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Ben Lilly: Bears, Blades & Contradictions
The cascading notes of Ol’ Lilly’s hunting horn were some of the signature sounds by which he was known, as peculiar to the man as the recognizable songs of his mixed-breed dogs. It could be said that throughout his life, he was a man more relaxed and intimate with wild places and his faithful, panting canines than with any friend or wife.
Benjamin Lilly was one of the greatest hunters and most fascinating characters of the quickly civilizing West. He dressed like a mountain man, preferred sleeping outdoors to a proffered room and bed, and would sometimes walk hundreds of miles in pursuit of a single elusive bear. From childhood hunts in the 1870s until his death in the latter part of the 1930s, Mr. Lilly was what we’d now call an “anachronism:” a man still inhabiting an earlier time– and in many ways, the last of his kind. Ben was an unrepentant atavist, a proud throwback, and a devout adherent to archaic ways of being that he believed to be more meaningful and heroic. Or at least more tolerable… and more vitally experienced!
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Benjamin Lilly was one of the greatest hunters and most fascinating characters of the Old West. He would walk hundreds of miles in pursuit of a single bear.
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