Honesty and Integrity, Up Close and Personal


The Honesty of Yesterday

The outfitter told me I'd be taking out an older hunter, to be careful not to over do the hunting and to keep a close watch over him in case he needed to come in early. Whenever there was an unusual hunter, I was chosen to be his or her guide. I didn't mind, it was a compliment actually; however, rather than thinking of myself as special, I figured I was more likely to remember and follow instructions than the other guides.

There were a bunch of young hunters in their thirties and forties, they were dressed in the latest from the big outdoor shops and they were excited about going on the hunt. They already had several days worth of whiskers, to have “the look” out in the mountains. Personally, the whiskers drive me nuts, but if whiskers made their hunt more enjoyable, then grow some damn whiskers.

I saw an older guy with white hair standing all alone. He wasn't talking about killing Grizzlies and Elk, like the other hunters, he was just waiting silently for me, standing next to his gear. He was thin enough that he might need to run around in the shower to get wet, but he had that hardened look of a man who could take his share and give you back more than you wanted. “Are you Carl?” He shook his head yes. “I'm Skook, I'll get us some horses, do you need a special kind of horse?”

He looked me directly in the eye, with a cold blue eyed stare and said, “Young with a bit of life and not too wide in the back. Should be a sure footed mare that can move fast and smooth with rythym, without being scared of every little thing.”

Whoa now, that was a different request; I started to ask him if he was referring to a woman or a horse, but you can't count on everyone appreciating my sense of humor. Most men who know horses ride geldings, horses are much simpler without the huevos. There are a few mare men born every so often and they are a bit different from your average road apple; I knew all about this type of guy, both me and Barb Wire Johnny are Mare men. You see mares are the natural whole animal. Some are aggressive and mean, most are super aware of their surroundings and refuse to trifle with lesser human beings who lack the measure of horsemanship they require. Carl seemed to have the knowledge and skill of a mare man and I was going to give him what he asked for, if it didn't work out, I'd put him on a different horse, but I figured he could handle the filly I had picked out. He'd be plowing a furrow with his nose if he was overstating his abilities.

There was a four year old paint filly in the corral; I'd ridden her, she handled like an expensive sports car (not that I had ever driven one), but she had way too much gas for most riders.

She was worried and confused with the guides catching other horses and shooing her away when she came near. I threw a loop around her neck. She stopped and turned to look at the man (me) who had just caught her. I was in no hurry, I looked her in the eye for a few seconds and then looked at the ground for another 30 seconds. She became curious and stretched her nose out towards me to get a sniff from thirty feet away. She took a couple of tentative steps toward me. Without looking at her, I walked toward her and stopped about six feet away. She really had her curiosity aroused by now. I looked at the guys, as they asked me what the Hell I was doing. I replied with a grin and said my hunter wanted a horse with a bit of spirit, they looked at me like I was nuts. Nothing new about that, in their world anyone who communicated with a horse like me and Barbwire Johnny was a few points off center in the head. That's okay, horses for them were a struggle, for me and Johnnie it was often effortless or made to look that way.

I put a leather halter on the filly with the standard six foot lead shank. I stood directly in from of her about a foot away and looked her in the eye. I stepped into her and she stepped back; we were well on our way. I kept the lead rope draped over my finger like a slack rein and began to exaggerate the movement of my body to get her to respond. Two steps forward two steps back, she was moving with me and responding well. Her eyes were now trained on me and watching my every move. I walked toward her near (Left) side ribs just behind the shoulder she turned on the forehand and stepped over behind with the left hind foot crossing over in front of the right hind foot. Oh my, she moved like a ballerina naturally. I swapped sides and had her doing the same thing from the offside. Turning on the hind quarters is much easier and in twenty minutes she was loosened up and ready to be ridden. I led her through the corral with the lead shank draped over my index finger to show off to the guys. They stopped and watched me in silence. I halted in the middle of the corral and her pirouette on the hind quarters by following the lead of my finger with the slack lead shank.

We walked out of the corral and I asked Carl if he wanted me to saddle her, “Hell no, I'm not that old yet”, he replied. He put the saddle on without a pad to make sure it would fit well and then pulled it off and put a horse hair pad over a sheep skin. The technology for the best saddle pad ever made was thousands of years old I'd guess. You make it by saving the manes and tails of dead horses and weaving them into an un-symetrical pattern while they are wet. It takes the hair from five or six horses , but it is durable. has a great cushion, and provides ventilation to the back. They last for years. Carl handled the hair pad and the sheepskin without a second glance and I knew he was a horseman from the old traditions. I can just imagine the old Celtic horse tribes traveling Westward across Europe before the age of Julius Cesar used the same saddle pads.

I trusted him even more after watching him saddle her. I asked him if he used a hackamore, he turned to and said, “I'll ride her with a postage stamp and bailing twine if I have to.” I assumed that was an affirmative. I told him to ride around a few minutes while I loaded the pack horses and another saddle horse for me. He was already reining the horse and turning her gently both ways.

I had a feeling this was going to be a good hunt.

He and the mare liked each other and he seemed to be more interested in the mare than hunting. We rode into the remote camp about 2 pm and Carl helped me picket the horses and set up the wall tent. We had a bite to eat, beans, bacon, and potatoes with some ice cold tea. A nice Canadian meal. We would get in an hour's hunt at one of the moose licks before dark.

Carl told me that this was probably his last hunt and he mainly wanted a nice young bull for the freezer. He didn't want a baloney bull with a huge rack, a two year old or three year old would be just right. He had paid for a full supply of game tags, so we were bound to get something.

We sat in a tree stand I had built out of plywood about twenty feet up, between two poplar trees on a hill overlooking one of my favorite moose licks and our dark hairy friends started coming in, a few minutes later. A few of them were in the rut and they were ready to do a little fighting and bragging. Normally, I'd call like a young bull challenging everyone to a fight. The older bulls would often become enraged at this type of upstart trying to steal cows. The younger bulls were using the short higher pitched grunts and pushing against each other in a non-dangerous way to test their steel.

