dangerous beast. This name has been a stumbling block to scholars for years, and opinions vary as to whether it was a wild stallion–at all times a savage animal–or a lone survivor of the Megaceros, or Irish elk. In this connection it may be well to remark that the Irish elk and the true elk were not closely related beyond the fact that both were members of the deer family. The Irish elk, which was common in Europe throughout the glacial and post-glacial periods, living down nearly or quite to the historic period, was nothing more than a gigantic fallow deer.
The old world elk is still found in some of the large game preserves of eastern Germany, where the Emperor, with his somewhat remarkable ideas of sportsmanship, annually adds several to his list of slaughtered game. They are comparatively abundant in Scandinavia, especially in Norway, where they are preserved with great care. They still survive in considerable numbers in Russia and Siberia as far east as Amurland.
Without going into a detailed description of the anatomical differences between the European elk and the American moose, it may be said that the old world animal is much smaller in size and lighter in color. The antlers are less elaborate and smaller in the European animal, and correspond to the stage of development reached by the average three-year-old bull of eastern Canada. There is a marked separation of the main antler and the brow antlers. That this deterioration of both body and antlers is due partly to long continued elimination of the best bulls, and partly to inbreeding, is probable. We know that the decline of the European red deer is due to these causes, and that a similar process of deterioration is showing among the moose in certain outlying districts in eastern North America.
The type species of this group, known as _Alces machlis_, was long considered by European naturalists uniform throughout its circumpolar distribution, in the north of both hemispheres. The American view that practically all animals in this country represent species distinct from their European congeners is now generally accepted, and the name _Alces americanus_ has been given to the American form. It would appear, however, that the generic name _Alces_ must soon be replaced by the earlier form _Paralces_.
[Illustration: YEARLING MOOSE.]
The comparatively slight divergence of the two types at the extreme east and west limits of their range, namely, Norway and eastern Canada, would indicate that the period of separation of the various members of the genus is not, geologically speaking, of great antiquity.
The name _moose_ is an Algonquin word, meaning a wood eater or browser, and is most appropriate, since the animal is pre-eminently a creature of the thick woods. The old world term elk was applied by the English settlers, probably in Virginia, to the wapiti deer, an animal very closely related to the red deer of Europe. In Canada the moose is sometimes spoken of as the elk, and even in the Rocky Mountain region one hears occasionally of the “flat-horned elk.” We are fortunate in possessing a native name for this animal, and to call it other than moose can only create confusion.
The range of the moose in North America extends from Nova Scotia in the extreme east, throughout Canada and certain of the Northern United States, to the limits of tree growth in the west and north of Alaska. Throughout this vast extent of territory but two species are recognized, the common moose, _Alces americanus_, and the Alaska moose, _Alces gigas_, of the Kenai Peninsula. What the limits of the range of the Alaska moose are, may not be known for some years. Specimens obtained in the autumn of 1902 from the headwaters of the Stikine River in British Columbia, appear to resemble closely, in their large size and dark coloration, the moose of the Kenai Peninsula. The antlers, however, are much smaller. These specimens also differ from the eastern moose in the same manner as does the Kenai Peninsula animal, except in the antlers, which approximate to those of the type species.
I have no doubt that the moose on the mainland along Cook Inlet will prove to be identical with those of the Kenai Peninsula itself, but how far their range extends we have at present no means of knowing. It is even possible that further exploration will bring to light other species in the Northwestern Provinces and in Alaska.
Taking up this range in detail, the Nova Scotia moose are to-day distinctly smaller than their kin in Ontario, but are very numerous when the settled character of the country is taken into consideration. I have seen very few good antlers come from this district, and in my opinion the race there is showing decided signs of deterioration.
[Illustration: MAINE MOOSE; ABOUT 1890.]
These remarks apply, but with less force, to New Brunswick and to Maine, where the moose, though larger than the Nova Scotia animal, are distinctly inferior to those of the region north of the Great Lakes. This is probably due to killing off the big bulls, thus leaving the breeding to be done by the smaller and weaker bulls; and, also, to inbreeding.
In Maine the moose originally abounded, but by the middle of the last century they were so reduced in numbers as to be almost rare. Thanks to very efficient game laws, backed by an intelligent public opinion, moose have greatly increased during the last few days in Maine and also in New Brunswick. Their habits have been modified, but as far as the number of moose and deer are concerned, the protection of game in Maine has been a brilliant example to the rest of the country. During the same period, however, caribou have almost entirely disappeared.
Moose were found by the first settlers in New Hampshire and Vermont, appearing occasionally, as migrants only, in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts. In the State of New York the Catskills appear to have been their extreme southern limit in the east; but they disappeared from this district more than a century ago. In the Adirondacks, or the North Woods, as they were formerly called, moose abounded among the hard wood ridges and lakes. This was the great hunting country of the Six Nations. Here, too, many of the Canadian Indians came for their winter supply of moose meat and hides. The rival tribes fought over these hunting grounds much in the same manner as the northern and southern Indians warred for the control of Kentucky.
Going westward in the United States we find no moose until we reach the northern peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin, where moose were once numerous. They are still abundant in northern Minnesota, where the country is extremely well suited to their habits. Then there is a break, caused by the great plains, until we reach the Rocky Mountains. They are found along the mountains of western Montana and Idaho as far south as the northwest corner of Wyoming in the neighborhood of the Yellowstone Park, the Tetons and the Wind River Mountains being their southern limit in this section. The moose of the west are relatively small animals with simple antlers, and have adapted themselves to mountain living in striking contrast to their kin in the east.
[Footnote 10: William Roland, an old-time mountaineer, states that he once killed a moose about ten miles north of old Ft. Tetterman, in what is now Wyoming.–EDITOR.]
[Illustration: MOOSE KILLED 1892, WITH UNUSUAL DEVELOPMENT OF BROW ANTLERS. UPPER OTTAWA RIVER. CANADA]
North of the Canadian boundary we may start with the curious fact that the great peninsula of Labrador, which seems in every way a suitable locality for moose, has always been devoid of them. There is no record of their ever appearing east of the Saguenay River, and this fact accounts for their absence from Newfoundland, which received its fauna from the north by way of Labrador, and not from the west by way of Cape Breton. Newfoundland is well suited to the moose, and a number of individuals have been turned loose there, without, as yet, any apparent results. Systematic and persistent effort, however, in this direction should be successful.
South of the St. Lawrence River, the peninsula of Gaspe was once a favorite range, but the moose were nearly killed off in the early ’60’s by hide-hunters. Further west they are found in small numbers on both banks of the St. Lawrence well back from the settlements, until on the north shore we reach Trois Rivieres, west of which they become more numerous.
The region of the upper Ottawa and Lake Kippewa has been in recent years the best moose country in the east. The moose from this district average much heavier and handsomer antlers than those of Maine and the Maritime Provinces. However, the moose are now rapidly leaving this country and pushing further north. Twenty-five years ago they first appeared, coming from the south, probably from the Muskoka Lake country, into which they may have migrated in turn from the Adirondacks. This northern movement has been going on steadily within the personal knowledge of the writer. Ten years ago the moose were practically all south and east of Lake Kippewa, now they are nearly all north of that lake, and extend nearly, if not quite, to the shores of James Bay. How far to the west of that they have spread we do not know; but it is probable that they are reoccupying the range lying between the shores of Lake Superior and James Bay, which was long abandoned. Northwest of Lake Superior, throughout Manitoba and far to the north, is a region heavily wooded and studded with lakes, constituting a practically untouched moose country.
No moose, of course, are found in the plains country of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; but east in Keewatin, and to the north in Athabaska, northern British Columbia, and northwest into Alaska we have an unbroken range, in which moose are scattered everywhere. They are increasing wherever their ancient foe, the Indian, is dying off, and where white hunters do not pursue too persistently. In this entire region, from the Ottawa in the east to the Kenai Peninsula in the far west, moose are retiring toward the north before the advance of civilization, and are everywhere occupying new country.
[Illustration: ALASKA MOOSE HEAD SHOWING UNUSUAL DEVELOPMENT OF ANTLERS–KENAI PENINSULA. Kindness American Museum of Natural History, New York.]
Wary and keen, and with great muscular strength and hardihood, the moose is pitting his acute senses against the encroaching rifleman in the struggle for survival, and it is fair to believe that this superb member of the deer family will continue to be an inhabitant of the forest long after most other members of the group have disappeared.
The moose of Maine and the Maritime Provinces occupy a relatively small area, surrounded on all sides by settlements, which prevent the animals from leaving the country when civilization encroaches. In this district their habits have been greatly modified. They do not show the same fear of the sound of rifle, of the smell of fire, or even of the scent of human footsteps, as in the wilder portions of the country. In consequence of this change of habit, it is difficult for a hunter, whose experience is limited to Maine or the Maritime Provinces, to appreciate how very shy and wary a moose can be.
In the upper Ottawa country, when they first began to be hunted by sportsmen, the writer remembers landing from his canoe on the bank of a small stream, and walking around a marsh a few acres in extent to look at the moose tracks. Fresh signs, made that morning, were everywhere in evidence, and it had apparently been a favorite resort all summer. Snow fell that night and remained continuously on the ground for two weeks, when the writer again passed by this swamp and found that during the interval it had not been visited by a single moose. The moccasin tracks had been scented, and the moose had left the neighborhood. A moose with a nose as sensitive as this would find existence unendurable in New Brunswick or Maine.
I have already referred to the relative size of the antlers of the moose from different localities, and called attention to the inferiority of the heads from the extreme east. Large heads have, however, come from this section, and even now one hears of several heads being taken annually in New Brunswick running to five feet and a little over in spread. The test of the value of a moose head is the width of its antlers between the extreme points. The antlers of a young individual show but few points, but these are long and the webbing on the main blade is narrow. The brow antlers usually show two points. As the moose grows larger the palmation becomes wider, and the points more numerous but shorter, until in a very old specimen the upper part of the antler is merely scalloped along the edge, and the web is of great breadth. In the older and finer specimens the brow antlers are more complex, and show three points instead of two.
[Illustration: “BIERSTADT” HEAD. KILLED 1880, BOUNDARY OF NEW BRUNSWICK AND MAINE EXTREME SPREAD, 64! INCHES]
A similar change takes place in the bell. This pendulous gland is long and narrow in the young hull, but as he ages it shortens and widens, becoming eventually a sort of dewlap under the throat.
One of the best heads from Maine that I can recall, was in the possession of the late Albert Bierstadt, a member of the Boone and Crockett Club. The extreme spread of these antlers was 64-1/4 inches. This bull was killed in New Brunswick, near the Maine line, some twenty years ago; another famous Maine head was presented to President Cleveland during his first term. Photographs of both of these heads appear herewith. Many very handsome heads have been taken in the Ottawa district, sometimes running well over five feet. It is safe to assume that a little short of six feet is the extreme width of an eastern head.
