Skip to comments.Wild skeet, in history and in pop culture
Posted on 02/11/2013 4:04:43 PM PST by SJackson
The big news last week was that President Obama apparently enjoys skeet shooting.
A photograph of the president firing a gun at skeet was widely circulated, and some scoffed at the notion that Mr. Obama actually enjoyed the sport on a regular basis. But new information reveals that skeet shooting at Camp David is not just a pastime, but a necessity.
The wily skeet has been a favorite prey of hunters for several decades. Prior to that, the skeet population was beginning to wreak havoc across much of the United States. In the 1950s, wild skeet were increasingly blamed for auto accidents and crop destruction, so the government began asking hunters to target them.
The natural habitat of most North American skeet are gun ranges, rural back yards and some country clubs. Just as hogs respond to loud calls like "sooo-eee," and cats to soft beckonings like "here kitty-kitty-kitty," skeet largely emerge from hiding in response to a quick shout of, "Pull!"
Hunters everywhere soon learned that if they stood upright in the open with shotgun in hand and called out "Pull!" skeet - usually in pairs - would come flying off the ground and into the air in a curving, rainbow arc, allowing just enough time for the hunter to fire away, blasting the skeet to smithereens and sending the critters falling back to earth in two to three separate pieces each.
Naturally, this aroused the passions of PETA, which saw skeet shooting as a particularly cruel sport that rendered a defenseless skoot (the singular term for skeet) nearly unrecognizable. Also of concern was the manner in which skeet were being bred for increasingly-popular skeet shooting tournaments.
Skeet have the unique ability to remain motionless for years at a time, making their capture difficult. So, as the need arose for a supply of skeet that would satisfy the growing demand for tournaments, skeet breeding farms - often called "factories" by their critics - began springing up.
But the breeders' practice of stacking the helpless skeet into sealed boxes with little room for the circulation of air, and the storing of such boxes of live skeet in cold, dark warehouses, led to new regulations designed to treat the skeet more humanely, before they were ultimately blown to bits.
Along with new restrictions on breeding came limits on how many skeet were permitted to be "harvested" each season. But those limitations led to a natural increase in the wild skeet population, which once again began to plague motorists, farmers and even some residential homeowners, with skeet sometimes clogging gutters and drain pipes.
Therefore, in recent years, the limits on skeet shooting were largely lifted, and today skeet are rarely seen along highways, in cropland or on rooftops.
Scientists have long debated just how skeet are able to engage in their familiar short bursts of flight. Like the bumblebee, the skeet's body shape does not seem amenable to aerodynamic capabilities.
Many scientists subscribe to the theory that millions of years ago, skeet once had wings and flew long distances, even crossing continents and oceans.
Archeological expeditions have found skeet fossils in various parts of the world, but most abundantly in China, leading experts to surmise that the Far East was where skeet originated.
Some early skeet fossils do exhibit evidence of wings, and although evolution apparently resulted in the loss of such addendums, most skeet are still capable of short bursts of flight.
Some authors have postulated that skeet may have been responsible for the rash of flying saucer sightings in the 1950s, before the popularity of skeet shooting killed off most of the larger members of the species.
It is widely believed that if skeet shooting did not exist, many skeet, over time, could once again grow to proportions of 20 to 30 feet in diameter.
What was not known until last week was that Camp David, Maryland, had become infested with skeet.
The president told a magazine recently that, "In fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time."
Asked if his whole family engages in the sport, Mr. Obama said, "Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there."
In fact, due to the proliferation of skeet on the property, the First Lady is reportedly reluctant to let daughters Sasha and Malia go outside at Camp David without first being sprayed heavily with skeet repellant (the most popular brand is Skeet-X), and wearing heavy clothing to guard against skeet bites, which can cause red, itchy welts.
In popular culture, skeet are typically depicted as cute, cuddly creatures, such as in the classic 1941 Disney cartoon, "Skeeter," which recounts the adventures of a young skoot orphaned after hunters kill his parents.
The film inspired a live-action sequel, "Skeeter Come Home," telling the story of Skeeter's efforts to find his way back from being lost in tall grass. A short-lived 1970s television series, "The New Adventures of Skeeter," was criticized for repetitive plotlines and the cost-saving decision to have Skeeter portrayed by an abandoned tortoise shell.
For more on the history of skeet, check out Jane Goodall's excellent four-volume study, "The Skeet Diaries," chronicling her 25 years spent living among wild skeet in the South American rain forests, and her discovery of an ancestral link between skeet and the lesser understood "bostonian bruinis," more commonly known as the hockey puck.
Will try to find more articles for this list.
Will try to find more articles for this list.
Flocks of skeet used to blacken the skies for hours as they flew over.
Grilled Skeet, with sauteed mushrooms and onions, served over a bed of dirty rice, TONIGHT! Yum, Yum!
Last time I was at Whitefish point on Lake Superior they had signs asking us to stay on the marked trails to avoid disturbing the ground nesting Northern Skeet.
Pardon, our feast is Southern Skeet, wrapped in Wright’s Bacon (to retain moisture, don’t ya know). I’ve not seen Northern Skeet...are they fuchia like ours?
Skeet are not halal....just sayin’
I hear the skeet’s close cousin the snipe is also a problem at Camp David. The Prez needs to be taken on a snipe hunt.
Fuchia is the color of the northern skeet’s summer plumage but in the fall they turn white with dark speckles that hide them in the snowy underbrush.
Mid-to-late October, the Southern Skeet plumage turns to chartreuse ‘til late December, early January...warmer weather, global warming?? Who knows? That being said, I killed a skoot 2 feet away from lighting, last week...legal kill;-)
Oooh...that one’s a keeper. I’m thinking of making it my new chat avatar...
It’s big enough to invite the neighbors for BBQ that’s for sure.
Yes. I first went snipe hunting my first boy (cub?) scout campout long ago. It was years before I learned there really are birds called snipe and you can hunt them, if you can find them.
You haven’t lived until you have had a well made turskeeten.
Hitchcocks movie was originally called, The Skeet, and later changed to The Birds, when it was found that the skeet were much too vicious. Early scenes left pre-screen audiences horrified, with many viewers fainting from the gore and carnage the skeet inflicted on actors and film crew. Even the acclaimed director, no stranger to controversy, saw the need to recast the violent skeet with more manageable birds, thus leading to the movie title change.
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