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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN




Non si può dire di conoscere l'inglese se non si è in grado di capire le grandi opere che sono state scritte in questa lingua: i classici. E in questa sezione te ne offriamo una notevole selezione. Come strumenti ausiliari per la comprensione e la pronuncia trovi il dizionario di Babylon, il lettore automatico di ReadSpeaker e la traduzione interattiva di FGA Translate. Per attivarla basta selezionare una porzione qualsiasi di testo e, immediatamente, la traduzione in italiano comparirà in una finestrella. Qualora si desideri evitare la sovrapposizione della traduzione e dell'audio di ReadSpeaker è possibile deselezionare la casella della traduzione interattiva on/off. Dato che la pagina contiene tutta l'opera, per ascoltare le porzioni di testo successive a quelle iniziali anziché premere il pulsante Ascolta il testo si può selezionare la porzione di testo che si vuole ascoltare e poi cliccare sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla porzione di testo selezionato.

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By WILLIAM T. HORNADAY, Superintendent of the National Zoological Park





I. Discovery of the species II. Geographical distribution III. Abundance IV. Character of the species 1. The buffalo's rank amongst ruminants 2. Change of form in captivity 3. Mounted specimens in museums 4. The calf 5. The yearling 6. The spike bull 7. The adult bull 8. The cow in the third year 9. The adult cow 10. The "Wood" or "Mountain Buffalo" 11. The shedding of the winter pelage V. Habits of the buffalo VI. The food of the buffalo VII. Mental capacity and disposition of the buffalo VIII. Value to mankind IX. Economic value of the bison to Western cattle-growers 1. The bison in captivity and domestication 2. Need of an improvement in range cattle 3. Character of the buffalo-domestic hybrid 4. The bison as a beast of burden 5. List of bison herds and individuals in captivity


I. Causes of the extermination II. Methods of slaughter 1. The "still hunt" 2. The chase on horseback 3. Impounding 4. The surround 5. Decoying and driving 6. Hunting on snow-shoes III. Progress of the extermination A. The period of desultory destruction B. The period of systematic slaughter 1. The Red River half-breeds 2. The country of the Sioux 3. Western railways, and their part in the extermination of the buffalo 4. The division of the universal herd 5. The destruction of the southern herd 6. Statistics of the slaughter 7. The destruction of the northern herd IV. Legislation to prevent useless slaughter V. Completeness of the wild buffalo's extirpation VI. Effects of the disappearance of the bison VII. Preservation of the species from absolute extinction


I. The exploration for specimens II. The hunt III. The mounted group in the National Museum



Group of buffaloes in the National Museum Head of bull buffalo Slaughter of buffalo on Kansas Pacific Railroad Buffalo cow, calf, and yearling Spike bull Bull buffalo Bull buffalo, rear view The development of the buffalo's horns A dead bull Buffalo skinners at work Five minutes' work Scene on the northern buffalo range Half-breed calf Half-breed buffalo (domestic) cow Young half-breed bull The still-hunt The chase on horseback Cree Indians impounding buffalo The surround Indians on snow-shoes hunting buffaloes Where the millions have gone Trophies of the hunt


Sketch map of the hunt for buffalo Map illustrating the extermination of the American bison


It is hoped that the following historical account of the discovery, partial utilization, and almost complete extermination of the great American bison may serve to cause the public to fully realize the folly of allowing all our most valuable and interesting American mammals to be wantonly destroyed in the same manner. The wild buffalo is practically gone forever, and in a few more years, when the whitened bones of the last bleaching skeleton shall have been picked up and shipped East for commercial uses, nothing will remain of him save his old, well-worn trails along the water-courses, a few museum specimens, and regret for his fate. If his untimely end fails even to point a moral that shall benefit the surviving species of mammals "which are now being slaughtered in like manner", it will be sad indeed.

Although "Bison americanus" is a true bison, according to scientific classification, and not a buffalo, the fact that more than sixty millions of people in this country unite in calling him a "buffalo," and know him by no other name, renders it quite unnecessary for me to apologize for following, in part, a harmless custom which has now become so universal that all the naturalists in the world could not change it if they would.

W. T. H.



"Superintendent of the National Zoological Park."



The discovery of the American bison, as first made by Europeans, occurred in the menagerie of a heathen king.

In the year 1521, when Cortez reached Anahuac, the American bison was seen for the first time by civilized Europeans, if we may be permitted to thus characterize the horde of blood thirsty plunder seekers who fought their way to the Aztec capital. With a degree of enterprise that marked him as an enlightened monarch, Montezuma maintained, for the instruction of his people, a well-appointed menagerie, of which the historian De Solis wrote as follows (1724):

"In the second Square of the same House were the Wild Beasts, which were either presents to Montezuma, or taken by his Hunters, in strong Cages of Timber, rang'd in good Order, and under Cover: Lions, Tygers, Bears, and all others of the savage Kind which New-Spain produced; among which the greatest Rarity was the Mexican Bull; a wonderful composition of divers Animals. It has crooked Shoulders, with a Bunch on its Back like a Camel; its Flanks dry, its Tail large, and its Neck cover'd with Hair like a Lion. It is cloven footed, its Head armed like that of a Bull, which it resembles in Fierceness, with no less strength and Agility."

Thus was the first seen buffalo described. The nearest locality from whence it could have come was the State of Coahuila, in northern Mexico, between 400 and 500 miles away, and at that time vehicles were unknown to the Aztecs. But for the destruction of the whole mass of the written literature of the Aztecs by the priests of the Spanish Conquest, we might now be reveling in historical accounts of the bison which would make the oldest of our present records seem of comparatively recent date.

Nine years after the event referred to above, or in 1530, another Spanish explorer, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza, afterwards called Cabeza de Vaca--or, in other words "Cattle Cabeza," the prototype of our own distinguished "Buffalo Bill"--was wrecked on the Gulf coast, west of the delta of the Mississippi, from whence he wandered westward through what is now the State of Texas. In southeastern Texas he discovered the American bison on his native heath. So far as can be ascertained, this was the earliest discovery of the bison in a wild state, and the description of the species as recorded by the explorer is of historical interest. It is brief and superficial. The unfortunate explorer took very little interest in animated nature, except as it contributed to the sum of his daily food, which was then the all-important subject of his thoughts. He almost starved. This is all he has to say:[1]

[Note 1: Davis' Spanish Conquest of New Mexico. 1869. P. 67.]

"Cattle come as far as this. I have seen them three times, and eaten of their meat. I think they are about the size of those in Spain. They have small horns like those of Morocco, and the hair long and flocky, like that of the merino. Some are light brown ("pardillas") and others black. To my judgment the flesh is finer and sweeter than that of this country [Spain]. The Indians make blankets of those that are not full grown, and of the larger they make shoes and bucklers. They come as far as the sea-coast of Florida [now Texas], and in a direction from the north, and range over a district of more than 400 leagues. In the whole extent of plain over which they roam, the people who live bordering upon it descend and kill them for food, and thus a great many skins are scattered throughout the country."

Coronado was the next explorer who penetrated the country of the buffalo, which he accomplished from the west, by way of Arizona and New Mexico. He crossed the southern part of the "Pan-handle" of Texas, to the edge of what is now the Indian Territory, and returned through the same region. It was in the year 1542 that he reached the buffalo country, and traversed the plains that were "full of crooke-backed oxen, as the mountaine Serena in Spaine is of sheepe." This is the description of the animal as recorded by one of his followers, Castañeda, and translated by W. W. Davis:[2]

[Note 2: The Spanish Conquest of New Mexico. Davis. 1869. Pp. 206-7.]

"The first time we encountered the buffalo, all the horses took to flight on seeing them, for they are horrible to the sight.

"They have a broad and short face, eyes two palms from each other, and projecting in such a manner sideways that they can see a pursuer. Their beard is like that of goats, and so long that it drags the ground when they lower the head. They have, on the anterior portion of the body, a frizzled hair like sheep's wool; it is very fine upon the croup, and sleek like a lion's mane. Their horns are very short and thick, and can scarcely be seen through the hair. They always change their hair in May, and at this season they really resemble lions. To make it drop more quickly, for they change it as adders do their skins, they roll among the brush-wood which they find in the ravines.

"Their tail is very short, and terminates in a great tuft. When they run they carry it in the air like scorpions. When quite young they are tawny, and resemble our calves; but as age increases they change color and form.

"Another thing which struck us was that all the old buffaloes that we killed had the left ear cloven, while it was entire in the young; we could never discover the reason of this.

"Their wool is so fine that handsome clothes would certainly be made of it, but it can not be dyed for it is tawny red. We were much surprised at sometimes meeting innumerable herds of bulls without a single cow, and other herds of cows without bulls."

Neither De Soto, Ponce de Leon, Vasquez de Ayllon, nor Pamphilo de Narvaez ever saw a buffalo, for the reason that all their explorations were made south of what was then the habitat of that animal. At the time De Soto made his great exploration from Florida northwestward to the Mississippi and into Arkansas (1539-'41) he did indeed pass through country in northern Mississippi and Louisiana that was afterward inhabited by the buffalo, but at that time not one was to be found there. Some of his soldiers, however, who were sent into the northern part of Arkansas, reported having seen buffalo skins in the possession of the Indians, and were told that live buffaloes were to be found 5 or 6 leagues north of their farthest point.

The earliest discovery of the bison in Eastern North America, or indeed anywhere north of Coronado's route, was made somewhere near Washington, District of Columbia, in 1612, by an English navigator named Samuel Argoll,[3] and narrated as follows:

"As soon as I had unladen this corne, I set my men to the felling of Timber, for the building of a Frigat, which I had left half finished at Point Comfort, the 19. of March: and returned myself with the ship into Pembrook [Potomac] River, and so discovered to the head of it, which is about 65 leagues into the Land, and navigable for any ship. And then marching into the Countrie, I found great store of Cattle as big as Kine, of which the Indians that were my guides killed a couple, which we found to be very good and wholesome meate, and are very easie to be killed, in regard they are heavy, slow, and not so wild as other beasts of the wildernesse."

[Note 3: Purchas: His Pilgrimes. (1625.) Vol. IV, p. 1765. "A letter of Sir Samuel Argoll touching his Voyage to Virginia, and actions there. Written to Master Nicholas Hawes, June, 1613."]

It is to be regretted that the narrative of the explorer affords no clew to the precise locality of this interesting discovery, but since it is doubtful that the mariner journeyed very far on foot from the head of navigation of the Potomac, it seems highly probable that the first American bison seen by Europeans, other than the Spaniards, was found within 15 miles, or even less, of the capital of the United States, and possibly within the District of Columbia itself.

The first meeting of the white man with the buffalo on the northern boundary of that animal's habitat occurred in 1679, when Father Hennepin ascended the St. Lawrence to the great lakes, and finally penetrated the great wilderness as far as western Illinois.

The next meeting with the buffalo on the Atlantic slope was in October, 1729, by a party of surveyors under Col. William Byrd, who were engaged in surveying the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia.

As the party journeyed up from the coast, marking the line which now constitutes the interstate boundary, three buffaloes were seen on Sugar-Tree Creek, but none of them were killed.

On the return journey, in November, a bull buffalo was killed on Sugar-Tree Creek, which is in Halifax County, Virginia, within 5 miles of Big Buffalo Creek; longitude 78° 40' W., and 155 miles from the coast.[4] "It was found all alone, tho' Buffaloes Seldom are." The meat is spoken of as "a Rarity," not met at all on the expedition up. The animal was found in thick woods, which were thus feelingly described: "The woods were thick great Part of this Day's Journey, so that we were forced to scuffle hard to advance 7 miles, being equal in fatigue to double that distance of Clear and Open Ground." One of the creeks which the party crossed was christened Buffalo Creek, and "so named from the frequent tokens we discovered of that American Behemoth."

[Note 4: Westover Manuscript. Col. William Byrd. Vol. I, p. 178.]

In October, 1733, on another surveying expedition, Colonel Byrd's party had the good fortune to kill another buffalo near Sugar-Tree Creek, which incident is thus described:[5]

[Note 5: Vol. II, pp. 24, 25.]

"We pursued our journey thro' uneven and perplext woods, and in the thickest of them had the Fortune to knock down a Young Buffalo 2 years old. Providence threw this vast animal in our way very Seasonably, just as our provisions began to fail us. And it was the more welcome, too, because it was change of dyet, which of all Varietys, next to that of Bed-fellows, is the most agreeable. We had lived upon Venison and Bear till our stomachs loath'd them almost as much as the Hebrews of old did their Quails. Our Butchers were so unhandy at their Business that we grew very lank before we cou'd get our Dinner. But when it came, we found it equal in goodness to the best Beef. They made it the longer because they kept Sucking the Water out of the Guts in imitation of the Catauba Indians, upon the belief that it is a great Cordial, and will even make them drunk, or at least very Gay."

A little later a solitary bull buffalo was found, "but spared",[6] the earliest instance of the kind on record, and which had few successors to keep it company.

[Note 6: "Ib.", p. 28.]


The range of the American bison extended over about one-third of the entire continent of North America. Starting almost at tide-water on the Atlantic coast, it extended westward through a vast tract of dense forest, across the Alleghany Mountain system to the prairies along the Mississippi, and southward to the Delta of that great stream. Although the great plains country of the West was the natural home of the species, where it flourished most abundantly, it also wandered south across Texas to the burning plains of northeastern Mexico, westward across the Rocky Mountains into New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho, and northward across a vast treeless waste to the bleak and inhospitable shores of the Great Slave Lake itself. It is more than probable that had the bison remained unmolested by man and uninfluenced by him, he would eventually have crossed the Sierra Nevadas and the Coast Range and taken up his abode in the fertile valleys of the Pacific slope.