Eventually, an older bull stampeded into the lick. He was in a rage and was ready to commit mayhem. He charged a three year old so hard, the young moose was swept off his feet and piled up in the mud. The other young moose decided the sport was getting too rough and they scattered noiselessly into the trees. The show was pretty much over, it was too dark to see and the old bull had scared off all the young bulls.

Back at camp, Carl told me that tonight's hunt or show was more fun than he could have hoped for. You see, not every hunter needs to kill an animal to have a good hunt; some just want a good experience with the wildlife and with nature.

Carl told me of working on ranches in Texas and Oklahoma before the First World War and of volunteering for the war.

After serving in the trenches, he no longer wanted the outdoor life of a cowboy. He bought a truck and began to deliver supplies to the oil rigs. Eventually, he had a fleet of trucks and served a huge piece of the oil patch and made millions. Now his grandchildren were jockeying for position to inherit his wealth and he wasn't quite ready to give it up.

He told me he can feel the rage of the older bulls when the younger ones challenge them rather than paying respect. The young ones didn't look so big and mighty when they were piled up in the mud, bruised and bleeding, and looking for a quick exit.

He didn't talk about the war and the trenches, but I recognized the way he looked you in the eye when he spoke and that inability to show fear or indecision; as if he were to say, what do I have to be afraid of, I have already been in Hell. These intense guys who fear nothing intimidate a lot of people with their forthright and direct way of communicating, not that they are trying to scare people, it is just their way. I grew up around these men, so there direct way is natural for me; as a matter of fact, I prefer this look you in the eye honesty to the shifty never tell the truth darting looks of the average politician.

I began to realize what a treasure Carl represented. He had been one of the last of the cowboys who rode from job to job and stuck to an unwritten code of honesty and integrity.

War changes people. I have known several outdoorsmen who finished up their military careers saying they would never again go camping or hunting. Carl was one of those guys. He chose a good business and was successful and now he enjoyed living the life he left, as a vacation. One of the reasons he was successful was his direct and honest approach. Carl was used to winning, you could see that. Compromising a situation or giving up wasn't a part of his vocabulary.

A couple of days later, Carl shot a nice two year bull, it was a nice shot from about eighty yards. He said if it was alright with me, he would just watch my handiwork as I field dressed the moose and loaded it on three pack horses. I laughed and said of course. A two year old isn't that big and I can get it loaded fairly quick; besides, it was my job.

He said he had never packed horses and it was a pleasure to watch a man handle the ropes and lace on the quarters of moose on the pack horses.

We made it back to the base camp and he told me it was his last hunt and that the moose would last him the rest of his life. He thanked me, wished me well, and walked out of my life. Now this is a fairly uneventful hunting story except for the honesty that Carl portrayed. The direct and honest approach is almost never expected from our politicians; actually, we tend to like the ones who can lie the most convincingly. Carl and those like him are long gone- sadly it is for the best, for they would be terribly disappointed with the lack of honesty and integrity we tolerate from our politicians and from those in public life.

In a more modern world, we have President Obama telling us that increased drilling would have a marginal effect on the price of oil, but now that he is facing reelection, he releases a portion of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to decrease the price of oil. This is a case of getting caught up in your own lies and compromising our Strategic Petroleum Reserves for his personal political advantage.

Yet these are the same high prices that he promised during his campaign, the difference is that he intended for the price increases to be tax increases and not real price increases, thus the high fuel prices have no advantage for him.

A similar situation is his decision to bring troops home in a war that is far from over, but at a time that will be strategic for his reelection.

In his campaign to promote job growth, our NLRB is trying to shut down a billion dollar assembly line for Boeing in South Carolina and European builders are getting the contracts as a result of unknown implications of a government agency representing unions trying to shut down a private manufacturing facility built in a Right to Work State. Leaving the average American asking why we have a government agency protecting unions and why are we forcing Boeing to take its factory offshore so that union jobs will be “protected”.

Why do we have Democrats who preach of the need for more taxes and of how we are not paying enough to beat back these massive deficits. Yet we must contend with an administration of tax cheats. Multimillionaire John Kerry goes to great lengths to avoid paying taxes on his elitist yacht so atypical of the Socialist jargon that he and other millionaires ride to glory, but wait, the Marxists in Washington don't plan to be like everyone else they are Elites and they are supposed to lead a life of luxury that is above the law. These politicians that talk out of both sides of their mouth are legion within the Obama Administration Timothy Geithner, Charles Rangel, Tom Daschle, Hilda Solis all have their personal tax issues, while they tell us we are supposed to pay more and feel good about their willingness to spend our tax money in programs that will assure their political longevity.

While we have Marxists demanding more benefits to an ever growing army of those who feel they are entitled to the wealth of others, we have unscrupulous leaders who use these people to gain power and wealth. They promise to redistribute wealth, but not their wealth, heavens no, it is the wealth of others they pan to redistribute. In the tradition of every corrupt Marxist leader the world has ever known, they destroy wealth and prosperity by taking away from producers to give to the lazy and corrupt. Each month, the economy feels the lash of incompetence and corruption until the system begins to wither and die; until, there is no more wealth to steal and no more incentive to recreate wealth. This is the legacy of the Marxist and we see it about to reach the flash point in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland; unfortunately, with Obama at the helm of our ship of state we are only a short distance behind these failing Socialist states with leaders who are not leaders in any real sense of the word: they just know how to promise the world to those who don't produce, but eventually they run out of money and the riots begin.

Personally, I much prefer the honesty of Carl when he gets up close and looks at you straight in the eye, as if every sentence is to be carved in stone. That is the kind of man we need in Washington and the kind of man I like to take hunting.


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Skook, I do not think most of the US population would recognize a man like Carl. Re-read the comments from other recent posts. The left is still defending Obama as they sink into the quick sand.

