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American Big Game in Its Haunts by Various

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No other cat has so extensive a range as _Felis concolor_ and its
close allies, variously known as puma, cougar and mountain lion, which
extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from latitude fifty-five
or sixty north, to the extreme southern end of the continent. As far as
is known, it is a recent development, for no very similar remains appear
previous to post-tertiary deposits.

Bears of the genus _Ursus_ are of no great antiquity in a
geological sense, for we have no knowledge of them earlier than the
Pliocene of Europe, and even later in America, but fossils becoming
gradually less bear-like and approximating toward the early type from
which dogs also probably sprung, go back to the early Tertiary
creodonts.

Cats, as we have seen, are chiefly tropical, while bears, with two
exceptions, are northern, one species inhabiting the Chilian Andes,
while the brown bear of Europe extends into North Africa as far as the
Atlas Mountains.

The family _Procyonidae_ contains the existing species which appear
to be nearest of kin to bears. These are all small and consist of the
well-known raccoon, the coatis, the ring-tailed bassaris and the
kinkajou, all differing from bears in varying details of tooth and other
structures. The curious little panda (_Aelurus fulgens_) from the
Himalayas, is very suggestive of raccoons, and as forms belonging to
this genus inhabited England in Pliocene times, it is possible that we
have pointed out to us here the origin of this, at present, strictly
American family; but, on the other hand, evidence is not wanting that
they have always been native to the soil and came from a dog-like stock.

As we have already seen, bears have the same dental formula as dogs, but
as they are less carnivorous, their grinders have flatter surfaces and
the sectorials are less sharp; in fact they have very little of the true
sectorial character. It is unusual to find a full set of teeth in adult
bears, as some of the premolars invariably drop out.

It is fully as true of bears as of any other group of large mammals,
that our views as to specific distinction are based upon data at present
utterly inadequate, for all the zoological museums of the world do not
contain sufficient material for exhaustive study and comparison. The
present writer has examined many of these collections and has no
hesitation in admitting that his ideas upon the subject are much less
definite than they were ten years ago. It does appear, though, that in
North America four quite distinct types can be made out. First of these
is the circumpolar species, _Ursus maritimus_, the white or polar
bear, which most of us grew up to regard as the very incarnation of
tenacious ferocity, but which, as it appears from the recitals of
late Arctic explorers, dies easily to a single shot, and does not
seem to afford much better sport than so much rabbit shooting.
The others are the great Kadiak bear (_U. middendorfi_); the
grizzly (_U. horribilis_), and the black or true American bear
(_U. americanus_). The extent to which the last three may
be subdivided remains uncertain, but the barren-ground bear
(_U. richardsoni_) is surely a valid species of the grizzly type.
The grizzlies and the big Alaska bears approach more nearly than
_americanus_ to the widespread brown bear (_U. arctos_) of
Europe and Asia, and the hypothesis is reasonable that they originated
from that form or its immediate ancestors, in which case we have the
interesting series of parallel modifications exhibited in the two
continents, for the large bear of Kamtschatka approaches very nearly to
those of Alaska, while further to the south in America, where the
conditions of life more nearly resemble those surrounding _arctos_,
these bears have in the grizzlies retained more of their original form.
Whether or not the large Pleistocene cave bear (_U. spelaeus_) was a
lineal ancestor is questionable, for in its later period, at least, it was
contemporary with the existing European species. The black bear, with its
litter-brother of brown color, seems to be a genuine product of the new
world.

Many differential characters have been pointed out in the skulls and teeth
of bears, and to a less extent, in the claws; but while these undoubtedly
exist, the conclusions to be drawn from them are uncertain, for the
skulls of bears change greatly with age, and the constancy of these
variations, with the values which they should hold in classification,
we do not yet know.

* * * * *

It is not improbable that the reader may leave this brief survey with
the feeling that its admissions of ignorance exceed its affirmations of
certainty, and such is indeed the case, for the law of scientific
validity forbids the statement as fact, of that concerning which the
least element of doubt remains. But the real advance of zoological
knowledge must not thereby be discredited, for it is due to those who
have contributed to it to remember that little more than a generation
ago these problems of life seemed wrapped in hopeless obscurity, and the
methods of investigation which have led to practically all our present
gains, were then but new born, and with every passing year doubts are
dispelled, and theories turned into truths. There was no break in
physical evolution when mental processes began, nor will there be in the
evolution of knowledge as long as they continue to exist.

_Arthur Erwin Brown_.

[Illustration: TROPHIES FROM ALASKA.]

Big Game Shooting in Alaska

I.

BEAR HUNTING ON KADIAK ISLAND

Early in April, 1900, I made my first journey to Alaska for the purpose
of searching out for myself the best big-game shooting grounds which
were to be found in that territory. Few people who have not traveled in
that country have any idea of its vastness. Away from the beaten paths,
much of its 700,000 square miles is practically unknown, except to the
wandering prospector and the Indian hunter. Therefore, since I could
obtain but little definite information as to just where to go for the
best shooting, I determined to make the primary object of my journey to
locate the big-game districts of southern and western Alaska.

My first two months were spent in the country adjacent to Fort
Wrangell. Here one may expect to find black bear, brown bear, goats, and
on almost all of the islands along the coast great numbers of the small
Sitka deer, while grizzlies may these are the black, the grizzly, and
the glacier or blue bear.[3] It is claimed that this last species has
never fallen to a white man's rifle. It is found on the glaciers from
the Lynn Canal to the northern range of the St. Elias Alps, and, as its
name implies, is of a bluish color. I should judge from the skins I have
seen that in size it is rather smaller than the black bear. What it
lives upon in its range of eternal ice and snow is entirely a subject of
surmise.

[Footnote 3: The Polar bear is only found on the coast, and never below
61 deg.. It is only found at this latitude when carried down on the ice in
Bering Sea.]

[Illustration: THE HUNTER AND HIS GAME.]

Of all the varieties of brown bears, the one which has probably
attracted most attention is the large bear of the Kadiak Islands. Before
starting upon my journey I had communicated with Dr. Merriam, Chief of
the Biological Survey, at Washington, and had learned from him all that
he could tell me of this great bear. Mr. Harriman, while on his
expedition to the Alaskan coast in 1899, had by great luck shot a
specimen, and in the second volume of "Big Game Shooting" in "The
Badminton Library," Mr. Clive Phillipps-Wolley writes of the largest
"grizzly" of which he has any trustworthy information as being shot on
Kadiak island by a Mr. J.C. Tolman. These were the only authentic
records I could find of bears of this species which had fallen to the
rifle of an amateur sportsman.

After spending two months in southern Alaska, I determined to visit the
Kadiak Islands in pursuit of this bear. I reached my destination the
latter part of June, and three days later had started on my shooting
expedition with native hunters. Unfortunately I had come too late in the
season. The grass had shot up until it was shoulder high, making it most
difficult to see at any distance the game I was after.

The result of this, my first hunt, was that I actually saw but three
bear, and got but one shot, which, I am ashamed to record, was a miss.
Tracks there were in plenty along the salmon streams, and some of these
were so large I concluded that as a sporting trophy a good example of
the Kadiak bear should equal, if not surpass, in value any other kind of
big game to be found on the North American continent. This opinion
received confirmation later when I saw the size of the skins brought in
by the natives to the two trading companies.

* * * * *

As I sailed away from Kadiak that fall morning I determined that my hunt
was not really over, but only interrupted by the long northern winter,
and that the next spring would find me once more in pursuit of this
great bear.

It was not only with the hope of shooting a Kadiak bear that I decided
to make this second expedition, but I had become greatly interested in
the big brute, and although no naturalist myself, it was now to be my
aim to bring back to the scientists at Washington as much definite
material about him as possible. Therefore the objects of my second trip
were:

Firstly, to obtain a specimen of bear from the Island of Kadiak;
secondly, to obtain specimens of the bears found on the Alaska
Peninsula; and, lastly, to obtain, if possible, a specimen of bear from
one of the other islands of the Kadiak group. With such material I
hoped that it could at least be decided definitely if all the bears of
the Kadiak Islands are of one species; if all the bears on the Alaska
Peninsula are of one species; and also if the Kadiak bear is found on
the mainland, for there are unquestionably many points of similarity
between the bears of the Kadiak Islands and those of the Alaska
Peninsula. It was also my plan, if I was successful in all these
objects, to spend the fall on the Kenai Peninsula in pursuit of the
white sheep and the moose.

Generally I have made it a point to go alone on all big-game shooting
trips, but on this journey I was fortunate in having as companion an old
college friend, Robert P. Blake.

My experience of the year before was of value in getting our outfit
together. At almost all points in Alaska most of the necessary
provisions can be bought, but I should rather advise one to take all but
the commonest necessities with him, for frequently the stocks at the
various trading posts run low. For this reason we took with us from
Seattle sufficient provisions to last us six months, and from time to
time, as necessity demanded, added to our stores. As the rain falls
almost daily in much of the coast country, we made it a point to supply
ourselves liberally with rubber boots and rain-proof clothing.

On the 6th of March, 1901, we sailed from Seattle on one of the monthly
steamers, and arrived at Kadiak eleven days later. I shall not attempt
to describe this beautiful island, but shall merely say that Kadiak is
justly termed the "garden spot of Alaska." It has numerous deep bays
which cut into the land many miles. These bays in turn have arms which
branch out in all directions, and the country adjacent to these latter
is the natives' favorite hunting ground for bear.

[Illustration: LOADED BAIDARKA--BARABARA--BASE OF SUPPLIES, ALASKA
PENINSULA.]

In skin canoes (baidarkas) the Aleuts, paddling along the shore, keep a
sharp lookout on the nearby hillsides, where the bears feed upon the
young and tender grass. It was our plan to choose the most likely one of
these big bays as our shooting grounds, and hunt from a baidarka,
according to local custom.

It may be well to explain here that the different localities of Alaska
are distinctly marked by the difference in the canoes which the natives
use. In the southern part, where large trees are readily obtained, you
find large dugouts capable of holding from five to twenty persons. At
Yakutat, where the timber is much smaller, the canoes, although still
dugouts, have decreased proportionately in size, but from Yakutat
westward the timber line becomes lower and lower, until the western half
of the island of Kadiak is reached, where the trees disappear
altogether, and the dugout gives place to the skin canoe or baidarka. I
have never seen them east of Prince William Sound, but from this point
on to the west they are in universal use among the Aleuts--a most
interesting race of people, and a most wonderful boat.

The natives of Kadiak are locally called Aleuts, but the true Aleuts are
not found east of the Aleutian Islands. The cross between the Aleut and
white--principally Russian--is known as the "Creole."

The natives whom I met on the Kadiak Islands seemed to show traces of
Japanese descent, for they resembled these people both in size and
features. I found them of docile disposition, remarkable hunters and
weather prophets, and most expert in handling their wonderful canoes,
with which I always associate them.

The baidarka is made with a light frame of some strong elastic wood,
covered with seal or sea lion skin; not a nail is used in making the
frame, but all the various parts are tied firmly together with sinew or
stout twine. This allows a slight give, for the baidarka is expected to
yield to every wave, and in this lies its strength. There may be one,
two, or three round hatches, according to the size of the boat. In these
the occupants kneel, and, sitting on their heels, ply their
sharp-pointed paddles; all paddling at the same time on the same side,
and then all changing in unison to the other side at the will of the
bowman, who sets a rapid stroke. In rough water, kamlaykas--large shirts
made principally of stretched and dried bear gut--are worn, and these
are securely fastened around the hatches. In this way the Aleuts and the
interior of the baidarka remain perfectly dry, no matter how much the
sea breaks and passes over the skin deck.

