It was June and very hot weather, and it took us two days to come down the river. By the time we got the meat home it all had spoiled. It was a very fat elk. Had at least four or five inches of fat. We passed a claim where an old fellow by the name of Judge Whittaker lived. (In 1898 he ran a free reading room in Hoquiam on I Street, between 8th and 9th, in the Redman Building). We stopped in to give him a piece of meat, but it was so fat he thought it was bear meat.
I shot my first bear when I was about thirteen or fourteen. Back of the Banta and Read place there was a lake with lots of ducks. I started for it with a double-barreled shotgun. I had put some slugs in one barrel (Pieces of lead cut in squares) just in case I should see a deer. I sneaked u stealthily looking for the ducks. I was coming in from behind a big spruce tree when I heard a noise on the other side. Looking around the tree trunk, I came face to face with a bear. He was only four or five feet away. I raised the gun and pulled the trigger right in his face.
Then in terror I ran about a half a mile, falling down and getting up and running on without a backward look. In my haste I threw away mygun. I had "buck fever". When you have it, you tremble all over. Finally I calmed down and retraced my steps to find that I had practically torn the bear's head off. I had been afraid the slugs would only wound him. And a wounded bear is very dangerous.
I once shot at a buck elk and missed him completely. Bob McKee, an old timer around Humptulips, had borrowed the gun to use in shooting at a hawk. He had changed the sight. So when I shot the bullet went about eight feet over the elk's head. Was I disappointed !
About the time a man got one stray back into the herd, another would wander off, so the men following got plenty of exercise.