Once again, we welcome another tale from my grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, of his days in South Texas circa 1914.
I was 34 years of age, Just 46 years ago; and I was at that time Supt. of the Asherton School, in Dimmitt Co.; near the NUECES River; and the BERMUDA Dam was built across the Nueces River; And the overflow was turned into a SLOUGH; and that caused the Slough to become the main run of the stream; and it was several miles till the two runs were united in to the new channel; and during that run; there was a space of a few hundred feet to several hundred feet; between their runs.
Now the old run of the river never got much water except during an overflow of the river; But when it did get a FILL; it held it for a long time.
And as it had several big, and deep holes in it; Therefore It held good fishing for a great length of time; And as the water stood for a long time; at every place that the water stood for so long; there were big patches of Switch cane growed up and in many of these places; it was very dense; and sometimes they were of a great height; But not as high as I was used to back in East Texas; where it grew as high as 20 feet; and could be used for fishing Poles; But it grew here in the place that I am telling you of to at most 6 feet.
And as Supt. of the school; and in the absence of a leader for the Boys; I became the Supervisor of the games and all activities of the high school; And as such I was their Idol as far as that was concerned; and upon one occasion; I was asked to accompany one of the boys on a rabbit hunt on a Saturday; and when I had considered whatever I was expected to do on that Day; I consented to go with him:— You see he was under contract to furnish as many Rabbits For the man that came out each Saturday to gather whatever the Boys had to offer; and at the time he was paying 5 cents each for the rabbits; and at that it was a very good venture; for they would buy Cartridges for a 22 caliber rifle for a few cents per hundred; and then you could buy the shells for a 12 gauge shot gun for 45 cents for a box of 25; So if a person was a good shot; he was liable to make a plenty for his time and expenses; And the sport throwed in, and that was it.
Well he called for me early at the House; and I was ready; and we made off to the Bermuda Dam; and I was glad to go out there; For upon my first Visit there; in April of that year; I visited the place on an April 21st celebration, to a Picnic and a political rally; and I had enjoyed it very much; for I saw many of the folks that I went to school with; and I enjoyed that as well as the scenery; for it was a beautiful place; surrounded with many shade trees; and much growth that I was not used to seeing.
So we were there in a little while; and upon an understanding of our plans we started out to get whatever there was in store for us; And it seemed to us that there were better prospects for us to follow the old run of the river; as there were so much better foliage there than anywhere else; And when we started that morning we divided; and he took the OUTside of the river (I mean the side of the river from the river bottom); and that was the bluff side where the river was the deepest; and at the bands of the river where the bend of the river made is so; and as we went on from one of these to another we had plenty of switch cane to furnish hiding places for the rabbits; and as we had had fine luck; we came to the biggest Patch that we had had; It must have been 250 feet broad, and probably 250 yards long, and the cane was probably 6 feet tall; and wa so very dense that we could see but little way into the cane brake; but ever now and then a rabbit would run out and we would always bring him down; and in this place the bluff side of the place was several feet higher than the side that I was on; and I could not see the boy on the bluff side only as I stopped and looked intently; But all of a sudden I heard his rifle bark; and; and almost simultaneously the Boy’s voice said, “Look out, Professor, A PANTHER is going your way to see you.”
That alarmed me for I had to change my ammunition; But in a flash I had transferred my BUCK-SHOT in to the gun; And as I had just finished the transfer; The Panther was at my very toes; and I just turned the whole charge right into his face; But when we learned for certain It all went into his nose; And he just reared himself up right in my face, But he was so blinded by the shot, in his face that he didn’t see me I know; And he turned to face the other side if the Thicket; I shouted to the BOY that was on the other side that he was going to have HIM again; and he started to Pumping it into HIM as soon as he could get a glance of him; and he used all that ammunition that he had in that HIGH POWERED rifle; and when it was exhausted; The Panther was at his feet; and was going strong; But he grabbed his 45 from the holster; and with one shot through the top of his head with that deadly weapon, he was stilled forever; And we had been saved from a very deadly, Vicious animal. Then we began an investigation of what had been done from all the shots that had been fired at him; and we found a dozen rounds from the 22 caliber gun and one from the 45 Colts; and that is where we learned that the whole load that I fired went into HIS nose; and that is the load that saved me from his fierceness; And when we had measured HIM, we found that he measured 11 feet from the end of his nose to the tip of his tail. Now how is that for a size of the animal; and also for a thrill; as well as for a scare for a man that had never seen an animal like that, not in captivity; That was the biggest thrill; as well as the greatest scare that I had ever had.
Many has asked us why didn’t I have his hide stuffed, and Keep it; But I must remind you that it was not my kill; and the boy wanted to keep it for the same purpose; as he had never had such an experience as that before.
I had been in several hunts when there were several good Heads of horns; Of bucks with as many points as 16, and they offered me for mounting; but I didn’t want them for I had not killed them; and I didn’t care to preserve some one’s trophy; that I had not deserved; Now I would have been more than Glad to have had it mounted if it had been my victory over it.