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Rescue from disaster: A father and son’s story

Readers who would be willing to share stories of miracles in their own lives or the lives of others are encouraged to contact Coate by phone (706-5297) or email (

The son held the gun; there was a blast. His father froze, someone whispered in the older man’s ear. It was a miracle.

Forty years ago, the fields of the San Joaquin Valley provided cover for a countless number of pheasants, and every year around Thanksgiving, hunters of all ages descended on their favorite ranches to march through the corn, sugar beet, and cotton fields in search of their quarry.

The father and son were always part of this annual pilgrimage to the farmland, so on this particular year — probably 1975 — they got their guns and ammunition out and headed for Lindsay. They were serious hunters; they were going to get their birds.

The two hunters arrived at the grandparent’s home in time for coffee. Everyone was there: uncles, cousins, and friends, so they didn’t tarry. The little army climbed aboard the pickup trucks and headed out. When they reached the field, everyone got out and chose a row.

The Dad and his son were seven or eight rows apart. The rest of the party spread out on either side of them. Somebody gave the signal, and the phalanx moved forward. Suddenly the flapping of wings signaled a bird was making a noisy takeoff, and several shotguns were quickly raised. Before anyone could pull the trigger, however, someone yelled, “hen, hen.” Guns were lowered; they all knew the female of the species was protected. They would have to wait for a rooster.

The hunters continued up that field and several more. They got their share of pheasants and decided to try one more. It was a field of stubble, so they didn’t hold out much hope for another bird, but they would give it a try. All of a sudden, a jackrabbit jumped up, running in front of the son. He excitedly raised his gun and fired, but only crippled the quadruped. The lad walked up to the kicking animal and gave his dad a quick look. The father told his son to put the animal out of his misery, so he did but not by shooting it. Following his dad’s advice, he prepared to knock it in the head.

Standing over the quivering rabbit and holding his shotgun by the barrel, he brought the butt end down on the animal’s head. It struck home; the rabbit was dead, but a shotgun blast stunned everyone. The force of the stock hitting the ground was enough to fire the gun. The blast of birdshot zoomed past the son’s head.

For a few seconds, the boy stood there trembling. His dad stared in disbelief. That shotgun blast had somehow not taken his son’s head off.

In the rush of relief that followed this miracle, the father heard the sweet voice of God say “I just saved your son.”

By now, you may have guessed that the father in this story is the writer of this column, and the lad is his son. Over the years, we have gratefully reflected many times on this miracle, which preserved my son for me and my family and has rendered me eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for His mercy.

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Note: We have a lineup of miracles to share with our readers in the future. One comes from Bridget, a former prison correctional officer. Another is from Yvonne, who survived domestic violence and physical/mental child abuse, and yet another comes from Pam Saunders who has a unique COVID-19 miracle story.

Pam, I have misplaced your phone number. Please call Bill Coate @ 706-5297.


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