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How Did Dick Cheney Break the No.1 Rule of Hunting?
Time Magazine ^ | 02/13/2006 | Timothy Burger

Posted on 02/13/2006 10:38:19 AM PST by SirLinksalot

How Did Dick Cheney Break the No.1 Rule of Hunting?

For veteran sportsmen like the vice president, safety is a core value

By TIMOTHY J. BURGER/WASHINGTON

The cardinal rule of hunting could not be more simple: Don’t shoot the people (or the dogs). If there’s anyone in Washington who knows this, one would have thought it would be Vice President Dick Cheney, who accidentally shot his friend and fellow hunter Harry Whittington, 78, late Saturday afternoon. Whittington is expected to recover from his injuries, but the question will linger on: how does an accident like this happen among hunters with so much experience?

For years, Cheney's take-charge public image has been bolstered by photos of him fly fishing in Wyoming and stories about Cheney jetting into hunting hotspots for quail, pheasant and other game. While serving as a congressman from Wyoming — before President Bush’s father tapped him for secretary of defense in 1989 — Cheney was a solid ally of the National Rifle Association, the staunch defender of gun rights, which also preaches gun safety.

Cheney frequently hunts ducks in Arkansas, Texas and South Dakota. His hunting career had been relatively smooth until controversy arose after he was reported to have taken conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hunting in Louisiana in 2004, just after the Court had agreed to hear a case involving the secrecy of documents related to the Vice President’s 2001 work heading an energy task force. (Cheney was in favor of keeping them secret.)

Cheney also drew attention for reportedly shooting ducks and some 70 pen-raised pheasants at the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in southwestern Pennsylvania in December 2003. Experts were quoted at the time as saying there’s nothing wrong, legally at least, with blasting away at stocked birds. But depending on how and when they are released, it should not be confused with actual hunting, since disoriented birds placed in the field or released in front of the shooters are often neither as wary or elusive as wild quarry.

An eyewitness account reported by the Associated Press suggests that Cheney may have, in the heat of the moment, violated the No. 1 rule of hunting by failing to keep track of his hunting buddies at all times. The AP quoted the ranch's owner saying that Cheney could easily have failed to see Whittington, as the latter walked up behind the Vice President from lower ground and in tall grass. To be sure, safety should be paramount for everyone in a hunting party and some responsibility would have fallen to Whittington to make sure his fellow hunters knew he might be just out of sight behind them. But for the shooter, hunting safety dictates that focusing on the target should never be more important than keeping in mind what's behind it.

Accidents can happen, of course, in a single careless moment. Quail, when you find them and they flush, don’t exactly follow gun-safety rules. They fly up suddenly and may go in any direction. And the first thing that happens to the hunter is the adrenaline rush. That’s why quail hunters wear orange, as Cheney's group reportedly were. And that’s why experts counsel the hunter not to sweep the shotgun around and fire if they don’t know what’s in the line of fire. Knowing what's behind the target is also a rule with which, one can bet, Cheney’s Secret Service detail would have wanted Whittington himself to be intimate.

What probably spared Whittington more critical injury was the tiny size of birdshot being used on the hunt; quail are typically hunted with No. 8 shot, which is even smaller than BBs. After the accident, Whittington's face "looks like chicken pox, kind of. He's so lucky, it's a miracle," Whittington's daughter Sally told the Dallas Morning News. Cheney visited Whittington in the hospital the next day. The vice president "feels so bad," said Sally Whittington. "He's a very accomplished hunter. He was obviously relieved to see how well my father was doing."

If Cheney now finds himself criticized or lampooned, he'll ironically be in the same position he himself put Senator John Kerry in during the final days of the 2004 Presidential campaign, though the circumstances then did not involve a potentially deadly accident. At the time, Cheney used his widely-known experience as a hunter to mock a duck-hunting foray in Ohio in which Senator John Kerry ended up shooting a goose. "The senator who gets a grade of 'F' from the National Rifle Association went hunting this morning," Cheney reportedly said, to hoots. "I understand he bought a new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which did make me wonder how regularly he does go goose hunting.” As the Texas incident shows, experience does not make hunters immune to accidents, which is why hunting advocacy groups put such a relentless focus on safety as the top priority.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: accident; bang; cheney; harrywhittington; hunting; quailgate; rule
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1 posted on 02/13/2006 10:38:21 AM PST by SirLinksalot
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To: SirLinksalot

We definitely need a picture of Al Gore and his gun on this thread.


2 posted on 02/13/2006 10:39:53 AM PST by dawn53
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To: SirLinksalot

At least Whittington would have earned a Purple Heat, unlike Senator Kerry (Mr. Bandaid)!


