The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

By S. C. Turnbo

A continuation of stories and the manner of bucks or their skeletons being found during the pioneer days of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas is given here.

"On the 30th of November, 1840, when I was just 6 years old." said Mrs. Ann C. Tibbs, of near Choska, Indian Territory, "my parents, Zachariah and Sarah (Battoe) Cudd, settled on Lindleys Creek in Round Prairie, Dallas County, Mo., 10 miles from Buffalo. We moved in an ox wagon with a long crooked box commonly known as Tennessee beds. The wagon was drawn by two yoke of oxen. At that time the town of Buffalo was composed of only one store house and a few dwellings. The name of the only merchant who sold goods there then was Billy Morrow who was greatly respected by all the settlers and lived to be a very old man. The town was started on what was then known as Buffalo Head Prairie. My grandmother, Mrs. Mary Battoe, come with us from Trigg County, Kentucky, and died at our home in Round Prairie at the age of 80 years. The country had a wild appearance and was overrun with wild beasts which were common to the state of Missouri. I remember about a vicious wolf coming along one day in a few feet of the yard gate and seeing the dog on the outside of the yard darted at him and hurried him over the fence into the front yard. The wolf followed the dog over the fence but it instantly darted back through the gate which was open and ran very fast until he got some distance out on the prairie when he went on at his leisure. Deer was so numerous that I have seen them approach in 150 yards of the house and feed on the herbage which grew so abundantly along the creek. Speaking of deer reminds me of what I intended to tell you at the start but my recollections of our early location in Round Prairie made me almost forget the deer story which I will now tell you.

One day while my father was hunting on the prairie near the house he come up on the bones of two bucks that had fought and died many months before. Their horns were locked together. After he made an effort to separate the heads by pulling them apart and not succeeding he left them where he found them and they lay there some time before they were carried away by other parties."

The following was told me by "Nate" O’Neal. "While I was living in Camden County, Mo., I was out hunting one day and while crossing a flat hollow I discovered two buck’s heads lying in the grass locked together by the horns. Only the neck bones and the shoulder blade bone of one of the deer was seen besides the heads and horns. One of the heads had 6 prongs on each beam and the other one 9 or a total of 30 points on the 4 beams. As I was not stout enough to pull the heads apart I broke some of the prongs off and got the heads apart. These resolute and headstrong animals had met in battle several months previous to the time I found them. No doubt it was a hard fight and resulted in certain death to the bucks which was slow and miserable."

James Absalom Gooden, son of Harvey Gooden, was born In Baxter County, Ark., in 1858 and who lived many years on Lower Pidgeon Creek, a small rough stream that flows into Big North Fork, but now lives 7 ½ miles northeast of Mountain Home, tells of being out hunting one day on the head of Pidgeon Creek some 12 miles north of Mountain Home and found a pair of bucks heads in a steep hollow. The heads were locked together by the horns. The prongs of the beams were badly worn. "I picked up the heads," said Mr. Gooden, "and carried them home where I lived on Pidgeon Creek where Jimmie Graves, my stepfather, broke the horns apart with a stone. One of the heads had 5 points on each beam and the other, 6, which made a total of 22 prongs. This was in 1881 and the heads appeared to have lay many years where I found them. Several years before this," continued Mr. Gooden, "Billy Graves, eon of Jimmie Graves, found a set of buck’s heads looked together. Each had a big head of horns and were fresh. The neck bones were also found. Mr. Graves carried the heads home and hung them on his gate post."

"Many years ago while I lived on White River in Barry County, Mo.," says John C. Carter, "I was hunting one day on a black oak ridge when I walked up to the bones of two bucks with heads locked together. The indication as found on the ground near where the bones lay showed that the animals had fought their fight to a finish only a few days previous to my finding them. The trampled weeds and grass and the surface of the ground that was torn up by the deer’s hoofs was sufficient evidence that the bucks had met here and exhausted their fury and ferocity against each other and both had died in a few yards of the main battleground. It is probably that they both had broke their neck in their desperation to overcome each other. I did not disturb the bones," said Mr. Carter, "But as I stood and looked at the skeletons I was reminded of some men who can never rest until they loose their lives in a fight and take their long rest under the sod." Mr. Carter went on to say that on another occasion while he was hunting in ½ a mile of this same locality he heard an unusual noise just over the rise of ground from him. "On venturing up to where I could see what made the racket I seen two bucks that had just got their horns locked. The capers they cut were surprising. Both animals were in prime order. My anxiety in saving their hides and meat overcome my desire in watching their actions in their efforts to free themselves from each other and I shot one of the bucks down. The other deer thinking he had hooked him down made a great adoo over his dead enemy and did his utmost to pull loose from him to punch him with his horns. As soon as I could reload my rifle I quieted him down with a bullet. I saved their hides and horns but did not carry the heads and horns home."

