I am a Life member of the National Rifle Association. My grandfather gave me my first firearm when I was thirteen. Then he sold me (cheap) a deer rifle a year or so later. That might have been me in the picture with him or one of my uncles. My father, like many soldiers, disliked guns and did not object to hunting but had no interest in it. I have hunted upland birds (ruffed grouse and pheasants), wild boar in Turkey, white tail and mule deer ail over America, rabbits, etc. I never hunted duck or geese. I do not know why I did not. The great duck hunting stories in Hemingway sure do make it sound attractive.
I don’t hunt anymore. I have not for many years. I just lost interest in it. I still have firearms and like to shoot on a range. At the moment I do not have a shotgun but have owned them in 410, 20 and 12 gauge. The Cheney hunting accident puzzles me.
These are quail, apparently. I never hunted any of these. They are quite small birds and do not look anything like the shootee in this incident.
I was taught and have taught that when you are in the field with a loaded weapon aiming to shoot and kill something, you are supposed to see the target before you fire. This is a basic rule of the whole "deal." Up in Maine, when I was a kid, the hunting fraternity (everybody) would occasionally identify some local (rarely) or flat-lander from New Jersey (often) or Massachusetts (ptui!) who did what was called "sound shooting." In other words, this cretin would shoot at sounds in the woods without seeing what it might be. Such people were shunned as beneath the notice of ordinary folk of sound mind.
I have been trying to re-construct the "geography" of this "engagement" in my head. The VP’s office is not helping with this and I wonder why. Apparently three hunters were advancing in a line: left to right Shootee – VP – US Ambassador to Switzerland. The Shootee dropped out of the line to pick up a bird BEHIND the line. Instead of stopping to wait for him the line kept moving, focused on the birds in the grass in front of them. This left the space on the VP’s left empty. He did not notice this? The shootee approached the line from the rear, BEHIND the VP? A covey of these little critters flew (apparently at the line of shooters) and the VP pivoted to his left (?) tracking the bird and fired, hitting the shootee who was either behind him or outside his peripheral vision to the left and rear (?)
To me that sounds like he fired on instinct without seeing the target. Hunters and soldiers are supposed to have better "situational awareness" than that. What was this, a "reconnaissance by fire?"
Range? What was the size of the shot? Number 5s? number 7s? For a pellet to be inside the shootee’s rib cage and at least up against his heart, the range must have been pretty short.
Don’t kid yourself folks, the shootee is in serious shape. At his age, the eventual result of this trauma is unpredictable. Let us hope for the best.