The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

I will relate a few stories of hunters viewing deer killing serpents.

Jerry Hunt, a resident on Big Creek in Taney County, Mo., informed me that one day while he was hunting in the John Morris hollow that flows into Big Creek from the east side he saw a spike buck running back and forth with its feet closed together and jumping stiff legged. At a certain spot the deer would leap high and after alighting would leap as far as it could then stop and wheel around and repeat. I stood still and watched the deer’s movements a few minutes and I pronounced it a crazy buck, and I shot it down. On going to where it lay I discovered a black snake lying in the grass badly disabled. The mystery of the deer’s foolish actions were now explained for it was killing the snake. I finished what life was left in the snake with a stick.

Old Uncle Jim Barnette said that on one occasion while he was hunting on the west side of Little North Fork he saw 4 deer kill a rattlesnake on a ridge 1 ½ miles above the mouth of Pond Fork. The deer just before leaping on the snake would close their legs together and after alighting they would instantly spring away. Only one deer at a time would hit the snake. The reptile was cut nearly to pieces with the deer’s feet.

"Just up on the point of the hill between the main hollow of Cedar Creek and the hollow that the main road passes up from Dugginsville to Pontiac in Ozark County, Mo., and in eight of the former named hamlet," says Henry Grace, "I seen a deer kill a rattlesnake. I did not understand what the deer was doing until I heard the serpent singing. The deer would stomp its forefeet against the ground, then leap on the snake and jump away as far as it could, then turn and repeat. Finally the deer quit and walked off a few yards and stopped and I shot it down, and when I walked up to where it did the work with the snake which was entirely dead. The deer had cut the middle part of the serpent’s body into mincemeat with its hoofs."

"In the year 1856," said William C. Patton (who afterwards went blind and is dead now), "I was hunting horses in the hills of Hampton Creek, a tributary of Crooked Creek in Marion County, Ark., I was horseback and as I rode along I saw three deer acting queer. They would run one at a time stiff legged with hair turned up and leap on something in the grass and then spring off. Then they would return and repeat. I was much interested to know what the deer were up to and stopped and sat on my horse until the three deer had become quiet and started off. I then rode to the spot and was astonished to find a big rattlesnake beat to pieces almost by the deers’ hoofs. Though there was a little life about the snake but it was too nigh gone to ever bother any more deer," said this old timer.

Just over the line in Ozark County, Mo., between Big Creek and the Panther Bottom was once a small pinery where in the latter fifties Martin Johnson and others camped and sawed a lot of pine lumber with a whip saw. About 25 years after the close of the Civil War some parties erected a saw mill at a spring in Pine Hollow and used up all the available pine timber here. There seems to be a fine prospect of mineral on the land where the stately pine trees once stood as well as the adjacent vicinity. From indications there are great quantities of iron ore here and some lead ore has been dug out here. I well remember the first time I was in this pinery. It was on a Sunday in 1854. I and Martin Johnson spent the entire day here. Johnson was prospecting for mineral. The man said there was plenty of mineral here but it would take lots of money to go down after it. Pew C. Anderson said that one day in 1852 while he was hunting in this same pinery, he noticed a deer acting in a singular way. The animal would run and jump high with its hair standing straight out. When it alighted it would stamp its forefeet hard against the ground, jump forward a few yards, stop and look back., then it would wheel around and repeat which was done several times. At last the deer left and Mr. Anderson said to satisfy his curiosity he went to the spot to investigate as to the cause of the deer’s strange actions "and there lay the largest rattlesnake dead I ever saw," said he.

July 16, 1902

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