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Alaska's Big Bears

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Atravelerwho recently returned from Jdaska says: "The Alaskan brown bear Is a huge, shaggy animal, varying in length from 6 to 12 f eet and weighing from 800 to 1,500 pounds. I found him to be an expert fisher, and during the salruou season he f requents all the rivers emptying into the Bering sea and the north Pacific and their ti-ibntaries as f ar as the fish go. Af ter the salmón run is over the animal retreats into the recesses of the hills, where berries and small game are plentifuL Among other things he does besides fishing and occasionally chewing up a hunter, he is a greatroadmaker for this part of Alaska. Nor only are the banks of the streams trodden into good trails by these huge lumbering beasts, but the swampy plains are crossad in every direction bypaths leading to the hills. The traveler will do well to follow them in journeying across the 3ountry, as they invariably lead to the best feeding places along the stream and form the best routes to the hills. " A hunter who has spent eome time there recently chasing brown bears writes several of his experiences to the Seattle Telegraph. "My first encounter, " he says, "with one of these brown bears was a startling experience for me, and I have always thought equally so for the bear. We had been working up against a strong current of the Koowak river all day, and toward nightfall pitched our tent at the base of a high bluff forming the right bank of the stream. While supper was being prepared I climbed the bluff to get a look at the country and was walking along with my gun carelessly held in my left haud. The top of the bluff was densely covered alrnost to the edge with spruce and alders, and the undergrowth was so thick that it was impossible to see more than a few feet through it. Ahead of me a cluster of rocks offered a temporary place to sit down and enjoy the view, and I made for it. Just as I reached the nearest rock a tremendous shaggy animal aróse apparently from under my feet, and I immediately recognized in him the brown bear of whose fierceness the natives had been telling me for weeks. My first instinct was to shoot, and I probably would have done so had my gun been in my right hand, but the first motion I made the bear reared on his haunches and was so formidable looking that I coccluded to wait and see what he intended doing. Af ter a moment 's hesitation, during which he turned his head from side to side and licked his chops in a most suggestive fashron, he dropped on allfours, and with wooderful quickness turned and sprang out of sight in the dense undergrowth. When I returned to camp and related my experience, Tah-tah-rok, my native guide, assurcd me that the bear must recently have concluded a heavy meal, or otherwise he would have attacked me. "Sonie officers from some of the vessels of the Bering sea fleet went ashore at Herendeen bay during the summer of 1891 on a deer hunt, and one of the party saw a bear about 1 00 yards distant eating berries. Without thought of the consequences, he raised his gun andfired at the animal. "The shot went wido of the mark, bat at the report of the gun the bear started for the hunter on a dead run. His charge was met with a shower of bullets from the officer's repeater; but, althongh badly wounded, the infuriated animal did not hesitate an instant and rnshed straight at his euemy. When within about 10 feet of the hnr.ter, the bear rose on his haunches and prepared to close. Blood was pouring in streams down his body. One bullot had shattered his upper jaw, bnt hewassofnllof flght that the final ontcomo of the struggle would have been extremoly doubtful had üot another of the party arrived and ended the fight by shouting the brute through the bram. Au examinatiou of I the bear's bodyshowed that he had been stitick six times. Three of the shots Were in porta of the bodyordinaiilyeonaidered vital and would douBtléss have c;au;-e.l death, but the vitality of these air.Bials is almost incredible. Instaures nrbüitedof their running over 100 yards after being shot through the heart. "Last summer, while I was at Sand Poiut, two huuters canie in, after an absence of over a month in the vicinity of Port. .p bay, and reported having killed ; :; bfeaís. One day they killed seven. In order to show that they were not spinI uing hunters' yarns they brought the skins with them, and sold them at a trading post at Sand Poiut. Dnving the summer of 1891 two prospectovs were looking for ooal lands near Port Moller, and about a mile from the shore thny came upon an immense brown bear ragaged in catohing salmón in sniull streiuu. One of the prospectors immediately opcned fire, and evidently wounded the brute badly, but he got out of sight in the thick brush. Being anxious to secure the skin the two men started to follow the wounded animal. They had not gone a dozen steps before the enraged and wounded brute tumed on them, and before either one could fire a shot he seized one man by the leg and I bit it nearly off, and then sprang npon his companion and knocked him senseless with the blow of his terrible paw. Having, as hö thonght, fluished his enemies, the bear qmeTly ambled off, and was subsequently found dcad a fewhundred yards from the scène of battle. "


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News