Part 6 out of 7
counted seven shots. How the echoes rang from wall to wall, to die
hollow and faint in the deep canyons!
I galloped ahead to the next point, finding only the tracks of R.C.'s
boots. Everywhere I peered for the bear I had sighted, and at intervals
I yelled. For all the answer I got I might as well have been alone on
the windy rim of the world. My voice seemed lost in immensity. Then I
rode westward, then back eastward, and to and fro until both Stockings
and I were weary. At last I gave up, and took a good, long rest under a
pine on the rim. Not a shot, not a yell, not a sound but wind and the
squall of a jay disrupted the peace of that hour. I profited by this
lull in the excitement by more means than one, particularly in sight of
a flock of wild pigeons. They alighted in the tops of pines below me, so
that I could study them through my field glass. They were considerably
larger than doves, dull purple color on the back, light on the breast,
with ringed or barred neck. Haught had assured me that birds of this
description were indeed the famous wild pigeons, now almost extinct in
the United States. I remembered my father telling me he had seen flocks
that darkened the skies. These pigeons appeared to have swift flight.
Another feature of this rest along the rim was a sight just as beautiful
as that of the pigeons, though not so rare; and it was the flying of
clouds of colored autumn leaves on the wind.
The westering of the sun advised me that the hours had fled, and it was
high time for me to bestir myself toward camp. On my way back I found
Haught, his son George, Copple and R.C. waiting for Edd and Nielsen to
come up over the rim, and for me to return. They asked for my story.
Then I learned theirs. Haught had kept even with the hounds, but had
seen only the brown bear that had crossed the ridge early in the day.
Copple had worked far westward, to no avail. R.C. had been close to
George and me, had heard our bullets pat, yet had been unable to locate
any bear. To my surprise it turned out that George had shot at a brown
bear when I had supposed it was my black one. Whereupon Haught said:
"Reckon Edd an' Nielsen smoked up some other bear."
One by one the hounds climbed over the rim and wearily lay down beside
us. Down the long, grassy, cedared aisle I saw Edd and Nielsen plodding
up. At length they reached us wet and dusty and thirsty. When Edd got
his breath he said: "Right off we struck a hot trail. Bear with
eleven-inch track. He'd come down to drink last night. Hounds worked up
thet yeller oak thicket, an' somewhere Sue an' Rock jumped him out of
his bed. He run down, an' he made some racket. Took to the low slopes
an' hit up lively all the way down Dude, then crossed, climbed around
under thet bare point of rock. Here some of the hounds caught up with
him. We heard a pup yelp, an' after a while Kaiser Bill come sneakin'
back. It was awful thick down in the canyon so we climbed the east side
high enough to see. An' we were workin' down when the pack bayed the
bear round thet bare point. It was up an' across from us. Nielsen an' I
climbed on a rock. There was an open rock-slide where we thought the
bear would show. It was five hundred yards. We ought to have gone across
an' got a stand higher up. Well, pretty soon we saw him come paddlin'
out of the brush--a big grizzly, almost black, with a frosty back. He
was a silvertip all right. Niels an' I began to shoot. An' thet bear
began to hump himself. He was mad, too. His fur stood up like a ruffle
on his neck. Niels got four shots an' I got three. Reckon one of us
stung him a little. Lordy, how he run! An' his last jump off the slide
was a header into the brush. He crossed the canyon, an' climbed thet
high east slope of Dude, goin' over the pass where father killed the big
cinnamon three years ago. The hounds stuck to his trail. It took us an
hour or more to climb up to thet pass. Broad bear trail goes over. We
heard the hounds 'way down in the canyon on the other side. Niels an' I
worked along the ridge, down an' around, an' back to Dude Creek. I kept
callin' the hounds till they all came back. They couldn't catch him. He
sure was a jack-rabbit for runnin'. Reckon thet's all.... Now who was
smokin' shells up on the rim?"
When all was told and talked over Haught said: "Wal, you can just bet we
put up two brown bears an' one black bear, an' thet old Jasper of a
How hungry and thirsty and tired I was when we got back to camp! The day
had been singularly rich in exciting thrills and sensorial perceptions.
I called to the Jap: "I'm starv-ved to death!" And Takahashi, who had
many times heard my little boy Loren yell that, grinned all over his
dusky face. "Aw, lots good things pretty soon!"
After supper we lounged around a cheerful, crackling camp-fire. The
blaze roared in the breeze, the red embers glowed white and opal, the
smoke swooped down and curled away into the night shadows. Old Dan, as
usual, tried to sit in the fire, and had to be rescued. Buck came to me
where I sat with my back to a pine, my feet to the warmth. He was lame
to-night, having run all day on that injured leg. The other dogs lay
scattered around in range of the heat. Natural indeed was it then, in
such an environment, after talking over the auspicious start of our hunt
at Dude Creek, that we should drift to the telling of stories.
Sensing this drift I opened the hour of reminiscence and told some of my
experiences in the jungle of southern Mexico. Copple immediately topped
my stories by more wonderful and hair-raising ones about his own
adventures in northern Mexico. These stirred Nielsen to talk about the
Seri Indians, and their cannibalistic traits; and from these he drifted
to the Yuma Indians. Speaking of their remarkable stature and strength
he finally got to the subject of giants of brawn and bone in Norway.
One young Norwegian was eight feet tall and broad in proportion. His
employer was a captain of a fishing boat. One time, on the way to their
home port, a quarrel arose about money due the young giant, and in his
anger he heaved the anchor overboard. That of course halted the boat,
and it stayed halted, because the captain and crew could not heave the
heavy anchor without the help of their brawny comrade. Finally the money
matter was adjusted, and the young giant heaved the anchor without
assistance. Nielsen went on to tell that this fisherman of such mighty
frame had a beautiful young wife whom he adored. She was not by any
means a small or frail girl--rather the contrary--but she appeared
diminutive beside her giant husband. One day he returned from a long
absence on the sea. When his wife, in her joy, ran into his arms, he
gave her such a tremendous hug that he crushed her chest, and she died.
In his grief the young husband went insane and did not survive her long.
Next Nielsen told a story about Norwegians sailing to the Arctic on a
scientific expedition. Just before the long polar night of darkness set
in there arose a necessity for the ship and crew to return to Norway.
Two men must be left in the Arctic to care for the supplies until the
ship came back. The captain called for volunteers. There were two young
men in the crew, and from childhood they had been playmates,
schoolmates, closer than brothers, and inseparable even in manhood. One
of these young men said to his friend: "I'll stay if you will." And the
other quickly agreed. After the ship sailed, and the land of the
midnight sun had become icy and black, one of these comrades fell ill,
and soon died. The living one placed the body in the room with the ship
supplies, where it froze stiff; and during all the long polar night of
solitude and ghastly gloom he lived next to this sepulchre that
contained his dead friend. When the ship returned the crew found the
living comrade an old man with hair as white as snow, and never in his
life afterward was he seen to smile.
These stories stirred my emotions like Doyle's tale about Jones' Ranch.
How wonderful, beautiful, terrible and tragical is human life! Again I
heard the still, sad music of humanity, the eternal beat and moan of the
waves upon a lonely shingle shore. Who would not be a teller of tales?
Copple followed Nielsen with a story about a prodigious feat of his
own--a story of incredible strength and endurance, which at first I took
to be a satire on Nielsen's remarkable narrative. But Copple seemed
deadly serious, and I began to see that he possessed a strange
simplicity of exaggeration. The boys thought Copple stretched the truth
a little, but I thought that he believed what he told.
Haught was a great teller of tales, and his first story of the evening
happened to be about his brother Bill. They had a long chase after a
bear and became separated. Bill was new at the game, and he was a
peculiar fellow anyhow. Much given to talking to himself! Haught finally
rode to the edge of a ridge and espied Bill under a pine in which the
hounds had treed a bear. Bill did not hear Haught's approach, and on the
moment he was stalking round the pine, swearing at the bear, which clung
to a branch about half way up. Then Haught discovered two more
full-grown bears up in the top of the pine, the presence of which Bill
had not the remotest suspicion. "Ahuh! you ole black Jasper!" Bill was
yelling. "I treed you an' in a minnit I'm agoin' to assassinate you.
Chased me about a hundred miles--! An' thought you'd fool me, didn't
you? Why, I've treed more bears than you ever saw--! You needn't look at
me like thet, 'cause I'm mad as a hornet. I'm agoin' to assassinate you
in a minnit an' skin your black har off, I am--"
"Bill," interrupted Haught, "what are you goin' to do about the other
two bears up in the top of the tree?"
Bill was amazed to hear and see his brother, and greatly astounded and
tremendously elated to discover the other two bears. He yelled and acted
as one demented. "Three black Jaspers! I've treed you all. An' I'm
agoin' to assassinate you all!"
"See here, Bill," said Haught, "before you begin that assassinatin' make
up your mind not to cripple any of them. You've got to shoot straight,
so they'll be dead when they fall. If they're only crippled, they'll
kill the hounds."
Bill was insulted at any suggestions as to his possible poor
marksmanship. But this happened to be his first experience with bears in
trees. He began to shoot and it took nine shots for him to dislodge the
bears. Worse than that they all tumbled out of the tree--apparently
unhurt. The hounds, of course, attacked them, and there arose a
terrible uproar. Haught had to run down to save his dogs. Bill was going
to shoot right into the melee, but Haught knocked the rifle up, and
forbid him to use it. Then Bill ran into the thick of the fray to beat
off the hounds. Haught became exceedingly busy himself, and finally
disposed of two of the bears. Then hearing angry bawls and terrific
yells he turned to see Bill climbing a tree with a big black bear
tearing the seat out of his pants. Haught disposed of this bear also.
Then he said: "Bill, I thought you was goin' to assassinate them." Bill
slid down out of the tree, very pale and disheveled. "By Golly, I'll
skin 'em anyhow!"
Haught had another brother named Henry, who had come to Arizona from
Texas, and had brought a half-hound with him. Henry offered to wager
this dog was the best bear chaser in the country. The general impression
Henry's hound gave was that he would not chase a rabbit. Finally Haught
took his brother Henry and some other men on a bear hunt. There were
wagers made as to the quality of Henry's half-hound. When at last
Haught's pack struck a hot scent, and were off with the men riding fast
behind, Henry's half-breed loped alongside his master, paying no
attention to the wild baying of the pack. He would look up at Henry as
if to say: "No hurry, boss. Wait a little. Then I'll show them!" He
loped along, wagging his tail, evidently enjoying this race with his
master. After a while the chase grew hotter. Then Henry's half-hound ran
ahead a little way, and came back to look up wisely, as if to say: "Not
time yet!" After a while, when the chase grew very hot indeed, Henry's
wonderful canine let out a wild yelp, darted ahead, overtook the pack
and took the lead in the chase, literally chewing the heels of the bear
till he treed. Haught and his friends lost all the wagers.
The most remarkable bears in this part of Arizona were what Haught
called blue bears, possibly some kind of a cross between brown and
black. This species was a long, slim, blue-furred bear with unusually
large teeth and very long claws. So different from ordinary bears that
it appeared another species. The blue bear could run like a greyhound,
and keep it up all day and all night. Its power of endurance was
incredible. In Haught's twenty years of hunting there he had seen a
number of blue bears and had killed two. Haught chased one all day with
young and fast hounds. He went to camp, but the hounds stuck to the
chase. Next day Haught followed the hounds and bear from Dude Creek over
into Verde Canyon, back to Dude Creek, and then back to Verde again.
Here Haught gave out, and was on his way home when he met the blue bear
padding along as lively as ever.
I never tired of listening to Haught. He had killed over a hundred
bears, many of them vicious grizzlies, and he had often escaped by a
breadth of a hair, but the killing stories were not the most interesting
to me. Haught had lived a singularly elemental life. He never knew what
to tell me, because I did not know what to ask for, so I just waited for
stories, experiences, woodcraft, natural history and the like, to come
when they would. Once he had owned an old bay horse named Moze. Under
any conditions of weather or country Moze could find his way back to
camp. Haught would let go the bridle, and Moze would stick up his ears,
look about him, and circle home. No matter if camp had been just where
Haught had last thrown a packsaddle!
When Haught first came to Arizona and began his hunting up over the rim
he used to get down in the cedar country, close to the desert. Here he
heard of a pure black antelope that was the leader of a herd of ordinary
color, which was a grayish white. The day came when Haught saw this
black antelope. It was a very large, beautiful stag, the most noble and
wild and sagacious animal Haught had ever seen. For years he tried to
stalk it and kill it, and so did other hunters. But no hunter ever got
even a shot at it. Finally this black antelope disappeared and was never
heard of again.
