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Title: The Mentor: Game Animals of America, Vol. 4, Num. 13, Serial No. 113, August 15, 1916
Author: Thornaday, W. T.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Mentor: Game Animals of America, Vol. 4, Num. 13, Serial No. 113, August 15, 1916" ***

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                    THE MENTOR 1916.08.15, No. 113,
                        Game Animals of America

                            LEARN ONE THING
                               EVERY DAY

                  AUGUST 15 1916      SERIAL NO. 113


                             GAME ANIMALS
                              OF AMERICA

                           By W. T. HORNADAY

                           Director New York
                            Zoological Park

                  DEPARTMENT OF             VOLUME 4
                  NATURAL HISTORY          NUMBER 13

                         FIFTEEN CENTS A COPY

Game Preservation

The most striking and melancholy feature in connection with American
big game is the rapidity with which it has vanished. When, just before
the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the rifle-bearing hunters of the
backwoods first penetrated the great forests west of the Alleghanies,
deer, elk, black bear, and even buffalo, swarmed in what are now the
States of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the country north of the Ohio was
a great and almost virgin hunting-ground. From that day to this the
shrinkage has gone on, only partially checked here and there.

There is yet ample opportunity for the big game hunter in the United
States, Canada and Alaska.… It is necessary to remember that these
opportunities are, nevertheless, vanishing; and if we are a sensible
people we will make it our business to see that the process of
extinction is arrested. At the present moment the great herds of
caribou are being butchered, as in the past the great herds of bison
and wapiti have been butchered. Every believer in manliness, and
therefore in manly sport, and every lover of nature, every man who
appreciates the majesty and beauty of the wilderness and of wild life,
should strike hands with the far-sighted men who wish to preserve our
material resources, in the effort to keep our forests and our game
beasts, game birds, and game fish--indeed, all the living creatures of
prairie, and woodland, and seashore--from wanton destruction.


From “Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter,” by Theodore Roosevelt.

Copyright, Charles Scribner’s Sons.









AUGUST 15 1916





[Illustration: Mountain Sheep Head]

Entered as second-class matter March 10, 1913, at the postoffice at New
York, N. Y., under the act of March 3, 1879. Copyright, 1916, by The
Mentor Association, Inc.

Does anyone doubt that in North America the hunting of big game,--once
marvelously abundant,--is fast becoming an extinct pastime? As a game
animal, the American bison is gone. In the United States, antelope
hunting is gone, forever. The Arizona elk is totally extinct. In the
United States, mountain sheep hunting is extinct in all States save
two: and it should be so in those also. Mountain goat hunting is
possible in two States only. It is now next to impossible to find and
kill a wild grizzly in the United States.

There are many persons, of whom I am one, who believe that in a brief
span of years there will be no big-game hunting in the mountain
States west of the great plains, save around the borders of big-game
sanctuaries, such as the Yellowstone Park.

With the exception of the bison and the Arizona elk, we may even yet
see in our mountain States good specimens of some of the big-game
species that abundantly stocked them in pioneer days. We are glad
that we live contemporaneously with the colossal moose and the unique
antelope. We rejoice that we are on terms of intimacy with the lordly
elk, and that we have a bowing acquaintance with the goat and sheep.
We cherish the thought that we have seen real grizzly bears on their
native rocks, and also that we have “done our bit,” as the English say,
in saving the great American bison from oblivion.

It is not good for red-blooded men to live in a land that contains no
big game. It seems effeminate. To correct such a condition as that, the
New Zealanders took thought and colonized in their country the European
red deer; and that species has waxed numerous, and produced tens of
thousands of deer, for food and for sport.

North America has produced a good quota of big game species; but in
that line of native industry we are far surpassed by Asia; and by
Africa we are left completely out of sight. Really, Africa seems to
have been created as an ideal home for big game. Her array of apes,
antelopes, carnivores, and thick-skinned beasts compels unbounded


From a photograph taken in the summer of 1913 by H. W. Henshaw, Chief
of the Biological Survey]

While our game endures, let us make much of it, and appreciate it to
the utmost. And it is not all of game enjoyment to kill it, and cut off
its head, and let the bulk of the meat go into the discard. The highest
type of big-game hunting is the finding of fine animals in their
haunts, photographing them movably and unmovably, and then bidding them
go in peace. To be really and truly ignorant of such distinguished
American citizens as the moose and musk-ox, caribou, sheep, goat,
antelope, deer and Alaskan brown bear, is reprehensible, and should be
punishable by a fine.

Many wild animals are more interesting per capita than some men. To
learn to know our best wild animals is like annexing new territory. It
increases our mental and moral resources, and provides a new channel
for the disposition of surplus wealth. Like Cupid’s story, they never
seem to grow old, and as long as one hoof or horn remains as a going
concern, just that long our interest continues in the wearer thereof.

The most interesting side of every wild animal is its mind,--what it
thinks, and why. First of all, however, we must know the personality of
our animal and be able to speak its name as promptly as the politician
names his voting acquaintances. To call an antelope a “deer” is to lose
a vote.

