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Teddy Roosevelt talks about bears

India brotherbear Offline
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#1

American Bears - Selections of the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
The naturalist John Burroughs said of his friend Theodore Roosevelt: "Roosevelt was a many-sided man and every side was like an electric battery. Such versatility, such vitality, such thoroughness, such copiousness, have rarely been united in one man." 
Bears, especially grizzlies, were one important element of what he sought in the West. His quest was one of self-assertion, a devotion to what one historian called a "cult of manliness." The cult was a matter of pride, of establishing through personal energy and labor one's standing, not just among cowboys or bears, but in society as well. 
- There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid at first, ranging from grizzly bears to "mean" horses to gunfighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid -
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India brotherbear Offline
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#2

American Bears - Selections from the writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
The Black Bear - Next to the whitetail deer the black bear is the commonest and most widely distributed of American big game. It is still found quite plentifully in northern New England, in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and along the entire length of the Alleghanies, as well as in the swamps and canebreaks of the southern states. It is also common in the great forests of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and throughout the Rocky Mountains and the timbered ranges of the Pacific coast. In the East it has always ranked second only to the deer among the beasts of chase. The bear and the buck were the staple objects of pursuit of all the old hunters. They were more plentiful than the bison and elk even in the long vanished days when these two monarchs of the forest still ranged eastward to Virginia and Pennsylvania. The wolf and the cougar were always too scarce and too shy to yield much profit to the hunter. The black bear is a timid, cowardly animal, and usually a vegetarian, though it sometimes preys on the sheep, hogs, and even cattle of the settler, and is very fond of raiding his corn and melons. Its meat is good and its fur often valuable; and in its chase there is much excitement, and occasionally a slight spice of danger, just enough to render it attractive; so it has always been eagerly followed.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#3

American Bears - Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
Old Ephraim, The Grizzly Bear.
The king of the game beasts of temperate North America, because the most dangerous to the hunter, is the grizzly bear; known to the few remaining old-time trappers of the Rockies and the Great Plains, sometimes as "Old Ephraim" and sometimes as "Moccasin Joe" - the last in allusion to his queer, half-human footprints, which look as if made by some misshapen giant, walking in moccasins. 
In the old days when the innumerable bison grazed on the prairie, the grizzly sometimes harassed their bands as it now does the herds of the ranchman. The bison was the most easily approached of all game, and the great bear could often get near some outlying straggler, in its quest after stray cows, yearlings, or calves. In default of a favorable chance to make a prey of one of these weaker members of the herds, it did not hesitate to attack the mighty bulls themselves; and perhaps the grandest sight which it was ever the good fortune of the early hunters to witness, was one of these rare battles between a hungry grizzly and a powerful buffalo bull.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#4

Continued from post #3... At present the wapiti is of all wild game that which is most likely to fall a victim to the grizzly, when the big bear is in the mood to turn hunter. Wapiti are found in the same places as the grizzly, and in some spots they are yet very plentiful; they are less shy and active than deer, while not powerful enough to beat off so ponderous a foe; and they live in cover where there is always a good chance either to stalk or to stumble on them. At almost any season bear will come and feast on an elk carcass; and if the food supply runs short, in early spring, or in a fall when the berry crop fails, they sometimes have to do their own killing. Twice I have come across the remains of elk, which had seemingly been slain and devoured by bears. I have never heard of elk making a fight against a bear; yet at close quarters and at bay, a bull elk in the rutting season is an ugly foe.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#5

Continued from post #4... A bull moose is even more formidable, being able to strike the most lighting-like blows with his terrible forefeet, his true weapons of defense. I doubt if any beast of prey would rush in on one of these woodland giants, when his horns were grown, and if he was on his guard and bent on fight. Nevertheless, the moose sometimes fall victims to the uncouth prowess of the grizzly, in the thick wet forests of the high northern Rockies, where both beasts dwell. An old hunter who a dozen years ago wintered at Jackson Lake, in northwestern Wyoming, told me that when the snows got deep on the mountains the moose came down and took up their abode near the lake, on its western side. Nothing molested tham during the winter. Early in the spring a grizzly came out of its den, and he found its tracks in many places, as it roamed restlessly about, evidently very hungry. Finding little to eat in the bleak, snow-drifted woods, it soon began to depredate on the moose, and killed two or three, generally by lying in wait and dashing out on them as they passed near its lurking-place. Even the bulls were at season weak, and of course hornless, with small desire to fight; and in each case the rush of the great bear - doubtless made with the ferocity and speed which so often belie the seeming awkwardness of the animal - bore down the startled victim, taken utterly unawares before it had a chance to defend itself. In one case the bear had missed its spring; the moose going off, for a few rods, with huge jumps, and then settled down into its characteristic trot. The old hunter who followed the tracks said he would never have deemed it possible for any animal to make such strides while in a trot.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#6

