The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

It is a well known fact among hunters that a wounded buck deer will fight. It is conceded that the more he suffers from the effects of a wound the more desperate is his fury. Many scrimmages have taken place between these animals and hunters. The combats were dangerous to the hunters’ lives. Especially when the effects of the wound was not sufficient to weaken the deer in such a way that he was not able to fight. Sometimes encounters between hunters and bucks were amusing as well as they were serious. Though while the fun was not to be enjoyed at the time of its occurrence, yet the incident was something to laugh at afterward. On some occasions the hunter would get into this sort of trouble on account of his own carelessness. At other times it could not be avoided. In interviews with hunters I have gathered a number of accounts of encounters between hunters and wounded bucks. This one is selected for this chapter because of its funny character.

Among the early settlers of Marion County, Ark., was Abe Perkins who was popular with every one he knew. He had plenty of wit and pleasant humor and always delighted to tell a joke or play off one on his friends. Mr. Perkins married twice, his first wife was Miss Nancy Hogan, daughter of Mr. Young Hogan. She died and lies buried in the Calvin Hogan graveyard on White River near Oakland. Sometime after the death of Nancy, Mr. Perkins married Mrs. Polly Ann Scott, widow of Capt. John Scott, a confederate soldier who was killed near Boonville, Mo., while on Prices raid in 1864. He and John Keel and another confederate soldier were killed near together and were buried together in the fork of a small drain on the scene of the fight. Abe Perkins died on the Isaiah Wilkerson place on Music Creek and is buried in the same graveyard where the body of Nancy, his first wife, received interment. Mr. Perkins was a hunter as well as a joker and while he hunted and worked on the farm and joked his friends and as far as wit and humor was concerned Perkins always kept the best end of it for it was seldom that any of his neighbors could pay Abe back as much as he had given them. But a wounded buck become awful furious that Perkins give him one day played a prank on him that he considered much ahead of anything that his friends ever tried to match him with or that he ever got off on them.

Perkins enjoyed hunting but was not always successful in this line of business. When he owned the farm on the north side of White River opposite the mouth of Music Creek known now as the Jim Jones land where the Jones Ferry is now Abe got into serious trouble with a buck that he never forgot until his eyes were closed in death. Perkins was an enthusiastic southern man and believed in southern rights as strong as he contended for them in war times, but at the close of the war he laid his army gun aside and submitted his case and like thousands of others in the desolated Southland went to work to build back what he had lost. One day soon after the war had ended and while he was living on the farm referred to he found that he and wife was short of meat and as wild animals and wild turkey were all the dependence for meat at that time, Perkins concluded to replenish his table with a new supply and he went out to kill a deer. He had not went more than a quarter of a mile from the house when he saw a fine buck with large antlers horning at a bush. The deer did not seem very wild and allowed the hunter to approach in good gun shot range and he aimed his rifle at the saucy deer and fired with the expectation of seeing the animal drop down on its tracks, but the shot only gave it a wound. The apparently good humored but rather saucy animal flew into a terrible rage now and ran at the hunter with its hair all turned up. Perkins had no time to reload his gun and learning an important lesson in war times not to foolishly expose himself in a reckless manner in battle he as the savage deer charged up dropped his gun and scrambled up a tree in the biggest kind of a hurry. He had just got out of reach of its horns when the deer got under the tree. Though Abe was safe from those terrible looking horns, yet he was restless and excited. He had never been treed before by a wild beast and he felt it to be a serious matter to have to submit to such treatment. After staying in the tree and reflecting on his case he reached the decision that he needed help and began to halloo for someone to come and scare the buck away. Then he remembered his dog, which he had left at the house, and yelled very loud for him. The faithful dog heard his call of distress. His wife heard him, too. She supposed a panther had leaped on him; she was greatly alarmed and up she got from the chair she was seated on and left the house on a run just as the dog did. Of course the dog outrun her and reached the tree in a short time, and being a fearless animal he sprang at the buck for a fight, but the deer pitched at the faithful dog and caught it against a tree with its horns and killed it in less time than it takes to tell it. The furious buck then raised its head and looked up at the hunter and snorted in a vicious way and seemingly said to him, "Come down, Mr. Abe Perkins, if you want to die quick. I am able to do the work for you, but you ought to be prepared to go first. If you are prepared to die and want to die, say so and come down. I am ready to execute you." But Abe was not ready to go the way the dog did and declines the challenge. The man was horrified at the death of his dog for he was brave and true. The deer was evidently growing more angry. He pawed the ground, stamped with his feet and hooked at the tree that Abe was up. The hunter watched the buck’s maneuvers with much anxiety and said, "Mr. buck, you have the advantage of me now—if I had my gun up here, I would fix you in short order. I will settle with you some time in future if you do not fix me before I do you. I do not intend to give you a chance to hurt me as long as you stay here and I can hold to the limbs of this tree. Remember this, Mr. buck, I am prepared to remain in this tree as long as you stay under it." At this moment Abe caught sight of his wife coming in a fast run; she was in less than 150 yards of the tree. The hunter was more excited than ever now, and greatly alarmed for her safety. He screamed at her to run back to the house. Seeing her man up a tree with a buck standing under it, she woman-like hallooed and asked Abe if the deer had hurt him. His only reply was "Nancy, get away from there, or this blame deer will kill you." The woman realized her danger and needing no second warning and knowing that her man was safe in the tree, turned and ran back toward the house as fast as she could go. Her husband knew that her run from the house certainly wearied her and he was surprised as well as glad to see her run so swift. Just after the woman had started back the buck turned his head and saw her retreating form and quickly left the tree and bounded off in pursuit of her. Seeing the predicament his wife was in increased the man’s fears and excitement to such an extent that he lost his presence of mind and began yelling at the top of his voice, "Run, Nancy Jane, run, oh, run faster, or the buck will kill you— oh Nancy, do run your best or you will surely die like the poor dog did." It was a run for life, and the woman did her best. She saw a tree a few yards ahead, that had fallen against another tree that she could climb easily, if she could reach it in time. She did reach it in advance of the infuriated deer and went up it as nimble as a squirrel almost. She was none too soon for she was barely out of danger when the buck charged up and with a frenzied anger lunged at the tree and struck it a hard blow with its horns. The woman after reaching safety nearly swooned with excitement and exhaustion while running and ascending the tree. Husband and wife were both treed now, and the dog was dead. What could they do? When Perkins saw that his wife was safe he shouted with joy, and yelled, "God bless you, my dear Nancy Jane, it makes me feel happy that you beat that hateful deer to the tree." It was now that the man’s senses returned, and while the deer was horning at the tree his wife was in so ferociously he slid down to the ground and recovered his gun and concealing himself behind a tree to hide himself from the buck he reloaded the rifle and making a short circuit so the buck would not see him, crept up in clear range and shot the buck dead. After the animal fell and Abe saw that it was too dead to kick he was struck with another outburst of rejoicing and exclaimed, "Come down now, good true and noble wife, for I have saved us both from the horns of this mighty beast."

A few days after this exciting incident occurred, Perkins said to some of his friends that he thought the worst thing he was ever guilty of was while his wife was running to escape the antlered monarch and he himself sitting up in the tree and making no attempt to get down to try to save her life until she saved herself by her own exertions. "I am heartily ashamed of the way I did in not offering to descend the tree and make an effort to protect her from the ferocity of that enraged deer but I think I have a reasonable excuse in this case for I was so fearfully excited and frightened at seeing the buck chase her that for a few moments I completely lost my mind."

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