Hall Remembers . . .
Old Ponto vs. the Cougar
Court Hall Remembers---
(Recollections of Jackson County Sporting Events by Veteran Sportsman.)In the year of 1885 when I first went to live at Rancherie [Prairie] there lived at Lick Prairie one George Beale. Lick Prairie is three miles south of Rancherie and near the Big Springs that furnishes Medford's water supply. Beale was a small, wiry man and an unerring marksman. On account of his retiring disposition Beale's reputation as a hunter of wild game was but little known outside of his own locality. In my opinion Beale was one of the greatest hunters that ever lived in Southern Oregon.
Beale was always surrounded by two or three extremely good bear dogs. These bear dogs and his true marksmanship were a great asset to Beale's success in hunting. During his hunting career he killed several hundred bear and more than one hundred cougars. Old Ponto was his favorite dog. I will tell you more of Old Ponto later and his tragic end in a battle with a huge bear.
One time his brother-in-law, Jim Watkins, then a youth of sixteen, was visiting Lick Prairie. Beale sent Jim over to Rancherie horseback on an errand, accompanied by a little dog. When out about a mile the dog ran onto a female cougar near the roadway. The small dog did considerable bluffing along with some vociferous barking which caused the cougar to run up a tree nearby. On the approach of young Watkins the cougar leaped a distance of fifty feet from the trunk of the tree and lit on some heavy vine maples, and then proceeded to get out of that immediate vicinity as soon as possible. The little dog picked up the case and after a run of a quarter of a mile the cougar again ran up a tree. Young Watkins had no gun, but was able to keep fairly close up with his horse and arrived under the tree that contained the cougar shortly after.
Watkins had heard old hunters tell of tying their coat around a tree to hold a cougar, so he proceeded to do likewise by placing his coat and hat on a bush just beneath the tree that held the cougar.
Watkins then rushed back to [line missing] and his three bear dogs. Beale gave Watkins the laugh and told him that he had probably treed a wildcat. After much persuasion on Jim's part Beale agreed to go back with him. When they arrived at the tree the cougar was still there. Beale said the dogs wanted a fight and that they would try and get the cougar to jump out of the tree without killing him. They threw rocks at the cougar for a considerable time, but the rocks had no more effect than to cause the cougar to growl more fiercely. Finally Beale said he would shoot to crease the cougar, which he proceeded to do by shooting a little skin off along the cougar's head. She came tumbling down the tree, a little dazed, but lit on all fours. She had no more than reached the ground when the three dogs tackled her. She wounded every one of the dogs in a few seconds and escaped.After a run of half a mile the dogs brought the cougar to bay again on a couple of big logs that had fallen in a V shape, and in such a position that the dogs could not tackle the cougar from the rear. When Beale and Watkins got there two of the dogs were badly wounded and had given up the fight. Old Ponto alone, covered with blood, still blocked the cougar's path. As Beale approached Ponto began fighting the cougar more viciously. Beale stepped up within five feet of the cougar, fired, and she rolled over dead. Beale after that never creased any more cougars in order to give his dogs a fight.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 20, 1930, page 6
Last revised February 14, 2017