Volume 31, Number 2 - Winter 1992

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

Well, as I am tierd of writing, & perhaps the reader is tierd of hunting stories it will be Better to come to a close. But I have only mentiond a few of so many that actuly happend (it’s as though) I have not wrote a word. Only the truth.

But before I close I must tell you about three big turkeys that would come to the corn field to Eat corn in the winter time. There had been quite a large drove of them, But I had Killed one now & then untill there was only three left.

So one day I saw them in the corn Field. So I said, "Here goes for that Big one." This time I took the old double Barrel shot gun & went down the wagon road at the side of the Field. So as I got most oposite the turkeys they got scred & flew. They was a long ways from me but I Shot at that big one as he flew Past me. & I say him shake his feet, sol said to my Self that I had hit that turkey.

So I Saw which way the turkey went & I concluded to take the dogs & go over the hills a while & maby I could find that Big turkey. For I was afaid that it mite be wounded & maby die & I was anxious to help to East that gobler.

So I got the dogs & went in the direction the turkeys flew & when out a ways the old hound Struck a trail of Some thing. He ran it down the hill & up on the other hill & down to the creek again. So I heard the old hound a having a Fight down there, so I had a Shepherd dog & a half hound dog. This half hound dog thought he was Some on the fight so he had Killed Some coons & had thrashed some flew dogs.

Well, those dogs was traind to stay at my heels untill I told them to go, so I said to the Big halihound dog to go. He was anxious to hear me say to go so On he went. I stood still to listen what might happen when he got to the old hound.

So I heard the awfulist Fighting & the Sheperd dog was a looking at me & then down the creek & would whine for me to let him go. So I said to him. "Go, go. You aught to seen him run. So I listend to see what would happen when the dog got there. Well, the Fight was renewed in full force.

So I started to Satisfy my Self as to what those dogs had Found. So I was anxious & so I ran & when I got in Sight I saw the Biggest old tom catamount that I had ever Saw. It was sitting on a ledge of rock about Eight feet high & was a slapping them dogs as they got hear anough for him to claw them, and the hair was a Flying.

So I got in about twenty five Steps & I spoke to the dogs. The Sheperd dog was very Bidable. If there was any noise he would run out to one side to listen to my voice. So I said to him, "Go take that fellow off of that rock."

So he ran under the ledge & made a tremendious spring. He caught that catamount by the back Part & his weight Pulled the catamount off the rock ontop of the dog & Both the other dogs Jumped down & such a fight never was Seen before! They rolled over & over untill they come to the creek. That catamount had the air full of dog hair as they rolled down that hill.

Well, I got closter & closter to the fight untill the cat & dogs was all most worn out & I had to incourage them dogs to git them to Kill that catamount. So when I thought the cat was most gone, but still on his Feet, I concluded to kick it over to See the dogs Jump in on it again. So the catamount was a looking from me at the dogs, so I Kicked the catamount in the side & as sure as god that catamount it struck at me & tore my Pants six or Eight inches long. So then I said to the dogs, "Take him! Take him!" & sure anough they then caught it & stretched it out & soon had it dead.

So then I was a looking at it a while. The old hound went down the creek a ways & Barked around & then he come back to me & smelt over the dead catamount for a while, then the old hound ran down the creek again & a Barking every Jump as he ran, so I concluded to go down there & see what he ment by so doing. & there was the big gobbler that I had shot up at the field. So I looked it over, found it was warm. I could see the feathers where the catamount had drug the turkey down the side of the mountain.

Well, the old dog was glad to see me Pick up this turkey, for he wiggled his tail & Jumped around & ran


back to the catamount. So I took the turkey & went to the cat & lay down the turkey & took a look at them long claws on that catamount. They have claws that lays back in a sockett, most as a house cat’s claws does. So I examined its teeth. The teeth was old & worn, as you have saw dog’s teeth. Well, I hung the cat up in a Elm tree, took the turkey & went on home.

My wife had heard the Fight & had come a Part way to see what I had got into. It was a half mile from home & when I come home a carrying that big turkey my wife said, "You & them dogs made lots of racket down there for only one turkey." "Well," I said, "it is a big turkey & it caused a big noise." So I weighed that turkey. He weighed 28 lbs.

You see, that turkey lit across the creek From this catamount & the animel ran over there to catch the turkey & did so. & the turkey was so big that it flopped down the hill with the catamount to the creek. The old dog traild him up & the cat diden’t want to give up that big turkey. So the Fight commenced. So one of the Boys wanted to see that catamount & he got on a horse & went down on the creek & brought the catamount home.

Well, there had been Something a going around the neighborhood for a longtime. It would run the dogs off & scare the People. But it haden’t Ever come & run my dogs out of the yard. One time it run Ben Garber’s dogs off the Place & when Ben went out in the yard it Jumped about ten feet up on the side of a tree that stood in the yard. So after this catamount had been killed no one Ever bothered with what they though to Be a Panter.

So we kept that catamount for a long while, For it was a curiosity for the People to come & see it & talk about it & look at its claws. Well, them other two turkeys Kept on comeing back & Finely I succeeded in gitting all of them. The First one weighed 28 lobs, the other one 24 & the third one weighed 22 lbs. So you may count it up & see what the three gobblers weighed.

