The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 15, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 14, 1806
May 16, 1806

May 15, 1806

Thursday May 15th 1806. This morning early Reubin Fields in surching for his horse saw a large bear at no great distance from camp; several men went in pursuit of the bear, they followed his trail a considerable distance but could not come up with him. Labuish and Shannon set out with a view to establish a hunting camp and continuing several days, two others accompanyed them in order to bring in the three bear which Labuish had killed. Drewyer and Cruzatte were sent up the river; Sheilds R. Feilds and Willard hunted in the hills near the camp they returned in the evening with a few pheasants only and reported that there was much late appearance of bear, but beleived that they had gone off to a greater distance. at 11 A.M. the men returned with the bear which Labuich had killed. These bear gave me a stronger evidence of the various coloured bear of this country being one speceis only, than any I have heretofore had. The female was black with a considerable proportion of white hairs intermixed and a white spot on the breast, one of the young bear was jut black and the other of a light redish brown or bey colour. the poil of these bear were infinitely longer finer and thicker than the black bear their tallons also longer and more blont as if woarn by diging roots. the white and redish brown or bey coloured bear I saw together on the Missouri; the bey and grizly have been seen and killed together here for these were the colours of those which Collins killed yesterday. in short it is not common to find two bear here of this speceis precisely of the same colour, and if we were to attempt to distinguish them by their collours and to denominate each colour a distinct speceis we should soon find at least twenty. some bear nearly white have also been seen by our hunters at this place. the most striking differences between this speceis of bear and the common black bear are that the former are larger, have longer tallons and tusks, prey more on other animals, do not lie so long nor so closely in winter quarters, and will not climb a tree tho eversoheardly pressed. the variagated bear I beleive to be the same here with those on the missouri but these are not as ferocious as those perhaps from the circumstance of their being compelled from the scarcity of game in this quarter to live more on roots and of course not so much in the habit of seizing and devouring living animals. the bear here are far from being as passive as the common black bear they have attacked and faught our hunters already but not so fiercely as those of the Missouri. there are also some of the common black bear in this neighbourhood. Frazier, J. Fields and Wiser complain of violent pains in their heads, and Howard and York are afflicted with the cholic. I attribute these complaints to their diet of roots which they have not been accustomed. Tunnachemootoolt and 12 of his young men left us this morning on their return to their village. Hohastillpilp and three old men remained untill 5 in the evening when they also departed. at 1 P.M. a party of 14 natives on horseback passed our camp on a hunting excurtion; they were armed with bows and arrows and had decoys for the deer these are the skins of the heads and upper portions of the necks of the deer extended in their natural shape by means of a fraim of little sticks placed within. the hunter when he sees a deer conceals himself and with his hand gives to the decoy the action of a deer at feed; and thus induces the deer within arrowshot; in this mode the indians hunt on foot in the woodlands where they cannot pursue the deer with horses which is their favorite method when the ground will permit.- we had all of our horses driven together today near our camp, which we have directed shall be done each day in order to familiarize them to each other. several of the horses which were gelded yesterday are much swolen particularly those cut by Drewyer, the others bled most but appear much better today than the others.

we had our baggage better secured under a good shelter formed of grass; we also strengthened our little fortification with pine poles and brush, and the party formed themselves very comfortable tents with willow poles and grass in the form of the orning of a waggon, these were made perfectly secure as well from the heat of the sun as from rain. we had a bower constructed for ourselves under which we set by day and sleep under the part of an old sail now our only tent as the leather lodge has become rotten and unfit for use. about noon the sun shines with intense heat in the bottoms of the river. the air on the tom of the river hills or high plain forms a distinct climate, the air is much colder, and vegitation is not as forward by at least 15 or perhaps 20 days. the rains which fall in the river bottoms are snows on the plain. at the distance of fifteen miles from the river and on the Eastern border of this plain the Rocky Mountains commence and present us with winter it it's utmost extreem. the snow is yet many feet deep even near the base of these mountains; here we have summer spring and winter within the short space of 15 or 20 miles.- Hohastillpilp and the three old men being unable to pass the river as the canoe had been taken away, returned to our camp late in the evening and remained with us all night.

Thursday 15th of May 1806

This morning Reubin Fields went out to hunt his horse very early and Saw a large bear and no great distance from Camp. Several men went in pursute of the bear, and prosued his trail Some time without gitting Sight of this Monster. Shannon went out with Labeach to hunt and continue out 3 days, Gibson and Hall accompanied them for the meat Labeech killed yesterday which they brought in by 11 A M. this Morning the female was black with white hares intermixed and a white Spot on the breast the Cubs were about the Size of a dog also pore. one of them very black and the other a light redish brown or bey colour. These bear give me a Stronger evidence of the various Coloured bear of this Country being one Specie only, than any I have heretofore had. Several other Colours have been seen. Drewyer and Peter Crusat went up the river. John Shields, R. Fields and Willard hunted in the hills near Camp and returned before 2 P. M without killing any thing except a fiew Grows. they saw but few deer. Some bear Sign. Frazur Jo. Fields and Peter Wizer Complain of a violent pain in their heads. Howard and York with violent Cholicks. the Cause of those disorders we are unable to account for. their diet and the Sudin Change of Climate must contribute. The Great Chief Tin nach-e-moo-tolt (or broken Arm) and 12 of the young men of his nation left us today about 11 oClock and Crossed the river to his Village Hoh-hast-ill-pilt and 3 old men Continued with us untill about 5 P. M when they left us and returnd. to their Village. a party of 14 Indians passed our Camp about 1 P.M. on their way to the leavel uplands to run and kill the deer with their horses and Bows and arrows. Some of them were also provided with deers heads Cased for the purpose of decoying the deer. those men continued withus but a fiew minits and proceeded on. Those people hunt most Commonly on horse back Seround the Deer or Goat which they find in the open plains & kill them with their arrows. tho they Sometimes hunt the deer on foot & decoy them. we had all of our horses drove together to day with a view to fermilurize them to each other. those that were Cut yesterday are Stiff and Several of them much Swelled. we had all our baggage Secured and Covered with a rouf of Straw. our little fortification also completely Secured with brush around which our Camp is formed. the Greater part of our Security from the rains &c. is the grass which is formed in a kind of ruff So as to turn the rain Completely and is much the best tents we have. as the days are worm &c. we have a bowry made to write under which we find not only comfortable but necessary, to keep off the intence heet of the Sun which has great effect in this low bottom. on the high plains off the river the Climate is entirely different cool. Some Snow on the north hill Sides near the top and vegetation near 3 weeks later than in the river bottoms. and the rocky Mountains imedeately in view covered Several say 4 & 5 feet deep with Snow. here I behold three different Climats within a fiew miles a little before dark Hoh-hast-ill-pilt and the 3 old men & one other returned to our Camp and informed us the Canoe was a great way off and they could not cross this evening.