By DR. J. A. DENTON
I AM writing this article in order to open a new field of thought and experience. After fifty years have gone by, I think back and live them over again.
I was born to love the wild woods. My greatest joy was when I was roaming amid the shadows of the great spreading oaks, tall hickories, and tangled vines in pursuit of the wild denizens of the forest. And now comes the strangest experience of it all to me as well as to my readers. I have always had success when I hunted my game before I started to the fields or woods. This manner of hunting I will call intuition, for lack of knowing a better word, and by this strange something the greatest success has been enjoyed.
I found out this secret, for a secret it is when I was a mere lad of eight years. It was like this, my father moved some six miles from where I was born to a new home. Of course the entire world was new to me, and things were all strange. A few days after settling down in our new home, a desire came over me to go rabbit hunting. I was not allowed a gun, but I had confidence in my cunning ability to slip up and catch a rabbit with my hands. With this confidence as the only weapon, I sat down on the doorstep and began to dream of hunting and catching the rabbits. Soon, I, in my daydream saw a rabbit sitting by the side of a log in the woods, and it was close up against an old stump that stood by the log. I arose from the doorstep, and went into a patch of woods close to our home. I was not allowed to go far, for there were bears in the mountains then. I soon saw an old log, and by that log I saw an old stump. The scene was familiar to my mind as the place I saw before leaving the doorstep. I became cautious, and slipped up close to the stump, and there true to my vision sat a rabbit. It had one eye shut, but the other eye was open. And, by the way I found out that rabbits sleep this way through the day, with one eye shut at a time. I kept walking as if I was going to pass him by. When I got close enough, I made a falling grab for my rabbit, but I missed getting a good hold on it, and away it went.
A few years later I learned to make bows and arrows. I found that catching rabbits was slow work. I learned to use the bow and arrow with the skill of an Indian. So I concluded that if I could not catch a rabbit I could shoot an arrow through one. So I sat down, and began to look for a chance to test my marksmanship. It was some two miles to a piece of woodland that I had often been through. My mind led me to this woodland. And in the edge of the woods I saw a dogwood bush, and by that bush I saw a rabbit. The impression was so real that I got my bow and arrow, and away I went, never stopping until I came close to the edge of this woods. I then slowed down, and began to look for the dogwood bush. I soon spied a dogwood bush, and something said to me, there is where you will find the rabbit. I confidently slipped up close to this bush, and there true to my intuitive knowledge sat a rabbit. With the bow and arrow as my weapon of death, well used with skill the rabbit soon was in my hands and a happier boy never before roamed the woods.
Well it was a few years later when I was sixteen years of age I was allowed to carry a gun. And allow me to stop long enough here to enjoy the greatest bliss of all my life. You, too, dear reader, well remember those days in your own experience, and a brighter, and greener oasis does not loom up before you than the first day you carried a real gun, and went hunting. My older brother purchased a handsome little buckshot rifle for me. My delight was beyond words to describe, and my love for my brother for his generosity has never grown cold. I had a younger brother than myself. He had been sick for a week or two. One day my mother asked me to take my gun and go and catch a squirrel for my sick brother. It was a cold bleak windy day, and I knew that a squirrel would be hard to rind. I sat down, put my head between my hands, shut my natural eyes, and began to look intuitively for the squirrel. About a mile away along a creek there stood a big poplar tree. About halt way up this tree and at right angle from the main body run a limb, and the limb too had an elbow crook in it. In my hunt I saw this tree, and in the elbow of that limb I saw a squirrel with his tail beautifully curled over his back. I got my rifle, and went directly to this particular spot. I got within two or three hundred yards of this poplar tree, and getting another tree between it and me I began a noiseless stalking. I got up within a hundred feet of the big poplar. I cocked my little rifle, set the hair-triggers, and put the muzzle up against the side of the tree I was behind. I slowly peeped around with gun ready, and there true to my expectations sat a grey squirrel. In less than ten seconds that squirrel was in my hands, and I was on my way back home, which was over a mile distant. I saw that squirrel as sure as I saw anything before I left home. I only had to go and be cautious and get it.
I know that sounds squirrelly to my readers, but I am not out of my head, or been to an asylum. I may have to go to the asylum, but it will be long after I had this experience.
Well, again a beautiful light snow had fallen during the night. In the morning the sun shone bright and pleasant. 1 wanted a wild turkey. I sat down and lost myself to my surroundings, and began to look for a flock of wild turkeys. I roamed around over a lot of territory, but at last I saw the tracks of wild turkeys about two miles from home. These tracks were high up on the side of a river knob. In my intuitive hunt I followed those tracks across the knob into a little cove in which were a few chestnut trees. I saw a dogwood bush with berries on it, and under that dogwood I found my turkeys. I shouldered my rifle, and never stopped going until I hit the trail of the turkeys on the side of the knob. I slipped like a fox along the trail. I felt sure I was close to my game. I got up within several yards of the dogwood. A big pine tree had been blown up by the roots, so I got this blind between me and the turkeys. I reached the pine stump, cocked my gun. Set the hair triggers, and put the barrel of the gun upon top of the pine stump. Then slowly raising up I was ready for my turkey. When I looked I saw nine fine turkeys scratching under the dogwood for berries. Yes, I had wild turkey for dinner the next day. I had not been gone from home over three hours.
