A Little Vietnam in Dallas County

(Terrifying comment on the lack of basic safety awareness among some Iowa gun enthusiasts. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Yesterday I conducted a wetlands delineation for the Iowa DNR at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Area, along the South Raccoon between Adel and Redfield. Among the highlights: a good plant list that included a new sedge species, Carex oligocarpa; numerous butterflies, including Tiger and Black Swallowtails, American Lady, Spring Azure, Eastern Comma, and Red Admiral; experience with riparian soils; and overall a good day.

The most memorable part came in the last 15 minutes. Four 20-something year-olds noisily stopped about 450 feet away on the old canoe access road and began making sounds that could have been firecrackers. When the first clear rifle report came, I knew that this was no mere Independence Day warm-up. At least two bullets hit within 100 yards of me and a third whizzed overhead as I crouched behind a low dirt pile.

Finally I packed my gear and walked out during a lull, passing the three young men and one young woman. As I approached, I noted two rifles, then said, “I thought I heard bullet impacts around me.” To which one armed young man replied, “We didn't know you were there. This is a public hunting area.” I retorted, “Yeah, in the summertime?”

I kept walking as the gunfire started up. Upon stowing my gear, I photographed the three vehicles and license plates, then reported the incident to the IDNR.

Rule number one: NEVER EVER send a bullet at an impact point you can't see. (In my case, a fatal wound could have left me dead and the shooters wouldn't have known to call for help.)

Rule number two: if there is an unknown car in the parking lot, someone is likely to be around. If you can't see them, assume that the person is anywhere. Either aim at a clearly visible target or DON'T SHOOT AT ALL.

Rule number three: there is nothing to hunt in the summertime, and there is very little to hunt legally with a rifle at any time of year.

Rule number four: if you are on public lands outside of hunting season and you have an experience like this, REPORT IT TO THE DNR for investigation and possible fines for violation of state laws and DNR regulations.

In my opinion, the four youth are guilty of unlawful discharge of weapons in a public area, reckless endangerment, and maybe a couple other violations. I hope they learn a lesson when the conservation officer interviews them and threatens consequences. (Reposted from Facebook)

  • unbelievable

    I’m so glad no one was hurt and that you reported the incident. There are plenty of firing ranges in Iowa for people to practice shooting. Firing indiscriminately on public land is crazy.

  • Little Viet-Nam in Dallas County

    I was in Viet-Nam.  To call this a Little Viet-Nam is a gross exaggeration by the order of at least one million.  

    • My Imagination

      I’m a sole surviving son. I’ve spent years imagining how my brother’s body rose into the air on the mine and came down lifeless.

      Yes, an exaggeration, but given my closeness to that war by other means, it was the first set of images that came to mind out there.

      If you are offended, I apologize for that. I’ve read plenty about the long hours of boredom punctuated by a few minutes of sheer terror, as one veteran put it. I don’t have PTSD or flashbacks.

      I do have memories, I did survive some terrible emotional stuff after my brother’s closed-casket funeral, and Vietnam is a powerful set of analogies, images, and metaphors for me.

      I hope you don’t mind that part.

  • While they were idiots for shooting

    willy nilly into the timber without knowing what the backdrop was it is perfectly legal to target shoot out there.

    Shooting into the hill where you can see what is behind the target is the best choice there.

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