Human Predatory Pattern

Killing animals larger in weight than humans - a rare occurrence for carnivores. Generally means hunting mammoths and other large fat megafauna.

Human Predatory Pattern

Recent History

July 22, 1770

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

GreatWhiteOncomingSquare.jpg

Hearne's group of Indians hunt musk-oxen and turn it into pemmican for traveling. The pemmican is made by pounding the lean meat and then adding boiled fat. When there was plenty to hunt, they would harvest only the tongues, marrow, and fat.

On the seventeenth, we saw many musk-oxen, several of which the Indians killed; when we agreed to stay here a day or two, to dry and pound some of the carcases to take with us. The flesh of any animal, when it is thus prepared, is not only hearty food, but is always ready for use, and at the same time very portable. In most parts of Hudson's Bay it is known by the name of Thew-hagon, but amongst the Northern Indians it is called Achees.

-- July 22 1770.


To prepare meat in this manner, it requires no farther operation than cutting the lean parts of the animal into thin slices, and drying it in the sun, or by a slow fire, till, after beating it between two stones, it is reduced to a coarse powder.


Théwhagon or Yéwuhikun is the Cree name for meat dried and beaten as above, and it is generally known throughout the fur countries as "pounded meat." When fat is plentiful this shredded dry meat is often packed into a sack made of hide, and boiling fat is poured over and into it. This mixture of dried meat and grease is called pemican.


Having prepared as much dried flesh as we could transport, we proceeded to the Northward; and at our departure left a great quantity of meat behind us, which we could neither eat nor carry away. This was not the first time we had so done; and however wasteful it may appear, it is a practice so common among all the Indian tribes, as to be thought nothing of. On the twenty-second, we met several strangers, whom we joined in pursuit of the deer, &c. which were at this time so plentiful, that we got every day a sufficient number for our support, and indeed too frequently killed several merely for the tongues, marrow, and fat.

-- August 30 1770. 


After we had been some time in company with those Indians, I found that my guide seemed to hesitate about proceeding any farther; and that he kept pitching his tent backward and forward, from place to place, after the deer, and the rest of the Indians. On my asking him his reason for so doing; he answered, that as the year was too far advanced to admit of our arrival at the Coppermine River that Summer, he thought it more advisable to pass the Winter with some of the Indians then in company, and alleged that there could be no fear of our arriving at that river early in the Summer of one thousand seven hundred and seventy-one. As I could not pretend to contradict him, I was entirely reconciled to his proposal; and accordingly we kept moving to the Westward with the other Indians. In a few days, many others joined us from different quarters; so that by the thirtieth of July we had in all above seventy tents, which did not contain less than six hundred persons. Indeed our encampment at night had the appearance of a small town; and in the morning, when we began to move, the whole ground (at least for a large space all round) seemed to be alive, with men, women, children, and dogs. Though the land was entirely barren, and destitute of every kind of herbage, except wish-a-capucca and moss, yet the deer were so numerous that the Indians not only killed as many as were sufficient for our large number, but often several merely for the skins, marrow, &c. and left the carcases to rot, or to be devoured by the wolves, foxes, and other beasts of prey.

July 7, 1771

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

GreatWhiteOncomingSquare.jpg

Hearne's expedition hunts some musk-ox and he describes their habits and the taste of their flesh. They avoid eating lean animals, and one day they kill 1,770 animals demonstrating how easy it is to hunt them.

On the seventh, we had a fresh breeze at North West, with some flying showers of small rain, and at the same time a constant warm sunshine, which soon dissolved the greatest part of the new-fallen snow. Early in the morning we crawled out of our holes, which were on the North side of the Stony Mountains, and walked about eighteen or twenty miles to the North West by West. In our way we crossed part of a large lake on the ice, which was then far from being broken up. This lake I distinguished by the name of Buffalo, or Musk-Ox Lake, from the number of those animals that we found grazing on the margin of it; many of which the Indians killed, but finding them lean, only took some of the bulls' hides for shoe-soals. At night the bad weather returned, with a strong gale of wind at North East, and very cold rain and sleet.