By this time Copple had been permitted a long breathing spell, and now
began a tale calculated to outdo the Arabian Nights. I envied his most
remarkable imagination. His story had to do with hunting meat for a
mining camp in Mexico. He got so expert with a rifle that he never aimed
at deer. Just threw his gun, as was a habit of gun-fighters! Once the
camp was out of meat, and also he was out of ammunition. Only one shell
left! He came upon a herd of deer licking salt at a deer lick. They were
small deer and he wanted several or all of them. So he manoeuvred around
and waited until five of the deer had lined up close together. Then, to
make sure, he aimed so as to send his one bullet through their necks.
Killed the whole five in one shot!
We were all reduced to a state of mute helplessness and completely at
Copple's mercy. Next he gave us one of his animal tales. He was hunting
along the gulf shore on the coast of Sonora, where big turtles come out
to bask in the sun and big jaguars come down to prowl for meat. One
morning he saw a jaguar jump on the back of a huge turtle, and begin to
paw at its neck. Promptly the turtle drew in head and flippers, and was
safe under its shell. The jaguar scratched and clawed at a great rate,
but to no avail. Then the big cat turned round and seized the tail of
the turtle and began to chew it. Whereupon the turtle stuck out its
head, opened its huge mouth and grasped the tail of the jaguar. First to
give in was the cat. He let go and let out a squall. But the turtle
started to crawl off, got going strong, and dragged the jaguar into the
sea and drowned him. With naive earnestness Copple assured his mute
listeners that he could show them the exact spot in Sonora where this
Retribution inevitably overtakes transgressors. Copple in his immense
loquaciousness was not transgressing much, for he really was no greater
dreamer than I, but the way he put things made us want to see the mighty
hunter have a fall.
We rested the hounds next day, and I was glad to rest myself. About
sunset Copple rode up to the rim to look for his mules. We all heard him
shoot eight times with his rifle and two with his revolver. Everybody
said: "Turkeys! Ten turkeys--maybe a dozen, if Copple got two in line!"
And we were all glad to think so. We watched eagerly for him, but he did
not return till dark. He seemed vastly sore at himself. What a
remarkable hard luck story he told! He had come upon a flock of turkeys,
and they were rather difficult to see. All of them were close, and
running fast. He shot eight times at eight turkeys and missed them all.
Too dark--brush--trees--running like deer. Copple had a dozen excuses.
Then he saw a turkey on a log ten feet away. He shot twice. The turkey
was a knot, and he had missed even that.
Thereupon I seized my opportunity and reminded all present how Copple
had called out: "Turkey number one! Turkey number two!" the day I had
missed so many. Then I said:
"Ben, you must have yelled out to-night like this." And I raised my
"Turkey number one--Nix!... Turkey number two--missed, by Gosh!...
Turkey number three--never touched him!... Turkey number four--No!...
Turkey number five--Aw, I'm shootin' blank shells!... Turkey number
six on the log--BY THUNDER, I CAN'T SEE STRAIGHT!"
We all had our fun at Copple's expense. The old bear hunter, Haught,
rolled on the ground, over and over, and roared in his mirth.
Early next morning before the sun had tipped the pines with gold I went
down Barber Shop Canyon with Copple to look for our horses. During the
night our stock had been chased by a lion. We had all been awakened by
their snorting and stampeding. We found our horses scattered, the burros
gone, and Copple's mules still squared on guard, ready to fight. Copple
assured me that this formation of his mules on guard was an infallible
sign of lions prowling around. One of these mules he had owned for ten
years and it was indeed the most intelligent beast I ever saw in the
We found three beaver dams across the brook, one about fifty feet long,
and another fully two hundred. Fresh turkey tracks showed in places, and
on the top of the longer dam, fresh made in the mud, were lion tracks as
large as the crown of my hat. How sight of them made me tingle all over!
Here was absolute proof of the prowling of one of the great cats.
Beaver tracks were everywhere. They were rather singular looking tracks,
the front feet being five-toed, and the back three-toed, and webbed.
Near the slides on the bank the water was muddy, showing that the beaver
had been at work early. These animals worked mostly at night, but
sometimes at sunset and sunrise. They were indeed very cautious and
wary. These dams had just been completed and no aspens had yet been cut
for food. Beaver usually have two holes to their home, one under the
water, and the other out on the bank. We found one of these outside
burrows and it was nearly a foot wide.
Upon our return to camp with the horses Haught said he could put up that
lion for us, and from the size of its track he judged it to be a big
one. I did not want to hunt lions and R.C. preferred to keep after
bears. "Wal," said Haught, "I'll take an off day an' chase thet lion.
Had a burro killed here a couple of years ago."
So we rode out with the hounds on another bear hunt. Pyle's Canyon lay
to the east of Dude Creek, and we decided to run it that day. Edd and
Nielsen started down with the hounds. Copple and I followed shortly
afterward with the intention of descending mid-way, and then working
along the ridge crests and promontories. The other boys remained on the
rim to take up various stands as occasion called for.
I had never been on as steep slopes as these under the rim. They were
grassy, brushy, rocky, but it was their steepness that made them so hard
to travel. Right off, half way down, we started a herd of bucks. The
noise they made sounded like cattle. We found tracks of half a dozen.
"Lots of deer under the rim," declared Copple, his eyes gleaming.
"They're feedin' on acorns. Here's where you'll get your big buck."
After that I kept a sharp lookout, arguing with myself that a buck close
at hand was worth a lot of bears down in the brush.
Presently we changed a direct descent to work gradually along the slopes
toward a great level bench covered with pines. We had to cross gravel
patches and pits where avalanches had slid, and at last, gaining the
bench we went through the pine grove, out to a manzanita thicket, to a
rocky point where the ledges were toppling and dangerous. The stand here
afforded a magnificent view. We were now down in the thick of this
sloped and canyoned and timbered wildness; no longer above it, and aloof
from it. The dry smell of pine filled the air. When we finally halted to
listen we at once heard the baying of the hounds in the black notch
below us. We watched and listened. And presently across open patches we
saw the flash of deer, and then Rock and Buck following them. Thus were
my suspicions of Rock fully confirmed. Copple yelled down to Edd that
some of the hounds were running deer, but apparently Edd was too far
away to hear.
Still, after a while we heard the mellow tones of Edd's horn, calling in
the hounds. And then he blew the signal to acquaint all of us above that
he was going down around the point to drive the next canyon. Copple and
I had to choose between climbing back to the rim or trying to cross the
slopes and head the gorges, and ascend the huge ridge that separated
Pyle's Canyon from the next canyon. I left the question to Copple, with
the result that we stayed below.
We were still high up, though when we gazed aloft at the rim we felt so
far down, and the slopes were steep, stony, soft in places and slippery
in others, with deep cuts and patches of manzanita. No stranger was I to
this beautiful treacherous Spanish brush! I shared with Copple a dislike
of it almost equal to that inspired by cactus. We soon were hot, dusty,
dry, and had begun to sweat. The immense distances of the place were
what continually struck me. Distances that were deceptive--that looked
short and were interminable! That was Arizona. We covered miles in our
detours and we had to travel fast because we knew Edd could round the
base of the lower points in quick time.
Above the head of the third gorge Copple and I ran across an enormous
bear track, fresh in the dust, leading along an old bear trail. This
track measured twelve inches. "He's an old Jasper, as Haught says,"
declared Copple. "Grizzly. An' you can bet he heard the dogs an' got
movin' away from here. But he ain't scared. He was walkin'."
I forgot the arduous toil. How tight and cool and prickling the feel of
my skin! The fresh track of a big grizzly would rouse the hunter in any
man. We made sure how fresh this track was by observing twigs and sprigs
of manzanita just broken. The wood was green, and wet with sap. Old
Bruin had not escaped our eyes any too soon. We followed this bear
trail, evidently one used for years. It made climbing easy for us. Trust
a big, heavy, old grizzly to pick out the best traveling over rough
country! This fellow, I concluded, had the eye of a surveyor. His trail
led gradually toward a wonderful crag-crowned ridge that rolled and
heaved down from the rim. It had a dip or saddle in the middle, and rose
from that to the lofty mesa, and then on the lower side, rose to a bare,
round point of gray rock, a landmark, a dome-shaped tower where the gods
of that wild region might have kept their vigil.
Long indeed did it take us to climb up the bear trail to where it
crossed the saddle and went down on the other side into a canyon so deep
and wild that it was purple. This saddle was really a remarkable
place--a natural trail and outlet and escape for bears traveling from
one canyon to another. Our bear tracks showed fresh, and we saw where
they led down a steep, long, dark aisle between pines and spruces to a
dense black thicket below. The saddle was about twenty feet wide, and on
each side of it rose steep rocks, affording most effective stands for a
hunter to wait and watch.
We rested then, and listened. There was only a little wind, and often
it fooled us. It sounded like the baying of hounds, and now like the
hallooing of men, and then like the distant peal of a horn. By and bye
Copple said he heard the hounds. I could not be sure. Soon we indeed
heard the deep-sounding, wild bay of Old Dan, the course, sharp, ringing
bay of Old Tom, and then, less clear, the chorus from the other hounds.
Edd had started them on a trail up this magnificent canyon at our feet.
After a while we heard Edd's yell, far away, but clear: "Hi! Hi!" We
could see a part of the thicket, shaggy and red and gold; and a mile or
more of the opposite wall of the canyon. No rougher, wilder place could
have been imagined than this steep slope of bluffs, ledges, benches, all
matted with brush, and spotted with pines. Holes and caves and cracks
showed, and yellow blank walls, and bronze points, and green slopes, and
Soon the baying of the hounds appeared to pass below and beyond us, up
the canyon to our right, a circumstance that worried Copple. "Let's go
farther up," he kept saying. But I was loath to leave that splendid
stand. The baying of the hounds appeared to swing round closer under us;
to ring, to swell, to thicken until it was a continuous and melodious,
wild, echoing roar. The narrowing walls of the canyon threw the echoes
back and forth.
Presently I espied moving dots, one blue, one brown, on the opposite
slope. They were Haught and his son Edd slowly and laboriously climbing
up the steep bluff. How like snails they climbed! Theirs was indeed a
task. A yell pealed out now and then, and though it seemed to come from
an entirely different direction it surely must have come from the
Haughts. Presently some one high on the rim answered with like yells.
The chase was growing hotter.
"They've got a bear up somewhere," cried Copple, excitedly. And I
agreed with him.
Then we were startled by the sharp crack of a rifle from the rim.
"The ball's open! Get your pardners, boys," exclaimed Copple, with
"Ben, wasn't that a.30 Gov't?" I asked.
"Sure was," he replied. "Must have been R.C. openin' up. Now look
I gazed everywhere, growing more excited and thrilled. Another shot from
above, farther off and from a different rifle, augmented our stirring
Copple left our stand and ran up over the ridge, and then down under and
along the base of a rock wall. I had all I could do to keep up with him.
We got perhaps a hundred yards when we heard the spang of Haught's.30
Gov't. Following this his big, hoarse voice bawled out: "He's goin' to
the left--to the left!" That sent us right about face, to climbing,
scrambling, running and plunging back to our first stand at the saddle,
where we arrived breathless and eager.
Edd was climbing higher up, evidently to reach the level top of the
bluff above, and Haught was working farther up the canyon, climbing a
little. Copple yelled with all his might: "Where's the bear?"
"Bar everywhar!" pealed back Haught's stentorian voice. How the echoes
Just then Copple electrified me with a wild shout. "Wehow! I see
him.... What a whopper!" He threw up his rifle:
His aim was across the canyon. I heard his bullets strike. I strained my
eyes in flashing gaze everywhere. "Where? Where?" I cried, wildly.
"There!" shouted Copple, keenly, and he pointed across the canyon. "He's
goin' over the bench--above Edd.... Now he's out of sight. Watch just
over Edd. He'll cross that bench, go round the head of the little
canyon, an' come out on the other side, under the bare bluff.... Watch
sharp-right by that big spruce with the dead top.... He's a grizzly an'
as big as a horse".
I looked until my eyes hurt. All I said was: "Ben, you saw game first
to-day". Suddenly a large, dark brown object, furry and grizzled, huge
and round, moved out of the shadow under the spruce and turned to go
along the edge in the open sunlight.
"Oh! look at him!" I yelled. A strong, hot gust of blood ran all over me
and I thrilled till I shook. When I aimed at the bear I could see him
through the circle of my peep sight, but when I moved the bead of the
front sight upon him it almost covered him up. The distance was
far--more than a thousand yards--over half a mile--we calculated
afterward. But I tried to draw a bead on the big, wagging brown shape
and fired till my rifle was empty.
