The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The Friend brothers, Steve and Jim, sons of Peter Friend, give an account of seeing two bucks engaged in a desperate combat on Cedar Creek one mile below the present site of Dugginsville in Ozark County, Mo. They made a terrible noise clashing their horns together. There were other deer standing near the fighting bucks which seemed surprised as the battle went on and reminded the men of human spectators when they were viewing anything interesting to their eyes. "But when we advanced up nearer the fighting animals these deer ran away. But the two buck were too busy to pay any attention to us and went on with the fight several minutes more, when they separated and ran beyond our view. While they were battling together they would temporarily separate at times 7 or 8 yards distant, then clash together again. They were active and fought rapidly. One was much larger than the other. The large one whipped the smaller one and when he wheeled to run the big one gave pursuit. We did not follow them. This occurred in 1871."

"Many years ago," says Mike Yocum, son of Asa Yocum, "I saw two savage bucks on the river bluff below the Panther Bottom. I was afoot horse hunting and heard a terrible racket on the bluff mentioned and on approaching the spot where I heard the noise I discovered two bucks engaged in a mighty conflict. I stood and watched them intently. Very soon their horns become locked fast together. The animals exerted all the strength in their power in trying to get apart. They would surge, pull, twist, rear and plunge, run up against trees, run over saplings and would have run over me if I had stood in their way. After I viewed them for about an hour they continued to force themselves apart. Each buck now seemed willing to quit and when they found they were free away they both went in opposite directions. This occurred in 1867. The scene was just over the line in what is now Cedar Creek township in Marion County," said Mr. Yocum.

George Billings gives the following account. "One day," said he, "while I and Eli Welch were hunting on Sister Creek south of White River and as we went on over the rough ground we separated to get together again before night. While I was alone my attention was called to a loud noise up,on a steep hillside above me. The sound resembled two bulls fighting, but I was satisfied it was bucks. I soon got in sight of them and sure enough it proved to be bucks. The combat was desperate. Their ferocity astonished me, and I viewed them as they put forth their great strength with much interest. The clashing of their horns together sounded loud. As they fought they worked down the hillside. At times one would get the advantage and would turn his adversary almost a summersault but he would up and come again as lively as before. After a while one of the bucks backed up against a small tree and braced himself and the efforts of his enemy to push him away were fruitless. The buck seemed determined to hold the ground here at this tree. I shot one of the bucks down and after he fell the other seemed highly delighted for from his actions he thought he had vanquished his enemy and acted more like a rooster exulting over his fallen antagonist. After I reloaded my gun I shot at him but missed. But the second shot brought him down by the side of the other buck. By this time my companion joined me and we dressed the deer and carried them home. Both were in splendid order and each carried 5 points on each beam. One deer weighed 105 and the other 106 net." This occurred in Marion County, Arkansas.

John Mosely, the old timer of Taney County, Mo., furnished an account of seeing two bucks fight during the Civil War which he told in the following way. "I and Bill Teaugue were out on the Bald Hills of Cedar Creek which flows into the river below Beaver. We had separated and had just passed out of sight of each other when I spied two bucks fighting on a bald hill over a quarter of a mile distant from me. Their actions indicated that they were trying to kill each other. I could distinctly hear the clashing of their horns when they would run together after separating a moment or so. After I had watched their fast maneuvers and listened at the noise they made for a short while I concluded to approach nearer and kill them both for a good fat buck was worth a great deal in the way of food in war times. The meat was worth more to me and my family than the curiosity of seeing them fight. When I got in shooting distance I aimed at one and fired but the animals were in such a terrible motion and as the battle went on I supposed my bullet never touched the buck or he would have been apt to have shown some effect of it. I shot the second time but the fight went on for it appeared that they dodged this bullet too. A third shot was fired on them but the result was the same as before. 0f course, I was excited and liable to make a miss shot if they had been the size of elephants. During the fight the bucks changed around so much that it kept me on the run to keep in rifle range of them. After two more shots I could tell no difference in their movements. I was wasting too much ammunition for nothing, for powder and lead was then worth something too. But I decided that if they were able to continue the fight I could furnish ammunition in shooting at them so I reloaded my gun again but when I reached down in the shot pouch for the cap box it was gone. I had lost it since I had reloaded the last time. I laid my gun down in the grass and commenced crawling around on my hands and knees in search of the percussion caps. At this moment the bucks quit fighting and one of them seeing me crawling in the grass come up in ten paces of me to see what I resembled. He stopped and took a long look at me. His hair was ruffled and the beast seemed mad. I was not mad but I was scared. I thought he meant to attack me. I wanted to be a way off somewhere else but I had no hope of getting away without permission from that buck. I would have climbed a tree but there were no trees near me. I dared not run for I knew if he gave pursuit he would overhaul me in a few moments. The suspense was trying on my nerves. If an artist could have happened along then with his camera and took our pictures the scene would have been amusing but it was not funny to me then. I kept my position and waited to see what the deer was going to do and wondered how long before he would pitch at me and gore me to death. Just imagine yourself in my place and you have an idea how I felt. But the fierce looking beast did not move any closer to me, but he was a furious looking animal and had fight in his eyes. I remained as motionless as possible and kept my eyes on him all the time, but it was not long before I heard the footsteps of some other animal approaching and I glanced my eyes toward the direction of the noise and peered through the opening in the grass and my blood almost froze at the sight of the other buck coming toward me. I thought now if one did not do me up the other would be sure to. I give up for lost, all hope of life was gone. As the seconds flitted away I could hear my heart throbs. It was heart trouble brought on through fear of an attack from one or both of those horned beasts. But to my joy when the other buck had walked up close to me the other attacked him and they engaged in another fierce conflict. Now was my time and I made good use of it by quickly rising on my feet and fleeing away from there. But when I reached a safe distance I halted and viewed the animals fight again. While the combat was going on my companion joined me again and after I had related to him the ill luck I had in shooting at them and the amusing adventure I had with them he intimated that it would be no trouble to him to kill them both so advancing up in 50 yards of the fighting animals he blazed away at one with the same success I had. After reloading he shot again with no better luck. This was 7 shots in all and not a scrap of venison in our possession. After the bucks had fought a short while longer they separated and both ran off. After a close and tedious search we found my cap box. Then Bill Teaugue says, "John, I am bound to have a taste of one of them bucks," and he put his dog on the trail of one of them and the dog run it into Beaver Creek and Joe Mosely, a son of mine, shot and killed the deer and we all feasted on venison while it lasted. If I ever witness another encounter between bucks I want to be up a tree and not on the ground," said Uncle John as he ended his story.

July 29, 1902

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