STORIES OF OUR ADIRONDACKS

 

 

 

Forgotten Voices:

Wild Northern Scenes or Sporting adventures with the Rifle and the Rod

Samuel H. Hammond, 1857

 

Samuel H Hammond's love of the Adirondack sporting life is clearly revealed throughout the two books he wrote, "Hills, Lakes & Forest Streams" and "Wild Northern Scenes."  Born in Bath, New York, a village in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  As a lawyer, he practiced first in his hometown, later moving to Albany New York where he was appointed District Attorney in 1854.  His only other book was "Country Margins and Summer Rambles of a Journalist" co-written with L. W. Mansfield, though his first books were republished under various titles later in his lifetime.  Hammond died in Watertown, New York in 1878.

 

To highlight the writing of this author, I have chosen two accounts of encounters with game in the Adirondacks, both from "Wild Northern Scenes" This second account is titled A Fight with a Buck -

Chapter XV - A Fight with a Buck

 

"I heard the cry of the painter, the howl of the wolf, and the hoarse bellow of the moose that night, and Crop crept close alongside of me, in our bush-shanty, and answered these forest sounds by a low growl, as if sayin' to himself, that while he'd rater keep oat of a fight, yet, if necessary, in defense of his master, he was ready to go in.  Wal, we started on up stream next mornin', passed the second chain of lakes, and went along up the crooked and windin' course of the stream, till towards night we came in sight of Mud Lake.  That lake is anything but handsome to my thinkin'; you saw it was gloomy and solemn enough, situated as it is away up on the top of the mountain, higher than any other waters I know of in these parts.  All about it are fir, and tamarack, and spruce, the lichens hanging like long grey hair away down from their stinted branches, while all around low bushes grow, and moss, sometimes a foot thick, covers the ground. 

 

That, Judge, is the place for black flies and mosquitoes in June.  The black flies are all gone before this time in the summer, but if you'd a taken this trip the latter part of June, you'd have admitted that I'm tellin' no lie.  If there's any place in the round world where mosquitoes have longer bills, or the black flies swarm in mightier hosts, I don't know where it is, and shan't go there if I happen to find out its location.   I've a tolerably thick hide, but if they didn't bite me _some_, I wouldn't say so.  But you ought to have seen the deer feedin' on the pond-lilies and grass in that lake I.   They were like sheep in a pasture; and out some fifty rods from the shore was a great moose, helpin' himself to the eatables that grew there.  I laid my jacket down for Crop to watch, and waded quietly in towards where the moose was feedin'.  I got within twelve or fifteen rods of him, and spoke to him with my rifle.  He heard it, you may guess.  Without knowin' who or what hurt him, he plunged right towards me for the shore; but he never got there alive.  You ought to have seen the scampering of the deer at the sound of my rifle!  Maybe there wasn't much splashin' of the water, and whistlin', and snortin', and puttin' out for the shore among 'em.

 

"The next mornin', I got up just as the sun was risin', and a little way down on the shore of the lake I saw a buck.  Wal, he was one of 'em--that buck was.  The horns on his head were like an old-fashioned round-posted chair, and if they hadn't a dozen prongs on 'em, you may skin me!  He wasn't as big as an ox, but a two-year-old that could match him, could brag of a pretty rapid growth.  I crept up behind a little clump of bushes to about fifteen rods of where he stood on the sandy beach, and sighting carefully at his head, let drive.  My gun hung fire a little, owin' to the night-dews, but that buck went down, and after kickin' a moment, laid still, and I took it for granted he was dead.  So I laid down my rifle, and went up to where he was, and with my huntin' knife in my hand, took hold of his horn to raise his head so as to cut his throat.  If that deer was dead, he came to life mighty quick; for I had no sooner touched him, than he sprang to his feet, and with every hair standin' straight towards his head, came like a mad bull at me.  In strugglin' up he overshot me; and as he made his drive one prong went through the calf of my leg.  I plunged my knife into his body, and the blood spirted all over me.  But it wasn't no use.  He smashed down upon me again, and made that hole in my leg above the knee.  I handled my knife in a hurry, and made more than one hole in his skin, while he stuck a prong through my arm.  I hollered for Crop, who was watching the shanty as his duty was.  The old buck and I had it rough and tumble; sometimes one a-top, and sometimes the other, and both growin' weak from loss of blood.  May be we didn't kick and tussle about, and tear up the sand on the beach of the lake _some!_

 

The buck was game to the backbone, and had no notion of givin' in, and I had to fight for it, or die; so up and down, over and over, and all around, we went for a long time, until Crop made up his mind that my callin' so earnestly meant something, and round the point he came.  When he saw what was goin' on, you ought to've seen how he went in!  He didn't stop to ask any questions, but as if possessed by all the furies of creation he lit upon that buck, and the fight was up.  He with his teeth, and I with my knife, settled the matter in less than a minute.  But, Judge, let me tell you, that buck was dangerous; and if Crop hadn't been around, may be ther'd have been the bones of man and beast bleachin' on the sandy beach of Mud Lake!  I bound up my wounds as well as I could--but it was tough work backin' my bark canoe over the carryin' places on Bog River, and across the Ingen carryin' place, and from the Upper Saranac to Bound Lake, with them holes in my leg and arm, and the other bruises I received. 

 

When I got out to the settlements I was mighty glad to lay still for six weeks, and when I got around again I was a good deal leaner than I am now.

 

 

 

We're pleased to bring you writings from an Adirondack Blogger, Dave Waite (photoguy@nycap.rr.com) Dave is an amateur nature and fine arts photographer who was trained in black & white photography in the early 1970's, worked professionally a bit and then set aside all artistic pursuits until about 2003.  Ne now enjoys creative aspects of photograph and writing to share with others.  Please visit Dave at:  http://www.davewaitephotography.blogspot.com

 

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