THE BIOGRAPHY OF A GRIZZLY
THE BIOGRAPHY OF A GRIZZLY
The Trail of the Sandhill Stag
Wild Animals I Have Known
Art Anatomy of Animals
Mammals of Manitoba
Birds of Manitoba
This Book is dedicated to the memory of the days spent at the
Palette Ranch on the Graybull where from hunter miner personal
experience and the host himself I gathered many chapters of the
History of Wahb.
[Illustration: ] In this Book the designs for title-page cover and
general makeup were done by Mrs. Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson.
[Illustration: ] List of Full-Page Drawings
They all Rushed Under it like a Lot of Little Pigs
Like Children Playing 'Hands'
He Stayed in the Tree till near Morning
A Savage Bobcat ... Warned Him to go Back
Wahb Yelled and Jerked Back
He Struck one Fearful Crushing Blow
Ain't He an Awful Size Though?
Wahb Smashed His Skull
Causing the Pool to Overflow
He Deliberately Stood up on the Pine Root
The Roachback Fled into the Woods
He Paused a Moment at the Gate
THE CUBHOOD OF WAHB
He was born over a score of years ago away up in the wildest part of
the wild West on the head of the Little Piney above where the Palette
Ranch is now.
His Mother was just an ordinary Silvertip living the quiet life that
all Bears prefer minding her own business and doing her duty by her
family asking no favors of any one excepting to let her alone. It was
July before she took her remarkable family down the Little Piney to the
Graybull and showed them what strawberries were and where to find
Notwithstanding their Mother's deep conviction the cubs were not
remarkably big or bright; yet they were a remarkable family for there
were four of them and it is not often a Grizzly Mother can boast of
more than two.
The woolly-coated little creatures were having a fine time and reveled
in the lovely mountain summer and the abundance of good things. Their
Mother turned over each log and flat stone they came to and the moment
it was lifted they all rushed under it like a lot of little pigs to lick
up the ants and grubs there hidden.
It never once occurred to them that Mammy's strength might fail
sometime and let the great rock drop just as they got under it; nor
would any one have thought so that might have chanced to see that huge
arm and that shoulder sliding about under the great yellow robe she
wore. No no; that arm could never fail. The little ones were quite
right. So they hustled and tumbled one another at each fresh log in
their haste to be first and squealed little squeals and growled little
growls as if each was a pig a pup and a kitten all rolled into one.
They were well acquainted with the common little brown ants that harbor
under logs in the uplands but now they came for the first time on one
of the hills of the great fat luscious Wood-ant and they all crowded
around to lick up those that ran out. But they soon found that they were
licking up more cactus-prickles and sand than ants till their Mother
said in Grizzly "Let me show you how."
She knocked off the top of the hill then laid her great paw flat on it
for a few moments and as the angry ants swarmed on to it she licked
them up with one lick and got a good rich mouthful to crunch without a
grain of sand or a cactus-stinger in it. The cubs soon learned. Each
put up both his little brown paws so that there was a ring of paws all
around the ant-hill and there they sat like children playing 'hands'
and each licked first the right and then the left paw or one cuffed his
brother's ears for licking a paw that was not his own till the ant-hill
was cleared out and they were ready for a change.
Ants are sour food and made the Bears thirsty so the old one led down
to the river. After they had drunk as much as they wanted and dabbled
their feet they walked down the bank to a pool where the old one's
keen eye caught sight of a number of Buffalo-fish basking on the bottom.
The water was very low mere pebbly rapids between these deep holes so
Mammy said to the little ones:
"Now you all sit there on the bank and learn something new."
First she went to the lower end of the pool and stirred up a cloud of
mud which hung in the still water and sent a long tail floating like a
curtain over the rapids just below. Then she went quietly round by land
and sprang into the upper end of the pool with all the noise she could.
The fish had crowded to that end but this sudden attack sent them off
in a panic and they dashed blindly into the mud-cloud. Out of fifty
fish there is always a good chance of some being fools and half a dozen
of these dashed through the darkened water into the current and before
they knew it they were struggling over the shingly shallow. The old
Grizzly jerked them out to the bank and the little ones rushed noisily
on these funny short snakes that could not get away and gobbled and
gorged till their little bellies looked like balloons.
