Category Archive 'Grizzly Bear'
26 Nov 2021

Bella Twin’s 1953 World Record Grizzly

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In this famous photograph by Bruno Engler, Bella Twin is shown with the hide from the world record grizzly bear that she shot in 1953 with a single shot .22 rifle.

Dean Weingarten in Ammoland:

On 10 May, 1953, Bella Twin was hunting small game with her partner, Dave Auger, along an oil exploration cutline south of Slave Lake, in Alberta, Canada. She was 63 years old.

They saw a large grizzly bear coming toward them. Wishing to avoid an encounter, they hid off the side of the cut.

But the bear kept coming closer and closer. It got so close that Bella Twin thought it less risky to shoot the bear than to not shoot it. It was probably only a few yards away. Some accounts say 30 feet. Perhaps she saw it stop and start to sniff, as if it had caught their scent. We may never know.

She shot at the side of the bears head. Knowing animal anatomy very well (she was an experienced trapper, and had skinned hundreds, perhaps thousands of animals) she knew exactly where to aim to penetrate the skull at its weakest point.

She shot, the bear dropped. It was huge. She went to the bear and fired the rest of the .22 long cartridges that she had, loading the single shot rifle repeatedly, to “pay the insurance” as Peter Hathaway Capstick said. She made sure the bear was dead, and not just stunned. My father taught me the same lesson when I was 13.

For those curious about how to place that shot on a live bear, the place to aim is half way on a line from the center of the eye to the ear hole.

From the front, you would aim directly up the nose. If the bear’s mouth is open, aim for the back of the roof of the mouth. Aiming above the nose will likely miss the brain.

What rifle did Bella use to shoot the world record grizzly in 1953?

I wrote an article asking for help in 2014. Several alert readers replied over the intervening period. Because of their efforts, and the Internets, I have been able to find more detail about Bella Twin, her rifle, and the event. One reader was able to track down the current location of the rifle and send me pictures taken by the curator of the museum. The rifle is a Cooey Ace 1 single shot .22 rimfire.

Bella Twin used the rifle for many years on her trapline. The rifle was produced between 1929 and 1934. From a commenter at Ammoland:

    here is a quote from the curator of the museum about the gun when i talked to him via email:

    ”I can tell you that the rifle is a .22 caliber single shot Cooey Ace 1. I can also tell you that the rifle’s condition, which has remained as it was when Bella Twin shot the bear, leaves a lot to be desired. There is corrosion on the receiver and barrel, the front screw that holds the stock to the barrel is missing and has been replaced with hockey tape. There is a piece of rubber under the barrel – probably as a method of “free floating” the barrel. There is no finish left on the wood. The stock is missing a part by the receiver and there is a wood screw reinforcing a crack in the stock.”

Bella Twin was a Cree woman. She had a reputation for being a deadly shot. Her grandson, Larry Loyie became an award winning writer. He wrote a fictionalized account of the bear shooting to include his grandmother in his prize winning children’s book, As Long as the Rivers Flow….

In As Long as the Rivers Flow, Larry wrote that he was with his grandmother when she shot the bear. It made sense to put the story into the book, but Larry was not with his grandmother when she shot the bear. In 1953, Larry had been gone from Slave Lake for five years. I suspect his grandfather, Edward Twin, had died. Bella was 63 and was spending time with another man. Larry refers to Dave Auger as Bella’s partner in a family picture. Dave Auger was with Bella when she shot the bear.

What ammunition did Bella Twin use? The written accounts say .22 Long.

Bella Twin is specifically recorded as reporting that she shot it with .22 Longs, not Shorts, not Long Rifles. I recall that into the 1960’s Longs were more expensive than shorts, but cheaper than Long Rifle ammunition.

