AMONG THE WILD TURKEY AND DEER
By S. C. Turnbo
On the 25th day of June, 1906, I interviewed Mr. George Beasley, who was living with his son-in-law, Jim Yocum, who lived a short distance from the Oak Grove school house and a few miles northeast of Oneta Post Office, Indian Territory. Mr. Beasley said he was born in Franklin County, Tenn., April 26, 1816, and was 90 years, one month and 29 days old when I met him. Mr. Beasley said that after leaving Tennessee he went to Illinois where he lived several years in Franklin County where he married and he and his wife came to Ozark County, Mo., in the early fifties and settled on the divide between Bryants Fork and Bryants Spring Creek where he built a log cabin six miles from Rock Bridge. In giving a few names of settlers who lived in that locality then Mr. Beasley mentions Wash Smith, Mart Smith, Billy Williams, Nathan Herrington, Steve Herrington, Amos Welch and Henry Green. "When I settled there," said Mr. Beasley, "it seemed there was no end to wild turkeys. It appeared there were a thousand of them in the biggest flocks but there might have not been that many. I recollect one fall season when I was plowing in wheat the turkey came into the field so numerously that I kept my children In the field to scare them out to prevent them from picking up the grains of wheat before it was covered with dirt by the plow. I enjoyed the sport of killing deer while I lived in Ozark County. I recollect of killing 48 of them during the run of one year with my old muzzle loading rifle I called Seelie. Many of the hollow were prairie then and I could see deer a long distance. I remember making a deer lick one day at the foot of a lone post oak tree and made a platform up in the tree which rested on the limbs where I sat of nights when the moon shone bright and shot many deer from this tree. One day I established another lick on the extreme head of Barren Fork some six miles north of the Bald Jess Hill. I made this lick in a few feet of a large post oak tree that the limbs spread out wide from the trunk of the tree. I did not make a platform in this tree but I used a large pillow made of wild turkey feathers that I placed on a large limb of the tree to sit on. I shot more than 100 deer from this tree. This tree died during the great Civil War and the settlers told it in a jocular way that I killed the tree sitting in it so much watching for deer. When we first settled between the two Bryant Creeks some of the settlers instructed their children to destroy all the wild turkey eggs they could find to prevent them from hatching. They claimed wild turkeys were a nuisance instead of a blessing and when the children would find a nest of eggs they would get on the nest and crush the eggs with their bare feet. I would not permit my children to do this for I was convinced that wild turkeys would be very scarce some day and the people would be glad to have them back again. When the war commenced we would conceal a small amount of provision at a time in caves and keep just enough in the house to barely live on. Sarah Plasters, who lived with us, was a great help to myself and wife in wartimes in assisting us in hiding our corn and meat to prevent it from being stolen. This went on until the war became so hot that we could not stay at home in safety and left our home in Ozark County and went back to Franklin County, Illinois. We had raised a good wheat and corn crop that year and we had beat out several bushels of wheat with flails, but we were compelled to leave home in such haste that we had to leave this wheat and our corn crop in the field and part of our household that we could not haul with us in the wagon and that was the last of what we left on the place. We were forced to flee from trouble and danger."
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