Two Shots, Two Kills
by Greg Perry
I shot my first living creature recently. Two living creatures actually.
They were alive before my shots rang out, then they were down and gone. "Rang out" is a poetic way of saying my shots blasted deafeningly because I used my trusty AK-47.
I do not train with my guns for target practice fun. Those who shoot only the most accurate, hand-loaded match-grade ammo from their expensive bench rests have a lot of fun and I say, more power to them. That is not me. I do not buy guns for their historical roles or their collectible values. I buy only what we need for defense and for other reasons related to living out here. Let me tell you, we live way out here.
I trained in case I ever needed to shoot a living thing. I never wanted the day to arrive. Now that it is behind me you must trust me when I warn you that you do not want the day to come for you. It is not pretty and it is not satisfying.
I would hope that my column's readers would realize long before now I have no problem with hunting. I am all for it. I think it's great. I am sure it is fun. I just don't hunt. I never have. I have no desire to do so. Hunting is a skill every man should know and I realize that I may wish I had hunting skills some day. Life is full and we must choose where we put our time. Hunting is not where I put my time. Yet, I believe hunting can be satisfying and deserved prey can beautiful. (Tasty too.)
My shoot was not satisfying or beautiful. Yet the shooting was necessary.
Where We Live Plays a Part in the Story
By design, we live in the middle of nowhere. We moved here about a decade ago thanks to Gary North. Dr. North's writings cost us a fortune that we have never financially recovered from but for which we have no regrets whatsoever. We have only gratitude, especially now that times are so precarious. We love being where we are. We would not be here if Gary North had not been so encouraging a decade ago.
We have friends who are concerned about the economy. They fear possible breakdowns of services in the city where they live about 30 miles from us. They fear Katrina-like looting and so on if times get tough. Are they paranoid? No more than I am. They asked me recently that if things got bad could they come out to where we are. The problem is the timing. If they were to come here, when do they leave their home? Even if problems begin to occur in the city they still want to remain in their home with their lifetime of possessions and family memories of course. Yet if the worst happens, it will be too late and they will never make it out of town.
My true answer to when to leave the cities is now, not then. I practiced what I preach 10 years ago. Well, I practiced what Gary North preached 10 years ago. (I think Dr. North moved back to the city. We stayed. I hope neither he nor we regret our decision some day. I am fairly certain we will not regret being where we are.)
I have absolutely no knowledge or prediction as to whether society will ever break down. Frankly, it doesn't concern me too much. We live out here, peacefully, knowing neighbors for acres and acres around us in all directions far better than we ever knew our next-door neighbors in the city. I could barely spell tractor before we moved here — I am a recovering public school graduate after all — but now I ride one quite frequently. I would have laughed in your face if you said 10 years ago I would own a brush hog!
The Last Thing I Thought I Would Ever Harm is What I First Killed
The two live creatures I shot and killed were dogs. They looked like mutts. They were about the size of large beagles. These guys didn't look mean. I bet if I walked out to them instead of shooting them they would have been friendly.
Let me tell you about me and dogs. Since I was a tot I have been a "dog person." From the time I was 4, no more than a few months have ever passed that I have ever been without one or two dogs. I remember the day my parents brought my first puppy to me and I fondly recall all I have loved and lived with since. Two little white fluffy guys, Casper and Mozart, not only share Jayne's and my home, they share our bed too (much to our chagrin at times…).
When I meet new people, if they have a dog I almost always know their pet long before I get to know them very well. When a friendly pup jumps up on me, I love it.
You can imagine that I wish my first pair of kills were non-canine.
I Killed Because Killing Is Sometimes Necessary
I told you about where we live to set up the reason for my shooting the dogs. In rural areas dog owners let their dogs run freely. I have never understood this.
As a dog owner I would never let my dogs roam the neighborhood because I would not want anything to happen to them. I would not, for example, want Casper and Mozart to be hit by a car. I certainly would not want them taken down by some guy's AK-47.
