Colorado Hunter: Paying homage to ‘Bear Bill’ |

Colorado Hunter: Paying homage to ‘Bear Bill’

Dan Olsen/For Colorado Hunter
The tombstone of noted bear hunter William Harvey.
Courtesy Photo

Have some extra time after your hunt? Visit the cemetery in Steamboat Springs to pay your respects to “Bear Bill,” a Civil War veteran who likely tallied more bear kills than most Northwest Colorado hunters combined.

William E. Harvey killed so many bears in Routt County that he was affectionately known throughout the Yampa Valley as “Bear Bill.” His tombstone in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery proudly claims 56 kills in his 75 years of life, before his death on Sept. 14, 1914.

“That’s definitely a pretty impressive number,” says local hunter Cedar Beauregard. “Although I did hear of a sheep hunter up north who said he had more than 100.”

Making Harvey’s feat even more impressive is that Harvey was wounded in his left eye and leg, likely at Shiloh, when serving as a Kentucky Volunteer with the Union Army during the Civil War. According to an 1890 census, his enlistment was August 6, 1861, serving in the 2nd Regiment of Company A in the cavalry.

In the 1880s, Harvey homesteaded on what is now the Brenner Ranch near Steamboat. Hunting into his 70s, Harvey averaged nearly two bears each year for his thirty years of hunting, despite his war injuries. His obituary listed him as an unmarried rancher, hunter, and soldier.