A Wolf Hunt
By Edward Ames
During the greater part of his adult life, Bishop Ames has resided in Indiana, though his official duties have required protracted absences from home, and long journeys to the most distant parts of the country. A few years since he removed to Baltimore, Maryland, which is his present place of residence. Of late years he has frequently visited Athens, where he has relatives living, and where he finds great enjoyment in meeting the friends of his youth, and in recalling early memories. He is very fond of familiar converse, and, in his “hours of ease,” talks in the most genial manner, of early reminiscences or of more modern and weighty affairs. During an evening recently passed by the writer in his company, when his boyhood and early life were the topic of speech, he gave, with much amusement, the following account of a wolf hunt:
In 1822 Pitt Putnam, of Marietta, organized a grand wolf hunt, to be held on the head waters of Big run. I suppose Putnam inherited his aversion to wolves from his Massachusetts ancestor, as men sometimes inherit politics or religion; at any rate he seemed to think that he had a call to exterminate wolves. The region fixed on for the hunt lay in Washington county, not far from the borders of Ames, and a great many of the male inhabitants of Ames and Bern took part in it. A space about four miles square was surveyed in the heart of the forest, and marked all the way around by blazing the trees. General notice was given some weeks beforehand through the newspaper printed at Marietta, and I remember that a rude diagram of the country and of the line of battle was published. The plan of proceeding was well organized. The hunters were to be stationed at regular distances from each other, all the way around the tract, some supplied with guns and others with horns. Certain men were appointed captains, lieutenants, etc., and gave orders to those nearest them. On the appointed day the hunters assembled from all directions, and were soon placed. I was then only sixteen years old, and was more highly excited over the affair than I am apt to become over any event now-a-days. When all was ready, the men stationed, armed, etc., a horn was blown by the leader, and the signal in a few minutes passed around the whole circuit; whereupon they all began to march toward a common center, keeping in line. Each man was ordered to make as great a hubbub as possible, those with horns to blow them and the rest to shout and halloo. I was a pretty well grown boy of my age, and was allowed to march with the rest. Furnished with a tin horn nearly as long as myself, I blew such blasts as would, I suppose, have shaken down the walls of Jericho, if they had been there, and blew till I had no strength to blow any more. The object of the noise, hooting, blowing horns and beating bushes was to scare up the wolves, and drive them before us, and, of course, when the poor doomed wolves had been thus driven closer and closer to a common center by the contracting lines, the purpose was to slay them ruthlessly, by the hundreds, that is, if they were there. As we drew near the center, where there was a running brook and a cave in the rocks, the excitement increased. Soon wild animals of different sorts were seen darting about. There were deer in considerable numbers, and though in poor condition, as I remember, a great many were killed. In their fright and eagerness to escape, they ran directly at the lines of hunters, and I saw some of them leap clear over the heads of the men. Foxes were numerous too, and a good many were killed, with smaller game of different sorts. But we were after wolves; and after all our marching and hallooing, and beating of bushes, my recollection is that not a single wolf was captured or killed-or, if any, only one or two-and the whole affair was a laughable failure, so far as the wolf part was concerned. I think I have never wasted so much breath to so little profit as I did in blowing that tin horn. I walked home a tired boy, and very skeptical as to Pitt Putnam’s having any great inspiration as a wolf hunter.
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