DREADFUL EXPERIENCE WITH PANTHER
By S. C. Turnbo
The following short stories are given to show the experience of settlers
with panther while the ferocious beasts were creeping on them.
John Ross furnished the writer with this story. "William Allbright
and a nephew of Allbrights of the name of Tom Officer, the latter
of which was a lad of a boy, while hunting one day on Terrapin Creek, a
tributary of Long Creek In Carroll County, Arkansas, came to a large boulder.
Allbright passed around on one side of it and the boy on the other. Just
before they met on the opposite side of the rock from where they parted
the boy cried out, "Uncle Billy, something is trying to catch me."
Allbright turning around saw his nephew walking around toward him with an
enormous panther following just behind him in a creeping and crouching manner
for a spring on the boy. Allbright lost no time in aiming his rifle at the
beast and shot it down."
Marion Woods, son of James M. and Mary (Robertson) Wood, says he was
born in Madison County, Ark., in June, 1860, and lived there until he was
15 years old and then came to East Sugar Loaf Creek in Boone County. Mr.
Woods says that while he was quite a youngster he and his uncle Jim Robertson
went one day toward Eagle River to fish with bank hooks. Mr. Robertson also
took his rifle along. Arriving at the river they took a position on a large
rock which hung over the water. A big log lay on the hillside above them.
The tree had fallen toward the rock and the top end lay in a few feet of
it. "While we were waiting for a nibble from a fish, I heard a slight
noise. Looking up toward the log I beheld a large animal crawling toward
us on the log. I whispered, "Look yonder, uncle, what is that?"
Robertson turned his head toward the log and replied, "Its a
panther. You be quiet and Ill shoot it." The animal was now in
30 feet of us. Uncle Jim did not rise to his feet, but after picking up
his rifle turned and faced the panther, which kept creeping along slowly
toward us. When my uncle fired the great long beast tumbled off the log
and after quivering a few moments lay still. Our love for the sport of fishing
was now cooled and we soon vacated the rock."
The following narrative was given me by Captain A. S. Wood of Bingdon
Springs, Marion County, Ark., and shows the dangers and risks hunters underwent
while North Arkansas was infested with panther. Capt. Wood relates an account
of an exciting adventure of Steve Treat who then lived in Madison County,
Ark. Berry Treat, his brother, lived on Buffalo. Steve was a robust, healthy
man and a ravenous eater. He appeared to be always hungry. "A few years
after the occurrence I am going to relate to you." said Capt. Wood,
"he removed to Crooked Creek seven miles below Yellville. While living
here he went to Yellville one day and purchased a side of bacon and started
home with it. But it is told that he got so hungry before he reached home
that he stopped and devoured the entire side of bacon before appeasing his
appetite. But whether this is correct or not I am not going to say, but
I was told it was true. When he lived in Madison County, he went to Buffalo
on a visit to see his brother, Berry Treat. While there he would hunt during
the day and remain overnight at his brothers house. Steve delighted
to hunt and lost no time killing all the game he could. He possessed a peculiar
homemade instrument that he used in calling up deer. He had made it of wood
and a piece of tin and called it his "blater" because the noise
made on it resembled the bleating of a fawn so close that an expert hunter
could hardly distinguish it from the bleating of a real fawn. One day while
he was rambling around in the creek bottom in searching game he sat down
on the end of a log to rest. He had failed to find anything worth shooting.
He had no dog with him and depended on his eyes, ears and "blater"
to discover game. He was tired and he wanted to rest his weary self on the
log and blate for a deer with his "blater". So after seating himself
on the log he applied the device to his mouth and began calling for a deer.
He blew on it several minutes but not a deer responded. He went on blowing
his "blater". stopping at short intervals to watch and listen
for the approach of game, but he could not see nor hear any coming, This
was strange for he knew the valley of Buffalo River was overrun with deer.