_The Saving of Big Game_

The characteristic features of America’s big game animals are to
be treated as natural history. The wasteful slaughter of them is
unnatural history. Ever since the days of Daniel Boone, the American
pioneers and exploiters of Nature’s resources have most diligently been
exterminating our bison, elk, deer, moose, antelope, sheep, and goats.
For twenty years we have been toiling to save the American bison from
total extinction.

Thanks to the efforts of the United States and Canadian Governments,
the New York Zoological Society and the American Bison Society, the
buffalo now is secure against extinction. Our government now owns and
maintains six herds, having a total of about 570 head, and the Canadian
Government owns about 1,600 head. Our chief hope is based on the herd
in the Montana National Bison Range, now containing 134 head, living in
a rich pasture of 29 square miles, capable of supporting 1,000 bison
without the purchase of a pound of hay. That herd has risen from 37
head presented in 1909 by the American Bison Society. The Wichita and
Wind Cave National Herds were founded by herds drawn from the New York
Zoological Park, and presented by the Zoological Society.

Excepting for the white-tailed deer and the elk, it is to-day a grave
question whether there will be any big game hunting in the United
States twenty years hence.

_The Prong-Horned Antelope_

It is now painfully certain that nevermore will there be any hunting
of the prong-horned antelope in our country. There has been none for
several years, but for all that the remaining bands are everywhere
(save in two localities) reported as steadily diminishing. Even in the
Yellowstone Park the antelope herds are now but little better than
stationary. Excepting the goat and musk-ox, the prong-horn is North
America’s most exclusively American species of big game. It is so
very odd that it occupies a Family all alone. It is the only living
hollow-horned ruminant that sheds its horns, every year.

But this nimble-footed rover is not fitted to withstand the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune A. D. 1916. It has no more staying power
than a French poodle, and it wilts and dies literally at the first
breath of adversity. It will not breed in captivity, nor does it live
long in any kind of confinement. It is subject to an incurable mouth
disease called lumpy-jaw, and will secretly and joyously carry the
unseen germs of it for six months for the purpose of passing quarantine
and inoculating an innocent herd in some unsuspecting Zoological Park.


From a painting by Carl Rungius]

Half a dozen Western States have little isolated bands of antelope
that they are trying to preserve; but all save two are steadily
diminishing. In the Montana and Wichita Bison Ranges, of 29 and 14
square miles, efforts are being made to establish herds. Canada is
making two large prairie preserves, under fence, especially for
the purpose of saving the antelope from extinction. Taking all
these efforts together, there is a fighting chance that the species
eventually will be saved from oblivion, but at present the odds are
very much against it. As a sport with the rifle, however, legitimate
prong-horned antelope hunting is already as extinct as mammoth-spearing
on glacial ice.

_Mountain Sheep_

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN SHEEP]

Over the Rocky Mountain sheep there is a halo of glamour that is to
every big-game hunter a veritable cloud by day and pillar of fire by
night. Standing out conspicuously apart from all other American hoofed
game, the big-horn thrills and challenges the gentleman sportsman as
no other big game does at this time. (There are fashions, even in the
hunting of big game!) A sportsman will go farther, spend more and
endure more to get “a big ram” as a trophy of his manhood in the chase
than for any other species. Why is it? It is because the old big-horn
rams are found where the scenery is grandest and most inspiring; they
are the keenest of eye, nose and ear of all our big game, and hunting
them successfully means real mountaineering. In Africa a lady can kill
a big elephant, but in the Rocky Mountains ladies do not kill big-horn
rams with the rings of eight or ten years on their horns.

There are times when hunting the mountain goat becomes sport for men;
but many a goat has been killed by an easy fluke. The old big-horn ram,
with horns that are worth while, requires real hunting, and many a man
has taken the long trail for one and gone back empty-handed.

I should be mighty sorry to see sheep-hunting become an extinct
pastime; for ye gods! it is the acme of sport with big game! Elephant
hunting (in India, at least) is tame in comparison. Colorado has
proved, through 26 years of watchful waiting, that to any mountain
sheep State, sheep can be brought back by protection. Twenty-six
years ago the sheep of that State were reduced to a dangerously-small
remnant, of only a few hundred head. Then the lid was put on,
sheep-hunting was forbidden, and, strange to say, even the residents
of the sheep mountains _elected to observe the law, and also to help
enforce it_!

The result is a great triumph in protection, to which the commonwealth
of Colorado points with pride. To-day that State contains a grand total
of 7,482 sheep; and to-day the _wild_ herds come down into the streets
of Ouray to be admired, and feted, and fed on hay and photographed.
And last September when an urgent official request came to the State
Game Warden for permission to kill six of Colorado’s mountain sheep
“for scientific purposes,” the proposal was declared impossible without
precipitating a riot of the populace.

