The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The heading of this sketch is illustrated by an account of two cases, one of which was related by Wils Griffin, who has been a considerable hunter of Baxter County, Arkansas.

"On one occasion," said he, "while I was hunting in the hills on the north side of Big North Fork about 5 miles southwest of the mouth of Pigeon Creek I met a wolf that was hard to kill. There was a wagon road nearby and I heard two or three wagons passing over it. About the time the wagons were rattling by over the rough stones I espied a large gray wolf approaching me on a run. As it was coming from toward the road I supposed it was fleeing from the noise the wagons were making. I had an obedient slow track dog with me I called Whig and he wanted to raise a row with the wolf, but I told him to keep quiet. The wolf did not see me or the dog and when it got in rifle range I whistled to attract its attention and it stopped and turned broadside to me with its head turned toward me and I shot it behind the shoulder and it sank down. I supposed it was dead. I took time to reload my rifle before going up to it. When I advanced up where it lay I saw that it was a suckler. About the time I was preparing my knife to deprive the supposed dead beast of its scalp it began moving its legs. Then its body began to squirm and was soon on its forefeet and sat up and gave me a ferocious look. it would have got entirely up but I delayed no time in shooting it the second time. The bullet struck it near where the first ball entered, and both balls had tore great holes through its entire body. The animal had dropped down again and lay as quiet as if dead. After reloading the gun again and while examining the bullet wounds it began kicking and scrambling to rise and did get on its forefeet once more. The wolf had revived so sudden and unexpected that I was amazed and showed my activity in getting out of the way of its teeth. This time I shot it in the head and it rolled over and died and it stayed dead as long as I stayed about it. I knew from her appearance that her young was not far off and with the help of the dog I discovered the whelps. There were nine of them but they were small. I killed every one of them and scalped them all including the old one. The ten scalps brought me a good price."

Another account of this kind is told by Mart Herron who said that he met a wolf once that was remarkably hard to end its life. In telling the story Mr. Herron said that in 1865 he and his brother, Simon Herron, and Bill Clark, the famous hunter, were hunting one day on Big Creek in Taney County, Mo., and while riding up the right hand prong of the creek they separated. "Soon after this as I rode along through the tall grass with my dog trotting along near the horse I saw two young wolves the size of grown foxes. One was black and the other gray. I sat on my horse and shot at the black one. At this moment a big gray wolf sprang up out of the grass in a few yards of me. The dog flew at it and there followed a hard fight between it and the dog. But they had not been engaged long before the wolf backed off and wheeled and ran about 150 yards when it turned on the dog which was pursuing it closely and the result was another battle. Dismounting I quickly reloaded my gun and remounting my horse again I galloped up near where the fight was going on and shot the wolf through the body but it seemed to pay no attention to the effect of the bullet. Pouring a big charge of powder into my rifle I reached in the shot pouch for another bullet, but they were gone. I had lost them since I had last reloaded. Not desiring to be outdone by the loss of the bullets I cut a slug of wood 2 ½ inches in length from a post oak bush and rammed it down on the powder and shot the piece of wood into the animal’s body, but the wolf showed no signs of weakening and it and the dog went on with the fight as lively as ever. I reloaded the gun with another slug of wood and shot the wolf with it and I saw the blood dripping from the wounds but itand the dog kept up the fight. The wounds inflicted by my shots of wood did not seem to disable the wolf in the least. I now tried a different plan by trying to load my gun with a slug one-half inch long cut from one end of my gunstick, but the wood while I was trying to push it down choked the rifle and I failed to ram it down. My gunstick was much longer than the gun barrel and I cut off about 15 inches of the stick and inserting one end into the barrel of the rifle and jabbing the other end against a tree succeeded at last in dislodging the short piece and finally pushed both pieces down and walking up in 8 feet of the wolf I fired both pieces of the gunstick into the beast. One end of the long piece protruded from the wolf’s side opposite from where the stick had entered. It was a desperate wound and the wolf weakened. The blood was dripping from every wound and the animal appeared to be sick. The dog was weary of the fight and he and the wolf seemed to separate by mutual consent. The wolf ran 100 yards and lay down. The dog lay down on the spot where him and his adversary ceased the combat. I selected a few small pebbles that lay on the ground and poured them down the gun on a charge of powder and approached in a few yards of where the wolf lay in the grass and shot the pebbles at its head which caused it to leap to its feet and ran about 75 yards and lay down the second time. By this time I was disgusted for I had shot a bullet, two slugs of post oak wood, two pieces of my gunstick, and a lot of small pebbles at the wolf and there was plenty of life left in the animal yet. I concluded now to stone it to death and I went up close and hurled a few at it but by some means I failed to hit it. Then I encouraged the dog and the brave fellow attacked the wolf again. The dog caught the wolf by the throat and the wolf caught the dog’s shoulder. Each animal would not let go his hold. Dog and wolf struggled hard for several moments when I drew my butcher knife from the scabbard and stabbed the wolf to death. About the time it was dead Simon rode up and we went back to the spot where I shot at the young wolf and found it lying dead. The grown wolf was a he and while it was fighting the dog it would bark frequently like a dog in order to attract other wolves to its assistance but none came."

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