Program 5: Careful What You Shoot

Doug Bent and Phil Brown tell stories about gun accidents and talk about the responsibility that comes with handling firearms. Once you shoot, you can't take it back.


Dead Creek  - Cathy Merrill, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Dead Creek
- Cathy Merrill, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Gregory Sharrow
Deer Stories is a documentary series from Vermont Folklife Center Media. The series explores hunting from an insider’s point of view and is drawn from interviews with hunters from around Vermont. In this program two men tell stories about gun accidents and they talk about the responsibility that comes with handling firearms.

Doug Bent
Yeah, you always gotta be careful. Once you shoot you can’t take it back. And I had a experience where in the middle of the night—well, about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning I woke up and the coyotes were right outside the house and howling and carrying on and yipping and yapping. So I got up to see what’s going on. It was pretty moonlit that night. You now, it wasn’t a full moon, but it was, you know, it was pretty full. So I could see that there was some cows and the coyotes were chasing the cows, the heifers, you know, young stock. My neighbor’s. You know, there was probably four or five coyotes and, you know, probably half a dozen heifers. And I have a big spotlight, but I didn’t use it. I thought, well, you know, I could see ‘em fairly well and so I got my gun and they were about 250-yards away, so I started shooting at the coyotes and the third shot I heard a definite whack. And I says, there, I got one of ‘em. So I got my four-wheeler and I went out and instead of a coyote laying there, there was a cow laying there. And, I don’t know, I almost threw up. I was really, you know, I just—you know, you shot something that you didn’t intend to shoot and, of course, I dragged the cow back to the house and I called my neighbor up and, well, I met him down at the barn in the morning. About 6 o’clock he does his chores, so I went down and I met him and I told him what happened and he says, “Well, no problem,” he says. “We’ll dress it off and put it in the freezer.” So, you know, I paid him for the cow and he asked me if I wanted the meat and I says, “No, I really can’t, you know?” [LAUGHING.] I felt bad enough about it as it was. It bothered me for a long time, you know?

Phil Brown
My grandfather one morning, loading his rifle out behind the house and went to set his safety and had his gloves on and the hammer slipped and the rifle went off. And he come in, put it in the cupboard and never hunted again. Just decided that if I can’t control my firearm then I don’t deserve to be in the woods.

Doug Bent
You gotta be absolutely positive, I mean, there’s no questions, about what it is and what’s behind it. I mean, is the deer standing on a knoll and there’s a farmhouse in the distance? I mean, you know, that’s not a good situation. So you have to be aware what’s behind the deer, you have to be aware that it actually is a deer. You have to have a hundred percent sure in your mind that that is what you’re shooting, that you want to shoot. And there’s no, you know, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it, you know? It has to be a positive thing. It’s a real bad feeling if you shoot something that you don’t intend to shoot. 

Gregory L. Sharrow
You’ve been listening to Vermonters Doug Bent of Braintree and Phil Brown of Glover. Deer Stories was produced by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for the Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, Vermont. I’m Gregory Sharrow.