Had the bison remained for a few more centuries in undisturbed possession of his range, and with liberty to roam at will over the North American continent, it is almost certain that several distinctly recognizable varieties would have been produced. The buffalo of the hot regions in the extreme south would have become a short-haired animal like the gaur of India and the African buffalo. The individuals inhabiting the extreme north, in the vicinity of Great Slave Lake, for example, would have developed still longer hair, and taken on more of the dense hairyness of the musk ox. In the "wood" or "mountain buffalo" we already have a distinct foreshadowing of the changes which would have taken place in the individuals which made their permanent residence upon rugged mountains.

It would be an easy matter to fill a volume with facts relating to the geographical distribution of "Bison americanus" and the dates of its occurrence and disappearance in the multitude of different localities embraced within the immense area it once inhabited. The capricious shiftings of certain sections of the great herds, whereby large areas which for many years had been utterly unvisited by buffaloes suddenly became overrun by them, could be followed up indefinitely, but to little purpose. In order to avoid wearying the reader with a mass of dates and references, the map accompanying this paper has been prepared to show at a glance the approximate dates at which the bison finally disappeared from the various sections of its habitat. In some cases the date given is coincident with the death of the last buffalo known to have been killed in a given State or Territory; in others, where records are meager, the date given is the nearest approximation, based on existing records. In the preparation of this map I have drawn liberally from Mr. J. A. Allen's admirable monograph of "The American Bison," in which the author has brought together, with great labor and invariable accuracy, a vast amount of historical data bearing upon this subject. In this connection I take great pleasure in acknowledging my indebtedness to Professor Allen's work.

While it is inexpedient to include here all the facts that might be recorded with reference to the discovery, existence, and ultimate extinction of the bison in the various portions of its former habitat, it is yet worth while to sketch briefly the extreme limits of its range. In doing this, our starting point will be the Atlantic slope east of the Alleghanies, and the reader will do well to refer to the large map.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.--There is no indisputable evidence that the bison ever inhabited this precise locality, but it is probable that it did. In 1612 Captain Argoll sailed up the "Pembrook River" to the head of navigation (Mr. Allen believes this was the James River, and not the Potomac) and marched inland a few miles, where he discovered buffaloes, some of which were killed by his Indian guides. If this river was the Potomac, and most authorities believe that it was, the buffaloes seen by Captain Argoll might easily have been in what is now the District of Columbia.

Admitting the existence of a reasonable doubt as to the identity of the Pembrook River of Captain Argoll, there is yet another bit of history which fairly establishes the fact that in the early part of the seventeenth century buffaloes inhabited the banks of the Potomac between this city and the lower falls. In 1624 an English fur trader named Henry Fleet came hither to trade with the Anacostian Indians, who then inhabited the present site of the city of Washington, and with the tribes of the Upper Potomac. In his journal (discovered a few years since in the Lambeth Library, London) Fleet gave a quaint description of the city's site as it then appeared. The following is from the explorer's journal:

"Monday, the 25th June, we set sail for the town of Tohoga, where we came to an anchor 2 leagues short of the falls. * * * This place, without question, is the most pleasant and healthful place in all this country, and most convenient for habitation, the air temperate in summer and not violent in winter. It aboundeth with all manner of fish. The Indians in one night commonly will catch thirty sturgeons in a place where the river is not above 12 fathoms broad, and as for deer, buffaloes, bears, turkeys, the woods do swarm with them. * * * The 27th of June I manned my shallop and went up with the flood, the tide rising about 4 feet at this place. We had not rowed above 3 miles, but we might hear the falls to roar about 6 miles distant."[7]

[Note 7: Charles Burr Todd's "Story of Washington," p. 18. New York, 1889.]

MARYLAND.--There is no evidence that the bison ever inhabited Maryland, except what has already been adduced with reference to the District of Columbia. If either of the references quoted may be taken as conclusive proof, and I see no reason for disputing either, then the fact that the bison once ranged northward from Virginia into Maryland is fairly established. There is reason to expect that fossil remains of "Bison americanus" will yet be found both in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and I venture to predict that this will yet occur.

VIRGINIA.--Of the numerous references to the occurrence of the bison in Virginia, it is sufficient to allude to Col. William Byrd's meetings with buffaloes in 1620, while surveying the southern boundary of the State, about 155 miles from the coast, as already quoted; the references to the discovery of buffaloes on the eastern side of the Virginia mountains, quoted by Mr. Allen from Salmon's "Present State of Virginia," page 14 (London, 1737), and the capture "and domestication" of buffaloes in 1701 by the Huguenot settlers at Manikintown, which was situated on the James River, about 14 miles above Richmond. Apparently, buffaloes were more numerous in Virginia than in any other of the Atlantic States.

NORTH CAROLINA.--Colonel Byrd's discoveries along the interstate boundary between Virginia and North Carolina fixes the presence of the bison in the northern part of the latter State at the date of the survey. The following letter to Prof. G. Brown Goode, dated Birdsnest post-office, Va., August 6, 1888, from Mr. C. R. Moore, furnishes reliable evidence of the presence of the buffalo at another point in North Carolina: "In the winter of 1857 I was staying for the night at the house of an old gentleman named Houston. I should judge he was seventy then. He lived near Buffalo Ford, on the Catawba River, about 4 miles from Statesville, N. C. I asked him how the ford got its name. He told me that his grandfather told him that when he was a boy the buffalo crossed there, and that when the rocks in the river were bare they would eat the moss that grew upon them." The point indicated is in longitude 81° west and the date not far from 1750.

SOUTH CAROLINA.--Professor Allen cites numerous authorities, whose observations furnish abundant evidence of the existence of the buffalo in South Carolina during the first half of the eighteenth century. From these it is quite evident that in the northwestern half of the State buffaloes were once fairly numerous. Keating declares, on the authority of Colhoun, "and we know that some of those who first settled the Abbeville district in South Carolina, in 1756, found the buffalo there."[8] This appears to be the only definite locality in which the presence of the species was recorded.

[Note 8: Long's Expedition to the Source of the St. Peter's River, 1823, II, p. 26.]

GEORGIA.--The extreme southeastern limit of the buffalo in the United States was found on the coast of Georgia, near the mouth of the Altamaha River, opposite St. Simon's Island. Mr. Francis Moore, in his "Voyage to Georgia," made in 1736 and reported upon in 1744,[9] makes the following observation:

[Note 9: Coll. Georgia Hist. Soc., I, p. 117.]

"The island [St. Simon's] abounds with deer and rabbits. There are no buffalo in it, though there are large herds upon the main." Elsewhere in the same document (p. 122) reference is made to buffalo-hunting by Indians on the main-land near Darien.

In James E. Oglethorpe's enumeration (A. D. 1733) of the wild beasts of Georgia and South Carolina he mentions "deer, elks, bears, wolves, and buffaloes."[10]

[Note 10: Ibid., I, p. 51.]

Up to the time of Moore's voyage to Georgia the interior was almost wholly unexplored, and it is almost certain that had not the "large herds of buffalo on the main-land" existed within a distance of 20 or 30 miles or less from the coast, the colonists would have had no knowledge of them; nor would the Indians have taken to the war-path against the whites at Darien "under pretense of hunting buffalo."

ALABAMA.--Having established the existence of the bison in northwestern Georgia almost as far down as the center of the State, and in Mississippi down to the neighborhood of the coast, it was naturally expected that a search of historical records would reveal evidence that the bison once inhabited the northern half of Alabama. A most careful search through all the records bearing upon the early history and exploration of Alabama, to be found in the Library of Congress, failed to discover the slightest reference to the existence of the species in that State, or even to the use of buffalo skins by any of the Alabama Indians. While it is possible that such a hiatus really existed, in this instance its existence would be wholly unaccountable. I believe that the buffalo once inhabited the northern half of Alabama, even though history fails to record it.

LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI.--At the beginning of the eighteenth century, buffaloes were plentiful in southern Mississippi and Louisiana, not only down to the coast itself, from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi, but even in the very Delta of the Mississippi, as the following record shows. In a "Memoir addressed to Count de Pontchartrain," December 10, 1697, the author, M. de Remonville, describes the country around the mouth of the Mississippi, now the State of Louisiana, and further says:[11]

"A great abundance of wild cattle are also found there, which might be domesticated by rearing up the young calves." Whether these animals were buffaloes might be considered an open question but for the following additional information, which affords positive evidence: "The trade in furs and peltry would be immensely valuable and exceedingly profitable. We could also draw from thence a great quantity of buffalo hides every year, as the plains are filled with the animals."

In the same volume, page 47, in a document entitled "Annals of Louisiana from 1698 to 1722, by M. Penicaut" (1698), the author records the presence of the buffalo on the Gulf coast on the banks of the Bay St. Louis, as follows: "The next day we left Pea Island, and passed through the Little Rigolets, which led into the sea about three leagues from the Bay of St. Louis. We encamped at the entrance of the bay, near a fountain of water that flows from the hills, and which was called at this time Belle Fountain. We hunted during several days upon the coast of this bay, and filled our boats with the meat of the deer, buffaloes, and other wild game which we had killed, and carried it to the fort (Biloxi)."

[Note 11: Hist. Coll. of Louisiana and Florida, B. F. French, 1869, first series, p. 2.]

The occurrence of the buffalo at Natchez is recorded,[12] and also (p. 115) at the mouth of Red River, as follows: "We ascended the Mississippi to Pass Manchac, where we killed fifteen buffaloes. The next day we landed again, and killed eight more buffaloes and as many deer."

[Note 12: Ibid., pp. 88-91.]

The presence of the buffalo in the Delta of the Mississippi was observed and recorded by D'Iberville in 1699.[13]

[Note 13: Hist. Coll. of Louisiana and Florida, French, second series, p. 58.]

According to Claiborne,[14] the Choctaws have an interesting tradition in regard to the disappearance of the buffalo from Mississippi. It relates that during the early part of the eighteenth century a great drought occurred, which was particularly severe in the prairie region. For three years not a drop of rain fell. The Nowubee and Tombigbee Rivers dried up and the forests perished. The elk and buffalo, which up to that time had been numerous, all migrated to the country beyond the Mississippi, and never returned.

[Note 14: Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State, p. 484.]

TEXAS.--It will be remembered that it was in southeastern Texas, in all probability within 50 miles of the present city of Houston, that the earliest discovery of the American bison on its native heath was made in 1530 by Cabeza de Vaca, a half-starved, half-naked, and wholly wretched Spaniard, almost the only surviving member of the celebrated expedition which burned its ships behind it. In speaking of the buffalo in Texas at the earliest periods of which we have any historical record, Professor Allen says: "They were also found in immense herds on the coast of Texas, at the Bay of St. Bernard (Matagorda Bay), and on the lower part of the Colorado (Rio Grande, according to some authorities), by La Salle, in 1685, and thence northwards across the Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity Rivers." Joutel says that when in latitude 28° 51' "the sight of abundance of goats and bullocks, differing in shape from ours, and running along the coast, heightened our earnestness to be ashore." They afterwards landed in St. Louis Bay (now called Matagorda Bay), where they found buffaloes in such numbers on the Colorado River that they called it La Rivière aux Boeufs.[15] According to Professor Allen, the buffalo did not inhabit the coast of Texas east of the mouth of the Brazos River.

[Note 15: The American Bisons, Living and Extinct, p. 132.]

It is a curious coincidence that the State of Texas, wherein the earliest discoveries and observations upon the bison were made, should also now furnish a temporary shelter for one of the last remnants of the great herd.

MEXICO.--In regard to the existence of the bison south of the Rio Grande, in old Mexico, there appears to be but one authority on record, Dr. Berlandier, who at the time of his death left in MS. a work on the mammals of Mexico. At one time this MS. was in the Smithsonian Institution, but it is there no longer, nor is its fate even ascertainable. It is probable that it was burned in the fire that destroyed a portion of the Institution in 1865. Fortunately Professor Allen obtained and published in his monograph (in French) a copy of that portion of Dr. Berlandier's work relating to the presence of the bison in Mexico,[16] of which the following is a translation:

[Note 16: The American Bisons, pp. 129-130.]

"In Mexico, when the Spaniards, ever greedy for riches, pushed their explorations to the north and northeast, it was not long before they met with the buffalo. In 1602 the Franciscan monks who discovered Nuevo Leon encountered in the neighborhood of Monterey numerous herds of these quadrupeds. They were also distributed in Nouvelle Biscaye (States of Chihuahua and Durango), and they sometimes advanced to the extreme south of that country. In the eighteenth century they concentrated more and more toward the north, but still remained very abundant in the neighborhood of the province of Bexar. At the commencement of the nineteenth century we see them recede gradually in the interior of the country to such an extent that they became day by day scarcer and scarcer about the settlements. Now, it is not in their periodical migrations that we meet them near Bexar. Every year in the spring, in April or May, they advance toward the north, to return again to the southern regions in September and October. The exact limits of these annual migrations are unknown; it is, however, probable that in the north they never go beyond the banks of the Rio Bravo, at least in the States of Cohahuila and Texas. Toward the north, not being checked by the currents of the Missouri, they progress even as far as Michigan, and they are found in summer in the Territories and interior States of the United States of North America. The route which these animals follow in their migrations occupies a width of several miles, and becomes so marked that, besides the verdure destroyed, one would believe that the fields had been covered with manure.

