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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?

Hunter shoots another hunter and keeps hunting...Low birds: A little salty about getting peppered

August 27, 2011

By Bobby Cleveland, ClarionLedger.com

I had a bad feeling as soon as I sat down on the dove bucket, backed up against a tree line near a corner of the field, looking out at rows of hunters facing me.

I felt worse as soon as the birds starting flying down into the sunflowers, making me a target.

The first time I got shot was five minutes in. It hurt like hail - yes, hail - and left six bright red spots on my belly.

The second, just two minutes later, didn't hurt nearly as bad, but a lone pellet chipped my sunglasses and left me shaken.

On the third one, I saw the low bird going down and had time to duck and turn. I got peppered pretty good but the back of my shooting vest is thick by choice.

There was no fourth time.

I left the field immediately after the third because I had come to terms with reality. There were some fools in the field facing me who:

•did not know the No. 1 rule of dove hunting - Do Not Shoot Low-Flying Birds.

•didn't care that getting shot from 75 yards away hurts - bad.

•did not care how many times I stood and hollered: "Please don't shoot at low birds" and, later, "Quit $%#& shooting me."

Instead of relocating, I took my sore feelings and body, and my ill temper to the truck where I could sulk surrounded by heavy metal. I did return later, after they had left.

My perfect choice of stands, back to the sun and in the center of two primary entry points for the birds to the field was just too dangerous.

No lower than 45 degrees
Once the birds came over the trees, they would immediately descend. With hunters in the field facing me, and the sun, I was in a bad situation. That some were idiots didn't help.

Turns out it was a dad and his teen-aged son, plus another grown man, who kept shooting me and it was the dad who took offense to my cussing them for shooting me.

For shooting me three times!!!

He never apologized, but did point out the obvious, that if you dove hunt enough, sooner or later you will get peppered.

Well, excuse me for being salty, but being peppered by shot falling from a gun fired hundreds of yards away is not the same as being blasted with shot fired 75 yards away and still traveling a thousand feet per second on a flat trajectory.

Dove hunting is a fun sport, enjoyed safely by thousands in Mississippi. Let's keep it that way.

When the season opens Saturday, do not shoot at a bird less than 45 degrees above the horizon.

Using your arms, hold one parallel to the ground - 0 degrees. Hold the other straight up - 90 degrees. The point halfway in between is 45 degrees. Don't shoot any lower.

Also, never assume the locations of other hunters, and never shoot at an injured bird flying just above or sitting on the ground.

There are plenty of other firearm and dove hunting safety rules to follow, including establishing safe zones of fire around others.

I just preach loudest about not shooting at low birds because - and, trust me on this - getting shot is no fun.

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