The true big-horn ranges all the way from Pinacate Peak, in
northwestern Sonora, Old Mexico, northward about to Latitude 56 in
British Columbia and western Alberta. On the hot, black lava slopes of
Pinacate, fearfully lacking in vegetation, the sheep grow small. The
species culminates in southwestern Alberta, from the Waterton Lakes up
to Wilcox Pass. The biggest head ever shot by a gentleman sportsman, so
far as I know, had horns with a circumference of 17¾ inches; and the
lucky hunter was Mr. A. P. Proctor, the wild-animal sculptor.

In the United States there are eleven States that still contain wild
examples of mountain sheep, but in some cases the total number to a
State is painfully small. New Mexico contains only 23 head. Sheep
hunting is totally prohibited in all our States save two,--Wyoming and

No, good reader, mountain sheep do _not_ “jump off precipices and
alight safely on their horns.” They never did; and they never will.
Their necks are just as breakable as ours are.

_Mountain Goat_

In oddity and picturesqueness, the white mountain goat and the moose
are rivals; and it is hard to say which species is entitled to the

Fortunately for him, the goat is not much sought by white men as food;
its head is not inordinately prized as a trophy, and therefore he will
survive on his wild and awesome summits long after the last sheep head
has gone to grace some hunter’s “den,” and its flesh has been devoured
by the golden eagles.

The mountain goat looks a bit like a snow-white pigmy buffalo with
small black horns, and long, shaggy hair. It carries its head low, and
its stick-like legs give it a stilted and awkward gait. Its shoulders,
neck and hindquarters are covered with long, coarse hair, and when
the animal is seen on a mountain-top the first thought is: “How _very
white_ it is!” I have compared a clean goatskin with a snowbank, and
the latter had only one small point the advantage. The goat’s hair
shows just a very faint tinge of pale yellow.


The real home of the Rocky Mountain goat is British Columbia, Alberta,
and Southern Alaska, but detachments are even yet found sparingly in
northwestern Montana, Idaho and Washington. The species should be
introduced in the Montana National Bison Range, the Yellowstone Park,
and a dozen other places, particularly in Washington and Oregon. It
has plenty of stamina, it breeds successfully in captivity, and I
believe that it can survive and thrive in any mountain region that
is sufficiently cold and _dry_. It can _not_ endure rain in winter!
Everywhere in the United States where this remarkable species still
survives, it should at once be given complete protection. In Glacier
Park it is now almost a common occurrence for visitors to see wild
mountain goats. I saw two myself, near the Sperry Glacier, in 1909, and
the flocks are undoubtedly much more numerous to-day.

[Illustration: CARIBOU

In its summer coat, with its antlers “in the velvet”]

Mentally and temperamentally the mountain goat is a remarkable animal.
It seems to have no nerves! Under no circumstances does a goat lose its
head--until it has been shot. Only a few months ago (December 25, 1915)
two badly rattled white-tailed deer jumped off the Croton Lake railroad
bridge on the Putnam Railroad, near New York, a distance down of about
40 feet, and both were killed by the leap. Two mountain goats would
not have done that. They would have “stood pat” to the last second,
and waited to see what the locomotive really meant to do. Deer and
sheep are hysterical animals, and when cornered will leap off ledges
to certain death; but the goat, never! He stands at bay, and calmly
waits to see what will happen. That is why Mr. John M. Phillips, State
Game Commissioner of Pennsylvania, was able in 1905, at the risk of
his life, to obtain at a distance of eight feet the surpassingly fine
photograph shown herewith. Considering it in every way, I think that
this is the finest wild animal photograph I have ever seen, and surely
one of the best that has ever been made.

[Illustration: CARIBOU FAWNS

In the New York Zoological Park]

I believe that the mountain goat will be the last of the big-game
species of the open mountains of North America to be exterminated by
man. The sheep, moose, caribou and musk-ox will go long in advance of
the ubiquitous goat. In protected areas like Glacier Park and the Elk
River Game Preserve of southeast British Columbia, the species should
endure for a century, or perhaps for two centuries. Why not? In such
protected sanctuaries they should finally increase to such an extent
that the natural overflow will make legitimate goat-hunting in the
surrounding mountains. I should be sorry to see goat-hunting become a
lost art; for it is mighty fascinating,--provided you stop with two
goats and can return with a clear conscience.

_The Caribou_

Europe and Asia have the reindeer, but North America has a truly grand
array of caribou species. In size and geography they range all the way
from the absurd little Peary caribou of Ellesmere Land, which looks
like a goat with deer antlers upon it, to the giant of the Cassiar
Mountains, known as Osborn’s caribou. Roughly speaking, our North
American species are divided by their antlers into two groups, the
Woodland and the Barren Ground. The important species of the latter
are the Greenland caribou, the Peary, the Barren Ground, the Grant and
Kenai. Of the Woodland group the leading species are the Newfoundland,
Canadian, Black-Faced, and Osborn’s. The gravure shown herewith is a
very fine presentation of the Canadian Woodland species from an oil
painting by Carl Rungius, now owned by the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh.

