In His Own Words: Hunting a Grizzly

Dec 13, 2013

In the fall of 1884, Theodore Roosevelt went on a hunting trip to the Bighorn mountains. Although the intention was to bag an elk, he ended up shooting a grizzly bear, which he describes in a letter to his sister, Anna. This episode is described in more detail in his book, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.

“I shall not soon forget the first one I killed. We had found where he had been feeding on the carcass of an elk; and followed his trail into a dense pine forest, fairly choked with fallen timber. While noiselessly and slowly threading our way through the thickest part of it I saw Merrifield, who was directly ahead of me, sink suddenly to his knees and turn half round, his face fairly ablaze with excitement. Cocking my rifle and stepping quickly forward, I found myself face to face with the great bear, who was less than twenty five feet off—not eight steps. He had been roused from his sleep by our approach; he sat up in his lair, and turned his huge head slowly towards us. At that distance and in such a place it was very necessary to kill or disable him at the first fire; doubtless my face was pretty white, but the blue barrel was as steady as a rock as I glanced along it until I could see the top of the bear fairly between his two sinister looking eyes; as I pulled the trigger I jumped aside out of the smoke, to be ready if he charged; but it was needless, for the great brute was struggling in the death agony, and, as you will see when I bring home his skin, the bullet hole in his skull was as exactly between his eyes as if I had measured the distance with a carpenters rule. This bear was nearly nine feet long and weighed over a thousand pounds. Each of my other bears, which were smaller, needed two bullets apiece; Merrifield killed each of his with a single shot.”

Posted by Grant Carlson on Dec 13, 2013 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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