The Journals of Lewis & Clark: February 19, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
February 18, 1806
February 20, 1806

February 19, 1806

Wednesday February 19th 1806. Sergt. Ordway set out again this morning with a party for the salt works by land. in the evening Sergt. Gass returned with the flesh of eight Elk, and seven skins; having left one skin with Shannon and Labuishe who remained over the netul to continue the chase. we had the Elk skins divided among the messes in order that they might be prepared for covering our baggage when we set out in the spring. our sick are recovering but they appear to strengthen but slowly. The common red deer we found under the rocky mts. in the neighbourhood of the Chopunnish, and about the great falls of the Columbia river and as low down the same as the commencement of tide water. these do not appear to differ essentially from those of our country being about the same size shape and appearance in every rispect except their great length of tail which is more than half as long again as our deer I measured one of them which was 17 inches long. The Black tailed fallow deer are peculiar to this coast and are a distinct species of deer partaking equally of peculiarities of the mule deer and the common deer. their ears are reather larger and their winter coat darker than the common deer; the recepticle of the eye or drane is mor conspicuous; their legs shorter and body thicker and larger than the common deer; their tail is about the length of our deer or from 8 to 10 inches the hair on the underside of which is white, and that of it's sides and top quite black the horns resemble in form and colour those of the mule deer which it also resembles in it's gate; that is bounding with all four feet off the ground at the same time when runing at full speed and not loping as the common deer or antelope do. they are sometimes found in the woodlands but most frequently in the praries and open grounds. they may be said generally to be a size larger than the common deer and that less than the mule deer. they are very seldom found in good order, or fat, even in the season which the common deer are so, and their flesh is inferior to any species of deer which I have ever seen.-

Wednesday February 19th 1806. Sergt. Ordway Set out again with a party to the Salt works by land. in the evening Sergt. Gass returned with the flesh of Eight Elk, and Seven Skins haveing left one Skin with Shannon and Labiche who remained over the Netul to Continue the chase. we devided the Skins between the messes in order that they might be prepared for Covering the baggage when we Set out in the Spring. our Sick appear to Strengthen but Slowly I gave Bratten 6 of Scotts pills which did not work him. he is very weak and Complains of his back.

The black Fox or as they are more frequently Called by the N West Trader Fisher is found in the woody country on this Coast. how this Animal obtained the name of fisher I know not, but certain it is, that the name is not appropriate, as it does not prey on or Seek it as a prey-. they are extreeinly active Strong and made for climbing which they do with great agility, and bound from tree to tree in pursute of the squirel or Rackoon, their natural and most usual food. their Colour is a jut Black except a Small Spot of white on the breast. the body is long, legs Short and formed Something like the turnspit Dog, with a remarkable long tail. it does not differ here from those of the United States.

The Silver Fox this animale is very rare even in the Countrey where it exists, I have never Seen more than the Skins of this Animal and those were in the possession of the nativs of the woody Country below the Great falls of the Columbia, from which I think it is most probably they are the inhabitants of the woody country exclusively. from the Skins, it appeard to be about the Size of the large red Fox of the plains and much of its form with a large tail. the legs I think somewhat longer it has a fine long deep fur poil. the poil is of a dark lead colour and the long hairs intermixed with it, are either white or black at the lower part, and white at top, the whole mixture forming a butifull Silver Grey. I think this the handsomest of all the Fox Species, except a Species of which I Saw one running, and Capt Lewis had a good view of another of the Same Species on the Missouri near the natural walls. The large red fox of the plains, and the Kit fox are the Same which we met with on the Missouri and are the inhabitants almost exclusively of the open plains, or of the copse of bushes within the plain country. the Common red or grey fox of the United States is also found in the woody country on this coast, nor does it appear to be altered in respect to it's fur colour or any other particular. we have Seen none of the large red fox.