Candidates hunt the hook-and-bullet vote

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, August/September 1996:

WASHINGTON D.C.––Secret Service agents on July 11
questioned James Carl Brown, 21, of Camarillo, California, on suspicion
that he may have been gunning for President Bill Clinton. Port
Hueneme police arrested Brown earlier in the day for allegedly shooting
three ducks with a crossbow. They found a target scrawled on a
newspaper photo of Clinton, about 20 automatic rifles and handguns,
and “militia-type paraphernalia and propaganda” in a search of his
apartment, according to police sergeant Jerry Beck.
Fellow hunters may wonder about Brown. While Clinton
and vice president Albert Gore avidly court their votes, the National
Rifle Association is figuratively gunning for opponent Robert Dole,
the former Senator from Kansas, who told CBS News on July 12 that
he would veto a Congressional attempt––supported by most of the
House Republican majority––to repeal the ban on assault weapons
signed by Clinton in 1994.

Said NRA chief lobbyist Tanya Metaska, “Members will be
active in state and local legislative elections, but I doubt they’ll be
active in the Presidential election. President Clinton is the most antigun
President ever to occupy the White House, but our members are
very deeply disappointed and disillusioned with Senator Dole.”
Trying to overcome the “anti-gun” label, Clinton pointedly
shot a cage-reared duck at a Maryland canned hunt during the debate
over the assault rifle bill. On June 21, the Clinton administration pro-
posed opening another nine National Wildlife Refuges to hunting and
another 12 to fishing. “This makes 23 new refuge hunting programs
and 18 new refuge fishing programs that have been opened by this
administration,” boasted Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Hunting is
now permitted in 283 of the 508 National Wildlife Refuges; fishing is
permitted in 276.
In a simultaneous gesture to trappers, Clinton wrote on June
20 to Ark Trust president Gretchen Wyler, “My Administration supports
the adoption of internationally agreed-upon, effective, and practi-
cal standards for humane trapping,
and Acting U.S. Trade Representative
Charles Barshefsky is working
with the European Commission
and the Canadian Trade Minister to
adopt such measures. We believe
that unilateral European Union
action banning trade in [pelts
caught with]steel jaw leghold traps
would be both ineffective and
unfair and would cause considerable
damage to our fur industry, an
important source of employment
for many Americans.
“Currently,” Clinton
added, “the U.S., along with
Russia and Canada, is participating
in a technical experts group established
to develop international standards
for humane fur trapping. The
progress made by this group provides
hope that we will find a longterm
Clinton failed to mention
that his administration has excluded
animal protection representatives
from the U.S. delegation to the
technical experts group, which is
headed by Tom Krausse, editor of
The American Trapper, the membership
magazine of the National
Trappers Association.
Clinton won praise over
the winter by repeatedly vetoing
Republican budget bills that included
anti-endangered species protection
riders. Overlooked was
Clinton’s own role in drastically
reducing the inventory of species
awaiting consideration for
Endangered Species Act protection,
cutting the animal protection budgets
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and Bureau of Land
Management, and weakening U.S.
support of international species protection
programs, including the
Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species and the
International Whaling Commission
moratorium on commercial whaling.
[See page 10, second paragraph.] Political wisdom
Conventional political
wisdom holds that animal protection
advocates are liberal, female,
and––disgusted with both major
political parties––mostly don’t vote.
If they do vote, they vote Democrat.
Democrats therefore take them for
granted; Republicans ignore them.
Hunters, fishers, and
trappers are by contrast reputedly
conservative, male, avid voters,
and politically fickle. Only two
presidents in this century, John F.
Kennedy and Richard Nixon,
ignored the hook-and-bullet crowd
with impunity. Kennedy could
ignore them in 1960 because his
opponent, Richard Nixon, ignored
them also. Nixon, a non-hunting
Quaker, disdained the hook-andbullet
boys as “Bubbas,” but found
a different means of winning the
same alienated white blue-collar
vote in 1968 and 1972, the so-called
Southern Strategy, followed by
Republican candidates ever since.
But all subsequent candidates,
Republican and Democrat,
have found it expedient to toss
Bubba live bait.
Bob Dole isn’t likely to be
an exception. Though his withered
right hand prevents him from firing
shotguns and rifles effectively, and
no one can remember when he last
went hunting or fishing, he likes to
talk about coondogs. “That dog
won’t hunt,” he said of Hilary
Clinton’s failed national health plan
in 1993. His rural Kansas constitutency
expects––and gets––a good ol’
boy public image.
But Nixon was Dole’s
political mentor. Dole helped pass
the Wild and Free Roaming Horse
and Burro Act, the Marine Mammal
Protection Act, and the Endangered
Species Act, all during the Nixon
administration. Dole also had a
leading part in passing the Animal
Welfare Act, the 1985 amendments
strengthening the Animal Welfare
Act, and the 1991 Pet Theft Act.
In 1988, Dole’s advisors
reportedly considered but scrapped a
weak pro-“animal rights” platform
statement, apparently along the
lines of “be kind to animals.”
Though the statement never got
beyond the rumor stage, it had a
profound impact on the animal rights
movement: from mid-1988 to mid1991,
Compassion for Animals
Foundation president Gil Michaels
poured $2 million into expanding
The Animals’ Voice from a regional
newsletter into a glossy national
magazine, after then-A n i m a l s ’
A g e n d a editor-at-large Patrice
Greanville ripped Dole’s voting
record on other humanitarian issues.
On April 4, The New York
T i m e s reported, Dole entered a
video store in Bal Harbour, Florida,
clamoring to rent the violent epic
Braveheart, but exited with B a b e,
the story of a pig who doesn’t want
to be slaughtered.
On June 19, Dole even
made a statement of sorts about animals:
“I got a dog named Leader.
I’m not certain they [the Clinton
White House] have a file on Leader.
He’s a schnauzer. I think he’s been
cleaned. We’ve had him checked by
the vet but not by the FBI or even
the White House. He may be suspect,
but in any event, we’ll get
into that later. Animal rights or
something of that kind.”
That there is an animal
rights activist in the Dole family
may be the best news animal protection
advocates get from a presidential
candidate since Clinton ate vegetarian
burgers, appointed the husband
of a PETA member as a science
advisor, and appointed former
New Mexico public lands chief Jim
Baca to head the BLM during his
first weeks in office. Best known
for throwing the Animal Damage
Control trapping program out of
New Mexico in 1992 for refusing to
check traps every 24 hours, Baca
was ousted due to hook-and-bullet
and rancher pressure almost before
he got unpacked. Clinton began
making a point of eating beef in public,
and it’s been all downhill since.
State largess
Recreational killers are
also grabbing bait at the state level.
I n C a l i f o r n i a, reports
Camilla Fox of the Furbearers
Protection Association, “after successful
passage through the (state)
Senate,” a bill to require that
trapped animals be either released or
killed immediately and humanely
was quashed by “conservative
Republicans” who dominate the
Assembly Parks and Wildlife
In New York, Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver used his
influence to kill a budget rider that
would have legalized snaring
beavers and trapping them in their
lodges, but the Assembly and
Senate passed a bill opening Sunday
hunting in all parts of the state where
it is not already legal, and state senator
William Sears (R-Woodgate)
got a special allocation of $150,000
to enable the White Otter Fish and
Game Club to build a new clubhouse.
Sears was president of the
club before his 1966 election to the
New York senate.
The M i c h i g a n House and
Senate on July 2 placed a referendum
question on the November state
ballot which if approved by more
voters than back a proposed state
ban on baiting bears and hunting
them with hounds, would end the
public right to use referendum measures
to amend state wildlife policy.
Despite getting 164 letters
opposing a coyote season, to just
two in favor, the New Jersey F i s h
and Game Council on June 25 unanimously
voted to let hunters kill up
to 34 coyotes apiece next February.

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