Hunting With Colonel Roosevelt, Daily Racing Form, 1919-11-14


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HUNTING WITH COLONEL ROOSEVELT It was always a joy to- go into the woods with Theodore Roosevelt. Many times it was my privilege to have him as my guest ori;hunting:expeditions in Louisiana. He was a keen woodsman, painstaking, observant, tremendously interested In all that went on around him. He .invariably- carried a notebook in which he jotted : down, immediately what occurred, so that he would be .accurate and would not have to trust to his memory in future narration or writing about that particular subject. In the woods, as everywhere he went,; he studied not only his surroundings but human-kind. His marvelous faculty for making friends never showed to better advantage the man wis never, in my judgment, more truly himself than in dealing with the individuals whom lie- met- on these hunting trips. I remember ca one occasion in 1907 that he, Dr. Alexander Lambert. . his friend . and personal physiciaii, an1 Surgeon-General- Itisey" were my guests on Tensas River in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Our first camp was maile on a slight bluff at the edge of the river. IVe got into camp late Saturday evening. That night there visited us Ben Lilly, one of the mrxt remarkable characters in the country, and I think one, of the greatest hunters the world has ever produced. He was at that time fifty-five years old. He had never taken a drink, a smoke or a chew of tobacco, and . he. did , not drink tea or coffee. He never swore, and conditions would he hunt or permit his dogs to hunt on Sundays. At that time, too, despite his age, he could take three flour barrels and jump in and out of them, forward ami backward. Colonel Roosevelt and Ben Lilly were immediately drawn to each other. Their deep admiration for woods life and keen observation of trees, plants and animals. gave them many common points of interest. The colonel immediately began to draw out Ben, soon having him launched on a veritable flood of hunting stories. He began by saying that he had walked over to our camp, as he disliked the railroads, and about six miles below camp he had shot a deer about dusk and had hung the carcass in a tree. He. described the location so accurately that we sent a few negro attendants down to get the venison. INDIAN STALLION FOB HUNTING. In hunting Ben rode , a short, thicks necked Indian stallion. He had recently returned from "a trip to the-Mississippi swamps, where he had gone to get a particularly large bear. W.ith patience almost incredible he located this bear and followed him, he told the colonel. Coming into range, Ben shot the animal three or four times with his Winchester without inflicting a mortal wound. The bear, in a ragei charged him. Ben kept shooting, but when his last btillet failed to drop Bruin he knew it was necessary to run. There happened to be near by a "big cypress with a large swell, occasioned by standing for years in the overflow. Ben said he never knew how fast lie could run until that bear went after him around the cypress, for he ranso fast that he ran right lipou the hear as it dropped dead. His game, the old hunter told Colonel Roosevelt, was the largest bear he had ever seen, with a particularly fine skin which he wanted to preserve. His usual method of hoisting a large deer or a bear was to put a pulley into a convenient tree, run a rope through it attached at one- end to the game and at the other to the tail of Billy, his stallion, then to driye the pony ahead. Then when the game was cleaned and skinndd he would carry it away on the stallion. This bear, he said, was so large that Billy couldnt pull it clear of the ground. He got its hindquarters off the ground several times. Finally, urged by a cane wielded by Ben, tlie little horse got the bear .nearly to the height desired, but then, at an especially vigorous prod by Ben, began to kick. The rope slackened, ithe bear came down, the tree sprang back into position and the pony was swung up onto its fore-feet, its hind legs kicking in the air until Ben was able to loosen the rope and let it down. "Nearly ruined the best hunting pony I ever had," connueuted Ben, to the colonels intense delight. Oil one occasion where we were hunting Ben had been out .with a pack of ills dogs chasing a bear and finally treed him just before 12 oclock on Saturday night. He couldnt sec to shoot him, but made a great big fire to lie down by and kept his dogs at the base of the tree. In spite of his ironclad rule, never to hunt or shoot on Sunday, he caid neither -his religion nor his disposition prevented his "shooing" a bear up a tree or keeping him there, and that was one of the hardest tasks he ever had in his life keeping that bear up a tree- until he could shoot him Monday morning. y CONVINCES THE SKEPTICS. One day while Colonel Roosevelt and the rest of us were riding through the swamps with Ben, he remarked: "Three turkeys have just passed by here,, a hen and two. gobblers." Not a man could see a sign .of any kind or. character, and: we laughingly told Jqn that any statement, he made would have to be taken as being true because we hud no way of verifying it.. This. good naturcd kidding seemed to nettle him a little bit, and" he remarked: "I Mill convince you of my statement, because there is a slough near here,.. ,and it will be easy to see their tracks unless they, flew before reaching it. Get down and I will show you where they scratched and where thiy crossed." We promptly complied with his instructions. "He showed us on the- way several places where they had beep scratching, and when -we reached the place he had referred to, he distinctly showed us where, iu the soft mud, were the tracks o tle hen and; the tracks of the two gobblers -before they flew across. . - Colonel Roosevelt remarked that lie was one of the- inost wonderful woodmen he had. sver:seen- in his life. Like Ben Lilly, to my knowledge. Colonel Rooss-velt never, under any conditious, hualed on Sunday On one Sunday, immediately after our midday dinner, we took a long walk through the woods and finally we were seated on a log on the border of the Tensas River. There for the first time . I learned of the water rabbit which seemed to. swim with all the ease and facility of a miiikV The colonel noted this and then commented ;on the wonderful birdlife that we saw even during tlie fall months in that se.ction. He observed and, noted nine different varieties of woodpeckers, running from the great ivory billed, which is nearly extinct, to the small downy woodpecker which was. migratr ing unusually early, and in his memoranda ; liad written the names of a large number-of; birds pf various kinds which he saw and instantly identified. Invariably on his walks he would carry a bodk.-jvith him and would be perfectly absorbed in he. was reading, occasionally putting .it down or, irr his pocket to express some thought or make a statement. John M. Parker in Outers-Recreation. Jj ,

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