Holt Collier’s hunting reputation has achieved heroic proportions. His circle of friends includes governors, generals, senators. But along with the railroads to whom Collier has supplied bear meat comes the clearcutting of the region’s virgin forests and subsequent decimation of bear populations. But it’s when Collier transitions from market hunter to bear guide that he garners the attention of the most famous big game hunter in America.  What was the most perilous event during Collier’s bear hunting career? Why did President Teddy Roosevelt come to hunt bears with Holt Collier in the Mississippi Delta, and what events transpired to make it one of the most heavily sensationalized media events of the year? What was the relationship among Roosevelt, President of the United States, and Collier, former slave and bear guide? What became of the world and the lifestyle that Collier knew? Ramsey joins Minor F. Buchanan, author of Holt Collier: His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts, and the Origin of the Teddy Bear, and Mississippi Delta storyteller Hank Burdine, for the finale of this incredible 2-part story about a people, time and place forever lost.

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Holt Collier, Legendary Mississippi Bear Hunter (Part 2)


Money don’t buy nothing in the canebrake, no how. And a man’s dog does not care whether he’s rich or poor. – Holt Collier


Ramsey Russell with Minor F Buchanan
Minor F. Buchanan and Ramsey Russell continue discussing legendary Mississippi bear hunter Holt Collier, President Roosevelt’s infamous bear hunt in the Mississippi Delta, and the origins of the teddy bear in this episode of Duck Season Somewhere podcast.

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere podcast as we continue the story of turn-of-the-century Mississippi bear hunter Holt Collier. [refer to Holt Collier, Legendary Mississippi Bear Hunter, Part 1]. Joining me today are Minor F. Buchanan and Hank Burdine. I just got to say this again. Money don’t buy nothing in the canebrake, no how! And a man’s dog does not care whether he’s rich or poor. Where did that come from, Minor?

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, Holt was, as I said before Holt made a lot of money in the wintertime during the hunting season and he’s often quoted as having $1,000 in his possession. There was one time he had mentioned that he had over $2,000 in his possession. And this is more money than even the plantation owners were making during this period of time. And as the years went by, he was highly undisciplined when it came to spending his money. Probably very generous, but we know that he would in the springtime would get on a train and he would follow the fares. He would go into Texas, he would go to Louisiana, to Florida, we know, and I suspect up into Kentucky and found the old trail that he and Kyle Hands had taken in when he was a child. But the problem was he would spend it all, every penny he had made. He would, there was one occasion when his brother Marshall had to wire money so he could afford a train ticket home. As the years went by, and the deer population and the bear population declined. Some of his friends said, Holt you need to save some money, you need to start respecting money a little bit more. That’s when that quote came from. “You can’t spend money in Canebrake and your dog doesn’t know whether you are rich or poor.” Well as luck would have it before it got too late, he did buy a lot in Greenville, Mississippi, and built a house on it and the house is still standing. 

Ramsey Russell: He’d bought a house and brought some dogs he’d play, I know that.

Minor F. Buchanan: It is! And one thing about it is, if you stand in front of this house, and you look at the neighborhood, the neighborhood full of one-story house and this is a two-story house. And it’s two stories because Holt was one of the old denizens of the Delta. He saw the yearly floods, and he knew I don’t care how big that levee is out there. This water’s coming back in. So, in that 1927 flood, Holt Collier lived in the second floor of his house while all of his neighbors lived up on the levee.

Hank Burdine: There’s an old story that the Metcalfe brothers owned big chunk of the commercial National Bank day in Greenville. And they want a way back at Newstead Planation. One day they stopped by Holt’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, Minor. On it whole day, overnight and then would do little bootlegging on the side and Holt didn’t drink whiskey but he bootlegged a little bit on the side. Metcalfe brothers stopped by that evening for a little nip on the way home. And while they were there, Metcalfe noticed that there was a new shake shingle roof on his house. And Mr. Metcalfe went over and asked him and said, Holt you got a new roof on this house? Yes, I’ve got brand new roof. Where did you get money for that roof? He said I went down your bank and I borrowed that money. He said, you got another one of them shingles? Holt brought a shingle in there and as the story goes, Mr. Metcalfe wrote a note on that shingle pane. He said dropped this in about a bank on your way make to town. 

Minor F. Buchanan:  That shingle was arrived while I recall that shingle was the source of the story. It survived for a long time. I don’t know where it is now. But it was a conversation piece for the longest time you got and at that point in time we’re talking about an older Holt. He was an elderly man at that point.

Ramsey Russell: Well, back in his younger days now Holt remembering back. He was hunting bears in the canebrake he almost died, in a hollow log and his reputation had reached heroic proportions – 125 bears a season totaling 2,100 that he kept in a book like a hunting journal until house burned down.

Minor F. Buchanan: His brother Marshall’s house burned down.

Ramsey Russell: His circle of friends based a lot on his upbringings, his service and especially around the celebrated sport of bear hunting, and it was huge sport back in the day of bear hunting. He rubbed elbows with governors, senators, general, the wealthy, planners and their children. I mean, he was in the top circles of social society at that time, because of bear hunting. Is that right?

Minor F. Buchanan: He was, I think he knew it. It got larger every year. Really probably it was just a living for him. In the earlier years, but as the bear population was denuded in the Delta, they got a little bit harder to find them. Holt knew of course how to find them. Then he couldn’t kill 125.  When we get into the 1890s, 1895’s, that kind of thing, they were just limited number bear at that point. They’d had people come down from Chicago and hire him. So, he became a guide and made good money doing that. He had a reputation for putting on very successful hunts and of course culminated in the most famous hunt ever take place on American soil. 

Ramsey Russell: Let’s just not go there yet but we are getting there. First, I want to back up and along with his celebrity, he had also become a deputy sheriff.