The High Velocity .22 Long dates back to the 1930’s and uses a 29 grain bullet at 1240 fps. The High Velocity .22 Short dates to about the same period, with the same bullet as the Long, but a velocity of 1125. The difference in velocity is 1240 – 1125 or 115 fps. That amounts to a 21% increase in energy for the Long, but far short of the Long Rifle, which is almost double that of the .22 Short.

The energy figures are listed as Short 81 foot pounds, Long 99 foot pounds, and Long Rifle 158 foot pounds, all for High Velocity loads of the period. A standard velocity .22 Long Rifle is listed at 1140 fps, with 120 foot pounds of energy, or 21% more than the High Velocity Long. The modern CCI standard velocity .22 Long Rifle travels at 1070 fps, with 102 foot pounds of energy, still 3% more than the High Velocity Long.

What was the location where the bear was shot? During my research, I came across a photo of the right side of the bear’s skull. The right side has the location where the bear was shot written on it. The bear was shot in Section 24, Township 71, Range 6, W 5th Meridian. That is a section of land about 7 1/2 miles south of Slave Lake. The bear was likely shot just west of Florida Lake. A section is one mile square.

We know the date the bear was shot, because it is recorded on the top of the skull. Most written accounts only say it was the spring of 1953. It was on May 10th of that year.

Bella Twin was only a name for most of the time I knew of her. I wondered about this famous huntress for many years. Now we know that she was an expert trapper, hunter, and a crack shot. She was a beloved grandmother who taught her grandchildren well and knew the Cree traditional folkways. She lost one man and found another. She was shrewd enough to parlay the world record grizzly into cash. She sold the skin and skull separately, and sold the old, beat up rifle as well.

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Here is a picture of the bear’s skull and the .22 caliber holes in the left side.

26 Nov 2019

Colin Dowler Fought Off a Grizzly with a Small Pocketknife

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Colin Dowler, on his 45th birthday, went camping overnight and trail biking on Mount Doogie Dowler, a 7,000-foot peak overlooking Heriot Bay in British Columbia.

When attacked by a Grizzly, this being Canada, he had nothing to defend himself but a tiny Buck pocketknife. (Outside magazine)

As soon as I got out of the bush and onto my mountain bike, I was on the home stretch. I was excited about celebrating my birthday when I got back.

Peddling away, I came around a bend, and there was a grizzly bear, about a hundred feet in front of me. So I stopped and said, “Hey bear,” because that’s what you do when you see one.

He looked into the bush, looked back up the road, and started walking my way. I kept talking to him. I decided not to turn around to get out of there, but in hindsight, maybe I should have.
The grizzly was pretty close, and my bear spray was gone. It fell out of my backpack somewhere on the mountain. So I grabbed one of my hiking poles and extended it to use as some sort of deterrent. I was still straddling my bike in the hopes that the bear would just step off the trail.

It’s a logging road, so it was basically two tire marks with a bump in the middle. He continued to saunter up the road toward me but stayed in his lane. He ended up getting pretty close, maybe 20 feet away. It made me nervous that he hadn’t left yet.

I stepped off my bike, and he kind of shuddered, like he was a little bit jumpy in that moment. He kept approaching until his head was parallel with my front tire, and as he walked past, he dipped his head down. We made a little bit of eye contact, and I looked away, because eye contact didn’t really seem like something I wanted to do.

I remember thinking as he was walking by, Man, this would be cool to video. I’d have footage of a bear walking just clean by me and carrying on his way.

He kept walking by until his rump was almost past my rear tire. And then he did a 180-degree turn.

I spin around, standing with my mountain bike between us. He shuddered again and started walking toward me. I started backing up and talking to him again. I was just trying to speak nicely to the bear in hopes that he would change his mind.

I held out my hiking pole as he approached. I ended up poking him right in the top of the head. He pushed into it, did a flip move with his head that rolled off the pole, and got his mouth onto it. We had a tug-of-war, until he let go of it and started closing in on me again.

I dropped the pole and kept backing up. I flung my backpack between us, hopeful that some food in one of the outside pockets would keep him busy for a bit. He stopped and took a quick sniff, but after maybe half a second, he was coming toward me again.

