Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hunting and Trapping

Initially, grizzlies were not hunted for food, but for their skins, for the thrill, and because of their threat to livestock.

Grizzly Bear Trap
Grizzly Bear Trap
from The Newhouse Trappers Guide, 1914.
Before the introduction of the repeating rifle, killing a grizzly with a shot gun was very difficult. It was rare that a single bullet would suffice, so the best option was to trap and then kill the animal.

Bayard Taylor, 1849: "We had no other arms than pistols and knives and no horses of sufficient fleetness to have ventured an attack with safety; so we passed on with many a wistful and lingering look, for the gray hide of one of those huge beasts would have been a trophy well worth the capture."

Strychnine LabelBesides traps, poisons, such as strychnine and phosphorus, were also used. Often a grizzly would not eat an entire animal in one sitting but come back the next day to finish it off.
The left remains would be poisoned in anticipation of the grizzly’s return. See the blog post: Treed by a Dead Bear.

Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel,1872: "Some twenty [bears] have been killed in this county recently, in that way. Mr Miller returned to his ranch yesterday with four bottles of strychnine to cure bear meat, he having previously fought three bears from a tree in his oat field, and had only an ax to keep the old she bear and her cubs from climbing the tree."

Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup Label
Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, 1872: "Varments of the grizzly tribe are peculiar, and the best medicine we can think of is Mrs. Winlow’s soothing syrup, especially for the cubs, when they set up that hideous howl so graphically described. For the older ones, Galena pills [lead shot] – 16 to the pound – from Dr. Henry’s repeater or the Parker gun with good strong powder would no doubt be potent, but in case of failure, try strychnine."

Mrs. Winslow’s syrup contained morphine and was responsible for the drug addition and death from overdose of countless infants and children.

A Text Book for the Professional Teacher, 1910: "The Food Department of the United States has established a list of medical preparations, “soothing syrups,” which are referred to as “baby-killers.” The use of this class of products is certainly to be condemned, and the list as given by the United States Government chemists includes the following preparations: Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup (morphine sulfate)."   

Gatling Gun versus a Bear!

W. H. Dool Meat Market Advertisment
Boulder Blast, October 19, 1895
1899:  In December 1899, butcher William (Billy) H. Dool of Boulder Creek sent a 300 pound black bear to the Popular Meat Market in Santa Cruz. The bear had been shot by Henry L. Middleton in the Big Basin.

Henry Middleton had acquired a Gatling gun and wanting to “experiment” with it took it to a place near his lumber mill in the Big Basin. The gun, a machine gun that consists of multiple barrels revolving around a central axis and is capable of being fired at a rapid rate, had been “captured” from the Filipinos.

The Gatling Gun,
for Service Ashore & Afloat,
William B. Franklin, 1874
(The Philippine-American War ran from Feb 1899 to Jul 1902. Middleton had just been awarded a contract by the US government to supply troops at Manila with 3000 tons of hay.)

He fired the gun and then saw a large bear approaching. Middleton had long wanted to kill a bear and saw this as his opportunity.

The bear came running toward the gun, Middleton fired.

"Bruin saw he had no business with the Mayor of Boulder Creek, and decided that the Big Basin was too small to hold both. As the bear turned to run another shot was fired with fatal effect."

Middleton, with the assistance of several men, brought the bear to Dool's Meat Market in Boulder Creek.