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Entries For April 29:
Captain Lewis (current)
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Set out this morning at the usual hour. The wind was moderate. I walked on shore with one man. About 8 A.M. we fell in with two brown or yellow [white] bear, both of which we wounded. One of them made his escape; the other, after my firing on him, pursued me 70 or 80 yards but fortunately had been so badly wounded that he was unable to pursue so closely as to prevent my charging my gun. We again repeated our fire, and killed him. It was a male, not fully grown. We estimated his weight at 300 pounds, not having the means of ascertaining it precisely.
The legs of this bear are somewhat longer than those of the black, as are its talons and tusks incomparably larger and longer. The testicles, which in the black bear are placed pretty well back between the thighs and contained in one pouch like those of the dog and most quadrupeds, are, in the yellow or brown bear, placed much further forward, and are suspended in separate pouches, from two to four inches asunder. Its color is yellowish brown; the eyes small, black, and piercing. The front of the forelegs near the feet is usually black. The fur is finer, thicker, and deeper than that of the black bear. These are all the particulars in which this animal appeared to me to differ from the black bear. It is a much more furious and formidable animal, and will frequently pursue the hunter when wounded. It is astonishing to see the wounds they will bear before they can be put to death. The Indians may well fear this animal, equipped as they generally are with their bows and arrows or indifferent fusees; but in the hands of skillful riflemen, they are by no means as formidable or dangerous as they have been presented.
Game is still very abundant. We can scarcely cast our eyes in any direction without perceiving deer, elk, buffalo, or antelopes. The quantity of wolves appears to increase in the same proportion. They generally hunt in parties of six, eight, or ten. They kill a great number of the antelopes at this season. The antelopes are yet meager, and the females are big with young. The wolves take them most generally in attempting to swim the river. In this manner, my dog caught one, drowned it, and brought it on shore. They are but clumsy swimmers, though on land, when in good order, they are extremely fleet and durable.
We have frequently seen the wolves in pursuit of the antelope in the plains. They appear to decoy a single one from a flock, and then pursue it, alternately relieving each other, until they take it. On joining Captain Clark, he informed me that he had seen a female and fawn of the bighorned animal that they ran for some distance with great apparent ease along the side of the river bluff where it was almost perpendicular. Two of the party fired on them while in motion, without effect. We took the flesh of the bear on board and proceeded. Captain Clark walked on shore this evening; killed a deer, and saw several of the bighorned animals.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.