The southerly slopes leading down from the divide to the lower altitudes along the Black River and the breaks of the Blue, are sheltered from the cold northerly winds of the Little Colorado Valley, while the greater natural warmth of the situation aids in preventing any serious accumulation of snow. As a result, this entire portion of the reserve forms an ideal winter game range, with an abundance of grass and edible bushes. The varied character of the country about the head of Black River makes it an equally favorable summer range for game, and that this conjunction of summer and winter ranges is appreciated by the game animals is shown by the fact that this district is probably the best game country in all Arizona.
The large game found in this section of the reserve includes the elk, black-tailed deer, Arizona white-tailed deer, black and silver-tipped bears, mountain lions and wildcats, timber wolves and coyotes.
Elk were formerly found over most of the pine and fir forested parts of this section of the reserve, but were already becoming rather scarce in 1885, and, although they were still found there in 1897, it is now a question whether any survive or not. If they still survive, they are restricted to a limited area about the head of Black River from Ord Peak to the Prieto Plateau. Black-tailed deer are still common, and their summer range extends more or less generally over all of the forested part of this section above 7,500 feet. In winter only a few stray individuals remain within the reserve on the Little Colorado side, but a number range out into the pinon country on the plains of the Little Colorado. The country about the head of Black River is a favorite summer range of this deer, but in winter they gradually retreat before the heavy snowfalls to the sheltered canyons along Black River and the breaks of the Blue. In September and October the old males keep by themselves in parties of from four to ten and range through the glades of the yellow pine forest.
The Arizona white-tailed deer is not found on the part of the reserve drained by the Little Colorado River, but is abundant in the basin of Blue River, and ranges in summer up into the lower part of the yellow pine forest along Black River. They retreat before the early snows to the breaks of the Blue, where they are very numerous. During hunting trips into their haunts in October and November, I have several times seen herds of these deer numbering from thirty to forty, both before and after the first snowfall. Antelope formerly ranged up in summer from the plains of the Little Colorado over the grassy Big Mesa country and through the surrounding open pine forest, retreating to the plains in the autumn, but they are now nearly or quite exterminated in that section. Bears of both species wander irregularly over most of the reserve in summer, but are most numerous on the breaks of the Blue and about the head of Black River. In autumn, previous to their hibernation, they descend along the canyon of the Black River and among the breaks of the Blue, where acorns and other food is abundant.