Old Ephraim

Story Behind The Song

One day while riding on horseback through the area where Old Ephraim was killed, I thought up most of the lyrics.

Song Description

A true story about a huge grizzly bear that roamed the Cache National Forest of northern Utah and southeast Idaho in the early 1900s. His skull was on display in the Smithsonian Institution for a time, it is now at Utah State University. In the forest at

Song Length 4:17 Genre Country - General, Country - Cowboy
Tempo Medium (111 - 130) Lead Vocal Male Vocal
Mood Composed, Nervous Subject Wild Animals, Region
Similar Artists The Charlie Daniels Band, Kris Kristofferson Language English
Era 1920 - 1929


1st Verse

Back in 1923, in the summer you could see
Great flocks of sheep in the Cache hills
But their numbers kept droppin', there just was no stoppin'
A bear that loved to kill
Old Ephraim was his name, he didn't care much for game
But he sure took a fancy to lamb
He was a crafty old bear, and he didn't really care
To frequent the haunts of man
Also known as Three Toes, so the story goes
He once pulled them off in a trap
The continual raids on the sheep he made
Put his tracks all over the map
So he roamed Logan Canyon with wild abandon
Always in search of a lamb
And the crafty old bear met his match that year
In a special kind of a man
The man's name was Frank Clark, and he didn't give a lark
About a murderin' grizzly bear
But one thing was clear, and from his friends he'd often hear
The advice they all had to share

1st Chorus

Better watch what you're doin' if you're gonna get that bruin
And Frank, you'd better beware
Shoot straight if you can, he's afraid of no man
He's the king of the grizzly bears

2nd Verse

Way up in trrail hollow there were tracks at a wallow
Old Ephraim would be back again
So Frank set the steel jaws that would hold his mighty paws
And turned in about a quarter to ten
The fire died to a spark, then the dog began to bark
Then they heard the old grizzly roar
Frank knew he had him caught, and now the very thought
Just chilled him to the core
So he grabbed his rifle, and he probably looked a trifle
Silly in his underwear
But his clothes didn't matter when he heard those chains clatter
In the still of the midnight air
And now Frank Clark was alone in the dark
Tryin' to settle a score with this bear
Who was after his hide, either one could have died
So he muttered a silent prayer

2nd Chorus

Oh Lord, if you can hear me, I'm gonna need you near me
I've got to fight, I can't run
Help me to be ready, help me hold the barrel steady
When Ephraim's in the sights of my gun

3rd Verse

As Frank neared the commotion, he got a strong notion
He should back off, and wait for more light
He was filled with dread, 'cause he knew he'd be dead
If he couldn't line him up in his sights
When dawn finally came, Frank would never be the same
He was transfixed by what he saw
Ephraim stood ten feet tall, the trap, chain and all
Was wrapped around his three-toed paw
Six shots rang out, Old Ephraim spun about
Then the dog bit him on the flank
And with the seventh round, he finally hit the ground
And the only one standin' was Frank
Frank stood there and shivered, Ephraim gave one last quiver
In his death throes, eyes locked in a stare
And Frank's knees buckled and he skinned his knuckles
As he fell down beside the great bear
And he couldn't help but wonder what made Ephraim blunder
This time, and he felt some regret
'Cause he knew in his mind he was the last of his kind
And the toughest foe he'd ever met

3rd Chorus

So this man named Frank said a word of thanks
And he made himself a vow
He'd never shoot another bear, whether here or there
Black, grizzly, boar or sow


And so the story's told by the young and by the old
Around campfires in the dark
And though Ephraim's long gone, in our minds he lives on
When the fire dies to a spark

Lyrics Chris W. Mortensen Music Chris W. Mortensen
Producer Chris W. Mortensen Publisher South Canyon Music
Performance Chris W. Mortensen, Joe Sorenson, Mary Jo Hanses Label Chris W. Mortensen
This track is on 1 Member Playlists
Playlist Creator Playlist Name Date Added
Alphamike My Top Songs 9/16/2021

Other Songs By Chris Mortensen

The Best Things in Life Aren't Things
Country - Traditional
Plays: 167
See Him See It
Country - General
Plays: 98
The Phone Psychic
Country - Boogie
Plays: 78
You Can Lean on Me
Country - General
Plays: 230
Drugstore Cowboy
Country - General
Plays: 109
Send Me
Country - General
Plays: 39
Last Light on the Rails
Country - Traditional
Plays: 25
Analog Cowboy (in a digital world)
Country - General
Plays: 54
Return of the Wolf
Country - Rock
Plays: 40
She Still Turns My Head
Country - Rock
Plays: 41
View All Songs
Clean Clean

Clean Clean

Artist Name
00:00 / 00:00