Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists


Capt. Clark, September 5, 1804--Set out early the wind blew hard from the South, Goats, turkeys Seen today, . . . .

Capt. Clark, September 6, 1804--I saw Several goats on the hills on the S. S. [south side] also Buffalow in great numbers.

Capt. Clark, September 9, 1804--I walked on Shore all this evening with a view to Kill a goat or Some Prairie Dogs in the evening after the boat landed, . . . .

Capt. Clark, September 14, 1804--Set out early proceeded on Passed several Sand bars the river wide and Shallow. 3 beaver caught last night, Drizeley rain in the forepart of the day, Cloudy and disagreeable. I walked on Shore with a view to find an old Vulcanoe, Said to be in this neighbourhood by Mr. J. McKey of St. Charles. I walked on Shore the whole day without Seeing any appearance of the Vulcanoe, in my walk I Killed a Buck Goat of this Countrey, about the hight of the Grown Deer, its body Shorter the Horns which is not very hard and forks 2/3 up one prong Short the other round & Sharp arched, and is imediately above its Eyes the Colour is a light gray with black behind its ears down its neck, and its face white round its neck, its Sides and rump round its tail which is Short & white: Verry actively made, has only a pair of hoofs to each foot, his brains on the back of his head, his Norstrals large, his eyes like a Sheep he is more like the Antilope or Gazella of Africa than any other Species of Goat.

Som heavy Showers of rain all wet, had the Goat & rabit [ed.--white-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii]Stufed rained all night.

Capt. Clark, September 16, 1804--This Camp is Situated in a butifull Plain Serounded with Timber to the extent of 3/4 of a mile in which there is great quantities of fine Plumbs The two men detach.d up the White river . . . they Saw also Numbers of Goats, Such as I Killed, also Wolves near the Buffalow.

Capt. Lewis, September 16, 1804--Serg.t Gass and Reubin Fields whom we had sent out yesterday to explore the White river returnd at four oclock this day and reported that they had followed the meanders of that stream about 12 miles . . . the level planes commence and extend as far as the eye can reach on either side . . . . these extensive planes had been lately birnt and the grass had sprung up and was about three inches high. vast herds of Buffaloe deer Elk and Antilopes were seen feeding in every direction as far as the eye of the observer could reach.

Capt. Lewis, September 17, 1804-- Having for many days confined myself to the boat, I determined to devote this day to amuse myself on shore with my gun and view the interior of the country lying between the river and the Corvus creek, two with orders to hunt the bottums and woodland on the river, while I retained two others to acompany me in the intermediate country. . . . this senery already rich pleasing and beatiful was still farther hightened by immence herds of Buffaloe, deer Elk and Antelopes which we saw in every direction feeding on the hills and plains. I do not think I exagerate when I estimate the number of Buffaloe which could be compre[hend]ed at one view to amount to 3000. my object was if possible to kill a female Antelope having already procured a male; I pursued my rout on this plain to the west flanked by my two hunters untill eight in the morning when I made the signal for them to come to me which they did shortly after. we rested our selves about half an hour . . . . we had now after various windings in pursuit of several herds of antelopes which we had seen on our way made the distance of about eight miles from our camp. we found the Antelope extreemly shye and watchfull insomuch that we had been unable to get a shot at them; when at rest they generally seelect the most elivated point in the neighbourhood, and as they are watchfull and extreemly quick of sight and their sense of smelling very acute it is almost impossible to approach them within gunshot; in short they will frequently discover and flee from you at the distance of three miles. I had this day an opportunity of witnessing the agility and superior fleetness of this anamal which was to me really astonishing. I had pursued and twice surprised a small herd of seven, in the first instance they did not discover me distinctly and therefore did not run at full speed, tho' they took care before they rested to gain an elivated point where it was impossible to approach them under cover, except in one direction and that happened to be in the direction from which the wind blew towards them; bad as the chance to approach them was, I made the best of my way towards them, frequently peeping over the ridge with which I took care to conceal myself from their view the male, of which there was but one, frequently incircled the summit of the hill on which the females stood in a group, as if to look out for the approach of danger. I got within about 200 paces of them when they smelt me and fled; I gained the top of the eminence on which they stood, as soon as possible from whence I had an extensive view of the country the antilopes which had disappeared in a steep reveene now appeared at the distance of about three miles on the side of a ridge which passed obliquely across me and extended about four miles. So soon had these antelopes gained the distance at which they had again appeared to my view I doubted at ferst that they were the same that I had just surprised, but my doubts soon vanished when I beheld the rapidity of their flight along the ridge before me it appeared reather the rappid flight of birds than the motion of quadrupeds. I think I can safely venture the asscertion that the speed of this anamal is equal if not superior to that of the finest blooded courser.


