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The Bear Monarch
HOW HE WAS CAPTURED.
Much having been said about bears of late, a young Californian of
great fortune and enterprise resolved to set some questions at rest,
and, quite regardless of cost or consequences, sent into the mountains
for a live grizzly. The details of his capture, the plain story of the
long, wild quest, the courage, the cunning, the final submission of
the monster, and then the last bulletin about his health, habits and
all that, make so instructive and pleasing a narrative that I have
asked for permission to add it to my own stories. The bear described
is at present in our San Francisco Zoo, a fine and greatly admired
* * * * *
"Are there any true grizzly bears in California?"
"Undoubtedly there are."
"I don't know about it. I have a great deal of doubt. Where are they?"
"In the Sierra Madre, in Touloumne Canyon, in Siskiyou County and
probably in many other mountain districts."
"That may be so, but nobody can find them. Now, do you think you could
"I think I could if I should try."
"Would you undertake to get a genuine grizzly in this State?"
"Yes, if you want one. How will you have him--dead or alive?"
This conversation was held last May between the proprietor of the
Examiner and special reporter Allen Kelly.
A week ago Kelly brought home an enormous grizzly bear, lodged the
animal temporarily in one of the cages in Woodward's Gardens and
reported to the editor that he had finished that assignment.
The following is his account of the hunt and capture.
The Examiner expedition began the search for a grizzly early in June,
starting from Santa Paula and striking into the mountains at Tar
Creek, where the Sespe oil wells are bored. The Examiner correspondent
detailed to catch a bear was accompanied by De Moss Bowers of Ventura,
who was moved by love of adventure to offer his assistance.
During the first part of the trip the party numbered five persons,
including Dad Coffman, a spry old gentleman of seventy-two years, who
was out for the benefit of his health, a packer and guide, and a
person from Santa Paula called "Doc," who was loaded to the muzzle
with misinformation and inspired with the notion that it was
legitimate to plunder the expedition because the Examiner had plenty
of money. The packer was "Doc's" son, a good man to work, but
unfortunately afflicted with similar hallucinations. The expedition
was plundered because these persons were trusted on the
recommendation of a gentleman who ought to have known better.
At Tar Creek the correspondent was told that the Stone Corral bear, a
somewhat noted grizzly that had killed his man, had been recently on
Squaw Flat, and had prowled about an old cabin at night, sorting over
the garbage heap and pile of tin cans at the door, but when the
expedition passed the cabin no fresh sign was found, and the tracks on
Squaw Flat were at least a week old.
The first camp was in a clump of chincapin brush at Stone Corral.
There were bear tracks in the soft ground at the edge of the creek,
which induced the hunters to spend two days in prospecting that part
of the country. One of the proposed plans for capturing the bear was
to run him out of the rocks and brush to some reasonably open bit of
country like Squaw Flat or one of the small level patches near camp
and lasso him, but the impracticable nature of that scheme was soon
demonstrated. On the next day after making camp the Examiner's own
bear catcher went out on a nervous black horse called "Nig" to find
out where the Stone Corral bear was spending the summer and
incidentally to get some venison. The Stone Corral bear was there or
thereabouts beyond any doubt. He ran the correspondent out of the
brush and showed a perverse disposition to do all the hunting himself.
"Nig" would not stand to let his rider take a shot, but when the bear
gave notice of his presence by growling and smashing down the brush
twenty yards away, he wheeled and bolted towards camp. Near the camp
Dad was found rounding up the other horses, who had just been scared
from their pasturage by another wandering bear. It was clear that not
a horse in the outfit could be ridden to within roping distance of a
bear, and it is doubtful if three horses fit for such a job could be
found in the country. Some years ago the ranchmen and vaqueros
frequently caught bears with a rope, but even then it was difficult to
train horses to the work, and only one horse out of a hundred could be
cured of his instinctive dread of a grizzly.
It was clear also that there were some defects in the plan of driving
the Stone Corral bear out of the brush, chief of which was the bear's
inconsiderate desire to do the driving himself. As the hunting would
have to be done afoot, the prospects incident to an attempt to round
up a big grizzly among the rocks and chaparral were not peculiarly
alluring. Trapping was the only other method that could be suggested,
but the absence of any heavy timber would make that difficult.
The Stone Corral is a singular arrangement of huge sandstone ledges on
the slope of a mountain, forming a rough inclosure about a quarter of
a mile wide and three or four times as long. The country is very
rugged and broken for miles around, and except along the creek and on
the trail a horse cannot be ridden through it. The problem of how to
catch a bear in such a place was not solved, because the bear cut
short its consideration by marching past the camp and lumbering down
the creek bed toward the Alder Creek Canyon and the Sespe country. The
correspondent stood upon the sandstone ledge as he went by, and yelled
at him, but he did not quicken his pace.
When it became evident that the bear was bound for the Sespe, the
horses were saddled. Balaam the Burro was concealed under a
mountainous pack, and the march was resumed over the Alder Creek trail
to the deep gorge through which the Sespe River runs. The man who made
the Alder Creek trail was not born to build roads. He laid it out
right over the top of a high and steep mountain, when by making a
slight detour, he could have avoided a difficult and unnecessary
climb. In the broiling hot sun of a breezeless day in June, the march
over the mountains was hard on men and horses, and the pace was
The heat coaxed the rattlesnakes out of their holes, and the angry hum
of their rattles was an almost incessant accompaniment to the hoof
beats of the horses. Where the trail wound along a steep slope,
affording but slight foothold for an animal, a more than unusually
strenuous and insistent singing of a snake, disturbed from his sunny
siesta, caused Balaam to jump aside. Balaam avoided the snake, but he
lost his balance and rolled down the slope, heels in the air and pack
underneath. The acrobatic feats achieved by Balaam in his struggles to
regain his footing were watched by an admiring and solicitous
audience, and when he cleverly took advantage of the slight
obstruction offered by a manzanita bush, and got safely upon his feet,
he was loudly applauded. The deep solicitude of the party for the
safety of Balaam and his pack was accounted for when he scrambled
back to the trail and gravely walked up to the packer to have his pack
straightened. Every man anxiously felt of the pack, and heaved a sigh
of relief. The bottles containing O. P. S., antidote for snake bite,
were not broken, but it was a narrow escape.
