who are content
to buy what they cannot get
by their own exertions, these are the real enemies of game."
Theodore Roosevelt's Principles of the Hunt
What do Vice Pres. Dick Cheney and Coach Bob Knight
have in common? They both have shot a hunting partner, both have hunted
without proper licenses, and both avoided the Vietnam War.
You could hardly have missed news reports last week about Cheney blasting
a lawyer while on a quail hunting trip on some billionaire lobbyist's
Texas ranch. Knight's target was neither a lawyer nor a politician,
so I give Cheney the most points for his choice of victims. Of course,
Cheney only slightly maimed his man, so he gets points deducted for
not making a clean kill. Knight failed to make a clean kill on his man
too, but he got him square in the back. Slob hunter points are tied
in the shooting category.
Knight's hunting behavior has come to public attention at least twice.
He didn't have a hunting license the day he blasted his buddy, and he
apparently had a trespassing conflict with a land owner. This is the
third time the vice president's hunting prowess has come to public attention.
The first instance involved duck shooting over bait with a Supreme Court
justice who was working on a case involving Cheney. The second incident
involved Cheney blasting 76 tame, pen-raised pheasants in Louisiana.
All indications are that Darth Vader's most recent hunting expedition
was yet another canned bird hunt. Being a quail hunter and having been
around quail hunters who hunt wild birds for 40 years, I can confidently
predict that you don't step out of your pickup truck and walk smack
into three coveys of quail. They were no doubt pen-raised birds, probably
deposited by ranch workers on the morning of Cheney's hunt. Texans are
into canned hunts like this.
Apparently the veep's victim, Republican attorney Harry Whittington,
had flushed a covey and shot a bird. When he stepped forward to pick
up his dead bird, another covey flushed and Cheney wheeled and blasted
his hunting buddy.
Our vice president broke one of the most important firearm safety rules
of them all: Make sure of your target and what is behind it before you
shoot. However, Cheney's manslaughter attempt is what wild game hunters
have come to expect from those who frequent canned hunting operations.
Like Knight, Cheney didn't find it necessary to obtain required hunting
documentation. He didn't have a game bird stamp and was fined $7. Had
that been you or me, I have no doubt Conservation Officers would have
confiscated our shotgun, maybe even our vehicle, maybe hauled me to
jail and levied a heavy fine for hunting without a license.
The shooting puts Cheney in rare company. He is one
of only two vice presidents to have actually shot a man, in a war at
least. The other is Aaron Burr who whacked Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Several vice presidents might have shot a man in war, but Cheney could
not have shot a man in war since he obtained five draft deferments to
avoid the Vietnam War. Knight was coaching at West Point at the time
and also avoided the draft.
At 20 paces, Knight with his 12 guage, Cheney with his
28 guage, I have give the edge to Knight, five-to-one odds.