Men of the sort you describe are few and far between. I know of few in my father’s (Korean War) generation, and none in mine. The USA as we knew it could not have run without them to leaven up the dough of us ordinary individuals.

What disturbs me most is that the bulk of our fellow Americans would not recognize them if confronted with them, and are too thick-headed to Miss Them, much less lament their passing.

To whom does one point for one’s children and say, “THAT’S what a competent man looks like and sounds like,”?

Sports figures? Idiot entertainers? Callow politicians?

Nice piece, Skook.

Yet another spell-binding and poignant tale, Skookum. Thank you for telling it and my offers still stands for a $30 advance on a copy of your book.

Carl saying that “this would be his last hunt kind” of hit home. I, myself, am at the age when I have to admit that I’ll never again do certain things that I used to love. This stage of life seems to be an exercise in giving up and giving in. I’m trying to fight it.

A few years ago a pickup load of bear hunters pulled up to my place here in the NC mountains looking for a lost dog. One of the hunters must have been 90, and I asked him, “Do you still hunt?” He smiled and answered, “Nah, I just like to hear the sound of the dogs.” God bless him.

Another spellbinding story Skookum-thanx

Always love your posts, Skook. Great story and a great point to it.

Sadly, our political system has become so disgusting that nobody like Carl would ever run for higher office.

Another fine story well told. Thanks Skook.
Sadly, the ruling class is only partly to blame for the downward spiral of our beloved republic.
The same generation that Tom Brokaw extols as “the greatest generation” is also the parent generation
of the young marxists who have overpopulated our educational institutions; teaching successive generations
the virtue of demanding from the government whatever their little hearts desire.

My point is this. Who was teaching values to the children of “the greatest generation?” Sadly, these folks may have been spent after fighting the great war against totalitarianism. They weren’t ready for the entry of the wolf through the back door. Now, very late in the game, the question is, “who is mentoring the children?”

coldeadhands: My point is this. Who was teaching values to the children of “the greatest generation?” Sadly, these folks may have been spent after fighting the great war against totalitarianism. They weren’t ready for the entry of the wolf through the back door. Now, very late in the game, the question is, “who is mentoring the children?”

I specifically want to address this since I’ve actually spoken to my parents, aunt, uncles of that generation. Most are baffled as to how their children turned out… the boomers… and their averse base to patriotism, nationality and all else that comes with we “why don’t we do it in the road/Beatles” generation.

I got a very interesting perspective that may make you somewhat less judgmental, coldeadhands…. courtesy of my aunt.

Their’s was a generation of depression, poverty, nothing but what they could devise for entertainment in local dances, and a war that cut short their youth and their lives. When they came out of that war, they vowed their children would not have to go thru what they did. So they built their homes in suburbs, and tried to create a family lifestyle that they craved themselves.

They had no idea the selfish and complacent monsters they created. Not until they watched their kids grow up with few morals, shunning the niceties of middle class homes and family life for sexual freedom and irresponsibility for all. What they learned is what they found important and covetable in life, their kids did not.

I don’t blame them. My parents were the same and I am of that same selfish generation. But not all of us turned out that way. On the flip side, my cousin had the nerve to blame her mother… my aunt who told me this… for the woes and ills of the times.

Needless to say, tho I love my cousin, I shredded her. Her selfish, bohemiam socialist ways are not what her mother taught her. What her parents DID teach her was to make her own choices. And because she never had to want for anything, and was of the entitlement mentality, she made the wrong decisions. Her mom is worth more than a hundred clones of the daughter.

OKAY I ‘m going for the rest, be back later

SKOOKUM, I’m back, and this goes in my book, when will I have it now?
thank you such a nice story,

Skookum, you weave an utterly enjoyable story and then tie it into today’s headlines. That is a gift, my friend.

Thank you very much for posting this, and all your other works of art.

I grew up watching my mother bust a gut raising myself and 4 siblings with a great deal of self sacrifice and even more good humor. My narcissist father found it all inconvenient and split. I was blessed cause she taught me at an early age to pray. Doing without, only temporarily intruded on happiness. I was blessed. My siblings did not carry with them the same values. We all make our own decisions we also make value judgments. These values are best taught by parents not governmental employees such as teachers. If we leave this teaching to teachers and abdicate this essential responsibility we surely end up with self-absorbed, disloyal adults.

“And because she never had to want for anything, and was of the entitlement mentality, she made the wrong decisions”

My own kids grew up with the constant refrain “It doesn’t matter what your friends have” & “wants are not needs”
I read once: ” Remember, year-by-year progress through an established educational regime does not necessarily mean intellectual progress, much less spiritual growth. Enlargement of vocabulary does not signify development of character. Growth is not truly indicated by mere products but rather by progress. Real educational growth is indicated by enhancement of ideals, increased appreciation of values, new meanings of values, and augmented loyalty to supreme values. ”
These should not be consigned to teachers. Values are best taught in the home. No one knows your child like you.

As we venture through our lives we are occasionally blessed with the aquaintence of such men of dignity and character as those represented by Carl. So strong is such a person that the influence they have on our lives remains forever, even though our meeting of such person may be of such limited time as to feel only the passing of their shadow. It is the passing of such person that we as individuals develop our own character and dignity. Sad that it is that so few of these people of dignity and character remain in this land that we as a people have lost the respect for what the real value our country represents. When human beings lose the dignity to charish the freedoms we are granted it is only a matter of time that those freedoms become jepardized and compromised. Thus does the time come that the fall of a nation does happen, making no difference whether that nation is communistic, socialist or democratic. For he that places so little value in his freedom does also remain without dignity.

coldeadhands, hi,
those coments of your’s are very precious gems for youngs to decipher, thank you

SKOOKUM I am looking forward to get those books,they will be something
that will stand time,as it will be pass to generation to the next and so on.

