The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

One of the old time hunters who was born and raised on White River In Marion County, Ark., had this to say of his early day hunting. "I can tell you of a few things of hunting, but I don’t think many people will be much interested in it. The fattest deer I ever killed was a buck which I shot on the east bank of Little North Fork. There was a layer of pure fat an inch thick over the greater part of its body. The flesh of this deer tasted much better than venison usually does.

"One day in the month of February, 1856, while the big snow covered the ground and while I was hunting in the hills on the opposite side of the river from the mouth of Jimmies Creek I saw six deer standing in a group and I fired my gun into the bunch and killed two of them at one shot. My bullet passed through the neck of one of them and it dropped dead on the snow and the bullet after passing through the neck of the first hit another deer In the breat and it ran 100 yards before it fell. Three deer were the most I ever killed from the same tree which was done at the head of Sister Creek near where the tall hills called the Three Brothers is. The animals did not all fall in a heap though for they fell 20 steps apart. The greatest number of deer I helped to kill during the run of one night was eight. I was a young man then. I and Jim Hall, a brother of mine, went fire hunting in a big canoe from the mouth of Little North Fork down to the mouth of Bruce’s Creek. Five of them were bucks. As we would kill one we would pull it into the canoe and by the time we landed our canoe at the mouth of Bruce’s Creek we had about as many dead deer in our canoe as we desired. Though I was born and reared on White River yet I never saw but 25 deer in one bunch. How come me not to see more of them together, I cannot explain for there were plenty of them here. I was never successful on a bear chase, but other settlers went for them pretty lively. I well remember of my father Dave Hall and two of my brothers, Absalum and Willoughby Hall, going out into the hills on the north side of the river in the vicinity of the three brothers. There was snow on the ground and during the days hunt on the head of Sister Creek they killed six fat bear in caves. Though I never killed any bear, but I know one thing about bear and that is I made it a great success in helping to eat the meat. I never had a fight with a wild beast that wore claws but I came near having a combat with one that had claws once. It came about in this way. Early one morning while we lived on the old farm on White River seven miles below the mouth of Little North Fork my father sent me out to bring the plow horses off of the range and when I had got one-half mile or so from the house my attention was aroused by hearing a loud squall and I saw a big catamount in 15 paces of me. Its back was bowed up like a rainbow and its hair was bushed up. At the same moment I saw the beast I saw three young catamounts the size of half grown house cats hustling up a sapling that stood near the mother catamount. I stood and watched the beast a short while while she was threatening me so heavily for I really thought she was going to attack me and stepped backward away from her a few paces until I saw a stout stick lying on the ground, and picking it up I started slowly toward her and made all the noise I could with the stick by striking it against the ground and weeds. My intention was to bluff her but she came near bluffing me for she held her ground and squalled and growled until I was nearly in striking distance of her and was almost in the act of turning and fleeing from her presence when she turned and ran, which relieved me. I ran back in hearing distance of the house and called the dogs and when they reached me I ran back and found the young cats still up in the sapling and I shook the young animals out of it and the dogs soon dispatched them. I now put the dogs on the trail of the old one, but she escaped. She had just caught a fine gobbler and her and the family of catamounts had it almost devoured when I came along and had the dispute with her." Mr. Joe Hall is the author of the foregoing account.

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