Moron (how not to hunt)

  There was a period of about 10 years when I did not go pheasant hunting. I had (and still have) trouble with a perpetual back sprain. The last time I went I was taking pain medication. My dog was long dead, so it was just me. About an hour away from sundown, I figured my best chance to get a bird was to take a long walk up one side of an abandoned railroad track and walk back down the other. The far side had a huge grain field bordering it. I don't know what the crop was. I don't think wheat, because wheat is packed together close, isn't it? This stuff was fluffy with giant heads of grain hanging down and golden in color. I figured the pheasants would be coming out of the grain to roost in the old railroad right-of-way for the night.

I walked for half an hour and then climbed up to the top of the railroad embankment. Standing there, my little .410 single shot shotgun suddenly went off. I was holding it in my right hand with it pointing at the ground. The shot hit about two inches from my right boot. Moron. I decided right then and there if I had to take painkillers to hunt, maybe I shouldn't hunt.

Badly shaken, I started walking back. I walked along about 30 feet into the field. Soon a giant rooster jumped up and flew right to left back into the field. I dropped him. He would have been hard to find out in that field except he was head shot. When that occurs, they fall on the ground but sometimes still beat their wings. I picked him up and continued on my way. Another rooster jumped up but I missed him. The .410 was my dad's gun when he was a boy in South Dakota. He once shot 22 roosters in a row with it. I could only shoot one in a row, and didn't hunt again for 10 years.


I bought an orange stocking cap to wear hunting. I had it outside in the back of my old 1974 Nova. My girlfriend Margaret (now my wife) was at work one late November night soon after my hunting trip. I was in the living room with her small children. Suddenly, the front door opened and a man walked in. I walked across the room toward him and told him he couldn't come in our house. He backed up to the door, and told me he needed to use the phone. I walked to the front door and again told him he couldn't come in our house. He backed up out the door. He was dressed in a light jacket and did not have a cap on. It was very cold out.

He again asked to use the phone. He wanted to call someone to come and pick him up. I told him he couldn't come in, but if he told me the phone number, I would call for him. He did. I locked the door and called the number. A woman answered. I said a man was outside the door who needed a ride, and he asked me to call this number. She asked me to describe him. I did. She simply said, "Call the police", and hung up. Hmmmm. I unlocked the front door and told the guy the woman wasn't coming to get him. Again, it was very cold outside. I told the man I would give him a hat if he wanted - the orange hunting cap I had in the car. Locking the door behind me, I walked out to the car. As I unlocked the driver side door, he tried to open the passenger side door to get in. It was locked. He looked across the top of the car at me and asked me if I could drive him somewhere. No, I told him, I had children in the house I was watching. Lowering his voice and taking me into his confidence, he told me the police were looking for him. I tossed him the orange hat and told him I had to get back in the house. I pointed out where the park was, and told him he could probably go there. Then, careful that he didn't follow, I went back in the house and locked the door.

I figured if he walked in our house, he would walk in others, I went to the phone and called 911. I told the operator what happened. She told me to hold on a minute. She quickly returned and told me a police officer was in the neighborhood and she wanted my address so he could come right over. I gave it to her. Within several minutes an officer knocked on the door. This guy was staying with his family several houses down from us and had pulled a knife on them, then run out. I gave the officer a description of the man: Short, maybe 5'8", unshaven, light jacket, wearing a brilliant neon orange hunting hat. Within 10 minutes they picked him up at the seven-eleven store 2 1/2 blocks away.

Back to Outdoors