Back in the Day: Hunting club once popular in Carmel

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This 1914 photograph shows members of the Carmel Hunting Club waiting for a train traveling north to better hunting grounds. Identified members include Nick Stuterman Cook, Austin H. Sheets, Henry Roberts, John Graves, Fred Jeffries and W. Johnson. (Photo courtesy of the Carmel Clay Historical Society)

This 1914 photograph shows members of the Carmel Hunting Club waiting for a train traveling north to better hunting grounds. Identified members include Nick Stuterman Cook, Austin H. Sheets, Henry Roberts, John Graves, Fred Jeffries and W. Johnson. (Photo courtesy of the Carmel Clay Historical Society)

By Terri Horvath

Long ago, buffalos roamed around Carmel. Wolves once howled, and all kinds of game animals made their homes near the White River. Plentiful game meant that the early pioneers had lots of opportunities to provide meat for their table.

As the land was cleared for agricultural purposes, however, these animals left the area in search of better habitats. Finding game wasn’t as easy as it once had been. Plus, the area for hunting was further restricted by landowners who would padlock large tracts of their property to prevent trespassing.

The result led to the growing popularity of hunting clubs in the early 1900s, such as the one established in Carmel. Membership offered sportsmen greater opportunities to find areas that allowed hunting. By 1920, the club was still active.

One newspaper account tells an account of one of Fred W. Johnson’s excursions. While alone in the forest in Ontario, Canada, Johnson broke a buckle on his suspenders. He sat on a log to repair it and laid aside his rifle. He heard a growl and looked up. A bear was standing on his hind legs about 50 feet away. The reason for the outcome is unclear, but both the bear and Johnson survived unscathed. Sometimes the stories brought back from the excursions were better than the game caught.

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