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Arkansas Chapter of the CoHT . . .

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Another account of a Hunt for squirrels in the forests of the Ozarks in the county of Madison in the territory of Arkansaw

by Bryant McIguire

Friday December 7th, Year of our Lord 07

Getting home after working all night and making sure that I had my gear together I made my way to my bed. Waking before noon I loaded my gear while visiting with Kathy and then bade her a fond farewell. I stopped by White Turtleís lodge and loaded his things to haul them to our camp site. He would be joining us after mid day on Saturday. Mid afternoon found me at our camp but I was not the first. Friend and guest Guy Cowden had managed to find our camp despite my directions. He had already made a bed of leaves and had a fire going within the shelter of the rock over hang. I left behind any vestige of the 21st century and walked up to camp to begin my weekend in the 18th. Guy and I talked and stacked up fire wood against the coming dark and nightís chill. As the sun dipped below the hill it became so dark you could not see the outline of the trees beyond our firelight.

While I dined on some boiled beef and journey cakes that my good wife prepared for me Guy had a respectable slab of beef that he fried over the coals. Feeding the fire we kept each other company knowing that by the clock it was not all that late. But my few hours of sleep soon told on me and we both found the comfort of our own blankets. Just before I fell asleep I was sung a lullaby by some coyotes. Waking occasionally to try to find a rock a little less hard to lay my hip on I spent a very good night.

Saturday December 8th, Year of our Lord 07

First light tried to rouse me but the warmth of my blankets held me captive longer than I should have allowed. Finally forcing myself to rise I rekindled a fire from the embers. I set a pot of water to boil added oats and made a fine morning meal, Guy broke his fast on some bacon. As we were eating we heard the arrival of our fellow hunters Marty Kayter and Mike Rowe with his mountain cur Scout. Again Mike brought some of those remarkable confections he calls Dough Naughts. Kind inquiries of each others welfare were requested and given. Then Marty and Mike changed into proper clothing.

The plan had been to hunt along as we made out way to the large rock house that White Turtle had explored last March. But Scout had other plans as she cast about in search of squirrel scent. We followed her over several hills, through some clearings and back on our own trail but to no effect. The woods were strangely empty and quiet. It was as if we were the only living creatures in this world. Try as she might all Scout could find were trails of squirrels from the day before. We all remarked on the eerie silence and feel of the wood. Then almost at once we saw and heard birds and Scout was kept busy treeing squirrels for us. I am happy to say that after two other years of unsuccessful hunts three does seem to be a charm as the saying goes. Guy brought to ground a nice grey and Mike a large red squirrel. It was debated what was the best course but we ended up returning to camp to allow the successful hunters to clean their prey. We also stilled our hunger on some cheese and bread and a cookie or two provided kindly by Mike.

The day being just a little over half done, we decided that we would go on to explore the possibilities of the rock over hang heretofore mentioned. We loaded up in two wagons and made our way as close as that form of travel would safely allow to our goal. From there we went on foot down a creek bed until it fell away thirty or forty feet into the hollow where the rock house was hidden. Guy decided that he would remain behind to watch our back trail and only means of retreat, just incase

So Marty, Mike, Scout and I made our way down the hillside into the bottom of the hollow. There to find that the report White Turtle gave was no exaggeration. This rock house is many yards long and deep enough for perhaps 30 or more hunters and their gear. Inside we found a very large fire ring and other signs of use by persons other than ourselves. Thinking that this would be a fine base camp we went on to find if there was a way in from the river. We followed a path that ran halfway up the side of the hollow from the creek. In so doing we found several other rock houses with deep dry shelters, each defensible from attack. Dropping down to the floor of the hollow we made our way to the river. There we stopped and enjoying the freshening breeze off the water we discussed the possibilities of canoeing to this point and the best time of year to do so. Scout spent her time enjoying the water to cool herself and quench her thirst.

Being surrounded by cliffs on all sides but the East we thought it to be later in the day than it truly was. We followed the creek for a ways then ascended the opposite side of the hollow from our trip down stream. Finding Guy rested and well we prepared to depart for out camp. But Scout had made the decision that there was more to investigate in this region. Guy and I thought it good to leave Mike and Marty to wait on Scoutís return and find if White Turtle had safely made his way to camp. I should know better that to worry about an Indian in the woods. He was waiting for us and enjoying the peace of the woods. Before too long Mike, Marty and Scout also returned and our company was complete.

Having walked many a weary mile up and down hills we found the comfort of our camp most agreeable for taking our ease. A fire was rekindled for preparing our meal and to chase away the chill of the coming night. No poor hunterís fare for us, sausages provided by Mike and Marty and steaks donated by Guy along with some soft fresh bread made for a repast fit for a Governor. Our bellies full and a warm fire to light the dark and comfort us we fell to discussing many an important topic. Finally the lure of warm blankets and dreams of wooded trails became too much and we each took to our blankets. Despite several rain showers that blew a bit of wet in on me requiring me to throw my oil cloth over my head and that one rock I can only find by laying on it, I slept very well.

Sunday December 9th, Year of our Lord 07

Hearing White Turtle stirring I looked out of my blanket to see that day had broken. I roused myself and joined my Indian friend at the fire. Soon all our companions were gathered about warming themselves. Again no poor meal for breaking our fast. Eggs, bacon and sausages were cooked in a spider skillet. Along with what bread was left we had a fine morning meal.

Taking our time not craving the end of such an adventure we packed our gear. I do hate the end of such a time. Having to return to the present with all of its cares and worries. But the memories of such a weekend make that much more bearable. I am so very grateful to the Men and dog that made this another special memory. My thanks to Guy, Marty, Mike, White Turtle (Mark Grigg), and of course Scout for joining me on this weekend.


Bryant McIguire


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