My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
The boys in camp heard the thunder of the herd and came out. We ran the cattle into a circle, making the circle smaller until they were milling. Then we rode back a little and whistled and sang softly until they got over their fright and scattered and stopped. The boss stated that all hands were to be on until morning. In the morning, the boss said, “We won’t move this morning.”
I was curious to see the ground we had been over the night before, so I said to my night partner, “Let’s go and see where we were last night.” We did and say, when I saw where he had gone on the run in the dark, it scared me, as actually it was dangerous to go through it in the daytime. In that kind of work, one thinks of himself last. His mind is on his work only. If those cattle would have gotten away, it would have necessitated another round-up and my possibly looking for another job.
We herded the cattle night and day letting them get thoroughly filled up again. Then we moved slowly on to the shipping point. We had to swim the Yellowstone river with the cattle. The river was high so we had quite a time. We only got about half the cattle across the first day.
The boss said, “Half the night tonight, boys.” We had a herd on each side of the river to hold that night. I had been rowing a boat all day to take the cattle across after they were in swimming water. We took bunches of possibly fifty head at a trip. I was tired, but the first half I managed to keep awake until twelve o’clock. We were camped in the timber. When I came in from guard, I just tied my horse to a tree, unrolled my bed, and fell on top of it with boots, spurs, and all.
The next morning, we finished crossing the cattle. We held them for a few days to rest before shipping. We had the usual wild west scenes at the stockyards, and shipped by way of the Northern Pacific. They had what they called streets cars for stock. They had three sections partitioned by gates. We had to load one third of a car at a time. It was necessary for two boys to manipulate those gates.
I was in the car with another boy, and someone made a mistake thinking that we had said “All right.” A section of cattle were let in. Well, of course, when they got to the car door and saw us in there, they immediately proceeded to start something. In fact, they started for us. My partner went up through the side door and I went out of the end door. I no more than got in the clear when the steer’s horns went “Bang!” where I had just been.
After we had shipped the cattle, the boys celebrated and went back to the home ranch. The next day the boss gave us our checks for the summer, and told me I was to be the winter man which meant $40.00 per month and nothing much to do but a little chores and a few errands.
My first job was to take a four-horse outfit and go to Glendive for our winter’s grub stake. Then I took a team and wagon and went to the river where the water had washed out coal. I broke it up and hauled enough for the winter. Then I got a few loads of wood for kindling.
I and another man who was a good deer hunter went over in the Cottonwood creek hills to hunt. We got there about noon and camped at an old shack. We went out into the hills where the Black Tail deer were. My partner, Shorty Wilson, and I had a real half day of it. When we got our deer in the wagon, there were eleven in all. We poisoned the entrails so that we would get some wolves. That night the grey timber wolves howled all night.
We went out in the morning thinking we would make a real haul, but we got not a wolf. Those fellows prefer to kill their own meat.
We took the deer back to the ranch and hung them up on a meat pole which was kept for that purpose. Then we went out and butchered a nice fat steer and hung it up. It seems like lots of meat, but many visitors came around in the winter, and we lived well.