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Set up, electrotyped, and published April, 1902. Reprinted 
June, 1903. 


J. S. Gushing & Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


THIS volume is meant for the lover of the 
wild, free, lonely life of the wilderness, and of 
the hardy pastimes known to the sojourners 




June, 1901. 





I. INTRODUCTORY . . . . , . . . i 












A, J. STONE 289 



THE CHALLENGE .... . Frontispiece 





A SHOT AT ELK .... .152 













MOOSE 292 












RANGE OF ELK IN 1900 134 







WITH the exception of the bison, during the 
period of its plenty, the chief game animals fol- 
lowed by the American rifle-bearing hunter have 
always been the different representatives of the 
deer family, and, out on the great plains, the 
pronghorn antelope. They were the game which 
Daniel Boone followed during the closing decades 
of the seventeenth century, and David Crockett 
during the opening decades of the eighteenth; 
and now, at the outset of the twentieth century, 
it is probably not too much to say that ninety- 
nine out of every hundred head of game killed 
in the United States are deer, elk, or antelope.' 
Indeed, the proportion is very much larger. In 
certain restricted localities black bear were at one 
time very numerous, and over large regions the 
multitudinous herds of the bison formed until 
1883 the chief objects of pursuit. But the bison 
have now vanished ; and though the black bear has 
held its own better than any other of the larger 

2 Deer and Antelope of North America 

carnivora, it is only very locally that it has ever 
been plentiful in the sense that even now the elk, 
deer, and antelope are still plentiful over consider- 
able tracts of country. Taking the United States 
as a whole, the deer have always been by far the 
most numerous of all game ; they have held their 
own in the land better than any other kinds ; and 
they have been the most common quarry of the 

The nomenclature and exact specific relation- 
ships of American deer and antelope offer diffi- 
culties not only to the hunter but to the naturalist. 
As regards the nomenclature, we share the trouble 
encountered by all peoples of European descent 
who have gone into strange lands. The incomers 
are almost invariably men who are not accus- 
tomed to scientific precision of expression. Like 
other people, they do not like to invent names 
if they can by any possibility make use of those 
already in existence, and so in a large number 
of cases they call the new birds and animals by 
names applied to entirely different birds and 
animals of the Old World to which, in the eyes 
of the settlers, they bear some resemblance. In 
South America the Spaniards, for instance, 
christened "lion" and "tiger" the great cats 
which are properly known as cougar and jaguar. 
In South Africa the Dutch settlers, who came 
from a land where all big game had long been 

Introductory 3 

exterminated, gave fairly grotesque names to the 
great antelopes, calling them after the European 
elk, stag, and chamois. The French did but little 
better in Canada. Even in Ceylon the English, 
although belonging for the most part to the edu- 
cated classes, did no better than the ordinary 
pioneer settlers, miscalling the sambur stag an 
elk, and the leopard a cheetah. Our own pioneers 
behaved in the same way. Hence it is that we 
have no distinctive name at all for the group of 
peculiarly American game birds of which the bob- 
white is the typical representative ; and that, when 
we could not use the words quail, partridge, or 
pheasant, we went for our terminology to the 
barn-yard, and called our fine grouse, fool-hens, 
sage-hens, and prairie-chickens. The bear and 
wolf our people recognized at once. The bison 
they called a buffalo, which was no worse than 
the way in which every one in Europe called the 
Old World bison an aurochs. The American true 
elk and reindeer were rechristened moose and 
caribou excellent names, by the way, derived 
from the Indian. The huge stag was called an 
elk. The extraordinary antelope of the high 
Western peaks was christened the white goat ; not 
unnaturally, as it has a most goatlike look. The 
prongbuck of the plains, an animal standing as 
much alone among ruminants as does the giraffe, 
was simply called antelope. Even when we 

4 Deer and Antelope of Nortb America 

invented names for ourselves, we applied them 
loosely. The ordinary deer is sometimes known 
as the red deer, sometimes as the Virginia deer, 
and sometimes as the whitetail deer, the last 
being by far the best and most distinctive term. 
In the present condition of zoological research 
it is not possible to state accurately how many 
"species" of deer there are in North America, 
both because mammalogists have not at hand a 
sufficient amount of material in the way of large 
series of specimens from different localities, and 
because they are not agreed among themselves as 
to the value of " species," or indeed as to exactly 
what is denoted by the term. Of course, if we 
had a complete series of specimens of extinct and 
fossil deer before us, there would be an absolutely 
perfect intergradation among all the existing forms 
through their long-vanished ancestral types; for 
the existing gaps have been created by the ex- 
tinction and transformation of these former types. 
Where the gap is very broad and well marked 
no difficulty exists in using terms which shall ex- 
press the difference. Thus the gap separating the 
moose, the caribou, and the wapiti from one an- 
other, and from the smaller American deer, is so 
wide, and there is so complete a lack of transi- 
tional forms, that the differences among them are 
expressed by naturalists by the use of different 
generic terms. The gap between the whitetail 

Introductory 5 

and the different forms of blacktail, though much 
less, is also clearly marked. But when we come 
to consider the blacktail among themselves, we find 
two very distinct types which yet show a certain 
tendency to intergrade; and with the whitetail 
very wide differences exist, even in the United 
States, both individually among the deer of cer- 
tain localities, and also as between all the deer 
of one locality when compared with all the deer of 
another. Our present knowledge of the various 
forms hardly justifies us in dogmatizing as to 
their exact relative worth, and even if our knowl- 
edge was more complete, naturalists are as yet 
wholly at variance as to the laws which should 
govern specific nomenclature. However, the 
hunter, the mere field naturalist, and the lover 
of outdoor life, are only secondarily interested in 
the niceness of these distinctions, and it is for 
them that this volume is written. Accordingly, I 
shall make no effort to determine the number of 
different but closely allied forms of smaller deer 
which are found in North Temperate America. 

Disregarding the minor differences, there are 
in North America in addition to the so-called 
antelope, six wholly distinct kinds of deer: the 
moose, caribou, wapiti, whitetail, and the two 

The moose in its various forms reaches from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, through the cold bo- 

6 Deer and Antelope of North America 

real forests of Canada, extending its range down 
into the United States in northern New England, 
Minnesota, and along the Rocky Mountains. It 
was exterminated from the Adirondacks in the 
early sixties, about the time that the wapiti was 
exterminated in Pennsylvania, or very shortly be- 
fore. It is the brother of the Old World elk, and 
its huge size, shovel horns, short neck, swollen 
nose, and long legs distinguish it at a glance from 
any other animal. 

The caribou is found throughout most of the 
moose's range, but it does not extend so far south, 
and in some of its forms reaches much farther 
north, being found on the cold barrens, from New- 
foundland to the shores of the Arctic Sea. It is 
the only animal which is still at certain seasons 
found in enormous multitudes comparable to the 
vast herds of the bison in the old days, and in 
parts of its range it is being slaughtered in 
the same butcherly spirit that was responsible for 
the extinction of the bison. The different kinds 
of American caribou are closely akin to the rein- 
deer of the Old World, and their long, irregularly 
branched antlers, with palmated ends, their big 
feet, coarse heads, and stout bodies, render them 
as easily distinguishable as the moose. 

The wapiti or round-horned elk always had its 
centre of abundance in the United States, though 
in the West it was also found far north of the 

Introductory 7 

Canadian line. This splendid deer affords a good 
instance of the difficulty of deciding what name 
to use in treating of our American game. On 
the one hand, it is entirely undesirable to be pe- 
dantic ; and on the other hand, it seems a pity, 
at a time when speech is written almost as much 
as spoken, to use terms which perpetually require 
explanation in order to avoid confusion. The 
wapiti is not properly an elk at all; the term 
wapiti is unexceptionable, and it is greatly to be 
desired that it should be generally adopted. But 
unfortunately it has not been generally adopted. 
From the time when our backwoodsmen first 
began to hunt the animal among the foot-hills of 
the Appalachian chains to the present day, it has 
been universally known as elk wherever it has 
been found. In ordinary speech it is never 
known as anything else, and only an occasional 
settler or hunter would understand what the word 
wapiti referred to. The book name is a great 
deal better than the common name ; but after all, 
it is only a book name. The case is almost ex- 
actly parallel to that of the buffalo, which was 
really a bison, but which lived as the buffalo, died 
as the buffalo, and left its name imprinted on our 
landscape as the buffalo. There is little use in 
trying to upset a name which is imprinted in our 
geography in hundreds of such titles as Elk 
Ridge, Elk Mountain, Elkhorn River. Yet in 

8 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the books it is often necessary to call it the wap- 
iti in order to distinguish it both from its differ- 
ently named close kinsfolk of the Old World, and 
from its more distant relatives with which it 
shares the name of elk. It is the largest of the 
true deer, and the noblest and stateliest of the deer 
kind throughout the world. It is closely akin to 
the much smaller European stag or red deer, and 
still more closely to certain Asiatic deer, one of 
which so closely approaches it in size, appearance, 
and stately presence as to be almost indistin- 
guishable. Its huge and yet delicately moulded 
proportions, and its massive, rounded antlers, the 
beam of which bends backward from the head, 
while the tines are thrust forward, render it im- 
possible to confound it with any other species of 
American deer. Owing to its habitat it has 
suffered from the persecution of hunters and set- 
tlers more than any other of its fellows in Amer- 
ica, and the boundaries of its range have shrunk 
in far greater proportion. The moose and caribou 
have in most places greatly diminished in num- 
bers, and have here and there been exterminated 
altogether from outlying portions of their range; 
but the wapiti has completely vanished from 
nine-tenths of the territory over which it roamed 
a century and a quarter ago. Although it was 
never found in any one place in such enormous 
numbers as the bison and the caribou, it never- 

Introductory 9 

theless went in herds far larger than the herds 
of any other American game save the two men- 
tioned, and was formerly very much more abun- 
dant within the area of its distribution than was 
the moose within the area of its distribution. It is 
now almost limited to certain mountainous areas 
in the Rockies and on the Pacific coast, the Pa- 
cific coast form differing from the ordinary form. 

The remaining three deer are much more closely 
connected with one another, all belonging to the 
same genus. The whitetail has always been, and 
is now, on the whole the commonest of American 
game, and it has held its own better than any 
other kind. It is found from southern Canada, 
in various forms, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, 
down into South America. It is given various 
names, and throughout most of its habitat is 
simply known as " deer " ; but wherever it comes 
in contact with the blacktail it is almost invari- 
ably called whitetail. This is a very appropriate 
name, for its tail is habitually so carried as to be 
extremely conspicuous, being white and bushy, only 
the middle part above being dark colored. The 
antlers curve out and forward, the prongs branch- 
ing from the posterior surface. 

The Rocky Mountain blacktail or mule-deer 
is somewhat larger, with large ears, its tail short- 
haired and round, white excepting for a black tip, 
and with antlers which fork evenly like the prongs 

io Deer and Antelope of North America 

of a pitchfork, so that it is difficult to say 
which prong should be considered the main 
shaft, and each prong itself bifurcates again. 
In the books this animal is called the mule-deer, 
but throughout its haunts it is almost always 
known simply as the blacktail. It is found in 
rough, broken country from the Bad Lands of 
the western Dakotas to the Pacific coast, and is 
everywhere the characteristic deer of the Rocky 
Mountains. The southern California form is 
peculiar, especially in having a dark stripe on 
the tail above. 

The true blacktail is found on the Pacific coast 
from southern Alaska to northern California. Its 
horns are like those of the Rocky Mountain black- 
tail ; its tail is more like that of the whitetail, but 
is not as large, and the white is much reduced, 
the color above and on the sides, to the very tip, 
being nearly black. 

The so-called antelope is not an antelope at all, 
but a very extraordinary creature. It is the only 
hollow-horned ruminant which annually sheds its 
horns as do the deer. Its position in its class is 
as unique as that of the giraffe. It is sometimes 
called the prongbuck, but antelope is the name 
nearly universally used for it throughout its range. 
It extends from Canada to Mexico, through the 
great plains and the open plateaus of the Rocky 
Mountains ; it was formerly found from the lower 

Introductory 1 1 

Missouri and the Red River of the North to the 
Pacific coast in California ; but it has been exter- 
minated from the eastern and western borders of 
its former range, and very much thinned out 

In the game preserves and zoological gardens 
east of the Mississippi it has proved feasible to 
perpetuate the whitetail and the wapiti, which 
lend themselves readily to this semi-domestica- 
tion. With mule-deer, caribou, moose, and prong- 
buck the task has been far more difficult, owing 
probably to the difficulty caused by an entire 
change of surroundings. Seemingly, however, 
the effort to keep moose on preserves in the Ad- 
irondacks and New Hampshire has been success- 
ful. There would be a far better chance to keep 
mule-deer and prongbuck permanently in captiv- 
ity if the effort were made in their natural habitat. 

The chase of all these noble and beautiful an- 
imals has ever possessed a peculiar fascination 
for bold and hardy men, skilled in the use of arms 
and the management of the horse, and wonted to 
feats of strength and endurance. Throughout 
the pioneer times the settlers followed hunting 
as an industry as much as a sport, and to this day 
there are regions in the Rockies and even on the 
great plains where the ranchmen still so follow 
it. Ordinarily the hunter goes on foot with the 
rifle, but where the country is open, as through- 

12 Deer and Antelope of North America 

out much of the West, there are still places where 
he habitually rides ; and on the plains this is 
the universal habit. Moreover, the antelope is 
occasionally followed with greyhounds, and the 
whitetail deer with the ordinary track-hounds or 
deer-hounds. American hunters have never been 
partial to large-bore rifles, and against American 
game the heavy batteries necessary in India and 
Africa have never been found necessary, or in- 
deed useful. Nowadays the small-bore, smokeless- 
powder rifle is almost universally used for all the 
different kinds of game described in this volume. 
For deer and antelope the lighter rifles are amply 
sufficient. For moose and wapiti the heavier kinds 
are preferable not larger bores, but with a greater 
quantity of powder and a longer bullet. The hard, 
metal jacket of the bullet should of course not 
extend to the point; in other words, the nose 
should be of naked lead. Any good, modern rifle 
will meet the requirements. The particular make 
is largely a matter of personal taste. There are 
a dozen different kinds, each of which comes up 
to the standard of accuracy, flatness of trajectory, 
killing power, handiness, and endurance. The 
vital point is not the gun but the man behind the 
gun. Any one of these rifles is good enough, and 
the difference between any two of them is infini- 
tesimal when compared with the importance of a 
good eye and a steady hand and nerves. 

Introductory 13 

The matter of clothes is almost as much one of 
personal taste as is the choice of a rifle. The es- 
sential thing is that they should be of some kind 
of drab or neutral tint tending toward gray or 
brown. Personally, after many years' experience, 
I regard a buckskin shirt, when properly tanned, 
as the best possible outside garment for any but 
very rainy weather. Of course when the ther- 
mometer gets down toward zero, a warm, heavy 
jacket will be needed if one is on horseback. 
The buckskin shirt should be worn as a tunic, 
belted in at the waist. The hat should be soft, 
with not too wide a brim. The trousers should 
be loose and free to below the knee, and from 
there to the ankle should button tightly down the 
leg ; the alternative being to use over them leather 
leggings which should have straps and buckles and 
not buttons. Not only the soles and heels of the 
shoes but under the insteps should be studded 
with nails. 

To describe the necessary equipment is hardly 
worth while, because it differs so widely in differ- 
ent kinds of shooting. If a man lives on a ranch, 
or is passing some weeks in a lodge in a game 
country, and starts out for two or three days, he 
will often do well to carry nothing whatever but 
a blanket, a frying-pan, some salt pork, and some 
hardtack. If the hunting-ground is such that he 
can use a wagon or a canoe, and the trip is not 

14 Deer and Antelope of North America 

to be too long, he can carry about anything he 
chooses, including a tent, any amount of bedding, 
and if it is very cold, a small, portable stove, not 
to speak of elaborate cooking apparatus. If he 
goes with a pack-train, he will also be able to 
carry a good deal ; but in such a case he must 
rely on the judgment of the trained packers, un- 
less he is himself an expert in the diamond hitch. 
If it becomes necessary to go on foot for any 
length of time, he must be prepared to do genuine 
roughing, and must get along with the minimum 
of absolute necessities. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that the 
hunter worthy of the name should be prepared 
to shift for himself in emergencies. A ranch- 
man, or any other man whose business takes him 
much in the mountains and out on the great 
plains or among the forests, ought to be able 
to get along entirely on his own account. But 
this cannot usually be done by those whose ex- 
istence is habitually more artificial. When a man 
who normally lives a rather over-civilized life, 
an over-luxurious life, especially in the great 
cities gets off for a few weeks' hunting, he can- 
not expect to accomplish much in the way of 
getting game without calling upon the services 
of a trained guide, woodsman, plainsman, or moun- 
tain man, whose life-work it has been to make him- 
self an adept in all the craft of the wilderness. 

Introductory 1 5 

Until a man, unused to wilderness life, even though 
a good sportsman, has actually tried it, he has no 
idea of the difficulties and hardships of shifting 
absolutely for himself, even for only two or three 
days. Not only will the local guide have the neces- 
sary knowledge as to precisely which one of two 
seemingly similar places is most apt to contain 
game ; not only will he possess the skill in pack- 
ing horses, or handling a canoe in rough water, 
or finding his way through the wilderness, which 
the amateur must lack ; but even the things which 
the amateur does, the professional will do so much 
more easily and rapidly, as in the one case to leave, 
and in the other case not to leave, ample time for 
the hunting proper. Therefore the ordinary ama- 
teur sportsman, especially if he lives in a city, must 
count upon the services of trained men, possibly 
to help him in hunting, certainly to help him in 
travelling, cooking, pitching camp, and the like ; 
and this he must do, if he expects to get good 
sport, no matter how hardy he may be, and no 
matter how just may be the pride he ought to take 
in his own craft, skill, and capacity to undergo 
fatigue and exposure. But while normally he 
must take advantage of the powers of others, he 
should certainly make a point of being able to 
shift for himself whenever the need arises ; and 
he can only be sure of possessing this capacity by 
occasionally exercising it. It ought to be unneces- 

1 6 Deer and Antelope of North America 

sary to point out that the wilderness is not a 
place for those who are dependent upon luxuries, 
and above all for those who make a camping trip 
an excuse for debauchery. Neither the man who 
wants to take a French cook and champagne 
on a hunting trip, nor his equally objectionable 
though less wealthy brother who is chiefly con- 
cerned with filling and emptying a large whiskey 
jug, has any place whatever in the real life of the 

The most striking and melancholy feature in 
connection with American big game is the rapidity 
with which it has vanished. When, just before 
the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the rifle- 
bearing hunters of the backwoods first penetrated 
the great forests west of the Alleghanies, deer, elk, 
black bear, and even buffalo swarmed in what are 
now the states of Kentucky and Tennessee ; and 
the country north of the Ohio was a great and 
almost virgin hunting-ground. From that day to 
this the shrinkage has gone on, only partially 
checked here and there, and never arrested as a 
whole. As a matter of historical accuracy, how- 
ever, it is well to bear in mind that a great many 
writers in lamenting this extinction of the game 
have, from time to time, anticipated or overstated 
the facts. Thus as good an author as Colonel Rich- 
ard Irving Dodge spoke of the buffalo as practi- 
cally extinct, while the great northern herd still 

Introductory 17 

existed in countless thousands. As early as 1880 
very good sporting authorities spoke not only of 
the buffalo but of the elk, deer, and antelope as no 
longer to be found in plenty ; and within a year 
one of the greatest of living hunters has stated 
that it is no longer possible to find any American 
wapiti bearing heads comparable with the red deer 
of Hungary. As a matter of fact, in the early 
eighties there were still great regions where every 
species of game that had ever been known within 
historic times on our continent were still to be 
found as plentifully as ever. In the early nineties 
there were still large regions in which this was 
true of all game except the buffalo ; for instance, 
it was true of the elk in portions of northwestern 
Wyoming, of the blacktail in northwestern Colo- 
rado, of the whitetail here and there in the Indian 
Territory, and of the antelope in parts of New Mex- 
ico. Even at the present day there are smaller, 
but still considerable regions where these four 
animals are yet found in great abundance, and I 
have seen antlers of wapiti shot in 1900 far sur- 
passing any of which there is record from Hun- 
gary. In New England and New York, as well 
as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the whitetail 
deer is more plentiful than it was thirty years 
ago, and in Maine (and to an even greater extent 
in New Brunswick) the moose and caribou have, 
on the whole, increased during the same period. 

1 8 Deer and Antelope of North America 

There is yet ample opportunity for the big game 
hunter in the United States and Canada; while 
not even in the old days was it possible to go on 
any trip better worth taking than the recent suc- 
cessful hunt of Mr. Ball DeWeese, of Canon City, 
Colorado, after the giant moose, giant bear, white 
sheep, and caribou of Alaska. 

While it is necessary to give this word of warn- 
ing to those who, in praising time past, always 
forget the opportunities of the present, it is a 
thousand fold more necessary to remember that 
these opportunities are, nevertheless, vanishing; 
and if we are a sensible people, we will make it 
our business to see that the process of extinction 
is arrested. At the present moment the great 
herds of caribou are being butchered as in the 
past the great herds of bison and wapiti have 
been butchered. Every believer in manliness, 
and therefore in manly sport, and every lover of 
nature, every man who appreciates the majesty 
and beauty of the wilderness and of wild life, 
should strike hands with the far-sighted men who 
wish to preserve our material resources, in the 
effort to keep our forests and our game beasts, 
game birds, and game fish indeed all the living 
creatures of prairie, and woodland, and seashore 
from wanton destruction. 

Above all, we should realize that the effort 
toward this end is essentially a democratic move- 

Introductory 19 

ment. It is entirely in our power as a nation to 
preserve large tracts of wilderness, which are val- 
ueless for agricultural purposes, as play-grounds 
for rich and poor alike, and to preserve the game 
so that it shall continue to exist for the benefit of 
all lovers of nature, and to give reasonable oppor- 
tunities for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, 
whether he is or is not a man of means. But this 
end can only be achieved by wise laws and by a reso- 
lute enforcement of the laws. Lack of such legis- 
lation and administration will result in harm to 
all of us, but most of all in harm to the nature 
lover who does not possess vast wealth. Already 
there have sprung up here and there through the 
country, as in New Hampshire and the Adiron- 
dacks, large private preserves. These preserves 
often serve a most useful purpose, and should be 
encouraged within reasonable limits ; but it would 
be a great misfortune if they increased beyond a 
certain extent, or if they took the place of great 
tracts of wild land, which continue as such, either 
because of their very nature, or because of the 
protection of the state exerted in the form of 
making them state or national parks or reserves. 
It is utterly foolish to regard proper game laws 
as undemocratic, unrepublican. On the contrary, 
they are essentially in the interests of the people 
as a whole, because it is only through their enact- 
ment and enforcement that the people as a whole 

20 Deer and Antelope of North America 

can preserve the game and can prevent its be- 
coming purely the property of the rich, who are 
able to create and maintain extensive private pre- 
serves. The very wealthy man can get hunting 
anyhow, but the man of small means is depen- 
dent solely upon wise and well-executed game 
laws for his enjoyment of the sturdy pleasure of 
the chase. In Maine, in Vermont, in the Adiron- 
dacks, even in parts of Massachusetts and on Long 
Island too, people have waked up to this fact, 
particularly so far as the common whitetail deer 
is concerned, and in Maine also as regards the 
moose and caribou. The effect is shown in the 
increase in all these animals. Such game protec- 
tion results, in the first place, in securing to the 
people who live in the neighborhood permanent 
opportunities for hunting ; and in the next place, 
it provides no small source of wealth to the local- 
ity because of the visitors which it attracts. A 
deer wild in the woods is worth to the people of 
the neighborhood many times the value of its 
carcass, because of the way it attracts sportsmen, 
who give employment and leave money behind 

True sportsmen, worthy of the name, men who 
shoot only in season and in moderation, do no 
harm whatever to game. The most objection- 
able of all game destroyers is, of course, the kind 
of game butcher who simply kills for the sake 

Introductory 21 

of the record of slaughter, who leaves deer and 
ducks and prairie-chicken to rot after he has 
slain them. Such a man is wholly obnoxious; 
and indeed, so is any man who shoots for the 
purpose of establishing a record of the amount 
of game killed. To my mind this is one very 
unfortunate feature of what is otherwise the 
admirably sportsmanlike English spirit in these 
matters. The custom of shooting great bags of 
deer, grouse, partridges, and pheasants, the keen 
rivalry in making such bags, and their publica- 
tion in sporting journals, are symptoms of a spirit 
which is most unhealthy from every standpoint. 
It is to be earnestly hoped that every American 
hunting or fishing club will strive to inculcate 
among its own members, and in the minds of the 
general public, that anything like an excessive 
bag, any destruction for the sake of making a 
record, is to be severely reprobated. 

But after all, this kind of perverted sportsman, 
unworthy though he is, is not the chief factor 
in the destruction of our game. The professional 
skin or market hunter, is the real offender. Yet 
he is of all others the man who would ultimately 
be most benefited by the preservation of the 
game. The frontier settler, in a thoroughly wild 
country, is certain to kill game for his own use. 
As long as he does no more than this, it is hard 
to blame him; although if he is awake to his 

22 Deer and Antelope of North America 

own interests he will soon realize that to him, too, 
the live deer is worth far more than the dead 
deer, because of the way in which it brings 
money into the wilderness. The professional 
hunter who kills game for the hide, or for the 
meat, or to sell antlers and other trophies, and 
the rich people, who are content to buy what 
they have not the skill to get by their own exer- 
tions these are the men who are the real enemies 
of game. Where there is no law which checks 
the market hunters, the inevitable result of their 
butchery is that the game is completely destroyed, 
and with it their own means of livelihood. If, on 
the other hand, they were willing to preserve it, 
they could make much more money by acting as 
guides. In northwestern Colorado, at the present 
moment, there are still blacktail deer in abun- 
dance, and some hundreds of elk are left. Colo- 
rado has fairly good game laws, but they are 
indifferently enforced. The country in which 
the game is found can probably never support 
any but a very sparse population, and a large 
portion of the summer range is practically use- 
less for settlement. If the people of Colorado 
generally, and above all the people of the counties 
in which the game is located, would resolutely co- 
operate with those of their own number who are 
already alive to the importance of preserving the 
game, it could, without difficulty, be kept always 

Introductory 23 

as abundant as it now is, and this beautiful region 
would be a permanent health resort and play- 
ground for the people of a large part of the 
Union. Such action would be a benefit to every 
one, but it would be a benefit most of all to the 
people of the immediate locality. 

In northwestern Wyoming the preservation of 
the Yellowstone Park by the Federal government 
has done inestimable good. It preserves the 
great nursery and breeding-ground of the elk. 
The reserve should, however, be extended so as 
to include more of the elk's winter range. 

It is to be remembered that the preservation of 
the game is by no means merely the affair of the 
sportsman. Most of us, as we grow older, grow to 
care relatively less for the sport itself than for the 
splendid freedom and abounding health of outdoor 
life in the woods, on the plains, and among the 
great mountains; and to the true nature lover it 
is melancholy to see the wilderness stripped of 
the wild creatures which gave it no small part of 
its peculiar charm. It is inevitable, and probably 
necessary, that the wolf and the cougar should 
go ; but the blacktail and wapiti grouped on the 
mountain side, the whitetail and moose feeding in 
the sedgy ponds, these add beyond measure to 
the wilderness landscape, and if they are taken 
away, they leave a lack which nothing else can 
quite make good. So it is of those true birds of 

24 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the wilderness, the eagle and the raven ; and 
indeed of all the wild things furred, feathered, and 

There are many sides to the charm of big 
game hunting ; nor should it be regarded as 
being without its solid advantages from the stand- 
point of national character. Always in our mod- 
ern life, the life of a highly complex industrialism, 
there is a tendency to softening of the fibre. This 
is true of our enjoyments; and it is no less true of 
very many of our business occupations. It is not 
true of such work as railroading, a purely modern 
development, nor yet of work like that of those 
who man the fishing fleets ; but it is preeminently 
true of all occupations which cause men to lead 
sedentary lives in great cities. For these men it 
is especially necessary to provide hard and rough 
play. Of course, if such play is made a serious 
business, the result is very bad ; but this does not 
in the least affect the fact that within proper 
limits the play itself is good. Vigorous athletic 
sports carried on in a sane spirit are healthy. The 
hardy out-of-door sports of the wilderness are even 
healthier. It is a mere truism to say that the 
qualities developed by the hunter are the qualities 
needed by the soldier ; and a curious feature of 
the changed conditions of modern warfare is that 
they call to a much greater extent than during 
the two or three centuries immediately past, for 

Introductory 25 

the very qualities of individual initiative, ability to 
live and work in the open, and personal skill in 
the management of horse and weapons, which are 
fostered by a hunter's life. No training in the 
barracks or on the parade-ground is as good as 
the training given by a hard hunting trip in which 
a man really does the work for himself, learns to 
face emergencies, to study country, to perform 
feats of hardihood, to face exposure and undergo 
severe labor. It is an excellent thing for any man 
to be a good horseman and a good marksman, to 
be able to live in the open and to feel a self-reli- 
ant readiness in any crisis. Big game hunting 
tends to produce or develop exactly these physi- 
cal and moral traits. To say that it may be 
pursued in a manner or to an extent which is 
demoralizing is but to say what can likewise be 
said of all other pastimes and of almost all kinds of 
serious business. That it can be abused either in 
the way in which it is done, or the extent to which 
it is carried, does not alter the fact that it is in 
itself a sane and healthy recreation. 

At the risk of over-emphasis, I desire to repeat 
that we cannot too sedulously insist upon the fact 
that the big game hunter should not be a game 
butcher. To protest against all hunting is, of 
course, merely a bit of unhealthy sentimentality. 
If no wild animals were killed by man for food 
or sport, he would speedily have to kill them in 

26 Deer and Antelope of North America 

self-defence because they would eat him out of 
house and home. But the true sportsman is 
never wanton in slaughter. If he is worthy the 
name, he will feel infinitely more satisfaction in 
a single successful shot which comes to crown 
the triumph of his hardihood and address in ex- 
ploring the wilds, and in the actual stalk, than 
he would in any amount of shooting at creatures 
driven past him from artificially stocked covers. 
The best test of the worth of any sport is the 
demand that sport makes upon those qualities 
of mind and body which in their sum we call 

Moreover, in addition to being a true sports- 
man and not a game butcher, in addition to being 
a humane man as well as keen-eyed, strong-limbed, 
and stout-hearted, the big game hunter should 
be a field naturalist. If possible, he should be an 
adept with the camera; and hunting with the 
camera will tax his skill far more than hunting 
with the rifle, while the results in the long run 
give much greater satisfaction. Wherever possible 
he should keep a note-book, and should carefully 
study and record the habits of the wild creatures, 
especially when in some remote regions to which 
trained scientific observers but rarely have access. 
If we could only produce a hunter who would do 
for American big game what John Burroughs has 
done for the smaller wild life of hedgerow and 

Introdiictory 27 

orchard, farm and garden and grove, we should 
indeed be fortunate. Yet even though a man does 
not possess the literary faculty and the powers of 
trained observation necessary for such a task, he 
can do his part toward adding to our information 
by keeping careful notes of all the important facts 
which he comes across. Such note-books would 
show the changed habits of game with the changed 
seasons, their abundance at different times and 
different places, the melancholy data of their dis- 
appearance, the pleasanter facts as to their change 
of habits which enable them to continue to exist 
in the land, and, in short, all their traits. A real 
and lasting service would thereby be rendered, 
not only to naturalists, but to all who care for 



THIS is the largest and finest of our three 
smaller deer. Throughout its range it is known 
as the blacktail deer, and it has as good a historic 
claim to the title as its Pacific coast kinsman, the 
coast or true blacktail. If one were writing purely 
of this species, it would be pedantry to call it by 
its book name of mule-deer, a name which con- 
veys little or no meaning to the people who live 
in its haunts and who hunt it ; but it is certainly 
very confusing to know two distinct types of deer 
by one name, and as both the Rocky Mountain 
blacktail and Coast blacktail are treated in this 
volume, and as the former is occasionally known 
as mule-deer, I shall, for convenience' sake, speak 
of it under this name, a name given it because 
of its great ears, which rather detract from its 
otherwise very handsome appearance. 

The mule-deer is a striking and beautiful ani- 
mal. As is the case with our other species, it 
varies greatly in size, but is on the average heavier 
than either the whitetail or the true blacktail. The 


The Mule- deer 29 

horns also average longer and heavier, and in 
exceptional heads are really noteworthy trophies. 
Ordinarily a full-grown buck has a head of ten 
distinct and well-developed points, eight of which 
consist of the bifurcations of the two main prongs 
into which each antler divides, while in addition 
there are two shorter basal or frontal points. But 
the latter are very irregular, being sometimes 
missing ; while sometimes there are two or three 
of them on each antler. When missing it usually 
means that the antlers are of young animals that 
have not attained their full growth. A yearling 
will sometimes have merely a pair of spikes, and 
sometimes each spike will be bifurcated so as to 
make two points. A two-year-old may develop 
antlers which, though small, possess the normal 
four points. Occasionally, where unusually big 
heads are developed, there are a number of extra 
points. If these are due to deformity, they simply 
take away from the beauty of the head ; but where 
they are symmetrical, while at the same time the 
antlers are massive, they add greatly to the beauty. 
All the handsomest and largest heads show this 
symmetrical development of extra points. It is 
rather hard to lay down a hard-and-fast rule for 
counting them. The largest and finest antlers 
are usually rough, and it is not easy to say when 
a particular point in roughness has developed so 
that it may legitimately be called a prong. The 

jo Deer and Antelope of North America 

largest head I ever got to my own rifle had twenty- 
eight points, symmetrically arranged, the antlers 
being rough and very massive as well as very long. 
The buck was an immense fellow, but no bigger 
than other bucks I have shot which possessed 
ordinary heads. 

The mule-deer is found from the rough country 
which begins along the eastern edges of the great 
plains, across the Rocky Mountains to the eastern 
slopes of the coast ranges, and into southern Cali- 
fornia. It extends into Canada on the north and 
Mexico on the south. On the west it touches, 
and here and there crosses, the boundaries of the 
Coast blacktail. The whitetail is found in places 
throughout its habitat from east to west and from 
north to south. But there are great regions in 
this territory which are peculiarly fitted for the 
mule-deer, but in which the whitetail is never 
found, as the habits of the two are entirely dif- 
ferent. In the mountains of western Colorado 
and Wyoming, for instance, the mule-deer swarms, 
but the whole region is unfit for the whitetail, 
which is accordingly only found in a very few 
narrowly restricted localities. 

The mule-deer does not hold its own as well as 
the whitetail in the presence of man, but it is by 
no means as quickly exterminated as the wapiti. 
The general limits of its range have not shrunk 
materially in the century during which it has 

The Mule- deer 31 

been known to white hunters. It was never 
found until the fertile, moist country of the Mis- 
sissippi Valley was passed and the dry plains 
region to the west of it reached, and it still 
exists in some numbers here and there in this 
country, as, for instance, in the Bad Lands along 
the Little Missouri, and in the Black Hills. But 
although its limits of distribution have not very 
sensibly diminished, there are large portions of 
the range within these limits from which it has 
practically vanished, and in most places its num- 
bers have been wofully thinned. It holds its 
own best among the more inaccessible mountain 
masses of the Rockies, and from Chihuahua to 
Alberta there are tracts where it is still very 
abundant. Yet even in these places the numbers 
are diminishing, and this process can be arrested 
only by better laws, and above all, by a better 
administration of the law. The national govern- 
ment could do much by establishing its forest 
reserves as game reserves, and putting on a suffi- 
cient number of forest rangers who should be 
empowered to prevent all hunting on the reserves. 
The state governments can do still more. Colo- 
rado has good laws, but they are not well enforced. 
The easy method of accounting for this fact is to 
say that it is due to the politicians ; but in reality 
the politicians merely represent the wishes, or 
more commonly the indifference, of the people. 

32 Deer and Antelope of North America 

As long as the good citizens of a state are indif- 
ferent as to game protection, or take but a tepid 
interest in it, the politicians, through their agents, 
will leave the game laws unenforced. But if the 
people of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana come 
to feel the genuine interest in the enforcement of 
these laws that the people of Maine and Vermont 
have grown to take during the past twenty years, 
not only will the mule-deer cease to diminish, 
but it will positively increase. It is a mistake 
to suppose that such a change would only be to 
the advantage of well-to-do sportsmen. Men who 
are interested in hunting for hunting's sake, men 
who come from the great cities remote from the 
mountains in order to get three or four weeks' 
healthy, manly holiday, would undoubtedly be 
benefited; but the greatest benefit would be to 
the people of the localities, and of the neighbor- 
hoods round about. The presence of the game 
would attract outsiders who would leave in the 
country money or its equivalent, which would 
many times surpass in value the game they 
actually killed ; and furthermore, the preservation 
of the game would mean that the ranchmen and 
grangers who live near its haunts would have 
in perpetuity the chance of following the pleas- 
antest and healthiest of all out-of-door pastimes ; 
whereas, if through their shortsightedness they 
destroy, or permit to be destroyed, the game, they 



The Mule- deer 33 

are themselves responsible for the fact that their 
children and children's children find themselves 
forever debarred from a pursuit which must under 
such circumstances become the amusement only 
of the very rich. If we are really alive to our 
opportunities under our democratic, social, and 
political system, we can keep for ourselves and 
by " ourselves " I mean the enormous bulk of men 
whose means range from moderate to very small 
ample opportunity for the enjoyment of hunt- 
ing and shooting, of vigorous and blood-stirring 
out-of-doors sport. If we fail to take advantage 
of our possibilities, if we fail to pass, in the 
interest of all, wise game laws, and to see that 
these game laws are properly enforced, we will 
then have to thank ourselves if in the future the 
game is only found in the game preserves of the 
wealthy ; and under such circumstances only these 
same wealthy people will have the chance to 
hunt it. 

The mule-deer differs widely from the whitetail 
in its habits, and especially in its gait, and in the 
kind of country which it frequents. Although in 
many parts of its range it is found side by side 
with its whitetail cousin, the two do not actually 
associate together, and their propinquity is due 
simply to the fact, that the river bottoms being a 
favorite haunt of the whitetail, long tongues of the 
distribution area of this species are thrust into the 

34 Deer and Antelope of North America 

domain of its bolder, less stealthy and less crafty 
kinsman. Throughout the plains country the 
whitetail is the deer of the river bottoms, where 
the rank growth gives it secure hiding-places, as 
well as ample food. The mule-deer, on the con- 
trary, never comes down into the dense growths 
of the river bottoms. Throughout the plains coun- 
try it is the deer of the broken Bad Lands which 
fringe these river bottoms on either side, and of 
the rough ravines which wind their way through 
the Bad Lands to the edge of the prairie country 
which lies back of them. The broken hills, their 
gorges filled with patches of ash, buck brush, cedar, 
and dwarf pine, form a country in which the mule- 
deer revels. The whitetail will, at times, wander 
far out on the prairies where the grass is tall and 
rank ; but it is not nearly so bold or fond of the 
open as the mule-deer. The latter is frequently 
found in hilly country where the covering is so 
scanty that the animal must be perpetually on the 
watch, as if it were a bighorn or prongbuck, in 
order to spy its foes at a distance and escape be- 
fore they can come near ; whereas the whitetail 
usually seeks to elude observation by hiding 
by its crouching, stealthy habits. 

It must be remembered, however, that with the 
mule-deer, as with all other species of animals, 
there is a wide variability in habits under differ- 
ent conditions. This is often forgotten even by 

The Mule- deer 35 

trained naturalists, who accept the observations 
made in one locality as if they applied throughout 
the range of the species. Thus in the excellent 
account of the habits of this species in Mr. Ly- 
deker's book on the " Deer of All Lands " it is 
asserted that mule-deer never dwell permanently 
in the forest, and feed almost exclusively on grass. 
The first statement is entirely, and the second 
mainly, true of the mule-deer of the plains from 
the Little Missouri westward to the headwaters 
of the Platte, the Yellowstone, and the Big Horn; 
but there are large parts of the Rockies in which 
neither statement applies at all. In the course of 
several hunting trips among the densely wooded 
mountains of western Montana, along the water- 
shed separating the streams that flow into Clarke's 
Fork of the Columbia from those that ultimately 
empty into Kootenay Lake, I found the mule- 
deer plentiful in many places where practically 
the whole country was covered by dense for- 
est, and where the opportunities for grazing were 
small indeed, as we found to our cost in connec- 
tion with our pack-train. In this region the mule- 
deer lived the entire time among the timber, and 
subsisted for the most part on browse. Occasion- 
ally they would find an open glade and graze; 
but the stomachs of those killed contained not 
grass, but blueberries and the leaves and delicate 
tips of bushes. I was not in this country in win- 

36 Deer and Antelope of North America 

ter, but it was perfectly evident that even at that 
season the deer must spend their time in the thick 
timber. There was no chance for them to go 
above the timber line, because the mountains were 
densely wooded to their summits, and the white 
goats of the locality also lived in the timber. It 
was far harder to get the mule-deer than it was to 
get the white goats, for the latter were infinitely 
more conspicuous, were slower in their movements, 
and bolder and less shy. Almost the only way 
we succeeded in killing the deer was by finding 
one of their well-trodden paths and lying in wait 
beside it very early in the morning or quite late 
in the afternoon. The season was August and 
September, and the deer were astir long before 
sunset. They usually, but not always, lay high 
up on the mountain sides, and while they some- 
times wandered to and fro browsing on the moun- 
tains, they often came down to feed in the valleys, 
where the berries were thicker. Their paths were 
well beaten, although, like all game trails, after 
being as plainly marked as a pony track for a 
quarter of a mile or so, they would suddenly 
grow faint and vanish. The paths ran nearly 
straight up and down hill, and even when en- 
tirely undisturbed, the deer often came down 
them at a great rate, bouncing along in a way 
that showed that they have no fear of develop- 
ing the sprung knees which we should fear for 

The Mule- deer 37 

a domestic animal which habitually tried the 
same experiment. 

In other habits also the deer vary widely in 
different localities. For instance, there is an 
absolute contrast as regards their migratory habits 
between the mule-deer, which live in the Bad 
Lands along the Little Missouri, and those which 
live in northwestern Colorado ; and this differ- 
ence is characteristic generally of the deer which 
in the summer dwell in the high mountains, as 
contrasted with those which bear and rear their 
young in the low, broken, hill-country. Along 
the Little Missouri there was no regular or 
clearly defined migration of the mule-deer in a 
mass. Some individual, or groups of individuals, 
shifted their quarters for a few miles, so that in 
the spring, for instance, a particular district of a 
few square miles, in which they had been abun- 
dant before, might be wholly without them. 
But there were other districts which happened 
to afford at all times sufficient food and shelter, 
in which they were to be found the year round ; 
and the animals did not band and migrate as 
the prongbucks did in the same region. In the 
immediate neighborhood of my ranch there were 
groups of high hills containing springs of water, 
good grass, and an abundance of cedar, ash, and 
all kinds of brush in which mule-deer were per- 
manent residents. There were big dry creeks, 

38 Deer and Antelope of North America 

with well-wooded bottoms, lying among rugged 
hills, in which I have found whitetail and mule- 
deer literally within a stone's throw of one 
another. I once started from two adjoining 
pockets in this particular creek two does, each 
with a fawn, one being a mule-deer and the other 
a whitetail. On another occasion, on an early 
spring afternoon, just before the fawns were born, 
I came upon a herd of twenty whitetails, does, 
and young of the preceding year, grazing greedily 
on the young grass ; and half a mile up the creek, 
in an almost exactly similar locality, I came upon 
just such a herd of mule-deer. In each case the 
animals were so absorbed in the feasting, which 
was to make up for their winter privations, that 
I was able to stalk to within fifty yards, though 
of course I did not shoot. 

In northwestern Colorado the conditions are 
entirely different. Throughout the region there 
is not a single whitetail to be found, and never 
has been, although in the winter range of the 
mule-deer there are a few prongbuck; and the 
wapiti once abounded. The mule-deer are still 
plentiful. They make a complete migration 
summer and winter, so that in neither season is a 
single individual to be found in the haunts they 
frequent during the other season. In the sum- 
mer they live and bring forth their young high 
up in the main chain of the mountains, in a 

The Mule- deer 39 

beautiful country of northern forest growth, 
dotted with trout-filled brooks and clear lakes. 
The snowfall is so deep in these wooded moun- 
tains that the deer would run great risk of perish- 
ing if they stayed therein, and indeed, could only 
winter there at all in very small numbers. Ac- 
cordingly, when the storms begin in the fall, 
usually about the first of October, just before the 
rut, the deer assemble in bands and move west 
and south to the lower, drier country, where the 
rugged hills are here and there clothed with an 
open growth of pinyon and cedar, instead of the 
tall spruces and pines of the summer range. The 
migrating bands follow one another along definite 
trails over mountains, through passes and valleys, 
and across streams ; and their winter range 
swarms with them a few days after the fore- 
runners have put in their appearance in what 
has been, during the summer, an absolutely deer- 
less country. 

In January and February, 1901, I spent five 
weeks north of the White River, in northwestern 
Colorado. It was in the heart of the wintering- 
ground of the great Colorado mule-deer herd. 
Forty miles away to the east, extending north, 
lay the high mountains in which these deer had 
spent the summer. The winter range, in which 
I was at the time hunting cougars, is a region of 
comparatively light snowfall, though the cold is 

40 Deer and Antelope of North America 

very bitter. On several occasions during my 
stay the thermometer went down to twenty 
degrees below zero. The hills, or low mountains, 
for it was difficult to know which to call them, 
were steep and broken, and separated by narrow 
flats covered with sage brush. The ordinary 
trees were the pinyon and cedar, which were 
scattered in rather open groves over the moun- 
tain sides and the spurs between the ravines. 
There were also patches of quaking asp, scrub 
oak, and brush. The entire country was thinly 
covered with ranches, and there were huge pas- 
tures enclosed by wire fences. I have never 
seen the mule-deer so numerous anywhere as 
they were in this country at this time ; although 
in 1883, on the Little Missouri, they were almost 
as plentiful. There was not a day we did not 
see scores, and on some days we saw hundreds. 
Frequently they were found in small parties of two 
or three, or a dozen individuals, but on occasions 
we saw bands of thirty or forty. Only rarely 
were they found singly. The fawns were of course 
well grown, being eight or nine months old. 
They were still accompanying their mothers. 
Ordinarily a herd would consist of does, fawns, 
and yearlings, the latter carrying their first ant- 
lers. But it was not possible to lay down a uni- 
versal rule. Again and again I saw herds in 
which there were one or two full-grown bucks 

Tbe Mule- deer 41 

associating with the females and younger deer. 
At other times we came across small bands of 
full-grown bucks by themselves ; and occasionally 
a solitary buck. Considering the extent to which 
these deer must have been persecuted, I did not 
think them shy. We were hunting on horseback, 
and had hounds with us, so we made no especial 
attempt to avoid noise. Yet very frequently we 
would come close on the deer before they took 
alarm ; and even when alarmed they would some- 
times trot slowly off, halting and looking back. 
On one occasion, in some bad lands, we came 
upon four bucks which had been sunning them- 
selves on the face of a clay wall. They jumped 
up and went off one at a time, very slowly, pass- 
ing diagonally by us, certainly not over seventy 
yards off. All four could have been shot without 
effort, and as they had fine antlers I should cer- 
tainly have killed one, had it been the open 

When we came on these Colorado mule-deer 
suddenly, they generally behaved exactly as their 
brethren used to in the old days on the Little 
Missouri ; that is, they would run off at a good 
speed for a hundred yards or so, then slow up, 
halt, gaze inquisitively at us for some seconds, 
and again take to flight. While the sun was 
strong they liked to lie out in the low brush on 
slopes where they would get the full benefit of 

42 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the heat. During the heavy snowstorms they 
usually retreated into some ravine where the trees 
grew thicker than usual, not stirring until the 
weight of the storm was over. Most of the night, 
especially if it was moonlight, they fed ; but they 
were not at all regular about this. I frequently 
saw them standing up and grazing, or more rarely 
browsing, in the middle of the day, and in the 
late afternoon they often came down to graze 
on the flats within view of the different ranch 
houses where I happened to stop. The hours 
for feeding and resting, however, always vary 
accordingly as the deer are or are not perse- 
cuted. In wild localities I have again and again 
found these deer grazing at all hours of the day, 
and coming to water at high noon ; whereas, where 
they have been much persecuted, they only begin 
to feed after dusk, and come to water after dark. 
Of course during this winter weather they could 
get no water, snow supplying its place. 

I was immensely interested with the way they 
got through the wire fences. A mule-deer is a 
great jumper; I have known them to clear with 
ease high timber corral fences surrounding hay- 
ricks. If the animals had chosen, they could have 
jumped any of the wire fences I saw ; yet never 
in a single instance did I see one of them so jump 
a fence, nor did I ever find in the tell-tale snow 
tracks which indicated their having done so. 

