Thursday, February 23, 2012

True Bear Stories 1920s to Present Day

Grizzly bear - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear (Ursus ...

Since my father was born in 1916 my bear stories start in the 1920s when he was a boy. His father was an avid outdoors man and hunter and at one time owned 40 hunting dogs which my father and his two brothers had to take care of. So, as I tell the first story please remember to leave your 2012 values behind because this now is almost 100 years ago (around 90 years now).

My grandfather had his hound dogs in the truck with them as they headed north from Seattle towards the U.S. Canadian Border where there were still grizzly bears then. The last grizzly bears were seen in Washington in the 1920s and 1930s. My father was about 13 to 15 and his younger brother Tommy was between 12 and 13 years old and their father took them along on this hunting trip north. The hunting dogs scared up a grizzly bear and since a Grizzly bear is mostly like a very big dog in temperament they don't like a lot of dogs trying to nip at them in a hunting frenzy so they usually try to get away from a lot of dogs. A bear might easily kill one or two or even three dogs as it only needs one good swat to the face or body of a dog to kill it, or maim it so it bleeds to death. But hunting dogs then were bred to be fearless of a bear and so often died when chasing a bear. In some ways bears were much wilder in the wilds then because there were so many less people that their encounters with people were much rarer than now. And a bears reaction then since it was the top of the food chain was usually just rage rather than fear from so many people in the world now. Even I had this experience while driving my 4 wheel drive in the woods on a dirt road(this happened in the 1980s). My father and I and my son who was about 10 years old in 1984 came upon the Bear in the middle of the dirt road in the forest. I stopped my 1974 International Harvester Scout II 4 wheel drive because otherwise I would have hit the bear. The Bear stood up on his hind legs to threaten us. Since I had never been threatened by any animal in the forest like this (this would be like a human male threatening if he had a gun) I was very surprised at this behavior never having seen it before in real time. So, after standing up on its hind legs and threatening us for about a minute or so it went down on all fours and simply walked across the road and back into the forest. It was an amazing experience to see that I wouldn't have ever expected to have had then in the 1980s deep in the forests around Mt. Shasta about 25 miles from the nearest gas station or town.

Anyway back to my father and his brother and Grandfather in the 1920s: They heard the hunting dogs chasing a bear so grandad got out his World War I 30 odd 6 bolt action rifle from World War I which can stop a car or truck with a shot through the engine block and often when used in World War I one bullet would go through several soldiers on a battlefield in Europe before the bullet stopped in the ground or in a tree. I shot it once when I was 8 in 1956 in Idaho and it knocked me down and left a purple bruise on my right shoulder for about 1 month from the impact of the kick. So, it is a gun to take very seriously and not like a .22 at all.

My grandfather also carried on his hip a Woodsman .22 pistol and a German Luger

Luger P08 pistol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also, here is the Wikipedia site for 30 odd 6

.30-06 Springfield - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge (pronounced “thirty-aught-six”, "thirty-oh-six") or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 ...
History - Firearms - Performance - Recoil  end quote from Google and Wikipedia.

And here is a site for the 30.06 Springfield Rifle which is a bolt action 5 shot clip rifle used in World War I like my grandfather had then in the 1920s.

M1903 Springfield - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The M1903 Springfield, formally the United States Rifle, Caliber .30-06, Model 1903, is an American clip-loaded, 5-shot, bolt-action service rifle used primarily ...

