Wild Animals at Home
By Ernest Thompson Seton
9 Nov, 2018
FORWARD......My travels in search of light on the "Animals at Home" have taken me up and down the Rocky Mountains for nearly thirty years. In the canyons from British Columbia to Mexico, I have lighted my campfire, far beyond the bounds of law and or
... Read more
FORWARD......My travels in search of light on the "Animals at Home" have taken me up and down the Rocky Mountains for nearly thirty years. In the canyons from British Columbia to Mexico, I have lighted my campfire, far beyond the bounds of law and order, at times, and yet I have found no place more rewarding than the Yellowstone Park, the great mountain haven of wild life.
Whenever travellers penetrate into remote regions where human hunters are unknown, they find the wild things half tame, little afraid of man, and inclined to stare curiously from a distance of a few paces. But very soon they learn that man is their most dangerous enemy, and fly from him as soon as he is seen. It takes a long time and much restraint to win back their confidence.
In the early days of the West, when game abounded and when fifty yards was the extreme deadly range of the hunter's weapons, wild creatures were comparatively tame. The advent of the rifle and of the lawless skin hunter soon turned all big game into fugitives of excessive shyness and wariness. One glimpse of a man half a mile off, or a whiff of him on the breeze, was enough to make a Mountain Ram or a Wolf run for miles, though formerly these creatures would have gazed serenely from a point but a hundred yards removed.
The establishment of the Yellowstone Park in 1872 was the beginning of a new era of protection for wild life; and, by slow degrees, a different attitude in these animals toward us. In this Reservation, and nowhere else at present in the northwest, the wild things are not only abundant, but they have resumed their traditional Garden-of-Eden attitude toward man.
They come out in the daylight, they are harmless, and they are not afraid at one's approach. Truly this is ideal, a paradise for the naturalist and the camera hunter.
The region first won fame for its Canyon, its Cataracts and its Geysers, but I think its animal life has attracted more travellers than even the landscape beauties. I know it was solely the joy of being among the animals that led me to spend all one summer and part of another season in the Wonderland of the West.
My adventures in making these studies among the fourfoots have been very small adventures indeed; the thrillers are few and far between. Any one can go and have the same or better experiences to-day. But I give them as they happened, and if they furnish no ground for hair-lifting emotions, they will at least show what I was after and how I went.
I have aimed to show something of the little aspects of the creatures' lives, which are those that the ordinary traveller will see; I go with him indeed, pointing out my friends as they chance to pass, adding a few comments that should make for a better acquaintance on all sides. And I have offered glimpses, wherever possible, of the wild thing in its home, embodying in these chapters the substance of many lectures given under the same title as this book.
The cover design is by my wife, Grace Gallatin Seton. She was with me in most of the experiences narrated and had a larger share in every part of the work than might be inferred from the mere text. Less