Meanwhile Copple had reloaded. "You watch while I shoot," he said. "Tell
me where I'm hittin'."
Wonderful was it to see how swiftly he could aim and shoot. I saw a puff
of dust. "Low, Ben!" Spang rang his rifle. "High!" Again he shot, wide
this time. He emptied his magazine. "Smoke him now!" he shouted,
gleefully. "I'll watch while you shoot."
"It's too far, Ben," I replied, as I jammed the last shell in the
"No--no. It's only we don't hold right. Aim a little coarse," said
Copple. "Gee, ain't he some bear! 'No scared tall' as the Jap says....
He's one of the old sheep-killers. He'll weigh half a ton. Smoke him
My excitement was intense. It seemed, however, I was most consumed with
admiration for that grizzly. Not in the least was he afraid. He walked
along the rough places, trotted along the ledges, and here and there he
halted to gaze below him. I waited for one of these halts, aimed a
trifle high, and fired. The grizzly made a quick, angry movement and
then jumped up on a ledge. He jumped like a rabbit.
"You hit close that time," yelled Ben. "Hold the same way--a little
My next bullet struck a puff from rock above the bear, and my third,
hitting just in front of him, as he was on a yellow ledge, covered him
with dust. He reared, and wheeling, sheered back and down the step he
had mounted, and disappeared in a clump of brush. I shot into that. We
heard my bullet crack the twigs. But it routed him out, and then my last
shot hit far under him.
Copple circled his mouth with his hands and bellowed to the Haughts:
"Climb! Climb! Hurry! Hurry! He's just above you--under that bluff."
The Haughts heard, and evidently tried to do all in their power, but
they moved like snails. Then Copple fired five more shots, quick, yet
deliberate, and he got through before I had reloaded; and as I began my
third magazine Copple was so swift in reloading that his first shot
mingled with my second. How we made the welkin ring! Wild yells pealed
down from the rim. Somewhere from the purple depths below Nielsen's
giant's voice rolled up. The Haughts opposite answered with their deep,
hoarse yells. Old Dan and Old Tom bayed like distant thunder. The young
hounds let out a string of sharp, keen yelps. Copple added his Indian
cry, high-pitched and wild, to the pandemonium. But I could not shoot
and screech at one and the same time.
"Hurry, Ben," I said, as I finished my third set of five shots, the
last shot of which was my best and knocked dirt in the face of the
Again he reared. This time he appeared to locate our direction. Above
the bedlam of yells and bays and yelps and echoes I imagined I heard the
grizzly roar. He was now getting farther along the base of the bluff,
and I saw that he would escape us. My rifle barrel was hot as fire. My
fingers were all thumbs. I jammed a shell into the receiver. My last
chance had fled! But Copple's big, brown, swift hands fed shells to his
magazine as ears of corn go to a grinder. He had a way of poking the
base of a shell straight down into the receiver and making it snap
forward and down. Then he fired five more shots as swiftly as he had
reloaded. Some of these hit close to our quarry. The old grizzly slowed
up, and looked across, and wagged his huge head.
"My gun's on fire all right," said Copple, grimly, as he loaded still
more rapidly. Carefully he aimed and pulled trigger. The grizzly gave a
spasmodic jerk as if stung and suddenly he made a prodigious leap off a
ledge, down into a patch of brush, where he threshed like a lassoed
"Ben, you hit him!" I yelled, excitedly.
"Only made him mad. He's not hurt.... See, he's up again.... Will you
look at that!"
The grizzly appeared to roll out of the brush, and like a huge furry
ball of brown, he bounced down the thicketed slope to an open slide
where he unrolled, and stretched into a run. Copple got two more shots
before he was out of sight.
"Gone!" ejaculated Copple. "An' we never fetched him!... He ain't hurt.
Did you see him pile down an' roll off that slope?... Let's see. I got
twenty-three shots at him. How many had you?"
"I had fifteen."
"Say, it was some fun, wasn't it--smokin' him along there? But we ought
to have fetched the old sheep-killer.... Wonder what's happened to the
We looked about us. Not improbably the exciting moments had been few in
number, yet they seemed long indeed. The Haughts had gotten to the top
of the bluff, and were tearing through the brush toward the point Copple
had designated. They reached it too late.
"Where is he?" yelled Edd.
"Gone!" boomed Copple. "Runnin' down the canyon. Call the dogs an' go
down after him."
When the Haughts came out into the open upon that bench one of the pups
and the spotted hound, Rock, were with them. Old Dan and old Tom were
baying up at the head of the canyon, and Sue could be heard yelping
somewhere else. Bear trails seemingly were abundant near our
whereabouts. Presently the Haughts disappeared at the back of the bench
where the old grizzly had gone down, and evidently they put the two
hounds on his trail.
"That grizzly will climb over round the lower end of this ridge,"
declared Copple. "We want to be there."
So we hurriedly left our stand, and taking to the South side of the
ridge, we ran and walked and climbed and plunged down along the slope.
Keeping up with Copple on foot was harder than riding after Edd and
George. When soon we reached a manzanita thicket I could no longer keep
Copple in sight. He was so powerful that he just crashed through, but I
had to worm my way, and walk over the tops of the bushes, like a
tight-rope performer. Of all strong, thick, spiky brush manzanita was
In half an hour I joined Copple at the point under the dome-topped end
of the ridge, only to hear the hounds apparently working back up the
canyon. There was nothing for us to do but return to our stand at the
saddle. Copple hurried faster than ever. But I had begun to tire and I
could not keep up with him. But as I had no wild cravings to meet that
old grizzly face to face all by myself in a manzanita thicket I did
manage by desperate efforts to keep the Indian in sight. When I reached
our stand I was wet and exhausted. After the hot, stifling, dusty glare
of the yellow slope and the burning of the manzanita brush, the cool
shade was a welcome change.
Somewhere all the hounds were baying. Not for some time could we locate
the Haughts. Finally with the aid of my glass we discovered them perched
high upon the bluff above where our grizzly had gone round. It appeared
that Edd was pointing across the canyon and his father was manifesting a
keen interest. We did not need the glass then to tell that they saw a
bear. Both leveled their rifles and fired, apparently across the canyon.
Then they stood like statues.
"I'll go down into the thicket," said Copple. "Maybe I can get a shot.
An' anyway I want to see our grizzly's tracks." With that he started
down, and once on the steep bear trail he slid rather than walked, and
soon was out of my sight. After that I heard him crashing through
thicket and brush. Soon this sound ceased. The hounds, too, had quit
baying and the wind had lulled. Not a rustle of a leaf! All the hunters
were likewise silent. I enjoyed a lonely hour there watching and
listening, not however without apprehensions of a bear coming along.
Certain I was that this canyon, which I christened Bear Canyon, had been
full of bears.
At length I espied Copple down on the edge of the opposite slope. The
way he toiled along proved how rough was the going. I watched him
through my glasses, and was again impressed with the strange difference
between the semblance of distance and the reality. Every few steps
Copple would halt to rest. He had to hold on to the brush and in the
bare places where he could not reach a bush he had to dig his heels into
the earth to keep from sliding down. In time he ascended to the place
where our grizzly had rolled down, and from there he yelled up to the
Haughts, high above him. They answered, and soon disappeared on the far
side of the bluff. Copple also disappeared going round under the wall of
yellow rock. Perhaps in fifteen minutes I heard them yell, and then a
wild clamor of the hounds. Some of the pack had been put on the trail of
our grizzly; but gradually the sound grew farther away.
This was too much for me. I decided to go down into the canyon.
Forthwith I started. It was easy to go down! As a matter of fact it was
hard not to slide down like a streak. That long, dark, narrow aisle
between the spruces had no charm for me anyway. Suppose I should meet a
bear coming up as I was sliding down! I sheered off and left the trail,
and also Copple's tracks. This was a blunder. I came out into more open
slope, but steeper, and harder to cling on. Ledges cropped out, cliffs
and ravines obstructed my passage and trees were not close enough to
help me much. Some long slopes of dark, mossy, bare earth I actually ran
down, trusting to light swift steps rather than slow careful ones. It
was exhilarating, that descent under the shady spruces. The lower down I
got the smaller and more numerous the trees. I could see where they left
off to the dense thicket that choked the lower part of the v-shaped
canyon. And I was amazed at the size and density of that jungle of scrub
oaks, maples and aspens. From above the color was a blaze of scarlet and
gold and green, with bronze tinge.
Presently I crossed a fresh bear track, so fresh that I could see the
dampness of the dark earth, the rolling of little particles, the
springing erect of bent grasses. In some places big sections of earth, a
yard wide had slipped under the feet of this particular bear. He
appeared to be working down. Right then I wanted to go up! But I could
not climb out there. I had to go down. Soon I was under low-spreading,
dense spruces, and I had to hold on desperately to keep from sliding.
All the time naturally I kept a keen lookout for a bear. Every stone and
tree trunk resembled a bear. I decided if I met a grizzly that I would
not annoy him on that slope. I would say: "Nice bear, I won't hurt you!"
Still the situation had some kind of charm. But to claim I was not
frightened would not be strictly truthful. I slid over the trail of that
bear into the trail of another one, and under the last big spruce on
that part of the slope I found a hollow nest of pine needles and leaves,
and if that bed was not still warm then my imagination lent considerable
to the moment.
Beyond this began the edge of the thicket. It was small pine at first,
so close together that I had to squeeze through, and as dark as
twilight. The ground was a slant of brown pine needles, so slippery,
that if I could not have held on to trees and branches I never would
have kept my feet. In this dark strip I had more than apprehensions.
What a comfortable place to encounter an outraged or wounded grizzly
bear! The manzanita thicket was preferable. But as Providence would have
it I did not encounter one.
Soon I worked or wormed out of the pines into the thicket of scrub oaks,
maples and aspens. The change was welcome. Not only did the slope
lengthen out, but the light changed from gloom to gold. There was half a
foot of scarlet, gold, bronze, red and purple leaves on the ground, and
every step I made I kicked acorns about to rustle and roll. Bear sign
was everywhere, tracks and trails and beds and scratches. I kept going
down, and the farther down I got the lighter it grew, and more
approaching a level. One glade was strangely luminous and beautiful with
a blending of gold and purple light made by the sun shining through the
leaves overhead down upon the carpet of leaves on the ground. Then I
came into a glade that reminded me of Kipling's moonlight dance of the
wild elephants. Here the leaves and fern were rolled and matted flat,
smooth as if done by a huge roller. Bears and bears had lolled and slept
and played there. A little below this glade was a place, shady and cool,
where a seep of water came from under a bank. It looked like a herd of
cattle had stamped the earth, only the tracks were bear tracks. Little
ones no longer than a child's hand, and larger, up to huge tracks a foot
long and almost as wide. Many were old, but some were fresh. This little
spot smelled of bear so strongly that it reminded me of the bear pen in
the Bronx Park Zoological Garden. I had been keen for sight of bear
trails and scent of bear fur, but this was a little too much. I thought
it was too much because the place was lonely and dark and absolutely
silent. I went on down to the gully that ran down the middle of the
canyon. It was more open here. The sun got through, and there were some
I could see the bluff that the Haughts had climbed so laboriously, and
now I understood why they had been so slow. It was straight up, brush
and jumbled rock, and two hundred feet over my head. Somewhere above
that bluff was the bluff where our bear had run along.
I rested and listened for the dogs. There was no wind to deceive me, but
I imagined I heard dogs everywhere. It seemed unwise for me to go on
down the canyon, for if I did not meet the men I would find myself lost.
As it was I would have my troubles climbing out.
I chose a part of the thicket some distance above where I had come down,
hoping to find it more open, if not less steep, and not so vastly
inhabited with bears. Lo and behold it was worse! It was thicker,
darker, wilder, steeper and there was, if possible, actually more bear
sign. I had to pull myself up by holding to the trees and branches. I
had to rest every few steps. I had to watch and listen all the time.
Half-way up the trunks of the aspens and oaks and maples were all bent
down-hill. They curved out and down before the rest of the tree stood
upright. And all the brush was flat, bending down hill, and absolutely
almost impassable. This feature of tree and brush was of course caused
by the weight of snow in winter. It would have been more interesting if
I had not been so anxious to get up. I grew hotter and wetter than I had
been in the manzanitas. Moreover, what with the labor and worry and
exhaustion, my apprehensions had increased. They increased until I had
to confess that I was scared. Once I heard a rustle and pad on the
leaves somewhere below. That made matters worse. Surely I would meet a
bear. I would meet him coming down-hill! And I must never shoot a bear
coming down-hill! Buffalo Jones had cautioned me on that score, so had
Scott Teague, the bear hunter of Colorado, and so had Haught. "Don't
never shoot no ole bar comin' down hill, 'cause if you do he'll just
roll up an' pile down on you!"
