Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Hunting bear, camping in Natchez wilderness -- late 1700s
- 2013 - 340 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|Hunting bear, camping in Natchez wilderness -- late 1700s|
John Hutchins was born in the 1770s on the wild frontier of Natchez deep in the wilderness along Second Creek about 12 miles from Fort Panmure (Rosalie) and three miles east of Ellis Cliffs on the Mississippi River.
By the time he was eight he was killing game with his old flintlock, a Kentucky rifle, and working the tobacco and corn fields on his father's land. In those days, Hutchins' recalled in a narrative he wrote for his grandchildren: "The country abounded in wild game, such as bears, deer, panther and cats..."
Hutchins and fellow hunters killed more 104 bears one winter hunting season.
"I had from necessity become a hunter and was accustomed to roam at large through the woods in quest of game, having on such occasions several fine dogs, a good rifle, a tomahawk, and a butcher's knife." With these weapons on him, Hutchins felt "perfectly secure and would roam through the woods for days together, sleeping near some brook or pond."
During rainy spells, he erected a camp in "only a few moments" from scratch. His shelter was made from the skins of a bear or deer, or both, wrapped tightly around poles in the form of a small hut. If the skins weren't available, Hutchins built "a comfortable house" with "cane tops tied in bundles" along with tree bark. He remained in the shelter "as long as game was plentiful in the neighborhood."
After making kills, Hutchins sliced the meat from the bones of bear and deer into thin slabs, put it in a sack made from bear or deer skin and tied it with a strip of hide.
"This was suspended to the top of a sapling until a sufficient quantity was obtained, when with a butcher's knife I would cut a part large enough to pass a loaded horse thru," said Hutchins. He said "in this way our meat and skins were taken home."
Oil was rendered from the bear and poured into the bladder and intestines after they were cleansed. "I had on occasions a camp kettle for the purpose of rendering the oil and for cooking, but the common practice among hunters was to stick a strong cane in the ground, learning it toward the fire, on the end of which a piece of meat was stuck to broil -- three canes placed in that way one above the other."
On the top cane hung a piece of bear meat and fat. Directly under that hanging on the middle cane was a wild turkey and on the bottom cane a loin of venison. The heat of the fire, said Hutchins, "would cause the rich gravy to fall from the bear meat to that under it." The hunters plunged a knife into the bear fat and meat to help spread the gravy onto the wild turkey and venison below. Salt was added and once done the hunters enjoyed a scrumptious meal -- "delightful," said Hutchins.
"Our appetites were fine," he said. "We ate heartily, generally three times a day and once at midnight."
When he was an old man in the mid-19th Century, Hutchins recalled that during the late 1700s "we knew nothing of the present fashionable complaint called 'dyspepsia' (indigestion). We had neither aches nor pains, no sleepless nights...a bear skin for our bed, a limb of a tree for our pillow, a worn and threadbare blanket as our covering, a large fire at our feet and we wanted no more."
Hutchins was taught to hunt by Toney, a slave belonging to Hutchins' father. Toney, by all accounts, was a man beloved by the entire family. Hutchins said Toney was "the first and most faithful slave" his father ever had and "was my constant companion and brother hunter. He taught me my first lessons in hunting."
Toney taught young John Hutchins everything there was to know about bear and deer hunting. One morning at camp Toney told Hutchins that he had dreamed during the night that they would "kill one or more large fat bears today."
They took out at daybreak behind their hunting dogs, which in a short time began barking and by the sound Toney could tell that they were on the trail of the bear. "Look sharp," said Toney, "he (bear) is a large fellow. He won't climb a tree."
This bear was a fighter, Toney warned, and he would turn and attack the dogs. Soon they caught up with the bear and the yelping dogs.
"If he run after us, mind and pop him through the heart," said Toney, who told Hutchins not to worry if he missed because Toney was right behind him and would "give him a pop."
"In this way," said Hutchins, he and Toney "amused ourselves, often killing from one to four or five in a day."
If unable to carry the kill back to camp, Hutchins said they would save it from the wolves by bending down a sapling and suspending the "meat until we could salt and carry it to camp. During the winter we would kill and save meat enough to last the family as salt provisions until next winter...Venison could be killed at any season and was always good."
|Frank Morris Murder Series|