They had eaten so much now and the sun was so hot that all were quite
sleepy. So the Mother-bear led them to a quiet little nook and as soon
as she lay down though they were puffing with heat they all snuggled
around her and went to sleep with their little brown paws curled in
and their little black noses tucked into their wool as though it were a
very cold day.
After an hour or two they began to yawn and stretch themselves except
little Fuzz the smallest; she poked out her sharp nose for a moment
then snuggled back between her Mother's great arms for she was a
gentle petted little thing. The largest the one afterward known as
Wahb sprawled over on his back and began to worry a root that stuck up
grumbling to himself as he chewed it or slapped it with his paw for not
staying where he wanted it. Presently Mooney the mischief began
tugging at Frizzle's ears and got his own well boxed. They clenched for
a tussle; then locked in a tight little grizzly yellow ball they
sprawled over and over on the grass and before they knew it down a
bank and away out of sight toward the river.
Almost immediately there was an outcry of yells for help from the little
wrestlers. There could be no mistaking the real terror in their voices.
Some dreadful danger was threatening.
Up jumped the gentle Mother changed into a perfect demon and over the
bank in time to see a huge Range-bull make a deadly charge at what he
doubtless took for a yellow dog. In a moment all would have been over
with Frizzle for he had missed his footing on the bank; but there was a
thumping of heavy feet a roar that startled even the great Bull and
like a huge bounding ball of yellow fur Mother Grizzly was upon him.
Him! the monarch of the herd the master of all these plains what had
he to fear? He bellowed his deep war-cry and charged to pin the old one
to the bank; but as he bent to tear her with his shining horns she
dealt him a stunning blow and before he could recover she was on his
shoulders raking the flesh from his ribs with sweep after sweep of her
The Bull roared with rage and plunged and reared dragging Mother
Grizzly with him; then as he hurled heavily off the slope she let go
to save herself and the Bull rolled down into the river.
This was a lucky thing for him for the Grizzly did not want to follow
him there; so he waded out on the other side and bellowing with
fury and pain slunk off to join the herd to which he belonged.
[Illustration: desc. Mountain peaks]
Old Colonel Pickett the cattle king was out riding the range. The
night before he had seen the new moon descending over the white cone of
"I saw the last moon over Frank's Peak" said he "and the luck was
against me for a month; now I reckon it's my turn."
Next morning his luck began. A letter came from Washington granting his
request that a post-office be established at his ranch and contained
the polite inquiry "What name do you suggest for the new post-office?"
The Colonel took down his new rifle a 45-90 repeater. "May as well"
he said; "this is my month"; and he rode up the Graybull to see how the
cattle were doing.
As he passed under the Rimrock Mountain he heard a far-away roaring as
of Bulls fighting but thought nothing of it till he rounded the point
and saw on the flat below a lot of his cattle pawing the dust and
bellowing as they always do when they smell the blood of one of their
number. He soon saw that the great Bull 'the boss of the bunch' was
covered with blood. His back and sides were torn as by a Mountain-lion
and his head was battered as by another Bull.
"Grizzly" growled the Colonel for he knew the mountains. He quickly
noted the general direction of the Bull's back trail then rode toward a
high bank that offered a view. This was across the gravelly ford of the
Graybull near the mouth of the Piney. His horse splashed through the
cold water and began jerkily to climb the other bank.
As soon as the rider's head rose above the bank his hand grabbed the
rifle for there in full sight were five Grizzly Bears an old one and
four cubs. "Run for the woods" growled the Mother Grizzly for she knew
that men carried guns. Not that she feared for herself; but the idea of
such things among her darlings was too horrible to think of. She set off
to guide them to the timber-tangle on the Lower Piney. But an awful
murderous fusillade began.
_Bang_! and Mother Grizzly felt a deadly pang.
_Bang_! and poor little Fuzz rolled over with a scream of pain and lay
With a roar of hate and fury Mother Grizzly turned to attack the enemy.
_Bang_! and she fell paralyzed and dying with a high shoulder shot. And
the three little cubs not knowing what to do ran back to their Mother.