[Illustration: ELK

Its antlers are “in the velvet”--only half developed. The animal has
its summer coat of hair]

The Barren Ground caribou exists in the greatest numbers of any
mammalian species, great or small, now inhabiting the earth. The
immense throngs that have been seen by Warburton Pike, C. J. Jones and
others, while on their annual southward migration, literally stagger
the imagination. Undoubtedly there are millions of individuals, and
they offer a sharp commentary on the ability of Nature to multiply her
live stock, and keep it up to the highest standard, without any help
from man.


Is it not a pleasing thought that even in this age of universal
slaughter there is one big-game species that still exists in millions,
on our own continent? To-day the Barren Ground caribou is protected by
distance and the frost king. But this condition is too bright to last.
Ere long,--perhaps to-morrow,--the Canadians will build a railroad from
Fort Churchill, on Hudson Bay, straight through the heart of the Barren
Ground caribou range to the Arctic coast, and then the ranks of the
caribou will be depleted.

The caribou are members of the Deer Family, but one and all they
exhibit many unique features. Their antlers are flat, the females
have horns, their muzzles are large and square-ended, their feet are
very broad and spreading,--like snow-shoe hoofs,--and their heads are
carried low. The caribou gait is a swift, far-striding trot.

In the United States caribou are found at two points only: in Maine
and northern Idaho;--but we no longer guarantee the latter. South of
the Barren Grounds of northern Canada the best localities for caribou
are Newfoundland, the Cassiar Mountains, the Iskoot country of British
Columbia, the White River country of western Yukon Territory and the
Alaska Peninsula.

The Osborn caribou is a grand animal, every way considered. The white
Peary caribou, of Ellesmere Land, is very small, its head is more
deer-like than that of any other caribou, and it looks like a misfit
white deer with imitation caribou antlers upon its head. Unlike all
other members of the Deer Family, the female caribou has horns; but
they are small and weak.

_The Moose_

The moose is an animal as odd and picturesque as if it had come to us
straight from Wonderland. Walk between those colossal legs and under
that high-holden body, gaze on those snow-shovel antlers, consider the
amazing overhang of that nose, and then say where an equally amazing
combination can be found on this continent.

[Illustration: Copyright by The Knapp Co., N. Y.


From a painting by Belmore Browne]

This animal is the Colossus of the Deer Family. If his wits were equal
to his bulk, no man with a gun ever would see a live moose save through
binoculars, and we never would acquire any antlers save those discarded
by the animal. The homeliest members of the Deer Family are its female
moose in calving time, beside which warthogs and hippopotami are sirens
and sylphs.

A full-grown bull moose in October or November is, as we have already
insinuated, a wonder. No mammoth, nor mastodon, nor sabretoothed tiger
ever was any more so. I am glad that I have lived in the day of that
astounding beast. I never yet really wished to kill a moose, even
though I have often been told that I should shoot one, for the sake of
my reputation as a sportsman. But I never did. I would like to see 100
moose in a week,--as I once came near doing,--but I do not like the
thought of destroying a big bull moose.


In the Reed-McMillin Collection, New York Zoological Park. The spread
is 76 inches. Probably the finest pair of moose antlers “in captivity”]

The moose of the greatest horns and the longest skulls are found in
Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula is for them the greatest of all places, and
there the grandest antlers have been produced. The bull stands seven
feet high at the shoulders,--and no man ever yet has weighed a whole
adult animal,--so far as is known to this writer. The finest moose
picture ever made, by lens or by brush, is the great painting owned by
the New York Zoological Society, which was executed by Carl Rungius
in 1915. The model that posed for that bull’s antlers hangs in the
Reed-McMillin collection of the National Heads and Horns, in the next
room to mine, and the road for the doubting Thomases is short and easy.

No; the moose does not prefer to live in thick timber; although in
Maine and northern Minnesota the timber of the moose is quite thick
enough for all practical purposes. The ideal home of the moose is
burned-over tracts of timber, wherein the brush grows rankly, the
obstructing trees are absent, and in running or traveling the moose
has only to stride over fallen trunks lying four feet high, and always
about. The moose is the only land animal now living on this continent
that is physically qualified, with a standing of 100 per cent, to
travel fast over “down timber” and get away with it.

We must admit that in eastern captivity the moose cannot thrive
anywhere south of Canada. The climate of New York city is like poison
to moose, caribou and antelope. The salt-laden rains of winter, at 32°
Fahrenheit are to blame. In New Brunswick, through wise laws rigidly
enforced, (as a rule) the moose are increasing, even though hunted
every year. In Maine, moose-hunting has been stopped. The great State
game preserve in northern Minnesota contains many hundred moose, quite
well protected. Strangest of all, there now are hundreds of moose
in northwestern Wyoming, where the species long has been absolutely
protected, and there are about 700 in the Yellowstone Park.

