Thereupon I seized my opportunity and reminded all present how Copple had called out: “Turkey number one! Turkey number two!” the day I had missed so many. Then I said:
“Ben, you must have yelled out to-night like this.” And I raised my voice high.
“Turkey number one—Nix!... Turkey number two—missed, by Gosh!... Turkey number three—never touched him!... Turkey number four—No!... Turkey number five—Aw, I’m shootin’ blank shells!... Turkey number six on the log—by thunder, I can’t see straight!”
We all had our fun at Copple’s expense. The old bear hunter, Haught, rolled on the ground, over and over, and roared in his mirth.
Early next morning before the sun had tipped the pines with gold I went down Barber Shop Canyon with Copple to look for our horses. During the night our stock had been chased by a lion. We had all been awakened by their snorting and stampeding. We found our horses scattered, the burros gone, and Copple’s mules still squared on guard, ready to fight. Copple assured me that this formation of his mules on guard was an infallible sign of lions prowling around. One of these mules he had owned for ten years and it was indeed the most intelligent beast I ever saw in the woods.
We found three beaver dams across the brook, one about fifty feet long, and another fully two hundred. Fresh turkey tracks showed in places, and on the top of the longer dam, fresh made in the mud, were lion tracks as large as the crown of my hat. How sight of them made me tingle all over! Here was absolute proof of the prowling of one of the great cats.
Beaver tracks were everywhere. They were rather singular looking tracks, the front feet being five-toed, and the back three-toed, and webbed. Near the slides on the bank the water was muddy, showing that the beaver had been at work early. These animals worked mostly at night, but sometimes at sunset and sunrise. They were indeed very cautious and wary. These dams had just been completed and no aspens had yet been cut for food. Beaver usually have two holes to their home, one under the water, and the other out on the bank. We found one of these outside burrows and it was nearly a foot wide.
Upon our return to camp with the horses Haught said he could put up that lion for us, and from the size of its track he judged it to be a big one. I did not want to hunt lions and R.C. preferred to keep after bears. “Wal,” said Haught, “I’ll take an off day an’ chase thet lion. Had a burro killed here a couple of years ago.”