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June 11, 2008

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Why Die When You Can Leave?

Two years ago, just after our beloved Vice President shot a fellow quail hunter in the face, I found myself explaining to a couple of non-hunting friends just how such a thing could occur. Quail hunting, I said, is a sport in which things happen very quickly and often don't go the way you expect. I told them that quail often fly toward you, or between shooters, or that dogs jump at the birds, and that all things considered, in 40 years of hunting quail, I'd probably held off firing as many times as I'd shot.

I've also walked off hunts and away from shoots where I thought the participants might blow my head off. Many years ago, at a shoot put on for gun writers by what was then a major firearms maker, the genius running the affair put a brand-new shooter in the number one spot on a trap squad with four very experienced shooters. I was in the number two spot. A fast trap squad can unhinge some people, and it unhinged this guy. He put a shot into the ground right in front of me; a foot closer and I would have had no foot.

I didn't yell at him but I did yell at some length at the guy who put him there and then I walked off the squad. I've also walked off a quail hunt in Texas, and off a whitetail drive on a cottonwood island in Montana, and off a nilgai hunt in Texas after the hunter behind me sent a rifle bullet past my head.

If you would like to see the kind of stuff you should walk away from, take a look at this video clip. Despite its intent, it ain't funny. These clowns could have shot themselves or someone else. I would not stay within a mile of morons like these.


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Brian T

Years ago, I was invited to go goose hunting by a guy who subsequently poured scotch on his corn flakes and drove to/from the set-up with a case of beer between his feet. Never, ever again. Not ever.

Dr. Ralph

What about those cops? Supposedly government trained professionals. The first one looks like Adam Pac-man Jones in the parking lot of a Las Vegas strip club and the "my dad wanted a son little girl cop" in the second clip just about took out her partner and the perp. Not exactly confidence inspiring, but police have cameras on them a lot so pretty much whenever they screw up it's on tape.

Dr. Ralph

Ripper III I feel your pain, literally. I got used to 2 3/4" upland hunting loads and when I started seeing Turkeys in the late '80s I decided to man up to the 3" Magnum Turkey loads. OUCH... Not until I fired my neighbor's 3 1/2" H&R single shot with those candlestick shells did I know what recoil was all about. Makes a .375 H&H Magnum feel like a warm caress.


We don't allow accidents.


Dr. Ralph,
it was definitely an "eye opener" for me....and humbling...I'll be hunting turkey at a bit closer ranges...

B. Cameron

Ripper, Dr. Ralph ... I had the distinct (dis)pleasure of getting a dot sight on-target with 3.5" mags. Seven shells later, with a tingly right arm, I decided it was close enough.

Three weeks after that, the turkey disagreed.

Del in KS

A few years ago a young fellow killed his father in law near our farm in KS. He shot at a quail that flew between them on a covey flush and hit the old man in the face with a load of sixes at close range.
About recoil my first modern Turkey gun was a Browning stalker in 10 guage. The 2.25 oz lead Turkey loads gave me a bluse shoulder and a sore jaw with only one shot. After having it ported it was only slightly less brutal. Sold it and got a Benelli SBE which is a (comparatively speaking) kitten. Both guns bagged Toms beyong the 50 yd mark.

Del in KS

Oops thats a blue shoulder as in bruised.


I especially don't understand these boyfriend types. What a way to kill two birds (or several) with one stone. Not only do they almost cause an accident, they ruin the sport for a new shooter and now they have a mad woman to deal with. Relationships 101 should've told them to give the ladies a lighter shooting gun. If she's not around anymore at least he'll have the video memory of his fun times with her.

But I've seen people do this for a joke with kids and adult men too. The gun we might use most often, think is most useful or think would be most fun for the newbie to shoot is not necessarily the best choice. The brevity of getting one's jollies from such a spectacle is short compared to the harm that can be done to another person or our sport.

