At the Garbage-heap
At the hotel they told me that the best place for bears was the garbage-heap, in the forest, about a quarter of a mile from the hotel. So, early next morning, I went there with a camera, pencils and paper. At first I watched from the bushes, about seventy-five yards away. Later I came nearer to the heap and stayed there all day, sketching and photographing the bears that came and went there. Very many bears came and went.
A great grizzly was the first, and at forty yards I snapped him, and again at fifteen. Like the others, he looked for something to eat in the garbage-heap. Then suddenly he turned his head, saw me and walked toward me. When he was about fifteen feet away from me, I snapped the camera again. The snap of the camera made him angry, and he ran toward me with a growl. I felt that it was my last moment. But I remembered the old saying: – “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.” For a minute or two the grizzly stared at me, and I stood still. Then he calmly went back to the garbage-heap and began to eat there.
Some days later, I saw thirteen bears at one time near the garbage-heap, and that was after sunset. But they told me that one could see twenty or twenty-five bears at once in June and July, when there is little food in the forest. Most of them are black bears, but there are always a few grizzlies. They are not afraid of men. Yet I thought: Weren’t these creatures dangerous to the people who lived in the Park? Nothing ever happened, they said, which shows how peaceful animals are when they are not hungry.
However, it is always the exception that proves the rule. An artist at the hotel, hearing of my experiences at the garbage-heap, went there also with his camera some time after that. A she-bear with her two cubs appeared and did not give the artist a chance to photograph her. He waited a long time and then decided to go to them, since they did not come
to him. Holding the camera ready, he approached the family group. The cubs got frightened when they saw this strange animal on two legs, with a box and only one eye. They ran, whining, to their mother. All her maternal anger was aroused. She struck the artist only once, but that was enough. His camera was smashed and for two weeks after that he was in the hospital with three broken ribs.
Hunting for Food
An old grizzly became a nuisance at the hotel. Since no one touched him, he walked into the kitchen and helped himself to food. The campers in the tents were especially afraid of him, because the old bear soon realized that these people had food, and it was very easy to break through white canvas walls in the woods. He did not hurt any one, but he frightened the horses, broke the camp equipments and stole much food. Once he stole a ham, and even when one of the men ran after him with a burning stick, the grizzly did hot drop the ham.
At last the chief of the Park decided to punish the thief. When the grizzly came, the chief was on his horse and at once rode after him. The grizzly ran among the pine trees for a while, but the horse had excellent training in such work, and when the grizzly ran out of the woods into the prairie, the lasso of the chief caught his hind paw. It was hard work, but at last they pulled the bear up to a high branch of a tree. Then they gave him a beating that he did not forget, for he did not come again.
A Humorous Incident
A humorous story was told me about a black she-bear that was more tame than other bears. This bear went straight into the bar-room of one of the hotels.