These stories are a big part of why I have my giant velociraptor aka guardian dog. I don’t remember bears or cougars being an issue in the area when I was younger, but as the city has grown and more people are in the mountains we sure have a lot of them around now. The story of Uncle George killing the grizzly is pretty legendary around here.
There were four legged predators destroying cattle too. About 1947 a large grizzly began killing our cattle and once they become killers there’s just no stopping them. This one was very cunning and hard to find. One time Percy found four carcasses in one spot that he had killed. We figured he would kill one and the others smelling fresh blood would come bellering in to chase him. It really scares you to see how powerful they are. With one swat of his paw he would bash in the head of a full-grown cow. With another swat he would rip off the ribs from the backbone. Nobody really wanted to tangle with that fellow but the men did try very hard to find him for the two or more years he was active. They posted a reward of $500 to anyone who could catch him. In the spring of 1947 we had two experienced hunters come from Crossfield and Percy gave them an old horse to take out on the range and shoot it and leave it for bait. But the bear was too smart for them. One day Percy’s brother George rode upon a fresh kill, the carcass of a yearling. George was used to the ways of the wild and he very carefully concealed a huge bear trap in a sort of natural windfall of logs. He succeeded in trapping him and shooting the monster dead first shot. It was a seven foot, 700 pound male grizzly.
Talking about bears, Percy nearly shot Clarence once thinking he was a bear. I had a girl working for me who had lived all her life on the prairies. She hated trees and got the creeps when she had to walk under one. Of course, the boys delighted in spinning tall terrifying yarns to her and this evening she had walked down to visit the girl at Jack Copithorne’s. It was almost dark when she hurried home and Clarence and another boy put fur robes over themselves and hid under some brush about halfway down the hill and jumped out behind her. Percy and I were sitting quietly in the kitchen when she hit the back door. If she had been more fragile she would have come right through the door. We were very concerned when we saw her white face and when she finally was able to speak we had our doubts about it being a bear, but we hadn’t been told about the trick. Percy grabbed his shotgun and went out and shot it off in the air anyway, just to satisfy everyone. I guess those two boys never scrambled up the hill so fast in all their life, expecting maybe another shot.
We have occasionally had a black bear turn killer and molest cattle and once or twice a cow came in off the range with a big patch taken out of her side that looked suspiciously like a cougar’s work.