My Life: Wild Pigs and Butt Shots

Excerpt from ‘The Island: Reminiscences of Twentieth Century Ranching on Santa Rosa Island’

In his book, Pete Healey describes the quick-draw rancher life on Santa Rosa Island.

It was late afternoon and just starting to get dark when we jumped a big boar coming along the road at the top of Soledad Mountain. We got our rifles out; Uncle Bill was to the left of me and so was the hog, so I let him shoot first. He made a good shot and the pig ran across the road to the right and into a swale.

Uncle Bill put his rifle back into the scabbard, mounted up, and rode over to make sure the pig was dead. He was also packing a brand new semi-automatic .22 caliber pistol, which he’d been carrying in his holster and hadn’t used it yet. As I was sitting on my horse about 50 feet away, my uncle rode just uphill from the pig and he pulled out his pistol to finish him off. He fired one shot and then he stuck the pistol back into the holster, but had trouble getting it back in. I could see him jerking the pistol up and down and then “Bang!”, it went off. With a confused look on his face, Uncle Bill nonchalantly pulled his hip over with his right hand to look at his butt, and said, “Goddamit, Pete, I shot myself in the ass.”

I started laughing, but he wasn’t kidding. Even though he never said a word, it must have hurt because he stood up in his stirrups most of the way home, which took a good five to six miles of trotting. Coming down Black Mountain, he told me not to tell anybody. Trying to control my giggling, I told him I wouldn’t.

After I unsaddled the horses, I went up to the house to help my uncle with his wound. The bullet went through the outer part of his butt cheek, then struck the cantle of the saddle, and ended up in his boot. It was a clean wound, so I got a syringe full of hydrogen peroxide and pumped it through the upper hole and flushed it out the bottom.

I kept my word and didn’t say anything to anybody, but when Uncle Bill came limping into the bunkhouse kitchen the next morning for coffee, I started laughing. My uncle was a good sport and told everybody what happened. From then on, he always referred to that pistol as his “ass shooting gun.”


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