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 is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.