"Old Ephraim"
19th century depiction of a Grizzly Bear from Popular Science Monthly Volume 6 (1874-75)
Public Domain19th century depiction of a Grizzly Bear from Popular Science Monthly Volume 6 (1874-75) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Old Ephraim was a name, dating back to the early 1800s, used by hunters, prospectors and mountain men for the Grizzly Bear. It carried the same meaning as 'the Devil', although the origin of the name remains a mystery.

The name Old Ephraim has since become largely associated with a legendary grizzly bear (also known as ‘Old Three Toes’) that roamed the Cache National Forest (Idaho and Utah) until it was killed on 22 August 1923.

It is unlikely McCarthy had this particular Old Ephraim in mind, however, given the geographical location and the fact that its appearance in Blood Meridian would make the bear over 70 years old upon its death in 1923 (Grizzly Bears live for 30 years in the wild at the very most).