"These migrations are not general, for certain bands do not seem to follow the general mass of their kin, but remain stationary throughout the whole year on the prairies covered with a rich vegetation on the banks of the Rio de Guadelupe and the Rio Colorado of Texas, not far from the shores of the Gulf, to the east of the colony of San Felipe, precisely at the same spot where La Salle and his traveling companions saw them two hundred years before. The Rev. Father Damian Mansanet saw them also as in our days on the shores of Texas, in regions which have since been covered with the habitations, hamlets, and villages of the new colonists, and from whence they have disappeared since 1828."

[Illustration: HEAD OF BUFFALO BULL From specimen in the National Museum Group. Reproduced from the "Cosmopolitan Magazine", by permission of the publishers.]

"From the observations made on this subject we may conclude that the buffalo inhabited the temperate zone of the New World, and that they inhabited it at all times. In the north they never advanced beyond the 48th or 58th degree of latitude, and in the south, although they may have reached as low as 25°, they scarcely passed beyond the 27th or 28th degree (north latitude), at least in the inhabited and known portions of the country."

NEW MEXICO.--In 1542 Coronado, while on his celebrated march, met with vast herds of buffalo on the Upper Pecos River, since which the presence of the species in the valley of the Pecos has been well known. In describing the journey of Espejo down the Pecos River in the year 1584, Davis says (Spanish Conquest of New Mexico, p. 260): "They passed down a river they called "Rio de las Vacas", or the River of Oxen [the river Pecos, and the same Cow River that Vaca describes, says Professor Allen], and was so named because of the great number of buffaloes that fed upon its banks. They traveled down this river the distance of 120 leagues, all the way passing through great herds of buffaloes."

Professor Allen locates the western boundary of the buffalo in New Mexico even as far west as the western side of Rio Grande del Norte.

UTAH.--It is well known that buffaloes, though in very small numbers, once inhabited northeastern Utah, and that a few were killed by the Mormon settlers prior to 1840 in the vicinity of Great Salt Lake. In the museum at Salt Lake City I was shown a very ancient mounted head of a buffalo bull which was said to have been killed in the Salt Lake Valley. It is doubtful that such was really fact. There is no evidence that the bison ever inhabited the southwestern half of Utah, and, considering the general sterility of the Territory as a whole previous to its development by irrigation, it is surprising that any buffalo in his senses would ever set foot in it at all.

IDAHO.--The former range of the bison probably embraced the whole of Idaho. Fremont states that in the spring of 1824 "the buffalo were spread in immense numbers over the Green River and Bear River Valleys, and through all the country lying between the Colorado, or Green River of the Gulf of California, and Lewis' Fork of the Columbia River, the meridian of Fort Hall then forming the western limit of their range." [In J. K. Townsend's "Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains," in 1834, he records the occurrence of herds near the Mellade and Boise and Salmon Rivers, ten days' journey--200 miles--west of Fort Hall.] The buffalo then remained for many years in that country, and frequently moved down the valley of the Columbia, on both sides of the river, as far as the Fishing Falls. Below this point they never descended in any numbers. About 1834 or 1835 they began to diminish very rapidly, and continued to decrease until 1838 or 1840, when, with the country we have just described, they entirely abandoned all the waters of the Pacific north of Lewis's Fork of the Columbia [now called Snake] River. At that time the Flathead Indians were in the habit of finding their buffalo on the heads of Salmon River and other streams of the Columbia.

OREGON.--The only evidence on record of the occurrence of the bison in Oregon is the following, from Professor Allen's memoir (p. 119): "Respecting its former occurrence in eastern Oregon, Prof. O. C. Marsh, under date of New Haven, February 7, 1875, writes me as follows: 'The most western point at which I have myself observed remains of the buffalo was in 187 on Willow Creek, eastern Oregon, among the foot hills of the eastern side of the Blue Mountains. This is about latitude 44°. The bones were perfectly characteristic, although nearly decomposed.'"

The remains must have been those of a solitary and very enterprising straggler.

THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (British).--At two or three points only did the buffaloes of the British Possessions cross the Rocky Mountain barrier toward British Columbia. One was the pass through which the Canadian Pacific Railway now runs, 200 miles north of the international boundary. According to Dr. Richardson, the number of buffaloes which crossed the mountains at that point were sufficiently noticeable to constitute a feature of the fauna on the western side of the range. It is said that buffaloes also crossed by way of the Kootenai Pass, which is only a few miles north of the boundary line, but the number which did so must have been very small.

As might be expected from the character of the country, the favorite range of the bison in British America was the northern extension of the great pasture region lying between the Missouri River and Great Slave Lake. The most northerly occurrence of the bison is recorded as an observation of Franklin in 1820 at Slave Point, on the north side of Great Slave Lake. "A few frequent Slave Point, on the north side of the lake, but this is the most northern situation in which they were observed by Captain Franklin's party."[17]

[Note 17: Sabine, Zoological Appendix to "Franklin's Journey," p. 668.]

Dr. Richardson defined the eastern boundary of the bison's range in British America as follows: "They do not frequent any of the districts formed of primitive rocks, and the limits of their range to the eastward, within the Hudson's Bay Company's territories, may be correctly marked on the map by a line commencing in longitude 97°, on the Red River, which flows into the south end of Lake Winnipeg, crossing the Saskatchewan to the westward of the Basquian Hill, and running thence by the Athapescow to the east end of Great Slave Lake." Their migrations westward were formerly limited to the Rocky Mountain range, and they are still unknown in New Caledonia and on the shores of the Pacific to the north of the Columbia River; but of late years they have found out a passage across the mountains near the sources of the Saskatchewan, and their numbers to the westward are annually increasing.[18]

[Note 18: Fauna Boreali-Americana, vol. 1, p, 279-280.]

"Great Slave Lake."--That the buffalo inhabited the southern shore of this lake as late as 1871 is well established by the following letter from Mr. E. W. Nelson to Mr. J. A. Allen, under date of July 11, 1877:[19] "I have met here [St. Michaels, Alaska] two gentlemen who crossed the mountains from British Columbia and came to Fort Yukon through British America, from whom I have derived some information about the buffalo ("Bison americanus") which will be of interest to you. These gentlemen descended the Peace River, and on about the one hundred and eighteenth degree of longitude made a portage to Hay River, directly north. On this portage they saw thousands of buffalo skulls, and old trails, in some instances 2 or 3 feet deep, leading east and west. They wintered on Hay River near its entrance into Great Slave Lake, and here found the buffalo still common, occupying a restricted territory along the southern border of the lake. This was in 1871. They made inquiry concerning the large number of skulls seen by them on the portage, and learned that about fifty years before, snow fell to the estimated depth of 14 feet, and so enveloped the animals that they perished by thousands. It is asserted that these buffaloes are larger than those of the plains."

[Note 19: American Naturalist, xi, p. 624.]

MINNESOTA AND WISCONSIN.--A line drawn from Winnipeg to Chicago, curving slightly to the eastward in the middle portion, will very nearly define the eastern boundary of the buffalo's range in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

ILLINOIS AND INDIANA.--The whole of these two States were formerly inhabited by the buffalo, the fertile prairies of Illinois being particularly suited to their needs. It is doubtful whether the range of the species extended north of the northern boundary of Indiana, but since southern Michigan was as well adapted to their support as Ohio or Indiana, their absence from that State must have been due more to accident than design.

OHIO.--The southern shore of Lake Erie forms part of the northern boundary of the bison's range in the eastern United States. La Hontan explored Lake Erie in 1687 and thus describes its southern shore: "I can not express what quantities of Deer and Turkeys are to be found in these Woods, and in the vast Meads that lye upon the South side of the Lake. At the bottom of the Lake we find beeves upon the Banks of two pleasant Rivers that disembogue into it, without Cataracts or Rapid Currents."[20] It thus appears that the southern shore of Lake Erie forms part of the northern boundary of the buffalo's range in the eastern United States.

[Note 20: J. A. Allen's "American Bisons", p. 107.]

NEW YORK.--In regard to the presence of the bison in any portion of the State of New York, Professor Allen considers the evidence as fairly conclusive that it once existed in western New York, not only in the vicinity of the eastern end of Lake Erie, where now stands the city of Buffalo, at the mouth of a large creek of the same name, but also on the shore of Lake Ontario, probably in Orleans County. In his monograph of "The American Bisons," page 107, he gives the following testimony and conclusions on this point:

"The occurrence of a stream in western New York, called Buffalo Creek, which empties into the eastern end of Lake Erie, is commonly viewed as traditional evidence of its occurrence at this point, but positive testimony to this effect has thus far escaped me.

"This locality, if it actually came so far eastward, must have formed the eastern limit of its range along the lakes. I have found only highly questionable allusions to the occurrence of buffaloes along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Keating, on the authority of Colhoun, however, has cited a passage from Morton's "New English Canaan" as proof of their former existence in the neighborhood of this lake. Morton's statement is based on Indian reports, and the context gives sufficient evidence of the general vagueness of his knowledge of the region of which he was speaking. The passage, printed in 1637 is as follows: They [the Indians] have also made descriptions of great heards of well growne beasts that live about the parts of this lake [Erocoise] such as the Christian world (untill this discovery) hath not bin made acquainted with. These Beasts are of the bignesse of a Cowe, their flesh being very good foode, their hides good lether, their fleeces very usefull, being a kinde of wolle as fine almost as the wolle of the Beaver, and the Salvages doe make garments thereof. It is tenne yeares since first the relation of these things came to the eares of the English.' The 'beast' to which allusion is here made [says Professor Allen] is unquestionably the buffalo, but the locality of Lake 'Erocoise' is not so easily settled. Colhoun regards it, and probably correctly, as identical with Lake Ontario. * * * The extreme northeastern limit of the former range of the buffalo seems to have been, as above stated, in western New York, near the eastern end of Lake Erie. That it probably ranged thus far there is fair evidence."

PENNSYLVANIA.--From the eastern end of Lake Erie the boundary of the bison's habitat extends south into western Pennsylvania, to a marsh called Buffalo Swamp on a map published by Peter Kalm in 1771. Professor Allen says it "is indicated as situated between the Alleghany River and the West Branch of the Susquehanna, near the heads of the Licking and Toby's Creeks (apparently the streams now called Oil Creek and Clarion Creek)." In this region there were at one time thousands of buffaloes. While there is not at hand any positive evidence that the buffalo ever inhabited the southwestern portion of Pennsylvania, its presence in the locality mentioned above, and in West Virginia generally, on the south, furnishes sufficient reason for extending the boundary so as to include the southwestern portion of the State and connect with our starting point, the District of Columbia.


Of all the quadrupeds that have lived upon the earth, probably no other species has ever marshaled such innumerable hosts as those of the American bison. It would have been as easy to count or to estimate the number of leaves in a forest as to calculate the number of buffaloes living at any given time during the history of the species previous to 1870. Even in South Central Africa, which has always been exceedingly prolific in great herds of game, it is probable that all its quadrupeds taken together on an equal area would never have more than equaled the total number of buffalo in this country forty years ago.

To an African hunter, such a statement may seem incredible, but it appears to be fully warranted by the literature of both branches of the subject.

Not only did the buffalo formerly range eastward far into the forest regions of western New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, but in some places it was so abundant as to cause remark. In Mr. J. A. Allen's valuable monograph[21] appear a great number of interesting historical references on this subject, as indeed to every other relating to the buffalo, a few of which I will take the liberty of quoting.

[Note 21: All who are especially interested in the life history of the buffalo, both scientific and economical, will do well to consult Mr. Allen's monograph, "The American Bisons, Living and Extinct," if it be accessible. Unfortunately it is a difficult matter for the general reader to obtain it. A reprint of the work as originally published, but omitting the map, plates, and such of the subject-matter as relates to the extinct species, appears in Hayden's "Report of the Geological Survey of the Territories," for 1875 (pp. 443-587), but the volume has for several years been out of print.

The memoir as originally published has the following titles:

"Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Kentucky.| N. S. Shaler, Director.| Vol. I. Part II.|--| The American Bisons,| living and extinct.| By J. A. Allen.| With twelve plates and map.|--| University press, Cambridge:| Welch, Bigelow & Co.| 1876."

"Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology,| at Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass.| Vol. IV. No. 10.|--| The American Bisons,| living and extinct.| By J. A. Allen.| Published by permission of N. S. Shaler, Director of the Kentucky| Geological Survey.| With twelve plates and a map.| University press, Cambridge:| Welch, Bigelow & Co.| 1876.|"

"4to., pp. i-ix, 1-246, 1 col'd map, 12 pl., 13 ll. explanatory, 2 wood-cuts in text."

These two publications were simultaneous, and only differed in the titles. Unfortunately both are of greater rarity than the reprint referred to above.]

In the vicinity of the spot where the town of Clarion now stands, in northwestern Pennsylvania, Mr. Thomas Ashe relates that one of the first settlers built his log cabin near a salt spring which was visited by buffaloes in such numbers that "he supposed there could not have been less than two thousand in the neighborhood of the spring." During the first years of his residence there, the buffaloes came in droves of about three hundred each.

Of the Blue Licks in Kentucky, Mr. John Filson thus wrote, in 1784: "The amazing herds of buffaloes which resort thither, by their size and number, fill the traveller with amazement and terror, especially when he beholds the prodigious roads they have made from all quarters, as if leading to some populous city; the vast space of land around these springs desolated as if by a ravaging enemy, and hills reduced to plains; for the land near these springs is chiefly hilly. * * * I have heard a hunter assert he saw above one thousand buffaloes at the Blue Licks at once; so numerous were they before the first settlers had wantonly sported away their lives." Col. Daniel Boone declared of the Red River region in Kentucky, "The buffaloes were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browzing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage of those extensive plains, fearless because ignorant of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing."

