Wednesday, October 12, 2011



Grandpa Lars Andrew Halverson story;
Grandpa and boys in Rag Town

 I loved to hear the bear stories my dad told about his father, my grandfather.  I had Grandpa Andrew Halverson pictured as a quite a pleasant farmer who worked very hard and loved his family.  The stories I heard made him seem quite fearless and a hero when I was just a boy. 

Grandpa and Dad  was on a wood cutting trip in the mountains above Mapleton, Utah.  While Grandpa was walking along a trail in heavy timber and brush up pops a bear, standing high on his hind feet the bear had been eating on something behind this bush.  “I don’t know who jumped the highest Dad or the bear,” Dad said with a chuckle.  Grandpa was carrying an ax, so, he took a great big swipe with it at the bears head at the same time the bear took a swipe at him.  There stood the bear.  There stood Grandpa, his ax flying away in the air.  Dad said, “I don’t know who ran the fastest the bear or Dad,” .

Grandpa was in Idaho near Ucon.  Grandpa had been cutting trees and hauling them to a small lumber mill to be cut up.  For the last few days a bear had been causing mischief.  He had been scaring the horses and at times into his food.  So, Grandpa set out a bear trap before going home that night.  Next morning there stood a very angry bear making all kinds of noise and tearing up the place.  The trap had caught him by three toes.  Grandpa stood and looked at the bear.  The bear quieted down some and looked at Grandpa.  Well, Grandpa decided enough was enough.  He killed it with a club.  He made a coat out of the bearskin.  The kids just loved that warm old coat. 

Mary Halvorsen Peterson’s Story; I loved my Aunt Mary, she was the first person that I ever knew that thought kids were people too.  I was so lonesome and she took the time to pay attention to me.  She helped me make a fishing pole out of a willow, found some string and a safety pin and helped me catch grasshoppers.  And off we went to catch some fish.  Quite a lady.  

Her nephew, Lionel Jensen tells this story about Aunt Mary and her bear.  Uncle James and the kids were off somewhere while Aunt Mary was lying down in her tent.  Well, here comes this big old bear walking through camp.  The bear for some reason backed up into the tent and just stood there rubbing his hind end on the tent.  This must have bothered Aunt Mary some because she began to look for some way to get rid of him.  She looked for her hat and found a hat-pin and stabbed the poor bear.  The bear knocked the tent down getting out of there.  It must have cured the itch because the bear never came back.    

Gene Halverson’s Story; David Thorne and I were young and single and looking for fun and adventure.  Yellowstone Park seemed like a good spot but it was quite late in the year probably September some time.  The place was deserted.  We seldom saw anybody.  I remember catching Lake trout form the shoreline of Lewis Lake but what I remember most was the man from California who stopped to cook his dinner.  The fire was much to big for cooking but he was determined to cook it and leave.  Who should show up at this time?  A bear who was even dumber than the cook.  It was quite a sight the Californian hiding in the car and the bear getting burned trying to get the steak out of the fire.  Every time the bear got burnt he would growl but eventually he got it.  Then it was too hot to eat and the bear was still angry.  Then the other two dummies, David and I chased the bear around, finally making him leave.

Dave and I then went up to Yellowstone Lake and camped at Grant’s Village.  It was colder here and there were hungry bears everywhere.  It was a bit colder here a skiff of snow had fallen on the ground.   The bears had been eating garbage all year from the garbage cans and the dump.  The bears hadn’t put on the necessary fat for hibernation and they were desperate.  A hungry bear makes him quite a bit bolder and more of a nuisance.  We had over a period of time encountered many bears and we were definitely not afraid of them.  One night we woke up to some kind of a commotion in the boat.  Here sat a great big bear sitting in the boat eating something we had left there.  I didn’t mind that but he shouldn’t have torn my new boat cover.  Another night we could see muddy bear paw marks on all the car doors.  He damaged one door handle and bent one mirror.  We even had bear paw prints on the trunk.  Must have been a bear with a lot of experience.  A real Yogi Bear.
In those days we always camped in a tent.  It was a 9X9 foot foul smelling canvas tent.  The water proofing used in those days was something else.  There were no zippers in those days, the door hinged at the top with canvas ties going down both sides and the bottom.  We knew better than to have food in the tent.  As usual we tried to stay warm sitting around a fire but with one side roasted and the other frozen it was time to go to bed.  We each had our own sleeping bag with a big warm quilt tossed over the two of us.  After making sure the door was all tied down we went to sleep.  About midnight we had a visit.  First he broke all the ties on the door.  It’s a wonder that he didn’t collapse the tent but we just kept snoozing away.  
Kankaroo Mouse

