffalo, perhaps by a bear. Whatever animal hears your prayer you must listen to it."

That was how the first people got along in the world, by the power given to them in their dreams.

After this, Old Man kept on traveling north. Many of the animals that he had created followed him. They understood when he spoke to them, and they were his servants. When he got to the north point of the Porcupine Mountains, he made some more mud images of people, blew his breath upon them, and they became people, men and women. They asked him, "What are we to eat?"

By way of answer, Old Man made many images of clay in the form of buffalo. Then he blew breath upon them and they stood up. When he made signs to them, they started to run. Then he said to the people, "Those animals--buffalo--are your food."

"But how can we kill them?" the people asked.

"I will show you," he answered.

He took them to a cliff and told them to build rock piles: "Now hide behind these piles of rocks," he said. "I will lead the buffalo this way. When they are opposite you, rise up."

After telling them what to do, he started toward the herd of buffalo. When he called the animals, they started to run toward him, and they followed him until they were inside the piles of rock. Then Old Man dropped back. As the people rose up, the buffalo ran in a straight line and jumped over the cliff.

"Go down and take the flesh of those animals," said Old Man.

The people tried to tear the limbs apart, but they could not. Old Man went to the edge of the cliff, broke off some pieces with sharp edges, and told the people to cut the flesh with these rocks. They obeyed him. When they had skinned the buffalo, they set up some poles and put the hides on them. Thus they made a shelter to sleep under.

After Old Man had taught the people all these things, he started off again, traveling north until he came to where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet. There he made some more people and taught them the same things. From there he went farther north. When he had gone almost to the Red Deer River, he was so tired that he lay down on a hill. The form of his body can be seen there yet, on the top of the hill where he rested.

When he awoke from his sleep, he traveled farther north until he came to a high hill. He climbed to the top of it and there he sat down to rest. As he gazed over the country, he was greatly pleased by it. Looking at the steep hill below him, he said to himself, "This is a fine place for sliding. I will have some fun." And he began to slide down the hill. The marks where he slid are to be seen yet, and the place is known to all the Blackfeet tribes as "Old ManŐs Sliding Ground."

Old Man can never die. Long ago he left the Blackfeet and went away toward the west, disappearing in the mountains. Before he started, he said to the people, "I will always take care of you, and some day I will return."

Even today some people think that he spoke the truth and that when he comes back he will bring with him the buffalo, which they believe the white men have hidden. Others remember that before he left them he said that when he returned he would find them a different people. They would be living in a different world, he said, from that which he had created for them and had taught them to live in.


The Sacred Weed of the Blackfeet Indians
For longer than anyone knows, Indians throughout the americas have smoked tobacco and other plants for pleasure and for praying.
 To the white man, smoking became an addiction, but to the Native American, pipe and tobacco were sacred and smoking was a holy ritual. A man who had killed a member of his own tribe could not smoke ritually with the others. The mountainous area where some of the Diamond 'P' Ranch half day rides go have patches of Indian Tobacco, ask your guide to show it to you!


   There once were four brothers, all spiritual men who had power. In a vision the oldest of them heard a voice saying: "Out there is a sacred weed; pick it and burn it." The man looked around, saw the strange weed, and put it the fire. It gave off a very pleasant aroma  .

   Then the second brother had a dream in which a voice said: "Take this herb. Chop it fine. Put it a hide bag." The man did what he was told, and the dry herb in his hide bag was wonderfully fragrant.

   The third brother had a vision in which he saw a man hollowing out a bone and putting the strange weed into it. A voice said: "Make four pipes like this," and the third brother carved four pipes out of animal's leg bone's.

   Then the youngest of the four brothers had a vision. A voice told him: "You four men light your pipes and smoke. inhale the smoke; exhale it. Let the smoke ascend to the clouds." The voice also taught him the songs and prayers that went along with smoking.

   So the four medicine men, born of the same mother, smoked together.

   This was the first time men had ever smoked , and they sang and prayed together as they did so.

   The brothers,  who called the sacred weed  nawak'osis, were meant to teach its use to the people. But nawak'osis made them powerful and wise and clear-minded, and they did not want to share it eith the others. They planted the sacred weed in a sacred place that only they knew.They guarded the songs and the prayers and rituals that went with the smoking. They formed a Tobacco Society, just the four of them.

So there was anger, there was ware, there was restlessness of spirit, there was impiety. Nawak'osis was meant to calm anger, to make men worship, to make peace, to ease the mind. But without the sacred herb, unity and peace were lacking.

