Friday, November 11, 2016

About the time when I almost murdered my father

I've talked about this before.

It's a personal experience which has haunted me for over 50 years, and I offer it again today because maybe it will stop someone from almost making the mistake which I almost made.

We were hunting jack-rabbits, and the day was done.   It was hot, we were tired and thirsty, and probably just a little bit less that at our very best.

We were unloading our rifles before getting in to truck to go home.   I was 13 years old/

After we slipped through the barbed-wire fence in the sagebrush country in Umatilla County, I started to open the bolt of my .257 Roberts when my junior high school teacher "Mr. Bowles" cautioned me:

"You're pointing your gun at you dad's legs; if that goes off you could kill him" he said.

I never liked Mr. Bowles.  But he was right, so I pointed the rifle away from them and clicked off the safety so I could open the bolt and unload the rifle.

After over a half-century, I'm not sure whether it happened when I clicked off the safety, or when I unlocked the bolt.

The resounding BOOM startled all of us ... not the least me, because I swear I hadn't put my finger on the trigger.  I must have, at some point, because the rifle discharged.  Was it the fault of the gun?  Was there a flaw in its construction?  I never knew, nor would I ever.   The important thing was that the gun went off and drilled a 55 grain .25 caliber bullet into the ground ....   not into the thigh of my father.

The lesson I learned that day was that the rule of gun safety "Never point a gun at something you don't intend to destroy" was an absolute, not 'just a good idea'.

It doesn't matter whether you do or don't pull the trigger.  Strange stuff happens, as it happened to me that day, and I never even bothered to thank Mr. Bowles for saving my father's life.

I never liked Mr. Bowles, anyway.

And he never went hunting with me again.

And I never blamed him.

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