How I Won at “Bullet H-O-R-S-E”

Steve Sorensen
Steve Sorensen
Contribiting Writer

Back when I was a kid we didn’t need no ’puter to play games. No X-Box, no Y-Box, not even a cereal box. We made up our own games, and when we played them nobody even got hurt — like the time we invented “Bullet H-O-R-S-E.”

We learned about H-O-R-S-E in gym class when the gym teacher and Frankie conspired against us. The gym teacher told Frankie to start at a piece of tape stuck on the floor. He called it the fowl line. I guess it was a place for chickens to line up for butchering, but we never got around to practical things in gym class. Frankie would throw the basketball through a big metal ring bolted to a half-sheet of plywood.

Whenever I played I was the first to win a letter for every shot I missed. I won all five letters to spell H-O-R-S-E. Frankie always beat me because of a misunderstanding. Nobody told me the first to win five letters was the loser. I wanted to give Frankie some payback, but I couldn’t get Randy to help me hurt a girl. Instead we spit on her shoes, which we did accidentally and regularly. Frankie’s lucky she wasn’t a boy or we would have sprained one of her fingers.

One day in the back pasture Randy and I ran out of things to do so we came up with Bullet H-O-R-S-E. We both had vintage .22 rifles. Mine was a single shot with a peep sight in the back and a half penny fastened to the muzzle for a front sight. It would go off when I pulled the trigger almost eight out of ten times.

Randy’s gun had a broken forearm. He claims I broke it when I backed over it with the ’55 Chevy Bel Air Dad gave us to drive in our fields. I let Randy drive it once in a while and that’s probably why he decided not to hurt me. He was good-natured that way. When he repaired it he turned the broken part into a forward pistol grip. It made his gun so accurate that I considered running over my own gun, but I didn’t want to take the chance it would cut my gun’s productivity to about half its shots going off.
Anyway, that day we had been playing Bullet H-O-R-S-E for over an hour. Almost every time one of us would make a miracle shot, the other would perfectly duplicate it. We polished off almost two boxes of Remington Hi-Speed KleanBore shells and were tied at H-O-R-S. That’s when Randy called a miracle shot he thought would make me the loser.

“See that groundhog yonder at 197 yards? I’ll fire at that rock right over there, the bullet will glance off and hit that rusty antique hay rake settin’ back in the goldenrod, bounce to the right and hit the corner fence post right behind him, and then come back and whack that ’hog in the back of the head.”

I stood there thinking, “Man, why didn’t I think of that first?”

Randy’s shot ricocheted off the rock, went “ding” when it hit the old hay rake, knocked a chip off the fence post, and the ’chuck fell forward like it was grabbing another mouthful of clover.

Lucky for me, I was a quick thinker. I grabbed my knee and collapsed, pretending I’d been hit. “That bullet came out through the woodchuck’s mouth and hit me in the knee!”

“Walk it off!” Randy said. He wasn’t usually so sympathetic, but I guess he was excited about his miracle shot. So I continued my hoax, hobbling along behind him. There laid the woodchuck with a hole dead center in the back of its head.

“Betcha can’t do that,” Randy said.
“Of course I can,” I said. “First I’d have to rustle up another woodchuck and get him to stand where that one had been standing! And I’d do that right now, exceptin’ that you already lost, because you didn’t call that you were gonna shoot me in the knee!”

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.