Minor F. Buchanan:  He was. He was deputized quite often. This would have been during and after reconstruction. As these folks knew, law enforcement knew that Holt didn’t back down to anybody he was good with a gun and he guarded prisoners and that kind of thing. I like to tell the story about Travis Elmore Sage. In 1868, Holt had been told by the sheriff to be on the lookout for an outlaw in Louisiana named Travis Elmore says he’d killed in cold blood, two very prominent people in Tensas Parish, and he was thought to be hanging out in the Mississippi Delta woods. Holt just happened to be going out to start his yearly hunt and he had a wagon full of supplies and he was leaving Greenville. He got to a place called Washburn’s Ferry on the Bogue Phalia River which is really just a stream. But this guy named Washburn had a ferry there and there was a porch on the ferry and there’s a man sitting on a horse talking to Mr. Washburn standing on the porch. This fellow fits the description of Travis Elmore Sage and so Holt walks up to him and wants to disarm him. Well, he doesn’t walk up to him, say you’re under arrest and point a gun at him thing, okay? He says, Man, that’s a fine-looking rifle you got! Do you mind if I look at it?  So, he takes and he’s looking at it, later he sets it on the porch, pulls his handgun out and says you’re under arrest. You’re Travis Elmore Sage! Then Washburn takes the rifle and passes it back to Travis Elmore Sage who’s sitting on his horse and Sage gets the rifle and cocks it and bringing it down to point it at Holt and it hits the horse with the barrel. The muzzle hits the horse right between the ears. Now that’s a very sensitive spot on a horse. The horse flinches just enough and Holt can get a bead on Sage and he shoots him. So, I call this the gunfight at Washburn Ferry. Travis Elmore Sage has a cocked rifle pointing at Holt and Holt gets the first round off course dead shot, right the heart shot, man hits the ground, and he’s dead when he hits the ground with a cocked rifle in his hand. They have a coroner’s inquest. And of course, Holt found not to be guilty of anything that he’s never tried, never charged with anything. So that’s the second white man that Holt killed during his period of time that we know about. The story of Travis Elmore Sage and the two men that he killed over in Tensaw Parish, is a story unto itself.

Ramsey Russell: It was like you said, during this time period we’re talking about the late 1800s, the railroads, to whom he sold bear meat to feed their labors. And they were so affected with the loggers and everything else, it started to just absolutely wreck that vast track wilderness that the bears lived and thrived in. So, we did transition from market hunting to the guide. I remember a reference to this time about the Metcalfe brothers that Hank was talking about, what can be said about them and their influence or their relationship to help.

Hank Burdine: Oh, they were big Delta planners up north Greenville. Bank and big tracts of agriculture. Like I said they hunted. Back in old days when they were growing up, we still had a lot of woods around and they hunted around there. But as William Faulkner said that by this time, within two generations, the Mississippi Delta was de-rivered, de-swamped and de-nuded. All of the high ground up and upper part of the Delta had been cleared. In the South Delta, that’s where the river would still float and creep back up between the levees down there. That’s where the woods, the last of the Big Woods were down there in the South Delta. The Metcalfes had become such close friends with Holt Collier that Holt considered them like brothers, I believe. I mean, they would go off hunting, take on two, three weeks at a time being together, camping together, eating together, hunting together and they were just very close friends and of course with the family also and then it was just a camaraderie that was, they would rarely seen in those days, but it was and its Holt Collier right in the middle of it.

Ramsey Russell:  And you were telling me earlier Minor, it was in their likeness that Faulkner probably fashioned the Mccaslins in the book “The Bear”.

Minor F. Buchanan: I don’t think there’s any question about it. Holt Collier died in 1936. And with his death, the likeness of his story was retold. Many newspapers article, his obituary was almost a full page, front page of the Greenville newspaper and William Faulkner’s second home was Greenville, Mississippi. He lived in Oxford they spent a lot of time.

Ramsey Russell: Spent a lot of time with Ben Watson. He was his college roommate and one of his agents. And he and Ben Watson were so close.

Minor F. Buchanan: Holt Collier doing his, he died at age 90 in 1936. But he was legend on the streets of Greenville in his old age. Many, many articles read about seeing Holt Collier walking down the street still wearing his confederate hat, which he wore all his life with a turned up in the front carrying a six shooter in just picture this 1832 walking down the streets of Greenville armed. But he was you know, people looking at Holt Collier carry a gun it wasn’t any big deal, he was well-respected by everybody.

Hank Burdine: The confederate cap wasn’t like a cap you think of a confederate cap, it was a cowboy hat. And if you’ve ever ridden a horse at breakneck speed, you know the first thing going to happen, to believe that cowboy hat is going to flap straight up. Well, that was the signature of the Ninth Texas cavalry, worn like that all the time.

Minor F. Buchanan:  If you read the regimental histories of the Ninth Texas cavalry. That is the hat they wore is that it was turned up in the front. I think there was no Walt Disney movie made that would had depicted that.

Ramsey Russell:  Kind of like Yosemite Sam.

Minor F. Buchanan: Kind of like Yosemite Sam. But so, Holt dies 1936. He’s well known as a character of Greenville seen on the streets. William Faulkner is known to be in Greenville, weeks and months at a time during this period of time. So, all this retelling of whole story that takes place from 1936 and 19th. The Bear comes out I can’t remember was 1938 or 1939. There’s no question in my mind that William Faulkner, who is known to use real characters to fashion and create his fictional characters. The Metcalfes were the McCaslins, and Sam Fathers was Holt Collier, and the hunt with a 10-year-old boy.

Ramsey Russell:  As it is probably their son or probably one of their sons

Minor F. Buchanan: It’s actually I got a picture I saw like the real event.

Ramsey Russell: Shot at 300-pound bear!

Minor F. Buchanan: Right! And that’s the last known actual documented bear kill in a hunt, in which Holt Collier was associated, that I’m aware of.


Teddy Roosevelt’s Mississippi Bear Hunt


Ramsey Russell:  Let’s back up to 1901. Because this is a heck of a story. It’s the story we all, I grew up hearing, but didn’t fully understand until I read your book. One of the most famous bear hunts maybe on God’s Earth. President Theodore Roosevelt who was a big game hunter of every proportion, a celebrity he knew that the habitat would dwell and that these bears were running out of time because of civilization moving in, and the loss of the big woods. And he wanted to come down to Mississippi and hunt one of those bears. Let’s talk about that.

Minor F. Buchanan:  Well, Theodore Roosevelt was a noted conservationist and hunter. Even before he became world famous as Vice President, President, because he had formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1886. And he is reading all of these, the bear hunting was very popular and it’s being written about. I can’t remember the names of the magazines right offhand, but they were getting wide circulation. He was reading these articles and they were all in the Deep South. I think Mississippi bear hunter Robert Eager Bobo was being written about. I’m not sure Collier being written about.

Hank Burdine: Bobo had been, yeah.