3 posted on 02/13/2006 10:40:18 AM PST by CWW (He)
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To: SirLinksalot

One would think the first rule of hunting would be not to walk where hunters are likely to shoot, without warning them you're there. Okay, maybe the second.


4 posted on 02/13/2006 10:41:36 AM PST by steelcurtain
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: SirLinksalot

Blame goes to both shooter and shootee.


6 posted on 02/13/2006 10:41:58 AM PST by cripplecreek (Never a minigun handy when you need one.)
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To: SirLinksalot

Remember when Vince Foster went hunting?


7 posted on 02/13/2006 10:42:20 AM PST by opinionator
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To: SirLinksalot
but the question will linger on: how does an accident like this happen among hunters with so much experience?

My guess is that, at age 78, Whittington simply can't get outta the way as fast as the quail.

8 posted on 02/13/2006 10:42:56 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: SirLinksalot

I thought the number one rule is you have to shout, "it's coming right for us" before you shoot.


9 posted on 02/13/2006 10:43:10 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: SirLinksalot

Wow! In the coming weeks we are going to get schooled by the left about guns and hunting!

Should be fun!


10 posted on 02/13/2006 10:43:26 AM PST by VeniVidiVici (What? Me worry?)
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To: cripplecreek

"Blame goes to both shooter and shootee."

I would agree.

A hard way to learn the lesson though. But thankfully not as hard a lesson as it could have been.


11 posted on 02/13/2006 10:43:46 AM PST by Names Ash Housewares
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To: SirLinksalot

My dad and I were shot at years ago while chukar hunting. High brush, the shooter was uphill from us, etc. We ducked behind some rocks until the danger was past, then dad found the hunter later and chewed him out.

Then there was the time I almost shot the antenna off my dad's buddy's truck...


12 posted on 02/13/2006 10:44:07 AM PST by randog (What the....?!)
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To: dawn53
"We definitely need a picture of Al Gore and his gun on this thread."

Yes,
The one of him in Nam, looking down the barrel

13 posted on 02/13/2006 10:44:21 AM PST by DeaconRed (IF . . . . . . . . . . . . . .)
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To: SirLinksalot

Anyone here see the supreme irony of being lectured on firearms safety by the Brady Bunch of Time, Inc?


14 posted on 02/13/2006 10:44:26 AM PST by Redbob (I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than ride in a car with Teddy Kennedy!)
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To: SirLinksalot
"The cardinal rule of hunting could not be more simple: Don’t shoot the people (or the dogs)."

I'm not sure a lawyer falls into either category.

15 posted on 02/13/2006 10:45:14 AM PST by CWOJackson (Tancredo? Wasn't he the bounty hunter in Star Wars?)
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To: steelcurtain
One would think the first rule of hunting would be not to walk where hunters are likely to shoot, without warning them you're there.

No, the first rule of hunting is to make sure you won't hit something other than what you are aiming at. Even if you have a moron in range, it is your responsibility to make sure you don't hit them - especially when they are wearing orange.

It's amazing to see this kind of nonsense being plugged on FR - which is otherwise the premier firearms site on the web.

16 posted on 02/13/2006 10:45:23 AM PST by dirtboy (I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?)
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To: SirLinksalot

I just want to know one thing:

Did he hit the quail?


17 posted on 02/13/2006 10:45:25 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (I might be wrong, but I'm always right.)
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To: VeniVidiVici

Cheney shot a Texas Republican, I thought Time and the rest of the MSM would be organizing a ticker tape parade by now.


18 posted on 02/13/2006 10:45:59 AM PST by Agent Smith (Fallujah delenda est. (I wish))
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To: SirLinksalot

1.) Don't run out of beer.


19 posted on 02/13/2006 10:46:12 AM PST by johnny7 (“Iuventus stultorum magister”)
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To: SirLinksalot

You just know there will be some lame skit on Saturday Night LIve about this. I predict it will be something along the lines of Cheney shooting anything that moves while his mobile medical team scrambles to "fix" everyone and everything.

Of course we'll never know because no one will see that stupid show.


20 posted on 02/13/2006 10:46:43 AM PST by subterfuge ("We're going to take things from you for the greater good..."---Hillary Rod-Ham Clinton)
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To: Voter#537
"We definitely need a picture of Al Gore and his gun on this thread."

Last I checked, Al Gore's poor gun safety practices did not result in the injury of someone else.

So why do we rip into Al Gore's poor gun safety but apologize for Cheney's?

