“That was the only bear, other than a Grizzly, that I ever saw dispute the right of way of a man through the woods.”
“Curious how some men will lose their grip on the truth when they talk about bears,” said Mr. Jack Waddell, of Ventura. “There’s old Ari Hopper, for example, a man whose word is good in a hoss trade, but when he tells about his bear fights he puts your confidence in him to an awful strain. I don’t say that Ari would tell lies, but he puts a whole lot of fancy frills on his stories and fixes ’em up gorgeous. I reckon I’ve run across most as many bears as anybody, but I never had no such adventures as I read about.
“The most curious bear scrape I ever had was over on the Piru last spring, and just the plain facts of the case beat anything you ever heard. There was an old white-headed Grizzly in that part of the country that did a heap of damage, but nobody had been able to do him up. They set spring guns for him on the mountain and put out poison all around, but he’d beat the game every time. Taylor, of the Mutaw ranch, fixed a spring gun that he thought would fix the old fellow for sure. It was a big muzzle-loading musket, with a bore as big as an eight-gauge shotgun, and Taylor loaded it with a double handful of powder, thirty buckshot and a wagon bolt six inches long. It was set right in the trail and baited with a chunk of pork tied to the muzzle and connected with the trigger by a string.
“The gun was about a mile from the house, and the very first night after it was set, Taylor was awakened by a roar that made the windows rattle and seemed to shake the very hills. Taylor knew the old gun had gone off, and he chuckled as he thought of the wreck it made of the old Grizzly. In the morning he started out to take a look at his dead bear, and found his tracks leading from the meadow right up the trail. He knew the sign, because the Grizzly put only the heel of his off forefoot to the ground and there was a round mark in the track that looked as though it were made by the end of a bone.