It is the tale of an outlaw that could have been lifted straight out of America’s Wild West.
Just as with Jesse James and Henry McCarty, better known as Billy the Kid, the tale of this outlaw – nicknamed Rambo the Ram – ended in his death last week.
Where James and McCarty were men, Rambo was, as his moniker suggests, indeed a ram.
He went on a rampage on the Lake Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail on February 9.
A rampage that ended almost as quickly as it escalated when he was gunned down that evening.
While cyclists had been reporting encounters with the ram, described as having a long fleece and tail still intact, for about a week, the ram launched a full-scale attack that ultimately cost him his life.
Among the victims of the attack were Wayne Hawker and wife Alison, of Christchurch.
They were greeted with the ram’s full rage about 11am in what Mr Hawker said was a sustained attack on the Clyde side of the trail’s landmark suspension bridge.
A bruised Mr Hawker described how the attack unfolded.
“We’d just come over the Hugo Bridge and were coming along this flat plateau and there was just this bloody ram on the track.”
The ram first attacked Mrs Hawker’s bike, ramming the front wheel before turning his attention to Mr Hawker.
“He just relentlessly started bunting us.”
Mrs Hawker managed to escape the encounter unscathed, but Mr Hawker was less lucky.
“He just kept ramming the front wheel and would give it a fair chew.”
Mr Hawker said worse was to come when the ram started circling around to ram his cycle broadside.
“He rammed his head through the frame of my bike.”
During the fracas Mr Hawker was knocked from his bike. He suffered cuts and bruising and a suspected fractured elbow.
Having escaped the 10-to-15-minute attack, the couple encountered two couples cycling the other way and warned them of the danger.
He later learnt the two men had protected their partners and had managed to pass the ram by manhandling him over a bank.
Arriving in Clyde, Mr Hawker was treated by the staff at bike tour and cycle hire business Bike it Now, who dressed his wounds and sought medical attention before the couple caught the shuttle back to Cromwell where they were staying.
Mr Hawker said it was not the 72nd birthday celebration he had envisaged, but was determined he and his wife would could continue their South Island road trip.
He had no idea what sparked the ram’s rampage.
“It just had it in its head to attack people.”
Trail manager for the Lake Dunstan, Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails Shayne O’Connor confirmed he had shot the ram.
He had heard about it about a week ago but described February 9 as a “crazy day”.
His phone and social media had blown up and it appeared the ram’s anger had grown to the point it was uncontrollable rage.
“He obviously just flipped his lid. He was sick of people on his territory,” he said.
With the full co-operation of the landowners at Cairnmuir Station, Mr O’Connor was authorised to use lethal force.
“I had access to a small jet-boat so jumped in that.”
With the help of Mr Hawker and others who had had less than pleasant encounters with the ram, he was able to locate it quickly.
“Obviously, when you are going to a job like that in a public place, safety is paramount, I knew it would either be evening or very early morning.”
He opted for the former and said it was the swiftest solution to what was a potentially a dangerous situation for users of the trail.
Because of the terrain, other options such as mustering the ram out with a team of dogs would have meant the terror situation dragged out far longer, he said.