According to Ramsey, where Nashville now stands, in 1770 there were "immense numbers of buffalo and other wild game. The country was crowded with them. Their bellowings sounded from the hills and forest." Daniel Boone found vast herds of buffalo grazing in the valleys of East Tennessee, between the spurs of the Cumberland mountains.

Marquette declared that the prairies along the Illinois River were "covered with buffaloes." Father Hennepin, in writing of northern Illinois, between Chicago and the Illinois River, asserted that "there must be an innumerable quantity of wild bulls in that country, since the earth is covered with their horns. * * * They follow one another, so that you may see a drove of them for above a league together. * * * Their ways are as beaten as our great roads, and no herb grows therein."

Judged by ordinary standards of comparison, the early pioneers of the last century thought buffalo were abundant in the localities mentioned above. But the herds which lived east of the Mississippi were comparatively only mere stragglers from the innumerable mass which covered the great western pasture region from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Rio Grande to Great Slave Lake. The town of Kearney, in south central Nebraska, may fairly be considered the geographical center of distribution of the species, as it originally existed, but ever since 1800, and until a few years ago, the center of population has been in the Black Hills of southwestern Dakota.

Between the Rocky Mountains and the States lying along the Mississippi River on the west, from Minnesota to Louisiana, the whole country was one vast buffalo range, inhabited by millions of buffaloes. One could fill a volume with the records of plainsmen and pioneers who penetrated or crossed that vast region between 1800 and 1870, and were in turn surprised, astounded, and frequently dismayed by the tens of thousands of buffaloes they observed, avoided, or escaped from. They lived and moved as no other quadrupeds ever have, in great multitudes, like grand armies in review, covering scores of square miles at once. They were so numerous they frequently stopped boats in the rivers, threatened to overwhelm travelers on the plains, and in later years derailed locomotives and cars, until railway engineers learned by experience the wisdom of stopping their trains whenever there were buffaloes crossing the track. On this feature of the buffalo's life history a few detailed observations may be of value.

Near the mouth of the White River, in southwestern Dakota, Lewis and Clark saw (in 1806) a herd of buffalo which caused them to make the following record in their journal:

"These last animals [buffaloes] are now so numerous that from an eminence we discovered more than we had ever seen before at one time; and if it be not impossible to calculate the moving multitude, which darkened the whole plains, we are convinced that twenty thousand would be no exaggerated number."

When near the mouth of the Yellowstone, on their way down the Missouri, a previous record had been made of a meeting with other herds:

"The buffalo now appear in vast numbers. A herd happened to be on their way across the river [the Missouri]. Such was the multitude of these animals that although the river, including an island over which they passed, was a mile in length, the herd stretched as thick as they could swim completely from one side to the other, and the party was obliged to stop for an hour. They consoled themselves for the delay by killing four of the herd, and then proceeded till at the distance of 45 miles they halted on an island, below which two other herds of buffalo, as numerous as the first, soon after crossed the river."[22]

[Note 22: Lewis and Clark's Exped., II, p. 395.]

Perhaps the most vivid picture ever afforded of the former abundance of buffalo is that given by Col. R. I. Dodge in his "Plains of the Great West," p. 120, "et seq." It is well worth reproducing entire:

"In May, 1871, I drove in a light wagon from Old Fort Zara to Fort Larned, on the Arkansas, 34 miles. At least 25 miles of this distance was through one immense herd, composed of countless smaller herds of buffalo then on their journey north. The road ran along the broad level 'bottom,' or valley, of the river. * * *

"The whole country appeared one great mass of buffalo, moving slowly to the northward; and it was only when actually among them that it could be ascertained that the apparently solid mass was an agglomeration of innumerable small herds, of from fifty to two hundred animals, separated from the surrounding herds by greater or less space, but still separated. The herds in the valley sullenly got out of my way, and, turning, stared stupidly at me, sometimes at only a few yards' distance. When I had reached a point where the hills were no longer more than a mile from the road, the buffalo on the hills, seeing an unusual object in their rear, turned, stared an instant, then started at full speed directly towards me, stampeding and bringing with them the numberless herds through which they passed, and pouring down upon me all the herds, no longer separated, but one immense compact mass of plunging animals, mad with fright, and as irresistible as an avalanche.

"The situation was by no means pleasant. Reining up my horse (which was fortunately a quiet old beast that had been in at the death of many a buffalo, so that their wildest, maddest rush only caused him to cock his ears in wonder at their unnecessary excitement), I waited until the front of the mass was within 50 yards, when a few well-directed shots from my rifle split the herd, and sent it pouring off in two streams to my right and left. When all had passed me they stopped, apparently perfectly satisfied, though thousands were yet within reach of my rifle and many within less than 100 yards. Disdaining to fire again, I sent my servant to cut out the tongues of the fallen. This occurred so frequently within the next 10 miles, that when I arrived at Fort Larned I had twenty-six tongues in my wagon, representing the greatest number of buffalo that my conscience can reproach me for having murdered on any single day. I was not hunting, wanted no meat, and would not voluntarily have fired at these herds. I killed only in self-preservation and fired almost every shot from the wagon."

At my request Colonel Dodge has kindly furnished me a careful estimate upon which to base a calculation of the number of buffaloes in that great herd, and the result is very interesting. In a private letter, dated September 21, 1887, he writes as follows:

"The great herd on the Arkansas through which I passed could not have averaged, "at rest", over fifteen or twenty individuals to the acre, but was, from my own observation, not less than 25 miles wide, and from reports of hunters and others it was about five days in passing a given point, or not less than 50 miles deep. From the top of Pawnee Rock I could see from 6 to 10 miles in almost every direction. This whole vast space was covered with buffalo, looking at a distance like one compact mass, the visual angle not permitting the ground to be seen. I have seen such a sight a great number of times, but never on so large a scale.

"That was the last of the great herds."

With these figures before us, it is not difficult to make a calculation that will be somewhere near the truth of the number of buffaloes actually seen in one day by Colonel Dodge on the Arkansas River during that memorable drive, and also of the number of head in the entire herd.

According to his recorded observation, the herd extended along the river for a distance of 25 miles, which was in reality the width of the vast procession that was moving north, and back from the road as far as the eye could reach, on both sides. It is making a low estimate to consider the extent of the visible ground at 1 mile on either side. This gives a strip of country 2 miles wide by 25 long, or a total of 50 square miles covered with buffalo, averaging from fifteen to twenty to the acre.[23] Taking the lesser number, in order to be below the truth rather than above it, we find that the number actually seen on that day by Colonel Dodge was in the neighborhood of 480,000, not counting the additional number taken in at the view from the top of Pawnee Rock, which, if added, would easily bring the total up to a round half million!

[Note 23: On the plains of Dakota, the Rev. Mr. Belcourt (Schoolcraft's N. A. Indians, IV, p. 108) once counted two hundred and twenty-eight buffaloes, a part of a great herd, feeding on a single acre of ground. This of course was an unusual occurrence with buffaloes not stampeding, but practically at rest. It is quite possible also that the extent of the ground may have been underestimated.]

If the advancing multitude had been at all points 50 miles in length (as it was known to have been in some places at least) by 25 miles in width, and still averaged fifteen head to the acre of ground, it would have contained the enormous number of 12,000,000 head. But, judging from the general principles governing such migrations, it is almost certain that the moving mass advanced in the shape of a wedge, which would make it necessary to deduct about two-third from the grand total, which would leave 4,000,000 as our estimate of the actual number of buffaloes in this great herd, which I believe is more likely to be below the truth than above it.

No wonder that the men of the West of those days, both white and red, thought it would be impossible to exterminate such a mighty multitude. The Indians of some tribes believed that the buffaloes issued from the earth continually, and that the supply was necessarily inexhaustible. And yet, in four short years the southern herd was almost totally annihilated.

With such a lesson before our eyes, confirmed in every detail by living testimony, who will dare to say that there will be an elk, moose, caribou, mountain sheep, mountain goat, antelope, or black-tail deer left alive in the United States in a wild state fifty years from this date, ay, or even twenty-five?

Mr. William Blackmore contributes the following testimony to the abundance of buffalo in Kansas:[24]

[Note 24: Plains of the Great West, p. xvi.]

"In the autumn of 1868, whilst crossing the plains on the Kansas Pacific Railroad, for a distance of upwards of 120 miles, between Ellsworth and Sheridan, we passed through an almost unbroken herd of buffalo. The plains were blackened with them, and more than once the train had to stop to allow unusually large herds to pass. * * * In 1872, whilst on a scout for about a hundred miles south of Fort Dodge to the Indian Territory, we were never out of sight of buffalo."

Twenty years hence, when not even a bone or a buffalo-chip remains above ground throughout the West to mark the presence of the buffalo, it may be difficult for people to believe that these animals ever existed in such numbers as to constitute not only a serious annoyance, but very often a dangerous menace to wagon travel across the plains, and also to stop railway trains, and even throw them off the track. The like has probably never occurred before in any country, and most assuredly never will again, if the present rate of large game destruction all over the world can be taken as a foreshadowing of the future. In this connection the following additional testimony from Colonel Dodge ("Plains of the Great West," p. 121) is of interest:

"The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad was then [in 1871-'72] in process of construction, and nowhere could the peculiarity of the buffalo of which I am speaking be better studied than from its trains. If a herd was on the north side of the track, it would stand stupidly gazing, and without a symptom of alarm, although the locomotive passed within a hundred yards. If on the south side of the track, even though at a distance of 1 or 2 miles from it, the passage of a train set the whole herd in the wildest commotion. At full speed, and utterly regardless of the consequences, it would make for the track on its line of retreat. If the train happened not to be in its path, it crossed the track and stopped satisfied. If the train was in its way, each individual buffalo went at it with the desperation of despair, plunging against or between locomotive and cars, just as its blind madness chanced to direct it. Numbers were killed, but numbers still pressed on, to stop and stare as soon as the obstacle had passed. After having trains thrown off the track twice in one week, conductors learned to have a very decided respect for the idiosyncrasies of the buffalo, and when there was a possibility of striking a herd 'on the rampage' for the north side of the track, the train was slowed up and sometimes stopped entirely."

The accompanying illustration, reproduced from the "Plains of the Great West," by the kind permission of the author, is, in one sense, ocular proof that collisions between railway trains and vast herds of buffaloes were so numerous that they formed a proper subject for illustration. In regard to the stoppage of trains and derailment of locomotives by buffaloes, Colonel Dodge makes the following allusion in the private letter already referred to: "There are at least a hundred reliable railroad men now employed on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad who were witnesses of, and sometimes sufferers from, the wild rushes of buffalo as described on page 121 of my book. I was at the time stationed at Fort Dodge, and I was personally cognizant of several of these 'accidents.'"

[Illustration: SLAUGHTER OF BUFFALO ON THE KANSAS PACIFIC RAILROAD. Reproduced from "The Plains of the Great West," by permission of the author, Col. R. I. Dodge.]

The following, from the ever pleasing pen of Mr. Catlin, is of decided interest in this connection:

"In one instance, near the mouth of White River, we met the most immense herd crossing the Missouri River [in Dakota], and from an imprudence got our boat into imminent danger amongst them, from which we were highly delighted to make our escape. It was in the midst of the 'running season,' and we had heard the 'roaring' (as it is called) of the herd when we were several miles from them. When we came in sight, we were actually terrified at the immense numbers that were streaming down the green hills on one side of the river, and galloping up and over the bluffs on the other. The river was filled, and in parts blackened with their heads and horns, as they were swimming about, following up their objects, and making desperate battle whilst they were swimming. I deemed it imprudent for our canoe to be dodging amongst them, and ran it ashore for a few hours, where we laid, waiting for the opportunity of seeing the river clear, but we waited in vain. Their numbers, however, got somewhat diminished at last, and we pushed off, and successfully made our way amongst them. From the immense numbers that had passed the river at that place, they had torn down the prairie bank of 15 feet in height, so as to form a sort of road or landing place, where they all in succession clambered up. Many in their turmoil had been wafted below this landing, and unable to regain it against the swiftness of the current, had fastened themselves along in crowds, hugging close to the high bank under which they were standing. As we were drifting by these, and supposing ourselves out of danger, I drew up my rifle and shot one of them in the head, which tumbled into the water, and brought with him a hundred others, which plunged in, and in a moment were swimming about our canoe, and placing it in great danger. No attack was made upon us, and in the confusion the poor beasts knew not, perhaps, the enemy that was amongst them; but we were liable to be sunk by them, as they were furiously hooking and climbing on to each other. I rose in my canoe, and by my gestures and hallooing kept them from coming in contact with us until we were out of their reach."[25]

[Note 25: Catlin's North American Indians, II, p. 13.]


1. "The buffaloes rank amongst ruminants."--With the American people, and through them all others, familiarity with the buffalo has bred contempt. The incredible numbers in which the animals of this species formerly existed made their slaughter an easy matter, so much so that the hunters and frontiersmen who accomplished their destruction have handed down to us a contemptuous opinion of the size, character, and general presence of our bison. And how could it be otherwise than that a man who could find it in his heart to murder a majestic bull bison for a hide worth only a dollar should form a one-dollar estimate of the grandest ruminant that ever trod the earth? Men who butcher African elephants for the sake of their ivory also entertain a similar estimate of their victims.

