Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Five: ''The Day the Deer Must Die!'' >> Page 70

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 70 THE CUB OF THE PANTHER
weapon, thus manufactured, was of long barrel, almost as long as the
tall and bony hunter who used it. Its bore was larger than the rifles of
modern use, and it was preferred by the riflemen of both armies to the
Brush rifle or the German Yager of that period, both of them being of
like shape and inferior potency.
It was the boast of the Carolina rifleman, in 1776, that his weapon
could kill at three hundred yards distance —a boast which, however
telling in times past, would hardly arrest the attention, at the present
day, of improved gun manufacture.
To this day, however, the mountaineers of the region in which our
progress lies, still continue to employ their ancient weapon; and we
have seen, of late years, the long rifle, of beautiful mountain manufac-
ture, richly embossed with silver and even golden ornaments, which
proved as effective as it was showy, dropping the buck fatally at a dis-
tance of two hundred yards.
The rifles of our two hunters were of this very class in size and
shape, but without the filigree work, of this fancy weapon. Of Sam
Fuller's we have already spoken. Mike Baynam's was a fine rifle, not so
clumsy of stock as Fuller's, but hardly more efficient in use. Of the two,
Mike was the better shot, but Sam the more dogged hunter.
Their slot-hounds, each of which had a peculiar character as well as
name, were of a breed famous in that precinct. Long-eared, long-
nosed, but bullet-headed, with broad chest, narrow in the hips, but
high; clean of limb and ankle, short of hair, and with sinews that could
contract, spring and recover, even with the elasticity of the bow, the
arrow being delivered from the string. These dogs were all of famous
fighting qualities.
With the first sufficient signs of day, Sam Fuller made his way down
the heights, and into the hollows, where he skirted the laurel thickets,
even as the good scout skirts the picket lines of a formidable enemy.
He knew not at what moment, roused by the low but vindictive bay of
the hounds, the bear would rush out from his covert, and assail the
hunter himself. Then, there might be a crouching panther, doubled up
in muscle, and watching with his sharp red eyes, perched upon some
great branch of laurel or chestnut oak, directly above his head. The life
was one of exciting perils which rendered all other modes of life
monotonous, and which required that hunter and hunted should be
equally on the qui vive. For these fiercer beasts, the season, however,
was not now sufficiently advanced, and our two friends anticipated no
encounter more formidable than that with a buck of ten tynes.