Then he began doing very slow, deliberate swats at my bike. The first one was pretty mild, but then they got more powerful. As he swatted, I threw my bike at him, and he got briefly hung up on it, but then he lunged forward and grabbed me between my ribs and my left hip.

That’s when it really sank in—I was in trouble.

RTWT

27 Oct 2017

Man Shot Grizzly Off His Front Porch

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle, October 24:

A man shot a grizzly bear on his front porch near West Yellowstone last weekend after it broke into his garage to get a hanging elk carcass.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the incident happened on Sunday evening south of U.S. Highway 287 and near the Grayling Arm of Hebgen Lake. She said an agency investigation determined that the man shot the bear in self-defense.

“We have a pretty clear case of self-defense here,” Jones said.

Jones said the bear was a sow grizzly likely more than 15 years old. It broke through a metal door to get into a garage where an elk carcass was hanging.

The homeowner heard noise coming from the garage. He grabbed a gun and went onto the front porch to see what was going on.

“There was a bear not 10 paces from him on his porch,” Jones said.

Jones said the man told FWP investigators that the bear turned and began to approach him. He shot the bear dead.

Jones said investigators saw bloody paw prints around the property, including within 10 feet of the front door. They also saw paw prints on the home’s living room window.

The bear had been trapped by Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team researchers once before, but it didn’t have a history of run-ins with people.

Jones said it appeared that the garage was secured properly and that there was nothing the homeowner could have done differently.

She added that it’s important for people to recognize that both grizzly and black bears are still wandering around and trying to fatten up for the winter.

RTWT

I hope the black bear raiding my bird feeders reads this one.

08 Sep 2017

Bow Hunter Mauled by Grizzly in Montana

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Rexburg Standard Journal:

A grizzly bear mauled a bow hunter in southwestern Montana, slashing a 16-inch cut in his head that required 90 stitches to close.

“I could hear bones crunching, just like you read about,” said Tom Sommer, as he recovered in a Montana hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Sommer said he and a hunting partner were looking for an elk they had been calling Monday morning when his partner spotted a grizzly bear feeding on an elk carcass in the southern end of the Gravelly Range, just north of the Idaho border.

“The bear just flat-out charged us,” Sommer said. He said it closed the 30-foot distance in 3 or 4 seconds.

His hunting partner deployed his bear spray, which slowed the bear’s charge. Sommer said he grabbed his canister so quickly that he couldn’t release the safety and he couldn’t afford to look down as the bear closed in. He ran around a tree twice and dropped his bear spray in the process.

Sommer then grabbed his pistol and turned to confront the bear.

“It bit my thigh, ran his claws through my wrist and proceeded to attack my head,” Sommer recalled Tuesday.

He still had his pistol in his hand and was going to shoot the bear in the neck when it swatted his arm down, Sommer said.

“Just like that it stopped. He stopped biting me, he got up and started to run away,” said Sommer, who splits his time among Idaho, Missouri and Florida.

His hunting partner had been able to deploy the rest of his bear spray, ending the attack Sommer estimated lasted about 25 seconds.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Sommer found his bear spray canister. His hunting partner had some blood coagulation powder and they made a turban, stopping the bleeding after about 15 minutes.

They walked a mile back to their spike camp and rode mules another 4 miles out to their base camp, followed by a two-hour ride in a pickup truck to get to the hospital in Ennis.

“Through it all I was very conscious, very level-headed and low key about it,” Sommer said. “Besides some scars, it doesn’t appear that I will have any problems.

RTWT

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First reported by gun writer Mike Venturino on FB.

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Extensive gossip, wisecracks, discussion at 24 Hour Campfire.

28 Jul 2017

Darn! She Almost Had Him

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A young sow named Bear 148 almost caught a fleeing bicyclist earlier this month in British Columbia. Had it not been for a passing couple and their truck, she would have.

