“Where’s the buffalo, the riders and everything, you wonder as you scrape mud out of your eyes and try to encourage your horse to get back on solid ground.
“There’s a crash and a grunt right behind you as a lone old buffalo bull comes in. He looks big so you go right across that muskeg and give him lots of room.
“Out on solid ground again the noise ahead tells you the riders have a bunch and are fighting to hold them from breaking away. Fully 500 buffaloes are running strong and fighting to get away as riders streak here and there trying to hold the milling herd and head them down the drift fence.
“The leaders are heading straight for the gate now, with all the riders spread out in the rear.
‘Well we sure got ‘em now. Maybe—if we can hold ‘em.’
“Part of the bunch go through the gate and the remainder turn and hit for the open spaces. Despite some breakneck riding, part of them get away.
“’Well we got about 400 that time anyway,’ a rider with yellow chaps remarks as he comes up alongside on a sweat-lathered horse. ‘Lots more left for another day.’
“’There’s two buffalo mired back there in the muskeg,’ a rider announces as he lopes up and joins us at the gate. ‘Let’s go back and snake ‘em out.’
“Back in the muskeg, where it has been crowded and trampled into the deep mud, a yearling wallows right up to his neck. A lariat whistles out and lands over its head as a rider circles close.
“A snub of the rope around the saddle horn, a heave as the horse puts his weight on the rope and out he comes. Easy money!
“Further over, struggles and flounders an old cow, just stuck deep enough to hold, but too far out to reach with a lariat. It’s a case of wade in and all hands on the tow line. Gradually, with her eyes a-rolling and snorting vengeance out comes the dear old dame.
“’Snub that line!’ yell the boys on foot as they pass the end of the lariat to a rider and then scatter. For just as soon as the cow hits solid footing she lets out a snort and charges her rescuers. No gratitude there!
“She has to be thrown and the rope taken off. This operation takes nerve as it is a case of slipping the rope, then beating it for your horse before the spiteful cow can get up.
“Let’s high-tail it for camp and dinner. The riders are away in a swirl of dust. Arriving at camp tired, sweaty and sore, you crawl off the horse. Your belt buckle feels up against your backbone and you are hungry enough to eat an ox.
“After dinner, with a smile of complaisance and a cigarette in your mush you wander down to the stable corrals and watch riders saddling up fresh horses for the afternoon work, which consists of putting through the corral chutes the buffalo that you helped run into that mile-square enclosure awhile ago.
“On a fresh horse you ramble up to the corrals with a couple of riders who are taking charge of the big slide gates, when the other riders run the bunch in.
“But you notice broken posts and splintered planks here and there which tells you that something besides the wind has been blowing around here.
“Yells in the distance and a drumming of hoofs tells you that the action has started. Coming into view over a fold in the rough ground half a mile away, you see the buffalo coming on the dead run, with riders darting here and there in the rear, herding, holding and turning the buffalo along drift fences.