Biography: Hathaway Jones Stories

Hathaway and the Balky Mule

I swam a river with my mule one fall to go hunting in one of my favorite spots. I must have picked a good day because I bagged two five point bucks within an hour. I just got them cleaned up when I heard a noise. I turned around and looked at the business end of the biggest black bear I had ever seen. I just had time to get off one shot but that did it. I cleaned him up to take home for jerky meat. I loaded the two five points on the mule without any trouble, but when I tried to load the big bear the mule just wouldn’t have no part of it. I went ahead and packed the bear myself and let the mule pack the two deer. Then we came to the river and the mule balked again. She just would not go into the water with those deer on her back. I told her she could stay there as far as I was concerned and I tied the two deer to the back of the bear and then kind of got inside the bear so that all three of them were on my back. I eased into the river and headed across. Right away I started having trouble. I was lower than I had figured I would be and I was having trouble keeping my nose above water so I could breath. I just kept swimming as hard as I could and I somehow I made it to the other side. Then I saw the problem. That mule had somehow crawled up on top of those two deer.

Hathaway and the Big Snake

The biggest snake I ever saw was about two miles from my cabin. I was heading home and noticed that a tree had fallen across the trail. I made a note to come back and cut it out to clear the trail. I jumped up on the tree and it moved. It was a rattlesnake. He didn’t take kindly to me standing on his back and I didn’t stay long. I headed for the cabin as fast as I could go and that snake was right behind me. I could hear him following me and I knew he was trying to get close enough to strike. I made it to the top of the clearing and then down to the cabin. I opened the door, dove inside and closed the door, all in one motion, just as he struck. His fangs came right through the cabin door. I took a big hammer and bent them over. That really made him mad. He tried to get them out and pulled so hard he pulled my cabin right off of the rock foundation. When he started crawling backwards, I went out the window. I sat there watching my cabin going up towards the top of the prairie. Finally the snake backed between to big Ponderosa pines and the cabin wouldn’t fit through. That snake was really mad and he pulled and pulled and pulled until he pulled his fangs out and left them in the door. He crawled away and I hitched up the mules and drug my cabin back down to the bottom of the meadow and finally got it back on the foundation. I chopped them fangs out of my front door and gave one to Charlie King and he made a pick out of it and mined with it for four or five years. I kept the other around the house for weeding the garden.

I knew there was one bigger snake around because I heard some squirrels chirping one day and snuck up on them. They were on a pond and were sitting on some chips holding their tails up to catch the wind and they were racing. When they left I looked at one of the chips they was riding on. It was about the size of a large plate. It was a scale off of a rattlesnake. I never saw that snake but he must have been a big one.

Hathaway and the Bradley Boys

Best eyesight I ever seen belonged to the Bradley boys. Their folks had a ranch along the river and I would stop there from time to time on my trips. One day the mail was really late getting in and I was still on the trail when it got dark. I could see pretty good myself until we got to black forest. The trees are so thick that it gets pitch dark in there at night, even with a pretty good moon. I wasn’t too concerned though, because I would just hang the reins over the saddle horn and let the mule follow the trail. Well this time, we were darned near in the middle of the dark forest when the mule stopped cold. I knew something was wrong when she did that. I reached in my pocket and got out a match and lit it. When it is that dark a match will light up large area and I saw right away why my mule had stopped. Sitting on a log right next to the trail was the Bradley boys, reading a Sear and Roebuck Catalogue.

Hathaway and the Long Shot

I prefer long shots myself. One hunting season I went to one of my favorite spots and sat down and looked across Deep Canyon to the old Rankin homestead. There was a pretty fair orchard there and the deer used to come for the apples in the late fall. I didn’t see any bucks in the orchard but I did spot one at the upper end of the meadow. He was a big one too. I watched him for a while and noticed that he was feeding towards the bottom of the meadow where the orchard was located. I studied him for about 10 minutes and noticed the route he was takin’. It was a long ways across Deep Canyon so I had to do some calculatin’. I know’d how long it would take for the bullet to get across the canyon and I figured that old buck would be right under the first apple tree when the bullet got there. So that’s where I had to aim. It was so far across that canyon that I had to point my rifle darned near straight up. I shot and then I headed down to the bottom of Deep Canyon and then I climbed up the other side. When I got to the bottom of the meadow I could see the buck right where I figured he would be, under that apple tree. But he was still feeding. I was trying to figure out where I had miscalculated when all of a sudden, whack, the bullet arrived and down went the buck. That was one of the longest shots I ever made. Too many of them can ruin a good rifle.

Hathaway and the Poisonous Snake

One fall I hitched the mules up to my wagon, threw in my cross cut saw, wedge and maul and headed to Indigo to cut a load of fire wood. Just as I was pulling into the prairies I heard a noise that I didn’t like. It was a rattlesnake and he was close. I stopped the team and listened real good. I could tell by listening to the rattles when the snake was goin’ to strike. I waited until just the right moment and then pulled back hard on the reins and them mules reared right up and the snake struck right under the lead mule and nailed the wagon tongue. I jumped down and unhitched the mules as fast as I could and then got my cross cut out of the wagon and started sawing on the wagon tongue. It was swelling really fast. The sweat was really running. I got ‘er sawed off just in time to save the wagon. I chopped down a Cedar pole and made a new wagon tongue. Then I sawed the old swelled up wagon tongue in blocks and worked it up. It took me three trips to get all the wood out of there. Got most of my winter wood supply out of that one wagon tongue. I don’t know where them Indigo snakes get all their poison.

Hathaway and the Preacher

I built the fireplace in my cabin. Took me quite a while to find just the rocks I needed but when I was finished it drew like no other fireplace around. I used to stack my firewood on the porch just outside the front door and when I needed some wood I would open up the chimney flu and crack the front door a bit. That fireplace would suck the wood in right off the front porch. I’d shut the door when I had enough. One day my wife had a tea social for all the ladies and invited the new preacher. He was really a ladies man and they all flocked around him. They were having tea outside on the front porch and he was talking and they were goggle eyed and listening to every word. I went around behind and came into the cabin through the back door. I opened the chimney flu. Then I cracked the front door just a little. The draft sucked the toupee right off of his head. The ladies all put their hands over their mouths and he got up and left. He move the next day and never came back.