American Big Game in Its Haunts
The Book of the Boone and Crockett Club
GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL
Wilderness Reserves Theodore Roosevelt.
The Zoology of North American Big Game Arthur Erwin Brown.
Big Game Shooting in Alaska:
I. Bear Hunting on Kadiak Island II. Bear Hunting on the Alaska Peninsula III. My Big Bear of Shuyak IV. The White Sheep of Kenai Peninsula. V. Hunting the Giant Moose James H. Kidder.
The Kadiak Bear and his Home W. Lord Smith.
The Mountain Sheep and its Range George Bird Grinnell.
Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America Henry Fairfield Osborn.
Distribution of the Moose Madison Grant.
The Creating of Game Refuges Alden Sampson.
Temiskaming Moose Paul J. Dashiell.
Two Trophies from India John H. Prentice.
Forest Reserves of North America
Forest Reserves as Game Preserves E.W. Nelson.
Constitution of the Boone and Crockett Club
Rules of the Committee on Admission
Former Officers of the Boone and Crockett Club
Officers of the Boone and Crockett Club
List of Members
List of Illustrations
President Roosevelt and Major Pitcher
Tourists and Bears
Deer on the Parade Ground
Wapiti in Deep Snow
Mountain Sheep at Close Quarters
A Silhouette of Blacktail
Black Bears at Hotel Garbage Heap
Chambermaid and Bear
Cook and Bear
Trophies from Alaska
Loaded Baidarka—Barabara—Base of Supplies, Alaska Peninsula
The Hunter and his Home
Heads of Dall's Sheep
My Best Head
St. Paul, Kadiak Island
Sunset in English Bay, Kadiak
Sitkalidak Island from Kadiak
A Kadiak Eagle
Bear Paths, Kadiak Island
Bear Paths, Kadiak Island
Merycodus osborni Matthew
Maine Moose; about 1890
Moose Killed 1892, with Unusual Development of Brow Antlers
Alaska Moose Head, Showing Unusual Development of Antlers
"Bierstadt" Head, Killed 1880
Probably Largest Known Alaska Moose Head
A Kahrigur Tiger
The New Buffalo Herd in the Yellowstone Park
A Bit of Sheep Country
Mountain Sheep at Rest
Mule Deer at Fort Yellowstone
NOTE.—The four last illustrations are from photographs taken by Major John Pitcher, Superintendent of the Yellowstone National Park, especially for this volume.
Although the Boone and Crockett Club has not appeared largely in the public eye during recent years, its activities have not ceased. The discovery of gold in Alaska, and the extraordinary rush of population to that northern territory had the usual effect on the wild life there, and proved very destructive to the natives and to the large mammals. A few years ago it became evident that the Kadiak bear and certain newly discovered forms of wild sheep and caribou were being destroyed by wholesale, and were actually threatened with extermination, and through the efforts of the Club, strongly backed by the Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture, a bill was passed regulating the taking of Alaska large game, and especially the exportation of heads, horns, and hides. The bill promises to afford sufficient protection to some of these rare boreal forms, though for others it perhaps comes too late. The enforcement of the law is in charge of the Treasury Department, and permits for shooting and the export of trophies are issued by the Chief of the Biological Survey.
Although a local affair, yet of interest to the whole country, is the remarkable success of the New York Zoological Park, controlled and managed by the New York Zoological Society, brought into existence largely through the efforts of Madison Grant, the present secretary of the Club. The Society has also recently taken over the care of the New York Aquarium. The Society is in a most flourishing condition, and through its extensive collections exerts an important educational influence in a field in which popular interest is constantly growing.
Under the administration of President Roosevelt, the good work of national forest preservation continues, and the time appears not far distant when vast areas of the hitherto uncultivated West will prove added sources of wealth to our country.
The Club has for some time given much thoughtful attention to the subject of game refuges—that is to say, areas where game shall be absolutely free from interference or molestation, as it is to-day in the Yellowstone Park—to be situated within the forest reserves; and as is elsewhere shown, it has investigated a number of the forest reserves in order to learn something of their suitability for game refuges. It appears certain that only by means of such refuges can some forms of our large mammals be preserved from extinction. The first step to be taken to bring about the establishment of these safe breeding grounds is to secure legislation transferring the Bureau of Forestry from the Land Office to the Department of Agriculture. After this shall have been accomplished, the question of establishing such game refuges may properly come before the officials of the Government for action.
Among the notable articles in the present volume, one of the most important is Mr. Roosevelt's account of his visit to the Yellowstone National Park in April, 1903. The Park is an object lesson, showing very clearly what complete game protection will do to perpetuate species, and Mr. Roosevelt's account of what may be seen there is so convincing that all who read it, and appreciate the importance of preserving our large mammals, must become advocates of the forest reserve game refuge system.
Quite as interesting, in a different way, is Mr. Brown's contribution to the definition and the history of our larger North American mammals. To characterize these creatures in language "understanded of the people" is not easy, but Mr. Brown has made clear the zoological affinities of the species, and has pointed out their probable origin.
This is the fourth of the Boone and Crockett Club's books, and the first to be signed by a single member of the editorial committee, one name which usually appears on the title page having been omitted for obvious reasons. The preceding volume—Trail and Camp Fire—was published in 1897.
GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL.
NEW YORK, April 2, 1904.
American Big Game in Its Haunts
FOUNDER OF THE BOONE AND CROCKETT CLUB.
It was at a dinner given to a few friends, who were also big-game hunters, at his New York house, in December, 1887, that Theodore Roosevelt first suggested the formation of the Boone and Crockett Club. The association was to be made up of men using the rifle in big-game hunting, who should meet from time to time to discuss subjects of interest to hunters. The idea was received with enthusiasm, and the purposes and plans of the club were outlined at this dinner.
Mr. Roosevelt was then eight years out of college, and had already made a local name for himself. Soon after graduation he had begun to display that energy which is now so well known; he had entered the political field, and been elected member of the New York Legislature, where he served from 1882 to 1884. His honesty and courage made his term of service one long battle, in which he fought with equal zeal the unworthy measures championed by his own and the opposing political party. In 1886 he had been an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of New York, being defeated by Abram S. Hewitt.
Up to the time of the formation of the Boone and Crockett Club, the political affairs with which Mr. Roosevelt had concerned himself had been of local importance, but none the less in the line of training for more important work; but his activities were soon to have a wider range.
In 1889 the President of the United States appointed him member of the Civil Service Commission, where he served until 1895. In 1895 he was appointed one of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City, and became President of the Board, serving here until 1897. In 1897 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and served for about a year, resigning in 1898 to raise the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. The service done by the regiment—popularly called Roosevelt's Rough Riders—is sufficiently well known, and Mr. Roosevelt was promoted to a Colonelcy for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Las Guasimas. At the close of the war with Spain, Mr. Roosevelt became candidate for Governor of New York. He was elected, and served until December 31, 1900. In that year he was elected Vice-President of the United States on the ticket with Mr. McKinley, and on the death of Mr. McKinley, succeeded to the Presidential chair.
Of the Presidents of the United States not a few have been sportsmen, and sportsmen of the best type. The love of Washington for gun and dog, his interest in fisheries, and especially his fondness for horse and hound, in the chase of the red fox, have furnished the theme for many a writer; and recently Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Harrison have been more or less celebrated in the newspapers, Mr. Harrison as a gunner, and Mr. Cleveland for his angling, as well as his duck shooting proclivities.
It is not too much to say, however, that the chair of the chief magistrate has never been occupied by a sportsman whose range of interests was so wide, and so actively manifested, as in the case of Mr. Roosevelt. It is true that Mr. Harrison, Mr. Cleveland, and Mr. McKinley did much in the way of setting aside forest reservations, but chiefly from economic motives; because they believed that the forests should be preserved, both for the timber that they might yield, if wisely exploited, and for their value as storage reservoirs for the waters of our rivers.
The view taken by Mr. Roosevelt is quite different. To him the economics of the case appeal with the same force that they might have for any hard-headed, common sense business American; but beyond this, and perhaps, if the secrets of his heart were known, more than this, Mr. Roosevelt is influenced by a love of nature, which, though considered sentimental by some, is, in fact, nothing more than a far-sightedness, which looks toward the health, happiness, and general well-being of the American race for the future.
As a boy Mr. Roosevelt was fortunate in having a strong love for nature and for outdoor life, and, as in the case of so many boys, this love took the form of an interest in birds, which found its outlet in studying and collecting them. He published, in 1877, a list of the summer birds of the Adirondacks, in Franklin county, New York, and also did more or less collecting of birds on Long Island. The result of all this was the acquiring of some knowledge of the birds of eastern North America, and, what was far more important, a knowledge of how to observe, and an appreciation of the fact that observations, to be of any scientific value, must be definite and precise.
In the many hunting tales that we have had from his pen in recent years, it is seen that these two pieces of most important instruction acquired by the boy have always been remembered, and for this reason his books of hunting and adventure have a real value—a worth not shared by many of those published on similar subjects. His hunting adventures have not been mere pleasure excursions. They have been of service to science. On one of his hunts, perhaps his earliest trip after white goats, he secured a second specimen of a certain tiny shrew, of which, up to that time, only the type was known. Much more recently, during a declared hunting trip in Colorado, he collected the best series of skins of the American panther, with the measurements taken in the flesh, that has ever been gathered from one locality by a single individual.
