|The Burgess Animal Book for Children|
|by Thornton Burgess|
|To answer Peter Rabbit’s questions about his relatives, Old Mother Nature holds a school for the animals every day at sun-up for a month. Encouraging the animals to notice the differences between them and to offer their observa-tions of animal behavior, Old Mother Nature helps them all gain a greater understanding of the mammals of North America. Starting with the animals close to home, the school moves in ever-widening circles to encompass the animals of the far west and the extreme north, as well. A fine introduction to mammals for students in the primary grades. Ages 6-9 |
BUGLER, FLATHORNS AND WANDERHOOF
 LIGHTFOOT THE DEER was the first one on hand the next morning. In
fact, he arrived before sun-up and, lying down in a little thicket
close at hand, made himself very comfortable to wait for the
opening of school. You see, not for anything would he have missed
that lesson about his big cousins. There the others found him
when they arrived.
"The Deer family," began Old Mother Nature, "is divided into two
branches—the round-horned and the flat-horned. I have told you
about the round-horned Deer with the exception of the largest and
noblest, Bugler the Elk. He is commonly called Elk, but his
right name is Wapiti.
To speak of him correctly
you should call him Wapiti instead of Elk.
"Bugler is found only in the great mountains of the Far West, but
once, before hunters with terrible guns came, Elk were found in
nearly all parts of this country excepting the Far South and
Far North—even on the great plains. Now Bugler lives only in the
forests of the great mountains."
"How big is he?" asked Lightfoot.
"So big that beside him you would look very small," replied Old
Mother Nature. "Have you ever seen Farmer Brown's Horse?"
Lightfoot nodded. "Well, Bugler stands as high as that Horse,"
replied Old Mother Nature. "He isn't as heavy, for his body is of
different shape, not so big around, but at that he weighs three
times as much as you do. In summer his coat is a light
yellowish-brown, becoming very dark on his neck and underneath. His legs are
dark brown. The hair on his neck is long and coarse. His tail is
very small, and around it is a large patch so light in color as to
be almost whitish. In winter his coat becomes dark gray.
"Bugler's crowning glory are his antlers. They are very large and
wide-spreading, sweeping backward and upward, the long prongs, or
tines, curving upward from the front instead of from the back, as
in the case of Lightfoot's antlers. Above each eye is a long sharp
prong. So big are these antlers that Bugler looks almost as if
he were carrying a small, bare tree on his head.
"Big as these antlers are, they are grown in a few months for
Bugler is like his smaller cousins
 in that he loses his antlers at
the end of every winter and must grow a new pair. While they are
growing, he hides in the wildest places he can find, high up on
the mountains. Mrs. Bugler is at that time down in a valley with
her baby or babies. Usually she has one, but sometimes twins.
She has no antlers.
"In the fall, when his antlers have hardened, Bugler moves down
to join his family. The bigger and stronger he is, the bigger his
family is, for he has a number of wives and they all live together
in a herd or band of which Bugler is lord and master. He is ready
and eager to fight for them, and terrible battles take place when
another disputes his leadership. At this season he has a habit of
stretching his neck out and emitting a far-reaching trumpet-like
sound from which he gets the name of Bugler. It is a warning that
he is ready to fight.
"When the snows of winter come, many families get together and form
great bands. Then they move down from the mountains in search of
shelter and food. When a winter is very bad, many starve to death,
for man has fenced in and made into farms much of the land where
the elk once found ample food for winter.
"But big as is Bugler the Elk, there is a cousin who is bigger, the
biggest of all the Deer family.
 It is Flathorns the Moose. As you
must guess by his name he is a member of the flat-horned branch of
the family. His antlers spread widely and are flattened instead
of being round. From the edges of the flattened part many sharp
points spring out.
He is the largest member of the
"Flathorns, wearing his crown of great spreading antlers, is a
noble appearing animal because of his great size, but when his
antlers have dropped he is a homely fellow. Mrs. Flathorns, who
has no antlers, is very homely. As I have said, Flathorns is the
biggest member of the Deer family. He is quite as big as Farmer
Brown's Horse and stands much higher at the shoulders. Indeed, his
shoulders are so high that he has a decided hump there, for they are
well above the line of his back. His neck is very short, large and
thick, and his head is not at all like the heads of other members
of the Deer family. Instead of the narrow, pointed face of other
members of the Deer family, he has a broad, long face, rather more
like that of a Horse. Towards the nose it humps up, and the great
thick upper lip overhangs the lower one. His nose is very broad,
and for his size his eyes are small. His ears are large.