As a neighbor I don't appreciate that others let their dogs roam the rural countryside. The most tame, docile dog can bite as any mailman will tell you. (Lady mailmen will tell you that too.) The big problem is when two or more dogs, roaming the rural countryside, join up. The pack mentality sets in far too quickly. When this occurs, synergistic energy develops somehow and the pack can become ferocious whereas individually the dogs would remain completely docile and civilized.
We have neighbors (ones who do not let their dogs roam free) who go out to get their eggs each morning and have often found a missing or partial chicken in a stray's mouth as he and his buddies run away jumping through the hole they dug under the chicken fence. My bride, Jayne, has been challenged in our own yard by German Shepherds that another neighbor lets out. Rabies is a problem with wild dogs given the critter population all around us.
A stray dog simply cannot be allowed to remain a stray. Not where we live. And there is no department in our town called Animal Control. Actually, there is no department in our town because the only government in our little township is a friendly Mayor who meets once a month with whomever wants to join him in the town's only government building, a one-room little building that has one door, no bathroom, and four walls.
I have met Animal Control and it is me.
Stray Dogs Cannot Stay
Recently, Jayne looked out the back window and saw these two dogs eating from our cat's food bowl. I have already given you my pet preference and it is Jayne's also. Given the choice between a dog and a cat, any felines close to us had better watch their backs as we'll choose dogs over them any day.
Having said that, there is one stupid cat who kept coming to our back door a few years ago. She would run from everybody but me. She did not know I have a sign above my reloading bench that reads, "Cats Fear My Name." She did not know I refused to own a cat in my entire life. She did not know how much I despised the fact that she kept being friendly to me.
Fast-forward 5 years. That cat now has a heated house outside. A heated water bowl for the winter. Store-bought food, purchased with my hard-earned money. (I thought they were supposed to eat mice!) And in general she still only lets me pet her. Stupid cat.
Jayne told me that two stray dogs were eating from my cat's bowl. That was a problem for them but it was not their biggest problem. Their biggest problem is their owners did not care enough about them to keep them from running loose. Their owners did not care that they team up with other roaming dogs out here and wreak havoc with chickens and neighbors. I would never shoot a dog for eating my cat's food. Cats have lower-priority!
Recently, we yelled to scare away some dogs that were in our yard only to discover the next morning that those dogs had killed more chickens of our neighbors. Those particular neighbors homeschool (all good neighbors do) and have extremely young kids in their huge family. A pack of dogs would never hesitate to attack a toddler when they team up out here in the middle of nowhere.
While it is true that the decision to live here has advantages and disadvantages, we can control some of the disadvantages some of the time. We decided with full neighbor support that as a group we would work to control the stray dog population. If a stray comes onto our property, the rule of thumb is kill and bury him. Sure, if a dog has a collar and tag and shows no aggression we will use discernment. Most of the time, discernment means shoot first and ask questions never.
So that is what I did. Plus, an embarrassed part of me deep inside may also have been slightly — just slightly — concerned they would get my cat. Stupid cat.
Aim, Fire, Dig, Regret, Move On
I ran to grab my AK-47. I also snatched my ear and eye protection, something I may not have spent time doing if the stray intruders were more dangerous predators, humans, but when there is time for eye protection especially you should always take that time.
I opened the back door and the dogs were gone and the cat's bowl was empty. (No cat in sight.) I quickly and quietly stepped to the edge of our porch and about 75 yards away the dogs were walking the side of our creek's edge.
I brought the AK buttstock to my cheek, set the front sight on the first dog, and pressed the trigger. Just as Gabe Suarez trained me to do.
The dog flipped in the air while at the same time a yelp rang out. I do not know if the yelp came from the dog I hit or from the second one frightened by the shot. The second took off running. I put the front sight on him and pressed the trigger. Just as Gabe Suarez trained me to do.
