The following short articles appeared in the November 8, 1901, edition of the Maine Woods newspaper. All share interesting tales about wildlife, two species of which, are no longer found in Maine… the Woodland Caribou and the Mountain Lion. The old Maine woods name for a big cat was “Indian Devil” more commonly known as a Mountain Lion. However, it could refer to a lynx as well depending on the author of the tale. Indian Devil is of course recognized as quite inappropriate and derogatory today. However, this name was commonly used by loggers and woodsmen in the Maine woods up until the very early twentieth century despite its obviously unfair connotations towards our indigenous neighbors. Enjoy what follows and be sure to make some great Rangeley history of your own!

(Contemporary commentary shared in Italics).

The Fleet Caribou

The fleet of foot Woodland Caribou

Greyhound Seemed Anchored as Animals Sped Away.

A Bangor man, who has just returned from the woods, gives a glowing account of his trip and reports having seen signs of caribou in several places. In regard to this animal, he says that a caribou can run faster than any other animal on legs and tells the following story—an incident that took place a few years ago. “I have a friend who owns a greyhound and he always maintained that no animal could outrun the dog. At least he thought so until lately, when he stood by and saw the fleet dog run off his feet by a herd of caribou that didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry either. One day this friend of mine was bragging about the dog to an old woods guide, when the latter said he could find an animal that would leave the hound so far behind that he would think he was anchored. This touched my friend in a sensitive spot, and a wager of $25 was made on a race between the hound and the first caribou we came across. (This was big money at the time as this sum equates to $902 in today’s money)! Finally, the guide succeeded in getting the hound after some caribou, a herd of seven found standing like so many statues on the ice in the middle of one of the big ponds of northern Maine. You know the caribou trots instead of running like most wild animals. There had been a good fall of snow, and a light rain which formed a thick crust, and then about three inches more of snow. It was the finest kind of surface for running, and when the greyhound was turned loose his owner confidently expected that he would play tag with these caribou. The dog went after them like a wild locomotive, and the caribou started off. At first, they didn’t appear to be going very fast, but as the hound drew up on them a little, they let out a link (accelerated). The hound was running his prettiest and before the caribou had time to think he was right upon them. Then they put on steam and it was a sight to see them go. Why, when they struck their gait, they pulled away from that dog as though he had been anchored, and by the time they had reached the end of the pond the hound wasn’t halfway across. When the dog came back, he was both sadder and wiser, but his master looked dazed. To be sure, a greyhound is fast, but when you come to stack greyhounds or any other kind of hounds against caribou you are in too fast a game.”

(Sadly, the last Woodland Caribou, Rangifer tarandus caribou, observed in Maine was on the saddle of Mt. Katahdin in 1908).


Indian Devil on the War Path

Mr. W. J. Bubar of Blaine had an unpleasant experience with an Indian devil a few days ago. Mr. Bubar was returning from Noble’s camp on Burntland stream. As the horse was jogging along, he gave a snort and a jump and an animal fell from a tree knocking the small wagon over and stunning the aggressor. The horse and driver were well frightened and hurried on. Before they had proceeded far the animal was seen close behind them coming in a hurry. Bubar was armed with a Winchester. He shot five times at the beast which brought the howl from him as he bounded into the forest. He is sure it was an Indian devil (Mountain Lion/panther).

The Eyes Fell Over

A young man from the southern part of the state was hunting up Moosehead way. He became lost in the woods and was obliged to remain out all night. A fire was built and this preserved him from many of the cool, creepy sensations that persisted in chasing themselves up and down his backbone. Suddenly there appeared a pair of eyes shining out in the darkness. Every shot but one had been fired before. With this one he sent his “greetings” to the owner of the eyes, expecting to secure a good deer out of the venture. At the report of the rifle the eyes fell over and he rushed to see what he had shot. It was a rabbit.

(If you have seen the comedy classic… “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, you’d have a far greater appreciation as to just how savage some bunnies can be).

Animal Freaks in Somerset (County) [Special correspondence to the Maine Woods]

Bingham, Nov. 4, 1901 – A. F. Donigan of Bingham has two curiosities in his store window that greatly attract the attention of sporting people and strangers who visit Bingham. One is a light brown bear, or freak, with a fleece much more like wool than hair. The head resembles that of a wolf and has a white spot on its forehead, while the legs and feet are those of a bear and have hair instead of what is on the body and is much darker. It was killed by the noted hunter and guide, Oliver Adams, near Cold Stream. The other is an albino buck deer with a fine set of antlers. It has a few spots of red on the body, but it is mostly white. Mr. Donigan values the two at $300.

(These colorations or brown spots would classify the deer as “pi-bald” rather than albino which would have pink eye pigment as well. The valuation of $300 is the equivalent of $10,400, in today’s dollars. These two unique mounts would be at least 123 years old today and are probably long gone but would make a unique exhibit at the Outdoor Heritage Museum! Have a great week everyone).

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