Beautiful Joe
Chapter 23, Page 4

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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.


CHAPTER XXIII: TRAPPING WILD ANIMALS (continued)

"Sometimes it took a good many bullets to kill them. I remember one old fellow that we put eleven into, before he keeled over. It was one fall, over on Pike's Hill. The snow had come earlier than usual, and this old bear hadn't got into his den for his winter's sleep. A lot of us started out after him. The hill was covered with beech trees, and he'd been living all the fall on the nuts, till he'd got as fat as butter. We took dogs and worried him, and ran him from one place to another, and shot at him, till at last he dropped. We took his meat home, and had his skin tanned for a sleigh robe.

"One day I was in the woods, and looking through the trees espied a bear. He was standing up on his hind legs, snuffing in every direction, and just about the time I espied him, he espied me. I had no dog and no gun, so I thought I had better be getting home to my dinner. I was a small boy then, and the bear, probably thinking I'd be a mouthful for him anyway, began to come after me in a leisurely way. I can see myself now going through those woods — hat gone, jacket flying, arms out, eyes rolling over my shoulder every little while to see if the bear was gaining on me. He was a benevolent-looking old fellow, and his face seemed to say, 'Don't hurry, little boy.' He wasn't doing his prettiest, and I soon got away from him, but I made up my mind then, that it was more fun to be the chaser than the chased.

"Another time I was out in our cornfield, and hearing a rustling, looked through the stalks, and saw a brown bear with two cubs. She was slashing down the corn with her paws to get at the ears. She smelled me, and getting frightened began to run. I had a dog with me this time, and shouted and rapped on the fence, and set him on her. He jumped up and snapped at her flanks, and every few instants she'd turn and give him a cuff, that would send him yards away. I followed her up, and just back of the farm she and her cubs took into a tree. I sent my dog home, and my father and some of the neighbors came. It had gotten dark by this time, so we built a fire under the tree, and watched all night, and told stories to keep each other awake. Toward morning we got sleepy, and the fire burnt low, and didn't that old bear and one cub drop right down among us and start off to the woods. That waked us up. We built up the fire and kept watch, so that the one cub, still in the tree, couldn't get away. Until daylight the mother bear hung around, calling to the cub to come down."

"Did you let it go, uncle?" asked Miss Laura.

"No, my dear, we shot it."

"How cruel!" cried Mrs. Wood.

"Yes, weren't we brutes?" said her husband; "but there was some excuse for us, Hattie. The bears ruined our farms. This kind of hunting that hunts and kills for the mere sake of slaughter is very different from that. I'll tell you what I've no patience with, and that's with these English folks that dress themselves up, and take fine horses and packs of dogs, and tear over the country after one little fox or rabbit. Bah, it's contemptible. Now if they were hunting cruel, man-eating tigers, or animals that destroy property, it would be a different thing."