Even though sport hunters account for only four percent of the nation -- not much more than vegetarians and considerably less than LGBTs -- many candidates, even dove candidates, feel compelled to don Blaze Orange and show the nation their Davy Crockett (or Annie Oakley) side.
Who can forget Bill Clinton and John Kerry's campaign-timed duck outings for the benefit of photographers ? And Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton's verbal credentialing during the last election? (Romney ended up ridiculed by the gun press for calling himself a lifelong hunter on the basis of a few hunting trips in which he shot rodents, rabbits and "small varmints" and Clinton was termed "Annie Oakley" by the man who would defeat her.)
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's hunting histrionics were especially embarrassing when he was gunning for the presidency.
No one had thought he was soft on animals anyway, after defending New Mexico's legal cockfighting on the Tonight show in 2006 by saying there were "strong arguments on both sides." ("Really?" replied Jay Leno. "What's the good argument for cockfighting? It keeps roosters off the street? It gives those roosters without any skills a chance to make it?")
Nonetheless, Richardson decided to try larger fare than his usual doves for an election boost, though the latter is more difficult, he told the press. "When you're doing oryx and elk, you tend to get one or two shots. You've got to find them," he told the Associated Press.
At Ted Turner's Armendaris Ranch in New Mexico where hunters pay thousands to kill bison, deer, antelopes and turkeys according to National Geographic, Richardson killed an oryx, a long-horned, African antelope. Photos show him kneeling beside the beast, its muzzle sunk into the sand, in a mirror image of Sarah Palin's famous pose beside her caribou, bleeding from its mouth, with her daughter in tow. A fence is clearly visible in the background.
Still, Richardson's play for guydom fared better than that of presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who is also a Baptist preacher.
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