Left for Dead

Frontiersman Hugh Glass Came out of the Jaws of a Grizzly, Alive

Sep 1, 2004
Outside Magazine

In 1823, Glass signed on with a crew of trappers heading up the Missouri River to Fort Henry, in southwestern Montana. Halfway to their destination, Glass, who was about 40, was tracking game when he stumbled upon a mother grizzly and two cubs. The bear reared up and dug her teeth into him, ripping off huge chunks of his flesh. His companions came down the path and shot the six-foot bear through the skull, and the animal collapsed on Glass. The hunters, thinking there was no way the man could live through the night, made him a bed out of a buffalo hide and waited for him to die. But the next morning, Glass was still breathing. The mission leader, Major Andrew Henry, decided that the trappers needed to move out of hostile Arikara Indian land and paid two men to stay with Glass in his final hours. But he held on. After three days, the men abandoned the unconscious trapper, taking his knife and gun.

Glass awoke and found himself alone and unable to walk. He began to crawl the 100 miles back to Fort Kiowa, through the heart of Arikara country. Inch by inch, Glass, who as a young man had learned from the Pawnee Indians how to live off the land, dragged himself through the scrub, getting strength by eating wild fruit and meat from the carcass of a buffalo calf killed by wolves. After six months, he shambled into Fort Kiowa and resumed life as a trapper. Ten years later, during a trip along the Yellowstone River, he was killed by an Arikara Indian.

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