Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Don't shoot Bill...


Back in the day, yea, way back then, my early adult days. It was just me and the deer blind. I would sit, wait, whisper some songs, whittle on the side of the blind, check to make sure my gun was loaded, open the thermos and sip the hot coffee, pick up and put down the binoculars, and continuously be amazed at the wonders and beauty of the great outdoors. I have seen 40 pigs travel by one by one; so many turkeys that would make a child think that a tree grew them when they would huddle on branches. I watched as rabbits scurry the right-o-way, foxes move about trying to be sly, and wolves run past that would send shivers down my spine. I have sat in the stand when an owl flew nearly into it (literally two feet from my face) thinking my blind was its home. All this was before the state mandated hunting training course was the rule. I was educated on the proper safeties of hunting and to respect the game (the animals we were to harvest to eat).

I was taught by my father. Some of the rules included: always have the gun on safety; never put the gun on “fire” until you are ready to shoot; always point a gun away from a person when carrying it; never load a gun until you are in the blind and situated; unload it before you climb down; don’t shoot animals we won’t eat; and “Don’t shoot Bill.”

Ok, he didn’t actually call him “Bill.” He said “Don’t shoot if you don’t know what it is.” “Don’t shoot Bill” were the words of a great professor I had in college. There are times when hunting that you hear something in the brush. There are also times, the daylight arrives or dusk approaches, when things that look like a deer or hog appear but because of the light, the hunter is not for sure. These are examples of “Don’t shoot Bill.” Why “Bill?” Well, my professor had a hunting buddy named Bill. He recalled a time when he went hunting with him. Although I grew up typically hunting in a stationary box, the professor hunted in Ohio by walking or stalking. One day he heard a rustle in the brush and he readied himself for Muy Grande to march out. He didn’t shoot into the bush, he knew he must wait until those giant back straps made its way to open sight. Then, just as the noise got closer and closer, Bill stepped out from the brush. Had this professor shot the bush wanting to kill tomorrow’s dinner, he would have shot Bill.

The moral of the story is, “if we don’t know, don’t shoot.” If we don’t know if that coat blowing in the street has a person under it, we don’t run over it until we know. If we are fumigating a building with dangerous chemicals, we don’t start until we know everyone is out. If we are hunting wild game in the South Texas, we don’t shoot into a bush until we know it is a tenderloin, err, I mean deer.