Dick Cheney, fearless hunter:

"We saw this outlook taken to the extreme last December in the unfortunate example of Vice President Dick Cheney, when he and some Texas friends made for the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania. No need for tramping fields and hedgerows at Rolling Rock; like hundreds of other "gentlemen's shooting clubs" in America, it's designed for the prosperous sportsman on a tight schedule. In the hunting equivalent of a driving range, Mr. Cheney and his nine companions simply waited in blinds as gamekeepers released pen-raised pheasants directly in front of them.

A witness to one of the vice president's earlier hunts described to me how gamekeepers shook the cages to dizzy the birds before release, though apparently such measures were unnecessary here. The only challenge of marksmanship, one imagines, was trying to see through a cloud of feathers filling the air as a total of 417 pheasants were shot in a single morning, 70 by the vice president himself. This was followed, after the gentlemen had lunched, by more heroics at the expense of hundreds of tame mallard ducks."

Tame ducks, caged pheasants. All this recent hunting hullaballoo has put me in mind of another heir to the throne from former times who was fond of both buckshot and beaters and who came to a rather bad end. Chap by the name of His Royal Highness Archduke Franz Ferdinand as it happens. Used to lay up at Konopiste castle, one of his country properties just down the street to the south of Prague, where the hunting was pretty fair. If you visit the main hall there you can see the mortal remains of a representative selection of the estimated 300,000 animals he bagged, and "...that translates to an incredible 20 animals a day, every day, for 40 years. Only 1% of his total hunting collection is on display, and it still ranks as one of Europe's largest collections."

One of? I want to know whose was bigger. The old ruling classes certainly did know how to spend their time usefully. If Cheney needs an inferiority complex, send him over.

Steve | 01:42 |