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If you think hitting a deer with your car is bad, imagine whacking into something rangiferine in an airplane. True story [via]: “The Sept. 20 deer strike at Tweed [Airport in Connecticut, not shown], in which the deer ended up in at least two pieces some 400 feet apart, according to Tweed’s incident report, was like none of the others. It happened at 2:02 p.m. as a Lear Jet owned by Fox Flight of Toronto, Canada, was taking off on what essentially was a medical transport flight with five people on board. Airport Manager Lori Hoffman-Soares, who was outside with Assistant Airport Manager Diane Jackson, saw the Lear Jet cut power and animal debris fly in the air. She told an investigator she saw another animal running into a wooded area west of the main runway.” And then . . .

The captain, Eoin Teevan, reported that the plane was traveling about 100 knots — about 115 mph — on the main runway when he saw two deer to the right of the aircraft. The pilot moved the plane to the left and slammed on the brakes to try to avoid them. One deer struck and dented the right wing. It also damaged the right main landing gear and landing light, the report said.

And so . . .

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has long worked with Tweed staff to reduce threats from birds, has increased its efforts there since the Sept. 20 deer strike, in which the deer was the only casualty. The department is using loud, firework-like explosives to scare critters out of thinking it’s an acceptable habitat, and even using sharpshooters to selectively remove deer from the property, which straddles the New Haven/East Haven line.

Even? Yes, even. Here’s how describes the firearms aspect of the airport’s deer control program: “Federal agriculture officials are going to extraordinary lengths, including the use of shotguns, to get deer off runways at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport.”

I guess the percussion cap gun accompanying the article is the acceptable face of the firearms program. I wonder what shotgun they use to help the Hunters for the Hungry program.


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        • Modern rifled shotguns (oxymoron?) like the browning A bolt and some others, shooting dedicated sabot slugs can be quite accurate out to 200+ yards . Not the same as a rifle for sure but it’s not your gandpappy’s smoothbore shooting musket balls either…

        • mp, point of trivia here. I’ve never used the rifled barrel in a shotgun. How are they still considered a shotgun if they have rifling? Isn’t the difinition of a shotgun a smoothbore?

        • jwm,

          You would think. This all comes about due to the fact that there are several “shotgun only” states for deer hunting – like Ohio where I am at. You can get a rifled barrel for an 870, Mossberg 500 etc, or dedicated rifled gun like the a-bolt, savage 212 etc .. and dedicated sabot slugs shooting what are essentially conical “bullets” encased in a 12 or 20 ga shell. This still falls under the definition of “shotgun” for legal purposes. I guess the thinking goes a shotgun slug, even one of the above, wont go as far in the setting of an N.D. etc…

          anyhow the technology is pretty cool and lots of fun

        • They must be using the shotshell as the defining characteristic of the weapon, as it is chambered primarily for that type of cartridge. Consider if someone tried to claim that all pistols for which shot capsules could be loaded in normal brass casings were shotguns, and therefore had to be registered as NFA items due to the short barrels?

          Makes me wonder about the Taurus Judge, even if it’s primarily designed to shoot .45 LC, if it is advertised as also shooting .410 shotshells, it could be argued that it’s a short barrel shotgun. Glad the ATF hasn’t argued that point, as I think it would be ridiculous in a practical sense.

        • Hasdrubal, as a California resident I generally hate the gun laws here. But the states ban on the Judge is actually working in my favor. My wife wants one real bad and I have a valid excuse for not getting her one.

          All I need is another gun shooting high priced ammo.

        • Ever hear of a shotgun slug challenging a decent rifle in terms of accuracy?

          At 10 yards I can make bigger holes in the X-ring with a slug than I can with a rifle bullet. 🙂

  1. Year round deer hunting permits exist for many small General Aviation airports. There were 6 or 8 available for the airport I got my Private license at and they were all handed out to the General Manager’s buddies. It was nice not to have them run out on the runway on takeoff.

    • Deer are amazing at defeating barriers put up around the areas they want to get to. Pigs are also good at getting thru barriers. For many years I worked nights in the vicintiy of Mt. Diablo and other isolated spots. my side job was in security and I normally worked the graveyard shift. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I encountered wild animals in locked, “secured” areas.

      Twice I even encountered mountain lions. And once I wtached a boom truck lift a dead cow that had gotten into a still secure backyard and then drowned in the swimming pool. How the hell does a cow fall into a pool?

    • Full grown Eastern whitetails can jump an 8 foot fence. Surrounding an entire airport with a that much fencing would cost from $4 to $8 a running foor. A one acre square would cost from $33 thousand to $68 thousand to fence — and the airport would be larger than one acre. It would be cheaper to scare or shoot them.

      • “$4 to $8 a running foor. A one acre square would cost from $33 thousand to $68 thousand to fence”

        Based solely on those numbers, I think you’re off by a factor of 10.

        • “If square then 2,112 feet on the perimeter”

          An acre is 43560 square feet. If it’s a square, each side is approximately 209 feet (square root of 43560 = 208.71). A square with sides 209 feet long has a perimeter of 836 feet (209 x 4 = 836).

          At $4-$8 per running foot (as claimed above), that’s between $3344 and $6688 to fence a one-acre square.

  2. Tweed rests in a residential area. I remember the stories on WTNH comimg in from residents complaining when Tweed started expanding their operation to accept larger aircraft.

    I somehow see people becoming very upset over shotgun armed “sharpshooters” in the neighborhood.

    Am I the only one who wishes they could have been there to see Bambi take flight?

    • Probably.

      There’s plenty of that kind of thing in the grottier depths of Youtube and Liveleak, mostly involving police cars (dashcams).

  3. Back in 1977, my buddy was taking off from Ramstein AB, Germany one evening when a deer bolted across the runway just as he was rotating. He hit the deer at around 120 knots. No apparent damage to the C-130 but deer became instant sausage.

  4. Rosignol when I lived in MN I seen deer jump over a 6 foot fence. I worked in a power plant that was always fenced and gated yet we had hundreds of deer on the property.

  5. When I was a kid we lived near a military installation that my dad worked on and employees were allowed to hunt on site with guests. Trust me, nothing is sadder than having a dear in your sights and watching him leap over a 10′ constantino topped fence and get away.

  6. I’m stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB, and a few years back we had an aircraft strike a deer on takeoff. Luckily, there was enough runway left for the pilot to abort his roll, but that incident led directly to the base issuing deer tags to junior airmen. I happen to have it on good authority that the head of the struck deer was recovered and mounted, and currently graces the wall of a fairly important individuals office.

  7. Heh, this reminds me of how my father became the most efficient deer hunter in the family, despite never buying a hunting license. He managed to destroy three deer that run across the runway while landing his F-16. Not so much of a worry as if he’d hit them on takeoff, I suppose. The aircraft wasn’t seriously damaged, except for a dented travel pod, but I was told the aircraft was thereafter painted with three deer heads to indicate the kills.

  8. Back when I lived in Indiana, I knew a guy who used to hunt deer in the land around Indianapolis International Airport with a bow. He had to get special permission from the local sheriff, and they did it to clear out the deer so they wouldn’t get onto the runway.

  9. File this under “things I never thought about.” I knew bird were an issue at airports, but deer never occurred to me.


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