"Great Beeswax!" said the Doctor, "suppose those bottles had been
smashed and then some one of us should go to work and bite himself
with a snake! Wouldn't that be a fix?"
"Dogdurn if it don't make my blood run cold to think of it," said Dad.
Everybody's blood seemed to be congealing, and as the pack was loose
and the antidote accessible, an ounce of prevention was administered
to each man, and Balaam was rewarded for his timely agility with a
handful of sugar.
No more accidents occurred, and late in the afternoon the cavalcade
slid, coasted and scrambled down the last steep hill into the Sespe
Canyon, where a camp was made under an immense oak beside a deep,
rocky pool. That evening, around the camp-fire, some strange bear
stories were evolved from either the memories or imagination of the
In the morning the search for bear signs was resumed and prosecuted
until noon without success. Dad was lured by the swarms of trout in
the stream, and went fishing. Dad is not a scientific fly fisherman.
His favorite method is to select a shady nook on the bank, sit down
with his back against a rock, tie a sinker to a large and gaudy fly,
and angle on the bottom for the biggest trout he can see. He generally
carries a book in his pocket, and when the trout remains unresponsive
to the allurements of the gaudy fly, he fastens his rod to a bush and
reads until he falls asleep.
In the afternoon one of the party went out over a long, brushy ridge,
and the correspondent pushed on down the gorge in search of bear
signs. All the bear tracks led up toward the Hot Springs Canyon,
indicating that the grizzlies had begun their annual migration to the
Alamo, Frazier and Pine mountains, where large bands of sheep are
herded through the summer. Some of the tracks were large and fresh,
and a person might come upon a bear at any time in the bottom of the
canyon. Preparations were made for following the bears and directions
given for an early start in the morning. The Doctor recollected that
he had important business in Santa Paula that required his immediate
attention, and he wouldn't have time to follow the grizzlies through
the rugged passes of the mountains. Accordingly, he and Dad decided to
remain in the Sespe camp a day or two, enjoy the fishing, and then
return to Santa Paula, and the bear hunting party that saddled up and
struck out on the trail of the grizzly in the morning was reduced to
The trail led through the Hot Springs Canyon, where boiling hot
sulphur water flows out of the ground in a stream large enough to
sensibly affect the temperature of the Sespe River, into which it
runs. This canyon was formerly a beautiful camping spot, and was
resorted to by many persons who believed that bathing in sulphur water
would restore their health, but about three years ago a cloudburst
uprooted all the trees and converted the green cienaga into a rocky
desolate flat, as barren and unattractive as the sharp, treeless peaks
surrounding the canyon. A few mountain sheep inhabit the mountains
about the Hot Springs, and occasionally one is seen standing upon some
high and inaccessible cliff, but it is very seldom that a hunter
succeeds in getting a pair of big horns.
The next camp was on the Piru Creek, where it runs through the Mutaw
ranch. One of the most promising mining districts in this part of the
State takes its name from the Piru, and in years gone by a great deal
of gold was taken from the diggings along the stream. One of the most
successful miners was Mike Brannan, whose cabins and mining appliances
lie unused and decaying about six miles from the place where the
From the camp on the Mutaw the expedition followed Piru Creek down to
Lockwood, and the latter up to the divide between Lockwood Valley and
the Cuddy ranch at the foot of Mount Pinos, called Sawmill Mountain by
the settlers. The mountain is about 10,000 feet high, and is covered
with heavy pine timber. Ever since Haggin & Carr's sheep have been on
the mountain, the bears from forty miles around have made annual
marauding expeditions, and kept the herders on the jump all the
summer. The first band of sheep and the Examiner expedition arrived at
the old Sawmill simultaneously this year, and the Basque who was
herding the band, having a very lively sense of the danger of his
situation, pitched his tent close to the camp, where he would be under
the protection of three rifles. The Basque had never been on the
mountain before, but he had heard about the bears and their audacious
raids, and he was not at all enamored of his job. When the campfires
were started, and the forest became an enclosing wall of gloom, behind
which lurked all the mysteries and menaces of the mountains, the
Basque came shyly into camp, bringing a shoulder of mutton with which
to establish friendly relations, and under the mellowing influence of
a glass of something hot he became confidential and as communicative
as his broken jargon of French and California Spanish would permit.
He had come to the mountain reluctantly, and having been told about
the herder whose hand was torn off by a grizzly last year, he was
still more unwilling to remain. He would stay as long as the Examiner
party remained near him, but when the hunters went away he proposed to
quit and hasten back to the plains, where he would have nothing worse
than the coyotes to encounter. Every night after that, so long as the
hunters were in that camp, the Basque came and sat at the fire until
bedtime, talking about los osos, and when the grass and water gave
out and the expedition was obliged to move camp about two miles, the
gentle shepherd packed his blankets over the trail to Bakersfield,
leaving his flock in the care of a leathery skinned bear-hardened
The bears were later this year than usual in coming to the mountain,
probably because the warm weather was longer delayed, and for many
days the hunters scanned the trails in the canyons in vain for the
footprints of grizzlies. The first indication of their arrival was
given in a somewhat startling way to the correspondent one evening as
he was slowly toiling through a deep, rocky ravine back to camp, after
a weary tramp over the foothills of the big mountain.
