The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In collecting accounts of mishaps to hunters and the dangers to life while hunting after wild turkey we submit the following which was given me by Mr. Steve Friend. Said he "Jack Davis who once lived on the old Peter Friend farm on White River between the mouth of Big Creek and Bull Bottom. As is well known this land lies on the right bank of White River in Franklin Township Marion County, Ark. was a famed hunter after wild turkeys and did not want one to escape him if he could prevent it. On a certain date while Davis lived on this farm there was a freshet in the river and while the water was bankfull he went up to the Poll Clark Ford which is just below the mouth of Big Creek and noticed a flock of wild turkeys on the opposite side of the river, which caused the hunter to be very anxious to secure a fat gobler which he knew was in the bunch rather than miss the oppertunity of loosing it he decided to risk the great danger of crossing the river in a canoe that was kept near this ford and so he got in the dug out boat with his rifle and headed the bow end for the north side of the stream. He intended to land the little tottery craft just above the tow head of a small iseland that was covered with timber but the water proved so swift that the boat was swept to far down and was carried in among the trees on the iseland, and the canoe struck against a tree side ways and turned bottom upwards. The rifle went to the bottom but Davis caught to the limb of a tree and pulled himself up out of the water and up the tree out of danger. The canoe went on downstream. The accident or misshap was done so quick that Davis could hardly realize whether It was a reality or imagination and he pinched himself to know whether he was wide awake or dreaming. But it was no dream and neither was it imagination. But here he was in a tree 60 yards from shore with the water splashing and roaring as it ran swiftly among the timber. The tree that the hunter had taken refuge in was a small one and the force of the water and the mans weight made the little tree tremble and bend. The hunter was in sore straits. His yells of distress was heard by his wife and she went up to the ford to find out what was the matter and was sorrow to see her husband in a tree surrounded by the rolling and foaming water. She was unable to render him any assistance. But she notified a neighbor who lived on the river below them but it was out of his power to give him aid at the present time and like the hunters wife was compelled to look on without being of any benefit to him. Night ushered in and the discouraged turkey hunter had no better prospect of being rescued than at first. Soon after dark two men chanced to pass along on the bank on the side he was on which was the nearest to him. Davis heard them talking and he let himself be known and the trouble he had got into. They informed him that it was out of their power to help him then but they would rescue him in the morning. They both remained on the shore all night and kept hallooing at the hunter to keep him awake for they were afraid that he might go to sleep and fall into the water and drowned but the man knew what he was doing and needed no urging to keep his eyes open except that of the roaring water. When day light appeared it was found that the water had receded a few feet. It still covered the iseland but the current was not so swift as the day previous. As soon as the two men had procured tools and more help they constructed a small but stout raft of logs and two of the men got on this ill provised craft and with considerable difficulty they managed to reach the tree where Davis was and took him aboard of this newly made float and guided it back and put him ashore. Mr. Davis had passed a restless night as well as his wife had. Though he was saved but he was not at home yet and was compelled to remain away from there until he could find a canoe to cross over which he aid on the following day after the two men had taken him out on the raft. In the mean time the water had continued to subside and there was no trouble experienced in crossing. After the river had fell enough he went over to the tree where he had camped in and found his rifle lying at the foot of the tree imbeded in the mud. Though this mishap did not prevent Jack from killing more turkeys thereafter but he was a much wiser man and did not cross the river any more to kill a turkey when it was at flood tide. Mr. Davis is dead now and his remains lies buried in the grave yard near Dugginsville, Mo. During Civil War times he was a soldier in the Federal Army."

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