The "Oops" thread

brettlapp

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Jan 26, 2019
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I was just thinking today about some past hunting experiences and I thought I would reach out for some comfort of the guilt that I still carry, although a good teaching experience, it still haunts me to how much worse it could've gone.

So, my "oops" moment, was the first year I ever hunted.. about 8 or 9 years ago.. I'm 29 now, I started hunting later than most. So, I was out with my in-law and we were hunting for deer. We were driving in the pastures of some private property that we had permission to hunt on. It was coming to the end of the day, it was snowy and we had about 6" on the ground. Anyhow, we saw a coyote running in the field ahead and he told me to hop out and shoot him.

So, I did.. I was using his rifle, .270 I believe it was. I chambered a round and I looked for the critter in my scope ( I had trouble with this when I first started ) , by the time I found him, he was topping the hill and it was no longer a safe shot. So he told me to hurry up and get in and we would go through the gate and catch him on the other side, so I did. I slid the rifle in, and proceeded to climb up. I slipped and fell and as I did, I knocked the rifle loose and it came out towards me and I caught it by the butt. Whew. Close call.

As I went to get in again, it slipped again (we were on an angle of a hill and gravity was at work), and when I went to catch it this time, my finger slipped by the side of the trigger and it went off. In the cab. Ears ringing, and in complete shock of what happened, I looked at my in-law and he asked if I was okay and I asked him and I apologized profusely, although he was frustrated he was more concerned that we were both okay.

Then came the next step, which was identifying whether I damaged the pickup.. we had a 2 hour drive from the middle of a pasture to get home. It was running terribly rough, but we didn't notice any fluids dripping in the snow, nor gauges moving. So, we proceeded to leave. He tried to make the situation lighter by suggesting we go check another spot for some deer, but I was adamant about being done. I was so embarrassed and frustrated at myself I didn't ever want to hunt again.

Fast forward 9 years, I will not allow loaded weapons in my vehicles nor will I get in a vehicle with a loaded weapon, and we will only chamber a round when we are ready to shoot. I've been teaching my children this same lesson that I learned the hard way.

Ultimately, the only damage was a hole through the exhaust. It missed some very vital lines, by inches.

I'm thankful for my in-law as he is the one that's taught me all I know and I'm much safer around weapons now and therefor have "learned my lesson"

What are your stories? I'm not alone, I hope.
 

406LIFE

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Bitterroot Valley, MT
Thanks for the story. Im glad it has focused hour desire to be safety vigilant. Unfortunately, those that I meet that are this way have a sinilar story, myself included. I hope others can just see they dont want to be in a situation like this.
 

NR_Hunter

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MN
You a big man to admit that story, OP. As embarrassing as it was, we're all better for the reminder to be safe. I can promise you there is not coyote on planet earth worth shooting more than following proper safety protocol.
 

Gerald Martin

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I was in an elk hunting camp a couple years ago with several friends. One of the hunters had his wife hunting with him. He was carrying with a round in the chamber and didn't unload the gun until he returned to the truck. She was on the passenger side and opened the back door and put her pack on the back seat then shut the door and got into the front seat. He proceeded to put his gun off safe to work the bolt and unload the round. The rifle fired through the door she had been standing in front of a few moments before and passed about a foot behind her back. He was incredibly shaken.
 

MTTW

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Montana
When I was about 17, my dad, my brother, and I went fishing on the Yellowstone river walking from the Pine creek fishing access in Paradise Valley. We usually carried a foreign made short barreled .38 revolver in the fishing bag. After a half a day of excellent fishing with salmon flies, and not seeing a single boat on the river, we returned to the pickup planning to move to another spot. While trying to get the door open on the truck, I tilted the bag far enough for the pistol to roll out. It landed on the hammer between me and the truck with a deafening bang. I stood there for a few seconds checking myself for leaks, then looking for a hole in the truck. I found neither.

When I look back on that day, the most amazing thing that comes to mind is, we were the only truck in the lot, and we didn't see any boats. It was the last week of June 1979, I am sure glad that bullet took whatever route it took.
 
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Upper Mississippi River
When I was 12 years old my Grandfather My Brother and I were going Duck hunting and had a blind on a farm pond. We had about a 1/2 mile walk from where we parked to the blind.
One morning when walking down there the three of us were walking side by side with my Grandfather holding the Dog on a leash and his gun in the same hand. Well the dog tugged and his Over & Under went off both barrels in the pitch black of night. Both barrels went into the ground right by the dog missing it and all of us unharmed.
Why he had it loaded in the first place, I do not know. I have never trusted Dogs around Guns to this day and I always keep a good eye on my Grandfather after that.
 
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JTHOMP

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Oct 3, 2017
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Louisiana
My eye opener for wearing a safety harness was when hunting out of a climber. While sitting and pressing my knees against the front bar of the climber, it slipped and immediately fell straight to the bottom. Not sure what the chances were for the bottom getting knocked off, but it was a lesson learned.

I am fortunate to never have had an oops with a gun and very fortunate when thinking about some things I did when I was younger, unsupervised, and considered myself old enough to do certain things with a gun. Climbing into a stand and jumping across creeks with it loaded, and playing with my dad's pistol comes to mind. One of the things I have very much appreciated from HuntTalk and following platforms such as Randy and Meateater is discussions on safety as it provides new perspectives.

Thanks OP and others that share their stories. They can't be told enough. I hope we can all take these experiences into considering when teaching new hunters as well as keeping our own self discipline in check.
 

