Hunting with John Griffin
Hunting in the Rogue Valley in the 1880s through 1890s. The "Trailer" stories apparently took place between 1881 and December 1892, when Griffin's famous bear dog died--see obituary below.
John B. Griffin
John B. Griffin killed a deer a short time since which weighed 170 lbs. when dressed. He has no superior as a hunter in this section.
The first bear that Trailer ever treed was on Griffin creek near the old home ranch. I was living on the place then about one hundred and fifty yards north of the old farm house, where my sister was living at the time. One night in the month of June '82 I had just gone to bed, when my sister came running down and called to me to get up, as she thought a bear had caught a hog up above the house, as she heard one squealing. I hurried out as quickly as possible, grabbed my gun and ran up to the house where both dogs, Trailer, then a young dog a little over a year old, and Lion, a cur that had been in one bear fight and got the worst of it, were lying; but neither had heard nor scented the bear on account of being on the opposite side of the house from where he was. I called them out at once, and as soon they got around to the other side they scented the bear and away they went; the bear had already "racked" out.
April 29, 1907 Oregonian
TRAILER'S FIRST BEAR.
BY JOHN B. GRIFFIN.
Neither dog barked nor made any noise until they got to the place where the bear had been, when Trailer immediately took up the track and started after him, yelping at every jump, but old Lion, remembering his former experience, stopped and commenced to bark, afraid to go farther.
I broke and ran as fast as I could, and as soon as I got near enough shouted at him and urged him to go. When he found out I was coming he racked out, but Trailer had already got at least a half-mile the start of him and was just going over the hill out of hearing. I waited then until I heard the old dog across the hill when I turned down towards the creek to the wagon road, as I supposed that the bear would probably tree somewhere near the creek. I had not gone far when I was joined by John S. Miller, an old bear hunter, who was cool as a cucumber, while I was all excitement.
We did not go far until we heard both dogs barking furiously and knew by the bark that Bruin was treed. We quickened our steps then, Miller all the time cautioning me to go slow, as if we made much racket the bear might hear us and come down. We soon reached the tree and, sure enough, there he was, a large brown bear clinging to the side of a big pine. It was now about 10 o'clock, but the stars were shining brightly and we could plainly see the bear. Of course I wanted to shoot and so did Miller, but finally I gave my gun over to him as he was an old bear hunter. He took deliberate aim and blazed away with such precision that old Bruin came down on the double quick and away he went with both dogs at his heels. He didn't go far, however, until they brought him up again, this time in a dead fir. I look the gun which Miller seemed to be willing to give up and went over to the tree. The bear was up about 30 or 40 feet and as there were no limbs to bother I could see him plainly, so I pulled away without stopping to study over consequences. At the crack of the gun he fell over backwards and down he came, landing in the brush below. The dogs attacked him furiously, but there was no fight left in the bear as the bullet had passed through the heart, killing him so dead that he never knew what hurt him. We dressed him and hung him up, then went back to the house and to bed but, as may be imagined, I was too excited to sleep much.
I was now sure that I had a bear dog, something I had wanted for years. In this I was not mistaken, as the career of Trailer has proved him to be one of the best bear dogs ever known in this or any other country. An account of the bear hunts in which he was engaged would make a good-sized book; and if you wish it and think it would interest your readers I will give at some future time an account of other bear fights that Trailer and I have "enjoyed" together--particularly the last, or one-hundred and eighth bear scrape in which the poor old fellow participated.
Talent News, May 1, 1893, page 2 Griffin retold this story in the Medford News of August 7, 1935, below.
A CHRISTMAS BEAR STORY.
By John B. Griffin.
(Every man who has known the thrills of the hunt and every boy who longs to invade the wilds with a dog and a gun will read the following only with the keenest pleasure. Mr. Griffin is the greatest hunter of them all in southern Oregon and tells his true stories of his dogs and his experiences with an inimitable style of his own.)
In this story I am not going to tell you of a regular bear hunt, but am going to tell you of a few of the bears that Trailer treed the fall that he was three years old. I say a few, for if I would tell you of every one it would probably take up more space than the editor would feel like giving up, as he caught twenty, all told, and the last one of the day before Christmas.
I was living on Griffin Creek those days, running a farm four miles from Medford, and did not have time to go out hunting very often, so Trailer got to going out of a night and treeing bears, foxes, wildcats and now and then a cougar. In the morning when I would get up I would discover that he was gone, and I generally would go out and listen and, if I didn't hear him barking, I would wait until noon and then I would saddle a horse and strike out. I would then go to the top of what we called the divide between Griffin Creek and Sterling Creek, where I could hear off either way, then I would follow along the top of the ridge and every little while I would stop and listen, and at last I would hear his bow! wow! wow! Instantly I would throw up the horn and give it a long, loud toot to let him know I was coming. The effect would be magical. Instead of the bow! wow! wow! every few minutes, he and old Lion, my old standby that helped him tree so many, would turn loose too, barking steadily and joyfully, and there was a hunter who felt pretty joyful about that time, if you will believe me.
I generally rode my horse until I was within two or three hundred yards of them, then I tied him up and made my way cautiously up to near the tree. When I had discovered him I most always approached behind a tree so that he couldn't see me. After I got close enough I walked right out and under the tree as quickly as I could, then I had him safe. There is no danger of them coming down after you are under the tree, but, as I have said before, just as sure as a person undertakes to rush up to a tree where a bear has been up any length of time, he will come down, and then you have got a scrap on your hands. So if young bear hunters will take my advice and always be cautious about getting up to the tree, you will seldom ever get into trouble and at the same time take no chances on getting a dog killed, or, if not killed, spoiled, for any number of dogs, after having been whipped out once, will not tackle a bear the next time.
Well, as I said in the beginning of this story, that it was not an account of a regular hunting trip. I will just give you the stories of each bear he treed and the little scraps I had with a few of them. I used a .44 Winchester in those days, and although they are a back number now, we banked on them then and I feared nothing when I had my .44 with me.
The first time that Trailer ever went out on one of these night hunts was in the forepart of the fall. One morning I got up and was choring around the house and hadn't missed him, when all at once I heard the sound of his voice away off up the creek. I listened until I satisfied myself that he was at a tree, then I got the gun and started out. It was about two miles, and when I got there, lo and behold, it was a fox. I was a little bit disappointed, but Trailer was awfully tickled to see me come, so I up and shot the fox and went back home, but carried the fox along with me, Trailer walking behind, perfectly contented. I skinned the fox and stretched the hide in good shape, and I guess Trailer thought he had done something worthwhile, for he treed four that week. I began to think it was going to be all foxes, but one morning I got up and discovered he was gone, and after listening awhile I heard them both, away off up this same canyon where he had been treeing the foxes. My first thought was another fox, but they were barking furiously and I began to think maybe it might be something larger than a fox, so I hurried up, got my gun and lit out. There was a wagon road up this creek for quite a ways, and they sounded like they were close to the road, so I stuck to it and, sure enough, when I got there I found them within fifty steps or less of the road, barking up a dead fir tree with hardly a limb on it, and there, only about twenty feet up, sat a big mealy-nose brown bear. Gee, but I was surprised and highly elated, too, and I lost no time in shooting him out, which I did by putting a .44 bullet square between the eyes. Over he went and the dogs piled in on him and yanked him around until I had to make them quit. I dressed him and went back home, ate breakfast and hitched up to a rig and went and loaded him in and brought him home. I took a fellow with me by the name of Maxon, and we had to take the wheels off and let the hind axle down and the bear in, then we put him forward as far as we could and raised the hind wheels up and the trick was done. This bear weighed several hundred pounds and turned out several cans of oil. The meat was fine.
I will say right now, while I think of it, that Trailer never treed another fox in that region, that I recollect of. I think he passed over the tracks, feeling they were too insignificant to bother with.
In a few days more Trailer treed another bear in his same canyon, only higher up the creek and farther up the hillside. This, too, was a large mealy nose, and I killed him without any trouble or excitement either.
Shortly after that I went up in that part of the country to try to kill a deer. I had hunted up to the head of the creek and along on the Sterling side and back over on the Griffin Creek side without seeing a deer, and was headed down a ridge for home. The ground was rather open and, happening to look off to my right about a hundred yards, there stood a big black bear under an oak tree. The boughs hung down and he had his head towards me, drooped down and looking at me. He stood a little quartering, so I pulled down and drew a bead on the point of his shoulder and let drive. At the crack of the gun down he went, but was up and out of sight before I could shoot again. There was a brushy gulch beyond him, and by the time I got over to where he stood he was down into that. I could hear the rustle of the brush at first, then all was quiet. I went down a short distance and could see nor hear nothing of him, so I came to the conclusion I didn't want him bad enough to go down in the brush after him, so I went back to the ridge and went down until I struck a good open place and sat down and commenced to blow the horn. By the way, I neglected to say that I had not brought the dogs with me, as I did not want Trailer to get any notion in his head of hunting deer. I sat there and kept blowing the horn for a long time, and finally I had the satisfaction of hearing Trailer answer me away off down the hill, coming. Say, my heart leaped for joy, and I never thought more of Trailer than I did right then. I commenced talking to him before he got to me, and he wagged his tall and was awfully pleased to get to me. I petted him a few minutes and then I told him to come on. I went back up and, say, when he struck that bear track and smelled the blood I think he knew what I had called him for.
Away he went straight down the gulch into the brush, and, sure enough, there was the bear. He was hurt pretty bad and was lying down all the time Trailer was coming. I could hear the racket and knew he was going down the gulch, so I ran down the ridge and pretty soon I got a little below, and I yelled at Trailer to go after him.
The fight was now in dead earnest, and Trailer was making it hot for him, as he had one shoulder broken and Trailer could easily keep out of his way. He must have heard me yell, for he left the gulch and took up and around the hillside and came up in plain sight. This was what I wanted. I caught a bead and pulled. I hit him, but he did not go down. Just then Trailer seized him by the ham, and as the bear turned to strike he held on a little too long and he got a lick on him which sent him rolling down the hill. Before he could recover himself the bear made a dive to grab him, but I shot again and hit him in the thick part of the neck, as I discovered afterwards. He reared straight back and fell with all heels up, but struggled to his feet again. I gave him another, and before Trailer could get to him I gave him another, and over he went and came rolling down the hill, with Trailer trying to hang on. He was dead as dead could be. He gave Trailer a mark on his hip that he carried all his life, and can be seen in his picture that I have here at home now.
Well, the fight was over and the job was to get him in, which had to be done by skinning him and cutting him up. This spoiled the biggest part of the day, but we got him in just the same.
(To be continued.)Ashland Tidings, December 21, 1916, page 2
A CHRISTMAS BEAR STORY.The next bear Trailer treed was away over on the Sterling side. I waited that day until about 2 o'clock before I started out to hunt him up, and it was sundown before I got to where I could hear him barking, and I had to hurry to get there in time to see the sights before it was too dark. I made it, however, and found he was up a big pine and had gone high up, from some cause or other. The dogs were probably crowding him pretty close when he struck the tree, and he wanted to get as far away from them as possible. I got around where I could see his head and took a good rest alongside of a small pine tree, and pulled down a fine sight, square between the eyes. At the crack of the gun he came rolling out dead as a mackerel. I hurried up and dressed him and got on my horse and struck out for home, getting there between 10 and 11 o'clock, and it was dark as pitch, so it was not all plain sailing hunting bears, you see.
(Continued from last issue.)
By John B. Griffin.
The next bear Trailer caught I found him about 2 o'clock. When I discovered he was gone I saddled up my horse and struck out the first thing in the morning, and it was well I did, for I rode until 2 o'clock before I got to where I heard him. This time I found him away up near the head of Griffin Creek, several miles from home. When I got to the tree, sure enough, It was a bear. Well, it was only a short job to put him out of business, as he was only up a short distance and not a very large tree at that. I shot him in the head and killed him the first shot, and he came rolling out. When I came to examine him I found it was one of the oldest bears I had ever killed. Its nose and head had turned perfectly gray and its teeth were all broken off, and besides that it was poor, at a time of year when it should have been fat. I let it stay right there.
One night I woke up about 2 o'clock and I heard the dogs. They were barking furiously, I can tell you. From the sound I could tell they were west of the house and across the field, which was about three-quarters of a mile wide. I knew from the way they barked that it was big game, and I could hardly wait until daylight came; in fact, before it was light I was up and off. I had fifteen shells in the gun, and as I started off I called to my sister and said, more for a joke than anything else, "If you hear me shoot fifteen times, bring me some more cartridges." I had no more idea of shooting fifteen times than anything in the world. Well, I crossed the field, and when I came to the foot of the hill I found they were only about one-half mile up. There was a big gulch on my right, and on the left of the ridge was a smaller one. I kept up this gulch until I got opposite to where they were, and then turned and bore up towards the tree, keeping well out of sight, as by this time I had them located definitely, for they were both barking terrificly. When I got in sight of the tree the first thing I saw was a big black bear, one of the largest I ever saw or ever killed in my life. The tree stood in fair, square, open ground, nearly on top of the ridge, and was an immense big fir, and he had only went up a few feet, just enough to be well out of the reach of the dogs. I was now within sixty yards, and I knew positively that if I undertook to get any closer he would see me and come down, sure as fate. I studied the matter over a minute or so and decided to shoot anyhow and risk a fight, as the ground was good. So I pulled up on him offhand and pealed away. At the crack of the gun he reared up and clawed the air for a few seconds and down he came and the big fight was on, and was on the steep hillside next to the big gulch. 1 realized now that I had been too hasty and had made a bad shot. I rushed up there as fast as I could, and they were working him so fast and furious that he hadn't made but little headway, and when I got to where I could see down it put me within twenty-five or thirty steps of him. They had him going backwards and forwards and turning so fast that I could not get a bead on a vital part, but I lost no time in getting the Winchester into action and commenced to pour the lead into him. About the third or fourth shot he fell and the dogs piled in on him, but he was up instantly, and before old Lion could get out of the way he had him. Trailer was swinging to his ham, but he paid no attention to him. I bore down closer and strung the bullets as fast as I could work the lever, and he had to let go, and at it they went again. They had him rearing, plunging and tearing around until it seemed like I couldn't get in a dead shot to save my life. Trailer did some of the best work I ever saw him do in all my hunting, and once when I got in close [the bear] got them entirely loose. Here he came straight at me, mouth open, ears laid back and hair all up the wrong way. The dogs were both behind him, in line, and I dare not shoot, so I ran back several steps to get to a tree, but it was not necessary. They both had him in little or no time and swung him around. As they let go to get out of the way I let drive again. Over he went, down the hill, and landed in a flat place next to the gulch and brought up in a bunch of brush. Here he regained his feet again, and, backing up so the dogs could not get around behind him, he stayed right there and stood them off. All they could do was to bark in his face. I got around now and crossed the gulch above and came on the other hillside above him, and thought I would take my time and shoot him in the head. It had been several minutes since I fired the last shot, and I had fired every cartridge but had not discovered that fact, but my sister at home had kept count, and when she heard the fifteenth shot she ran for her horse and was coming across the field as fast as she could. This I did not know, of course, and when I got around to where I could get a fair, square shot I pulled up, took a good bead on the side of the head, and snap went the gun. I thought I had forgotten to load. Down and up went the lever, and snap again. I suddenly realized I was up against it. There was a good trail going down the gulch, and I lit out down this trail, but had not gone far until I saw my sister coming on a dead run. I went out and met her at the fence, took the box of cartridges and hurried back. When I got back I thought I would try one shot for the bear's heart, so I pulled in behind the shoulder and shot. I hit him square in the heart, but still he did not succumb for several minutes and I had to give him another in the head and he rolled over. The dogs were too much exhausted to even touch him, but both of them lay down and panted for a long time before they would start home. As I said before, this was one of the largest black bears I ever saw. He was coal black, with a large white spot In his breast, and white with fat. When we came to skin him we found that he was literally riddled with bullets.
It took the dogs several days to get over this scrap, but they got rested up, and one morning when I got up they were gone again. That afternoon l got on my horse and took the same old route. I followed the ridge clear back to the head of Sterling Creek, then down to Griffin Creek and down that creek and home, and no dogs. I got up the next morning and no dogs. I rode the country over that day, over in back of Jacksonville, Poor Man's Creek, and got back late in the evening, half expecting to find them at home, but in this I was disappointed. I was getting pretty uneasy now, and I lay awake a long time that night, studying the matter over. At last I made up my mind that I would go up Griffin Creek until it made the bend towards Sterling, then turn east and go up the ridge towards the head of Coleman Creek. Having decided, I was anxious for morning to come, so at daylight I had breakfast and was off. I went the route I had planned, and along about 10 o'clock I had got away up on top of the mountain. When I made the turn I stopped and listened. At first I could hear nothing, but waited, somewhat disappointed, and at last was rewarded by the sound of Trailer's voice, the old familiar bow, wow, wow. Well, now, listen to me. Hundreds and thousands, and I might say millions, remember how they felt when they heard Wilson was elected after hearing positively that Hughes had been elected. Well, multiply that feeling by ten and you will have a pretty good idea of how I felt when I heard Trailer. I was wild with joy, not so much for the sake of the game as it was to know that Trailer was safe and I was soon to set my eyes on him again. Down the hill I went, leaving my horse, as the dogs were not a great ways off, picking my way through the brush until I struck the timber. Then it was more open. Now I blew the horn just once. Immediately both dogs began to bark joyously. I slid around the hillside mighty cautiously now, and soon I saw them at the root of a big tree, on the same side of Coleman Creek that I was on, so I moved a little closer but could see no bear. I did not know that he was on the opposite side of the tree from me, but he was, and had his head poked around the trunk. When I moved up closer, down he came, hand over fist, tearing the bark to pieces as he came. The dogs were on the upper side of the tree, and when the bear struck the ground he gathered himself and went smashing down across the creek and up the other side. Both dogs dashed down after him, but before they got to him the Winchester cracked and, to my surprise, he came heels over head and rolled over and over back down into the creek, which was dry and rocky. The dogs piled right in after him. I ran down as quickly as I could, but he was dead. As good luck would have it, in catching the bead in my hurry I had shot a little high, the bullet hitting him in the back of the neck, killing him instantly.
The first hard work I did was to take his entrails out and feed the dogs some liver, which I cut up fine for them. They did not like it very much, but ate some of it. However, as soon ts I got back to my horse I fed them, as I had brought along something for them.
This was a big cinnamon bear, and how those dogs could keep him up that long is a mystery to me, unless he had come down and been fighting them on the ground part of the time.
I will skip over the rest of them now and tell you about the bear I caught the day before Christmas. As I said before, to tell of every one Trailer caught would take up entirely too much space. But just think of two dogs staying out three days and nights! Do you wonder at me thinking the world of Trailer?
On the 24th of December there was snow, so I took both dogs with me and started out in the morning for a bunt, not expecting in the least to kill a bear, as they were all holed up long before, but I wanted a deer, and in those days it was not against the law to kill them in December. I took the dogs along in case we should run across a varmint track.
I went away off up Griffin Creek and up by what they called Miller's Flat and quite a ways up the ridge without seeing a thing, when all at once I ran across a wildcat track. Away the dogs went, straight down the hill, across the left-hand prong of Griffin Creek, and over the hill out of hearing. I followed, and when I got down across the creek I stopped and, happening to look back up the hill, I saw a bear going along the hill side, right where I had come along. The hillside was burned off and I could see him plainly, but it was a long shot. I hauled up and sent a bullet over that way once, anyhow, just for luck, but I didn't reach him and away he went as fast as he could run. I didn't shoot any more as it would be nonsense at that distance anyhow, so I went on up to the top of the hill, thinking as I went along what the dogs would do when I brought them back and they struck that bear track. When I got up there I heard them down the hill a short distance, barking up a tree I went down and, sure enough, it was a big wildcat. I shot him out, and after they yanked him around a while I started back over the hill. I was getting mighty anxious to get back to that bear track. When I got up within thirty or forty yards of where he had gone along, both dogs broke out and, taking the track, went down around the hillside, yelping every jump. I knew they couldn't help but get him, so I thought I would take his backtrack and see where he came from. I tracked him back about forty yards, and there I found his den at the root of a big fir that had been burned and hollowed out. The doe and I had disturbed him and he lay still until he thought the coast was clear, then came out to change his quarters. The dogs were soon around the point of the hill and out of hearing, so I went straight up to the top of the hill and I heard them away off, down near the right fork of the creek. I went on down to where they were, and they had him in a cave. I went up along the side of the mouth of the cave and looked in, and I could see his eyes shining like two coals of fire. I pointed the gun as near between the eyes as I could and pulled the trigger, then stepped back to one side and threw another load in. When the gun cracked both dogs went in side by side, and I suppose he must have fallen, for they came out of there backwards and each one had him by the side of the head, and he wasn't dead by a long shot. There was a big log along in front of the cave, and when he got well out he knocked Trailer loose and gave some kind of a yank and threw the old dog over the log, but Trailer held on and hung right to him. The bear placed his feet on the log and braced himself back. This was all done quicker than it takes to tell it. I was within five feet of him and I jerked up and shot, hitting him at the butt of the ear. This finished him. He was a black bear about three years old and very fat. We came back next day and packed him in, without having to skin him and cut him up.
Now I hope the readers will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed the hear meat.
Ashland Tidings, December 25, 1916, page 2
EARLY-DAY HUNTING ON MOUNT PITTI promised in my last story to tell you about a hunt and bear fight in which Old Bugle--Fred Barneburg's thoroughbred hound--had a hand and helped to save Trailer when he was in the closest place of his life.
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN, Kirby, Oregon
In a recent issue of the Grants Pass Courier I read an item stating that hunting and fishing stories would be acceptable for publication in the April issue of The Oregon Sportsman. As I have hunted for a great many years in the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains, and have killed lots of big game, I hope that the reader will not be disappointed in this story of early-day hunting on Mount Pitt [Mount McLoughlin].BUGLE AND TRAILER IN A BATTLE ROYAL
I am going to write of one of my most successful hunts. The friend who was with me is one of Ashland's oldtimers and most substantial citizens--no other than Hon. Robert Neil, ex-mayor and vice-president of an Ashland bank, but in this story I am going to call him just plain Bob.
Now, no doubt, there are a great many people in Ashland who will be surprised to know that Bob ever hunted bear or ever hunted at all, for that matter, but let me tell you, don't deceive yourselves, for thirty years ago there were few men in Jackson County who could give Bob Neil any pointers on either hunting or shooting, if he did miss the Sugar Loaf bear that I told about in the Record [the Ashland Valley Record] some time ago. Well, to make a long story short, I know that I couldn't lay it over him any, but that is not saying very much. However, I used to hate awfully bad to be beaten by anyone when it came to hunting, but it sure kept me jumping sideways to hold my own when I went out with Bob.
I and Bob used to live neighbors in the Dead Indian country a long time ago, and it was from there that we started on the hunt that I am going to tell you about, and the region around Mt. Pitt was our destination, where bear, deer, elk and gray wolves abounded in more or less numbers, and we went loaded for bear, for bear was what we wanted, and besides we had old Trailer, the famous old dog the readers all know about, and Ranger, one of the best helpers he ever had, and we were ready to follow them to the end of the trail. We started out with five horses and a .44 apiece and lots of ammunition, also plenty of grub. Now at this day and age of the world some hunters will think it strange that a man would go out to hunt big game with a .44 Winchester, but in those days there were no high-power guns, and let me tell you I have been in some pretty close places, when I had only the .44, and I always managed to come out all right.
Well, the first drive we made was to Webfoot Prairie, by noon. Here was an old cabin that had been built several years before by Bob Neil, Bill Daly and others, and had been used as a trappers' cabin. There was a prairie here and lots of grass, so while we cooked dinner the horses were filled up and at 1 o'clock we saddled up and pulled out, intending to go as far as Elk Prairie. There were no trails those days, so we hit straight through the woods, and after traveling about three or four hours we came to a stream of water that flows out of Black Butte [apparently Brown Mountain] and makes one prong of Butte Creek. Here was grass as high as a horse's back, and a huge spreading maple to camp under, and one of the prettiest streams that I ever saw in all my life, and full of fish besides. This was too good to pass by, so we just simply unpacked and turned our horses loose, and after resting awhile we got out our hooks and lines and in twenty minutes had all of the speckled beauties we wanted. Some were twelve and fourteen inches in length. This same stream can be reached from Ashland now by auto in half a day, but parties would have to walk a certain distance. An auto road could very easily be made the whole distance. After supper, which consisted of bread baked by the campfire, fried potatoes, butter, coffee and fried fish, we concluded to take a walk out to Elk Prairie, which we knew could not be very far, and here I did a foolish trick and discovered it when it was too late. I went without my gun! I wanted to leave the dogs in camp, and knew if I went without the gun they would not want to follow. So Bob took his gun along and I sauntered along behind, not thinking for a moment that we would see any game that would be worth shooting at. But in this I was mistaken, for after traveling perhaps a half or three-quarters of a mile we came to the edge of Elk Prairie, and, lo and behold, right out in the prairie, not over 125 yards, were two big gray wolves, busy feeding on the carcass of a deer which they had probably killed. I need not tell you that just about this time I would have given a kingdom for my gun, and watched as Bob pulled up his Winchester and took careful aim at one of them and let her go. At the crack of the gun the wolf leaped high in the air and turned round and round and tumbled over. The other one sprang off a few yards and stopped to look and listen. The lever went down and up, and quicker than it takes to tell it, another bullet sped from the .44 and caught him in the thigh. Away he went now towards the timber, dragging one hind leg, and away went Bob, too, stopping to shoot about every twenty yards. How it would have ended is hard to tell, but just then I heard the dogs coming. I stopped Trailer, but Ranger passed by like a cyclone and saw the wolf. You could just see a black streak going across that prairie. The wolf could not make much headway, but it was plain to be seen that Ranger would overtake him before he could get to the timber to save his life. Bob kept going, but did not shoot any more after Ranger passed him. The race was soon over, and when the wolf saw he was soon to be overtaken, he stopped and swung around to face his foes. Ranger was too foxy to close in on him, but instead ran round and round him, and every chance he got would try to get him by the ham. Bob soon got there and the old Winchester cracked, and I saw Ranger seize him and commence to yank him around. I let Trailer go now and I went also. I knew he was disappointed when he got there, but I couldn't help it. He was too valuable a dog to take chances on getting him hurt by a wolf. Bob said he would pack the hides, and was gracious enough to give me the gun, but of course we supposed there was nothing between there and camp. I confess I was a little down in the mouth, and kept thinking it would be a cold day when I left my gun in camp again.
In going back we kept up nearer the foot of the hill, and just as we got well into the timber, out jumped a big five-point buck and tore out through the timber at a terrific rate. It was open timber here, and in those days I was a pretty good shot on the run. The lever went down and up, and quicker than a flash I sent a bullet whizzing after him, which by good luck struck him near the bulge of the ribs, and ranging forward passed through the heart. He ran a few yards and upended. Say, believe me, all my trouble disappeared right there, and I could smile now as well as Bob. This was pretty good luck. Fish, buck meat and wolves to start in with, and several miles yet to go before we would be to our permanent camp.
The next morning we packed up and went out across Elk Prairie, across Butte Creek, up past Fish Lake, and along the trail towards Lake of the woods for four or five miles, then turned to the left and kept around the foot of Mt. Pitt a few miles, and landed high up on a creek called Paradise, that empties into Lake of the Woods, where we found a beautiful place to camp--lots of grass, lots of water and lots of huckleberries, and we hoped lots of game. The balance of the day was spent in fixing up camp, making a fir bough bed and also racks to jerk meat on. Late in the evening we took a little [look] round and scared a bunch of grouse near camp. They flew up and lit in the pines all around us. We turned loose and killed five, shooting the heads off of three. Bob did that. We also saw some bear signs, but not real fresh. We were in a wild country now, and had big expectations, as game here has seldom ever been bothered, and we had such good luck to start with that we felt confident of getting all the game we wanted. So next morning we were up bright and early, and after a fine breakfast of fat buck meat we got ready and started out. I took the dogs and went up on the east side of the creek, and Bob crossed over and went up the ridge on the west side and was supposed to follow it up towards Mt. Pitt and keep high up so that in case Trailer started a bear he would stand a better chance to hear him. By the way, Bob cautioned me before he left to be sure and take my gun, which I thought was not very good taste in him, but I smothered it down. I had not got a half mile from camp when I discovered where a big bear had come down off the hill from the huckleberry patch and went down toward the creek. The dogs were a little distance back, so I gave the horn a few quick, short toots, which was the signal for them to come and come quick. It was hardly a minute until they were there, and I could tell as quick as Trailer got his nose on the track that it was fresh. They both went to work like they meant business, and were down across the creek and going up the hill on the track in just a few minutes. Pretty soon I heard them turn loose to yelping, and over the hill they went and out of my hearing in just a short time. They were going towards where Bob should be, so I stayed where I was, hoping it would make a turn and come back my way. But in this I was disappointed, and after waiting some little time I made up my mind to go on over across the creek and up on top of the ridge and see if I could hear them. Sure enough, when I got up there I did hear them, away down near the trail that leads to Lake of the Woods from Fish Lake. I could tell from the sound that they had overtaken and were baying him. The old scamp wouldn't climb. I lit out down the ridge and, believe me, there was no grass grew under my feet, either. I was satisfied that Bob would be following up on the other side, and if the bear made a break, which he was nearly sure to do, one or the other of us stood a show to head him off. I kept on going and had got up to within probably two hundred yards when, sure enough, away he went down the hill towards Black Butte. He made quite a run this time before the dogs brought him up, as it was brushy. But as soon as they struck open timber they made it hot for him again and he couldn't make much headway. I gave the horn a toot and Bob answered me, only a short distance ahead. He waited until I caught up with him, and on we went. We could hear the dogs going after the bear now, and could tell he wasn't making much headway. Pretty soon they came to a deep canyon and he made a run on them down into this, but as he came up on the other side we had got to the brink and could see them as they fought backwards and forwards, first one grabbing him by the ham and then the other. Now was our chance, and as he turned with his side to us we both fired. Down he went on his belly, clawing at the ground for a few minutes, then over and over he rolled down the hill, both dogs yanking at him as he came. We went down to where they were now and made the dogs quit. Both bullets had passed through behind the shoulders, one at least through the heart. He was a mealynose brown and about as big as they generally get. We dressed him and straightened him around in good shape and started back to camp, as we knew it would be noon or after when we got there, and besides Trailer had run enough for one day.
After going along a mile or so we came to a big swamp, and after passing around the head of it we were surprised to see an old bear and two cubs come out of the swamp and walk along slowly, biting off huckleberries, entirely oblivious to the fact that we were standing within a hundred yards of them. Our first thought was to let the dogs go after them, but concluded not to, as we thought they had had enough for one day, so we concluded to shoot the old one and let the dogs tree the cubs. So we both let drive at the old bear, and she ran a short distance and went down. Both dogs dashed out now and got so close to the cubs that they hardly had time to climb before they were upon them. One ran away up to the top and one only went up a few feet, just out of reach of the dogs, which set them both wild. We went down and shot them out, after which we went back to camp, arriving at 1 o'clock, tired and hungry but pretty well satisfied with our day's hunt. We laid off till evening, then went out and picked a lot of huckleberries.
The next day was spent in getting game and taking care of meat. We left old Trailer in camp for fear of another bear chase, for in those days you could hardly keep him from catching a bear if you let him get out in the woods.
The next day we started out and went over towards Four Mile Lake. About two miles from camp as we were passing along through a big burn, I saw lying down by a big log 125 yards from us a big buck. He saw us, but did not get up, so I pulled up and blazed way and had the satisfaction of seeing him roll over. We started down to where he lay and Bob asked me where I hit him. I told him I thought I had given him a quartering shot that had ranged through the heart, but imagine my chagrin when we got down there and I had shot him square between the eyes. Bob likes a joke and never let up on me the whole trip, but when he missed the Sugar Loaf bear I got even on him, believe me. The buck had nine points on one horn and ten on the other. After dressing and hanging him up we went on. After traveling a mile or more without seeing any more game we came to a small prairie of perhaps three or four acres, and in passing across it we discovered there had been a bunch of elk there. This set us wild, for if there was anything on earth I loved to hunt, it was elk. So we set to work to figure out where they had left the prairie and the direction they had gone. After tracking around and around for a long time we found where they had left the prairie on the west side and were traveling up and around the side of old Mt. Pitt. We followed along for a long ways and at last came to where they had been standing around under some fir trees, and out in a little opening they had been lying down, but were not there now. On we went, as they were easily followed, going most of the time in single file, and finally came to a grassy spot away up on the south side of Mt. Pitt, facing towards Fish Lake, and there they had a great hole pawed out where they had been lying down. They had moved again, but we soon discovered that they had gone out at the upper end of the glade, but this time they had swung back east around the side of the mountain. We followed along until about 3 o'clock, when the trail took a turn uphill towards a gap in the ridge that runs down east from Mt. Pitt. We went on up to the gap and passed through and turned down on the other side, and here we discovered them. About two hundred yards below us was a small lake, and right out in the middle was a big buck elk standing up to his knees in the water. Near the edge of the lake were two more smaller ones, and a few yards away, lying down, was a cow and calf. It was a long shot for a .44, but a big mark. We wanted him and wanted him bad, so we decided to both shoot at him and take chances on getting one of the others, so we drew down and, taking careful aim, fired. He threw up his head and staggered and started to wade out. Bang, bang went the Winchesters, and bang, bang again. He was out to the edge now and we could see he was going to fall, so did not shoot any more, but ran down the hill to get a shot in one of the others, but too late, as they had gone. However, we were well satisfied, and went to work to dress him, which was no small job as he was as big as an ox and had horns that were grand--six on one and seven on the other, and five and one-half feet long. By the time we got through we could see very plainly it would keep us busy to get to camp before dark, so we hiked out. When we got back to the gap we turned and followed the ridge for some distance and then turned downhill and took a straight shoot for camp. We were tired and hungry, having had nothing since morning, but had fed the dogs on liver.
When we got about halfway to camp old Trailer struck a bear track and away he went, down the hill towards Fish Lake, making the woods ring. I and Bob stood and listened, hoping they might turn and tree it between us and camp, but we were disappointed, for they kept getting farther and farther and finally went out of hearing. We knew then the jig was up, so we went on to camp, arriving there a little after dark. We didn't wait long to commence getting supper, and I'll tell you right now buck meat disappeared mighty fast when we got it cooked. Bob said he never was so hungry in his life, and I believed it. [Griffin retold that story in the August 14, 1935 Medford News, below.]
Well, we were up against it now, both dogs out with a bear, and an elk and big buck to bring in. I and Bob talked the matter over and agreed there was only one thing to do, and that was one of us would have to take a horse and go hunt the dogs and the other take the pack animals and go after the elk. It was finally agreed that Bob should go after the dogs and I after the elk. Now I will acknowledge that this didn't suit exactly, but Bob argued that I knew so much better how to skin and cut up the meat that it was best for me to go; it would take him forever to do the job, etc. So I said, "All right, I'll go." But I had a pretty strong suspicion that Bob was pretty anxious to go after the dogs, for it was almost a sure shot that he would get a bear. So he saddled his horse and lit out with a caution from me not to let Trailer get hurt, at any cost. I took the pack horses and went up to where the elk was, and by the time I got him skinned and cut up in shape to pack it was 3 o'clock, which made me late getting into camp. When I arrived, however, Bob was there and had got the bear and, believe me, I was glad to see Trailer, for I was always uneasy when he was away overnight with a bear treed. The bear was a big black fellow and was literally riddled with bullets.
After supper Bob told me all about it. He went down the Fish Lake trail and followed it for several miles; then turned to the right and passed Fish Lake, then went on west around the side of Mt. Pitt and kept getting higher up until finally he came to a deep canyon. Here he listened for a long time and, hearing nothing, concluded to cross the canyon and get up on top of the ridge on the other side. He had a terrible time getting his horse down and across the canyon, which was full of brush and logs, but at last he made it, and when he struck the hill on the other side it was better going and he soon reached the top of the ridge. To his great relief and delight he heard the dogs barking steadily down below him and not over half a mile. He led his horse down the ridge down below him and not over half a mile. He led his horse down the ridge for several hundred yards, then tied him and went on to the tree afoot. Now is when he got in too big a hurry, for if there is ever a time you want to use caution it is going to a tree Mr. Bear is up, for he will come down sure as fate if there were forty dogs at the foot of the tree. This is especially so after they have been up a tree a long time. Now that is what Bob did, made too much noise, and down he came. The fight was on, and a royal battle it was, as he was up against two of the best bear dogs that ever looked up a tree. Bob ran as fast as he could to get there, and when he got in sight he said they were making it hot for him. First Trailer would grab him by the ham, and as he swung around to strike, Trailer would let go and get back out of the way and Ranger would get him. They did not know Bob was there until his gun cracked, and then Bob said it was wonderful to see them handle him without either dog getting hurt. They just literally made it so hot for him and kept him going so fast back and forth that Bob couldn't get in a dead shot, but he kept following up and ever half a chance he would shoot. They kept working down the hill and at last Bob got a bullet through his heart and the victory was won. Bob said it was impossible to describe his fight, that it had to be seen to be appreciated. For two dogs to handle a bear so that he couldn't even run downhill was simply wonderful. Bob said then, and I believe he will say so now, that Trailer was undoubtedly the best all-round bear dog in the world. For my part, I always did think that he was perfect. When we skinned the bear there were fourteen bullet holes in him, and when Bob came to examine his gun the last cartridge was gone. [Griffin retold that story in the September 6, 1935 Medford News, below.] But as good luck would have it, he had a few in his pocket, which was lucky, for as he came back just before he got to the Fish Lake trail, out jumped two big bucks, and after running a short distance stopped to look back. This settled their fate. Bang went the .44 and down went one of them with a broken neck. As the other started to run the lever went down and up and another bullet went flying after him, which caught him in the flank and, ranging forward, passed through the heart, and after running a few yards he went down.
We now had about all we could get away with, and the balance of two days was spent in getting our meat in shape to pack out, which was done in due time. When we got to the wagon we laid down one more day and went out hunting and killed two more deer. The dogs treed a brown bear and after a short chase. He was a small one, but came down the tree in spite of all I could do, for some cause or other. Ranger seized him by the head and Trailer by the ham and he went down. As he struggled to get up I struck him two blows with my tomahawk and he settled back, dead as a mackerel.
The next morning we pulled for home, arriving at noon.
And now, dear reader, I hope you will be as well pleased with this story as we were with our hunt.
The Oregon Sportsman, April 1917, page 94 This story had been printed in the Ashland Tidings, September 7, 1916, page 6.
A SOUTHERN OREGON BEAR STORYIn this story I am not going to tell you of a regular bear hunt, but am going to tell you of a few of the bears that Trailer treed, the fall that he was three years old. I say a few, for if I would tell you of every one, it would probably take up more space than the editor would feel like giving up, as he caught twenty, all told, and the last one on the day before Christmas.
By John B. Griffin, Kerby, Oregon
I was living on Griffin Creek those days, running a farm four miles from Medford, and did not have time to go out hunting very often, so Trailer got to going out of a night and treeing bears, foxes, wildcats and now and then a cougar. In the morning when I would get up I would discover that he was gone, and I generally would go out and listen and, if I didn't hear him barking, I would wait until noon and then I would saddle a horse and strike out. I would then go to the top of what we called the divide between Griffin Creek and Sterling Creek, where I could hear off either way, then I would follow along the top of the ridge and every little while I would stop and listen, and at last I would hear his bow! wow! wow! Instantly I would throw up the horn and give it a long, loud toot to let him know I was coming. The effect would be magical. Instead of the bow! wow! wow! every few minutes, he and old Lion, my old standby that helped him tree so many, would turn loose too, barking steadily and joyfully, and there was a hunter who felt pretty joyful about that time, if you believe me.
I generally rode my horse until I was within two or three hundred yards of them, then I tied him up and made my way cautiously up to near the tree. When I had discovered him, I most always approached behind a tree so that he couldn't see me. After I got close enough, I walked right out and under the tree as quickly as I could, then I had him safe. There is no danger of them coming down after you are under the tree, but, as I have said before, just as sure as a person undertakes to rush up to a tree where a bear has been up any length of time, he will come down, and then you have got a scrap on your hands. So if young bear hunters will take my advice and always be cautious about getting up to the tree, you will seldom ever get into trouble and at the same time take no chances on getting a dog killed, or, if not killed, spoiled, for any number of dogs, after having been whipped out once, will not tackle a bear the next time.
Well, as I said in the beginning of this story, that it was not an account of a regular hunting trip. I will just give you the stories of each bear he treed and the little scraps I had with a few of them. I used a .44 Winchester in those days, and although they are a back number now, we banked on them then and I feared nothing when I had my .44 with me.
The first time that Trailer ever went out on one of these night hunts was in the fore part of the fall. One morning I got up and was choring around the house and hadn't missed him, when all at once I heard the sound of his voice away off up the creek. I listened until I satisfied myself that he was at a tree, then I got the gun and started out. It was about two miles, and when I got there, lo and behold, it was a fox. I was a little bit disappointed, but Trailer was awfully tickled to see me come, so I up and shot the fox and went back home, but carried the fox along with me. Trailer walking behind, perfectly contented. I skinned the fox and stretched the hide in good shape, and I guess Trailer thought he had done something worth while, for he treed four that week. I began to think it was going to be all foxes, but one morning I got up and discovered he was gone, and after listening a while, I heard them both, away off up this same canyon where he had been treeing the foxes. My first thought was another fox, but they were barking furiously and I began to think maybe it might be something larger than a fox, so I hurried up, got my gun and lit out. There was a wagon road up this creek for quite a ways, and they sounded like they were close to the road, so I stuck to it, and, sure enough, when I got there I found them within fifty steps or less of the road, barking up a dead fir tree with hardly a limb on it, and there, only about twenty feet up, sat a big mealy nose brown bear. Gee, but I was surprised and highly elated, too, and I lost no time in shooting him out, which I did by putting a .44 bullet square between the eyes. Over he went, and the dogs piled in on him and yanked him around until I had to make them quit. I dressed him and went back home, ate breakfast and hitched up to a rig and went and loaded him in and brought him home. I took a fellow with me by the name of Maxon, and we had to take the wheels off and let the hind axle down and the bear in, then we put him forward as far as we could and raised the hind wheels up and the trick was done. This bear weighed several hundred pounds and turned out several cans of oil. The meat was fine.
I will say right now, while I think of it, that Trailer never treed another fox in that region, that I recollect of. I think he passed over the tracks, feeling they were too insignificant to bother with.
In a few days more Trailer treed another bear in the same canyon, only higher up the creek and farther up the hillside. This, too, was a large mealy nose, and I killed him without any trouble or excitement either.
Shortly after that I went up in that part of the country to try to kill a deer. I had hunted up to the head of the creek and along on the Sterling side and back over on the Griffin Creek side without seeing a deer, and was headed down a ridge for home. The ground was rather open and, happening to look off to my right about a hundred yards, there stood a big black bear under an oak tree. The boughs hung down and he had his head towards me, drooped down and looking at me. He stood a little quartering, so I pulled down and drew a bead on the point of his shoulder and let drive. At the crack of the gun, down he went, but was up and out of sight before I could shoot again. There was a brushy gulch beyond him, and by the time I got over to where he stood, he was down into that. I could hear the rustle of the brush at first, then all was quiet. I went down a short distance and could see nor hear nothing of him, so I came to the conclusion I didn't want him bad enough to go down in the brush after him, so I went back to the ridge and went down until I struck a good open place and sat down and commenced to blow the horn. By the way, I neglected to say that I had not brought the dogs with me, as I did not want Trailer to get any notion in his head of hunting deer. I sat there and kept blowing the horn for a long time, and finally I had the satisfaction of hearing Trailer answering me away off down the hill, coming. Say, my heart leaped for joy and I never thought more of Trailer than I did right then. I commenced talking to him before he got to me, and he wagged his tail and was awfully pleased to get to me. I petted him a few minutes and then I told him to come on. I went back up and, say, when he struck that bear track and smelled the blood, I think he knew what I had called him for.
Away he went, straight down the gulch into the brush, and, sure enough, there was the bear. He was hurt pretty bad and was lying down all the time Trailer was coming. I could hear the racket and know he was going down the gulch, so I ran down the ridge and pretty soon I got a little below, and I yelled at Trailer to go after him.