The second dog went down. Two shots, two hits. 75 yards away. The longest shot I had ever taken with my AK was about 25 yards. A 75-yard shot for a rifle is not a huge challenge. It was my longest however, in the heat of the moment, with my heart racing, with the dog on the run after the first shot. Only AR-15 owners who have never shot an AK will gripe that the AK is not accurate. It is accurate enough to do the job. That job is a man-sized target out to 300 yards if needed. Or a fast-moving dog-sized one at 75. And my AK doesn't malfunction — it always goes Bang when I press the trigger.
All this seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. I am sure I did not take a breath until that second dog went down. When I did take the breath, I lowered the rifle slightly and scanned for additional dogs just as I have been trained to scan for additional hostiles. Unfortunately, I heard yelping through my ear protection. One of the dogs had not died.
Two things then happened at the same time. I began running to the dogs as fast as I could and my heart began breaking for the yelper. I got about 20 feet away and put a head shot through each. The yelping stopped. My heart's breaking had not.
I compartmentalize quite a bit in life. I completely had sympathy for those dogs while killing them. It was a job I had to do. It was a job I would do again today. That doesn't make it any easier emotionally.
If we still lived in the city we would still find strays in our yards once in a while. In the city, if ferocious ones appear, as happened to me about 15 years ago as I was walking to my car at the end of my own driveway, we do not have the freedom to handle the situation ourselves as I had to do with the two I shot. When seconds count, Animal Control is just hours away to paraphrase one of my favorite lines. Making the decision to move here a decade ago brought with it responsibilities such as the responsibility to shoot a stray or two when one invades our space. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to do just that.
Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, "When the need arises — and it does — you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don't farm it out — that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse."
I have no doubt that shooting a stray dog is far easier than shooting one of my own. I hope to never find out but the reality is I may someday have to find out. Life brings challenges, most of which we do not want. If a stray dog ever attacks one of my dogs, my wife, or, yes, even that stupid cat, I have no doubt that I will feel no regrets about that kill. The same could be said for any living creature who attacks one of us. Colonel Jeff Cooper wrote a lot about post-traumatic stress and how it was a luxury of the late 20th century. He said that until the feel-good 1960s brought in the generation of don't-worry-be-happy, it's-you-not-me victim mentality, that in general neither soldiers nor law enforcement ever felt trauma after killing a hostile who was trying to kill him.
In spite of my having absolute certainty the only thing I will feel after shooting an attacker is recoil, I must warn you that you may feel some stress after making a kill that you were not forced under duress to make. Still, some shots must be taken.
I walked back and put the AK-47 away. I was grateful that I was taught to shoot well and that I own what I consider to be a most wonderful weapon, only one of three good things to come out of the ComBloc last century (the other two were also wonderful weapons against evil, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Ayn Rand). I grabbed a shovel and did the second-half of the job, burying the two. Digging the graves and dumping them in was harder than shooting, both physically of course but also emotionally. The blood was redder and in a far greater quantity than I would have imagined.
I have no deep lessons for you here, just my story. I do want you fellow gun owners out there to know that nothing prepares you for what I had to do. The next time I do it, the job will be just as difficult.
I am thrilled though that I am still free to do the job that must be done. Are you free enough to do what needs to be done where you live? If not, you have two options: move or acquiesce. Moving is harder and means you may have to handle a task you don't want to do. But at least you will be allowed to do it.
March 26, 2009
Greg Perry [send him mail] is the pistol-packing author of more than 75 books. He loves to combine his favorite hobby — guns — with his second favorite — online auctions — by teaching others how to buy and sell firearms, knives, and ammo in online auctions legally and easily! eBay may not respect your freedoms but the free market does. You can comfortably buy and sell weapons-related items in a simpler-than-eBay environment by getting his profit-boosting book, Guns Galore! How to Buy and Sell Guns, Knives, and Ammo in Online Auctions Easily Without eBay!
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