The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among other stories of killing deer that we have collected from hunters are accounts of the slaying of more than two deer at one shot. This may sound strange to people of the present generation but my informants told me it was true and I have no right to call their words in question.

George Owen, son of Capt. C. C. Owen, informed me one day that on a certain time while snow covered the ground he was hunting on the head of Elbow Creek in Taney County, Mo., and saw 7 deer coming toward him. George said he carried a well loaded shot gun. When the deer approached in 100 yards of him they all stopped and closed up in a bunch and raised their heads high to look at him. "I turned the contents of one barrel of my gun loose at them," said George, "and knocked 4 of them down, but they rose on their feet again and ran beyond my view. I did not follow them. On the following day some parties reported that they found two dead deer in the vicinity of where I met the deer the evening previous. They said that the two animals had been shot recently and we supposed that they were two of the four that I had knocked down."

Jerry Hutchison, a former resident of Ozark County, Mo., says that "many years ago after we located near the present hamlet of Isabella we could not keep the deer out of the field. I remember one year in particular my father had a fine sweet potato patch some distance from the house. After the potatoes were of good size the deer would enter the field of nights and dig them up with their forefeet and eat them. Though we watched the potato patch occasionally of nights and killed a few of the deer but we saved none of the potatoes except what we had used before the deer got them all. I recollect one dark night hearing a great noise up the road which none of us were able to account for until the next morning when we found that two big fat bucks with large antlers had met in the road and fought a terrific combat. The conflict was so severe that they tore up the ground with their feet similar to two savage bulls while fighting. Both animals had their horns locked fast together and were near the scene of the battle. We killed them and saved their hides and meat. One day while my brother, George Hutchison, was out in the forest with his gun he noticed a herd of deer that seemed to have been frightened by some animal, but he could not see anything except the deer which had huddled together like sheep. George fired one shot into the group and killed three of them dead."

Mrs. Celia Clark, widow of the late hunter Bill Clark, says that while they lived above the Arch Tabor place on Big Creek in Taney County, Mo., her husband saw a lot of deer near the house one morning before breakfast and he took down his rifle from the rack and stepped out of the house and killed three of the deer at one shot. The others ran away. Among the three was a spike buck. Mrs. Clark said that she left off preparing breakfast and assisted her man in taking care of the hides and venison.

"Talking about killing three deer at one shot," remarked Gideon Baughman, who lived on Crooked Creek 7 miles below Harrison, Ark., "reminds me of a happening of that kind when there were but few settlers in this section. I remember the occurrence well and it occurred two miles above me on the creek. My brother, Henry Baughman, went out one morning soon after daylight to kill a deer, when he saw a doe standing with its broadside to him. Leveling his rifle at her he shot her down. on going up to where she lay he discovered another deer about 10 feet below the doe in a dying condition, but his astonishment was greater when he saw another deer lying kicking some 20 feet further down the hillside. The doe was shot dead and the other two soon died. An examination of the bullet wound showed that the doe was shot through the body. The next one was shot through the neck. The last one the ball had struck its head and barely buried itself in the deer’s skull bone. Of course the three were standing on a line with the bullet when he shot, but he only saw the doe when he shot. Henry had a lively time carrying the three deer home and it done him good to boast about killing the three deer at one shot as long as he lived," said Mr. Baughman.

Asa Dutton says that soon after the city of Harrison, Ark., started up he was there one day and met an old time hunter who lived in Newton County, Ark. "In exchanging hunting stories," said Mr. Dutton, the man related to me that on one occasion while he was hunting in the Buffalo Mountains with a shot gun he saw 7 deer standing in a compact body. After getting in close range of them he turned the contents of both barrels of his gun at the heads and 4 of the deer fell which surprised and delighted him too, but in a few seconds the deer all rose on their feet and ran off together. His pleasure cooled now and he thought they were all gone, but before they had passed from view he saw one of the deer fall, then another fell just in front of it. He now went to where they lay and followed the trail of the other two and found another that had barely passed from his view and fell. Some distance further on he discovered the fourth one lying dead."

