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January 09, 2009

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Bourjaily: "Claimers"

Claiming – shooting at the same time as someone else, then hollering “I got it!” –  ranks fairly high on the list of ways to annoy to your hunting partners. I try only to say “Nice Shot!” on the rare occasions I shoot at the same bird as someone else.

I had a bird claimed from me when I first started hunting and never forgot it. I  started late, as a college senior,  but I was still young enough to think of myself as a kid among adults when I went with my dad and his friends. An acquaintance of my dad’s named Bill, a real grownup, but probably closer in age to me than to my dad, came with us one day. As we walked a creek bottom, the one rooster of the day flushed between us. Bill and I both shot, me from the left, Bill from the right. Having shot all of two pheasants thus far in my life, I was thrilled to see this one crash to Earth.  The bird was still barely alive when I picked it up. Bill grabbed it from me and dispatched the pheasant by twisting its head all the way off.  He said: “I got it, but you can have it.” Then he handed me the headless pheasant. Gee, thanks, Bill.

Later, when I plucked the bird, I found all the holes were on the left side.

A couple of years ago there was an outfit selling shotshells loaded with colored pellets. You could get all yellow, all red, all blue and all green. The idea was, everyone in your group would shoot a different colored shell, thereby settling any claims come cleaning time. The people I hunt with give one another a chance to shoot, so colored pellets wouldn’t much matter to us. If had to use blue or green pellets to know if I hit a bird, I would find a different group to hunt with.


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Jim in Mo

That happens all the time in the dove fields. If its a young hunter next to me I let him claim his prize and congradulate him. As far as adults go, those sort of guys have the 'game hog' gene in them and usually don't mind shooting over their limit either.

WA Mtnhunter

It happens all the time, even elk hunting. Last year, one of our group shot an elk and it ran a couple of hundred yards before running by another member of our group who dropped it as it was getting out of gun range. The first guy that shot wanted to claim the elk, but the second guy tagged it. It almost caused some hard feelings. I think duck hunters are the worst. Most of them think that every bird they shoot at is theirs even if it is still flying when you shoot it. I usually try to avoid repeat hunts near those lower life forms.


As Jim said the Dove field is a place to locate these types with regularity. I once spent and other wise enjoyable afternoon on an active field as I watched one fellow claim and pick up birds in all directions, some over 150 yards away from his stool. He shot at every bird and I do mean "bird" he saw. He did manage to hit a few of the doves he collected for himself.

After I had shot a limit of doves, of which he picked up every bird, I unloaded and watched my wife shoot. After about 30 minutes the local game warden visted the field. Having observed the field for a while, he went straight to the guy, found all his hidden birds, made a count, and wrote a very long ticket!

On his way out with said dip stick in tow, the warden stopped at my stand and said, "You are a very generous man!" Smiled and kept on walking...

WA Mtnhunter

Way to go Beekeeper!

I have two of the local game cop's cell numbers and they are never too far away from our waterfowl haunts. WA has a three strikes law (3 in 10 years) for game violations that will result in loss of license.

"Sign here, press hard, second copy's yours".


O yeah Nothing ruins a good day like poor sportsmanship and greed.

….and if you’re and/or others are a better wingshot you can see how ugly Jealousy becomes.

Chad Love

Are you kidding? Claiming's the best way to bring home birds.

Hey, it's a tough world out there and if you don't assert yourself, look out for #1 and take what rightfully belongs to someone else then you're just going to get left behind with all the other courteous losers out there.

It's also a great way to conserve shotgun shells. All you have to do is shoulder your gun and then yell "got that sumbitch" as soon as the other guy shoots.
So you get the bird AND save a shell.
Trust me, your bird to shells expended ratio will skyrocket because obviously you don't claim shots the other guys miss.

BTW, I'm looking for some new wingshooting partners. Anyone game?


Wish I had had some of those different colored pellets a few years ago when I used to hunt with people that sound remarkably like some described above. Quail on a covey rise and flocks of doves were always an invitation for someone who
couldn't hit the side of a barn from the inside to claim a bird that fell in your lap. Best one I remember was a hunter ? that had earlier missed a squirrel on a limb with a 12 gauge walking across a forty acre field to claim a dove because he said "You were only shooting a 16 gauge."


One buddy in college used to claim "dibs" on various species. When hunting with him, it wasn't unusual to end the day with a bag of half a ringneck and 1 and a half rabbits.

The other problem when you're hunting with a chronic dibber is that you have to adopt the habit merely to defend yourself. Once I shouted out "dibs!" even before I pulled the damn trigger.


Yeah, and just because your dog snatches the bird it doesn't mean it is yours, either!


One of the many reasons I do not hunt anymore.

30 years ago I was new to pheasant hunting. After my missing several birds, my hunting partner was nice enough to fire a fraction of a second after another one of my missed birds, and then tell me what a great shot I was, and that he could not believe he had finally missed. What a great guy.

Scott in Ohio

Chad, I laughed out loud at your comment! - Too funny.

Actually, just three hours ago I got back from a great small game hunt with my neighbor, Jack. Only our second time hunting together, we managed to each shoot a pheasant and both missed 2 rabbits a piece. He's very safety conscious with his gun, (I don’t hunt with people twice who aren’t) and we split the game bag evenly no matter who shot what.

