The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

An interesting account of an eagle attacking a deer was furnished me by Mr. Robert Morris, son of James F. Morris who was an old time resident of Shannon County, Mo. Mr. Morris said that he did not witness the incident himself but it was told him by Tom Steelman who was a noted hunter who lived in the northeast part of Shannon County near where the Current River crosses the division line between Texas and Shannon Counties. Mr. Morris said in commencing his story that his informant said the story was true and as Steelman was a reliable man he had no right to doubt it. "One day," said Mr. Steelman, "I went out into the woods to kill a deer. There were so many deer in Shannon County at the time I speak of that it was small trouble to find one. A deep snow lay on the ground and it was tedious walking to get along, but hunters in the early days of Shannon County cared little of becoming wearied if they could succeed in killing two or three fine deer, for they could use the venison to eat and the hides to sell. I had not gone more than a mile from home when I saw a small deer and shot and wounded it. The deer ran beyond my view. I followed the trail in the snow and as I went along I found that it was bleeding freely for the snow was stained with blood at every few feet. After I had followed the trail of the deer one half mile I reached the top of a hill where in front of me was a deep hollow. I stopped here a few minutes to rest before going on further and while I was standing there I heard a noise down in the hollow. Then I started on down the hill toward where I heard the racket. Following the trail of the deer as I went along, for it lead in that direction. After I had walked down in eight of where the noise emanated from I stopped and looked down through the timber and saw the glimpse of some object that I took to be the wounded deer down in the bed of the hollow which was narrow. I advanced a little nearer and saw the animal more plainer and it proved to be the same deer. But to my surprise it was standing under a log that was lying across the channel of the hollow and the under part of the log was just above the deer’s back. I was puzzled to know why the animal had got under the log until I heard a whirring sound similar to the noise I heard while I was up on the hill and casting my eyes up above the deer I saw a bald eagle darting down toward the log under which the deer was standing and tried to hit the wounded animal with its talons, but the log was a protection to it, but the deer become scared and ran out from under the log into the open and the moment it got from under the log the eagle rose up in the air again and darted down at the deer again and struck it on its back and remained there until the little deer ran back under the log which knocked the hold of the eagle loose and it rose and flew again. I stood and watched the eagle strike the deer and hold to it until it run back under the log four times and when the eagle drove it from under the log the fifth time and struck it again the deer fell from weakness caused by the gun shot and the painful and powerful strokes from the eagle and was unable to rise to its feet again. I now passed down the hill further where I was in close gun shot range and while the eagle was busy tearing the flesh of the dying deer I shot and killed the eagle and finished the life of the deer by cutting its throat with my knife and after it was dead I picked it and the eagle up and carried them home to show them to my family and neighbors." Mr. Morris told me this at Jackson Switch, Indian Territory, one day in 1906.

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