Volume 31, Number 1 - Fall 1991

A Sketch of the Many Ups and Downs in Life of Ben T. Stults
As a Boy to a Man, As a Hunter (Part V)
Edited by Lynn Morrow and Linda Myers-Phinney

One time after the deer had got scarce [c. 1890] we heard of some about Seven miles away, so the day was set to go for them. Some men came from Galena & in all there must of been a dozen men in all. So I went & this was in a new hunting ground & the first time that I was ever there. So I went around over the hunting ground to view the location.

Well, I came to a Place that I Pronounced as a fine runway & I Said to one of the men that if the dogs started a deer that I would make for this Place. We had a few dogs & the hunters from Galena had some dogs.

So we heard their dogs a running. They run a deer into James River & caught it & our dogs started a deer. I was most a mile from this cross way that I had selected. Well, that deer started for my Stand. I run my horse (my old mule had died with the distemper & I was now a riding a young horse that I was a training). He was a Fleet horse, so I started for that Place that I had selected & got here as fast as that horse could run & just as I got here I saw the deer. We both got there at the same time. The grass was as high as my head, so as the horse was a little afraid of a deer I got off, jumped up on a big log. The deer was about thirty steps from me. So I shot both barrels of my gun at that deer & down he came & when I skinned that deer I found two Buckshot that had struck Each other & was completely welded to gather, & I have them yet, for I had heard of such a thing But didn't believe it.

One time Mr. Hancock told me that some deer was useing in his Field so I went there one morning so early that it wasen’t day light when we started to the Field. I knew where the deer would run after they left the field so I went there. I heard the dogs start the deer, sol said to my self, "I am sorry we started so soon," for it was dark yet. But here came the deer. They ran in about sixty yards of me. I could See a little of the white on the tails, so I leveled my gun & Fired & down one come. Well, we took it Back to the house, dressed it & had some of it for breakfast.

So one time there was two very large deer, Both Bucks. They come to the lick at the cabin where I shot the Panter. So I said to Smith, "Suppose we go to the cabin & kill one of them big bucks." I knew they was very large from the sise [size] of their tracks. So Smith said he was in for it, so we went. The deer came, but they smelt us & they woulden’t come to the lick.

So we went back the next Knight. A deer will Snort of kind a whistle when they smell a man at a lick. So we heard them whistle the second Knight, so we went the third Knight. One of us would watch while the other slept. So we heard them most all Knight, but they staid out of sight until day was a breaking a little.

The Birds was a chirping as you have heard them as day Breaks. So Smith was a sleep & I Saw one of them big Bucks a comeing. He was a slipping & looking Just as though he was a going to Steal that Salt. So Bum! went the gun. You aught to of a saw Smith Bounce up at the crack of my gun. But that Big Buck never licked there again. I killed a Buck ther one evening before dark. It was so Big that mith & two boys coulden’t Put it onto the runin geers of a wagon. So I had to go back to help them to git it home.

Well, Jim Hancock & his wife came to my house one morning to Pay us a visit. So Jim said, "Suppose we got out a hunting." I said, "I don’t care much, But your wife won’t like it," for it was the day between Saturday & Monday.

But we went & sure anough we started a deer & it ran aways from me & it died. We took it home on a Pole run through the legs of the deer. Well, Mat, his wife, diden’t like it because it was Sunday & she told Jim She woulden’t cook it if he took it home, but Jim took some of it home any how.

So that Fall they came to Pay us another visit. It was Sunday & Jim was anxious to take another hunt. So we talked about where we would go & finely we went out to what we called the Rough ridge. It was a rough country, very Brushy & grassy. I had killed a great many deer out there & I knew Just where the deer would run out when chased by a dog.

So I had a famous dog. So Jim took the dog & went on the drive. So I went to the stand. I knew where the deer would Jump off of a ledge, so I went there. I sit down there with my Back against a Post Oak tree & presently I heard the dog a comeing. I knew that the deer would come where I was a sitting. Well, I heard that buck a comeing for a hundred yards, but it come a little too low down on the ledge. It got behind some large trees & it ran within twenty feet of me before I could see to shoot it & that gun failed to fire. So then there was another tree in the way & that deer got so close to me that I diden’t have room to take Sight at it. I was yet a setting against that tree, so I just Pulled the trigger of my gun & I knocked that Big Buck off of that ledge about twelve feet high.

