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requisite before the driver can get the animal entirely under control: the results of such want of discipline may be understood from the ensuing account, written by one who had used the reindeer to bear him over the Lapland wastes :
“ The deer we had procured were as unmanageable and unruly as deer could well be, being none of them well broken in; and our first set off was by no means a pleasant one, as, after tumbling with the quickness of lightning down the steep bank of the river, the deer proceeded at full gallop across a very rough and broken country, with steep and slippery descents. quite impossible, from the nature of the ground, to prevent being rolled over in the sledge; and when this was the case, the strength and freshness of the deer, and the good order of the snow, which was very hard, made them regard very little the additional weight caused by the prostrate position of the sledge; so that they continued to follow, at full speed, the rest of the deer, leaving the unfortunate wight at their heels to find his balance again as well as he could. Notwithstanding that which had been harnessed to my pulk (sledge) was by no means a lamb iu quietness, I had good reason to congratulate.myself on having escaped the animal which one of the party had to his share, and which was a deer of the wild breed, that had been caught when young by the Laplanders. In size it was larger than the others, thinner, with more appearance of bone, and considerably stronger. With respect to any command over it, this was quite out of the question ; and it dragged pulk and driver along with the greatest ease wherever it pleased."
The reader may think this restiveness derogates somewhat from the value of the rein-deer, as the chance of being flung from the sledge, and left in the midst of a snow-drift, can present few attractions even for the Laplander; but this obstinacy is not a characteristic of the animal, which is rather remarkable for docility and obedience than for the least disposition to ill-temper.
The rein-deer's value has not all been estimated when its powers of transport have been described ; another use still remains, for nearly the whole food of the Laplanders, and of the surrounding nations, is drawn from the milk or flesh of the animal. Nor does this contribution to human wants end the sum of its benefits, clothing being also supplied to tens of thousands by the skins of this justly prized creature. Hence it is that the riches of a man in Lapland are estimated not by his acres, or gold, but by his deer; 'a thousand head raise a Laplander to the ranks of the aristocracy; but should his possessions not exceed fifty or a hundred he sinks into the “lower classes” in arctic society. With five hundred, a man holds his head up with a rich yeomanlike air, making from the milk a store of cheese for the delectation of his family, and furnishing, in the depth of winter, many a rich dish of venison from the flesh of the fatted animals.
What do these flocks feed upon in the winter, when naught but snow is seen far as the eye can reach? Of course in summer there can be no difficulty, for the Lapland herdsman has but to move from plain to plain according to the wants of his deer, which find, from June to September, an abundance of food, either from the herbage or from the tender leaves and branches of trees. But all such supplies fail when the shortening days and descending sun announce the approach of the long frost. Place a thousand of our Southdown sheep upon a Lapland hill in winter, what would these animals do for food ? the whole flock would perish, though the sheep is an active searcher for herbage, and not disposed to yield very soon to the severities of our winters. How often do they battle successfully with the rigours and storms of a Scottish or Cumberland winter, being often buried for days beneath huge snow-wreaths! But even these creatures would be vanquished by a Lapland winter. How then does the rein-deer subsist? Let us observe one of these animals turned out on a frozen plain, not a blade of grass, nor a green leaf is in sight; the case seems desperate, and the deer inust surely be on the verge of starvation. Look at the creature, how it keeps smelling at the hard snow as it walks, as if hoping to see but one shoot of herbage. Reader, the deer is quite satisfied with his lot, though the sight of vegetation does not enter his brain. But what is the animal sniffing at ? he has stopped over as freezy a cake of snow as a northern eye can expect to see. The deer knows his business, he is putting sundry important questions to something under that snow, and his gestures intimate that the answers are satisfactory. Mark the next proceeding; putting the hard nose to the ground, the deer begins to remove the snow from the surface, in the same manner as a boar works with his snout at the earth. When the first crust of snow has been broken through, the deer burrows with great rapidity at place, and at length we might see the
