The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

A chapter on this subject would not be out of place and may be read with some interest by those that never saw a wolf. Mr. Isaac Tabor, the old timer of Taney County, Mo., told the following in regard to seeing a lot of wolves together one day while him and his brother John were hunting on the extreme head of the right hand prong of Big Creek. Mr. Tabor said there were 12 in number and they were busy with their noses to the ground smelling as if hunting fresh tracks of animals. In this way they resembled a lot of hounds. "We had no dog with us but each of us carried a rifle and after watching their actions awhile each of us selected a wolf for a target and both of us shot at the same moment and the whole pack dashed over the hill from view. I think we wounded the ones we shot at."

Mick Risley, brother of Silas Risley, tells about seeing 14 wolves near where Lutie Post Office (Ozark Co., Mo.) (Ben Jones store) is now. They were all gray wolves except 4 which were black. The pack was in a glade or small prairie. I was in a small hollow 300 yards below them. I was a small lad then and my parents had sent me to a neighbor’s house on an errand and I met them on my way back home. I had neither dog nor gun with me. The wolves trotted around with their heads raised up like dogs trying to scent some animal. I was terrified for I thought they were going to catch and kill me. I only stopped for a moment to watch them and hurried on without delay and left their presence as soon as possible. I saw nothing more of them and suppose they did not follow me."

Jim Barnette, an old timer of Little North Fork, gave me this item. "On a certain occasion," said he, "I and two of the Webster brothers, Dick and Wash. MacDonald Turley and "Donty" Burress went over to head of Gooley’s Springs Creek on a camp hunt for deer, this is in a few miles of what is now the northwest part of Baxter County, Ark. (not in Baxter). There was then so much game on Gooley’s Creek that it afforded fine hunting grounds. The grass was fine. Toward the head of the little valley are numerous bald hills and glady hollows which form a fine view. This was a successful trip for we were rewarded with a nice supply of deerhides and enjoyed our feast of venison and wild honey and fat turkeys. But we failed to kill a bear. I well remember one morning just after sunrise while we were at breakfast seeing 7 wolves some distance off advancing toward us. It was evident from their actions that they had not noticed us. We quit eating at once and watched them as they came slowly through the grass. We looked to our rifles and aimed to give them a volley from the 5 rifles when they approached near enough. But they saw us and halted before they were in shooting distance. They stood and gazed at us a few seconds, then wheeled around and scampered off. We accelerated their speed by uttering a few yells at them. The last we saw of them they were going at lightning speed over a bald hill more than ¼ mile from us. The sight of these wolves was interesting."

"Speaking of small bunches of wolves," remarks Fate Jones, "reminds me of a lot of wolves my father John Jones saw one day during the Civil War. My father said he had heard of these animals frolicking and playing in water similar to dogs, but he had never witnessed the sight until he saw a lot of them playing in White River. Father said he had rode into the river at Fish Trap Shoals to ford over to the south side. This is where Bradley’s Ferry is now. When he stopped to allow his horse to drink he heard a noise in the water on the opposite side and below him and was surprised at seeing 5 gray wolves playing in the river. Their antics were amusing. They would swim out into the river, one behind the other, then the leader would turn and swim back to shore followed by the others. After getting out of the water they would shake themselves and chase each other around in the bluff then run back to the water and plunge in and after swimming over deep water a few moments would swim back to shore and chase each other again and then swim back into the river and out again. This was repeated several times. They were a playful and merry-making set of wolves and father said they were too busy to notice him, and after watching their funny actions for more than a half an hour he hallooed at them, which attracted their attention and their delightful sport was broken up and they ran up the face of the bluff out of view."