The moose of the Rocky Mountains are relatively smaller than the eastern moose, and their antlers are seldom of imposing proportions.
As we go north into British Columbia, through the headwaters of the Peace and Liard rivers, the animal becomes very large in size, perhaps larger than anywhere else in the world as far as his body is concerned, and it is highly probable that somewhere in this neighborhood the range of the giant Alaska moose begins. The species, however, does not show great antler development in this locality, but for some reason the antlers achieve their maximum development in the Kenai Peninsula.
In the Kenai Peninsula and the country around Cook Inlet, Alaska, with an unknown distribution to south and east, we find the distinct species recently described as _Alces gigas_. The animal itself has great bulk, but perhaps not more so than the animals of the Cassiar Mountains, to which it is closely related. The antlers of these Alaska moose are simply huge, running, on the average, very much larger and more complex than even picked heads from the east. These antlers, in addition to their size, have a certain peculiarity in the position of the brow antlers, the plane of which is more often turned nearly at right angles to the plane of the palmation of the main beam than in the eastern moose. In a high percentage of the larger heads there is on one or both antlers an additional and secondary palmation. In the arrangement and development of the brow antlers, and in the complexity produced by this doubling of the beam, a startling resemblance is shown to the extinct _Cervalces_, a moose-like deer of the American Pleistocene, possibly ancestral to the genus _Alces_. If this resemblance indicates any close relationship, we have in the Alaska moose a survivor of the archaic type from which the true moose and Scandinavian elk have somewhat degenerated. The photographs of the Alaska moose shown herewith have this double palmation.
[Illustration: PROBABLY LARGEST KNOWN ALASKA MOOSE HEAD–KENAI PENINSULA, 1899 EXTREME SPREAD, 78-1/2 INCHES–WEIGHT OF SKULL AND ANTLERS, 93 LBS]
Several heads from the Kenai Peninsula ranging over six feet are authentic; a photograph of the largest moose head in the world is published herewith. This head is in the possession of the Field Columbian Museum at Chicago, and measures 78-1/2 inches spread. The animal that bore it stood about seven feet at shoulders, but this height is not infrequently equaled by eastern moose. The weight of the dried skull and antlers was ninety-three pounds, the palmation being in places 2-1/8 inches thick.
There are several large heads in the possession of American taxidermists, which, if properly authenticated, would prove of interest. No head, however, is of much value as a record unless its history is well known, and unless it has been in the hands of responsible persons. The measurements of antler spread can be considered authentic only when the skull is intact. If the skull is split an almost imperceptible paring of the skull bones at the joint would suffice to drop the antlers either laterally out of their proper plane, or else pitch the main beam backward. By either of these devices a couple of inches can be gained on each side, making a difference of several inches in the aggregate. But the possession of an unbroken skull is by no means a guarantee of the exact size of the head when killed.
Since large antlers, and especially so-called “record heads,” of any species of deer command a price among those who desire to pose as sportsmen, and have not the strength or skill to hunt themselves, it has become a regular business for dealers to buy up unusual heads. The temptation to tamper with such a head and increase its size is very great, and heads passing through the hands of such dealers must be discarded as of little scientific value. A favorite device is to take a green head, force the antlers apart with a board and a wedge every few days during the winter. By spring the skull and antlers are dry and the plank can be removed. The spread of antlers has meantime gained several inches since the death of the animal that bore them. Such a device is almost beyond detection.
It is an exceedingly difficult matter to formulate a code of hunting ethics, still harder to give them legal force; but public opinion should condemn the kind of sportsmanship which puts a price on antlers. As trophies of the chase, hard won through the endurance and skill of the hunter, they are legitimate records of achievement. The higher the trophy ranks in size and symmetry, the greater should be its value as an evidence of patient and persistent chase. To slay a full grown bull moose or wapiti in fair hunt is in these days an achievement, for there is no royal road to success with the rifle, nor do the Happy Hunting Grounds longer exist on this continent; but to kill them by proxy, or buy the mounted heads for decorative purposes in a dining room, in feeble imitation of the trophies of the baronial banquet hall, is not only vulgar taste, but is helping along the extermination of these ancient types. An animal like the moose or the wapiti represents a line of unbroken descent of vast antiquity, and the destruction of the finest members of the race to decorate a hallway cannot be too strongly condemned.
The writer desires to express his thanks for photographs and information used in this article to Dr. J.A. Allen, of the American Museum of Natural History, New York City; Dr. Daniel Giraud Elliot, of the Field Columbian Museum, Chicago; and to Mr. Andrew J. Stone, the explorer.
The Creating of Game Refuges
It was my pleasant task, during the past summer, to visit a portion of the Forest Reserves of the United States for the purpose of studying tracts which might be set aside as Game Refuges. To this end I was commissioned by the Division of Biological Survey of the United States Department of Agriculture as “Game Preserve Expert,” a new title and a new function.
The general idea of the proposed plan for the creation of Game Refuges is that the President shall be empowered to designate certain tracts, wherein there may be no hunting at all, to be set aside as refuges and breeding grounds, and the Biological Survey is accumulating information to be of service in selecting such areas, when the time for creating them shall arrive. The Forest Reserves of the United States are under the care of the Department of the Interior, and not under the Agricultural Department, where one would naturally expect them to be. Their transfer to the Department of Agriculture has been agitated more than once, and is still a result much to be desired. Although acting in this mission as a representative of the Biological Survey under the latter Department, I bore a circular letter from the Secretary of the Interior, requesting the aid of the superintendents and supervisors of the Forest Reserves. Through them I could always rely upon the services of a competent ranger, who acted as guide.
Arriving in California in March, I was somewhat more than six months engaged in the work; in that time visiting seven reserves in California and one in the State of Washington, involving a cruise of 1,220 miles in the saddle and on foot, within the boundaries of the forest, besides 500 miles by wagon and stage. Since the addition of an extra member to the party is ever an added risk of impaired harmony, and since the practice of any art involving skill is always a pleasure, I employed no packer during the entire time of my absence, but did this work myself, assisted on the off-side by Mr. Thurston, who accompanied me, and who helped in every way within his power. May I take this opportunity to thank him for aid of many sorts, and on all occasions, and for unflagging interest in the problem which we had before us. California has long since ceased to be a country where the use of the pack train is a customary means of travel. It is now an old and long settled region where the frontier lies neither to the east nor to the west, but has escaped to the vicinity of timber line, nearly two miles straight up in the air. Comparatively few people outside of the Sierra Club, that admirable open-air organization of “the Coast,” have occasion to visit it, and such trips as they make are of brief duration.
Since it is not desirable to visit the high Sierras before the first of July, three full months were at my disposal for the study of the reserves of southern California, a section of great interest, and of the utmost importance to the State. In southern California one hears frequent mention of the Pass of Tehachapi; it is the line of demarcation between the great valley of central California, drained by the San Joaquin River on the north, and of southern California proper, which lies to the south. These two regions are of very different nature. In the San Joaquin Valley lie the great wheat fields of California. South of the Pass of Tehachapi, people are dependent upon irrigation. Here, too, lie wheat fields and also rich vineyards, and the precious orchards of oranges and lemons; further south the equally valuable walnut and almond groves.
The seven Forest Reserves of southern California may be regarded as one almost continuous tract embracing about 4,000,000 acres, lying on either side of the crest of the Coast Range; they are economically of enormous importance to California, but not on account of their timber. In many cases they are forest reserves without trees; for example, the little Trabuco Canyon Reserve, which has but a handful of Coulter pines, and on the northern slope a few scattered spruce. The western slope of the foothills of the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Zaca Lake and Pine Mountain, and Santa Ynez reserves, are clad only in chaparral, yet the preservation of these hillsides from fire is of vital importance to the people, since the mantle of vegetation protects, to a certain degree, the sources of the streams from which the supply of water is derived. In this country they believe that water is life; thus harking back to the teaching of the Father of Philosophy, to Thales of Miletus, who lived six hundred years before Christ: “The principle of all things is water, all comes from water, and to water all returns.” Such trees as there are here possess unusual interest; approaching the crest of the mountains one finds a scattered growth of pines–the Coulter, ponderosa, Jeffrey’s, the glorious sugar pine, the _Pinus contorta_, and _Pinus flexilis_, the single leaf or nut pine, and, in scattered tracts, the queer little knob-cone pine. Red and white firs are found, the incense cedar, the Douglas spruce, the big cone spruce, and a number of deciduous trees, mainly oaks of several varieties, with sycamore along the lower creeks, and the alder tree, strikingly like the alder bush of our eastern streams and pastures, but of Gargantuan proportions, grown out of all recognition. Scattered representatives of other species are found–the maple, cherry, dogwood, two varieties of sumac, the yerba del pasmo (or bastard cedar), madronos, walnut, mesquite, mountain mahogany, cottonwood, willow, ash, many varieties of bushes, also the yucca, mescal, cactus, etc. I have given but a bald enumeration of these; the forming of an acquaintance with so many new trees, shrubs, and flowering herbs is of great interest, and increasingly so from day to day, as one comes to live with them in the different reserves. The pleasure to be derived is cumulative–each acquisition of knowledge adding to the satisfaction of that which comes after–it is of a sort, however, to be experienced in the presence of the thing itself; any description at a distance must necessarily be shadowy and unreal, only the dry bones of something which one sees there, a thing of beauty and instinct with life.
The characteristic feature of these southern forests is their open nature; so far as the roughness of the mountains will permit, one may go anywhere in the saddle without being hindered by underbrush. Outside of their limits, however, and on many hillsides within the reserves, the chaparral offers an impenetrable barrier; in some of them this growth has captured the greater portion of their surface. The forests themselves are often very beautiful; growing, as they do, openly, there is constant sunlight during many months of the year, so that all the ground is warm and vibrant with energy. As a natural consequence, great individuality is shown in the tree forms, as different as possible from the gloom and severe uniformity of the Oregon and Washington forests. The former are dry, light, and cheerful; the latter, moist, dark, silent, and somewhat forbidding. The northern forests of the Coast have their attractive features, to be sure; they are fecund, solemn, and majestic, but the prevailing note is not cheerfulness, as here in the south.
