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Title: Musk-Ox, Bison, Sheep and Goat
Author: Wister, Owen, Grinnell, George Bird, Whitney, Caspar
Language: English
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                              _EDITED BY
                            CASPAR WHITNEY_

                         MUSK-OX, BISON, SHEEP
                               AND GOAT



                         MUSK-OX, BISON, SHEEP
                               AND GOAT

                            CASPAR WHITNEY
                         GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL
                              OWEN WISTER


                               New York
                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                     LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.

                         _All rights reserved_

                           COPYRIGHT, 1904,
                       BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

          Set up, electrotyped, and published February, 1904.

                            _Norwood Press
               J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
                        Norwood, Mass., U.S.A._


    CHAPTER                                                   PAGE


          I. MY FIRST KILL                                      17

         II. THE PROVISION QUESTION                             32

        III. SEASONS AND EQUIPMENT                              44

         IV. METHOD OF HUNTING                                  56

          V. THE MUSK-OX                                        70

    THE BISON. BY GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL                         107



    INDEX                                                      277


    THE BEGINNING OF THE SLAUGHTER                  _Frontispiece_


    IN THE FAR NORTH                                            15

    AT BAY                                                      30

    OUTNUMBERED                                                 45

    EAST GREENLAND MUSK-OX CALF                                 57

    HEAD OF TWO-YEAR-OLD MUSK-OX BULL                           57




    FOREFOOT OF BARREN GROUND MUSK-OX                           76


    FOREFOOT OF EAST GREENLAND MUSK-OX                          79







    MUSK-OX CALF                                               101

    THE LAST OF THE HERD                                       109

    PROTECTED                                                  139

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP                                       169

    ALERT                                                      177

    UNDER A HOT SKY                                            187

    SURPRISED                                                  201

    THE SADDLEBACK SHEEP                                       213

    ABOVE TIMBER LINE                                          229

    THE WHITE GOAT IS AN AGILE CLIMBER                         253



[Illustration: IN THE FAR NORTH]



We had passed through the “Land of Little Sticks,” as the Indians so
appropriately call that desolate waste which connects the edge of
timber land with the Barren Grounds, and had been for several days
making our way north on the lookout for any living thing that would
provide us with a mouthful of food.

We had got into one of those pieces of this great barren area, which,
broken by rocky ridges, of no great height but of frequent occurrence,
are unspeakably harassing to the travelling snow-shoer. It was the
third twelve hours of our fast, save for tea and the pipe, and all day
we had been dragging ourselves wearily up one ridge and down another
in the ever recurring and always disappointed hope that on each we
should sight caribou or musk-oxen. The Indians were discouraged and
sullen, as they usually did become on such occasions; and this troubled
me really more than not finding food, for I was in constant dread of
their growing disheartened and turning back to the woods. That was
the possibility which, since the very starting day, had at all times
and most seriously menaced the success of my venture; because we were
pushing on in the early part of March, at a time when the storms are at
their greatest severity, and when none had ever before ventured into
the Barren Grounds. Therefore, in my fear lest the Indians turn back, I
sought to make light of our difficulties by breaking into song when we
stopped to “spell”[1] our dogs, hoping by my assumed light-heartedness
to shame the Indians out of showing their desire to turn homeward.

How much I felt like singing may be imagined.

So the day dragged on without sight of a moving creature, not even a
fox, and it was past noon when we laboriously worked our way up one
particular ridge which seemed to have an unusual amount of unnecessary
and ragged rock strewn over its surface. I remember we scarcely
ventured to look into the white silent country that stretched in front
of us; disappointment had rewarded our long searchings so often that
we had somehow come to accept it as a matter of course. Squatting down
back of the sledge in shelter from the wind seemed of more immediate
concern than looking ahead for meat: at least we were sure of the
solace our pipes gave. Thus we smoked in silence, with no sign of
interest in what the immediate country ahead might hold for us, until
Beniah, the leader of my Indians, and an unusually good one, started
to his feet with an exclamation and, hurriedly climbing on top a
good-sized rock, stretched his arm ahead, obviously much stirred with
excitement. He shouted, once and loud, “_ethan_,”[2] and then continued
mumbling it as though to make his tongue sure of what his eyes beheld.
We all gathered around him, climbing his rock or on other ones, in
desperate earnestness to see what he saw in the direction he continued
pointing. It was minutes before I could discern anything having life in
the distance which reached away to the horizon all white and silent,
and then I detected a kind of vapor arising apparently from some dark
objects blurringly outlined against the snow about four miles away; it
was the mist which arises from a herd of animals where the mercury is
ranging between sixty and seventy degrees below zero, and on a clear
day may be seen five miles away. Thoroughly aroused now, I got my
field-glasses from my sledge and searched the dark objects under the
mist. They were not caribou, of that I was certain; as to what they
were I was equally uncertain, for the forms were strange to my eye. So
I handed the glasses to Beniah, saying, “_ethan illa_.”[3] Beniah took
the glasses, but as it was the first time he had ever looked through
a pair, their range and power seemed to excite him quite as much as
did the appearance of the game itself. When he did find his tongue,
he fairly shouted, “_ejerri_.”[4] I had no accurate knowledge of what
“_ejerri_” meant, but assumed we had sighted musk-oxen. Instantly all
was excitement. The Indians set up a yell and rushed for their sledges,
jabbering and laughing. It seemed incredible that these were the same
men who so shortly before had sat silent with backs to the wind,
dejected and indifferent.

Every one now busied himself turning loose his dogs,--a small matter
for the Indians, with their simply sewn harness from which the dogs
were easily slipped, but a rather complex job for me. My dog train had
come from the Post, and its harness was made of buckles and straps and
things not easily undone in freezing weather; so it happened that by
the time my dogs were unhitched, the Indians and all their dogs were
fully quarter of a mile nearer the musk-oxen than I and running for
very dear life. My preconceived notions of the musk-ox hunting game
were in a jiffy jolted to the point of destruction, as I now found
myself in a situation neither expected nor joyful. It was natural to
suppose some assistance would be given me in this strange environment,
and that the consideration of a party of my own organizing and my own
paying should be my killing the musk-ox for which I had come so long
a distance. But we were a long way from the Post and interpreters
and restraining influences; and at this moment of readjustment I
speedily realized that it was to be a survival of the fittest on this
expedition, and if I got a musk-ox it would be of my own getting.
It comforted me to know that, even though somewhat tucked up as to
stomach, due to three days’ hard travel on only tea, I was in fine
physical condition, and up to making the effort of my life.

By the time I had run about two miles I had caught the last of the
Indians, who were stretched out in a long column, with two leading
by half a mile. Within another mile I had passed all the stragglers,
and was running practically even with the second Indian, who was two
or three hundred yards behind the leading one. This Indian, Seco by
name, was one of the best snow-shoe runners I ever encountered. He
gave evidence of his endurance and speed on many another occasion than
this one, for always there was a run of four miles or more after every
musk-ox herd we sighted, and invariably a foot-race between Seco and me
preceded final leadership. I may add incidentally that he always beat
me, although we made some close finishes during the fifty-seven days we
roamed this God-forgotten bit of the earth.

On this particular day, though I passed the second Indian, Seco kept
well in the lead, with practically all the dogs just ahead of him. It
was the roughest going I had ever experienced, for the course lay over
a succession of low but sharp, rocky ridges covered with about a foot
of snow, and, on the narrow tripping shoes used in the Barren Grounds,
I broke through the crust where it was soft, or jammed my shoes between
the wind-swept rocks that lay close together, or caught in those I
attempted to clear in my stride. It was a species of hurdle racing to
test the bottom of a well-fed, conditioned athlete; how it wore on a
tea diet I need not say.

After we had been running for about an hour, it seemed to me as though
we should never see the musk-oxen. Ridge after ridge we crossed and yet
not a sight of the coveted quarry. Seco still held a lead of about one
hundred yards, and I remember I wondered in my growing fatigue why on
earth that Indian maintained such a pace, for I could not help feeling
that when the musk-oxen finally had been caught up, he would stop until
I, and all the Indians and all the dogs had come up, so as to more
certainly assure the success of the hunt: but it was not the first time
I had been with Indian hunters, and I knew well enough not to take any

In another half hour’s running, as I worked up the near side of a
rather higher and broader ridge than any we had crossed, I heard the
dogs barking, and speeding to the top, what was my disappointment, not
to say distress, at beholding twenty-five to thirty musk-oxen just
startled into running along a ridge about a quarter of a mile beyond
Seco, who, with his dogs, was in full chase after them about fifty
yards ahead of me. What I thought at that time of the Northland Indian
hunting methods, and of Seco and all my other Indians in particular,
did the situation and my condition of mind scant justice then--and
would not make goodly reading here. Had I been on an ordinary hunting
expedition, disgust with the whole fool business would, I doubt not,
have been paramount, but the thought of the distance I had come and the
privations undergone for no other reason than to get a musk-ox, made me
the more determined to succeed despite obstacles of any and all kinds.
So I went on. The wind was blowing a gale from the south when I reached
the top of the ridge along which I had seen the musk-oxen run, and
the main herd had disappeared over the northern end of it, and were a
mile away to the north, travelling with heads carried well out, though
not lowered, at an astonishing pace and ease over the rocks. Four had
separated from the main body and were going almost due east on the
south side of the ridge. I determined to stalk these four, because I
could keep the north side of the ridge, out of sight, and to leeward,
feeling certain they would sooner or later turn north to rejoin the
main herd. It seemed my best chance. I perfectly realized the risk I
ran in separating from the Indians; but at that moment nothing appeared
so important as getting a musk-ox, for which I had now travelled nearly
twelve hundred miles on snow-shoes.

I have done a deal of hunting in my life, over widely separated and
trackless sections, and had my full share of hard trips; but never
shall I forget the run along that ridge. It called for more heart and
more strength than any situation I ever faced. Already I had run, I
suppose, about five miles when I started after those four musk-oxen;
and when the first enthusiasm had passed, it seemed as though I must
give it up. Such fatigue I had never dreamed of. I have no idea how
much farther I ran,--three or four more miles, likely,--but I do
remember that after a time the fancy possessed me that those four
musk-oxen and I were alone on earth, that they knew I was after their
heads, and were luring me deep into a strange land to lose me; thus in
the great silent land we raced grimly, with death trailing the steps
of each. The dead-white surface reaching out before me without ending
seemed to rise and to fall as though I travelled a rocking ship; and
the snow and the rocks danced around my whirling head in a grinning,
glistening maze. When I fell, which frequently I did, it seemed such a
long time before I again stood on my feet; and what I saw appeared as
though seen through the small end of field-glasses.

I was in a dripping perspiration and had dropped my fur capote and
cartridge-belt after thrusting half a dozen shells into my pocket.
On and on I ran, wondering in a semi-dazed way if the musk-oxen were
really on the other side of the ridge. Finally the ridge took a sharp
turn to the north, and as I reached the top of it, there--about one
hundred yards ahead--were two of the musk-oxen running slowly but
directly from me. Instantly the blood coursed through my veins and
the mist cleared from my eyes; dropping on one knee I swung my rifle
into position, but my hand was so tremulous and my heart thumped so
heavily that the front sight wobbled all over the horizon. I realized
that this might be the only shot I should get,--for Indians had gone
into the Barren Grounds in more propitious seasons, and not seen even
one herd,--yet with the musk-oxen going away from me all the while,
every instant of time seemed an insuperable age. The agony of those
few seconds I waited so as to steady my hand! Once or twice I made
another attempt to aim, but still the hand was too uncertain. I did not
dare risk a shot. When I had rested a minute or two, that seemed fully
half an hour,--at last the fore sight held true for an instant; and I
pressed the trigger.

The exultation of that moment when I saw one of the two musk-oxen
stagger, and then fall, I know I shall never again experience.

The report of my rifle startled the other musk-ox into a wild gallop
over a ridge, and I followed as rapidly as I could, so soon as I
made sure that the other was really down. As I went over the ridge I
caught sight of the remaining musk-ox, and shot simultaneously with
two reports on my left, which I later discovered to have come from the
second Indian whom I had passed in closing upon Seco on the run to the
first view of the musk-oxen, and who now hove in sight with one dog, as
the second musk-ox dropped.

I found on returning to my kill that it was a cow, needless to say a
sore disappointment; and so, although pretty well tuckered out, I again
started to the north in the hope that I might get wind of the other two
of the four after which I had originally started, or find tracks of
stragglers from the main herd. Several miles I went on, but finding no
tracks, and darkness coming down, I turned to make my way back, knowing
that the Indians would follow up and camp by the slain musk-oxen for
the night. But as I journeyed I suddenly realized that, except for
going in a southerly direction, I really had no definite idea of the
exact direction in which I was travelling, and with night setting in
and a chilling wind blowing I knew that to lose myself might easily
mean death. So I turned about on my tracks and followed them back first
to where I had turned south, and thence on my back tracks to where the
musk-ox lay. It was a long and puzzling task, for the wind had always
partly, and for distances entirely, obliterated the earlier marks of my

Nine o’clock came before I finally reached the place where the
dead quarry lay; and there I found the Indians gnawing on raw and
half-frozen musk-ox fat. Seco, badly frozen and hardly able to crawl
from fatigue, did not turn up until midnight; and it was not until he
arrived that we lighted our little fire of sticks and had our tea.

[Illustration: AT BAY]

Then in a sixty-seven degrees below zero temperature we rolled up in
our furs, while the dogs howled and fought over the carcass of my first



Except in the summer, when the caribou are running in vast herds,
venture into the Barren Grounds entails a struggle with both cold and
hunger. It is either a feast or a famine; more frequently the latter
than the former. So there was nothing extraordinary in being upon our
third day without food at the first musk-ox killing to which I have
referred. Yet the lack of nourishment was not perhaps as trying as the
wind, which seemed to sweep directly from the frozen seas, so strong
that we had to bend low in pushing forward against it, and so bitter
as to cut our faces cruelly. Throughout my journey into this silent
land of the lone North the wind caused me more real suffering than
the semi-starvation state in which we were more or less continuously.
Indeed, for the first few weeks I had utmost difficulty in travelling;
the wind appeared to take the very breath out of my body and the
activity out of my muscles. I was physically in magnificent shape, for
I had spent a couple of weeks at Fort Resolution, on Great Slave Lake,
and what with plenty of caribou meat and a daily run of from ten to
twenty miles on snow-shoes by way of keeping in training, I was about
as fit as I have been at any time in my life. Therefore the severe
struggle with the wind impressed me the more. But the novelty wore off
in a couple of weeks, and though the conditions were always trying,
they became more endurable as I grew accustomed to the daily combat.

One of the first lessons I learned was to keep my face free from
covering, and also as clean shaven as was possible under such
circumstances. It makes me smile now to remember the elaborate hood
arrangement which was knitted for me in Canada, and that then seemed
to me one of the most important articles of my equipment. It covered
the entire head, ears, and neck, with openings only for eyes and mouth,
and in town I had viewed it as a great find; but I threw it away before
I got within a thousand miles of the Barren Grounds. The reason is
obvious: my breath turned the front of the hood into a sheet of ice
before I had run three miles; and as there was no fire in the Barren
Grounds to thaw it, of course it was an impossible thing to wear in
that region and a poor thing in any region of low temperature. After
other experiments, I found the simplest and most comfortable head-gear
to be my own long hair, which hung even with my jaw, bound about just
above the ears by a handkerchief, and the open hood of my caribou-skin
capote drawn forward over all.

I learned a great many things about hunting the musk-ox on this
first effort, and not the least memorable was the lesson of how very
difficult an animal it is to score on without the aid of a dog. This
is solely due to the lie of the land. The physical character of the
Barren Grounds is of the rolling or prairie type. Standing on the first
elevation after passing beyond the last timber, you look north across
a great expanse of desert, apparently flat country dotted with lakes
innumerable, and broken here and there by rock-topped ridges. When you
get actually into the country, you find these ridges, though not high,
are yet higher than they look to be, and the travelling in general
very rough. In summer there is no travel over the Barren Grounds,
except by canoe; for barring the generous deposit of broken rock, it is
practically a vast swamp. In the winter, of course, this is frozen over
and topped by a foot or a foot and a half of snow. It was a surprise to
find no greater depth of snow, but the fall is light in the very far
North, and the continuous gales pack and blow it so that what remains
on the ground is firm as earth. For that reason the snow-shoes used in
the Barren Grounds are of the smallest pattern used anywhere. They are
from six to eight inches wide, three feet long, and, because of the dry
character of the snow, have rather closer lacing than any other shoe.
This is the shoe used also throughout the Athabasca-Slave-Mackenzie
River sections. The snow nowhere along this line of travel is over a
couple of feet in depth, is light and dry and the “tripping” shoe,
so called, is the very best possible for such kind of going. In the
spring, when the snow is a little heavier, the lacing is more open,
otherwise the shoe is unchanged.

It is well known, I suppose, that the Barren Grounds are devoid
absolutely not only of trees but even of brush, except for some
scattered, stunted bushes that in summer are to be found in occasional
spots at the water’s edge, but may not be depended upon for fuel. From
Great Slave Lake north to the timber’s edge is about three hundred
miles; beyond that is a stretch of country perhaps of another hundred
miles, suggestively called the Land of Little Sticks by the Indians,
over which are scattered and widely separated little patches of small
pine, sometimes of an acre in extent, sometimes a little less and
sometimes a little more. They seem to be a chain of wooded islands in
this desert that connect the main timber line (which, by the way, does
not end abruptly, but straggles out for many miles, growing thinner and
thinner until it ends, and the Land of Little Sticks begins) with the
last free growth; and I never found them nearer together than a good
day’s journey. About three or four days’ travel takes you through this
Land of Little Sticks and brings you to the last wood. The last wood
that I found was a patch of about four or five acres with trees two or
three inches in diameter at their largest, although one or two isolated
ones were perhaps as large as five or six inches. Here you take the
fire-wood for your trip into the Barrens.

I have been often asked why the periods of starvation experienced
in musk-ox hunting could not be obviated by carrying food. I have
been asked, in a word, why I did not haul supplies. The patent answer
is that, in the first place, I had none to take; and that, in the
second place, if I had had a car-load at Great Slave Lake to draw
upon, I would have been unable to carry provisions with me into
the Barren Grounds. It is to be remembered that Great Slave Lake,
where I outfitted for the Barren Grounds, is nine hundred miles from
the railroad, that every pound of provision is freighted by water
usually, or by dog sledge on emergency. The Hudson’s Bay Company’s
posts, beginning at Athabasca Landing, are located along the great
waterways--Athabasca, Slave, Mackenzie rivers--about every two hundred
miles. These are small trading posts, having powder and ball, and
things to wear, and of ornament, rather than things to eat. Provisions
are taken in, but to a limited extent, and there is never a winter
which does not see the end of the company’s supplies before the ice
breaks up and the first boat of the year arrives. There is never a
plenty even for the usual demand, and an unusual demand, if it is to be
met, means a trimming all round. In snow-shoeing from the railroad to
Great Slave Lake I secured fresh sledge-dogs and men and provisions
at every post, which carried me to the next post north, whence men
and dogs returned to their own post, while I continued north with a
new supply. Although there was comparative plenty at the time of my
trip, so carefully are the stores husbanded that I never could get
supplies more than just enough to carry me to the next post; and these
were invariably skimped, so that for a five days’ journey I habitually
started with about four days’ supplies.

Thus it is easy to see why there were no provisions at Great Slave Lake
for me to draw on; and, as I have said, had there been an abundance,
it would have been impossible for me to carry them (and would be
equally so for any one else venturing into the Barren Grounds at the
same season of the year) simply for lack of transportation, which,
after all, is the great problem of this North Country. One would think
that in a land where the only means of travel for most of the year,
where almost the very existence of the people depends so largely on
sledge-dogs, there would be an abundance of them and of the best breed;
yet the truth is that sledge-dogs of any kind are scarce even on the
river thoroughfares. At the company’s posts there is not more than
one, or at the most two, spare trains; among the Indians, upon whom, of
course, I had to rely when I outfitted for the Barren Grounds, dogs are
even scarcer. Fort Resolution is one of the most important posts of the
Hudson’s Bay Company in all that great country, and yet the settlement
itself is very small, numbering perhaps fifty; the Indians--Dog Ribs
and Yellow Knives--living in the woods from six to ten days’ travel
from the post. I found it not only extremely difficult to get Indians
to go with me, but secured seven dog teams only after widest search.
This reads strange, I am sure, yet it was all but impossible for me to
secure the number of dogs and sledges required for my trip.

But, some of my friends have asked, with seven sledges and twenty-eight
dogs, surely there was room to carry enough provision to insure against
starvation in the Barren Grounds? Not at all. There was not room to
carry more than tea, tobacco, our sleeping-furs, and moccasins and
duffel socks. Moccasins and duffel and tobacco and tea are the highly
essential articles in the Barren Ground outfit. The duffel is a light
kind of blanket which is made into leggings and also into socks.
You wear three pairs inside your moccasins, and at night, if you
have been well advised, you put next to your feet a slipper moccasin
of the unborn musk-ox, hair inside. It must be remembered that in
the Barren Grounds you have no fire to thaw out or dry frozen and
wet clothing. The tiny fire you do have is only enough to make tea.
Therefore abundant duffel and moccasins are necessary, first, to have
a dry, fresh change, and second, to replenish them as they wear out,
as they do more than elsewhere, because of the rocky going. As for
tea and tobacco, no human being could stand the cold and the hardship
of a winter Barren Ground trip without putting something hot into
his stomach every day, while the tobacco is at once a stimulant and
a solace. The space left on the sledge after the tea and tobacco and
moccasins and duffel have been stowed must be filled with the sticks
that you cut into pieces (just the width of the sledge) at the last
wood on the edge of the Barren Grounds proper. The sledge is a toboggan
about nine feet in length and a foot and a half in width, made of two
or three birch slats held together by crosspieces lashed on to them
with caribou thongs, turned over and back at the front into a dasher,
which is covered by a caribou apron (sometimes decorated in crude
painting), and held in its curved position by strings of babiche,--as
the thongs of caribou skin are called,--the same material which
furnishes the snow-shoe lacing. On this sledge is fitted a caribou-skin
body, about seven feet in length, the full width of the sledge, and a
foot and a half deep. Into this is stowed the load. Then the top sides
are drawn together, and the whole lashed firmly to the sledge by side
lines. This must be done with the care and security bestowed upon the
diamond hitch used on pack-animals; for the sledge in the course of a
day’s travel is roughly knocked about.

It requires no further explanation, I fancy, to show why it is not
possible to carry provisions.

One of my friends on my return from this trip suggested the possibility
of shipping dogs into the country; of doing, in a word, somewhat as
do the pole-hunting expeditions. That might be possible to a wealthy
adventurer, but, even so, I should consider it an experiment of very
doubtful results, simply because of the impossibility of feeding the
dogs after they had arrived in the country, or of providing for them
after you had started into the Barren Grounds. There is a period
in the summer at Great Slave Lake when any number of dogs could be
sufficiently fed on the quantities of fish that are then to be caught
in the lake; and no doubt enough fish could be stored to feed them in
the season when the lakes are frozen, if the dogs remained at the post.
Even so, that would keep busy a number of especially engaged fishermen.
But when you started for the Barren Grounds with all these dogs, your
feeding problem would be an overwhelming one indeed, for only in the
midsummer, when the caribou are to be found in large herds, would it be
possible to kill meat for a great many dogs; and in midsummer you would
not, could not, use dogs at all; at that season the Barren Grounds
are invaded by means of the chain of lakes and short portages which
begin at the northeastern end of the Great Slave Lake. Even travelling
along the river the question of dog feed is a serious one, and you
are obliged to carry the fish which have been caught the previous
summer and stored at the posts in great frozen heaps. It is obvious,
therefore, that there is no easy or comfortable way of getting into the
Barren Grounds. It would be impracticable to do other than rely on the
resources at hand and go into the silent land just as do the Indians.
It is simply impracticable to do other than to depend on the caribou
and the musk-oxen for food for both men and dogs.



Midsummer is the season when the hunter may visit the Barren Grounds
with the least discomfort and least danger, for at this time you go
by canoe. The caribou are plentiful and the thermometer rarely goes
below freezing-point. But even then trials are many, and there is
considerable danger of starvation. The mosquitoes are a pest almost
beyond endurance, and the caribou, although abundant, are down toward
the Arctic and of very uncertain movement. Their course of migration
one year may be fifty to one hundred miles east or west of where it was
the preceding year. In the 350,000 square miles of the Barren Grounds
one may easily go days without finding caribou even at such a time of
plenty; and not to find them might easily mean starvation.

[Illustration: OUTNUMBERED]

The most extensive trips into the Barren Grounds for musk-oxen previous
to my venture had been made by two Englishmen, Warburton Pike and
Henry Toke Munn. Mr. Pike (a hunter of experience whose book, “Barren
Ground of Northern Canada,” published in 1892, still stands as one
of the most interesting and faithful contributions to the literature
of sport and adventure) spent the better part of two years in this
country, and made several summer and autumn trips into the Barren
Grounds. He made one summer trip solely for the purpose of killing and
cacheing caribou, which he might draw upon in the next autumn musk-ox
hunt when the caribou were scarce. Yet, notwithstanding all this
preparation, he had a very hard time of it in the autumn hunt and was
unable to accomplish all that he set out to do. He did get, however,
the musk-ox he went after. On Munn’s autumn trip, although there were
yet to be had some fish in the lakes, he and his party and their dogs
had a starving time of it indeed. I particularize these two trips to
instance the difficulties of hunting in the Barren Grounds, even when
the conditions are the most favorable that may be had.

The Indians time their hunting trips into the Barren Grounds by the
movement of the caribou,--in the early summer, about May, when the
caribou begin their migration from the woods down to the Arctic Ocean;
and in the early autumn when the caribou are fairly well distributed
and are working back toward the wood again. Caribou are absolutely
essential to penetration of the Barren Grounds, because from the
woods to where musk-oxen are found is a considerable distance, and no
possible meat except that supplied by these members of the deer family.
Nor is a trip into the Barren Grounds always rewarded with musk-oxen.
Many Indian parties have gone in and failed to see even a track, and
many others have skirmished along the edge, dreading to plunge into the
interior, and hopeful perhaps of a stray ox. The Indians, who do not
now hunt musk-oxen as much as formerly owing to the lessened demand
for the pelt, usually go in parties of four to six; never less than
four, because they would be unable to carry a wood supply adequate
to getting far enough into the Barren Grounds for reasonable hope of
securing the game; and rarely more than six, because when they have
got as far into the country as six sledges of wood will permit, they
have either got what they want, or they have had enough of freezing and
starving to impel a start homeward. Only the hardiest make the trip;
to be a musk-ox hunter and an enduring snow-shoe runner, is the dearest
ambition of and the greatest height to which the Far Northland Indian
can attain.

Before I started on my trip I heard much of pemmican, and fancied it
procurable at almost any northern post, as well as supposing it a
reliable source of provender. The truth is, however, that pemmican is
a very rare article these days in that section of the country, and in
fact is not to be found anywhere south of Great Slave Lake, and only
there on occasion. This is largely because the caribou are not so
numerous as formerly, and the Indians prefer to keep the grease for
home consumption, when at ease in their autumn camps. Even among the
Indians around Great Slave Lake pemmican is used but very little in
the ordinary tripping (travelling). It has been substituted by pounded
caribou meat, which is carried in little caribou-skin bags and eaten
with grease. One can never get too much of grease in the Northland,
where it is eaten as some consume sugar in the civilized world. And
this is to be accounted for by the burning up of the tissues in cold
dry climate and the absence of bread and vegetables; for meat and tea
are the sole articles of food. Coffee, by the way, is a luxury to be
found only occasionally on the table of a Hudson’s Bay Company post

There is so much to be told, if one is to give an adequate idea of
what hunting the musk-ox implies, that I find it somewhat difficult,
without going to considerable length, to cover the entire field. I
suppose it is because the musk-ox is the most inaccessible animal
in the whole wide world, that there is so much curiosity concerning
the conditions of hunting it, and so much interest in the recital of
one’s experience. From time to time a great many letters come to me
filled with questions, and I am and shall always be happy to add in
personal letters any data I may have overlooked here. I am trying,
however, to make this chapter thoroughly practical and intelligible to
those with any thought of ever seeking the musk-ox in this region. The
easiest way, as I have said, is to go by Hudson’s Bay Trading boat,
which leaves Athabasca Landing as soon as the ice breaks, down to
Resolution. If you have arranged beforehand by letter with the factor
at Resolution, you will arrive there in time to make a summer hunt into
the Barren Grounds, which is reached, as I have shown, by means of
short portages and a chain of lakes, starting from the northeast corner
of Great Slave Lake, and following Lockhart’s River. If you are not
delayed and do not get too far into the Barren Grounds, you would stand
a chance of getting out and back to Athabasca Landing on the water; but
everything would have to go your way and the trip be most expeditious
in order to do this. If you were not out in time to go by open water,
it would necessitate a nine hundred mile snow-shoe trip, or laying over
until the following spring when the ice broke up again.

The Canadian government has protected musk-oxen for several years, and
in order to hunt, one must be provided with a special permit from that
government. The protection of the musk-ox seems scarcely necessary,
for although the polar expeditions have slaughtered a great many on
Greenland and on the Arctic islands, the killing of them in the Barren
Grounds proper never has been, and never will be, sufficiently large
to give concern to the Canadian government. The musk-ox is of a genus
that seems to be a declining type among the world’s animals, but if
extinction comes to those in the Barren Grounds, it certainly will
never be through their killing by white men or Indians. If any great
value attached to the hide, it might be another story; but the truth is
that the musk-ox robe is not a valuable fur, is sought after, indeed,
but very little. It is too coarse to wear, and the only use to which it
seems admirably adapted is as a sleigh-robe.