Tallgrass, yes , absolutly, I was on my own very young, and what I had was a sister to
pass to me those qualitys, I observered and admired, as she was protecting me with her love, she was the eldest,
and my mother before she died, told her that she had the responsability of us,the other 5
my sister, 15 year old tinyest of us but with the courage to fight the DEVIL HIMSELF,
me the youngest, looking up at her, so intelligent and proud, she would never sway or compromise on those values, and none of us would win an argument with her,
I was the one to challenge being the youngest, with all the “yes but” or ” what if”, she never lost the basic of what she knew was the right thing to do. and I use to tell her how much she thought me,
and how it help me in my journey to the future.
to observe those is a gift given to us human to beleive in our future,needs to change the wrong we perceive, from acquired knowledge from those righteous human being who happen to walk on our road for a while.
nice of you to come back

Why is it when the world cries we are forced to open our wallets for their personal gain? Now when we have problems the world abandons the U.S. and is still expecting more from us. Personally I believe that WWIII is on the horizon and closer than we think. However I have been wrong before but I see all the lives we have wasted over in the Mid-East for the whim of a politician who’s only want is personal gain.
Skookum; have you ever read the story about a cowboy called “Billy Dixon”? He was a Civil War veteran who survived a Indian 3 nation attack on a small town out West in the 1870’s, He had a record open sights shot using the saddle of his horse as the steady. Can you find the story and reprint if possible? Thanks.
Mune Shadowe.