The Mule- deer 43 

They paid no heed whatever to the fences, so 
far as I could see, and went through them at 
will ; but they always got between the wires, or 
went under the lowest wire. The dexterity with 
which they did this was extraordinary. When 
alarmed they would run full speed toward a wire 
fence, would pass through it, often hardly alter- 
ing their stride, and never making any marks 
in the snow which looked as though they had 
crawled. Twice I saw bands thus go through a 
wire fence, once at speed, the other time when 
they were not alarmed. On both occasions they 
were too far off to allow me to see exactly their 
mode of procedure, but on examining the snow 
where they had passed, there was not the slightest 
mark of their bodies, and the alteration in their 
gait, as shown by the footprints, was hardly per- 
ceptible. In one instance, however, where I scared 
a young buck which ran over a hill and through 
a wire fence on the other side, I found one of his 
antlers lying beside the fence, it having evidently 
been knocked off by the wire. Their antlers 
were getting very loose, and toward the end of 
our stay they had begun to shed them. 

The deer were preyed on by many foes. Sports- 
men and hide hunters had been busy during the 
fall migrations, and the ranchmen of the neighbor- 
hood were shooting them occasionally for food, 
even when we were out there. The cougars at 

44 Deer and Antelope of North America 

this season were preying upon them practically 
to the exclusion of everything else. We came 
upon one large fawn which had been killed by a 
bobcat. The gray wolves were also preying upon 
them. A party of these wolves can sometimes 
run down even an unwounded blacktail; I have 
myself known of their performing this feat. Twice 
on this very hunt we came across the carcasses 
of blacktail which had thus been killed by wolves, 
and one of the cowpunchers at a ranch where we 
were staying came in and reported to us that while 
riding among the cattle that afternoon he had seen 
two coyotes run a young mule-deer to a stand- 
still, and they would without doubt have killed it 
had they not been frightened by his approach. 
Still the wolf is very much less successful than 
the cougar in killing these deer, and even the cou- 
gar continually fails in his stalks. But the deer 
were so plentiful that at this time all the cougars 
we killed were very fat, and evidently had no 
difficulty in getting as much venison as they 
needed. The wolves were not as well off, and 
now and then made forays on the young stock of 
the ranchmen, which at this season the cougar let 
alone, reserving his attention to them for the sum- 
mer season when the deer has vanished. 

In the Big Horn Mountains, where I also saw 
a good deal of the mule-deer, their habits were 
intermediate between those of the species that 

Tbe Mule-deer 45 

dwell on the plains and those that dwell in the 
densely timbered regions of the Rockies further 
to the northwest. In the summer time they lived 
high up on the plateaus of the Big Horn, some- 
times feeding in the open glades and sometimes 
in the pine forests. In the fall they browsed on 
certain of the bushes almost exclusively. In win- 
ter they came down into the low country. South 
of the Yellowstone Park, where the wapiti swarmed, 
the mule-deer were not numerous. I believe that 
by choice they prefer rugged, open country, and 
they certainly care comparatively little for bad 
weather, as they will often visit bleak, wind-swept 
ridges in midwinter, as being places where they 
can best get food at that season, when the snow 
lies deep in the sheltered places. Nevertheless, 
many of the species pass their whole life in thick 

My chief opportunities for observing the mule- 
deer were in the eighties, when I spent much of 
my time on my ranch on the Little Missouri. 
Mule-deer were then very plentiful, and I killed 
more of them than of all other game put together. 
At that time in the cattle country no ranchman 
ever thought of killing beef, and if we had fresh 
meat at all it was ordinarily venison. In the 
fall we usually tried to kill enough deer to last 
out the winter. Until the settlers came in, the 
Little Missouri country was an ideal range for 

46 Deer and Antelope of North America 

mule-deer, and they fairly swarmed; while elk 
were also plentiful, and the restless herds of the 
buffalo surged at intervals through the land. 
After 1882 and 1883 the buffalo and elk were 
killed out, the former completely, and the latter 
practically, and the skin hunters, and then the 
ranchers, turned their attention chiefly to the 
mule-deer. It lived in open country where there 
was cover for the stalker, and so it was much 
easier to kill than either the whitetail, which 
was found in the dense cover of the river bot- 
toms, or the prongbuck, which was found far 
back from the river, on the flat prairies where 
there was no cover at all. I have been informed 
of other localities in which the antelope has dis- 
appeared long before the mule-deer, and I believe 
that in the Rockies the mule-deer has a far better 
chance of survival than the antelope has on the 
plains; but on the Little Missouri the antelope 
continued plentiful long after the mule-deer had 
become decidedly scarce. In 1886 I think the 
antelope were fully as abundant as ever they were, 
while the mule-deer had wofully diminished. In 
the early nineties there were still regions within 
thirty or forty miles of my ranch, where the ante- 
lope were very plentiful far more so than the 
mule-deer were at that time. Now they are both 
scarce along the Little Missouri, and which will 
outlast the other I cannot say. 

The Mule-deer 47 

In the old days, as I have already said, it was 
by no means infrequent to see both the whitetail 
and the mule-deer close together, and when, under 
such circumstances, they were alarmed, one got a 
peculiarly clear idea of the extraordinary gait 
which is the mule-deer's most striking character- 
istic. It trots wells, gallops if hard pressed, and 
is a good climber, though much inferior to the 
mountain sheep. But its normal gait consists of 
a series of stiff-legged bounds, all four feet leav- 
ing and striking the ground at the same time. 
This gait differs more from the gait of bighorn, 
prongbuck, whitetail, and wapiti than the gaits of 
these latter animals differ among themselves. 
The wapiti, for instance, rarely gallops, but when 
he does, it is a gallop of the ordinary type. The 
prongbuck runs with a singularly even gait; 
whereas the whitetail makes great bounds, some 
much higher than others. But fundamentally in 
all cases the action is the same, and has no resem- 
blance to the stiff-legged buck jumping which is 
the ordinary means of progression of the mule- 
deer. These jumps carry it not only on the level, 
but up and down hill at a great speed. It is said 
to be a tiresome gait for the animal, if hunted for 
any length of time on the level ; but of this I 
cannot speak with full knowledge. 

Compared to the wapiti, the mule-deer, like 
our other small deer, is a very silent animal. For 

48 Deer and Antelope of Nortb America 

a long time I believed it uttered no sound beyond 
the snort of alarm and the rare bleat of the doe 
to her fawn ; but one afternoon I heard two bucks 
grunting or barking at one another in a ravine 
back of the ranch-house, and crept up and shot 
them. I was still uncertain whether this was an 
indication of a regular habit ; but a couple of 
years later, on a moonlight night just after sunset, 
I heard a big buck travelling down a ravine and 
continually barking, evidently as a love challenge. 
I have been informed by some hunters that the 
bucks at the time of the rut not infrequently thus 
grunt and bark ; but most hunters are ignorant 
of this habit; and it is certainly not a common 

The species is not nearly as gregarious as the 
wapiti or caribou. During the winter the bucks 
are generally found singly, or in small parties by 
themselves, although occasionally one will associ- 
ate with a party of does and of young deer. When 
in May or June for the exact time varies with 
the locality the doe brings forth her young, she 
retires to some lonely thicket. Sometimes one 
and sometimes two fawns are brought forth. They 
lie very close for the first few days. I have picked 
them up and handled them without their making 
the slightest effort to escape, while the mother 
hung about a few hundred yards off. On one 
occasion I by accident surprised a doe in the very 

The Mule- deer 49 

act of giving birth to two fawns. One had just 
been born and the other was born as the doe 
made her first leap away. She ran off with as 
much speed and unconcern as if nothing what- 
ever had happened. I passed on immediately, 
lest she should be so frightened as not to come 
back to the fawns. It has happened that where 
I have found the newly born fawns I have invari- 
ably found the doe to be entirely alone, but her 
young of the previous year must sometimes at 
least be in the neighborhood, for a little later I 
have frequently seen the doe and her fawn or 
fawns, and either one or two young of the previ- 
ous year, together. Often, however, these young 
deer will themselves be alone, or associated with 
an older doe which is barren. The bucks at the 
same time go to secluded places; sometimes 
singly, while sometimes an old buck will be accom- 
panied by a younger one, or a couple of old bucks 
will lie together. They move about as little as 
possible while their horns are growing, and if a 
hunter comes by, they will lie far closer than at 
any other time of the year, squatting in the dense 
thickets as if they were whitetails. 

When in the Bad Lands of the western Da- 
kotas the late September breezes grow cold, then 
the bucks, their horns already clean of velvet 
which they have thrashed off on the bushes and 
saplings, feel their necks begin to swell; and 

50 Deer and Antelope of North America 

early in October sometimes not until Novem- 
ber they seek the does. The latter, especially 
the younger ones, at first flee in frantic haste. 
As the rut goes on the bucks become ever bolder 
and more ardent. Not only do they chase the 
does by night but also by day. I have sat on the 
side of a ravine in the Bad Lands at noon and 
seen a young doe race past me as if followed by 
a wolf. When she was out of sight a big buck 
appeared on her trail, following it by scent, also 
at speed. When he had passed I got up, and the 
motion frightened a younger buck which was fol- 
lowing two or three hundred yards in the rear of 
the big one. After a while the doe yields, and 
the buck then accompanies her. If, however, it 
is early in the season, he may leave her entirely 
in order to run after another doe. Later in the 
season he will have a better chance of adding the 
second doe to his harem, or of robbing another 
buck of the doe or does which he has accumu- 
lated. I have often seen merely one doe and one 
buck together, and I have often seen a single doe 
which for several days was accompanied by sev- 
eral bucks, one keeping off the others. But 
generally the biggest bucks collect each for him- 
self several does, yearlings also being allowed in 
the band. The exact amount of companionship 
with the does allowed these young bucks depends 
somewhat upon the temper of the master buck. 

The Mule- deer 51 

In books by imperfectly informed writers we often 
see allusions to the buck as protecting the doe, 
or even taking care of the fawn. Charles Dudley 
Warner, for instance, in describing with great 
skill and pathos an imaginary deer hunt, after 
portraying the death of the doe, portrays the 
young fawn as following the buck when the latter 
comes back to it in the evening. 1 While the 
fawn is so young as to be wholly dependent upon 
the doe, the buck never comes near either. More- 
over, during the period when the buck and the doe 
are together, the buck's attitude is merely that of 
a brutal, greedy, and selfish tyrant. He will un- 
hesitatingly rob the doe of any choice bit of food, 
and though he will fight to keep her if another 
buck approaches, the moment that a dangerous 
foe appears his one thought is for his own preser- 
vation. He will not only desert the doe, but if 
he is an old and cunning buck, he will try his 
best to sacrifice her by diverting the attention of 
the pursuer to her and away from him. 

By the end of the rut the old bucks are often 
exhausted, their sides thin, their necks swollen; 
though they are never as gaunt as wapiti bulls at 
this time. They then rest as much as possible, 

1 While the situation thus described was an impossible one, the 
purpose of Mr. Warner's article was excellent, it being intended as 
a protest against hunting deer while the fawns are young, and against 
killing them in the water. 

52 Deer and Antelope of North America 

feeding all the time to put on fat before winter 
arrives, and rapidly attaining a very high condi- 

Except in dire need no one would kill a deer 
after the hard weather of winter begins or before 
the antlers of the buck are full-grown and the 
fawns are out of the spotted coat. Even in the 
old days we, who lived in the ranch country, al- 
ways tried to avoid killing deer in the spring or 
early summer, though we often shot buck ante- 
lope at those times. The close season for deer 
varies in different states, and now there is gen- 
erally a limit set to the number any one hunter 
can kill ; for the old days of wasteful plenty are 
gone forever. 

To my mind there is a peculiar fascination in 
hunting the mule-deer. By the time the hunting 
season has arrived, the buck is no longer the 
slinking beast of the thicket, but a bold and yet 
wary dweller in the uplands. Frequently he can 
be found clear of all cover, often at midday, and 
his habits at this season are, from the hunter's 
standpoint, rather more like those of the wapiti 
than of the whitetail ; but each band, though con- 
tinually shifting its exact position, stays perma- 
nently in the same tract of country, whereas 
wapiti are more apt to wander. 

In the old days, when mule-deer were plentiful 
in country through which a horse could go at a 

The Mule-deer 53 

fair rate of speed, it was very common for the 
hunter to go on horseback and not to dismount 
save at the moment of the shot. In the early 
eighties, while on my ranch on the Little Missouri, 
this was the way in which I usually hunted. 
When I first established my ranch I have often 
gone out in the fall, after the day's work was over, 
and killed a deer before dark. If it was in Sep- 
tember, I would sometimes start after supper. 
Later in the year I would take supper when I 
got back. Under such circumstances my mode 
of procedure was perfectly simple. Deer were 
plentiful. Every big tangle of hills, every set of 
grassy coulies winding down to a big creek bot- 
tom, was sure to contain them. The time being 
short, with at most only an hour or two of light, 
I made no effort to find the tracks of a deer or 
to spy one afar off. I simply rode through the 
likely places, across the heads of the ravines or 
down the winding valleys, until I jumped a deer 
close enough up to give me a shot. The unshod 
hoofs of the horse made but little noise as he 
shuffled along at the regular cow-pony fox trot, 
and I kept him close into the bank or behind 
cover, so as to come around each successive point 
without warning. If the ground was broken and 
rugged, I made no attempt to go fast. If, on the 
other hand, I struck a smooth ravine with gentle 
curves, I would often put the pony to a sharp 

54 Deer and Antelope of North America 

canter or gallop, so as to come quickly on any 
deer before it could quite make up its mind what 
course was best to follow. Sooner or later, as 
I passed a thick clump of young ash or buck 
brush, or came abruptly around a sharp bend, 
there would be a snort, and then the thud, thud, 
thud, of four hoofs striking the ground exactly in 
unison, and away would go a mule-deer with the 
peculiar bounding motion of its kind. The pony, 
well accustomed to the work, stopped short, and 
I was off its back in an instant. If the deer had 
not made out exactly what I was, it would often 
show by its gait that it was not yet prepared to 
run straight out of sight. Under such circum- 
stances I would wait until it stopped and turned 
round to look back. If it was going very fast, I 
took the shot running. Once I thus put up a 
young buck from some thick brush in the bottom 
of a winding washout. I leaped off the pony, 
standing within ten yards of the washout. The 
buck went up a hill on my left, and as he reached 
the top and paused for a second on the sky line, 
I fired. At the shot there was a great scram- 
bling and crashing in the washout below me, and 
another and larger buck came out and tore off 
in frantic haste. I fired several shots at him, 
finally bringing him down. Meanwhile, the other 
buck had disappeared, but there was blood on his 
trail, and I found him lying down in the next 

The Mule- deer 55 

coulie, and finished him. This was not much 
over a mile from the ranch-house, and after dress- 
ing the deer, I put one behind the saddle and 
one on it, and led the pony home. 

Such hunting, though great fun, does not imply 
any particular skill either in horsemanship, marks- 
manship, or plainscraft and knowledge of the ani- 
mal's habits ; and it can of course be followed only 
where the game is very plentiful. Ordinarily the 
mule-deer must be killed by long tramping among 
the hills, skilful stalking, and good shooting. 
The successful hunter should possess good eyes, 
good wind, and good muscles. He should know 
how to take cover and how to use his rifle. The 
work is sufficiently rough to test any man's endur- 
ance, and yet there is no such severe and intense 
toil as in following true mountain game, like the 
bighorn or white goat. As the hunter's one aim 
is to see the deer before it sees him, he can only 
use the horse to take him to the hunting-ground, 
Then he must go through the most likely ground 
and from every point of vantage scan with minute 
care the landscape round about, while himself un- 
seen. If the country is wild and the deer have 
not been much molested, he will be very apt to 
come across a band that is feeding. Under such 
circumstances it is easy to see them at once. But 
if lying down, it is astonishing how the gray of 
their winter coats fits in with the color of their 

56 Deer and Antelope of North America 

surroundings. Too often I have looked carefully 
over a valley with my glasses until, thinking I had 
searched every nook, I have risen and gone for- 
ward, only to, see a deer rise and gallop off out of 
range from some spot which I certainly thought 
I had examined with all possible precaution. If 
the hunter is not himself hidden, he will have his 
labor for his pains. Neither the mule-deer nor the 
white-tail is by any means as keen-sighted as the 
prong-horn antelope, and men accustomed chiefly 
to antelope shooting are quite right in speaking of 
the sight of deer as poor by comparison. But this 
is only by comparison. A motionless object does 
not attract a deer's gaze as it attracts the tele- 
scopic eye of a prongbuck; but any motion is 
seen at once, and as soon as this has occurred, the 
chances of the hunter are usually at an end. On 
the other hand, from the nature of its haunts the 
mule-deer usually offers fairly good opportunities 
for stalking. It is not as big or as valuable as 
the elk, and therefore it is not as readily seen or 
as eagerly followed, and in consequence holds its 
own better. But though the sport it yields calls 
normally for a greater amount of hardihood and 
endurance in the hunter than is the case with the 
sport yielded by the prongbuck, and especially by 
the whitetail, yet when existing in like numbers 
it is easier to kill than either of these two 

The Mule-deer 57 

Sometimes in the early fall, when hunting from 
the ranch, I have spent the night in some likely 
locality, sleeping rolled up in a blanket on the 
ground so as to be ready to start at the first 
streak of dawn. On one such occasion a couple 
of mule-deer came to where my horse was pick- 
eted just before I got up. I heard them snort or 
whistle, and very slowly unwrapped myself from 
the blanket, turned over, and crawled out, rifle in 
hand. Overhead the stars were paling in the 
faint gray light, but the ravine in which the deer 
were was still so black that, watch as I would, I 
could not see them. I feared to move around lest 
I might disturb them, but after wriggling toward 
a little jutting shoulder I lay still to wait for the 
light. They went off, however, while it was still 
too dusk to catch more than their dim and form- 
less outlines, and though I followed them as rap- 
idly and cautiously as possible, I never got a shot 
at them. On other occasions fortune has favored 
me, and before the sun rose I have spied some 
buck leisurely seeking his day bed, and have been 
able either to waylay him or make a running stalk 
on him from behind. 

In the old days it was the regular thing with 
most ranchmen to take a trip in the fall for the 
purpose of laying in the winter's supply of venison. 
I frequently took such trips myself, and though 
occasionally we killed wapiti, bighorn, prong- 

58 Deer and Antelope of North America 

buck, and whitetail, our ordinary game was the 
mule-deer. Around my ranch it was not neces- 
sary to go very far. A day's journey with the 
wagon would usually take us to where a week's 
hunting would enable us to return with a dozen 
deer or over. If there was need of more, I would 
repeat the hunt later on. I have several times 
killed three of these deer in a day, but I do not 
now recall ever killing a greater number. It is 
perhaps unnecessary to say that every scrap of 
flesh was used. 

These hunts were always made late in the fall, 
usually after the close of the rut. The deer were 
then banded, and were commonly found in parties 
of from three or four to a score, although the big 
bucks might be lying by themselves. The weather 
was apt to be cold, and the deer evidently liked to 
sun themselves, so that at midday they could be 
found lying, sometimes in thin brush and some- 
times boldly out on the face of a cliff or hill. If 
they were unmolested, they would feed at intervals 
throughout the day, and not until the bands had 
been decimated by excessive hunting, did they 
ever spend the hours of daylight in hiding. 

On such a hunt our proceedings were perfectly 
simple. The nights were longer than the days, 
and therefore we were away from camp at the first 
streak of dawn, and might not return until long 
after darkness. All the time between was spent 

The Mule- deer 59 

in climbing and walking through the rugged hills, 
keeping a sharp lookout for our game. Only too 
often we were seen before we ourselves saw the 
quarry, and even when this was not the case, the 
stalks were sometimes failures. Still blank days 
were not very common. Probably every hunter 
remembers with pride some particular stalk. I 
recall now outwitting a big buck which I had seen 
and failed to get on two successive days. He was 
hanging about a knot of hills with brush on their 
shoulders, and was not only very watchful, but 
when he lay down always made his bed at the 
lower end of a brush patch, whence he could see 
into the valley below, while it was impossible to 
approach him from above, through the brush, with- 
out giving the alarm. On the third day I saw 
him early in the morning, while he was feeding. 
He was very watchful, and I made no attempt to 
get near him, simply peeping at him until he 
finally went into a patch of thin brush and lay 
down. As I knew what he was I could distinctly 
make him out. If I had not seen him go in, I 
certainly never would have imagined that he was 
a deer, even had my eyes been able to pick him 
out at all among the gray shadows and small dead 
tree-tops. Having waited until he was well settled 
down, I made a very long turn and came up behind 
him, only to find that the direction of the wind 
and the slope of the hill rendered it an absolute 

60 Deer and Antelope of North America 

impossibility to approach him unperceived. After 
careful study of the ground I abandoned the effort, 
and returned to my former position, having spent 
several hours of considerable labor in vain. It 
was now about noon, and I thought I would lie 
still to see what he would do when he got up, and 
accordingly I ate my lunch stretched at full length 
in the long grass which sheltered me from the 
wind. From time to time I peered cautiously 
between two stones toward where the buck lay. 
It was nearly mid-afternoon before he moved. 
Sometimes mule-deer rise with a single motion, 
all four legs unbending like springs, so that the 
four hoofs touch the ground at once. This old 
buck, however, got up very slowly, looked about 
for certainly five minutes, and then came directly 
down the hill and toward me. When he had 
nearly reached the bottom of the valley between 
us he turned to the right and sauntered rapidly 
down it. I slipped back and trotted as fast as I 
could without losing my breath along the hither 
side of the spur which lay between me and the 
buck. While I was out of sight he had for some 
reason made up his mind to hurry, and when I 
was still fifty yards from the end of the spur he 
came in sight just beyond it, passing at a swing- 
ing trot. I dropped on one knee so quickly that 
for a moment he evidently could not tell what I 
was, my buckskin shirt and gray slouch-hat 

Tbe Mule- deer 61 

fading into the color of the background and 
halted, looking sharply around. Before he could 
break into flight my bullet went through his 

Twice I have killed two of these deer at a 
shot ; once two bucks, and once a doe and a 

It has proved difficult to keep the mule-deer 
in captivity, even in large private parks or roomy 
zoological gardens. I think this is because 
hitherto the experiment has been tried east of 
the Mississippi in an alien habitat. The wapiti 
and whitetail are species that are at home over 
most of the United States, East and West, in rank, 
wet prairies, dense woodland, and dry mountain 
regions alike ; but the mule-deer has a far more 
sharply localized distribution. In the Bronx 
Zoological Gardens, in New York, Mr. Hornaday 
informs me that he has comparatively little diffi- 
culty in keeping up the stock alike of wapiti and 
whitetail by breeding as indeed any visitor can 
see for himself. The same is true in the game 
preserves in the wilder regions of New York and 
New England ; but hitherto the mule-deer has 
offered an even more difficult problem in captivity 
than the pronghorn antelope. Doubtless the 
difficulty would be minimized if the effort at 
domestication were made in the neighborhood of 
the Rocky Mountains. 

62 Deer and Antelope of North America 

The true way to preserve the % mule-deer, how- 
ever, as well as our other game, is to establish on 
the nation's property great nurseries and winter- 
ing grounds, such as the Yellowstone Park, and 
then to secure fair play for the deer outside these 
grounds by a wisely planned and faithfully exe- 
cuted series of game laws. This is the really 
democratic method of solving the problem. Occa- 
sionally even yet some one will assert that the 
game "belongs to the people, and should be 
given over to them " meaning, thereby, that 
there should be no game laws, and that every 
man should be at liberty indiscriminately to kill 
every kind of wild animal, harmless, useless, or 
noxious, until the day when our woods become 
wholly bereft of all the forms of higher animal 
life. Such an argument can only be made from 
the standpoint of those big game dealers in the 
cities who care nothing for the future, and desire 
to make money at the present day by a slaughter 
which in the last analysis only benefits the wealthy 
people who are able to pay for the game, for 
once the game has been destroyed, the livelihood 
of the professional gunner will be taken away. 
Most emphatically wild game not on private 
property does belong to the people, and the only 
way in which the people can secure their owner- 
ship is by protecting it in the interest of all 
against the vandal few. As we grow older I 

The Mule- deer 63 

think most of us become less keen about that 
part of the hunt which consists in the killing. 
I know that as far as I am concerned I have 
long gone past the stage when the chief end of 
a hunting trip was the bag. One or two bucks, 
or enough grouse and trout to keep the camp 
supplied, will furnish all the sport necessary to 
give zest and point to a trip in the wilderness. 
When hunters proceed on such a plan they do 
practically no damage to the game. Those who 
are not willing to act along these lines of their 
own free will, should be made to by the state. 
The people of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, 
and of the states near by, can do a real service, 
primarily to themselves, but secondarily to others 
also, by framing and executing laws which will 
keep these noble deer as permanent denizens of 
their lofty mountains and beautiful valleys. There 
are other things much more important than game 
laws ; but it will be a great mistake to imagine 
because until recently in Europe game laws have 
been administered in the selfish interest of one 
class and against the interest of the people as a 
whole, that here in this country, and under our 
institutions, they would not be beneficial to all 
our people. So far from game laws being in the 
interest of the few, they are emphatically in the 
interest of the many. The very rich man can 
stock a private game preserve, or journey afar off 


64 Deer and Antelope of North America 

to where game is still plentiful; but it is only 
where the game is carefully preserved by the 
state that the man of small means has any 
chance to enjoy the keen delight of the chase. 



THE whitetail deer is now, as it always has been, 
the most plentiful and most widely distributed of 
American big game. It holds its own in the land 
better than any other species, because it is by 
choice a dweller in the thick forests and swamps, 
the places around which the tide of civilization 
flows, leaving them as islets of refuge for the wild 
creatures which formerly haunted all the country. 
The range of the whitetail is from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific, and from the Canadian to the Mex- 
ican borders, and somewhat to the north and far 
to the south of these limits. The animal shows 
a wide variability, both individually and locally, 
within these confines; from the hunter's stand- 
point it is not necessary to try to determine ex- 
actly the weight that attaches to these local 

There is also a very considerable variation in 
habits. As compared with the mule-deer, the 
whitetail is not a lover of the mountains. As 
compared with the prongbuck, it is not a lover of 

F 6 5 

66 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the treeless plains. Yet in the Alleghanies and 
the Adirondacks, at certain seasons especially, 
and in some places at all seasons, it dwells high 
among the densely wooded mountains, wandering 
over their crests and sheer sides, and through the 
deep ravines; while in the old days there were 
parts of Texas and the Indian Territory where it 
was found in great herds far out on the prairie. 
Moreover, the peculiar nature of its chosen habi- 
tat, while generally enabling it to resist the on- 
slaught of man longer than any of its fellows, 
sometimes exposes it to speedy extermination. 
To the westward of the rich bottom-lands and 
low prairies of the Mississippi Valley proper, when 
the dry plains country is reached, the natural 
conditions are much less favorable for whitetail 
than for other big game. The black bear, which 
in the East has almost precisely the same habitat 
as the whitetail, disappears entirely on the great 
plains, and reappears in the Rockies in regions 
which the whitetail does not reach. All over the 
great plains, into the foot-hills of the Rockies, the 
whitetail is found, but only in the thick timber of 
the river bottoms. Throughout the regions of 
the Upper Missouri and Upper Platte, the Big 
Horn, Powder, Yellowstone, and Cheyenne, over 
all of which I have hunted, the whitetail lives 
among the cottonwood groves and dense brush 
growth that fringe the river beds and here and 

The IVbitetail Deer 67 

there extend some distance up the mouths of the 
large creeks. In these places the whitetail and 
the mule-deer may exist in close proximity ; but 
normally neither invades the haunts of the other. 
Along the ordinary plains river, such as the 
Little Missouri, where I ranched for many years, 
there are three entirely different types of country 
through which a man passes as he travels away 
from the bed of the river. There is first the allu- 
vial river bottom covered with cottonwood and 
box-elder, together with thick brush. These bot- 
toms may be a mile or two across, or they may 
shrink to but a few score yards. After the exter- 
mination of the wapiti, which roamed everywhere, 
the only big game animal found in them was the 
whitetail deer. Beyond this level alluvial bottom 
the ground changes abruptly to bare, rugged hills 
or fantastically carved and shaped Bad Lands 
rising on either side of the river, the ravines, 
coulies, creeks, and canyons twisting through 
them in every direction. Here there are patches 
of ash, cedar, pine, and occasionally other trees, 
but the country is very rugged, and the cover very 
scanty. This is the home of the mule-deer, and, 
in the roughest and wildest parts, of the bighorn. 
The absolutely clear and sharply defined line of 
demarkation between this rough, hilly country, 
flanking the river, and the alluvial river bottom, 
serves as an equally clearly marked line of de- 

68 Deer and Antelope of North America 

markation between the ranges of the whitetail and 
the mule-deer. This belt of broken country may 
be only a few hundred yards in width ; or it may 
extend for a score of miles before it changes into 
the open prairies, the high plains proper. As 
soon as these are reached, the prongbuck's do- 
main begins. 

As the plains country is passed, and the vast 
stretches of mountainous region entered, the river 
bottoms become narrower, and the plains on which 
the prongbuck is found become of very limited 
extent, shrinking to high valleys and plateaus, 
while the mass of rugged foot-hills and mountains 
add immensely to the area of the mule-deer's 

Given equal areas of country, of the three dif- 
ferent types alluded to above, that in which the 
mule-deer is found offers the greatest chance of 
success to the rifle-bearing hunter, because there 
is enough cover to shield him and not enough 
to allow his quarry to escape by stealth and 
hiding. On the other hand, the thick river bot- 
toms offer him the greatest difficulty. In conse- 
quence, where the areas of distribution of the dif- 
ferent game animals are about equal, the mule-deer 
disappears first before the hunter, the prong- 
buck next, while the whitetail holds out the best 
of all. I saw this frequently on the Yellowstone, 
the Powder, and the Little Missouri. When the 

The Whitetail Deer 69 

ranchman first came into this country the mule- 
deer swarmed, and yielded a far more certain 
harvest to the hunter than did either the prong- 
buck or the whitetail. They were the first to be 
thinned out, the prongbuck lasting much better. 
The cowboys and small ranchmen, most of whom 
did not at the time have hounds, then followed 
the prongbuck ; and this, in its turn, was killed 
out before the whitetail. But in other places a 
slight change in the conditions completely re- 
versed the order of destruction. In parts of 
Wyoming and Montana the mountainous region 
where the mule-deer dwelt was of such vast extent, 
and the few river bottoms on which the white- 
tail were found were so easily hunted, that the 
whitetail was completely exterminated throughout 
large districts where the mule-deer continued to 
abound. Moreover, in these regions the table- 
lands and plains upon which the prongbuck was 
found were limited in extent, and although the 
prongbuck outlasted the whitetail, it vanished 
long before the herds of the mule-deer had been 
destroyed from among the neighboring mountains. 
The whitetail was originally far less common 
in the forests of northern New England than was 
the moose, for in the deep snows the moose had 
a much better chance to escape from its brute 
foes and to withstand cold and starvation. But 
when man appeared upon the scene he followed 

yo Deer and Antelope of North America 

the moose so much more eagerly than he followed 
the deer that the conditions were reversed and the 
moose was killed out. The moose thus vanished 
entirely from the Adirondacks, and almost entirely 
from Maine ; but the excellent game laws of the 
latter state, and the honesty and efficiency with 
which they have been executed during the last 
twenty years, has resulted in an increase of moose 
during that time. During the same period the 
whitetail deer has increased to an even greater 
extent. It is doubtless now more plentiful in New 
York and New England than it was a quarter of 
a century ago. Stragglers are found in Connecti- 
cut, and, what is still more extraordinary, even 
occasionally come into wild parts of densely popu- 
lated little Rhode Island, my authority for the 
last statement being Mr. C. Grant La Farge. Of 
all our wild game, the whitetail responds most 
quickly to the efforts for its protection, and ex- 
cept the wapiti, it thrives best in semi-domes- 
tication ; in consequence, it has proved easy to 
preserve it, even in such places as Cape Cod in 
Massachusetts and Long Island in New York; 
while it has increased greatly in Vermont, New 
Hampshire, and Maine, and has more than held 
its own in the Adirondacks. Mr. James R. Shef- 
field, of New York City, in the summer of 1899, 
spent several weeks on a fishing trip through 
northern Maine. He kept count of the moose 

The Wbitetail Deer 71 

and deer he saw, and came across no less than 
thirty-five of the former and over five hundred 
and sixty of the latter ; in the most lonely parts of 
the forest deer were found by the score, feeding 
in broad daylight on the edges of the ponds. 
Deer are still plentiful in many parts of the Alle- 
ghany Mountains, from Pennsylvania southward, 
and also in the swamps and cane-brakes of the 
South Atlantic and Gulf states. 

Where the differences in habitat and climate 
are so great there are many changes of habits, and 
some of them of a noteworthy kind. Mr. John 
A. Mclllhenny, of Avery's Island, Louisiana, for- 
merly a lieutenant in my regiment, lives in what 
is still a fine game country. His plantation is 
in the delta of the Mississippi, among the vast 
marshes, north of which lie the wooded swamps. 
Both the marshes and the swamps were formerly 
literally thronged with whitetail deer, and the 
animals are still plentiful in them. Mr. Mclll- 
henny has done much deer-hunting, always using 
hounds. He informs me that the breeding times 
are unexpectedly different from those of the 
northern deer. In the North, in different locali- 
ties, the rut takes place in October or Novem- 
ber, and the fawns are dropped in May or June. 
In the Louisiana marshes around Avery's Island 
the rut begins early in July and the fawns are 
dropped in February. In the swamps immedi- 

72 Deer and Antelope of North America 

ately north of these marshes the dates are fully a 
month later. The marshes are covered with tall 
reeds and grass, and broken by bayous, while 
there are scattered over them what are called 
" islands " of firmer ground overgrown with tim- 
ber. In this locality the deer live in the same 
neighborhood all the year round, just as, for 
instance, they do on Long Island. So on the 
Little Missouri, in the neighborhood of my ranch, 
they lived in exactly the same localities through- 
out the entire year. Occasionally they would 
shift from one river bottom to another, or go a 
few miles up or down stream because of scarcity 
of food. But there was no general shifting. 

On the Little Missouri, in one place where they 
were not molested, I knew a particular doe and 
fawn with whose habits I became quite intimately 
acquainted. When the moon was full they fed 
chiefly by night, and spent most of the day lying 
in the thick brush. When there was little or no 
moon they would begin to feed early in the morn- 
ing, then take a siesta, and then what struck 
me as most curious of all would go to a little 
willow-bordered pool about noon to drink, feed- 
ing for some time both before and after drinking. 
After another siesta they would come out late in 
the afternoon and feed until dark. 

In the Adirondacks the deer often alter their 
habits completely at different seasons. Soon after 

The WUtetail Deer 73 

the fawns are born they come down to the water's 
edge, preferring the neighborhood of the lakes, 
but also haunting the stream banks. The next 
three months, during the hot weather, they keep 
very close to the water, and get a large proportion 
of their food by wading in after the lilies and other 
aquatic plants. Where they are much hunted, they 
only come to the water's edge after dark, but in re- 
gions where they are little disturbed they are quite 
as often diurnal in their habits. I have seen dozens 
feeding in the neighborhood of a lake, some of them 
two or three hundred yards out in shallow places, 
up to their bellies ; and this after sunrise, or two or 
three hours before sunset. Before September the 
deer cease coming to the water, and go back among 
the dense forests and on the mountains. There 
is no genuine migration, as in the case of the mule- 
cfeer, from one big tract to another, and no entire 
desertion of any locality. But the food supply 
which drew the animals to the water's edge during 
the summer months shows signs of exhaustion 
toward fall; the delicate water-plants have van- 
ished, the marsh-grass is dying, and the lilies are 
less succulent. An occasional deer still wanders 
along the shores or out into the lake, but most of 
them begin to roam the woods, eating the berries 
and the leaves and twig ends of the deciduous 
trees, and even of some of the conifers, although a 
whitetail is fond of grazing, especially upon the 

74 Deer and Antelope of North America 

tips of the grass itself. I have seen moose feed- 
ing on the tough old lily stems and wading after 
them when the ice had skimmed the edges of the 
pool. But the whitetail has usually gone back 
into the woods long before freezing time. 

From Long Island south there is not enough 
snow to make the deer alter their habits in the 
winter. As soon as the rut is over, which in dif- 
ferent localities may be from October to December, 
whitetail are apt to band together more apt than 
at any other season, although even then they are 
often found singly or in small parties. While 
nursing, the does have been thin, and at the end 
of the rut the bucks are gaunt, with their necks 
swollen and distended. From that time on bucks 
and does alike put on flesh very rapidly in prepa- 
ration for the winter. Where there is no snow, or 
not enough to interfere with their travelling, they 
continue to roam anywhere through the woods 
and across the natural pastures and meadows, eat- 
ing twigs, buds, nuts, and the natural hay which 
is cured on the stalk. 

In the northern woods they form yards during 
the winter. These yards are generally found in a 
hardwood growth which offers a supply of winter 
food, and consist simply of a tangle of winding 
trails beaten out through the snow by the inces- 
sant passing and repassing of the animal. The 
yard merely enables the deer to move along the 

Tbe WUtetail Deer 75 

various paths in order to obtain food. If there 
are many deer together, the yards may connect 
by interlacing paths, so that a deer can run a con- 
siderable distance through them. Often, however, 
each deer will yard by itself, as food is the prime 
consideration, and a given locality may only have 
enough to support a single animal. When the 
snows grow deep the deer is wholly unable to 
move, once the yard is left, and hence it is abso- 
lutely at the mercy of a man on snow-shoes, or of 
a cougar or a wolf, if found at such times. The 
man on snow-shoes can move very comfortably ; 
and the cougar and the wolf, although hampered 
by the snow, are not rendered helpless like the 
deer. I have myself scared a deer out of a yard, 
and seen it flounder helplessly in a great drift be- 
fore it had gone thirty rods. When I came up 
close it ploughed its way a very short distance 
through the drifts, making tremendous leaps. 
But as the snow was over six feet deep, so that 
the deer sank below the level of the surface at 
each jump, and yet could not get its feet on the 
solid ground, it became so exhausted that it fell 
over on its side and bleated in terror as I came up ; 
after looking at it I passed on. Hide hunters 
and frontier settlers sometimes go out after the 
deer on snow-shoes when there is a crust, and 
hence this method of killing is called crusting. 
It is simple butchery, for the deer cannot, as the 

7 6 Deer and Antelope of North America 

moose does, cause its pursuer a chase which may 
last days. No self-respecting man would follow 
this method of hunting save from the necessity of 
having meat. 

In very wild localities deer sometimes yard on 
the ice along the edges of lakes, eating off all the 
twigs and branches, whether of hardwood trees or 
of conifers, which they can reach. 

At the beginning of the rut the does flee from 
the bucks, which follow them by scent at full 
speed. The whitetail buck rarely tries to form a 
herd of does, though he will sometimes gather 
two or three. The mere fact that his tactics 
necessitate a long and arduous chase after each 
individual doe prevents his organizing herds as 
the wapiti bull does. Sometimes two or three 
bucks will be found strung out one behind the 
other, following the same doe. The bucks wage 
desperate battle among themselves during this 
season, coming together with a clash, and then 
pushing and straining for an hour or two at a 
time, with their mouths open, until the weakest 
gives way. As soon as one abandons the fight 
he flees with all possible speed, and usually 
escapes unscathed. While head to head there 
is no opportunity for a disabling thrust, but if, 
in the effort to retreat, the beaten buck gets 
caught, he may be killed. Owing to the char- 
acter of the antlers whitetail bucks are peculiarly 

The Wbitetail Deer 77 

apt to get them interlocked in such a fight, and 
if the efforts of the two beasts fail to disentangle 
them, both ultimately perish by starvation. I 
have several times come across a pair of skulls 
with interlocked antlers. The same thing occurs, 
though far less frequently, to the mule-deer and 
even the wapiti. 

The whitetail is the most beautiful and grace- 
ful of all our game animals when in motion. I 
have never been able to agree with Judge Caton 
that the mule-deer is clumsy and awkward in his 
gait. I suppose all such terms are relative. 
Compared to the moose or caribou the mule-deer 
is light and quick in his movements, and to me 
there is something very attractive in the poise 
and power with which one of the great bucks 
bounds off, all four legs striking the earth 
together and shooting the body upward and for- 
ward as if they were steel springs. But there 
can be no question as to the infinitely superior 
grace and beauty of the whitetail when he either 
trots or runs. The mule-deer and blacktail bound, 
as already described. The prongbuck gallops 
with an even gait, and so does the bighorn, when 
it happens to be caught on a flat ; but the white- 
tail moves with an indescribable spring and buoy- 
ancy. If surprised close up, and much terrified, 
it simply runs away as hard as it can, at a gait 
not materially different from that of any other 

78 Deer and Antelope of North America 

game animal under like circumstances, while its 
head is thrust forward and held down, and the 
tail is raised perpendicularly. But normally its 
mode of progression, whether it trots or gallops, 
is entirely unique. In trotting, the head and tail 
are both held erect, and the animal throws out 
its legs with a singularly proud and free motion, 
bringing the feet well up, while at every step 
there is an indescribable spring. In the canter or 
gallop the head and tail are also held erect, the 
flashing white brush being very conspicuous. 
Three or four low, long, marvellously springy 
bounds are taken, and then a great leap is made 
high in the air, which is succeeded by three 
or four low bounds, and then by another high 
leap. A whitetail going through the brush in 
this manner is a singularly beautiful sight. It 
has been my experience that they are not usually 
very much frightened by an ordinary slow track- 
hound, and I have seen a buck play along in front 
of one, alternately trotting and cantering, head 
and flag up, and evidently feeling very little fear. 
To my mind the chase of the whitetail, as it 
must usually be carried on, offers less attraction 
than the chase of any other kind of our large 
game. But this is a mere matter of taste, and 
such men as Judge Caton and Mr. George Bird 
Grinnell have placed it above all others as a game 
animal. Personally I feel that the chase of any 

Tbe Wbitetail Deer 79 

animal has in it two chief elements of attraction. 
The first is the chance given to be in the wilder- 
ness; to see the sights and hear the sounds of 
wild nature. The second is the demand made 
by the particular kind of chase upon the qualities 
of manliness and hardihood. As regards the first, 
some kinds of game, of course, lead the hunter 
into particularly remote and wild localities; and 
the farther one gets into the wilderness, the 
greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom. 
Yet to camp out at all implies some measure of 
this delight. The keen, fresh air, the breath of 
the pine forests, the glassy stillness of the lake 
at sunset, the glory of sunrise among the moun- 
tains, the shimmer of the endless prairies, the 
ceaseless rustle of the cottonwood leaves, where 
the wagon is drawn up on the low bluff of the 
shrunken river all these appeal intensely to any 
man, no matter what may be the game he happens 
to be following. But there is a wide variation, 
and indeed contrast, in >the qualities called for 
in the chase itself, according as one quarry or 
another is sought. 

The qualities that make a good soldier are, in 
large part, the qualities that make a good hunter. 
Most important of all is the ability to shift for 
one's self, the mixture of hardihood and resource- 
fulness which enables a man to tramp all day 
in the right direction, and, when night comes, to 

8o Deer and Antelope of North America 

make the best of whatever opportunities for 
shelter and warmth may be at hand. Skill in 
the use of the rifle is another trait ; quickness in 
seeing game, another ; ability to take advantage 
of cover, yet another ; while patience, endurance, 
keenness of observation, resolution, good nerves, 
and instant readiness in an emergency, are all 
indispensable to a really good hunter. 

The chase of an animal should rank according 
as it calls for the exercise in a high degree of a 
large number of these qualities. The grizzly is 
almost our only dangerous game, and under 
certain conditions shooting the grizzly calls for 
considerable courage on the part of the hunter. 
Disregarding these comparatively rare occasions, 
the chase of mountain game, especially the big- 
horn, demands more hardihood, power of endur- 
ance, and moral and physical soundness than 
any other kind of sport, and so must come first. 
The wapiti and mule-deer rank next, for they too 
must be killed by stalking as a result of long 
tramps over very rough ground. To kill a moose 
by still hunting is a feat requiring a high degree 
of skill, and entailing severe fatigue. When game 
is followed on horseback, it means that the suc- 
cessful hunter must ride well and boldly. 

The whitetail is occasionally found where it 
yields a very high quality of sport. But normally 
it lives in regions where it is extremely difficult to 

The WUtetail Deer 81 

kill it legitimately, as the wapiti and mule-deer are 
killed, and yet comparatively easy to kill it under 
circumstances which make no demand for any 
particular prowess on the part of the hunter. It 
is far more difficult to still hunt successfully in 
the dense brushy timber frequented by the white- 
tail than in the open glades, the mountains, and 
the rocky hills, through which the wapiti and 
mule-deer wander. The difficulty arises, how- 
ever, because the chief requirement is stealth, 
noiselessness. The man who goes out into the 
hills for a mule-deer must walk hard and far, 
must be able to bear fatigue, and possibly thirst 
and hunger, must have keen eyes, and be a good 
shot. He does not need to display the extraordi- 
nary power of stealthy advance which is necessary 
to the man who would creep up to and kill a white- 
tail in thick timber. Now, the qualities of hardi- 
hood and endurance are better than the quality 
of stealth, and though all three are necessary in 
both kinds of chase, yet it is the chase of the mule- 
deer which most develops the former, and the 
chase of the whitetail which most develops the 
latter. When the woods are bare and there is 
some snow on the ground, however, still hunting 
the whitetail becomes not only possible, but a 
singularly manly and attractive kind of sport. 
Where the whitetail can be followed with horse 
and hound, the sport is of course of a very high 

82 Deer and Antelope of North America 

order. To be able to ride through woods and 
over rough country at full speed, rifle or shot- 
gun in hand, and then to leap off and shoot at a 
running object, is to show that one has the quali- 
ties which made the cavalry of Forrest so formi- 
dable in the Civil War. There could be no better 
training for the mounted rifleman, the most effi- 
cient type of modern soldier. 

By far the easiest way to kill the whitetail is 
in one or other of certain methods which entail 
very little work or skill on the part of the hunter. 
The most noxious of these, crusting in the deep 
snows, has already been spoken of. No sports- 
man worthy of the name would ever follow so 
butcherly a method. Fire hunting must also 
normally be ruled out. It is always mere murder 
if carried on by a man who sits up at a lick, and 
is not much better where the hunter walks through 
the fields not to mention the fact that on such 
a walk he is quite as apt to kill stock as to kill a 
deer. But fire hunting from a boat, or jacking, 
as it is called, though it entails absolutely no skill 
in the hunter, and though it is, and ought to be, 
forbidden, as it can best be carried on in the 
season when nursing does are particularly apt to 
be the victims, nevertheless has a certain charm 
of its own. The first deer I ever killed, when 
a boy, was obtained in this way, and I have 
always been glad to have had the experience, 

The Whitetail Deer 83 

though I have never been willing to repeat it. 
I was at the time camped out in the Adiron- 

Two or three of us, all boys of fifteen or six- 
teen, had been enjoying what was practically our 
first experience in camping out, having gone out 
with two guides, Hank Martin and Mose Sawyer, 
from Paul Smith's on Lake St. Regis. My brother 
and cousin were fond of fishing and I was not, so 
I was deputed to try to bring in a deer. I had 
a double-barrelled 12-bore gun, French pin-fire, 
with which I had industriously collected " speci- 
mens " on a trip to Egypt and around Oyster Bay, 
Long Island ; except for three or four enthralling, 
but not oversuccessful, days, after woodcock and 
quail, around the latter place, I had done no game 
shooting. As to every healthy boy with a taste 
for outdoor life, the northern forests were to me 
a veritable land of enchantment. We were en- 
camped by a stream among the tall pines, and I 
had enjoyed everything ; poling and paddling 
the boat, tramping through the woods, the cries 
of chickaree and chipmunk, of jay, woodpecker, 
chickadee, nuthatch, and cross-bill, which broke 
the forest stillness ; and, above all, the great 
reaches of sombre woodland themselves. The 
heart-shaped footprints which showed where the 
deer had come down to drink and feed on 
the marshy edges of the water made my veins 

84 Deer and Antelope of North America 

thrill ; and the nights around the flickering camp- 
fire seemed filled with romance. 