Minor F. Buchanan: But President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to come down south and participate in one of these hunts. And he wanted to participate as in the chase, he didn’t want to be put on a stand. But, through a long process with Stuyvesant Fish. Stuyvesant Fish was the president of the Illinois Central Railroad and he learned about Roosevelt’s desire and he says what we can set it up and so Fish gets in touch with Leroy Percy. Leroy Percy uses his influence get it set up and Collier was sitting on his porch one day and somebody comes out and says, if you can find us a place to hunt Holt, we might, it just might happen that we will have a host of presidential hunt. Well, this was 1902 and the closest bear population Holt could find was 45 miles away in Sharkey County. So it happened. It came to pass that Roosevelt came to Mississippi and got off the train at a little platform, just a platform called Smedes Plantation and it was a little general store there. Roosevelt gets off. You got John Parker. John Parker is an amazing character. He later became governor of Louisiana and later became vice presidential candidate on Bull Moose ticket with Roosevelt in 1916. Roosevelt ultimately withdrew from that campaign. But John Parker was on that hunt. That’s when Theodore Roosevelt meets Holt Collier and it’s pretty good. Roosevelt walks up to Collier and shakes his hand and says, “So you are Holt Collier, The Great Bear Hunter”, with a shine in his teeth and Collier says that story. They proceed to ride by horseback 14 miles due east, not west, due east to the banks of the Little Sunflower River, where Holt has found signs of lots of significant bear activity. They camp out there in a very rustic, rough campsite. Roosevelt is just real overconfident I am going to kill the bear the first thing out. There were several other hunters. Leroy Percy is there, and John Parker is there.

Hank Burdine: McElhaney?

Minor F. Buchanan:  John McElhaney who had a little startup business called Tabasco Sauce. But McElhaney had ridden with Roosevelt and in Cuba. So, McElhaney was there actually at the President’s invitation. They were standing around the campfire, Roosevelt insists on killing a bear the next day. Everybody is on the instructions that Roosevelt gets the first shot.

Ramsey Russell:  Let me just interject here. You know, as this was building up and President is going to come. Obviously, the media went wild. He wanted secrecy and he tried to impress upon his host before he got there. Look, let’s keep it to a minimum. He was there for the hunt. I’m a serious hunter and he said a quote, “in my experience to try to combine a hunt and a picnic, generally means a small picnic and always means this small hunt. I want to hunt and do see that I get the perfect bear.” And you know hunting and all these duck hunters listening, know this is so much more than a dead animal. It’s a social affair based on when you come to the Mississippi Delta and you’re hunting hounds or you’re hunting hogs or you’re hunting bear you’re hunting ducks. It’s a social sport and it bears the word hospitality. I love this quote by Holt Collier saying “Of course. Him being a stranger, we wanted to make sure he killed a bear.” 

Minor F. Buchanan: That’s true.

Ramsey Russell: That is Southern Hospitality.

Hank Burdine: Another thing along that line. The President, there was a lot of press that caught wind of it and came but they weren’t allowed to go. They stayed at Smedes Landing. They also brought a much of protection with the president all the Secret Service and all like that. They stayed, which Smedes Landing. Holt Collier said, he is protected more by me right here in his Mississippi Delta with all the police in Washington DC.

Ramsey Russell: I believe that! Please continue, so they are at Smedes Plantation.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, Smedes Plantation. Well, it is really the general store near a couple of little houses. I say it’s just a platform. But we found a photograph in an attic down in St. Francisville, Louisiana, of President Roosevelt on horse in front of that general store. And right there on the front of that general store is one of these telegraph signs. So, these newsmen were allowed to come out to the campsite 14 miles away for an hour a day, talk to people find out what happened, they go back and they would send in their news story by telegraph. If you want to get the President United States that sometimes wish we had that kind of situation today but these guys were not allowed out there and the campsite was cordoned off by armed black men. This was, it’s worthy of note that this is a period of time in the Deep South politics when things started to change. And there was a guy named James K Vardaman, who was running for governor at the very time this hunt was taking place. And he was a Democrat and he was the headlines were absolutely horrible accusing Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican are trying to come down here and influence the black vote. The stuff that was said by Vardaman and the white politicians across Mississippi Of course, these people that were talking about they were friends with Holt and Leroy Percy was a solid. He was impeccable when it came to racial issues. 

Ramsey Russell:  We can take a sidebar to talk briefly about in Leroy Percy because you know, after the Civil War, a lot of the blacks left and Leroy Percy was such a gentleman. He was appointed to get them back not as slaves but as workers and he actually established the town of Mound Bayou.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, I just point out that there is a very significant political upheaval taking place and around this event. And Vardaman ultimately is elected governor and that is when you start saying some very harsh racial tone come about. But you know, in my research, I really didn’t see it prior to 1902. The matter of fact is one of the Holt’s workers on this hunt is a guy named Swint Pope. He is a black fellow and he is a duly elected justice of the peace in Sharkey County at the time in 1902. Looking at this picture here, Huger Foote was on this office in 1902 presidential hunt. You got him saying EC Mangum, who was one of the owners of the plantation. I think he was also on the board of the Illinois Central Railroad.

Ramsey Russell: And Huger Foote was Shelby Foote’s grandfather.

Minor F. Buchanan: Huger Foote was Shelby Foote’s grandfather. So, you know the circle came around, because I talked to Shelby Foote two or three times back when I was doing the research for this book. Shelby Foote, who actually lived to see the book in print, one of the only person who knew Holt who saw the book. But he told me because he was from Greenville. He said, I remember him as a child. We would drive by his house and see him up on the porch, with all the kids in his old age home with every children in the neighborhood up and he would tell his stories of his life. And Shelby Foote said I’ll drive by but I never went up on that porch, paused and said, of all the regrets I have in my childhood that’s the most significant regret that I never actually met Holt Collier. John Parker as I described Pope, a guy named Jacob Dickinson was on this, at the time he was the general counsel of the Illinois Central Railroad. His story is a good one. He at the age of 14, he was from Columbus, Mississippi. He actually became a runaway and joined the confederacy at the age of 14. And he is the fellow who wrote the article that said, duel in the Canebrake that I described earlier. So, when you ready to hear that how he went on the hunt, let me know.

Ramsey Russell: I do, because now to bring people back that was very interesting. We are between the Big and Little Sunflower rivers east of Smedes stop, which would pretty much be Delta National Forest today.

Hank Burdine: Which is south of Onward, Mississippi, and we talked right in the middle of Delta National Forest.

Ramsey Russell:  Which is, if you look at a map of the Delta today is by far the largest existing hardwood forest in the state of Mississippi right now. So that’s where it is taking place. What happened now?

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, they ride out then and Roosevelt insists on having the first shot. We also have that night around the campfire, you have Leroy Percy, I don’t think Leroy Percy takes part in the hunt. He’s more of a day guest and he comes down there on a frequent basis. He may have even stayed there. But I don’t recall any mention of him actually being a hunter. But the stories of Holt Collier life, dominate the conversation around the campfire and Roosevelt absolutely becomes enthralled with the story of Holt Collier. And he insists on hearing everything and according to everybody else, Roosevelt just won’t leave him alone and becomes enamored with him. Finally, the story comes out about Holt Collier. It was accused of killing James King, a union officer and here’s Leroy Percy standing right beside him. Whose father represented Holt Collier and Theodore Roosevelt insists on knowing what happened. He insists on knowing did you kill James King? I can only imagine the dialogue that took place at that point and Collier said I was told by Mr. Percy’s father never to tell anybody what happened out there in that duel in the Canebrake. But somehow, they convince Holt to tell Theodore Roosevelt, what happened out there when James King was killed. I can only assume what might have been mentioned. I don’t know you can imagine.

