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I learned my lesson at a young age as well. Early 70's, probably 13 years old, I was walking the farm rabbit hunting in December.

Rifle was a kit-built CVA "Kentucky Rifle" in .45 caliber, so head shots were mandatory on rabbits.

Several hundred yards from the house, I see a pack of dogs coming roughly in my direction, 70-80 yards away. Feral dogs, both singly and in packs, were always a problem, as we were just over an hour's drive from Detroit, and city people were always driving out to the country and abandoning animals out there.

Didn't worry too much, as these packs generally avoided people, and stuck to chickens, geese, or occasionally calves. But the large dog in the front stopped, looked in my direction, and altered course right toward me. Being winter in Michigan, they may have been desparate; I can't say.

Regardless, I did the only thing I could think of (being a kid). I held on the large, lead dog, and let him have it with the muzzle loader. Just as I pulled the trigger, it occured to me that I was now standing there with an empty gun, and no time to reload. So as I pulled the rifle down, I pulled my sheath knife and waited to see what would happen. Fortunately, the shot connected, the big dog rolled over, and then ran off in the other direction, with the rest of them following. Don't know if the dog died or not; don't much care.

The importance of follow-up shots and "more ammo" was driven home to me VERY pointedly that day; and after that, I never went out muzzle-loader hunting without a handgun as well. Usually my .22 Ruger "standard model" (before the Mk1 and Mk2 existed), or at least one of my cap & ball revolvers.
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