CROOKED CREEK AND ITS TRIBUTARIES AND INCIDENTS OF
OLD TIME HUNTING IN THIS VALLEY
By S. C. Turnbo
There is no stream in north Arkansas that is noted so much for its great
number of springs of sparkling water as feeders to it as is Crooked Creek,
which traverses Boone and Marion Counties. These cool living springs of
water is so refreshing and exhiliarating to the inhabitants and thirsty
traveler in the heat of summer that it makes a lasting impression on those
that love the use of good water, and is a blessing to be enjoyed by the
people of the neighborhood. Added to the many springs of water of this section
is the healthy climate and attractive scenery. Crooked Creek is a lengthy
stream, and among its tributaries we enumerate the creeks known as Georges,
Hampton, Clear, Greasy, Huzza, White Oak and Sugar Orchard. The entire valley
is Inhabited by an industrious class of people who pursue the different
occupations. The fine towns of Yellville and Harrison, each noted for their
pretty scenery surrounding them, are located on this stream. The village
of Powel stands at what was once known as the upper crossing of Crooked
Creek 10 miles above Yellville. A short distance above Powel is the town
of Pyatte. Zinc, Keener and Bergeman are situated on Sugar Orchard Creek.
All of these places are connected to the outside world by railroads. Yellville,
Powel, Pyatte, Zinc, Keener and Bergeman are connected by the White River
Branch of the Mo. Pacific. Bellfonte, which is situated south of Crooked
Creek and near 4 miles southeast of Harrison, began its growth before the
Civil War broke out and is a noted town. Here at this place is another famed
spring of water which is enjoyed by the people of the town and vicinity.
Bellfonte and Harrison are connected by the Saint Louis and North Arkansas
Railway. The valley of Crooked Creek in the early settlement of it was a
famous rendevous for the old time hunter. Numbers of exciting scenes of
chasing wild game have been witnessed on this stream and its tributary branches.
Here as elsewhere in the Ozarks the wild bucks met each other, fought and
locked horns and either died in that condition or was found and killed by
the hunter. Mr. Peter Baughman, an early resident on this water course,
gave me two accounts of finding two pair of bucks locked by their honns
in the old time hunting days of this locality. He said that the Tom Young
hollow was one of his favorite places to find deer. "In this hollow,"
said he, "I discovered two pair of bucks with their horns locked together.
The first set was found one morning at break of day. I had went into the
hollow to watch for deer when I heard a noise a short distance off which
I was at a loss to understand what caused it. I could hear something crash
together which was repeated frequently.
Though it was not yet daylight but I become so interested to find out the cause of it that I went toward where the racket emanated from and found that it was two bucks engaged in a desperate fight. But just before I got to them their horns become interlocked and then they both exerted their strength to get separated. Their struggles were frightful but they were not able to force themselves apart. I was more interested in the hides and meat of the two animals than I was to watch them fight and I out their struggles short by shooting one of the bucks down and reloading my gun I shot the other one and saved the meat and hides of both. Each deer had 5 points on each beam. The other bucks were found nearly ¾ of a mile from where I discovered the other pair. A snow an inch deep lay on the ground and as I went up this same hollow I found where a heavy object had just been dragged across the hollow. I knew in a moment what it meant. A battle had been fought between two bucks. Their horns were locked. One was dead and the live one had been dragging the dead one in the snow. On looking in the direction the dead buck had been pulled along I seen a deer standing with its head down and hung to the dead deer and I started on toward it and when I approached within a few paces of it I shot it down and as the hide on the other buck was not spoiled I saved the hides of both. A few days after this I went back into this hollow and carried the two pair of heads and horns home and kept them several years," Mr. Baughman also told of killing several deer from the same tree which he related in this way. "One day I went out on the south side of Crooked Creek and seated myself at the foot of a tree which stood near where a trail had been made by deer as they traveled to and fro. I knew this to be a regular passway and I would wait for game to come to me which would save me from a long tramp in hunting for it. I had been here an hour almost when I observed 4 deer coming along the path in single file. The front one was a doe. Just behind her was a yearling doe and the other two were bucks. One had two prongs on each beam or what we hunters called forked horned. The other carried a spike or single horn. Very soon the two bucks stopped. The other two deer come up in 30 yards of me and stopped and stood side and side with broadsides toward me. I aimed at them and shot and both deer fell on their tracks. By the time I had reloaded my gun the two bucks had walked up to where the two dead deer were lying and stopped and I shot one down. The other buck seemed to be bewildered and stood still until I reloaded my gun again and I killed him also. There 4 deer lay in a heap. In a minute or more after my last shot I saw three more bucks coming slowly along the same trail. Each one of them carried a big set of horns. I reloaded my gun in a hurry but by the time I had finished priming my rifle they had got to where the other deer lay and stopped and another dead one was added to the pile. At the report of the gun the other two ran off a short distance and stopped and turned around and come back to where the 5 deer lay dead. I was soon ready for another shot and the number of dead ones was increased to one more. The remaining buck took fright and away he went as fast as he could go. I supposed he was gone for good, but just before he passed beyond my view he stopped. My supply of powder was nearly exhausted. I emptied my powder horn and found there was not enough for a full load. I was so anxious to get him too that I only kept 3 grams of powder back to drop in the priming pan to touch the load off with. As I finished loading the gun I saw the buck start back but after he had got a few steps he turned and did not come straight forward, but in a half circle until he got in 100 yards of me, then he advanced up toward me straight until he was in 20 steps of me and then stopped and looked at me in a peculiar way. I aimed at him and fired and heard the bullet hit him. He turned and run a few yards and fell. I had shot and killed seven deer from the same tree, six of which lay in a heap. This was late in the fall of 1853 and the weather being cool I went to work and took the entrails out of all of them and went to George Ridingers for assistance in taking the deer home. Mr. Ridinger hitched a yoke of his cattle to his wagon and went back with me and hauled the deer to my house," said the old timer and hunter.
Springfield-Greene County Library