Ramsey Russell: Knowing a man that could pardon him was right. 

Minor F. Buchanan: He could had done a lot of mess to him. That’s right. So that’s the only time that Holt ever admitted to killing James King. Again, that’s all the way back in the late night 1860s. So that would have been 35 years previous and the only evidence we have of it is when Jacob Dickinson wrote his article describing that conversation and the telling of that story. Jacob Dickinson actually says something to the effect. This is a significant story in and of itself. I’ll only say for the purposes of this article that it was described as a duel in the Canebrake, and that’s the only thing that survived.

Ramsey Russell:  Several things strike me about this camp. There in a wilderness. A low land Delta wilderness, President of the United States, a lot of dignitaries, Holt’s got his trusted staff of woodsmen and hunters, two different camps. I mean, I read that in the script that all those folks drove here, and they were just a little bit further back. But at night, over cocktails and libations around a campfire. All huddled up together to tell those stories and everybody’s equal. You know, one thing I’ve noticed travelling around the world duck hunting and I’ve said it a million times. I hunted with Pakistani feudal lords, I have hunted with billionaires, and I’ve hunted with poor folks. You put any 4 men on God’s Earth in a duck blind. In that moment, we’re all just duck hunters, we are all the same.

Minor F. Buchanan: That’s a good way of putting it. Nobility is no blessing in the wilderness and you are exactly right. They had the tent set up for the white hunters and a one big, large tent set up. But they mixed and mingled. There was no evidence in all the research that I did of any hierarchy.

Ramsey Russell: Well, in an example, the President of the United States of America insisted that he be addressed as Colonel.

Minor F. Buchanan: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Not as President, but as Colonel.

Hank Burdine: I was given a picture by an old black gentleman named John Johnson. He gave me several pictures that came out with Mr. Wade Hollywell was back there. One of them and I’ve donated them to Mississippi Department Archives and History shows presidential tent. He shows the American flag hanging on, standing on top of that presidential tent. Right next to it is an empty cot. One picture shows a man of sleep on that cot. Whether that’s Roosevelt or not because he leaned facing in the other way. But as the big log, that the belt found another side of sat around and had a little shaving stand there and had the little fold up chairs and all like that. So, it was a true wilderness camp setup, it is what it was. And Holt was so familiar with those woods, and knew the habits of bears so much. Knowing that they weren’t going to do a bear hunt and go running picked a slicked a bear with a knife. He and his guys had gone down there earlier and prepared the campsite areas. So we would be ready when the President got there. They also cut shooting lanes isn’t that correct?

Minor F. Buchanan: That’s right.

Hank Burdine: When Holt told the President where to sit, that he knew which way he could pull that bear bring that bear through there, so that the President would have a clear shot as the bear crossed over one of the shooting lanes.

Minor F. Buchanan: The hunt the next day. Keep in mind this is just the first of two hunts that, Roosevelt and Collier hunted on. The next morning, about eight o’clock, they put Roosevelt and Huger Foote on a log right in front of a slough, a body of water that has yet to dry out and all indications are that there had been significant drought or very limited rainfall. And Collier told, I like to tell the story that Huger Foote was not scheduled to be with Roosevelt on the stand that morning. EC Mangham was scheduled to be on the stand with Roosevelt that morning. He was suffering from something called indisposition which of course he was hung over.

Hank Burdine: From the first night.

Minor F. Buchanan: Yeah, from the night previous. So, they chose Huger Foote. Huger had a reputation of being an excellent shot and a great hunter. So it was a good combination. And Collier left Roosevelt and Huger Foote with instructions to stay right here don’t move any point. On the other side of this slough, this body of water, which we don’t have a good description of but I can just say it’s the size of a large swimming pool. Maybe I don’t know. But on the other side of that slough that body water a large stand of cane. And my father used to call it blue cane out of switch cane, but it grows 20 feet high and their game trails throughout these stands of cane. Right on the other side of the slough is a game hole, a trail where all game comes and gets water. Now they’ve either got to get water out of the slough or they’ve got to go over to the Little Sunflower River to get water. Everything else dried up and that’s what Holt knew. So, Holt was going to get behind a bear and try to lead that bear to that water. He’ll run it ‘till he gets thirsty. It’ll go to the water he had to keep it away from the Little Sunflower because once you quench his thirst, he would go anywhere. So, Collier with this man named John Parker, who would ride with him every bit of the way. He is a scrappy little guy. I admire him immensely. The way he refered and Theodore Roosevelt described as a herd, Holt and his dogs ranged far north to their left and then they go through the woods. I cannot see him but they can hear him barking and tooting horns. It goes down to the far south and went north again and then far south till they almost went out of hearing range and Huger Foote actually suggested, My gosh, he has crossed the Yazoo he’s gotten down to the Yazoo River that’s way down there. Anyway, so they thought Collier will not make it back. It got to be about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and Roosevelt says I’m hungry let’s go get something to eat. Well now Hank can tell you that if you’re a guest and you’re told to stay in the stand you do not abandon your stand on Southern hunt.

Ramsey Russell: You don’t disobey your orders.

Hank Burdine: That’s still the rule.

Ramsey Russell: I guess he did not care even if he is the President of United States.

Hank Burdine: That’s right.

Minor F. Buchanan: That’s still the rule today. Well, Roosevelt and Huger Foote got on their horses and rode back into the camp and got something to eat. Well about the time they leave.

Hank Burdine: Wait. Before you go there. There’s another school of thought, by looking at pictures of Mr. Foote, prior to that hunt and on that hunt earlier. There is a possibility that Mr. Foote maybe have made the suggestion to go back to camp not necessarily for bite to eat before the meal.

Minor F. Buchanan:  So, well that is very possible. It would not be surprised at all knowing Huger Foote, but they get back in the camp. Collier gets that bear turned around and he’s successful in keeping that bear away from the Little Sunflower River. He gets up there close to that slough and he knows what he instinctively knows where he is in the woods. He’s following that bear I am going to guess 100 yards, 150 yards, and he instinctively knows when that bear is supposed to pop up there in that slough and he didn’t hear a shot.

Ramsey Russell:  He later said he could have shot that bear 1000 times.