My first experiment in jacking was a failure. 
The jack, a bark lantern, was placed upon a stick 
in the bow of the boat, and I sat in a cramped 
huddle behind it, while Mose Sawyer plied the 
paddle with noiseless strength and skill in the 
stern. I proved unable to respond even to 
the very small demand made upon me, for when 
we actually did come upon a deer I failed to see 
it until it ran, when I missed it ; and on the way 
back capped my misfortune by shooting at a large 
owl which perched on a log projecting into the 
water, looking at the lantern with two glaring 

All next day I was miserably conscious of the 
smothered disfavor of my associates, and when 
night fell was told I would have another chance 
to redeem myself. This time we started across 
a carry, the guide carrying the light boat, and 
launched it in a quiet little pond about a mile off. 
Dusk was just turning into darkness when we 
reached the edge of the little lake, which was per- 
haps a mile long by three-quarters of a mile across, 
with indented shores. We did not push off for half 
an hour or so, until it was entirely dark ; and then 
for a couple of hours we saw no deer. Never- 
theless, I thoroughly enjoyed the ghostly, mys- 
terious, absolutely silent night ride over the water. 

The Whitetail Deer 85 

Not the faintest splash betrayed the work of the 
paddler. The boat glided stealthily alongshore, 
the glare of the lantern bringing out for one mo- 
ment every detail of the forest growth on the 
banks, which the next second vanished into abso- 
lute blackness. Several times we saw muskrats 
swimming across the lane of light cut by the lan- 
tern through the darkness, and two or three times 
their sudden plunging and splashing caused my 
heart to leap. Once when we crossed the lake 
we came upon a loon floating buoyantly right out 
in the middle of it. It stayed until we were within 
ten yards, so that I could see the minute outlines 
of the feathers and every movement of the eye. 
Then it swam off, but made no cry. At last, while 
crossing the mouth of a bay we heard a splashing 
sound among the lilies inshore, which even my 
untrained ears recognized as different from any 
of the other noises we had yet heard, and a jarring 
motion of the paddle showed that the paddler 
wished me to be on the alert. Without any 
warning the course of the boat was suddenly 
changed, and I was aware that we were moving 
stern foremost. Then we swung around, and I 
could soon make out that we were going down 
the little bay. The forest-covered banks nar- 
rowed ; then the marsh at the end was lighted up, 
and on its hither edge, knee-deep among the water- 
lilies, appeared the figure of a yearling buck still 

86 Deer and Antelope of North America 

in the red. It stood motionless, gazing at the 
light with a curiosity wholly unmixed with alarm, 
and at the shot wheeled and fell at the water's 
edge. We made up our mind to return to camp 
that night, as it was before midnight. I carried 
the buck and the torch, and the guide the boat, 
and the mile walk over the dim trail, occasionally 
pitching forward across a stump or root, was a 
thing to be remembered. It was my first deer, 
and I was very glad to get it ; but although only 
a boy, I had sense enough to realize that it was 
not an experience worth repeating. The paddler 
in such a case deserves considerable credit, but 
the shooter not a particle, even aside from the 
fact to which I have already alluded, that in too 
many cases such shooting results in the killing of 
nursing does. No matter how young a sportsman 
is, if he has a healthy mind, he will not long take 
pleasure in any method of hunting in which some- 
body else shows the skill and does the work so 
that his share is only nominal. The minute that 
sport is carried on on these terms it becomes a 
sham, and a sham is always detrimental to all who 
take part in it. 

Whitetail are comparatively easily killed with 
hounds, and there are very many places where 
this is almost the only way they can be killed at 
all. Formerly in the Adirondacks this method 
of hunting was carried on under circumstances 

The Wbitetail Deer 87 

which rendered those who took part in it objects 
of deserved contempt. The sportsman stood in 
a boat while his guides put out one or two hounds 
in the chosen forest side. After a longer or 
shorter run the deer took to the water ; for white- 
tail are excellent swimmers, and when pursued by 
hounds try to shake them off by wading up or 
down stream, or by swimming across a pond, and, 
if tired, come to bay in some pool or rapid. Once 
the unfortunate deer was in the water, the guide 
rowed the boat after it. If it was yet early in the 
season, and the deer was still in the red summer 
coat, he would sink when shot, and therefore the 
guide would usually take hold of its tail before 
the would-be Nimrod butchered it. If the deer 
was in the blue, the carcass would float, so it was 
not necessary to do anything quite so palpably 
absurd. But such sport, so far as the man who 
did the shooting was concerned, had not one re- 
deeming feature. The use of hounds has now 
been prohibited by law. 

In regions where there are no lakes, and where 
the woods are thick, the shooters are stationed at 
runways by which it is supposed the deer may 
pass when the hounds are after them. Under 
such circumstances the man has to show the skill 
requisite to hit the running quarry, and if he uses 
the rifle, this means that he must possess a certain 
amount of address in handling the weapon. But 

88 Deer and Antelope of North America 

no other quality is called for, and so even this 
method, though often the only possible one (and 
it may be necessary to return to it in the Adiron- 
dacks) can never rank high in the eyes of men 
who properly appreciate what big game hunting 
should be. It is the usual method of killing deer 
on Long Island, during the three or four days of 
each year when they can be legally hunted. The 
deer are found along the south and centre of the 
eastern half of the island ; they were nearly exter- 
minated a dozen years ago, but under good laws 
they have recently increased greatly. The exten- 
sive grounds of the various sportsmen's clubs, 
and the forests of scrub-oak in the scantily settled 
inland region, give them good harbors and sanctu- 
aries. On the days when it is legal to shoot them, 
hundreds of hunters turn out from the neighbor- 
hood, and indeed from all the island and from 
New York. On such a day it is almost impossible 
to get any work done ; for the sport is most demo- 
cratic, and is shared by everybody. The hunters 
choose their position before dawn, lying in lines 
wherever deer are likely to pass, while the hounds 
are turned into every patch of thick cover. A 
most lively day follows, the fusillade being terrific ; 
some men are invariably shot, and a goodly num- 
ber of deer are killed, mostly by wily old hunters 
who kill ducks and quail for a living in the fall. 
When the horse is used together with the 

The Wbitetail Deer 89 

hounds the conditions are changed. To ride a 
horse over rough country after game always 
implies hardihood and good horsemanship, and 
therefore makes the sport a worthy one. In very 
open country, in such country, for instance, as 
the whitetail formerly frequented both in Texas 
and the Indian Territory, the horseman could 
ride at the tail of the pack until the deer was 
fairly run down. But nowadays I know of no 
place where this is possible, for the whitetail's 
haunts are such as to make it impracticable for 
any rider to keep directly behind the hounds. 
What he must do is to try to cut the game off 
by riding from point to point. He then leaps 
off the horse and watches his chance for a shot. 
This is the way in which Mr. Mclllhenny has 
done most of his deer hunting, in the neighbor- 
hood of his Louisiana plantation. 

Around my ranch I very rarely tried to still- 
hunt whitetail, because it was always easier to get 
mule-deer or prongbuck, if I had time to go off 
for an all-day's hunt. Occasionally, however, we 
would have at the ranch hounds, usually of the 
old black-and-tan southern type, and then if we 
needed meat, and there was not time for a hunt 
back in the hills, we would turn out and hunt one 
or two of the river bottoms with these hounds. 
If I rode off to the prairies or the hills I went 
alone, but if the quarry was a whitetail, our chance 

90 Deer and Antelope of North America 

of success depended upon our having a sufficient 
number of guns to watch the different passes and 
runways. Accordingly, my own share of the chase 
was usually limited to the fun of listening to the 
hounds, and of galloping at headlong speed from 
one point where I thought the deer would not 
pass to some other, which, as a matter of fact, it 
did not pass either. The redeeming feature of 
the situation was that if I did get a shot, I almost 
always got my deer. Under ordinary circum- 
stances to merely wound a deer is worse than not 
hitting it ; but when there are hounds along they 
are certain to bring the wounded animal to bay, 
and so on these hunts we usually got venison. 

Of course, I occasionally did get a whitetail 
when I was alone, whether with the hounds or 
without them. There were whitetail on the very 
bottom on which the ranch-house stood, as well 
as on the bottom opposite, and on those to the 
right and left up and down stream. Occasionally 
I have taken the hounds out alone, and then as 
they chevied the whitetail around the bottom, 
have endeavored by rapid running on foot or on 
horseback to get to some place from which I 
could obtain a shot. The deer knew perfectly 
well that the hounds could not overtake them, 
and they would usually do a great deal of sneak- 
ing round and round through the underbrush and 
cottonwoods before they finally made up their 

The Whitetail Deer 91 

minds to leave the bottom. On one occasion a 
buck came sneaking down a game trail through 
the buck brush where I stood, going so low that 
I could just see the tips of his antlers, and though 
I made desperate efforts I was not able to get 
into a position from which I could obtain a shot. 
On another occasion, while I was looking intently 
into a wood through which I was certain a deer 
would pass, it deliberately took to the open ground 
behind me, and I did not see it until it was just 
vanishing. Normally, the end of my efforts was 
that the deer went off and the hounds disappeared 
after it, not to return for six or eight hours. Once 
or twice things favored me ; I happened to take 
the right turn or go in the right direction, and 
the deer happened to blunder past me ; and then 
I returned with venison for supper. Two or 
three times I shot deer about nightfall or at 
dawn, in the immediate neighborhood of the 
ranch, obtaining them by sneaking as noiselessly 
as possible along the cattle trails through the 
brush and timber, or by slipping along the edge 
of the river bank. Several times I saw deer 
while I was sitting on the piazza or on the door- 
step of the ranch, and on one occasion I stepped 
back into the house, got the rifle, and dropped 
the animal from where I stood. 

On yet other occasions I obtained whitetail 
which lived not on the river bottoms but among 

92 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the big patches of brush and timber in the larger 
creeks. When they were found in such country 
I hunted them very much as I hunted the mule- 
deer, and usually shot one when I was expecting 
as much to see a mule-deer as a whitetail. When 
the game was plentiful I would often stay on my 
horse until the moment of obtaining the shot, 
especially if it was in the early morning or late 
evening. My method then was to ride slowly 
and quietly down the winding valleys and across 
the spurs, hugging the bank, so that if deer were 
feeding in the open, I would get close up before 
either of us saw the other. Sometimes the deer 
would halt for a moment when it saw me, and 
sometimes it would bound instantly away. In 
either case my chance lay in the speed with 
which I could jump off the horse and take my 
shot. Even in favorable localities this method 
was of less avail with whitetail than mule-deer, 
because the former were so much more apt to 

As soon as game became less plentiful my 
hunting had to be done on foot. My object was 
to be on the hunting-ground by dawn, or else to 
stay out there until it grew too dark to see the 
sights of my rifle. Often all I did was to keep 
moving as quietly as possible through likely 
ground, ever on the alert for the least trace of 
game ; sometimes I would select a lookout and 

The Wbitetail Deer 93 

carefully scan a likely country to see if I could not 
detect something moving. On one occasion I ob- 
tained an old whitetail buck by the simple exercise 
of patience. I had twice found him in a broad 
basin, composed of several coulies, all running 
down to form the head of a big creek, and all of 
them well timbered. He dodged me on both 
occasions, and I made up my mind that I would 
spend a whole day in watching for him from a 
little natural ambush of sage brush and cedar on 
a high point which overlooked the entire basin. 
I crept up to my ambush with the utmost caution 
early in the morning, and there I spent the entire 
day, with my lunch and a water-bottle, continually 
scanning the whole region most carefully with 
the glasses. The day passed less monotonously 
than it sounds, for every now and then I would 
catch a glimpse of wild life ; once a fox, once a 
coyote, and once a badger ; while the little chip- 
munks had a fine time playing all around me. At 
last, about mid-afternoon, I suddenly saw the buck 
come quietly out of the dense thicket in which he 
had made his midday bed, and deliberately walk 
up a hillside and lie down in a thin clump of ash 
where the sun could get at him for it was in 
September, just before the rut began. There was 
no chance of stalking him in the place he had 
chosen, and all I could do was to wait. It was 
nearly sunset before he moved again, except that 

94 Deer and Antelope of North America 

I occasionally saw him shift his head. Then he 
got up and after carefully scrutinizing all the 
neighborhood, moved down into a patch of fairly 
thick brush, where I could see him standing and 
occasionally feeding, all the time moving slowly 
up the valley. I now slipped most cautiously 
back and trotted nearly a mile until I could come 
up behind one of the ridges bounding the valley 
in which he was. The wind had dropped, and it 
was almost absolutely still when I crawled flat on 
my face to the crest, my hat in my left hand, my 
rifle in my right. There was a big sage bush con- 
veniently near, and under this I peered. There 
was a good deal of brush in the valley below, and 
if I had not known that the buck was there, I would 
never have discovered him. As it was, I watched 
for a quarter of an hour, and had about made up 
my mind that he must have gone somewhere else, 
when a slight movement nearly below me attracted 
my attention, and I caught a glimpse of him, 
nearly three hundred yards off, moving quietly 
along by the side of a little dry watercourse which 
was right in the middle of the brush. I waited 
until he was well past, and then again slipped 
back with the utmost care, and ran on until I was 
nearly opposite the head of the coulie, when I 
again approached the ridge line. Here there was 
no sage brush, only tufts of tall grass, which were 
stirring in the little breeze which had just sprung 

The WUtetail Deer 95 

up fortunately in the right direction. Taking 
advantage of a slight inequality in the soil, I 
managed to get behind one of these tufts, and 
almost immediately saw the buck. Toward the 
head of the coulie the brush had become scanty 
and low, and he was now walking straight for- 
ward, evidently keeping a sharp lookout. The 
sun had just set. His course took him past me 
at a distance of eighty yards. When directly 
opposite I raised myself on my elbows, drawing 
up the rifle, which I had shoved ahead of me. 
The movement of course caught his eye at once ; 
he halted for one second to look around and see 
what it was, and during that second I pulled the 
trigger. Away he went, his white flag switching 
desperately, and though he galloped over the hill, 
I felt he was mine. However, when I got to the 
top of the rise over which he had gone, I could 
not see him, and as there was a deep though 
narrow coulie filled with brush on the other side, 
I had a very ugly feeling that I might have lost 
him, in spite of the quantity of blood he had left 
along his trail. It was getting dark, and I plunged 
quickly into the coulie. Usually a wounded deer 
should not be followed until it has had time to grow 
stiff, but this was just one of the cases where the 
rule would have worked badly ; in the first place, 
because darkness was coming on, and in the next 
place, because the animal was certain to die 

96 Deer and Antelope of North America 

shortly, and all that I wanted was to see where 
he was. I followed his trail into the coulie, and 
expected to find that he had turned down it, but 
a hurried examination in the fading light showed 
me that he had taken the opposite course, and I 
scrambled hastily out on the other side, and 
trotted along, staring into the brush, and now 
and then shouting or throwing in a clod of earth. 
When nearly at the head there was a crackling 
in the brush, and out burst the wounded buck. 
He disappeared behind a clump of elms, but he 
had a hard hill to go up, and the effort was too 
much for him. When I next saw him he had 
halted, and before I could fire again down he* 

On another occasion I spied a whole herd of 
whitetail feeding in a natural meadow, right out 
in the open, in mid-afternoon, and was able to get 
up so close that when I finally shot a yearling 
buck (which was one of the deer farthest away 
from me, there being no big buck in the outfit) 
the remaining deer, all does and fawns, scattered 
in every direction, some galloping right past me 
in their panic. Once or twice I was able to per- 
form a feat of which I had read, but in which I 
scarcely believed. This was to creep up to a deer 
while feeding in the open, by watching when it 
shook its tail, and then remaining motionless. I 
cannot say whether the habit is a universal one, 

Tbe WMetail Deer 97 

but on two occasions at least I was able thus to 
creep up to the feeding deer, because before lift- 
ing its head it invariably shook its tail, thereby 
warning me to stay without moving until it had 
lifted its head, scrutinized the landscape, and again 
lowered its head to graze. The eyesight of the 
whitetail, as compared with that of the prong- 
horn antelope, is poor. It notes whatever is in 
motion, but it seems unable to distinguish clearly 
anything that is not in motion. On the occa- 
sions in question no antelope that I have ever 
seen would have failed to notice me at once and 
to take alarm. But the whitetail, although it 
scrutinized me narrowly, while I lay motionless 
with my head toward it, seemed in each case to 
think that I must be harmless, and after a while it 
would go on feeding. In one instance the ani- 
mal fed over a ridge and walked off before I 
could get a shot ; in the other instance I killed it. 



THE prongbuck or pronghorn antelope, known 
throughout its range simply as antelope, is a very 
extraordinary creature, being the only hollow-horn 
ruminant known which annually sheds its horns 
as deer do their antlers. Of course, only the horn 
sheaths are shed, leaving underneath the soft 
and bristle-haired new horn already partially 
formed on the bone cores. The shedding takes 
place in the late fall. After a few days the new 
horns harden, and in consequence there is only a 
very brief time during which any signs are left of 
the shedding. This is the reason why the fact 
was so long doubted. The hair of the antelope is 
very peculiar, being stiff, coarse, and springy. 
It is rather loosely attached to the skin, so that 
the hide is not valuable. When the animal is 
alarmed or excited it has the power of erecting 
all the brilliantly white hair on the rump, so as 
to greatly add to its already existing conspicu- 

The prongbuck is an animal of the open 
plains. In the old days it was found as soon as 


The Pronghorn Antelope 99 

the westward-moving traveller left the green bot- 
tom-lands of the Mississippi, and from thence 
across to the dry, open valleys of California, and 
northward to Canada and southward into Mexico. 
It has everywhere been gradually thinned out, and 
has vanished altogether from what were formerly 
the extreme easterly and westerly limits of its 
range. In dealing with the mule-deer I have 
already explained how unequal the rates of exter- 
mination of the different kinds of big game have 
been in different localities. Each kind of big 
game has had its own peculiar habitat in which it 
throve best, and each has also been found more 
or less plentifully in other regions where the cir- 
cumstances were less favorable ; and in these 
comparatively unfavorable regions it early tends 
to disappear before the advance of man. In con- 
sequence, where the ranges of the different game 
animals overlap and are intertwined, one will dis- 
appear first in one locality, and another will dis- 
appear first where the conditions are different. 
Thus the whitetail deer had thrust forward along 
the very narrow river bottoms into the domain of 
the mule-deer and the prongbuck among the 
foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains, and in these 
places it was exterminated from the narrow strips 
which it inhabited long before the mule-deer 
vanished from the high hills, or the prongbuck 
from the great open plains. But along great 

ioo Deer and Antelope of North America 

portions of the Missouri there are plenty of white- 
tails yet left in the river bottoms, while the mule- 
deer that once dwelt in the broken hills behind 
them, and the prongbuck which lived on the 
prairie just back of these bluffs, have both disap- 
peared. In the same way the mule-deer and 
the prongbuck are often found almost intermin- 
gled through large regions in which plains, hills, 
and mountains alternate. If such a region is 
mainly mountainous, but contains a few valleys 
and tablelands, the prongbuck is sure to vanish 
from the latter before the mule-deer vanishes from 
the broken country. But if the region is one 
primarily of plains, with here and there rows of 
rocky hills in which the mule-deer is found, the 
latter is killed off long before the prongbuck can 
be hunted out of the great open stretches. The 
same is true of the pronghorn and the wapiti. The 
size and value of the wapiti make it an object of 
eager persecution on the part of hunters. But 
as it can live in the forest-clad fastnesses of the 
Rockies, into which settlement does not go, it 
outlasts over great regions the pronghorn, whose 
abode is easily penetrated by sheep and cattle men. 
Under anything like even conditions, however, 
the prongbuck, of course, outlasts the wapiti. 
This was the case on the Little Missouri. On 
that stream the bighorn also outlasted the wapiti. 
In 1 88 1 wapiti were still much more plentiful 


Tbe Pronghorn Antelope 101 

than bighorns. Within the next decade they 
had almost totally disappeared, while the bighorn 
was still to be found ; I shot one and saw others 
in 1893, at which time I had not authentic in- 
formation of a single wapiti remaining anywhere 
on the river in my neighborhood, although it is 
possible that one or two still lurked in some 
out-of-the-way recess. In Colorado at one time 
the bighorn was killed out much more rapidly 
than the wapiti ; but of late years in that state 
the rapidity of destruction of the latter has in- 
creased far beyond what is true in the case of the 

I mention these facts partly because they are 
of interest in themselves, but chiefly because they 
tend to explain the widely different opinions ex- 
pressed by competent observers about what seem 
superficially to be similar facts. It cannot be too 
often repeated that allowance must be made for 
the individual variability of the traits and charac- 
ters of animals of the same species, and especially 
of the same species under different circumstances 
and in different localities; and allowance must 
also be made for the variability of the individual 
factor in the observers themselves. Many seem- 
ingly contradictory observations of the habits of 
deer, wapiti, and prongbuck will be found in books 
by the best hunters. Take such questions as the 
keenness of sight of the deer as compared with 

102 Deer and Antelope of North America 

the prongbuck, and of the pugnacity of the wapiti, 
both actual and relative, and a wide difference of 
opinion will be found in three such standard works 
as Dodge's " The Hunting-grounds of the Great 
West," Caton's " Deer and Antelope of America," 
and the contributions of Mr. Grinnell to the " Cen- 
tury Book of Sports." Sometimes the difference 
will be in mere matters of opinion, as, for instance, 
in the belief as to the relative worth of the sport 
furnished by the chase of the different creatures ; 
but sometimes there is a direct conflict of fact. 
Colonel Dodge, for instance, has put it upon record 
that the wapiti is an exceedingly gentle animal, 
less dangerous than a whitetail or blacktail buck 
in a close encounter, and that the bulls hardly ever 
fight among themselves. My own experience leads 
me to traverse in the most emphatic manner every 
one of these conclusions, and all hunters whom 
I have met feel exactly as I do ; yet no one would 
question for a moment Colonel Dodge's general 
competency as an observer. In the same way Mr. 
Grinnell has a high opinion of the deer's keenness 
of sight. Judge Caton absolutely disagrees with 
him, and my own experience tends to agree with 
that of the Judge at least to the extent of plac- 
ing the deer's vision far below that of the prong- 
buck and even that of the bighorn, and only on a 
par with that of the wapiti. Yet Mr. Grinnell is 
an unusually competent observer, whose opinion 

The Prongborn Antelope 103 

on any such subject is entitled to unqualified re- 

Difference in habits may be due simply to dif- 
ference of locality, or to the need of adaptation to 
new conditions. The prongbuck's habits about 
migration offer examples of the former kind of 
difference. Over portions of its range the prong- 
buck is not migratory at all. In other parts the 
migrations are purely local. In yet other regions 
the migrations are continued for great distances, 
immense multitudes of the animals going to and 
fro in the spring and fall along well-beaten tracks. 
I know of one place in New Mexico where the 
pronghorn herds are tenants of certain great plains 
throughout the entire year. I know another 
region in northwestern Colorado where the very 
few prongbucks still left, though they shift from 
valley to valley, yet spend the whole year in the 
same stretch of rolling, barren country. On the 
Little Missouri, however, during the eighties and 
early nineties, there was a very distinct though 
usually local migration. Before the Black Hills had 
been settled they were famous wintering places for 
the antelope, which swarmed from great distances 
to them when cold weather approached ; those which 
had summered east of the Big Missouri actually 
swam the river in great herds, on their journey to 
the Hills. The old hunters around my ranch in- 
sisted that formerly the prongbuck had for the 

104 Deer and Antelope of North America 

most part travelled from the Little Missouri Bad 
Lands into the Black Hills for the winter. 

When I was ranching on that river, however, 
this custom no longer obtained, for the Black 
Hills were too well settled, and the herds of prong- 
buck that wintered there were steadily diminish- 
ing in numbers. At that time, from 1883 to 1896, 
the seasonal change in habits, and shift of posi- 
tion, of the prongbucks were well marked. As 
soon as the new grass sprang they appeared in 
great numbers upon the plains. They were espe- 
cially fond of the green, tender blades that came 
up where the country had been burned over. If 
the region had been devastated by prairie fires in 
the fall, the next spring it was certain to contain 
hundreds and thousands of prongbucks. All 
through the summer they remained out on these 
great open plains, coming to drink at the little 
pools in the creek beds, and living where there 
was no shelter of any kind. As winter approached 
they began to gather in bands. Some of these 
bands apparently had regular wintering places to 
the south of us, in Pretty Buttes and beyond ; and 
close to my ranch, at the crossing of the creek 
called Beaver, there were certain trails which these 
antelope regularly travelled, northward in the 
spring and southward in the fall. But other bands 
would seek out places in the Bad Lands near by, 
gathering together on some succession of plateaus 

The Pronghorn Antelope 105 

which were protected by neighboring hills from 
the deep drifts of snow. Here they passed the 
winter, on short commons, it is true (they graze, 
not browsing like deer), but without danger of 
perishing in the snow-drifts. On the other hand, 
if the skin hunters discovered such a wintering 
place, they were able to butcher practically the 
entire band, if they so desired, as the prongbucks 
were always most reluctant to leave such a chosen 

Normally the prongbuck avoids both broken 
ground and timber. It is a queer animal, with 
keen senses, but with streaks of utter folly in its 
character. Time and again I have known bands 
rush right by me, when I happened to surprise 
them feeding near timber or hills, and got between 
them and the open plains. The animals could 
have escaped without the least difficulty if they 
had been willing to go into the broken country, 
or through even a few rods of trees and brush ; 
and yet they preferred to rush madly by me at 
close range, in order to get out to their favorite 
haunts. But nowadays there are certain localities 
where the prongbucks spend a large part of their 
time in the timber or in rough, hilly country, feeding 
and bringing up their young in such localities. 

Typically, however, the prongbuck is pre- 
eminently a beast of the great open plains, eat- 
ing their harsh, dry pasturage, and trusting to its 

io6 Deer and Antelope of North America 

own keen senses and speed for its safety. All 
the deer are fond of skulking ; the whitetail pre- 
eminently so. The prongbuck, on the contrary, 
never endeavors to elude observation. Its sole 
aim is to be able to see its enemies, and it cares 
nothing whatever about its enemies seeing it. Its 
coloring is very conspicuous, and is rendered 
still more so by its habit of erecting the white 
hair on its rump. It has a very erect carriage, 
and when it thinks itself in danger it always 
endeavors to get on some crest or low hill from 
which it can look all about The great bulging 
eyes, situated at the base of the horns, scan the 
horizon far and near like twin telescopes. They 
pick out an object at such a distance that it would 
entirely escape the notice of a deer. When sus- 
picious, they have a habit of barking, uttering a 
sound something like " kau," and repeating it 
again and again, as they walk up and down, 
endeavoring to find out if danger lurks in the 
unusual object. They are extremely curious, and 
in the old days it was often possible to lure them 
toward the hunter by waving a red handkerchief 
to and fro on a stick, or even by lying on one's 
back and kicking the legs. Nowadays, however, 
there are very few localities indeed in which they 
are sufficiently unsophisticated to make it worth 
while trying these time-honored tricks of the long- 
vanished trappers and hunters. 

The Pronghorn Antelope 107 

Along the Little Missouri the fawns, sometimes 
one and sometimes two in number, were dropped 
in May or early in June. At that time the ante- 
lope were usually found in herds which the mother 
did not leave until she was about to give birth to 
the fawn. During the first few days the fawn's 
safety is to be found only in its not attracting 
attention. During this time it normally lies per- 
fectly flat on the ground, with its head outstretched, 
and makes no effort to escape. While out on the 
spring round-up I have come across many of these 
fawns. Once, in company with several cowboys, 
I was riding behind a bunch of cattle which, as 
we hurried them, spread out in open order ahead 
of us. Happening to cast down my eyes I saw 
an antelope fawn directly ahead of me. The 
bunch of cattle had passed all around it, but it 
made not the slightest sign, not even when I 
halted, got off my pony, and took it up in my 
arms. It was useless to take it to camp and try 
to rear it, and so I speedily put it down again. 
Scanning the neighborhood I saw the doe hang- 
ing about some half a mile off, and when I looked 
back from the next divide I could see her gradu- 
ally drawing near to the fawn. 

If taken when very young, antelope make cun- 
ning and amusing pets, and I have often seen 
them around the ranches. There was one in the 
ranch of a Mrs. Blank who had a station on the 

io8 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Deadwood stage line some eighteen years ago. 
She was a great worker in buckskin, and I got 
her to make me the buckskin shirt I still use. 
There was an antelope fawn that lived at the 
house, wandering wherever it wished ; but it 
would not permit me to touch it. As I sat in- 
side the house it would come in and hop up on 
a chair, looking at me sharply all the while. No 
matter how cautiously I approached, I could never 
put my hand upon it, as at the last moment it 
would spring off literally as quick as a bird would 
fly. One of my neighbors on the Little Missouri, 
Mr. Howard Eaton, had at one time upon his 
ranch three little antelope whose foster mother 
was a sheep, and who were really absurdly tame. 
I was fond of patting them and of giving them 
crusts, and the result was that they followed me 
about so closely that I had to be always on the 
lookout to see that I did not injure them. They 
were on excellent terms with the dogs, and were 
very playful. It was a comic sight to see them 
skipping and hopping about the old ewe when 
anything happened to alarm her and she started 
off at a clumsy waddle. Nothing could surpass 
the tameness of the antelope that are now under 
Mr. Hornaday's care at the Bronx Zoological 
Garden in New York. The last time that I 
visited the garden some repairs were being made 
inside the antelope enclosure, and a dozen work- 

The Pronghorn Antelope 109 

men had gone in to make them. The antelope 
regarded the workmen with a friendliness and 
curiosity untempered by the slightest touch of 
apprehension. When the men took off their 
coats the little creatures would nose them over 
to see if they contained anything edible, and they 
would come close up and watch the men plying 
the pick with the utmost interest. Mr. Hornaday 
took us inside, and they all came up in the most 
friendly manner. One or two of the bucks would 
put their heads against our legs and try to push 
us around, but not roughly. Mr. Hornaday told 
me that he was having great difficulty, exactly as 
with the mule-deer, in acclimatizing the antelope, 
especially as the food was so different from what 
they were accustomed to in their native haunts. 

The wild fawns are able to run well a few days 
after they are born. They then accompany the 
mother everywhere. Sometimes she joins a band 
of others; more often she stays alone with her 
fawn, and perhaps one of the young of the previ- 
ous year, until the rut begins. Of all game the 
prongbuck seems to me the most excitable during 
the rut. The males run the does much as do the 
bucks of the mule and whitetail deer. If there 
are no does present, I have sometimes watched a 
buck run to and fro by himself. The first time I 
saw this I was greatly interested, and could form 
no idea of what the buck was doing. He was by 

no Deer and Antelope of North America 

a creek bed in a slight depression or shallow val- 
ley, and was grazing uneasily. After a little while 
he suddenly started and ran just as hard as he 
could, off in a straight direction, nearly away from 
me. I thought that somehow or other he had 
discovered my presence ; but he suddenly wheeled 
and came back to the original place, still running 
at his utmost speed. Then he halted, moved about 
with the white hairs on his rump outspread, and 
again dashed off at full speed, halted, wheeled, 
and came back. Two or three times he did this, 
and let me get up very close to him before he dis- 
covered me. I was too much interested in what 
he was doing to desire to shoot him. 

In September, sometimes not earlier than Octo- 
ber, the big bucks begin to gather the does into 
harems. Each buck is then constantly on the 
watch to protect his harem from outsiders, and 
steal another doe if he can get a chance. I have 
seen a comparatively young buck who had ap- 
propriated a doe, hustle her hastily out of the 
country as soon as he saw another antelope in 
the neighborhood; while, on the other hand, a 
big buck, already with a good herd of does, will do 
his best to appropriate any other that comes in 
sight. The bucks fight fearlessly but harmlessly 
among themselves, locking their horns and then 
pushing as hard as they can. 

Although their horns are not very formidable 

The Pronghorn Antelope in 

weapons, they are bold little creatures, and if 
given a chance will stand at bay before either 
hound or coyote. A doe will fight most gallantly 
for her fawn, and is an overmatch for a single 
coyote, but of course she can do but little against 
a large wolf. The wolves are occasionally very 
destructive to the herds. The cougar, however, 
which is a much worse foe than the wolf to deer 
and mountain sheep, can but rarely molest the 
prongbuck, owing to the nature of the latter's 
haunts. Eagles, on occasion, take the fawns as 
they do those of deer. 

I have always been very fond of the chase of the 
prongbuck. While I lived on my ranch on the 
Little Missouri it was, next to the mule-deer, 
the game which I most often followed, and on the 
long wagon trips which I occasionally took from 
my ranch to the Black Hills, to the Big Horn 
Mountains, or into eastern Montana, prongbuck 
venison was our usual fresh meat, save when we 
could kill prairie-chickens and ducks with our 
rifles, which was not always feasible. In my 
mind the prongbuck is always associated with the 
open prairies during the spring, summer, or the 
early fall. It has happened that I have generally 
pursued the bighorn in bitter weather ; and when 
we laid in our stock' of winter meat, mule-deer was 
our usual game. Though I have shot prongbuck 
in winter, I never liked to do so, as I felt the ani- 

1 1 2 Deer and Antelope of North America 

mals were then having a sufficiently hard struggle 
for existence anyhow. But in the spring the meat 
of the prongbuck was better than that of any other 
game, and, moreover, there was not the least dan- 
ger of mistaking the sexes, and killing a doe acci- 
dentally, and accordingly I rarely killed anything 
but pronghorns at that season. In those days 
we never got any fresh meat, whether on the 
ranch or while on the round-up or on a wagon 
trip, unless we shot it, and salt pork became a 
most monotonous diet after a time. 

Occasionally I killed the prongbuck in a day's 
hunt from my ranch. If I started with the 
intention of prongbuck hunting, I always went 
on horseback ; but twice I killed them on foot 
when I happened to run across them by accident 
while looking for mule-deer. I shall always re- 
member one of these occasions. I was alone in 
the Elkhorn ranch-house at the time, my fore- 
man and the only cowpuncher who was not on 
the round-up having driven to Medora, some forty 
miles away, in order to bring down the foreman's 
wife and sister, who were going to spend the sum- 
mer with him. It was the fourth day of his ab- 
sence. I expected him in the evening and wanted 
to have fresh meat, and so after dinner I shoul- 
dered my rifle and strolled off through the hills. 
It was too early in the day to expect to see any- 
thing, and my intention was simply to walk out 


The Prongborn Antelope 113 

until I was five or six miles from the ranch, and 
then work carefully home through a likely coun- 
try toward sunset, as by this arrangement I would 
be in a good game region at the very time that 
the animals were likely to stir abroad. It was a 
glaring, late-spring day, and in the hot sun of 
mid-afternoon I had no idea that anything would 
be moving, and was not keeping a very sharp look- 
out. After an hour or two's steady tramping I 
came into a long, narrow valley, bare of trees and 
brushwood, and strolled along it, following a 
cattle trail that led up the middle. The hills 
rose steeply into a ridge crest on each side, sheer 
clay shoulders breaking the mat of buffalo-grass 
which elsewhere covered the sides of the valley as 
well as the bottom. It was very hot and still, and 
I was paying but little attention to my surround- 
ings, when my eye caught a sudden movement on 
the ridge crest to my right, and, dropping on one 
knee as I wheeled around, I saw the head and 
neck of a prongbuck rising above the crest. The 
animal was not above a hundred yards off, and 
stood motionless as it stared at me. At the crack 
of the rifle the head disappeared ; but as I sprang 
clear of the smoke I saw a cloud of dust rise on 
the other side of the ridge crest, and felt con- 
vinced that the quarry had fallen. I was right. 
On climbing the ridge crest I found that on the 
other side it sank abruptly in a low cliff of clay, 

ii4 Deer and Antelope of North America 

and at the foot of this, thirty feet under me, the 
prongbuck lay with its neck broken. After dress- 
ing it I shouldered the body entire, thinking that 
I should like to impress the newcomers by the 
sight of so tangible a proof of my hunting prow- 
ess as a whole prongbuck hanging up in the cot- 
tonwoods by the house. As it was a well-grown 
buck the walk home under the hot sun was one 
of genuine toil. 

The spot where I ran across this prongbuck 
was miles away from the nearest plains, and it 
was very unusual to see one in such rough coun- 
try. In fact, the occurrence was wholly excep- 
tional ; just as I once saw three bighorn rams, 
which usually keep to the roughest country, delib- 
erately crossing the river bottom below my ranch, 
and going for half a mile through the thick cot- 
tonwood timber. Occasionally, however, parties 
of prongbuck came down the creek bottoms to 
the river. Once I struck a couple of young bucks 
in the bottom of a creek which led to the Chim- 
ney Butte ranch-house, and stalked them without 
difficulty; for prongbuck are conspicuous and 
make no effort to hide, and where there is good 
cover even their sharp eyes do not avail them. 
On another occasion several does and fawns, 
which we did not molest, spent some time on 
what we called " the corral bottom," which was 
two or three miles above the ranch-house. In 

The Prongborn Antelope 115 

the middle of this bottom we had built a corral 
for better convenience in branding the calves when 
the round-up came near our ranch as the bottom 
on which the ranch-house stood was so thickly 
wooded as to make it difficult to work cattle 
thereon. The does and fawns hung around the 
corral bottom for some little time, and showed 
themselves very curious and by no means shy. 

When I went from the ranch for a day's prong- 
buck hunting of set purpose, I always rode a stout 
horse and started by dawn. The prongbucks are 
almost the only game that can be hunted as well 
during the heat of the day as at any other time. 
They occasionally lie down for two or three hours 
about noon in some hollow where they cannot be 
seen, but usually there is no place where they are 
sure they can escape observation even when rest- 
ing ; and when this is the case they choose a some- 
what conspicuous station and trust to their own 
powers of observation, exactly as they do when 
feeding. There is therefore no necessity, as with 
deer, of trying to strike them at dawn or dusk. 
The reason why I left the ranch before sunrise 
and often came back long after dark was because 
I had to ride at least a dozen miles to get out to 
the ground and a dozen to get back, and if after 
industrious walking I failed at first to find my 
game, I would often take the horse again and 
ride for an hour or two to get into new country. 

n 6 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Prongbuck water once a day, often travelling great 
distances to or from some little pool or spring. 
Of course, if possible, I liked to leave the horse 
by such a pool or spring. On the great plains to 
which I used to make these excursions there was 
plenty of water in early spring, and it would often 
run, here and there, in the upper courses of some 
of the creeks which, however, usually contained 
running water only when there had been a cloud- 
burst or freshet. As the season wore on the 
country became drier and drier. Water would 
remain only in an occasional deep hole, and few 
springs were left in which there was so much as 
a trickle. In a strange country I could not tell 
where these water-holes were, but in the neigh- 
borhood of the ranch I of course knew where I 
was likely to find them. Often, however, I was 
disappointed ; and more than once after travelling 
many miles to where I hoped to find water, there 
would be nothing but sun-cracked mud, and the 
horse and I would have eighteen hours of thirst 
in consequence. A ranch horse, however, is ac- 
customed to such incidents, and of course when a 
man spends half the day riding, it is merely a 
matter of slight inconvenience to go as long with- 
out a drink. 

Nevertheless, if I did reach a spring, it turned 
the expedition into pleasure instead of toil. Even 
in the hot weather the ride toward the plains over 

The Pronghorn Antelope 117 

the hills was very lovely. It was beautiful to see 
the red dawn quicken from the first glimmering 
gray in the east, and then to watch the crimson 
bars glint on the tops of the fantastically shaped 
barren hills when the sun flamed, burning and 
splendid, above the horizon. In the early morn- 
ing the level beams brought out into sharp relief 
the strangely carved and channelled cliff walls of 
the buttes. There was rarely a cloud to dim the 
serene blue of the sky. By the time the heat had 
grown heavy I had usually reached the spring or 
pool, where I unsaddled the horse, watered him, 
and picketed him out to graze. Then, under the 
hot sun I would stride off for the hunting proper. 
On such occasions I never went to where the 
prairie was absolutely flat. There were always 
gently rolling stretches broken by shallow water- 
courses, slight divides, and even low mounds, some- 
times topped with strangely shaped masses of red 
scoria or with petrified trees. My object, of course, 
was, either with my unaided eyes or with the help 
of my glasses, to catch sight of the prongbucks 
before they saw me. I speedily found, by the 
way, that if they were too plentiful this was almost 
impossible. The more abundant deer are in a 
given locality the more apt one is to run across 
them, and of course if the country is sufficiently 
broken, the same is true of prongbucks; but 
where it is very flat and there are many different 

1 1 8 Deer and Antelope of North America 

bands in sight at the same time, it is practically 
impossible to keep out of sight of all of them, and 
as they are also all in sight of one another, if one 
flees the others are certain to take the alarm. 
Under such circumstances I have usually found 
that the only pronghorns I got were obtained by 
accident, so to speak ; that is, by some of them un- 
expectedly running my way, or by my happening 
to come across them in some nook where I could 
not see them, or they me. 

On ordinary occasions I found that in an exas- 
peratingly large proportion of cases the prongbuck 
saw me either before or during the attempted stalk. 
By exercising great care, however, and worming 
my way under cover of every inequality, I was 
almost certain to get one or more chances. The 
shot was usually taken at least at twice the distance 
that would be necessary in stalking a mule-deer or 
a wapiti. This, of course, meant that there was a 
far greater chance for a miss. On the other hand, 
the very open nature of the country often enabled 
me to put in many shots, and in addition, I would 
frequently be tempted by pronghorns standing 
still and looking at me at a range where it was 
unlikely that I would hit them, and still entirely 
possible. In consequence, I found that I expended 
a much greater number of cartridges for every 
head of antelope killed than was the case in any 
other kind of chase. If successful, I would sling 

Tbe Pronghorn Antelope 119 

the buck or bucks behind the saddle, keeping them 
in place by passing the lariat diagonally under the 
horse's belly from the horn of the saddle to the 
legs of the antelope, running it through slits in 
the sinews, and passing it back again to the saddle- 
horn ; afterward repeating the operation with the 
legs on the other side. This arrangement renders 
it impossible for the carcass to shift, no matter 
4 what antics the horse may perform. 

Usually, however, my pronghorn hunting has 
been done while I have been off with a wagon on 
a trip intended primarily for the chase, or else 
while travelling for some other purpose. 

All life in the wilderness is so pleasant that the 
temptation is to consider each particular variety, 
while one is enjoying it, as better than any other. 
A canoe trip through the great forests, a trip with 
a pack-train among the mountains, a trip on snow- 
shoes through the silent, mysterious fairyland of 
the woods in winter each has its peculiar charm. 
To some men the sunny monotony of the great 
plains is wearisome ; personally there are few 
things I have enjoyed more than journeying over 
them where the game was at all plentiful. Some- 
times I have gone off for three or four days alone 
on horseback, with a slicker or oilskin coat behind 
the saddle, and some salt and hardtack as my sole 
provisions. But for comfort on a trip of any length 
it was always desirable to have a wagon. My reg- 

120 Deer and Antelope of North America 

ular outfit consisted of a wagon and team driven 
by one man who cooked, together with another 
man and four riding ponies, two of which we rode, 
while the other two were either driven loose or led 
behind the wagon. While it is eminently desira- 
ble that a hunter should be able to rough it, and 
should be entirely willing to put up with the bare 
minimum of necessities, and to undergo great 
fatigue and hardship, it is yet not at all necessary 
that he should refrain from comfort of a whole- 
some sort when it is obtainable. By taking the 
wagon we could carry a tent to put up if there 
was foul weather. I had a change of clothes to 
put on if I was wet, two or three books to read 
and nothing adds more to the enjoyment of a 
hunting trip as well as plenty of food ; while 
having two men made me entirely foot-loose as 
regards camp, so that I could hunt whenever I 
pleased, and, if I came in tired, I simply rested, 
instead of spending two or three hours in pitch- 
ing camp, cooking, tethering horses, and doing 
the innumerable other little things which in the 
aggregate amount to so much. 

On such a trip, when we got into unknown 
country it was of course very necessary to stay 
near the wagon, especially if we had to hunt for 
water. But if we knew the country at all, we 
would decide in the morning about where the 
camp was to be made in the afternoon, and then 

The Pronghorn Antelope 121 

I would lope off on my own account, while the 
wagon lumbered slowly across the rough prairie 
sward straight toward its destination. Some- 
times I took the spare man with me, and some- 
times not. It was convenient to have him, for 
there are continually small emergencies in which 
it is well to be with a companion. For instance, 
if one jumps off for a sudden shot, there is always 
a slight possibility that any but a thoroughly 
trained horse will get frightened and gallop away. 
On some of my horses I could absolutely depend, 
but there were others, and very good ones too, 
which would on rare occasions fail me ; and few 
things are more disheartening than a long stern 
chase after one's steed under such circumstances, 
with the unpleasant possibility of seeing him 
leave the country entirely and strike out for the 
ranch fifty or sixty miles distant. If there is a 
companion with one, all danger of this is over. 
Moreover, in galloping at full speed after the 
game it is impossible now and then to avoid a 
tumble, as the horse may put his leg into a prairie- 
dog hole or badger burrow, and on such occasions 
a companion may come in very handily. On the 
other hand, there is so great a charm in absolute 
solitude, in the wild, lonely freedom of the great 
plains, that often I would make some excuse and 
go off entirely by myself. 

Such rides had a fascination of their own. 

122 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Hour after hour the wiry pony shuffled onward 
across the sea of short, matted grass. On every 
side the plains stretched seemingly limitless. 
Sometimes there would be no object to break 
the horizon; sometimes across a score of miles 
there would loom through the clear air the fan- 
tastic outlines of a chain of buttes, rising grim and 
barren. Occasionally there might be a slightly 
marked watercourse, every drop of moisture long 
dried; and usually there would not be as much 
as the smallest sage brush anywhere in sight. As 
the sun rose higher and higher the shadows of 
horse and rider shortened, and the beams were 
reflected from the short, bleached blades until in 
the hot air all the landscape afar off seemed to 
dance and waver. Often on such trips days went 
by without our coming across another human 
being, and the loneliness and vastness of the 
country seemed as unbroken as if the old van- 
ished days had returned the days of the wild 
wilderness wanderers, and the teeming myriads 
of game they followed, and the scarcely wilder 
savages against whom they warred. 

Now and then prongbuck would appear, singly 
or in bands; and their sharp bark of alarm or 
curiosity would come to me through the still, hot 
air over great distances, as they stood with head 
erect looking at me, the white patches on their 
rumps shining in the sun, and the bands and 

The Pronghorn Antelope 123 

markings on their heads and necks showing as 
if they were in livery. Scan the country as care- 
fully as I would, they were far more apt to see 
me than I was them, and once they had seen me, 
it was normally hopeless to expect to get them. 
But their strange freakishness of nature frequently 
offset the keenness of their senses. At least half 
of the prongbucks which I shot were obtained, 
not by stalking, but by coming across them purely 
through their own fault. Though the prairie 
seemed level, there was really a constant series 
of undulations, shallow and of varying width. 
Now and then as I topped some slight rise I 
would catch a glimpse of a little band of prong- 
horns feeding, and would slip off my horse before 
they could see me. A hasty determination as to 
where the best chance of approaching them lay 
would be followed by a half-hour's laborious 
crawl, a good part of the time flat on my face. 
They might discover me when I was still too far 
for a shot ; or by taking advantage of every little 
inequality I might get within long range before 
they got a glimpse of me, and then in a reason- 
able proportion of cases I would bag my buck. 
At other times the buck would come to me. 
Perhaps one would suddenly appear over a divide 
himself, and his curiosity would cause him to 
stand motionless long enough to give me a shot ; 
while on other occasions I have known one which 

124 Deer and Antelope of North America 

was out of range to linger around, shifting his 
position as I shifted mine, until by some sudden 
gallop or twist I was able to get close enough to 
empty my magazine at him. 

When the shadows had lengthened, but before 
any coolness had come into the air, I would head 
for the appointed camping-place. Sometimes 
this would be on the brink of some desolate little 
pool under a low, treeless butte, or out on the 
open prairie where the only wood was what we 
had brought with us. At other times I would 
find the wagon drawn up on the edge of some 
shrunken plains river, under a line of great cotton- 
woods with splintered branches and glossy leaves 
that rustled all day long. Such a camp was al- 
ways comfortable, for there was an abundance of 
wood for the fire, plenty of water, and thick feed 
in which the horses grazed one or two being 
picketed and the others feeding loose until night 
came on. If I had killed a prongbuck, steaks 
were speedily sizzling in the frying-pan over the 
hot coals. If I had failed to get anything, I would 
often walk a mile or two down or up the river to 
see if I could not kill a couple of prairie-chickens 
or ducks. If the evening was at all cool, we built 
a fire as darkness fell, and sat around it, while 
the leaping flames lit up the trunks of the cotton- 
woods and gleamed on the pools of water in the 
half dry river bed. Then I would wrap myself 

The Prongborn Antelope 125 

in my blanket and lie looking up at the brill- 
iant stars until I fell asleep. 

