Hunting with a gun-toting V.P. can be bad for your health | VailDaily.com
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Hunting with a gun-toting V.P. can be bad for your health

John Hannon

The Denver Post, Monday, Feb. 13, 2006: The headline read, “Cheney shoots hunting partner.” This Associated Press lead-in had to get your attention. It certainly got mine.

The Vail Daily carried an account by the same news service that differed slightly, but carried more interesting details. I’ll just list same quotes and you can laugh, shake your head in disbelief or wonder if some people just have too much time on their hands.

“… Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot him in the face and chest when aiming for a quail.” I’ve hunted quail in the desert in California. One of the first things you learn is quail are small, feathered creatures that fly. Anything big with no feathers is something else.

“Cheney is an avid hunter who makes annual hunting trips to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. He also travels frequently to Arkansas to hunt ducks.” Might I suggest a trip to Iraq where there is an open season all year on a local species called insurgents, with a subspecies called militants? There’s no bag limit and to make it a bit more sporty, they may be shooting back.

Katherine Armstrong owns a 50,000-acre south Texas ranch and was the hostess for this fiasco. She had some interesting comments on the whole affairs. She refers to Cheney as “a very safe sportsman.” Some might say, “unsafe.” But what do they know? Read on.

“This is something that happens from time to time. You know, I’ve been peppered pretty well myself,” Armstrong is quoted as saying, and she went on to say she still carries some of the pellets in her legs. Were I a quail, I think I’d want to live on the Armstrong ranch. It looks like hunters there are as apt to shoot each other as the game they’re after.

Accompanying the article is a picture of Dickey Bird accepting what appears to be an antique rifle. The occasion was the 2004 NRA annual convention in Pittsburgh where he gave the keynote address. He has a smile on his face as he fondles this weapon. I can only wonder what his thoughts were at that time.

A final quote from K. Armstrong, “Fortunately, this vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious then we would have been.” I assume they were hunkered down behind the ambulance that was part of the package. This would keep them out of the line of fire.

No mention was made about how many quail were bagged.

Same issue, same paper, an article on Colorado native Dave Gorsuch. His is an Horatio Alger story. We should all be proud of people like Dave and his charming wife, Renie.

Look at what they accomplished in ski racing, a sport that has little support in this country. They both skied in the Olympics. They did this at a time when to reach that level, you had to pretty much pay your own way. That meant they had to provide their own equipment, travel, expenses and daily cost of living. While there were coaches, the entire support structure that is now in place did not exist.

While the article was about Dave, I could never think about Dave or Renie individually. Theirs was a match made in heaven, a partnership destined to produce so much good in so many ways. I have been privileged to meet both of these wonderful people.

This is not a story of two people born into wealth and privilege. Rather, it is the standard American dream of which so many movies have been made. It has all the ingredients: humble beginnings, action, romance, success through hard work and their natural abilities. A bit of luck doesn’t hurt and I’m sure they had that.

It is so gratifying when you see successful people like Dave and Renie who did it all on their own. May God bless them always.

Letters to the Editor: An aptly titled piece called, “A lot of smoke,” from reader Chris Salmon beating the smoking issue to death. Chris assails us with far too much scientific information, criticism of Arn Menconi and reference to “the anti-smoking industry.” The anti-smoking industry? What’s that?

Didn’t anyone else write in that day? Mr. Salmon’s epistle consumed all the space usually reserved for a whole bunch of letters.

My take on smoking is the same as I’ve stated before: put it to a referendum.

Personally, I think it is an unattractive, unsanitary, unhealthy and nasty addiction. This is from personal observation. I don’t need any supporting statistical information from endless surveys and studies.

Generations ago in China they had opium dens where the addicted could go and light up. We could bring this practice back. We could have nicotine dens. We could even name them the smoking industry.

There’s a blurb in The Denver Post issue of Thursday, February 2, 2006. Dateline: Houston. Title: Police chief favors surveillance in homes. He states his rationale as, “If you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” The man’s name is Harold Hurtt. That last name is most appropriate. I think he has a big hurt between his ears. Can you imagine some of the bedroom scenes? VT

E-mail comments about this column to editor@vailtrail.com.


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