SEVERAL STORIES OF INTEREST AS TOLD BY AN OLD VETERAN
By S. C. Turnbo
Almost all the old timers of Boone County, Ark., knew Peter Baughman. He was one among the famed hunters of Crooked Creek and was born in Iron County, Mo., October 11, 1830. He is a son of Henry and Charity (Sutton) Baughman. His father died on Crooked Creek in 1882 and is buried in the Milum graveyard below Harrison. His mother died in Iron County, Mo., in 1864 and is buried in a graveyard two miles. south of Ironton. Mr. Baughman says that his parents arrived at Yellville, Ark., from Iron County, Mo., on the llth of October., 1840, when he was just ten years old. "Yellville was quite a small village then and I remember that circuit court was in session on the day of our arrival; court was held under a brush harbor and a big crowd was in attendance. The citizens had their rifles stacked around the harbor. My parents lived in Yellville awhile, then went on up Crooked Creek where they made a permanent location. Here in the fall of 1842 a big bunch of buffalo were discovered traveling up Crooked Creek. My father and John Sutton followed them and shot and killed two grown ones on Terrapin Creek, which empties into Long Creek below Carrolton. They followed the herd several miles west of here and killed two more, one of which was full grown and the other a calf. They would have pursued them further but they were afraid the Indians might interfere with them and both turned back." Among other things of his own experience in hunting Mr. Baughman tells the following. "Many years ago," said he, "I had quite an interesting time while viewing a bunch of deer once on Oregon Flat. I had a slow track dog with me which belonged to Sam Edmonson. I was leading the dog with a rope, one end of which was tied around the dogs neck. The other end was tied loosely around my waist. The deer were playing and running a circle. The sight of them was so interesting that I sat down and watched their antics and counted them as accurately as I could and found there were 31. I had often seen from four to ten in a bunch, but these were more than I had ever seen together before. They jumped and played in a most lively way. This herd of deer was the most fascinating forest scene I ever witnessed. The dog wanted to go in among them and he tugged vigorously at the rope to get free. I made him quiet down until a buck left the bunch and walked up near me and as I raised my gun to aim at him with the dog behind, the dog jerked at the rope and pulled me backward on the ground. As it happened the dog pulled loose from me and darted at the herd and they all scattered. The dog and deer soon passed from my view. I was now in a rage and determined to kill the dog on sight or when he came back. I sat there a long time holding my rifle ready to send a bullet into his brains the moment he returned back. But the dog did not put in an appearance for several hours. This saved his life, for by that time I was in a better humor and did not hurt him. The largest buck I ever killed was on Sugar Orchard Creek in the early 50s. After its hide was well dried and otherwise prepared for market I took it to Yellville and offered it for sale to Brice Milum who was one of the merchants there then. Milum suspected that something was not right about the hide and refused to buy it. I assured him that nothing was wrong about it. Finally after Jim Berry, another merchant there and Milum gave the hide a thorough examination, they agreed that there was nothing wrong with it and Milum bought it. Both merchants weighed it carefully and it tipped the scales at 13 pounds. I remember going out into the hills to kill a deer when I was 13 years old or in 1843 and shot at a yearling deer and knocked it down. Seeing that it was going to get on its feet again I ran to it and locked my arms around its neck to prevent its escape. The deer revived so fast that it kicked and surged so stout that I was compelled to release it. This broke me from trying to hug any more deer. Me and James Walker shot a buck one day at the same moment. The deer ran 3 /4 of a mile before the dog caught and killed it. Both balls had took effect, one of which had lodged in the heart. At another time while I was hunting alone, I saw a deer standing on the hillside above me, but did not notice any other deer when I shot at this one. But I missed it and killed another one further up on the side of the hill and on a line with the other deer from where I stood according to the elevation of ground I must have overshot the other deer about four feet. I will tell you of an incident of hunting now which may seem strange to you, but nevertheless it is true," said Mr. Baughman. "It happened over in Taney County, Mo. I and John Yandell were hunting in the hollow that empties into Elbow Creek opposite the old John Yandell residence. While me and Yandell were passing along together I noticed a fine doe standing in rifle range and I shot at her. She ran, but we knew she was badly crippled. We followed the trail and soon found the deer dead in a hollow stump. You need not quit writing and look doubtful at me for it is true. When I make it more plain, my account of this peculiar incident will not appear so unreasonable. The stump was very large and several feet high and had a wide opening at the ground which extended up a few feet above the ground. The deer in its death agony had struck the opening in the stump and died instantly. The deer was sitting upright in the hollow of the stump with its back facing outwards. I recollect one day while me and a man of the name of Taylor were hunting on Oregon Flat, I shot at a wild turkey and broke its leg. It rose and flew a short distance and attempted to alight in the top of a blackjack tree but it got the foot of its wounded leg hung in the forks of a small limb and could not extricate itself. I went come distance to a house and borrowed an ax and chopped the tree down and captured the turkey. Bob Capps found three bee trees one day which number was very common for hunters to locate in the run of one day, but Capps discovered a bee tree the night following the day he found the three. He claimed that he had found four in one day but I told him that it was only three for he had found one after night. This last one he discovered by hearing the bees buzzing in the tree. While speaking of bees," said Mr. Baughman, "I recollect finding two bee trees In 45 yards of each other in a few minutes. When I went back on the following day to secure the honey I discovered another bee tree in six feet of one of them. White Oak Creek, a tributary branch of Crooked Creek, used to be a great stream for hunters to camp on. The fine spring of flowing water afforded an abundance of water in the dry season of the year for both hunter and game. On a certain time Bob Capps and Henry Woody went on a camp hunt