Mr. Roosevelt's hunting experiences have been so wide as to have covered almost every species of North American big game found within the temperate zone. Except such Arctic forms as the white and the Alaska bears, and the muskox, there is, perhaps, no species of North American game that he has not killed; and his chapter on the mountain sheep, in his book, "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail," is confessedly the best published account of that species.
During the years that Mr. Roosevelt was actually engaged in the cattle business in North Dakota, his everyday life led him constantly to the haunts of big game, and, almost in spite of himself, gave him constant hunting opportunities. Besides that, during dull seasons of the year, he made trips to more or less distant localities in search of the species of big game not found immediately about his ranch. His mode of hunting and of traveling was quite different from that now in vogue among big-game hunters. His knowledge of the West was early enough to touch upon the time when each man was as good as his neighbor, and the mere fact that a man was paid wages to perform certain acts for you did not in any degree lower his position in the world, nor elevate yours. In those days, if one started out with a companion, hired or otherwise, to go to a certain place, or to do a certain piece of work, each man was expected to perform his share of the labor.
This fact Mr. Roosevelt recognized as soon as he went West, and, acting upon it, he made for himself a position as a man, and not as a master, which he has never lost; and it is precisely this democratic spirit which to-day makes him perhaps the most popular man in the United States at large.
Starting off, then, on some trip of several hundred miles, with a companion who might be guide, helper, cook, packer, or what not—sometimes efficient, and the best companion that could be desired, at others, perhaps, hopelessly lazy and worthless, and even with a stock of liquor cached somewhere in the packs—Mr. Roosevelt helped to pack the horses, to bring the wood, to carry the water, to cook the food, to wrangle the stock, and generally to do the work of the camp, or of the trail, so long as any of it remained undone. His energy was indefatigable, and usually he infected his companion with his own enthusiasm and industry, though at times he might have with him a man whom nothing could move. It is largely to this energy and this determination that he owes the good fortune that has usually attended his hunting trips.
As the years have gone on, fortunes have changed; and as duties of one kind and another have more and more pressed upon him, Mr. Roosevelt has done less and less hunting; yet his love for outdoor life is as keen as ever, and as Vice-President of the United States, he made his well-remembered trip to Colorado after mountain lions, while more recently he hunted black bears in the Mississippi Valley, and still more lately killed a wild boar in the Austin Corbin park in New Hampshire.
Mr. Roosevelt's accession to the Presidential chair has been a great thing for good sportsmanship in this country. Measures pertaining to game and forest protection, and matters of sport generally, always have had, and always will have, his cordial approval and co-operation. He is heartily in favor of the forest reserves, and of the project for establishing, within these reserves, game refuges, where no hunting whatever shall be permitted. Aside from his love for nature, and his wish to have certain limited areas remain in their natural condition, absolutely untouched by the ax of the lumberman, and unimproved by the work of the forester, is that broader sentiment in behalf of humanity in the United States, which has led him to declare that such refuges should be established for the benefit of the man of moderate means and the poor man, whose opportunities to hunt and to see game are few and far between. In a public speech he has said, in substance, that the rich and the well-to-do could take care of themselves, buying land, fencing it, and establishing parks and preserves of their own, where they might look upon and take pleasure in their own game, but that such a course was not within the power of the poor man, and that therefore the Government might fitly intervene and establish refuges, such as indicated, for the benefit and the pleasure of the whole people.
In April, 1903, the President made a trip to the Yellowstone Park, and there had an opportunity to see wild game in such a forest refuge, living free and without fear of molestation. Long before this Mr. Roosevelt had expressed his approval of the plan, but his own eyes had never before seen precisely the results accomplished by such a refuge. In 1903 he was able to contrast conditions in the Yellowstone Park with those of former years when he had passed through it and had hunted on its borders, and what he saw then more than ever confirmed his previous conclusions.
Although politics have taken up a large share of Mr. Roosevelt's life, they represent only one of his many sides. He has won fame as a historical writer by such books as "The Winning of the West," "Life of Gouverneur Morris," "Life of Thomas Hart Benton," "The Naval War of 1812," "History of New York," "American Ideals and Other Essays," and "Life of Cromwell." Besides these, he has written "The Strenuous Life," and in somewhat lighter vein, his "Wilderness Hunter," "Hunting Trips of a Ranchman," "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail," and "The Rough Riders" deal with sport, phases of nature and life in the wild country. For many years he was on the editorial committee of the Boone and Crockett Club, and edited its publications, "American Big Game Hunting," "Hunting in Many Lands," and "Trail and Camp Fire."
Mr. Roosevelt was the first president of the Boone and Crockett Club, and continues actively interested in its work. He was succeeded in the presidency of the Club by the late Gen. B.H. Bristow.
The practical common sense of the American people has been in no way made more evident during the last few years than by the creation and use of a series of large land reserves—situated for the most part on the great plains and among the mountains of the West—intended to keep the forests from destruction, and therefore to conserve the water supply. These reserves are created purely for economic purposes. The semi-arid regions can only support a reasonable population under conditions of the strictest economy and wisdom in the use of the water supply, and in addition to their other economic uses the forests are indispensably necessary for the preservation of the water supply and for rendering possible its useful distribution throughout the proper seasons. In addition, however, to the economic use of the wilderness by preserving it for such purposes where it is unsuited for agricultural uses, it is wise here and there to keep selected portions of it—of course only those portions unfit for settlement—in a state of nature, not merely for the sake of preserving the forests and the water, but for the sake of preserving all its beauties and wonders unspoiled by greedy and shortsighted vandalism. These beauties and wonders include animate as well as inanimate objects. The wild creatures of the wilderness add to it by their presence a charm which it can acquire in no other way. On every ground it is well for our nation to preserve, not only for the sake of this generation, but above all for the sake of those who come after us, representatives of the stately and beautiful haunters of the wilds which were once found throughout our great forests, over the vast lonely plains, and on the high mountain ranges, but which are now on the point of vanishing save where they are protected in natural breeding grounds and nurseries. The work of preservation must be carried on in such a way as to make it evident that we are working in the interest of the people as a whole, not in the interest of any particular class; and that the people benefited beyond all others are those who dwell nearest to the regions in which the reserves are placed. The movement for the preservation by the nation of sections of the wilderness as national playgrounds is essentially a democratic movement in the interest of all our people.
On April 8, 1903, John Burroughs and I reached the Yellowstone Park and were met by Major John Pitcher of the Regular Army, the Superintendent of the Park. The Major and I forthwith took horses; he telling me that he could show me a good deal of game while riding up to his house at the Mammoth Hot Springs. Hardly had we left the little town of Gardiner and gotten within the limits of the Park before we saw prong-buck. There was a band of at least a hundred feeding some distance from the road. We rode leisurely toward them. They were tame compared to their kindred in unprotected places; that is, it was easy to ride within fair rifle range of them; but they were not familiar in the sense that we afterwords found the bighorn and the deer to be familiar. During the two hours following my entry into the Park we rode around the plains and lower slopes of the foothills in the neighborhood of the mouth of the Gardiner and we saw several hundred—probably a thousand all told—of these antelope. Major Pitcher informed me that all the prong-horns in the Park wintered in this neighborhood. Toward the end of April or the first of May they migrate back to their summering homes in the open valleys along the Yellowstone and in the plains south of the Golden Gate. While migrating they go over the mountains and through forests if occasion demands. Although there are plenty of coyotes in the Park there are no big wolves, and save for very infrequent poachers the only enemy of the antelope, as indeed the only enemy of all the game, is the cougar.
Cougars, known in the Park as elsewhere through the West as "mountain lions," are plentiful, having increased in numbers of recent years. Except in the neighborhood of the Gardiner River, that is within a few miles of Mammoth Hot Springs, I found them feeding on elk, which in the Park far outnumber all other game put together, being so numerous that the ravages of the cougars are of no real damage to the herds. But in the neighborhood of the Mammoth Hot Springs the cougars are noxious because of the antelope, mountain sheep and deer which they kill; and the Superintendent has imported some hounds with which to hunt them. These hounds are managed by Buffalo Jones, a famous old plainsman, who is now in the Park taking care of the buffalo. On this first day of my visit to the Park I came across the carcasses of a deer and of an antelope which the cougars had killed. On the great plains cougars rarely get antelope, but here the country is broken so that the big cats can make their stalks under favorable circumstances. To deer and mountain sheep the cougar is a most dangerous enemy—much more so than the wolf.
The antelope we saw were usually in bands of from twenty to one hundred and fifty, and they traveled strung out almost in single file, though those in the rear would sometimes bunch up. I did not try to stalk them, but got as near them as I could on horseback. The closest approach I was able to make was to within about eighty yards on two which were by themselves—I think a doe and a last year's fawn. As I was riding up to them, although they looked suspiciously at me, one actually lay down. When I was passing them at about eighty yards distance the big one became nervous, gave a sudden jump, and away the two went at full speed.