Research Paper
Indian Wars
Dr. Walker: Instructor
Steve Lee

The Shot that Changed a War: The Billy Dixon Story

The Second Battle of Adobe Walls, which took place June 27, 1874, in West Texas, precipitated the end of the Indian wars on the Southern Plains. Specifically, this paper will contextually examine the legendary rifle shot made by buffalo hunter Billy Dixon, in which he allegedly shot an Indian off his horse nearly a mile away. This event, in which hundreds of Indians attacked a trading post defended by 29 white civilians, is famous among Southwestern history buffs, hunters, cowboy re-enactors and riflemen of the present day. Legend and truth have mingled through the years. I will attempt to tell the story as accurately as possible.
The question asked in this paper is: What is the truth of the major issues of the legendary Second Battle of Adobe Walls? And my thesis is: The traders and buffalo hunters not only successfully fought off hundreds of Indians at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, but Billy Dixon indeed could make such a shot ending the most critical battle in the Red River War.
The Indian tribes involved in the majority of Red River War battles included the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowa. From their point of view, this might have been called the Buffalo War, for the demise of the buffalo was their main complaint. These were horse people, mobile and highly skilled at raiding and guerilla warfare. They had all been settled on reservations according to the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty. But because of the independent nature of the various Indian cultures, any number of chiefs might sign an agreement, then the individual Indians would do as they pleased anyway. The U.S. government never understood this aspect of Indian culture and was often frustrated when Indians didn’t act like white men.
The Southern Plains of the early 1870s were alight with raids, kidnappings, murders, theft of livestock and general nuisances between whites and Indians. As settlers moved westward, the Army was tasked to protect them and contain the Indians, and in certain instances punish the Indians.
The Army tried to put a lid on the Southern Plains situation by meeting with as many Indian leaders as possible at Medicine Lodge Creek, seventy miles south of Fort Larned, Kansas. The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 required all Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowa tribes on the Southern Plains (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of New Mexico and Colorado) to stay on their respective reservations. The treaty formed one reservation for the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache tribes, and another for the Arapaho and Cheyenne. The tribes had established long-lasting peace relations since 1840.
Interestingly, the same Billy Dixon who is the subject of this paper, was present at the Medicine Lodge Treaty negotiations and signing. He was about 17 years old.
Nine loyal refugee tribes were excluded from the treaty. These were the Wichitas, Caddos, Absentee Shawnees, Kichais, Wacos, Anadarkos, Delawares, Tawakonis and Ionis, who resided in the region. However, they had had their own treaty two years earlier in 1865.
The Army representatives present for the medicine Lodge Treaty were a who’s who of Indian fighters and leadership of the era. Interpreter Philip McCusker was there to make sure everyone understood what was being said and agreed to. One reporter, Henry Stanley, later famous for the remark, “Livingston, I presume?” described the Cheyennes as they arrived for the treaty signing:
“Then a blast of the bugle was heard, followed by a thousand voices, chanting the maddening Indian war saga… firing pistols as they came… Five columns of a hundred men each, forty paces apart, dressed in all their gorgeous finery. Crimson blankets about their loins, tall, comb-like headdresses of eagles feathers, variegated shirts, brass chains, sleigh bells, white, red and blue worked moccasins, gleaming tomahawks, made up the personnel of a scene never to be forgotten.”
All of the five tribes would be allowed to leave their reservations to hunt buffalo anywhere in the Southern Plains, an area comprising roughly 90,000 square miles, to maintain their livelihoods and lifestyles.
Interestingly, the Comanche introduced the horse to the Southern Plains, which made possible the “horse-buffalo-tipi complex.” They were the richest tribe of the Southern Plains, having thousands and thousands of horses. This is the reason they could be so very nomadic, carrying our raids as much as 1,000 miles away.
Conversely, settlers, the Army and especially buffalo hunters, were to stay away from Indian reservations and their hunting grounds. In fact, in a separate policy, no non-Indian was to travel south of the Arkansas River, which ran east/west along the southern edge of Kansas. Immediately south was Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), and further south the Texas panhandle.
The once-vast herds of buffalo roamed the plains from Texas to Canada, providing many basic needs of life for the plains Indians. The meat kept them full. The hides provided clothing and shelter. Sinews were used in the manufacture of bows. Horns and bones were material for tools and decoration.
When hunter Billy Dixon came to Kansas, he and his friends were told by an Army officer what the official policy was, who then winked and said in effect, “but if you want to hunt buffalo, they went south.” Dixon arrived in the Panhandle to find others already there. “I guess it must be OK,” he and his friends thought, and went to work with a will.
The various tribes saw it as an invasion of their homes, a stealing of their business inventories, and a ruining of their economies, and, of course, their cultures. After the signing of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, young men on both sides immediately ignored their elders and broke the agreement. The Indians continued to leave their reservations for raids. The settlers kept spreading through the plains; and the hunters shot more buffalo. The vast herds, estimated to have been in the millions of animals in 1870, were reduced to very few animals by 1875.
The Indians of the Southern Plains, for their part, had had enough. On the advice of Comanche medicine man Isatai (Coyote poop), warriors agreed to launch an attack on the invading white man, specifically, their most hated enemies the buffalo hunters. The medicine of Isatai was thought to be good, which also played into his hands because he had wanted revenge since he was a boy for the killing of his uncle by white men. Some sources say the medicine man was named Minimic, previously a family friend of one of the Adobe Walls defenders.
This large war party included the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapaho. After the Sand Creek Massacre some time before, all four of these tribes were ready for revenge. The significance of this rare gathering of tribes for battle cannot be overstated. Warrior representatives from most of the fiercest tribes who had fought the Army and raided settlers throughout the plains were gathering for an overwhelming assault on the white man.
The Comanche had been involved numerous battles, including the Parker Raid, in which Cynthia Ann Parker was captured. She would become the mother of Quanah Parker, the leader of the Adobe Walls II fight.
The Kiowa had attacked Kit Carson and his 400-strong force at the First Battle of Adobe Walls with a force of 5,000 warriors of their own, roughly a mile from the location of the second battle.
The Cheyenne had precipitated the Fetterman Disaster, fought Custer on the Washita, and laid siege to Forsyth’s scouts for eight days at the Battle of Beecher’s Island.
The Arapaho had participants in the Sand Creek Massacre, and had fought Custer to a standstill some years before.
These tribes were the final obstacles in the pacification of the Southern Plains. Now all of them were massing together for one large strike.
They chose the trading post at Adobe Walls, in the Texas panhandle. This little settlement had two stores, a restaurant, a blacksmith shop and a corral. The buildings were of foot-thick, sod wall construction with wooden roof beams, covered in dirt. There were also several adobe-walled pens (from which the settlement derives its name) for stacking the huge number of hides brought in by the hunters. After a big hunt, the hunters brought their hides to sell and get re-supplied. Adobe Walls served from 200-300 hunters in the Panhandle area.
Buffalo hunters were professional marksmen, often using state-of-the-art weapons. They were well known for their shooting skills. And when they weren’t hunting or relaxing and spending their money in places like Dodge City, they were practicing their shooting.
Often, they were young men, barely out of their teens, searching for the adventure and excitement offered by life on the plains. They were not unlike the explorers, revolutionaries and trappers who had preceded them. When Dixon came west, he was about 17 years of age. At the Adobe Walls battle, he was just 24.
Some have said the Winchester rifle or the Colt revolver, or even the shotgun won the West. Martin Rywell contends it was the buffalo rifle, in the hands of young men like Dixon that shaped American destiny.
“The Sharps Big Fifty was the favorite weapon. The next best were the 45-70, 45-90 and 45-120. The technique of the skillful hunter was to drop one ‘lead’ buffalo after another with clean neck or heart shots. A wounded animal was sure to stampede the herd into wild flight. Hence, the value of the Big Fifty Sharps was because it usually killed with one bullet if the bullet was properly placed. A full-grown buffalo stood six feet high at the shoulder with a length of nine and one half feet and weighed about 2,500 pounds.”