_The Musk-Ox_

During our own times, the Barren Ground musk-ox has been completely
exterminated throughout the region west of the Mackenzie River, and
also eastward from the Mackenzie for about 500 miles. Only seventy
years ago, or thereabouts, herds of live musk-ox were found about
fifty miles southeast of Point Borrow; but since that time the species
has been exterminated throughout an area as long as from New York to


To me every living musk-ox is a source of continual wonder. I am
staggered by the fact that a warm-blooded animal, quite sheep-like
in its general nature and mode of life, and which lives well in New
York City, can survive and thrive and breed and be happy on the most
northerly land in the world. The fact that whole herds of musk-ox
can find food throughout the awful Arctic night, survive storms of
unbelievable violence and duration, and cold that the human mind scarce
can comprehend,--and voluntarily live under such conditions,--seems
almost beyond belief.

And yet here in New York, wet in winter and hot in summer, we keep
musk-ox comfortable in captivity for five years; and they do not suffer
from the heat as much as do the men who take care of them. A part of
our success is due to the fact that we keep our musk-ox _dry_, and
never allow cold rains to come upon them. They have not yet bred; and
we are at a loss to understand why.

A naturalist-historian given to light speaking might be tempted to say
that the two musk-ox species were developed and placed in the frozen
North for the support of explorers, and the promotion of geographic
knowledge. For example, without the musk-ox herds as a base, Peary
might never have attained the North Pole. It was he who killed and
ate a musk-ox at the most northerly point of land in the world,--the
northeast corner of Greenland. Whole herds of musk-ox have been killed
and eaten by hungry explorers and the Eskimos and their dogs. The
flesh of this animal should taste more like mutton than beef, but
the man does not live who could distinguish it from beef of the same
age. Evidently there are conditions under which a musk-ox bull has
a perceptibly musky odor, but I have never been able to detect the
slightest trace of it in any of the animals of my personal acquaintance.

There are two species. The _White-Fronted Musk-ox_ has a broad band
of soiled white hair across its face, just below the horns; and it
inhabits Greenland and all the islands and lands westward thereof, down
to the mainland of North America. The _Barren Ground Musk-ox_ is the
one of the Barren Grounds of northern Canada, and its lowest latitude
is 64°, at the head of Chesterfield Inlet, which is at the northwestern
corner of Hudson Bay.

Like nearly all the large land animals, the musk-ox is of gregarious
habit, and maintains itself in herds of small size, usually not
exceeding thirty or forty head. Its sharp, down-dropping horns seem to
have been specially designed by nature to puncture the hide of the big
white arctic wolf, which seeks big game at its farthest north. Whenever
a musk-ox herd is attacked by wolves, or by dogs, the adult bulls and
cows immediately form themselves into a hollow circle, with the calves
inside; and thus they stand literally shoulder to shoulder, facing
outward with horns at the “ready,” quite able to repel all attacks save
those with firearms. If a dog or wolf comes near enough to a musk-ox
so that there appears to be a chance to impale it, out rushes the
musk-ox in a swift charge. Usually the nimble footed canine escapes
unharmed, and as soon as it is beyond reach the musk-ox quickly returns
to his place in the circle. The definiteness and precision with which
the charge is made and the return accomplished shows a high degree of
strategic intelligence; and thus is the fittest enabled to survive.

The musk-ox has two coats of hair--a sweater and a rain-coat. The
sweater is of fine and dense fur, practically impervious to cold.
The rain-coat is a suit of rather long and rather coarse straight
hair, which hangs over and completely covers the inner coat, for the
purpose of shedding snow and rain. The body color of the animal is a
rich chocolate brown, and the legs are dull gray. Naturally one would
expect to see a musk-ox provided with a broad, spreading hoof, like the
snow-shoe hoof of the caribou; but this is not the case. The musk-ox
hoof is rather small and compact.

Structurally this remarkable animal is half ox and half sheep,--just as
its generic name, _Ovibos_, implies. It has _no_ visible tail, and its
drooping horns strongly resemble those of the Cape buffalo, of Africa.

For four years the New York Zoological Park has maintained the only
herd of musk-ox ever kept in captivity. It started in 1910 with six
animals, three of which still survive.


[Illustration: A MUSK-OX]

    THE AMERICAN NATURAL HISTORY        _By W. T. Hornaday_
    OUR VANISHING WILD LIFE             _By W. T. Hornaday_
    BIG GAME OF NORTH AMERICA            _By G. O. Shields_
    OUR BIG GAME                      _By D. W. Huntington_

⁂ Information concerning the above books and articles may be had on
application to the Editor of The Mentor.