The sun had set and the bottom of the ravine was dark as night. The
belated searcher for bear signs skirted a dense willow thicket, and
brushed against the bushes with his elbow. "Woof! Woof!" snorted a
bear within ten feet of him, invisible in the thicket. His heart
thumped and his rifle lock clicked, together, and which sound was the
louder he could not tell. For a few seconds he stood at the edge of
the thicket with his rifle ready, expecting the rush of the bear, but
the animal was not in a warlike mood and did not rush, and the hunter
cautiously backed away about twenty yards up the steep side of the
ravine. The cracking of brush indicated that bruin was moving in the
thicket, but nothing could be seen in the gathering gloom. Two or
three large rocks rolled down into the willows started the bear out on
a run and he could be heard crashing his way down the ravine and
splashing into the pools as he went. The remainder of the journey back
to camp was made through the open pine forest on the top of the
Superintendent McCullough, who has charge of Haggin & Carr's sheep
camps on Pinos Mountain, stopped at the Examiner camp when he made his
inspecting tours, and consultations were held with him about the
bears. From the reports given him by the herders he judged that only
the bears that lived on the mountain were prowling about, and that the
invading army had not arrived from the Alamo and the Sespe region. A
large cinnamon bear had walked into one camp about ten miles distant
and killed two sheep in daylight, but the grizzlies had not begun to
eat mutton. In July or August there would be bears enough to keep a
man busy shinning up trees. Last year, he said, there were at least
forty bears on the mountain, and they visited some of the sheep camps
every night. Sometimes two or three bears would raid a camp, tree the
herder and kill several sheep. The herders were not expected to fight
bears or attempt to drive them away, and the owners reckoned upon the
loss of several hundred sheep every summer.
Shortly before the first of July the camp was moved to Seymore Spring,
about two miles from the mill, where good water and feed were plenty,
and search for bear sign was continued. Every day some deep gorge or
rocky ravine was visited and thoroughly hunted, and a deer was killed
occasionally, but no sign of bears was found until the 3d of July,
when the tracks of a very large grizzly were discovered crossing a
ridge between the Lockwood Valley and the Seymour. The tracks were
followed across the Seymour Valley to a spur of the mountain between
the mill ravine and a deep canyon to the westward.
Camp was moved to a green cienaga at the head of the latter, which was
christened Bear Canyon, and the building of a trap was begun near the
mouth--about half a mile from camp. Three large pine trees served as
corner posts for a pen built of twenty-inch logs, "gained" at the
corners and fastened together with stout oak pins. The pen was about
twelve feet long, four feet high and five feet wide inside, and the
door was made of pine logs sunk into the ground and wedged and pinned
securely. A door of four-inch planks, so heavy that it required three
men to raise it, was set in front, between oak guides pinned
vertically to the trees and suspended by a rope running over a pulley
and back to a trigger that engaged with a pivoted stick of oak, to
which the bait was to be fastened. Five days were consumed in the
construction of the trap, and while the work was going on a bear
visited the camp at night and stampeded all the saddle and pack
animals out of the canyon.
A German prospector named Sparkuhle, who was staying temporarily in
the camp, was cured of a severe case of skepticism that night.
Sparkuhle believed nothing that he could not see, and he declared,
with exasperating iteration, "I believe there don't vas any bears in
der gountry. I look for 'em every day, thinking perhaps might I could
see one, but I don't could see any." And every night before he turned
in, Sparkuhle said: "Vell, might did a bear come tonight. I wish I
could see one, but I think there don't vas any bears at all."
Sparkuhle scorned the shelter of the bough shed, under which the
Examiner outfit slept, and spread his blankets on top of a bank about
six feet above a rocky shelf that was used as a pantry and kitchen.
His only weapon was his pick, and he was not afraid of being disturbed
by any prowling animal.
It was about midnight when the camp was alarmed by the snorting of the
horses and the clatter of hoofs galloping down the canyon, but before
the cause of the disturbance could be learned a yell of surprise came
from Sparkuhle, followed by a crash and a terrible clatter among the
pots and pans below the bank. In another moment Sparkuhle ran into
the camp and began to tell excitedly what had happened to him. He was
so intensely interested in his story that he paid no attention to a
three-tined fork that was sticking in him just below the end of his
back. He said he was awakened by the noise in camp, and looking up
thought he saw the burro standing over him. Seizing his pillow he made
a swipe at the animal, and said, "Get away, Balaam!" and then the
supposed burro hit him a clip and knocked him spinning over the edge
of the bank, but the blow did no further damage because Sparkuhle was
rolled up in half a dozen blankets. The noise of his arrival among the
tinware alarmed the bear and when the party got out with lights and
guns he was out of sight. Sparkuhle slept in the cabin after that.
Two days later the big bear went into a sheep camp near the mill,
while the herder was cooking supper, stampeded the sheep right over
the fire, caught one and killed it, and sat down within thirty yards
of the herder and leisurely gorged himself with mutton. The Mexican
herder described him as "grande" and "muy blanco" and said he was as
tall as a mule. On the following day at noon the same bear went into
another sheep camp about three miles from the mill, and stole a
freshly killed sheep, which the herder had hung up for his own use.
Then he suddenly ceased his raids and disappeared and for the next
three weeks the mountain seemed to be deserted by the bears.
The herders had put strychnine into the carcasses of several sheep
that had died of eating poisonous weeds, and McCullough thought the
bears must have eaten the poisoned mutton and become sick. It requires
a strong dose of strychnine to kill a grizzly, and frequently the
bears get only enough to make them ill and send them into temporary
retirement in some dark gorge.
But while the bears were away the mountain lions and panthers managed
to keep things from becoming dull. They came into camp several times
and made the canyon ring with their yowling, but they always kept
brush between themselves and the fire-light, and it was impossible to
get a shot at them. Their raids became so annoying that two hounds
were procured and brought into camp; after that the nightprowling
beasts kept at a respectful distance. Being unable to steal any more
provisions from the Examiner outfit, the lions turned their attention
to the sheep camps. One night a lion sneaked up through a willow
thicket to the nearest sheep camp and killed three sheep. He was a
dainty lion, evidently, as he only cut the throats of the sheep and
drank their blood and did not eat any mutton. The same lion followed
the scent of a carcass that had been dragged to the bear trap for
bait, but he stopped twenty yards from the trap, and went away, not
caring to risk his neck by going into any such contrivance.
Wherever bait was dragged over the mountain, and it was dragged many
miles for the purpose of enticing bear to the trap, the lions followed
the trail, but they would not go into the trap. Still it is not safe
to generalize from this fact and assume that the cougar or mountain
lion never will go into a trap, for he is a most erratic and uncertain
beast. Sometimes he is an arrant coward, and again he is as bold as a
genuine lion. Generally a dog will keep cougars away from a camp or
house, but once in a while the cougar hunts the dog and kills him.