With an acquaintance which includes fine living examples of all the larger ruminants of the world except the musk-ox and the European bison, I am sure that the American bison is the grandest of them all. His only rivals for the kingship are the Indian bison, or gaur ("Bos gaurus"), of Southern India, and the aurochs, or European bison, both of which really surpass him in height, if not in actual balk also. The aurochs is taller, and possesses a larger pelvis and heavier, stronger hindquarters, but his body is decidedly smaller in all its proportions, which gives him a lean and "leggy" look. The hair on the head, neck, and forequarters of the aurochs is not nearly so long or luxuriant as on the same parts of the American bison. This covering greatly magnifies the actual bulk of the latter animal. Clothe the aurochs with the wonderful pelage of our buffalo, give him the same enormous chest and body, and the result would be a magnificent bovine monster, who would indeed stand without a rival. But when first-class types of the two species are placed side by side it seems to me that "Bison americanus" will easily rank his European rival.

The gaur has no long hair upon any part of his body or head. What little hair he has is very short and thin, his hindquarters being almost naked. I have seen hundreds of these animals at short range, and have killed and skinned several very fine specimens, one of which stood 5 feet 10 inches in height at the shoulders. But, despite his larger bulk, his appearance is not nearly so striking and impressive as that of the male American bison. He seems like a huge ox running wild.

The magnificent dark brown frontlet and beard of the buffalo, the shaggy coat of hair upon the neck, hump, and shoulders, terminating at the knees in a thick mass of luxuriant black locks, to say nothing of the dense coat of finer fur on the body and hindquarters, give to our species not only an apparent height equal to that of the gaur, but a grandeur and nobility of presence which are beyond all comparison amongst ruminants.

The slightly larger bulk of the gaur is of little significance in a comparison of the two species; for if size alone is to turn the scale, we must admit that a 500-pound lioness, with no mane whatever, is a more majestic looking animal than a 450-pound lion, with a mane which has earned him his title of king of beasts.

2. "Change of form in captivity."--By a combination of unfortunate circumstances, the American bison is destined to go down to posterity shorn of the honor which is his due, and appreciated at only half his worth. The hunters who slew him were from the very beginning so absorbed in the scramble for spoils that they had no time to measure or weigh him, nor even to notice the majesty of his personal appearance on his native heath.

In captivity he fails to develop as finely as in his wild state, and with the loss of his liberty he becomes a tame-looking animal. He gets fat and short-bodied, and the lack of vigorous and constant exercise prevents the development of bone and muscle which made the prairie animal what he was.

From observations made upon buffaloes that have been reared in captivity, I am firmly convinced that confinement and semi-domestication are destined to effect striking changes in the form of "Bison americanus". While this is to be expected to a certain extent with most large species, the changes promise to be most conspicuous in the buffalo. The most striking change is in the body between the hips and the shoulders. As before remarked, it becomes astonishingly short and rotund, and through liberal feeding and total lack of exercise the muscles of the shoulders and hindquarters, especially the latter, are but feebly developed.

The most striking example of the change of form in the captive buffalo is the cow in the Central Park Menagerie, New York. Although this animal is fully adult, and has given birth to three fine calves, she is small, astonishingly short-bodied, and in comparison with the magnificently developed cows taken in 1886 by the writer in Montana, she seems almost like an animal of another species.

Both the live buffaloes in the National Museum collection of living animals are developing the same shortness of body and lack of muscle, and when they attain their full growth will but poorly resemble the splendid proportions of the wild specimens in the Museum mounted group, each of which has been mounted from a most careful and elaborate series of post-mortem measurements. It may fairly be considered, however, that the specimens taken by the Smithsonian expedition were in every way more perfect representatives of the species than have been usually taken in times past, for the simple reason that on account of the muscle they had developed in the numerous chases they had survived, and the total absence of the fat which once formed such a prominent feature of the animal, they were of finer form, more active habit, and keener intelligence than buffaloes possessed when they were so numerous. Out of the millions which once composed the great northern herd, those represented the survival of the fittest, and their existence at that time was chiefly due to the keenness of their senses and their splendid muscular powers in speed and endurance.

Under such conditions it is only natural that animals of the highest class should be developed. On the other hand, captivity reverses all these conditions, while yielding an equally abundant food supply.

In no feature is the change from natural conditions to captivity more easily noticeable than in the eye. In the wild buffalo the eye is always deeply set, well protected by the edge of the bony orbit, and perfect in form and expression. The lids are firmly drawn around the ball, the opening is so small that the white portion of the eyeball is entirely covered, and the whole form and appearance of the organ is as shapely and as pleasing in expression as the eye of a deer.

In the captive the various muscles which support and control the eyeball seem to relax and thicken, and the ball protrudes far beyond its normal plane, showing a circle of white all around the iris, and bulging out in a most unnatural way. I do not mean to assert that this is common in captive buffaloes generally, but I have observed it to be disagreeably conspicuous in many.

Another change which takes place in the form of the captive buffalo is an arching of the back in the middle, which has a tendency to make the hump look lower at the shoulders and visibly alters the outline of the back. This tendency to "hump up" the back is very noticeable in domestic cattle and horses during rainy weather. While a buffalo on his native heath would seldom assume such an attitude of dejection and misery, in captivity, especially if it be anything like close confinement, it is often to be observed, and I fear will eventually become a permanent habit. Indeed, I think it may be confidently predicted that the time will come when naturalists who have never seen a wild buffalo will compare the specimens composing the National Museum group with the living representatives to be seen in captivity and assert that the former are exaggerations in both form and size.

3. "Mounted Specimens in Museums."--Of the "stuffed" specimens to be found in museums, all that I have ever seen outside of the National Museum and even those within that institution up to 1886, were "stuffed" in reality as well as in name. The skins that have been rammed full of straw or excelsior have lost from 8 to 12 inches in height at the shoulders, and the high and sharp hump of the male has become a huge, thick, rounded mass like the hump of a dromedary, and totally unlike the hump of a bison. It is impossible for any taxidermist to stuff a buffalo-skin with loose materials and produce a specimen which fitly represents the species. The proper height and form of the animal can be secured and retained only by the construction of a manikin, or statue, to carry the skin. In view of this fact, which surely must be apparent to even the most casual observer, it is to be earnestly hoped that here no one in authority will ever consent to mount or have mounted a valuable skin of a bison in any other way than over a properly constructed manikin.

4. "The Calf."--The breeding season of the buffalo is from the 1st of July to the 1st of October. The young cow does not breed until she is three years old, and although two calves are sometimes produced at a birth, one is the usual number. The calves are born in April, May, and June, and sometimes, though rarely, as late as the middle of August. The calf follows its mother until it is a year old, or even older. In May, 1886, the Smithsonian expedition captured a calf alive, which had been abandoned by its mother because it could not keep up with her. The little creature was apparently between two and three weeks old, and was therefore born about May 1. Unlike the young of nearly all other "Bovidæ", the buffalo calf during the first months of its existence is clad with hair of a totally different color from that which covers him during the remainder of his life. His pelage is a luxuriant growth of rather long, wavy hair, of a uniform brownish-yellow or "sandy" color (cinnamon, or yellow ocher, with a shade of Indian yellow) all over the head, body, and tail, in striking contrast with the darker colors of the older animals. On the lower half of the leg it is lighter, shorter, and straight. On the shoulders and hump the hair is longer than on the other portions, being 11/2 inches in length, more wavy, and already arranges itself in the tufts, or small bunches, so characteristic in the adult animal.

On the extremity of the muzzle, including the chin, the hair is very short, straight, and as light in color as the lower portions of the leg. Starting on the top of the nose, an inch behind the nostrils, and forming a division between the light yellowish muzzle and the more reddish hair on the remainder of the head, there is an irregular band of dark, straight hair, which extends down past the corner of the mouth to a point just back of the chin, where it unites. From the chin backward the dark band increases in breadth and intensity, and continues back half way to the angle of the jaw. At that point begins a sort of under mane of wavy, dark-brown hair, nearly 3 inches long, and extends back along the median line of the throat to a point between the fore legs, where it abruptly terminates. From the back of the head another streak of dark hair extends backward along the top of the neck, over the hump, and down to the lumbar region, where it fades out entirely. These two dark bands are in sharp contrast to the light sandy hair adjoining.

The tail is densely haired. The tuft on the end is quite luxuriant, and shows a center of darker hair. The hair on the inside of the ear is dark, but that on the outside is sandy.

The naked portion of the nose is light Vandyke-brown, with a pinkish tinge, and the edge of the eyelid the same. The iris is dark brown. The horn at three months is about 1 inch in length, and is a mere little black stub. In the male, the hump is clearly defined, but by no means so high in proportion as in the adult animal. The hump of the calf from which this description is drawn is of about the same relative angle and height as that of an adult cow buffalo. The specimen itself is well represented in the accompanying plate.

The measurements of this specimen in the flesh were as follows:

+---------------------------------------------------------+ | BISON AMERICANUS. (Male; four months old.) | +---------------------------------------------------------+ | ("No. 15503, National Museum collection.") | +---------------------------------------------------------+ | |Feet.|Inches.| |Height at shoulders | 2 | 8 | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail | 3 | 101/2 | |Depth of chest | 1 | 4 | |Depth of flank | | 10 | |Girth behind fore leg | 3 | 1/2 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 1 | 71/2 | |Length of tail vertebræ | | 7 | +---------------------------------------------------------+

The calves begin to shed their coat of red hair about the beginning of August. The first signs of the change, however, appear about a month earlier than that, in the darkening of the mane under the throat, and also on the top of the neck.[26]

[Note 26: Our captive had, in some way, bruised the skin on his forehead, and in June all the hair came off the top of his head, leaving it quite bald. We kept the skin well greased with porpoise oil, and by the middle of July a fine coat of black hair had grown out all over the surface that had previously been bare.]

By the 1st of August the red hair on the body begins to fall off in small patches, and the growth of fine, new, dark hair seems to actually crowd off the old. As is the case with the adult animals, the shortest hair is the first to be shed, but the change of coat takes place in about half the time that it occupies in the older animals.

By the 1st of October the transformation is complete, and not even a patch of the old red hair remains upon the new suit of brown. This is far from being the case with the old bulls and cows, for even up to the last week in October we found them with an occasional patch of the old hair still clinging to the new, on the back or shoulders.

Like most young animals, the calf of the buffalo is very easily tamed, especially if taken when only a few weeks old. The one captured in Montana by the writer, resisted at first as stoutly as it was able, by butting with its head, but after we had tied its legs together and carried it to camp, across a horse, it made up its mind to yield gracefully to the inevitable, and from that moment became perfectly docile. It very soon learned to drink milk in the most satisfactory manner, and adapted itself to its new surroundings quite as readily as any domestic calf would have done. Its only cry was a low-pitched, pig-like grunt through the nose, which was uttered only when hungry or thirsty.

I have been told by old frontiersmen and buffalo-hunters that it used to be a common practice for a hunter who had captured a young calf to make it follow him by placing one of his fingers in its mouth, and allowing the calf to suck at it for a moment. Often a calf has been induced in this way to follow a horseman for miles, and eventually to join his camp outfit. It is said that the same result has been accomplished with calves by breathing a few times into their nostrils. In this connection Mr. Catlin's observations on the habits of buffalo calves are most interesting.

"In pursuing a large herd of buffaloes at the season when their calves are but a few weeks old, I have often been exceedingly amused with the curious maneuvers of these shy little things. Amidst the thundering confusion of a throng of several hundreds or several thousands of these animals, there will be many of the calves that lose sight of their dams; and being left behind by the throng, and the swift-passing hunters, they endeavor to secrete themselves, when they are exceedingly put to it on a level prairie, where naught can be seen but the short grass of 6 or 8 inches in height, save an occasional bunch of wild sage a few inches higher, to which the poor affrighted things will run, and dropping on their knees, will push their noses under it and into the grass, where they will stand for hours, with their eyes shut, imagining themselves securely hid, whilst they are standing up quite straight upon their hind feet, and can easily be seen at several miles distance. It is a familiar amusement with us, accustomed to these scenes, to retreat back over the ground where we have just escorted the herd, and approach these little trembling things, which stubbornly maintain their positions, with their noses pushed under the grass and their eyes strained upon us, us we dismount from our horses and are passing around them. From this fixed position they are sure not to move until hands are laid upon them, and then for the shins of a novice we can extend our sympathy; or if he can preserve the skin on his bones from the furious buttings of its head, we know how to congratulate him on his signal success and good luck.

[Illustration: From photograph of group in National Museum. Engraved by R. H. Carson. BUFFALO COW, CALF (FOUR MONTHS OLD), AND YEARLING. Reproduced from the "Cosmopolitan Magazine", by permission of the publishers.]

"In these desperate struggles for a moment, the little thing is conquered, and makes no further resistance. And I have often, in concurrence with a known custom of the country, held my hands over the eyes of the calf and breathed a few strong breaths into its nostrils, after which I have, with my hunting companions, rode several miles into our encampment with the little prisoner busily following the heels of my horse the whole way, as closely and as affectionately as its instinct would attach it to the company of its dam.

"This is one of the most extraordinary things that I have met with in the habits of this wild country, and although I had often heard of it, and felt unable exactly to believe it, I am now willing to bear testimony to the fact from the numerous instances which I have witnessed since I came into the country. During the time that I resided at this post [mouth of the Tetón River] in the spring of the year, on my way up the river, I assisted (in numerous hunts of the buffalo with the fur company's men) in bringing in, in the above manner, several of these little prisoners, which sometimes followed for 5 or 6 miles close to our horse's heels, and even into the fur company's fort, and into the stable where our horses were led. In this way, before I left the headwaters of the Missouri, I think we had collected about a dozen, which Mr. Laidlaw was successfully raising with the aid of a good milch cow."[27]

[Note 27: North American Indians, I, 255.]