Mike Reeder

I've been around a couple of people over the years who allowed their muzzles to wander across my mid-section. I gave them unholy hell and with a single exception -- my brother-in-law -- never hunted with them again. In his case, I never trusted him again. However, the all-timer for me happened during an antelope hunt in Wyoming back in '85. It was a do-it-yourself trip I put together for me and a couple of buddies, and we were sleeping out of a tent near the rancher's house along with two or three other groups hunting the 25,000 acre property. I was talking to a friend when I saw a teenage kid walking our way with his rifle in hand. He asked us if we could help him out, because his "top was stuck." We finally figured out, after a lot of questioning, that the "top" he referred to was the bullet on a .308 cartridge that he had tried to force feed into his 7mm-08 rifle with such force that the bullet remained in the chamber when he wrenched the cartridge loose. He had tried to feed another cartidge into the chamber with the idea of shooting the other bullet loose, but thought he better ask someone else first, since his dad wasn't sure if that was the best way to solve his problem. We dislodged the bullet, lectured him nine ways from Sunday and then unloaded on his father just to make sure everyone got the point. We also checked to see which pasture they were hunting, and made darn sure to never skylight ourselves on a ridge the rest of that week. Still gives me cold shivers to think about it.

Dr. Ralph

` Del my brother in law had the 10 ga Browning black synthetic and it's mild compared to a light weight single shot. Plus the 10 ga is pushing about the same load as the 12 out of a bigger tube which reduces recoil... but don't get me wrong, that BPS 10 ga. will knock your fillings loose and make you write bad checks.


Dave Petzal,
This was a very good and meaningful post with a message deeper than many of the more common discussions in the blog. Thanks for posting the message and, unfortunately, those people who should read it are probably not in the audience who received it!!!

Steve Ferber

I'd seen part of that video before but, again, couldn't stand watching it through this time. I once saw a woman shot in the face and body with #8s, quail hunting. She was 60 yards away from a the very experienced hunter who shot her at the time, and several pellets still managed to puncture her skin. His 20-gauge gun was choked Improved cylinder.

As a freshman in high school, though I didn't witness the event, a good friend was shot in the shoulder with a 12-gauge by another young kid walking 20 feet behind him in thick cover.

A gun writer situated next to me while half-crawling up a steep hill (in Texas I think) during a writer's seminar, let loose a rifle round intended for a deer, quite prematurely. I can still feel the sting of the dirt the .30-06 kicked up in my face.

Sometimes, you just 'never know'. Like defensive auto driving, I'm always watching the gun handling of strangers with whom I'm occasionally partnered in a duck blind or upland bird shoot. Also, I too, have walked off trap squads for the same reasons as Dave. Interestingly, only the far less experienced shooters complain.



Next time you post a vid -- do us a courtesy and tell that it's off topic.

Mr. Smith

I second that, Girly videos might be interesting but many of us access this blog from somewhere other than home...get my drift? I rather not be called in by my boss over something stupid like that...no?

I agree with the two above posts. If you want to post a girly video at least tell us so that those of us that don't want to see that stuff or are at a place where we can't won't go to the link


...how'd I miss the girlie vid?

Brian T

Dr. Ralph: Sold both my 3.5" Nova and Stoeger shotguns. Never did a goose hunt which used more than 8 loads per day in the Nova. Never had the nerve to shoot a 3.5" load in the much lighter Stoeger!


Bill C. used to tell me the only reason they built magnum shotguns was so the Cajuns in South Louisiana could hear noise and feel pain when they pulled the trigger!
I tried a magnum shotgun once! And only once!
I have a friend that comes up turkey hunting every spring. He shoots a Mossberg 12 ga. 3 1/2 in mag. He has yet to kill a turkey with one shot. So far everything has taken at least two shots, one required three! I shoot a plain jane Rem 870 with a 3" chamber. The only thing I shoot (for turkey) is 2 3/4 inch Rem/Win hi-vel 7 1/2's or 8's. I have yet to shoot a turkey more than once and consistently take toms out to the 40 yd mark. Last one weighed 22 pounds and had a double beard!