Why the prone bucks were so comparatively shy I do not know, for right on the ground with them we came upon deer, and, in the immediate neighborhood, mountain sheep, which were absurdly tame. The mountain sheep were nineteen in number, for the most part does and yearlings with a couple of three-year-old rams, but not a single big fellow—for the big fellows at this season are off by themselves, singly or in little bunches, high up in the mountains. The band I saw was tame to a degree matched by but few domestic animals.
They were feeding on the brink of a steep washout at the upper edge of one of the benches on the mountain side just below where the abrupt slope began. They were alongside a little gully with sheer walls. I rode my horse to within forty yards of them, one of them occasionally looking up and at once continuing to feed. Then they moved slowly off and leisurely crossed the gully to the other side. I dismounted, walked around the head of the gully, and moving cautiously, but in plain sight, came closer and closer until I was within twenty yards, where I sat down on a stone and spent certainly twenty minutes looking at them. They paid hardly any attention whatever to my presence—certainly no more than well-treated domestic creatures would pay. One of the rams rose on his hind legs, leaning his fore-hoofs against a little pine tree, and browsed the ends of the budding branches. The others grazed on the short grass and herbage or lay down and rested—two of the yearlings several times playfully butting at one another. Now and then one would glance in my direction without the slightest sign of fear—barely even of curiosity. I have no question whatever but that with a little patience this particular band could be made to feed out of a man's hand. Major Pitcher intends during the coming winter to feed them alfalfa—for game animals of several kinds have become so plentiful in the neighborhood of the Hot Springs, and the Major has grown so interested in them, that he wishes to do something toward feeding them during the severe winter. After I had looked at the sheep to my heart's content, I walked back to my horse, my departure arousing as little interest as my advent.
Soon after leaving them we began to come across black-tail deer, singly, in twos and threes, and in small bunches of a dozen or so. They were almost as tame as the mountain sheep, but not quite. That is, they always looked alertly at me, and though if I stayed still they would graze, they kept a watch over my movements and usually moved slowly off when I got within less than forty yards of them. Up to that distance, whether on foot or on horseback, they paid but little heed to me, and on several occasions they allowed me to come much closer. Like the bighorn, the black-tails at this time were grazing, not browsing; but I occasionally saw them nibble some willow buds. During the winter they had been browsing. As we got close to the Hot Springs we came across several white-tail in an open, marshy meadow.
They were not quite as tame as the black-tail, although without any difficulty I walked up to within fifty yards of them. Handsome though the black-tail is, the white-tail is the most beautiful of all deer when in motion, because of the springy, bounding grace of its trot and canter, and the way it carries its head and white flag aloft.
Before reaching the Mammoth Hot Springs we also saw a number of ducks in the little pools and on the Gardiner. Some of them were rather shy. Others—probably those which, as Major Pitcher informed me, had spent the winter there—were as tame as barnyard fowls.
Just before reaching the post the Major took me into the big field where Buffalo Jones had some Texas and Flat Head Lake buffalo—bulls and cows—which he was tending with solicitous care. The original stock of buffalo in the Park have now been reduced to fifteen or twenty individuals, and the intention is to try to mix them with the score of buffalo which have been purchased out of the Flat Head Lake and Texas Panhandle herds. The buffalo were put within a wire fence, which, when it was built, was found to have included both black-tail and white-tail deer. A bull elk was also put in with them at one time—he having met with some accident which made the Major and Buffalo Jones bring him in to doctor him. When he recovered his health he became very cross. Not only would he attack men, but also buffalo, even the old and surly master bull, thumping them savagely with his antlers if they did anything to which he objected. When I reached the post and dismounted at the Major's house, I supposed my experiences with wild beasts for the day were ended; but this was an error. The quarters of the officers and men and the various hotel buildings, stables, residences of the civilian officials, etc., almost completely surround the big parade ground at the post, near the middle of which stands the flag-pole, while the gun used for morning and evening salutes is well off to one side. There are large gaps between some of the buildings, and Major Pitcher informed me that throughout the winter he had been leaving alfalfa on the parade grounds, and that numbers of black-tail deer had been in the habit of visiting it every day, sometimes as many as seventy being on the parade ground at once. As springtime came on the numbers diminished. However, in mid-afternoon, while I was writing in my room in Major Pitcher's house, on looking out of the window I saw five deer on the parade ground. They were as tame as so many Alderney cows, and when I walked out I got up to within twenty yards of them without any difficulty. It was most amusing to see them as the time approached for the sunset gun to be fired. The notes of the trumpeter attracted their attention at once. They all looked at him eagerly. One then resumed feeding, and paid no attention whatever either to the bugle, the gun or the flag. The other four, however, watched the preparations for firing the gun with an intent gaze, and at the sound of the report gave two or three jumps; then instantly wheeling, looked up at the flag as it came down. This they seemed to regard as something rather more suspicious than the gun, and they remained very much on the alert until the ceremony was over. Once it was finished, they resumed feeding as if nothing had happened. Before it was dark they trotted away from the parade ground back to the mountains.
The next day we rode off to the Yellowstone River, camping some miles below Cottonwood Creek. It was a very pleasant camp. Major Pitcher, an old friend, had a first-class pack train, so that we were as comfortable as possible, and on such a trip there could be no pleasanter or more interesting companion than John Burroughs—"Oom John," as we soon grew to call him. Where our tents were pitched the bottom of the valley was narrow, the mountains rising steep and cliff-broken on either side. There were quite a number of black-tail in the valley, which were tame and unsuspicious, although not nearly as much so as those in the immediate neighborhood of the Mammoth Hot Springs. One mid-afternoon three of them swam across the river a hundred yards above our camp. But the characteristic animals of the region were the elk—the wapiti. They were certainly more numerous than when I was last through the Park twelve years before.
In the summer the elk spread all over the interior of the Park. As winter approaches they divide, some going north and others south. The southern bands, which, at a guess, may possibly include ten thousand individuals, winter out of the Park, for the most part in Jackson's Hole—though of course here and there within the limits of the Park a few elk may spend both winter and summer in an unusually favorable location. It was the members of the northern band that I met. During the winter time they are very stationary, each band staying within a very few miles of the same place, and from their size and the open nature of their habitat it is almost as easy to count them as if they were cattle. From a spur of Bison Peak one day, Major Pitcher, the guide Elwood Hofer, John Burroughs and I spent about four hours with the glasses counting and estimating the different herds within sight. After most careful work and cautious reduction of estimates in each case to the minimum the truth would permit, we reckoned three thousand head of elk, all lying or feeding and all in sight at the same time. An estimate of some fifteen thousand for the number of elk in these northern bands cannot be far wrong. These bands do not go out of the Park at all, but winter just within its northern boundary. At the time when we saw them, the snow had vanished from the bottom of the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains, but grew into continuous sheets further up their sides. The elk were for the most part found up on the snow slopes, occasionally singly or in small gangs—more often in bands of from fifty to a couple of hundred. The larger bulls were highest up the mountains and generally in small troops by themselves, although occasionally one or two would be found associating with a big herd of cows, yearlings, and two-year-olds. Many of the bulls had shed their antlers; many had not. During the winter the elk had evidently done much browsing, but at this time they were grazing almost exclusively, and seemed by preference to seek out the patches of old grass which were last left bare by the retreating snow. The bands moved about very little, and if one were seen one day it was generally possible to find it within a few hundred yards of the same spot the next day, and certainly not more than a mile or two off. There were severe frosts at night, and occasionally light flurries of snow; but the hardy beasts evidently cared nothing for any but heavy storms, and seemed to prefer to lie in the snow rather than upon the open ground. They fed at irregular hours throughout the day, just like cattle; one band might be lying down while another was feeding. While traveling they usually went almost in single file. Evidently the winter had weakened them, and they were not in condition for running; for on the one or two occasions when I wanted to see them close up I ran right into them on horseback, both on level plains and going up hill along the sides of rather steep mountains. One band in particular I practically rounded up for John Burroughs—finally getting them to stand in a huddle while he and I sat on our horses less than fifty yards off. After they had run a little distance they opened their mouths wide and showed evident signs of distress.
We came across a good many carcasses. Two, a bull and a cow, had died from scab. Over half the remainder had evidently perished from cold or starvation. The others, including a bull, three cows and a score of yearlings, had been killed by cougars. In the Park the cougar is at present their only animal foe. The cougars were preying on nothing but elk in the Yellowstone Valley, and kept hanging about the neighborhood of the big bands. Evidently they usually selected some outlying yearling, stalked it as it lay or as it fed, and seized it by the head and throat. The bull which they killed was in a little open valley by himself, many miles from any other elk. The cougar which killed it, judging from its tracks, was a very large male. As the elk were evidently rather too numerous for the feed, I do not think the cougars were doing any damage.