Since early in 1867, the Indians had been causing trouble in the Red River area. But in spite of numerous attacks during the spring of 1874, few of the hunters in the Adobe Walls area had seen any Indians, at least in recent weeks. They were cautious, experienced men and operated as if they were constantly being watched.
For their part, the Comanches, who were the most numerous participants in the attack, were also young, strong and the best of the best. “The life of the male came to be centered around warfare and raiding. The men were all warriors. War was regarded as the noblest of pursuits… and from earliest youth boys were taught to excel in it… They were taught that death in battle, aside from being glorious, protected one from all the miseries which threatened later life and were inevitable to old age.”
The physical situation at Adobe Walls was good. Supplies had just come in and quite a number of buffalo hunters had drifted in over the days previous. Ida Rath said in her book the hunters had come in to stock up for the spring hunt, and were still gathered at the “Walls” because spring was unusually late in coming. By June 26 there were 28 men and one woman at the trading post, by most accounts. Some records indicate only 15 whites and the settlement. Rath reconciles these seeming discrepancies, saying 29 people were at the settlement, but only 14-15 men were fighters.
The defenders included: James Hanrahan, Bat Masterson, Mike Welch, Will Shepherd, Hiram Watson, Billy Ogg, James McKinley, “Bermuda” Jim Carlisle, William Dixon, Fred Leonard, James Campbell, Edward Trevor, Frank Brown, Charlie (Harry) Brown, Billy Tyler, “Dutch” Henry Born, Old Man Keeler, Mike McCabe, Henry Lease, “Frenchy,” James Langton, George Eddy, Thomas O’Keefe, William Olds, Sam Smith, Andrew Johnson, Ike Shadler, “Shorty” Shadler, and Hannah Olds.
Emotionally, everyone’s nerves were frayed. One hunter, Joseph Plummer, had come in for supplies and returned to his camp to find his two crewmembers slain. One of whom was tied to a wagon wheel and tortured to death, the other was killed, scalped and had a stake driven through his chest pinning him to the ground.
Billy Dixon had lost his wagon full of hides and supplies, and his “Big Fifty” Sharps in the river while trying to avoid from Indians. He rode straight for Adobe Walls and bought the best rifle still available, even though it wasn’t his favorite.
J. Wright Mooar had a load of hides. After meeting with Chapman, he told his brother John that they needed to leave and took their hides to Dodge City. Mooar and his crew, like most buffalo hunting operations, were very good at their jobs. He could shoot one hundred buffalo before lunch, and his skinners, working as a team, could skin an animal in minutes. It was piece work, so the more they killed the better.
Most accounts agree quite a number of hunters were at the settlement, having gathered for safety in numbers. Every one slept through the night. Sometime in the early morning, possibly 2 a.m., a loud pop was heard and saloon owner Hanrahan urgently asked the men to help him repair a cracked beam in the ceiling. Some authors have written that Hanrahan knew when the attack was coming and wanted the hunters all to be awake, so unknown to them he went outside and fired a shot into the air a said it was a beam cracking. There may be some validity to this theory because after replacing the beam with another beam, actually of smaller diameter, none of the men who worked on the project recalled seeing any damage to the original wood.
As the first rays of sunshine streamed over the horizon, Dixon and Billy Ogg were outside tending to horses and various chores when Dixon saw a flash of something in the bushes. Rath says Ogg saw the Indians first. At any rate, one of the men registered that Indians were creeping toward the buildings and yelled, “Indians!” Dixon and Ogg ran as fast as they could for safety in the center building. Hundreds of warriors charged at full speed toward Adobe Walls, ululating their war whoops.
The door of the middle building was slammed shut, but it was quickly opened to admit Dixon and Ogg yelled that he was still outside and to let him in. Arrows and bullets peppered the building. Ogg was also let in.
Rath states only fourteen of the men could fight and shoot, the rest were cooks, teamsters and bartenders. But most other sources claim everyone, including Mrs. Olds, fought in the battle.
Indians swarmed the compound in a frenzy, yelling and shooting. In minutes, Ike and Shorty Shadler, who had been sleeping in their wagon, were killed and scalped. Their Newfoundland dog was also scalped, a hank of hair, cut from his side. Some warriors climbed onto the buildings and tried to chop through the roofs with their tomahawks. But that lasted only until the hunters inside shot through the ceilings and drove them off. Leader of the Comanche warriors was Quanah Parker, who backed his horse against the door of one building to break in and kill the trapped whites.
Some authors and historians put the number of Indians between 200 and 300. Rath reports 700 to 1,000 warriors. Texas State Library and Archives Commission reports as many as 700 Indians, with 70 killed and many more wounded. Chief Whirlwind of the Cheyennes later claimed 1,200 warriors attended the fight and more than 115 of them were killed.
A definitive figure is hard to determine. Two of the oldest accounts were penned by men who were not at the fight. For some reason, historians dispute the figures and distances claimed by the men actually in the battle, both whites and Indians. This is curious because the hunters were proven marksmen and could indeed make amazing shots. It is also puzzling why Indian participants would claim large numbers of killed and wounded when their culture worshipped victory in battle, not shameful losses to an enemy they vastly outnumbered. Who would lie about being a big loser?
A hunter named Henry Lease volunteered to ride to Dodge City, 150 miles away, for help. He was armed with two revolvers and his Big Fifty Sharps rifle. That was a long way on horseback, especially for a horse in a hurry. He made the distance without injury, but the Army wouldn’t immediately come to the aid of the besieged hunters. General Pope had no sympathy, since he believed the hunters knew better than to hunt south of the Arkansas River. He thought they were getting what they deserved for having broken the Medicine Lodge Treaty. But when pleadings were made to the governor of Kansas, he interceded and troops were prepared within several weeks to converge upon the Texas panhandle and quell the Indian uprising. It may also have helped to change Gen. Pope’s mind when one of his own supply trains, under command of Capt. Wyllys Lyman, was attacked a short time later and placed under siege for three days.
In the mean time, the intrepid Lease, who had ridden for aid, received the help of fellow buffalo hunters and the ad hoc force started back to Adobe Walls. Other hunters, who had been hunting in the area, rode into Adobe Walls within a day or two of the first day’s attack.
On the third day, a small group of Indians gathered on a distant bluff to discuss the situation of the battle. Some of the men began to tease Dixon and challenged him to see if he could make a hit at that distance. He borrowed a Sharps .50-90 and resting the fore end on something stable, he pressed the trigger. Before he could even hear the shot, an Indian named To-hah-kah was struck in the chest and fell from his horse. This was the stuff of legend. The warriors were humiliated. The battle was over.
The Indians retrieved the body of their fallen comrade and left the area. The battle was over. After that the large war party broke into smaller groups and raided all over the region. Utley says in “Indian Wars” the Comanches and Cheyennes vented their anger on the Kansas travel routes and the Texas frontier, torturing, killing and kidnapping men, women and children.
Many, many people have written about the shot, and the distances vary from 750-1538 yards. If one settles on a distance of near 1,000 yards, the shot is still noteworthy and quite important. It was a difficult shot, but quite possible, especially for a skilled rifleman.
Dixon used a single-shot Sharps rifle chambered for the .50-90 cartridge. There are many people in the twenty-first century who have made long shots of up to 1,500 yards while hunting or sniping in war. But they used modern weapons, smokeless powder, telescopes and laser rangefinders.
The closest modern shot to Dixon’s I know of was made with a single shot by an Army ranger during the Vietnam War. Capt. Galen D. “Chuck” Taylor used a .50 caliber machine gun, without a scope, firing a 750-grain bullet. He had ranged the shot in advance, so when a Viet Cong messenger rode down the trail on his daily run at 1,000 yards distant, Taylor pressed the trigger and knocked him over. The bullet weight and distance were equal to Dixon’s shot, but everything else was different, which makes Dixon’s shot that much more remarkable.
Other modern sniper shots have been made in Iraq and Afghanistan to distances of a full mile and more, but not with black powder cartridges, iron sights and wild guesses on range.