One afternoon a cougar jumped into Joe Dye's dooryard at his ranch on
the Sespe, picked up Joe's baby and sprang over the fence with it. Joe
seized his rifle and shot the animal as it ran, and when the cougar
felt the sting of the bullet he dropped the baby and ran up the
mountain. He had seized the baby's clothes only, and the little one
was not hurt. The next night the cougar returned, captured Joe's
hound, carried it into the mountains and killed it.
On the 1st of August, the report reached camp that the bears were
having a picnic on the Mutaw ranch and were killing hogs by the score.
John F. Cuddy's sons, the best vaqueros and bronco-riders in this part
of the country, offered to go over to the Mutaw with the correspondent
and lasso a bear if one could be found on open ground; accordingly,
the party saddled up and took the trail up the Piru, arriving at the
Mutaw meadows late in the night, after a rough ride of twenty miles.
In the morning Mr. Taylor, one of the owners of the ranch, was found
skinning a grizzly that had eaten strychnine in pork during the night.
Mr. Taylor had put poison out all over the ranch and the prospect of
catching a live bear seemed dubious, but all the poisoned meat that
could be found was buried at once, and Bowers and the correspondent
began building a trap to catch a bear that had been making twelve-inch
tracks around the cabins. The Cuddy boys rode about looking for bear,
and one of them lassoed an eagle that had waterlogged himself and was
sitting stupidly on a rock by the creek. The bird measured nine feet
across the wings. Messrs. Louis and Taylor, owners of the Mutaw,
received the party hospitably and assisted in the work of preparing
the trap. But Mr. Taylor forgot where he had put some of his poison,
and in forty-eight hours all the dogs in the place, including the
Examiner's two hounds, were stiffened out and turned up their toes.
Chopping off their tails and pouring sweet oil down their throats did
not restore them.
No chance to lasso a bear presented itself, and as soon as the trap
was completed and baited with two live pigs the party returned to Pine
At last it became evident that the bears on Mount Pinos could not be
enticed into a trap while they had their pick and choice of the
thousands of sheep that grazed on the mountain. They preferred to do
their own butchering and would not touch mutton that was killed for
them by anybody else. A cougar raided a camp one night, sprang upon
the sheep from a willow thicket and killed three within twenty yards
of the sleeping herder. The fastidious cougar cut their throats,
sucked their blood and left their carcasses at the edge of the thicket
without eating the meat. But the bears would not touch what the cougar
Shortly after this the herders reported that the bears were avoiding
the sheep and passing around the bands without making an attack.
Apparently bruin had made a miscalculation in his calendar and was
keeping Lent in the wrong season, but his erratic conduct was
explained when some of the herders admitted that they had put
strychnine into several carcasses. Some of the bears had got doses of
poison large enough to make them mortally unwell, but had survived and
sworn off eating mutton. They disappeared from the vicinity of the
camps and grazing ground, and went into solitary confinement in remote
and deep gorges, where nobody but a lunatic would follow them.
The result of many weeks' hard work on Mount Pinos was the acquirement
of some knowledge of the nature and eccentricities of Ursus ferox,
which was glibly imparted by Tom, Dick and Harry, who assumed that the
mere fact of their having lived near the mountains qualified them to
speak as authorities on the habits of bears.
One inspired idiot declared that the best way to catch a grizzly was
to give him atropia, which would make him blind for a day or two, and
lead him along like a tame calf. This genius was so enamored of his
great discovery that he went about the country telling everybody that
the Examiner man was going to catch a grizzly with atropia, and that
he (the aforesaid lunatic) was the inventor of the scheme and general
boss of the outfit.
"A bear will do this," said one. "He will do so and so," said another,
and "you just do that and he'll go right into the trap," said a dozen
more. Everybody seemed to be loaded to the guards with an assorted
cargo of general ignorance about bears, which they were anxious to
discharge upon the Examiner expedition, but not one man in the whole
lot ever caught a grizzly, and very few ever saw one.
As a matter of fact, determined by experience and observation, a
grizzly will do none of the things laid down as rules of conduct for
him by the wise men of the mountains, but will do pretty much as he
pleases, and act as his individual whim or desire moves him. It is a
mistake to generalize about bears from the actions of one of the
species. One bear will be bold and inquisitive, and will walk right
into a camp to gratify his curiosity, while another will carefully
avoid man and all his works.
The predictions of an ursine invasion of Mount Pinos were not
fulfilled and when it became clear that the few grizzlies in the
neighborhood were too timid and wary to be caught, the expedition
struck camp and moved on, leaving the traps set for luck.
Considerable annoyance was caused by a discharged mule-packer, who
carried away tools required in trap building, and embezzled quite a
sum of money. The fellow had attempted to impose upon the
correspondent by whittling out pine-bark models of bear's feet, with
which to make tracks around the trap; and had proposed various
swindling jobs to others of the party, explaining that the "Examiner
was rich and they might as well get a hack at the money." He had
opened and read letters intrusted to him for mailing, and had proved
himself generally a faithless scamp and an unconscionable liar. A
written demand upon him, for restitution of his plunder, elicited
only a coarse and abusive letter, but there was no time to waste in
prosecuting the fellow and he was left in the enjoyment of his booty
and in such satisfaction as the rascal mind of him could derive from
the fact that he had succeeded in robbing his employer.
The big bear on the Mutaw never came near the trap built for his
special accommodation, notwithstanding the confident assurances of the
bear experts on the ranch that he was sure to show up within
forty-eight hours. For two months after the poisoning of his campanero
no signs of the large grizzly were seen anywhere near the Mutaw, and
the hogs roamed about the hills unmolested.
After leaving Mount Pinos the expedition built several traps in the
mountains near trails frequented by bears. An old grizzly that lived
among the unsurveyed and unnamed peaks between Castac Lake and the
Liebra Mountain absorbed the attention of the hunters for some time.
He was an audacious marauder and killed his beef almost within sight
of the camp-fire. Often at night a cow or steer could be heard
bellowing in terror, and in the morning a freshly killed animal would
be found in some hollow not far away, bearing marks of bear's claws.
