(Submitted by Marilyn Campbell)
Written by Charles D. Smith, Lismore, Louisiana
Published in The Concordia Sentinel April 15, 1977
It was 1908 and I was ten years old. Mother and myself had gone up in the field, along an old levee built in slave times, hunting a turkey nest.
We heard several horses over the levee and pans rattling. We thought it was the peddler. But when we got to the house, a bearded man and my father were coming out of the horse lot. My father had saddled and fed the horses.
This man was Ben V. Lilly, a bounty hunter for the government. He had gone to Africa with Teddy Roosevelt on his famous hunt. I remember him telling about it, but I donít remember any of the details.
The next day, he was out in the blacksmith shop making my mother some butcher knives with buckhorn handles. He had seven or eight dogs, some trained for bear, panther, and wildcats.
My mother would cook a lot of corn meal mush at dinner. We had home ground meal. She would put a lot of hog cracklings in it. By evening it would be cool. Mr. Lilly would put each dogís portions on a long plank. While he would do this, the dogs would stand about 20 feet away until he called each one. Each dog knew his place and would not disobey his master.
My father and Mr. Lilly went on a wildcat hunt. The cat ran across a haul road. My father shot at it with a rifle but missed, which was a rare thing. Lilly killed it the next second. Lilly was a good shot at moving game, but Dad could outshoot him at a target, having been brought up in the Catahoula hills in pioneer days shooting a muzzle loading rifle. I never could beat him, even after he was 80 years old. Dad and Mr. William A. Cross, Sr., were the best shots in the neighborhood. Mr. Cross was my wifeís grandfather, also the grandfather of Sheriff Noah Cross.
Getting back to Lilly and the catóhe skinned the cat very carefully, leaving every claw on it and treated it with some chemical. He boiled the carcass in the wash kettle until he could get every bone out, packaged it and mailed it to be mounted.
He was from Mer Rouge. He had been married two or three times. He would not stay with his wife very long. He would go hunting and it might be a year or two before he was heard from. He always sent money, though.
On one occasion, he went into the field to shoot a hawk and was gone a year or two. He went on the bear hunt with Teddy Roosevelt in Tensas Parish.
It did not make any difference what my mother had for supper. Mr. Ben would not eat anything but cornbread and milk. Mother was a good cook, especially of cornbread made with meal ground on the old grist mills run by steam.
I will add a little more about the hunting matches they had back in the 1880ís and 1890ís here in Lismore and at the Bud Glasscock place. They would gather on Saturday evenings with their muzzle loading rifles, cap locks with double set triggers, and refreshments like a two-gallon jug of whiskey. The target would be a blackboard with a one-inch square of white paper on it, at 75 yards.
Dad said a 1200 pound beef was worth about $7.50. Several times, he won the whole beef, then they would shoot for the hide and tallow and he would win that, too.