The Old Wolf of West Fork
by Christine Stephens
“This reminds me,” said Lieutenant Hale, “of thetime I was out in the ‘Bunch Grass’ country, herdingsheep for my brother—your Uncle Holman, boys.”Lieutenant Hale was stopping in Northern Georgiawith a sister, during the holidays, and his nephews,with two or three of the neighbors’ boys, had been ona hunt—a successfulone it proved—after a wolf which had been committingmany depredationsamong the poultry,lambs and sheepduring the year.The creature had been wonderfullyexpert in eluding all pursuit, but at lasthad been capturedafter a long and baf-ﬂing chase.“I was seventeenthen,” continuedLieutenant Hale.“My brother wasﬁfteen years older than I — he beingthe oldest of a largefamily, while I wasthe youngest. He had at ﬁrst gone to Kansas and taken upland, accumulating quite a property. Then being possessedto become a wealthy ranchman, he grew discontented, and pulled up stakes, as the saying goes, and moved on to Or-egon, taking up a range on the West Fork of Fall River, whosesource is in the neigh boring Cascade Range.“This section of country lies in low ridges, their southernextremities being far down in the Blue Mountains and Cas-cades, and ending only with the valley of the Columbia. Be-tween these ridges, in the ‘bottoms,’ run quite rapid streams,though fordable at almost any place, ex-cept at sea-sons when the snowis melting from the mountains,or during freshets.“The soil inthe ‘bottoms’is rich, and the pioneers gener-ally settle so asto control as muchriver as possible, for the scarcity of water inthat region is one greatdrawback to settling for cultivating the land. Thereis scarcely any timber, ei-ther; no forests in the val-leys, save scrub birch and hawthornon the creeks. Fire-wood and lum- ber are hauled from the mountains,a distance of from ten to ﬁfty miles,according to the situation of theranch.“My brother’s range ran alongthe Fork for some distance, andthen back among the brown hills.Quantities of bunch grass — a tall,coarse, but sweet and exceedinglynutritious herbage, growing intufts, and taking its name from this peculiarity — made ﬁne grazing.It is a synonym in the West for allthat is strong and good and rich. Bunch-grass beef is consid-ered the tenderest, bunch-grass ponies are the ﬂeetest, and a bunch-grass man is superior in every respect to his less fa-vored brother pioneer.
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Volume 3, No. 6 June 2010 420 Weaver Rd., Millersburg, PA 17061 Cover Price $3.00
“AT THE FIRST THRUST, THE ANIMAL LEAPED OUT, UPSETTING ME COMPLETELY.”