The fight was now in dead earnest, and Trailer was making it hot for him, as he had one shoulder broken and Trailer could easily keep out of his way. He must have heard me yell, for he left the gulch and took up and around the hillside and came up in plain sight. This was what I wanted. I caught a bead and pulled. I hit him, but he did not go down. Just then Trailer seized him by the ham, and as the bear turned to strike, he held on a little too long and he got a lick on him which sent him rolling down the hill. Before he could recover himself, the bear made a dive to grab him, but I shot again and hit him in the thick part of the neck, as I discovered afterwards. He reared straight back and fell with all heels up, but struggled to his feet again. I gave him another, and before Trailer could get to him I gave him another, and over he went and came rolling down the hill, with Trailer trying to hang on. He was dead as dead could be. He gave Trailer a mark on his hip that he carried all his life and can be seen in his picture that I have here at home now.
Well, the fight was over and the job was to get him in, which had to be done by skinning him and cutting him up. This spoiled the biggest part of the day, but we got him in just the same.
The next bear Trailer treed was away over on the Sterling side. I waited that day until about 2 o'clock before I started out to hunt him up, and it was sundown before I got to where I could hear him barking, and I had to hurry to get there in time to see the sights before it was too dark. I made it, however, and found he was up a big pine and had gone high up, from some cause or other. The dogs were probably crowding him pretty close when he struck the tree, and he wanted to get as far away from them as possible. I got around whore I could see his head and took a good rest alongside of a small pine tree, and pulled down a fine sight, square between the eyes. At the crack of the gun he came rolling out, dead as a mackerel. I hurried up and dressed him and got on my horse and struck out for home, getting there between 10 and 11 o'clock, and it was dark as pitch, so it was not all plain sailing hunting bears, you see.
The next bear Trailer caught I found him about 2 o'clock. When I discovered he was gone, I saddled up my horse and struck out the first thing in the morning, and it was well I did, for 1 rode until 2 o'clock before I got to where I heard him. This time I found him away up near the head of Griffin Creek, several miles from home. When I got to the tree, sure enough, it was a bear. Well, it was only a short job to put him out of business, as he was only up a short distance and not a very large tree at that. I shot him in the head and killed him the first shot, and he came rolling out. When I came to examine him, I found it was one of the oldest bears I had ever killed. Its nose and head had turned perfectly gray, and its teeth were all broken off, and besides that it was poor, at a time of year when it should have been fat. I let it stay right there.
One night I woke up about 2 o'clock and I heard the dogs. They were barking furiously, I can tell you. From the sound I could tell they were west of the house and across the field, which was about three-quarters of a mile wide. I knew from the way they barked that it was big game, and I could hardly wait until daylight came; in fact, before it was light I was up and off. I had fifteen shells in the gun, and as I started off I called to my sister and said, more for a joke than anything else, "if you hear me shoot fifteen times, bring me some more cartridges." I had no more idea of shooting fifteen times than anything in the world. Well, I crossed the field, and when I came to the foot of the hill, I found they were only about one-half mile up. There was a big gulch on my right, and on the left of the ridge was a smaller one. I kept up this gulch until 1 got opposite to where they were, and then turned and bore up towards the tree, keeping well out of sight, as by this time I had them located definitely, for they were both barking terrificly. When I got in sight of the tree, the first thing I saw was a big black bear, one of the largest I ever saw or ever killed in my life. The tree stood in fair, square, open ground, nearly on top of the ridge, and was an immense big fir, and he had only gone up a few feet, just enough to be well out of the reach of the dogs. I was now within about sixty yards, and I knew positively that if I undertook to get any closer, he would see me and come down, as sure as fate. I studied the matter over for a minute or so and decided to shoot anyhow and risk a fight, as the ground was good. So I pulled up on him offhand and pealed away. At the crack of the gun he reared up and clawed the air for a few seconds, and down he came and the big fight was on, and was on the steep hillside next to the big gulch. I realized now that I had been too hasty and had made a bad shot. I rushed up there as fast as I could, and they were working him so fast and furious that he hadn't made but little headway, and when I got to where I could see down, it put me within twenty-five or thirty steps of him. They had him going backwards and forwards and turning so fast that I could not get a bead on a vital part, but I lost no time in getting the Winchester into action and commenced to pour the lead into him. About the third or fourth shot he fell and the dogs piled in on him, but he was up instantly, and before old Lion could get out of the way he had him. Trailer was swinging to his ham, but he paid no attention to him. I bore down closer and strung the bullets as fast as I could work the lever, and he had to let go, and at it they went again. They had him rearing, plunging and tearing around until it seemed like I couldn't get in a dead shot to save my life. Trailer did some of the best work I ever saw him do in all my hunting, and once when I got in close he got them entirely loose. Here he came straight at me, mouth open, ears laid back and hair all up the wrong way. The dogs were both behind him, in line, and I dare not shoot, so I ran back several steps to get to a tree, but it was not necessary. They both had him in little or no time and swung him around. As they let go to get out of the way, I let drive again. Over he went, down the hill, and landed in a flat place next to the gulch and brought up in a bunch of brush. Here he regained his feet again, and, backing up so the dogs could not get around him, he stayed right there and stood them off. All they could do was to bark in his face. I got around now and crossed the gulch above and came on the other hillside above him, and thought I would take my time and shoot him in the head. It had been several minutes since I fired the last shot, and I had fired every cartridge but had not discovered the fact, but my sister at home had kept count, and when she heard the fifteenth shot she ran for her horse and was coming across the field as fast as she could. This I did not know, of course, and when I got around to where I could get a fair, square shot, I pulled up, took a good bead on the side of the head, and snap went the gun. I thought I had forgotten to load. Down and up went the lever, and snap again. I suddenly realized I was up against it. There was a good trail going down the gulch, and I lit out down this trail, but had not gone far until I saw my sister coming on a dead run. I went out and met her at the fence, took the box of cartridges and hurried back. When I got back I thought I would try one shot for the bear's heart, so I pulled in behind the shoulder and shot. I hit him square in the heart, but still he did not succumb for several minutes and I had to give him another in the head and he rolled over. The dogs were too much exhausted to even touch him, but both of them lay down and panted for a long time before they would start home. As I said before, this was one of the largest black bears I ever saw. He was coal black, with a large white spot in his breast, and rolling with fat. When we came to skin him, we found that he was literally riddled with bullets.
It took the dogs several days to get over this scrap, but they got rested up, and one morning when I got up, they were gone again. That afternoon I got on my horse and took the same old route. I followed the ridge clear back to the head of Sterling Creek, then down to Griffin Creek and down that creek and home, and no dogs. I got up the next morning and no dogs. I rode the country over that day, over in back of Jacksonville, Poor Man's Creek, and got back late in the evening, half expecting to find them at home, but in this I was disappointed. I was getting pretty uneasy now, and I lay awake a long time that night, studying the matter over. At last I made up my mind that I would go up Griffin Creek until it made the bend towards Sterling, then turn east and go up the ridge towards the head of Coleman Creek. Having decided, I was anxious for morning to come, so at daylight I had breakfast and was off. I went the route I had planned, and along about 10 o'clock I had got away up on top of the mountain. When I made the turn I stopped and listened. At first I could hear nothing, but waited, somewhat disappointed, and at last was rewarded by the sound of Trailer's voice, the old familiar bow, wow, wow. Well, now, listen to me. Hundreds and thousands, and I might say millions, remember how they felt when they heard Wilson was elected after hearing positively that Hughes had been elected. Well, multiply that feeling by ten and you will have a pretty good idea of how I felt when I heard Trailer. I was wild with joy, not so much for the sake of the game as it was to know that Trailer was safe and I was soon to set my eyes on him again.
Down the hill I went, leaving my horse, as the dogs were not a great ways off, picking my way through the brush until I struck the timber. Then it was more open. Now I blew the horn just once. Immediately both dogs began to bark joyously. I slid around the hillside mighty cautiously now, and soon I saw them at the root of a big tree, on the same side of Coleman Creek that I was on, so I moved a little closer but could see no bear. I did not know that he was on the opposite side of the tree from me, but he was, and had his head poked around the trunk. When I moved up closer, down he came, hand over fist, tearing the bark to pieces as he came. The dogs were on the upper side of the tree, and when the bear struck the ground he gathered himself and went smashing down across the creek and up the other side. Both dogs dashed down after him, but before they got to him the Winchester cracked and, to my surprise, he came heels over head and rolled over and over back down into the creek, which was dry and rocky. The dogs piled right in after him. I ran down as quickly as I could, but he was dead. As good luck would have it, in catching the bead in my hurry I had shot a little high, the bullet hitting him in the back of the neck, killing him instantly.
The first hard work I did was to take his entrails out and feed the dogs some liver, which I cut up fine for them. They did not like it very much, but ate some of it. However, as soon as I got hack to my horse I fed them, as I had brought along something for them.
This was a big cinnamon bear, and how those dogs could keep him up that long is a mystery to me, unless he had come down and been fighting them on the ground part of the time.
I will skip over the rest of them now and tell you about the bear I caught the day before Christmas. As I said before, to tell of every one Trailer caught would take up entirely too much space. But just think of two dogs staying out three days and nights! Do you wonder at me thinking the world of Trailer?
On the 24th of December there was snow, so I took both dogs with me and started out in the morning for a hunt, not expecting in the least to kill a bear, as they were all holed up long before, but I wanted a deer, and in those days it was not against the law to kill them in December. I took the dogs along in case we should run across a varmint track.
I went away off up Griffin Creek and up by what they called Miller's Flat and quite a ways up the ridge, without seeing a thing, when all at once I ran across a wildcat track. Away the dogs went, straight down the hill, across the left-hand prong of Griffin Creek, and over the hill out of hearing. I followed, and when I got down across the creek I stopped and, happening to look back up the hill, I saw a bear going along the hillside, right where I had come along. The hillside was burned off and I could see him plainly, but it was a long shot. I hauled up and sent a bullet over that way once, anyhow, just for luck, but didn't reach him, and away he went as fast as he could run. I didn't shoot any more as it would be nonsense at that distance, anyhow, so I went on up to the top of the hill, thinking as I went along what the dogs would do when I brought them back and they struck that bear track. When I got up there, I heard them down the hill a short distance, barking up a tree. I went down and, sure enough, it was a big wildcat. I shot him out, and after they yanked him around a while, I started back over the hill. I was getting mighty anxious to get back to that bear track. When I got up within thirty or forty yards of where he had gone along, both dogs broke out and, taking the track, went down around the hillside, yelping every jump. I knew they couldn't help but get him, so I thought I would take his back track and see where he came from. I tracked him back about forty yards, and there I found his den at the root of a big fir that had been burned and hollowed out. The dogs and I had disturbed him and he lay still until he thought the coast was clear, then came out to change his quarters. The dogs were soon around the point of the hill and out of hearing, so I went straight up to the top of the hill and I heard them away off, down near the right fork of the creek. I went on down to where they were, and they had him in a cave. I went up along the side of the mouth of the cave and looked in and I could see his eyes shining like two coals of fire. I pointed the gun as near between the eyes as I could and pulled the trigger, then stepped back to one side and threw another load in. When the gun cracked, both dogs went in side by side, and I suppose he must have fallen, for they came out of there backwards and each one had him by the side of the head, and he wasn't dead by a long shot. There was a big log along in front of the cave, and when he got well out, he knocked Trailer loose and gave some kind of a yank and threw the old dog over the log, but Trailer held on and hung right to him. The bear placed his feet on the log and braced himself back. This was all done quicker than it takes to tell it. I was within five feet of him and I jerked up and shot, hitting him at the butt of the ear. This finished him. He was a black bear, about three years old and very fat. We came back next day and packed him in, without having to skin him and cut him up.
Now, I hope the readers will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed the bear meat.
The Oregon Sportsman, July 1917, page 215
By John B. Griffin
Fred Barneburg was one of the good old pioneers of the Rogue River Valley and was one of the first settlers and secured valuable land near Bear Creek. In those days he and Captain John S. Miller used to kill deer where Medford now stands. Fred was known far and wide and loved to hunt better than anybody, and was a great hand to take care of meat after he had killed it. I used to hunt a great deal with Fred and Dave Miller, and it kept me pretty busy sometimes listening to them both talking at the same time, telling how they came to miss an old buck or managed to bag him.
Fred was several years older than I and used to tell around the campfire of his early hunting days and his hunts in Dead Indian and around Grizzly Peak.
I remember of him telling me of seeing two large grizzlies in mortal combat. He and his brother Aaron were camped near Hoxie Prairie, now owned by William Myers of Ashland, and went out one morning armed with muzzle-loading rifles and upon coming out of the timber to the edge of the prairie were astonished to see two large grizzlies fighting savagely. It was immense to hear Fred describe the fight. How they would rear upon their haunches and claw each other, bite and growl and roll over and over on the ground, oblivious to everything around them.
Fred was so absorbed in the fight that he could only stand and look without a thought of danger, but finally upon looking around he discovered that he was alone, his brother Aaron having turned and run for camp as fast as he could go without even calling to Fred to come. This brought him to a realization of his danger and the folly of trying to kill them, and he too turned and fled and found his brother in camp.
Grizzlies in those days were dangerous. As they were plentiful and were not hunted much, it took a man with plenty of nerve to tackle one with the old muzzle-loading rifles. Sometimes a man had to have considerable nerve to tackle one with a Winchester after those firearms began to come into use. I know this by experience--having met one in the Siskiyou Mountains once while going around the side of a hill in a fog.
We were within forty steps of each other, and he looked at me and I at him (like Davy Crockett and the jay bird), but only for a few seconds, for he doubled himself up and, rolling his hair the wrong way, commenced coming, a little sideways at first, with his head down and champing his teeth. I was in open ground and realized that I had to fight. I jerked the gun to my shoulder and caught a bead. The bullet hit him back of the shoulder and ranged quarteringly but didn't get the heart. He then threw his head around and bit at the place, and I sent another bullet just as he straightened around again and this time caught him in the fleshy part of the neck, and then he came. Gee, but he was a big one, rawboned and poor. Then the lever began to work up and down and sent a stream of lead right at his breast--but he got within twenty feet.
As good luck would have it I struck him in the left shoulder, which caused him to fall down, and as the hillside was steep, he rolled over and over down through the brush.
I lost no time in getting out of there without waiting to see if my hat was on or not. I went back the next day and took Trailer. He took the scent and followed it for about a hundred yards and found him piled up against a bush, dead. I know that Trailer was disappointed, for after smelling him over he raised his head and looked around as much as to say, "What did you want me for?" I kept him with me all of the time on that hunt, for to tell the truth, my nervous system had received a shock that it took some little time to get over. [Griffin retold this story in the Medford News of July 15, 1936, below.]
I remember another story Fred used to tell about himself and John Miller, the gunsmith of Jacksonville, shooting a big buck out near Hyatt Prairie. The buck fell near a bluff or rimrock with thick brush all along the edge. They walked to where he lay and, leaning on the muzzles of their guns, stood looking down at him and Miller counted the points on his horns and said to Fred, "He is a seven-pointer." Just then the deer began to struggle, and before they had time to think was over the bluff and gone, leaving two sadly disappointed men to mourn his loss. They had only creased him.
Another time Fred chased a big buck and, going up to him, thinking him dead, set his gun down against a tree, took out his knife and just as he took hold of a horn with his left hand the deer began to struggle. Fred grabbed the other horn with the right hand and still held the knife. He was a stout man, but that buck came near doing him, but Fred finally threw him and cut his throat.
William Mathes, of Ashland, another pioneer, used to hunt a great deal with Fred and no doubt could tell all about it. On the hunt I started to tell of, we were camped at the Walker place on Dead Indian. It was the first of November. We had hunted four or five days and killed but four or five deer, Fred especially having had very poor luck, which was new to him as he was a splendid hunter and number one shot.
I killed a deer on the east side of Dead Indian Creek the fourth day and next morning took a horse and went after it, taking Trailer with me. Fred went out across the prairie and through Sarvis Glade and then down on the benches on the west side of the creek. The canyon is deep here and rough, only now and then a place where a man can get across. When I got down to where the deer had been hung up he had been eaten slick and clean by a bear. Trailer immediately took trail and started. I tied my horse and followed, but in a short distance overtook him. He had struck a very rough and rocky place, and it had not left a scent. I sat down on a rock and waited awhile and concluded to call Fred and get Bugle, knowing that he--being a full-blooded hound and Trailer only half--could track it. I called at the top of my voice, and sure enough he answered me. I told him to turn old Bugle loose and blew the horn, and heard him start, bellowing at every jump. Sometimes he would stop to listen and I would give the horn a toot and he would come again. When he got to Dead Indian Creek he had quite a time getting across, but made it and came on up the hill. In the meantime Trailer had worked it off the rocks and was going on. As soon as Bugle got there he took the track and away they went, down across Dead Indian Creek and out of hearing. Talk about music, they fairly made the woods ring. On they went, down across Dead Indian Creek and out of hearing. I followed and found a place to cross and kept down on the west side for three or four miles and finally heard them barking up a tree--still a long way off. I blew the horn to let old Trailer know I heard him and was coming. When he heard the horn he commenced to bark steadily and kept at it until I was close to the tree. When he saw me he wagged his tail as much as to say, "I've got him."
The tree was an ordinary-sized fir, and there was thick high brush all around it, which made it difficult to see him, and while I was backing around trying to locate him he discovered me and gave a big snort and commenced to snap his teeth. I saw him then, next to the body of the tree, partially hidden by the heavy boughs. I had to move around a little to get a good place to shoot from and he commenced changing his position and snorted and champed his teeth continually--I knew he was on the fight and a hard customer.
I waited a few seconds, and when he got still and turned his head down to look at me, caught a bead and fired full in the face, expecting to hit him square between the eyes, but failing on account of shooting in too big a hurry. The bullet caught him square in the side of the head and, running around the skull, went out in the back of the neck. I saw instantly it was a bad shot and had another load in quick as a flash, as it was a sure bet he would come down now.
He came hand over fist and as good luck would have it on the side next to me. I shot again and hit him in the shoulder. He stopped now and threw his head around and bit at the place where the bullet struck him, which gave me time to load and fire again, hitting him this time behind the shoulder. This shot caused him to let go and come tumbling down to the ground with a crash, but he was up again in a second just as the dogs piled on him. As bad luck would have it, Trailer was at the head and before the bear was up had him by the side of the head, something he seldom did. I am sure he thought the bear was as good as dead or he wouldn't have done it this time.
Quicker than a flash the bear had both paws around him and crushed him down to the ground and would have crushed the life out of him in no time if it had not been for Bugle, who showed his blood right then and there, for he sprang forward with a bellow without the least sign of fear, brave old dog that the was, seized him by the side of the head and the bear went over backwards, letting go of Trailer and throwing Bugle entirely loose. By the time the dogs were up the bear was up and backing against a bush. He stood them off.
I waited for a good chance now and shot him in the head at the butt of the ear, and he rolled over. I let Bugle and Trailer go after him now to their hearts' content. He was too big to hang up, so I dressed him and straightened him around so he would drain, then started up the hill to look out a way to get the horse down to where he was. I had proceeded about three hundred yards and was going through some open timber when I noticed the dogs raise their heads and sniff like they'd caught the scent of some kind of game. I kept them back, however--thinking it might be deer--as old Bugle liked to run deer pretty well. I kept moving along up the hill, and after awhile came to the edge of a thick patch of brush and studied a minute whether to go around it or through it. I decided to go through it, and hadn't got more than twenty steps when the brush cracked in front of me, and both dogs went by me like a shot and, after running three or four hundred yards, began to bay up a tree.
I went on up to where I heard the brush crack, and there on a big log saw where an immense cougar had been lying. As there was a little snow on, I could see his track plain. I went on around the sidehill and came in on the upper side of the tree, and there he was. He standing up on the limbs looking down at the dogs just like he would just as soon spring down among them as not. I kept behind a tree until ready to shoot and then stepped out where he could see me. He had his side to me and turned his head and looked, but not for long--a bullet went crashing through his brain and he rolled out of there dead.
I knew Fred would be delighted at the part Bugle had taken in the two chases, as he had been waiting to get him after a bear for a long time, and if he had kept Trailer awhile he would have made a fine dog. I wanted to keep him, but Fred couldn't bear the idea of giving him up and I couldn't blame him, for he was certainly a fine hound. I went to camp now and got there early, but Fred did not get in until after dark. I had supper ready for him. I asked him if he had killed anything. He said he had killed two deer. I told him then about the bear eating the deer, and he got interested right away and wanted to know how Bugle performed.
It fairly took his breath away as I told him about the dogs treeing the cougar, and that it was one of the largest I ever saw. Fred had seen a great many, and he thought that part of it was a mistake. I told him we would go get them in the morning and he would see. We took the horses and went the next morning and went to the bear first and after getting him loaded we went up to near the cougar and hitched the horses and walked up to where he lay. Fred set his gun down and leaned on the muzzle and stood looking at him for some time without saying a word. "Well, what do you think of him, Fred?" "Good Lord almighty, Griffin, ain't he a monster?" Fred said this in a voice that there was no mistaking he meant every word of it, and there is no harm in stating [it] in print just as he said it, for his old friends [who] knew him well and his way of expressing himself would be disappointed with this story, which is true, if this expression were changed.
I have some of the teeth and claws of this cougar yet. I brought the hide to Ashland, also one of the feet, and if anyone has any doubt of his size ask Ed Farlow or some other oldtimer there who saw him. This was the largest cougar I ever killed and [he] no doubt had killed hundreds of deer as he ranged above the Soda Springs at the mouth of Dead Indian Creek and was an old residenter when the deer trails were as thick as sheep trails. Fred and I were at camp two weeks and succeeded in getting eleven deer and the bear.
Poor Fred! He used to like to hunt better than anybody and often told me when we were out together that he was going to hunt as long as he could see the sights and then get him a shotgun, but when he got older he thought different of it and quit it entirely and took to fishing in Rogue River, which he followed up until at last it was the cause of his death; having gone over to the river above Bybee's Bridge he waded out on the cement and suddenly stepped off into deep water and was drowned. Thus ended the life of one of Rogue River Valley's highly honored and loved pioneers.
Oregon Sportsman, January 1918, page 34
A FIGHT WITH THE "BALD-FACED" BEAR
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN, Kirby, Oregon
In this story I am going to tell of the hunt in the Fish Lake country, in the vicinity of Mt. Pitt, where we had the fight with the "bald-faced" bear, one of the most ferocious bears that inhabit the woods. This bear will often attack a hunter on sight. The grizzly will rarely attack a man unless wounded or when met unexpectedly, but you can take my word for it when a hunter meets a bald-faced bear in the woods there is going to be something doing right away. I can testify to this, as I met one once in the Siskiyou Mountains, and if I had not been pretty handy with a Winchester it is hard to tell where I would have gotten off at. But as that is another story, I will not attempt to tell it here.
On this hunt in the Mt. Pitt country I was accompanied by a friend by the name of Templeton, who I shall call "Temp" for short. We made our camp upon the banks of a beautiful mountain stream that headed near Black Butte, which is really one of the prongs of Little Butte Creek, and which empties into the Rogue River near Medford, Jackson County. This was a lovely camping place in those days, the date being way back in 1886, and as beautiful a stream of water as could be found anywhere. Clear as crystal and cold enough to make the teeth ache. It had just fall enough to make it run smooth and even, and along [its] banks, which were fringed with fir and white pine, there were small prairies with grass two or three feet high. To the north a belt of timber stretched for a mile or more, and then a large prairie opened out a mile and a half long and probably a mile wide, called Elk Prairie. To the east rose Black Butte, one of the highest in the range and nothing but a mass of lava rock. On the west stood Round Mountain, and on the north, only a few miles away, loomed old Mt. Pitt, from the summit of which one can see for hundreds of miles in every direction and can almost look down into the far-famed Crater Lake. One can look down from its lofty summit and see the Rogue River Valley to the west; to the east, Klamath Valley and the lava beds where the Modoc Indians made their last stand. You can also see Little and Big Klamath Lakes, Lake Ewauna, Fish Lake, Buck Lake, Four-Mile Lake, Twin Lakes, Tule Lake, Lake of the Woods, and other smaller lakes. In those days it was a wild country, and all kinds of game roamed the woods. There were deer, bear, elk, cougar, wolves, the big gray fellows, that feared nothing when hungry, and many others.
Well, the next morning after "Temp" and I arrived at our camp, I took my rifle and went up on the south side of the creek and hunted pretty well over to within a short distance of Lake of the Woods before I got a shot, although I had seen two or three deer and scared up several more. At length I came to the edge of a prairie and upon looking across on the extreme opposite side saw three deer, two lying own and one standing. From appearances he had just gotten up, as he was in the act of stretching himself when I first saw him. It was a long shot, and as I was in the edge of the timber out of sight, I concluded to try getting closer, as by doing so I stood a chance of getting all three of them. So I turned back into the timber and went around the prairie until I thought I had gotten about far enough, then I swung in toward the prairie again. I had to be very cautious now, and as I was moving slowly along I discovered a large log lying near the edge of the prairie and I thought if I could get up to it without giving the deer a scare I would be close enough. I sat down and peeled off my shoes and slipped on a pair of moccasins that I carried in my pocket and then worked my way up to the log and very cautiously raised up and looked. Sure enough, the deer were still there, but another one had arisen and had walked on a few yards and was rubbing his head against a small tree. This was a three-pointer, the other a seven-pointer, and the one still lying down, a spike. I was now within about forty yards. I made up my mind to shoot the big one first and take chances on getting the other two. I knew if they undertook to cross the prairie I could shoot at least one of them. I placed the gun across the log and drew a fine bead on the neck of the big one and blazed away. At the crack of the gun he went all heels up and the other deer whirled round. As he stopped to look, the Winchester cracked again and he sprang high into the air, ran a short distance and fell. By this time the little one was up and going out across the prairie in a fast trot. This was easy. The lever went down and up, I caught a bead and followed him along a few yards and fired. Into the air he went and broke and ran at a terrific pace about forty yards and fell heels over head. I dressed and hung them up the best I could and started on again, going in a southwest direction toward the Fort Klamath road. I had probably gone a mile or more when I saw a yearling deer standing and looking at me not over thirty yards away. This was exactly what was wanted for camp meat. I took careful aim, and at the crack of the gun he went down. I fixed him up in shape to pack and started to camp. I knew there was no time to fool away in getting to camp before dark, so I headed to try and strike the trail we came in on and did so in due time, but found myself farther away from camp than I supposed, as I had been traveling through heavy timber in practically a level country. I came very near hanging the deer up and leaving it, but thoughts of venison steak for breakfast impelled me to stay with it. Finally the sun went down, and as it was getting along toward dark it became very lonesome. To make it more so, I heard the long dismal howl of a gray wolf, which sound had a tendency to send the cold chills up and down a fellow's back, but on listening a second or two I heard no answering howl, I felt better and hiked on a little more lively. I was about a half or three-quarters of a mile from camp when I heard a slight noise, off to one side and back of me. I was on the alert and turned quickly with my gun ready. I had the deer swung over my back so that my arms were both free. In this position I was surprised to see a large cougar within fifty steps. Realizing that they are the most dangerous animal that roams the woods, my Winchester came to my shoulder quicker than lightning. When the animal saw that he was discovered he half crouched and looked straight at me. I caught a bead between the eyes and fired. I saw him roll over and started to go where he lay, but changed my mind very suddenly, for I was sure I heard the brush crack a little farther away. So I threw the deer down and lit out for camp in a hurry and commenced to blow the horn. In a short time, to my intense relief, I met "Temp" coming with the dogs. We hurried back and it was only a few moments until the dogs had another one up a tree. As it was pretty late we both shot to make sure, and the animal came tumbling down with two bullet holes behind the shoulders. It was so late now that we could do nothing with them, so we left them there and took the deer into camp. We went to bed early that night, for we knew that we had a hard day's work before us in getting the deer and cougars in and taking care of them. I didn't sleep very well, however, for every time I thought of that confounded cougar it would cause the cold chills to run up and down my back.
The next morning I went up to where the cougars were and skinned them while "Temp" got the horses and breakfast ready. After breakfast we started out to go and get the deer I had killed the day before. When we arrived we tied the horses up and went over toward Black Butte to hunt awhile before starting back to camp. We had the dogs with us this time--"Trailer" and "Ranger"--two of the best dogs on earth, and it wasn't long until they struck a bear track and went to work on it. He had been wandering around turning over rocks and tearing logs to pieces looking for worms and ants. At length, however, the dogs got him "strung out," and away they went. "Temp" and I pulled for high ground. We could hear them going west toward camp, and were in hopes they would overtake and tree him near there. But we were doomed to disappointment, as they turned to the right and swung around the side of Black Butte and out of hearing. This led us to believe the bear would cross Butte Creek and that he would tree on the west side of the mountain. The only thing we could do now was to go back and pack up our deer and take them to camp, and then go hunt up the dogs and bear, for we had no fear that the dogs would not tree him. We arrived at camp about 1 o'clock and after eating a "bite" took a saddle horse each and went out across Elk Prairie and crossed Little Butte at Fish Lake ford and spent the balance of the afternoon around the side of Mt. Pitt, but without success, and had to go back to camp without finding them. It was now too late to do anything, so we had to be content to wait until morning.
We were up bright and early the next day and had breakfast before daylight and was off as soon as we could see to travel. This time we steered straight for the top of Round Mountain, feeling sure that we could hear the dogs from that elevation. After an hour or so of hard climbing we arrived at the summit and after listening some time were very much disappointed at not hearing a sound. We went on down the mountain a few hundred yards where we could see all over the country and stopped and listened again, but still no sound of the dogs and the bear. I told "Temp" that perhaps they had been at the tree so long they were not barking and I would blow the horn, and if "Trailer" heard it he would bark. So I raised the horn and blew it loud and long, and as the sound reverberated and died away, we heard "Trailer" answer. "Temp" jumped straight up and almost yelled, but I told him to keep cool until we got them located and then there would be plenty of time to be jubilant. I blew the horn again and both dogs answered joyfully. We started down the mountain toward them, but "Temp" was so eager I could hardly restrain him from running. It was nearly a mile down to where they were, and when we got close enough so there was no danger of scaring the bear, I checked "Temp" and we slipped along as noiseless as possible until we could see the dogs at the roots of the tree. Keeping out of sight until we got close to the tree, we walked out and under the tree as quickly as possible. Now let bruin come down if he wants to and we will make it hot for him. But no, he had no intention. There he sat at unconcerned as if he was in the securest place on earth--a big brown fellow, a genuine mealynose. The dogs were wild now and tore around the tree barking savagely. "Shoot him, 'Temp,'" I said. "No, sir," says "Temp," "he's too big for me." "All right, then, I'll shoot him," I said. "But I'm going to shoot him in the head, and you'll be ready so if I make a miscue, we will commence pouring bullets into him, for it won't do to ever let him get down alive." I walked back a few paces and pulled up off hand, and at the crack of the gun he rolled out of the tree just like he had been hit in the head with a sledgehammer and came tumbling down through the limbs and was dead when he reached the ground. Both dogs piled onto him, and we let them shake him as long as they wanted to, for they had been waiting a long time for the pleasure.
I sent "Temp" back after the horses while I prepared the bear for packing. "Temp" brought back some venison for the dogs, and the way it disappeared proved that they were certainly hungry. It was late when we got back to camp. This was the third day, and "Temp" had not succeeded in killing anything, and of course felt somewhat disappointed. I proposed we go over to Fish Lake the next day and fish, but "Temp" said "No, we must have an old buck." As we had seen lots of signs on Round Mountain, he said he would hunt up there, so the next morning off he went, leaving me in camp to look after the meat, after which I saddled up a horse and went over to Fish Lake, taking the gun and dogs along, although I didn't intend to hunt, and let the dogs go along simply because they wanted to. This proved to be very fortunate as it turned out, for there was more excitement in store for "Temp" and me that day than we ever dreamed about. "Temp" told me afterwards that when he got about halfway up the mountain he struck a big buck track and, after he had followed it awhile, found where it had gone down into a basin on the side of the mountain. Now, of course, he knew it was useless to follow it in there as it was very brushy and the deer would go on out on the other side if he was disturbed and that would be the end of the hunt for this big one. So he decided to go up on the rimrock above where he could see over. This was accomplished in a short time and selecting a favorable place he sat down and looked over the basin a long time, when all of a sudden he saw the top of a bush shake. Pretty soon he saw the bush shake again. He was sure now that it was a deer browsing, but kept still and watched a few moments longer, and then the point of a horn came into sight. He was getting impatient now and concluded to take a chance shot. So he pulled down and drawing a bead about where he thought the head ought to be, fired but missed. Up came the deer's head, and bang went the gun again--another miss. Away went the buck crashing through the brush and "Temp" stringing bullets after him, but missing all the time. At last the deer emerged into the open and he got a bullet into him. The buck turned quartering down the hill now, and "Temp" ran along the rimrock above and every time a chance presented would shoot. The deer, however, finally got out of sight entirely, and after following it for a long time he had to give it up and start for camp so he could get "Ranger" and go back and get him. He examined his gun and ammunition and found that he had but two shots left. When he arrived nearly at Elk Prairie, where the Fish Lake trail comes from the lake, he happened to look off to the left and saw what he thought was a big black bear coming along the trail directly toward him. The bear had his head down and had not discovered "Temp." The hunter pulled the gun up and, catching a bead, pulled the trigger--the gun snapped. "Temp" had forgotten to reload. He threw in a shell and the noise attracted the bear, and it was then that he saw its white face. All the stories that he had ever heard about the ferocious "bald-faced" bear flashed through "Temp's" mind instantly, and the first hard work he did was to run for a tree and commence to climb, leaving his gun on the ground. The bear came straight on and when he got close to the tree drew himself up like a wild boar and champed his teeth. This act struck terror to the heart of "Temp," and he commenced to yell like a good fellow in hopes that I would hear him and come to his relief.
The bear did not offer to leave. He reared up and looked up at "Temp" and then dropped down on all four and walked around the tree, again sitting up on its haunches and looking up at "Temp" in a way that made the cold chills run up his back one after the other. "Temp" kept yelling like a madman. He told me afterwards that he thought he was up in that tree about two hours, when it was really only about twenty minutes. As good luck would have it, I had poor luck fishing, and was on my way back to camp, when just as I emerged from the timber and was entering Elk Prairie, I heard "Temp." I did not realize for a few seconds what it was, but after stopping my horse I knew it was "Temp," and "lit out" as fast as the horse could travel with the dogs galloping along behind. I got within a hundred yards or so, when all at once old "Trailer" and "Ranger" dashed past me and went like the wind down the edge of the prairie and dived into the woods. In a minute or two I heard a terrific racket and heard "Temp" yelling: "Go after him, Trailer." Soon out dashed a big "bald-faced" bear--and the fight was on. Before the bear got far, "Trailer" and "Ranger" had him by the hams and instead of swinging around he dropped down on his haunches and aimed to rear back. Just then, however, old "Lion" got there and made a spring and caught him by the side of the head. The next instant the bear gave him a swipe and sent him rolling about fifty feet. The bear swung back then to knock the other two dogs loose, but they were too foxy for him and let go and got out of the way. He made a dash at the dogs but old "Lion," a fighter from way back, got there and seizing him by the ham, gave him a yank that stopped him. The dog then let go and got out of the way again. The dogs now came at the bear in a manner that would have made a movie machine work overtime. I rushed in to where "Temp" was to see what had happened to him and found him just getting down out of the tree. He grabbed up his gun. I jumped down off the horse, tied him to a bush, ran my hand down into my pocket, grabbed out four shells, all I had loose, and gave them to him. He shoved them into the magazine of his gun and ran out to the edge of the prairie. The bear and dogs were out in the open fifty yards or more, and the fight was raging fast and furious. It was a great sight to witness. As long as a dog did not get hurt, we had to wait for a chance to get in a shot. So we stood ready. I knew when old "Lion" heard the gun crack he would take hold of the bear if he was as big as a mountain. It was not long until the bear made a dash at "Trailer," and old "Lion" came on full tilt to get him by the ham. But the bear had got "onto the racket" by this time and turned back suddenly and caught "Lion" by the tail as he was trying to get out of the way. I said, "Shoot," and "Temp" sent a bullet crashing into bruin's shoulder. I tried for the head but hit low down and broke the bear's lower jaw. "Lion," as usual, when he heard the guns crack, sprang up and caught the bear by the side of the head. The bear threw his paw around him and sank right down on him. We were sure that he was going to chew the dog to pieces. I did not know then that I had broken his jaw. We ran up several steps and began pouring the lead into him. Pretty soon "Temp's" gun snapped. He was out of the fight again. However, we had the satisfaction of seeing the old dog slide out from under the bear. I was now within a few steps of bruin and with all those bullets in him he still made a desperate attempt to come at me. But both "Trailer" and "Ranger" were at his hams, and he was wallowing around and trying to get at them. Then I sent a bullet crashing into his brain and he rolled over dead.
Poor old "Lion" was so badly used up he could hardly get to camp, but "Trailer" and "Ranger" were in fine shape and ready for another battle. "Temp" said he never was so tickled in all his previous life as he was when "Trailer" and "Ranger" dashed in and tackled that bear. We went to camp, and after eating, "Temp" took "Ranger" and went back after his buck. He was so anxious to get him that he could not wait. As soon as he got to the track, "Ranger" soon had the deer bayed. "Temp" followed him up and shot the deer in the head.
The next day we got the bear and the deer in and went a part of the way home. The next day we arrived home for dinner--and the hunt was over.
My next story will be entitled, "The Dropped-Horned Buck." I would appreciate receiving a postal card from every reader of The Sportsman who enjoys reading these stories.
Oregon Sportsman, April 1918, page 76 This article was reprinted in the Medford Clarion of December 21, 1923. Griffin retold this story in the July 5, 1935 Medford News, below.
October 2, 1932 Portland Sunday Oregonian
On the Trail of the Club Foot Bear
A Story of Big Game in the Cascade and Siskiyou Ranges
When Elk, Deer, Bear and Big Timber Wolves Roamed
the Forests Practically Undisturbed
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
AS THIS is the first story I have written for Forest and Stream, I will just say for the benefit of the readers that these stories are written from actual experiences in hunting big game for over twenty years in the Cascade and Siskiyou Range, when elk, deer, bear, and big timber wolves were roaming the forest practically undisturbed except by myself and dogs. During half of this time I had with me Trailer, who was supposed to be, and no doubt was, one of the best bear and cougar dogs on earth. He often treed two cougar in one day, and three and four bear in one day, a feat that is seldom done by any dog, and this he often did alone, without a helper. These facts are well known by any amount of people in Southern Oregon. As it is claimed that a cougar will kill on an average of fifty deer a year, it will be easy to see that Trailer saved the lives of a great number of deer to say the least.
I never allowed Trailer to run deer, only when wounded; and you can believe me when I tell you that whenever I drew blood, and sent Trailer after a deer, I was sure to get it. And when Trailer struck a bear or cougar track that was fresh it was nearly a sure shot that it would be climbing a tree in a short time.
In those days I used to go on hunting trips of several days' duration, taking along pack horses, and often had to dry or jerk the meat, as it would be too heavy to pack in fresh. Often I went alone, but at times I was accompanied by some friend who wished to take an outing. On the hunt that I intend telling you about in this story I had with me a man by the name of Templeton, who had never hunted big game before, but who afterwards became quite a hunter and was with me on a number of occasions when we had to handle our Winchesters pretty lively. He was a very excitable man, as you will find out when you read this story. I will call him Temp for short, as that is what I always called him in those days.
I had heard of an immense grizzly that was ranging in the region around Mt. Pitt. Occasionally it would take a stampede and get over in the Buck Lake country and kill a few sheep and sometimes a cow, or a big steer, and then hike back to his old stamping ground north of Four Mile Lake, and would not show up in that locality for quite a while again. The sheep belonged to a man named Reddick, who tried all kinds of plans to trap him, but the old scamp was too foxy to be trapped. He probably had been in a trap before, as he had a crippled foot and made a peculiar track which gave him the name of the Club Foot Bear.
I received a letter from Reddick offering me one hundred dollars if I would come and kill the bear. At the time he wrote Old Club Foot had swooped down and killed a big four-year-old steer and he wanted me to come at once. So Temp and I started out one morning with our outfit of horses and dogs, Trailer and Ranger, and before noon the next day we landed at Reddick's camp on Buck Lake Prairie where the steer had been killed.
That afternoon he went with us and showed us where the steer lay. The bear had not been there for a day or two; however, we could follow his tracks and found he had gone north toward Black Butte [Brown Mountain]. The trail led us through a big burn for three or four miles where it was easy to follow, but after a while we struck the timber and brush. Then it was all off, and we went back to camp.
After holding a consultation with Reddick, we came to the conclusion that he had gone back to his old range. So the next morning we packed up and struck out for Four Mile Lake, at the foot of old Mt. Pitt, and the hunt was on for the trail of the Club Foot Bear. Our route lay through a level timber country for several miles, as we avoided the high hills and swung in by Lake of the Woods, and that night made our camp on Grouse Creek, where the grass was high as a horse's back and huckleberries grew by the bushel. The next day we laid over and took a scout out around the side of old Mt. Pitt, east of camp, but failed to find any sign of the Club Foot Bear.
I told Temp that probably he was taking it easy and it would be three or four days before he would get back to his old range probably. As there were lots of huckleberries on the hill east of camp, we concluded to give the bear a round-up for a few days, and then go on one and make another camp near where the old Club Foot ranged. So next morning we were off bright and early. I took Trailer with me, and took a route nearly northeast from camp, and Temp went nearly east, which would put him on the lower side of the hill from me, as we thought that would be the best thing to do in case Trailer should start a bear. The country was covered with open pine timber, with scattering bush all through it, and was an ideal place for deer. I had not gone more than two miles from camp when out jumped two big bucks within forty steps of me and bounded off through the timber. The Winchester came to my shoulder in double quick time, and catching a bead behind the shoulder of the one that was in the lead, I pumped away and had the satisfaction of seeing him spring high in the air, run a few yards and fall. This disconcerted the other one, and after running a short distance he stopped to look back. This was easy, as it was only about seventy-five yards. I caught the bead and fired, and down he went with a bullet a little high behind the shoulder. One was a six-pronged buck and the other nine on one and ten on the other. I dressed them, hung them up as best I could and started on and had gone no more than half a mile when Trailer struck a bear track that was fresh, and away he went, yelping at every jump. I followed slowly along, thinking perhaps he would overtake and tree it near where Temp was, as it went in that direction.
I COULD hear him going, going, for quite a while, and finally he passed over a ridge and out of hearing. I stood still and listened a while, and then started on down in that direction. All of a sudden I heard him again, this time coming back towards me. I got up on a log now and waited. I could hear him coming nearer, nearer, all the time, and in a minute I saw the bear coming just as straight as a line right to me. When he got up to within one hundred yards, Trailer had got near enough so that he was in sight of him. Now he quit barking and came on like the wind to overtake him. It was a pretty sight to see them come. The big black fellow lumbering along straight to his doom, as he was close enough now so that I could fill him full of bullets before it would be possible for him to get away especially with a dog behind him that had never failed to get his game, and was gaining on him at every jump. On he came and as he got closer I held my gun on him ready for pull the trigger if he ever made a turn. But he did not know that I was there and just as he got up and was pausing within ten steps of me Trailer overtook him, and, making a lunge, caught him by the ham and gave him a yank. Around he went, and struck viciously at Trailer, but the dog let go and got out of the way. The bear turned to go, and Trailer came full tilt to get him again. Just then I fired and he sank right down in his tracks. Trailer was coming so fast that he lit on top of the bear's back, and grabbing hold, commenced to shake at him, but old Bruin was done for and the scrap was over.
But another was coming which I little dreamed of when I was dressing this bear, which did not take long. I picked up my gun and started down the slope thinking that perhaps I would run across Temp down in that direction. In this I was not mistaken, for I had not gone more than a mile when, bang, went a gun off to my right. I threw up the horn which I always carried and gave it a toot, and I heard Temp hollering for me to come. I sent Trailer and followed up as fast as I could, and when I got there I found Trailer and Temp at the foot of a big fir; upon looking up the tree I saw two cub bears, one about halfway up, and the other away near the top. He told me that he had shot at the old one and missed, and he said she was a big brown one. He was awfully excited and was in for shooting them out without any ceremony, but I cautioned him not to be in a hurry, for I knew that in his present excitement he couldn't hit a barn door. So he waited a while but finally got so eager to shoot that I told him to go ahead.