To top things off this was my Lab’s first pheasant hunt (we mainly hunt waterfowl) and she performed very well. The second bird (lightly hit) took us over 40 minutes to track and find – the damn thing was running us in circles!

The stock market is down again ? – Who cares! I just had a GREAT day in the field with my dog.

Jim in Mo

Scott in Ohio,
If I had a day like you I wouldn't have any cares till I woke up tomorrow, but mentioning the market down just upset me again. My bank notified me that my money market CD combo account has been renewed at 1.65%. What! Yea I know, go to Cd's , I have, but I have to keep SOME money liquid so I can search for a house this summer when my child support expires (halleluah). There's got to be something better out there, hell my matress can hold my money just as well.
Sorry, I just had to rant after this recent news. Good hunting, Jim


"Claimers" may be the only people brave enough to steal from somebody with a gun in their hand though.


A nice reminder to be a good sportsman.


If you're not man enough to keep the "claimer" from getting your bird...... you don't deserve said bird.

Survival of the Fittest.

Or the most rude.


Reminds me of the early '60's when deer hunting was just getting started. A deer might be shot several times befor it expired with several people ready to fight over it. One guy stopped for a cup of coffee on the way home only to return to his truck finding the spike buck stolen.. great sportsmanship...


Sort of reminds me about the behavior of seagulls when one finds a scrap of food (or trash) and the rest scream and try to steal it!
I don't even argue in those situations anymore. It's not worth the aggravation and it's not yet a point of survival. I suspect if the economy gets any worse "claimer" situations could get downright ugly if not dangerous.

Scott in Southern Illinois

Just like in Finding Nemo: "Mine, Mine, Mine"
I, fortunately, have only hunted with one guy like that. We farmed about 1200 acres when I was growing up and hunting doves in September was a right of passage. In the 70s here, doves were like dog p*cker gnats and everybody had plenty. It seems even during those times there were those who had to be "the best shot" all the time.

Jim in Avon

Claiming occurs not only in the hunting field, but occasionally on the Skirmish Line as well.

Skirmishing, as done in the North-South Skirmish Association, is the shooting sport where teams using Civil War-era weaponry shoot to break sets of targets in competition with other teams against the clock.

( http://www.n-ssa.org )

When the buzzer sounds, it's hell-for-leather as each of eight shooters on the dozens of competing teams tries to eliminate his or her two or four assigned targets as fast as the equipment and individual ability will allow. After theirs are busted, the shooters move their muzzles down the target frame, cleaning up their teammates' missed birds, blocks, etc. until all the targets are gone or the time runs out.

Part of the individual's responsibility is keeping track of his or her "hits," so the most successful shooters can be placed on the "A" team, etc.

Most skirmishers are scrupulous about this tally, difficult as it may be to keep amid the black powder smoke and din. But there are a few shooters who invariably claim any target that breaks within five seconds or so of when they torched off their round.

But it doesn't take long for other team members to notice that ol' Harry, who can't put five minies in the scoring rings on an individual bullseye target, has become too hot to touch in the team event. The careful eyes start to monitor the fellow, and the truth is soon confirmed. Disgrace follows shortly thereafter.


I don't bird hunt but just a few weeks ago I was at a "turkey shoot" at the local gun range.

The targets were set at 100 yards and consisted of several "turkeys" about 6" wide with 4 rings superimposed. It was all for fun but when the shooting was done you went down range and scored the target to your left.

So the Bozo next to me starts scoring his own target as fast as he can. When I say, "Here, let me help you with that." He says, "Oh! OK! Just be sure to count where I broke the rings..." Then he fingered and fondled a few bulletholes until they tore up to the edge of the next highest ring.

I didn't give him the extra points and in my book, he lost quite a few points for "character" too!

dale freeman

Hey Zack;
I'll give you a lottery ticket for that man.
What a pleasure it must be to hunt with this man.

Brian T

Ah, life's too short. Split the bag. My partner is my hunting buddy, she's become quite a good shot. Some days, I'd just as soon sit back and watch her do all the work on the birds.


It all comes down to sportsmanship. Small game doesnt bother me that much its just the pettiness etc. It really hurts it involves big game. I know a young guy who worked hard to get his first moose and when he returned with help to load it someone else had removed his tag and claimed it. Another elder gent I used to hunt with shot an elk after several days of hard work and by time he worked his way to where it was in the rough terrain around a creek another hunter was gutting it. He had heard no shot and was physically unable to hunt elk after that season. As his health failed I helped him fill his deer tag for several more seasons and can still see him grinning as he joined his buddies in the local coffee shop and proudly announcing his buck tag was filled. Most persons character is consistent regardless what they are doing so we just have to choose to be around those who add to our lives in a positive manner.


My son had his first deer claimed. He was 16 and two older men(?) came up and said it was theirs - they had wounded it and were tracking it down.


Yep, have had it happen while pheasent hunting. I won a hunt at a shooting preserve for pheasant one time and was hunting with my boss and the CFO. The CFO was an a$$ and shot slightly worse then Stevie Wonder. However he magically hit _every_ bird that got up. Later in the day we shot sporting clays and he somehow lost his touch. He let us know that he "was one of those guys who can't hit clays but is deadly on birds". Yea, right. We laughed about it for years, even gave him a white cane at Chrismas for his next great hunt. He was pissed. He eventually left the company to "pursue other interests".


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