Whitened bones scattered all over the hills showed that the bear had
been the boss butcher of General Beal's ranch for a long time. His
average allowance of beef appeared to be about two steers a week, but
he usually ate only half a carcass, leaving the rest to the coyotes
One morning Bowers returned from a hunt for the horses, two of which
had been struck and slightly wounded by the bear a few nights before,
and had run away, and reported the discovery of a dead steer within
150 yards of an unfinished trap, about a quarter of a mile from camp.
The animal appeared to have been killed two nights before, and the
bear had made but one meal off the carcass. As he might be expected
to return that night, all haste was made to finish the trap. Bowers
rode out to Gorman's Station to get some nails and honey, while the
correspondent paid a visit to one of General Beal's old corrals and
stole some planks to make a door. He packed the planks up the
mountain, and was using the hammer and saw with great diligence and a
tremendous amount of noise, when bruin sauntered down the ridge,
looked curiously at him and calmly began eating an early supper,
wholly indifferent to the noise of the hammer and the presence of the
It was nearly dark when Bowers rode up to the trap, his horse in a
lather composed of equal parts of perspiration and honey, the latter
having leaked profusely from the cans tied to the saddle. Tossing the
nails to the correspondent, Bowers hastily dismounted and went afoot
up the ridge toward the dead steer, intending to place a can of honey
near it. In about a minute Bowers was seen running from the ridge in
fifteen-foot jumps, and as he approached the trap he shouted: "The
bear is there now!"
"Is that so?" said the correspondent. "I thought he had finished his
supper and had gone away by this time."
Bowers had approached to within forty yards of the bear before seeing
him, and the bear had merely raised his head, taken a look at the
intruder and resumed his eating. As it had become too dark to drive
nails, and there was no longer any reason for finishing the door that
night, Bowers fetched the rifles from camp and the two men went up the
ridge to take a better look at the bear. Had there been light enough
to make the rifle sights visible, it would have been hard to resist
the temptation of turning loose at the old fellow from behind a
convenient log; but it was impossible to draw a bead on him, and it
would have been sheer foolhardiness to shoot and take the chances of a
fight in the dark with a wounded grizzly. Besides, if shot at and
missed, the bear would probably not return, and all the chances of
getting him into the trap would be lost. So the two sat on a log and
watched the grizzly till the night came on thick and dark, when they
returned to camp.
The trap was finished the next day, but a somewhat ludicrous accident
destroyed its possibilities of usefulness, and made it quite certain
that bruin would never be caught in it. Not expecting a visit from the
bear, for at least two days, the correspondent went up to the ridge
just before dark, made a rope fast to the remains of a steer, and
dragged him down to the trap. Bowers had gone back to Ventura on
business, and the correspondent was alone on the mountain; when he
went into the trap to fix a can of honey upon the trigger, he placed a
stick under the door, in such a way that if the door should fall he
could use the stick as a lever to pry it up, and so avoid an
experience like Dad Coffman's.
The precaution was well taken. While he was arranging the bait he
heard snuffling and the movement of some animal outside. Supposing
that some cow or perhaps the burro was wandering about, he paid no
particular attention to the noise, but when the bait was arranged and
he turned to go out he saw the muzzle of old bruin poked into the door
and his eyes blinking curiously at the dark interior of the trap.
Bruin had come down for a feast and had followed the trail of the
steer's remains with unexpected promptness. He had scented the honey,
which was more alluring than stale beef, and evidently was considering
the propriety of entering the trap to get his supper, which might
consist of honeycomb au naturel, with Examiner man on the side.
The man in the trap deemed it highly improper for the bear to intrude
at that time, and quickly decided the etiquette of the case by
kicking the trigger and letting the door fall with a dull thud plump
upon the old grizzly's nose. A hundred and sixty pounds falling four
feet is no laughing affair when it hits one on the nose, and bruin did
not make light of it. He was pained and surprised, and he went away
more in sorrow than in anger, judging from the tone of his
expostulating grunts and snorts.
When the snorts of the bear died away in the distance, the
correspondent pried up the door, crawled out and cautiously made his
way through the dark woods to his lonely camp.
At this time there were six traps scattered through the mountains
within a radius of sixty miles, all of them set and baited, and the
more distant ones watched by men employed for that purpose. One of the
traps was on a mountain that was not pastured by cattle, or sheep, and
as there were no acorns in that part of the country, the bears had to
rustle for a living and were unable to withstand the temptation
offered by quarters of beef judiciously exposed to their raids.
The bait scattered around this trap was discovered by four bears, but
for some time they regarded it with suspicion, and were afraid to
touch it, possibly because they detected the scent of man near it.
Gradually they became accustomed to it and the signs of man's
presence, and then they began to quarrel over the meat, as was plainly
indicated by the disturbance of the ground where their tracks met. Two
of the tracks were of medium size, one was quite large and evidently
made by a grizzly, and the fourth was enormous, being fourteen inches
long and nine inches wide.
The last-named track was not made by a grizzly however. There were six
toes on the forefoot, and this peculiar deformity was the
distinguishing mark of a gigantic cinnamon bear known to hunters as
It was almost invariably found, during the long campaign in the
wilderness, that tracks over eleven inches in length were made by
cinnamon bears, and not by genuine grizzlies, although some hunters
declare that the cinnamon is only a variety of grizzly, and that the
color is not the mark of a different species. However that may be, the
difference between the two varieties is very distinct, and as the
object of the expedition was the capture of an indubitable California
grizzly, no special effort was made to trap any of the big cinnamons.
The smaller bears soon gave up the contest for the beef and left the
field to Pete and the grizzly, who quarreled and fought around it for
several nights. At last the grizzly gave Pete a thorough licking and
established his own right to the title of monarch of the mountain. The
decisive battle occurred one moonlight night and was witnessed from a
safe perch in a fork of a tree near the trap.
It was nearly 9 o'clock when the snapping of dry sticks indicated the
approach of a heavy animal through the brush, and in a few moments the
big grizzly came into sight, walking slowly and sniffing suspiciously.
A smart breeze was drawing down the canyon, and the bear, being to the
windward, could not smell the man up the tree, but he approached the
meat cautiously and seemed in no hurry for his supper. While he was
reconnoitering another animal was heard smashing through the thicket,
and presently the huge bulk of Six-Toed Pete loomed up in the
moonlight at the edge of the opening.