on this stream. One morning soon after they had left camp for the days hunt they temporarily separated. After awhile Capps noticed Woody trying to shoot something. But very soon Woody put his gun down and laid flat down on the ground face downward. This alarmed Capps for he supposed that his companion was sick or crazy and started toward him; when in a few yards of where the man lay he saw a wild cat walk around a tree in a few feet of Woody. Then it leaped up on the side of another tree and Capps shot and killed it. Woody raised up now and said, "Capps, what did you kill the cat for. I wanted to see if it would jump on me." "Seeing an eagle strike at a deer is a forest scene that hunters have witnessed occasionally and I saw that sight myself once," said the old veteran citizen and hunter. "This occurred in the Oregon Flat near where Oregon Post Office was afterward established. While I was hunting here one day I seen a fine doe feeding. She was not near enough for me to make a sure shot and while I was creeping along toward her in order to get in close range I heard a whirring noise in the air above me. On raising my head to find what made the fuss I seen an eagle flying swiftly down toward the deer and struck it on the hips with its talons. The poor deer leaped, kicked, and struggled to rid itself of the unwelcome bird. Then it bounded off with the eagle sitting on its hips. No doubt its long sharp claws were sank deep into the deers flesh as the terrified animal was fleeing along, the great American bird spread out its wings to balance itself on the deer. The deer and eagle were in plain view for nearly ¼ mile when they disappeared in the thick growth of timber. It is my supposition," said Uncle Peter, "that unless the eagle was torn off of the deers back by limbs of trees it enjoyed a jolly ride until the deer was completely exhausted from running and the suffering inflicted by the eagles talons and then it fell an easy victim to this bird of prey. As to wolves," said Uncle Peter, "they did not lack for numbers in the early days here on Crooked Creek. They commited terrible depradations on stock. Settlers made all sorts of efforts to shoot and poison them and laid all kinds of plans to entrap them. I have known deep pits to be dug and prepared with trap doors. The doors were baited with fresh meat and when a wolf came along he would be sure to go for the meat and when he would get on the door he would drop into the pit prepared for his reception. The pits were so deep and the walls so steep that Mr. Wolf was not able to scale the walls and escape and was held a prisoner until the owner of the pit came along and ended his life with a bullet. Occasionally more than one wolf was caught in a pit at one time. Sometimes a catamount, wild cat, coon or fox would fall in and it was nothing strange to find a runabout dog in there too. It so happened that when one of these pits were properly constructed a mixture of wild animals would be entrapped during one night. It is something remarkable about the peaceable disposition of wild beasts here when several of them were huddled together in one of these pits. Each tried to seek safety for itself by trying to climb out of the hole. Just for the sport of it hunters would occasionally confine a wolf with a chain and thongs and after choking the animal nearly to death would knock out every tooth in its mouth and after it had fully revived from the choking it had received, the hunters would turn it loose among a lot of dogs and hurrah until the dogs worried the beast to death. I will tell you of an experience I had with wolves once in 1850 while we lived near the now beautiful town of Bellfonte south of Crooked Creek. Father owned a distillery and made whiskey. It was not an adulterated stuff like some that is sold nowadays, a few drops of which is liable to poison a man to death, but it was pure corn whiskey. While father manufactured whiskey he raised a fine lot of hogs. Among them was a male which he kept in an enclosure. It so happened that about then we had no dogs worth anything in the way of watch dogs. One night a pack of wolves entered the lot where the hog was kept and killed him while we and the dogs slept. It would seem that a stout boar would be able to whip a lot of wolves but by some means they overcame him and made a meal of him. Only a few remnants of the hog was left to tell the tale of his fate. The following morning while father was lamenting over the loss of the boar I informed him that I was going to try and take in a few of the wolves as partial payment for the hog. I went to Loranzo Rushs and borrowed a trained dog. Joe Rush went with me in pursuit of the wolves. The trail was easily followed by the assistance of the dog, for there were so many of the wolves together that they partly beat down the grass and weeds as they went along and left a dim trail in their wake. We followed the trail across Crooked Creek and over hills and across hollows to the Oregon Flat and to the head of Sugar Orchard Creek and on into the head of the hollow in which is known now as Elixir Springs. Here in this hollow the dog indicated that the game was not far off. We followed the trail down the hollow to a large hollow white oak tree which stood just above the springs. This tree had a big cavity at the ground and here in this tree we discovered nine young wolves. The old ones on hearing our approach had scattered. We did not molest the pups for awhile for we wanted to slay some of the old ones. We stood at the tree several minutes before they showed themselves. They approached us on the hillside but they all stopped before getting in shooting distance. I requested Rush to remain at the tree and keep the dog with him and make the wolf pups squall while I sauntered around close by and made an effort to shoot some of the old ones. Though Rush made the young wolves cry out like hound pups but the old ones made no attempt to attack us or the dog. But they would howl, whine and dodge around. At one time while Rush was making the pups squall they ran up close, but wheeled and loped away. They kept moving around so much that I could not shoot at one with any certainty of hitting it until finally I saw one standing still and I shot him down. Soon after I had reloaded my rifle I got an opportunity and killed another one. The others took the hint and left. We now gave our attention to the pups and put them to death and threw them back in their bed for the old ones to grieve over. We had slain eleven including the two old ones. We had exterminated one nest of young wolves at least which had afforded some revenge for the lose of the hog."
May 22, 1902
Mr. Baughman died near Cornettes Ferry on White River in the spring of 1904. He was a reliable man and a good citizen. Oregon Flat lies east of Harrison, Arkansas.
Springfield-Greene County Library