Some writers have claimed long shots, especially Dixon’s, are impossible. They say rifles from the 1860s and 70s were not capable of such range, accuracy or power. But upon extensive testing and ballistic tests, history has proven such shots are indeed possible and, indeed, probable. This shall be proven in due course.
Historically, it has never been long after the development of any firearms technology before riflemen have organized tests of skill and feats of amazement to entertain one another. True to form, shortly after the introduction of the Sharps rifle, shooters gathered for matches, out to distances of 1,000 yards. The most notable of these were the Creedmoor matches at Long Island, New York. In fact, the Sharps rifle company also made target rifles specifically for such long-distance shooting.
Additionally, the U.S. Army had long range testing grounds located at Sandy Hook, Virginia. There they tested mortars, cannons and rifles. In 1879, the Springfield rifle chambered in .45-70 was tested for distance, accuracy and power. This is one of the rifle types used in the Indian Wars throughout the West. Cartridge cases of this type were recovered at the Adobe Walls site during an archaeological dig in the latter half of the 20th century, conducted by a leading Texas university.
In the Army’s Sandy Hook testing, bullets were fired at multiple distances out to 3,500 yards, more than double the distance of the longest claimed Dixon shot. The bullets hit a target 20 feet square. The bullets were thought to have expended their energy. But, in fact, they penetrated two layers of 1-inch boards and buried themselves 6-8 inches into the sand. When recovered, they were point on, not having tumbled at all. The Army initiated its tests following reports of massed, long-range rifle fire up to a mile and a half away, in the Russo-Turkish War using similar rifles.
Then again, in the 1990s, tests were conducted at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona, specifically using a replica of the Sharps “Big Fifty,” used by Dixon, and other buffalo rifles. These tests, initiated by Jim Roberts of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department forensics lab, confirmed the validity of the range and accuracy of the Adobe Walls incident. U.S. Army technicians were on hand to operate the measuring equipment. The heavy bullets traveled 3500 yards (1.98 miles). They were tracked with sophisticated electronic measuring equipment, and figures were tabulated every .01 second during each bullet’s 20-plus seconds of travel. Again, the range was double the distance of the Dixon shot. The results were the same, the range, accuracy and power of Dixon’s rifle, and the others used at the battle, were more than sufficient to substantiate Dixon’s claim.
Dixon himself admitted the shot was a lucky one. But these two formal tests, conducted more than 100 years apart, proved the shot could be made. Time and technology made no difference. The Sharps buffalo rifles did indeed have the distance, accuracy and power needed for the shot.
So the theory holds up. But could Dixon personally shoot that well? In general, professional hunters were known as a breed of men who could shoot well. As for Dixon’s personal skill, he was esteemed among his peers as better than most, hence the challenge to make the long shot in the first place.
Dixon said in his biography, written by his wife, he participated in “constant, unremitting practice.” “I was not without confidence in my marksmanship,” Dixon noted.
Co-hay-yah, who participated in the fight, said, “Buffalo hunters were bad…They sure killed us out…Buffalo hunters had awful long range.”
Timbo said a group of Indians was on the leeward side of some low hills northwest of Adobe Walls when one of the warriors was struck with a bullet and fell from his horse.
Another Indian recalled that a group of braves were riding along when one fell over dead. It was found he had a bullet in the head. The blowing wind and great distance had prevented them from hearing the rifle report.
It was also reported by Quanah Parker to Charles Goodnight at a later time, “They killed us in sight and out of sight.”
Baker and Harrison said many shots were made at Adobe Walls that equaled Dixon’s shot, but his was the most difficult to verify. Adding a note of confusion, the authors recount the testimony of hunter Willis Skelton Glenn, whose second-hand account says someone else shot the Indian, not Dixon. Glenn’s account notes a knife was used to retrieve a .45-caliber bullet from the dead Indian, not the .50-caliber bullet used by Dixon. It’s good that Baker and Harrison included the account, but there are problems with it. First, Glenn was retelling what someone else had told him. He was not an eye-witness. Second, the people at Adobe Walls said the warriors took the dead man away, in contrast to Glenn, who says the body was still there. Third, Glenn could easily have confused one dead warrior for another, since many great shots were made that day.
Mooar wrote in 1927 that Dixon didn’t make the shot. But Mooar was in Dodge City at the time, again not an eye witness.
When put in perspective of the entire battle for the Southern Plains, the Red River War, the long shot at Adobe Walls took the spirit out of the Indians for that fight. The critical nature of the battle to the outcome of the Red River War is seen in three main ways.
First, There were no more large-scale Indian attacks after the Second Battle of Adobe Walls.
Second, the Army was forced to engage the Indians and clean out the warring tribes from the Southern Plains. Some say the Red River War started when Miles, et al, joined the hunt for Indians. But it may be contended the war began at Adobe Walls, if not months earlier at the beginning of the year. Just because the Army wasn’t involved until August of 1874, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a war going on. The Indians were certainly at war since January of that year.
Third, within about a year the Southern Plains were free of Indian raids, and they never happened again in that region.
Now in Dodge City, thinking about what he would do next, Dixon ended up in an interview with Gen. Nelson Miles, who hired him on the spot as a scout. In a few weeks, a large expedition comprised of five elements began to converge on the Texas panhandle: Miles and his new scout, Dixon, moved southwest from Fort Dodge, Kansas; Col. Davidson moved west from Fort Sill, Indian Territory; Col. Mackenzie moved north from Fort Concho, Texas; Lt. Col. Buell also came up from the south; and Maj. Price moved east from Fort Bascom, New Mexico.
The Adobe Walls fight changed Dixon’s life in one fundamental respect. He was once a buffalo hunter, now he was an Army scout. His life had changed as quickly as social and technological circumstances in the West were prone to do during that era.
In September, while on a message-bearing mission with scout Amos Chapman and four cavalry troopers, to Camp Supply for Gen. Miles, Dixon and his mates were attacked by dozens of Indians and forced to defend themselves from a buffalo wallow. One man was killed and all were wounded. They fought off the braves until a column of cavalry happened by and rescued them. This little battle was as amazing as the Second Battle of Adobe Walls for its overwhelming odds and the tenacity of the defenders. All of the men were awarded the Medal of Honor.
In conclusion, the Red River War started February 5, 1874, when Lt. Col. G.P. Buell and his 11th Cavalry fought a war party of Comanches and ended June 2, 1875 when the last of the Comanches surrendered to the Indian Agency at Fort Sill, Indian Territory. During those sixteen months, the largest Indian force (300-1,200) of the war fought one time at Adobe Walls, Texas, where they laid siege to the occupants for three days. They were beaten back by 29 civilian buffalo hunters, freighters, clerks and one woman. On the third day, one hunter named Billy Dixon made a long shot of 1,000 to 1,500 yards, killing an Indian and taking the spirit out of the remainders of the war party.
Three white men were killed, and 15 to 115 Indian warriors were killed. Quanah Parker, leader of the war party, was shot and wounded at one point in the battle. The Comanche medicine man, Isatai, whose idea it was to attack Adobe Walls, was sitting on his horse at a distance when his horse was shot our from under him.
The question of this paper was answered, and the reader of this paper can see that the major aspects of this event did actually happen. A large number of Indians from four tribes attacked a small number of defenders at Adobe Walls and laid seige to them for three days. When Billy Dixon, an expert marksman, shot a warrior from his horse the better part of a mile away, the Indians had no more will to fight and left the area. It appears from accumulated evidence that Dixon did indeed make the shot, and that the rifle/cartridge combination he used had more than enough range, accuracy and power for the job. The shot changed the course of the war. It gave the defenders the chance to leave the area safely, never more to return. The Army was forced to get involved in the war and ended the danger of the raiding Indians of the Southern Plains within one year. And the collective back of the Indian coalition was broken; never again would they fight in so large a mass as at Adobe Walls. Thus the thesis is proved correct, that Dixon could and did make such a shot, ending the battle and causing a critical turning point in the Red River War.
“The result was a crushing spiritual defeat for the Indians. It also prompted the U.S. military to take its final actions to crush the Indians once and for all. Within one year, the long war between the whites and Indians in Texas would reach its conclusion.”