Minor F. Buchanan: He could have shot that bear 1000 times because he had been so close to it, but he did not hear a shot. He immediately becomes upset, disappointed, angry, whatever you want to call it. But he pops out and the same that he first encounters is the bear in the slough fighting his dogs. Now the bear has now gone into bay.

Ramsey Russell: He had got the upper hand.

Hank Burdine: As he goes to bay, he turned, and he is ready to fight. It’s over, the end, of fight fixing to start.

Minor F. Buchanan: He is tired of these dogs hassling him to harass him. He wants to stop and have a drink of this water. Collier comes out and he looks up to the left and he sees that log in, there’s no Roosevelt anything. So, this bear is starting to kill his dogs. One of the other hunters rides into camp to get Roosevelt and Huger Foote while Collier has to deal with this bear killing his dogs. So, Collier gets off his horse, still on a strong instructions not to shoot the bear. As he said you get to shoot him 100 times. Collier takes his rifle, walks up to the bear who has bent over, hits him over the head.

Hank Burdine: Did he turn Jocko loose by this time?

Minor F. Buchanan:  I’m going to leave Jocko up to you.

Hank Burdine: Okay, all right.

Minor F. Buchanan: I can’t, but hits him over the head with the barrel of his gun and according to Collier the bear then stands up. And Collier is looking straight up at him, as a full head taller than Collier. At this point Collier realized he could not shoot him if he wanted to, because he hit him so hard to barrel is bent. So, he retreats back to his horse. Gets the rope that he had been carrying with him since he was a Texas cowboy, brings it back into the slough. I am going to guess we are knee-deep in water and throws rope over his head and pulls a bear out and tethers him on a willow tree. I leave the story of Jacko to Hank, because it’s not as clear on my mind as it is to Hank. But by the time Collier gets this bear tethered up tight to this willow tree, Roosevelt and Huger Foote come back riding back.

Ramsey Russell: What happened with Jocko, Hank? That little feist dog he carried always.

Hank Burdine: The story that I read and understand to be that during the heat of the moment, Holt Collier was quite perturbed. That the president disobeyed his explicit orders. He was going to bring that bear back in the brake and he brought bear back. When he did that, Roosevelt was not there to take a shot. Well, the bear he was mauling on a big dog, somebody big dog had run in and Holt had to make a split decision. He would not go shoot a bear with a rifle, because he might hit one of them big dogs. He reverted right back to if something had to happen to the bear. He had to go ahead and take the bear by himself. So, at that point in time, he let Jocko out of that bag across the saddle and he was going to kill the bear the way he always killed bears with his knife. Soon as he turned Jocko loose and the bear reached down as Jocko ran in to the water. Now here’s a little 15-pound probably no longer than 14 inches tall with a bear reach down grab Jocko and begin to maul Jocko. Holt’s favorite dog, which I would imagine every night when I go to sleep and think about Holt Collier, that little dog slept with Holt Collier.

Minor F. Buchanan: This is just before he hits him over the head with a barrel and yells bear, let go my dog.

Hank Burdine: Let go my dog, Bear, let go my dog! While he had little Jocko in his grasp and that’s what causes Holt to club his rifle and hit the bear side of its head which basically cracked his skull and stunned the bear. He had already killed little Jocko though.

Minor F. Buchanan: All of this is confirmed by later facts because we have now found the skull and it’s cracked. So, anyway Roosevelt rides up in the scene, as I have described it and Roosevelt says most amazing thing I’ve ever seen complimentary the successful hunt does not matter just kill the bear. But Roosevelt realized to kill a tethered bear would not be un-sportsman like. He knew he had reporters back at the camp and this is the beginning of fair chase era.

Hank Burdine: Which is the beginning of the concept of fair chase.


It’s a wild animal, you give it a fair chase.


Ramsey Russell:  That’s the principle of Boone and Crockett Club.

Minor F. Buchanan: What is the name of their publication? Fair Chase. This is when it started right here with this bear hunt. It’s the most significant demonstration of when it started that I’m aware of. So, Roosevelt refuses to shoot the tethered bear. The bear is ultimately dispatched by Collier. Oh, John Parker, shall I tell this? John Parker wants to kill the bear in the traditional hunter fashion with the knife. So, Roosevelt tosses him a dagger type knife that had been given to him, I told or I read somewhere from the Emperor of Japan and John Parker tried to stab the bear and hits a rib and messes things up some aweful. The bear just becomes even more angry and John Parker backs off and Collier has to put bear out of his misery in the traditional fashion.

Hank Burdine: Now the knives that Holt Collier used. Harley Metcalfe has his great granddad’s bear knife, which is a horse rasp that you use falling down horse’s hooves. Its 16 – 18 inches long fashioned into a knife. I have seen that knife, I have held that knife and I’ve tried to build one just like it, but didn’t do too good job with the handle but the blade is not that bad.

Minor F. Buchanan: The closest you could say it is a Bowie-style. Well, I love to tell the rest of the story that morning because the hunters including Roosevelt continued with the hunt. They go on and they are going, because they hunt anything the bears. But if they can find something else, they can hunt. Collier throws this bear up on the back of his horse and rides into the camp. The three reporters who were there asked, Well, Did the President kill this bear?  He said no, but if he had followed my instructions, he would have. That is the headline that went out across the country from coast to coast, “Overconfident President fails to shoot the bear, because he failed to listen to the instructions of this lowly, uneducated slave.” Holt Collier, he never learned even to sign his name, he never learned to read and write.


Overconfident President fails to shoot the bear, because he failed to listen to the instructions of this lowly, uneducated slave. – Newspaper Headline following President Theodore Roosevelt’s Mississippi Bear Hunt


Ramsey Russell: And one of the greatest statements from Roosevelt on that, based on what you were saying, right there. Roosevelt said he was a man of dignity. You did tell that, give that quote.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, I’ll dig it up. I’ll give to you in a second. But no, I’ll give it to you right now. Because I got it right here. This is in my beginning of the book where I site the description that Faulkner uses to describe Sam’s Fathers. A description that Roosevelt uses to describe Holt Collier and they are very close as a little bit more than what you want to hear. But, “He was a man of 60 and could neither read nor write but he had all the dignity of an African Chief, and for half a century had been a bear hunter having killed or assisted in killing over 3000 bears. He had been born a slave on the Hinds Plantation, his father an old man when he was born, having been the body servant and cook of old General Hinds, as he called him, when the latter falls under Jackson in New Orleans. When 10 years old, Holt had been taken on the horse behind his young master Hinds of that day on a bear hunt when he killed his first bear.” Now that is Theodore Roosevelt, writing about Holt Collier.

