Friday, June 10, 2011

Frank Kills a Deer: Pioneer Tales of Arkansas' German Immigrants

Arkansas Echo, December 22, 1893

How Frank, Without Powder and Lead, Once Slew a Magnificent Deer

(Here is another of the Pioneer Tales provided to the Arkansas Echo by German immigrants in 1893. This one is bloody, but it clear that old Frank of Johnson County, Arkansas was proud of his hand-to-hand combat with a deer.)

That a person without both powder and lead, armed solely with an old rusty pocket knife, can slay a deer was proven by our old jovial friend Frank. We definitely want to let Frank himself tell this story that has the advantage over similar stories in that it is literally true.
Unused Wine Bottle Label
Nick Kupferle was a German immigrant
I am, tells Frank, one of the first, perhaps even the very first German who came to this state. It was already in the beginning of the '70s when I had my wigwam up there in the mountains of Johnson County. At that time, there was still game in great abundance, even bears and  panthers and deer that often would be so forward that they came close to the house.

Often these animals caused a goodly amount of destruction in the cornfield, and one time I succeeded in shooting one of these audacious fellows from the window of my house.
Another time, I brought one home that I, as mentioned above, had slain without powder or lead, with only the help of an old pocket knife.
One day I went, accompanied by my true Prince, to locate and drive home my cattle, which hadn't returned in quite a few days. As I am a ways from the house, there suddenly stands before us, right in the path, a magnificent deer with an even more magnificent set of antlers.

Hallo! I think to myself, old kid, you could make out your last will if only I had my rifle with me. I sic my dog onto the fellow. But instead of taking to its heels, the buck lowers its head and begins a pitched battle.

Finally, Prince bites securely into its shoulder, the deer turns, and the two move forward. I follow behind, but certainly not far. The deer shakes the dog loose and the scrap continues on.

Then the two suddenly roll around on the ground and I, not being lazy, jump after them. In a flash, I have the buck by its horns and turn him by the head, as securely as I can, onto the ground. If I now only had a rock or piece of wood, I could beat it to death. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be found in the vicinity, and, anyway, I could not let the thing loose.

Then, a saving thought. I had in my pocket an old, broken pocket knife, perhaps I can kill it with that. I dip my hand quickly into the pocket after the knife, open it with my teeth, and explore to see if I can bleed the buck with it.

It was difficult with such an instrument and sweat broke out of all pores.

Necessity breaks iron, and I at last succeeded.
It appears to produce a pleasurable feeling in the buck; he lays as still as a sheep, and I cut more and more until I reach the jugular vein.

Now the buck become very uncomfortable, and he struggles with all his might, but not more than Frank. And so it finally bled to death and was kaput.
I was absolutely bathed in sweat and still could not believe that I had pulled of  this feat with an old knife.  Then I heaved the booty onto my back and took off for home, the search for cattle postponed to another day.

(Translated by Dan Durning, all rights reserved)

No comments:

Post a Comment