@Skookum: Thank you!

SKOOKUM, WOW, put that in the book


One of the few joys I get these days is reading one of your brilliant stories. The fact that you’re able to weave life lessons lived and learned in context with the idiotic political stuff going on today would be worth any price! But the sheer joy I get in reading your pieces is something I cherish, especially due to the fact that both of us had and knew some of the same people on the race tracks in our past! Just great buddy and all my thanks!!

Tallgrass, I must correct the word I said should have been tawght
instead of thought,

@ilovebeeswarzone: Bees is right Skook. I remember that my father had cut the Burgess Bed Time Stories from our weekly paper and saved them in a scrap book. Burgess wrote about Reddy the fox, and a slew of other character. They expanded my imagination as much as Barbed Wire Johnny and all of your other characters. There were also lessons there for young men and women not found in many stories today. Looking forward to those books.

I just got done reading this great story of the true “Grit” that that many men and women had on the frontier of the western United States at that time.
Here is another twist; What was the main job of the Army back then? To protect the civilians from an attacking enemy that was invading their homestead. Why is our Army now helping people who could care less about us overseas when we have a northern and southern border on this nation that should be defended?
Thoughts to ponder.

Like ‘Marxists’, ultra-right-wing writers take certain liberties with history. Obama’s actual position as to
the effect of increased US oil production can be seen in this article:

“WASHINGTON — Facing continued public unhappiness over gas prices, President Barack Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production by extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska.

Obama said Saturday that the measures ‘make good sense’ and will help reduce U.S. consumption of imported oil in the long term. But he acknowledged anew that they won’t help to immediately bring down gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon in many parts of the country.”


woof…. the naivity of the liberal left. Most specifically Liberal1(non objectivity), when he says:

Obama’s actual position as to the effect of increased US oil production can be seen in this article:

There is a difference between leases and permits to start E&P. The government makes tons of revenue on leases. However without the issued permits, of which this admin has not only decreased, but implemented a moratorium, a lease is just free revenue without any oil productive activity.


@Liberal1 (objectivity):

Obama’s actual position as to the effect of increased US oil production can be seen in this article

Uhhh…can you explain to me precisely the value and impact of “extending existing leases” in the Gulf when there is a moratorium in place preventing drilling and pumping from occurring?

Oh, that’s right, those extended leases would be worthless and have zero impact if the people who own them are not able to utilize them.

Thanks for playing.

More like his goal as GWB did is to get re-elected. The strategic oil reserve in the long will do very little to fix the issue of sky-high oil but what Bush did was open the gulf to oil drilling and oil plummeted per barrel. We shall see if he even does that. All this guy did was deplete our energy stock which if a real emergency happens we shall be screwed.
Alaska tundra anyone?

Thanks bees, we work at it.

@Mune Shadowe:
Yes Mune he has depleted our reserve and when the reserve is replenished, it will be at significantly higher prices. No problem, after all, its all part of the ruse of Keynesian economics.

COLDEADHANDS, HI, I am lead to beleive that he’s doing IT,
because HIM, and FRANCE and BRITAIN, where planning to dig in the GADAFI’S BILLIONS AND OIL
SO that oil reserve could be a temporary thing, until GADAFI leave,
but THEY are realy in shock now, that GADAFI won’t go even if his LIBYA is destroy
as it is now, they figure that things would go same as EGYPT AND THE OTHER REVOLUTION
Which went so fast, remember when he answerd “just a matter of DAYS” THAT NOW IS HAUNTING
THE 3 SCROOGES AINT IT. they might have figure to pay for the war with GADAFI’S BILLIONS TOO

SKOOKUM, I was thinking, following your mention of 3 books to be publish,
just my idea if you allow!!!
why don’t you publish the first one and sell it, we could give a deposit on the second one
as we buy the first and do the same as we get the second also, that would give you the first cash to not have to dig in your own pocket, than again more cash for the second to be publish, and the same way for the 3rd one,
instead of them all publish at once that would come quite expansive for you, and also some who would prefer investing in one book at the time,
even if buying 3 books at once would be a saving bit, but not all could get the 3 books in one cash flow, and the reordering for present gift we would do, and more clients come in after as you go.