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December 12, 2007

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King of the Wild Frontier--Revisited

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!

And it weighed 445 pounds.

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?


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Dave in St Pete

Please show me the caliber of gun he used. I don't think a five year old could (or should) pull the trigger on a .243 with out hurting himself and a .243 is too light for bear.


Hey Dave,
I've not seen the caliber specifically noted in any account I have found thus far. His gun has only been described as "a youth rifle."


I saw the rifle on th news. Im lookin to get one for my 9 year old son. They come in many different calibers. H&R has them in.243rem, 243win, 223rem, and 7mm/08. Remington 308, Savage 308,270. Winchester.30/.30. Some may be too much for a 5 year old but they do make them cabable of taking bear sized game.

Dave in St Pete


I'm sure they are made in "bear size" calibers but I doubt a 5 year old could take the recoil.

I just have a hard time with youngsters killing game. My opinion (Take it for what it's worth) is that "Yes, it should be up to the parent but I wouldn't start them actually hunting until they are completely proficient in ALL aspects of a firearm (safe handling, cleaning, etc), probably around 10 or 12.


I completely agree with you Dave. 10 or 12 is when my son will start hunting with a gun. The recoil is something to think about. I respect your opinion and I do think it is up to the parent. I think youll agree we damn sure dont need a law to tell us at what age we can hunt!


10 or 12 if I feel he is responsible enough. I was 13 when I was alowwed to hunt on my own. It is a different world today.

don mitchell

im with Davein st. p. on this one, NO to the under 12 croud.


Johnnie Crain

I agree, 12 should be the lower limit. I see young hunters from Missouri down to about three that have supposedly taken deer with big rifles. Does a child that young even understand life and death? Johnnie

Dave in St Pete


I agree we don't need a law but, WE do need to speak up to each other when we disagree.

My son was a darn good shot, great at safety and at least had seen how to gut, skin and process a deer before his first kill.

BTW this site has a GREAT video on the complete deer process (gut to freezer) for 16.95 delivered.



I dont know what I did but my email is [email protected]. I wuold like to talk to you off blog. 2 things KY and is the Indian river any where close to you? Tampa and Bradenton?


That was to Dave in St Pete.


Or anyone who wants email me. Im good with it!

Jimmy Davis

I started hunting when I was 12 but I started my grandsons hunting when they were able to use the john by themselves. One is 4 - 6 and 11 and they all hunt.

Chas S. Clifton

"Shoot *comma* Tre," I hope. Otherwise it would be a different -- and sadder -- story, with little Tre being shot and all.

(One of my pet peeves there.)