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Zumbo on Cheney and Hunter Safety

Hunters received a colossal black eye when Dick Cheney shot his companion during a hunting accident. The press predictably went into a feeding frenzy, and every day we’ve been treated with copious amounts of nasty press, bad jokes and outright idiocy. One re-occurring question is: how could this happen? How could anyone be so careless so as to shoot his hunting pal?

I understand precisely how it could have happened. Hunting accidents will not go away. Some forms of hunting are more dangerous than others, and I understand that turkey hunting has the worst safety record of all. Upland bird hunting is especially perilous for obvious reasons. There can be chaotic moments when flying birds present all sorts of targets, requiring the shooter to make split-second decisions.

I was almost involved in an accident 40 years ago that duplicates the Cheney incident. I was hunting woodcock with two buddies in a dense alder thicket. We all wore orange hats, and we called out frequently or whistled to signal our location. I was in the middle of a thicket, and my companions were on either side of me. At one point, a bird got up and my buddy to my left knocked it down. He walked up in front of me to retrieve it, and I assumed he went back to his position beside me since he walked off in that direction. He didn’t. At that time we entered a stand of thick cedars, and I didn’t know he was walking directly in front of me. A bird got up, I shouldered my gun, and was tracking it when suddenly I saw orange directly behind the bird. It was my pal. I jerked up the unfired gun and realized I could have shot him. I sat down on a log with the shakes and took awhile to compose myself. 

What About the Beer?

Having said that I understand how Cheney’s accident could occur, I cannot abide with the beer he drank at lunch. I heard one argument that the accident occurred several hours after he had the beer, but do we know if he went hunting shortly after lunch? Whether he did or not, the consumption of alcohol anytime one is hunting or about to hunt is absolutely a bad deal. I don’t believe there are laws that say you can’t hunt with alcohol on your breath, but this is a matter of hunting ethics and safety, which is, of course, the primary reason we don’t drink and hunt.

Now then, I’ve had more than a few beers in my life, and I still enjoy a libation around the campfire when the guns are cleaned and put away. I’m not on a pulpit here, just expressing my disappointment. The Vice President should have known better. He should have stood by the moral code that all of us hunters subscribe to. And to add fuel to the fire, he was cited for not having the proper bird stamp. I can understand this, too, because nowadays most states require stamps for just about anything that runs, flies or crawls. But he should have been diligent enough to at least have had someone check for him.

This will blow over, though I’m not sure where Mr. Cheney’s political career will go. At the very least, I’d like to see him apologize to America’s hunters.

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Comments

hunt4life

I agree. I would love it if he apologized for being such a moron. He gives us hunters a bad name.

Richard merritts

I for one don't understand what all the hoop la is about. VP Cheney is a person as the rest of us, he puts his pants on the same way I do. If there was such an uproar over every safety violation whether it be hunting or industrial it makes no difference a safety
rule was over-looked due to the intensity of the moment and someone gor hurt. As far as it taking so long for it get to the public scutiny, he was more worried about his friend's well being than he was notifying the whole world he made a mistake. Don't you think he (Cheney) put himself through enough HELL withou the press doing it too!!!!

Greg Russell

hunt4life, the Vice President is not a moron. It was an accident, and any of us could have such an accident. I just recently took my son-in-law bird hunting. It was Very soon after the Cheney incident. We had a good drive ahead of us to get to the area we were hunting, and we talked a lot of that drive about safety. Once in the field, I went over a few safety points again, and he nodded that he understood. Half way through the hunt, he turned to me and stated that he was really surprised at how hard he had to work at always knowing where everyone was and thinking about shooting lanes and how the birds flew. It was a relief to hear him say that, because obviously, he got it.
Before you call my Vice President a moron, think about all the different ways a hunting accident could happen to you. And anyway, how disrespectful.

J.R. Hart

The VP is not a moron, just human. The VP does not owe any of us an apology except for Mr Whittington, and my guess is that he already has done that.

I agree the beer was a bad idea, but to say that all hunters subscribe to a moral code code of ethics that includes not going afield after having one beer with a sandwhich on the noon break .... well it's like saying responsible drivers never stop off for one beer at happy hour with friends before heading home ... That car is just as dangerous as the gun afield.

The accident could have happened to any of us... the witch hunt is about POLITICS and it makes me sick!

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