Coyotes are plentiful, but the elk evidently have no dread of them. One day I crawled up to within fifty yards of a band of elk lying down. A coyote was walking about among them, and beyond an occasional look they paid no heed to him. He did not venture to go within fifteen or twenty paces of any one of them. In fact, except the cougar, I saw but one living thing attempt to molest the elk. This was a golden eagle. We saw several of these great birds. On one occasion we had ridden out to the foot of a great sloping mountain side, dotted over with bands and strings of elk amounting in the aggregate probably to a thousand head. Most of the bands were above the snow line—some appearing away back toward the ridge crests, and looking as small as mice. There was one band well below the snow line, and toward this we rode. While the elk were not shy or wary, in the sense that a hunter would use the words, they were by no means as familiar as the deer; and this particular band of elk, some twenty or thirty in all, watched us with interest as we approached. When we were still half a mile off they suddenly started to run toward us, evidently frightened by something. They ran quartering, and when about four hundred yards away we saw that an eagle was after them. Soon it swooped, and a yearling in the rear, weakly, and probably frightened by the swoop, turned a complete somersault, and when it recovered its feet, stood still. The great bird followed the rest of the band across a little ridge, beyond which they disappeared. Then it returned, soaring high in the heavens, and after two or three wide circles, swooped down at the solitary yearling, its legs hanging down. We halted at two hundred yards to see the end. But the eagle could not quite make up its mind to attack. Twice it hovered within a foot or two of the yearling's head—again flew off and again returned. Finally the yearling trotted off after the rest of the band, and the eagle returned to the upper air. Later we found the carcass of a yearling, with two eagles, not to mention ravens and magpies, feeding on it; but I could not tell whether they had themselves killed the yearling or not.
Here and there in the region where the elk were abundant we came upon horses which for some reason had been left out through the winter. They were much wilder than the elk. Evidently the Yellowstone Park is a natural nursery and breeding ground of the elk, which here, as said above, far outnumber all the other game put together. In the winter, if they cannot get to open water, they eat snow; but in several places where there had been springs which kept open all winter, we could see by the tracks they had been regularly used by bands of elk. The men working at the new road along the face of the cliffs beside the Yellowstone River near Tower Falls informed me that in October enormous droves of elk coming from the interior of the Park and traveling northward to the lower lands had crossed the Yellowstone just above Tower Falls. Judging by their description the elk had crossed by thousands in an uninterrupted stream, the passage taking many hours. In fact nowadays these Yellowstone elk are, with the exception of the Arctic caribou, the only American game which at times travel in immense droves like the buffalo of the old days.
A couple of days after leaving Cottonwood Creek—where we had spent several days—we camped at the Yellowstone Canon below Tower Falls. Here we saw a second band of mountain sheep, numbering only eight—none of them old rams. We were camped on the west side of the canon; the sheep had their abode on the opposite side, where they had spent the winter. It has recently been customary among some authorities, especially the English hunters and naturalists who have written of the Asiatic sheep, to speak as if sheep were naturally creatures of the plains rather than mountain climbers. I know nothing of old world sheep, but the Rocky Mountain bighorn is to the full as characteristic a mountain animal, in every sense of the word, as the chamois, and, I think, as the ibex. These sheep were well known to the road builders, who had spent the winter in the locality. They told me they never went back on the plains, but throughout the winter had spent their days and nights on the top of the cliff and along its face. This cliff was an alternation of sheer precipices and very steep inclines. When coated with ice it would be difficult to imagine an uglier bit of climbing; but throughout the winter, and even in the wildest storms, the sheep had habitually gone down it to drink at the water below. When we first saw them they were lying sunning themselves on the edge of the canyon, where the rolling grassy country behind it broke off into the sheer descent. It was mid-afternoon and they were under some pines. After a while they got up and began to graze, and soon hopped unconcernedly down the side of the cliff until they were half way to the bottom. They then grazed along the sides, and spent some time licking at a place where there was evidently a mineral deposit. Before dark they all lay down again on a steeply inclined jutting spur midway between the top and bottom of the canyon.
Next morning I thought I would like to see them close up, so I walked down three or four miles below where the canyon ended, crossed the stream, and came up the other side until I got on what was literally the stamping ground of the sheep. Their tracks showed that they had spent their time for many weeks, and probably for all the winter, within a very narrow radius. For perhaps a mile and a half, or two miles at the very outside, they had wandered to and fro on the summit of the canyon, making what was almost a well-beaten path; always very near and usually on the edge of the cliff, and hardly ever going more than a few yards back into the grassy plain-and-hill country. Their tracks and dung covered the ground. They had also evidently descended into the depths of the canon wherever there was the slightest break or even lowering in the upper line of basalt cliffs. Although mountain sheep often browse in winter, I saw but few traces of browsing here; probably on the sheer cliff side they always got some grazing. When I spied the band they were lying not far from the spot in which they had lain the day before, and in the same position on the brink of the canon. They saw me and watched me with interest when I was two hundred yards off, but they let me get up within forty yards and sit down on a large stone to look at them, without running off. Most of them were lying down, but a couple were feeding steadily throughout the time I watched them. Suddenly one took the alarm and dashed straight over the cliff, the others all following at once. I ran after them to the edge in time to see the last yearling drop off the edge of the basalt cliff and stop short on the sheer slope below, while the stones dislodged by his hoofs rattled down the canon. They all looked up at me with great interest and then strolled off to the edge of a jutting spur and lay down almost directly underneath me and some fifty yards off. That evening on my return to camp we watched the band make its way right down to the river bed, going over places where it did not seem possible a four-footed creature could pass. They halted to graze here and there, and down the worst places they went very fast with great bounds. It was a marvelous exhibition of climbing.
After we had finished this horseback trip we went on sleds and skis to the upper Geyser Basin and the Falls of the Yellowstone. Although it was the third week in April, the snow was still several feet deep, and only thoroughly trained snow horses could have taken the sleighs along, while around the Yellowstone Falls it was possible to move only on snowshoes. There was very little life in those woods. We saw an occasional squirrel, rabbit or marten; and in the open meadows around the hot waters there were geese and ducks, and now and then a coyote. Around camp Clark's crows and Stellar's jays, and occasionally magpies came to pick at the refuse; and of course they were accompanied by the whiskey acks with their usual astounding familiarity. At Norris Geyser Basin there was a perfect chorus of bird music from robins, purple finches, uncos and mountain bluebirds. In the woods there were mountain chickadees and nuthatches of various kinds, together with an occasional woodpecker. In the northern country we had come across a very few blue grouse and ruffed grouse, both as tame as possible. We had seen a pigmy owl no larger than a robin sitting on top of a pine in broad daylight, and uttering at short intervals a queer un-owllike cry.
The birds that interested us most were the solitaires, and especially the dippers or water-ousels. We were fortunate enough to hear the solitaires sing not only when perched on trees, but on the wing, soaring over a great canon. The dippers are to my mind well-nigh the most attractive of all our birds. They stay through the winter in the Yellowstone because the waters are in many places open. We heard them singing cheerfully, their ringing melody having a certain suggestion of the winter wren's. Usually they sang while perched on some rock on the edge or in the middle of the stream; but sometimes on the wing. In the open places the western meadow larks were also uttering their singular beautiful songs. No bird escaped John Burroughs' eye; no bird note escaped his ear.
On the last day of my stay it was arranged that I should ride down from Mammoth Hot Springs to the town of Gardiner, just outside the Park limits, and there make an address at the laying of the corner stone of the arch by which the main road is to enter the Park. Some three thousand people had gathered to attend the ceremonies. A little over a mile from Gardiner we came down out of the hills to the flat plain; from the hills we could see the crowd gathered around the arch waiting for me to come. We put spurs to our horses and cantered rapidly toward the appointed place, and on the way we passed within forty yards of a score of black-tails, which merely moved to one side and looked at us, and within a hundred yards of half a dozen antelope. To any lover of nature it could not help being a delightful thing to see the wild and timid creatures of the wilderness rendered so tame; and their tameness in the immediate neighborhood of Gardiner, on the very edge of the Park, spoke volumes for the patriotic good sense of the citizens of Montana. Major Pitcher informed me that both the Montana and Wyoming people were co-operating with him in zealous fashion to preserve the game and put a stop to poaching. For their attitude in this regard they deserve the cordial thanks of all Americans interested in these great popular playgrounds, where bits of the old wilderness scenery and the old wilderness life are to be kept unspoiled for the benefit of our children's children. Eastern people, and especially eastern sportsmen, need to keep steadily in mind the fact that the westerners who live in the neighborhood of the forest preserves are the men who in the last resort will determine whether or not these preserves are to be permanent. They cannot in the long run be kept as forest and game reservations unless the settlers roundabout believe in them and heartily support them; and the rights of these settlers must be carefully safeguarded, and they must be shown that the movement is really in their interest. The eastern sportsman who fails to recognize these facts can do little but harm by advocacy of forest reserves.
