The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

From the wagon road that leads from Protem to Hercules in Taney County, Mo., we have a fine view of the west prong of Big Creek. From that part of the road that leads along the high timbered ridge 9 miles north of the first named town, bald hills with skirts of timber and deep hollows form an entertaining view. Beyond this to the east is the valley of the east fork of Big Creek. Further on is seen the high hills that divide that part of Big Creek and the pond fork. A short time before the death of Wes Henderson he told me the following account. "I had heard of catamounts attacking deer but I never witnessed that sight until one day while I was hunting on the left prong of Big Creek near where the wagon way passes along the divide between this prong and the breaks of Caney Creek. I was on the slope of a hill and noticing a bunch of deer on the hillside above me which attracted my attention in a manner that I stood and watched them without making an effort to kill one at the present. There were six bucks and six does and just as many big fawns as there were does. The fawns were almost as large as yearling deer and they were trying to suck the does, but they and the bucks would not let them. The does would kick at them and the bucks would butt them. The old deer were trying to wean the young deer but the youngsters were stubborn and refused to be weaned. It was a curiosity to watch all their actions—the young deer in trying to suck and the old ones in trying to prevent them. It was amusing as well as curious but after a while I became weary of waiting and watching and shot at one of the bucks and wounded it and it ran down the hill into a hollow below me where I saw him stop and lay down. The other deer went in an opposite direction. I started on down the hill toward where the wounded buck had laid down. Before I had approached close enough to it to shoot it the second time the buck got up and ran up the hollow. I now saw that it was hobbling along, for my bullet had broken the bone of one thigh. Soon after it had passed beyond my view I heard a racket up the hollow the way the buck had gone. Thinking that the deer had fallen and was floundering around in its death struggles, I went on down into the hollow and saw the buck come running back down the hollow toward me with a catamount on its back. The frightened deer did not notice me and came swiftly on and as it darted on down the hollow it knocked the hold of the cat partly loose and it was hanging down and clinging on with its claws. I had just reloaded my gun and when the deer and cat were in 25 feet of me I shot the buck down. The ball from my gun had took effect in the deer’s neck and broken it. The buck as it fell turned a sommersault which broke the cat’s hold on the deer and it hit the ground in ten feet of me. The moment the cat recovered itself it looked at me and bushed up its hair and growled at me. I jerked my butcher knife from the scabbard and stood a moment with it in my hand. The cat was very angry and seemed to grow more furious. I now reloaded my gun in haste and held the knife in my hand while I was reloading. I expected it to attack me every moment. But just as I finished loading the gun and almost ready to shoot the vicious animal, it darted off and was soon out of my sight. Of course the buck was dead."

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