AMUSING SCENES IN MEETING BEAR IN CAVES AND OTHERWISE
By S. C. Turnbo
The following stories were told by old time men that loved the chase and enjoyed the pleasure of relating hunting yarns which they claimed were true.
One day the writer was conversing with John Clark who lived and hunted when bear were not scarce and he told me this account. "On one occasion." said he, "while I was hunting one day in the rough hills of Coon Creek I felt exceedingly tired and footsore in tramping the hills for game without finding anything worth shooting. At last I stopped to rest and standing my gun up against a tree I intended to sit down at the foot of the same tree, but observing a more convenient place to rest about 15 feet distant from the tree. I left the gun where I had placed it and went and sit down and leaned my back against a log and stretched out my legs to rest. I was feeling so comfortable that I fell into a doze of sleep when I was aroused by hearing footsteps approaching me and my senses was almost gone at beholding a bear in 20 yards of me running toward me. I was so astonished that I never moved and the bear passed between me and the gun. The black beast come near running over my feet. I never got up or thought of my gun until the bear was gone. It was not a large bear but it was big enough to cause me to have a queer feeling when it come so near running over me," said Mr. Clark.
On the head of Current River in Denton County, Mo., once lived old Billy Tripp, an early settler of that section. He lived some 12 miles above Blue Springs which flows out of the side of a hill where a fine roller mill now stands. One day while a deep snow lay on the ground Mr. Tripp located a bear In a cave and went back home for assistance to kill Bruin, and requested Wash Tripp, one of his brothers and Christopher Tripp, one of his nephews, to go back to the cave with him which they did. Though Billy lived to be an old man but he was a young man at the time of the Incident we are about to relate. Wash was younger than he was and Christopher was a stripling boy. When they reached the mouth of the cave they ignited the fuel they had brought with them to use as a torch and started into the cave to slaughter Bruin in his den. Billy lead the way. He and Wash carried a gun each and Christopher was torchbearer. The cave was found to be large and roomy and the boys found their way to where the bear lay without having to crawl any of the distance. After Billy saw the bear lying snugly on his bed he said to Christopher, "Hold the light a little further around so I can see how to aim at him." When the youngster did as he was told he seen the bears eyes glistening in the light of the torch and says, "Yes , there he is I see his very eyes. Lets leave here or hell kill us, " and throwing down the torch he turned around and sped away through the dark. This terrified Wash and he dropped his gun and followed the retreating boy. Billy was not scared and stood his ground but he was vexed at his companions deserting him when they were so badly needed. But not to be outdone he picked up the pine splinters that was lying scattered and flickering on the floor of the cave where the boys had flung them and renewed the light and after placing it on a shelving rock he shot and killed the bear and went out of the cave to hunt the boys and found them standing in the snow near the entrance and had to use hard persuasion before they consented to go back into the cave with him to help pull the dead bear out. The young fellows in making their hasty exit got their heads bruised against the projecting stones in the cavern while making their way out through the dark."
Here Is another story which we will give before closing this chapter.
Matthew Adams, son of Isaac Adams, who lived south of the Buffalo fork of White River and near the head breaks of Big Piney Creek that flows into the Arkansas River, was a hunter of a timorous nature. Sometimes he would become demoralized at nothing almost. One day while snow and ice covered the ground he went to a cave where a bear had went into for winter quarters to slay it for fresh meat for the weather was just the kind to lay in a supply of wild meat in order to save it well. The cavern was situated In the head of a rough gulch which lead into a deep hollow with steep hillsides. The cave was also near a high precipice. Adams had hunted all over this part of the country and was well acquainted with all the surroundings. On reaching the cave the hunter prepared his torch and with it in one hand and the gun in the other he entered Into the opening In search of Bruin and discovered him lying between two big boulders and he climbed up to the top of one of them and fired down at the bear as he lay asleep. At the report of the gun Bruin rose up in wrath at being disturbed so sudden. Adam instead of remaining on top of the rock out of danger leaped down In front of the wounded bear and dashed along through the cave toward the outside as best he could until he got out. Then throwing down the now useless torch he held to the empty gun and ran on over the snow and Ice. The bear also made time too in getting to the outside of the cave but he was too slow to overhaul the hunter but he was only a few feet in the rear of the man. Without thinking what he was doing and fully believing Bruin would overhaul and kill him before he could reach safety Adams ran headlong down the hill toward the cliff. The bear when it emerged from the cave did not pursue the frightened hunter but ran in an opposite direction. The man In his terror did not know but that Bruin was following him sped on at a breakneck speed down the icy hillside until he fell and slid down the hill several yards and lodged against a log which lay on the brink of the precipice. The ice held the log fast and the force of the mans weight when he struck the log did not move it and thus he was saved from being hurled over and killed. As the man lodged against the log he looked around to see if Bruin was in pursuit and finding that the animal was not in eight he picked himself up and found that he was a badly bruised man and leaving the gun where it lay he made his way home and reported his adventure to Tom Davis and John Claiborne who went and followed the wounded bear and killed it.
Three days after the bear was dead Adams went back to the scene of his scare and recovered his rifle.
Springfield-Greene County Library