There is no difficulty in getting Indians for the summer hunt, for then
the labor is slight as compared with snow-shoeing, and there need be no
considerable worry about provisions. Nor would there be but very little
trouble in securing Indians for the early autumn. The great difficulty
I encountered in organizing my party was due solely to the time of year
in which I made the venture. I was not particularly seeking hardship,
but I had to go when I could get away from my professional duties, and
that brought me to Great Slave Lake the first of March. February and
March are the two severest months of the entire year in the Barren
Grounds. It is the time when the storms are at their height and the
thermometer at its lowest. No one had ever been into the Barren Grounds
at that period, and the Indians, who are very loath to venture into an
unknown country or at an unusual season, were disinclined to accompany
me. Indeed it was only by diplomatic handling of the leader and through
the extremely kind offices of the Hudson’s Bay Company post factor,
Gaudet, that I ever succeeded in getting started.

Perhaps it will serve those contemplating such a trip one day, to
record here my personal equipment.

    One winter caribou-skin robe, lined with a pair of 4-point
    Hudson’s Bay Company blankets.

    One winter caribou-skin capote (coat with hood).

    One heavy sweater.

    Two pairs of moose fur-lined mittens.

    One pair moose-skin gloves. (Worn inside of mittens.)

    One pair strouds (loose-fitting leggings).

    Three silk handkerchiefs.

    Eight pairs of moccasins.

    Eight pairs of duffel socks.

    One copper kettle (for boiling tea).

    One cup.

    45-90 Winchester half magazine rifle.

    Hunting-knife. (See cut page 45.)


    Spirit thermometer.

    10 pounds of tea.

    12 pounds of tobacco.

    Several boxes of matches.

    Flint and steel and tinder.

    Two bottles of mustang liniment (which promptly froze solid and
    remained so; it was fortunate I did not have occasion to use

In addition I carried, in case of emergency, such as amputation of
frozen toes or other equally unpleasant incidents,--a surgeon’s knife,
antiseptic lozenges, bandages, and iodoform. Of this outfit no two
articles were more important perhaps than the moose-skin gloves and the
strouds. The gloves are worn inside the mittens and worn always; one
never goes barehanded in the Barren Grounds at any time, day or night,
if one is wise. The strouds (reaching above the knee and held up by a
thong and loop attached to waist belt) catch the flying and freezing
snow dust from the snow-shoes, thus protecting the trousers. I forgot
to add, by the way, that I wore Irish frieze trousers, cut small at
the bottoms so as to be easily tied about the ankles. My underwear
was of the heaviest, and I carried a pair of moccasin slippers made
of the unborn musk-ox calf, fur inside. If you ever make a trip after
musk-oxen, do not bring in anything from the outside, except your
rifle, ammunition, and knife. Everything else you should secure at
the outfitting post. There is nothing in this world that equals the
caribou-skin capote for travel in the Northland; it is very light and
practically impervious to the wind. You will also carry with you a
tepee, made of caribou skin. This tepee, or lodge, is not carried for
your comfort or protection against inclement weather, but entirely for
the protection of your camp-fire; because the furious wind that sweeps
the Barren Grounds in winter would not only blow out your flame but
blow away your wood as well. The poles for your lodge you cut at the
last wood and lash to the side of the sledge.

In summer time the question of transportation is much simpler; you go
by canoe and you do not need strouds or the winter caribou-skin capote.
There is a very great difference between the winter and the summer
caribou pelts, and the latter is used for the summer trips. Nor do you
need a tepee in summer.



Among the Indians that live south and west of the Barren Grounds (no
Indian lives in the Barren Grounds), the method of hunting the musk-ox
is practically the same, and, as I have shown in the early part of this
paper, it is because the Indians lack high hunting skill and because
their dogs are neither trained nor courageous that bigger kills are
not made. White hunters and trained dogs could practically wipe out
every herd of musk-oxen they encountered; for while it is true that
musk-oxen give you a long run once you have sighted them, yet when you
get up to them, when the dogs have brought them to bay, it is almost
like shooting cattle in a corral. There is always a long run. I think
I never had less than three miles, and in the first hunt which I have
described, I must have run nine or ten. But, as I say, when you get up
to them it is easy, for they will stand to the dogs so long as the
dogs bay them. And all this running would be unnecessary if the Indians
exercised more hunting skill and judgment.


Collected at Fort Conger by Commander R. E. Peary, U.S.N. (From a
photograph provided by the American Museum of Natural History)]


Killed and photographed in the Barren Grounds by the author. The horns
are just beginning to show a downward tendency. Hair over forehead is
gray, short, and somewhat curly. The background is the tepee referred
to in the text.]

Although the prairie form of the country is not altogether the best
for stalking, yet one could stalk comparatively near a herd before
turning the dogs loose. The Indians never do this, and, in addition,
the dogs set up a yelping and a howling the moment they catch sight
of the quarry. This, of course, starts off the musk-oxen, which
invariably choose the roughest part of the country, no doubt feeling,
and rightly, too, that their pursuers will have the more difficult
time following. Indian dogs are not always to be relied upon, for they
have a disposition to hunt in a group, and your entire bunch of dogs
is apt to stop and hold only three or four stragglers of the herd
while the remainder of the musk-oxen escape. Sometimes when they stop
practically the entire herd, the dogs are very likely, before you come
up to them, to shift, leaving their original position and gradually
drawing together; perhaps, the whole pack of dogs finally holding only
half a dozen, while the rest of the musk-oxen have run on. Musk-oxen,
when stopped, invariably form a circle with their sterns in and their
heads out; it matters not whether the herd is thirty or half a dozen,
their action is the same. If there are only two, they stand stern to
stern, facing out. I have seen a single musk-ox back up against a rock.
Apparently they feel safe only when they get their sterns up against

Hunting musk-oxen on the Arctic Coast or the Arctic islands after the
manner of the polar expeditions, is a much simpler proposition. There
the hunters are always comparatively near their base of supplies, and,
from all accounts, the musk-oxen are more numerous than they are in the
interior. According to Frederick Schwatka, the Innuits hunt musk-oxen
with great skill. They hitch their dogs to the sledge differently
from the method of the Indians to the south. The southern Indians
hitch their four dogs in tandem between two common traces, one on each
side; while each Eskimo dog has his own single trace, which is hitched
independently to the sledge. When the Innuits sight the musk-oxen, each
hunter takes the dogs of his sledge, and holding their traces in his
hand, starts after the game. The wisdom of this method is twofold: in
the first place it immeasurably aids the running hunter, for the four
or five straining dogs practically pull him along; indeed, Schwatka
says that when these Innuits come to a hill they squat and slide down,
throwing themselves at full length upon the snow of the ascending bank,
up which the excited dogs drag them without any effort on the part of
the hunter. I should like to add here that if such a plan were pursued
in the Barren Grounds over the rocky ridges, the remains of the hunter
would not be interested in musk-ox hunting by the time the top of a
ridge was reached. Seriously, the chief value of hunting in this style
is that the hunter controls his four to six dogs, the usual number of
the Eskimo sledge. When they have caught up with the musk-ox herd, he
then looses them and he is there to begin action. The Eskimo dogs are
very superior in breed to those used by the Indians farther south, and
are trained as well to run mute.

The chances of getting musk-oxen in the Barren Grounds are not so good
in summer as in winter, because travelling by canoe you are, of course,
bound to keep to the chain of lakes, and your course is therefore
prescribed, it being impossible to travel over the land at will as
it is in winter when all is frozen. One day’s hunting is about like
another. There is nothing to kindle the eye of the nature lover. In
winter it is like travelling over a great frozen sea; in summer it
is a great desolate waste of moss and lichen, dotted with lakes and
rock-topped ridges, which observe no one or special form of direction.
There is a black moss that the Indians sometimes burn if they can find
it dry enough, and a little shrub that furnishes a bitter tea if the
tea of civilization has run out. Nearly all of the lakes have fish, and
a hunter ought really, with experience and judgment, to go in and out
in summer time without suffering any excessive starvation. Warburton
Pike, who has studied the Barren Grounds in summer time more thoroughly
than any other man living, reports spots covered with wild flowers that
grow to no height but in comparative profusion and some beauty.

The distance you make in a summer day of Barren Grounds travel may
depend entirely on your inclination, for with the fish and the moving
caribou you are fairly well assured against hunger, and the weather
is comparatively warm and permits of lingering along the route. It is
quite another story in the winter, for then food is always a problem,
and every day draws on your slender supply of wood. Of course the
farther you penetrate, the nearer you get to the Arctic Coast, the more
likely you are to see musk-oxen; and the faster you travel, of course,
the farther you can penetrate. We averaged about twenty miles a day.
That means that we kept busy every hour from the time we started until
we camped. The hour of starting depended very largely upon whether or
not there was a moon. If there was a moon, we would get started so
as to be well under way by daylight, which when we first entered the
Barren Grounds would be about nine o’clock. If there was no moon, we
waited for daylight. There always was a moon unless it stormed; but
it stormed most of the time. When there was a moon, however, it was
always full. Travelling from Lac La Biche to Great Slave Lake on the
frozen rivers, where it was a mere question of getting from one post
to another, we used to start about two o’clock in the morning, the sun
coming up about ten o’clock and setting at about three, and darkness
falling almost immediately thereafter. In this river travelling I
averaged a full thirty-five miles a day for the (about) nine hundred

[Illustration: MUSK-OXEN ON CAPE MORRIS JESUP (88° 39´ North Lat.).

The animals are within a quarter of a mile of the extreme northern
limit of the most northerly land on the globe. Photograph by courtesy
of Robert E. Peary, by whose expedition it was taken.]

[Illustration: The Author’s Barren Ground Hunting Knife and Ax (14
inches long)]

I think the most trying hour of the twenty-four in the Barren Grounds
day was at the camping time in the afternoon. Beniah invariably chose
the highest and most exposed position to be found, that our tepee might
be the more visible to the scouts, kept out all day on either side
looking for caribou, or musk-oxen; and there was always the delaying
discussion of the Indians amongst themselves, while I, chilled to the
bone by the inaction, stood around awaiting the close of the argument
before it was possible to get to the business of camp-making. Because
the snow was packed so hard as to be impossible to shovel away with the
snow-shoe, a rocky site was always sought, where we fitted our bodies
to the uneven ground as best we could. With the camp site definitely
chosen, a circle was made of the sledges, touching head and tail; then
three lodge poles, tied together at the top, were set up in the form
of a triangle, with the ends stuck into the sledges to give them firm
footing, and the four remaining poles placed so as to make a cone of
the triangle. Over and around this was stretched the caribou-skin
tepee, with the bottom edge drawn down and outside the sledges. Blocks
of snow were then cut and banked up around the outside of the tepee
and against the sledges; all this by way of firmly anchoring the tepee,
which set so low that one’s head and shoulders would be in the open
when standing upright in the centre; but that was of no consequence,
the lodge being set up merely as a protection to the fire. A short
pole, also carried along from the last wood, was lashed from side
to side of the tepee, on to the lodge poles proper, and from this,
attached by a piece of babiche and a forked stick, hung the kettle.
Then, all being ready, four or five sticks were taken from the sledges
equally, and split into kindling wood with the heavy knife one needs
to carry in musk-ox hunting. Of course the fire furnished no warmth;
it was not built for that purpose; it was simply to boil the tea, and
perhaps I can best give an idea of its size in saying that by the time
the snow in the kettle had been melted to water and the water begun to
boil,--the fire was exhausted. While it blazed and the tea was making,
always the close circle of seven hungry men, shoulder to shoulder,
squatted around the light in the fancy that some heat must come from
that little jumping flame. Outside that other circle of sledges, the
dogs snuffed and sniffed and howled. Once I took off my gloves, with
the thought of warming my fingers. I made no second experiment of the

Having drunk the tea, we rolled up in our fur robes, lying side by
side around the tepee, with feet toward the fire and head against the
sledge, knees into the back of the man next you, and snow-shoes under
your head, away from the dogs that would eat the lacing. This was only
preparation for sleep; actual sleep, even to men as tired as we were,
never came until the dogs had finished fighting over us; for so soon as
we were rolled in our robes the dogs invariably poured into the tepee.
As there were twenty-eight dogs, and the lodge about seven feet in
diameter at its base, I need not further describe the situation. Truth
is, that no hour in the day or night was more miserable than this, when
these half-starved brutes fought over and on top of us before they
finally settled down upon us. In extreme cold weather a dog curled up
at your feet or at your back is not unpleasant; but to have one lying
on your head, another on your shoulders or hips, or perhaps a third on
your feet, and you lying on your side on rocky, uneven ground--take my
word for it, the experience is not happy. Of course you are entirely
wrapped up, head and arms as well, in your sleeping robe; if you rise
up to knock the dogs off, you open your robe to the cold: and the dogs
would be back on top of you again just as soon as you had lain down.

It is all in the Musk-ox game; and so you endure.



[Illustration: THE BARREN GROUND MUSK-OX--(_Ovibos moschatus_)

A full-grown bull. (From a photograph provided by the American Museum
of Natural History)]

Although there is nothing in the appearance or in the life of the
musk-ox to suggest romance, yet the Indians and the Eskimo surround
it with much mystery. They say it is not like other animals, that it
is cunning and plays tricks on them, that it is not safe to approach,
that it understands what is said. The Indians among whom I travelled
have a tradition that long years ago a woman wandered into the Barren
Grounds, was lost, and finally turned into a musk-ox by the “enemy.”
Perhaps this accounts for the occasional habit these Indians have when
pursuing musk-oxen of talking to them, instructing them as to the
direction of their flight, etc. Several authors maintain that these
Indians, when hunting, do not talk to other animals; but I have heard
them jabbering while hunting caribou after the same manner they do when
running after musk-oxen. Why the Indians should consider the musk-ox
tricky or ferocious, appears to me to be the only mysterious element in
the discussion; a less ferocious looking animal for its size would, it
seems to me, be impossible to find. Several Arctic explorers who have
written on the musk-ox also refer to it as “formidable” appearing and
“ferocious,” but those are the last adjectives that I should apply to
the creature. The Indians and some of the Arctic authors also say that
it is dangerous to approach, especially when wounded. My experience
does not indorse that statement. We encountered about one hundred and
twenty-five musk-oxen, killing forty-seven, and I did not see one
that even suggested the charging proclivities for which it is given
credit. They stand with lowered heads, making a hook at the dogs that
are nearest, and on occasion making a movement forward, practically
a bluff at charging, but I never saw one really charge a dog, much
less a man. I do not believe they can be induced to break the circle
they invariably form, as they would, of course, do in charging. On one
occasion I wounded a musk-ox badly enough to enable me to run him over
and around a series of short ridges finally to a standstill. He was
entirely alone, and I was without a dog, and when I had got to within
seventy-five feet of him he suddenly stopped running and faced me,
setting his stern against a rock--or, rather, over it, for it was quite
a small rock. I walked up to within about thirty or forty feet of him,
and took a head shot. I thought to see if I could reach his brain, but
the boss of his great frontal horn protects it, except for the small
opening of an inch where the horns are divided. Then with an idea of
putting a ball back of his shoulder or back of his ear, I tried to get
on his side, but as I moved, he moved, always keeping his head straight
at me, and we made several complete circles; yet, in that time,--I
suppose ten or fifteen minutes--he never offered to charge. If a
straggling dog had not come my way and attracted the bull’s attention,
I probably never would have got the chance of a shoulder shot. Mr.
Pike, whom, of living men, I consider to have made the most extended
study of the musk-ox, agrees entirely with my view of the animal so
far as its charging is concerned. Perhaps the musk-ox might charge if
you walked up and pulled his ear, but I doubt if he would under less
provocation, and really, I do not feel so certain that he would even
then. He seems a stupid, mild creature,--anything but “ferocious.”
In one little band of eight which we had separated from the main herd
and killed, a yearling calf ran against my legs, seemingly seeking
protection from the dogs precisely as a young sheep would.

[Illustration: Forefoot of Barren Grounds Musk-ox. ½ actual size]

The musk-ox appears, in fact, to be a veritable link between the ox and
the sheep. It has the rudimentary tail, the molar teeth structure, the
hairy muzzle, and the intestines of the sheep; while its short and wide
canon-bones are like those of the ox, and differ widely from either
sheep or goat. The hoofs are large, with curved toes and somewhat
concave underneath, like the caribou hoof, which facilitates climbing
rocky ridges and scraping away the snow from their only food, the
lichen and the moss, for which purpose their horns are also admirably
adapted. Mr. Rhodes has advanced the theory of the existence of a
transition between the musk-ox and the bison, but the structure of the
molar teeth and the rudimentary tail convince Professor R. Lydekker,
perhaps the foremost scientific authority, of the impossibility
of there being any manner of relationship between the two groups.
Scientifically, the musk-ox is of the genus OVIBUS, divided into _O.
moschatus_, the Barren Grounds and Greenland type, the _O. wardi_
(Lydekker), and _O. bombifrons_, otherwise known as the Harlan’s
musk-ox, an extinct type that, in a word, differed from the present
living type largely in shape of the horns, which did not have the
downward curve of those in existence, nor did the curve of the horns
come closely to the head as they do now.

[Illustration: FULL-GROWN EAST GREENLAND MUSK-OX--(_Ovibos Wardi_)

Adult male. (From a photograph provided by the American Museum of
Natural History)]

[Illustration: Forefoot of East Greenland Musk-ox. ½ actual size]

Until 1898 _O. moschatus_ was the only existing type known to either
hunters or scientists. In that year, however, Lieutenant Peary, the
Arctic explorer, killed in Bache Peninsula, Greenland, a series of
specimens which, on being sent to the Museum of Natural History of New
York, were decided by Professor J. A. Allen as having sufficient
distinction to warrant classification. Meantime Rowland Ward, the
London taxidermist, had secured, by purchase, a couple of similar
specimens from East Greenland which Professor Lydekker recognized as a
new variety, and in honor of Mr. Ward named _O. moschatus wardi_. Mr.
Ward’s specimens were secured from whalers who, in turn, got them from
trading with natives in East Greenland. Lieutenant Peary’s specimens,
however, were collected on the ground by himself, and he is certainly
entitled to the honor of the new variety bearing his name. So Professor
Allen rightly thinks, and though he has adopted Professor Lydekker’s
name, he reserves _O. pearyi_ (Allen) as a provisionary one which
may be accepted for the Grinnell Land animal in case it should prove
to be separable. This, however, does not appear likely. The most
distinguishing difference between the _O. wardi_, as called, or _O.
pearyi_, as it should be known, and the _O. moschatus_, is in the head.
The entire front of the new variety head is more or less gray instead
of wholly brown, as is the _O. moschatus_; while the horn base of the
new variety is much narrower and slightly different in shape from those
of the old variety. The skulls of the two varieties are practically
alike; at least there is very slight difference. The general color of
the fur of the new variety is a little lighter, and the animal itself
is not so large or heavily built.

[Illustration: SKULL OF THE EAST GREENLAND MUSK-OX--(_Ovibos Wardi_)]

[Illustration: SKULL OF THE BARREN GROUND MUSK-OX--(_Ovibos moschatus_)]

[Illustration: SIDE VIEW--(_Ovibos Wardi_)]

[Illustration: SIDE VIEW--(_Ovibos moschatus_)]

How either variety of musk-ox ever got to Greenland has been a
subject of much discussion among scientists who seem now, however, to
have finally decided that they reached the island from the west by
crossing Smith Sound from Ellesmere Land, and by crossing Robeson’s
Channel from Grinnell Land, thence along the low Greenland Coast
to East Greenland. Outside of the Arctic islands and of Arctic America
so far south as the 62d parallel, the musk-ox is unknown. There was a
time, however, when its range included all that part of the northern
hemisphere between, roughly speaking, the Arctic Circle and the North
Pole. It seems even possible that in the dim ages, the musk-ox had a
wider and much more southern distribution, for the skull from which the
extinct type _bombifrons_ was named, was found in Kentucky, another
having been found also in Arkansas. Fossil remains of musk-oxen have
been unearthed in Siberia, Alaska, Grinnell Land, and Northern Europe.
There is no authentic data of their having been found in Alaska within
the memory of present living man, and they do not range within two
hundred miles of the Mackenzie River, which is laid down as their
western limit. Much has been said of their being of recent existence
in Alaska. I made careful search for authentic data concerning their
western range, but secured no information at all trustworthy of even a
tradition of them in Alaska; while nothing more certain than hearsay
handed from father to son did I find as to their being seen near the
Mackenzie River. From time to time statements find their way into print
of a musk-ox found in Alaska. Such misleading information is based on
the tales of traders who may perhaps have got a musk-ox skin at some
Alaskan post. Mr. Andrew J. Stone, who has spent several years in the
Far North collecting for the Museum of Natural History, and who knows
Alaska and all that great stretch of country west of the Mackenzie
River thoroughly, has covered this question in a statement published in
an American Museum bulletin in 1901. It touches finally upon a question
much agitated, and it seems to me sufficiently important to make
permanent record here. Therefore I reproduce it.


(From a photograph provided by the American Museum of Natural History)]


                                                       Febr’y 28, 1901.


    In response to your inquiry in reference to the existence of
    the musk-ox (_Ovibos moschatus_) west of the Mackenzie River,
    or in Alaska, I will state there are none of these animals in
    any part of Arctic America west of the Mackenzie. Previous to
    my departure for the North in the spring of 1897, I had for
    several years carefully searched for information upon this
    subject, and from what I had gathered I had a faint hope of
    finding some of these animals in the mountains west of the
    Mackenzie, just south of the Arctic Coast. These mountains
    are known, respectively, as the Richardson, Buckland, British,
    Romanzof, and Franklin Mountains, but in reality they are the
    western extension of the main Rocky Mountain range that bends
    west from the Mackenzie along the Arctic Coast. On reaching
    the neighborhood of these mountains, however, in the winter of
    1898-99, all hope of finding living specimens of musk-ox in
    them was destroyed.

    The Romanzof Mountains, from which specimens of musk-ox are
    reported to have recently been brought, by way of Camden Bay,
    are about one hundred and seventy-five miles west of Herschel
    Island. The Pacific Steam Whaling Company, with offices at No.
    30 California Street, San Francisco, have maintained a whaling
    station at Herschel Island for a number of years; there has
    also been established there for a number of years a Church
    of England Mission, under the direction of the Rev. I. O.
    Stringer. I visited Herschel Island in November and December,
    1898, for the purpose of collecting all possible information
    relative to the animal life of those regions. On my way to
    and from Herschel Island I sledded the very base of the Davis
    Gilbert, Richardson, and Buckland Mountains. I stopped over
    night on both journeys with a lot of Eskimo, at that time
    hunting the Davis Gilbert Mountains and living in what is known
    as Oakpik (willow camp), in the extreme western part of the
    Mackenzie delta, very near the foot of the mountains. Specimens
    of _Ovis dalli_ (white sheep) and of caribou and fur-bearing
    animals were plentiful in their camp, but there was no sign of

    At Shingle Point, on the Arctic Coast, near the Richardson
    Mountains, I spent several days with a man who was trading with
    the Eskimo who were hunting the Richardson Mountains. There
    were several Eskimo in his camp at the time, and he had in his
    possession skins of the white sheep, caribou, and a variety of
    fur-bearing animals, but there was no sign of musk-ox, and
    I learned on careful inquiry through my interpreter that the
    natives seemed to know nothing of them, with the exception
    of one young man who had been to the eastward on one of the
    whaling ships. The Tooyogmioots, a tribe of Eskimo who once
    lived along this coast and hunted these different mountains,
    are now almost extinct. I found between the mouth of the
    Mackenzie and Herschel Island a very few individuals living in
    snow houses, but I did not find in or around their places of
    residence any sign of musk-ox skins, bones, or heads.

    I remained at Herschel Island from Nov. 24 to Dec. 14, visiting
    the Rev. I. O. Stringer and Capt. Haggerty of the steam-whaler,
    _Mary Dehume_. Both men were able to converse readily with
    the Eskimo in the Eskimo tongue, and they gave me every
    possible assistance in making my inquiries. This whole coast
    far to the westward of Herschel Island is now occupied by the
    Noonitagmiott tribe of Eskimo. There were a large number of
    these people at the island, and among them were parties who
    hunted all the mountains of the mainland mentioned, living in
    the mountains a great part of the time. Many skins of caribou,
    sheep, and fur-bearing animals were seen in the possession
    of these people, but none of them possessed any part of the
    musk-ox, and the only members of the tribe who knew anything
    of the musk-ox were those who had been carried to the east by
    whaling ships. The Rev. Mr. Stringer takes great interest in
    the natural resources of the country and travels extensively
    among these people, but he had no knowledge of the existence
    of any musk-oxen west of the Mackenzie. Capt. Haggerty had
    wintered along this coast for a number of years, trading
    extensively with the natives, but he had never secured or heard
    of a musk-ox skin west of the Mackenzie.

    All the whaling ships, which have wintered here for years,
    sometimes as many as fifteen at the same time, keep Eskimo
    hunters in the field continually for the purpose of securing
    fresh meat for the crews, sending white sailors in charge of
    dog sleds to visit the Eskimo camps to bring in the meat. It
    is not uncommon for these sleds to go one hundred and fifty
    to two hundred miles for meat, and all the mountains to the
    north and west of Herschel Island have been visited many times
    by these hunters and sledding parties, without obtaining any
    trace of musk-ox. Collinson, who wintered near Camden Bay in
    1853-54, does not mention the musk-ox. The U. S. Government
    Survey party, which wintered on the Porcupine several years ago
    and visited Rampart House, a Hudson Bay trading post at the
    Ramparts on the Porcupine River, and who went from there with
    Mr. John Firth, the Hudson Bay Company’s trader, north through
    these mountains to the Arctic Coast and returned, did not
    find musk-ox. Several white men have travelled back and forth
    through these mountains from Fort Yukon, on the Yukon River, to
    Herschel Island, for the purpose of securing sled dogs of the
    Eskimo on the Arctic Coast, to be used on the Yukon, without
    securing or learning anything of the musk-ox. Mr. Hodgson and
    Mr. Firth, both in the service of the Hudson Bay Company, have
    been stationed at Fort Yukon at the mouth of the Porcupine,
    at Rampart House on the Porcupine, and at Lapierres House on
    Bell River, a tributary of the Porcupine, during a period
    of over thirty years, trading with the Loucheaux Indians,
    several tribes of which hunt north of these places into the
    mountains mentioned, without ever obtaining any knowledge of
    the existence of musk-ox; and the Hudson Bay Company have never
    secured at any of these posts any skins of the musk-ox.

    Previous to the advent of the whalers on this coast, the coast
    Eskimo also traded at these Hudson Bay posts. The country
    between the Porcupine River and the Arctic Coast, in which
    district the mountains above mentioned are situated, is
    entirely accessible from the north or south, and every part of
    it has been hunted for years by the Eskimo and Indians. Barter
    Island, near Camden Bay, has been the rendezvous of the north
    coast Eskimo for years, where they meet every summer to barter
    and trade with each other. At one of these midsummer festivals
    there may be seen spotted reindeer skins from Siberia, walrus
    ivory and walrus skins from Bering Sea, or the stone lamps from
    the land of the Cogmoliks (the far-away people) of the East,
    and it is not impossible, though hardly probable, that musk-ox
    skins might be found there.

    I also travelled through the country of the Kookpugmioots and
    Abdugmioots of the Arctic Coast, east of the Mackenzie. The
    first people encountered along the coast east of the Mackenzie
    are the Kookpugmioots--they hunt the coast country as far east
    as Liverpool Bay, but many of their best hunters never saw a
    musk-ox. The Abdugmioots originally hunted the Anderson River
    country, but now live around Liverpool Bay, and most of them
    have hunted musk-ox. The Kogmoliks, who once lived around
    Liverpool and Franklin Bays, but who are now practically merged
    with the Kookpugmioots, along the shores of Allen Channel, have
    been musk-ox killers.

    A good many of the Port Clarence natives, living near Bering
    Straits, have killed musk-oxen, but only around the head of
    Franklin Bay and on Parry Peninsula, they having been taken
    there by whalers. Nearly all the whaling ships pick up Port
    Clarence natives, on their way north and east to the whaling
    grounds, and keep them with them until their return, perhaps
    thirty months later. Some of these vessels have wintered at
    Cape Bathurst and in Langton Bay at the head of Franklin Bay.
    Four of these vessels wintered in Langton Bay in 1897-98,
    and during the winter their Eskimo and sailors killed about
    eighty head of musk-oxen, most of which were taken on the Parry
    Peninsula. When I was at Herschel Island, in the winter of
    1898, I saw forty of these skins in one of the warehouses of
    the Pacific Steam Whaling Company. They were the property of
    Capt. H. H. Bodfish of the steam whaler _Beluga_.

    The range of the musk-ox at the present time does not extend
    westward to within three hundred miles of the Mackenzie delta.
    Any information concerning the musk-ox gathered around Point
    Barrow and thence south to Bering Straits and Port Clarence,
    has been obtained from natives who have accompanied whaling
    ships to the East; and all the musk-ox skins that find a market
    in San Francisco have been purchased, directly or indirectly,
    from the whaling ships.

                                         Very truly yours,

                                                   ANDREW J. STONE.

Wherever explorers have gone into Eastern Arctic North America they
have found the musk-ox. Lieutenant Peary, who has spent more time
in the Arctic than any other living man, writes that he has killed
musk-oxen at Cape Bryant on the Northwest Coast, and at the extreme
northern end of Greenland Archipelago, north latitude 83° 39´, and it
appears from lack of records to the contrary that they are found on all
the Arctic islands except, curiously enough, the Islands of Spitzbergen
and Franz Josef Land, where they are unknown. That the musk-ox does not
seem to migrate on the ice from island to island as the reindeer do, is
another curious fact.

