Thu, Nov. 21

VERDE HERITAGE 1916: "My Hunting Experience"

"In the fall of 1916 my daddy, sister and I loaded the old wagon with hay and grain for the horses and plenty of food for ourselves. We headed for the mountains 50 miles away, taking 2 days to make the trip. We left several days early to make camp near the McDonald Sawmill prior to the opening of the hunting season."

"After arriving we cut poles to make a corral for the horses to keep them during the night, staking them out to feed during the day."

"First day of the hunting season we were up bright and early, cooked our breakfast over the camp fire, and prepared a sandwich for each to take. To make going easier, no water was taken as there were numerous mountain springs in the hunting area to supply our needs."

"My sister, Mae, and I wore light jackets and each carried a 30-30 rifle, and daddy a 30-40. Around 10 a.m. naturally we girls were hungry, so the first spring we came to daddy suggested that 'We should eat our sandwiches, take a good drink of water, then we will split up. Mae, you go around the mountain on one side, I will go on the other side, and Maudie (that's me), you climb over the top and we will meet on the other side. Now, girls, take it real slow and be quiet. If you even step on a twig it will snap and deer will hear it and slip away." So off we go, each in a different direction."

"It was a beautiful day in late October --- sky so blue and from the side of Jones' Butte you could see for miles and miles the smoke from the stack at the copper smelter in Clarkdale, and to the south the long Verde Valley along the winding Verde River. The only sounds were the whispering of the tall pines in the breeze, and occasionally the call of a blue jay or crow."

"When the sun had reached almost straight overhead, I finally reached the top and started down the other side of the mountain, stopping to listen as I was wondering why I had not seen my daddy and sister, Mae."

"I heard a shot and called out real loud and no answer, only the echo of my own voice. Then another shot which I answered with a shot of my own. Shortly I heard the high-pitched squeal of sister, Mae, who had a way of squealing a real high-pitched tone. Again and again I would call out each time, but after a while all was quiet. I did not want to shoot any more as I wanted to conserve my supply of ammunition for protection."

"I climbed back up the side of Jones' Butte and could see the smoke from the copper smelter and went back down. I must have been walking in circles, as each time I climbed the mountain I would see the smoke from the smelter."

"As the sun had reached the western horizon, darkness was not far behind. I began to prepare for the forthcoming night. I carried pine needles and made me a bed in a pine thicket, hoping I could keep warm as I did not have any matches to build a fire, and only a light jacket for protection from the cold night mountain air."

"The heavens were beautiful after dark; so many stars, and the howling of coyotes in the distance did not bother me as I had heard them many, many times and did not feel afraid."

"Next morning when I awoke it was good daylight. I got up and was so stiff from getting cold I jumped up and down clapping my hands and swinging my arms. I warmed up a bit."

"I climbed the mountain again --- same old story --- could see smoke, and going back down to the valley I could not tell which direction to go. After a few times like that I decided it was no use, so I started looking ahead at a certain tree and walking to it and then picking another and walking to it."

"Suddenly I was on the brink of a deep canyon, and the more I looked at the large boulders and high cliffs, I decided that I would not try to cross it. I turned back and came to a level valley and realized that I was terribly thirsty and hungry. Sometime in the past I had heard that putting small pebbles in your mouth would help relieve the discomfort of being thirsty. I found a few smooth stones and kept them in my mouth all day."

"By this time I had given up finding my way back to camp, and feeling sure my daddy would find me, I decided to stay put. Finding 2 big pine logs lying close together, I carried pine needles, load after load, making me a good bed."

"To pass the time away I leveled off a place and built a make-believe cattle ranch, including cabin, barn and corrals, using small dried limbs for logs. For cattle small rocks were used, and somewhat larger ones for horses. Playing in the warm sun I got sleepy and looked at the sun and guessed by its position in the sky to be around 2:30 or 3 p.m. I climbed over the logs into my pine needle bed, laying my rifle beside me, and fell asleep in a very short time."

"Late in the night I was awakened by someone whistling and humming a tune. I listened --- yes, it was somebody as I could see the small flicker of flames. I raised up in my bed and saw a man building a fire."

"I called, 'Daddy?' and the man said, 'Is that you, Maudie?' I answered, 'Yes, I am coming up to your fire. Who are you?' He answered, 'I am Cleve Cox, but you wait right there. Do you have a gun?' I answered, 'Yes.' Then he asked, 'Do you have shells in it?'"

"On answering 'Yes,' he requested that I unload the rifle, which I did, putting the shells in my pockets as I was wearing overalls. Again I asked to come to the fire, and I was told 'No --- you wait. Will it scare you if I shoot 3 times to signal my partners?' On answering 'No,' he fired 3 shots and was answered by the same signal. In a short while 2 men on horseback joined the first man and they talked for a few minutes and they separated, each going a different direction."

"I began to wonder why they would not let me come to the fire and was shaken from my thought on seeing them on their horses approaching my pine needle bed from 3 directions. I later learned that they were afraid I would try to run away."

"Cleve Cox dismounted and helped me out of my bed and up into the saddle, leading his horse and carrying my rifle, took me to the fire, and we were joined by Len Maxwell and Walt McDonald, the 2 men who answered the 3-shot signal. On being asked if I was afraid, I told them 'No,' as I knew daddy would find me. I told them I was thirsty and hungry and was given a few sips of water by McDonald from his canteen. It really tasted good."

"We then headed for the sawmill several miles away. I was seated behind the saddle of Cleve Cox, happy in the thought of being taken to my daddy and sister. It was breaking day fast and by the time we reached the sawmill the sun was peeping over the hills."

"It was a happy reunion between daddy, sister and myself. They were so glad I had not fallen or hurt myself in any way. The sawmill gang were elated that they had found me, and everybody was asking questions about my 2 days and nights in the pine country under the stars."

"During the interview Mrs. Granny McDonald was cooking breakfast and the bacon and eggs and hot biscuits smelled so good. Along with homemade apple jelly, it was the best breakfast I ever ate."

"As we were finishing breakfast, in rode 26 cowboys from the Apache Maid Cattle Ranch seeking directions as to where to look for the lost girl hunter, who had just finished her first meal in 2 days, thanks to the men who had searched the mountains for so many hours."

"After a short rest we loaded our wagon and headed for home on the farm in the Verde Valley. No deer meat, but thankful that we were untied again and none the worse for our hunting trip in the mountains."

"Editor's Note: Mrs. Dickinson read this short story at the Pioneer Picnic last Sunday."

(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, September 19, 1974; "Those Were The Days" by Margaret Goddard, Camp Verde Historical Society; page 18.)

The daughters of William Fredrick Cobert are believed to be Maude Evelyn Cobert (born in New Mexico on January 19, 1902) and Mae Ethelyn Cobert. Maude Evelyn Cobert married George Arthur Dickinson, and Mae Ethelyn Cobert married Oscar Ellis York. They lived in the Clemenceau, Clarkdale, and Cottonwood areas.

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