In a paper of the present proportions it is impossible to give, except in outline, a report of the summer’s work. I began at San Juan Capistrano, one of the old mission towns with a beautiful ruin, lying near the sea on the west of the Trabuco Canyon Reserve. My first cruise was through a chaparral country on the slope overlooking the Pacific. I learned here of few deer and of relentless warfare against such as remain. After that, from Elsinore, strange echo of that sea-girt castle in Shakespeare’s Denmark, I cruised so as to have as well an understanding of the eastern slope of this, the smallest of the Coast reserves. From Trabuco Peak we could study the physical geography of the northern half of its area. I saw here what I did not again come across in California–a small flock of the band-tailed pigeon, a bird as large as the mountain quail, very handsome, indeed, and one that now should be protected by law. These, as well as the mountain quail, swallow whole the acorns, which this season lay beneath the live oak trees in lavish abundance; long thin acorns, quite different from ours. In the San Jacinto Reserve I made a cruise through the southern half; much of this section is clothed in scrub oak, with scattered deer throughout. In the northern and more mountainous portions, on the contrary, one finds himself in the open forest, the summer range of the deer. At the time of our visit these were at a lower altitude, in the chaparral and among the scrub oaks of the foothills.
Going thence by rail north to Santa Barbara, I inspected the narrow strip of the Santa Ynez Reserve, and the eastern and western sections of the Zaca Lake and Pine Mountain Reserve. These are under the control of different forest supervisors; they are both largely composed of chaparral country, with scattered “pineries” on the mountains. The hunting here is regulated, to a certain degree, by the problem of feed and water for the stock used by the hunters in gaining access to the ground. Many enter these tracts from the south, as well as from the region adjacent to Santa Barbara, and the deer have a somewhat harassed and chivied existence, although, owing to the impenetrable nature of the chaparral outside of the pineries, there is a natural limit to the power of the sportsman to accomplish their entire extermination. The present control of hunters by the forest rangers is only tentative; naturally we hope to have in an ever-increasing degree more scientific management both of the deer and of those who illegally kill them. The sentiment of the community is enlightened, and would strengthen the hands of the Government in enforcing the law. At present a ranger can do little more than maintain, so far as he can, his authority by threats–threats which he has not the power to enforce.
In the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Reserves one finds himself at last in a forest country, with mountains which command respect, a section full of superb feed for the deer, feed of many sorts, for the deer have an attractive and varied bill of fare. Whole hillsides are found of scrub oak, their chief stand-by, and of wild lilac or “deer brush,” the latter familiar to all readers of Muir as the Cleanothus, in those long periods of Miltonic sweep and dignity in which he summons the clans of the California herbs and shrubs; an enumeration as stately as the Homeric catalogue of the ships, and, to such as lack technical knowledge of botany, imposing respect rather by sonorous appeal to the ear than by visual suggestion to the memory. That herbs should be marshalled in so impressive an array fills one with admiration and with somewhat of awe for these representatives of the vegetable kingdom. As Muir pronounces their full-sounding titles, one feels that each is a noble in this distinguished company. No one unprotected by a botany should have the temerity to enter, amid these lists, alone.
We visited this country in the season of flowers. Whole hillsides of chamisal (“chamiz” or greasewood) bore their delicate, spirea-like, cream-colored blossoms–when seen at a distance, like a hovering breath, as unsubstantial as dew, or as the well-named bloom on a plum or black Hamburg grape. The superb yucca flaunted its glorious white standards, borne proudly aloft like those of the Roman legions, each twelve or fifteen feet in height, supporting myriads of white bells. The Mexicans call this the “Quixote”–a noble and fitting tribute to the knight of La Mancha. The tender center of the plant, loved as food equally by man and beast, is protected by many bristling bayonets, an ever-vigilant guard. At an altitude of seven thousand or eight thousand feet, one passed through acres of buckthorn, honey-fragrant, this also a favorite of the deer, now visited by every bee and butterfly of the mountain side. It is to be noted that as one ascends the mountains the butterflies increase in numbers as well as the flowers which they so closely resemble, save only the latter’s stationary estate.
One sees in its perfection of color the “Indian paint brush,” with its red of purest dye, and adjoining it solid fields of blue lupine–the colors of Harvard and Yale, side by side, challenging birds and all creatures of the air to a decision as to which of them bears itself the more bravely. Here is a chestnut tree; but look not overhead for its sheltering branches. This is a country of surprises, and if the alder tree towers on high, the dwarf chestnut or chinkapin here delegates to the mountains the pains of struggling toward the heavens, and, contented with its lowly estate, freely offers to the various “small deer” of the forest its horde of sweet, three-cornered nuts.
Under the pines one catches a distant gleam of the snow plant, an exquisite sharp note of color, of true Roman shade, such as Rossetti loved to introduce into his pictures, shrill like the vibrant wood of the flute. When a ray of the sun happens to strike this it gleams like a flaming fiery sword, symbol of that which marked the entrance to Paradise. One can circumvent this guard here, and when he is in these hills he is not far removed from a country well worth protecting by all possible ingenuity, a paradise open to all such as love pure air and wholesome strong exercise.
Much of the San Gabriel Reserve is rugged and well protected by nature to be the home of the deer. San Bernardino, on the contrary, is the most accessible of the southern reserves, with abundant feed for the horses of those who visit it, well watered, and full of noble trees. So open is the forest that in the hunting season much of it must be abandoned by the deer, who are perfectly cognizant of their danger, and, with somewhat of aid from man, are quite capable of taking care of themselves.
After visiting these southern reserves, I outfitted at Redstone Park, above Visalia, in the San Joaquin Valley, and cruised through the Sequoia National Park, among the big trees, at that time patrolled by colored soldiers under the able command of Captain Young, an officer who possesses the distinction of being the only negro graduate of West Point, I believe, now holding a commission in the United States Army. The impression produced by the giant Sequoias is one of increasing effect as the time among them is extended. In their province the world has nothing to offer more majestic and more satisfying than these trees; one must live among them to come fully beneath their charm.
Since the National Parks and military reservations are already game refuges, it was of importance that I should see the Mt. Whitney Military Reservation, and for this purpose I crossed the Sierra Reserve, through broad tracts suitable for Game Refuges, thus acquiring familiarity with a large and most interesting section of forest country. From the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest bit of land in the United States, exclusive of Alaska, one looks down two miles in altitude to Owen’s Lake almost directly beneath. I picked up, on the plateau of the summit, a bit of obsidian Indian chipping, refutation in itself of the frequently repeated statement that Indians do not climb high peaks. A month was spent with great profit in and about the Sierra Reserve, and one might go there many summers, ever learning something new.
Having seen these southern reserves, and desiring to bring home with me an impression of the northern woods, sharpened by immediate contrast, I next visited that one which is the most to the northwest of them all, the Olympic Reserve in Washington. Here, at the head of the Elwha Valley, near Mt. Olympus, we lived among the glaciers. The forest between the headwaters and the sea affords a superb contrast to California; here are found fog and moisture, and super-abounding heavy vegetation. In the thick shade grow giant ferns of tropic luxuriance. The rhododendron thrives, its black glossy leaves a symbol of richly nourished power. The devil’s club flaunts aloft its bright berries, and poisonously wounds whomsoever has the misfortune even to touch its great prickly leaves, nearly as big as an elephant’s ear; if there be a malignant old rogue of the vegetable kingdom, this is he, sharing with the wait-a-bit thorn of Africa an evil eminence. Many new plants meet the eye, a wealth of berries–the Oregon grape, the salmon berry, red or yellow, as big as the yolk of an egg, the salal berry, any quantity of blueberries, huckleberries, both red and blue, sarvis berries, bear berries, mountain ash berries (also loved of bears), thimble berries, high bush cranberries, gooseberries–large and insipid–currants, wild cherries, choke cherries; many of these friends of old, others seen here for the first time, dainty picking in the autumn for deer, bears, foxes, squirrels and many birds. What particularly appealed to me was a wild apple, no larger than the eye of a hawk, but quite able to survive in a fierce contest for life, and with a pleasant, clean, sharp taste, very tonic to the palate, and with diminutive rosy cheeks as tempting as a stout Baldwin–a fine, courageous little product of the wild life, symbol of the energetic quality of the Olympic air. I, for one, am a firm believer in the axiom that a climate which will give the right “tang” to an apple will also produce determined and energetic men; this whole region, spite of its fogs, has a glorious future before it. Superb firs towered hundreds of feet above our heads, and archaic-looking cedars, a thousand years old, thrust their sturdy shoulders firmly against the storms and the winds. But the valleys, the trees and the glaciers, were only the _mise-en-scene_ of that which constituted primarily the reason of my visiting this peninsula. Here is the only wild herd of elk of any considerable size outside of the Yellowstone National Park, a most beautiful elk now separated from the Rocky Mountain species. Besides this herd there are only a few survivors of the once innumerable herds of the Pacific Coast, one little bunch in California, and a few scattered individuals in the mountains of Oregon and Washington. It is excessively hard to form any correct estimate of how many remain; probably there are at least a thousand, possibly several times that number. At all events, there is a scattered herd large enough to insure the existence of the species if they might now be protected. Unfortunately the sentiment of the community in the vicinity of the Olympics is just about what it was in Colorado in the seventies and in the early eighties–almost complete apathy, so far as taking effective precaution is concerned, to prevent the killing of these animals in violation of the law. I saw one superb herd south of the headwaters of the Elwha, and was informed that in the winter a large number come lower down into the valley of that river; here and elsewhere the finest specimens are slaughtered by head-hunters for the market, and by anyone, in fact, who may covet their hides or meat or their “tusks,” now unfortunately very valuable.
Presumably, in so killing them, picked specimens are selected. Of course the finest bulls may not thus be systematically eliminated without causing the general deterioration of the herd. Nature’s method of progress is by the survival of the fittest. Man reverses this so soon as cupidity makes him the foe of wild animals. The country here is an excessively hard one to get about in with stock, owing to its very rugged nature and to the scarcity of feed, so that there is slight danger of the extermination of these elk by sportsmen during the open season. In the winter, however, the hunters have them at their mercy. I was assured by one very level-headed man that, in the winter of 1902-3, two men killed seventeen elk from the Elwha herd. Since the individuals who killed the elk are well known and are practically unmolested, the immunity which they enjoy tempts others to similar violation of the law. More recently still, during this last winter, the game warden of Washington reports the finding of the carcasses of nineteen elk, killed for their tusks.
This country, with its splendid glaciers and mountains covered with snow, presents quite the most beautiful scenery to be found within the limits of the United States, exclusive of Alaska, and, before many years, is destined to become a place of general resort for travelers. For this to be accomplished, all that is needed is greater facility of travel. It would be a thousand pities if we should tolerate the extermination of the elk, which would afford delight to every one who visited the Olympics, if only the herd might be preserved. One can hardly blame the hunters for taking advantage of the laxity of public sentiment. The State has it within its power easily to protect these animals by the employment of two or three game detectives of the right sort–keen, energetic men. These would soon break up the illicit traffic and bring the offenders to justice. The people of the whole Pacific seaboard, who are justly proud of their region, and of every trait peculiarly its own, would bitterly lament the final disappearance of elk from this whole countryside, yet the fact remains that hardly a voice there, outside of the organization of the “Elks,” is raised to protest against these flagrant acts of vandalism which are taking place beneath their very eyes.
