On The 7th We Were Gratified By A Sight Of The Sun After It Had Been
Obscured For Twelve Days.
On this and several following days the meridian
sun melted the light covering of snow or hoarfrost on the lichens which
clothe the barren grounds, and rendered them so tender as to attract
great herds of reindeer to our neighbourhood.
On the morning of the 10th
I estimated the numbers I saw during a short walk at upwards of two
thousand. They form into herds of different sizes from ten to a hundred
according as their fears or accident induce them to unite or separate.
The females being at this time more lean and active usually lead the van.
The haunches of the males are now covered to the depth of two inches or
more with fat which is beginning to get red and high flavoured and is
considered a sure indication of the commencement of the rutting season.
Their horns, which in the middle of August were yet tender, have now
attained their proper size and are beginning to lose their hairy covering
which hangs from them in ragged filaments. The horns of the reindeer vary
not only with its sex and age but are otherwise so uncertain in their
growth that they are never alike in any two individuals. The old males
shed theirs about the end of December; the females retain them until the
disappearance of the snow enables them to frequent the barren grounds
which may be stated to be about the middle or end of May, soon after
which period they proceed towards the sea-coast and drop their young.
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