"The Deer Hunter"

All paintings on this page are original oils by John E. McKinley. (Marti's Father)

Dory Funk Sr. co-signed the note at the Amarillo National Bank bank to put Don (The Lawman) Slatton in the wrestling promotion business in Abilene, Texas. The bank loan was for $1,500. The money was for the Lawman to buy the promotion rights of former Abilene promoter, Benny Wilson. There were no franchises in wrestling, but in those days promoters laid claim to territories. (The Lawman was buying Good Will or Blue Sky, which ever you wish to call it)

The Lawman was working hard to make ends meet. Two things happened to make his promotion a huge success. 1. He got the local TV station, KPLR to pick up the Amarillo territory wrestling television show. 2. All the towns in the West Texas area built new coliseums. The towns located in the KPLR viewing audience with new coliseums included, Abilene, San Angelo, Sweetwater, Brownwood, and Ft. Stockton. As a promoter the Lawman became a huge success. He was soon a, "Hundred Thousand-aire" and his area was growing rapidly.

Guadalupe Peak, Center of the Amarillo Territory (Highest Point in Texas)

The Lawman's territory was the original ECW type promotion featuring JC Dyckes and his Infernos throwing fire, The original bleeder, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Russian Chain Matches featuring Terry Funk and Killer Karl Kox, The original Arabian Death Match with the Sheik and Dory Funk Sr., and the wrestling combination of myself and Jack Brisco. I will never forget the night Brute Bernard went outside of the ring and found a cast iron stove lid. He brought it into the ring and hit Indian wrestler Billy Red Cloud on top of his bald head with it. There was no noise, only a whoosh that left Billy Red Cloud in the center of the ring holding two sides of his head together with blood gushing everywhere.

This extreme style of professional wrestling brought success and fame to the Lawman. He was not only known for his style of wrestling promotion, but also as one of the great deer hunters in the wrestling business. He often brought deer meat to the newly opened Fair Park Coliseum in Abilene to share with the wrestlers.

 

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West Texas Buck Deer

Another wrestler Dory Funk Sr. helped to get started into wrestling promotion was Jerry Kozak. Kozak in contrast to the Lawman built his town, Amarillo on wrestling, featuring the likes of Gene Kiniski, Don Leo Jonathan, Pat Oconnor, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Sr, Dan Miller, Ted Dibiase, Dick Murdoch, Mike Dibiase, and myself and Jack Brisco. Amarillo became a great wrestling town.

Dory Sr. often called Jerry Kozak, "Mr. Neat." Jerry was one of those people who always when dressing tucked his shirt neatly into his underwear pulling the tail out through the bottom in front and back, then sliding his pants up and neatly straightening his shirt and buttoning his fly. Dory Sr. noted that Jerry Kozak followed this ritual even out in the middle of the Flying Mare Ranch on a goose hunting trip when there was nobody to see how neat he was except prairie dogs, rattle snakes, and Canadian Honkers. Jerry Kozak loved to hunt, but brought few trophies to his home in Amarillo.

Canadian Honkers

For several weeks Jerry Kozak had been calling the Lawman asking him to please take him deer hunting.

On one of his hunting excursions the Lawman came across an old dead doe lying in the field. This animal had been dead for so long it had rhigamortis. The Lawman came home and got a set of deer antlers off of his living room wall. He took the antlers back to the forest. Then he tied the old dead doe to a tree in standing position and attached the antlers to the head of the doe. The lawman then returned home and called Jerry Kozak and invited him to go deer hunting with him. Kozak would have to be there at 5:30am.

It was a three hundred mile drive from Amarillo, but Jerry Kozak was there early, shirt tail neatly tucked into his pants.

Out in the hills of West Texas, the Lawman walked Kozak by the old dead doe several times but Kozak didn't see it. On the fourth pass, the Lawman said, "What's that." Kozak froze. He had never killed a deer before in his life. Kozak brought his gun up to eye level and fired the first shot. Nothing happened. The Lawman said, I think you missed him. You had better get closer. Kozak crawled on his stomach, moving in closer for the kill. Now he raised up and shot two more shots. Nothing happened. Three more shots, then the gun just clicked. Kozak was out of ammunition. He turned and ordered the Lawman to return to the truck and get more ammo. The Lawman returned with a new box of shells and Kozak snatched them away from him and stuffed them into the rifle.

Kozak was back on the ground crawling toward the old dead doe. Now Jerry Kozak was within fifty feet of the deer, a can't miss shot. He jumped up and fired three more times into the deer. Nothing happened. He ran toward the deer and fired the last shot of the day. The deer stayed put. Behind him, the Lawman was rolling on the ground in laughter. Jerry Kozak looked at the Deer and looked at the Lawman. Then he uttered his only words. "Don, please don't tell the wrestlers about this."

Three fastest modes of communication:

Before eight o'clock in the morning, the telephone rang at the Flying Mare Ranch in Umbarger, Texas the home of Dory Funk Sr. When the Lawman told him the story, Dory Sr. fell out of bed.

Back at the Ranch in West Texas

Dory Sr. called Moose Moroski in Japan and it was the topic of dinner in the Far East within hours.

Japan (Land of the Rising Sun)

 

All paintings are original oil by Marti's father, Pastor John E. McKinley

Gunslinger

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