Ever notice how no one expects to have to defend themselves?
There’s that old saying: Shit happens.
Well, during the latter part of my night hunt experience, there was potential for shit to happen. If you care about self-defense, read on.
So we finish the night hunt and are back at Randy’s shop in Seguin, Texas. The shop is off the main roads of town, but not too far off the beaten path. For a Friday night/Saturday morning at 3:30 AM, Charles and I were amazed at how many cars we saw driving around. The front of the shop was well-lit and it was very evident that an animal was being cleaned out front. I even recall one car passed by and slowed down.. the windows were obviously rolled down because I heard the folks in the car say something to the effect of “wow look… those guys are cleaning a deer!” and they slowly rolled on, watching as they went.
So while Gerald and Randy worked, Charles and I watched.
Then, he came up.
A young male, maybe 18-20 years old, walked up to us. If you remember some simple rules for staying safe, it’s 3:30 AM. While we obviously had sound business to attend to, what the heck was this kid doing up and around at that hour of the morning? Plus, based on his look and actions, the word “vato” came to mind as the best way to describe him. Code Orange. I kept watching his hands, and he spent way too much time fiddling with his shirt around his waist… doing it in a way that would have exposed any gun, but it was still an discomforting thing to watch. He came up to ask us if we had a phone he could use. Nope. No one has a cell phone? Nope, and the shop doesn’t have a phone either. We didn’t want to be rude, but we also weren’t interested. Randy and Gerald kept working on the hog, Charles and I stood watch.
Allow me to back up a moment. For various reasons I was carrying my snub. I was not carrying my normal carry gun (Springfield XD-9, with a reload). In short, I chose to do this because I was playing the odds of something bad happening vs. the realities of dealing with the carry gun while on a hunt (if I was going to be belly crawling or prone or lying on my side, that can be rather painful). This will be relevant in a moment.
So the kid has been asking for a phone and was denied. After he was denied, he didn’t leave. He kept standing there, looking around, playing with his shirt, but mostly watching the pig being cleaned. I honestly feel the kid had become fascinated by the cleaning process. Well, since he was standing around, Randy didn’t want to appear too rude and asked the kid for his story. The kid said that a couple guys jumped him. OK, that sent up our alert level a little more. Now we’re wondering what this kid is, and not being so worried about the guy we see but more so the guys we don’t see. Charles made no bones about having his AR lying out on a bench. My hand was in my pocket on the snub.
Now you see, I just had the snub. 5 shots in a snub. If this kid was the sole problem, that might be enough. But now if there’s a risk of other guys coming along and shit going down, or if this guy is just a front and he’s got friends and they’re wanting to all give us trouble well…. you see, the thing isn’t so much to be bothered by what you do see, you really need to be bothered by what you don’t see. That he may well have friends somewhere waiting for us. And now I’ve only got this little 5-shot revolver. I didn’t feel too bad however, since we’re 4 guys with lots of guns overall, plus knives are out too. And since we’re all dressed in camo and cleaning a pig, it’s evident we know how to use those weapons effectively. To jump four guys like us wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. Still, I wished for my XD and my reload.
While all of this was going on, numerous cars continued to drive by. I then noticed one car, it turned the corner, then turn signal goes on signaling they’re coming into the shop’s parking lot. They pull into the entrance of the driveway and we all are watching this car. The car pauses, slowly backs out, and goes back the way it came. The thing was, if this was just someone pulling a basic u-turn, it seemed rather slow for a basic u-turn. Granted, maybe the people pulled in and noticed what we were doing so they were watching a bit and thus their slower turnaround. But with the kid there, people acting all funny, his story… all of these things were a little unsettling to our nerves (at least me and Charles).
When it was obvious we were about done with the pig, the guy spoke up again asking again for a phone. Randy pointed out there was a convenience store 2 blocks “thataway” with a pay phone. The kid had no money. I dug out 2 quarters from my pocket, gave them to him, and he left.
In the end, I think the kid wasn’t a true threat. If his story was true, I do think he was just scared. To him, he saw a small group of people, in a well-lit area. Maybe he also registered that these guys are hunters and thus have guns and may be a safer group to hang around with for a little safety and protection (or witnesses). Who knows what the real deal was, but it certainly bugged us.
So what can we learn from this? This is in no particular order.
** Always be aware of your surroundings.
** Remember InSights ABC’s: Always Be Cool. We didn’t invite the kid for anything and weren’t going to open ourselves up for trouble, but we were cool with him. We didn’t tell him to get lost; there wasn’t much harm in letting him stand around and watch. I don’t know why Randy didn’t mention the convenience store at first, but being able to toss the kid a couple quarters and send him to a phone, it was a “cool move” and ended the matter.
** It’s good to have a gun. It’s good to have friends with guns. And knives. And to know how to use them. And to be able to demonstrate your skills and proficiency and/or have them on display. 😉
** No one expects shit to happen. Before I left on the hunt I was knowingly playing the odds. I was even talking to Charles about that over dinner before we left for the hunt. I was explaining that I was carrying the snub and why, and that chances of needing it were admittedly low. Granted, I ultimately didn’t need it, but the key was that I knowingly walked into a possible bad situation with less than optimal tools. I’m not pleased with myself, but I think I was being taught a lesson.
** The corollary to the above is to always carry. I was recently told of a gathering of people. At this gathering there were maybe 20 people. Everyone had a concealed handgun license, but only 2 people were carrying at the time. Why? It should have been 20 people carrying. Maybe those 18 people have the ability to predict when bad things will happen and can know to carry then. Of course, if you’re able to predict the future like this, the best course of action is to avoid the situation entirely. But since I lack the ability to see in the future, I have to keep myself prepared for the unknown the future may bring. You don’t know when bad things will happen, plan accordingly.
** A snub nose revolver is better than nothing, but it’s pretty close to nothing. It’s called a Back Up Gun (BUG) for a reason: because it’s not your primary gun! There may be times where it has to be your primary, but if you have the option you should carry the biggest baddest gun that you can. My XD-9 with a reload would give me 32 rounds vs. 5 in the snub. My XD-9 will shoot faster and better than the snub. In every way the XD is a better carry option. One should not put “comfort of carry” as a primary importance in selecting a carry gun or a gun for personal protection. Sure, if the gun is uncomfortable you won’t carry it, but if it’s only slightly uncomfortable then just keep carrying it because within little time you will get used to it and you’ll actually feel more uncomfortable without it!
We don’t expect shit to happen and we certainly hope it never happens. I’m thankful that nothing did happen last night. But what did happen was certainly not part of any plan, not something expected at all. But yet, it happened and there was potential for it to become bad. We all appreciate having the best tool for the job, and that’s what we should strive for. We should minimize or eliminate situations where we knowingly take a lesser tool to a job, because if we end up needing that tool then well… now we’ve got a lesser tool and have to deal with it. That could be too costly or just suboptimal.
Thankfully, we still had our best tool with us: our wits. That ultimately is what keeps you out of trouble.