Well, when I settled in this country it diden’t make any difference whether I went North, South, East, or West, I could find abundance of game within a Short distance of home, & though I had to work hard I would Kill a flew turkey & deer, this being a heavy timber country. I had to work hard to clear up this timber to make a Farm, & had to go ten miles for mail & groceries


& had to go fourteen miles to vote.

So I commenced to work for a knew township, which I succeeded in gitting & in a Short time got a mail route established that gave me my mail in two miles of home. & our School was most three miles from home. The School dstrick was Eight miles long & five miles wide. We only had three months of School in a year. So finally the country settled up more & more untill we divided the district. That gave me a School in three hundred yards of my house & now we have a school of forty Pupils & a six months School. & the country that I once hunted over is now fastly Sittleing up.

The railroad has come, the timber is fast being cut into cross ties for RR & the sawmills is a whistling over the country & the People is a cutting logs & cord wood. It is a going out Every day & as there is not any more deer nor turkey for me I am now [1905] in the timber buisiness & the country is fast being set to Fruit of most all Kinds, & money changeing hands & times don’t look like they did when I settled here twenty-two years ago. I now live in two miles of a town & R.R. station called Ruth, Stone County, Missouri.

But before I close I will tell you how that my Father-in-law Killed a Turkey. He was like Smith—he was afraid of my Old Shotgun, but he knew where some gobblers was Every morning. I was very busy so the Old Man concluded to try one of them turkeys. He could call a turkey most as well as I could.

So out he went. He got behind a Stump, laid the gun on top the stump. He called the turkeys up in Seventy steps of him and then he tried one of them. He had always used a rifle, But he shot at one turkey. He said he saw one fly away. He got his nose mashed & come home. So in a day or too I Past there & there laid the old man’s gobbler. He had Killed at one End of the gun & only wounded at the other End of the Gun.

I must tell you about a man with a sack Full of Bees. One day John Keithley, who lived about six miles from me, he came along the road. He had been to town for a load & had stopped on the road on the account of a sick horse. So he came to git me to go & see ff1 could do any thing For his horse. So I went & he concluded to end the Boy on home to git another horse.

So the boy had noticed an awful large Swarm of Bees that had Settled up in a Big white oak tree & after the Boy had gone the old man said to me, "My Boy found some Bees out there. Suppose we go & look at them." Well, we did so & Keithly said to me, "We can’t hive them Bees & if you want them Just take them. "Well," I said, "I want Some more Bees."

So I went to the house & got Smith & the Boys, got a Buckett of water & some rope & came Back, clem [climbed] up that tree, Sprinkled them with water, threw the roap over another limb & sawed off the limb that the Bees was on & was in the act of letting them to the ground when Keithley Said, "Oh, Say, them Bees belongs to my Boy. He found them."

So I said, "Well, diden’t you say for me to take them?" "Yes, But I diden’t think you could git them & the boy may want them."

So that made me mad. I & Him commenced to change words & I commenced to climb down & when I hit the ground I made for him. He lent back against a tree & said, "Maby I have been too fast." So I shoved him & stuck my fist against his nose & called him names. He was a tall sixfooter, But I was mad & felt like Fighting.

So we quarreld for a while. He finily said, "Well, you go on and git them Bees & next Season if they do well you let me have a swarm from them." Well, I agreed to that & I went on & got down them Bees.

Now you won’t Believe me when I tell you that the Swarm of Bees was as large as a Salt Barrel, but this is the fact. I would of a thought that three or four very


large Swarms had got together, but it Proved that there was But one queen Bee & so I think they come from a high Bluff on White River that had Bees in the Bluff. The Bees had been there for years & no one could git to them. It was said the bees worked in & out of the Bluff a hundred feet above the water & a big roll a going out & in all summer. So I think they must have warmed & came here & Settled down on this tree.

Well, I went to work to hive them. I got a bee gun & filled it with bees & went back to the house to work & aiming to Save some more of them late in the evening. So I left John Keithley there awaiting for his Boy to come with a horse to help him on home with his load.

So about an hour before dark there came a drummer to my house to stay over Knight. So when we was unhitching his horses he said, "Well, I saw a sight down the road a while a go." He says, "I met a man going down the road with a bee gun full of Beeds rapped up with a wagon Sheet & he had a two Bushel Sack full of Bees." Well, I knew then that Keithley had Stole my Be gun, bees & all.

Well, after Supper I took a cracker Box & went down there & sure anough Keithley had stole my Bee gun full of bees & a sack Full also. Well, I found that there was about two cracker boxes full there yet, so I made a Smoke & drove them together, got my ox full & took them home. So in the morning they went to work nicely them bees Proved to be the best workers that I had. Well, when I heard from Keithley his bees had done no good, for they diden’t have a queen, so I sent Keithley word not to Ever travel this wagon road again. So I heard of him a going around when he had buisiness Past my Place.

Well, I have out lived the game in this country & I have bought some Goats & I am now aiming to eat goat meat Instead of vension.

So I am very tierd of writing But I could tell you more Hunting stories untill you would be tierd of them.

My Name is Ben T. Stults

Born Feby. 17, 1845, Reeds Spring
in Old Kentucky, Missouri


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