If there were many prongbuck in the locality, 
we might spend two or three days there, and 
I would hunt either on foot or on horseback. 
When such was the case I often went on foot, 
for the hunting might begin within half a mile 
of camp, and the less amount of ground covered 
was offset by the great increase in the care with 
which I could hunt. Every hunter remembers 
scores of stalks he has made, successful and un- 
successful, each marked with its own incidents. 
But such incidents differ slightly enough in the 
narration. I would usually see the animal I in- 
tended to stalk a long distance off, and would 
not dare to lift my head for another look until 
I thought I was in his neighborhood. In con- 
sequence I would sometimes find that I had 
crawled to the wrong place. I remember one 
rather ludicrous incident in connection with such 
a stalk. I saw a prongbuck quite half a mile 
off, and though I dropped at once, I was uncer- 
tain whether or not he had seen me. He was 
in a little hollow. A long, smoothly sloping pla- 
teau led up to one edge of it. Across this plateau 
I crawled, and when I was near what I thought 
was the edge I ventured slowly to look up, and 
almost immediately saw vaguely through the tops 
of the long grasses what I took to be the head 

i26 Deer and Antelope of North America 

and horns of the buck looking in my direction. 
There was no use in going back, and I dropped 
flat on my face again and crawled another hun- 
dred yards, until it became evident I was on the 
rise from which the plateau sank into the little 
hollow beyond. Raising my head inch by inch, 
I caught sight of the object toward which I had 
been crawling, and after a moment's hesitation 
recognized it as a dead sunflower, the stalks and 
blossoms so arranged as to have a V shape. I 
was now completely puzzled and started to sit 
up, when by sheer good luck I caught sight of 
the real prongbuck, still feeding, some three 
hundred yards off, and evidently not aware of my 
presence. It was feeding toward a slight hill to 
my left, and instead of risking the long shot, I 
crept back out of sight until I got behind this 
hill, and then walked up until I got in a line with 
a large bunch of weeds on its shoulder. I crept 
on all fours to these weeds, peeped through and 
saw that the prongbuck was still slowly coming 
my way. When it was but seventy yards off I 
sat up and shot it. 

Half a dozen times I have had prongbucks 
almost come into camp, while on these trips, and 
have shot three or four under such circumstances. 
When we were thus camped, so that the horse I 
was not riding was resting, I would often hunt 
the prongbuck in what is to me far the most 

The Prongborn Antelope 127 

attractive way that is, galloping after them on 
horseback. They can be killed in this fashion 
with greyhounds, and I once contributed two 
or three dogs to a scratch-pack, with which we 
thus killed quite a number. Any long-legged dog 
that could run and bite was classed for our pur- 
poses as a greyhound, and the pack consisted of 
true greyhounds, wire-haired Scotch staghounds, 
and crosses between them and between grey- 
hounds and foxhounds. Where really good 
greyhounds are used for pronghorn chasing the 
dogs are carried in wagons until the animal is 
sighted ; but our method was to stretch out in a 
long line of horsemen and dogs and beat across 
country, setting the dogs upon any pronghorn 
that started near enough by. Usually the buck 
got away, but sometimes, if we happened upon 
him very close, the dogs would seize him ; and at 
other times we would mob him by sheer numbers, 
the dogs at one end of the line turning him so 
that before he knew where he was he had run 
almost into those at the other end of the line. 

I enjoyed even more trying to kill pronghorn 
on horseback when I was alone without any dogs. 
On such occasions I always used either old 
Manitou (by far the best hunting horse I ever 
possessed), or else Muley, who was my favorite 
cutting horse when I worked on the round-up. 
Both were very fast and very enduring, and both, 

128 Deer and Antelope of North America 

when I jumped off and left them, would always stay 
in the neighborhood and permit themselves to be 
caught without difficulty. Both took the keenest 
interest in the chase, knowing what to do just as 
well as I did, and both would come to a dead 
halt the instant I pulled the reins to spring off 
for the shot. Manitou stayed right by me, but 
Muley's nerves always overcame him as I raised 
my rifle, and snorting violently, he would dash 
off for a hundred yards, wheel, and stand looking 
at me with absorbed interest, his ears pricked 

It was, of course, no use to try to run down the 
prongbuck in a straight-away, tail-on-end chase. 
My object was to take advantage of the animal's 
disinclination to change its course when it has 
once definitely determined to run toward a cer- 
tain point. When they first see a mounted man, 
a band of pronghorns will frequently circle and 
wheel or run in zigzags, halt and look about 
them, finally making up their minds to go away 
in good earnest and in a definite course. When 
they are once thus running they dislike to aban- 
don their course, and if a man seeks to cut them 
off, they will frequently refuse to swerve, simply 
increasing their speed so as to pass ahead of the 
pursuer. Taking advantage of this peculiarity I 
would ride at a jog-trot until I saw a band or 
a single animal under circumstances which I 

The Pronghorn Antelope 129 

thought favorable. After a little manoeuvring 
to find out what the quarry was inclined to do, I 
would then bend off to one side, perhaps getting 
under cover of some low ridge. When I disap- 
peared the pronghorns were sure to gallop toward 
some place where they could see me. If their 
gallop took them straight away from me, so that 
when I next saw them they were far off, I might 
not make any further effort after them. But fre- 
quently the next glimpse I got of them showed 
them much nearer than they were before, and I 
would then alter my course and try to go out of 
sight, still travelling slowly. Once out of sight, 
if I thought I was travelling in the right direction 
to get near them, I would strike a smart gallop 
until I again topped a ridge from which they were 
visible. Of course there was again the chance 
that they had gone in the wrong direction, but if 
they had not, I might find myself within range, or 
more likely I might see them, now running in 
good earnest and quartering away or toward me. 
Choosing my point along their line of flight, I 
pressed the willing horse, and away we flew as 
hard as we knew how. The pronghorns went 
faster than I did, but as I had the shorter dis- 
tance to go, it frequently happened that I could 
cut them off, and as soon as they showed signs of 
swerving, or as soon as it became evident that 
they would pass in front of me, off I would leap 

1 30 Deer and Antelope of North America 

for the shot. A pronghorn is the easiest of all 
game to hit running, as in spite of its speed it has 
an exceedingly even gait, and there is of course no 
cover; so that if I was at all close, I would count 
on getting the buck before it was out of range. 
Where the ground was favorable I once killed 
three prongbucks in one day in this fashion, and 
very often got one or two. It is to my mind the 
most exhilarating way of hunting this, the true 
game of the plains. 



THE wapiti is the largest and stateliest deer in 
the world. A full-grown bull is as big as a steer. 
The antlers are the most magnificent trophies 
yielded by any game animal of America, save the 
giant Alaskan moose. When full grown they are 
normally of twelve tines ; frequently the tines are 
more numerous, but the increase in their number 
has no necessary accompaniment in increase in 
the size of the antlers. The length, massiveness, 
roughness, spread, and symmetry of the antlers 
must all be taken into account in rating the value 
of a head. Antlers over fifty inches in length are 
large ; if over sixty, they are gigantic. Good 
heads are getting steadily rarer under the perse- 
cution which has thinned out the herds. 

Next to the bison the wapiti is of all the big 
game animals of North America the one whose 
range has most decreased. Originally it was 
found from the Pacific coast east across the Alle- 
ghanies, through New York to the Adirondacks, 
through Pennsylvania into western New Jersey, 

132 Deer and Antelope of North America 

and far down into the mid-country of Virginia 
and the Carolinas. It extended northward into 
Canada, from the Great Lakes to Vancouver; 
and southward into Mexico, along the Rockies. 
Its range thus corresponded roughly with that of 
the bison, except that it went farther west and not 
so far north. In the early colonial days so little 
heed was paid by writers to the teeming myriads 
of game that it is difficult to trace the wapiti's 
distribution in the Atlantic coast region. It was 
certainly killed out of the Adirondacks long 
before the moose was exterminated. At the 
close of the colonial period, when the backwoods- 
men were settling the valleys of the Alleghany 
Mountains, they there found the elk very abun- 
dant, and the stately creatures roamed in great 
bands over Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indi- 
ana when the first settlers made their way into 
what are now these states, at the outbreak of the 
Revolution. These first settlers were all hunters, 
and they followed the wapiti (or, as they always 
called it, the elk) with peculiar eagerness. In con- 
sequence its numbers were soon greatly thinned, 
and about the beginning of the present century it 
disappeared from that portion of its former range 
lying south of the Great Lakes and between the 
Alleghanies and the Mississippi. In the north- 
ern Alleghanies it held its own much longer, the 
last individual of which I have been able to get 

The Wapiti or Round-horned Elk 133 

record having been killed in Pennsylvania in 
1869. In the forests of northern Wisconsin, 
northern Michigan, and Minnesota wapiti existed 
still longer, and one or two individuals may still 
be found. A few are left in Manitoba. When 
Lewis and Clark and Pike became the pioneers 
among the explorers, army officers, hunters, and 
trappers who won for our people the great west, 
they found countless herds of wapiti through- 
out the high plains country from the Mississippi 
River to the Rocky Mountains. Throughout 
this region it was exterminated almost as rap- 
idly as the bison, and by the early eighties 
there only remained a few scattered individuals, 
in bits of rough country such as the Black Hills, 
the sand-hills of Nebraska, and certain patches of 
Bad Lands along the Little Missouri. Doubtless, 
stragglers exist even yet in one or two of these 
localities. But by the time the great buffalo 
herds of the plains were completely exterminated, 
in 1883, the wapiti had likewise ceased to be a 
plains animal; the peculiar Californian form had 
also been well-nigh exterminated. 

Disregarding the Pacific coast form of Van- 
couver and the Olympian Mountains, the wapiti 
was thenceforth a beast of the Rocky Mountain 
region proper, and was especially abundant in 
western Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. 
Throughout these mountains its extermination, 

134 Deer and Antelope of North America 

though less rapid than on the plains, has never- 
theless gone on with melancholy steadiness. In 
the early nineties it was still as abundant as ever 
in large regions in western Wyoming and Mon- 
tana and northwestern Colorado. In northwest- 
ern Colorado the herds are now represented by 
only a few hundred individuals. In western 
Montana they are scattered over a wider region 
and are protected by the denser timber, but are 
nowhere plentiful. They have nearly vanished 
from the Big Horn Mountains. They are still 
plentiful in and around their great nursery and 
breeding-ground, the Yellowstone National Park. 
If this park can be extended so as to take in part 
of their winter range, they can be preserved for 
all time, to the delight of all lovers of nature, and 
to the great pecuniary benefit of the people of 
Wyoming and Montana. But at present their 
former winter range, especially south of the park, 
is filling up with settlers, and unless the condi- 
tions change, the wapiti will more and more be 
compelled to winter among the mountains, which 
will mean such immense losses from starvation 
and deep snow that the herds will be wofully 
thinned. Surely all men who care for nature, 
no less than all men who care for big game hunt- 
ing, should combine to try to see that not merely 
the states but the Federal authorities make every 
effort, and are given every power, to prevent the 

*y Dr. C. Uart-Merriam 

The Wapiti or Round-horned, Elk 135 

extermination of this stately and beautiful animal, 
the lordliest of the deer kind in the entire world. 

The wapiti, like the bison, and even more than 
the whitetail deer, can thrive in widely varying 
surroundings. It is at home among the high 
mountains, in the deep forests, and on the tree- 
less, level plains. It is rather omnivorous in its 
tastes, browsing and grazing on all kinds of trees, 
shrubs, and grasses. These traits, and its hardi- 
hood, make it comparatively easy to perpetuate 
in big parks and forest preserves in a semi-wild 
condition; and it has thriven in such preserves 
and parks in many of the eastern states. As it 
does not, by preference, dwell in such tangled 
forests as are the delight of the moose and the 
whitetail deer, it vanishes much quicker than 
either when settlers appear in the land. In the 
mountains and foot-hills its habitat is much the 
same as that of the mule-deer, the two animals 
being often found in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of each other. In such places the superior 
size and value of the wapiti put it at a disadvan- 
tage in the keen struggle for life, and when the 
rifle-bearing hunter appears upon the scene, it 
vanishes long before its smaller kinsman. 

Moreover, the wapiti is undoubtedly subject to 
queer freaks of panic stupidity, or what seems 
like a mixture of tameness and of puzzled terror. 
At these times a herd will remain almost motion- 

136 Deer and Antelope of North America 

less, the individuals walking undecidedly to and 
fro, and neither flinching nor giving any other 
sign even when hit with a bullet. In the old 
days it was not uncommon for a professional 
hunter to destroy an entire herd of wapiti when 
one of these fits of confusion was on them. Even 
nowadays they sometimes behave in this way. 
In 1897, Mr. Ansley Wilcox, of Buffalo, was 
hunting in the Teton basin. He came across a 
small herd of wapiti, the first he had ever seen, 
and opened fire when a hundred and fifty yards 
distant. They paid no heed to the shots, and 
after taking three or four at one bull, with seem- 
ingly no effect, he ran in closer and emptied his 
magazine at another, also seemingly without 
effect, before the herd slowly disappeared. After 
a few rods, both bulls fell ; and on examination 
it was found that all nine bullets had hit them. 

To my mind, the venison of the wapiti is, on 
the whole, better than that of any other wild 
game, though its fat when cooled at once hardens, 
like mutton tallow. 

In its life habits the wapiti differs somewhat 
from its smaller relatives. It is far more gre- 
garious, and is highly polygamous. During the 
spring, while the bulls are growing their great 
antlers, and while the cows have very young 
calves, both bulls and cows live alone, each indi- 
vidual for itself. At such time each seeks the 

The Wapiti or Round- borned Elk 137 

most secluded situation, often going very high up 
on the mountains. Occasionally a couple of 
bulls lie together, moving around as little as pos- 
sible. The cow at this time realizes that her 
calf's chance of life depends upon her absolute 
seclusion, and avoids all observation. 

As the horns begin to harden the bulls thrash 
the velvet off against quaking asp, or ash, or even 
young spruce, splintering and battering the bushes 
and small trees. The cows and calves begin to 
assemble ; the bulls seek them. But the bulls do 
not run the cows as among the smaller deer the 
bucks run the does. The time of the beginning 
of the rut varies in different places, but it usu- 
ally takes place in September, about a month 
earlier than that of the deer in the same lo- 
cality. The necks of the bulls swell and they 
challenge incessantly, for unlike the smaller deer 
they are very noisy. Their love and war calls, 
when heard at a little distance, amid the moun- 
tains, have a most musical sound. Frontiersmen 
usually speak of their call as " whistling," which 
is not a very appropriate term. The call may be 
given in a treble or in a bass, but usually consists 
of two or three bars, first rising and then falling, 
followed by a succession of grunts. The grunts 
can only be heard when close up. There can be 
no grander or more attractive chorus than the 
challenging of a number of wapiti bulls when two 

138 Deer and Antelope of North America 

great herds happen to approach one another under 
the moonlight or in the early dawn. The pealing 
notes echo through the dark valleys as if from 
silver bugles, and the air is filled with the wild 
music. Where little molested the wapiti chal- 
lenge all day long. 

They can be easiest hunted during the rut, the 
hunter placing them, and working up to them, by 
the sound alone. The bulls are excessively trucu- 
lent and pugnacious. Each big one gathers a 
herd of cows about him and drives all possible 
rivals away from his immediate neighborhood, 
although sometimes spike bulls are allowed to 
remain with the herd. Where wapiti are very 
abundant, however, many of these herds may join 
together and become partially welded into a mass 
that may contain thousands of animals. In the 
old days such huge herds were far from uncom- 
mon, especially during the migrations ; but now- 
adays there only remain one or two localities in 
which wapiti are sufficiently plentiful ever to come 
together in bands of any size. The bulls are inces- 
santly challenging and fighting one another, and 
driving around the cows and calves. Each keeps 
the most jealous watch over his own harem, treat- 
ing its members with great brutality; and is sel- 
fishly indifferent to their fate the instant he thinks 
his own life in jeopardy. During the rut the 
erotic manifestations of the bull are extraordinary. 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 139 

One or two fawns are born, about May. In 
the mountains the cow usually goes high up to 
bring forth her fawn. Personally I have only had 
a chance to observe the wapiti in the spring in 
the neighborhood of my ranch in the Bad Lands 
of the Little Missouri. Here the cow invariably 
selected some wild lonely bit of very broken coun- 
try in which there were dense thickets and some 
water. There was one such patch some fifteen 
miles from my ranch, in which for many years 
wapiti regularly bred. The breeding cow lay by 
herself, although sometimes the young of the pre- 
ceding year would lurk in the neighborhood. For 
the first few days the calf seemed not to leave the 
bed, and would not move even when handled. 
Then it began to follow the mother. In this 
particular region the grass was coarse and rank, 
save for a few patches in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of little alkali springs. Accordingly, it was 
not much visited by the cattle or by the cowboys. 
Doubtless in the happier days of the past, when 
man was merely an infrequent interloper, the 
wapiti cows had made their nurseries in pleas- 
anter and more fruitful valleys. But in my time 
the hunted creatures had learned that their only 
chance was to escape observation. I have known 
not only cows with young calves, but cows when 
the calves were out of the spotted coat, and even 
yearlings, to try to escape by hiding the great 

140 Deer and Antelope of North America 

beasts lying like rabbits in some patch of thick 
brush, while I rode close by. The best hunting 
horse I ever had, old Manitou, in addition to his 
other useful qualities, would serve as a guard on 
such occasions. I would leave him on a little 
hillock to one side of such a patch of brush, and 
as he walked slowly about, grazing and rattling 
his bridle chains, he would prevent the wapiti 
breaking cover on that side, and give me an addi- 
tional chance of slipping around toward them 
although, if the animal was a cow, I never molested 
it unless in dire need of meat. 

Most of my elk hunting was done among the 
stupendous mountain masses of the Rockies, which 
I usually reached after a long journey, with wagon- 
or pack-train, over the desolate plains. Ordinarily 
I planned to get to the hunting-ground by the end 
of August, so as to have ample time. By that 
date the calves were out of the spotted coat, the 
cows and the young of the preceding year had 
banded, and the big bulls had come down to join 
them from the remote recesses in which they had 
been lying, solitary or in couples, while their antlers 
were growing. Many bulls were found alone, or, 
if young, in small parties ; but the normal arrange- 
ment was for each big bull to have his own harem, 
around the outskirts of which there were to be 
found lurking occasional spike bulls who were 
always venturing too near and being chased off 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 141 

by the master bull. Frequently several such herds 
joined together into a great band. Before the 
season was fairly on, when the bulls had not 
been worked into actual frenzy, there was not 
much fighting in these bands. Later they were 
the scenes of desperate combats. Each master 
bull strove to keep his harem under his own eyes, 
and was always threatening and righting the other 
master bulls, as well as those bulls whose prowess 
had proved insufficient hitherto to gain them a 
band, or who after having gained one had been 
so exhausted and weakened as to succumb to 
some new aspirant for the leadership. The bulls 
were calling and challenging all the time, and 
there was ceaseless turmoil, owing to their fights 
and their driving the cows around. The cows 
were more wary than the bulls, and there were so 
many keen noses and fairly good eyes that it was 
difficult to approach a herd ; whereas the single 
bulls were so noisy, careless, and excited that it 
was comparatively easy to stalk them. A rutting 
wapiti bull is as wicked looking a creature as 
can be imagined, swaggering among the cows and 
threatening the young bulls, his jaws mouthing 
and working in a kind of ugly leer. 

The bulls fight desperately with one another. 
The two combatants come together with a re- 
sounding clash of antlers, and then push and 
strain with their mouths open. The skin on 

142 Deer and Antelope of North America 

their neck and shoulders is so thick and tough 
that the great prongs cannot get through or do 
more than inflict bruises. The only danger comes 
when the beaten party turns to flee. The victor 
pursues at full speed. Usually the beaten one 
gets off ; but if by any accident he is caught where 
he cannot escape, he is very apt to be gored in the 
flank and killed. Mr. Baillie-Grohman has given 
a very interesting description of one such fatal 
duel of which he was an eye-witness on a moon- 
light night in the mountains. I have never 
known of the bull trying to protect the cow from 
any enemy. He battles for her against rivals with 
intense ferocity ; but his attitude toward her, once 
she is gained, is either that of brutality or of in- 
difference. She will fight for her calf against any 
enemy which she thinks she has a chance of con- 
quering, although of course not against man. But 
the bull leaves his family to their fate the minute 
he thinks there is any real danger. During the 
rut he is greatly excited, and does not fear a dog 
or a single wolf, and may join with the rest of the 
herd of both sexes in trying to chase off one or 
the other, should he become aware of its approach. 
But if there is serious danger, his only thought is 
for himself, and he has no compunctions about 
sacrificing any of his family. When on the move 
a cow almost always goes first, while the bull 
brings up the rear. 

The Wapiti or Rowid-borned Elk 143 

In domestication the bulls are very dangerous 
to human beings, and will kill a man at once if 
they can get him at a disadvantage ; but in a state 
of nature they very rarely indeed overcome their 
abject terror of humanity, even when wounded and 
cornered. Of course, if the man comes straight 
up to him where he cannot get away, a wapiti will 
fight as, under like circumstances, a blacktail or 
whitetail will fight, and equally, of course, he is 
then far more dangerous than his smaller kins- 
folk ; but he is not nearly so apt to charge as a bull 
moose. I have never known but two authentic 
instances of their thus charging. One happened 
to a hunter named Bennett on the Little Mis- 
souri ; the other to a gentleman I met, a doctor, 
in Meeker, Colorado. The doctor had wounded 
his wapiti, and as it was in the late fall, followed 
him easily in the snow. Finally, he came upon 
the wapiti standing where the snow was very deep 
at the bottom of a small valley, and on his approach 
the wapiti deliberately started to break his way 
through the snow toward him, and had almost 
reached him when he was killed. But for every 
one such instance of a wapiti's charging there are 
a hundred in which a bull moose has charged. 
Senator Redfield Proctor was charged most reso- 
lutely by a mortally hurt bull moose which fell in 
the death throes just before reaching him ; and I 
could cite case after case of the kind. 

144 Deer and Antelope of North America 

The wapiti's natural gaits are a walk and a trot. 
It walks very fast indeed, especially if travelling to 
reach some given point. More than once I have 
sought to overtake a travelling bull, and have 
found myself absolutely unable to do so, although 
it never broke its walk. Of course, if I had not 
been obliged to pay any heed to cover or wind, I 
could have run up on it; but the necessity for 
paying heed to both handicapped me so that I 
was actually unable to come up to the quarry as 
it swung steadily on through woodland and open, 
over rough ground and smooth. Wapiti have a 
slashing trot, which they can keep up for an in- 
definite time and over any kind of country. Only 
a good pony can overtake them when they have 
had any start and have got settled into this trot. 
If much startled they break into a gallop the 
young being always much more willing to gallop 
than the old. Their gallop is very fast, especially 
down hill. But they speedily tire under it. A 
yearling or a two-year-old can keep it up for a 
couple of miles. A heavy old bull will be done 
out after a few hundred yards. I once saw a band 
of wapiti frightened into a gallop down a steep 
incline where there were also a couple of mule- 
deer. I had not supposed that wapiti ran as fast 
as mule-deer, but this particular band actually 
passed the deer, though the latter were evidently 
doing their best ; the wapiti were well ahead when, 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 145 

after thundering down the steep, broken incline, 
they all disappeared into a belt of woodland. In 
spite of their size, wapiti climb well and go sure- 
footedly over difficult and dangerous ground. 
They have a habit of coming out to the edges 
of cliffs, or on mountain spurs, and looking over 
the landscape beneath, almost as though they en- 
joyed the scenery. What their real object is on 
such occasions I do not know. 

The nose of the wapiti is very keen. Its sight 
is much inferior to that of the antelope, but about 
as good as a deer's. Its hearing is also much like 
that of a deer. When in country where it is little 
molested, it feeds and moves about freely by day, 
lying down to rest at intervals, like cattle. Wapiti 
offer especial attractions to the hunter, and next to 
the bison are more quickly exterminated than any 
other kind of game. Only the fact that they 
possess a far wider range of habitat than either 
the mule-deer, the prongbuck, or the moose, has 
enabled them still to exist. Their gregariousness 
is also against them. Even after the rut the 
herds continue together until in mid spring the 
bulls shed their antlers for they keep their 
antlers at least two months longer than deer. 
During the fall, winter, and early spring wapiti 
are roving, restless creatures. Their habit of 
migration varies with locality, as among mule- 
deer. Along the Little Missouri, as in the plains 

146 Deer and Antelope of North America 

country generally, there was no well-defined migra- 
tion. Up to the early eighties, when wapiti was 
still plentiful, the bands wandered far and wide ; 
but fitfully and irregularly, wholly without regard 
to the season, save that they were stationary from 
May to August. After 1883 there were but a few 
individuals left, although as late as 1886 I once 
came across a herd of nine. These surviving in- 
dividuals had learned caution. The bulls only 
called by night, and not very frequently then, and 
they spent the entire year in the roughest and 
most out-of-the-way places, having the same range 
both winter and summer. They selected tracts 
where the ground was very broken and there was 
much shrubbery, and patches of small trees. This 
tree and bush growth gave them both shelter and 
food ; for they are particularly fond of browsing 
on the leaves and tender twig ends, though they 
also eat weeds and grass. 

Wherever wapiti dwell among the mountains 
they make regular seasonal migrations. In north- 
western Wyoming they spend the summer in the 
Yellowstone National Park, but in winter they 
go south to Jackson's Hole, and used formerly, 
also, to move out of the park to the northeast. 
In northwestern Colorado their migrations fol- 
lowed much the same line as those of the mule- 
deer. In different localities the length of the 
migration and even the time differed. There 

The Wapiti or Round-horned Elk 147 

were some places where the shift was simply 
from the high mountains down to their foot-hills. 
In other places great herds travelled a couple of 
hundred miles, so that localities absolutely barren 
one month would be swarming with wapiti the 
next. In some places the shift took place as 
early as the month of August; in others not 
until after the rut, in October or even Novem- 
ber; and in some places the rut took place 
during the migration. 

No chase is more fascinating than that of the 
wapiti. In the old days, when the mighty antlered 
beasts were found upon the open plains, they 
could be followed upon horseback, with or with- 
out hounds. Nowadays, when they dwell in the 
mountains, they are to be killed only by the 
rifle-bearing still-hunter. Needless butchery of 
any kind of animal is repulsive, but in the case 
of the wapiti it is little short of criminal. He is 
the grandest of the deer kind throughout the 
world, and he has already vanished from most of 
the places where he once dwelt in his pride. 
Every true sportsman should feel it incumbent 
upon him to do all in his power to preserve so 
noble a beast of the chase from extinction. No 
harm whatever comes to the species from killing 
a certain number of bulls ; but an excessive num- 
ber should never be killed, and no cow or calf 
should under any circumstances be touched. 

148 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Formerly, when wapiti were plentiful, it would 
have been folly for hunters and settlers in the 
unexplored wilderness not to kill wild game for 
their meat, and occasionally a cow or a calf had 
to be thus slain ; but there is no excuse nowadays 
for a hunting party killing anything but a full- 
grown bull. 

In a civilized and cultivated country wild ani- 
mals only continue to exist at all when preserved 
by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest 
against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as 
enemies of wild life, are wholly ignorant of the 
fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by 
all odds the most important factor in keeping wild 
creatures from total extermination. Of course, if 
wild animals were allowed to breed unchecked, 
they would, in an incredibly short space of time, 
render any country uninhabitable by man, a 
fact which ought to be a matter of elementary 
knowledge in any community where the average 
intelligence is above that of certain portions of 
Hindoostan. Equally, of course, in a purely utili- 
tarian community all wild animals are extermi- 
nated out of hand. In order to preserve the wild life 
of the wilderness at all, some middle ground must 
be found between brutal and senseless slaughter 
and the unhealthy sentimentalism which would 
just as surely defeat its own end by bringing 
about the eventual total extinction of the game. 

The Wapiti' or Round- homed Elk 149 

It is impossible to preserve the larger wild 
animals in regions thoroughly fit for agricul- 
ture; and it is perhaps too much to hope that 
the larger carnivors can be preserved for merely 
aesthetic reasons. But throughout our country 
there are great regions entirely unsuited for agri- 
culture where, if the people only have foresight, 
they can, through the power of the state, keep 
the game in perpetuity. There is no hope of 
preserving the bison permanently, save in great 
private parks; but all other game, including not 
merely deer, but the pronghorn, the splendid big- 
horn, and the stately and beautiful wapiti, can be 
kept on the public lands, if only the proper laws 
are passed, and if only these laws are properly 
enforced. I suppose that no lover of nature who 
travels through Switzerland does not regret that 
the ibex has vanished from among the Swiss 
mountains; and every good American ought to 
endeavor to see to it that for ages to come such 
a fate does not befall the bighorn and the wapiti 
in the Rockies. 

A peculiar charm in the chase of the wapiti 
comes from the wild beauty of the country in 
which it dwells. The moose lives in marshy for- 
ests ; if one would seek the white goat or caribou 
of the northern Rockies, he must travel on foot, 
pack on back; while the successful chase of the 
bighorn, perhaps on the whole the manliest of 

150 Deer and Antelope of North America 

all our sports, means heart-breaking fatigue for 
any but the strongest and hardiest. The prong- 
buck, again, must be followed on the desolate, sun- 
scorched plains. But the wapiti dwells amid lofty, 
pine-clad mountains, in a region of lakes and 
streams. A man can travel in comfort while 
hunting it, because he can almost always take a 
pack-train with him, and the country is usually 
sufficiently open to enable the hunter to enjoy all 
the charm of distant landscapes. Where the wap- 
iti lives the spotted trout swarm in the brooks, 
and the wood-grouse fly upward to perch among 
the tree-tops as the hunter passes them. When 
hunting him there is always sweet cold water to 
be drunk at night, and beds of aromatic fir boughs 
on which to sleep, with the blankets drawn over 
one to keep out the touch of the frost. He must 
be followed on foot, and the man who follows him 
must be sound in limb and wind. But his pur- 
suit does not normally mean such wearing ex- 
haustion as is entailed by climbing cliffs all day 
long after the white goat. Whoever has hunted 
the wapiti, as he looks at his trophies, will always 
think of the great mountains with the snow lying 
in the rifts in their sides ; of the splashing mur- 
mur of rock-choked torrents ; of the odorous 
breath of the pine branches ; of tents pitched in 
open glades ; of long walks through cool open 
forests ; and of great camp-fires, where the 

The Wapiti or Round- homed Elk 151 

pitchy stumps flame like giant torches in the 

In the old days, of course, much of the hunting 
was done on the open plains or among low, rugged 
hills. The wapiti that I shot when living at my 
Little Missouri ranch were killed under exactly 
the same conditions as mule-deer. When I built 
my ranch-house wapiti were still not uncommon, 
and their shed antlers were very numerous both on 
the bottoms and in places among the hills. There 
was one such place a couple of miles from my 
ranch in a stretch of comparatively barren but 
very broken hill-country in which there were 
many score of these shed antlers. Evidently a 
few years before this had been a great gathering- 
place for wapiti toward the end of winter. My 
ranch itself derived its name " The Elkhorn " 
from the fact that on the ground where we built 
it were found the skulls and interlocked antlers 
of two wapiti bulls who had perished from getting 
their antlers fastened in a battle. I never, how- 
ever, killed a wapiti while on a day's hunt from 
the ranch itself. Those that I killed were ob- 
tained on regular expeditions, when I took the 
wagon and drove off to spend a night or two on 
ground too far for me to hunt it through in a sin- 
gle day from the ranch. Moreover, the wapiti on 
the Little Missouri had been so hunted that they 
had entirely abandoned the diurnal habits of their 

152 Deer and Antelope of North America 

kind, and it was a great advantage to get on the 
ground early. This hunting was not carried on 
amid the glorious mountain scenery which marks 
the home of the wapiti in the Rockies ; but the 
surroundings had a charm of their own. All 
really wild scenery is attractive. The true 
hunter, the true lover of the wilderness, loves all 
parts of the wilderness, just as the true lover of 
nature loves all seasons. There is no season of 
the year when the country is not more attractive 
than the city ; and there is no portion of the wil- 
derness, where game is found, in which it is not a 
keen pleasure to hunt. Perhaps no other kind of 
country quite equals that where snow lies on the 
lofty mountain peaks, where there are many open 
glades in the pine forests, and clear mountain 
lakes, and rushing trout-filled torrents. But the 
fantastic desolation of the Bad Lands, and the end- 
less sweep of the brown prairies, alike have their 
fascination for the true lover of nature and lover 
of the wilderness who goes through them on foot 
or on horseback. As for the broken hill-country 
in which I followed the wapiti and the mule-deer 
along the Little Missouri, it would be strange 
indeed if any one found it otherwise than attrac- 
tive in the bright, sharp, fall weather. Long, 
grassy valleys wound among the boldly shaped 
hills. The basins were filled with wind-beaten 
trees and brush which generally also ran along- 


Tbe Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 153 

side of the dry watercourses down the middle of 
each valley. Cedars clustered in the sheer ra- 
vines, and here and there groups of elm and ash 
grew to a considerable height in the more shel- 
tered places. At the first touch of the frost the 
foliage turned russet or yellow the Virginia 
creepers crimson. Under the cloudless blue sky 
the air was fresh and cool, and as we lay by the 
camp-fire at night the stars shone with extraordi- 
nary brilliancy. Under such conditions the actual 
chase of the wapiti was much like that of the mule- 
deer. They had been so hunted that they showed 
none of the foolish traits which they are prone to 
exhibit when bands are found in regions where 
they have been little persecuted ; and they were 
easier to kill than mule-deer simply because they 
were more readily tracked and more readily seen, 
and offered a larger, and on the whole a steadier, 
mark at which to shoot. When a small band had 
visited a pool their tracks could be identified at 
once, because in the soft ground the flexible feet 
spread and yielded so as to leave the marks of the 
false hoofs. On ordinary ground it was very dif- 
ficult to tell their footprints from those of the 
yearling and two-year-old ranch cattle. 

But the mountains are the true ground for the 
wapiti. Here he must be hunted on foot, and 
nowadays, since he has grown wiser, skill and 
patience, and the capacity to endure fatigue 

154 Deer and Antelope of North America 

and exposure must be shown by the successful 
hunter. My own wapiti hunting has been done 
in September and early October during the 
height of the rut, and therefore at a time when 
the conditions were most favorable for the hunter. 
I have hunted them in many places throughout 
the Rockies, from the Big Horn in western 
Wyoming to the Big Hole Basin in western Mon- 
tana, close to the Idaho line. Where I hunted, 
the wapiti were always very noisy both by day 
and by night, and at least half of the bulls that 
I killed attracted my attention by their calling 
before I saw either them or their tracks. At 
night they frequently passed close to camp, or 
came nearly up to the picketed horses, challeng- 
ing all the time; more than once I slipped out, 
hoping to kill one by moonlight, but I never 
succeeded. Occasionally, when they were plenti- 
ful, and were restless and always roving about, 
I simply sat still on a log, until one gave me a 
chance. Sometimes I came across them while 
hunting through likely localities, going up or 
across wind, keeping the sharpest lookout, 
and moving with great care and caution, until 
I happened to strike the animals I was after. 
More than once I took the trail of a band, when 
out with some first-class woodsman, and after 
much running, dodging, and slipping through 
the timber, overtook the animals though usu- 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 155 

ally when thus merely following the trail I failed 
to come up with them. On two different 
occasions I followed and came up to bands, 
attracted by their scent. Wapiti have a strong, 
and, on the whole, pleasing scent, like that of 
Alderney cattle ; although in old bulls it becomes 
offensively strong. This scent is very penetrat- 
ing. I once smelt a herd which was lying quite 
still taking its noonday siesta, certainly half a 
mile to the windward of me ; and creeping up 
I shot a good bull as he lay. On another occa- 
sion, while working through the tangled trees and 
underbrush at the bottom of a little winding val- 
ley, I suddenly smelt wapiti ahead, and without 
paying any further attention to the search for 
tracks, I hunted cautiously up the valley, and 
when it forked was able to decide by the smell 
alone which way the wapiti had gone. He was 
going up wind ahead of me, and his ground-cover- 
ing walk kept me at a trot in order to overtake 
him. Finally I saw him, before he saw me, 
and then, by making a run to one side, got a 
shot at him when he broke cover, and dropped 

It is exciting to creep up to a calling wapiti. 
If it is a solitary bull he is apt to be travelling, 
seeking the cows, or on the lookout for some 
rival of weaker thews. Under such circumstances, 
only hard running will enable the hunter to over- 

156 Deer and Antelope of North America 

take him, unless there is a chance to cut him off. 
If, however, he hears another bull, or has a herd 
under him, the chances are that he is nearly sta- 
tionary, or at least is moving slowly, and the 
hunter has every opportunity to approach. In 
a herd the bull himself is usually so absorbed 
both with his cows and with his rivals that he is 
not at all apt to discover the approaching hunter. 
The cows, however, are thoroughly awake, and 
it is their eyes and keen noses for which the 
hunter must look out. A solitary bull which is 
answering the challenge of another is the easiest 
of all to approach. Of course, if there has been 
much hunting, even such a bull is wary and is 
on the lookout for harm. But in remote localities 
he becomes so absorbed in finding out the where- 
abouts of his rival, and he is so busy answering 
the latter's challenges and going through motions 
of defiance, that with proper care it is compara- 
tively easy to approach him. Once, when within 
seventy yards of such a bull, he partly made me 
out, and started toward me. Evidently he could 
not tell exactly what I was, my buckskin shirt 
probably helping to puzzle him, and in his 
anger and eagerness he did not think of danger 
until it was too late. On another occasion I got 
up to two bulls that were fighting, and killed 
both. In the fights, weight of body seems to 
count for more than size of antlers. 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 157 

Once I spent the better part of a day in following 
a wapiti bull before I finally got him. Generally 
when hunting wapiti I have been with either one 
of my men from the ranch or a hunter like 
Tazewell Woody, or John Willis. On this par- 
ticular occasion, however, I happened to be alone ; 
and though I have rarely been as successful 
alone as when in the company of some thoroughly 
trained and experienced plainsman or mountain- 
man, yet when success does come under such 
circumstances, it is always a matter of peculiar 

At the time, I was camped in a very beautiful 
valley high among the mountains which divide 
southwestern Montana from Idaho. The weather 
was cold, and there were a couple of inches of 
snow on the ground, so that the conditions were 
very favorable for tracking and stalking. The 
country was well wooded, but the forest was not 
dense, and there were many open glades. Early 
one morning, just about dawn, the cook, who had 
been up for a few minutes, waked me, to say that 
a bull wapiti was calling not far off. I rolled out 
of my bed and was dressed in short order. 
The bull had by this time passed the camp, and 
was travelling toward a range of mountains on 
the other side of the stream which ran down the 
valley bottom. He was evidently not alarmed, for 
he was still challenging. I gulped down a cup of 

158 Deer and Antelope of North America 

hot coffee, munched a piece of hardtack, and 
thrust four or five other pieces and a cold elk 
tongue into my hunting-shirt, and then, as it had 
grown light enough to travel, started after the 
wapiti. I supposed that in a few minutes I 
should either have overtaken him or abandoned 
the pursuit, and I took the food with me simply 
because in the wilderness it never pays to be 
unprepared for emergencies. The wisdom of such 
a course was shown in this instance by the fact 
that I did not see camp again until long after 

I at first tried to cut off the wapiti by trotting 
through the woods toward the pass for which I 
supposed he was headed. The morning was cold, 
and, as always happens at the outset when one 
starts to take violent exercise under such circum- 
stances, the running caused me to break into a 
violent perspiration; so that the first time I 
stopped to listen for the wapiti a regular fog 
rose over my glasses and then froze on them. 
I could not see a thing, and after wiping them 
found I had to keep gently moving in order to 
prevent them from clouding over again. It is on 
such cold mornings, or else in very rainy weather, 
that the man who has not been gifted with good 
eyes is most sensible of his limitations. I once 
lost a caribou which I had been following at 
speed over the snow because when I came into 

The Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 159 

sight and halted the moisture instantly formed 
and froze on my glasses so that I could not see 
anything, and before I got them clear the game 
had vanished. Whatever happened, I was bound 
that I should not lose this wapiti from a similar 

However, when I next heard him he had evi- 
dently changed his course and was going straight 
away from me. The sun had now risen, and 
following after him I soon found his tracks. He 
was walking forward with the regular wapiti 
stride, and I made up my mind I had a long 
chase ahead of me. We were going up hill, and 
though I walked hard, I did not trot until we 
topped the crest. Then I jogged along at a good 
gait, and as I had on moccasins, and the woods 
were open, I did not have to exercise much 
caution. Accordingly, I gained, and felt I was 
about to come up with him, when the wind 
brought down from very far off another challenge. 
My bull heard it before I did, and instantly 
started toward the spot at a trot. There was not 
the slightest use of my attempting to keep up 
with this, and I settled down into a walk. Half 
an hour afterward I came over a slight crest, and 
immediately saw a herd of wapiti ahead of me, 
across the valley and on an open hillside. The 
herd was in commotion, the master bull whistling 
vigorously and rounding up his cows, evidently 

160 Deer and Antelope of North America 

much excited at the new bull having approached. 
There were two or three yearlings and two-year- 
old bulls on the outskirts of the herd, and the 
master bull, whose temper had evidently not been 
improved by the coming of the stranger, charged 
these and sent them rattling off through the 
bushes. The ground was so open between me 
and them that I dared not venture across it, and 
I was forced to lie still and await developments. 
The bull I had been following and the herd 
bull kept challenging vigorously, but the former 
probably recognized in the latter a heavier 
animal, and could not rouse his courage to the 
point of actually approaching and doing battle. 
It by no means follows that the animal with 
the heaviest body has the best antlers, but the 
hesitation thus shown by the bull I was follow- 
ing made me feel that the other would probably 
yield the most valuable trophies, and after a 
couple of hours I made up my mind to try to 
get near the herd, abandoning the animal I had 
been after. 

The herd showed but little symptoms of mov- 
ing, the cows when let alone scattering out to 
graze, and some of them even lying down. Ac- 
cordingly, I did not hurry myself, and spent con- 
siderably over an hour in slipping off to the right 
and approaching through a belt of small firs. 
Unfortunately, however, the wind had slightly 

'I be Wapiti or Round-loomed Elk 161 

shifted, and while I was out of sight of the herd 
they had also come down toward the spot from 
whence I had been watching them. Accord- 
ingly, just as I was beginning to creep forward 
with the utmost caution, expecting to see them at 
any moment, I heard a thumping and cracking of 
branches that showed they were on the run. With 
wapiti there is always a chance of overtaking 
them after they have first started, because they 
tack and veer and halt to look around. Accord- 
ingly I ran forward as fast as I could through the 
woods; but when I came to the edge of the fir 
belt I saw that the herd were several hundred 
yards off. They were clustered together and 
looking back, and saw me at once. 

Off they started again. The old bull, however, 
had neither seen me nor smelt me, and when I 
heard his whistle of rage I knew he had mis- 
interpreted the reason for the departure of 
his cows, and in another moment he came in 
sight, evidently bent on rounding them up. 
On his way he attacked and drove off one of 
the yearlings, and then took after the cows, 
while the yearling ran toward the outlying bull. 
The latter evidently failed to understand what 
had happened; at least he showed no signs of 
alarm. Neither, however, did he attempt to 
follow the fleeing herd, but started off again on 
his own line. 

1 62 Deer and Antelope of North America 

I was sure the herd would not stop for some 
miles, and accordingly I resumed my chase of the 
single bull. He walked for certainly three miles 
before he again halted, and I was then half a mile 
behind him. On this occasion he struck a small 
belt of woodland and began to travel to and fro 
through it, probably with an idea of lying down. 
I was able to get up fairly close by crawling on 
all fours through the snow for part of the dis- 
tance ; but just as I was about to fire he moved 
slightly, and though my shot hit him, it went a 
little too far back. He plunged over the hill 
crest and was off at a gallop, and after running 
forward and failing to overtake him in the first 
rush, I sat down to consider matters. The snow 
had begun to melt under the sun, and my knees 
and the lower parts of my sleeves were wet from 
my crawl, and I was tired and hungry and very 
angry at having failed to kill the wapiti. It was, 
however, early in the afternoon, and I thought 
that if I let the wapiti alone for an hour, he would 
lie down, and then grow stiff and reluctant to get 
up ; while in the snow I was sure I could easily 
follow his tracks. Therefore I ate my lunch and 
then swallowed some mouthfuls of snow in lieu 
of drinking. 

An hour afterward I took up the trail. It was 
evident the bull was hard hit, but even after he 
had changed his plunging gallop for a trot he 

Tbe Wapiti or Round- horned Elk 163 

showed no signs of stopping ; fortunately his trail 
did not cross any other. The blood signs grew 
infrequent, and two or three times he went up 
places which made it difficult for me to believe 
he was much hurt. At last, however, I came to 
where he had lain down ; but he had risen again 
and gone forward. For a moment I feared that 
my approach had alarmed him, but this was evi- 
dently not the case, for he was now walking. I 
left the trail, and turning to one side below the 
wind I took a long circle and again struck back 
to the bottom of the valley down which the wapiti 
had been travelling. The timber here was quite 
thick, and I moved very cautiously, continually 
halting and listening, for five or ten minutes. 
Not a sound did I hear, and I crossed the valley 
bottom and began to ascend the other side with- 
out finding the trail. Unless he had turned off 
up the mountains I knew that this meant he must 
have lain down ; so I retraced my steps and with 
extreme caution began to make my way up the 
valley. Finally I came to a little opening, and 
after peering about for five minutes I stepped 
forward, and instantly heard a struggling and 
crashing in a clump of young spruce on the 
other side. It was the wapiti trying to get on 
his feet. I ran forward at my best pace, and as 
he was stiff and slow in his movements I was 
within seventy yards before he got fairly under 

1 64 Deer and Antelope of North America 

way. Dropping on one knee I fired and hit him 
in the flank. At the moment I could not tell 
whether or not I had missed him, for he gave no 
sign ; but, running forward very fast, I speedily 
saw him standing with his head down. He 
heard me and again started, but at the third 
bullet down he went in his tracks, the antlers 
clattering loudly on the branches of a dead 

The snow was melting fast, and for fear it might 
go off entirely, so that I could not follow my back 
track, I went up the hillside upon which the wap- 
iti lay, and taking a dead tree dragged it down 
to the bottom, leaving a long furrow. I then 
repeated the operation on the opposite hillside, 
thus making a trace which it was impossible for 
any one coming up or down the valley to overlook ; 
and having conned certain landmarks by which 
the valley itself could be identified, I struck 
toward camp at a round trot ; for I knew that if 
I did not get into the valley where the tent lay 
before dark, I should have to pass the night out. 
However, the last uncertain light of dusk just 
enabled me to get over a spur from which I 
could catch a glimpse of the camp-fire, and as 
I stumbled toward it through the forest I heard 
a couple of shots, which showed that the cook 
and packer were getting anxious as to my where- 





THE elk was once found on the great prairies 
of the Mississippi watershed. But so was the 
deer. For there were belts of timber lakes sur- 
rounded with a heavy growth of reeds, and swales 
full of slough grass with plenty of rough cover 
about the bluffs and river-bottoms that intersected 
it in all places. But who would expect the elk to 
be at home where the land was too bare for the 
deer, and only the antelope roamed the many 
leagues that seemed fit but for wild cattle and 
horses. Yet it seems certain that the bands of 
elk that once roamed the great San Joaquin Val- 
ley in California surpassed all that has been told 
in song or story about the elk of the Rocky Moun- 
tain parks or plateaus. Leagues away from any- 
thing approaching cover, they lived upon plains 
as open as any on which the buffalo ever flour- 
ished. For before the discovery of gold there 
was no demand for them except at long intervals, 
when a travelling native found it a little easier to 
lasso one for camp than one of the cattle that on 


1 68 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

the great expanse were about as swift of foot and 
even more wild. 

But the miners soon created a demand for meat, 
and travelling bands of explorers also murdered 
everything in sight much as the white man always 
does. Even the great novelist Dumas turned 
market hunter as soon as he landed here in 1849, 
and one of his first performances was to kill an 
elk in the Sacramento Valley, on whose wide 
plains bands were roaming the same as cattle. 

It was but a short time before the newcomers 
began to make great corrals with wings of miles 
in length, into which they drove wild cattle and 
horses, for there were thousands that had never 
felt the branding iron and no one claimed. Along 
with them went antelope and elk in great numbers, 
and their fate was the same. Some of the meat was 
sold fresh and some dried, but waste and destruc- 
tion was the rule ; and the big bands of elk began 
to seek the cover of the great tule marshes along 
the streams and lagoons. The tule is a spongy, 
round reed, some fifteen feet long, growing from 
shallow water, and so dense that half a dozen 
stalks to the square foot, an inch to an inch and 
a half in diameter, are common. Back of this, on 
the dryer ground, are cattails and flag, very rank 
and tall, so that the whole is about equal to the 
heaviest canebrake, though not quite as stiff in the 
individual stalk. Most of the lakes and sloughs 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 169 

of the San Joaquin Valley are very broad and 
shallow, with a vast margin between high and low 
water that has a dense growth of this cover, which 
also runs over many of the islands of the rivers 
far up the Sacramento and the other streams lead- 
ing into San Francisco Bay. 

