The Biggest Danger in the Woods - Texas Fish & Game - November 2012 The Biggest Danger in the Woods - November 2012 People, not bears, or mountain lions, or wolves, or UFOs, or Bigfoot, are the biggest danger in the woods. They are a danger to others and a danger to themselves. And the less experienced they are, the greater a danger they are. by Steve LaMascus
People, not bears, or mountain lions, or wolves, or UFOs, or Bigfoot, are the biggest danger in the woods. They are a danger to others and a danger to themselves. And the less experienced they are, the greater a danger they are.
One day many years ago, I was a young Border Patrol agent stationed in Laredo, Texas. Our territory included the rugged miles and miles of the Mexican Border between Laredo and the Maverick County line, where the agents stationed in Eagle Pass and Carrizo Springs took over. I loved to work that country because it is as close as you can get to untrammeled wilderness in Texas.
This particular day I was working about 20 miles north of Laredo, signcutting (tracking). I was on foot, walking a trail that was left by a group of illegal aliens as they attempted to enter the U.S. without going through the proper channels. I had found their tracks where they crossed the old Mines Road (named for the large but little known Palafox Coal Mine that sits almost on the banks of the Rio Grande) and had been following their tracks for an hour or more. I knew I was getting closer by the way the sign looked, so I had called Laredo Sector for an airplane to assist me as my partner took the vehicle and drove the roads and senderos ahead of me, trying to find where they had crossed. Since he had not cut their tracks in front of me, I suspected that I was very close.
I had my head down, intently looking for sign (you almost never track a man, you find sign of his passing, with a track just often enough to keep you on the right trail). Suddenly I had a funny feeling that someone was watching me and looked up to see a deer blind a hundred yards or so off to my right. I glanced at the deer blind and then did a double take. A second look revealed a rifle barrel sticking out of the blind, and the barrel was pointing at me. I had no place to go so I stopped and looked more closely at the blind. Sitting there was a deer hunter, intently watching me through the scope of his rifle.
Dropping the trail, I walked over to the blind, where I apologized to the hunter for spoiling his morning hunt. Then I told the blithering idiot that if he ever pointed a loaded rifle at me again he had better pull the (expletive deleted) trigger, because if he didnt I was going to stick it so far down his throat that it would hit daylight before yesterdays breakfast.
He quickly apologized and admitted that he had not thought of the fact that he was pointing a loaded, high-powered rifle at a human being. He just didnt have any binoculars and was wanting to see me better through his scope. The fact is, however, that he could very easily have killed me without intending to, and that is how so many of the accidents that happen in the woods are caused.
Since the initiation of the Hunter Safety Classes in the State of Texas, the number of hunting accidents has fallen dramatically. Sadly enough, however, they still do happen, and the vast majority of them are caused by sheer carelessness.
One time many years ago I was in a deer camp when one of the hunters (to use the term very loosely) came in and told the group that he had not seen any deer that morning, but that he had gotten one good "sound shot." I thought he was kidding at first, but he was not. He said he was going back after lunch to see if he hit the animal. When I asked him how he knew it was a deer and not a "wetback" he turned as white as a bar of Ivory Soap. He said he was from East Texas, where they hunted the deep woods and took sound shots all the time, because the only animals in the woods there (at that time) were deer and varmints. He had never considered that there would be any humans wandering around in the brush. Luckily, he had hit nothing with his "sound shot." I hope he learned from the event, but I wouldnt count on it. If it had been my hunting camp he would have been gone so fast his ears would have popped, but I was merely a visitor.
Another time I was witness to a couple of Nimrods holding an impromptu shooting match. They were shooting at a tree limb with their deer rifles. They were trying to cut the limb off the mesquite tree to which it belonged. The only problem was that about a half-mile directly behind the mesquite tree was a big, white ranch house with a red roof. That these two clueless idiots didnt kill someone at the ranch house (It was actually the headquarters of the ranch, with a ranch house, barn, stables, guest house, and bunk house) is purely because of divine intervention.
Another incident that comes to mind is one where a landowner was driving a hunter around in his pickup. The hunter was standing up in the back of the truck. Each time he thought he saw something he tapped on the top of the cab to get the driver to stop. At one point the hunter tapped on the cab, the driver stopped, and the hunter shot at a really big buck. He missed. In the excitement of the moment the driver reached over and grabbed his rifle, a .375 H&H Magnum, if memory serves, although why he would have had such a cannon on a deer hunt escapes me. Anyway, the rifle was in the front seat, the barrel up. When the driver pulled on the rifle, attempting to get it out of the window, the trigger caught on the seat, and the rifle went off.
The bullet went through the top rear of the cab. The hunter started screaming but the driver was stone deaf from the muzzle blast of his elephant rifle. Knowing, however, that it went off in the general direction of the hunter in the back, he bailed out to see what his carelessness had wrought. Luckily his bullet had missed the hunter, who was wounded slightly from flying fragments of the bullet and the metal of the cab. Again, divine intervention seemed to be at work.
Remington Firearms Company has come under fire of late because people are accusing them of producing faulty rifles. The complaint is that the guns can go off when the safety is pushed off, without the trigger being pulled. I was not a witness to any of these incidents, but I doubt them, nonetheless. I have been involved in incidents where the shooter pushed off the safety using the front of the trigger guard as a purchase for his trigger finger. When he pushed off the safety with his thumb, his finger slipped off the trigger guard and struck the trigger, firing the gun. While I hate like heck to admit it, I was one of those. I was a youngster at the time, and the rifle was an old Eddystone 1917 Enfield, but I still should have known better. I did learn from my mistake and never use the trigger guard to gain more leverage when I push off the safety. Stay away from the trigger!
I simply cannot go into all the ways a careless hunter can cause rack and ruin. Every time I think I have heard it all, something else happens to make me realize just how inventive such people can be. All I can tell you is that if you use a gun the only way to make sure it is safe is to keep it pointed in a safe direction.
Never get so excited that you lose your ability to be safe. If it wasnt exciting, most of us would not hunt, but in the back of your mind you should always be thinking safety, first, last and always.
Never get into a vehicle with a round in the chamber. If our driver above had adhered to this rule he would not have come close to killing his hunter, who, I believe, was his son.
Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy or kill.
Always know what it is you are shooting at (no sound shots) and know what is behind your target (no ranch houses). Remember that the bullet may not stop at your target. A high-powered bullet will generally penetrate completely through a deer. I have seen two deer, and in another incident, two hogs, killed with one shot.
Do not use the scope on your rifle to glass. Take along a good binocular and use it to look at your game before you reach for your rifle. If you look at something through your riflescope, you are pointing the gun at whatever it is. Those nasty little gremlins might just decide to make your rifle go off at that moment and you might kill a young Border Patrol agent doing his best to perform his duty to you and the country.
Be safe. There will always be another deer, but if you take the life of an innocent person, you cannot change it. Once your gun has fired you cannot call back that bullet. It simply is not worth the risk of the destruction of two lives - his and yours.
God bless all of you who hunt. Just dont screw it all up for nothing.
Odd Murder of a Deer Hunter
IN LATE SEPTEMBER 2012, searchers found the body of a hunter reported "lost" in Wilkes County, Georgia.
He had been murdered.
Jeffery Sean Gebhard reportedly went deer hunting with a friend over the weekend, and was reported to the Wilkes County Sheriffs Office as "lost in the woods" on Saturday night.
A search helicopter found his body early Sunday morning in a remote, marshy area.
Citing the on-going investigation, law enforcement has not divulged the facts of the case, saying only that it was murder with odd circumstances.