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Lucky Hunters

After every rifle season, lucky hunters celebrate their success stories, recounting details of the hunt to their friends and anyone else who will listen.  Over the years, I have heard many a tale about the one little turn of good fortune that transformed the ordinary hunt into the extraordinary hunt.  One story I never heard ought to be told because that hunter is the luckiest of them all.

In the past two years, I have learned of at least three such fortunate individuals, yet, I suspect, they don’t even realize their gift.  The tale I first listened to involved neighbors who live west of us.  The wife came home around dusk the first Wednesday of rifle deer season to discover a high-powered rifle bullet had shattered the family room bay window. 

This happens to be the room where her grandchild plays and naps when he spends Wednesdays with Grandma.  Glass shards exploded through the room so thoroughly the insurance company replaced furniture, carpeting, and window dressings since the splinters couldn’t be totally removed.   Thinking about what would have happened had any human, let alone a small child, been in that room sickens me.

The next story involves a friend who stored his bass boat in his mother’s barn.  Come warm weather, he went to ready his boat for the upcoming fishing season when he discovered a problem with the engine.  It wouldn’t run because it had a high-powered rifle slug lodged in it.  After doing a little detective work, he, too, discovered an errant bullet had whistled through the barn wall, through the boat hull, and into the engine.  Once again, some lucky hunter avoided injuring a human, though he or she wreaked havoc on my friend’s fishing season.

Historically, bad luck comes in threes.  Perhaps good luck does also.  This last story involves several pieces of good fortune stitched together.  Just a few weeks ago, another neighbor who had traveled much of December and early January, invited my husband to his barn to show him a bullet hole that hadn’t been there when our neighbor left in December.

On a mission to discover how a bullet hole exited a locked barn, the two men began searching.  What they found made them realize another rifle hunter avoided tragedy.  This individual fired his or her rifle, coming over the hill by Spring Creek.  The hunter apparently aimed at a deer in our neighbor’s alfalfa field and missed. The lead pierced the barn wall, went through a wooden door propped against the wall, struck the corner of a wheat drill that split the projectile, sending both fragments through the front door toward gas tanks in front of the barn.  Our friend frequently parks his pickup in this area.  Fortunately, he was gone when the incident occurred.

This is not an essay against hunting.  Hunting is a wonderful way to enjoy nature and learn more about our place in it.  This is an essay that celebrates some hunters’ good fortune in that they did not kill or injure another human when they failed to follow the most basic tenet of hunter’s safety.  KNOW WHERE YOUR BULLET IS GOING BEFORE YOU PULL THE TRIGGER. 

High-powered rifles make it possible to shoot a bullet an average of 3500 feet per second.  Folks using them have a responsibility to make certain they know where that bullet will end up if it misses the target. 

Somewhere, someone is bemoaning a lost deer.  Instead, that hunter needs to celebrate not ending up a statistic in the back of the hunter education manual.