Instead of going to the mountains, which spread 
their robes of chaparral and timber down to the 
edge of the plains and higher up offering fastnesses 
as good as any of the Rocky Mountains, the elk 
retreated from the open plains with the advent of 
the American, and hid in the vast tule swamps 
that covered hundreds of thousands of acres. 
Here they made great trails that ramified until 
lost in myriad mazes, while hogs that had gone 
wild made it extremely interesting for the hunter 
who dared enter on foot, especially if he had a dog 
to retreat between his legs at the first charge of a 
big boar. As it was impossible to see any dis- 
tance even on horseback, and the mud was too 
thick for horses, the elk were quite safe for a time. 
But as the swamps began to be drained and the 
cover burned off, and roads made through the 
drying ground, it was again the same old story of 
the white man. By 1875 the antelope were a curi- 
osity on the great plains, where so many thousands 
lately glimmered through the dancing heat, while 
the elk were almost as rare in the great tule 
swamps that so lately seemed inaccessible. By 

1 70 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

1885 only one band was left, and that was on the 
immense ranch of Miller and Lux in the upper 
part of the valley, some twenty miles from Bakers- 
field. In 1895, when I last saw this herd, it was 
under rigid protection of the herdsmen of the 
ranch, and though even wilder than in the years 
gone by, and roaming a part of the Coast Range 
where the grizzly yet laughed at his pursuers, no 
one ventured to trouble them. They then num- 
bered about twenty-eight. It is said there are 
now over one hundred, and they have been turned 
over to the care of the Lodge of Elks in Bakers- 
field. But the turning over is merely nominal, 
for they are as wild as ever. It means only that 
any man who dares shoot one will repent it. 
These are the last wild elk known south of 
Mendocino or Humboldt County in the far north 
of the state the lonely survivors of countless 

South of this point some fifty miles the great 
valley is brought to a close by the Sierra Nevada 
swinging around to join the Coast Range. But 
in doing so it falls several thousand feet into the 
low pass of Tehachipi, through which the South- 
ern Pacific Railroad goes. This is broad, open 
and low and has for a century been a thoroughfare 
for cattle, antelope, and everything else that travels. 
South of it in Antelope Valley is as good feed as 
in the San Joaquin, while farther south is still 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 171 

better pasturage with abundance of country in 
the mountains that is the natural home of the 
deer. Yet I can find no evidence of the elk ever 
having passed south of this mysterious line, 
though so open and so easy. The oldest Indian 
and Mexican settlers know nothing of him even 
by tradition, except as the great alee of the north- 
ern plains. 

Nor does he seem to have gone into the high 
ranges of the Sierra Nevada even in summer, 
though nothing is wanting there that an elk 
should desire to complete his happiness. Heavy 
forests, broad meadows, rocky glens, secluded 
thickets, and all that one could wish he ignored 
to stay on the great, dry, blazing plains ; and left 
them only for the still less attractive tule swamps. 
No trace is found of his existence over the range 
on the east, and strangely enough he does not 
seem to have spent much time in the Coast 
Range. Much less did he cross it, and scarcely 
ever was seen on the rich slopes that roll away to 
the silvery sea in such long swells of the finest 
feed in the world. He appears no more until we 
reach the great redwoods of the northern coast of 
California, where he made his last camp. Here 
the vast forest with its tremendous undergrowth 
maintained him for a time, but the insatiate greed 
of the white man for " heads " and for elk teeth 
for watch-charms was fast consigning this grand 

1 72 The Elk of tbe Pacific Coast 

deer to the things that were, when the hand 
of the law stepped in. Public sentiment sustains 
the law, and few are those who now dare molest 
the elk that remain. But for their remoteness 
they would long since have been sought out, but 
it was too far from market in early days, and was 
always uncomfortably wild for the tenderfoot and 
his murderous guide. 

In Oregon the elk fared better, and better yet 
in Washington and British Columbia, though 
murdered by thousands. But the vast forests 
were too big for the leg, if not for the heart, of 
man. Thousands of square miles yet remain 
where the foot of man is hardly known, thou- 
sands more where it is very difficult for him to 
go with a horse and almost useless to go without 
one. This leaves plenty of room for one who 
can find pleasure in hunting such a grand ani- 
mal and be satisfied with one or two. Hence 
there are still large areas on the upper coast 
where the elk is yet very abundant and always 
will be. And here, and not in California, is where 
he should be sought by one who wants to see him 
at his best in the most splendid home nature has 
given his race. 

Modes of hunting elk on the Pacific coast 
have always been of the simplest kind. There 
were no greater hunters in the world than the 
old Spanish Californians, who lassoed the largest 

Tbe Elk of the Pacific Coast 173 

grizzlies by the light of the moon and dragged 
them bound on rawhide to fight the wild bull of 
the hills at their numerous fiestas. To them the 
gun was ridiculous for such work, and generally 
the last thing they used on game. They had 
their pick of horses which, for their weight and for 
swift work on rough ground, have had no superiors 
in the world. To run down an elk and rope it 
was for them a trick so simple that they never did 
it unless for a change of meat. They had thou- 
sands of cattle raised only for their hides and 
tallow ; and why kill an elk when no more skill 
was required than to rope a cow? They rarely 
failed to uncoil the rope for a deer if they could 
catch one far enough from the hills, and they 
loved to match their fleetest horses against the 
antelope ; while they rarely failed to make a dash 
at a coyote or a wolf when the plain gave a good 
chance for a race. The great herds of elk, how- 
ever, they rode by, not in disdain, but with none 
of the American's love of murder. 

But the miners came, and they brought a string 
of camp followers, with gamblers and loafers of 
every kind who loved play better than mining. 
These speedily went to work like swine in a 
garden of roses. Delighted to find that he could 
ride into a band of elk without tumbling off the 
horse, the new American cowboy rioted in herds 
where he could put a pistol against the flank of 

174 Tbe Elk of the Pacific Coast 

the biggest bull, most of them being so clumsy 
that any fool that could coil a noose could lasso 
one. For a time this murder was the only hunt- 
ing done for elk. But as they began to retreat 
to the cover of the tules, and the price of meat 
rose with the demand from the mines, the natives 
began to watch for elk outside the tules at day- 
light, while hunters by the score with rifles fol- 
lowed them in all directions. In the northern 
part of the state the elk left the valleys as early 
as 1855, to retire to the majestic silence of the 
great redwoods of the Coast Range, where he 
could be found only by true still-hunting. And 
even there the great bands were no longer seen, 
but only scattered bunches of a dozen or so, with 
plenty of single ones. The day passed very 
quickly when one could go wait beside some 
grassy glade to see a score come in from the 
woods to feed, and stand so confused when the 
leader fell that the butcher might pile the rest 
almost one upon another. This day is about 
gone even in the farther north, where few hunt- 
ers have ever penetrated, for, like the deer, the 
elk has learned from civilization. 

In judgment of a certain kind the elk is far 
superior to the deer. The deer merely laughs 
at civilization so long as it gives him, leaves 
him, a certain amount of cover with half a 
chance to feed and rest. He cares nothing for 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 175 

noise if not too close. I have known the wildest 
Virginia deer lie all day within plain sound of 
the axe, and where the choice vocabulary of the 
teamsters in the pinery could be plainly heard in 
the clear cold air. Yet by no amount of inge- 
nuity could one get within rifle shot unless the 
combination of softness in the snow, openings 
in the brush for quiet walking, rolling ground 
behind which to keep out of sight, with the wind 
and other conditions all right, j^mspi red to help 
out the most extreme care of which man is 
capable. So I have known the mule-deer time 
and again spend the day on the hillside, where 
he can plainly hear the hunter calling up his 
dogs, and discussing with his companions the 
chances of getting venison. And generally the 
chances are rarely worse than on just such 
ground. The deer seems to love to take 
chances on such matters, and knows so well 
the distance of sounds that he is rarely 
deceived in that way. For the report of a 
rifle a little too far to be dangerous he cares 
no more than for distant thunder, trusting to 
his judgment to avoid any possible interview 
with the owner of it. 

But the elk will have none of this intellectual 
treat. Though he may act the fool worse than 
any of the deer tribe when hit with a bullet or 
when shot at close by, the sound of shooting 

176 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

is apt to start him moving out of the country 
at a pace few care to follow. He knows some- 
thing is wrong, and cares not to trust himself 
to decide so important a matter. If such noise 
should be near enough to alarm a deer, he would 
only go half a mile or so, stop and look around 
awhile, go another quarter, perhaps, and look a 
little more, then fall to feeding a bit, listen 
awhile, and finally lie down again, within sound, 
probably, of that same rifle. But the elk will 
travel over hill and dale, crossing vast gulches 
and scaling stupendous heights for league upon 
league until away beyond all danger. And even 
then he may keep travelling for a day or two 
more. No matter how much you may scare the 
deer, he will be back to the same ground before 
long, for he has been twisting and turning and 
doubling on his course during most of the run, 
however long it may be. But you may not see 
the elk again that season if you have once run 
him out with noise. And it is almost equally 
futile to try to overtake him in a stern chase 
when on such a journey. He can walk too fast 
and too far, while as a trotter he is a master even 
among great windfalls. With his long legs he 
can cross a log so large that few horses care to 
leap it even where raised in the woods. The 
great horns, which look all the time as if they 
would entangle him in the first bush, he carries 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 177 

with lordly grace through fallen tree tops, tangles 
of vine-maple, ivy, grapevine, and all the net- 
work of the woods, the same as a deer, which 
means the same as a rabbit or bird. Although 
his weight makes the track of his big hoof very 
easy to follow on almost any kind of ground, the 
contract for overhauling him is a good one to 
sublet. For even if you succeed, it will be 
leagues away from your starting-point and 
probably in country so rough that you cannot 
even take out the coveted horns. For this chase 
must be on foot for much chance of success. 
With a horse you are apt to make too much 
noise and cannot afford the time to stop for 
him to feed. You will probably have to lie out 
one night at least, and have to make camp 
where night overtakes you without hunting 
feed for the horse. I have known two Indians 
follow a dozen elk on snow over a hundred miles, 
and would not have overtaken them then had 
the elk not been intercepted by a hunter with 
a dog, which so confused them they huddled 
up while the man shot the whole band. This 
was many years ago in Northern Wisconsin, 
but the elk is the same traveller all over the 
Pacific coast. 

When the elk once starts on a trip even when 
not suspecting danger the work is bad enough, 
and about the only chance there is for the hunter 

178 The Elk of tbe Pacific Coast 

nowadays is to find him where he is at perfect 
rest That is where everything is to his liking, 
but especially silence and remoteness from any 
trace of man, or any of his works. The elk is 
the most omnivorous of the vegetarians. He 
loved all the wild, dry feed of California as much 
as the cattle and horses, and became equally fat 
on it. In the woods he likes all the grasses, 
bushes, and herbs, so that one need never 
inquire on what he is feeding. You want 
mainly to know whether there are any other 
hunters ahead of you on his range, and if so 
you may almost as well stay home. The next 
question is that of feed for your horse, for the 
elk will thrive where a horse will starve. And 
though he may not starve, he may fall off so 
in a few days from the scarcity of grass in the 
deep shades that you may have to come out on 

You should also go prepared to camp on the 
trail even without the horse. For if you leave 
fresh tracks too late in the evening to work 
them out, and attempt to go to a distant camp 
and come back and pick them up again in the 
morning, you may be left too far in the rear. 
This trick, that can so often be used to advan- 
tage with deer, will not do for so wide a ranger 
as the elk. For this trip neither can you load 
yourself down with a blanket, but must depend 

The Elk of tbe Pacific Coast 179 

on fire to keep you warm; and you had better 
carry provisions enough for at least two days. 
For a good chance to trail up a band of elk, or 
even a single one, is now so rare that if you have 
gone to the trouble of going so far and spending 
the time and money necessary, you cannot afford 
to let the question of comfort interfere with your 
further proceedings. And though the nights 
may be cold, you cannot dress very warm, as you 
will have to move rapidly by day. 

Unless you have a very rare dog, he will be of 
little or no use to you in this chase. You must 
go too fast for him to " slowtrack," and you can- 
not trust him to bring such game to bay. While 
elk will often turn and fight a dog much more 
quickly than deer, especially cows with calves, 
they are more likely on rough ground to depend 
on leaving him in the rear. Or if the dog over- 
takes the elk, it will be so far ahead of you and in 
such broken ground that before you can come 
up with the procession the dog will have been 
whipped, or retired to some bush for rest, or gone 
off to hunt much-needed water. 

Subject to these inconveniences, which, for a 
tough person, amount to almost nothing, such a 
chase will take you now among the grandest 
scenery the forest primeval has left to offer. On 
this coast are still millions of acres where the axe 
has left no scar, some of it too rough even for our 

i8o The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

great government to survey, but where Nature 
has done all she could to pile sublimity on high 
and yet leave soil enough for the shaggy robe of 
timber that makes the mountains still the home 
of the elk. In other places she has substituted 
shade and silence hedged about with such a vast 
tangle of green, brown, and grey from great trunks 
and broken limbs that you feel still more as if you 
were living in a different sphere. 

Here you may find great hills standing almost 
on end, ridge joining ridge in endless chain, where 
you may descend a thousand feet from the top 
only to find it break off in a precipice of dozens 
or hundreds of feet into a canyon still farther be- 
low. Nowhere can you find a place where you 
can take your horse down, and if you find one 
where you can make a toboggan of your trousers, 
it is by no means certain that you can return. I 
was once on such a ridge for four days with a 
party of four and nine horses. It was but six 
miles long and not over two thousand feet above 
the gulches that yawned all around it into the dif- 
ferent forks of the Coquille River in Oregon, yet 
we had to spend all our time in trying to descend 
to the river. A big drove of elk was just ahead 
of us, their tracks were everywhere, and many 
more were on the same ground. Everything 
showed that we were in their chosen home. 
There was hardly a sapling of any size from 

Tbe Elk of the Pacific Coast 1 8 1 

which a long strip of bark had not been rubbed 
by the elk cleaning the velvet from their horns, 
either in that year or the one before. Horns in 
all the stages of decay were around us, with elk 
trails innumerable. But there was no trail of man 
to tell us where we could go, no feed but wild 
peas and a few small patches of grass that the 
horses would eat up over night, so that we would 
have to move on in the morning. Shade almost 
solid ruled over all. The Douglas fir towered 
one hundred and fifty feet on the hills, with trunks 
like shipmasts mingling their feathery tops so as 
to shut out the sun, while down in the gulches 
the great Port Orford cedar deluged the depths 
with heavier gloom. Through the few openings 
from which we could look out upon the world, 
there was nothing in sight but ridge after ridge, 
cutting the sky line with serried ranks of pine, and 
great gulches between, hazily blue with solid tim- 
ber. The whole was interlaced with such a tangle 
of fallen trees that one would suppose an elk safe 

But the wary animal knew better. Though no 
white man penetrated those shades except at in- 
tervals of years, the elk took no chances on the 
movements of the butcher. Hence, when done 
feeding he wandered off to the heads of the great 
slides and washes that broke in ragged seams 
from the tumbling hills. There, where the pine 

1 82 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

sprung in lusty life from the chinks in great layers 
of conglomerate that looked as if they could sup- 
port nothing, and giant ferns choked the spaces 
between the fallen trunks that could not lie save 
for their erect brethren which held them in place, 
the elk lay down to ruminate. One would sup- 
pose this a fine place to slip upon him and take 
him at a disadvantage. And so it was, but not 
exactly like slipping upon an old cow under a 
tree in the pasture. 

In the first place, the eye becomes so used to 
the big timber that after a while it begins to look 
much smaller than it really is. But in the mean- 
time you have not had your eye fixed on elks' 
heads so as to see how they dwindle on such a 
landscape. On the contrary, they increase in size 
in proportion to the time you spend without see- 
ing one. So that when you do see it you may 
not notice the tips of a pair of mere sticks that, 
like a thousand odd bits of dead branches, rise 
just a little over the level of the fallen logs. If 
you do, and recognize the points by their sheen, 
you may have an easy task, for the elk with all his 
care to keep man at a distance is a great fool 
when he fails. When man is near, the elk is an 
idiot compared with the deer and the antelope. 
About all you have to do is to avoid his nose. 
You need trouble yourself little about those senses 
that make the deer so difficult to circumvent, 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 1 83 

sight and hearing. Yet if he does see you and 
takes a notion to go, it may be but one plunge 
into the dark depths and your hunt is over with 
that one. 

Not so very much better is your chance when 
you see a dark brown or yellowish gray line fade 
in the darkness as you are travelling along. The 
heavier the windfalls the faster the elk seems to 
go, and the more the necessity of his rising into 
sight to pass over the fallen timber as the deer 
does, the more he fails to swing high enough to 
give you a shot from the saddle. Vainly you 
spring from the horse to scramble on a log so as 
to get high enough. By the time you are there 
the brown or gray line is low, or perhaps nothing 
is in sight but a white patch that makes a beauti- 
ful target if it would only stay in view long enough 
for you to raise the rifle. 

Yet this is the very sublimity of forest, draped 
in silence so broad and impressive that you can 
hear the distant footfall of your game, and still 
farther off hear the crack of brush as it leaves 
you forever. Not the bark of a squirrel or the 
chirp of a bird may break the silence for hours. 
All the conditions of the hunt are here, nature 
at her grandest and wildest, with about all that 
you call success depending on your own skill 
and endurance. 

Such is much of the country you will now find 

1 84 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

in the lower part of the Coast Range of Oregon, 
but you will not find it so much more easy in 
those portions of the Cascades where the elk 
yet lingers. The greater part of this range is 
more easy to penetrate with a horse on account 
of the greater abundance of grass. Over much 
of it one can also go with a wagon. There you 
may find the deer in all the abundance you wish ; 
but to find the greater elk you must go to where 
the streams that drain the mighty western face 
break in deep gorges from the upper slopes. 
There again you will find the land rising on 
end to meet you, the forest shaggy with bristling 
trees whose tops interlace into eternal shade, 
torn and ragged hillsides where the fallen logs 
almost slide at your touch, jagged rocks that 
topple over depths so blue that you dare not 
step on them to look for your game. Many a 
band of elk yet lingers around the head waters 
of these streams, and with the increasing vege- 
tation, caused by stopping the fires in the forest 
reserve, they will all increase as the years go on 
and interest in game protection proceeds at its 
present pace. But even if you should fail to see 
one, you will be well rewarded, for only on this 
northern coast can Nature duplicate such charms 
as she here spreads along the path of him who 
loves her for her own sake instead of a pair of 
horns to fasten on a wall. 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 185 

Perhaps, though, you are not adapted to climb- 
ing such rough hillsides and scrambling over such 
great windfalls on slopes so steep that you know 
not where you may land on the other side. Well, 
in the deep silence where the redwoods have not 
yet felt the hand of man, you may find smoother 
slopes and forest aisles that reach farther with- 
out a bend, with vaster columns of fluted brown 
supporting the great canopy of green that shuts 
out nearly all the sun. The dim, religious light 
that sleeps in this great temple is well suited 
to set off to the utmost the rich colors of the elk, 
but you must have keen eyes to see. If you 
have never been here before, you will naturally 
be looking for something the size of a horse on 
the open plain, with the additional advantage of 
horns so large that they will sparkle afar through 
the gloom. Little do you imagine that you cannot 
see more than the tips of them, and these tips so 
lost in the great jumble of dead branches, which 
twist in a thousand directions, that your eye 
might rest on them without recognition. Even 
in the more open places ferns rise upon ferns to 
hide the legs of the tallest elk, while salal and 
a score of other shrubs which flourish in the 
shade are so rank that a patch of hair is the 
most you can see. And if your game starts to 
run, you will see little more than a succession 
of such patches moving in a panorama of sur- 

1 86 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

prising shortness. Yet the feeling of awe which 
overcomes you, with the consciousness that the 
great game is all about you, staring at you, per- 
haps, over the very next log, and that nothing 
in nature is at fault but your eyes, makes the 
hunt a continuous pleasure, though it is very 
likely to end about where it began. 

And thus it will be as you go farther into the 
north, where the increasing rainfall makes the 
woods more sombre. More elk, for a while, at 
least; but also more ferns, higher salal, ranker 
vine-maple, more expansive salmon berries, and 
trees standing even more like brothers, with 
dimmer light falling from the sky through the 
damper air and more sombre shades in these 
shorter corridors of the forest. With the increas- 
ing rain come increasing wet spots that may bog 
your horse, an increase in the dampness on the logs 
that may let you slide off into some mire covered 
with a growth of ferns so rank you could not see 
it. Windfalls with great tangles of moss adding to 
the confusion of the vines multiply, fallen trees 
piled high on each other and becoming all the time 
more difficult to go around as well as to cross over, 
confront you, until at last the obstacles are such 
that the best horse is a burden to you. It is not 
much farther to where you are a burden to your- 
self, where you could not see an elk if there were 
a score within a few rods, where you would not 

The Elk of tbe Pacific Coast 187 

attempt to alone pack out the finest horns in the 
woods, and where you might never be able to find 
them again if you left them to go for help. Im- 
mense areas of such ground yet remain that for 
ages will remain the nursery of the elk ; but on 
the great plains and lower slopes of California, as 
well as in the more open woods of the Coast 
Range and the beautiful upper slopes of most of 
the Cascades, he is gone probably forever. For, 
while easily tamed and restored in a park, there 
will always be too much shooting on these 
grounds to suit him, with too many hunters 
who will evade the law often enough to make it 
a little too human for the taste of this fastidious 

Nothing can be done with the elk by fire hunt- 
ing, because he moves so little at night, and he 
cares so little for salt on this coast that a salt 
lick is of no use. Driving with hounds, as with 
deer, is quite out of the question, so that the 
hunting is narrowed down to still-hunting. Deer 
care little for dogs, but have a mortal fear of the 
sly step of man, and the elk has even greater 
fear. It would be strange, therefore, if still-hunt- 
ing, which so quickly changes the habits of the 
deer and even the antelope, should not have the 
same effect on the elk. Deer soon learn to feed 
entirely by night where it is too dangerous by 
day, as in a vineyard or alfalfa patch, and even 

1 88 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

when on native feed learn to stop sooner and go 
much farther back into rougher ground to lie 
down. The elk is naturally a day feeder, though, 
like the cow and the horse, he can eat at night if 
he chooses. It has not taken him long to learn 
that it is far safer to breakfast before daylight 
and get out of the way, to go without lunch and 
dine very late, so as to remain during the day 
stowed away in some wild place where no man is 
likely to intrude. He used to love the open sand- 
bar of a stream to lie on during the day in order 
to escape flies or mosquitoes. He now finds it 
safer to bear a few flies for the sake of keeping 
out of sight. So he used to lie in the sun at 
times, to harden his horns, as the old hunters 
say. But now he is an ardent admirer of shade, 
and cares little for sunshine except on cold days 
or frosty mornings. And even then you had 
better spend most of your time looking for him 
in shade, that will hide his coat better than sun- 
shine. But he has not yet learned the advantage 
of silence, as has the quail of this coast in the 
last few years, so that his shrill whistle of defiance 
to some rival bull still pierces the depths of the 
forest in rutting time, and gives even the tyro the 
best of opportunities for his undoing. 

It seems an incongruity in nature that this 
grand deer, which appeals so vividly to our im- 
agination, and in everything imposing easily sur- 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 189 

passes all the antlered tribes of earth, should fall 
such an easy victim to the tenderfoot just at the 
time when it would seem the most easy to escape. 
But the elk often fails just where the deer begins 
to show his wisdom. With the deer the hunter's 
real troubles generally begin when he is within a 
few hundred feet of his game, but with the elk 
they generally end at such a point. Too often, 
when one simple twist around a big log would 
take him out of sight, and when a dozen little 
rough gulches, such as shelter him so well when 
lying down, are there ready to engulf his fleeting 
form, he will stand like a goose and await the 
hunter's lead. And then, instead of running away 
like the stricken deer, the elk often stands to see 
if there is any more coming. More easy to hit 
and more easy to kill, ignorant of the many ways 
in which the deer throws his pursuer off his 
bleeding trail, the elk is quite apt to be too easy 
a victim for almost any one with a good rifle 
who can once get within fair shooting distance. 
But just there is the rub. While the elk has 
learned little about handling himself in the im- 
mediate presence of man, he knows better than 
all other game how to beat him with distance. 
And in this he improves each year, although he 
may not see a man or hear the sound of a rifle 
in all that time. It seems a wonderful intuition, 
with which he is gifted even more than the bear. 

190 The Elk of the Pacific Coast 

The elk of California, especially on the southern 
valley, is a trifle smaller than that of the farther 
north and a little smaller than the elk of the 
Rocky Mountains. But the difference is not 
very great. A good bull stands about fourteen 
hands high, or about the height of the native 
horse. Farther north, larger ones are found, and 
some of the grandest horns ever seen have come 
out of the deep dark woods, where one might 
suppose nature would make the horns smaller so 
as to enable the animal to thread the heavy brakes 
with greater ease. Like elk elsewhere, they vary 
very much in the horns, as also in size, weight, 
and proportions. It is doubtful if any California 
elk ever weighed over eight hundred pounds 
unless unusually fat, while the majority run much 
below that. 

The general colors are the same as those of elk 
elsewhere, with the same general build. In fact, 
he has suffered less from change of habitat than 
almost any of our large game animals. His natural 
history, times, and mode of breeding, and all else, 
are much the same as elsewhere, except where 
persecution has compelled him to abandon some 
of his old habits that might lead him into trouble, 
such as spending too much time wallowing in 
mudholes, standing around in open water, lying 
out in the open in large droves, migrating on 
old well-worn trails, etc. He seems to know more 

The Elk of the Pacific Coast 191 

about the white man than any other animal, and 
when you consider the space that must now be 
traversed to insure an acquaintance with one in 
his wild state, the elk of the Pacific Coast is prob- 
ably the hardest game animal to secure by any 
means of hunting. 



THE range of the mule-deer on the western 
slope of our country is far more varied than that 
of any other deer. Not only does he at times go 
well into the range of the blacktail, and at all 
times find himself at home in the heavy timber 
or dense brush apparently essential to the exist- 
ence of the blacktail, but he is equally at home 
on great open tablelands and even plains where 
one would expect to find only the antelope. 
The sole condition is enough gullies, piles of 
rock, patches of timber or brush, hiding-places 
of almost any kind, or ground rough enough to 
enable him to dodge pursuit. And even these 
do not have to be so very plenty or very close to- 
gether. He has not the slightest fear of desola- 
tion or aridity, and on the worst of deserts, where 
many a man and horse, and even the tough 
donkey, have lain down to rise no more, the 
mule-deer may be found happy and fat. All he 
needs is enough rough ground and cactus. Mes- 


Tbe Mule- deer 193 

quite beans may in places help round out his 
sleek sides, while mescal and lechuga may relieve 
the monotony of his diet; but if he can get 
enough prickly pear, he will make you as fine 
venison as you ever saw, and in places be so 
abundant as to make fine hunting for those that 
can endure the heat and dryness. You need not 
trouble yourself in the slightest with the question 
of how a deer can live where there is no water 
for many a league. All he wants is the juicy 
lobe of the prickly pear. This he eats, spines and 
all, though they are sharp as the finest needles 
and strong enough to go through an ordinary 
boot-top, if you kick a little too hard. Strangely 
enough, these needles do not seem to hurt the 
mouth or tongue, though they can be plainly seen 
glistening in the contents of the deer's stomach 
when opened. They are then softened, but such 
cannot be the case when they are swallowed. 
When on this food deer not only can go without 
water, but often go without it when it is perfectly 
convenient. On the great Mexican desert known 
as the Bolson de Mapimi, I hunted for several 
weeks in 1884, stopping at a railroad station 
twenty-five miles from anywhere, and known to be 
twenty-five miles from any other water. Several 
hundred feet from the station the leakage from 
the water cars of the railroad made a shal- 
low pond some fifty feet long and a dozen wide. 

194 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

To the leeward of this fresh tracks of deer could 
be found almost any morning, all near enough to 
smell the water, but not one of them going to it. 
I had plenty of other most positive proof that the 
deer there, as well as the antelope, did not go to 
water, though the days were hot enough to make 
a man want water as much as in midsummer. 
For many a league there was no green feed ex- 
cept some of the varieties of cactus, and every 
deer and antelope that I opened in this vicinity 
was filled with it. The same is true in parts of 
Sonora and in much of Lower California (Mexico). 
In the latter there are large areas abounding in 
deer as fat as you could wish, yet where you will 
have great trouble to find water for camp. And 
where you do find water such ground is often the 
finest in the world to hunt on after you under- 
stand the peculiarities of the desert. You can 
learn to love the desert as well as the timber. 

In California I never knew deer eat cactus but 
once. That was in a year of severe drouth, and 
the only fat deer I saw that year was a buck that 
was full of our thorniest cactus. Here their fa- 
vorite food is the leaf of the live-oak or live-oak 
brush, which is almost invariably found in them. 
The evergreen leaves of the wild lilac, wild cherry 
and buckthorn, with the lucerne and wild buck- 
wheat which robe much of the hills, the moun- 
tain-mahogany, and some of the sumacs, they also 

The Mule-deer 195 

eat. I have never known them eat hay as the 
Virginia deer will sometimes do when very hun- 
gry, and they rarely touch any of the alfileria, 
burr-clover, or other of the nutritious fodder 
plants of which cattle are here so fond. But they 
will eat alfalfa and nibble growing grain prob- 
ably because they think they are doing mischief, 
this deer being the master of his tribe in that 

When I first came to California in 1875, I 
heard much talk of a huge burro (donkey) deer 
that lived on the desert slope of the main chain 
of the Sierra Nevada, which continues all the way 
down through the Mexican territory of Lower 
California. I afterward saw several and was in- 
clined to believe them different from those on the 
western slope. Later I became convinced that 
it was a case of bad observation, and that abnor- 
mally large specimens of the mule-deer are found 
through its entire range. Though my deer-hunt- 
ing reaches over thirty-five years, I never actually 
weighed one until last year, 1901, when we hap- 
pened to stop where there were scales, with a big 
buck just killed. Without the entrails or shanks 
it weighed one hundred and sixty pounds. The 
fat plainly showed it had fallen off a little, and a 
month earlier was probably ten pounds heavier. 
He probably weighed as he stood full two hun- 
dred pounds and probably weighed two hundred 

196 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

and ten the first of July, which is the climax of 
fatness in most animals in California. This was 
a fair, average big buck such as most people 
would guess two hundred and twenty-five pounds 
dressed. I have seen several that would weigh 
something more, but for one such there are a 
dozen that will not dress one hundred and twenty. 
The largest I ever shot was in Durango, Mexico, 
and it was plainly larger and fatter than this one. 

Most any one would have taken it for a differ- 
ent deer, but it was identical with the common 
deer of southern California. 

But on the desert side of the mountains in 
northern California is found what is called the 
" mule-tailed deer," a mule-deer so different from 
the common one that, it is probably correct to 
consider it another variety. This deer will aver- 
age larger than the mule-deer of the south, 
though it is doubtful if any will exceed some of 
the specimens found at times along the whole 
lower coast. This mule-tailed deer may have 
occasionally straggled to the southern deserts 
and given rise to the idea of another deer. Or 
the confusion of names and the extra large bucks 
sometimes found among the common mule-deer 
may account for it. I have never known the 
" mule-tailed " deer to reach the coast or interior 
valleys of California, and the only one known 
west of the Sierra Nevada and south of the 



By Dr. C. Hart Merriam 

The Mule- deer 197 

central part of the state is the common mule- 

On the other hand, it is quite certain that far 
down in Lower California is a very small specimen 
of the mule-deer that occasionally reaches into 
California. Though I have never seen it, I have 
seen its antlers, and know of three being killed 
a hundred miles north of the Mexican line. The 
largest, a four-year-old buck in good condition, 
weighed only fifty pounds, and the next largest, 
a barren doe and fat, weighed but forty. This 
deer hardly ever comes out of the very heaviest 
brush. It is quite an accident to see one at all, 
and little is known of its habits. It is so small 
that it cannot be mistaken for the common deer, 
and there can be no mistake about a set of full 
antlers such as I have seen in Lower California. 
But it is too rare to hunt. 

Over all this range the common mule-deer is 
found, from coast to mountain top, in all sorts of 
cover and absence of cover, so long as there is 
enough rough ground for which he can steer 
if trouble arises. Though a clumsy-looking ani- 
mal compared with the blacktail or the Virginia 
deer, the mule-deer is still full of grace and 
beauty. His awkwardness is only when unsus- 
picious, at which time deer and antelope gener- 
ally lack the elegant lines they have when looking 
for danger. The ears, eight inches long and 

198 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

seven wide, that a moment ago looked so stupid 
when they were thrown back and the animal had 
its head down, suddenly round out to a graceful 
oval the minute they are thrown forward in quest 
of danger, and seem not a whit too large, even in 
the fawn, on which they are almost as large as on 
the adult. The angularity of a moment ago gives 
sudden place to flowing lines that are pretty even 
in a poor deer and charming on a fat one. 

Still more surprising is the change when the 
mule-deer concludes that 'danger is imminent. 
Though he knows right well how to canter, and 
can lay himself to the ground in dead run like a 
horse if necessary, he seems to enjoy leaping high, 
as if to tempt your fire, and for this he prefers 
the bouncing gait. All four hoofs strike the 
ground with one far-sounding thump which sends 
it aloft much higher than the common leap of 
the Virginia deer. The feet are gathered closely 
up as it rises, held so till on the descent, when 
they are again thrown downward like steel springs 
to spurn the ground. This makes a gait that is 
exceedingly pretty, though on principle much 
more tiresome than the lower loping pace of 
other deer. The animal is all the time throwing 
itself higher than is needed, thus lengthening the 
time between the points of striking ground with- 
out increasing the distance between them. The 
consequence is that, because it will not let itself 

Tbe Mule- deer 199 

out to a dead run until pretty well tired with the 
other pace, a good dog can overtake a mule-deer 
on open ground much more quickly than the 
Virginia deer. 

But it is not necessary to squander sympathy on 
this account. The deer rarely strays from rough 
ground more than enough to encourage the dog 
at the start. The minute he is among brush and 
rocks the sympathy is all needed by the dog. If 
there is anything in the shape of brush that this 
deer cannot smash or twist through without ap- 
parent delay to his rapid foot, I have not yet seen 
it. The chaparral of southern California is wholly 
unique, that of the northern mountains being mere 
oak openings compared with most of it Manza- 
nita, scrub-oak, thorny lilac, adenostama, cercocar- 
pus, and mountain-mahogany, with laurel, choke- 
cherry and baccharis, stiff and unyielding, with 
fifty times the number of twigs and branches 
needed for lusty life, all are trying to strangle 
each other with a myriad arms, beginning the 
strife often at a point where a man would have 
to crawl to get through and sometimes rising 
fifteen feet in the struggle. This makes a vest 
of evergreen that rolls for miles over hill and dale, 
with shining boulders projecting here and there, 
and groves of live-oak massed in the heads of 
little gulches or engirdling some tiny meadow. 
So dense is the mass of green and so small the 

200 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

shades that the surface looks like velvet, here 
brightly green where the sun strikes it, there 
darkly blue where it sleeps in shade, but generally 
a mass of sparkling light from the great number 
of very small leaves. But the boulders that glisten 
above it are nothing to those that lie below, and 
in its natural state it is about the hardest com- 
bination that man or dog is ever likely called to 

Such is the chosen home of this deer, although 
he loves the heavy timber of the mountains and 
the dense jungles of the river bottoms quite as 
well as any other deer. The only possible chance 
a few years ago was to catch the game outside of 
this, and even then it took a deadly rifle to make 
sure of covering. For if the deer once got into 
that heavy brush, a few yards of attempted track- 
ing were generally enough for you, and if the day 
were hot a few feet would often do. But there 
was much of this that was low enough, so you 
could see the head or "even the back of a deer, 
and from an early day much of the heavier stuff 
was burned off, with openings of different sizes 
here and there on which one could see almost 
the whole of the body. 

The most interesting deer-hunting on this coast 
used to be on the more open portions of such 
ground and around the patches of chaparral, while 
the heavy stuff that had been swept by fire, when 

The Mule-deer 201 

not so dry as to consume the stubs too much, was 
the grandest of all places to see this deer perform. 
Other deer leaping through the wildest windfalls 
are but an approach to the skill with which this 
mule-deer defied both rifle and dog. On almost 
any rough ground and especially up hill, common 
dogs are soon willing to resign ; but it is in burnt 
chaparral, where black stubs that are all the stiffer 
for being burnt curl upward from six to eight feet 
and almost dense enough for a cornfield, with 
enough granite boulders among the rows to rep- 
resent giant pumpkins, that this deer exhibits 
best. Through this he riots with his loftiest 
jumps and most erratic twists. The sticks he 
sweeps so gayly aside throw back the largest dog, 
many deflect the best-aimed bullet, while the ever 
changing curve from high to low and from side 
to side leave you wondering where you are to aim. 
Nothing in all my field experience was ever quite 
so interesting as being one of a party posted on 
the ridges around such a brushy basin, each one of 
us emptying the whole magazine of his repeater at 
a two-hundred-pound buck in wild career through 
the middle of it, and half a dozen "deer dogs" 
led by a great Scotch deerhound of tremendous 
speed struggling vainly in his rear ; yet the quarry, 
dashing sunlight from his glittering antlers at the 
farther edge, skipped gayly up a gulch of rocky 
stairs from which the last bullet sung on high a 

202 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

despairing tenor to the last yelp of the bruised 
and breathless pack. 

From 1875 to 1885 I lived where deer were so 
plentiful that going out to find fresh tracks was 
like going to the corner grocery. In the greater 
part of the section there were no hunters but my- 
self, and deer so abundant that I made my own 
game laws, with no one to protest. Compelled to 
spend most of my time in the hills to regain lost 
health, I had little to do but study nature ; and 
many a deer have I tracked up without a gun, 
and many a one have I let go unshot at simply 
because I did not want it, enjoying the hunt just 
about the same. In this way I knew many a deer 
nearly as well as if he were hanging under the 
tree at the house, for I rarely troubled those near 
by, but kept them for emergencies, short hunts, 
and hunts without a gun. Educated on the wary 
Virginia deer, I at first felt nothing but contempt 
for a deer that one can get a shot at with boots 
on and stiff overalls scratching the dry brush. 
But time soon gave me a high respect for the 
mule-deer; and it has been constantly growing 
as the animal keeps pace with modern guns and 

Every one who has hunted deer much some- 
times wonders if the animal has not a sixth sense. 
So often when you have the wind just right, are 
certain you are making no noise, while still more 

The Mule- deer 203 

certain you are out of sight behind some ridge, 
and just when you are sure you have the game 
in your hand, you find the tracks of its speedy 
disappearance. No matter how softly you have 
lowered your moccasined foot through the snow, 
or how carefully you have eased off every twig 
along your course that could scrape on the softest 
cloth, or how carefully you have kept the wind in 
your face, out of sight and even off the trail most 
of the time to avoid the danger of the deer's 
watching that track, you find it suddenly gone ; 
jumped, too, so far away that you could not even 
hear its bounding feet on the frozen ground or 
catch the slightest glimpse of its rapid flight. 
Such disappointments make one love deer-hunt- 
ing more than any other kind, and the mule-deer 
of this coast has a goodly store of them in hand 
for any one who will follow him long enough. 
One who has been out only a few times may 
stumble over a blockhead, of which the propor- 
tion is much greater than among Virginia deer. 
But one who hunts on the same ground long 
enough to know almost every individual deer, and 
notes to-day the tracks of yesterday and the day 
before, as well as those of the last hour, will be 
much surprised to learn how many deer have 
slipped away from him without his suspect- 
ing it. 

In addition to this mysterious sense, their ears 

204 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

are as keen as those of any deer, and their knowl- 
edge of the scent of a man I have found fully 
developed in fawns on ground that I knew posi- 
tively had not known the step of man since their 
birth. Though their eyes are dull for an object , 
at rest, they have that same wonderful quickness 
to detect motion which makes the hunting of 
other deer so difficult. I have seen one watch 
the motion of my companion on a ridge so far off 
that the sharpest eyes of man could hardly say 
with certainty what it was. And I have seen 
scores of them jump and run from their beds at 
the sight of my head rising slowly over a ridge 
two hundred yards away, while the flash of a rifle 
on the shoulder will send many a one flying at 
twice that distance. 

This deer is apt at first to excite only your 
contempt by his stupidity in lying still until you 
are very near him and then showing himself. 
But you will soon find this the exception, and for 
every one you get in that way, several dozen 
escape you by close hiding. For in that respect 
this deer is a master. From a distance I once 
saw one enter a bit of isolated brush of not over 
an acre and a quarter in extent. I did not want 
it, but did want to see it run. First I stood on 
a slope some feet above and threw rocks in, but 
nothing moved. Then I went into the brush 
with the same result, going all through it, making 


The Mule- deer 205 

much noise, and kicking here and there. Then 
I circled it, but there was no track going out, 
while the one going in was plain enough ; and 
I had been all the time in such plain sight that 
the game could not have gone out without my 
seeing. Then I tried tracking the deer around 
in the brush. The tracks multiplied all the time, 
showing plainly that the beast was sneaking 
around in the cover. After spending about an 
hour in the cover and an hour on the hillside 
above, waiting for the deer to move, I gave up. 
If this is not shrewdness, what is ? The amount 
or quality of the noise you make does not change 
the case in the slightest. You may sometimes 
start one by getting to the windward, but gener- 
ally not, for when the deer is playing this game 
it knows perfectly well that you are a man, and a 
man that will finally get tired. Often, instead of 
sneaking, they will lie still until you almost tread 
on them and then dash into a little gulch or 
around some rock or through a bunch of dense 
brush that gives you not a second of time to 
shoot, and then they are gone forever. Several 
times I have been close enough to breathe the 
dust raised from the dry ground by their plung- 
ing feet. A friend riding along a hillside trail in 
dense brush one day, just ahead of me, saw one 
lying under a manzanita with head down and 
eyes up watching him. As his rifle was lying 

206 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

across the saddle in his lap he just tipped it over 
and fired. His horse sprung from under him so 
quickly that my horse almost trod on him as he 
rolled over the ground, but he bagged the game, 
and its coat was blackened with the powder. They 
also drop their heads and so crouch in low brush, 
that a very large buck can almost sneak out of 
sight in a good potato patch. When you have 
been taken in a few times in this way, your respect 
for the animal increases rapidly. 

And it increases still more when this deer starts 
in full career, for there is no more magnificent 
target for the rifle than when he concludes that 
hiding may be a failure and that flight is safer. 
Where the chaparral is high he may run through 
without bounding above it. But where it is about 
six feet, or even seven, he seems to take special 
pleasure in drawing your fire by swinging full 
above it where entirely unnecessary. This makes 
the deer's course a line of glistening curves on 
which it is very difficult to make calculation, 
especially when he works into the combination 
a new twist to one side or the other at almost 
every spring, beside varying the height of every 
leap. As a rule your sole reliance in such case 
is speed of fire. On open ground you can make 
calculations on the up-and-down motion as well 
as on the forward that is, sometimes and fire 
every shot as you should, as if it were your last. 

Tbe Mule- deer 207 

But in heavy brush every leap is liable to be the 
last, for at any moment the game drops out of 
sight and sneaks away, or goes off on a low trot 
with head down, or even breaks into a low run, 
in all of which he is as perfect as in his lofty 
bounding. Keeping a string of empty shells 
hot from the ejector of the repeater revolving 
in whizzing curves above your head is ruinous 
to good shooting, but in many cases it is the only 
chance. And when the firing pin clicks dead on 
the empty barrel and the brush closes forever on 
the last curve of shining fur, I never feel badly, 
for if there is anything I love it is game that 
knows how to escape. Such work should be 
prepared for by much fine target practice off- 
hand, as this snap shooting tends to destroy 
that extreme fineness of sight and touch on the 
trigger, on which in the long run success with the 
rifle most depends. 

This deer is probably the most mischievous of 
his race. Most all deer eat turnips, beans, and a 
few other things, and occasionally nip grain. But 
the mule-deer will spoil from thirty to fifty of the 
largest bunches of grapes in a night, and later in 
the season will finish off the leaves and shoots, 
besides cleaning up the new wood on deciduous 
fruit trees. Apples, Japanese persimmons, pears, 
quinces, almost anything in reach, he spoils with 
a single bite and passes on to another, as he does 

208 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

with a bunch of grapes. Bean vines, melons, 
squashes, and many other things he harvests often 
more completely than the settler would if he had 
a chance. 

Few things in California have been more amus- 
ing than the efforts of many a settler near the 
base of the hills to reimburse his loss by killing 
one of these mischievous deer for the table. After 
deciding to have some venison of his own fatten- 
ing, and buying a new rifle with plenty of shine 
on it, he discovers that the deer which people tell 
him are on foot morning and evening in the hills, 
don't exist around his place. This is true mainly 
when they are living on the native feed of the 
hills. When they are raiding fine raisin grapes, 
they wait until night has drawn her heaviest cur- 
tains over the eyes of the tenderfoot. By the 
time it is light enough to read on the bare ground 
the record of their banquet, they are far up the 
hillside again. Being well dined, they have no 
use for any of the native feed they got along with 
while the grapes were growing. They have noth- 
ing farther to do but lie down in the heaviest 
brush, and smile at the sound of heavy boots 
scraping and stumbling up the hill. If the 
breath of the owner of the boots holds out for 
the thousand feet or more of ascent generally 
necessary, they smile still more as he puffs and 
pants around in the chaparral, which he reaches 

The Mule-deer 209 

about the time the sun blazes high through the 
clear, dry air of autumn and before a particle of 
the daily sea breeze has risen. And little more 
does he see if he goes there in the evening to 
await the deer's rising and coming out on the 
open ground. Raisin grapes are very substantial, 
being both food and drink, and after a night's 
banquet on them, early rising for the deer the 
next evening would be quite absurd. 

After returning from the hills a few times, hot, 
hungry, and disgusted, without seeing a hair or 
hearing the sound of a hoof, he concludes to 
watch for them in the vineyard. The seven-foot 
fence he has built around it they leap like birds, 
or if there is an opening in it large enough to let 
a decent dog through, the largest buck will go 
through it or under it, antlers and all, especially if 
it is of barbed wire. This is their especial delight, 
and a deer will go several yards to find a good 
place it can use as a backscratcher rather than 
lose its advantage by jumping it. As nearly every 
kind of trap, noose, or pitfall fails to stop the 
marauder, the owner thinks he has a certainty in 
the enclosure. 

But even on open ground game is very hard to 
see at night and still harder to shoot, especially 
by one not used to it, and deer see almost as well 
as by day and can smell and hear even better. 
While some will not enter the vineyard at all, 

2io Deer of the Pacific Coast 

others care nothing for the presence of man, and 
come so near that he can hear them eating. 
Still, he cannot see them, for the grapevines are 
much higher and the deer much lower than they 
seem when seen apart. Even by moonlight, when 
often most sure of success, the hunter is often 
deceived the worst. Although I have seen many 
a man try this watching, I never knew but one to 
succeed. He did it by digging a pit in the 
ground where it commanded a view of a knoll 
against the sky. During the season he managed 
in this way to get six deer, and in the operation 
his vineyard of ten acres was mostly destroyed. 
Many would imagine that the concentration of 
deer at such a place would make the surrounding 
hills fine for hunting ; but unless you are on the 
hilltop, a mile or more away, by daylight your 
chances will be slight, and you will discover that 
there are several other directions they can take 
as well as the one you have chosen for them. 
Another way is to track them out, find where 
they went, and go at evening to wait for them to 
rise; but this is slow also, as the settler found, 
for when thus feeding the deer seems perfectly 
aware that he is doing mischief, and appears to 
know that somebody seeks recompense. 