Frederick Schwatka, who hunted along the Arctic Coast, and one or two
of the scientists, place the southerly range of the musk-oxen at the
60th parallel, but this is fully two, if not four, degrees too far
south to correctly represent their present range. Hearne saw tracks in
latitude 59°, and musk-oxen in latitude 61°, in 1771, but I have never
heard of musk-oxen being killed within recent years so far south as
the 62d parallel. It is conceivable, however, that they might stray
so far south, though in my opinion highly improbable. Pike records
a musk-ox killed at Aylmer Lake, in the Barren Grounds. This is the
most southerly killing that I have heard of, and the most southerly
one of which Mr. Pike makes record. Aylmer Lake is just above the 64th
parallel. I saw no musk-oxen below the 65th degree, and it was my
experience, as well as Pike’s, that musk-oxen are not what you may,
comparatively speaking, call plentiful until the 66th parallel.


(From a photograph provided by the American Museum of Natural History)]

Some writers persist in calling the musk-ox migratory, but there is
no reason for doing so. When fully grown, it is about the size of the
English black cattle, its height being 4 feet 2 to 4 inches at the
shoulder, and its girth very large for its height. Indians estimate
the flesh of a mature cow musk-ox equal to that of about three Barren
Grounds caribou, which would be from three hundred to three hundred
and fifty pounds; the bull may go as much as two hundred pounds
heavier. They travel in herds varying from half a dozen to thirty or
forty. Some authors have referred to “vast herds,” no doubt confusing
musk-oxen with caribou. Fifty would be a large herd, and I suppose from
ten to twenty would fairly represent the size of the average herd. As a
rule, such a sized herd would have one or two bulls. I found herds that
were all bulls, others that were all cows.

The robe is of a very dark brown, which seems black against the snow,
and the hair all over the body is coarse and long, reaching down below
the belly to the knees (especially long on the rump, where I measured
some that was fifteen to twenty inches), and under the throat it hangs
down as a thick mane. There appears to be a decided tendency to a hump,
which is emphasized by the shorter stiffish hair that covers shoulders
and the base of the neck. And there is a saddle mark of a dirty grayish
white. Underneath this hair and over all the body grows a coat of mouse
gray wool of fine texture, which protects the animal in winter and is
shed in the summer. No wool grows on the legs, which are massive, and
although short, appear to be shorter than they are because of the long
hair that falls over them. In running, they have a rolling, choppy kind
of a gait, and I noticed when they fell from a rifle wound they could
not get on their feet again.

The growth of the horn is very interesting. It begins exactly as with
domestic cattle by a straight shoot out from the head. For the first
year, it is impossible to tell the difference between the sexes by
the horns. In the second year, the bull horn is a little whiter than
that of the cow; the forehead of a two-year musk-ox I killed showed a
forehead covered with short, curlish hair. In this year the cow’s horn
begins to show a downward turn, and is fully developed at its third
year. The bull’s horns, on the contrary, are just beginning to spread
at the base in the third year. They continue spreading toward the
centre of the forehead until they meet in the bull’s fifth year, but in
the sixth year they begin to separate, leaving a crevice in the centre
which widens as the bull ages until it is from an inch to an inch and
a half wide. In the cow these crevices also open by age to even a
greater extent than in the bull. The horns of both bull and cow darken
as they reach their full development, until they are quite dark from
six to eight inches toward the base; and as the animal ages the extreme
darkness of horn disappears, until finally in the old animal of either
sex there remains only a black tip about a couple of inches on the
very point of the horn. As the crevice between the horns in both sexes
widens, the base of the boss on each side thickens to at least three
inches in the bull and two or less in the cow. On the boss the horn is
corrugated, but at the turn it becomes smooth, and is polished like an
ox horn on the point.

The largest horns of which I believe there is record are owned by a
taxidermist who purchased them; but the locality from which they came
is unknown. Their breadth, measured up and down at the crevice of the
boss, or, technically speaking, the breadth of palm, is 13¾ inches; the
length of horns on outside curve, 30¼ inches. The next largest pair is
in the British Museum and measures 13⅛ inches in breadth and 26¼ in
length. The third is 12⅜ by 26¾, presented to the British Museum by J.
Rae, an old time Hudson’s Bay Company factor, and got on the Barren
Grounds. The next is 12½ by 27¼, the property of the Earl of Lonsdale,
who picked up the head on his way down the Mackenzie River, several
years ago. Warburton Pike holds the two next heads, one 11 by 26⅞, and
the other 11 by 24¾. The largest head I killed is rather remarkable in
respect to length of horn and thickness of the boss. Indian hunters who
saw it, at all events, considered it most unusual. It measures 11½ by
27½; width of crevice, 1⅓ inch; thickness of boss at crevice, 3¾ inches.

The flesh of the musk-ox is exceedingly tough, and by no means pleasing
to the taste, especially in the rutting season (August and September),
when it is practically uneatable. There is a certain musky odor, but
it is not so pronounced as generally said to be. In fact the only
distinct musk-ox odor is got from breaking and crushing the dry dung.
As indicative of this queer creature, I may add that musk-ox dung is
but very little larger than and of very near the shape and color as
that of the large hare. The flesh of the cow is by no means choice, but
it is not bad; the flesh of the calf I found to be rather tasteless.
The unborn calf is considered quite a delicacy, of which my Indians did
not deny themselves merely because we had no cooking fire. They ate it
raw, just as they took it from the mother’s stomach. Cows never give
birth to more than one calf at a time, born in June.

[Illustration: MUSK-OX CALF

This specimen was captured March, 1901, east of Lady Franklin Bay,
about 30 miles inland, by Indians sent out by Captain H. H. Bodfish of
the whaler _Beluga_. After being exhibited in San Francisco, Chicago,
and New York, it was bought by Hon. William C. Whitney, who presented
it forthwith to the New York Zoölogical Society. It died within a few
months after. It was the first live member of the musk-ox family ever
brought to the United States. (Photograph used by permission of the New
York Zoölogical Society.)]

On only two occasions have musk-oxen been brought alive into captivity
in North America. One of these was an eighteen months’ old female
caught east of Lady Franklin Bay, about thirty miles inland, by a party
sent out by Captain H. H. Bodfish, of the whaler _Beluga_. This was
exhibited at the Sportsmen’s Show in New York, where it was purchased
by the Hon. William C. Whitney and presented to the Zoölogical Society
of New York in March, 1902. The other was a younger specimen caught
in Northeastern Greenland by Lieutenant Peary and brought out and
presented to the Zoölogical Society by him in October of the same
year. Both specimens, however, died within a few months. Up to now I
believe something like a dozen live specimens have been taken out to
the civilized world. All, however, at this writing, have died, except
two or three. One is in a zoölogical garden at Copenhagen, another in
a zoölogical garden at Berlin, and another is in England, owned by the
Duke of Bedford, but exhibited, I am told, in London.



In spite of its name this Arctic ruminant has no near affinity with
the members of the ox tribe, the cheek teeth being more like those of
the sheep and goats, the muzzle, except for a small strip between the
nostrils, hairy, and the tail reduced to a mere stump concealed among
the long hair of the hind quarters. On the other hand, the resemblance
to the sheep is not very close, the horns, which in old males nearly
meet in the middle line of the forehead, being of a totally different
form and structure, and the skull likewise very distinct. In the males
the horns are much flattened and expanded at the bases, after which
they are bent suddenly down behind the eyes, to curve upward at the
tips. In the females they are much smaller, less expanded, and not
approximated at their bases. In both sexes their texture is coarse and
fibrous, and their color yellow. The long coat of dark brown hair,
depending from the back and sides like a mantle, affords an adequate
protection against the rigors of an Arctic winter; and the broad,
spreading hoofs, with hair on their under surface, give a firm foothold
on snow and ice. Two races are known--the typical Canadian and the
Greenland (_O. moschatus wardi_). The latter is characterized by the
presence of a certain amount of white on the forehead and the smaller
expansion of the horns. Height at shoulder about 4 feet; weight of one
weighed in parts, 579 pounds (D. T. Hanbury).

_Distribution._--Arctic America, approximately north and east of a line
drawn from the mouth of the Mackenzie River to Fort Churchill on Hudson
Bay, Greenland, and Grinnell Land, in latitude 32° 27´; approximate
southern limit, latitude 40° N.

                         MEASUREMENTS OF HORNS

  LENGTH  |BREADTH|      |                 |
   ON     |  OF   |TIP TO|    LOCALITY     |       OWNER
  OUTSIDE | PALM  | TIP  |                 |
  CURVE   |       |      |                 |
   --30¼  |  13¾  | 30¼  |        ?        |W. W. Hart
          |       |      |                 |
     27¾  |  10   | 27½  |Barren grounds of|David T. Hanbury
          |       |      |northern Canada  |
          |       |      |                 |
   --27½  |  11¾  | 23   |Barren grounds of|Caspar Whitney
          |       |      |northern Canada  |
          |       |      |                 |
     27¼  |  12½  | 27   |Barren grounds of|Earl of Lonsdale
          |       |      |northern Canada  |
          |       |      |                 |
   --27¼  |  10⅝  | 27½  |Barren grounds of|Imperial Museum,
          |       |      |northern Canada  |  Vienna
          |       |      |                 |
     26⅞  |  11   | 27   |Barren grounds of|Warburton Pike
          |       |      |northern Canada  |
          |       |      |                 |
     26¾  |  12⅜  | ..   |North America    |British Museum
          |       |      |                 |  (J. Rae)
          |       |      |                 |
     26¼  |  13⅛  | 27⅝  |North America    |British Museum
          |       |      |                 |
   --25⅝  |  10   | 25   |North America    |Dr. Albert von
          |       |      |                 |  Stephani
          |       |      |                 |
     24¾  |  11   | 25½  |Barren grounds   |Warburton Pike
          |       |      |                 |
     24¼  |   7½  | 19   |Barren grounds   |J. Talbot Clifton
          |       |      |                 |
     24¼  |  10½  | 26   |Barren grounds   |Hon. Walter
          |       |      |                 |  Rothschild
          |       |      |                 |
     24   |   9¾  | 23⅛  |North America    |Sir Edmund G.
          |       |      |                 |  Loder, Bart.
          |       |      |                 |
   --24   |   ..  | 25   |    ?            |Major W. Anstruther
          |       |      |                 |  Thomson
          |       |      |                 |
     23¼  |   6   | 22¾  |    ?            |A. Barclay Walker
          |       |      |                 |
   --21½  |   9   | 27   |    ?            |Dublin Museum
          |       |      |                 |
  --♀21⅛  |   4¾  | 20⅝  |    ?            |Imperial Museum,
          |       |      |                 |     Vienna
          |       |      |                 |
    ♀18⅝  |   4¼  | ..   |North America    |British Museum
          |       |      |                 |  (A. G. Dallas)
          |       |      |                 |
    ♀17   |   4⅝  |  9⅞  |North America    |Dr. Albert von
          |       |      |                 |  Stephani

                  MUSK-OX (_Ovibos moschatus wardi_)

     24¾ |   8¼   | 22½  |Greenland        |Rowland Ward
         |        |      |                 |
     24½ |   7¼   | 27   |Greenland        |Rowland Ward



[Illustration: THE LAST OF THE HERD]

The buffalo was the largest and economically the most important of
North American mammals. It was also one of the most numerous, and over
a great area of the continent was practically the sole support of
its aboriginal inhabitants. Within the memory of men who as yet are
hardly middle-aged, it roamed the country between the Missouri River
and the Rocky Mountains, in multitudes so vast that it was commonly
stated that its numbers could not be materially reduced, that it would
exist long after the speakers had died. Yet, within thirty years it
has so absolutely disappeared that the number of living wild buffalo
existing to-day is probably not greater than the herd of European
bison--commonly, but erroneously, called aurochs--so carefully
preserved in the forests of Lithuania by the Russian Czar.

The history of the buffalo’s extermination has been many times written,
and the cause of its disappearance is not far to seek. It was killed
in great numbers by the Indians, who used its flesh for food, its skin
for clothing and for their shelters. Yet, under natural conditions, the
destruction which they wrought was never very extensive, and was more
than compensated for by the annual increase. Wolves, bears, and other
wild animals which were found in great numbers throughout the buffalo’s
range in old days, devoured many of them; but these were largely the
aged, wounded, and crippled, or those which were drowned in the rivers,
or mired in quicksands and mud-holes. All this destruction by natural
enemies did little more than keep the race in good condition, by
cutting off the sickly and the feeble.

When, however, the white man appeared on the scene, new conditions
arose. The buffalo had a robe which was as useful to the white man
as to the Indian. A trade speedily sprang up in these robes, which
the Indians were glad to kill and tan for a cupful of sugar, or a few
charges of powder and ball, or a drink or two of alcohol. Now, the
Indians had a motive for killing which heretofore they had not had.
They killed more buffalo and made more robes than before, but still
they made no impression on the wandering millions which swayed to and
fro under the influence of the seasons. Steamboats might pass down the
Missouri River loaded to the guards with bales of robes, but the vast
herds of buffalo showed no diminution. The early white explorers, or
trappers, or traders, did not themselves take the trouble to collect
buffalo hides; there were more valuable furs in the country, beaver and
otter and bears, which brought better prices, and--more important than
this--did not require to be tanned before they became marketable. For a
buffalo skin untanned was never shipped; it was only after some Indian
woman had expended on it days of patient labor, that it would bring at
the trading post the pitiful reward which the white man gave.

At last, however,--and that was less than forty years ago,--a railroad
began to push its way out on to the broad plains lying between the
Missouri River and the Rockies, and to thrust itself into the very
region where the buffalo fed. Over the shining rails of this railroad
trains began to pass, carrying passengers; and among these were many
white men eager for gain. These at once saw the possibilities of the
buffalo. At first they killed them for meat, but soon the hides began
to be shipped also. And other men, learning that the buffalo hides
brought $2.00 each, and that buffalo were to be had for the trouble of
shooting them, crowded into the range.

Then there began along the Platte Valley in Nebraska, a scene of
slaughter which has seldom been equalled. The country was full of
buffalo skinners. Each hunter had his teams, and his gangs of skinners
which followed him about from place to place, and cared for the hides
of the beasts which he killed. In some places the only water accessible
was the Platte River, and here the buffalo came to drink. Here, too,
the hunters, concealed in ravines or in rifle-pits that they had dug,
shot down the beasts one by one, as they came to water, and, indeed,
formed so complete a cordon along the river’s banks, that the buffalo
could not get through and turned back into the hills. When at night the
thirsty herds tried to approach the river under cover of darkness, they
found that the hunters had built along the bottom great fires, which
they kept up all night, and which the scared buffalo did not dare to

It took but a little time to split the herd which for centuries had
passed across the valley north and south with the seasons. It was about
1870 when this work began, and in 1874 the buffalo were last seen in
the valley of the Platte. The herd had been split.

As other railroads to the southward pushed into the buffalo country,
the same scenes were enacted. The buffalo country swarmed with hunters
who came in constantly increasing numbers, so that none of them
earned any money by their butcher’s work. The price of hides fell,
but the buffalo continued to be slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of
hides went to market, but these were only a small proportion of the
buffalo killed. Colonel Dodge has expressed the belief, that of the
buffalo killed, only one-fourth or one-fifth reached a market. It is
conceivable that the proportion was even less. A very large number of
the hunters knew nothing about hunting, or shooting, or skinning a
buffalo, or curing its hide. The number of maimed and crippled animals
that went off to die was very large. The number of hides ruined in
skinning was large, and the number improperly cured was still larger.

By the latter part of 1874, buffalo to the southward of the Platte
River began to be very scarce, and in 1876 they were almost gone.
After that none were found in the southern country except a few in the
southern portion of the Indian Territory and in the waterless country
of the pan-handle of Texas. There, protected by the drought, and so few
in number as to present little attraction to the skin hunter, a few
lingered for some years, until finally captured or destroyed by Buffalo
Jones in his expeditions after calves for domestication.

In the northern country the buffalo lingered longer. The Northern
Pacific Railroad, built as far west as Bismarck on the Missouri River
in 1873, stopped there for six or seven years, and it was not until
it had been continued well beyond the Missouri that it again entered
the buffalo range and brought with it, as was inevitable, the buffalo
skinner. When he came, he did the work he had done in the South,
and did it as effectively. But as the number of buffalo left in the
northern herd was small, it took only two or three years to destroy

After 1883, except for a band of about five thousand which had been
overlooked on one of the Sioux reservations, there were no buffalo left
in the northern country except a few scattering individuals, which,
hidden in out-of-the-way places, had been overlooked by the hunters
and Indians, and so for a year or two were preserved from slaughter.
In the arid region about the heads of the Dry Fork and Porcupine Creek
in Montana, one of these little groups was left, which yielded to
expeditions sent out by the National Museum and the American Museum
of Natural History, a series of specimens, probably the last of this
species ever to be collected for science. They were brought together
just in time, for since then there have been no buffalo.

A small herd of the so-called wood bison still inhabits the vast
wilderness between Athabasca Lake and Lesser Slave Lake, but their
numbers are few. In the year 1900 there were two little bunches of
wild buffalo in the United States, perhaps neither of them numbering
more than fifteen or twenty head. In the summer of 1901 one of these
bunches, which had long ranged in Lost Park, Colorado, was wiped out
by poachers, while for some years nothing has been heard of the other
little band which ranged in Montana, and which, in 1895, numbered
forty or fifty head, no less than thirty-two of which were killed a
year or two later by Red River half-breeds who made a special trip
to their range. At present the only important band of buffalo in the
United States is that ranging within the confines of the National
Park, and it is altogether probable that this does not number more than
twenty-five or thirty.

No doubt the extraordinary abundance of the buffalo had something to
do with the wastefulness of the slaughter which followed the railroad
building into the buffalo range. Many people no doubt really believed
that in their time the buffalo could not be exterminated. They seemed
to reason that as there always had been “millions of buffalo” there
always would be. Men killed buffalo for any foolish, childish reason
that might come into their heads,--to try their guns, to see whether
they could hit them, for fun!

How wantonly even some of the first traders destroyed them is often
shown by the few writings that have come down to us from those early
days. Henry, in his Journal of August, 1800, tells of the way in which
he and some of his men passed the time while waiting for others of his
people to come up. He says, “We amused ourselves by lying in wait,
close under the bank, for the buffalo which came to drink. When the
poor brutes came to within about ten yards of us, on a sudden we would
fire a volley of twenty-five guns at them, killing and wounding many.
We only took the tongues. The Indians suggested that we should all fire
together at one lone bull which appeared, to have the satisfaction,
as they said, of killing him stone dead. The beast advanced till he
was within six or eight paces, when the yell was given, and all hands
let fly; but instead of falling he galloped off, and it was only
after several more discharges that he was brought to the ground. The
Indians enjoyed this sport highly--it is true, the ammunition cost them

There has been much misunderstanding as to the former distribution
of the buffalo over the North American continent, and the extent of
territory through which it was found. Many respected authorities have
declared that it occurred in Eastern Canada, and generally along the
Atlantic slope; in portions of New England, the Middle states, and
south even into Florida. It was said in general terms that the buffalo
occurred over the entire continent of North America, from Florida to
the 50th degree of north latitude.

These loose statements were corrected by Dr. J. A. Allen, in his
most important monograph on the American bisons, and it is now well
understood that the range of the buffalo included only about one-third
of the continent; that, while it was found on the Atlantic slope, this
was only in the southeastern portion of its range; while in Canada, New
England, and Florida, it was probably unknown.

The error into which early writers were led on this subject undoubtedly
arose from the terms used by the earlier explorers, who spoke
constantly of _vaches_, or _vaches sauvages_, and less frequently
of buffu or buffle. But the term _wild cows_, used by the early
French Jesuits and English explorers, referred to the elk (_Cervus
canadensis_), while the words _buffu_ or _buffle_ were used to
designate moose (_Alces_). In some of the narratives of the journeys of
the Jesuit travellers, there appear on almost every page references to
the herds of _vaches sauvages_, and many of these writers, at one time
or another, describe these wild cows in such unmistakable language as
to show beyond question that they were the elk or wapiti.

Dr. Allen assigns the Alleghany Mountains as the general eastern
boundary of the range of the buffalo, although explaining that it
frequently passed beyond that range, and showing conclusively that it
occurred in the western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia,
North and South Carolina and Georgia. Mr. Hornaday cites some evidence
to show that it occurred in the District of Columbia, and quotes
Francis Moore, in his “Voyage to Georgia,” to prove that there, at
least, buffalo were found close to the salt water.

While Dr. Allen gives the Tennessee River as the southern boundary
of the buffalo’s range, west of the Alleghanies and east of the
Mississippi River, Mr. Hornaday quotes a number of references to
show that it occurred in some numbers in what is now the state of
Mississippi, and gives a tradition of the Choctaws, narrated by
Clayborne, in regard to the disappearance of the species from that
section. This tradition is to the effect that during the early part
of the eighteenth century a great drought occurred there by which the
whole country was dried up. For three years not a drop of rain fell.
Large streams went dry, and the forest trees all died. Up to that time,
it is said, elk and buffalo had been numerous there, but during this
drought these animals crossed the Mississippi River and never returned.

In the eastern portion of its range, the Great Lakes formed a barrier
on the north which the buffalo did not pass; but from western New York
westward, it was found in numbers along the southern shores of these
lakes, and in the territory now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and
Wisconsin. Audubon tells us that in the first years of the nineteenth
century there were buffalo in Kentucky, but declares that about 1810,
or soon after, they all disappeared. This disappearance was due chiefly
to their actual destruction by white men and by Indians, and not, as is
commonly stated, to the retiring of the great herds before the advance
of settlement and civilization. It seems that the last buffalo were
killed east of the Mississippi River about the year 1820, although it
may be that in Wisconsin and Minnesota they lasted somewhat longer.

West of the Great Lakes, and turning sharply northward so as to run
nearly northwest, the eastern border of the buffalo’s range west of
the Mississippi was a line running very near the western extremity of
Lake Superior, up through the Lake of the Woods, west of Lake Winnipeg,
and thence northward to and beyond the Great Slave Lake. There this
border line turned to the west, and then sharply to the south, and
meeting the Rocky Mountains not far from where Peace River leaves
them, followed the range south, about to the 49th parallel; and then
turning southwestwardly and including Idaho, a part of eastern Oregon,
the northeast corner of Nevada, the greater portion of Utah, and most
of New Mexico, the line passed down south well into Mexico, turning
eastwardly just north of the 25th parallel of latitude, and running
north to the coast, which it followed around again to the mouth of the

As it has been known in our day, the buffalo in the southern portion
of its range was a trans-Missouri animal. North of the parallel of 45
degrees it was found in equal numbers on both sides of the Missouri
River, and in its northern extension reached, and possibly even to-day
reaches, north to Great Slave Lake; for, as already stated, the only
considerable band of wild buffalo to-day is the wood bison of the
north, estimated to number four hundred or five hundred.

Besides the boundaries thus set forth, it is probable that in early
days there was a considerable extension of the buffalo’s range
northward and westward, into portions of what is now Alaska. Certain
it is that in that territory buffalo remains have been found in great
numbers. Some of these skulls belong to species long extinct, and much
larger than the American bison; but, on the other hand, there are many
which are closely similar to that species.

The range of the buffalo to the west of the Rocky Mountains began to
contract not very long after the narrowing of its range on the east.
The earlier explorers in the West, from Pike downward, report buffalo
in abundance. Yet, as already stated, the westernmost point at which
their remains have been found is among the foot-hills of the eastern
side of the Blue Mountains of Oregon. In 1836, it is reported, buffalo
were abundant in Salt Lake Valley, but there nearly all were soon
afterward destroyed by deep snows, which covered the ground for a long
period of time. This corresponds well with statements made to me by
John Robinson, better known in early days as Uncle Jack Robinson, one
of the old-time trappers, who died between 1870 and 1880. In 1870 he
told me that the buffalo on the tributaries of the Green River and on
the Laramie Plains had all perished nearly forty years before, during
a winter when very deep snows fell, followed by a thaw and subsequent
cold, which crusted the snow so that the buffalo could not get through
it, and starved to death. This statement was confirmed by the small
number of remains, most of them extremely old and weathered, which
we found in this region at that time. On the other hand, on upper
tributaries of the Green River buffalo were found much later, and it
is possible that these may have been animals which wintered in narrow
valleys of the mountains, where, during this deep snow, food was
accessible. Fremont states that in the spring of 1824 buffalo were
abundant as far west as Fort Hall, while Bonneville reported them in
extraordinary abundance in the Bear River Valley.

The mere fact that buffalo were not seen by an explorer who passed
through any given territory does not necessarily show that they did
not range in that country. I have travelled for months through a
buffalo range without seeing buffalo or any evidence of their very
recent presence, yet the signs found showed conclusively that a short
time before they had been there in vast numbers. It would have been
perfectly possible for two honest reports, made a few months or years
apart by explorers who were not prairie men, absolutely to contradict
each other.

Although the buffalo disappeared from the country west of the Green
River, and even from the Laramie Plains, a long time ago, it lingered
much later on tributaries of the Platte River further to the northward.
There were buffalo on the Sweetwater and its tributaries between 1870
and 1880, and on certain other tributaries of the North Platte River
between 1880 and 1890. About this same time there was a small band
ranging in what is called the Red Desert Country, south of what is now
the National Park. But the last of these disappeared about 1890.

The color of the buffalo is well understood to be a dark liver brown
over most of the body, changing to black on the long hair of the fore
legs, muzzle, and beard. The long hair on the hump is yellowish, faded
from sunburn, and often much the color of the hair of a “tow-headed
child.” The mountain bison, which lives largely in the timber, and is
scarcely or not at all exposed to the sun, is much darker, sometimes
almost black, throughout.

Very rarely buffalo of unusual color were seen. These were sometimes
roan, sometimes gray or spotted with white, or even pure white
throughout. A hide taken on the upper Missouri about 1879 was white on
the head, legs, and belly, and elsewhere of normal color; the result
was that when the animal was skinned and the hide tanned there was a
fine robe of the ordinary color bordered with a wide band of white. If
I recollect aright, this particular hide was sold on the river to an
Englishman for $500.

Buffalo of unusual color, being so seldom seen, were regarded by the
Indians with great reverence. Among the plains tribes, the buffalo,
on which they depended for food, shelter, and clothing, was sacred.
Its skull was usually placed on the ground near the sweat lodge,
prayers were made, and the pipe was offered to it, in a petition to
the buffalo to remain with them, to be abundant, and even to run over
smooth ground, so that their horses should not fall during the chase.
If buffalo in general were sacred, how much more should the white one
receive reverence. The Pawnees cherished their skins as sacred objects,
and kept them in their medicine bundles, or used them to wrap about
these bundles. The Blackfeet regarded white buffalo as especially
dedicated to the Sun, and hung up the white robe as a votive offering
to that deity. In the same way, the Cheyennes, in old times, sacrificed
the hide of a white buffalo to the Sun, although later, after their
habits had been measurably changed by contact with the whites, they
sometimes sold such robes.

My friend George Bent--son of Col. William Bent, one of the historic
characters of the early West--tells me that during a long course of
trading among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, he has seen but five robes
that could fairly be called white. One of these was silver-gray,
another, white, a third, cream color, the fourth, dapple gray, and the
fifth, yellowish fawn color. He tells me that in ancient times the
white buffalo was regarded by the Cheyennes as sacred, and that, if
one of them killed a white buffalo, he left it where it fell, taking
nothing from it, and not even putting a knife into it. The Cheyennes
believe that any white buffalo belongs far to the north, and comes from
that region where, according to their tradition, the buffalo originally
came out of the ground.

A great many years ago a war party of Cheyennes went up north against
the Crows. One day they came to a hill, and when they looked over it
they saw before them great herds of buffalo lying down, and among them
a cow, perfectly white. When the buffalo stood up to go to water, the
white cow also stood up, and went with them, and it was observed that
none of the other buffalo went very close to her. They did not appear
to fear her, but they did not crowd close about her; they gave her
plenty of room, as if they respected her. This led the Cheyennes to
think that the white buffalo was a chief among other buffalo.

The women of the Cheyennes did not dress a white buffalo’s hide. When
occasion arose for such work, it was commonly done by some captive
woman; for example, a Kiowa, or a Pawnee,--some one who was not bound
by Cheyenne customs and Cheyenne fears. Rarely, a Cheyenne woman went
through a certain ceremony, being prayed over by a medicine-man, and
painted in a peculiar fashion; this ceremony removed the tabu, and she
might then dress the white robe.

The habits of the buffalo were in most respects those of domestic
cattle. They fed in loose herds as cattle do, the members of a
family--that is to say, the old cow and her progeny, sometimes up to
three or four years old--keeping together; the old bulls, lazier,
heavier, and less active than the cows and the younger stock, were
usually on the outskirts of the herd, and if it was slowly moving
in any direction, were likely to be behind. Much has been written
concerning the intelligence of the buffalo, and the manner in which
the bulls stood sentry over the herd, constantly on the watch for
danger. There is not and never was any foundation for these stories,
which were mere creations of the writer’s imagination. As a matter of
fact, the cows were much more alert and watchful than the bulls, were
always the first to detect danger and to move away from it, while the
bulls were dull and slow, and often did not start to run until the herd
at large was in full flight. Moreover, the cows and younger animals of
the herd were much swifter than the bulls, and so pressed constantly
to the front, while the bulls brought up the rear. The disposition
of the males had nothing to do with any desire to protect the herd,
but resulted from the fact that they were slower than the others. The
earlier writers on the habits of these and other animals, credited
them with human motives and aspirations, which of course they do not
possess. A somewhat similar fashion of writing about animals is current
at the present day, but is false and unnatural, and will pass.

