Autobiography of Ralph John Wesley Howard


(Page 23)

We made the grade finally. The days shortened up according to habit and if we reached the haystacks and loaded two loads on and tumbled down those hills before dark we didnít have any time to waste. Finally, I thought about the coyotes, I hadnít seen any. Then about two miles down the valley and 75 years from the road, I saw a badgerís head protruding from his hole. A badger hide might make a good start on a fur collection of some value. I got the team stopped and completed the arrangement for the fur collection. When I shot, Frank stopped his team until I secured my fur, all but the skinning and cleaning. Our next stop was the haystack, twelve oíclock sharp, and for dinner raw badger and hayÖ no melon. We loaded and were back at the ranch by dark. How we ever got down them hills without up setting, Iíll never know. I know I was never any worse scared in all my life. When we got the hay hauled, the boss wanted us to cut his winters wood. Three miles up the valley was a patch of fire killed poplar, dry enough to burn real good. We moved Frankís tent and bed and stove up there and commenced to cutting. We cut about ten cords up in stove lengths. Mrs. Smart planned to go east to spend the winter with relatives. About four days before she was due to leave, Mr. Smart wanted us to go out and get some wild meat for winter use. We saddled up and started up the river about 15 miles to a vacant summer camp, shack, corrals and stable. For grub, we took salt and about two pounds of rolled oats. We got a late start and followed the high ground along the edge of the valley. It was a cold windy day and we had to face the wind. When we got within three miles of camp, Frank stopped and said, "Iíve got a bunch spotted". I asked where and he said up the valley and across the river. I looked and couldnít see a thing. He said, "On that flat near the river at the upper end". I looked and could just see a tinge of brown it was two miles away. We hurried on to camp, put the horses in the stable and ate a handful of raw rolled oats Ö still no melons. We took our 30-30ís and crossed the river on the ice that reached across the places, there was plenty of open water, but we followed along down the flat. We couldnít see any antelope but there were tracks of about fifty of them. They had started up a coulee that came in from the north. We followed about a mile and came upon them lying down in the head of the coulee. We couldnít approach closer than two hundred yards without being seen. This was our limit of range figuring trajectory. We were both lying down, rifles resting on an elbow.

I was ready and waiting for Frank to shoot first, and Iíll admit itís possible I had a bit of what they call buck fever. Franks rifle clicked a mute shell and mine declared a clean miss! The antelope were up in a flash computing distance with their feet putting down zero and carrying four. But before they faded from view, behind the nearest rise, two shots bade them, good-bye. We followed to higher ground for a parting view

The Howard Clan webpages were submitted by Patrick K. Best The Howard Clan were some of the original homesteaders of the North Bend District. It is hoped that you and many more people enjoy this history that this clan went through everyday to strive to live and provide a great part in making the history of Saskatchewan come alive.

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