Rabbit Hunt Gone Wrong

By Brad Dison

At about 7:00 p.m., on Sunday evening, December 18, 1921, Harry, who was the secretary to the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Commissioner and purchasing agent for the police and fire departments, drove his car to the home of Ike Wilkerson, a police detective who lived just a few blocks away. The pair planned to spend the evening shooting rabbits along the road to Jenks, a town just south of Tulsa.  As they rode along the highway, Ike held a .44 caliber shotgun on his lap just in case they jumped up a rabbit. 

Up in the distance, Harry and Ike saw a large Buick touring car parked on the side of the road.  Harry slowed his car as they approached.  They, being policemen, peered at the car to see if there was any hint that the occupants needed assistance.  Suddenly, three men jumped out of the touring car with guns drawn.  Harry raised his hands to show that he was unarmed.  Ike raised his shotgun.  Ike quickly squeezed the trigger and heard a sound that would send chills down the spine of even the most hardened of men.  Click!  His shotgun misfired.  Had the shotgun fired, Ike would have “blown the top of his head off.”  Ike reached for his automatic pistol.

The bandit who should have been on the receiving end of Ike’s shotgun began firing at Ike.  Bullets hit both of Ike’s legs just above his knees.  The bandit then turned the gun on Harry, who still had his hands up in a surrendering position.  The bandit fired two or three times as he ran back towards the touring car.  The bandit’s bullets struck Harry in the chest and one of his legs.  The bandits jumped into the touring car as Ike fired his pistol at them.  Ike heard his bullets hitting the touring car as the bandits sped off.  Ike was certain he had wounded at least one of the men.

In less than ten seconds, Harry and Ike’s rabbit hunting trip turned into the fight for their lives.  Both were seriously wounded and bleeding profusely.  Despite his injuries, Harry sped his car over a mile to the nearest farmhouse.  Harry, bleeding from his chest and leg, ran with a limp up the front porch.  There he collapsed.  Ike was unable to get out of the car.  The farmer’s family tended to the wounded men as good as they could and sent word for and ambulance and police. 

As with any shooting in which a law enforcement officer is wounded, throngs of policemen descended upon the farm.  Even before the two men had arrived at the hospital in Tulsa, posses of county officers aided by deputized police officers were busy searching the roads in the area for the culprits.  Ike had provided them with descriptions of the bandits and their touring car.

At the hospital, physicians began operating on Harry and Ike.  Doctors were able to save Ike’s life, but he would never walk again.  Harry’s condition was very precarious, his physicians said.  A bullet from the bandit’s gun had pierced his lung.  Doctors gave him little chance for survival.

On the following day, police arrested three men who were positively identified by Ike as the culprits.  They were eventually sentenced to life in prison for the murder.  Two days after the shooting, Harry H. Aurandt, loving husband and father, died from his wounds.  He was 48 years old.  Harry left behind a widow, Anna Aurandt, and two small children: a daughter, Frances H. Aurandt, and a son, Paul H. Aurandt.  Paul Harvey Aurandt.  You and I know him as Paul Harvey.

Sources:

1.     The Morning Tulsa Daily World, December 19, 1921, p.1.

2.    The Morning Tulsa Daily World, December 20, 1921, p.1.