The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following account of shooting the heart of two wild turkeys to pieces and the length of time they lived was told me by old time hunters. These accounts sound stranger than fiction, but I do not doubt the veracity of the men who told It. Here is what one of them said. "I will tell you about shooting a wild turkey through the heart one day and how it lived afterward," said Calvin Vance. "I was living then on West Sugar Loaf Creek in Boone County, Ark. I had shot the turkey the third time with a rifle. At the third shot it rose and flew several hundred yards, when it lit on the ground and the dogs, after pursuing it 60 yards, caught it. The Hunter boys, Bill and Henry, took the turkey away from the dogs and carried it alive to the house, but it died soon after they got there. While dressing it we were astonished to find that the three rifle balls had passed through the turkey’s breast and tore its heart to pieces."

The other man’s story is as follows, and was given me by Rufe Haskins who said that one day in the pioneer times of Ozark County, Mo., and while he lived on Barren Fork of Little North Fork he shot and crippled a wild turkey a mile from his home. The turkey was so bad hurt that it could neither fly nor run and staggered around like an intoxicated man. I picked up the turkey and took it home alive and turned it loose In the yard until my wife could heat some water to dress it. In the meantime the turkey got in between some bee gums and the wall of the house and when the water was hot enough to scald the feathers, I pulled the turkey from its hiding place and cut its head off for it was still alive. While I and wife was dressing the turkey we discovered that the bullet had hit its heart and only a few small fragments of this organ was left and it is strange to me how it lived so long after its heart had been shot away.

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