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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

American Bison

The Corps met two French traders on this day.

Capt. Clark, June 5, 1804--those men inform [us] that the Kansas Nation are now out in the plains hunting Buffalow . . . .

Capt. Clark, June 6, 1804--Some buffalow Sign to day.

Capt. Clark, August 23, 1804--J. Fields Sent out to hunt. Came to the Boat and informed that he had Killed a Buffalow in the plain a head. Cap. Lewis took 12 Men and had the buffalow brought to the boat in the next bend to the S.S.

Capt. Clark, September 17, 1804-- this scenery 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.

Capt. Clark, December 7, 1804--a verry cold day wind from the NW. the Big White Grand Chief of the Ist Village, came and informed us that a large Drove of Buffalows was near and his people was waiting for us to join them in a chase Capt Lewis took 15 men & went out joined the Indians, who were at the time he got up, Killing the Buffalow on Horseback with arrows which they done with great dexterity, his part killed 10 Buffalow, five of which we got to the fort by the assistance of a horse in addition to what the men Packed on their backs. one cow was killed on the ice after drawing her out of a vacancey in the ice in which She had fallen, and Butchered her at the fort. those we did not get in was taken by the Indians under a Custom which is established amongst them i.e. any person seeing a buffalow lying without an arrow Sticking in him, or some purticular mark takes possession, many times (as I am told) a hunter who kills maney Buffalow in a chase only Gets a part of one . . . the river Closed opposit the fort last night 1 1/2 inches thick, The Thermometer Stood this Morning at I d. below 0. three men frost bit badly to day.

Capt. Lewis, April 22, 1805--I asscended to the top of the cutt bluff this morning, from whence I had a most delightfull view of the country, the whole of which except the vally formed by the Missouri is void of timber or underbrush, exposing to the first glance of the spectator immence herds of Buffaloe, Elk, deer, & Antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture. ... walking on the shore this evening I met with a buffaloe calf which attatched itself to me and continued to follow close at my heels untill I embarked and left it. it appeared allarmed at my dog which was probably the cause of it's so readily attatching itself to me. Capt Clark informed me that he saw a large drove of buffaloe pursued by wolves today, that they at length caught a calf which was unable to keep up with the her. the cows only defend their young so long as they are able to keep up with the herd, and seldom return any distance in surch of them.

Capt. Clark, April 22, 1805--it (the river) passes (as far as we can see which is 6 or 7 Leagus) thro' a butifull extinsive vallee, rich & fertile and at this time covered with Buffalow, Elk & antelopes, which may be Seen also in any other direction in this quarter.

Capt. Lewis, May 29, 1805--Last night we were all allarmed by a large buffaloe Bull, which swam over from the opposite shore and coming along side of the white perogue, climbed over it to land, he then allarmed ran up the bank in full speed directly towards the fires and was within 18 inches of the heads of some of the men who lay sleeping before the centinel could allarm him or make him change his course, still more alarmed, he now took his direction immediately towards our lodge, passing between 4 fires and within a few inches of the heads of one range of the men as they yet lay sleeping, when he came near the tent, my dog saved us by causing him to change his course a second time, which he did by turning a little to the right, and was quickly out of sight, leaving us by this time all in an uproar with our guns in o[u]r hands, enquiring of each other the ca[u]se of the alarm, after which after a few moments was explained by the centinel; we were happy to find no one hirt.

Capt. Clark, May 29, 1805--In the last night we were alarmed by a Buffalow which swam from the opposit shore landed opposit the Perogue in which Capt Lewis & my self were in he crossed the perogue, and went with great force up to the fire where several men were sleeping and was [within] 18 inches of their heads, when one man sitting up allarmed him and he turned his course along the range of men as they lay, passing between 4 fires and within a fiew Inches of some of the mens heads as they lay immediately in the direction to our lodge about which several men were lying. our Dog flew out & he change his course & passed without doeing more damage than bend a rifle & braking hir stock and injureying one of the blunder busts in the perogue as he passed through.

Capt. Lewis, July 10, 1805--Capt Clark informed me that he saw a large drove of buffaloe pursued by wolves today, that they at length caught a calf which was unable to keep up with the her. the cows only defend their young so long as they are able to keep up with the herd, and seldom return any distance in surch of them.

Capt. Clark, August 29, 1806--I with Several of the men went out in pursute of Buffalow. the men killed 2 Bulls near me they were very pore I assended to the high Country and from an eminance I had a view of the plains for a great distance. from this eminance I had a view of a greater number of buffalow than I had ever seen before at one time. I must have seen near 20,000 of those animals feeding on this plain. I have observed that in the country between the nations which are at war with each other the greatest numbers of wild animals are to be found.

 
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