then tear up a mouthful of whitish moss, which is eaten with high gusto. This moss was detected by the keen powers of smelling possessed by the deer, which thus finds beneath the desolate snow a nourishing diet. This herbage is called by botanists the cladonia rangiferina, and grows both on the trunks of trees and on the surface of the ground. In summer its luxuriance in some places gives a peculiar appearance to the country, which then presents an abundant harvest of white lichens, alınost dazzling the eye, as the bright sun of summer pours a clear light over the Lapland plains. Upon this natural crop the rein-deer feeds both in summer and winter, procuring its supplies without trouble in the former season, and having to dig through the snow in the latter. There are two kinds of lichens eaten by the deer, one growing on trees, and abounding only in the wooded districts, which is black, and hangs from the branches in long strings. These depending filaments are eaten by the animals as they wander beneath the
trees in summer, when they love the shelter of the forests growing on the highlands. But the white lichen is the true rein-deer moss, which forms the principal food of the large herds through the year. Though the Laplander cannot be called much of a farmer, he nevertheless exercises all his skill to procure luxuriant crops of the moss, upon which not only his wealth, but existence itself must depend. For this purpose large forests are burned down in order to fertilise the soil with the ashes, the timber being of little value when compared with a rich harvest of deer's food. Long and anxiously does the Laplander watch the effect of such an operation, for the white lichen requires some years before it becomes luxuriant. But when the crop has been fully developed, the native is happy, and prizes his bit of moss-covered soil more than the English or Scottish farmer bis rich acres ; for the Laplander has but that one resource to depend upon.
Sometimes, however, a “bad winter" threatens the rein-deer with destruction. But what do those people, whose only riches consist of such animals, mean by a bad winter? Not one remarkable for mere snow, or cold, or tempests; these incidentals of winter do not in general disturb their equanimity. But suppose at the close of autumn that heavy rains deluge the country ; that before the waters can subside, a frost sets in, covering the whole level country with a thick sheet of ice ; what can the rein-deer do then ? To remove the snows from the lichen is easy, but the animal cannot pierce through the ice, when it lies, like a fatal door of adamant, shutting out the famishing creatures from their accustomed food. Then ruin descends upon the Laplander, who in vain tries to procure a sufficient supply of moss by cutting down the trees on which the lichens grow. This is insufficient; and thousands of deer then perish, leaving their owners to the horrors of famine in winter. Even if the store of cheese suffices to support the people for that season, years must elapse before the effects of such a visitation are repaired.
We must not forget that herds of wild rein-deer traverse the northern regions, and those the natives hunt with the greatest perseverance for the flesh, as they do not willingly kill any of their domesticated stock. Such huntings are, of course, free from danger, and yield little of the excitement attendant on the chase of the tiger or the bear. No little experience is, however, required in the deer-hunt, as the native must get within bow-shot, or at the best gun-shot, without alarming the game, and this would puzzle many of our proudest deer-stalkers to effect, especially in a level country:
The metliod adopted by some of the Indian tribes to capture these creatures is thus described by Captain Franklin :
“The hunters go in pairs, the foremost man carrying in one hand the horns and part of the skin of the head of a deer, and in the other a sinall bundle of twigs, against which he, from time to time, rubs the horns, imitating the gestures peculiar to the animal. His comrade follows, treading exactly in his footsteps, and holding the guns of both in á horizontal position, so that the muzzles project under the arms of him who carries the head. Both hunters have a fillet of white skin round their foreheads, and the foremost has a strip of the same round his wrist. They approach the herd by degrees, raising their legs very slowly, but setting them down somewhat suddenly, after the manner of a deer, and always taking care to lift their right or left feet simultaneously. If
any of the herd leave off feeding to gaze upon this extraordinary phenomenon, it instantly stops, and the head begins to play its part by licking its shoulders, and performing other necessary movements. In this way the hunters attain the very centre of the herd without exciting suspicion, and have leisure to single out the fattest. The hindmost man then pushes forward his comrade's gun, the head is dropped, and they both fire nearly at the same instant."