But I warned him--"Let me tell you something, Temp. If you make a bad shot on them cubs and cause one of them to squall we will have a fight on our hands just as sure. For the old one will come just as sure as she hears."
He said he didn't care; he wanted to kill them. He had never killed a bear in his life.
"All right," I said. "Go to it."
He pulled up to shoot, and I saw he was shaking like a leaf, so I said, "Hold on, Temp. Wait until you get over that." But he paid no attention and bang went his gun, and the cub commenced to squall. I called to him to look out, and ran over to a tree about thirty steps away, and stopped with my gun ready. We did not have long to wait, for she came sure enough, and like a cyclone. Trailer met her just as she dashed into the opening, straight for Temp. She passed the dog, but he was too quick for her, and sprang at her, seized her by the ham, swinging her clear around, and let go to get out of her way. Just then I shot, striking her in the shoulder, breaking it. By this time Temp had got turned around and got his gun into action, putting a bullet through her body. Trailer kept working on her hams, and we kept pouring the bullets into her until she rolled over. Temp now had only four cartridges left, and commenced to shoot at the cubs, but missed every time. I was going to shoot them out then, but he begged me to let him have my gun, as he had never killed a bear. So I gave him my gun, and after shooting eight times he brought them down at last and was happy.
We now had four bear and two bucks on our hands, so we had a job of packing in the next morning. During this time Temp killed a five-point buck and it took all that day to get them in and skin them and two days more to get the meat jerked so we could handle it. Then we sacked it and hung it in trees where it would be safe until we came back, for we were on the trail of the Club Foot Bear, and were bound to give him a round before we quit.
WE BROKE camp the next morning and landed at Four Mile Lake at noon. There we met with two hunters who told us they had just come through from the head of Red Blanket and had seen elk signs near Summit Springs as they came along, but being short on provisions, they did not stop to hunt them up. This set Temp wild as he had never seen an elk, and as this was in the vicinity of where the Club Foot Bear ranged, it was just what we were looking for. So after dinner we set out, and after traveling a few hours we came to a nice place where the grass was high as the backs of our horses, and nice running water; an ideal place to camp, under a large spreading maple tree. We spent the balance of the day fixing up the camp, as we did not know how long we would be there; for we were in a country where big game abounded, and where seldom a white man had ever trod. So we intended to make the most of it while we were there.
I told Temp we would start out in the morning and go in different directions to size up the country and get an idea of how the ground lay; for it might be of great benefit to us in case we had to follow a bear that would not climb. So next morning I struck out through the timber in a northwest direction and Temp bore off about north or northeast.
I hiked along through a level timbered country for perhaps two miles, when suddenly I came to a small prairie of perhaps four or five acres, and on the opposite side the hills showed up and the timber was scattering, with thick patches of buckhorn brush. I had seen a number of deer tracks as I came along, but had seen no game that was worth shooting at, so I made up my mind that I would go across the prairie and take up the mountain on the other side. So I started out and as soon as I got in the open ground I began to see elk tracks. Before I got to the other side of the opening I saw great holes pawed out where they had been lying and big trails leading out into the timber. I followed one of these trails for about two hundred yards, when all at once I saw where a big band of elk had come in to the trail and gone on up the hill. It was no trouble to follow them, so I hurried on after them, feeling sure they were making for some high ground on account of flies, which were very bad in the open prairie. I could tell by the tracks that they were taking it easy, as now and then they would nearly all be out of the trail feeding on browse, but it would not be long until they were back in the trail, and going again. Finally the trail led me out of the timber onto a ridge that was covered by low buckhorn brush. I followed up this ridge for probably a mile, then they turned down around the side of the hill and crossed a deep gulch and on over the next ridge. As I approached the top I was very cautious, and stood and looked a long time, but there was not an elk anywhere to be seen.
I NOW went on across this gulch and climbed up to the top of the next ridge. Here they had scattered around some and worked along up the ridge for a short distance and turned down again. In front of me the brush was high so I could not see across on the opposite side, so I kept on up for sixty or seventy-five yards to where the short buckbrush was, and upon looking over, there on the opposite side just above the edge [of] the thick brush stood an immense bull elk, not over one hundred yards from where I stood, and not another elk in sight.
Say, believe me, that was a sight that made my heart leap for joy, for in those days I was a dead shot and did not have a thought that he could get away. He held his head straight up with his big horns back astride of his shoulders, and they were big ones too. If you will believe me, there were seven on one and eight on the other. I thought to myself, as I thought a great many times when my dogs were fighting a bear, how many there were who would give a thousand dollars to stand where I stood and have the chance that I did to kill that elk--it would have been worth the money.
It was a big mark, but I drew my bead carefully behind the shoulder and pulled. At the crack of the gun he lunged forward. The Winchester cracked again and another bullet went crashing through him, but it was not really necessary. The first had done its work, passing square through the butt of the heart, and he reeled and fell, never to rise again. But down below the brush was thrashing and crashing, and the whole band was tearing down the canyon toward the timber at a tremendous rate.
I ran down a few yards and got sight of one of the hind ones, and bringing the gun to my shoulder I caught a bead and fired. The elk was out of sight in little or no time, but when I went down I found blood. I followed up and after a while it left the bunch and took off to itself, and I concluded to go back and take care of the one I had. It was a big job to take his entrails out and get him in shape, but I got through within due time and started to camp. It was a long hike and the sun was down before I got halfway. I was hurrying to get to camp when I suddenly heard the long lonesome howl of a big gray wolf. I listened a minute and not hearing an answering howl I hurried on again. In a few minutes I heard him again and far back. I was sure now that he was following me, as my shoes had gotten bloody from the elk. I began to study what to do, for I knew if he followed along like that others might fall in, and it would place me in a dangerous position, as the only chance would be to climb. I was thinking fast as I hiked along when I happened to look out to one side and saw a large tree that had fallen, and the point lay the way I was going. I hurried and went a little past the top, then ran back and walked back to the butt of the tree, which lay high off from the ground, and waited.
I looked to see that the cartridges were in the barrel and, dropping the muzzle of the gun, I stood ready with my thumb on the lock and my finger on the trigger. I did not have to wait long for he soon came in sight, a long, lanky fellow, trotting slowly along, and every few yards [he] would stop and stick his nose in the air and give a long mournful howl, then he would listen, but no answer came. I was listening too. Then on he would come. I could have shot him, but did not want to take any chances on missing him, for he had to pass in thirty steps if he stuck to my tracks. Closer and closer he came, and when within fifty yards I could hardly resist the temptation to shoot, but smothered it and waited. Now he was in forty yards and stopped. He did not howl this time, but stood a few seconds and listened, then came on. Just as he got opposite me he stopped and sitting back on his haunches gave me one of the most dismal, hair-raising howls I believe I ever heard. While his nose was in the air I brought the gun up and drew a fine bead on his head; and just as he started up, while the sound was still reverberating through the woods, I pressed the trigger. The bullet caught him just at the butt of the ear and over he went with feet straight in the air for a few seconds, then commenced to kick around lively for a while and straightened out dead.
I WENT over and took a look at him, and lit out for camp, arriving a little bit after dark, tired and hungry. Temp had been there quite a while and had supper ready, but was very much excited. He had run across the track of the Club Foot Bear and was so eager to tell me all about it that [he] did not think to ask me if I had killed anything. So while we ate he told me how he had been traveling through the woods and came to a prairie covered with high grass, and near the middle he ran onto a spring or hole of water, and there had been a bear there only a short time before, as the water was still muddy. When he went on out he left a trail of water and mud for a short distance, and then Temp could see his track plain, and it was sure enough the track of old Club Foot. Right there and then Temp turned back as he had no desire to come in contact with a grizzly, for he had heard they were ferocious beasts and would fight at the drop of a hat. I told him this was a fact as I had tried them, but that is another story.
He was right in for starting out the next morning. But I told him we couldn't do that as I had another job on hand. He wanted to know what it was, and was astonished when I told him about killing the elk and wolf and wounding another elk. I told him we would take the horses and dogs and go to where the big buck was, and leave the horses and take the track of the wounded elk and follow it up. This suited Temp fine, for he stood as good a chance to get a shot in as I did.
In the morning we saddled up, taking five head of horses, and arrived about nine o'clock where the big elk lay. We tied our horses up and took up the trail of the elk. When the dogs smelled the blood they were eager to go, but I wasn't ready yet. I had Temp put a string on Ranger and keep him back, then I let Trailer slow track the elk for a long way across gulches and over ridges and finally we came to where he had been lying down, but was up and gone. We followed to the top of a ridge and upon looking down discovered that the gulch was very brushy, so I decided to let the dogs go; but before I did so I sent Temp back down the ridge with orders to shoot like the dickens if it came his way. I waited so as to give him plenty of time to get there, then I slipped the rope off Ranger's neck and told them to go. And away they went down into the head of the gulch, and I heard the brush begin to crash, and away went the elk down the mountainside, and both dogs right after it, yelping at every jump.
Temp heard them coming and was on the alert. He did not have long to wait as the elk soon came by on the opposite side of the gulch, and old Temp began to string bullets after it, and as luck would have it hit it once so that the dogs soon overtook it and then the fight commenced.
I ran down the hill as fast as I could and overtaking Temp we hurried on down and soon came in sight. And such a sight! To see two of the finest trained bear dogs, almost, on earth, fighting a wounded elk. It was simply wonderful the way those dogs would get around and seize it by the ham, and get out of the way of its hoofs. I will not try to describe it, but will say that after we had stood and watched them quite a while I told Temp to watch his chance and put a bullet behind its shoulder and end it, which he did, and the fight was over.
I sent Temp back after the horses while I skinned it and got it ready to pack. It was only a two-year-old, and we packed it on two horses. When we got to the other one it took us quite a while to get it ready, but we finally got it loaded and racked out for camp. We did not bother about the wolf and arrived at camp just about dark, hungry as wolves, and happy as clams.
TEMP wanted to start right out the next morning after old Club Foot, but I said, "No, we are going to cut this meat up and salt it tomorrow and let the dogs rest up, and the next day we will go." I told Temp if he thought we were going to have a picnic when the dogs got after old Club Foot he was badly mistaken, as I was sure he would put up a great fight and we would have to get a good ready on. Well, we stayed in camp all next day. Got the meat all cut up and salted, and the next morning filled the Winchesters with cartridges, our pack sacks with grub and were off.
It took about an hour to get to the prairie where Temp had seen the sign and upon going out to the wallow we found he had been back. Trailer and Ranger took up the scent and were off pell-mell after him, and the chase was on; out across the prairie and up the hill on the other side and over the hill and out of hearing. We hiked out for high ground, and when we got up on top we could hear them away down below us, and we could tell by the sound of their voices that they had overtaken him, and the fight was raging fast and furious. I told Temp to go straight down the ridge until he got entirely below them and wait. Temp lit out on a run, and after waiting a while I struck out and in probably twenty minutes I was close enough to shoot, but could not see them on account of brush. I kept moving up closer and closer when all at once I heard old Club Foot go crashing through the brush down the hill toward the creek. I ran now as fast as I could in hopes of getting to see them as they went up the hill on the opposite side, and sure enough up he came after stopping at the water a few minutes, with both dogs going after him savagely. First one would catch him by the ham, but as he swung round to deliver a blow the dog would let go and get out of the way, and the other dog would do the same. Now was the time for me to get in my work, and the Winchester began to crack. Once, twice, three times, down he went, and the dogs piled in on him. But he was up in no time and scattered them right and left. Just then I heard Temp's gun begin to crack and down the hill came bear, dogs and all, straight toward me. I began to pour the lead into him, as it was evident now that he was going to try to get to me. I called to Temp to give it to him, and as he was above him he could do good execution. But down in the creek he came, and as he climbed the bank I commenced to put bullets into his breast, and he rolled back and began to chew the bushes, and soon rolled over dead.
TEMP was literally wild with delight and hugged first one dog and then the other, declaring over and over that they were the best on earth. All we could do now was to take the hide and head of the bear, which we proceeded to do, leaving the feet on the hide to show that it was really the Club Foot Bear.
This wound up our hunt, and I will say to the reader if you wish to see some of the teeth out of the mouth of old Club Foot, and also the horns of the elk, come to my house near Kerby in Southern Oregon, and I will show them to you.
Forest and Stream, January 1919, page 3
John B. Griffin, the hunter who lives in the Dead Indian country in the Cascades east of Ashland, brought in a wagonload of fine, fat venison last Saturday and sold it readily at eight cents per pound. It is seldom that an elk is seen now in this part of Oregon, but Mr. Griffin killed a big buck elk recently on Little Elk Creek which dressed about 800 pounds. His antlers were six-pointers, and have a majestic spread. An eight-pointed buck of the common blacktailed deer, killed the other day by Mr. Griffin, dressed 189½ pounds--about as large as they are ever reported.
To the Editor of Forest and Stream:
By James H. McCool.
If a worldwide popularity contest for animals could be held it is probable--most people would say certain--that the race for first place would narrow down to two quadrupeds, the dog and the horse. These have been man's friends since the dawn of civilization and still are his closest companions among all the dumb creatures. Perhaps in no other field has the intimate relationship between a man and his dog or horse been so marked as in hunting.
"You can learn much if you will listen to the advice of your dogs and horses," says John B. Griffin, old-time grizzly bear hunter of the Rogue River Valley. "My favorite hunting horse was a tan nag with a black mane, tail and leggings. Dan was short and stubby, tough and smart. He was as fond of listening to the dogs baying on a chase as I was. I had many hunting horses, but none was Dan's equal. He was steady to shoot from, could be ridden right into a fight with a hot, scrapping bear. I have loaded not only the dead carcasses of bear on his back, but very often I have bound live, squirming, bawling bear cubs to his saddle.
"Dan had the ability to put his ideas across. On a hunt he had the liberty of the camp range. At the crack of day he was as regular as an alarm clock in routing me out. He would wake me by pushing the covers away and nuzzling my face. And no matter how tired and sleepy I might have been, Dan's attentions never vexed me. I always recognized his friendly call with an extended hand on his warm nose.
"It would be easy to tell you that Dan was attempting to say, 'Crawl out, old man, it's time to be out hunting.' But I fear, however, that he really was asking a question, 'How much oats and camp bread for breakfast this morning?'
"And many a night, far from camp, lost, and feeling our way down the side of a cliff or mountain, old Dan would refuse to go my way. I knew what insisting on my own way might mean, all right--a drop over a precipice maybe. Dan could see in the dark, while I couldn't. Consequently when Dan stopped short I was willing to admit he was right and would immediately begin to hunt another route to camp.
"Many times I have been crestfallen and ashamed for failing to understand what my dogs have tried to teach me. I had a very valuable shepherd dog, of a high-strung, sensitive and affectionate nature. He was the camp watch and was always left at liberty around the camp in the daytime. However, I kept him under leash at nigh. He had a sharp and piercing ark, which when continued, irritated me, while a drone of a score of hounds barking in chorus at the moon might simply lull me to sleep.
"This shepherd was easily controlled. Just a word to him was usually sufficient. Pitching camp one night, I leashed him to a hollow oak tree. As soon as I was comfortably wrapped in the blankets Shep began to bark. He paid no attention to my commands to quit. Scolding and threatening was of no avail. I got up, gave him a terrible beating and went back to bed.
"Shep began to bark frenziedly again. I completely lost my temper, a thing one should never do with animals. However, I had hunted all day and was tired. I got up with the intention of beating the dog to death. As I approached his tree there was a sudden calm. In the glare of the smoldering campfire I noted a smile of greeting on Shep's face. And then I stopped dead, cold shivers running through me, as I heard another sound above Shep's low growling, the deadly hum of a mountain rattler. In fact there were two rattlers, as I soon saw, sticking their ugly heads out of their lair in the hollow tree."
Oregonian, Portland, July 11, 1930, page 8
NEW SHERIFF CANDIDATE
To the Editor--
Reading Mr. Banks' editorial in the Daily News this morning in regard to shooting unarmed men, I made up my mind to announce myself as a candidate for sheriff. Now I'm not an old woman, but I'm an old man, and I believe I am as capable of sitting in the office and having someone else do the work as anyone in this county.
I was the 2nd boy born in Jacksonville. My old daddy fought the Indians here in early days. I never shot a man in my life, although I had a chance to do so when I was a deputy under my brother, when he was sheriff of Walla Walla County. I have been a great bear hunter, but probably never would have killed a bear if I hadn't had some good dogs to tree them for me.
I don't know what ticket I will run on yet, as the Republican ticket will be filled to overflowing and if I attempt to run on the Democratic ticket Ralph Jennings and Schermerhorn will both be mad at me, so I guess I will just come out and run independent, and when I am elected, which I will be, of course, the first hard work I will do, I will appoint as my chief deputy a citizen of this town who is a live number, a No. 1 bookkeeper, a stenographer and typewriter, and a go-getter--has a family to support too.
Every one of my deputies must be first-class--and when they put in a bill for mileage it must be just right, or there will be something doing, and if any of my deputies shoot an unarmed man I will have him prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If one of my women deputies go out after a man and he refuses to come, I will send someone who will bring him in, no foolin' either.
Now I guess I've said enough. But I will say one thing more; if I don't name as good a string of deputies as was ever in that courthouse, and run the office as economical as it has ever been run, then I'm going to resign, and that's that.
Goodbye, folks, see you on Election Day.
JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Medford Daily News, February 10, 1932, page 4
Open Season for Elk?
To the Editor:
It has been called to my attention by some of the citizens of this town that there is going to be another open season for the hunting of elk--or, I should say, the slaughter of elk--sometime in November. I have been requested to write an article in protest.
I wrote an article in regard to this matter some time ago, and explained that if there was to be an open season on elk that it should be before the mating season, as after that time a buck elk is not considered good for food until the next season. Who would want to go out and kill a poor [i.e., thin] steer, or cow, to put up for food, when they could get a fat one at the right time? It is just the same with elk. They have been protected for years, have learned to not be afraid of human beings, the same as bear in Crater Lake Park, and it must be great sport for men to travel hundreds of miles just for a chance to shoot down a poor innocent animal that will stand and look at them the same as a bunch of range cattle, and just for the sake of saying, "I killed an elk. What a great hunter and great sportsman I am!"
Bah! And I will say right here that I hunted big game for 30 years or over, in the Cascade and Coast ranges, and I never in my life killed a deer for its hide or an elk for its teeth, and never wasted the meat. If there is any person in Oregon who has the idea in their head that I ever did [waste meat], they had just as well get it out of their system, because they are badly off their base.
Now, for the life of me, I can't see why, if there must be an open season for elk, that it can't be at the right time of year, and that will be sometime in the latter part of August, when the elk are fat. Then only allow one for each hunter, and they should be compelled to take care of the meat, hides, horns, etc., and if they can't use them themselves, turn them over to the authorities for the benefit of the people who need them and are not able to go out after them now.
I hope the game commission will reconsider, if they have any intention of an open season in November or any other month until next August. I know Irving Vining well, and he knows that I am telling the truth.
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1934, page 6
Medford, September 11.
John Griffin Tells Story of Bears Abounding Locally
By JOHN GRIFFIN
Were there genuine grizzlies here in the early days? I have been asked this question time and time again. Well, if you had been on the old Griffin Ranch, out where John Darby lives now, and saw the bear tracks that I saw in those days when the grizzlies came right down in our fields and killed our hogs, you would sure believe there were grizzlies: and if you had followed them up with an old muzzle-loading gun you might have fared as badly as some other hunters did in those days.
There used to be an old grizzly that ranged up in the hills back of our place and now and then he would come right down into the field and kill a hog. My elder brothers used to build a rail fence around a big pine tree and get up there and watch all night for him to come, but from some cause or other he never made his appearance when they were lying for him. Every now and then he would take a trip down through the valley and generally passed through the Bellinger place about two miles this side of Jacksonville, then on down through the Ash and Beall ranches to the mouth of Bear Creek, and when he came to a fence he just simply knocked it down and went on to the next one and did the same thing all the way through. In three or four days he would come back, and instead of coming the same route would only miss it a hundred yards or so, and down went the fences again. I have seen his track where he crossed the dusty road and I can say what I believe to be true, that I never saw a larger bear track in all my life, and I have seen hundreds of them.
Finally, a hunter by the name of Cole came to the valley and located at the little mining town of Willow Springs. He had four fine hunting dogs, and when he heard of this old bear whom no one seemed to want to tackle, he thought it would be a good chance to try the mettle of his dogs in a scrap with a real bear. Well, he got it, and the bear came very near getting him. It seems that the old bear, on returning from one of his trips to Rogue River, crossed the road near the Willow Springs store, on his way back sometime during the night or early morning. A man happening along that morning discovered his tracks in the dusty road, and when he got to the store told them he had seen where a grizzly had crossed. Cole happened to be there and didn't lose no time in getting out his dogs and gun and away he went. He had the hounds coupled, but as good luck would have it had a cur dog that would slow track. This dog took the track which still had plenty of scent, and it was an easy matter to follow him right along, which he did for two or three miles, when he came to a thick patch of manzanita brush and concluded to turn the hounds loose and take chances on the outcome, and away they went and in a short time they had the old bear on the go, and in a few minutes he heard them coming right back towards him. All at once the old grizzly came charging towards him. He pulled down and shot but missed and the bear was upon him. He jerked out his knife, but too late. It bore him down and grabbing him by one shoulder would have made short work of him, but the dogs got there just in time and grabbed him by the hams, which caused him to turn and let Cole go, and the dogs made it so hot for him that he got far enough away to let Cole escape, who had all the bear he wanted for that day. The bear finally wore the dogs out and they came back.
I saw Cole a few days after, carrying his arm in a sling, and he told me all about it, which I am telling you about from my recollections as he told me.
It was several weeks before the old scamp took a notion to take one of his regular trips down through the valley, knocking down fences, and as good luck would have it, he came back the same route he had taken before and came across the road near where an old farmer lived, and when he went out to drive in his cows discovered the old fellow's tracks and lost no time in hurrying down to the store to tell Cole who soon got ready and taking three good men with him, struck out and took the track which led them right up to the same patch of brush. Here they stopped, and as quietly as they could laid their plans.
He sent one man around on the south side and one was to take a stand on the east and one on the west with instructions to select a place where they would have the chance to climb if necessary. After giving them plenty of time to get to their positions, Cole uncoupled the dogs and in they went. Sure enough, the old scamp was lying in the same old bed, and when he heard the dogs coming he made a dash out through the brush and as good luck would have it, came out between Cole and the man on the east side and dashed down into a ravine, and as he came up on the other side the dogs overtook him in plain sight of Cole and the fight was on. He commenced knocking dogs right and left. Cole waited and soon got a broadside shot which passed right through his heart and over he went. I saw that hide, and I believe it was the largest one ever seen. One thing sure, the farmers didn't have to get out and put up any more fences.
P.S.--The next grizzly story will be an account of the fight the Obenchain boys had with the grizzly that tore up Wash Obenchain.
Medford News, October 26, 1934, page 8
Griffin apparently never got around to writing about the Obenchain bear battle. Click here for one version. Below is another. They don't agree at all.
Bears Used To Be Bad Pest HereI said the second story I would write would be an account of the fight the Obenchains had with the old grizzly on Butte Creek. But as I have been delayed in getting some of the particulars of this affair, which was one of the most terrific and disastrous fights that has ever taken place on the Pacific Coast, I wish to get as complete and authentic account of it as I possibly can, or, in other words, a true story, so in the meantime I will tell the readers of a scrap I had with a black bear near the Doctor [E. P.] Geary place on Griffin Creek.
Says Griffin in His Second Yarn
In those days I lived on the old Griffin place, and I had two bear dogs--one of them old Trailer that so many stories have been written about, and a Russian terrier I called Lion. These two dogs had the habit of going out after night and treeing all kinds of varmints, wildcats, foxes, cougars, bear, etc. on the mountains south of Medford that we can see any day if we will trouble to look sometimes. They would tree a bear or cougar in hearing of the house. But other times I would have to take a saddle horse and get up on top of one of those high ridges and follow it along so I could listen for the dogs and hear them on either side. Sometimes I would travel for hours before I would hear Trailer "bow-wow-wow." Say, you fellows that shoot geese, duck and pheasants and so forth and think you get a thrill out of it, imagine the thrill that went through me. When I heard that bark, instantly I would give the horn a long toot, and then I would hear both dogs turn loose and begin to bark furiously and keep it up until I got there and killed whatever they had up the tree.
Well, one night about two o'clock I heard them barking furiously up back of the Geary place and I knew that it was a bear or a cougar because they would not bark like that at a fox or wildcat. Well, I could hardly wait for daylight to come, but I knew it wasn't good policy to go before it was light. So I waited until it was light enough to see to travel and I took my Winchester and put 15 cartridges in it, and as I started to go I said to my sister, "If you hear me shoot fifteen times, get on a horse and bring me some cartridges." Now, I said this partly in a joke, but as good luck had it, she took it more seriously than I supposed and counted my shots as they sung out.
When I got there, sure enough they had one of the largest black bears I had ever seen. He was up a large fir tree, not very high up, and I knew I had to be cautious or he would come down. The tree stood on a narrow ridge running east and west and, of course, sloped on the north and south. I came up on the south side and kept out of sight until I got opposite the tree, when I turned and proceeded cautiously until I got up close enough to see him, which put me in about 50 yards. So I concluded to shoot from there rather than to take chances on him coming down. So I pulled up and drew a bead on the side of his head and fired and down he came hand over fist, so quick I did not see how it was done. And say, if you will believe me, the fight was on, and a royal battle it was. I ran as fast as I could and when I got there they were going after him right and left. One dog would grab him by the ham and when he turned to strike the dog would let go and the other dog would catch him. In this way they kept him swinging around so fast that it seemed like it was impossible to get a dead shot; but I kept following up and pouring one shot right after another until finally snap the gun went and the last cartridge was gone. By this time they had worked down to the bottom of the hill to a small flat and there he backed up in a bunch of brush and all the dogs could do was just stand in front of him and bay. Great Scott, what must I do? So started for the house and had only gone a short distance until I saw my sister coming across the field in a dead run. I knew what that meant. So I hurried to meet her and she handed me a box of shells. I shoved some in the gun and hurried back and pulled up and gave him a shot in the side of the head. Still he didn't go out, so I gave him another, and over he went.
The dogs were too tired to even take hold of him, but both dropped to the ground completely wore out. Now, no doubt a great many people who read this story will imagine that I was taking desperate chances in following up so close and firing one shot right after another into him, but when you take into consideration the fact that the fight was going on on a steep hillside and me being on the upper side and two dogs keeping him busy all the time, I don't consider that I was in any real danger. However, I want to impress upon your mind that it is not good policy to crowd a wounded bear, and don't attempt to track one up that has been shot but leave that to a good dog, and when he bays him, use a little caution or you may get into trouble.
Well, I want to say that this was one of the largest black bears I ever saw, and when I skinned him, how many bullet holes do you think I found in the hide? Just exactly 17.
Medford News, November 9, 1934, page 1
Seven Deer and Three BearWell, I found one person who read my bear story in the News, and it was a woman. Just think of it, a woman interested in a bear story; and besides that, she said her husband was also interested. And they had thought so much about my hunting that they were wondering what was the most game I ever killed in one day. "Mrs. F.-----," I said, "that is not a hard question to answer. The most I ever killed in one day was seven deer and three bear--and I never slaughtered game in all my life nor never killed a deer for its hide."
Is Good Day's Hunt for J. Griffin
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
"Oh," she says. "I am awful glad of that. We were afraid you were like Buffalo Bill or those hunters that killed buffalo and deer for their pelts. So now I want to ask a favor of you. I would be glad if you would write and tell us all about that day's hunt. The day you killed seven deer and three bear. I have relatives back East that I want to send the story to, and, of course, I want a true story."
"Well," I said, "I will write it, and you can depend on every word as true."
Hunted Little ApplegateSo now I will write only the story of that day's hunt. It would take up too much space to tell of all I killed on that hunt. I was out for a week's hunt up on the head of Little Applegate with a man named Royce, a neighbor who lived near me on Griffin Creek. We camped in a cabin near the mouth of Quartz Gulch, and the next morning we started out bright and early for the first day's hunt. After we got up into the woods a half a mile or more, I told Royce that it would be a good idea to separate and each one go his own way, as I was not in the habit of hunting with anyone. Royce agreed to this and started off around the side hill to the north and I went the opposite way.
I soon struck an old cattle trail and was following it along when all at once I discovered four big bucks about three hundred yards below me. They were standing in an open space on a small bench or ridge where there were some scattered pines, and were looking up towards me. I walked right along the same as if I had not seen them at all, and soon I came to a deep gulch that ran down by near where they stood. When I got down opposite the pines, I crawled up the bank until I could see over and there they were still standing and looking up the hill to see what had become of me. And here I was within fifty yards of them.
I have thought many times since of what a beautiful sight it was to see those four nice bucks--all fat and sleek and their nice big horns--all unconscious of a man lying there with a deadly Winchester rifle soon to deal death and destruction among them. Well, to make a long story short, the Winchester sung out once . . . twice . . . three times . . . and three big bucks lay stretched out dead. The fourth one made his escape by dashing into the brush and not getting a bullet sent after him.
Gee whizz! Three big bucks and the day just begun. I dressed them and fixed them up as best I could and went on clear around the head of that creek and hunted all over that part without even seeing anything at all worth shooting at until about ten o'clock. I concluded to go to camp. What's the difference anyhow. I've got three big bucks. That's good enough for a half a day. So I struck out straight down the ridge that led to camp and had not gone far when I came to the edge of an opening perhaps one hundred yards long and fifty yards wide, and there near the farther end lay a deer. I pulled up and shot, and it never got up. I started down to where it was and another one came out stopping high to see what was going on. When it discovered the other deer deer lying there, it stopped to look, and the Winchester cracked again and it ran about thirty yards and over it went. And out came another--Bang! and down it went. "Gosh," I thought. "How many more?" I started on down and had not gone ten steps when out came another and trotted right by me within ten steps. Once more the Winchester roared and down it went.
Well say, put yourself in my place. Wouldn't you feel pretty rich? Well, I did. I was worth about seven million. But I was not through yet. I dressed these deer and fed Trailer, my old bear dog, all the liver he would eat, and [t]racked out, traveling faster than Trailer, for he was so full he just poked along away behind me.
All at once I came to where a big bear had crossed the ridge and went down towards the creek. I called to Trailer to hurry up, and when he got there and smelled the track, it was fresh, and away he went down the hill baying at every jump; and in a few minutes I heard him bark up a tree.
I went down to where he was and there in a big fir tree was a big black bear and two big cubs. I walked right down to within about ten steps and pulled up and shot the old one square between the eyes, and she came rolling out. Then I shot the two cubs in the head. And now I must go to camp or this story will be so long that the News won't publish it. When I got to camp, Royce was there and had a fire built ready to get dinner. I asked him if he killed anything, and he said no. But he shot [at] a big buck twice standing within eighty yards of him and missed.
"Well," I said, "that won't do."
Finally he said, "What did you kill?"
I said, "Seven deer and three bear."
"Oh, you didn't do that, did you?"
"Sure I did."
Well, after a while Royce asked me again: "Say, John, what did you kill?"
"I killed seven deer and three bear."
"Why I never heard of anything like that in my life."
"Well," I said, "you will find it out when we go to pack them in."
"Well, I guess I may as well tell how many deer and bear I killed on this trip. Just nine deer and four bear and a wildcat."
Poor Royce never killed a thing, but he got half of the meat, so he was satisfied.
Medford News, November 21, 1934, page 1
Grizzly Bear Killed NearOne of the greatest hunters and mountaineers that came to the Rogue River Valley in the early days was John S. Miller, who settled on 20 acres across Bear Creek from where Medford now stands, which is now owned by Wig Ashpole. He was a young man at the time of the Whitman massacre, living in Linn County, Oregon, and joined the volunteers who went up to punish the Indians, and stayed until they were licked to a frazzle, then came back and got married and moved to this valley and lived here the balance of his life.
Ashpole's House, Years Ago
At one time he served as Medford's city marshal. [Miller was appointed Special Policeman for the Town of Medford on March 6, 1886.] The first thing he did after locating was to build a house and he made a big corral in which to keep his milk cow during the night. This fence was made of rails and staked and ridered, which made it a secure place to round up cattle or horses either. A small enclosure was made for the calf on one side, and all he had to do was go out in the morning and milk and turn the cow out on the grass (and there was worlds of it in those days) and in the evening she came up to her calf and to be milked. This made it very nice, but one night a big old grizzly came prowling around and this was too easy a job to pass over to have a nice fat cow all ready for him to just walk in and slaughter. So he just walked up and smashed the fence down, and the next morning when John S. went out to milk he found a dead cow lying near the middle of the corral, and upon investigating found it was a huge bear of some kind, as the tracks were big.
He left the fence just as it was and went back to the house and got out his muzzle-loading shotgun and loaded up both barrels with heavy buckshot and made up his mind to be on hand that night when the old scamp came back and give him a reception he would not soon forget. He had a fine rifle, one that he afterward carried all through the Rogue River [Indian] wars. But he knew that after dark it would be a chance if he hit him, so he chose the shotgun.
Well, evening came at last and just a little before dark he went out and took a position in the corner of the fence and waited, hardly expecting the bear to come until after dark, but old Bruin fooled him. He had been there only a very short time when here he come, walking leisurely along with his head down, no doubt anticipating a great meal. Miller had slid his gun through the fence and was ready for him. He marched right up to the carcass and stepped upon it with both front feet and raised up his head and looked all around before starting in.
This exposed his breast fair and square. Just then Miller pulled the trigger of both barrels and dropping the gun ran for the house as fast as he could go.
The next morning as soon as it was light he took his rifle and went out to size things up and lo and behold, there lay the old grizzly dead as a mackerel, two loads of buckshot proving too much for him. And it was the last time Miller was ever troubled with bear as long as he lived on that ranch, and although he killed many bear during his lifetime, he never killed one that could compare with this one for size.
This grizzly was the only one I have ever heard of being killed right down in the valley, and [it] was killed close to where the Crater Lake Highway passes the Wig Ashpole place, east of the house. [The Ashpole house is the Colonial house on the other side of McAndrews Road from Providence Medical Center.] As I said before, John S. Miller turned out to be one of the greatest hunters and mountaineers on the Pacific Coast, and at one time killed an elk that was estimated to weigh over a thousand pounds and had antlers that measured exactly six feet in length, and could be stood on their points and a man six feet could walk under. This is no dream, and if anyone doubts it, there is a man living on Applegate right now who was with him at the time and helped him pack it in who will corroborate what I say. Just as it was told to me by Miller himself, whose word was good as gold, and all the oldtimers know it.
Medford News, November 30, 1934, page 1
Biggest Grizzlies Killed HereTwo of the largest grizzlies that have ever been killed in the Siskiyou or Cascade range of mountains, excepting the one killed by Walt Obenchain and his brother, was the one killed by Bruce Grieves and the one killed by Robert Neill, of Ashland. Both of these grizzlies were caught in 40-lb. steel traps.
Victim of Bruce Grieves' Gun
by JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Grieves and his brother Rufus lived on Jenny Creek, a few miles above where it empties into the Klamath River, and were in the cattle business, and this old grizzly got into the habit of coming around every now and then and killing one of their cattle. Sometimes it would be a nice cow, at other times it would be a big fat steer. Bruce was quite a hunter, but this old scamp was too foxy to ever let him get a shot at him, so he commenced to set the trap. But some way or other he would avoid springing it. So Bruce went out one day and in his rounds he found where the old scamp had killed a big steer and eaten his fill, so he started and followed his trail up the hill and it led him to a small round lake on a kind of a bench surrounded by oak brush, and there he had waded in and probably cooled himself off before going to his bed and taking a good long nap before the next meal. This gave Bruce a new idea, which he proceeded to put into effect. So he went home and got his big trap and brought [it] back and set it in this little lake and went back home to wait. Something happened that he didn't get back the next day, but the following morning he took his Winchester and struck out. It was about three miles to where the steer lay, and when he got there sure enough the old fellow had been back and filled up again and had gone off the same direction towards the little lake, and when he got there the trap was gone and the lake was a mass of mud, the oak brush torn to pieces and the whole thing looked like a cyclone had struck there, and then he found where he had struck out around the side of the mountain, tearing down brush, and it looked like he picked the trap up and struck the ground with it. Finally he came to a patch of low brush and went into it. He was on the lower side, so he knew it was not good policy to wallow in like that, so he went around on the upper side and got up on a high stump and looked over and he saw him lying perfectly still.
It was a question now what to do. After watching him for a long time, he finally made up his mind to make his way carefully in towards him, anyway, so he moved along slow and sure, with his gun cocked and finger on the trigger until he got within ten steps of him, and still no sign of life, so he went on up to him and the poor old fellow was just barely breathing, so he shot him in the head to put him out of his misery.
I never got to see the skin that came off of this grizzly, but I saw his head and teeth and the claws, and if I remember rightly they measured just five inches, and the teeth were fierce.
Bruce Grieves and his brother have been dead for many years. But Rufus' wife and son live in Hornbrook, Cal., and I have no doubt but they still have those claws and some of the teeth of that old grizzly. At least I hope they have, and probably anyone who is interested enough in this story to call on them can get to see them. This bear was not weighed, but Bruce Grieves told me himself when we were out looking over the ground where he caught him that he guessed him at 1500 pounds. He looked like a small mountain as he lay there on his side.
Medford News, December 12, 1934, page 1
John B. Griffin is now a resident of the Dead Indian country, where he has taken up a piece of government land and commenced to raise stock.
Griffin's Dog Trailer Saves Hide
of Pioneer Bear Hunter
Someone Doesn't Believe Stories, Says John, So He
Agrees To Call Them Fiction, But Witness
Found To Prove Them True; Hunter
Gets Scared in This One
By JOHN GRIFFIN
Well, well, well! I just found out a day or two ago that these stories I have been writing for the News were all fiction stories, and that I never killed a bear in my life! How did I find it out? Well, I will tell you.
I went into a store the other day where I do most of my trading, and the first thing the storekeeper said to me was: "Say, Mr. H. says you never killed a bear in your life. You know him, don't you?" I said, "No, I don't know anybody by that name. We did have a president by a name similar to that, but I never was personally acquainted with him." So I went off downtown and I met Dee Roberts, whom I have known since he was a little boy, and was with me down on Rogue River one time when I killed five deer, one right after the other. So I said to Dee: "Say, did you ever see me kill a bear?" "Why, yes," he said. "I sure did. Why do you ask me a foolish question like that?" I told him why. "Well," he said, "you tell him he's a liar!" "Oh, no, I wouldn't do that," I said. "Perhaps he never killed one and don't think anyone else ever did."
After this we'll call these short stories "Fiction--True Stories." So when anyone reads them they can take their choice. Anyhow, I think it would be nice to be called a good fiction writer. So after this I believe it would be a good idea to head these stories: "Believe It or Not." So here goes:
I was camped out in the Dead Indian country once with a man named Templeton, and we had killed four nice bucks, but had only packed two of them in, so Templeton said he would take the horses and go after them, and I could go hunting if I wanted to. I said, "All right, that suits me." So I took Trailer and away I went.
I hunted all along the side of the mountain near Condra Glade, and the head of Soda Creek, without seeing a living thing to shoot at.
After a while I struck a trail that led down the east side of Soda Creek, so I concluded to send Trailer out on the side so he might scare up something, and I could bring him to me with the horn any time I wanted to, anyway.
I kept along the trail for probably a quarter of a mile and came to the edge of a prairie, not a very large one, probably a hundred yards long, and right out in the middle of it sat a huge brown bear.
He was sitting on his haunches with his forelegs extended out and paws hanging down and head turned to one side like he was listening to something or some noise he was not sure in which direction. I was right in plain sight and I didn't wait a second, but pulled right up and shot and say! you can believe it or not, that bear came straight for me.
I commenced stringing the bullets as fast as I could throw the lever down and up, and still he came, showing no sign of being hit. He was over halfway, when all at once Trailer dashed past me and went straight for him, and as he got near he swung to the right of him so he could get at his ham. This caused the bear to turn to strike at him, which gave me almost a broadside shot. I broke him down in the back, and he sank down and kept turning around and around with his foreparts to keep Trailer away and snorted and snapped his teeth ferociously.
I waited for a good chance and shot him in the head. This ended the racket, but I have thought many times that if Trailer had happened to have been a little farther away it is hard to tell how it would have come out as I hadn't got a bullet. But he had seven bullets in him, counting the one that was in his head.
Temp and I went and brought him in the next day. He sure was a big one. His hide was one of a bunch of eight I sold to Tom Kinney, who was running a store in Jacksonville at the time. It was the largest one of all. Tom Kinney lives in Medford now, and no doubt remembers buying those hides.
Well, perhaps you'll ask, "Were you scared?" Well, I don't know hardly whether I was or not at the time, but gee whizz, I was later.
Medford News, January 9, 1935, page 1
Largest Grizzly in County
Was Killed by Robert Neil
By JOHN GRIFFIN
At last I am coming back to a grizzly bear story. This is the story of the capture of one of the largest grizzlies that has ever been killed in Jackson County and was killed by Robert Neil, a native son of this county, and formerly mayor of Ashland. It is an interesting story, and I have no doubt [it] will interest the readers of this paper, as it is strictly true in every particular. Bob, as I shall call him, lived about 14 miles east of Ashland, near the Dead Indian Road, in the Cave district. He had a big ranch and was in the cattle business in those days, and it seemed like this old grizzly was too. For whenever he wanted free meat he just simply killed it regardless of whose brand it had on. And it seemed like it was as easy for him to kill a 4-year-old steer as it was to kill a calf.
This got to be a frequent occurrence and was aggravating in the extreme, as it was a hard matter to hunt him with dogs or hunt him at all, for that matter. Finally the old fellow got bolder and came down one night and killed two cows belonging to Bob Neil on the ridge within a half or three-quarters of a mile below the house--one near the road to Ashland and one down in the gulch. They were only about a quarter of a mile apart. When Bob discovered these two fine milk cows lying there dead you can imagine his feelings, and Bob determined that kind of business had to stop. So he went down to Ashland and got a bear trap of Paris Hamilton which had been made by Bike Mickleson, a blacksmith, and was supposed to hold the biggest bear that ran the woods. To this he attached a logging chain with a hook at the end so it would catch on bushes and hold him up.
The first night he set the trap at the carcass down near the creek, but the old reprobate smelled a mouse and went up and ate off of the one on the hill. The next night he set the trap at the carcass on the hill, and lo and behold, when he went down the next morning he had been down and filled up on the one at the creek. Now he set the trap again at the creek and the old scamp went up to the one on the hill, and again the scamp went to the one at the creek. So he went back home, leaving the trap set, and hitched up a span of horses to the wagon and hauled down a load of stuff and brought the carcass on the hill, slick and clean. That night there were about two inches of snowfall, and when he went down the next morning the trap was gone. The wily old reprobate had been caught at last and it was easy to tell every move had had made on account of the snow.
There was nothing attached to the end of the chain, as he had left it loose on purpose so he could drag the trap, as a bear is liable to pull his foot out of a trap if it is fast when they are first caught, as it frightens them and they will make more desperate efforts to get loose than they will after they have dragged the trap a while and then got fastened. He could see where the bear had made some desperate lunges when he first got caught and landed on his back and he had rolled over and over in frantic efforts to get loose and fought the trap until he had broken nearly all his teeth off on the jaws of the trap. He also rolled down several square rods of snow, but the trap stayed with him and he finally had to give it up as a bad job and started out to travel, dragging it along around the mountainside which was covered with all kinds of brush and oak grubs. Sometimes the hook would catch on one of these oak grubs and he would just strip that bush from bottom to top.
Bob tracked him around the mountain from 9 o'clock until one in the afternoon--a distance of three or four miles--and finally he circled and came back to within one hundred yards of where he had been caught. Bob was tired and hungry now, so he went home and ate his dinner and filled his Winchester with cartridges and then returned and took up the trail again. After following it some distance, he suddenly heard the rattle of the trap and chain as it was being dragged over some loose rocks in the bed of the creek. Now he was within 50 yards of him and the brush was so thick that he couldn't see out in any direction, so he came to the conclusion that it was a mighty poor place for a bear fight, even if he was in a trap. So he beat a hasty retreat, part of the time on his hands and knees, as he was in considerable of a hurry to get out of there. Just then the idea now was to get at him with as little danger as possible to himself, being entirely alone and not having even a dog, as they had been accidentally poisoned only a few days before. It stood him in hand to be cautious, so after getting [omission] the question was how to get to see him without getting close enough to be in danger. So he concluded to just keep along about even with him until he would come to an open place.