I had used the baidarka the year before, having made a trip with my
hunters almost around the island of Afognak, and believed it to be an
ideal boat to hunt from. It is very speedy, easily paddled, floats low
in the water, will hold much camp gear, and, when well handled, is most
seaworthy. So it was my purpose this year to again use one in skirting
the shores of the deep bays, and in looking for bears, which show
themselves in the early spring upon the mountain sides, or roam the
beach in search of kelp.

The Kadiak bear finds no trouble in getting all the food he wants during
the berry season and during the run of the various kinds of salmon,
which lasts from June until October. At this period he fattens up, and
upon this fat he lives through his long winter sleep. When he wakes in
the spring he is weak and hardly able to move, so his first aim is to
recover the use of his legs. This he does by taking short walks when the
weather is pleasant, returning to his den every night. This light
exercise lasts for a week or so, when he sets out to feed upon the beach
kelp, which acts as a purge. He now lives upon roots, principally of the
salmon-berry bush, and later nibbles the young grass.

These carry him along until the salmon arrive, when he becomes
exclusively a fish eater until the berries are ripe. I have been told by
the natives that just before he goes into his den he eats berries only,
and his stomach is now so filled with fat that he really eats but
little.

The time when the bears go into their winter quarters depends upon the
severity of the season. Generally it is in early November, shortly
after the cold weather has set in. Most bears sleep uninterruptedly
until spring, but they are occasionally found wandering about in
mid-winter. My natives seemed to think that only those bears are
restless which have found uncomfortable quarters, and that they leave
their dens at this time of year solely for the purpose of finding better
ones. They generally choose for their dens caves high up on the mountain
sides among the rocks and in remote places where they are not likely to
be discovered. The same winter quarters are believed to be used year
after year.

The male, or bull bear, is the first to come out in the spring. As soon
as he recovers the use of his muscles he leaves his den for good and
wanders aimlessly about until he comes upon the track of some female. He
now persistently follows her, and it is at this time that the rutting
season of the Kadiak bear begins, the period lasting generally from the
middle of April until July.

In Eagle Harbor, on Kadiak Island, a native, three years ago, during the
month of January, saw a female bear which he killed near her den. He
then went into the cave and found two very small cubs whose eyes were
not yet open. This would lead to the belief that this species of bear
brings forth its young about the beginning of the new year. At birth the
cubs are very small, weighing but little more than a pound and a half,
and there are from one to four in a litter. Two, however, is the usual
number. The mother, although in a state of semi-torpor, suckles these
cubs in the den, and they remain with her all that year, hole up with
her the following winter, and continue to follow her until the second
fall, when they leave her and shift for themselves.

For many years these bears have been so persistently hunted by the
natives, who are constantly patrolling the shores in their skin canoes,
that their knowledge of man and their senses of smell and hearing are
developed to an extreme degree. They have, however, like most bears,
but indifferent sight. They range in color from a light tawny lion to a
very dark brown; in fact, I have seen some bears that were almost
black. Many people have asked me about their size, and how they compare
in this respect with other bears. The Kadiak bear is naturally extremely
large. His head is very massive, and he stands high at the shoulders.
This latter characteristic is emphasized by a thick tuft of hair which
stands erect on the dorsal ridge just over the shoulders. The largest
bear of this kind which I shot measured 8 feet in a straight line from
his nose to the end of the vertebrae, and stood 51-1/2 inches in a
straight line at the shoulders, not including between 6 and 7 inches of
hair.

Most people have an exaggerated idea of the number of bears on the
Kadiak Islands. Personally I believe that they are too few ever to make
shooting them popular. In fact, it was only by the hardest kind of
careful and constant work that I was finally successful in bagging my
first bear on Kadiak. When the salmon come it is not so difficult to get
a shot, but this lying in wait at night by a salmon stream cannot
compare with seeking out the game on the hills in the spring, and
stalking it in a sportsmanlike manner.

It was more than a week after our landing at Kadiak before the weather
permitted me to go to Afognak, where my old hunters lived, to make our
final preparations. One winter storm after another came in quick
succession, but we did not mind the delay, for we had come early and did
not expect the bears would leave their dens before April.

I decided to take with me on my hunt the same two natives whom I had had
the year before. My head man's name was Fedor Deerinhoff. He was about
forty years of age, and had been a noted sea otter and bear hunter. In
size he was rather larger than the average of his race, and absolutely
fearless. Many stories are told of his hand-to-hand encounters with
these big bears. I think the best one is of a time when he crawled into
a den on his hands and knees, and in the dark, and at close quarters,
shot three. He was unable to see, and the bears' heavy breathing was his
only guide in taking aim.

Nikolai Pycoon, my other native, was younger and shorter in stature, and
had also a great reputation as a hunter, which later I found was fully
justified, and furthermore was considered the best baidarka man of
Afognak. He was a nice little fellow, always good natured, always keen,
always willing, and the only native whom I have ever met with a true
sense of gratitude.

The year before I had made all arrangements to hire for this season a
small schooner, which was to take us to our various shooting grounds. I
was now much disappointed to find that the owner of this schooner had
decided not to charter her. We were, therefore, obliged to engage a very
indifferent sloop, but she was fortunately an excellent sea boat. Her
owner, Charles Payjaman, a Russian, went with us as my friend's
hunter. He was a fisherman and a trapper by profession, and had the
reputation of knowing these dangerous island waters well. His knowledge
of Russian we expected to be of great use to us in dealing with the
natives; Alaska was under Russian control for so many years that that
language is the natural local tongue.

It was the first of April before we got our entire outfit together, and
it was not until four days later that the weather permitted us to hoist
our sail and start for the shooting grounds, of which it was of the
utmost importance that we should make good choice. All the natives
seemed to agree that Kiliuda Bay, some seventy-five miles below the town
of Kadiak, was the most likely place to find bear, and so we now headed
our boat in that direction. It was a most beautiful day for a start,
with the first faint traces of spring in the air. As we skirted the
shore that afternoon I sighted, through the glasses, on some low hills
in the distance, bear tracks in the snow. My Aleuts seemed to think that
the bears were probably near, having come down to the shore in search of
kelp. It promised a pretty fair chance for a shot, but there was
exceedingly bad water about, and no harbor for the sloop to lie, so
Payjaman and my natives advised me not to make the attempt. As one
should take no chances with Alaskan waters, I felt that this was wise,
and we reluctantly passed on.

The next forenoon we put into a large bay, Eagle Harbor, to pick up a
local hunter who was to accompany us to Kiliuda Bay, for both my Aleuts
and the Russian were unacquainted with this locality. Ignati
Chowischpack, the native whose services we secured, was quite a
character, a man of much importance among the Aleuts of this district,
and one who had a thorough knowledge of the country chosen as a hunting
ground.

We expected to remain at Eagle Harbor only part of the day, but
unfortunately were storm-bound here for a week. Several times we
attempted to leave, but each time had to put back, fearing that the
heavy seas we encountered outside would crush in the baidarka, which was
carried lashed to the sloop's deck. It was not until early on the
morning of April 12, just as the sun was topping the mountains, that we
finally reached Kiliuda Bay.

Our hunting grounds now stretched before us as far as the eye could
see. We had by this time passed the tree area, and it was only here and
there in isolated spots that stunted cottonwoods bordered the salmon
streams and scattered patches of alders dotted the mountain sides. In
many places the land rolled gradually back from the shore until the
mountain bases were reached, while in other parts giant cliffs rose
directly from the water's edge, but with the glasses one could generally
command a grand view of this great irregular bay, with its long arms
cutting into the island in all directions.

We made our permanent camp in a large barabara, a form of house so often
seen in western Alaska that it deserves a brief description. It is a
small, dome-shaped hut, with a frame generally made of driftwood, and
thatched with sods and the rank grass of the country. It has no windows,
but a large hole in the roof permits light to enter and serves also as
an outlet for the smoke from the fire, which is built on a rough hearth
in the middle of the barabara. These huts, their doors never locked,
offer shelter to anyone, and are frequently found in the most remote
places. The one which we now occupied was quite large, with ample space
to stow away our various belongings, and we made ourselves most
comfortable, while our Aleuts occupied the small banya, or Russian
bathhouse, which is also generally found by the side of the
barabara. This was to be the base of supplies from which my friend and I
were to hunt in different directions.

The morning after reaching our shooting grounds I started with one of my
natives and the local hunter in the baidarka to get the lay of the
land. Blake and I agreed that it was wise to divide up the country, both
because we could thus cover a much greater territory, and our modes of
hunting differed materially. Although at the time I believed from what I
had heard that Payjaman was an excellent man, I preferred to hunt in a
more careful manner, as is the native custom, in which I had had some
experience the year before. I firmly believe that had Payjaman hunted
as carefully as my Aleuts did, my friend would have been more
successful.

We spent our first day skirting the shores of the entire bay, paddling
up to its very head. Ignati pointed out to Fedor all the most likely
places, and explained the local eccentricities of the various winds--a
knowledge of these being of the first importance in bear hunting. I was
much pleased with the looks of the country, but at the same time was
disappointed to find that in the inner bays there was no trace of
spring, and that the snow lay deep even on the shores down to the high
water mark. Not a bear's track was to be seen, and it was evident that
we were on the grounds ahead of time.

We stopped for tea and lunch about noon at the head of the bay. Near by
a long and narrow arm of water extended inland some three miles, and it
was the country lying adjacent to this and to the head of the bay that I
decided to choose as my hunting grounds.

We had a hard time to reach camp that night, for a severe storm suddenly
burst upon us, and a fierce wind soon swept down from the hills, kicking
up a heavy sea which continually swept over the baidarka's deck, and
without kamlaykas on we surely should have swamped. It grew bitterly
cold, and a blinding snow storm made it impossible to see any distance
ahead, but Ignati knew these waters well, and safely, but half frozen,
we reached the main camp just at dark.

Next day the storm continued, and it was impossible to venture out. My
friend and I passed the time playing piquet, and listening to our
natives, who talked earnestly together, going over many of their strange
and thrilling hunting experiences. We understood but little Russian and
Aleut, yet their expressive gestures made it quite possible to catch the
drift of what was being said. It seemed that Ignati had had a brother
killed a few years ago, while bear hunting in the small bay which lies
between Eagle Harbor and Kiliuda Bay. The man came upon a bear, which
he shot and badly wounded. Accompanied by a friend he followed up the
blood trail, which led into a thick patch of alders. Suddenly he came
upon a large unwounded male bear which charged him unprovoked, and at
such close quarters that he was unable to defend himself. Before his
companion, who was but a short distance away, could reach him, he was
killed. The bear frightfully mangled the body, holding it down with his
feet and using his teeth to tear it apart.

Ignati at once started out to avenge his brother, and killed in quick
succession six bears, allowing their bodies to remain as a warning to
the other bears, not even removing their skins.

During the past few years three men while hunting have been killed by
bears in the same vicinity as Ignati's brother, two instantly, and one
living but a short time. I think it is from these accidents that the
natives in this region have a superstitious dread of a "long-tailed
bear" which they declare roams the hills between Eagle Harbor and
Kiliuda Bay.

The storm which began on the 13th continued until the 17th, and this was
but one of a series. Winter seemed to come back in all its fury, and I
believe that whatever bears had left their winter dens went back to them
for another sleep. It was not until the middle of May that the snow
began to disappear, and spring with its green grass came.

