By Karl Terry
Call it a premonition or just good judge of character, but I called Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting style into question just a few weeks before his ill-fated and much-recounted hunting accident.
The descriptions published about the vice president’s infamous hunt pretty much back up the assumptions I made about Cheney’s hunting style. Some would call it “country club hunting.” That is where pen-raised birds are planted by ranch staff and then the hunters are taken out to the area for a fine bit of sport.
The country club part comes in at the gourmet lunch where you have “a beer” before being driven out on your afternoon safari.
I guess it’s fun for some to hunt that way, but I’ve never been able to afford it. The incident earlier this month only raises further doubts with me about whether or not the majority of these type of hunters are that sincere about the sport and the safety required to participate in it.
Hunter safety was instilled in me at a pretty early age. My parents insisted on my brother and I practicing safe gun-handling procedures when we got our first Daisy BB guns. The one time I remember stepping out of line with that air rifle — we were shooting each other with sticks stuck in the barrel of the guns — we got a tough lesson.
When mom caught us at it she took the rifles away (for a long time) and immediately marched my brother and our cousins inside, where she taped everybody’s eyes shut. The punishment was to show us all what it would be like if our eyes were shot out by the BB gun. I guess that’s why that line out of the movie “A Christmas Story” where mom and dad constantly tell Ralphie he can’t have a BB gun because he’ll shoot his eye out struck home with me. None of us has forgotten having our eyes taped shut.
As I got a little older and began wanting to own a real gun and purchase a hunting license, New Mexico law and my parents required a hunter safety course. The one I enrolled in was taught by Charlie Brown. That might get a snicker from some folks, but if you lived here 35 years ago you know Brown was pretty serious about gun safety. Fortunately he was a patient man too, because my range time in the class didn’t go so well.
It was during that course that I found out I needed glasses. I couldn’t see well enough to pass the shooting screen and Brown wasn’t going to just pass me through. After my first trip to the optometrist and a little bit of practice with my new glasses, I passed.
The exact details of Cheney’s hunting accident are a little murky but some blame was placed on the hunting partner for not announcing himself. That may be true but it’s a dodge. Cheney finally made things right when he admitted he was the one who pulled the trigger on the round that dropped his friend in his tracks.
Cheney’s been properly abused by the press and Democrats over the ordeal, but I’m not so sure that’s going to rectify the situation. My prescription for safe gun handling would be to tape the veep’s eyes shut for an afternoon and take his shotgun away from him until after he passes Charlie Brown’s hunter safety course.
Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481 ext. 33 or by e-mail: