To the editor:
I am not a big game hunter, but have plenty of experience hunting water fowl, pheasant, and quail. I have also been a guide for deer and elk hunters with high-powered rifles. I can understand a shotgun/archery range in the area, but not an outdoor high-power rifle range in a densely populated area (within range of a school) such as this. Misfires, ricochets, and other dangerous accidents are bound to happen.
I want to share an incident from my late teens. A group of junior high kids in our neighborhood (including my younger brother) were playing basketball in a neighbor’s driveway about two blocks from the east edge of our hometown in (sparsely populated) northern Kansas. The homeowner’s child “Donnie” was in the group and suddenly went to his knees and grabbed his ear writhing in pain. They had seen a hornet flying around them earlier and suspected a sting because there was little blood and a huge lump on his skull behind the ear. His mother put a cold wet washcloth over it and after a while decided they should go the hospital in case it needed treatment. Dr. Sheppard removed a .22 caliber bullet and Donnie spent the night in the hospital for observation. He was extremely fortunate as the bullet could have hit the skull direct or in the face or eye.
One half mile east of town was a deserted old brick livestock slaughter-house which was a popular place to target practice, shoot pigeons, rabbits, raccoons, etc. The sheriff’s department investigated and found someone had been shooting out there that day about three quarters of a mile from the driveway. News of the event went viral and it was covered by all major Midwestern newspapers so Donnie got lots of attention. Three good things came from the incident: First — he fully recovered and was very fortunate, second — the county secured and posted the slaughterhouse property with “no hunting” signs and finally — beloved Hollywood actor Milburn Stone who played Doc Adams on the TV series “Gunsmoke” was in Dodge City, Kansas that week for a promotion. He read about the incident in the Wichita newspaper and sent Donnie best wishes and an autographed 8×10 photo. And oh yes, he had a souvenir bullet to display. This was just a .22 caliber weapon. Just saying!