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May 27, 2008

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Bourjaily on Ducking and Covering

The other day I was talking to John Clouse, who runs Ballistic Specialties in Batesville, AR. Clouse is a fine Beretta doctor, and he was diagnosing my balky 391 when somehow the subject turned to Clouse’s nose. Several years ago on a crow hunt, Clouse stoned a bird a ridiculously high distance in the air. He took his eye off the falling crow to exchange high fives with his hunting buddy. When he looked back, the crow hit him in the face, breaking his nose.

I saw a similar accident in Saskatchewan. We were hunting geese in a pea field, leaning against round bales of straw. My friend Tom folded a goose, found a second bird and was about to shoot it when the first one hit him square in the side of the head. When I looked over, Tom was on his hands and knees ten yards from the bale. A ten pound goose falling from 30 yards up could probably kill you if it hit you just right. At the time, Tom thought he had been shot. A year after the hunt he had so many headaches and so much neck pain he eventually had to have surgery. 

Tom blamed me (it wasn’t me, I missed, then my gun jammed) for years, but he realizes now he did this to himself. Ever since that day, whenever I hunt geese I shoot one, then look to make sure I know where all the falling birds are before I look for a second. Maybe I’m being too cautious – maybe those were the only two times in the history of hunting that falling birds hit people, but I doubt it. Has anybody out there ever seen a bird hit someone?


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CPT Brad

The other day I was talking to John Clouse, who runs Ballistic Specialties in Batesville, AR. Clouse is a fine Beretta doctor....

Not to break the falling bird death thread but John is a Doctor of Shotgun Medicine. I had him cut down my Ithica MAG10 with screw in tubes and his own choke. DEATH to both Turkies and Ducks! I will watch for suicidal birds in the future but I'll tell you he's the man on choke tubes!!


I'm not at all surprised by the number of readers relating hits and near misses by falling birds. I don't believe there can be as much as one person on this planet who shoots skeet and doesn't regularly duck flying shards from station 1 and 7 targets.


Never been hit by a bird, but I do get a kick out of all the falling shot raining down on a dove hunt. Unfortunately, (depending on who threw it) I have been hit several times by the flying Budweiser bird during a difference of opinion at a watering hole.

Thos. Fowler

Have often wondered how many hunters are hit by birds...had several close calls with doves, and was nearly struck by a goose I had shot with a 10 gauge, but he struck an expensive decoy set near me instead. Snapped it like a twig. It is a good thing that deer don't fly.

Tom Fowler


to Kimbo Slice - what in the hell kind of a sportsman would shoot a Condor? That is disgusting and appalling behavior that you might expect from a kid who didn't know better and if your buddy didn't know better SHAME ON HIM!!! People like him give the whole sport of hunting a bad name.


Good post Dave,

Chad Love

I was shooting live fliers at a field trial a few years ago when a duck hit by the second shooter came straight down on top of me. I jumped out of the way, but it still managed to hit my arm.
Ended up with a bruised arm, a jammed thumb from where I had to break my fall with my free hand and healthy respect for three pounds of dead weight in freefall...

Black Rifle Addict

Yea, what's with shooting a condor?? Even if they are not protected in Cordoba, what's the purpose of killing it?



Had a buddy that went on one of those Argentina dove hunts a couple of years ago.
He has the numbers in his head, but the dove, parakeets and ducks he shot was mindboggling! Seems he told me he shot 9 cases(!) of ammo.
Among the other flying creatures they asked them to shoot if given an opportunity, were Golden Eagles! A distinct no-no here in the U.S.! In Argentina, they are a real and constant threat to the local sheep raisers, readily taking lambs.

No. 1 - To be hit by a falling bird, you gotta be able to hit a moving target!
No. 2 - I'm in no "real" danger. See No. 1!!! LOL!!!



I was goose hunting last fall in a cornfield using lay-out blinds. I was on the far left and as the shooting stopped all the guys were yelling "watch it!" i couldn't see the bird because it was coming down from behind me. It crashed down right in my lap. Good thing I was in the blind because it took most of the beating.

Jack Vuunhoeff

Maybe if they killed a few more condor we can go back shooting lead bullets in California?


Several years back I was hunting one of my fields which is across a road from a golf course. Had a single goose come in and I shot it. It wasn't hit hard and instead of folding up, it came down at a glide. My buddy and I watched as it crossed the road and hit a golfer square in the back as he was in his backswing. My buddy, who is a Michigan State Trooper, started laughing but added that he didn't think this was going to be good. I walked over to the club house to get my bird and talk to the golfer. He just got up and kept playing, saying it was not a big deal. I then went up to the club house where I was treated to a standing ovation.

Phil Bourjaily

I had no idea this many people would have "hit by falling bird" stories. Be careful out there, and even though catching a falling bird seems like a funny idea at the time, don't: a couple of people have told me stories of hunters who caught dead birds only to have their hands punctured by broken wingbones.


