[Illustration: Cook and bear.]
John Muir and I, with two packers and three pack mules, spent a delightful three days in the Yosemite. The first night was clear, and we lay in the open on beds of soft fir boughs among the giant sequoias. It was like lying in a great and solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by hand of man. Just at nightfall I heard, among other birds, thrushes which I think were Rocky Mountain hermits—the appropriate choir for such a place of worship. Next day we went by trail through the woods, seeing some deer—which were not wild—as well as mountain quail and blue grouse. In the afternoon we struck snow, and had considerable difficulty in breaking our own trails. A snow storm came on toward evening, but we kept warm and comfortable in a grove of the splendid silver firs—rightly named magnificent, near the brink of the wonderful Yosemite Valley. Next day we clambered down into it and at nightfall camped in its bottom, facing the giant cliffs over which the waterfalls thundered.
Surely our people do not understand even yet the rich heritage that is theirs. There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, its groves of giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the three Tetons; and the representatives of the people should see to it that they are preserved for the people forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.
Among the many questions asked of the naturalist by an inquiring public, few come up more persistently than “What is the difference between a bison and a buffalo; and which is the American animal?”
The interest which so many people find in questions such as this must serve as a justification for the present paper, which proposes no more than to put into concise form what is known of the zoological relations of the animals which come within the special interest of the Boone and Crockett Club. In doing this, conclusions must, as a rule, be stated with few of the facts upon which they rest, for to give more than the plainest of these would be to far outrun the possible limits of space, and would furthermore lead into technical details which to most readers are obscure and wearisome.
[Illustration: Bull bison.]
Anyone who consults Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary will be illuminated by the definition of camelopard: “An Abyssinian animal taller than an elephant, but not so thick,” and even but a few years back all that was considered necessary to answer the question, “what is a bison?” was to state that it is a wild ox with a shaggy mane and a hump on its shoulders, and the thing was done; but in our own time a satisfactory answer must take account of its relationship to other beasts, for we have come to believe that