This was the first time we had seen any of the musk-oxen since we left the Factory. It has been observed that we saw a great number of them in my first unsuccessful attempt, before I had got an hundred miles from the Factory; and indeed I once perceived the tracks of two of those animals within nine miles of Prince of Wales's Fort. Great numbers of them also were met with in my second journey to the North: several of which my companions killed, particularly on the seventeenth of July one thousand seven hundred and seventy. They are also found at times in considerable numbers near the sea-coast of Hudson's Bay, all the way from Knapp's Bay to Wager Water, but are most plentiful within the Arctic Circle. In those high latitudes I have frequently seen many herds of them in the course of a day's walk, and some of those herds did not contain less than eighty or an hundred head. The number of bulls is very few in proportion to the cows; for it is rare to see more than two or three full-grown bulls with the largest herd: and from the number of the males that are found dead, the Indians are of opinion that they kill each other in contending for the females. In the rutting season they are so jealous of the cows, that they run at either man or beast who offers to approach them; and have been observed to run and bellow even at ravens, and other large birds, which chanced to light near them. They delight in the most stony and mountainous parts of the barren ground, and are seldom found at any great distance from the woods. Though they are a beast of great magnitude, and apparently of a very unwieldy inactive structure, yet they climb the rocks with great ease and agility, and are nearly as sure-footed as a goat: like it too, they will feed on any thing; though they seem fondest of grass, yet in Winter, when that article cannot be had in sufficient quantity, they will eat moss, or any other herbage they can find, as also the tops of willows and the tender branches of the pine tree. They take the bull in August, and bring forth their young the latter end of May, or beginning of June; and they never have more than one at a time.


 The musk-ox, when full grown, is as large as the generality, or at least as the middling size, of English black cattle;[AJ] but their legs, though large, are not so long; nor is their tail longer than that of a bear; and, like the tail of that animal, it always bends downward and inward, so that it is entirely hid by the long hair of the rump and hind quarters: the hunch on their shoulders is not large, being little more in proportion than that of a deer: their hair is in some parts very long, particularly on the belly, sides, and hind quarters; but the longest hair about them, particularly the bulls, is under the throat, extending from the chin to the lower part of the chest, between the fore-legs; it there hangs down like a horse's mane inverted, and is full as long, which makes the animal have a most formidable appearance. It is of the hair from this part that the Esquimaux make their musketto wigs, and not from the tail, as is asserted by Mr. Ellis; their tails, and the hair which is on them, being too short for that purpose. In Winter they are provided with a thick fine wool, or furr, that grows at the root of the long hair, and shields them from the intense cold to which they are exposed during that season; but as the Summer advances, this furr loosens from the skin, and, by frequently rolling themselves on the ground, it works out to the end of the hair, and in time drops off, leaving little for their Summer clothing except the long hair. The season is so short in those high latitudes, that the new fleece begins to appear, almost as soon as the old one drops off; so that by the time the cold becomes severe, they are again provided with a Winter-dress.


The flesh of the musk-ox noways resembles that of the Western buffalo, but is more like that of the moose or elk; and the fat is of a clear white, slightly tinged with a light azure. The calves and young heifers are good eating; but the flesh of the bulls both smells and tastes so strong of musk, as to render it very disagreeable: even the knife that cuts the flesh of an old bull will smell so strong of musk, that nothing but scouring the blade quite bright can remove it, and the handle will retain the scent for a long time. Though no part of a bull is free from this smell, yet the parts of generation, in particular the urethra, are by far the most strongly impregnated. The urine itself must contain the scent in a very great degree; for the sheaths of the bull's penis are corroded with a brown gummy substance, which is nearly as high-scented with musk as that said to be produced by the civet cat; and after having been kept for several years, seems not to lose any of its quality.

December 24, 1771

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

GreatWhiteOncomingSquare.jpg

Hearne attests to the quality of the flesh of the Northern deer: "I can affirm this from my own experience; for after living on it entirely, as it may be said, for twelve or eighteen months successively, I scarcely ever wished for a change of food; though when fish or fowl came in my way, it was very agreeable."

Having dried as many fish and fish-roes as we could conveniently take with us, we once more packed up our stores, and, on the first day of December, set out, and continued our course to the South West, leaving Anaw'd Lake on the South West. Several of the Indians being out of order, we made but short days journies.

