Thursday, September 29, 2011

BINGHAM A BEAR STORY by EUGENE

Bears and more Bears
By Eugene Halverson
Keith Webb--Levi Bullard--Gene--Nuffy going to Donkey Lake
As I wandered here and there in the high mountains above Bear and Galena Gulch above Bingham, even those above Butterfield, Middle Canyon, Markham and Dry Fork, I was always looking for new animals and birds.  I was twelve years old and wasted my hard earned money to join the Audubon Society to get their bird pictures, but the birds I found were quite different from their pictures. 
Bingham 1903
There were a few lions, bobcats and coyotes but all the bears had been killed years before my time.  It was legal to shoot any and all of these poor animals back then.  In 1903, Edla Antbrams in her story in “No fa ja te America!”  tells us about mountain lions and bears in Bingham. 
The boardinghouse was located in the canyon between the mountains and to reach the city itself, you had to walk through the mountain.  On the road to and from the dances the girls were afraid to be attacked by mountain lions.  If you run into one you were supposed to stare them straight in the eyes, and they would leave you alone.  It would stay still or run away.  Edla was told that mountain lions had attacked some from behind and killed them.  Something else you could do on your free time was going on hikes and picnics.  Up between the mountains was an open, beautiful place where youngsters used to have their picnics. .
Muddy  Manti Forest
Emil Backlund and the other men from Esse, Herman Warn and Ant Jansson were not satisfied with slaving down in the mines in Bingham.  They were dreaming of owning their own mine.  During weekends they did prospecting up in the mountains.  Northwest of Bingham there was a place that contained silver and they made a claim to that.  Together with the men from Esse, Pi Soderlund, Fred Andersson, and Jonas Jakobsson they started to work the claim in their spare time.  The problem was that it was so far away and there was no water or electricity.   In order to keep the claim they had to dig at least 10 meters a year.  But without equipment the men really had to work hard during the weekends.  For some time the men from Esse slept on pine tree branches and under the open sky, but later they purchased a tent.   During the nights they always kept a gun or an ax close to the bed because there were bears and rattlesnakes.  One night when Jansson went over to another claim to borrow some light, he met a bear.  Jansson rushed down the mountain to Bingham.  Only the next morning did he dare come back up the mountain. 
David Thorne
Cooked in tin-foil in ashes
I remember the time Gene and I went fishing in Yellowstone Park in the fall.  At that time of the season, there were very few people in the park and the scavenging bears were hungry.  One night I was sleeping soundly when a black bear started tugging on my sleeping bag and pulling me with me in it, out of the tent.  At first I thought it was Gene trying to wake me up early to go fishing, as was his custom.   When I realized it was a bear, I let out a blood curling scream and the bear bounded off (with Gene chasing).   Later that morning, out in the woods, we found the blanket , that had been over the foot of my sleeping bag with big rips in it.(tents in those days had ties, no zippers then) He must have made a lot of noise and almost tore the tent down.  They were canvas ties and almost impossible to break, yet he broke every tie across the bottom and one side, David’s side.  Probably why he was who was dragged away.)

Billy Houghton, Oh! You should the one I just saw.  A deer, did you shoot?  Nope, well I wasn’t ready.  You were asleep.  No, not really.  Where was your bow?  OH, just lying there.  Billy loved to hunt but he was always sleepy.  In camp he would fall asleep playing “Dice”, dice in his hand ready to shake and his eyes would close. 
Today he came back with a real whooper of a tail.  I was watching this trail and when all of a sudden,  there was this cougar just standing and watching me, eight feet away, his ears was laid back and he started to crouch, I thought I was a goner, I didn’t know what to do.  So, I reached down and picked up my bow and then an arrow, he didn’t like that.  I pulled back and shot, he jumped over the arrow, missed him, and he was gone.  Before I could stand up he came back in another direction, so, I shot at him again.  The arrow seemed to wait for him to jump over it and ran back in the trees.  He was back behind me now and I could not find my quiver.  God, I was really scarred then when he started walking, ears laid back and just beginning to crouch down but still walking.  We asked him if he got killed and he did not think that was funny.  As I was feeling for my quiver, I found a three foot club, and as soon as I jumped up he ran away and did not come back.  (I wasn’t the club that chased him away; it was when he discovered Billy was bigger than he was)  David Thorne and I chased many a bear away doing that.
Billy was sitting in this tree watching another trail.  This time a Great Horned Owl hit his fur cap and knocked he right out of the tree.  He hates owl now.  (a Forest Service Warden walking a trail was killed when a Horned Owl’s claws entered his temple.)
Pine Martin


I loved Yellowstone in those days.  Bears were mooching food in every garbage can and every campground.  Cars were always stopping to feed the bears and taking pictures.  It was the best wildlife park anywhere.  Every night we took a trip to the garbage dump.  There were bears and more bears and it was fun watch them tearing big holes and eating what they found.  But as many as they were they did not seem to hurt anyone, scare them, Yes, hurt then NO.  It seem like bears are always hungry and searching for food and leave food laying around the camps and in the tent.  They are just asking for trouble.  It really is too hard to leave it in the car or hoist it up a tree, just do whatever you can.  A real problem for bears and people is caused by the Bear Hunting Guides who leaves food all summer long so their client can shoot the dumb thing.   I remember seeing bacon hanging here and there on many trees to bring them into the big feast is waiting.
Grizzly