Ramsey Russell: And to think of that one statement in there is a man of 60 that could neither read nor write yet had the dignity of an African King. That raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

Minor F. Buchanan: I know this isn’t on the agenda, but listen to the description of William Faulkner describing Sam’s Fathers: “The old man of 70, who had been a Negro slave for two generations now, but whose face and bearing were still those of a Chickasaw Chief, who had been his father. And he was glad he was old. He had no children, no people, none of his blood anywhere above Earth that he could ever meet again. And even if you were to, he could not have touched it spoke to him because for 70 years now, he had to be a Negro. It was almost over now, and he was glad but still the woods would be his mistress and his wife.” Keep in mind, William Faulkner would have had the benefit of Theodore Roosevelt’s writings when he wrote that.

Ramsey Russell: Back on Teddy Roosevelt’s Mississippi bear hunt. Black, white, rich and poor they sat around a campfire, but there is also a story about them having gone up to the slough and dipped their horns into the water together drinking in their full, a puree of dog, mud, blood and bear.


Black, white, rich and poor… them having gone up to the slough and dipped their horns into the water together drinking in their fill, a puree of dog, mud, blood and bear, all held in a solution in water standing eight months.


Minor F. Buchanan: That is a wonderful description. I wish I could find in a book, read it.

Ramsey Russell:  All held in a solution. In water standing eight months. That’s some real men right there.

Hank Burdine: But you got all those man, black and white on their knees, dipping their horn into a muddy swamp.

Ramsey Russell: That bear and dogs and everything just being killed in fight.

Hank Burdine: Puree of dog, mud, blood and bear.

Minor F. Buchanan: That was just as much part of the tradition is killing the bear with the knife on the side opposite from which you’re standing.

Hank Burdine: They were men back then.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yes, they were.

Minor F. Buchanan: I want to let you in on a little secret most people don’t know about those horns. I think I may have told you this, Hank. But do you know how to communicate with one another? Do you know what the significance of the tooting of the horn?

Hank Burdine: They didn’t have cell phones back then?

Ramsey Russell:  No, I know that.

Minor F. Buchanan: One, toot means Where are you? Two toots mean I’m here and three toots means come running. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Hank Burdine: And they all had these horn because that’s how you communicated with your dogs. You get your dogs excited. And then they’d get to squalling and you would work dogs with those dog horns. Well, a lot of times those dog horns were made out of goat horns. Because of the volume, the pitch, the hardness of the sound of a smaller goat horn. One of my good old horn is a goat horn, as opposed to a cow horn that gives a big low mellow bellowing type. But each one of them like Minor said that’s how they communicated.


Origins of the Teddy Bear


teddy roosevelt mississippi bear huntRamsey Russell: The few photos and paintings I’ve seen of Holt Collier. He’s got that horn around his neck. I mean every bit of the huntsman. What happened next? The President, they did shoot, I think several bears and deer. It was a successful hunt in the southern tradition, but Roosevelt did not get his bear. The media was waiting at the train stop, what happened?

Minor F. Buchanan: In the 1902 hunt that killed three bears along with a lot of other stuff. But because of Southern hunt is a communal hunt, everybody thought it was a successful Mississippi bear hunt, except Roosevelt. And Roosevelt wrote about it afterwards, it has been an unsuccessful hunt and he feared that it turned into a picnic. But I think his hosts were a little disappointed at that. But what happened is the story of when Holt Collier rides in these newspaper men see it and that goes out. And to their credit, they talk about Holt Collier almost superhuman terms as having captured this large wild black bear single handedly which of course he did. So, Holt Collier, gets five days of really impressive coverage from the national media. And this is 1902 this is before Jack Johnson became Heavyweight Champion. I like to say Holt Collier, he was the first man of African sportsmen of African descent to get national coverage. A fellow who ultimately became the Ideal Toy Company started making these little teddy bears and called them teddy bears and that is what the source of his hope. We thank you Holt Collier you for giving us the teddy bear.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you Jocko.

Minor F. Buchanan: But he was a toy maker in New York named Mitcham and there was also a cartoonist for The Washington Post. He was actually the guy; he portrayed the comic relief character for Theodore Roosevelt. Prior to the teddy bear was a raccoon. In November the 16th of 1902, Clifford Berryman ran a cartoon in the front page of The Washington Post, called Drawing the Line in Mississippi and that is the birth of the teddy bear. Every Roosevelt cartoon Berryman drew after that included a little baby bear. It was after this event were Collier captured that large wild black bear that Roosevelt called Holt Collier the greatest hunter guy I have ever known. He said that around the campfire, the next night.


Teddy Roosevelt Hunted Black Bears in Louisiana


Ramsey Russell: Holt Collier came a long way and I know, now you all know the history of the teddy bear. Several years later, they went down to Louisiana Canebrakes and the President again came to hunt and they had a guy named Ben Lilly. Who the President, I can’t remember how he described it, but it was not very flattering.

Minor F. Buchanan: “He was a goofy old coot and a religious fanatic.” I can tell exactly. Those were The President’s words.

Hank Burdine: He had walked something like 15 miles that day to get to that camp. He did not like to sleep in a tent. He did not like to sleep in a house. Roosevelt said he slept in the tree on a limb like a wild turkey during a rainstorm, crouched on a tree lamb like a wild turkey.

Minor F. Buchanan: When he arrived there, he came walking up. It had been raining and he was just pitiful looking. So, they had to give him some clothes and whatnot. Ben Lilly was put in charge of the Louisiana hunt. This is 1907, John Parker is the governor of the state Louisiana at the time, Holt Collier is there at the specific insistence of Theodore Roosevelt. And on this occasion the two Metcalf brothers come and they join this hunt. This is a 14-day hunt, 14 days in the woods for the President of the United States.

Ramsey Russell: At Bear Lake in Louisiana.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, it ended up in Bear Lake Louisiana. But the original location of it was about 15 miles east of there and there used to be a historic sign “It’s a little crossroads”. But when I got there I can’t remember who chose the site. I do not think it is Ben Lilly. But Collier got there a few days early and he told Metcalfe that there are no bear here. They are not enough bear here, they are a little bit of so and so. And Collier had already scoped out this place down at Bear Lake. And they convince Roosevelt to abandon the site that had been chosen. Forming this, they had built floored tents. I mean, it was a nice sight and they abandoned and went about 15 miles due West to Bear Lake, and was good they did. Bottom line is Ben Lilly has been put in charge of this bear hunt. For 12 days he runs the hunt and Roosevelt does not get a bear. It’s on the evening of the 12th day that the Metcalf’s approached Roosevelt and said, you need to put Holt Collier in charge of this hunt and take Ben Lilly out. So, they did because Roosevelt did not want another circumstance of bad press. So, the Metcalfs called Collier and Roosevelt around the campfire and they say you are going to be in charge this hunt tomorrow morning. So, Collier immediately looked at Roosevelt and said, you listen to me and you do as I say. I may just merely took charge, and at nine o’clock the next morning.