P.S. Recoil! Bah! Humbug! It ain't worth it!


Concerning the video; exceptions including the fakes, the idiots are those who let the inexperienced shoot without proper instruction concerning stance/shooting position, recoil management, and safety. The T-Rex is not a rifle for most people so what does one expect?
As far as the scope black eye goes, that is a common occurrence with short eye relief scopes, heavy recoil, and poor shooting position. I genuinely feel sorry for the shooters who were not instructed properly. That is the type of video the anti-gun crowd loves to get a copy of.
Now, I want to say a word about the Browning 10 gauge stalker w/synthetic stocks.
I have had one w/a 24" barrel since 1990. I requested the 24" barrel because I use it for hunting deer with buckshot from a climbing tree stand. Recoil is moderately heavy with a 31/2" load of # 4 buckshot (54 pellets), but I have patterned the buckshot loads off of a bench and did not bruise my shoulder. I have used it duck and goose hunting shooting Winchester Drylock steel loads and I can shoot those in a T-shirt. The recoil with Tungsten matrix turkey loads are somewhere between the steel shotshells and buckshot shells. I have a box of 10 gauge foster slugs, but I have not yet had the opportunity to shoot any. I love the shotgun and have taken many deer, ducks, and geese during the last 18 years I have had it. In my humble opinion the 31/2" Mossberg 835 has much more felt recoil than my Browning 10. The saddest thing about the 10 gauge is that it once again has become a has been. It was very popular during the 80's/ and early 90's when steel shot became mandatory everywhere and steel was the only approved non toxic shot in town. The 31/2" 12 gauge load pretty much supercedes the 10 gauge now due to the versatility of the 12 gauge. The 31/2" 12 gauge shotgun is one shotgun fits all from doves to turkey. Ever take a 10 gauge dove hunting?
One last point about the 24" barrel. One doesn't need a 30" barrel to reach out and touch the long range targets. The Browning with its invector chokes and backbored barrel hols really tight patterns at long ranges. I have made shots that my hunting buddies said if they hadn't seen it, they wouldn't have believed it possible from a 24" barrel.
Okay, off the soapbox as I whimper and cradle my poor Browning has been.

WA Mtnhunter

My son has a BPS 10 ga. I quit shooting it. I got tired of getting my head wet in the rain every time it kicked me out from under my hat. My 870 with 3 1/2 BBB loads kicks hard enough for me.

With a Pattern Master ER choke, my 26" 870 drops the geese as far out as the long barrel jobs.


Well I must have gotten the golden goose because I swear it (the BPS 10 gauge) kicks less than some 12 gauges I have fired.
I used to have people tell me about how bad the recoil from a bolt action 30-06 was. I bought a Wal-Mart Winchester Model 70 w/a synthetic stock (some folks call'em pathetic stocks, I call'em synthetic stocks). I can shoot several boxes of shells in it wearing just a tee shirt.
It is definitely strange how rifles of the same brand will behave differently. Many years back, a police officer friend of mine had a Remington 742 BDL Woodsmaster (the deluxe version). He brought it over and had me shoot it. I shot it 3 times and handed it back to him and told him it blurred my vision. He said "yep, it blurred mine too."
Some years later I traded for a used Remington 742 in the ADL version. I can shoot it as long as I want and the felt recoil is comfortable. I still have it and will probably give it to one of my sons since I don't use it anymore. I've downsized to a .308 M1A SOCOM 16 and it does all I want. Funny though how recoil can be so different in the same model rifle or shotgun.

Clay Cooper

The most dangerous person I ever hunted with was the Chief of Safety!

The most nervous place and the most dangerous place are on a firing line with Law Enforcement Personnel! Go count the bullet holes around you in the structure on the firing line then compare it with a public range!

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