The bear was making slow time and would stop now and then and stay right in one place for a long time. Whenever he started to move, Bob could hear the chain and trap rattle. Then he would move along too. Finally Bob got too anxious and got in too close, and the bear discovered him and made a desperate rush to get at him, threshing and tearing the brush, and he was compelled to climb, leaving his gun at the root of the tree. The bear came right up to the tree, rattling and banging the trap, and looked right up at him. This was the first time he had got to see him and was astonished to see that he was so big. He said he looked as broad across the back as a percheron horse and right then he would have given anything in the world if he could have had his gun at that moment. However, the old fellow only stopped a short time and commenced moving slowly along. As soon as he got far enough away for Bob to come down safely, he hiked down in a hurry and, picking up his gun, followed along a short distance and caught sight of him as he was passing through a small opening.
Bob dropped down on one knee and let drive, putting a bullet square behind the shoulder. Down he went and rolled over and over, down into the creek .But it was very much alive. Bob kept on firing until he had shot eight times more. About every other shot would bring out a roar. At last all was quiet and Bob moved up closer and gave him another shot, and another at the butt of the ear. And the fight was over. This made eleven shots in all, but the last two were not really necessary. The shooting was done with a 30-30 rifle. It was now six o'clock, making twelve hours of good hard work and no little danger, for if he had got his foot loose from that trap by any chance whatever, it's hard to tell what might have happened, for he certainly would have been a fearful antagonist to deal with in that brush. But he was dead now, and Bob had the satisfaction of knowing that he would kill no more cows.
I have no doubt but what this was, to say the least, one of the largest grizzlies ever killed in the Cascade Range, and when you consider the fact that he carried 50 or 60 pounds of steel and iron for miles and miles and hours and hours, you can rest assured that he was a powerful animal and was the grizzly that killed a 4-year-old steer for Mayor [Neil. This ac-]count was given me direct by Robert Neil himself, and there isn't the least doubt but what it is true in every respect.
Medford News, January 18, 1935, page 1
John B. Griffin this week removes his family from Dead Indian section to this precinct, where his children will attend school at the Naylor school house during the coming term. He and Thad. Powell had considerable trouble in breaking a trail over the divide last week for the purpose of bringing them out.
Old-Timer Recalls Long-Ago FightSince I have been writing these bear stories, I have been asked all kinds of questions about bear, cougars, wolves, etc. Did you ever kill a wolf? Did you ever hear one howl? Were there very many of them here in early days? The first two questions are very easily answered. The first one yes--rather mildly; the next one yes--with pretty strong emphasis. For I have sat by a campfire after night and heard wolves howling in every direction--a long, loud, dismal howl that would almost raise the hair on my head and make the cold chills run up my back. But not in this valley, but in the Steens Mountain country. If you doubt it, ask Bill Hanley or any other old-timers who were out there in early days.
With Wolf Near Town of Phoenix
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
But I never saw but one wolf in this valley, which I killed with the aid of my dogs in one of the most desperate battles that Trailer was ever in, and was so lively, I had no chance to use my gun. It happened on the mountain road that skirts the foothills between Griffin and Phoenix, and near the old Ritter place. I was on my way to Wagner Creek and was accompanied by a neighbor whose name was Maxon. We were driving along the road in a two-horse wagon, the two dogs following along close behind, when all at once out came a big gray wolf from the chaparral brush near the road, and came straight for the dogs; and before I had time to get my gun out, they were in one of the most terrible mixups that I ever saw. I jumped out of the wagon and picked up a white oak club that happened to be lying there, and got to them as quick as I could, but it was impossible to get a lick in on him. But pretty soon he got the old Russian terrier by the throat while Trailer had him by the ham, and I gave him a powerful blow on the back of the head which stunned him for a moment and caused him to let go of the dog. Before he could rear back and get Trailer I gave him another one, and don't you forget it. I gave him one right after another until I had the life beat out of him. These two dogs were in many a lively scrap with a bear, but this was one of the most dangerous and desperate fights they ever were in, and I would not have had Trailer in another for anything in the world. He came out of it without getting hurt but very little, but the other dog was about done up.
I never heard a wolf howl in this valley, but I heard one in Illinois Valley several years ago. One evening about sundown I and my wife and grandson were sitting on the porch and we heard a long howl up on the mountain a half a mile or more away. I said right then that's a wolf. They both laughed at me and said I didn't know what I was talking about. The next day one of the neighbors came up and told us about something scaring a bunch of calves and making them break through a barbed wire fence, and the next morning he found them in a fence corner near the house. I said, "Do you want me to tell you what scared them?" "Yes, what was it?" "It was a wolf," I said. "I heard him howl last night just before dark." A few days after, Dave Hayes, the assessor, was at our place and told me about a wolf getting in among a band of goats belonging to a man named Richardson, who lived about three miles north of Kerby, and killing 40 of his goats. This sounded like a pretty big story, but when I met Richardson a short time afterwards, he said it was actual fact. He heard the racket and ran with his gun and got sight of him and shot just as it went over a little rise, but did not know whether he hit him or not. But he never showed up again.
There used to be quite a number of wolves roamed along the Umpqua Divide and up Elk Creek and Rogue River, and the head of Red Blanket and in the Mount Pitt country, and a few in the Dead Indian country and around Buck Lake, where they used to kill sheep. A man named Reddick had a band of sheep there and was bothered quite a bit by them. He used to try to trap them, but soon found out that it was useless as they were foxy for that. But for all that, I never had them eat deer that I hung up in the woods. Why, I don't know.
Medford News, February 8, 1935, page 3
Oregon Pioneer Spins Yarn
of Dead Indian Country Hunt
By John Griffin
In this story I am going to tell of Templeton's first hunt with Old Trailer and me. Temp had never seen a bear up a tree nor had he ever shot one. On this hunt we were accompanied by Curtiss Miller, who was born and raised near Gold Hill. Miller died a short time ago, and I have no doubt that he related this story to the members of his family and others who are alive today and can corroborate this story, if some of the doubters show up.
The three of us camped on Spencer Creek a short distance from where it empties into Buck Creek in the Dead Indian country. In those days there was no one living in that part of the country except one person who had a small bunch of sheep there. So there were all kinds of bear, deer, cougars, wolves and a few elk.
We arrived at the camp shortly before dinner. Temp and I went out for a hunt while Miller went fishing. The course we took was north from the camp and was practically level for some distance. We soon separated. Temp took the right and I the left. I hunted for probably two or three miles without seeing any game, when all of a sudden out went a three-point buck and bounced about thirty or forty yards and stopped and turned broadside and looked back. I drew a bead and fired. At the crack of the gun he jumped straight into the air and ran a short distance and fell with a bullet square through the heart. I dressed him and hung him up to drip good, and went on. In a short time Trailer struck a bear track and away he went and soon went over a ridge and out of hearing. I kept on going in the direction he had taken and in a little while I heard him coming back. Only a few hundred yards farther south from where he had crossed the bridge before and was coming toward me there was a large log with some brush growing up around it, so I climbed up on the log and waited and in a few minutes I saw a big black bear coming towards me. He would run along a short distance and then he would stop a second or two and look back and then come on again. Soon I saw Trailer coming like a cyclone and I could tell that he would soon overtake him. The bear never changed his course and had got near enough that I knew I could kill him before he could get away as soon as Trailer got near enough to see him, he stopped yelping, and just as the bear got up to within about 8 or 10 steps of me, or I should say started to pass me at about that distance away. Trailer overtook him and seized him by the ham and gave him a yank, as the bear turned to strike he let go and got out of the way. The bear turned to go again. Right then I fired and he sank down on his belly and Trailer was coming with such headway that he lit right on top of him and was no doubt surprised when he heard the gun crack as neither he nor the bear knew I was near.
Now I went on and after awhile I killed another deer. I was pretty well satisfied and started back to camp. I did not get far, however, when bang went a gun. I threw up the horn and gave it a toot, and I heard Temp call to me to come to him. I hurried up and when I got there I found that Temp was standing at the foot of a big tree, looking up, and upon investigation I found that he had treed two brown bear cubs. He was terribly excited and was shaking all over with the "buck ague." He said he had shot at the old one but had missed and she had run away and the cubs had run up this tree. He wanted to shoot the cubs right out at once, but I told him he had better wait awhile until he got over his excitement, but no, he wouldn't wait a minute, so I said, "Temp, hadn't you better let me shoot them out, for just as sure as you wound one of them the old bear will be back in double quick time and we will sure have a fight on our hands and no foolin'." No, sir, he treed them and he wanted to shoot them out himself. "Well, all right," I said, "go to it."
So he laid his gun alongside a tree and bang--a miss, bang--another miss, 4 or 5 more bangs and he hit one of the cubs in the leg and he began to squeal.
I said, "Look out, Temp, she'll be here. Get behind a tree and do it quick."
I turned and ran about ten steps and got behind a big fir tree and sooner than it would take to tell it we heard the brush cracking and she dashed into the opening, which was about thirty yards across. But before she was halfway Trailer jumped her and swung past her as she turned to strike. This gave me a quartering shot and I put a bullet through her breast. It broke her shoulder and before she could recover Trailer had her by the ham and bang went Temp's gun and he missed slick and clean, and as she swung broadside I put a bullet behind her shoulder and down she went. But she commenced to get up and I shot again and she went down for good.
I asked Temp why he had stopped shooting, and he said his gun was empty. So I let him have my gun and he took a rest against the side of the tree and commenced to shoot. As there was no danger, I stood around and let him shoot and finally he killed one and wounded the other so bad that he came down the tree, and I gave him my tomahawk and told him to finish the job, which he did and now we had 4 bear and 2 deer in just a half a day.
Now we went back to camp and when we told Miller about it he thought it was wonderful.
The next day we packed them in and Temp killed a five-point buck. Then we started home.
I started out first on horseback, and saw a deer right by the side of the road and killed it. We got home with 4 deer and 4 bear.
Now I hope that there are some folks around Gold Hill whom Mr. Miller has told this story to and will get to read it.
Medford News, February 22, 1935, page 4
Old-Timer Tells a SpecialA few days ago I met a little school girl about nine years old, who attends the Lincoln School.
Bear Story for Little Girl
John B. Griffin
She said, "How do you do, Grandpa. Are you the one who writes the bear stories that are being published in the Medford News?"
I said, "Yes."
So she said, "Grandpa, I just love to read those stories, and when the paper comes, I get it as quickly as I can, and read the bear stories the very first thing. Now Grandpa, did you ever miss when you shot at a bear?"
"Well, I sure have," I told her.
I haven't see the little girl since, but I sure appreciated what she said so much that I am going to write a bear story for her special benefit, and tell her about the bear I shot at and missed. I hope she will be as well pleased with the story as I was with the remark she made about the stories I have been writing. It was quite a contrast from the remark of a Central Point woman, who told the man who called on her and asked her to subscribe to the News, "No, sir. I will not subscribe to a paper that prints a lot of lies like those bear stories." So according to her way of thinking, Bruce Grieves, Robert Neil, Henry Chapman, Mr. Cole and myself are all liars.
However, I am going to write this story for that nice little school girl, and I shall hope to meet her again and find out who she is, so I can show her old Trailer's picture--Trailer, the dog that treed all those bears that I never killed. Ha! Ha! And this is going to be as true a story as was ever written, and one that this lovely little girl can put in her scrapbook, as many women in this town are doing, and keep to show when she has grown old like I am, so now I will tell it as it happened in the Dead Indian country many years ago.
I lived out there in those days [in the late 1880s], and one day I took Trailer and went out on a hunt down on the west side of Dead Indian Creek towards Soda Springs. I was not caring about killing a bear, but rather a deer, as bears were not fat at that time of year. But sometimes Trailer would get after a bear and either tree him or bay him. In that case I was compelled to kill the bear or it would have a tendency to discourage a dog like Trailer, that had been trained to catch them.
Well, this was no exception to the case, as the first thing Trailer struck was a bear track, and away he went, down, down, along the side of the hill for several hundred yards; then up the hill, and soon another turn. I could hear him coming straight towards me--yelling at every jump. I stood still and waited, as I was in a comparatively open spot and the brush was thick ahead of me. I did not have long to wait, for I soon heard the brush crashing and out came a big black bear, running like a coyote, and coming straight towards me. He did not see me as he was too much interested in escaping from that terror that was coming like a cyclone behind him. I pulled up and shot just as he passed behind a small bush and I missed him slick and clean. He whirled back and away he went down the hill towards the creek. Soon Trailer came, and when he got to where the bear turned back he came on several yards before he missed the scent. I gave the horn a toot to let him know I was there, and in a few minutes he struck the track again and away he went. I could hear him going away off towards the Dead Indian Soda Springs, then over a ridge and out of hearing. I kept on down that way and it was not long until he came back in hearing again, towards me only a little higher up the hill. In a few minutes I heard him stop and commence to bay. I knew what that mean: the bear had got tired of running and had stopped in a thick patch of brush. Backed up against the brush, Trailer could not get at the bear's hams; all he could do was just stand in front of him and bark.
Now the only thing for me to do was to get up there as quietly as possible without him discovering me and get a shot if possible. It was awful brushy. But fortunately, after I had climbed along for a short distance, I came to where a large tree had fallen and lay up the hill near where the bear was. I knew I dare not make the least noise so he could hear me, so I got down on my hands and knees and crawled along next to the log till I got opposite to where they were, then I raised up carefully and looked. I could see Trailer but couldn't see the bear for the life of me. The log was smooth, as the bark had all slipped off, so finally I crawled up on top of the log and, dropping my feet down on the other side, I sat there and kept my eyes on the spot where I was almost sure the bear was. After [a] while I discovered a movement of his head which exposed the butt of his ear. Aha! That was enough. I pulled up and, taking careful aim, I fired. Down he went, and I could hear Trailer shaking him, so I knew I had made a dead shot. The brush was so thick I did not attempt to get him out, but skinned him and packed the hide out on my back, and this is the end of the story.
But I am dedicating it to the lovely little girl just to show much I appreciate her saying, "Grandpa, I just love to read those bear stories," and when she reads this story, I want her to come to 512 [West] Jackson Street and tell me who she is, and I will show her old Trailer's pictures and a pair of antelope horns from an antelope that I killed on the 17th of October, 1873--sixty-one years ago.
Medford News, March 15, 1935, page 4
Cougars Once Roamed WoodsSince writing the bear stories I have been asked a number of questions about cougars: "Are cougars dangerous?" "Did you ever kill a cougar?" etc., etc. Well, this last question always makes me laugh. How could a man hunt, as I hunted with a dog like Trailer, any length of time without killing a cougar. And I will say this much, that I honestly believe that I have saved more deer forty times over than I ever killed in all my life, as it is estimated that a cougar will kill an average of fifty deer a year. Now, that answers that question.
of County, Says John Griffin
Beasts Will Only Attack When Cornered or Startled
Is Opinion of Old Woodsman; Harrowing
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Are They Dangerous?The other question: "Are they dangerous?" Well, there is a difference of opinion in that respect. I always thought they were the most dangerous animal that roamed the woods, as they are in some respects like a cat--they attack when they are in no danger themselves, and aim to crush their victim without giving him a chance for his life. I have had them follow me, and I know of others they have followed.
Baily Houston, an old-time resident in the Applegate country, was hunting one day and killed a small deer. He was packing it in on his back, when he heard a noise behind him, and upon turning around and looking back, saw a large cougar only thirty feet behind him. When it was it was discovered, it crouched down and lay still, looking directly at Baily, who pulled up and shot it, putting a bullet square between its eyes, which ended its career. The reader may draw his own conclusions, but in my opinion it would not be wise to take chances.
Resents Male's DeathBruce Kitterman, an old resident of the Illinois Valley, told me he was out hunting for deer with a friend in the Siskiyous once upon a time, camping out. In those days they hunted with muzzle-loading rifles. One day they went out together and came to a very brushy gulch. This man agreed to follow along up the gulch, and Bruce was to keep along above so he could see a deer if one ran out up the hill on the opposite side, and get a shot. They wanted to keep as nearly parallel to each other as they could, and it was sure a fine thing that they did, for they hadn't proceeded far before the man along the gulch came to a small opening, and there, right in front of him, were two large cougars, a male and a female. He pulled right down and shot and killed the female dead. The old male attacked him furiously. The man jerked his knife and tried to defend himself, at the same time yelling like a Comanche Indian. Bruce rushed down to give him help, and was only a few minutes getting there and, taking in the situation, shot and killed the cougar instantly. But in the short time it tore the man's clothes all off, and tore him up so badly that Bruce had to pack him in on his back, which was some job if you will listen to my gentle voice. In a few days, however, the man was able to ride a horse and they went home.
Butte Falls Man FollowedOnly a few weeks ago I was told about a man near Butte Falls. He was out in the timber looking around, his little boy with him, when he passed by a large log, and happening to turn and look back, discovered a large cougar coming along on top of the log. When it saw it was discovered it stopped and crouched down a little and looked straight towards them. Having no gun, the man struck right out for home, keeping the boy close to him, and he saw nothing more of the cougar.
Griffin Has ExperienceOne time when I was living in the Illinois Valley, I was followed by a cougar. It is not a very long story, so I will tell you about it now. One summer, Captain Inskeep of the Portland police came out and spent his vacation near where I lived. We got pretty well acquainted, and when he and his wife got ready to go back I took them over to Grants Pass so they could take the train. The Captain had a fine thoroughbred female Collie with him which he gave to me. I took her with me on a squirrel hunt, and carried with me only a .22-caliber rifle. I went farther than I intended or I would have taken a heavier gun. I struck a trail and followed along through the timber, and after awhile I came out into quite an opening, perhaps 75 or 100 yards across. Just as I got to the opposite side I heard a cougar scream back on the trail I had just come along. It was near the edge of the timber, so I got behind a stump and watched for the cougar to come out into the opening where I could shoot it, but it didn't show up, and in a short time I heard it scream again, this time a hundred yards or more below the trail, and in a little while I heard it again still farther away. I have been told that they will follow a female dog and kill it. How true this is I do not know. But I will say this much, don't be too brave when you are dealing with a cougar or your may run up against a snag.
In my next story I will tell you about two cougars that followed me into camp late one evening, and how both of them came to grief. But I wasn't hunting with a muzzle-loading rifle. Of course I realize that certain parties who don't subscribe to the News will borrow a neighbor's paper and read this story and say it is a lie. We'll write it anyhow, believe it or not, as Ripley says.
Medford News, March 22, 1935, page 1
Two Cougars in One Day
Fall Before John Griffin's Rifle
Little Butte Country, Near Mt. Pitt, Once Happy Hunting Ground;
Deer, Bear, Cougar and Wolves Roamed Hills Together
By JOHN GRIFFIN
In this story I am going to tell in part of a hunt in the Fish Lake country in the vicinity of old Mt. Pitt, where we had the fight with the bald-faced bear, one of the most ferocious bears that roamed the woods.
Camped on Little Butte
On this hunt, Temple was with me, as usual. We made our camp upon the banks of a little stream that headed at the foot of Black Butte [Brown Mountain], one of the highest mountains in the range with the exception of Mt. Pitt [Mount McLoughlin]. This stream is really the south fork of Little Butte, which empties into the Rogue River near Medford. This was a lovely camping place in those days and could only be reached with pack horses through miles and miles of heavy timber.
Stream Ran Small
The stream had just enough fall to make it run smooth and even along banks that were fringed with fir and white pine and also prairies with grass two feet high or more. The north was a thick belt of timber for a half a mile or more and then opened into a large prairie called Elk Prairie. To the east rose Black Butte, to the west, Round Mountains, and to the north old Mt. Pitt, that grand old mountain the people of southern Oregon love so well.
View Was Beautiful
From the summit one can see hundreds of miles in all directions and can look down almost into the famed Crater Lake and also the famous Rogue River Valley. To the east and south one can look all over the Klamath County and the lava beds where Captain Jack and his little band of Modoc Indians made their last stand. In those days it was a wild country and all kinds of game roamed the woods. Deer, bear, elk, cougars and wolves--the big gray fellows that feared nothing when hungry.
Well, the next morning after Temp and I arrived at our camp, I took my rifle and went upon on the south side of the creek and hunted pretty well over to within a short distance of Lake of the Woods before I got a shot. At length I came to the edge of a prairie and upon looking to the extreme opposite side I discovered three deer; two lying down and the other standing. It was a long shot, and as I was in the timber out of sight, I concluded to try and get closer and try for all three. So I turned back into the timber and went around the prairie.
I was now within 40 yards of the seven-pointer, which it proved to be. I made up my mind to kill it, which I knew I could do, and take chances on getting one or both of the others. So I placed the gun across a log and drew a fine bead on the big fellow's neck and fired. At the crack of the gun he went all heels and as the other one turned to look, the Winchester cracked again. He ran a short distance and over he went. The third deer was going at a trot to get out of there, but too late! The Winchester cracked a third time and down he went. It took quite a little time to dress and hang them up.
Then I started out again and went south towards the Fort Klamath road. As I began to realize I was a long distance from camp, I finally turned west and hit the trail we had went in on (as there was danger of getting lost). This thought hastened me along and I was hitting the high places when I saw a small deer standing directly in front of me. It was just the thing for camp meat, so I pulled up and killed it and fixed it up and swung it on my back and away I went again. Soon I struck the trail we went in on and this cheered me up and I hiked along now feeling pretty good. The sun was getting low and to make it a little more disagreeable I heard the low dismal howl of a gray wolf, which had a tendency to make cold chills run all over me.
Trailed by Cougar
I hurried along and was getting within a half or three-quarters of a mile of camp when all at once I was sure I heard a slight noise behind me. I sure was on the alert and to my surprise--to say the least--I saw a large cougar within 30 steps. My rifle came to my shoulder quick as lightning.
Trailer to Rescue
When he saw he was discovered he half crouched and with his head low on the ground looked straight at me. I caught a bead square between the eyes and fired. I saw him bowl over and at the same time I heard a bush crack at the back so I threw the deer down and hit out pretty lively and kept blowing the horn, and in a few minutes I heard Trailer coming. When he got to me he reared up on his hind paws and looking up, said as plain as words, "What do you want?" I waited for Temp and we hurried back and when Trailer got that cougar scent and track he was only a few minutes putting it up and we both shot to make sure. It rolled over dead.
One was a male, the other a female--both big ones.
Gosh, I sure didn't sleep good that night, for every time I thought of that confounded cougar it would make the cold chills run up and down my back. This was only the first day's hunt. The whole story of the hunt was published in Forest and Stream, for which I received $25, but I will write it for the News in installments, as there is, no doubt, thousands who have never read it.
However, in closing, I will tell you I skinned these two cougars and left the feet and head on the hides so they could be mounted and sold [them] to a merchant in Ashland. The first was sold to George Engle and the other to Doctor Helms.
Medford News, May 15, 1935, page 1
Griffin Rescues Partner from Bald-Faced BruinThe next morning I wanted to go over to Fish Lake to get some fish but Temp said, "No, I'm going to get me a buck," so I saddled up and struck out for Fish Lake alone. I took the gun and dogs along, though I didn't intend to hunt, but this proved to be a very fortunate move, for there was in store for us more excitement that day than we had ever dreamed of.
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
The next morning after killing the cougars, as told in a previous story, Temp and I took the horses and went out after the three big bucks I had killed the day before. When we got where they were we tied up our horses and went over toward Black Butte to hunt awhile before starting back to camp. This time we had old Trailer and Ranger with, and, as I have mentioned before, they were two of the best bear dogs on earth.
Pick Up Fresh Track
It wasn't long until they scented a fresh bear track and went to work on it. It was easy to see that the bear had been wandering around turning over rocks and logs in his search for worms and ants, so it wasn't long until the dogs got him strung out, and away they went. Temp and I pulled for high ground, and as we could hear them going toward camp we were in hopes that they would tree him near there.
Returned to Camp
In this we were disappointed, as they swung to the right around the west side of Black Butte and treed on the other side. The only thing we could do now was to return and load on our deer and go back to camp. We got back about one o'clock, and after eating a bite and letting the horses do the same we saddled up and struck out again. We went across Elk Prairie, crossed Butte Creek at Fish Lake ford and spent the balance of the afternoon around the side of old Mt. Pitt, all without success, so returned to camp.
Dogs Out All Night
It was now too late to pursue any kind of game, so we had to wait until morning. We were up bright and early but still no dogs. They were sure staying with him. As soon as it was light we were off and steered straight for little Round Mountain, which lies west of Elk Prairie and east of the Collister [McAllister] Soda Springs on Little Butte Creek, from the top of which we could hear in every direction.
Trailer Answers Horn
In an hour or so we reached the top and were very much disappointed, for we were unable to hear a sound. I told Temp that perhaps they had been at the tree so long that they were not barking steady and I would blow the horn, feeling sure that if old Trailer heard it he would answer mighty quick. I raised up the horn, which I carried at my side, and blew it loud and long. As the sound reverberated and died away, old Trailer answered. Talk about a thrill! Temp jumped straight to his feet and let out a yell. I cautioned him to keep still and blew the horn again and both dogs began to bark vigorously. We started down the mountain and I could hardly keep Temp from running. It was nearly a mile down to where they were and when we began to get close, we kept behind trees out of sight until we got close enough to fill him with lead, should he undertake to come down.
At last we stepped right out and walked up under the tree, but he had no intention of coming down. He was a big mealy-nosed brown bear and he sat in the forks of that tree as unconcerned and secure as though he had found a safe place to hole up for the winter.
Afraid to Shoot Him
The dogs were wild now and tore around the tree barking savagely. I said, "Shoot him, Temp."
"Not me," Temp said, "he's too big for me."
"All right then," said I. "I'll shoot him. I'm going to shoot him in the head and you be ready if I should make a miscue, for it will never do to let him get down here alive."
I waited back a few paces and, taking careful aim, pulled the trigger. Bang! Out he rolled like he had been hit on the head with a sledge hammer and came tumbling down through the limbs, dead when he struck the ground.
Both dogs piled onto him and we let them shake him around as long as they wanted to, for they had been waiting a long time for the chance. Temp now went back after the horses while I got the bear ready to pack and brought with him some venison for Trailer and Ranger, and it was sure delightful to see them devour it.
Tries Luck at Fishing
Temp started out after his buck, and when he got about halfway up the mountain he struck a big buck track, and after following it awhile found where it had gone down into a basin that was full of high brush so he knew it would [omission] to follow it into the brush. For this reason he decided to go up on the rimrock above where he could see over. Selecting a favorable place, he sat down and looked over the basin for a long time, then all at once he saw the top of a bush shake. Soon he saw it shake again. He was sure now that it was a deer browsing in the tender leaves of the brush, but kept still and waited a few minutes longer. Then the point of a horn came into sight. By this time he was getting impatient and concluded to take a chance shot, so he pulled down and drawing a bead about where he thought the head ought to be, fired. He missed. Up came the head and bang went the gun again. Another miss. Away went the buck crashing through the brush, with Temp stringing bullets after him at every jump and missing every time.
At last the buck emerged into an open place and Temp got a bullet into him. The deer turned, quartering along the hill, and Temp kept shooting, but soon the deer disappeared in the brush. Temp went down, picked up the track and followed it awhile, but finally had to give it up and started back to camp to get Ranger to catch it for him.
Meets Bear, 2 Shells LeftExamining his gun he found that he had but two cartridges left as he arrived within a few yards of Elk Prairie. Crossing the Fish Lake trail he happened to look to the left and saw what he thought was a big black bear coming along the trail directly toward him. The bear was walking slowly along with his head down and had not seen Temp at all. Pulling his gun up quickly he fired, but the hammer snapped on an empty chamber. Temp had forgotten to reload. He quickly threw in a load and the noise attracted the bear. Halting, the bear threw up its head, looking squarely and fearlessly at Temp, and now for the first time Temp saw its white face and all the stories he had ever heard of the ferociousness of the bald-faced bear flashed through his mind. The bear had hesitated but an instant and now came straight on. Temp thought he was entitled to get into as much action as the bear, so he didn't hesitate either. He ran for the nearest tree and began to climb, leaving his gun on the ground.
The bear came straight on and when he got close to the tree drew himself up to his full height and champed his teeth hungrily. This struck terror to Temp's heart and he commenced to yell like a Comanche Indian, with the hope that I would hear him and come to his rescue. Old Bald Face down below did not offer to leave; he reared up and looked up at Temp then dropped down on all fours and walked around the tree and then sat up on his haunches looking up at Temp in a way that made the cold chills run up his back, and all the time Temp was yelling like a madman. He told me afterwards that he thought he was up that tree for two hours, but in reality it was about twenty minutes.
Poor Fishing, Good LuckI hope you won't think I was foolish enough to follow that wounded bear; if you do, you have another guess coming. I struck out for camp, and when I was about halfway, I saw a big buck lying down and looking over his shoulder at me. He was about 125 yards away from me. I pulled down, shot and saw him jump up and stagger away wounded. I moved on in a lively manner to camp. How I did long for the two dogs! I built a fire and made coffee in record time. I saddled up my horse and called the dogs and we were off to where I had shot the big buck. There was a trail of blood, and I sent Ranger after him alone, as I knew both dogs would try to kill him. Keeping Trailer back I soon heard the baying of Ranger, who had backed the buck among the limbs of a big pine tree. Within 50 yards, I shot him in the head. He was a fine deer, nine points on each horn. (To my knowledge these horns are in Ashland to this day.)
I had had poor fishing and was on my way back to camp when, just as I was emerging from the timber into Elk Prairie, I heard Temp yell. I did not realize for a few seconds what it was, so stopped my horse and listened. Then it came again, and this time I knew who it was and lit out as fast as I could go, the dogs following behind. When I got within about a hundred yards Trailer and Ranger dashed past me like the wind down the edge of the prairie and dived into the woods.
Trailer to the Rescue
In less than a minute I heard a terrific racket and heard Temp yell "Go after him, Trailer," then out into the open dashed the big bald-faced [bear], and the fight was on. Two wonderful dogs that knew just how to fight and one of the fiercest and most fearless bear that roams the woods.
When he struck the open ground where the dogs had a fair chance to fight both seized him by the hams, but this bear was different. Instead of swinging around in an attempt to throw them off, he sat down on his haunches in an attempt to crush them with his weight, but just then something happened that no one present figured on. The old cur dog that had been left in camp arrived on the scene and, sizing up the situation in a trice, jumped and grabbed the bald-face by the side of the head. This brought the bear up standing, and in an instant he gave the dog hanging to his jaw a swipe that sent him rolling about fifteen feet. Then he swung around to get at the other dogs, but they were too foxy for him and let go and got out of the way. They got right down to business now and began to work on him systematically.
Temp Comes Out of Tree
I rushed in to where Temp was and found that he was down out of the tree now and picking up his gun. I gave him four shells, all I had, and we ran out to the edge of the prairie. By this time they were out some fifty to sixty yards and the fight was raging fast and furious. It was a great sight to witness, and the dogs were getting their work in now, without taking too many chances of getting hurt. We waited for a chance when we were both loaded up again, and when it came both fired at once. Temp put a bullet through his body and I tried for the head, but hit low and broke his jaw.
Old Lion Gets Sat On
When the guns cracked, Old Lion sprang and caught him by the side of the head again. The bear threw his paw around him and sank right down on him. We gave Old Lion up for good; we felt sure that he would be chewed up in short order, for at this time I did not know that I had broken Old Bald Face's jaw. We now ran up several steps and began pouring the lead into him and in a few minutes the old dog slowly crawled out from under. I was now within a few steps and, carefully placing my shot, put a bullet into his brain and he rolled over dead.
Poor Old Lion was so badly used up we could hardly get him to camp, but Trailer and Ranger came through without a scratch, and was soon all ready for another battle.
Temp said that he never was so tickled in all his life when Trailer dashed in and tackled that bear, and he always spoke of him as being the finest dog on earth.
Medford News, July 5, 1935, page 1 Griffin had previously told this story in the April 1918 Oregon Sportsman, above.
John Griffin and William Neil came in from Dead Indian Saturday with a couple of fat bucks, one of which was an unusually large fellow with a fine pair of antlers. They disposed of the venison readily.
Another Deer and Bear Story
by an Old Pioneer
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
One evening about four o'clock, when I was living in the Dead Indian country [circa 1887-1893], I saddled my horse and, taking Trailer and Ranger, I struck out for the woods for a short hunt. I really didn't expect to run across a bear but wanted a deer, as our meat supply was low and we had company with us, friends from Phoenix.
Dogs Strike Bear Track
I had not gone a mile when the dogs struck a bear track, and away they went! I followed them as rapidly as I could, hoping that they would tree it. It wasn't long until they were out of hearing going north toward Fish Lake in a lively chase, the air ringing with "dog" comments. I rode all evening and got up on high ground, but lost track of them. The bear had evidently a big start ahead and made good use of his time. All I could do now was to return home and wait until tomorrow and start out again. I knew those dogs would overtake him somewhere, but the question was where?
Bucks Stop to Look Back
The next morning I saddled my horse and started out again, trusting that I could guess the right course. Frequently I stopped to listen. I came to a small stream, its banks lined with patches of brush, and a four-point buck and a forked horn crashed out in front of me. They bounded away for a short distance and both stopped broadside to look back. I slid off my horse in double-quick time and shot the four-pointer first; the other started away and I shot and killed him, too. They were fine and sleek, I thought as I dressed them up. I decided to continue my hunt for the dogs and return the next day and pack the deer in.
Dogs Come Trailing Back
One of the highest peaks in that part of the country was just north of me; I rode to the top where I could see in every direction and hear any sound like Trailer's bark for miles. But no sir, not a sound. Disgusted, I departed for home, and I hadn't been in the house twenty minutes when Trailer and Ranger came trotting in. I was overjoyed to see them.
The next day I took my horses and packed grub and blankets and camped near where I had my two bucks hanging. That evening I left the dogs in camp recovering from their previous long hunt and managed to kill two more deer, which made me a total of four.
Early the following morning I decided to have a final look-around before departing for home with my four deer. The dogs were so comfortably resting on their bed of saddle blankets that I just picked up my gun and backed out alone.
Bear Caught Seeking Grubs
I didn't see any game of any kind and went about two miles when I heard a slight noise in the brush not far from me. I discovered signs of a bear turning over rocks and rotten logs for bugs. "Aha," said I and dropped my gun down on my left arm, with my right thumb on the lock and finger on the trigger. I proceeded very cautiously a short distance when suddenly a large brown bear came in sight about sixty yards away. She was walking slowly along, turning her head from side to side, looking for bugs, and perfectly oblivious of me. I drew the gun up, and aimed between the eyes, but I am satisfied she swung her head to the right as I fired, striking her in the shoulder. Down she went and rolled out of sight in the brush before I could get in another shot; then I saw a large cub run up a fir tree.
Didn't Follow Wounded Bear
With the two dogs, I proceeded to the place where I had shot the bear. When the dogs smelled blood, they went wild. In less than two minutes they had her, and the fight was on. It was the prettiest fight I ever saw. First one would catch her by the ham, then the other, until they almost had her licked to a frazzle. Neither of them got a scratch. I took a bead and shot her dead, then I went to the big fir where Cubby was away up in the top. I pulled up and shot him square between the eyes, and down he came.
The hunt was over except the packing, which was some job for one man alone. I had a double block and tackle which lightened the burden and made it comparatively easy to load them on the horses. There were five deer, two of which were large bucks, and two bears--a good haul for a hunt that entailed one night of camping.
Now, I must tell you about the other bear treed by Trailer and Ranger in the beginning. They caught up with him on the north fork of Butte Creek near McAllister Springs. John Robinson, a resident of Medford at that time, was camped at the Springs on a hunting and recreation trip; it was he who stepped in and killed the bear.
A week or so after the occurrence I met him in Medford, and he told me about it. I was glad that he was there to go to old Trailer in my place, as it was 20 miles away and I probably never would have located them.
Now, my friends, when you read this story, you can read it with the assurance that you are reading a true story, and one that has never been written before.
Medford News, July 19, 1935, page 1
John Griffin's dogs started a bear at Johnson's Prairie on Jenny Creek one day recently and followed it all the way to the McAllister Soda Spring on Butte Creek, some twenty miles, and treed it there. A couple of men at that place heard the dogs barking, knew whose they were and started for the tree expecting to get the bear. They were not disappointed. The bear was there and they killed it, after which the dogs contentedly struck out for home.
Trailer Caught First BearMedford News, September 11, 1935, page 1
When Less Than a Year Old
By John B. Griffin
When Trailer was just a little over a year old he treed his first bear, a feat not often accomplished by a young dog, especially one that had never had any previous experience, or training with an older dog. All of which goes to show that he was a natural bear dog, which his record proves. By those who knew him best, he was classed as the best single-handed bear dog on the Pacific Coast, and this was conceded by men who did and had owned some mighty good bear dogs. Crit Tolman hunted with me a great deal, and although he had a number of good bear dogs, some of which had cost him a lot of money, he always said that Trailer was the only genuine bear dog that he ever seen. However that may be, if I should write an account of every bear he treed it would fill a good-sized book.
Henry Remembers DogsMedford News, August 7, 1935, page 1 Griffin had told the same story for the Talent News of May 1, 1893, above.
I met a man in Medford just a few days ago who came up to me and said, "How do you do, Mr. Griffin, you don't know me do you?"
"No," I said, "I know your face but I can't [re]call your name."
"Well," he said, "My name is Henry. A long time ago I was working for a man on Griffin Creek, and your bear dog caught thirteen bears that fall."
"You missed it just one," I replied, "he caught fourteen."
The season when he was three years old he caught twenty, several of them on Big and Little Applegate. In the early days the bears used to come right down in our fields and kill big fat hogs and most of the time would get away with it, for it seemed like we could never get a dog that would tree them. But the time I speak of old Bruin got badly fooled.
Bear Gets After Dogs
Although it had been some time since a bear had killed a hog on our ranch, when I heard a hog squeal about ten o'clock one night after I had gone to bed, I said to my wife, "That's a bear."
I jumped up and grabbed my gun and ran outside to find that Trailer and the old cur dog were already on the way and soon I heard Trailer going up the hill after him and sending me word at every jump. The other dog had been hurt by a bear, and when he got to the track he stopped and commenced to bark and would go no farther.
In a few minutes I heard Trailer commence to bark at the foot of a tree. He had overtaken the bear and made him climb. I urged the other dog to go and when he saw me with a gun he went and in a very short time he reached the tree and both barked furiously. In the meantime John S. Miller, who was staying at my sister's place nearby, came to me, but he had no gun. In a short time we had got to the tree and sure enough there he was up a large bull pine and we could see him plainly.
Miller asked me to give him the gun as he had had more experience than I had, so I handed him my 44 Winchester and he up and banged away and missed him completely. In less time than it takes to tell it, he was down and away he went with both dogs right after him and in about a hundred yards they put him up in a large dead fir. The stars were shining brightly, and I could see him plainly enough. I had never killed but two bears at that time and this was the first one I had ever seen up a tree, but I had shot coons out of a tree after night and I had learned not to try to take a sight, but to cock the gun, hold it down with my finger on the trigger, keep my eyes on the game, bring the gun right up in line with the game and pull the trigger. So I did this and when the gun cracked, Mr. Bear came tumbling down through the dead limbs and the dogs piled on him and commenced to shake him savagely.
We waited a few minutes before we went to look, but there was no danger; old Bruin had received a bullet right through his heart and was dead before he struck the ground. This was the beginning of the career of as fine a dog as ever stood on four legs, and I know he had more friends in Jackson County than any dog that was ever bred here.
To give you an idea of the opinion of hunters who had hunted with me and thus knew of Trailer's worth and dependability at first hand, I will relate on incident that happened in Ashland.
A man by the name of Puckett lived out a few miles beyond Parker Station on the old Klamath Falls road and owned a dog that he called "Swift." Happening in at Burris' saloon in Ashland one day he met Squire Parker, who had hunted with me and knew Trailer well. During the conversation Trailer was mentioned. Puckett made the remark that he had as good a bear dog as Trailer. Well, he sure jumped into a hornet's nest, for he got called right now. Squire Parker offered to bet him a hundred dollars to fifty that Trailer would catch three bears to his dog's one, both hunting day about from the same camp. This was too much confidence for Puckett and he had to squeal enough.
I tell this only to show the high regard and the great confidence that Trailer's friends had in him, and he sure earned every bit of it.
In This Bear Hunt,
John Griffin Forgets His Gun
By John B. Griffin
In this story I am going to tell the readers of my most successful bear hunts, and for fear that I may make the story too long, I will tell only the principal and most interesting parts.
The friend who was with me on this hunt later became a resident of Ashland and at one time was mayor of that town, as well as being vice-president of one of the banks there, but in this story I am going to call him just plain Bob [Robert P. Neil].
Bob's Hunting Little Known
I have no doubt that there are a great many residents of Ashland who will be surprised to know that Bob ever hunted bear or ever hunted at all for that matter, but let me tell you, don't deceive yourself, for in those days there were few men in Jackson County who could lay it over Bob in either shooting or hunting, which was demonstrated to my entire satisfaction on this trip.
Bob and I used to live neighbors in the Dead Indian country in those days, and it was from there that we started on the hunt that I am going to tell you about. The region around Mt. Pitt was our destination, where bear, deer, elk and wolves abounded and we went, as the old saying is, loaded for bear, for it was bear that we wanted and we took two bear dogs with us that we knew could be depended upon.
Trailer, the famous old bear dog that the readers have heard so much about in my stories, and Ranger, one of the best helpers he ever had, so we were ready to follow them to the end of the trail.
44 Winchester Good Gun
We started out with five pack horses and a 44 Winchester apiece with plenty of ammunition and plenty of grub. Now, in this day and age some people might think it strange that anyone would go out to hunt big game with a 44 Winchester, but in those days, a high-powered gun was scarce, and let me tell you I have been in some pretty close places when all I had to depend upon was the 44 Winchester, and I always managed to come out all right.
By noon of the first day we had made Web-Foot Prairie. Here was an old cabin with a fireplace in it that had been built several years before by Bob Neil, Bill Daly, Paris Hamilton and others, and let me add that Bill Daly and Paris Hamilton were two wonderful hunters and extra good shots, too.
Streams Were BeautifulMedford News, August 14, 1935, page 1 Griffin had previously told this story in the April 1917 Oregon Sportsman, above.
We cooked dinner here and let our horses fill up on the grass, which was as high as their backs in some places, and at one o'clock we packed up and pulled out, intending to go as far as Big Elk Prairie. There were no trails so we struck out through the timber, and after traveling three or four hours we came to a stream that flows out of Black Butte and makes one prong of Little Butte Creek. Here was grass two or three feet high and a huge spreading maple to camp under by the side of one of the prettiest streams I ever saw. It seemed too good to pass by so we simply unpacked, turned the horses loose and after resting awhile got out our lines and soon had a nice mess of mountain trout. This same stream can now be reached from Ashland in a couple of hours, as there is an automobile road right through the country.
Forgot To Take Gun
After supper we concluded to take a walk out toward Big Elk Prairie, which we knew could not be far. Right here I want to make a confession. I did a trick that doesn't or didn't happen often to any man being used to the mountains. No doubt the reader will smile, but I went out on this walk without my gun. Now don't kid me about this too much when you meet me on the street after you have read this story, for I am just a little sensitive about it yet. One excuse I had was that I didn't want the dogs to go, and if I left the gun in camp they would not want to follow. This may be a poor excuse but is the best I had.
However, Bob did take his gun and I sauntered along, not thinking for a moment that we would see any game that would be worth shooting at. In this I was mistaken, as you will see, for we soon came to the edge of Big Elk Prairie and there not over a hundred and twenty-five yards away were two big gray wolves feeding on a deer that they had probably killed.
One Dropped by Bob
Imagine my feelings as I was compelled to stand there looking on while Bob pulled up his Winchester and, taking careful aim at one of them, pulled away. At the crack of the gun the wolf leaped high in the air, turned round and round then rolled over. The other one sprang off a few yards and stopped to look and listen. The lever went down and up and another bullet sped from the 44 and caught him in the thigh. Away he went, now on three legs, toward the timber, and away went Bob, stopping to shoot about every twenty yards. How it would have ended it is hard to tell but just then I heard the dogs coming. I succeeded in stopping Trailer, but Ranger passed me like a cyclone and saw the wolf. I could just see a black streak going across that prairie.
It was plain to be seen that Ranger would overtake him before he could get to the timber. Bob kept on going but did not shoot any more after Ranger passed him. The race was soon over and when the wolf saw he was being overtaken, he stopped and swung around to face the enemy.
Ranger, without making a sound, dashed right at him and ran round and round and every chance he got would grab for a ham. He was too foxy to close in on him by himself. But, if I had let Trailer go, there would have been a mighty lively fight. I thought he was too valuable to take any chance on letting a wolf cut him up. Bob soon got there and the Winchester cracked again and I saw Ranger grab him by the ham and commence to yank him around.
Felt Well Sold Out
I let Trailer go now, but the fight was over. I know he was extremely disappointed, but I couldn't help it. Bob wanted to take the hides off, so after doing this, Bob said I could take the gun now and he would carry the pelts. Very nice of him, wasn't it? I was very much chagrined and kept thinking it would be about fifty degrees below zero if I ever did a trick like that again.
Clouds Swept Away
In returning we kept up nearer the foot of the hill and just as we got well into the timber, out jumped a big five-point buck and away he went out through the open timber. I was a fairly good shot on the run in those days, so I quickly caught a bead and sent a bullet after him that caught him in the bulge of the ribs and ranging forward passed through the heart. He ran a few yards and fell. Say believe me, all my troubles had vanished instantly and I felt as happy as a big sunflower.
Two wolves and a buck was pretty good luck to start in with, and we with several miles yet to go to our permanent camp.
Camp Near Mt. Pitt
The next morning we packed up and went out across Big Elk Prairie, crossed Butte Creek and on up past Fish Lake and on up the trail toward Lake o' the Woods a few miles and then turned to the left and kept around the side of old Mt. Pitt and landed high up on a creek that flows into the Lake o' the Woods where we found a beautiful place to camp. Running water, lots of grass and lots of huckleberries. The balance of the day we spent in fixing up camp, skinning our big buck, making a rack to jerk the meat on and were ready to start out the next morning for a real hunt.
We were in a wild country now and had big expectations, as the game was seldom bothered and we had such a good start we were confident we would do well. So we were up bright and early the next morning and started out. I took the dogs and went straight up the creek, and Bob crossed over and was supposed to follow around the side of Mt. Pitt, lower down so that if Trailer started a bear he would stand a better chance to hear him.
Dogs Start Bear
Bob cautioned me before we started to be sure and take my gun along. Sort of rubbing it in, don't you think? I had only gone about half a mile when I saw where a bear had been browsing around in a huckleberry patch. The dogs were a short distance back so I gave the horn a few short toots and it brought them in a hurry. The track was fresh and they were soon off and going up the hill and soon on the other side where I knew Bob would be. I hurried on up and when I got to the top, which wasn't far, I heard them away down toward the Fish Lake trail. They had overtaken him and were fighting him on the ground.
I would like to give you the details of this fight, but space will not permit; suffice it to say that we followed up and got him. He was an old mealy-nosed brown bear. I have given you the details of these bear fights so often that I know you must all be familiar with them by now, so I will tell you about the elk we got, which I am sure will be more interesting to you.
We laid off the next day and kept the fire going under the meat rack, but the next morning we started out again and went west around the side of old Mt. Pitt. When we were about two miles from camp and as we were passing through a big burn I saw, lying down by a big log and about 125 yards from us, a big buck. He saw us and turned his head toward us. I pulled up and shot and he rolled over. We started down to where he lay and Bob asked me where I had hit him. I thought I had given him a quartering shot, so I said, "probably through the heart."
Shot Squarely Between Eyes
Imagine my chagrin when we got down to where he lay to find that I had hit him squarely between the eyes. Bob liked his joke so he never let up on me the whole trip, and the first time we went in to Ashland, he took especial pains to tell it. It probably was a good poke, for I prided myself on being a good shot. The buck had nine points on one horn and ten on the other.
Find Traces of Elk
After dressing him and hanging him up we went on and in about another mile we came to a clearing of perhaps three or four acres in [omission] it was discovered there had been a bunch of elk there. I immediately became excited, for if there was one thing I liked to hunt in those days it was elk. We set to work to figure out where they had left the clearing and what direction they had taken. Around and around we went for quite awhile and finally found the point where they had left the glade on the west side and were traveling up and around the side of Mt. Pitt. We followed for a long way and at last came to where they had been standing under some fir trees and out in a little opening had been lying down. On we went as they were easily followed now, going most of the time in single file, and finally came to a grassy spot, away up on the south side of Mt. Pitt, facing Fish Lake, and there they had great holes pawed out and had been lying down. We soon discovered that they had gone out the upper end of the clearing, but this time they had swung back east around the side of the mountain.
Find Elk Near Lake
We followed along until about three o'clock when the trail took a turn up toward a gap in the ridge that runs down east from Mt. Pitt. We went on up and through the gap and, on going down a short distance, discovered them at a small round lake. One big buck elk was standing out in the middle, up to his knees in the water. Near the edge were two more lying down; a few yards away stood a cow and calf. This was sure a sight that made my heart leap for joy.
It was a long shot for a 44, but a big mark to shoot at. We pulled up without ever saying a word to each other and fired at the big buck. He threw up his head, staggered and started to wade out. Bang, bang! went the Winchesters, and again as he got near the edge. Now we saw that he was going to fall, and stopped shooting.
At the first shots the others sprang up and were gone and our task now was to dress him, which was no small job as he was as big as a good-sized ox and had immense horns. I kept these horns quite awhile and finally let Harry Poole of Klamath Falls have them. He was running a picture show there and he probably has them yet.
It was getting pretty late by the time we got the elk dressed, so we hiked for camp. Passing through the gap we turned east and followed the ridge for some distance, then turned down the hill and took a straight shot for camp. We were tired and hungry, having had nothing to eat since morning, but had fed the dogs on liver when we dressed the buck.
About halfway to camp, the dogs struck a bear track and away they went around the side of old Mt. Pitt, making the woods ring with their noise. We stood and listened, hoping they would soon tree him, but we were doomed to disappointment for they kept getting farther and farther away and finally went out of hearing. We knew then that the jig was up so went on to camp, arriving a little after dark. We did not hesitate about what to do, but fell to and soon had supper ready and the buck meat disappeared very rapidly.
We were up against it, but ate first and talked the matter over afterward. Both dogs out after a bear, and an elk and a big buck to bring in. We finally decided that one of us would have to go and hunt for the dogs and the other go after the elk and buck. Bob said that he would go and hunt the dogs, explaining that as I was used to butchering and knew just how to skin and quarter it up, that I was the logical man for that job and that it would take him forever to do it.
So I yielded like a good butcher, though I had a suspicion that Bob was pretty anxious to go after the dogs, for it was almost sure that he would get a bear.
This story is rather long, so if you want to hear the balance just say so and I will "come again."
John Gives Final Chapter
of Story on Bear Fight
Well, here we are again. I have described so many bear fights that I thought that perhaps the readers were getting tired of them, but it seems like every time I go downtown I meet so many people who want to get the balance of this story that I suppose I will just have to give you Bob's description of the rest of this one.
The next morning Bob saddled up his horse and lit out.
Don't Let Trailer Get Hurt!
"Don't let Trailer get hurt at any cost," I cautioned.
With his promise that he would be careful, he was gone.
I took the pack horses and went up to where the elk lay and after considerable work, with few tools to work with, I got him cut up and in shape to pack. It was getting late by the time I got into camp and found Bob already there. He had a big black bear all right and I was mighty glad to see old Trailer was also safe and sound, for I was always uneasy when he was away overnight with a bear treed.
Climbs High on Mt. Pitt
After supper Bob told me all about it. He had gone down the Fish Lake trail and followed it for several miles and then turned to the right and kept around the side of old Mt. Pitt, getting higher up until he finally came to a deep canyon. Here he stopped and listened for quite awhile and, hearing nothing, concluded to cross the canyon and get on top of the ridge on the other side. He had a difficult time getting across that canyon, but after reaching the other side he found better going and then soon reached the top of the ridge.
Stopping to listen, to his great delight he heard old Trailer's long deep cry, "bow-wow-wo-ow." And not over half a mile away down below him, so he led his horse along until he got within perhaps three hundred yards of the tree, then tied his horse and proceeded afoot.
Bob Makes Big Mistake
Now right here is where Bob made a mistake. In his haste to get to the tree, he made too much noise. The bear came down and the fight was on. A battle royal it was, with a big black bear pitted against two of the best bear dogs that ever looked up a tree. Bob ran as fast as he could to get there, and when he got in sight here is what he saw.
Both dogs were working systematically and making it hot for Mr. Bear. Trailer would catch him by the ham, and as he swung around to strike Trailer would let go and get away and Ranger would grab him from the other side. They did not know that Bob was there until his gun cracked, and then Bob said it was wonderful to see them handle him without either dog getting hurt. They just actually kept him going so fast back and forth that Bob couldn't get in a dead shot. He kept following up, however, and at last got a bullet through his heart and the fight was over. It was impossible to describe this fight, Bob said; it had to be seen to be appreciated.
The dramatic part of this fight appeared when Bob came to examine his gun. It was empty--his last shot had been fired, and when we skinned that bear he had fourteen bullet holes through his hide.
I feel that it is not necessary to describe the trip home. It was without incident, but in my next story I will promise to tell you about the scrap Bob and I got into with the Sugar-Loaf Bear near the Cove Ranch and how we got whipped to a fare-you-well. It will show you what a genuine dog is. I shall spare neither Bob nor myself, but give you a true story of the actual happenings.
Medford News, September 6, 1935, page 1 Griffin had previously told this story in the April 1917 Oregon Sportsman, above.
Thunder and Lightning, W. H. Mowat's bear hounds, circa 1902.
Fuson Remembers Unhappy Meeting
with Griffin Dogs
"These bear stories John Griffin has been writing for your paper make me think of the time those two dogs of his, Trailer and Ranger, first came to Ashland," T. J. Fuson, local insurance man, said yesterday. "How it was they didn't get shot is more than I can tell."
Fuson, at that time, about 30 years ago, was working in the Postal Telegraph relay office in Ashland, and the manager of the office, W. H. Mowat, kept the two dogs for Griffin when they weren't out hunting.
Dogs Came from Eureka
The dogs, according to Fuson, were bought by Griffin from the sheriff who lived at Eureka, California, and had been man hunters before going into the bear hunting business.
"Every time they'd get loose from Mowat's house," Fuson said, "they'd come down to the office. The first time they came they got me cornered in a back room and held me there for 45 minutes. Every time I'd move they'd lunge at me. If I'd had a gun I'd killed them both. Every wire in the place was signaling for me to answer, and here I was cornered by these two dogs. Every time I'd move they'd step closer, show their teeth and snarl. When Mowat came I sure told him a thing or two. He kept the dogs out of the office after that.
Got Stephenson Cornered
"Then one day they got George Stephenson cornered in his own yard. He was clipping the hedge, and they got him in a corner and held him there for an hour.
"There's no doubt about them being real bear dogs," Fuson said, "and when I read those bear stories of Griffin's in The News I always think of when the dogs had me cornered."
Medford News, August 16, 1935, page 1
Fine Bear Dog Sacrifices Self
To Save Ike Skeeters
By John B. Griffin
This is not the story that I promised about the Sugarloaf Bear nor even one of my own experiences, but, as I believe it is well worth telling and as I can vouch for its truthfulness, I give it to you as I know it to be.
Ike Skeeters Early Settler
Isaac Skeeters was one of the earliest settlers in the Rogue River Valley, and one of the party that discovered Crater Lake. He settled in the Butte Creek country and raised his family there consisting of five children, two sons and three daughters, all of whom are still alive, the two boys still living in Jackson County.
Had Old Muzzleloader
Ike Skeeters was a great hunter and considered one of the best shots in the country at that time. With his muzzle-loading gun he wasn't afraid to tackle any kind of animal that roamed the woods in those days, and if you will believe me, there were plenty of men who could testify to the fierceness of the old grizzlies that were here then, and Ike Skeeters came near being one that was unable to give his testimony as you will see when you read this story. It was told to me by his son, who lives near the town of Talent at the present time.
Trades Oxen for Dog
One of Ike's neighbors had a dog that gave great promise of becoming a good bear and hunting dog, and Ike traded him a yoke of oxen and a wagon even up for the dog. That was an enormous price to pay for a dog in those days, and Ike's neighbors gave him the horse laugh for being such a chump. But Ike took it in good nature, and it wasn't long until he had the laugh on them. The dog turned out to be a fine hunting dog, and Ike thought the world of him.
Big Bear at Antelope
One of his neighbors, Jim Matney, met Ike one day and told him that up on Antelope Creek he had run across a big bear track and followed into a thick patch of brush. He told Ike about where it was, so the next day Ike took his muzzleloader and the dog and went up to where Matney had told him to go and, sure enough, the dog struck the track and followed it to the patch of brush where Mr. Bear was lying in his bed. The bear refused to move, so the dog commenced to bay. The bear refused to come out, and after waiting awhile he concluded to crawl in and see if he could get a shot. A small trail led in to where the bear had his bed, and there was no other way in or out.
It was pretty dark in there, even though it was daylight outside, and Ike crawled up to within twenty feet of the bear before he could see him. Suddenly there he was, the dog barking and jumping [to] first one side and then other, keeping the old bear boxing to keep him off.
Ike drew up his gun and aimed to shoot him squarely between the eyes, but the bear turned his head just as Ike pulled the trigger, and the bullet hit him by the side of the eye, ranged around the skull and lodged in the back of the neck.
How did we know this? Well, read the balance of the story and you will find out.
Wounded Bear Charges
This was a new enemy to deal with, and the bear came straight for him. In his hurry to escape, Ike fell squarely across the trail. There he was, on his back, no load in his gun and a wounded bear not more than ten feet away, but both reckoned without the dog.
The dog, sensing the situation, jumped and caught the bear by the nose, which, as many of you know, is a tender spot with a bear, and both bear and dog went right over Ike and on out of the brush.
Ike crawled out as soon as he could, but when he came out to the open around the bear was gone, and he found the lifeless form of the faithful dog that had saved his life.
Sat Down and Cried
What did Ike do? Well, I'll tell you. He did just what I would have done if the same thing had happened to Trailer. He sat right down there and cried over the body of that dog just the same as he would have done if it had been a fellow man.
About a month after this happened Ike and J. O. Skeeters hitched the horses to a wagon and started to go to Matt Hurst's, who lived on Antelope Creek. When they got about halfway they saw Jim Matney riding around a patch of chaparral and every few minutes stop and shoot. He soon got off his horse, and when they drove up he said, "Ike, I killed a bear."
Find Same Bullet
They found it to be a large grizzly and started to work skinning it. When they got to the neck they found Ike Skeeter's bullet embedded there. There was no mistaking either the bullet or the bear. It was the same bear that Ike had wounded and that had killed his dog. Ike saved the bullet, loaded his gun with it, and in a few days went out and got a big fat buck with the very same bullet.
This, my friends, I can vouch for as being as true as any story I have even written. Next time I hope to have the story ready for you about the scrap Bob and I had with the Sugarloaf Bear.
Old Trailer Comes ThroughThis is not yet the story that I promised you about the Sugarloaf Bear, but it is one that kept coming up persistently in my mind, so I pass it on to you.
When Other Dogs Fall Down
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
A man named Harvey, who was a great fellow for hobbies, used to live about a couple of miles above Phoenix. He was a great lover of horses and was a good horse trainer.
Also Liked Dogs
He was also fond of dogs and one time conceived the idea that he wanted some bear dogs--not just the ordinary dog that might be trained into a good bear dog, but something fine and pure bred. He was also fixed financially so that he could humor his fancy, so he sent away and got a pair of full-blood speckled Russian bloodhounds. He already owned a couple of ordinary dogs and with the arrival of the two full-blood Russians, he was all worked up and ready for bear.
Dogs Also Run Deer
Just show him a bear track and, of course, the dogs would do the rest. On some of his short trips that he took with them he found out that they were bad to run deer and he had to couple them together until he came across a fresh bear track, which made it rather an "uphill business," so to speak. However, he got word that over on Antelope Creek there were a lot of acorns that the bear were in the habit of feeding on, so he struck out with his four dogs, his son Jim and another fellow.
Find Hot Bear Track
Arriving there it was not long until sure enough the dogs picked up a trail and started after a bear. After a long and hard chase they finally put him up a tree. As all three men were on horseback they soon came up to where the dogs had the bear treed and, tying their horses, went up near the tree.
Harvey had given them to understand that he was going to shoot that bear, so he fussed around, set his gun down, pulled off his coat and hat and walked a few steps to a small tree and hung them up and started back to pick up his gun. About this time the bear made up his mind that it was time to come down, which he did so quickly that they didn't know how it was done. He knocked the dogs right and left and away he went pell-mell down the hill with the dogs yelping at his heels and leaving Harvey standing there holding the sack, as the saying goes. It was goodbye Mr. Bear, for the dogs could neither tree him or stop him anymore, and after awhile they quit and came back, and Mr. Harvey had to go home a very disappointed man.
Anderson Creek Bear Bad
Not long after this he got another chance to try his dogs out and much nearer home. A big old bear was ranging around up on the divide between Anderson Creek and Coleman Creek where there was plenty of acorns and manzanita berries. But like most other animals, as well as man, he liked a change of diet once in awhile and got to coming down into a man's orchard for apples. I have for the time being forgotten the man's name, but, at any rate, when he got up one morning and found that the bear had been committing some unusual depredations he got on a horse and started down to see me to get me to take Trailer and rid him of this pest. As he passed Harvey's place on the way, he told Harvey about the bear and that he was going after Griffin and Trailer to be sure and get him. Harvey saw another chance to try out his dogs and persuaded him to let him take his four dogs and go after the bear. This was agreed and the four dogs, Mr. Harvey and his son Jim were soon on the trail.
Soon Routed Him Out
The scent was still strong and, of course, it didn't take the dogs long to start him up and get him going, but they couldn't make him climb and after four or five hours they gave it up and came back.
Felt Duty to Show Trailer
Harvey was whipped again and rather discouraged and, learning of this, I felt that it was my duty to show him what a real bear dog could do, so I waited just four days to give bruin a chance to recuperate, and then one nice morning I took my two dogs and struck out without letting anyone know where I was going. I followed the ridge between Coleman Creek and Anderson Creek for several miles and scoured the country around the head of these two creeks without finding any sign of the old "apple-eater." I then started on my way back following along the Anderson Creek side and came to a thick manzanita patch. As this was a likely place to find him, and about the only place for miles around that I hadn't investigated, I sent the dogs in and in a short time I heard them turn loose their baying. They had routed him out of his bed and away they went down the hill and across Anderson Creek, up the hill on the other side, down again and across the creek, bringing him up to within seventy-five yards of me, and made him climb.
I went around so I could come in on the upper side and kept out of sight behind some trees until I got close enough to fill him with bullets if he undertook to come down. Then I stepped out and walked right up under the tree, which was a large fir and there he was stretched out full length on two large limbs looking down at the dogs.
When he saw me he raised up a little on his front paws and gave a short snort, looking straight toward me. Right there was my cue to shoot, and I put a bullet squarely between his eyes and he rolled out and dropped to the ground. Both dogs piled onto him and all rolled and slid down the hill for several feet before bringing up against a large bush. He was dead, of course.
There are people living here in Medford, and Phoenix too, who saw that bear, and if you need any proof of my statement that he was really a big one you may ask them.
It was too late by this time to come home, so I went down to where an old friend of mine lived by the name of Davidson, stayed overnight with him and hiked out the next morning for Phoenix. I got John Wright to take his two-horse wagon and go with me after him. A wood road led up close to where he lay, so we got the wagon as close as we could and let the two hind wheels down with the spindles placed so we could raise them up.
We then fastened one end of a double block to the front end of the wagon and proceeded to pull him, and I want to tell you that there was room for little of anything else in that wagon. When we got home we hitched the blocks to the limb of an oak and pulled him up then drove out from under him and let him hang all the next day so that everyone who wished could see him.
In the evening who should come along but Bill Hanley, who is the "Sage of Harney County" and who died Sunday while attending the Round-Up at Pendleton.
He had a friend in Portland in the butcher business that he had considerable dealings with, so he told me that he would like to ship that bear to him for a Christmas gift. He gave me a check for $20, so I let him have the bear. And now, readers, this shows what a genuine bear dog Trailer was and why I maintain that some dogs are bear dogs and some are not.
Medford News, September 18, 1935 page 1
Wise Old Bear Gets Best of Tilt,
Says J. B. Griffin
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
This is the story that I have been promising you for some time. The story that tells of how we lost out through a combination of circumstances and the sagacity of a wise old bear.
Going over the Dead Indian Road, when you get pretty well toward the summit near the old Mike Mickelson Ranch, if you look over to the south you will see a large round mountain, or rather a round-topped mountain. This is called Sugarloaf Mountain, and anyone who has the least idea that it is not steep, rough and brushy should go up there sometime and get after a bear like Bob Neil and I did and get firsthand information about it.
The Cove Ranch is just over the south of that mountain, and here is where Bob Neil lived when the happenings took place which are related in this story.
An old brown bear used to make her headquarters on Sugarloaf, and we always called her the Sugarloaf Bear. She was cunning, avoided all traps set for her and [was] too wary to be caught by the average hunter. She was too smart to climb, and the brush gave her a big advantage over the dogs. I got a fair chance at her once and lost, so will proceed to tell you how it happened.
There were lots of acorns that fall, and within a mile or so of the Mickelson Ranch we saw where there had been an old bear and a cub eating acorns along the road. Trailer took the track immediately and went down across Cove Creek and up the other side and across the next gulch and began to bay. I snatched the gun out of the wagon, followed up and found he had her on the south side of the gulch where the oak brush was thick but no trees. On my side it was open and grassy. I could tell that she had not moved out of her bed yet, and I might have had a chance to see her had it not been for a belt of fog that followed right along up the gulch. I knew it was no use to go over there so I waited, and after awhile Trailer got her started, but she stayed with the brush side.
I kept along up the open side for perhaps three or four hundred yards, and all at once, after making a grand rush at Trailer, out she popped, crossed the gulch and came out into open ground right in front of me and not over sixty yards away. I don't know which was the most surprised, the bear or yours truly. She stopped and looked right down the hill at me. The cub, a big fellow, was coming right behind her, and as I dropped the gun down on her I saw that by waiting a second or two that he would be right alongside of her. So I waited, intending to get them both with one shot.
Just as he came up I pulled the trigger, and you can imagine my chagrin and disappointment when the gun snapped on an empty chamber. Quick as a flash I threw the lever down and up and tried again. Snap it went again and I knew my gun was empty--I had been shooting at some red-headed woodpeckers on a return trip from the Applegate a few days prior and had neglected to reload my gun. There was nothing to do now but go back to the wagon while the bear went on up the mountain and soon reached the brush again.
I made a vow to try again sometime, but it was late in the fall now and I didn't get over that way again until spring. On the trip over in the spring, I got within about a mile of Bob Neil's and turned to the right and crossed the canyon or creek that runs down by the Mickelson Ranch. On the opposite side was a thick patch of brush two or three hundred yards wide and Trailer soon struck the track, had her going and in a few minutes had caught up with her. I could hear him after her lively.
I undertook to get in close enough to sight her. She discovered me and made a dash to get away, but Trailer soon had her stopped again.
In making my way through the brush to get nearer, I got a severe blow in the eye with a limb. I could do nothing for a while and it hurt, so I had to go where there was some water and bathe it before I could see at all, and even then there was a blur that impaired the sight. I went down to Bob Neil's and got him to come with me. We could still hear Trailer in there. She was still standing him off, the brush being so thick that he was unable to get around to work on her any. We undertook to crawl in close enough to see her and succeeded in getting within less than twenty steps before she moved, then away she went crashing through the brush, and we followed.
In less than a hundred yards Trailer had stopped her again. We tried again with the same result. Around and around we followed her with the hope that she would get out where the brush was thinner and we could get to see her. We separated, Bob going around ahead and waiting, but she would manage to miss him every time. Hour after hour we kept this up, sometimes being close enough to hear her panting, but still we couldn't get a chance to see her.
Once Trailer stopped her in a particularly brushy place and I undertook to get close enough to see her. I took plenty of time and was careful to step only when Trailer was barking so that she could not hear me. Slowly and cautiously I made my way along. I would step on a big bush and when it bore down with my weight I would ease the other foot up to keep from making any noise, then do the same with the other foot. I was gradually gaining, and my hopes were running high.
Trailer was barking steadily as though he knew just what I was trying to do, and the bear wasn't making a move. The brush was so thick he couldn't get in behind her, and all he could do was to stand in front and bay. She was getting tired and, being fairly fat, was bound to be hot. Step by step, foot by foot, inch by inch I was getting nearer. My gun was ready and I needed only a glimpse. I must have been within fifteen or twenty feet of her but for the life of me could not see her. I must get closer. I looked ahead and selected a bush for my next step. I eased my foot up and took one more step and as it bent down under my weight, crack went a dry stick under it and crash went the brush and she was gone. Time and again we would get almost close enough to see her but she would make her escape every time. Trailer stayed with her, although he had little chance to do anything except to bark at her.
It was getting along about four o'clock now, and we had been after her for hours and hours without a bite to eat and were getting mighty tired and hungry. We had not been half a mile from where we began and had been unable to get her out of this same brush patch.
Bob moved again, and this time picked a favorable spot and caught sight of her. Quickly the gun came to his shoulder and, taking careful aim when she was within forty yards, he fired. It was a clean clear miss, and before he could reload she had whirled and was in the brush again. I went to him when I heard the shot and was terribly disappointed to learn that he had missed her. Bob was at a loss to understand why he had missed her too, but when he examined his gun he found that the sight was raised to the top notch and he must have missed her by about fifteen feet.
Finally Trailer got her out of the brush, and this time she started toward the creek. He went after her lively now, as he had her in the clear. I made a run and cross-cut and got a sight of her just as she was crossing the head of the gulch. She saw me and made a dash to get to the brush, as the ground was open there. I was within forty yards of her.
Trailer froze onto her hindquarters, but she didn't take time to turn around to knock him off, she just dragged him with her. I brought my gun up and had four shots before she got to the brush and missed her every time.
This was enough. I was ready to give it up and so was Bob. Trailer, however, was still on the job and stayed with her and after circling around two or three times more through the same old brush patch she made a break going pell-mell down into the canyon and up to the other side toward the summit of the Dead Indian Mountain and out of hearing. Bob and I went home, beat to a frazzle.
I stayed all night with Bob. Trailer got in about two o'clock, and we often thought what a lonesome night he must have put in with that old Sugarloaf Bear all alone and waiting for us to come. As I write this, it still gives me a touch of the same old heartache.
My miss might have been due to the tired condition of my body, making muscle action somewhat uncertain, or to the injury of my eye, which still hurt and was still not clear. However so far as we were concerned the Sugarloaf Bear bore a charmed life.
Medford News, November 6, 1935, page 3
Big Brown Bear Duck Soup for Old Trailer,
in This Narrative of Early Days
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Soon after Temp and I got back from our hunt at Fish Lake,we were informed that a big brown bear had been on a rampage in a neighborhood several miles away and had been killing sheep and hogs galore. Several people had taken after him with various and sundry kinds of dogs, some of which were supposed to be good bear dogs too, but all attempts had thus far failed and they wanted me to bring Trailer and give him a trial.
Trailer's fame as a real bear dog was already spreading throughout this part of the state, and as Temp was wild to go, I said we would go over and give the brown bear a trial and see what we could do with him.
Bad Bear ReportedMedford News, December 13, 1935, page 1
We rigged up and set out, and upon arriving at a point near the place where the bear was reported to have been seen we arranged to stop with a man by the name of Nichols who gave us all the information he could and offered to go with us.
"I'll tell you, Griffin," he said, "I don't believe your dogs can handle him. Some of the best dogs in the country have been after him, and he has whipped them all."
"That's all right," said I, giving Temp a knowing look, "You see, Trailer and Ranger have never been after him yet."
Reputation Is Good One
"Well," he replied, "I know that they have the reputation of being the best bear dogs in the state, but when they start 'Old Brownie' they will be up against a hard proposition."
"That's the kind they like," I reply, "and if they get Old Brownie started and fail to stop him, then I'll be willing to give it up, but not before."
Temp was listening, but he made no comment, just looked at me with a knowing smile.
Country Hilly and Rolling
The country was hilly, sort of rolling, with deep gulches leading away from a main ridge or divide, usually with thick brush on one side and rather open on the other of each canyon or gulch. By keeping around the head of these gulches on the top of the ridges a person could ride a horse, as it was practically all open. When we got ready to go I had Temp saddle his horse and told him to get on top of the ridge and ride along slow so that when he heard the dogs and could determine which one of the gulches they were coming up he could get there and in position as quickly as possible to turn him back or kill him if he came out in the open in an attempt to cross the ridge.
Brushy Gulch in Place
Off he went while Nichols and I started out to cross-cut the gulches. Nichols said it was about a mile to the brushy gulch where they usually started him. As he had not been bothered lately it would be an easy matter to get him up, he thought. I cautioned Nichols to be careful about shooting when the dogs were fighting him. When we got over on top of the big ridge looking over on the big gulch, I sent the dogs down and we stayed on the top. They were gone for quite awhile before we heard a sound out of them, then finally I heard Trailer give a long bow-wow. He had found the track but it was cold, so we waited and listened, and after awhile we saw the dogs come out in an open place on the opposite side, and they were working like beavers and only opening up once in awhile. We watched closely and pretty soon they went over the hill and down into the next gulch.
Find Bruin's Tracks
We struck out now pretty lively down into the gulch and up the other side to where we had seen them working, and there was his track as plain as day. It was a big one; it was so large that I measured it. It measured seven inches wide and ten inches long.
"Say, Nichols," I said, "are you sure this is a brown bear?"
"Sure I am," he replied, "I have seen it several times."
"Well, that's the biggest brown bear track that I ever saw."
We were moving right along while we were talking, and soon got to the top of the ridge where the dogs had gone over and we heard them the first thing. They had him going, and were making it hot for him. We could tell that easy enough, for he was working up the canyon and making slow headway. We kept along the ridge, and in a few minutes Old Brownie came up in sight on the opposite side into open ground. He was brown all right, and his size was in keeping with the track that I had measured. Right here is where Nichols saw where two of the right kind of dogs could handle a bear. First Trailer and then Ranger would grab him by the ham and they kept him so busy that he couldn't travel uphill at all, and they were in such a continual mixup that we dare not shoot.
"I never saw anything like that before," said Nichols. "If they keep that up we will get him sure."
"Well, don't you think for a minute that we will not get him," I replied, "for they will never quit. When they get hold of a bear they stay until the fight is finished."
Pretty soon I saw Temp coming down the open ridge beyond the bear and coming on a dead run. He had tied his horse and was afoot. Things were getting extremely exciting now, as the fight was raging like a brushfire in August. Temp being above had the advantage and kept getting closer but could not shoot on account of the dogs.
Suddenly Old Brownie made a dash for the brush and got down toward the gulch, and as good luck would have it he commenced working up along toward the head of the gulch.
I called across to Temp to keep on going along the ridge and be ready to head him off when he reached the open ground. I sent Nichols up on the side that we were on and told him to get there as quickly as he could, then I went right down and followed along the side hill above them thinking that I might get a sight of him if it wasn't too brushy.
He was making pretty good time now on account of the brush giving him some protection from the dogs, and I didn't get to see him. Finally he got to the open ground, and just as he dashed out of the brush with both dogs at his heels "Bang!" went Temp's gun and "Bang!" went Nichols' gun. They had both gotten there ahead of him and were ready.
Both hit him, and he wheeled around and dashed back into the brush and came tearing down toward me. I had reached a place where there was some open ground and timber, and when I heard them coming I took up a position beside a big fir tree, and in just a few minutes I saw him coming.
When he struck the open ground both dogs caught up with him, and each springing up had caught a ham and hung on until dragged several feet. Now was my time. I caught a bead and gave him a quartering shot. Over he went, but he came right up and started straight toward me. Both dogs had let go, but as he got up they caught him again and as he swung around to knock them off they let go again and jumped back to escape his paws. Right then I began to pour the lead into him. One, two, three, four, five, just as fast as I could work the lever. Poor Old Brownie, he had to give up. He had put up a good fight, but he was no match for a couple of real bear dogs who always knew just what to do. As he wallowed around in his death struggle he chewed the brush savagely, but he was soon quiet and still and lay over dead.
Nichols and Temp soon came up and let me tell you that there was a jubilant bunch there, including the dogs.
Nichols made me shake hands with him and congratulated me on having the "two best bear dogs on earth."
When Lead Was Scarce,In my stories lately I have been telling the readers of the many bear fights where it took so many shots to make "Old Bruin" bite the dust that I fear you will begin to think that I was a mighty poor shot, so to change your minds in that respect, I am going to tell you of some short hunts lasting only one day and sometimes overnight, returning home the next day.
John Says Marksmanship Was Better
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Game Plentiful at Dead Indian
The first one that I will tell you about took place when I was living in the Dead Indian country [in the late 1880s], and I will say that I was about the only hunter in that country in those days and of course game was much more plentiful than it is now. This is especially true of bear and wolves.
On the occasion I speak of there was a young man staying with me by the name of Charley Hocket. He was with me on a number of hunts in that country. He was a good shot and a good companion, and sometimes we would be out for five or six days at a time, but on this occasion we were out but one night. I will leave it to the reader to decide for himself or herself just how good our luck was on this trip. I will tell you exactly what we killed, exactly how many shots it took to kill them and, as Ripley says, "believe it or not" it will be the exact truth.
Headed for "Griffin's Camp"Charley and I started out right after dinner, intending to go only about five miles to one of our favorite camps, known then and still known as Griffin's Camp. It was in the fall and the bears were ranging through there getting fattened up on pine nuts preparatory for their long winter's nap. I know of nothing that a bear likes better of the things he finds in his native haunts than a good fill of pine nuts.
Was Sugar Pine CountryIn those days the settlers above Ashland would make trips into this section for sugar pine shakes with which to roof their cabins, barns, etc., and there was quite a level stretch of country there with trails and meager roads where they had been cutting the sugar pine with which to make their shakes. We followed one of these trails for two or three miles which made it much easier going than without any trail at all. We had arrived at a point about two miles from home when all at once Trailer dashed off through the woods, and in less time than it takes to tell it he was barking with his nose up a tree. We knew what that meant, for Trailer never fooled us, so we tied our horses and went to him and, sure enough, he had a large black bear up a good-sized fir tree.
Urged Charley to Shoot"You shoot him, Charley," I suggested, wishing to give him a chance to get in a little real practice.
"No, John," he replied. "I might make a bad shot which might lose us the bear as well as delay us on our journey."
"All right," said I. "I am going to shoot him in the head so you be ready if I should happen to make a miscue. I cannot let him strike the ground alive."
I waited a few minutes for him to turn his head so that I could get it in just the right position, and when he did, I let him have it square between the eyes. He rolled out of the tree just like he had been hit with a sledge hammer. Trailer had his turn now and proceeded to shake him good. We dressed him, hung him up as best we could, went back to our horses and proceeded on our way, as we wanted to reach camp in time to hunt some that evening.
Trailer Starts Another OneWe had not proceeded more than a half to three-quarters of a mile when away went Trailer again. There seemed nothing left for us to do but tie our horses and follow. We soon caught up with him and found him again with his nose up a tree and barking furiously. When we got to where we could see, he had a big brown bear up another large fir.
"He is not up very high, Charley," I said, "so you take your turn and shoot him and be sure you shoot him through the head."
So Charley got alongside of a tree and taking a good rest shot the bear as square between the eyes as you could put your finger.
"Well, Jerusalem, what kind of luck do you call this?" he asked.
"Well," I replied, "it is a pretty good sign that we have two bears to start out with, and a sure sign that we can only hunt a little while this evening and a short time tomorrow morning, for we can't leave these fat bears out too long or they will spoil."
With this, and stopping only long enough to partially dress the bear, we proceeded on to camp where we found three men from Ashland who were hunting in that section, and had chosen our camp site for their headquarters. They said that they had only been hunting one day, but thus far killed nothing. Nor had they even seen a deer.
"In what direction have you been hunting?" I asked.
"Out toward Johnson's Prairie," they replied, pointing eastward.
Charley and I went out awhile that evening, but both came in empty-handed.
Each Chose Own DirectionThe next morning they wanted to know which direction we were going to hunt, so I told them that I was going to hunt down the hill south of the camp and work around west toward home. In this way, I figured that we would have our game nearer home, and as we were somewhat pressed for time, this would be an advantage.
Charley and I hiked out, and when we got about three or four hundred yards from camp we separated. I turned off to the right and Charley to the left. I had not gone far until I discovered where a big buck had been browsing around under the manzanita brush where there were lots of berries. I tracked him for a time and came to a large fir tree that had fallen with one end still sticking pretty high up. The thought struck me that this would be a good point from which to throw some rocks over in the brush to see if I could scare Mr. Buck up, as I was pretty well satisfied that he was lying down not far away. I picked up three good-sized stones, climbed up on the tree and found that it gave me a good chance to see all around.
Started Throwing RocksI threw one of them off to the right and waited. Nothing happened. I sent one off down to the left and waited again. Still nothing happened. So I hurled the last one, a big stone, straight out in front of me, and this time I got results.
Out went a big buck tearing through the brush at a terrific rate. He had heard the other stones but regarded them as too far away to be considered dangerous, but this one got too close to him. I could see him as he began to leap, and my Winchester began to crack. Once, twice, three times. At the third shot he went down. I climbed down and went over to where he lay and found that he had seven points on each horn. I dressed him and started back toward where I thought I could find Charley. I had gone about three-quarters of a mile when I heard him shoot, just once, some three or four hundred yards away. I started to go on to him, but did not get very far when here came a big buck on a dead run and only about forty yards below me. I pulled up my gun, shot once and he went down. When I reached him, I found that I had hit him in the neck close to the shoulders.
A Scratch Shot, MaybeA scratch shot, you say? Well, have it that way if you want to; I got him just the same and he had nine points on one side and eight points on the other. Leaving him to lie there I went over to where Charley had been, gave my horn a toot, and Charley answered at once. When I got to him he was dressing a big four-point buck.
"By golly, Charley, that's fine," said I.
"Yes," he replied, then added, "but there was another one with him even bigger than him and he got away before I could shoot."
John Gave Consolation"That's all right, Charley," I offered in way of consolation, "he didn't get away, we have him lying out there in the brush a couple of hundred yards or so from here, and in addition, we have a seven-pointer hanging up besides."
"Well, I'll be darned, John Griffin, you always come out ahead of me."
We proceeded back to camp where I made some coffee while Charley went after the horses, after which we loaded on the deer and hiked for home, arriving too late to return for the bear, but the next morning we hitched the horses to a wagon and found that we could drive right to them so we loaded them in and were back before noon. We spent the afternoon skinning the bear and getting the lard ready to render as they were fat. The hide of the black one was as black as coal with a big white spot on the breast.
And now I will tell you just how many shots were fired. I fired five, killing two bucks and a bear and Charley fired two, killing one buck and a bear, and these my dear readers you may depend upon are absolute facts.
Medford News, January 17, 1936, page 1 and January 22, 1936, page 4
Huge Elk Used To Roam in Dead IndianSometimes I think that perhaps the readers of the Medford News must be getting tired of my bear stories, for while each of them differ in some respects, there necessarily must be somewhat of a sameness about them. So, any time they do just let me know and I will stop short off.
Says Griffin Who Always Got His Share
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
In the Dead Indian country, where I lived in those days [in the late 1880s], I had but two close neighbors, a family by the name of Blake, and Billy Addison, both of whom lived about two miles from me. One day Billy and I went over to Little Elk Prairie to look for a suitable sugar pine that would make good shakes. There was an old wagon road, built in an earlier day, and used for the same purpose as we were now putting it to, so as we drove along the upper end of Elk Prairie and we were going down on the south side next to the timber, we were startled by the appearance of three big elk that suddenly came from behind some willows that had hidden them from view, and dashed right across in front of us and into the timber before I could get my gun ready for a shot, and I was not too slow in getting into action in those days either.
I knew that this was but a narrow belt of timber and that it was but a short distance to the other side and open ground again, so I made haste and ran after them, hoping to get a chance when they struck open ground again, but I was too late. When I reached the open ground they were already out of sight.
Found Elk Sign NumerousIn looking around we found lots of elk sign at almost every point over the prairie, so I suggested to Billy that we tie our horses and take a little scout around to see if perhaps we might pick one up. This we did, and after hunting around for quite awhile through the surrounding timber, we failed to get a sight of even one elk. However, I did finally see a deer standing off about 80 yards, so I shot and it fell at the first shot. Upon arriving at the place where it lay, we found that it was a four-point buck. After selecting a good tree from which to get our shakes, and then loading our deer, we left for home in a fairly good frame of mind.
Decided to Return SoonOn the way home we agreed to return in a few days, as soon as the elk that we had disturbed had been given sufficient time to get over their scare.
"I have to go to Ashland tomorrow," said Billy, "and don't you go before I get back for I sure want to go with you."
"All right," said I, "I'll promise you that I will wait until you return, providing you are not gone longer than four days."
So I waited. On the fourth day Billy returned, and in the meantime my old friend Temp had shown up and the next day we got an early start mounted on saddle horses, and with Trailer along were off to get as many elk as we could.
Found Elk Had ReturnedWhen we got over near the prairie we stopped, tied our horses and proceeded afoot. We soon discovered that our elk had been back and we found not only their tracks but large holes that they had pawed in many places. Temp struck out to go up to the south end of the prairie and Billy and I went straight across to the west side. We found where they had left the prairie and had gone up on the side of a hill, so I put Trailer on the track and let him slow-track them ahead of me, so that I would have more time to keep up and a better chance to keep a sharp lookout for them. He followed along the hillside for quite a distance, then all at once he stopped, raised his head and tested the air down toward the prairie again.
Tracks Lead to Open Ground"Can it be possible that they are between us and the open?" I asked Billy, who was trailing along close behind me. I told Trailer to go on and, sure enough, in about thirty yards they had made a turn and had gone down toward the open ground. I hurried along as fast as I could. It was not far and when I reached a point where I could see out into the prairie, there were two elk coming toward me approaching the timber. One I could see was an immense big buck elk, walking alone with his large antlers laid along beside his shoulders and coming along as unconcerned as if he were the only "individual" within a thousand miles. Right behind him came a big cow. Just as I pulled up to shoot, he stopped and from where I was I could not see his front parts on account of a thick growth of jack pines. He was a big fellow and I was anxious not to lose him, so, failing to get a sight on a position to reach either his heart or lungs, I sent a bullet right through his paunch. Away went the cow, heading up toward where Temp was, but the buck dashed forward, not knowing where the shot had come from. He swung in around the side hill and stopped behind a big fir tree, too far and not in a position for me to get in a shot to a vital spot. Shooting as near the tree as I dared, I sent another bullet through him and away he went again.
Right ahead of him was an opening some forty or fifty yards across. I ran as fast as I could for this and struck it just as he did and, if you will believe me, he was going at a terrific rate of speed. It was a trot, but a mighty fast one that covered distance rapidly. This time I had a clear chance with a quartering shot and, rapidly drawing a bead on his flank, I followed along a few yards and let him have it. Before I could shoot again he had toppled over.
He rolled clear over and, as good luck would have it, he fell beside a log, rolled clear over on his back with one horn hooked on the other side of the log sort of holding him in position to do the next job necessary, which was to give him his preliminary dressing. This was the fortunate part as he was so big that two of us could do little with him.
It was the same as dressing a four-year-old steer, but Billy and I fell to our task with a right good will and at last the job was done. Billy hadn't fired a shot. Said that he never had a chance, that it was all he could do to keep up with me and try to be as near the finish as possible.
Temp Surprised at KillAbout this time Temp came up, having heard my shots, and was so surprised that he could hardly speak when he saw what was lying there on the ground. After we had told him that the cow had gone his way, he said that he heard her in the brush not forty yards away, but could not see her. We all went up and took a look at the track and, sure enough, it was the cow elk all right.