Because the pronghorn were so fast, they were difficult to capture. Two techniques offered the best hope of capture, either when they were migrating and swimming across the river, or when groups of hunters could pursue them in relays to wear them out.

Capt. Clark, September 20, 1804--passed a Small Island on the L. S. [ed.--left side] in the N.W. extremity of the bend Called Solitary Island, and Camped late on a Sand Bar near the S.S. [ed.--south side] R. Fields Killed I Deer & 2 Goats one of them a female. She Differs from the Mail as to Size being Smaller, with Small Horns, Streght with a Small Prong without any black about the Neck. None of those Goats has any Beard, they are all Keenly made and is butifull.

Capt. Clark, October 5, 1804--Saw a gang of Goats Swiming across the river out of which we killed four they were not fatt.

Capt. Clark, October 16, 1804--The Island is called Carp Island by Ivens Wind hard from the N.W. Saw great numbers of Goats on the Shore S.S. proceeded on Cap.t Lewis & the Indian Chief [Ed.--Arapaho chief ""Arketarnashar, or Chief of the Town""] walked on Shore, soon after I discovered great numbers of Goats in the river, and Indians on the Shore on each Side, as I approached or got nearer I discovered boys in the water Killing the goats with Sticks and halling them to Shore, Those on the banks Shot them with arrows and as they approach.d the Shore would turn them back of this Gangue of Goats I counted 58 of which they had killed on the Shore . . . .

Capt. Lewis, August 14, 1805--as we had nothing but a little flour and parched meal to eat except the berries with which the Indians furnished us I directed Drewyer and Shields to hunt a few hours and try to kill something, the Indians furnished them with horses and most of their young men also turned out to hunt. the game which they principally hunt is the Antelope which they pursue on horseback and shoot with their arrows. this animal is so extreemly fleet and dureable that a single horse has no possible chance to overtake them or run them down. the Indians are therefore obliged to have recorce to strategem when they discover a herd of the Antelope they seperate and scatter themselves to the distance of five or six miles in different directions around them generally scelecting some commanding eminence for a stand; some one or two now pursue the herd at full speed over the hills vallies gullies and the sides of precipices that are tremendious to view. thus after runing them from five to six or seven miles the fresh horses that were in waiting head them and drive them back persuing them as far or perhaps further quite to the other extreem of the hunters who now in turn pursue on their fresh horses thus worrying the poor animal down and finally killing them with their arrows. forty or fifty hunters will be engaged for half a day in this manner and perhaps not kill more than two or three Antelopes. the have but few Elk or black tailed deer, and the common red deer they cannot take as they secrete themselves in the brush when pursued, and they have only the bow and arrow wich is a very slender dependence for killing any game except such as they can run down with their horses. I was very much entertained with a view of this indian chase; it was after a herd of about 10 Antelope and about 20 hunters. it lasted about 2 hours and considerable part of the chase in view from my tent. about 1 A.M. the hunters returned had not killed a single Antelope, and their horses foaming with sweat. my hunters returned soon after and had been equally unsuccessfull.


The explorers were well positioned to observe the migration of the pronghorns in the autumn and in the spring.

Capt. Clark, October 17, 1804--Great numbers of Goats are flocking down to the S. Side of the river, on their way to the Black mountains where they winter Those animals return in the Spring in the Same way & scatter in different directions.

Capt. Clark, December 12, 1804--a Clear Cold morning Wind from the north the Thermometer at Sun rise Stood at 38 degrees below 0., moderated untill 6 oClock at which time it began to get Colder. . . . a Indian of the Shoe (Maharha or Mocassin) [Ed.--Ahnahaway] Nation Came with the half of a Cabra ko ka or Antilope which he killed near the Fort. Great numbers of those animals are near our fort (so that they do not all return to rock mountain Goat) but the weather is So Cold that we do not think it prudent to turn out to hunt in Such Cold weather . . . .

Capt. Lewis, April 3rd, 1805--Three miles above the mouth of this creek [Miry Creek] we passed a hunting camp of Minetares who had prepared a park and were wating the return of the Antelope; which usually pass the Missouri at this season of the year from the Black hills on the South side, to the open plains on the north side of the river; in like manner the Antelope repasses the Missouri from N. to South in the latter end of Autumn, an winter in the black hills, where there is considerable bodies of woodland.


As the Corps prepared to move into the mountains and leave the Missouri River, members of the group were designated to return with writings, specimens, and artifacts documenting the progress of the exploration to date.

Capt. Clark, April 3rd, 1805--we are all day engaged packing up Sundery articles to be sent to the President of the U.S.

Box No. I, contains the following articles i.e. In package No. 3 & 4 Male & female antelope, with their Skelitons.

Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice