Historical Events

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The trappers live a good life surviving off of the fat animals they are able to hunt. They "began to slay and eat but we slayed so much faster than we eat that our meat scaffolds groaned under the weight of fat buffaloe meat." Mountaineers couldn't rely on civilized food for long, showing that the carnivore diet was a necessity in these lands.

February 28, 1836

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Journal of a Trapper

Man The Fat Hunter

Osborne Russell

Shortly after leaving this resemblance of the infernal regions we killed a fat buck Elk and camped at Sunset in a smooth grassy spot between two high shaggy ridges watered by a small stream which came tumbling down the gorge behind us. As we had passed the infernal regions we thought as a matter of course these must be a commencement of the Elysian fields and accordingly commenced preparing a feast. A large fire was soon blazing encircled with sides of Elk ribs and meat cut in slices supported on sticks down which the grease ran in torrents The repast being over the jovial tale goes round the circle the peals of loud laughter break upon the stillness of the night which after being mimicked in the echo from rock to rock it dies away in the solitary [gloom]. Every tale puts an auditor in mind of something similar to it but under different circumstances which being told the "laughing part" gives rise to increasing merriment and furnishes more subjects for good jokes and witty sayings such as Swift never dreamed of Thus the evening passed with eating drinking and stories enlivened with witty humor until near Midnight all being wrapped in their blankets lying around the fire gradually falling to sleep one by one until the last tale is "encored" by the snoring of the drowsy audience The Speaker takes the hint breaks off the subject and wrapping his blanket more closely about him soon joins the snoring party - The light of the fire being supersed by that of the Moon just rising from behind the Eastern Mountain a sullen gloom is cast over the remaining fragments of the feast and all is silent except the occasional howling of the solitary wolf on the neighboring mountain whose senses are attracted by the flavors of roasted meat but fearing to approach nearer he sits upon a rock and bewails his calamities in piteous moans which are re-echoed among the Mountains.


The country lying on this stream is mostly comprised of high rolling ridges thickly clothed with grass and herbage and crowded with imense bands of Buffaloe intermingled with bands of antelope Sepr. 1st We returned to the Camp which we found at the mouth of this stream where we found also 10 Delaware Indians who had joined the camp in order to hunt Beaver with greater security. 2d Travelled down the Yellow Stone river about 20 Mls. This is a beautiful country the large plains widely extending on either side of the river intersected with streams and occasional low spurs of Mountains whilst thousands of Buffaloe may be seen in almost every direction and Deer Elk and Grizzly bear are abundant. The latter are more numerous than in any other part of the mountains. Owing to the vast quantities of cherries plums and other wild fruits which this section of country affords In going to visit my traps a distance of 3 or 4 mils early in the morning I have frequently seen 7 or 8 standing about the clumps of Cherry bushes on their hind legs gathering cherries with surprising dexterity not even deigning to turn their Grizzly heads to gaze at the passing trapper but merely casting a sidelong glance at him without altering their position.


The small streams being frozen trapping was suspended and all collected to winters quarters where were Thousands of fat Buffaloe feeding in the plains and we had nothing to do but slay and eat.


The snow was about inches deep and the weather clear and cold we took seven loose animals to pack meat and travelled up Clarks fork about 12 Mls killed a cow and encamped.


28th Feb, 1836 we left our winter quarters on the Yellow Stone and Started for the Big horn the snow being 6 inches deep on an average we travelled slowly and reached it in eight days at the mouth of "Bovy fork" about 15 Mls below the lower Big horn mountain and then began to Slay and eat but we slayed so much faster than we eat that our meat scaffolds groand under the weight of fat buffaloe meat.


Sheep Elk Deer Buffaloe and Bear Skins mostly supply the Mountaineers with clothing bedding and lodges while the meat of the same animals supplies them with food. They have not the misfortune to get any of the luxuries from the civilized world but once a year and then in such small quantities that they last but a few days.


July 5th a party arrived from the States with supplies. The cavalcade consisting of 45 men and 20 Carts drawn by Mules under the direction of Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick accompanied by Capt. Wm. Stewart on another tour to the Rocky Mountains. Joy now beamed in every countenance Some received letters from their friends and relations Some received the public papers and news of the day others consoled themselves with the idea of getting a blanket a Cotton Shirt or a few pints of Coffee and sugar to sweeten it just by way of a treat gratis that is to say by paying 2,000 percent on the first cost by way of accommodation for instance Sugar 2$ pr pint Coffee the same Blankets 20$ each Tobacco 2$ pr pound alcohol 4$ pr pint and Common Cotton Shirts 5$ each etc And in return paid 4 or 5$ pr pound for Beaver.