I caught the boat about a week later, after a few pleasant days with Kidder and Blake, who had turned up at Wood Island, after a very successful hunt on the mainland.
A word in regard to the Kadiak bear. Dr. Merriam has proved that he is distinct from other bear. That he ever reached 2,000 pounds is doubtful in my mind, but, by comparing measurements of skins, we can be sure he comes up to 1,200, or a little over. Whether the Kadiak bear is bigger than the big brown bear of the mainland is doubtful. At present the growth of these bears is badly interfered with by the natives, and they rarely reach the old bear age, when these brutes become massive in their bony structure, and accumulate a vast amount of fat, just before denning up.
W. Lord Smith.
The mountain sheep is, in my estimation, the finest of all our American big game. Many men have killed it and sheep heads are trophies almost as common as moose heads, and yet among those who have hunted it most and know it best, but little is really understood as to the life of the mountain sheep, and many erroneous ideas prevail with regard to it. It is generally supposed to be an animal found only among the tops of the loftiest and most rugged mountains, and never to be seen on the lower ground, and there are still people interested in big game who now and then ask one confidentially whether there really is anything in the story that the sheep throw themselves down from great heights, and, striking on their horns, rebound to their feet without injury.
Each one of us individually knows but little about the mountain sheep, yet each who has hunted them has observed something of their ways, and each can contribute some share to an accumulation of facts which some time may be of assistance to the naturalist who shall write the life history of this noble species. But unless that naturalist has already been in the field and has there gathered much material, he is likely to be hard put to it when the time comes for his story to be written, since then there may be no mountain sheep to observe or to write of. The sheep is not likely to be so happy in its biographer as was the buffalo, for Dr. Allen’s monograph on the American bison is a classic among North American natural history works.
The mountain sheep is an inhabitant of western America, and the books tell us that it inhabits the Rocky Mountains from southern California to Alaska. This is sufficiently vague, and I shall endeavor a little further on to indicate a few places where this species may still be found, though even so I am unable to assign their ranges to the various forms that have been described.