National Geographic : 1908 May
HUNTING BEARS ON HORSEBACK prefer to go over the rimrock, when the dogs are after them, rather than tree. All our hunting was done in the na tional timber reserve just east of the Yellowstone Park, in Big Horn County, Wyoming. It is a high, rough, broken, mountain country, and we were hunting on the headwaters of the following creeks flowing into the north fork of the Shoshone River: Eagle, Kitty, Fish hawk, Sheep, East and West Black Water, Wapiti or Elk Fork, Gun Barrel or Gothic, Goff, and Clearwater-a coun try about twenty-five miles east and west and thirty-five miles north and south, which lies about fifty miles west of Cody, from which point we outfitted. All the game was killed south of the Shoshone River. In as rough a country as this is, it takes very good horse flesh to do the work, for the bear travels pretty fast, there is plenty of down timber in the valleys, and a great deal of hard climb ing. Mr Goff has a picked lot of horses, bigger than the usual western pony, and therefore up to their work, and all of his horses will either pack or ride; so that we were able to have four fresh horses a day and then not work a horse again for three or four days, as he had twenty-two horses in the outfit. I never could see how a horse could be as sure-footed or go in places these horses did, for in the course of bear hunting we crossed every divide from Eagle Creek to Elk Fork, six in number, pretty well up toward headwater and without a trail other than game trails, and only one horse went down on the trip, and that was in ford ing a deep stream. As an instance of their hardihood, we jumped one bear at ii a m., followed him on horseback until 5 p. m., a part of which time we lost the dogs and spent a couple of hours before we heard them again; finally got in coun try we could not ride, tied up the horses, who were soaking wet, went on for an hour on foot, and killed the bear at 6 p. m. By the time we had dressed him it began to get dark, with the result that we lost our horses, laid out all night on the top of a mountain, and in the morn ing, when we found the horses, none of them were stiff or sore, although there had been a hard frost in the night. The dogs of course deserve the chief credit. Goff has a splendid pack, which is thoroughly broken not to run deer, elk, or sheep. The hounds of course do the main work, from the time the bear track is picked up until the bear is jumped, but they are not keen to go in and fight, and unless you have something that will do this, and do it sufficiently vigorously to retard progress, there is not much chance of keeping up with them on horseback and getting a shot at the bear. This is where the fighting, pack becomes all important, and it is the most difficult thing to get a dog properly adapted to the work. He must be willing to run for an hour or so with the hounds, with only anticipation to help him along, until the bear is jumped. Then he must have not only pluck enough to go in and fight, but intelligence enough to know the only chance a dog has with a bear is to take an occasional nip, and then get out of the way; and, further, he must have sufficient size and bone to be able to keep up with the hounds over a big, rough country. We had almost everything in the pack: Mongrel bull terriers,, stag hounds (a cross between a stag hound and a bull terrier), an old English sheep dog (a cross between a fox terrier and a shepherd), who, by the way, was the greatest hunter and gamest dog I ever saw. He had had his thigh broken by a grizzly six months before, and while with us was bitten through the face, but, with only three legs, he was always at the head of the fighting pack. We had some Irish terriers and six Aire dales. The bull terriers go in and take hold and get killed. The stag hounds won't stay long with the hounds unless the bear is properly jumped. Only oc casionally will a mongrel develop the proper qualities. The Irish terriers are too small to properly run the country, but the big, sturdy Airedales are just 35'