WOLVES INVADE A DEER LICK
By S. C. Turnbo
The following old time sketch was given me by Mr. William A. Eoff, a
pioneer of Crooked Creek in what was once known as Carroll County, Arkansas,
but now cut off into Boone County.
It has been already stated in another sketch that Uncle Billy came to
that section when but very few were living there, and when he gets into
a reminiscent mood it is entertaining to listen to his old time stories.
His hair and beard have grown white from age and he is quite feeble. One
day while talking of wolves he said, "This reminds me of the early
settlement of Crooked Creek when they were so numerous there and on Buffalo
that they destroyed sheep and hogs by wholesale and left the retail slaughter
for other animals to do. They were so destructive to domestic animals that
a bounty of five dollars was paid for every wolf in that section. The settlers
shot and poisoned them at every opportunity. A few built pens constructed
of logs and set with large stout triggers. They kept these wolf pens well
baited and large numbers were trapped in this manner. But the most successful
method of catching wolves was by means of a natural pit on Wells Creek
which flows into Buffalo from the north side. The cave is in Newton County,
Arkansas, and goes down between perpendicular rock walls for 40 feet; it
is about 8 feet long and 6 feet wide. The settlers covered the mouth of
the cavern with poles and placed a trap door over the center of the opening
and kept fresh meat on it.
When a wolf or other animal stepped on the door it swung down and the
intruder was hurled to the bottom below. In most cases they were killed
outright from the fall. From this account you can imagine how numerous and
troublesome these obnoxious animals were to us.
"Now," said this old gray headed veteran settler, as a beam
of bright recollection flitted through his mind, "I am going to tell
you a little incident that may chance to be of some interest.
"Near the head of Wells Creek is a tall hill called Pinnacle Mountain.
Near this high eminence was once a noted deer lick which embraced about
¾ of an acre of land. Large numbers of deer frequented there day
and night, and settlers and wolves went there too to obtain venison. It
was sometimes the case that hunters, wolves and deer met there together
and a disturbance followed. In the course of time the settlers built a stone
tower several feet high with a small room inside and port holes through
the wall to shoot through. A platform of rocks was prepared on top where
a good light was kept of dark nights. The tower was 40 yards from the edge
of the lick. From the room mentioned where hunters were stationed hundreds
of deer were shot from time to time. One evening in 1842, Billy Eoff, an
uncle of mine, and Bill Stroud went to the lick. A large number of deer,
as usual, collected there after dark. At the report of the rifles the deer
would shy off a few steps, then return to the lick again.
"They killed 13 during the night but they did not all fall on the lick ground. A few ran 20 or 30 yards before they fell. The wolves did not molest the lick until just before day when a small gang approached and scared the remaining deer away. The wolves were ravenous and flew onto some of the dead deer that were lying on the lick ground. They made a great noise while devouring them. They fought, growled and gnashed their teeth together. The hunters as they viewed them in the zone of firelight, through the port holes in the tower, fairly quailed with fear. They dared not shoot at them for fear other wolves would come and make a combined attack on the tower and pull it down and then attack the hunters. Thus they looked on at the destruction of their game. As day was breaking the wolves got their fill and departed without thanking the hunters for the grand feast of venison they had enjoyed. But Stroud and Eoff were glad to see the wolves go away without thanks and did not sally forth from their concealment until broad daylight, and then found that there was hardly a remnant left of three of the deer and some of the remaining ones were so mutilated that their hides were ruined."
Springfield-Greene County Library