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The VEEP Who Couldn't Shoot Straight: Questions About Cheney's Hunting "Accident"
Published on Monday, February 13, 2006 by DIreland
The VEEP Who Couldn't Shoot Straight: Questions About Cheney's Hunting "Accident"
by Doug Ireland
 

The entire Cheney hunting accident story stinks. The delay in announcing it isCheney_2 suspicious, obviously. I'll bet Cheney had a few beers in him, but I'm not sure that is illegal in Texas (drinking and hunting is illegal in most states, but I couldn't find out if that includes Texas).

But a few other points that may be worth noting:

1. The news reports say the accident happened "around 5:30 pm" on Saturday. In Texas, quail can be hunted until 30 minutes after sunset. Sunset on Saturday, in Corpus Christi, was at 6:18, which means they were legal until 6:48. The "around" is suspicious.

2. The news reports say that after Whittington (left) had gotten off his shot and went looking for his bird, Cheney and the other hunter went to another spot where they saw a covey of quail. Texas quail might be different from Iowa quail, but in Iowa when a shotgun goes off, every quail within earshot flutters away. The story doesn't make sense.

3. None of the stories have commented on the fact that they were "road hunting", or hunting from a car. That is just about the lowest kind of low-rent, dishonorable kind of hunting there is (the phrase "road hunting" is often used synonymously with "poaching"). When I was growing up in Iowa, I went pheasant or quail hunting on scores of occasions with my Dad and others. We never would have hunted from a vehicle and it was an insult to even suggest that someone might. It was considered dangerous and declasse, as it was too great an advantage for the hunter to be "fair". It most states, including Texas, it is also illegal:

"It is unlawful to hunt from or by means of motor-driven vehicles and land conveyances or aircraft of any kind except paraplegics and single or double amputees of legs may hunt from stationary motor-driven vehicles or land conveyances."

However, Texas exempts private property owners from the prohibition when they are on their own land and Cheney was with the property owner on his ranch. But it is still really tacky.

4. Hunting quail in Texas requires an "Upland game bird stamp", which costs $7. This is a relatively new requirement, but I'll bet Cheney didn't have one.

5. The spin is that Whittington "came up from behind the Vice President", implying that he snuck up on him or was somehow partially responsible because Cheney didn't know he was there. When hunting, it is bad form to walk in front of someone's gun. When given a choice, one would always approach another hunter from behind.

Cheney has gotten negative press in the past for participating in "canned hunts" and a couple of years ago he got really negative press for going on a canned pheasant hunt in Pennsylvania where he got between 70 and 95 birds (depending on which report is to be believed). The typical daily limit in places like Iowa and South Dakota, where we have many more pheasants than Pennsylvania, is 3 or 5 per day and a possession limit of 15 or 20.

To many of our milieu, hunting is hunting is hunting and the distinctions noted above aren't that big of a deal. To hunters, these are important distinctions. Hunting regulations are strictly enforced in most states and every sixpack Joe knows he better abide by them or he'll get in trouble. Most hunters aren't affluent suede vest guys, they are working class guys within a couple of generations of agriculatural roots. The gluttony of shooting 70 pheasant in a day is almost impossible for them to comprehend.

Focusing on the kill rather than the hunt is frowned upon. Killing more than you can eat is frowned upon. Canned hunts and that kind of over-indulgence is for the Rambo hunters, who are not thought highly of by the old-fashioned Izaak Walton league type of guys, like my Dad.

Someone should be asking if Cheney was drinking, if he was properly licensed with his Upland Game Bird Stamp, when (and if) the hunting accident was actually reported to the authorities and if anyone has investigated why the quail in Texas seem to have gone deaf.

Ms. Armstrong claims to have been in the car, but to have witnessed the shooting. If so, that would mean the hunters were fairly close, within eyeshot, which makes it even less likely that Whittington had gotten off a shot at a quail and then there were other quail still waiting around for Cheney to find them. It just does not make sense.  

© 2006 Doug Ireland

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