Sporting Classics:

Two Idaho sightseers wanted to see wildlife on a recent trip to Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, along the BC-Alberta line. Did they ever! The couple was driving a pickup truck along Highway 93 when they spotted a bicyclist heading their way, fast. It wasn’t until they saw what was behind him that his need for speed became clear.

A young grizzly bear, known to local authorities as Bear 148, was hot on the cyclist’s trail.

“I was sitting in the passenger seat and had my cell phone and had been taking scenic pictures all the way,” Cassie Beyer told CBC News. She continued taking pictures as the chase unfolded, snapping the above image during the process.

Another driver began honking their horn at the bear, allowing Beyer’s husband to put their truck between the cyclist and Bear 148. With the cyclist safe, the couple then headed on down the road.

This wasn’t the first encounter with humans Bear 148 has had this year. The young sow has chased a woman who was pushing a stroller and walking her dog; has interrupted a rugby event at a nearby high school; and has followed a number of hikers. She was relocated to nearby Kootenay National Park earlier in July but returned to Radium within two days.

As amazing as the bear’s brazenness is, the public’s outcry over the incident is even more so. Locals are organizing protests against the Alberta government’s decision to euthanize the bear if any more incidents occur, despite the many close calls people have had with 148 in 2017.

RTWT

Well, if Bear 148 will stick to only eating bicylists, I think she ought to be treated as a priceless natural resource, be bred from, and have her offspring transplanted to Eastern states.

08 Jul 2017

Watch Out For This Bear!

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19 Mar 2017

Unwise

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13 Feb 2015

Old Ephraim Versus Electricity

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“A Montana grizzly bear attempts to retrieve an electrically charged, road-killed deer. The deer is electrified as an experiment to protect hunters’ game kills and, in turn, to minimize bear-human encounters.”

Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

31 May 2014

Tums Bear Commercial

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Also from Harberson.

08 May 2014

New Record Grizzly Bear

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RecordGriz

Fox News reports that a Grizzly Bear taken last Fall near Fairbanks by a fellow out hunting moose has broken the Boone & Crockett record.

Larry Fitzgerald and a pal were moose hunting near Fairbanks, Alaska, when they came across fresh bear tracks in the snow. Three hours later, the auto body man had taken down the grizzly that left the prints, an enormous bruin that stood nearly 9 feet tall and earned Fitzgerald a place in the record books.

Although Fitzgerald shot the bear last September, Boone and Crockett, which certifies hunting records, has only now determined the grizzly, with a skull measuring 27 and 6/16ths inches, is the biggest ever taken down by a hunter, and the second largest grizzly ever documented. Only a grizzly skull found by an Alaska taxidermist in 1976 was bigger than that of the bear Fitzgerald bagged.

I’m not really a trophy hunter, or anything,” Fitzgerald, 35, told FoxNews.com. “But I guess it is kind of cool.”

Fitzgerald brought down the bear from 20 yards, with one shot to the neck from his Sako 300 rifle. He said he and hunting buddy Justin Powell knew from the tracks he was on the trail of a massive grizzly, but only learned this week that he held a world record. …

Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements, and Missouloa, Mont.-based Boone and Crockett trophy data is generally recognized as the standard. Conservationists use the data to monitor habitat, sustainable harvest objectives and adherence to fair-chase hunting rules.

14 Feb 2014

Jean Jacques Annaud, “The Bear” (1988)

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16 Jun 2013

Grizzly Bear Chair

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Humboldt County, California was once home to half-horse, half-alligator mountain men rather than Pacifist, tree-hugging, pot-farming hippies. One old-time resident, Seth Kinman 1815-1888, boasted of killing 800 Grizzly bears in his lifetime and of having shot 60 elk in one month. He made furniture out of his trophies and presented examples to Presidents James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Rutherford Hayes.

Hat tip to Greg Nylander via Vanderleun.

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