Saturday, October 22, 2011

Anti-dumbass?

SUBLIMITY, Ore. (AP) — A California member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves was shot and killed in Oregon after authorities say a hunter mistook him for a bear.
Christopher Ochoa, a 20-year-old from French Camp, Calif., and a friend were hiking through a field in Western Oregon on the way to Silver Creek Falls Park on Friday evening.
Ochoa was wearing dark-colored clothing when an Oregon man hunting for bear with his 12-year-old grandson saw something moving in the brush and fired one shot from a .270-caliber rifle, striking Ochoa, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.
Blah blah blah.......

*****

I quit hunting during rifle season years ago. I am not anti-hunter by any means; anti-dumbass is probably closer to the mark.
Funny thing is, I was not hunting when I made up my mind to stay the fuck out of the woods during hunting season, I was fishing. I was standing on a boulder in the middle of the north fork of the Stanislaus when a bullet cracked over the top of my head. Seeing as I was below the level of the bank, it wasn't an errant shot. I mean, it might've come from upstream or down but it wasn't shot over or through a deer, somebody shot that motherfucker at me thinking I was a deer. Let me say right now that mistaking me for a deer is a poor excuse, though. I am not nearly as slender as these scrawny blacktails here, nor could I even remotely be considered graceful. So some dumbass saw movement and shot. At me. On purpose.
If I could've found him........
But I made up my mind then that I could lay off the mountains during the early fall.

It's my contention that 90% of California hunters are fucking dangerous to me.
You've got the new guys that are just starting out - they've taken the state mandated hunter safety class, they've got a brand new (possibly borrowed) rifle that they went and zeroed using an entire box of rounds, and they're outfitted with the latest cool looking gear. Hopefully, they've hooked up with a buddy that knows what the hell he's doing, is patient, and sober at the moment.
Okay. New Guy is eager and just knows he's going to have deer running all over the place just like up in Yosemite Nat'l Park, in fact he'll have to run all the pesky little ones off to get a clear shot at the real trophies. But because he's new to this, he's real careful not to fuck up too badly. He (finally!!!) sees a deer and he checks to a) make sure it really is a deer and b) see if it's a legal buck.
He's aware that there are other hunters in the woods as well as other animals and it's been drilled into him that if he accidentially shoots a doe, he'll either go to jail for life or even worse, have to get a blow job from Nancy Pelosi. No way in hell does he want to fuck this up, he's going to make sure of what he's shooting at before he raises his suddenly shaking rifle up to shoot.
And here's where the problem is: Lack of experience with the rifle. He's probably shot the box that he used to zero it with and that's it. 20 rounds and every one of them motherfuckers shot from the bench. I don't think many deer are killed from a rest up in the mountains. New Guy doesn't know any better because nobody taught him any better. That's a lick on the guy that's teaching him to hunt.
New Guy raises his rifle, shoots in the general direction and is surprised when even the more surprised deer hauls ass unwounded. He spends a few minutes looking for blood while waiting for his huffing and puffing mentor to arrive.
In the meantime, another hunter is in the brush 150 yards away, shot and unconscious.

So called experienced hunters aren't much better. So what if they've been hunting for the past 30 years. For most California hunters, that means they've spent about 30 weekends or 60 days out of their entire life hunting. That is NOT experienced. These are the guys that I really avoid - they think they got this shit down but in reality, they know just enough to be dangerous, especially to others.
These are the guys zeroed their rifle last time they scoped it. If the last time he put a scope on it was 30 years ago when he was a New Guy, then that was the last time he zeroed. If he's shooting iron sights then they've probably never been adjusted.
Now this guy knows deer aren't going to come up to him grazing, and he has spent some time in the woods and knows to watch for movement and pieces of animals in the brush (antlers, legs, etc) instead of the whole critter.
So he sees movement and his bloodshot hungover eyeballs focus on an antler moving through a hole in some brush. He hasn't killed a deer in years and now's his big chance. He figures where the chest would be, aims and shoots. And kills some poor motherfucker wearing RealTree - it was a branch on his camo, not a fucking antler.

No, I'm not being dramatic. Okay, maybe a little bit.
I know it's not that way in most of the US, but you gotta remember we're talking about California hunters here and most of the ones I'm talking about are from the Coast.

It's not that hard to get to the mountains from the Bay Area or LA or Wherever On The Coast you're from. Give up a couple of rounds of golf or whatever and go to the mountains instead. Call it pre-season scouting if you want.
Take up camera hunting and improve your stalking skills.
Start fishing the mountain streams. You'd be surprised at what you can see while fishing.
Join a Gun Club and use it.
Take up other shooting sports like trap or skeet. It'll improve your responses and shooting skills damned quick.
Start hunting other game like waterfowl, turkey, pheasant and dove during the off season.  There's more game reserves around where you can hunt for a small fee than you think.
Wander around the mountains on day hikes. Take a rifle with you and get used to it.
But do whatever you gotta do to get some experience. You'll find you learn quicker when you're out in the off season because you're concentrating on learning, not the outcome.
Plus it'll keep you from accidentally killing someone.