_Bang! bang_! and Mooney and Frizzle sank in dying agonies beside her
and Wahb terrified and stupefied ran in a circle about them. Then
hardly knowing why he turned and dashed into the timber-tangle and
disappeared as a last _bang_ left him with a stinging pain and a
useless broken hind paw.
* * * * *
That is why the post-office was called Four-Bears. The Colonel seemed
pleased with what he had done; indeed he told of it himself.
But away up in the woods of Anderson's Peak that night a little lame
Grizzly might have been seen wandering limping along leaving a
bloody spot each time he tried to set down his hind paw; whining and
whimpering "Mother! Mother! Oh Mother where are you?" for he was cold
and hungry and had such a pain in his foot. But there was no Mother
to come to him and he dared not go back where he had left her so he
wandered aimlessly about among the pines.
[Illustration: description: bear paw prints]
Then he smelled some strange animal smell and heard heavy footsteps;
and not knowing what else to do he climbed a tree. Presently a band of
great long-necked slim-legged animals taller than his Mother came by
under the tree. He had seen such once before and had not been afraid of
them then because he had been with his Mother. But now he kept very
quiet in the tree and the big creatures stopped picking the grass when
they were near him and blowing their noses ran out of sight.
He stayed in the tree till near morning and then he was so stiff with
cold that he could scarcely get down. But the warm sun came up and he
felt better as he sought about for berries and ants for he was very
hungry. Then he went back to the Piney and put his wounded foot in the
He wanted to get back to the mountains again but still he felt he must
go to where he had left his Mother and brothers. When the afternoon grew
warm he went limping down the stream through the timber and down on
the banks of the Graybull till he came to the place where yesterday they
had had the fish-feast; and he eagerly crunched the heads and remains
that he found. But there was an odd and horrid smell on the wind. It
frightened him and as he went down to where he last had seen his Mother
the smell grew worse. He peeped out cautiously at the place and saw
there a lot of Coyotes tearing at something. What it was he did not
know; but he saw no Mother and the smell that sickened and terrified
him was worse than ever so he quietly turned back toward the
timber-tangle of the Lower Piney and nevermore came back to look for
his lost family. He wanted his Mother as much as ever but something
told him it was no use.
As cold night came down he missed her more and more again and he
whimpered as he limped along a miserable lonely little motherless
Bear--not lost in the mountains for he had no home to seek but so
sick and lonely and with such a pain in his foot and in his stomach a
craving for the drink that would nevermore be his. That night he found a
hollow log and crawling in he tried to dream that his Mother's great
furry arms were around him and he snuffled himself to sleep.
Wahb had always been a gloomy little Bear; and the string of misfortunes
that came on him just as his mind was forming made him more than ever
sullen and morose. It seemed as though every one were against him. He
tried to keep out of sight in the upper woods of the Piney seeking his
food by day and resting at night in the hollow log. But one evening
he found it occupied by a Porcupine as big as himself and as bad as a
cactus-bush. Wahb could do nothing with him. He had to give up the log
and seek another nest.
One day he went down on the Graybull flat to dig some roots that his
Mother had taught him were good. But before he had well begun a
grayish-looking animal came out of a hole in the ground and rushed at
him hissing and growling. Wahb did not know it was a Badger but he saw
it was a fierce animal as big as himself. He was sick and lame too
so he limped away and never stopped till he was on a ridge in the next
canon. Here a Coyote saw him and came bounding after him calling at
the same time to another to come and join the fun. Wahb was near a
tree so he scrambled up to the branches. The Coyotes came bounding and
yelping below but their noses told them that this was a young Grizzly
they had chased and they soon decided that a young Grizzly in a tree
means a Mother Grizzly not far away and they had better let him alone.
After they had sneaked off Wahb came down and returned to the Piney.
There was better feeding on the Graybull but every one seemed against
him there now that his loving guardian was gone while on the Piney he
had peace at least sometimes and there were plenty of trees that he
could climb when an enemy came.
