|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
Volume XV Issue VII The Ogden Valley news Page 13 March 15, 2008 Valley Bears and Lions By Sherm Hislop There are a few stories or facts, whichever they are called, about the Huntsville of my youth. The difference between stories and facts depends on who’s telling and who’s listening, but it was always difficult to separate fiction from facts in many of the incidents that took place. There are many Huntsville stories about the shooting of bears, but there are not many left to tell them. There were often bear carcasses for proof, but whether that makes the stories fact or fiction is questionable. In 1930 my brother Curtis brought a dead 300-pound bear down out of Beaver from the east up around Monte Cristo. The newspaper account of the story said that Jenny, my brother’s pregnant wife, and their young child Gary were spending the summer with Curtis while he was caring for a herd of sheep around Monte Cristo. One afternoon, Jenny and Curtis decided to switch horses. Jenny stayed at the bottom of the canyon with their son while Curt rode up the canyon to check on the sheep. This explains why Jenny had a thirty-thirty rifle available. Gary, about 2-years old at the time, walked up a trail and then suddenly came running down hollering. Chasing him was a bear. Jenny, not knowing what else to do, grabbed the rifle from the scabbard on Curt’s horse. As the bear came around the corner, it stood up and looked at her. Jenny shot the bear right between the eyes. The problem with this story is, Jenny couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a bucket of wheat, but she never denied the story my brother told. Fact or fiction, that bear was later made into a rug and I believe one of their grandchildren has the rug to this day. Another bear story from the Valley involves my brother John. He and his friend Ray were out on the south hills riding their horses. They came upon a bear that had come down from the Basin Peak area. John, trying to demonstrate his skills as a cowboy, lassoed the bear by the front feet. Ray then lassoed the rear feet. With the two horses, they were able to keep the bear under tight ropes. It was about 250 pound, but it was old and its teeth were almost gone. They tied the live bear up and brought it to Huntsville where a pen was built for it at the old American Legion Hall. The newspaper took a picture of John with the live bear and told of the story “Tough Cowboy Puts Rope on Big Bear.” It all ended when the game warden said that no one was allowed to keep bears penned up. He shot the bear and kept it for himself. What the actual facts of the story are, no one seems to know because all of those involved have passed on to another realm. Mr. Hinkle told a story about a bear that was after a calf in his barn. The bear was over 200 pounds, and Mr. Hinkle claimed he had to kill it with his pocketknife because he didn’t have his gun. The story was recorded in the Ogden Standard Examiner, which is the same paper where most of the other bear stories were printed. Of course, the city boys who wrote the stories never knew that they may have been taken in. There were not only stories of bears, but of lions as well. One lion supposedly got into a barn in Eden. Bishop Fuller tells the story, which gives some credence to his story. [The Ogden Standard Examiner wrote, “It was decided by hunters Leonard Fuller and Boyd Carver that the pelt of a large mountain lion killed near Eden would be made into a rug. They killed the animal on the Lewis Clark Farm near Wolf Creek about two blocks from an inhabited home.” Leonard’s son Kent Fuller of Eden still has the rug today.] According to the Ogden Newspaper, my sister-in-law Lois was once awakened while she was home alone. She heard the horses causing a commotion around the corral. To stop the noise, she took the thirty-thirty rifle, poked it out the window, and shot in the general direction of the corral. According to the newspaper, Jack went out the next morning and found a dead mountain lion, shot just below one ear; a magnificent shot from any direction or distance. Jack still had the lion’s hide years later as people told and retold the story. Marriner Eccles, who was the president of the Federal Reserve Board and a noted local Ogden banker, claims he was the first one to hear the story from Jack, and that it was verified by Lois. He was the one who called the newspapers about it. The story was known by Jack’s brothers, but they had their own versions of the facts. Also, all of Jack’s brothers are now gone except for this writer, and who can believe writers? It has been told that two of the leading citizens of Huntsville once went bear hunting to relieve the farmers of a grizzly that was killing their animals. Both men were supposedly “experts.” The problem was that they took a gun usually used for shooting buffalo, which wasn’t a repeating rifle. After scouring the hills and climbing up the south foothills, they found tracks where the bear had pulled a calf up a small knoll. As they were wondering what to do, they heard a growl. Lying under a bush was the bear eating the calf. Each man offered the gun to the other, both saying, “No, you’re a better shot than me. You shoot and I will go for help.” They both left for help and the bear was not killed that day. Bears have been a part of Huntsville and the surrounding mountains since before the white man or Indians. Grizzlies had roamed the mountains for centuries and were still there when the pioneers settled the valley. Trapping and getting rid of grizzly bears was necessary in order to keep farm animals, sheep, horses, or cattle. My father used to tell the story of a grizzly chasing a group of horses across the flat near Monte Cristo. The grizzly caught up with the horses, slammed its paw against one horse’s head, and broke its neck. To the cattlemen and sheepmen, trapping and getting rid of grizzly bears was essential to ranching in the mountains. It required two men to set the traps, which had huge metal jaws with metal teeth. Trapping bears was a basic part of Dad’s job as a foreman of Peeryland and Livestock. Once there was a bear that was causing damage to the herds. Dad set a trap and hung some meat in the tree above it. In order to get the meat, the bear would be forced to stand on its hind legs, making it easier for its foot to get caught in the trap. Some time after setting the traps, Dad and Vaun Downs went back to see if they had caught anything. The trap was set in a small group of trees and Curt, the eldest son and ten years old at the time, was running down the trail ahead of Dad and Vaun. Curt ran around the corner at the bottom of the hill where there was a trapped bear. As the bear lunged at Curt, he fell back, just barely out of reach of the giant claws. His hollers hurried Dad and Vaun. Dad took his thirty-thirty and emptied it into the bear, killing it. Dad’s concern with telling the story was that Mother wouldn’t let her boys go with him into the hills anymore. After World War II, four forest service workers, including Dad, were erecting a public outhouse in Snow Basin. The men were working near a picnic area and had just left their lunches out on the picnic tables. While they were digging, a black bear came rambling out of the quaking aspen and pine. Three of the men saw the bear, yelled for everyone to run, and got in the half-ton truck 50 feet away. Dad was left alone, digging in the trench. He saw the bear, and being very adept, climbed out of the hole, walked to the picnic table, and emptied everyone else’s lunch boxes out on the table. The bear stopped to eat while Dad took his own lunch to the truck. The other workers were upset that Dad had thrown their lunches to the bear and kept his own. His only comment was, “If you haven’t got enough sense to save your own food when a bear is after you, don’t expect me to do it.” The bears have long since gone from the mountains, except for Scare Canyon, which still has a bear or two. There are probably still a few bears spending time in Snow Basin; however, they are scarce and all the grizzly bears are completely gone. Note: This article is from “Grandpa’s Stories” by former Huntsville resident Sherm Hislop, and is being reprinted by permission. Historical Photo Historical photo taken in the center of Eden. Can you identify any of these Valley girls, or provide information regarding the event or year? Please contact Shanna or Jeannie if you can help (See contact info on page 2). Photo courtesy of Bette Fuller. The Ogden Valley News is looking for Ogden Valley and Ogden Canyon historical biographies, stories, and photos to use in its publication. Please mail, email, or call Shanna at 745-2688 or Jeannie at 745-2879 if you have material you would like to share.