I had now hunted this entire range most thoroughly, and was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that there were not sufficient signs to warrant my remaining another month. I talked the matter over with my friend, and told him that if he cared to wait until the next monthly steamer we could combine our forces and start into a new country which we knew was good; but Blake did not want to delay his departure so long, and as he now decided to return to the coast, I made up my mind to go out with him, take the steamer to Seattle, and thence go to British Columbia, where I would finish my long hunt by a trip after Rocky Mountain sheep.
Shortly after this we broke camp and started back to Cook Inlet, which we reached October 2. A few days later the steamer arrived, and that same night I was on my way from Alaska.
Unfortunately, my hunting for the year was over, for on my arrival at Seattle I found that I had been too much pulled down by the hard work upon the hills to make it wise for me to go into British Columbia.
[Transcriber’s Note: Footnote numbered in the text, but no associated text.]
Jas. H. Kidder.
In 1901 the opportunity came to me to make a trip to the island which the Kadiak bear inhabits, and to become slightly acquainted with this largest of all carnivora. My companion was A. W. Merriam, of Milton, Mass.
We were under great obligations to Dr. C. Hart Merriam, of the Biological Survey, Washington, who, before we left home, gave us valuable information about the large game of Alaska. He told us of investigations which might prove of scientific value, and helped us to place our trip on a much broader base than a mere shooting expedition. One of the pleasantest features of such a trip was to see how freely information came in from all sides from those who could help in rounding out our work.
In order to find the Alaskan bears in their best pelage one must be on the ground in April, and this made it necessary for us to sail from Seattle April 1, on the Pacific Steam Whaling Company’s boat, Excelsior. Seattle proved a very good outfitting place, and before sailing we had safely stowed away below, in waterproof canvas bags, the provisions necessary to last us three months, in the most condensed and evaporated form.
Most of our fellow passengers were miners. One of them interested me particularly. He was a Finn, one of the pioneer white hunters in the Aleutian country, and his drawn face and stooping shoulders told the tale of trails too long and packs too heavy. I passed much time with him, and learned a good deal about the habits of the big, brown, barren bear, and his methods of fighting when hard pressed.
Our first Alaskan port was Hunter’s Bay, Prince of Wales Island, interesting because here is Clincon, one of the old settlements of the Haida Indians, famed for their wonderful totem poles, which tell in striking symbolic language the family histories of the tribe. There were many good faces among these people, and we asked ourselves and others the puzzling question, are they Aztecs, New Zealanders, or Japanese in origin? Among these people families with the same totem pole may not intermarry. An old man, the special wood carver of the tribe, does wonderful work.