Big Bad Bears (continued)

From an account of lassoing a polar bear to really bad poetry, you won't believe the stuff about bruins we've run over the last 105 years.

>> 1957 Far-flung Bear Hunt
While most sportsmen picture the wilds of Alaska or the Canadian Rockies when they envision a bear hunt, Frank C. Hibben, author of the following story, found himself unexpectedly hunting bears during a tiger safari on the Indian subcontinent. A group of sloth bears (so named for their long claws) had killed a number of people in a rural town and the villagers asked the hunter and his guide for help.

When we returned to the group around the jeep, my guide Rao led a young man forward to meet us. “This is Daru of Gindoli,” Rao said by way of introduction. “He was hurt last year.” We scarcely heard what Rao said. We were staring at the man’s face, or what had been his face. His cheek and ear were gone so that the naked bone of his jaw showed through a crack. One eye had been torn away. His mouth, ripped open at the corner, had healed askew, and with a horrible star-shaped scar on the side of his chin.

Rao said, “This man was attacked by the male bear. He put betal juice on the wound and did not die.” We had to marvel at the stamina of a man who’d survived those awful wounds.

“There are three sloth bears near the village,” Rao was saying. “There is a female, a young bear and an old male. The female and the old male have killed two men and one woman of the village. Two days ago another woman was attacked. That is when they sent for us.” “Let’s go shoot them,” I said with enthusiasm. Rao smiled in his quiet manner. It was obvious that I had no idea how one went about shooting a sloth bear….

_After several fruitless attempts, the villagers conducted a drive that pushed the male bear fleetingly into the author’s sights. A lucky shot tumbled the boar. _

>>1915****Roping a Polar Bear
Bear adventures have been a part of Outdoor Life since the magazine’s earliest issues. In 1899, we ran a story titled “Roping a Grizzly,” which pretty much set the standard for all our bear adventures to follow. A few years later, however, we ran an even better bear-lassoing tale. The following excerpt details an expedition to the arctic ice cap to capture a live polar bear and bring him back to the New York Zoological Park.

The lasso whizzed, and the big creature was roped just after he had climbed out onto the ice. This time the rope was permitted to lie slack until he had put his forelegs thru it. Soon the launch was got going astern and gradually started to drag the animal into the water. It was a wonderful sight, it is said, to see this enormous brute with a strong rope just behind his fore-shoulders. He would rear on his hind legs, bite at the rope and jump up and down as he was surely and steadily dragged toward the edge. Finally, seeing that the inevitable was coming, with a vicious growl he plunged into the water, for he had left the ice pans forever.

>> 1919 Tolstoy’s Bear
Outdoor Life has run stories by many celebrated authors over the years. Even so, it may come as a surprise that the byline of Russian master Leo Tolstoy has appeared in these pages as well. The author of War and Peace was an avid sportsman and during one hunt had a close call with a bear that left him hospitalized for a month.

The bear’s rush had carried him past me, but he had turned back, and had fallen on me with the whole weight of his body. I felt something heavy weighing me down, and something warm above my face, and I realized that he was drawing my whole face into his mouth. My nose was already in it, and I felt the heat of it, and smelt his blood. He was pressing my shoulders down with his paws so that I could not move: All I could do was to draw my head down towards my chest away from his mouth, trying to free my nose and eyes, while he tried to get his teeth into them. Then I felt that he had seized my forehead just under the hair with the teeth of his lower jaw, and the flh below my eyes with his upper jaw, and was closing his teeth. It was as if my face were being cut with knives. I struggled to get away, while he made haste to close his jaws like a dog gnawing.

I managed to twist my face away, but he began drawing it again into his mouth. “Now,” thought I, “my end has come!”

Then I felt the weight lifted, and looking up, I saw that he was no longer there. He had jumped off me and run away.

When my comrade and Damian had seen the bear knock me down and begin worrying me, they rushed to the rescue. My comrade, in his haste, blundered, and instead of following the trodden path, ran into the deep snow and fell down. While he was struggling out of the snow, the bear was gnawing at me. But Damian just as he was, without a gun, and with only a stick in his hand, rushed along the path shouting: “He’s eating the master!”

And, as he ran, he called to the bear: “Oh, you idiot! What are you doing? Leave off! Leave off!”

The bear obeyed him, and leaving me ran away. When I rose, there was as much blood on the snow as if a sheep had been killed, and the flesh hung in rags above my eyes, tho in my excitement I felt no pain.

>>1919 The First Pope & Young Bear
In the early years of the 20th century there was only one common way to hunt bears: with a rifle, preferably a repeater like a lever-action for quick follow-up shots. But in 1919 Outdoor Life ran a story by Arthur H. Young, who, along with his partner Dr. Saxton “Doc” Pope, had a yearning to take a bear with his yew bow. Though Outdoor Life has always been eager to inform readers about new and innovative hunting techniques, the editor’s note at the end of the story indicates some degree of skepticism concerning the efficacy of tackling big game with bow and arrow. Pope and Young, through their pioneering archery feats, became the inspiration for the bowhunting recordkeeping club that was founded in their names in 1957.

Much small game such as quail, squirrels, rabbits, bobcats and deer had been killed with the bow and arrow by Dr. Saxton Pope and I, but now we wanted bear.

On the morning of Nov. 22, Doc and I, with Tom Murphy, the famous bear hunter, set out from camp with four horses and five dogs….

In Doc I knew I had an excellent shot, and our equipment second to none. I was confident of the outcome, altho will admit I was not particularly anxious to go against such a monster of a beast for the first time and let him get away….

As we neared the tree where the dogs were baying we looked out from under the brush and there was a big black mass sitting in a tall pine about 100 feet from the ground. The long-waited-for opportunity was at hand, and we anxious to fly at it. We drew the arrows to the head on our bows that pulled seventy-five pounds, and loosed. I saw the arrows flash out, followed by two welcomed thuds. One struck in the breast and the other a little further back. Bruin partly wheeled and partly fell into a clinch with the trunk of the tree, and down he came….

Nearing the ground he jumped, and as he hit the ground we each let another arrow fly…. The dogs were turned loose and in less than half a mile the bear went up again. This time he took to a pine not so large, and went up about seventy feet. An arrow aimed at his chest while he was looking down missed the mark and again he shuffled down….

This time he took to a black oak with an overhanging limb, and presenting our first good target, Doc and I opened up from about forty feet, and planted the arrows as fast as we could draw from quiver and shoot.

One of the arrows struck in the shoulder, sank to the feather and he instantly bit it off. Two went thru his lungs, and another tipped his heart, all this happening within a few seconds. Growing weak, he dropped from the limb, ran a few yards and fell dead. Doc and I shook hands. We had a large 3-year-old bear with a fine jet black coat. Here was a victory for the archers’ art. Note-It seems Mr. Young believes that archery is more humane than rifle shooting in the pursuit of big game. We have every good feeling for this clean, manly recreation, and only wish that we could view it in as favorable a light as does Mr. Young for use in the hunting of big game animals. Hardly any bear the size of the one taken in this hunt would have much vitality left when leaving the first tree after having been hit once each by two men using even so ordinary a gun as a .30/30.Doc and I shook hands. We had a large 3-year-old bear with a fine jet black coat. Here was a victory for the archers’ art. Note-It seems Mr. Young believes that archery is more humane than rifle shooting in the pursuit of big game. We have every good feeling for this clean, manly recreation, and only wish that we could view it in as favorable a light as does Mr. Young for use in the hunting of big game animals. Hardly any bear the size of the one taken in this hunt would have much vitality left when leaving the first tree after having been hit once each by two men using even so ordinary a gun as a .30/30.