I climbed until my tongue hung out and my heart was likely to burst.
Then when I had to straddle a tree to keep from sliding down I got
desperate and mad and hoped an old grizzly would happen along to make an
end to my misery.
It took me an hour to climb up that part of the slope which constituted
the thicket of oak, maple and aspen. It was half-past three when finally
I reached the saddle where we had shot at the grizzly. I rested as long
as I dared. I had still a long way to go up that ridge to the rim, and
how did I know whether or not I could surmount it.
However, a good rest helped to revive strength and spirit. Then I
started. Once above the saddle I was out clear in the open, high above
the canyons, and the vast basin still farther below, yet far indeed
under the pine-fringed rim above. This climb was all over stone. The
ridge was narrow-crested, yellow, splintered rock, with a few dwarf
pines and spruces and an occasional bunch of manzanita. I did not hear a
sound that I did not make myself. Whatever had become of the hounds, and
the other hunters? The higher I climbed the more I liked it. After an
hour I was sure that I could reach the rim by this route, and of course
that stimulated me. To make sure, and allay doubt, I sat down on a high
backbone of bare rock and studied the heave and bulge of ridge above me.
Using my glasses I made sure that I could climb out. It would be a task
equal to those of lion-hunting days with Jones, and it made me happy to
realize that despite the intervening ten years I was still equal to the
Once assured of this I grew acute to the sensations of the hour. This
was one of my especial joys of the open--to be alone high on some
promontory, above wild and beautiful scenery. The sun was still an hour
from setting, and it had begun to soften, to grow intense, and more
golden. There were clouds and lights that promised a magnificent sunset.
So I climbed on. When I stopped to rest I would shove a stone loose and
watch it heave and slide, and leap out and hurtle down, to make the
dust fly, and crash into the thickets, and eventually start an avalanche
that would roar down into the canyon.
The Tonto Basin seemed a vast bowl of rolling, rough, black ridges and
canyons, green and dark and yellow, with the great mountain ranges
enclosing it to south and west. The black-fringed promontories of the
rim, bold and rugged, leagues apart, stood out over the void. The colors
of autumn gleamed under the cliffs, everywhere patches of gold and long
slants of green and spots of scarlet and clefts of purple.
The last benches of that ridge taxed my waning strength. I had to step
up, climb up, pull myself up, by hand and knee and body. My rifle grew
to weigh a ton. My cartridge belt was a burden of lead around my waist.
If I had been hot and wet below in the thicket I wondered what I grew on
the last steps of this ridge. Yet even the toil and the pain held a keen
pleasure. I did not analyze my feelings then, but it was good to be
The rim-rock came out to a point above me, seeming unscalable, all grown
over with brush and lichen, and stunted spruce. But by hauling myself
up, and crawling here, and winding under bridges of rock there, and
holding to the brush, at last, panting and spent, I reached the top.
I was ready to drop on the mats of pine needles and lie there,
unutterably grateful for rest, when I heard Old Tom baying, deep and
ringing and close. He seemed right under the rim on the side of the
ridge opposite to where I had climbed. I looked around. There was
George's horse tied to a pine, and farther on my own horse Stockings.
Then I walked to the rim and looked down into the gold and scarlet
thicket. Actually it seemed to me then, and always will seem, that the
first object I clearly distinguished was a big black bear standing in
an open aisle at the upper reach of the thicket close to the cliff. He
shone black as shiny coal. He was looking down into the thicket, as if
listening to the baying hound.
I could not repress an exclamation of surprise and thrilling excitement,
and I uttered it as I raised my rifle. Just the instant I saw his
shining fur through the circle of my rear sight he heard me and jumped,
and my bullet missed him. Like a black flash he was gone around a corner
of gray ledge.
"Well!" I ejaculated, suddenly weak. "After all this long day--to get a
chance like that--and miss!"
All that seemed left of that long day was the sunset, out of which I
could not be cheated by blunders or bad luck. Westward a glorious golden
ball blazed over the rim. Above that shone an intense belt of
color--Coleridge's yellow lightning--and it extended to a bank of cloud
that seemed transparent purple, and above all this flowed a sea of
purest blue sky with fleecy sails of pink and white and rose,
exquisitely flecked with gold.
Lost indeed was I to weariness and time until the gorgeous
transformation at last ended in dull gray. I walked along the rim, back
to where I had tied my horse. He saw me and whinnied before I located
the spot. I just about had strength enough left to straddle him. And
presently through the twilight shadows I caught a bright glimmer of our
camp-fire. Supper was ready; Takahashi grinned his concern away; all the
men were waiting for me; and like the Ancient Mariner I told my tale. As
I sat to a bountiful repast regaling myself, the talk of my companions
seemed absolutely satisfying.
George Haught, on a stand at the apex of the canyon, had heard and seen
a big brown bear climbing up through the thicket, and he had overshot
and missed. R.C. had espied a big black bear walking a slide some four
hundred yards down the canyon slope, and forgetting that he had a heavy
close-range shell in his rifle instead of one of high trajectory, he had
aimed accordingly, to undershoot half a foot and thus lose his
opportunity. Nielsen had been lost most of the day. It seemed everywhere
he heard yells and bays down in the canyon, and once he had heard a loud
rattling crash of a heavy bear tearing through the thicket. Edd told of
the fearful climb he and his father had made, how they had shot at the
grizzly a long way off, how funny another bear had rolled around in his
bed across the canyon. But the hounds got too tired to hold the trails
late in the day. And lastly Edd said: "When you an' Ben were smokin' the
grizzly I could hear the bullets hit close above us, an' I was sure
scared stiff for fear you'd roll him down on us. But father wasn't
scared. He said, 'let the old Jasper roll down! We'll assassinate him!'"
When the old bear hunter began to tell his part in the day's adventures
my pleasure was tinglingly keen and nothing was wanting on the moment
except that my boy Romer was not there to hear.
"Wal, shore it was an old bar day," said Haught, with quaint
satisfaction. His blue shirt, ragged and torn and black from brush,
surely attested to the truth of his words. "All told we seen five bars.
Two blacks, two browns an' the old Jasper. Some of them big fellars,
too. But we missed seein' the boss bar of this canyon. When Old Dan
opened up first off I wanted Edd to climb thet bluff. But Edd kept goin'
an' we lost our chance. Fer pretty soon we heard a bustin' of the brush.
My, but thet bar was rockin' her off. He knocked the brush like a wild
steer, an' he ran past us close--not a hundred yards. I never heard a
heavier bar. But we couldn't see him. Then Edd started up, an' thet
bluff was a wolf of a place. We was half up when I seen the grizzly thet
you an' Ben smoked afterward. He was far off, but Edd an' I lammed a
couple after him jest for luck. One of the pups was nippin' his heels.
Think it was Big Foot.... Wal, thet was all of thet. We plumb busted
ourselves gettin' on top of the bench to head off your bar. Only we
hadn't time. Then we worried along around to the top of thet higher
bluff an' there I was so played-out I thought my day had come. We kept
our eyes peeled, an' pretty soon I spied a big brown bar actin' queer in
an open spot across the canyon. Edd seen him too, an' we argued about
what thet bar was doin'. He lay in a small open place at the foot of a
spruce. He wagged his head slow an' he made as if to roll over, an' he
stretched his paws, an' acted shore queer. Edd said: 'Thet bar's
crippled. He's been shot by one of the boys, an' he's tryin' to get up.'
But I shore didn't exactly agree with Edd. So I was for watchin' him
some more. He looked like a sick bar--raisin' his head so slow an'
droppin' it so slow an' sort of twistin' his body. He looked like his
back had been broke an' he was tryin' to get up, but somehow I couldn't
believe thet. Then he lay still an' Edd swore he was dead. Shore I got
almost to believin' thet myself, when he waked up. An' then the old
scoundrel slid around lazy like a torn cat by the fire, and sort of
rolled on his back an' stretched. Next he slapped at himself with his
paws. If he wasn't sick he was shore actin' queer with thet canyon full
of crackin' guns an' bayin' hounds an' yellin' men. I begun to get
suspicious. Shore he must be a dyin' bear. So I said to Edd: 'Let's bast
him a couple just fer luck.' Wal, when we shot up jumped thet sick bar
quicker'n you could wink. An' he piled into the thicket while I was
goin' down after another shell.... It shore was funny. Thet old Jasper
never heard the racket, an' if he heard it he didn't care. He had a bed
in thet sunny spot an' he was foolin' around, playin' with himself like
a kitten. Playin'! An' Edd reckoned he was dyin' an' I come shore near
bein' fooled. The old Jasper! We'll assassinate him fer thet!"
Five more long arduous days we put in chasing bears under the rim from
Pyle's Canyon to Verde Canyon. In all we started over a dozen bears. But
I was inclined to think that we chased the same bears over and over from
one canyon to another. The boys got a good many long-range shots, which,
however, apparently did no damage. But as for me, the harder and farther
I tramped and the longer I watched and waited the less opportunity had I
to shoot a bear.
This circumstance weighed heavily upon the spirits of my comrades. They
wore their boots out, as well as the feet of the hounds, trying to chase
a bear somewhere near me. And wherever I stayed or went there was the
place the bears avoided. Edd and Neilsen lost flesh in this daily toil.
Haught had gloomy moments. But as for me the daily ten-or fifteen-mile
grind up and down the steep craggy slopes had at last trained me back to
my former vigorous condition, and I was happy. No one knew it, not even
R.C., but the fact was I really did not care in the least whether I shot
a bear or not. Bears were incidental to my hunting trip. I had not a
little secret glee over the praise accorded me by Copple and Haught and
Nielsen, who all thought that the way I persevered was remarkable. They
would have broken their necks to get me a bear. At times R.C. when he
was tired fell victim to discouragement and he would make some caustic
remark: "I don't know about you. I've a hunch you like to pack a rifle
because it's heavy. And you go dreaming along! Sometime a bear will rise
up and swipe you one!"
Takahashi passed from concern to grief over what he considered my bad
luck: "My goodnish! No see bear to-day?... Maybe more better luck
to-morrow." If I could have had some of Takahashi's luck I would
scarcely have needed to leave camp. He borrowed Nielsen's 30-40 rifle
and went hunting without ever having shot it. He rode the little
buckskin mustang, that, remarkable to state, had not yet thrown him or
kicked him. And on that occasion he led the mustang back to camp with a
fine two-point buck on the saddle. "Camp need fresh meat," said the Jap,
with his broad smile. "I go hunt. Ride along old road. Soon nice fat
deer walk out from bush. Twenty steps away--maybe. I get off. I no want
kill deer so close, so I walk on him. Deer he no scared. He jump off few
steps--stick up his ears--look at horse all same like he thought him
deer too. I no aim gun from shoulder. I just shoot. No good. Deer he
run. I aim then--way front of him--shoot--deer he drop right down
dead.... Aw, easy to get deer!"
I would have given a great deal to have been able to describe Haught's
face when the Jap finished his story of killing that deer. But such feat
was beyond human ingenuity. "Wal," ejaculated the hunter, "in all my
days raslin' round with fools packin' guns I never seen the likes of
thet. No wonder the Japs licked the Russians!" This achievement of
Takahashi's led me to suggest his hunting bear with us. "Aw sure--I kill
bear too," he said. Takahashi outwalked and outclimbed us all. He never
made detours. He climbed straight up or descended straight down. Copple
and Edd were compelled to see him take the lead and keep it. What a
wonderful climber! What a picture the sturdy little brown man made,
carrying a rifle longer than himself, agile and sure-footed as a goat,
perfectly at home in the depths or on the heights! I took occasion to
ask Takahashi if he had been used to mountain climbing in Japan. "Aw
sure. I have father own whole mountain more bigger here. I climb
high--saw wood. Leetle boy so big." And he held his hand about a foot
from the ground. Thus for me every day brought out some further
interesting or humorous or remarkable feature pertaining to Takahashi.
The next day added to the discouragement of my party. We drove Verde
Canyon and ran the dogs into a nest of steel-traps. Big Foot was caught
in one, and only the remarkable size and strength of his leg saved it
from being broken. Nielsen found a poor, miserable, little fox in a
trap, where it had been for days, and was nearly dead. Edd found a dead
skunk in another. He had to call the hounds in. We returned to camp.
