A nine-banded armadillo. (Chase A. Fountain/Texas Parks and Wildlife via AP)

An East Texas man ended up in the hospital after he fired a gun at an armadillo and the bullet bounced off the animal’s back and hit the man in his face, according to news reports.

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe told Reuters that the shooting took place on the man’s property in Marietta, Tex. — population 134 — about 3 a.m. Thursday.

“His wife was in the house,” Rowe said. “He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo.”

What drove the man to shoot at the critter? He told authorities he had seen the animal previously on the highway, which — for reasons unexplained — prompted him to draw his weapon and pull the trigger.

At least one of the bullets ricocheted off the animal’s bony, protective shell and then struck the man in his jaw, according to Reuters.

Rowe told the wire service that the injury was serious enough that the gunman had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, where doctors wired his jaw shut. The armadillo’s condition remains a mystery.

This is the second time this year that an armadillo shooting has gone awry.

In April, a Georgia man accidentally shot his mother-in-law when he fired a pistol at an armadillo, according to ABC affiliate WALB News. The bullet killed the animal, but it “also ricocheted off of it, hit a fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s mobile home, through a recliner she was sitting in, and into her back,” according to WALB News.

The shooter was about 100 yards away from the mobile home, police later determined. The victim — 74-year-old Carol Johnson — was not severely injured and no charges were filed in the case.

“Just the circumstances, just all the way around, the whole situation was unusual,” said Investigator Bill Smith with the Lee county Sheriff’s Office told WALB News.

Added Smith: “I really think if they’re going to shoot at varmints and whatnot, maybe use a shotgun.. with a spread pattern with a lot less range.”

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