All this time I was camped with my natives at the head of the bay, some
fifteen miles from our base of supplies. On the 23d of April we first
sighted tracks, but it was not until May 15 that I finally succeeded in
bagging my first bear.

The tracks in the snow indicated that the bears began again to come out
of their winter dens the last week in April; and should one wish to make
a spring hunt on the Kadiak Islands, the first of May would, I should
judge, be a good time to arrive at the shooting grounds.

When the wind was favorable, our mode of hunting was to leave camp
before daylight, and paddle in our baidarka up to the head of one of
these long bays, and, leaving our canoe here, trudge over the snow to
some commanding elevation, where we constantly used the glasses upon the
surrounding hillsides, hoping to see bear. We generally returned to camp
a little before noon, but in the afternoon returned to the lookout,
where we remained until it was too dark to see.

When the wind was blowing into these valleys we did not hunt, for we
feared that whatever bears might be around would get our scent and
quickly leave. New bears might come, but none which had once scented us
would remain. For days at a time we were storm-bound, and unable to
hunt, or even leave our little tent, where frequently we were obliged to
remain under blankets both day and night to keep warm.

On May 15, by 4 o'clock, I had finished a hurried breakfast, and with my
two Aleuts had left in the baidarka for our daily watching place. This
was a large mound lying in the center of a valley, some three miles from
where we were camped. On the right of the mound rose a gently sloping
hill with its sides sparsely covered with alders, and at right angles
and before it, extended a rugged mountain ridge with rocky sides
stretching all across our front, while to the left rose another towering
mountain ridge with steep and broken sides. All the surrounding hills
and much of the low country were covered with deep snow. The mountains
on three sides completely hemmed in the valley, and their snowy slopes
gave us an excellent chance to distinguish all tracks. Such were the
grounds which I had been watching for over a month whenever the wind was
favorable.

The sun was just topping the long hill to our right as we reached our
elevated watching place. The glasses were at once in use, and soon an
exclamation from one of my natives told me that new tracks were
seen. There they were--two long unbroken lines leading down from the
mountain on our right, across the valley, and up and out of sight over
the ridge to our left. It seemed as if two bears had simply wandered
across our front, and crossed over the range of mountains into the bay
beyond.

As soon as my hunters saw these tracks they turned to me, and, with
every confidence, said: "I guess catch." Now, it must be remembered that
these tracks led completely over the mountains to our left, and it was
the most beautiful bit of hunting on the part of my natives to know that
these bears would turn and swing back into the valley ahead. To follow
the tracks, which were well up in the heart of our shooting grounds,
would give our wind to all the bears that might be lurking there, and
this my hunters knew perfectly well, yet they never hesitated for one
moment, but started ahead with every confidence.

We threaded our way through a mass of thick alders to the head of the
valley, and then climbing a steep mountain took our stand on a rocky
ridge which commanded a wide view ahead and to our left in the direction
in which the tracks led. We had only been in our new position half an
hour when Nikolai, my head hunter, gripped my arm and pointed high up on
the mountain in the direction in which we had been watching. There I
made out a small black speck, which to the naked eye appeared but a bit
of dark rock protruding through the snow. Taking the glasses I made out
a large bear slowly floundering ahead, and evidently coming
downward. His coat seemed very dark against the white background, and he
was unquestionably a bull of great size. Shortly after I had the
satisfaction of seeing a second bear, which the first was evidently
following. This was, without doubt, a female, by no means so large as
the first, and much lighter in color. The smaller bear was apparently
hungry, and it was interesting to watch her dig through the snow in
search of food. Soon she headed down the mountain side, paying
absolutely no attention to the big male, which slowly followed some
distance in the rear. Shortly she reached a rocky cliff which it seemed
impossible that such a clumsy animal could descend, and I almost
despaired of her making the attempt, but without a pause she wound in
and out, seemingly traversing the steepest and most difficult places in
the easiest manner, and headed for the valley below. When the bull
reached this cliff we lost sight of him; nor could we locate him again
with even the most careful use of the glasses. He had evidently chosen
this secure retreat to lie up in for the rest of the day. If I could
have killed the female without alarming him, and then waited on her
trail, I should undoubtedly have got another shot, as he followed her
after his rest.

It was 8 o'clock when we first located the bears, and for nearly three
hours I had a chance to watch one or both of them through powerful
glasses. The sun had come up clear and strong, melting the crust upon
the snow, so that as soon as the female bear reached the steep mountain
side her downward path was not an easy one. At each step she would sink
up to her belly, and at times would slip and fall, turning somersault
after somersault; now and again she would be buried in the snow so deep
that it seemed impossible for her to go either ahead or backward. Then
she would roll over on her back, and, loosening her hold on the steep
hillside, would come tumbling and slipping down, turning over and over,
sideways and endways, until she caught herself by spreading out all four
legs. In this way she came with each step and turn nearer and
nearer. Finally she reached an open patch on the hillside, where she
began to feed, digging up the roots of the salmon-berry bushes at the
edge of the snow. If now I lost sight of her for a short time, it was
very difficult to pick her up again even with the glasses, so perfectly
did the light tawny yellows and browns of her coat blend in with the
dead grass of the place on which she was feeding.

The wind had been blowing in our favor all the morning, and for once
continued true and steady. But how closely we watched the clouds, to
see that no change in its direction threatened us.

We waited until the bear had left the snow and was quietly feeding
before we made a move, and then we slowly worked ahead and downward,
taking up a new position on a small ridge which was well to leeward, but
still on the opposite side of the valley from the bear. She seemed in an
excellent position for a stalk, and had I been alone I should have tried
it. But the Aleut mode of hunting is to study the direction in which
your game is working, and then take up a position which it will
naturally approach.

Taking our stand, we waited, watching with much interest the great
ungainly creature as she kept nibbling the young grass and digging up
roots. At times she would seem to be heading in our direction, and then
again would turn and slowly feed away. Suddenly something seemed to
alarm her, for she made a dash of some fifty yards down the valley, and
then, seeming to recover her composure, began to feed again, all the
while working nearer and nearer. The bear was now well down in the
bottom of the valley, which was at this point covered with alders and
intersected by a small stream. There were open patches in the
underbrush, and it was my intention to shoot when she passed through one
of these, for the ground was covered with over a foot of snow, which
would offer a very tempting background.

While all this was passing quickly through my mind, she suddenly made
another bolt down the valley, and, when directly opposite our position,
turned at right angles, crossed the brook, and came straight through the
alders into the open, not eighty yards away from us. As she made her
appearance I could not help being greatly impressed by the massive head
and high shoulders on which stood the pronounced tuft of hair. I had
most carefully seen to my sights long before, for I knew how much would
probably depend on my first shot. It surely seemed as if fortune was
with me that day, as at last I had a fair chance at the game I had come
so far to seek. Aiming with the greatest care for the lungs and heart, I
slowly pressed the trigger. The bear gave a deep, angry growl, and bit
for the wound,[4] which told me my bullet was well placed; but she kept
her feet and made a dash for the thicket. I was well above, and so
commanded a fairly clear view as she crashed through the leafless
alders. Twice more I fired, and each time with the most careful aim. At
the last shot she dropped with an angry moan. My hunters shook my hand,
and their faces told me how glad they were at my final success after so
many long weeks of persistent work. Including the time spent last year
and this year, this bear represented eighty-seven days of actual
hunting.

[Footnote 4: When a bullet strikes a Kadiak bear, he will always bite
for the wound and utter a deep and angry growl; whereas of the eleven
bears which my friend and I shot on the Alaska peninsula, although they,
too, bit for the wound, not one uttered a sound.]

I at once started down to look at the bear, when out upon the mountain
opposite the bull was seen. He had heard the shots and was now once
more but a moving black speck on the snow, but it will always be a
mystery to me how he could have heard the three reports of my small-bore
rifle so far away and against a strong wind. My natives suggested that
the shots must have echoed, and in this I think they were right; but
even then it shows how abnormally the sense of hearing has been
developed in these bears.

I was sorry to find that the small-bore rifle did not give as great a
shock as I had expected, for my first two bullets had gone through the
bear's lungs and heart without knocking her off her feet.

The bear was a female, as we had supposed, but judging from what my
natives said, only of medium size. She measured 6 feet 4 inches in a
straight line between the nose and the end of the vertebrae, and 44-5/8
inches at the shoulders. The fur was in prime condition, and of an
average length of 4-1/2 inches, but over the shoulders the mane was two
inches longer. Unfortunately, as in many of the spring skins, there was
a large patch over the rump apparently much rubbed. The general belief
is that these worn patches are made by the bears sliding down hill on
their haunches on the snow; but my natives have a theory that this is
caused by the bears' pelt freezing to their dens and being torn off when
they wake from their winter's sleep.

Although this female was not large for a Kadiak bear, as was proved by
one I shot later in the season, I was much pleased with my final
success, and our camp that night was quite a merry one.

Shortly after killing this bear, Blake and I returned to the trading
post at Wood Island to prepare for a new hunt, this time to the Alaska
Peninsula.

II.

BEAR HUNTING ON THE ALASKA PENINSULA

The year before I had chanced to meet an old pilot who had the
reputation of knowing every nook and corner of the Alaskan coast. He
told me several times of the great numbers of bears that he had often
seen in a certain bay on the Alaska Peninsula, and advised me most
strongly to try this place. We now determined to visit this bay in a
good sized schooner we had chartered from the North American Commercial
Company.

There were numerous delays in getting started, but finally, on May 31,
we set sail, and in two days were landed at our new shooting
grounds. Rarely in modern days does it fall to the lot of amateurs to
meet with better sport than we had for the next month.

The schooner landed us with our natives, two baidarkas, and all our
provisions, near the mouth of the harbor. Here we made our base of
supplies, and the next morning in our two canoes started with our
hunters to explore this wonderful bay. At high tide Chinitna Bay extends
inland some fifteen miles, but at low water is one vast bog of glacial
deposit. Rugged mountains rise on all sides, and at the base of these
mountains there are long meadows which extend out to the high water
mark. In these meadows during the month of June the bears come to feed
upon the young and tender salt grass.

There was a long swell breaking on the beach as we left our base of
supplies, but we passed safely through the line of breakers to the
smooth waters beyond, and now headed for the upper bay. The two
baidarkas kept side by side, and Blake and I chatted together, but all
the while kept the glasses constantly fixed upon the hillsides. We had
hardly gone a mile before a small black bear was sighted; but the wind
was unfavorable, and he got our scent before we could land. This looked
decidedly encouraging, and we continued on in the best of spirits. About
mid-day we went on shore, lunched, and then basked in the sun until the
afternoon, when we again got into the baidarkas and paddled further up
the bay to a place where a wide meadow extends out from the base of the
mountains. Here Nikolai, my head hunter, went on shore with the
glasses, and raising himself cautiously above the bank, took a long look
at the country beyond. It was at once quite evident that he had seen
something, and we all joined him, keeping well hidden from view. There,
out upon the marsh, could be seen two large bears feeding upon the young
grass. They seemed in an almost unapproachable position, and we lay and
watched them, hoping that they would move into a more advantageous
place. After an hour or so they fed back toward the trees, and soon
passed out of sight.

We matched to see which part of the meadow each should watch, and it
fell to my lot to go further up the marsh. I had been only a short time
in this place when a new bear came into sight. We now made a most
beautiful stalk right across the open to within a hundred yards. All
this while a new dog, which I had bought at Kadiak and called Stereke,
had crawled with us flat on his stomach, trembling all over with
excitement as he watched the bear. I had plenty of time to take aim, and
was in no way excited, but missed clean at one hundred yards. At the
report of my rifle Stereke bit himself clear from Nikolai, who was
holding him, and at once made for the bear, which he tackled in a most
encouraging manner, nipping his heels, and then quickly getting out of
the way as the bear charged. But I found that one dog was not enough to
hold these bears, and this one got safely away.

