Hall Remembers . . .
Old Ponto vs. the Grim Reaper
Court Hall Remembers---
(Recollections of Jackson County Sporting Events by Veteran Sportsman.)Old Ponto has been mentioned in several of my "old-time stories," and although I have in mind a number of other interesting adventures of this brave old dog, I have decided at this time to give his final adventure.
I knew Old Ponto well. He was always surly toward me unless I had a gun on my shoulder, then he was up and eager to go. During his hunting career of nine years he must have treed sixty cougars and more than one hundred bears. His sagacity and experience carried him many times out of danger. There was no trick in the hunting business he did not know. In many a contest he came out wounded and bloody, but never hurt to the extent of serious injury. Yet with all his acuteness and cunning he died in the huge arms of a cinnamon bear.
By accident Old Ponto got poisoned when he was almost 10 years old. After several weeks of illness he began slowly to recover and try to follow his master about. In his weakened condition Beale would not allow the dog to accompany him on his hunting trips. One day George tied Old Ponto up with a rope and struck out for a little hunt. After his master left, Old Ponto chewed the rope in two and followed Beale's track. Knowing that he would be sent back if he showed up too soon, Old Ponto did not appear until his master was two miles from home. George knew that Old Ponto, in his weakened condition, should not be subjected to any chance encounters, but he still continued on his way. When they were about a mile farther on the dog pricked up his ear, gave a couple of light yelps, and made down a hill toward a small flat about two hundred and fifty yards away. Beale heard him give several loud barks and then not another sound. He supposed that Ponto had not found anything of importance, so he took his way leisurely down the hill and suddenly came into the flat, where he was surprised and startled to see a huge cinnamon bear standing on his hind legs with Old Ponto clasped in a tight embrace. The dog was almost at the end of his strength, but his dominant spirit still endured. With one side of his head lacerated and chewed almost beyond belief, he held his teeth clamped tight on the side of the old bear's head. Around this terrific struggle stood two little cubs only dimly aware of the tragedy being enacted there.
Beale had a repeating gun. He stepped up close to the bear with his gun and kept reloading until he had shot the bear 11 times. When the bear fell, Old Ponto gave a few gasps and was dead. Beale was outraged over the tragic death of his dog and almost beside himself with grief and remorse for allowing the dog to follow him before he had fully recovered from his poisoning. So angry was he that he turned and clubbed the cubs to death with his gun, breaking the stock completely off from the barrel. He buried Old Ponto in a shallow grave and left for home without even attempting to skin the huge cinnamon.
Beale related Old Ponto's death to me several times, but never without showing how deeply he was affected over the untimely death of one of the bravest dogs that ever lived.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 4, 1930, page 6
Last revised September 2, 2009