The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In recounting incidents of combats with vicious wolves we relate the following accounts as given by Taylor Frazier, an old pioneer of Crooked Creek. "One day," said he, "I and a man of the name of McCarter started out on a deer drive on the left hand prong of George’s Creek above the residence of John B. Hudson who lives 6 ½ miles north of Yellville, Ark. We had three hounds with us, two of which were young and untried as hunting dogs. We did not meet any deer that day but the dogs met two wolves. When the two young hounds caught sight of the wolves, it tested their courage and found that it was wanting and they fled for home.

"The other dog was older and well trained and he stuck to the wolves single handed. After a short combat the wolves retreated and the dog pursued and chased them into a cave, at the mouth of which were found several bones of sheep and hogs that the wolves had killed and carried there. But before the wolves were encountered me and McCarter had become separated. When I reached the cave where the dog had treed the wolves and saw the remnants of hogs and sheep laying around the mouth of the cavern I was convinced that this cave was a permanent den for wolves and that they were rearing their young in there. Foolish like I determined to examine the interior of the opening and after laying my rifle and shot pouch down I crawled into the hole. After making my way on the inside a short distance the passage narrowed down, but I crawled a few feet further, when a noise of growling and scrambling greeted my ears. I realized now that I was in a close place. The light penetrated the opening sufficient for me to discern objects and directly I noticed the dim outline of a wolf’s head just in front of my eyes. I neither had time to turn around and go back or crawfish back before the vicious beast crowded up against my face. I was in for it now and lowered my head, body and face and hugged the floor of the cave as close as possible and awaited results. This was all I attempted to do for the time. The wolf began to scrouge over my head. A wolf scrambling over a fellow’s head is not a pleasant feeling but I had to face the music. My condition now was what you might call sore afraid, for I expected to be eaten up alive. It was now that I remembered leaving the dog at the entrance and I called loudly and distressingly for him, for I stood in great need of his assistance. While I was making a great outcry for the dog, the other wolf crawled up against my head and on top of it. Oh, that terrible sensation of two pulling and scratching on my spinal column. I shudder whenever I think of it. They squeezed, growled and forced their ten nails into my flesh as they pressed themselves along on my back. The brave dog hearing my calls for help dashed into the cave and met the first wolf at my feet and while the last wolf was on my back the dog and the other wolf engaged in a terrific battle and fought on my legs and feet; but they could only bite at each other’s heads. I kicked and yelled in terror. This so frightened both wolves that they both pressed against the dog and pushed him back. As soon as my legs and feet were free I crawled out of there on quick time, but I felt more dead than alive. When I got out the dog was standing at the mouth of the cave. The wolves had disappeared. But very soon I heard one bark up on the hillside. I picked up my gun and after waiting a few minutes longer I saw the wolf coming slowly down the hill and I shot and killed it. I encouraged the dog now and he soon hit the trail of the other wolf and chased it around in 2 or 3 hundreds yards of the den for sometime, but it was shy and it did not get close enough for me to shoot it. The one I shot was a gray one. After the other wolf had left I sent the dog into the cave and he killed a young wolf and brought it out. By this time McCarter had come and we left and went home, but we returned to the den on the following day, accompanied by one of my little sons named Jimmie. The boy crawled into the cave and brought out two young wolves. The lad went in the second and third time and pulled out 5 more or 7 in all. They were old enough to bite and scratch and run some. This was a total of 9--8 young ones and one old one. Their capture broke up this den for awhile at least."

In giving the other account of the desperate encounter with wolves Mr. Frazier said that it occurred near the same locality of this same cave. Here is what the old hunter said about it. "I had went out to hunt the milk cows which ranged some distance from home. I was afoot but carried my gun and was accompanied by two trained hounds I called King and Rock. As I walked along the dogs chased two gray wolves over the crest of a ridge where the wolves had stopped and I heard them and the dogs fighting. I ran to them as speedily as I could to aid the dogs but instead of encountering two wolves there I discovered that there were 9 and all full grown. I shot at a big black fellow but as he acted as if nothing went wrong with him I suppose the bullet never touched him. The pack had the Rock dog down seemingly trying to tear him to pieces. The poor animal was yelling with terror. The King dog was darting around avoiding the rushes of the wolves but they failed to make him flee away from them. Without taking time to reload my gun or count the result, I sprang in among the snarling and growling pack to rescue the helpless dog. With a big pocket knife I slashed right and left. I kicked and stabbed until part of the wolves turned on me. Then I beat a hasty retreat. I first ran a few yards with my back to the wolves, but fearing they might get the upper hand of me I wheeled about with my face toward them and ran backward.

I had only went this way a short distance when a few of the wolves followed me and snapped at my legs. In the excitement and hurry of the moment I struck the heel of one of my boots against an obstacle and down I went on my back and three of the wolves leaped on me. If ever a man was scared then it was I. Of course I was not idle, but fought the impudent beasts with all my might. It was a battle for life, and I worked with a will. I kicked and struck with the knife and drove two of them away. As I leaped to my feet the other one caught me by the waist with his teeth. I grabbed him by one ear and stabbed him with the knife and he turned me loose. I had wounded several of the wolves and a few of them were bleeding but I failed to kill one unless it died afterward. It was fortunate for me that the battle ceased now and the wolves stampeded. Did I make a noise, did you say? Well, I guess I did. I hallooed as loud as my vocal organs would permit. The wounded dog made a piteous noise. The other dog escaped the fury of the wolves. He was not cowardly, but he had to do a great deal of dodging and running to avoid them. But he never left me. During the encounter I was demoralized, but the worst scare come over me after the battle had passed and the wolves had left. Fear and dread overcome me and my whole frame shook and trembled until I was reminded of my poor dog and then this terrible sensation left me. The dog was alive, but not able to get up. Part of his entrails were torn out, his flesh was gnawed into a jelly, some of his bones were crushed, he lay dying. But I replaced his entrails back and raised his mangled form in my arms and carried him to a well-known spring of water 300 yards distant and laid him down at the edge of the water. He was just able to lap a little of the water, but the water gave him no strength for he was nearly gone and was dead in less than 5 minutes. It seems strange that a man sometimes will get so attached to a faithful dog that he regrets to give him up. I grieved at the loss of this dog and I am not ashamed to confess it. I left the spring and walked on in sorrow to the scene where the vicious brutes had put the faithful canine to death and recovered my gun and returned home without hunting anymore for the cows that day."

May 23, 1902

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