From the first to the thirteenth, we walked along a course of small lakes, joined to each other by small rivers, or creeks, that have communication with Anaw'd Lake.

In our way we caught daily a few fish by angling, and saw many beaver houses; but these were generally in so difficult a situation, and had so many stones in the composition of them, that the Indians killed but few, and that at a great expence of labour and tools.

13th.

On the thirteenth, one of the Indians killed two deer, which were the first that we had seen since the twentieth of October. So that during a period of near two months, we had lived on the dried meat that we had prepared at Point Lake, and a few fish; of which the latter was not very considerable in quantity, except what was caught at Anaw'd Lake. It is true, we also caught a few rabbits, and at times the wood-partridges were so plentiful, that the Indians killed considerable numbers of them with their bows and arrows; but the number of mouths was so great, that all which was caught from our leaving Point Lake, though if enumerated, they might appear very considerable, would not have afforded us all a bare subsistence; for though I and some others experienced no real want, yet there were many in our company who could scarcely be said to live, and would not have existed at all, had it not been for the dry meat we had with us.

-- Dec 24th 1771.

When we left the above-mentioned lakes we shaped a course more to the Southward, and on the twenty-fourth, arrived at the North side of the great Athapuscow Lake. In our way we saw many Indian deer, and beaver were very plentiful, many of which the Indians killed; but the days were so short, that the Sun only took a circuit of a few points of the compass above the horizon, and did not, at its greatest altitude, rise half-way up the trees. The brilliancy of the Aurora Borealis, however, and of the Stars, even without the assistance of the Moon, made some amends for that deficiency; for it was frequently so light all night, that I could see to read a very small print. The Indians make no difference between night and day when they are hunting of beaver; but those nocturnal lights are always found insufficient for the purpose of hunting deer or moose.


Indian deer (the only species found in those parts, except the moose) are so much larger than those which frequent the barren grounds to the North of Churchill River, that a small doe is equal in size to a Northern buck. The hair of the former is of a sandy red during the Winter; and their horns, though much stronger, are not so long and branchy as are those of the latter kind. Neither is the flesh of those deer so much esteemed by the Northern Indians, as that of the smaller kind, which inhabit the more Eastern and Northern parts of the country. Indeed, it must be allowed to be much coarser, and of a different flavour; inasmuch as the large Lincolnshire mutton differs from grass lamb. I must acknowledge, however, that I always thought it very good. This is that species of deer which are found so plentiful near York Fort and Severn River. They are also at times found in considerable numbers near Churchill River; and I have seen them killed as far North, near the sea-side, as Seal River: But the small Northern Indian deer are seldom known to cross Churchill River, except in some very extraordinary cold seasons, and when the Northern winds have prevailed much in the preceding fall; for those visits are always made in the Winter. But though I own that the flesh of the large Southern deer is very good, I must at the same time confess that the flesh of the small Northern deer, whether buck or doe, in their proper season, is by far more delicious and the finest I have ever eaten, either in this country or any other; and is of that peculiar quality, that it never cloys. I can affirm this from my own experience; for after living on it entirely, as it may be said, for twelve or eighteen months successively, I scarcely ever wished for a change of food; though when fish or fowl came in my way, it was very agreeable.

January 9, 1772

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

GreatWhiteOncomingSquare.jpg

The flesh of the buffalo is exceedingly good eating; and so entirely free from any disagreeable smell or taste, that it resembles beef as nearly as possible

The lake is stored with great quantities of very fine fish; particularly between the islands, which in some parts are so close to each other as to form very narrow channels, like little rivers, in which I found (when angling for fish) a considerable current setting to the Eastward.

