A CALIFORNIA BEAR STORY
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A CALIFORNIA BEAR STORY

A CALIFORNIA BEAR STORY




      

A CALIFORNIA BEAR STORY


A light rain was falling as our pack train slowly wended its way down the North Slope of Mt. Wilson until camp was made on a small brook called Short Cut Canyon. Soon numerous trout were_ frying and the savory odors lent to the quiet sylvan air something to be found no other place.

Then after the coffee and pipes around the fire we told numerous stories of bear and other wild animals, until with highly wrought imaginations we rolled into our blankets for the remainder of the night. But our slumbers were disturbed by the unusual actions of the burros. The bell on one of them was continually ringing from the animal's restless efforts to break away.

So it was, that we arose with the first light of dawn and taking the rifles took our way up the dusty trail. But what kind of a track was that? "Why, didn't you ever see a bear's track before?" said Bill. My imagination was running along the line of primeval giants, then gradually quieting our excitement we found that the tracks were fresh and doubled back the trail and were as long as my arm from the elbow to the tips of my fingers. "A big grizzly," said Bill, "and its a good thing we had that bell on Reddie or he would have been killed last night."

The sun came up over a ridge while a Blue Jay broke the stillness with his harsh voice. It was with ever-excited nerves that the animal's trail led up the steep slopes through the thick manzanita brush and deep down into the blue misty depths of Devils Canyon.

"He must be around here someplace," I told Bill, for the tracks were not to be seen on the neighboring slopes and taking a few more steps, "There he is." Quickly the bear saw us and as quickly made his savage advance. It was one well-placed bullet that was needed now, so it was that I knew my aim was good and bang!

Poor Bill was struggling and moaning on the ground. A bullet had grazed his head. A hundred feet away, we found old big foot, and dead.

We surveyed the animal in silent wonder. "Yes, Bill, that's where I hit him, in the mouth and you see how he clawed up that ground there," was my comment on the situation. "He certainly did dig up this ground but what has that got to do with it," said Bill.

"Why, that is where he turned around so quickly when the bullet was going through him that when it came out it was going in the opposite direction and Bill, you know the rest." Bill looked at me with one eye from beneath his bandaged forehead and then took a silent chaw of tobacco. By John de Pencier.

Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,

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