Sunday, June 06, 2010

Wolf Hunts (continued)

Russell, IA  March 16, 1910
At the Call of the Wild
      Out of the east rose a big red sun, as glorious as ever graced the landscape in old Iowa, and that's saying a plenty.  The air was motionless, crisp, electrifying.  A calm, clear March morning.  It is the day of the big wolf-hunt.
     The Big Wolf-Hunt - what an epoch in the history of Lucas County that phrase is destined to mark!  In our mind's eye we glimpse the future, and with the mind's ear we bear our grandchildren ruminating like his:  "Let me see, Cy Larkin has lived right thar fer jist forty year - I know 'cause he bought that place the year of the Big Wolf-Hunt, and that was in 1910."  This event, too, we surmise, will simplify the problem of "how old is Ann" for the coming generations.  Open the Good Book and read from the pages of the family record "Anna Jones, born three years after the Big Wolf-Hunt", etc.  Oh it was great!
     At eight o'clock men were associating the fact of the great hunt with their pecuniary interest in lambs, turkeys, pigs, calves, etc.  At half past nine such trifles were completely eliminated from the psychology of the throng that formed itself into a human cable twenty miles long and encircling an area of thousands of acres.  Now it was wolves, simply wolves, and the spirit of adventure shot round that ring in telepathic waves.
     From somewhere way down the line came the cry:   "Lookout, lookout, he's coming east - tighten up the line - bang, bang, bang, bang."  We glimpsed him for one supreme moment, then he dropped out of sight into the great interior.  But he was within the circle, and and the word persisted in coming to us from both right and left that the line was tight the entire way around.  If not before, then certainly at the finish he would have to give an account of himself.
     Slowly but impatiently we advanced through timber, underbrush and across the prairie.  Sometimes we would rise to a high point, a meadow or a cornfield, and always the human dragnet stretched away unbroken until it disappeared beyond a hill or into the woods.  Ever and soon, too, we would glimpse a section of the line, two three, four miles away, and coming toward us, their gun-barrels glistening in the sunlight.  Rabbits were literally kicked out of the way, and quails looked like pesky flies against the larger perspective.
     At last, nigh upon noon, there is a sound as of cannonading, and the word comes rolling in that our neighbors a mile to the right have killed a wolf.  No sooner have we swallowed the lump in our throat than another bombardment takes place to our left, followed by a "Lookout, lookout down east - he's coming east."  Guns are raised along our quarter, and after the clickety-click of preparation there comes a moment when the air is tense with the hush of expectancy,  followed by a babble of excitement as the wolf rounds a point three hundred yards toward the center and speeds straight toward us.  Our turn has come.  Bang, bang, bangety-bang.  A hundred volleys tear up the ground round about him.  He turns and shoots like an arrow at right angles with our line and vanishes behind a clump of brush, unharmed.
     By this time the ring is less than a mile across and things are happening fast.  Way down on the bottom at the southwest extremity of the circle we catch glimpse of a conflict between a monster wolf and a lop-eared hound.  Along a grassy slope to the north speeds another wolf with a dog at his flank.  The sport gets so thick that we can't see it all, much less relate it.  Oh, you should have been there!    Sport.
     On Tuesday the second big circle wolf hunt was held and something like eight hundred men were in the lines.  This time they succeeded in killing three wolves.  Others got away.  The lines were not compactly held.
     The great Jackson and Washington Township wolf hunt is over, and it was a howling success.  700 men and that many guns and about 1300 dogs succeeded in capturing large Owls.  Don't misunderstand me (the owls were not too large to be captured) and the wolves! Oh, nobody was bitten by a wolf but several men badly snake bitten and had to take medicine for it.  Hurrah!  for our side.
Heroes of the Chase
     Chas. Foster, Amos Homsher and J.M. Wright, of Cedar Township, were heroes of the wolf hunt, on Tuesday, each landing a canine monster with his gun.  How Theodore Rossevelt must have regretted that he could not be present.
The Trapping Industry
     Alfred F. Roberts presented the pelt of a big timber wolf at the auditor's office, Tuesday, and received the $5.00 bounty.  Besides this he received several dollars for the pelt, the auditor cutting off the head, which made the pelt sell for $1.00 less on the market, but "that is the law".  This wolf was caught on the Wright Newsome farm, in Union Township.  Mr. Roberts has captured two red foxes this winter and sold their pelts for $7 or $8 each.  He thus far has trapped 40 minks, some of these furs, the prime ones bringing as high as $5 or $6 - but these are the exceptionally pretty ones, and one could not calculate on that high price for the run of the catch.  Taking it all the way through the trapping industry in Lucas County is good.

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