This visit to the northern forest was full of varied and commanding interest, but the chief occupation of my summer, when all is said, was with California.
Deer are practically the only game to be considered in these southern California reserves. There are mountain sheep to the east, in the mountains of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, but they are almost unmolested by the hunters of the seaboard country, and, except in rare instances, are no longer found in the reserves. Occasionally odd ones are seen, venturesome, determined individuals, on their travels, in the energy of youthful maturity, tempted by curiosity, but these soon realize that they are not secure where so many humans abound, and scurry back to their desert fastnesses. As refuges are created and breeding grounds established, sheep will return, and, it is hoped, make their permanent home in the reserves. There are still enough of them in scattered places for this purpose. I was told of one method of hunting in the desert hills, sometimes resorted to by Indians and white men of the baser sort, that seems hateful and unsportsmanlike. The springs at which they drink are long distances apart. In some instances the alleged sportsmen camp by these and watch them without intermission for three days and nights, at the end of which period, when the sheep are exhausted by thirst, the hunter has them at his mercy. This has nearly as much to commend it to the self-respecting sportsman as the practice of imitating the cry of the female moose to lure the bull to mad recklessness and his undoing, a challenge hard for a courageous animal to resist, a treacherous snare set before his feet. It would seem as if a right-minded man would hesitate to take so base an advantage as by either of these two methods of hunting.
Antelope are nearly exterminated in southern California, and there is but a single little bunch of elk–those in the San Joaquin Valley, sole survivors of the vast herds which ranged throughout those lowlands when Fremont came to the country in 1845. These elk are smaller than those of the mountains, and bear a striking resemblance to the Scotch red deer, so familiar to us in Landseer’s pictures. For years they have been protected by the generosity and wisdom of one man, now no longer young, an altogether public-spirited and generous act. I was taken by the manager of this ranch to see these elk as they came at night to feed in the alfalfa fields, and again in the morning we followed their trail into the foothills and had a capital view of seven superb bulls in their wild estate, as pretty a sight as one might see in California. Who can feel ought save commiseration for a man who, standing on London bridge, could say, “Earth has not anything to show more fair”?
Twice during the summer was I told of the presence in the mountains, by men who thought they had seen them, of the mythical ibex. My informant, in each instance a ranger, assured me that he had had a good look at the animal, and was sure that it was not a mountain ram. The back-curving horns he said were “as long as his forearm,” one added instance of the fact that a fish in the brook is worth two on the string–if a good story be at stake! What my informant had seen, of course, was a ewe, or young mountain ram before he had arrived at the age when the horns begin to form their characteristic spiral. As for the great size of the horns, the animal was running away, and every hunter is aware of the enormous proportions which the antlers attain of an escaping elk or deer. How they suddenly shrink when the beast is shot is another story.
Incidentally, the refuges of southern California will include the breeding places of the trout in the upper reaches of the streams, and will afford protection to grouse, quail, and other birds, but primarily their purpose is to prevent the extermination of big game. In California this has gone as far as it is safe to go if we are to save the remnant. Even the California grizzly has been killed off so relentlessly that it was a question, when I was there, whether a single pair survived which might possibly in that State preserve the species. The ranger who knew the most about this was of the opinion that two or three were still left alive. He had seen their tracks within a year. There are, I have been assured, others in Oregon.
[Footnote 11: I have been informed since the above was written that he saw the tracks of a single grizzly after I was there, toward the end of July.]
If I had my way, the first act in creating a game refuge should be to insure the survival of the few that remain. These bears are pitifully wary as compared with their former bold and domineering attitude; they would gladly keep out of harm’s way if only they might be allowed to do so. It is time, it seems to me, to call a truce to man’s hostility to them, once a foe not to be despised. Now they are so completely conquered that man owes it to himself not too relentlessly to pursue a vanquished enemy. When we think of the enormous period of time, involving millions of years, required to develop a creature of such gigantic strength as the California grizzly, so splendidly equipped to win his living and to maintain his unquestioned supremacy–the Sequoia of the animal kingdom of America–and when we contemplate this creature as the very embodiment of vitality in the wild life, we shall not wantonly permit him to be exterminated, and thus deprive those who are to come after us of seeing him alive, and of seeing him where his presence adds a fine note of distinction to the landscape, a fitting adjunct to the glacier-formed ravines of the Sierras.
The domestic sheep, which were once the prey of the bears, no longer range in these forests, and so far as the depredation of bears among cattle is concerned, it is of so trifling a nature as practically not to exist. It would seem that a nation of so vast wealth as ours could afford to indulge in an occasional extravagance, such as keeping alive these few remaining bears; of maintaining them at the public expense simply for the gratification of curiosity, of a quite legitimate curiosity on the part of those who love the wild life, and every last vanishing trait that remains of its old, keen energy. So far as danger to man is involved by their presence, the experience in the Yellowstone National Park is that there is no such danger; when allowed to do so, they draw their rations as meekly as a converted Apache; if they err at all, it is on the side of exaggerated and rather pitiful humility.
It is mainly with the deer, however, that we are concerned. It is out of the question for any thinking man who takes the slightest interest in these creatures to stand passively by and permit them to be exterminated. To prevent such a catastrophe proper measures must be taken. The hunting community increases with as great rapidity as that with which game decreases. Where one man hunted twenty-five years ago, a score hunt for big game to-day. Unfortunately it has become the fashion. It is a diversion involving no danger and, for those that understand it, but slight hardship. If people are to continue to have this source of amusement, some well matured and concerted plan must be devised to insure the continuance of game. Never in the past history of the world has man held at his command the same potential control of wild beasts as now, the same power to concentrate against them the forces of science. Man’s supremacy has advanced by leaps and bounds, while the animal’s power to escape remains unchanged; all the conditions for their survival constantly become more difficult. Man has, in its perfection, the rapid-firing rifle, which, with the use of smokeless powder, gives him an enormous increase of effectiveness in its flat trajectory. This is quite as great an element of its destructiveness as its more deadly power and capacity for quick shooting, since it eliminates the necessity for accurately gauging distance, one of the hardest things for the amateur hunter to learn. If man so desires, he can command the aid of dogs. By their power of scent he has wild animals at his mercy, and unless he deliberately regulates the slaughter which he will permit, their entire extermination would be a matter of only a few years. Only at the end of the last year we were told of the celebration in the Tyrol of the killing, by the Emperor of Austria, of his two thousandth chamois. Eight years ago this same record was achieved by another Austrian, a Grand Duke. This was in both instances, as I understand, by the means of fair and square stalking, quite different from the methods of the more degenerate battue. At a single shooting exhibition of this latter sort by the Crown Prince of Germany at his estate in Schleswig, on one day in December last, were killed two hundred and ten fallow deer, three hundred and forty-one red deer, and on the day following, eighty-seven large wild boar, one hundred and twenty-six small ones, eighty-six fallow deer, and two hundred and one red deer. Any man, private citizen as well as emperor or prince, has it within his power, if he be possessed of the blood craze, to kill scores and hundreds of every kind of game. By the facilities of rapid travel the hunter, with the least possible sacrifice of time, is transported with whatever of luxury a Pullman car can confer (luxury to him who likes it) to the haunts and almost within the very sanctuaries of game. Where formerly an expedition of months was required, now in a few days’ time he is carried to the most out-of-the-way places, to the barrens, the forests, the peaks, the mountain glades–almost to the muskeg and the tundra.
How far the rage for hunting has captured the community in this country of the western seaboard it is surprising to learn. In the year 1902 there were issued for the seven forest reserves south of the Pass of Tehachapi, a tract three-quarters the size of Massachusetts, four thousand permits to hunt. Inasmuch as one permit may admit more than a single person to the privileges of hunting, it was estimated that at least five thousand people bearing rifles entered the reserves. This besides the enormous horde of the peaceably disposed who also seek diversion here, and who naturally disturb the deer to a certain extent. The supervisor of two reserves–the San Gabriel and San Bernardino–embracing a tract less than half the size of Connecticut, assured me that in 1902 sixty thousand persons entered within their borders; in the summer of 1903 this number was estimated at no less than ten thousand in excess of the previous year. In these two reserves the number of permits for rifles and revolvers issued between June 1 and December 31, increased from 1,900 in the year 1902, to 3,483 in 1903, and as, in some cases, these were issued for two or more persons, the supervisor estimates that at least 4,500 rifles were carried last summer into these two reserves. He was of the opinion that two-thirds of these were borne by hunters, the remainder as protection against bears and other ferocious wild beasts, which exist only in imagination.
[Footnote 12: “Relative to the figures for game permits, and the reason for the larger number issued for 1903 over 1902, I cannot myself altogether explain the large increase. One reason, however, was that our rainfall for the winter of 1902-3 was very large compared with that of the five previous winters. As a result grass and feed were plentiful, and attracted many more travelers and hunters, who figured that game would be much more plentiful owing to the abundance of feed. I believe that this was the principal reason why so many obtained permits. The abundant rain made camping more pleasant, as it started up springs which had been dry for several years. I believe that this very thing, however, also tended to protect the game as it permitted them to scatter more than for several years before, as water was more abundant. With all the increase in guns and hunters I do not think that any more deer were killed than during the summer of 1902.” (Letter from Forest Supervisor, Mr. Everett B. Thomas, Los Angeles, Feb. 13, 1904.) It is to be noted that in the southern California reserves, on the ground of precaution against forest fires, no shotguns may be carried into the reserves. As a result quail have greatly increased in numbers.]
It is to be borne in mind that all through this California country there exists a race of hunters–active, determined men, who passionately love this diversion. The people there have not been so long graduated as we of the Atlantic Coast from the conditions of the frontier. The ozone of a new country stirs more quickly the predatory instinct, never quite dead in any virile race. The rifle slips easily from its scabbard, and there in plain sight before them are the forest-clad mountains, a mile above their heads, in the cool and vital air, ever beckoning the hunter to be up and away. These people feel in their blood the call of the wild. With a very considerable proportion of the people upon farms, and still more in villages and small towns, the Fall hunt is the commanding interest of the year. This is the one athletic contest into which they enter heart and soul; it is foot-ball and yachting and polo and horse racing combined. For a young man to go into the forest after deer and to come back empty-handed, is to lose prestige to a certain extent among his fellows. Oftentimes, when a beginner returns in this way unsuccessful, he is so unmercifully chaffed by his companions that he mentally records a vow not to be beaten a second time, and, when he finds himself again in the forest for his annual hunt, with the enthusiasm of youth, he would almost rather die than be defeated.
