Thursday, November 27, 1968
Eldridge McComb cut a white oak in Burr’s Valley last week, and the rings showed the tree to be over 200 years old. The interesting part, though, was that the top had been broken off about sixteen feet up, but the break had healed over completely, and the tree branched out around it. This formed a sort of burl about two and half feet through. In the middle of this, completely surrounded by green wood, was a hollow place about 8 by 15 inches, filled with rotten wood and some leaves, which they think indicates a squirrel’s nest. Imbedded in the middle was a half of the lower jaw bone of a deer. The McCombs think a squirrel or rat dragged this into the nest, bound to have been many, many years ago because of the heavy growth of wood around and above it. W. S. Smith, an old timer at 92, thinks it was probably a panther that carried a deer into that broken top.
By way of Baltimore, we have some bear tales from Odey Cassell.
Earl Shelsby, of the staff of the Sun Sports, was in Cass for the first part of the bear season and writes:
It took me a lot of searching, but I think I have found the world champion tough-luck bear hunter. He is Odey Cassell, 82 year old native of Cass. Nearly everyone who has hunted bear seriously has a sad tale or two to tell, but Odey has a dozen.
On the eve of West Virginia bear season, Cassell was using his stories of how bears have avoided his rifle during sixteen years of hunting in prime bear country. When the evening ended, there was no indication that he had completed his long list of sad bear stories.
Some of his misadventures with bears made “The Shelby Jinx” sound like a happy ending. The first of several Cassell tales is about the bear that he did get. He doesn’t count this one because he didn’t get him with a gun.
“I was seventeen at the time,” the former logger and farmer began. “These friends of mine have a trap line right up above my farm.
I heard them hollering and whooping one day and I knew what they had. I answered them and they told me to come up to them.
When I got there, they had a big bear in a trap, but they didn’t have any guns with them.
I was about 240 pounds then and didn’t know my own strength. They gave me a club and told me to hit the bear on the head.”
One Paw Free
“The bear had its left front paw in the trap, but what I failed to realize was that the other one was free.
I took a swing at the bear with all my strength and just as I did, the bear threw up its other paw and the club flew back striking me right on the forehead and knocking me back 12 feet.
It gave me a nose bleed and a wonderful hurt.
We finally killed the bear, but the only way we could do it was to line up the other two fellows so we could all swing clubs at the same time.
I don’t know whether it was my lick or someone else’s, but we got him right across the back of the neck and paralyzed him.
We didn’t have any scale, but he must have weighed 450 pounds.”
Most hunters are proud of killing a bear with a rifle. How many men around can say that they killed a bear with a stick?
Cassell is proud of his accomplishment and enjoys telling the story but you can tell he regrets never having killed one with a firearm.
“I have had two bears closer than you,” he says, indicating a distance of under six feet. “I never got a shot at either one.”
“One time I was leaning on a spruce tree that was laying down about waist high and felt a thud. First I thought the tree was breaking, but I bounced up and down on it and found it solid. When I did, a bear came out from under the tree and just about ran over me. I had to jump back to get out of his way. When I did, I was unable to fire a shot before he was gone.”
Cassell told another story about being 40 feet away from a bear and thinking it was his neighbor’s missing pig.
He first noted that the ground had been rooted up just like a pig would do. Then he saw the back of the bear and thought it was the back of the pig. He didn’t realize his mistake until the bear caught wind of him and snorted and quickly disappeared.
Cassell told how several bear escaped his gun, but he also intermingled stories of the many successful hunts in which he has participated.
“I have been in on many cases in which a bear was killed, but I have never been able to make the kill,” Cassell said.
He told of one friend who knocked down a bear but it got up and ran away. By the time he reloaded, a bear was a bare length in front, a bear that he thought was the same bear he had shot. He shot this one also and it turned out that his friend had killed two bears in less than a minute.
Story Bears Down
His top bear killing story was about a friend named Vic Medwin, who killed 27 bears in one week several years ago.
Bear hunting is a tradition in this section of West Virginia. It grew out of a necessity of protecting sheep and other livestock from bears.
There is a bounty on bear in Pocahontas County.
Born to Mr. and Mrs. John Vance, of Marlinton, a son, named John William Vance, Jr.
John A. Wooddell, 64, of Dunmore, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Wooddell. Burial in Arbovale Cemetery.
I. Robert Simmons, 58, of Boyer, lifelong resident of Pocahontas County. Burial in Arbovale Cemetery.
Mrs. Abbie Rexrode Propst, 81, of Doe Hill, Virginia, a daughter of the late John and Barbara Wyant Rexrode. Burial in the Hoover Cemetery near Doe Hill.
Neil E. Gragg, 40, of North Madison, Ohio; born at Green Bank, a son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Gragg.