Not long ago while preaching at Shady Grove I saw a very large black dog that resembled a black bear. After mentioning this to the congregation it has been difficult to keep folks inside the building. I will admit to glancing outside during the service myself.
After talking about the bears I was reminded of a bear story coming out of Calhoun County many years ago. I went to work and read the bear story from the archives of The Monitor Herald. Two of the participants Mr. Mort Hipp and Mr. Will Hipp are my great uncles. Having seen two cats that certainly are not native to Calhoun I have decided that maybe it is a family tradition. I hope you enjoy the story.
The Monitor, Pittsboro, Calhoun Co.
Thursday, June 23, 1910
An Exciting Bear Chase
“Mr. Editor I want to tell you about our bear chase which happened north of Banner in Calhoun
County. On last Friday morning Mr. C.B. Lagrone took his shovel and walked off to the field to open up some drain ditches and was at work at the end of the rows of cotton on his place. He heard something running through the muddy ground and whirled round and behold there was a great black bear running off toward the creek.
The bear had slipped up within 75-yards of him and when he saw Mr. Lagrone he whirled and ran off. Mr. Lagrone watched him until he went out of sight then he made his way up to Mr. Aron Hillhouse’s to a phone and called up Messrs. Mort Hipp to come with gun and dogs.
Strange to say at that time out of six families and ten dogs, there could not be one started. But with the use of the phone by ten o’clock we had the fun started.
The dogs not being used to running bear, did not take the track very readily, but by working with them some time they took up the trail and of all the fun we had it. For three hours or more he circled and back tracked on about 160-acres of land. At last he started west with 75 men and boys with guns and axes and about 30 dogs behind him. He stayed out of the way for two or three miles.
At last Will Hillhouse on foot with the dogs put him up a tree. Mr. Will asked him to come down and on being refused he set out to Mr. Finn’s to borrow a gun and when he got back John Arnold had come up and shot him out and he whipped out the dogs and ran about a half a mile and took another tree.
By this time a lot of men came up and among them was Wess Berry and his dog Fiddler. They decided to shoot his eyes out. John Arnold and Wess Berry were selected to do the shooting and both shot at once and out came Bruin 40-feet to the ground among the men and dogs.
As soon as he struck the ground, a noted dog belonging to Will Hipp ran up and grabbed him and the bear caught him in a hug and nearly smashed the life out of him. Then followed the march back to Mr. Lagrone’s where he was weighed, dressed and sawed into small bits of meat and divided among 50 or more men and boys.
They all decided that, as Mr. Lagrone had been scared out of his own hide, he should have the bear hide. The bear weighed 112-pounds which was not nearly as large as some descriptions given after the bear was killed.
Now, Mr. Editor, if there is any of your readers who think that this is just to fill up the paper, tell them to come to Mr. Lagrone’s and see the hide.”
The story has been told among the families over and over. It is a gory story and if a bear were to the sighted today their method is not the one to use. The Mississippi Game and Fish Commission should be notified and let them handle the bear perhaps as the one in Horn Lake was handled about two years ago.
Personally I think it would be fun to see a bear in the rural areas just as long as it was not too close. Running would do little good because they can move at a rather fast pace. Climbing a tree would not be the answer because they too can climb and I am very sure much better than I.
But if I started up the tree I think I would pray the prayer included in an old country song, The Preacher and the Bear, recorded by Ray Stevens and many others, “Lord if you can’t help me, for goodness sake don’t help that bear.”
I hope you enjoyed the bear story. By the way the paw of the bear is still in the family and at times displayed at family reunions. It remains a popular item.
Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an is Pastor of Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board and presently serves as President of the Board. Contact him at P.O. Box 337, Bruce, MS or email@example.com