With arrangements for Billy to bring his team and wagon the next morning to bring in the big elk, we now started for home. That evening two of my friends from the valley came in and stopped to stay overnight with me on their way to Klamath. They were on horseback, and when I told them about the big elk, they offered to go with us the next morning and help get him in. So the next morning the four of us saddled our horses and started out. Billy was ready and we proceeded to where the elk lay.
Had to Let Wagon DownWe then proceeded to get the wagon in position and then removed the hind wheels leaving the end of each spindle just inside the hub so that we could more easily raise them up into position when we got the elk in the wagon. Then all turned to, turned him around with his head toward the end of the wagon and with one man ahold of the horns to pull and the other four doing some stiff lifting, together with much grunting and groaning, we slid him in. Maybe you think he didn't fill that wagon, if you do you have another think coming. It took a pair of double blocks and all five of us to pull him up to the end log of the cabin when we got him home. I have seen a number of elk, killed a number myself and seen many others especially here in the Coast Range, but without any doubt or exaggeration I class this one as the largest I ever saw. It took me the best part of two days to jerk and save the meat, but I saved it all.
Sold Hide for $4.50Now, I suppose you will want to know what I did with the hide and horns, so I'll tell you. I sold the hide for $4.50 to a fur and hide dealer at Ashland. His name was Hutchinson. I sold the horns to Mr. Paulson of Ashland who kept them until he died, after which I got them back. I then sold them to a man by the name of Wooley of Los Angeles. He gave me $100 spot cash for them, and the last time I saw them he still had them and he told me they were not for sale.
Now as to the deer spoken of in the Ashland Tidings. I killed the deer in the same locality as the place I got the elk and to make a short story of it, I was hunting on horseback and had Trailer and Ranger with me. Ranger must have scented a deer, I suppose, for the first thing I knew he was gone and in a short time I heard him commence to bay. Gee whiz! I wondered. What was the matter now? He was barking savagely, so I knew that it must be some large animal, so I tied my horse and started to him keeping Trailer with me, until I got nearly halfway when I concluded to send Trailer for fear that it might give Ranger the slip and get away.
I told Trailer to go and when he got there the racket started in real earnest. I ran as fast as I could, and when I came in sight I found that they had a big black-tailed buck and he was knocking them right and left. I got in a shot as quickly as I could and down he came. He was about the fattest deer that I ever killed. I brought some of it to Ashland and old hunters told me that they never saw anything like it.
Now my friends, this is not a bear story, but it is a true story of a hunting trip made by me many years ago, and you may depend on the truth of every word.
Medford News, March 11 and March 27, 1936, page 1
John Tells of Umpqua HuntOne of the favorite hunting spots in the early days was the Umpqua Mountains in southern Oregon. All kinds of game abounded such as bear, elk and especially deer. A number of the settlers in the Rogue River Valley used to go up there in the fall of the year to lay in their winter supply of venison. and there are still quite a number of the residents of Central Point, Medford and other parts of the valley who plan to hunt in that region each fall for their limit of big game. The Ross boys of Central Point seldom fail to go there every fall and what is more to the point, they nearly always get their limit.
When Tom Ross Got the Deer
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Goes with Tom RossTom Ross and I went up there once and while we only stayed two nights, we brought back seven deer. That, of course, was some time ago when there was no limit placed on a hunter's luck or ability to bring in all he could carry. It would not have affected me any at that time, however, as I only killed two. Tom killed the balance.
This sort of went against the grain, so to speak, for I wasn't used to "dragging along behind" when I was out on a hunt, but I have to stick to the truth, especially as Tom still lives at Central Point and would be sure to see this if I told it any other way. However, I believe the readers all know by this time that they can depend on all that I have to say in these stories as the exact truth.
Berry Crop ExcellentThere were all kinds of berries along the Umpqua Divide, huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. I have been up there when the raspberries were ripe and there were acres and acres of them. There are worlds of huckleberries in the fall season and some of the finest camping grounds on the Pacific Coast. Splendid water, worlds of grass and plenty of game.
Wolves Used To Be NumerousThere used to be a band of wolves range through that country and over in the Red Blanket country east of the Rogue River, and I was invited more than once to join with other hunters in trips for these wolves, and many a mixup we had but we always managed to come out victorious.
Paris Hamilton, who used to hunt through the Dead Indian country in the early days, when they were bolder than they are now, had quite a scrap with three of them. He heard them howling early one morning just at daylight near where he was camped so he got up and went out to try and get a shot at them and succeeded beyond his expectations. As soon as they saw him they didn't run away, but came straight for him howling furiously.
Hunger, no doubt, made them bold, but they soon found out that they had made a great mistake, for Paris put a bullet in the leader that caused him to turn several somersaults and the other two, realizing that they had better use a little more caution, swerved around and started in the other direction, but not before Paris had another chance and the Winchester cracked again, and, as they used to say in the stories, "another one bit the dust." The third one escaped.
Although Paris Hamilton is now dead, a brother living on the Applegate could corroborate this story although he is not the one who told it to me.
Wolves Seldom AttackIt is the only instance I have ever heard of where a man was deliberately attacked by a band of wolves in southern Oregon. In fact I can truthfully say that it is mighty seldom that a traveler or hunter ever sees one in the woods, as they are very smart and very wary and prefer to have all the advantage on their side.
I outwitted two of them once in the Dead Indian country. A man by the name of Hunt came in from Douglas County with a band of sheep and had not yet built a corral or shelter for protection for them, and one morning when he got up he found several dead sheep lying around partly eaten. I happened over there that day and I want to say that it was a heartbreaking sight.
Two Wolf Tracks FoundWe began looking for tracks and found where two big wolves had gone along the dusty road. These were all the tracks we could find, and it was a mystery to us how just two wolves could have caused so much damage and destruction. They had killed sheep that they had not eaten at all, seemingly just for the fun of killing.
He had a tent set up near where the sheep bedded down at night to scare the coyotes away. I said to him, "It doesn't look very much like the wolves are afraid of your tent."
"No, it doesn't, does it; they seem to be very wise."
Griffin Has Scheme"Well," said I, "I don't believe they will come back tonight, for they are pretty well filled up just now, so I have a scheme. You put some hay down in there and fix a bed. I will go home and bring back a double-barreled shotgun that I have and when I come back we will sort of lay for them."
"All right," he replied. "I'll do it and I'll be ready when you come."
"You take the rest of the sheep down to the Wells place so they will be out of the way and we will bring the dead sheep up under that big fir tree."
Loads Up His ShotgunI went home and loaded up the shotgun with buckshot. It was a muzzleloader and a good one, too; then I went back over and Hunt and I lay in the tent all night, but not a sign of a wolf did we see.
I felt sure, and told Hunt, that they would come the next night. We arrived at the tent a little before dark the next night and got ourselves settled comfortably and waited. Along about nine o'clock the moon came up and I told Hunt that I thought we would not have to wait long, but ten o'clock came and no wolves. Hunt was getting impatient; he would pull the tent flap back a little and look out every few minutes. It was not long after ten when we heard them. It sounded like they were growling and snapping at each other.
Wolves at Sheep AgainThey were at the sheep. One was right up next to the tree and the other had pulled a sheep out a few feet, putting them almost in a line with my view and only about twenty or thirty yards away. We slipped our guns forward as noiselessly as possible and let them have it with both barrels. Over went the big fellow next to us with his feet in the air. The other one disappeared so quickly we didn't know how it was done. We took a good look at the one lying there, found him quite dead, then went to the house and to bed.
Find One CrippledEarly the next morning we were up and out to see how things sized up, and we found that we had wounded the other one. We followed the track out and along the road for about two hundred yards and there he had taken to the brush so we went back to where the other one lay and Hunt wanted to skin it, so while he did that I told him that I would go home and get Trailer and we would sure get the other one.
When I got back with Trailer Hunt was ready to go, and as soon as Trailer smelled the blood and got on the track I could hardly hold him back.
I succeeded, however, until we got to the place where he had left the road, then I told Trailer to go, and he went and don't you forget it. It was not many minutes till we heard him commence to bay. It was not more than a hundred yards away and we were not long in getting there. We found the wolf backed up against a tree, and every few seconds he would lunge forward and try to get a snap at Trailer and his teeth would fairly pop. I pulled up and put a bullet in his head and his sheep-killing days were over, and that was the last time that Hunt's sheep were bothered with wolves.
Medford News, April 17, 1936, page 1
Dead Indian Used to Be Hangout
for All Kinds of Game
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
Well, I had almost made up my mind to quit writing bear stories, but every time I go downtown I meet so many people who tell me they are always glad to read them, that I just come home and start to write another one.
A few days ago I met a lady and she said to me, "How in the world can you write so many stories without getting them all mixed up?"
"You must remember," I made reply, "that I went hunting many times and killed a great many bears, and every detail of my stories is absolutely true so I don't have to get them mixed. If I wrote the account of every bear that old Trailer caught it would make a pretty fair-sized book, so you see there is little danger that I am going to get them mixed."
There have been certain ones, I know, who have said or intimated that they are untrue. To those people I will simply say that there are so many people in this valley that know they are true that these skeptics could get knocked off the perch very often and very rapidly if they would take the trouble to get a confirmation.
However, we will pass that over, as the boys say nowadays, "skip it," and I will tell you of a hunt that was taken in the Dead Indian country many years ago.
On this hunt I was accompanied by a man who has lived here nearly all his life and is well known, especially among the horseshoe pitchers. His name is Burrell Miller.
We started out from Medford with a two-horse spring wagon and an extra saddle horse. As we were going down on the other side of the Dead Indian mountain a big black bear crossed the road in front of us. Poor old Bruin didn't know that two of the best bear dogs in the western country were right within sight of him. Old Lion and Trailer dashed after him and were not long in putting him up a tree. He was only a few hundred yards away, and as Mrs. Griffin was with us Burrell and I left her to look after the horses and followed the dogs. When we arrived at the tree we found that he had gone pretty high up and, as we were in somewhat of a hurry and it was getting late, I told Burrell that I would shoot him in the head and for him to be ready so if I should miscue and he should start down the tree, he could be ready to pour the bullets into him and I would do the same.
I got a good bead on his head and fired. At the crack of the gun he rolled out of that tree like he had been hit in the head by a strong man with a sledgehammer.
"Ha, ha," laughed Burrell as he watched the bear fall, "no need for me to shoot when you hit 'em like that." We hastily attended to the preliminary dressing, returned to the wagon and Mrs. Griffin and proceeded to the Mrs. Walker cabin on Dead Indian Creek and made camp.
The next morning I told Burrell to take a saddle horse and a pack horse and go back to where we had left the bear and I would make a circle through the woods and try to get a deer. I had reached a point about a half or three-quarters of a mile from where we had left the bear without seeing a deer when Trailer struck a fresh bear track and was off like a cyclone heading straight for where we had left the other bear. He came up with the bear very close to where the other one was, but this bear decided to stay on the ground and had backed up against the limbs of a fallen tree and Trailer was keeping far enough away to be safe but keeping the bear's attention riveted on him while all the time notifying us that he had the bear cornered. It took Burrell but a few minutes to get there, and one shot in the head put an end to this bear's career. In the meantime I was getting there as fast as I could and was within a hundred yards when I heard the shot. I listened for a few seconds for another, but not hearing any, went up to see and sure enough Burrell had killed him with the first shot. We now had a bear for each horse, so we got the last one ready, loaded them on and took them into camp, where we proceeded to skin them and take care of the meat.
I must tell you a good joke on Burrell, for I know he won't care. The day before, he was riding along behind the wagon when a bucket that we had hanging on the back of the hack fell off. Burrell rode up to it and instead of getting off his horse to pick it up, he leaned over and ran the end of his rifle under the bail and raised it up until he could reach it. But, just as he reached to take it off the gun, the horse suddenly scared at it and began to pitch and buck.
I yelled to him and told him to drop the bucket, but if he heard me he didn't do as I told him but held on. He was neither expecting nor ready for this sudden turn, and pretty soon down he went, heels over head, still holding onto the bucket. He escaped without a scratch, but it sure was a laughable sight to see him sitting there still holding onto that bucket like it was the one important thing of the incident to save.
Another time we were out hunting on horseback when his horse passed under a fir limb, which caught him under the arm and pulled him off. His foot caught in the stirrup, the horse started to run, and dragged him along the ground. I jerked my gun to my shoulder to shoot the horse but before I could shoot his foot came loose and I want to say that it was a great relief to me. Quick action was often necessary in those times to save a life, and while I was prepared to do so and did not hesitate, I was glad that I did not have to take a life in order to save another one.
In the next installment I will tell you more about this same hunt, which will include both deer and cougars.
Medford News, May 8, 1936, page 8
Dead Indian Hunt
Bags Many Deer for John Griffin
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
The next day after we packed the bear in I stayed in camp to fix up a rack to jerk the meat on, so Burrell took Trailer and went off south on the west side of Dead Indian Creek through what was called Service Glade and finally came to the edge of a bluff. While he was standing looking down over the ground below him he saw a large buck get up out of his bed and, being unaware of the danger that lurked near, stood there stretching himself.
Burrell Dead Shot
Carefully choosing his time, Burrell pulled up and fired, putting a bullet through him squarely behind the shoulders. He was a very large buck with a fine pair of horns of an unusual type having nine points on one side and thirteen on the other. Their oddity, of course, made them desirable, but they were nevertheless a very nice pair of horns. A short time afterward we fell in with a government man by the name of Thompson and we gave him the horns. He seemed very delighted to get them.
Back by Dinner Time
Burrell was back by dinner time, so after dinner we took the horses and packed in the buck. The next morning it seemed to be up to me to skin the buck, cut up his carcass and get him ready to jerk, and this gave Burrell another chance to take Trailer out for another hunt, and he headed out in the same direction that he had taken the day before. When he was about a mile from camp he saw something gray run along ahead of him for a short distance then disappear in a hole. Of course Trailer was after it in an instant and, reaching the hole, he crawled right down in and pretty soon came backing out with a fine large badger. After as pretty a fight as you could wish to see, he killed it. That was Trailer's first experience with a badger, in fact the first one that he had ever seen. I had often heard that a good-sized badger could whip most any dog, big or little, and was very much surprised to learn that Trailer had made such short work of this one. I found out later, however, that he had killed one once before for a man by the name of Royce, whom you have heard of before in another story, and he afterward killed one for me, which makes three to his credit that I know can be sworn to.
Strikes Cougar Track
Burrell proceeded on up into Sarvis Glade where Trailer struck a cougar track. It was cold, but he went to work on it and stayed with it for three hours and finally jumped it away over on Soda Creek. It only made a short run when it took to a tree and Trailer commenced to bark. Burrell followed, and when he arrived at the tree there sat the cougar and only about fifteen feet high. He worked around into a good position, and when the cougar turned his head to look at him he was all set and let him have it squarely in the forehead. He settled right down but didn't fall out. Burrell thought he was dead and commenced to look for a long pole to push him out with, then suddenly looking up he saw the cougar commence to move his tail. Pretty soon he raised his head and began to wriggle around. About this time Burrell thought it was time to take some further action and sent a bullet into the side of his head and this time he rolled out dead. Burrell skinned him and brought the hide in and it measured just nine feet. He found that the first bullet hadn't entered the skull but had merely creased the skull, stunning him.
Too Good to Leave
We had planned to go on farther to a place that I knew of, but the hunting seemed so good right where we were that we concluded to stay right there and do the balance of our hunting, so the next morning I took Trailer and started out, leaving Burrell to look after the meat. I also went out through Sarvis Glade and on toward Soda Creek. When I got pretty well over toward the creek, I sent Trailer out through the brush and small timber while I kept around the side of the hill. It was not long until I heard him open up on a track of some kind. I was in a good location so I just stood still and waited, as he seemed to be coming toward me. But all at once he turned sharply and started toward the creek opening up at every jump, and about this time I saw two big bucks coming right to me. I stood perfectly still until, as the saying goes, I could see the whites of their eyes, or a trifle less than thirty steps. Then, I quickly caught a bead and dropped the first one right in his tracks. The other one turned to the left and started down the hill in great long jumps. About the fourth jump my bullet struck him right behind the shoulders, and in a few more jumps down he went. One was an eight-pointer and the other a four-pointer, but both about the same size.
Trees Another Cougar
I dressed them as soon as I could, not taking time to hang them up as I was anxious to follow Trailer up, so I struck out in the direction I had heard him going and after some time heard him and knew that he had something treed. When I got there I found that it was another cougar, a small one only about five or six feet, so I shot it and skinned it, supposing all the time that Trailer was lying down near me somewhere, but the hunting was too good for him to be still, and all at once I heard the brush crack not very far away and in just a few minutes heard Trailer giving me his signal that he had something else treed. I picked up my gun and hastened to where he was and lo and behold he had another cougar, this time a big one, and he was up a rather small fir tree. Just as soon as it saw me it jumped out and began to run, but with Trailer at his heels he was soon up another fir tree and this time had selected a bigger tree that forked some distance up and settled himself in the forks, feeling now fairly safe and in a position from which it supposed I would come where he could watch. I knew he was very wary so I used more caution this time, keeping behind trees and out of sight and approaching from a different angle until I got right to the very tree and, peeping around the side of the tree, I could see him up there with his head only partly showing. I cocked the gun with my finger on the trigger in order to make no noise, then quickly stepped out from the tree, pulled up and caught a bead between the eyes. It threw its ears back and gave a growl and hiss, but it was too late to escape now and at the crack of the Winchester he came tumbling out with a bullet hole squarely between the eyes.
"Good Work, John"
It was Trailer's turn now, and I let him have all the fun he wanted. I then skinned him and packed out for camp. It was about two o'clock when I reached there, and when Burrell saw the two hides, he said, "Pretty good work, John."
"That is not all of it," I replied, by way of answer, "I have two big bucks out near Sarvis Glade and they're not hung up so we will have to saddle up and go out and get them."
Look for Old Grizzly
He smiled and started for the horses. After bringing them in we laid off for two days to jerk the meat and take care of what we already had, then broke camp and went over to Buck Prairie and camped one night and the next morning started out toward Haight Prairie where we hoped that we might run across an old grizzly that had been killing cattle belonging to Major Barron, a bear that had been dubbed Old Reel Foot. He was not in that locality, but Trailer treed a good-sized brown bear which we shot without any trouble, and as we were coming back to camp he got after a small black bear and ran him off quite a distance before he could tree him. We heard him barking and was getting there as fast as we could when we heard a couple of shots from that direction. When we arrived there we found two men standing over Trailer's bear.
I told them that it was my dog, and that, of course, any game that he had treed belonged to me. This, they said, was all right with them, that all they wanted was the chance they had to shoot it, so we went on into camp and remained but one day longer before leaving for home, pretty well satisfied with our hunt.
Medford News, June 5, 1936, page 1
John B. Griffin and D. H. Miller of Medford were hunting over on Applegate last week, and slaughtered sixteen deer and three bears.
Bear in Siskiyou Gives John Grief
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
I used to hunt a great deal in the Siskiyou Mountains around the head of Applegate Creek, and Little and Big Bend Mountain, Ashland Peak, Wagner Mountain, and all through that range, and I knew every camping place and all the best places to hunt. I was accompanied on many of these trips by an old friend by the name of Miller.
We always had to take pack horses where now they travel by auto. The hunting was better then and the game more plentiful, so we generally came back loaded with a few fat bucks and now and then a fat bear, or cougar. On the hunt I am going to tell about this time [omission] is to principally for deer as it was the time of year when bear were not supposed to be in condition to be killed, and I always hated to kill a poor bear [a bear in poor condition]. But sometimes it will happen that a hunter will find himself in a position where he is compelled to kill or take desperate chances of getting killed. Well, on one of these trips with Dave Miller that is just what happened to me, but I came out victorious, as you know because I am telling you this story. But I sure had to make my Winchester work mighty fast. In fact a little overtime, I might say. I was mighty glad when it was over, but for all of that, it gave me a shock that threw my nervous system out of balance for the rest of the trip, and I want to ask the reader how you would like to be placed in the same position and try your nerve? But let us begin at the beginning. We were camped away up in the Siskiyous at what was called Tamarack Flat. We got through about noon and intended to make it our permanent camp, as we were surrounded by good hunting ground. We were confident we could get enough deer to load our horses, so we fixed camp, made a nice fir bough bed, and got ready to start in. However, there had come up a heavy fog, so Dave said he believed he would stay in camp and get wood, as he didn't know the country any too well and did not like to hunt in the fog.
So I said, "That's all right, but I'm going out hunting, fog or no fog." So I got ready, filled the Winchester with cartridges and struck out. I took quite a roundabout trail up towards the top of the ridge and back down the hill and never got sight of a thing to shoot at, so I made up my mind to hike out for camp, as it was getting late and it was hard to tell how soon dark would come on account of the fog.
So I lit out at a good gait and was getting down pretty well towards camp, when upon coming around a turn in the trail I was following I came face to face with a great big old lean grizzly. I sure wasn't expecting him, and to my surprise he turned a little bit sidewise and commenced to come right toward me, champing his teeth like a wild hog and snorting like a mule. I realized what I was up against, as he sure was on the fight, so I jerked my gun to my shoulder and shot.
He straightened up but kept coming a little faster now. Here he came and I just sent one shot right after another into him. He was within ten or fifteen feet now. I couldn't miss, and my only chance was to keep on shooting. Crack! went the gun again, real close now, and this shot broke his shoulder. Down he went, rolling and crashing down the hill, and pretty soon he lay still. Did I go down? Not on your life! I headed for camp at a good pace and was mighty glad to be able to go. When I got in, Dave said, "What were you shooting at, John, an old buck?"
"By gosh! You would think it was an old buck if you had been there in my place, Dave Miller. I was in the closest place with a bear that I ever was in my life." Then I told him.
"Gosh, man," he said, "you sure had a narrow escape. Suppose your gun had failed you."
"Yes, but it didn't, and if it had it would have been the first time."
The next morning we went up and took Trailer with us. When he came to the place where the bear had rolled down the hill he walked off ahead of me for about thirty yards and there lay the bear, dead as a doornail. He went up to it and after smelling at it looked up at me as much as to say, "What did you want me for?"
I said, "Never mind, Trailer. I'll not leave you in camp again on this trip."
He was a great big old fellow, gray around the nose and teeth broke off and the skin was not worth taking, so we just walked off and let him lay. I afterwards wished that I had saved the head, but I never got back to that camp again. Dave said to me, "John, I don't see how in the world you could shoot that fast and hit anything. You shot faster than I could count."
"Well," I said, "I sure didn't stop to count and I'm pretty well satisfied the way it is."
We went on now to do our hunting, soon separating and each taking his own course. While I took up the ridge on the left side, Dave went up on the right. When I got on top of the ridge I followed along there for a few hundred yards and all at once I saw a black fox looking at me, not over eighty yards away. I pulled up and shot and killed him on the spot. It was a beauty, so I just sat down and skinned it and took the hide right along with me. I went on now and hadn't got more than three-fourths of a mile when I saw two big bucks lying down just a few yards apart, with their large antlers sticking up. Just in front of me was a large rock about four feet high and with a flat surface about four feet each way. I stooped down, working my way up to that rock slowly and quietly. Then I raised up and took a look and found that they hadn't yet discovered anything to disturb them. They were now within sixty yards of me and offered a pretty mark to shoot at, so I slid the gun along the top of the rock which made a dead rest and, drawing a bead down on the neck of one of them, fired. He just lay over on his side and must not have moved for a few seconds, for the other one did not jump up but threw his head up a little higher and looked toward where the noise came from. I shot again and over he went. I went up to where they lay and found that I had broken both their necks. They sure were two beautiful deer and looked good to me as they lay there stretched out full length with horns having six and seven points on each one.
After dressing them and hanging them up the best I could I went on away up around the head of the canyon on my right without seeing anything and concluded to hunt down on that side on towards camp. When I got down quite a little distance I blew the horn to see if I could get an answer from Dave, as I knew he must be up in that locality somewhere. Sure enough, he answered me and I swung across in that direction. After a bit he called again, so I went on and soon got to him and found him sitting on a log with his hat off, and I could tell by his looks that something was the matter, so I sat down and said, "Well, what is it, Dave?"
"It won't take long to tell you," he said. "I ran across two big bucks away off down below here and I killed one and wounded the other and I have been following him for hours but I never could get to see him so when I heard that horn I knew my troubles were over for I knew Trailer would get him for me."
"Just take me to the track and show me blood and if Trailer don't get him, I'll pay for lying." We went down the hill a short distance and came to where it had passed along.
I said to Trailer, "Go and hunt that up."
Away he went, rather slow at first, without opening up at all. We stayed right where we were and waited. Pretty soon we heard him turn loose and in a few minutes we heard him commence to bay, away down below us. We made our way down there, and the buck was backed up in a bunch of brush and would lunge forward at him and then back up again. So I told Dave to shoot him and be sure to shoot him in the head, which he did and the scrap was over.
Dave patted Trailer on the head and said, "Trailer, you're a dandy."
While we were dressing him, all at once Dave thought to ask, "Did you kill anything, John?"
"Yes, I killed two big bucks and a fox."
"Gee willikins!" said Dave, "that's all we want. Let's get them and start for home." So that is just what we did.
When we got there we had a big story to tell, especially about a big bear fight without either Dave or Trailer to assist or even being there to see it.
Medford News, July 15, 1936, page 3
John B. Griffin is now more dangerous to deer and bear than ever before, having received one of the newest model Marlin magazine rifles last week.
Old Trailer Makes Good for Squire
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
In this story I am going to tell you of a hunt over in the Jenny Creek country. In those days my brother-in-law, Melvin Naylor, lived near there and had a station at Corral Creek on the Old Green Springs Road some twenty-two miles from Ashland. Ten miles farther on toward Klamath Falls was Parker Station, run and owned by Squire Parker, a man you have heard me speak of before in these stories. These were the only two stations, if I recollect aright, between Ashland and Klamath Falls. It was a wild country, full of bear, deer, cougar and wildcats and also enough rattlesnakes to make a timid person watch his step, I'll tell the world.
Asked to Round Up BearMedford News, November 27, 1936, page 1
I had been invited to come over there and give the bear a roundup, as neither Parker or Naylor had a dog that would run a bear. Parker had never seen Trailer, but he had heard so much about him that he was anxious to see him in action, so I accepted the invitation and he sure got to see Trailer tried out and to his entire satisfaction and then some.
But, to get to the story, I went over to Naylor's that night and found that he was unable to go to Parker's with me the next day as he had not expected me so soon, so I told him to go ahead and get ready to go the next day and I would go out alone that day and if I didn't get a bear I might get a buck.
Heads for Hyatt Prairie
I struck out and followed the wagon road for quite a distance then swung off north around the west side of Big Round Mountain, which was called "Old Baldy" in those days. This took me over toward Hyatt Prairie, and I walked and hunted until towards noon without ever seeing a sign of a deer. Not long after, however, Trailer struck a bear track and away he went around the side of Old Baldy and soon was out of hearing. I followed in the direction he went, and after a time I heard him. It didn't sound like his bark when he had his game up a tree, nor was he baying as he did when he was hot on the trail. It was quite unusual and quite different, and I was somewhat puzzled so I hurried along, and when I came up close enough to see, he was standing on the edge of a square hole or cave in the ground. It was about six feet long and three feet wide. The sides, almost perpendicular, dropped down about six feet and at the bottom a hole extended back under the hill. A rock shelf jutted out about four feet down. It didn't look like it was man-made, and it was always a mystery to me just how it had happened.
Gives Bear a Poke
I knew from Trailer's actions that Mr. Bear must be in there out of sight, so I hunted around and found a long slim pole arranged with a hook on the end and, holding my gun in my left hand, I gave the hole a quick punch.
Bear Doesn't Like It
"Yow!" he said, and gave the pole a jerk. I yanked it back and kept on punching. He kept on grunting and trying to get the pole, but was too foxy to come out. I began to think that I was up against it and would have to acknowledge that I was beaten, but stopped to think it out and finally hit upon an idea which was to block up his entrance and leave him until the next day, when he would perhaps be willing to come out. I got together enough heavy poles to reach across lengthwise and when I had them placed I packed heavy rock and piled on them to weigh it down. I then picked up my gun and told Trailer to come on. He had been watching the whole performance without saying a word and must have thought the bear was about ready to appear, for he was very reluctant to leave. I told him again to come on and that we would return again tomorrow. With that promise, he came and we started for home.
The next morning Naylor and I saddled up a couple of horses and, taking a long rope with us, proceeded to where I had penned up the bear. Trailer seemed to know just what we were going to do, for he kept ahead of us all the way until we got within a couple of hundred yards, then he hurried to the cave and commenced to bark furiously. I hardly understood why until we got there and had removed the stones and then I could see the bear lying on the shelf looking straight up at me. I quickly drew down my rifle and shot him square between the eyes and over he went to the bottom.
Getting Him Out Different
When he was still we removed the balance of the rocks and the poles and the next thing was to get him out. Naylor said he would go down and fasten the rope on him and with him lifting and me pulling perhaps we could get him out. I doubted it very much, for I could see that the bear was fat and heavy, but consented to try, so down he went and fastened the rope around his tusks and jaw and while I pulled, he lifted but it was no go, the bear was too heavy. I said we would have to try another scheme. I went and got a heavy pole, put it across one end of the hole and blocked it with heavy rocks, then I got my horse, took a turn around the horn of the saddle with the rope and up came the bear and right out of the hole.
Trailer Acts Differently
Trailer was very much pleased to see him out, but never offered or tried to take hold of him and shake him as he always did when one came tumbling out of a tree. He had about the finest hide that ever came off of any bear that I ever killed. He was coal black with just one white spot on his breast. When we had him skinned and dressed he was perfectly white all over with a thick coating of fat. We were very pleased for he was a real prize.
Carcass Salted Down
In the morning we cut up the carcass and salted it down, then hitched up the horses and lit out for Squire Parker's, arriving there in time for dinner. In the afternoon we again hitched the horses to the wagon, Squire taking a saddle horse and leading the way to a place where he thought we stood a quick chance to find a bear. We traveled over an old road that led off through the woods, and when we had gone just a few miles from the house Trailer struck a bear track and off he went like a skyrocket. Squire and I followed him up and after we listened for some time I knew that he had it treed so we sent two cur dogs that were with us to help Trailer keep the bear up the tree, for when a bear hears a man coming he sometimes comes down in spite of the dog.
It was well that we did, for when we got near the tree it started to come down and come down fast too. We ran as fast as we could, but the bear came on down and landed right in the mouths of those three dogs. Then began one of the prettiest fights that I have ever seen. The cur dogs, not being trained, each took a hold on either side of the bear's head, while Trailer grabbed at his favorite hold, a ham. Trailer began to yank back and the lively battle began. After the bear had torn both the cur dogs loose with his paws, he reared back to get Trailer, but Trailer was too wise for him and was out of the way of those murderous paws.
John Grabs Tommyhawk
The two cur dogs then sprang in again and each seized him by the side of the head. By the time they had each got there old Trailer was again yanking at the ham. This time the bear went down in a heap. I could see that there was no chance to shoot so I handed Squire my gun and grabbing my tommyhawk rushed up to get in a lick that might save the life of one or both of the cur dogs. As the bear got up he knocked both dogs loose and made a grab for my leg but missed.
I sprang back and grabbed my gun, and while I was making this move the two cur dogs grabbed him again. I watched my chance and as he rolled over on his back, trying to knock off the two dogs at his head, I let him have it just behind the shoulder and the fight was over.
We went back and got Naylor and the wagon, then returned and loaded in the bear and proceeded on home all happy and feeling that we had made a fair start. Squire Parker was highly elated, not only with the good luck that we were having but at the way Trailer had worked with the bear.
Cub Next on List
The next morning we all took saddle horses and coupled the two cur dogs together so they could not run until we were ready to let them go, for they liked to run deer too well and this, of course, Trailer never did. When we got about three miles into the woods Trailer struck a bear track again and in a short time had it treed. This time we were very careful and took much pains to get there without being heard for fear that it might come down again. Lo and behold, when we got to where we could see, it was only a cub that must have strayed from its mother.
Trailer Hits Cold Track
We were just a bit more disappointed, as we had been counting on a large one. However, we killed it, dressed it and hung it up and struck out again. It was quite a while this time before Trailer struck another track, and when he did it was a cold one under some large sugar pines where he had been hunting for nuts. Round and round went Trailer working on that track and finally found where it had left and started off directly east. The track was a little fresher now and soon he was making better time and now breaking into a run, opening up at every jump. Squire started to follow as fast as his horse could go.
He had made the boast just a few minutes before that he was going to keep right up with him to watch him tree his game. Naylor and I rode along in a walk and I said, "Let him go, he must have his experience, he will find out his mistake soon enough."
"Yes," replied Naylor with a chuckle, "he sure will."
They passed through some timber and were soon out of sight. Trailer was running pretty fast now and in a short time he was out of hearing. About half a mile farther we overtook Squire. He had stopped his horse and had both hands back of his ears straining every nerve to catch a sound of Trailer.
We were both laughing as we came up and I said, "Squire, you [might] just as well try to keep up with a cyclone as try to follow Trailer through these woods when he is on the trail of a bear."
"It does look a little that way," he replied, "But I thought I'd try."
Hear Him Toward Klamath
We rode on, keeping in the same general direction for perhaps two or three miles, stopping every little while to listen, and at last we were rewarded with a long "bow-wow-wow" far off and down toward the Klamath River. I kept the cur dogs with me until we got within about a quarter of a mile, then I told Squire and Naylor that I thought it would be a good plan to tie our horses here and for them to stay here too. I would take the other dogs and go on down to the tree where Trailer was, turn them loose and proceed to get under the tree, then I would blow the horn and they could bring the horses to within a couple of hundred yards, tie them up and join me at the tree afoot. I cautioned them to make as little noise as possible.
Find 2-Year-Old Brown
When I got to the tree I found that it was only a rather small two-year-old bear. He was brown and was up a small pine that was open all around, leaving him no place to hide. I blew the horn and waited; after awhile I heard them coming and so did the bear and he decided that it was about time for him to move so down he started, tail foremost. I stepped right up under him and tried to scare him back. He did go back a few feet, but when he looked up and saw those fellows coming he started back down. When he got close enough I punched him with my gun, but it didn't stop him. I stepped back out of the way and he literally dropped right into the mouths of the waiting dogs. The cur dogs each grabbed him by the side of the head. Trailer had him by the ham and with one mighty yank pulled him off his feet. As he went down I could see that this was my opportunity, so I jerked out my tommyhawk and struck him on the top of the head, which stunned him. I struck him another and he rolled over dead.
We loaded him on one of the horses and racked out for home, stopping to pick up the cub, and reached home after being gone about half a day. As we rode along Squire looked at Trailer and said, "John, [I think you may] have the best bear dog in the world."
Haven't Seen Anything Yet
"Squire," I replied, "you really haven't seen him work yet."
"Well, if I had him I would catch a bear every day."
"Then you would soon have no dog at all, for it would mean that you would just work him to death. I want him to live a long time yet so I'm going to take care of him." "That's right, John, that's right, but he sure is one fine dog."
Trailer Pulls a Surprise
The afternoon was spent dressing and packing the meat to cure. Both Naylor and I were ready to go home, but Squire begged us to stay just one more day, so we consented and the next morning saddled up and started out again. I coupled the two cur dogs together again so that Trailer's work would not be interfered with, and we started out toward Johnson's Prairie. We rode until about noon before Trailer found a track of any description, and then he found something. It was a cold trail and so indistinct that we could not discern what it was, but he kept at it for several hours and finally it got fresher and he trailed it to a patch of brush.
Into the brush he went on a run and pretty soon out rushed a big cougar. Trailer was right behind and he was not long in putting it up a tree. Squire shot it out and it measured nine feet.
"Now," said I to Squire, "you've really seen Trailer work."
"I sure have, and I know now that there are very few like him."
It was getting late and we struck out for home, staying with Squire that night, and the next day Naylor and I returned to our respective homes. I hope the readers are as satisfied with this true story as we were with our trip.
John Griffin, of Dead Indian, made a good shot with a pocket pistol some time since, killing a big buck at a distance of 60 yards, by breaking its neck at the first shot.
Griffin Tells of Indians and Wild Game Encountered
During Early-Day Wagon Trip to Boise, Idaho
By JOHN B. GRIFFIN
In the year 1873, when I was just twenty years old, my father and mother and my sister and I made a trip from where we were then living here in Jackson County, Oregon to Boise, Idaho, to visit my older sister, who was the wife of Hon. John Hailey, then a delegate to Congress from the Territory of Idaho.
Went by Fort Klamath
It was the 20th of September when we started, and we had, besides the four horses hitched to the wagon, four other horses which we were taking along to sell. We went by the way of Fort Klamath, which was a military post in those days, and there were several companies of soldiers stationed there. It was not long after the Modoc War, and they had Capt. Jack, Black Jim, Bogus Charley and Schonchin there in the guard house, and all the balance of the Modocs' men, women and children were in a large stockade with a walk all around the top and guards with rifles stationed at the corners and walking round and round.
Doomed Indians Chained
I visited the guard house where Capt. Jack and the other three were being held under sentence of death which was to be on October third. It was a large building made of huge logs, and I was told that, even in there, they were shackled and chained to the floor. In addition to this there was a soldier walking back and forth in front of the door with a rifle on his shoulder and a number of other soldiers sitting on a bench near the door. It was sure a great sight for me, as I had never seen a military post before. I sure felt sorry for those poor helpless people, even if they had violated the laws of the land. The next day we went on, and on the 2nd day of October we arrived at Sprague River and, as we went up the valley, we met hundreds of Indians going to Fort Klamath to be there on the day of the execution. That night we camped near where the town of Beatty now stands, and the next day we went on up the valley and camped at Round Grove about eight miles the other side of Bly, which was on October 3rd, the day of the execution.
Wild Game Abounded
I had often heard my mother tell about the prairie chickens, the sage hens and the buffalo that they had seen hunted and eaten while crossing the plains, but up until this time I had never seen a prairie chicken. That day, before we got to our camp I killed a prairie chicken, which pleased me very much. There were lots of coyotes, and if I had had a Winchester I could have made it hot for them, but I only had a muzzle-loading gun and a Smith & Wesson pistol, neither of which filled the bill for this kind of game.
Coyotes Chase Dogs
One day the dog we had with us ran off after a coyote, and it was not long until back he came on a dead run with three coyotes right after him. When I heard them coming I jumped off my horse, pulled up my muzzleloader and shot the first one. The other two swung back into the sagebrush and were out of sight before I could draw my pistol and shoot. This was new to me. I had never been in a place before where the coyotes were so thick and so bold. One day four big ones crossed the road right in front of me. The muzzleloader was back in the wagon, so I pulled my other pistol and turned loose on them and I sure made a scatterment. I don't think I hit one of them.
Sage Hens Friendly
Before we got to Warner Valley we camped for dinner and I took the gun and went out to see if I could find something to shoot, and I ran across a flock of sage hens within three hundred yards of camp.
They flew up, then stopped a short distance away. I followed carefully and when I saw one pulled up and shot it, expecting the others to fly away, but they did not so I reloaded and shot again, killing another one. I shot still another one before they took alarm and flew away. I took them into camp high elated at my good luck. I had never eaten any sage hen, but that night we had sage hen for supper and we all thought they were fine.
Kills Naked Coyote
We arrived that night at the Bill Jones place in Warner Valley. We stopped there two days, and the first day I went down about two miles to have a look at the lake. The next day all the folks went away and left me to take care of camp. We had a very good spyglass, and I got it out and was standing with my elbow on the wheel of the wagon looking through the glass down toward the lake. When I got through looking and lowered the glass, there stood a coyote right at the end of the wagon tongue. He was poor and scrawny, and didn't have a speck of hair on him, and I was almost ashamed of myself for killing him. But I consoled myself with the thought that it was a good thing to put him out of his misery. He had probably picked up a dose of strychnine which had not been enough to kill him but had just left him in that condition.
Wolves Howl at Night
The next day we continued on our journey, and at the end of the second day we reached Steens Mountain where we came to a big cattle ranch and we made our camp nearby. This was sure an interesting place to me. Sagebrush covered the whole country, and soon after it got dark, and while we were sitting around our campfire we suddenly were startled by the howl of a wolf, a long dismal howl, answered by another in a different direction and then another. We were surrounded by wolves who kept up their howling for quite awhile. It would almost make the hair stand on your head. They kept it up for quite awhile but finally died down and we were allowed to get some rest. It was a new experience to me, and I just longed to get a chance to see one of those big gray fellows and get a crack at him with my rifle, but they told me that you could ride the country day after day looking for cattle and never catch a sight of a wolf.
The next night we camped on the east side of Steens Mountain, and as we topped the last ridge, down before us lay thousands and thousands of acres of level country; miles and miles of it, seemingly as far as the eye could see. Here is the first time I ever saw a mirage.
Sees Lake in Mirage
As I looked down upon the scene before me, there lay a beautiful lake, blue and inviting. It seemed to be about a half mile away, so I took my gun and thought I would strolled down there and get a closer view of it. So on I went down the road until I got to the foot of the hill and reached level ground. Then I turned and followed a trail in the direction of the lake, but when I got to where it ought to be, there was no lake there. From where I stood I could see many miles and not a sign of a lake anywhere.
To say that I was puzzled would hardly express it. I was dumbfounded. I could not think it possible. I went back to camp and when I got there about the first hard work I did was to look for the lake where I had seen it. The sun was considerably lower now and there was no lake in sight; it had taken flight and was gone. I got out the spying glass and scanned the country for miles, but no lake, so I had to give it up.
Cross 18-Mile Desert
The next morning we drove across an alkali desert that was eighteen miles wide and almost as level as a floor and not a spear of grass in sight. That evening we arrived at old Camp C. F. Smith, where some [omission] during the Indian war. Living at the camp was a man by the name of [John S.] Devine, who had a band of over three thousand head of cattle and several hundred head of horses. His cowboys and teamsters occupied the adobe houses that had been erected by and used for the soldiers.
Hospitality Was Watchword
Hospitality was a watchword among most of the ranchers and settlers in those days, and Devine had us come to his house to sleep and eat, and when we were ready to leave gave us beef and flour and several things that we were short of at the time. He had married a Spanish senorita, a refined, gracious and very beautiful woman.
Crooked River Well Named
Crooked River was the next stop, and say, whoever gave it that name sure named it properly. It was so crooked that just walking along its banks one could hardly tell which side of the stream he was on. It is the crookedest river I ever saw. You could stand in one spot and fish either to the right or to the left and catch fish anywhere, for the river was full of them. We traveled for more than half a day along this river. It was just the same all the way and not an inhabitant anywhere along the route.
Two Days Between Ranches
Finally we arrived at the Jordan Valley, and here was quite a settlement and for the first time in many days it began to look like civilization again, but it was just a slight break in the monotony, for after leaving Jordan Valley we traveled for two days before we came to another ranch. Up hill and down we would travel, reaching what looked like the top, only to find that we had to descend again and begin another climb.
As we came to one of these depressions, with all of the country covered with fine bunchgrass, a big band of antelope crossed the road right in front of us. These were the first antelope we had seen on the trip, and really the first I had ever seen. They ran down a long deep gulch to our left, the whole herd starting down the ridge on the opposite side. My hunting blood was immediately up. I jumped off my horse, my sister passed me out my gun and, quicker than it takes to tell it, I was running down that gulch headed for an open pass that the herd was headed for. I got there just in time. Part of the herd had already passed by, and as I stopped one of the bucks suddenly stopped, turned with his breast toward me and threw up his head, looking for the wagon which was still in sight but far above me now. Quickly I caught a bead on his breast and fired. He reared back on his hind legs, rolled over and I knew that he was my meat. The others passed on very quickly and were soon out of sight.
Antelope Steak Delicious
Perhaps you think that I didn't step high on my way back to the wagon. If you do you have another think coming. I got my saddle horse, loaded on the buck, brought him up to the wagon, and we were soon on our way again. That night I ate antelope steak for the first time, and it sure was as fine meat as I ever tasted.
