Like a million or more other middle-aged American men, when I was a five-year-old kid growing up in the 1950s, one of my most prized possessions was a coonskin cap, the kind worn by TV icon and “King of the Wild Frontier,” Davy Crockett.
Back then, growing up in rural in southern Illinois, I was restricted to stalking big game and bad guys with cap pistols in my backyard, while singing the refrain from the popular show starring Fess Parker.
Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee; Greenest state in the Land of the Free; Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree; Killed him a bear when he was only three. Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier!
So went the legend of the frontiersman, soldier and statesman who died at the Battle of the Alamo in 1835.
Now the legend of Crockett lives on, at least the bear-hunting part, thanks to kindergartener Tre Merritt, a true blood-descendant of Crockett. With the help of his grandfather this past weekend in Arkansas, the youngster “killed him a bear” –and he was only 5!
Take that, Mister Coonskin Cap!
Tre’s grandfather, Mike Merritt, was sharing a seat in a treestand with the young hunter in the eastern Arkansas bottomland Sunday when the big bruin approached.
“He came in about 40 to 50 yards,” Mike Merritt said on a local television news report. “When he got in the open, I whistled at him and he stopped and I said, ‘Shoot Tre.'”
Tre confirmed his grandfather’s account.
“I was up in the stand and I seen the bear,” Tre Merritt said. “It came from the thicket and it was beside the road and I shot it.”
According to ABC News, Robert Crockett, one of Davy Crockett’s grandsons, became the first mayor of Stuttgart, Arkansas after the town incorporated in 1889. Today, sportsmen know Stuttgart as the Duck Hunting Capital of the World. The nearby village of Crockett’s Bluff was named to honor Robert Crockett.
“His 10th great-grandfather was Davy Crockett,” his grandfather explained. “And Davy supposedly killed him a bear when he was three. And Tre is five and really killed a bear. I really doubt if Davy killed one when he was three.”
Aw, what’s a year or two among folk heroes, anyway?