Beautiful Joe
Chapter 23, Page 3


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


"Lots of them. More than we wanted. They used to bother us fearfully about our sheep and cattle. I've often had to get up in the night, and run out to the cattle. The bears would come out of the woods, and jump on to the young heifers and cows, and strike them and beat them down and the cattle would roar as if the evil one had them. If the cattle were too far away from the house for us to hear them, the bears would worry them till they were dead.

"As for the sheep, they never made any resistance. They'd meekly run in a corner when they saw a bear coming, and huddle together, and he'd strike at them, and scratch them with his claws, and perhaps wound a dozen before he got one firmly. Then he'd seize it in his paws, and walk off on his hind legs over fences and anything else that came in his way, till he came to a nice, retired spot, and there he' d sit down and skin that sheep just like a butcher. He'd gorge himself with the meat, and in the morning we'd find the other sheep that he'd torn, and we'd vow vengeance against that bear. He'd be almost sure to come back for more, so for a while after that we always put the sheep in the barn at nights and set a trap by the remains of the one he had eaten.

"Everybody hated bears, and hadn't much pity for them; still they were only getting their meat as other wild animals do, and we'd no right to set such cruel traps for them as the steel ones. They had a clog attached to them, and had long, sharp teeth. We put them on the ground and strewed leaves over them, and hung up some of the carcass left by the bear near by. When he attempted to get this meat, he would tread on the trap, and the teeth would spring together, and catch him by the leg. They always fought to get free. I once saw a bear that had been making a desperate effort to get away. His leg was broken, the skin and flesh were all torn away, and he was held by the tendons. It was a foreleg that was caught, and he would put his hind feet against the jaws of the trap, and then draw by pressing with his feet, till he would stretch those tendons to their utmost extent.

"I have known them to work away till they really pulled these tendons out of the foot, and got off. It was a great event in our neighborhood when a bear was caught. Whoever caught him blew a horn, and the men and boys came trooping together to see the sight. I've known them to blow that horn on a Sunday morning, and I've seen the men turn their backs on the meeting house to go and see the bear."

"Was there no more merciful way of catching them than by this trap?" asked Miss Laura.

"Oh, yes, by the deadfall — that is by driving heavy sticks into the ground, and making a box-like place, open on one side, where two logs were so arranged with other heavy logs upon them, that when the bear seized the bait, the upper log fell down and crushed him to death. Another way was to fix a bait in a certain place, with cords tied to it, which cords were fastened to triggers of guns placed at a little distance. When the bear took the bait, the guns went off, and he shot himself.