Then the rascal stole our nice warm quilt.  Then I guess he figured David would taste a little better than me, so, he grabbed David’s sleeping bag and off he went into the forest.  I woke up in time to see Dave sitting up in his sleeping bag scooting out into the night.  What woke me up was the,  “Aah, aah and ooh, ooh,”  that David was saying.  At first I just sat there for a second I might have even thought it was funny but not for long because in a second I was up and off to the rescue.  What a scene, Dave sitting up in his sleeping bag being pulled by the bear and me in my shorts running and screaming after them.  I guess the bear decided David wasn’t worth the bother and went on his way.  Next morning before breakfast we followed the bear tracks and eventually found our quilt, a little worse for wear but still usable.  I told Dave right then and there, “If the bear gets me some night I expect you to chase him away, no more “aahs and oohs” allowed.  We had chased a lot of bears out of camp that trip and had a great time.

The bears were always in the garbage cans and begging for food and I loved it.  At night time you could go to the garbage dump to watch the bears scavenging for food.  First you would see the black bears and then later a grizzly bear would come.  The blacks would give them plenty of room.  When the Park Service closed the garbage dumps it was hard for the bears to adjust and hundreds of them died in the next few years.  They never recovered and it’s very rare to see one there anymore. 

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 Lee and I used to hunt with a bow and arrow on the Manti LaSalle Mountains out of Blanding.  It was nothing to see several coyotes each day.  Bears and cougars were seen once in a while.  I chanced upon a feeding bear and off it went down the hill.  I heard that they killed their prey mostly by running them up hill.  I had been told, “If a bear gets after you run downhill and up a tree.”  Wrong on both counts.  That was the fastest thing next to a cougar I had ever seen.  It had been raining all day yet he was throwing dust as he was spinning his wheels on the way down Dark Canyon.  The ground was wet about four inches down.  He almost ran over my brother, Lee.  There were so many predators there that the deer were almost completely killed off the whole mountain. 

The Muddy is a very remote area on the southern end of the Manti Mountains, setting over the town of Emery but not accessible from there, it’s only accessed from the top of the mountain at Skyline Drive. Lee and I climbed near the top of the White Mountain starting long before daylight.  Lee was sitting on large rock above a meadow when who should appear, a very large bear.  Coming straight for Lee’s rock.  Lee froze, the bear stopped about 4 or 5 feet from Lee and stood right up on his hind legs and looked right at Lee.  But he for some reason didn’t see him.  Lee said it took forever for that darn bear to get down and move away. 

My last hunt on the Muddy was for elk.  It was just before I got too crippled up to hunt.  I was camped alone in a very good area.  I had just finished warming up a pot roast dinner and began eating.  Just over the hill came the sounds of cow elk.   They were quite vocal and I could tell that they were quite disturbed.  I quickly finished my meal and gathered my bow and arrows, I had about two hour’s daylight.  The wind was just right blowing from them to me.  All my primeval instincts were aroused, what a wonderful feeling.  I softly walked over a small hill down a deer trail toward a meadow.  I was expecting to see elk but saw nothing.  So, I looked with my glasses at the next set of trees and found a bear.  What a magnificent animal he was.  His fur was silky and for some reason he picked me up and was soon gone in an instant.  These bears are truly wild and are quite different from the Yellowstone garbage fed bears we toyed with many years ago.   

