Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/586

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522
AUDUBON

groups of from fifty to two hundred, and their movements are as regular as those of a flock of White Pelicans, so that if the oldest Elk starts in any one direction, all the rest follow at once in his tracks. Where he stops, they all stop, and at times all will suddenly pause, range themselves as if a company of dragoons, ready to charge upon the enemy; which, however, they seldom if ever attempt. After dinner Mr. Illingsworth told me he would go and shoot a Buffalo calf for me—we will see. Bell, Harris, Squires, and myself went off to shoot some Prairie-dogs, as the Arctomys ludovicianus is called. After walking over the hills for about one mile, we came to the "village," and soon after heard their cries but not their barkings. The sound they make is simply a "chip, chip, chip," long and shrill enough, and at every cry the animal jerks its tail, without however erecting it upright, as I have seen them represented. Their holes are not perpendicular, but oblique, at an angle of about forty degrees, after which they seem to deviate; but whether sideways or upwards, I cannot yet say. I shot at two of them, which appeared to me to be standing, not across their holes, but in front of them. The first one I never saw after the shot; the second I found dying at the entrance of the burrow, but at my appearance it worked backwards. I drew my ramrod and put the end in its mouth; this it bit hard but kept working backwards, and notwithstanding my efforts, was soon out of sight and touch. Bell saw two enter the same hole, and Harris three. Bell saw some standing quite erect and leaping in the air to see and watch our movements. I found, by lying down within twenty or thirty steps of the hole, that they reappeared in fifteen or twenty minutes. This was the case with me when I shot at the two I have mentioned. Harris saw one that, after coming out of its hole, gave a long and somewhat whistling note, which he thinks was one of invitation to its neighbors, as several came out