Jon Dawson: ‘Can hunting’ accident injures three

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A few days ago, Bucklesberry Gazette Managing Editor Paulette Burroughs alerted me to an Associated Press report regarding something an Alabama middle school principal requested of her students. 

You’re probably thinking she asked for school spirit or possibly one of those stuffed fish that sings “Another Brick In The Wall” for the teacher’s lounge, but you’d be wrong. 

According to the Associated Press, W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscella Holley asked students to bring cans of food such as beans and corn to school to use as weapons against any potential intruders. The letter reportedly stated that a can could stun an intruder “or even knock him out” until police arrive.

At press time The Bucklesberry Gazette could not confirm that Principal Holley was related to Campbell’s Soup Company CEO Cliff Holley.

It may seem odd to think of canned peaches as a weapon, but not to the people of Alabama.

“I’m a third-generation can hunter,” said Irmin Schmidt, 84, of Moundville, Ala. “During the Depression, my great-grandfather couldn’t afford ammunition but the family was hungry. In an act of desperation, he grabbed the last can of rutabagas from the cupboard and headed off into the woods.”

Schmidt says his great-grandfather spent two frustrating days in the woods trying to kill a deer.

“Not having much of a plan, he started out just throwing the can at the deer,” Schmidt said. “Eventually he fashioned a crude but effective slingshot out of a fallen tree limb and an old inner tube. When he finally got off a good shot the deer hit the ground like he was a player for Duke pretending to take a charge. My uncle was so proud he had the deer’s head stuffed and mounted, and it’s currently on display over my fireplace between the A-Team commemorative plates and my complete collection of Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters on VHS.”

Avoid the box store blues with a visit to Blizzard Building Supply at 405 Walston Avenue, Kinston.

The stuffed deer isn’t the only family heirloom Schmidt has in his possession.

“I still hunt with that same can of rutabagas my great-grandfather used,” Schmidt said. “It’s all dented up from years of bouncing off antlers, but a little duct tape goes a long way.”

During a hunting trip in 2007, a few of “furries”, (a fetish subculture wherein humans dress up as animals), wandered away from their group retreat and into Schmidt’s line of vision.

“I bagged two accountants and a car salesman that day,” Schmidt said while polishing his can. “But the game warden made me throw one of them back. I’d already used one of my accountant tags for the year.”

Bannister’s Fine Gifts is located at 106 West Railroad Street in La Grange.

Can hunting is still primarily an Alabama phenomenon, but the sport has made its way to Eastern North Carolina.

“I think using the slingshot is cheating,” said Joe Egan of Peaches & Peas Hunting Club in Kinston. “To bring down a deer with nothing more than a can of peaches is appealing. It requires incredible patience and skill. Not only do we not use slingshots to propel the cans, we only use canned peaches or peas. In our mind, using something as deadly as creamed corn or string beans just isn’t a fair fight.”

While Egan says hunting with canned goods is exciting, he says there are drawbacks as well.

“The main side effect of can hunting is trying to find shirts that fit,” Egan sad. “Between practicing out at the canning range and the actual hunting, the throwing arm of the average can hunter is going to be three times larger than the non-throwing arm. A few of the guys in our club are amphibious, but for the most part, most of the guys can only throw with one arm. We also tend to hunt wearing three-piece suits. There’s no law that says hunters can’t be elegant.”

“Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, anyone purchasing canned goods in North Carolina will need a valid hunting license,” said Malcolm Mooney of the North Carolina Wildlife Association, Canned Hunting Division. “We have no way of knowing if grandma is buying that can of cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or to bump off an 8-point buck.” 

And what about the single guy who isn’t a hunter but just wants to heat up a can of Chef Boyardee, put on a Sarah McLachlan album, and cry himself to sleep?

“No comment,” Altman said.

Jon Dawson’s books are available at

The Bryan Hanks Show airs on 960-AM in Kinston, and daily at 7 a.m. & 3 p.m. It also airs on the suite of stations in New Bern and Greenville (107.5-FM) at 6 p.m. Archived shows are available at

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