At the approach of the cinnamon the grizzly rose upon his haunches and
uttered low, hoarse growls, and when the big fellow appeared within
twenty feet of him, he launched himself forward with surprising
swiftness and struck Pete a blow on the neck that staggered him. It
was like one of Sullivan's rushes in the ring, and the blow of that
ponderous paw would have knocked out an ox; but Pete was no slouch of
a slugger himself, and he quickly recovered and returned the blow with
such good will that had the grizzly's head been in the way it would
have ached for a week afterward.
Then the fur began to fly.
It was impossible to follow the movements of the combatants in detail,
as they sparred, clinched and rolled about, but in a general way
Six-Toed Pete seemed to be trying to make his superior weight tell by
rushing at the grizzly and knocking him over, while the latter avoided
the direct impact of the cinnamon's great bulk by quick turns and a
display of agility that was scarcely credible in so unwieldy looking
an animal. Once the cinnamon seized the grizzly by the throat and for
a moment hushed the latter's fierce growls by choking off his wind,
but the grizzly sat down, threw his arm over Pete's neck, placed his
other forepaw upon Pete's nose, sunk his claws in deep, and instantly
broke the hold. As they parted, the grizzly made a vicious sweep with
his right paw and caught Pete on the side of the head. The blow either
destroyed the cinnamon's left eye or tore the flesh around it, so that
the blood blinded him on that side, for during the rest of the fight
he tried to keep his right side toward the grizzly and seemed unable
to avoid blows delivered on his left.
For at least a quarter of an hour the combat raged, without an
instant's cessation, both belligerents keeping up a terrific growling,
punctuated with occasional howls of pain. Neither could get a fair
blow at the other's head. Had the grizzly struck the cinnamon with the
full force of his tremendous arm, Pete's skull would have surely been
smashed. Pete finally got enough, broke away from the Monarch and fled
into the brush, a badly used up bear; and he never came back.
Having won his supper by force of arms, the grizzly was no longer
suspicious of the bait, and he ate up the best part of a quarter of
beef before he left the battle ground. He soon became accustomed to
the trap, and regularly came there for his meals, which were gradually
placed nearer the door and finally inside the structure. A piece of
meat was tied to the trigger, and one morning the door was found
closed, and a great ripping and tearing was heard going on inside. The
Monarch was caught at last.
Upon the approach of the men, the grizzly became furious and made the
heavy logs tremble and shake in his efforts to get out and resent the
indignity that had been placed upon him. Had he concentrated his
attack on any one spot and been left to wreak his rage without
interruption he would have been out in a few hours, but he was not
permitted to work long at any place. Wherever he began work he
encountered the end of a heavy stake which was jabbed against his nose
and head with all the power of a man's arms.
Day and night from the moment he was found in the trap, the Monarch
was watched and guarded, and he kept two men busy all the time.
Although his attention was distracted from the trap as much as
possible, he found time to gnaw and rip a ten-inch log almost in two,
and sometimes he made the bark and splinters fly in a way that was
calculated to make a nervous man loathe the job of standing guard over
him. For six days the Monarch was so busy trying to break jail that he
had no time to fool away in eating. Solitary confinement developed in
him a most malicious temper and he flew into a rage whenever food was
thrown to him.
But his applications for a writ of habeas corpus were persistently
denied by a man with a club, and the Monarch at last cooled down a
little and condescended to take a light lunch of raw venison. He was
given two days for reflection and meditation, and when he seemed to be
in a more reasonable mood, the work of preparing him for a visit to
the city was begun.
A running noose was made in a stout chain and put into the trap
between two of the logs, and when the bear stepped his forepaw into
the noose it was drawn taut and held by four men outside. Despite the
strain upon the chain the bear easily threw the noose off with his
other paw, letting the men fall backwards in a heap on the ground.
Again and again the trick was tried but the noose would not hold.
Then the method of working the chain was changed and the noose let
down through the top of the trap, and after many failures it was drawn
sharply up round his arm near the shoulder, where it held. Ten hours
were consumed in the effort to secure one leg and the Monarch fought
furiously every minute of the time, biting the chain, seizing it with
his paws and charging about in his prison as though he were crazy. He
was utterly reckless of consequences to himself, and he bit the iron
so savagely that he splintered his teeth and wholly destroyed his
Having secured one leg, it was comparatively easy to get another
chain around his other paw and two ropes around his hind legs, and
then he was stretched out, spread-eagle fashion, on the floor of the
The next move was to fasten a heavy chain around his neck in such a
way that it could not choke him, and to accomplish this it was
necessary to muzzle the Monarch. A stick about eighteen inches long
and two inches thick was held under his nose, and he promptly seized
it in his jaws. Before he dropped it a stout cord was made fast to one
end of the stick, passed over his nose, around the other end of the
stick, under his jaw, and then wound around his muzzle and the stick
in such a way as to bind his jaws together, a turn back of his head
holding the gag firmly in place.
The Monarch was now bound, gagged and utterly helpless, but he never
ceased roaring with rage at his captors and struggling to get just one
blow at them with his paw. It was an easy matter for a man to get
upon his back, put a chain collar around his neck, and fasten the
heavy chain with a swivel to the collar. The collar was kept in place
by a chain rigged like a martingale and passed under his arms and over
his back. A stout rope made fast about his body completed the
Monarch's fetters and the gag was then removed from the royal mouth.
The King of the mountains was a hopeless prisoner--Gulliver, tied hand
and foot by the Lilliputians.
The next morning Monarch was lashed upon a rough sled--a contrivance
known to lumbermen as a "go-devil"--to make the journey down the
mountain. The first team of horses procured to haul him could not be
driven anywhere near the bear. They plunged and snorted and became
utterly unmanageable, and finally they broke away and ran home. The
next team was but little better, and small progress was made the first
At night the Monarch was released from the "go-devil" and secured
only by his chains to a large tree. The ropes were removed from his
legs, and he was allowed considerable freedom to move about, but a
close watch was kept upon him. After several futile efforts to break
away, he accepted the situation, stretched himself at the foot of the
tree and watched the camp-fire all night.
