Ozark Hunting Story of Am Yancey - Tall Tales of the Ozarks
St Genevieve, Missouri Herald - December 10th 1932
Davy Crockett is the outstanding heroic character of the Ozarks region, but there were others, lesser lights whose exploits have been told in ballads and tales. One of these persons is Am Yancey whose hunting tale, with certain variations, is one of the most common in the region:
"Wal, gentlemen, when I was a young-un powder an'ball was high an' hard t' git, so we allus had t' make ever' shot count. I recollect one time I was a-tryin' t' git two red squirrels lined up so's I could kill both of 'em with one bullet. That was four of 'em a-runnin' around in a chinkapin tree, an' I reckon I must of sot thar twenty minutes afore I got 'em set t' suit me. When I pulled trigger I seen both of 'em fall, but jest then I heerd turkeys a yoikin' an' it warn't but a little ways off I seen seven hens an' a gobbler a-settin' in a tree. Seems like that ar' bullet done skittered over thar some way and 'split th' limb they was a-settin' on, an' ketched their feet in th' crack!
"Wal, sir, I clumb up t' git them turkey an' wring their necks afore they could bust loose on me, but jest as I was a-comin down I lost my holt and' fell slap-dab in a bresh pile. Thar I was a-scrablin' an' a rollin' an' afore I could git out I'd smothered a hull gang o'quails an' two big swamp rabbits! I jest tied them eight turkeys an' them forty-one quails an' them two swamp rabbits all t'gether with paw-paw bark, an' back I went a-packin' 'em t' whar my squirrels had fell in th' creek, so I waded in atter him. Hit was deeper'n I figgered on, an' th' water was kinder r'iled up an' dingy like. When I got out on th' bank ag'in, danged if my pockets an' boot tops wasn't jest chuck full o' fish -- mostly pearch an' goggle-eye!
"Whilst I was astringin' them fish I retch back t'scratch a chigger-bite, an' my ol' shirt was too dang tight anyhow, so one o' the buttons popped off'n it. I seen th' dang thing go a-whistlin off into a bunch o' hazelbresh, an' I aimed for t'hunt it up soon as I got my fish strung t' suit me. D'rectly I heerd a turrible scufflin' round an' gaspin' an' gurglin' in them bresh, so I drapped th' fish an' snuck over whar I could peek in. Thar was a big buck a-rollin round an' he was a-dyin too, but danged if I could see whut killed him. Hit kinder skeered me. But I just cut his throat anyhow, t' let him bleed right good, an' thar was my ol' button stuck in his wind-pipe! He must of opened up his mouth for t' belch, I reckon, an that ar' button jest flipped in thar an' shut his wind plumb off! Hit shore was the biggest one-bullet huntin' I ever done, seen, or hearn tell of. Thar was one deer, eight turkeys, two squirrels, two swamp rabbits, forty-one quails an' maybe fifty pound o'fish an' Pappy shore was proud when he seen me a'draggin' of it all home."