Well that is getting along finely, you say, and so it is, but can any one tell me what it is that leads one on such a successful mission? That is what interests me more than the capturing of game.
"Tell another?" Well I will. It was many years after all this that 1 wanted to hunt pheasants, grouse. So one day I felt groussy, and sat down, and in my old accustomed way I began to look for my game. After some hunt I came to the head of a deep hollow where there were rhododendrons, birch trees, and grapevines. I saw an old log, and by that log I saw a pheasant. I acted promptly, shouldered my gun, and began my search for the spot. It was in the Buffalo Mountain of Tennessee that I then hunted. I found a deep hollow and followed it some distance when I looked ahead and recognized a log among the rhododendrons and grapevines as being the one place I saw before leaving home. I got ready and began a close watch on the old log. I got up within twenty feet of the log, and out flew Mr. Grouse. He was in my coat pocket in a few seconds. There were three others near by. I .got two of them and came back home with the three birds in a hurry. I was only gone long enough to walk there and back. I did not hunt or spend a half, hour after the birds. No, I never wanted a dog to bother me. I could always find more quail alone than with a dozen dogs. "Well tell another, as you are in for it?" I will tell you another turkey talk. Along in the summer time I happened to be strolling it: the Buffalo Mountains some four miles from home. .1 noticed a hackberry bush full of red berries. I noticed the bush and also the berries. Well in the wintertime a fine snow had fallen. The next day after the falling snow I was seized with a desire to go after a wild turkey. I sat down and began my intuitive hunt. I searched everywhere, but found no turkey. I began anew in my secret hunt. I came close up to this hackberry bush which I had seen in the summer time, and there I saw a big turkey gobbler eating berries from this bush. I was so sure, that I went from my office home, got my gun, told my wife we would have wild turkey next day for dinner, and away I heeled it towards the hackberry bush. I never stopped my fast walk until I got near the spot where the bush stood. It was on the brow of a ridge, and big boulders lay all around. I got one of these rocks between me and the bush, slipped up to it, to the big rock. .1 felt as sure that the turkey was there as if I had seen it with my natural eye. I got gun ready and peeped around the rock. There stood one of the finest specimens of wild turkey I ever had seen. I was soon on my way back home with the turkey I had promised my wife for dinner the next day. -Yes, it was right there eating hackberries just as I had seen it before I started to the Mountain. Now tell me what it was that told me, or showed me that turkey.
Well I will tell you a bigger one about bigger game and quit. I went to California about ten years ago. While there some sports found out that I was sporty, too. So they rolled in on me to go with them deer hunting. Of course I was in for such a job, and consented to go. We drove a double team about fifty miles into the mountains towards Mount Whitney. We reached our corral within two days after starting. It was night when we reached the ranch we were to camp on. As I looked over those great mountains I was struck with an inspiration that I had never felt before. I felt that I must make good as a hunter. They called me tenderfoot. They began to give me instructions as to how to hunt deer, bear and wolves. Of course I listened with intense interest, but at the same time I was doing my own hunting and thinking. In going into the ranch I had noticed a very high point on further from where we had camped, and on that point I noticed pine trees. So we all lay down after a hot supper to take a good sleep before the dawn of the day when we were to find our deer. There were six of us, and they laid all plans, and gave each his direction before we went to sleep.
They assigned me a direction between two experienced hunters for fear I would get lost or eaten up by a bear. I listened and agreed to all their plans. But, brother, I lay down and began to hunt deer as I had hunted rabbits, squirrels, and wild turkeys. Before I lost myself in sleep I had found my deer away up among them tall pine trees on yonder high hill which I thought was only two or three miles away, but which I found later to be near eight miles. Before daylight all hands were up and each hunter took his respective course. No sooner was I out of sight, than I faced about and heeled it towards the pine trees. I struck a trail and followed it all the way. It was about 9 o'clock in the morning when I began to feel that a deer was close to me. I left the trail intuitively to the left. I went through some very rough chaparral and blubrush. Presently I came out in an opening, and just before me lay a log. I was sure a deer was close. I slipped up close to this log and stopped. I put my 3030 Winchester against my shoulder and began to raise it slowly. I looked ahead of me and over the log, and there about 60 yards stood looking at me one of the most beautiful sights I ever beheld in the woods. There in the shadows of those tall pines stood a deer. You know there is a white spot just where the neck and shoulders meet. Well my gun was ready. I drew a bead on that white spot and let drive. The deer stood on hind legs, spun around a few times, and then gave a bound into the brush. I listened at its departing leaps, but knew that my aim had been good. Then there came a crash. All was still. I moved up slowly and there about 60 yards from where he stood he lay dead.
Useless to say I felt glad, but I can truthfully say I felt sad to see such a beautiful living picture of the forest lying in its blood, never again to leap the boulders. Well I took the hindquarters into camp, and hung the rest up in a live oak. I got back to camp at about 2 o'clock P. M. All the boys were in, but no one had even seen a deer. The one I captured was the only one trophy of us all, and never more did they call me tenderfoot. I saw that deer the night before as plainly as I saw it the day I killed it. Now what is it that causes a man to see his game before he starts to get it? Has any one had like experiences? I would love to know I have given you truthfully my experience along this line, and have no object whatever to tell a fish story.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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