It was a dreary camp that night, for I had missed an easy shot without a
shadow of excuse. We pitched our small tent at the extreme edge of the
marsh behind a large mass of rocks. I turned in thoroughly depressed,
but awoke the next morning refreshed, and determined to retrieve my
careless shooting of the day before. A bad surf breaking on the beach
prevented our going further up the bay in our baidarkas, as we had
planned to do. We loafed in the sun until evening, while our natives
kept constant watch of the great meadow where we had seen the bears the
day before. We had just turned in, although at ten o'clock it was still
daylight, when one of the natives came running up to say that a bear was
in sight, so Blake, with three natives and Stereke, made the stalk. I
had a beautiful chance to watch it from the high rocks beside our
camp. The men were able to approach to within some fifty yards, and
Blake, with his first shot, hit, and with his third killed the bear
before it could get into the brush. Stereke, when loosed, acted in a
gallant manner, and tackled the bear savagely.

Unfortunately no measurements were taken, but the bear appeared to be
somewhat smaller than the female I killed at Kiliuda Bay, and weighed, I
should judge, some 450 pounds. It appeared higher on the legs and less
massive than the Kadiak bear, and had a shorter mane, but was of much
the same tawny color on the back, although darker on the legs and belly.

Two days later we set out from our camp behind the rocks and paddled a
short distance up the bay.

Here we left the baidarkas and crossed a large meadow without sighting
bear. We then followed some miles the banks of a small stream. Leaving
my friend with his two men, I pushed ahead with my natives to
investigate the country beyond. But the underbrush was so dense it was
impossible to see more than a few yards ahead. We had gone some
distance, and Fedor and I had just crossed a deep stream on a rickety
fallen tree, while the other native was following, when I chanced to
look back and saw a small black bear just opposite. He must have smelt
us, and, wanting to see what sort of creature man was, had deliberately
followed up our tracks. Nikolai had my rifle on the other side of the
brook, so I snatched up Fedor's and twice tried to shoot; but the safety
bolt would not work, and when I had it adjusted the bear showed only one
shoulder beyond a tree. It was just drawing back when I pressed the
trigger. The bullet grazed the tree, was deflected, and a patch of hair
was all that I had for what promised the surest of shots.

In the afternoon we made for a place which our hunters declared was a
sure find for bear; but unlike most "sure places," we sighted our game
even before we reached the ground. There they were, two large grizzled
brutes, feeding on the salt marsh grass like two cows. We made a most
exciting approach in our baidarkas, winding in and out, across the open,
up a small lagoon which cut into the meadow where the bears were
feeding. We got to within two hundred yards when they became suspicious,
but could not quite make us out. One now rose on his hind legs to get a
better view, and offered a beautiful chance, but I waited for my friend,
whose turn it was to have first shot, and he delayed, thinking that I
was not ready. The result was that the bears at once made for the woods,
and we both missed.

Stereke again did his part well, catching one of the bears and tackling
him in a noble manner, turning him and doing his best to hold him, but
this was more than one dog could do, and the bear broke away and soon
reached cover.

I am glad to record that with this day's miss ended some of the most
careless shooting I have ever done.

This evening we made our camp on the beach on the other side of the
bay. I was up frequently during the night, for bears were constantly
moving about on the mountain side just behind our sleeping place, but
although I could distinctly hear them, the thick brush prevented my
getting a shot.

In this latitude there is practically no night during the month of June,
and I can recall no more enchanting spot than where we were now camped.
Even my hard day's work would not bring sleep, and I lay with my
faithful dog at my feet and gazed on the vast mountains about us, their
summits capped with snow, while their sides were clothed in the dull
velvet browns of last year's herbage, through which the vivid greens of
a northern summer were rapidly forcing themselves.

It was after five next morning when we left in our two baidarkas for the
extreme head of the bay, where there was another vast meadow. My friend
chose to hunt the right side of this marsh, while I took the left.

On reaching our watching place I settled myself for the day in my fur
rug, and soon dozed off to finish my night's rest, while my men took
turns with the glasses. About ten o'clock a black bear was sighted a
long way off, but he soon wandered into the thicket which surrounded the
marsh on three sides. At twelve o'clock he appeared again, and we now
circled well to leeward and waited where two trails met at the edge of
the meadow, expecting the bear would work down one of them to us. It was
a long tiresome wait, for we were perched upon some tussocks through
which the water soon found its way. About five o'clock we returned to
our original watching place, where my friend joined me.

The wind had been at a slant, and although we had worked safely around
the bear, he must have got the scent of Blake's party, although a long
way off, for my friend reported that the bear was coming in our
direction, as we had counted upon, when he suddenly threw up his head,
gave one whiff, and started for the woods.

On Friday morning, June 7, we made a three o'clock start from where we
had passed the night on the beach. The sun was not over the mountains
for another hour, and there was that great charm which comes in the
early dawn of a summer's day. Blake in his baidarka, and I in mine,
paddled along, side by side, and pushed up to the extreme head of the
bay, where we came upon an old deserted Indian camp of the year before.
Numerous stretchers told of their success with bear; but the remains of
an old fire in the very heart of our shooting grounds warned us that in
this section the bears might have been disturbed; for the Alaskan bear
is very wary, and is quick to take alarm at any unusual scent. We came
back to our camp on the beach by ten o'clock, and had our first
substantial meal of the day; for we had now adopted the Aleutian habit
of taking simply a cup of tea and a piece of bread in order to make the
earliest of starts each morning.

After our mid-day breakfast, we usually took a nap until afternoon; but
this day I was not sleepy, and so read for a while, then I loaded my
rifle, which I always kept within arm's reach, and was just settling my
rugs to turn in, when Stereke gave a sharp bark, and Blake shouted,
"Bear." Seizing my rifle I looked up, and walking toward us on the
beach, just 110 yards away, was a good sized bull bear. My dog at once
made for him, while Blake jumped for his rifle. The bear was just
turning when I fired. He bit for the wound, but uttered no sound, and
was just disappearing in the brush when I fired a hasty second; Blake
and I followed into the thick alders after the dog, which was savagely
attacking the bear. His barking told us where the bear was, and I
arrived just in time to see him make a determined charge at the dog,
which quickly avoided him, and just as quickly renewed the attack.

I forced my way through the alders and got in two close shots, which
rolled him over. It appeared that my first shot had broken his shoulder,
as well as cut the lower portion of the heart; but this bear had gone
some fifty yards, and was still on his feet, when I came up and finished
him off. He was a fair sized bull, six feet two inches in a straight
line along the vertebrae, and stood exactly three feet at the
shoulders. He had evidently been fighting, for one ear was badly torn,
and his skin was much scarred with old and recent wounds. After
removing the pelt the carcass was thrown into the bay, so that there
might be no stench, which my natives declared would be enough to spoil
any future shooting in this locality. This same afternoon we moved our
camp to a new marsh, but the wind was changeable, and we saw nothing.

The next morning we sighted a bear, which fed into the woods before we
had time to come up with him. Shortly after five o'clock the brute made
a second appearance, but as the wind had changed and now blew in the
wrong direction, a stalk could not be made without our scent being
carried into the woods, where many bears were apt to be. We made it a
great point never to make a stalk unless the wind was right, for we were
extremely anxious not to spoil the place by diffusing our scent, and
driving away whatever bears might be lurking near. Therefore, many times
we had a chance to watch bears at only a few hundred yards' distance.

It was most interesting to see how careful these big animals were, and
how, from time to time, they would feel the wind with their noses, and
again stop feeding and listen. No two bears seemed to be built on quite
the same lines. Some were high at the shoulders and then sloped down
toward the rump and nose; and again, others were saddle-backed; still
others stood with their front feet directly under them, making a regular
curve at the shoulders; while others had the front legs wide apart, and
seemed to form a triangle, the apex of which was at the shoulders.

Their range of color seemed to be from very dark, silver-tipped, to a
very light dirty yellow, but with dark legs and belly.

This evening, just as we were having our tea, another bear made his
appearance. The first, which we had been watching, evidently heard him
coming through the woods, and as the second came out into the open the
former vanished. The new one was a dirty yellowish white, with very dark
belly and legs, which gave him a most comical appearance.

The wind still continued unfavorable, and my friend and I passed an
extremely interesting evening with the glasses, for this watching game,
especially bear, gives me almost as much pleasure as making the actual
stalk.

About ten o'clock the wind changed, and Blake went after the bear, but
unfortunately missed at about one hundred yards.

The following day opened dull, and we spent the morning keeping a sharp
watch on the marsh. About ten o'clock a large bear was seen to come out
from the trees. The wind was wrong, and as the bear was in an
unapproachable position I had to sit with folded arms and watch him. I
used the glasses with much interest until shortly after four o'clock,
when he slowly fed into the brush.

We had just finished supper when we saw another bear in a better
position, and I proceeded to make the stalk, going part of the way in
the baidarka, for the great meadow was intersected by a stream from
which small lagoons made off in all directions. The wind was very
baffling, and although we successfully reached a clump of brush in the
middle of the marsh, the bear for some time continued to graze in an
unapproachable spot. We had almost given up hope of getting a shot,
when he turned and fed slowly some fifty yards in a new direction, which
was up-wind. This was our chance. Quickly regaining the baidarka, we
paddled as noiselessly and rapidly as possible up the main stream of the
marsh to a small lagoon, which now at high tide had sufficient water to
float us.

There was great charm in stalking game in this manner, although I was,
in a sense, but a passenger in my natives' hands. But it was fascinating
to watch their keenness and skill as they guided the frail craft round
the sharp turns, the noiseless use of the paddles, the light in their
eye as they constantly stood up in the canoe to keep a hidden gaze upon
the game ahead, watching its every movement as well as the local eddies
and currents in the light evening breeze. All was so in keeping with the
sombre leaden clouds overhead, and the grizzled sides of the ungainly
brute, blending in with the background of weather-beaten tree trunks and
the dull gray rocks. And so, silently and swiftly, stopping many times
when the bear's head was up, we approached nearer and nearer, until my
head man whispered, _Boudit_ (enough), and I knew that I was to
have a fair shot. Stealthily raising my head above the bank I saw the
bear feeding, only seventy-five yards away. Creeping cautiously out of
the boat I lay flat upon my stomach, rifle cocked and ready, waiting for
a good shot. Soon it came. The bear heard some sound in the forest, and
raised his head. Now was my chance, and the next second he dropped
without a sound; he struggled to rise, but I could see he was anchored
with a broken shoulder. My men were unable to restrain themselves any
longer, and as I shot for the second time, their rifles cracked just
after mine. We now rushed up to close quarters. The bear, shot through
the lungs, was breathing heavily and rapidly choking.

Suddenly I heard a yap, and then, out over the marsh, came Stereke at
full speed. I had left him with my friend, as we thought we might have
to do some delicate stalking across the open. He had sighted the bear,
and watched our approach all a-tremble, and at the report of my rifle
there was no holding him. Over the ground he came in great bounds, and
arrived just in time to give the bear a couple of shakes before he
breathed his last. We carried the entire carcass to the baidarka, and
even the cartridge shells were taken away, to avoid tainting the place
with an unusual scent.

