The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Rather an amusing story of hunting squirrels is told by Mr. Isaac Copelin, son of John and Tyne (Keesee) Copelin. Mr. Copelin formerly lived on his father’s old farm at the Buck Shoals Ford of White River in Marion County, Ark., but his present residence is on the Wagoner sheep ranch just over the line in Taney County, Mo. In reciting the story Mr. Copelin said that one day while living at the Buck Shoals Ford he took his axe and dogs and went up on the hill to hunt for squirrels and saw a fox squirrel run into a hollow tree and "after I had chopped the tree down," said he, "I saw eight grown fox squirrels run in. The squirrels made their exit one after the other and as they ran out they scattered and the dogs stood and looked foolish for they did not know which ones of the squirrels to pursue. In the excitement of the moment while chasing the squirrels and throwing stones at them after they had got up trees, I lost my pocketbook which contained $40 and $30 worth of notes. I then quit the squirrel business and searched diligently for my money and notes the remainder of the day without succeeding in finding it and offered a reward of $5 to any person who would find the pocketbook and return all the money and notes. But no one was lucky enough to find it except myself and I was the finder of it on the following day and saved the reward."

This land near this ford of White River is certainly a lucky place for squirrels for Mr. Arch Anderson informed me one day that while hunting in the river bottom near this same ford he noticed a lot of squirrels playing on the ground and the dogs chased them all up one tree and he counted 24 squirrels up the same tree. Mr. Anderson said that he shot squirrels out of this tree until he became weary of the sport and quit.

"Talk about squirrel stories." said Ben McKinney, who is an old resident of Keesee Township in Marion County, Ark., "I remember that one day while I was hunting on Shoal Creek below where I live I noticed five gray squirrels playing on a cedar log that lay in the face of the creek bluff. The top end of the log pointed down the bluff. Very soon the squirrels quit the log and joined an immense bunch of squirrels which I now saw in a low swag in the face of the bluff which was in plain view from where I stood. This swag or sink was near 20 feet square and it was fairly lined with squirrels and were all gray ones. I had my gun with me but no dog. I was so astonished at the sight of so many squirrels that I made no effort to shoot at any of them. It was the largest bunch of squirrels that I ever saw together before. They were all chattering and playing. After I had watched them nearly 10 minutes part of them left the swag and ran up a cedar tree and the tree seemed to be alive with them. In a short while longer the entire bunch disappeared from my view. I had no way of counting them but I made as accurate an estimate of the number as I could and I think there was not less than 300 of them if not more."

Jerry Hutchison informed me one day in 1895 that while his father lived near where Isabella Post Office in Ozark County, Mo., is, his brother George Hutchison shot and killed 80 squirrels during two days in succession, or in other words killed 40 each day. They were shot on the fence and in the trees around the field.

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