Tab 36 - Hunting of the Grizzly Bear

Karl Bodmer

Bodmer’s America


Pulled from the original steel and copper plates, engraved in Paris between 1836 and 1843 under Karl Bodmer's direction, after the artist's own watercolours drawn from nature during the journey.

The engravings are hand-printed in colours, à la poupée, with extensive hand-colouring and some application of gum arabic, in the nineteenth-century manner.

Engraved by Lucas Weber
Printed by Bougeard

Feeding the passengers and crew aboard the steamers, keelboats, and other craft operating on the Missouri River was a full-time job for certain members of the crew. The demand for fresh meat was supplied by one or more men hired expressly for this purpose.

Usually, hunters went ahead of the boat to search the immediate area for deer, antelope, bison, or whatever the country afforded. They stashed their kills in a conspicuous place along the riverbank, or in a tree, to be picked up later by the lookout on the boat as it made its way upriver. Sometimes, hungry bears or prowling wolves found the cache first and devoured or made off with it.

Above Fort Union enroute to Fort McKenzie in July, 1833, Prince Maximilian noted in his daily journal of having sighted wolves near the bison and elk herds along the Missouri. In an entry for July 1883, he recorded that a grizzly bear had been seen along the riverbank feeding on the carcass of a buffalo cow. On the 19th he observed that hunters from the boat chased another grizzly for some distance near the mouth of the Milk River. Bears also were taken for food, their meat being considered a delicacy by many travelers on the Missouri frontier at this time.

A pencil drawing which served as the basis for this print is owned by the Newberry Library, in Chicago, part of a group of forty Bodmer sketches and water-colors originally included in the Bodmer estate sale in Paris, in 1893.

See Vignette XXI, and Tableaux 31 and 41 for other depiction's of the animal life Bodmer observed on the upper Missouri.

Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA

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Original Print

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