My Encounter with A Grizzly by Arthur J.
The winter had set in early, and with unusual severity, when I
reached Logville, the appropriate name given to the little mining camp
which hid itself away in the vast wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. A
roving disposition, combined with a love of sport, and a desire to put
on canvas some record of the wonderful scenery of the locality, had
guided my steps to this out-of-the-world spot.
One morning when the winter was beginning to break, and the snow to
show signs of disappearingsure evidence that the severe weather was
passing awayI slung my cloak and a bag of provisions across my
shoulders, seized my rifle, and set forth on a solitary stroll. I had
gone some considerable distance from the camp when a sudden darkening
of the sky told me only too plainly of an approaching storm. Fearful of
being caught in the downpour, I began to retrace my steps.
Scarcely had I commenced my homeward journey when a sudden cry
caused me to come to an abrupt standstill. A few moments of intense
stillness followed. I listened attentively, surveying the surrounding
landscape on all sides with the close scrutiny of an experienced
hunter, who had enjoyed many a lesson from the Indians. The piled-up
rocks, scanty herbage, leafless and motionless trees gave no sign of
life. No sound broke the intense solitude. Then, with startling
suddenness, another cry, louder and more agonising than the former,
echoed across the waste, and this was followed by a deep significant
I knew at once that the voice was that of a human being, and I knew
equally well that the growl proceeded from a bear. I had heard that a
big grizzly had been seen in the neighbourhood, and that a party had
been organised to track him to his lair, but had failed to come to
close quarters with the wily old fellow.
As these thoughts shaped themselves in my mind there came a shrill
and piercing shriek which set every nerve in my body tingling. It was
the scream of a woman in mortal terror.
I shouldered, my rifle and turned in the direction from which the
Descending a steep cliff, I found myself in a narrow canon through
which a mountain stream, swollen by the melting snow, rushed with
considerable rapidity. The first object that caught my eye was a woman
carrying a child and struggling through the foaming torrent. Then I
observed, some little distance to the rear, but following with
incredible rapidity, an enormous black bear. He measured at least nine
feet from his nose to the tip of his tail, and was broad in proportion.
Though of enormous size, he progressed at a speed which was surprising.
Something had evidently irritated the brute considerably, for his whole
appearance was characteristic of unrestrained ferocity.
I dragged the panting fugitive from the water and, without asking
any questions, advanced to the bank of the stream and prepared to take
aim. Whether my gentleman had at some period of his life been so
closely associated with the barrel of a sporting-rifle that he
understood the significance of my movement, I know not; but certain it
is that as soon as I raised the weapon, the bear first of all reared
himself on his hind quarters, displaying his long narrow muzzle adorned
with an assortment of ugly fangs, and then uttering a loud noise,
curiously resembling the heavy breathing of a human being, he fell down
on all-fours and retreated behind a convenient boulder, over the top of
which his little eyes gleamed fiercely every now and again.
The woman, who proved to be the wife of the innkeeper at whose
hotel I was sojourning, was shivering with the cold, and her wet
garments were rapidly congealing in the keen frosty air. Her little
girl was crying pitifully with the cold and fright.
It was a question whether I should remain and finish off Bruin or
hurry my companions homeward at a fast trot. I decided to adopt the
The bear can wait, I said, as I turned away; I'll settle him
We turned our steps in the direction of the camp, and for some
distance walked in silence. Then of a sudden a plaintive moan from the
child reminded me that the wee mite and her mother, soaked with wet,
were, in the cutting air, rapidly assuming the condition of living
icicles. Fortunately I had a flask with me, and, telling the exhausted
and shivering woman to sit down, I rested my rifle against a stump of a
tree and proceeded to prepare a dose of brandy, at the same time
cheering her with words of encouragement.
We are not far from home now, I said, and
I did not finish the sentence, for a movement behind caused me to
turn round. To my utter astonishment and horror I found myself face to
face with my old friend, or rather enemy. He had evidently followed
with stealthy steps, the snow acting as a carpet to deaden his heavy
My first idea was to give the intruder a dose of cold lead, but that
I soon discovered was out of the question, for the bear had calmly
appropriated my rifle, which lay beneath his paws.
It seemed to me indeed that his ugly face bore a look of triumph as
he crouched over the weapon, and, judging from the blinking of his
eyes, he seemed humanly conscious that, having become possessed of my
trusty and deadly friend, he had me completely in his power. To obtain
possession of the weapon was out of the question; it would have been
fatal to attempt it.
Motioning the woman to seize the child and hurry forward without me,
I prepared to rout the enemy by some means other than powder and shot.
What means I intended to adopt I frankly admit I had not the remotest
idea. The incident, so unexpected, so strange, took me completely by
surprise, and it was some moments before I recovered my senses and
presence of mind. Then I remembered that grizzlies, despite their huge
bulk and ferocious tempers, are curiously alarmed by noise.
I had even heard that they had been driven off, with their tails
between their legs, by the mere beating of a tin can. With this idea in
my mind I hastily produced the metal cup of my flask, and striking it
furiously with the hilt of my hunting-knife, I continued to produce a
din which ought to have taken effect upon my four-footed adversary. I
am sorry to say it did not, however. Uttering the curious sound
peculiar to grizzlies, the brute made as though it would approach still
The bear was somewhat lean after his long winter's sleep in some
hole scooped out of the earth, whither he had retired with a
substantial coating of fat upon him, as a protection against the chills
The nap had gradually reduced the thickness of this protection and
now the hungry animal, weary of search for berries and roots,
contemplated me with a look which seemed to express that a morsel of
something more substantial would not be out of place.
I commenced to retire cautiously, but I had not taken many steps
when there came a flash, followed by a sudden report, and I staggered
and fell on my kneesshot in the leg.
The bear had accidentally pulled the trigger of my gun, and the
bullet intended for him had found instead a billet in poor me. I tried
to staunch the wound with my handkerchief, but the blood flowed freely,
and I soon began to feel exhausted.
I felt my knees quivering and giving way beneath me, and a deadly
faintness crept over me. A mist came over my eyes, and I seemed to sink
into a deep sleep, the landscape slowly vanishing, and even the big
bear standing up before me disappearing in the darkness which enveloped
The rescuing party sent in search discovered me, still breathing,
the thick snow into which I had fallen having congealed over my wound
and stopped the flow of blood.
The bear had fled without touching me, the report of the rifle
having apparently proved too much for his nerves. He did not live long,
however, for the following day he was tracked to his underground home,
and there despatched. His skin is among my most cherished trophies, and
I never look at it without remembering my first and last encounter with