In about three weeks vacation days will be over and the fall season for
reading clubs and home reading circles will begin. There are hundreds
of clubs using The Mentor--some as their regular course for the season,
others as supplementary to their own courses. During June we had many
demands from reading clubs for information concerning The Mentor plans
for next year. This information was wanted in most cases for use in
club booklets which were then in course of preparation. In order to
meet the needs of reading clubs we prepare plans of The Mentor far
ahead. Our numbers for the year 1917 are already scheduled, and some of
them are in actual preparation. Our descriptive booklet tells all about
future as well as past numbers.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not think that the members of The Mentor Association who are not
active in reading clubs appreciate what The Mentor is doing for club
work. We could make up a book many times the size of The Mentor simply
out of the letters of appreciation that we have received from clubs all
over the country bearing testimony to the service that we give. The
following, just received, is a fair example:

       *       *       *       *       *

“Some time ago you sent me a suggested program for the study of South
America. The club of which I am president has just voted to study that
subject, and they are following the program that you laid out, and
it is so much better than anything that we could have laid out for
ourselves that it saves the program committee a great deal of work. We
hardly see how you can afford to do this, but we want to express our

This letter is really typical. A great many ask us how we “can
afford to do this work” for nothing. Some offer to pay. So let us
make it clear now to every member of The Mentor Association that the
preparation of special programs and courses of reading is a regular
part of The Mentor Service, and that we give it freely and gladly.
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Game Animals of America


Monograph Number Three in The Mentor Reading Course

The American elk or wapiti (_Cervus canadensis_) is as large as a
horse, handsomely formed, luxuriantly maned, carries its head proudly,
and is crowned by a pair of very imposing antlers. The male elk is at
its handsomest in October or November, when his skin is bright and
immaculately clean and his fine antlers have just been renewed.

The elk has small and shapely legs. It avoids swamps and low ground
and likes to frequent mountain parks. It is also a forest animal.
Formerly it ranged far out into the western edge of the great plains
and it was accustomed in summer to ascend the Rocky Mountains to the
very crest of the Continental Divide. To-day, however, it is abundant
in one locality only--the Yellowstone National Park and the country
immediately surrounding it. Elk are also found in small numbers in
Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Idaho and on Vancouver Island,
British Columbia. However, elk are easily bred in confinement, and many
good herds have been established in great private game preserves. In
addition to these, there are many small herds in private parks.

The elk sheds its antlers each year. The antlers of one of the largest
males in the New York Zoological Park dropped on March twenty-first
nine hours apart. On April 8th each budding antler looked like a big
brown tomato. Ten days later the new antlers were about five inches
long, thick and stumpy. By May 10th the elk was shedding its hair
freely. On June 18th the antlers were at full length. By August 1st
the short red summer coat of hair was established, and the antlers
were still “in velvet,” The elk then began to rub the velvet from its
antlers against the trees.

By September 15th the summer coat of the elk herd had been completely
shed. On October 1st the entire herd was at its best. All antlers
were clean and perfect. The hair of the skin was long, full and rich
in color. This is the mating season of the elk when the bulls are
aggressive and dangerous.

Elk are often very unsuspicious and at times so stupid that hunting
them is not so exhilarating a sport as it might seem.





Game Animals of America


Monograph Number One In The Mentor Reading Course

The mountain sheep (genus _Ovis_) is a gallant mountaineer. It is a
fine, sturdy animal, keen eyed, bold, active and strong, and is always
found amid scenery that is grand and inspiring. Its favorite pastures
in summer are the treeless slopes above the timber-line; and even in
winter, when the raging storms drive the elk and deer down into the
valleys, the mountain sheep descends for only a short distance. The
mountain sheep is a bold climber. Its legs are robust and strong, and
when pursued it can dash down steep declivities in safety.

It is very easy to recognize any adult mountain sheep by the massive
round curving horns. No wild animals other than wild sheep have
circling horns.

The largest of specimens of wild sheep are found in Asia. There are
six species in America. They are scattered from the northern states of
Mexico through the Rocky Mountains, almost to the shore of the Arctic

The young of the mountain sheep are born in May or June above the
timber-line if possible, among the most dangerous and inaccessible
crags and precipices that the mother can find. The lamb’s most
dangerous enemy is the eagle, and often the mother cannot protect her
young from this foe.

Probably the most familiar of the mountain sheep is the big-horn or
Rocky Mountain sheep (_Ovis canadensis_). Formerly this was quite
abundant, but so persistently has it been hunted that the species
exists now only in small numbers and in widely separated localities.

The general color of the big-horn is gray brown. They are well fed all
the year round. The female has not the long curving horns of the male.
Her horns are small, short, erect, and much flattened, in length from
five to eight inches.

Other species of mountain sheep are the California or Nelson’s mountain
sheep (_Ovis nelsoni_) a smaller animal than the big-horn and of a
pale salmon gray color; the Mexican mountain sheep (_Ovis mexicanus_)
found in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico; the white mountain sheep or
Dall’s sheep (_Ovis dalli_) of Alaska, whose hair is pure white, when
it has not been stained by mud or dirt; the black mountain sheep (_Ovis
stonei_) of northern British Colombia, which is distinguishable by the
wide spread of its horns, the dark brown color of its sides and the
white abdomen; and Fannin’s mountain sheep (_Ovis fannini_) a newly
discovered species which was found first on the Klondike River, Alaska,
in 1900.