watching Bill
 We all have seen many bears and cougars down there.  Once I had a cougar sitting on a limb just above me ready to spring.  I saw him first and was stalking him but now he was after me.  He jumped clear over the top of me and was away in the blink of an eye.  I have had other encounters with the cougars but not as interesting as my brother-in-law, Billy Houghton who had one creep right up to him while he was sleeping.  The lion’s ears were laid back and crept within jumping distance.  Bill just sat there looking at him and wondering what to do.  The cougar retreated but came back after Bill three more times, so Bill would shoot an arrow at him.  But the cougar dodged each arrow with ease.  Now he had no more arrows.  Well, obviously he didn’t kill Bill so we asked for the rest of the story.  “Oh, I picked up this big club and scared him away.  Well that sure cured him of sleeping on the mountain.  We have all seen bobcats with kittens, lions with cubs and coyotes with their young.  While calling a turkey once I had a coyote come right up to me and he barked and barked at me.  What wonderful pictures I would have had if I had a camera instead of a weapon.  I used nothing but primitive weapons so I did have to get close.  

Getting close
To see any of God’s creatures from the large to the small is a wonderful experience.  Sometimes I learn something from watching the rodents, even insects and bugs. 
One day I watched the fight between the black hawk wasp and the tarantula was very interesting.  The wasp had him on the run.  The wasp was just a little thing compared to the tarantula but after a few stings the big old spider just laid down and dies.  The wasp then lays her eggs in the body for her young to hatch and eat.
If you can sit quiet and just look you will be rewarded in some way. 

Have you ever sat in a campground and had a squirrel or chipmunk come up and look you over?  I have and it wasn’t long before I was offering food.  It wasn’t long before we were the best of friends.  They were eating out of my hands and I was talking to them.  
Birds are the same way but maybe a little more skittish.  The biggest problem is giving them something they want. Talking helps and sometimes they will be called out of a bush by “Phishing”.  Saying softly phish-phish-phish.  Sometime imitating their call, chirp or squawk will arouse the trust or curiosity too.  I am now in a world with just him and I.  I love that feeling. 

I’ve had Pine Martin. Wolverines, bear, lions come up on me or I on them where we look at each other and go our separate ways.  There are times when neither wants to leave. 
The “Muddy” was a wild inaccessible wilderness on the south Manti.  A long drive over the mountain from May Field and all the canyons draining into Emery County.  but it was almost impossible to access the mountain from that side.  My camp was in a beautiful Quaken Aspen forest with pine trees just off the road and near a creek.  A stream full of hungry fish.  A place with lots of deer and elk who warily keep an eye out for the lions and bears. 

Walking with the Elk. Is an all day job.  It takes a lot of patents.  You have to find them and follow at a distance they feel safe with you.  When you get close without alarming them they seem to forget you.  If you are lucky you’ll find elk feeding along or just looking at you.  Small calves are playing and running around you.  A cow may come to sniff at you.  As they feed away you can walk with them.  But something or other will eventually spook them and your day is done.   Being with the animals, learning and respecting them is more satisfying than anything I have ever done.

As I came through the trees I could see these small earless rabbits “a Pika” watching me.  One chirp and they were gone and I was waiting and watching for them.  Their home was a boulder field high above timber line.  Their food is grass that they were cutting and drying for winter.  I may have tossed a fly in Mohawk Lake but most of my time was spent making friends. 

The trail to Mohawk was where we found the “Pine Martens”.  Were they there to eat my friends??  This was also where a “Wolverine” came marching by.  He came close, looked at me and went on his way.  I loved it here.  The Pika were always here and hoped for the others. 

Black Rock sat on a pass overlooking the valley.  It was a short walk from my house to it.  It was the home of a “Blue Tail Skink”.  They are long and skinny lizards with a blue tail as long as their body.  Kind of like a snake with legs.  They live under rocks or burrowing in the earth eating bugs.  They are now extinct.  A “Giant Shovel” picked them up and carried them away.  

Long and skinny and vicious.  Here was a pure white ermine looking me.  So I tried to catch him.  I was skiing when I landed in several feet of snow.  Up he pops right under my nose so I grabbed for him but he was gone.  I grabbed for him several more times and he kept teasing me.  I was close enough to see the twinkle in his eyes.  

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