The Joy of Wild Life
This is a compelling section from the 1927 book by Ernest Thompson Seton titled: Lives of game animals : an account of those land animals in America, north of the Mexican border, which are considered “game,” either because they have held the attention of sportsmen, or received the protection of law. Volume III - Part I. Hoofed Animals.
As I gather these chapters, setting forth the Lives of America’s Big Game, the chronicle looms up ever stronger as one long, shameful record, red with blood, and black with crime. For each kind, I find the same bright story at the beginning; and for each and all — or all but one or two — a nauseating finish.
Our people came, they found an earthly Eden-land teeming with big, splendid, wild animals; and proceeded to slaughter them with irresistible weapons, for no purpose other than the brutal joy of seeing them fall. The only reason why they did not use shrapnel, aeroplanes and poison gas in the fell work, was because they did not have them. So the wilds have been desolated; and all our herds of game are so nearly gone that it gives one a thrill of unexpected joy to know that on this list there is a bright exception to the bloody rule. The Northern herds of Caribou, are still found in their millions.
To see with my own eyes this glad wonder, was the lure that took me on that long, silent trip of 2,000 river miles. I saw them — not the millions in migration indeed. But they are surely there; for I saw the scattered summer herds each day, and all day long. And I find the deep and blessed satisfaction that it gave, set forth in my greasy, blotted, Arctic journal of the time, in oft-recurring phrases such as this:
"There never is a day, and rarely an hour of each day, that we do not see several Caribou. Yet I never fail to get a sense of joy at each and every one that comes. ‘There’s a Caribou,’ one says with perennial intensity that is evidence of perennial pleasure in the view. There never is one sighted — and we have seen thousands all told — that does not give me a happy little thrill, the thought ‘This is what I came for. I am thankful that they still live, and that I am here to see them.’"