Game Animals of America


Monograph Number Two in The Mentor Reading Course

The Rocky Mountain goat, or the white goat (_Oreamnos montanus_), is
the only American representation of the many species of wild goat-like
animals so numerous throughout the Old World. Its habitat extends from
northwestern Montana to the head of Cook Inlet, but it is not found in
the interior nor in the Yukon Valley. It is one of the most picturesque
and interesting wild animals on the continent of North America.
It ranges on the grassy belt of the high mountains just above the
timber-line. It seems to like particularly the dangerous ice-covered
slopes over which only the boldest hunters dare to follow it. On the
coast of British Columbia, however, the white goat sometimes descends
very near to tide water.

The white goat is odd in appearance. At first glance it seems to be a
slow, clumsy creature; in fact, it is the most expert and daring rock
climber of all American hoofed animals. The hoofs are small, angular
and very compact and consist of a combination of rubber-pad inside and
knife-edge outside to hold the goat equally well on snow, ice or bare
rock. It is said that goats will cross walls of rock which neither
man, dog nor mountain sheep would dare attempt to pass. Sometimes they
walk along the face of a precipice of apparently smooth rock; yet in
doing so they frequently look back and turn around whenever they feel
so inclined. The white goat is built something on the order of a small
American bison. Its head is carried low and the horns are small and
short. Its hair is yellowish-white. Next to the skin is a thick coat of
fine wool through which grows a long outside thatch of coarse hair.

It is an animal of phlegmatic temperament. A story has been told of
one goat, whose “partner” had been shot, which deliberately sat down a
short distance away and watched the hunter skin and cook a portion of
his dead mate.

Its flesh is musky and dry and it is not palatable to white men except
when they are exceedingly hungry. Its skin has no commercial value. For
these reasons and also because it is hard to reach, the Rocky Mountain
goat is not likely to be exterminated very soon.





Game Animals of America


Monograph Number Four in The Mentor Reading Course

With the exception of the musk-ox, the caribou is the most northerly of
all hoofed animals. This animal not only roams on the vast Arctic waste
above Great Slave Lake, known as the Barren Grounds, but it also ranges
over the west coast of Greenland, along the edge of the great ice cap
and perhaps over the entire coast of Greenland. Wherever the naked
ridges and valleys yield it food, the caribou may be found.

The caribou is a rather odd-looking creature. It is interesting to
note that Nature has provided it with a body especially made to enable
it to brave the terrors of a frigid climate. Its legs are thick and
strong and its hoofs are expanded and flattened until they form very
good snowshoes. Where a moose sinks in, a caribou is able to walk over
snowfields and quaking marshes. The skin of the caribou is covered
with a thick, closely matted coat of fine hair; through this grows
the coarse hair of the rain-coat. This makes a very warm covering--in
fact the warmest on any hoofed animal except the musk-ox. It is like a
thick, felt mat.

The caribou is the American reindeer. It has antlers, long and
branching. As a species they may be grouped under two heads--the
Woodland caribou (_Rangifer tarandus caribou_) and the barren ground
caribou (_Rangifer tarandus articus_). Each of these two groups may
be sub-divided several times. However, it is difficult to distinguish
these sub-species. The chief characteristics are minor differences in
the antlers, but even here great difficulties are encountered. The
antlers are subject to thousands of variations, and as a result no two
pairs ever are found exactly alike. It has been said that if ten pairs
of adult antlers of each of the so-called nine species were mixed in
one heap, it would be almost impossible for even an expert to separate
them all correctly into their proper groups.

Of the two great groups, the Woodland caribou roams through the pine
and spruce forests and also the prairies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick, Northern Maine, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. It is a
large animal with strength enough to vanquish the strongest man in
about one minute. Its shoulders are sharp and high, and its head is
held low and thrust straight forward. The Woodland caribou of Maine
has a body color of bluish brown and gray. In October, however, its
new coat is of the color known as seal brown. Its antlers are short
and have more than thirty points. As a whole the antlers have the
appearance of a tree-top.

The barren ground caribou is extremely like the average reindeer of
Siberia and Lapland. It is a rather small animal with immense antlers.
The center of their abundance to-day is midway between the eastern end
of Great Slave Lake and the southeastern extremity of Great Bear Lake.

The natural food of the caribou is moss and lichens. In captivity very
few survive many months without a regular diet of moss. Full grown
Woodland caribou consume about seven pounds of it daily.

It is only necessary to watch a caribou walking to see in this
animal the true born traveler. This is one of the most peculiar
characteristics of the species. At stated periods in the spring and
autumn they assemble in immense herds and migrate with the compactness
and definiteness of purpose of an army of cavalry on the march. This
is most noticeable on the Canadian Barren Grounds. The herd moves
northward in spring and in the early winter moves southward. Several of
these monster migrations have been witnessed.





