Petzal: Lucky Shots

The luckiest shot I ever saw was made in the early spring of 1963 in a pasture in upstate New … Continued

The luckiest shot I ever saw was made in the early spring of 1963 in a pasture in upstate New York*. I was a senior in college, and a fraternity brother and I were looking for fresh woodchuck dens. Out in the middle of one snow-covered field stood a huge oak tree, and in the tree sat a crow.

We carried a .410 shotgun in the back of the car in case of cow attack, and it seemed only natural to shoot the bird, even though he was a long way off.

“Caw, caw,” said the crow.

“Bang,” said the .410.

“Gak,” said the crow, and tumbled from the tree.
We paced the distance from where my fraternity brother shot to the crumpled corvid. It was 197 yards.

In the mid-1980s I was looking for mule deer near Arvada, Wyoming with a rancher named Don Malli, who is one of the best hunters I’ve ever known. We saw a nice buck who was far, far away and was moving toward a canyon at a rapid trot. Normally, I don’t take running shots, but something told me to take this one, so I led by three deer lengths, added one for good luck, and pulled the trigger.

The deer gave no sign of being hit, and vanished over the rim of the canyon. We picked up his tracks and saw blood. He had fallen into the canyon and landed on a little ledge a few feet below the rim. If he hadn’t hit the ledge he would have fallen a couple of hundred yards. I didn’t say a thing, and Don looked at me oddly for the rest of the day. In subsequent years, however, he would see me miss a couple of dead-easy shots, so he got straightened out on that account.
_
*In December, 2008, Ms. Caroline Kennedy would tour these very same roads and have such exotic life forms as cattle and poor people pointed out to her in preparation for her assuming her hereditary Senate seat._