It must be remembered, however, that such cases as the above were exceptional, even with the very young calves, which alone exhibited the trait described. Such instances occurred only when buffaloes existed in such countless numbers that man's presence and influence had not affected the character of the animal in the least. No such instances of innocent stupidity will ever be displayed again, even by the youngest calf. The war of extermination, and the struggle for life and security have instilled into the calf, even from its birth, a mortal fear of both men and horses, and the instinct to fly for life. The calf captured by our party was not able to run, but in the most absurd manner it butted our horses as soon as they came near enough, and when Private Moran attempted to lay hold of the little fellow it turned upon him, struck him in the stomach with its head, and sent him sprawling into the sage-brush. If it had only possessed the strength, it would have led us a lively chase.

During 1886 four other buffalo calves were either killed or caught by the cowboys on the Missouri-Yellowstone divide, in the Dry Creek region. All of them ran the moment they discovered their enemies. Two were shot and killed. One was caught by a cowboy named Horace Brodhurst, ear marked, and turned loose. The fifth one was caught in September on the Porcupine Creek round-up. He was then about five months old, and being abundantly able to travel he showed a clean pair of heels. It took three fresh horses, one after another, to catch him, and his final capture was due to exhaustion, and not to the speed of any of his pursuers. The distance covered by the chase, from the point where his first pursuer started to where the third one finally lassoed him, was considered to be at least 15 miles. But the capture came to naught, for on the following day the calf died from overexertion and want of milk.

Colonel Dodge states that the very young calves of a herd have to depend upon the old bulls for protection, and seldom in vain. The mothers abandon their offspring on slight provocation, and even none at all sometimes, if we may judge from the condition of the little waif that fell into our hands. Had its mother remained with it, or even in its neighborhood, we should at least have seen her, but she was nowhere within a radius of 5 miles at the time her calf was discovered. Nor did she return to look for it, as two of us proved by spending the night in the sage-brush at the very spot where the calf was taken. Colonel Dodge declares that "the cow seems to possess scarcely a trace of maternal instinct, and, when frightened, will abandon and run away from her calf without the slightest hesitation. * * * When the calves are young they are always kept in the center of each small herd, while the bulls dispose themselves on the outside."[28]

[Note 28: Plains of the Great West, pp. 124, 125.]

Apparently the maternal instinct of the cow buffalo was easily mastered by fear. That it was often manifested, however, is proven by the following from Audubon and Bachman:[29]

[Note 29: Quadrupeds of North America, vol. II, pp. 38, 39.]

"Buffalo calves are drowned from being unable to ascend the steep banks of the rivers across which they have just swam, as the cows cannot help them, although they stand near the bank, and will not leave them to their fate unless something alarms them.

"On one occasion Mr. Kipp, of the American Fur Company, caught eleven calves, their dams all the time standing near the top of the bank. Frequently, however, the cows leave the young to their fate, when most of them perish. In connection with this part of the subject, we may add that we were informed, when on the Upper Missouri River, that when the banks of that river were practicable for cows, and their calves could not follow them, they went down again, after having gained the top, and would remain by them until forced away by the cravings of hunger. When thus forced by the necessity of saving themselves to quit their young, they seldom, if ever, return to them. When a large herd of these wild animals are crossing a river, the calves or yearlings manage to get on the backs of the cows, and are thus conveyed safely over."

5. "The Yearling."--During the first five months of his life, the calf changes its coat completely, and becomes in appearance a totally different animal. By the time he is six months old he has taken on all the colors which distinguish him in after life, excepting that upon his fore quarters. The hair on the head has started out to attain the luxuriant length and density which is so conspicuous in the adult, and its general color is a rich dark brown, shading to black under the chin and throat. The fringe under the neck is long, straight, and black, and the under parts, the back of the fore arm, the outside of thigh, and the tail-tuft are all black.

The color of the shoulder, the side, and upper part of the hind quarter is a peculiar smoky brown ("broccoli brown" of Ridgway), having in connection with the darker browns of the other parts a peculiar faded appearance, quite as if it were due to the bleaching power of the sun. On the fore quarters there is none of the bright straw color so characteristic of the adult animal. Along the top of the neck and shoulders, however, this color has at last begun to show faintly. The hair on the body is quite luxuriant, both in length and density, in both respects quite equaling, if not even surpassing, that of the finest adults. For example, the hair on the side of the mounted yearling in the Museum group has a length of 2 to 21/2 inches, while that on the same region of the adult bull, whose pelage is particularly fine, is recorded as being 2 inches only.

The horn is a straight, conical spike from 4 to 6 inches long, according to age, and perfectly black. The legs are proportionally longer and larger in the joints than those of the full-grown animal. The countenance of the yearling is quite interesting. The sleepy, helpless, innocent expression of the very young calf has given place to a wide-awake, mischievous look, and he seems ready to break away and run at a second's notice.

The measurements of the yearling in the Museum group are as follows:

+----------------------------------------------------------------+ |BISON AMERICANUS. (Male yearling, taken Oct. 31, 1886. Montana.)| +----------------------------------------------------------------+ | ("No. 15694, National Museum collection.") | +----------------------------------------------------------------+ | | Feet.| Inches. | |Height at shoulders | 3 | 5 | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail | 5 | | |Depth of chest | 1 | 11 | |Depth of flank | 1 | 1 | |Girth behind fore leg | 4 | 3 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 2 | 11/2 | |Length of tail vertebræ | | 10 | +----------------------------------------------------------------+

6. "The Spike Bull."--In hunters' parlance, the male buffalo between the "yearling" age and four years is called a "spike" bull, in recognition of the fact that up to the latter period the horn is a spike, either perfectly straight, or with a curve near its base, and a straight point the rest of the way up. The curve of the horn is generally hidden in the hair, and the only part visible is the straight, terminal spike. Usually the spike points diverge from each other, but often they are parallel, and also perpendicular. In the fourth year, however, the points of the horns begin to curve inward toward each other, describing equal arcs of the same circle, as if they were going to meet over the top of the head.

In the handsome young "spike" bull in the Museum group, the hair on the shoulders has begun to take on the length, the light color, and tufted appearance of the adult, beginning at the highest point of the hump and gradually spreading. Immediately back of this light patch the hair is long, but dark and woolly in appearance. The leg tufts have doubled in length, and reveal the character of the growth that may be finally expected. The beard has greatly lengthened, as also has the hair upon the bridge of the nose, the forehead, ears, jaws, and all other portions of the head except the cheeks.

The "spike" period of a buffalo is a most interesting one. Like a seventeen-year-old boy, the young bull shows his youth in so many ways it is always conspicuous, and his countenance is so suggestive of a half-bearded youth it fixes the interest to a marked degree. He is active, alert, and suspicious, and when he makes up his mind to run the hunter may as well give up the chase.

By a strange fatality, our spike bull appears to be the only one in any museum, or even in preserved existence, as far as can be ascertained. Out of the twenty-five buffaloes killed and preserved by the Smithsonian expedition, ten of which were adult bulls, this specimen was the only male between the yearling and the adult ages. An effort to procure another entire specimen of this age from Texas yielded only two spike heads. It is to be sincerely regretted that more specimens representing this very interesting period of the buffalo's life have not been preserved, for it is now too late to procure wild specimens.

The following are the post-mortem dimensions of our specimen:

+---------------------------------------------------------------+ | BISON AMERICANUS. | +---------------------------------------------------------------+ |("Spike" bull, two years old; taken October 14, 1886. Montana.)| +---------------------------------------------------------------+ | ("No. 15685, National Museum collection.") | +---------------------------------------------------------------+ | | Feet.| Inches. | |Height at shoulders | 4 | 2 | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail | 7 | 7 | |Depth of chest | 2 | 3 | |Depth of flank | 1 | 7 | |Girth behind fore leg | 6 | 8 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 2 | 81/2 | |Length of tail vertebræ | 1 | | +---------------------------------------------------------------+

7. "The Adult Bull."--In attempting to describe the adult male in the National Museum group, it is difficult to decide which feature is most prominent, the massive, magnificent head, with its shaggy frontlet and luxuriant black beard, or the lofty hump, with its showy covering of straw-yellow hair, in thickly-growing locks 4 inches long. But the head is irresistible in its claims to precedence.

[Illustration: SPIKE BULL. From the group in the National Museum. Reproduced from the "Cosmopolitan Magazine", by permission of the publishers.]

It must be observed at this point that in many respects this animal is an exceptionally fine one. In actual size of frame, and in quantity and quality of pelage, it is far superior to the average, even of wild buffaloes when they were most numerous and at their best.[30] In one respect, however, that of actual bulk, it is believed that this specimen may have often been surpassed. When buffaloes were numerous, and not required to do any great amount of running in order to exist, they were, in the autumn months, very fat. Audubon says: "A large bison bull will generally weigh nearly 2,000 pounds, and a fat cow about 1,200 pounds. We weighed one of the bulls killed by our party, and found it to reach 1,727 pounds, although it had already lost a good deal of blood. This was an old bull, and not fat. It had probably weighed more at some previous period."[31] Our specimen when killed (by the writer, December 6, 1886) was in full vigor, superbly muscled, and well fed, but he carried not a single pound of fat. For years the never-ceasing race for life had utterly prevented the secretion of useless and cumbersome fat, and his "subsistence" had gone toward the development of useful muscle. Having no means by which to weigh him, we could only estimate his weight, in which I called for the advice of my cowboys, all of whom were more or less familiar with the weight of range cattle, and one I regarded as an expert. At first the estimated weight of the animal was fixed at 1,700 pounds, but with a constitutional fear of estimating over the truth, I afterward reduced it to 1,600 pounds. This I am now well convinced was an error, for I believe the first figure to have been nearer the truth.

[Note 30: In testimony whereof the following extract from a letter written by General Stewart Van Vliet, on March 10, 1897, to Professor Baird, is of interest:

"MY DEAR PROFESSOR: On the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant I saw General Sheridan, and yesterday we called on your taxidermist and examined the buffalo bull he is setting up for the Museum. I don't think I have ever seen a more splendid specimen in my life. General Sheridan and I have seen millions of buffalo on the plains in former times. I have killed hundreds, but I never killed a larger animal than the one in the possession of your taxidermist."]

[Note 31: Quadrupeds of North America, vol. II, p. 44.]

In mounting the skin of this animal, we endeavored by every means in our power, foremost of which were three different sets of measurements, taken from the dead animal, one set to check another, to reproduce him when mounted in exactly the same form he possessed in life--muscular, but not fat.

The color of the body and hindquarters of a buffalo is very peculiar, and almost baffles intelligent description. Audubon calls it "between a dark umber and liver-shining brown." I once saw a competent artist experiment with his oil-colors for a quarter of an hour before he finally struck the combination which exactly matched the side of our large bull. To my eyes, the color is a pale gray-brown or smoky gray. The range of individual variation is considerable, some being uniformly darker than the average type, and others lighter. While the under parts of most adults are dark brown or blackish brown, others are actually black. The hair on the body and hinder parts is fine, wavy on the outside, and woolly underneath, and very dense. Add to this the thickness of the skin itself, and the combination forms a covering that is almost impervious to cold.

The entire fore quarter region, "e. g.", the shoulders, the hump, and the upper part of the neck, is covered with a luxuriant growth of pale yellow hair (Naples yellow + yellow ocher), which stands straight out in a dense mass, disposed in handsome tufts. The hair is somewhat woolly in its nature, and the ends are as even as if the whole mass had lately been gone over with shears and carefully clipped. This hair is 4 inches in length. As the living animal moved his head from side to side, the hair parted in great vertical furrows, so deep that the skin itself seemed almost in sight. As before remarked, to comb this hair would utterly destroy its naturalness, and it should never be done under any circumstances. Standing as it does between the darker hair of the body on one side and the almost black mass of the head on the other, this light area is rendered doubly striking and conspicuous by contrast. It not only covers the shoulders, but extends back upon the thorax, where it abruptly terminates on a line corresponding to the sixth rib.

From the shoulder-joint downward, the color shades gradually into a dark brown until at the knee it becomes quite black. The huge fore-arm is lost in a thick mass of long, coarse, and rather straight hair 10 inches in length. This growth stops abruptly at the knee, but it hangs within 6 inches of the hoof. The front side of this mass is blackish brown, but it rapidly shades backward and downward into jet-black.

The hair on the top of the head lies in a dense, matted mass, forming a perfect crown of rich brown (burnt sienna) locks, 16 inches in length, hanging over the eyes, almost enveloping both horns, and spreading back in rich, dark masses upon the light-colored neck.

On the cheeks the hair is of the same blackish brown color, but comparatively short, and lies in beautiful waves. On the bridge of the nose the hair is about 6 inches in length and stands out in a thick, uniform, very curly mass, which always looks as if it had just been carefully combed.

Immediately around the nose and mouth the hair is very short, straight and stiff, and lies close to the skin, which leaves the nostrils and lips fully exposed. The front part of the chin is similarly clad, and its form is perfectly flat, due to the habit of the animal in feeding upon the short, crisp buffalo grass, in the course of which the chin is pressed flat against the ground. The end of the muzzle is very massive, measuring 2 feet 2 inches in circumference just back of the nostrils.

The hair of the chin-beard is coarse, perfectly straight, jet black, and 111/2 inches in length on our old bull.