American Bears - Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
The Bear's Disposition.
My own experience with bears tends to make me lay special emphasis upon their variation in temper. There are savage and cowardly bears, just as there are big and little ones; and sometimes these variations are very marked among bears of the same district, and at other times all the bears of one district will seem to have a common code of behavior which differs utterly from that of the bears of another district. Readers of Lewis and Clark do not need to be reminded of the great difference they found in ferocity between the bears of the Upper Missouri and the bears of the Columbia River drainage system; and those who have lived in the Upper Missouri country nowadays know how widely the bears that remain have altered in character from what they were as recently as the middle of the century.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#7

American Bears - Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
A Cattle-Killing Bear.
Sometimes, however, a bear will take to killing fresh meat for itself. Indeed, I think it is only its clumsiness that prevents it from becoming an habitual flesh-eater. Deer are so agile that bears rarely get them; yet on occasions not only deer, but moose, buffalo, and elk fall victims to them. Wild game, however, are so shy, so agile, and so alert that it is only rarely they afford meals to Old Ephraim - as the mountain hunters call the grizzly. 
Domestic animals are slower, more timid, more clumsy, and with far duller senses. It is on these that the bear by preference preys when he needs fresh meat. I have never, myself, known one to kill horses; but I have been informed that the feat is sometimes performed, usually in spring; and the ranchman who told me insisted that when the bear made his rush he went with such astonishing speed that the horse was usually overtaken before it got well under way. 
The favorite food of a bear, however, if he really wants fresh meat, is a hog or sheep - by preference the former. If a bear once gets into the habit of visiting a sheepfold or pigpen, it requires no slight skill and watchfulness to keep him out. As for swine, they dread bears more than anything else. A drove of half-wild swine will make head against a wolf or panther; but the bear scatters them in a panic. This feat is entirely justifiable, for a bear has a peculiar knack in knocking down a hog, and then literally eating him alive, in spite of his fearful squealing.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#8

Continued from post #7... Every now and then bears take to killing cattle regularly. Sometimes the criminal is a female with cubs; sometimes and old male in spring, when he is lean, and has the flesh hunger upon him. But on one occasion a very large and cunning bear, some twenty-five miles below my ranch, took to cattle-killing early in the summer, and continued it through the fall. He made his home in a very densely wooded bottom; but he wandered far and wide, and I have myself frequently seen his great, half-human footprints leading along some narrow divide, or across some great plateau, where there was no cover whatever, and where he must have gone at night. During the daytime, when on one of these expeditions, he would lie up in some timber coulee, and return to the river-bottoms after dark, so that no one ever saw him; but his tracks were seen very frequently. 
Usually the animals he killed were cows and steers; and noticing this, a certain ranchman in the neighborhood used to boast that a favorite bull on his ranch, of which he was particularly proud, would surely account for the bear if the latter dared to attack him. The boast proved vain. One day a cowboy riding down a lonely coulee came upon the scene of what had evidently been a very hard conflict. There were deep marks of hoofs and claws in the soft soil, bushes were smashed down where the struggling combatants had pressed against and over them, and a little farther on lay the remains of the bull.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#9

American Bears - Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
Old Ephraim.
The grizzly bear undoubtedly comes in the category of dangerous game, and is, perhaps, the only animal in the United States that can be fairly so placed, unless we count the few jaguars found north of the Rio Grande. But the danger of hunting the grizzly has been greatly exaggerated, and the sport is certainly very much safer than it was at the beginning of this century. The first hunters who came into contact with this great bear were men belonging to that hardy and adventurous class of backwoodsmen which had filled the wild country between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. These men carried but one weapon: the long-barreled, small-bored pea-rifle, whose bullets ran seventy to the pound, the amount of powder and lead being a little less than that contained in the cartridge of a thirty-two calibre Winchester. In the eastern states almost all hunting was done in the woodland; the shots were mostly obtained at short distance, and deer and black bear were the largest game; moreover, the pea-rifles were marvellously accurate for close range, and their owners were famed the world over for their skills as marksmen. Thus these rifles had so far proved plenty good enough for the work they had to do, and indeed had done excellent service as military weapons in the ferocious wars that the men of the border carried on with their Indian neighbors, and even in conflict with more civilized foes, as at the battles of King's Mountain and New Orleans. But when the restless frontiersmen pressed out over the Western plains, they encountered in the grizzly a beast of far greater bulk and more savage temper than any of those found in the Eastern woods, and their small-bore rifles were utterly inadequate weapons with which to cope with him. It is no small wonder that he was considered by them to be almost invulnerable, and extraordinarily tenacious of life.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#10

