History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     The hunter of modern times appears to involve himself in the chase for sport or recreational purposes.

     The writer recently came upon a copy of John Filson's history of Kentucky, printed in 1784. In it was a story about one of Daniel Boone's own hunting experiences, taken from his own mouth. Boone discloses that his hunting prowess was not of the amusement or pleasure nature, but his business.

     He, along with five of his companions, left their North Carolina home for the wilderness of Kentucky. With them they took their guns, ammunition, dogs and horses.

     The horses were to be used to transport back to the settlement the skins and furs they had caught. The rewards were to be sold or bartered for the livelihood of themselves and their families.

     The incident told by Boone was that he purposely remained in the wilderness for three months by himself. His companions had either returned home or had been killed by the Indians. His brother at some point joined him and they were the only two white men in the country.

     They spent every day hunting in the winter 1769-70, and on the first day of May 1770, Boone says his brother returned home to North Carolina by himself for a new lot of horses and ammunition. He was left alone without bread, salt or sugar; without companion of human, horse or dog.

     His brother returned to Kentucky on July 27th. Why had Daniel not gone home with his brother? He gives no answer. Maybe it was because he preferred the wilderness to his home! Or possibly the brothers had so much peltry that Daniel stayed in the wilderness to protect them!

     Many of the frontiersmen killed game for the mere satisfaction of a meal or for the protection of their crops. The backwoodsman made hunting his vocation. He was motivated to leave the settlements and go into the unclaimed forests to find game.

     Boone found himself settling in the valley of Kentucky and was overwhelmed at the presence of the wild game. He says:

     "We found everywhere abundance of wild beasts of all sorts thru this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains, fearless because ignorant of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove and the numbers about the salt spring were amazing. In this forest, the habitation of beasts of every kind natural to America we practiced hunting with great success."

     Within two years after the founding of the first settlements in Kentucky there was a call for laws for the preservation of game.

     The first four Kentucky settlements gathered in 1775 calling for restitution: "The wanton destruction of our game, the only support of life amongst many of us, and for want of which the country would be abandoned ere tomorrow, and scarcely a probability remain of it ever becoming the habitation of any Christian people, this, together with the practice of many foreigners who make a business of hunting in the country, killing, driving off and lessening the number of wild cattle and other game whilst the value of the skins and furs is appropriated to the benefit of persons not concerned or interested in our settlement."

     What was the life of a backwoodsman? It was one of hardship and great labor. He was always on the lookout and often hopelessly disappointed. Sometimes he would be rewarded with an abundance of food and other times he would be nearly starved.

     His vital food was the flesh of the wild animals. The hides he could barter away in the local settlements for his chief essentials. Sometimes the skillful hunter would in one winter bring in furs worth hundreds of dollars.


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