The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

By S. C. Turnbo

Samuel Carpenter of Cedar Creek, Taney County, Mo., furnishes the following. "One day during the early fifties I and Bill Cowan and Andrew Howard went into the Elbow Creek hills on a camp hunt. We were a lively set of hunters and passed the time in a merry way. During daytime we kept busy hunting game. At night after supper we would sit by the fire and relate hunting yarns to each other until late. We enjoyed living on our fare which was composed of corn pone, venison, turkey and honey. Probably no hunters visiting Elbow Creek saw and enjoyed more pleasure than we did on that trip, but I was living further off from Elbow then than Cedar Creek," said he. "One evening we met something besides deer, fun, pleasure and bee trees. It was while we were returning to camp one evening after sunset. We were carrying a few fresh deer hides and some venison. As we were passing near a fallen tree a panther made its sudden appearance by jumping up on the log from the opposite side and glared at us fiercely. The beast was in seven feet of us and of course we were taken by surprise. It was a daring fellow and showed its displeasure at our intrusion. The great long beast meant to attack us. We all three aimed at the same moment and fired and three balls tore great gaping holes in its body. It was in a crouching position when we fired. A moment after the reports of our rifles sounded out the panther leaped to the ground at our feet and three hunters were dodging about lively to get out of its way. But in less than three seconds it leaped into the tree top and fell over dead. After dragging it out from among the limbs of the fallen tree and examining the huge beast awhile we looked over on the other side of the log where we saw it jump up and saw a big pile of leaves that had been raked together into a heap. We got over the log and kicked the leaves apart and exposed to view a dead buck that the panther had slain about an hour previous to our arrival. It had caught the deer near the tree top. Evidence on the ground showed that the buck had struggled hard in resisting the attack but had to give in to the death dealing teeth and claws and strength of the frightful beasts G. Q. (Fate) Jones tells this brief story of how a panther took a deer away from a hunter after he had shot it. Mr. Jones said that in June, 1865, a hunter had went to the head of Locust Hollow near Short Mountain to hunt for game. A man then had to depend on his rifle for meat. Bread was so scarce that but few was able to furnish it. This hunter was in a bad fix and had to kill game to sustain the life of himself and his family. As he trudged along in the then wild woods he saw a deer feeding under a tree. Being in rifle range he shot and the deer fell. The hungry man’s heart leaped with joy, but the next instant his heart almost stood still and his blood chilled for he saw a panther leap out of the tree under which the deer was and pounce on the game. when the hunter realized that the panther took possession of the deer he was for a moment dumbfounded, then coming to himself in a terror stricken way, threw down his empty rifle and did not stop running until he reached home. On the following day he collected his sense together and ventured back to recover his gun and found that the beast had devoured a part of the deer and covered up the remainder with trash and grass. He did not stay long on the scene for fear the panther would jog his memory of the previous day and left the spot in haste." This was in Marion County, Arkansas.

Another sketch of this kind is given by Elijah Ford, the old timer of Ozark County, Mo. Mr. Ford said that while living with his brother, William Ford, the latter taken sick and requested him to go to Forsyth and procure a supply of medicine from Dr. Maynard. "My brother," said Mr. Ford, "was living on the first farm on Little North Fork on the east side below the mouth of Bratton’s Spring Creek. It was a cold day when I started. The wind blew fiercely from the northwest. I left home in the afternoon and the cold air chilled my face and limbs. At night I stopped with a settler on the left prong of Big Creek and stayed overnight. Next morning as I rode on up Big Creek the weather seemed to grow colder and more penetrating. The road was only a path and it lead over the divide to Brushy Creek. As I rode along the Bald Hill before getting to the latter stream I thought I would freeze to death. I had got into the hollow below the foot of the hill. My body was shivering and my hands and feet ached with cold. I had not rode far down the hollow when my attention was attracted by a noise to the left of the path and just ahead of me. On turning my head in the direction the noise came from I was horrified at the sight of a panther raking leaves over a dead deer with its forepaws which I supposed it had just killed. I forgot now that I was suffering with cold and thought how would I manage to escape the ferocious beast. The trail led in 20 steps of it, but I was riding a fleet horse and concluded I would not attempt to surround it and urged him into a fast run and went by the beast in a rush and yelling at the top of my voice. As I urged my horse forward and before I got opposite the panther it left the deer, walked 7 or 8 feet, and sat down like a cat. I kept my eyes on the panther as I passed it and kept looking back at it until I passed from view of it. The big ugly creature did not seem a bit afraid, but I cannot say that of myself."

A similar story was told by Steadman Forest, son of Jimmie Forest, another old timer of Little North Fork in Ozark County, Mo. Steadman Forest died at Mountain Grove, Webster County, Mo., a. few years ago. Mr. Forest said that while his father kept his cattle on Bratton’s Spring Creek he went to the salt lick one day which his father established four miles above the big spring to kill deer. As it happened which was not usually the case, not a deer showed up for hours but just before my patience was exhausted I noticed a deer approach and come onto the lick ground and stop under a tree. Just as I was preparing to shoot it I saw a panther lying on a limb of the tree 5 or 6 feet above the deer. The panther was certainly in the tree when I arrived and had been crouched on the limb all the while I was watching there. Yet I had not noticed it before. I watched the panther now instead of the deer, but before I could take aim and shoot it it sprang down on the deer’s back. The terrified deer jumped as far as it could and kept jumping round and round with all the strength it could command. The suffering animal as the sharp claws penetrated its flesh did not remain silent but bleated repeatedly. The motion of the deer was so rapid that I knew I could not touch the panther if I shot. In a small space of time the panther lay flat down on the deer’s back and seemed to sink its sharp claws and teeth deeper inflicting terrible wounds. After several hard struggles to hurl the panther from its back and not succeeding it stood motionless for two or three seconds as if collecting its mind and strength together. Then it straightened itself out as if to make a last effort and left the lick grounds in a fast run. The swift fleeing animal with its terrible burden on its back soon passed from view with the panther still clinging to it. I had no dog with me and declined to follow the trail without one but I suppose the deer ran until its strength was exhausted and was soon overcome and slain by the dreaded beast."

Next Story

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

Springfield-Greene County Library