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Arkansas Chapter of the CoHT . . .

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A Hunt for Squirrels among the forests of the Ozarks in the county of Madison in the territory of Arkansaw

by Bryant McIguire

Friday September the 16th the Year of our Lord 05,

White Turtle (Mark Grigg) and I made our way to the meeting place and camp in the early afternoon. We scouted around the clearing and woods near at hand for any sign of recent use. Also to pick a spot for bedding down later. The quiet and peaceful area helped us to leave everyday troubles behind us and settle down to the pace of the forest around us. After enjoying the woods and deciding on a spot for our night camp we set about to gather fire wood. In doing so I wandered up the hill from our camp and found both a downed log that had been shredded almost in half and a small pine still standing that had been stripped of it’s bark higher than I could reach. I found White Turtle and asked his opinion on my findings and if I was right in my thinking that a bear had been close by where we planned to camp. He agreed and we decided that while we would not move camp we would cook out in the clearing where a large stone fire ring had already been set up by people unknown to us. This to keep the smell of food and hopefully the bear if he made his rounds this night out of our camp. We heard the approach of another traveler and waited on guard until our friend and fellow hunter Marty Kayter showed himself. We greeted him warmly and questioned each others health and that of our families. We told Marty of our thoughts on the camp and the bear sign and he agreed that as long as we did not eat or cook in our chosen place we would be in no danger, we hoped. The sun was making it’s way to the hill top on the west side of our camp quickly so we set our beds and lighted a fire. After some talk and not a few friendly jabs at each other we settled down for a peaceful nights rest. Now I will admit that I did feel a touch of Autumns cool the first night and my wool blanket did feel good to wrap around me. But to hear White Turtle and Marty tell it Winter’s full cold had descended on us.

Saturday September the 17th the Year of our Lord 05,

Arising with the first light of morn we got a fire going in the clearing and heated water for coffee for White Turtle and Marty and chocolate for me. We chewed some trail bread and sipped our hot drinks then Marty produced some salt cured ham to help break our fasts. I do not know much about the process of curing ham with the use of salt but in my humble opinion a whole cask of salt must have been used on the portion of ham that Marty had brought. I chewed two palm sized pieces and managed to swallow them but needed most of a canteen of water to get them down. White Turtle on the other hand seemed to enjoy the taste so Marty and I graciously allowed him to have all he craved.

We rolled our beds when it seemed that it might rain but that amounted to nothing more than a few drops then clearing skies. White Turtle and I showed Marty the rock house near our camp incase we might have to retire there if rain threatened again. It is a long overhang that is deep enough for keeping many men and their equipment dry. While we were discussing the merits of such a camp we heard someone new approach the camp. White Turtle and I waited behind trees to provide cover fire if needed and not to give our strength away while Marty brave soul that he is went out to greet and the newcomer. It was Mike Rowe a friend of many years known to his friends as Kiwi, and his dog a Mountain Cur called Scout. So our company was complete. Kiwi joined us in the rock house and he had with him some new confection he called Dough Naughts. He had stopped at a bakery on his way to camp and provided enough for all to have several. We again shared news of the times since we had last seen each other. Kiwi stowed his bed roll and soon we were ready to follow Scout into the woods to hunt the elusive tree squirrel.

Scout did herself proud treeing one squirrel after another but we were not able to justify ourselves in her company because not one squirrel was brought to ground. We blamed this on the fact that the trees were still fully leaved out and the squirrels took advantage of this. We tried to thump on the side of several hollow trees where the squirrels had made a stand but to no avail. Scout was the most determined hunting dog I have ever had the privilege of seeing work a trail. She would get so frustrated when a squirrel was treed and we could not bring it to ground that she would chew at the bark. It took Kiwi to command her to leave that tree and hunt again before she would give up on a squirrel.

After hunting all of the morning and half of the afternoon away we made our way back to camp to rest and eat something to replenish our strength. It had become very warm and humid so I suggested that we could take our repast in a near by cavern mouth where the air coming off of some underground body of water would cool us and make eating more enjoyable. So Marty mounted his mule and we climbed into the box wagon hitched to it and off we went. Finally we arrived and climbed the trail to the mouth of the cavern. The temperature just inside the overhang was very conducive to our relaxing and eating the hard sausage and aged cheese that Kiwi provided. That was one of the best meals I have had in some time. I could not have asked for a better location better company or better victuals. After sating our hunger and cooling our bodies we decided that we would make use of Marty’s mule to travel several miles to a very scenic spot overlooking the Kings river that winds it’s way through most of that part of the county. Marty’s mule being very sure footed got us there easily enough but the box wagon was not made for easy travel by passengers, enough said. We all enjoyed the sights of the country on display to us from the heights of the overlook the river many feet below. Seeing that the sun was quickly getting near the rim of the hills to the west we once again traveled by mule back to camp.

Once again at camp we stowed our gear for the night and made our beds out then Marty and I went back to a place where much dead wood was to be found for our nights fire. We filled the box wagon and brought this back to camp. Unlike the first night when the gentle cool breezes filled the dark this night was just a little less humid than the day. After some talk my three companions rolled up in their bedrolls while I laid on top of mine dozing and waiting for the night to cool. Finally when the moon had made about a third of it’s circuit over our camp I was able to lay under my blanket and sleep sounder. Scout made a good guard for our camp and I worried not about any unwanted visitors.

Sunday September the 18th the year of our Lord 05

With mornings light we broke camp and rolled our blankets and gear up. We ate some more Dough Naughts and drank water and coffee. Then went on a morning hunt before we would have to make the trip home. We followed Scout back into the hard woods and true to her nature she scented squirrel again. Marty and Kiwi followed her far a field but White Turtle and I became distracted by an odd looking overhang that was below the level of the surrounding ground. We dropped down into the hollow and discovered that the stream that flows around our camp finds it’s source here. The air coming from this hole was just as cool if not more so than the Cavern we had taken our meal at. We wondered at the possible size of the cave when a bat flew out and around us then back into the small opening. We think that there must be a much larger room not too far past this opening. We talked about the possibility of a camp here and the danger if it were to rain very hard as the side bank away from the cave opening was 4 feet high or more. We then made our way back to our camp site and started to make ready for the return trip to our homesteads. Soon Scout showed herself at the far end of the clearing and waited until her Master was insight before she would come up to us. Then we all were ready if not willing to part for our individual journeys home. We talked about future camps and hunts delaying our departure not ready for this one to be over. But finally the trip back to the 21st century had to be made.

Post Script,

While I do wish that more of our friends that wanted to and could not might have been there I could not have wanted for better company than my three companions, White Turtle, Marty and Kiwi. Thank you men for the good times and the wonderful memories.


Bryant McIguire


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