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Take a Moment

BucksnDucks

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Aug 27, 2015
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458
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Northern CA
The recent death of a man while elk hunting got me thinking about a past incident I had. It's easy to dismiss the tragedy as people being idiots, uneducated, or hunting slobs. My story is a simple one, easily avoidable and never should have happened. I still have hard time thinking of how stupid I was at that moment.
At that point in my life I was a fairly experienced hunter with around 15 years in the field. I had many successful, safe hunts and may have become a bit complacent. I prided myself as a well educated hunter and perhaps thought I knew it all. A momentary lack of awareness nearly cost myself and my family everything.
I was deer hunting a new area solo that day. I had checked out a few spots, lots of hiking and glassing until a couple hours before sunset. I was driving to a spot that looked great on the map to hike a ridge for the last hour of daylight. I was a little tired and hungry. I recall while driving I was eating a salami sandwich. I think I remember the sandwich because I had to wipe my hands before the shot, you know safety first. I was nearing the spot, and saw a glade with an obvious deer trail. I thought this looks nice, bet there's a buck around here. There was, right at the end of the trail by a scrub oak and thick manzanita. The buck was maybe 100 yards, probably less. This isn't a story about road hunting, so let's not focus on that.
I stopped the truck, wiped salami grease off my hands, and grabbed my unloaded rifle. I got out, loaded my 30-06 and moved behind the truck and just down the bank for a shot. The buck stood there broadside, down slope. I kneeled and shot. The shot felt good but the buck was nowhere insight so I chambered another round. After a minute there was no movement so I went downhill to the spot he was standing to look for blood or the buck. When I returned to the truck I took a steeper route and was climbing up the bank with my rifle in my right hand. BOOM! The hillside directly in front of my face exploded with dirt, my ears ringing. The muzzle was a few inches from my head, pointed straight ahead. A little to the left and I would be dead. It's as simple as that. In my haste after the shot, I either forgot I reloaded or forgot to unload or at a minimum engage the safety. Doesn't really make a bit of difference. A stick must have entered the trigger guard and as I pulled the rifle forward the shot went off.
So that's my story. I'm not proud of it, actually very embarrassing.
Please everyone, just take a moment and don't be a headline. I've responded to a handful of hunting accidents over the years and not all have been rookies or complete dummies. Many have been older, very experienced hunters that just stopped thinking for a moment.
 

jbseamus83

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Jul 8, 2019
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147
Location
SLC UT
Thank you for sharing. Too often, we take for granted that it just 'won't happen to me'. Reminders like this are important.
 

BlakeA

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Dec 13, 2012
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North Dakota
I've been fortunate to have never had an experience like that but a close friend of mine who is a very experienced and successful hunter had a similar event and close call. Good reminder that everything can change for the worse in a split second.
 

TOGIE

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Dec 13, 2017
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1,501
Location
CO
i'm more nervous this year for some reason. elk hunting alone never helps with that...

but nonetheless took the time to buy a 6 dollar orange vest to cut up and clothes pin to the back of my pack. also bought an orange bino harness for this year. i've started to realize than an orange vest with a pack and then a tan bino harness ends up looking like wearing no orange at all on your body.

best to never stop thinking what you can do to yourself too. doesn't have to be other people.
 

JShane

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Dec 15, 2015
Messages
468
Location
Central Florida
Not to Hijack but mine connected, .357 in the holster in my duffle bag with my clothes. Carelessly dropped the bag off my shoulder and it went off. The round grazed the upper inside of my right knee then hit my lower inner left thigh and came out upper top of my thigh. Severed my femoral artery on its way through. I was home luckily and my mom was there opening the front door behind me as it happened. Tourniquet applied by paramedics is the only reason why I'm still here. By-pass surgery to repair the artery, sew the ligament it snapped on the way through and I am right as rain. I was 19 years old at the time, 47 now so almost 30 years since that day, October 16th, 1993. I got lucky no long term effects, no limp, no limitations. Worst pain I ever felt
 

mulecreek

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Nov 16, 2010
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Rock Springs, WY
Great post and great reminder for all of us, regardless of how perfect we believe we are.

I too had an incident about 20 years ago on an antelope hunt with my father. I chambered a round on a buck but decided to let him pass at the last moment. My father and I returned to the truck to move on. I placed my rifle in a gun case in the back seat. While doing so, my father opened the passenger side rear door to put away his pack. With my rifle in the gun case, laying on the rear seat, and my father standing in the door opening of the rear door, the barrel is pointing directly at my father. It was at this point that I remembered I forgot to clear the round from the chamber. Got him moved before I pulled the rifle from the case and removed the round. Closest I have ever been to puking my guts up while hunting. Thinking of what I could have done to him, my mother and my family makes me sick to this day. Lessons like these suck but can be valuable. Learn from others mistakes.
 

LuketheDog

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Nov 29, 2015
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Location
Sedalia, Colorado
was climbing up the bank with my rifle in my right hand. BOOM! The hillside directly in front of my face exploded with dirt, my ears ringing. The muzzle was a few inches from my head, pointed straight ahead. A little to the left and I would be dead. It's as simple as that. In my haste after the shot, I either forgot I reloaded or forgot to unload or at a minimum engage the safety. Doesn't really make a bit of difference. A stick must have entered the trigger guard and as I pulled the rifle forward the shot went off.

My buddy had this same thing happen with his 12-gauge when we were quail hunting in high school. I saw it happen, it was slung over his shoulder as he climbed a bank under some brush and the shot hit the dirt right in front of his face. After a previous shot he'd apparently forgotten that he was carrying his new autoloader instead of his old pump 870, and thus had a live round in the chamber. Woke us all right up!
 

cahunter805

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May 27, 2014
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Good story and reminder about always taking a moment for safety.