Anyone ever been hit by a deer? I was on a drive 10 years ago, and a friend had to kill a spike so it didn't run him over. It was witn in 10 feet of him heading right at him and did not know he was there.

Del in KS

Back in '86 I was a soldier stationed at FT. Wainwright AK. One day I was driving an Army pickup down a 2 lane blacktop by the post golf course when I heard BANG rattle rattle in the back. Stopped, checked the bed and found a golf ball. I looked around and there was a sheepish looking golfer on a tee about 200 yd behind me. He missed the green by quite a bit.

Mike Reeder

I shot a dove heading straight at me one time that I actually ended up catching. I blotted him out with the barrel and fired as he was coming toward me and the next thing I knew he was tumbling toward my chest. Had a few others come close, but that's the first one I ever caught out of the air.

Gary Mc

I saw a friend get hit by a buzzard doing 70 mph on a Harley. Thank God he had a helmet on. His ears rang for days.

Jim in Mo.

IMO, you win the award for most funny/visual incident.
I only say that because thats the sort of luck I've got.


If the previous poster was the real Kimbo Slice then he would have just reached up and caught the condor. Additionally he would gather all of us in one place and collectively whip our butts. Probably not the real Kimbo maybe no dead Condor. Just my opinion...


Never got hit by a falling dead bird, though came close twice by bandtailed pidgeons. Once I was scouting a very large buck who lived in a very brushy draw, and intended to bushwhack him. He had appeared in a narrow opening the day before and I thought he would do the same while I was prepaired,(not completely paralized with amazment). I was sitting on a ridge about 75yds. from where he should show, and was very intent on that 10' opening. I was wearing a knit hat into which my son had stuck a grouse feather. Leaning against a large snag, I was perfectly still, waiting for the buck to show, when I was hit very hard on the head. I rolled over on the ground to bring my rifle into position to defend myself, but there was no one in sight, but I spotted the culprit right away. A redtail hawk was just then dropping my hat about 40yds. away. I don't know how heavy a mature redtail is, but that one left three deep cuts in my scalp that bled profusely, and he knocked me to the ground.
I believe the brown hat and the feather appeared to be some bird he could eat, so he snatched it. I never saw that buck again, though I hunted him for two more weeks.

Clay Cooper

The definition of the word “DUCK!”

For a Hunter to plunge (to “DUCK!”) the whole body under water to avoid imminent and violent impact of a large waterfowl falling uncontrolled from high altitude of the family Anatidae this also includes geese impaled in flight with a projectile for food

I wonder if those ducks hitting the hunter was there last ditch effort for revenge!


Years ago I was pass shooting canadian geese on a point at a lake. They were flying over, I shot, and the goose I hit looked like it was moving in slow motion toward me. I dropped my gun, put my arms out, caught it, and got knocked on my rear. The landowner just happend to see the event and could hardly contain his laugher. At least I have a witness.


I can honestly say I have never been hit by a Falling Fowl. But have been nearly knocked off my motorcycle. I was driving down a nice country two lane doing 60 mph when a F*&^ sea gull dive bombed some carrion on the asphalt. It went through my wind screen and hit me in the chest. Blood and guts every where and I was now without a windshield with a softball sized bruise to match.

Tom the Troll

Dr. Ralph

Fool that I am, I rode a motorcycle for twenty years. No birds, but a semi tire disintegrated in front of me and a very large piece of rubber hit me directly in the chest at about 70 mph... lost control of the bike when one hand came loose and swerved back and forth but somehow got it stopped with the wind still knocked out of me and laid on the side of the road for at least an hour trying to figure out if I was dying or not. I was in my twenties and still feel it twenty-five years later.

Johnny Swampshooter

Bout 10 years ago I took my buddies Stevie and Dav-O duck hunting. We set up on a crescent shaped ledge overlooking a local bay of Lake Ontario. We were about 30 feet apart, me on the far left, Stevie in the middle and Dav-O to his right. First flock of the day came in to our dekes from the left, I cart-wheeled the 3rd drake green-head leaving the other two for my buddies. Stevie and Dav-O both missed but my drake hit the muddy water inches from Stevie who took a mud-bath. Dav-O fell off his stool backwards he was laughing so hard. As Stevie was cussing and wiping off the mud Dav-O looked up in the tree above him and saw a fat grey squirrel which he promptly shot. The squirrel dazed but not dead fell from the tree right into Stevie's lap. It scared the bejesus out of Stevie who proceeded to jump into the bay. Dav-O having somewhat regained his composure unloaded his other two rounds into Mr. Squirrel just as Stevie raised his head up out of the mucky water; Dav-O's spent casings hitting Stevie on the bridge of his nose and the tip of his nose respectively. Now Dav-O and I were both on the ground laughing our a** off. Stevie pulled his muddy, sopping 1100 from the drink, announced we were both dangerous loud enough for every hunter on our side of the bay to hear, climbed into our row boat and rowed away! Boy some guys just ain't no fun.

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