Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

Abernethy the Wolf Hunter

Colorado Springs, Colorado,
April 20, 1905.

I do wish you could have been along on this trip. It has been great fun. In Oklahoma our party got all told seventeen coyotes with the greyhounds. I was in at the death of eleven, the only ones started by the dogs with which I happened to be. In one run the three Easterners covered themselves with glory, as Dr. Lambert, Roly Fortescue and I were the only ones who got through excepting Abernethy, the wolf hunter. It happened because it was a nine-mile run and all the cowboys rode their horses to a standstill in the first three or four miles, after which I came bounding along, like Kermit in the paper chase, and got to the end in time to see the really remarkable feat of Abernethy jumping on to the wolf, thrusting his gloved hand into its mouth, and mastering it then and there. He never used a knife or a rope in taking these wolves, seizing them by sheer quickness and address and thrusting his hand into the wolf’s mouth in such a way that it lost all power to bite. You would have loved Tom Burnett, the son of the big cattle man. He is a splendid fellow, about thirty years old, and just the ideal of what a young cattle man should be.

Up here we have opened well. We have two cracker jacks as guides—John Goff, my old guide on the mountain lion hunt, and Jake Borah, who has somewhat the Seth Bullock type of face. We have about thirty dogs, including one absurd little terrier about half Jack’s size, named Skip. Skip trots all day long with the hounds, excepting when he can persuade Mr. Stewart, or Dr. Lambert, or me to take him up for a ride, for which he is always begging. He is most affectionate and intelligent, but when there is a bear or lynx at bay he joins in the fight with all the fury of a bull dog, though I do not think he is much more effective than one of your Japanese mice would be. I should like to bring him home for Archie or Quentin. He would go everywhere with them and would ride Betsy or Algonquin.

On the third day out I got a fine big black bear, an old male who would not tree, but made what they call in Mississippi a walking bay with the dogs, fighting them off all the time. The chase lasted nearly two hours and was ended by a hard scramble up a canyon side; and I made a pretty good shot at him as he was walking off with the pack around him. He killed one dog and crippled three that I think will recover, besides scratching others. My 30-40 Springfield worked to perfection on the bear.

I suppose you are now in the thick of your studies and will have but little time to rest after the examinations. I shall be back about the 18th, and then we can take up our tennis again. Give my regards to Matt.

I am particularly pleased that Maurice turned out so well. He has always been so pleasant to me that I had hoped he would turn out all right in the end.