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Bear mania gets new life with account of hair-raising hunt

Encounter on Big Creek, near present day Gradyville: Captain John Butler, bent on bear meat for supper, made what might seem, in retrospect, a foolhardy move; but, through the heroics of partner Nathan Montgomery, all ended well, with bear rib roasting beside campfire that night.
Comments re article 43133 KY F & W: Black bears have been in Adair Co for years

By Mike Watson, Adair Co. historian

Bear mania seems to have waned in the past week or so, but I wanted to send the following from my research on early Adair County history:

Judge Rollin Hurt wrote often of our ancestors, the pioneers of the County of Adair, his grandfather, William Hurt, Senior, being one of the earlier, coming here in 1792 and settling permanently soon thereafter.

Judge Hurt related one incident of Captain John Butler and Major Nathan Montgomery who were then acting as scouts or spies for the settlements of the Bluegrass in anticipation of Indian attack on these settlers.

The two men started from Logan's Fort, now know as Stanford, with the purpose of visiting the middle Tennessee area. Their trek took them through the familiar region of present Adair County, along the waters of Casey's Creek, where they killed a bear. They skinned and dressed it, took a small amount of the meat to eat, and sewed the remainder of the meat in the skin, which they suspended in the branches of a nearby tree, to be retrieved later.

Along the way, the meat they had kept to eat was lost. This left the men with nothing to eat but dried venison. Butler, who was not feeling well, declared that he would not continue further without some bear meat! They had advanced as far as present Barren County when they turned back to retrieve the stash of bear meat or, perhaps, encounter and kill another bear.

At the end of the day, they were three or four miles to the west of present Gradyville when they made camp for the night. While Montgomery was gathering wood for a fire, he heard the report of Butler's rifle and thought he was beset by Indians. Rushing back to the camp, he learned Butler had wounded a bear, but it had made a run for safety. Fearing it was getting away, Butler did not take time to reload, but ran after it with his hunting knife, shouting for Montgomery to follow.

Near present Gradyville, on Big Creek, Butler came close enough to the bear that it turned to fight. It made for Butler, coming upon its hind legs, when Montgomery was able to shoot and kill it.

The bear was quickly dressed and some cooked for supper.

The whole of the ribs of one side was placed before the fire so as to cook overnight....their mission was then accomplished and eventually returned to Logan's Fort with no further incident. -Mike Watson

This story was posted on 2011-03-28 14:19:43
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