Thursday, December 31, 1964
This article was first published in 1924.
The chase came near the places where James Gibson and Charles Sheets were standing, and the hunters who were close together both started to run to the hounds, for they could tell that the hunt had passed them and that the bear was at bay fighting the hounds. The two hunters ran in company a mile or more but there was that difference: James Gibson is sixty-eight years old and after the first mile finds that his age somewhat affects him, through still sound in wind and limb. Charles Sheets is in his twenties and does not mind how far he has to run. Seeing Mr. Gibson slow up in the foot race, Mr. Sheets slowed up also and said that he would wait and go on with Mr. Gibson at a slower pace. Mr. Gibson thanked him for his courtesy but observed that it was so important to get that particular bear that it would be just as well for Mr. Sheets to proceed to the place where the bear was raising the devil with the hounds and not to stand on ceremony, so Mr. Sheets came to the bear.
Lame Paw, twelve inches between the ears, was trying to put his paw on the dog, and when the paw came down the dog was elsewhere. Sheets had the following equipment: Winchester, repeating shotgun with shell loaded with an ounce ball. It seems that of late years the man who carries a twelve gauge shotgun that uses shells each containing an ounce of small shot, may buy at the hardware stores shells in which each has an ounce ball and this ball cartridge when shot from such a shotgun has about the same range as an old time mountain rifle, and it is very effective ammunition for deer and bear.
The bear and dogs were fussing around in a grown up hacking and Sheets was able to shoot Lame Paw twice before the harassed bear knew that his enemy was on him. One of the ounce balls went through the body near the heart and the other entered near the backbone and ranged back to the ham. The bear went on and the dogs showed their perfect team work, each tugging at a ham and dodging and coming again.
Sheets followed but for a time it was not possible to shoot on account of the prevalence of the hounds and Sheets, having plenty of speed, ran around the bear and took his position on a rock place in a cleft in the cliffs where the bear must pass. And out of the brush the big brute came, and as it happened, he had got rid of the dogs for the time being.
Now a bear being the wisest and most timid of animals where man is concerned will not come in shouting distance if he can help it, but when cornered or attacked there is no animal as dangerous and as hard to stop with a ball. This is what caused them to call the grizzly Ursus Ferox, or the Bear Ferocious. And when a black bear gets as gib as a grizzly, as in this case, it is probably the most dangerous of all wild animals. A rugged rushing bear has a tendency to make any man give ground.
In this case the bear, desperately wounded but with all his power, made directly at the hunter, as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground, and the hunter refusing to be a consenting party to his own destruction, in the space of a fraction of a second, took aim and shot Lame Paw square between the eyes, and the big hunt was over.
On being examined, the worn condition of the teeth indicated an old bear. It was fat as fat could be and the meat was good, to those that like bear meat. Owing to a late spring the hide was in perfect condition, the hair being thick, long, black and glossy.
The bear was thought to have weighed about five hundred pounds, and is the second largest bear that has been killed on the waters of Elk, and that is saying a good deal for there have been hundreds if not thousands killed in those fine bear grounds.
The largest bear was fourteen inches between the ears, and was the famous Williams River sheep killing bear killed on Elk in 1910 by Samuel Gibson. He was generally referred to as the Old Hellion, and he lived on Williams River and Elk River for years and actually put some farmers out of the sheep business. That was the time when farmers hung up lanterns on their farms at night.
To be continued…