The next day we returned to the main camp, for Fedor, who was ill, had
become very weak, and was in no condition to stand any hardships. We
left him at the main camp in care of Payjaman. He was greatly
depressed, and seemed to give way completely, frequently saying that he
never expected to see his home again. Knowing the Aleut's character so
well, I much feared that his mental state might work fatal results. Our
medicines were of the simplest, and there was but little we could
do. Fortunately he did recover, but it was not until two weeks later,
when our hunt was nearly over, that he began to get better.

Three days afterward we were back again at our camp behind the rocks. We
had wanted rain for some time to wash out all scent. Then again bears
are supposed to move about more freely in such weather. Therefore we
were rather pleased when the wind changed, bringing a northwest storm
which continued all the next day. The lofty mountains were rapidly
losing the snow on their summits, and the night's rain had wrought
marvels in their appearance, seeming to bring out every shade of green
on their wooded slopes. One of our natives was kept constantly on the
lookout, and a dozen times a day both Blake and I would leave our books
and climb to the watching place for a view across the great meadow. By
this time we knew the bear trails and the most tempting feeding grounds,
and the surest approaches to the game when it had once come into the
open. Therefore when I was told this evening that a bear had been
sighted, I felt pretty sure of getting a shot. He had not come well out
into the open, and was clearly keeping near cover and working parallel
to the brush. If he continued in this direction he would soon be out of
sight. Our only chance was to make a quick approach, and Nikolai and I
were immediately under way, leaving my dog with my friend, who was to
loose him in case I got a shot.

The wind was coming in great gusts across our front, and the corner
where the bear was feeding offered a dangerous place for eddies and
back-currents against the mountain side. In order to avoid these, we
kept just inside the woods. Nikolai going first showed the greatest
skill in knowing just how close to the wind we could go. We quickly
reached the place where we expected to sight the bear, but he was hidden
in the bed of the river, and it was some minutes before we could make
out the top of his head moving above the grass. Then noiselessly we
crawled up as the bear again fed slowly into view. He was now about 125
yards away, and offered an excellent shot as he paused and raised his
head to scent the breeze; but Nikolai whispered, "No," and we worked
nearer, crawling forward when the bear's head was down, and lying flat
and close when his head was up.

It is curious to note that often when game is being stalked it becomes
suspicious, although it cannot smell, hear, or see the stalker;
instinct, perhaps--call it what you will. And now this bear turned and
began moving slowly toward cover. For some time he was hidden from
view, and then, just before he would finally vanish from sight, he
paused a moment, offering a quartering shot. The lower half of his body
was concealed by the grass, but it was my last chance, and I took it,
aiming for the lungs and rather high in order to get a clear shot. I saw
as he bit for the wound that the bullet was well placed, and as he
turned and lumbered across our front, I fired two more deliberate shots,
one going through the fore leg and one breaking a hind leg.

Nikolai also fired, giving the bear a slight skin wound, and hitting the
hind leg just above where one of my bullets had previously struck. As
the bear entered the brush we both ran up, my hunter going to the left
while I went a little below to head the bear off. We soon came upon him,
and Nikolai, getting the first sight, gave him another bullet through
the lungs with my heavy rifle, and in a few moments he rolled over dead.

It was my thought always to keep a wounded bear from getting into the
brush, as the blood trail would have ruined future shooting.

I think it important to point out that when my bullet struck this bear
he bit for the wound. As he did so he was turned from his original
direction, which would have carried him in one bound out of sight among
the trees, and instead turned and galloped across our front, thereby
giving me an opportunity to fire two more shots. It frequently happened
that bears were turned from their original direction to the sides upon
which they received the first bullet, and we always gave this matter
careful consideration when making an approach.

My Aleuts were not permitted to shoot unless we were following up a
wounded bear in the thick brush; but I found it most difficult to keep
them to this rule. The large hole of the bullet from my .50-caliber which
Nikolai carried made it easy to distinguish his hits, and if a bear had
received the mortal wound from his rifle, I should not have kept the
skin.

The pelt of this bear which we had just killed was in excellent
condition, and although he was not fat, he was of fair size, measuring 6
feet 3-1/8 inches along the vertebrae.

Great care was taken as usual to pick up the empty cartridge shells, and
we pulled up the bloody bits of grass, throwing them into a brook, into
which we put also the bear's carcass.

The storm continued for several days, and was accompanied by an
unfavorable wind, which drew up into all our shooting grounds. We kept
quietly in camp, which was so situated that although we were just
opposite the great marsh, our scent was carried safely away. Then we
were most careful to have only small fires for our cooking, and we were
extremely particular to select dry wood, so that there would be as
little smoke as possible.

All this while we kept a constant watch upon the meadow, but no bears
made their appearance.

On the morning of the 19th, my friend and his hunter went up the shore
to investigate a small marsh lying a mile or so from camp. Here they saw
that the grass had been recently nibbled, and that there were fresh
signs about. They returned to this spot again that evening and sighted a
bear. The bear fed quickly up to within sixty-five yards, when Blake
rolled him over. This bear was not a large one, and was of the usual
tawny color.

The next morning a bear was seen by my natives in the big meadow by our
camp, but he did not remain long enough for a stalk. At 9:30 he again
came out into the open, and Nikolai and I made a quick approach, but the
bear, although he was not alarmed, did not wait long enough for us to
get within range. We had skirted the marsh, keeping just inside of the
thicket, and now when the bear disappeared we settled ourselves for a
long wait should he again come into the open. We were well hidden from
view, and the wind blew slanting in our faces and across our front. I
had just begun to think that we should not get a shot until the bear
came out for his evening feed, when Nikolai caught my arm and pointed
ahead. There, slowly leaving the dense edge of the woods, was a new
bear, not so large as the first, but we could see at a glance that she
had a beautiful coat of a dark silver-tip color.

Removing boots and stockings, and circling around, we came out about
seventy-five yards from where we had last seen the bear; but she had
moved a short distance ahead, and offered us a grand chance for a close
approach. Keeping behind a small point which made out into the open, we
were able to crawl up to within fifty yards, and then, waiting until the
bear's head was up, I gave her a quartering shot behind the
shoulders. She half fell, and bit for the wound, and as she slowly
started for the woods I gave her another shot which rolled her
over. This bear proved to be a female, the first we had shot upon the
mainland, probably the mate of the bear we had originally attempted to
stalk. The skin, although small, was the most beautiful I have ever
killed.

Upon examining the internal effects of my shots, I was disappointed to
find that my first bullet, on coming in contact with one of the ribs,
had torn away from the metal jacket and had expanded to, such an extent
that it lost greatly in penetration. I had of late been forced to the
conclusion that the small-bore rifle I was using on such heavy game
lacked the stopping force I had credited it with, and that the bullets
were not of sufficient weight.

The next morning I sent our men to the main camp for provisions, for we
now intended to give this marsh a rest, and go to the head of the bay.
They returned that evening, and reported that they had seen a bear on
the mountain side; they had stalked to within close range, and had made
an easy kill. They had but one rifle with them, and had taken turns,
Ivan having the first shot, while Nikolai finished the bear off. This
skin was a beautiful one, of light yellowish color, and although our men
wanted to present it to us, neither Blake nor I cared to bring it home
with the trophies we had shot.

On June 23 we turned our baidarkas' bows to the upper bay, at the head
of which we ascended a small river that wound through a vast meadow
until the stream met the mountains. Here we unloaded our simple camp
gear, and while the men prepared breakfast, Blake and I ascended an
elevation which commanded an uninterrupted view of the grassy plain. No
bears were in sight, so we had time and undisturbed opportunity to enjoy
the beauty of the scene. We lay for some time basking in the sun,
talking of books and people, and of many subjects of common
interest. Now and then one would take the glasses and scan the outskirts
of the vast meadow which stretched before us. All at once Blake gave a
low exclamation and pointed to the west. I followed the direction of his
gaze, and saw four bears slowly leaving the woods. They were at some
distance, and we did not think we had time to reach them before they
would probably return to the underbrush for their mid-day sleep, so for
the present we let them go.

After breakfast, as they were still In the same place, we attempted the
stalk, going most of the way in our baidarkas, winding in and out
through the meadow in the small lagoons which intersected it in all
directions. Every little while the men would ascend the banks with the
glasses, thus keeping a watchful eye upon the bears' movements. Taking
a time when they had fed into the underbrush, we made a quick circle to
leeward over the open, then reaching the edge of the thicket, we
approached cautiously to a selected watching place. We reached this
spot shortly after one o'clock. The bears had entered the woods, so we
settled ourselves for a long wait. It was Blake's turn to shoot, which
meant that he was to have an undisturbed first shot at the largest bear,
and after he had fired I could take what was left.

Just before three o'clock three bears again made their appearance. Two
were yearlings which in the fall would leave their mother and shift for
themselves, and one much larger, which lay just at the edge of the
underbrush. Had these yearlings not been with the mother she would not
have come out so early in the afternoon, and, as it was, she kept in the
shadow of the alders, while the two smaller ones fed out some distance
from the woods.

We now removed our boots, and, with Stereke well in hand, for he smelt
the bears and was tugging hard on his collar, noiselessly skirted the
woods, keeping some tall grass between the bears and ourselves. In this
way we approached to within one hundred yards. Twice one of the smaller
animals rose on his hind legs and looked in our direction; but the wind
was favorable, and we were well concealed, so they did not take alarm.

My friend decided to shoot the mother, while I was to reserve my fire
until after his shot. I expected that at the report of his rifle the
bear I had chosen would pause a moment in surprise, and thus offer a
good standing shot. As my friend's rifle cracked, the bear I had
selected made a sudden dash for the woods, and I had to take him on the
run. At my first shot he turned a complete somersault, and then, quickly
springing up, again made a dash for cover. I fired a second time, and
rolled him over for good and all. Stereke was instantly slipped, and
made at once for my bear. By the time we had run up he was shaking and
biting his hindquarters in a most approved style. We at once put him
after the larger bear, which Blake had wounded, and his bark in the
thick alders told us he had located her. We all followed in and found
that the bear, although down, was still alive. Blake gave her a final
shot through the lungs.

The third bear got away, but I believe it was wounded by Nikolai. The
one that Blake had killed was the largest female we got on the
Peninsula, measuring 6 feet 6 feet 6-1/2 inches along the vertebrae.

It is interesting to note that the two yearlings differed greatly in
color. One was a grizzled brown, like the mother, while the other was
very much lighter, of a light dirty yellowish color.

We had watched these bears for some hours in the morning, and I feel
positive that the mother had no cubs of this spring with her; yet on
examination milk was found in her breasts. My natives told me that
frequently yearling cubs continue to suckle, and surely we had positive
proof of this with the large female bear.

On our way back to camp that night we saw two more bears on the other
side of the marsh, but they did not stay in the open sufficiently long
to allow us to come up.

The mosquitoes had by this time become almost unbearable, and it was
late before they permitted us to get to sleep. About 3 A.M. it began to
rain, but I was so tired that I slept on, although my pillow and
blankets were soon well soaked. As the rain continued, we finally put up
our small tent; but everything had become thoroughly wet, and we passed
a most uncomfortable day.

In the afternoon a black bear appeared not far from our camping
place. My friend went after this with his hunter, who made a most
wonderful stalk. The bear was in an almost unapproachable position, and
the two men appeared to be going directly down wind; but Ivan insisted
that there was a slight eddy in the breeze, and in this he must have
been correct, for he brought Blake up to within sixty yards, when my
friend killed the bear with a bullet through the brain.

