Hunters of Kentucky

by Samuel Woodworth

Banjo and vocal-Cathy; mandolin and vocal-Dave; drums-Rich

Woodworth, author of "The Old Oaken Bucket," wrote this song in 1815 for the stage shortly after the Battle of New Orleans. Tenor Arthur Keene and actor N.M. Ludlow, who pantomimed the verses, gave it celebrated renditions. One of the earliest references of frontiersmen to "alligator horses," this song was soon a favorite of boatmen on the Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi rivers, who later claimed the moniker for themselves. The melody used here is to "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey," but the song is also sung to "The Girl I Left Behind Me."

Ye gentlemen and ladies all who grace this famous city,
Come listen if you've time to spare, and I'll rehearse this ditty,
And for the opportunity conceive yourself quite lucky,
For 'tis not often that you see a hunter from Kentucky.

Oh, Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky.

We are a hearty freeborn race, each man to fear a stranger.
Whate're the game we'll join the chase, despoiling time and danger,
And if a daring foe annoys, whate're his strength and force is
We'll show them that Kentucky boys are alligator horses.
Well, Jackson, he was wide-awake and was not scared of trifles;
For well he knew what aim we'd take with our Kentucky rifles.
So he led us down to Cypress Swamp, the ground was low and mucky,
And soon around the general flocked the hunters of Kentucky.

They found at last 'twas vain to fight, for lead was all their booty,
And so they wisely took to flight and left us all our beauty.
So now if danger o'er annoys remember what our trade is.
Just send for us Kentucky boys, and we'll protect you, ladies.