An apparent confirmation of this is the entirely 
different action of the same deer when they quit 
feeding on the cultivated place and resort to 

Tbe Mule- deer 211 

nature's orchard. When acorns are falling, deer 
go to the groves of live-oaks in the little valleys 
and canyons along the base of the hills, where the 
feed is concentrated, instead of spending time 
with the scattered trees along the hills. But the 
very same deer that would not go near the vine- 
yard until after night, and went out before day- 
light to lie down at once in the heaviest cover, 
now stray from the hills into these groves as early 
as four o'clock in the afternoon and sometimes an 
hour earlier. And in the morning they lounge 
about as late even as ten o'clock, and nearly 
always as late as nine, nibbling acorns and stand- 
ing around in the sunny spots before moving off 
to the hills. Those deer that went into the hills 
earlier went slowly, did not go very far, and 
lingered long on foot before lying down for the 

The hunting in some of these groves used to 
be the easiest on earth. Many were like old Eng- 
lish parks, filled with oaks that were old settlers 
before the falling of the acorn that made the keel 
of the Mayflower. In many places they covered 
the ground with almost solid shade, with the 
ground nearly always rolling enough to enable 
one to keep out of sight, generally with a gully or 
ravine winding through it just deep enough to 
permit one to travel with ease on some old cattle 
trail, and just low enough to hide, yet allow you 

212 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

to see over each bank. As the breeze from sea 
by day or land at night can nearly always be pre- 
dicted to a certainty, and follows the run of the 
water, there was nothing to do but lounge through 
one of these parks, to most of which you could 
easily drive, even in the earliest days. For years 
I did most all my reading and writing under a 
natural arbor of wild grape in one of these, about 
a quarter of a mile from the house, with others 
equally wild within a short ride. Nothing was 
plainer than that the deer well knew the difference 
between them and the vineyard or garden. They 
showed no more watchfulness than when in the 
hills, and often seemed actually more careless, as 
in some places they would spend the day there 
lying under the trees just like cattle. 

Persecution and the rapid settlement of the 
country have not only reduced the numbers of 
the mule-deer very greatly, but decidedly changed 
his habits. He no longer spends the day in the 
sumac of the lower hills, or lies beneath the sweep- 
ing sycamore in the edge of the valley. No more 
will you find the big buck under the heteromeles 
on the hillside that looks out upon the distant 
sea, or under the grapevine in the river bottom, 
or even in the dense chaparral, unless it is well up 
the mountain's breast and in its roughest brakes. 
Less often do they come to the vineyard or orchard 
even in the darkest night, or if they do it is to go 

The Mule- deer 213 

still higher up and farther back into the hills than 
ever before. The day when one could wander 
about at random among our hills is past. For 
any approach to certainty one must now locate 
the general whereabouts of the game by its tracks 
no easy matter when we are limited to bucks, 
a law we now respect because of its rigorous 
necessity. By the time this is done it is apt to 
be too late to find his especial whereabouts of that 
day. The only way is to be there at or near day- 
light the next morning, on the highest ridges that 
will give you a view of the situation. Or you 
may stay and wait until evening brings them again 
to their feet. But there is some danger they will 
have discovered you, and you will be quite certain 
not to see one. Being there in the morning early 
enough often means camping very near, and some- 
times on the high ridges without water, so that 
the pursuit of the mule-deer is no longer the joy 
of the tenderfoot who wants to kill a deer. An 
old fool deer yet remains here and there that the 
tenderfoot may stumble over, but the " picnic " 
part of the hunting is gone forever. But he who 
loves hunting for its own sake and not for count 
or heads enjoys the chase as much as ever. The 
mule-deer will outlast all his enemies, for there is 
too much wild country that can never be cleared. 
Yet much of the future hunting will be in pre- 
serves, and most of it mere murder ; for the mule- 

214 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

deer when not troubled becomes disgustingly 
tame, just as he becomes dangerously familiar as 
a pet. He is the worst of his race in this respect, 
and the baby fawn that seems so innocent will 
butt you over or strike you with its feet before it 
is half grown. 

I have not yet been able to discover that perse- 
cution makes this deer watch its back track before 
being started. Even after being started it is not 
so particular as the Virginia in this respect, and 
it is much more easy to see again and even to 
get a good shot at, though as a rule it does not 
pay to try. He will often stop on the upward 
slope of the next hill after running over a ridge, 
and often, if he is running then, a ball that ploughs 
the dry dirt ahead of him will turn or daze him 
long enough to give you a shot or two. So that 
if you are near the crest of a ridge when one runs 
over, it will generally pay to run to the top of it. 

In rainy weather the movements of this deer 
are irregular after he once begins to travel. Dur- 
ing a storm he generally moves little, keeping in 
heavy brush about the heads of deep gulches or 
sheltering rocks. But after the rain is over he 
will go almost anywhere and travel farther than 
before, so that tracking by your knowledge of 
his habits is much more difficult than when the 
ground is dry. In the dry summer of southern 
California his habits are very regular when not 

Tbe Mule-deer 215 

too much disturbed. If you find a fresh track 
in the morning leading up hill from a spring you 
may be quite certain he is not going down hill 
again that morning, at least not very far, and may 
be quite confident of finding his track along the 
upper slope. If not, then it is pretty good evi- 
dence that he has lain down somewhere on the 
face of the hill. The same when he has left 
feeding-ground at the base of the hill. If the 
hill is not too small, he is not likely to go 
down the other side for the sake of going up 
another hill. So, if not bothered too much, most 
of his days will be passed in an orbit of little 
over three miles in diameter, and often much 
less. This is generally around some common 
centre, like a good spring or feeding-ground, or 
extra good hiding-place into which to run. On 
this area the deer will often not move over a mile 
in a day, swinging from one side to the other, 
spending two or three days here and two or three 
there. You need not look for them to-day where 
you started them yesterday, but in a few days 
they will be there again or somewhere very near. 
For on the greater part of the range there is no 
migration of this deer to speak of. It will move 
off the higher mountains down the sides when the 
snow is deep, but that is not far. And once in a 
while deer move into some locality from a dis- 
tance, and also become scarce for a time. But 

2i 6 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

such things are at long intervals and irregular. 
So acorns and a vineyard or orchard may con- 
centrate them, but they have not come far, and as 
a rule their movements are influenced little by 
the question of food or weather. 

In the high mountains the period of seclusion 
seems to last longer than along the coast. As 
late as the middle of July, at four thousand feet, 
I have hunted for ten days where I could find 
plenty of fresh tracks at daylight around the 
edges of small patches of brush of only a few 
acres each, where I could easily circle and find 
positive proof that they had not gone out, yet I 
could be there at the first glimmer of dawn, and 
again at the last hour or so of daylight, on a com- 
manding position, with a good glass, yet see never 
a sign of fur or horns. This is often bad enough 
along the lower levels, but does not last as long 
as in the mountains. The length of the breeding 
season probably has something to do with it, for 
spotted fawns may be seen in the mountains as 
late as July, while at the coast the spots are off 
early in June. 

Driving with hounds to runways is even less of 
a success with the mule-deer here than with the 
blacktail in the North. While he likes an easy 
road when undisturbed as well as any, he cares 
not where he goes when alarmed : plunges into 
the thickest masses of rock or brush, or both ; up 

The Mule- deer 217 

hill or down is all the same to him, here clatter- 
ing down the rocky bottom of a steep wash, there 
skipping gayly from side to side of a steep gully 
up which the dog can hardly scramble, thrown 
back by the brush in the bottom and on the sides. 
You may run the same deer off the same hill a 
dozen times, and he will take a different course 
every time. It is, therefore, too difficult to estab- 
lish runways even by trial. The dryness of the 
air and the heat which impair the scent of a dog 
after a short run are also greater than in the 
North, while water to refresh the dogs is much 
more scarce. A two-mile run, which sets the 
average dog thinking, is nothing for the deer 
even with the lofty leaps that are so tiresome. 
At three miles the yelp of the dog becomes a 
wail of despair, and the longest run I ever knew 
was but four miles when the dog gave up. This 
buck slipped away in fine style, though very fat, 
but a few weeks afterward I found him miserably 
emaciated, probably from the run in the heat. 
Had the dog been as fat as the deer, he would 
not have lasted half a mile. 

Still there are places where dogs may be used 
to advantage, such as a hill that is a mere spur 
of a larger hill from which it is separated by " a 
saddle." It may have a top like a table covered 
with several acres of brush with open flanks. If 
this stood off alone it would be too small to have 

2i 8 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

any game on it. But being part of a larger range, 
it may have several deer on its top, if they are not 
hunted too much. A dog need not stand high in 
the "Kennel Register" to hustle the deer about 
so that they will run around on the open flanks or 
start to cross the saddle for the larger hill. The 
same is true where brush is in scattered patches 
with good openings between, or the game is in- 
brushy ravines with good ridges to stand on, and 
similar combinations. And you need have no 
compunctions against using hounds under such 
circumstances, for the game will likely give you 
and the dogs the most interesting experience you 
ever had. 

This deer is plainly a tougher animal than the 
Virginia deer, and will readily carry several bullets 
away into brush where you will never find him 
without a good dog. I found an ounce round 
ball with seven drams of the very strongest 
powder none too effective for hunting around 
the patches of heavy brush, in spite of the talk 
about " spoiling all the meat," " ruining the hide," 
etc. Letting a wounded one alone so as to get 
stiff and sick, which is so often a success with 
the Virginia deer, especially in very cold weather, 
is generally a failure on this deer. I have known 
one go seven miles without stopping when shot a 
little too far back with a Winchester .so-caliber 
express, and be extremely lively the next day. 

The Mule- deer 219 

The surest way with a wounded one is to chase 
it up as fast as possible before it finds its pace 
after recovering from the first shock. For if he 
once gets into heavy brush, you are quite likely 
to be the permanent proprietor of the shock, espe- 
cially on a hot day. 

The early summer coat of the mule-deer is 
yellowish tan color, which in July falls rapidly 
off, leaving a fine glossy black which soon takes 
a gray tinge as the hairs increase in length. The 
coat becomes rapidly gray, and so continues 
through the winter until late in the spring. 
Black still persists along the brisket and on the 
forehead, but most of the coat is a glossy, iron 
gray that shines afar in the sun, and is so often 
the only thing by which you can detect the 
animal at a distance, that shining spots on the 
landscape and especially in brush must always be 
examined, no matter what their shape. With the 
warm weather of late spring the gray falls rapidly 
away into the yellow, which seldom lasts over 
three months, while the black period is sometimes 
not more than three weeks, or even less. 

The antlers are, if possible, more irregular than 
those of the blacktail, and afford no indication of 
the deer's age that is of value. When in the vel- 
vet they seem darker than the velvet of the Vir- 
ginia deer, and when out of the velvet they at 
first seem more brown. Most of them are forked 

220 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

horns with few or no points, so that a fine pair 
need not be expected. They are of all shapes, 
sizes, and degrees of branching, so that no one 
can say just what the average is. They start 
from the bony crest of the forehead, instead of the 
skin on the back of the neck, as seen in some 
celebrated pictures. And, instead of lying along 
the back, as some artists have them, they point 
forward, so that a dog that is not pretty quick will 
be impaled in a twinkling without much lowering 
of the deer's nose. The antlers are carried late 
into winter, and often are not shed before the 
latter part of February. The new growth begins 
at once, so that by the middle of July the velvet 
is generally off and the antlers trim and clean. 
The mooted question of what becomes of deer's 
horns that are shed is not so difficult to answer 
here. I have found them in all stages of disin- 
tegration from " weathering " the same as the 
rocks. Strangely enough this takes place, as 
with the rocks, even faster where there is little 
or no rain than where there is plenty. On the 
desert, horn is like a plough-handle or a wagon- 
tongue, only more so. Without use and without 
rain they " weather " away. 

In size and proportions this deer varies even 
more than the Virginia. A good-sized buck 
will measure six feet from tip of nose to root of 
tail without special stretching out. That is 

The Mule- deer 221 

about as he would stand with nose a little out- 
stretched in feeding. But as deer are never as 
high as they seem in pictures, he will be but 
twenty inches high at the brisket. The length 
of the shank of hind leg is the same, with a 
girth at the shoulder of three feet ten inches for 
a fat one. This makes a very handsome animal, 
though its height at the top of the shoulder will 
not be over forty inches. Its great elasticity and 
quickness when in motion make it look larger 
and far more imposing than when undergoing 
measurement after death. 

The tail varies greatly with the individual as 
well as with the age. It is from six to eight 
inches long, often so short on the largest deer as 
to appear stubby. On the greater part of the 
under side a narrow strip is naked, while the rest 
is a warm white. In diameter it generally nar- 
rows from the base to within a third or a fourth 
of the end, where it suddenly widens out into a 
tuft of longer hairs, mainly black. A strip of 
brownish gray, or brown, runs down the top to 
near the end, but most of the tuft is quite black, 
while most of the rest is quite white. Being set 
against a large white patch on the rump, some 
ten inches wide, this black is so conspicuous that 
it is not strange it has received among most hunt- 
ers the name of "blacktail," which properly be- 
longs to the Columbia deer of the North. This 

222 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

tail is hardly seen in running, as it is generally 
carried down. And even when carried half up, 
or even horizontal as it sometimes is, it is hardly 
noticed like the tail of the Virginia deer, which 
so strikes the eye at .the first jump. 

The tail of the " mule-tailed " deer is from one- 
third to one-half longer, of about equal diameter 
throughout, with no very distinct tuft, but rather 
a bunch of black hairs in the end. All the rest 
is a warm white, sometimes with a tawny tinge, 
hairs all longer than in the tail of the other ex- 
cept at the end, where they are not long enough 
to form any distinct tuft. The white runs to the 
under side, where there is little or no sign of a 
naked stripe. Some of the color of the back 
reaches an inch or two down on the upper side 
of the tail. This deer has also a broader section 
of white under the throat, but it has the same 
black forehead, the same general expression, ears, 
and shape as the other, with the same light cin- 
namon on the legs, black brisket, white rump. 
Sportsmen differ about its classification as a sepa- 
rate variety; but there is no deer in southern 
California having that kind of a tail or so much 
white on the throat. It is generally supposed 
a larger deer, and it is quite probable that there 
are fewer small specimens among it than among 
the deer of the South. But there are some in the 
South as large as any deer in America that are 

Tbe Mule- deer 223 

plainly of the stubby-tailed variety ; and the uni- 
formity of their tails is so great that the difference 
between them and the tail of the other can hardly 
be attributed to age or accident. All of them 
are misrepresented by the great American artist. 
They do not have great calf snouts, but fine black 
noses, and they do not stand with their mouths 
open and antlers laid back, screaming at each 
other. They can do some effective fighting at 
times, though half a dozen bucks may, during 
rutting time, be on such friendly terms that one 
who is cool can bag them all without leaving his 
tracks. They do not snort as much as the Vir- 
ginia deer, and when they do the snort lacks 
most of the hollow whistling sound of the latter. 
One seeing the feed on most of their range 
would imagine that the mule-deer of the south 
of California would rarely make good venison. 
It is quite the reverse, and an animal entirely 
devoid of fat is both tender and juicy, provided 
it is not emaciated from sickness. Yearlings and 
does, unless barren, rarely have any fat on them, 
and the best three-year-old buck rarely has 
enough to brag of. None ever get as fat as the 
Virginia deer in the East, but they are all good 
venison just the same. The proportion of bucks, 
too, that are musky in rutting time is far less 
than on the Atlantic coast. Most large deer 
with necks swelled to the greatest capacity are 

224 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

perfectly free from it. Once in a great while 
there is a very strong one, and I once had a pork 
barrel ruined by trying to extract the flavor from 
a big buck by pickling it. I met another once 
at night that must have been fifty yards away, and 
was brought to a sudden halt by the strong flavor 
of muskrat coming down a little gulch on the 
evening breeze. He gave a snort and ran, but 
the stream of scent remained for a minute or so 
longer. Such cases, however, are extremely rare, 
and the deer is nearly always worth your labor. 

The mule-deer of the southern coast of the Pa- 
cific is a special blessing to many because he is 
at his best in summer, when they can get away 
from business ; whereas at that time still-hunting 
is almost an impossibility in the rainy lands be- 
cause of the great density of the cover when the 
green of summer is at its height. But still-hunt- 
ing here is then about the same as in the fall, ex- 
cept that the period of seclusion is not as fully 
over. On the other hand, the venison is at its 
fattest, while the weather is as charming for camp- 
ing as one could wish and rarely too warm for 
morning or evening hunting. One is not driven 
to lick-watching, fire-hunting, or any of the miser- 
able modes of murder resorted to at that time in 
the East by those who must have a deer. But 
one can here enjoy to the full that satisfaction 
which results from matching one's self with un- 

The Mule- deer 225 

aided wits against an animal knowing so well how 
to care for itself, that when you seek it you had 
better leave in camp everything in the nature of 
a gillie or a guide or even your best hunting com- 
panion, or you will only double the chances of its 
slipping away unsuspected. And you had better 
wear soft moccasins as well as in the East, and 
take every other precaution consistent with cover- 
ing ground enough. When you have learned him 
well you will say that the mule-deer is the peer 
of any game, next to the Virginia, and almost 
equal to him. 

NOTE. Much that applies with equal force to modes of hunting 
this deer has been stated under the title of the blacktail, and could 
not well be repeated without trespassing on the patience of the 
reader who knows how to apply the principles. 



WITH the exception of a few Virginia deer in 
southern Arizona, which belong really to Sonora, 
the deer of the entire western slope of the con- 
tinental divide has a shorter tail than the Vir- 
ginia deer, with black hairs in the end. In most 
of them the tail is short, with a tuft of hair, mostly 
black, at the end. As the tail is not carried up, 
but droops over the white rump so as to make 
the black show plainly, all the deer of the Pacific 
coast and the interior basin to the Rocky Moun- 
tains are called the " blacktail " by way of distinc- 
tion from the Virginia deer, which, over all that 
range, is called the " whitetail." 

But there is a plain difference between the deer 
of the southern half of California and those of the 
northern half. The latter inhabit the whole coast 
west of the crest of the Sierra Nevada, while the 
deer of the southern half run the whole length 
of Lower California (Mexico). The dividing line 
between the two is not easy to define, but it is a 
strip of fifty to seventy miles wide about the 
centre of the state. The deer of the southern 
half is called the mule-deer by those who know 
the difference, and those of the north the black- 


The Columbia Blacktail 227 

tail, or Columbia blacktail when they wish to be 
more particular. Beyond this belt the mule-deer 
is very rare on the range of the blacktail, while 
the blacktail is practically unknown on the range 
of the mule-deer. 

The line between their eastern and western 
range is much more easy to define in the case of 
the blacktail. While the mule-deer at all points 
passes to the east over the crest of the Sierra 
Nevada, the blacktail does not pass it to any 
extent ; and it is the same on the continuation of 
the great range into the Cascades of Oregon. I 
have found them as far east as Klamath Lake, 
but this is but a few miles over the crest of the 
range, the general character of the woods and 
feed being the same. Eastward of that the mule- 
deer only is found. 

The blacktail seems to care little for open coun- 
try, and is found almost entirely in timber or heavy 
brush. The evergreen brush, or chaparral, that 
robes many of the hills of northern California with 
miles of wavy folds, is one of his favorite abodes. 
While the greater part of this is too dense for the 
hunter to penetrate with comfort, and too high for 
him to see anything until almost upon it, there are 
many openings which he can thread with ease, 
many points upon which he can sit and look down 
upon the dozens of acres where a pair of horns 
may come surging into sight above the sea of 

228 Deer of tbe Pacific Coast 

verdure, or a curve of glistening hair may rise 
and fall like the dolphin through the wave as the 
deer discovers the hunter's presence. Though 
the greater number will be found in the heavy 
timber which covers most of the range of this deer, 
throughout the southern part of its range it will 
be found from coast to mountain top in this heavy 
brush almost as much as in the timbered portions. 
In the mountains the blacktail roves to the 
highest points on which there is soil enough to 
show his footstep ; and often, where there is not, 
the mark where his sharp feet have scraped upon 
the rock may be seen. But these tracks are made 
mainly at night, and apparently the deer goes there 
out of curiosity. The maker of such tracks is 
hardly ever found there by daylight, nor does he 
leave any bed or other sign of staying long. He 
spends the day far below, where the arctic willow 
nods over the bubbling spring, where the snowy 
columbine gives place to the red one, where the 
tiger-lily flames in the little green meadow and the 
mountain-alder rears its brilliant green. But even 
this is too high for most of them. For, unless 
much persecuted, the majority of deer will be 
found, not where the chinquapin is dwarfed by 
cold to a mere mat along the ground, on the top 
of which one can almost walk, but where the 
sunny tinge of the golden-leaved live-oak warms 
the heavy shades, where the sugar-pine bends its 

The Columbia Blacktail 229 

flattened crown over the tall shaft of the incense- 
cedar that rises red and shaggy from the hillside 
below; and even farther down where the alder 
weaves arcades over the hissing brook in which 
the trout begin to flash, where the call of the 
mountain-quail rings along the tumbling hills, and 
the wings of the dove whistle through the silvery 
sheen of the fir. From there down to the foot- 
hills, and in their shaggy pockets, and so on to 
the very shore of the shining sea, this deer will 
be found wherever there is cover enough to fur- 
nish hiding. 

Before the snow is deep nearly all the deer 
leave the high mountains, and in the Cascades 
most of them start even before the falling of any 
snow that is to be permanent. They wander 
down into the lower and more brushy portions 
of the range, sometimes on well-defined trails, 
but quite as often without any. Here, too, there 
is plenty of snow on the higher hills, and most 
of the deer keep in the lower flats and brushy 
gorges or go on to the Coast Range. Here they 
join a number of their fellows that did not go to 
the mountains, but remained all summer in the 
Coast Range. The principle on which only a 
portion of these deer travel so regularly to the 
high mountains every spring is not known. It is 
plainly not for want of food, for the necessities of 
breeding, to escape gnats, flies, or other such 

230 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

cause ; because the numbers that remain are very 
great, and they fare as well and keep as fat as 
those that go away. In some places, as in south- 
western Oregon, the number remaining is plainly 
greater than those that depart, and the hunting 
is better there than in the Cascades to which the 
others have gone. When they return and unite 
with those that have stayed, their numbers are 
often very great, and on snow it is very easy to 
kill several in a day. It is under such conditions 
that the mighty hunters of Oregon do much of 
their work. It is mainly by loafing along the 
trail during the migration that " Old Bill " So-and- 
so kills three hundred a year. And " Old Pete " 
What-you-call-him goes a hundred or more better 
by following them to the coast, where he used 
often to make his winter camp and slaughter deer 
solely for the skins. As much of the migration 
is during the rutting time, when the bucks are 
more careless than usual, it is an easy matter for 
one with the patience to sit on a log and wait, 
to kill plenty of game by simply knowing the 
lines of migration. And these they often narrow 
up with a brush fence, along which the deer wan- 
der far if undisturbed rather than leap it. Here 
at an opening the butcher is often placed on a 
scaffold ; and the world thinks him a mighty hun- 
ter because he kills so many, a wondrous shot 
because he does it with the old-fashioned Win- 

The Columbia Blacktail 231 

Chester. But in spite of all, plenty of deer are 
still left on these ranges, and will be to the 
end of time. There are too many million acres 
of timber and brush the plough can never invade ; 
and the heavy hand the law has now laid on the 
game butcher, and the market-shooter, and the skin- 
hunter will only tighten its grip as the years come. 
As we go north from the southern part of 
Oregon the" timber becomes more dense with the 
increasing rainfall, and the bushes whose twigs 
the deer loves become more scarce in the sombre 
shades. The deer does not like to go far for 
feed, and likes it tender and succulent, and the 
great ferns which rise out of the gloom and damp- 
ness are not to his taste. The blacktail is there- 
fore growing scarcer. Though still found far in 
the north, it is in limited numbers, and in places 
he disappears almost entirely. Over the greater 
part the timber is becoming such a tangle of 
fallen trees, broken limbs with spots of swampy 
ground, through all which so many big ferns and 
other things that love damp shades struggle up 
higher than your head, that real pleasure is nearly 
out of the question even if game were very abun- 
dant. Feed for your horse is too scarce and too 
hard to carry even where a horse can travel well. 
And a hundred deer might stand within a hun- 
dred yards without your seeing one of them, 
while as many dogs might run them in as many 

232 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

directions without giving you a shot that you 
could make except by chance. The best hunting 
is farther south, where the timber is more open 
and the brush lower. Nothing can surpass that 
part of southwestern Oregon which the blank 
space on the map shows unsurveyed, especially 
on the head waters of the Coquille River and in 
the Rogue River Mountains. It is so rough that 
the hunter almost never goes there, while the 
scarcity of feed in places makes it no trifling 
matter to keep your horses strong enough to take 
you out again. But it is a grand, picturesque 
country, the natural home of the elk as well as 
the deer, abounding in grouse, mountain-quail, 
and trout, and well worth a visit by one who 
wants to see the wild and the new, far beyond the 
orbit of the tenderfoot or his stylish guide. 

Like other deer the blacktail rarely touches 
grass. He loves the tender leaves and twigs of 
the salal, huckleberry, and other shrubs that 
abound on the greater part of his range. So 
numerous are these that he can always get 
enough, and you need never trouble yourself to 
know what he is living on. It will cut very little 
figure in your hunting, and aid you very little in 
tracing a deer's movements as it often does in 
many other countries. In a few places their 
movements might be influenced by acorns in 
season, but for only a short time, if at all. 

The Columbia Blacktail 233 

The same is true of the water. Springs and 
creeks are so common on most of this deer's 
home that its movements are little affected by 
watering, while the browse is so succulent on a 
thousand shrubs that it often goes days or weeks 
without drinking at all. For these, and other 
reasons hereafter noticed, the hunting of the black- 
tail lacks the attraction that the Virginia deer 
affords in many parts of the East, and the mule- 
deer in many parts of southern California. 
There is too much ground on which there is 
nothing to do but rove the woods and shoot 
when you happen to see something. This is 
tame beside working out the whereabouts of your 
game by your knowledge of its habits, and match- 
ing your skill against its wariness from morning 
until night. 

The habits of the blacktail are much the same 
as those of his family in general. Mainly a rover 
of the night, he prefers a good moon, though 
quite able to manage his legs in the deepest 
darkness. During the ten or twelve days when 
the moon is the brightest, you may find plenty of 
fresh tracks in the morning as soon as it is light 
enough to see. But the area you can traverse 
without seeing one of the deer that made them 
is quite as astonishing as it is elsewhere. Hav- 
ing been induced by the moon to be on foot most 
of the night, the game has a full stomach, all the 

234 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

exercise it needs, before daylight, and has wan- 
dered off to some good place to lie down for the 
day. This early lying down often causes more 
early rising in the evening, but as a rule even the 
evening hunting is very unsatisfactory when the 
moon is at or near the full. 

The nature of the ground is generally such 
that it is very difficult to track this deer except 
on snow. To track to advantage without snow 
the ground must be free enough from vegetation 
to enable you to see several yards ahead on the 
trail. For if you have to keep your eyes fixed 
on the ground near by to pick out single tracks, 
your work is far too slow, and you have not the 
range of vision needed to see the game before it 
can see you. This alone calls for all the eyesight 
you have. On ground where the movements of 
deer are quite regular it is not necessary, and 
seldom advisable, to keep on the trail all the time. 
It should often be left in places and a detour 
made to avoid wind or get a better place of obser- 
vation, or a bit of ground where you will make 
less noise. In such case, by your knowledge of 
the deer's habits, you can generally pick up the 
track farther on. But on the home of the black- 
tail the ground is generally so covered with 
grass, herbs, or shrubs that the trail cannot be 
seen at a glance even by the best-trained eye, so 
that tracking without snow is entirely too slow. 

The Columbia Blacktail 235 

Like other deer this child of suspicion so quickly 
learns the difference between the step of a horse 
bearing a man and the step of one without that 
little can be gained by hunting on horseback. 
The knowledge seems almost intuitive ; though, if 
belled cattle are ranging the woods, deer can be 
deceived by a bell on the horse, and also by a bell 
on the man without a horse. But this does not 
last long, and only the first inventors of the trick 
are likely to profit by it. 

The blacktail is also a difficult deer to drive, 
surround, or cut off. Though if left alone he will 
generally take an easy path, like the mule-deer 
he will go anywhere when alarmed, and is quite 
likely to go where you least suspect. For this 
reason there is no use in two or more trying to 
hunt together except in rare cases around some 
point or some brushy basin where one may go 
around to where the deer may come out. The 
surest way is alone and on foot. 

On most of the territory covered by this deer 
there are few places where one can stop at a 
house and go out in the morning or evening 
with much chance of a successful hunt. Farm- 
houses are not scattered through these great 
woods as they once were in so many parts of the 
East. A pack train is generally necessary, for 
there are not many places where good hunting 
can be had even with a wagon. Although you 

236 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

may not be a butcher or care a cent for " heads " 
or "trophies," which generally mean throwing 
away a whole animal, you may still have a pardon- 
able pride in shooting at a little more than you 
can yourself consume. If so, you will probably 
be unable to give the meat away, and find very 
little fun in turning the camp into a butcher 
shop to dry it. I have been in the Coast Range 
of Oregon for three weeks at a time where I could 
see from ten to twenty deer a day in merely rid- 
ing through the woods. There was nothing to 
do but look at them, however, for not a sign of 
man or any of his works was there for many a 
long league. All this is very pleasant, and, for 
those who have had a surfeit of hunting, as good 
as shooting, but it does not satisfy the majority of 

In many other places the timber and brush 
are so dense that, though deer are very plentiful, 
there is nothing to do but wait around some 
opening for a deer to come out. To one who 
loves the chase solely for the opportunity to 
play his wits against the shrewdness of the game, 
this is intolerable. For such the remedy in either 
case is to select big bucks and start them going. 
When the Columbia blacktail starts on his rico- 
chet course through fallen timber or rocks, or 
even on quite open ground, you are in no immi- 
nent danger of being troubled by the question 


The Columbia Blacktail 237 

of what to do with your game. For you will 
find many unsuspected rocks to dash your bullet 
into leaden spray, and many a big log to absorb 
it just about the time the game vanishes in grace- 
ful curve over its top. 

Subject to these limitations, the hunting of the 
blacktail is in many ways the finest now to be 
found. On much of its range, such as the upper 
tiers of the Cascade Range, the grass is so plenty 
you can camp almost anywhere, while the woods 
are generally so open that travel alone is a delight. 
Here are meadows and open glades around which 
in summer you may see many a pair of velvet 
horns rise from the low brush when the sun- 
light begins to gild the tips of the towering 
pine, with plenty of ridges just right for walk- 
ing and commanding a good view of the slopes 
below. Mosquitoes, flies, and other torments are 
almost unknown; cool nights and bright days 
that are none too hot are generally a certainty ; 
and while rain is a possibility, it is quite safe to 
start on a long trip with no tent but the starry 
sky, as in the greater part of California. 

The eyes of the blacktail seem fully as keen 
as those of the Virginia deer, but, like the mule- 
deer, he is not so easily started by noise. This 
is not because his ears are at all inferior. He is 
simply taking chances instead of leaving chances 
well in the rear, as the Virginia deer generally 

238 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

does nowadays. Nor does it prove that quiet 
walking is not important. On account of the 
nature of much of the ground you must make 
considerable noise, or you cannot move fast 
enough. And you will find many a deer that 
must have heard you coming, but does not run 
without waiting to see what you are. These 
deer hear you and are generally calculating on 
outwitting you by hiding. But they often change 
their minds when they find you coming closer, 
and too often they cannot resist the temptation to 
stop a second to see if it is really worth while 
to run at all. After much hunting they learn 
to act on the presumption of danger; but even 
then you occasionally meet a very great fool of a 
deer which will persist in staring at the new 
rifle of the rawest tenderfoot that ever, with 
hobnailed boots, smashed dead sticks it was more 
easy to step over. Meeting such a deer often 
makes the novice think he is a born hunter, but 
if he will keep on a while he will recover from 
the delusion, and begin to wonder what has be- 
come of his keen eye and steady hand. 

One is apt to conclude that noise is of little 
account in hunting; but time will surely show 
that, for every deer he sees when making a noise, 
two or three slip away before he can come within 
sight of them, some in full bound, whose tracks 
he may find when too late, others sneaking quietly 

The Columbia Blacktail 239 

off into the brush, that would have remained in 
the open had they not heard the step of man. 

For much the same reasons many think the 
keenness of a deer's nose overestimated. But 
the more one hunts the more one will be amazed 
at the distance a deer can smell a man on a very 
light breeze, and the quickness with which it will 
run as well as the distance it will go before stop- 
ping ; for when a deer runs from noise it is often 
mere suspicion, he is not sure what the scent is. 
The same is sometimes the case when he runs 
from the sight of a man, though not so often. 
But when one runs from the scent of man it is 
because he knows full well what it is. He stops 
not to farther question, and is so fully satisfied at 
once that you are not likely to catch sight of 
him that day. And this sense is so transmitted 
by descent that the youngest fawn to leave its 
mother will run from the distant scent of man 
without stopping to look back until well out of 
sight. This seems in many cases almost absurd, 
and especially where the air is so deadened by 
heavy timber that there is no apparent motion 
in it. But the exceptions are caused by cross 
currents that carry the scent away, and not by any 
lack of keenness in the nose of the deer, or by 
any lack of fear when the first particle of scent 
strikes it. In this respect the blacktail is as hard 
to circumvent as any of his family. 

240 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

Like other deer, this one is very stupid about 
making out the figure of a man at perfect rest, 
but amazingly quick to detect his slightest mo- 
tion and know what it imports. There is no way 
of avoiding this, and between deer and hunter 
the advantage lies with the one at rest when 
the other comes in sight. Not much can be 
gained by wearing clothes of any special color. 
Dull brown or gray are less striking colors than 
others, though turkey-red or something no fool 
can mistake for a deer are nowadays more desir- 
able. In timber, even with plenty of snow, deer 
can see you so plainly when moving across the 
trunks of trees that there is no perceptible advan- 
tage in white clothes. 

The most difficult trick of the blacktail to cir- 
cumvent is his hiding or skulking in brush, and 
letting you pass very close to him, well knowing 
you do not see him. All deer seem to learn that 
in very dense cover this is generally safer than 
running. I have had the Virginia deer lie still 
in the long slough grass of the prairie and in the 
reeds of river bottoms until I was within a few 
feet. But the deer of the Pacific coast escape in 
this way more than deer elsewhere, especially in 
the heavy chaparral which robes in eternal green 
so much of the southern part of the range of the 
blacktail. Nor does he require such dense cover 
for this purpose as one would imagine from expe- 

The Columbia Blacktail 241 

rience with the Virginia deer. In a little valley 
of a few acres in the wildest part of the Coast 
Range of Oregon we camped at noon, and two of 
our party went out to shoot some mountain-quail 
which were running about in all directions in 
great numbers. One had a shotgun and the 
other a twenty-two rifle, with which they fired 
fully thirty shots, besides making a great amount 
of noise. For an hour before that our party of 
four had been making the usual noise incidental 
to stopping to camp and get dinner. After din- 
ner I set out for the woods with my rifle, passing 
within twenty feet of a clump of brush some fifty 
feet in diameter. The brush was thin and stood 
alone well out in the valley, the rest of which was 
covered with grass. My two companions had 
been shooting all around it. After I was well 
past it, a large doe bounded out of it in full sight 
of all of us, and vanished like an arrow in the 
dense timber on the side. As we were many a 
league beyond the last sign of man, fresh or old, 
it was not likely that that deer had ever known 
much of the ways of man. 

A " slow-tracking " dog, or bird dog trained to 
point deer the same as birds, is the only thing 
you can rely on in still-hunting to find a skulking 
deer. For if the ground is such that you can 
follow the trail yourself, they will often sneak 
quietly around, if the brush is large enough in 

242 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

extent, or slip out of a small patch with head down 
and noiseless trot, where it may take you too long 
to untangle the network of tracks so that you can 
be sure to find the track on which it slipped away. 
Such a dog is hard to get in training, and harder 
still to keep on account of the great temptation 
to let him chase a crippled deer some day when 
you want venison. Very few dogs can be in- 
dulged in that amusement without becoming 
speedily convinced that you know nothing of 
hunting, that you are entirely too slow, and that 
the game is sure to escape your antiquated 
methods. Especially is this the case on ground 
where it is expedient to leave the trail for a short 
cut, or for some better point of view, or to avoid 
wind, and pick it up farther on. The temptation 
for the dog to show you he knows better is very 
great, and if he has the wind of the deer, he is 
very apt to slip away and find the game at his 
best pace. Still more apt is he to break away 
after the first shot, especially if the deer is wounded 
or is in plain sight upon an opposite hillside. 

Nothing sets a dog more crazy than catching a 
crippled deer. By allowing this just once in each 
case I ruined three of the best dogs I ever had 
one a Laverack setter, one a hound, and one a 
Scotch terrier, all trained to point deer and all 
docile and obedient in all respects until I yielded 
to the temptation to let them chase a cripple that 

The Columbia Blacktail 243 

was a little too fast for me. Before that they 
would point as well as any dogs on birds ; the 
setter just as if on birds, but with nose far higher, 
the hound by sitting up on his haunches and 
looking around at me and tossing his nose high 
in air, the terrier by rising much of the time on 
his hind legs and sniffing high in air. The first 
two I could trust a hundred yards ahead with per- 
fect safety. The terrier I kept mostly at heel, 
but in another year he would have been as safe 
to trust ahead as the others. 

The bird dog seems best adapted for this pur- 
pose because more likely to take the wind rather 
than the foot-scent. But the work of " a slow- 
track dog " is quite as effective in most cases and 
just as interesting. He is generally some old 
hound or combination of hound and mongrel that 
smells his way across bushes, grass, and weeds, 
even of the dryest, in a manner quite marvellous. 
The way he can smell the touch of a deer's leg 
against a single spear of grass when the track 
shows you that the deer passed hours before, is as 
interesting as any of the sights of the field. With 
such dogs you can enjoy hunting almost as well 
without the rifle as with one. No training seems 
required except to let the dog know what you 
want by ignoring all other game and keeping 
him absolutely at heel until he has outgrown the 
temptation to chase anything. 

244 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

In the sense in which success is understood 
in most parts of the East, driving this deer with 
hounds can hardly be called such on the greater 
part of its range, while on much it is quite sure 
to be a failure. There are places, like The Lake 
of the Woods or Diamond Lake, where it could 
no doubt be driven to water. But still-hunting 
is there so much better, it would be foolish to 
take dogs so far. In parts of northern California 
dogs are often used to drive deer out of heavy 
brush. If this is in a basin surrounded by ridges 
on which men can be posted so as to have a fair 
view of the proceedings, this will do veiy well. 
But on the greater part of the Pacific coast, deer 
have no regular runways as in many parts of the 
East. Though they prefer open places when not 
in haste, when they are in haste they go any- 
where. In dodging into unsuspected ravines, 
twisting around big rocks, and dashing over big 
logs, the blacktail is equalled only by the mule- 
deer. In heavy brush and rocks the mule-deer 
can far surpass him, but on most ground the 
blacktail is as much ahead of the Virginia deer 
in this respect as the latter is in flirting his snowy 
tail over some distant ridge at the first crackling 
of a dry twig under the hunter's foot. 

On the southern part of its range hounding the 
blacktail becomes even more difficult in many 
places on account of the scarcity of water. When 


The Columbia Blacktail 245 

the air is hot and very dry, the dog's scent is soon 
impaired by running, especially in rough or brushy 
ground. He does not pass water often enough to 
drink, and has few or no wet weeds or grasses to 
run through to wet his coat. Hence still-hunting 
is in most cases the more satisfactory way of 

As is usual in all still-hunting, the greater num- 
ber of deer are lost by the inability of the hunter 
to see them before they can see him. On the 
enormous background on which most of the black- 
tail must be detected by the eye this is even more 
difficult than in most of the woods of the East. 
Almost everywhere in heavy timber it takes the 
finest of eyesight to see a deer before he is descend- 
ing over some distant log or wheeling around the 
upturned butt of some great fallen tree gone 
just as you raise the rifle and often before. The 
deer with individual hairs glistening on its back, 
with dew claws and even the split in the hoofs 
all in plain sight, exists only in the mind of the 
artist of pavement education. No such animal is 
seen in nature. Nor does the deer in the woods 
correspond much better to the picture you have 
formed in your mind from seeing a deer in a park 
or stuffed in a museum. Generally you see none 
of the legs, and unless the game is in motion rarely 
see more than half of the body. But at the time 
you most want to catch sight of it before it can 

246 Deer of tbe Pacific Coast 

see you a deer more often has its head down 
like that of an old cow, or stuck in a bush feed- 
ing, or out of sight around some log from which 
the shoulder or other part of the body can hardly 
be distinguished. Except when he raises his 
head, once in a while, to look around for danger, 
the most shapely old buck has none of the grace- 
ful form of the artist's deer, 'but is more often a 
mere spot or patch of brown, gray, or even nearly 
black, with some white occasionally showing. 
The consequence is that it takes long training of 
the eye to see such an animal quickly enough to 
get a standing shot, if it is at rest, while to see 
one lying down is only a rare accident in the 
woods. And even from the very best eyes the 
majority of deer escape because they are so very 
quick to detect the slightest motion of the hunter, 
who has to keep moving in order to cover enough 

All these difficulties are increased on most of 
the ground that forms the home of the blacktail. 
A deer always looks small enough over the sights of 
the rifle, but among the great redwoods, Port Orford 
cedars, sugar-pines, and firs of this coast the black- 
tail often looks more like a rabbit. For this reason 
there are vast areas on which true still-hunting 
is about impossible. Fire-hunting could rarely 
be a success, for lakes are not abundant on most 
of the range, while nearly all the streams are too 

The Columbia Blacktail 247 

swift and turbulent for floating. And it is also 
quite certain that the deer of this coast does not 
have the love for water at night the Virginia deer 
shows on most of its range. 

Very little can be done by making a salt lick 
or using a natural one. On much of this coast 
deer will not lick salt at all, while on other parts 
they do it very sparingly. Such hunting is too 
slow for the market-shooter and too tame for the 
sportsman. But there is still enough open and 
beautiful territory to make the hunting of this 
deer one of the most charming amusements the 
land beyond the pave can offer. And there is no 
more stirring target for the rifle than this trim 
little creature leaping the fallen trunks of the 
great trees that shade its home. Nature presents 
no fairer sight than the Virginia deer leaping the 
logs that lie piled here and there in ruinous con- 
fusion in the windfall. But that deer runs like a 
horse, and the logs are small compared with those 
in the home of the blacktail. The blacktail is a 
bouncing deer all four feet striking the ground 
together, and throwing the animal much higher at 
each stroke than it would rise in a canter. Hence 
its course is often the wildest ricochet ; and, though 
it waves aloft no snowy flag as if in mockery of 
your hopes, the elevation of the head is greater, 
while you can easily imagine the big bright eyes 
watching at the top of the spring your vain efforts 

248 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

to connect with the delusive curve. For one who 
loves the rifle as much for what cannot be done 
with it as for what can, there is no finer target 
than this. When on the ground it is out of sight, 
and so quick is its twist from side to side that 
you have no idea where it will again appear above 
the logs. Nor will it avail you much if you do, 
for by the time the fur comes into sight at the top 
of the next lofty curve you have no more than 
time enough for a snap shot. And should you 
succeed in getting the sights on the exact centre 
when you fire, the mark is certain to be above or 
below that point by the time the lead arrives. 
Try to avoid this by aiming lower, and the bullet 
may send the bark flying under the deer's legs 
with a whiz that switches him on a tangent, and 
disarranges all the feeble calculations you have so 
far been able to make. 

If you aim higher as the deer is rising, you then 
tempt another danger, always too great over- 
shooting. There is no royal road out of the diffi- 
culty, and even when you hit one in the head or 
back of the neck, although it is quite certain you 
did not aim there, your pride is quite pardonable, 
and you will love the windfall only the more. It 
is just possible, too, that you may be mistaken 
about the importance of hitting something all the 
time. It took me eleven days where deer were 
very plenty, thirty-five years ago, just to get sight 

The Columbia Blacktail 249 

of the first deer. It was more than eleven more 
before I was able to hit one. Yet I never enjoyed 
anything so much as the consciousness that the 
game was all around me and that only my own 
stupidity was at fault. 

At first the tyro wants a deer and cares very 
little how he gets it. Well, there are everywhere 
plenty of open places, until you get far into the 
North, where the openings are too barren or defi- 
cient in such shrubs as the deer loves. But every- 
where on the southern half of the playground of 
this deer there are grand open ridges only partly 
covered with timber, having long avenues down 
which you can see clearly for many a rod. So 
there are sunny slopes on which deer stand to 
catch the morning sun before going off to lie 
down for the day, and big shady flats where on a 
hot morning they may stay as long in the shade 
before going to rest. Then there are plenty of 
sharp ridges ending in points over which the 
chinquapin waves, with the grand madrono and 
the laurel, but with plenty of open spots on which 
the deer will often stop to survey the landscape 
as he comes up from below, and where, in cool 
weather, he prefers to lie in the sun rather than 
in the depths of the timber. 

As a rule it will rarely pay you to look for this 
deer in bed. In this respect he is the worst of 
his tribe. Unless you have snow to track on, or 

250 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

bare ground where a track shows several yards 
ahead so that to the practised eye the trail appears 
to stand up out of the ground, it is rarely worth 
while to look for one in bed. To see them is 
next to impossible on most ground, while jumping 
one out of bed in such a way as to get a shot is 
almost as uncertain, and pays only when you have 
nothing to do but tramp. Especially is this the 
case with the blacktail. It has a greater variety 
of places for lying down than any other deer, and 
they are scattered over a much larger area. In 
the greater part of the woods it may lie down 
anywhere, and even in the open country there is 
still so much brush into which it is quite apt to 
go, that you had better confine your hunting to 
morning and evening. 

And you need not expect much success early 
in the summer. For the blacktail has everywhere 
the same period of seclusion that other deer have, 
especially on this coast. In May and June and 
the early part of July they move very little, and 
that generally by night. Not having to go to 
water to escape flies or mosquitoes, or for drink 
while the young leaves are tender and juicy, they 
remain most of the time quiet in the deep thickets, 
rocky glens, and rugged gulches or windfalls, 
where you may generally make all the noise you 
wish without making one even run in such a way 
that you can see him. Even tracks may be so 

The Columbia Blacktail 251 

scarce that you may think they have all left the 

But toward August deer begin to move about 
more, until it sometimes seems as if there must 
have been a migration from some distant point. 
The fawns are now large enough to take care of 
themselves, and though they may stay with the 
mother, she does not hesitate to leave them and 
they are equally indifferent about losing her, both 
well knowing that it is an easy matter to come 
together again. The rutting time is also begin- 
ning along the coast and in the midland ranges, 
though it is later in the mountains. Consequently 
the bucks begin to move over a larger area, stay 
on foot much longer in the morning, and rise much 
earlier in the evening. Deer now seem to love 
open ground as much as they before avoided it. 
Far away your eye may catch one by the sheen 
of the sun on his lengthening hair, or, if in shade, 
you may see him equally well by the dark spot 
his autumn coat makes against the ground. It 
takes keen eyes to do even this, and still keener 
to detect one in brush by the faint movement it 
may make in feeding, or when it shows only one 
ear, round as a lobe of prickly pear and very much 
like it, or when there is but a bit of rump with the 
little black tail projecting from a bush. 

The action of the bucks during the rutting time 
is much like that of the other deer. The does 

252 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

act about the same as at any other time of year, 
but the bucks become more careless when on foot, 
travelling faster and farther, feeding less, and 
remaining on foot even during the whole of the 
day at times. During this time you may often 
see them on foot in the middle of the day, though 
they have probably lain down and risen again, 
unless on trail of a doe. In the latter case they 
are quite careless and fall an easy victim to one 
who happens in the way and can keep cool. Some- 
times several are on the same trail, and the sound 
of the rifle that brings the first to the ground has 
little or no effect on the others if they do not see 
the hunter move. But unless a buck is on his 
travels, he is apt to be as wary at this time of year 
as at any other, as when he is feeding, or has gone 
off to lie down for the day. It is not safe to be 
careless in any respect even at the height of the 
rutting season, or " running time " as it is gener- 
ally called. 

Like other deer the blacktail watches its back 
track after being started, but I never could see 
that they watched it before being started. Even 
in lands as wild as Minnesota and Wisconsin 
were thirty-five years ago I soon discovered that 
the Virginia deer knew enough to watch its back 
track before being alarmed, and in places prac- 
tised it so well that it could be tracked success- 
fully only by half circles, keeping on the side out 

The Columbia Blacktail 253 

of sight of the trail and swinging in only often 
enough to be sure I was on it. The blacktail 
often lies down on points that command a view 
of the back track as well as a much larger area, 
but I cannot discover that it is done purposely, 
and on all its range it is probably safe enough to 
keep on the track, where you can follow it at all. 

The blacktail is a smaller and more graceful 
animal than the mule-deer, bearing much the 
same relation to it that a thoroughbred Jersey 
bears to a Durham. But this is only when you 
compare the two side by side in a park. In the 
woods none but the expert can note the differ- 
ence, and it will puzzle him if the deer is run- 
ning. Though its ears are larger than those 
of the Virginia deer, being nearly seven inches 
long by six wide on a big buck, or nearly an 
inch larger each way than the ear of the Vir- 
ginia, it is in other respects even finer-limbed 
and neater-looking. Its forehead is broader, 
and its nose a trifle sharper, with the intervening 
bridge narrower, making a more expressive face, 
which is still farther beautified by large bright 
eyes, that outshine those of the other deer. 

