Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties
Including Personal Reminiscens of Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902

A Deer Hunt

Page 199

There was a time when deer were plenty in Menard county. Jack Kelso was a boss hunter and not only supplied his own family, but always kept venison hams for sale. Sam Wilcox was another hunter. The only difference was that Kelso used a rifle and could kill a deer at long range, while Wilcox hunted on horseback and used a double-barreled shotgun. Wilcox spent one winter (I think it was in 1853) in Forest City township and kept a wagon running all winter to Springfield, selling his venison. I think he told me that he hilled sixty deer that winter. I recollect that on one trip on upper Spring Lake, as the result of a week's work, he brought home the carcasses of nineteen deer. But the hounds ran all the deer out of Menard and Mason long ago. I have seen thirty deer in one drove. They would go out of Long Point in the evening to Red Oak swamp and back to Long Point in the morning. They would travel single file, walk awhile, trot, and then gallop. Not a deer had been seen in this section for twenty years.

In 1843 Henry Fields, who worked on the court house in Petersburg, had a few hounds, and one Christmas he and a dozen of us boys went after deer. Just below the bridge, on the east side of the river, the hounds took a trial down the river. After awhile they crossed the river, then took west past Concord camp ground, the hunters keeping on the inside of the circle. After awhile the hounds turned south till they passed Petersburg, and as a deer always came back to where he started from we all headed for the place where he would cross the river. The deer plunged into the river to swim across, when a dozen shots killed him. The water was deep and we were puzzled about how to get him out. Hugh Trent, who was always equal to any emergency, constructed a raft out of rails, pulled him out and brought him to shore. The deer was carried to town and the next day was divided up into fifteen or twenty shares.

I have seen deer run through the streets of Petersburg when they did not know there was a town till they got in it. Dear skins used to be legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson



1902 Index

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Illinois Ancestors