Who Hit and Who Missed at the GOP Pheasant Hunt

Presidential candidates armed with guns… now we’re talking politics.

Four GOP contenders for the White House joined Republican Congressman Steve King last weekend in Iowa at the annual pheasant hunt he hosts on opening day of the season.

And just like in politics, some fared better than others. 

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz joined close to 30 other hunters at the Holl N’ The Wall Lodge near the South Dakota border on Saturday. Bobby Jindal arrived on Sunday but there wasn’t enough time for him to participate.

Based on several reports, Ted Cruz seemed natural on the hunting field wielding a Beretta Silver Pigeon II 12-gauge shotgun he said was the exact same as the one he has at home.

Rick Santorum looked comfortable with a Weatherby 20-gauge shotgun even if his aim wasn’t the best. The former Senator from Pennsylvania clearly missed at a pheasant that flushed right in front of him, only for a fellow hunt to finish him off, which brought some ribbing from his partners, according to the Des Moines Register. Soon after, Santorum had redemption with another bird. 

Huckabee, who said he’s been hunting since he was 5-years-old, appeared the most animated in the hunting party on Sunday, sharing quips with reporters. “It’s as dead as elvis,” he said after obliterating one bird. In a more eloquent moment, he reflected on why he enjoys hunting.

“It’s always refreshing when people get together in the world as God made it, it’s hard not to find an extraordinary sense of relaxation, enjoyment, and appreciation of how small we are and how big nature, how big the world really is,”  Huckabee said.

The former Governor of Arkansas also drew criticism from a video the candidate posted where he shoots a bird that’s being released by an assistant. 

“If this is hunting, so is ordering a hot dog,” wrote Albert Burneko who authored a piece on Deadspin criticizing the candidate. 

But a photographer who came along for the hunt defended Huckabee and the actions as typical of flushing a bird by a dog or guide. 

“On guided hunts, the dog will find and point at a bird, and either another dog or the guide (seen here) will flush it,” wrote Mark Kauzlarich on Twitter.

You be the judge in the video below: