Monday, January 9, 2017

Presidents and the Outdoors


The election season is almost over. To relate it to another season going on right now, this is likely the time of the rut for deer. This is when all the activity is going strong and hard.
Neither of the two top candidates seems to have any passion for outdoors activities in this cycle. I just don’t picture either Clinton or Trump as the hunting and fishing type. I don’t even picture them as paddlers, bikers, hikers, climbers or campers.
It hasn’t always been that way though. The last big election brought a Vice-Presidential candidate in Paul Ryan who is and was an avid bowhunter. He loved bowhunting so much that pictures of him with one of his trophies made the rounds amongst the hunting and outdoors community.
Prior, both Bush and Reagan were comfortable outdoors, although they were more comfortable on their ranches working and not known for hunting and fishing either. Vice President Cheney did enjoy hunting, and an unfortunate incident came to be during one of his hunts when he accidentally shot another that was hunting with him with bird shot.
But not all the high officials that considered hunting and fishing a favorite pastime were republicans. President Jimmy Carter loved bird hunting. During his days quail hunting was an shooting activity that many in the Southeastern United States enjoyed. Even as quail began to lose habitat prior to wildlife biologists taking a major role in our resource conservation, Carter would make frequent hunts.
One story I remember in particular was when Carter went hunting in his home state of Georgia during the late 1970’s. Carter and his secret service were walking the field in search of quail. The story didn’t mention dogs being involved, but I can only imagine there was at least one sniffing and scouring the ground in pursuit of a covey.
As Carter and his entourage continued through the field the President stepped on something. Immediately he knew the circumstances and held steady.
President Carter had stepped on a rattlesnake. He happened to have stepped on it near the head and it could not turn and strike. He held his foot firmly on the wrist-thick reptile knowing any release of pressure would allow the snake to maneuver to make an attack on the leader of the free world.
The secret service agents made a quick decision and surrounded the President, and fired on the rattler leaving it writhing but dead.
While in the midst of a cold war, President Carter’s greatest immediate danger came from something that was truly cold blooded.
Our greatest President in support of our renewable natural resources is with little debate, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a passionate hunter and secured much of America’s lands to remain pristine and undeveloped so future generations could experience the land as it had always been.
While one of the more famous reminders of Roosevelt’s passion comes in the form of an old cartoon that ran in the New York newspaper, the one of Roosevelt waiving off shooting a tree-tied bear cub, Roosevelt left many other reminders that are worth looking into.
He has several books that he authored in his pursuit of hunting various animals both across America and Africa. All of these can be found for free in digital form through simple search engines. He was not only hunting the different beasts of the world, but was attempting to help catalog each species for better conservation practices.
Roosevelt was an environmentalist before environmentalism became the cool thing to be involved with.
How refreshing it would have been to have had either of the two leading candidates take a few days and fish or hunt or stay in a tent in the outdoors with some Hershey’s chocolate bars, marsh mellows, and graham crackers? I bet they would have been much more relatable and maybe less combative.

1 comment:

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