It was in the interior of the Park, at the hotels beside the lake, the falls, and the various geyser basins, that we would have seen the bears had the season been late enough; but unfortunately the bears were still for the most part hibernating. We saw two or three tracks, and found one place where a bear had been feeding on a dead elk, but the animals themselves had not yet begun to come about the hotels. Nor were the hotels open. No visitors had previously entered the Park in the winter or early spring—the scouts and other employees being the only ones who occasionally traverse it. I was sorry not to see the bears, for the effect of protection upon bear life in the Yellowstone has been one of the phenomena of natural history. Not only have they grown to realize that they are safe, but, being natural scavengers and foul feeders, they have come to recognize the garbage heaps of the hotels as their special sources of food supply. Throughout the summer months they come to all the hotels in numbers, usually appearing in the late afternoon or evening, and they have become as indifferent to the presence of men as the deer themselves—some of them very much more indifferent. They have now taken their place among the recognized sights of the Park, and the tourists are nearly as much interested in them as in the geysers.
It was amusing to read the proclamations addressed to the tourists by the Park management, in which they were solemnly warned that the bears were really wild animals, and that they must on no account be either fed or teased. It is curious to think that the descendants of the great grizzlies which were the dread of the early explorers and hunters should now be semi-domesticated creatures, boldly hanging around crowded hotels for the sake of what they can pick up, and quite harmless so long as any reasonable precaution is exercised. They are much safer, for instance, than any ordinary bull or stallion, or even ram, and, in fact, there is no danger from them at all unless they are encouraged to grow too familiar or are in some way molested. Of course among the thousands of tourists there is a percentage of thoughtless and foolish people; and when such people go out in the afternoon to look at the bears feeding they occasionally bring themselves into jeopardy by some senseless act. The black bears and the cubs of the bigger bears can readily be driven up trees, and some of the tourists occasionally do this. Most of the animals never think of resenting it; but now and then one is run across which has its feelings ruffled by the performance. In the summer of 1902 the result proved disastrous to a too inquisitive tourist. He was traveling with his wife, and at one of the hotels they went out toward the garbage pile to see the bears feeding. The only bear in sight was a large she, which, as it turned out, was in a bad temper because another party of tourists a few minutes before had been chasing her cubs up a tree. The man left his wife and walked toward the bear to see how close he could get. When he was some distance off she charged him, whereupon he bolted back toward his wife. The bear overtook him, knocked him down and bit him severely. But the man's wife, without hesitation, attacked the bear with that thoroughly feminine weapon, an umbrella, and frightened her off. The man spent several weeks in the Park hospital before he recovered. Perhaps the following telegram sent by the manager of the Lake Hotel to Major Pitcher illustrates with sufficient clearness the mutual relations of the bears, the tourists, and the guardians of the public weal in the Park. The original was sent me by Major Pitcher. It runs:
"Lake. 7-27-'03. Major Pitcher, Yellowstone: As many as seventeen bears in an evening appear on my garbage dump. To-night eight or ten. Campers and people not of my hotel throw things at them to make them run away. I cannot, unless there personally, control this. Do you think you could detail a trooper to be there every evening from say six o'clock until dark and make people remain behind danger line laid out by Warden Jones? Otherwise I fear some accident. The arrest of one or two of these campers might help. My own guests do pretty well as they are told. James Barton Key. 9 A.M."
Major Pitcher issued the order as requested.
At times the bears get so bold that they take to making inroads on the kitchen. One completely terrorized a Chinese cook. It would drive him off and then feast upon whatever was left behind. When a bear begins to act in this way or to show surliness it is sometimes necessary to shoot it. Other bears are tamed until they will feed out of the hand, and will come at once if called. Not only have some of the soldiers and scouts tamed bears in this fashion, but occasionally a chambermaid or waiter girl at one of the hotels has thus developed a bear as a pet.
The accompanying photographs not only show bears very close up, with men standing by within a few yards of them, but they also show one bear being fed from the piazza by a cook, and another standing beside a particular friend, a chambermaid in one of the hotels. In these photographs it will be seen that some are grizzlies and some black bears.
This whole episode of bear life in the Yellowstone is so extraordinary that it will be well worth while for any man who has the right powers and enough time, to make a complete study of the life and history of the Yellowstone bears. Indeed, nothing better could be done by some one of our outdoor fauna naturalists than to spend at least a year in the Yellowstone, and to study the life habits of all the wild creatures therein. A man able to do this, and to write down accurately and interestingly what he had seen, would make a contribution of permanent value to our nature literature.
In May, after leaving the Yellowstone, I visited the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and spent three days camping in the Yosemite Park with John Muir. It is hard to make comparisons among different kinds of scenery, all of them very grand and very beautiful; yet personally to me the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, strange and desolate, terrible and awful in its sublimity, stands alone and unequaled. I very earnestly wish that Congress would make it a national park, and I am sure that such course would meet the approbation of the people of Arizona. As to the Yosemite Valley, if the people of California desire it, as many of them certainly do, it also should be taken by the National Government to be kept as a national park, just as the surrounding country, including some of the groves of giant trees, is now kept.
John Muir and I, with two packers and three pack mules, spent a delightful three days in the Yosemite. The first night was clear, and we lay in the open on beds of soft fir boughs among the giant sequoias. It was like lying in a great and solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by hand of man. Just at nightfall I heard, among other birds, thrushes which I think were Rocky Mountain hermits—the appropriate choir for such a place of worship. Next day we went by trail through the woods, seeing some deer—which were not wild—as well as mountain quail and blue grouse. In the afternoon we struck snow, and had considerable difficulty in breaking our own trails. A snow storm came on toward evening, but we kept warm and comfortable in a grove of the splendid silver firs—rightly named magnificent, near the brink of the wonderful Yosemite Valley. Next day we clambered down into it and at nightfall camped in its bottom, facing the giant cliffs over which the waterfalls thundered.
Surely our people do not understand even yet the rich heritage that is theirs. There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, its groves of giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the three Tetons; and the representatives of the people should see to it that they are preserved for the people forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.
The Zoology of North American Big Game
Among the many questions asked of the naturalist by an inquiring public, few come up more persistently than "What is the difference between a bison and a buffalo; and which is the American animal?"
The interest which so many people find in questions such as this must serve as a justification for the present paper, which proposes no more than to put into concise form what is known of the zoological relations of the animals which come within the special interest of the Boone and Crockett Club. In doing this, conclusions must, as a rule, be stated with few of the facts upon which they rest, for to give more than the plainest of these would be to far outrun the possible limits of space, and would furthermore lead into technical details which to most readers are obscure and wearisome.
Anyone who consults Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary will be illuminated by the definition of camelopard: "An Abyssinian animal taller than an elephant, but not so thick," and even but a few years back all that was considered necessary to answer the question, "what is a bison?" was to state that it is a wild ox with a shaggy mane and a hump on its shoulders, and the thing was done; but in our own time a satisfactory answer must take account of its relationship to other beasts, for we have come to believe that the differences between animals are simply the blank spaces upon the chart of universal life, against which are traced the resemblances, which, as we follow them back into remote periods of geologic time, reveal to us definite lines of succession with structural change, and these, correctly interpreted, are nothing less than actual lines of blood relationship. To know what an animal is, therefore, we must know something of its family tree.
It is perhaps well to emphasize the need of correct interpretation, for there are no bridges on the paths of palaeontology, and as we go back, more than one great gap occurs between series of strata, marking periods of intervening time which there is no means of measuring, but during which we know that the progress of change in the animals then living never ceased. When such a break is reached, the course of phylogeny is like picking up an interrupted trail, with the additional complication that the one we find is never quite like the one we left, and it is in such conditions that the systematist must apply his knowledge of the general progressive tendencies through the ages of change, to the determination of the particular changes he should expect to find in the special case before him, and so be enabled to recognize the footprints he is in search of. The genius to do this has been given to few, but in their hands the results have often been brilliant.
Back in the very earliest Tertiary deposits, and in all certainty even earlier, a group of comparatively small mammals was extensively spread through America, and apparently less widely in Europe, characterized by a primitive form of foot structure, each of which had five complete digits, the whole sole being placed upon the ground, as in the animals we call plantigrade. The grinding surfaces of their molar teeth were also primitive, bearing none of the complicated, curved crests and ridges possessed by present ruminants, but instead they had conical cusps, usually not more than three to a tooth; this tritubercular style of molar crown being about the earliest known in true mammals.
In the opinion of many palaeontologists, the ancestors of the present hoofed beasts, or ungulates, were contained among these Condylarthra, as they were named by Prof. Cope.
Of course, these early mammals are known to us only by their fossil and mostly fragmentary skeletons, but it may be said that at least in the ungulate line, the successive geological periods show steady structural progression in certain directions. Of great importance are a decrease in the number of functional digits; a gradual elevation of the heel, so that their modern descendants walk on the tips of their toes, instead of on the whole sole; a constant tendency to the development of deeply grooved and interlocked joints in place of shallow bearing surfaces; and to a complex pattern of the molar crowns instead of the simple type mentioned. To this may be added as the most important factor of all in survival, that these changes have progressed together with an increase in the size of the brain and in the convolutions of its outer layer.
The Condylarthra seem to have gone out of existence before the time of the middle Eocene, but before this they had become separated into the two great divisions of odd-toed and even-toed ungulates, into which all truly hoofed beasts now living fall.
