Wild animals were very plenty, and every man was necessarily provided with a dog and gun; and most of the meat on which the pioneers subsisted was obtained from the wild animals of the forest. Deer, bear, wolves, turkeys, and other animals were common game in these days. The howling of the wolves made the night hideous, and it was with difficulty that the sheep and other domestic animals could be kept from being devoured by them.
The Pioneers were compelled then to keep a few sheep to provide wool for for clothing, and for the purpose of keeping them from the wolves, a high, closely-built pin had to be built in which, after being herded by the boys during the day, they were secured fastened at night. Many of the settlers were unable to provide enclosures for their stock, and were compelled to turn them loose in the forest to feed, first having put bells on them.
William Davis relates that at one time he had so turned his horses out, and Desiring to do some ploughing he started to find his horse, and following the sound of a bell he found the mother of a young colt fighting five wolves that were tearing the colt to pieces. He procured one of the other horses and went immediately for his gun and dog, and when he returned the dog made an attack on the wolves, but was soon overpowered and return beaten to his master; as the wolves followed the dog, Mr. Davis killed one of them, and secured the hide and scalp, for which he afterwards received $7.
Very often whole flocks of sheep or destroyed by the wolves, thus causing early settlers no little annoyance and serious loss.
Bears were also very destructive to the swine that the owners were compelled to allowed to run in the woods to procure their own feed upon which they were fattened. The sagacious brute after seizing its prey seem to anticipate pursuit for his theft, and would seek some place where he would have a commanding view of his surroundings.
One favorite place for one of the animals was on the roots of a tree in the vicinity of the Davis Farm, where he would carry his victim and where the well-picked bones would afterward be found.
The Bears when killed, as they often were, furnished meet if young, and if they were somewhat old they would be rendered to oil for the lamps.
Deer were very plentiful in the fall, and the settlers killed very many of them for their venison and from their hides manufactured their own clothing. The dressing of the hide was done by soaking it in a brine made by the brains of the animal and warm water. The hair was removed by rubbing it with a kind of knife, after which the hide was allowed to remain in the brain water for some time, then taken out, stretched, pulled, and rubbed until it assumed the desired state ready for manufacturing into pants, jackets, etc., the common article of clothing for early settlers.
Wild turkeys were more common than any game except squirrels, and the boys were compelled to keep watch over the buckwheat patches to prevent the wild turkeys from destroying the grain. When it is remembered that if the buckwheat crop was a failure Pittsburgh was the nearest market where grain could be bought, and that, with the scarcity of money, made the watch over the growing crops a very necessary precaution, upon which depended the very common pioneer article of diet, the old-time buckwheat cakes.
Wild Animals in Bazetta Township
The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, 1882