I think it is interesting to note that our shooting grounds were the
extreme western range of the black bear. A few years ago they were not
found in this locality, but it is quite evident that they are each year
working further and further to the westward.

The next day the heavy rain still continued. The meadow was now one
vast bog, and the small lagoons were swollen into deep and rapid
streams. Everything was wet, and we passed an uncomfortable day. Our
two hunters were camped about fifty yards off under a big rock, and I
think must have had a pretty hard time of it, but all the while they
kept a sharp lookout.

About one o'clock the men reported that a large bear had been seen some
distance off, but that it had remained in sight only a short time. We
expected this bear would again make his appearance in the afternoon, and
in this surmise we were correct, for he came out into the open three
hours later, when Nikolai and I with Stereke made the stalk. We circled
well to leeward, fording the many rapid streams with great
difficulty. The rain had melted the snow on the hills, and we frequently
had to wade almost up to our shoulders in this icy water.

In crossing one of the lagoons Stereke was carried under some fallen
trees, and for a while I very much feared that my dog would be
drowned. The same thing almost happened to myself, for the swift current
twice carried me off my feet.

The bear had fed well into the open, and it was impossible, even by the
most careful stalking, to get nearer than a small patch of tall grass
about 175 yards away. I put up my rifle to shoot, but found that the
front sight was most unsteady, for I was wet to the skin and shaking all
over with cold. Half expecting to miss, I pressed the trigger, and was
not greatly surprised to see my bullet splash in the marsh just over the
bear's head. He saw the bullet strike on the other side, and now came in
our direction, but Stereke, breaking loose from Nikolai, turned him. He
now raced across our front at about 125 yards, with the dog in close
pursuit. This gave me an excellent chance, and I fired three more
shots. At my last, I saw the bear bite for his shoulder, showing that my
bullet was well placed. He continued to dash ahead, when Nikolai fired,
also hitting him in the shoulder with the heavy rifle. He dropped, but
gamely tried to rise and face Stereke, who savagely attacked his
quarters. Nikolai now fired again, his bullet going in at the chest,
raking him the entire length, and lodging under the skin at the hind
knee joint. Unfortunately this bear fell in so much water that it was
impossible to take any other accurate measurement than the one along his
back. This was the largest bear we shot on the mainland, and the one
measurement that I was able to take was 6 feet 10 inches along the
vertebrae.

[Illustration: THE HUNTER AND HIS HOME]

On examining the internal effects of his wounds, I found that my bullet
had struck the shoulder blade and penetrated one lung, but had gone to
pieces on coming in contact with the bone. Although it would have
eventually proved a mortal wound, the shock at the time was not
sufficient to knock the bear off his feet.

The next morning the storm broke, and we started back to our camp behind
the rocks, for the skins we had recently shot needed to be cleaned and
dried. We reached camp that afternoon, where I found my old hunter,
Fedor, who was now better, and had come to join us. He had arrived the
night before, and reported that he had seen three bears on the marsh. He
said he had watched them all the evening, and that the next morning two
more had made their appearance. He could no longer withstand this
temptation, and just before we had arrived had shot a small black bear
with an excellent skin.

Two days after, a bear was reported in the meadow, and as it was my
friend's turn to shoot, he started with his hunter to make the stalk. It
was raining at the time, and I was almost tempted to lie among my
blankets; but my love of sport was too strong, and, armed with powerful
glasses, I joined the men on the rocks to watch the hunters.

The bear had fed well out into the meadow not far from a small clump of
trees. In order to reach this clump of trees, Blake and Ivan were
obliged to wade quite a deep stream, and had removed their
clothes. Unfortunately my friend carelessly left his coat, in the pocket
of which were all the extra cartridges for his and Ivan's rifles.

I saw them reach the clump of trees, and then turned the glasses on the
bear. At the first shot he sprang back in surprise, while Blake's bullet
went high. The bear now located the shot, and began a quick retreat to
the woods, when one of my friend's bullets struck him, rolling him over.
He instantly regained his feet, and continued making for cover, walking
slowly and looking back over his shoulder all the while. Blake now fired
another shot, and again the bear was apparently badly hit. He moved at
such a slow pace that I thought he had surely received a mortal wound.

Entirely against orders, Ivan now shot three times in quick succession,
hitting the bear with one shot in the hind leg, his other two shots
being misses. Blake now rushed after the bear with his hunter following
some fifty yards behind, and approached to within ten steps, when he
fired his last cartridge, hitting the bear hard. The beast fell upon its
head, but once more regaining its feet, continued toward the woods. At
this point Ivan fired his last cartridge, but missed. The bear continued
for several steps, while the two hunters stood with empty rifles
watching. Suddenly, quick as a flash, he swung round upon his hind legs
and gave one spring after Blake, who, not understanding his Aleut's
shouts not to run, started across the marsh, with the bear in close
pursuit. At every step the bear was gaining, and Ivan, appreciating that
unless the bear's attention was distracted, my friend would soon be
pulled down, began waving his arms and shouting at the top of his voice,
in order to attract the bear's attention from Blake. The latter saw
that his hunter was standing firm, and, taking in the situation,
suddenly stopped. The bear charged to within a few feet of the two men;
but, when he saw their determined stand, paused, and, swinging his head
from side to side, watched them for some seconds, apparently undecided
whether to charge home or leave them. Then he turned, and, looking back
over his shoulder, made slowly for the woods.

This bear while charging had his head stretched forward, ears flat, and
teeth clinched, with his lips drawn well back, and his eyes glaring. I
am convinced that it was only Ivan's great presence of mind which
prevented a most serious accident.

It is a strange fact that a well placed bullet will knock the fight out
of such game; but if they are once thoroughly aroused it takes much more
lead to kill them. When they had got more cartridges my friend with two
natives proceeded to follow this bear up; but though they tracked him
some miles, he was never recovered.

The Aleuts when they follow up a wounded bear in thick cover, strip to
the skin, for they claim in this way they are able to move with greater
freedom, and at the same time there are no clothes to catch in the brush
and make noise. They go slowly and are most cautious, for frequently
when a bear is wounded, if he thinks that he is being pursued, he will
swing around on his own trail and spring out from the side upon the
hunters.

The next day I started with my two natives to visit a meadow well up the
bay.

As we had but a day or two left before the schooner would come to take
us away, we headed in the only direction in which the wind was
favorable. We left camp about three o'clock in the afternoon, following
the shore with the wind quartering in our faces. We had gone but a mile
from camp when I caught an indistinct outline of a bear feeding on the
grass at the edge of the timber, about 125 yards away. I quickly fired,
missing through sheer carelessness.

At the report the bear jumped sideways, unable to locate the sound, and
my next bullet struck just above his tail and ranged forward into the
lungs. Fedor now fired, missing, while I ran up with Nikolai, firing
another shot as I ran, which knocked the bear over. Stereke savagely
attacked the bear, biting and shaking him, and seeing that he was
breathing his last, I refrained from firing again, as the skin was
excellent.

This bear had had an encounter with a porcupine. One of his paws was
filled with quills, and in skinning him we found that some quills had
worked well up the leg and lodged by the ankle joint, making a most
loathsome wound.

This bear was almost as large as the one I had last shot at the head of
the bay, and his pelt made a grand trophy. I was much disgusted with
myself that afternoon for missing my first shot. It is not enough simply
to get your bear, but one should always endeavor to kill with the first
shot, otherwise much game will be lost, for the first is almost always
the easiest shot, hence one should kill or mortally wound at that
chance.

This was the last bear that we shot on the Alaska Peninsula. I had been
fortunate in killing seven brown bears, while Blake had killed three
brown and one black, and our natives had killed one brown and one black
bear, making a total of thirteen between the 7th and 28th of June.

The skulls of these brown bears we sent to Dr. Merriam, Chief of the
Biological Survey, at Washington, and they proved to be most interesting
from a scientific point of view, for from them the classification of the
bears of the Alaska Peninsula has been entirely changed, and it seems
that we were fortunate enough to bring out material enough to establish
a new species as well as a new sub-species.

The teeth of these two kinds of bears show a marked and uniform
difference, proving conclusively that there is no interbreeding between
the species. I was told by Dr. Merriam that the idea which is so
commonly believed, that different species of bears interbreed like dogs,
is entirely wrong.

III.

MY BIG BEAR OF SHUYAK

As I had been fortunate in shooting bears upon the Island of Kadiak and
the Alaska Peninsula, nothing remained but for me to obtain a specimen
from one of the outlying islands of the Kadiak group, to render my trip
in every way successful.

I therefore determined to take my two natives and hunt from a baidarka
the deep bays of the Island of Afognak, while Blake, not yet having
obtained his bear from Kadiak, went back to hunt there.

He had been extremely good to his men, and in settling with them on his
return from the Alaska Peninsula had good-naturedly paid the excessive
demands they made. The result was that his kindness was mistaken for
weakness, and just as he was about to leave his hunters struck for an
increase of pay. He sent them to the right-about, and fortunately
succeeded in filling their places.

A sportsman in going into a new country owes it to those who follow to
resist firmly exorbitant demands and at the same time to be fair and
just in all his dealings.

I have already described bear hunting in the spring, when we stalked our
game upon the snowy hillsides, and again on the Alaska Peninsula, where
we hunted across the open on foot, and also in the baidarka. I will now
speak of another form.

Toward the end of June the red salmon begin to run. These go up only the
streams that have their sources in lakes. After the red salmon, come the
humpbacks, and after the humpbacks, the dog salmon. Both of these latter
in great numbers force their way up all the streams, and are the
favorite food of the bears, which come down from the mountains by deep,
well-defined trails to catch the fish in the shallow streams. When the
salmon have begun to run, the only practical way of hunting these bears
is by watching some likely spot on the bank of a stream.

Early in July Blake and I parted, intending to meet again two weeks
later. My friend sailed away in a small schooner, while I left with my
two natives in the baidarka. In Fedor's place I had engaged a native by
the name of Lofka. We three paddled with a will, as we were anxious to
reach a deep bay on the north side of the Island of Afognak as soon as
possible.

This was all familiar country to me, for I had spent over a month in
this locality the year before, and as we camped for the night I could
hardly realize that twelve months had gone by since I left this
beautiful spot. For the Island of Afognak, with its giant cliffs and
deep bays, is to my mind one of the most picturesque regions I have ever
seen.

The next morning the wind was unfavorable, but in the afternoon we were
able to visit one of the salmon streams. The red salmon had come, but it
would be another week or more before the humpbacks would begin their
run. It was a bleak day, with the rain driving in our faces. We forced
our way up the banks of a stream for some miles, following well-defined
bear trails through the tall grass. Some large tracks were seen, but we
sighted no game. We returned to camp after ten o'clock that night, wet
to the skin and chilled through. The following day was a repetition of
this, only under worse weather conditions, if that were possible.

I now decided to push on to a large bay on the northeast side of the
island. This is locally known as Seal Bay, and is supposed to be without
question the best hunting ground on Afognak.

Unfortunately a heavy wind detained us in Paramonoff Bay for two
days. The morning after the storm broke we made a four o'clock start.
There was a strong favoring breeze, and we made a sail of one of the
blankets. The baidarka fairly flew, but it was rather ticklish work, as
the sea was quite rough. Early that afternoon we turned into the narrow
straits which lie between the islands of Afognak and Shuyak. Shuyak is
uninhabited, but some natives have hunting barabaras there. Formerly
this island contained great numbers of silver gray foxes. A few years
ago some white trappers visited it and put out poison. The result was
the extermination of all the foxes upon the island, for not only the
foxes that ate the poison died, but the others which ate the poisoned
carcasses. The hunters obtained but one skin, as the foxes died in
their holes or in the woods, and were not found until their pelts were
spoiled. This is a fair example of the great need for Alaskan game laws.

