George Washington Hill, who was in Samuel Turnbow's company of ten in the 1847 A.O. Smoot emigrant party, relates the following incident about hunting with Samuel near Laramie, Wyoming:
We continued our journey on the north side of the river until we came to the mouth of
Laramie, for here we crossed over on the south side near old Fort John, near where Fort Laramie
now stands. About five miles above here at a grove of white ash, we camped and laid by for
about a week to burn tar, there being plenty of pitch pine here. We also needed rest. From here
we went on to Horse Shoe, about forty miles. Here we laid by one day for the women to wash.
We were now fairly well into the Black Hills and in full view of Laramie Peak. This was
such a novel sight to me that I proposed to Captain Turnbow that we should go to the top of the
peak and kill some mountain sheep which were supposed to abound there. He accepted the
proposal and away we went, supposing it to be about ten or twelve miles, when in reality it was
about forty miles. We went about twelve miles and the peak looked just as far off as it did
[originally]. We got discouraged about going to it and returned the same day as we started.
Here we came across an old buffalo bull, and Turnbow proposed that I should crawl as
close to him as I could and shoot him, and we would load ourselves with meat and return. So I
crawled up within three rods of him, as he was feeding away from me, but he would not turn
around so as to give me a fair shot at him. So I peeled away at his flank, ranging forward. At the
crack of a gun, he jumped and kicked and ran; in a short distance he entered the brush out of
sight. Turnbow came up laughing and we followed his track a little ways into the brush when I
saw him walking along with his head down, very sick, so I shot him again. He ran off a very
little ways and stopped and laid down, too sick to go farther.
Turnbow now proposed to shoot him in the ear, saying he had heard it said that a bullet
would not penetrate a buffalo's head, and he was going to try it and see for himself. So he went
up within about one rod of the old bull, as he was lying there with his tongue out, and raised his
gun, when the old bull began to struggle to get up. Turnbow thought he was gone sure. He
jerked his hat and ran as hard as I ever saw a man run until he got to some cottonwood trees
about forty yards off before he looked behind him, thinking the old bull was right at his heels,
while I was laughing almost fit to split my sides to see him run, as there was no danger. The old
bull hardly got to his feet when he fell dead, before Turnbow was half way to the trees. When he
saw the old bull was dead, he came back laughing, saying he was going to have his shot anyhow.
So he went about to where he was before and peeled away, the bullet going into his head just the
same as any other beef.
We now went to work and skinned a part of him and cut off about one hundred and fifty
pounds of the meat. I objected to taking so much, telling him he would give out and we would
have to leave it after carrying it a good way, but he declared he knew he could carry it to camp.
So we strung it on a pole between us and started for camp, but he soon got tired and we would
have to lay it down and rest, then we would start on again with the whole of it in place of
throwing a part of it away so as to make it light enough so that we could carry it. In this way we
continued carrying and resting until we got about half way to camp when he declared he could
not carry it any farther. So he proposed we should hang it up in a tree and go to camp and come
after it in the morning with horses. Finally I agreed, so I climbed a tree and hung it up and we
went to camp.
INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON HILL
(By himself) (Retyped by Edith L. Baker, 2003)
Ogden City, January 2, 1878