Enviroweb is the blog by a aquatic and environmental scientist Eugene Macri on all aspects of the environment,science, ecology, health, educational science and the politics involved. ©2006 All Rights Reserved E. Macri. Permission to reprint or use electronically as long as credit is given and we are notified.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Art and Science of Hunting with Dick Cheney: Arm Chair Outdoorsman or Sportsman?

The recent hunting accident of Vice-President Dick Cheney is sad in a number of ways. For the gentleman who was shot by the Vice-President and for hunting and sportsmen nationwide. The anti-hunting crowd will have a field day with this. As an environmental scientist, fisherman, hunter, and all around outdoorsman I can already hear the argument that will be made by the crazies who want to ban all guns and hunting in general. If not for hunters there would be no wildlife left in America contrary to what these people think. Hunting fees and associated costs pay for the wildlife in this country not the crazies who want to ban it.

There are a number of disturbing questions with the story put out by the White House in this accident. The first problem is the idea that the hunter who was shot was to blame. There is a basic law of hunting and that is always safety first. The second problem is that hunters especially bird hunters should always know where every hunter is. With that in mind one wonders about the truth in this incident.

How many people were hunting? Three people hunting quail together in the same area is very unusual. Most of the time two hunters, one on each side (right and left of the intended area) are fanning out. Next they were hunting by car. Really! This is interesting to say the least. Did they have dogs? Why was Mr. Whittington getting his own birds? They were hunting at around 5 p.m... I wonder why most quail hunters usually hunt in the morning when it's easiest to see the little creatures but not Dick Cheney! Mr. Whittington was 30 yards away when he was supposedly "peppered." A 28 gauge shotgun with this type of bird shot used by the Vice-President usually has about 350 to 400 pellets in it. If shot in the air at 30 yards (which is nearly one-third of a football field) I question the pattern that would have hit Mr. Wittington.

It’s more likely that Mr. Whittington was 10 to 15 yards away. Furthermore, it's possible that the quail may have been shot not in the air but on or near the ground! There is no way of knowing the real story because none of us were there. However, contrary to what has been said about Cheney's expertise with a shotgun he supposedly had a similar problem on the Eastern Shore of Maryland duck hunting a few years back when he peppered a few people but none were injured.

But there is another problem with all of this and that's the way Cheney hunts. Cheney took heat over a pheasant hunt in Pennsylvania when the place he hunted released birds from nets so they could be shot. Cheney and friends killed a huge number of pheasants that day. This is not sporting. This is the equivalent of fishing inside the trout hatchery but not in the stream. There is a difference among a shooter, a hunter and a sportsman. Because Cheney is a good shot does not make him either. Most hunters would not consider it sporting to shoot game with methods used by Cheney. To put it bluntly the Vice-President is a slob hunter.

He lacks the true call of the outdoors and nobility of being a sportsman. Hunting quail from the car! Who were flushing the quail, ---the secret service? You go quail hunting to watch the dogs work as much as you go to hunt. Cheney is what many in this business now call "the armchair outdoorsman." There are a lot of these people around in both the hunting and fishing world. Some even pass themselves off as outdoor writers. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. This is not about private hunting areas which have been around for hundreds of years especially in Europe. I really don't have a problem with them. Most of these people are top notch sportsmen in both hunting and fishing but quite a few are not, and Cheney is one of them. Cheney is the darling of the NRA of which I am a member. The NRA should realize that because you own a gun and support the NRA does not make you a sportsman. Cheney is not a sportsman and he should not be the cover boy for the NRA. Cheney is a slob…a hunting slob. He is a disgrace for any hunter that respects the sport and nature.

There is a lot of money in the outdoor business and many places now cater to these types of people. Most of these people are despised by true sportsmen but many of these types have the money to do whatever they want. Money talks! I've seen the same types on trout streams too and some days you would like to drown them. But there appears to be a darker side to all of this and that's Cheney's lack of reverence for nature or for that matter the safety of hunting and the nobility of the sport. Does Dick Cheney think it makes him macho to kill so many pheasants that had just been released into the air? Perhaps it does to an "armchair outdoorsman" or the hunting slob that he is. The same Cheney got five deferments for the Viet Nam war. I guess he wasn't feeling so macho then. The real problems are that we have two "armchair warriors" in the Whitehouse, Cheney and Bush who do the same thing with war! Is this a metaphor for how they run everything and the excuses they make afterwards! We have seen what condition the world is in now because of these two who never really served in the military or know anything about it. They are the great pretenders whether quail hunting or hunting terrorists, they can't seem to separate what to destroy and what not to destroy including our constitution. They prove that money can never by class or what they really want to be a sportsman or a warrior because they are neither.

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