The Apaches hated and feared Jim Tanner. He always brought them back. Dead or alive. When Chato, would-be war chief, believed the Great Spirit had chosen him to lead his people to freedom, broke out of the San Carlos reservation, Jim Tanner was sent to hunt him down.
The Apaches hated and feared Jim Tanner. They called him El Cazador, The Hunter, because he always returned them to the reservation. Dead or alive. Before the Americanos, the white men, had come to claim all the wild country, the Apaches had roamed free, riding wherever the game ran. But the West was changing. The Americanos had corralled the Indian Nations one by one, promising peace for eternity on the lands granted to them, and also agency beef when the hunting was poor. But when promises were broken, the Apaches grew angry. Chato, a would-be war chief, was wise enough to know if they did not make a stand, their way of life would be eroded, broken promise by broken promise until the Apaches were no more. He came to believe he had been chosen by the Great Spirit to lead his people to freedom. Gathering a small band of young braves, he broke out of the San Carlos reservation. Indian scout Jim Tanner was sent to hunt Chato down. Dispatched too was a cavalry column under the command of Lieutenant Hardcastle, a young West Point glory hunter who saw the breakout as a chance to win quick promotion. After raiding ranches across Texas and burning out an overland stagecoach relay station, it was at Hueco Tanks where the Apaches had held councils and watered their horses for centuries that Chato’s band of renegades came face to face with Jim Tanner.
A whisper and suddenly an arrow shaft was quivering in a beam only inches above Josh’s head.
Zeke grinned. “Must be short on shootin’ irons.”
His pleasure was short-lived. A rifle cracked and adobe brick powdered his
shoulder. He searched for a target but there wasn’t one. “Sneaky, red-eyed, backshooting
son of a wh…”
“Shut up, Zeke, there’s ladies present.”
In the corner Ruth Lantz was cowering in her mother’s arms, eyes wide with
terror. Kate however seemed remarkably calm, her own eyes cool and steady as she
watched the backs of the men lining the half demolished wall.
“Son of a bitch,” Zeke murmured as another arrow creased the air above his head
and landed among their gear with a clatter. He coughed belatedly to cover his cursing
and was about to turn and apologize when the rifle started. Beside him Tanner
chuckled. Zeke’s eyes flickered to him.
“You’re sure happy. You like getting shot at?”
“It’s your rifle,” Tanner grinned.
Zeke frowned. “You sure?”
“Know it anywhere.”
“I’ll kill that red…”
“If he don’t kill you first.”
“I feel naked without it.”
“You look it. There! By that cactus…” Tanner swung the barrel of his Winchester
and squeezed off a shell. The Apache ducked back out of sight, but his silhouette, the
low sun framing him like a cameo, was burnt into Tanner’s retina.
“Yuh missed him.”
Tanner worked the Winchester’s action and the spent casing twisted briefly in the
air then fell into the dust. “Damn sun. They do it the same way every time.”
“Have you faced this many times, Señor?” Servada asked, his eyes never leaving the
“Too many,” Zeke answered.
The Apache rifle stopped. Silence fell back over the barn like dust kicked over a
campfire. Josh fidgeted. The others glanced at him, then resumed their watching. They
knew what was going on. Chato had begun the attack then stopped it abruptly to
unnerve them. If the white men could fathom no reason for the sudden halt, then they
would worry what the Apaches were up to. The thing was not to worry; there wasn’t
much the Apaches could do other than a straightforward assault. Once the white men
understood that then the Apaches had lost the edge. It amounted to a waste of time.
Tanner was pleased. Any time wasted made the arrival of the cavalry column that
But even though they knew it was a ploy the silence still made them edgy.
“Kinda spooky, ain’t it,” Josh said to nobody in particular, eyes screwed up in his
“Don’t let it get to you. Sometimes you can wait so long you’re sure they’ve gone,
then the moment you show your face…”
A wild yell split the air and bullets started zinging over their heads.
The Fight At Hueco Tanks
“. . . his western books . . . earned critical praise all round . . .” —Middlesbrough Evening
The Fight At Hueco Tanks
“Chris Scott Wilson does a fine job of interpreting historical research and weaving it into
an exciting novel, The Fight at Hueco Tanks. Wilson credibly depicts the mind-set, fears, and
prejudices of both the white and Native American cultures during the turbulent Apache wars
era of the 19th Century, American Southwest. His final product is an interesting and stirring
account. If you want to read an intriguing story of the West with a touch of realism and a
bunch of adventure, The Fight at Hueco Tanks is well worth your time.” —Randy D. Smith
The Fight At Hueco Tanks
“ . . . the author is a novelist and he knows how to tell a story . . .” —Mary Williams of The