The first group (Perissodactyla) has always one or three toes functionally developed, either the third, or third, second and fourth, the two others having entirely disappeared, except for a remnant of the fifth in the forefoot of tapirs. They have retained some at least of the upper incisor teeth, and, except in some rhinoceroses, the canines are also left; the molars and premolars are practically alike in all recent species, and in all of which we know the soft parts, the stomach has but one compartment, and there is an enormous caecum. It is probable that they took rise earlier than their split-footed relations, and their Tertiary remains are far more numerous, but their tendency is toward disappearance, and among existing mammals they are represented only by horses, asses, rhinoceroses, and tapirs.
Contrasted with these, Artiodactyla have always an even number of functional digits, the third and fourth reaching the ground symmetrically, bearing the weight and forming the "split hoof;" the second and fifth remain, in most cases, as mere vestiges, showing externally as the accessory hoofs or dewclaws; in the hippopotamus alone they are fully developed and the animal has a four-toed foot. In deer and bovine animals the incisors and frequently the canines have disappeared from the upper jaw, and the molars are unlike the premolars in having two lobes instead of one. The stomach is always more or less complex; at its extreme reaching the ruminant type with four compartments, in association with which is a caecum reduced in size and simple in form. Nearly all have horns or antlers, at least in one sex.
Most split-hoofed animals are ruminants, but there is a small remnant, probably of early types, which are not. The present ungulates may be summed up in this way:
Odd-toed: (Perissodactyla)— Horse, Ass, Rhinoceros, Tapir.
Non-ruminants— Hippopotamus, Swine, Peccaries.
Ruminants— Camels, Llamas, Chevrotains, Giraffe, Antelopes, Sheep, Goats, Musk-ox, Oxen, Deer.
The non-ruminant artiodactyls need not detain us long. Hippopotamuses are little more than large pigs with four toes; they were never American, though many species, some very small, are found in the European Tertiary. The two existing species are African.
In the western hemisphere swine are represented by the peccaries, differing from them chiefly in having six less teeth, one less accessory toe on the hind foot, and in a stomach of more complex character. Peccaries also have the metapodial bones supporting the two functional digits fused together at their upper ends, forming an imperfect "cannon bone," which is a characteristic of practically all the ruminants, but of no other hoofed beasts. One species only enters the United States along the Mexican border.
All non-ruminant ungulates have from four to six incisors in the upper jaw; the canines are present, and sometimes, as in the wart hogs, reach an extraordinary size.
Coming now to the ruminants, all digits except the third and fourth have disappeared from camels and llamas, and the nails on these are limited to their upper surface without forming a hoof, the under side being a broad pad, upon which they tread. No camel-like beasts have inhabited North America since the Pliocene age. Chevrotains, or muis deer (Tragulidae), are not deer in any true sense, as they have but three compartments to the stomach; antlers are absent and in their place large and protruding canine teeth are developed in the upper jaw, and the lateral metacarpal bones are complete throughout their length, instead of being represented by a mere remnant. They are the smallest of ungulates, and inhabit only portions of the Indo-Malayan region. Camels also have upper canines, and the outer, upper incisors as well.
The giraffe is separated from all living ungulates by the primitive character of its so-called "horns," which are not horns in the usual sense, but simply bony prominences of the skull covered with hair. Some of the earliest deer-like animals seem to have had simple or slightly branched antlers which were not shed, and which there is reason to believe were also hairy, and in these, as well as in other characters, giraffes and the early deer may not have been far apart. The "okapi," Sir Harry Johnston's late discovery in the Uganda forests, seems to have come from the same ancestral stock, but the giraffe has no other existing relatives.
The true deer, to which we shall return, are readily enough distinguished from the ox tribe and its allies by their solid and more or less branched antlers, usually confined to males, and periodically shed.
So, through this rapid survey, we have dropped out of the hoofed beasts all but the bovines and their near allies, and are thus far advanced toward our definition of a bison, but from this point we shall not find it easy to draw sharp distinctions, for while the Bovidae, as a whole, are well enough distinguished from all other animals, their characteristics are so much mixed among themselves that it is hardly possible to find any one or more striking features peculiar to one group, and for most of them recourse must be had to associations of a number of lesser characters.
Oxen, antelopes, sheep and goats agree in having hollow horns of material similar to that of which hair and nails are formed, permanently fixed upon the skull in all but one species; none of them have more than the two middle digits functionally developed, one on each side of the axis of the leg; none have the lower ends remaining of the meta-podial bones belonging to the two accessory digits; and none have either incisor or canine teeth in the upper jaw.
From animals so constructed we may first take out goats and sheep, in which the female horns are much smaller than those of males, and in some species are even absent. In nearly all of them the horns are noticeably compressed in section, either triangular or sub-triangular near the base, and are directed sometimes outwardly from the head with a circular sweep; at others with a backward curve, often spirally. The muzzle is always hairy; there is no small accessory column on the inner side of the upper molars, found always in oxen and in some antelopes; the tail is short, and scent glands are present between the digits of some or all the feet.
Now, as to the perplexing animals popularly known as antelopes. No definition could be framed which would include them all in one group, for every subordinate character seems to be present in some and absent in others, so that the most that can be done with this vast assemblage is to arrange its contents in series of genera, which may or may not be called sub-families, but which probably correspond in some degree to their real affinities. We can only say of any one of them that it is an antelope because it is not a sheep, nor a goat, nor an ox. They concern us here only to be eliminated, for they are not American, our prong-buck having a sub-family all to itself, as we shall see later, and the so-called "white goat" being usually regarded as neither goat nor truly antelope.
Within the limits of the real bovine animals, four quite distinct types may be made out, chiefly by the position of the horns upon the skull and by the shape of the horns themselves. There are also differences in the relations of the nasal and premaxillary bones, the development of the neural spines of the vertebrae, and the hairy covering of the body.
In the genus Bos the horns are placed high up on the vertex of the skull, which forms a marked transverse ridge from which the hinder portion falls sharply away. The horns are nearly circular in section and almost smooth; usually they curve outward, then upward and often inward at the tip; the premaxillaries are long and generally reach to the nasals, and the anterior dorsal vertebrae are without sharply elongated spines, so that the line of the back is nearly straight. These, the true oxen, as they are sometimes termed, now exist only in domesticated breeds of cattle.
In the gaur oxen (Bibos) the horns are situated as in Bos, high up on the vertex, but are more elliptical in section; the premaxillaries are short; the dorsal vertebrae, from the third to the eleventh, bear elongated spines which produce a hump reaching nearly to the middle of the back; the tail is shorter, and the hair is short all over the body. The three species—gaur, gayal and banteng—inhabit Indo-Malayan countries, and all of them are dark brown with white stockings.
The buffaloes (Bubalus) are large and clumsy animals with horns more or less compressed or flattened at their bases, set low down on the vertex, which does not show the high transverse ridge of true oxen and gaurs. In old bulls of the African species the horns meet at their base and completely cover the forehead. In the arni of India they are enormously long. The dorsal spines are not much elongated, and there is no distinct hump; the premaxillae are long enough to reach the nasals. Hair is scanty all over the body, and old animals are almost wholly bare. The small and interesting anoa of Celebes, and the tamarao of Mindoro, are nearly related in all important respects to the Indian buffalo, and the carabao, used for draught and burden in the Philippines, belongs to a long domesticated race of the same animal.
Finally, in the genus Bison the horns are below the vertex as in buffaloes, but are set far apart at the base, which is cylindrical; they are short and their curve is forward, upward and inward; the anterior dorsal and the last cervical vertebrae have long spines which bear a distinct hump on the shoulders; the premaxillae are short and never reach the nasals; there are fourteen, or occasionally fifteen, pairs of ribs, all other oxen having but thirteen, and there is a heavy mane about the neck and shoulders. The yak of central Asia is very bison-like in some respects, but in others departs in the direction of oxen.
So at last, group by group, we have gone through the ungulates, and the bisons alone are left, and as the American animal has short, incurved horns, set low down on the skull and far apart at the base; premaxillaries falling short of the nasals; the last cervical and the anterior dorsal vertebrae with spines; fourteen pairs of ribs, and a mane covering the shoulders, we conclude that it is a bison, and as the same characteristics with minor variations are shown by the European species, often, but wrongly, called "aurochs," we say that these two alone of existing Bovidae are bisons, with the yak as a somewhat questionable relative.
In all essential respects the two bisons are very similar, but minute comparison shows that the European species, Bison bonasus, has a wider and flatter forehead, bearing longer and more slender horns, and all the other distinctive features are less pronounced. In the American species, Bison bison, the pelvis is less elevated, producing the characteristic slope of the hindquarters. It is a coincidence that the two regions originally inhabited by the bisons are those in which the white races of men have to the greatest extent thrown their restless energies into the struggle for existence, with the result that extinction to nearly the same degree has overtaken these two near cousins among oxen. A few wild members of the European species still exist in the Caucasus, as a few of the American are left in British America, but elsewhere both exist only under protection.
The carefully kept statistics of the Bielowitza herd in Grodno, western Russia, which includes nearly all but the few wild ones, shows that between 1833 and 1857 they increased in number from 768 to 1,898, but from this maximum the decrease has been constant, with trifling halts, until in 1892 less than five hundred were left; so that even if the Peace River bison are counted with the remnant of the American species, it is probable that the survivors of each race are about equal in number.
