Saturday, 23 August 2014

Bear Story - Dawson wanted this passed along.

Dawson heard about this bear at the MTC and wanted me to find out about it. He loves hunting and fishing, so he'll love the story. Sending it tomorrow to him.

Tale of Old Ephraim 
 The Great Grizzly of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest

     This is the story of a gigantic grizzly bear who roamed the Cache National Forest from 1911 until his death on August 22, 1923.
     In the early 1900s, bears were a problem for sheepherders. One grizzly in particular, nicknamed “Old Three Toes” because of a deformity on one foot, had developed quite a reputation. His unique foot made his tracks easy to identify. The bear wandered from Soda Springs, Idaho, as far south as Weber County and finally settled in Logan Canyon. He was named Old Ephraim after a grizzly in California described in a story by P.T. Barnum.
     Frank Clark was born in 1879 near Malad, Idaho, in a small town called Cherry Creek. He was an energetic man who loved nature and his trusty .25-35 caliber rifle. His sheep dog, Jennie, and several horses were his constant companions. He was part owner of the Ward Clark Sheep Company. In 1911 during his first summer in the Cache National Forest, he counted over 150 dead sheep. He worked herding sheep from 1911 to 1945, during this time he killed over 50 bears in his crusade to save the sheep, but the biggest culprit remained. Old Ephraim was the smartest, fastest, and strongest of them all. Clark became well acquainted with Old Ephraim’s habits over the years.
     By 1914, Clark had become more determined than ever to catch Old Ephraim. He set trap after trap in the grizzly’s favorite wallows, but every trap was removed, unsprung, or flung several yards away. Clark had tried every trick he could think of to get “Old Eph” in one of his traps, but was unsuccessful. The grizzly stayed close to the herd and left dead sheep as evidence. He was getting bolder and bolder and becoming more ruthless as the years passed.
     “On August 21, 1923, I visited the trap and Old Eph had drummed the wallow into a newly built one, so I carefully changed the trap to his newly built bath. I was camped one mile down the canyon in a tent. That night was a beautiful, starlit night and I was sleeping fine when I was awakened by a roar and a groan near camp. I had a dog, but not a sound came from Mr. Dog. I tried to get to sleep, but did not get the chance.
I heard a strange sound up the hollow. I got up and put on my shoes but no trousers. I did take my gun, a .25-35 caliber carbine with seven steel ball cartridges and walked up the trail. I did not know it was Old Eph. I thought it was a horse that was down. Eph was in the creek in some willows and after I got past him, he let me know all at once that it was not a horse. I was alone and the closest human being was three miles away, and now Eph was between me and camp.
     I listened and could hear the chain rattle and so did my teeth. I decided to get up on the hillside and wait for him. I spent many hours up there, although I had no way of knowing exactly how many as I listened to Eph’s groans and bellows. Daylight came at last and now was my chance.
Eph was pretty well-hidden in the creek bottom and willows, so I threw sticks in to scare him out. He slipped
out and went down by the tent and crawled into the willows there. I tracked him to that point and when I got close to the tent, I could see a small patch of hide. I fired at it and grazed the shoulder. Now it was time for me to have the greatest thrill of my life.
     Ephraim raised up on his hind legs with his back to me. He stood 9 feet, 11 inches tall and had a 14-foot-long log chain wound around his arm, as carefully as a man would have done it. He had a 23-pound bear trap on his foot. He could have gone that way and gotten away, but he turned around, and I saw the most magnificent sight that any man could ever see. I was paralyzed with fear and could not raise my gun.
He was coming, still on his hind legs, holding that cussed trap above his head. He had a 4-foot band to surmount before he could reach me. I was rooted to the earth and let him come within 6 feet of me before I stuck the gun out and pulled the trigger. He fell back, but came again and received five of the six remaining bullets. He had now reached the trail, still on his hind legs. I only had one cartridge left in the gun and still that bear would not go down.
     I started for Logan, 20 miles downhill. I went about 20 yards and turned. Eph was coming, still standing up, but my dog, Jennie, was snapping at his heels, so he turned on the dog. I then turned back, and as I got close, he turned again on me, wading along on his hind legs. I could see that he was badly hurt, as at each breath the blood would spurt from his nostrils, so I gave him the last bullet in the brain. I think I felt sorry that I had to do it.
     The horses had all been scared away and I was alone. I wanted to see someone badly and finally I found a horse down in a wash where the others had knocked it in their flight. I rode 3 miles to the camp of another herder and had a rest before returning to Eph. We buried Eph after skinning him. Boy Scout Troop No. 43 dug him up and sent his head to the Smithsonian Institute. I have a part of the hide, but souvenir hunters got everything else.
     I will now give you a few facts: Eph bit a six-inch aspen log off in one bite that was 9 feet, 11 inches above the ground. He also bit a 13-foot log that was 12 inches in diameter into 11 lengths, as if they had been chopped.”
     A bear like Old Ephraim could do serious damage to a herd of sheep, but this story is tragic because it ended the era of grizzly bears in this region. 

     During the actual confrontation, Clark probably did not have time to consider how he felt about killing Old Ephraim because the bear would have killed him. But according to Clark’s niece, Thelma Daniels, her uncle later spoke of his regret because the grizzly was such a magnificent animal. “If I had to do it over again,” he once said, “I wouldn’t do it.” Clark remained a bachelor all his life and died in 1960. (Researched by Newell J. Crookston, excerpts taken from the account of Frank Clark.)
     A few months after the kill, Logan scoutmaster George R. Hill, Jr., took his Boy Scout troop up the canyon to dig up the skull of the bear. Hill wanted to submit it to the Smithsonian to document that the bear was indeed a grizzly. The boys found the grave by following directions provided by Clark. They unearthed the skull and carried it out on the end of a long pole because “it stunk like mad,” said Hill.
The Smithsonian confirmed that the skull was that of a grizzly, and Hill said that his father’s troop received $25 for their effort. The skull remained in Washington, D.C. until 1978, when it came back to Utah to be displayed at Utah State University’s Merrill Library in the Reading Room of their Special Collections. The skull is on loan from the Smithsonian Institute.

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