PULLING A DEAD BEAR OUT OF A CAVE WITH OXEN
By S. C. Turnbo
The following stories was given by E. J. (Jackson) Shields, who was born where the town of Lexington in Perry County, Ohio, now stands, June 28, 1829. Mr. Shields come to Taney County, Mo., and lived several years on Dry Caney Creek, a tributary of Beaver Creek. Caney Creek was his hunting grounds. he said that he Killed a monster buck here one day that weighed 195 lbs net. *"I also killed a gobler that weighed 40 lbs gross, " said he. "The largest number of deer I ever seen was estimated at 50. They were crossing a hollow and were walking slowly along like a flock of sheep. After watching them a short while I shot and killed a doe in the bunch and the others scattered. One day while I was hunting on horseback I saw a black buck and a yellow buck standing close together. I aimed at the black one with my gun but before I was quite ready to pull the trigger my horse shied which frightened the deer and they both ran away. The black buck was an interesting looking object. I remember being out hunting one day afoot and seeing a yearling doe which I shot and wounded. After the deer had run a few yards I was surprised to see an eagle swoop down and strike the doe on the back and fasten its talons in the flesh. The deer was astonished too, for it bleated and jumped around in a frantic way to rid itself of the unwelcome bird, but failed. After enduring the tortures inflicted by the eagles claws a few seconds it bounded straight forward bleating at each jump and soon passed from my view with the eagle still sitting on its back. This was the last I saw or heard of them. The only encounter I had with a bear worth relating occurred on this same stream, " said Mr. Shields. "The bear was an exceedingly large one and very fat and was killed in a cave which one of my dogs had discovered in there. I had no desire to tackle it alone and went after John Ingram, John Bryant and Tom Ellison to come and assist me to take him out which they did, but it taken us from Friday evening late until the following Sunday afternoon before we accomplished the death of his bearship and took him out. We at first tried to smoke him out by building a slow fire in the mouth of the cavern. Apparently the entire opening was filled with smoke but it failed to bring the bear out. Then we heaved rags and several pads of strong red pepper on the fire and gave it a fair trial of several hours, but if the smoke from the rags and pepper had any impression on Bruin he did not let us know it. Then we quit the smoking business and extinguished the fire and after waiting some time for the cavern to clear of smoke, we sent the dogs in and a terrific fight ensued between them and Bruin. A grey hound which belonged to John Ingram was killed and one of my dogs was severely wounded. This ended the battle for the enraged beast forced the other dogs out of the cave. We dare not go in while the bears temper was so high but after waiting a few hours until we thought his temper was more cooler, we filled a big cup with melted tallow. This cup was attached to the end of a long pole, and after putting a large wick in the tallow, we ignited it and we all started into the cave to hunt for his bearship which we soon discovered and we shot 9 bullets into his body before he lay dead. We would have not killed him then but as good luck would have it the last ball took effect in the right eye. After he was dead we had a tedious job pulling him out of the cave. We first tried to drag the bear out ourselves but he was too heavy for us. We then all went home and brought over our women folks to the cave to assist us, but the combined strength of both men women was not sufficient to pull the bear along the rough floor of the cave only halfway out when we were unable to drag him any further. We increased our strength with the addition of a stout yoke of oxen. The mouth of the cave being large we backed the oxen to the dead bear and with a lug pole and log chain we hitched the oxen to the bear and pulled him to the outside. But owing to the indentations and rough stones along the floor of the cavern the oxen taken three hard pulls before we finally reached the mouth of the entrance. None of our party had ever seen as large a bear as this one. He was a monster indeed. We had no way of weighing him whole, but we sent after a pair of steel yards and after removing his hide we cut the meat into chunks and weighed each piece and the total weight of him net was 667 lbs. We made an equal division of the meat among us and we all fared sumptuously on fat bear meat for many days. The middlings after they were well cured averaged 6 inches thick. A few months after we killed the bear we taken the hide to Springfield, Mo., and several citizens of the town pronounced it the largest bear hide ever brought to the city during its history."
*"Killing this fine gobler, " continued Mr. Shields, reminds me of seeing a flock of turkeys sitting in a tree and I shot and reloaded and shot until 7 of them lay dead under the bows of the tree before the others flew." Please insert the above following the statement of the 40 lb gobler. S.C.T.
Springfield-Greene County Library