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Daniel S. Buck was a noted hunter. He took 300 acres of land for which he paid with the bounties received for the destruction of wild animals, $60 for each wolf and $75 for each panther, of the latter of which he killed eleven in one year. He made hunting his business while game lasted and some seasons made more than his neighbors did at lumbering. While in Afton we spent an evening very pleasantly with his genial son Noble, who is now well advanced in years, listening to the recital of his father’s adventures while on hunting expeditions; but two must suffice to illustrate his prowess. At one time, about 1811 or ’12, he, in company with Robert Church, followed a panther to its lair, which was in a ledge of rocks, about five miles south of the village of Afton, in the town of Sanford, in Broome county. The passageway to the den was about three feet high and two feet wide, and terminated at the distance of 24 feet in a cave about 20 by 30 feet and 11 feet high. His dog led the way into the den, and soon returned very weak from the loss of blood from a severe wound in the throat. Buck took from his neck a handkerchief and tied it around his dog’s throat, and having stationed Church at the entrance of the cave with an ax in hand to assail the panther if it followed him out, he proceeded into the den himself with his rifle. He threaded the narrow passageway on his hands and knees. At its terminus there was a descent of some two feet to the floor of the cave, which was covered with leaves. There he halted, and on peering through the darkness discovered at the further side of the den the glaring eye-balls of the panther. He aimed between these orbs and fired, observing at the instant he did so a slight change in their position. After delivering his fire he backed out closely followed by the panther, which forced its head into his face, but owing to the closeness of the quarters was unable to hurt him. On reaching the outer terminus he discovered Church retreating in the distance, notwithstanding his cries to him to be prepared to assist him should the panther emerge from the opening. Having prevailed on Church to resume his post he reentered the den, again took deliberate aim at the glaring eye-balls, and was again followed in his retreat by the infuriated beast. He entered the third time and noticed but one orb, the second shot having taken effect in the other. He aimed at the remaining one, fired and again backed out, this time without being pursued. His dog, though weak, was then sent into the cavern, and was followed by Buck, who, on reaching the further extremity of the entrance way, heard it lapping blood. He proceeded into the den on his hands and knees and had not proceeded far when his hand came in contact with the animal’s head. This sent a cold shudder through him, but the panther was dead and was dragged from its den.
At another time, about 1815, while proceeding toward a deer he had chased through a thick brush, about two miles south of Afton, and shot, he discovered a huge panther standing upon the body of the prostrate deer, from the side of which he had torn a fragment of flesh. Without an instant’s warning, the panther, as soon as it discovered him, leaped toward and within thirty feet of him. Quick almost as lightning, Buck raised his rifle, took aim between the eyes, and fired, and so nearly was the animal upon the point of making a second spring, that it half spanned the intervening distance, and, changing ends, fell dead. It measured eleven feet from the end of its nose to the tip of its tail, and was spotted with jet black spots as large as a silver dollar, in this respect differing from the ordinary panther.