“The Sally Buck”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Keywords: animal nonsense supernatural hunting talltale paradox
Found in: US(Ap,SE)


The singer goes hunting "one cold and winter day." (He tracks "the Sally buck all day.") Sundry adventures follow; the singer reports "of (15 or 20), ten thousand I did kill." The singer ends "If you can tell a bigger lie, I swear you ought to be hung."


The variation in this song is immense; of the four versions I've seen, the only common element is the fact that the singer is a hunter and that at some point, "of fifteen or twenty" (or four-and-twenty, or some such), "a thousand (or ten thousand) I did kill."

Along the way the hunter meets various misadventures; these may be borrowed from other songs, and in any case take on local color.

The final stanza, along the line of, "The man who wrote this song, his name was (Benny Young/Bango Bang); If you can tell a bigger lie, I swear you ought (to be hung/to hang)," is characteristic but does not occur in all versions. - RBW



  1. SharpAp 159, "Sally Buck" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 70, "The Sally Buck" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 107-109, "[I Went Out A-Hunting, Sir]" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Fife-Cowboy/West 4, "A Hunting Tale" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #3607
  6. BI, SKE70