Well, here came the dog after it & he leaped down after it. Well, I just Sat there untill Jim came & he said to me, "Did you git him?" I said, "What did you expect me to do? So we had a time of it a gitting that Buck above that ledge of rock & then up a very steep hill.

So we was most worn out. I said to Jim, "You stay here & I will go home (about two miles) and bring the wagon for this deer."

So while I was gone Jim, he laid that Buck on its back, Both hind legs spraddled out & when I got home I went to the Barn for the team.

The woman folks came out & said, "What are you a going to do?"

I said, "We found some persimmons & I am takeing the wagon to Bring them home." So my wife knew what Kind of a load of Persimmons we had found. So they said, "Don’t be in a hurry & we will go along & help to gather them."

So on we went, Sunday or no Sunday & when I drove up to that Buck I Jumped out of the wagon & took a holt of that Buck’s hind leg & said, "Here is the Percimmons," pointing to the male part of the deer.

Well, there was lots of deer here in Stone county. They would come in the fields to Eat green wheat & corn in the winter time & I have killed them when they would come to the Field.

Well, one time there came a wagon load of hunters. They wanted me to go with them & trake a hunt, but I was hauling corn & coulden’t go. But I told them to go down on Indian Creek. I explained the road. So Kit Karson was a long He said he could find the way. So they started. I was to come in a few days. There was some five or six of the hunters. They got there all right, had hunted all the time & had found Plenty of game but haden’t killed anything bigger than a Squirrel.

So one day I started after dinner to go to their camp so as to have a morning’s hunt with them. I got to their camp that afternoon, an hour by Sun. I looked around & diden’t See any deer a hanging in camp, so I said, "Well, boys, where is your game?" "Well," said Enoch Cox, "we haven’t killed a darnd thing bigger than a Squirrel." "Why, can’t you find any deer?" I said. "Well, boys, this will never do. I can Kill a deer before the Sun sets." Well, they said they would like to see me try it.

So I took out a mule from the wagon, Put on my Saddle, told Smith to git supper. I took my gun & away I went, all them fellows after me. So I went most a mile when up got a big doh & down she went. I blew my horn & you aught to see them Fellows come a running for me. & Enoch Cox said, "Well, By god, we have hunted here all week & Killed nothing and damd if he hasen’t Killed a deer in fifteen minutes." & that wasen’t all: I shot another that the dog caught at the Same Shot that Killed the deer first. So that cheerd up the boys. We went to camp, got supper. The boys was lively that Knight & I told them how I would Kill another one in the morning.

So we had breakfast very early in the morning & I saddled the mule & off we went. I told the boys to Scatter around & I would run the deer out to them. So they done so & I had left Kit Karson in a hazle thickett. I made a drive & came back most to where I left Kit & Just then I heard the dog a comeing with a deer. The deer ran under the hill from me. Kit say it all

the time.

So Just between me and Kit there was a flat and Kit saw me. He saw that I was aiming to shoot so he laid clost to the ground. I looked but coulden’t see Kit, so I fired at the deer. Kit said that the shot cut down the Brush all around him. The deer was badly hurt but diden’t fall, so up got Kit & shot his winchester at the deer & he hit it on the foot & broke its foot. So it ran on a ways & there it come to Jim Silvey. Jim shot at it. He said it was a staggering to fall when he shot at it. Well, that was the biggest Buck that Ever I saw. It had Eight Prongs on each horn. So we went to camp, got dinner. I never went out that afternoon, but I tried to git the boys to go home. But they must try it one more morning.

So I staid & the next morning I put the Boys out in good shape. I started some deer. One deer ran to one of the Boys & it smelt him. It was about twenty steps from him. He said he could See the deer bat its eyes & he forgot to Shoot untill the deer had run & then he shot at it. So I concluded to go home, for that kind of hunting diden’t suit me. So I gave one deer to the Boys & sold them the other one & they strted back for Jasper Co.

Well, now I am a going to tell you about Cooley. He is the man that came with me to look at the country when I bought land here. So he came back to take a hunt. He was afraid he would git lost, sol had a Pocket compas. He wanted it. He said if he had that compas he could always tell north from south so he could come back to camp. So I let him have the compas.

We went about eight miles away in the hills on Ance Greek. So we left camp early one morning. Cooley took the compas, Put it in his Pocket & off he went. I went with him a while then we seperated & he got lost. He traveld all day. The rest of the hunters came in for dinner & in the afternoon all took another round. No one was able to Kill a deer so all came in But cooley. Knight came on & no cooley. The Boys shot their guns, we Blew the horns, but no cooley. We got supper & ate & then Fired more guns thinking he might here the guns & wander his way into camp.