These hunters used fire-arms; let us now see how the ruder tribes manage, having no weapon save the bow.
“When feeding on the level ground, an Esquimaux makes no attempt to approach the deer; but should a few rocks be near, the wary hunter feels secure of his prey: Behind one of these he cautiously creeps, and having laid himself very close, with his bow and arrow before him, imitates the bellow of the deer when calling to each other. Sometimes, for more complete deception, the hunter wears his deer-skin coat and hood so drawn over his head, as to resemble in a great measure the unsuspecting animals he is enticing. Though the bellow proves a considerable attraction, yet, if a man has great patience, he may do without it, and may
be equally certain that his prey will ultimately come to examine him ; the rein-deer being an inquisitive animal, and at the same time so silly, that if he sees any suspicious object which is not actually chasing him, he will gradually approach nearer and nearer to it. The Esquimaux rarely shoot until the creature is within twelve paces, and I have frequently been told of their being killed at a inuch shorter distance. It is to be observed that the hunters never appear openly, but employ stratagem for their purpose ; thus, by patience and ingenuity, rendering their rudelyformed bows, and still worse arrows, as effective as the rifles of Europeans. When two men hunt in company, they sometimes purposely shew themselves to the deer, and when his attention is fully engaged, walk slowly away from him, one before the other. The deer follows; and when the hunters arrive near a rock, the foremost drops behind it and prepares his bow, while his companion continues walking steadily forward. This latter, the deer still follows unsuspectingly, and thus passes near the concealed man, who takes a deliberate aim, and kills the animal.”
Great destruction sometimes falls upon the herds of rein-deer from a peculiar pestilence which carries off vast multitudes of these animals. But the most destructive effect is produced by a small insect, the sting of which drives the deer mad; and whole herds rapidly fall beneath the attack of this Lilliputian foe. So pernicious are the assaults of the insects, that the deer are compelled to abandon the forests during the summer season, when the mountain regions give shelter to the persecuted animals. Thus it will be seen that the Laplander does not enjoy that indolence and ease which some deem the lot of savage tribes; for, though exempt from the many cares which fall upon the civilised farmer, he has, nevertheless, to encounter the trials connected with the sustenance of the rein-deer: now wandering on the plains where the whitening lichen spreads over the surface, at other times traversing the wild forests, and migrating from desert to desert, he encounters many perils during his rude life. Thus, whatever romance travellers may throw around the rein-deer, the Laplander has little experience of the joys which, in the distance, seems to surround his arctic life with stirring events. Probably, however, the proprietor of a rein-deer herd has his days of happiness, and finds in his rude plains a degree of enjoyment of which we have little apprehension.
In conclusion, we may remark, that some have attempted to naturalise the rein-deer in Britain, especially in Scotland, in the northern parts of which it was expected the animal would find a climate adapted to its nature. Large herds were accordingly turned out upon the Pentland hills, and in other parts of North Britain ; but all these perished from some causes not fully understood. As far as food is concerned, a sufficiency might easily have been found, for the rein-deer moss itself grows in many districts of Scotland, nor is it entirely wanting in England. But these deer are not confined to such food, being able to subsist on even dry vegetables, in the same manner as our cattle. We need not regret that the attempt to give this foreign quadruped a footing in this island has failed; for of what use could the animal have been amongst us, with our macadamised roads and enclosed country? Our diversified breeds of horses are necessarily more useful than all the rein-deer upon the face of the earth. As for food, the flesh of the Lapland animal would prove a poor substitute for our beef and mutton, which would no doubt long hold their ground against the invasion of all foreign flesh. The wandering habits of these deer are also opposed to their location in a thickly peopled country, for periodical migrations seem necessary to these animals. Now this tendency is innocent enough in Lapland, but would be attended with bad results in a cultivated district, where every creature must be taught to respect fences and venerate enclosures.
Here this notice of the rein-deer must end, in order to have space for a few remarks on