The fish that are common in this lake, as well as in most of the other lakes in this country, are pike, trout, perch, barble, tittameg, and methy; the two last are names given by the natives to two species of fish which are found only in this country. Besides these, we also caught another kind of fish, which is said by the Northern Indians to be peculiar to this lake; at least none of the same kind have been met with in any other. The body of this fish much resembles a pike in shape; but the scales, which are very large and stiff, are of a beautifully bright silver colour; the mouth is large, and situated like that of a pike; but when open, much resembles that of a sturgeon; and though not provided with any teeth, takes a bait as ravenously as a pike or a trout. The sizes we caught were from two feet long to four feet. Their flesh, though delicately white, is very soft, and has so rank a taste, that many of the Indians, except they are in absolute want, will not eat it. The Northern Indians call this fish Shees. The trout in this lake are of the largest size I ever saw; some that were caught by my companions could not, I think, be less than thirty-five or forty pounds weight. Pike are also of an incredible size in this extensive water; here they are seldom molested, and have multitudes of smaller fish to prey upon. If I say that I have seen some of these fish that were upwards of forty pounds weight, I am sure I do not exceed the truth.

1772. January.


Buffalo, moose, and beaver were very plentiful; and we could discover, in many parts through which we passed, the tracks of martins, foxes, quiquehatches(wolverines), and other animals of the furr kind: so that they were by no means scarce: but my companions never gave themselves the least trouble to catch any of the three last mentioned animals; for the buffalo, moose, and beaver engaged all their attention; perhaps principally so on account of the excellency of their flesh; whereas the flesh of the fox and quiquehatch are never eaten by those people, except when they are in the greatest distress, and then merely to save life. Their reasons for this shall be given in a subsequent part of my Journal.

1772. January.

The buffalo in those parts, I think, are in general much larger than the English black cattle; particularly the bulls, which, though they may not in reality be taller than the largest size of the English oxen, yet to me always appeared to be much larger. In fact, they are so heavy, that when six or eight Indians are in company at the skinning of a large bull, they never attempt to turn it over while entire, but when the upper side is skinned, they cut off the leg and shoulder, rip up the belly, take out all the intestines, cut off the head, and make it as light as possible, before they turn it to skin the under side. The skin is in some places of an incredible thickness, particularly about the neck, where it often exceeds an inch. The horns are short, black, and almost straight, but very thick at the roots or base.


The head of an old bull is of a great size and weight indeed: some which I have seen were so large, that I could not without difficulty lift them from the ground; but the heads of the cows are much smaller. Their tails are, in general, about a foot long, though some appear to be, exclusive of the long brush of hair at the end, longer. The hair on the tails of the bulls is generally of a fine glossy black; but the brush at the end of the cows' tails is always of a rusty brown, probably owing to being stained with their urine.

The hair of the body is soft and curled, somewhat approaching to wool; it is generally of a sandy brown, and of an equal length and thickness all over the body: but on the head and neck it is much longer than it is on any other part.

1772. January.

The Indians, after reducing all the parts of the skin to an equal thickness by scraping, dress them in the hair for clothing; when they are light, soft, warm, and durable. They also dress some of those skins into leather without the hair, of which they make tents and shoes; but the grain is remarkably open and spungy, by no means equal in goodness to that of the skin of the moose: nor am I certain that the curriers or tanners in Europe could manufacture these skins in such a manner as to render them of any considerable value; for, to appearance, they are of the same quality with the skins of the musk-ox, which are held in so little estimation in England, that when a number of them was sent home from Churchill Factory, the Company issued out orders the year following, that unless they could be purchased from the Indians at the rate of four skins for one beaver, they would not answer the expence of sending home; a great proof of their being of very little value.


