Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Lesson in Safety

Not all hunting trips are full of happy memories. Sometimes you wake well before dawn, tear yourself out of a warm bed, and set up decoys in the cold, just to watch an empty sky. Three years ago on morning goose hunt much like that made an ordinary hunt, a life lesson.

My fiance, Tyler and I, two other friends, and hunting dog Ginger, were goose hunting in a chopped hay field one morning. Between flocks of geese, we often times chat sitting up in our blinds, with the doors open. Tyler decided he needed to stretch his legs and take a walk behind us. I thought it would be a good idea to stand up near my blind just to wake up. I put my gun in my blind, with my barrel pointed up and to the rear. I was particularly bored at this time and decided to call Ginger over so I could play with her. Tyler, back and ready to get back in the blind, told me that Ginger needs to get back in her blind because it wasn't time for messing around. I leisurely told her to get back but she didn't listen and I didn't really care because she was adorable and I always let her get away with little things here and there. 

A few seconds later, Ginger was still messing around and walking all over my blind, when she steps on my safety and the trigger all at once making the safety turn off and the gun fire off to the rear. No one made a sound. Ginger took off thinking that a goose has been shot in search of the retrieve. We all looked at each other in disbelief. Just a few seconds sooner and Tyler could have been seriously injured or worse. This was the scariest moment of my life. A freak accident that could have ended a life.

I remember thinking as we were packing up that I never wanted to hunt again. I initially put the blame on myself. I knew all about gun safety from growing up around firearms and being in the military. I knew better than to have a loaded gun laying like that. After talking about how I didn't want to go hunting ever again, Tyler informed why he was firm with his dogs. It never really clicked until that day in the field. There is a time and a place for playing with a dog and it's not when your hunting with loaded guns.

It took a while for me to get back out into the field but eventually I did. I became more involved with dog training once I brought home my pointer pup Avery. Whether hunting in a boat or in a field, a dog that doesn't listen and has no obedience becomes a dangerous recipe for disaster.

From time to time it takes a potential tragedy to remind us of safety. Hopefully by sharing my story I am able to possibly help prevent a lapse in judgment like I had made that day.

Written by Samantha Bickman-

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