A big part of what makes hunting and the outdoors so much fun is the sheer adventure and occasional surprise that the participant is treated to—where else would all of our favorite stories come from? That said, sometimes things don't go quite as we planned. It's part of the game, and a potential consequence that every outdoorsman and woman has to be prepared for. Some things, though, you just never see coming—like a goose catching you square in the head while you're shooting.
It's not a particularly common occurrence, but it does happen. And I saw it in person for the first time a few weeks back, during a weekend visit to my home state of Delaware. My dad set up a conservation season snow goose hunt a little way from home, so I joined him and a few of his hunting buddies for what would become a very memorable day in the pit.
It was around 9 in the morning when a group of 12 or so snow geese decided they liked the looks of our decoy spread and set up for what a handful of them would find to be a fatal pass. The action would be nearly right above the pit, beginning on the left-hand side, in my dad's corner. He called the shot, and the scatterguns went to work.
I was two shots deep when my concentration was broken by something thumping down into the reeds inches from me. I had no idea what had happened. At least until the expletives started. Somehow, someway, one of the first snows to be felled had managed to come crashing down right on Dad's head. It'd caught him behind his left ear—just far enough back that he hadn't seen it coming whatsoever—with enough force that it ricocheted off and landing right next to me before falling through the reeds and flopping onto the floor of the pit. Fortunately, he was able to maintain complete control of his shotgun despite the sudden impact, so safety never became an issue.
The immediate reaction in the pit was mixed. Getting hit in the head by what we estimated to be a seven-pound bird—which had been at least 25 to 30 yards off the ground when the descent started—can cause serious injury. Plus, when my dad first turned around the left side of his face was smeared with blood. Thankfully, it belonged to the goose. That all said, this was a group of hunting buddies, so laughter is almost instinctual. Finally it fell on my dad's friend George, the oldest (and certainly craziest) member of the group, to break the tension.
"That happened to my pal Huffy once, 'bout 30 years ago," George said with a drawl. "He ain't been right since."
It was enough to leave the whole pit laughing, Dad included. All he could offer in reply was "Thanks for the support, George."
Keep your eyes on the skies, folks.
Oh, and, for the record, the hunters won the day, as seen in the photo below. On a more unrelated note: Shouldn't there be more people out there named Huffy?