The Grey at Vulture City

Some of you may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted. A number of people in the town have asked me when I’ll be concluding the tale of my first few days in Phoenix when they’ve seen me out and about. I suspect that I’ll have some time very soon, and the reason why is a point of great news.

Earlier in the month, I posted an alert warning about travel between Phoenix and Vulture City and points between. A citrus farmer from Wickenburg, Thom Yekes, and Wickenburg’s sheriff came to me very early Saturday morning saying that Yekes had run across what he thought was a Vicksburg grey about five miles south of his town. We rounded up a group of three men and headed northwest, picking up another two in Wickenburg.

It wasn’t long before I began to see what the locals call “Menace-sign”; a bit of fur in a cholla, some odd prints. Eventually, we came upon the fresh carcasses of two jackrabbits. Leading away from them were hasty prints that morphed from human-sized to much larger. Blood trailed along side the prints until we found a third carcass. He had heard us (or smelled us) when he hunkered down to eat and was on the run. I had a good feeling about this hunt.

The trail was taking us steadily eastward, in the direction of the Hassayampa River. I suggested the other sheriff and the best marksmen in the group turn back for a few minutes and then cut directly across the river and travel back south at a full gallop to meet up with us. I had the rest of the men continue forward in an attempt to keep driving the Menace southeast instead of dead east. I took off due east and rode down the river a ways until I found a good tie up for my horse. I rolled up my pant legs and waded in. It seemed like I slogged through the Hassayampa forever before I heard a rifle crack up ahead. I picked up my pace and drew my revolver.

The sheriff had sighted the wolf first and directed his marksman to take a shot. It was a good shot, though not a kill shot. The wolf was bleeding at a decent rate from its left shoulder. The men from the west side of the river made their entrance with wild pistol shots that did nothing but announce their presence to the wolf. He used the calamity to huddle inside a shallow dirt alcove above the water line. One of the men from the west side ran forward, Bowie knife in hand. I yelled for him to stop, but either he couldn’t hear me or just ignored my warnings. Sprinting down the river, wincing at each sharp rock that stabbed deep into my heel, I didn’t have the best vantage point. All I saw was the man go into a fighting stance at the entrance to the cave and then a bloody paw slash across his chest, claws as hard as steel digging deep, scraping bone.

The man fell back and threw his knife into the cave. This drew a growl from inside. The Menace pounced before remembering he was surrounded. Bullets from my own Model 3, the marksman’s Winchester, and the sheriff’s pistol all converged on the wolf, bringing him down. The injured man was able to walk away from the scene under his own power, though we insisted that he be lashed to boards and carried between two riders back to Wickenburg. Medicine in that town is closer to butchery than surgery, but the wounds didn’t seem as bad as they had from a distance.

At the end of the day, we had one confirmed Menace kill with no loss of human life. Still, the Menace tend to hunt in packs. I saw no evidence of a second wolf, but travelers are still advised to take extra precautions between Vulture City and Phoenix until further notice.

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