Chicken Little was Right

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

or whatever, also expects bird dogs not to roll in disgusting substances and non-hunting spouses to understand why you need another shotgun (especially one that costs $1,000 when you have $650 left in checking).

If writers understood math, they'd be something else. Outdoor writers are the worst, except for the few gun types who can calculate trajectory and muzzle velocity and stuff like that and come up with a scientific reason why you can't hit the broad side of a barn.

I struggle with simple things like remembering shot sizes, and this engineer expects me to connect with: "With distance = 50 yards = 150 feet and initial vertical velocity = 0 for a horizontally flying goose, the above equation becomes 150 feet = 1/2 x 32 feet/sec/sec x time squared."

Are you with us so far? Take my hand - it gets scary and there are things in these mathematical jungles that eat human flesh.

"After some algebra," the engineer continues, not specifying what 'some algebra' means, "time = the square root of 150 feet/16 feet/sec/sec. Therefore, the time it takes the goose to hit the ground is 3.06 seconds."

Shoot fire, everyone knows that! Actually, I had guessed it took less than five seconds for the goose to fall 50 yards, even though it seemed like a couple of long years as I scooted around in that narrow pit watching a dead goose rapidly blot out the sky.

I did what it took the engineer a half-page of equations to do by a simple guess. That's the way I handle mathematics - I just guess. "Well, I guess I got enough to buy that shotgun. Let me write you a check and we'll see how it bounces."

Having solved how long it takes a falling goose to fracture a hunter's skull, the engineer goes on to determine how fast the thing would be traveling when it turns the guy's cranium into curds and whey.

I won't get into the mathematics of it, except to say they are more complicated than figuring out how long it took. The upshot is a goose would be traveling at 66.8 miles per hour when it howdied the hunter.

That, the engineer concluded with typical scientific detachment, "would cause

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