Kerry shows what kind of hunter he is


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Nov 13, 2003
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POLITICAL OUTDOOR MUSINGS -- Jim Matthews column 11aug04

Outdoor politics at a glance

Outdoor News Service

Mostly outdoorsmen hate politics. But in Presidential election years, it becomes too interesting to ignore.

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently, there was a story about John Kerry trying to appeal to the huge gun-owning and hunting community in Wisconsin. He stopped by a local trap range, shot, and spoke with reporters. After shooting a relatively dismal round, breaking just 17 of 25 targets, he said he thought current gun regulations were reasonable.

"I think the Brady ban is reasonable, the assault weapons ban is reasonable. It's reasonable to have some waiting period. I'm not for registration. I've never been for registration," said Kerry, not making any points with people who know all of those laws he supports have been ineffective, if not counter-productive, as crime fighters. But he set some minds at ease with his avowal to not support gun registration .

But then Kerry went on, telling a reporter he'd rather have been hunting. So the reporter asked what type of hunting he preferred.

"Probably I'd have to say deer. It's tough, depending on where you are," Kerry was quoted as saying. "I go out with my trusty 12-gauge double-barrel, crawl around on my stomach. I track and move and decoy and play games and try to outsmart them. You know, you kind of play the wind. That's hunting."

Now, for those of you who don't hunt, that might seem like hunter-speak. But for those of us who hunt, it's pretty clear this guy's never been in the woods. This is not the language of a hunter. Those are not hunter's terms. It's just hard to trust a guy who's trying to convince you he's something he's not.

At the same time, President George Bush was announcing an extension and expansion of two of the most important conservation programs in the nation, but got zero media coverage for it. The Conservation Reserve Program, which sets aside marginal cropland just for wildlife and has been an amazing success, and a wetlands initiative that expands the "no net loss" program to one that actually will grow the number of marshes and swamps because of their value to wildlife, have been lauded by conservation groups across the nation. I found out about it in an e-mail from Ducks Unlimited.

The general media ignored this important conservation story, but it was quick to pounce on the news about an oil drilling plan being pushed through in New Mexico. The drilling, which it seems everyone in the nation is against except someone in the Bush White House, is proposed for one of the most pristine areas of New Mexico on the Carson National Forest -- an area with one of the best elk herds in the West.

While Bush doesn't much care about the increasingly radical environmental community and its shrill cries, he is a hunter. In the last election, I remember that Bush took opening day of dove season off to hunt on his Texas ranch. He told a reporter back then that he was going to shoot a few birds, breast them out, and barbecue them with jalapenos for dinner. The language was that of a real hunter.

When Bush finds out that elk hunters are furious over the New Mexico drilling plan, don't be surprised to see a policy change. It won't be about the just-under 400 votes that cost him New Mexico last time. It will be about caring about his hunting buddies and their conservation concerns. When it happens, it will probably be ignored by the media or spun as some vote-getting ploy.

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