21 posted on 02/13/2006 10:46:47 AM PST by dirtboy (I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?)
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To: SirLinksalot
I have been shot under very similar circumstances. Fortunately I followed the rising bird and saw my friends gun following the flight of the bird and threw up my arm to shield my face from the birdshot. I had on a canvas jacket and some of the shot stung me but did not break the skin.

It happens. Target fixation is a problem in all shooting sports. We participate in a dangerous sport while accepting the risk and despite the risk.

22 posted on 02/13/2006 10:47:19 AM PST by Ben Mugged ("Television is the most perfect democracy, You sit there with your remote control and vote")
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To: dirtboy

I was joking.


23 posted on 02/13/2006 10:47:19 AM PST by steelcurtain
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To: Redbob
Anyone here see the supreme irony of being lectured on firearms safety by the Brady Bunch of Time, Inc?

Given some of the attempts here to downplay Cheney's poor hunting safety on the web's premier firearms website, I'd say there is plenty of irony to go around here.

24 posted on 02/13/2006 10:48:13 AM PST by dirtboy (I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?)
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To: SirLinksalot

One of my hunting partners witnessed a trajic accident and became a safety fanatic. Unfortunately, he could not see me for the thick brush and I got a load of #7 1/2 shot in the butt. My mistake was in wandering out of sight so he did not know where I was.


25 posted on 02/13/2006 10:48:19 AM PST by darth
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To: SirLinksalot

Written by someone that never hunted.


26 posted on 02/13/2006 10:48:27 AM PST by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: SirLinksalot

One of my hunting partners witnessed a trajic accident and became a safety fanatic. Unfortunately, he could not see me for the thick brush and I got a load of #7 1/2 shot in the butt. My mistake was in wandering out of sight so he did not know where I was.


27 posted on 02/13/2006 10:48:37 AM PST by darth
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To: steelcurtain
I was joking.

Unfortunately, some folks saying the same thing on FR are not.

28 posted on 02/13/2006 10:48:39 AM PST by dirtboy (I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?)
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To: SirLinksalot

The owner of the property said that Whittington was heading out to join up with the hunting party (so wasn't "with" the hunting party). She also said he was hit from a range of about 30 yards. In tall grass and brush that's quite a ways to be seen and heard.

Of course as a shooter you need to always be aware of what's around you, so perhaps this is no excuse. But, it does change my perception of the accident quite a bit.


29 posted on 02/13/2006 10:49:19 AM PST by geopyg (Ever Vigilant, Never Fearful)
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To: CWOJackson
"I'm not sure a lawyer falls into either category.

The rule about lawyers is this:

They aren't supposed to get up.

Its kinda like that joke: Whats the saddest thing on the face of the earth? A bus full of lawyers going over a cliff. . . . . .
With one empty seat! ! ! !

30 posted on 02/13/2006 10:49:59 AM PST by DeaconRed (IF . . . . . . . . . . . . . .)
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To: SirLinksalot
He got too comfortble and got careless. It happens all the time.

I think the technical name for it is "accident"!!

31 posted on 02/13/2006 10:50:26 AM PST by airborne
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To: SirLinksalot

The shooter is responsible for where his shot goes. There is never an excuse for accidentally shooting someone. Having said all that, shooting one lawyer is a good first step.


32 posted on 02/13/2006 10:50:26 AM PST by LOC1
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To: cripplecreek
Sure - please explain which basic rule of hunting the 'shootee' broke.

Since it is so obvious with regard to the shooter, I don't need for you to answer that one.

Also, for any contention that the 'shootee' did something wrong, can you point me to your source for the factual basis?

Finally, for any contention that the 'shootee' did something wrong, please advise whether any such wrongdoing caused the VP to pull the trigger with a man in front of his shotgun.

33 posted on 02/13/2006 10:50:33 AM PST by lugsoul ("Try not to be sad." - Laura Bush)
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To: dfwgator
I thought the number one rule is you have to shout, "it's coming right for us" before you shoot.

Yep. Then you argue:


34 posted on 02/13/2006 10:50:34 AM PST by Hank Rearden (Never allow anyone who could only get a government "job" attempt to tell you how to run your life.)
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To: dirtboy

Sometimes accidents just happen. We have somehow, over the last few years (or decades) lost sight of that fact. Now, someone always has to be at fault.


35 posted on 02/13/2006 10:51:06 AM PST by Russ
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To: LOC1
"The shooter is responsible for where his shot goes. There is never an excuse for accidentally shooting someone."

We have a winner. Who will probably be flamed for being correct.

36 posted on 02/13/2006 10:51:25 AM PST by lugsoul ("Try not to be sad." - Laura Bush)
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To: Russ

If you pull the trigger of a shotgun and there is someone in front of your shotgun that you don't intend to shoot, it is your fault. Period.


37 posted on 02/13/2006 10:52:21 AM PST by lugsoul ("Try not to be sad." - Laura Bush)
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To: rightinthemiddle
I just want to know one thing:

Did he hit the quail?

Actually he got a twofer. A quail AND a lawyer!

38 posted on 02/13/2006 10:53:42 AM PST by jslade (Liberalism ALWAYS accomplishes the exact opposite of it's stated intent!)
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To: SirLinksalot
 
the question will linger on: how does an accident like this happen among hunters with so much experience?

If this question was posed as: "how does an incident like this happen among hunters with so much experience?" ... then it would be a question in search of an answer, however, it wasn't worded this way and the question actually has the answer embedded within itself. The use of the term ACCIDENT is the answer period.


39 posted on 02/13/2006 10:54:15 AM PST by HawaiianGecko (Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.)
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To: lugsoul

If you look you'll see the explanation all over the thread. Now I'm remembering something I read about arguing with fools and shutting up.


40 posted on 02/13/2006 10:54:17 AM PST by cripplecreek (Never a minigun handy when you need one.)
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To: dirtboy
"So why do we rip into Al Gore's poor gun safety but apologize for Cheney's?"

Who is apologizing?

I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?) YES

41 posted on 02/13/2006 10:54:34 AM PST by DeaconRed (IF . . . . . . . . . . . . . .)
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To: SirLinksalot

One of the number one rules in driving a car is not to hit anything, But my wife has hit the door of the garage twice now, and I jack kifed the trailer too tight with my pickup and bent the fender. Its called an accident and they happen.


42 posted on 02/13/2006 10:55:22 AM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: Russ
Sometimes accidents just happen. We have somehow, over the last few years (or decades) lost sight of that fact. Now, someone always has to be at fault.

I'm sorry, but the vast majority of hunting accideents don't just happen. They are usually the fault of either poor firearms handling or poor field safety. From what I have read, it was a disorgainzed scramble into the field after two coveys. It was stupid to flush the second covey until everyone was back in position from the first covey.

43 posted on 02/13/2006 10:55:49 AM PST by dirtboy (I'm fat, I sleep most of the winter and I saw my shadow yesterday. Does that make me a groundhog?)
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To: dirtboy

I'm hazarding a guess here, but it appears a combination of factors lead to this accident.

The guy who got shot came up behind the group just as a covey of quail was flushed, and was in tall grass, which may have partially obscured the vest.

If Mr. Cheney turned and focused on a bird, objects behind the bird would tend to disappear, because the eye is focused on the bird.

So, what I'm getting from all this is a confluence of events that ended in this mistake.

Mr. Cheney's friend being a few seconds earlier or later is probably the difference between getting shot and not getting shot.

My point is that we weren't there and it's easy to sit in judgment from a distance.


44 posted on 02/13/2006 10:56:45 AM PST by stylin_geek (Liberalism: comparable to a chicken with its head cut off, but with more spastic motions)
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To: cripplecreek
You mean the 'walked up behind him part'? Where exactly should you walk with regard to a shooter? In front of him?

Your ad hominem only means you don't have any basis for your unsupported and downright silly comment that this man is somehow 'at fault' for being shot.

45 posted on 02/13/2006 10:56:58 AM PST by lugsoul ("Try not to be sad." - Laura Bush)
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To: lugsoul

"We have a winner. Who will probably be flamed for being correct."

Not by me but, dang! Ultimately it was Cheney's fault but this is the biggest non-story I have ever seen. Next we'll be bombarded with media drivel about how Condi slammed someone's fingers in the car door or how Rumsfeld left the door open and the cat got hit by a truck.

Accidents happen to everybody.


46 posted on 02/13/2006 10:57:06 AM PST by L98Fiero
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To: SirLinksalot

The White House is taking tort reform way too seriously...


47 posted on 02/13/2006 10:57:16 AM PST by DTogo (I haven't left the GOP, the GOP left me.)
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To: dawn53; Voter#537

48 posted on 02/13/2006 10:57:41 AM PST by Arrowhead1952 (I never got a job from a person on a government program.)
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To: Arrowhead1952

Thanks!


49 posted on 02/13/2006 10:59:01 AM PST by dawn53
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To: Arrowhead1952

Notice no clip in the rifle. Which is a good thing because that pose is a good way to lose your head.


50 posted on 02/13/2006 10:59:41 AM PST by LOC1
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