Cross Snake on Ferry
The next day we got to Snake River and crossed on the ferry boat where the river was two hundred and seventy-three yards wide. It was the largest river I had ever seen, and the next night we camped on the Boise River. About noon the next day we reached Boise City and all of us, including the horses, were pretty well fagged out and mighty glad to finally reach our destination. I gave the antelope horns to my sister, the wife of Hon. John Hailey. She kept them for over forty years, but before she died returned them to me, and I still have them. The muzzle-loading rifle with which I killed him is now in the relic or museum building at Jacksonville, and the antelope was killed on the 17th of October, 1873.
In my next installment I will tell you of a continuation of this same trip and of a hunt that was for something other than wild game. This time it was for men, so watch for the conclusion of the story.
I stayed in Boise but a short time then went down to my brother's place on the Payette River. My father, mother and sister who made the trip with me remained in Boise for a year or until the next October, while I remained with my brother until the next March in the year 1874. My feet got to itching again at about this time, and another brother, Lafayette, and I went down to Walla Walla, Washington, where one of my older brothers [Burrel W. Griffin] had a stock ranch some seven miles or so from town on what was called Dry Creek. This brother was at that time the sheriff of Walla Walla County, and as these duties kept away from home a great deal we took charge of the ranch and worked for him until fall.
Three Prisoners Escape
My brother, the sheriff, had eleven prisoners, and one night three of them made their escape. This was not so good for him, as these men had been sentenced to the state prison and were only awaiting transportation. Naturally he was very anxious to catch them, so he called on my brother and me to help him. Two of these men were half-breeds, being French and Indian, and the other an American.
Head for Settlement
There was a French settlement [probably Lowden, Washington] down the river about eleven miles from Walla Walla, and of course we thought that would be the most likely place to find them or get some word about them. It was hard to get any information about them at first, but after a day or so we learned that they had stolen a horse apiece and were heading for British Columbia. The likely route for them to follow then, we thought, would be the one traveling up the Columbia River, so early on the fifth day of July we left Walla Walla and rode hard down the Snake River until we reached the old Indian trail that stretched out up the Columbia.
Indians Give Clue
We came across some Indians that night, and as we could talk a little in their language we asked them some questions and learned that our men had crossed the river the evening before. It was just a little after daylight, so we knew that they could not be so very far ahead of us. We got the Indians to take us across the river in their canoes, we leading our horses who, of course, had to swim. But we all made it across like a top and, after a hasty breakfast, we lit out and rode at a good pace until about two o'clock in the afternoon, when we came to a small cattle ranch owned by a man by the name of Koontz. How he ever came to settle there in such an isolated spot when he had so much good country to choose from was always a mystery to me. No neighbors probably within fifty miles and entirely surrounded by Indians, coyotes and rattlesnakes. We didn't pay much attention to either of these just then, as we were after a different kind of game.
Defied by Rattler
However, one big old rattler crawled out in the middle of the trail, curled up and began to rattle and hiss as though defying us, but one charge of buckshot riddled him plenty, and we rode on by. But "believe it or not" I want to tell you something, as we rode along that sagebrush trail you could hear rattlers as they crawled away, and the coyotes would just stand and look at us within easy shooting distance. My brother had a double-barreled muzzle-loading shotgun and I had a six-shooter, but we had no time to fool with them and did not want to make any more noise and commotion than we could help either. That evening we came to another ranch and found another man who was crazy enough to bring his family up into his forsaken country to try to make a home for them. We got supper here then were on our way again, riding all night with the exception of a couple of short stops to let our horses rest and eat when we found some good grass for them. We would unsaddle and lie down on the ground on our saddle blankets, make a pillow of our saddles and rest and sleep for an hour or so and then on again.
Early in the morning, just as daylight was fully upon us, we met an Indian riding toward us on a white pony. As he came up we stopped and thinking I might be able to get some information from him I said, in a tongue I thought he could understand, "Clihiam six," which means, "How do you do, my friend."
He stopped, gave a friendly salute and said, "Clihiam."
"Mica nonitch clone Boston man," I asked, which means, "Have you seen three white men."
"Now wit kee, now wit kee," he replied, meaning, "Yes, I saw them."
"Ki mica nanitch," I said: "When did you see them."
"A coke sun sish," he answered. (Just before sunup.)
Close Upon Prey
I thanked him and we went on. So they were not far ahead of us now, and by a little hard riding we would soon come up with them. After a short time and having urged our horses on to do their best, we came to the big bend in the Columbia River. Instead of following the course of the river we cut straight across, saving some time. There was an Indian camp there, and I made some further inquiries only to learn that the men had been there but had just left. Pretty sure of our game now, we lit out up the river at a good pace and soon came to a large bluff, close against which the river ran, with a narrow trail hugging the bluff closely. When we got around the bluff we found that the river had risen and covered a low place in the trail, and we had to go around, keeping to the higher ground.
As we were working our way around, we looked across to the other side and there we saw them going around on the other side, riding slowly and unconcerned and unaware that we were officers of the law and out after them.
We hurried around, and as the trail got a little better we urged our horses to a run and were soon overtaking them. The half-breeds saw that the game was up and surrendered at once with their hands up, but the white man made a dash to escape. We quickly found that the half-breeds had no firearms, so leaving them there in the trail we lit out after the white man on a dead run. In less than half a mile we came up to where we could see him, and when we got close enough he pulled out a pistol and began to shoot. He didn't have to shoot more than once until my brother had his shotgun to his shoulder and let him have just one barrel. It struck him in the shoulder and neck, and he rolled off his horse badly wounded.
Canoe Comes in Handy
He was quiet enough now, and in a little time we had him fixed up so that we could get him to the river where we hired an Indian to take him down the river to Washougal in a canoe.
We took the half-breeds with their stolen horses and started back. We rode the biggest part of that night, and the next day we arrived at Washougal just a little after dark and upon inquiry found that the Indian had already arrived with the white man, whose name was Cox.
Stolen Horses Returned
That night we telegraphed my brother the sheriff at Walla Walla, who came with a hack and took the prisoners back. The stolen horses were returned to their owners and thus ended the manhunt and that part, at least, of the career of the jailbreakers. Cox, the man that we shot, was not hurt as badly as we at first thought. After the doctor had removed the shot from his shoulder he was well in a few weeks.
My brother, the sheriff, gave each of us a fine saddle horse for our pay, and as I already had a horse I sold mine before I left for one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
My father and mother soon came this way on their trip from Boise and we began our trip back to the Rogue River Valley, landing here about November first, having been gone just a little over a year.
Medford News, March 12, 1937, page 1
Death Calls Pioneer John Griffin
John B. Griffin, one of the first white children born in the Rogue River Valley, and one of the last members of that band of rugged youths who roamed the forests of Southern Oregon when there were more bears, cougars, deer and elk than there are now hunters in the season, died last Sunday morning in the home of his niece, Mrs. Emma Davis of Ashland. A page was turned in the book of Jackson County history as he went to the "happy hunting ground," for the stories that were his to tell will live again only through the printed page. He was in his eighty-sixth year, when the heart that had never failed, though the biggest bear came over the mountain, succumbed to an attack, which began Saturday evening.
Funeral rites were held Tuesday afternoon in the Conger chapel, crowded with friends and admirers of the true frontiersman, whose father, Burrel B. Griffin, actively engaged in Indian wars on Sterling, Applegate and Williams Creek. The body of "Uncle John" was then returned to the hill country that he loved in the Griffin Creek Cemetery. Last rites were conducted by the Rev. D. E. Millard. Pallbearers were F. D. Wagner, Lew Reynolds and Hugo Reinbold of Ashland; William R. Coleman, J. B. Coleman and Syd I. Brown of Medford.
Almost as famous in Southern Oregon as John B. Griffin were his bear dogs, of whom he talked and wrote fluently during his late years. Many of his stories of the hunt appeared in the Medford News and were widely read by persons interested in the tales and the teller as well as in the perpetuation of that certain romance, which belongs to a country only when she is young, with her timber unspoiled and her grasses, as Uncle John's father used to say, "belly high to the horse."
As one of the oldest native sons of Jacksonville, Mr. Griffin was a colorful figure at each meeting of the Southern Oregon Pioneer Association. He usually read a poem, or perhaps a story, and frequently inspired debate on that much-disputed question "Who was the first white child born in Jackson County?" He was as much a part of the day's festivities as the basket dinner.
In 1878 Mr. Griffin married Nettie Naylor, daughter of Granville Naylor, who built the first sawmill in Jackson County. Mrs. Griffin died in 1936, at which time Mr. Griffin left the Medford home to reside in Ashland. Three children survive: Mrs. Abbie Bailey of Merrill, Lawrence Griffin of Bly and Everett Griffin of Trinidad, Calif. Survivors also include five great-grandchildren.
Medford News, May 5, 1939, page 1
JOHN B. GRIFFIN, COLORFUL PIONEER,
CALLED TO REST
Heart Attack Strikes 'Uncle John' in 86th Year--
Born in Jacksonville When City Was Metropolis.
John B. Griffin, famed and colorful pioneer character of southern Oregon, died Sunday morning in the home of his niece, Mrs. Emma Davis, 107 Seventh Street, Ashland. He was in his 86th year.
While not enjoying the best of health in recent months, Mr. Griffin had been about as usual. He was stricken after dinner Saturday evening with a heart attack, from which he did not rally.
Mr. Griffin, known familiarly as "Uncle John," was noted for his story-telling proclivities. He wove intriguing yarns about his big game hunting in southern Oregon forests, featuring particularly his experiences with bears. Many of his hunting stories were published in Oregon newspapers.
Loved To HuntHe was an enthusiastic woodsman and loved the life of a frontiersman, deriving much enjoyment from hunting and fishing. For many years the name of John Griffin was synonymous with big game hunting in southern Oregon, and the wildest regions were familiar grounds to him and his bear dogs, which also were famous throughout this part of the state.
Mr. Griffin was born in Jacksonville on September 14, 1853, when the city was the thriving metropolis of southern Oregon and an exciting center of gold mining. He was one of the oldest native sons of Jackson County and one of the first white children born in this part of the state.
Retired for many years, Uncle John spent his last years in telling and writing his experiences and in cultivating friendships. Stern but yet gentle, he made friends easily, and many men and women, old and young, today mourned his death.
On May 5, 1878, Mr. Griffin was married to Miss Nettie Naylor, daughter of Granville Naylor, a pioneer whose land claim was situated on Griffin Creek near Jacksonville. Mrs. Griffin died a number of years ago.
Three SurviveThree children survive, Mrs. Abbie Bailey of Merrill, Lawrence Griffin of Bly and Everett Griffin of Trinidad, Cal. Survivors also include five great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held in the Conger chapel at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Rev. D. E. Millard officiating. Interment will be made in the Griffin Creek cemetery.
In a recent article in the Oregon Journal, Mr. Griffin told of his life in the following words:
"My father, Burrel B. Griffin, was born in Kentucky, May 13, 1808. My mother was born in one of the Carolinas, July 22, 1806. They were married in Missouri March 22, 1829. All of their 12 children have lived to a good old age except Amos Campbell, who was born and died in 1836.
"My parents, with their children, crossed the plains in 1846 by ox team. Father and Mother took a donation claim half a mile from Scio. In the spring of 1849 Father and my oldest brother went to California. They got a good claim and took out a good amount of gold. Father believed he could return anytime and get another claim, so he sold his claim, and he and my brother came back to Linn County. As they passed the Rogue River Valley Father was struck with admiration for the timber, the numerous streams and the grass, belly-high to his horse. Father and the family moved to the Rogue River Valley in the spring of 1852 and took a donation claim four miles southeast of Jacksonville, on a creek named for him and still known as Griffin Creek.
"Father bought a band of cattle and some fine horses, built a house and barn and began improving his claim. Not long after, the Indians went on the warpath and killed nine of Father's horses. He sent a runner to Jacksonville, and some men came and escorted the family to Jacksonville, where they stayed till the trouble was over.
"Father was lieutenant in Captain Miller's company. They had a fight with Old John and his band August 12 on Applegate Creek, near the mouth of Williams Creek. Father, with 20 men, went to Sterling Creek and destroyed the Indian village there. Next day they went to Williams Creek, where they were ambushed, and Father was wounded with a bullet through his right leg. Francis Garnet was killed. They killed or wounded five Indians. The two oldest of my brothers joined the volunteers and fought with Father. Father was wounded twice--once with a bullet in the leg and once in the shoulder with an arrow.
"I was born September 14, 1853 at Jacksonville. I lived on our ranch on Griffin Creek till I was 25. In 1878 I married Nettie Naylor, whose father, Granville Naylor, built the first sawmill in Jackson County. My wife and I celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary. She died March 14, 1936.
"We took a homestead in the Dead Indian country in 1886. We ran a dairy there seven years. My wife attended to the butter making, while I did the hunting. We sold butter and venison to the people of Ashland. In those days there were lots of deer, elks, bears, wildcats and cougars in that country. I had a dog that treed over 100 bears in the Cascade Range. When he died I had a notice of his death printed in the paper.
"Our children attended school at Phoenix. Later we moved to Grants Pass, where the children continued their schooling. We bought a ranch in Illinois Valley, near Sucker Creek, and lived there for many years. I traded this ranch for property in Medford, where we lived till the death of my wife. I then moved to Ashland."
Medford Mail Tribune, May 1, 1939, page 1
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Burrel B. Griffin, born in Kentucky, 1808, and emigrated to Missouri in 1835, and arrived in Oregon in 1848 and in Rogue River Valley in June 1852, died in 1881. Engaged in farming.
"Southern Oregon Pioneers," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1882, page 3
Claim of Burrel B. Griffin (No. 37) $1277.00
Territory of Oregon )
County Jackson ) s.s.
Burrel B. Griffin of said county being duly sworn says--During actual hostilities of the Rogue River War of 1853, on or about the 5th day of August 1853, I was the owner of a log house situated in said county described as follows: 18 by 18 feet on the ground, hewed down on the inside and outside, a fireplace and chimney built of rock halfway up--2 doors & shutters, a floor, with an addition on the gable end of 10 by 18 feet frame and weatherboarded and floored--also a porch the full length of both, framed & floored, the roofs were nailed. Valued at $450. In the house were three bedsteads worth $4 each, one large worth $6 a small table worth $3. Said house and contents were burned about the date last mentioned by the Rogue River Tribe of Indians as I verily believe. I also left about 100 chickens big and little, which were destroyed during the war by the Indians as I believe, as arrows were found under the chicken roost.
I had also one large American mare and 1 Indian horse lost during the war. The mare was killed by the Indians. I found her near where the house was burnt with an arrow stuck in her side. I pulled the arrow out myself and the mare died of the wounds about three hours afterwards. I found one of the Indian horses dead on the ground with several other dead horses belonging to the miners. The American mare was a first class animal worth $400, at least--a blooded animal.
I also had in the field near the house 30 dozen sheaves [of] oats, [and] a stack of hay containing 1½ tons. I also had 6 pack saddles with rigging hanging on a pole near the house worth $6 apiece.
Said oats and hay were destroyed at the time the house was burnt, and said pack saddles were cut to pieces & destroyed by the Indians as I believe--it looked like their work. I have never reclaimed any of said property, nor received payment therefor from the United States nor from anyone.
Burrel B. GriffinFile Microcopies of Records in the National Archives No. 2, Roll 28, Records of the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs
John B. Griffin, born Jackson County, Oregon, September 14, 1853, joined the Pioneer Society, July 28, 1881.
"Southern Oregon Pioneers," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 15, 1882, page 3
BORN.GRIFFIN--Near Jacksonville, Sept. 10th, to Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Griffin, a son.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 16, 1882, page 3
Hay is selling at $50 a ton and wheat at 2½ cents a pound at the railroad front. John B. Griffin disposed of a load at these figures this week.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 3, 1883, page 3
John B. Griffin claims the championship of southern Oregon, having recently killed seven deer and three bears near Sterlingville in half a day.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 13, 1885, page 3
Fred Barneburg has bought the butcher shop formerly owned by Wm. Turner and will continue the business at the old stand. J. B. Griffin will have charge of the shop.
"Medford Brevities," Ashland Tidings, January 15, 1886, page 3
What promises to be one of the richest and most extensive strikes that has ever been made in Jackson County was made by John Robinson and John Slagle on the hills in the front of Granville Sears' ranch some two miles distant in the hills. The find is rich decomposed rose quartz, bearing free gold in abundance. The ledge has been traced on the surface for a distance of over 700 feet, and at a depth of 6 feet is five feet wide. In every piece of quartz can be found a prospect of free gold. We visited the ledge Wednesday, and found Messrs. Robinson and Slagle at work taking and sacking the quartz--the ledge laying in such a position that one man can take out several tons in a day. Several parties are interested in extensions on the same ledge, which has been traced for some distance. On the location notices were noticed the names of D. Miller, Wm. Robinson, F. Barneburg and J. B. Griffin. The above parties being also interested in the first strike.--Monitor.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 10, 1886, page 3
John B. Griffin is now a resident of the Dead Indian country, where he has taken up a piece of government land and commenced to raise stock.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 10, 1887, page 3
John B. Griffin, the hunter who lives in the Dead Indian country in the Cascades east of Ashland, brought in a wagonload of fine, fat venison last Saturday, and sold it readily at eight cents per pound. He is one of the best hunters in Oregon, and "brings in meat" time and again when ordinary sportsmen fail to have even a plausible story of big bucks making miraculous escapes after being fatally wounded by them. It is seldom that an elk is seen now in this part of Oregon, but Mr. Griffin killed a big buck elk recently on Little Elk Creek which dressed about 800 lbs. His antlers were six-pointers and have a majestic spread. An eight-pound buck of the common black-tailed deer, killed the other day by Mr. Griffin, dressed 189½ pounds--about as large as they are ever reported.--Tidings.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 20, 1887, page 3
John B. Griffin, the hunter who lives in the Dead Indian country in the Cascades east of Ashland, brought in a wagonload of fine, fat venison last Saturday and sold it readily at eight cents per pound. It is seldom that an elk is seen now in this part of Oregon, but Mr. Griffin killed a big buck elk recently on Little Elk Creek which dressed about 800 pounds. His antlers were six-pointers, and have a majestic spread. An eight-pointed buck of the common blacktailed deer, killed the other day by Mr. Griffin, dressed 189½ pounds--about as large as they are ever reported.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 28, 1887, page 3
John B. Griffin killed a deer a short time since which weighed 170 lbs. when dressed. He has no superior as a hunter in this section.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 27, 1888, page 3
The undersigned has at his ranch in Dead Indian country the following described horse, which he requests the owner to come and take away, paying charges for this advertisement, as the animal is breechy and a nuisance when left loose about the ranch, viz.: Small black gelding, white strip in face and both forefeet white; saddle marks, no brand visible, about 14 hands high, 7 or 8 years old.
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.Ashland Tidings, June 28, 1889, page 3
Ashland, Or., June 25th, 1889.
Wm. Neil, John B. Griffin and A. F. Hunt made their way out on snowshoes from the Dead Indian country to Ashland last week. They reported snow about four feet deep on Dead Indian Prairie at that time.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 6, 1890, page 3
John B. Griffin of the Dead Indian country is in town. He would not be unwilling to receive the Democratic nomination for county assessor.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 24, 1890, page 3
John Griffin, the Dead Indian Nimrod, in company with Wm. L. Neil, brought in two fine fat bucks to Ashland as the spoils of a hunting trip last week.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 1, 1890, page 3
John B. Griffin killed three bears and seven deer this week, and brought in some of the finest and fattest venison Tuesday that has been seen here for many a day.
"Some of Our Nimrods," Ashland Tidings, October 31, 1890, page 3
John B. Griffin took a hunt a few days last week before the close season set in, capturing three bears, two fine bucks and five small deer. John is the Nimrod, par excellence, of the upper country.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 7, 1890, page 3
John Griffin, of Dead Indian, made a good shot with a pocket pistol some time since, killing a big buck at a distance of 60 yards, by breaking its neck at the first shot.
"Here and There," Ashland Tidings, November 21, 1890, page 3
John B. Griffin of Dead Indian precinct accidentally killed a four-point buck with a pocket pistol, at a distance of 60 yards recently, breaking the animal's neck, much to John's surprise, as he did not suppose the pistol would "carry up" at that distance.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 28, 1890, page 3
Crit. Tolman is at home from Alaska and will remain in Ashland for some weeks before returning to his post. Crit. now has a fat position at Wrangel, the same that Uncle John Wrisley had accepted some time ago. Some of the officious Republican leaders in the upper valley represented that Uncle John was too old to attend to the duties of the position, however, and "Son Crit." was promoted instead. To say that Mr. Wrisley was indignant over the tricky proceedings is putting it very mild.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 12, 1890, page 3
D. Spencer of Ashland accompanied Crit. Tolman to Alaska last week, on a hunting and fishing trip.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 26, 1890, page 3
John B. Griffin this week removes his family from Dead Indian section to this precinct, where his children will attend school at the Naylor school house during the coming term. He and Thad. Powell had considerable trouble in breaking a trail over the divide last week for the purpose of bringing them out.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 6, 1891, page 3
John Griffin's dog "Trailer" is the only canine, comparatively speaking, in the country who has traveled exclusively on his merits, having been taken to Alaska for the sole purpose of hunting by Crit. Tolman, who last week returned the faithful animal to his owner's caresses, after the dog had earned his passage by assisting to bag over $400 worth of peltries while away.
"Here and There," Ashland Tidings, July 3, 1891, page 3
John Griffin's dogs started a bear at Johnson's Prairie on Jenny Creek one day recently and followed it all the way to the McAllister soda spring on Butte Creek, some twenty miles, and treed it there. A couple of men at that place heard the dogs barking, knew whose they were and started for the tree expecting to get bear. They were not disappointed. The bear was there, and they killed it, after which the dogs contentedly struck out for home.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, July 10, 1891, page 3
Mrs. John B. Griffin, who had been with her mother, Mrs. G. Naylor, for a number of weeks during her last illness, returned to Dead Indian with her husband the first of the week.
"Personal," Ashland Tidings, July 31, 1891, page 3
W. W. Wright, of San Francisco, the young man whom the Tidings last week mentioned as hunting for John Griffin and big game, returned from Dead Indian after a few days, bought a pony and started on his return to the city horseback. The reporter did not ascertain how many bear he killed while out with Griffin.
"Personal," Ashland Tidings, August 14, 1891, page 3
John B. Griffin is now more dangerous to deer and bear than ever before, having received one of the newest model Marlin magazine rifles last week.
"Here and There," Ashland Tidings, August 28, 1891, page 3
John Griffin was hunting out in the Dead Indian country last week and the result of his "run" was eight deer and three bear, one of which was a good-sized one. He brought the venison into town Saturday and found ready sale for all of it.
Deer are not very numerous now in Southern Oregon, but some fine fat bucks have been killed already in the hunting grounds near Ashland. John B. Griffin brought in eight carcasses last Saturday, and disposed of the meat on the street in a short time at 8 to 10 cts per lb., realizing some $50 for the load. The venison was fine, with thick streaks of fat in the roasting cuts. In Portland venison sells readily now at 20 cents per pound for steaks and 15 to 20 cts. for hams.
"Here and There," Ashland Tidings, September 25, 1891, page 3
Messrs. Miller, Sears, Brous and O'Hara, accompanied by the veteran trapper John Griffin, made a cleanup of the hunting season in the last week of October in the Applegate and Siskiyou ranges, capturing no less than thirteen deer and one "bar."
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 13, 1891, page 2
John B. Griffin who was up from Phoenix Wednesday, reports that a "People's Party" club was organized at that place last week by S. Holt, with 26 members.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, February 12, 1892, page 3
Misses Ida and Alta Naylor were visiting their sister, Mrs. J. Griffin, one day this week.
As John Wright, John B. Griffin and others were going to Central Point to attend the people's party convention Saturday, the doubletrees of their team broke, letting the horses pull Mr. Wright over the dashboard with such force as to render him senseless for several hours, but he is all right now.
John Griffin and Riley Hammersley are working on a patent gate that threatens to be one of the best inventions for farmers that has been perfected for many years. They will push it for all it is worth.
"Newsy Letter from Phoenix," Ashland Tidings, March 11, 1892, page 3
John B. Griffin is now interested with Riley Hammersley of Phoenix in a patent, self-acting farm gate, that bids fair to be a little ahead of anything in that line heretofore seen.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 18, 1892, page 3
Griffin's famous old bear dog, Trailer, treed a large black bear about two weeks ago which was brought down by the unerring aim of Riley Hammersley--the first one he ever killed out of a tree. Although Trailer is 11 years old, he never fails to follow up a bear track.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, May 6, 1892, page 3
J. B. Griffin's old bear dog, Trailer, last week put a fine black bear up a tree near Phoenix, which was brought down by Riley Hammersley's rifle. The old dog is about 11 years of age, but likes to hunt as well as ever.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 13, 1892, page 3
John B. Griffin of Eden precinct has returned from Walla Walla, Wash., where he has been for several weeks.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 12, 1892, page 3
John B. Griffin is back from the Walla Walla country and may conclude to locate up there, as he is well pleased with the outlook.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, August 19, 1892, page 3
W. G. Cooper was up from Medford after his lost mare. John B. Griffin found the animal on Dead Indian.
"Pressed Bricks," Valley Record, Ashland, September 8, 1892, page 1
John B. Griffin and folks, Mrs. G. W. Stoops, daughter and children, and Ray and Irmy Mathews have returned from huckleberrying at Lake of the Woods.
"Personal and Social," Valley Record, Ashland, September 8, 1892, page 3
Lake of the Woods seems the favorite rendezvous of Southern Oregon pleasure seekers just now. Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, Keno and Linkville all had delegates there last week, while Buck Lake was represented by the famous bear slayer, John Griffin, who enlivened the evening hours of the night.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, September 16, 1892, page 3
John B. Griffin made a big killing for the Dead Indian country in the line of fat bucks last week, having killed eight before taking the meat to Ashland for sale.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 7, 1892, page 3
A Halloween Bear Story.
Editor Valley Record.]
Charley Carney has just returned from the mountains, where has been rusticating for some time, and relates quite an interesting adventure with a bear, which is worth recording: Armed with his Schnellbacher 45-70, Charley took his horse and rode some distance from his companions; tethering his horse to a tree in the dense forest, he cast his eagle eye around for game, and when several rods from his animal he discovered an immense bear glaring at him full in the face. Now, Charley wasn't loaded for bear; otherwise this would have been a simple and ordinary bear story.
The bear wasn't troublesome, but whenever Charley would start to retreat, bruin would advance a few paces toward him, and if Charley would advance toward the bear, bruin would show his teeth and retreat a few steps. Thus, with considerable maneuvering around, about the same relative positions were maintained. Charley searched his pockets for a suitable weapon, and finally found a ten-penny nail. A bright idea seized Charley; he carefully drew the shell from his Schnellbacher and inserted the nail. The bear was standing with his tail against a tree, and Charley took aim, fired and nailed the bear's tail to the tree. The bear was now unable to advance, and Charley retreated to where his horse was tethered. Arriving at this point, another brilliant idea struck Charley; taking his riding whip and returning to the scene of the adventure, he began plying the bear with the whip, in spite of its howls and protests. Finally the hide was so loosened that the bear jumped out of its skin and made its way around a rock pile.
Charley calmly drew the nail from the tree, slung the skin over his shoulder, mounted his horse and returned to camp. Unfortunately while the hunter was crossing a large stream the bear skin fell off and was lost. Charley, however, has the ten-penny nail and would be pleased to show it.
Note.--Readers will find the moral of this story posted on lone pine.
M.M.Valley Record, Ashland, November 17, 1892, page 1
Obituary Notice.John B. Griffin's famous old bear dog, Trailer, died a natural death one day last week, after surviving many battle wounds and a thousand dangers. Trailer was one of the best bear dogs ever known in Oregon, and it is learned from his master that he caught 105 bears, counting all that he has treed, held to the ground and run into caves--and nearly all of them were shot by his master. He has also caught numerous panthers, wildcats, gophers, foxes and badgers--has been seen to kill more than one badger alone--a feat not often accomplished by a single dog. Of bears treed by Trailer the following were shot by different persons: by Chas. Hocket, 4; A. F. Hunt 1; Jim Hess 1; Squire Parker 1; Johnny Wright 1; Riley Hammersley 1; Nim Long and Crit Tolman 1; I. W. Burriss, I. O. Miller and Crit Tolman 3, B. Miller, of Medford, 1, Chas. Brous 1. All the rest were killed by Griffin, who, by the way, never allowed Trailer to get hurt, having at five different times jumped in with his tomahawk to save the dog.
Old Trailer was a favorite character among the hunters, many of whom will share his master's grief over his death.
Ashland Tidings, December 30, 1892, page 3
The metropolitan press of the coast honored John B. Griffin's dead dog, Trailer, with an extended obituary notice, telegraphed from Ashland the day of hs death, setting forth in full his prowess as a bear killer, and his wonderful good luck in not getting hurt in any of his hundred or more encounters with bruin. The sporting clubs of the valley are all wearing crepe on their right arms for the usual period of thirty days, out of respect for Trailer's memory.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 13, 1893, page 3
James Hunt and wife, of Ashland, are spending the summer in Dead Indian. Mrs. Hunt, who is a splendid artist, whiles away the time painting some of the fine scenery on Dead Indian. She is at present painting a picture of "Trailer," John B. Griffin's famous bear dog. It will be 18x24 inches, and safe to say true to the image of Trailer and a credit to the artist.
James B. Griffin, "News from Dead Indian," Medford Mail, September 22, 1893, page 2
Tayler, the Medford shoe man, is having J. B. Griffin tan a fine Angora goatskin for him, with the fur on, for a rug. Griffin can do those jobs up in a style most pleasing--if anyone should ask you.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, March 17, 1893, page 2
A large band of horses and mules passed through Phoenix Wednesday, going north. Some of them looked like they had been run through a threshing machine.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, May 5, 1893, page 1 See June 9 entry, below.
Mrs. J. B. Griffin is spending a week with her sisters, Ida and Alta Naylor, at their father's farm on Griffin Creek.
Somebody is out a swarm of bees, by not attending to business during the warm day, Saturday. A swarm was seen by J. Griffin to pass over on its way to the mountains, which he followed, and after running after them a mile rounded them up on a pine bush, and proceeded to gobble the whole business. So if anyone can prove them and will pay for that run, etc., he can get the shooting match.
"Phoenix Items," Ashland Tidings, May 12, 1893, page 2
Dick Blackwood says Harvey had already sold his mules he took down to California, at a profit of $108 on the head. But we think Dick drew on his imagination too quick this time, as we learn Harvey hasn't sold any yet.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, May 12, 1893, page 4 See June 9 entry, below.
Mr. Biggs, of Medford, and J. B. Griffin of Phoenix went up to Big Butte last week on a bear hunt, but failed to rake 'em in, as Griffin was so afraid of a bear he wouldn't leave camp and Biggs didn't know how to find them, so they came back hungry, as one of Edmundson's bear dogs got into their lunch and ate it all up--they both came back disgusted.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, May 19, 1893, page 1 "Manafraidofabear" was Griffin's pseudonym as a Medford Mail correspondent.
Mrs. J. B. Griffin returned home Wednesday from a pleasant visit with her sister on Griffin Creek.
John Griffin and Mr. Jo. Biggs, of Illinois, went up on Butte Creek last week after bear, but failed to "get there Eli," and came back disgusted.
"Phoenix Items," Ashland Tidings, May 19, 1893, page 2
John B. Griffin is putting a barb wire fence around his field this week to keep out the breachy cayuses which infest this precinct.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, May 26, 1893, page 1
John Griffin has put a barbed wire around his field to protect it from the ravages of the pestive cayuses, who are not satisfied with plenty of good grass on the outside, but break down fences to get something better.
"Phoenix Items," Ashland Tidings, May 26, 1893, page 2
John B. Griffin of Phoenix, the newspaper correspondent, made the Times office a call on Monday.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 2, 1893, page 3
We learn we are about to be scalped by an irate female on account of an item regarding some mules, which was true, and as truth is mighty and must prevail, we don't propose to go back on anything we write to The Mail, especially when we can prove it. We don't write with the intention of hurting anyone's feelings--and besides we are not going to apologize.
"Flashes from Phoenix," Medford Mail, June 9, 1893, page 1
J. B. Griffin, the mountaineer and bear hunter, smiled in on us Tuesday and entertained our Greek editor with some of his daring exploits, escapes and bear-maneuvers. The other day he went out, taking with him the young dogs he has in training, and it wasn't long before he had a bear and two cubs treed. Well, to make a short story long he succeeded in capturing the old bear and one of the youngsters, the other effecting its escape. John might very appropriately be called man not afraid of a bear.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, June 9, 1893, page 2 "Manafraidofabear" was Griffin's pseudonym as a Medford Mail correspondent.
J. B. Griffin and family, accompanied by Miss Naylor of this precinct, have gone to the Dead Indian ranch for the summer.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 7, 1893, page 3
James Hunt and wife, of Ashland, are spending the summer in Dead Indian. Mrs. Hunt, who is a splendid artist, whiles away the time painting some of the fine scenery on Dead Indian. She is at present painting a picture of "Trailer," John B. Griffin's famous bear dog. It will be 18x24 inches, and safe to say true to the image of Trailer and a credit to the artist.
"News from Dead Indian," Medford Mail, September 22, 1893, page 2
Messrs. D. H. Miller, A. H. Brous, D. T. Sears and John Griffin left Monday morning for a week's hunt over in the Applegate country. There is heap plenty game in this locality, and one can well presume they will return loaded to the guards with a variety of the palatable meats of the forests.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, November 24, 1893, page 3
John B. Griffin and family moved in from the Dead Indian country last week and took charge of the Lavenburg property, which they rented for a year.
As jolly a crowd of young people as ever tripped the light fantastic toe assembled at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Griffin Saturday evening and danced until the clock struck twelve, after which the crowd dispersed, all declaring they had a good time, and Manafraidofabear [Griffin's pen name], who was peeping through a crack in the door, can testify that everything passed off pleasantly. Among those present were, ladies--Lena Dunlap, Mina Stoups, Jessie Nyswaner, Bell Nyswaner, Mary Stancliff, Lizzie Critchlow, Myrtle Griffin; gentlemen--John Nyswaner, Riley Hammersley, Bert and Chas. Ankell, Enos Carver, Geo. Clift, Bennie Stoups, Arthur Rose, Snider Dunlap and Ora Kahler.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, November 24, 1893, page 2
J. B. Griffin and family have removed from Dead Indian to Phoenix and taken possession of the Lavenburg hotel property, which they have rented for a year. Give them a call, as they will treat you well.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 1, 1893, page 3
The hunting party, Messrs. Miller, Sears, Brous, Griffin and Tolman, returned Friday, and as a result of one day's shooting laid low four deer, one bear and a wildcat.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 1, 1893, page 5
Crit Tolman has taken one of John Griffin's fine young dogs to train for bear. He will train him with his famous bear dog, "Ranger," which he recently brought from Alaska, and which is undoubtedly the best bear dog in Southern Oregon.
Riley Hammersley, Crit Tolman and John Griffin returned home from Applegate Monday where they had been on a week's hunt with parties from Medford, but bearskins were as scarce as hen's teeth. Too much rain, not much hunt.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 1, 1893, page 5
A fellow was through here on Thanksgiving Day trying to sell venison, but the citizens would not buy as they knew it was out of season.
Ranger and Tacie, two dogs belonging to Crit Tolman and John Griffin, concluded to take a bear hunt last Saturday, and when near the Hope ledge on Wagner Creek jumped a large black bear which gave them a lively chase and terrific fight for about a mile when he concluded to climb a tree to escape the punishment his hindquarters were receiving from their fierce attacks. They were followed by Crit Tolman, Nim Long and Bob Shaw. When near the tree bruin thought he would make a break for liberty, but before he reached the ground the crack of Crit's rifle was heard, and his bearship landed at the foot of the tree limp and lifeless. The boys say he is one of the largest of the black species that has been seen on Wagner Creek for years.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 2
Griffin Has His War Paint On.
Phoenix, Dec. 1, 1893.
To Editor of The Mail:--As the slaughter of deer seems to be a favorite pastime for certain parties up on Rogue River, or the head of Elk Creek, and from all accounts these parties are too lazy to work, it seems to me it is high time for someone to make a kick. I propose to start the ball rolling. I claim to be something of a hunter myself, and I believe that these fellows that have been so flagrantly violating the game law should be punished. Ignorance, or pretended ignorance, of the law won't work, because they know the law, and don't you forget it. Now, as far as I am concerned, I would be the last man to raise a kick if a man should go out and kill a deer for his own use, either in or out of season, but when it comes to a man traveling all the way from Ashland to Elk Creek and on to the head of Elk Creek, fifty or sixty miles, and hiring hunters to kill does, fawns and poor ones at that, and spoiled bucks (I am putting this pretty strong but it is the truth and I can prove it) it seems to me that is just a little too much, and as I said before, I propose to kick. Now we all know that the last legislature passed a law prohibiting the sale of venison at any time of the year, but owing to their failure to repeal the former game law, it was held by the attorney general of the state that the new law was no good. Well, that is all right. Now, the question is, what is the old law? I can give you the substance of it in a very few words:
"Bucks can be killed from the first day of July until the first day of November. Does, from the first day of August until the first day of January."
Now then, there was a man through Phoenix a few days ago, by the name of Gee, from Ashland (Thomas Gee, I think) offering to sell venison, and claimed to have twenty-one deer. I don't know how many does and fawns, but I do know he had bucks, for besides three or four pair of horns in sight, he had one large swelled-neck buck in the front part of his wagon, which anyone knows that knows anything at all about a deer, would not be fit, hardly, for a dog to eat. This is a waste of meat that should not be tolerated. This fellow has been making a practice of this business for three or four years and it is time to call a halt. This is fair warning and if not stopped the state warden will be informed, and if that is not enough, I propose to inform on these fellows myself--something I never have done, but I will do it just the same. I hope Mr. Editor that you will publish this, and remember I take all responsibility on my own shoulders. Yours truly,
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.
Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 2
Ranger and Tacie, two dogs belonging to Crit Tolman and John Griffin, concluded to take a bear hunt last Saturday, and when near the Hope Ledge on Wagner Creek, jumped a large black bear which gave them a lively chase and terrific fight for about a mile when he concluded to climb a tree to escape the punishment his hindquarters were receiving from their fierce attacks. They were followed by Crit Tolman, Nim Long and Bob Shaw. When near the tree bruin thought he would make a break for liberty, but before he reached the ground the crack of Crit's rifle was heard, and his bearship landed at the foot of the tree limp and lifeless. The boys say he is one of the largest of the black species that has been seen on Wagner Creek for years.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 3
Crit Tolman and Riley Hammersley killed another fine black bear a few days ago. Ranger, Crit's famous bear dog, tracked him about ten miles and finally overhauled him, and he had to climb.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 22, 1893, page 2
D. H. Miller has killed a "b'ar." There is nothing remarkable about the mere fact of killing the bear, but that D. H. did it makes an instance which ought to be penciled on the books of Jackson County's history. John Griffin was with D. H. when the killing took place, but he said nothing, only "plug 'im, Dave," when this five-hundred-pound lump of bruin showed itself over on Poor Man's [Creek] side of the Griffin Creek mountains.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 29, 1893, page 3
Crit. Tolman of Ashland spent Tuesday night in Jacksonville. He was on his way home from Williams Creek, where he is interested in mines.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 8, 1894, page 3
Crit Tolman and John Griffin had a bear chase last week which lasted all day and well into the night with the result that his bearship came off victorious, after slapping one of the dogs into the middle of next week. It is seldom that a bear gets the best of this combination, but he did it this time, and no mistake.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, April 6, 1894, page 4
J. B. Griffin has gone to the Hammersley mine to work.
"Phoenix Items," Medford Mail, April 20, 1894, page 2
THE HAMMERSLEY MINE.
In my last communication, I mentioned the fact that perhaps my next would be from a different location than Phoenix, and here you find me at the famous Hammersley mine, at the head of Jump-Off-Joe, of which much has been said, but not half is yet known of the richness of this celebrated mine--but hold on, I must not be so fast, in the first place, no doubt you will be wondering how I came to be here, anyhow. Riley Hammersley stepped off the train at Phoenix a week or more ago, and the first thing he asked me was, "J. B., where are your bear dogs?" I told him they were not far away. "Good," he says, "I wish they were here; I would have you go down with me tonight. There is 'bar' down there, and I want you to go down with me, and we will have some fun." I told him all right, that I would have the dogs here before train time, and so I started immediately to the Shorty mine, on Wagner Creek, where Crit Tolman was, and before two o'clock was back to Phoenix with the bear dogs, and at five o'clock we were all ready to be off. We were accompanied to the depot by quite a number of the Phoenix boys, who assisted us to throw our blankets and dogs into the baggage car. The train pulled out, and we were on our way to the Hammersley mine. We did not go further than Gold Hill, where we put up until next morning, and accompanied by Geo. Hammersley and son Frits, we started for the mine by private conveyance. We arrived at Woodville about ten o'clock, and as Riley had some business there we remained until after dinner before renewing our journey. It is ten miles from Woodville to Burkhart's, at the foot of the hill. A wagon can go no further, so the driver returned to Gold Hill, and we proceeded on horseback, to the summit of the mountain, about a mile and a half and finished the trip on foot, having sent the horses back by a boy. We found everything going on nicely. The mill whistled, and as it was Saturday, Riley let the night shift lay off. The next morning at 6 o'clock sharp, the whistle blowed, and all hands were out and at breakfast in a short time--and talk about your breakfasts, if you want a real, good, No. 1 meal come to the Hammersley mine. Would you like to know the bill of fare? Here it is: Hot rolls, butter, No. 1, from Woodville, ham, eggs, potatoes, beans, syrup, fruit, jellies and good coffee with cream. How does that strike you for a meal in the mountains? The cooking is done by Charles Tabor and wife of Woodville, and is first class in every respect. The mill is running at present on second-class ore, as the water is too high to work in the tunnel where the richest ore is to be found. A tunnel is being run now to tap the ledge, one about eighty feet below the surface, which is to expected also to drain the tunnel on the eighty-foot level, which will give the mill a long run on every rich rock. Mr. Hutchinson, of Woodville, runs the mill on the day shift with Joe Hammersley as engineer and Mr. Statler the night shift, with Joe Hicks as engineer. Frank Shaffer, A. W. McKean, Tom McDonald, Rufe Phelps and Tom Hammersley are the underground workmen; Will Witt and H. Bull handle the ore, while Manafraidofabear [Griffin] is expected to pack in provisions as fast as these fellows can eat it, which is called a hard job. Ben Tabor gets out the tunnel timbers, while Riley Hammersley does the bossing. This is Riley's first experience as general manager of a mine, but everything is going like clockwork, and the boys are not afraid that their money will not be coming when pay day rolls around, as has been the case in this mine heretofore on account of mismanagement and rascality of the ones that were in charge. I will mention right here while I think about it, for the benefit of anyone who contemplates coming up here to get work, that there is at present a full force of men at work, and it would be useless for others to come, as it is a long, tiresome road for them to travel for nothing.
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.Medford Mail, April 20, 1894, page 4
HUNTING IN SOUTHERN OREGONThere are few regions, even in the West today, where one may go and find game, large as well as small, in abundance. Even the precipitous mountain ranges, almost inaccessible to man, the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Coast Range, have been hunted over so thoroughly by Indians and white professional hunters, the latter of whom kill for hides, that when the amateur sportsman scans the map of the country for a district in which he can kill more than a deer a day, he will have to make many inquiries before he can satisfy his mind that there is yet such a place left.
GREAT SPORT IN THE LAKE COUNTRY
BY JOHN E. BENNETT
Still there are spots, scattered over state maps, where sport of the old-time sort, which is now so rare, can still be found, and one of the most interesting of these places is the lake district of Southern Oregon, not far from the California line. It was in this country last summer that a party of three amateur sportsmen killed seventy-six "tallow tail" deer and three bears, besides innumerable grouse, squirrel and mallard duck, and catching steelhead and Dolly Varden trout until no note was taken of their numbers. For three days this party averaged a killing of thirteen deer a day, and the great strings of their carcasses which were hung up in the camps at night, were it not for the wooded backgrounds of the pictures, might have resembled the abattoir of a professional butcher.
Fortunately, in proof of these statements, Mr. F. W. Beck, a well known photographer of San Francisco, formed one of the party. True to his trade he carried his camera, and views were taken from time to time of the progress and success of the expedition.
