The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, February 28, 1806
Lewis, February 28, 1806
Friday February 28th 1806. Reubin Fields and Collins set out this morning early on a hunting excurtion. Kuskelar a Clatsop man and his wife visited us today. they brought some Anchovies, Sturgeon, a beaver robe, and some roots for sail tho they asked so high a price for every article that we purchased nothing but a part of a Sturgeon for which we gave a few fishing hooks. we suffered them to remain all night. Shields Jos. Fields and Shannon returned late this evening having killed five Elk tho two of them ar on a mountain at a considerable distance. we ordered these hunters to return early in the morning and continue their hunt, and Sergt. Gass to take a party and go in quest of the Elk which they had killed. the hunters inform us that the Elk are tolerable plenty near the mountains about 9 or ten miles distant. Kuskelar brought a dog which Cruzatte had purchased.
The hare on this side of the Rocky mountains is exclusively the inhabitant of the great Plains of Columbia, as they are of those of the Missouri East of these mountains. they weigh from 7 to eleven pounds. the measure of one which weighed ten lbs. was as follows. from the extremity of the hinder, to that of the fore feet when extended 3 F. length from nose to the extremity of the tail 2 F. 2 I. hight when standing erect 1 F. 3 I. girth of the body 1 F. 4 I. length of tail 61/2 I. length of ear 51/2 I. width of do 3 1/8 I. from the hip to the extremity of toe of the hind foot 1 F. 41/4 I.- the eye is large and prominent. the pupil is circular, of a deep sea green and occupys one third of the diameter of the eye, the iris is of a bright yellowish silver colour. the ears are placed far back on the head and very near each other, they are flexable and the animal moves them with great ease and quickness, and can dilate and throw them forward, or contract and fold them on his back at pleasure. the fold of the front of the ear is of a redish brown colour, the inner folds or those which lie together when the ears are thrown back, and which occupy 2/3ds of the width of the ears are of a pure white except the tips of the ears for about an inch. the hinder folds or those which lie on the back are of a light grey. the head neck, back, sholders, sides, & outer part of the legs and thyes are of a lead coloured grey; the sides as they approach the belley become gradually more white. the belley, brest, and inner part of the legs and thyes are white, with a slight shade of the lead colour. the tail is round and blontly pointed, covered with fine soft white fur not quite as long as on the other parts of the body. the body is covered with a deep fine soft close fur. the colours here discribed are those which the animal assumes from the middle of April to the middle of November, the ballance of the year they are of a pure white, except the black and redish brown of the ears which never changes. a few redish brown spots are sometimes seen intermixed with the white, at this season, on their heads and upper part of the neck and sholders. the body of this animal is smaller and longer in proportion to it's hight than the rabbit. when it runs it carrys it's tail streight behind in the direction of it's body. they appear to run with more ease and bound with greater agility than any animal I ever saw. they are extreemly fleet and never burrow or take sheter in the ground when pursued. it's teeth are like those of the rabbit as is also it's upper lip which is divided as high as the nose. it's food is grass, herbs, and in winter feeds much on the bark of several aromatic shrubs which grow in the plains and the young willow along the rivers and other wartercourses.- I have measured the leaps of this animal and find them commonly from 18 to 21 feet. they are generally found seperate, and never seen to asscociate in any number or more than two or three.- the rabbit are the same of our country and are found indifferently either in the praries or woodlands. they are not very abundant in this country. The Pole-cat is also found in every part of the country. they are very abundant on some parts of the columbia, particularly in the neighbourhood of the great falls and narrows of that river, where they live in the clifts along the river and feed on the offal of the Indian fishing shores. these are the same as those of other parts of North America.