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Davy Crockett

American Frontiersman

1786-1836

A selection from
NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF DAVID CROCKETT, OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE

Narrated by Dick Hill

Download mp3 file: Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee

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I gathered my corn, and then set out for my Fall's hunt.

This was in the last of October, 1822.

I found bear very plenty, and, indeed, all sorts of game and wild varmints, except buffalo.

There was none of them.

I hunted on till Christmas, having supplied my family very well all along with wild meat, at which time my powder gave out; and I had none either to fire Christmas guns, which is very common in that country, or to hunt with.

I had a brother-in-law who had now moved out and settled about six miles west of me, on the opposite side of Rutherford's fork of the Obion river, and he had brought me a keg of powder, but I had never gotten it home.

There had just been another of Noah's freshes, and the low grounds were flooded all over with water.

I know'd the stream was at least a mile wide which I would have to cross, as the water was from hill to hill, and yet I determined to go on over in some way or other, so as to get my powder.

I told this to my wife, and she immediately opposed it with all her might.

I still insisted, telling her we had no powder for Christmas, and, worse than all, we were out of meat.

She said, we had as well starve as for me to freeze to death or to get drowned, and one or the other was certain if I attempted to go.

But I didn't believe the half of this; and so I took my woolen wrappers, and a pair of mockasins, and put them on, and tied up some dry clothes and a pair of shoes and stockings, and started.

But I didn't before know how much any body could suffer and not die.

This, and some of my other experiments in water, learned me something about it, and I therefore relate them.

The snow was about four inches deep when I started; and when I got to the water, which was only about a quarter of a mile off, it look'd like an ocean.

I put in, and waded on till I come to the channel, where I crossed that on a high log.

I then took water again, having my gun and all my hunting tools along, and waded till I came to a deep slough, that was wider than the river itself.

I had crossed it often on a log; but, behold, when I got there, no log was to be seen.

I knowed of an island in the slough, and a sapling stood on it close to the side of that log, which was now entirely under water.

I knowed further, that the water was about eight or ten feet deep under the log, and I judged it to be about three feet deep over it.

After studying a little what I should do, I determined to cut a forked sapling, which stood near me, so as to lodge it against the one that stood on the island, in which I succeeded very well.

I then cut me a pole, and crawled along on my sapling till I got to the one it was lodged against, which was about six feet above the water.

I then felt about with my pole till I found the log, which was just about as deep under the water as I had judged.

I then crawled back and got my gun, which I had left at the stump of the sapling I had cut, and again made my way to the place of lodgement, and then climb'd down the other sap ling so as to get on the log.

I then felt my way along with my feet, in the water, about waist deep, but it was a mighty ticklish business.

However, I got over, and by this time I had very little feel ing in my feet and legs, as I had been all the time in the water, except what time I was crossing the high log over the river, and climbing my lodged sapling.

I went but a short distance before I came to another slough, over which there was a log, but it was floating on the water.

I thought I could walk it, and so I mounted on it; but when I had got about the middle of the deep water, some how or somehow else, it turned over, and in I went up to my head I waded out of this deep water, and went ahead till I came to the high-land, where I stop'd to pull of my wet clothes, and put on the others, which I had held up with my gun, above the water, when I fell in.

I got them on, but my flesh had no feeling in it, I was so cold.

I tied up the wet ones, and hung them up in a bush.

I now thought I would run, so as to warm myself a little, but I couldn't raise a trot for some time; indeed, I couldn't step more than half the length of my foot.

After a while I got better, and went on five miles to the house of my brother-in-law, having not even smelt fire from the time I started.

I got there late in the evening, and he was much astonished at seeing me at such a time.

I staid all night, and the next morning was most piercing cold, and so they persuaded me not to go home that day.

I agreed, and turned out and killed him two deer; but the weather still got worse and colder, instead of better.

I staid that night, and in the morning they still insisted I couldn't get home.

I knowed the water would be frozen over, but not hard enough to bear me, and so I agreed to stay that day.

I went out hunt ing again, and pursued a big he-bear all day, but didn't kill him.

The next morning was bitter cold, but I knowed my family was without meat, and I determined to get home to them, or die a-trying.

I took my keg of powder, and all my hunting tools, and cut out.

When I got to the water, it was a sheet of ice as far as I could see.

I put on to it, but hadn't got far before it broke through with me; and so I took out my tomahawk, and broke my way along before me for a considerable distance.

At last I got to where the ice would bear me for a short distance, and I mounted on it, and went ahead; but it soon broke in again, and I had to wade on till I came to my floating log.

I found it so tight this time, that I know'd it couldn't give me another fall, as it was frozen in with the ice.

