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William K. and Wild Turkey

W.K. was awakened one early morning in his Texas wilderness home by the gobble of a wild turkey. Turkey, always being a welcome addition to his large family's larder, he arose, donned his buckskins and began loading his flintlock rifle with birdshot, when his frontiersman's instinct told him to be cautious. This could be a Commanche Indian trick to lure him out of the stockade to within bow shot. Pouring a larger powder charge down the barrel, he rammed down instead a heavy fifty-caliber lead rifle ball.

For situations such as this, W.K. had a special secret arrangement, a hidden tunnel going under the compound wall where a ravine skirted the log perimeter of the palisade. The opening of the tunnel was covered by a large rock and completely hidden by brush. Billy went out through the tunnel, rolled away the rock, and crouching low, cat-footed down the ravine to a vantage point where he could observe through the brush without being seen from without. He had not waited long when a war-painted and feathered Commanche leaped up from a large hollow stump and gave the "wild turkey" call.

Billy's blue eyes gazed down the long rifle barrel as he lined the sights of the big fifty caliber gun at the spot where the warrior had popped up. As the rifle sights held rock steady he ticked off in his mind the seconds of the Indian's timing. When the doomed Red Man jumped up for his next call, the gobble died in his throat with the rending thud of the big lead ball, dropping his lifeless body back down into the stump.

Instantly, another war-bedecked brave leaped up from a hiding place in the brush and took off running like a deer, chanting a death song as he ran. But he was in luck or his medicine was good, for big Billy could not get through the ritual of reloading the flintlock rifle soon enough to prevent his escape. This fellow would probably try again to get him, thought Billy. Living in the Texas wilderness of that day was a hard, uncompromising life. W.K. always befriended Indians when he could, even taking in sick ones to nurse back to health. He never harmed or killed any Indian unless he was attacked. But the Commanches and Apaches were ferocious and implacable foes, determined to drive the white-eyes from the plains, and they never gave up trying to do it.

Another dangerous skirmish with the Indians occurred while the family was living in Palo Pinto County. This time, W.K. fled for his life and barely escaped.

This story was written by Bill Stubblefield.