Old Ephraim vs. Frank Clark
The story told by the sheepherders niece
A number of accounts exist of the tale of Old Ephraim. This
one comes from Thelma Daniels of Malad, Idaho, a niece of Frank
Clark. In 1952, Clark, then 73 related the story to Daniels daughter
Lenore for a college paper.
As a sheepherder, Clark had ongoing problems with bears killing
livestock. During his 34-year career, he trapped and killed 43
bears. He first encountered Old Ephraim in 1913 and tried unsuccessfully
for years to trap the grizzly at his wallow, or bathing pool,
in Logan Canyon.
Year after year, Ephraim would lift the
trap out of the pool without setting it off. In the summer of
1923, the trap was sprung, but the bear avoided it and made himself
a new wallow. So Clark placed his trap in the new pool.
On the night of August 23, Clark recalled, "I was awakened
by a strange sound upstream, an awful roar and scream of mingled
pain and anger. It would ring around the hills and between screams
it seemed that everything was listening for the next one."
The sheepherder got up to investigate, thinking a horse might
be down. He walked out of the camp wearing his long underwear
and shoes - and toting his .25-.35 rifle.
Somewhere in the dark, he passed the animal, for the next
roar he heard was between him and camp. He decided to wait out
the night. When daylight came, Clark discovered for certain the
animal was a bear. He found the animal in some willows in a deep
wash and he was "plenty mad." Clark couldn't see
him well so he got a long pole and tried to poke him out. Ephraim
gave Clark the slip and hid in some short willows.
"I got sight of a little piece of bear hide,", Clark
said, "and shot into it. And now Ephraim stood up in all
his greatness, 9 feet 11 inches with a 14-foot-long chain wound
around his right foreleg and a 23 pound bear trap held up like
a man taking an oath ... He turned and walked towards
me, confused, angry, and hurt. When (he was) within 10 feet,
I came to, for I had never saw such a monstrous bear in all my
life. I raised my gun and fired. He staggered back, then came
on. I fired four more shots, each staggering him back and still
he came on, standing up on his hind feet holding the chain with
the trap on his paw."
With only one shot left and feeling "most helpless,"
Clark turned to run down the canyon.
"As I turned back to see Old Ephraim still following,
I saw my dog sneaking up behind the bear, and as Old Eph turned
to protect his heels, I turned back for Old Eph was badly hurt
now and blood was squirting from both nostrils, but because he
was game to the last, I was able to get close and fired my last
shot into his head or neck and down he went."
"I sat and watched Old Eph's game spirit depart
from that great body, and it seemed to take a long time but at
last he raised his head just a mite, gasped and was still."
"Old Eph was such a magnificent specimen, I was not too
happy after killing him, and if I had it to do over again, I
wouldn't do it."
After the kill Clark had "a desire to see another human
being", so he went back to camp, dressed, then rode to Joe
Browns camp at Sheep Creek. He told Brown about the bear
and asked him to go back to camp with him.
"When we got to Ephraim, Joe was not too enthused about
getting off his horse. He finally did, and we skinned (the bear).
We couldn't drag him away from the creek so I burned him
for three days and then buried what was left."