Continued from post #9... The change in the grizzly's character during the last half century ( consider Teddy Roosevelts time-line ) has been precisely paralled by the change in the characters of its North American cousin, the polar bear, and of the South African lion. When the Dutch and Scandinavian sailors first penetrated the Arctic seas, they were kept in constant dread of the white bear, who regarded a man as simply an erect variety of seal, quite as good eating as the common kind. The records of these early explorers are filled with examples of the ferocious and man-eating propensities of the polar bears; but in the accounts of most of the later Arctic expeditions, they are portrayed as having learned wisdom, and being now most anxious to keep out of the way of the hunters. A number of my sporting friends have killed white bears, and none of them were ever even charged. And in South Africa the English sportsmen and Dutch Boers have taught the lion to be a very different creature from what it was when the first white man reached that continent. If the Indian tiger had been a native of the United States, it would now be one of the most shy of beasts. Of late years our estimate of the grizzly's ferocity has been lowered; and we no longer accept the tales of uneducated hunters as being proper authority by which to judge it.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#11

Continued from post #10... How the prowess of the grizzly compares with that of the lion or tiger would be hard to say; I have never shot either of the latter myself, and my brother, who has killed tigers in India, has never had a chance at a grizzly. Any one of the big bears we killed on the mountains would, I should think, have been able to make short work of either a lion or a tiger; for the grizzly is greatly superior in bulk and muscular power to either of the great cats, and its teeth are as large as theirs, while its claws, though blunter, are much longer; nevertheless, I believe that a lion or a tiger would be fully as dangerous to a human being, on account of the superior speed of its charge, the lightning-like rapidity of its movements, and its apparently sharper senses. Still, after all is said, the man should have a thoroughly trustworthy weapon and fairly cool head, who would follow into its own haunts and slay grim Old Ephraim.
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United States Pckts Online
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#12
( This post was last modified: 11-29-2016, 08:25 PM by Pckts )

Post #10
While I probably agree with what you're saying brobear, if I were to play devils advocate I could say that people were probably very quick to call these creatures "beasts" and "savages." Once both got acclimated maybe their understanding of each other changed as well.
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is."
-Oscar Wilde
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India brotherbear Offline
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#13

(11-29-2016, 08:23 PM)Pckts Wrote: Post #10
While I probably agree with what you're saying brobear, if I were to play devils advocate I could say that people were probably very quick to call these creatures "beasts" and "savages." Once both got acclimated maybe their understanding of each other changed as well.

These are the word's of Teddy Roosevelt. Also, post #11 was said by Teddy Roosevelt before he had been on hunts in Africa. He is certainly wrong concerning the teeth comparison.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#14

American Bears - Selections from the Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.
Old Ephraim, The Grizzly Bear.
Bear vary greatly in size and color, no less than in temper and habits. Old hunters speak much of them in their endless talks over the camp fires and in the snow-bound winter huts. They insist on many species; not merely the black and the grizzly, but the brown, the cinnamon, the gray, the silver-tip, and others with names known only in certain localities, such as the range bear, the roach-back, and the smut-face. But, in spite of popular opinion to the contrary, most old hunters are very untrustworthy in dealing with points of natural history. They usually know only so much about any given game animal as will enable them to kill it. They study its habits solely with this end in view; and once slain they only examine it to see about its condition and fur. With rare exceptions they are quite incapable of passing judgment upon questions of specific identity or difference. When questioned, they not only advance perfectly impossible theories and facts in support of their views, but they rarely even agree as to the views themselves.
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India brotherbear Offline
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#15

Continued from post #14... A full grown grizzly will usually weigh from five to seven hundred pounds; but exceptional individuals undoubtedly reach more than twelve hundredweight. The California bears are said to be much the largest. This I think is so, but I cannot say it with certainty - at any rate I have examined several skins of full-grown California bears which were no larger than those of many I have seen from the northern Rockies. The Alaskan bears, particularly those of the peninsula, are even bigger beasts; the skin of one which I saw in the possession of Mr. Webster, the taxidermist, was a good deal larger than the average polar bear skin; and the animal when alive, if in good condition, could hardly have weighed less than 1,400 pounds. Bears vary wonderfully in weight, even to the extent of becoming half as heavy again, according as they are fat or lean; in this respect they are more like hogs than like any other animals.
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