Hank Burdine: Tell him what he told to Metcalfe boys. Which one to ride with him and which one to ride with the President. And what he said about the President.

Minor F. Buchanan: “Oh, he is not a little boy.”

Hank Burdine: Well, he wanted one of the Metcalfe boys to ride with him and the dogs. Because they had hunted together for years and years. They knew each other, they knew how to hunt. They knew how each other hunted. And he told the other Metcalfe whether it was Clive or Harley. He said, now you take the Colonel with you and he is not a baby. He can ride with you just like the rest of us can. That is what Holt Collier said about President Roosevelt. He is not a baby.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, that’s exactly what Roosevelt wanted to hear. He did not want to come down here and sit on the stand to bear hunt. He rode many times.

Hank Burdine: He’s a Rough Rider.

Minor F. Buchanan: I want to ride with rest of you guys and nobody would let him do it until Holt Collier was put in charge of the hunt. At 9 o’clock the next morning he got his trophy bear. In true hunter fashion, and those are Roosevelt’s words. There is another incident own this 1907 hunt that is worthy of mention. Hank, you help me out here. What Roosevelt wrote about this and it was the killing of a large boar. Down in a creek. And Roosevelt describes it, as he saw the whole thing. It was a lot of, a very substantial boar hog with tusks blazing and Collier had killed it in a pretty significant fight. Roosevelt described the afterword of it when the Metcalfes have Holt around a campfire and they are hugging him, holding him because it was cold. They were rubbing him down too because he was exhausted, wet and cold. They dried him, they bathe him, dried him off and put their clothes on him. It was something that you know, these are two grown white men taking care of this.

Hank Burdine: Here the President is watching them. His other folks around, they’re watching him and they hold him as it was in the fall. With that wild hog, killing that hog. I met him with his knife and when he came out but hypothermia might have been sitting into him. He probably chilled like this and shaken and shivering. They got him around a campfire and stripped him down and rubbed him down with their own towel drying him off and put him in their own clothes. And here these two Metcalfe brothers are here with a trusted friend Holt Collier, a black man. He looks around, sees president and somebody is looking at him like one of them jumps up and says now Holt. Don’t you ever let me do that? He was not a terribly young man. No, they were all in age by the end. He’s 65 years by then.

Minor F. Buchanan: We’ve got a photograph

Hank Burdine: But what that shows is the love, the camaraderie and the bond that these men had.

Ramsey Russell: That is right.

Minor F. Buchanan: We have a photograph of Holt Collier on the 1907 hunt at this date he is 56 years old. Is that right? He is ramrod straight on that horse.

Hank Burdine: Straight as an arrow.

Minor F. Buchanan: And wearing his Confederate hat. Matter of fact, that’s the picture.


Roosevelt Bear Hunt Reenactment in Mississippi


Ramsey Russell: On the cover your book. Hank, real quick. I just think I found this so very interesting. But tell me years and years later, we are going to come back to the story folks. You actually reenacted this bear hunt.

Hank Burdine: Well, they were having a groundbreaking at the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex, that includes Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge, right close to Smedes Landing and not on it but close to it near Onward. We went down that memorial dedication, rest of us was down there and there was one of Roosevelt great grandson. What’s his name? Kermit?

Hank Burdine: No. I’ll recall him in a second.

Minor F. Buchanan: We have had several of the Roosevelt clan come down for these events.

Hank Burdine: Then they came down and I met the guy. I’m looking around and there is that Harley Metcalfe, Billy Percy and Holt Collier’s niece. I said, wait a minute, we have got five or six of the descendants of the original inhabitants on this hunt I thought about my friend Eugene Foote.

Minor F. Buchanan: We knew Eugene Foote. So, we did not had to get in touch with him.

Hank Burdine: I said, we need to think. We were at that time hunting hogs at Howard Brent’s place at Panther Tract outside of Yazoo City. Which bear is not but about 15 – 20 miles from the Little Sunflower River. And as I said, we had a reenactment hog hunt to reenact the bear hunt. We are hunting hogs on horses. We were chasing hogs with dogs, we’d kill a hog with knives, once the hog bays and attack dogs go in and grab the hog. So that is pretty wild idea. But in the Mississippi Delta not any idea too wild for us not to do and I had just cut some big trees down on my farm. So I load up three of these big logs and I take them to Panther Tract. We set up a camp site, I have a big canvas what I call my Montana tent. It’s a big ol’ tent that I had when I was out in Colorado. So, I decided to go ahead and set that big tent up and we set this hog hunt up and get a friend to come in with his hog dogs and we did not have a big-time big party. Well, the Roosevelt guys come in and I am going to have him set up in this big Montana tent what I called. I had a big blow-up mattress in it and my cousin brought a big buffalo rug to carry over it. And somebody has brought a bear’s skin to lay over one of the logs. We had this big party planned. When word got out to the governor of the State of Mississippi. They all brought what he said he wanted to come to this hunt. Well, he is a big hunter. So, I invited him. We were sure you can show up and then he sent word back where he found out that Mr. Roosevelt is going to camping out on the tent. He wanted to stay in a tent, too. Hell! I have one tent. We got into an emergency mode. We had to go find another camp to set up for the governor. When the governor gets there, he looks there is a smaller tent, nylon tent over here and then there is a big canvas tent. He looked at me he said, Hey, I am so looking forward to staying in that big canvas tent like that. I said, now wait a minute governor! That’s the presidential tent. You do not get to stay in there, you are nothing but a governor! You got a stand there and a little tent over here. But we had a wonderful time and we killed some hogs. We did not kill as many hogs as we normally do when we’re down there. The governor never got off the horse the whole time, neither did Roosevelt’s guy and just had a wonderful hunt, wonderful time. And Minor was there. Told the whole story around the campfire and all like that. So we had a great time.

Ramsey Russell: That tells a wonderful celebration. That’s a wonderful story.

Minor F. Buchanan: We told a lot of stories around that campfire. Hank, I don’t know if you planned it or not. But it was a night of a full moon. You remember that? Did you plan that?

Hank Burdine: Well.

Minor F. Buchanan: We had a fire and we had these logs if you brought and we were sitting around and it was just classic campfire, full moon and we would still be out there. Now if my wife heads about 2:30 in the morning, my wife says we all got to go to bed. And I got everybody’s attention. I was willing to stay up to see the sun coming up. That was a good night.

