The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Several years ago the writer had a pleasant interview with J. W. (Wes) Henderson at his home near Dugginsville, Mo. He is a son of "Chris" Henderson, the famed hunter who once lived on Shoal Creek. "Wes" Henderson’s father was born in Tennessee. His grandfather was Edward Henderson. Chris Henderson, the father of Wes Henderson, lived some time in Whitney County, Kentucky, when he was a boy. He died at the age of 82 years. Wes Henderson died November 26, 1905, and his body was given burial in the graveyard near Dugginsville. He was born on Black River in the state of Arkansas in 1843. In the conversation with him at the time I speak of he said that he had hunted in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas the greater part of his life or as long as any game existed of importance and says he, "I will tell you of the incidents only that come under my personal observations. The first story of hunting I will give you is about a fight I had with a wounded buck once on Bennettes Bayou in Fulton County, Ark. One morning soon after sunrise I put on a new white shirt made of domestic and went into the woods to kill a deer, and the first one I seen was a small spike buck standing in the head of a hollow with its body partly hidden behind a tree. It was some distance to the animal but I took chances and shot at its neck and the deer fell. I supposed I had killed it but as I walked up to it I changed my mind as to its being dead for the distance was so great from where I had shot at it that I reached the conclusion that I had stunned it only. So taking my butcher knife from the scabbard I stabbed it with the knife. Just as the sharp point of the blade penetrated the flesh the little deer jumped up, but it was not in a fighting humor and started and ran 30 paces and stopped and lay down. Instead of reloading my rifle and shooting it the second time as I should have done I dropped the gun and ran to where the deer lay and struck it again with the knife. The buck was very sick from the effects of its wounds or it would not have let me got to it without a fight or run. The knife as it pierced the deer’s flesh aroused the animal again from its stupor and it leaped up and struck my arm with its head and knocked the knife from my hand. The little buck was angry now and made fight. Its hair was bushed up. Its eyes looked fiery and I knew now that it had rather fight than to run and so we come to close quarters. The fight was not on long before the deer hurled me down on my back. The fall hurt me severely and I was not able for the time to get on my feet again or turn over even and the enraged beast stood over me and pawed my breast until I imagined I could see hundreds of stars in the elements. Fortunately for me the deer become very sick and ceased to strike me with its forefeet and went off a few yards and lay down. I was bad wounded and my new shirt was torn into tatters. I lay there a few minutes feeling more dead than alive. Then I felt better and after I had rested longer I managed to get on my feet again and felt much wiser than I did when I was stabbing the deer, and in place of picking up the knife and using it as I did before I picked up the gun and reloaded it and shot the buck and killed it. The fight with that buck learned me an important lesson how to avoid another combat with a wounded deer. At another time while I lived on Bennettes Bayou," continued Mr. Henderson, "while I was out a hunting one day I seen two bucks hung together by the horns. One of them was large and the other one was small. The largest one was dead and the little one was so nigh dead that it was not able to pull its dead antagonist over the ground. I finished its life by picking up a stone and hitting it on the head. with it. Then I cut both their heads off and hung them up on a limb of a tree and went on with my day’s hunt. In about three months after this I went back there and brought the skulls and horns home. I will now tell you about killing two deer at one shot," said Mr. Henderson. "One day while I was hunting in that deep rough hollow called Sugar Camp that mouths into White River opposite the old Joe Magness Bottom in Marion County, Ark. This hollow is in Franklin Township. Not finding any game worth shooting at up in the hollow I went down the hollow to the mouth of it and seen two deer on the shore on the opposite side of the river from me. They were standing side and side with broadsides toward me. The river was past fording and it was a long distance across to where the deer were standing, but I decided that I could reach them with a bullet and aimed my gun at them and fired. One of the deer fell at the edge of the water. The other one started to run, but it tumbled over too, when it had got only a few feet from its mate. They both lay still and I knew I had killed them both at one shot. I never knew exactly how far the deer were from me when I shot them but it was not less than 210 yards. The only way I had to get to my dead game was to borrow a canoe, which I did and went across the river and saved the pelts and meat. One of them was a buck and the other a doe." Mr. Henderson went on to say that he killed two more deer at one shot on Caney Creek that empties into Beaver Creek below Bradleyville in Taney County, Mo. "I was on the side of a hill and noticed a deer lying down some 40 yards below me. I shot at its head and after my
bullet had crashed through its brain it sped on and struck another deer and lodged in the heart. This deer was also lying down a few yards below the one I shot at, but I did not see it until after the bullet struck it which caused the animal to leap up high and hit the ground on its feet. Then
it sprang about ten feet and fell dead. The one I shot through the head never got up until I hung it up on the limb of a tree. "I will now tell you about the killing of a lot of wild turkeys one day on this same Caney Creek where I killed the two deer. I was then using my father’s old target gun and it always brought down game if it was directed right. Before starting out that day I had only three bullets and no more lead to mold any more. This was my only chance for the present and I would have to make the three balls go as far toward killing game as I could make them go. I had went more than a mile from the house when I noticed a big flock of turkeys which were bunched close together. I shot into the middle of the flock and killed three of them. The others rose and flew away. When I had reloaded my gun I picked up the three dead turkeys and started back toward home with them. I had not gone far before I saw another bunch of turkeys huddled close together and holding up their heads as high as they could stretch their necks. I sent a bullet in among them and killed three of them. The remaining ones went off like the first ones did. I now had six dead turkeys on hand and all full grown and they were very heavy to carry. Before starting on I reloaded my gun with the remaining bullet. Just before reaching my cabin I discovered another flock of turkeys which were not huddled so close together as the others were, but I aimed my gun at a few that were standing the closest together and fired and the result was that two of them were killed and another one was wounded so severely that I caught it after following it a half a mile. This was nine turkeys I had killed with three shots and three bullets. The biggest deer I ever killed in my life was done on this same creek and it weighed 151 pounds after it was dressed. This was what I called a large deer and those of that size were not numerous in Taney County," said the old veteran hunter.

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