Bear Tales: The Sharp Twins Part II

May 29, 2014 |


Bear hunting is a long running tradition in the mountains along US 219. It started more than 200 years ago, when the farmers began running sheep on their hill farms and the native black bear discovered a new food source. In the old days the mountains rang with the baying of dogs on a bear track, but the hunt was different then. Only a handful of hunters were willing to brave the laurel thickets, but those who did became the stuff of legends. In this fourth installment of bear tales, Christine Wilfong, Paul Sharp, Tommy Sharp, Vivian Biggs, and Randy Sharp return to tell us about the lighter side of the Sharp twin’s legacy.  This is the second part of a two part story. Listen to part one here.


Austin and Oscar with some fellow hunters after a successfully taking down a sheep killing bear. The hunters are gathered around the jeep mentioned in Tommy’s story, their hunting vehicle for a number of years

“Two of the most famous bear hunters in Pocahontas County, the Sharp twins, Oscar and Austin, exhibited a passion and talent for the chase which was pivotal to the survival of the sheep farmers in the area. However, there was room for laughter on their hunts. The brothers’ sense of humor and appreciation of innocent thrives in the memories and hearts of their children, nieces, and nephews.”

Christine: They would set up a camp. One time they killed a big bear and there was a big burly guy that hunted with them and he had a pair of red, flannel underwear. They took those underwear and put them up on that bear and when he came back to camp that’s what he saw.

Randy: There used to be a bunch of boys that hung around Oscar’s with Martin and them. They talked one of them into putting a bear hide on and scarring some young pups they had. Well he got there and started messing with the pups and one of the old dogs was loose and he come around the corner to see what the young ones was barking at. When he went to biting on him, he tried to run back in the house, but Martin and them held the door on them and wouldn’t let him back in.

Tommy: They wanted me to go with them over the burned off top and go hunting with them one day. So I decided, well we’ll just be gone for a half a day. I eat a small breakfast and did not take any lunch. Been in there all day the snow was about eighteen inches deep and us wading around in it and when we started back out of there I was so hungry I could hardly see straight. Aunt Margaret had been canning beets. Their garden was up on the hill above the house and she’d taken the jeep up there and gotten beets in there and brought them down. She’d worked them all up except one and I was in the back seat of that jeep and I happened to spy that raw beet under the seat. I eat that beet. I was so hungry. I still don’t eat beets to this day.


Tootsie: one lucky bear cub.

Christine: Dad and Austin went hunting and they killed a sheep killer and then they found two cubs in a tree. So we had one of those bears, her name was Tootsie. Mom let the little bear suckle on a cloth dipped in milk and then it graduated to a bottle. The bear, I think, just thought she was a member of the clan. When we took a nap I can remember the blue couch that folded out into a bed. So us four kids when we took a nap Tootsie would lay down fold her arms over her chest, and she took her nap with us. A couple times she would run off. Well she would get up there in the woods and cry a little bit. Dad would track her down, but as long as dad was there she wouldn’t come down. So mom would have to come up. That bear would fly down that tree, wrap its arms around her neck and around her waist and she could bring it off the hill then. But the bear got to growing and they gave her to a couple in the upper end, Greenbank. Mom said when that bear left she could hear it as it went up the road: “Maw! Maw!” She said it just broke her heart, but you know there was nothing she could do. But those people called mom when that bear passed away.


Category: Bear Tales, History, Marlinton to Lewisburg, Stories, Stories & Legends

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