Thursday, June 14, 2018

I Ain't Never Shot me a Horse Before

Roy Eykamp about 16 years old, 1933
Rifle appears to be a Springfield 86

Early this year, I attended the birthday party for 100 year old Roy Eykamp, in New South Wales, Australia.

Roy Eykamp, when he was young, learned that practical jokes can have lasting effects.

On the Eykamp farm near Quirindi, New South Wales, 100 year old Roy told me about his life experiences. On the family farm where he was raised in South Dakota, they were using horses during the depression. He was about 15 at the time  (1932). One of the last horses was getting very old and sick. He needed help to get to his feet. The horse had to be put down.

Roy was already an accomplished shot at 15. His father was a bit sentimental. The horse had given long and faithful service. The horse was suffering. Roy's father, Will, asked Roy to shoot the horse for him. Roy's father handed Roy his brother's (Roy's uncle) Winchester lever action .25-20. Roy had shot the rifle before.

Roy went out in the pasture to shoot the horse.

As Roy got close to the horse, a car came down the county road that went through the farm. On the other side of the dirt road was a slough that was not mowed. It was fall, and the slough was a good place to hunt pheasants.

The car was not local. It stopped and the driver rolled down the window. The driver asked Roy if they could hunt pheasants in the slough across the road.

Roy said no, they could not. They saved those pheasants for their own hunting.

Then Roy conceived his practical joke.

Dropping one corner of his mouth to appear as imbecilic as possible, closing his eyes a slight amount, and slurring his words a little, speaking slowly and deliberately, he said:

"I ain't never shot a horse before. I think I'll shoot me a horse."

The .25-20 came up to his shoulder. The horse was only 20 feet away. Roy knew exactly where to aim on the horses head for an instant death.

Bang! The horse fell dead.

Roy said the wheels on the strange car never stopped spinning in the gravel until a quarter mile down the road.

20 years later, Roy was hunting wolves from the air for bounty in Canada. Roy did not raise animals on his farm in South Dakota, so he had time to go to Canada in the winter, and hunt wolves. Harley Rauch, the South Dakota aviator, was the pilot. Rauch had pioneered the concept.  About 1953, Harley asked Roy to be his shooter. In Canada, a wealthy sportsman from Chicago was giving a banquet in the area, and all American hunters were invited.



Roy decided to attend the banquet. During the proceedings, one of the Chicago hunters stood up and told the story about how they had been asking to hunt pheasants in South Dakota, 20 years earlier. Some imbecilic farm boy shot a horse, right in front of them, for no reason. They were lucky to escape with their lives.

Roy considered standing up and saying, "I was that farm boy".  He decided discretion was the better part of valor, and said nothing.


©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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2 comments:

John Dough said...

You know Jerry Clower told a variation of that horse story for years...

Anonymous said...

That's a hoot. Such a bizarre coincidence. It would have blown the speaker's mind if he had stood up, pulled the same face and repeated his "I ain't never shot me a horse before" line exactly as he had 20 years before.

Reminds me of the story I heard a former mayor of Panama City, Fla. relating (on TV) about a trip he had taken to Germany. There's a shipwreck off Panama City of a British freighter called the Empire Mica that was torpedoed by a U-Boat (U-67) and sunk during WWII, which now is a well-known wreck dive. The mayor was being treated as something of a minor dignitary and the Germans were presenting him around and giving him a bit of the (small-r) red carpet treatment.

At one point he was approached by a dignified-looking elderly German gentleman who asked, in very good English, You are the mayor of Panama City? He answered, "Yes." To which the German replied, "How do you do? I am Gunther Muller-Stockheim, and I sank the Empire Mica."

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.