As he went on bleating and listening he heard a slight noise nearby. At
this a delightful thought struck him, for he supposed it was a doe coming
on the hunt for her fawn, but when he turned his head to see the deer. he
was startled at the sight of a panther crouched on the other end of the
log swaying its tail and crawling toward him. The hunter dropped his "blater"
instantly and quickly turned the muzzle of his rifle toward the stealthy
form of the panther and aimed at its head and pulled the trigger. A sharp
report rang out and a leaden ball, buried itself between the eyes, crushing
the skull and bursting both eyeballs out and the huge panther rolled off
the log to the ground and died without a struggle. The dreaded animal was
just in the act of springing on him when he fired at it, but the fatal bullet
from the unerring rifle put an end to its career."
"A number of years,ago" . remarked Peter Baughman, "there
was a pond of water on Sugar Orchard in Boone Co. Ark, known among the hunters
as "Big Pond". During the settlement of Crooked Creek, this pond
was a conspicuous place for deer. I was told by those who were here before
my arrival here in 1840 that numbers of deer were shot at this locality.
One day in the month of August, 1843, I and my father went to the vicinity
of this pond on a camp hunt. Sugar Orchard Creek looked wild then. Tall
grass, lots of deer, numbers of bee trees, bear, panther and wolves. The
first night out a panther cried out every now and then close to our camping
place. It screamed until nearly the break of day when it left. I heard it
scream while it was passing over a low hill. Then it quit hallooing. We
ate breakfast about sunrise. While partaking of our forest fare the subject
of the panther was discussed between me and father, who jokingly remarked
that it was not a panther we heard, "but a catamount, wild cat, or
more than likely it was a night hawk," said he, but I knew better and
so did he. Soon after sunrise we left camp in opposite directions on our
days hunt. Being a little nettled at fathers remark about what
we heard that night I went in the direction I heard the panther leave that
morning. But I walked very slow and cautious and kept a close lookout for
the beast. After I had got over the hill just mentioned I saw the glimpse
of something in the grass that I took for a fawn. I stopped and looked around
for the doe but she was nowhere in sight. Then I looked again toward the
spot where I supposed the little deer was, but it was gone, and I began
to search around for it. While I was occupied at this I was startled by
a strange noise behind me. Wheeling around to ascertain the cause I was
confronted by a panther crouching for a spring at me in 12 feet of where
I stood. There was no time for debating and leveling my gun at it as soon
as possible I fired on it. An instant later the great beast sprang at me
and struck the ground at my feet. The horrifying looking creature frightened
me terrible and without the least hesitation I turned and fled like a scared
buck. I imagined the panther was pursuing me, I could feel the hair of my
head standing out straight. Cold perspiration broke out all over my body,
but this did not prevent me from running. I yelled for father as I ran.
I took no time to look back but went on running and hallooing. I have no
idea how far I would have run, but I halted when I came near running over
my father who had heard me raise my voice so loud after I had shot and was
approaching to find out what was the matter with me. Meeting my father brought
me back to my right mind and as soon as I could catch my breath, I told
him about my narrow escape from the panther and we both went back to the
place where I had shot at it. The animal had disappeared. but father put
his dog on its trail which lead off in an opposite direction from which
I had run. The grass was stained with blood which proved that the panther
was bad disabled by my bullet. The dog after following it a mile or more
overhauled it, but before we could reach them the panther whipped the dog
and he left the beast and came meeting us badly used up and blood was trickling
from his wounds. We went on to where the dog and panther had fought. The
grass was trampled down and sprinkled with blood. We followed on after the
panther by its blood to a big hollow log where we found two young panther
lying in a bed in the log and killed them. We turned back here without going
any further on the old ones trail. But a few days after this while
Luke Marlor was hunting in this same locality he found a dead panther lying
near the log where we captured the little panthers. Mr. Marlor said it had
been shot and we supposed it was the same one I had shot and wounded."
July 10, l902
Springfield-Greene County Library