Bourjaily on Ducking and Covering

The other day I was talking to John Clouse, who runs Ballistic Specialties in Batesville, AR. Clouse is a fine Beretta doctor, and he was diagnosing my balky 391 when somehow the subject turned to Clouse's nose. Several years ago on a crow hunt, Clouse stoned a bird a ridiculously high distance in the air. He took his eye off the falling crow to exchange high fives with his hunting buddy. When he looked back, the crow hit him in the face, breaking his nose.

I saw a similar accident in Saskatchewan. We were hunting geese in a pea field, leaning against round bales of straw. My friend Tom folded a goose, found a second bird and was about to shoot it when the first one hit him square in the side of the head. When I looked over, Tom was on his hands and knees ten yards from the bale. A ten pound goose falling from 30 yards up could probably kill you if it hit you just right. At the time, Tom thought he had been shot. A year after the hunt he had so many headaches and so much neck pain he eventually had to have surgery.

Tom blamed me (it wasn't me, I missed, then my gun jammed) for years, but he realizes now he did this to himself. Ever since that day, whenever I hunt geese I shoot one, then look to make sure I know where all the falling birds are before I look for a second. Maybe I'm being too cautious - maybe those were the only two times in the history of hunting that falling birds hit people, but I doubt it. Has anybody out there ever seen a bird hit someone?