The company started from California early in July on the California & Oregon Railroad, for Ashland, Oregon, where six horses were purchased and provisions laid in for a campaign of six weeks. Amply accoutered, with horses, wagon and dogs, the party struck northeast and moved through the Dead Indian country fifty miles to Fish Lake, where camp was pitched for a week. This lake, though a mile across, is but five feet deep and of crystal clearness. Through its limpid waters dart endless numbers of steelhead trout, their big bodies and their slowly wagging tails clearly visible by day against the white sandy bottom, although they are taken most readily at night, and strange to say, with the spear.
Whoever heard of spearing trout! Yet we did it, and the experiment convinced us that the sport outdoes that of the hook and line. We fixed a blazing pine knot about three feet beyond the bow of the boat, and two stood in the boat with spears while a third paddled at the stern. The fish swam in schools, and when they got in the light they were "locoed." They swam in and out of the light streak, and being slow swimmers, moving close to the surface, they were easily struck with the spear. Forty-two caught in this way, immense fat fellows, some measuring four feet, were the result of the first night's sport.
We then went to Fort Klamath Lake. This lake is a great sheet of water, sixty miles long and thirty miles across. Here ducks and geese were in abundance. We shot all the mallards we desired with a .22-caliber rifle; it was tedious knocking them one at a time, for we had no shotgun. An Indian came along and showed us a better way. He had a dog, rode a pony, and carried a club. He plunged his steed into the marsh among the tules on the edge of the lake, while the dog ran ahead and flushed the "flappers." As they arose in bunches from the tall grass Lo would reach over and whack them with his stick, and with such effect that when he got ready to go to camp he had about forty.
At Lake of the Woods, a small pond lying at the foot of Mount Pitt about seven miles northeast of Fish Lake, we shot a quantity of fat grouse, which were here very plentiful. It was at this place, too, that we saw an Indian catching trout with a troll line. We tried fishing with hooks, and although there were plenty of steelheads paddling about in the lake, our success was poor. The Indian, however, was making a killing. He took a fish on almost every hook he lifted, and his small boat was half full. Evidently he had a bait which was a bonne bouche to the fish. We tried to discover what it was, but were unable to discern; then we asked him about it and he answered with "Ugh!" He understood us, but he refused to tell.
About the edge of this lake in the green grass there were thousands of young grouse. They were eating huckleberries and salmonberries, which grew abundantly. We gathered quantities of these fruit and indulged the luxury of berry pies. But the mosquitoes here were exceedingly severe. There had been ample source of complaint on this score at other waters we had visited, but here seemed to be their metropolis, and though we rubbed the horses with a "dope" we had bought at Ashland, they were driven nearly frantic. We broke camp and went on a deer hunt. It was not a region especially inviting to this kind of sport. It was a trackless wilderness of dark and broken lava as solid as cement under your feet, punctured here and there by gaunt pines which have squeezed their juvenile way through a crevice from the soil below and as they were nurtured into trees, burst with their broad bases the pavement which confined them. It is impossible to make a trail upon this substance, for it is hard and barren, but someone traveling before us had blazed the trees on the route to Fish Lake, and we were able to keep our course, though, owing to the intensely broken character of the way, an entire day was consumed in covering the distance of seven miles.
It is dangerous territory to hunt over, too, this lava region, for when you get away from the lakes there is no water anywhere in sight. The creeks are all dry; the rains all percolate through the porous substance and are lost below. Put your ear to the ground and you may hear water running in a rapid stream beneath your feet, but it is covered by a crust as hard as flint and so thick it would be folly to attempt to pick through it. Unless you have your landmarks well fixed to locate the lakes, and your canteens large and full, you had better stay out of it.
Hunting for deer in this part of the country is pursued in a peculiar way. It is useless to move over the ground after them. You must let the deer do that while you keep still. Go to the top of some high rock, conceal yourself amongst the thick buck brush, and keep still. The silence of the vast and blighted area is so intense that you may hear even the cracking of a twig, I should say two hundred yards away. Maintain silence, and if game is moving, you will be able to locate it; then you have only to watch your chance for a shot. If you have well-trained dogs, they will get to the far side of it and move it toward you. Following these tactics, Mr. Beck and Doctor Patterson both killed bucks.
Bear are plentiful in this district, and it would seem that they would be inimical to deer, but they are not. A bear would rather have vegetable than animal food. He has a sweet tooth and likes berries and the honey of wild bees. Sometimes he will go down to the lake and catch fish, but his especial provender is mast, and in autumn, when this begins to fall from the scrub oak trees, bruin begins to fatten. In this season they were poor and thin. Mr. Beck, strolling upward along a rise, jumped a brown bear who had been lying down, doubtless in a doze. He scurried up the rise, leaping forward in long leaps, his tail to Mr. Beck. He had not gone far when he shook up a buck, which started in a lively scamper toward the summit. Beck drew a bead on the bear, which went "catch-r-r" as the bullet took him, but he doubled the rise, dashed down on the other side and disappeared, the buck already having hid among the pines.
The party next moved past Mount Pitt, that dried and dead old cone, from whose summit, ten thousand feet in the white air, rolled out most of the lava which now spreads over these plains. We stopped at Butte Creek to catch seventy-five steelhead trout in two hours, being this time more fortunate in our choice of bait than before. Then we went up Seven Mile Creek to Crater Lake, a body of water at the top of a rise which lies in the basin of an old crater. The flies and mosquitoes here were unendurable, so we returned to Fort Klamath, where we caught quantities of Dolly Varden trout and shot Douglass squirrel and mallard duck, seeing many spotted fawn on the way, which, however, we did not shoot.
It was at Fort Klamath that it might be said the first part of our expedition ceased. The big game had not been what we had expected, though we had seen three elk, and the small fry was abundant enough. From this point we went straight to Medford on the railroad, where we had an appointment to meet a party headed by Aleck Ireland and Mr. Tolman, two hunters of the old school, who had been upon the line between Washington and Idaho hunting elk, but had seen nothing but caribou. They had come back to take us into a country where a party had taken out six hundred deer from January to July, carrying off only the hides, leaving the carcasses to rot where they had fallen, in the old-time buffalo style.
We had already been out a month, but we were glad to go to such a place, so, adding the new outfit to our own, with their four horses and eight bear dogs, we started west across the railroad, bound along the Illinois River, ninety miles to Game Lake, a little splotch of water lying twenty-five miles from the ocean.
This region was hilly, thick with pines, here and there a clearing covered with berry bushes heavy with their clusters of ripe fruit. Fairly into the country Tolman and Ireland started to find elk. They could see signs of none, so they turned their attention to deer, with the result that they killed fifteen the first day. The next day Doctor Patterson, an excellent shot and old-time hunter, his brother, and Messrs. Tolman and Beck, killed nineteen does and bucks. The deer were in exceedingly fine condition, fat and plump, brimming with spirit, which threw plenty of excitement into the sport.
All hands rested a day in camp, then started in for another breezy hunt. At dusk of that day we had seventeen new deer. The party divided up into three companies; that of Mr. Beck went down along a backbone of hills into a fine country. As the photographer moved along, three fat bucks jumped at intervals ahead of his horses. Two does appeared later. Mr. Beck had five when camp was pitched that afternoon, and Mr. Tolman and Doctor Patterson had eleven, sixteen in all, to be strung up at night by the fetlocks and have their pictures taken early next morning.
On the following day the company started back to the main camp; the horses, heavily laden with deer, pulled up at dusk in the grove amongst the grand old pines where was fixed the rendezvous for the main body of the company. The party had stopped on the way to cut down a honey tree; it was an old hollow pine which the wild bees had stored nearly full of honey. The saddlebags were filled with this, about one hundred and fifty pounds being secured, and about two gallons of beautiful strained honey going to waste in getting it out. We covered our heads with mosquito netting and were thus able to get at the sweets regardless of the insects. It was amusing to observe Herman Fick, one of the old party and a long-time mountaineer, in his work of getting this honey out of the trunk. Regardless of the presence of bees, he simply reached his long arm up the hollow and pulled out the honey by handfuls. When a bee stung his hand he would pull it out, withdraw the stinger, fling it away, and turn again to work as if nothing had occurred.
The old hunters had pursued the killing of game so long that their sense of sport in such activities had been dulled, and they did not hunt much, but stayed mostly in camp, attending to things there. They skinned the deer, spread the hides to the sun, stripped the venison and dried it. This latter was done by laying the meat upon a wire netting suspended between two stumps and building a fire under it. In this manner we dried four hundred pounds of meat, which we carried back with us to Ashland. As a result of our hunt we had also one hundred deer skins, that being the killing of the entire party, besides four bear skins, skulls and horns.
We lived in this camp, consuming bear steaks, venison, grouse, and fish from the lake, for a month, until the cooling of the air and occasional rains told us the season was drawing to a close and we had better get out. So we set a day for a final grand hunt. This was a failure, however, for rain set in, catching our party of three detached from the main party, and we nearly died. For thirty-six hours we were huddled together under little breadths of canvas strung beneath a great pine, our bedding wet, ourselves wet to the skin and miserable. When it lighted up sufficiently to get back to the main camp, we needed no second invitation to quit the country. On our way back Doctor Patterson killed a deer browsing in a clearing among one hundred and fifty acres of huckleberry bushes.
We reached the railroad station of Ashland without serious mishap, though some of the passes were dangerous paths. A horse slid down the side of one and went rolling over the rocks for forty feet below. Happily he was loaded with skins, which defended him from the sharp rocks, and with much difficulty he was got out uninjured. Further on Ireland showed us where he had lost a pack mule. The animal had a habit of wandering out of the trail, and when he did his dog would snap at his heels and move him back into it again, the mule picking up his gait as he did so. It happened that this occurred just before they reached a V in the trail which lapped around a projection of the mountain. A sharp turn is necessary at the apex of the V and this the mule, owing to the inertia of his gait, was unable to make [it]. He tried to brace himself when he saw the edge of the precipice and the hundred and fifty feet of perpendicular rock which it overhung, but it was impossible to stop, and over he went and down the chasm he crashed, the most mashed-up mass of mule the human eye ever looked upon.
After three months of hunting we pulled into Ashland. There we sold our meat for twenty cents per pound, realizing a sum which well paid the professionals for their attendance upon us, while the hides brought a dollar each. The horns could find no market, so we abandoned these, while, with a few mementos of the season's sport, we took leave of our mountain friends and boarded the train for California.
Overland Monthly, August 1897, pages 146-152
The Mail is in receipt of a communication from John B. Griffin bearing upon the wholesale slaughter of deer in Southern Oregon and the need of more rigid legislation. The communication will appear in these columns next week.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 18, 1898, page 7
Griffin in Defense of Deer.
Woodville, Or., Nov. 14, '98.
Editor Mail:--As it will soon be time for the legislature to meet again, I would like to call attention to the wholesale slaughter of deer in this and adjacent counties. It is only putting it mildly to state that there are hundreds of deer being killed at all times of the year by people who are too lazy to work. Let a man take a pack horse and go up to the head of Elk Creek; then along the Umpqua Divide to the head of Evans Creek and Cow Creek; down Cow Creek to the west fork, and from there to Cold Springs Camp and Bear Camp, and see what he will find. You will see camp after camp of men who are killing deer for the hides, hams and horns.
Last summer while I was at Cold Springs Camp, on the west fork of Cow Creek, I saw a party of nine men at one camp, seven of them being employed by two former deer skinners, who claimed they were saving the meat. I did not see them skinning the deer, but I did see numbers of carcasses lying near the camp, with only the hides taken off, besides any amount of forequarters thrown to one side to rot, and there was such a stench you could hardly go near the camp. These are the kind of men you ofttimes buy your venison of.
In my opinion, what we need is a law to prohibit the sale of venison entirely for a term of years, and let these fellows find some other plan by which to gain a livelihood. We need a warden in every county to see that the law is enforced, and we want a man appointed to this office who is not afraid to take his pack horses and go out among these fellows and see that they live up to the law. We want our legislators to use their influence to pass a law to that effect. Every man who takes an interest in the welfare of the game in this country should speak out without fear and stir up this question so that something will be done, or it will not be long until a law will not be needed.
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.Medford Mail, November 25, 1898, page 4
J. B. Griffin was in from his Woodville home yesterday, having brought up Mrs. Schermerhorn and Miss Alta Naylor, sisters of Mrs. Griffin, who have been spending a few weeks rusticating in the mountains.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, September 15, 1899, page 6
J. B. Griffin came up from Woodville on his wheel Wednesday. He was here on a little mining deal--and if he makes the deal he'll have gold twenties to throw at the birds.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 28, 1900, page 6
John B. Griffin of Woodville and B. W. Griffin, who arrived from Spokane some months ago, are prospecting in Del Norte County, Calif.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 16, 1901, page 5
In a recent interview with J. B. Griffin, of Josephine County, we learned that he and his brother Richard, a former resident and miner of Idaho, are now mining on the headwaters of the north fork of Smith River, forty miles west of Grants Pass. He says they have a good placer proposition. They are now engaged in digging a ditch to get water onto it.
"Forest Creek News," Medford Mail, July 12, 1901, page 5
John Griffin and family expect to move to Waldo soon, where Mr. Griffin will engage in mining business.
"Woodville Items," Medford Mail, November 1, 1901, page 5
Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Griffin, of Woodville, are visiting Medford friends. Mr. Griffin devotes most of his time to placer mining near Waldo, but right now he is taking a few weeks' layoff.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, March 28, 1902, page 6
John Griffin, of Woodville, was in Medford Monday.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, August 8, 1902, page 6
Cinnabar Mine and Other Property.
J. H. Ray, the well-known mining man, of this city, left Wednesday, accompanied by H. W. Jackson, for Beaver Creek, where they go to locate a cinnabar mine, which they have prospected and have found to be quite rich. Mr. Ray is the pioneer in the quicksilver mines in this section, having opened up several very fine mining properties, and he thinks this new ledge is quite as rich as any that he has heretofore worked. Tuesday Mr. Ray had with him one of his partners, John Griffin, who had come up from Smith River to consult with Mr. Ray in regard to a new mine that they have just opened on that stream. This mine promised to be a very rich placer mine, and they brought water to it to work it as such, but when the surface dirt was piped off a dike 400 feet in width was laid bare that was very rich in gold. The dike is a very friable porphyry, interspersed with but small pieces of quartz, which enables the rock to be readily worked with a Huntington roller. It is the intention of Mr. Ray's company to install a roller and begin the work of taking out the gold.
Medford Mail, July 18, 1902, page 3
LARGE COUGAR KILLED NEAR HOLLAND
Old Timer Run Down and Killed by Hunters of Sucker Creek.
An old cougar that has been ranging for years near the head of Bear Creek and Kelly Creek, which empty into Sucker Creek near Holland, was killed last Wednesday by Tom Tycer, Ed Tycer and Job White, after a hard chase and a ferocious fight in which the old fellow tried hard to hold his own, but had to give in to big odds and Winchester rifles in the hands of No. 1 shots. The boys struck his trail early in the morning, but unfortunately one of their best dogs had run off after a deer, and as they only had a small shepherd left they decided to follow the track until the other dog came back. He led them a merry chase over hills, across gulches, over fallen logs, through brush, backtracked and tried all kinds of schemes to throw them off, but to no avail, there being snow on the ground.
Finally they concluded to turn the shepherd loose, and as good luck would have it about this time the other dog returned to them and took up the trail and soon put him up a tree. Tom Tycer shot first, putting a bullet into his shoulder, but it failed to do the work, and there was something doing there in double-quick time, as he was out of that tree quicker than you could say scat, and the fight was on. He made straight for the boys, who stood their ground and commenced to string lead, as one of them said, but not until the seventh shot did the old fellow give in and then from a bullet in the brain.
This is undoubtedly one of the largest cougars that has ever been killed in this country, weighing, dressed, 175 pounds. No doubt there will be some people who can tell of larger ones, but I have killed a great many myself, as can be attested to by numbers of persons in Ashland and Medford, and I can say positively this is the largest one I ever saw. The boys are highly elated over it and deserve the thanks of the whole community.
Several of these pests have been seen in this locality lately, and there should be a reward offered by the state for the scalps.
Yours respectfully,Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, February 1, 1907, page 1
JOHN B. GRIFFIN.
John B. Griffin, of Holland, Josephine County, is greeting old tillicums in Ashland. It is his first visit here for half a dozen years, and the place has grown out of his knowledge until he can scarcely get his bearings. Years ago John and his dog "Trailer" were the terrors of bear in this region. He resided on a ranch in the Dead Indian country east of Ashland, whence he went on such frequent successful quests for bruin that his reputation as a bear hunter spread far and wide. He is now engaged in more peaceful and profitable occupations of farming and dairying and has abandoned bear hunting altogether.--Jacksonville Post.
Medford Mail, February 14, 1908, page 2
J. B. Griffin, of Josephine County, is visiting old-time friends in Medford. Mr. Griffin is a pioneer of Jackson County and was considered one of the best bear hunters in southern Oregon.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1911, page 2
Who Was the First White Child Born in Jackson County?On October twenty-first the Record culled from the Grants Pass Courier a story regarding the death of Martin Angel which stated that he was the first male white child born in Jackson County. Since then we have been "hauled over the coals" by a number of pioneers who know better. We thought at the time that a man fifty-four years old could hardly be the first white child born in Jackson County, but presumed the Grants Pass Courier and the Medford Mail Tribune, which copied the story, knew what they were talking about.
(From the Ashland Record.)
The first remonstrance came from Captain C. C. Gall, of Ashland, who said there were getting to be so many first-born white males in Jackson County that he was unable to keep count of them. He stated the fact that his nephew, John Harden--whose father was killed by the Indians in 1853--was born in April 1854 and even he was therefore born two years before Martin Angel. He said there were numerous others that he knew of who were born prior to 1856--the year in which Martin Angel was born.
The next man who tackled us on the subject was Gwynn Butler, who disputed the matter from actual experience--due to the fact that he was born in Jackson County himself and is five years older than Martin Angel was at the time of his death. Mr. Butler was, to the best of his information, the first-born white male in Jackson County, and that Jim Birdsey was born at about the same time. Both of these, he stated, were dead. He cited the fact that he and Walter Gore of Medford--both of whom are still very much alive--are both several years older than Martin Angel. The third pioneer to take up the innocent little news story which we swiped from the papers down the valley was John B. Griffin of Kirby--whose bear stories in the Ashland Record a couple of years ago were so entertaining. Mr. Griffin's letter on the subject is given below:
"I just read in the Record the account of the death of Martin Angel, a pioneer of Jackson County, in which the statement is made that he was the first male white child born in Jackson County. Now, with all due respect to the dead, I want to say that if anyone will stop to think for one second they will see that the statement is not correct.
"Jackson County was settled by both men and women and many families as early as 1852. Does it look reasonable that there wouldn't have been a boy born in three or four years? Certainly not. And how it came about that this claim was made for Martin Angel is a mystery. It certainly was not made by him, as it was only a short time ago that a friend of mine, who was well acquainted with him and talked with him often, told me that Martin Angel told him that John Griffin was the first white boy born in Jackson County and asked me if that was correct. It told him it was not, and that there were two born before I was. They were Bruce Evans, whose father settled on Rogue River in 1852, and James McCully, whose father was a physician living in Jacksonville.
"As for myself, I was born in Jacksonville on the 14th day of September, 1853, being now a little over sixty-one years young. My father and mother settled in the Rogue River Valley in 1852, being the seventh family to arrive in the valley. My mother knew, and I have heard her say time and again, that Bruce Evans was the first, Jim McCully the second and I the third boy born in the Rogue River Valley, and if I am not badly mistaken Molly Ross, daughter of Col. John E. Ross, was the first girl.
"Two or three years ago I read an account of the pioneer reunion in Ashland in which was stated that Gwynn Butler was the first white child born in the county. Now, while I am about it, I may just as well say that is not correct either.
"I am writing this to put the matter straight before the people and not for any notoriety for myself. Such a claim, if not true, would have a tendency to lower a person in the estimation of the people--and I am perfectly satisfied that Martin Angel never made such a claim himself, and it is very plain that he was mistaken if he did so."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 14, 1914, page 4
FOR SALE--There is 160 acres of land in Illinois Valley in my hands for sale, good house and outbuildings, several acres of good agricultural land under cultivation, fruit trees, 800,000 feet of sugar pine, fir and yellow pine cruised by county, thousands of cords of wood. $1,600 cash, or $600 cash, balance long time 6 percent. Belongs to non-resident and is anxious to sell, getting old and unable to handle it. John B. Griffin.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, April 19, 1916, page 4
John B. Griffin with his son-in-law, Mr. Bailey, and Mr. Bailey's wife and two children are camped in the park on their return from Klamath County. Mr. Griffin lives in the vicinity of Waldo and is the man who wrote a mighty good hunting story which is printed in the Tidings for last Thursday and today under the heading "Early Hunting on Mt. Pitt."
"Local and Personal," Ashland Tidings, September 11, 1916, page 5
Fine Job of Tanning--
John B. Griffin, of Kerby, has shown his skill in the tanning of a deer hide which has been on the Griffin place for several years. The skin, which is as soft and pliable as any buckskin glove, is at the Sabin drug store.
"Personal and Local," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, November 1, 1917, page 4
SOUTHERN OREGON IS HUNTER'S PARADISE
In the June number of Forest and Stream appears the following letter from E. V. Carter of this city, who expresses his love for the great outdoors, and especially that part comprised in Southern Oregon with which Mr. Carter is familiar and where he spends a portion of every summer:
"My attention has been called to your January issue which contains an article by John B. Griffin [see above] describing a bear hunt in Southern Oregon in early days. There are thousands of people here in Southern Oregon and Northern California who can vouch for the truth of Mr. Griffin's stories and testify to the fact that his famous dog 'Trailer' possessed almost human intelligence.
"'Trailer' has long ago gone to his reward, but his really wonderful achievements will be remembered for years to come.
"After an interval of some years I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Griffin again last fall. Why he is occasionally referred to as 'Old John Griffin' I cannot understand, for he is still clear of eye and physically fit and apparently good for many years to come. My summer home is on the shore of the Lake of the Woods referred to in Mr. Griffin's article.
"The huckleberries are still plentiful there and many bears and deer are killed there every season, though, of course, they are not so plentiful as in the hunting days of John Griffin which he writes of. For those who enjoy the outdoor life--there is something wrong with the man who does not--the mountains, lakes and streams of Southern Oregon offer ideal opportunities.
"The scenery is unsurpassed anywhere. We have the purest of water, large game and game birds, fish and luscious mountain huckleberries and an absence of snakes and insect pests. Where can one go to beat this combination? All this within a four or five hours' automobile ride. In the days of which John Griffin so graphically writes he used to pack horses to reach the hunting grounds now accessible to the automobile. Within the next few years will we make our pilgrimage to these same hunting grounds via the airplane? Who knows, for the world does move.
"E. V. CARTER, Oregon."
Ashland Tidings, June 3, 1919, page 4
John B. Griffin, one of Southern Oregon's pioneers and the author of many fascinating hunting stories, was in Medford Monday from his home at Kirby, Josephine County. The Clarion, which has been favored with a number of Mr. Griffin's local stories, acknowledges a pleasant visit.
"Yourself and Others," Medford Clarion, November 9, 1923, page 7
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gooding of Shoshone, Idaho are visiting their relatives, Henry Griffin and family. Mrs. Gooding is a niece of John B. Griffin, who writes stories for The Clarion, and Mr. Gooding is a brother of U.S. Senator Frank Gooding of Idaho. They are on their way to Long Beach, California, to spend the winter.
"In the Local Domain," Medford Clarion, December 14, 1923, page 7
POEM IS WRITTEN IN HONOR OF WIDELY KNOWN PIONEER
At the recent reunion of Southern Oregon pioneers, John B. Griffin, pioneer resident of Kerby, read a poem which he had written in commemoration of the 93rd birthday anniversary of "Grandma" Lewis, who is 93 years old. The poem written by this widely known early settler aroused much interest among the trail blazers and their wives who attended.
His poem follows:
TO A PIONEER
Come, ring the bell for dinnerAshland Daily Tidings, October 22, 1926, page 10
And all rejoice with me.
For this is Grandma's birthday,
And she is ninety-three.
Seventy-three years ago, she came
To the land of the setting sun
And ever since that time
Has lived in good old Oregon.
Wonderful changes have taken place,
Since Grandma crossed the Plains;
Then they traveled with ox teams;
Now they come on trains.
They also travel through the air
And under the ground they walk;
They travel through the water
And eat and sleep and talk.
You can sit in the parlor at night
And sometimes through the day
And listen to people talking
Thousands of miles away.
If you go away from home
And don't get back till night,
And the house is dark as a dungeon,
Touch a button--and lo, you have light.
If you wish to talk to a friend,
Miles and miles away,
Just go to the 'phone and call him,
And say what you have to say.
They used to go on horseback
And sometimes had to walk,
When they went to church on Sunday
To hear the preacher talk.
But now they go in autos
And get there mighty quick;
Have plenty of time to powder the face
And make themselves look sleek.
Now, Grandma has seen all these changes;
And hundreds of others beside;
And has lived through wars and pestilence,
While millions of others have died.
So, gather around the hearthstone
And listen to her tell
Of things that happened long ago,
That she remembers well.
Perhaps she'll tell you about the time
The stars fell thick and fast;
And everyone for miles around
Thought their time had come at last.
She will tell about the spinning wheels
They used in days of yore,
To spin the yarn to make the socks
That everybody wore.
She will tell us how they baked the bread
In an oven by the fire,
And when it raised up to the lid,
It could not get any higher.
She'll tell about the husking bees,
When neighbors gathered in
And husked the corn for Billy Jones
And put it in the bin.
She'll tell us how the girls those days
Made their dresses nice and neat,
To button up around the neck
And reach down to their feet.
But now the girls are different,
They make their dresses thin,
To reach down only to their knees
And barely hide their skin.
Some of them have no dress at all,
But wear clothes like a man;
Perhaps they think it helps their looks,
But I don't see how it can.
They paint their lips as red as blood
And powder to beat the band,
Which makes them look just like a ghost
That is stalking o'er the land.
Now, Grandma don't approve of this;
She doesn't like their ways.
She would rather see them make their clothes
Like they did in the good old days.
But, alas, the good old days are gone,
They will never turn again.
No one will turn the spinning wheel;
No ox will cross the Plain.
No one will try to bake the bread
In an oven by the fire;
They'd rather buy it at the store,
If the cost is a little higher.
No one will help to husk the corn
For poor old Billy Jones;
He has to sit day after day
And husk it all alone.
No covered wagon is in sight,
As you drive your car to town;
They fell to pieces long ago
And the wheels have rotted down.
No more we'll hear the Indian yell,
Nor see a buffalo.
The white man butchered all of them
A long, long time ago.
So now we'll have to bid goodbye
To the good old days of yore;
The good old days we loved so well,
That we'll never see no more.
The pioneers are going fast;
Their race is nearly run,
But then their lives have been well spent;
Their work has been well done.
The last of them will soon be called
To cross the silent river,
And land upon another shore
To live in peace forever.
But hark, the dinner bell is ringing,
Let's go and eat with Gran--once more.
And pray we may all meet again
When Gran'ma is ninety-four.
Griffin, the second white boy born in the mining camp of Jacksonville, in 1852, never tires of telling of his former comrades and their hunting exploits. Griffin's bear stories have been in demand for years. Only the other day the ex-Oregonian came up from his present home in Trinidad, Cal., to visit the scenes of his youth.
"John Miller and Fred Barneburg once were hunting on Hyatt Prairie," said Griffin, talking to a group of friends. "They shot a big buck deer, which fell near a bluff. They walked to where the deer lay and, leaning on the muzzles of their guns, stood admiring the kill. John counted points on the horns and said to Fred, 'He's a seven-pointer.' Just then the deer leaped up, and before the hunters had time to think sprang over the bluff and disappeared, leaving the two nimrods cruelly disappointed. The deer's head had been only creased by the bullet."
James H. McCool, "Wild Life Lines," Oregonian, Portland, November 24, 1929, page 40 Griffin had told the same story, in almost exactly the same words, in January 1918, above.
One of Oregon's pioneer hunters returned to his native heath the other day when John B. Griffin, second white boy born in the mining camp of Jacksonville, Or., in 1852, revisited the Rogue River Valley. Griffin lives in Trinidad, Cal. now, but he gets back to his former stamping ground at intervals. He never tires of telling stories and anecdotes of the days when settlers had to hunt game in order to keep the family larder going.
One of Griffin's hunting comrades in their youth was Fred Barneburg of Jacksonville.
"Fred and I were out in the Dead Indian country rounding up several stray grizzlies," said Griffin--"It was when we were mere boys. As usual, we had a 'greenhorn' along with us.
"The prospect of hunting bear, cougar and deer in the tall timber nearly overcame him. As we lay around the camp the first night he asked questions galore. Some of the questions were good, one in particular. I have long remembered it.
"'Fred,' he asked, 'suppose I see a bear; where shall I aim at him, and what shall I do if he charges me?'
"Fred, record-holder as a slayer of more than 100 bears that year, in his slow way answered: 'The place to hit a bear is any place yuh can. He'll be leavin' Dead Indian when you see him, goin' to Klamath, an' there won't be much time to pick out fatal spots. Hit him an' slow him down. Then do the fancy shootin'.'
"'As for a bear charging yuh in these woods, yuh needn't worry none, boy. I reckon I've killed a few bear, an' only two of 'em ever charged me. Sometimes a feller will cripple a bear on a mountainside an' the darn thing will come rollin' down the slope. But he ain't chargin' none. Keep away from a shot bear an' yuh'll never be harmed.'
"Now the greenhorn had the right idea. There are certain spots on game animals well worth knowing when one lines up one's sights. I question whether one hunter in 20 knows where these places are, and whether he will remember to hold on these spots when he does get a shot.
"The next day the greenhorn shot his rifle dry and swore the buck he was shooting at had horns all over him. The 'buck' in question was really nothing more than a calf which had strayed away from its mother.
"Under conditions as they prevailed in the Dead Indian region, Fred's bear-shooting theory was correct. When we got a shot at bruin there, he was in full retreat. Few hunters can place a fatal shot in a retreating bear. Neck shots are good at close range. Don't shoot at a bear's head. His skull is hard, slopes back, and his brain is small. Head shots call for great skill to place the bullet in the brain."
James H. McCool, "Wild Life Lines," Oregonian, Portland, June 16, 1930, page 8
Discussion of the technique in hunting bears has roused interest in this column of late, said discussion being conducted by John B. Griffin, veteran nimrod of Jackson County. Mr. Griffin now turns his attention to the hunting of mountain lions: "Mountain lion shooting," he says, "is different from bear hunting. We tree our lions with dogs, and can almost measure off our shots with calipers, if necessary. In shooting a treed lion we seldom use the heart shot.
"The reason is obvious. Unless we drop the prey stone-dead it will leave the tree and fall amongst the dogs, wounded and full of fight to the end.
"Trained lion dogs are too scarce and valuable to warrant risking them in a fight with a mountain lion. There is little satisfaction in killing a cougar if you lose a good dog in taking the animal. Let a dog engage in a death struggle with a cougar and the dog is sure to be disemboweled, or to have his legs torn off. A heart shot at a cougar is too uncertain. If you miss the vital spot, look out! It is usually a good plan to tie the dogs before shooting a cougar out of a tree.
"The best spot to hold on a treed lion is the neck. One will either kill instantly or miss the mark entirely. The distance at which the shot is taken is short and the neck relatively large, furnishing a good-sized target. A neck shot paralyzes the cougar, and he hits the ground completely out of commission.
"Do not get the idea that I consider these big cats dangerous. They are rank cowards and will run from man and dogs as long as their wind lasts. They are short-winded and tree very quickly after the hounds have struck their trail. The only danger is in bad shooting. The dogs, unless tied up, will be on the cougar the instant he hits the ground."
James H. McCool, "Wild Life Lines," Oregonian, Portland, July 13, 1930, page 36
Our Rogue River Valley correspondent sends another batch of the hunting technique treatises of John B. Griffin, veteran big game nimrod of pioneer days in southern Oregon. This time Griffin devotes his chief attention to deer shooting. "Many hunters, even seasoned shooters, imagine a deer carries its heart between the shoulder blades, just beneath the backbone.
"Draw a picture of a deer and have some hunters indicate the location of the heart. I will wager that nine out of ten will point out a spot higher than the actual location of the vital organ. With modern high-powered guns, almost any shot through the chest cavity will down a deer. But in shooting larger animals, as elk, a hunter might just as well save himself considerable embarrassment by placing the bullet in the right spot. By the way, we didn't have high-powered rifles in the old days.
"The best shot I ever saw on deer and small game was 'Gunsmith' [John] Miller of Jacksonville. He followed a practice which never failed him. He always lined up his sights on the front leg of his target. Keeping this line, he held heart high with his bead, and let go. His shot would be a little forward of dead center, but he always got the game. If he shot low he would usually get a leg, or both legs.
"I remember once seeing him almost shoot both legs off a timber wolf just beneath the body line. Naturally the wolf did not travel far after that shot. If the shot were higher it would crush up the shoulders and drop the victim, or if still higher would hit the backbone, another vital spot.
"Most sportsmen hit too high in shooting big game. In their haste they fail to draw a fine bead, or they have an erroneous idea of where they want to hit. Deer and big game are ordinarily killed at a much shorter range than most hunters suppose. A rifle sighted at 300 yards will shoot much higher when fired under that distance. I have always urged the tenderfoots to hold at the bottom of the body in deer hunting, especially if the deer is running."
James H. McCool, "Wild Life Lines," Oregonian, Portland, July 18, 1930, page 8
Once upon a time, as they say in the story books, the grizzly bear was a familiar sight in southern Oregon, but this most interesting member of the bear family is now extinct in that region. John B. Griffin, pioneer big game hunter of Oregon, who has made a study of bears, hopes the government or some other agency will take steps to rehabilitate the grizzly and transfer some of the big animals from haunts where they still are to be found in Crater National Forest.
Continuing his interesting discussion of bears in general and the grizzly in particular, the old-timer says:
"While the grizzly is a mean, surly, uncompanionable animal in his native wilds, far back from the haunts of man, and is apparently embittered with the world, he has become reconciled, to a large extent, in the national parks to the sights, noises and smells of civilization. The grizzly, as in the case of other wild animals, is no longer afraid of automobiles, and will be noted occasionally mingling with his hated cousins, the brown and black bears, at their feeding dumps in such parks as Yellowstone.
"Men who know the grizzly in his untamed state call him the most intelligent of all wild animals and the peer of any in courage and prowess. To permit the extermination of the grizzly would be just another tragedy; yet he is doomed, unless his perpetuation is given immediate attention.
"Only man is superior to the grizzly in cunning, and often the big bear is more than a match in wits for man. The tales of this bear's sagacity in pioneer times are legion.
"In digging for a burrowing animal a grizzly will pile stones on the edge of the hole as carefully as would a mason, lest they fall back. When pursued by a hunter the grizzly will cover its tracks. It will circle back on its trail and lie hidden to watch the hunter pass by. And maybe after the nimrod has passed bruin will come out from his covert and follow the man, not apparently with any intention of harming him, but merely to see what he is up to.
"The grizzly is the 'rubberneck' of the animal kingdom and is keenly interested in what is going on. At the sight of any new thing in his bailiwick he will stand and look, and look, much as a man does.
"A grizzly scheming to capture meat for a meal will turn somersaults and go through other antics to lure a curious deer or other victim within reach. Grizzlies are expert anglers and make many a meal off mountain trout.
"I have seen grizzlies swimming the lakes of southern Oregon with cubs on their backs. They enjoy winter sports, coasting down hills, then climbing up to slide down the snow-covered decline again, and seemingly enjoying the process immensely.
"Though fond of the home range, they frequently go a-visiting some strange country. Each grizzly has its own domain, where it is master, and the black and brown bears dare not invade the territory.
"The grizzly's menu includes the small animals, vegetables and berries of its area, and it is a scavenger at times. At other times it becomes a killer of domestic stock.
"Will a grizzly attack a human being without provocation? I will say yes. I believe firmly, both from personal experience and from that of old-time hunting comrades, that the grizzly will at times attack without warning and entirely without evident cause. As to provocation, however, many times there is some real cause. In many cases, during pioneer days, the attack was made by a mother bear whose cubs were nearby. At other times the grizzly might have been suffering from old gunshot wounds or been disturbed at a recent kill.
"Nearly all the larger carnivorous animals, when suddenly surprised at close quarters by a hunter, will put on a bold front. I have seen even a cowardly coyote, unexpectedly confronted, curve a bristled back, show a snarling jaw and stand ready to give battle before making a break for freedom.
"If you surprise a grizzly and the bear thinks he has to fight, the quicker you can pump a stream of lead from a high-powered gun into his brain, the better chance you will have to live.
"A charging grizzly bear calls for a shot at the center of the breast, or the sticking place. Neck shots are good at close range, but the vital area is small for any but an expert rifleman to try hitting at a distance.
"Never shoot at a grizzly bear's head. His skull slopes back, and his brain is small. A head shot requires the utmost skill. However, I have seen a huge grizzly killed by a trapper with a .22 pistol, but the bear was helpless in a trap.
"Pioneer hunters of the .44-caliber days had varied experiences in southern Oregon with charging bears. Their rifles were small and too light for such shooting. Big bears were common then, and occasionally they had a rabid one to deal with. The low velocity of the .44 did not have sufficient knockdown force to stop a mad rush at close-in range, even if held on the vital spot in the breast. And to hold the sight on the sloping forehead was like shooting a glancing shot at a huge boulder of country rock."
James H. McCool, "Wild Life Lines," Oregonian, Portland, August 15, 1930, page 8
Old Jacksonville Citizens Speedily Avenged
When Indians Practiced Murder
"Recently received a letter from John B. Griffin, city marshal of Trinidad, Cal.," says Fred Lockley in the Portland Journal. "He was born at Jacksonville, Ore., in 1853 and was one of the family of 11 children of Burrel B. Griffin of Kentucky, who with his family--at that time consisting of a wife and eight children--crossed the plains to Oregon in 1848. In 1853, not long after Burrel B. Griffin had moved from the forks of the Santiam in Linn County to a donation land claim four miles southeast of Jacksonville, he was elected country commissioner of Jackson County.
"The other two commissioners were Martin Angel and John Gibbs. The total vote of Jackson County at that time was 1191. This large vote was accounted for by the fact that Jacksonville was almost at the height of its fame as the metropolis of southwestern Oregon. Millions of dollars were being taken from the gulches in and about Jacksonville, and that city as a consequence was booming. At this same election of 1853, C. S. Drew was elected county auditor, William Galley sheriff and Dr. E. H. Cleveland county treasurer.
"Less than two months after the election--or, to be exact, on August 4, 1853--Richard Edwards, who lived five miles from Jacksonville, was killed by Indians. The next day a public meeting was held at the Robinson hotel in Jacksonville and a company of volunteers was formed to punish the Indians. On the day following the killing of Edwards, Burrel B. Griffin and a man named Davis were both attacked by the Indians, Mr. Griffin having shot through the shoulder with an arrow and Mr. Davis in the thigh.
"That same night Thomas J. Wells, a Jacksonville merchant, was shot and killed. The following day Rhodes Nolan was killed as he entered his cabin on Jackson Creek. The citizens in scouting around the outskirts of Jacksonville found an Indian chief, and he was at once hung from the limb of an oak tree. During the day three other Indians were captured and hung. The citizens were very much excited and didn't take time to find out if the Indians captured were guilty. They were guilty of being Indians, and that was enough.
"Within a few days, six companies of volunteers were raised, commanded by J. K. Lamerick, John F. Miller, R. L. Williams, E. A. Owens and W. W. Fowler.
"S. Ettinger, I. B. Nichols and James Clugage started for Salem and reached the home of General Joseph Lane at 1 o'clock in the morning of August 17, and told him that the Indians were on the warpath. General Lane had just been elected to Congress and was preparing to leave for Washington, but instead he started for the Rogue River Valley, gathering volunteers as he went southward. Meanwhile, Lieutenant B. B. Griffin of Company A and Captain J. F. Miller, with 25 men, had some time prior to this time attacked Chief Elijah, who with his people was camped on Sterling Creek.
"The next day they met the Indians under Chief John and in the ensuing skirmish Francis Garnett was killed and Lieutenant B. B. Griffin was shot through the leg. Two of Lieutenant Griffin's sons, William and Joseph, had volunteered for service against the Indians and took part in a number of skirmishes, serving until the hostilities were over.
"A brother of John B. Griffin, Burrel W. Griffin [sons of Burrel B.], who was born in Missouri in 1840 and who was eight years old when he came across the plains with his parents to the Willamette Valley, will be remembered by all old-time residents of Pendleton and other pioneer residents of the Inland Empire. Burrel W. Griffin received most of his education from Orange Jacobs, at one time teacher and lawyer of Jacksonville, but later chief justice of Washington Territory.
"In 1862, when he was 22 years old, Burrel W. Griffin decided to try his luck as a prospector, so he went up to Eastern Oregon and was a member of the party that discovered rich pay dirt on Granite Creek in the John Day River district."
Medford Mail Tribune, December 16, 1930, page 8
GRIFFIN, PIONEER, PROBABLY FIRST FOR AGE PENSION
John B. Griffin, the second white child born in Jackson County, and a widely known Southern Oregon pioneer, will probably be the recipient of the first old age pension certificate issued in this county, Ingrid Holmes, secretary of the county court, said today.
No certificate for pensions will be issued until the work is completed, and will be mailed to those whose requests have been approved. This will be in a week or 10 days.
County Judge Earl B. Day said this morning that the county court, acting as a pension board, would hold daily sessions on pensions until finished. He estimated there would be 250 pensions approved. The number is less than expected. Owing to the straitened financial condition of the county, the monthly allowances will be limited, members of the court said.
"We have checked over all the applicants, and find all those approved to be worthy and coming under the provisions of the pension law," County Judge Day said. "We are doing the best we can by them, under the circumstances." None of the pensions will be for the maximum allowance of $30 per month.
Practically all of the approved pensioners are longtime residents of the county and the state.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 13, 1934, page 3
Medford Couple Married in 1878
MEDFORD, May 6 (Special)--Mr. and Mrs. John B. Griffin of Medford celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary Sunday.
Mr. Griffin is the oldest living native son in Jackson County, having been born in Jacksonville in 1853. Mrs. Griffin is also a native of Jackson County.
Oregonian, Portland, May 7, 1935, page 14
JOHN B. GRIFFIN, COUNTY PIONEER, MARKS BIRTHDAY
Mrs. W. C. Bailey of Merrill, Ore., accompanied by her husband and daughter, arrived in Medford yesterday to celebrate the 83rd birthday anniversary of her father, John B. Griffin.
John Griffin is the oldest native son of Jackson County; in fact was the third white child to be born here and is the only living member of the 80 original or charter members of the Jackson County Pioneer Society.
This society exists with increasing activity and interest to keep alive the early-day history of the men and women comprising an intelligent and revered class whose experiences in settling and civilizing this region were most extraordinary and whose hardihood and privations made possible the development of the beautiful valley that now greets the eye of the visitor.
The society meets annually for the purpose of adding new or heretofore unrelated historical events, a discussion of historical matters pertaining to this section and to make it an occasion for a social intercourse in which speeches are made, narratives told and the contingent business of the association transacted. It is to be commended that such an organization exists having for its purpose the preservation of these historical events, the details of which are far beyond the comprehension of the present-day generation.
The next meeting of the society will be held in the historic old town of Jacksonville on September 24. President Frank Van Dyke will preside and Evan Reames will be the orator of the day.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1936, page 8
Four Generations Gather to Honor Griffin Birthday
The home of John B. Griffin on South Ivy Street was yesterday the scene of a pleasant party in honor of Mr. Griffin, who played the leading role in the celebration of his 83rd birthday.
The party was somewhat in the nature of a surprise, arranged by Mr. Griffin's daughter, Mrs. W. C. Bailey, who arrived from Merrill, Ore. the day before and who acted as hostess. With Mrs. Bailey were her daughter, Margaret, her son, Don, and his wife and their son, making it a four-generation party.
Others attending the party were a sister-in-law, Miss Alta Naylor, George Berton, Gordon Schermerhorn, L. R. Shurtleff and Nick Young.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 15, 1936, page 9
Last revised December 6, 2017