The hides of the buffalo are in their best condition in the early part
of the winter, and it was the practice of the Indians to collect their
robes at that time of the year,--namely, between November and January.
Soon after January, however, the hair begins to grow loose, and it is
shed during the spring and early summer, though often great patches
cling to the body until late summer or early fall. I have seen buffalo
in the month of July still clad in what looked like a loose robe, the
old hair hanging together in an almost complete mat, covering the body.
Usually, however, by rubbing against trees, rocks, and banks of dirt,
and by rolling on the prairie, the loose hair is got rid of by early
summer. In very old animals the moult takes place later and less easily
than in those in good condition, and sometimes old and lean buffalo do
not seem to shed their coats completely.

The rutting season begins in July and lasts about two months. During
this time frequent battles take place among the bulls, apparently
fierce on account of the size and activity of the combatants, but
usually without important results. These fights are much like similar
contests between domestic bulls; they paw up the ground, kneel down and
thrust their horns into the earth, mutter and bellow and grunt; but
although they charge on each other with fury, and come together with a
tremendous shock, the contest usually ends in nothing more important
than the driving off, for a time, of the weaker bull. From their great
activity at this season, the bulls rapidly lose flesh; but after the
rut is over, they regain it, so that by the beginning of the cold
weather they, like the cows, are fat and in good order.

The buffalo cow produces, usually, a single calf, which may be born
during the months of March, April, May, or June. The usual time for the
calves to be born is in April and May. Shortly before that time the
mother separates herself from the herd, which, however, she rejoins not
long after the birth of the calf. Like many other ruminants, the mother
hides her calf when it is small and weak, but does not wander far from
it. After it has gained some strength it joins other calves, and these
usually keep together a little apart from the main herd, their mothers
coming to them from time to time in order that they may nurse.

When first born, the calves are reddish yellow in color, do not possess
any noticeable hump, and look very much like ordinary domestic calves,
except that possibly the tail is slightly shorter. Before very long,
however, they commence to grow darker in color, and I have seen calves
in August that at a little distance seemed almost as dark as the adult

The cow is devoted to her calf, and is ready to fight for it against
any enemy except man. Usually, in the buffalo chase, the cow,
thoroughly frightened, paid no attention to the calf. But, on the other
hand, cases have occurred, where men have been capturing calves to
rear in captivity, in which the cow refused to desert her offspring,
but turned upon the captor of the calf and charged him with the utmost

Colonel Dodge instances a case where a number of bulls devoted
themselves to protecting a calf against wolves. He says, “I have seen
evidence of this many times, but the most remarkable instance I ever
heard of was related to me by an army surgeon who was an eye-witness.
He was one evening returning to camp after a day’s hunt, when his
attention was attracted by the curious actions of a little knot of
six or eight buffalo. Approaching sufficiently near to see clearly,
he discovered that this little knot were all bulls, standing in a
close circle with their heads downward, while in a concentric circle,
at some twelve or fifteen paces distant, sat, licking their chops in
impatient expectancy, at least a dozen large gray wolves--except man,
the most dangerous enemy of the buffalo. The doctor determined to watch
the performance. After a few moments the knot broke up, still keeping
in a compact mass, and started on a trot for the main herd some half
mile off. To his very great astonishment, the doctor now saw that the
central and controlling figure of this mass was a poor little calf, so
newly born as scarcely to be able to walk. After going fifty or one
hundred yards, the calf lay down; the bulls disposed themselves in a
circle as before, and the wolves, who had trotted along on each flank
of their retreating supper, sat down and licked their chops again. This
was repeated again and again, and although the doctor did not see the
finale (it being late and the camp distant), he had no doubt that the
noble fathers did their whole duty by their offspring, and carried it
safely to the herd.”

We may imagine that this was an unusual occurrence; at the same time,
it is true that a group of buffalo, if one of their number is attacked
or threatened by wolves while they are close together, will all rally
to the general defence, and will stand by each other. But that the
bulls make it their business to defend calves, or systematically
preserve anything except their own skins, I do not believe.

Few people who have seen the buffalo only in captivity, few even of
those who have hunted them on the level plains, have any idea of the
agility of this clumsy, heavy creature, or of the disposition that it
shows to reach elevated points, so difficult of access that a horse
might find it a hard matter to climb them. In old times, one might
see buffalo ascending steeps that were nearly vertical; or, on the
other hand, throwing themselves down the sides of mountains so sharply
sloping and rough that a horseman would not dare follow them. Like many
other animals, wild and tame, they often liked to seek elevated points
from which a wide view might be had, and I have found their tracks and
other signs on points high up in the mountains, where only sheep or
goats would be looked for. The mountain bison, so-called--and by many
hunters regarded as a species quite distinct from the buffalo of the
plains--was especially given to frequenting the peaks in summer; no
doubt in part to avoid the attacks of flies, but also in part--as I
believe--from sheer love of climbing.

Like most other herbivorous animals, the buffalo was subject to panics,
and was easily stampeded, and when thoroughly frightened, a herd ran
for a long way before stopping. When alarmed, they huddled together
as closely as possible, running in a dense mass. The result of this
was that only the animals on the outskirts of the herd could see where
they were going; those in the centre blindly followed their leaders
and depended on them. This very fact was a source of danger, for the
leaders, crowded upon by those that followed, even if they saw peril
in front of them, could not stop, and often could not even turn aside,
but were constantly forced on to a danger that they would gladly have
avoided. This is the entirely simple explanation of a characteristic
often wondered at by writers about this species; that is, their habit
of running headlong into danger,--plunging over cut banks into the
pens prepared for them by the Indians, or rushing into quicksands or
places where they mired down, or into deep water, which might have well
been avoided, or even up against such obstacles as a train of cars or
a steamboat in the river. The simple fact is that the animals which
saw the danger were unable to avoid it on account of the pressure from
behind, and those that were pressing the leaders on were ignorant of
the danger toward which they were rushing.

I have already adverted to the popular but erroneous belief that the
buffalo performed extensive migrations in spring and fall. This is
not true. There were, unquestionably, certain seasonal movements east
and west, and north and south, yet these movements were never very
extended, and constituted nothing more than the very general shiftings
which are made by many ruminants between a summer and a winter range.
Throughout the country lying between the Saskatchewan and the Missouri
River, the buffalo, in summer, moved up close to the mountains and even
into the foot-hills; and at the coming of winter, with its snows and
its bitter winds, they moved to the eastward again, seeking the lower
ground and such shelter as the ravines and buttes and timbered river
valleys of the prairie might afford.

On the other hand, buffalo, in their journeys to water, usually
travelled to the nearest streams, and as on the plains the streams
usually run from west to east, and the buffalo travelled in single
file, their trails ran at right angles to the course of the rivers,
or north and south. It is quite possible that the directions of these
trails, deeply worn, and showing the passage of great numbers of
animals, may have given rise to the popular belief in this north and
south migration.

At the same time, it is true that the buffalo herds were more or less
constantly in motion. As they were very numerous, it was obviously
essential that they should move constantly, to reach fresh grazing
grounds. Often, too, they were disturbed by hunters, red or white, who
stampeded the herds, which then rushed off in a close mass, perhaps not
to stop for ten or a dozen miles. Besides that, frequently, the prairie
was burned, so that they were deprived of food, and long journeys must
be made to reach fresh grazing grounds.

[Illustration: PROTECTED]

Not very much is known, and very much less has been written concerning
the tendency in animals, wild and domestic, to confine themselves
to particular localities; yet all people who live much out of doors
understand, even though they may not reason much about it, how very
local in habit many birds and animals are. The ranchman, of course,
knows that the horses and cattle which feed on his range divide
themselves up into little bunches, each of which selects some special
area where they spend all their time, rarely moving far from it, except
to make journeys to water; or, at some change of the seasons, to
migrate from summer to winter range or back again. In domestic stock
this attachment to locality is strongly marked, and it is a common
thing for animals that have been driven to a range hundreds of miles
distant from that on which they have been accustomed to feed, to travel
back toward their old haunts as soon as they are turned loose. I have
known cases where one-third of a large bunch of horses, driven to a new
range four or five hundred miles away, were a year later gathered again
on their old home range. It is a matter of common experience for horses
that escape from owners, travelling at a distance from the home range,
to take the back trail and return to it.

Among our larger game animals a similar condition of things prevails.
White-tail deer are greatly attached to particular localities, and when
undisturbed, confine their wanderings within very narrow limits. Even
if thoroughly frightened, and driven to a considerable distance, they
soon return. If an old white-tail buck is run with dogs, he may make a
long chase, and cover a wide stretch of country, but to-morrow he will
probably be found in his old home. In the same way, mule deer, mountain
sheep, white goats, and antelope show their attachment for localities,
and unless persistently disturbed, wander but little.

The same thing is true with regard to non-migratory birds. Ruffed
grouse attach themselves to certain pieces of woodland, or to
particular swamps, and the birds may be found there all through the
season. In like manner, quail establish themselves on certain small
pieces of ground, and after their haunts have been learned, may be
started there with unfailing regularity.

During many years’ experience with big game, I have often had these
facts thrust on my attention, and have seen much to warrant the belief
that, like other wild animals, the buffalo feels attachment for a
particular range of country, which it does not desert except for good
reason, or when the change from summer to winter, or back again, leads
to a migration that may fairly be called seasonal. The buffalo’s
attachment to locality, and its natural inertia, is well exemplified
by an experience of Major G. W. H. Stouch, U.S.A., retired, a veteran
soldier of more than thirty-five years’ experience on the plains, of
which he told me many years ago. I give it as nearly as possible in his
own words:--

“In the fall of 1866 I was directed to proceed with Company C, Third
Infantry, to reëstablish old Fort Fletcher on the north fork of Big
Creek, sixteen miles below the present Fort Hays, Kansas. When on
October 16th we marched down to the site chosen, and went into camp,
I noticed half a mile above us on the creek bottom a considerable
herd of buffalo feeding; there were perhaps eight or nine hundred of
them. As soon as I saw them, it occurred to me that I would leave them
undisturbed, and that so long as they remained there they might furnish
us a supply of beef at very little cost of time or trouble. I therefore
ordered the men not to hunt up the creek, or disturb these buffalo in
any way, instructing them to do all their hunting down the stream.

“In order to put my idea in practice at once, I detailed one of the
soldiers as hunter and butcher of the company, and told him to go up
the creek and kill a buffalo, but not to show himself either before
or after firing the shot--merely to kill a fat cow and then to remain
under cover until I joined him with a wagon. He did so. At the report
of the rifle the buffalo fired at ran a few steps, and then lay down,
while those nearest to it made a few jumps, looked around, saw no one,
and then went on feeding. From the camp we were watching the result
of the shot, and as soon as fired, I went with a wagon to bring in
the meat. As the wagon approached the carcass, the nearest buffalo
moved out of the way, without showing any special fear, and the wagon
returned to camp with its load. This was repeated daily, the buffalo
never being frightened either by the shot or the wagon, and seeming
to become more tame as time went on, often approaching within a few
hundred yards of where we were at work erecting the buildings.

“About November 1st, Troop E, Seventh Cavalry (under Lieutenant
Wheelan) arrived to reinforce the post; and about November 19th Company
B, Thirty-seventh Infantry (under Lieutenant Phelps) also arrived. I
explained my plan of operation to these officers, and requested them
to detail hunters from their companies, and to order their men to hunt
down the creek, and not to disturb what I had come to regard as the
post beef herd. They did so, and the herd still remained with us.

“One morning in February, ’67, a sergeant, whom I had sent the day
before with a small detail to make a scout, rapped at my door, and
reported his return. Among other things, he said: ‘Lieutenant, I met
our buffalo herd travelling up the creek, about fifteen miles from
here. They were moving slowly; just feeding along.’

“I determined to see if they could not be brought back, and taking
twenty-five men (accompanied by Lieutenant Cooke, Third Infantry,
Adjutant, Assistant-Surgeon Fisk, and Mr. Hale, the post trader) rode
up the creek, and entered the valley above the herd. Then, forming a
skirmish line across the bottom, we very slowly advanced toward the
buffalo. When they first noticed us, the leaders seemed uncertain what
to do; but as they had been accustomed to seeing large parties of us,
instead of running, as I feared they might, they at length turned about
and began slowly to work backward in the direction from which they had
come. By nightfall the herd was on its old feeding ground, and there we
left it, and there it remained until spring, and would, no doubt, have
remained longer, but, unluckily, the Seventh Cavalry, under General
Custer, rode in upon it, as they came down the creek to the post for
supplies, after their unsuccessful chase after the Cheyennes, who had
run away from General Hancock. General Custer detailed two troops with
orders to secure meat for the command. After chasing it, and killing
forty-four head, the herd was scattered, and never returned. The herd
supplied the post (consisting of about three hundred officers and men)
with fresh beef from October 16, 1866, until about April 20, 1867.”

The buffalo calf, when captured very young, was easily tamed. Indeed,
nothing more was needed at times than to permit the calf to suck the
fingers for a moment or two, when it would follow the rider into camp,
and seemed to be wholly without fear of man. As already stated, when
very young it is hidden by its mother, and, like the young of deer,
elk, antelope, and other ruminants, it can then be captured, and makes
no effort to escape. This, by many writers, has been denounced as
stupidity and dulness. As a matter of fact, it is merely following out
the protective instinct which is common to the young of many large
mammals, at a time when they are without weapons for self-protection,
and without strength or speed to save themselves by flight.

At various times during the last two hundred years, attempts have been
made to domesticate the buffalo, and with entire success. But these
attempts have never been continued long enough to be productive of any
economic results. Nevertheless, buffalo were kept in captivity from the
beginning of the eighteenth century, and toward the end of that century
were actually domesticated, bred, and crossed with domestic cattle
in Virginia, and somewhat later in Kentucky. The very full account
given to Mr. Audubon by Mr. Robert Wycliff, of Lexington, Kentucky, in
1843, has often been quoted, and all the experiments since made have
confirmed the conclusions then stated. It was proved, and is now well
known, that the buffalo, in domestication, are easily handled, respect
fences, and are but little more difficult to control than domestic
cattle; that the male buffalo crosses readily with the domestic cow;
that the progeny of the two species are fertile with either species and
among themselves. It has also been demonstrated that the cross-bred
animal is larger than either parent, and so makes a better beef animal.
Besides, its hide yields a robe which, if not equal to that of the
buffalo, is, at least, vastly superior to the hide of the ordinary
beef. More important than either the beef or the robe, is the very
greatly increased hardiness of the cross-bred animal, which enables it
to endure extremes of cold and snow, which would destroy the ordinary
domestic cattle.

From the days of Robert Wycliff, almost to the time when Mr. C. J.
Jones, of Kansas, began experiments in breeding buffalo, little or
nothing had been done in this direction. A few years earlier Mr.
S. L. Bedson, of Stony Mountain, Manitoba, set to work at the same
problem, and both men met with abundant measure of success. Both bred
pure buffalo in considerable numbers, and both succeeded in breeding
the buffalo with the domestic cow, and securing a progeny which was
remarkable for size and for the robes produced. Indeed, Mr. Hornaday
quotes Mr. Bedson as saying that the three-quarter bred animal produces
“an extra good robe which will readily bring forty to fifty dollars in
any market where there is a demand for robes.”

It is altogether possible that the time for establishing a race of
buffalo cattle has past. The buffalo are extinct, and the number of
animals in captivity to be drawn on, very small. Nevertheless, the
great preponderance of bulls among these domesticated buffalo, makes
it possible that something in this direction might be done, though the
chances now are much against it.

The buffalo has often been broken to the yoke. Robert Wycliff says of
this animal, “He walks more actively, and I think has more strength
than an ox of the same weight. I have broken them to the yoke and found
them capable of making excellent oxen; and for drawing wagons, carts,
or other heavily laden vehicles on long journeys, they would, I think,
be greatly preferable to the common ox.” Under the yoke, however, they
are said to be somewhat difficult to control, and cases are cited
where broken buffalo have, for various causes, run away, to the great
detriment of the load they were hauling. In the year 1874 a settler on
Trail Creek, in Montana, told me that he had a pair of bulls broken to
the yoke, and declared that they would haul more than “any two yoke of
cattle on the place.”

There is another reason besides the lack of buffalo for thinking that
no systematic attempt to cross these animals with domestic cattle
will ever be attempted. The days of free ranging, where the cattle
are turned out on the prairie to look after themselves, winter and
summer, are almost over, and year by year the area of the free range
is becoming more and more contracted. The advantages of great size and
a valuable robe would still be an attraction to the farmer; but the
hardiness which enables the half-breed animal to endure almost any
winter weather will soon cease to be required, because the cattle of
almost all the western country will be kept under fence, and fed on hay
during the winter.

From time immemorial the buffalo furnished food to the Indians, and
with the coming into the land of the white man it supported him also.
What the primitive method was by which the Indians hunted buffalo we
do not know, but at the time the redmen became known to the whites,
when they were footmen, the only method of securing this animal was by
the surround, or by driving it into pens from which the buffalo could
not escape, and where they were easily destroyed. Such pens were built
at the foot of cut bluffs or low cliffs, over which the buffalo were
driven; or, in the more open and flat country, where ravines with
steep sides were not found, a long fenced causeway was often built, on
which the buffalo were driven, and when reaching its end, the leaders,
by reason of the pressure of those behind, were forced to jump into the
pen, and the others followed, until all were captured. Often, if the
drive was made over a high bluff, the fall killed many of the beasts,
and even when this did not take place, many of the younger and weaker
animals were destroyed by their fellows in the tremendous crush which
took place within the pen.

No sooner did the buffalo find themselves confined, than they began to
race about the enclosure, and the men standing on the logs which formed
its sides, shot them with their stone-headed arrows as they ran by,
until at length all had fallen.

The principle of the foot surround was not different from this. When a
herd of buffalo was found, the Indians waited for a day when the wind
did not blow, and then, creeping toward the buffalo, they surrounded
them on all sides. When the line was fairly complete, one man would
show himself, and perhaps frighten the buffalo by waving his robe at
them. They would start to run, when the men stationed at the point of
the circle toward which they were directing their course would show
themselves, toss their robes in the air, and turn them in another
direction. Thus, whichever way they ran, they found people standing
before them, and soon they began to run around in a circle within the
ring of men, and continued to do this until they became exhausted.
Little by little the men drew closer together, making the circle
smaller, and soon the buffalo were running near enough to them for them
to be shot by their arrows.

It did not always happen that the hunt was successful. Sometimes in the
pen a strong bull might find a place where no one was standing, and
might leap over the barrier, or at least leap on it, throwing his whole
weight against it. Very likely he would be followed by others, and
perhaps a number would succeed in surmounting the wall; or they might
even break it down, and then the whole herd would stream out of the pen
and be lost. Sometimes, too, in the surround, especially if the herd
of buffalo was large, it was found impossible to turn them, and they
would break their way through the ring of men. In like manner, when,
as sometimes happened, the Indians set up their lodges all about the
herd, the buffalo might yet find a way to break through and escape.

If, however, all went well, and a good part of the herd was killed,
there was great rejoicing all through the camp. Everybody was happy,
since now, for some days, food would be abundant, and every one would
have enough to eat; and there is nothing that the Indian dreads so much
as hunger.

Later, after the Indians obtained horses and iron-pointed arrows, and,
later still, repeating rifles, these old methods were all given up. It
was easier to chase the buffalo on horseback, and their pack-horses
gave them a ready means for bringing the spoils of the chase back to
the camp. Now, too, they used the lance in hunting, driving the horse
close up on the buffalo’s right side, holding the lance across the
body, and, with a mighty two-handed thrust, sending the keen steel deep
into the animal’s vitals.

Perhaps no more exciting scene could be witnessed than one of the
old-time buffalo chases by the Indians. Naked themselves, they rode
their naked horses, carrying their quivers of arrows on their backs or
by their sides, and their bows in their hands. The good buffalo horses
were swift of foot to catch the cow, admirably trained for running over
the rough prairie, often dangerous from badger holes or burrows of the
prairie dog, and knowing how to approach the buffalo, and also how to
avoid its charge--trained, in fact, just as well as the cow-pony is
trained, which knows exactly what is expected of him when he is cutting
cattle out of a bunch. The chase was conducted in silence, and the
only sound heard was the rumble of a thousand hoofs--dull where the
ground was soft, and sharp if it hardened. If the herd was large, the
scene was one of great confusion. Buffalo and horses with their riders
were dimly seen amid the cloud of dust thrown up by the fleeing herd.
Horses were constantly overtaking the buffalo, riders were bending
down, horses were sheering off, buffalo were falling. The old bulls,
passed by the swift riders, were turning off and fleeing, singly or in
little groups, to right and to left, while the swifter cows, with heads
down and tails in air, were pressing forward in flight to escape the
Indians, who were riding with their rearmost ranks.

Not greatly differing from this, save that guns were used and there
was much yelling and noise, were the hunts of the wild Red River
half-breeds. These were pursued on horseback, and the men were armed
with the old Hudson Bay smoothbore flint-lock guns. Powder was carried
in a horn and balls in the mouth. When he had discharged his gun,
the hunter poured the powder from the horn directly into the barrel,
guessing at the quantity, slipped a ball from the mouth into the
barrel, the gun was given a jar on the saddle to settle the load, a
little priming was poured into the pan, and he was ready for another

On such hunts the Red River half-breeds transported their families and
their property almost entirely in the well-known Red River carts, each
drawn by a single horse, and containing, besides a load of baggage, a
woman and perhaps two or three children.

Besides these wholesale methods of taking buffalo, of course they were
killed singly by men who crept close enough to them to drive even
a stone-headed arrow deep enough into the sides to reach the life.
Often, when the buffalo were in situations where it was impossible to
approach them, men disguised as wolves crept in among the herd, and
killed buffalo with their arrows. Catlin and others have described
and figured this method of approach, which at the present day is
traditional only among the Indians; yet an old friend, who died a few
years ago, almost a hundred years old, has told me that he had many
times killed buffalo in this way, either alone or in company with some
Indian friend.

Indians and half-breeds alike preserved the flesh of the buffalo by
drying it. The strips or wide flakes of meat were cut about one-quarter
of an inch thick and hung on scaffolds exposed to sun and air. In
a day or two the meat was thoroughly dried, when it was bent into
proper lengths, and either tied in bundles or done up in parfleches.
It was from this dried meat that the well-known pemmican was made.
The dried meat was roasted over a fire of coals, and then broken up
by pounding with sticks on a hide, or by pounding between two stones.
This pulverized flesh was mixed with the melted fat of the buffalo, and
after the whole mass had been thoroughly stirred, was packed in sacks
made of buffalo skin, which were then sewed up with sinew, and as the
mass gradually cooled the sack became hard, and would keep for a very
long time.

The killing of buffalo, as described, was in no sense sport; instead,
it was work of the hardest kind. The swift ride over the dry plains
through the clouds of dust, the killing of the buffalo, and finally the
cutting up of the animals was physical labor far harder than most of
that performed by civilized man. Usually, the buffalo were killed far
from water, and the severe work that the man had been doing and the
summer heat made him very thirsty. It is not strange, then, that he
slaked his thirst by devouring the liver, sprinkled with gall, or by
eating raw the gelatinous nose of the buffalo.

The description of a butchering, given by Audubon in his “Missouri
River Journal,” is very graphic, and is worth quoting here:--

“The moment that the buffalo is dead, three or four hunters, their
faces and hands often covered with gunpowder, and with pipes lighted,
place the animal on its belly, and, by drawing out each fore and
hind leg, fix the body so that it cannot fall again; an incision is
made near the root of the tail, immediately above the root in fact,
and the skin cut to the neck, and taken off in the roughest manner
imaginable, downward and on both sides at the same time. The knives
are going in all directions, and many wounds occur in the hands and
fingers, but are rarely attended to at this time. The pipe of one man
has perhaps given out, and with his bloody hands he takes the one of
his nearest companion, who has his own hands equally bloody. Now one
breaks in the skull of the bull, and with bloody fingers draws out
the hot brains and swallows them with peculiar zest; another has now
reached the liver, and is gobbling down enormous pieces of it; while
perhaps a third, who has come to the paunch, is feeding luxuriously on
some--to me--disgusting-looking offal. But the main business proceeds.
The flesh is taken off from the sides of the boss, or hump bones, from
where these bones begin to the very neck, and the hump itself is thus
destroyed. The hunters gave the name of ‘hump’ to the mere bones when
slightly covered by flesh; and it is cooked, and is very good when fat,
young, and well broiled. The pieces of flesh taken from the sides of
these bones are called _filets_, and are the best portion of the animal
when properly cooked. The forequarters, or shoulders, are taken off,
as well as the hind ones, and the sides, covered by a thin portion of
flesh, called the dépouillé, are taken out. Then the ribs are broken
off at the vertebræ, as well as the boss bones. The marrow-bones,
which are those of the fore and hind legs only, are cut out last.
The feet usually remain attached to these; the paunch is stripped of
its covering of layers of fat, the head and backbone are left to the
wolves. The pipes are all emptied, the hands, faces, and clothes all
bloody, and now a glass of grog is often enjoyed, as the stripping off
the skin and flesh of three or four animals is truly very hard work.…
When the wind is high, and the buffaloes run toward it, the hunters’
guns often snap, and it is during their exertions to replenish their
pans that the powder flies and sticks to the moisture every moment
accumulating on their faces; but nothing stops these daring and usually
powerful men, who, the moment the chase is ended, leap from their
horses, let them graze, and begin their butcher-like work.”

The Indian and the half-breed killed the buffalo for their
support,--for food, clothing, shelter, and many of their implements.
The civilized buffalo skinner exterminated it for its hides. There
was another class which did something toward wiping out the buffalo,
yet the numbers killed by them were inconsiderable in comparison
with those killed for commercial purposes. This class comprised those
who ran buffalo for sport. Buffalo-running was not a difficult art,
nor especially exciting, except so far as it is exciting to chase and
overtake some creature that is trying to escape. Provided a man had
a good horse and was fairly accustomed to riding, there was little
difficulty and little danger in the buffalo chase. At the same time,
the combination of the swift ride, the rough country, the dust and dirt
thrown up by the flying herd, and the close proximity of the great
beasts have reduced many a buffalo runner on his first chase to a pitch
of nervousness which made him do precisely the wrong thing. There have
been cases, not a few, where riders, trying to kill buffalo with a
pistol, have shot their own horses instead of the buffalo; and at least
one case came to my knowledge where the excited hunter, riding up on
the right instead of the left side of the bull, and shooting across his
own body, managed to shoot himself in the left arm.

There was something rather exhilarating in the headlong ride after
buffalo, a game not unlike “follow my leader,” which boys play, where
the leader chooses the roughest and most difficult ground over which
he can pass, and the follower is obliged to take the same route. But
buffalo-hunting is now a sport of the distant past, and it is needless
to speak of it at any length.

In the days of its abundance the buffalo was a most impressive species,
and their enormous numbers have been a theme on which many writers
have delighted to linger. Adjectives have failed them to describe the
multitudes of buffalo seen, and it was not unusual for men to travel
long distances among great herds, which made slow way for them as
they passed along. Many calculations have been made of the numbers of
buffalo seen at one time; but, after all, these can be little more
than guesswork. Terms like thousands and millions, so commonly used,
have little or no meaning, for we have no standard of comparison by
which to measure them. All the earlier writers, however graphic their
descriptions of their numbers, fail to impress the reader, because no
one could comprehend such numbers except by seeing them. Dr. Allen,
Mr. Hornaday, Colonel Dodge, and many of the old explorers, give
much matter bearing on this subject. A few lines from the Journal of
Alexander Henry give some idea of their numbers on the Red River. He
says, under date of September 18, 1800: “I took my usual morning view
from the top of my oak, and saw more buffalo than ever. They formed
one body, commencing about half a mile from camp, whence the plain was
covered on the west side of the river as far as the eye could reach.
They were moving slowly southward, and the meadow seemed as if in
motion. This afternoon I rode a few miles up Park River. The few spots
of wood along it have been ravaged by buffalo; none but the large trees
are standing, the barks of which are rubbed perfectly smooth, and heaps
of wool and hair lie at the foot of the trees. The small wood and brush
are entirely destroyed, and even the grass is not permitted to grow
in the points of the wood. The bare ground is more trampled by these
cattle than the gate of the farm yard.”

Even in recent times one might journey for days at a time through
herds, which to the eye seemed absolutely to cover a blackened prairie,
and I myself have travelled for weeks through the Northwest without,
at any time during the day, being out of sight of buffalo. How many
millions there were in the great herds through which we used to pass,
it is useless now to compute. They have all gone. But over a vast
extent of the western country they have left memorials still visible
and long to endure in the deep trails which furrow the prairie in all

Other mementos still to be seen, and stirring the heart of the
old-timer, though to the man of to-day they are without a meaning, are
the huge erratic boulders which lie here and there over the prairie
where they were dropped by the great ice mass in its passage down from
the highland. Against such boulders the buffalo used to rub their
bodies, and such masses of granite or of flinty quartzite, polished and
with their sharp angles worn away by the rubbing against them of the
tough hides, may often be seen. About such a rock, deep worn in the
ground, is the trench, where the bulls and the cows and the younger
animals once marched as they pushed their sides against the hard rock,
their hoofs cutting the soil into fine dust to be blown away by the
wind. The angles of these old rubbing-stones are still discolored by
the grease left on them from the buffalo’s skins, and looking at them,
one might fancy that they had been used only yesterday.

Here, then, are monuments of imperishable granite, fashioned by a race
of dumb creatures, and telling to him who can read their sculpturing a
long story of life and power and multitude forever gone. From earliest
time man has set up all over the earth his enduring memorials to hold
the wonder of later ages; but of the races of the beasts, which one has
done this, save only the bison?



The great elevation of the forequarters, the mass of long hair
clothing the head, shoulders, and fore part of the body, together
with the peculiar form of the head and horns, the latter of which are
cylindrical, serve at once to distinguish the bison from the other
members of the ox tribe. Some of the points distinguishing the American
bison from its European cousin are that the mass of hair on the fore
quarters is longer, the form of the skull is different, the horns are
shorter, thicker, blunter, and more sharply curved. In the skull of the
American animal the sockets of the eyes have a more tubular form.