A young man called Bull-By-Himself said to his wife: " These four powerful ones have been given a good thing tro share with the people, but they are keeping it for themselves. So things are bad. I must find a way to plant and reap the sacred weed they call nawak'osis."

   Bull-By-Himself and his wife went to the sacred lake and set up there tipi's next to its shore. The man left every day to hunt and look for the plant nawak'osis. The woman stayed in the lodge to quill, tan, and prepare food. One day while she was alone, she heard someone singing beautifully. She searched everywhere to find the sorce of the music and discovered that it was coming from a beaver house close by the shore." It must be the beavers singing" she thought. " There songs are lovely.I hope they don't stop."

   Though her husband came home with plenty of meat, he had not found nawak'osis . The woman called his attention to thee music, but he said, " I  hear nothing, it's your imagination."

   " No," she said, " I can hear it clearly. put your ear to the beaver house." He did, but still heard nothing.

   Then the wife took her knife and made a hole in the beaver lodge. Through it they could not only hear the beavers sing, but also watch them performing a strange, but beautiful dance.

" My young brothers," the wife called to them, " be of a sharing spirit. Teach me your wonderful song and your medicine!"

   The Beavers answered: close the hole you have made, because it lets the cold in. Then we'll come out and visit you." So she sealed their wall up, and that night four beavers to Bull-By-Himself's lodge. As  soon as they were inside they turned themselves into humans---four nice looking young men. One asked: " what have you come here for?" " I have come," said Bull-By-Himself," to find the sacred weed called nawak'osis."

   "Then this is the right place," said the man beavers. " We are water people, and nawak'osis  is water medicine. We will give you this sacred herb, but first you must learn the songs, the prayers, the dances, the ceremonies that go with it."

   " Ther are four powerful men in  our tribe," said Bull-By-Himself, "who have the medicine and the knowledge, but keep them from us."

   "Ah," said the man-beavers, " that is wrong. this sacred weed is made to be shared. here is what you must do. By day,  go out and get the skin of every four legged creature in and around the water-except, of coarse, beaver.  You must get the skins of the muskrat and otter, of bthe duck and kingfisher, of all creatures like that, because they represent water. Sun and water mean life. Sun begets life and water makes it grow."

So every day  Bull-By-Himself  went out for the skins, while his wife scraped, tanned, and smoked them. And every night the four man-beavers came to teach them the prayerss, songs, and dances that go with nawak'osis. After awhile the beavers said: " Now all is ready. Now you have all the skins, and now you have the knowledge. Make the skins, which represaent water power, into a bag, into a medicine bundle. Tomorrow night we will come again for the last time to tell you what to do."

   The following night the beavers came as they had promised. They brought with them the sacred weed nawak'osis. The top of the stalks was covered with little round seeds, and the man-beavers put the seeds in the the medicine bundle the woman had prepared.

   "It's planting time now," said the beavers." Don't touch nawak'osis before you're ready to plant. Choose a place where there is not to much shade and not to much sun light. Mix plenty of brown earth, with plenty of black earth, and keep the soil loose. Say the prayers we have taught you. Then you, Bull-By-Himself, must take a deer horn and with its point make holes in the earth-one hole for each seed. And you, his wife, must use a buffalo horn spoon to drop one seed into each hole. Keep singing the songs we taught you all the while. Then both of you dance lightly over this earth, tamping down the seeds. After that you just wait for nawak'osis to grow. Now we have taught you everything. Now we go." The nice-looking young men left, turning back into beavers as they went.

   Bull-By-Hinself and his wife planted the sacred weed as they had been told. The four medicine-men  brothers said to one another: " What can this man, Bull-By-Himself  and his wife be planting? their songs sound familar." They sent somebody to find out , and this person came back saying: " They're planting nawak'osis , doing it in a sacred manner."

   The four powerful men began to laugh. " No, it can't be. It's some useless weed they're planting. No one but us can plant nawak'osis. No one but us, can use it. No one but us, has its power."

   But when it was time to harvest nawak'osis, a great hail storm destroyed the secret tobacco patch of the four medicine brothers. Nothing was left, and they had saved a single seed. They said to each other: " Perhaps this man and his wife did plant nawak'osis after all. Perhaps the hail hasn't destroyed their tobacco patch."

   Again the four brothers sent someone to find out, and that person came back saying: "This man and his wife had no hail on their field. Here is what they've been growing." He showed the brothers some leaves. "It is indeed nawak'osis," they said, shaking their heads in wonder.

   Thus with the help of the beaver people, Bull-By-Himself and his wife brought the sacred tobacco to the tribes, who have been smoking it ever since.


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