Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/200

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There is nothing of which they are so careful as ammunition. Always difficult to obtain, and indispensable in their engagements at the present day, every grain of powder is preserved with extraordinary solicitude. In their hunting excursions they never fire a gun or pistol if it can possibly be avoided, but depend entirely upon their skill in approaching the game near enough to use the bow and arrow. At an early period they understood fully the value of double sights on any weapon carrying a ball, and the old-fashioned single-barreled shot guns, a few of them possessed at that time, were invariably sawed into with a knife to the depth of one-eighth of an inch, a few inches from the breech, when the thin sliver was raised above the barrel and carefully notched to form the rear sight.

At the present writing they have a considerable number of Henry's, Spencer's and Sharp's rifles, with some of the fixed ammunition required by the two first mentioned. Every cartridge they get hold of is preserved with solicitude until it can be expended with decided advantage. These weapons have been obtained gradually by the robbery and murder of their former owners, and not a few have been bought in the frontier Mexican towns, where they were sold by immigrants to obtain food and other supplies while crossing the continent. The hostilities which raged along the northern portion of Mexico for four years also contributed to place within their reach many weapons of fair quality. That they know how to handle these arms with deadly skill has been attested on too many occasions to need particular mention in these pages. From Gila Bend to Paso del Norte is little better than a continuous grave-yard, grizzly with the rude monuments of Apache bloodthirstiness. Town after town, once containing several thou-