Well, about bed time we heard Cooley shoot his gun, so we fired severl Salutes in answer to him. So about ten o’clock that Knight he finily came into camp. My brother said to him, "Yes, darn you, you have been lost." "No," he said, "you can’t loose me in those mountains. So he ate his supper; was very hungry for he had walked all day.

Finally he owned up to being lost. He said he finally took down a creek & went down it for miles, for he expected to come to a house & so he came to a little corn mill that was run by water that come out at a big spring. He called the mill the yellow dog mill. He said that no one was there when he got there but the little mill was a running. Someone had been there & started the mill that morning & there was a yellow dog there a licking up the meal as fast as it ran out & when the dog would lick up all the meal he would Bark for more meal to come down. Well, he staid there for he knew someone would come to see after the mill. So they did & the man told him he heard someone a shooting up the creek & cooley started to Find the camp. Well, we asked Cooley why he diden’t look at the Pocket compas. "Oh, hel," he said, "I did look at the damd thing." It told him where north was but he was lost & he wanted a compas that would always Point to the camp.

Well, a fellow by the name of Withrow was on this hunt. He wasen’t much on the hunt but he did kill one ground Hog. He came back to camp a grinning. He said, "I have Killed the biggest Fox Squirrel in the world & it has a bob tail, too."

Well, this has been a country for Sport Such as Hunting game, Fishing, Bee Hunting. I have found lots of wild Bees, but not so Much as Some other me, as I had to make a crop in Summer & to feed stock in winter; had a large family to Support.

Though I can say that I have managed very well & have Something to show for the labor & troubles. I have found lots of Bees as this is a timber country, But I kept Bees at home & could have honey to Sell. & some times I would have a hundred head of hogs which would live out in the woods on acorns, which was Every year untill the country Settled up & lots of horses & cattle would live out in the mountains all winter with only what they graised to live on.

But now [c. 1905] them Easy days are gone. I can’t step out & Kill a deer for fresh meat; don’t have as good range, can’t have the woods full of fat hogs all the time as I once could.

I had me a dog trained to Find hogs & he could trail them 24 hours after they had went along in the mountains. This dog would trail ahead of me & I would follow him on the old mule. When the dog got to the hogs the hogs would run a ways then they would Brissle up for a fight. Then the dog would go off a ways & sit down & Bark untill I could git to him. The hogs would Stand ready for a fight, so I would look them over. If I wanted any of them I would Shoot what I wanted, tie it to the mule’s tail & drag them to where a wagon could come to & haul them home.

I had lots of wild hogs. The Pigs would go wild, but I had some old Sows that would come to me as Far as they could hear me call to them & they would come in sight of me & then go around untill they would git the wind of me & when they smelt me they would come in a trot to me & grunt at me, for I would have Some corn or Salt for them.

So the wolves was bad to catch hogs & the foxes & wild cats. So some of these old Sows had learnd to Fight. They run up to a dog & grab the dog & shake & bite him. They was very dangerous. If a Pig would Squeal things had to hide out for they would most Jump on Each other.

So I had one old Sow that would come home quite often. She was a holy terror to fight for hur Pigs. So one Evening a very tall man rode up to my Place. He got down to ask to Stay over Knight with me. I was at the Barn a feeding for the Knight.

Just as this man got near the Barn gate a Pig stuck its head in the crack of the gate & Squeald. Well, this old Sow was out there in the road. She made at this old long man. He had long hair down on his Sholders. He started for the house, the old sow Just grabbing at him. Every Jump the old man’s hair stuck Straight back & his legs was so long & his legs went so fast the old Sow coulden’t catch him. It looked like a Shepherd dog a catching at a cow’s heels. So the old man Jumped onto a rail Fence.

So the old man said he never was so bad scllared in his life & in about a year this old man came along again. He rode up & hollowed "hello!" He said, "I am the man that old Sow eat up here about a year ago. I thought I woulden’t git off my horse untill I looked for that old Sow this time. I want to stop over Knight with you again."

So I was so Fraid that some of the children would be out & the Pigs might git fast & that old Sow would sure tear the child to Peices, so I Killed the Sow to git hur out of the way.

To be continued.

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