In another moment the Grizzly broke through the brush with a full head of steam directly at the doctor, and the bear’s snout was within three feet of the muzzle of the gun when the doctor instinctively pulled both triggers. The two charges of small shot followed the nasal passage and caved in the front of the bear’s skull, killing him instantly, but the animal’s momentum carried him forward, and he and the doctor went down together. The doctor suffered no injury from the bear’s teeth or claws, but was bruised by the shock of the collision and the fall.
Killed with A bowie.
The favorite weapon of the bear hunter of the old time Wild West story book was the bowie, and doughty deeds he used to do with it in hand-to-claw encounters with monstrous Grizzlies.
It was the fashion in those days for bears to stand erect and wrestle catch-as-catch-can, trying to get the under-hold and hug the hunter to death, and the hunter invariably stepped in and plunged his bowie to the hilt in the heart of his foe. But the breed of Grizzly that hugged and the type of hunter who slew with the knife became extinct so long ago that no specimens can be found in these days.
I have known many bear slayers, but never one who would say that he ever did or would deliberately attack a Grizzly with a knife, or that he should expect to survive if forced to defend himself with such a weapon. Neither did I ever hear of a Grizzly that tried to kill a man by hugging him.
The only case of successful use of the bowie in defence against a Grizzly that seemed to be well authenticated, among all the stories I heard from hunters, was that of Jim Wilburns’ fight in Trinity. Wilburn was a noted hunter and mountaineer of Long Ridge, and he had the scars to show for proof of the story. His left arm was crippled, the hand curled up like a claw, and the end of a broken bone made an ugly knob on his wrist. On his scalp were two deep scars extending from his forehead almost to the nape of his neck.
Wilburn had chased a big Grizzly into the brush and was unable to coax him out where he could get a shot at the beast. An Indian offered to go in and prospect for bear, and disappeared in the thicket. His search was successful, but perhaps it was a question whether he found the bear or the bear found him. The Indian came out of the thicket at a sprinting gait with the bear a good second, and they came so suddenly that even Jim Wilburn was taken by surprise. In two more jumps the bear would have been on top of the Indian, but Jim sprang between them, rifle in hand.
Before he could fire, the weapon was wrenched from his hands and broken like a reed. He grabbed his pistol, and that was knocked out of his hand in a jiffy. Then the bear closed on him and both went down, the bear on top. The first thing the bear did was to try to swallow Jim’s head, but it was a large head and made more than a mouthful. The bear’s long upper teeth slipped along the skull, ploughing great furrows in Jim’s scalp, while the lower teeth lacerated his face.