The lake that morning was as still as glass. There was barely
a breeze. My future father-in-law and brother-in-law were
in the blind. I was approximately 90 yards from the boat heading
in their direction when two Bluebills circled around 50 yards
from them, coming between the line of sight of the boat and
the blind. Excitedly, they quickly rose to shoot, as they
had not seen a duck all morning. That is when my perception
of hunting and guns elevated to a whole new level.
Time quickly took on a new dimension as the events of that
moment unfolded ever so slowly, frame by frame, as if being
filmed for a movie. I heard the shots, and felt the warm trickle
of blood from my forehead and across my face. Instinctively
I clung to the bottom of the boat. Taking my glasses off and
viewing them, I saw there was a puncture hole in one of my
lenses about the size if a #4 pellet. I immediately began
to place a hand in front of the affected eye to see if my
vision was clear. The affected left eye was somewhat blurry.
I began taking ice-cold lake water and irrigating my eye copiously.
I have been hunting since I was 9 years old. My father has
taught me all the rules and regulations of gun safety, from
carrying a gun, shooting a gun, safety on, safety off, knowing
where you are shooting, what direction, and what is behind
your target. My father insisted on this. The first time I
dropped my gun, it was taken away for the whole hunting season.
I was no stranger to hunting safety, but this was the first
time I encountered danger of this kind. I had been shot at
about 80 yards by a #4 lead shot. One hit my forehead and
superficially cut my skin, and one hit me directly center
of my lens. I was able to keep my eye with no visual disturbance,
but I did have some imbedded shards of glass that I picked
out for the next 24-48 hours.
I am fine and continue to hunt, which is all the more reason
to dedicate Survive Outdoors to hunting safety.
For serious hunters who love and are dedicated to the sport
of hunting, it is imperative that we teach our children well
and carry hunting safety into the next generation. The rules
apply whether one hunts with a gun or a bow. Here are a few
basic rules that should be implemented ALL the time:
- Treat your disarmed gun or bow with the same respect that
you would with a loaded bow or gun. ALWAYS assume that your
gun or bow is loaded and ready to shoot.
- NEVER, EVER point your gun or bow at anyone when unloaded.
- Always point your weapon in a safe direction.
- Keep your safety on until ready to shoot.
- Do not become anxious and take your safety off of your
weapon prior to the shot. That is why the safety is located
usually within an inch of the trigger.
- ALWAYS keep your target IN FRONT of you. That is crucial.
- Clearly identify your target before you shoot. Every
year individuals are shot because they are mistaken for
a deer. In all my years of hunting, I still cannot fathom
how this occurs. Even 30 minutes before sunrise, one should
clearly see their target before shooting. Once again emotions
get in the way and inappropriate shots are taken.
- Always unload your firearm; never climb into a tree stand,
climb over a fence, in or over a duck blind with a loaded
- Know the range of your weapon. Know how far it will shoot.
Know what loads you have in the chamber. Know how accurate
you are with a bow and how far that your bow will shoot.
Know what is behind your target.
- Keep your emotions in check. Use GOOD judgment. No animal,
no deer, whether it is a pintail drake, large rooster pheasant
climbing out of a morning’s cornfield, or a 10 to
12-point buck is worth an accident. It is when these gifts
of nature occur and our emotions rise that mistakes happen.
- Ear safety: Many hunters will sacrifice ear safety so
they can hear game coming, especially when deer hunting.
Put a soft earplug in the ear closest to your weapon. I
personally have decreased hearing now in my right ear because
this is one area I neglected over time. All of our senses
are precious and we must take care of them as best as possible.
- Always keep your gun clean. When you unload your gun,
if it is a pump, I usually make sure 2-3 ejections after
the 3 shells come out that there is nothing in the chamber.
I leave the chamber open. The same for automatics. Check
and see if your barrel is free of any debris. Over the years,
a mouse may find its way into your gun case. It can tear
up some of the cotton, and cotton may be stuck in the barrel.
If you shoot, you’ll have a split barrel. The shrapnel
could come back in your face, causing eye injuries and severe
facial lacerations. Even a little bit of snow at the end
of your barrel can cause a severe injury. When you drop
your gun, you should always dismantle it, clean it, wipe
it down, and put it back together.
- As with any piece of equipment, a clean weapon is a functional
weapon. This holds true with bows, as well. Check them before
use to make sure they are in good working order. All parts
of the bow should be tightened and in correct position,
usually accomplished with an Allen wrench, prior to hunting.