Page images




It was while in the Bighorn Mountains that Theodore Roosevelt got his first shot at a bear. He had been wanting such a chance for a good many years, but up to that date the bears had kept well out of his sight.

In his writings he has said much about bears, both common and grizzly, and told of their habits, and how they have been tracked down and shot at various times of the year. He holds to the opinion that the average bear would rather run away than fight, yet he tells the story of how one bear faced the hunter who had shot him, and gave the man one blow with his powerful paw that proved fatal.

One day his companion of the hunt came riding in with the carcass of a black bear

killed in a network of hollows and ravines some miles from their present camp.

“ The hollows are full of bear tracks,” said Merrifield. “I am sure, if we go up there, we'll get one or more black bears and perhaps a grizzly."

“ Then let us go by all means,” responded Theodore Roosevelt. And no time was lost in moving to the new locality.

The hunters had been out nearly all of the next day, when, on returning through the forest toward nightfall, Roosevelt came across the footmarks of a large bear. He tried to follow them, but night closed in on him, and he had to return to camp. That very night the bear came around the camp, looking for something to eat.

“ Let us try to bring him down," cried Roosevelt, seizing his rifle, while his companion did the same. But outside it was pitch dark.

“Do you see him ?” questioned Merrifield.

"No." 6 Neither do I.” “ Listen." Both listened, and at a distance heard the

bear lumbering off slowly through the woods. They went forward a short distance, then came to a halt.

“We'll have to give it up for the present,” said Theodore Roosevelt.

66 But I am going to have him, sooner or later, if the thing is possible.”

Early the next morning both of the hunters sallied forth and discovered that the bear had been at the carcasses of some game left in the forest. The tracks were fresh.

“He has been here, no doubt of it,” said Merrifield. “Shall we wait for him to come

again ?”


“We might as well,” was the answer. “He'll get hungry again, sooner later.”

So the pair sat down to watch. But the bear was shy, and kept his distance. Then it grew dark once more, so that but little could be seen under the trees.

“He knows enough to keep away,” said Roosevelt's companion.

“ Hark!” was the reply and both strained their ears.

There was a faint crackling of twigs, and they felt certain it was the bear. But it was too dark to see anything; so

both shouldered their rifles and walked back

to camp.

Here was another illustration of Theodore Roosevelt's method of sticking at a thing. Two days had been spent in trying to get that bear, and yet he did not give up. On the following morning he sallied forth once more, as full of hope as before.

The bear had been at the carcass again, and the trail was now one to be followed with ease.

“ I'm going to hunt him down to his lair," said Theodore Roosevelt, and stalked off with his companion beside him. Soon they were again deep in the woods, walking perhaps where the foot of white man had never before trod. Fallen trees were everywhere, and over these they often had to climb.

“Getting closer," whispered Roosevelt's companion, and pointed to some fresh claw scratches on the bark of fallen trees.

They now moved forward as silently as Indians, sure that the bear could not be far off. Suddenly Merrifield dropped on his knee as if to take aim. Roosevelt sprang to the front, with rifle raised. The bear was there, standing upright, only a few

paces away. Without hesitation Theodore Roosevelt fired. His aim was true, and the great beast fell with a bullet straight between the eyes. The leaden messenger had entered his brain, and he died with scarcely a struggle.

“ The whole thing was over in twenty seconds from the time I caught sight of the game," writes Mr. Roosevelt, in his book “Hunting Trips on the Prairies ” (Part II of “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman”). “Indeed it was over so quickly that the grizzly did not have time to show fight at all or come a step toward me. It was the first I had ever seen, and I felt not a little proud as I stood over the great brindled bulk which lay stretched out at length in the cool shade of the evergreens. He was a monstrous fellow, much larger than any I have seen since, whether alive or brought in dead by hunters. As near as we could estimate he must have weighed about twelve hundred pounds."

There is a bear story for you, boys. And the best of it is, it is every word true. In later years Theodore Roosevelt brought down many more grizzlies, but I doubt if

« PreviousContinue »