How hard the conditions are for the hunter no one would believe who has not himself seen the country. In many places the hills are covered with an almost impenetrable chaparral of scrub oak, buckthorn, greasewood, manzanita, and deer-brush, in which the wary deer have taken refuge. In and through these, guided sometimes by the tracks of the deer, or encouraged by the presence of such tracks even if he cannot follow them, up steep mountains, exposed to the heat of the sun, in dust, over rocks, and without water, toils the hunter, who accounts himself lucky if, by tramping scores of miles through this sort of impediment, he succeeds, after days of toil, in killing his deer. Perhaps he has been without fresh meat for a week or a fortnight, and often on short commons; is it to be wondered at that when a shot offers he avails himself of the opportunity even if it be a doe that he fires at? How can the deer withstand such concentration of fury?
Dr. Bartlett, Forest Supervisor of the Trabuco and San Jacinto Reserves, assured me that the number of licenses to hunt in those two reserves issued annually exceeded, in his opinion, the entire number of deer within their boundaries.
Everyone now is ready to admit that the extermination of the herd of buffalo in the seventies was permitted by a crude, short-sighted policy on our part as a nation, and should we of the early twentieth century allow the remaining deer, elk, mountain sheep, and antelope, the last of the great bears, and the innumerable small creatures of the wild, to be crowded off the face of the earth, we should be depriving our children and our children’s children of a satisfaction and of a source of interest which they would keenly regret. It would be well if we bore in mind that we stand in a sort of fiduciary relation to the people who are to come after us, so far as the wild portion of our land is concerned, those few remote tracts still untarnished by man’s craze to convert everything in the world, or beneath the surface of the earth, into dollars for his own immediate profit. He has the same short-sighted policy in his hunting. He is content to gratify the impulse of the hour without thought of those who are to spend their lives here when we have led our brief careers and have gone to a well merited oblivion, to reap our reward–
Heads without names, no more remembered.
Let us look this matter squarely in the face. We are the inheritors of these domains. It is one of the most precious assets of posterity. Here, year by year, in steadily increasing proportion, as wisdom more prevails, will men take comfort; and as the comprehension of nature’s charms penetrates their minds will they find content. One chief satisfaction that every American feels from the mere fact of his nationality is the full assurance in his heart that any measure founded on sound reason and prompted by generous impulse will receive, if not immediate acceptance, at all events eventual recognition. In the end justice will prevail. Thus, in this matter before us, it will naturally take a few years for Congress to realize that a genuine demand exists for the creation of these refuges in every State, East as well as West, but the interest in wild creatures, and the desire for their protection, if not a clamorous demand, is one almost universally felt. All men, except a meager few of the dwarfed and strictly city-bred, partake of this, and it is so much a sign of the times that no Sunday edition is complete without its column devoted to wild creatures, their traits, their habits, or their eccentricities. One could hardly name, outside of money-making and politics, an interest which all men more generally share.
Every lad is a born naturalist, and the true wisdom, as all sensible people know, is to carry unfatigued through life the boy’s power of enjoyment, his freshness of perception, his alertness and zest. Where the child’s capacity for close observation survives into manhood, supplemented by man’s power of sustained attention, we have the typical temperament of the lover of the woods, the mountains, and the wild–of the naturalist in the sense that Thoreau was a naturalist, and many another whose memory is cherished.
It is not impossible for a man to be deeply learned and still to lack the power of awakening enthusiasm in others; as a matter of fact, to be so heavily freighted with information that he forgets to nourish his own finer faculties, his intuition, his sympathy, and his insight. One must have lived for a time in the California mountains to realize how great is the service to the men of his own and to succeeding generations of him who more than any one else has illuminated the study of the Sierras and of all our forest-clad mountains, our glacier-formed hills, valleys and glades. Not by any means do all lovers of nature, however faithful their purpose, come to its study with the endowment of John Muir. In him we see the trained faculties of the close and accurate observer, joined to the temperament of the poet–the capacity to think, to see and to feel–and by the power of sustained and strong emotion to make us the sharers of his joy. The beauty and the majesty of the forest to him confer the same exaltation of mind, the same intellectual transport, which the trained musician feels when listening to the celestial harmonies of a great orchestra. In proportion as one conceives, or can imagine, the fineness of the musical endowment of a Bach or Beethoven, and in proportion as he can realize in his own mind the infinity of training and preparation which has contributed to the development of such a master musician–in such proportion may he comprehend and appreciate the unusual qualities and achievements of a man like Muir. He will realize to some degree–indistinctly to be sure, “seeing men as trees walking”–the infinity of nice and accurate observation, the discriminating choice of illustration, the infallible tact and unvarying sureness with which he holds our interest, and the dominant poetic insight into the nature of things, which are spread before the reader in lavish abundance, in Muir’s two books, “The Mountains of California” and “Our National Parks.” No other books, in this province, by living author offer to the reader so rich a feast. Recognizing the fine endowments of Thoreau, and how greatly all are his debtors, still we of this generation are lucky in having one greater than he among us, if wisdom of life and joyousness be the criterion of a sound and of a sane philosophy. The time will come when this will be generally recognized. The verdict of posterity is the right one, and the love of mankind is given throughout the centuries to the men of insight, who possess the rare mental endowment of sustained pleasure. Call it perpetual youth, or joyousness, or what you like, the fact remains that the power of sustained enthusiasm, lightness of heart and gaiety, with the faculty of communicating to others that state of mind, is not one of the commonest endowments of the human brain. It is one that confers great happiness to others, and one to whose possessor we are under great obligation. Compare the career of Thoreau, lonely, sad, and wedded to death–on the one hand, with that of Muir, on the other–a lover of his kind, healthful, inspiring to gaiety, superabounding in vitality. Naturalists of this type of mind, and so faithful in perfecting the talents entrusted to them, do not often appear in any age.
In the designations of refuges for deer, various questions are to be considered, such as abundance of food, proximity to water, suitable shelter, an exposure to their liking, for they may be permitted to have whims in a matter of this sort, just as fully as Indians or the residents of the city, when they deign to honor the country by their presence. The deer feel that they are entitled to a certain remote absence from molestation; moderate hunting will not entirely discourage them–a dash of excitement might prove rather entertaining to a young buck with a little recklessness in his temperament–but unless a deer be clad in bullet-proof boiler iron, there are ranges in the reserves of southern California where he would never dare to show his face during the open season–regular rifle ranges. Where very severely hunted, like the road agent, they “take to the brush,” that is, hide in the chaparral. This is almost impenetrable. It is very largely composed of scrub oak, buckthorn, chamisal or greasewood, with a scattered growth of wild lilac, wild cherry, etc. So far as the deer make this their permanent home, there is no fear of their extermination. They may be hunted effectively only with the most extreme caution. Not one person in a thousand ever attains to the level of a still-hunter whose accomplishment guarantees him success under such conditions. There are men of this sort, but these are artists in their pursuit, whose attainments, like those of the professional generally, are beyond comparison with those of the ordinary amateur. To hunt successfully in the chaparral, requires a special genius. One must have exhaustless patience, tact trained by a lifetime of this sort of work, perseverance incapable of discouragement, the silence of an Indian, and in this phrase–when we are dealing with the skill of one who can make progress without sound through the tangles of the dry and stiff California chaparral–is involved an exercise of skill comparable only to the fineness of touch of a Joachim or a St. Gaudens. This sort of hunter marks one end of the scale of perfection; near the other and more familiar extreme is found the individual of whom this story is told. He was an Englishman and had just returned from a trip into the jungle of India after big game, where he was accompanied by a guide, most expert in his profession. One of the sportsman’s friends asked this man how his employer shot while on the trip. His reply was a model of tact and concise statement: “He shot divinely, but God was very merciful to the animals.”
He who reads this brief account may naturally ask: What were the practical results of your Western trip? Have you any ideas which may be of value in the solution of this problem of Game Refuges? My primary conception of the duties of a Game Expert, sent out by a Bureau of a United States Department, was to approach this entire subject without preconceived theories, with an open and unbiased mind; to see as many of the various reserves as possible, under the guidance of the best men to be had, and, increasing in this manner my knowledge by every available means, to reserve the period of general consideration and of specific recommendation until the whole preliminary reconnoissance should be accomplished. The thing of prime importance is that the game expert should see the reserves, and see them thoroughly. In a measure of such scope what we desire is a well thought-out plan, based on knowledge of the actual conditions, knowledge acquired in the field for the future use of him who has acquired it. No report can transfer to the mind of another an impression thus derived.
I had been but a short time engaged in this campaign of education before it seemed wise to abandon the limitations imposed by traveling in wagons; these held one to the valleys and to the dusty ways of men. After that emancipation I lived in the haunts of the deer, traveling with a pack train, and cruising in about the same altitude affected by that most thoroughbred of all the conifers, the sugar pine. Trust the genius of that tree, the pine, of all those that grow on any of the mountains of North America, of finest power, beauty, individuality, and distinction, to select the most attractive altitude for its home, the daintiest air, the air fullest of strong vitality and determination, whether man or deer is to participate in the virtues of the favored zone. Many a time I went far beyond the region of the sugar pine, and not infrequently cruised beneath its lower limits.
What that tree loves is a zone of about four thousand feet in width extending from three to seven thousand feet above the level of the sea. The upper reaches of this belt are where the deer range during the open season of the summer when they must be afforded protection. These were traversed with care, and seen with as much thoroughness as possible. More of the reserves might easily have been visited in other States, had I been content to do this in a sketchy and cursory manner, but my idea was to derive the greatest possible amount of instruction for a definite specific purpose, and it seemed to me for the accomplishment of this end to be essential that one should spend a sufficiently long time in each forest to receive a strong impression of its own peculiar and distinctive nature, to get an idea into one’s head, which would stick, of its individuality, and, if I may say so, of its personal features and idiosyncrasies. Not until more than three months had been spent in the faithful execution of this plan was the problem studied from any other view than that refuges were to be created of considerable size, and that their lines of demarcation would naturally be formed by something easily grasped by the eye, either rivers or the crests of mountain ranges.
After the lapse of that time, looking at this from every point of view, it became my opinion that the ideal solution was the creation of many small refuges rather than the establishment of a few large ones. To be effective, the size of these ranges should not be less than ten miles square; if slightly larger, so much the better. Should, therefore, these be of about four townships each, the best results would be obtained. The bill for the creation of Game Refuges after it had passed the Senate, and as amended by the Committee on Public Lands of the House of Representatives, in the spring of 1903, read:
“The President of the United States is hereby authorized to designate such areas in the public Forest Reserves, _not exceeding one in each State or Territory_, as should, in his opinion, be set aside for the protection of game animals, birds, and fish, and be recognized as a breeding place therefor.”