As we finish writing this account we are reminded of another one as told by C. W. (Wils) Griffin, who said that one day he and John Cockran were hunting in Baxter County, Arkansas, and while on the east side of Big North Fork and 3 miles above the mouth of Pigeon Creek he met a pack of wolves. "I was afoot," said Mr. Griffin, "and my companion was on horseback. I had two dogs with us I called Whig and Taylor. Me and Cockran had just separated when I saw about 30 wolves near a bald point. They were in 150 yards of me. At first I thought of going up a tree, then I thought of my two dogs and refused to desert them. The wolves appeared to be traveling and apparently paid no attention to me or the dogs. They seemed so civil that I whistled at them and they stopped and gazed at me in amazement. I did not allow the dogs to leave me. Noticing a big gray fellow in the bunch I shot and broke his back. When he fell the others bunched up around him and smelled over him. I reloaded my rifle as speedily as possible and shot at another gray wolf and broke its back also. At this moment Cockran hearing the reports of the gun galloped up to see what sort of game I was among. I pointed to the wolves and without dismounting Cockran handed me his gun which was loaded and I shot a black wolf which ran 40 yards and fell. The other wolves seemed to grow furious at the loss of their three friends and came running toward us, but after I fired 2 or 3 shots at them with a six shooter I carried they all turned back and fled out of eight and we saw nothing more of them. We tossed stones at the two wolves with broken backs to hear them gnash and pop their teeth together and then shot them the second time. We removed the hide from the oldest one and scalped the other two. The one we took the hide off was old sure enough for there was not a tooth in her mouth."

One of our lady contributors, Mrs. Sarah E. Thornton, gives this interesting story of seeing a pack of wolves one day while she was in the forest alone. "It was during the war said she. "My father John Lane at the time I speak of lived 2 or 3 miles west of East Sugar Loaf Creek. I was rather young to go visiting alone but one evening I wanted to go and stay all night with grandfather Omstead Hudson who lived just east of the creek near where the Keesee schoolhouse is now in Marion County, Ark. A deep snow fell during the night and the weather turned cold. My parents told me to come home soon that morning and I started home afoot not even having a dog for a companion. The snow was knee deep to me and my progress was slow and tedious but I pulled along through the snow the best I could. When I reached a small prairie hill known as Sullivan’s Ball I noticed a goodly number of animals passing in 200 yards ahead of me. Though I had seen wolves before, but seeing so many of them together unnerved me and for a moment I was not able to tell what they were, but a second’s reflection told me they were a bunch of wolves. Whether they saw me or not I do not know. Childlike I was much afraid and it was well I need be if they had been in an ill humor. I tried to run in an opposite direction but the snow was so deep that I could neither run nor trot and I stopped and viewed them as they passed out of sight. They walked along in a leisure way in single file. I tried to count them but was too excited to ascertain their correct number, but there were not less than 25, if not over. The trail in the snow they beat out as they went along looked like where a big gang of dogs had made."

I am not willing to end this chapter without relating a story as told me by Gideon Baughman who located on Crooked Creek 7 miles below the present site of Harrison, Ark. Mr. Baughman said that it was customary among the hunters to go out just before daylight and lie in wait for deer on their passway and many fat bucks have been slaughtered in this way." said he. "One morning in the early fall season I rose out of bed before daybreak and took my gun and went out south of the creek to kill a deer. Finding a spot where I could obtain a good view around me I seated myself and waited for a deer to show up. But none approached me. But soon after daylight I heard a lot of wolves howling a few hundred yards distant. Of course it was common to hear wolves howl then at any time almost, but there seemed to be lots of them that morning. The country was not covered with brush then like it is now and one could see some distance around. When I first heard them I thought of going back to the house but I changed my mind and remained longer. The wolves kept howling and their noise grew louder and I knew they were approaching me. Directly I saw them come in sight of me. I felt then like I wanted to be up a tree, but concluded I would try to kill one first and then climb a tree if it was necessary. The wolves continued to approach me until I could see them all plain and I counted 18. They were about equally divided between black and gray. When they had all advanced in about 60 yards of my position I shot and killed a black one. At the report of the gun the others ran and scattered and I heard nothing more of them. But mind you I did not stay there long enough to find out whether they would return to interview me again or not, but after scalping the dead wolf I went back home at a faster gait than I was used to traveling."

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