Straight Arrow

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Gallatin Gateway, MT
The Remington 700 has been well known to have safety mechanism problems, even to the point of lawsuits and investigations. After a day of hunting, I was unloading my 70's vintage Remington 700 7mm mag as typically done by cycling the bolt to ensure proper operation and ejecting cartridges to empty the magazine. The bolt only opened when the safety was on "fire" position, but there had not been a problem for thirty years so I merely pointed the rifle muzzle down inside the driver's side of the Dodge pickup. With fingers nowhere near the trigger, I closed the bolt to cycle a cartridge into the chamber to then eject it, when KAPOW! ... I shot the only Ram ever shot by me. The bullet traveled through the firewall into the engine compartment and blew a hole in the diesel fuel filter, creating serious fuel leakage. Although relieved that the round did not do the damage it could have potentially done, still I was parked way off the beaten path at a remote trailhead. The attempt to stuff and seal the fuel filter housing with duct tape was not completely successful, so off I drove to try to get to somewhere for repair. Realizing the fuel leak would not allow reaching anywhere for repair, once on an established road, the call was made for a tow. A few hundred dollars bought repairs and a new fuel filter housing; it was a lucky ending for the Ram shot. The capable Helena Capitol Sports store gunsmith dismantled the rifle, replaced the safety mechanism with one which allows opening and closing the bolt on "safe". He charged me $25 and recouped the remainder of his bill from Remington through their safety recall. A broken corner of the hood release latch reminds me of the issue, the need for safety awareness ... and to "always point the muzzle in a safe direction"!!!
 

brettlapp

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Jan 26, 2019
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Thank you guys for your replies! I'm glad I'm not alone on the Oops train. I'm also thankful for a community willing to talk about these things so that we can all learn from mistakes and keep each other safe!

Keep it coming!
 

COEngineer

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Jul 6, 2016
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I have never had an accidental discharge, but I witnessed one that scared the crap out of me (and contributed to my tinnitus). Two friends of mine (all of us about 13 yrs old at the time) and our dads were walking single file into a field to chase pheasants. My friend in the front of the line had his shotgun over his shoulder and we pretty much all hunted with one in the chamber from the time we left the truck. For some unknown reason, the kid in front had his safety off and his finger in the trigger guard. He stumbled and when he gripped the shotgun he accidentally pulled the trigger. Luckily, the #4 12-ga shot didn't hit anyone behind him in the line...

I can't help but try to find a pattern in these stories..."It's these guys that didn't grow up around guns"..."It's people that are around guns all the time and get lax in their safety"...but it really seems like there is almost no rhyme or reason. It's just people making bad decisions.

Thanks for starting this thread. We cannot be reminded too often to treat every gun like it's loaded and never point at anything you don't want to destroy.
 

mdunc8

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Not Virginia anymore!
I took a buddy dove hunting in college. I made the mistake of thinking he had grown up around guns. One of us dropped a dove in a cornfield and we were both out there trying to find it. I was surprised by a shot immediately behind me that I also felt the blast of. I looked up for birds, but didn't see any. I turned around to find a gun on the ground a couple feet behind me pointed just to my left and my buddy with the most terrified look on his face. Apparently he had found the bird and laid the gun down to pick it up. When he did so, a corn stalk hit the trigger and sent a round of 7s just past my legs.
 

Europe

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brett lap

we have had a ton of "opps" things happen over the years. Our pick up float plane forgetting the lake where they dropped us off, canoe over turning on us, finding a cliff over hang in the mountains after dark for shelter from an unexpected storm only to find out in the a.m., it was an overhang that obviously goats also used--a lot in the past. But rifle wise, the most dramatic, and painful for me was my 450/400 firing in rapid succession . It was not a double discharge, it was total self inflicted, I shot the first barrel and the recoil caused me to pull the second trigger almost instantaneously --I cried like a baby. Fortunately for me the first shot brought the animal down because the second shot was somewhere over the intended target.
 

HSi-ESi

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Nov 1, 2012
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Missoula, MT
Two stories.

First, I was 16 or so. It was during the summer and my older brother came home for a bit and brought a friend to visit. She had never been around guns. We decided a prairie dog shoot would be fun, so we went out for the day. I explained / taught safety lessons before we started, then we would walk / stop / shoot at different mounds that were within range of the .22. Me or my brother would carry the gun (we only brought 1 that day) in between shoots. On the last one, she asked if she could carry the rifle. I made sure it didn't have a round in the chamber, and we started walking (50 or so yards). I stopped and turned around to see how she was doing - and she was looking down the barrel of the gun. I looked down at the end of the bolt and saw that it was cocked. I calmly asked her to hand me the rifle carefully, then raised it to my shoulder and squeezed the trigger. There was a live round in the chamber - so she must have loaded it while walking. I just walked back to the truck with the gun.

Second, a friend wanted to "get back into hunting". We went to one of my elk spots - and started hiking up the trail. I remembered I hadn't given any safety talk - so I stopped and we started chatting. I told him no chambered rounds till we have an elk spotted - and he said that was how he liked to do it. I asked if he had a chambered round - he said no. I said - you check my gun and I'll check yours. Mine was empty. His was loaded, safety off. I asked him when he loaded the round and he said he didn't remember. I'm sure that gun was loaded in the bed of the truck bouncing up to the trailhead. We don't hunt together anymore.

No rounds fired - thank goodness - but I'm pretty anal now about safety.
 

BigHornRam

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"Land of Giant Rams"
I was hunting antelope with some friends when we bumped a good buck and he took off running down a fence line. I thought I could cut him and took off running towards the fence, lost my balance, and planted my rifle barrel into the mud. The buck then came to stop at 60 or so yards just begging me to shoot him. I looked at my plugged barrel and could only watched him walk away. Year or two later I learned about covering the barrel with electric tape, but haven't stuck my gun in the mud since then either.
 
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