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January 1, 1843

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A trapper describes the other carnivorous animals he is competing with and hunting in the Rocky Mountains.





Journal of a Trapper

Osborne Russell


Important Text:


This Species of animals is very numerous in the Rocky Mountains and very mischievous and annoying to the Hunters They often get into the traps setting for Beaver or searching out the deposits of meat which the weary hunter has made during a toilsome days hunt among mountains too rugged and remote for him to bear the reward of his labors to the place of Encampment, and when finding these deposits the Carcajou carries off all or as much of the contents as he is able secreting it in different places among the snow rocks or bushes in such a manner that it is very difficult for man or beast to find it. The avaricious disposition of this animal has given rise to the name of Glutton by Naturalists who suppose that it devours so much at a time as to render it stupid and incapable of moving or running about but I have never seen an instance of this Kind on the contrary I have seen them quite expert and nimble immediately after having carreyd away 4 or 5 times their weight in meat. I have good reason to believe that the Carcajou's appetite is easily satisfied upon meat freshly killed but after it becomes putrid it may become more Voracious but I never saw one myself or a person who had seen one in a stupid dormant state caused by Gluttony altho I have often wished it were the case The body is thick and long the legs short, the feet and Claws are longer in proportion than those of the Black bear which it very much resembles. with the exception of its tail which is 12 inches long and bushy. Its body is about 3 ft long and stands fifteen inches high its colour is black except along the sides which are of a dirty white or light brown -

Its movements are somewhat quicker than those of the Bear and it climbs trees with ease. I have never known either by experience or information the Carcajou to prey upon animals of its own killing larger than very young fawns or lambs altho. it has been described by Naturalists and generally believed that it climbs trees and leaps down upon Elk Deer and other large animals and clings to their back till it kills them in spite of their efforts to get rid of it by speed or resistance but we need go no further than the formation of the animal to prove those statements erroneous. Its body legs feet and mouth are shaped similarly to the Black Bear as has been already stated but its claws are somewhat longer and straighter in proportion and like the Bear its claws are somewhat blunted at the points which would render it impossible for them to cling to the back of an Elk or Deer while running. I do not pretend to say however what may be its habits in other countries I only write from Experience. They do not den up like the Bear in winter but ramble about the streams among the high mountains where they find springs open - its hair is 3 inches long and in the Summer is coarse like the Bear but in winter it is near as fine as that of the Red Fox The female brings forth its young in April and generally brings two at a birth


Of this Species of animals there are several kinds as the Buffaloe Wolf the Big Prarie Wolf and the small prarie or Medicine Wolf. The Buffaloe wolf is from 2 to 3 ft high and from 4 to 5 ft long from the tip of the nose to the insertion of the tail its hair is long coarse and shaggy Its color varies from a dark gray to a snowy whiteness. They are not ferocious towards man and will run at sight of him. The big Prarie wolf is 2 ft high and 3 1/2 ft long; its hair is long and shaggy: its color is a dirty grey often inclining to a brown or brindle. The least kind is little Prarie or Medicine Wolf: its size is somewhat larger than the red fox: its color is brownish grey and its species something between the Big Wolf and the Fox. The Indians are very superstitious about this animal when it comes near a Village and barks they say there is people near Some pretend to distinguish between its warning the approach of friends and enemies and in the latter case I have often seen them secure their horses and prepare themselves to fight. I have often seen this prophecy tolerably accurately fulfilled and again I have as often seen it fail but a supperstitious Indian will always account for the failure The habits of these three kinds of wolves are similar Their rutting season is in March, the female brings forth from 2 to 6 at a birth


This animal is rarely seen in the plains but confines itself to the more woody and mountainous districts its color is light brown on the back and the belly is a sort of ash color: its length is 5 ft from the tip of the nose to the insertion of the tail which is about 1/2 the length of the body it is very destructive on Sheep and other animals that live on high mountains but will run at the sight of a man and has a great antipathy to fire.


Much has been said by travellers in regard to this animal yet while giving a description of animals that inhabit the Rocky Mountains I do not feel justified in silently passing over in silence the most ferocious species without endeavoring to con- tribute some little information respecting it which altho it may not be important I hope some of it at least will be new It lives chiefly upon roots and berries being of too slow a nature to live much upon game of its own killing and from May to Septr. it never tastes flesh. The rutting season is in Novr. and the Female brings forth from 1 to 3 at a birth I have not been able to ascertain the precise time that the female goes with young but I suppose from experience and enquiry it is about 14 weeks. The young are untameable and manifest a savage ferocity when scarcely old enough to crawl Several experiments have been tried in the Rocky Mountains for taming them but to no effect. They are possessed with great muscular strength I have seen a female which was wounded by a rifle ball in the loins so as to disable her kill her young with one stroke of the fore paw as fast as they approached her. If a young Cub is wounded an commences making a noise the mother immediately springs upon it and kills it when grown they never make a noise except a fearful growl they get to be fatter than any other animals in the Rocky Mts. during the season when wild fruit is abundant. The flesh of the Grizzly Bear is preferable to Pork - It likes in winter in caves in the Rocks or holes dug in the ground on high Ridges It loses no flesh while confined to its den in the winter but is equally as fat in the Spring when it leaves the den as when it enters it at the beginning of the winter. There is seldom to be found more than one in a den excepting the female and her young. I have seen them measure seven feet from the tip of the nose to the insertion of the tail. It will generally run from the scent of a man but when it does not get the scent it will often let him approach close enough to spring upon him and when wounded it is a dangerous animal to trifle with. Its speed is comparatively slow down hill but much greater in ascending it never climbs trees as its claws are too straight for that purpose.


The Black Bear of the Mountains are much the same species of those in the States. In comparison with the Grizzly it is entirely harmless. It is seldom found in the plains but inhabits the Timbered and mountanous districts They are not very numerous and their habits are too well known to need a detailed description here

Topics: (click image to open)

Man The Fat Hunter
Man is a lipivore - hunting and preferring the fattiest meats they can find. When satisifed with fat, they will want little else.
Facultative Carnivore
Facultative Carnivore describes the concept of animals that are technically omnivores but who thrive off of all meat diets. Humans may just be facultative carnivores - who need no plant products for long-term nutrition.
Carnivore Diet
The carnivore diet involves eating only animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, marrow, meat broths, organs. There are little to no plants in the diet.
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