1881: Getting wood at the Bridger Creek

The farmer and I were on a first-name basis. Here, the overall interaction among the Germans was generally very familiar. Therefore, addressing someone the formal way was excluded. One day, August Gottschalk – only named “Dutch Gus” by the Americans – had hitched up the covered wagon in order to collect logs which were suitable as scraping-trees and other equipment for the tannery. We drove through the valley of the Bridger Creek until we arrived at its spring about 15 miles away. Not far from the farm the path winds along the creek side through a tight gate in the rocks, here the valley becomes wider again.

After barely two hours we arrived at an abandoned old mill, close to which we set up our bivouac. After we had tied down the horses, both of us separately explored the hillslopes. I soon found a fresh print of a bear, which I followed along for a while. My bullet supply only consisted of eight bullets. The farmer had warned of shooting a bear, which required a high amount of calmness and marksmen-ship. Most of which the shooters lose once they see a Grizzly. As I was thinking about that, a flock of chickens came close towards me. I shot one chicken which had flown into a tree and took it to the wagon. This caused jealously in the hunting-experienced farmer who came back empty handed.  He disdained to grill the chicken at night over the fire. Therefore we had to make do with the supply we had brought.

At night – the fire was still burning – we kept our conversation going for a while due to the wild animals, I heard a noise from the wagon. I made the farmer aware of it. “A skunk” he said, “We have to be very quiet otherwise it will leave us with a horrible smell”. The next day we picked out some logs which were suited for my usage. We fell them and loaded them into the wagon in order to go back to the farm in the afternoon. I handed the prairie chicken to Mrs. Gottschalk who prepared it for dinner. The farmer, however, did not take a bite of it.

translated by Julia Strehlau-Jacobs

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