Height at shoulder about 6 feet; weight from 15 to 20 hundredweight; an
adult bull weighed by W. T. Hornaday scaled 1727 pounds.

_Distribution._--The greater portion of western North America,
ascending to the Great Slave Lake, and descending to New Mexico and
Texas; now nearly exterminated. American writers recognize two races
(or species), the prairie bison (_B. bison typicus_) and the larger
wood bison (_B. bison athabascæ_) of the forest highlands of the

                         MEASUREMENTS OF HORNS

  LENGTH |       |      |       |                 |
    ON   |CIRCUM-|TIP TO|WIDEST |                 |
   CURVE |       |      |SPREAD |                 |
  --21½  | 15¼   |  ..  |  35   |Northern Montana |W. F. Sheard
         |       |      |outside|                 |
         |       |      |       |                 |
    20⅞  | 15    |  ..  |  30½  |Wyoming          |Hon. F.
         |       |      |       |                 |  Thellusson
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --20¼  | 16⅛   |  33½ |  ..   |       ?         |W. H. Root
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --19   | 12½   |  ..  |  ..   |Western Montana  |P. Liebinger
         |       |      |       |                 |
    18⅞  | 14¾   |  ..  |  16⅞  |Western Montana  |The late J. S.
         |       |      |       |                 |  Jameson
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --18¼  | 14    |  26¼ |  29   |Sioux Country    |Sir Greville
         |       |      |       |                 |  Smyth, Bart.
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --18   | 14    |  ..  |  ..   |Montana          |F. Sauter
         |       |      |       |                 |
    17¾  | 12⅜   |  15⅛ |  ..   |       ?         |H.R.H. the Duke
         |       |      |       |                 |  of Saxe-Coburg
         |       |      |       |                 |  and Gotha
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --17½  | 12½   |  ..  |  ..   |Southwestern     |Theodore
         |       |      |       |  Montana        |  Roosevelt
         |       |      |       |                 |
    17½  | 12    |  ..  |  25½  |Wyoming          |H.R.H. le Duc
         |       |      |       |                 |  d’Orléans
         |       |      |       |                 |
    17½  | 13½   |  21  |  ..   |       ?         |Viscount
         |       |      |       |                 |  Powerscourt
         |       |      |       |                 |
    17⅛  | 11⅜   |  10⅜ |  17⅛  |       ?         |British Museum
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --17   | 14    |  17½ |  ..   |Yellowstone,     |Count E. Hoyos
         |       |      |       |  Montana        |
         |       |      |       |                 |
    16⅝  | 14¼   |  24  |  ..   |Bighorn Mts.,    |Moreton Frewen[7]
         |       |      |       |   Wyoming       |
         |       |      |       |                 |
    16½  | 12½   |  19⅜ |  ..   |Colorado         |Sir Edmund G.
         |       |      |       |                 |  Loder, Bart.
         |       |      |       |                 |
    16¼  | 13½   |  14¼ |  ..   |       ?         |Duke of Portland
         |       |      |       |                 |
    16⅛  | 15⅞   |  25¾ |  ..   |Colorado         |Sir Edmund G.
         |       |      |       |                 |  Loder, Bart.
         |       |      |       |                 |
    15½  | 14⅜   |  ..  |  19¾  |Wyoming          |St. George
         |       |      |       |                 |  Littledale
         |       |      |       |                 |
  --15.8 | 12.14 |  15  |  ..   |Indian Territory,|Prince Henry of
         |       |      |       | near Texas      |  Liechtenstein
         |       |      |       |                 |
    14   |  ..   |  12¼ |  ..   |North Park,      |Col. Ralph Vivian
         |       |      |       |  Colorado       |
         |       |      |       |                 |
    13½  | 13½   |  17½ |  ..   |       ?         |G. Wrey
         |       |      |       |                 |
    13⅜  | 12    |  ..  |  ..   |       ?         |Hon. Walter
         |       |      |       |                 |  Rothschild




Upon a Sunday morning, the 10th of July 1892, I awaked among my scanty
yet entangling Pullman blankets, and persuaded the broken-springed
window-shade of my lower berth to slide upward sufficiently for a
view of Livingston, Montana. Outside I beheld with something more
than pleasure a fat and flourishing mountain ram. He was tethered to
a telegraph pole, and he scanned with an indifference bred by much
familiarity our sleeping-car, which had come from St. Paul, being
dropped last night from the coast-bound train, because it was this
morning to trundle its load of tourists up the Yellowstone Park branch
to Cinnabar. The ram had been looking at Eastern tourists and their
cars long enough for the slow gaze of his eye to express not a kindred
but the same contempt which smouldered in the stare of the Indians
at Custer station, of the cow punchers at Billings, of every Rocky
Mountain creature, indeed, beneath whose observation the Eastern
tourist passes. Dear reader, go stand opposite the lion at the zoo
if you don’t know what I mean. So patent was the stigma cast that
it fantastically came into my head to step down and explain to the
animal that I was not a tourist, that I had hunted and slain members
of his species before now, and should probably do so again. And while
thus I sat speculating among the Pullman blankets, the ram leaped
irrelevantly off the earth, waved his fore legs, came down, ran a tilt
at the telegraph pole as though at a quintain, and the next instant
was grazing serene on the flat with an air of having had no connection
whatever with the late disturbance.

What had started him off like that? Extreme youth? No; for when I came
to hear about him, he was five years old--a maturity corresponding in
us men to about thirty. It was simply his own charming temperament. No
locomotive had approached; moreover for locomotives he, as I was later
to observe, did not care a hang; no citizen old or young of either sex
had given him offence; nor was there stir of any kind in Livingston,
Montana, this fine early Sunday morning. When I presently stood on the
platform, only the wind was blowing down from the sunny snow-fields,
and that not bleakly, while from high invisible directions came thinly
a pleasant tankling of cow-bells.

Not two minutes had I been on the platform when the ram did it again.
Yes, it was merely his charming temperament; and often since, very
often, when encompassed with ponderous acquaintance, have I envied him
his blithe and relaxing privilege. I was now thankful to learn that the
branch train had still some considerable time to wait for the train
from Tacoma, before it could take me from the ram’s company; no such
good chance to watch a live healthy mountain sheep on his own native
heath was likely again to be mine, and after breakfast I sought his
owner at once.

“It’s a fine dy,” said the owner.

“And a very fine ram,” I assured him.

“He’s quite tyme,” the owner went on. “You can have him for five

“You’re a long way from London,” was my comment; and he asked if I,
too, were English. But I was not, nor had I any wish to bear away the
ram, skipping and leaping into civilization.

Three hundred pounds would, I suppose, have been a little heavier
than he was, but not much; he stood near as high as my waist, and he
had at some period of his long, long ancestry marched across to us
from Asia upon his lengthy un-sheeplike legs--skipped over the icy
straits before Adam (let alone Behring) was in the world, and while
the straits themselves waited for the splitting sea to break the
bridge of land between Kamchatka and Alaska. This is the best guess
which science can make concerning our sheep’s mysterious origin. Upon
our soil, none of nature’s graveyards hold his bones preserved until
late in the geological day; earlier than the glacial period neither
he nor his equally anomalous comrade, the white goat, would seem to
have been with us; and we may comfortably suppose that sheep and goat
took up their journey together and came over the great old Aleutian
bridge which Behring found later in fragments. Having landed up there
in the well-nigh Polar north, they skipped their way east and south
among our Pacific and Rocky Mountains, until, by the time we ourselves
came over to live in the North American continent, they had--the sheep
especially--spread themselves widely, and were occupying a handsome
domain when we met them.

“Among other things we procured two horns of the animal … known to the
Mandans by the name of ahsahta … winding like those of a ram.”

This, so far as I know, is the first word of the mountain sheep
recorded by an American. Thus wrote Lewis on December the
twenty-second, 1804, being then in winter camp with the Mandan Indians,
not many miles up the river from where to-day the Northern Pacific’s
bridge joins Bismarck to Mandan. We find him again, on the twenty-fifth
of the May following, when he has proceeded up the Missouri a little
beyond the Musselshell, writing, “In the course of the day we also
saw several herds of the big-horned animals among the steep cliffs on
the north, and killed several of them;” as to which one of his fellow
explorers correctly comments in his own record, “But they very little
resemble sheep, except in the head, horns, and feet.” It is not worth
while to quote a later reference made when the party was near the
Dearborn River, north, sixty miles or so, of where now stands the town
of Helena.

Thus it is to be seen that Meriwether Lewis, private secretary to
President Jefferson and commander of that great expedition, met the
mountain sheep in Dakota, and from there to the Rocky Mountains grew
familiar with him; though not so familiar as to prevent his later
making a confusion between sheep and goats, which, being handed down,
delayed for many years a clear knowledge of these animals. To this I
shall return when goats are in question.

Until very lately, until the eighties, that is to say, sheep were still
to be found in plenty where Meriwether Lewis found them among the Bad
Lands of Dakota; and they dwelt in most ranges of the Western mountains
from Alaska to Sonora. They had not taken to the peaks exclusively
then; the great table-land was high enough for them. I very well recall
a drive in July, 1885, when, from the wagon in which I sat, I saw a
little band of them watching us pass, in a country of sage-brush and
buttes so insignificant as not to figure as hills upon the map. That
was between Medicine Bow and the Platte River. To meet the bighorn
there to-day would be a very extraordinary circumstance; and as for
Dakota, there too has civilization arrived; and you will find
divorces commoner than sheep--and less valuable.

[Illustration: ALERT--(_Ovis stonei_)]

It is Gass whom I have cited above as to the scant likeness between
this wild so-called sheep and the usual sheep of our experience; and
it was Gass whose word I remembered this Sunday morning at Livingston,
while I stood taking my fill of observation. The ram, as his owner had
assured me, was in all truth quite “tyme”; and you could examine him as
near as you wished. I took hold of his rope and pulled him to me, and
rubbed his nose. Like a sheep? I have already spoken of his long legs.
I now looked him over carefully for a sign of anything in the nature
of fleece. There was no sign. Short hair, in texture not unlike the
antelope’s and in color not far from that gray we see in fishing-line,
covered him close and thick. Upon his neck and shoulders it merged with
a very light reddish brown, and on his rump it became a patch much
lighter, though not white. In fact, the hue of his coat varied subtly
all over him; and I am tempted to remark in this connection that in
describing the color of wild animals most of us have been apt to make
our assertions far too rigid. Animals there are, of course, completely
white, or black, and so forth; but many, the more you scrutinize them,
the more reveal gradations, as this ram did; gray fishing-tackle is
only a rough impression of his tint upon the 10th of July; on December
the 1st of that same year I saw him again, and his hair had darkened
to something like a Maltese cat’s. Furthermore, I have seen other
sheep in summer that struck me, some as lighter, and some as darker,
than the gray of fishing-tackle. And what, shall we infer, do these
variations import? Adjustments to climate and environment, state of the
individual’s age and health, or several distinct species of sheep? I
think I should be shy of the last inference unless I were prepared to
accept a difference in the color of the eyes and hair of two brothers
as being a basis sufficient to class them as separate subspecies of
man. It is a dear thought to many of us that some mountain, some lake,
some river, some street, or even (rather than nothing at all) some
alley, shall be labelled with our name, and thus bear it down the ages;
and from this very human craving our zoölogists are not wholly exempt;
but I have been taught to doubt that of the mountain sheep, the _Ovis
canadensis_[8] (or _Ovis cervina_, as some books still have it), more
than one or two subdivisions will prove, in the end, valid enlargements
of our knowledge. These are _Ovis dalli_,[9] a white variety in central
Alaska, north of latitude 60°, and (perhaps) _Ovis stonei_,[10] a
dark variety with horns more slender and outward curving, in Alaska
and North British Columbia. The four other would-be subspecies have
been set down as _Ovis canadensis auduboni_, _Ovis nelsoni_,[11] _Ovis
mexicana_,[12] and _Ovis fannini_.[13] These four may be considered
not so much varieties of sheep as works of fiction.

As to the general name, all are agreed to let him pass conveniently as
a sheep,--conveniently, but with a number of reserves which science
can state. He has, for instance, some things in common with the goat
family. Indeed, science can, in final analysis, hardly separate sheep
from goat. Relatives in this continent our _Ovis_ possesses absolutely
none; but there are cousins to be found in Kamchatka, Tibet, and
India; and I have been told by one hunter that the moufflon of Corsica
resembles him not a little. I’ve forgotten to mention that he hasn’t
any tail to speak of. So now at length, you, who have never looked upon
him, see him, if you can, through my unscientific vision, as I rubbed
his nose at Livingston, Montana: tall almost as a deer, shaped almost
like a heavy black-tail deer, close haired, grayish, tailless, with
unexpected ram’s horns curving round his furry ears and forward, with
eyes dark yellow and grave, and with the look of a great gentleman in
every line of him. The tame sheep is hopelessly _bourgeois_; but this
mountain aristocrat, this frequenter of clean snow and steep rocks and
silence, has, even beyond the bull elk, that same secure, unconscious
air of being not only well bred, but _high_ bred, not only game but
_fine_ game, which we still in the twentieth century meet sometimes
among men and women. What gives distinction? Who can say? It is to be
found among chickens and fish. What preserves it we know; and our laws
will in the end extirpate it. Many people already fail to recognize it,
either in life or in books. But nature scorns universal suffrage; and
when our houses have ceased to contain gentlefolk, we shall still be
able to find them in the zoölogical gardens.

During my interview with the sheep, freight trains had passed once or
twice without disturbing him or attracting his notice; but as I walked
away and left him grazing, there came by a switching-engine that made
a great noise. This didn’t frighten him, but set him in a rage. Once
again he leaped into the air waving his fore legs and eccentrically
descended to charge with fury his telegraph pole. Yes, he was “tyme,”
if by that word one is to understand that he was shy neither of men
nor locomotives; but just here there is a hole in our dictionary. Do
you imagine that five years of captivity are going to tame the blood
and the nerves of a creature that came over the Aleutian bridge from
Asia during the Pleistocene, and has been running wild in the mountains
until 1887? He was “tame” enough to pay you no attention--until he
wanted to kill you; and this was what he did want when I saw him on
the first day of the following December. Then was his rutting time; he
was ready to attack and destroy with his powerful horns anything in
Livingston; and so it was in a stable that I found the poor fellow,
took a peep through the quarter-opened door, where his owner had shut
him and tied him in the dark, away from his natural rights of love and
war. I noted his winter coat of maltese, I heard his ominous breathing,
I saw the wild dangerous lustre in his rolling eye; and that was my
farewell to the captive.

So good a chance to study a live ram I have never had again. Upon the
other occasions when I have been able to approach them at all, study
has not been my object, and the distance between us has been greater;
but on one happy later day, I watched a ewe with her lamb for the good
part of a morning.

In the summer of 1885, as I have said, the mountain sheep had not yet
forsaken quite accessible regions in Wyoming; and very likely he still
came down low in most of his old haunts. The small band which I saw was
not many miles from one of the largest ranches in that country, and the
creatures stood in full sight of a travelled road,--not at that time a
stage-road, but one that might be daily frequented by people riding or
people driving on their way north from Medicine Bow into the immense
cattle country of the Platte and of the Powder River still farther
beyond, all the way to the Bighorn Mountains. Those very mountains that
bear the sheep’s name and were once so full of sheep as well as of
every other Rocky Mountain big game are now sacked and empty. Hidden
here and there, some may exist yet, but as fugitives in a sanctuary,
not as free denizens of the wild. I saw three years bring this change
which thirty years had not brought; and in 1888 you would have looked
in vain, I think, for sheep on the road from Medicine Bow to Fetterman.
I found them that year at no such stone’s throw from the easy levels
of the earth, but up in the air a great distance.

The Washakie Needle, for steepness, is truly a heartrending country,
and that is why the sheep are there. In it rise Owl Creek, Grey Bull,
and certain other waters tributary to the Bighorn; and I have never
gone with pack-horses in a worse place. A worse place, in fact, I have
never seen; though they tell me that where Green River heads on the
Continental Divide (in plain sight from the Washakie Needle across
the intervening Wind River country) you can, if you so desire, enmesh
yourself, lose yourself among cleavages and cañons that slice and slit
the mountains to a shredded labyrinth. From the edge of that rocky web
I stepped back, discouraged, a year later; and for vertical effects
the Washakie Needle remains, as they say, “good enough” for me. We
struggled to it through a land of jumping-off places, a high, bald,
bristling clot of mountains that, just beyond the southeast corner of
the Yellowstone Park, come from several directions to meet and tie
themselves into this rich tangle of peaks, ledges, and descents. You
really never did see such a place! and my memory of it is made lurid by
an adventure with a thunder-storm which cannot be chronicled here
because it happened on one of the days when we found elk, but most
lamentably missed our sheep. Missing a sheep, let me say, is of all
missing the most thorough that I know.

[Illustration: UNDER A HOT SKY--(_Ovis nelsoni_)]

Encouragement, false encouragement, had come to us after our very
first night in camp by the Washakie Needle. The next night we had wild
mutton for supper. That initial day, Wednesday, August twenty-ninth,
brought us this sweet luck, sweet not alone in its promise of more (for
the country was evidently full of sheep), but almost equally because
of late, during our perilous journey, we had come down to bacon. Now,
to be a hunting party, to be in the Shoshone Mountains in August,
1888, and to be eating _bacon_, was to be humiliated; only our hard
travelling that allowed no attending to other business could excuse
such a bill of fare; hence did our pride and our stomachs hail this
wild mutton. There was not much of him to hail: he was a young ram; and
between six of us, after bacon … need I say more?

It had been my intention, until this very paragraph, to skip what
happened next day. But I am growing confidential; these shall be the
confessions of a bad shot. I have read in books and in periodicals
so many pages where none but good shots were ever fired; I have
listened--merciful heaven!--to the tales of my sportsman friends; and,
reader, unless you are not at all like me, you have read such pages
too, have listened to such stories too, and you have found a monotony
creep over these triumphs of other people,--the hair’s-breadth climb,
the noiseless approach, the long-range shot, one hundred yards, two
hundred, five hundred, with sights not adjusted but elevation merely
guessed at, and the inevitably unerring result; and in the midst of all
this asphyxiating skill, you have sometimes longed for one pure, fresh
breath of failure--have you not? Well, at all events you shall read of
mine; and, besides variety, there is a second good reason for this; you
could not better learn the ways of the mountain sheep, which, so far as
I know them, I am attempting to tell you.

Four of us were so foolish as to set out together upon this evil
morning; two parties, that is, of the guide and the guided. There is
never any gain in doing this, and almost always loss. The attention
which you should be giving to your business is divided by conversation,
or by waiting for some member of the party who has fallen behind;
and no matter how silent you keep yourselves, four people are sure
at some wrong moment to prove conspicuous; better hunt alone, unless
circumstances make it wise that there should be two of you--steep
country does make this wise--but assuredly never go after game in
fours, as we two white men and two Indians went now. We labored and
we labored and we finally were upon the top instead of at the bottom
of something. It was no more than a ridge, not high, that everywhere
dropped off into our own valley or the next one; but two sweating hours
had gone in getting merely here, and here our eight eyes discerned
sheep, quite a band of them. Not, however, before the sheep had
discerned us four wily hunters. We did not know this then, because
they stayed still where they seemed to be grazing. It was a great way
off in a straight line through the air, for the sheep were small dots
upon the mountain; and there was no straight line for us to reach them
by. We labored and we labored down to a new bottom and upward on a new
slope, and made a most elaborate “sneak,” crouching, and stopping, and
generally manœuvring among stones, gravel, and harsh tufts of growth;
so did we come with splendid caution upon where the sheep had been,
and, lifting our heads, beheld the vacuum that they had left, and
themselves contemplating us from the extreme top of the mountain. I am
sure that you know how it feels to have your foot step into space at
what you thought was the bottom of the staircase. There is a gasp of
very particular sensation connected with this, and that is what I had
now, followed at once by the no less distasteful retrospect of myself
with my half-cocked rifle, crawling carefully for yards upon my belly,
while the sheep watched me doing it. There they were on the top of this
new mountain, away far above us, and we four hunters proceeded to go
on wrong, as we had begun. I have forgotten to mention that, among our
other follies, we had brought horses. Never do such a thing! If you are
not in training good enough to hunt mountain sheep on your own legs,
wait and climb about for a few days until you have got your breath.
What my horse did for me on this precious day was this: our hills were
too steep for him to carry me up, so I led him; they were too steep
for him to carry me down, so I led him; and betweenwhiles, when I was
stalking sheep, I naturally had to leave him behind, and naturally had
to go back for him when the stalk was over. You will have by this time
but a middling opinion of my common sense; but please bear in mind that
Shoshone Indians invariably hunt with horses, and that in those days I
was still too much one of the “guided” to be equal to dictating to any
Indian what trail we should go, and in what manner we should hunt. This
entire hunt of 1888, from the distant Tetons and the waters of Snake
River over to the Washakie Needle and Owl Creek, is a tale of struggle
between ourselves and our red-skinned guides; we were beginning to know
the mountains, to crave exploration, to try the _un_beaten path; and
for an Indian (though you would never suspect it until you suffered
from it) the unbeaten path is the one that he never wishes to try and
will do all things to escape--even to deserting you and going home.

We hunters now set our legs to new laboring, and presently were again
weltering in sweat, and could look down into a third valley similar to
the two we had so painfully quitted. Down at the bottom of this new
gash in the hills went a little stream like all the others, and beyond
bristled interminably the knife-like intersections of the mountains.
We had placed our sheep behind a little rise along the summit, and
between this and ourselves some three hundred yards still intervened.
We were, of course, much above where any trees grew, and the ground was
of that stony sort with short growth and no great rocks immediately
near; a high, lumpy pasture of mounds and hollows, wet with snows but
lately melted, hailed upon often, rained on but seldom. Lower down,
this pasture country (which made the top of all but the highest and
severest mountains) fell away in descents of gravel and sheer plunges
of rock. To get closer to our sheep we now discovered we must go down
some of this hill we had just come up; they were on the watch, but
were fortunately watching the wrong place, and we all sat down in
happy pride for a consultation. The other side of the hill had turned
out suddenly to be a precipice, a regular jumping-off one, that went
a long way and ended in a crumble of shifting stones, and then took
a jump or two more and so reached the water at the distant bottom.
This side was our only possible course, and we took another look at
the sheep. They had given up watching, and in joy we started for them
quickly. We had so skilfully chosen the ground for our approach that
we were screened by a succession of little rises and hollows which
lay between us and the sheep. This time, this time, there was to be
no crawling up to find a vacuum, no raising your head to discover the
departed sheep taking a bird’s-eye view of you! What the hearts of the
other hunters did, I don’t know, but my heart thumped with vindictive
elation as we sped crouching among the little intervening hollows,
perfectly hidden from the sheep and drawing close to them at last. Only
one more rise and hollow lay between us and where they were pasturing;
and over that rise we hastened straight into the laps of some twenty
sheep we had known nothing about; they were all lying down. Neither
had they known anything about us; the surprise was mutual. All round
me I saw them rise, as it were, like one man and take to diving over
the precipice. Bewilderment closed over me like a flood; all my senses
melted into one blurred pie of perception in which I was aware only of
hind legs and hopping. Frightful language was pouring from me, but I
didn’t hear what it was; all was a swirl and scatter of men and sheep.
Not one of us hunters was ready with his gun or his intelligence. We
indiscriminately stampeded to the edge, and there went the sheep,
hustling down over the stones, sliding, springing, and dissolving away.
And now, suddenly, when it was of no use at all, we remembered that we
carried rifles, and like a chorus in a comic opera we stood on the brow
of the mountain, concertedly working the levers, firing our Winchesters
into space.

It’s all fifteen years ago; yet as I read over my relentless
camp-diary, I blush in spite of laughter; it’s hot work staring truth
in the face! And now comes the last feeble pop of the ridiculous. We
turned our heads, and beheld the sheep we had come for, the sheep we
had climbed two mountains for, the sheep we had at length got within a
hundred yards of, just disappearing over a final ridge so far away that
there remained to them no color, and only one dimension--length. They
looked like a handful of toothpicks. They naturally had not been idle
while we were so busy; while we were losing our heads, they had kept
theirs; and during that brief fusillade of ours--the whole preposterous
affair could not have filled more than three minutes--they had put such
a stretch of ups and downs between us, that going after them any more
was not to be thought of.

We stood at the empty top of the mountain with our ruined day. There
was not a live animal in sight anywhere. Those that jumped into the
valley were lost among the pines, and warned about us beyond retrieve.
We had banged away at such a rate up here that a wide circle of sheep
must be apprised of our neighborhood. Why had we done it? For just the
same reason that a number of brave persons ran away suddenly at Bull
Run as if perdition were at their heels. Surprise, I take it, is at
the bottom of the most unaccountable acts of men. And if you wonder
why our two Indians were surprised, I can only answer with a theory
of mine that Indians who hunt on horseback have small knowledge of
mountain sheep. Antelope, deer, white-tail and black, and even elk,
can be, and are constantly thus hunted by the Indians; but when it
comes to climbing where the horses cannot go, I suspect that his rider
seldom goes either. Looking back, I see now that this whole excursion
was conducted ignorantly, and that our guides (both of them excellent
hunters of other game) neglected the very first principle here, namely,
to get to the top of the mountains and hunt down.

We returned our long way to camp, and the elk that one of us shot at
sundown made no atonement for our melancholy farce. My diary concludes,
“So ended Thursday, August 30, a most instructive day, full of weather,
wind, and experience.”

By breakfast we were bearing up a little, making much of the fact that,
after all, the sheep we had seen were only ewes and lambs. This would
not have caused us to spare them, to be sure; we were out of fresh
meat when we saw them; and though the head and horns of a ewe do not
make a noble trophy for the sportsman, they represent hard work, and
are decidedly better than nothing at all when you are a beginner, and

We took another course, making for mountains on the side of the valley
opposite from yesterday’s route. My Indian was not hopeful. “Too much
shoot,” he remarked. “Run away.” But presently we passed very fresh
tracks, and began one of those ascents where you are continually sure
that the next top is the real top. We had come looking for the sheep at
a season when he is living mostly upon the roof of his house. He, with
the goat, inhabits, it may be fairly said, the tallest mansion of all
our ruminants; indeed, you may put the whole case thus:--

Our Rocky Mountains are a four-story building. The bottom is the
sage-brush and cotton-wood, the second is pines and quaking-asp, the
third is willow bushes, wet meadows, and moraines, and the fourth is
bald rocks and snow-fields. The house begins about five thousand feet
high, and runs to fourteen thousand. We have nothing to do with the
prairie-dog and others that live in the cellar; it is the antelope to
which the first floor belongs, and also the white-tail deer, which,
however, gets up a little into the second. The elk, the black-tail, and
the mule-deer possess second and third stories in common, while the
fourth is the exclusive territory of the sheep and the goat. But here
is the difference; these latter (the sheep, certainly) descend to all
the other stories if the season drives or the humor suits them; they go
from roof to ground, while the other animals seldom, save when hunted,
are to be met above or below their assigned levels. I have met a sheep
on Wind River in July where the sage-brush was growing, and another on
a wooded foot-hill just above Jackson’s Lake.

This day we went to the fourth story by a staircase dear to the heart
of a sheep. I mounted through an uncanny domain where all about me
stood little pillars of round stones baked together in mud, and planted
on end, each supporting a single rock of another color set upon them
transversely; shafts of necromancy they would have seemed in the age
of witches, altars which might flame by night while some kind of
small, naked beings with teeth held rites over the traveller’s crushed
body, for from one’s feet here the little stones rolled down to right
and left into depths invisible. You who have not seen cannot imagine
how here and there in the Rocky Mountains these masonries of nature
suggest the work not of men but demons. Silence drew around me as I
passed upward through the weird dwarf Stonehenge; and on top we found
ourselves looking down the other side at a gray stump which presently
moved. The glasses showed us the stump’s legs and fine curling horns;
and our hearts, which had been for some time heavy at the poor luck,
grew light. Only, how to get at him?

[Illustration: SURPRISED (White Sheep--_Ovis dalli_)]

We had almost given up the game when we spied the ram; we had
come so far for so long; and we now had been sitting upon--almost
straddling--this ultimate ridge, with the Indian every little while
lugubriously repeating, “No sheep.” The ram had not a suspicion of us,
and presently lay down in the sun near the bottom of a rocky gulch.
The whole of the gulch we could not see, not even when we had crawled
down a side of the mountain, an endless surface of rolling stones with
scanty patches of grass and an occasional steadfast rock. This descent
seemed the most taxing effort yet. It was nearly always (and sometimes
quite) impossible to stir a foot or a hand, or shift any fraction of my
weight, without starting a rippling stream of stones that chuckled and
bounced and gathered noise as they flowed downward, and finally sprang
into a rocky chasm which gave out hollow roars. I often felt certain
these sounds must reach the ram; but they were only next door to him,
so to speak, and separated by the tilted wall of mountain which divided
his gulch from the one down the side of which I was so very gradually
making my way. I don’t believe the whole distance could have been more
than three hundred yards; yet I was nearly thirty minutes accomplishing
it with the help of the grass tufts and every other fixture that came
within available reach in this sliding sea of stones. I at length
arrived where I wanted to be, and a truly unkind thing happened: I was
taken with “buck-fever”! It didn’t prevent my finally getting a shot
in; but here is the whole adventure.

