Hunting season is here at last. At least MY kind of hunting season is here. Upland game. Birds like pheasant, quail along with my favorite wild bird table fare, chukkar and Hungarian partridge. There's nothing like a walk in the crisp late fall morning air with a well trained English Setter, my vintage Belgian-made Browning Fabrique A-5 "sweet sixteen" and the challenge of hitting a speedy moving target. And there's nothing as tasty as enjoying a hot bowl of seafood, andoulle and wild bird gumbo (the recipe will be posted in a few months along with photos) while watching the heavy northwest Indiana lake effect snow come down.
When afield all the hunters I know exercise caution, courtesy and respect. I tell anyone who will listen that the day you become too comfortable with your own gun is the day to quit hunting. Accidents do happen and are widely publicized. As sick as it sounds the anti-gun crowd, animal-rights wackos and lefty politicians just love to hear when a hunter is injured or accidentally dies. It provides them with additional ammunition to further their agenda - more useless gun control legislation.
The MSM gladly obliges with hunting horror stories. This one was published in The Chicago Tribune, on Halloween of all days.
DOG SHOOTS HUNTER IN PHEASANT SEASON
October 31, 2007
A hunter is recovering after he was shot in the leg at close range by his dog, which stepped on his shotgun, an official said Tuesday.
James Harris, 37, of Tama, Iowa, was hit in the calf Saturday, the opening day of pheasant season, said Alan Foster, a spokesman with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Harris was hunting with a group that shot a bird. When Harris went to get it, he put his gun on the ground and crossed a fence. As he did, his hunting dog stepped on the gun, Foster said.
This story reminds me of one Dan posted about a police officer who "accidentally" killed another police officer at an indoor gun range. There was some speculation on how something this foolish could happen.
While an indoor range accident is rare an outdoor field accident is much more likely to happen.
There are times when I hunt alone, just me and my dog. There are other times when I am out with up to six friends and up to four dogs. Both instances are just as dangerous because both involve carrying a loaded shotgun over rough terrain, mud, sometimes snow or icy mud and cornfield stubble.
When alone I am always checking to see that the mechanical safety of my gun is in the on position. When in a group I am also always aware of where others are and how they are carrying their guns. We wear a lot of blaze orange especially hats and outer vests. Never have I been embarrassed to correct another hunter if I think they are being the slightest bit careless. But I do so with respect and understanding. It doesn’t happen often as I hunt with experienced hunters for the most part.
The mechanical safety of the gun should be engaged at all times and only disengaged when a dog goes on point and everyone is in a heightened state of awareness. Most birds rise up to ten feet before deciding which direction to fly but we have seen birds get up and fly horizontally at about four feet off the ground. A tempting shot but considering others are present and a possible dog may be in the way we let these shots pass. Our current Vice President is an experienced hunter but one who could not resist a low swing shot at a quail. Remember what he did to his friend? Fortunately the friend survived. I like Unkie Dick but his well-publicized careless behavior did no favors for the responsible law-abiding hunters and gun owners of America.
The Iowa hunter in the above story committed more than one potentially fatal mistake. When attempting to cross a fence, ditch, creek or obsticle the gun must be unloaded first. The gun should be placed on the other side of the fence. When with another hunter the other hunter should hold the empty firearms until all others have safely crossed the fence or obstacle and handing the empty guns over to the others before crossing himself. We've safely done this many times.
Anything else presents a potentially fatal situation. Lucky for James Harris, his dog was a poor marksman.