So in the 1920s when my father, his brother and Dad found themselves chasing a Grizzly bear behind the hounds through the dense underbrush of the Pacific Northwest where there were no trails they were able to follow the Grizzly bear and the hunting dogs because the Grizzly was knocking down trees because of his massive body weight trying to escape the dogs. However, the boys were younger and less experienced mountain men and eventually my Dad's younger brother Tommy got gashed by a tree snag branch and was bleeding pretty good and couldn't go on. So Grandpa gave a Woodsmen .22 pistol and holster to Dad being the older brother to protect his brother from the Bear if it came to that and put them up on top of a 6 foot across tree stump from logging at about 6 feet high for safety. However, after Grandpa ran after and chased the dogs and bear the bear eventually doubled back since he knew his territory and was heading right for my Dad and his brother. They both thought that they were dead and so as the bear came right by the stump my Dad emptied the clip (shot the gun until it was empty) into the bear while shaking and thinking he and his brother were dead. But the Grizzly was more afraid of the dogs than the .22 bullets hitting him which likely were sort of like bee stings to him as a .22 cannot kill a bear unless it hit him in the eye and possibly not even then. So, after the bear passed they had quite a story to tell their Dad when he came by following the hunting dogs a few minutes later.

The next true story happened in the 1950s to my ex-wife's family. They were camping in Yellowstone and hadn't brought a tent or maybe because it was so warm they decided not to pitch a tent. So, all their sleeping bags were out in a line on a ground cloth. So There were 4 kids and the parents in a line all on the same ground cloth for safety. In the middle of the night my now ex-wife thought her sister was nudging her so she slipped even deeper into her bag to escape and go back to sleep. Finally the nudging became more so so my ex climbed out of the bag only to see a grizzly bear face to face. She alerted her whole family at this point and the father who had a frying pan and a wooden spoon for this purpose began banging the pan as bears don't like loud noises. So the bear proceeded to walk over all the people in the row in their sleeping bags one by one and off into the forest. But no one was seriously injured by the bear walking over their bodies so after it left they mostly just laughed that they all were still alive.

American black bear - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The American black bear or North American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and ...
Native names - Taxonomy and evolution - Physical description - Behavior end quote from Google and wikipedia

The next story was just me when I was about 17 and was hiking by myself in Yosemite National Park. I was hiking back down the Yosemite Falls Trail when I came upon a black bear at about 500 to 700 pounds in weight. I was scared and walked quickly the other direction and the bear did the same. Neither of us wanted anything at all to do with the other. This was my first experience with confronting a bear in the wilds.

The next story also took place in Yosemite National Park in the 1960s. My best friend's family was staying at Camp Curry where a lot of bears used to live near by during that time because they liked to raid the trash cans during the night and pull car doors off if them smelled food. (They still do this by the way). Their claws and paws are very very strong and they (if they smell or see anything in your car or truck that looks like it might be food) they shove their claws where the door meets the car and simply rip the door off to get at whatever is in your car or truck. This happens all the time in Yosemite. Even my 1989 Toyota Forerunner had three claw marks on the roof where one put its paw to look into my windows to see if it could see any food there. Luckily I had removed everything and put it in a lockable iron box that the Park provides for campers there. This was around 2000. My best friend's family was staying at Camp Curry in one of the Tent Cabins and found a group of bears raiding trash cans there. So, as they were taking pictures of this they didn't notice that my best friend's brother had decided to go play with a bear cub with the group of bears. As you and I know this is a really bad idea but this was a child doing something while the parents took pictures. So, as he picked up the bear cub the parents started screaming at him to drop it before the mother bear killed him. Luckily, there were enough people there that once the mother bear had her cub she didn't kill the boy who picked her cub up.

Another time in the 1980s (probably 1985 in the fall)  we were planning to climb the back wire to Half Dome the next day. So we were camped nearby the trail up to Vernal and California Nevada Falls on the way to the wire. So, we had a tent set up in the closest camping area to the trail. We heard screaming and yelling nearby and then we saw the shadow of the bear walk by outside our tent. I got up to investigate and the bear had torn a cab over camper on a truck in half and the people were very upset. I guess it had smelled food and had torn the aluminum camper in half with the people in it. But luckily no one was injured just really scared with some ladies pretty hysterical. The next day we climbed Half Dome in preparation for going to Nepal and trekking through the Himalayas there as a family.

Note: After I wrote this today I also later that day found the following about Polar Bear-Grizzly Bear Hybrids Polar Bears not Going extinct Going Grizzly


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