Lord knows I’ve had my share of differences with Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but I’ve got to come to his defense on the subject of varmint hunting. For those of you who may be out of the loop, Mitt is taking a lot of guff in the media over his statements regarding his hunting history, or lack thereof. After characterizing himself a “lifelong hunter” on the campaign trail, Mitt was confronted with the fact that he a. has never had a hunting license and b. has only been hunting twice in his life. In response, Mitt explained that he hunted small game, which didn’t require a license. “I’ve always always been a rabbit and rodent hunter,” he said. “Small varmints, if you will.”
Ah heck, why don’t I just let him tell you himself in his own inimitable style?
Now some of you more cynical types out there may take these fumbling assertions as nothing more than ham-handed and ultimately craven attempts to pander to the basest elements of his right-wing consituency. But nothing could be further from the truth, because I’m here to tell you that varmint hunting is very popular here in Massachusetts. A 2006 survey by the Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation ranked the five most popular outdoor activities in the state as follows:
2. Hunting (varmint)
4. Hunting (small birds, flightless)
5. tie: Ulltimate and Shakespeare under the stars
As you can plainly see, we Baystaters love our varmint hunting almost as much as we love our Shakespeare! And it’s not only varmints. Critters, rodents, scamps, vermin, we hunt them all. Why just last week I was taking a hike on the Robert Frost trail up in the Holyoke range. Of course I had brought along my varmint rifle (a Remington .22, though you may prefer the stopping power of the Kimber mini-Mauser) just in case anything warm and furry crossed my path. Wouldn’t you know it, in less than an hour I’d shot an badger, two squirrels and what I’m pretty sure was a chipmunk. And like Mitt said, the best part is that no license is required. Just head into the hills and blast away!
So I hope now all those media elites snickering at Mitt will give him a break. He’s here, he’s a hunter, get used to it. In fact, Mitt is justifiably famous throughout New England for his Varmint and Root Vegetable Stew (hint: serve it with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon or maybe a peppy Cotes du Rhone).
But it’s not only Mitt. Massachusetts politicians have always been avid hunters. Why else would John Kerry have gone geese hunting in Ohio just two weeks before the 2004 election? If that’s not the sign of a true outdoorsman then I don’t know what is.
Or Mike Dukakis. That’s right, I’m talking the Duke. Big, big hunter. After all, what do you think he was doing in that tank? You guessed it. Hunting. Only it wasn’t varmints he was after. Oh no, he was after bigger game. Some would call it the Ultimate Prey.