A BEAR AND DEER HUNT IN ARKANSAS
By W. B. CARAWAY
A SLIGHT rustling movement in the canebrake. The bear has been located. Watching patiently with nerves tingling and gun cocked, the hunter awaits the opportune moment to fire. Slowly, steadily and cautiously, the movement of the waving cane draws nearer and when within a distance of eighteen feet of the man, the bear rises on his haunches and sniffs the air in an effort to locate his unseen foe. This is the moment the hunter has been waiting for. Quick as a flash the rifle belches and the animal lies dead at the hunter's feet."
Such was the manner in which F. O. McCullough of Van Buren killed one of the three black bears that were brought down by a hunting party that has been down in Phillips County, about fifty miles from Elaine, Ark. For the past five weeks on a big game expedition besides the three bears killed, the results of the hunt showed four deer, four wild turkeys, one wild goose and a large number of squirrels, ducks, fish, etc.
The hunt was in Phillips County in Eastern Arkansas and the party consisted of Grover Neal, O. W. Williams, Sam Bryant, Charles Jones and F. 'O. McCullough of the Van Buren, Ark., Club. They left on November 3rd, for their annual hunt. After arriving at Elaine, they were joined by Lawrence Wade, Henry Bough, D. W. King, Judge Dennis, Lee R. Foster, Bob Manning, John Yancey, Fitzie Bernard and Raymond King and proceeded to the location where the hunt was to be staged. Making camp in the tangled, thick canebrakes of the Mississippi River bottoms. The party began the big game hunt. Two of the bears were killed on November 24th, the other on the 25th.
"We had two of the animals killed and the hides stretched by 8 o'clock in the morning," Mr. McCullough said. "To see those thirteen men, all heavily armed, with the hunting dogs, going slowly through the cane was a beautiful sight and when the first bear was killed everybody went wild with excitement. People from over the surrounding country came to see our kill, and the time that we were on the hunt we kept the community in meat," Mr. McCullough declared.
Hunting deer is also great sport the hunters said and to kill one of these quick, fleet-footed animals, a man must know how to handle a gun rapidly, for it is seldom that he ever gets over one shot at the animal before it gets away, according to the Van Buren hunters. To shoot deer one must be very cautious and patient. When the hunter first observes the animal grazing he must be quick with his wits and be ready at any moment to shoot. With the wind blowing in the direction from the animal, it is not difficult to get within firing distance. The hunter creeps cautiously toward the prey. The deer has a peculiar trait that gives the hunter warning that it is going to raise its head from grazing. When the deer thinks there is danger it will wag its tail and then quick as a flash the antlers will rise and the animal will look cautiously all around. When this action takes place the hunter must remain immovable in whatever position he was when the animal raised its head. The deer, hunters say, will never observe the man if he remains perfectly still. Seeing no danger the deer will again begin grazing.
This is the opportunity for the hunter to creep up closer and fire.
The bears killed were all big. The first weighed 550 pounds and measured 8 feet long. The other two were smaller than this one weighing 350 and 250 pounds. Mr. McCullough has the hides and skulls of the animals on display at his store in Van Buren and many spectators have been in his place looking at the trophies. The other two bears were killed by Grover T. Neal and T. W. King. A rather humorous incident occurred during the bear hunt. Speaking to one of the party who was just a "little shaky" at the prospect of coming into contact with a bear, other members of the party told their nervous companions that the bears always ran straight through the cane-brakes, to which the shaky one replied: "If that's the case, I think I'll just mosey out into the open where nothing will hinder my speed if Mr. Bear wants to show fight."
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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