Tuesday, March 19, 2013


It is customary in the fall season to have what is called bear hunts in the Dismal Swamp, and parties are frequently made up to go on such hunts. Before going it is necessary that some preparation should be made. Bear hunting is very dangerous, and is sometimes attended with difficulty. Before starting you should provide yourself with a cowboy suit, a good rifle, a pair of revolvers, a bowie knife (16 inch blade) and sub-marine armor. When thus equipped you can enter the Swamp. You proceed cautiously along listening to hear the bears lapping, when you go in the direction of the sound. Bears

Bear Family in the Dismal Swamp

move very cautiously, and you should be sure to keep a good lookout in your rear, as it sometimes happens that when you are going forward a drove of them are following you, and when least expected they make the attack, and if the parties should be the least separated, it often happens that all perish. I was told of a party that were out on a bear hunt in the Dismal Swamp, who supposed that they could face anything. The party consisted of eight good men. They had not proceeded very far in the Swamp when they heard in the distance the lapping of bears. Of course it is very exciting, and if one has any courage he is apt to show it at the time. A halt was made and the question asked, what should be done? They were not thinking of the danger that surrounded them. They did not think that bears were on their path. But it was too late. Whilst discussing what to do they were sprung upon from the rear, and six were badly lacerated, one rode off on the back of a bear and the last one retreated to the Lake for safety. Should you at any time go to the Dismal Swamp to hunt bears be exceedingly careful to have your rear well guarded.


The Dismal Swamp is located in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, between Elizabeth City, NC and Norfolk, VA. It includes parts of Camden, Gates and Pasquotank Counties in NC. When it was first discovered, the swamp may have encompassed as much as 1,000,000 acres, but after centuries of logging, which devastated the area's ecosystems, it is now about half that size. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1974. It encompasses  about 112,000 acres with Lake Drummond, a 3,100 fresh water lake, in the middle of it.

[Taken from The Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond, EarlyRecollections, by Robert Arnold: Norfolk,VA; Green,Burke & Gregory, Printers, 1888.]

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