BOONE HUNTED FOR BUSINESS, NOT FOR HIS AMUSEMENT OR PLEASURE, 1784 HISTORY
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
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
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
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.