I lifted myself and looked over the edge into the next gulch. There was
the ram, who saw me at the same moment, and rose. I probably missed
him; for after my shot he continued to walk toward me in a leisurely
manner, not fifty yards distant, I should think, down in his gulch.
Whether I fired at him again or not, I _can’t remember_,--couldn’t
remember that same evening when I tried to put the whole event
faithfully down in my diary! Buck-fever is not the only reason for
this uncertainty; for now, from behind every rock below me, horns rose
up like tricks out of a trap-door, apparitions of horns everywhere,
an invasion of mountain sheep. They came straight up to me,--this was
the most upsetting part of it all. Not one did I see running down the
gulch; they hadn’t made me out, or made anything out, save that some
noise had disturbed them. They came up and up around me, passing me,
steadily coming and going on over the mountain while my buck-fever
raged. “I saw their big grave eyes and the different shades of their
hair, and noticed their hoofs moving--but whether they came by fast or
slow, or what number there were, I cannot remember at all.” Such are
the actual words I wrote not more than six hours later, and I am glad
to possess this searching record of that day and of my bygone state of
mind; for with the best honesty in the world no man can from memory
alone rebuild the minute edifice of truth that has been covered by the
heap of fifteen gathering years. So I stood, crazy and inefficient,
upon the mountains, and after a little no more sheep were there. A
speck of conscious action remained with me, namely, that during the
passage of the sheep I had held myself enough in control to get “a
bead” on the broadside of two successively; I remembered following
them along for a moment with my rifle before pulling the trigger. But
these I never saw again, and know not where I hit them--if hit them I
did. One trophy remains to show for this day. A ram that had been shot
at some moment of the invasion returned to the gulch where I was, and
stood at a short distance above me; and then I succeeded in placing one
shot where I meant it to go.

The visions of this band, as it scattered in twos and threes after
crossing my gulch, would incline me to guess there must have been from
fifteen to twenty of them--all rams. Their sex is quite certain; the
most intense impression that was given to my unstrung perceptions is
of their huge curving horns and their solemn eyes. It is hateful to
think that some of them were hurt and so went off to limp, or to die;
and I am thankful to have but very few memories of wanton shooting,
and some consoling ones of temptations resisted. These rams mostly
escaped the indiscriminate blasts from my rifle; of this I am sure. I
saw them, high and low, near and far, scuttling into safety over the
steep ridges, or down into unseen cañons; and upon presently searching
the vicinity, we found but one trace of blood. As for the buck-fever,
it was the first seizure that I ever had, and it has proved the last.
Why it should have held off in previous years and come down upon me in
1888, who shall say? You will wonder as much as I do that a silver-tip
bear did not give me the slightest touch of it in July, 1887. A bear
is more important game than a sheep; this grizzly was the first I had
ever seen, and I was less experienced. Excitability is a matter of
temperament that varies infinitely; but this scarcely explains why,
with a bear to shoot, no cucumber could have been cooler than I was
one year, and why the next, with these rams, I seem to have been a
useless imbecile. The unexpected apparition of so many animals does
not account for it, because when I raised myself to look over the
ridge before my first shot that brought them into sight, I was shaking

These proceedings did not, at any rate, impair appetite. With the
flavor of elk, deer, antelope, bear, and even porcupine, we were
familiar; but wild mutton was still a great novelty, and we found
it the most palatable of all. I say “we found it” and not “it was,”
because I have found a lump of dough sponged round a tin plate full
of bacon grease so very delicious! The romance of wild game so mixes
with its taste that we carve a venison steak with unction and respect.
Yet I have come almost to think that our good old friend roast beef is
more savory than anything we can find in the woods. If it is merely the
pleasure of the table that you seek, take a good walk every day in the
park, or even just up and down town, and the meats from your kitchen
(if your lot is blest with a kitchen) will be superior to all the meats
of camp.

I become, as I look back, surer than ever that our Indians knew not
much more than we did ourselves about the habits of the mountain
sheep, and that they did as little reasoning as we did. On the day
preceding this, what had been our experience? To run into bands of
ewes and lambs. If the women and children were thus off by themselves
in the month of August, it was no great jump to conclude that the men
must be keeping each other company somewhere else. When we spied that
ram down the gulch sunning himself, we should have tried to ascertain
whether or not he was alone. As a matter of natural history, the
summer season does find the _Ovis canadensis_, as well as many other
of the ruminants, thus separated by sex; and the chances are that if
you meet a ewe she is not far from more, and that a ram had better not
be presumed solitary until his individual habit has been so proved.
You are not likely to find ewes and rams together till the rutting
season,[14] in December. I have read in some book, or books, that
the lambs are dropped in March, but I think this is a somewhat early
date, or, rather, that many come in April, and that it is scarcely
correct to limit their season to the single month. The lambs, from
the time of their birth on into the late fall, follow their careful
mothers--receive, in fact, a half-year’s bringing up. And I had, one
day in September, 1896, the singular good fortune to watch a mamma with
her child for a period even longer than my observation of the ram at

The Tetons lie just south of the Yellowstone Park, and directly
upon the borders of Wyoming and Idaho. Any recent map might seem to
prove this geography inaccurate, because, as I understand it, a late
extension of the timber reservation reaches below these mountains,
and most wisely includes both them and Jackson’s Lake with the whole
piece of country eastward to the Continental Divide. Of all places in
the Rocky Mountains that I know, it is the most beautiful; and, as it
lies too high for man to build and prosper in, its trees and waters
should be kept from man’s irresponsible destruction; those forests feed
the great river system of the Columbia and Snake. But I have been a
poacher, according to the recent map. In 1896, however, the line was
north of me by a few miles; and the day before I saw the ewe and the
lamb, I had shot a ewe. It is, I believe, considered unsportsmanlike
to do this; I have never seen the sportsman yet, though, who would not
cheerfully bring home a ewe to an empty larder. Our larder was empty,
even of fish, which had been plentiful until we had climbed up here
among the Tetons, where the brooks ran too small for fish.

My object this second day was to find, if I could, a ram; and it proved
one of those occasions (sadly rare in my experience) when, being
disappointed of one’s wish, something actually better descends from the
gods, bringing consolation. It was a climb less severe than those of
which I have already written, for our camp among the Tetons was close
to the fourth story; less, I should suppose, than a thousand feet above
our tent, the mountain grew bare of trees. Upward from this, it was not
a long walk to snow.

When first I saw the mother and child, I already had them at a great
disadvantage; they were, to be sure, where I had not expected them
to be, but I was where they had not expected me to be; and thus I
became aware of them a long distance below me, actually coming up to
me by the trail I had come myself. Trail, you must understand, does
not here mean a path beaten by men, or even by game, but simply the
pleasantest way of getting up this part of the mountain. The mother had
been taking her child upon a visit to the third story, had been away
down among the pine woods and open places, where brooks ran and grass
grew with several sorts of flowers and ripe berries; and now she was
returning to the heights of her own especial world. Alas for my camera!
it was irretrievably in camp. I laid my useless rifle down, for from
me neither of these lives should receive any hurt; and with the next
best thing to a camera--my field-glasses--I got ready for a survey
of this family as prolonged and thorough as they should allow. But
field-glasses are a poor second best in such a case; a few pictures of
this lady and her offspring “at home” would have told you more than my
words have any hope of conveying.

I never saw people in less haste. From beginning to end they treated
the whole mountain as you would treat your library (dining room were,
perhaps, nearer the mark) upon an idle morning between regular meals.
No well-to-do matron, with her day’s housekeeping finished, could have
looked out of the window more serenely than this ewe surveyed her
neighborhood. The two had now arrived at what, in their opinion, was a
suitable place for stopping. “Their” opinion is not correct; it was, I
soon unmistakably made out, the mamma who--far more than the average
American mother as American mothers go now--decided what was good and
proper for her child. This lamb was being brought up as strictly as if
it were English. They had just completed a somewhat long and unrelieved
ascent,--so I had, at any rate, previously found it. This upper region
of the mountain rose above the tree belt in three well-marked terraces
which were rimmed by walls of rock extremely symmetrical. Each terrace
made a platform fairly level and fairly wide, upon which one was glad
to linger for a while before ascending the slant to the next terrace
wall. I was seated at the edge of the top terrace, a floor of stones
and grass and very thick little spruce and juniper bushes; the mamma
had just attained the terrace next below me, and up the wall after
her had climbed and scrambled the little lamb with (I was diverted to
notice) almost as much difficulty as I had found at that spot myself.
The mamma knew a good deal more about climbing than the lamb and I

[Illustration: THE SADDLEBACK SHEEP--(_Ovis fannini_)]

There this couple stood in full view some few hundred feet--about three
hundred, I should think--below me; and here sat I at my ease, like a
person looking over a comfortable balcony, observing them through my
glass. There was a certain mirth in the thought how different would
have been the mamma’s deportment had she become aware that herself,
her child, and her privacy were all in the presence of a party who was
taking notes. But she, throughout, never became aware of this, and I
sat the witness of a domestic hour full of discipline, encouragement,
and instruction. The glasses brought them to a nearness not unlike
peeping through the keyhole; I could see the color of their eyes. The
lady’s expression could easily have passed for critical. After throwing
a glance round the terrace, her action to the lamb was fairly similar
to remarking, “Yes, there are no improper persons here; you may play
about if you wish.”

Some such thing happened between them, for, after waiting for the
scrambling lamb to come up with her on the level and stand beside
her, she appeared to dismiss it from her thoughts. She moved over the
terrace, grazing a little, walking a little, stopping, enjoying the
fine day, while her good child amused itself by itself. I feared but
one thing,--that the wind might take to blowing capriciously, and give
their noses warning that a heathen stranger was in the neighborhood.
But the happy wind flowed gentle and changeless along the heights of
the mountains. I have not more enjoyed anything in the open air than
that sitting on the terrace watching those creatures whose innocent
blood my hands were not going to shed.

After a proper period of relaxation, the mother judged it time to go
on. There was nothing haphazard in her action; of that I am convinced.
How she did it, how she intimated to the lamb that they couldn’t stop
here any longer, I don’t pretend to know. I do, however, know that it
was no mere wandering upward herself, confident the lamb would follow;
because presently (as I shall describe) she quite definitely made the
lamb stay behind. She now began mounting the hill right toward me, not
fast but steadily, waiting now and then, precisely as other parents
wait, for her toddling child to come up with her. Here and there were
bushes of some close stiff leaf, that she walked through easily, but
which were too many for the toddling child. The lamb would sometimes
get into the middle of one of these and find itself unable to push
through; after one or two little efforts, it would back out and go
round some other way, and then I would see it making haste to where its
mother stood waiting. Upon one of these occasions the mother received
it with a manner that seemed almost to say: “Good gracious, at your age
I found no trouble with a thing of that kind!” They drew, by degrees,
so near me that I put away my glasses. There was a time when they were
not fifty feet below me and I could hear their little steps; and once
the ewe sneezed in the most natural manner. While I was wondering what
on earth they would do when they found themselves stepping upon the
terrace into my lap, the ewe saw a way she liked better. Had she gone
to my left as I watched her, and so reached my level, the wind would
have infallibly betrayed me; but she turned the other way and went
along beneath the terrace wall to a patch of the bushes high enough to
make severe work for the lamb. While she was doing this, I hastened
to a new position. Where I had been sitting she was bound to see me
as soon as she climbed twenty feet higher, and I accordingly sought a
propitious cover, and found it in a clump of evergreens. She got to the
wall where she could make one leap of it. It was done in a flash, and
resembled nothing that any well-to-do matron could perform; but once at
the top, she was again the complete matron. She scanned the new ground
critically and with apparent satisfaction at first. I stole the glasses
to my eyes and saw her closed lips wearing quite the bland expression
of a lady’s that I know when she has entered a room to make a call, and
finds the wall-paper and furniture reflect, on the whole, favorably
upon the lady of the house. Meanwhile, the poor little lamb was vainly
springing at the wall; the jump was too high for it. Its front hoofs
just grazed the edge, and back it would tumble to try again. Finally it
bleated; but the mother deemed this not a moment for indulgence. She
gave not the slightest attention to the cry for assistance. There was
nothing dangerous about the place, no unreasonable hardship in getting
the best of the wall; and by her own processes, whether you term them
thought or instinct, she left her child to meet one of the natural
difficulties of life, and so gain self-reliance.

Do you think this fanciful? That is because you have not sufficiently
thought about such things. The mamma did undoubtedly not use the words
“self-reliance” or “natural difficulties of life”; but if she had not
her sheep equivalent for what these words import, her species would
a long while ago have perished off the earth. The mountain sheep is
a master at the art of self-preservation; its eye is tenfold keener
than man’s, because it has to be, and so is its foot ten or twenty
fold more agile; every sense is developed to an extreme alertness. It
measures foothold more justly than we do, because it has had to flee
from dangers that do not beset us. That the maternal instinct (which
these mothers retain until their young can shift for themselves)
should fail in a matter so immediate as the needs of its young to
understand rock climbing, is a notion more unreasonable than that it
should be constantly attentive to this point. But--better than any talk
of mine--the next step taken by the ewe will show how much she was
climbing this mountain with an eye to her offspring.

The lamb had bleated and brought no sign from her. She continued
standing, or moving a few feet onward in my direction. This means
that she was coming up a quite gentle slant, and that thirty yards
more would land her at my evergreen bush. She came nearer than thirty
yards and abruptly stopped. She had suddenly not liked the looks of
my evergreen. Behind her on one side, the last steep ascent of the
mountain rose barer and barer of all growth to its stony, invisible
summit which a curve of the final ridge hid from view. Behind her,
down the quiet slant of the terrace, was the wall where she had left
the lamb. She now backed a few stiff steps, keeping her eye upon the
evergreen. Her uncertainty about it, and the ladylike reserve of her
shut lips, caused me to choke with laughter. To catch a wild animal
going through a (what we call) entirely human proceeding has always
been to me a delightful experience; and from now to the end this
sheep’s course was as human as possible. I had been so engaged with
watching her during the last few minutes that I had forgotten the
lamb. The lamb had somehow got up the wall and was approaching. Its
mamma now turned and moderately hastened down the slope to it. What
was said between them I don’t know; but the child came no farther in
my suspicious direction; it stayed behind among some little bushes,
and the mother returned to scrutinize my hiding-place. She looked
straight at me, straight into my eyes it seemed, and her curiosity and
indecision again choked me with laughter. She came even nearer than she
had come before. How much of me she saw I cannot tell, but probably my
hair and forehead; she at any rate concluded that this was no suitable
place. She turned as I have seen ladies turn from a smoking-car, and
with no haste sought her child again. How she managed their next move
passes my comprehension; I imagined that every foot of the mountain
ascent near me was in my full view. But it was not. Quite unexpectedly
I now became aware of the two, trotting over the shoulder of the ridge
above me, with already two or three times the distance between us that
had been just now. If I had wished to follow them, it would have been
useless, and I had seen enough. When I was ready, I made for the summit
myself. The side which I had so far come up was the south side, and
a little further climbing took me over the narrow shoulder to the
north, where I was soon walking in long patches of snow. Across these
in front of me went the tracks of the mamma and her lamb, the sage and
gentle guide with the little novice who was learning the mountains and
their dangers; across these patches I followed them for several miles,
because my way happened to be theirs. No doubt they saw me sometimes;
but I never saw them again. I hope no harm ever came to them; for I
like to think of these two, these members of an innocent and charming
race that we are making away with, as remaining unvexed by our noise
and destruction, remaining serene in the freedom that lives among their
pinnacles of solitude.



The bighorn of the American continent, inclusive of its local
races (frequently regarded as distinct species), is a large sheep,
distinguished from the Asiatic argalis, among other features, by the
comparative smoothness of the horns, in which the outer front angle is
prominent, and the inner one rounded off, and also by the smaller size
of the face glands. There is a well-marked whitish patch on the rump,
but the amount of white on the under parts and legs shows considerable
local variation. In the typical Rocky Mountain race (_O. canadensis
typica_) the ears are long and pointed, with short hair, and the horns,
which are very heavy, diverge but little outwards, and generally have
the tips broken. The Californian _O. canadensis nelsoni_ is a paler
southern race. On the other hand, in _O. canadensis stonei_ of the
northwest territories the color of the back is very dark, and the white
on the belly and legs sharply defined. And both in this race and the
light-colored _O. canadensis dalli_ of Alaska the horns are lighter,
more divergent, and sharper pointed, while the ears tend to become
shorter, blunter, and more hairy. Height at shoulder about 3 feet 2
inches; weight about 350 pounds.

The horns of the ewes are very small in comparison to those of the
rams, seldom measuring more than 15 inches on the curve from base to
tip. Large male horns are now difficult to obtain, and of late years
it is seldom that those of fresh-killed specimens are seen exceeding
38 inches on the curve from tip to tip. American sportsmen are keen
to obtain horns of large basal girth; but these, as will be seen from
the following table, rarely exceed 16 inches. The Maclaine of Lochbuie
possesses a specimen whose girth, according to his own measurement, is
19 inches.

_Distribution._--North America, from the Rocky Mountains southward to
Sonora, northern Mexico, and California, and northward to Alaska and
the shores of Bering Sea. The Alaskan race, for at least some portion
of the year, is snow-white.

                         MEASUREMENTS OF HORNS

   LENGTH |CIRCUM-|          |                 |
   CURVE  |       |          |                 |
  --52½   |  18½  |    ..    |The Selkirks,    |W. F. Sheard
          |       |          |  B.C., 1885     |
          |       |          |                 |
  --45    |  ..   |    ..    |        ?        |W. Grant Mackay
          |       |          |                 |
  --42½   |  16¼  |    25¾   |Lower California |George H. Gould
          |       |          |                 |
    42    |  16   |(tips much|Wyoming          |Picked up by
          |       |   worn)  |                 |  T. W. H. Clarke
          |       |          |                 |
    ..    |  17¼  |    ..    |Wyoming          |T. W. H. Clarke
          |       |          |                 |
  --41½   |  15   |    ..    |Kootenay, B.C.   |Measured by John Fannin,
          |       |          |                 |  Provincial Museum, B.C.
          |       |          |                 |
  --40¾   |  16½  |    ..    |Yellowstone      |British Museum
          |       |          |                 |
    40¼   |  15¼  |    20¼   |        ?        |Sir Edmund G. Loder, Bart.
          |       |          |                 |
  --40    |  15¼  |    ..    |Rocky Mountains  |Otho Shaw
          |       |          |                 |
    40    |  15   |    21½   |British Columbia |J. W. R. Young
          |       |          |                 |
    39⅝   |  15⅜  |    ..    |Colorado         |St. George Littledale
          |       |          |                 |
    39½   |  16½  |    24¾   |Montana          |British Museum
          |       |          |                 |
    39½   |  15½  |    19    |        ?        |Sir Edmund G. Loder, Bart.
          |       |          |                 |
  --39    |  15¾  |    ..    |        ?        |W. A. Baillie-Grohman
          |       |          |                 |
    38⅜   |  15½  |    22    |        ?        |Gerald Buxton
          |       |          |                 |
    38¼   |  16⅜  |    ..    |Bighorn          |H. Seton-Karr
          |       |          |  Mountains      |
          |       |          |                 |
    38¼   |  15¼  |    19¼   |Montana          |Edmund Littledale
          |       |          |                 |
    38¼   |  16   |    19    |N.W. Territories |S. Ratcliff
          |       |          |                 |
    38    |  17   |    ..    |Alberta, N.W.T.  |Arnold Pike
          |       |          |                 |
    38    |  15   |    ..    |British Columbia |Captain F. Cookson
          |       |          |                 |
  --38    |  16½  |    ..    |British Columbia |Major C. C. Ellis
          |       |          |                 |
    37¾   |  15⅞  |    23⅜   |Mexico           |J. A. H. Drought
          |       |          |                 |
  --37¾   |  16¼  |    22½   |British Columbia |J. O. Shields
          |       |          |                 |
    37¼   |  15½  |    16    |British Columbia |J. Turner-Turner
          |       |          |                 |
  --37    |  16   |    31    |Wyoming          |T. W. H. Clarke
          |       |          |                 |
    37    |  16¼  |    ..    |Montana          |Major Maitland Kirwan
          |       |          |                 |
    37    |  16⅝  |    16    |British Columbia |R. H. Venables Kyrke
          |       |          |                 |
    37    |  15½  |    18½   |Wyoming          | Lord Rodney
          |       |          |                 |
    36¾   |  19   |    15    |British Columbia |C. H. Kennard
          |       |          |                 |
    36¾   |  15¼  |    22½   |Wyoming          |Moreton Frewen
          |       |          |                 |
    36½   |  14½  |    ..    |Wyoming          |Gerald Buxton
          |       |          |                 |
    36½   |  16   |    ..    |        ?        |Thomas Bate
          |       |          |                 |
    36½   |  14   |    ..    |        ?        |J. D. Cobbold
          |       |          |                 |
    36¼   |  14⅜  |    18½   |        ?        |Gerald Buxton
          |       |          |                 |
    36    |  14¾  |    16½   |Montana          |R. H. Sawyer
          |       |          |                 |
    36    |  15½  |    ..    |Alberta, N.W.T.  |Arnold Pike
          |       |          |                 |
    36    |  14¾  |    16    |Wyoming          |Capt. G. Dalrymple White
          |       |          |                 |
  --35⅞   |  14¾  |    17½   |Wyoming          |Count E. Hoyos
          |       |          |                 |
    35¾   |  15¼  |    18½   |British Columbia |G. Wrey
          |       |          |                 |
    35¾   |  13¾  |    17½   |British Columbia |Hon. S. Tollemache
          |       |          |                 |
    35½   |  16   |    21    |British Columbia |T. P. Kempson
          |       |          |                 |
    35¼   |  12¼  |    16    |California       |Sir Victor Brooke’s Coll.
          |       |          |                 |
    35¼   |  15¼  |    18½   |British Columbia |Sir Peter Walker, Bart.
          |       |          |                 |
    35    |  14   |    18½   |British Columbia |Admiral Sir Michael
          |       |          |                 |  Culme-Seymour, Bart.
          |       |          |                 |
  --35    |  15   |    19¾   |Wyoming          |Count Schiebler
          |       |          |                 |
    35    |  14   |    16    |Wyoming          |Gerald Hardy
          |       |          |                 |
    34½   |  14¾  |    19    |S.E. Montana     |J. A. Jameson
          |       |          |                 |
    34½   |  14½  |    ..    |California       |G. P. Fitzgerald
          |       |          |                 |
  --34    |  16   |    17    |N.W. Wyoming     |A. Rogers
          |       |          |                 |
    34    |  16¼  |    20    |British Columbia |Barclay Bonthron
          |       |          |  Border         |
          |       |          |                 |
    33½   |  15¼  |    ..    |British Columbia |Admiral Sir Michael
          |       |          |                 |  Culme-Seymour, Bart.
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  15⅜  |    18    |British Columbia |Capt. E. G. Verschoyle
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  14¾  |    24½   |Wyoming          |Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. Coke
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  14½  |    22    |        ?        |F. H. B. Ellis
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  14   |    23    |British Columbia |T. P. Kempson
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  15½  |    22    |British Columbia |A. E. Butter
          |       |          |                 |
    32¾   |  15½  |    17½   |        ?        |C. G. R. Lee
          |       |          |                 |
  --32½   |  14⅝  |    19½   |Fraser River,    |A. E. Leatham
          |       |          |  B.C.           |
          |       |          |                 |
    32½   |  15   |    17½   |Lower California |G. Barnardiston

    32    |  15¼  |    19½   |British Columbia |J. W. Wood, Jr.
          |       |          |                 |
    32    |  14¾  |    17¼   |Yellowstone      |British Museum
          |       |          |  River          |
          |       |          |                 |
    31½   |  14½  |    17½   |N.W. Territory   |Maj. Algernon Heber-Percy
          |       |          |                 |
    31    |  17½  |    ..    |Grand Encampment,|Frank Cooper
          |       |          |  Wyo.           |
          |       |          |                 |
  --31    |  13   |    22    |British Columbia |T. E. Buckley
          |       |          |                 |
    30¾   |  15   |    23    |       ?         |Hon. Walter Rothschild
          |       |          |                 |
    30½   |  15¾  |   about  |Lower California |Ely Quilter
          |       |    17½   |                 |
          |       |          |                 |
    30½   |  15½  |    18    |Wyoming          |J. L. Scarlett
          |       |          |                 |
  --30½   |  14   |    15½   |Wyoming          |Hugh Peel
          |       |          |                 |
    30    |  15¼  |    14    |Alberta, N.W.T.  |F. C. Williamson

              ALASKAN BIGHORN (_Ovis canadensis dalli_)

    34    |  12⅝  |    18⅛   |Alaska           |Rowland Ward
          |       |          |                 |
    33    |  12¾  |    15    |Alaska           |Hon. Walter Rothschild
          |       |          |                 |
    32½   |  13¼  |    20½   |Alaska           |J. T. Studley,
          |       |          |                 |British Museum
          |       |          |                 |
     ♀9⅛   |   4⅞  |     8    |Alaska           |British Museum



[Illustration: ABOVE TIMBER LINE]

Should you wish with your own eyes to look upon this odd and
much-debated creature, it is (to name some of his territories) in the
Saw Tooth Range in Idaho, and among the peaks northward from Lake
Chelan, the Okanogan and Methow rivers, all three in Washington, and
also upon many mountains near the coast in British Columbia that, if
you climb high and hard enough, you are almost sure to find him; and
you would be perfectly certain to find him in the Zoölogical Gardens at
Philadelphia to-day April twenty, 1903. But it may be that by the time
you shall read this the summer heat of Philadelphia will have ended his
existence there; and this is the only place in our country (or in any
country at present writing) where he is in captivity. Of his natural
habitat and the interesting questions that it raises, I shall presently
speak; let me at once dismiss the question of his species, now finally
known as _Oreamnus montanus_.

He is not a goat at all. We have fallen to speaking of him so in
English because for a good number of years it has been the name he
has gone by where he lives; but he is an antelope, and his nearest
relative is the chamois, whose quite peculiar way of walking his own
gait closely resembles. The chamois I have never hunted, but have
often watched the singular hunching and truculent movement of the
goat, as with head lowered (you might suppose for a charge) he slowly
and heavily proceeds along his chosen vertiginous paths of rock and
snow. He is a mountain antelope; and his various Latin names, and the
confusion, both popular and scientific, of which he was the subject
through most of the nineteenth century, are curious and interesting
matters. He was doubtless in zoölogic truth an emigrant, having walked
from frozen Asia to frozen America across that great old Aleutian
Isthmus between two frozen oceans, adjacent seas unmerged as yet by
Behring Strait. With other newcomers he replaced the original dwellers
of the soil, the American rhinoceros and any number more of old
inhabitants with whom the climate had ceased to agree. After landing
upon our continent away up in the north the goat and sheep spread
themselves widely; but the goat not half nor a quarter so widely as the
sheep. The more we compare these similar creatures, the more singular
seem their contrasts.

If they were fellow-travellers and twin arrivals, if they did come over
the Aleutian bridge together, it is either because there was only one
bridge and both had to use it, or else they fell out on the way, and
reached here not on speaking terms. The first hypothesis is the one
to which I incline: they had to use the same trail because there was
only one. Sheep and goat do not seem to me to live on good terms. I
should not venture this observation were it based upon my individual
experience alone. What my campings have gradually led me to notice
is this: you don’t find sheep and goat on the same hill as you find
elk and deer in the same wood. Considering that both animals like
steep places, like rocks, like very high rocks; and also that their
respective habitats coincide in certain regions,--in British Columbia,
for instance, and in Washington, and, I think one might fairly add, in
Idaho,--I dare by no means make the sweeping assertion that sheep and
goat have never been found, or are never to be found, frequenting the
same pasture; I don’t know this, and all of us do know that negatives
are difficult of proof. But I have camped high in Washington, with
goats in profusion all around, and the whole country looking precisely
like a sheep country, yet never the sign of a sheep anywhere to be
seen. People said, “Plenty of sheep over there,” and they would point
to some clearly visible heights. And next, people came from not thirty
miles away, having seen and killed sheep. It was the same latitude,
the same altitude, the same season, the same everything. What is to be
drawn from this? That it was an accidental year, and just happened so
for the few weeks that I was there? This is the conclusion that you
might draw, as I then did; and you would be wrong, as I then was. For
I returned there six years later, and it was still the case, and had
been the case meanwhile, saving only that goats and sheep and all wild
animals, wherever their chosen abode was, had been growing scarcer
and shyer, and were approaching that extinction which we deal to all
helpless things that do not minister to our own comfort and survival.
During those intervening years I had hunted sheep in a country which
for all the world looked as if a goat might come round the corner at
any moment. But no goat ever did; and yet, had I ridden down those
mountains, and over a space of plains to the westward, and up the very
first mountains I should then have met, there would then have been all
the goat I wanted, and not (I have been told) a single sheep!

Thinking these things over, I began to wonder if some particular kind
of food (since climate it could absolutely not be) was the cause of
this flocking apart. Was there, perchance, some little herb which
a goat must have and a sheep didn’t like? Well, if that be so, no
botanist has so far told me its name; while on the other hand, very
recently, I have had news of a sportsman who was hunting in some
mountains of British Columbia where sheep and goat were both readily
to be found, and whose experience was like mine, only more marked and
significant. He had stood upon one mountain where there were goat, and
looked across to an adjacent one where he could plainly see sheep. Now
on his mountain there was not a single sheep; he must go to the other
for them; but over there he must expect no goat. He found this so, and
he was assured that it was always so: the animals did not seem to
trespass upon each other’s premises.

These few facts that I have here gathered seem to me worthy of
recording, and perhaps enough to warrant a presumption; but
insufficient for an assertion. Until others shall have on their part
added similar observations, I would lay down no rule that a chronic
hostility separates _Ovis_ and _Oreamnus_. Perhaps such a rule has been
laid down, but if it be printed anywhere, I have not met it; nor have
I had the fortune (after consulting the books) to meet any accounts of
goat which essentially add to what has been said already by Audubon;
and that is somewhat meagre. Many pictures there are, much better than
his old-fashioned plates, but further solid information is uncommonly
scarce. Even the latest and most official authorities, when you test
their pages by an intimate searching for a piece of comprehensive and
definite information, do not give you that information.