In the morning the ropes were replaced, after a lively combat, and the
bear was again lashed to the sled. Four horses were harnessed to it
and the journey was resumed. Men with axes and bars went ahead to make
a road, and it was with no small amount of labor that they made it
passable. The poor old bear was slammed along over the rocks and
through the brush, but he never whimpered at the hardest jolts. With
all the care that could be observed, it was impossible to make his
ride anything but a series of bumps, slides and capsizes, and the
progress was slow. At the steep places men held the sled back with
ropes and tried to keep it right side up.
Four days on a "go-devil" is no pleasure excursion, even for a tough
grizzly, and when the Monarch was released from his uncomfortable
vehicle, at the foot of the mountain, he seemed glad to get a chance
to stretch himself and rest. For nearly a week he was left free of all
fetters except the chain on his neck and the rope around his body, and
he spent his days in slumber and his nights eating and digging a great
hole in the ground. Having convinced himself that he could neither
break his chain nor bite it in two, he accepted the situation with
surly resignation and asked only to be let alone and fed decently.
While the bear was recuperating and becoming reconciled to what
couldn't be helped, a cage was being built of Oregon pine lumber with
an iron-barred door, and when it was finished he was dragged into it
by the heels. As soon as he saw the ropes, Monarch knew that mischief
was afoot, and when a man began throwing back into the hole the dirt
that he had dug out, he mounted the heap and silently but strenuously
began to dig for himself a new hole. He worked twice as fast as two
men with shovels, and in his efforts to escape he only assisted in
filling up the old hole.
For some time he baffled all attempts to get ropes on his forepaws,
having learned the trick of throwing them off and seizing the loops
with his teeth, but he was soon secured and stretched out on his back.
The Monarch roared his remonstrances and did his best to get even for
the outrages that had been done to his rights and his feelings, but
the ropes were tough and he could not get a chance to use his enormous
strength. He was dragged on his back into the cage, the door was
dropped and the ropes were removed, but the chain remained around his
neck and that was made fast to the bars. As soon as he found himself
shut up in a box the angry and insulted bear ceased roaring and in a
short time he philosophically stretched himself on the floor and
wondered what would happen next.
The next thing that happened to him was the standing of his cage on
end, but that did not appear to disturb him. A wagon was backed up,
and the cage was tilted down again and placed upon the wagon, which
was then hauled down the canyon and along the river bed to a little
water station on the Southern Pacific Railroad, where the cage was put
upon a stock car. The car was provisioned with a quarter of beef, and
a lot of watermelons, and attached to a freight train, then men who
had helped to bring the bear out of the mountains waved their hats,
and the Monarch caught a last glimpse of his native hills as the train
whirled him and the correspondent northward.
It must have been a very strange, perhaps terrifying, thing to the
wild grizzly to be jolted along for two days on a rattling, bumping,
lurching freight train, with the shrieking of steam whistles and the
ringing of bells, but he endured it all heroically and gave no sign of
fear. He ate well when food was given him, taking meat from his
captor's hands through the bars, and slept soundly when he was tired.
He seemed to know and yield a sort of obedience to the correspondent,
but resented with menacing growls the impertinent curiosity of
strangers who came to look at him through the bars.
In every crowd that, came to see him there was at least one fool
afflicted with a desire to poke the bear with a stick, and constant
vigilance was necessary to prevent such witless persons from enraging
him. At Mojave, when the correspondent went to the car, he found a
dozen idlers inside, and one inspired lunatic was stirring up the
Monarch, who was rapidly losing his temper. The cage would not have
held him five minutes had he once tackled the bars in a rage, and it
was only the moral influence of the chain around his neck that kept
him quiet. When the correspondent sprang into the car, the grizzly's
eyes were green with anger, and in a moment more there would have been
the liveliest kind of a circus on that freight train. Hustling the
crowd out with unceremonious haste--incidentally throwing a few
maledictions at the man with the stick--the correspondent drove the
Monarch back from the bars, and ordered him to lie down, and for the
next half hour rode in the car with him and talked him into a
peaceable frame of mind.
From the freight depot on Townsend Street the cage was hauled on a
truck to Woodward's Gardens, and under the directions of Louis
Ohnimus, superintendent of the gardens, the Monarch was transferred to
more comfortable quarters. His cage was backed up to one of the
permanent cages, both doors were opened, and he was invited to move,
but he refused to budge until his chain was passed around the bars
and hauled by four stout men. The grizzly resisted for a few minutes,
but suddenly decided to change his quarters and went with a rush and a
roar, wheeling about and striking savagely through the bars at the
men. But Mr. Ohnimus had expected just such a performance and taken
such precautions that nobody was hurt and no damage done.
The Monarch had shown himself a brave fighter and an animal of unusual
courage in every way. He had endured the roughest kind of a journey
without weakening, and compelled respect and admiration from the
moment of his capture. But when the strain and excitement were over,
and he was left to himself, the effects became apparent, and for two
or three days he was a sick bear. He had a fever and would not eat for
a time, but Mr. Ohnimus took charge of him, doctored him with
medicines good for the ills of bear flesh, and soon tempted back his
appetite with rabbits and pigeons.
Soon the Monarch was sufficiently convalescent to rip the sheet iron
from the side of his cage and break a hole through into the hyena's
quarters. By night he was on his muscle in great shape, and
Superintendent Ohnimus sent for the correspondent to sit up with him
all night and help keep the half-ton grizzly from tearing things to
pieces. By watching the old fellow and talking to him now and then
they managed to distract his attention from mischief most of the time,
but he got in considerable work and rolled up several sheets of iron
as though they were paper.
It was evident that no ordinary cage would hold him, and men were at
once employed to line one of the compartments with heavy iron of the
toughest quality and to strengthen it with bars and angle iron. This
made a perfectly secure place of confinement. A watch was kept on the
Monarch by the garden keepers during the day, and by the
superintendent and the correspondent every night, until the work was
finished and the Monarch transferred.