If this bill were to become law in its present form, the object for which it was created would be largely defeated. One may easily overlook the fact that an area corresponding to that of California would, on the Atlantic Coast, extend from Newport, R. I., to Charleston, S. C. It embraces communities and interests in many respects as widely separated as those of New England and the Atlantic Southern States. Were one Game Refuge only to be created in the State of California, unless it included practically the whole of the reserves south of Tehachapi, protection would not be afforded to the different species of large a constantly increasing population, and an ever-increasing interest in big-game hunting. The designation of one Game Refuge in the Sierra Reserve would practically not reduce the slaughter of deer in this whole vast region of southern California. Were the single Game Refuge, which might under the law be designated, to be placed in southern California, even although it embraced the entire area of the seven southern reserves, it would not aid to any great extent in preventing the extinction of game in the region of the Sierra Reserve, of the Stanislaus Reserve, or of the great reserves which are doubtless soon to be created in the northern half of the State. A bill so conceived would not fulfill the purpose of its creation.
[Illustration: TEMISKAMING MOOSE.]
There are just as cogent reasons of a positive nature why many small refuges are preferable to a few large ones. It is said that in the vicinity of George Vanderbilt’s game preserves at Biltmore, North Carolina, deer, when started by dogs even fifteen or twenty miles away, will seek shelter within the limits of that protected forest, knowing perfectly well that once within its bounds they will not be disturbed. The same may be observed in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National Park; the bears, for instance, a canny folk, and shrewd to read the signs of the times, seem to be well aware that they are not to be disturbed near the hotels, and they show themselves at such places without fear; at the same time that outside the Park (and when the early snow is on the ground their tracks are often observed going both out and in) these same beasts are very shy indeed. The hunter soon discovers that it is with the greatest difficulty that one ever sees them at all outside of the bounds of the Park. Bears, as well as deer, adapt themselves to the exigencies of the situation; the grizzly, since the white man stole from him and the Indian the whole face of the earth, has become a night-ranging instead of a diurnal creature. The deer, we may safely rest assured, makes quite as close a study of humans as man does of the deer. It is a question of life and death with them that they should understand him and his methods. Both the deer and the hunters would profit by the widest possible distribution of these protected areas. Each section of the State is entitled to the benefit to be derived from their presence in its vicinity. Moreover, and I believe that this is a consideration of no slight moment, the creation of many small refuges, not too close together, would obviate one great difficulty which threatens to wreck the entire scheme. There have appeared signs of opposition in certain quarters to the creation in the various reserves of game refuges by Federal power on the ground that this would be to surrender to the Government at Washington authority which should be solely exercised by the State. In a certain sense it is the old issue of State rights. Where this feeling exists it is adhered to with extraordinary tenacity, and it is as catching as the measles; just so soon as one State takes this stand, another is liable to raise the same issue. They are jealous of any power except their own which would close from hunting to their citizens considerable portions of the forest reserves within the confines of the State. Their claim is that by an abuse of such delegated power, a President of the United States might, if so inclined, shut out the citizens from hunting at all in the forest reserves of their own State. This argument is not an easy one to wave aside. Should, however, the size of the individual refuges be limited to four townships each, and the minimum distance between such refuges be defined, one grave objection to these refuges would be overcome, and the citizens of the various States would cooperate with Federal authority to accomplish that which the sentiment at home in many instances is not at present sufficiently enlightened to demand, and which by reason of party differences the State legislatures are powerless to effect.
[Illustration: TEMISKAMING MOOSE.]
Having elaborated in one’s mind the idea that a Game Refuge, in order to be a success, should be about ten or twelve miles square, the question arises, how near are these to be placed to one another? If they are established at the beginning, not less than twenty or twenty-five miles from each other, it seems to me that the exigencies of the situation would be met. It is not our purpose, in creating them, seriously to interfere with the privileges of hunters adjoining the forests where they are established. On the contrary, all that is wished is to preserve the present number of the deer, or to allow them slightly to increase. The system of game refuges of the size indicated, would, I believe, accomplish this end. In all probability, at the beginning of the open season, the deer would be distributed with a considerable degree of uniformity throughout the reserve, outside of the game refuges as well as within. They would go, of course, where the food and conditions suited them. As the hunting season opened, and the game, in a double sense, become more lively, the deer would naturally seek shelter where they could find it. Since this, with them, would be a question literally of vital interest, their education would progress rapidly, particularly that of the wary old bucks, experienced in danger which they had survived in the past simply because their bump of caution was well developed, these would soon realize that they were safe within the bounds of a certain tract–that there the sound of the rifle was never heard, that there far less frequently they ran across the hateful scent of their enemies, and for some mysterious reason were left to their own devices. When once this idea has found firm lodgment in the head of an astute deer, the very first thing that he will do will be to get into an asylum of this sort, and to stay there; if he has any business to transact beyond its boundaries, exactly as an Indian would do in similar circumstances, he will delegate the same to a young buck who is on his promotion, and has his reputation to make, and who possesses the untarnished courage of ignorance and youth. It seems to me that this system of small refuges would have the merit of fairness both to the hunters and to the deer, and it is respectfully submitted to the legislators of the United States. This may seem one of the simplest of solutions, and hardly worth a summer’s cruise to discover. It may prove that this is not the first occasion when the simplest solution is the best. Because a thing is simple it is not always the case, however, that it finds the most ready acceptance. If, in my humble capacity of public service, I am the indirect means of this being accomplished, I shall feel that my summer’s work was not altogether in vain.
[Illustration: TEMISKAMING MOOSE.]
The accompanying photographs of moose were taken about the middle of July, 1902, on the Montreal river, which flows from the Ontario side into Lake Temiskaming.
A number of snap shots were obtained during the three days’ stay in this vicinity, but the others were at longer range and the animals appear very small in the negative.
As is well known, during the hot summer months the moose are often to be found feeding on the lily pads or cooling themselves in the water, being driven from the bush where there are heat, mosquitoes and flies.
Not having been shot at nor hunted, all the moose at this time seemed rather easy to approach. Two of these pictures are of one bull, and the other two of one cow, the two animals taken on different occasions. I got three snaps of each before they were too far away. When first sighted, each was standing nibbling at the lily pads, and the final spurt in the canoe was made in each case while the animal stood with head clear under the water, feeding at the bottom. The distance of each of the first photographs taken was from 45 to 55 feet.
_Paul J. Dashiell._
[Illustration: A KAHRIGUR TIGER.]
Two Trophies from India
In the early part of March, 1898, my friend, Mr. E. Townsend Irvin, and I arrived at the bungalow of Mr. Younghusband, who was Commissioner of the Province of Raipur, in Central India. Mr. Younghusband very kindly gave us a letter to his neighbor, the Rajah of Kahrigur, who furnished us with shikaris, beaters, bullock carts, two ponies and an elephant. We had varied success the first three weeks, killing a bear, several nilghai, wild boar and deer.
One afternoon our beaters stationed themselves on three sides of a rocky hill and my friend and I were placed at the open end some two hundred yards apart. The beaters had hardly begun to beat their tom toms and yell, when a roar came from the brow of the hill, and presently a large tiger came out from some bushes at the foot. He came cantering along in a clumsy fashion over an open space, affording us an excellent shot, and when he was broadside on we both fired, breaking his back. He could not move his hind legs, but stood up on his front paws. Approaching closer, we shot him in a vital spot.
The natives consider the death of a tiger cause for general rejoicing, and forming a triumphal procession amid a turmoil such as only Indian beaters can make, they carried the dead tiger to camp.
One morning word was brought to our camp, at a place called Bernara, that a tiger had killed a buffalo, some seven miles away. The natives had built a bamboo platform, called _machan_, in a tree by the kill, and we stationed ourselves on this in the late afternoon. Contrary to custom, the tiger did not come back to his kill until after the sun had set. The night was cloudy and very dark, and although several times we distinctly heard the tiger eating the buffalo, we could not see it. At about midnight we were extremely stiff, and not hearing any sound, we returned to our temporary camp; but on the advice of an old shikari I returned with him to the _machan_ to wait until daylight. Being tired, I fell asleep, but an hour before dawn the Hindu woke me, as the clouds had cleared away and the moon was shining brightly. I heard a munching sound, and could dimly discern a yellow form by the buffalo, and taking a long aim I fired both barrels of my rifle. I heard nothing except the scuttling off of the hyenas and jackals that had been attracted by the dead buffalo, so I slept again until daylight, when, to my surprise, I saw a dead leopard by the buffalo. He had come to the kill after the tiger had finished his meal.
_John H. Prentice_.
[Illustration: INDIAN LEOPARD.]
Since the inception of the Boone and Crockett Club its plans and purposes have changed not a little. Originally organized for social purposes, for the encouragement of big-game hunting, and the procuring of the most effective weapons with which to secure the game, it has, little by little, come to be devoted to the broader object of benefiting this and succeeding generations by preserving a stock of large game. It is still made up of enthusiastic riflemen, and their love of the chase has not abated. But, since the Club’s formation, an astonishing change has come over natural conditions in the United States–a change which, fifteen or twenty years ago, could not have been foreseen. The extraordinary development of the whole Western country, with the inevitable contraction of the range of all big game, and the absolute reduction in the numbers of the game consequent on its destruction by skin hunters, head hunters and tooth hunters, has obliged the Boone and Crockett Club, in absolute self-defense, and in the hope that its efforts may save some of the species threatened with extinction, to turn its attention more and more to game protection.
The Club was established in 1888. The buffalo had already been swept away. Since that date two species of elk have practically disappeared from the land, one being still represented by a few individuals which for some years have been preserved from destruction by a California cattle company; the other, found only in the Southwest, in territory now included within the Black Mesa forest reservation, may be, perhaps, without a single living representative. Over a vast extent of the territory which the antelope once inhabited, it has ceased to exist; and so speedy and so wholesale has been its disappearance that most of the Western States, slow as they always are to interfere with the privileges of their citizens to kill and destroy at will, have passed laws either wholly protecting it or, at least, limiting the number to be killed in a season to one, two or three. In 1888 no one could have conceived that the diminution of the native large game of America would be what it has proved to be within the past fifteen years.
[Illustration: THE NEW BUFFALO HERD IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK]
That the game stock may re-establish itself in certain localities, the Club has advocated the establishment in the various forest reserves of game refuges, where absolutely no hunting shall be permitted.
Through the influence of William Hallett Phillips, a deceased member of the Club, a few lines inserted in an act passed by Congress March 3, 1891, permitted the establishment of forest reserves, and Hon. John W. Noble, then Secretary of the Interior, at once recommended the application of the law to a number of forest tracts, which were forthwith set aside by Presidential proclamation. Since then, more and more forest reserves have been created, and, thanks to the wisdom and courage of the Chief Magistrates of the Nation within the past twelve years, we now have more than sixty millions of acres of such reservations. These consist largely of rough, timbered mountain lands, unfit for cultivation or settlement. They are of enormous value to the arid West, as affording an unfailing water supply to much of that region, and in a less degree they are valuable as timber reserves, from which hereafter may be harvested crops which will greatly benefit the country adjacent to them.