If my surmise be true, and sheep and goat are apt to be upon strained
relations, I think we may be certain which of the two has regulated the
affair. I will hazard the guess that in single combat the goat could
ruin the sheep before the sheep was fully aware of what had befallen
him. Hunters can picture such an encounter, which probably would be
brief if grand. The gallant old sheep would stand, aim, bound to the
attack and leap in the air, expecting to dash his forehead and curling
horns against the face and horns of the goat. But the goat--ah! that’s
not the goat’s way. It would have happened so quickly as not to be
made out; but there the poor ram would lie, ripped open. The goat does
nothing so picturesque and unpractical as jumping in the air. He lowers
his sullen head, one shrewd thrust and jerk-back with his deadly sharp
horns, and the business is despatched. And the goat looks it, too. His
appearance suggests immediately that you had better look out for him
if you happen to be a ram with beautiful useless horns--useless, that
is, against any such apparatus as the goat carries. One day I stood
watching a good specimen billy-_Oreamnus_. The nanny, less conspicuous,
lay in the shade on some flat ground, asleep. But the billy sat hunched
on the peak of a built-up pyramid of rocks. It was in the Zoölogical
Gardens at Philadelphia where this pair, taken into captivity in
1901, have grown and thrived, but have not bred. The billy shows his
formidable nature; no strangers can go near him; he would disembowel
them in a jiffy; even his keeper has to be wary. At the top of his pile
of rocks sat the captive, hunched, as I have said, and truculent and
lowering, in spite of his stillness. His eye had that gaze which so
wonderfully remains with wild animals who are prisoned from the great
free natural spaces that belong to them, whose birthright is a liberty
of no sparrow-and-robin size, but a colossal liberty, the range of
the primal world, where fences and statutes are not. Our delightfully
conventional intelligence is familiar with this look in the eyes of the
lion and the eagle because the poets have called our attention to it,
have said pretty things about it; but if you have the unusual gift of
making your own observations, you will find it in many other animals,
including certain types of man. As for this goat, no goat sitting on
a rock at Harlem could stare like him; he might have been sitting on
the top of the Cascade Mountains, surveying huge gulfs, and (possibly)
meditating how improving it would be to disembowel a ram.

As I watched him, an odd thought revisited me: how Asiatic he looked,
for some obscure reason! I remembered thinking this same thing when I
had shot my first goat eleven years before. Asiatic? Yes; and I cannot
at all explain why, unless it be that one has seen pictures of animals
which hail from somewhere like Tibet, and which bear some resemblance
to the _Oreamnus_. I know that no other of our Western big game strike
me in this way; buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, sheep,--all these have
always seemed to me to look indigenous, to belong to our North American
soil. But this goat is a figure that it surprises me to meet among the
haunts of my own language; his idiom should be Mongolian!

He’s white, all white, and shaggy, and twice as large as any goat
you ever saw. His white hair hangs long all over him, like a Spitz
dog’s or an Angora cat’s; but it is stiff and coarse, not silky, and
against its shaggy white mass the blackness of his hoofs, and horns,
and nose, looks particularly black. His legs are thick, his neck is
thick, everything about him is thick, saving only his thin black horns.
They’re generally about six inches long, they spread very slightly, and
they curve slightly backward. At their base they are a little rough,
but as they rise they cylindrically smooth and taper to an ugly point.
His hoofs are heavy, broad, and blunt. The track they make is huge,
and precisely the reverse of the sheep’s; it is a capital V, pointing
backward. The sheep’s track is a V also, but pointing forward. By his
clumsy-looking hoofs, and his thick-set and apparently unwieldy legs,
it would seem as though this goat had best keep his level, as though he
might seldom go up two steps of even a porch without accident; a set
of legs and hoofs could scarce be instanced of seemingly less avail
for a mountaineer. So, at least, I should argue, recalling the various
sharp apparatus which we need ourselves. One does not see how these
heavy animals can leap and cling. But let me transcribe uncorrected
some sentences from my hunting journal of November, 1892, pencilled in
flippant spirit after a day’s pursuit of the goat.

“They … chose places to lie down where falling off was the easiest
thing you could do.… The individual tracks we have passed always choose
the inclined plane where they have a choice between that and the
level.… I suppose these animals sometimes must fall, though they have a
projecting heel of horn to their hoof which is wonderfully adapted to
their vertical habits. But if they do fall, it probably amuses them.
Their hair is more impenetrably thick than any hair I have seen, and
beneath this is the hide thicker than buffalo. If they play games
together, it is probably to push each other over a precipice, and the
goat that takes longest to walk up again loses the game.”

You can see from these lines what a tide of resentment flows between
them. I remember that hard but successful day very well; and it
furnished some facts about size and weight and so on, which were all
recorded on the spot, and which give some good details well to know.

To begin with, there is that “projecting heel of horn” to the goat’s
hoof. We cannot imagine how he manages to make such a slight thing (not
over a quarter of an inch) catch his weight. He weighs anywhere from
one hundred and eighty to three hundred pounds. I had no means that
day on top of the Cascade Mountains to ascertain how much the male I
had killed might weigh, but he was very much of a load for two of us
to move. His hide (not the hair but the leather) on his rump was as
thick as the sole of my boot. My boot was made for climbing mountains,
and the sole was filled with hobnails; the hide was as thick as such
a sole, and when balanced against things in camp whose weight we
knew,--such as flour and sugar bags,--it alone weighed thirty pounds!
We carried home, beside the head and hide, the web-tallow, and this was
three-quarters of an inch thick. Hunters will know what ample supply
this means in animals much larger than the goat. This specimen was,
my most companionable guide told me, of good but not supreme size. We
carried home none of the meat. The flesh of the grown-up goat cannot
be eaten with much pleasure; but later, for the sake of a complete set
of specimens, I shot a kid; and the flesh of this we ate with entire
satisfaction for our Thanksgiving dinner. And this brings me to the
next point.

“These wild goat,” says my journal, “are twice the size and more of the
ordinary goat, and if their hides kept clean and snow-white as they
naturally are, they would be a splendid-looking animal.”

This was written two weeks before I was able to examine one that
was in very truth snow-white; and lately, while looking through the
books to find what they have to say that may fill out my imperfect
knowledge, I have come more than once on the statement that the goat
is not pure white, but has a tinge of yellow, or some shade, here
and there, that dulls his total sheen. This I conceive to be error.
Age, it is possible, may bring a few dark hairs to the white goat. But
I should wish to be very sure about this before I asserted it. The
sum of my experience is, that first I killed some plainly old male
goats (they were off by themselves, no longer with the herd), and of
these the coats were dingy; that presently I found a plainly younger
male goat (he was lighter in weight and his horns and hoofs showed
less wear), and his coat was spotless; and that finally I found the
coat of a kid born that same year to be equally spotless. What is the
inference--almost the conclusion? Is it not that in the older goats
the color was discoloration, from causes external; that by nature the
goat is perfectly white; and that the books have gone on reproducing an
original mistake which grew from some writer’s having seen only goats
that were weather-stained? Oh, the reproduction of error! The way one
man’s inaccurate statement is blandly copied down by the next man, and
verification shirked at every turn! Why will they do it, these little
scientific folk? For the great ones never do. The great ones verify,
or else, when they come to a hole in their knowledge, they frankly
tell you that they don’t know. They paste no piece of paper over the
hole, pretending it’s all solid underneath. But the small fry--the
popular magazine size,--these unceasingly are pasting paper. And why?
Because they’re not afraid of being found out. They know how few of
their readers can discover the holes and poke their fingers through the
paper. Don’t you believe me, reader? Does your kind heart repudiate
with heat this aspersion? Perhaps--for instance--you’re not aware
how some little writers go on deriving the name of a well-known St.
Lawrence fish from two French words, _masque allongée_. I would tell
you about it, only I did not discover their ludicrous blunder myself;
but here’s a hole where I happened to poke my own finger through the
paper. During ten years I used every official map of Wyoming that I
could procure. First it was a territory, and next a state, but all
the while the map-makers continued to draw Pacific Creek as flowing
into Buffalo Fork. Now Pacific Creek is a thoroughfare between the two
sides of the Continental Divide, and it does not flow into Buffalo
Fork, but into Snake River. It was a really bad geographical mistake.
Some original map-maker had traced his map on hearsay or guesswork,
hadn’t gone down the creek to see for himself, and all his successors
faithfully reproduced his ignorance. The people who knew better were
merely Indians, prospectors, cowboys, or stray hunters like myself. We
didn’t count; _that_ wasn’t being found out!

Pacific Creek being wrong to a certainty, how then about Atlantic
Creek, and Thoroughfare, and a good many more? Did these, also, flow
one way officially, and actually another? How could I be sure until I
had crossed mountains and found them for myself? And how should you,
reader, enjoy being condemned to such maps in a country where Indians,
and bears, and blizzards prevailed? You will scarce wonder that I grew
to place upon those maps the same chastened reliance that I place
to-day upon books which tell me that the goat is not strictly white,
or that he lives in the Rocky Mountains. You might search a good many
hundred miles of Rocky Mountains that have never seen a goat, but which
the sheep has frequented since before the memory of man. Here again
comes the contrast between the two: having come the same road from
Kamchatka, their ranges upon this continent but partially coincide, and
even where both animals are established and flourishing in the same
zone, their localities within that zone are so capriciously separated
as to baffle even the explanation that one drives the other out.

It would seem that they can stand equal cold; both are to be found in
Alaska, as might be expected from the manner of their emigration. And
beginning with Alaska (one authority, R. Lydekker, “The Royal Natural
History,” London, 1898, the best authority I have found for coherence
and completeness, names latitude 64° as the northern limit), we find
goat and sheep alike plentifully distributed as we come south. But
only for a certain distance. If the Northwest be plain like a picture
in your mind’s eye, you can recall how in the far North the Cascades
and Rockies are intermingled, and how, as we come down through British
Columbia to our own soil, they gradually separate, slope apart, so
that by the time they reach the latitude of Portland, Oregon, a wide,
flat domain lies between them. Both have slanted inland; but while
the Cascades are only some hundred and sixty miles from the Pacific
coast, the Rockies are away over in Idaho and Montana, and continue
to diverge until they sink among the hot sands of the mesquite and the
yucca. Now, in Arizona, in the Colorado Cañon for instance, we still
find the sheep, and can find him yet farther down in northwest Mexico.
But no goat is so far south. The goat stops more than a thousand miles
to the north. It seems clear, then, that goat and sheep will inhabit
equal cold, but not equal heat.

Where, exactly, does the goat stop? That is something which no book
(that I have seen) will tell you. The London book, which I have quoted
already, names latitude 40° as the southern limit of his habitat.
This is considerably farther south than I have ever heard of him.
My knowledge of him goes no farther south than the Saw Tooth Range,
which is in Idaho. These sharp ridges nourish the head waters of the
Salmon River, and are in the southern-central part of the state. And
I am inclined to say, in spite of Mr. Lydekker, but supported by Mr.
Arthur Brown, that the Saw Tooth and Salmon River country in Idaho is
about the southeastern corner of the goat’s province. Saving stray
and accidental individuals, you are not likely to find him beyond
that point, south or east. I have never talked with any hunter who
had seen him in Wyoming, although (and here again I will re-enforce
my own experience with Mr. Brown’s) there seems to be a sort of goat
tradition in Wyoming, here and there. This myth is, to be sure, highly
sublimated. You don’t hear that goat used to be upon this or that
definite mountain, or that So-and-So saw a man who saw a goat, or whose
wife or uncle saw one; it never comes as near you as that; yet still
faintly in the air of the Continental Divide there hovers this vague
rumor of the animal.

If he was ever in Wyoming as a domiciled resident, who shall say why
he departed? Why is he not to-day upon the Washakie Needle, or in the
abrupt country where heads Green River, or among the formidable Tetons,
since to-day he is but a little farther west of the Tetons, in the Saw
Tooth Range? And why, if man (or sheep) drove him from these Wyoming
peaks, has he not been driven from the peaks of Idaho? Difference in
neither heat, nor cold, nor humidity, nor accessibility, can be the
explanation, for there is no difference; and as for difference in food,
I find no suggestion of it in the pages of the authorities.

“What they eat in winter is a mystery. But it must be the little knobs
of moss that grow at the edges of the steep rocks on top, where the
snow cannot lie. They never come down into the valleys, as the mountain
sheep do when the snow grows deep up above.”

This is no authority, but merely my camp notebook again; and the
statement that the goat is never, like the sheep, driven to low
pastures by the snow is but the popular account of him that I was able
to gather from the inhabitants--the prospectors, the trappers--of the
mountains where I hunted him. Yet it is interesting; and if generally
true, it may furnish some clue to the capricious local separations
between sheep and goat in the zone of their common habitat. But if the
goat cannot, when the weather would drive him down, subsist upon the
less lofty growths that then satisfy the sheep, you will remark how
truly unlike the real goat is this narrow discrimination as to diet.

It is surprising, indeed, that at this late day, when investigation and
verification are so easy, no naturalist seems anywhere to have written
a plain, complete paragraph answering the plain, natural question: In
what states and territories does the white goat live? It would seem
the naturalist’s business to tell us this. We have the right to expect
to open some single standard book, and find such facts at once. Well,
I have had to open eight, gathering here a fact and there a fact in a
manner not unlike the painful process of rag-picking. The result is far
from covering the ground; let me acknowledge this, and beg friendly
correction and amplification,--and let me say, nevertheless, that the
following is the most detailed information to be found so far set down
in any one place.

In Alaska and British Columbia we find the goat, and in northwest
Montana, and in Idaho, but only in spots; he is also in the northern
Cascades in Washington, but, oddly enough it appears, not in the
Olympic Range. Nor is he in the southern Cascades, in Oregon. Elsewhere
he is not, unless possibly in California. There is an ancient legend
of him among the higher mountains of that state; the Spanish Padre de
Salvatierra and his fellow-missionary, Padre Piccolo, are supposed
to have seen him. We must uselessly wonder if they did; and I should
have been more indebted to a foot-note in the “Biological Survey of
Mount Shasta,” which touches upon the goat’s habitat in Oregon and
Washington, were it not wholly silent as to the animal’s presence or
absence, past or present, in the state of California.

The farther we follow the story of the white goat, the more do we find
his steps attended with the mists of confusion; and for the gloomy
critic this would be a timely moment to write some sentences about the
longevity of error. But it all came out right in the end; and we will
get to the facts at once, and how I first began to meet the stream of
uncertainty of which the fountain-source lies in the old romantic pages
of Lewis and Clark.

A while ago I spoke of a goat tradition in Wyoming. Now it was not
until the fall of 1889 that I believed there was such a thing as this
goat anywhere. I thought--I could not then say why--that the unlettered
mountaineers and plainsmen, whose talk I heard, were speaking of the
sheep; and, also, they contradicted each other in a way so curious and
persistent that the animal became in a manner fabulous to me, like the
unicorn, or the wool-bearing horse. Now I would meet the assurance
that “over there somewhere,” among the mountains near the Pacific, a
snow-white goat lived, with long hair; again, I would meet a positive
denial of this. Some sceptical old trapper or prospector would proclaim
that he “guessed he had been most everywhere,” and nobody could “fool
him about no goat” with long hair. Indeed, when I at last laid my own
goat trophies, heads and hides, before the eyes of my old friend John
Yancey of the Yellowstone Park, they gave him a genuine sensation. He
had wasted small faith in any tales of goat. He stared at them, he
touched them, he lifted them, he could not get over it; they caused me
to rise in his esteem, and he refused to believe that circumventing a
mountain sheep is a far more skilful exploit. He, too, like myself,
had supposed that in some way this notion about goats could be traced
to mountain sheep, and that they were one and the same animal. I found
this error spread eastward to great cities.


In the front hall of a certain club there used to hang--and still
hangs, for all I know--the head of a white goat. I stood near it one
day in 1894 or 1895, while two gentlemen were looking at it. One had
hunted in our West, and was asked by the other what animal this was. He
replied with certainty, “A mountain sheep.” It was no business of
mine, and I did not correct him. But how inveterate and singular was
the confusion! for these two wild animals do not resemble each other
a particle more than do their domestic namesakes. In the hall of the
club that day I did not know that, ninety years before, the self-same
blunder had been made and written down for the first time, and that we
were still inheriting its consequences.

On September twenty-six, 1805, Meriwether Lewis, quite inconveniently
sick, was, with his equally inconveniently sick comrades, camped
for the purpose of building canoes. They lay at the confluence of
the north fork with the main stream of that river which Idaho now
most often calls the Clearwater, and which the Indians then called
the Kooskooskee. They had come overland a great way--two thousand
miles--walking and riding. They had lately been high among the cold
snows, and they were now abruptly plunged in the flat climate of the
plains. Heat and the copious new food made every mother’s son of them
ill. But a few days before this, and they had been sparingly serving
out rations of horse flesh to keep together soul and body; now the
Indians have given them all the salmon they can swallow, and taught
them to eat the camass, a precarious vegetable. In the language of
Doctor Coues (the admirable annotator of the 1894 edition, one can
hardly imagine a better and honester piece of work): “Having been
neither frozen nor starved quite to death--having survived camass
roots, tartar emetic, and Rush’s pills (the famous Dr. Rush of
Philadelphia,) the explorers have reached navigable Columbian waters.…”
I could quote from this splendid book forever. It is our American
Robinson Crusoe. Somebody, no doubt, will grind it into a historical
novel; but no novel, no matter how big a sale it has, can spoil the
journal of Lewis and Clark. Well, at this sick camp, while they’re
making ready to float to Astoria, enter the white goat. It is his first
recorded appearance.

Says Gass: “There appears to be a kind of sheep in this country,
besides the ibex or mountain sheep, and which have wool on. I saw some
of the skins, which the natives had, with wool four inches long, and as
fine, white, and soft as any I had ever seen.”

Here, you perceive, is the error, appearing simultaneously with the

These sheep “live,” says the text in another place, “in greater
numbers on that chain of mountains which forms the commencement of the
woody country on the coast and passes the Columbia between the falls
and rapids.” Accurate in everything save the name.

Next comes the observation (William Dunbar and Dr. Hunter) written on
the Columbia River near the Dalles: “We here saw the skin of a mountain
sheep, which they say lives among the rocks in the mountains; the skin
was covered with white hair; the wool was long, thick, and coarse, with
long, coarse hair on the top of the neck and on the back, resembling
somewhat the bristles of a goat.”

This time, you see, they are on the very edge of getting the thing
straight. But no; they recede again, after the following which seems to
promise complete clearing up:--

“A Canadian, who had been much with the Indians to the westward, speaks
of a wool-bearing animal larger than a sheep, the wool much mixed with
hair, which he had seen in large flocks.”

April ten, 1806, the party is on its return journey. It has
successfully wintered on the coast, and has now come up the Columbia
again, fifty miles above Vancouver.

“While we were at breakfast one of the Indians offered us two
sheepskins for sale; … the second was smaller … with the horns
remaining.… The horns of the animal were black, smooth, and erect; they
rise from the middle of the forehead, a little above the eyes, in a
cylindrical form, to the height of four inches, where they are pointed.”

Here there is no mistake about the mistake; he describes a goat and
calls it a sheep. Why he should do this when he had seen the bighorn
constantly during his journey up the Missouri may possibly be thus
explained: He says that he did not think the bighorn much like a sheep,
and so, perhaps, the goat did not strike him as much like a goat; we
know it happens to be an antelope. But however we account for this
original mixing of names, it is easy to perceive how good a start the
mixing got; and after reading the text of the old confusion, is it not
odd and interesting to trace it down through the years, down through
Yancey, to the front hall of the club? to find it cropping up among all
sorts and conditions of men, now in a city and now on top of the Wind
River Mountains, where it used to perplex me?

And this is only the popular side of it; the scholars have been just as
mixed as Yancey. The scientific side of the story is picturesquely seen
through the dynasty of Latin names successively lavished upon the goat.

The country at large first heard of the goat in 1806, when Thomas
Jefferson accompanied his message to Congress about Lewis and Clark’s
exploration with various documents, and among these the observations
of William Dunbar and Dr. Hunter. Nine years later the eminent George
Ord gave to the animal his first academic baptism, and he appeared as
_Ovis montana_. Pretty soon M. de Blainville seems to have called him
_Antilope americana_, and _Rupicapra americana_. By 1817 he was known
as _Mazama Sericea_--which is wandering pretty wide of the family. Four
years more, and he is plain Rocky Mountain sheep. Next follow _Capra
montana_, _Antilope lanigera_, _Capra Americana_, and _Haplocerus
montanus_. This last was beginning to look permanent, when it was
discovered that somebody had for some time been styling the goat by a
well-devised appellation, to wit, _Oreamnus montanus_. He goes by that
now; and it may be doubted if any thief has more frequently employed
an alias than this probably blameless animal. Such is the story of the
confusion begun--we can only guess why--by Lewis and Clark, and not
cleared up until our own day.

The goat is an animal far less wary than the sheep. His watch is
concentrated upon approaches from below. All the hunter has to do is
to get above him, to make at once for the summit of the ridge which he
proposes to hunt, and the unsuspecting creature will never give you
a thought. Upon my word, it is inexcusable to kill him, except for
a specimen in a collection; he is so handsome, so harmless, and so
stupid! And in his remoter haunts, where the nature of man is still a
closed book to him, he “thinketh no evil”; he will stand looking at
the hunter with a sedate interest in his large, deep brown eyes. The
tenderfoot sportsman, it seems, will generally make his beginnings as a
maniac. Suddenly confronted with a herd of wild animals, he frantically
pumps his repeating rifle, hypnotized by the glut of destruction.
Luckily, he is apt, in his excitement, to miss. His desire is for no
one special trophy, but for a hot killing of all in sight. If we are
not to blame him for this flare of blind brute instinct, for heaven’s
sake don’t let us praise the performance! The best that can possibly be
said for it is to call it the seamy side of masculinity; and the seamy
side of masculinity fits cowardice like a glove. I am speaking from the
sinner’s bench; and long back in the years (not so long materially,
but miles and miles every other way) I see one or two spots of shame.
To-day, my wish is to photograph the game, and let him go his way in

With my rifle I carried a kodak among the goats. The kodak and the
rifle made a discomfortable pair now and then. For instance:--

“_Saturday twelfth_ (November) four and one-half hours’ climb up
opposite ridge, so as to get above goat seen yesterday. Snow six
and eight inches deep on top.” This was a day that I carried both
instruments, and the rocks continually required the use of both hands.
Well, I got the goat that I wanted with my rifle. I took the kodak home
with one hundred pictures of my very long, hard, interesting journey.
It was the year that the company’s films were bad, and I drew one
hundred blanks; there was not the semblance of an image upon a single
one. The same mischance had attended the Greely expedition, and I had
not travelled as far as they did; so you see my mouth must utter no
complaints. No; my mileage fell short of the Greely expedition; but no
goat will ever tempt me through such adventures again. Alas, that a man
should come to shrink from discomforts which once--but let me tell you
about some of them.

Because nothing but good fellowship and kindness were shown me there,
I suppress the name of the town at the railroad’s end where I waited
from Saturday till Monday for the north-bound stage. It was Saturday,
October ninth, my journal reminds me.

“They gave me a room.… I was glad to see as little of it as possible.
I washed in the public trough and basin which stood in the office
between the saloon and the dining room; and I spent my time either in
the saloon watching a game of poker that never ceased, or in wandering
about in the world outside. A Chinaman named Madden … played poker
and of course lost to his American friends, … swearing in the most
ludicrous jargon.… Yet he was good-natured … the men seemed to like him
… at night he returned to the never ending game and lost some more.…
I went to my room to go to bed, turned down the bed clothes, and saw
there, not what I feared, but cockroaches to the number of several
thousand, I should think. They scampered frantically, jostling each
other like any other crowd. Then I lifted one pillow and watched more
cockroaches hurry under the neighboring pillow for shelter. Then I saw
that the walls, ceiling, and floor were all quivering and sparkling
with cockroaches. So I told the landlord downstairs. I said that if
he had no other room, I would throw my camp blankets on the office
table and sleep there if he had no objection. He was sympathetic, and
explained that the cockroaches must have come up from the kitchen which
was below my room. This was Saturday night, and every Saturday night
the cook put powder in the kitchen; so that must have sent them up.
This explanation was given me in a voice full of condolence. And I
replied that very likely this was how they came and that sleeping in
bed with so many at a time would be impossible. He entirely agreed with
me. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘cockroaches is hell.’ …

“So I unrolled my blankets and the landlord helped me make my bed on
his office table, lifting the inkstands and newspapers for me.… I went
to sleep, hearing the game of poker in the adjoining room, the gobbling
of Madden when he lost, and the hoarse merriment of the other men at
his gibberish.

“_Sunday.…_ This morning the game was still going on, but Madden had
retired about four o’clock a loser. The bar-tender, sweeping the
office, waked me, and I arose and made a toilet, as usual, in the
public trough.”

The retrospect fills me with merriment--and regret that it’s all over
for ever and ever; and the goat does not live for whose sake I would do
it again.

It is hard not to yield to further temptation, not to transcribe from
that diary of 1892 much more about the appearance and customs of the
strange wild country through which I now passed on my way to the goat.
Some of the landscape was the worst, the forlornest, the most worthless
that I know, far outstripping Nevada in sheer meanness, and as desolate
as Arizona, without Arizona’s magic splendor and fascination. Great
deserts without grandeur, great valleys without charm, great rocks
without dignity, mere lonely ugliness everywhere; that is the Big Bend
country; and the river Columbia itself, when you finally descend to
it from the parched bare dust and the strewn black boulders of the
table-land, is a sweeping, sullen, shadeless flood, the most unlovely
river that ever I have seen.

I like, when I can, to bring support to my opinions. On a later day, in
the middle of the Big Bend, I came upon a desolate sign-post, placed
there no doubt to cheer up the wayfarer’s discouraged heart. This post
announced that Central Ferry was thirty-five miles distant; and below
this a wayfarer had scrawled his personal comment:--

Forty-five miles to water.

And a subsequent wayfarer had added:--

Seventy-five miles to wood.

And a final wayfarer:--

Two and one-half miles to hell.

Ah, the dauntless, invaluable spirit of man! Those few words scrawled
by a hand that I should like to shake, made the desert blossom with
humor, and I continued on my journey with a smiling heart.

Three nights out from the cockroaches, and I was sleeping in the
open, among pleasant hills. An old ragged fiddler, with hair hanging
grizzled to his shoulders, had kept me listening late to all sorts
of old-fashioned tunes and dances. He had fiddled his way across our
continent, and had taken his lifetime to do so. Here he was, with
silvering hair, up in the Cascade Mountains. I spread my blankets a
hundred yards from his cabin, where he lived alone. He was perfectly
blithe-hearted and perfectly penniless. I don’t know his name; I never
saw him but that once; I suppose he is dead; but his discourse and his
fiddle gave me an evening of entertainment over which I still sometimes
dwell. Had I found no goat, the characters that I met, such as he,
would have rewarded my excursion. But all things came to me. After some
vain trips, whence I returned empty handed from fairly rough camping,
on Wednesday, November 2, the diary reads, “One of my particular
long-cherished wishes is accomplished, and I have seen and killed a
mountain goat.” On the next day a second head and hide hung in our very
snug camp. These first two were males, and they served as a basis for
the description that I have attempted to draw earlier in this chapter.
It was while we sat, my companionable guide and I, skinning the second
goat, that we held a conversation which I must here record.

How we ever fell upon such a subject as the royal family of England, I
do not remember; but camping in the wilderness uses up subjects, and
leaves you with a steadily narrowing choice each day; and T--, who took
an illustrated paper, observed to me that he had always rather liked
“that chap Lorne.” This was how he phrased it; his language about some
of the others held less of compliment.

Now I had happened, not long before this, to read of a distressing
_contretemps_ that had befallen the procession during the Queen’s
jubilee, and I reminded T-- of this; but it was new to him. So I told
him that while the crowned heads were proceeding in state through
London streets with the eyes of the civilized world watching them with
admiration, the Marquis of Lorne’s horse kicked up. It was a horse that
required a better rider than the Prince of Wales had considered the
marquis to be, for he had warned him against the animal beforehand. But
the marquis preferred to ride him. And so the horse kicked up, and off
fell the marquis, right in the middle of the Queen’s jubilee.

T-- looked at me and said nothing. I was therefore left uncertain if it
came home to the mind of the mountaineer that this royal progress, this
historic and panoplied moment, was a bad one for a nobleman to select
to tumble off his horse in. I continued:--

“I believe that the Queen, upon seeing the accident, sent somebody.”

“Where?” said T--.

“To the marquis. She probably called the nearest King and said,
‘Frederick, Lorne’s off. Go and see if he’s hurt.’”

“‘And if he ain’t hurt, _hurt_ him,’” added T--, speaking for the
Queen. So I perceived that he had given the situation its full value.

After this second day of success, storm and snow beat down upon us, a
blinding day, keeping us in camp. More storms followed, and no more
goat; and we had to shoot a horse which had “cast” himself, being
entangled in his rope, and so frozen as he lay helpless overnight in
the heavy snow. We left these mountains and departed to others in
search of a herd of goat; I wished a female and kid, and we seemed to
have lighted upon a resort of old solitary males. Eight days after the
second goat we sighted our herd, and this occasioned an experience
more enlightening.

