The Man-Eater part 3 – Lake County Record-Bee

Reel Foots history is a litany of crime. Charley Sapp was the nextmanto face Reel Foot. He was in the woods hunting when they met. When the confrontation ended, Charley had lost half his right leg, a third of his right hand, and most of his scalp to Reel foot. When asked, Charley declared, Of all the grizzly bears that the Devil put on this earth there never was a bear like Reel Foot.

Things had been quiet for years and there had been no more recent killings of humans or hogs when Reel Foot reappeared. It may have been the forest fires that plagued parts of Lake County that year. It burned up the lairs of panthers, deer and other wild animals and those same fires may have smoked out old Reel Foot.

John Copsey, the youngman, that had vowed to avenge the death at the paws and claws of the Grizzly for his friend, H.A. Churchs awful death, had grown to manhood. Copsey was now not only the tallestmanin Lake County, he was also a veteran bear hunter. When he spied Reel-Foots tracks on his ranch he grabbed his rifle with one thought in mind.

Soon after he found his bear. Reel Foot was still in his sullen bad humor and ready to eat any human or two that crossed his trail. This time John Copsey did not depend on a single shot muzzle loader. He had a good repeating rifle. When he found the bear he fired. Reel Foot didnt seem to mind the bullet in the least. Copsey might have been throwing peas at a sponge. John levered the rifle for a second shot. The lever stuck and Reel Foot charged.

I thought my end had come, said John later. In a moment or two I was sure I would join my friend Church.

Copsey managed to draw his knife, a long-bladed tool, and planted the blade deep in Reel-Foots ribs. It was well place and ended the Grizzlys crime spree for once and all time. When he was weighed the Giant Grizzly topped the scale at 1350 pounds. Forty-five bullets were found in his body and his thick coat was a crazy quilt of scars. The townspeople came to see the remains of the famousman-eating bear; the behemoth of a Grizzly that held the title for the greatest and the last of the Grizzles to terrorize Lake County.

Additional Note by Kevin Engle.

The traditional Pomo people worship the bear as a great spirit. The Pomo Tribe must be considered one of the great Bear Clans of the Indian Nations. The Elem band even talks of a Bear Totem they had outside their dance hall and a special dance they performed in tribute to this sacred animal. After performing this dance, they would fade into the brush. It is said the bear would come down from the hills and dance around the Elem Totem on its hind legs. The so-called Shamanic practice of shape changing is also done in bear form, which allows the practitioner the ability to cover great distances in short order.

The late Lake County Historian, Henry Mauldin, claimed that a large part of the land at the southern end of Clear lake was off limits to the Pomo people. It was considered too dangerous to pass through except by Tule boat.

An area above the North Shore, around Bartlett Springs, had a few caves that were often occupied by bears. Local pioneers cemented the entrances to these caves shut so the bears could no longer congregate there.

The great John Bidwell also spoke in his memoirs of the times before the Gold Rush when he would visit with the various tribes of northern California. He was known to carry a severed bears paw with him on one excursion, which impressed the natives no end.

To enjoy more of Genes writing and read his books, visitGenes website;

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The Man-Eater part 3 - Lake County Record-Bee

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