At the present time Shuyak is rich in bear and in land otter, and I can
imagine no better place for a national game preserve. It has lakes and
salmon streams, and would be an ideal place to stock.

The straits between Shuyak and Afognak are extremely dangerous, for the
great tides from Cook Inlet draw through this narrow passage. My nerve
was tested a bit as the baidarka swept by the shore, for had it once got
well started we should have been drawn into the rapids and then into a
long line of angry breakers beyond. At one point it seemed as if we were
heading right into these dangerous waters, and then abruptly turning at
a sharp angle, we glided around a point into a shallow bay. Circling
this shore we successfully passed inside the line of breakers and soon
met the long ground swell of the Pacific, while Seal Bay stretched for
many miles inland on the other side.

It had been a long day, but as the wind was favorable we stopped only
for a cup of tea and then pushed on to the very head of the bay. Here,
at the mouth of a salmon stream, we came upon many fresh bear tracks,
and passed the night watching. As we had seen nothing by four o'clock in
the morning, we cautiously withdrew, and, going some distance down the
shore, camped in an old hunting barabara. It had been rather a long
stretch, when one considers that we had breakfasted a little over
twenty-four hours before. Watching a salmon stream by night is poor
sport, but it is the only kind of hunting that one can do at this time
of the year.

I slept until seven o'clock, when the men called me, and after a cup of
tea we started for the salmon stream, which we followed up beyond where
we had watched it the night previous. We were very careful to wade so as
not to give our scent to any bears which might approach the stream from
below. There were many tracks and deep, well-used trails leading in all
directions, while every few yards we came upon places where the tall
grass was trampled down, showing where bears had been fishing. These
bear trails are quite a feature of the Alaskan country, and some of them
are two feet wide and over a foot deep, showing that they have been in
constant use for many years.

That night we heard a bear pass within ten yards of us, but could not
see it. We returned to camp next morning at five o'clock, and I wrote up
my journal, for this night work is extremely confusing, and one
completely loses track of the days unless careful.

My men came to me after their mid-day sleep with very cheerful
countenances, and assured me that there was no doubt but that I should
surely soon meet with success, for the palm of Nikolai's hand had been
itching, and he had dreamed of blood and a big dog fighting, while
Lofka's eyelid trembled. My hunters told me in all seriousness that
these signs never failed.

In the afternoon we decided to watch a new place. We carried the
baidarka up a small stream and launched it in quite a large and
picturesque lake. We slowly paddled along the shores and watched near
the mouths of several salmon streams. By twelve o'clock we had not even
seen a track, so I decided to return to camp and get some much needed
sleep. The natives were to call me early the next morning, for I had
decided to return to Paramonoff Bay.

I think this was the only time in my hunting life that I was
deliberately lazy; but, although my natives called me several times, I
slept right on until nine o'clock. I was strongly tempted when we got
under way to start back by continuing around the Island of Afognak; but
Nikolai was anxious to have me give Paramonoff Bay another trial. He
thought the run of the humpback salmon might have begun since we left,
and if this was so, we were likely to find some large bears near the
streams we had watched the week before. I had great confidence in his
judgment, and therefore decided to retrace our steps.

We made a start about ten o'clock, but after a couple of hours'
paddling, when we had met a fair tide to help us on, I lit my pipe and
allowed my men to do all the work, while I lay back among my rugs half
dreaming in the charm of my surroundings. Myriads of gulls flew
overhead, uttering their shrill cries, while now and then the black
oyster-catchers with their long red bills would circle swiftly around
the baidarka, filling the air with their sharp whistles, and seemingly
much annoyed at our intrusion. Many different kinds of ducks rose before
us, and the ever-present eagles watched us from the lofty rocks. We soon
turned the rugged headland and were once more in the swift tide of
Shuyak Straits, where the water boiled and eddied about us as we sped
quickly on.

Nikolai now pointed out one of his favorite hunting grounds for seals,
and asked if he might not try for one; so we turned into a big bay, and
he soon had the glasses in use. He at once sighted several lying on some
rocks, and we had just started in their direction when Nikolai suddenly
stopped paddling, again seized the glasses, and looked excitedly across
the straits to the Shuyak shore. Following the direction of his gaze I
saw upon the beach a black speck which my native at once pronounced to
be a bear. He was nosing around among some seaweed and turning over the
rocks in search of food. Each one of us now put all his strength into
every stroke in order to reach the other side before the bear could
wander off. We cautiously landed behind some big rocks, and quickly
removing our boots my hunter and I were soon on shore and noiselessly
peering through the brush to the place where we had last seen the bear;
but he had disappeared.

The wind was favorable, and we knew that he had not been alarmed. It
took us some time to hit off his trail, for he had wandered in all
directions before leaving this place; but after it was once found, his
footprints in the thick moss made tracking easy, and we moved rapidly
on. We had not expected a long stalk, and our feet were badly punished
by the devil clubs which were here most abundant. We could see by the
tracks that the bear had not been alarmed, and knew that we should soon
come up with him. After a mile or so the trail led in the direction of a
low marsh where the coast line makes a big bend inward, so apparently we
had crossed a long point into a bay beyond.

I at once felt sure that the bear was near, having probably come to this
beach to feed, and as Nikolai looked at me and smiled I knew he, too,
felt that we were on a warm trail.

We had just begun to descend toward the shore when I thought I heard a
slight noise ahead. Keeping my eyes fixed in that direction, I
whispered to Nikolai, who was standing a few feet in front of me,
intently peering to the right. Suddenly I caught just a glimpse of a
tawny, brownish bit of color through the brush a short distance
ahead. Quickly raising my rifle I had just a chance for a snap shot, and
the next instant a large hear made a dash through some thick
underbrush. It was but an indistinct glimpse which I had had, and before
I could throw another cartridge into the barrel of my rifle the bear was
out of sight. Keeping my eyes moving at about the rate of speed I
judged he was going, I fired again through the trees, and at once a deep
and angry growl told me that my bullet had gone home.

Then we raced ahead, my hunter going to the left while I entered the
thick brush into which the bear had disappeared. I had gone but a short
distance when I heard Nikolai shoot three times in rapid succession, and
as quickly as I could break through I hurried in his direction. It
seemed that as we separated, Nikolai had at once caught sight of the
bear slowly making away. He immediately fired but missed; at the report
of his rifle the bear turned and came toward him, but was too badly
wounded by my first two shots to be dangerous. At close range Nikolai
fired two more shots, and it was at this moment that I joined him. The
bear was down, but trying hard to get upon his feet, and evidently in an
angry mood, so I ran up close and gave him another shot, which again
knocked him over.

Now for the first time I had a good view of the bear, which proved to be
a very large one. As my men declared that this was one of the largest
they had ever seen, I think we may safely place it as a fair example of
the Kadiak species. Unfortunately I had no scales with me, and could
not, therefore, take its weight; but the three of us were unable to
budge either end from the ground, and after removing the pelt the
carcass appeared to be as large as a fair sized ox. We had much
difficulty in skinning him, for he fell on his face, and it took us some
half hour even to turn him over; we were only able to do this by using
his legs as levers. It required over two hours to remove the pelt.
Then we had tea and shot the bear all over again many times, as we sat
chatting before the fire.

It seemed that at the time when I had first caught sight of this bear,
Nikolai had just located the bear which we had originally seen and were
following, and it was a great piece of luck my taking this snap shot,
for the other bear was much smaller.

We took the skin and skull with us, while I made arrangements with my
natives to return some months later and collect all the bones, for I
decided to present the entire skeleton to the National Museum.

It was six o'clock when we again made a start. I had a deep sense of
satisfaction as I lay lazily back in the baidarka with the large skin at
my feet, only occasionally taking the paddle, for it had been a hard
trip, and I felt unlike exerting myself. We camped that night in a
hunting barabara which belonged to Nikolai, and was most picturesquely
situated on a small island.

My natives were extremely fond of bear meat, and they sat long into the
night gorging themselves. Each one would dig into the kettle with his
fork, and bringing out a big chunk would crowd as much as possible into
his mouth, and holding it there with his teeth would cut off with his
hunting knife a liberal portion, which he would swallow after a munch or
two.

I had tried to eat Kadiak bear before, but it has rather a bitter taste,
and this one was too tough to be appetizing. The flesh of the bears
which we had killed on the Alaska Peninsula was excellent and without
this strong gamy flavor.[5]

[Footnote 5: The true Kadiak bear is found only on the Kadiak Islands
and not on the mainland.]

The next morning we made an early start, for to save this large skin I
had decided to push on with all haste to the little settlement of
Afognak, where I had arranged to meet my friend some days later. It was
a beautiful morning, and once more we had a favoring breeze. Some forty
miles across Shelikoff Straits was the Alaskan shore. The rugged,
snow-clad mountains seemed to be softened when seen through the hazy
blue atmosphere. One white-capped peak boldly pierced a line of clouds
and stood forth against the pale blue of the sky beyond; while the great
Douglas Glacier, ever present, wound its way down, down to the very
sea. It was all grandly beautiful, and seemed In keeping with the day.

We paddled steadily, stopping only once for tea, and at six o'clock that
evening were back at the little fishing hamlet of Malina Place. Here I
was asked to drink tea with a man whom my hunters told me had killed
many bears on these islands.

This man said that at times there were no bears on Shuyak, and that
again they were there in great numbers, showing that they freely swim
from Afognak across the straits, which, at the narrowest point, are some
three miles wide.

[Illustration: BAIDARKA.]

While I was having tea in one of the barabaras I heard much shooting
outside, which announced the return of a sea otter party that had been
hunting for two months at Cape Douglas. It was a beautiful sight, this
fleet of twenty odd baidarkas, the paddles all rising and falling in
perfect time, and changing sides without a break. There is nothing more
graceful than one of these canoes when handled by expert Aleuts. These
natives had already come forty miles that day, and were now going to
stop only long enough for tea, and then push on to the little settlement
of Afognak Place, some twenty-five miles away, where most of them
lived. In one of the canoes I saw a small chap of thirteen years. He was
the chief's son, and already an expert in hunting and in handling the
baidarka. So is the Aleut hunter trained.

As it had been a very warm day I feared that the skin might
spoil. Therefore I concluded to continue to Afognak Place without
camping for the night, and so we paddled on and on. As darkness came,
the mountains seemed to rise grander and more majestic from the water on
either side of us. At midnight we again stopped for tea, and while we
sat by the fire the host of baidarkas of the sea otter party silently
glided by like shadows. We joined them, for my men had much to tell of
their four months with the white hunter, and many questions were asked
on both sides.

Some miles from Afognak the baidarkas drew up side by side in a long,
even line, our baidarka joining in. _Drasti_ and _Chemi_[6]
came to me from all sides, for I had from time to time met most of the
native hunters of this island, and they seemed to regard me as quite one
of them.

[Footnote 6: Russian and Aleut for "How do you do?"]

When all the straggling baidarkas had caught up and taken their places
in the line, the chief gave the word _Kedar_ ("Come on"), and we
all paddled forward, and just as the sun was rising above the hills we
reached our journey's end.

Two days later my friend joined me. He also had been successful, and had
killed a good sized male bear in Little Uganuk Bay on Kadiak Island.

Our bear hunt was now over, and we had been fortunate in accomplishing
all we had hoped for.

IV.

