The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 5, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 4, 1805
May 6, 1805

May 5, 1805

Sunday May 5th 1805

A fine morning I walked on shore untill 8 A M when we halted for breakfast and in the course of my walk killed a deer which I carried about a mile and a half to the river, it was in good order. soon after seting out the rudder irons of the white perogue were broken by her runing fowl on a sawyer, she was however refitted in a few minutes with some tugs of raw hide and nales. as usual saw a great quantity of game today; Buffaloe Elk and goats or Antelopes feeding in every direction; we kill whatever we wish, the buffaloe furnish us with fine veal and fat beef, we also have venison and beaver tales when we wish them; the flesh of the Elk and goat are less esteemed, and certainly are inferior. we have not been able to take any fish for some time past. The country is as yesterday beatifull in the extreme.

saw the carcases of many Buffaloe lying dead along the shore partially devoured by the wolves and bear. saw a great number of white brant also the common brown brant, geese of the common kind and a small species of geese which differ considerably from the common canadian goose; their neck head and beak are considerably thicker shorter and larger than the other in proportion to it's size, they are also more than a third smaller, and their note more like that of the brant or a young goose which has not perfectly acquired his notes, in all other rispects they are the same in colour habits and the number of feathers in the tale, they frequently also ascociate with the large geese when in flocks, but never saw them pared off with the large or common goose. The white brant ascociate in very large flocks, they do not appear to be mated or pared off as if they intended to raise their young in this quarter, I therefore doubt whether they reside here during the summer for that purpose.

this bird is about the size of the common brown brant or two thirds of the common goose, it is not so long by six inches from point to point of the wings when extended as the other; the beak head and neck are also larger and stronger; their beak legs and feet are of a redish or fleshcoloured white. the eye is of moderate size, the puple of a deep sea green incircled with a ring of yellowish brown. it has sixteen feathers of equal length in the tale; their note differs but little from the common brant, their flesh much the same, and in my opinion preferable to the goose, the flesh is dark. they are entirely of a beatifull pure white except the large feathers of the 1st and second joints of the wings which are jut black. form and habits are the same with the other brant; they sometimes ascociate and form one common flock. Capt Clark found a den of young wolves in the course of his walk today and also saw a great number of those anamals; they are very abundant in this quarter, and are of two species the small woolf or burrowing dog of the praries are the inhabitants almost invariably of the open plains; they usually ascociate in bands of ten or twelve sometimes more and burrow near some pass or place much frequented by game; not being able alone to take a deer or goat they are rarely ever found alone but hunt in bands; they frequently watch and seize their prey near their burrows; in these burrows they raise their young and to them they also resort when pursued; when a person approaches them they frequently bark, their note being precisely that of the small dog. they are of an intermediate size between that of the fox and dog, very active fleet and delicately formed; the ears large erect and pointed the head long and pointed more like that of the fox; tale long; the hair and fur also resembles the fox tho is much coarser and inferior. they are of a pale redish brown colour. the eye of a deep sea green colour small and piercing. their tallons are reather longer than those of the ordinary wolf or that common to the atlantic states, none of which are to be found in this quarter, nor I believe above the river Plat.- The large woolf found here is not as large as those of the atlantic states. they are lower and thicker made shorter leged. their colour which is not effected by the seasons, is a grey or blackish brown and every intermediate shade from that to a creen coloured white; these wolves resort the woodlands and are also found in the plains, but never take refuge in the ground or burrow so far as I have been able to inform myself. we scarcely see a gang of buffaloe without observing a parsel of those faithfull shepherds on their skirts in readiness to take care of the mamed & wounded. the large wolf never barks, but howls as those of the atlantic states do. Capt. Clark and Drewyer killed the largest brown bear this evening which we have yet seen. it was a most tremendious looking anamal, and extreemly hard to kill notwithstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various parts he swam more than half the distance acoss the river to a sandbar & it was at least twenty minutes before he died; he did not attempt to attact, but fled and made the most tremendous roaring from the moment he was shot. We had no means of weighing this monster; Capt. Clark thought he would weigh 500 lbs. for my own part I think the estimate too small by 100 lbs. he measured 8 Feet 71/2 Inches from the nose to the extremety of the hind feet, 5 F. to 1/2 Inch arround the breast, 1 F. 11 I. arround the middle of the arm, & 3 F. 11 I. arround the neck; his tallons which were five in number on each foot were 4 1/8 Inches in length. he was in good order, we therefore divided him among the party and made them boil the oil and put it in a cask for future uce; the oil is as hard as hogs lard when cool, much more so than that of the black bear. this bear differs from the common black bear in several respects; it's tallons are much longer and more blont, it's tale shorter, it's hair which is of a redish or bey brown, is longer thicker and finer than that of the black bear; his liver lungs and heart are much larger even in proportion with his size; the heart particularly was as large as that of a large Ox. his maw was also ten times the size of black bear, and was filled with flesh and fish. his testicles were pendant from the belly and placed four inches assunder in seperate bags or pouches.- this animal also feeds on roots and almost every species of wild fruit.

The party killed two Elk and a Buffaloe today, and my dog caught a goat, which he overtook by superior fleetness, the goat it must be understood was with young and extreemly poor. a great number of these goats are devowered by the wolves and bear at this season when they are poor and passing the river from S. W. to N. E. they are very inactive and easily taken in the water, a man can out swim them with great ease; the Indians take them in great numbers in the river at this season and in autumn when they repass to the S. W.

5th of May Sunday 1805

We Set out verry early and had not proceeded far before the rudder Irons of one of the Perogus broke which detained us a Short time Capt Lewis walked on Shore this morning and killed a Deer, after brackfast I walked on Shore Saw great numbers of Buffalow & Elk Saw also a Den of young wolves, and a number of (frown wolves in every direction, the white & Grey Brant is in this part of the Missouri I shot at the white brant but at So great a distance I did not kill, The Countrey on both sides is as yesterday, handsom & fertile- The river rising & Current Strong & in the evening we Saw a Brown or Grisley beare on a Sand beech, I went out with one man Geo. Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights This animal is the largest of the Carnivorous kind I ever Saw we had nothing that could way him, I think his weight may be Stated at 500 pounds, he measured 8 feet 71/2 In. from his nose to the extremity of the Toe, 5 feet 101/2 in. arround the breast, 1 feet 11 Ins. around the middle of the arm, 3 feet 11 Ins. arround the neck his tallents was 4 Inches &3/8 long, he was good order, and appeared verry different from the Common black bear in as much as his tallents were blunt, his tail Short, his liver & lights much larger, his maw ten times as large and Contained meat or flesh & fish only- we had him Skined and divided, the oile tried up & put in Kegs for use. we Camped on the Stard Side, our men killed three Elk and a Buffalow to day, and our Dog Cought an antilope a fair race, this animal appeared verry pore & with young.