The grizzly is now safely housed in the first apartment of the line of
cages, and under the watchful care of Mr. Ohnimus will soon recover
his lost flesh and energy and again be the magnificent animal that he
was when he was the undisputed monarch of the Sierra Madre.
Monarch a True Grizzly.
"Monarch," the Examiner's big grizzly, received many visitors
yesterday, but, having been up all night trying the strength of his
new house, he declined to stand up, and paid but little attention to
the crowd. His chain had been fastened to the bars of his cage with
three half hitches and a knot, and the knot was held in place by a
piece of wire. During the night he removed the wire, untied all the
knots and half hitches and hauled the chain inside, where nobody
could meddle with it. Having the chain all to himself, Monarch was
indifferent to his visitors and lazily stretched himself on his back,
with one arm thrown back over his head.
He had a good appetite yesterday and got away with a leg of lamb and a
lot of bread and apples. He ate a little too heartily and had the
symptoms of fever. Today he will not get so much food. The best time
to see him is when he eats, because he lies down all other times of
the day. He has breakfast at 10 a. m., lunch at 1 p. m. and dinner at
3 p. m.
Monarch still looks travelworn and thin, but he is brightening up, and
when the abrasions of the skin, made by ropes and chains, are healed
up and his hair grown again on the bare spots he will be more
presentable. His broken teeth trouble him some and it will be some
time before he will feel as well as he did before he was caught.
Several artists went to Woodward's Gardens today to sketch and
photograph the bear, but he refused to pose, so they did not get the
best results. It would be unwise to stir him up and excite him at
present, and unless the artists can catch him at his meals they will
have to wait a little while for a chance to study the grizzly under
Sculptor Rupert Schmidt has made an excellent model in clay of
Monarch, which will be a valuable assistance in designs requiring the
introduction of the California emblem.
Mr. Schmidt said:
"I am very glad to have the opportunity to study the real grizzly, and
I find him very different from the models generally accepted. I have
modeled many bears, but never one like this. You see in this design
some figures of bears (showing a wax model of decorative capitals).
These were intended to be grizzlies, but you see they have the Roman
nose, which is characteristic of the black bear. No other bear that I
ever saw had the broad forehead and strong, straight nose of the
grizzly. He has a magnificent head, and I think all artists will be
glad of a chance to study him. I have inquired for grizzlies in
zoological gardens all over the world, but never found one before."
Monarch has a big, intelligent-looking head and a kindly eye, and is
not disposed to quarrel with visitors, but he objects to any meddling
with his chain, and will not submit to any insults. It was necessary
yesterday to keep a watchman between the cage and the crowd to prevent
people from throwing things at the bear and stirring him up. Monarch
is getting along very well and taking his troubles quite
philosophically; but he has had a rough experience, is worn out with
fighting and worry, is sore in body and spirit and needs rest. It is a
difficult thing to keep alive in captivity a wild bear of his age, and
undue excitement might throw him into a fatal fever. If
Superintendent Ohnimus succeeds in his efforts to cure the Monarch of
his bruises and put him into good condition, he will deserve great
credit, and the visitors are requested not to make the task more
difficult by worrying the captive. No other zoological garden in the
world has a California grizzly, and it would be a great loss to the
menagerie to be established in the Park if the Monarch should die.
It is not surprising that many people cannot tell a grizzly bear, even
when they see one, as many zoologists even differ widely in regard to
the characteristics of the king of bears. It is astonishing how little
is really known in regard to the grizzly bear. Many text-books contain
only a general notice of the great animal, while those naturalists who
have written descriptions of him do by no means agree. This is due to
their lack of specimens. The grizzly is so powerful and unyielding a
beast that but few have been captured alive. There have not been
individuals enough of the species studied to admit of their being
fully generalized. Different naturalists described the grizzly from
the single specimen that came within their notice, and hence their
various descriptions are far apart. It is a fact that hardly two of
the animals taken are exactly alike in color or habits.
In order to definitely settle the question, Prof. Walter E. Bryant, of
the Academy of Sciences, was yesterday induced to visit the bear. He
has made the mammals of the Pacific Coast his study for years, and
probably knows more than anyone else about California bears.
He examined Monarch very carefully, noted his every point, and then
examined just as carefully the other bears at the gardens.
When he had completed his investigation and stood once more before
Monarch's cage, he was asked:
"Well, what is he?"
"He is a true grizzly bear," answered Professor Bryant, and he added,
"a mighty big one, too.
"I never before saw one of the animals with as dark a coat as his," he
continued; "but that is nothing. The bear is a true grizzly, and has
all the characteristics of one. As far as his color is concerned,
grizzlies are of all colors; there is almost as much variety in that
regard among bears as among dogs."
"How do you know it is a grizzly?" was asked.
"Well, in the first place, the claws on his forefeet are longer and
stronger than those of any other species. Then his head is larger than
that of other bears, and his muzzle is longer and heavier. Another and
more distinguishing feature is the height of his shoulders. Just back
of his neck is the tallest point. From there his back slopes down
towards his haunches. The black bear, on the other hand, has low
shoulders, and is tallest at a point rather back of the middle of the
body. There are numerous other means of distinguishing this bear. His
teeth are very much larger and stronger than those of the others, and
the entire structure of the skull is peculiar to the grizzly. He has
neither the short muzzle of the European bear such as you see in the
pit, nor the rounded muzzle of the black bear. There are, of course,
many minor points that only a naturalist would observe, but it is
sufficient to say that he lacks none of the essential qualities of the
grizzly bear, and has none of those of the other varieties.
"His coat is almost black, to be sure, but it is very different from
the glossy black of his neighbor. If you observe the grizzly's hair,
you will see that a great deal of it is a rusty brown and in certain
lights seems to be very far from black. This variation in the color of
the hair is a peculiar characteristic of the grizzly. That lanky mane
is another. His legs, you observe, are darker than his body. This is
another characteristic of the California grizzly.
"This animal is thin now, doubtless from the hard time he had while he
was being brought here. When he gets fat his hair will have a very
different appearance. It will be interesting to watch him when he
sheds his hair. The coat that comes after may be altogether of another
color. That grizzly, I should say, is comparatively a young bear, and
when he gets older the gray that originally gave him his name will
very likely be pronounced."
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