That night was really the only cheerless one the men spent around the
fire. They did not know what to do. Manifestly with trappers in a
locality there could be no more bear chasing. Disappointment perched
upon the countenances of the Haughts and Copple and Nielsen. I let them
all have their say. Finally Haught spoke up: "Wal, fellars, I'm
figgerin' hard an' I reckon here's my stand. We jest naturally have to
get Doc an' his brother a bear apiece. Shore I expected we'd get 'em a
couple. Now, them traps we seen are all small. We didn't run across no
bear traps. An' I reckon we can risk the dogs. We'll shore go back an'
drive Verde Canyon. We can't do no worse than break a leg for a dog. I'd
hate to see thet happen to Old Dan or Tom. But we'll take a chance."
After that there fell a moment's silence. I could see from Edd's face
what a serious predicament this was. Nothing was plainer than his
fondness for the hounds. Finally he said: "Sure. We'll take a chance."
Their devotion to my interest, their simple earnestness, warmed me to
them. But not for all the bears under the rim would I have been
wittingly to blame for Old Dan or Old Tom breaking a leg.
"Men, I've got a better plan," I said. "We'll let the bears here rest
for a spell. Supplies are about gone. Let's go back to Beaver Dam camp
for a week or so. Rest up the hounds. Maybe we'll have a storm and a
cold snap that will improve conditions. Then we'll come back here. I'll
send Haught down to buy off the trappers. I'll pay them to spring their
traps and let us have our hunt without risk of the hounds."
Instantly the men brightened. The insurmountable obstacles seemed to
melt away. Only Haught demurred a little at additional and unreasonable
expense for me. But I cheered him over this hindrance, and the last part
of that evening round the camp-fire was very pleasant.
The following morning we broke camp, and all rode off, except Haught and
his son George, who remained to hunt a strayed burro. "Reckon thet lion
eat him. My best burro. He was the one your boy was always playin' with.
I'm goin' to assassinate thet lion."
On the way back to Beaver Dam camp I happened to be near Takahashi when
he dismounted to shoot at a squirrel. Returning to get back in the
saddle the Jap forgot to approach the mustang from the proper side.
There was a scuffle between Takahashi and the mustang as to which of
them should possess the bridle. The Jap lost this argument. Edd had to
repair the broken bridle. I watched Takahashi and could see that he did
not like the mustang any better than the mustang liked him. Soon the
struggle for supremacy would take place between this ill assorted rider
and horse. I rather felt inclined to favor the latter; nevertheless it
was only fair to Takahashi to admit that his buckskin-colored mustang
had some mean traits.
In due time I arrived at our permanent camp, to be the last to get in.
Lee and his father welcomed us as familiar faces in a strange land. As I
dismounted I heard heavy thuds and cracks accompanied by fierce
utterances in a foreign tongue. These sounds issued from the corral.
"I'll bet the Jap got what was coming to him," declared Lee.
We all ran toward the corral. A bunch of horses obstructed our view, and
we could not see Takahashi until we ran round to the other side. The Jap
had the buckskin mustang up in a corner and was vigorously whacking him
with a huge pole. Not by any means was the mustang docile. Like a mule,
he kicked. "Hey George," yelled Lee, "don't kill him! What's the
Takahashi slammed the mustang one parting blow, which broke the club,
and then he turned to us. We could see from dust and dirt on his person
that he had lately been in close relation to the earth. Takahashi's face
was pale except for a great red lump on his jaw. The Jap was terribly
angry. He seemed hurt, too. With a shaking hand he pointed to the bruise
on his jaw.
"Look what he do!" exclaimed Takahashi. "He throw me off!... He kick me
awful hard! I kill him sure next time."
Lee and I managed to conceal our mirth until our irate cook had gotten
out of hearing. "Look--what--he--do!" choked Lee, imitating Takahashi.
Then Lee broke out and roared. I had to join him. I laughed till I
cried. My family and friends severely criticise this primitive trait of
mine, but I can not help it. Later I went to Takahashi and asked to
examine his jaw, fearing it might have been broken. This fear of mine,
however, was unfounded. Moreover the Jap had recovered from his pain and
anger. "More better now," he said, with a grin. "Maybe my fault anyhow."
Next day we rested, and the following morning was so fine and clear and
frosty that we decided to go hunting. We rode east on the way to See
Lake through beautiful deep forest.
I saw a deer trotting away into the woods. I jumped off, jerked out my
gun, and ran hard, hoping to see him in an opening. Lo! I jumped a herd
of six more deer, some of them bucks. They plunged everywhere. I tried
frantically to get my sights on one. All I could aim at was bobbing
ears. I shot twice, and of course missed. R.C. shot four times, once at
a running buck, and three at a small deer that he said was flying!
Here Copple and Haught caught up with us. We went on, and turned off the
road on the blazed trail to See Lake. It was pretty open forest, oaks
and scattered pines, and a few spruce. The first park we came to was a
flat grassy open, with places where deer licked the bare earth. Copple
left several pounds of salt in these spots. R.C. and I went up to the
upper end where he had seen deer before. No deer this day! But saw three
turkeys, one an old gobbler. We lost sight of them.
Then Copple and R.C. went one way and Haught and I another. We went
clear to the rim, and then circled around, and eventually met R.C. and
Copple. Together we started to return. Going down a little draw we found
water, and R.C. saw where a rock had been splashed with water and was
still wet. Then I saw a turkey track upon this rock. We slipped up the
slope, with me in the lead. As I came out on top, I saw five big
gobblers feeding. Strange how these game birds thrilled me! One saw me
and started to run. Like a streak! Another edged away into pines. Then I
espied one with his head and neck behind a tree and he was scratching
away in the pine needles. I could not see much of him, but that little
was not running, so I drew down upon him, tried to aim fine, and fired.
He leaped up with a roar of wings, sending the dust and needles flying.
Then he dropped back, and like a flash darted into a thicket.
Another flew straight out of the glade. Another ran like an ostrich in
the same direction. I tried to get the sights on him. In vain!
R.C. and Copple chased these two speeding turkeys, and Haught and I went
the other way. We could find no trace of ours. And we returned to our
Presently we heard shots. One--two--three--pause--then several more. And
finally more, to a total number of fifteen. I could not stand that and I
had to hurry back into the woods. I saw one old gobbler running wildly
around as if lost, but I did not shoot at him because he seemed to be in
line with the direction which R.C. and Copple had taken. I should have
run after him until he went some other way.
I could not find the hunters, and returned to our resting place, which
they had reached ahead of me. They had a turkey each, gobblers about two
years old Copple said.
R.C. told an interesting story of how he had run in the direction the
two turkeys had taken, and suddenly flushed thirty or forty more, some
big old gobblers, but mostly young. They scattered and ran. He followed
as fast as he could, shooting a few times. Copple could not keep up with
him, but evidently had a few shots himself. R.C. chased most of the
flock across several small canyons, till he came to a deep canyon. Here
he hoped to make a killing when the turkeys ran up the far slope. But
they flew across! And he heard them clucking over there. He crossed, and
went on cautiously. Once he saw three turkey heads sticking above a log.
Wise old gobblers! They protected their bodies while they watched for
him. He tried to get sidewise to them but they ran off. Then he followed
until once more he heard clucking.
Here he sat down, just beyond the edge of a canyon, and began to call
with his turkey wing. It thrilled him to hear his calls answered on all
sides. Here was a wonderful opportunity. He realized that the turkeys
were mostly young and scattered, and frightened, and wanted to come
together. He kept calling, and as they neared him on all sides he felt
something more than the zest of hunting. Suddenly Copple began to shoot.
Spang! Spang! Spang! R.C. saw the dust fly under one turkey. He heard
the bullet glance. The next shot killed a turkey. Then R.C. yelled that
he was no turkey! Then of that scattering flock he managed to knock over
one for himself.
Copple had been deceived by the call of an amateur. That flattered R.C.,
but he was keenly disappointed that Copple had spoiled the situation.
During the day the blue sky was covered by thin flying clouds that
gradually thickened and darkened. The wind grew keener and colder, and
veered to the southwest. We all said storm. There was no sunset Darker
clouds rolled up, obliterating the few stars.
We went to bed. Long after that I heard the swell and roar and crash and
lull of the wind in the pines, a sound I had learned to love in Buckskin
Forest with Buffalo Jones. At last I fell asleep.
Sometime in the night I awoke. A fine rain was pattering on the tent.
It grew stronger. After a while I went to sleep again. Upon awakening I
found that the storm had struck with a vengeance. It was dull gray
daylight, foggy, cold, windy, with rain and snow.
I got up, built a fire, puttered around the tents to loosen the ground
ropes, and found that it was nipping cold. My fingers ached. The storm
increased, and then we fully appreciated the tent with stove. The rain
roared on the tent roof, and all morning the wind increased, and the air
grew colder. I hoped it would turn to snow.
Soon indeed we were storm bound. On the third day the wind reached a
very high velocity. The roar in the pines was stupendous. Many times I
heard the dull crash of a falling tree. With the ground saturated by the
copious rain, and the fury of the storm blast, a great many trees were
felled. That night it rained all night, not so hard, but steadily, now
low, now vigorously. After morning snow began to fall. But it did not
lay long. After a while it changed to sleet. At times the dark,
lowering, scurrying clouds broke to emit a flare of sunshine and to show
a patch of blue. These last however were soon obscured by the scudding
gray pall. Every now and then a little shower of rain or sleet pattered
on the tents. We looked for a clearing up.
That night about eight o'clock the clouds vanished and stars shone. In
the night the wind rose and roared. In the morning all was dark, cloudy,
raw, cold. But the wind had died out, and there were spots of blue
showing. These spots enlarged as the morning advanced, and about nine
the sun, golden and dazzling, beautified the forest. "Bright sunny days
will soon come again!"
It was good to have hope and belief in that.
All the horses but Don Carlos weathered the storm in good shape. Don
lost considerable weight. He had never before been left with hobbled
feet to shift for himself in a prolonged storm of rain, sleet and snow.
He had cut himself upon brush, and altogether had fared poorly. He
showed plainly that he had been neglected. Don was the only horse I had
ever known of that did not welcome the wilderness and companionship with
We rested the following day, and on the next we packed and started back
to Dude Creek. It was a cold, raw, bitter day, with a gale from the
north, such a day as I could never have endured had I not become
hardened. As it was I almost enjoyed wind and cold. What a
transformation in the woods! The little lakes were all frozen over;
pines, moss, grass were white with frost. The sear days had come. Not a
leaf showed in the aspen and maple thickets. The scrub oaks were shaggy
and ragged, gray as the rocks. From the rim the slopes looked steely and
dark, thinned out, showing the rocks and slides.
When we reached our old camp in Barber Shop Canyon we were all glad to
see Haught's lost burro waiting for us there. Not a scratch showed on
the shaggy lop-eared little beast. Haught for once unhobbled a burro and
set it free without a parting kick. Nielsen too had observed this
omission on Haught's part. Nielsen was a desert man and he knew burros.
He said prospectors were inclined to show affection for burros by sundry
cuffs and kicks. And Nielsen told me a story about Haught. It seemed the
bear hunter was noted for that habit of kicking burros. Sometimes he was
in fun and sometimes, when burros were obstinate, he was in earnest.
Upon one occasion a big burro stayed away from camp quite a long
time--long enough to incur Haught's displeasure. He needed the burro and
could not find it, and all he could do was to hunt for it. Upon
returning to camp there stood the big gray burro, lazy and fat, just as
if he had been perfectly well behaved. Haught put a halter on the burro,
using strong language the while, and then he proceeded to exercise his
habit of kicking burros. He kicked this one until its fat belly gave
forth sounds exceedingly like a bass drum. When Haught had ended his
exercise he tied up the burro. Presently a man came running into
Haught's camp. He appeared alarmed. He was wet and panting. Haught
recognized him as a miner from a mine nearby. "Hey Haught," panted the
miner, "hev you seen--your gray burro--thet big one--with white face?"
"Shore, there he is," replied Haught. "Son of a gun jest rustled home."
The miner appeared immensely relieved. He looked and looked at the gray
burro as if to make sure it was there, in the solid flesh, a really
tangible object. Then he said: "We was all afeared you'd kick the
stuffin's out of him!... Not an hour ago he was over at the mine, an' he
ate five sticks of dynamite! Five sticks! For Lord's sake handle him
Haught turned pale and suddenly sat down. "Ahuh!" was all he said. But
he had a strange hunted look. And not for a long time did he ever again
kick a burro!
* * * * *
Hunting conditions at Dude Creek had changed greatly to our benefit. The
trappers had pulled up stakes and gone to some other section of the
country. There was not a hunting party within fifteen miles of our camp.