"From his throat hangs a hairy fold of skin called a bell. He has
a very short tail, so short that it is hardly noticeable. His legs
 long and rather large. His hoofs are large and rounded,
more like those of Bossy the Cow than like those of Lightfoot the
Deer. Seen at a little distance in the woods, he looks to be almost
black, but really is for the most part dark brown. His legs are gray
on the inside.
"Flathorns lives in the great northern forests clear across the
country, and is especially fond of swampy places. He is fond of
the water and is a good swimmer. In summer he delights to feed
on the pads, stems and roots of water lilies, and his long legs
enable him to wade out to get them. For the most part his food
consists of leaves and tender twigs of young trees, such as
striped maple, aspen, birch, hemlock, alder and willow. His great
height enables him to reach the upper branches of young trees. When
they are too tall for this, he straddles them and bends or breaks
them down to get at the upper branches. His front teeth are big,
broad and sharp-edged. With these he strips the bark from the
larger branches. He also eats grass and moss. Because of his
long legs and short neck he finds it easiest to kneel when feeding
on the ground.
"Big as he is, he can steal through thick growth without making a
sound. He does not jump like other Deer, but travels at an awkward
trot which takes him over the ground very fast. In the
when snow is deep, the Moose family lives in a yard such as I told
you Lightfoot makes. The greatest enemy of Flathorns is the hunter,
and from being much hunted Flathorns has learned to make the most of
his ears, eyes and nose. He is very smart and not easily surprised.
When wounded he will sometimes attack man, and occasionally when not
wounded. Then he strikes with his sharp-edged front hoofs, and they
are terrible weapons. Altogether he is a wonderful animal, and it
is a matter for sorrow that man persists in hunting him merely to get
his wonderful head.
"In parts of these same northern forests lives another big member
of the Deer family, Wanderhoof the Woodland Caribou. He is bigger
than Lightfoot the Deer, but smaller than Bugler the Elk, rather
an awkward-looking fellow. His legs are quite long but stout. His
neck is rather short, and instead of carrying his head proudly as
does Lightfoot, he carries it stretched out before him or hanging
low. The hair on the lower part of his neck is long.
This is the Woodland Caribou, a
member of the Deer family closely related to the Reindeer.
"Wanderhoof wears a coat of brown, his neck being much lighter or
almost gray. He has an undercoat which is very thick and woolly.
In winter his whole coat becomes grayish and his neck white. Above
each hoof is a band of white.
 His tail is very short, and white
on the under side. His antlers are wonderful, being very long and
both round and flat. That is, parts of them are round and parts
flattened. They have more prongs than those of any other Deer.
"His hoofs are very large, deeply slit, and cup-shaped. When he
walks they make a snapping or clicking sound. These big feet were
given him for a purpose. He is very fond of boggy ground, and
because of these big feet and the fact that the hoofs spread when
he steps, he can walk safely where others would sink in. This is
equally true in snow, when they serve as snowshoes. As a result
he is not forced to live in yards as are Lightfoot and Flathorns
when the snow is deep, but goes where he pleases.
"He is very fond of the water and delights to splash about in it,
and is a splendid swimmer. His hair floats him so that when
swimming he is higher out of water than any other member of the
family. In winter he lives in the thickest parts of the forest
among the hemlocks and spruces, and feeds on the mosses and lichens
which grow on the trees. In summer he moves to the open, boggy
ground around shallow lakes where moss covers the ground, and on
this he lives.
"He is a great wanderer, hence his name Wanderhoof. Mrs. Caribou
has antlers, wherein
 she differs from Mrs. Lightfoot, Mrs. Flathorns
and Mrs. Bugler. Wanderhoof is fond of company and usually is
found with many companions of his own kind. When they are moving
from their summer home to their winter home, or back again, they
often travel in very large bands.
"In the Far North beyond the great forests Wanderhoof has a cousin
who looks very much like him, called the Barren Ground Caribou.
The name comes from the fact that way up there little excepting
moss grows, and on this the Caribou lives. In summer this Caribou
is found almost up to the Arctic Ocean, moving southward in great
herds as the cold weather approaches. No other animals of to-day
get together in such great numbers. In the extreme North is another
Caribou, called Peary's Caribou, whose coat is wholly white. The
Caribou are close cousins of the Reindeer and look much like them.
"All male members of the smaller Deer are called bucks, the female
members are called does, and the young are called fawns. All male
members of the big Deer, such as Bugler the Elk, Flathorns the
Moose and Wanderhoof the Caribou, are called bulls. The females
are called cows and the young are called calves. All members of
the Deer family, with the exception of the Barren Ground Caribou,
are forest-loving animals
 and are seldom seen far from the
"This, I think, will do for the Deer family. To-morrow I shall
tell you about Thunderfoot the Bison, Fleetfoot the Antelope, and
Longcoat the Musk Ox."
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