Hunting has been my lifelong passion and almost nothing can keep me out of the woods. Except when I get shot at.
Hunting on private land is a coveted privilege. I have had written permission on a certain farm for well over a decade now.
I mostly hunted rabbits and squirrels there, and I shared the woods occasionally with a deer hunter. It has been absolute bliss hunting the land, and the landowner has become strong enough a friend that I send Christmas cards to him every year.
That was, until something happened that made me rethink the entire situation.
The early morning had me parking my red truck in the lot up front, and I had the woods to myself. No one else out there.
Snow was on the ground, and I put on my blaze orange safety vest as I always do. I now I’m pretty much the only one with a gun out there, but better safe than sorry.
I set off with my old trust Remington Model 11 loaded up with #6 shot for close-in shots at rabbits that I knew were there. I had managed to get two rabbits from my last hunt there, and I was eager for more.
That is when I saw them: two beautiful coyotes hunting mice in the snow, oblivious to me even being there. The stalk across the open mowed field was on.
I would walk a little, then kneel down, all in the open field. I felt like a day-glow orange light bulb, but the coyotes did not notice.
POP POP POP! Behind me, from the farmhouse, pistol shots rang out. The coyotes looked at me and bolted. I looked back and tried to see who was shooting.
I took the shells from my shotgun and headed back to the parking area. The landowner and two other younger men were there, and when I asked they all denied shooting.
One sneered at me and said “No I didn’t shoot!” and walked away.
Hunting paradise was lost that day, due to ignorance. This man shot over a hunter in blaze orange, in a white, snowy, totally open field. Coyotes or not, I wasn’t aware of anyone else that could possibly be there, and instead my life was in danger.
I was not sure if it was on purpose, meant to scare away my game, scare myself or just out of plain ignorance. The landowner I thought as a friend covered for the “shooter,” and for all I know could have been the shooter himself.
The property worked in cooperation with the state to allow hunters access, and all I could really do in the end was leave a message for the game warden.
Unfortunately, I will never return to that property. I am very thankful I was not hit by those bullets and that my wife, who usually accompanies me on hunts there, was not present to witness that ignorance.
We wear blaze orange and try to hunt safely, but we always need to be aware of our surroundings. Anything we see unsafe or unlawful, needs to be reported immediately to the proper authorities.
All I want to pass on is a message to be safe out there, and while you’re watching for your quarry, also be sure to watch out for the other guy.