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Conquest of the King of the Grizzlies
By Jack Bell

Outdoor Life, 1904
The Best of Outdoor Life
Cowles Creative Publishing, 1998, pp 11-13

INTRODUCTION: What follows is a compendium of the "best of the best" stories that have ever graced the pages of Outdoor Life.

"Old Mose," the most dreaded grizzly bear in the entire United States, met a death befitting his long life of murder and outrage at 4 o'clock Saturday evening, April 30th. His last stand was made in a quaking asp draw within the confines of his home among the broken rocks at the northwest corner of Black Mountain near Canon City, Colo. He died befitting his rank and lay down in his last sleep with imposing grandeur. Just think, after being shot through and through times without number, baited with every device and cunning known to the trapper; chased by demon posses of cowboys and ranchers bent upon his extermination, and in all this he has met them with superior generalship, cunning unexcelled, knowledge supreme, and for thirty-five years by actual record of the cattlemen of this middle Southern Colorado country. (It is estimated that he was five years old when he first gave evidence of his presence in that section.)

His taking away is due solely to the years of training of a pack of incomparable bear dogs, who know their quarry, his habits, mode of attack, retreat, as well as this magnificent animal himself. He was handicapped by this band of intelligent trainers and knew not their circling, pinching, running away tactics. All this was new to the old monarch - the talk of the dogs brought him to standstill with wonder and amazement. He did nto even strike at them, but sat still and seemed to ponder and try to unravel their unknown and untried quality that he had never before been called upon to meet. So he sat and looked and looked, without a growl ro even a passing of the murderous paws. J.W. [James] Anthony knew the language of his pack with wonderment, this hunter with over forty bear pelts to his credit, and his amazement grew as he watched the unusual action of the monstrous grizzly.

"Now, what in thunder is that old fellow figuring on? Never in my life did I see such an attitude of utter indifference by any bear towards my dogs," muttered Anthony.

"I'll just take a shot -- lemme see -- about eighty yards."

Bang! went the carbine carrying a softnosed .30-40. Old Mose ignored the shot, although it went through his jowl and cut a quaking asp on the other side. "Too low -- darn that dog that was in the way."

The bleeding wound did not even interest the massive animal, and he did not as much as look toward the man with the gun. His interest was centered upon the four dogs snapping around his immense bulk. Very likely he said to himself, "You are not the first that has put bullets in me. I'll attend to you later -- at present I must investigate these funny acting little dogs." The second shot went into the left shoulder and passed clear through, and still he stood speculating upon the very little fighters -- merely glancing at the man who was firing the death-dealing missles into his body. The third shot brought the seeming inanimate body into lightning activity. The bullet struck a quaking asp and threw splinters into his face. A sweep of his mighty paw directed at one of the dogs cost him a claw, and, missing the dogs, he uprooted an aspen that was six inches in diameter. But never a snarl or a growl from this king of all grizzlies. He, however, in a leisurely manner, without even condescending to notice the dogs, started at a slow walk toward Anthony. The hunter fired his fourth shot, which went a bit high through the shoulders, and "Old Mose" turned and went back to the point where the dogs had stopped him and sat up for a moment, apparently surveying the country, and acted as though there was neither man nor dogs within a thousand miles. The fifth and sixth shots were hurled into the carcass, both taking effect through the shoulders, and never a howl, growl or snarl did he mke. he took his medicine in the same manner as he had administered his power for thirty-five years -- neither giving nor asking quarter. The sixth shot did not bring forth the expected, teh awful death cry of the bear, neither did he by sign or symptom show cowardice or anger.

Looking steadfastly at the man refilling the magazine of his rifle for a few seconds, he at last made up his mind that it would be policy to first kill him and then pursue his uninterrupted analysis of these strange dogs that had the courage to snap at him and tear bunches of fur from his incomparable coat. Slowly he started toward the hunter, never leaving the awkward slow walk of his species. His eyes burned as with fire, and his coming was terrorizing to any but the seasoned bear killer. When at about sixty-two feet away he lowered his head with an unsounded challenge, and as his head was bending low, the hunter drew bead at the point between the ears, and taking a long breath, gently began pressing the trigger. Slowly, as the mountain pine begins to fall under the woodman's ax, Old Mose, the terror of all, man and beast alike, began to settle down. Slowly, slowly, with neither sound nor quiver, the massive king gave up his life as he had lived it, in blood and violence. He met his death with honor, willing to the last to measure his great strength and cunning in mortal combat with that of the hunter, who dared to stand before him and dispute his reign.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, Old Mose has cost the cattlemen thousands of dollars by his depredations. He was seen by a cowboy to run down a three-year-old bull, slap it over the withers, and, while down and struggling, turn it over and sink his wicked teeth through the neck, instantly killing him. Another stunt much in vogue with the old fellow was to spy upon lonely prospectors in the hills, appear before them suddenly, sit up, and let out an unearthly growl, and seemingly enjoy the fright and stampede of the nearly-scared-to-death man.

Jack Ratcliff, an old-time bear hunter, camped on his trail for years and years. In 1886, with a party of hunters, he got on Old Mose's trail. For ten days they followed his fresh signs all the time. Up in a rough gulch on Tallahassee Mountain Ratcliffe found his den, and while peering down into the box gulch fell. In a second Old Mose came out of the rocks, twenty-five feet away, and charged the intruder. Ratcliffe fired his Old Henry. He was unable to load and fire again. The bear took one fell swoop of his iron arm and paw, and Ratcliffe fell to the ground, scalp torn completely from his head and cut five gashes entirely down his back, stripping the flesh from the bones. He fell fainting, and Old Mose walked away. When he revived he began to call and his companions heard him, but, unfortunately, so did the bear, and with another rush he was upon his victim and began his murder. He cuffed and bit him until he was a mass of broken bones and mutilated flesh. Old Mose hit the trail, and when the hunters found their friend they gave up all thought of the bear. He was tenderly carried to Stirrup ranch, and the boys started to Fairplay with the suffering man to obtain the services of the nearest doctor. He died on the way, and the last words he uttered were: "Boys, don't hunt that bear."

James Asher, an old-time hunter, met the same fate as Ratcliffe seveeral years later and in almost the identical manner.

On Cameron Mountain, over in the Glenwood country, a skeleton was found with a rusty rifle beside it. The gun was identified as the one made by Pap Rudolph of Canon City, and Old Mose was credited with the death. Last summer a skeleton was found on Thirty-Nine mountain, that of a cowboy, the boots and spurs were beside the bones, and as this was the stamping ground of this mammoth, he was duly credited with the murder.

J.W. Anthony came to Canon City from Idaho, where he has hunted bear for years. Last year he took sixteen hides. For years he has read of Old Mose, and came her to take a try at him. With him he brought thirty well-trained bear dogs. W.H. Pigg of Stirrup ranch fame, invited him to his ranch for the purpose of hunting the king. For two months they have scoured the country, and found his trail on the 26th of April, the day he had come out of his winter's sleep. They trailed him faithfully and well. When the dogs gave tongue to the fresh tracks, part of the pack back-trailed and Pigg took his bunch. Anthony was behind and followed the dogs that barked at bay.

Among the well-known hunters who have trailed Old Mose are D.F. Waterhouse, Dall DeWeese [of Canon City CO], Ira Carrier, Dan Hall, Joe Hall, C.W. Talbot, H.N. Beecher and scores of others.

William Stout and M.B. Waterhouse, two of the oldest pioneers of the Arkansas Valley, have both suffered the loss of over a score of cattle from the depredations of Old Mose, and to one of these men is given the credit of giving the old desperado the name by which he has been known for so many years. What prompted the appellation was the manner in which the bear moseyed toward men he would happen upon -- his slowness in leaving a carcass when fired upon, and his general habit of just plain "mosey." He has caused Mr. Stout no small amount of trouble, and many are the partly eaten steers bearing his brand that this bear has pulled down - of course he was always known by the missing toes of the left hind foot, and could be easily identified.

A rather strange thing comes to light with the passing of the king. There has been following in his wake of murder a cinnomon bear that measured from the reach on their several rubbing posts, showing but a difference of eight inches in this cinnamon's height and that of the dead bear. This bear has never consorted with the old bandit, but has carefully followed him and taken the leavings that he has left -- but never have their trails crossed. Mr. cinnamon has invariably been in the rear. Mr. Anthony has noticed htis remarkable thing, as well as the foregoing old-timers.

C.W. Talbot, one of the old-timers in his country, gives the following about Old Mose: "Some fifteen years ago I was down in the Antelope country prospecting. At this time there was a reward of $500 offered for the carcass of Old Mose. The stockmen and hte ranchers in this country were in terror of their lives on account of this big, three-toed bear. He ran the cattle ranges without a man's hand raised against him -- they were all afraid of the monster. Even this big reward didn't bring out any hunters that were anxious to run foul of him. There were two or three men that had gone to the hills to look for him -- and they never returned, and their bodies were never recovered -- this was the reason that the scattered residents of the Antelope country were afraid to go into the hills for him. He pulled down cattle wantonly, destroyed calves and colts, tore down fences, chased the people who lived in the country and conducted himself as an outlaw and degenerate. He carried on this reign of terror for several months, and then disappeared from his usual haunts -- and I tell you that there was a feeling of relief in this section when he left.

"The following spring I was on a trip over here on Beaver Creek -- just about twenty miles from Canon City -- and as I was going up the stream I was astounded to come upon the track of Old Mose. Now, I have an idea that he would travel at least 200 or 300 miles to get across this country. He would have to follow up the Continental Divide, cross the Sangre de Cristo across the Arkansas River at his old crossing near Spike Buck, up on Tallahassee Mountain, then through the broken hills down there on Beaver. While I was down in Antelope Park the natives say thatthey heard of his depradations all along the Utah line. Oh, I tell you that he was well known all over the cattle country, and he has cost them thousands and thousands of dollars. I have hunted him for a good many years, but was unsuccessful in even getting a glimpse of him. That old bear was a heap more cunning than a fox -- and I have never heard of but a very few hunters that got a shot at him, and then it was at long range. He seemed to know when a man was armed and acted accordingly; unarmed he would mke his appearance and frighten a man out of a year's growth -- armed, he would discreetly withdraw and disappear, although his tracks were still warm. I had a wholesome respect for him, and after looking his carcass over, I am free to say that I am thankful that I never came face to face with him."

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