HERE'S some helpful advice for anyone watching a shooting competition: don't die.
William H Allen did not follow that advice one winter's day in 1871 and ended up with about 40 shot-gun pellets lodged in his body, three of which pierced his skull.
But this isn't a story about someone silly enough to sit in a dangerous section of California Gully cricket oval while a bunch of people were shooting birds.
It is about the pigeon that was trying to escape when John Francis Lewis pointed his gun into the sun and fired blind.
An account of the inquest into Allen's death in the Bendigo Advertiser does not shed any light on whether the animal survived.
That sort of thing was probably not all that important to the jury when it heard evidence at the inquest into Allen's death.
But it would be nice to think that it did survive after being released solely so that Lewis and three others could have a bit of fun shooting things.
Perhaps it landed on a refreshment stand close to the horse and cart that Allen had just fallen off with a heavy thud.
Maybe it watched as the man who had just tried to kill it ran over to Allen and cradled him. Perhaps it stared at them both with an unblinking poker face.
If it had survived it was probably flying for dear life, though.
A witness to the death said that multiple people outside the grounds fired at it seconds after Allan was shot.
That happened a lot at Bendigo's shooting competitions. People would wait for competitors to have their turn and have a crack at whatever was still flying. It was dangerous for the target and the hunters.
Lewis's elusive pigeon was not the only animal desperately trying to escape hunters.
One group of Bendigo fox hunters crashed their cart spectacularly in 1902 after smashing through a fence and going over a downed tree.
They had been on their way to a fox-hunting spot in Mitiamo in a horse-pulled cart when the fox dashed into view, according to the Bendigonian, a then-supplement in the Bendigo Advertiser.
Even in those heady days of hunting, some people wondered whether the sport was too cruel.
People often asked what happened to the maimed pigeons that inevitably escaped shooting matches.
In 1914, Melbourne police conducted their own inquiries prompted by continued public debate.
They went to a Brighton gun club and happily reported back that hardly any escaped the killing line "practically unhurt", and any of the dead or wounded were gathered by trained dogs and boys fairly quickly.
Police also said that organisers cut about an inch of tail feather away, which was "in the birds' favour as it caused irregularity in their flight".
As far as the police were concerned, "every possible consideration was extended to the pigeons".
That would have been of great comfort to the birds, presumably.
Like this story? Here's some more from our series WHAT HAPPENED?
Shooters sometimes found themselves in uncomfortable situations with fellow humans, especially as sports like pigeon racing became increasingly popular in 19th and 20th century Victoria.
A Lockwood farmer took a shooter to court in 1888 for killing the wrong pigeons.
The farmer had held a pigeon shooting match at his property and expressly told everyone to stay away from a neighbouring paddock. Someone apparently didn't hear and was shooting at what he thought were stray pigeons that had escaped.
They were in fact very expensive birds bred for a very different purpose, but the farmer sued unsuccessfully for compensation.
Tensions between breeders and shooters appear to have grown as time went on.
More people were housing homing pigeons and many of them suspected hunters were killing them for sport.
Then, in 1914, World War One broke out and pigeons went from shotgun fodder to unlikely heroes.
The birds became vital for sending messages to and from the front lines in situations where telegraph wires were unreliable and communities, including Bendigo, helped breed them for the front.
One pigeon was even honoured at a British museum after it died of wounds received in action.
Military pigeon number 2709 was hit by a bullet in 1917 while delivering a message back to headquarters in France.
The bullet broke one of its legs and passed out its back.
"In spite of its woulds the bird struggled home through the rain to its loft, a distance of nine miles, and delivered its massage the following day at 10.55am," the Bendigo Advertiser later reported.
"It died shortly afterwards."
Back in 1871, an inquest deliberated over whether Lewis was responsible for killing Allen at California Gully's shooting match.
The sun was bright at the time, and the pigeon beyond deceased, who should not have been there, as he was within the bounds.Inquest evidence. Source: Bendigo Advertiser
He was, it decided.
But no-one wanted to clip Lewis's wings, since his victim appeared to have been in a part of the ground he should not have gone into.
"They [the jury members] were unanimously of the opinion that not the slightest blame was to be attached to J F Lewis in the misadventure," the Advertiser reported.
This is the latest in the Bendigo Weekly's regular history series WHAT HAPPENED?
The Weekly would like to thank the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre's Desiree Pettit-Keating for help on this story.