In the first volume of the Boone and Crockett Club Books, it was said: “In these reservations is to be found to-day every species of large game known to the United States, and the proper protection of the reservations means the perpetuating in full supply of all these indigenous mammals. If this care is provided, no species of American large game need ever become absolutely extinct; and intelligent effort for game protection may well be directed toward securing, through national legislation, the policing of forest preserves by timber and game wardens.”–American Big Game Hunting, p. 330.
When these lines were written, Congressional action in this direction was hoped for at an early day; but, except in the case of the Yellowstone National Park, such action has not been taken. Meantime, hunting in these forest reserves has gone on. In some of them game has been almost exterminated. Two little bunches of buffalo which then had their range within the reserves have been swept out of existence.
It is obvious that effectively to protect the big game at large there must be localities where hunting shall be absolutely forbidden. That any species of big game will rapidly increase if absolutely protected is perfectly well known; and in the Yellowstone Park we have ever before us an object lesson, which shows precisely what effective protection of game can do.
It is little more than twenty years since the first efforts were made to prevent the killing of game within that National Reservation, and only about ten years since Congress provided an effective method for preventing such killing. He must be dull indeed who does not realize what that game refuge has done for a great territory, and of how much actual money value its protection has been to the adjoining States of Montana and Idaho, and especially of Wyoming. The visit of President Roosevelt to the National Park last spring made these conditions plain to the whole nation. At that time every newspaper in the land gave long accounts of what the President saw and did there, and told of the hordes of game that he viewed and counted. He saw nothing that he had not before known of, nothing that was not well known to all the members of the Boone and Crockett Club; but it was largely through the President’s visit, and the accounts of what he saw in the Yellowstone Park, that the public has come to know what rigid protection can do and has done for our great game.
Since such a refuge can bring about such results, it is high time that we had more of these refuges, in order that like results may follow in different sections of the West, and for different species of wild game; as well for the benefit of other localities and their residents, as for that wider public which will hereafter visit them in ever increasing numbers.
A bill introduced at the last session of Congress authorized the President, when in his judgment it should seem desirable, to set aside portions of forest reserves as game refuges, where no hunting should be allowed. The bill passed the Senate, but failed in the House, largely through lack of time, yet some opposition was manifested to it by members of Congress from the States in which the forest reserves are located, who seemed to feel that such a law would in some way abridge the rights and privileges of their constituents. This is a narrow view, and one not justified by the experience of persons dwelling in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National Park.
If such members of Congress will consider, for example, the effect on the State of Wyoming, of the protection of the Yellowstone Park, it seems impossible to believe that they will oppose the measure. Each non-resident sportsman going into Wyoming to hunt the game–much of which spends the summer in the Yellowstone Park, and each autumn overflows into the adjacent territory–pays to the State the sum of forty dollars, and is obliged by law to hire a guide, for whose license he must pay ten dollars additional; besides that, he hires guides, saddle and pack animals, pays railroad and stage fare, and purchases provisions to last him for his hunt. In other words, at a modest calculation, each man who spends from two weeks to a month hunting in Wyoming pays to the State and its citizens not less than one hundred and fifty dollars. Statistics as to the number of hunters who visit Wyoming are not accessible; but if we assume that they are only two hundred in number, this means an actual contribution to the State of thirty thousand dollars in cash. Besides this, the protection of the game in such a refuge insures a never-failing supply of meat to the settlers living in the adjacent country, and offers them work for themselves and their horses at a time when, ranch work for the season being over, they have no paying occupation.
[Illustration: A BIT OF SHEEP COUNTRY]
The value of a few skins taken by local hunters is very inconsiderable when compared with such a substantial inflow of actual cash to the State and the residents of the territory neighboring to such a refuge. Moreover, it must be remembered that, failing to put in operation some plan of this kind, which shall absolutely protect the game and enable it to re-establish itself, the supply of meat and skins, now naturally enough regarded as their own peculiar possession by the settlers living where such a refuge might be established, will inevitably grow less and less as time goes on; and, as it grows less, the contributions to State and local resources from the non-resident tax will also grow less. Thirty years ago the buffalo skinner declared that the millions of buffalo could never be exterminated; yet the buffalo disappeared, and after them one species of big game after another vanished over much of the country. The future can be judged only by the past. Thirty years ago there were elk all over the plains, from the Missouri River westward to the Rocky Mountains; now there are no elk on the plains, and, except in winter, when driven down from their summer range by the snows, they are found only in the timbered mountains. What has been so thoroughly accomplished will be sure to continue; and, unless the suggested refuges shall be established, there will soon be no game to protect–a real loss to the country.
It has long been customary for Western men of a certain type to say that Eastern sportsmen are trying to protect the game in order that they themselves may kill it, the implication being that they wish to take it away from those living near it, and who presumably have the greatest right to it. Talk of this kind has no foundation in fact, as is shown by the laws passed by the Western States, which often demand heavy license fees from non-residents, and hedge about their hunting with other restrictions. Many Eastern sportsmen desire to preserve the game, not especially that they themselves may kill it, but that it shall be preserved; if they desire to kill this game they must and do comply with the laws established by the different States, and pay the license fees.
A fundamental reason for the protection of game, and so for the establishment of such game refuges, was given by President Roosevelt in a speech made to the Club in the winter of 1903, when he expressed the opinion that it was the duty of the Government to establish these refuges and preserves for the benefit of the poor man, the man in moderate circumstances. The very rich, who are able to buy land, may establish and care for preserves of their own, but this is beyond the means of the man of moderate means; and, unless the State and Federal Governments establish such reservations, a time is at hand when the poor man will have no place to go where he can find game to hunt. The establishment of such refuges is for the benefit of the whole public–not for any class–and is therefore a thoroughly democratic proposition.
There is no question as to the right of Congress to enact laws governing the killing of game on the public domain, or within a forest reserve where this domain lies within the boundaries of a Territory. Moreover, it has been determined by the courts and otherwise that within a State the Federal Government has, on a forest reserve, all the rights of an individual proprietor, “supplemented with the power to make and enforce its own laws for the assertion of those rights, and for the disposal and full and complete management, control and protection of its lands.”
In January, 1902, the Hon. John F. Lacey, of Iowa, a member of this Club, whose efforts in behalf of game protection are generally recognized, and whose name is attached to the well-known Lacey Law, received from Attorney-General Knox an opinion indicating that there is reasonable ground for the view that the Government may legislate for the protection of game on the forest reserves, whether these forest reserves lie within the Territories or within the States. From this opinion the following paragraphs are taken:
“While Congress certainly may by law prohibit and punish the entry upon or use of any part of those forest reserves for the purpose of the killing, capture or pursuit of game, this would not be sufficient. There are many persons now on those reserves by authority of law, and people are expressly authorized to go there, and it would be necessary to go further and to prohibit the killing, capture or pursuit of game, even though the entry upon the reserve is not for that purpose. But, the right to forbid intrusion for the purpose of killing, _per se_, and without reference to any trespass on the property, is another. The first may be forbidden as a trespass and for the protection of the property; but when a person is lawfully there and not a trespasser or intruder, the question is different.
“But I am decidedly of opinion that Congress may forbid and punish the killing of game on these reserves, no matter that the slayer is lawfully there and is not a trespasser. If Congress may prohibit the use of these reserves for any purpose, it may for another; and while Congress permits persons to be there upon and use them for various purposes, it may fix limits to such use and occupation, and prescribe the purpose and objects for which they shall not be used, as for the killing, capture or pursuit of specified kinds of game. Generally, any private owner may forbid, upon his own land, any act that he chooses, although the act may be lawful in itself; and certainly Congress, invested also with legislative power, may do the same thing, just as it may prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors, though such sale is otherwise lawful.
“After considerable attention to the whole subject, I have no hesitation in expressing my opinion that Congress has ample power to forbid and punish any and all kinds of trespass, upon or injury to, the forest reserves, including the trespass of entering upon or using them for the killing, capture or pursuit of game.
“The exercise of these powers would not conflict with any State authority. Most of the States have laws forbidding the killing, capture or pursuit of different kinds of game during specified portions of the year. This makes such killing, etc., lawful at other times, but only lawful because not made unlawful. And it is lawful only when the State has power to make it lawful, by either implication or direct enactment. But, except in those cases already referred to, such as eminent domain, service of process, etc., no State has power to authorize or make lawful a trespass upon private property. So that, though Congress should prohibit such killing, etc., upon its own lands, at all seasons of the year, this would not conflict with any State authority or control. That the preservation of game is part of the public policy of those States, and for the benefit of their own people, is shown by their own legislation, and they cannot complain if Congress upon its own lands goes even further in that direction than the State, so long as the open season of the State law is not interfered with in any place where such law is paramount.
[Illustration: MOUNTAIN SHEEP AT REST]
“It has always been the policy of the Government to invite and induce the purchase and settlement of its public lands; and as the existence of game thereon and in their localities adds to the desirability of the lands, and is a well-known inducement to their purchase, it may well be considered whether, for this purpose alone, and without reference to the protection of the lands from trespass, Congress may not, on its own lands, prohibit the killing of such game.”
In this opinion the Attorney-General further calls attention to the difficulties of enforcing the State law, and suggests that it might be well to give marshals and their deputies, and the superintendents, supervisors, rangers, and other persons charged with the protection of these forest reserves, power on the public lands, in certain cases approaching “hot pursuit,” to arrest without warrant. All who are familiar with the conditions in the more sparsely settled States will recognize the importance of some such provision. A matter of equal importance, though as yet not generally recognized, is that of providing funds for the expenses of forest officers making arrests. It is often the fact that no justice of the peace resides within fifty or a hundred miles of the place where the violation of the law occurs. The ranger making the arrest is obliged to transport his prisoner for this distance, and to provide him with transportation, food and lodging during the journey and during the time that he may be obliged to wait before bringing the prisoner arrested before a proper court. This may often amount to more than the penalty, even if the officer making the arrest secures a conviction; but, on the other hand, the individual arrested may not be able to pay his fine, and may have to go to jail. In this case the officer making the arrest is out of pocket just so much. Under such circumstances, it is evident that few officers can afford to take the risk of losing this time and money.