Leaves and acorns were all down; trails were soft and easy to travel; no
dust rose on the southern slopes; the days were cold and bright; in
every pocket and ravine there was water for the dogs; from any stand we
could see into the shaggy thickets where before all we could see was a
blaze of color.
In three days we drove Pyle's Canyon, Dude Creek, and the small
adjoining canyons, chasing in all nine bears, none of which ran anywhere
near R.C. or me. Old Dan gave out and had to rest every other day. So
the gloom again began to settle thick over the hopes of my faithful
friends. Long since, as in 1918, I had given up expectations of bagging
a bear or a buck. For R.C., however, my hopes still held good. At least
I did not give up for him. But he shared somewhat the feelings of the
men. Still he worked harder than ever, abandoning the idea of waiting on
one of the high stands, and took to the slopes under the rim where he
toiled down and up all day long. It pleased me to learn, presently, that
this activity, strenuous as it was, became a source of delight to him.
How different such toil was from waiting and watching on the rim!
On November first, a bitter cold morning, with ice in the bright air, we
went back to Pyle's Canyon, and four of us went down with Edd and the
hounds. We had several chases, and about the middle of the forenoon I
found myself alone, making tracks for the saddle over-looking Bear
Canyon. Along the south side of the slope, in the still air the sun was
warm, but when I got up onto the saddle, in an exposed place, the wind
soon chilled me through. I would keep my stand until I nearly froze,
then I had to go around to the sunny sheltered side and warm up. The
hounds finally got within hearing again, and eventually appeared to be
in Bear Canyon, toward the mouth. I decided I ought to go round the
ridge on the east side and see if I could hear better. Accordingly I set
off, and the hard going over the sunny slope was just what I needed.
When I reached the end of the ridge, under the great dome, I heard the
hounds below me, somewhat to my left. Running and plowing down through
the brush I gained the edge of the bluff, just in time to see some of
the hounds passing on. They had run a bear through that thicket, and if
I had been there sooner I would have been fortunate. But too late! I
worked around the head of this canyon and across a wide promontory.
Again I heard the hounds right under me. They came nearer, and soon I
heard rolling rocks and cracking brush, which sounds I believed were
made by a bear. After a while I espied Old Tom and Rock working up the
canyon on a trail. Then I was sure I would get a shot. Presently,
however, Old Tom left the trail and started back. Rock came on, climbed
the ridge, and hearing me call he came to me. I went over to the place
where he had climbed out and found an enormous bear track pointing in
the direction the hounds had come. They had back-trailed him. Rock went
back to join Old Tom. Some of the pack were baying at a great rate in
the mouth of the next canyon. But an impassable cliff prevented me from
working around to that point. So I had to address myself to the long
steep climb upward. I had not gone far when I crossed the huge bear
track that Rock and Old Tom had given up. This track was six inches wide
and ten inches long. The bear that had made it had come down this very
morning from over the ridge east of Bear Canyon. I trailed him up this
ridge, over the steepest and roughest and wildest part of it, marveling
at the enormous steps and jumps he made, and at the sagacity which
caused him to choose this route instead of the saddle trail where I had
waited so long. His track led up nearly to the rim and proved how he had
climbed over the most rugged break in the ridge. Indeed he was one of
the wise old scoundrels. When I reached camp I learned that Sue and
several more of the hounds had held a bear for some time in the box of
the canyon just beyond where I had to give up. Edd and Nielsen were
across this canyon, unable to go farther, and then yelled themselves
hoarse, trying to call some of us. I asked Edd if he saw the bear. "Sure
did," replied Edd. "One of them long, lean, hungry cinnamons." I had to
laugh, and told how near I had come to meeting a bear that was short,
fat, and heavy: "One of the old Jasper scoundrels!"
That night at dark the wind still blew a gale, and seemed more bitterly
cold. We hugged the camp-fire. My eyes smarted from the smoke and my
face grew black. Before I went to bed I toasted myself so thoroughly
that my clothes actually burned me as I lay down. But they heated the
blankets and that made my bed snug and soon I was in the land of dreams.
During the night I awoke. The wind had lulled. The canopy above was
clear, cold, starry, beautiful. When we rolled out the mercury showed
ten above zero. Perhaps looking at the thermometer made us feel colder,
but in any event we would have had to move about to keep warm. I built a
fire and my hands were blocks of ice when I got the blaze stirring.
That day, so keen and bright, so wonderful with its clarity of
atmosphere and the breath of winter through the pines, promised to be as
exciting as it was beautiful. Maybe this day R.C. would bag a bear!
When we reached the rim the sunrise was just flushing the purple basin,
flooding with exquisite gold and rose light the slumberous shadows. What
a glorious wilderness to greet the eye at sunrise! I suffered a pang to
realize what men missed--what I had to miss so many wonderful mornings.
We had made our plan. The hounds had left a bear in the second canyon
east of Dude. Edd started down. Copple and Takahashi followed to hug the
lower slopes. Nielsen and Haught and George held to the rim to ride east
in case the hounds chased a bear that way. And R.C. and I were to try to
climb out and down a thin rock-crested ridge which, so far as Haught
knew, no one had ever been on.
Looked at from above this ridge was indeed a beautiful and rugged
backbone of rock, sloping from the rim, extending far out and down--a
very narrow knife-edge extended promontory, green with cedar and pine,
yellow and gray with its crags and rocks. A craggy point comparable to
some of those in the Grand Canyon! We had to study a way to get across
the first deep fissures, and eventually descended far under the crest
and climbed back. It was desperately hard work, for we had so little
time. R.C. was to be at the middle of that ridge and I at the end in an
hour. Like Trojans we worked. Some slippery pine-needle slopes we had to
run across, for light quick steps were the only means of safe travel.
And that was not safe! When we surmounted to the crest we found a jumble
of weathered rocks ready to slide down on either side. Slabs, pyramids,
columns, shale, rocks of all shapes except round, lay toppling along the
heaved ridge. It seemed the whole ridge was ready to thunder down into
the abyss. Half a mile down and out from the rim we felt lost, marooned.
But there was something splendidly thrilling in our conquest of that
narrow upflung edge of mountain. Twice R.C. thought we would have to
abandon further progress, but I found ways to go on. How lonely and wild
out there! No foot save an Indian's had ever trod those gray rocks or
brown mats of pine needles.
Before we reached the dip or saddle where R.C. was to make his stand the
hounds opened up far below. The morning was perfectly still, an unusual
occurrence there along the rim. What wild music! Then Edd's horn pealed
out, ringing melody, a long blast keen and clear, telling us above that
he had started a bear. That made us hurry. We arrived at the head of an
incline leading down to R.C.'s stand. As luck would have it the place
was ideal for a bear, but risky for a hunter. A bear could come four
ways without being seen until he was close enough to kill a man. We
hurried on. At the saddle there was a broad bear trail with several
other trails leading into it. Suddenly R.C. halted me with a warning
I heard a faint clear rifle shot. Then another, and a fainter yell. We
stood there and counted eleven more shots. Then the bay of the hounds
seemed to grow closer. We had little time to pick and choose stands. I
had yet to reach the end of the ridge--a task requiring seven-league
boots. But I took time to choose the best possible stand for R.C. and
that was one where a bear approaching from only the east along under the
ridge could surprise him. In bad places like this we always tried to
have our minds made up what to do and where to get in case of being
charged by a wounded grizzly. In this instance there was not a rock or a
tree near at hand. "R.C. you'll have to stand your ground and kill him,
that's all," I declared, grimly. "But it's quiet. You can hear a bear
coming. If you do hear one--wait--and make sure your first shot lets him
"Don't worry. I could hear a squirrel coming over this ground," replied
Then I went on, not exactly at ease in mind, but stirred and thrilled to
the keen charged atmosphere. I had to go around under the base of a
rocky ledge, over rough ground. Presently I dropped into a bear trail,
well trodden. I followed it to a corner of cliff where it went down.
Then I kept on over loose rock and bare earth washed deep in ruts. I had
to leap these. Perhaps in ten minutes I had traveled a quarter of a mile
or less. Then spang! R.C.'s rifle-shot halted me. So clear and sharp,
so close, so startling! I was thrilled, delighted--he had gotten a
shot. I wanted to yell my pleasure. My blood warmed and my nerves
tingled. Swiftly my thoughts ran--bad luck was nothing--a man had only
to stick at a thing--what a fine, sharp, wonderful day for adventure!
How the hounds bayed! Had R.C. sighted a bear somewhere below? Suddenly
the still air split--spang! R.C.'s second shot gave me a shock. My
breast contracted. I started back. "Suppose it was a grizzly--on that
bad side!" I muttered. Spang!... I began to run. A great sweeping wave
of emotion charged over me, swelling all my veins to the bursting point.
Spang! My heart came to my throat. Leaping the ruts, bounding like a
sheep from rock to rock, I covered my back tracks. All inside me seemed
to flutter, yet I felt cold and hard--a sickening sense of reproach that
I had left my brother in a bad position. Spang! His fifth and last
shot followed swiftly after the fourth--too swift to be accurate. So
hurriedly a man would act in close quarters. R.C. now had an empty
rifle!... Like a flash I crossed that slope leading to the rocks, and
tore around the cliff at such speed that it was a wonder I did not pitch
down and break my neck. How long--how terribly long I seemed in reaching
the corner of cliff! Then I plunged to a halt with eyes darting
R.C. was not in sight. The steep curved neck of slope seemed all rocks,
all trees, all brush. Then I heard a wild hoarse bawl and a loud
crashing of brush. My gaze swerved to an open spot. A patch of manzanita
seemed to blur round a big bear, standing up, fighting the branches,
threshing and growling. But where was R.C.? Fearfully my gaze peered
near and all around this wounded bear. "Hey there!" I yelled with all my
R.C.'s answer was another spang. I heard the bullet hit the bear. It
must have gone clear through him for I saw bits of fur and manzanita
fly. The bear plunged out of the bushes--out of my sight. How he crashed
the brush--rolled the rocks! I listened. Down and down he crashed. Then
the sound changed somewhat. He was rolling. At last that thumping sound
ceased, and after it the roll of rocks.
"Are you--all right?" I shouted.
Then, after a moment that made me breathless, I heard R.C. laugh, a
little shakily. "Sure am.... Did you see him?"
"Yes. I think he's your bear."
"I'm afraid he's got away. The hounds took another bear down the canyon.
What'll we do?"
"Come on down," I said.
Fifty yards or more down the slope we met. I showed him a great splotch
of blood on a flat stone. "We'll find him not far down," I said. So we
slid and crawled, and held to brush and rocks, following that bloody
trail until we came to a ledge. From there I espied the bear lodged
against a manzanita bush. He lay on his back, all four paws extended,
and he was motionless. R.C. and I sat down right there on the ledge.
"Looks pretty big--black and brown--mostly brown," I said. "I'm glad,
old man, you stuck it out."
"Big!..." exclaimed R.C. with that same peculiar little laugh. "He
doesn't look big now. But up there he looked like a hill.... What do you
think? He came up that very way you told me to look out for. And if I
hadn't had ears he'd got right on me. As it was, when I heard little
rolling stones, and then saw him, he was almost on a level with me. My
nerve was all right. I knew I had him. And I made sure of my first shot.
I knocked him flat. But he got up--let out an awful snarl--and plunged
my way. I can't say I know he charged me. Only it was just the same as
if he had!... I knocked him down again and this time he began to kick
and jump down the slope. That was my best shot. Think I missed him the
next three. You see I had time to get shaky. If he had kept coming at
me--good night!... I had trouble loading. But when I got ready again I
ran down and saw him in that bush. Wasn't far from him then. When he let
out that bawl he saw me. I don't know much about bears, but I know he
wanted to get at me. And I'm sure of what he'd have done.... I didn't
miss my last shot."
We sat there a while longer, slowly calming down. Wonderful indeed had
been some of the moments of thrill, but there had been others not
conducive to happiness. Why do men yearn for adventure in wild moments
and regret the risks and spilled blood afterward?
The hounds enjoyed a well-earned rest the next day. R.C. and I, behind
Haught's back, fed them all they could eat. The old hunter had a fixed
idea that dogs should be kept lean and hungry so they would run bears
the better. Perhaps he was right. Only I could not withstand Old Dan and
Old Tom as they limped to me, begging and whining. Yet not even sore
feet and hunger could rob these grand old hounds of their dignity. For
an hour that morning I sat beside them in a sunny spot.
