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Miscues often let the birds fly free

DULUTH -- Things go wrong. Despite our best-laid hunting plans, sometimes things go awry. And the birds go away. Sometimes, it's pilot error. We mess up. Sometimes, it's just the fickle nature of things, the way events unfold. Sometimes, especial...

DULUTH -- Things go wrong. Despite our best-laid hunting plans, sometimes things go awry. And the birds go away.

Sometimes, it's pilot error. We mess up.

Sometimes, it's just the fickle nature of things, the way events unfold.

Sometimes, especially on late-season pheasant hunts, the cold stacks the odds against us.

Here, then, theoretically, is what could happen:

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You might forget to load your gun. I happen to have personal experience with this issue. It usually occurs when, in the name of safety, you unload your shotgun before moving to a different area to hunt, even if you're just walking there. It's the right thing to do. But when you get to the next piece of cover, you neglect to reload. Sure enough, a big rooster gets up at your feet. Nothing is as quiet as the click of the firing pin when you squeeze the trigger.

You might think you're through hunting for a moment. You finish working a patch of grass. You and your buddies are standing around, trying to decide where to hunt next. You break open your double-barrel as a matter of safety. A rooster suddenly erupts into flight from thin cover not 20 feet away. And you can't get your gun together in time for a shot. Your buddies can't shoot because they're screened by you. The rooster flies away.

You can't make a second shot. While your group is hunting a patch of cover, a bird gets up on your side. You miss with your first shot, and you're ready to give him the second barrel. But when you pull the trigger, nothing happens. One hunter to whom this happened said a gunsmith checked his gun. All was well mechanically. This has happened to the hunter only in cold weather. The gunsmith suspects because the hunter was wearing a glove, his trigger finger didn't allow the trigger to reset after the first shot was fired. Again, the rooster flies away unharmed.

Your hat flies off. On a cold Dakota day, you're hunting into the wind. Your hat doesn't want to stay on because of the balaclava you're wearing under it to keep the cold from freezing your face. A rooster gets up. The wind catches the bill of your cap. Your cap goes flying. Your concentration is shot. The bird is not.

Who didn't let the dogs out? You and your buddies are headed down the road in the Suburban, all layered up for a December morning's hunt. You silently take stock to make sure you have everything you need. Gun. License. Shells. Dog whistle. Wait a minute. Your dogs are back at the farm house in their dog trailer. Not to worry. You're only a mile away.

You've already shot that shell. A bird gets up, and you squeeze the trigger, only to find out that the shell in the chamber was the one you fired at the last rooster. You forgot to break open your double-barrel and remove the hull.

Despite all of these travails, we still seem to have a good time out there and shoot a few birds.

Related Topics: HUNTINGSAM COOK
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