In most States of the Union there exist considerable tracts of land, mountainous, or at least barren and unfit for cultivation. Legislation should be had in each State establishing public parks which might well enough be stocked with game, which should there be absolutely protected. Some efforts in this direction have been made, notably Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. In many of the New England States there are tracts absolutely barren, unoccupied and often bordered by abandoned farms, which could be purchased by the State for a very modest compensation; and it is well worth the while of the Boone and Crockett Club to endeavor by all means in its power to secure the establishment in the various States of parks which might be breeding centers for game, great and small, on the same plan as the proposed refuges hoped for within the forest reservations. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and practically all the States to the west of these, possess such areas of unoccupied land, which might wisely be acquired by the State and devoted to such excellent purposes. In Montana there is a long stretch of the Missouri River, with a narrow, shifting bottom, bordered on either side by miles of bad-lands, which would serve as such a State park. Settlers on this stretch of river are few in number, for the bottoms are not wide enough to harbor many homes, and, being constantly cut out by the changes of the river’s course, are so unstable as to be of little value as farming lands. On the other hand, the new bottoms constantly formed are soon thickly covered by willow brush, while the extensive bad-lands on either side the stream furnish an admirable refuge for deer, antelope, mountain sheep and bear, with which the country is already stocked, and were in old times a great haunt for elk, which might easily be reintroduced there.
There is a tendency in this country to avoid trouble, and to do those things which can be done most easily. From this it results that efforts are constantly being made to introduce into regions from which game has been exterminated various species of foreign game, which can be had, more or less domesticated, from the preserves of Europe. Thus red deer have been introduced in the Adirondack region, and it has been suggested that chamois might be brought from Europe and turned loose in certain localities in the United States, and there increase and furnish shooting. To many men it seems less trouble to contribute money for such a purpose as this than to buckle down and manufacture public sentiment in behalf of the protection of native game. This is a great mistake. From observations made in certain familiar localities, we know definitely that, provided there is a breeding stock, our native game, with absolute protection, will re-establish itself in an astonishingly short period of time. It would be far better for us to concentrate our efforts to renew the supply of our native game rather than to collect subscriptions to bring to America foreign game, which may or may not do well here, and may or may not furnish sport if it shall do well.
[Illustration: MULE DEER AT FORT YELLOWSTONE]
Forest Reserves of North America
In the United States something over 100,000 square miles of the public domain has been set aside and reserved from settlement for economic purposes. This vast area includes reservations of four different kinds: First, National Forest Reserves, aggregating some 63,000,000 acres, for the conservation of the water supply of the arid and semi-arid West; second, National Parks, of which there are seventeen, for the purpose of preserving untouched places of natural grandeur and interest; third, State Parks, for places of recreation and for conserving the water supply; and fourth, military wood and timber reservations, to provide Government fuel or other timber. Most military wood reserves were originally established in connection with old forts.
The forest reservations, as they are by far the largest, are also much the most important of these reserved areas.
Perhaps three-quarters of the population of the United States do not know that over nearly one-half of the national territory within the United States the rainfall is so slight or so unevenly distributed that agriculture cannot be carried on except by means of irrigation. This irrigation consists of taking water out of the streams and conducting it by means of ditches which have a very gentle slope over the land which it is proposed to irrigate. From the original ditch, smaller ditches are taken out, running nearly parallel with each other, and from these laterals other ditches, still smaller, and the seepage from all these moistens a considerable area on which crops may be grown. This, very roughly, is irrigation, a subject of incalculable interest to the dwellers in the dry West.
It is obvious that irrigation cannot be practiced without water, and that every ditch which takes water from a stream lessens the volume of that stream below where the ditch is taken out. It is conceivable that so many ditches might be taken out of the stream, and so much of the water lost by evaporation and seepage into the soil irrigated, that a stream which, uninterfered with, was bank full and even flowing throughout the summer, might, under such changed condition, become absolutely dry on the lower reaches of its course. And this, in fact, is what has happened with some streams in the West. Where this is the case, the farmers who live on the lower stretches of the stream, being without water to put on their land, can raise no crops. Nothing, therefore, is more important to the agriculturists of the West than to preserve full and as nearly equal as possible at all seasons the water supply in their streams.
This water is supplied by the annual rain or snow fall; but in the West chiefly by snow. It falls deep on the high mountains, and, protected there by the pine forests, accumulates all through the winter, and in spring slowly melts. The deep layer of half-rotted pine needles, branches, decayed wood and other vegetable matter which forms the forest floor, receives this melting snow and holds much of it for a time, while the surplus runs off over the surface of the ground, and by a thousand tiny rivulets at last reaches some main stream which carries it toward the sea. In the deep forest, however, the melting of this snow is very gradual, and the water is given forth slowly and gradually to the stream, and does not cause great floods. Moreover, the large portion of it which is held by the humus, or forest floor, drains off still more gradually and keeps the springs and sources of the brook full all through the summer.
Without protection from the warm spring sun, the snows of the winter might melt in a week and cause tremendous torrents, the whole of the melted snowfall rushing down the stream in a very short time. Without the humus, or forest floor, to act as a soaked sponge which gradually drains itself, the springs and sources of the brooks would go dry in early summer, and the streams further down toward the cultivated plains would be low and without sufficient water to irrigate all the farms along its course.
It was for the purpose of protecting the farmers of the West by insuring the careful protection of the water supply of all streams that Congress wisely passed the law providing for the establishing of the forest reserves. It is for the benefit of these farmers and of those others who shall establish themselves along these streams that the Presidents of the United States for the last twelve or fourteen years have been establishing forest reserves and have had expert foresters studying different sections of the western country to learn where the water was most needed and where it could best be had.
It is gratifying to think that, while at first the establishment of these forest reserves was very unpopular in certain sections of the West, where their object was not in the least understood, they have–now that the people have come to see what they mean–received universal approval. It sometimes takes the public a long time to understand a matter, but their common sense is sure at last to bring them to the right side of any question.
The list of reservations here given is brought down to December, 1903, and is furnished by the U.S. Forester–a member of the Club.
_Government Forest Reserves in the United States and Alaska_
ALASKA. Area in Acres
Afognak Forest and Fish Culture Reserve 403,640 The Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve 4,506,240
The Black Mesa Forest Reserve 1,658,880 The Prescott Forest Reserve 423,680 Grand Canyon Forest Reserve 1,851,520 The San Francisco Mountains Forest Reserve 1,975,310 The Santa Rita Forest Reserve 387,300 The Santa Catalina Forest Reserve 155,520 The Mount Graham Forest Reserve 118,600 The Chiricahua Forest Reserve 169,600
The Lake Tahoe Forest Reserve 136,335 The Stanislaus Forest Reserve 691,200 Sierra Forest Reserve 4,096,000 The Santa Barbara Forest Reserve 1,838,323 San Bernardino Forest Reserve 737,280 Timber Land Reserve San Gabriel 555,520 The San Jacinto Forest Reserve 668,160 Trabuco Canyon Forest Reserve 109,920 ———
Battle Mesa Forest Reserve 853,000 Timber Land Reserve, Pike’s Peak 184,320 Timber Land Reserve, Plum Creek 179,200 The South Platte Forest Reserve 683,520 The White River Forest Reserve 1,129,920 The San Isabel Forest Reserve 77,980 ———
The Bitter Root Forest Reserve (see note) 3,456,000 The Priest River Forest Reserve (see note) 541,160 The Pocatello Forest Reserve 49,920 ———
The Yellowstone Forest Reserve (see note) 1,311,600 The Bitter Root Forest Reserve (see note) 691,200 The Gallatin Forest Reserve 40,320 The Lewis and Clark Forest Reserve 4,670,720 The Madison Forest Reserve 736,000 The Little Belt Mountains Forest Reserve 501,000 The Highwood Mountains Reserve 45,080 ———
The Niobrara Forest Reserve 123,779 The Dismal River Forest Reserve 85,123 ———
The Gila River Forest Reserve 2,327,040 The Pecos River Forest Reserve 430,880 The Lincoln Forest Reserve 500,000 ———
Wichita Forest Reserve 57,120
Timber Land Reserve, Bull Run 142,080 Cascade Range Forest Reserve 4,424,440 Ashland Forest Reserve 18,560 ———
The Black Hills Forest Reserve (see note) 1,165,240
The Fish Lake Forest Reserve 67,840 The Uintah Forest Reserve 875,520 The Payson Forest Reserve 111,600 The Logan Forest Reserve 182,080 The Manti Forest Reserve 584,640 The Aquarius Forest Reserve 639,000 ———
The Priest River Forest Reserve (see note) 103,960 The Mount Rainier Forest Reserve 2,027,520 The Olympic Forest Reserve 1,466,880 The Washington Forest Reserve 3,426,400 ———
The Yellowstone Forest Reserve (see note) 7,017,600 The Black Hills Forest Reserve (see note) 46,440 The Big Horn Forest Reserve 1,216,960 The Medicine Bow Forest Reserve 420,584 ———-
Grand Total 63,095,254
Total of Bitter Root, in Idaho and Montana 4,147,200 Total of Priest River, in Idaho and Washington 645,120 Total of Black Hills, in S. Dakota and Wyoming 1,211,680 Total of Yellowstone, in Wyoming and Montana 8,329,200
_United States Military Wood and Timber Reservations_
Fort Leavenworth 939
Fort Missoula 1,677
Fort Robinson 10,240
Fort Wingate 19,200
Wooded Area of West Point Mil. Res., about 1,800
Fort Sill 26,880
Fort Meade 5,280
Fort D.A. Russell 2,541 ——
_National Parks in the United States_
Montana and Wyoming– Acres. Yellowstone National Park 2,142,720
Hot Springs Reserve and National Park 912
District of Columbia–
The National Zoological Park 170 Rock Creek Park 1,606
Georgia and Tennessee–
Chickamauga & Chattanooga Nat. Mil. Parks 6,195
Antietam Battlefield and Nat. Mil. Park 43
Sequoia National Park 160,000 General Grant National Park 2,560 Yosemite National Park 967,680
The Casa Grande Ruin (Exec. Order) 480
Shiloh National Military Park 3,000
Gettysburg National Military Park 877
Vicksburg National Military Park 1,233
The Mount Rainier National Park 207,360
Crater Lake 159,360
Sulphur Reservation and National Park 629
Wind Cave ……..
Forest Reserves of North America
_State Parks, State Forest Reserves and Preserves, State Forest Stations, and State Forest
Tracts in the United States_
Yosemite Valley State Park 36,000 The Big Basin Redwood Park, about 2,300 Santa Monica Forest Station 20 Chico Forest Station 29
Mt. Hamilton Tract 2,500
Ogallah Forestry Station 160 Dodge Forestry Station 160
Blue Hills Reservation 4,858 Beaver Brook Reservation 53
Middlesex Fells Reservation 3,028 Stony Brook Reservation 464
Hemlock Gorge Reservation 23 Hart’s Hill Reservation 23
Wachusett Mountain Reservation 1,380 Greylock Reservation 3,724
Goodwill Park 70
Rocky Narrows 21
Mount Anne Park 50
Monument Mountain Reservation 260