The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Amusing as well as serious accounts have been told me by hunters of their encounters with catamounts while in the woods hunting.

William Brownstep, son of Allin Trimble, informed me that one day while he was hunting in Big Beach Hollow near the division line between Franklin and Crocket townships in Marion County, Ark., he went down near the mouth of the hollow and sat down on a log to rest. This log lay near the river bank and was close to the log chute. "I was very tired," said he, "and after I had sat down on the log I became drowsy and went to sleep, but was roused from slumber by a noise and when I opened my eyes a catamount was standing in a few feet of me with its hair bushed up. The vicious animal was growling and getting itself in shape to attack me. I leveled my rifle at it at once and sent a ball crashing through its brains which relieved my anxiety for it is useless for me to say that I was not scared."

An amusing incident similar to this occurred to Mr. Fate Jones, son of John Jones, who settled the Jim Dean farm on the top of the bluff in Keesee township in Marion County, Ark., and opposite Bradleys Ferry. Mr. Jones said that one day he got among a large flock of turkeys on the north side of the river and after killing two of them the remainder rose and flew across the river and lit in the face of the bluff just below the mouth of Little Beach Hollow at the log chute we have just mentioned. Jones got in a canoe and followed the turkeys across the river, but by the time he got across the turkeys had scattered in the face of the bluff and Jones seated himself between two cedar logs that lay 2 ½ feet apart, one of which rested on a rock and was 3 feet above the ground. These logs lay near a ledge of rock near 6 feet high. The two cedars had been cut down by someone and the limbs were trimmed off. "When I sat down I rested my back against a water oak tree. Then I began yelping with my turkey caller that I manufactured out of the wingbone of a turkey. I was well concealed and nothing could see me until I was approached in a few feet of me except in front. As I went on calling I was on the watch for an approaching turkey to come up in front. I had called some minutes when on sudden an animal came crashing over the dead cedar limbs and alighted in a few feet of me. Without taking time to look around to see what it was but thinking it was a panther, I vacated the spot instantly by sliding feet foremost down the bluff and under the cedar log that was resting on the rock. While I was crawfishing under the log my coat which was of new homemade jeans that my mother had made me hung to a snag by the tail and thinking the beast had hold of it I gave a deafening yell and lunged forward with all the strength I had and tore loose. Then I rolled down the cliff without injuring myself, then leaped as far as I could down the bluff hallooing as loud as I could and then I stopped and looked back up the bluff for my enemy and saw a huge catamount go sneaking up the bluff above from where I had retreated from. The beast seemed as bad surprised as I was. After it had gone beyond my view I went back and recovered my rifle that I had dropped in the exciting scramble of getting away."

Frank Jones, brother of Fate Jones, said that one day while sitting on the top of the bluff on the north side of the river just above Bradleys Ferry he began to call turkeys. He was sitting against an ash sapling that stood among a small thicket of privy brushes and while he was calling in a busy way a catamount crept up and sprang against the sapling that Jone’s back was resting against which gave him a jar and fright too. Leaping to his feet he turned to look and the cat seeing its mistake turned and fled down the bluff. Mr. Jones said he followed the cat and shot and wounded it and killed it with a second shot.

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