Previous Post
Next Post

“The case against a youth mentor and former hunting safety instructor accused in the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy will go to trial,” Grand Rapids, Michigan’s wzzm13 reports. “The family of a 13-year-old boy fatally shot while hunting squirrels has reached a $1 million settlement with the Christian organization that hosted the February outing in Oceana County back in August 2017.” And now it’s Roger Hoeker’s turn to face the music . . .

Mr. Hoeker is charged with recklessly discharging a firearm. A judge dismissed the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter in December. “Reckless discharge implies carelessness or recklessness but not ‘willful or wanton disregard’ for another’s safety, Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon said at the time.

The hunter claims that Billy Gort Jr. was felled by a bullet ricocheting off a tree that struck the teen in the head. An expert hired for the wrongful death suit successfully disputed the assertion. A jury of Mr. Hoeker’s peers will make the final determination. 

All of which reminds us to choose our equipment carefully, observe all the safety rules meticulously, and put our faith in the almighty that we won’t suffer a cruel, unforseen fate for our actions, when hunting or otherwise.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. It’s. Only. Four. Rules.
    It’s not complicated or hard to remember. And while violating one will get you the derision of your more careful companions, you must violate at least two to have a tragedy.
    So unless that tree was made of that new SuperWood we were talking about the other day, that kid had to be within the cone of sight of the person holding the gun.

    • While in this case it seems an expert (whatever that means) found the ricochet defense wanting it is indeed possible depending on the situation and the firearm in use. .22LR will do some WEIRD shit and it’s a common squirrel round.

      If someone told me a bullet ricocheted off a tree and the round was, well, pretty much anything other than .22LR, I’d have trouble believing the claim. .22, I’d be VERY open to the idea until I saw evidence to the contrary because I’ve seen .22 do some really oddball things, especially in terms of bouncing around (including off someone’s skull, that was an unhappy day) after impacting something. Sometimes it takes a really unexpected bounce. Sometimes it flies apart, sometimes it doesn’t. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it (there is from a physics point of view but the round is just an odd duck compared to other bullets because it’s so light and spins so fast, at least I’m told that’s the reason for it’s behavior).

      I’ve also, because of having seen someone get shot with .22, talked to ER docs and a surgeon about it. They told me that, basically, that none of them were anti-gun but if there was one caliber they could wave a wand and ban it would be .22 specifically because of the damage they see it doing in very strange ways. People shot in the leg, bullet’s in the lung. Shot in the chest, bullet’s in the arm/leg. Maybe it’s all over the place in fragments. Basically impossible to have ANY idea what happened until imaging is done. They all stated it was a very unpredictable round and that in their experience it was one of the worst to deal with from a GSW standpoint. They also said it was a very common round for GSW’s because in their experience .22 was a popular round for gangbangers to plug each other with.

      • Be careful how you interpret what the doctors say, as many are not gun owners. In my experience, when discussing bullet wounds with doctors, is that to many of them, a “22” includes “all” 22 caliber bullets, including 22lr and .223. I even know police officers who will say how dangerous a “22” bullet wound can be, when they really mean a .223. Yes, a .223 can enter your leg and end up in your heart. Much less likely for a 22lr.

      • As a now retired paramedic, I can certainly say that that .22s can do some weird stuff. However, I would argue that all low to medium velocity bullets can do strange things – .22s are just the most common firearm out there. When I was in paramedic school – a long time ago, we had a presentation from the LA County Coroner. He showed us one slide of a woman shot in the forehead with a .44 magnum. He asked how big we thought the exit wound was. Various people guessed, and then he told us that that there was no exit wound – because the .44 magnum bullet did not exit.

    • After reading your post what comes to mind is that perhaps .22 is just as likely as any round to do weird things, just there are so many more .22 wounds total since it is shot so much more than anything. Since there are more 22 wounds total there will be more weird ones too, even if the odds are the same as other rounds.

  2. Something I have to remind myself on a daily basis.

    Not all of Gods tools are sharp.

    There are a lot of people, and a lot of them do the dumbest stuff that most of us wouldn’t dream of doing, and they do it every day.

  3. shit happens. to sit here and say “i would have done this and it wouldn’t have happened” is idiocy. so many keyboard-commando’s here.

    • That pejorative gets thrown around too easily, there is nothing “keyboard commando” about discussing different actions to take in the course of events, ways to mitigate danger, identifying points of failure and how to avoid them in your own course.

      bravado, ad hominin, etc. sure.. keyboard commando fits, but not intellectual discourse.

  4. If the “Expert” denounced the ricochet theory, then the only other probability is that the shot to the head was intentional.

  5. Let’s dive into the meat of this story: a .22 LR bullet ricocheting off of a tree trunk or branch.

    It is reasonable to assume that the tree was oak or hickory — two very hard woods with mast that squirrels love to eat. And let’s be honest, oak an hickory can be INCREDIBLY hard woods. Plus those two types of trees are very common in forests.

    Now we can consider physics. I can only imagine two scenarios:
    (1) The tree radically alters the course of the bullet.
    (2) The tree slightly alters the course of the bullet.

    I am going to say that (1) cannot happen. First of all, oak and hickory are not so hard that a bullet will not penetrate. I have shot oak trees with bullets and they do penetrate the tree. Second, bullets are made of lead which is squishy. A squishy object does not bounce off hard surfaces with any significant amount of residual velocity. Think of throwing a ball of clay at a steel plate which is at roughly a 60 degree angle to you — meaning that the clay ball will bounce off and then be moving at a right angle to the original direction of travel. That clay ball might be moving at 10% of the original velocity.

    I can definitely see option number (2) happening. You fire the bullet which just barely touches the edge of a hard oak tree trunk or branch which slightly deflects the direction of the bullet’s trajectory. In that case the bullet could easily have 75% or more of its original velocity. The problem with this scenario, however, is that you would be able to see the other hunter in the background and should not have taken the shot in the first place.

    I am thinking that the hunter who fired the shot was negligent.

  6. I’d be really curious to know the location of the boy in relation to the tree/ricochet.

    Was the boy down range at an angle from the target?

    Was he standing next to the instructor?

    Questions questions.

  7. What I don’t get is how giving the family $1,000,000 from this charity’s insurance company will make anything ‘righter’ or whatever it is supposed to do. Was this kid likely to provide such an income to his parents? How was the charity even at fault?

    • Restitution >>> Reparation made by giving an equivalent or compensation for loss, damage, or injury caused; indemnification.

      Anyone with a decent career path will make far more then that over the course of 30 – 40 years… I bet those parents would give EVERYTHING they have to have their boy back… IMHO… They should be asking to 10 times that…

Comments are closed.