Occasionally a bull is met with who is a genuine Esau amongst his kind. I once saw a bull, of medium size but fully adult, whose hair was a wonder to behold. I have now in my possession a small lock of hair which I plucked from his forehead, and its length is 221/2 inches. His horns were entirely concealed by the immense mass of long hair that nature had piled upon his head, and his beard was as luxuriant as his frontlet.

[Illustration: BULL BUFFALO IN NATIONAL MUSEUM GROUP. Drawn by Ernest E. Thompson.]

The nostril opening is large and wide. The color of the hairless portions of the nose and mouth is shiny Vandyke brown and black, with a strong tinge of bluish-purple, but this latter tint is not noticeable save upon close examination, and the eyelid is the same. The iris is of an irregular pear-shaped outline, 1-5/16 inches in its longest diameter, very dark, reddish brown in color, with a black edging all around it. Ordinarily no portion of the white eyeball is visible, but the broad black band surrounding the iris, and a corner patch of white, is frequently shown by the turning of the eye. The tongue is bluish purple, as are the lips inside.

The hoofs and horns are, in reality, jet black throughout, but the horn often has at the base a scaly, dead appearance on the outside, and as the wrinkles around the base increase with age and scale up and gather dirt, that part looks gray. The horns of bulls taken in their prime are smooth, glossy black, and even look as if they had been half polished with oil.

As the bull increases in age, the outer layers of the horn begin to break off at the tip and pile up one upon another, until the horn has become a thick, blunt stub, with only the tip of what was once a neat and shapely point showing at the end. The bull is then known as a "stub-horn," and his horns increase in roughness and unsightliness as he grows older. From long rubbing on the earth, the outer curve of each horn is gradually worn flat, which still further mars its symmetry.

The horns serve as a fair index of the age of a bison. After he is three years old, the bison adds each year a ring around the base of his horns, the same as domestic cattle. If we may judge by this, the horn begins to break when the bison is about ten or eleven years old, and the stubbing process gradually continues during the rest of his life. Judging by the teeth, and also the oldest horns I have seen, I am of the opinion that the natural life time of the bison is about twenty-five years; certainly no less.

+--------------------------------------------------------+ | BISON AMERICANUS. | | (Male, eleven years old. | | Taken December 6, 1866. Montana.) | | ("No. 15703, National Museum collection.") | +--------------------------------------------------------+ | |Feet.|Inches.| |Height at shoulders to the skin | 5 | 8 | |Height at shoulders to top of hair | 6 | -- | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail| 10 | 2 | |Depth of chest | 3 | 10 | |Depth of flank | 2 | 0 | |Girth behind fore leg | 8 | 4 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 3 | 6 | |Length of tail vertebræ | 1 | 3 | |Circumference of muzzle back of nostrils | 2 | 2 | +--------------------------------------------------------+

8. "The Cow in the third year."--The young cow of course possesses the same youthful appearance already referred to as characterizing the "spike" bull. The hair on the shoulders has begun to take on the light straw-color, and has by this time attained a length which causes it to arrange itself in tufts, or locks. The body colors have grown darker, and reached their permanent tone. Of course the hair on the head has by no means attained its full length, and the head is not at all handsome.

The horns are quite small, but the curve is well defined, and they distinctly mark the sex of the individual, even at the beginning of the third year.

+------------------------------------------------------------+ | BISON AMERICANUS. | |(Young cow, in third year. Taken October 14, 1886. Montana.)| +------------------------------------------------------------+ | ("No. 15686, National Museum collection.") | +------------------------------------------------------------+ | |Feet.| Inches. | |Height at shoulders | 4 | 5 | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail| 7 | 7 | |Depth of chest | 2 | 4 | |Depth of flank | 1 | 4 | |Girth behind fore leg | 5 | 4 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 2 | 81/2 | |Length of tail vertebræ | 1 | .. | +------------------------------------------------------------+

9. "The adult Cow."--The upper body color of the adult cow in the National Museum group (see Plate) is a rich, though not intense, Vandyke brown, shading imperceptibly down the sides into black, which spreads over the entire under parts and inside of the thighs. The hair on the lower joints of the leg is in turn lighter, being about the same shade as that on the loins. The fore-arm is concealed in a mass of almost black hair, which gradually shades lighter from the elbow upward and along the whole region of the humerus. On the shoulder itself the hair is pale yellow or straw-color (Naples yellow + yellow ocher), which extends down in a point toward the elbow. From the back of the head a conspicuous baud of curly, dark-brown hair extends back like a mane along the neck and to the top of the hump, beyond which it soon fades out.

The hair on the head is everywhere a rich burnt-sienna brown, except around the corners of the mouth, where it shades into black.

The horns of the cow bison are slender, but solid for about two-thirds of their length from the tip, ringed with age near their base, and quite black. Very often they are imperfect in shape, and out of every five pairs at least one is generally misshapen. Usually one horn is "crumpled," "e. g.", dwarfed in length and unnaturally thickened at the base, and very often one horn is found to be merely an unsightly, misshapen stub.

[Illustration: From a photograph. Engraved by Frederick Juengling. BULL BUFFALO. (REAR VIEW.) Reproduced from the "Cosmopolitan Magazine", by permission of the publishers.]

The udder of the cow bison is very small, as might be expected of an animal which must do a great deal of hard traveling, but the milk is said to be very rich. Some authorities declare that it requires the milk of two domestic cows to satisfy one buffalo calf, but this, I think, is an error. Our calf began in May to consume 6 quarts of domestic milk daily, which by June 10 had increased to 8, and up to July 10, 9 quarts was the utmost it could drink. By that time it began to eat grass, but the quantity of milk disposed of remained about the same.

+---------------------------------------------------------------+ | BISON AMERICANUS. | |(Adult cow, eight years old. Taken November 18, 1886. Montana.)| +---------------------------------------------------------------+ | ("No. 15767, National Museum collection.") | +---------------------------------------------------------------+ | | Feet.| Inches. | |Height at shoulders | 4 | 10 | |Length, head and body to insertion of tail| 8 | 6 | |Depth of chest | 3 | 7 | |Depth of flank | 1 | 7 | |Girth behind fore leg | 6 | 10 | |From base of horns around end of nose | 3 | | |Length of tail vertebræ | 1 | | +---------------------------------------------------------------+

10. "The "Wood," or "Mountain" Buffalo."--Having myself never seen a specimen of the so called "mountain buffalo" or "wood buffalo," which some writers accord the rank of a distinct variety, I can only quote the descriptions of others. While most Rocky Mountain hunters consider the bison of the mountains quite distinct from that of the plains, it must be remarked that no two authorities quite agree in regard to the distinguishing characters of the variety they recognize. Colonel Dodge states that "His body is lighter, whilst his legs are shorter, but much thicker and stronger, than the plains animal, thus enabling him to perform feats of climbing and tumbling almost incredible in such a huge and unwieldy beast."[32]

[Note 32: Plains of the Great West, p. 144.]

The belief in the existence of a distinct mountain variety is quite common amongst hunters and frontiersmen all along the eastern slope the Rocky Mountains as far north as the Peace River. In this connection the following from Professor Henry Youle Hind[33] is of general interest:

[Note 33: Red River, Assinniboine and Saskatchewan Expedition, II p. 104-105.]

"The existence of two kinds of buffalo is firmly believed by many hunters at Red River; they are stated to be the prairie buffalo and the buffalo of the woods. Many old hunters with whom I have conversed on this subject aver that the so-called wood buffalo is a distinct species, and although they are not able to offer scientific proofs, yet the difference in size, color, hair, and horns, are enumerated as the evidence upon which they base their statement. Men from their youth familiar with these animals in the great plains, and the varieties which are frequently met with in large herds, still cling to this opinion. The buffalo of the plains are not always of the dark and rich bright brown which forms their characteristic color. They are sometimes seen from white to almost black, and a gray buffalo is not at all uncommon. Buffalo emasculated by wolves are often found on the prairies, where they grow to an immense size; the skin of the buffalo ox is recognized by the shortness of the wool and by its large dimensions. The skin of the so-called wood buffalo is much larger than that of the common animal, the hair is very short, mane or hair about the neck short and soft, and altogether destitute of curl, which is the common feature in the hair or wool of the prairie animal. Two skins of the so-called wood buffalo, which I saw at Selkirk Settlement, bore a very close resemblance to the skin of the Lithuanian bison, judging from the specimens of that species which I have since had an opportunity of seeing in the British Museum.

"The wood buffalo is stated to be very scarce, and only found north of the Saskatchewan and on the flanks of the Rocky Mountains. It never ventures into the open plains. The prairie buffalo, on the contrary, generally avoids the woods in summer and keeps to the open country; but in winter they are frequently found in the woods of the Little Souris, Saskatchewan, the Touchwood Hills, and the aspen groves on the Qu'Appelle. There is no doubt that formerly the prairie buffalo ranged through open woods almost as much as he now does through the prairies."

Mr. Harrison S. Young, an officer of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company, stationed at Fort Edmonton, writes me as follows in a letter dated October 22, 1887: "In our district of Athabasca, along the Salt River, there are still a few wood buffalo killed every year; but they are fast diminishing in numbers, and are also becoming very shy."

In Prof. John Macoun's "Manitoba and the Great Northwest," page 342, there occurs the following reference to the wood buffalo: "In the winter of 1870 the last buffalo were killed north of Peace River; but in 1875 about one thousand head were still in existence between the Athabasca and Peace Rivers, north of Little Slave Lake. These are called wood buffalo by the hunters, but diner only in size from those of the plain."

In the absence of facts based on personal observations, I may be permitted to advance an opinion in regard to the wood buffalo. There is some reason for the belief that certain changes of form may have taken place in the buffaloes that have taken up a permanent residence in rugged and precipitous mountain regions. Indeed, it is hardly possible to understand how such a radical change in the habitat of an animal could fail, through successive generations, to effect certain changes in the animal itself. It seems to me that the changes which would take place in a band of plains buffaloes transferred to a permanent mountain habitat can be forecast with a marked degree of certainty. The changes that take place under such conditions in cattle, swine, and goats are well known, and similar causes would certainly produce similar results in the buffalo.

The scantier feed of the mountains, and the great waste of vital energy called for in procuring it, would hardly produce a larger buffalo than the plains-fed animal, who acquires an abundance of daily food of the best quality with but little effort.

We should expect to see the mountain buffalo smaller in body than the plains animal, with better leg development, and particularly with stronger hind quarters. The pelvis of the plains buffalo is surprisingly small and weak for so large an animal. Beyond question, constant mountain climbing is bound to develop a maximum of useful muscle and bone and a minimum of useless fat. If the loss of mane sustained by the African lions who live in bushy localities may be taken as an index, we should expect the bison of the mountains, especially the "wood buffalo," to lose a great deal of his shaggy frontlet and mane on the bushes and trees which surrounded him. Therefore, we would naturally expect to find the hair on those parts shorter and in far less perfect condition than on the bison of the treeless prairies. By reason of the more shaded condition of his home, and the decided mitigation of the sun's fierceness, we should also expect to see his entire pelage of a darker tone. That he would acquire a degree of agility and strength unknown in his relative of the plain is reasonably certain. In the course of many centuries the change in his form might become well defined, constant, and conspicuous; but at present there is apparently not the slightest ground for considering that the "mountain buffalo" or "wood buffalo" is entitled to rank even as a variety of "Bison americanus".

Colonel Dodge has recorded some very interesting information in regard to the "mountain, or wood buffalo," which deserves to be quoted entire.[34]

[Note 34: Plains of the Great West, p. 144-147.]

"In various portions of the Rocky Mountains, especially in the region of the parks, is found an animal which old mountaineers call the 'bison.' This animal bears about the same relation to a plains buffalo as a sturdy mountain pony does to an American horse. His body is lighter, whilst his legs are shorter, but much thicker and stronger, than the plains animal, thus enabling him to perform feats of climbing and tumbling almost incredible in such a huge and apparently unwieldy beast.

"These animals are by no means plentiful, and are moreover excessively shy, inhabiting the deepest, darkest defiles, or the craggy, almost precipitous, sides of mountains inaccessible to any but the most practiced mountaineers.

"From the tops of the mountains which rim the parks the rains of ages have cut deep gorges, which plunge with brusque abruptness, but nevertheless with great regularity, hundreds or even thousands of feet to the valley below. Down the bottom of each such gorge a clear, cold stream of purest water, fertilizing a narrow belt of a few feet of alluvial, and giving birth and growth, to a dense jungle of spruce, quaking asp, and other mountain trees. One side of the gorge is generally a thick forest of pine, while the other side is a meadow-like park, covered with splendid grass. Such gorges are the favorite haunt of the mountain buffalo. Early in the morning he enjoys a bountiful breakfast of the rich nutritious grasses, quenches his thirst with the finest water, and, retiring just within the line of jungle, where, himself unseen, he can scan the open, he crouches himself in the long grass and reposes in comfort and security until appetite calls him to his dinner late in the evening. Unlike their plains relative, there is no stupid staring at an intruder. At the first symptom of danger they disappear like magic in the thicket, and never stop until far removed from even the apprehension of pursuit. I have many times come upon their fresh tracks, upon the beds from which they had first sprung in alarm, but I have never even seen one.

"I have wasted much time and a great deal of wind in vain endeavors to add one of these animals to my bag. My figure is no longer adapted to mountain climbing, and the possession of a bison's head of my own killing is one of my blighted hopes.

