Train, Train, Train

Back when I was a teenager, it seemed that every male with Wolf blood in their veins deer hunted out of my uncle Walter’s cabin in Promised Land State Park in the Poconos. Another personal experience story of what not to do.

My adult cousin, Karl, loved deer hunting, but always borrowed someone’s spare hunting rifle as he did not own his own. He put an end to that when I was about 14. Karl lived on the crest of a small hill and owned about an acre of so of property. Two days before hunting season was about to begin, he bought his own rifle, the ubiquitous .30-30 lever action saddle rifle. He went outside, and because there were no homes around him, fired two rounds through the gun. Finally, his own gun and something he could be proud of.

On opening day of deer season, it is characteristic for hunters to be at their stands before the crack of dawn. We all woke up and got ourselves ready, except for Walter, the cabin owner. He’s been coming to this cabin every weekend for the past 30 or so years, so he would stay behind, lock up, then make his way to his stand, which he could do blindfolded.

In order to get to our deer hunting stands, we had to walk the trails a bit, because the hunting grounds were a few miles from the cabin. We generally walked single file because portions of the trail were no wider than the width of a single hunting boot. Since I was in my early years of hunting, I followed my father. But Karl was ready first and decided to take point, leading us all to our respective stands. He informed everyone that he would load a round in the chamber of his new gun, just in case he spotted a deer crossing the trail at 4:30 in the morning. (Yes, technically, hunting before first light is illegal, but everyone in the surrounding cabins all knew each other and were not going to rat on each other.)

So, while walking on point about 50 yards from the cabin, Karl had his new gun pointed straight ahead as he loaded a round in the chamber. When Karl attempted to close the lever of his new gun, the gun fired. Now, if you never heard a .30-30 round fire in the stillness of the 4:30 air from 30 feet away, it scared the shit out of all of us, and woke up the nearby dead.

Walter, who was still in his cabin, dressed in only his long underwear, came running out of the cabin, and screamed “What the fuck happened!?” Karl, now with egg on his face, attempted to explain what happened. Well, I can tell you what happened. He had his hand on the trigger and the safety was off. I was about 14 and I knew what happened, thanks to the instructions my father previously gave me.

Karl’s problem is that he did not train thoroughly enough with his new gun that he knew the operations of his new gun inside and out. Having only fired two shots through the gun a few days before, he thought he knew his gun. He should have practiced operating his new gun until he could have done it blindfolded. But he did not, and we had the shot heard round the world…er…cabins.

Fortunately, the only side effect of this escapade is that Karl had to buy a round of drinks at the neighborhood bar that evening. But it could have been much worse. So it is absolutely imperative that if you are going to shoot any kind of firearm, to get completely and thoroughly trained in the model you are going to shoot. At our training classes, Dakota Firearms Training Academy teaches students how guns operate, AND has the students practice those operations in front of an instructor. Then, the instructor emphasizes that the student must continue practicing the operations of their gun, using snap caps, in the confines of the student’s home. The students are even instructed to turn off the lights and operate their gun in total darkness.

Train, Train, Train