One day in the fall of 1903 I met A. W. (Wood) Sams in the Indian Territory and who is an extensive dealer in furs. Mr. Sams is a Kentuckian by birth and was born in Clay County in that state in 1851. While he was a young man he went to Arkansas and lived in the Boston Mountains several years and learned to hunt in that section. Mr. Sams among other things give me an account of finding two bucks locked together one day in Newton County. The locality where I discovered them, said he, "was in a low gap on a ridge between Buffalo River and the head breaks of Big Piney Creek. I and Alf Lee had gone out together afoot to watch a "crossing" where deer were known to pass frequently. On reaching the designated place our eyes blazed at the sight of two bucks locked fast together by their horns. Each deer carried 10 points on its head or a total of 20 prongs on both of them. One of the bucks had crumpled horns. They had fought so long and hard that their strength had played out and they both had give up the fight and was standing still. They appeared to have some knowledge of their fate and were apparently waiting for it to overtake them and end their days of thirst and exhaustion. They did not have to wait long to pass in their checks after we had discovered them for we soon shot them both and saved their hides and meat. Each deer netted about 125 pounds."

Another account by Joseph Davis in regard to finding deer locked by the horns follows.

"Well, yes," said he when the writer interrogated him on that subject, "I sure did see two bucks once with their horns interlocked. This was a few years before the beginning of the Civil War and it was while I was living in Christian County, Mo. Jim Handcock, a neighbor of mine, and myself had went across Swan Creek to the west side where we separated. Near ½ a mile from the creek Jim noticed two deer a short distance from him that were standing with their heads down and together. They both were in very poor order. On getting up closer to them he found that they were bucks with their horns locked. The animals were entirely helpless and Jim hallooed for me and I went to him and seen the bucks with my own eyes. Both deer carried big frames but as they had fought several days before they were found they were weak and almost famished for food and water. One had 4 prongs on each beam and the other carried 5 or a total of 18 in all. The bucks were so nigh dead that they made no attempt to get out of our way. We shot them both and cut off their heads and used our combined strength to pull the head apart but made a complete failure. We now took the heads to Handcock’s house and laid them on the roof of an out building where we left them until the flesh decayed and the bones were bare, when we took them and broke the skulls to pieces and unlocked the horns. And when I and Handcock moved from Christian County each one of us took a horn from each buckle head with us to show to other people how the prongs were nearly worn out after the two deer got them locked fast together. Handcock taken his to Barry County, Mo. I carried mine into Newton County, Ark."

The following was told me by Mrs. Sarah (Tripp) Davis, daughter of Thomas Tripp who was an early settler in Christian County, Mo.

In telling the story Mrs. Davis said that one day In 1856 her father and Martin Willard while hunting together on Barbers Creek, a tributary of Swan Creek, they come up on two bucks locked together by their horns. One was dead and its flesh had almost wasted away. The other was very weak yet he had strength enough to drag the remains of his dead enemy inch by inch over the stony ground. From his appearance his life would not have lasted more than a day or two longer. Father shot the buck and the men took off its hide. Then both men made an effort to separate the heads by pulling them in opposite directions but their work was a failure. They did not take the heads home but left the carcass in the woods except the hide of the one they killed."

Here is an account given me by John Carr, a former resident of Carroll County, Ark., but now of Choska, Indian Territory.

"Many years ago," said he, "when the beautiful deer went in herds and otherwise, my father was hunting one day on King’s River in Carroll County and some 10 miles above where this stream has its junction with White River he found two fine looking bucks with the prongs of their horns locked together. They had just ended the battle between themselves and had left the scene of the fight 50 or 60 yards. When he first discovered them they were standing perfectly still but when he advanced up near them they jumped around in a lively way and tried to run. The ground they had fought over embraced only a small space but the surface was badly torn up by their feet during the fight. Father said that after he viewed them awhile in their unfortunate condition he shot one of them and reloading his gun he shot the other, and after removing their hides he cut off their heads and carried them home where he lived on Kings River."

Next Story

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

Springfield-Greene County Library