Hank Burdine: Now it was Simon Roosevelt who was there. We had Simon Roosevelt, we had Billy Percy, we had Harley Metcalfe, and we had Huger Foote. We had Holt’s niece. What’s her name? I’m trying to recall, she came during the daytime briefly. But there we had five or six of the original descendants that were on that 1902 bear hunt.

Minor F. Buchanan:  And we had an awful lot of other people there who were interested in the story.

Hank Burdine: Was Metcalfe there, talking about the Bobo hunt?

Minor F. Buchanan: He was there, that’s right. You had a lot of deltonians in there and then you had some professional horsemen. The chasers I called, didn’t a bunch of guys show up with their horses?

Hank Burdine: Oh, we all do whenever it is.

Minor F. Buchanan: These guys I had never met these guys before.

Hank Burdine: We had more fun on those hunts when these girls show up with their horses. Now you talk about them girl know how to ride horse. I do not know how many of them got on top at horse when we just killed them but you could not. You could not shake them. We were on one hunt down there and we had what I call the red shoe riding club.

Minor F. Buchanan: Where you got to said Bowie was there too.

Hank Burdine: Bowie was there too. You had Melody and Steve Golden. Melody has got one of the most beautiful, wonderful books out called Wild Boar Hunt on Panther Tract, Wild bear hunt in the Mississippi Delta and it’s a book that she has written and that she’s photographed in that thing, and I was down there participating in the hunt and I saw what was happening when we woke up that morning. It snowed about an inch on the ground. Melody and Steve already gone taking pictures on his thing. So, it is a wonderful book by Melody Golden Panther Tract Wild Boar Hunting in the Mississippi Delta.

Minor F. Buchanan: Which is the exact same place where the reenactment took place.


Holt Collier Legacy in Mississippi Delta


Holt Collier headstone Greenville mississippi
Holt Collier’s memorial is located at Live Oak Cemetery in Greenville, Mississippi. Click image to better read monument.

Ramsey Russell: You know what. Now, I know everybody is enjoying the story. I sure, I am. I do not want to end. But by the time Holt Collier was in his 60s, we are talking about 1912, We are talking only five or six years after Roosevelt killed a bear finally. That is now gone. The world that Holt Collier had lived in, the lifestyle he enjoyed had played out, had almost disappeared completely. It surprised me, just the same as Sam Fathers and Isaac McCaslin in the Faulkner story. Those times have passed. In that last little bear like he said that he was a part of killing would have been Albert Metcalf a 300-pound bear. It was interesting to me that it was not until the 1920s that he just became sedentary. He was older, he was tired, and I read somewhere that the children used to pull their pennies and buy him an orange. He had it, pull it in the back and he sit around and tell stories about days gone by in a wilderness lost forever. I am going to wrap this story up, and I will share it right here. You know, he did die in 1936. Born a slave, a Civil War soldier on the Confederate side, I should say, his legacies, Onward Store, you know, right, they’re not far from Smedes over that big monument that I was aware of. They have named an entire refuge complex for him. There’s a huge memorial to him in Live Oak Cemetery in Greenville, Mississippi. The official toy of Mississippi is the teddy bear. You know what struck me as I read the book for about the fourth or fifth time preceding today’s meeting, you know, 1936 was not just a long time ago, I mean, I was born 30 years later. By then, soybeans become gold on a global commodity market, USDA had incentivized the cutting of the last remaining fragments way down on flood-prone grounds. They had cut even the last stands of bottomland hardwood forests. By then, I’m 30 or 40 years old and that pendulum is swung completely the other way. Because it is always a pendulum swinging it seems like you know, and then the USDA realized we cannot grow crops on those floodplains what we’re playing this crop insurance and everything else. Let’s put them back in trees with WRP. The last time I looked at some of the satellite images for the Mississippi Delta, that part of the South Delta where his famous bear hunt took place and everything else and this was been late-90’s, that I counted up reforested acreage to include CRP, WRP, existing and restored bottomland hardwood we were talking about very nearly a half-million acres had been restored. We got down around Redwood and I just never will forget it is just the weight of the story hit me. I was in my early 40s had two little boys and I was walking to a deer stand down around Satartia, 15 air miles from where the hunt took place. It had been raining like cats and dogs I was having headed to a covered deer stand and right there in the mud with the first bear track I’ve ever seen in the State of Mississippi. 

Hank Burdine: Well, let me explain a little something that has happened through our government programs, our CRP program, and our WRP program to know like at. A lot of this land is being put back into trees and a lot of these riverine structures your creeks, your bayous, your sloughs that are having areas put back in trees along those. Those are corridors for the black bear. If you go right across the river from Rosedale and Arkansas, you got a huge area Big Island up there. They have got a large contingency of black bear in Louisiana. We are having the one of the greatest reintroductions of black bear into this habitat. Mainly because we are not bringing the bears in here, bears are coming on their own. We got a couple momma bears running around over here, we got some bears over there, that I want to come to the dance on Saturday night so they swim in that river and we are getting bear.  I have seen a bear down my farm outside of Lake Washington before. Radio tracked bear, I have been fortunate enough to go with my Department, Wildlife Parks, to recall some of these bears. To be able to be with them when they know where the mama bears are. They are able to tranquilize them while they weigh them, take DNA samples and all this type stuff. It is really a cool thing to see what the resurgence of the black bear in the Mississippi Delta because of the habitat restoration, preservation and conservation. So, we got a lot of good things going on right there. I’m real proud of that.

Ramsey Russell: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for listening to Duck Season Somewhere podcast. I hope you all enjoyed this story about a past time in the past place as much as I have. Minor, where can folks find this book, Holt Collier: His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts, and the Origin of the Teddy Bear. Where can where can they find this?

Minor F. Buchanan: We have got a website we are setting up called holtcollier.com and I am hoping that it is soon up and running. So people can get it quickly.

Ramsey Russell: Quickly. Websites is coming folks; you might try Amazon until then.

Minor F. Buchanan: Well, you can find us on Amazon but it is very expensive. It is in several bookstores in Mississippi. I am not saying, it is not nationally featured. It is a local hit. But it is we have in our fifth printing.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you both for your time.

Hank Burdine: It is a wonderful book and what you told me last time we talked to you. You read two books at once you read Faulkner’s Big Woods and you read Holt Collier book and you do that, you compare it, you realize what you were saying is that, no doubt in my mind. No doubt in your mind. That Faulkner took that whole concept straight from Holt Collier.

Ramsey Russell: Yes, he surely did. Folks, see you next time on Duck Season Somewhere podcast.


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Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at ramsey@getducks.com. And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks