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My hunting trip with John Kerry: A satirical story
By Harold Hough
I recently wrote an article questioning the hunting credentials of presidential candidate John Kerry. Ho boy, did I catch it! While most hunters agreed with me, I got an enraged phone call from the Beacon Hill Rod and Gun Club. The gentleman had an upper crust New England accent so polished that it made JFK sound like someone from the Beverly Hillbillies.
"How regular is regular?" I asked him.
"He's been here at least four times this year alone."
"Hmmm, that's more times than he has been on the Senate floor this year."
"That's not why I called you," he said testily. "The Senator has asked me to invite you up to Boston to our club so you can go hunting with him."
You could have floored me. After that article, I figured that they wouldn't even let me carry a gun within a hundred miles of him. Now he was actually inviting me to go out hunting with him. Wow! I might have misjudged him. Maybe he is really a regular guy. We quickly made the arrangements. The Beacon Hill Rod and Gun Club was going to send out its private aircraft to pick me up and I would get a whole day to spend hunting with Kerry.
Well, I have to admit that these hunters in Boston know how to hunt. Hunting for me usually entails a couple of hours in a four wheel drive truck and a washboard dirt road that disassembles my vertebrae and mixes them up like a bag of Scrabble pieces. Here I was flying at 30,000 feet in a Gulfstream, sipping a great wine. Meanwhile a liveried servant was polishing my Remington 870 shotgun.
I was no less impressed with the club's grounds. This was no dilapidated log cabin in a disheveled wood. The lodge looked like it had been built with enough redwood timber to make a national park. And the grounds - no disorder here. The leaves had been picked up and the ground was smooth and weeded. I bet the wildlife is shampooed and blow dried every week.
"Magnificent, isn't it?" a patrician type said to me while I was looking at a magnificent moose head over the fireplace. Money oozed from his pores and was soaked up by the natural fiber in the tailored clothes he wore. His was a body that probably never knew polyester, or camouflage clothing unless his London tailor made it. I also had a feeling that he didn't have a copy of Field and Stream on his coffee table back at the mansion.
"It sure is," I said. "Who shot him?"
"I believe it was Jonathan Fitzhugh Cabot in the Montana Territory in 1867."
"How about that lion over there?"
"That was donated by Sir Jefforey Winslow-Smyth, who shot him in the Belgium Congo in 1903."
"And that Cape Buffalo?"
"Deneys Van Slyke in the Orange Free State in 1898."
"Haven't you shot anything more recently?"
"We have, but nothing like these. You see, we are a progressive hunting club. We have a strict code of ethics that guides our hunting."
I looked quizzically at him.
The gentleman drew his lanky body up to its full patrician height and positioned his nose so he could look down at me. "We have higher moral standards. We do not shoot endangered species."
"Okay, but I know that there are too many elephants in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Why not hunt there?"
"We do not use improper firearms and ammunition at this club. We must set standards for the majority of hunters who don't have the education or intelligence we have," he said with a look of moral superiority."
"Did you plan to shoot elephants with a 50 caliber machinegun?"
The gentleman seemed to shrink a little. Under that cashmere blazer was someone who wanted to be a hunter, but was afraid of what his friends and business associates would think if he was politically incorrect. "You see," he confessed, "the only bullets that are big enough to shoot an elephant are capable of penetrating a policeman's bulletproof vest, and therefore in the eyes of most club members unfit for sporting purposes. Personally I would love to shoot an elephant, but the club wants to maintain its standards of political progressiveness."
"I can see their concern," I said. "Next think you know, neighborhood gangs will be shooting each other with custom made, hand engraved, double barreled Holland & Holland 700 Nitro Expresses. Personally, I think its time for you to change clubs. Out in Arizona, we don't." I could feel a flurry of excitement behind me. I turned and there was Kerry entering the room with a covey of lackeys darting hither and yon around him.
Kerry walked up to me and gave a firm handshake. "I'm so glad to meet you. I hope the trip was comfortable."
"Yes, Senator Kerry, it was. It was nice of you to invite me."
"Of course it was. Now down to business," Kerry said without looking at me. You know that what we are doing is important and we don't want to make any mistakes?"
"I couldn't agree with you more," I said. It was good to hear him talking about hunting safety.
"It is up to you if I become incapacitated or die," he said. Boy, talk about pessimism. Is he that skittish about guns or did he think I might be tempted to take a shot at him.
"I don't think you should worry that much," I said. "Your Secret Service detail can take care of anything that happens."
"No. I mean Iraq."
"Well, there will probably be a few people over there cheering if you die. But I wouldn't worry. I'm sure that the guerillas will be happier hearing that Bush is dead."
"No," he said with a flash of haughty exasperation. "I mean what will you do in Iraq then?"
"What. Are we going hunting there?"
"No." He was looking at me in a strange manner, sort of like Lurch in the Addams Family. He seemed to change his mind, "Forget it. What do you think about Roe vs. Wade?"
"I'm sorry, I'm haven't done much fishing, so I haven't used fish eggs for bait," I said. "Nor do I own any waders." I could now understand why his handlers try to keep him out of the public eye. This guy flip-flops in mid-thought. One minute talking about hunting in Iraq and then asking me about fishing.
Kerry looked at one of his aides questioningly. The aide whispered into Kerry's ear. His face changed expressions, something I thought you couldn't do after botox injections. "I'm sorry Mr. Hough. I thought you were on my short list for vice president."
I was relieved. I thought those were weird questions for someone going hunting. Of course, asking a vice president his opinion about fish eggs struck me as a bit weird too, but I guess that was just Kerry's thoroughness. Maybe he wants to tax them.
Kerry waved his sycophants away with his hand and motioned me over to a far corner of the room. "I was disturbed by your article," he told me a tone that reminded me of a prep school teacher lecturing a student caught with a Playboy. "I'm really a skilled hunter. In fact, it was my great skill as a hunter that allowed me to become a combat hero in Vietnam - you did know I was in Vietnam, didn't you?"
I nodded in the affirmative. Why was I getting this feeling that finding the unvarnished truth about Kerry's hunting abilities was going to be more challenging than finding quail amongst a herd of stampeding elephants? My eyes started to glaze over.
Truth be told, Kerry did know how to hunt in style. We had three SUVs for transportation, two gun bearers, and a half a dozen Purdy shotguns, any one of which was worth more than my house. When we got to the field we were going to hunt, there were at least three dozen beaters. At least, I though they were beaters. They turned out to be the press corps.
I have to admit that Kerry was a good shot too. True, the bobwhites were a little dazed when they were released from their cages, but like a good sportsman, the Senator did wait for them to take off before shooting them.
So, how was Kerry as a hunter? I have to admit that he knew more than I thought. He was also willing to share his food, which was brought out to the field by his servants. However, he has been in the Senate a little too long and has taken the concept of Senatorial privilege a bit too far. I don't mind retrieving a bird that someone else shot, especially if I'm near it, but I'll be darned if I ever bring them back in my mouth again.
Harold Hough is a hunter and shooter, who consults and writes so he can pay for hunting licenses, ammunition, range fees, and new firearms. His last book, Satellite Imagery for the Masses came out in January. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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