The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In continuing his hunting stories Mr. Calvin Clark says, "I remember catching two turkey gobblers on Big Creek one day while they were fighting. They were fagged so bad when I approached them that they paid no attention to me. I caught one by the neck and the other by the wing. Their resistance was feeble until after they had rested. Then I had to kill them to prevent them from fluttering loose from me. I have heard of hunters killing two deer at one shot when they did not see but one deer when they shot, but on going up they would find two dead deer instead of one. I killed two fine gobblers under the same circumstances once, in dry hollow that runs into Little North Fork ¾ of a mile above Thornfield, Mo. I had called up a gobbler and shot it dead. But on going to it I heard a fluttering close by in the grass and looked and seen another gobbler in the agony of death. I did not see or hear but the one turkey when I shot. Both birds were in line with the bullet. Another peculiar thing about this was that the bullet entered the breast of each turkey where the beard had growed out and cut part of the hair from each beard. This little incident reminds me of another strange thing, which a hunter occasionally meets with," said Mr. Clark. "One day while I was hunting on the right hand prong of Big Creek I saw a turkey sitting on top of a sharp rise of ground above me. At the moment of pulling the trigger of my rifle to shoot it through the body it squatted down to fly and it rose and flew just at the report of the gun. After flying about 75 yards I seen it drop to the ground. When I went to it I found that its head was shot off. To make it more plainer the turkey was just in the act of flying when the bullet hit its head and I suppose that it had started with such momentum that it kept its wings in operation that distance before its life was entirely extinct. While I am talking about wild turkeys I seen another singular circumstance one day on this same creek where I have hunted so much. I and my father, Billy Clark, were together in the creek bottom and seen a turkey sitting in the top of a dead cedar tree which stood on the brink of a bluff. This bluff is about 150 feet high. We were at the foot of the bluff when we noticed the turkey which was sitting nearly over us. Father shot the turkey but had to point his gun nearly straight up when he fired. At the report of the rifle the turkey rose straight up and kept rising upward until it seemed no larger than a snow bird. Then it fell back to the ground. Its body whirled over several times as it descended swiftly down. It struck the ground about 100 yards from where we were standing. The ball from the rifle had tore through its breast leaving only a small fragment of the turkey’s heart." Mr. Clark in mentioning his father’s bee hunting says that during the month of February and the early part of March in 1845 the weather was remarkably warm for the time of year. There were plenty of wild blooms and grass by the 10th of March. Bees worked nearly all the time and his father found 16 bee trees during the month of February In the vicinity of the mouth of Shoal Creek. The furtherest tree was not over two miles from the mouth of the creek.

In speaking of the killing of deer Mr. Clark said that one day in 1851 while he was hunting on Shoal Creek about one mile above the mouth he heard a splashing in a pool of water in the creek. After advancing up closer where he obtained a better view he seen a very small bodied buck in the water which carried an enormous pair of horns. There were nine points on one beam and ten on the other. The horns appeared so large that they were out of all proportion to the size of the deer’s body. "I shot the deer and killed it. You have already obtained an account of the largest and fattest buck my brother, Bill Clark, killed which was near the spring where Dugginsville, Mo., now stands. The largest and fattest buck I ever killed was at the mouth of a hollow that the early settlers called Devil’s Branch which puts into the river just above the mouth of Coon Creek. I and Isaiah Wilkerson were fire hunting one night and intended to run down as far as mouth of Little North Fork, but when I shot this buck and had loaded it into the canoe we considered the size so great that we gave up the hunt for the night and floated down opposite home and dressed the deer which netted 150 lbs. Its horns were large having nine points on one beam and eleven on the other. The fat in places on its body was three inches thick. The venison was so delicious to the taste that I took my father a mess of it and told him that it was fat beef. He did not know the difference until after I had told him better.

The most deer I ever killed from the same tree was four which all fell near together. This was three miles west of the present site of Thornfield, Mo. There were five deer in the bunch which were in range of my rifle and I shot one and broke its back. The other four deer stood near the floundering animal until I reloaded and repeated the shots until three more fell. When the fourth deer fell the remaining one took fright and run a few yards and stopped until I reloaded my gun but when I aimed the gun and pulled the trigger the gun failed to discharge and away the deer went. But I had enough on hand now to give me plenty of work for awhile. As I have told this story I had just as well tell you the other one which I did not aim to tell you for it might sound unreasonble, but it is true. One day while I was passing the John Morris place at the forks of Big Creek in Taney Co., Mo., I noticed a large flock of turkey just ahead of me crowded into a path. The trail was straight at that part of it. The turkeys were going from me. I lowered myself and with my old favorite muzzle loader I shot in among their necks and heads and six of the turkey yielded up their lives to one ball. It was the heaviest load of turkeys I ever carried home alone. Now for another story and I will quit you for the present," said Mr. Clark, "Hunters used to play tricks on each other to have a great long loud laugh about it. In a few cases the ones who were beat would get mad and would not get in a good humor for some time. One night in August and a few years before the war, I and Isaiah Wilkerson agreed with the Nipps boys, John and Henry, to fire hunt on alternate nights. That is me and Wilkerson would hunt one night and the other party on the following night. By some means the Nipps boys misunderstood us for it had been agreed between us that I and my companion were to hunt the first night. We started from the mouth of Long Bottom Creek opposite the Bull Bottom, but after we had drifted down a short distance we found the other party ready to start too. We tried to prevail on them to keep their word, but they said that we were the ones that failed to keep the agreement. We discussed the matter some time without either side giving way and me and Wilkerson went on and got some distance ahead of the Nipps men before they started. As we were floating slowly along near the mouth of Music Creek we saw a broad flat rock lying in shallow water. We had not seen a deer since we had started, and to have a little fun out of the other party I and Isaiah stopped here and after pulling the canoe on some rocks so it would not drift away we hurriedly placed the rock on its edge and propped it. The under surface was the color of a deer (red) and we left this part of the stone facing the channel where the boys would pass. The shape of the rock resembled the body of a deer in a dim light. We now hurried on a short distance further and concealed ourselves and canoe behind a little toehead and put out the torch light and waited for our friends to get in view of the stone. After awhile their torch hove in sight and getting down close to the rock they observed the outlines of it in the water which they took for a deer at once and shot five times at it before discovering their mistake. Mr and Wilkerson roared out with laughter now and the boys heard us and they got fighting mad and declared war at once. I and Wilkerson were not in a fighting humor and we told them it was not necessary to fight, that we could get along without it and we finally patched up a treaty of peace and me and Wilkerson got off without a fight, but the other side was slow in getting in a better humor."

The fire hunting that Mr. Clark refers to was in White River over the line in Marion Co., Ark. The mouth of Shoal Creek is in the edge of Boone Co., Ark.

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