Bourjaily: "Claimers"

Claiming - shooting at the same time as someone else, then hollering "I got it!" - ranks fairly high on the list of ways to annoy to your hunting partners. I try only to say "Nice Shot!" on the rare occasions I shoot at the same bird as someone else.

I had a bird claimed from me when I first started hunting and never forgot it. I started late, as a college senior, but I was still young enough to think of myself as a kid among adults when I went with my dad and his friends. An acquaintance of my dad's named Bill, a real grownup, but probably closer in age to me than to my dad, came with us one day. As we walked a creek bottom, the one rooster of the day flushed between us. Bill and I both shot, me from the left, Bill from the right. Having shot all of two pheasants thus far in my life, I was thrilled to see this one crash to Earth. The bird was still barely alive when I picked it up. Bill grabbed it from me and dispatched the pheasant by twisting its head all the way off. He said: "I got it, but you can have it." Then he handed me the headless pheasant. Gee, thanks, Bill.

Later, when I plucked the bird, I found all the holes were on the left side.

A couple of years ago there was an outfit selling shotshells loaded with colored pellets. You could get all yellow, all red, all blue and all green. The idea was, everyone in your group would shoot a different colored shell, thereby settling any claims come cleaning time. The people I hunt with give one another a chance to shoot, so colored pellets wouldn't much matter to us. If had to use blue or green pellets to know if I hit a bird, I would find a different group to hunt with.