This Day in History: Dick Cheney shoots his friend while hunting

The now famous Dick Cheney hunting incident was February 11, 2006 as the then-Vice President Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington during a quail hunt.

photo donkeyhotey

photo donkeyhotey

Whittington said, “Accidents do and will happen – and that’s what happened last Friday,” a week later.

The NY Times headline read: Cheney shoots fellow hunter in mishap on a Texas ranch

Here’s the official timeline: Cheney, Whittington and Willeford had first shot birds together in a covey. While Whittington was searching for a downed bird, Cheney, Willeford and an ‘Outrider’ (Guide) walked towards another covey about 100 yards (100 m) away. Whittington approached to within 30 or 40 yards (40 m) of the shooters. A single bird flew up, around and behind Cheney in the direction of Whittington. Cheney shot at the bird and hit Whittington. (Source)

Four years later Whittington reportedly told the Washington Post that he bears no ill will toward Cheney. He calls him “a very capable and honorable man” and adds, “He’s said some very kind things to me.”

But the headlines all read: No apology.

Cheney jokes flooded TV programs.

“Over the weekend while on a hunting trip down in Texas, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a member of his hunting party. He apologized. In fact, he told Brit Hume that he was actually trying to hit Cindy Sheehan.” –Jay Leno

“Dick Cheney and his buddies go down there hunting in Texas, and Dick Cheney guns down a guy. And they’re hunting quail, and the quail disappeared. They vanished. And reports now that they’re hiding in the mountainous area near Pakistan” –David Letterman

“President Bush says he is standing behind the vice president. Way behind him.” –Jay Leno

“Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt … making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.” –Jon Stewart (Watch video clip)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney in another hunting accident

Cheney’s gun malfunctioned during an antelope hunting contest in Wyoming. But, unlike the former No. 2’s 2006 hunting accident, nobody was hurt this time.


Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 .
Former Vice President Dick Cheney suffered another hunting accident over the weekend, but this time nobody was injured.

Cheney’s gun malfunctioned during an antelope hunting contest Sunday in his native Wyoming, preventing the former lawmaker from getting his shot off.

Cheney said the gun failed due to a “problem with the manufacturer.”

“I don’t take it personally,” he told Wyoming’s K2TV. “I’m sure there was a small problem with the manufacturer. But I will be back next year.”

Cheney, an avid hunter, nearly killed his hunting partner in 2006 in a another shooting accident.

Cheney seriously injured Harry Whittington, his quail hunting partner after he accidentally shot him in the face, neck and chest.

Whittington, a Texas lawyer and contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, suffered a heart attack during the incident but ultimately survived.

Read more:

To Breed or Not to Breed

Yesterday I asked the question, “Who is the creeping cancer?” The choice was between the bison—a species nearly hunted off the face of the Earth that is still extinct over practically all its former range—or humans.

The answer is so ridiculously obvious it’s hardly worth asking; while the human species increases by over one million infants a day (1,000 were born just in the past minute), almost every other life form is on its way out of existence.

Thus, when the Seattle Times recently ran a piece by one of their columnists, Sharon Pian Chan, titled “Why I am not having kids,” I felt it was my duty to share the link here.  Chan brings up many good reasons not to breed, but the benefit to the environment was only mentioned once: “…not having a child is the most important thing I could do to reduce my carbon footprint, according to a 2009 study by Oregon State University statisticians. (Of course, like all parents, I believe my theoretical child would have grown up to become a brilliant physicist and saved the world from global warming, so this is a moot point.)”

Possibly…on the other hand it could have grown up to become the next Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Bundy or terrible Ted Nugent.

Chan goes on to point out that by not having kids… “I will have a lot more attention and money to shower on real-life nieces, nephews, mentees and philanthropic causes.” Causes like educating the masses on just how many ways human overpopulation is ruining the planet, perhaps?

Those contemplating childbirth could always benefit from a bit of trivia, such as the fact that though it’s taken all of human history to until around the year 1800 for the world human population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in less than 30 years (1959), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987). During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.

The world population clock estimates that by 2025 the eight-billionth will be born and in 2045 the planet will be expected to feed and provide for nine billion hungry human beings. All the while the world will continue to see its biodiversity vanish.

Paul R. Ehrlich, author of the 1960s bestseller, The Population Bomb, foresaw peril in the ongoing disappearance of all other life forms except ours: “It isn’t a question of people or animals–it’s got to be both of us or we’re finished. We can’t get along without them. They could get along without us.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Time to control gun violence—against animals

As predictable as the fact that there will be another mass shooting in this country again sometime is the inevitability that when it happens talk of controlling gun violence will crop up again. The two seem to go hand in hand. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a case in point; the media has been rife with talk of controlling gun violence—against people.

But when I saw a recent article about a handgun buyback it hit me: most mass murderers use high-powered rifles—hunting rifles—but the buyback is only for handguns. Why isn’t there a buyback on hunting rifles? Oh, that’s right, hunting is a sacred institution—perpetuated by the likes of Dick Cheney, Ted Nugent and the NRA—no one can touch it. Forget all the violence done to animals, or even to crowds of people, if it means going up against hunting.

Never do you hear a peep about stopping gun violence against non-human animals. It’s as if they are inanimate objects, living targets to practice on. But if we really want to prevent the next school shooting or mass murder of mall shoppers, isn’t it time we address the violence inspired and nurtured by hunting?


The “Euphoria” of Killing?

When a friend sent me a link to an article about a popular new pro-hunting book that came out within a week of the release of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I knew I’d have to think of a way to respond. As it turns out, the author of The Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, a young woman from New York City (who decides to emulate Sarah Palin and take up hunting), has made that an easy task.

She came right out and spilled the beans about her feelings (or lack thereof) when she opened fire on a pheasant (one of Dick Cheney’s favorite targets) and made her first kill:

“It felt incredible. It really felt pure. Like euphoria to me. It was just this amazing rush of excitement and pride and relief, and I know this word gets overused a lot, but it was empowering. I didn’t believe I had it in me to do that. It shocked me.”

There’s nothing like getting in touch with your inner psychopath, I guess.

In the article, the author of “The Mild” relates that she was also surprised that she didn’t feel much guilt afterwards. Though rarer than their male counterparts, female psychopaths share the same trademark characteristics: a lack of empathy, remorse or guilt.

It’s curious that she chose a pheasant as the first victim of her quest to live off the spoils of nature, since pheasants are non-native, farm-raised birds who are often kept in captivity like chickens or turkeys before being released into fields frequented by hunters.

I saw this unnatural process for myself back in my early college days. At the time I’d enrolled in a wildlife “management” course, during my brief flirtation with the notion that a true animal lover could find happiness working for the “Game” Department.

Thinking it might help me get ahead in the field, I stopped in to volunteer at a local wildlife “recreation” area. The “game” manager that ran the place was busy herding pheasants from a pen area into a cage. Though only a about foot wide, a foot high and six feet long, the cage was intended to contain a dozen of the big birds. To my delight, one of them got away before he could close the cage door. But the pheasant’s freedom was short-lived—within a minute a shotgun blast rang out and one of the bird hunters “recreating” there soon walked by carrying the carcass of the half-tame “game” bird. I decided on the spot not to pursue the field of “wildlife management” any further.

Presumably the purpose of The Call of the Mild is to inspire more people to take up arms against the wildlife. Let’s hope it’s not successful. However, it does give me an idea for tomorrow’s blog post: “The Day Seven Billion People Decided to Hunt Their Own Dinner.”