Game Animals of America


Monograph Number Five in The Mentor Reading Course

Imagine an animal standing between six and seven feet high at the
shoulders, its legs four feet long, its neck and body covered with a
heavy thatch of coarse, purplish gray hair, and its huge head crowned
with massive antlers spreading from five to six feet in width! That is
the moose (_Alces americanus_). It is the largest animal of the deer
family. The only way to appreciate a moose is to see an adult animal
alive and full of strength, striding through the forests of Canada or

The word moose is a North American Indian name which is said to
mean “cropper” or “trimmer,” from the animal’s habits of feeding on
the branches of trees. The moose can be recognized by its broad,
square-ended, overhanging nose, its high hump on the shoulders, its
long, coarse, smoky gray hair, and the antlers of the male, which are
enormously flattened and expanded. Moose are found in northern Maine,
and some other parts of the Northern States, Canada and Alaska.

It is hard to kill a moose. Most of those killed are shot from ambush.
In the autumn months the moose hunter may sometimes make a horn of
birch bark and, concealing himself beside a pond at nightfall, may by
imitating the call of the cow moose attract a bull within shooting

The moose calf is born in May and is at first a grotesque looking
creature with long, loose jointed legs and an abnormally short body.
By the time the calf is a year old it has taken on the colors of adult

Unlike most members of the Deer Family, the moose does not graze. It
eats the bark, twigs and leaves of certain trees, and also moss and
lichens. It is strictly a forest animal and is never found on open,
treeless plains. Being very fond of still water, it frequents small
lakes and ponds.

One of the largest bull moose on record was seven feet high at the
shoulders and had a girth of eight feet. The largest pair of antlers
recorded have a spread, at the widest point, of 78 inches. The weight
of the antlers and the dry skull together is 93 pounds.

The bull moose has under the throat a long strip of skin called a
“bell.” In the adult male animal this bell is sometimes a foot in
length The female moose has no antlers, and out of every thousand
females only one has a bell.

In captivity the moose is docile, and affectionate. They have even been
trained to drive in harness. But owing to the peculiar nature of their
digestive organs, they cannot live long upon ordinary grass or hay.
Green grass is fatal to them.

During the deep snows of winter moose herd together in sheltered spots
in the forest. They move about in a small area and by treading down the
snow form what is called a “moose yard.”

The Alaskan moose has been described as a new species (_Alces gigas_).
It is said to be a giant in size. Ideas of this animal are greatly
exaggerated, although it is true that its antlers are really immense.



[Illustration: THE BISON LEADER]

Game Animals of America


Monograph Number Six in The Mentor Reading Course

The American bison or buffalo (_Bison americanus_) because of its great
size and imposing appearance, is the most celebrated of all American
hoofed animals. It has been practically exterminated, but now that it
is given adequate protection, the buffalo, which breeds rapidly in
captivity, has been saved from total disappearance.

The buffalo was first seen by white men in Anahuac, the Aztec capital
of Mexico, in 1521, when Cortez and his men paid their first visit to
the menagerie of King Montezuma. It was first seen in its wild state by
a shipwrecked Spanish sailor in southern Texas in 1530.

Once the buffalo roamed over fully one-third of the entire continent
of North America. Not only did it inhabit the plains of the West, but
also the hilly forests of the Appalachian region, the northern plains
of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and even the bleak and barren plains of
western Canada. The center of abundance, however, was the great plains
lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi Valley.

In May, 1871, Col. R. I. Dodge drove for twenty-five miles along the
Arkansas River through an unbroken herd of buffaloes. According to
Dr. Hornaday’s calculation, he actually saw nearly half a million
head. This was the great southern herd on its annual spring migration
northward. Altogether it must have contained about three and a half
million animals. In those days mighty hosts of buffaloes frequently
stopped or even derailed railway trains, and obstructed the progress of
boats on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

When the Union Pacific railway was completed in 1869, the buffaloes
were divided into a northern herd and a southern herd. By 1875 the
southern herd had been practically annihilated. Five years later the
completion of the Northern Pacific railway led to a grand attack upon
the northern herd. Three years later this was almost entirely wiped out.

The future of the buffalo depends upon the National herds and ranges,
of which the United States has six game preserves. In zoological parks
this animal becomes sluggish and rapidly deteriorates from the vigorous
standard of the wild stock.

The largest buffalo ever measured by a naturalist is the old bull which
was shot by Dr. Hornaday on December 6, 1886, in Montana, and which now
stands as the most prominent figure in the mounted group in the United
States National Museum. This is the animal whose picture adorns the ten
dollar bill of the United States currency. The height of this buffalo
at the shoulders was 5 feet, 8 inches, and its length of head and body
to the root of the tail was 10 feet, 2 inches. Its estimated weight was
2,100 pounds.

The buffalo begins to shed its faded and weather-beaten winter coat
of hair in March. For the next three months he is a forlorn looking
creature. By October, however, the new coat is well along, and in
November and December the animal is at its best.

Buffalo calves are born in May and June. At first they are a brick red
color, but this coat is usually shed in October.

The flesh of the buffalo very closely resembles domestic beef. In fact,
it is impossible to distinguish the difference.






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September 15, WALTER SCOTT. _By Hamilton W. Mabie. Author and Editor._





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