THE WHITE SHEEP OF KENAI PENINSULA

The last of July Blake and I sailed from the Kadiak Islands, and one
week later were landed at the little settlement of Kenai, on the Kenai
Peninsula.

The mountains of this region are unquestionably the finest big-game
shooting grounds in North America at the present day. Here one may
expect to find four different kinds of bears--black, two species of
brown, and the Alaska grizzly--the largest of moose, and the Kenai form
of the white sheep (_Ovis dalli_).

These hills lie back from the coast some thirty miles, and may be
reached by one of several rivers. It takes a couple of days to ascend
some of these streams, but we determined to select a country more
difficult to enter, thinking it would be less often visited by the local
native hunters. We therefore chose the mountains lying adjacent to the
Kenai Lake--a district which it took from a week to ten days to reach.

On August 14, shortly after noon, we started up the river which was to
lead us to our shooting grounds. One cannot oppose the great tides of
Cook Inlet, and all plans are based on them. Therefore we did not leave
until the flood, when we were carried up the stream some twelve
miles--the tide limit--where we camped.

The next morning we were up at daylight, for at this point began the
hard river work. There was much brush on the banks, but our natives
proved themselves most expert in passing the line, for from now on until
we reached the lake our boats had to be towed against a swift current.

That day we made about eight miles, and camped shortly after five
o'clock. It rained hard during the night, and the next morning broke
cloudy. The river for the first two days wound through the lowlands, but
from this point on the banks seemed higher and the current perceptibly
swifter, while breaking water showed the presence of rocks under the
surface. The country back from the stream began to be more rolling, and
as the river occasionally made some bold bend the Kenai Mountains could
be seen in the distance.

Again it rained hard during the night and continued well on into the
next morning, so we made a late start, breaking camp at eight o'clock.
Spruce, alders, willows, and birch were the trees growing along the
banks, and we now passed through the country where the moose range
during the summer months. Already the days had become perceptibly
shorter, and there was also a feeling of fall in the air, for summer is
not long in this latitude.

At this point in the river we encountered bad water, and all hands were
constantly wet, while the natives were in the glacial stream up to their
waists for hours at a time. Therefore we made but little progress. That
night there was a heavy frost, and the next morning dawned bright and
clear. The day was a repetition of the day before, and the natives were
again obliged to wade with the tow-line most of the way. But they were a
good-natured lot, and seemed to take their wetting as a matter of
course. About ten o'clock the next morning we reached the Kenai Rapids,
where the stream narrows and the water is extremely bad, for the current
is very swift and the channel full of rocks. We navigated this place
safely and came out into the smooth water beyond. Here we had tea and a
good rest, for we felt that the hardest part of this tiresome journey
was over. Above the rapids there are a few short stretches of less
troubled water where the oars can be used; but these are few and far
between, and one must count upon warping the boat from tide water to
within two miles of the lake--an estimated distance of between
thirty-five and forty miles.

We had hardly got started the following day before it began to rain
heavily. We were soon wet to the skin and thoroughly chilled, but we
kept on until late in the afternoon, when we camped in a small Indian
cabin some three miles from the lake.

It stormed hard during the night with such heavy wind that we much
feared that we should be unable to cross the lake the next day. In the
morning, however, the wind had gone down, and we made an early
start. Just before reaching the mouth of the river we sighted game for
the first time. A cow moose with her calf were seen on the bank. They
stood idly watching our boats for a short time, and then slowly ambled
off into the brush.

Occasionally as the river had made some big bend we had been able to
sight the mountains which were to be our shooting grounds. Day by day
they had grown nearer and nearer, and finally, after one week of this
toilsome travel, we glided from the river to the crescent-shaped lake,
and they now rose close before us.

This range of hills with their rough and broken sides compares favorably
in grandeur with the finest of Alaskan scenery. Half way up their slopes
was a well defined timber line, and then came the stunted vegetation
which the autumn frosts had softened into velvet browns in deep contrast
to the occasional berry patches now tinged a brilliant crimson; and
beyond, the great bleak, open tablelands of thick moss sloped gently
upward to the mountain bases; and above all, the lofty peaks of dull
gray rock towered in graceful curves until lost in the mist. Great banks
of snow lay in many of the highest passes, and over all the landscape
the sun shone faintly through leaden and sombre storm clouds.

Such was my first near view of the Kenai Mountains, and, as I learned to
know them better, they seemed to grow more awe-inspiring and beautiful.

When we reached Kenai Lake, Blake and I decided that it would probably
be the wisest plan to divide things up into two separate shooting
outfits. We could then push over the hills in different directions
until we came upon the sheep. Each would then make his own shooting
camp, and our natives would carry out the heads we might shoot to our
united base of supplies on the lake, and pack back needed provisions.

At noon of August 22 Blake and outfit started for his shooting grounds
at the eastern end of the sheep range, and shortly after my outfit was
under way. My head man and the natives carried packs of some sixty
pounds, while I carried about fifty pounds besides my rifle, glasses,
and cartridges; even my dog Stereke had some thirty pounds of canned
goods in a pack saddle.

Our first march led up the mountain over a fairly steep trail, a gale
accompanied by rain meeting us as we came out from the timber on to the
high mossy plateau. The wind swept down from the hills in great gusts,
and our small tent tugged and pulled at its stakes until I greatly
feared it would not stand the strain. It had moderated somewhat by the
next morning, and we made an early start.

Our line of march, well above timber, led along the base of the summits
for some miles, then swinging to the left we laboriously climbed over
one range and dropped into the valley beyond. A strong wind made it hard
going, and sometimes turned us completely around as it struck slanting
upon the packs which we carried. During the day sheep were seen in the
distance, but we did not stop, for we were anxious to reach before dark
a place where Hunter--my head man--had usually made his hill camp. It
must be remembered that at such an altitude there is very little fuel,
and that good camping places are few and far between.

The next morning we were up early, intending to take our first hunt, but
the small Killy River, on which we were now located, was much swollen by
the heavy rains, and could not be crossed. We devoted the forenoon to
bridging this stream, but during the afternoon a small bunch of sheep
was sighted low down on the mountains, and I started with Hunter to see
if it contained any good rams. We left camp about noon and reached the
sheep in a little over an hour. There was one ram which I shot for
meat, but unfortunately his head was smaller than I thought, and
valueless as a trophy.

As sheep hunting in these hills is at best hard work, I decided to move
the camp as high up as we could find wood and water. The next morning as
we started on our first real hunt, we took the native with us, and after
selecting a spot at the edge of the timber line, left him to bring up
our camp to this place while my man and I continued over the mountains
in search of rams. The day was dull and the wind was fortunately light.

After a stiff climb we came out upon a mossy tableland, intersected by
several deep gulches, down which tumbled rapid glacial streams from many
perpetual snow banks. Above this high plateau rose sharp and barren
mountains which seemed but glacial heaps of jagged boulders and slide
rock all covered with coarse black moss or lichen, which is the only
food of sheep during the winter months.

It is generally supposed that when the heavy snows of winter set in the
sheep seek a lower level, but my guide insisted that they work higher
and higher up the mountain sides, where the winds have swept the snow
away, and they are able to get this coarse but nourishing food.

The sky-line of these hills made a series of unbroken curves telling of
the mighty power of the glaciers which once held this entire country in
their crushing grasp.

We passed over the great plateau, which even at this latitude was
sprinkled generously with beautiful small wild flowers. Crossing gulch
after gulch we continually worked higher and higher by a gradual and
easy ascent.

We had been gone from camp but little over an hour, when, on approaching
a small knoll, I caught sight of the white coat of a sheep just beyond.
At once dropping upon my hands and knees I crawled up and carefully
peered over to the other side. We had unknowingly worked into the midst
of a big band of ewes, lambs, and small rams. I counted twenty-seven on
my left and twenty-five on my right, but among them all there was not a
head worth shooting.

This was the first great band of white sheep I had seen, and I watched
them at this close range with much interest. Soon a tell-tale eddy in
the breeze gave them our scent, and they slowly moved away, not
hurriedly nor in great alarm, but reminding me much of tame sheep, or
deer in a park. Man was rather an unfamiliar animal to them, and his
scent brought but little dread. From this time until darkness hid them,
sheep were in plain view the entire day. In a short while I counted over
one hundred ewes and lambs.

We worked over one range and around another with the great valley of the
river lying at our feet, while beyond were chain upon chain of bleak and
rugged mountains. Finally we came to a vast gulch supposed to be the
home of the large rams. My men had hunted in this section two years
before, and had never failed to find good heads here, but we now saw
nothing worth stalking. By degrees we worked to the top of the gulch,
and coming to the summit of the ridge paused, for at our feet was what
at first appeared but a perpendicular precipice of jagged rock falling
hundreds of feet. The clouds now lifted a bit and we could see below a
vast circular valley with green grass and rapid glacial streams. On all
sides it was hemmed in and guarded by mighty mountains with giant cliffs
and vast slides of broken rocks reaching from the bottom to the very
summits. Opposite was a great dull blue glacier from which the north
fork of the Killy River belched forth, while other smaller glaciers and
snow banks seemed kept in place only by granite barriers.

We seated ourselves on the brink of this great cliff and the glasses
were at once in use. Soon Hunter saw rams, but they were so far below
that even with my powerful binoculars it was impossible to tell more
than that they carried larger heads than other sheep near them.

It was impossible to descend the cliff at the point where we then were,
so we moved around, looking for a place where we might work down, and
finally found one where it was possible to descend some fifty yards to a
sort of shute. From where we were we could not see whether we should be
able to make a still further descent, and if we did go down that far it
would be an extremely difficult climb to get back, but we thought it
probable that there would be slide rock at the other end of this shute,
in which case the rest would be fairly easy.

Moving with the greatest caution, we finally reached the shute, and
after a bit of bad climbing found the slide rock at the lower end as we
had expected; but it took us a good two hours to get low enough to tell
with the glasses how big were the horns the sheep carried.

There were eight rams in all. A bunch of three small ones about half a
mile away, and just beyond them four with better heads, but still not
good enough to shoot, and apart from these, a short distance up the
mountain side, was a solitary ram which carried a really good head. The
bunch of three was unfortunately between us and the big sheep, and it
required careful stalking to get within distance of the one we
sought. We knew very well that if we suddenly alarmed the three, and
they rushed off, they, in turn, would alarm the four and also the big
ram. When we were still at some distance we showed ourselves to the
three, and they took the hint and wandered slowly up the mountain
side. The others, although they had not seen us, became suspicious, so
we remained crouched behind some rocks until they once more began to
feed. The big ram now came down from his solitary position and passed
from view behind a mass of boulders near the remaining sheep.

The head of the ram which I had shot the day before was much smaller
than I had supposed at the time. In order to avoid this in future I had
asked Hunter to advise me in selecting only really good heads. My man,
who now had the glasses, declared that the big sheep had not joined the
bunch of four, and I must confess that I was also deceived.

Although the four had become suspicious from seeing the three go slowly
up the cliff, still they had not made us out, and the wind remained
favorable. Lying close only long enough for them to get over their
uneasiness, we cautiously stalked up to within some two hundred
yards. Again we used the glasses most carefully, but could not see the
big ram. Suddenly the sheep became alarmed and started up the
mountain. I expected each second to see the large ram come out from
behind the boulders, and therefore withheld from shooting. But when he
did not appear I turned my attention to the four which had paused and
were looking down upon us from a rocky ridge nearly four hundred yards
above. As they stood in bold relief against the black crags, I saw that
one carried horns much larger than the others, and that it was the big

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