May 20, 1838
More excerpts from the Journal of a Trapper describe how important fatty meat is to the trapper hunters. When they had "wood water meat and dry grass to sleep on" they were quite happy. "I want to see you slay the fat Cows and eat."
Journal of a Trapper
I then went in search of rock in order to heat it and melt snow in my hat but I could not find so much as a pebble so we kindled a little fire of sage and sat down with a piece of Mutton in one hand and a piece of snow in the other eating meat and snow in this manner mad out our suppers and laid down to shake tremble and suffer with the cold till day light when we started and travelled as fast as our wearied limbs would permit in the same direction we had travelled the day before descending a gradual slope towards the head of powder river until near night when finding some water standing in a puddle with large quantities of dry sage about it we killed a Bull near by taking his skin for a bed and some of the best meat for supper passed the night very comfortable.
We reached the Bulls about an hour after dark Allen crawled close to them shot and killed one took off the skin and some of the meat whilst myself and the others were groping around in the dark hunting a few bits of Sage and weeds to make a fire and after repeated unsuccessful exertions we at last kindled a blaze. We had plenty of water under over and all around us but could not find a stick for fuel bigger than a mans thumb. We sat down round the fire with each holding a piece of beef over it on a stick with one hand while the other was employed in keeping up the blaze by feeding it with wet sage and weeds until the meat was warmed thro. when it was devoured with an observation that "Bull Meat was dry eating when cooked too much." After supper (if I may be allowed to disgrace the term by applying it to such a Wolfish feast).
We travelled til about noon when we fell in with large bands of Buffaloe and seeing the red Butes about 5 or 6 ms ahead we killed two fat cows and took as much of the Meat as we could conveniently carry and travelled to the Platte where we arrived about the middle of the afternoon weary and fatigued. Here we had plenty of wood water meat and dry grass to sleep on, and taking everything into consideration we thought ourselves comfortably situated - comfortably I say for mountaineers not for those who never repose on anything but a bed of down or sit or recline on anything harder than Silken cushions for such would spurn at the idea of a Hunter's talking about comfort and happiness but experience is the best Teacher hunger good Sauce and I really think to be acquainted with misery contributes to the enjoyment of happiness and to know ones self greatly facilitates the Knowledge of Mankind - One thing I often console myself with and that is the earth will lie as hard upon the Monarch as it will on a Hunter and I have no assurance that it will lie upon me at all, my bones may in a few years or perhaps days be bleaching on the plains in these regions like many of my occupation without a friend to turn even a turf upon them after a hungry wolf has finished his feast.
After an hours dumb conversation a dish of roasted Buffaloe tongues was set before me accompanied by a large cake made of dried meat and fruit pounded together mixed up with Buffaloe marrow. It is considered an insult by an Indian for a Stranger whether White man or Indian to return any part of the food which is set before him to eat: If there is more than he wishes to eat at one time he must to avoid giving offense take the remainder with him when he leaves the lodge It is their general custom to set the Vituals their lodge affords before a stranger to eat.
Well: "Nearly all of my Men are French and but little company for me and I want to see you slay the fat Cows and eat."
This section of Country which is called the "black hills" has always been celebrated for the game with which it abounds I passed most of my time hunting Black Tailed deer among the hills on foot, which has always been my favorite sport One day as myself and one of my fellow hunters were travelling thro. the hills coming toward us at full speed. We stopped and they passed within 80 yds of us without making a halt we Shot the charges that were in our rifles loaded and Shot 2 more each before they had all passed by. As the hindmost were passing I could see the foremost passing over a ridge covered with snow more than 3 miles distant apparently at the same rate they had passed by us. They made a trail about 30 paces wide and went in as compact a body as they could consistently They consisted mostly of females.
On the 7th of Feby we reached the encampment all in good health fine spirits and with full stomachs Here we found the Camp living on the fat of the land The bottoms along Powder river were crowded with Buffaloe insomuch that it was difficult keeping them from among the horses who were fed upon Sweet Cottonwood bark as the buffaloe had consumed everything in the shape of grass along the river