As a side note I will never understand the concept of loading a round into the chamber and then putting the safety on. A safety is a mechanical device and it can fail unexpectedly. It literally takes no time at all to work the bolt and load a round. If that split second costs me an animal so be it.
 

Addicting

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Jan 19, 2017
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SW Michigan
I’m not proud to admit it but after my moose was down I put my rifle away. Later, when cleaning out my pocket I was one round short. After some searching I found it still in my chamber. Never had that happen before, I’m normally pretty anal about gun safety.
 

neffa3

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Apr 17, 2015
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Location
Wenatchee
Great post. I actually scared the crap out of myself just two weeks ago. It happened walking back from the truck after a short chukar hunting trip. I was carrying the gun loosely over my off hand, barrel pointed safely up and to the side. Saw some non-hunters and thankfully decided to unload the gun, then commenced the walk carrying the gun the same way. My young pup was circling around and came up behind me and muzzle bumped my off hand elbow. I wasn't expecting it and the gun popped off my arm, spun just a bit and landed downhill with the barrel pointed right at my face. Scared the shit out of me. If I hadn't just unloaded that could have been the end.
 

8andcounting

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Dec 16, 2013
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Good story and reminder about always taking a moment for safety.

As a side note I will never understand the concept of loading a round into the chamber and then putting the safety on. A safety is a mechanical device and it can fail unexpectedly. It literally takes no time at all to work the bolt and load a round. If that split second costs me an animal so be it.
That’s where I’m at .... I never chamber a round until I’m ready to take an animal . Why ? It takes a second at most , and like you said if that “big buck” gets away so be it I’ll live on to hunt another day
 

BucksnDucks

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Aug 27, 2015
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458
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Northern CA
Great post and great reminder for all of us, regardless of how perfect we believe we are.

I too had an incident about 20 years ago on an antelope hunt with my father. I chambered a round on a buck but decided to let him pass at the last moment. My father and I returned to the truck to move on. I placed my rifle in a gun case in the back seat. While doing so, my father opened the passenger side rear door to put away his pack. With my rifle in the gun case, laying on the rear seat, and my father standing in the door opening of the rear door, the barrel is pointing directly at my father. It was at this point that I remembered I forgot to clear the round from the chamber. Got him moved before I pulled the rifle from the case and removed the round. Closest I have ever been to puking my guts up while hunting. Thinking of what I could have done to him, my mother and my family makes me sick to this day. Lessons like these suck but can be valuable. Learn from others mistakes.
There was an incident just like this with a California Game Warden years ago. Warden was checking deer hunters at a vehicle for loaded rifles. Hunter grabbed his loaded rifle by the muzzle from the back seat full of gear. Trigger caught on something and guy was killed on the spot.
 

NoWiser

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Feb 12, 2013
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1,879
Location
Minnesota
My scariest incident wasn't while I was hunting, but after.

Before my wife and I had kids, I had one dedicated "hunting room" in the house. After a trip I could dump all of my dirty clothes and gear in it, shut the door, and deal with it over the next few days. On this trip I had taken my handgun along, as I didn't have a tag. It's unusual for me as I had never before or since carried a sidearm while hunting, but for some reason I decided to bring one on this trip. I got home and dumped everything in the hunting room, including the loaded handgun in my carry holster and zipped up in a case.

The next day, completely out of the blue, my wife's sister stopped by with her 3 young boys (ages 5-10). They hadn't been to our house in probably 2 years, so it was extremely unusual. It never crossed my mind that my gun was laying on the floor of my hunting room. Of course, boys being boys, they went into the room unnoticed by any of us, and decided to play in there. Eventually we herded them out of the room and they left. Later that day I walked back in to start doing laundry and saw my handgun case, still laying exactly where I left it, and still zipped up. The realization that those 3 had played in that room for 20 minutes with a loaded gun on the floor made me sick to my stomach. I still can't believe how stupid I was. It's hard for me to even think about. 364 days that year it wouldn't have been a big deal, but I left that gun there the 1 day we had a visitor with children.

Since that day, a handgun is either in my waistband or in my safe. I won't set one down for even 20 seconds anywhere. I almost just sold them after that. A good lesson that I can't believe I was so dumb to even have to learn.
 

Bambistew

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Dec 10, 2002
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Chugiak, AK
When I was about 17 or 18, I was hunting ducks by myself. I used to shoot an old A5 auto loader. I'd just missed a couple birds and was quickly reloading. I dropped a round into the open chamber, and pushed the button to close it, as I did my gloved finger hit the trigger... and it went off. Scared the crap out of me, and I learned a lesson that day for sure.
 

Quinn

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Aug 7, 2017
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5
Great reminder! Way too easy to get complacent/lazy in the field. I will definitely remember this!
 

3855WIN

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Jul 17, 2014
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2,056
Location
Mississippi
Good story and reminder about always taking a moment for safety.

As a side note I will never understand the concept of loading a round into the chamber and then putting the safety on. A safety is a mechanical device and it can fail unexpectedly. It literally takes no time at all to work the bolt and load a round. If that split second costs me an animal so be it.
I have one in the chamber while stand hunting all the time.
Agree if hiking with rifle slung over my shoulder.
 

Willy Dee

Member
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Sep 5, 2018
Messages
34
Since that day, a handgun is either in my waistband or in my safe. I won't set one down for even 20 seconds anywhere. I almost just sold them after that. A good lesson that I can't believe I was so dumb to even have to learn.

I do the same. No exceptions. This ritual removes any margin for error and establishes a routine that is simple to follow. If it makes you feel any better, I left a couple rounds of 9mm on the kitchen counter. I came back and one was missing. For a few hours, I was convinced my 2 year old son at the time ate it. Google "kids eating ammunition." Luckily, I found it not far from where I left it. Now, I lock it all up.
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