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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Vaccination by Bird Shot

The following story is part of an article written by Dr Tom Kirkwood from his own notes, and those gathered by Byron Lewis and Dr H V Lewis. A profile of Dr John Brian (1871-1944)was posted yesterday along with other St Francisville physicians' profiles.

Dr John Brian of St Francisville, Illinois, enjoyed fishing and hunting especially quail shooting. When a covey flushed, he would concentrate his aim on one bird and be so intent on following its flight that he might fail to notice another hunter in the line of fire.  Consequently, he managed to vaccinate a number of his fellow hunters with bird shot. 

When his brother Dr V M Brian became surgeon for the Texas Company all the employees were ordered to have chest x-rays.  Every now and then Dr Vic would find a chest film speckled with bird shot.  He didn’t wait for the employees to say who shot him but would say, “who shot you, Dr John B?” and almost always the answer was yes.

On one occasion Dr John, Dr Victor and two other men were duck hunting south of St Francisville.  It was a cold windy day and they had had no luck whatsoever.  On the way home someone looked out across a wheat field and saw a large flock of geese feeding in the young wheat. 

The men stopped and looked at the geese.  The wind was blowing directly across the field toward the flock.  The hunters decided that if they would have the driver run the auto straight at the geese, the birds would have to come towards them into the wind to get into the air and that there would be a good chance to kill a few of them. 

They were driving a Ford open car with curtains all fastened down.  In the excitement, the curtains were not unfastened.  The driver gunned the car across the field bouncing across the dead furrows and almost throwing the occupants out. 

The geese were hypnotized, they just stood there with their heads high and wondered what was happening.  The auto ran right into the flock.  The hunters pushed the doors open and jumped right through the curtains tearing them up. 

Dr Victor said it sounded like a battle. Everybody was shooting but not one goose was killed.

Someone did manage to shoot the end off one goose’s wing. It couldn’t fly but it could run, and Dr Vic said they chased it all over that 80-acre field before managing to kill it.  The hunters were as badly confused as the geese, and it was only by the best of good luck that no one was shot. 

The owner of the car was out a tidy sum for damages to the car and curtains so when the four paid their share of the damages all agreed that it was an unlucky as well as disagreeable day. 

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