Then the Grizzle Bears came, off and out of the way the brown bears scampered.  They looked and were mean.  Then some high muck-it-y-muck said this is not good and closed all the dumps, wrote tickets like crazy.  Then the bears starved to death by the thousands.  Now if you want to see a bear, you get up early in the morning and start driving.  Now I can find more bears here in Utah than Yellowstone. I have over the years got quite close, maybe even too close to quite a few bears in the Uinta and Manti Forests. 
It seems like every bear I seen almost run over the top of my brother, Lee.  It had rained for two days down on Elk Ridge and yet Lee could see dust raising from the tracks and seen dry ground where his claws tore the ground up. 

It was still quite dark if it wasn’t for the smell Lee would not have noticed the dead cow and that something had been eating on it.  He walked a little farther and found a large rock to sit on.  Something big and brown was coming through the trees, maybe an elk. No, it was a big brown bear; he stopped to sniff and then ran right up to the rock.   Bears have poor eyesight but a wonderful nose.  He knew Lee was there but he must not have known where.  But Lee never thought the stupid bear would rise up on his hind legs and mover closer still.  There he stood just four or five feet away, sniffing.  He stood seven feet high and his head was as high as Lee’s.  Lee sat quite as a mouse.  He could see the new fur was growing through the old dark fur, an old bear but not very pretty and he was very close.  The bear would look at Lee then away, then back to Lee a few more times and then he finally just turned and slowly walked away.
MUDDY  on the Manti
I loved Mohawk Lake, it was mostly above “Timber line” just rocks and more rocks, some as big as a house.  Pica lived in these rocks and if you could be patient  and be quite you could see and hear them with a mouth full of grass scurrying here and there preparing for winter.  They were so cute and quite tame.  They look like a small tan rabbit with short ears and usually sat with their front paws holding the grass as they chewed on it.  The Pine Martine was their only enemy and maybe if you were lucky you could see one of them too. 

 I saw a Wolverine, a Pika, a Pine Martin at Mohawk Lake
I smiled when I heard their shrill scream, but it was not me they were screaming about.  I was close but not close enough to tell what was wrong.  Then there it was the strangest animal I had ever seen.  He saw me and just wandered away, he just ignored me like I was nothing to worry about.   

I looked at hundreds of pictures and described it to everyone I knew, even the Fish and Game and Forest Service, and that was a waste of time.  Then 10 years later someone near Randolph  took a picture and put it in the newspaper.  It was a Wolverine! They said it was the first ever sighting of a Wolverine in Utah.
Once on the Muddy, near timberline, I looked up on the branch just above be and looked eye-to-eye with a cougar, ears laid back and just looking.  I needed a camera not a bow and arrow.  The other mountain lions were farther out and running away.  Boy, they can sure run, faster than a deer I know. 
Two Grizzle Bears
Well they killed them all off and will not allow the wolf to come to Utah, shame-shame.
Pika
Frank Clark shot Old Ephraim in the head on 22 August 1923 with a .25-35 carbine rifle with seven rounds. It reportedly took all seven rounds to kill the bear. Clark described killing Old Ephraim as "the hardest of them [the bears] all". Clark planned to kill the bear in 1914, but did not succeed until 1923. On the night of 21 August, he woke to "a roar and groan", and took his gun to investigate. At this time, Clark says he was unaware it was Old Ephraim. After several unsuccessful shots, Clark finally found the bear, which had been caught in a trap Clark set earlier. Even after he used six of his seven rounds, the bear did not go down and shot Old Ephraim in the head. Clark would express remorse for having to do it. "Eph" bit a 6-inch , aspen log off in one bite, that was 9 feet, 11 inches above the ground. He also bit a 13-foot log, 12 inches in diameter, into eleven length, as if they had been chopped.  At the time of his death, Old Ephraim stood 10 feet tall and weighed 1,100 pounds.  And later his mate was also killed. 
Trevor waiting for a deer
Ermine
A giant Grizzle roamed the Boulder Mountain, killing cattle and sheep. He would range clear across the mountain from Boulder to Coyote (Antimony).  In April of 1919, the snow was three or four feet deep, when the bear arrived he killed five steers and a burrow with a bell on.  Claud Vee Baker took hounds and went to chase the bear.   When he got on to the mountain, the snow was so crusted the horses could walk on the snow, but the bear was too heavy.  He kept breaking through.  In spite of this he got away.  He went all around the mountain, but was finally killed by Rube and Charley Riddle near Coyote, Utah.  The bear weighed 2,200 pounds and was 20 inches between the ears.  He made a trip around the Boulder Mountain every 30 days.  One foray, he killed a five year old steer of Johnny Kings.

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