This one varies greatly in size and form, 
scarcely any two individuals being alike. All 
that I have seen average decidedly smaller than 
the eastern deer that I have known. I never 
weighed one or got figures from any one that 

254 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

are reliable. But I am certain that very few 
of the bucks will weigh over one hundred and 
twenty pounds, dressed. Does are not likely to 
run over eighty or ninety at best. The length 
of a good buck from tip of nose to root of tail 
as he stands is about five feet three inches, with 
a girth of three feet at the shoulder. Its height 
at the brisket is about eighteen inches, or about 
the same as the shank of the hind leg. More 
will fall short of these figures than come up to 
them, though some are longer legged, and some 
longer or deeper bodied than others. The red 
or bay coat of early summer has a richer tinge 
than on the Virginia deer, and more of this 
remains visible in the gray coat of winter than 
on the other. In other respects the coat is much 
the same. 

Always bad enough as an index of age in any 
deer, the antlers of the blacktail are still worse. 
They are generally delicate and well propor- 
tioned, but most of them are merely forked 
horns, presenting few points compared with the 
age of the buck. A good pair will be twenty- 
two or three inches long, with a spread of two 
feet or even more, though it is often less. What 
in the East would be called a very fine head is 
rare among these deer. 

A careless eye would note little difference 
between the tail of the blacktail and that of 

Tbe Columbia Blacktail 255 

the mule-deer. But it is considerable. Both 
are of about the same length, rarely over seven 
inches, and in marked contrast with that of the 
Virginia deer. But the tail of the blacktail is 
nearly uniform in size from base down, except 
at the tip, which comes to a sudden point with 
a slight upward curve. It is quite black on 
top, and about halfway down this shade spreads 
around to the sides, shading into brown, and 
that into white on the under side. This white 
is wider at the root, narrowing to the tip, which 
is nearly all black except for a few brownish- 
white hairs. The tail is round and quite even 
in circumference as compared with other deer 
tails. It is carried a little higher than the tail 
of the mule-deer, though this cannot be noticed 
unless the animals are at rest. There is little 
or no elevation of the tail in running, and when 
the blacktail is under full headway one would 
hardly suspect it had a tail. 

The feet are so nearly of the same size and 
shape as those of other deer that one cannot 
tell the difference in the track. And its general 
habit of straggling here and there, crossing and 
recrossing its trail as it gets near the time for 
lying down, is so like the movement of the mule- 
deer, that when one is on the border line of the 
ranges of the two it is impossible to tell by the 
track which one made it. 

256 Deer of the Pacific Coast 

Though these two range together over a con- 
siderable space near the centre of California, and 
the rutting time is there about the same for each, 
I can find no evidence of the two intermingling. 
It is possible that they do, for one must be some- 
thing of an expert to detect a hybrid. The ordi- 
nary hunter is too intent on meat, hides, or heads, 
to notice such trifles as the tail. Without this 
one could be easily deceived. But it is probable 
that they do not mix, for careful examination 
shows them essentially different deer. 

NOTE. Much that has been said of the hunting of the blacktail 
applies as well to the mule-deer, while much of the article on the 
mule-deer applies as well to the blacktail. To repeat the same 
under each would be tiresome to the reader, and unnecessary for 
those who already know enough of deer to be interested in these 
two varieties. 




AMONG the larger members of the deer tribe 
inhabiting North America the caribou may fairly 
claim a place. Less imposing in appearance than 
the gigantic moose or majestic elk or wapiti, 
and, when undisturbed and removed from danger 
possessing a careless, indeed a slouchy carriage, 
yet this deer, with his often splendid antlers, 
palmated and many-pointed, his hairy muzzle, 
peculiar among the deer tribe, and deeply cleft 
hoofs, and his compact, sturdy frame, is one of 
the really notable wild denizens of our northern 
forests and wind-swept arctic plains. His range 
in North America, under various names, is as 
wide as the continent itself, and extends from 
the northern borders of the United States to the 
Arctic Sea, the Barren-Ground animal not often 
passing south of 59 N. lat. although in 1856 
they migrated to latitude 47 in great numbers 
to Lake Huron. The Woodland do not go north 
of 60, and probably only a comparative few reach 
that latitude. 

Caribou are divided into two classes, the Wood- 
land, embracing those which are habitually dwell- 


260 The Caribou 

ers of the forests, rarely venturing any distance 
from the shelter of the woods ; and the Barren- 
Ground, or those inhabiting the vast tundras of 
Arctic America, which regularly migrate from the 
forest to the open plains, and seek the depths of 
the woods only as a refuge from the fierce storms 
of winter. When moving slowly along, nipping 
a tender branch from a wayside bush or seizing 
a mouthful of moss from the wet " savanne," the 
caribou, with low-hanging head, apparently over- 
weighted by the great antlers, the hoofs clicking 
as with lazy effort they are successively drawn 
from the reluctantly yielding ooze of the marsh, 
presents anything but an attractive appearance. 
Yet look at the same individual when the tainted 
air brings to his sensitive nostrils the scent of a 
dangerous adversary; how changed he suddenly 
becomes ! The listless, careless pose gives place 
to one animated and full of spirited attention ; the 
head is lifted and carried proudly aloft, crowned 
by its noble weapons of offence and defence ; 
the ears, from their drooping attitude, the tips 
directed backward, are thrown forward and seem 
to quiver with excitement as in quick movement 
they seek to locate the avenue of the enemy's 
approach ; the legs are rigid, each muscle drawn 
and tense, ready to respond to the first call for 
supreme exertion. And then the foe appearing, 
how grand and animated is the animal's move- 


The Caribou 261 

ment as, in a stately trot, with head and tail 
uplifted, the clicking hoofs, like castanets, beating 
time to the swift action of the limbs, the proud 
deer passes rapidly from view over the yielding 
moss of the treacherous swamp. The Woodland 
caribou is a shy, suspicious animal in those locali- 
ties where he has had the opportunity of making 
the acquaintance of his great enemy, man, and 
when frightened and fully satisfied that danger 
is near, he will never cease travelling until he 
has placed a great distance between himself and 
the cause of his fears. Restless in the extreme, 
they are ever roving the forest, and travel many 
miles every day and night. 

In order to consider the habits of the caribou, 
it will be necessary to divide them into their two 
classes, the Woodland and the Barren-Ground, 
and take each separately. While numerous spe- 
cies and races have been made of these, by those 
who believe that the infinite variations of nature 
must be followed by an infinity of names, yet for 
the purpose of recounting the caribou's mode of 
life all these deer, irrespective of their habitat, are 
practically one species, for their ways differ only in 
degree. The Woodland, which we will first con- 
sider, as their name implies, are mainly dwellers 
of forest lands, and are usually found in the 
swamps, where the trees are few, though their 
margins are bordered by the dense woods. In 

262 The Caribou 

such places they find in abundance the moss 
which forms their chief subsistence, and also in 
the proper season the buds of various shrubs of 
which they are very fond. 

In the spring the Woodland caribou seek the 
sides of the mountains, and in summer are usually 
found near their summits, hiding during the day 
in dense thickets, coming out at night to wander 
about their chosen locality. At this season the 
horns are tender and in the velvet, and the animals 
do not roam about much, food being usually plenti- 
ful on every side. Should there be a lake in their 
vicinity, which is indeed usually the case, its banks, 
that are generally muddy, will be found each morn- 
ing covered with the fresh tracks of the deer that 
have wandered around it during the night. The 
woods also that are much frequented by caribou 
have many well-beaten paths ramifying in all di- 
rections through them, made by these animals in 
their marches from place to place ; and to follow 
one of these is not only to find, often, the only 
method of traversing the forests, but the shortest 
way of reaching some desired spot, for the deer 
seem to prefer a direct route between two points. 
The female caribou, which also carries antlers 
much smaller and weaker than those of the male, 
brings forth her young in the spring usually one 
only, but occasionally two are produced minia- 
ture representatives of the adult animal. In the 

The Caribou 263 

autumn short migrations northward are made, and 
the higher parts of the mountains are deserted 
for the valleys where food can be more readily 
obtained. The summer coat is a dark gray or 
mouse color, with a white caudal patch and white 
under parts. The depth and shade of the darker 
hues varies greatly even among individuals from 
the same locality, and the size of the caudal patch 
is rarely the same in any two individuals. In 
winter the neck becomes nearly pure white and 
the body is often of a very light hue. The ant- 
lers vary to a degree that is absolutely without 
limit both as to size and shape, and not only do 
those of different individuals vary, but the two 
beams with their tines exhibited by any deer differ 
from each other, and the yearly antlers of the 
same caribou rarely have any resemblance one 
with the other. 

The methods of hunting the Woodland caribou 
are few and simple. In September, after the vel- 
vet has been rubbed away, the law generally per- 
mits these animals to be killed. At this time, 
the rutting season is beginning, and the bulls are 
getting restless and commence to travel the woods 
seeking the cows, and their hoarse call, something 
between a grunt and a bark, can often be heard 
in the early mornings, occasionally even during 
the day. There is no snow upon the ground, 
and tracking would be fruitless, for although the 

264 The Caribou 

imprint of this deer's hoof in the soft ground 
is large and readily seen, yet the impossibility of 
moving through the swamps and bushes without 
noise would make such a method of pursuit of 
little avail, as the deer, learning of his foe's pres- 
ence, would betake himself to distant pastures 
long before a shot were possible, or even a sight 
of himself obtained, for, it must be understood, 
the Woodland caribou, unlike his rather stupid 
brother of the plains, is a wide-awake and suspi- 
cious animal. Still-hunting, therefore, and that 
of the " stillest " kind, and one not at all usually 
conceived by the term, is the only one promising 

This method of still-hunting consists of taking 
a position in a swamp, or " savanne " as it is usually 
called, and waiting for the appearance of the deer 
as it passes by, either in search of food or of other 
individuals of its species. These swamps are 
usually surrounded by thick woods, and occasion- 
ally are of very considerable extent, carpeted with 
moss sometimes two feet or more in depth and 
saturated with water, and the dreary view is 
broken at intervals by clumps of bushes or small 
trees scattered here and there at irregular inter- 
vals. Upon some fallen log or stump, or bit of 
moss slightly drier than the rest and partly hid- 
den from view by surrounding bushes, growing 
or artificially placed, the hunter seats himself and 

The Caribou 265 

prepares for a long vigil, perhaps lasting the en- 
tire day. Oh, the weariness of it ! Afraid hardly 
to move, every sense alert and on the strain, listen- 
ing for the unmistakable " squash " of the deer's 
hoof as it is drawn from mud and water, fearing 
to smoke lest the telltale perfume announces one's 
presence to the watchful game, and mosquitoes 
and black flies having a merry and never end- 
ing banquet from every exposed portion of the 
hunter's person unless thickly covered by some 
anti-poison abomination, pursuit (if it can be 
called) of this deer at such times and in such 
places cannot be considered either a pleasure or 
within the true meaning of sportsmanship. If 
the caribou should wander that way, and the 
chances are ten to one it will not, a point-blank 
shot at a few paces is afforded, requiring about as 
much skill to bring down the quarry as it would 
to shoot a cow in a barnyard. 

Frequently, too, even although it may be as late 
as the middle of October, so irregular are these 
deer in shedding the velvet from their horns, that 
after enduring the torments of foes in the air with 
their varied means of torture and those arising 
from stiffened muscles and cold winds, the hunter 
may only be rewarded by an animal carrying the 
coveted antlers not yet come to their matured 
perfection. But even then few complain, for the 
vast majority of these " hunts " draw a blank, the 

266 The Caribou 

chances being so very few of the deer in those 
vast marshes coming where the sportsman has 
located himself, and if it does draw near, the 
hunter's presence is likely to be detected in time 
for the animal to make its escape. 

Another method, and one that savors much 
more of true sportsmanship, is stalking. In many 
parts of eastern North America, vast tracts of 
treeless land, covered with rocks and moss, are 
found within forest districts, called " barrens." 
To these the caribou resort, sometimes in herds 
of hundreds of individuals, while in the forest only 
a comparatively few animals are found together. 
The hunter from some point of vantage sweeps 
the ground before him with a powerful glass, and 
when some fine " head " is discovered, methods 
for getting within shot of the animal, possibly a 
mile away, are considered and a plan of approach 
determined upon. Then follows an exhibition of 
a hunter's skill and sagacity against the natural 
attributes of the deer, whose powers of scent and 
sight, with those of its companions, are to battle 
with man's experience and fertility of resource. 
As the stalk proceeds every rock and inequality 
of the ground is seized upon as a point of vantage, 
every breath of air considered lest an unwelcome 
scent be carried to the trembling nostrils ever 
ready to detect its presence. As the distance 
between pursuer and pursued lessens, redoubled 

Tbe Caribou 267 

care and vigilance is exercised, and the halts of 
the hunter become more numerous and of longer 
duration. In the meanwhile the object of all this 
solicitude and strenuous endeavor is either quietly 
chewing the cud as he rests in his grassy bed, 
scanning at times the landscape before him, or 
seizing mouthfuls of moss as he slowly moves 
among the cows, upon whose more watchful 
guardianship he relies when in their company. 
But the breeze brings no hostile odor, and quiet 
reigns, disturbed only by some wild bird's cry as 
it flies over the barren. And now the supreme 
moment has arrived, the last crouching move- 
ment has been successfully made, the desired 
spot from which a sure shot could be directed 
has been reached, and the deer, unconscious of 
danger, stands proudly erect, gazing over the land 
he knows so well, at the mercy of his greatest 
enemy. A rising, fleeting vapor above a near- 
lying rock, a sharp crack hardly disturbing the 
silence of the wide barren, and the lordly bull 
falls headlong to the ground, while the cows, 
startled, trot rapidly away for a short distance and 
then turn and stop, to learn the cause of their 

One other way of capturing caribou is attempted, 
and of all those adopted is probably the most 
successful. This is following the animal on snow- 
shoes. Caribou are very swift, their gaits being 

268 The Caribou 

the walk, trot, and gallop. The one most usual to 
them is the trot, and the spreading of their great 
hoofs, which are split apart nearly to the hock, 
renders them able to carry the animal over snow 
or soft ground much in the manner that a snow- 
shoe does a man. In the winter the frog of the 
caribou's hoof becomes entirely absorbed, leaving 
the interior a concave shape, the edges all around 
become of almost razor sharpness, giving the 
animal a firm hold on the ice or hardened crust, 
preventing it from slipping. Captain Campbell 
Hardy, a British army officer who knew as much 
about caribou and their ways as any man of his 
time, mentions as a fact, in his " Forest Life in 
Acadie," that these animals crossed from New- 
foundland to the mainland in winter on the ice, 
and that Nova Scotia animals have been killed 
measuring four feet six inches at the withers, thus 
equalling in height the most extreme dimensions 
of any Newfoundland specimens of which I have 
any knowledge. On the ice the pursuit of cari- 
bou is vain, for it can travel much faster on the 
slippery surface than any other creature, and if it 
suddenly sees a new danger ahead it has the habit 
of squatting on its haunches, and in this ludicrous 
attitude slides along until the impetus of its pace 
has been exhausted, and then rises and shoots off 
in another direction. In the snow its tracks are 
clearly seen and easily followed. When first en- 

Tbe Caribou 269 

countered the hunter endeavors to determine the 
route the animal has taken and then studies the 
direction of the wind to ascertain if it is favorable 
for the pursuit, that is, blowing from the animal 
toward him. If not, before following his quarry, 
the sportsman makes a detour so that no scent 
may be carried to the deer, which may be slowly 
walking along, or resting in some thicket. As 
the hunter proceeds, eagerly regarding the prints 
in the snow, the chances are that the deer, one or 
more as the case may be, will suddenly dash out 
from some near thicket and disappear before him 
in a perfect cloud of snow thrown up by their 
broad hoofs. Then the chase commences, to be 
decided by sheer endurance or possibly a lucky 
chance shot at a moment when the caribou may 
stop and turn to have a look at their enemy. 

Unlike other deer, caribou have no difficulty in 
travelling over light snow, only sinking into the 
drifts to a moderate depth; and their first endeavor 
is to reach the frozen surface of some lake or 
stream, for it is useless to follow this animal upon 
the ice, as on its slippery expanse it can easily 
outstrip all its pursuers. Failing this refuge, it 
plunges on through forest and swamp and barren, 
and he who hopes to overtake and secure this 
deer over a snow-mantled land must have muscles 
of steel and expansive lungs. Instances are known 
when it has taken several days of constant going 

270 The Caribou 

on snow-shoes before the band that was being 
pursued was finally overtaken. When hard 
pressed, and their efforts to baffle their pursuers, 
in woods or swamps or tangled thickets, have 
proved unavailing, caribou will take to the moun- 
tains and seek their summits, thus adding greatly 
to the toil and exposure of the hunt. In New- 
foundland in certain localities this deer is fre- 
quently killed in the water, being pursued in boats 
when crossing lakes, for it is a famous swimmer 
and does not hesitate to cross a wide expanse of 
lake or stream. 

This method of hunting will probably by some 
be considered as not altogether savoring of true 
sportsmanship. 1 But, my critical friend, have you 
ever tried to follow a Woodland caribou in win- 
ter through the forests and barrens, mountains, 
swamps, and valleys ? It is man's endurance pitted 
against that of the deer, reinforced on the latter's 
side by its native wariness and ability to baffle 
pursuit, while the snow-shoe is but little superior 
to the broad hoofs of the deer in passing over or 
through snow, and on the ice the hunter is hope- 
lessly outclassed. Many unfortunates have re- 
turned to camp weary and worn from a long and 

1 It is emphatically unsportsmanlike to follow caribou or any other 
of the deer family on snow which requires snow-shoes. On a light 
tracking snow it is fair and good sport, but when the animal sinks 
to its hocks it is a cruel game and excusable only when meat is 
needed. EDITOR. 

Tbe Caribou 271 

fruitless chase at such seasons after this caribou, 
wiser and sadder men. 

In Newfoundland great herds of caribou have 
roamed for a longer period than the mind of man 
can fathom; and from their heavy antlers and 
some other slight characters these animals have 
been characterized as a distinct species. Migrat- 
ing regularly to the southward in the autumn 
and northward in the spring, favorable oppor- 
tunities were given to hunters to watch for them 
on their usual routes and kill as many as they 
pleased, for they are gentle animals in that island 
and permit one to approach closely before mak- 
ing an effort to escape. But this misplaced 
confidence in the deer's greatest enemy was fear- 
fully abused, and a single butcher (no other term 
will properly designate the creature), as I have 
been informed, killed as many as forty to fifty deer 
in a single foray, leaving most of the carcasses to 
rot upon the ground. Then the legislature in- 
tervened and passed a law compelling all non- 
residents of the island to pay a large sum for a 
permit to shoot deer, and limiting the number of 
animals that could be killed. Prospects for the 
caribou looked brighter, and for some years only 
a fairly reasonable number were killed annually, 
the limitation in the number that could be shot 
having cooled the ardor of those whose chief 
delight was in the shedding of blood and piling 

272 Tbe Caribou 

up the bodies of the slain for the scavengers of 
the forests, more humane than the butchers, to 
clear away. But a few years ago progress in the 
shape of a railroad appeared, and the iron tracks 
crossed the island from St. Johns to Port aux 
Basques, thus traversing some of the best caribou 
grounds. The result was a natural one, not only 
could distant localities be easily reached, but 
hunters of high and low degree every year 
scatter themselves in the vicinity of the track 
across the island, and any luckless deer that at- 
tempts to pass the line encounters a fusillade of 
bullets from hidden riflemen. What chance have 
the deer under such circumstances to escape death? 
Only one, and that doubtless will occur to them 
before they are exterminated : restrict their south- 
ern migration to above the danger line, and find 
peace and safety in the fastnesses of the north. 
In their northward migrations in the Arctic 
regions the Woodland caribou often travel in 
immense herds, equalling in former times at least 
those witnessed to-day of the Barren-Ground cari- 
bou in certain parts of its dispersion. Over the 
eastern side of the continent they pass north in 
May and return again in July, and from November 
to April, it is stated, they are rarely to be found 
within ninety or one hundred miles of the coast. 
They are easily killed when on these journeys, 
and Richardson states that eighty carcasses were 

Tbe Caribou 273 

brought into York Factory in one day and many 
others were refused because they had no salt to 
preserve them, but the Indians kept on slaying the 
animals for the skins long after they had ceased 
to care for the flesh. And this was in the days of 
bows and arrows and spears, before the advent of 
the magazine gun and long-range rifle. Weights 
of individuals of the deer tribe, unless the animal 
is placed upon the scales, are at best but guesses, 
and in the absence of any authenticated figures 
it may be said that a bull Woodland caribou from 
the Canadian forests in prime condition may weigh 
as much as five hundred pounds, but of course 
the average weight will be much less, and probably 
nearer three hundred to three hundred and fifty. 

The Barren-Ground caribou is a smaller ani- 
mal than the Woodland, and the horns, although 
perhaps of an equal spread in the majority of 
instances, are lighter and more slender in beam 
and tines, and with less palmation and fewer 
points. This deer is a plain-dweller, and roams 
over the vast tundras of the desolate Arctic 
regions, its southern boundary line trending more 
to the north as its range is extended to the west 
even to the Coppermine and Mackenzie rivers, 
and the northern limit of the Woodland caribou 
is also pushed farther into the Arctic regions, 
until the ranges of the two forms overlap and the 
animals must mingle together. The winters are 

274 Tbe Caribou 

passed, according to Richardson, in the woods 
between the sixty-third and sixty-sixth degree of 
latitude, where they subsist on lichens, moss, and 
the long grass of the swamps. In summer the 
herds migrate northward, the females leaving the 
woods or their vicinity, where they have passed 
the winter, in May, 1 and are followed by the bulls 
in June, reaching the vicinity of the Arctic Sea 
late in May or early in June, and the thick winter 
coat is shed in July, and the dark brown one 
of summer is assumed. The hair is at first 
flexible and soft, but becomes brittle as it grows 
in length. This, however, can be said of the 
hair of all caribou, for there is little or no differ- 
ence in the texture of their coats. The hair 
near the roots is white, and as it increases in size, 
both in length and circumference, the colored 
points are broken or worn away and the lighter 
color becomes the dominant one over the body 
of the animal. In spring the Barren-Ground 
caribou seeks the coasts of the Arctic Ocean 
and visits its many islands, finding ample pas- 
ture in the valleys and moist places, where the 
withered grass of the previous year is still stand- 
ing in the form of well-aired hay. The animals 
remain near the salt water until about Septem- 

1 In all that section of the Barren Grounds immediately east of 
the Mackenzie River the females leave the timber about March, the 
bulls following in April. EDITOR. 

The Caribou 275 

ber, 1 when the return journey to the wooded 
country in the south is commenced, and their 
winter quarters are reached in October. The 
bulls go deep into the forests, but the females 
remain near its edges, and leave before the bulls 
on the spring journey, very early in the year, to 
give birth to their young near the sea. During 
the summer the Barren-Ground caribou assemble 
in enormous herds, sometimes of many thousands, 
and it has taken more than one day for such a 
herd to pass any particular place. In certain 
portions of the Barren Grounds they resort to the 
vicinity of lakes and feed on tender grasses and 
various lichens. They are stupid creatures, easily 
demoralized, and when panic-stricken run aim- 
lessly about, while the hunter in their midst is 
busy slaying them. Four and five hundred have 
been killed at one time by a band of Indians, so 
easily are they rendered helpless by fear. In their 
migrations these caribou do not always follow the 
same route yearly, but vary it to the east or west 
as fancy or stress of circumstances may cause 
them to change; and because the animals were 
plenty in certain places one year, is no reason to 
expect them to be there the next, for it frequently 
"happens that where thousands passed during one 

1 The bulls do not go down to the water, but meet the cows on their 
return from the coast, and, so far as my observation goes, the herds stay 
for the greater part somewhat back from the actual coast. EDITOR. 

276 The Caribou 

season, not one may be found in the same district 
the next. In winter their food consists of lichens 
and moss, which they obtain by scraping away the 
snow with the hoof. In the autumn, especially at 
the end of the rutting season, caribou are thin and 
in poor condition, and they do not become really 
fat until the following summer. The greatest 
amount of fat is found on the back and rump, 
and is sometimes two or three inches in depth. 
This is called by the white hunters l " depouille" 
and is highly prized and an article of trade. 
The females lose this deposit soon after giv- 
ing birth to their young. The flesh of this deer 
is tender, and of fine flavor when the animal is 
in good condition and not eaten too soon after 
killing. But the flesh of a thin caribou has 
about as much flavor as a chip, and equally 
as tender. The Indians and Eskimo depend 
greatly upon the deer for their subsistence, and 
every part of the animal is utilized in some way. 
The flesh, of course, is eaten, the stomach and 
intestines also ; even the points of the antlers, 
when in the soft condition, are considered a 
delicacy. The leg bones are broken for the 
marrow they contain, which is eaten raw, if 
wood for a fire is not available, and the blood 
is mixed with meat and forms a rich soup. In 

1 This is a relic of the old-time voyageur and French-Canadian 
hunter. EDITOR. 

The Caribou 277 

fact, no part of the animal's body that can be 
masticated is rejected, even the lichens and 
such vegetable matters as are found in the 
stomach being also eaten. The skin with the 
hair on is used for clothing, and no garment so 
successfully resists the Arctic cold as this, it is 
so light, and so impervious to the wind, which 
always blows a gale on the Barren Grounds. 
When dressed it becomes very soft and pliable, 
and when a number of hides are sewn together 
they make an excellent tent for summer, large 
enough for a numerous family. Cut into thongs 
of various sizes, it makes very strong bowstrings, 
wherever those ancient weapons of the chase 
are still used, and lines for nets and cords for 
deer snares; when cut into strings it is called 
babiche and is used for shoe-lacing; in fact, it 
is utilized for the many purposes that civilized 
peoples employ ropes and cords. A split shin 
bone makes a good knife, and fish-hooks and 
spears are made from the horns, while the ten- 
dons of certain muscles make very fine and 
strong thread for sewing with the bone needle. 
When travelling during the summer, caribou 
go in great herds, and the Indians lie in wait for 
them and kill many when the animals attempt to 
cross rivers or lakes. Many are also taken in 
traps or pounds, into which the unsuspecting deer 
walk through a narrow entrance, which is then 

27 8 The Caribou 

closed, and the animals are killed usually by shoot- 
ing them from the outside through the branches 
of the trees that form their prison. Stabbing the 
animals when feeding on rocky ground is also 
resorted to, and the Eskimo are such adepts at 
this method of hunting that they frequently 
get within a few paces of the game before 
shooting. Caribou are afflicted with great curi- 
osity, and will approach closely any object that 
is new or strange, provided it is motionless ; and 
of this weakness the Eskimo takes advantage. 
Having placed himself behind a rock in the vi- 
cinity of some deer that are feeding, he imitates 
their hoarse bellow to attract their attention; 
and in a short time some of them will certainly 
draw near to investigate the quiet figure from 
near which the sound proceeds, circling round 
and round and gradually drawing near until one 
or more usually pay for their weakness with their 
lives. Probably no animal is so easily approached 
as are these Barren-Ground caribou in the sum- 
mer time, and enormous numbers are slain every 
year, so many, indeed, that it would seem the 
race must become extinct in a comparatively 
brief period. In their dispositions they are not 
unlike sheep in some particulars, especially in 
following a leader; and sometimes a herd will 
run the gantlet of a line of hunters simply 
because one stupid animal had gone that way 

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The Caribou 279 

and the rest are determined to follow the lead 
set them. So many caribou have been slaugh- 
tered on the barrens and tundras of the Arctic 
regions, both east and west of the mountains, 
that in certain districts their numbers have 
been greatly reduced, and in some the animals 
have disappeared altogether. In Alaska not 
many years ago caribou were plentiful down to 
the shores of Bering Sea, but now one must 
travel in many places something like a hundred 
miles inland before finding them in any number. 
On the Kenai Peninsula and surrounding dis- 
tricts head hunters, both white and red, have 
nearly exterminated the species, and the in- 
creased means of transportation to and through 
their country, the large number of hunters, added 
greatly to annually, and the improved firearms, 
would seem to foretell the extinction in a brief 
period of this fine animal in the regions where 
he is accessible. 

Caribou, like all deer, shed their horns every 
year, the time when this takes place varying 
apparently slightly according to locality ; but be- 
tween the beginning of December and the middle 
of January, with possibly very few exceptions, all 
horns of bulls have been dropped, the exceptions 
being some young bulls, that carry their horns 
until spring. The old bulls shed first and then 
the young males, the females often retaining 

280 The Caribou 

theirs until their young are born. While very 
much smaller than those of the males, the female 
antlers are a very efficient means of defence, for, 
being composed of short beams armed with sharp 
spikes, they form a very dangerous weapon when 
wielded by an enraged animal as powerful as a 
caribou in her own defence or that of her young. 
During growth they are covered with a furry, 
velvety skin, which is full of blood-vessels, tender 
and very sensitive, and which bleeds profusely if 
lacerated. The beam has various degrees of 
curvature, and the tines are of all shapes and 
sizes and modes of palmation. 

The members of the two great divisions, the 
Woodland and Barren-Ground, resemble each 
other closely in their habits, varying only as the 
different configuration of their districts causes 
them to adopt a slightly changed mode of life. In 
essential particulars they exhibit but few varia- 
tions from each other, the larger number of which 
have been mentioned and some considerably en- 
larged upon, and there are not many distinct 
characters possessed by either. Still, in parlance 
of the day, these dwellers of the woods and plains 
represent different species, how many is a matter 
that cannot be said to be as yet satisfactorily de- 
termined. East of the mountains, on the cheer- 
less plains of Arctic America and in the great 
island of Greenland, two species are recognized, 

Tbe Caribou 281 

Rangifer arcticus and Rangifer green landicus. 
These races are lighter in color than the Wood- 
land caribou and rarely assume the dark-blue 
coat worn by the latter in the autumn before the 
white of winter appears. But this question of 
color cannot be accepted in any way as a main 
factor for determining the specific or even racial 
value of these animals, for it not infrequently hap- 
pens that those caribou that have been killed in 
the same locality and at the same season present 
in their different coats all shades from an almost 
soiled white to a mouse color. As a rule, I think 
it may be said that the Woodland animal is usually 
darker than his relative of the plains, but it would 
be difficult to distinguish one Woodland caribou 
from another, taken at the same season, by color 
alone, no matter from what part of North America 
they come. The two animals above mentioned 
are smaller than the Woodland caribou, and it 
is much easier to distinguish these from their 
southern relatives than it is to find characters to 
separate them from each other. Both of the 
Arctic forms have slender antlers with few points, 
and there does not seem to be much difference 
in the color of their coats; and while these 
animals from the different localities have been 
recognized as distinct for a long period, yet it 
can hardly be said that any character has been 
described by which the deer of the mainland 

282 The Caribou 

could definitely be distinguished from those of 
Greenland. The figures here given of the two 
forms show how the antlers vary both between 
individuals of the same species and of the two 
species themselves, and the one is no greater 
than the other. It is not improbable they cross 
from the island to the mainland on the ice, 
and vice versa, and a Greenland animal shot 
among a herd of the Barren-Ground deer would 
probably never exhibit any signs of his nativity 
nor be considered as differing from the caribou 
among which he was killed ; and the same may be 
said of a mainland deer procured in Greenland. 
Island forms that have become separated and 
have no access to a continent as a rule will in 
time develop characters that distinguish them 
from their mainland ancestors ; but when com- 
munication has not been entirely cut off, the 
question naturally arises as to whether or not a 
mingling of the two forms has not been continued, 
even though at irregular intervals, and a produc- 
tion of a distinct variety been delayed if not pre- 
vented. In the present case more material is 
needed of both species before any definite opinion 
can be formed. At present they are difficult to 
distinguish from each other by any of the char- 
acters thus far produced. 

It may be well here, before proceeding to the 
Woodland caribou, to consider for a moment the 

The Caribou 283 

reindeer of Scandinavia, which is the typical form 
of these animals and characterized by Linnaeus as 
Rangifer tarandus. It is nearest allied to the 
Barren-Ground caribou of all the forms found on 
the North American continent, but is a larger, 
stouter animal and will weigh from two hundred 
and fifty to three hundred and twenty pounds. 
In the style of the antlers there is a great resem- 
blance to those of the Barren-Ground caribou, but 
they are heavier. It extends its range into Russia, 
but in certain parts of Asia it appears to be re- 
placed by a larger form that in Siberia approaches 
in size and appearance our Woodland caribou. 

The reindeer is regarded as distinct from the 
North American forms and stands as the type 
of the genus. In the island of Spitzbergen there 
is yet another form of reindeer that seems to 
have more claims to be regarded as a distinct 
species than have the great majority of its kindred. 
While the antlers approximate the Scandinavian 
type, they are smaller and with a shorter beam. 
But the chief characteristic is the shape of the 
nasal bones, which are expanded at both extremi- 
ties and greatly constricted in the middle, and 
there is also a difference in the superior border, 
thus varying greatly in shape from the nasals of 
the Scandinavian deer, which increase regularly 
in width from the anterior end to the maximum 
diameter of the lachrymal vacuities. 


The Caribou 

Farther south we reach the Woodland caribou, 
represented east of the Rocky Mountains by also 
two forms, known as R. caribou and R. terra 
novcz, the latter's claim for separation resting 
chiefly upon the greater size of the body and 
antlers, more particularly the latter. All deer 
vary so greatly in size, even among individuals of 
the same species, that it would be advisable to 
have data gathered from a large number of individ- 
uals before it could be determined that the size 
of either closely allied species was the greater, and 
that has not yet been produced to prove that the 
Newfoundland deer is larger than that of the 
continent. The antlers on the average appear 
heavier than those seen on the mainland, yet in 
many ways they closely resemble each other, and 
antlers are not infrequently obtained from eastern 
North America as heavy and wide-spread, and 
provided with as many points, as those procured 
in Newfoundland ; and it is doubtful if any one 
could accurately state to which form they should 
be attributed. The final status of these animals 
can only be determined by the acquisition of ample 
material of both forms, which up to this time has 
not yet been obtained. The large antlers of the 
Newfoundland caribou here figured belong to the 
type specimen, and are of a rather unusual size. 

No other species are to be met with until the 
Rocky Mountains are passed, and then three 

The Caribou 285 

have been described, R. montanus from British 
Columbia, R. stonei from the Kenai Peninsula, 
Alaska, and R. dawsoni from the Queen Charlotte 
Islands. Taking the last-named first, it has been 
pretty conclusively proved by Mr. Osgood that 
no caribou are found on the Queen Charlotte 
Islands, and none have ever been known to 
live there in the memory of man. Its habitat 
must therefore have been given erroneously, and 
the specimen came undoubtedly from the main- 
land and is not specifically distinct from R. mon- 
tanus. R. stonei, from the Kenai Peninsula pos- 
sesses no characters not found in R. montanus, 
and cannot be separated from it. 1 This reduces 
the western forms to one only, R. montanus, 
claimed to be specifically separable from the 
R. caribou of the East, the chief points of differ- 
ence being its large size ; but the measurements 
given 46 J inches at the withers, and 95 inches 

1 The question of species among caribou is one under very active dis- 
cussion, and there appear to be no sufficient data at hand to warrant defi- 
nite conclusions. Mr. A. J. Stone, who has had more practical experience 
in the field among caribou than any of the present students of the animal, 
has recently (March, 1902) returned from Alaska and British Columbia, 
bringing specimens which tend to show a new mountain specimen from 
that Mr. Thompson Seton described as the R. montanus. Mr. Stone also 
brought out half a dozen specimens each of what he claims to be entirely 
new species and that have been named respectively R. granti and R. os- 
borni. In each case he has secured enough specimens of each to show a 
consistent adherence to type. To be sure, all these are mere variations, 
in most cases but slight, yet they appear to be distinct. The full story 
of the caribou may not be written for a year or so yet. EDITOR. 

286 The Caribou 

from tip of nose to root of tail do not ex 
ceed and in some instances may not equal th 
dimensions of Woodland caribou from the Ea r 
The describer, Mr. Thompson Seton, states th. 
the "antlers are not noticeably different fron. 
those of the Woodland species, but in general are 
distinguished by their great number of points." 

It will be noticed that the differences from 
other forms claimed for this one are of the 
slightest value, and it would seem that it will be 
necessary to find more important ones before it 
can be satisfactorily established as a species dis- 
tinct from the eastern animal. When we con- 
sider the endless variation that exists among 
caribou, both in color and in the shape and size 
of the antlers, even among animals belonging in 
the same herd, the difficulty of finding a recog- 
nizable permanent character to separate those of 
one district from those of another becomes ap- 
parent; and it cannot be said that this has yet 
been successfully accomplished, at least as regards 
the animals belonging to the two divisions, Wood- 
land and Barren-Ground. Between the deer of 
the Arctic regions, including Greenland and those 
of the forest lands to the south, distinctions appear 
recognizable in the lighter beam and fewer points 
of the antlers, and possibly in the smaller size of 
the northern animal, which is claimed to be very 
noticeable ; indeed, Richardson states that he has 

The Caribou 287 

"seen a Canadian voyageur throw a full-grown 
doe on his shoulder and carry it as an English 
butcher would a sheep," and that the bucks 
weigh, " when in good condition, from ninety to 
one hundred and thirty pounds," and the average 
weight of ninety-four deer shot by Capt. M'Clin- 
tock's men in the Arctic regions, after they had 
been cleaned and dressed for the table, was only 
sixty pounds. This statement and the weight 
given certainly describe a very small deer, which, 
if of average size, would alone indicate an animal 
different from the Woodland species. As to 
the other forms, the Greenland as distinct from 
the Barren-Ground species, the Newfoundland, the 
eastern mainland animal, and the one from the 
western portion of the continent, as separable 
from each other, our material at present is not 
sufficient for a definite decision to be reached, 
for much has yet to be learned regarding the 
variations of these animals, both seasonal and 
individual. As far as one is able to judge by 
the knowledge we have at present, it does not 
seem probable that any more tenable species than 
the three Woodland and two Barren-Ground of 
this paper will be recognized, with the possibility 
of one or more of these being reduced to a race 
or the synoptical list ; for most of the work done 
with these animals has been based upon very 
insufficient material and scant knowledge. 




THE moose is distinctly the most individual 
character among the deer family. It is the giant 
of the cervidce. It is the hardiest and the most 
capable of self-protection. It will be the last of 
the deer family to become extinct in America, 
unless perhaps with the single exception of the 
whitetail deer in the rugged wilds of southeast- 
ern Alaska, and in a few favorable localities in 
the states where well protected. It roams more 
of the forest country of America than any other 
species of the deer family. The greatest and wild- 
est wilderness in the world is its home. Nearly 
all of the forest country of the whole of North 
America north of the United States, and a part 
of some of our northern tier of states, is occupied 
by it, and the term " forest country " is here meant 
to apply to all the country upon which timber 
grows even though ever so sparse and dwarfed. 
It is the most cunning of all the large animals of 
North America, and the most capable of eluding 
its pursuers. 


292 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Stories of its wonderful size, of its magnificent 
spreading antlers, of its capabilities of detecting 
and escaping enemies, of its wonderful strides in 
running, and of its mysterious and noiseless move- 
ments, have long been favorites around the camp- 
fire, at the club, and around the home fireside. 
The man who has acquired so thorough a knowl- 
edge of the habits of the moose as to enable him, 
unaided, to seek the animal in its native haunts 
and by fair stalking bring it to bay, has reached 
the maximum standard of the American big-game 

Species and Characteristics. There are in 
America two known species; the A Ices ameri- 
canus of Maine and Lower Canada and A Ices 
gigas of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. The im- 
mense expanse of country between these widely 
separated localities is inhabited by the moose, and 
whether the two species blend in this intervening 
country, gradually losing their individuality or 
specific character, or whether the boundaries of 
the range of each are clearly defined, or whether 
there is yet another species in the great country 
between the two localities from which these 
types have been described, is a matter yet to be 

When we consider the many surprises the 
North has furnished us within the last few years 
in the way of new forms in large mammals, we 


The Moose 293 

need not be surprised if the great moose range 
on the head waters of the Liard, Peace, Stickine, 
and Yukon should give us the third variety. The 
animals of that country are very large, are darker 
than the moose of Maine and Lower Canada 
even darker than those of the Kenai, yet their 
antlers are not nearly so massive as those grown 
on the Kenai Peninsula. These two facts were 
obtained by personal observation, but I never 
secured specimens sufficiently perfect to permit 
the establishing of their identity. There is a 
large area of country farther north in which I 
am convinced the moose differ in character from 
those in any part of the country just mentioned; 
and one may readily infer there is yet much to 
learn about the moose. 

Just how the moose from different sections of 
their ranges may vary in size is yet a matter 
largely of opinion. A more complete compila- 
tion of carefully made measurements from a 
series of adults from widely separated ranges 
will be necessary to determine this, as well as 
other points of great interest concerning this 

The moose of the Kenai Peninsula are reputed 
by many to be the largest in America, and from 
such measurements as it is possible for me to 
secure I might accept that conclusion. But there 
are so many magnificent ranges from which we 

294 Deer and Antelope of North America 

have no data, that we must await definite knowl- 
edge. In the Cassiar Mountains and on the 
Upper Liard River in northwest British Colum- 
bia, and again in the country around the head 
waters of the McMillan, Stewart, and Peel rivers, 
Northwest Territory, are the two ideal moose 
ranges of America. From neither have we a 
single specimen to give us positive knowledge of 
the character of the local moose. Nor has suffi- 
cient knowledge been obtained to warrant a de- 

To the north of the Porcupine and around the 
head waters of the Colville rivers in Alaska is yet 
another large moose range from which we have 
no real facts to rely upon. We have in museum 
collections a few specimens from southern Can- 
ada and Maine and again from the Kenai Penin- 
sula in western Alaska, and these persuade us that 
the animals of the Kenai are not only larger than 
those in Canada and Maine, but they grow a much 
larger head of antlers. The table of measurements 
on the opposite page clearly shows the compara- 
tive size of adult males. 

There is no other wild animal in America that 
grows so rapidly as the moose. The calves are 
small when very young, but they grow with 
almost startling rapidity. A calf secured by me 
on the Liard River, in the latter part of May, and 
not more than one week old, measured : length, 

The Moose 


37 inches, tail, ij inches, femur to humerus, 20^ 
inches, across chest, 4^ inches, height at shoulders, 
33 inches, depth of body, 9^ inches, height at 
elbow, 21 inches. One secured by me on the 
Kenai Peninsula, October 30, evidently just about 
five months old, measured : length, 88 inches, tail, 



Femur to 

Across the 



V o 


Height at 

o . 


Three - year - old female, 
Liard River 




1 08 
















2 9 





Three - year - old male, 
Mackenzie River . . . 
Adult male, Kenai Penin- 

Adult male, Kenai Penin- 
sula . . . 

Adult male, Kenai Penin- 

Adult male, Maine .... 

4 inches, femur to humerus, 54 inches, across 
chest, 1 1 inches, height at shoulders, 67 J inches, 
height at elbow, 40 inches. It had grown in 
five months 41 inches in length, 34^ inches in 
height, 6^ inches in width of chest, and 19 inches 
in length of foreleg below the elbow. A carefully 
estimated weight of the five-months-old calf as 
it stood alive was fully 600 pounds; the one a 
week old about 65 pounds. Comparative meas- 
urements prove, however, that the first season ex- 
periences the most rapid growth. Comparing these 

296 Deer and Antelope of North America 

measurements of the calves with that of the three- 
year-old bull and again with the adults, it is plain 
the animal does not grow so fast after it leaves 
its mother, and that the rapidity of growth is de- 
creased as it nears maturity. This would vary 
with different animals, and there are individual 
animals which attain a size perhaps much greater 
than that of their neighbors, but my experience 
teaches me that adult animals of any given species 
are very uniform in size, much more than they 
really look to be. The tape line in the hands of 
one who knows how to use it reduces the size of 
what seems to be an especially large individual 
to a place very near that of its relatives. The 
above table shows how very uniform are the three 
adult males from the Kenai Peninsula. It is the 
result I have also found in many other species. 
The general contour of the surface anatomy of 
animals varies so exceedingly as to influence their 
appearance and often greatly deceive one concern- 
ing the animal's real size. I have looked at ani- 
mals and remarked before measuring that they 
were very large or very small, only to find their 
actual size, when the tape line was applied, to 
vary very slightly from the uniform size of adults 
of the species. One who did not understand 
measuring animals might have made any of the 
above adult moose twelve inches taller, and have 
really thought he was making an honest measure- 

The Moose 297 

ment ; but a large bull moose is a heavy animal, 
and does not stand on stretched legs or on the 
tips of his long toes ; so, too, the top of his shoul- 
ders is at the surface of the skin and not at the 
end of his long mane. 

I have collected many interesting statistics 
during my travels through the great country 
of the moose, bearing upon their size, weight, 
measurements of hoofs, joints, and many parts 
of the animal's anatomy. The weight of the 
four quarters of adult moose as they are sledded 
in to the Hudson's Bay Company posts in winter, 
when they are generally poor, ranges from 
350 to 500 pounds. This would refer to females 
as well as to males. I have taken from adult 
males very poor hams which weighed as high as 
no pounds, and I know of a fat bull killed near 
Fort Norman on the Mackenzie whose four 
quarters weighed 700 pounds. 

When on the Liard River in the winter of 
1897-1898, an Indian brought in a skin from a bull 
moose, just as he would take it, minus the skin 
from head and legs. It weighed 90^ pounds, 
after fleshing, 72 pounds, after hair was removed, 
51 J pounds, made into rawhide, 9^ pounds, into 
dressed skin, 5^ pounds. This was not a large 
pelt. Many of the hides complete as the natural- 
ists will take them, weigh, when green, close to 
150 pounds. 

298 Deer and Antelope of North America 

From careful observation, I believe the moose 
to reach maturity at about six years of age. To 
just what age it may live must be conjecture, 
but approximately I would judge from what I 
have been able to learn that the maximum period 
is not far from twenty years. Old animals are 
easily distinguished by their worn and broken 
teeth, and by the gray hairs around the nose and 
at the edge of the hoofs. 

The color of the moose changes from an ashy 
brown to almost black, varying among animals 
of different ages and with the seasons of the 
year, and with different localities. The moose 
of Maine and Lower Canada are much lighter in 
the color of the body than those farther to the 
north and west, and their legs are almost white, 
while those on the Liard River and the Kenai 
Peninsula have quite dark hair on their legs. 
The hair is very coarse, and in the winter is very 
thick and long, while for additional warmth is 
grown a light coating of soft wool-like hair or 
fur of a medium shade of brown. I made what 
I consider a rather remarkable discovery in speci- 
mens killed by me on the Kenai Peninsula. 
Between the toes of these animals grew a bunch 
of hair of a perfect emerald green. 

The young calves are of a light red with dark 
dorsal stripe. With the coming of the fall their 
coats grow darker and the dorsal stripe loses its 

Spread, 67 inches 

Spread, 72 inches 

The Moose 299 

prominence through the sides shading up to it. 
The moose of the Kenai has only very recently 
been described by Mr. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr., of 
the Biological Survey at Washington as Alces 
gigas. He classifies it as being a larger and 
more richly colored animal than the eastern 
moose. In his description of " A new moose 
from Alaska," he says : " The moose of Alaska 
has long been known to be the largest of the 
American deer, but hitherto it has not been 
directly compared with true Alces americanus" 
The color of the Alces gigas is not so dark or 
rich as that of the Liard River moose, and when 
we obtain specimens from other parts of the 
North, from the centre of such great ranges as 
that of the Liard or Koyukuk rivers, we will 
likely find animals fully as large as those of the 
Kenai Peninsula, but not wearing such large 

I am thoroughly of the belief that the North 
will produce a third variety of moose (and fourth 
is not impossible) ; but only a careful and intelli- 
gent study of these animals by one trained to 
the work, with complete series of specimens and 
full measurements and data, from the ranges 
mentioned, can determine sufficiently their rela- 
tive character, size, and habits ; and ultimately 
decide the question of species. 

More is known of the antlers of the moose 

joo Deer and Antelope of North America 

than of all the rest of its anatomy. It is not that 
they are really the most important feature of the 
animal, but because few entire specimens have 
ever been taken by naturalists ; and the interest 
of the average sportsman centres in the head of 
antlers. I have seen a great many heads from 
Lower Canada and Maine, the Liard, the Mac- 
kenzie, and the Yukon rivers, and the Kenai 
Peninsula, and there is no question that the 
antlers grown by the moose of the Kenai are not 
only very much the largest in America but of dis- 
tinctive character. The spread is greater, the 
palmation wider, and the general contour very 
different from those observed from any other 

Nine heads secured on the Kenai, fall of 1900, 
ranged in spread from fifty-six to seventy-four 
inches. The average spread of the nine heads 
was slightly above sixty-five inches. A head 
from Maine or Lower Canada above sixty inches 
in spread is rare, and what might be considered 
ten good heads would probably average in width 
but slightly over fifty inches. The antlers lose 
the velvet the last of August and the first of 
September. Adult males shed their antlers the 
latter part of December, but young males usually 
carry theirs from thirty to sixty days later, and I 
have heard of instances where they were retained 
until the first of April, but such cases must be 
very rare. 