"Several of my friends have been more fortunate, but I know of no sportsman who has bagged more than one.[35]

[Note 35: Foot-note by William Blackmore: "The author is in error here, as in a point of the Tarryall range of mountains, between Pike's Peak and the South Park, in the autumn of 1871, two mountain buffaloes were killed in one afternoon. The skin of the finer was presented to Dr. Frank Buckland."]

"Old mountaineers and trappers have given me wonderful accounts of the number of these animals in all the mountain region 'many years ago;' and I have been informed by them, that their present rarity is due to the great snow-storm of 1844-'45, of which I have already spoken as destroying the plains buffalo in the Laramie country.

"One of my friends, a most ardent and pertinacious sportsman, determined on the possession of a bison's head, and, hiring a guide, plunged into the mountain wilds which separate the Middle from South Park. After several days fresh tracks were discovered. Turning their horses loose on a little gorge park, such as described, they started on foot on the trail; for all that day they toiled and scrambled with the utmost caution--now up, now down, through deep and narrow gorges and pine thickets, over bare and rocky crags, sleeping where night overtook them. Betimes next morning they pushed on the trail, and about 11 o'clock, when both were exhausted and well-nigh disheartened, their route was intercepted by a precipice. Looking over, they descried, on a projecting ledge several hundred feet below, a herd of about 20 bisons lying down. The ledge was about 300 feet at widest, by probably 1,000 feet long. Its inner boundary was the wall of rock on the top of which they stood; its outer appeared to be a sheer precipice of at least 200 feet. This ledge was connected with the slope of the mountain by a narrow neck. The wind being right, the hunters succeeded in reaching this neck unobserved. My friend selected a magnificent head, that of a fine bull, young but full grown, and both fired. At the report the bisons all ran to the far end of the ledge and plunged over.

"Terribly disappointed, the hunters ran to the spot, and found that they had gone down a declivity, not actually a precipice, but so steep that the hunters could not follow them.

"At the foot lay a bison. A long, a fatiguing detour brought them to the spot, and in the animal lying dead before him my friend recognized his bull--his first and last mountain buffalo. Hone but a true sportsman can appreciate his feelings.

"The remainder of the herd was never seen after the great plunge, down which it is doubtful if even a dog could have followed unharmed."

In the issue of Forest and Stream of June 14, 1888, Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, in an article entitled "The American Buffalo," relates a very interesting experience with buffaloes which were pronounced to be of the "mountain" variety, and his observations on the animals are well worth reproducing here. The animals (eight in number) were encountered on the northern slope of the Big Horn Mountains, in the autumn of 1877. "We came upon them during a fearful blizzard of heavy hail, during which our animals could scarcely retain their feet. In fact, the packer's mule absolutely lay down on the ground rather than risk being blown down the mountain side, and my own horse, totally unable to face such a violent blow and the pelting hail (the stones being as large as big marbles), positively stood stock-still, facing an old buffalo bull that was not more than 25 feet in front of me. * * * Strange to say, this fearful gust did not last more than ten minutes, when it stopped as suddenly as it had commenced, and I deliberately killed my old buffalo at one shot, just where he stood, and, separating two other bulls from the rest, charged them down a rugged ravine. They passed over this and into another one, but with less precipitous sides and no trees in the way, and when I was on top of the intervening ridge I noticed that the largest bull had halted in the bottom. Checking my horse, an excellent buffalo hunter, I fired down at him without dismounting. The ball merely barked his shoulder, and to my infinite surprise he turned and charged me up the hill. * * * Stepping to one side of my horse, with the charging and infuriated bull not 10 feet to my front, I fired upon him, and the heavy ball took him square in the chest, bringing him to his knees, with a gush of scarlet blood from his mouth and nostrils. * * *

"Upon examining the specimen, I found it to be an old bull, apparently smaller and very much blacker than the ones I had seen killed on the plains only a day or so before. Then I examined the first one I had shot, as well as others which were killed by the packer from the same bunch, and I came to the conclusion that they were typical representatives of the variety known as the 'mountain buffalo,' a form much more active in movement, of slighter limbs, blacker, and far more dangerous to attack. My opinion in the premises remains unaltered to-day. In all this I may be mistaken, but it was also the opinion held by the old buffalo hunter who accompanied me, and who at once remarked when he saw them that they were 'mountain buffalo,' and not the plains variety. * * *

"These specimens were not actually measured by me in either case, and their being considered smaller only rested upon my judging them by my eye. But they were of a softer pelage, black, lighter in limb, and when discovered were in the timber, on the side of the Big Horn Mountains."

The band of bison in the Yellowstone Park must, of necessity, be of the so-called "wood" or "mountain" variety, and if by any chance one of its members ever dies of old age, it is to be hoped its skin may be carefully preserved and sent to the National Museum to throw some further light on this question.

11. "The shedding of the winter pelage."--In personal appearance the buffalo is subject to striking, and even painful, variations, and the estimate an observer forms of him is very apt to depend upon the time of the year at which the observation is made. Toward the end of the winter the whole coat has become faded and bleached by the action of the sun, wind, snow, and rain, until the freshness of its late autumn colors has totally disappeared. The bison takes on a seedy, weathered, and rusty look. But this is not a circumstance to what happens to him a little later. Promptly with the coming of the spring, if not even in the last week of February, the buffalo begins the shedding of his winter coat. It is a long and difficult task, and with commendable energy he sets about it at the earliest possible moment. It lasts him more than half the year, and is attended with many positive discomforts.

The process of shedding is accomplished in two ways: by the new hair growing into and forcing off the old, and by the old hair falling off in great patches, leaving the skin bare. On the heavily-haired portions--the head, neck, fore quarters, and hump--the old hair stops growing, dies, and the new hair immediately starts through the skin and forces it off. The new hair grows so rapidly, and at the same time so densely, that it forces itself into the old, becomes hopelessly entangled with it, and in time actually lifts the old hair clear of the skin. On the head the new hair is dark brown or black, but on the neck, fore quarters, and hump it has at first, and indeed until it is 2 inches in length, a peculiar gray or drab color, mixed with brown, totally different from its final and natural color. The new hair starts first on the head, but the actual shedding of the old hair is to be seen first along the lower parts of the neck and between the fore legs. The heavily-haired parts are never bare, but, on the contrary, the amount of hair upon them is about the same all the year round. The old and the new hair cling together with provoking tenacity long after the old coat should fall, and on several of the bulls we killed in October there were patches of it still sticking tightly to the shoulders, from which it had to be forcibly plucked away. Under all such patches the new hair was of a different color from that around them.

The other process of shedding takes place on the body and hind quarters, from which the old hair loosens and drops off in great woolly flakes a foot square, more or less. The shedding takes place very unevenly, the old hair remaining much longer in some places than in others. During April, May, and June the body and hind quarters present a most ludicrous and even pitiful spectacle. The island-like patches of persistent old hair alternating with patches of bare brown skin are adorned (?) by great ragged streamers of loose hair, which flutter in the wind like signals of distress. Whoever sees a bison at this period is filled with a desire to assist nature by plucking off the flying streamers of old hair; but the bison never permits anything of the kind, however good one's intentions may be. All efforts to dislodge the old hair are resisted to the last extremity, and the buffalo generally acts as if the intention were to deprive him of his skin itself. By the end of June, if not before, the body and hind quarters are free from the old hair, and as bare as the hide of a hippopotamus. The naked skin has a shiny brown appearance, and of course the external anatomy of the animal is very distinctly revealed. But for the long hair on the fore quarters, neck, and head the bison would lose all his dignity of appearance with his hair. As it is, the handsome black head, which is black with new hair as early as the first of May, redeems the animal from utter homeliness.

After the shedding of the body hair, the naked skin of the buffalo is burned by the sun and bitten by flies until he is compelled to seek a pool of water, or even a bed of soft mud, in which to roll and make himself comfortable. He wallows, not so much because he is so fond of either water or mud, but in self-defense; and when he emerges from his wallow, plastered with mud from head to tail, his degradation is complete. He is then simply not fit to be seen, even by his best friends.

By the first of October, a complete and wonderful transformation has taken place. The buffalo stands forth clothed in a complete new suit of hair, fine, clean, sleek, and bright in color, not a speck of dirt nor a lock awry anywhere. To be sure, it is as yet a trifle short on the body, where it is not over an inch in length, and hardly that; but it is growing rapidly and getting ready for winter.

From the 20th of November to the 20th of December the pelage is at its very finest. By the former date it has attained its full growth, its colors are at their brightest, and nothing has been lost either by the elements or by accidental causes. To him who sees an adult bull at this period, or near it, the grandeur of the animal is irresistibly felt. After seeing buffaloes of all ages in the spring and summer months the contrast afforded by those seen in October, November, and December was most striking and impressive. In the later period, as different individuals were wounded and brought to bay at close quarters, their hair was so clean and well-kept, that more than once I was led to exclaim: "He looks as if he had just been combed."

It must be remarked, however, that the long hair of the head and fore quarters is disposed in locks or tufts, and to comb it in reality would utterly destroy its natural and characteristic appearance.

Inasmuch as the pelage of the domesticated bison, the only representatives of the species which will be found alive ten years hence, will in all likelihood develop differently from that of the wild animal, it may some time in the future be of interest to know the length, by careful measurement, of the hair found on carefully-selected typical wild specimens. To this end the following measurements are given. It must be borne in mind that these specimens were not chosen because their pelage was particularly luxuriant, but rather because they are fine average specimens.

The hair of the adult bull is by no means as long as I have seen on a bison, although perhaps not many have greatly surpassed it. It is with the lower animals as with man--the length of the hairy covering is an individual character only. I have in my possession a tuft of hair, from the frontlet of a rather small bull bison, which measures 221/2 inches in length. The beard on the specimen from which this came was correspondingly long, and the entire pelage was of wonderful length and density.


[Measurements, in inches, of the pelage of the specimens composing the group in the National Museum.]

+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+ | |Old |Old |Spike |Young |Yearling|Young | | |bull, |cow, |bull, |cow, |calf, |calf, | | |killed |killed |killed |killed |killed |four | | |Dec. 6.|Nov. 18.|Oct. 14.|Oct. 14.|Oct. 31.|months| |Length of: | | | | | |old. | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |hair on the shoulder| | | | | | | |(over scapula) | 33/4 | 43/4 | 31/2 | 31/4 | 3 | 11/2 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |hair on top of hump | 61/2 | 7 | 51/4 | 51/2 | 41/2 | 2 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |hair on the middle | | | | | | | |of the side | 2 | 11/2 | 21/2 | 11/2 | 21/4 | 11/4 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |hair on the | | | | | | | |hind quarter | 13/4 | 11/4 | 3/4 | 3/4 | 2 | 1 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |hair on the | | | | | | | |forehead | 16 | 81/2 | 61/2 | 5 | 31/2 | 1/2 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |the chin beard | 111/2 | 91/2 | 63/4 | 5 | 5 | 0 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |the breast tuft | 8 | 81/2 | 8 | 6 | 5 | 3 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |tuft on fore leg | 101/2 | 8 | 8 | 41/2 | 3 | 11/2 | +--------------------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+------+ |the tail tuft | 19 | 15 | 15 | 13 | 71/2 | 41/2 | +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+

"Albinism."--Cases of albinism in the buffalo were of extremely rare occurrence. I have met many old buffalo hunters, who had killed thousands and seen scores of thousands of buffaloes, yet never had seen a white one. From all accounts it appears that not over ten or eleven white buffaloes, or white buffalo skins, were ever seen by white men. Pied individuals were occasionally obtained, but even they were rare. Albino buffaloes were always so highly prized that not a single one, so far as I can learn, ever had the good fortune to attain adult size, their appearance being so striking, in contrast with the other members of the herd, as to draw upon them an unusual number of enemies, and cause their speedy destruction.

At the New Orleans Exposition, in 1884-'85, the Territory of Dakota exhibited, amongst other Western quadrupeds, the mounted skin of a two-year-old buffalo which might fairly be called an albino. Although not really white, it was of a uniform dirty cream-color, and showed not a trace of the bison's normal color on any part of its body.

Lieut. Col. S. C. Kellogg, U. S. Army, has on deposit in the National Museum a tanned skin which is said to have come from a buffalo. It is from an animal about one year old, and the hair upon it, which is short, very curly or wavy, and rather coarse, is pure white. In length and texture the hair does not in any one respect resemble the hair of a yearling buffalo save in one particular,--along the median line of the neck and hump there is a rather long, thin mane of hair, which has the peculiar woolly appearance of genuine buffalo hair on those parts. On the shoulder portions of the skin the hair is as short as on the hind quarters. I am inclined to believe this rather remarkable specimen came from a wild half-breed calf, the result of a cross between a white domestic cow and a buffalo bull. At one time it was by no means uncommon for small bunches of domestic cattle to enter herds of buffalo and remain there permanently.

I have been informed that the late General Marcy possessed a white buffalo skin. If it is still in existence, and is really "white", it is to be hoped that so great a rarity may find a permanent abiding place in some museum where the remains of "Bison americanus" are properly appreciated.


The history of the buffalo's daily life and habits should begin with the "running season." This period occupied the months of August and September, and was characterized by a degree of excitement and activity throughout the entire herd quite foreign to the ease-loving and even slothful nature which was so noticeable a feature of the bison's character at all other times.

The mating season occurred when the herd was on its summer range. The spring calves were from two to four months old. Through continued feasting on the new crop of buffalo-grass and bunch-grass--the most nutritious in the world, perhaps--every buffalo in the herd had grown round-sided, fat, and vigorous. The faded and weather-beaten suit of winter hair had by that time fallen off and given place to the new coat of dark gray and black, and, excepting for the shortness of his hair, the buffalo was in prime c



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