1772. January.

The buffalos chiefly delight in wide open plains, which in those parts produce very long coarse grass, or rather a kind of small flags and rushes, upon which they feed; but when pursued they always take to the woods. They are of such an amazing strength, that when they fly through the woods from a pursuer, they frequently brush down trees as thick as a man's arm; and be the snow ever so deep, such is their strength and agility that they are enabled to plunge through it faster than the swiftest Indian can run in snow-shoes. To this I have been an eye-witness many times, and once had the vanity to think that I could have kept pace with them; but though I was at that time celebrated for being particularly fleet of foot in snow-shoes, I soon found that I was no match for the buffalos, notwithstanding they were then plunging through such deep snow, that their bellies made a trench in it as large as if many heavy sacks had been hauled through it. Of all the large beasts in those parts the buffalo is easiest to kill, and the moose are the most difficult; neither are the deer very easy to come at, except in windy weather: indeed it requires much practice, and a great deal of patience, to slay any of them, as they will by no means suffer a direct approach, unless the hunter be entirely sheltered by woods or willows. The flesh of the buffalo is exceedingly good eating; and so entirely free from any disagreeable smell or taste, that it resembles beef as nearly as possible: the flesh of the cows, when some time gone with calf, is esteemed the finest; and the young calves, cut out of their bellies, are reckoned a great delicacy indeed. The hunch on their backs, or more properly on their shoulders, is not a large fleshy lump, as some suppose, but is occasioned by the bones that form the withers being continued to a greater length than in most other animals. The flesh which surrounds this part being so equally intermixed with fat and lean, is reckoned among the nicest bits. The weight, however, is by no means equal to what has been commonly reported. The tongue is also very delicate; and what is most extraordinary, when the beasts are in the poorest state, which happens regularly at certain seasons, their tongues are then very fat and fine; some say, fatter than when they are in the best order; the truth of which, I will not confirm. They are so esteemed here, however, that many of them are brought down to the Company's Factory at York as presents, and are esteemed a great luxury, probably for no other reason but that they are far-fetched; for they are by no means so large, and I think them not so fine, as a neat's tongue in England.


The moose deer is also a large beast, often exceeding the largest horse both in height and bulk; but the length of the legs, the bulk of the body, the shortness of the neck, {255} and the uncommon length of the head and ears, without any appearance of a tail, make them have a very awkward appearance. The males far exceed the females in size, and differ from them in colour. The hair of the male, which is long, hollow, and soft, like that of a deer, is at the points nearly black, but a little way under the surface it is of an ash colour, and at the roots perfectly white. The hair of the female is of a sandy brown, and in some parts, particularly under the throat, the belly, and the flank, is nearly white at the surface, and most delicately so at the root.

1772. January.

Their legs are so long, and their necks so short, that they cannot graze on level ground like other animals, but are obliged to brouze on the tops of large plants and the leaves of trees during the Summer; and in Winter they always feed on the tops of willows, and the small branches of the birch-tree; on which account they are never found during that season but in such places as can afford them a plentiful supply of their favourite food: and though they have no fore-teeth in the upper-jaw, yet I have often seen willows and small birch-trees cropped by them, in the same manner as if they had been cut by a gardener's sheers, though some of them were not smaller than common pipe-stems; they seem particularly partial to the red willow.

In Summer they are generally found to frequent the banks of rivers and lakes, probably with no other view than to have the benefit of getting into the water, to avoid the innumerable multitudes of muskettos and other flies that pester them exceedingly during that season. There is also a variety of water-plants, of which the moose are very fond, and which are adapted to their necessities in a peculiar manner during the Summer season, as they can easily brouze on them when nearly emerged in water, to avoid the torment of the flies.

1772. January.

The head of the moose is, as I have observed, remarkably long and large, not very unlike that of a horse; but the nose and nostrils are at least twice as large. The ears are about a foot long, and large; and they always stand erect. Their faculty of hearing is supposed to be more acute than either their sight or scent; which makes it very difficult to kill them, especially as the Indians in those parts have no other method of doing it but by creeping after them, among the trees and bushes, till they get within gun-shot; taking care always to keep to leeward of the moose, for fear of being overheard. In Summer, when they frequent the margins of rivers and lakes, they are often killed by the Indians in the water, while they are crossing rivers, or swimming from the main to islands, &c. When pursued in this manner, they are the most inoffensive of all animals, never making any resistance; and the young ones are so simple, that I remember to have seen an Indian paddle his canoe up to one of them, and take it by the poll without the least opposition: the poor harmless animal seeming at the same time as contented along-side the canoe, as if swimming by the side of its dam, and looking up in our faces with the same fearless innocence that a house-lamb would, making use of its fore-foot almost every instant to clear its eyes of muskettos, which at that time were remarkably numerous.