It is true that the number of our own species has lately been placed as high as a thousand, but even if these figures are correct, the seeds of decay from internal causes, such as inbreeding and the degeneration of restraint, are already sown, and the inevitable end of the race is not far off.
The Peace River, or woodland, bison has lately been separated as a sub-species (B. bison athabascae), distinguished from the southern and better known form by superior size, a wider forehead, longer, more slender and incurved horns, and by a thicker and softer coat, which is also darker in color. Now, it is an interesting fact that a fossil bison skull from the lower Pliocene of India resembles the present European species, and in later geological times very similar bisons closely allied to each other, if not identical, inhabited all northern regions, including America. These were large animals with wide skulls, and there is little doubt that from this circumpolar form came both of the bisons now inhabiting Europe and America. Out of some half dozen fossil bison which have been described from America, none earlier than the latest Tertiary, Bison latifrons from the Pleistocene seems likely to have been the immediate ancestor of recent American species, and as the one skull of the woodland bison which has been examined resembles both latifrons and the European species more than the plains species does, it seems probable that these two more nearly represent the primitive bison, of which the former inhabitant of the prairies is a more modified descendant.
The process of elimination has at last led to this outline definition of a bison, but among the ungulates we have passed over, there are certain others which concern us because they are American.
Sheep and goats agree together and differ from oxen in being usually of smaller size; the tail is shorter, the horns of females are much smaller than those of males, they lack the accessory column on the inner side of the upper molars, and the cannon bone is longer and more slender; but when it comes to a comparison of the one with the other, it is by no means always easy to tell the difference. It is true that the early Greeks seem to have had a rough and ready rule under which mistakes were not easy, for Aristotle tells us "Alcmaeon is mistaken when he says that goats breathe through their ears," but the severely practical methods of our own day leave us little but some very minute points of difference. One of the best of these lies in the shape of the basi-occipital bone, but naturally this can be observed only in the prepared skull. The terms often employed to denote difference in the horns can have only a general application, for they break down in certain species in which the two groups approach each other. The following table expresses some fairly definite points of separation:
SHEEP (Ovis). GOAT (Capra).
1. Muzzle hairy except between 1. Muzzle entirely hairy. and just above the nostrils.
2. Interdigital glands on all 2. Interdigital glands, when the feet. present, only on fore feet.
3. Suborbital gland and pit 3. Suborbital gland and pit usually present. never present.
4. No beard nor caprine 4. Male with a beard and smell in male. caprine smell.
5. Horns with coarse transverse 5. Horns with fine transverse wrinkles; yellowish striations, or bold knobs or brown; sub-triangular in front; blackish; in male in male, spreading outward more compressed or angular, and forward with a sweeping backward circular sweep, points with a scythe-like curve or turned outward and forward spirally, points turned upward and backward.
These features are distinctive as between most sheep and most goats, but the Barbary wild sheep (Ovis tragelaphus) has no suborbital gland or pit, a goat-like peculiarity which it shares with the Himalayan bharal (Ovis nahura), in which the horns resemble closely those of a goat from the eastern Caucasus called tur (Capra cylindricornis), which for its part has the horns somewhat sheep-like and a very small beard. This same bharal has the goat-like habit of raising itself upon its hind legs before butting.
Both groups are a comparatively late development of the bovine stock, as they do not certainly appear before the upper Pliocene of Europe and Asia, and even at a later date their remains are not plentiful. Goats appear to have been rather the earlier, but are entirely absent from America.
The number of distinct species of sheep in our fauna is a matter of too much uncertainty to be treated with any sort of authority at this time. Most of us grew up in the belief that there was but one, the well-known mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis), but seven new species and sub-species have been produced from the systematic mill within recent years, six of them since 1897. It is no part of the purpose of the present paper to dwell upon much vexed questions of specific distinctness, and it will only be pointed out here that the ultimate validity of most of these supposed forms will depend chiefly upon the exactness of the conception of species which will replace among zoologists the vague ideas of the present time. Whatever the conclusion may be, it seems probable that some degree of distinction will be accorded to, at least, one or two Alaskan forms.
As sheep probably came into America from Asia during the Pleistocene, at a time when Bering's Strait was closed by land, it might be expected that those now found here would show relationship to the Kamtschatkan species (Ovis nivicola); and such is indeed the case, while furthermore, in the small size of the suborbital gland and pit, and in comparative smoothness of the horns, both species approach the bharal of Thibet and India, which in these respects is goat-like.
When one considers the poverty of the new world in bovine ruminants, it seems strange that three such anomalous forms should have fallen to its share as the prong-horn, the white goat and the musk-ox, of none of which have we the complete history; two of the number being entirely isolated species, sometimes regarded as the types of separate families.
The prong-horn is a curious compound. It resembles sheep in the minute structure of its hair, in its hairy muzzle, and in having interdigital glands on all its feet. Like goats, it has no sub-orbital gland nor distinct pit. Like the chamois, it has a gland below and behind the ear, the secretion of which has a caprine odor. It has also glands on the rump. It is like the giraffe in total absence of the accessory hoofs, even to the metapodials which support them. It differs from all hollow horned ungulates in having deciduous horns with a fork or anterior branch. There is not the least similarity, however, between these horns and the bony deciduous antlers of deer, for, like those of all bovines, they are composed of agglutinated hairs, set on a bony core projecting from the frontal region of the skull.
It is well known that these horn sheaths are at times shed and reproduced, but the exact regularity with which the process takes place is by no means certain, although such direct evidence as there is goes to prove that it occurs annually in the autumn. Prong-bucks have shed on eight occasions in the Zoological Gardens at Philadelphia, five times by the same animal, which reached the gardens in October, 1899, and has shed each year early in November, the last time on October 22, 1903, and the writer has seen one fine head killed about November 5 in a wild state, on which the horn-sheaths were loose and ready to drop off.
[Footnote 1: It is interesting to note that the first pair shed measured 7-1/4 inches, on the anterior curve; the second pair 9-1/2, and the last three 11 inches each. The largest horns ever measured by the writer were those of a buck killed late in November, 1892, near Marathon, Texas, and were 15-3/4 inches in vertical height and 21 along the curve.]
But few of these delicate animals have lived long enough in captivity to permit study of the same individual through a course of years, and the scarcity of observations made upon them in a wild state is remarkable. That irregularity in the process would not be without analogy, is shown by the case of the Indian sambur deer, of which there is evidence from such authority as that king of sportsmen, Sir Samuel Baker, and others, that the shedding does not always occur at the same season, nor is it always annual in the same buck; and by Pore David's deer, which has been known to shed twice in one year.
When resemblances such as those of the prong-horn are so promiscuously distributed, the task of fixing their values in estimating affinities is not a light one, and in fact the most rational conclusion which we may draw from them is that they point back to a distant and generalized ancestor, who possessed them all, but that in the distribution of his physical estate, so to speak, these heirlooms have not come down alike to all descendants. There is again a complicating possibility that some may be no more than adaptive or analogous characters, similarly produced under like conditions of life, but quite independent of a common origin, and it is seldom that we know enough of the history of development of any species to conclude with certainty whether or not this has been the case. At all events, the prong-buck is quite alone in the world at present, and we know no fossils which unmistakably point to it, although it has been supposed that some of the later Miocene species of Cosoryx—small deer-like animals with non-deciduous horns, probably covered with hair, and molars of somewhat bovine type—may have been ancestral to it, but this is little more than a speculation. What is certain is that Antilocapra is now a completely isolated form, fully entitled to rank as a family all by itself.
In the musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus), or "sheep-ox," as the generic name given by Blainville has it, we meet with another strange and lonely form which has contributed its full share to the problems of systematic zoology. Its remote and inaccessible range has greatly retarded knowledge of its structure, and it is only within the last three years that acquaintance has been made with its soft anatomy, and at the same time with a maze of resemblances and differences toward other ruminants, that perhaps more than equals the irregularities of the prong-buck. But unlike that species, there is in the musk-ox no extreme modification, such as a deciduous horn, to separate it distinctly from the rest of the family. A recapitulation of these differences would be too minutely technical for insertion here, and it must be enough to say that while it cannot be assigned to either group, yet in the distribution of hair on the muzzle, in the presence of a small suborbital gland, in shortness of tail and the light color of its horns, it is sheep-like; in the absence of interdigital glands, the shortness and stoutness of its cannon bones, and in the presence of a small accessory inner column on the upper molars, it is bovine. But in the coarse longitudinal striation of the bases of its horns it differs from both. The shape of the horns is also peculiar. Curving outward, downward and then sharply upward, with broad, flattened bases meeting in the middle line, their outlines are not unlike those of old bulls of the African buffalo.