W. A.(Bill) Pumphrey, formerly a merchant of Lead Hill but now of Fall River, Kansas, in a letter written by him to the writer from Fall River says, "while I resided on Shoal Creek in Marion County, Ark., in 1867 some thief or thieves were in the habit of visiting my corn crib of nights and stealing my corn. I was living on the Frank Pumphrey place one mile above the mouth of the creek. I labored hard to raise a crop of corn and I resolved to put a stop to who was taking my corn, so one evening I put a big charge of powder into my old army musket that I had carried in the southern army. On top of the powder I rammed down 18 buck shot and thought if he visited the crib that night I would catch the gentleman. My wife being a very tender hearted woman begged me not to shoot the man if he should come to the crib that night, but either give him a terrible fright or take him prisoner and turn him over to the proper authorities. She requested me to allow her to stay in the crib with me to try to prevent me killing the man if he should come. Of course I consented and at dark we both went into the crib and watched for several hours without seeing or hearing anything. Finally my wife grew drowsy and went to sleep but I kept up a vigilant watch. Just west of the crib had been a smoke house which was built several years before the Civil War commenced. After its removal deer would approach the spot and lick at the salty dirt. There was a small hole they had dug out with their feet. Sometime after my wife whose name is Elizabeth had fell asleep I heard a noise which I took to be my man coming to steal more corn and I prepared for his reception, but instead of a man I saw 5 deer approaching the lick. The moon was just giving light enough to see the forms of the deer distinctly. I slipped the muzzle of my gun through an opening between the logs and awaited an opportunity to kill one. When they came up to the lick three of them lowered their heads and began licking in the hole that had been pawed out. Now was my chance and I aimed at their heads and pulled the trigger. The report of the musket was like the crashing thunderbolt. The three deer fell and the report of the gun scared my wife almost to death for she thought I had killed the man sure. I told her to be quiet for it was not the thief but I had shot a few deer. We both went to work and removed the hides and dressed the meat and stored it away in the new smoke house. Our supply of fresh venison lasted us for some time. I guess the corn thief heard of my partly cleaning up the small herd of deer at the crib and never came back anymore or at least I did not miss anymore corn."

"The best shot I ever made at deer with an old flint lock muzzle loader," said Uncle Peter Baughman, "was one day while me and my father were hunting on Crooked Creek in Boone County, Ark. We had just separated when I noticed a doe and yearling deer standing double with broadsides to me. The animals were in a few feet of each other. When I aimed at them and pulled the trigger there was a flash and a report and the two deer fell. While I was approaching them I heard my father halloo "Here is your deer." I hallooed back "No, here they are," and it turned out that the ball from my rifle had passed through the doe and yearling deer and went on and struck another yearling deer and it ran 100 yards before it fell. Father seeing this one fall thought it was the one I had shot at. But I had not seen it, but the luckiest and unluckiest shot I ever made was with a shot gun while me and Jim Seals were fire hunting in the Horseshoe Bend of White River one night in the summer of 1849. My gun was heavily charged with powder and shot. I told Seals that the first bunch of deer we found in the river that night I intended to discharge both barrels of the shot gun at them and exterminate the group. We had a fine torch on the bow end of the craft. Seals did the steering while I held the gun in my hands ready for a shot. While we were drifting slowly along near where Cornette’s Ferry is now I saw a large number of eyes shining In the edge of the water. I knew it was a bunch of deer in a compact body. I told Seals to guide the canoe careful toward the deer which he did. When we were in close range of them I raised the shot gun to my shoulder and aimed to discharge both barrels at the group, but I only had time to discharge one when I found myself and Seals floundering in the water. The old gun had kicked me into the river and in going overboard I had capsized the canoe. The light was put out and the gun went to the bottom of the river. The sudden turn of affairs rendered me and Seals into a bad humor and I guess we said something that we ought not have said, but we contrived to swim to shore and pulled the canoe along with us. When we reached where the deer were feeding on the moss we found three of them in shallow water but so badly wounded that they could not get out and we dragged them out on shore and knocked them in the head and taken the hides off and dressed the meat though it was rather dark to work at a job of this kind, but we completed it all right. We remained here till morning and were surprised when daylight appeared to see two bloody trails of deer which led up the river bank into the bottom which we followed and discovered a dead deer about 150 yards from the river. The other deer had run about 300 yards before it fell. This was a total of 5 at one shot. Three of which were bucks. From the way the gun kicked I came near killing the 6th which was myself," said the old veteran hunter.

The Horshoe Bend or Curve of White River is in Taney County, Mo., and between Forsyth and Elbow Shoals.

July 14, 1902

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