I feel confident that those who have done much hunting of big game
have sometimes heard such words as these: “This mountain used to have
a bunch of sheep on it all the time; three hundred sheep;” or, “Just
about here last season I ran into a band of twelve hundred elk;” or,
“I passed two thousand antelope on the flat yesterday.” The person who
says this to you will have been your own guide, or some visitor to camp
who is comparing notes and exchanging anecdotes. I, at any rate, have
listened many times to such assertions; and now and then I have been
tempted to observe (for instance) in reply: “Two thousand antelope!
When you’d counted nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, I should think
you’d have been too tired to go on.” But these are temptations that I
have resisted. I think, too, that the men believed what they said--in a
general way. But here with the goat was a famous opportunity. We could
see them clearly; they were across a cañon from ourselves, a mile or
so away; they were lying down, or standing, some eating, some slowly
moving about a little; they were in crowds, and in smaller groups, and
by ones and twos, changing their positions very leisurely; and they
seemed numberless; they were up and down the hill everywhere. Getting
to them this day was not possible, since most of the day was already
gone, and we were high up on an opposite mountain side.

“There’s a hundred thousand goat!” exclaimed T--; and I should have
gone home asseverating that I had seen at least hundreds.

“Let’s count them,” said I. We took the glasses and did so. There were

From these thirty-five during the next two days I completed with no
trouble, save hard climbing, my tally of desired specimens,--an adult
male and female, and a kid, for my own keeping, with two males to give
away to friends. And I learned a little more about the goat.

The female is lighter built than the male, and with horns more
slender--a trifle. And (to return to the question of diet) we visited
the pasture where the herd had been, and found no sign of grass
growing, or grass eaten; there was no grass on that mountain. The only
edible substance was a moss, tufted, stiff, and dry to the touch.
The largest horns at the base measured six inches in circumference,
and twenty-one and a half inches from one tip down to the skull and
so across and up to the other tip. I also learned that the goat is
safe from predatory animals. With his impenetrable hide and his
disembowelling horns, he is left by the wolves and mountain lions
respectfully alone. And T-- told me of a mother goat’s energy. A
prospector had in early summer captured a kid still too young to run
much. Its mother saw him taking it to camp, ran after him, chased him
in full sight of his comrades so hotly that he had to drop her child,
and she got it back! I have said by inference, but must definitely
state, that the kids are dropped in May and June.

To the sum of our knowledge about the _Oreamnus montanus_, the gift
of a subspecies has lately been offered; but acceptance of this gift
would at present, I think, be premature. It depends on one’s idea of
the number of facts needful in daily life to justify a generalization.
For instance, if you should read in the paper that one person died of
diphtheria last week in New York, it would not prevent your going to
that city; but if you read that five hundred had died in a week, you
might decide not to take your children there for the season,--and
this would be the result of a justifiable generalization. The rule is
nowise different in genuine science. This new variety of goat has been
based upon a single specimen, and only the dried skull at that! Because
the horns were a few inches longer and spread a few inches wider than
the average, and because there were certain differences in measurement
of the jaw, is scarce adequate proof that these variations were not a
distortion, congenital or the result of accident. We have seen people
with squints and with club-feet; we have also been to the circus, yet
we do not make subspecies for the Kentucky giant and the bearded lady.
But that little ache for self-perpetuation, for some sort of permanence
in this forgetting world, throbs in many hearts, and since we are all
trying to affix our names to something that will hand them down to the
succeeding generations, why not tie them to _Oreamnus_ and _Ovis_? And
so, reader, you have the pleasing vision of our zoölogists, riding down
to posterity upon the backs of sundry subspecies of goat and sheep.

These animals, like all our Western big game, are disappearing. It is
not (as the political Western loud-talker has so frequently shouted)
the Eastern “tenderfoot” who is responsible for this destruction;
it is the Westerner himself, quietly breaking the laws he made, and
killing (to take one recent example) dozens of bull elk out of season
in Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming, merely to sell the two teeth known as
“tushes,” and leaving the rest of the carcass to rot on the hills. That
is the real man who is destroying our big game, just as he is wiping
out our forests. Left in his hands, the face of our continent would
presently look like a burnt house. Two years before I hunted the goat,
the deer in those mountains came down in herds to stare at the new
settlers--who shot them from their cabin doors for fun. The deer are
scarce enough now.

The Yellowstone Park is a sanctuary for buffalo, elk, deer, antelope,
and sheep. There (if anywhere) our big game have a chance of surviving.
I have never heard of goat as existing in this sanctuary; but good
news comes lately that the sheep are thriving upon Mt. Evarts. Let me
suggest to the commandant that he take steps to secure some goat from
the Saw Tooth Range--or anywhere he best can--and try the interesting
experiment of breeding the animal in the Yellowstone Park.



This is one of the very few mammals that are permanently white or
whitish at all seasons, and although commonly termed a goat, it really
belongs to the same group as the serows, which it closely resembles in
the form and color of the horns. In winter the hair is very long, and
pure white in color; along the back it is erect, and much elongated on
the withers and haunches, so as to give to the animal the appearance of
possessing a pair of humps. The summer coat is comparatively short, and
has a yellowish tinge. Height at shoulder just short of 3 feet; weight
from 180 to 300 pounds.

_Distribution._--North America, throughout the Rocky Mountains, from
about latitude 36° in California at least as far north as latitude
60°. By American naturalists the proper generic name of the animal is
considered to be _Oreamnus_ instead of _Haplocerus_.

                         MEASUREMENTS OF HORNS

    LENGTH |CIRCUM-| TIP  |                  |
    CURVE  |       |      |                  |
    --11½  |  ..   | ..   |British Columbia  |Clive Phillipps-Wolley
           |       |      |                  |
    --11   |  ..   | ..   |Kutenay, British  |John T. Fannin
           |       |      |  Columbia        |  (measured by)
           |       |      |                  |
    --10½  |   5¾  | ..   |Montana           |Walter James
           |       |      |                  |
      10¼  |   5¼  |  5½  |British Columbia  |R. Rankin
           |       |      |                  |
    --10⅛  |   6½  | ..   |Similkameen River,|Arthur Pearse
           |       |      |  British Columbia|
           |       |      |                  |
      10⅛  |   5   |  6⅛  |        ?         |E. N. Buxton
           |       |      |                  |
   --♀10⅛  |   4¾  | ..   |British Columbia  |Capt. A. Egerton
           |       |      |                  |
      10   |   5⅜  |  6⅜  |British Columbia  |J. V. Colby
           |       |      |                  |
     --9¾  |   5   | ..   |Montana           |Theodore Roosevelt
           |       |      |                  |
       9¾  |   5½  |  6¼  |N.W. Territories  |S. Ratcliff
           |       |      |                  |
       9¾  |   5¼  |  6   |N.W. Territories  |H.R.H. le Duc
           |       |      |                  |  d’Orléans
           |       |      |                  |
       9⅝  |   5¼  |  6⅛  |N.W. Territories  |Sir Edmund G. Loder,
           |       |      |                  |  Bart.
           |       |      |                  |
       9½  |   5½  |  6¼  |Alaska            |Sir George Littledale
           |       |      |                  |
       9½  |   4½  | ..   |North America     |J. D. Cobbold
           |       |      |                  |
      ♀9½  |   4¼  |  5½  |British Columbia  |P. B. Vander-Byl
           |       |      |                  |
       9½  |   5¼  |  6⅜  |East Kutenay,     |A. E. Butter
           |       |      |British Columbia  |
           |       |      |                  |
     --9½  |   5¼  |  6½  |Bitter Root Mts., |James J. Harrison
           |       |      |  U.S.A.          |
           |       |      |                  |
    --♀9⅜  |   4½  |  5⅝  |British Columbia  |A. E. Leatham
           |       |      |                  |
     --9⅜  |   5⅜  |  6¾  |British Columbia  |T. W. H. Clarke
           |       |      |                  |
       9¼  |   5½  |  5¼  |British Columbia  |J. Turner-Turner
           |       |      |                  |
       9¼  |   5½  | ..   |North America     |Earl of Lonsdale
           |       |      |                  |
       9¼  |   5½  |  5¾  |British Columbia  |G. Lloyd Graeme
           |       |      |                  |
       9⅛  |  ..   |  6   |Montana           |Thomas Bate,
           |       |      |                  |  British Museum
           |       |      |                  |
       9⅛  |   5¼  |  5   |British Columbia  |Sir Peter Walker, Bart.
           |       |      |                  |
       9   |   4¾  |  6   |British Columbia  |T. P. Kempson
           |       |      |                  |
     --8⅞  |   5½  |  4⅛  |British Columbia  |Count E. Hoyos
           |       |      |                  |
       8¼  |   4⅔  |  5¼  |British Columbia  |Count Schiebler


[1] Rest.

[2] Caribou.

[3] Not caribou.

[4] Musk-ox.

[5] “Records of Big Game,” Rowland Ward, third edition.

[6] “Records of Big Game,” Rowland Ward, third edition.

[7] Wood Bison.

[8] Dark brown, shading to tan and ecru, tinged with grayish blue;
large, heavy boned; massive horns curved close to head, well flattened,
deeply corrugated on upper rim, usually battered at the points in the
older rams. Range the Rocky Mountains north from the Colorado River to
the head waters of the Peace River, British Columbia. Range in upper
edge of timber line.

[9] White. Summer coat of a rusty hue. Not so large as _Canadensis_.
Horns white, curved well away from head; not so deeply corrugated, less
massive than _Canadensis_. All of Rocky Mountains north of 60° N. L.,
and Alaskan Mountains in Western Alaska Range, above timber line.

[10] The darkest of all the sheep, shading from light to very dark
gray tinged with brown. Horns long and graceful but slender, spreading
farther from the head than those of any species. Range the Rocky
Mountains between 55° and 60° N. and in the Cassiar, Campbell, and
Simson mountains farther west and north to 62° N.

[11] Light brown to ecru tinged with drab. Horns similar to
_Canadensis_. Range the semi-desert country in Southern states from
Texas to California.

[12] Darker than _Nelsoni_, but not so dark as _Canadensis_. Size
large. Horns broad and massive; molar teeth larger than in any known
American sheep; tail vertebra long. Range Chihuahua Mountains in
Northern and Western Mexico.

[13] White and gray. In size about that of the _Dalli_ and _Stonei_.
Horns white; curved closer to head than _Dalli_ and _Stonei_. Range
Upper Yukon River. Range more in the timber than _Stonei_ or _Dalli_;
habits very much those of _Canadensis_.

[14] The ram’s horns cease growing at the time of the rutting season,
and do not begin again until the spring brings nourishing food. This
causes the rings on the horns, it is said, which indicate the number of
winters old the sheep is.

[15] “Records of Big Game,” Rowland Ward, third edition.

[16] “Records of Big Game,” Rowland Ward, third edition.


    Age indicated by rings on rams’ horns, 208 _n._

    Alaska, buffalo range as extending to, 123.
      Fossil remains of musk-oxen found in, 85.
      Mountain sheep in, 176, 181 _n._, 223-224, 226, 246.
      Remains of buffaloes found in, 123-124.
      Rumors of musk-oxen in, 85-93.
      White goat found in, 246, 250, 275.

    Alaskan bighorn [_Ovis Canadensis dalli_], 176, 181 _n._,
          223-224, 226, 246.

    _Alces_ [Moose], 120.

    Alleghanies, the, eastern boundary of buffalo range, 120.

    Allen, Professor J. A., 79, 80.
      Monograph on American bisons by, 119.

    Animals, attachment of, to one locality, 138-146.

    Antelope, white goat an, 232.

    Antelope-hunting on horses, 197.

    _Antilope americana_, white goat termed, 259.

    _Antilope lanigera_, 259.

    Arctic islands, musk-oxen on, 51, 60, 85, 93.

    Argalis, Asiatic, mountain sheep distinguished from, 223.

    Arizona, mountain sheep in, 247.

    Arkansas, musk-ox skull found in, 85.

    Audubon, J. J., 122, 147.
      “Missouri River Journal” quoted, 157-159.

    Aurochs, European bison called, 111.

    Aylmer Lake, musk-ox killed at, 94.

    Babiche, 41, 67.

    Bache Peninsula, musk-oxen killed on, 76-79.

    Bad Lands, mountain sheep in the, 176.

    “Barren Ground of Northern Canada,” W. Pike’s, 47.

    Barren Grounds, hunting in, 17-29.
      Physical character of, 34-35.
      Route for best reaching, 50-51.
      Snowfall in, 35.

    Bear River Valley, buffalo formerly abundant in, 125.

    Bedson, S. L., experiments in breeding buffalo by, 148.

    Bent, George, 128.

    Bent, Colonel William, 128.

    Berlin, live musk-ox in, 103.

    Big Bend country, description of, 264.

    Bighorn, American [_Ovis canadensis_], 223-224.
      _See_ Mountain sheep.
      Alaskan [_Ovis canadensis dalli_], 176, 181 _n._, 223-224, 226, 246.

    “Biological Survey of Mount Shasta,” 250.

    Birds, attachment of, to certain localities, 142.

    Bison, American [_Bos bison_], 111-166.
      Mountain, 126, 135-136.
      Points distinguishing, from European bison, 165.
      Prairie [_Bos bison typicus_], 165.
      Reported relation of musk-ox to, 75.
      _See_ Buffaloes.

    Bitter Root Mountains, white goat found in, 275.

    Blackfeet Indians, white buffalo skin dedicated to Sun by, 127.

    Blainville, M. de, 259.

    Bodfish, Captain H. H., 93, 103.

    Bonneville, Captain, on buffaloes in Bear River Valley, 125.

    _Bos bison athabascæ_ [Wood bison], 117, 123, 165.

    _Bos bison typicus_ [Prairie bison], 165.

    British Columbia, mountain sheep in, 225, 226.
      White goat in, 231, 250, 275.

    Brown, Arthur, on southern range of white goat, 247.

    Brush, absence of, from Barren Grounds, 35-36.

    “Buck-fever,” 203-207.

    Buffaloes, agility of, 135-136.
      Attachment to one locality, 140-146.
      Battles between males, 131-132.
      Bulls, 129-132.
      Butchering of, by Indians, described, 157-159.
      Calves, 132-135, 146-147.
      Color of, 126-128, 132-133.
      Cross-breeding of, 147-150.
      Description, 165.
      Domestication, 147-150.
      Extermination of, 111-119.
      Habits, 129-130.
      Hair, 165.
      Height, 165.
      Herds of, 117, 161-163.
      Hides, 130-131.
      Horns, 165.
      Indians hold sacred, 127-129.
      Methods of hunting, 150-156.
      Migrations, 137-142.
      Panics among, 136-137.
      Range, 119-126, 165.
      Rubbing-stones, 131, 163.
      Rutting season, 131-132.
      Superstitions concerning, 127-130.
      “Surround” method of hunting, 150-156.
      Trails, 138.
      Weight, 165.
      Young, 132-135, 146-147.
      _See_ Bison.

    Buffalo-running, 159-161.

    California, absence of white goat from, 244-245.

    California mountain sheep [_Ovis canadensis nelsoni_], 223, 226.

    Calves, buffalo, 132-133, 146-147.
      Of musk-oxen, 100, 103, 132-133.

    Camping in Barren Grounds, 64-69.

    Canoes, musk-ox hunting in, 61-62.

    Cape Bryant, musk-oxen killed at, 93.

    Capote, caribou-skin, 55.

    _Capra americana_, white goat called, 259.

    _Capra montana_, 259.

    Caribou, course of migration, in Barren Grounds, 44, 47-48.

    _Cervus canadensis_ [Elk], 120.

    Chamois, relation of white goat to, 232.

    Charging, false reputation of musk-oxen for, 73-75.

    Cheyenne Indians, white buffalo skins dedicated to Sun by, 127.

    Coffee a luxury in the North, 50.

    Cogmolik Indians, 92.

    Colorado, buffalo-horns from, 166.

    Colorado Cañon, mountain sheep in, 247.

    Copenhagen, live musk-ox in, 105.

    Corsica, the moufflon of, 182.

    Coues, Dr. Elliott, 256.

    Dakota, disappearance of mountain sheep from, 178-179.

    Deer-hunting on horses, 197.

    District of Columbia, buffaloes reported as once found in, 120-121.

    Dodge, Colonel, 115, 133, 161.

    Dogs, question of shipping, into the Barren Grounds, 41-42.
      Scarcity of, in North Country, 38-39.
      _See_ Sledge-dogs.

    Domestication of buffaloes, 147-150.

    Drought, buffaloes driven from Mississippi by, 121.

    Duffel, the, defined, 39.

    Duke of Bedford, live musk-ox owned by, 103.

    Dunbar, William, 257, 259.

    Dung of musk-ox, 100.

    Earl of Lonsdale, musk-ox horns owned by, 99-100.

    Elk [_Cervus canadensis_], 120.
      Slaughter of, at Jackson’s Hole, Ky., 273.

    Elk-hunting on horses, 197.

    Equipment for Barren Ground expedition, 53-54.

    Europe, fossil remains of musk-oxen found in, 85.
      Specimens (live) of musk-ox in, 103.

    Ewe and lamb, Wister’s experience with, 210-222.

    Feeding, problem of, in Barren Grounds, 41-42.

    Firth, John, 91.

    Flesh of musk-oxen, 100-103.

    Flowers in the Barren Grounds, 62.

    Fort Resolution, 39, 50.

    Fossil remains of musk-oxen, 85.

    Franz Josef Land, musk-oxen unknown in, 93.

    Fremont, J. C., on western range of buffaloes, 125.

    Fur, color of, of musk-oxen, 80, 104.

    Gass, 175, 179, 256.

    Gaudet, Hudson’s Bay Company post factor, 53.

    Goat, relation between sheep and, 182.
      _See_ White goat.

    Grease, craving for, in the North, 47.

    Great Lakes northern boundary of buffalo range, 121.

    Greenland, musk-oxen in, 51, 79-80, 85.

    Green River, buffaloes found on tributaries of, 125.

    Grinnell Land, fossil remains of musk-oxen in, 85.
      Musk-oxen of, 79-80.

    Haggerty, Captain, 90.

    Hair of white goat, 239, 240-241, 257.

    _Haplocerus montanus_ [Rocky Mountain goat], 231, 259, 274.
      _See_ White goat.

    Harlan’s musk-ox [_Ovibos bombifrons_], 76, 85.

    Headgear in Barren Ground hunting, 33-34.

    Heads of musk-oxen, 99-100.

    Henry, Alexander, Journal of, 118, 161-162.

    Hides, of buffaloes, 130-131.
      White goat, 241.

    Hodgson, Mr., Hudson’s Bay Company trader, 91.

    Hoofs of white goat, 239-240.

    Hornaday, W. T., 120-121, 148, 165.

    Horns, of mountain sheep, 181 _n._
      Musk-oxen’s, 76, 98-100.
      Rings on rams’, 208 _n._
      White goat’s, 239.

    Horses, antelope-hunting on, 197.
      Buffalo-hunting on, 153-155.
      Deer-hunting on, 197.
      Sheep-hunting on, 192-193.

    Hostility between sheep and goat, 233-237, 245-246.

    Hudson’s Bay Company posts, 37.

    Hunter, Dr., 257, 259.

    Hunting seasons in Barren Grounds, 44-48, 50-52.

    Idaho, white goat in, 247, 250.

    India, sheep found in, 182.

    Indians, Alaskan, 90, 91, 92.
      For Barren Ground hunting, 52-53.
      Buffaloes formerly sacred to, 127.
      Methods of, in hunting musk-oxen, 47-49.
      Slaughter of buffalo by, 157-159.

    Innuits, musk-ox hunting by, 60-61.

    Jackson’s Hole, elk-killing at, 273.

    Jones, C. J., experiments in breeding buffalo by, 148.

    Kamchatka, sheep found in, 182.

    Kentucky, buffaloes formerly in, 122.
      Domestication of buffaloes in, 147.
      Skull of musk-ox found in, 85.

    Kids of white goat, 271.

    Knife for musk-ox hunting, 67.

    Kodak, hunting with a, 261.

    Kogmolik Indians, 92.

    Kookpugmioot Indians, 92.

    Lambs of mountain sheep, 208-222.

    “Land of Little Sticks,” 17, 36.

    Laramie Plains, buffaloes on the, 124, 125.

    Lewis, Meriwether, 175-176, 245, 255-257.
      Confusion of goat and sheep by, 251, 255-260.

    Livingston, Mont., mountain sheep seen at, 171-173, 183-184.

    London, live musk-ox in, 103.

    Loucheaux Indians, 91.

    Lydekker, Professor R., 75, 79.
      “The Royal Natural History” of, 246.

    Mackenzie River, musk-oxen not found west of, 86-93.

    Maclaine of Lochbuie, the, horns of sheep owned by, 224.

    Maps, mistakes in, 244-245.

    _Mazama Sericea_, white goat named, 259.

    Mexico, mountain sheep in, 181 _n._, 247.

    Migrations, buffalo, 137-142.
      Caribou, in Barren Grounds, 44, 47-48.

    Mississippi, buffaloes formerly in, 121.

    “Missouri River Journal,” Audubon’s, quoted, 157-159.

    Moccasins essential in Barren Ground outfit, 39.

    Montana, bison horns from, 166.
      Mountain sheep in, 225, 226.
      White goat in, 250, 275.

    Moore, Francis, “Voyage to Georgia” of, 121.

    Moose [_Alces_], 120.

    Mosquitoes in Barren Grounds, 44.

    Moufflon, the, of Corsica, 182.

    Mt. Evarts, sheep on, 273.

    Mountain bison, 126, 135-136.

    Mountain sheep [American bighorn, _Ovis canadensis_], 171-226.
      Color, 179-180.
      Description, 179-183, 223-224.
      Distribution, 176, 224.
      Habitat, 199, 246-247.
      Height, 224.
      Hide, 179.
      Horns, 223-225.
      Hostility to goat, 233-237, 245-246.
      Keenness of sight, 219.
      Lambs, 208-222.
      Method of hunting, 197-199.
      Range, 176, 224.
      Rutting season, 184, 208.
      Species and subdivisions, 180-182.
      Weight, 224.
      White goat and, 233-237, 245-246.
      White variety [_Ovis dalli_], 181, 201.

    Munn, Henry Toke, 47.

    Musk-ox of Barren Grounds [_Ovibos moschatus_], 17-106.
      Action when attacked, 59-60, 73-75.
      Appearance, 73.
      Calves, 100, 103, 130-131.
      Dung of, 100.
      Flesh, 100, 103.
      Fur, 97-98, 104-105.
      Genus, 75-80.
      Herds of, 97.
      Hides not valuable, 52.
      Horns, 98-100, 104, 106.
      Inaccessibility of, 50.
      Method of hunting, 56-69.
      Origin (reputed), 70.
      Permit necessary for hunting, 51.
      Range, 76, 79-80, 85-94, 105.
      Size, 94, 105.
      Specimens (live), 103.

    National Park, Colorado, buffaloes in, 117-118.
      _See_ Yellowstone Park.

    Noonitagmiott Indians, 90.

    North Platte River, buffaloes on tributaries of, 126.

    Olympic Range, white goat not found in, 250.

    Ord, George, 259.

    _Oreamnus montanus_ [Rocky Mountain goat], 231, 259, 274.

    Oregon, absence of white goat from, 250.

    _Ovibos bombifrons_ [Harlan’s musk-ox], 76, 85.

    _Ovibos moschatus_ [Barren Ground and Greenland type of musk-ox],
          76, 80, 82, 83, 104-105.

    _Ovibos pearyi_, 80.

    _Ovibos wardi_, 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 104-105, 106.

    _Ovis canadensis_ [American bighorn], 180-181, 208, 223-224.
      _See_ Mountain sheep.

    _Ovis canadensis auduboni_, 181.

    _Ovis canadensis dalli_ [Alaskan bighorn], 176, 181 _n._, 223-224,
          226, 246.

    _Ovis canadensis nelsoni_ [Californian sheep], 223, 224.

    _Ovis canadensis stonei_, 223.

    _Ovis canadensis typica_ [Rocky Mountain sheep], 223, 259.

    _Ovis cervina_, 181.

    _Ovis dalli_, 181, 201.

    _Ovis fannini_ [Saddleback sheep], 181-182, 213.

    _Ovis mexicana_, 181.

    _Ovis montana_, 259.

    _Ovis nelsoni_, 181, 187.

    _Ovis stonei_, 177, 181.

    Panics among buffaloes, 136-137.

    Pawnee Indians, buffalo skins sacred to, 127.

    Peary, Lieutenant, musk-ox captured by, 105.
      Musk-oxen killed by, 76-79, 93.

    Pemmican, from dried buffalo meat, 156.
      Scarcity of, in the North, 49.

    Philadelphia, white goat in Zoölogical Gardens at, 231, 237-238.

    Piccolo, Padre, 250.

    Pike, Warburton, 47, 62, 74, 94.
      Musk-ox heads owned by, 100.

    Pine, patches of, in Land of Little Sticks, 36.

    Platte River, buffaloes on tributaries of, 125-126.

    Prairie bison (_Bos bison typicus_), 165.

    Protection, government, of musk-oxen, 51.

    Provision question in musk-ox hunting, 36-38.

    Provisions in Barren Grounds, 62-63.

    Rae, J., Hudson’s Bay Company factor, 99.

    Railroads, effect of, on buffaloes, 113-116.

    Ram seen at Livingston, Mont., 171-173, 183-184.

    “Records of Big Game,” R. Ward’s, 104, 165, 223-224, 274.

    Red Desert Country, buffaloes in, 126.

    Red River, buffaloes on the, 162.

    Red River half-breeds, buffalo hunts of, 117, 154-155.

    Rings on rams’ horns, 208 _n._

    Robinson, John (“Uncle Jack Robinson”), 124.

    Rocky Mountain goat [_Haplocerus montanus_ or _Oreamnus montanus_],
          231, 259, 274.
      _See_ White goat.

    Rocky Mountain sheep [_Ovis canadensis typica_], 223, 259.

    “Royal Natural History, The,” Lydekker’s, 246, 247.

    Rubbing-stones, buffaloes’, 131, 163.

    _Rupicapra americana_, white goat termed, 259.

    Rutting season, buffaloes’, 131-132.
      Mountain sheep’s, 184, 208.

    Saddleback sheep [_Ovis fannini_], 181-182, 213.

    Salt Lake Valley, buffaloes in, 124.

    Salvatierra, Padre de, 250.

    Saw Tooth Range, white goat in, 247.

    Schwatka, Frederick, 60, 61, 93.

    Serows, Rocky Mountain goat member of same group as, 274.

    Sheep. _See_ Mountain sheep.

    Shoshone Indians, sheep-hunting on horses by, 193.

    Siberia, fossil remains of musk-oxen found in, 85.

    Skulls of musk-oxen, 75-76, 80, 82, 83.

    Slaughter of buffaloes in America, 114-119.

    Sledge, description of, in Barren Ground outfit, 40-41.

    Sledge-dogs, methods of harnessing, 60-61.
      Scarcity of, in North, 38-39.

    Snowfall in Barren Grounds, 35.

    Snows, effect on buffaloes, 124, 137.

    Snow-shoes, Barren Ground, 35.

    Spitzbergen, musk-oxen unknown in, 93.

    Stone, Andrew J., report as to western range of musk-oxen, 86-93.

    Stouch, Major G. W. II., 143.

    Stringer, Rev. I. O., 89, 90.

    Strouds, 53, 54.

    “Surround” method of hunting buffalo, 150-153.

    Sweetwater River, buffaloes on, 126.

    Tail, lack of, in mountain sheep, 182.

    Tea an essential in Barren Ground outfit, 39-40.

    Tennessee River southern boundary of buffalo range, 121.

    Tepee in Barren Ground outfit, 55, 57, 64.

    Teton Range, sheep-hunting in, 209-222.

    Tibet, sheep found in, 182.
      White goat in, 239.

    Tobacco, necessity of, in Barren Ground outfit, 39-40.

    Tooyogmioot Indians, 90.

    Tracks made by white goat, 239-240.

    Travelling, methods of, in Barren Ground hunting, 62-63.

    Trees, absence of, from Barren Grounds, 35-36.

    “Tripping” snow-shoes, 35.

    _Vaches_ (_vaches sauvages_), 120.

    Virginia, domestication of buffaloes in, 147.

    “Voyage to Georgia,” Moore’s, 121.

    Ward, Rowland, 79.
      “Records of Big Game” by, cited, 104, 165, 223, 274.

    Washakie Needle, mountain sheep on the, 186-196.

    Washington (state), white goat found in, 250.

    White goat [_Oreamnus montanus_], 227-273.
      Color, 242-243, 274.
      Description, 239-242.
      Food, 249.
      Habitat, 231, 245-251.
      Hair, 257.
      Height, 274.
      Hide, 241.
      Horns, 258.
      Hostility to sheep, 233-237, 245-246.
      Immigration from Asia, 232-233, 245-246.
      Kids, 271.
      Lewis’s error about, 251, 255-260.
      Method of hunting, 260.
      Origin, 232-233.
      Relationship to chamois, 232.
      Sheep and, 233-237, 245-246.
      Size, 242.
      Species, 232, 259.
      Specimens (live), 231, 237-238.
      Track made by, 239-240.
      Various Latin names for, 259.
      Weight, 241, 274.

    Whitney, Casper, musk-ox head taken by, 100.

    Whitney, William C., live musk-ox bought by, 103.

    Wild cows, elk called, 120.

    Wood bison [_Bos bison athabascæ_], 117, 123, 165.

    Wool of musk-ox, 97-98, 104-105.

    Wycliff, Robert, 147, 148, 149.

    Wyoming, bison horns from, 166.
      Mountain sheep in, 185, 225, 226.
      White goat not found in, 245, 248.

    Yancey, John, 252.

    Yellowstone Park, bison horns from, 166.
      Buffaloes in, 117-118.
      Game in, 273.

    Yoke, breaking buffaloes to the, 149.

    Young, of buffaloes, 132-135, 146-147.
      Of mountain sheep, 208-222.
      Of musk-oxen, 100, 103.
      Of white goat, 271.

    Zoölogical gardens, musk-oxen in, 103.

    Zoölogical Gardens, Philadelphia, white goat in, 231, 237-238.


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