At the present time the musk-ox inhabits only arctic America, from Greenland westward nearly to the Mackenzie River, but its range was formerly circumpolar, and in Pleistocene times it inhabited Europe as far south as Germany and France. The musk-ox of Greenland has lately been set aside as a distinct species. The most we can say is that Ovibos is a unique form, standing perhaps somewhere between oxen and sheep, and descended from an ancient ruminant type through an ancestry of which we know nothing, for the only fossil remains which are at all distinguishable from the existing genus, are yet closely similar to it, and are no older than the Pleistocene of the central United States; in earlier periods its history is a blank about which it is useless to speculate.
The last of our three anomalies, the white, or mountain goat (Oreamnos montanus), is not as completely orphaned as the other two, for it seems quite surely to be connected with a small and peculiar series consisting of the European chamois and several species of Nemorhaedus inhabiting eastern Asia and Sumatra. These are often called mountain antelopes, or goat antelopes. So little is yet known of the soft anatomy of the white goat that we are much in the dark as to its minute resemblances, but its glandular system is certainly suggestive of the chamois, and many of its attitudes are strikingly similar. In all the points in which it approaches goats it is like some, at least, among antelopes, while in the elongated spines of the anterior dorsal vertebrae, which support the hump, and in extreme shortness of the cannon bone, it is far from goat-like. The goat idea, indeed, has little more foundation than the suggestive resemblance of the profile with its caprine beard. It is truly no goat at all, and should more properly be regarded as an aberrant antelope, if anything could be justly termed "aberrant" in an aggregation of animals, hardly any two of which agree in all respects of structure. No American fossils seem to point to Oreamnos, and as Nemorhaedus extends to Japan and eastern Siberia, it is probable that it was an Asiatic immigrant, not earlier than the Pleistocene.
From this intricate genealogical tangle one turns with relief to the deer family, where the course of development lies reasonably plain. If the rank of animals in the aristocracy of nature were to be fixed by the remoteness of the period to which we know their ancestors, the deer would out-rank their bovine cousins by a full half of the Miocene period, and the study of fossils onward from this early beginning presents few clearer lines of evidence supporting modern theories respecting the development of species, than is shown in the increasing size and complexity of the antlers in succeeding geological ages, from the simple fork of the middle Miocene to those with three prongs of the late Miocene, the four-pronged of the Pliocene, and finally to the many-branched shapes of the Pleistocene and the present age. Now it is further true that each one of these types is represented today in the mature antlers of existing deer, from the small South American species with a simple spike, up to the wapiti and red deer carrying six or eight points, and still more significant is it that the whole story is recapitulated in the growth of each individual of the higher races. The earliest cervine animals known seem to have had no antlers at all, a stage to which the fawn of the year corresponds; the subsequent normal addition in the life-history, of a tine for each year of growth until the mature antler is reached, answering with exactness to the stages of advance shown in the development-history of the race. A year of individual life is the symbol of a geological period of progression. This is a marvelous record, of which we may say—paraphrasing with Huxley the well-known saying of Voltaire—"if it had not already existed, evolution must have been invented to explain."
The least technical, and for the present purpose the most useful of the characters distinguishing existing deer from all of the bovine stock, lies in the antlers, which are solid, of bony substance, and are annually shed. They are present in the males of all species except the Chinese water deer, and the very divergent musk-deer, which probably should not be regarded as a deer at all. They are normally absent from all females except those of the genus Rangifer. Most deer have canine teeth in the upper jaw, though they are absent in the moose, in the distinctively American type and a few others. The cleaned skull always shows a large vacuity in the outer wall in front of the orbit, which prevents the lachrymal bone from reaching the nasals. No deer has a gall bladder. There are many other distinctions, but as all have exceptions they are of value only in combinations.
The earliest known deer, belonging to the genus Dremotherium, or Amphitragulus, from the middle Tertiary of France, were of small size and had four toes, canine teeth and no antlers. Their successors seem to have borne simple forked antlers or horns, probably covered with hair, and permanently fixed on the skull. Very similar animals existed in contemporaneous and later deposits in North America. From this point the course of progress is tolerably clear as to deer in general, although we are not sure of all the intermediate details—for it must not be forgotten that a series of types exhibiting progressive modifications in each succeeding geological period is quite as conclusive in pointing out the genealogy of an existing group as if we knew each individual term in the ancestral series of each of its members. Thus we do not yet know whether the peculiar antler of the distinctively American deer, of the genus Mazama, is derived from an American source or took its origin in the old world, for the fossil antlers known as Anoglochis, from the Pliocene of Europe, are quite suggestive of the Mazama style, but as nothing is known of the other skeletal details of Anoglochis, any such connection must at present be purely speculative, but the element of doubt in this special case in no way disturbs the certainty of the general conclusion that all our present Cervidae have come through distinct stages in the successive periods, from the simple types of the middle Tertiary.
The family is undoubtedly of old world origin, and for the most part belongs to the northern hemisphere, South America being the only continental area in which they are found south of the equator.
The analytical habit of mind which finds vent in the subdivision of species, is also exhibited in a tendency to break up large genera into a number of small ones, but in the present group this practice has the disadvantage of obscuring a broad distinction between the dominant types inhabiting respectively the old world and the new. The former, represented by the genus Cervus, has a brow-tine to the antlers; has the posterior portion of the nasal chamber undivided by the vertical plate of the vomer; and the upper ends only of the lateral metacarpals remain, whereas in all these particulars the typical American deer are exactly opposite. As there are objections to considering these characters as of family value, arising from the intermediate position of the circumpolar genera Alces and Rangifer, as well as the water deer and the roe, a broader meaning is given to classification by retaining the comprehensive genera Cervus and Mazama, and recognizing the subordinate divisions only as sub-genera.
The one representative of Cervus inhabiting America is the wapiti, or "elk" (C. canadensis), which is without doubt an immigrant from Asia by way of Alaska, and it may be of interest to state the grounds upon which this conclusion rests, as they afford an excellent example of the way in which such results are reached. It is an accepted truth in geographical distribution, that the portion of the earth in which the greatest number of forms differentiated from one type are to be found, is almost always the region in which that type had its origin. Now, out of about a dozen species and sub-species of wapiti and red deer to which names have been given, not less than eight are Asiatic, so that Asia, and probably its central portion, is indicated as the region in which the elaphine deer arose; in confirmation of which is the further fact that the antler characteristic of these deer seems to have originated from the same ancestral form as that which produced the sikine and rusine types, which are also Asiatic. From this centre the elaphines spread westward and eastward, resulting in Europe in the red deer, which penetrated southward into north Africa at a time when there was a land connection across the Mediterranean. In the opposite direction, the nearer we get to Bering's Straits the closer is the resemblance to the American wapiti, until the splendid species from the Altai Mountains (C. canadensis asiaticus), and Luehdorf's deer (C. c. luehdorfi) from Manchuria, are regarded only as sub-species of the eastern American form, which they approach through C. c. occidentalis of Oregon and the northwestern Pacific Coast.
This evidence is conclusive in itself, and is further confirmed by the geological record, from which we know that the land connection between Alaska and Kamtschatka was of Pliocene age, while we have no knowledge of the wapiti in America until the succeeding period.
While there is not the least doubt that the smaller American deer had an origin identical with those of the old world, the exact point of their separation is not so clear. Two possibilities are open to choice: Mazama may be supposed to have descended from the group to which Blastomeryx belonged, this being a late Miocene genus from Nebraska, with cervine molars, but otherwise much like Cosoryx, which we have seen to be a possible ancestor of the prong-horn; or we may prefer to believe that the differentiation took place earlier in Europe or Asia, from ancestors common to both. But there is a serious dilemma. If we choose the former view, we must conclude that the deciduous antler was independently developed in each of the two continents, and while it is quite probable that approximately similar structures have at times arisen independently, it is not easy to believe that an arrangement so minutely identical in form and function can have been twice evolved. On the second supposition, we have to face the fact that there is very little evidence from palaeontology of the former presence of the American type in Eurasia. But, on the whole, the latter hypothesis presents fewer difficulties and is probably the correct one; in which case two migrations must have taken place, an earlier one of the generalized type to which Blastomeryx and Cosoryx belonged, and a later one of the direct ancestor of Mazama. There is little difficulty in the assumption of these repeated migrations, for evidence exists that during a great part of the last half of the Tertiary this continent was connected by land to the northwest with Asia, and to the northeast, through Greenland and Iceland, with western Europe.
The distinction between the two groups is well marked. All the Mazama type are without a true brow-tine to the antlers; the lower ends of the lateral metacarpals only remain; the vertical plate of the vomer extends downward and completely separates the hind part of the nasal chamber into two compartments; and with hardly an exception they have a large gland on the inside of the tarsus, or heel. The complete development of these characters is exhibited in northern species, and it has been beautifully shown that as we go southward there is a strong tendency to diminished size; toward smaller antlers and reduction in the number of tines; to smaller size, and finally complete loss of the metatarsal gland on the outside of the hind leg; and to the assumption of a uniform color throughout the year, instead of a seasonal change.
The two styles of antler which we recognize in the North American deer are too well known to require description. That characterizing the mule deer (Mazama hemionus) and the Columbia black-tailed deer (M. columbiana), seems never to have occurred in the east, nor south much beyond the Mexican border, and these deer have varied little except in size, although three subspecies have lately been set off from the mule deer in the extreme southwest.