The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

"Though I never delighted in hunting for deer or other game, settlers all round me killed fine bucks and big bears, said Mr. George Trammel, an old pioneer of Crooked Creek in Boone County, Ark. "Away back in 1842, when I was seven years old, Bill Freeman and a man of the name of Ross, who were accompanied by two other men, with several dogs went out into the hills south of Crooked Creek to kill game and in a few hours the dogs discovered a fresh trail of a bear and followed after it in a lively manner until they overhauled him and a sharp chase ensued when the bear took refuge in a cave. When the hunters come up to the mouth of the cave they agreed that one of them ought to go in and reach for his bearship and after a torch was made one of the men took the light in one hand and a gun in the other and went into the cave, but made his exit in a few minutes and reported that he was not able to find bruin. Then one of the other men signified their intention of making a search for the animal and went in and come out without any better success. And the third man did not succeed any better. It was not Rosses turn to go in and he told the other men that he intended to locate the bear before he come back and with the light in his left hand and his rifle in the other he passed in and the light from his torch was soon lost to view. After the man was gone awhile they heard his hallooing In distress. The men on the outside believed that bruin had attacked their friend and was killing him. One of the men wanted to go to his assistance, but his companions objected. "Their excuse was that there was nothing to prepare another torch, and it would be foolish to go in the cave without one. They said it was best to not send the dogs in for it would make matters worse for the man and in their fear and excitement they decided that it was best not attempt to interfere in the dark. They did not know what was best to do unless it was to stay out and while they were engaged In suggesting plans and discussing them pretty lively bruin come out among them unexpected. He was in the midst of the men and dogs before they could think twice. The men jumped out of bruin’s way and gave him all the room necessary but the dogs were fearless and showed fight. The three men after running a few yards and seeing that the dogs had brought the bear to bay they stopped and went back and fired three balls Into the bear’s body and the big black animal yielded up his life and sank down among the dogs. Just after the bear was dead Mr. Ross made his appearance out of the cave with his clothes all torn and covered with dirt and his back gave evidence of bad treatment. The man was in a condition of excitement and his actions resembled a horse that was shieing at some object. After his nerves got in better shape for talking he said that he had a close call from bruin. After he had passed into the mouth of the cavern he examined every ledge and offshoot as he went along until the cave narrowed down and after he had proceeded a few yards further he saw the bear by the light of the torch. The beast was lying down but when the light flashed on his he raised up and made a rush at him. "I had no time to shoot or turn round before it struck against me and knocked me down, If said Rose, "and as it passed over me it pressed me so hard against the floor of the cave that the beast nearly squeezed me to death and this accounts for the deep lines of gashes it made on my back with its rough claws as it went over me. It was then that I stood in need of help. However. I might have called for assistance until doomsday without you men offering to extend a helping hand to me. When the bear struck me the torch was knocked from my hand and extinguished, and when it passed over me and went on I followed it out." After Mr. Ross had got in a better humor they all removed the hide of the bear and dress the meat and cut it into chunks and put it into sacks and loaded It onto their ponies and carried it home that evening. This was on Saturday and on the following Sunday religious services were held in the neighborhood. Rosses wounds, though very sore from his contact with the bear did not prevent him from attending meeting which he seemed to enjoy much better than an encounter with an angry bear in a cave or elsewhere, and after services were dismissed, Mr. Ross told all his friends how bruin tickled his back with his claws."

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