"Pete Whetstone's Bear Hunt" by Charles F.M. Noland (1837)

Devil's Fork of Little Red River (ARK.) Feb. 15th, 1837

DEAR MR. EDITOR,-Being that this is a rainy day, I thought I would write you about the bear hunt. Well, next morning after the fight with Dan Looney, I started out. I was mighty sore I tell you, for Dan had thumped me in the sides till I was as blue as indigo. I saddled my horse, got my wallet, and fetched a whoop, that started my dogs; they knew what I was after, and seemed mightily pleased. I took six with me, as good dogs as ever fought a bear. Sharp-tooth and General Jackson, if there was any difference, were a little the best. I struck for the Big Lick, where Sam Jones and Bill Stout were to meet me. I found them there-they had a good team of dogs. We had heard of great sign up the Dry Fork, and there we determined to go. It was about thirty miles off, and as we did not wish to fatigue our dogs, it took us until the middle of next day to reach it; we rested that evening, and put out by day-break next morning.

In about half an hour, old General raised a cry: I knew then we were good for a bear-the other dogs joined him. The track was cold; we worked with him till about ten, when they bounced him. Bill Stout was ahead, and raised the yell-such music, oh lord, and such fighting. I got the first shot; my gun made long fire, and I only slightly wounded him. At the crack of the gun the dogs gathered; he knocked two of my young dogs into the middle of next week before you could say Jack Robinson-the others kept him at bay until Bill Stout could shoot; his ball struck him too far back. He was a tremendous bear, and just lean enough to make a good fight. He made two other dogs hear it thunder, shook off the whole pack, and got into a thicket, and the next moment plunged down a steep cliff. I listened only for an instant, to hear the clear shrill note of Sharp-tooth, as he plunged in after him, and then socked the spurs into Dry-bones, and with Bill Stout on Fire-tail, and Sam Jones on Hard-times, dashed round the hill. We rode for our lives, for we knew that many of our dogs would suffer if we did not relieve them. When we overtook them, they had him at bay; two dead, and three crippled dogs told of the bloody fight they had had. Sam Jones fired; the wound was that time mortal. At the crack of the gun, the dogs again clamped him; with a powerful reach of his paw, he grabbed the old General, and the next moment fastened his big jaws on him; this was more than flesh and blood could stand: I sprung at him with a butcher-knife, and the first lick sent it to the handle. He loosened his jaws and Sam Jones caught the old General by the hind legs and pulled him away. I gave him one more stab, and he fell dead.

I examined the old General, and found that he was not much injured. We lost seven dogs that day, and many of the others were so badly crippled, as to render it necessary for us to lay by a few days. Sam found a bee tree, and I killed some fat turkies; with them, and the ribs of the old he, we had fine times. It has stopped raining, so I must stop for the present.

Ever yours,
PETE WHETSTONE.