Way back in 1893, a book called “The Wilderness Hunter” was published. It was written by Theodore Roosevelt, the future President of the United States and was described as :
“An Account of the Big Game of the United States and Its Chase with Horse, Hound, and Rifle”
I bought a copy recently, a modern reprint, but not because I am particularly interested in the “Chase with Horse, Hound, and Rifle”. Indeed I possess none of the three. No, I wanted to read a very famous story which I knew Roosevelt had incorporated into his book. Not that I could find it, of course. I searched and searched and searched but with no success whatsoever. So, I was reduced to looking for the story on the internet. And eventually, I found it, tucked away in one of the several different versions of what I now know can be a two volume book.
The story, hidden away in Chapter XX (or 20) was told to Roosevelt by :
” a grisled old mountain hunter, named Bauman, who was born and had passed all his life on the frontier.”
Anyway, here’s Part One of a ripping yarn:
“Bauman, still a young man, was trapping with a partner among the mountains near the head of Wisdom River. They went up into a wild and lonely pass with a small stream said to contain many beavers. The pass had an evil reputation. The year before a solitary hunter had been killed there, seemingly by a wild beast. The half-eaten remains were afterwards found by some mining prospectors who had passed his camp only the night before.
Bauman and his friend weren’t bothered. They were as adventurous and hardy as others of their kind. They took their two ponies to the foot of the pass and left them in an open meadow. The rocky ground was now impracticable for horses.
They then struck out on foot through the vast, gloomy forest, and four hours later, they reached a beautiful glade where they camped, as game was plentiful.
There was an hour or two of daylight left. After building a lean-to and opening up their packs, they set off up the valley. The country was very dense and difficult with many dead trees on the ground, although occasionally the dark forest was broken by small clearings with mountain grass.
At dusk, they returned to camp. The glade where it was pitched was not very wide, the tall pines and firs rising round it like a wall. On one side was a stream, beyond which rose the steep mountain-slopes, covered with the endless evergreen forest.
They were surprised to find that something, apparently a bear, had visited their camp, and rummaged among their things, scattering everything, and then destroying their lean-to. The footprints of the beast were quite plain but they paid no heed to them, busying themselves with rebuilding the lean-to, laying out their beds and stores, and lighting the fire.”
“While Bauman was making supper, his companion began to examine the tracks more closely, and took a brand from the fire to follow them, where the intruder had walked along a game trail after leaving the camp. When the brand flickered out, he returned and took another, repeating his careful inspection of the footprints. Returning to the fire, he stood for a moment or two, peering out into the darkness, and suddenly remarked:
“Bauman, that bear has been walking on two legs.”
Bauman laughed, but his partner insisted that he was right; and, examining the tracks with a torch, they certainly did seem to be made by just two feet. However, it was too dark to make sure. After discussing whether the footprints could be a human being, and deciding that they could not be, the two men rolled up in their blankets, and went to sleep under the lean-to.
At midnight, Bauman was awakened by some noise, and sat up in his blankets. As he did so, his nostrils were struck by a strong, wild-beast odour and he glimpsed a huge body in the darkness at the mouth of the lean-to. Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague, threatening shadow, but must have missed. Immediately afterwards he heard the smashing of the underwood as the creature, whatever it was, rushed off into the impenetrable blackness of the forest and the night.
After this the two men slept fitfully, sitting by the fire, but they heard nothing more.
In the morning, they left to inspect the traps they had set the previous evening, and to put out new ones. They kept together all day and returned towards evening.
Hardly to their astonishment, their lean-to had been again torn down. The visitor of the preceding day had returned and maliciously thrown around their camp kit and bedding, and destroyed the shanty. Its tracks were everywhere. On leaving the camp, it had trod in the soft earth near the brook, and the footprints were as plain as if on snow. And after a careful scrutiny of the trail, it certainly did seem that, whatever the creature was, it had walked off on two legs.”
Next time : Things take a turn for the worse, as if that were possible.
15 responses to “A campfire tale told by the President (1)”
You left us on a nice cliffhanger
Absolutely deliberate, Derrick, although it isn’t too difficult to see the way this thing is headed.
It’s actually one of the most famous Bigfoot stories, all the more valuable because it is related by a person who had no idea what he was seeing, something which does not exclude lying, but which makes it a lot more difficult.
Pretty good story. Teddy didn’t actually spend much time in the west, but envisioned himself a man of nature. Thank goodness for us, as he started our National Park system.
Yes, I think that whole nation owes him a huge debt of gratitude for establishing the National Parks.
His book is actually quite good if you like that kind of thing, but I’m afraid I don’t really see the point of killing animals just for the sake of it. If they are eventually eaten, I suppose that’s OK, but not to just hang their heads on a wall.
Incidentally, this tale does not end with Bigfoot’s head on a wall, but you probably guessed that anyway!
Yes, and I agree with killing the animals!
“Bauman, that bear has been walking on two legs.” ~This gave me the creeps. Can’t wait to read the rest of the tale.
It is a really scary tale, and you can probably guess how it’s going to turn out.
I don’t think I shall ever see a Bigfoot in England, but I’m not sure I’d want to see one in the USA either. He’s a bit too frightening for me!
They have also been spotted in Guyana where they are known as masacurraman– a name passed on from Amerindian folklore into popular belief. I’ve written a short story based on the description of a real sighting of the legendary river monster.
This is a creepy story that I fear will end in the demise of one or all off these men. Big foot strikes again!
Only the one casualty this time! For the most part, Bigfoot seems to be relatively peaceful but he can be very territorial and the further north you go, the fiercer they seem to get, and the bigger.
That’s not so bad then. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
OOOOO another suspense tale. I love these! Can’t wait to continue with this tale, John.
I’m sure you will enjoy it, Amy !
And it’s not over yet, Lakshmi. “Fascinating” will turn to “fatal” !