In the afternoon Copple took me on a last deer hunt for that trip. We
rode down the canyon a mile, and climbed out on the west slope. Haught
had described this country as a "wolf" to travel. He used that word to
designate anything particularly tough. We found the ridge covered with a
dense forest, in places a matted jungle of pine saplings. These thickets
were impenetrable. Heavy snows had bent the pines so that they grew at
an angle. We found it necessary to skirt these thickets, and at that,
sometimes had to cut our way through with our little axes. Hunting was
scarcely possible under such conditions. Still we did not see any deer
Eventually we crossed this ridge, or at least the jungle part of it, and
got lower down into hollows and swales full of aspens. Copple recognized
country he had hunted before. We made our way up a long shallow hollow
that ended in an open where lay the remains of an old log cabin, and
corrals. From under a bluff bubbled a clear beautiful spring. Copple
looked all around slowly, with strange expression, and at last,
dismounting he knelt to drink of the spring.
"Ah-h-good!" he exclaimed, after a deep draught. "Get down an' drink.
Snow water an' it never goes dry."
Indeed it was so cold it made my teeth ache, and so pure and sweet that
I drank until I could hold no more. Deer and cat and bear tracks showed
along the margin of clean sand. Lower down were fresh turkey tracks. A
lonely spring in the woods visited by wild game! This place was
singularly picturesque and beautiful. The purest drinking water is found
in wild forest or on mountains. Men, cities, civilization contaminate
waters that are not isolated.
Copple told me a man named Mitchell had lived in that lonely place
thirty years ago. Copple, as a boy, had worked for him--had ridden wild
bronchos and roped wild steers in that open, many and many a day.
Something of unconscious pathos showed in Copple's eyes as he gazed
around, and in his voice. We all hear the echoing footsteps of the past
years! In those days Copple said the ranch was overrun by wild game, and
wild horses too.
We rode on westward, to come out at length on the rim of a magnificent
canyon. It was the widest and deepest and wildest gorge I had come
across in this country. So deep that only a faint roar of running water
reached our ears! The slopes were too steep for man, let alone a horse;
and the huge cliffs and giant spruces gave it a singularly rugged
appearance. We saw deer on the opposite slope. Copple led along the
edge, searching for traces of an old trail where Mitchell used to drive
cattle across. We did not find a trail, but we found a place where
Copple said one used to be. I could see no signs of it. Here leading his
horse with one hand and wielding his little axe with the other Copple
started down. For my part I found going down remarkably easy. The only
trouble I had was to hold on, so I would not go down like a flash.
Stockings, my horse, had in a few weeks become a splendid traveler in
the forest. He had learned to restrain his spirit and use his
intelligence. Wherever I led he would go and that without any fear.
There is something fine in constant association with an intelligent
horse under such circumstances. In bad places Stockings braced his
forefeet, sat on his haunches, and slid, sometimes making me jump to get
out of his way. We found the canyon bed a narrow notch, darkly rich and
green, full of the melody of wild birds and murmuring brook, with huge
rocks all stained gold and russet, and grass as high as our knees. Frost
still lingered in the dark, cool, shady retreat; and where the sun
struck a narrow strip of the gorge there was warm, sweet, dry breath of
the forest. But for the most part, down here all was damp, dank, cool
shadow where sunshine never reached, and where the smells were of dead
leaves and wet moss and ferns and black rich earth.
Impossible we found it to ascend the other slope where we had seen the
deer, so we had to ride up the canyon, a matter greatly to my liking.
Copple thought I was hunting with him, but really, except to follow him,
I did not think of the meaning of his slow wary advance. Only a few more
days had I to roam the pine-scented forest. That ride up this deep gorge
was rich in sensation. Sun and sky and breeze and forest encompassed me.
The wilderness was all about me; and I regretted when the canyon lost
its splendid ruggedness, and became like the others I had traversed, and
at last grew to be a shallow grassy ravine, with patches of gray aspens
along the tiny brook.
As we climbed out once more, this time into an open, beautiful pine
forest, with little patches of green thicket, I seemed to have been
drugged by the fragrance and the color and the beauty of the wild. For
when Copple called low and sharp: "Hist!" I stared uncomprehendingly at
"Deer!" he whispered, pointing. "Get off an' smoke 'em up!"
Something shot through me--a different kind of thrill. Ahead in the open
I saw gray, graceful, wild forms trotting away. Like a flash I slid off
my horse and jerked out my rifle. I ran forward a few steps. The deer
had halted--were gazing at us with heads up and ears high. What a wild
beautiful picture! As I raised my rifle they seemed to move and vanish
in the green. The hunter in me, roused at last, anathematized my
miserable luck. I ran ahead another few steps, to be halted by Copple.
"Buck!" he called, sharply. "Hurry!" Then, farther on in the open, out
in the sunlight, I saw a noble stag, moving, trotting toward us. Keen,
hard, fierce in my intensity, I aligned the sights upon his breast and
fired. Straight forward and high he bounded, to fall with a heavy thud.
Copple's horse, startled by my shot, began to snort and plunge. "Good
shot," yelled Copple. "He's our meat."
What possessed me I knew not, but I ran ahead of Copple. My eyes
searched avidly the bush-dotted ground for my quarry. The rifle felt hot
in my tight grip. All inside me was a tumult--eager, keen, wild
excitement. The great pines, the green aisles leading away into the
woods, the shadows under the thickets, the pine-pitch tang of the air,
the loneliness of that lonely forest--all these seemed familiar, sweet,
beautiful, things mine alone, things seen and smelled and felt before,
things ... Then suddenly I ran right upon my deer, lying motionless,
dead I thought. He appeared fairly large, with three-point antlers. I
heard Copple's horse thudding the soft earth behind me, and I yelled: "I
got him, Ben." That was a moment of exultation.
It ended suddenly. Something halted me. My buck, now scarcely fifteen
feet from me, began to shake and struggle. He raised his head, uttering
a choking gasp. I heard the flutter of blood in his throat. He raised
himself on his front feet and lifted his head high, higher, until his
nose pointed skyward and his antlers lay back upon his shoulders. Then a
strong convulsion shook him. I heard the shuddering wrestle of his whole
body. I heard the gurgle and flow of blood. Saw the smoke of fresh blood
and smelled it! I saw a small red spot in his gray breast where my
bullet had struck. I saw a great bloody gaping hole on his rump where
the.30 Gov't expanding bullet had come out. From end to end that bullet
had torn! Yet he was not dead. Straining to rise again!
I saw, felt all this in one flashing instant. And as swiftly my spirit
changed. What I might have done I never knew, but most likely I would
have shot him through the brain. Only a sudden action of the stag
paralyzed all my force. He lowered his head. He saw me. And dying, with
lungs and heart and bowels shot to shreds, he edged his stiff front feet
toward me, he dragged his afterquarters, he slid, he flopped, he
skittered convulsively at me. No fear in the black, distended, wild
Only hate, only terrible, wild, unquenchable spirit to live long enough
to kill me! I saw it, He meant to kill me. How magnificent, how horrible
this wild courage! My eyes seemed riveted upon him, as he came closer,
closer. He gasped. Blood sputtered from his throat. But more terrible
than agony, than imminent death was the spirit of this wild beast to
slay its enemy. Inch by inch he skidded closer to me, with a convulsive
quivering awful to see. No veil of the past, no scale of civilization
between beast and man then! Enemies as old as the earth! I had shot him
to eat, and he would kill me before he died. For me the moment was
monstrous. No hunter was I then, but a man stricken by the spirit and
mystery of life, by the agony and terror of death, by the awful strange
sense that this stag would kill me.
But Copple galloped up, and drawing his revolver, he shot the deer
through the head. It fell in a heap.
"Don't ever go close to a crippled deer," admonished my comrade, as he
leaped off his horse. "I saw a fellow once that was near killed by a
buck he'd taken for dead.... Strange the way this buck half stood up.
Reckon he meant bad, but he was all in. You hit him plumb center."
"Yes, Ben, it was--strange," I replied, soberly. I caught Copple's keen
dark glance studying me. "When you open him up--see what my bullet did,
"All right. Help me hang him to a snag here," returned Copple, as he
untied his lasso.
When we got the deer strung up I went off into the woods, and sat on a
log, and contended with a queer sort of sickness until it passed away.
But it left a state of mind that I knew would require me to probe into
myself, and try to understand once and for all time this bloodthirsy
tendency of man to kill. It would force me to try to analyze the
psychology of hunting. Upon my return to Copple I found he had the buck
ready to load upon his horse. His hands were bright red. He was wiping
his hunting-knife on a bunch of green pine needles.
"That 150-grain soft-nose bullet is some executioner," he declared,
forcefully. "Your bullet mushroomed just after it went into his breast.
It tore his lung to pieces, cut open his heart, made a mess of kidneys
an' paunch, an' broke his spine.... An' look at this hole where it came
I helped Copple heave the load on his saddle and tie it securely, and I
got my hands red at the job, but I did not really look at the buck
again. And upon our way back to camp I rode in the lead all the way. We
reached camp before sunset, where I had to endure the felicitations of
R.C. and my comrades, all of whom were delighted that at last I had
gotten a buck. Takahashi smiled all over his broad brown face. "My
goodnish! I awful glad! Nice fat deer!"
That night I lay awake a long time, and though aware of the moan of the
wind in the pines and the tinkle of the brook, and the melancholy hoot
of an owl, and later the still, sad, black silence of the midnight
hours, I really had no pleasure in them. My mind was active.
Boys are inherently cruel. The games they play, at least those they
invent, instinctively partake of some element of brute nature. They
chase, they capture, they imprison, they torture, and they kill. No
secret rendezvous of a boy's pirate gang ever failed to be soaked with
imaginary blood! And what group of boys have not played at being
pirates? The Indian games are worse--scalping, with red-hot cinders
thrown upon the bleeding head, and the terrible running of the gauntlet,
and burning at the stake.
What youngster has not made wooden knives to spill the blood of his
pretended enemies? Little girls play with dolls, and with toy houses,
and all the implements of making a home; but sweet and dear as the
little angels are they love a boy's game, and if they can through some
lucky accident participate in one it is to scream and shudder and fight,
indeed like the females of the species. No break here between these
little mothers of doll-babies and the bloody mothers of the French
Revolution, or of dusky, naked, barbarian children of a primitive day!
Boys love the chase. And that chase depends upon environment. For want
of wild game they will harry a poor miserable tom-cat with sticks and
stones. I belonged once to a gang of young ruffians who chased the
neighbor's chickens, killed them with clubs, and cooked them in tin
cans, over a hidden fire. Boys love nothing so much as to chase a
squirrel or a frightened little chipmunk back and forth along a rail
fence. They brandish their sticks, run and yell, dart to and fro, like
young Indians. They rob bird's nests, steal the eggs, pierce them and
blow them. They capture the young birds, and are not above killing the
parents that fly frantically to the rescue. I knew of boys who ground
captured birds to death on a grindstone. Who has not seen a boy fling
stones at a helpless hop-toad?
As boys grow older to the age of reading they select, or at least love
best, those stories of bloodshed and violence. Stevenson wrote that boys
read for some element of the brute instinct in them. His two wonderful
books Treasure Island and Kidnapped are full of fight and the
killing of men. Robinson Crusoe is the only great boy's book I ever
read that did not owe its charm to fighting. But still did not old
Crusoe fight to live on his lonely island? And this wonderful tale is
full of hunting, and has at the end the battle with cannibals.
When lads grow up they become hunters, almost without exception, at
least in spirit if not in deed. Early days and environment decide
whether or not a man becomes a hunter. In all my life I have met only
two grown men who did not care to go prowling and hunting in the woods
with a gun. An exception proves a great deal, but all the same most men,
whether they have a chance or not, love to hunt. Hunters, therefore,
there are of many degrees. Hunters of the lowly cotton-tail and the
woodland squirrel; hunters of quail, woodcock, and grouse; hunters of
wild ducks and geese; hunters of foxes--the red-coated English and the
homespun clad American; hunters--which is a kinder name for trappers--of
beaver, marten, otter, mink, all the furred animals; hunters of deer,
cat, wolf, bear, antelope, elk, moose, caribou; hunters of the barren
lands where the ice is king and where there are polar bears, white
foxes, musk-ox, walrus. Hunters of different animals of different
countries. African hunters for lion, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo,
eland, hartebeest, giraffe, and a hundred species made known to all the
world by such classical sportsmen as Selous, Roosevelt, Stewart Edward
But they are all hunters and their game is the deadly chase in the open
or the wild. There are hunters who hate action, who hate to walk and
climb and toil and wear themselves out to get a shot. Such men are
hunters still, but still not men! There are hunters who have game driven
up to them. I heard a story told by an officer whom I believe. In the
early days of the war he found himself somewhere on the border between
Austria and Germany. He was invited to a hunt by personages of high
degree. They motored to a sequestered palace in the forest, and next day
motored to a shooting-lodge. At daylight he was called, and taken to the
edge of a forest and stationed in an open glade. His stand was an
upholstered divan placed high in the forks of a tree. His guide told him
that pretty soon a doe would come out of the forest. But he was not to
shoot it. In fifteen minutes a lame buck would come out. But he was not
to shoot that one either. In ten more minutes another buck would come
out, and this third deer he was to kill. My informant told me this was
all very seriously meant. The gun given him was large enough in calibre
to kill an elephant. He walked up the steps to the comfortable divan and
settled himself to await events. The doe trotted out exactly on schedule
time. So did the lame buck. They came from the woods and were not
frightened. The third deer, a large buck, was a few moments late--three
minutes to be exact. According to instructions the American killed this
buck--a matter that took some nerve he said, for the buck walked out
like a cow. That night a big supper was given in the guest's honor. He
had to eat certain parts of the buck he had killed, and drink flagons of
wine. This kind of hunting must be peculiarly German or Austrian, and
illustrates the peculiar hunting ways of men.
