The bear was dead. He had been dead long before we left the hill the second time. But in the moments before he died he had made one last effort to strike back. Retracing his path, we realized that our own haste in rushing into the thicket had turned him in our direction. This carelessness had taken us within 10 feet of disaster.
He was a trophy of magnificent proportions. The hide squared out at more than nine feet; his skull, on which a record is determined, qualified him well within the record class; and the pad on his hind paw was a startling 8� by 12 inches in area.
I will not hunt another grizzly, because now I have shot one; but I class this animal with only two others—the elephant and the African buffalo—in the aristocracy of big game. I don't know if it is the size or the danger of the beasts which make these three so memorable. But I do know that in my encounters with each, more than in any others, I have been conscious of an absolute experience, an intense, consuming, dramatic involvement which demanded and received greater concentration than I have ever felt anywhere.
Alaska is still an unconquered land. It is wild and rough and dangerous. Statehood has given it the badge of belonging but nature has placed it apart. There is adventure for the sportsman here, richer and more fulfilling than anywhere else on the continent, but it is not given away cheaply, either in money or in effort. It must be earned—but it is rarely forgotten.