The Moose 301 

The dewlap or bell worn by the bull moose is 
always very narrow in the young animals, but 
often quite long. I have seen them almost a foot 
in length. As the animal grows older the dewlap 
grows shorter and wider, extending farther along 
the throat, until in old animals it becomes a long 
but very shallow pouch. 

Range. The range of the moose in America 
extends as far east as New Brunswick and as far 
west as the limits of tree growth on the Alaskan 
Peninsula, south into Montana and Idaho, 1 and 
north to within a few miles of the Arctic coast or 
to the limits of tree growth. Only a small per 
cent of all this vast territory is entirely lacking in 
moose, though they are very unevenly distributed. 

They do not inhabit that large tract of land 
known as the Barren Grounds, which lies between 
the Mackenzie River and Hudson Bay ; and the 
strip of country extending to Lake Superior east 
of south of the Barrens is almost or completely 
lacking in moose, although the greater part of it 
would seem well adapted to their requirements. 

The moose is not a migratory animal, but fre- 
quently surrenders territory on account of the 
encroachments of civilization, and perhaps at 
times from other causes; but what might seem 
surprising to even the well-informed upon the 

1 A very few are said to still range in the Wind River Mountains, 
Wyoming, where once they were fairly plentiful. EDITOR. 

302 Deer and Antelope of North America 

subject is that they have, during the past fifty 
years, acquired a large amount of territory in the 
North. I believe they have acquired within our 
present history of them almost or quite as much 
territory as they have lost, and that their range is 
almost or quite as large at the present day as it 
ever has been. They are now numerous in a 
very large territory in northwest British Colum- 
bia, through the Cassiar Mountains, on Level 
Mountain, and throughout the head waters of the 
Stickine River, where thirty years ago they were 
unknown. They are now abundant on the Kenai 
Peninsula, Alaska, and in other sections of the 
North where at one time they did not exist. Acqui- 
sition of territory by so wary an animal as the 
moose can only be accounted for in one way. 
Many years ago the Indian tribes occupying these 
sections were very numerous and inimical to 
moose life, but, since the Indians have dwindled 
from thousands to insignificant numbers, the 
moose finds comparatively unmolested life. This 
I know to be the case on the Kenai and in the 
country referred to in northwest British Colum- 
bia ; and there are many similar changes in con- 
ditions in other parts of the North, notably in the 
Nahanna River country, north of the Liard, where 
the entire tribe of Indians that once hunted the 
country have died out, to the very great increase 
of moose. 


The Moose 303 

Moose are now extinct in all the eastern states 
except in Maine, where they are more plentiful 
and more hunted than in any other section in 
America. That they continue plentiful is due to 
the excellent game laws and the fact that there is 
no avenue of escape. In Canada the situation is 
different ; the moose have been driven back north, 
into an unlimited country of retreat. In Wash- 
ington, Idaho, Montana, and in some parts of 
southern Canada moose are almost extinct. They 
are found to some extent in all parts of the Mac- 
kenzie and Yukon river basins ; and they are 
most abundant in the countries of the two 
Nahanna rivers which empty into the Liard 
and Mackenzie respectively; in the country of 
the Gravel River, a tributary of the Mackenzie ; 
in the head waters of the Stickine and Liard 
rivers; in the region of the Teslin Lake and 
north, just west of the Rockies to the head waters 
of Peel River ; on the Upper Koyukuk north of 
the Yukon ; on the Tananna south of the Yukon ; 
on the Kenai Peninsula; around the head of 
Cook Inlet ; and they are also plentiful in most of 
the timbered regions west of Hudson Bay. 

They do not approach the Pacific coast in 
Washington, British Columbia, or in southern or 
southeastern Alaska, but on the Kenai and Alas- 
kan peninsulas they range down to salt water. 

The Mackenzie Delta was at one time a favor- 

304 Deer and Antelope of North America 

ite range of the moose, but there they have been 
fearfully reduced in numbers. The Indians claim 
that several years of great spring freshets, which 
overflowed the islands at the season of the year 
when the calves are very young, causing death in 
the cold flood, was responsible for the great re- 
duction in moose. Knowing the delta I believe 
their theory correct. One Indian told me that 
for several years after the floods had subsided, he 
hunted the delta and killed many cow moose, but 
they were always without calves. I sledded the 
length of the delta three times and boated it 
once through its entire length, and saw signs of 
not more than five or six moose in the six hun- 
dred miles of travel. 

Habits. The habits of the moose vary with 
the different sections of the country in which 
they range. Animals, like people, to some extent 
must conform to their surroundings. The habits 
of the moose in the far North and West differ 
from those of southern Canada and Maine in 
many ways. In the North and West they do not 
yard up in winter, and consequently do not live 
much on the bark of trees in that season, they 
do not feed to any extent on lily pads; do not 
run so much in the timber; and in some sec- 
tions they range much higher in the mountains. 
Bulls do not, in response to the hunter's birch- 
bark-horn call, in imitation of the cow, come down 

The Moose 305 

to the camp to be killed, like their cousins in 
Lower Canada and Maine. 

Moose yard not from preference but from ne- 
cessity. Their favorite winter range is in sparsely 
timbered countries, in the hills abounding in wil- 
lows and alders. In Lower Canada and in Maine 
the snowfall is often very deep, and when the 
winds drive it drifting into the open or partially 
timbered ridges, piling it deep among the willows 
where these animals like to feed, they seek timber 
where the snow, unaffected by the wind, remains 
at uniform level. Experience has taught them 
where to find food at such times, and they hunt 
the poplar or aspen groves and remain there 
indefinitely, living upon the bark they gnaw from 
the trees. Contrary to general impression, the 
snow does not pile up so deeply in the North, 
and consequently the animals remain in their 
favorite feeding-grounds in the hills until the 
snow, either from the winds or the warmth of a 
coming spring sun, takes on a crust which will 
bear the wolf the only enemy of moose beside 
man. When the snow is soft the wolf never 
troubles the moose, for well it knows this big 
deer is more than a match under such conditions ; 
but when the wolf can run on top of the snow, the 
moose is at his mercy ; a band of them will bring 
down the most powerful bull. Unlike the cari- 
bou the moose is a heavy animal with small feet 

306 Deer and Antelope of North America 

in proportion to its size, and they can never run 
on top of the snow. The wolves thoroughly 
understand this, and a band will systematically 
plan an attack and execute their plans with de- 
liberation. Surrounding the moose, some will 
attract its attention by jumping at its head, while 
others cut its hamstrings. To escape this dan- 
ger northern moose leave the hills in March and 
April and go down into the timber of the lowland 
where the snow is yet soft. The wolf does not 
destroy a very large number of moose, but when 
driven to extreme hunger will devise many kinds 
of methods for their capture, and, strange to say, 
will attack the largest bull as readily as the 
smaller cow. I account for this by the fact that 
as cows, calves, and young animals, with some- 
times an adult bull, all run together, their com- 
bined resistance is too much for the wolf, whereas 
some of the old bulls are frequently found alone. 
On the Liard River, in the winter of 1897-1898, 
the wolves killed and ate a very large bull within 
one mile of the little fur trading post at which I 
lived. The snow at that time was soft in the 
hills, but crusted on the river where the winds 
swept up and down. Realizing they could not 
capture the bull in the hills, they drove him 
on to the river. The river was wide, and as he 
went plunging through the crust into the deep 
snow beneath, they overtook and slaughtered him 

The Moose 307 

with ease. The moose knew his situation per- 
fectly. There were wolves to his right, left, and 
rear, but he simply miscalculated his ability to 
gain the opposite side of the river. Knowing the 
cunning of these animals, I believe his object in 
crossing the river was to reach some locality he 
knew, and where he would have a greater advan- 
tage over his enemies than in the country where 
they first disturbed him. Perhaps the snow was 
not of sufficient depth in the section he was leav- 
ing to give him the advantage he wanted, and he 
knew a locality in which it was. Animals are much 
better reasoners than generally supposed, and the 
moose is one of the deepest of the animal king- 

During the summer and autumn the moose of 
Lower Canada and Maine feed extensively on 
pond-lilies and other succulent plants which grow 
in the marshy lakes and around the water's edge, 
and it is not uncommon for them to shove their 
heads completely under water in search of this 
kind of food. 1 This character of plant life is 
much less common in the farther North, and the 
moose do not seem to feed upon it where it does 
occur. I saw pond-lilies growing in the Dease 

1 The moose does on occasion, when feeding in a lake or pond, go 
completely under the water and out of sight after an especially suc- 
culent lily root. This is disputed by some, but it is a fact, none the 
less. EDITOR. 

308 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Lake country, in the Liard River country, about 
60 N., to the west of the Mackenzie 66.30 N., 
in the country north of the Porcupine 70 N., and 
on the Kenai Peninsula 60 N. Moose abound 
in all the localities mentioned, yet although I 
searched carefully for it, I could find no trace of 
their feeding on the lilies. Certain varieties of 
willows are their favorite food, though they feed 
upon alder, aspen, and sometimes birch and bal- 
sam. They snap off branches, thick as one's 
finger, as readily as most ruminants nip blades of 
grass, and will ride down a young tree to secure 
its tender top branches. Lowlands along the 
streams and around the marshy lakes are their 
favorite feeding-grounds in spring and summer, 
but with the approach of fall they begin to work 
their way into the hills. High rolling country 
which has been run over by fire, and followed by 
one or two seasons' growth of willows, is their 
very choicest feeding-ground. The new growth 
of willows after a fire is always exceptionally lux- 
uriant; the new shoots being large and tender. 
The short neck of the moose unfits it for feeding 
on the ground, and rarely are the willows clipped 
below a height of thirty inches. Their long heads 
and great height naturally fit them for such feed- 
ing, but they seem to delight in doing so, and 
will often rear on their hind legs to secure some 
especially tempting twig. I have seen where 

The Moose 309 

they have clipped branches fully ten feet above 
the ground. 

It is during the mating season, September and 
October, that bull moose become most coura- 
geous and reckless. They are ready for battle, 
and they do battle in royal manner among them- 
selves for the possession of the cow. 

While on the Kenai, in the fall of 1900, I 
heard three combats in progress during my hunt 
on the peninsula. The thumping of their antlers 
can often be heard for a mile, and to the ear of 
the trained hunter the sounds are unmistakable. 
I had left camp but a couple of miles behind one 
morning when I heard the clashing of antlers. 
I hurried in the direction of battle as rapidly as 
possible, but was greatly retarded in my progress 
by fallen timber and tangled brush, and although 
the affray must have kept up fully thirty minutes, 
I failed to reach the scene in time for the finish. 
I found the place where it had occurred, an open 
spot about fifty feet across, surrounded by an 
enormous growth of alders on all sides. It was 
just such a secluded spot as men might select for 
duel. The earth was fearfully dug up by the 
hoofs of the moose and the surrounding alders 
broken down in many places, while great locks of 
long brownish gray hair bestrewed the ground. 
Both animals had disappeared, and although I was 
very near when the battle ended, I heard no cry 

3io Deer and Antelope of North America 

of defeat ; the unfortunate, like the brave spirit 
he must have been, suffered his mental and physi- 
cal pains in silence. 

Like all the deer family at this season of the 
year, they are very curious as well as very reck- 
less, and frequently pay for it with their life. 
Although retaining a certain amount of fear of 
man, yet their proud spirit so dislikes to acknowl- 
edge it at such a time that they will often stop in 
plain view of him to exchange glances at short 

So great, too, is the bull's curiosity at this sea- 
son that he will seek out any unusual noise. Just 
here I want to correct a very general impression 
that the bull moose can be called by the use of 
the birch-bark horn, in the belief that he is ap- 
proaching a female. 1 No bull was ever half so 
stupid; such a thing is entirely unreasonable. 
He is simply attracted by the unusual sound, and, 
being exceedingly curious, endeavors to locate the 
meaning of this strange thing in his home. The 
pounding on a tree with a club by the Tahltan or 
Kaska Indians in northwest British Columbia 
(among the best moose hunters in America) or 
pounding the willows with a dry shoulder blade 
of the animal, by the Liard River Indians, will 

1 Mr. Stone's opinion on this subject differs from that of experi- 
enced hunters. There is convincing evidence that the bull is deceived 
into believing the horn call to be the call of the cow. EDITOR. 

The Moose 311 

serve exactly the same purpose ; or almost any 
other unusual noise would bring the bull within 
the sound just as readily. 1 There is no animal in 
the world whose sense of hearing is more acute, 
and no hunter with any knowledge of the moose 
will call it stupid ; yet hunters tell how their guide 
brought up a bull by imitating the call of a cow. 
How many of these hunters ever heard the call 
of a cow moose to give them authority to decide 
how perfectly the birch-bark horn in the hands of 
their guide imitated the cow's call. 1 

The moose inherits faculties for reasoning the 
few simple things that ordinarily come to his life, 
and along with many other animals is capable of 
detecting the slightest variation in sound. Not 
only do animals recognize the cry of their own 
kind, but the cry of an individual. To know 
animals requires something more than careless 
observation. One must study them long and 
earnestly, and when we do this we can find rea- 
sons for everything they do. I want no better 
comparison than I can find in the seals. On the 
Pribilof Islands, during the seal breeding season, 
one hundred thousand puppies are congregated 
at one time and left by their mothers who go to 
sea in search of food, often being gone two and 

1 This totally disagrees with abundant evidence to the contrary. 

2 The cow's call is quite familiar to those who have had much 
calling experience in the Maine woods. EDITOR. 

312 Deer and Antelope of North America 

three days. The little fellows get very hungry 
during this absence and set up a constant cry. 
When a mother lands she goes about among the 
thousands hunting her own; thousands of little 
voices are constantly coming to her ears to 
man they all sound alike, but the seal mother 
detects her own from nine hundred and ninety- 
nine thousand other voices ; yet some would have 
us believe that the bull moose is so stupid as not 
to know the difference between the call of his 
mate and the call of a birch-bark horn. I could 
make innumerable comparisons along this same 
line, but am willing to allow the readers to draw 
their own conclusions. I simply assert that when 
a moose approaches such a horn he does so as he 
would almost any other strange noise, and he 
knows that he is not approaching a mate. Under 
the excitement of the moment he may do foolish 
things, but he is not a fool. 

The long legs of the moose enable them to 
travel with ease through miry swamps, deep snow, 
and among fallen timber. They do not drag their 
feet through the snow, breaking trail as they go, 
like cattle, but lift their feet above its surface 
every step, even though it may reach a depth of 
twenty-four to thirty inches. Several animals will 
walk one behind the other, stepping in the same 
tracks with such care as to leave the impression 
of but one animal having passed. They can step 

The Moose 313 

over logs of surprising height. I have seen the 
snow piled upon logs to the height of three feet 
above the ground, yet undisturbed by them in 
stepping over. They trot or run with a long, 
swinging stride, and rarely leap, and then never 
more than one or two jumps when suddenly 
frightened. They travel with great rapidity and 
ease ; they can run through thick timber and 
brush, scarcely creating a sound. Often the in- 
experienced hunter is very sure he has his moose 
in a certain thicket or brush, only to find, after a 
very careful approach, its bed in the leaves yet 
warm, and the animal perhaps two miles away. 
So acute is their sense of smell and hearing, and 
so careful, silent, and mysterious their movements, 
that they not only detect the enemy under cir- 
cumstances that would seem impossible, but they 
escape him without giving the slightest notice of 
departure, running through all sorts of tangles 
without so much as snapping a twig. If the 
moose is suddenly alarmed and recognizes itself 
observed by an enemy, it does not endeavor to 
conceal its movements. If in the brush or timber, 
it will make a bound and go crashing through, 
smashing everything on its road in the most wild 
and reckless manner; if in the open, it will give 
you one quick glance and move off in a long, 
swinging, and usually rapid trot, but never at its 
best speed so long as in sight, for the moose is 

314 Deer and Antelope of North America 

proud and dislikes the idea of expressing fear. 
Watch it carefully, just as it rounds the hill and 
realizes it is about passing out of your sight, it 
will suddenly stop and give you one very short 
look and then away with all the speed it possesses. 
Though proud, the moose is full of fear, and feel- 
ing now it is out of your sight, loses no time in 
leaving you far behind. 

The moose cannot be considered cowardly or 
timid, yet the instances are very rare where it has 
been known to attack man. Although a large 
and powerful animal it fears man, and always 
avoids contact if possible. If cornered or seri- 
ously wounded, it will sometimes show fight, 
most animals will do this, but the hunter has 
been injured much oftener by the common Vir- 
ginia deer than by the moose. Near Fort Nor- 
man on the Mackenzie, a few years ago, a wounded 
bull charged and killed an Indian hunter who in his 
effort to escape was held by his clothing catching 
on a snag. Had the bull missed him in his first 
charge he would not have renewed it ; few wild 
animals will return to a charge, failing in the first. 1 

I stopped three days at a trading post on the 
Upper Liard River in the fall of 1897. The trader 

1 The sladang of the Malay Peninsula is about the only one which, 
having missed on his first charge, will almost invariably return to 
the attack; but several species, notably the African buffalo, the 
grizzly bear, the tiger, and the black leopard, may usually be de- 
pended on to return to the attack. EDITOR. 

Spread, 74 inches 

Spread, 64 inches 

Tbe Moose 315 

told me that he had a pet moose calf from the 
spring before. It was running loose in the forest, 
and he told me it would often be gone for three 
days at a time. It was not at home when I 
reached the post, and he was very anxious for it 
to come that I might see it. The second day at 
noon, while we were eating dinner in the cabin, 
the door standing wide open, we heard the jingle 
of a bell, and the trader said, " There comes Jen- 
nie." Sure enough she came as fast as her legs 
could bring her (and she was not riding a bad set 
of legs). She ran right in at the door, for she 
was accustomed to coming into the cabin. The 
moment she saw me, however, she looked at me 
very hard, her eyes grew larger, she sniffed the 
air, and she backed quietly out of the door. She 
objected to strangers. She would play with the 
trader, but would not let me get near her. I had 
a splendid opportunity of studying the movements 
of this animal, the way it carried its feet, legs, and 
head, and many of its manoeuvres, all of which 
were extremely interesting. Often when desir- 
ing to play it would stand on its hind legs and 
strike at its owner with its fore feet in a very 
reckless and vicious manner. 

The young of the moose are dropped the latter 
part of May. The first calving rarely ever pro- 
duces more than one, but adult females very fre- 
quently bring forth two, and I have heard of 

316 Deer and Antelope of North America 

triplets. I left the Liard River the 2ist of May 
for the Nahanna Mountains, following up a small 
stream. On my way into the mountains I saw a 
great many tracks of moose, which my Indians 
assured me were those of females, but I did not 
see the track of a single calf. I was not hunting 
for moose, but was travelling through a splendid 
moose country, and was given the opportunity of 
making some important observations. On May 
26 I killed a cow and a calf; the calf could 
scarcely have been a week old. 

I returned to the Liard by the same route I 
had gone on May 30, and young calf tracks 
were numerous in the sands along the stream, 
and from numerous observations I have made I 
believe the majority of the calves are dropped 
between May 20 and June 20. I have, how- 
ever, discovered frequent irregularities in the 
breeding of many varieties of wild animals, and 
such irregularities, though not common, are 
found among the moose. While on the Kenai 
Peninsula in November, 1900, I ran across a 
young cow with a calf not more than eight weeks 
old. I spent ten days in trying to secure the pair, 
but failed, owing to the difficulty of travel in the 
deep snow, but we ran across their tracks every 
day during this time, and I saw them on several 
occasions. A calf always remains with the mother 
during its first winter, and sometimes longer. It 

The Moose 317 

is a very common sight to see a mother with her 
year-old and baby moose together. But when a 
mother is preparing for a new offspring she en- 
deavors to forsake the company of her one-year- 
old, and she is usually successful. She will resort 
to methods that indicate her cunning and reason- 
ing power. She will wander about in a valley 
near some stream, and while her yearling is lying 
down she will feed off alone to the stream and 
swim across, then run rapidly down the other side 
around a bend out of sight, and again taking to 
the stream may swim down it for a mile or so 
and out again, keeping up this game until she is 
confident of having lost the yearling completely. 
After this, another move which is a very common 
one is to swim to some island in the stream, 
which she will travel all over for the purpose of 
ascertaining if it is free from enemies. If she 
finds it to be, she will remain there until her calf 
is about two weeks old, when she will start with 
it to the mainland. The little fellow will have 
no difficulty in keeping afloat, but the rapid cur- 
rent nearly everywhere in the northern rivers 
would carry it down stream if left alone, and the 
fond mother understands this, and with the affec- 
tion that a moose mother knows she gets below 
it, so that the calf swimming and resting against 
the mother's side is steered in safety to the main- 

318 Deer and Antelope of North America 

Moose are great swimmers and think nothing 
of crossing lakes and streams miles in width. 
Notwithstanding the strong tides of Kachemak 
Bay, Cook Inlet, a young bull, only two or three 
years ago, swam from a point near Yukon Island 
across Kachemak Bay to Homer Spit, a distance 
of over eight miles. I have travelled the same 
course in a light-boat, with good oarsmen, going 
with the tide, and we were over two hours row- 
ing it. Just how long the moose was in swim- 
ming it I did not learn, but I was assured by a 
man entirely responsible who was living on 
Homer Spit, and who saw the feat, that the 
animal was not at all exhausted when he landed. 

Possibilities of Extinction. The moose will 
not soon become extinct. The advent of the 
prospector in Alaska, thousands of men scattered 
through its range armed with the best of rifles, 
is creating awful havoc in its numbers, and very 
especially is this the case in the region of the 
Klondyke and Stewart rivers. Sportsmen and 
professional hunters are combining to make its 
existence on the Kenai Peninsula intolerable. 
And in almost all parts of the North the sleuth- 
like Indian is on its trail, equipped with modern 
rifle and plenty of ammunition. The moose is 
having a very different time from what it had a 
few years ago, but its wits, always alert, are 
being further trained, and its wonderful sense of 

The Moose 319 

smell and hearing help out of many a scrape. So 
keen are its perceptions of danger, and so silently 
and rapidly can it leave all danger behind, that the 
best trained hunter is repeatedly made to recog- 
nize his own stupidity when the wits of the two 
are brought into competition. Some of the many 
other circumstances favoring the moose are the 
splendid cover of their range, their failure to 
herd in large numbers like the caribou, their 
great strength and hardihood, the immensity of 
their territory, so far removed from contact with 
civilization, and the fact that while Indians are 
now much better equipped than in former years 
for moose destruction, their numbers are rapidly 
decreasing rather than increasing. Around the 
head waters of the Stickine, Pelly, Liard, and 
Nelson rivers in northwest British Columbia, is 
a country of vast extent shut in from all the rest 
of the world, a great untrodden wilderness. It 
is a favorite range of the moose. The Indians, 
one of its enemies, are dying; and no better 
proof of the inability of the wolf to cope with the 
moose under ordinary circumstances is necessary 
than that right in the very heart of this great 
moose range I have known wolves in awful hun- 
ger to prey upon their own numbers through 
inability to capture the moose. 

Hunting. To become a successful moose 
hunter is to reduce hunting to a science, and to 

320 Deer and Antelope of North America 

undertake to describe the features involved and 
the methods of the hunt in detail would require 
a volume; moreover the art is one that can be 
acquired only by actual experience, and all that 
could be written for the uninitiated would be of 
but slight service. To know how to hunt any 
animal is to know its habits and peculiarities. 
The habits of the moose are not so difficult to 
learn, but he lives so much in the thick brush 
that many of his little eccentricities are hard to 
understand, and require much time and patience 
to master them. Very much depends upon the 
time of year in which one is hunting, as to the 
methods employed. September 15 to November 
15 is the best season, but in countries where it is 
necessary to protect the animals they should not 
be hunted before the isth of October. When 
the hunter pitches his camp right in the thick 
of a moose country he should select, if possible, 
some very secluded nook. He should avoid, as 
much as possible, chopping, or making any kind 
of noise. He must live quietly, avoid unnecessary 
big camp-fires, and leave the pipe in camp when 
setting out for the hunt. The scent of the pipe 
will travel much farther on the wind than the 
scent of the hunter. Decide upon the country to 
be hunted; ascertain the direction of the wind, 
and make your detour so as to penetrate the 
hunting-ground in the face of the wind. If the 

Tbe Moose 321 

wind shifts, change the course of travel to suit, 
or work back and forth, quartering to the wind. 
Be very careful in turning a point of the woods 
or in mounting the crest of a ridge. Eyes and 
ears should be alert; don't be in a hurry; the 
greatest precaution is always necessary. Keep a 
sharp lookout for footprints ; if fortunate enough 
to find fresh ones, ascertain the general direction 
in which the animal is feeding, If trace of the 
hoofs is lost, observe the croppings from the brush, 
the direction the grass or weeds are bent, the 
freshly overturned leaf, and, better than all, esti- 
mate if the animal had passed this point since 
the wind was from the present point of the com- 
pass ; if it has, you can afford to take chances on 
its feeding and travelling with the wind. Note 
the contour of the country ahead, and calculate 
upon the character of it as nearly as possible, and 
where the animal in its leisure would be most 
likely to wander; skirt this at a safe distance 
either to right or left, as most favorable, keeping 
to the highest ground as affording an opportu- 
nity to overlook the route taken by the quarry. 
Never get in a hurry; never allow yourself to 
get in the wind of the animal. If now and then 
the locality favors doing so, climb a tree and care- 
fully scan the country in every direction. Re- 
member, when it gets along toward ten o'clock 
the animal is very apt to lie down for a rest, and 

322 Deer and Antelope of North America 

will likely remain very nearly where it stops 
feeding until well into the afternoon. This is 
the time of day for the hunter to rest all save 
his eyes ; the eyes must never rest while moose 

If in pursuing the moose in this manner the 
course of its path becomes uncertain, the hunter 
may select some favorable point and approach 
at right angles for the purpose of determining 
whether or not he has passed the animal or if 
it has changed its course ; but he must remember 
that when the time comes for the animal to rest 
it nearly always doubles back to the right or left 
of its trail a short distance. One very striking 
peculiarity in the animal's actions at such a time 
is that just before lying down it will run for a 
short distance, as if in play, stopping suddenly, 
as if acting under orders, when reaching the point 
upon which it desires to rest. Very especially is 
this little run apt to be indulged in if there are 
two or more animals together. It cost me two or 
three moose to learn this. I was once following 
three animals in deep snow. I was to the left of 
them, and had travelled such a distance that I 
became anxious to locate their trail, and I cau- 
tiously made my way to the right to intersect 
their course, if possible. I did not go more than 
three hundred yards until I came into their very 
fresh trail. I climbed a tree and scanned the 

The Moose 323 

country ahead, locating nothing more than the 
trail for some distance through the snow. I fol- 
lowed this for a short space, and came to where 
the animals had been running, making great 
strides. I calculated that it was all up with me, 
but decided to follow their tracks around a point 
that I might get one more look in the direction 
they had gone, the perfectly natural instinct of 
a hunter. This was a fatal move ; they had 
stopped short, and were lying down just behind 
a bunch of spruce not three hundred yards from 
where they had left a walk. On my approach 
they said good-by through this clump of pines 
which screened them from a rifle ball. 

A breezy day is always best for moose hunting, 
as the bluster of the wind makes it unnecessary 
for the hunter to be absolutely noiseless. The 
same general principles may be applied in hunt- 
ing moose in any part of their country pre- 
suming that the hunter stalks his own game 
unsupported by guides or Indians. Few hunters 
who visit the Maine woods for moose acquire 
knowledge of the hunt that would be very help- 
ful to them, if thrown upon their own resources 
in trackless regions of great extent. There is no 
game field in America that so nearly affords the 
hunter a parlor moose hunt as the woods of 
Maine ; but the man who simply enjoys camp 
life, and is not especially desirous of becoming 

324 Deer and Antelope of North America 

an expert hunter, will find greater pleasure in the 
game fields of Maine than in wilder and more iso- 
lated regions. 

Previous to the advent of the rifle in the North, 
the natives secured nearly all their moose by set- 
ting rawhide snares for them, but now they much 
prefer the rifle. In winter when the snow is deep 
they will often put on a very large pair of snow- 
shoes (a shoe slightly longer than they are tall) 
and with these travel with very great ease over 
the deepest, softest snow in pursuit of this royal 
game. Often when fortunate enough to run onto 
the fresh trail of an animal they will follow it for 
two or three days if necessary, rather than come 
to camp without it. In the practice of this sort 
of hunting they often perform some remarkable 
feats, things that but few white men would care 
to undertake, for there are few white men that 
care to or can follow so powerful an animal, until 
it is run to a standstill, when it has once made up 
its mind to leave him behind. 

I have known but one white man capable of 
doing this, or who had really trained himself to 
do it. He lived and hunted in the Cassiar coun- 
try, northwest British Columbia. He told me he 
once followed a moose for three days in bitter 
cold weather before killing it. When he did get 
it he was a long way from home, and very much 
worn out. He dressed the animal before it had 

The Moose 325 

time to freeze, and then after a hearty feed of 
steaks decided to have a well-earned rest before 
returning home. Spreading the large skin on 
the top of the snow, hair side up, then his own 
single blanket on top of that, he rolled himself up 
in them completely and fell asleep. When he 
awoke the next day the heavy green skin had 
frozen solid and held him perfectly fast. He rec- 
ognized his unenviable position, and commenced 
to struggle violently for freedom. Luckily he was 
very near the edge of a bench of earth several feet 
high, which in his struggle he rolled down. The 
moose skin struck a tree at the bottom and being 
frozen very hard broke from the jar and released 
him. I can readily believe this, because extreme 
low temperature would render such a green skin 
almost as brittle as glass. 



Game preserves, II, 19. 

Moose extermination, 6. 

Wapiti extermination, 131-132. 

Whitetail hunting, etc., 66, 72, 83. 

Caribou decrease, 279. 

Kenai Peninsula, see that title. 

Moose ranges, 294, 299, 303, 318. 
Alces americanus species of 

moose, 293, 299. 
Alces gigas species of moose, 293, 

Alleghany Mountains 

Wapiti extermination, 132. 

Whitetail range, 66, 71. 

Little Missouri range, 46. 

Pronghorn, see that title, 
Antlers and horns 

Caribou, 259, 260, 263, 279-280, 

Columbia black tail, 254. 

Elk, 190. 

Moose, 299-300. 

Mule-deer, 9-10, 29-30. 

Pacific coast mule-deer, 219-220. 

Pronghorn antelope, shedding 
horns, 98. 

Wapiti, 131. 

Whitetail, see that title. 
Arctic regions caribou range, 260, 
272, 273, 274. 

Bad Lands 

Blacktail range, 10. 

Bad Lands [continued] 

Mule-deer haunts, 10, 31, 34, 37, 

45, 49, 53, 67. 
Whitetail range, 34. 
Barren-ground caribou 
Breeding, 274-276. 
Characteristics and habits, 273- 

Differences from other species, 

261, 280-282, 286-287. 
Flesh of, 276. 
Horn-shedding, 279. 
Migration, 274, 275. 
Range Arctic regions, 260, 

272, 273, 274. 
Utility as food, clothing, etc., 


[See also Caribou.] 

Black bear ranges, 66. 
Grizzly bear, shooting, 80. 
Big Horn Mountains 
Mule-deer habits, 44-45. 
Wapiti extermination, 134. 

Extermination compared with 

wapiti, 101. 
Hunting, qualities developed by, 


Range of, 67. 
Bird dog trained to point deer, 241, 


Bison, see Buffalo. 

Black bear and whitetail ranges, 66. 
Black Hills, pronghorn wintering 

place, 103, 104. 





Bounding movement, 77. 

Columbia blacktail, see that title. 

Mule-deer of the Pacific coast, 
see that title. 

Rocky Mountain blacktail, see 


Bolson de Mapimi mule-deer hunt- 
ing, 193- 
British Columbia 

Caribou species, 285. 

Elk hunting, 172. 

Moose ranges, 294, 302. 
Bronx Zoological Garden 

Antelope, tameness,etc., 108-109. 

Wapiti and whitetail breeding, 61 . 

Extinction of, 16, 17. 

Name, origin of, 3, 7. 
Butchery of game, 18, 20-22, 25, 
230-231, 271-273. 

Cactus food of mule-deer, 192-194. 

Chaparral, 199, 227. 

Deer ranges, 226, 227, 256. 


Decrease, 166, 171, 172, 187. 
Size of, 190. 
Mule-deer, 194, 195, 196, 197, 


Moose ranges in Lower Canada, 

292, 298, 307. 
Mule-deer ranges, 30. 

Antlers, 259, 260, 263, 279-280, 


Appearance, 259-260. 
Barren-ground caribou, see that 


Habits, 261. 
Range, 6, 259. 

Species, distinction between, 259, 
261, 280-287. 

Caribou [continued"} 

Woodland caribou, see that title. 

Deer ranges, 227, 229, 237. 
Elk hunting, 184, 187. 
Cassiar Mountains moose range, 

294, 302. 

Caton, Judge deer's vision, opin- 
ion, 102. 

Chaparral of California, 199, 227. 
Coast blacktail, see Mule-deer of 

the Pacific coast. 
Coast Range 

Blacktail range, 229, 236, 241. 
Elk decrease, 170, 171, 174, 


Extermination of deer compared, 


Mule-deer habits, 38-42. 
Preservation of game, 22, 31, 32, 


Pronghorn range, 103. 
Wapiti range, 133, 134, 146. 
Columbia blacktail 
Antlers, 254. 

Bouncing movement, 247-248. 
Breeding, 251-252. 
Compared with Virginia and 

mule-deer, 253-256. 
Description, tail, horns, etc., 226, 

Food, 231, 232. 
Habits, 233. 
Hunting, difficulties, etc., 235- 

Dogs trained to point deer, 


Hounding, 244-245. 
Skulking in brush, 240, 241. 
Still-hunting, 241-245. 
Tracking, 233-234, 252-253. 
Keenness of senses scent of 

man, 237-239. 
Migration, 229-230, 251. 



Columbia blacktail \_continued~\ 
Range, 226-232. 

Heavy brush, 227, 236. 
Watching back track, 252. 
Watering, 233. 
Coquille River blacktail hunting, 


Crusting method of hunting deer, 
75. 82. 


Habits, variability of, 101-103. 

Hunting, see that title. 

Nomenclature of, see that title. 

Preservation, see that title. 

Species of, 4-5. 

\_See also names of species, Moose, 

Caribou, etc. 

" Depouille " fat of caribou, 276. 
Dodge, Col. characteristics of 

wapiti, 1 02. 

Hounds, see that title. 

Pointing deer still-hunting 
blacktail, 241. 

Pronghorn hunting, 127. 


Round-horned, see Wapiti. 
Yellowstone Park preservation, 


Elk of the Pacific coast 
California, see that title. 
Feeding and hiding, 187-188. 
Habits, 190. 
Horns, 190. 
Hunting, 172-191. 

Chasing elk, 177-179. 
Forest scenery, 179-184. 
Judgment of elk compared 
with deer, 174-176, 182, 
Retreat and decrease of elk, 

167-172, 174. 
Size of, 190. 

Elkhorn ranch -house 
Pronghorn hunting, 1 1 2. 
Wapiti hunting, 151, 152. 
[See also Little Missouri.] 

Eskimo caribou hunting, 278. 

Extermination of game, prevention, 
see Preservation. 


Columbia blacktail, 246. 
Whitetail, 82-86. 

Game, see Deer. 

Game laws, see Preservation of game. 

Greenland species of caribou, 282, 

Greyhounds pronghorn hunting, 

Grinnell, G. B. deer's vision, opin- 
ion, 102. 

Grizzly bear, shooting, 80. 

Horns, see Antlers and horns. 
Horseback hunting, n, 80, 82, 89, 

115-122, 127. 
Hounds, hunting with 
Blacktail, 244-245. 
Mule-deer, brush cover, 199, 201, 

Whitetail, 86-90. 
Bighorn, 80. 

Columbia blacktail, see that title. 
Costume, 13. 
Dogs, see that title. 
Elk of the Pacific coast, see that 


Equipment, 13-14. 
Fire-hunting, see that title. 
Horseback hunting, n, 80, 82, 

89, 115-122, 127. 
Hounds, see that title. 
Jacking, 82, 84. 
Judgment of deer compared with 

elk, 174-176, 182, 189. 
Long Island methods, 88. 



Hunting [continued^ 
Moose, see that title. 
Mule-deer, 52-61. 
Mule-deer of the Pacific coast, 

see that title. 
Preservation of game, see that 


Pronghorn, see that title. 
Qualities developed by, 24-27, 

Rifle for, 12. 

Shifting for one's self, 14-16, 79. 
Spanish Californians, skill of, 172. 
Virginia deer, 175. 
Wagon trips, 119-121, 124. 
Wapiti, 140, 147-164. 
Whitetail, see that title. 
Woodland caribou, see that title. 

Ice caribou pursuit, 268, 269. 

Caribou destruction, 273, 275, 

Moose hunting, 302, 304, 319. 

Jacking whitetail sport, 82, 84. 

Kenai Peninsula, Alaska 

Caribou decrease and species, 279, 

Moose range, 292-294, 298, 299, 

302, 309, 3i8. 

Liard River moose, 294, 298, 299, 

302, 303, 3H, 3i6. 
Little Missouri 

Antelope range, 46. 

Elkhorn ranch-house, see that 

Extermination of deer compared, 

Mule-deer haunts and habits, 31, 

37. 45 53- 

Pronghorn migration, 103, 104. 
Types of country, 67-68. 

Little Missouri [continued] 
Wapiti range, 151. 
Whitetail habits, 72. 
Long Island, deer-hunting methods, 

Louisiana, whitetail habits, etc., 71, 


Lower California mule-deer, 194, 
I95 J 97 226. 

Mclllhenny, J. A. whitetail habits, 

etc., 71, 89. 

Mackenzie delta, moose range, 303. 

Game laws enforcement, increase 

of moose, 70. 
Moose ranges, 292-294, 298, 303, 

307 323. 
Market hunters destruction of 

game, 21-22. 
Mexico, mule-deer hunting, 30, 193, 

Migration of deer 

Caribou, 271, 272, 274, 275. 

Columbian blacktail, 229-230^ 

Mule-deer, 37-38. 

Pronghorn, 103. 

Wapiti, 145, 146. 
Miller, G. S. Kenai moose, 299. 
Mississippi valley, whitetail range, 66. 
Missouri River 

Whitetail range, 100. 

[See also Little Missouri.] 

Deer extermination, 69. 

Mule-deer preservation, game 
laws, 32, 63. 

Wapiti range, 133, 134. 

Antlers, 299-300. 

Breeding, moose fights, etc., 309- 

3io> 3I5-3I7- 

Call, imitation and recognition 
of, 310-312. 



Moose \_continued~\ 
Calves, 294, 298. 

Pet calf incident, 315. 
Charging, 143, 314. 
Color, 298. 
Extinction possibilities, 6, 69-71, 

3<>3 304, 318-319- 
Food, 307-309. 
Habits, 304-318. 
Hunting, 292, 319-325. 

Frozen skin anecdote, 325. 

Still-hunting, 80. 
Measurement, rapid growth, 294- 

Range, 5-6, 294, 301-304. 

Forest country, 291. 

Winter range, 305. 
Species and characteristics, 292- 


Swimming, 317-318. 
Weight, 297. 
Wolves, enemy of moose, 305- 

307, 319. 

Mule-deer, or Rocky Mountain black- 

Breeding, 49-51. 

Description of, 9-10, 28-30. 

Enemies of, 43. 

Gait, 47, 77. 

Habits, variation in, 33-47. 

Horns, 9-10, 29-30. 

Hunting, 52-61. 

Migration, 37-38. 

Name, 28. 

Preservation, 31-33, 61-64. 

Range rates of extermination, 
!0, 30-35' 6l - 6 9 99-iQO. 

Wire fences, passing through, 


Young, 48-49. 

Mule-deer of the Pacific coast 
Antlers and horns, 219-220. 
Compared with Columbia black- 
tail, 253-256. 
Description, 10, 197, 219-223. 

Mule-deer of the Pacific coast '[con- 

Destruction of grapevines, etc., 

Food, 192-195. 

Gait, 198. 

Habits and movements, 212-216. 

Hunting, 175, 198-207, 210-219. 
Brush deer cover, 199-201, 


Hounds, use of, 199, 201, 

Lower Californian deer, 194, 195, 
197, 226. 

Range, 192-197, 227. 

Senses, 202-204. 

Shrewdness, 205. 

Varieties, 195-197, 222. 

Venison, 223. 

Watering, 193-194. 

Weight, 195, 196. 
"Mule-tailed deer" variety, 196, 


Nahanna River country moose 

ranges, 302-303, 316. 
Names of deer, see Nomenclature. 
Naturalist qualities of hunter, 26-27. 
New England 

Moose decrease, 69-71. 
Whitetail range, 69-71. 
Newfoundland, caribou, hunting, etc., 

268, 270, 271 , 283. 
New Hampshire, game preserves, 1 1, 


New Mexico, pronghorn herds, 103. 
Nomenclature of deer, 2-4. 
Mule -deer, 28. 
Virginia deer, 4. 
Wapiti, 7. 
Whitetail, 9. 
Northwest Territory, moose ranges, 


Nova Scotia, caribou specimens, 



Blacktail hunting, 230, 232. 
Elk hunting, 172, 182. 

Pacific coast 

Blacktail, see Mule-deer of the 

Pacific coast. 
Elk of the Pacific coast, see that 


Wapiti range, 9. 

Pronghorn ranges attraction of 
hunting, 98, 104-105, 119, 


Types of country along plains 

river, 67-68. 
Prairies, see Plains. 
Preservation of game 

Adirondacks, u, 19. 

Bronx Zoological Garden, see that 

Eutchery of game, 18, 20-22, 25, 
230-231, 271-273. 

Civilized countries, game pre- 
served by sportsmen, 148. 

Game laws enforcement, 19-20, 
22, 31-33, 63, 70. 

Mule-deer, 31-33, 61-64. 

New Hampshire, n, 19. 

Rates of extermination in differ- 
ent localities, 16-18, 46, 
69-71, 99. 

Whitetail, 70. 

Yellowstone Park, elk preserva- 
tion, 23. 

Prickly pear mule-deer food, 193. 
Professional hunters, destruction of 

game, 21-22. 

ftongbuck, see Pronghorn antelope. 
Pronghorn antelope, or prongbuck 

Breeding, 109-110. 

Enemies, ill. 

Gait, 77. 

Hair, 10, 98. 

Horns, shedding, 98. 

Pronghorn antelope [continued] 
Hunting, 111-130. 

Greyhound chasing, 127. 
Running, pronghorn dislike to 
abandon course, 128-130. 
Slinging carcass to saddle, 119. 
Wagon trips, 119-121, 124. 
Water scarcity, 116. 
Migration, 103. 

Observation and curiosity in time 
of danger, 106, 114, 123. 
Range of, 10, 68-69. 

Broken country avoided, 105. 
Extermination compared with 

other deer, 98-101. 
Plains, 98, 104-105, 119, 122. 
Wintering places, 103-105. 
Young, taming, etc., 107-109. 

Queen Charlotte Islands caribou 
species, 285. 

R. caribou, R. terranova, and others 
species of caribou, 284- 
Rangifer arcticus caribou species, 

Rangifer gr&nlandicus caribou 

species, 281. 
Rangifer tarandus reindeer of 

Scandinavia, 283. 

Reindeer of Scandinavia and Spitz - 
bergen species of cari- 
bou, 283. 

Rifle for deer hunting, 12. 
Rocky Mountain blacktail, see Mule- 

Rocky Mountains 
Elk, size of, 190. 
Extermination of deer compared, 


Mule-deer range, 10, 30, 31. 
Wapiti range, 9, 133, 140, 150, 

152, 153, 154. 
Whitetail range, 66. 



Rogue River Mountains, blacktail 

hunting, 232. 
Round-horned elk, see Wapiti. 

Sacramento valley elk, 168, 169. 
San Joaquin valley elk, 167, 169. 
Scandinavia reindeer species of 

caribou, 283. 
Sheffield, J. R. moose and deer in 

northern Maine, 70. 
Shooting, see Hunting. 
Sierra Nevada 

Deer ranges, 226, 227. 
Mule-deer, 195. 
"Slow-tracking dog" blacktail 

still-hunting, 241, 243. 

Caribou chase, 267-270. 
Whitetail habits in winter, 74-76. 
Soldiers hunters' qualities, 24, 79, 

Spanish Californians, hunting skill, 

Spitzbergen reindeer species of 

caribou, 283. 
Stalking caribou, 266. 

Columbia blacktail, 241-245. 
Elk, 187. 
Moose, 80. 

Pacific coast mule-deer, 224. 
Whitetail, 81. 

Woodland caribou, 264-265. 
Stone, A. J. caribou specimens, 

{note'} 285. 
Swamps caribou still-hunting, 264. 

Virginia deer 

Compared with Columbia black- 
tail, 253-255. 

Distinction from Pacific coast 
blacktail, 226. 

Food, 195. 

Gait, 198, 199. 

Hunting chances, 175. 

Virginia deer \continued~\ 
Leaping movement, 247. 
Name, 4. 
Watching back track, 252. 

Wagon trips, 119-121, 124. 
Wapiti, or round-horned elk 
Antlers, 131. 
Banding into herds, 138. 
Breeding, 136-142, 156. 
Calves, 139, 141. 
Challenge, 137, 154, 156. 
Characteristics, 102. 
Charging, 143. 
Description, 8. 

Extermination compared with 
other deer, 8, loo-ioi, 
131-135, 145, 149. 
Fighting, 141-142. 
Gait, 141, 144. 
Hunting, 140, 147-164. 

Beauty of country, 149-151. 
Migration, 145, 146. 
Name, 7. 
Range, 6, 8, 9. 
Scent, 155. 
Stupidity in time of danger, 


Washington state, elk hunting, 172. 

Columbia blacktail, watering, 233. 
Mule-deer of Pacific coast, water- 
ing, I93-J94. 
Prongbuck hunting, 116. 
Antlers, 9. 

Interlocked antlers white- 
tail fight, 76-77. 
Breeding, 71, 74, 76. 
Extermination compared with 
other deer, 65-71, 99-100. 
Feeding, 72-74. 

Habits, variation in, 65, 71-77,96. 
Hunting, 78-97. 
Crusting, 75, 82. 



Whitetail [continued] 

Hunting [continued] 
Fire-hunting, 82-86. 
Hounding, 86-90. 
Still-hunting, 81. 

Movements, grace of, 77. 

Name, 9. 

Preservation, 70. 

Range, 9, 30, 33-34. 

Snow season, 74-76. 

Swimming, 87. 

Virginia deer, see that title. 

Yards formed by, 74-76. 
Wilcox, A. wapiti hunting, 136. 
Wolves enemies of deer, 44, 305- 

307, 319. 

Woodland caribou 
Antlers, 263. 
Breeding, 262, 263. 
Color, 263. 
Differences from other species, 

161, 280-287. 
Food, 262. 
Forest dwellers, 260, 261. 

Woodland caribou [continued] 
Habits, 261-262. 
Hoofs, 268. 
Hunting, 263-273. 

Ice, pursuit on, 268, 269. 
Newfoundland, butchery, 

Snow-shoes, chasing deer on, 

Stalking, 266. 
Still-hunting, 264-265. 
Migration, 271, 272. 
Weight, 273. 
[See also Caribou.] 

Deer extermination, 69. 
Mule-deer preservation, 32, 63, 

Wapiti range, 133, 134, 146. 

Yards, whitetail, 74-76. 
Yellowstone Park 

Elk preservation, 23. 

Wapiti range, 134, 146. 



To be completed in ten volumes, with numerous illustrations 

Each of these volumes will be prepared by a writer, or group 
of writers, thoroughly in sympathy with the work, and fitted 
for his special subject. The series will be under the editorial 
supervision of MR. CASPAR WHITNEY, the editor of Outing, and 
for many years sporting editor of Harper's Weekly. 

THE DEER FAMILY. By Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, T. S. 
Van Dyke, and H. G. Stone. Illustrated by CARL RUNGIUS. 
Now ready. Price $2.00, net. 

UPLAND GAME BIRDS. By Edwyn Sandys. Illustrated 
Now ready. Price $2.00, net. 

SALMON AND TROUT. By Dean Sage and William C. 
Harris. Illustrated by A. B. FROST and others. Now ready. 
Price $2.00, net. 

Further volumes will include articles on the Bear Family, 
Water Fowl, Wild Fowl, Taxidermy, etc., Cougar, Wild Cat, 
Wolf, Fox, etc., Tuna, Tarpon, etc., Bass, Perch, Pickerel, etc. 



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