I crossed over it without much difficulty, and worked along till I got to my lodged sapling, and my log under the water.

The swiftness of the current prevented the water from freezing over it, and so I had to wade, just as I did when I crossed it before.

When I got to my sapling, I left my gun and climbed out with my powder keg first, and then went back and got my gun.

By this time I was nearly frozen to death, but I saw all along before me, where the ice had been fresh broke, and I thought it must be a bear straggling about in the water.

I, there fore, fresh primed my gun, and, cold as I was, I was determined to make war on him, if we met.

But I followed the trail till it led me home, and I then found it had been made by my young man that lived with me, who had been sent by my distressed wife to see, if he could, what had become of me, for they all believed that I was dead.

When I got home I was'nt quite dead, but mighty nigh it; but I had my powder, and that was what I went for.

That night there fell a heavy rain, and it turned to a sleet.

In the morning all hands turned out hunting.

My young man, and a brother-in-law who had lately settled close by me, went down the river to hunt for turkeys; but I was for larger game.

So I started to go up above the hurricane, determined to have a bear.

I had two pretty good dogs, and an old hound, all of which I took along.

I had gone about six miles up the river, and it was then about four miles across to the main Obion; so I determined to strike across to that, as I had found nothing yet to kill.

I got on to the river, and turned down it; but the sleet was still getting worse and worse.

The bushes were all bent down, and locked together with ice,so that it was almost impossible to get along.

In a little time my dogs started a large gang of old turkey goblers, and I killed two of them, of the biggest sort.

I shouldered them up, and moved on, until I got through the hurricane, when I was so tired that I laid my goblers down to rest, as they were confounded heavy, and I was mighty tired.

While I was resting, my old hound went to a log, and smelt it awhile, and then raised his eyes to ward the sky, and cried out.

Away he went, and my other dogs with him, and I shouldered up my turkeys again, and followed on as hard as I could drive.

They were soon out of sight, and in a very little time I heard them begin to bark.

When I got to them, they were barking up a tree, but there was no game there.

I concluded it had been a turkey, and that it had flew away.

When they saw me coming, away they went again; and, after a little time, began to bark as before.

When I got near them, I found they were barking up the wrong tree again, as there was no game there.

They served me in this way three or four times, until I was so infernal mad, that I determined, if I could get near enough, to shoot the old hound at least.

With this intention I pushed on the harder, till I came to the edge of an open parara, and looking on before my dogs, I saw in and about the biggest bear that ever was seen in America.

He looked, at the distance he was from me, like a large black bull.

My dogs were afraid to attack him, and that was the reason they had stop'd so often, that I might overtake them.

They were now almost up with him, and I took my goblers from my back and hung them up in a sapling, and broke like a quarter horse after my bear, for the sight of him had put new springs in me.

I soon got near to them, but they were just getting into a roaring thicket, and so I couldn't run through it, but had to pick my way along, and had close work even at that.

In a little time I saw the bear climbing up a large black oak-tree, and I crawled on till I got within about eighty yards of him.

He was setting with his breast to me; and so I put fresh priming in my gun, and fired at him.

At this he raised one of his paws and snorted loudly.

I loaded again as quick as I could, and fired as near the same place in his breast as possible.

At the crack of my gun here he came tumbling down; and the moment he touched the ground, I heard one of my best dogs cry out I took my tomahawk in one hand, and my big butcher-knife in the other, and run up within four or five paces of him, at which he let my dog go, and fixed his eyes on me.

I got back in all sorts of a hurry, for I know'd if he got hold of me, he would hug me altogether too close for comfort.

I went to my gun and hastily loaded her again, and shot him the third time, which killed him good.

I now began to think about getting him home, but I didn't know how far it was.

So I left him and started; and in order to find him again, I would blaze a sapling every little distance, which would show me the way back.

I continued this till I got within about a mile of home, for there I know'd very well where I was, and that I could easily find the way back to my blazes.

When I got home, I took my brother-in-law, and my young man, and four horses, and went back.

We got there just before dark, and struck up a fire, and commenced butchering my bear.

It was some time in the night before we finished it; and I can assert, on my honour, that I believe he would have weighed six hundred pounds.

It was the second largest I ever saw.

I killed one, a few years after, that weighed six hundred and seven teen pounds.

I now felt fully compensated for my sufferings in going after my powder; and well satisfied that a dog might sometimes be doing a good business, even when he seemed to be barking up the wrong tree.

We got our meat home, and I had the pleasure to know that we now had plenty, and that of the best; and I continued through the winter to supply my family abundantly with bear-meat and venison from the woods.

More information about Davy Crockett from Wikipedia




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