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  • SOUTHERN UTAH MEMORIES: Grizzly bear that killed 200-300 head of cattle is killed in 1909 by Forest Service ranger
    by Loren Webb
    Published - 11/08/13 - 08:15 AM | 0 0 comments | 499 499 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Grizzly Bear
    Grizzly Bear
    A grizzly bear that roamed the Pine Valley area for 30 years, killing an average of $1,000 worth of livestock each year was finally tracked and killed by Forest Service Ranger J. Milton “Mitt” Moody in September 1909, according to a 6-page account written by Moody in about 1949.

    Details of Moody’s successful tracking and eventual killing of the bear are also provided in authors Bessie Snow and Elizabeth J. Beckstrom’s book, O Ye Mountains High; The Story of Pine Valley.

    Moody, a native of Utah’s Dixie (he doesn’t say which town he was raised in) was an active deer and pheasant hunter and “spent his entire life in the open, many nights alone under the stars.”

    During his early years, he worked as a freighter and later as a forest hunter and ranger, Moody states in his account of killing “Old Crack Foot.”

    In his book, The Dixie National Forest; Managing an Alpine Forest in an Arid Setting,” by author Wayne K. Hinton, Hinton notes that Moody “won a firm place in the residents’ hearts on all the districts he served in by his energy and faithfulness and his rare musical talents, courtesy, and eagerness to accommodate became something of a folk hero by killing a large silver tip grizzly bear on the Middle Fork of the Santa Clara Creek in Pine Valley in 1909.”

    Moody notes that in June of 1907 he was hired by the Forest Service to be a hunter, “with instructions to put all my time and effort to the capture of this Bear,” Moody writes in his 1949 account.

    Moody began trailing the bear “on foot and horseback for four months,” and during that time, Moody noticed that the bear did all of its killing at night then would hide during the daytime in dense timber and brush.

    Every time Moody got close to the bear, it always managed to elude him.

    Eventually, Moody was appointed Forest Ranger in Pine Valley and assigned other duties, but he continued to keep watch for the bear. As livestock continued to be killed by the bear, Pine Valley livestock operators offered a $300 reward for the bear’s capture.

    The Forest Service later hired a man named Walker from Iowa to come with six dogs and see if he could capture or kill the bear. Moody was assigned to accompany Walker because the Iowa resident was unfamiliar with the country, Moody’s account states.

    Again, the bear out maneuvered the dogs.

    At this point, Forest Service officials told Moody that “the capture of the bear was the most important of all my work so I was instructed to follow him any time I found fresh signs. This I did for nearly two years whenever other work was not pressing,” he wrote.

    Following the bear’s trail, Moody found where it had killed cows and dragged them through brush. Another time, he found a large bull was dragging its “entrails over the sage brush.” On another occasion, he reported seeing where the bear had hit a three-year-old steer in the head and broke the steer’s skull.

    In September 1909, Moody “was on top of Pine Valley Mountain stamping some timber.” On his way home that Saturday evening, he ran across “Crack Foot’s tracks where he had crossed a small stream of water. “

    Because the trail was wet, Moody knew the bear was fairly close, so he began to trail the bear until sundown when he heard the bear “crashing through the timber ahead.” At that point, Moody fired a shot in the direction of the noise.

    Because it was getting dark, Moody rode down into Pine Valley, then returned the next morning to the site of where he had fired the shot. As he began to follow the bear’s tracks, “I was surprised to see blood on his trail so I knew my bullet of the night before had found its mark,” he wrote.

    Snow and Beckstrom state that the location where Moody had first shot at the bear was Hop Canyon, along the trail that leads to Cabin Valley. He continued to follow the bear over to Middle Fork, their book states.

    Moody returned to Pine Valley and told the livestock operators that if they would send some men with him, he was sure “we could get the bear,” he wrote.

    The next morning, Moody said in his account that “four men came up with what guns they could find.”

    Snow and Beckstrom say that 15 men went with Moody.

    The group spread out and as Moody approached a large bunch of willows, he looked up and saw the bear 100 feet above him. Moody took aim and shot the bear in the right ear. A second later, the bear started down the hill for Moody who fired off nine more shots, seven of them hitting the bear in the right ear. The 10th shot hit the bear in the head “but a little too low,” he wrote.

    After firing all the shells in his gun, he grabbed three more shells out of his belt, but because the gun barrel was so hot, it was difficult to hold it in his hand.

    “Knowing that I had to make this shot do the work or someone would find me and tell what had happened, I waited until old Crack Foot’s head was about six feet from the end of my gun barrel and then fired. He staggered around and finally fell at my feet,” Moody wrote in his account.

    It took three horses and ropes to drag the bear down the mountain where the bear was placed on a wagon and hauled into Pine Valley, Moody wrote. Snow and Beckstrom state that at the tithing office scales, the bear weighed 1,040 pounds. Moody also states that it dressed out at 810 pounds.

    “The town turned out in mass to look at him, got up a dance and supper. The news spread and soon all the little towns and ranches close by came in there to celebrate the event,” Moody wrote.

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