The grizzly bear is a larger animal and far more ferocious, than the black bear. A bullet seems to prick rather than to maim him, and he will attack the hunter with the most desperate and persevering fierceness. Carson was helpless. He had discharged his rifle. The brutes were close upon him, and there were two of them. They could outrun him. His fate seemed sealed.
For once, Kit Carson was frightened; but not so much so as in the slightest degree to lose his self-possession. With a lightning glance, his eye swept the grove, in search of a tree into whose branches he might climb. He saw one at a little distance, and rushed towards it, pursued by both of the monsters growling and gnashing their teeth. With wonderful agility, he sprang and caught a lower branch, and drew himself up into the tree, just in time to escape the blow which one of the bears struck at him with his terrific claws. But he had by no means obtained a place of safety. He had been compelled to drop his rifle in his flight. The grizzly bear can climb a tree, far more easily than can a man. He was too far distant from the camp to hope for aid from that quarter. Again it seemed that a dreadful death was inevitable.
The bears hesitated for a moment, growling and showing their claws and their white teeth. Quick as thought Carson cut and trimmed from the tree a stout cudgel, which would neither break nor bend. Soon, one of the bears commenced climbing the tree. The nose of the bear is very tender, and is the only point vulnerable to blows.
Cudgel in hand, Carson took his stand upon one of the branches, and as soon as the bear’s head came within reach, assailed him with such a storm of blows, that he dropped howling to the ground. The other then made the attempt to climb the tree, and encountered the same fate. The blows which the sinewy arm of Carson had inflicted, evidently gave the animals terrible pain. They filled the forest with their howlings, and endeavored to bury their snouts beneath the sod. For some time they lingered around the tree, looking wistfully at their prey, as if loth to leave it. But they did not venture to incur a repetition of the chastisement they had already received. At length, with almost a ludicrous aspect of disconsolateness, they slowly retired into the forest.
Carson waited until assured that they had entirely withdrawn. He then descended the tree, reloaded his rifle, and repairing to the spot where he had shot the elk, found that it had already been devoured by wolves. This adventure had occupied many dreadful hours. It was not until the morning dawned, that Carson found his way back to his anxious companions in the camp. He often said that never in his life, had he been exposed to greater peril, than on this occasion.