His broken foot was a long time in healing; indeed it never got
quite well. The wound healed and the soreness wore off but it left a
stiffness that gave him a slight limp and the sole-balls grew together
quite unlike those of the other foot. It particularly annoyed him when
he had to climb a tree or run fast from his enemies; and of them he
found no end though never once did a friend cross his path. When he
lost his Mother he lost his best and only friend. She would have taught
him much that he had to learn by bitter experience and would have saved
him from most of the ills that befell him in his cubhood--ills so many
and so dire that but for his native sturdiness he never could have
passed through alive.
The pinons bore plentifully that year and the winds began to shower
down the ripe rich nuts. Life was becoming a little easier for Wahb. He
was gaining in health and strength and the creatures he daily met now
let him alone. But as he feasted on the pinons one morning after a gale
a great Black-bear came marching down the hill. 'No one meets a friend
in the woods' was a byword that Wahb had learned already. He swung up
the nearest tree. At first the Black-bear was scared for he smelled the
smell of Grizzly; but when he saw it was only a cub he took courage and
came growling at Wahb. He could climb as well as the little Grizzly or
better and high as Wahb went the Blackbear followed and when
Wahb got out on the smallest and highest twig that would carry him the
Blackbear cruelly shook him off so that he was thrown to the ground
bruised and shaken and half-stunned. He limped away moaning and the
only thing that kept the Blackbear from following him up and perhaps
killing him was the fear that the old Grizzly might be about. So Wahb
was driven away down the creek from all the good pinon woods.
There was not much food on the Graybull now. The berries were nearly all
gone; there were no fish or ants to get and Wahb hurt lonely
and miserable wandered on and on till he was away down toward the
Meteetsee. A Coyote came bounding and barking through the sage-brush
after him. Wahb tried to run but it was no use; the Coyote was soon up
with him. Then with a sudden rush of desperate courage Wahb turned and
charged his foe. The astonished Coyote gave a scared yowl or two and
fled with his tail between his legs. Thus Wahb learned that war is the
price of peace.
But the forage was poor here; there were too many cattle; and Wahb was
making for a far-away pinon woods in the Meteetsee Canon when he saw a
man just like the one he had seen on that day of sorrow. At the same
moment he heard a _bang_ and some sage-brush rattled and fell just over
his back. All the dreadful smells and dangers of that day came back to
his memory and Wahb ran as he never had run before.
He soon got into a gully and followed it into the canon. An opening
between two cliffs seemed to offer shelter but as he ran toward it a
Range-cow came trotting between shaking her head at him and snorting
threats against his life.
He leaped aside upon a long log that led up a bank but at once a savage
Bobcat appeared on the other end and warned him to go back. It was no
time to quarrel. Bitterly Wahb felt that the world was full of enemies.
But he turned and scrambled up a rocky bank into the pinon woods that
border the benches of the Meteetsee.
The Pine Squirrels seemed to resent his coming and barked furiously.
They were thinking about their pinon-nuts. They knew that this Bear was
coming to steal their provisions and they followed him overhead to
scold and abuse him with such an outcry that an enemy might have
followed him by their noise which was exactly what they intended.
There was no one following but it made Wahb uneasy and nervous. So he
kept on till he reached the timber line where both food and foes were
scarce and here on the edge of the Mountain-sheep land at last he got a
chance to rest.
Wahb never was sweet-tempered like his baby sister and the persecutions
by his numerous foes were making him more and more sour. Why could not
they let him alone in his misery? Why was every one against him? If only
he had his Mother back! If he could only have killed that Black-bear
that had driven him from his woods! It did not occur to him that some
day he himself would be big. And that spiteful Bobcat that took
advantage of him; and the man that had tried to kill him. He did not
forget any of them and he hated them all.
Wahb found his new range fairly good because it was a good nut year. He
learned just what the Squirrels feared he would for his nose directed
him to the little granaries where they had stored up great quantities
of nuts for winter's use. It was hard on the Squirrels but it was good
luck for Wahb for the nuts were delicious food. And when the days
shortened and the nights began to be frosty he had grown fat and
He traveled over all parts of the canon now living mostly in the higher
woods but coming down at times to forage almost as far as the river.
One night as he wandered by the deep-water a peculiar smell reached his
nose. It was quite pleasant so he followed it up to the water's edge.