A celebrated bear hunter and guide of the northwest told me that for
twenty years he had been taking eastern ministers--preachers of the
gospel--on hunting trips into the wild. He assured me that of all the
bloody murderers--waders in gore, as he expressed it--these teachers of
the gospel were the worst. The moment they got out into the wild they
wanted to kill, kill, kill. He averred their natures seemed utterly to
In reading the books of hunters and in listening to their talks at
Camp-fire Club dinners I have always been struck with the expression of
what these hunters felt, what they thought they got out of hunting. The
change from city to the open wilderness; the difference between noise,
tumult, dirt, foul air, and the silence, the quiet, the cleanness and
purity; the sweet breath of God's country as so many called it; the
beauty of forest and mountain; the wildness of ridge and valley; the
wonder of wild animals in their native haunts; and the zest, the joy,
the excitement, the magnificent thrill of the stalk and the chase. No
one of them ever dwelt upon the kill! It was mentioned, as a result, an
end, a consummation. How strange that hunters believed these were the
attractions of the chase! They felt them, to be sure, in some degree, or
they would not remember them. But they never realized that these
sensations were only incidental to hunting.
Men take long rides, hundreds and thousands of miles, to hunt. They
endure hardships, live in camps with absolute joy. They stalk through
the forest, climb the craggy peaks, labor as giants in the building of
the pyramids, all with a tight clutch on a deadly rifle. They are keen,
intent, strained, quiveringly eager all with a tight clutch on a deadly
rifle. If hunters think while on a stalk--which matter I doubt
considerably--they think about the lay of the land, or the aspect of it,
of the habits and possibilities of their quarry, of their labor and
chances, and particularly of the vague unrealized sense of comfort,
pleasure, satisfaction in the moment. Tight muscles, alert eyes,
stealthy steps, stalk and run and crawl and climb, breathlessness, a hot
close-pressed chest, thrill on thrill, and sheer bursting riot of nerve
and vein--these are the ordinary sensations and actions of a hunter. No
ascent too lofty--no descent too perilous for him then, if he is a man
as well as a hunter!
Take the Brazilian hunter of the jungle. He is solitary. He is
sufficient to himself. He is a survival of the fittest. The number of
his tribe are few. Nature sees to that. But he must eat, and therefore
he hunts. He spears fish and he kills birds and beasts with a blow-gun.
He hunts to live. But the manner of his action, though more skilful, is
the same as any hunter's. Likewise his sensations, perhaps more vivid
because hunting for him is a matter of life or death. Take the Gaucho of
Patagonia--the silent lonely Indian hunter of the Pampas. He hunts with
a bola, a thin thong or string at each end of which is a heavy
leather-covered ball of stone or iron. This the Gaucho hurls through the
air at the neck or legs of his quarry. The balls fly round--the thong
binds tight--it is a deadly weapon. The user of it rides and stalks and
sees and throws and feels the same as any other hunter. Time and place,
weapon and game have little to do with any differences in hunters.
Up to this 1919 hunting trip in the wilds I had always marveled at the
fact that naturalists and biologists hate sportsmen. Not hunters like
the Yellow Knife Indians, or the snake-eating Bushmen of Australia, or
the Terra-del-Fuegians, or even the native country rabbit-hunters--but
the so-called sportsmen. Naturalists and biologists have simply learned
the truth why men hunt, and that when it is done in the name of sport,
or for sensation, it is a degenerate business. Stevenson wrote beautiful
words about "the hunter home from the hill," but so far as I can find
out he never killed anything himself. He was concerned with the romance
of the thought, with alliteration, and the singular charm of the
truth--sunset and the end of the day, the hunter's plod down the hill to
the cottage, to the home where wife and children awaited him. Indeed it
is a beautiful truth, and not altogether in the past, for there are
still farmers and pioneers.
Hunting is a savage primordial instinct inherited from our ancestors.
It goes back through all the ages of man, and farther still--to the age
when man was not man, but hairy ape, or some other beast from which we
are descended. To kill is in the very marrow of our bones. If man after
he developed into human state had taken to vegetable diet--which he
never did take--he yet would have inherited the flesh-eating instincts
of his animal forebears. And no instinct is ever wholly eradicated. But
man was a meat eater. By brute strength, by sagacity, by endurance he
killed in order to get the means of subsistence. If he did not kill he
starved. And it is a matter of record, even down to modern times, that
man has existed by cannibalism.
The cave-man stalked from his hole under a cliff, boldly forth with his
huge club or stone mace. Perhaps he stole his neighbor's woman, but if
so he had more reason to hunt than before--he had to feed her as well as
himself. This cave-man, savagely descended, savagely surrounded, must
have had to hunt all the daylight hours and surely had to fight to kill
his food, or to keep it after he killed it. Long, long ages was the
being called cave-man in developing; more long ages he lived on the
earth, in that dim dark mystic past; and just as long were his
descendants growing into another and higher type of barbarian. But they
and their children and grandchildren, and all their successive,
innumerable, and varying descendants had to hunt meat and eat meat to
The brain of barbarian man was small, as shown by the size and shape of
his skull, but there is no reason to believe its construction and use
were any different from the use of other organs--the eye to see
with--the ear to hear with--the palate to taste with. Whatever the brain
of primitive man was it held at birth unlimited and innumerable
instincts like those of its progenitors; and round and smooth in
babyhood, as it was, it surely gathered its sensations, one after
another in separate and habitual channels, until when manhood arrived it
had its convolutions, its folds and wrinkles. And if instinct and
tendency were born in the brain how truly must they be a part of bone,
We cannot escape our inheritance. Civilization is merely a veneer, a
thin-skinned polish over the savage and crude nature. Fear, anger, lust,
the three great primal instincts are restrained, but they live
powerfully in the breast of man. Self preservation is the first law of
human life, and is included in fear. Fear of death is the first
instinct. Then if for thousands, perhaps millions of years, man had to
hunt because of his fear of death, had to kill meat to survive--consider
the ineradicable and permanent nature of the instinct.
The secret now of the instinctive joy and thrill and wildness of the
chase lies clear.
Stealing through the forest or along the mountain slope, eyes roving,
ears sensitive to all vibrations of the air, nose as keen as that of a
hound, hands tight on a deadly rifle, we unconsciously go back. We go
back to the primitive, to the savage state of man. Therein lies the joy.
How sweet, vague, unreal those sensations of strange familiarity with
wild places we know we never saw before! But a million years before that
hour a hairy ancestor of ours felt the same way in the same kind of a
place, and in us that instinct survives. That is the secret of the
wonderful strange charm of wild places, of the barren rocks of the
desert wilderness, of the great-walled lonely canyons. Something now in
our blood, in our bones once danced in men who lived then in similar
places. And lived by hunting!
The child is father to the man. In the light of this instinct how easy
to understand his boyish cruelty. He is true to nature. Unlimited and
infinite in his imagination when he hunts--whether with his toys or
with real weapons. If he flings a stone and kills a toad he is
instinctively killing meat for his home in the cave. How little
difference between the lad and the man! For a man the most poignantly
exciting, the most thrillingly wild is the chase when he is weaponless,
when he runs and kills his quarry with a club. Here we have the essence
of the matter. The hunter is proudest of his achievement in which he has
not had the help of deadly weapons. Unconsciously he will brag and glow
over that conquest wherein lay greatest peril to him--when he had
nothing but his naked hands. What a hot gush of blood bursts over him!
He goes back to his barbarian state when a man only felt. The savage
lived in his sensations. He saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touched, but
seldom thought. The earthy, the elemental of eye and ear and skin
surrounded him. When the man goes into the wilderness to change into a
hunter that surviving kinship with the savage revives in his being, and
all unconsciously dominates him with driving passion. Passion it is
because for long he has been restrained in the public haunts of men. His
real nature has been hidden. The hunting of game inhibits his thoughts.
He feels only. He forgets himself. He sees the track, he hears the
stealthy step, he smells the wild scent; and his blood dances with the
dance of the ages. Then he is a killer. Then the ages roll back. Then he
is brother to the savage. Then all unconsciously he lives the chase, the
fight, the death-dealing moment as they were lived by all his ancestors
down through the misty past.
What then should be the attitude of a thoughtful man toward this
liberation of an instinct--that is to say, toward the game or sport or
habit of hunting to kill? Not easily could I decide this for myself.
After all life is a battle. Eternally we are compelled to fight. If we
do not fight, if we do not keep our bodies strong, supple, healthy, soon
we succumb to some germ or other that gets a hold in our blood or lungs
and fights for its life, its species, until it kills us. Fight therefore
is absolutely necessary to long life, and Alas! eventually that fight
must be lost. The savages, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks all
worshipped physical prowess in man. Manhood, strength--the symbols of
fight! To be physically strong and well a man must work hard, with
frequent intervals of change of exercise, and he must eat meat. I am not
a great meat eater, but I doubt if I could do much physical labor or any
brain work on a vegetable diet. Therefore I hold it fair and manly to go
once a year to the wilderness to hunt. Let that hunt be clean hard toil,
as hard as I can stand! Perhaps nature created the lower animals for the
use of man. If I had been the creator I think I would have made it
possible for the so-called higher animal man to live on air.
Somewhere I read a strange remarkable story about monkeys and priests in
the jungle of India. An old order of priests had from time out of mind
sent two of their comrades into the jungle to live with the monkeys, to
tame them, feed them, study them, love them. And these priests told an
incredible story, yet one that haunted with its possibilities of truth.
After a long term of years in which one certain priest had lived with
the monkeys and they had learned truly he meant them no harm and only
loved them, at rare moments an old monkey would come to him and weep and
weep in the most terrible and tragic manner. This monkey wanted to tell
something, but could not speak. But the priest knew that the monkey was
trying to tell him how once the monkey people had been human like him.
Only they had retrograded in the strange scale of evolution. And the
terrible weeping was for loss--loss of physical stature, of speech,
perhaps of soul.
What a profound and stunning idea! Does evolution work backward? Could
nature in its relentless inscrutable design for the unattainable
perfection have developed man only to start him backward toward the dim
ages whence he sprang? Who knows! But every man can love wild animals.
Every man can study and try to understand the intelligence of his horse,
the loyalty of his dog. And every hunter can hunt less with his
instinct, and more with an understanding of his needs, and a
consideration for the beasts only the creator knows.
The last day of everything always comes. Time, like the tide, waits for
no man. Anticipation is beautiful, but it is best and happiest to enjoy
the present. Live while we may!
On this last day of my hunt we were up almost before it was light enough
to see. The morning star shone radiant in the dark gray sky. All the
other stars seemed dimmed by its glory. Silent as a grave was the
forest. I started a fire, chopped wood so vigorously that I awakened
Nielsen who came forth like a burly cave-man; and I washed hands and
face in the icy cold brook. By the time breakfast was over the gold of
the rising sun was tipping the highest pines on the ridges.
We started on foot, leaving the horses hobbled near camp. All the hounds
appeared fit. Even Old Dan trotted along friskily. Pyle, a neighbor of
Haught's, had come to take a hunt with us, bringing two dogs with him.
For this last day I had formulated a plan. Edd and one of the boys were
to take the hounds down on the east side of the great ridge that made
the eastern wall of Dude Canyon. R.C. was to climb out on this ridge,
and take his position at the most advantageous point. We had already
chased half a dozen bears over this saddle, one of which was the big
frosty-coated grizzly that Edd and Nielsen had shot at. The rest of us
hurried to the head of Dude Canyon. Copple and I were to go down to the
first promontories under the rim. The others were to await developments
and go where Haught thought best to send them.