I have also seen women and boys kill the old moose in this situation, by knocking them on the head with a hatchet; and in the Summer of one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, when I was on my passage from Cumberland House to York Fort, two boys killed a fine buck moose in the water, by forcing a stick up its fundament; for they had neither gun, bow, nor arrows with them. The common deer are far more dangerous to approach in canoes, as they kick up their hind legs with such violence as to endanger any birch-rind canoe that comes within their reach; for which reason all the Indians who kill deer upon the water are provided with a long stick that will reach far beyond the head of the canoe.

The moose are also the easiest to tame and domesticate of any of the deer kind. I have repeatedly seen them at Churchill as tame as sheep, and even more so; for they {258} would follow their keeper any distance from home, and at his call return with him, without the least trouble, or ever offering to deviate from the path.


1772. January.

The flesh of the moose is very good, though the grain is but coarse, and it is much tougher than any other kind of venison. The nose is most excellent, as is also the tongue, though by no means so fat and delicate as that of the common deer. It is perhaps worth remarking, that the livers of the moose are never found, not even at any time of the year; and, like the other deer, they have no gall. The fat of the intestines is hard, like suet; but all the external fat is soft, like that of a breast of mutton, and when put into a bladder, is as fine as marrow. In this they differ from all the other species of deer, of which the external fat is as hard as that of the kidnies.

The moose in all their actions and attitudes appear very uncouth, and when disturbed, never run, only make a kind of trot, which the length of their legs enables them to do with great swiftness, and apparently with much ease; but were the country they inhabit free from under-wood, and dry underfoot, so that horsemen and dogs might follow them, they would become an easy prey, as they are both tender-footed and short-winded: But of this more hereafter.

1772. January.


The skins of the moose, when dressed by the natives, make excellent tent-covers and shoe-leather; and in fact every other part of their clothing. These, like the skins of the buffalo, are of very unequal thickness. Some of the Indian women, who are acquainted with the manufacture of them, will, by means of scraping, render them as even as a piece of thick cloth, and when well dressed they are very soft; but not being dressed in oil, they always grow hard after being wet, unless great care be taken to keep rubbing them all the time they are drying. The same may be said of all the Indian-dressed leather, except that of the wewaskish, which will wash as well as shammoy-leather, and always preserve its softness.

 The female moose never have any horns, but the males have them of a prodigious size and weight, and very different in shape from those of the common deer. The extremity of each horn is palmated to the size of a common shovel, from which a few short branches shoot out; and the shaft of the horn is frequently as large as a common man's wrist. They shed them annually like the common deer. The horns of the moose are frequently found to exceed sixty pounds weight; and their texture, though of a large size and of such rapid growth, is much harder than any other species of deer-horns in those parts.

Though the flesh of the moose is esteemed by most Indians both for its flavour and substance, yet the Northern Indians of my crew did not reckon either it or the flesh of the buffalo substantial food. This I should think entirely proceeded from prejudice, especially with respect to the moose; but the flesh of the buffalo, though so fine to the eye, and pleasing to the taste, is so light and easy of digestion, as not to be deemed substantial food by any Indian in this country, either Northern or Southern. The moose have from one to three young at a time, and generally bring them forth in the latter end of April, or beginning of May.

October 10, 1834

Osborne Russell

Journal of a Trapper

GreatWhiteOncomingSquare.jpg

Native Americans provide trappers a gift "loaded with as much fat dried Buffaloe meat as our horses could carry which had been given as a gratuity" and then commence trading with them at a fort. The incredible value of fatty red meat is shown once more.

He said the Village would go to the Fort in three or four days to trade. We left them next morning loaded with as much fat dried Buffaloe meat as our horses could carry which had been given as a gratuity: we were accompanied on our return to the Fort by six of the men. On the 10th the Village arrived and pitched their Lodges within about 200 yards of the Fort. I now commenced learning the Snake Language and progressed so far in a short time that I was able to understand most of their words employed in matters of trade. Octr 20th a Village of Bonnaks consisting of 250 Lodges arrived at the Fort from these we traded a considerable quantity of furs, a large supply of dried meat, Deer, Elk and Sheep skins etc. - In the meantime we were employed building small log houses and making other nessary preparations for the approaching winter

Ancient History

Books

Chasing Antelopes

Published:

October 25, 2017

Chasing Antelopes

Facultative Carnivore

Published:

January 1, 2020

Facultative Carnivore